Monday, May 31, 2010

The Bath

I've been told that eventually children are able to give themselves a bath or take a shower alone.  I've also heard they come to a point where they can properly brush their teeth and consistently do a solid job wiping themselves after using the toilet.  Right now those days seem very, very far away.

We've still got the little guy in a baby tub and the babe takes showers standing up (with my husband's assistance). Our rental house has less than smashing bathrooms and the babe doesn't even want to sit in the tub for a bath (I don't blame her one bit).

Tonight is hair washing night, and it always takes a bit longer and involves more tears than normal nights.  We only do the kids hair twice a week as it is such a process and neither kid particularily enjoys the experience.  We keep telling the babe that one day she'll be paying someone at a salon to wash her hair.  And although she's experienced a salon wash once before, she doesn't seem to appreciate the beauty of having another human massage soapy suds and warm water on one's head.

At least we can rest assured that our kids are truly clean one time every 24 hours.  I suppose we won't always be able to say that with confidence.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Music Truck

Today is the day the "music truck" became the "popsicle truck." 

Since the weather has warmed up, the ice cream truck has been driving through the neighborhood every night.  I had convinced the babe last summer that the truck was a "music truck" because it blares its child friendly songs as it drives slowly around the 'hood searching for dessert deprived children.

We always stop when we here it and watch it drive by.  And I have always felt terrible when I see it stop for the neighborhood kids and not for my daughter.  Having a child with a dairy allergy makes you see everything in a different light, and the music truck has always been one of those things.

But today we changed things.  When we heard the music truck coming the babe stationed herself on the front lawn to watch it drive by.  An idea flashed across my brain...perhaps they have non-dairy, non-tree nut, non-peanut, non-sesame, non-egg type treats?!  So I ran up to the passing truck to wave him down.

And guess what?  He had a few options for us....some yummy sugary, multi-coloured, high fructose corn syrup special treats (the kind I never ever buy).  So we dropped the 2 bucks and got the babe her first music truck treat.  We took a picture so we could remember this awesome moment.

She didn't finish the popsicle, but you could tell it made her day.  Just seeing her face light up made me want to wave down the popsicle truck at least once a week.  After all, we all deserve something special on the weekends.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I'm Not Giving Up

I didn't mean to be so dramatic yesterday, but some days are just plain old hard.

Luckily today was a good day.

My husband and I have had a few more thoughts on my daughter's monsoon meltdowns:
  • We're going to speak with her school and ask them to report to us whether or not she slept at nap time.  This will help us gage if there is a correlation between her acting crazy when she comes home and not having slept at school that day.
  • I realized I had hidden the babe's pacifiers yesterday, and every time she was struggling to calm down and keep it together she would go upstairs in search of her comfort and wasn't able to find it.  I deliberately kept them hidden as I was mad and didn't feel she deserved them.  I am not going to hide them and see if that helps keep her a little more in check.
  • The babe has been complaining off an on of leg pain.  I took her to the shoe store on Thursday to see if perhaps she had out grown her shoes and this was causing her physical pain, which was in turn causing her mental and emotional pain.  But no.  She's in the right shoe size.  I am going to follow up with the pediatrician and have her legs and feet looked at (she does have a varicose vain on her right leg).  Perhaps there is something we're not seeing. 
  • My husband and the babe did some puppet play today and it seemed to be an effective way to communicate about how to treat others.  I have heard this can be a helpful tool for some children to communicate, so I may just Google it and learn some more.
In the meantime, thanks for bearing with me as I struggle through this.  The day will come where I write about light and fun things, but for now, I am focused on the task at hand.  Onward and upward.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Strong Will

It's hard to know what's normal.  I've never had a 3.5 year old before.  But I find myself wondering if it's really meant to be this hard.

For the past 2 days the babe has pushed me to the edge, and I honestly have felt like jumping off of it (no, not literally).  But I know if I give in, the situation will deteriorate beyond the safety zone.  I have been encouraging her to use her words, explain what the problem is, and I keep asking her questions about what is making her mad.  I am committed to giving her more love, more hugs, and more attention in general.  Sometimes these methods works, and sometimes they don't.  And sometimes the little guy and I get hit or scratched, and sometimes we don't.  Something has to give.

It seems she's almost bipolar, which shouldn't surprise me as I've heard that said about this age group.  She can be the sweetest, most caring and considerate little girl.  I am so proud of her abilities and her way of dealing with projects, people, and changes.  But when the tide turns, it turns fast and furious.

I have convinced myself she is just spirited, strong willed, and has some problems with anger management.  But sometimes I worry that it may be more.

I've got a call into a child/family therapist recommended by our pediatrician.  She apparently sees families one on one and also runs seminars on a variety of child rearing related issues including anger management (for both children and their parents).  Unfortunately she is out until the end of June.

Until then I have ordered Setting Limits With Your Strong Willed Child (a recommendation from someone in the know).

Every day is a new day.  Every day I vow to try.  I just hope my little girl is willing to try as well.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

That Song

There's this song I love.  I never hear it and I don't know where the CD is.  But I found myself humming it the other day as I was washing dishes.

