Sunday, December 18, 2011

8 lbs. 6 oz. Baby Jesus

We took out the girls’ Nativity play set a few weeks ago when we unpacked the rest of the Christmas decorations. The girls have had more fun with the set than we could have imagined. The biggest challenge for me has been keeping track of all of the people who belong in the manger.  Knowing the location of all pieces of every toy is essential, because you never know when you’ll need a bargaining chip.

I was trying to convince Audrey to get in her car-seat the other day and in desperation I said “Audrey, I’ll give you whatever you want”. She hopped in her seat and said “Can the fairy come?” I had no idea what she was talking about, so we went back inside and she plucked an angel (fairy?) from the Nativity for a travelling partner. Our set is currently short one angel, one donkey and Joseph. My husband used to loudly exclaim “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” whenever he walked past the Nativity set (which is funny every time, really, it is), but losing Joseph has taken the emphasis out of the whole statement.

Yesterday, we were heading to the playground and Audrey grabbed baby Jesus “Baby Jesus wants to come slide”. I wanted to tell her no, because we could not lose the star of the Nativity, but she was very insistent. She had a great time at the playground, tossing baby Jesus down the slide and pushing him on the swing. There was one point when Abby was attempting to dive headfirst off of a playground apparatus and I had to run to catch her. In the process, I had to take my eyes off of Audrey and in those short few seconds, baby Jesus was lost in the playground mulch.

I know that many people spend years searching for Jesus, but I never thought it would be so literal for me, as I crouched on the ground, digging through mulch while muttering “Baby Jesus, where are you?”  After an exhaustive search, I found him, just laying there peacefully, as if he had been right in front of me all along.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rules of engagement

Audrey and I were walking up the stairs when she spotted the framed print of me and my husband on our wedding day.

“Look Mommy, that’s you and Daddy on the beach.”

“Yes, that picture was taken on the day that we got married.”

Her face dropped and her eyes filled with tears “I want to get married.”

“Audrey, you will, don’t worry. One day, you will meet someone that you really love and you will get married.”

She brightened and immediately responded “Opa”.

“You want to marry Opa?”

“Yes, I do.”

They say the girls marry men that are like their fathers, but in Audrey’s case, I think she might marry someone that is like her grandfather.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

History repeats itself


I was cutting up a head of cauliflower before dinner and both girls were at my feet. I gave them both a piece and shooed them away so that I could finish making dinner. A few minutes later, Audrey was tattling “Mommy, Abby made a mess.” I walked out of the kitchen and easily found my way to the living room by following the path of chewed cauliflower littering the floor. I sighed and painstakingly picked up the tiny pieces.

I returned to my task of breaking up the cauliflower when both girls reappeared. I handed Audrey a piece and she frolicked away happily. I narrowed my eyes at Abby as she quietly asked “More?” I told her that this was the same thing she had just spit out on the floor. She looked at me pleadingly and tapped her little fingers together while she said “More?” She can verbally ask for most of the things she needs now, but she knows that baby signs are a weakness of mine. “Fine” I grumbled and handed her another piece of cauliflower.

She ran into the living room, and as anticipated, chewed up the cauliflower and spit it all over the floor. I cleaned it up again and went back to finishing dinner preparations. I added a few cauliflower florets to Abby’s plate because parenting guides all state that you may have to offer foods as many as ten times before a child will eat them. I also reflected on the fact that insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Yes, parenting is insanity.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stop and smell the roses

Tonight, I was changing Abby’s dirty diaper when she suddenly decided that she no longer wanted to be changed. I was completely unprepared for this mood swing and was therefore not even holding her legs. She began kicking and flailing in a way that literally caused the sh** to hit the fan. Each move that she made caused the disaster to spread. First it was on her heel, then she kicked me and it was on my hand (gross). She continued kicking and it spread from my hand to her leg. Then she rolled and it spread to the carpet.

Finally, I picked her up and tried to clean her while she bucked against me in the air. I set her down once she was clean and didn’t even bother putting a diaper on her. Things really couldn’t get worse, could they? The whole house reeked, or was it me? I went to the kitchen to wash my hands and decided to wash my arms and completely discard my shirt, as well. I was searching for the dishtowel, which had been used as a blanket for a sleepy stuffed animal earlier, when I spotted Abby crouching in the corner. Of course, she was peeing on the floor. Why not?!? When she finished peeing, she proceeded to do a little jig in the puddle while giggling maniacally.

There was so much disaster around me that I wasn’t even sure what to do first. I picked Abby up and brought her into the kitchen. I sprayed her off in the sink and put a diaper on her, because she wasn’t going to fool me twice. I grabbed some stain remover and went to attack the carpet. I smelled something terrible and no amount of scrubbing was improving the situation.

I was finally satisfied that all remnants of the previous thirty minutes had been eradicated, but something still smelled awful. I checked Abby’s diaper again and asked Audrey if she had farted while I walked around sniffing the air. I went into the bathroom to scrub my hands again and saw my reflection in the mirror. There, on the side of my nose and a small portion of my cheek, was a brown smear. The mystery was solved with the realization that I am a brown-noser.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Doctor's Orders

The only way that Audrey travels is by running, so it is no surprise that she is pretty easy to lose in public places. The last time that she ran from me, I disciplined her and said “If you run away in public, someone might steal you.”

She responded with “And then they would take me to the doctor.” It is amazing to me that the worst consequence in Audrey’s little world is a doctor visit. I love her innocence and hope to protect her from harm for as long as possible, or at least until her next well-check.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Naked Truth

My children are nudists. Dressing them is another one of the many battles that occurs at our house on a daily basis. I used to see children running around in their diapers and I assumed their parents were lazy. Now, I know that their parents were simply exhausted.

My children have luckily learned that clothes are mandatory outside the house, but behind closed doors, they are transformed into tiny strippers. Unfortunately, Audrey learned how to open doors before she learned this lesson, which led to me chasing a naked child down the sidewalk on more than one occasion. I knew that there would be clothing battles with two girls in the house, but I had no idea that the clothing battles would begin at such young ages and that the battle would be “Me” against “Them”.

Yesterday, I wanted to leave the house and I was prepared for battle. I tackled Abby first because she is smaller and easier to force into submission. I managed to put all of her clothes on her writhing body and the only casualty was one of my fingernails. Her eyes immediately filled with tears once she was dressed and she repeatedly cried “Stuck” as she tugged at the offensive clothing.

I then chased Audrey (naked) around the house for thirty minutes while she cackled and literally bounced off of the walls. I ran after her waving her pants over my head like a white flag, while simultaneously screaming “This is NOT funny. It is time to put on your clothes.”

I tried other tactics as well:

Superficial:  “Look at how cute these skinny jeans are!”

Peer-pressure: “All the other big girls wear clothes. You want to be a big girl, don’t you?”

Bribery: “You can have 2 lollipops. One, if you put on this pair of pants and another if you put on the pair of pants to replace these after you get lollipop all over them.”

Desperation: Finally, I just sat down and cried. Amazingly enough, without plotting at all, I had found the one thing that would cause Audrey to dress herself.

