Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's 9pm- Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

Both of the kids napped yesterday at the same time for two and a half hours or so. Instead of cleaning the bathroom or picking up after the tornado that swept through our living room prior to the nap I decided that life is too short and kids grow up too quickly and I snuggled on the couch with my son and read a book. It was wonderful.

Fast-forward to seven in the evening. A parent wanting their child to be in bed before the wee hours of the morning knows that a napping child at 7pm is a bad omen. I knew that I shouldn’t have let him sleep this late because bedtime would be a fight, but a trip to the grocery store was in order and I hoped that running up and down the aisles would tire him out and that he would be in bed before midnight. My husband and I thought that since all four of us would be making the trip to Wegman’s it might be nice to stop across the street at Applebee’s on the way home (they serve half priced appetizers after 9pm) for a treat since it is so rare for us to be out and about together at this time of the night.

The reason that it is usual for us to be out after 9pm is because, traditionally speaking, that is the bedtime hour. That is the time when most responsible parents have their kiddos in bed on their way to sleepy-time land. Not only was it approaching half past nine when we finally made our way into the restaurant, but it was also drizzling outside. It’s the middle of the winter, just barely warm enough to rain instead of snow and there we were ushering our bundled up children into a restaurant full of people who either have no small children, or if they do have them the children are at home being put to bed by a baby-sitter.

It can be awkward being the only people in a place with children even though the kids behaved exceptionally well for being of the verge of tired. I couldn’t help but wonder why I felt so anxious about what everyone else was thinking about these two young people bringing their babies out so late on a cold rainy night; of course these strangers couldn’t possibly know that the kids had woken from their naps only a couple of short hours previous, or what our intentions were in taking them out to do the grocery shopping.

Oh well. I suppose everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. However uniformed it may be. It is always a good policy to keep these moments in mind for the time when the shoe is on the other foot and you find yourself wondering why in the world that person is walking through a windy parking lot with their baby’s head uncovered. Perhaps they are retracing their steps in the hope of finding the spot where the baby stealthily removed its hat and threw it on the ground.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Say It With Me

A woman gives birth to a child. Horrible, wretched pain like nothing else she’s ever felt before. For nine months before that, she carries the baby in her womb. She swears off hot dogs and caffeine; she stops sleeping on her stomach. Her face breaks out, her skin stretches and scars. After the baby arrives there are midnight feedings; and 3am feedings; and 5am feedings. There are diapers that need changing and onesies that need washing. The woman’s world revolves around this tiny baby. And then the baby says her first word: “Dada.”

Both of my babies decided that “Dada” would be their first word. It didn’t matter how often I repeated “Mama, Mama, Mama” to them, they would just happily chirp “Dada.” When they finally decided to utter the other word, the one that mommies everywhere try to recognize through all the gibberish, it is usually in the midst of crying. They know who takes care of them, so when babies are upset enough that is the moment they discover that they are indeed capable of calling for their mommy.

The last couple of days my little girl has finally started to say “Mama” in her happy voice. It really brightens my whole world. I’m determined to practice this new word with her everyday. When my son was a baby he stopped saying it all of a sudden and I didn’t hear it for months. Never stopped saying “Dada” though. That’s just not right.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Continuing Saga

When your toddler informs you that he has decided to poop on the floor instead of in the toilet, it may be time to rethink your Potty Training Plan of Action. Or it may be time to tell your husband that although you can’t say how much you appreciate all of his hard work you have decided that he should stay home and take care of the kids while you go to work.

Other than the aforementioned deviation Day Five went well. The little guy even went on his potty all by himself several times. My mom had given me some good advice about requiring my son to go to the potty every hour to help eliminate accidents. Knowing how often he should be going helped to alleviate some of my stress. There were some fights when it came time for the hourly void, but he didn’t wet himself until 9:30pm when he didn’t quite make it to the pot in time. That has to count for something. Not only that, but how can you be mad at a kid who is so busy reprimanding himself that he doesn’t give you a chance to? “That was bad. That was very bad.” And he was so sincere!

Thankfully, every day has gotten easier and I hope that the little man will continue to improve. I’m still trying to figure out how to handle the challenge of going out of the house during this in-between period. I suppose I shall have to incorporate diapers or pull-ups. Or carry six changes of clothes and a roll of paper towels with me at all times. I may need a larger purse.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I Heart Diapers

It seems as though I had spoken too soon. Shortly after writing that last update there was a rather large accident that required the bed to be stripped and the sheets and mattress cover to be laundered. As it could have been much worse and it was easily remedied I tried very hard to be kind and patient (after the initial reaction, that is).

