Monday, June 28, 2010


Ways in which this past weekend was the opposite of fun, in rough order of occurrence:

1. I discovered what looked like large chunks of greyish meat in my Thai food Friday night. M. swore up and down that he specifically asked for the vegetarian suki stir fry when he placed the order. An angry phone call from M. and delivery of a freshly cooked dish directly to our house yielded... another container of food with large chunks of greyish meat. Turns out the dish had non-advertized "mock duck" as one of its ingredients, a food that is about as appetizing as it sounds. The experience left me with a distinct guilt that we made the restaurant folks come out to our house for no real reason, and validation of my aversion for "mock duck." Yuck.

2. Finn woke up at 5:45 am on Saturday. For the day. He insisted that it was, in fact, at least 6:30 already and clearly time to get up. I sent M. down, and huddled in bed until Lucy woke up at 7:15, convinced that if I went downstairs to deal with Finn, I would end up hurling his useless clock into the woods. Or setting it on fire. I don't deal well with unjustified sleep interruptions.

3. Lucy woke up crabby, crabby, crabby on Saturday. We were weaning her off of her reflux meds, and her crabbiness and refusal to eat breakfast flew us into panicky conversations of "Do you think it's reflux? Should we put her back on the meds? Good lord, WHY ISN'T SHE EATING HER MUFFIN!?!" Ugh. Then she fell asleep on the way to Target, and we realized she was just really tired. I actually carried her around Target (in and out of elevators, as it's a 2-story Target mecca) for over 20-minutes in my arms before she woke up. (BONUS: Bicep/tricep workout? Check.)

4. Post lunch, wandering around a small lake near Target, Lucy leaned over to pick up her precious sippy cup (by the way, precious does not begin to describe the serious feelings of love this girl now has for sippy cups - I'm thinking of throwing her a small wedding so she can marry them), and spit up all over herself. For the first time in about 7 months. M. and I determined that perhaps now is not the time to take Lucy off her reflux meds.

5. Also post lunch and wandering outside, Finn felt the urge to drop the kids off at the pool, if you know what I mean. And M. was forced to violate the typical "bathrooms are for patrons only" rule at a restaurant because when a 3-year-old needs to see a man about a horse, you don't wait. While in the midst of taking care of business, Finn leaned over to check out his progress, just as said progress was being expelled from his body, and... well maybe you can see where I am going with this. Basically, he managed to splash poop on his face. Total unchartered territory right there - public bathroom poop face. I have to hand it to M., he handled it with coolness and aplomb. He's a little more of a germaphobe than I am, so I really give him props on that one.

6. There was whining. And crying. And lots of time outs. To break up the monotony, I decided to turn on the sprinkler in the backyard for the kids to cool off. A pool trip was out of the question since Lucy's Target snooze pushed back her afternoon nap too far to make that practical. The sprinkler was my next best option. Finn enjoyed it, once M. freed the area of a rotting dead bird that had been soiling our patio for a few days (good times). Lucy was less than enthused. She mostly just teetered around, veering wildly for the steep drop off between our backyard and the woods, crying and clutching a soggy rice cake. She made quite the picture, as M. managed to put her swim suit on backwards. She sported a saggy swim diaper drooping out the back, and a baby boob peeking out from the front of her suit (by the way, what's the appropriate term for that? Baby boob sounds a bit lewd, but I didn't really want to throw around the "n" word that rhymes with tipple, you know?). Regardless, M. quickly rescued Lucy from the backyard hell I had arranged, and took her inside just in time to see the U.S. lose their soccer game.

7. M. and I managed to rescue the night once the kids went to bed with a movie, dessert, and some good old-fashioned drinking. But then the cycle began all over again Sunday morning. The day started a bit later (6:15 instead of 5:45), but with no less crabbiness from Lucy. Now officially back on full strength reflux meds, we could only assume that she was simply morphing from a pleasant baby into a dreaded toddler, the cruelest of all monsters. So awful was she, that I decided to throw caution to the wind and put her down for a morning nap. She slept, and we caught up on yard work (yay?). But alas, she woke up from the nap still crabby.

8. M. discovered a wasp nest under our deck.

9. We went grocery shopping, a task I loathe. We all went together, and Finn was waaaaay more than a handful. Lucy did fine once I gave her a snack to munch on (despite the fact that we had JUST eaten lunch).

10. Lucy woke up from her afternoon nap with a 102.5 degree fever. In our third diagnosis of the weekend, we decided that no, really, maybe she's just teething. We looked in her mouth, and lo! There were new teeth. She spent about an hour flopped over on her blankie, lying on the floor, waiting for the ibuprofen to kick in. Then she proceeded to toddle around the living room and whine a lot. Mostly at her brother, but a lot directed at her parents, too.

