Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Put Your Own Title Here, I'm Going to Bed

So sorry to leave you all hanging there on poor Winnie's demise and how we broke it to the kids. We ended up telling them right after finishing dinner last Monday - we told them that Winnie got sick and died, and that we were very sad about it (to put "death" in a bit of context for them). Finn insisted on seeing Winnie - and we obliged, as we hadn't disposed of the body yet. He was curious and sad and seemed to think that Winnie died because he/she ate the blue gravel at the bottom of the tank. We tried explaining that it was just bad germs, but... who knows, kids get strange ideas in their heads. I think he still believes it was the blue stuff.

I opted against holding a "funeral" in the bathroom - I thought having the kids watch us flush the body might be too macabre or traumatizing or just destined to be the topic of many, many future conversations. But we did go around the table and each say something nice about Winnie. Things like "I really liked how we could see through Winnie." Scintillating stuff, as I'm sure you can imagine.

By the next morning, Winnie was mostly a distant memory. I caught Finn trying to reach the tank a couple of days later, when he noticed it sitting in its usual spot. Which, ahem, we still had not actually cleaned out yet. Including the body. Gross, I know. I cleaned it out that night.

This past weekend we were at the pet store to buy cat-related items, and the kids were (per usual) absolutely fascinated with all the fish. I think they could have watched them for hours. I sense there is a fish or two in our future, once we feel ready to risk a wet pet once again.

I'd blog more, but I'm exhausted. Lucy has been waking up at night recently, and only MOMMY will do to settle her down. About 20% of me really enjoys that, and the other 80% just wants to sleep 7 hours without interruption. So rather than scouring my brain for more a) entertaining stories, or b) complaints about my children, I shall pour myself into bed and get ready for wake up call #1. Should be coming in about 3 hours.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yet Somehow We've Been Trusted With The Care and Survival of Two Humans

Bit of a Situation here at the M. household. I think I neglected to mention this on the blog earlier, but we gained a new family pet about a month and a half ago. It's a frog - well, a tadpole, really. One of those "Grow-a-Frog" kits that lets you watch a tadpole transform into an adult frog. It was a gift from my mom to Finn for Christmas (the kit - we had to send away for the tadpole), and was given in the spirit of reminiscing about my childhood in a sense, because when I was a girl I had a Grow-a-Frog. It lived in my bedroom until it metamorphosed into a frog and began singing it's little froggy heart out every night, keeping me awake. It's tank (it? I can't remember if it was a girl or a boy, but I think I called it Freddie) was moved to an upstairs hallway, and there it lived far longer than probably anyone ever wanted it to. My mom claimed that one day it hopped out of its tank and, since she was too grossed out to pick it up, it hopped away and was living out its remaining (likely short, since it was amphibious) time on this earth somewhere in the cracks and crevices of our house. Though now that I think back on it, this seems like a suspect story, like one of those "we brought the dog to a farm where he has more space to run" white lies. May have to pursue that further with my mother.

Anyway, my point is, the frog was easy to care for and it lived a decently long time. We decided that even we would have trouble messing this up, so we sent away for the tadpole and promptly forgot about it. The company understandably does not ship these creatures out willy-nilly in the winter - they carefully check weather reports and wait for a long stretch of above-freezing weather before each shipment goes out. Thus it wasn't until early February or so that M. got a knock on the door from the mail carrier (in a happy coincidence, he was working from home that day) with a surprise tadpole package for us.

The tadpole was installed in the tank and named Winnie (because he/she is see-through, like a window). Caring for it is simple - feed it once a day with the food it came with, and every week or so, remove about a quarter of the tank water and replace it with fresh bottled water. We keep the tank up on a high shelf in the living room built-ins, to keep it out of reach of our destructive cat. This makes it a little more difficult to remember to feed it, but we've been pretty good about bringing it down to the dinner table most nights so that Winnie could entertain us during our dinner conversation. Finn is the one in charge of feeding it for the most part, and he is very proud of "doing his chores."

