Tuesday, February 26, 2008

He was listening... oops

So I've been hearing the whining refrain "It's not FAAAAIIIIRRRR!" a lot recently. I don't know where CleverMonkey got the idea that fair = exactly what I want (I blame daycare....) but it's driving me crazy.

And I've been muttering under my breath in response. Apparently not quietly enough.

So today - I hear the whining begin and must have had a certain look in my eyes... the Mommy look... and he says... "FINE! This is not a democracy and life's not fair!" and stomps away to his room.

Very nice. Make sure you share that at daycare.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I'm Circling the Mama Wagons

Dear Fellow WMEs -

Ladies, I'm taking a break from snarky this morning as our family suffered a loss last night. I ask that you please take a moment to "visit" Ashley via her blog (www.kyleandtodd.blogspot.com) and leave her some good wishes. As many of you know, Ash was 8-weeks pregnant with their third baby. She miscarried late last night. Physically, she is as well as can be expected; but, she and Kevin are devastated and their little boys are very, very sad. Please keep them in your thoughts during this difficult time.

Lots of love,


Friday, February 22, 2008

Snow Day

Ross was sent home from school yesterday with a stomach thing which kept him miserable for five hours or so, after which he was fine. Having homework arrive with Lars brought on a bit of a setback, however, and Ross was allowed to convalesce last night since we knew he would not be able to go to school today (they have a 24-hours post puke rule).

WELL. Imagine our surprise when the 1" of snow they predicted was 6" when we got up! Clearly, a snowday was upon us and the boys instantly got to work watching a movie in their pajamas before breakfast. After breakfast, Chris suited up to go out and shovel. As the boys moved toward their jackets, I reminded Ross that he had homework and said he had to do it before he could go out to play. "But, Mama! I'm SICK," he whined. As soon as it was out, he realized that would get him bedrest and moved to take it back. "No, no - I mean I need a BREAK."

A break from what, I wondered? Watching movies? Eating breakfast? "Homework. Finish your homework and then you may go out to play." Huge dramatics ensued. The general theme of the play was that Ross would NEVER get to go outside because his homework would NEVER be done, a self-fulfilling prophecy when one is pitching a fit or otherwise not doing his homework.

Leaving him to sob despondently in the dining room, I retreated to the den. Moments later, I heard a nasty sort of crash that might have been a chair being kicked into my prize table! Grrrrrr.... With effort, I walked calmly into the dining
room and found Ross, still sobbing, in the same chair he'd been in when I left. The chair nearest to him was pulled out from the table in the same position it had been in as well, very curious. Still, I took hold of Ross' upper arm and lead him silently to time out. "You can get out when you're ready to do your homework and, when you're done with that, you may go outside to play," I said.

Ross hitched an extra breath and sobbed, "Bbbut my nnnnnooooooooossse hurts!"

"Your nose? How did you hurt your nose?"

"I was stamping my foot and I hit my nose on the chaaaaair," he wailed. I couldn't help it - I laughed. The mental pictures for 'injured nose while stamping foot' were just too much! I felt a flash of guilt for laughing at my kid but it was cut short as I realized I knew what had made the mystery noise.

"Well, I guess you know why you shouldn't have been doing that," I choked out between giggles. Then? I left him in time out on the stairs, telling him again that he could get out whenever he was ready to do his homework and that he could go outside as soon as his homework was done. Three hours, two tantrumish outbursts, unquantifiable whining, and ten word wall word sentences later, Ross made it out to frolic in the snow.

An hour or so later when the neighborhood gang appeared on the front porch, I took stock of the red noses and general sogginess and herded them all inside for cocoa and a movie while we tossed all the wet things into the dryer. I gasped when I looked at Ross, "What happened to your nose?!?"

"I hit it on the chair?" Chair....chair...the CHAIR! Captain Obvious must be snowed in today.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mama Is a Criminal

I returned to work this week, and Zane returned with me. So far it has been a soft re-entry, and both Zane and I are making a smooth transition from spending our days at home to spending our days at the office. That's not to say I haven't faced new challenges this week.

Going about my normal work day at the office is MUCH different with a two-month-old. It's little things, like going to the ladies' room. I am picking up this motherhood gig pretty well, and I'm doing an excellent job of getting a lot of stuff done using just one hand. Sadly, going to the loo is not one of them. So, the question recurs: what do you do with baby when Mama has to haul ass to the ladies'? Answer: lay baby safely on his back in the pack 'n play, lock the office door behind you (after looking at your office keys THREE TIMES to make sure you have them), and run! Crisis averted, and he didn't break during the three minutes I left him alone in my office.

I have learned that the same strategy I use for the ladies' room also works for such things as retrieving the mail, taking out the trash, or even just visiting the vending machine for a Diet Coke.

As the week has progressed I have become quite the brazen Mama, having discovered simple, yet very effective, strategies to steal even a few minutes of freedom from my infant appendage.

Today I felt confident enough to attempt the mother of all challenges: lunch.

