Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Don't Even Drink Milk

Who cries over spilled milk? Apparently, me.

But only if it's the last straw in one of those days where I kept asking myself: "Where has this day gone? And why can't I accomplish anything, except walk around in the ten foot path between the kitchen table and sink?"

These are the days I find myself discouraged, sure there is no escape from "measuring out my life with coffee spoons."*

These are the days when I'm always tempted to write down what I actually have accomplished, but I'm never sure if it will make me feel better, or just more defeated.

I never follow through, and I wonder if one day, when I get beyond the spilled milk stage, I'll even trust my memory of such days. So, for today, here are the things I did before I did indeed cry over a puddle of spilled milk:

Morning routine for all three kids and me.

Take biggest boy to bus stop.

Make sure wig for "W" show and tell is in girly's backpack.

Pack snack for smallest boy since he will be accompanying me to volunteer in biggest boy's class. Choose snack that will not get ground to crumbs on said classroom floor.

Take girly to preschool.

Drive back home to get stroller to contain small boy.

Text other parent volunteer to make sure there is still work to be done in classroom, since I am now late.

Help first graders decorate pumpkins with glitter and glue.

Check lost and found for coat biggest boy left at Tae Kwon Do.

Have prickly conversation with school secretary about lost and found, wherein I feel compelled to remind her that I am not the first grader, but decide this should be self-evident.

Grocery shopping, during which baby boy fills his pants with what seems like at least a week's worth of poop.

Forgo planned flu shot in favor of changing diaper in grocery store parking lot.

Consider throwing away pants and onesie along with diaper and wipes.

Cost/benefit analysis of finding clean pants for smallest boy or putting away frozen items in four minutes I have before becoming late to get girly at school.

Take pantless boy into preschool pickup.

Lunch prep.

Lift dog's useless hind end up so she can get out from under the high chair.

Look at baskets of laundry to be put away.

Read books to girly.

Supervise glitter gluing.

Chase toddler out of bathrooms and bedrooms. Gather contents of assorted drawers from assorted rooms in house scattered on floor and return them to rightful places. Close doors. Cost/benefit analysis of finding alternative homes for items in fast dwindling high shelf space or replacing broken child safety latches. Chase toddler out of bathrooms and bedrooms. Ask preschooler to keep doors closed. Gather contents of assorted drawers. Close doors. Repeat on infinite loop.

Get biggest boy off bus.

Admire new Pokemon cards.

Break up five arguments and wrestling matches.

Redirect toddler away from Pokemon cards.

Troubleshoot inoperable Wii via text message and google search.

Search family room, living room and kitchen for television remote. Retrieve from laundry room floor.

Parcel out half bag of candy corn piece by piece to screaming/pointing toddler.

Brainstorm potential solutions to "toddler standing up in high chair, built in buckle useless" problem.

Set off smoke alarm twice while heating pan for french toast. Turn on exhaust fan. Let dog outside. Try to see it as blessing that otherwise deaf dog can still hear smoke alarm. Turn off exhaust fan because french toast no longer cooking because all heat being sucked down exhaust.

Set off smoke alarm.

Fire safety lecture to children still watching television.

Ask children to clear off table. (Repeat three times)

Serve french toast, cut up apples and cups of milk amidst four books, a green pumpkin, a wipes box full of markers, five sheets of glitter glued construction paper, two piles of Pokemon cards, a red sweater, a headband, a notebook, and a singing bear toy.

Cry (while retrieving a wad of paper towels) when one cup of milk is now a puddle and the aforementioned are all now soggy.

*Pardon me, Mr. Eliot. How should I presume?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dear N.,

A little late for your fourth birthday...

Dear N:

You’ve been four years old for nearly two months now, and already it seems you’re a different girl than the three year old who had no idea how to answer when someone asked you how old you were. Now you’re confident with those four fingers, holding them up proudly. I’m pretty proud of the four year old you are becoming.

Now that you’re at preschool three mornings a week, it’s no longer a big deal for you to run off and play when we meet up with your new best friend at the indoor playground. Yes, you have a new best friend. And this year, I think she likes you back. (Phew!) I’m so glad you finally have some of your own friends to talk about and schedule playdates with. While I hope your big brother never ceases to be your very best friend, the one whose name you will chant over and over until he finally responds to you with attention, the one about whom you are inconsolable if he decides not to play with you, the school day is long, and we have more than two years until you’re there with him.