Very quickly, the tadpole sprouted teeny-tiny back legs, so everything seemed to be going well. However, development seemed to go verrrrrrrrry slooooooooooooowly after that, to the point where we were seeing zero progress. The back legs remained tiny, and there were no front legs to speak of. According to our instructions, the optimal conditions in the tank included slightly cloudy water, but things soon became VERY cloudy. It almost seemed as though Winnie wasn't really eating his/her food. Admittedly, there were a couple of lengthy-ish stretches (3 or 4 days) where we completely dropped the ball on feeding him/her, but really, it seemed like less of a priority since Winnie wasn't eating what we gave her/him in the first place.

I'm sure, by now, you can see where this is going. Last night, I noticed Winnie was slow to respond to my shakes and jiggles of the tank while I put in some fresh water and food. She/he was still swimming around a bit, but was also spending a fair amount of time drifting listlessly on a half-cocked angle. I'm no expert, but I could tell that this was not looking good. Tonight, M. went to grab Winnie to bring him/her to the dinner table, and discovered the poor thing belly up on the bottom of the tank. There is no mistaking it. Winnie is quite dead.

We quickly covered with the kids by pretending that M. had been up from the table for other reasons, and when they asked about Winnie, we told them that Winnie had already been fed. Lies, lies!

Now we are torn. The kids have not really dealt with death yet, and Lucy is of course still far too young to understand it anyway. But at four and a half, Finn is probably not going to just forget to ask about Winnie if we quietly clean out the tank and put it away. He's also not likely to believe that Winnie somehow escaped and went for a swim down the bathtub drain (right? or maybe...?). I think we're going to have to fess up that Winnie died. The plan is to bring out the tank tomorrow night, gently break it to the table that Winnie got sick and died, and then hold a little "funeral" in the bathroom where we say a few kind words and flush the corpse down the toilet.

Is this a bad idea? Is Finn too young for this? Will seeing the body travel down the toilet traumatize him? Also, I'm not too sure what to do with Lucy while all this is going on. I definitely don't want her to see the flushing, because she will lose her shit. If I give her water in the "wrong" cup, she loses her shit, so I'm pretty sure that seeing her beloved Winnie get flushed is going to create a tantrum the likes of which we haven't yet seen.

Please, share with me your advice! Also, we are considering getting a replacement froglet (they will apparently send us one for free) or perhaps another pet, like a goldfish. Is this pure folly?

RIP Winnie. We loved you, though we hardly knew you...

(Photo from amcgltd.com. Because ours is bloated and belly up, and not exactly picture-worthy. Note the clean tank, a likely clue that this one is healthy.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Up Close and Personal with Bodily Fluids

that aren't my own.

In the last 7 days, I have:

- Wiped gooey eye gunk from a child's eyes.
- Scraped crusty eye gunk from a child's eyelashes.
- Cleaned up liquid-y vomit from the front hall.
- Washed vomit and poop off of two outfits.
- Cleaned up chunky vomit from a pillowcase.
- Cleaned up chunky vomit from a changing pad cover.
- Thrown away a pillow covered in vomit.
- Given a child a bath to clean off.. yup, vomit.
- Given a child a bath to clean off diarrhea.
- Changed several diarrhea-filled diapers.
- Washed diarrhea from two chair covers and a blanket.
- Poked my finger in a (thankfully clean) diaper to check for more diarrhea.
- Cleaned a puddle of pee on the bathroom floor.

Isn't parenthood glamorous?

