Saturday, October 31, 2009

Playing Favorites

Since I came back from my trip to NC, the kids have invented a new game. When we are getting ready to go out they always ask "Are you going, Mommy?" and when I say yes they dramatically sigh and say "Oh, we don't want YOU to go. Just Daddy. He's more fun" I think that this is their passive aggressive way of saying they are still a little peeved at me for my trip because they did the same thing to Andy for weeks after his trip in August but still, it stings a little. And sometimes I get back at them by making them listen to NPR in the car instead of their Animal Cracker CD. Hey, two can play the passive aggressive game.

Even after 7 years parenting together I still am competing with Andy for the Fun Parent Award. I spend hours and hours training, yet I'm always at a disadvantage. I blame 2 things: one, my terrible aim and two, my weak bladder. My terrible aim came into play in one of the main events in the Fun Parent Olympics: The Bedtime Toss. Andy is a pro, he can spin the kids around and release them at top speed, yet they still land softly and gently on whatever soft surface they are being tossed onto. He makes it look so easy, I was sure I could compete. Then came the night in 2007 when Ace asked me to step in for Andy for his bedtime toss. I did the spin, maybe not as fast as Andy, but still not bad, then the release, then the...THUNK. Ace missed the bed by a good foot and a half and landed on his (Thank God, carpeted) floor with the THUNK. One really embarrassing call to the pediatrician and an icepack later and I knew that my bedtime tossing days were over.
My weak bladder has caused me to be disqualified from countless Tickle Mommy and Jump On her Belly competitions. Let me state for the record that I never have actually wet my pants, but it has still put a swift end to many tickle fights. You can't be the fun parent and the potential pants wetter at the same time.
So no matter how many games of Crazy Eights I play with the kids, no matter how much time I spend pretending to be Freddy from ICarly or staying up late to sew patches on Ace's Fireman costume, I still only get the Silver, never the coveted Gold Medal of Funness.
My niece is only 6 months but my sister already knows my pain. She carried C. for 9 months (and a few extra days), nurses her day and night, cares for her lovingly even when she is sick and exhausted, but still my brother in law is the one rewarded with the biggest grins and all he has to do is walk in the room. I'm not saying that my brother in law isn't a great dad too and he certainly deserves those big grins but come on, what's a mom gotta do to win? Katherine,I suggest you start practicing the toss immediately.

Sometimes being the less fun parent has it's advantages. Like today for example, the kids have requested that Andy take them trick or treating. And someone has to stay home and guard the candy and test it frequently to make sure it is still fresh. I supposed that that is the job of the less fun parent, and that doesn't seem so bad.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Now and Then revisited.

Remember a few days ago when I was having a crazy day but I was feeling so happy and appreciative and blessed? Remember how I was peacefully folding laundry and smiling upon my children as they played happily at my feet? Yeah. That was nice. Today, on the other hand, I yelled at Andy because he had to go to work early, kicked the pumpkin on our front stoop because it tripped me, and told Julia that the Wonderpets were not coming on TV today because they gave mommies headaches. Yeah, today is not my best day.

So, to cheer myself up I'm posting these pictures. Because for some reason beyond my earthly comprehension, God made these children and thought they belonged here with me. Maybe He didn't know they would be exposed to unprovoked pumpkin- kicking. Maybe He didn't know just how much I would need to look at these faces every single day, headache or not. Or, maybe He did.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Then and Now

When I was 20, I was under the pressure of attending classes (a solid 60% percent of the time, I think. And sometimes in my pajamas), student teaching 4 days a week, and keeping my job as the worst waitress in the history of the profession. Every few weeks my roommate and I would take what I felt was a much deserved break and do nothing but sleep past noon, watch movies, drink mountain dew, and eat pringles and peanut m&ms for a day. It was my Do Nothing Day, and it was glorious. College life was good.
Fast forward 11 years, today is Monday and Hayley and Ace are the only ones who have school and there are no extracurricular activities. So from 6-12:30, I have a Do Nothing Morning. Here is a little peek at my morning thus far:
6am-8am: Woke up to Lucy throwing up. Changed sheets. Bathed upset baby. Cuddled upset baby. Tried to convince upset baby that eating my apple cider doughnut may not be the best idea. Failed. Cleaned up regurgitated apple cider doughnut. Called pediatrician to report Lucy's status, pediatrician recommends pedialyte and cutting back on the doughnuts.
8am-10am: Breakfast for big kiddos, tried to keep baby occupied so she wouldn't notice the apple cider doughnuts. Failed. Wrestled doughnut out of baby's vice grip. Comforted angry, crying baby. Hayley off to school. Fancy Nancy tea party with Juju. Dinosaur tea party with Ace. Fold 2 loads of laundry. Turn my back for 1 minute. Refold 2 loads of laundry that Lucy has thrown across room. Remember that I haven't changed out of my pajamas the Lucy threw up on and decide I need to take a shower. Decide to go get computer instead and write about my morning.