11. Finn apparently decided he no longer understands tricky things like being nice, or listening to his parents. He pushed his sister around, he raced around the house, he wreaked havoc wherever he went. In the process he scored several time outs. And then, his worst infraction ever - on his way to a time out, he peed in his pants on purpose. Oh, the seething red anger. I am more than OK with accidents - they happen, we clean them up, we move on. For Finn, they basically only happen at night now, and even those are rare. Wetting your pants on purpose - not cool. The little guy earned himself his longest time out yet, mostly because I didn't really want to look at him.

12. After 25 minutes of crying while we cooked dinner, Finn was let out of his room to eat. He fought us all through dinner, begging for a treat and refusing to eat the food in front of him. I decided folding laundry was more fun than dinner, and left the table to do some of THAT, leaving poor M. to police.

13. Long crying jag + dinner + play time on the swing outside = puke. In a last, parting volley of the day, Finn puked all over himself and the playground. Should have seen that one coming. I got to wash not just pee soaked clothes, but puke soaked clothes, too.

14. I hopped on the treadmill for a workout, and discovered that my legs did not work. Just would not run. Why, exactly, am I killing myself with these workouts, when it feels like I'm getting nowhere? I could blame the weeding (I'm still feeling what that did to my hamstrings today), but instead I'll just throw a pity party bemoaning how hard it is for me to workout and get better at something physical, to get in shape and lose weight. It's a constant struggle, and I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere with it.

15. As I tried to finish folding some laundry, Lucy woke up at 9:15, her fever newly spiked. As I fretted about whether she'd be school-worthy the next morning, I gave her some more medicine and rocked her back to sleep. That part, of course, wasn't sucky. A chance to rock my baby that did not include a wee hour of the morning is always inducing of warm fuzzy feelings. But the part where I didn't get to sit down until 9:45 pm, and then had to wait for the dryer to finish before going to bed (because our dryer has a broken switch and won't turn itself off and would just keep going and going and burn the house down and.... Yeah, I know, we should just get that fixed) - well, that part sucked. A sucky cap on a pretty sucky weekend.

On the one hand, I can't help but ask, is it time for vacation yet?

Then the other hand smacks me upside the head and reminds me that we're bringing the kids on this "vacation."

Who, these guys, "difficult"?

The things one finds oneself doing to entertain a child...

I can't explain this, but I swear it was all in good fun

New trick - standing on the couch, launching items up into the ceiling fan. My fear that this will end badly is at odds with his delight in the activity.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ha! Only an hour and a half, now

Editing a 15-page IADSR (50 points to whoever can figure out THAT government acronym) is not exactly taking my mind of my hunger, which was NOT satisfied by the 270 calorie Healthy Choice microwave meal I recently fed it. I need to stop thinking about how a farewell ice cream party (not saying goodbye to ice cream, just a co-worker moving on to a new job) is an excruciating TWO HOURS AWAY. Oh, I bet there will be chocolate! And whipped cream! And chocolate! Clearly this is torture, I'm way too hungry. But if I eat something now, I shall perhaps ruin my chances at a guilt-free ice cream gorging in two hours. So instead, I shall take a moment to distract myself by rambling on about parenting stuff.

First up: This morning, in the car, I asked Finn to be nicer to his Daddy. It's something I commonly do, because Finn is often quite mean to M., particularly in the mornings. If M. is the one to go into Finn's room to get him up once the cries of "I'm awake! I'm awake" echo over the monitor, it's as awful as if someone had taken his favorite blankie and pooped on it. No, he doesn't want Daddy, Daddy has to go away, he wants Mommy! Mommy! Time to get dressed? God forbid it be Daddy who helps him out of his PJs and oversees clothing selection. Must be Mommy!!! Seriously, he really puts M. through the ringer sometimes.

I don't take this to mean much, as M. and Finn have lots and lots of fun together, and I know Finn loves his Daddy. Also, it's pretty common for Finn to start whining that he WANTS HIS DADA! whenever I do anything he doesn't like. Which is quite often, especially as I try to get the kids inside and get dinner started once we all come home from work/school. Oh, you won't let me play outside? I want my dada! Oh, you won't let me turn on the TV until I use the potty? When is my dada coming home?!! Oh, you won't give me ice cream as a before-dinner snack? Damn it, lady, where is my DADDY!?!?!?! (Not that M. would give in to these things, but I guess Finn likes to forget that in the heat of the moment.)