All of the above bodily fluids came from Lucy. The poor thing came down with pink eye late last week. We avoided eye drops because she was also fortunate enough (?) to get diagnosed with an ear infection at the same time. Oral antibiotics it was! She was home most of Thursday and all of Friday with me. This Tuesday, she came down with a stomach bug. Which (likely in part thanks to the antibiotics) quickly turned into a puking-and-pooping variety stomach bug. M. stayed home with her yesterday and changed many of those diarrhea diapers. I say this to show you that he is no stranger to dealing with his children's bodily fluids. However, he could not get over the idea that I stuck my finger in Lucy's diaper to see if it needed to be changed. I ask you - how else was I supposed to do it? Lucy was asleep in her crib in a dark room. I couldn't see, couldn't smell anything, didn't want to wake her, and couldn't reach far enough into the crib to pull her pants down and check through the sides of her diaper (dude, I am short!). So I stuck my finger in to feel around. What was the worst that could happen? I'd get a fingerful of poop? Ha! Not a problem for this chick. A little poop on the finger is NOTHING when you've been puked on the number of times I have been puked on. All in a day's work. Oh, and thank god for Oxy Clean!

So, in between illnesses, I did my best to take some pictures of the kids for your viewing enjoyment. I must preface the photos with this background:

Lately we've been bringing Finn's backpack to and from school every day to make it easier to cart home the boatloads of artwork he produces every day, and the occasional sheet of homework that needs to be prevented from being crushed or lost, and subsequently completed and returned. Naturally, this has sparked Lucy's interest in backpacks, and last week she conned me in to buying one for her. She's had it for less than a week, and is completely obsessed with it:

As you can see, it is a Dog backpack. Such is the extent of Lucy's obsession, she actually woke up crying at around 4 o'clock in the morning a few days ago, calling for "Woof woof." We don't have a dog. I'm pretty sure she was asking for her backpack. As you can see in the pictures below, she wears it whenever she can, and when she can't wear it (for example, in the car), she cries and clutches it to her chest.

Currently the backpack is hiding in a closet so that we can abate the obsession a bit. We're hoping for the "out of sight, out of mind" phenomenon to kick in.

A pink-eyed, goofy Lucy

Last week Dr. Seuss's birthday was celebrated in daycares across the nation. Finn and Lucy ate green eggs and ham and created several Seussian works of art, including "Thing 1".

Random cute picture

Lucy modeling my hairband - looks much better on her!

Trying on her dad's shoes (with the ever present backpack, of course)

Finn posing with his masterpiece, an airbus made of every block from one of the sets we have.

Nice weather over the weekend meant we got outside to do some yardwork, while Finn and Lucy dusted off the neglected sandbox. They thrilled me by playing very well together, teaming up to fill and dump this dump truck repeatedly.

It was sandy, but rewarding.

Dessert, anyone?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rise and Shine!

The last few mornings, at least one of our two children, if not both, have woken up earlier than one might desire. Nothing terrible - pre-dawn, of course, but given that we pretty much leave the house pre-dawn since it's still wintery and all, that's not as awful as it sounds. And not pre-6 am, either, which is my absolute you-must-stay-in-bed-until-at-least-this-reasonable-time time. However, they have been waking up and calling for us (in Lucy's case, and sometimes Finn's case) or traipsing upstairs to surprise us (Finn only, given that his sister is trapped in a cage-like bed still), shortly after 6 am. M. and I are always both up already by this time, but barely. The eyes are still blinking (long, long blinks), and the neurons are still slow to fire. And we typically still have a fair amount to do for OURSELVES so that we can then be ready to deal with the kids. Things like showering and dressing and brushing teeth and putting on make-up (me only) or shaving (M. only, because seriously, it's winter. Do you think I'm shaving?).

Such was the case this morning, when as I turned off the shower water and reached for my towel, I heard Finn's little voice pre-announcing his entrance as he appeared at the top of the bathroom steps (our master bathroom is inside our master bedroom, but up a short flight of steps. A flight of steps that does not have a door at the top, I might add, a design I am now questioning).

Finn kept us company (with an unending litany of questions) as M. and I continued doing the many things we needed to do for ourselves before we could go downstairs to get the kids ready. For me, this included (obviously) getting dressed, given my "in the shower" status when Finn arrived. I hung my towel up, and turned to walk in to the closet to pick out some clothes. As I did so, I heard Finn ask M. "Daddy, why does Mommy's butt shake up and down when she walks?"