So, no there are no movie marathons or potato chips in my Do Nothing Mornings anymore. Sometimes I miss the days when I thought I needed 12 hours of sleep to function and could actually get them. But nothing compares to my Do Nothing Mornings now. I don't even mind refolding the laundry because as I do it I get to watch Lucy entertain her brother and sister by pulling a pair of Ace's underwear over her head like a ski mask and giggle wildly. And I learned that dinosaurs discuss fire safety over tea and don't allow any unruly guests to try and bite the other dinosaurs' bottoms.

Life is good today. Life is very good today.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It is rainy, cold, and windy here in New England and Julia is sick so my mind just won't focus on a good blog subject. So, because I'm lazy, here's a wrap up of our week and other tidbits in no particular order of importance:

Hayley got an extra 3 hours of school this week thanks to a new program at her school where she gets to stay 2 days for an extra hour and a half. They have some homework and reading mentoring time and then an hour of active games and play. She loved it. I think if they offered her Saturday school, she would cry tears of joy.

We went to a Fire Safety event at the mall and Ace had the chance to point a fire extinguisher at a screen with a pretend fire and put it out. Do you ever have moments when you see your child do something and the look on their face tells you that they are doing what they were made to do? It was one of those moments. He was so focused, you could tell that in his mind, he was Firefighter Ace and he was saving the day.

Julia is sick and we don't know what it is. She keeps spiking a fever and gets super tired and just lays on the couch looking tiny and miserable but then within a few minutes of taking ibuprofen, she is up and running. Then 6 hours later she fades again and runs the fever. No other symptoms. If the same holds true tomorrow we will check in with the doctor.

Lucy just ran past me and I realized I put her diaper on crooked and her left cheekie is completely exposed. It's really cute. And it reminds me of my baby niece because the same thing kept happening to her last weekend and it was really cute too. And now I miss her and want to fly to California just to scoop her up and zerbert her belly.

Because Julia is sick and the weather here is icky, we have done nothing at all today. Except I had to run to the grocery store for more ibuprofen and football game watching food (I only watch football so I have an excuse to eat potato skins, chips and queso, taquitos, and bagel bites) and on the way home I stopped to get Andy a coffee at Dunkin Donuts. As I stepped through the door I fell. I didn't hurt anything but my pride and as I was getting up off the floor I looked at the Wet Floor warning sign right in front of me and realized that I had fallen in exactly the same shape as the figure on the sign.

That is EXACTLY how I looked as I went down. Now I wonder if everyone falls in a similar fashion on wet floors or if this was a coincidence? Either way, I'll be steering clear of the Dunkin Donuts until my pride has had time to recuperate. I'll just send Andy to get my pumpkin donuts for me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

You CAN go home again.

Lucy and I had a wonderful trip back to my hometown this weekend. I think 31 is the magical age where it is possible to return and not feel anxiety rise up from the past. I still feel a happy nostalgia for my 18 years growing up there, but it isn't tainted by regrets and embarrassments from the past. Although if I ever were to come face to face with the skater guy I professed my love for back in the 10th grade, I would probably hide behind the nearest tree for, oh, maybe 5 years.

My newest niece is unbelievably precious, I've loved her since the moment she was born in May but I fell more in love with her this weekend. She is an "old soul" baby, she seems to understand more than the average 5 month old. She is interested in everything that is offered to her but never reveals too much of what she is thinking. It takes effort to draw one of her smiles and giggles out of her but when you do it is so worth it.

I also met the new baby of one of my dearest friends and she is also a beautiful girl. She was contentedly snoozing most of the time we were together so I resisted the urge to swoop her up and kiss her toes, but it was a strong impulse, let me tell you. Jodie and I talked about how in the 20 years since we've met, our lives have gone in so many directions and yet here we were, two mommies sitting back in our hometown with our baby girls.

And I got to laugh and talk with my 3 year old niece who is as smart as the day is long. My number one favorite thing about her this trip was her refusal to use contracted words. If you ask if she would like to go upstairs she will tell you "No, I am not going upstairs", if you have the Wiggles CD set at a booming 24 volume level she will tell you for the 4th time that "No, I can not hear this music", and if you ask if she would share her ice water she will tell you "No, I will not be sharing my ice water". The best thing is that she is not disagreeable in any way, I never once have heard her whine, she is simply very clear about her intentions. I love her.

