Friday, May 29, 2009

Spread the Love

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Keep TV off all morning. Somewhat accomplished. We only had on the music channel
Grievance: No nap for the Pickthorns.
Celebration: Boy Love used the potty at the Y without coaching!

Long time no post. My parents were in town. I have chosen to write in this blog as a daily release and a way to let go of emotion, but when my parents were here I was not in need of a release. My mother and father are two very amazing people that increase my worth when they are around. I hope that someday I can be around them all the time. Don't worry, Mom and Dad, I don't plan on living with you yet again.

The young boys and I try and go to the Y as often as possible, which translates to about 5 times a week. I have received the blessing of my OB to exercise freely, which I am doing. Much to the glee of Boy Love, who now gets to go play with his friends daily in the child care. Today, as Baby Love and I returned to the play room after our workout (he often sits in my lap as I cycle), the attendant-of-the-day was overly excited to see me. This catches me off guard, due to the fact that the attendant-of-the-day usually has something snarky and mean to say to me about how unprepared I had left my son. It was a joy to see her with a smile and not a sigh. She promptly informed me that my son, my very own Boy Love, asked to use the potty and used it without prompting or disaster. He got a special "potty sticker" of a sea horse which he admired lovingly all the way to the car. Once he was seated, however, he promptly ripped off sea horse's head. C'est la vie.

I was SO proud of my boy. Since we began potty training in October of last year, he has had times of progression, regression, and plateau. He has only used the potty in public but three times, and rarely uses it at home since the arrival of Baby Love. So we went home, and I continued to heap praises upon him until he had obviously forgotten what we were all so excited about. Once nap time rolled around a little bit later, I put him to bed with the knowledge that I was purely happy living vicariously through my son's accomplishments.

An hour and half later of not sleeping (by the sounds on the monitor in the living room, it sounded as if he was playing quietly with his toys and reading story books to himself) led me to his room to retrieve him. As I walked down the hall, the air began to feel loaded and heavy, as if something disastrous was about to occur. When I opened the door to his room, my eyes grew large with astonishment. The pungent aroma that hit my nostrils virtually singed my nose hairs. I knew immediately what had happened without even fully examining the room. My very accomplished Boy Love had used the potty on the floor of his room. Now this has happened before within the parameters of an "accident", but this was no accident. The training pants were wadded on the carpet by his bed, and the bodily discharge was...well...everywhere. So I am sure you are aware of how a monkey is infamous for the flinging of feces to mark territory. Apparently, Boy Love is reaching his primal roots, because his room was covered in poo. He, himself, was naked, but with a layer of filth covering all parts of him easily reached by his hands. It was spread across the carpet in a way that looks like he scooted his bottom across the floor in lieu of wiping. The back of his bedroom door was littered with hand prints, like he was making a huge flock of poo-flavored hand turkeys playing in the mud. What hit me the most, however, was what resided in the middle of the floor. His favourite book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? had piled upon it the varied solid chunks that he had gathered from the corners of his room and lined up neatly in an attempt to clean.

I just stood there. Shocked. That is, until my boy started to sprint his gross little naked legs to where the baby had started to cry in his bed. This is not alright. There was no way I was going to let his filth spread to the rest of my house. So away I flew after Boy Love, him running even faster to get away from my desperate grasp. Fortunately for everyone, he touched nothing else until I got him in the shower. At this point, Baby Love had woken up from him nap, and was screaming for something, and so Boy had to just be clean and naked for a good couple of hours before I could get Baby taken care of and the room appropriately Oxi-Cleaned.

At the time, I was really upset about this little episode. I thought he had done it to get a rise out of me. In retrospect, I think he was genuinely trying to use the potty but didn't know how to do so in the confines of his room. So then comes the it time to make it easier for Boy Love to get to the potty during sleep times? I definitely want to encourage the few times that he wants to use the potty, but we keep his door shut during nap and night on purpose. Boy is a sneaky and clever little one, and he would absolutely not be safe anywhere without adult supervision and guidance. So do I keep his door open and sleep with one eye open (or risk not sleeping at all), or do I keep his door shut and stifle his urge to use the potty during nap/night? Not to mention risk waking up every morning or every afternoon to his room like it was today. What do I do?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

America's Most Talented Kid

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Make it through the day without going berserck from excitement about my parents coming into town.
Grievance: My breasts are almost completely dried up all on their own (celebration?)
Celebration: Seeing my parents is always a celebration.

Boy Love loves to turn our household furniture into his own private play gym. When he gets excited, he will scramble atop our dining room table and begin to bounce on it like a trampoline. I don't know if this grates on my nerves because the table is not, in fact, a trampoline (using an item improperly = not polite) or because our dining room "chandelier" hangs low enough for him to impale his skull on one of the wee decorative metal points under each electric bulb (safety issue). I'm sure it is a combination of the two. When he knows I am coming to hold him down for something, like putting on shoes/changing diaper/retrieving him for dinner, he does one of two things. He could sprint wildly toward the swiveling office chair that sits behind our desk, takes a flying leap over it, ending in a rolling land in the small desk alcove in which the chair wheels park. He could also do-si-do with me around the coffee table a couple times then shoot up into the air like a rocket onto the upper edge of the sofa, scuttling precariously across the apex from one cushion to the next, then doing a face dive onto the end table to escape my approaching grasp. He also loves finding things, anything, that will afford him enough height to reach the bar countertop that seperates our living room from our kitchen. I can't tell you how many times I have seen him climb from a dictionary on the floor, to his child-sized rocking chair, to his high chair seat back, and up onto the bar just to reach something he perceives to be shiny from the countertop.