As Audrey finished pulling on her pants, I glanced over at Abby who was now miraculously wearing nothing but a diaper. I pulled a shirt over her head, put on both of their shoes and went into the backyard. I reflected on the fact that in a strange way, I had won the battle. Other parents may have seen a kid in diapers and thought I was lazy, but I saw 2 kids that were wearing enough clothes to form one complete outfit AND an extra pair of shoes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Age is just a number

Audrey is already getting excited about her birthday, which is two months away, and she talks about it relentlessly: “I will be three and Abby will be two and Mommy will be five and Daddy will be six”.  It’s bad enough that I have to age on my own birthday, but apparently, we all age on Audrey’s birthday, as well. People always say that children keep you young, but those people are wrong.

The rate at which I age has increased exponentially since I had children. Parent years are like dog years, because we age seven times faster than the general population. Sadly, with this conversion and Audrey’s generous estimation, I am 35 years old (which is older than I actually am, thus proving my hypothesis about rapid aging).  The whole scenario is made slightly more acceptable only by the fact that by following the same mathematical rules, my husband’s age is 42.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It’s all in the timing

Today, Audrey had her first accident since being 100% potty trained. I’m not sure what this means as far as percentages go, but I guess now she’s 98% potty trained. She was playing outside and realized too late that she had to go to the bathroom. She tried to make it inside, but she just wasn’t fast enough.

She was extremely upset and Adam tried his best to console her “It is okay. Everyone has accidents once in awhile. Mommy pees her pants all the time”. I was busy formulating a witty retort like “Well, Daddy poops his pants all the time” when I suddenly sneezed uncontrollably…and peed my pants, just a little. One of the latent effects of childbirth strikes again, as always, at the perfect moment.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Love is fickle

Audrey’s favorite stuffed animal has changed several times. As a parent, it is always a shock when the adorable stuffed animal that I grew to love is suddenly tossed aside in favor of a new friend. Audrey first loved a baby monkey named “Momo” (by Audrey, obviously, because I would never come up with such an idiotic name) complete with a bib, diaper and pacifier. She eventually outgrew her bib, diaper, pacifier and stuffed monkey.

Her second love was an ugly brown bear that she picked from one of the central kiosks in the mall. I tried my very best to dissuade her love because she has so many other special stuffed animals that were gifts from family, but she was smitten with the ugly bear. The bear wore a bright pink bow around its neck, which was as helpful as putting lipstick on a pig…it was still an ugly brown bear.

Thankfully, Audrey’s love for “Brown Bear” faded when a new star emerged as her sidekick. Barnaby, the tiny horse, galloped into her heart and mine without hesitation. He ate, slept, played and vacationed with our family until the day that he fell out of Audrey’s favor.  One night, I walked into Audrey’s room and saw her arms wrapped around an enormous tan bear, while Barnaby had been shoved under the bed. I picked him up and gently placed him beside Audrey and the huge bear in the bed, but I could see the writing on the wall.

The next day, Audrey was referring to her tan bear as “Barnaby” and the tiny horse was nowhere to be found. Audrey’s blatant lack of loyalty is made much worse by her practice of casually replacing the supporting cast in her life, while keeping the same names, like a soap opera writer.  I know that finding the perfect relationship often takes evaluation of many options. I just hope that Audrey doesn’t always bring all of the “options” into her bed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Showered with love

Bathing the girls is typically my duty, but Adam took the reins to give me a break tonight. Since I usually bathe them, they are used to my routine. I wasn’t surprised when I heard Audrey screaming for me “Mommy! You do it! You do it!” I ignored her pleas initially, simply assuming that Adam was doing something differently and that she would eventually adjust. Her continued screaming finally convinced me to ascend the stairs and peek in the bathroom.

I saw Adam standing a few feet away from them, hosing the shampoo out of their hair and directly into their eyes. The scene actually reminded me of the carnival game where players race to pop a balloon by spraying a stream of water into a clown’s mouth. I stepped into view and gave Adam the look that all husbands are privy to on a daily basis. The simplest interpretation of the look is “Seriously?” He smiled sheepishly and said “What? I was watering them like flowers.” I have no doubt that my girls will grow and flourish with their father’s love, but they might not need so much watering.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Drastic times call for drastic measures

Even the most mundane activities are designed to be exciting for children. I took Audrey to get her hair cut earlier this week at the adorable kids' salon that we frequent. She had her choice of a chair that resembled a fire truck or a chair that resembled an airplane. She chose the chair that resembled an airplane, which she has also chosen on all of her previous visits. She boarded her plane and loved every minute of her haircut.

I chatted with her about the propeller and asked her where she was going as she turned the steering wheel and honked the horn. I’m not sure if planes typically have horns, but this plane was expertly designed to keep a child still while scissors are placed near their head. I absolutely despise flying and felt a bit like a fraud as I discussed how much fun flying is with Audrey.

Since riding in a plane made a haircut more enjoyable for Audrey, I wonder if the reverse might be true for me. The minute a plane starts to taxi on the runway, I fret about the fact that the majority of plane crashes occur during takeoff and landing. I focus on breathing normally so that neighboring passengers don’t offer the barf bag to control my hyperventilation. Once, I was on an extremely turbulent flight and I actually clawed the man’s head in the seat in front of me. I reached out to grab the seat-back and his scalp just happened to be within my panicky grasp.

The best part of any haircut is getting shampooed. As long as my shampoo fits in a 3.4 ounce bottle, security will not be a problem. It might be difficult to convince the airline staff to allow a shampooing to occur during takeoff, but the fact that stylists wield scissors might persuade them. At the very least, when our flight tumbles out of the sky in a ball of flames, I will have the Grandma-approved “clean underwear in case you get in an accident” AND clean hair.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Things are seldom what they seem

Recently, we were at a gathering with old friends who were able to see us as parents for the first time. It is always amusing to see friends that we haven’t seen since we had children. These friends knew us in our younger years when we behaved like children ourselves. We rarely talked about our futures because we were too busy living for the moment, but we always knew that time would catch up with us regardless of how fast we ran.

Our children are the ages that allow little time for adult socialization because we spend the majority of the time chasing them and ensuring their happiness, so that they don’t have an embarrassing public meltdown. They are at the ages where I wish I could bring myself to place a leash on them and call it a backpack.

When the gathering was over, my husband and I compared notes about which old acquaintances we were actually able to talk to between trips to the sandbox and trips to the potty. We shared a really good laugh about the fact that someone had commented that we made parenting look easy. Watching someone with their children is like watching a duck in a pond. Everything is calm on the surface, but beneath the water the duck is paddling desperately just to stay afloat.

Monday, September 26, 2011

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Tonight, Audrey was sitting on the toilet taking care of business while I sat beside her and told her a story. This is yet another demand of my high-maintenance child. She likes to hear stories rather than perusing a magazine like the rest of the general populace. After I had told three lengthy stories, Audrey was finally finished.

