Monday, November 18, 2013

Late Nights Ain't What They Used to Be

Around 11 last night, my husband and I were about to feed the baby for the last time and head to bed. Our simple nightly wind-down was interrupted when a little 4-year-old head peeked out of the boys’ room and said, ‘I’m thirsty.” 

Our children are generally good sleepers, and even when they aren't, they still stay in their beds. Little man had an adventurous weekend, though, attending his first wedding, staying up late and going two days without naps. Last night, he was tucked in and out cold at 6 p.m.

So at 11, he came out for some chit chat and something to drink. Due to the early bedtime, we obliged, snuggled for a few minutes and sent him back to bed. Thirty minutes later, he was still awake. I checked on him one last time, and he announced, “I’m hungry.” Sigh. Normally I would not cave, but given the oddities of the weekend, I told him to come out quietly so we didn't wake up his brother in the bunk above.

E proudly walked back to our bedroom and announced to my husband that he was hungry and was ready for breakfast. We kindly explained the actual time and told him it wasn't time for breakfast. I asked what he would like to eat, and again I got, “I’m just ready for breakfast.” Around and around we went, until I again caved and gave him a breakfasty food, of which he took two bites and announced that he wasn't REALLY hungry for that breakfast.

Meanwhile, we had turned down the lights and settled in to feed the baby. A time when she normally winds down and drifts right off to sleep was interrupted by breakfast talk at midnight. Guess who else was ready to party?

So Greg carted the little man back to bed with the promise of checking on him every five minutes until he fell asleep, and I was left with a squealing, laughing 5-month-old who was ready for anything but sleep.  At 1 a.m. we heard the last happy shriek and giggle and finally settled in for some much needed sleep…which ended too soon at 6 a.m. Thank goodness I have such a fabulous partner to laugh with and with whom I sleepily stumble through this adventure called parenting.

Just for laughs and to make us sleepy, struggling parents feel a teensy bit better...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Life With a Lab

Meet Wilson.

He’s our super sweet, lovable Lab capable of whirling dervish-sized trouble and mishaps. These 90 pounds of love find trouble in every corner and can’t be trusted unsupervised - even at age 3.

I work from home two days a week and during this child-free time, Wilson has freedom to roam without getting all riled up by his favorite little humans. Even then, much of my time is spent calling to locate him and removing the most coveted of my sons’ bed buddies from his jaws. This usually involves him slinking past me, head hung low and big brown eyes looking up as if to say, “I wonder if she sees me?” Meanwhile, a toy that’s not his own is draping from his jowls. To his credit, I did find one of the limbs of his own monkey in my son’s bed. How kind that he left E something in place of his favorite stuffed tiger.

Here is an hour’s worth of the toys removed from said jowls. It’s my daily record that I share with my husband. “Only five today! We’re making progress!”

The other factor to Wilson’s freedom being limited is his inability to refrain from terrorizing the cats. Truly, he just wants to play, but he can make Marley go from this:

To kung fu cat:

in a flash. (Wilson's the only one who can bring out this alter ego, and for the record, this is the BEST shot I have ever taken.) They really have a pretty good relationship and tolerate each other well, until Marley taunts and Wilson responds. In fact, a few weeks back, they spent a couple of unexpected hours together in Wilson’s crate (eeek!) and neither had a scratch on ‘em when Greg realized it. Oops!

Maddox (whose face could at times earn him the title of Grumpy Cat II) is an entirely different story. There is no love in this relationship. Maddox goes from this:

to growling like a pit bull and hissing like a feral cat whenever Wilson comes within ten feet of  him. 

(And at random intervals at the gate to his room just because he can.) 

I must admit that Wilson’s antics can be helpful at times, though, like last week when he found E’s missing slippers and how he manages to continuously teach me that I have never picked up as well as I think I have. (Company coming? Release the dog and see how well we cleaned up!) And additionally, that while I may play with him for what seems like ages to me, his mischief and energy tank are never empty.

Life’s not complete without a dog, and I dearly love mine. I mean, how could I not? My day wouldn't be full without him looking up at the high cabinet over and over where his treats are kept, asking for his daily bone.

And it certainly wouldn’t be the same without him dropping a tennis ball on my foot, carrying it to the back door, then looking at me expectantly.

Sometimes you just need to drop everything and play ball with your dog. Wilson keeps my hectic life in perspective. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Oh, How I Love Reading

I’m a book hoarder. I love to own them – kindle editions and the good ‘ole classic paper kind. I see a title and plot that peaks my interest, and I snatch it up…only for it to sit in a pile or inside my Kindle for months. OK, some of them years.

I've been an avid reader since I was a child. I love a good story. Both of my parents passed on a deep love of reading to me. I’m passionate about the English language and get the greatest satisfaction out of finding an error in a book that an editor didn't catch. It comes close to making me feel like a super hero. (And yes, I absolutely know how geeky that makes me. Word-nerd is my label of choice, if you must throw stones.)