Today a funny thing happened.  I was returning some stuff at LL Bean and as I walked in, this song started.  I can't help but think that it means something.  The song is Anchorage by Michelle Shocked (Mercury, 1988).  Here are the lyrics, for those of you who are interested:

"I took time out to write to my old friend
I walked across that burning bridge
I mailed my letter off to Dallas but her reply came from
Anchorage, Alaska

She said, Hey girl it's about time you wrote
It's been over two years, my old friend
Take me back to the days of the foreign telegrams
And the all night rock and rolling
Hey Chel we was wild then

Hey Chel you know it's kinda funny
Texas always seems so big
But you know you're in the largest state in the Union
When you're anchored down in Anchorage

Hey girl I think the last time I saw you
Was on me and Leroy's wedding day
What was the name of that love song you played?
I forgot how it goes
I don't recall how it goes

Anchored down in Anchorage
Leroy got a better job so we moved
Kevin lost a tooth, he's started school
I've got a brand new eight month old baby girl
I sound like a housewife
Hey Chel, I think I'm a housewife

Hey girl what's it like to be in New York?
New York City, imagine that
What's it like to be a skateboard punk rocker?
Leroy says send a picture
Leroy says hello
Leroy says keep on rocking, girl
Keep on rocking"

This song says so much to me.  And if you've never heard it, you should try and track it down because just reading the lyrics doesn't do it justice.  I suppose I understand it a lot more now than when I first fell in love with it.  Because the realization that you sound like a housewife can be pretty overwhelming.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Where are Those Words?

The little guy is remarkably cute.  He has a great smile and gives awesome hugs (he will sometimes pat your back as he's hugging).  He has the sweetest dancing technique and is very good at pointing at what he wants.  He has got "Mama," "Papa," and "Hi" down pat.  Ask him what a lion says, and he roars.  When he sees a dog he points and starts barking.  But when I ask him to repeat pretty basic words like "up" or "down," I get the "ahh" sound. 

I know kids develop at different rates, but at what age should I worry that he's not picking up vocab and putting it to good use?  Not to compare my children, but the babe was pretty amazing in the verbal department (and still is).  If I don't start seeing some progress soon, this will be at the top of my list of questions at the next pediatrician appointment.

In other news, the babe was a true gem today.  It was a pleasure being her Mom and her behavior was pretty stellar.  We headed back down to the "gym" (our basement) for another round of afternoon activities.  In the past 24 hours I have hidden the broken door, set up our new basketball net and T-Ball contraption and put down some more padding on the floor.  The gym is starting to take shape and I think both kids really dig it.  Hopefully things will continue on the up and up.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stay-at-Home Hockey Wife

And so it comes to an end.

The many nights of dedicated hockey watching.  The little superstitious acts performed to ensure the team a win.  The afternoons filled with activities designed to control the kids and keep them away from the TV.  The highs and the lows.  The hopes and dreams of winning the Stanley Cup. 

The hockey season has never been so long in my home.  There were 19 extra play off games watched in our living room (it has been called a "fairy tale run").  The team has not gone this far in the play offs since 1993 (my husband and I only met in 2003).  But last night was the end of the line for the Montreal Canadiens.

I am sad to see my husband lose his good friends; Cammalleri, Gionta, Kostitsyn, Plekanek, Halak, Markov, Bergeron, Gill, Spacek and Lapierre.  These guys have become household names and will be missed.

I now hang up my "Hockey Wife" hat and return to a life where evening plans revolve more around comedy and drama and less around sports.

Go Habs Go!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Basement

I suppose we all have our bad days.  But from 5:00 pm to about 6:40 pm was a very rough patch for the kids and I.

Following my new parenting philosophy, "try harder," I had our after-school activities all planned out.  I had even explained them to the babe on the way to school so she'd know what to expect in afternoon.

The plan:
  • water the vegetable garden 
  • prepare pineapple for a snack
  • play sports in the basement
  • have dinner
  • watch some relaxing and educational television 
I spent a chunk of the day cleaning and organizing the basement in preparation for our activities.  With the weather getting hotter and the bugs coming out of hiding, the basement is becoming increasingly appealing.

Basement activities:
  • jumping on trampoline
  • kicking soccer ball around
  • bowling set
  • baseball set (both heavily padded)
  • practicing dribbling the basketball (our new toddler basketball net should be arriving this week)
  • rocking thingy
  • giggling in the tent
Our basement was gutted last summer after we discovered a mold infestation (good times).  Well, the renovation job wasn't top of the line, to put it nicely.  And after all the effort I put into trying to make the basement cleaner, safer and generally more appealing, I was reminded of how dangerous crappy workmanship can be.

Our plan was moving along smoothly and we were having a grand 'ole time downstairs.  The babe and I were kicking the soccer ball back and forth and the little guy was moving randomly from activity to activity.  He decided to join his sister closer to the washer and dryer and touched the sliding door in front of the washer (I was also doing laundry).  And BOOM.  The whole door fell off the track and came slamming down to the floor.  I don't know exactly what happened or how my little boy managed to not be crushed by the door, but today we realized, yet again, how precious life is.

The little guy was screaming, and the babe started screaming and I frantically tried to assess if my boy's foot had been broken and if we needed to go to the hospital.  His leg was scraped, as was his foot, but considering what could have happened, we got off easy. I'm guessing he must have moved out of the way (quick kid!). 

I was hugging both of them and telling them everything was going to be OK.  I called my husband at work and while I was trying to explain what had just happened, the babe started screaming again and threw the plastic bowling ball at me.

I've noticed that she freaks out when the little guy gets hurt and I have to tend to him.  This was just further proof that we have a jealousy issue on our hands and I have to be diligent in my efforts to give equal attention to both of them.  It's just not as easy as it sounds, especially when a door has nearly crushed your 17 month old baby (today is his 17 month b-day, and yes, I know, he's not a baby anymore).

Sadly the babe was a nightmare until my husband got home.  It brought me to my knees and had me wishing I could rewind to the afternoon when I was working on the basement so I could take down the crappy door.  I really should have checked how secure it was before encouraging our play date down there (especially as the kitchen cupboard just fell on me 2 weeks ago!).  Baby proofing 101, right?  

Your whole life can change from one minute to the next.  And I'm eternally grateful that this was another learning experience, and not a call to 911.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Our Date

She looked so beautiful.  My daughter.  Splashing in the water.  Her eyes sparkling, her smile wide and bright and her giggles infectious.  We were in a pool with a kazillion other kids and parents, but it felt like we were in a happy little water bubble together. 

