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.


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.