These acrobatics, while dangerous in many ways, are actually quite impressive. Boy has such a vivid imagination, and he uses his resources in such a clever way that it is difficult to scold him. I am in awe at how smart he can be sometimes, and how he comes up with things that I would never even imagine. Mothers make it their right to brag about how smart they think their children are, and I am no exception to that rule. My children are the most intelligent and clever children in all of time and space. My grandmother sent me a "congratulations on the new baby" card in the mail that perfectly expresses my feelings. The front of the card had a photo of a little baby balancing the concave part of the spoon on their nose, and the inside sentiments said something along the lines of Only a mother can recognize a child's true talents.

I am all about letting my children express and explore to discover their talents, but what constitues a talent as opposed to just something impolite and dangerous? I like to think that Boy Love will be a gymnast/mountain climber/secret spy when he grows up and I am merely harboring an enviroment to hone his skill. But at what point do I see what he is doing and decide it is just unsafe? At what point does balancing a spoon on your nose become a social taboo, and not something to show off to dinner guests? How do I decipher the skill from the stupidity?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Small Children + Plane = ?

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Start the process of cleaning the house for arrival of parents on Saturday
Grievance: We still have not gotten to the post office, and have no hope of doing so any time soon.
Celebration: Big Love got to sleep all night!

Our family has a trip coming up at the end of the summer. We are going home to Portland to visit our families after not being home for a year and half. I could not be more excited about this. Both Big Love and I are true Portlanders in our hearts, and both of our extended families almost exclusively live in the northwest. I could write about the northwest all day, and why it is the best place in the world to live, but I don't want everyone to move there and ruin the "small city" feel so you are going to have to believe me.

So we are going to Portland. I am making all these plans for us; who we are going to see, what we are going to do, events to plan and to attend, et cetera. Big Love will be there for the first week of the trip, then will return home on his own while the kids and I stay there. This leaves only one forseeable issue with this glorious vacation, that I can think of. The plane trip from Portland back to here.

I can only imagine what it is like to ride on a plane with two children. My only experiences on a plane with Boy Love have been pretty par for the course, I guess. When we first moved away from home, we flew one way. Boy Love had his own seat, and he had just turned one, so he was still sleeping quite a bit. The following Christmas, my wonderful parents got us a plane ticket home. It was only one ticket, so Boy had to sit on my lap, but it was a first class ticket so we had extra wiggle room around us. While first class sounded like an excellent idea in the plan (I won't lie, the free drinks were also a huge selling point), the actual execution was a little bit dreadful. I was that mom that brings her ridiculously loud child on a crowded plane, but this time, I was disrupting all the people that paid a lot of money for their tickets, not just the "lowly" coach passengers. The lady sitting next to me on one of the stretches gave us the stink eye as we entered the plane before departure, then immediately called her lover to complain about the awful ordeal she was about to go through. Both Boy and I cried the whole way through that flight.

I am trying not to think very negatively, but this time I am flying alone with two children under three. We have two seats, one for Boy and one for Baby and myself, but that will be, perhaps, the only positive thing about the trip. Honestly, I am a little nervous. I keep telling myself that it will be one really hard day, but it will be totally worth it to see my family for two whole weeks. I am just imagining, however, that there are going to be a hundred things that go terribly wrong. For example, how in the billy blue blazes are we goign to get through security? My plan is to have Boy in tiny stroller, Baby in baby bjorn, diaper bag slung over shoulder, and car seat in one of my hands somehow. So when I have to go through security, take the children out of their respective carriers, unload my bag, take off our shoes, how am I going to physically walk through the little beeping portal carrying both children? Or get all of our things back together after said beeping portal without losing track of one of my kids? Then come the issue of what to do in the airport while waiting for our flights. Do I just wander about like a mindless idiot? Airports aren't exactly set up to appeal to small children. One of my layovers is over 4 hours long (one of the joys of purchasing the least expensive ticket available). 4 hours! How, for the love of pete, am I going to contain my 3 year old from going completely beserk?

I don't even want to think about the plane ride. Heavens forbid I have to use the bathroom while we are actually flying. I can see it now... The other passengers around us have already tagged us as dreadfully annoying due to the constant crying, maniacal laughter, and steady stream of "Why?" questions coming from Boy Love. I have held my urge to pee for 2 hours now, and cannot hold it any longer. So I have to interrupt Boy Love from his portable dvd player and unbuckle him from his chair. As he writhes free from the straps, I throw on baby bjorn as quickly as a human can, and put Baby Love inside. Grabbing a newly freed Boy by the hand, we must now contort ourselves to creep out of our row. Next, maneuver through the narrow corridor, avoiding beverage carts, rogue feet from the passengers attempting to stretch out, and disdainful sneers from everyone else. Assuming we can do all this and enter the airplane facilities, I have to do the actual act of peeing before Boy and Baby scream/break the door down/empty all storage compartments of their contents. But at least I have provided my impatient neighbors with the ability to sleep uninterrupted for a minute and a half. After that, getting back to the chairs and re-buckled will be a cinch.