Today the babe and I went on our first mother-daughter swimming date.  Just her and I.  I thought we needed something special to do that we could look forward to every weekend.  I wanted to plan something we could do together that was fun, active and easy.  While we have sporadically gone on dates in the past, I have not been good about ensuring they occur with any regularity.  And they certainly haven't been anything as cool as swimming.

There is an amazing indoor public pool in our neighborhood and I have only taken advantage of it once (with the little guy).  It has been a long time since the babe and I swam together and I want to teach her to love and respect the water.  I grew up in the pool and have always felt at home in the water.  And watching the babe today it was clear that she is ready to embrace it as well. She kept kicking, moving her arms and copying the other kids who were swimming without their parent's help.  She was brave and dunked her head under the surface numerous times.  It scared the you know what out of her but she did it again and again.

When it was time to go, we bundled up in our towels, thanked the lifeguard, showered together, and got dressed.  There were no tantrums or melt downs of any kind. 

As we got ready, we chatted with another mother and daughter (although about 20 years older than us) in the change room.  Turns out they too had been on a swim date.  We discussed the importance of remembering all the things you need for trips to the pool (I had forgotten a critical piece of my wardrobe).  And strangely enough we later bumped into them at Starbucks. Apparently this is a mother-daughter date we can enjoy for many years to come.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Letting Go

This week, as you know, I have been trying harder with the babe.

I am trying to be more affectionate, positive, encouraging, patient, loving and supportive.  Since the little guy was born almost 1.5 years ago, I think I have not given the babe the attention she deserves.  No one is perfect, but I think I owe the babe more.

As her favorite words are "I want to do it," I have been letting go more and letting her do "it," whatever "it" is.  I am trying to take a step back so that she can learn and feel needed.  I am trying to let go of my inner control freak, and to embrace being a Mom who lets her kids learn through trial and error.

On Wednesday I hosted my book club, and I got the babe involved in getting ready.  She helped cut the pita, transfer olives into a bowl, and fold napkins.  These tasks took a really long time, but I could tell they made her feel important.  That was a good feeling.

Last night I let her water our new garden. The promise of watering the garden was the only thing that made our trip home from school pleasant.  She knew what we were going to do and she was into it.  I had also promised she could help prepare the corn on the cob.  So we sat on the floor and peeled the corn skins back and made a big mess.  The babe was involved in making dinner, and she liked it.  And you know what, I liked it to.

What I'm realizing is that I have to keep trying.  I have to keep thinking up projects for her.  I have to keep her involved and active.  I have to let her make mistakes.  And I have to learn to let go.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Just in from watering the garden with the babe.  I am really glad we made the effort and got this project going.  It is so good for both of us.  And I happen to have a husband who has an amazing ability to check if I watered the garden every day.  It's funny how nurturing our garden appears to be nurturing our family.  I have a good feeling about this.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I said I was going to try.  And I have spent the whole day thinking and worrying about the babe and my relationship with her.

I was kind of dreading after school today.  As it is a sunny and beautiful day I decided to buck up and bring the kids to the park.  I chose the park by the babe's school where I knew there would be kids she knew.  I also made her promise she wouldn't freak out and have a tantrum when it was time to leave.  She agreed.  We even chose a special word that I could use to indicate that I was serious.

Within 5 minutes of getting there the little girl who the babe bit on Tuesday showed up with her Mom.  I was nervous as I am still bothered by the babe's behavior and suspension.  The girls noticed each other and automatically started playing together.  The bitee's Mom came over and we started chatting.  I couldn't stop looking at her daughter's wrist.  That's because her daughter's wrist was bruised and had a small healing scab.  I couldn't stop thinking that my daughter's teeth had caused that damage.  But if you looked at the 2 of them together you'd never guess that such an incident had just occurred. 

I took the opportunity to thank the Mom for how she had handled the babe's apology yesterday morning.  She reassured me not to worry and that all was well.  It gave me the power to get over it....because apparently everyone else has.

And when it was time to go, I told the babe, and she came over and hopped in the stroller.  No complaints.  In fact it was the little guy who freaked out this time.  I'm glad I tried. And I'm glad she tried. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Brand New Day

From the comments I received from you all, I feel like I'm not alone.  My daughter may appear to be bipolar at times, but she is actually just a normal 3.5 year old.  Thank God for that.  And thank you for sharing your experiences with me. 

I just got off the phone with the Director of the babe's school.  I have struggled all day with how to handle the biting/physical outbursts issue.  I thought about calling the pediatrician to see if they knew of any anger management classes for 3 year olds.  I thought about scheduling an official sit down meeting with the babe's school.  Instead I just picked up the phone and called.  I was transferred to the Director immediately and she spent 10 minutes talking to me. 

To sum it all up, they think the babe is a super intelligent, sweet, and charismatic girl who is in a period of transition.  She has only been in school since September and this has been a big change for her.  Especially as she bumped up to the full day program in January.  I need to take the time to be with her one on one and let her know just how special she is to me.  She knows the little guy and I are alone together all day and she is jealous.  After 2 years of having me all to herself, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.  Her brain is also exploding with knowledge and sometimes it's just plain overwhelming.

My husband and I have spoken to her at length about yesterday's behavior.  We have gone over the need to use our words, control our bodies, take deep breaths, and to stop and think.  We have explained that hands are not for hitting and mouths are not for biting.  And we have told her we love her and know she is a good girl.

The staff at the school approached today as a brand new day with the babe.  They were all positive and loving and I felt so good about leaving her with them.  On the way to school we ran into the mother of the little girl the babe bit.  I was nervous, but she was gracious, kind and supportive.  When the babe apologized to her, she could not have handled it better.