To this point, I have either brown-bagged my lunch (once) or picked up salad from the drive-through (twice) because it's just not easy to pick up takeout with a two-month-old. You know the routine: strap infant securely into the car seat...drive to preferred restaurant destination...park car...carefully un-strap infant from the car seat...pick up infant lovingly...smother with kisses...walk into restaurant holding infant because the Bjorn is just too much trouble for a five-minute errand...fumble through pocketbook to find wallet and pull out cash...hand over cash to the high-school dropout working the register...accept change (coins ON TOP OF paper money) while fumbling wallet, pocketbook and infant...shove everything into bottom of pocketbook...right the position of the infant in your arms...pick up takeout bag...walk to car, unlocking doors with remote key...open driver door...throw in pocketbook, keys and lunch...open rear passenger door...smother infant with kisses...strap infant securely into car seat...drive back to office...and, well, you get the picture... A lot of work for a five-minute errand to pick up lunch.

Until today.

Today I really wanted Chicken Pot Pie from Jason's Deli. There is no drive-through at Jason's Deli, but they DO allow you to call in your order. Thus began my wicked strategy: call in the order, go through the routine for safely transporting my child in my car, BUT, yes, yes, that's it! I'll park right in front, run quickly into the restaurant, sans bebe, get my food and be back before he even has a chance to begin waking from his nap. And that is exactly what I did. I left my infant in the car, alone, strapped into the car seat, doors and windows locked, so that I could freely use both hands to fetch my lunch. No longer am I simply a candidate for Worst. Mama. Ever. I am now a criminal.

Last year, the Legislature passed another law to save the stupid people from themselves. Leaving a child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by potential imprisonment up to 60 days and/or a fine not exceeding $500. Additionally, if the violation results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to a child, the penalty is increased to a third degree felony, punishable by potential imprisonment up to 5 years and/or a fine not exceeding $5,000. The law was designed to punish idiots who leave their children in the car during the blistering Florida summer while they bet their last dollar on the dogs or spend three hours in a shopping mall (actual cases that were used to support passage of the bill.)

As I ran (yes, I actually ran) into Jason's Deli, never taking my eyes off my locked car, parked right in front of the deli, I cycled through my explanation for the cop who would surely arrive at any moment and arrest me for neglect and reckless endangerment of my child. Two minutes later, Chicken Pot Pie in hand, I returned to find my child still sleeping and no worse for the wear. Goody gumdrops! Surely I have at least two MORE minutes to quickly, very quickly, pick up a cup of Cake Batter ice cream from Coldstone...it's just next door to Jason's...and Zane is still peacefully sleeping, the dear angel...and, well, it IS Zero Nutrition Thursday...

Ahmad and His Whistling Camel

While we, too, are of the eat-it-or-starve mentality, we have discovered some help for gently persuading our boys to partake of their delicious-and-nutritious suppers, even if it looks funny or has strange things sticking to it (heaven forbid there are onions or anything that is related to onion: scallions, leeks, shallots, sometimes even celery gets the cold shoulder).

Ahmad and his whistling camel. It's ironic that while I, who write children's books, am consistently bested by my husband, the finance professor at telling tales at the dinner table. He invents stories of Ahmad and his Whistling Camel and the boys beg, and I do mean BEG for more stories about Ahmad's whistling camel. The Ginger Bread Man won't tell them unless they take a bite. So he hooks them, then refuses to go on unless they take another bite. It's really hilarious. Especially the one where Ahmad's whistling camel's favorite song to whistle is "Singin' in the Rain" and he ends up in a carwash in Cairo strapped to the top of a mini cooper just so he can whistle his favorite song...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Subversive Sundried Tomatoes

My children will eat just about anything that's set before them for dinner. This is partially because they like a wide variety of foods and partially because they've figured out that their only other choice is to wait for breakfast the next morning. I do my best to select meals that everyone will like at least some part of and that nobody will find all that objectionable. Still, everyone has their turn to suffer. Chris fares worst on seafood nights. I can't stand cooked green peppers. Ross doesn't like meat if he can see black pepper on it. For Lars, sun-dried tomatoes are the worst of all possible ingredients. Unbeknown to me, I seem to be using them for subversive torture.

Tonight, I added sun-dried tomatoes to a light sauce with artichokes over chicken, served with brown rice and steamed broccoli. Ross gave hearty approval to the meal as I was cooking it, ostensibly because it is his, "Very favorite dinner!" Then, he went into the living room and said, "Hey Lars, what are you hiding from Mama that she's making dinner with sun-dried tomatoes?"

