Sunday, September 23, 2012

This is not good-bye...

It's been a long time coming.

More than three years ago my life was changed for the better by a tiny little plus sign on a test.  During my Claire pregnancy I was working for a law firm that was run by a pile of worthless jerks.  So, when I went on bed rest, they fired me.  "It's not that you aren't a good attorney," they said.  "We think you're great!  It's just that you're pregnant."  ".........(silence)" I said, in response.  We referred to it as medical leave for all intents and purposes, but what had really happened was that they were too stupid to run a successful law firm, but they were smart enough to know that there is this tiny little loophole when it comes to firing pregnant chicks just because they're pregnant.  It says they have to have more than a handful of employees.  They didn't.  I used to be really angry about the whole situation, but now I'm really grateful.  Sadly, the firm closed shortly after they let me go...coincidence? 

So, I went on bed rest and unemployment.  It sucked.  Shortly thereafter I found a great job teaching online.  I just spent the last 2+ years of my life staying home with my babies.  I won't lie, it hasn't been sunshine and roses the whole time.

Now, on the eve of my re-entry into the working world outside my home I am full of emotions.

I'm excited.  I have a big kid corporate job now.  I get to wear all those suits and heels that have been taking up space in my closet. I'll be retiring my yoga pants and using them only for their intended purpose(yoga, not trips to Target, who knew?).

I'm scared.  What if they don't like me?  What if I miss my train?  What if I totally suck at this job?  Clearly this portion is just me being irrational and dramatic.

I'm happy.  I am really looking forward to getting back out there and working with other adults.

Mostly, though, I'm sad.  I am going to miss my daughters so much I can hardly type this through tears.  Tonight I rocked Zora to sleep and told her we would still be best friends.  I kissed Claire on the head and her tiny plea for "more kisses, Mommy," were enough to rip my heart right out.  I'm so sad that I won't be the one picking Claire up to hear about her day at school.  She's always so excited to sing her new songs with me and if I don't sing it correctly she says, "no mommy! No singing!"  I'm sad that when Zora wakes up from her nap, it won't be me that scoops her up and cuddles her while she stretches her little chubby legs.  I'm sad that they probably won't remember these years that I spent at home with them.

These feelings are countered by my knowledge that I am showing them with my actions and not just my words that they can do and be anything.  That they must work hard and that it won't always be easy and fun.  Now, I'm not saying that you, as a mom or dad, can't show your children the same thing through staying home, I'm saying that for me, this is how I am showing my children. 

So, through the tears, I'm taking this first step towards my goals.  But, I know that every step I take tomorrow will be with my girls in my heart.  They are my biggest motivation to achieve my own goals so that I can help them achieve their own, someday. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dear Claire and Zora,

At the risk of sounding like a country song, I wanted to share with you a few of my hopes and wishes for my daughters.  I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  So, what better place to get it out of my head!

These are mostly just moments when I say to myself, "Man, I really hope Claire and Zora don't do _____."

Here goes:

I hope I don't impose my dislike for things on them.  I didn't like cilantro.  I had the idea that it was gross.  I told people that I didn't like cilantro.  Then I actually ate something with cilantro in it and now I love it.  Can't get enough cilantro.  I didn't like it because a member of my family who shall remain nameless said she didn't like it.  It turns out that she does like it and her dislike of it was based on someone else's dislike of it.  See how this happens people?  I also love brussel sprouts.

I hope that they stand up for others.  Yesterday I was talking with the BFF about my mistrust of Vienna sausages.  They just freak me out.  They might be delicious but they're so off-putting with their gelatinous goo and paleness.  Plus there was a girl that I went to elementary school with who ate them at lunch.  She was overweight as a child and through high school.  People made fun of her.  In hindsight it was awful.  The only thing I know about this girl is what she looked like and what she ate at lunch.  I regret that.  I hope my children don't have the same regrets. 