Today IS a brand new day and I am going to try and handle it as such.  I want that little girl to feel loved, even if that means I have to internalize my running commentary.  I have to accept that I need to pick my battles, and running around at full speed with a crocodile xylophone is not something worth yelling over.  It takes 2 to tango and I think that if I'm asking her to try harder, I have to be willing to do the same.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I don't know whether to laugh (the hysterical kind) or cry.  Today has been one of those days.

I was given the finger by a father dropping his kid off at the local elementary school because I was apparently driving to slow (it's 15 mph by the school, dude).  He was tailing me, then honked at me, then zoomed over to the drop off lane.  I then honked at him, stopped my car and rolled down the window to yell at him.  I yelled something like, "there's children walking everywhere and the speed limit is 15mph, buddy!!!"  And maybe I said it a few times because he was waving his fat middle finger around at me and gesturing for me to get out the car so we could brawl on the streets.  Nice.  Gotta love DC.

Then I get a call on my cell while driving home from music class with the little guy.  It's the director of the babe's school. Needless to say my heart sunk and I was expecting her to tell me the babe was having an allergic reaction and I needed to meet them at Children's Hospital.  But no.  The director informed me I had to come pick my daughter up as she had bitten her little class mate.  Apparently a rather nasty bite.

So we headed to school, picked her and came home for lunch.  There was screaming, hitting and general chaos for the whole ride home.  The next hour was painful as I tried to get her to lie down for a nap and not wake up her brother.  I finally succeeded and she's asleep now.

But I am not looking forward to the rest of our "punishment day."  I need to occupy both of them until bed time as there will be no fun things like TV and dessert.  It is still gray and rainy, and that is how I feel inside.

My 3.5 year old has been suspended and I am at a loss.  I need to get it through her head that she can never do this again. I can't even imagine handling an expulsion.  If she hadn't abused me yesterday I would feel more confident that we could get this back on track easily.  But after a tantrum while we were out running a quick errand after school, I am a tad concerned the babe has some serious anger management issues (she hit, kicked and slapped me and then pulled my hair as I was trying to get her in the car seat).  She lashes out quite frequently and it ends up hurting us all.  The little guy has witnessed enough of this behavior that he's starting to think it's normal and is copying some of it. 

I feel like I need Nanny 911.  And now I hear my little guy waking from his nap, so I will let you go.  Any tips are welcome.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Up Side of Monday

My favorite time of the week used to be Friday at about 5:00 pm.  No need to explain that one.

I am sad to say that my new favorite time of the week is now Monday at 9:30 am.  While I used be filled with dread at the thought of Monday morning, it has now become the time I look forward to.

Don't get me wrong, I love the feeling of anticipation that I have on late Friday afternoons, because there are always some great parts of every weekend.  I especially love the evenings when my husband and I get to hang out after the kids are in bed and the pizza is ordered.  I always stay up a bit later and we try and catch up on all the good TV stuff we've taped but don't get to watch during the week.  It's the little things that make it special.

But I really love the return to peace and calm in my life by Monday morning.  Catching up on laundry, shopping, dishes, and all the mundane stuff is quite rewarding for me and makes me feel good.  Who would have ever thought I'd say that!

I also love the fact that the little guy and I get to hang out alone with each other.  Despite his young age, he really is a very good companion.  His needs are simple and he is fairly willing to let me direct our activities.

So here's to Monday mornings....even when they are wet and gray like today.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In The Ground

Today was the day.

I got over my fear and went to the gardening store where I bought 3 tomato plants, 2 cucumber plants, and a red pepper and purple pepper plant.  I also got some yummy organic top soil.

The babe and I then had a hard core gardening session.  We worked the soil (for the third time), ripped out left over weeds, and then dug holes and planted the little veggie plants.  After about 2 hours of non-stop gardening related action, we stood back and basked in our glory.  Seven plants in the ground.  How cool is that?  I'll post pics for you soon.

I have never had a vegetable garden and neither has the babe.  It is a first for both of us and I'm so excited we get to do this together.  I will be thrilled if we actually get some real food out of all this!  If anything, it brought us closer together (even if it was only for a few hours) and created a bonding bubble of gardening bliss.

Needless to say, my back is aching and I'm wiped.  Time for a hot shower and some delicious sleep.  I'd like to think it is well deserved!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's a Love/Hate Thing

I don't talk about it in public, but the babe still uses a pacifier at night and at nap time.  She has 3 at all sleep-related times.  She's got one in her mouth and one in each hand.  Then there is a back up one on her dresser, just in case.  This kid has an oral fixation, no doubt.  Sometimes during the day, she'll go upstairs claiming she's tired, and I know she's just going up for a hit.  It's like she's a closet smoker.

We have thought about cutting her off so many times.  We've had a few short experiments but haven't held out.  The pacifiers, which she calls "baas," are her security blanket.  She never had a favorite stuffed animal or doll.  But she has always had her baas.

I find them gross as they get smelly and make her face crusty in the morning.  And I find the addiction annoying as she comes into our room at night when she can't locate all of them.  In fact, we can't even put her to sleep if she has momentarily lost sight of any of them.  But they calm her down and make her happy, so what are we to do?

The dentist has reassured us that it's OK.  She's going to need braces regardless, and there's no point going through the agony of cutting her off.  So, we are just going to wait for it to happen naturally.  She won't go off to college with a baa in her suitcase.

We tried to avoid creating another pacifier monster with our second child.  But the little guy has liked his pacifier since day one.  He used to be OK with 1 baa.  Then he upped it to 2.  And now we are at 3.  When I sit with him in the rocking chair after bath time, he points at the pacifiers on the table and whines until I pass them to him.  He will transfer the baa in his mouth into his hands when he wants milk, and then plug it right back into his mouth when he's done. After our bedtime reading, he lies down in his crib with a baa in his mouth, and one in each hand, just like his sister.

The pacifier has an amazing ability to make our life better, even if our children's dependence on it is frustrating.

Apparently it will be a love/hate thing for us for some time to come. 