Anywho, this was one of those mornings where M. could do no right where Finn was concerned. So I gently admonished him to be nicer to his father as I drove him and his sister to daycare. And I asked Finn, "Don't you love your Daddy?" His response: "Yes, I do... but Mommy, I just love you the best!"

Oh, snap! He loves me the best! There it is, he said it out loud. OK, so raising a Momma's boy is not really on my agenda, but I reveled in that statement for at least half a second before I said something along the lines of, "Now Finn, your Mommy and Daddy both love you very much. You should really love both of us just as much. It's OK if you like Mommy to do certain things for you, but you love your Daddy and you need to be nicer to him." And then the conversation turned to some construction trucks we were passing, and that was that.

I swear I'm not going to be "That Mother" or "That Mother-In-Law," - you know, the one who controls her son and drives her son's spouse batshit crazy - but I must say, my heart is secretly pleased (I guess not much of a secret anymore) that at least for right now, Finn loves me better than M. I'm sure I'll get mine one of these days, right? Might as well enjoy it while I can...

Next parenting thing: Threats. Especially empty, meaningless threats. Why do I make them? I know I should not. I don't WANT to say all the same things to my kids that my mother once said to me, but it's like they just... slip out. I have no control over it. I always hated the way my mom would hold every fun thing I had to look forward to over my head. Invited to a sleepover? Better clean your room or you're not going! Etc. In all honesty, I gave my mom a lot of shit over the years, and I completely deserved any threatened or actual punishments I received. But it still didn't stop me from hating that she did that. Well, here I am with my own kids, and I'm repeating the pattern. Finn had his first field trip of the summer yesterday - an outing to Romp n Roll (kind of a My Gym-type place). And what did I do? Use it as incentive to get him to do things. Things he should be doing anyway but was refusing to do (picking up his toys, brushing his teeth, etc). Which is just ridiculous, because at no point in time would I actually consider NOT letting him go on the field trip. Refusing to let him go would mean he'd have to stay behind at school, in a different classroom, while all his friends left on the bus. Or that I'd have to stay home from work to take care of him. Neither of those scenarios were ever going to play out, and yet. I made the threat, more than once. Parent of the year, right here. It's like it is the easy way out, and I keep taking it, rather than coming up with more effective ways to parent my kids. One of these days, Finn's going to start calling me on my bluffs. And then I'm screwed.

Final parenting thing: Erm, don't really have another thing. Guess I should have made the second "thing" the final "thing." Enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Night Dinner

On the menu:
Hamburgers on white whole grain buns (2 for M., 1 split between the kids, veggie burger for me)
Cheese, tomato, onion, avocado, pickle slices, ketchup and mustard for the adults
Plain ketchup for the kids
2 slices of cheese (on the side, for the kids)
5 ears of corn on the cob
Milk for the kids

Food consumed:
1 veggie burger
2.3 hamburgers
2.25 ears of corn (admittedly, it was not good corn - very tough)
2 slices of cheese
2 cups of milk

Food thrown on floor:
0.4 of a hamburger, cut into small pieces
1 ear of corn, thrown 3 times
1 cup of milk, also thrown 3 times
Several plain pasta noodles, given to appease shouting toddler who would not eat anything else (including said noodles)

In pictorial:

Lucy enjoying a bite of her corn the "right" way.

Lucy demonstrating how she usually tries to eat corn on the cob, by gnawing on the kernel-less ends.

M. is clearly angry that the corn was disappointingly tough, on this his Celebratory Day of Fatherhood.

Finn looks angry here, but is probably just concentrating hard on getting the bite with the least meat and most ketchup possible.

Lucy is contemplating throwing something on the floor. Maybe the tough corn?



Dessert - a "dummy" worm

So ready for bed, or at least for someone to take that piece of cheese out of her hair
This is a typical view of how my living room looks by the end of every weekend. I can tell you are all jealous.

And now some non-dinner pictures while I'm here, since I haven't had a chance to post many photos lately:

The kids have found a new "hiding" spot wedged in between the kitchen wall and the back of their play kitchen (if you call constant giggling and calls of "you can't find us" hiding). If Lucy looks a little alarmed here, it likely means she was. She often gets dragged into Finn's little hiding spots involuntarily.

Finn is a constant, constant source of questions, which is a blog post in and of itself. But the latest adult activity he has become determined to spoil with incessant why's and what's is my Saturday morning magazine reading. Here he is paging through the Economist and demanding to know the meaning behind a satirical cartoon. Not so easy to break down into 3-year-old speak...

Once you move past those gorgeous blue eyes, you may notice 2 Batmen (Batmans?) that appear to be passed out and an Iron Man missing 2 limbs. Fighting crime is a tough job.