Stand Off

Lest you think I forgot about WME, I assure you that I did not. Since February's start, we have had one very sick child, followed by a second sick child, a sick child's borthday, including a trip to the pediatrician on her birthday, a birthday party for the sick child, a relative who missed the party and came up the next day, thus spreading the birthday to a three day affair, and finally, when all that was over, a sick Mommy. February has been a banner month for us here!
But it has not been without WME moments. My finest occurred on Helen's birthday. Ruthie was on day 3 or 4 of antibiotics for a double ear infection and Helen had developed a fever and cough the day before. A friend whom we had missed at christmas time came over that "day before" just as Helen's fever was climbing, and bestowed holiday gifts upon the girls. The wrapping paper from the affair was stuffed in to a shopping bag where it remained into the next day. Ruthie, upon spying the bag of wrapping paper, proceeded to remove pieces of it and tear them into teeny, tiny, little bitty bits and scatter them on the living room rug. I told her to stop. She refused. When she finally completed her "activity" I told her she needed to pick them up. Again, she refused. About an hour later, I made lunch for both girls. I told Ruthie she could have her lunch as she cleaned up the living room. She continued to stand her ground and refused to clean up. i refused to feed her. Off we went to the doctor with poor sick Helen. Helen got a snack in the waiting room. Ruthie did not. She hadn't cleaned up. We got home and Ruthie announced she was hungry. I told her she could have her lunch after she cleaned up. She refused. All afternoon this went on. Finally, DH came home aorund 5 p.m. with a piping hot pizza. The floor was still a mess. Ruthie was obviously hungry. She still refused to clean up. I told her we would have birthday cake after dinner and she could have some if she cleaned up. She refused. We all sat down to dinner (just cause you're not eating doesn't mean you don't have to be part of the meal.) Ruthie cried hunger a couple more times. As DH and I were on our second slices each and Helen had made a good dent in her piece, Ruthie finally asked if I would help her clean the living room floor. I brought her the trash can and watched her clean up every bit of that wrapping paper in about fifteen seconds. As I served her a slice of pizza, I checked the clock. It had been nearly seven hours since the stand off had begun. And I won.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On the 100th day of school

"Oh, nice picture. Are you taking a nap on your 100th birthday?"

"No, Mom. I'm dead."

At this point, I'm just waiting for that phone call.

Monday, February 18, 2008

And your punishment shall be...


CleverMonkey walked past me this morning on his way upstairs carrying a large step stool.
"Don't look!" he said. I obliged.

Twenty minutes later he's discovered dosing himself with Tylenol from the bottle. Poison Control called, stern lectures, etc.. he's fine. But now, to a consequence that will be really, truly, painful....

Ten minutes later, all of his Thomas trains are now spread all over the living room where his *gasp* little brother can play with them. Yes, son, that's right. Your consequence for lying to your parents and going into the medicine cupboard shall be to share your favourite toy with your brother, until I feel you're done.

Later I think - hmmm... maybe not the best way to encourage sharing....

School Playground or Bathroom???

Apparently my little one is confused between the daycare/school playground and the bathroom. Unfortunately, I think I have fostered this confusion.

Picking up my kiddos at school last week, my 2 year olds teacher very sternly tells me that he was sent to the office on a blue note. I, being very polite and attentive, ask the teacher, what did he do? She proceeds to tell me that he needed to pee when all the kids were on the playground. Not bothering to mention this to the teacher he just pulls his pants down and pees right there in front of all. Apparently this is very frowned upon at school. I of course burst out laughing before I can catch myself, earning me a very evil eye. I quickly adjust and sternly talk to him in front of the teacher. Talking to my son I ask him (remember he is 2), why did you not tell your teacher you needed to pee? He just looks at me like why...you let me pee outside all the time. To my amazment I realize that his accusing look is well justified. Just yesterday when we were out on the boat I was changing him from his wet bathing suit into dry clothes and asked if he needed to pee before I put his underwear on. He says yes so I hold him on the side of the boat and let him pee over the side.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Punishment to fit the crime??

My teenager has a smart mouth. Not as bad as some I have seen but definitely enough to make me want to slap him at least once a week. Yesterday he locked Allison out of the house. This is a new thing he has started doing that he thinks is hilarious. She goes outside to play on the back deck and he locks her out and she has to crawl through the doggie door to get in. So, since I had told him not to do this again on two separate occasions, I told him he needed to write sentences. He said, after a good bit of protesting "What sentence do I need to write?"

I said, "I don't know, what do you think is appropriate? Something about not being mean to your sister..."

And he said, "Okay, I will write, This is stupid. I didn't do anything wrong."

Losing my temper, I opened the back door to the deck and said, "Get out! If you don't think you did anything wrong, then don't come back for two hours. Let's see how you like being locked out of the house." So he stayed out there for an hour and a half (as he doesn't fit through the doggie door) until my mother-in-law showed up for her birthday celebration and I told him to get back inside so she was not uncomfortable with him hanging off of the back deck, which is what he took to doing - I am sure to get on our nerves.

Teenager anyone?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Good Trade?

The kids are home for the first of a three-day weekend. Lars kicked off the celebration with a slumber party last night, so he's ahead on the crankies by a good three hours of missed sleep. Ross, only marginally jealous of the sleepover party, has still managed to press all of Lars' buttons so that 11:30am saw the two of them crashing through the house shouting of unfairness. As my eyes rolled back in my head, I saw the sign, "Three Days Of This" blinking happily in my head and decided to end it now (anyone else hear the Snood guy saying that?). Gathering both fierce scowlers together in the living room, I made them look at each other until they giggled. Then, I told Ross to hitch up his pants - butt crack is really unbecoming. That did it - Ross hitched up his pants and the two of them rolled out of the room. As they disappeared, laughing and splurting "butt crack" at one another, I realized I'd just traded mild profanity for peace. If it holds the long weekend, I'll think it was a good trade.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Professor, what's another word for pirate treasure?