Friday, May 14, 2010


I'd like to share some wisdom from my almost 3.5 year old daughter.

Yesterday I gave in and took the kids to the park after school.  While we were driving over to the "hill park," there was a whole ton of traffic.  It was annoying traffic and apparently I was grumbling about it.  I asked, out loud, "WHY is there SO MUCH traffic in DC??" 

Behind me I heard, "Because everyone wants to go somewhere, Mama."

Right.  Thanks, honey.

The Front Lawn

Remember yesterday when I went on and on about how challenging our front lawn is (getting the kids from the car to the front door)?  Well most days this is the truth.  But because I wrote about it yesterday, and because my brother and sister-no-law (SNL) are in town visiting, I have to take it back (but just for today).

We had a most amazing time on the front lawn today.  Shoes were off, the kids were running around in the grass screaming with joy, and my bro and SNL were chasing them all around the place.  My hubby also took the day off and was working the soil in the garden a little more.

It made me so happy to have the space to enjoy the crazy summer weather, and to bask in the joy of my awesome family. 

Friday afternoon with 4 adults and 2 kids is a lot easier to handle than Friday afternoon with 1 adult and 2 kids!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How Sweet It Is

Remember I told you about my daughter's amazing Mother's Day creation?  Well here's the picture I promised.  How cool is that?  I don't think any of my tops will do this justice!

The Distance

I don't know if I've told you, but the distance between the street (where we park) and our front door is immense...and not just in kid adult terms.  It takes a few serious trips to get groceries, assorted bags and children in the door safely. As much as I don't get structured workouts, I do haul a whole lotta weight up and down our path on a daily basis.

Lately I've been having a seriously difficult time getting both kids into the house.  We get back from wherever we've been, and the babe automatically runs off onto the lawn, or the porch, or to her gardening tools, the chalk, or the stray soccer ball which is always hanging around.  Then the little guy jerks himself out of my arms because he wants in on the action too (I miss those infant car seat days).  At this point I usually REALLY have to go to the bathroom, am pretty dehydrated, and want either a coffee or a glass of wine (or both, just to cover all my bases).  But the kids want to play, and what Mother doesn't want her kids to play?

Some days I suck it up and let them run amok (this is probably not going to help my bladder in the long run).  Other days I drag them in the front door kicking and screaming (literally) so I can take shoes off, carry/guide them upstairs to go to the bathroom, and then back downstairs where we put shoes back on, and then head out (without coffee or wine). 

The nice weather is a really big hit and I feel guilty when I force them inside.  And I really am trying to avoid temper tantrums which usually involve the babe yelling "...but I DON'T WANT TO BE INSIIIIIIDE."  Sometimes I just have to drag them in because I have too much to do. I end up making a bunch of special art project and snack related promises to the babe to try and ease the transition (it doesn't always work).  And at this point I've also probably been yelling at them to get inside and counting to 3 so many times the neighbors must think I'm a mad woman.

When we moved here I was so jazzed about all the yard space and possibilities for endless exploration.  And I am still psyched to have it.  I just wish I could shrink the distance between the car and our front door on the days that I DON'T WANT TO BE OUTSIIIIIIDE!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Don't Want to be Like Them, Anyway

Today I drove by about 15 women doing standing push ups against a stone wall as their new babies sat in strollers watching.  I was driving (not walking) back from the grocery store where I had just bought a lot of wine, chocolate, milk, strawberries and ground turkey.  They were all healthy looking in their tank tops and shorts and I almost had to pull over the car to catch my breath.  These are sleep deprived Moms who are making time to get their game back on.

I did feel a tad guilty as my jeans are slightly tighter since I stopped breastfeeding 2 months ago.  Not burning all those calories anymore has taken a bit of a toll. 

But I am not going to beat myself up, because as much as I know I should be participating in more structured fitness sessions, I just can't make the time right now.  I could if I tried, but I am trying at other, less physically strenuous things. 

One day I may be organized enough to pull it off, but for now I'm not, and that's OK.  

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Today's message: if you're looking to buy or rent a new house, get one with a bathroom on the main floor.  We have been in our place for about a year and a half, and almost every day of that year and a half I have wished we had a bathroom on the main floor. 

I can not explain how often I hold it in because it is too much of a hassle to run upstairs with a child to use the facilities.  And I cannot tell you how many times the babe has interrupted dinner by announcing she has to go pee, really bad....RIGHT NOW.  The little guy and I then have to drop what we're doing (him eating, and me trying to keep up with the food production) and all get up the stairs safely so we can support the babe's important task. 

Potty training when there is no bathroom readily available is also an issue, and while we're generally in the clear with the babe, the little guy will be next in line and I hear boys are harder than girls.  I suppose I should start mentally preparing for it now to lighten the future mental load.

On another note, I also look forward to the day when we have kitchen cupboards that don't fall off.  Last week I tightened some screws on one of our cupboards because I noticed the door wasn't shutting properly.  I was so proud of myself for whipping out the screw driver and taking care of business myself.  Apparently I didn't really take care of business because this afternoon when I went to grab a plate, I ended up grabbing the whole door off the frame.  About 20 pounds of wood came crashing down on my shoulder, then my leg, and then the floor.  I am feeling pretty stiff and now have a big open concept cupboard.  I am just SO GRATEFUL the kids were not in the kitchen with me, because I don't even want to think of the damage it could have caused to their little bodies.  Yet another close call.

The contractor was here again today working on our plumbing issues and will apparently be here for another 5 hours tomorrow installing new faucets and some new thing a ma jig for the toilets upstairs (I wish he was installing a new bathroom on the main floor!).  I am sadly foreseeing an interrupted nap for the little guy, but am looking forward to being able to turn off taps properly and not having toilets running constantly.  While I recently wrote that naps are sacred, I have to add that conserving water is also sacred!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mud Magic

As a parent of small children, I have had to accept a new level of dirt and yuckiness in my life.  I wipe up tables, floors, counters, faces, and bums constantly.  I launder clothing daily and wash 3 pairs of hands compulsively.  This is all part of the job, and I've accepted that it is a phase, not a permanent state.  I try to be level headed and keep it in perspective.  A little dirt is OK. 