She jumped off the toilet and leaned over the bowl to inspect her handiwork. She exclaimed “Mommy, it looks like a tyrannosaurus!” The scenario reminded me a little of laying in a field on a warm spring day and looking for pictures in the clouds. You might not see a tyrannosaurus initially but once your companion points it out, you can no longer see the cloud any other way. I hope that Audrey is always able to see things that others cannot, especially when the circumstances are crappy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Egg on my face

I had an especially trying time with my children yesterday and I told Audrey that I needed a few minutes of alone time.  She screamed (toddler equivalent of talking) “Mommy, I want to have alone time with you” and wrapped both her arms and legs around me so that escape (or any movement) was physically impossible. I peeled her off of me, tossed her aside and began running. If I could make it into the bedroom while she was still airborne, I could lock the door and peace would be mine.

I made it into the bedroom, but it was too late. She shoved the door open with the efficiency of a battering ram, while I was fumbling stupidly with the lock. I have always been known for my MacGyver-ish resourcefulness, so I shouted “Look, there is an egg” and pointed in the direction of the living room.  An elephant or a moose probably would have been a much cooler distraction than an egg, but as mentioned before, I needed a break and cleaning up pretend elephant dung or baking muffins for a pretend moose in the pretend forest was not on my agenda. Commitment to a pretend egg is much easier because you can just sit on the couch and pretend to eat it.

Anyhow, Audrey fell for the guise and glanced in the other direction. I took the opportunity and ran into the bathroom. I quietly shut the door behind me, cursing the tiny squeaks of the hinges, and huddled on the bath mat in the dark. I was truly enjoying my “alone time”, which could have elevated to “spa time” if I’d hidden in the bathtub instead of crouching on the bath mat, when I heard soft footsteps outside the door.

Audrey knocked and said the only phrase that could cause me to abandon my sanctuary “Mommy, I have to pee-pee”.  How did she know that would work? I unlocked the door and she joined me in the bathroom. “Mommy, I love alone time with you”. My heart melted a little and I said “Audrey, I love alone time with you, too. Let’s go see if we can make an omelet and find a hungry moose”.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's a bird...It's a plane...It's just my kids

My children have superpowers.

Sonic scream: The only way that my toddler communicates lately is by screaming like a banshee. I now know that elderly individuals suffer from hearing loss because they were subjected to the sonic scream at some point in time.

Wall-crawling: This is the only explanation for how Abby can be suddenly standing on the dining room table when we have removed all other furniture from the entire house. This is also the explanation for our “They must be giants” decoration scheme, where all lower drawers and shelves are left completely empty.

Liquification: This superpower is exhibited mid-tantrum when my kids appear to somehow lose all of their bones and turn into a liquid. It is very effective against adults who are trying to capture them.

Size-shifting: Both of my children exhibit this ability to increase their size whenever they lay in our bed. They somehow manage to make what used to be a large bed feel like a clown car, but without all of the humor.

Memory manipulation: An especially sweet moment with my girls will completely erase all memories of the sonic screaming and liquification earlier in the day.

Luckily, all people with superpowers have some sort of Achilles’ heel to level the playing field between them and less fortunate mortals. I have located the kryptonite for my children without even trying. Simply uttering the phrase “Let me help you” causes my children to run away screaming, as if they have been physically injured.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Name that tune

Tonight, I turned on the iPod to have an impromptu dance party. Audrey said “I want to hear my shi*, Mommy.” I used the opportunity to discuss what words are inappropriate for toddlers, but I was very curious about her song request. I started scanning through the songs, asking her “Is this it?” as I went. She kept saying “No” and I was dumbfounded.

I began playing “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani thinking that the lyrics (non-child approved) matched her request exactly. Audrey yelled “NO, MOMMY!” I continued scanning and tried another one of our favorites: “Stronger” by Kanye West. A huge grin broke across her face and she immediately began dancing. “Dance with me, Mommy!” Apparently, “Stronger” is her jam (radio edit of what she actually said).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A season of change

We no longer have a need for a crib in our home. We no longer have a need for bottles. Our rocking chair has started to collect dust. Our high chair is at someone else’s house catching droplets of mashed squash and peaches. The nursery has been converted to a playroom. I pulled out the baby books that I made for my girls and wistfully flipped through them, already missing all of those little “firsts”. I didn’t realize that I should have been paying more attention to the “lasts”.  Saturday was the last time that Abby slept in her crib. I still remember the last time that Audrey played with my hair while she drowsily finished her bottle.

The dog days of summer are over and the temperature is starting to drop. The leaves will soon change and fall off the trees. Nothing is constant and it is amazing how quickly things transform before our eyes. There were so many times when my girls were babies that I thought “Please just let this pass” and now it has. My grandmother once told me that time passes more quickly the older you are, and finally, I understand. I promise to soak it all in and blink as little as possible. I know that just as the leaves drop, new ones will grow in the spring. I cannot wait to see what the next season brings.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fool’s Gold

This morning, an air conditioning technician came to our house for the third time this summer. When he came in and went upstairs to the attic, Audrey really wanted to join him. Adam explained to her that he was working and that it would be much better if he could work alone. Audrey demonstrated her understanding of the situation by saying “I do not need to bother the fireman”. Apparently for Audrey, all men in uniform are firemen, which is strangely accurate because he was definitely “putting out a fire” for us.

This afternoon, I was trying to talk to Adam on the phone. He was at home with the girls and I was calling to discuss important business (“Please tell me that the air conditioner is fixed”). The background noise was deafening, so I can only imagine how loud the girls were on Adam’s end.

The level of noise coming from my children is directly proportionate to the importance of the phone call in progress. I know that if we were ever in a situation where we required rescuing, I could convince my kids to scream for help at the top of their lungs simply by pretending to talk on the phone. Of course, Audrey would likely be disappointed when our hero showed up and he was not the air conditioning technician.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It’s the thought that counts

Earlier, I took the girls on an outing to Best Buy. They have managed to destroy yet another cord to an expensive electronic item. There is a reason that they sell the cords for all products individually and the reason is that there is no way to childproof a cord. My kids seek them out, like drug-sniffing dogs on Pablo Escobar’s plane, and destroy them.  This time, the sacred HDMI cord to the beloved PlayStation has been destroyed. I need to find a replacement quickly before my husband says something like “I can’t believe you let them play with that!”

I did not pull the cord out and offer it to them as a gift, and I actually said a cringe-worthy mom-phrase when I did see them playing tug o' war with it; “That is not a toy!” That ranks almost as high as “Because I said so” and right above “Don’t play with your food.”

When we arrived at Best Buy, Audrey began reading the letters on the sign “B-E-S-T”. I voiced my approval “Good Job, Audrey! What does B-E-S-T spell?”  She enthusiastically answered “Foot!”  I congratulated her on her amazing phonics “That is exactly right, Audrey” because I just didn’t have the heart to tell her she was wrong and she definitely deserved an “A” for effort.

I hope my husband will understand the fact that we wandered aimlessly around Best Buy for awhile before giving up and going next door to Target. I returned home with many things that we needed, minus an HDMI cord. As a reminder to my husband, at our house, we award “A’s” for effort.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Time is of the essence

I am always late…for everything…always. I feel that I give myself plenty of time to prepare, yet I am consistently the last one to arrive. I needed to leave for work at 8:00 AM this morning, so I set my alarm for 6:00 AM. Two hours should have been plenty of time, right?