Bonus pic. I won't even try to come up with an appropriately witty figure legend, I'll just point out that of the 3 items of clothing Finn is wearing here, one of those is a pair of my dirty gym socks.

Edited to add: Sorry the resolution of my photos is so crappy - seems to be an upload issue. Is anyone else having trouble getting Blogger to publish your photos at a decent resolution? This seems worse than usual, maybe something changed recently?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Life's Lessons

It is our usual practice to ask Finn how his day was and what he did at school during dinner time. Sometimes (usually) this seems like an exercise in futility, as he rarely answers with anything more than "good" and "I played with my friends." Scintillating, no? Last night, however, we got this for an answer, "Aidan and I pretended to be bad guys stealing someone's puppy."

Um, OK. How to respond here? A "that's nice, dear" doesn't really seem to cut it.

My reaction was actually one of humor, and the thought that at least he's using his creative side, right? At least he's not ACTUALLY stealing a puppy. But I wanted to know more. So, between smiles and chuckles, M. and I quizzed Finn on this little play scenario.

Who's puppy were you stealing? Keira's.
(As one of only two girls in Finn's class, she often gets the brunt of any imaginary play, she is always the one in need of rescuing/in peril.)

Did anyone try to stop you from stealing the puppy? Yes, a super hero.
(Finn has been getting really interested in super heroes over the last few months. It must be an age thing, as he has never really seen any movies or TV shows about super heroes, they just sort of appeared on his radar and he's been running with it. Currently Spider Man and Iron Man are his favorites, but he's also very curious about Super Man, Batman, and the Incredible Hulk.)

Which super hero? Iron Man.

Was Keira upset you were trying to steal her puppy? No, we were just pretending, so it's OK. But Miss Z. (teacher) says we can't pretend to be married.

OK, wha...? I was tracking with the fake puppy stealing story, but now we're talking fake marriage? Has someone been taking tips from Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag again?

Upon further conversation, it seems as though one of the 4-year-olds in the next classroom up wanted to "pretend marry" one of his classmates (meaning Finn was not the groom in question). Miss Z. overheard this and told the two involved children "We don't pretend to be married" (Imagine Finn retelling this in as stern a voice as a 3-year-old can muster). I'm not really sure what catastrophic event Miss Z. thought was going to happen next. Simulated sex in the playground playhouse, perhaps? For goodness sake, these kids are barely more than babies! Pretend marriage is harmless enough. My brother may not remember, but I have plenty of memories of dressing him and a childhood friend up and forcing the two of them to marry each other. All in good fun, right, Andrew? Of course, perhaps that has had repercussions into his adult life I hadn't anticipated...

Bottom line, Finn's lesson from school yesterday: Stealing puppies is OK, marriage is bad

If we can just stress that the puppies should be stolen from puppy farms only, and not loving homes, I'm pretty sure there are plenty of activists out there that would call this one a victory :-).

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Slippery Slope?

M. and I are officially immersed in planning for our week-long beach vacation this summer. Once nearly a year away, we now have only about 6 weeks to go until the much anticipated trip arrives. You may think, "Oh, how relaxing, a week at the beach." And then I let you know that we are going to be taking this trip with 30 of my closest family members. And all of us are sharing two houses together (large though they may be).

So perhaps (or definitely) this trip will not be relaxing. I don't care, though, I'm super excited for it. For a number of reasons. First, my kids have never been to the beach. Which is just crazy in my mind, because with few exceptions, my family spent at least two weeks on Cape Cod every summer of my childhood. I think even when my sisters and I were only 3 months old (prematurely born triplets, fresh out of the NICU - crazy then? No. Crazy now? Maybe), we were likely schlepped to the beach for a couple of weeks. It's just how things were done (colic be damned! Which I apparently had, as my mother likes to remind me). Second, the trip is in honor of my maternal grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. SIXTY! YEARS! It's just so amazing and wonderful. Ten years ago we all got together for the same vacation - one week in the Outer Banks, NC - and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. And I'm so glad that we can all come together to do it all again, ten years later. It's crazy to think of how things have changed since then. My sisters and I, all unmarried at the time, have gotten married and started families. Between the three of us, an uncle and a cousin, eight new members of the family have been born. There are new husbands, wives, significant others. Numerous cousins have finished high school, started and finished college, started careers. Since I live far away from all of them, and rarely get to see everyone, I cannot wait to catch up and hang out.