Kate won't stop saying "booty". She sprinkles it into her sentences the way the Smurfs do "smurf". It's been 2 days now. She won't cut it out. Probably because we think it's kind of funny. She's already discovered the surefire way to get an amused snort out of me is to randomly yell "booty!" during moments of comfortable silence when the family is all gathered in one place, everyone doing their own thing.

Here's what I found out this afternoon - daycare? Not amused. Evidently it came up when Jeremiah picked the girls up this afternoon. Kate is going to be 4 in June and it wasn't until now that it dawned on me she will need to get along in polite society. This is difficult for me to grasp because I can barely muddle through. Just the other day I convulsed a bit during a meeting at work when someone said something about "...what you DO do". Doo-doo! HA. Good stuff. I am 35 and read books by Stephen Covey and talk at length about work breakdown structures and I am reduced to giggles when someone says "DO do". There is little hope for Kate and even less for Sarah, as I'm sure we'll be too tired for discipline once we're done with Kate.

I was reflecting upon these matters as we all climbed the stairs together to put the kids to bed. Sarah quiet, Kate muttering like a crazy person "booty booty booty booty booty". I wonder if daycare knows we are perfectly accepting of Kate's alter-ego "Princess Camelbutt"?

Not moving up the rungs of the PTO

Probably letting Lindsay load graham crackers into my empty stapler to amuse herself is not a way to earn points with the other moms, n'est-ce que pas?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Good use for safety device

In the same line as the shot glass photo, I came into the kitchen today to find my 18 month old carefully putting marbles into the little stupid thing that everyone gets given to figure out which toys are too small for babies. See it here at the bottom....

and carefully using it to tip the marbles into his mouth. And then spitting them onto the floor and watching them roll in all directions (old house, crooked floors).

I think it's the first time anyone in our house has used that safety gadget for anything... clearly it's dangerous. I should get rid of it. :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Doctors Who Are No Help

Today is a big day in our household. Zane had his 2-month checkup this morning and, although we haven't broken him and he's still breathing, I thought FOR SURE we'd be admonished for something...something...about how we are managing our baby. After all, we are first-timers, with a one-percenter, and we don't even know what we don't know. Alas, he is "perfect."

At two months, Baby Zane weighs 10 lbs. 6 oz., is 22-3/4 inches long and his head is 40 cm in circumference. Apparently we are doing not just a good job, but a "fantastic" job growing our little human. He is happy (smiling, cooing, "giggling" with his whole body), healthy (nursing 7 times a day, sleeping well) and beautiful (baby acne is gone, and he's got the adorably fat buddha belly). As Peegie said this afternoon, "parenthood...who knew?"

Still no points; but, then again, we're only 8 weeks into this adventure.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Budding lawyer wins again

It's cold outside. And there's 18 inches of snow on the ground. And my husband has the car.

So - it's a pretty casual day around here, Bruiser's the only one out of pj's and only because they were really wet from swimming in the dog bowl and he was leaving damp spots on the couch.

Really, I didn't want to have to turn the tv off after they watched the horrible I Love Toy Trains movie, but that's the general policy. CleverMonkey pipes in with "But Mommy, we've watched a movie, but now I want a tv show - they're different things!"

Okay, okay, twist my rubber arm and watch Dora...

I think I'm starting to understand why there's an option for Repeat Play on some of the DVDs.

And so, we enter our third hour of Sunday morning television... but I'm feeling quite relaxed.

Friday, February 8, 2008

An observation of toddler parenting

Can I just say it's horribly awful and frustrating?

Sure, she has cute moments. Her constant monologue and declarative sentences, "Don't WANT that, Mommy, san queue." Her very good and appropriate use of both "peace" and "san queue". She's really the best napper/sleeper I've ever seen, and feeding her has gotten easier (i.e., she will now eat 10 random items at any given time instead of 6, and there are a few things now she consistently eats).

But MY GOSH. If I have to get kicked during a diaper changed one more time, I may start searching the Internet for 4-point restraints.

I find myself longing for summer because at least then leaving to go anywhere doesn't mean a huge struggle to get her into her coat while she throws herself down, kicking and screaming "No coat! Don't WANT coat! No SAN QUEUE!" and then trying to buckle her bulky with parka into her toddler seat while she struggles, demanding "Get down! Get down!" or deciding that she "Need a drinky, peace Mommy - and quackers. Right now, peace. Right NOW!" while she works herself into a veritable frenzy.