While the bedding was happily whirling around in the washer my little boy made another trip to his potty. On my way to dispose of it in the big toilet one of the cats decided to yak at my feet. I’m unclear as to why he decided this would be a good idea; perhaps he is under the delusion that I actually thrive on cleaning up other people’s messes. Who knows. At any rate, I grabbed a paper towel with my spare hand and wiped up the floor before continuing on my way.

Not to be forgotten, our other cat decided that it would be an opportune time to announce that he had snuck into the basement behind me while I was delivering the bedding to the clothes washer and was now locked in. That meant that his paws needed to be washed. Splendid.

The poor baby cried during all of this wiping, cleaning and flushing because she was hungry. Unfortunately for her peeing children tend to come before hungry ones. Just as I settled down to nurse her and quell her little tummy the washer started to bang around in the basement. (When the contents of the wash become clumped on one side of the washing basket the agitator can become dislodged and try to bust its way out of the machine.) I quickly discovered that although our agitator was still in place that won’t stop the whole basket from trying to break through the front, back and sides of the washer.

If the baby hadn’t been still crying for food upstairs I probably would have sat in the basement and laughed at the washing machine jumping up off of the floor and slamming into the wall behind it. Of course it’s really not funny to watch your expensive appliances try to destroy themselves, but one can sympathize.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Perhaps I Have Spoken Too Soon

Potty training has gotten a little bit easier everyday. There have been fewer accidents and I have loosened up a smidge. By day four the little guy seems to be doing pretty well and is wearing underpants. We did have an episode where he couldn’t pull down his pants and I found him sitting on his potty with them still on. I had to give him points for actually sitting on the toilet though. I’m not so sure what the big push is to potty train. At this age kids don’t know that big kid underwear is more socially acceptable. It really is more carefree when I can just change his diaper at my leisure instead of bolting to the bathroom every time he squeezes his legs together.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Do You Feel Wiggly?

Potty training has stalled; my son is too busy most days playing with his cars and dinos to take two minutes to visit the bathroom. String cheese worked well to get him interested initially (reference “Say, Cheese!”), but these types of bribes ultimately failed to maintain his interest. After two months of off-and-on potty training it is time for drastic action. This morning I decided to try something that has worked for a couple of different people that I know: letting the child run free with no diaper or underwear or pants. Sounds dangerous. I pulled my son’s socks up to his knees, turned the thermostat up a degree or two and hoped for the best.

When attempting this method of potty training it is a good idea to keep a very close eye on the toddler, and to keep paper towels and carpet cleaner handy. The thought of a person, no matter how small, urinating on the floor does things to a person. I spent the entire day following my son around and asking, “do you feel wiggly?” with such repetition that I wanted to choke myself so I didn’t have to hear it anymore. I was making myself crazy, but I couldn’t stop. Then I began to see things. Dark spots or any variation in the color of the dark brown Berber looked to be pee-pee stains, and I was forever groping around the floor in search of wetness. It was exhausting! I longed for bedtime when I could put a diaper on him and be able to abandon my vigil. I thought it would never come.

Thankfully all things must come to an end, even unpleasant ones. Right now it is just the end of Day One, but soon enough my son will be toilet trained and it will be time for my daughter to learn potty etiquette. I’m so tired right now that I feel as though the little guy can pick his nose all day long tomorrow and I won’t care. Besides, they grow up so fast that I know I need savor these years. I’m sure that potty training is less stressful than teaching a teenager to drive. Talk about feeling wiggly.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Now For His Next Trick...!

The odds of a two-year-old boy with no prior training picking up a phone, turning it on and dialing 911 before replacing the phone in the cradle are probably something like one in one hundred forty-nine million, nine hundred and sixty-three. Today I learned that odds like that do not render something impossible. After I tell this story I think I may go out and buy a lottery ticket.

Shortly before two thirty in the afternoon on a quiet cloud-cloaked Saturday a certain young boy sat on his mother’s bed and played with a laundry basket; he was just small enough to pull the basket over his whole body while he nestled down in the pillows. His baby sister lay on the floor amusing herself with the drawer pulls on the dresser while Mommy sorted the closet.

Mommy’s idea of a relaxing Saturday was not sorting closets. In an ideal world, she would much rather bake cookies and sit down to a good book while her children napped for a solid two hours. The world is very far from being ideal and Daddy had to work that day, so Mommy resorted to making herself useful instead.

Now in this house there also lived two cats. Neither of these two felines knew how to use a toilet, so every day Mommy must clean out their litter box. On this dreary Saturday the time was made to complete this chore shortly before half past two. This particular chore, though unappealing, takes only two minutes to complete.

Just as Mommy dried her washed hands the phone began to ring. Mommy walked briskly down the hall toward the bedroom. The little boy still played on the bed although the baby had moved on to something a little more exciting. Mommy stepped over the pillows and the laundry basket that now cluttered the floor in front of the night table and picked up the ringing telephone from the exact spot it had occupied when she left the room mere minutes earlier. Her thumb pressed the flashing talk button as she greeted the caller through a quick smile at her son.