Work has been stressful for longer than I can remember, and we had a HARD winter. I need a vacation in the worst way. Needless to say, I have been anticipating and pining for and planning for and looking forward to this vacation for what seems like forever. But now we are legitimately close to the trip, and I am justified in my preparations. It's OK if I buy the kids water shoes, they will likely still fit in to them by the time we hit the beach. Swim diaper coupons can be used before they expire. A detailed and ever-growing packing list has been started. Every weekend shopping trip to Target involves conversations like "Ooh, hey, $5 movies, maybe we should buy some for the car ride," or "Do you think we need a canopy for the beach?"

Most of our discussions have centered on our mode of transportation to the beach, however. We have long planned to purchase a new car just before this beach vacation. At a very manageable 5.5 hour predicted route, we will definitely be driving to the Outer Banks. However, given our two children (with two car seats), multiple suitcases, beach chairs, pack 'n play, booster seat, and various other planned trappings, there is no way we can actually drive to the beach in one of our fairly compact (now defunct) Saturn sedans. Our older car is nearly 11 years old, and we can safely justify purchasing a new car. A bigger car, in fact. But nothing crazy, nothing really big. And NOT a minivan. I, like many other women of my generation who spent many road hours in a minivan while growing up, have sworn an oath to NEVER own a one. Despite M.'s best arguments (he would love it if we got one), I am determined to keep this oath. With only two kids and no large pets that need to travel with us (I frequently forget that we even HAVE a cat, no way would she come on vacation with us), I cannot see any valid reason or excuse to actually own a minivan.

We went to the trouble of testing several small/mid-sized SUVs, and even selected the car we would like to buy - the Chevy Equinox. It has a little less cargo space than the Honda CRV, but at 32 mpg on the highway is very fuel efficient (yet not as expensive as a hybrid). Unfortunately, everyone and their brother apparently wants to buy an Equinox. As such, Chevy is a barren desert when it comes to incentives and deals to purchase this in-demand car. We have been watching and waiting, but with crappy financing rates and no cash back in the last 6 months, we have not been able to pull the trigger. And now it's too late. At this point, if we ordered a car (low inventory at all the Chevy dealerships due to popularity means we can't just walk up and buy one), it would take 8 weeks to get to us. Two weeks AFTER our beach vacation.

Our new strategy is to wait a bit longer on buying the new car, closer to the release of the new 2011 models (and keeping our fingers crossed that a 2010 model of the trim we want will still be available then) when there should be some good deals. And in the meantime, we are renting a car for our beach vacation. A much larger car than the ones we currently own. A minivan, in fact. Lord help me, I hope I don't like it.

I will end this nonsense post here, but put out a plea. For those of you that have undertaken beach vacations with young children, what did you bring that you didn't actually need? What was right on the money? What did you not bring with you that you wish you had? Your tips are welcome!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Making A Liar Out Of Me

My last post demonstrated some of the havoc Lucy is able to wreak from a mere few inches off the ground, crawling. Well, as of this weekend, her havoc-wreaking tentacles have extended:

This happened, of course, about two hours after I left town for a few days. Mommy leaves, Lucy decides to start walking. Because why would Mommy want to see that anyway, right? Perfect timing. Apparently she was sitting in her PB Anywhere chair, stood up, and started walking. Just decided it was time, I guess.

We are not up to full time walking yet, there is still plenty of crawling mixed in. But we are definitely getting there, and despite my failure to witness the big milestone firsthand, I couldn't be happier. All of that crawling on the playground at school that is completely ruining Lucy's brand new white sneakers may have something to do with my happiness, but I'm also thrilled that she's found a new talent that she loves practicing.

This weekend marked another Lucy milestone, too - Lucy is now completely bottle-free. I thought it would be a huge struggle, because Lucy LOVED her bottles. She got so excited to see them, and would do no more than throw any sippy cups filled with milk. We hadn't been forcing the issue at all, but something seemed to just click, and all of a sudden Lucy started getting excited when we brought out a sippy cup for her (or her brother). So we just went with it, and ditched the bottles cold turkey. Surprisingly, it has worked out really, really well.

As I mentioned, I left town for a few days. I went from a 3-year-old with an attitude occasionally bordering on teenager-ish:

and a 1-year old who just learned to walk and drink from a cup:

to this:

Oh, the contrast! My babies are babies no longer! I happened to have a work trip in the Boston area, and used the opportunity to spend a couple of days with my sister, MommyEsq, her husband, her 21-month old twins, and her brand new baby girl Josephine Alice (Josie). Josie was only 5 days old when I arrived, and so adorable! I had lots of fun holding her and remembering all those sleepy, cuddly newborn days (the good parts only, of course). If MommyEsq or any of my siblings want to have dozens of kids, I'd be totally supportive - I'd come take care of them whenever they wanted! This baby factory may be closed, but I love, love, love new little babies, and I couldn't be happier for the Esq family.