Today we continued project "create a garden."  After working on the weed patch in front of our house yesterday for a good chunk of the late afternoon, we were not at the point of being able to plant anything when we headed inside for dinner.  And guess what, we were still not at a point where we can plant anything when we headed into dinner tonight.  But I got some more weeds round up, the babe got to use her new rake and "work the soil," and the little guy got to sit in the dirt and eat chunks of mud as if the soil patch was a field of strawberries.  I've heard it's good for kids to eat dirt, but I'll admit I was slightly disturbed.

After she got bored with digging, the babe had a "magic" session where she would bring a bucket of dirt to the hose, add water, and create....yep, you guessed it, mud.  She kept calling it "magic," and I honestly believe that she thought it was magic.  How cool to think making mud is so bloody special.  How cool to be able to eat mud with such giggling gusto.

I sometimes forget how very young my children are, and I admit my expectations are pretty high.  Watching them muck around with something so simple made me take a step back and remind myself that they have been on the planet such a short time, and perhaps I should be trying to look at things through their eyes more often.

It's after 9:30 pm and the laundry is still going, but the fact that all four of us have gotten pretty dirty in the past few days makes it well worth it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Another Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day, folks!  I hope it was a good one.  I must admit I am feeling internal pressure to write a thoughtful entry to mark this special day.

It has been 3 years since I first wrote about Mother's Day  (my first ever blog post in 2007).

Then there was my second Mother's Day post.

And last year I celebrated my third Mother's Day.

To tell you the truth, I am just too tired to write an entry that will do this Mother's Day justice.  It was a great weekend and I am super grateful for my 2 yummy kids and my sweet husband.  One of my favorite parts of the day was drinking champagne and having a dance party with the kids (they were drinking soy milk) to our new Zydeco CD from the library.  Throw in a little chips and guacamole and we definitely had our own little celebration going on.

My daughter made me the most beautiful pin and I am going to take a picture of it and post it for you all to see.  It is stunning and I am so proud of her emerging artistic talent.  I'm also blown away by her ability to write and spell (her card was super sweet).  Time is flying and my babies are growing up too fast.

Thanks you to all the Moms in my life who have made this journey so unbelievable and bearable.  And thanks to my own Mom who created such a special family and is the glue that holds us together.  Much love to you all, Mamas.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Nap Time is Sacred, Man

I have 5 minutes to get a blog post up and get to bed or I will turn into a pumpkin.

It was a busy Saturday, and out of all the stories from our day that I could share, I'm going to write about respecting nap time.

Yesterday I waited around the house for a number of hours expecting a contractor to come by to work on the toilet and sink in the master bedroom.  He never showed up and only called to say he wasn't going to be able to make it 3 hours and 45 minutes after he was supposed to be here.  That is just not cool.

He asked if he could reschedule so I told him he could come by at 3:00 pm today.  My husband was off playing squash and I had gotten the kids to bed for nap time.  I decided to work on the nasty patch of dead weeds in front of our porch.  I've had grand ideas of creating a garden, but haven't found time to start ripping everything out.  I decided today was the day and headed out with a shovel and gloves. 

At about 2:00 pm, a van pulls up and 2 guys get out.  I ignore them because we always have work guys on the street as our neighbors have been expanding their house since February.  But these guys start getting stuff out of the truck and walking up our front path.

I said hello with a questioning tone and they introduced themselves.  I replied that they were supposed to be here at 3:00 pm, not 2:00 pm.  They said they had managed to make it early and asked if they could start working on the plumbing.  I told them my kids were sleeping upstairs and that's why I had scheduled them to come for 3:00 pm.

So they went back to their van and waited.  When the babe and little guy woke up, I let the contractors into the house (they were both asleep when I walked down and tapped on the van window).  They had waited for about 35 minutes, and I was OK with that.

I was not going to mess up my kids nap, and if they thought I was a b#@%*, I didn't really care.  A few years back I probably would have just let them in even though it was an inconvenience.  But I'm glad I'm grown up enough now to stand up for the little things.  Because the little things count.

Friday, May 7, 2010

My Message

My husband caught up on my recent blogs last night after watching his hockey game (which, the Montreal Canadiens won!).  He had some comments for me first thing this morning.  I'm not a morning person so I don't think I appeared grateful for his constructive criticism.  The most important point was that each post should have a "message."  Ten years ago I graduated with a journalism degree, and mentally looking back on my studies, I'd have to say he has a pretty good point (thanks, honey).  But I also remember the importance of "story telling."  I just have to focus on getting my message into my storytelling and I should be off to the races.

Today's message is on SAFETY.  I have been meaning to write about safety for some time, and today is as good a day as any to do it.

A few weeks ago someone very close to me was in a car accident.  The other driver was injured and there was damage to both vehicles.  It was a reminder of how quickly things can happen and the importance of always being on top of your surroundings.

A week later, I was involved in a car related incident that took me by surprise.  I was putting the babe in the car (which is my job), and had the door opened behind me (which is necessary when you're leaning into a vehicle trying to buckle a toddler into a car seat).  I was startled when I heard a sharp bang sound and turned around to see a car slowing down and pulling over.  While I was leaning into our car, this other driver had managed to slightly drive into my open car door in an attempt to avoid an oncoming car.  So, instead of stopping, this flake clips my door and comes pretty darn close to hitting me.  The car was fine (just a super small mark), but I was rattled.  Just another reminder of how careful we need to be and how quickly things can change.