For mothers who have done this before, do you have any suggestions to better prepare myself for this imminent disaster? I really don't even know how to start, and I want to be as ready as possible for this, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Story Time: A Relaxing Moment

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Get the boys outside while it is sunny and nice. Insert check mark here.
Grievance: Big Love ate the rest of my sub sandwich, so I had to make lunch. I am so lazy.
Celebration: I got an hour and a half long nap today! And the double stroller fits easily in my trunk!

As a "new mom" gift from Big Love's co-workers, I got a 30 minute massage at a nearby salon. This is an awesome gift. I have had only one professional massage before (for Christmas from Big Love) and I felt it really made a difference on my overall demeanor. So to receive yet another massage was really thrilling, and I looked forward to getting it done. I had made my massage appointment for a week and a half ago. Big Love was all set up to watch the kids, and all I had to do was go and get pampered. So I arrive at this place, check in, and sit in the waiting room. The waiting room is set up to pre- and post-relax the clients, so I take my tiny mug of house brew, pick up the most recent issue of Time from the carefully posed magazine display, and sit in a soft earthen-tone leather chair that has just enough firmness that makes it easy to get out of. I do a quick survey of the room, notice the other men and women sauntering in and out, and take in the general feel. The Musak was playing some sort of watery instrumental with haunting vocals, probably from a Birkenstock-wearing girl group or pre-pubescent boy choir. The walls were a sort of natural lime green, brownish grey cement floor, and assorted vases full of rocks were littering the end tables. I was doing my best to compose my tightened muscles and sink into the milieu, which proved difficult, as all the articles in Time were foreshadowing the imminent demise of our country.

When I finally got to the point where I could drink my coffee and feel my shoulders begin to droop, a rather energetic woman interrupted the assumed silence with her boisterous gallop into the waiting room. She was obviously an employee. Her garb consisted of a white button-up blouse, gently wrinkly, like she had just pulled it out of the dryer instead of taking the time to iron it before work, black stretch pants and black orthopedic shoes. She was short...well, shorter than me. Most likely an average height for a woman. She had wavy, bleached blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail that probably should have been redone mid-day, as curly tendrils were flying about her face like the snakes of Medusa. She was slightly overweight, with a pillowy upper body that made me immediately judge her as very maternal. Her perma-smile was genuine enough, and while it was infectious, it rather contradicted the atmosphere of the room.

She peered at the people waiting with a skeptical eye, and each person, in turn, returned her gaze by casually glancing up from their publication of choice. When she didn't find what she was apparently looking for, she began to study the clipboard she carried in with her. "Lauren P..Pick...thorn? Lauren Pickthorn!" She is not the first to struggle with my name. I smiled dutifully at her and put my magazine and coffee down. When she doesn't see me immediately I cautiously raise my hand to the level of my shoulder like a shy first grader. When she saw this awkward move, she bumbled over to me and shoved the clipboard in my lap and told me to fill it out. With no further instruction, she left the room. So I filled it out. I checked the appropriate boxes, telling my family history, medical history, contact information, and that I was breastfeeding. She re-entered the room a couple minutes later and I stood to greet her. She snapped the offered clipboard back to the comfort of her personal bubble and began to peruse it as we exited the room and walked down the adjacent hall. Other employees similarly dressed were loitering in the darkened corridor, talking and laughing amongst each other, but straightening their posture and giving me the obligatory smile as we passed. My escort stopped short, squinted her eyes at the form that she was still reading, then gave me the once over with her gaze. "Are you pregnant?" she began. Bad way to start.
" Breastfeeding." I felt like pointing out the boxes on the form where I had not checked "Pregnant" and had checked "Nursing", but I felt like that may have been a bit rude.
"Did you know that you are signed up to get a pregnancy massage?"
"Yes." I did know this, but apparently I needed to explain further. "I was told that the few weeks after giving birth, you are still not supposed to have regular massages. Not sure why, but that is what I was told."
She threw back her head abruptly laughed, "Ha! Of course you can get a regular massage! That is so silly! You can lie on your stomach, right?" I could. "Then of course you can get a regular massage! But I have to completely re-set up your room, because, silly me, I set up for a pregnancy massage! Silly me!"

She continued to tell me a story about a time when a man came in for a supposed pregnancy massage, and I chuckled in all the appropriate spots. When we got into the room, I noticed it was decorated almost exactly the way the waiting room had been. Same colors, same floor, same stones in jars. The only thing different was the single wall covered in a giant mirror. My masseuse (she told me who she was on our trip down the hall) swirled around the room, re-arranging pillows on the massage table that would allow me to lie on my stomach. She left and I undressed, placing myself on the table. I was still reeling from the non-relaxing qualities of this woman, but I was convinced that she would simmer down her character for the actual massage. So as I lay there, I begin to soak up the atmosphere once again. I put my face in the donut shaped pillow, closed my eyes, and felt my muscles begin to get heavy with relaxation.