And then I wondered at what age one might consider instituting a "no nudity" rule around one's kids.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Highly Recommend

A few things I've been loving lately:

1. Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges

I don't know how I lived without these before. They are creamy and flavorful (I've tried Garlic a& Herb, French Onion, and Queso Fresco & Chipotle and all taste GREAT) and can be used on SO MANY THINGS. Carrots, crackers, sandwiches, bagels, burgers... I'm still finding new ways to use these delightful triangles. I discovered them thanks to Weight Watchers, since they represent only one Points Plus value (the lower, the better!) and they make for part of a filling but low-cal snack. LOVE.

2. These pants (sorry, can't find a picture to throw in here, you'll have to just follow the link):
I went on a mini-shopping spree at Kohls one day, and found these gems. They have these hidden elastic panels inside the waistband that sound like they'd be old lady-ish and lame but they are not. THEY ARE AWESOME. So comfortable and flattering. I love, love these pants. Plus, they have them in petite sizes - and the petite sizes are broken out even further into short, medium and tall. You know what that means, fellow shorties - no alterations necessary. I bought two pairs (black and light grey, which I don't see listed on the link), and would have gone for more if they had more colors in my size.

3. New songs to my running mix that are particularly motivational: Dog Days Are Over by Florence & the Machine (and the Glee version, too!); Africa by Toto; Love The Way You Lie by Eminem feat. Rihanna; Teenage Dream by Katy Perry (yeah, yeah, I know. But imagining as I am running that I will magically transform into M.'s teenage dream in skin-tight jeans does make me pick up the pace a little. And yes, I am a bit embarrassed to admit this). Sorry, I'm too lazy to find links, you'll have to find the songs yourself.

4. This post, which very accurately portrays, in my mind, the nature of young kids in general and, more specifically, a taste of what I go through every day when I try to capture my two children at daycare and wrestle them home. Also just about any other post on that particular blog, as it's author is quite good with the English language and making it convey interesting and funny thoughts about parenthood and life.

5. Finally, this post, and just about any Charlie Sheen joke that's currently out there.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Mercurial Nature of Toddlers, Etc

I'm clearly out of the habit of blogging, and searching for some inspiration to kick start my motivation again. If you think of something, let me know.

In the meantime, back to my old stand by of unrelated/bulleted goings-on.

1. Lucy is equal parts adorable and infuriating lately. The adorable parts? She is opinionated - likes to provide commentary on any TV shows or whatever is on the radio. She is her mother's daughter, telling her father "I no YIKE dis" whenever he has a sports game on TV. She is the only person I know who actually requests commercials while we listen to the radio. I am sure this is just to annoy her brother, who is constantly asking for less talking from the radio on our car rides, and more actual music. She has also been using the potty on occasion lately, so that's cool.

In fact, she used it tonight right before bedtime, and the whole family happened to be in the bathroom when she did it. What, isn't your bathroom communal? Anyway, I think we shocked her with the vociferous-ness of our cheering and clapping. Finn was so excited he fell over. The excitement carried over into our bedtime singing, where I made up a song about how proud I was of her use of the potty. Lucy heard the first verse (pure poetry, I'm telling you), and insisted I create a second one that mentioned that she also flushed the toilet by herself. Like I said, adorable, no?

But the infuriating, oh, she can make my blood boil, too. She goes from happy to screaming in .5 seconds flat, over the tiniest little infractions that are impossible to predict. And SOMETIMES she might deign to eat a bit of dinner. MOST of the time, though, she'd prefer to just make a mess of it and herself, and spit out the few morsels she puts in her mouth.

The worst, though, is the hitting. The girl can be violent. You wouldn't expect it, because she walks right up to you, all smiling and cute, and then she boxes your ears with both hands. BOOM! And suddenly you realize you've been taken out by a 1-year-old. She thinks it's hysterical. And she also thinks that saying a sing-song "Sorry!" fixes everything. But lo, it does not. So we have been ramping up the time outs, made more difficult by the fact that she now refuses to stay IN time out, which we used to hold over on the stairway in the living room. Now we need to haul her kicking and squirming body all the way up to her bedroom and dump her in to her crib for approximately 1 minute and 50 seconds. Give or take. Then haul her back down. Oh, the joys.