Moving on to fire safety.  As you may recall, we had a nightmare experience with fire in our own home last summer.  A fan caught fire in the little guy's room when he was asleep in his crib with the door shut.  Just thinking about it makes me want to disintegrate into a puddle of emotion.  But what I have been telling people is to INSTALL SMOKE DETECTORS IN YOUR CHILDREN'S BEDROOMS!  And after watching one of the parents on Parenthood close their child's bedroom door on this week's episode, I was reminded that I also want to suggest that you DON'T CLOSE BEDROOM DOORS!  It may just be that I have become a paranoid freak, but even with a smoke detector, having the bedroom door shut just gives me the willies.  I will never forget opening my son's bedroom door and walking into an oscillating fan on fire, a room filled with smoke, and my beautiful little baby boy screaming his heart out. 

I hope today's message on SAFETY helps someone out.  

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Job

Tonight I overheard my husband and daughter talking about work.  My husband was telling the babe that both women and men work.  He was explaining that some people's Mamas go to work in an office every day, just like he does.  He then said that I (Mama) work as well and proceeded to ask the babe what my job is.  "To bring us to the car," she immediately replied.  That pretty much sums it up. 

Thank You

This is a quick note of thanks to all my friends who wrote such lovely comments on my pride wounding post.  Thanks for reading, and thanks for writing.  You're all awesome and I'm grateful to have you in my life.

And thanks as well to those of you I don't personally know who take the time to leave comments.  I can't say how much it inspires me.

I Just Wanted to Sleep Tonight

Kids in bed, husband watching hockey, kitchen clean, and I am sitting in bed with the computer.  Time to do my daily blog thing.

Where to start.  I had some excitement this evening when I ran up to the drug store to buy non-Tylenol acetaminophen for the little guy.  Last night was not pretty.  He was up about 5 times which means I was up about 5 times as well.  I had forgotten how very bad it is to be disrupted that many times at night.  But since Tylenol did there big recall last weekend, I had no pain killer for what was an obvious case of teething pain.  So I sucked it up and tried to comfort him as best I could. 

I decided I was not going to have another night like that, so after getting the little guy to bed tonight, I drove up to the 24 hour drug store for the meds (yes, I know, I should have thought of this earlier).  I turned off our street and managed to get stuck behind an 18 wheeler and about 15 cars trailing behind it.  Not a good sign.  I made it up the hill to the drug store and ran to the "Children's Remedy" section.  I couldn't see any acetaminophen.  So I walked back to the pharmacy (which I had called before I left to make sure they had the drugs in stock).  Some guy was asking a bunch of annoying questions like, "and what is folic acid?," and I just sucked it up and waited.  I saw a woman pick up a pregnancy test and internally wished her luck.  Then boom, a piercing alarm sounds and lights start flashing throughout the store.  We all looked at each other with panic in our eyes.  I saw one guy practically jump out of his skin. 

I stood in shock, and then realized there could be a robbery in progress.  Just my luck!  I only wanted some baby meds so I could sleep tonight and of course, there has to be a robbery.  Many, many scary thoughts raced through my mind (like, "I can't die!  I have 2 little kids!").  We all somehow clued in that it was the fire alarm, and as there did not appear to be a fire, we all just stood there.  I couldn't hear myself think, but I managed to ask the pharmacist about the generic brand's location.  I then ran up aisle 9A and located my drugs.  I sped up to the cash....where there was a long line...and tried to hold my ears (it was deafening).  I was then ushered to a self check out by a helpful store employee where I managed to pay for my purchase.

I ran to my car and heard the fire truck sirens fast approaching.  Please, please, please let me get out of the parking lot before the fire trucks get here.  And yes, I pulled it off.  I got outta there and managed make it home in time to read the babe a bed time book (in French, no less).  Now was that all really necessary?  Guess we'll see how tonight goes.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Pride

I think I just let myself feel sorry for myself. It is pretty ridiculous, especially after all my musings about needing to be grateful. Today I managed to get the house ready for the cleaning lady (I broke down when the little guy was born and have her come in every 3 weeks), bring the babe into school, get some quick shopping done at Target (where the little guy managed to get his arm stuck in the shopping cart and create a bit of a dramatic and scary scene), and rush home to deal with the HVAC cleaning guys. Not bad for a Wednesday morning.

The pride wounding happened when I spoke to my husband on his lunch break. He casually mentioned that he had had lunch with one of his his best friends (who happens to work a few blocks from my husband). I also happen to be friends with my hubby's best friend's wife (it's hard not using names all the time!). Like us, they are new parents (although they are "newer" than us and have only one child). My friend is a successful journalist who sometimes gets to write about her experiences in the crazy world of motherhood. Not a bad gig, right?

So, my husband mentions that our friend just wrote about an expensive baby equipment purchase they were thinking of making (Budgeting With a Baby in US News and World Report), and that she had mentioned a store (Giggle) that they had been shopping around in (I just happened to be window shopping there last night). Apparently the founder of this lovely national chain has directly commented on our friend's piece.

It became unbelievably clear to me that although I am writing about my motherhood experiences, no CEOs will be leaving comments on my posts, let alone reading them. And I felt kind of like a loser. Like a career less, boring, errand running, domestic bliss coordinator.  My husband didn't understand why my mood shifted so quickly (nor did I for that matter).

So I had a little sulk (perhaps you could call it a pity party), heated up my husband's left over hockey pizza from last night (part of my health kick), and sat down to tell you about my feelings. And you know what?  I feel better now. Sometimes we just need to embrace what we have...and that is a lot in my case. And I'll have to forward this to my journalist friend so I don't feel like a crazy mommy blogger! Thanks for reading...and feel free to leave a comment! I always love to hear from you (even if you're not a CEO type).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Yesterday ended with blood all over my shirt sleeve (the little guy had a bad tumble), frazzled nerves (the babe punched me in the face after I dragged her inside to have dinner at 5:30 pm--needless to say, I did not handle it too well), too much wine and coffee in my system and not enough plain 'oll H20.  I keep saying I'm going to drink more water and attempt to be healthier and calmer, and I keep pulling out the red wine with dinner and the dark chocolate for desert.  I suppose they are the "healthy" indulgences in terms of benefits to the system...but it doesn't make up for the lack of water.  But is does make me calmer. 