6:00 AM:

I attack the snooze button on the alarm and groggily roll over to see my sweet daughter, Audrey, staring into my eyes. I have no idea what she is doing in my bed or how she got there. “Good morning, Mommy. I want to put on my bunny costume.” That old Halloween costume is the bane of my existence. Audrey has grown a lot since last October, causing the bunny costume to fit like a bunny swimsuit, bunny flippers, and a bunny ear yarmulke. It’s highly constrictive nature doesn’t dissuade Audrey from wearing it, even though it is impossible to put on and remove.

I didn’t think that I would be able to get out of this one because she had made the exact same request as she was going to bed last night. I had told her that if she went to sleep, she could put it on in the morning, and then I had made my great escape. Suddenly, I had a great idea “Daddy will help you put it on. Mommy has to go get in the shower and get ready for work.” This was apparently not part of Audrey’s plan “NOOOOO MOMMY!!!! YOU DO IT!!!”

6:25 AM:

The bunny child and I come back downstairs and I attempt to sneak into the bathroom to shower.  Audrey follows me.  Abby has woken up and is very excited to see a real, live bunny swimsuit so she follows Audrey. Once in the bathroom, Audrey decides that she wants to see the soap. I explain to her that you can only have the soap when you are in the shower because I don’t want her just roaming around the house with soap.

She’d probably eat it or feed it to her sister. Then they’d be the weird kids that eat soap instead of the weird kids that eat glue. Audrey outwits me by telling me that she needs to take her bunny costume off so that she can get in the shower and hold the soap.

6:45 AM:

I am trying to shave my legs while balancing myself over Audrey who is kneeling in the bottom of the bathtub happily holding the soap. I have given Abby my makeup bag for entertainment to keep her from joining us in the tub. Suddenly, Audrey stands up and shouts “Mommy! I have to pee-pee!”  I have an inner debate about whether or not to just tell her to pee in the tub. All the cool kids do it. I remind myself that when teaching any new skill, consistency is of the utmost importance. If I allowed her to pee in the tub, she’d likely get confused and start peeing in other places with water, like pools (What? That’s not allowed?). I lift Audrey out of the tub and quickly towel us both off.

I glance at Abby who is happily zipping, unzipping and rearranging the contents of my makeup bag.  Audrey climbs up on the toilet, does her business, and we both get back in the shower. I finally finish my shower and try to convince Audrey to give me the soap. It is more difficult than getting a prisoner to drop the soap in the shower. I wrestle it away from her and pull the shower curtain back so that we can exit the shower.

7:15 AM:

The first thing that I see when I pull the shower curtain back is Abby looking like a criminal who has been tarred and feathered. There is an unidentified substance all over her body which I assume is sticky because there are tiny pieces of toilet paper stuck all over her. This unidentified substance is also on the walls and floor. I scream for Adam and he comes and retrieves Audrey.

This is definitely a situation requiring man-on-man coverage. After further inspection and the discovery of an empty tube of lip-gloss, the unidentified substance has been identified. I get back in the shower with Abby and manage to get her cleaned off. She’s still a little sticky, but that’s pretty normal. I yell for Adam again and he whisks her away.

7:30 AM:

I try to clean the bathroom walls, which look like they have been attacked by an army of snails, to no avail. I give up and decide that the only solution is repainting. I sigh and look in the mirror and realize that I am still dripping from my second shower of the morning. I begin blow-drying my hair and I swear that I hear someone yelling from the other room.

7:40 AM:

I switch my blow-dryer off and distinctly hear Adam yelling “Help!” I run out to the living room and see him in the process of changing Abby’s dirty diaper on the floor. She has put her hands in it and is trying to smear it on whatever she can reach. Audrey has taken advantage of the chaotic situation, stolen the dirty diaper and is running around the living room with it. I tackle her and take the diaper away while Adam focuses on cleaning the disaster that is Abby. If I had more time, I probably would have tossed her back in the shower.

7:50 AM:

“Okay, no more kid interruptions. I’m really serious now.” I finish blow-drying, put on my make-up, get dressed and grab breakfast for the road. I give everyone hugs and kisses and jog to the car.

8:20 AM:

I drive away with a little honk for the girls…right on time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Every day is Judgment Day

It is truly amazing to me that mothers, knowing the difficulties of raising children, continue to judge other mothers. Judgments disguise themselves in many forms; passive-aggressive suggestions, snide remarks, eye-rolling and back-stabbing. Mothers are endlessly judged by other mothers on all kinds of topics ranging from breastfeeding to potty training.

Breastfeeding:

Experts tell us that we should breastfeed from now until infinity. That’s not actually what experts say, but that is how it feels when every breastfeeding session ends with your baby screaming and you in tears. Some babies are vampires, which is great considering their recent elevation in popular culture. Some babies are possums who play dead and sleep all day even when you undress them and peel their eyelids back.

Some babies love the limelight and absolutely refuse to be placed under any type of nursing cover. Some babies are so tiny that finding the right angle is impossible, regardless if you balance them on a temple of pillows or if you hold them like a football. Some babies act as though you have extended an invitation to a 24-hour buffet and you are forced to buy a contraption to physically attach them to your body at all times.

My children were all of these babies at one time or another, which made breastfeeding the equivalent of ripping my fingernails out. Something that comes naturally to the rest of the animal kingdom requires an entire occupation (Lactation Consultant) devoted to its instruction in our species. So, I quit breastfeeding “too early”. Thus, the judgments began.

Potty Training:

Yes, I have traveled with a potty in my car and yes, my child has used it in public. There are a couple of reasons for this scenario, neither of which includes my dreams of exhibitionism for my daughter. When you begin potty training a toddler, everything is scary for them initially. Imagine if someone told you that you had to suddenly start using diapers instead of the toilet. It would probably be pretty difficult even if you were offered M&M’s as a reward.

Anyhow, when I first started training Audrey she refused to go anywhere near public toilets. She would actually scream and try to hide herself behind my legs as if a monster was going to crawl out of the toilet and devour her whole. This may have something to do with the fact that whenever she is taking too long to do something I tell her “Hurry up, the monsters are coming”.

The other reason that I need a little yellow sign in my car that says “Potty on Board” is that when toddlers have to “go”, they have to “go” RIGHT NOW. There is no time for indecisiveness about where to stop or whether to cut off the car in the lane beside you. If you choose to signal and cautiously wait for other vehicles to roll out the red carpet, you have condemned yourself to an afternoon of cleaning urine out of the crevices in a car-seat.

If you are lucky enough to coast safely to the side of the highway and get your kid out of the car before an accident happens, you will be privy to the infamous pee-pee-dance. Controlling multiple muscle groups in such a coordinated effort is a talent reserved for children. Dancing to prevent myself from peeing would have completely the opposite effect. So, my child dropped trou to use the potty on the side of the road. Thus, the judgments began.