It was a great 48 hours in North Carolina, but it is also good to be home. I think Julia grew a foot since I left, she seems much, much bigger than she was Saturday. And Ace has been so nice to me since I got home, if I didn't know any better I would bet that he missed me.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Little Splinters

I'm finding that one of the hardest parts of watching my kids grow up is learning to handle the everyday heartaches that THEY must endure. Not major heartbreaks, just little splinters that naturally come along when you are just beginning to make friends for the first time and every year seems to present a new social rule that no one clued you into.
Today I drove Ace and his 2 carpool buddies to school and we stopped at the park for a picnic. The park is called Armstrong Kelly park so Ace was telling his friends where we were headed. His speech delay is all but unnoticeable now but he has problems that many four year olds do with certain letter sounds. He kept pronouncing "Kelly" "Kerry" and his friend was correcting him. His friend certainly didn't intend to hurt Ace's feelings and I can't even be sure that Ace was hurt but as I looked in the rearview mirror and saw him struggling to get the word right, I gave him a little smile and wink and asked everyone what was in their lunchbox to change the subject. A few minutes later, Ace said "Some people are very strong. And some people know how to say a lot of words" And there was the little splinter. I fought back tears for him and dropped the boys off at school and went on with the day.
Later, when I went to pick him up, the teacher stopped me. She told me that Ace had bitten his friend on the playground (not the same friend from the carpool so I don't think it was related to what happened in the car). He had not bitten hard, and it seems to be that they just got carried away with a game and Ace took it a little too far. The teacher was worried that Ace had taken the incident too hard, because he had spent the rest of recess hiding under the slide crying and had kept talking about it with the boy he had bitten. I had him apologize again and talked to the mother, apologizing to her and making sure she knew that Ace was sorry. I talked a little about it with Ace in the car but let the subject drop after I saw his face, he was still fighting back tears and I could tell nothing I could say could make him feel any worse than he already did. Another splinter.
Julia had a cough this morning and missed school, she watched everyone leave and thought we were leaving because she hadn't gotten her shoes on fast enough, she was rushing and when I told her it was okay, she should lay down and watch cartoons until she felt all better, her little lip was quivering and her eyes were watery. Andy took Hayley to school so I could fix her a special breakfast and cuddle her. But still, another splinter.
I don't know if anything hurts worse than watching your child hurt and not knowing what to say or do to make it better. I know all these little daily hurts are no big deal and I do count our blessings. But it all piled up on me today and I am having a hard time brushing it off. I think it is because Lucy and I leave for 2 days on Saturday and I'm just going to miss the big kids so darn much. Because the one thing that is worse than being there to see your child hurt, it is not being there and wondering if they are hurting and if they need you and miss you as much as you need and miss them.
Ace is in my bed now, with his firefighting gear. I went in to tuck him in and told him how cool his new haircut is. I asked if he had a good day and he said yes. But that some things were bad, like biting. We talked about how everyone knows he is sorry and his friend isn't mad anymore so they can play more next week at school. Those little splinters will heal and tomorrow can be better than today.

And in other Ace related news, he is still a sleep talker. Around 5 am I was just getting to sleep after Lucy and Julia had finally fallen back to sleep when I heard this from a sound asleep Ace: "That's not a pirate ship. I don't know why there is a cat on the firetruck." I laughed myself to sleep.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Can you believe it is October? No? Me neither. Summer is over. Long gone, just a fading memory of days at the beach and nights that don't start at 4pm. And now Lucy is One. Not almost one, about to be one, or just turned one. She is ONE. Not a infant anymore but still a baby. MY baby, always.

Despite my woe at not being the mother of a newborn anymore and the being within spitting distance of not being pregnant and/or nursing for the first time in almost 5 years, I am terribly excited about Fall. I love Fall. And I'm even more excited about my trip next week to meet my newest never before seen (by me) niece.

Now we are enjoying a great visit with my aunt and uncle and tonight we had pumpkin muffins with dinner so my house smells like pumpkins and fall and Halloween and that makes me happy. And sad. Because every change of season makes me feel happy and sad together. I miss the moments that slipped so quickly out of my grasp but I have so much to look forward too and so very much to enjoy in this very moment. So being happy and sad at the same time isn't all together a bad emotion. I'll just sit in it for now and enjoy the smell of the pumpkin muffins, the sound of Lucy snorkling a little in her sleep, and the sight of Julia who looks like a string bean in her green feety pajamas. Ahh, there. There is the happiness.