Those days when O. is at school, you’re always looking for a project for you and I to complete together. “But what can we dooooo?” you wheedle when I’ve asked you to spend too much time merely playing with your ponies, babies, Barbies or princess paraphernalia. And doing something apparently means crafting of some sort, or finding a very particular image to print out on the computer, or baking something, or having me sit right next to you while you set up your dollhouse. I fear we will soon run out of projects and money to spend at the craft store. Also, there does come a time when I have to fold some laundry and deal with the dirty dishes, so we’re working on getting you to play independently more often.

When we’re not doing projects, you pick up L. and carry him around like he still needs help to get from one spot to another. You move him away from your toys when you don’t want him messing with the Squinkies or Polly Pockets, and move him back next to you when you want some company. He’s amazingly good natured about being hoisted around by his armpits, and every time I am reminded of that illustration from the book Olivia, where Olivia moves the cat.

You do an excellent job helping to take care of your baby cousins when they are at our house on Mondays. You bring them toys that you know that are appropriate and that will make them smile, you share your blankets with them, and talk to them so sweetly. You can’t wait until you can be the big girl cousin to them and show them all of the things that are your favorite things about being a girl in our family.

You are a girly girl, it is true, still insisting on dresses and tutus and other outfits that once you put on cause you say “Won’t everyone say I’m beautiful?” You want to wear makeup and ask me to paint your nails every day. You refuse to take something in for show and tell if it is not “girlish.” And you delight in having older girl cousins, always writing them notes to stick in the mail, and were delighted when one of our projects was to make purses out of fleece you picked out so that all the girl cousins could match.

However, the girly thing doesn’t mean you shy away from anything. If anything, to you, being a girl means being strong and determined and sure of yourself, and for that I am so thankful. Even if it means listening to you say “You don’t untroll (control) me! Only God untrolls me!” Or “I can change my mind if I want to! I am not doing soccer (or ballet, or going to school) today!” You like to have your hair fixed sometimes, but if it is a little unruly and you don’t feel like sitting still to have the tangles combed out of it, you let me know that “I don’t cay if my hay is cwazy! I can handle my hay!”

You continue to be a funny, funny girl. At your preschool open house, your teacher told me how often you make her laugh, and this pleased me immensely, because it means you’re getting to be your real true self when you’re at school, not too quiet and shy. You crack yourself up on a near hourly basis, finding something silly in nearly every situation.

Your old standby to guarantee yourself a chuckle goes like this: “Mommy, do you remember that sign in the new hotel* in the elevator? Orange you glad you had breakfast?” Hilarious giggles from you. It never gets old, except to O. You are so proud of yourself for having this memory, and swear you will never forget it.

Some other recent crack ups have included the following.

A joke:

Knock Knock

Who’s There?

Banana Split

Banana Split Who?

Oh, it’s only a joke, don’t cry little baby ice cream!

A little conversation with yourself at the lunch table:

Who’s the funny girl? N.!

Who’s the cutest boy? L.!

Who’s the one that plays with me all day? O.!

Who’s Daddy? Awesome!

What is Mommy? A princess, like me!

What does Daddy do? Take out the trash!

And so does O.! And even L.!

The girls are the princesses and the boys take out the trash!

Conversation with Daddy:

N: Can we go to DisneyLand? There is an Ariel thing there.

Daddy: We’re going to go to DisneyWorld someday. It’s in Florida. DisneyLand is in California, and that’s the Land of Fruits and Nuts. **

N: There are nuts there?

Daddy: Yes.

N: It’s okay. I won’t eat them!

Showing off for your brother:

N: F-O-O-D spells food!

O: Huh? F-O-O-D. That does spell food. You can spell?

N: Yes! F-O-O-D spells food!

O: Where did you learn that?

N: I just knowed it.

O: Oh. I know. You learned it from Team Rocket.

This weekend, when we were out to dinner, you predictably had to go to the bathroom the moment we sat down. Grumbling, I took you into the stall, saying “you know, you really need to go potty before we leave the house. Visiting every public bathroom is not my favorite thing.” You looked up at me and sweetly said, “What is your favorite thing, Mommy? Your birthday? My favorite things are birthdays, and watching shows, and eating candy!” Returning to the table, you leaned in to your daddy and said “Dad, what is your favorite thing? I know! Sitting in the basement and drinking beer and watching football.” You know your dad, girl. He knows how to charm his girls, though, so he quickly chimed in with “No! My favorite thing is playing with you and your brothers.”

