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Archives for June 2015

The First 5 Minutes of Naptime…

…through the eyes of a monitor that switches rooms every 10 seconds.

I arrive downstairs, make myself a water and switch on the monitor.

This is what I see:

Noah: Singing/chanting/rapping a song in gibberish.

Sophia: Saying, “We’re going to Cleveland today.” (We are not. Not for two more days, anyways.)

Max: Sucking on hand.

Noah: Still singing. (What is this song, by the way? Eminem?? I really need to censor my music in the minivan.)

Noah

Noah

Sophia: Saying, “We go to Cleveland a lot.” (This is true.)

Noah: Drumming on bed rails.

Max: Still sucking. (Kid loves his hands.)

Sophia: Saying, “We go to Cleveland. That’s very silly.” (Is it? Why?)

Max: Goes quiet and still.

Noah: Yelling, “I have the hiccups!” (He has them during at least three naps a week.)

Sophia: Saying, “NathanIMG_4097 (her cousin in Cleveland) gonna say ‘hi’ to me.” (That one makes me smile.)

Max: Arms up, sound asleep.

Noah: Looking for his water cup to cure his hiccups. Downstairs.

Sophia: Saying, “That’ll be so, so, so AWESOME!”

Max: Sleeping.

Noah: Saying, “I tripped” after a loud thud and, through tears, climbing back upstairs and into his room. (I promise that I checked on him, and he was fine.)

Sophia

Sophia

Sophia: Yelling, “I’ll help you in a second, Noah! Oh, no, I can’t… .” (Hahahaha)

Max: Still sleeping. (Against all odds.)

Noah: Climbing back into bed.

Sophia: Saying, “I think Noah needs something. Something that he likes… .”

Max: Breathing deeply.

Noah: Twirling his lovey, Winnie the Pooh. (See, I told you he was fine.)

Sophia: Singing/chanting, “Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine.” (Apparently, Sophia couldn’t find something to give to Noah that she was willing to share.)

Max: Soundlessly waving to the sound machine.

Noah: Twirling.

Sophia: Saying “I, Sophia,” and then laughing. (Perhaps a little too hard.)

Max: Grunting.

Noah: Standing in bed looking around.

Max

Max

Sophia: Switching from a high-pitched voice to a growl, acting out some sort of scene.

Max: Moving.

Noah: Looking for something in his room and out of his bed.

Sophia: Goes quiet and still.

And Max starts to stir.

Yep. That’s about right. Oh, and if we’re counting? Sophia totally won this round.

Summers are Overrated

Yeah. I said it.

Summers aren’t all what they’re cracked up to be.

Especially summers with toddlers.

IMG_4399Don’t get me wrong. There are some wonderful things that happen in the summer: grilling and eating outdoors, vacations, no early wake-ups for school, packed lunches at parks, fresh fruits and veggies, isolated thunderstorms, cousin playdates outside of the house.

But for the most part, summers are just too much. Too much work. Too much humidity. And too much guilt.

Here are my top eight reasons why summers are overrated:

  1. It’s hot. And from my own personal, super-fun experience, when kids get hot, they get whiny. They get clingy. And they really get on my nerves. The last thing you want when you’re hot and sweaty is to have a hot, sweaty kid whining for you to pick them up.
  1. Summer sun isn’t a joke. Especially if you have skin like my kids and I do. Judging by my freckles, my kids have some fair skin in their genes. Fair and sensitive skin is not the summer sun’s best friend. Unless you are equipped with some top-notch, extra-sensitive, mineral-based sunscreen that’s SPF 98, good luck!IMG_2979
  1. It’s buggy. See the picture of my poor Sophia from last summer after being attacked by a few mosquitos. Need I say more?
  1. It requires a lot of work and a whole lot of stuff. You can’t just run to the pool for an hour or so at the drop of a hat. It requires serious planning and organization. You need to pack suits, swim diapers, puddle jumpers, sunscreen, towels, dry clothes, toys, etc. And don’t get me started about unpacking when you get home. With your hot, whiny, clingy kids. Who want you to carry them.
  1. The grass needs to be cut. There is nothing that bums me out more as a stay-at-home mom in IMG_4697the summer than when the weekend comes and all I’m thinking of is the help I’m going to get from my husband and then he says the dreaded words: “I need to get the grass cut at some point.” AHHH! Oh, and I can’t even bring myself to think about yard work… Let’s just say I can’t wait for my kids to get old enough to actually help with the mulch, instead of just looking cute with gardening gloves on
  1. Bathing suits. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve seen the blogs about being proud of your body, owning your imperfections and all that jazz. And believe me, I’ve loved them and admired the women writing them. But when it comes down to it, it’s still me in a bathing suit. And I have to deal with that every single time I pull the dreaded suit out. Not to mention all the fun positions you are forced into while dealing with kids. There is no graceful way to pull your child out of his car seat or pick a crying child off the ground while wearing your bathing suit. It just isn’t a pretty sight, no matter who you are.
  1. The days IMG_4340are longer. I love my kids. I do. And I actually really love summer evenings. They’re cooler, no sunscreen is required, and Adam is home. If it weren’t for the bugs, they’d be perfect. But these lovely, almost-perfect evenings mean the kids go to bed a whole hour or so later than usual. And an hour or so later really cuts into that quality alone or married time. By the time the kids are finally in bed, the day is over and all I want to do is collapse in my bed. Productivity takes a real hit in the summer.
  1. It brings on some serious guilt. I swear, on rainy summer days, I literally sigh with relief at the breakfast table. A rainy day means I’m off the hook for fun outdoor activities. When I wake and the sun is shining its beautiful light, the grass is glistening with dew and the birds are singing, I instantly feel the pressure to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING outdoors. And based on a number of the aforementioned things that make summer not so great, sometimes I don’t want to bask in the summer sun. But I feel like I’d better not take those beautiful days for granted. It’s quite the conundrum.

Now, in all honeIMG_4745sty, about 90 percent of the time, I really love summer. The hard parts are mere blips in the radar when I look back on the day. The memorable moments are so sweet among the sunscreen, bugspray, sweat and insecurities that make up summer.

Like when you glance over and see your oldest child halfway up a huge pine tree in your backyard, and you’re partly scared to death, and partly super proud of him.

Or when you watch him really get the hang of riding a bike.

And then there’s the sweet sight of your kids swinging next to each other and giggling about some inside joke.

IMG_4936And when popsicle juice is dripping all the way down to their elbows and they’re grinning like crazy with bright red lips.

Or that first time your baby gets in the pool and his rolls are out in all their glory. And then giving baby a bath afterwards, here are some bath tub recommendations by Baby iDesign.

It’s even memorable when your son runs up to the self-declared “pee bush” in the backyard and you unexpectedly see his naked, very white tushy in the sweet summer sun.

IMG_4943And there is nothing cuter than your kids in sunglasses and hats.

So, maybe summer isn’t overrated. Because as I finish this blog I started writing this afternoon, I find my mood has changed now that I’m writing these words at 10 at night. And on summer nights, when the kids are all in bed, the swimsuits are hung up to dry, the ceiling fan is blowing cool air on my very tired (but a good tired) self, these days seem really sweet. Hard, but very sweet.IMG_4693

Ok, I guess I like summer a lot. Or maybe I hate it. It just depends on when you ask me.

 

What Comes After Why

“Leave that bush alone, Brayden.” 

“Why?”

“I just saw three bees fly out of it. I don’t want you to get stung.”

“Why do bees sting?”

“To protect themselves if they think they’re being attacked.”

“Why would they think they were being attacked?”

“If you swat at them or go stomping into a bush where they’re looking for flowers, they might think you were attacking them.”

“Why do they look for flowers?”

(In lieu of answering, at this point I usually announce there will be no more questions and try to change the subject.)

Brayden asks a lot of questions. Always has. And most of his questions begin with “why.” Overall, it’s a good thing. I love that he loves to learn, and I love that he’s found such an easy way to do it. Ask a question, get an answer. Realize the answer leads to more questions, and get more answers by asking them. Simple enough.

If I had more patience, Brayden would probably know more than the first few books in the Encyclopedia Britannica set by now. (Do those still exist?)

Then Anna came along.