They masseuse entered, and as I had suspected, her demeanor was toned down significantly. For the first 25 minutes, she spoke only once, to tell me to let her know if she was doing anything too soft or too hard. I agreed with a quiet hum, and let her pamper my over-worked back. It was 25 minutes of uninterrupted bliss. Once it was time for her to work on my shoulders and neck, I dutifully turned over onto my back. At this point, I was quite sure I would finish out my massage without a hitch. Much to my chagrin, however, my bubbly masseuse began to speak. And not in the gentle, patient tones that one would expect from a person who is supposed to be gentle and patient for a living. No. It was like running into a long-lost high school friend that yells at you from across a crowded airport gate and runs up to you screeching almost inaudibly. So for the next 5 minutes, she asks me an endless string of questions about my children, which I answer in short, rude one-word sentences. Not getting the hint, she follows each of my responses with a long anecdote about her own children, coloring her stories with a periodic guffaw or enthusiastic pounding of the fist on the pillow directly next to my right ear. At this point, I resign to the fact that no matter how good the massage is, all I am feeling is annoyance.

I have decided to take the ever-so-infrequent blog to narrate a story from my life. It will likely end up much like this one. Not necessarily funny, not necessarily sad, but just a story. I don't really know a certain one reason why I am doing this...perhaps it is to remind myself to keep my outlook on life light. Perhaps it is to help me learn to be more observant. Perhaps it is just to teach myself to be a better writer. For any reason, I hope that if you had the stamina to read the whole thing, you were able to glean a little bit about how one like me views the world.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Not just Young at Heart

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Only consume one item from the "Fats and Sweets" category of the food pyramid
Grievance: The "Fats and Sweets" category of food pyramid is too small.
Celebration: I have not yet consumed my one allotted sweet/fat. Hooray for praying for restraint.

Since my last post (two days ago), my mind has been completely focused on restraining from eating too much. So far, I have been marginally successful. However, the thought of excessive eating still plagues my thoughts far more than I wish it to. When Boy Love complained of hunger on the way from church to car, I have to admit I was excited at the excuse to stop for fast food. Unfortunately, I had been an excellent and prepared mother earlier in the morning and packed him some goldfish crackers in his lunch pail. Sad. We no longer had an excuse to eat giant burgers and greasy fries.

Of late I have been noticing my need for immediate gratification. I think much of my issue with food is my lack of patience. When I feel I need something, I need it NOW, and I need it until I am so filled with that thing that I begin to despise it. So really it is a combination of impatience and over-indulgence. Perhaps I am unable to process mentally how much is enough.

For instance, I make this breakfast from time to time that I think is really delicious. Fried potatoes, kielbasa, onion, garlic, and seasonings all mashed up into this single sloppy conglomerate. I know it sounds gross, but it really is quite good. Whenever I make this for Big Love and I (Boy Love only eats anything if it is on his terms), I make enough to feed a small army and max out my frying skillet. After the meal is finished cooking, the smell of sausage and onion and garlic is intoxicating, and it is all I can do to not just grab a giant salad serving fork and have at. But I set the table, wait for everyone to gather, and Boy Love says a prayer. After that, though, it is all downhill. I can eat 2 heaping dinner plates full of this slop, and not even think twice about it. An hour afterward, however, I am kicking myself for my inability to get out of the couch, and blaming it all on the breakfast I couldn't stop myself from conquering.

In further prayer and metal process, I feel like perhaps I have not grown into the woman that I thought I was. I am in no way a lady, but I thought I had matured in leaps and bounds since being blessed with my oldest child. I am aware that my way is not always the only way (even though I'm pretty sure it still may be the best way), my tongue is much more tame than it used to be, and I am no longer the key-holder to all of knowledge. For these few feats, I am proud. But then I find myself doing things that a child would do. Eating like ravenous beast at the first sign of vittles is just a start. My dear, dear husband informed me recently that I chew loudly. This is something I never knew, and I am terribly embarrassed to eat at all now. Eating loudly is something I should have overcome 20 years ago. I also moan and whine like a little baby every time I have to wake up in the middle of the night. I should know better. I am a mother, and was completely aware of the trials of motherhood before I got into it. Also, I over-react to almost everything, which is something I see my two-year-old mimicking. I would expect it from a toddler. Even as old as a teenager. But a mother of two?

Why am I still so young? Contrary to what I believed to be true, having children does not automatically make you the poster child for social graces. Perhaps this is one of those advantages to having children later in life. You have so much more life experiences to teach you how to be a grown-up. Will this youth deter my ability to turn my two boys into men? Am I destined to be that mom that one always looked down on because she was too much like her children? When will I learn to be a adult?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Everyone Has Their Vices...

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Either get to they Y or the park so Boy Love can play.
Grievance: I have not had the chance to write a blog in almost a week. Boo and Hiss.
Celebration: When I woke up, both boys were still sleeping. Amazing.

I love to eat. I am an eating fool. I am not one of those people that love to eat because I enjoy a well-crafted dish, and I do not eat to appreciate a chef's culinary skill. I eat because I like the feeling of gut-exploding fullness. I will gladly eat a giant bag of fast food just because it is fast, or pile my plate up high with empty calories and spoonfuls of insecurity so I can see myself lick it clean. In high school, I could eat this way because I counteracted it with an excellent metabolism and 3 hours a day of water polo. This is not the case anymore. My slowing metabolism and lack of regulated work-out regime has left me powerless against the calories that I adore. In my battle against food, my ever-growing waistline continues to tell me that I am losing. My clothing sizes have become larger, my shorts have become longer, and I no longer have any interest in letting anyone see more of my legs than they absolutely must.

Most of the time I don't even think about what I am eating. I am too focused on other things. I am lucky to be able to sit down and eat anything after getting the boys fed, changed, and cleaned up. Every once in a while, however, I have a wake-up call. Yesterday was one of those instances.