Now I come to the reason that my stack of books is so high. Children. One word, but many reasons balled up into those sweet, sticky little high-energy bodies. Books I could have read in a week now take a year, or I forget that I was reading them before I can even finish. Hell, I've even started books that I have read before and not realized it until at least chapter five.

The past few years I have found myself LIVING for vacation. Yes, to spend time with my family and to play with my children for a week without saying, “I can’t right now, honey. Mommy has work to do.” But secretly, I get equally as excited about all the time I will have for reading! GLORIOUS reading! I know that I will get absorbed in and actually COMPLETE at least two books. Heaven.

On our most recent vacation I read “The Rescue” by Nicholas Sparks and “Summer Rental” by Mary Kay Andrews. Both were excellent. My mother introduced me to Mary Alice Monroe recently, and I just started “The Summer Girls.” I love a quirky southern tale. Hopefully I will have this one done before next summer.

I confess that I DO still get to read on a daily basis. G and I are making our way through all of the Magic Tree House books together. Though they may not be what I would choose to pour over all the time, as we read together and he asks for “just one more chapter,” I know that I am doing something important. I’m instilling that same spark that’s in me in my child. And that’s what’s important right now. Can’t wait to see where Jack and Annie will go in that tree house tonight. (Rumor has it they’ll be boarding the Titanic!)

Some of our Magic Tree House collection (with a gargoyle to protect it)

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Wonderful World of Disney

Like most working moms, I have a lot of balls up in the air at all times. I could out-juggle a veteran circus clown any day.
This has been one of those “I’m juggling 50 bowling balls at once” weeks, and I am pleased to see it end, though it was not without highlights. When you have little ones, a whole week is never without highlights.
First of all, I have three lovely children — G is my almost-7-year-old boy, E is my just-turned-4-last-weekend fella and G2 is my sweet little 3-month-old baby girl, who still has that new car smell. Actually she smells like spit up — all the time — since she spits up on herself even IN the bathtub. But more on the spit up chronicles later.
With E’s birthday falling last week, there was a heaping helping of things to get done. Was trying to just restore order to our little house enough for me? Noooo. I felt the absolute need to paint and clean carpets and check other fun things like that off of a mile-long list before we had family over. (My husband loves my lists.) And lists tend to grow when you look around your little house that was built in 1934, which has been bursting at the seams since before E was born, and realize that there’s no chance that you’re going to find hiding places for all of the clutter — there aren’t enough sofas and beds to stash things under.
One of the uber-important items on the list was “bake cupcakes for E’s preschool class.” My boys love to bake, and I cherish the time with them, so I don’t opt for the store-bought kind. This baking session was a little crazier than usual as I tried to cram it in on a weeknight, but in between dinner, baths and reading, we got it done.
I took the cupcakes in to his class last Friday, and I could have kissed his teacher when she said, “Wow. Three children and still baking the cupcakes yourself — I’m impressed.” It wasn’t that I wanted anyone to be impressed; it was the simple fact that she recognized exactly what it took for me to get those cupcakes baked, frosted and in front of those 10 preschoolers. She is also the mother of three and worked when they were small. There was a deep understanding there.
Fast forward to this week. My job is busier than ever before, the boys are perfecting ways to best irritate the pants off of each other, and I am trying my darndest to pump enough milk for a baby who is allergic to all formula with less than great results. (Again, more on that another time.) Both boys have their first homework assignments and, in addition, E has brought home this red bag with a notebook and a stuffed Mickey Mouse peeking out. Did any of your children have the stuffed animals who come home and spend the week with your family? (Please tell me I am not the only one who just sees a big ball of germs rather than a plush animal. At least we got it early in the year.) When G did this, whatever critter it was spent time with him, and G dictated a cute little, SHORT message to me about how much he enjoyed having the plush animal with him, which I wrote in the accompanying traveling notebook.
I open the Mickey Mouse notebook to find these elaborate letters from Mickey Mouse to the class. In each one, Mickey (the parent!) is documenting every godforsaken moment that he spent with the child ALL WEEK LONG and with PICTURES attached! Dear lord, it almost sent me over the edge. I no longer wanted to kiss the teacher, but wanted to scream, “I thought you understood my life!!! Why would you do such a thing to me?” I felt completely betrayed.
You know you have those days/weeks/months where the slightest little thing added to your load makes you fall apart? That straw and the camel’s back? The last block that makes the Jenga tower crash? Well Mickey was the straw and the block for me.
I don’t like to have the kids’ school projects or fundraisers hanging over my head. I place my fundraiser order right away to be done (and yes, I had to do that this week, too) and check things off my list as soon as possible. So we immediately went out into the back yard for a photo session and checked that off the list, but that notebook sat on my desk staring me in the face all week. I had to REMEMBER it and REMEMBER everything Mickey did with E. What responsibility!
Thursday night came, and I could not WAIT to write that letter and be done. I taped the pictures in, drafted the letter and crammed Mickey (who we managed not to LOSE all week. Hooray!) and the notebook back into the little red bag as quickly as I could.

Done. Checked off the list. Mickey better only visit once a year.
My collage of Mickey & E's backyard adventures