I hope they never equate self-worth with appearance.  I've talked about this a lot in this blog.  But it might be one of my sincerest hopes.  This country is out of hand.  Little girls don't dress like little girls anymore.  They dress like trussed up ponies to be put on parade.  We are robbing them of a time in their lives when they shouldn't be worrying about being pretty or what brand their jeans are.  I have to say, and I apologize if you're included in this but it has to be said, I was sickened by some of the back-to-school outfits I saw on my Facebook feed.  Why parents?  Why are you dressing your child in something strapless?  Why are you putting them in something that has spaghetti straps so that I, and the rest of FB, can see at least one of your precious daughter's nipples. (I wish I was joking on this one)  Damn it I know tiny versions of grown-up clothes are cute.  But so are pandas and they'll attack the shit out of you given the opportunity.  My point?  Just because it's "cute" doesn't mean it's appropriate.  Why do we have to make our girls look so "sassy" all the time?  Can't they just look like little girls?  Put them in something that they can run and climb and jump in.  What's that you say?  Your daughter picks her own clothes and you can't do anything about it?  Ah, you're right...oh, wait, nope you're the parent.  And seriously, if I see another sassy/sexy pout on a little girl, I'm going to lose my mind.  Sick.

I hope they don't run for student council.  Weird, right?  I think student council is awful.  It's purely a popularity contest.  Maybe things have changed, but at my school that's all it was.  The winners weren't selected because they were good at something(I'm sure they all were but that's not why they were chosen).  They didn't really even do anything for the students. I think they just got to get out of school every once in awhile.  They certainly weren't out there advocating for a cause.  Frankly, some of them weren't even that nice.  Thankfully, later in life, popularity stops being a measure of worth, unless you're running for office.  I hope they don't do that either, honestly.

I hope they choose their affiliations based on their own ideas.  I don't want my girls to pick a side because Rob and I are on it, whether it be politics, religion, or otherwise.  I want them to go out and explore their world and then make their choices based on that exploration.

I hope that they are bold.  My sister and I suffer from an affliction.  We blame our mother.  Yes, mom, we blame you.  We are really weird about calling people.  Not friends or family but anything else, we get anxiety.  My mom was the same way and that's where we get it.  (No, you didn't do it on purpose mom, yes, we love you)  For instance, calling and ordering pizza.  This was a task that was delegated to us at an early age because Mom just didn't want to do.  I think it's her middle child-ness.  Now, as an adult, I cringe when I need to call a student, the Chinese place we order from, my insurance company, or anyone at all.  I just don't want to do it.  I get that weird topsy-turvy feeling in my tummy.  I think it's a form of social anxiety, but only as it relates to phones.  At any rate, I'm not handing this one down to my children.

I hope they do not procrastinate.  When I was in school I put things off until the last minute.  It was silly and pointless and generally made me more stressed and more tired.  Now, as an adult, I am much better with my time.  I know kids have to learn things the hard way, but this lesson, I just want them to skip.

I think I'll end my list there for now and maybe continue it in a later blog.  To be continued...right Sarah?

Well, Claire is officially television obsessed again.  She cries and melts when she doesn't get her daily dose of Mickey Mouse.  It's an addiction and we're about to have an intervention...with Daddy.  Like the sucker that he is, he gives in.  Last night I came home from the gym to find my children eating pancakes for dinner (eh-hem) and glued to The Letter Factory.  I like this particular factory, but Claire had already gotten to watch her one episode of Super Why so she was supposed to be on TV hiatus.  I think we may need to go cold turkey again.  I'll keep you posted.  I smell mutiny. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Zora's Bee Day Party!

Somehow a year has passed since we met our precious Zora Robin.  I can hardly believe that our baby isn't really a baby anymore.  It makes me excited and heartbroken all at the same time.

Over these last 12 months she's grown in so many ways.  She's gotten taller, smarter, funnier, happier, so many things in such a short time.  

I thought I'd share her first party with you because I found some great deals and even saved some money here and there. I'm actually pretty proud of myself because I did almost every bit with my own hands(and the hands of my family).  I even recycled.
 
We decided to celebrate Miss B's big 1st birthday with a "Bee Day" party.  She earned her nickname, "B," when we introduced her to Claire.  Claire had a knack for only saying the hard "ee" sounds of words for a long time.  So, kitty was "T" and baby was "B" and so on.  Claire had always had the very proper title of Miss Bear and so Zora was promptly dubbed Miss Baby or Miss B.  That name evolved or devolved rather into B-B, Biddley B(my husband is weird, who knows), and a few others I can't recall.  Claire had a ladybug 1st birthday so it seemed only fitting that Zora have a bug-theme as well.

Thank God for Pinterest.  After spending several months compiling a lovely pinboard, I was ready to get crafting.