What is 20 months to me? Lots of words and no reason. I don't know if it's more frustrating with no words and no reason at this age, but I can tell you I find myself trying to remember how I got through this last time and guiltily recalling it was full time daycare that dealt with the bulk of this, and I find myself longing for a desk where no one would demand "quackers and doo-doose" every time my bottom hit the chair.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Poor Showing

Today we headed to the Pediatrician's office for Sarah's 18-month check-up. With Sarah sitting nude save her diaper on the crinkly paper on the examining table, I answered the usual barrage of questions from the nurse. Words, yes coming along nicely. Walking, running, climbing stairs, yes, yes, yes. Drinking milk, not so much but some. No guns in our home. We don't smoke or feed her lead paint...Blah blah blah.

Then in came the doc. She starts in with the questions. This is when I started lying a bit.

Doc: So, she doesn't really like milk?
Me: Not so much. She'll drink a little. She likes chocolate milk.
Doc: Probably don't want to give her chocolate milk, it's pretty much pure sugar.
Me: Er...
Doc: She eats well otherwise?
Me: [relieved to be off the milk topic] Oh yeah, she'll eat anything.
Doc: OK, so you don't give her hard stuff like nuts or popcorn and of course no peanut butter until she's 2.
Me: [Smile and nod] (in fact, I give her all those things on a regular basis. She adores peanut butter and just last night consumed so much popcorn prior to dinner that she scarcely ate a bite of her meal)
Doc: And of course nothing grape sized...
Me: [Smile and nod] (Do grapes count?)
Doc: And you limit TV?
Me: [Again, relieved] She really doesn't care about TV (it's true!). Anyway, we usually only let them watch DVDs or public TV because I object to commercials.
Doc: Well, she really shouldn't get much watching in - you want to do more reading. Even though people say a program's educational it's...it's really not.
Me: Er...
Doc: Her skin is a little bit dry...you bathe her with Dove baby wash?
Me: I use the unscented castile soap for infants
Doc: You want to use a soap with moisturizer, something like Dove.
Me: [Smile, nod, suppress urge to punch doctor]
Doc: OK, the nurse will be right in with her shots!

And that, of course, is when Sarah changed her mind about trusting Mommy.

All-in-all, an excellent visit, I'd say!

Variation on a theme...

Not my story, but funny anyways.

On the way out to day care in the morning, my neighbour, whose boys are the same age as mine, noticed that her toddler had wet socks on. And that there were wet foot prints in her kitchen. So, she changed the socks and continued. Five minutes later, his socks were wet again....

"Why are your socks wet?"

To the potty in the living room.
Which apparently her 3 year old had used but not mentioned...

And so - changing the socks yet again, she left for work, hoping that the pee soaked floors would get cleaned by magic elves before she came home.

And this is why I'm glad SHE'S my closest mommy-neighbour and not someone more judgemental.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Where Does Poop Go?

Since there seems to be some confusion lately, this might help clear things up:

**Admin note: Karen, I changed this to not autoplay for our readers at work. -Lady E

It's not toxic, but it is foul

I commented on Round the Bend's post a short while ago:

You are SO my hero. I would've definitely lost my cool, thrown the half-dressed kids in the car and sped out of there.
I thought I should let you know what transpired while I was ignoring my children to read and comment on blogs, because it pretty well sums up why I am, in fact, Worst Mama.

As I hit "post" I noticed that Lindsay's diaper had taken a turn northward. That is to say the moon was in full view. I have been conducting a Green experiment using these G Diapers which you may or may not have heard about. They have a cloth exterior with a plastic pouch that snaps in and holds a disposable, flushable flat diaper. The cloth outer part secures with velcro. If you have a toddler, you know velcro is a fascination. I figured she'd undone the velcro and eased the diaper along with her leggings down. I picked her up and smelled poop, so I scooped her up to deal with cleaning her up upstairs, knowing my dinner guests (my friend Jessie and her 3-year old son) were due to arrive at any moment.

As I took off the leggings, little turds fell out everywhere. She had somehow managed to pull down her diaper and pooped into a rolled up cuff of legging near her left ankle. I gathered all the errant poops into a wipe and get them into the diaper disposer. I flung the outer diaper along with her clothes into the laundry basket, wiped her down with a wet wipe, and put on a fresh diaper. I managed to zip up her jammies, change her changing table cover, and wash my hands before my guests arrived.

I sighed, thinking well, okay, some poopy laundry to deal with later, no biggie.

After dinner, Lauren managed to step barefooted into a turd on the floor which I cleaned off her foot with a dry cloth napkin. It didn't come off entirely and she didn't have a bath tonight.

And then after our guests left, Lauren found where she'd stepped in the poop - on the bottom step it had been ground in. I sprayed it down with Method Bathroom Cleaner and wiped it up with, yes, you guessed it - another cloth napkin. It took a few tries to get up and in the process, Lindsay decided to sit on the step, getting poop on the bottom of her clean jammies.

That, my friends, THAT is why I am a Worst Mama.

It might be toxic

Our local public library was having a very special guest today - Gisele who is the host of our local PBS equivalent children's block. I'd gotten free tickets a while ago, but didn't say anything in case we couldn't go.

CleverMonkey held it together through the morning, so off we went to the library. Terrific excitement ensues. Because my kids are cute we're invited to stay afterwards and have their pictures taken for the library newsletter. And then they tell us we have to evacuate the library because some kids let off some toxic substance in the library.