I learned something about 911 operators after I answered that phone call: they’re not keen on fielding calls from button pushing toddlers. I also learned that the police department is required to send an officer to the address where the call originated. Toddler or no toddler. The kindly policeman informed me that he has a daughter the same age as my son; that accounts for the reason he was so jovial and understanding. Personally, I was perfectly mortified at having to explain why he had been called to our “emergency.”

While we were on the topic the officer told me that a great way to teach children to dial 911 is to program the number into the phone and use a red sticker to indicate which button to push in case of an emergency. A big red button is begging to be pushed, and I informed the officer that he would be coming to my door frequently if I tried that method any time soon. I’ll file that one away for another weekend when I’m bored and need a little extra excitement.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Want Some Milk With Those Crayons?

The reason that I buy only Crayola crayons is simple: my son eats crayons. With all of the lead-ridden products coming out of China I can rest much easier knowing that my son is eating only crayons made in the USA. How he can stand to have all of that waxy goodness packed into the crevices of his teeth I’ll never know. Any time that he consumes something potentially bad for him I make him drink milk.

I have had to phone poison control twice since becoming a mother. The first time because the little guy picked up a philodendron leaf that one of the cats was chewing on and put it into his mouth. I’ve always been told that this particular plant is poisonous, so I called up the poison experts. According to the gentleman I spoke to philodendron leaves can’t kill you; but they can cause your mouth to become painfully inflamed. He told me to give my son milk.

The second time I called was because I accidentally brushed the boy’s teeth with my prescription toothpaste. (I actually wasn’t even sure that I had brushed his teeth with the wrong paste, but I thought I might have.) Since young children do not understand how spit out toothpaste, baby toothpaste contains no fluoride: it’s bad to swallow fluoride. I blamed the mishap on the fact that I was very pregnant and therefore delirious; his toothbrush and paste were even on a totally different shelf than my own. Anyway, the nurse felt that the small amount BoBeans had swallowed shouldn’t do him any harm, but told me to watch him for signs of disorientation and vomiting. She also suggested I make him drink some milk.

Apparently milk is the anti-poison. The next time your kid snatches the cleaning sponge and bites into it, finds an unidentifiable piece of something on the floor and puts it into his mouth, or adds crayon as the third course to his dinner just make him drink some milk. Milk: it does a body good.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Attached at the Thumb: How I Almost Became a Siamese Twin

One of my son’s gifts this Christmas was a large play rug complete with roads, railways, hot dog stand, police station, fire house, etc. As I vacuumed it this morning I noticed that some of the binding had come loose in one corner. I was afraid that if the binding became too weak the colored threads that make up the pattern of the asphalt and buildings would unwind and the rug would be ruined.

I didn’t think that the hot glue gun would be the proper tool to remedy the potential problem and duct tape was right out, so I headed into the kitchen and rummaged through the junk drawer in search of the super glue. It did not occur to me during this time that super glue would dry quickly and bleed up through the fibers of the binding thread.

So there I was, a very few minutes later, saying a very fervent prayer that God would sever the thread from my increasingly sore thumb; I had applied the glue to the rug and pressed the split binding back into place, and I was stuck. Fast. I was afraid that if I yanked my finger away from the rug I would take the binding with me making the attempt to fix it more than futile; or I would leave about twenty layers of skin on the edge of the carpet as I could already feel the glue-chemicals gnawing away at my flesh.

For a moment it seemed that my only alternative would be to roll up the entire mat and take it by my attached thumb to the kitchen where I would need to cut it from my body like an unwanted growth with a pair of scissors. But God heard my prayer and the super glue relinquished its hold upon my thumb, leaving only a few precious layers of flesh behind. Perhaps, in the interest of self-preservation, I should invest in some nice, safe craft glue.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My Favorite Muumuu

It is always my aim to hide the perpetual belly-pouch that my twice-pregnant stomach has acquired. That being said, I have been delighted with the trend toward looser fitting, but flatteringly cut, shirts and tops. However, as I dressed recently I realized that some of my shirts beg the question: oh, are you expecting again? No, I’m sure that I left my figure around here somewhere. Muumuus tend to elicit those kinds of questions.

Shopping for tops post-baby can be a frustrating and aggravating experience. However, it can also be a humorous event if it is viewed with the correct attitude. Following is a list of criterions that a shirt must meet in order to be considered for purchase:

Once the sale and clearance racks are combed and a good selection of shirts has been collected, a dull bell announces the arrival of our heroine to the dressing room area. After shutting herself into an available space she locks the door, hangs her selections on the hook, and peels off her own shirt. She is now ready to begin.