“Don’t jump off the couch, Anna.”

“What?”

“Don’t jump off the couch.”

Or:

IMG_0509“Do you remember when we met Cinderella and ate dinner at her castle?”

“What?”

“When we went to Disney World and met Cinderella and ate at her castle. Do you remember?”

“What dinner was it?”

Or, my personal favorite:

“Do you know who’s my favorite little girl?”

“What’s a favorite little girl?”

(You might think she’s hard of hearing, but she’s not. We had her tested.)

I think the best, though, is when Brayden gets in on the action:

Me: “OK, guys, we’re going to leave the pool and stop at the library on our way home to get some books.

Anna: “What?”IMG_0511

Me: “We’re leaving the pool and stopping at the library.”

Brayden: “Why?”

Me: “To get some books.”

Brayden: “Why are we getting books?”

Me: “Because I thought you might like them to read.”

Anna: “What books?”

Me: “Whichever books you want. You can choose.”

Brayden: “Why aren’t you going to pick, Mom?”

Me: “Because I thought you would like to pick out your own books.”

Brayden: “Why aren’t you getting a book?”

Me: “I’ll pick out my own book after you pick out your books.”

Brayden: “Why not first?”

Me: “I don’t know! Do you want me to go first? I can go first and pick out a book. I’d be happy to do that.”

Anna: “What book?”

Why I don’t turn the car around and head for home – or a bar – after some of these conversations is beyond me.

 

The ‘Tude, the Mood and the Max

Hello out there, cyber world!

Sisters have taken quite the leave of absence from the old blogging universe, but I am ready to get back to it!

So, to catch you up, I am currently the mother to a boy named Noah who will be 4 in about one week, a girl, Sophia, who is 2 and a half years old, and a new little guy named Max, who is 2 months old.IMG_4374

Life is hectic but, for the most part, really lovely.

But let’s cut to the chase. Those three little people are more than just their ages. They are the ‘tude, the mood, and the… well, Max. And one of these little personalities may just send me to the old folk’s home early.

Max, to be fair, has been a really sweet baby. Not quite the sleeper that Sophia was (that girl was born to sleep), but as 2 month olds go, I cannot complain. He eats well, sleeps large chunks at night, and is, for the most part, a happy little guy. OK, Max, today, June 11, 2015, you get a pass. I will not blame you for any gray hairs… today.

IMG_0031Oh, but Noah and Sophia, we have to talk. I am at a loss!

Noah is like a hormonal teenager. I cannot keep up with his mood swings. He’s either laughing like a hysterical maniac or crying like one. He’s high, he’s low and he’s never just in between. He’s on this emotional roller coaster, and he keeps dragging me in the seat next to him. The problem is: I’m just never able to buckle my seat belt before it takes off.

This boy who before the age of 3 was the most amicable, good-natured, even-keeled kid, has turned into someone I fear. Not because he’s angry or aggressive. No, no. He’s just one wrong look away from a complete meltdown.

I seriously walk on eggshells around him. I try to keep my voice calm and pleasant even when he’s in trouble because I normally don’t have the energy to discipline an emotionally distressed little boy AND talk him off the ledge.

My sister tells me her 3 year old is acting dramatic, too, and while I take solace in that fact, my mom also tells me that I was exactly the same way as a child, and it took me a long, LONG time to grow out of it.

So, there’s that.

And then there’s my girl, Sophia.

Or, as I call her, Ms. ‘Tude.

I walk on eggshells around this one, too. Only for totally different reasons. I just can’t trust her. The girl is manipulative and, at this point, seems to be lacking the empathetic, remorseful gene. Don’t get me wrong. She loves and she loves hard. She loves her family, especially Max. In fact, she loves Max a little too much. She’s always in his face, always kissing and touching him. She even will stop in the middle of her own little tantrums to say, “Hi, little baby,” as she caresses any part of him she can reach. It’d be hilarious if it weren’t so NOT funny.