Two kids. Two snowsuits. One TV celebrity. One backpack carrier. About a foot of wet snow on the ground. Options limited. Put the 18month old down in the middle of the sidewalk in the snow. Now he's wet, but dressed and in the carrier. In the meantime 3 year old has decided to make snow angels in his socks, pants and t-shirt. Quickly dress him while ignoring evil stares of library staff.

Score: two wet children and a snowstorm that's rapidly getting worse. And we need to take the bus home. So what does the responsible mommy do? Lets the kids stay outside the possibly toxic library for half an hour so he can watch the fire trucks, ambulances and police cars, and hazmat team, etc...

In retrospect, I should have asked someone to hold the baby, but with a change of clothes, he seems none the worse for wear. And they did have a great afternoon.

Wherin we prove we are not mature enough to have four children.

As you all know, it is an ongoing battle to get Ben to eat. Anything. Continuing on this weeks bribery theme, I will confess that I occasionally let him have some time on PBSKids.com if he eats all of his lunch at school. Today, he came home from school and said,

"Can I play on the computer, mom? I ate all my yogurt!"

I looked in his lunch bag and said, "No Ben! You didn't eat anything but yogurt!"

At which point he started convulsing in laughter. I stood there bewildered. Finally he controlled himself enough to say,

"Mo-om! What's butt yogurt?"

At which point Shane and I, in our profound maturity, started convulsing in laughter as well. The worst thing we could do, since he proceeded to say "Butt yogurt, butt yogurt" over and over again until we controlled ourselves enough to control him as well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bribery. I'm Not Above It.

Ross and spelling do not get along well. He knows which letters go in which words and generally begins with the correct first letter but he cares little for the order after that. The letters are in there - isn't that enough? Today's spelling quiz came home with another dismal score. Rather than lecture or weep, I told Ross that if he gets me four consecutive spelling quizzes, each with a maximum of one mistake, I will get him a Webkinz Tiger. Following a brief pretend crying jag, Ross finished up his homework with no word jumble spellings, making me think I ought to get a tiger in the closet before they are all sold out.

Not wanting to be left out of the Webkinz giveaway, Lars began following me around the house, spelling random words correctly. Seizing the moment, I told him that if he ties his own shoes - using regular old shoelace tying (not the creative woven monuments that look like cypress trees he sometimes comes up with) - every day for three weeks, I will get him a Lil'kinz Polar Bear. His eyes lit right up! Then he said, "Could I get Sketchers instead?" I gave him the glare of don't-press-your-luck and he retreated peacefully to the kitchen, where he made Chris give him a lesson in how to tie his shoes.

Ain't no such thing as a free lunch

Lauren is in full-day kindergarten. They have a lunch period around 1 PM or so. In the first month of school, I packed lunch each day. It's not a gourmet lunch, but it's reasonably well balanced. Lauren's teacher insists that their snack should be packed separately, so she has a plastic container that's big enough for a juice box and a granola bar, and her lunch box accommodates the 2 by 3 Pyrex I use for cold lunches and thermos for hot lunch. It should not have surprised me about 6 weeks into the school year Lauren began to ask to buy school lunch, since everyone else did.

Now, I'd had an active albeit futile role in the district nutrition committee last year, and I go out of my way to make sure we eat meat and dairy that's been farmed with higher standards. I still begrudgingly agreed that she could purchase the school lunch one day a week, and we'd discuss which hot lunch or deli sandwich because she wasn't permitted to buy cereal with chocolate or strawberry milk (because that's not an adequate lunch) or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (because why pay $2 for something we can make at home?). She agreed and on Sunday we discuss the school lunches and which days she's going to buy. One day bridged into two days, and yes on some weeks when Alec travels it even goes to three. Until...

There were a couple days in a row when Lauren came off the school bus famished and cranky. She's generally Tigger-like in great leaps and bounces, but that day she dragged herself off the bus and weakly handed me her backpack.

"What's wrong?"

"I'm just so hungry."

"What did you have for lunch?"

Now Lauren occasionally dips her toe in the small lie, but even she knew that this was information she could be busted on too easily with the menu posted on our refrigerator.

"Cheerios with strawberry milk on them."


"Well, Lauren this is why I told you not to get cereal for lunch. It's too long of a day to just eat a quarter cup of cereal."


I snapped. "We're having grapes for snack. I guess you're going to be hungry." To top off the punishment, I refused to allow her to buy lunch for a week, not that humus, pita, and baby carrots over Tasty Tacos are punishment. But it did make the point. This week when we discussed lunch, she carefully considered her options and went with today since it's International Pancake week and they are serving pancakes and sausage for lunch...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Well, at least I'm in the running...

So. We have this bedtime ritual. You know how those things grow - I say to the CleverMonkey

"I love you more than bubble baths."

and he says

"I love you more than homemade cookies."

and off he goes to pretend to sleep...

So yesterday had been a yelling, angry day. Aunt Flo arrived at dinner time and I realized that I might have been over-reacting a little, so I pulled out all the stops at bedtime...