I was doing my "couch workout", which consists of pumping my breast milk, feeding the baby then burping him, and completing some other small tasks (folding clothes, cleaning coffee table, etc...), but on this day I had to do an unprecedented amount of standing up and sitting down. I would like to believe that humankind to have the ability to stand and sit in this matter, but most of humankind has not tried sitting on my couch. My couch is very comfortable in a way that reminds me of Care Bears lying down on their pillow-y soft clouds. It is a couch that warmly coddles any part of you making contact with it, and you immediately succumb to it's soporific spell, leaving you melting into sleep like an M&M in mouth (not in hand). It makes getting out of the couch a nightmare. I always love watching people get out of the couch. First comes the facial expression that has the pout of a 5-year-old not wanting to leave the park. Next, the loaded and exaggerated sigh of someone about to do something they have no interest in doing. Next, the back-swing; body rocks back with help from arms, sharp intake of breath, and the inaudible plea to the abs to tighten that only shows in a contorted look of agony on the face. Finally, the actual event of leaving the couch which can only be characterized as painful.

I had to do this a number of times yesterday, and I was embarrassed to see my abdominal muscles tremble and tremor under the pressure. After standing a few times, I was convinced that I needed to start seriously working out my abs. There is no way I will be excited about taking classes at the Y again when I know that my stomach will shake uncontrollably at the first sign of strain. So I do my postpartum ab workout that I have been doing, but I try extra hard to isolate the muscles that need attention. After I finish, I am lying there, and my mind immediately goes to food. I want cookies. Or cheesecake. Or a pint of Ben and Jerrys.

Here enters my wake up call. As I stumble to the fridge for some celebratory dessert (every workout deserves a celebration in my book), I catch a glimpse of myself in my mind's mirror. I am overweight, flabby, and continue to eat uncontrollably. I look like the people you see on shows like The Incredible Shrinking Woman. I am on Dr. Phil/Oprah/Tyra type of fix-your-life talk show crying at the audience and having Dr. Phil/Oprah/Tyra asking me if I can admit I have a problem. So I step away from the fridge, turn my back to it, and just stare in the opposite direction. I tell myself, the name of the game is restraint. Restraint. Restraint. So I walk away. This makes me very proud. This morning, however, for breakfast I ate a couple bites of some sort of Reeses cookie bar I had made for Big Love, and my restraint has left the building.

I know I have a problem keeping my eating under control. I was hanging out with Big Love last night, and we got onto the subject of nicotine addictions, and he reminded me that with prayer and the mighty hand of God, people can overcome anything. To this I immediately scoffed, arguing that there are people in the world that don't believe in God, and they are the ones that often turn to man-made help to recover from addiction. He responded with an amazing amount of patience that anyone can turn to God for help, no matter if they believe in Him or not, and that anything conjured by man will not satisfy. He is totally right. Man is not enough. Only God is sufficient. So I need to take my issue of unhealthy and over-indulgent eating to the Lord. Only the Lord can give me the strength to stay healthy. I will not be able to do it by my own will power. I hear that everyone has their vices, and that is likely true. For me, instead of food, I choose for my vice to be prayer. I very much want to change, and I need to turn to the Lord for any sort of change to happen.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Alone Time

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Have house presentable before MIL and SIL get into town (for those unfamiliar with computer shorthand, MIL = mother-in-law; SIL = sis-in-law)
Grievance: The cookies I baked last night got thrown on the floor this morning on accident.
Celebration: I get to see family today! Hooray!

I have to admit that I love watching make-over shows. I know most people love Extreme Makeover: Home Edition because you know you will cry at the end. We have some sort of sick fascination with rags-to-riches tales. We often wish we ourselves were in rags, just so we can have the chance to make it "to riches" like the stories we hear. My favourite makeover shows, however, are people makeover shows. You see these women (sometimes men) with neglected skin and hair, and an even more neglected wardrobe, and you yearn for them to be reinvented. I have learned many things on shows like that about fashion, clothing structure, fabrics, how to apply cosmetics, how to find hairstyles to fit your face, etc... One of the things that attracts me most to these shows is watching mothers who have "let themselves go" get reintroduced to style and have the opportunity to get pampered. Watching those mothers kinda makes me want to become one of them. They spend all of their efforts on others; raising their children, keeping their houses immaculate, volunteering, sometimes even holding down jobs. They are such stand-up people and amazing contributors to society. And as a reward, they get these fancy makeovers! They get clothes, haircuts, makeup, days at the spa, and life coaches telling them how to keep themselves sane by making sure they get time for themselves every day. Sounds like an awesome life, if you ask me.

At the point in these shows that someone reminds this mother that they need to make sure they take time for themselves, my hope for becoming like these women begins to subside. Not because I have no hope for alone time, but because taking alone time is something I do not need to be reminded to do. I take time multiple times a day to do things for myself because this is the only thing that keeps me from losing it. I sit down at my computer to write a blog almost every day (30 minutes), I make it to the Y most days and sit in the hot tub while Boy Love plays in the child care (60 minutes), I take a bath nightly and read (30 minutes), and, when I can, I sleep when the boys are sleeping (60 minutes/4 times a week). Each of these things are vital for me keeping my cool. I have a very short fuse, and I have no interest in making my boys miserable by getting mad for no reason. I am also a very moody person, and even the smallest issue can throw my emotional stability into a state of panic.