I said this would be bulleted, and here I am writing paragraphs and such. I can't even seem to get the hang of lazy blogging lately.

2. I signed up for my first race of the year, an 8K that is being held in less than 4 weeks. I was nervous about it at first, because I took quite a bit of time off from running around the holidays and the extended sick period that followed. By the time I started back up, I was having trouble slogging through 2 miles. I wanted to run a 5-mile-ish race, but I imagined that it would be a bit later in the year. However, opportunity knocked in the form of a co-worker/friend who convinced me that I'd be fine. As a result, I've been trying to run about 3 times a week the last couple of weeks, and I think it's true that I will be fine. It will be hard, no doubt, but do-able without feeling like I'm dying. In fact, I ran my fastest 5K time yet tonight - 33:38 - under an 11-minute mile. Granted, it was on a treadmill so there were no hills, but I'm feeling pretty good about it.

3. Tomorrow is yet another Picture Day at the kids' daycare. I'm 0 for 4 in getting decent shots of Lucy, so I'm not holding out much hope here. Did I mention that last time, Lucy's session went so badly that they didn't even bother printing out any proofs to show me? Yeah, that bad. So I didn't want to go all out in the hopes that this picture day will go any better. But I did buy them coordinating shirts just in case the sibling photo happens to involve a sufficiently small amount of screaming and crying as to allow a photo to be taken. Nothing outrageous, as Finn and Lucy will undoubtedly wear these shirts many times in the future. And no head-to-toe new outfits, they will be wearing jeans on the bottom. I'm slowly learning my lesson here.

4. The kids have started taking swimming lessons again. I was hoping to get Lucy in to a class where I didn't have to get in the water with her, but alas, such a class is not offered on the weekends (dratted schedules designed for SAH parents!). So in to the pool with her I go. And it has become apparent that I was a crazy tool to even think that Lucy was ready for a swimming class where she is expected to sit on the side of the pool with three other kids, wait for her turn, and then listen to an instructor who would also touch her and hold her and make her do swimming-type things.

Because swimming-type things? They are apparently torture, didn't you know? The way Lucy carries on during this class! The crying every time I try to tip her onto her back in the water. Even though her head is right. on. my. shoulder. With all the struggling and attempts to flip herself over, she may actually end up drowning herself in the process of trying to avoid drowning.

I don't really know what to do. I'm paying $68 a month to torture my child. And yet she really, really likes swimming. At the very end of class, all the kids get inserted into teeny-tiny white inner tubes, and they spend some time doing "free swim" (if by "free swim" you mean "Mommy is hovering nearby and constantly putting a hand out to right the tippy child but at the same time trying to instill independence"). Lucy LOVES free swim. Laughs delightedly the entire time. And I fear that when we are back at the neighborhood pool this summer, she is going to do what she did last year, and pretend like she really does know how to swim. Marching confidently if wobbily into the water and falling down every 3.2 seconds. And then requiring assistance to get up again. But crying if you dare try to put her into some kind of flotation device. And given M. and I heart attacks constantly. It would be nice if she had a little more KNOWLEDGE of swimming-related things, is all I'm saying.

Finn, by the way, is doing great. He's already gotten two ribbons for floating on his back, and is getting more confident. I think it will be a good summer for swimming with him. Not that he'll actually swim by himself, per se, but I think we'll have to spend less of it actually holding him in the water.

I have more to say, but feel like I've blathered on enough for now. Gee, look at that, I haven't felt like I've had much to blog about, but get me started and I don't know when to stop. Hopefully I will hang on to my trailing thoughts and shape them into more, and more regular, blog posts for your consumption. And pictures. Hopefully I'll get some of those up here soon, too.