"I love you more than chocolate ice cream, more than polar fleece pajamas, more than bacon and eggs for dinner."

and his response...

"I love you as much as Thomas the Tank Engine. No, wait. Well, I love you more than Percy maybe. Or maybe Murdoch the Cranky Engine. No, actually Mommy, I really do love Thomas an awful lot."

Ah well, I was in the top five for a while there...

Probably also the Worst. Guest. Ever.

We spent the first half of the Superbowl yesterday at a neighbor's house. I don't know them well - they have been to our house for a party at least once. They have 3 kids, and their youngest kid is about Lauren's age.

As I might at any friend's house, I sat on the couch and enjoyed a beer while we watched the game. The kids played. There were a couple other kids about the same age as Lindsay (somewhere between 1 1/2 and 2) running around. There were papers, markers, and crayons in the corner nearest where Alec was sitting. Lindsay was content to color on paper with markers (methodically opening them, making a single mark, and capping them), and sticking small stickers on the paper. There had been several kids of various ages making signs with markers and scissors, and there was a good-sized mess of paper bits and scattered crayons and markers around. At some point, Lindsay found a newish box of crayons - the 64 crayon set with the flip-top box - and dumped it out, at which point the hostess declared art time over and cleaned up the area. Alec, who was sitting nearest the hostess, helped her pick up the crayons and markers. She said, a bit bitterly in my direction, "It was a brand new box of crayons."

Uh...um...well, alright.

I thought, oh maybe I should've gotten up and helped with the crayons. It had been my kid who dumped them.

And then I thought, Geez, I can't imagine making that big of a deal over crayons. I mean, after all, Alec helped her pick them up. It wasn't as though the other parents of the older kids were helping to clean up or summoning the kids to help.

Cafeteria Tactics

It was a sunny, surprisingly warm Sunday morning. The children were up, dressed and even had their hair brushed. I'd been to the Farmer's Market already and even made brunch. We all sat around the dining room table together, eating brioche french toast with bacon and, because none of that was even remotely nutritious (and it wasn't even Thursday), some fresh strawberries.

I saw it coming long before it happened. Sarah got an impish glint in her eyes. Holding a chunk of pure maple syrup-drenched french toast she debated. Eat it? Wing it at Mommy? I knew the route she'd take. I sensed it. She hauled off and threw that sticky, moistened bit right at me. It landed in my plate. Sarah throws like a girl (of course). Here, I thought was the opportunity to teach my youngest table manners. To let her know that there is absolutely nothing acceptable about throwing your food.

I must act quickly! This is always my thought because we believe that raising a child is nearly exactly like raising a dog - if you don't respond fast enough they forget why they're being punished. Fine, laugh all you want, but sternly commanding "sit!" has on more than one occasion prevented insurance-deductible-meeting injury. So there we were, frozen in time. Kate forced back a giggle. I looked at Sarah. I took aim, and threw that soggy bit right back at her.

We volleyed several times, everyone at the table giggling wildly until, in one of her finest comic moments, Sarah declared victory when she picked up the toast as if to fling it, and then ate it instead. Then she threw her fork at my plate.

I confess I enjoyed it. But I cringe a little, anticipating the call from daycare at some point this week...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Water Boy

This post will not garner me any points, but I just wanted to share a recent photo of my sweet baby boy. PG and I are THRILLED that we have a happy water baby!!

Friday, February 1, 2008


You guys are really on a roll lately. I can barely keep up with reading everyone, not to mention posting my own worst mama moments. Epiphany and Karen had particularly strong showings in January with their tough parenting and I am in awe of you both. Way to stick to your worst mama guns.

This week I broke Allison's Nintendo DS.

I was getting it out of the back of the van and I dropped it on the pavement. It broke into several pieces, never to work again. The Nintendo DS is kind of like a Gameboy but it has a strong following with girls because of games they have developed where you can create your own little worlds. It is easily Allison's most prized possession. She plays it every moment we allow her to and because it's works with our WiFi she connects with her friends. They visit each other's virtual homes and trade clothes and furniture etc.

I admit that my initial reaction upon watching it explode on the pavement was not remorse but annoyance. Annoyance that she had left it in the back seat of the van. Annoyance that I was going to have to tell her and she would cry and I would have to decide what to do about it. And when I told her she did cry and then later that day she said

"It's okay Mom, I forgive you."

Which should have been sweet I guess, but I found that annoying as well. (It didn't help that she had already started researching on the internet what replacement color she would like.) I responded with,

"That's good Allie. I forgive you for not taking care of it and leaving it in the back of the van."

And then I explained to her that we just didn't have the extra $130 in the budget right now to replace it. In fact, I wasn't sure when we would. More persistent tears followed that statement, as well as a heartbroken phone call to tell her friends that

"My mom broke my DS and I might not get another one. (Sob)"

Big sigh. Oh wah. Little did she know how easy she was making it for me to feel no sympathy whatsoever.