When I watch makeover shows and hear of women who never have alone time, it makes me a little nervous that I am taking too much of it. Then I say to myself that the moms on these shows are constantly getting reminded to take time for themselves, and that I am just following directions. But am I taking it a step too far? Is the amount of alone time I get translating into neglect of my children? I never do anything alone while my kids are awake/in need of anything. If they are playing, I am always watching them, within a few yards, and available at any sign of need. Even if they are sleeping I keep monitors on in the house so I can hear. I don't feel like I am anything other than very safe and available. I do feel, however, that maybe I can be too selfish with my time. How do I know? So many other mothers are give away all their time to their children and others...maybe I am not doing it right. Or, maybe I am doing it right. How do I know?

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Friday, May 8, 2009

An Apology

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Get through day without crying. Again.
Grievance: Boy Love dumped a bottle of nail polish on our carpet.
Celebration: I think Mother's Day is going to be really neat.

I feel the need to write a bit of an apology/explanation of my blog posts. I know I should be apologizing for the lack of proofreading, but I will chalk up my grammatical and spelling errors to being a mother and not really having time to write these in the first place. Today, my apology is for the nature of my topics.

I feel that maybe I have been coming across as whiny, complaining, and a sniveling little priss. I may be all of those things, but I am in no way trying to use this blog as an avenue to vent. Honestly, I have been trying to recount my day-to-day happenings that cause me grief, but re-invent them in a light and (hopefully) humorous way that will bring me back to focusing on the big picture. I tend to blow things out of proportion, get overwhelmed easily, and get myself all worked up into a tizzy over things are are very silly. I need a way to remind myself that my life is not hard, and likely easier than every other mother's life.

If I have come across as ungrateful, I apologize. I am more than grateful for my life. My children are amazing. God has given me a husband that I could never have dreamed of. My parents and sister (now many parents and many sisters) are loving, supportive, and there when I need them. I have an extended family that loves me and cares about everything I do. I have found a church where I feel like I can contribute to God's work. I have a home, clothes in my closet, and food in my fridge. God has provided for me in ways that I cannot believe. It is hard to imagine that I even need to remind myself how lucky I am.

Verse of the Day:

Luke 12:27 "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Never Talk to Strangers

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Sort through mountain of Gladware on counter.
Grievance: Baby Love refuses to poo. Flat out refuses.
Celebration: I actually baked last night. First time in over a month.

There are many aspects of motherhood that have benefited my social life. Now, the people I have known all my life that are parents are now my friends. It is amazing how one's circle of friends increases when you have kids. You lose touch with most of your child-less friends, but there are so many more people in the with children than without. I care very much for my non-parent friends, but I have to say I am very happy to have people to talk to that are in my situation (or were in my situation at one time).

However, with the world opening up to me, I find that there is a slightly obnoxious side effect: Strangers with children. Henceforth referred to as "Park Mom".

While you are pregnant, you find that strangers in every place you go are obsessed with your pregnancy. They are trying to touch you, make comments on how you look (which usually ends up being really depressing), guess what the gender is by the way you are carrying (also depressing), and giving unwarranted advice. I found that if you do one of the following, people refrain from talking to you about your pregnancy:

- Smack the hand of someone trying to touch your stomach
- Carry the air of, "If you speak to me, odds are you will say the wrong thing and you will soon be the victim of my cutting, below-the-belt comebacks."
- Say, "What are you talking about...I'm not pregnant. Just fat."
- Wear a t-shirt that specifically spells it out. "Do not feel the need to talk to me just because I am pregnant." (I always wished I had made a t-shirt like that)

Woman has now given birth to the children, they are at park. Enter Park Mom. Woman is helping her children up the stairs, swing on swing, teaching them to wait their turn. Woman sees infamous Park Mom on other side of playground. Park Mom eyes Woman, gives smug and knowing smile, begins the overly non-chalant meander to strategically place herself next to Woman. Woman inwardly cringes, predicting the disaster about to occur. Park Mom makes first move:
"Sunny day out today!" (Woman detests pick-up lines about the weather. The Park Mom's bread-and-butter)
"Sure is..."
"So how old are yours?"
"2. And new." (Oh, goodness. Woman made an inadvertent rhyme. That will come back to bite her, she is sure...)
"Wow! That must be quite a busy household."
"Well, boys will be boys." (Obviously an ending of a conversation. To reinforce point, Woman tries to walk toward children, followed step-for-step by Park Mom)
"Your oldest is quite a climber! Mine is, too. I turn around one minute and he has made his way up the bookshelf like a cat! I try to keep him from...(I'm sure she said something entirely enthralling here, but I tuned out)...don't you think?"
"Uh, yeah. Boys are a handful." (Tries again to lose Park Mom by helping children play on equipment)
"The other day, mine was at the doctor and...(insert fantastic doctor's office story here, again, unheard by Woman)...sometimes I don't know what do with him! Does yours get diarrhea, too? Like that real yellow-y green-y liquid?"
"No." (Woman tries not to gag. Reminds herself to vomit later)

...And so the conversation continues until either Park Mom gets hint (rarely occurs), Woman finds clever way to lose Park Mom, or one of their respective children sustains significant injury on play structure.