Our toughest critic is supposedly ourselves, but other mothers make formidable opponents. Breastfeeding and potty training are mere shavings of the iceberg when it comes to child-rearing topics, but I wanted to discuss them because they are so heavily laden with judgments. Whenever I feel like judging another mother, I think of my own children. My heart swells just thinking about their sweet smiles and I know that I can give them what no one else in the world can. The same can be said for other mothers and their children. This makes us all perfect tens.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Six degrees of separation

My husband and I just went on a romantic weekend getaway without our children. One would expect that during our time away, we would relish every free minute and think about our children rarely. We definitely relished every free minute, but we found that no matter how hard we tried, the conversation kept returning to our children. It was almost comical the way that we could link any topic to our children. My husband was discussing Michael Vick’s $100 million contract and I redirected our dialogue to debate the possibility of a dog as a Christmas present for the girls this year. We were thrilled to be able to relax in the “adults only” pool, but eventually we missed the raucous entertainment that only comes from acting like a kid.

We actually brought Audrey’s favorite stuffed animal so that we could chronicle his adventures and show Audrey what a good time he had “horsing around”. We told ourselves that we were bringing Barnaby for her, but he was actually a security blanket for us. I know that there will be a time when the separation between me and my children will span states and months, but for now, I am content to hold the pieces of my heart as close as possible.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A place for everything and everything in its place


Organized chaos is the enduring theme at our house, despite my continual efforts to put everything where it belongs. I’m not sure if we’ve slipped into this new framework because we have two sets of extra hands that are into everything, or because I never recovered the brain cells that were lost while I was pregnant.

Diapering babies has brought a whole new level of confusion into my life. Typically, you would expect to find a diaper on a baby, but this is rarely the case at our house. When we remove Abby’s diaper she squeals and begins running naked hot laps. The dirty diaper should then be thrown into the Diaper Genie, but I have found them in the strangest places. Washing disposable diapers in the washing machine does not make them clean and simply placing them in the dish drying rack does not make the scent dissipate. Desitin is another diapering item that should always be kept with the diapering supplies. It should not be kept in the bathroom near the toothpaste.

Food storage has become a little difficult now that the girls are capable of opening the cabinets, the fridge, the oven and the dishwasher. I have opened the pantry looking for peanut butter and found frozen corn dogs. The corn dogs were no longer frozen and the peanut butter was mysteriously unaccounted for. The jar of peanut butter is still missing, but I did find a sippy cup in the fridge of the play kitchen and some silverware in the toy box.

My house is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Don’t be surprised if the chocolate you pick out is filled with Desitin, or possibly the missing peanut butter.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

My definition of what constitutes a meal has changed drastically in the past few years.  My husband and I share dinners while standing at the kitchen counter. Sometimes, we are in such a rush that we have to lean over the kitchen sink just to keep food from falling on the floor as we hurriedly shovel it into our mouths. Sometimes, we have romantic dinners where we actually sit down (on the kitchen counter to keep the ankle-biters from biting our ankles) and savor our food. I have literally tried to hide myself in the pantry while I snacked on chips to prevent the girls from sensing them. If they hear the slightest crunch, they immediately begin circling, like sharks around a bleeding prey.

This morning, as I was working, I looked down and saw a Cheerio stuck to my dress. I plucked it off and popped it in my mouth without the slightest hesitation. I can’t even offer an explanation as to why I ate it without hesitation other than the fact that it was sullying my otherwise professional attire. It was of the Cinnamon Burst variety, so it was actually pretty tasty. As I continued working, I began to wonder about the rogue Cheerio. My kids had not eaten Cheerios for breakfast today and I couldn’t remember the last time that they had snacked on them in the car.

Unfortunately, much of my workday is spent in doctor’s office waiting rooms full of sick adults with sick children who are likely drooling on Cheerios. Had I just eaten a disease-ridden piece of cereal? Does that even qualify for the 30-second rule? I ate it as soon as I saw it, but who knows how many seconds it had been attached to my dress.  The longer I pondered the situation, the more heightened my anxiety level became. After a few cleansing breaths and a squirt of hand sanitizer directly into my mouth, I decided that the benefits of the Cheerio outweighed the risks. I had just enjoyed a “well-rounded” breakfast without interruptions.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The student becomes the teacher

Today, Adam was working with Audrey on counting. She’s great at counting in general; yelling out numbers with enthusiasm, but Adam was trying to teach her to count specific objects. For example, if there are three apples and we ask her how many there are, she replies “One, Two, Three…..Four, Five, Six, Seven....”

She gets excited about the fact that she can count and just keeps going, regardless of the amount of items she was asked to count. So, Adam laid ten toys out on the floor and pointed to each one while he slowly counted them, one through ten. Audrey looked at him with a grin and said “Great job, Daddy! I’m proud of you.”

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pick your poison

I have a love-hate relationship with nap-time. I used to love napping on lazy Sunday afternoons, on rainy days and while I was supposed to be attending my classes in college. Since I have had children, nap-time has become an integral part of my hectic schedule instead of well-deserved break from my hectic schedule. The amount of sleep that my children get during nap-time has a very direct correlation with their behavior. On more than one occasion, I have finished entire books and reread them while waiting for a child to wake from their nap in the car.

Audrey has recently decided that she no longer wants to take naps, which is good because it reduces her ability to fight at bedtime by an hour. The only problem with this scenario is that she still technically needs a nap, but she is the boss and we are just the people who feed and clothe her. At approximately 5:00 PM (otherwise known as The Witching Hour) the wheels completely fall off. She becomes insolent and sullen if we try to reason with her and she becomes hyperactive when we try to reprimand her.

She reminds me of a fly that is trapped inside, buzzing around (screaming) and bouncing off of the walls, but swatting at it only makes it fly around more fervently. Coincidentally, 5:00 PM is when I usually pour myself a glass of wine. It’s too bad that there is a black fly in my chardonnay. Isn’t it ironic…don’t you think?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Par for the course

I arrived at the grocery store today and was so excited to see a single vacant “Customer with child” parking space. As I was pulling towards it, a woman with Gilda Radner hair and rabid eyes cut me off with her minivan and careened into the space. I murmured a few expletives that my daughter later repeated, to my dismay. The woman flung herself out of the van and began jogging to the grocery store. I thought that she must be in such a hurry because she was leaving her kids in the car, or maybe she had forgotten them altogether.

Watching the wild woman was a little like looking in a mirror, so I figured I would cut her some slack. I sighed and resigned myself to another open spot, which was a few miles away. I removed the kids from the car and began hiking across the wide expanse of asphalt, carrying Abby while she kicked and screamed and holding Audrey’s hand like a vise grip while she tried to run into traffic.

As we walked past the minivan in question, I peered nonchalantly into the windows. The car seats in the back were EMPTY! I resisted the urge to rip the heads off of her little stick figure family decal, which wasn’t that difficult because I was totally preoccupied with herding my kids into the store. Once we made it inside, things went from bad to worse. The meltdowns and chaos became too much to handle about halfway through my shopping list. I think it was halfway, but I’m not really sure since Abby ate the list.

I sprinted to checkout, stopping only to pick up items that my kids were tossing onto the floor as we went. Amazingly, I saw Gilda in line right in front of us, idly flipping through a magazine while she waited with her overflowing cart. I glowered at the back of her head as I ripped into a bag of lollipops with my teeth. The lollipops worked like sedatives on my children and we were all able to make it safely out of the store.