But then, yesterday, after a day free of any DS related comments she came to me and asked if we could have a garage sale and sell her old toys to buy a new DS. The pile of stuff she had amounted to sell was actually pretty impressive. In fact, it was nearly everything she had left in the toy department. And I admit it, that did it. Seeing her step out of her martyr role and try to find a way to pay to replace it herself made me finally feel a little guilty. And I told her that if she could raise half of the money for a new one I would pay the other half. We are going to see about selling her stuff at a consignment sale along with some baby toys to try to raise the money. I feel good about the arrangement and feel like she may appreciate (and take better care) of her DS in the future.

And it won't kill her to be without the thing for a few weeks in the meantime.

Panty Update

UPDATE at bottom:
Apparently our daughter just has issues.

I always have her go potty before we leave the house. We got to preschool 15 minutes later, and she peed her pants on the way to the toilet. Sigh. She didn't want to change clothes, so OK, her choice. She went off to her class. When I picked her up, she was in new clothes (from her backpack). She peed her pants in class, and didn't want to change. The next time the teacher took a group of kids to the potty, she asked our daughter "would you like to come too, and bring your backpack (with clean clothes)" That would be a "yes".

So, they are dealing with her really well at school. Each time she pees her pants they tell her she has to keep her pants dry to go to kindergarten. And they make her change and clean herself. Exactly what I want! They have the same policy and me, and I think it's good for her to have self-care skills. She is sorely behind in that one.
After school yesterday, I took all the kids (takes 1hr 40minutes to gather five kids from three schools) to the dentist. We went potty as soon as we got there. I got taken off to get my teeth cleaned with some of the kids; my husband went his way with the others. While we were there over the course of an hour, our 4.5yr old peed her pants right in front of my husband. She was just sitting on the carpet, peeing her pants. She did not speak up until she was already peeing. My husband is totally frustrated.
Personally, this works better for me to see that she is doing this everywhere, and not just at our home. In public, at school, at church, she's starting to see the negative effects of her behavior.

Speaking of self-care, she really has trouble getting dressed. Much of it is just really confusing to her, and I'd say she is a couple years behind in those skills. Today at my allergy doc appt, I told her to take off her tights and put them on right. They were backwards. She took them off, and struggled with them for about an hour, crying, screaming, bawling, and throwing herself around on the ground the entire time. I told her "You are showing me you are really tired. That would mean you need a nap as soon as we get home. It would be sad for you to miss lunch and go straight to a nap." She took it down a notch, but not much better. Still did the routine on and off. It's not like I haven't showed her how to get her tights on. Even today when she was doing it, I showed her multiple times which way is the front. Personally I think she does struggle with this skill, but if I do it for her every time, she'll never learn. I'm not going to handicap her further by stunting her independance. She needs to be pushed gently into independance, like today.

So, according to her, "It's WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better to be at preschool than this house!" since I had her do her own tights.

I'm snorting a little because if she ever wears tights to school, they will tell her to dress herself there as well.
The allergist told me today that there is a special place in Heaven for me ;o)
She asked me how I am able to handle this. I told her "I keep a sense of humor, and my husband and I trade off in the evening with her." Doctor thanked God aloud at that moment that her kids are normal and healthy.
UPDATE (to answer a question someone posed):
The doctor at childrens hospital said that while she's constipated, that her bladder has nerve issues. At that time she can only feel the "full" feeling. She's lazy, so she stops peeing out pee after the "full" feeling isn't there anymore, even though she's told daily she has to continue peeing until the pee is done coming out.

She's not constipated any longer. So she should be able to pee just fine on her own. And hold it on her own.

Good thing we are having the neurological appt at Childrens Hospital in April. They will be able to tell us why she's having these developmental delays.


Lauren has the bad habit of asking if we'll buy her practically every item in a store. It doesn't matter what type of store we're in. She will literally ask about canned tomatoes in the grocery store.

Gently reminding hasn't worked. Flat out refusal to buy anything hasn't worked.

So last week, when we were about to leave Target after having asked about probably 25 assorted items, I pointed at a toy in the check out aisle. It was a Littlest Pet Shop toy. The little packages are usually between $3-5.

"If you had behaved by not asking us to buy you every item in the store," I said quietly, "You would be able to select one of these. Maybe next time you'll think about that."

It brought on a cascade of tears and a half-hearted tantrum. At bedtime, she was still lamenting the very cool toy she didn't get.

The next day, we were grocery shopping, and she proceeded to do the same thing. As we were leaving, I pointed out a treat in the freezer cabinet - flying saucers from Carvel. I said, "If you had behaved, you would be able to choose one of these. But instead we're not getting them."

The day after that, we went to The Children's Place to buy new shirts for Lin who had grown out of every item she owned overnight and the box of 18-24 month hand-me-downs had 2 shirts in it because of daycare wear. Prepared to buy Lindsay 6-8 long sleeved shirts and 3 footed pajamas, we drove about 15 miles to TCP Outlet. As we entered the store, Lauren asked, "If I don't ask about everything, can I get something here?"

"Yep," I replied.

So as we left, she selected a packages of undies and Valentine's Day pajamas.

And the winner is...

...Marianne with 10 points. Congratulations!