Test #1: The first thing that needs to be determined is whether or not the shirt is a belly-hugger. During this test there may be a lot of tugging on the hem and arranging of the new item. If it insists on clinging to the midsection or if it emphasizes the belly-pouch the shirt is immediately relegated to the discard pile.

Test #2: For this test our heroine lifts her arms over her head to make sure that she will not flash anyone with her stretched out stomach should she decide to jump up and down and flail her arms like a crazy person.

Test#3: The sit-down test. This is a very important test if our heroine would like to maintain her sense of dignity in the presence of other people. If, once she sits, the article of clothing accentuates the way her belly rolls over the top of her pants it is right out.

It is a good idea to leave the flab causing children and the husband at home. None of them understand this ritual, nor do they appreciate being kept waiting during its duration.

Now that I have a cheerleader I am hoping to develop an exercise regimen. I did some light aerobics along with a VHS tape today, and even though I was horribly uncoordinated and must have looked like a buffoon my son had some wonderful words of encouragement for me- “That was amazing, Momma!”

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hey, Your Sand is Touching My Spider

We continued to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather by spending the afternoon at Nana’s house. Nana has a nice big yard and a sandbox. The sandbox has a lid, but we learned that the lid being in place does not stop small spiders from seeking refuge in the warm un-freezable sand. Nana had exiled close to a dozen of them before I had to go inside to tend to the baby. Another note to sandbox-owning readers: after a nice summer rain don’t mistake those little flat black things in the sand for twigs; they are actually dried out worms that crawled in under the lid during the rainfall. Worms do not survive as well in the sand as do spiders.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Shocking Weather

It is a mere thirteen days after Christmas. Some people have yet to take down their outdoor holiday decorations, and there are still small clumps of snow here and there. At least there were yesterday. Here in eastern Pennsylvania the temperature should be hovering around freezing; however, today is was a balmy sixty-five. I have always wondered why sixty-five feels so much warmer in the winter than it does in the summer. This time of year it seems like t-shirt weather, but in August if the thermometer dips that low it feels like wool coat weather. Very odd. Nana and I took the kids to the park today. Poor BoBeans has been trapped in the house for so long he behaved like a veritable prisoner set free, running all over the place and shouting with the other children. I do wish that I had remembered to bring my camera along to capture some of the delightful hair-raising static electricity moments.

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Husband's Guide to Making Laundry Even More Fun

The proper laundry-prep for clothing is as follows:

1. Do NOT actually place the dirty article into the hamper. Instead, put it on the floor directly in front of, or next to, the hamper.

2. All socks must be inside out and rolled up into a ball.

3. Work shirts with nametags should be turned inside out so that the person doing the laundry forgets to remove the pin and puts it through the wash cycle. Clean pins are nice and shiny.

4. Non-work t-shirts must be kept right side out so that the laundress has to turn them to avoid excessive fading.

5. Pants must all enter the queue with one leg tucked in and the other left out.

6. Do not empty pockets.

7. Above all, do not attempt to remove any stains, but instead allow them to marinade during the week prior to laundering. They set better that way.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Brachiostegoeuploapataceratops Rex

My son bought a large box of dinosaurs with some of his Christmas money. He wandered around the toy store for a couple of hours, unsure of what he wanted to buy with his newfound wealth. He is only two years old after all, and most grown ups would have difficulty choosing what to buy if they were let loose in a toy store with shiny plastic gift cards.

Really it was my husband who ultimately selected the big yellow/orange bucket of prehistoric lizards. Not that my son needed much convincing: he seems to think they’re pretty cool. According to my big boy all small boys need to have at least one or two (or twelve) hefty dinos. At first I thought that maybe BoBeans would be better with animals whose names he could articulate, but my husband assured me that little boys have an uncanny ability to pronounce dinosaur names. He was right.

Now, the trouble with plastic dinosaurs is that they have pointy tails. Pointy, pointy. My sweet little angel of a daughter is becoming extremely mobile. She rolls all over the place; I’ll put her down on the floor, turn around to eat a sandwich and, viola!, she’s four yards away and facing in the opposite direction. She is not an aimless roller: usually she’s aiming for something. If there is a choice between rolling two feet to the right to get her hands on a nice soft teething ring or rolling ten feet to the left to grapple with a pointy lizard, she’ll go left. So while I’m trying to enjoy a ham on wheat my daughter will be flinging a Brachiosaurus around by its neck while its tail dangerously darts about her eyeballs.

My son likes to play day-at-the-jungle: it’s like day-at-the-beach except instead of being buried in sand I get buried up to my neck in dinosaurs. They have a peculiar smell, all those plastic dinos. It makes me feel kind of woozy when they are all piled up on top of me. Therefore, it concerned me a little bit when my husband lifted an unsuspecting Stegosaurus to his nose, inhaled deeply and said, “They smell just like I remember them.” Aaahhhhhhhhh.