I walked right past the woman as she was loading her 57 bags into her minivan. I’m very non-confrontational, so I simply gave her the stink eye until she looked in my direction. She immediately looked ashamed and said “Sorry, I was in a big hurry. I left my kids up the road with a friend.” Apparently, she felt that this explanation was sufficient and that the trauma I endured during the shopping trip should be forgotten.

The injustice would have been easier to swallow if a dopey teenager had taken the spot, but it was taken by another mother who knew the difficulties of shopping with children (so much so that she simply left hers with friends). She may have completed the course in record time, but I am taking a mulligan. I would have left the store with a cart full of groceries if she had not stolen my handicap. Her follow-through leaves a lot to be desired.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sleep like a baby

A full night’s sleep is something that has eluded me since the last trimester of my first pregnancy. It was probably some time in October of 2008 when I awoke in the morning feeling fully refreshed. As a new parent, I expected to endure many sleepless nights with a newborn, but I was entirely unprepared for the fact that the span of sleepless nights would begin long before my baby’s birth and reach far past her infancy.

During my last trimester, sleep was constantly interrupted by the tiny life inside me. She would push with all of her might against my internal organs making breathing difficult, heartburn constant, and causing many fruitless trips to the bathroom. When my baby finally entered this world, my days and nights merged into one continuous state of delirium. Finally, she began sleeping through the night and instead of following her lead, I would repeatedly wake with a start to make sure she was still breathing.

My comfort level with her ability to survive the night increased at the same time that she got her first cold. When she got over her first cold, she began teething, which caused inconsolable crying at all hours of the night. Eventually, the majority of her teeth broke through the gums and I breathed a sigh of relief. It was an abbreviated sigh though, because I was having difficulty breathing again due to the fact that I was in the last trimester of my second pregnancy.

Recently, I thought the unattainable goal of sleep was within my grasp, but it turned out to be a mirage. Abby has finally finished teething, but Audrey has now started waking up and screaming irrationally about “something scary” and needing to “sleep in the big bed”. She sleeps in our bed the same way that she slept in my womb. She pushes with all of her might against obstructions until I am balanced on the edge of the bed with her elbow in my eye.

Adam and I were watching a show the other night where the contestants hide $100,000 and then attempt to keep the location from the police that are interrogating them. The contestants are placed in a jail cell for 48 hours and if they keep the money hidden, they win it. Adam glanced at me and said “We should go on this show. It would be great. Can you imagine being locked in a cell for 48 hours? We could sleep.” So, the prospect of sleeping in a jail cell is actually more exciting than winning $100,000. When you see us on the news acting like Bonnie and Clyde, just remember, it was all for a good night’s sleep.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three’s a crowd

There have been many times that I have yearned for a third child, but today was not one of those times. Bath time is usually one of my favorite times of the day because watching my girls splashing and giggling brings me such joy. Tonight, I pulled Abby out of the tub, dried her and was getting ready to put on her diaper when Audrey hopped out of the tub and began running towards us. The combination of a wet child running in the bathroom ended in a disaster filled with wailing and tears. I left Abby and gathered Audrey in my arms. I tried to calm her and figure out exactly where she was hurting.

Abby ran over to us to investigate and slipped in the puddle that Audrey had just created. She went airborne and smacked the floor in the exact same way that her sister had seconds before. It was like a Laurel and Hardy short. I would have laughed, but that would have been a totally inappropriate reaction to my crying children. As I cradled one child in each arm, I realized that there is no way I can have a third. If there had been another child slipping around, tonight’s events would have been reminiscent of the Three Stooges instead of Laurel and Hardy and I could not have contained my laughter.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What’s yours is mine, what’s mine is mine

Abby’s newest word is “mine”. It is definitely a product of being a second child and having to share all of her possessions since birth. Most children Abby’s age are saying things like ball, dog and car. I believe that she definitely recognizes these things and possibly knows the words for all of them, but currently her response is the same for all “mine”. I’ve read articles on the subject of sharing and most mention the fact that toddlers learn best from example.

When Abby first sees me in the morning, a huge grin breaks across her face and she stands on her tiptoes with her little arms outstretched to me. I scoop her up out of the crib and she wraps her arms around my neck and lays her head on my shoulder. This sweet baby hug lasts until she brushes sleepiness aside and it is the only time during the day when she is still. When others get her up in the morning, she squirms in their arms until she is set free. This moment of cuddling is reserved only for me. It is a cherished moment that is mine, and mine alone. Some things simply aren’t meant to be shared.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Princess and the Pea

Bedtime has become an epic battle of wits at our house, which is unfortunate for me because I have learned that my daughter is much wittier than me. She knows that she holds all the power at bedtime, because I will do ANYTHING to convince her to go to bed. If she required 20 mattresses and 20 featherbeds to reduce her sensation of a pea, I would willingly rent a U-Haul and go straight to the furniture store.

Tonight, I read three books, told four stories (which would all likely be Pulitzer Prize winners if written and published) and took numerous trips up and down the stairs to retrieve the items required to meet her demands. She needed a magic wand, a magic light, a cage for her pony (“No, Mommy! Pony needs the big cage, not the little one!”) and shoes so that her feet wouldn’t get wet. I didn’t even question that last request because the answer wouldn’t make any sense to me anyhow.

I looked in on her a little while ago and breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of her sleeping. I wasn’t sure if she would even fit in the bed with a drumstick, a flashlight, two colanders, and galoshes, but none of it appeared to be any more bothersome than a pea to my princess.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reverse Psychology

My daughter is terrible at hide-and-seek. Normally, once you find the person who is hiding, it becomes your turn to hide, but my daughter never allows this. As soon as I “find” her hiding in plain sight, she demands that I “Count to three again, Mommy!” Three may seem like a small number where hiding is concerned, but it really only takes one second to hide in the same place over and over again.

So, I close my eyes, count to three and begin searching the house, after stepping over her and pretending that she is not there. She is covering her eyes and giggling, which would be a dead giveaway of her location if she didn’t happen to be hiding right in the middle of the floor.

Amazingly enough, there have been many occasions at the mall when I have completely lost her among clothing racks. In those situations, I didn’t have to count to three, all I did was blink and she was gone. Maybe Audrey would be better at hide-and-seek if I called it “Shopping".

Friday, August 19, 2011

Miss Manners

We are trying to teach Audrey some manners. Being polite is definitely not a requirement in today’s brusque world, but it is a simple act of kindness that is still appreciated. We would like Audrey to say “Yes, sir” or “Yes, ma’am” when an adult asks her to do something.

This concept is actually foreign to me because it is only seen in the South. I almost had a heart attack the first time someone said “Yes, ma’am” to me. I thought that I must be elderly and senile and had simply forgotten that I was elderly, because I am definitely not a “ma’am”. This expression of respect eventually grew on me, like many things in the South, such as mullets (which my kids have both rocked during various phases of hair growth).