The invitations were pale yellow checked paper with a solid yellow overlay that I printed on my own printer.  It's actually not that hard to set your margins, paper-size, and the like and print your own invites.  I think I spent a total of one whole dollar on the invites.  I don't count that I bought a snazzy paper cutter to make them because I'll use it a lot.  Sarah should be very proud of me for breaking down and buying my own after so many hours spent sitting at her dining table using hers.
 
They read:  "Buzz on over for some fun.  Our Sweet Little Bee is turning 1!  Join us for Zora's Bee Day, (date, time, place)  RSVP to the Queen Bee."  I googled and found this language on other invites and sort of compiled my own.

I had seen several table-scapes on Pinterest that gave me some great ideas for banners and such.  I purchased a few sheets of scrapbooking paper in the same color of pale yellow but with varied patterns, i.e. polka dots, checks, etc.  I then printed out letters in the size and font I wanted(in light gray to save ink), taped them to the paper and cut them out.  I didn't bother cutting them out before putting them on the paper, why cut twice?  Then, I used my paper cutter to make triangles out of paper bags.  My sister is an avid Whole Foods shopper and never uses her paper bags.  I had her save them from recycling for me.  I think I used two total.  I used a hole-punch to punch two holes in the tops of each triangle then threaded yellow ribbon through.  
 Luckily, my brother-in-law has a green thumb and a love of all things floral (except maybe couches and shirts, I'm sure he draws the line somewhere).  He picked up some lovely yellow and white flowers and my sister arranged them in varying vessels.  I found some adorable yellow and stainless little buckets at Target in the dollar bins and they worked perfectly.  Thanks to my pinning addiction, I also made a few yellow and white tissue paper flower balls to hand from the ceiling.  Those were a royal pain in my ass and I don't recommend them unless you like to be frustrated and yell at tissue paper.  I really don't know how these people make them look like they do in their pictures because I followed the directions to the letter and ended up with some very lovely balls of crumpled tissue paper.
 I found a great bee fabric at Hobby Lobby that was on sale 30%.  I purchased two yards and ended up cutting it length-wise and using half for a table runner and making the other half into two pillow covers.  They looked great on the black sofa and were easy to make since I basically wrapped the pillows like gifts and used small safety pins to secure them.  They only needed to last two hours and they did their job well.
We served a relatively easy menu from the standpoint that not much was cooked.  We had tea sandwiches; pimento and cheese, peanut butter and jelly(I made sure none of the attendees were allergic), and classic cucumber.  We even cut off the crusts.  My sister and mother dipped pretzel rods in yellow-tinted white chocolate and then striped them with dark chocolate.  We had fruit and veggies, chips and dip, and a cheese platter.  Zora's first cupcake was a banana cupcake with peanut butter buttercream frosting with a Hershey's Hug in the center.  They were decorated like bee hives so we needed something for height.  I found some little candy bees at Hobby Lobby that we put on the hives.  If you didn't like cupcakes we also had lemon cheesecake bars striped with dark chocolate.

For favors I purchased headbands at the dollar store(six for a dollar), black pipe cleaners, and black puff balls and made my own bee antennae.  That probably took the least amount of time of any of the projects.  The kids and adults enjoyed them.  The guests also received a little terracotta pot with a bag of flower seeds and a note that said, "Bees love flowers because they're sweet like you.  Thanks for coming to my birthday party."

 I wanted to keep with the bee theme and the only other thing I could think of was giving out honey, so I went with flowers.  I printed the little notes on my computer on regular white paper, cut them out and used left-over paper from the invites make them look fancy.  I hope the guests liked them and I hope their flowers grow.   

Our serving dishes were primarily white and we used a few rugged-looking cutting boards for cheeses and the cupcakes.  I had intended to make the cupcake stand that was featured on Squash Blossom Babies but after everything else, I just didn't have time.
 

 We kept the kids entertained with a giant inflatable pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and also put together two sets of pop-up tunnels(Rob calls them the Viet Cong tunnels).  I even climbed through a few times.

Overall, I think they party was a success and more importantly, Zora was happy all day.  She even got to wear a little dress with bees on it that I found for 60% off at Kohl's on a whim.  

I can't wait until Claire's birthday, but I guess I'd better get pinning...it's only 6 months away.