What I'm really trying to say is that I went to bed a little too late and didn't sleep very well.  As such, I am wiped out today.  And Tuesday is not a day to be wiped out around here.  After bringing the babe into school, the little guy and I hit the grocery store, dropped off the groceries at home, went downtown for music class, came home and had lunch.  He's now napping.  I've cleaned the kitchen, made the beds and should be doing the laundry and packing up for our next outing.  But since I made a promise to blog every day (and I needed to check my email), I decided to sit down and write. 

After nap time we will pick up the babe at school, drive to Bethesda, play at the park and hopefully have a successful soccer experience.  It will be the babe's third time out with her new "team" and coach.  She is doing really well and I think she may be a natural (or perhaps my mommy meter is not exactly accurate).  But really, another soccer Mom actually asked me if the babe had ever played before.  That must mean something, right?

Then we will race back home, eating snacks all the way, and have an unorganized and chaotic dinner and then clock some chill out time in front of the TV before bath time. 

Believe it or not I also have dinner plans, AGAIN!  The Montreal Canadiens are back on the ice tonight so I'm heading out with a good friend for some wining, dining and catching up.  She is pregnant with her first and I am trying to be supportive and honest with her (no one ever told me how hard it was going to be!).  But I do try not to overwhelm her with too many gory details.  Although she's been over to my house enough that if she isn't freaked out yet, I'm not sure what will freak her out!

Anyway, must get back to my domestic bliss....the laundry and preparing my husband's hockey dinner (a healthy pizza concoction) awaits.  Aren't I a good stay at home Mom/Boss of the house??? 

Monday, May 3, 2010


They say you don't know what you've got till it's gone.  How true, how true.  This morning, the power went out.  My heart sunk. Then it came back.  Then it went out again...and stayed out.

From 8:30 am to 1:20 pm, we had no power. This gap in reality has made me realize how much I take electricity for granted.  I felt completely immobilized.  No computer, no music, no radio in the kitchen, no phone, can't open the fridge because I don't want to let the cold air out, can't use the microwave, and oh yeah, the toaster isn't working either.  I was officially roughing it.

So after dropping the babe off at school, the little guy and I went to the grocery store for non-perishable items.  The power was still out when we got home so I decided we should eat a lot of snacks from the cupboard and sit on the floor to play with toys. 

When the little guy's nap time came along I was a tad nervous.  No sound machine to block out the outside noise or fan to circulate the sticky air.  Amazingly he fell asleep without all our usual devices going at full speed.

I called my husband on my very low battery cell and asked him if he had a PEPCO status update and just as he was about to fill me in, the power came back on.  Sweet.  Things are again as they should be. 

How the heck did all those Moms of the past take care of their families without electricity?  In fact, how do all the Moms without electricity take care of their families present day?  Not to mention access to clean drinking water, healthy food, and quality medical care. With Mother's Day coming up, check out UNICEF's Inspired Gifts.  If you're looking for a gift idea for a special Mom in your life, this one would go far to help those Moms who are less fortunate.    

I am so blessed, and sometimes it takes a little inconvenience to just remember to count my lucky stars, even if it has been a gazillion degrees and we're not using our AC until we have the HVAC system cleaned out on Wednesday.  At least I can be hot and sticky with electricity.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mommy Blogging on Roids

For those of you interested in the whole mommy bloggin thing, I just came across this article,  Honey, Don't Bother Mommy, I'm Too Busy Building My Brand, from the New York Times.  I must admit I found it rather intimidating.  I guess I'm the opposite of all the brand reviewing, big add revenue, high traffic mom bloggers.  While I am still committed to my daily posting challenge (I've lasted half a day!), I'm sure not into joining the world of what mommy blogging appears to have become.  I think I'll be sticking with actually writing about my experiences as a stay-at-home Mom, and not over thinking this thing.

The Challenge

As you know, I am a stay-at-home Mom. I don't know how long I plan on doing this, and whenever I start to think about my game plan, I get overwhelmed. I want to take care of my kids, even though many aspects of the job drive me batty. But I am missing something. I thought I would take up swimming last fall, but that didn't happen. I thought it would be good to join a walking club, but that hasn't happened either. And I think a lot about what I want to be when I grow up. But no practical answers have come to me. People say you should identify what you love to do and work out a way to get paid for it. Can I make a living writing? I wouldn't even know where to start (and the fact that my husband always finds typos in my entries is rather troublesome).

So, after watching Julie and Julia last night (it was a "me" night as my hubby was out to dinner with a friend), I am pondering my rather slack commitment to my blog. I love to write, and I'm looking for "something," just like Julie. I'm not about to start cooking up a storm, but I can start to write more. It seems as though lots of folks are getting attention/coverage/movie and book deals these days by doing something extreme and writing about it (for example, see the On a Dollar a Day project).

I am not ready to do anything overly extreme, but I am pondering the idea of writing a blog entry every day. It does not have to be long and insightful, but it could relay a little nugget of my day to you. I have been happy to share my experiences (however inconsistent I have been) over the past few years, and I think writing every day will provide an outlet and a level of discipline I need right now. Luckily I've been a (rather slack) blogger for years so I don't feel like I'm jumping on the band wagon (even if I kinda am). But if I can find my path by hammering out a daily entry, then I'm all for it.

This is not a really well thought out plan, but I am excited about the prospects and the challenge. Hope you're in for the ride. Here we go....