Yesterday, Adam was reminding Audrey of the fact that when Daddy asks her to do something, she should say “Yes, sir” and her reply was “No thank you, Daddy”. Today, the notion of refinement is gaining momentum because when Adam requests something of Audrey, she replies “Yes, ma’am”. I’m pretty sure she’s ready for the debutante ball.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In it to win it

Competition is natural and we all want to have the “best” children because we feel that it reflects on our abilities as parents. New mothers track every milestone and measure success based on whether or not their baby is reaching these milestones at the same rate as other babies. There is a woman in every group of mom friends who doesn’t recognize the distinction between celebrating success of your children and living vicariously through them.

You can recognize these women when they say things like “The birth of my child was beautiful. I loved being in labor and each contraction was orgasmic.” A woman who says things like this is a liar, or if she truly believes these things, she is a heroin addict. So, back to the fact that competition is natural…I win! These women also compare strange things, like growth. “That’s too bad Abby is only in the 10th percentile. Little Johnny is in the 95th percentile, he’s probably going to be a star basketball player.”

These “one-uppers” will plague us for our entire existence as mothers, from the hospital delivery room, to P.T.A. meetings, to high school graduation. They will star in their own television shows documenting their coaching abilities as pageant moms and when their daughters get asked to their first prom, they will brag about the fact that they wear the same size and they found the perfect dress that fits them both!

If you are reading this and thinking that you have such a great group of mom friends and that none of them would ever do things like this, then you might want to look in the mirror before it is too late and you end up wearing your daughter’s prom dress.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In the nick of time.

My children have impeccable timing. They spill drinks on the floor right after I mop, they crush goldfish into the carpet right after I vacuum, they smear bananas in my hair right after I style it, and they poop in their diapers right after I change them. They also manage to do the sweetest thing right before I lose all control and patience. First they’re sour. Then they’re sweet. My little Sour Patch Kids.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Never say never

I cannot count the number of times I saw parents with unruly children and thought to myself “My kids will NEVER do that!” One of the great talents of all children is that they make liars out of their parents.

Tall tale: My kids will never run amuck in a public place of any kind.
Terrible truth: I am seriously contemplating leashes because the only way to prevent my kids from running amuck in public places is to not go to public places.

Tall tale: My lifestyle will never change because of my children.
Terrible truth: What lifestyle?

Tall tale: Why do people just let their babies scream on planes?!? I will NEVER do that.
Terrible truth:  I “let” my baby scream for an entire flight while I rocked her, walked the aisle, sang to her, and nursed her.

Tall tale: I will never buy my child a toy or snack to encourage good behavior.
Terrible truth: Technically speaking, this is true because allowing my kids to devour an entire box of animal crackers while shopping means that I am buying an empty box and not a snack or toy.

Tall tale: My kids will never eat food off of the floor! That is disgusting!
Terrible truth: “Abby, what are you eating? Where did you find that?” (spoken while in a public restroom).

Tall tale: I will never succumb to the demands of my kids.
Terrible truth: I am not the boss of me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dance like no one is watching


I have always loved to dance, but my children have given me a whole new perspective since their births. I know the joy of cradling a sleeping baby in my arms while gently swaying and humming. I know the embarrassment of absentmindedly swaying and humming in public when my children are not even around. I know that dancing does not require background music and that the spin cycle of the washing machine has a great rhythm.

I know the complete abandon of dancing until you are sweating like a maniac in Flashdance, complete with legwarmers. I know that when I am dancing with my children they are having as much fun as I am, regardless of how ridiculous my moves are. I know that one day my children will debut their renditions of the Running Man and the Cabbage Patch in public and I hope that everyone will know where they learned their crazy dance moves…from their father.   

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Drop the chocolate!

Children and chocolate are never a good combination. The tiniest morsel of chocolate somehow ends up covering their entire body every time. Once they are covered in chocolate it becomes a negotiation comparable to a hostage crisis where I am trying to incur the least amount of collateral damage.

I have to approach the gunman (child covered in chocolate) very slowly so they do not become spooked. “Please just keep your hands up in the air and don’t move!”

Once I get close enough to wipe them off, I have to use delaying tactics and make counter-offers. “If you run, things will just be more difficult. Let’s just stand here and think about our options. I can wipe your hands and then you will get a surprise.”

Reassuring the chocolate kid that things will work out peacefully with cooperation of all parties is essential. “If you let Mommy wipe your hands, then you will not get in trouble for the chocolate hand-prints that are already in the kitchen and bathroom.”

Sadly, as a negotiator, things do not always go as planned. The chocolate kid grows tired of all of the talking and bolts across the room, rubbing her hands across couch cushions and walls like a spray of bullets into innocent bystanders. This demonstrates the fact that negotiating with tiny terrorists is a risky policy that usually does not end well.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Recycling

Today, I discovered that breast pads make excellent coasters. This is great because I’ve needed a place to set all of the drinks I’ve had since I stopped nursing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A blessing in disguise

I am in the middle of a constant food battle with two toddlers. I cannot ever convince them to eat the meals that I prepare. I slave for hours over grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese to no avail. Shopping is always a fruitless endeavor because whatever worked last week will not work again for three months. If you are what you eat, Abby is a cup of yogurt and Audrey is a pancake. I took a step back today and realized that we are all so blessed. My girls are so lucky to have choices and though they don’t ever choose the healthiest thing, they don’t have to worry about finding their next meal.

It is with a heavy heart that I read about families that are not surviving famine in Somalia. According to U.S. estimates, drought and famine have killed more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 in the last 90 days in southern Somalia alone. These numbers are staggering to me and thinking of other parents who are burying their children because they could not feed them is more than I can handle. So, I am so thankful for all that we have and I am reminded that my frustrations about food aren’t really all that important. It doesn’t matter that my girls live on yogurt and pancakes, because they are living.
 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Princess Diary

The Disney Princess franchise has created a monster in the minds of young girls worldwide. With two daughters, I know that there will be years of princess obsession filled with toys, apparel, dolls and home d├ęcor in pink glitter. In the movies that shot these princesses to marketing gold, the heroines are often savvy, resourceful and funny. The lessons in these movies are simplistic, morally-sound and well-stated, but I hope that my daughters are able to read between the lines.

Snow White: Don’t ever live with seven men. This should not require any more explanation. Just don’t do it.

Cinderella: If the shoe fits, wear it. This is not an idiom about acceptance. It means exactly what it says. Buy all shoes that are your size. One woman can never have enough shoes.

Beauty and the Beast: Beauty is within, but Furries are not beautiful.

The Little Mermaid: Ariel had it all wrong. Don’t ever change yourself for a man, prince or otherwise.

Tangled: Do not let your hair enslave you. Love your naturally curly hair (As a lifetime straightener, this is a “Do as I say, not as I do” moment).

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What’s in a name?

For 29 years my name was Amanda and though is it a common name, I had grown quite accustomed to it. I realized that I would have to say goodbye to my given name the minute that my daughter was born. The doctor who had delivered my precious baby placed her in my arms and said “Congratulations, Mom”.