At night, when I snuggle with you in your princess bed after reading a princess book or two, or maybe I’ve talked you into If You Give a Cat a Cupcake instead, you will occasionally say “Nuzzle noses, Mommy!” and we do Eskimo kisses while you squeal “Never stop! Never stop!” and you keep rubbing your nose on mine until long after it is sweet and snuggly anymore, and I finally have to tell you to stop, because both of our bellies are hurting from laughing, and now we have to start the quieting down process all over. But that? That is my favorite thing, my sweet girl.



*The hotel we stayed at on the way home from vacation: New in that it was different than the one we stayed in on the way to our vacation. The sign was a "clever" little advertisement for the free continental breakfast provided in the lobby and the kids thought it was a scream.

** By the way, dear: Nice. Though just in case you think this post is not as flattering to you as it could be, remember, you're the one who inspires your girl's bedtime musings: "I love Daddy so much. He is my best Daddy. I just love him."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dear L.,

Dear L., at the end of your first year,

Oh, my baby boy. Where has the year gone?

I put you to bed tonight and when I laid you down in your crib, you snuggled yourself down on your tummy, turned your head towards me and smiled that “I’m so comfy and happy to be here” smile. It’s a good one. I’m glad to have it back, because for a couple of weeks recently, you wouldn’t let me comfort you at all at bedtime. You arched your back away from me when I tried to rock you, screamed instead of cuddling, and kicked both legs into my ribs, until I finally just had to lay you into your bed and let you cry by yourself.

I’m glad that particular phase is over. I was afraid it wasn’t a phase at all, but instead your entrance into independent toddlerhood, leaving your need for comfort and rocking to sleep behind. I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to all of your babyhood, so I’m glad to know you might not be either.

I’m not sure how much longer you and I will continue our nursing relationship, but for all the times I wish you wouldn’t wake at 1:30AM wanting only to use me as a pacifier, I know that for now, there are still times during the day when I’m glad that I can still stop and sit and do nothing else but connect with each other and I can provide you comfort in a way no one else can.

Today was a Monday, the day of the week your baby girl cousins are here for the day, the day I marvel at how much babies change in the short gap of time that separates you age wise. You’re left to be the big boy who can roam around and find a toy to amuse yourself with for a good ten minutes while your grandma and I are feeding bottles and exchanging gummy grins with your four month old cousins.

Today, it was a cup with a baseball inside it. You shook it with your whole body, laughing and yelping with pleasure when you were able to knock the ball out across the room and chase after it.

Some other things I love about the boy you are right now:

The way you flail both arms and legs in your high chair when you are waiting for food to arrive on your tray.

The way you attack pieces of string cheese with your pincer grasp and delight in shoving them into your mouth.

You stick dominoes in your mouth and come over to your brother or sister, stick your behind out, and hope for a laugh from your audience.

You grab a sock from your sister as she’s trying to put it on, then run into the next room, glancing over your shoulder making sure someone is going to follow you.

If someone is sitting on the floor, you immediately dash to claim that lap as your own, backing in and plopping down. Last week, when your big brother dared to take a rare moment to cuddle with me, you came over and pushed him out.

You hold both hands out in clear “What?” or “Where is it?” fashion. You may not have words yet, but you know how to make your points clear.

Milk in a sippy is your new favorite thing to drag around the house, a trail of drips from your mouth following you behind.

You still take two naps on days that are allowed to unfold in a natural way. More often than not, you have to catch at least part of one of those naps in the car on our way to some errand or adventure or school drop off or pickup. I’m tempted to think you don’t need one of those naps, until we stay home and you sleep for two and half hours before lunch.

When you’re awake, you’re a mini-tornado, carrying toys and whatever else you find on the floor or on tables within your reach from room to room. You spent one whole morning trying to get the diaper pail I’d carried downstairs to clean back where it belonged in your room.

Drawers and cupboards with broken safety latches become locations for you and I to skirmish. You listen for a moment when I tell you to leave the roll of foil alone and retreat, but then come right back to attack and unfurl it across the kitchen.

Some nights, when you are not quite as ready to go to bed as I am to get you there, you let me know you would rather play by blowing loud raspberries on my upper arm, then looking up at me to laugh, laugh laugh.

On those nights when you do allow me to rock you to sleep, you still go through a period of yowling with your eyes clamped tight shut I have to shush you loudly, until you finally surrender to sleep, with your head lolling back into the crook of my elbow.

I wasn’t quite ready for you to become a one year old. Now that we’re here, as with all of the other stages we’ve met together, I’m glad to be getting to know the boy that you are.