The girl is throwing me for a loop. I’ve gotten used to my little Noah. Well, up until this past year. I am familiar with the rule followers, those with an innate fear of adults, and those who cry when they’re in trouble. I am a stranger to the kids who think, “Is she looking over here?”, “I wonder if she’ll follow through with that threat?” and “Trouble? Ah, who cares!”IMG_4115

Oh, Sophia cries all right, but I’m starting to suspect that behind most of her tears is manipulation, topped off with a little scheming. Most of the time, she’s a suspicious millisecond late to begin the crying – as in she quickly assesses the situation to see if she can get anything out of shedding some tears. If she can get an extra hug, treat, Band-Aid, or someone else yelled at, she’ll go for the all-out wail. If she sees no plus side to tears, she’ll shake it off.

I’ve got to say, I don’t like that little personality feature one bit.

And she never cries when she’s in trouble, unlike her “sensi”-brother. (He’s totally J.D. from “Scrubs”). No, no. She’ll merrily skip to her time-out corner, that spot that Noah DREADS, cheerily call out, “Start counting!”

Yikes.

My mom says that I was a lot like her, too, when I was little. Only my mom calls it “spunky.” I guess the rose-colored glasses are a gift when you become a grandmother. ‘Cause this girl isn’t just “spunky.”

So, these two extremely different kids have got me thinking about the whole nature vs. nurture phenomenon. On the one hand, they have been blessed (blessed?) with a few of my fun (fun?) qualities and, on the other hand, they are SO, SO different. Is there really even a battle between nature vs. nurture or are these two actually friends who juIMG_4305st add whatever qualities they deem fit (or entertaining)?

I shudder to think about what fun-loving combination will be worked out for my happy little Max. I’m sure there’s some fun stuff left from Adam and me that will show its ugly (UGLY!) face sooner or later.

For now, though, I will find peace in one thought: Even though I surely don’t know what to expect or how to handle these darling, newly developed personalities (although I will continue to work on that), these two sure know how to handle each other. They are truly BEST FRIENDS. They just GET each other.

Just another reason I thank God for siblings. They’ll always have each other when I just can’t stand them.

Inching Toward Joy

I held my breath and shifted in my seat. The girl was talking to Anna again. I watched as the older girl with the swinging ponytail and black leotard jabbed at the air with her finger, indicating Anna should get out of her way. Again.

Anna stared at the girl and retreated on the balance beam a bit, visibly shrinking, mouth closed tight. I swung my foot back and forth on the cold bleacher where I could only watch from afar and wish that I could will my only daughter courage, and more than a little confidence.

IMG_0453It was Anna’s third gymnastics class. She loved it. She ran, she somersaulted, she jumped, she slid, and she smiled. Oh, she smiled. For a girl who’s only recently begun to smile more often than frown, watching Anna’s joy at gymnastics has been one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. So why was she letting this girl get her down?

I looked across the gym at Brayden, running, jumping and playing with his own class of similarly aged boys. Brayden’s dimpled grin and sweat-mopped brow were on full display as he grabbed a rope and launched himself – “American Ninja Warrior”-style – from one block to another. Sticking the landing, he laughed and clapped hands with another boy standing nearby. He probably didn’t even know his name.

What was the difference, I thought from my perch on the other side of the glass partition. How can he be so unshackled and devil-may-care, so sure that these other boys are friends? I thought back to my own childhood, my own painful shyness in which one less-than-completely-kind word could leave me shattered. I knew Anna came by her timidity honestly, but what could I do to help her?

IMG_0435If only I could harness Brayden’s sociability, I thought. If only I could show her how much better the coming years would be for her if she could face them head-on and fearless. That there’s really nothing to fear. If you believe the people around you are your friends, that’s exactly what they’ll be.

It took me years, of course, to come to that realization myself. Years of self-doubt that crippled me. I would do anything in my power to take away those years for Anna and replace them with years filled with the joy she’s starting to learn from only three classes of gymnastics.

How can I help her?

Fight through it, Anna, I urged from my place at the sidelines, frustrated that my place will increasingly be at the sidelines for Anna in social situations such as these. Don’t let her take your joy.

Slowly, Anna started inching forward again, still not responding to the girl with the swinging ponytail, but moving forward nonetheless. I watched my daughter’s focus, one inch at a time, and I knew her path ahead wasn’t going to be an easy one, but I finally felt able to exhale.