Why must mothers thrust themselves on other mothers? I love that people want to be parents and want to connect with other parents. However, it is completely unnecessary to throw yourself at another woman just because she is a mom, too. I don't care about your child's digestive habits, special ability to line up pebbles on the sidewalk, or other personal information, and I have a hard time believing that you care about my kids. And in what world would I tell you personal information on my child?!? Maybe I watch too much Law and Order, but there are crazy people out there! Crazy people that can use information like that against a person. So, for the love of Pete, back up, Park Mom!

This only tells us what we all have been told since we were children: Never talk to strangers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Necessity is the Mother of...

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Only eat 2 chocolate cupcakes today.
Grievance: My clean house is once again cluttered. Does it never end?
Celebration: It is only 11 a.m. and we have already been out of the house and back!

Big Love sometimes calls upon me to help out his business by bringing him things during work hours. I love doing this. It makes me feel like I am a part of the paycheck he brings home. And it also makes me feel important and indispensable. I know that is just me flattering myself; I know that I am not the only one who can run errands for him. It is nice to feel needed, though. This morning I received such a call...Big Love left his very important cell phone at home. This never happens, due to the fact that his cell phone has almost permanently grown into his person. I consider it more like Big Love's built-in homing device (I'm quite sure all humans will have such built-in devices in the near future). So this particular mission was of dire importance. A task that required minimum preparation, and the swiftest of speed.

So, I left all bags/diapers/snacks at home, and only brought the bare minimum. Our respective cups of liquid sustenance (Boy - Apple Juice, Me - Black coffee, Baby - Nectar of Life), and the clothes on our backs. And the rogue cell phone. I figure, Hey, there is no traffic, we will drop it off and get back before my children lose their minds. This is all a great theory. In execution, not so much. As soon as we are seated and buckled, Boy Love has reached the end of his juice supply, Baby Love has had a sudden onset of hunger, and I (of course) have stashed his bottle in a place that is unreachable from the front seat. I then am attempting to sing familiar tunes to distract the eldest boy from his traumatic circumstances while I twist my right arm (much like the creepy little Cirque Du Soleil contortionists) to reach the tip of my finger into the mouth of screaming Baby. As I glanced in the rear view mirror, I see the woman in the vehicle behind me is chuckling in my direction. Whether or not she is chuckling at me is of no consequence, I still want to smack her.

I safely race down the road, two very unhappy children in the car, when I have brilliant plan. I shall make an invention. An invention that feeds an infant in a rear-facing car seat while I am driving. I am imagining something along the lines of a feeder they install on the side of rodent cages. A container of milk that hangs upside-down on the side of the car seat, and only releases milk when the recipient makes the effort to put their mouth on the nozzle and suck. Now, at the time, I think this is a brilliant plan, and spend the rest of my mid-morning outing devising ways to make such an invention work. Now that I am here, sitting at home, I realize that not only are there many large cracks in the foundation of my plan, but I have just compared my little baby to a rodent. I now kick myself for having such grotesque little thoughts, but applaud myself at my brilliance in discovering what the next baby invention should be. It will be the new hip thing to buy, like Diaper Pods and Wipe Warmers. I shall call it...hmmmm... Attainable Goal: I need clever names for my traveling-rodentish-baby feeding device.

Are there any other inventions that other Mothers have decided need to be made? Tell me what brilliant ideas have struck in the middle of the best/worst of times. We shall make a list! A list of things that need to be invented! First on list, my invention. "Meals on Wheels". No? Bad name? Yeah, it is pretty lame....

Monday, May 4, 2009

Brotherly Love

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Vacuum before Miss Judy comes with dinner.
Grievance: We are out of bread and yogurt, which means a "hasty" trip to the grocery store.
Celebration: Boy Love has been asking to use the potty all morning. And Sesame Street did a sketch inspired by Law and Order. Hilarious.

I have been told by those who have boys that the difficult thing is to keep them in check physically. Make sure they don't rip each others arms off, keep them from biting the other children at the daycare, and stop their inherent instinct to play with themselves in public. To me, this sounds like a reasonable checklist. I believe that, in time, I will be able to raise a couple of gentle, socially appropriate men that will make me and their daddy proud.

Right now (and I am sure for many years to come), I am finding it difficult to keep Boy Love from physically hurting Baby Love. Not out of spite, nor jealousy, nor brotherly distaste, of course, but out of the pure inability to control his strength. This makes punishing him a very trying task. He has no idea what he is doing is wrong, because, in theory, it isn't wrong. I don't want to discourage interaction, but I also don't want to have to tell Baby Love years from now that he lost his eye as an infant because his brother was trying to identify parts of the face and got too excited. I don't want to have to utilize my infant resuscitation skills because Boy was trying to overzealous-ly share his pillow and blanket with his sleeping sibling.

He loves Baby so much, it is hard not to be amazed. He cares very much for his well-being; he wants to help feed him, change him, get him dry clothes, wrap him up in blankets, and keep his plug in his mouth. I love seeing him "help out", and I want him to continue to do so. So how do I appropriately discipline Boy Love for hurting Baby, when his intentions are so good? It would be easier if I could gently explain to him the ramifications of his actions, but he looses interest in my very enthralling/informative lectures almost immediately. Then the next time I turn around, he is doing exactly the same thing. I usually end up firmly saying "No", then trying to give him another task to do that will be equally helpful. To this, he falls over in his famous phony dramatics, kicking and screaming because I scolded him, and making a concerted effort to make me feel guilty for doing so. My teaching, then, is for naught, and I am stuck with a tantrum. Sigh.