From that moment forward everyone that was associated with my children in any way called me by this new strange forename. I had expected my children to call me “Mom”, but I had not expected to hear it from pediatricians, gym class teachers, hair stylists, or my husband. My entire identity is now irrevocably intertwined with this little person, but do you really have to take my name, too?

I had been steadfastly working my way through the steps to “quit” my old name when something strange happened to me. I was pushing my girls through the grocery store in a cart while browsing the aisles and I was doing my best to ignore all distractions. A tiny voice kept repeating itself with an increase in volume and insistence that only occurs when being ignored “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, MOMMY!” I broke out of my self-induced trance and replied loudly “YES, honey!”, but when I snapped my head around to look at my children, all was silent.

There was a little girl beside us in the aisle tugging on her mother’s pants who was the source of the repetitive chatter, who had also become silent and was now staring at me. I turned crimson and shared a feeble smile with her mother. I have now successfully beaten my addiction and take solace in the fact that there are many others with the same name, but who are completely different people.

-The Artist Formerly Known As Amanda

Friday, August 5, 2011

Succubus

To say that having a newborn is a challenge is a huge understatement. It should be easy considering that all they do is eat, sleep and poop. Unfortunately, this cycle repeats all hours of the day and all hours of the night until they are no longer infants. My babies would nurse and promptly spit-up all over themselves. So, I would need to change their clothes with them screaming bloody murder the whole time. Then, they would only sleep in my arms with my husband running a blow-dryer nearby.

Eventually, they would fall into a deep enough sleep to be laid down and then they would poop, necessitating a diaper change and another outfit change. More screaming would ensue. By this time, they would be hungry again and the cycle would start anew. Delirium set in after many nights of this strange infant behavior and I always felt drained. This makes sense because newborns suck the life out of you, ounce by ounce, through your nipples.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Everything has a price

The 18 Month Edition of “Toddler Tips” published by our pediatrician states “Mealtime should be a happy time for the family”.

Two overpriced kid’s meals that took thirty minutes to arrive even though you ordered them as soon as you sat down…$20

Dry cleaning your favorite pair of linen pants that were soiled while changing a diaper on your lap in a bathroom stall because the “family friendly” restaurant had no changing table…$7

Two overpriced ice cream sundaes that were ordered to keep the kids entertained after they threw their entire meals on the floor…$14

Getting your hair trimmed because you singed the ends in the “mood-lighting” candle while you were leaning across the table to wipe your child’s hands before she smeared hot fudge in her hair…$40

Four extra adult beverages that were chugged for survival between picking up dropped silverware, intervening in your children’s butter knife fight, and aimlessly wandering the restaurant to prevent a major meltdown…$20

Running from your table that is littered with sugar packets, straw wrappers, spilled drinks and overturned salt and pepper shakers, while holding a screaming child in one arm and to-go boxes filled with your uneaten meals in the other after enjoying a “happy family mealtime"...Priceless

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fingernails on a chalkboard

There are many terrible words in the English language that can construct many terrible sentences. Most days, I love hearing everything that my toddler has to say. If I grow tired of hearing her constant chatter, then I simply send her to Oma’s house for a night to be reminded of how oppressive the silence is without her. So, knowing how much I love hearing her little voice, it is amazing that she is capable of producing the eight worst words ever. “Mommy, I did not take a nap today.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Some Assembly Required

Being a parent gives you great confidence in your abilities, until you bring home a box that should be filled with joy the night before a major holiday. The exterior of the box depicts smiling parents and smiling children playing with what you think is the perfect toy. There is also a picture of a screwdriver with a tiny caption reading “Adult Assembly Required”. You scoff at the idea of your child using a screwdriver to assemble their own gift and think “What am I, an idiot?”

So, you open the box. This process takes an hour and a box-cutter because it is glued shut on all sides with mortar. Once opened, the box contains 3,000 pieces of Styrofoam which are stuck to every single piece inside the box. You painstakingly remove all of the pieces and enough Styrofoam to fill a landfill. When you have all of the pieces laid out, you are confused because some are labeled with numbers, some are labeled with letters, some are labeled with double letters and they fill up your entire living room.

You take a deep breath and begin looking for the instructions. While looking for the instructions, you find a plastic bag that is filled with nuts, bolts, screws, dowels, and what you think might be some wall anchors (this doesn’t hang on the wall, does it?). Finally, with a sigh of relief, you find the instructions.

The instructions are written in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Sanskrit, and possibly Wingdings. You see no English anywhere in the manual, but that’s okay because there are pictures too. There are pictures of some tools, so you run to the garage and grab your toolbox. You start with step 1A and realize that there are also steps 1B-1Z before step 2 commences. You slowly work your way through each step after running back out to the garage to get things you never thought you would need, like a chainsaw and a flamethrower. You also visit many different websites and call many different family members trying to convert measurements (What is a cubit?!?) and solve calculus problems. As you prepare to begin the final step, you send a text to the guy that you graduated with who is now an engineer. Maybe he can help.

You look at the clock when you finally complete your last required gymnastics move to put the last dowel in place, and you realize that the project has taken you seven hours. You stretch, pat yourself on the back and admire your creation. There is Mr. Potato Head smiling back at you.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Words must be weighed, not counted

When your child is little, you cannot wait for them to start talking. Once they start talking, you wish that they would stop and please be quiet for just one minute. Abby’s first word was “Mama”, her second word was “Dada” and her third word was “Uh-Oh”. These three words complete her exhaustive vocabulary. As far as I’m concerned, if she never says anything else, she will be fully equipped for all adult conversations. Most people don’t really care about the other person’s response in a conversation, they just care that they are heard. A few examples:

-“I lost my job today”
-“Uh-Oh”

-I’m pregnant”
-“Uh-Oh”

-“I’m running for President”
-“Uh-Oh”

-“How do you think this outfit looks on me?”
-“Uh-Oh”

So, Abby has already learned the tricks of the trade. With a little inflection, her small vocabulary speaks volumes. She is growing and learning new things every day, so I know it won’t be long before she adds more words to her arsenal. Uh-Oh.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Squatters

If I had known what terrible tenants my children would be, I would have collected a security deposit. Nothing has survived their wrath. They are little walking natural disasters. Where a tornado destroys everything in its path, children destroy everything in their path and yours. In my house, the carpeting is stained, the paint is scuffed, the blinds are snapped, the hinges are broken, the furniture is scratched, and the electronics are reprogrammed in such a way that they can’t even be reset to the factory default. Wishing I could have collected a security deposit is silly considering the fact that these tenants don’t even pay the rent. They would have been evicted long before now if they had any form of currency other than hugs and kisses.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The toilet and the hare

When going through the trials of potty training a toddler, never forget to give them access to toilet paper at all times. Audrey is in the midst of learning all things “potty” and wiping is unfortunately one of those things that can only be learned through experience.

Luckily, she is very independent and always wants to do things for herself. There was a period of time earlier today when I wasn’t paying attention (I was probably blogging) and Audrey did not have toilet paper when she needed it. She adapts to most situations easily and she found that the ridiculously expensive, immaculate white rabbit costume from Halloween doubled quite well as Charmin. If there was ever a time when I wished I could have jumped down the rabbit hole, that was it.