How else do I handle situations like this? I want him to want to help out. I want him to want to snuggle with his brother. I don't want to discourage his loving instincts. I also want us all to be safe and happy. Any suggestions?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mission: Car Ride

Daily Specs:

Attainable Goal: Spring clean Boy Love's clothing.
Grievance: Boy Love woke up rearin' to go at 5:15
Celebration: 8 hours of sleep and my fever is broken

One of the daily struggles of having 2 small boys is the process of getting into the car. First of all, if you are lucky enough to have gotten a shower, put on something other than sweats, and still had the energy to put your hair up in pins, you are still only at square one.

Next comes the task to getting ready actually cross the threshold of the house. Diaper bag needs to be packed with appropriate amount of diapers, wipes, milk, burp rags, extra clothes, pacifier, etc without the eldest of the two boys emptying it's contents and scattering them willy nilly about the floor. Boy Love's lunch pail needs to be packed with juice, snacks, diapers, and wipes with everything adequately marked with his name. If this can be accomplished without Boy Love eating the snacks packed, drinking the juice packed, and wearing the diaper on his head like super-absorbent leak-proof helmet, then comes the time to move on to the third phase of preparing for our mission.

When one has a brand new baby, it is imperative to make sure that said baby is adequately fed before leaving the house. This is to avoid having a screeching child in public (this takes a toll on the "cute factor") and greatly reduces the chance that you need to breastfeed/pump in public. (Note: I am of the opinion that if you get offended by a mother breastfeeding her child in public, then you need to seriously re-evaluate your priorities. However, I prefer to not have the world subjected to my breasts for aesthetic reasons, which is why I avoid public feedings. This whole discussion is for a different blog, though...) So this means spending 20+ minutes feeding or pumping. Or whatever makes it so baby is full and breasts are empty. By this time, toddler is jealous that baby gets "Milk Snack" and he gets diddly, so it is off to scavenge for yet some more food. Preferrably a snack that travels, but then that leaves the issue of getting out the door holding said snack and not spilling it/losing interest.

By this time, over 30 minutes have elapsed and we are still in the house. I need to get myself out the door, too, so I find the closest slip-on shoes that I see, whether they match or not. Then I need the ever-so-irreplaceable keys and phone (heavens forbid I need to bring anything else like mail or trash). When the three of us are finally packed and prepared, it is time to wedge Baby Love into his car seat, which inevitably wakes him from his slumber and reminds him that he needs to eat again. Perhaps the pacifier will suffice, so begins the rummage through his bag to find it. By the time my head has emerged from the recesses of his diaper bag (reminiscent of Mary Poppins and the carpet bag full of furniture), Boy Love has tried to take matters into his own hands. To stop the crying, he is covering Baby's face with smothering kisses and snuggles, and when that seems to make the situation worse, he tries shoving his fingers as far down his brother's throat as possible to provide him with something to suck. While he has the best of intentions, I have to scold him for taking away Baby's ability to breathe, and I quickly replace fingers with binky.

It is time to brave the front door. With Baby Love' car seat in one hand, diaper bag slung over shoulder, keys in other hand, I cautiously open the dreaded gateway to the great unknown. Not before, however, I have given Boy Love a pep talk in staying close to mother. Why I do these pep talks is beyond me, because as soon as the door opens, off he shoots like a circus cannon toward the busy apartment parking lot. I am fumbling with my keys to lock the front door, yelling at Boy to wait for mommy, and trying to replace the pacifier that has since been spit out, making for a very unhappy baby. If I am lucky enough to have Boy Love even give me a glance, I pounce on the opportunity to catch up to him. If he ignores me (which is most of the time), I find myself putting Baby on the ground by the front door and sprinting wildly after the bobbling head of blonde hair, only to catch him barely before he gets hit by a speeding car. Then comes the scolding, which obviously does no good whatsoever, and the exasperated attempt to get Boy in his own car seat. Through all of this, Baby is sitting in his seat, eyes being attacked by direct sunlight, and binky has once again escaped his suck. So I close Boy in car, run quickly back to Baby, and bring him to his car seat base. If I can successfully get him locked into his spot, binky replaced, and sun out of eyes, I move to the other side of the car where Boy Love has escaped from his chair and is playing in another area of the car. Then commences the all-too-familiar struggle to get Boy into his seat and buckled, which often can last up to 5 minutes of firm discussion and threats of a hand slap. Once both boys are in the car, I get into the drivers seat, turn on the AC, and heave a giant sigh of relief as the car cools down. About 45 minutes of our day have passed me by.

So I understand that 2 year olds are almost all this difficult, but I tend to get very nervous about mine in particular. He is dreadfully disobedient almost all of the time, and I fear that in situations like this, he is going to seriously hurt himself or someone else. I tire of having to apologize to cars in the parking lot after he has ran in front of them, and I tire of the emotional toll that this kind of reckless action takes on me. I also don't want to have to constantly worry about him hurting the baby in one of his well-intentioned attempts to help. So what do I do? I have tried being calm and firm, I have tried yelling at him, I have tried slapping his hand and putting him in time out. I have tried being totally casual about it to see if he is just trying to get a response out of me. And yet, with all these tactics, he still makes me nervous to the point of tears. What do I do? I hate being in constant fear for our safety. Am I destined to be confined to the house until he grows up?