Here's the totals:

Invites:  $1 for the paper ($3 for the glue dots I had from a previous project and I also had envelopes left over from Claire's birthday that I paid $1 for 12)

Banner:  $2 for the paper, $2 for the ribbon, $0 for the paper sacks

Decorations:  $4 for metal buckets, $4 for tissue paper, $3 for fabric (1/2 made into pillow covers, 1/2 used as a table runner)

Favors:  $2 for headbands, $3 for pipe cleaners and puff balls, $4 for two packs of 6 pots

So, if you don't count food costs we spent $25 on supplies for the party.  Not too bad.

Friday, August 3, 2012

You're Hired!

Well, hell hath frozen over.  If by hell you mean Texas in August and if by frozen over you mean a chilly office in a North Dallas highrise...

Momma got a job.  Yep.

So here comes the mixed emotions.  I'm really excited to get back into the workplace.  Rob and I always assumed that I would stay home with Zora until she was 1 and then go back to work outside of the home.  Of course he said a few nights ago that he actually hoped I would stay home with her until age 2...now you tell me.

This job is a perfect transition back into the wilds of corporate America.  It's at a law firm and it's a writing position.  So, I'll be getting paid to do what I largely do for free.  I won't be practicing law, yet.  I say yet because I'm still on the fence if that's something I'm looking to start doing here in Texas. 

Yesterday when I arrived home from my interview I was basking in the joy of having a job offered to me on the spot.  Then I heard a tiny emanating whimper from Zora's room.  She was waking up from her afternoon nap and ready to be extracted from her crib confines. 

When I saw those little pink cheeks, big blue eyes, and tiny hands-one reaching for me, one holding on to Miss Monkey-I just lost it.  I scooped her up and apologized for leaving her, even though I hadn't.  I told her that I love her and that I was so grateful for the year that we had spent together.  I assured her that my going back to work wasn't because I don't like spending time with her.  I sobbed, "Mommy loves you so much. We'll still hang out all the time. I promise." 

It was awful.

We played together for almost an hour before Claire woke up from her nap.  She was distraught because Daddy had picked her up from school instead of Mommy.  If I asked her about her day at school she cried and said, "Mommy not coming. Daddy pick me up." 

Okay kids, you're making your point. 

So we spent the afternoon making up for hugs that will be missed, having giggles that I won't be here to hear, and generally enjoying each moment.

Look, I know they'll both be fine.  Claire will get used to going to school all day and Zora, well, as long as whomever is watching her feeds her regularly and makes sure she has Miss Monkey, she'll be fine.  I know all the things.  They'll be fine.  They'll get used to it.  They'll even like it.  No one needs to tell me these things, in fact, don't patronize me.  I know all of these things, but I don't have to like it. 

So, starting in a few weeks, I will be working outside of my home.  I'm not sure my emotions will ever be anything but mixed and I hope that I will look back on this decision and mark it down as a good one.  We shall see.



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Coffee With a Side of Reality

Since moving to Texas I've been lucky to make a few new friends.  Some have been through my sister, some have been on my own.  I'm pretty proud of myself to be able to make new friends at this age, because sometimes, it's not easy.

One of my new friends is the mother of a classmate of Claire.  In addition to her Claire-age child, she also has a son who is just one month and a handful of days younger than Zora.  She's super nice and very intelligent.  It's always nice to chat with her when we drop off the kids at school, so I was obliged to accept when she invited me to coffee.

We met at Starbucks and found a nice set of comfy chairs situated around a low table for the babies to walk around/destroy.

Sidebar:
Dear patrons of Starbucks,
This is a coffee shop, not a library.  My child does not have to be quiet.  If you want quiet go buy some hipster giant headphones and put some anti-establishment stickers on them.  But, also realize that you can't get more establishment than Starbucks.  You are not ironic in the punk rock kind of way.  Get over yourself.  Thanks.

My friend and I landed on the predictable topic of child development.  It was all me, as it usually is.  I just feel this compulsion to talk about how everyone's kid is doing.  Not because I want to take anything away from anyone as far as kudos go, but because I need reassurance that my children are doing okay.  Even though I have two children, I consider myself a first-time mom because Claire isn't old enough to have taught us what we need to know to raise Zora without a few questions.  We're learning as we go here people.

So, anyway, my friend did her masters work in the area of child development(I know it was actually called something else, but I can't remember now).  She has many friends who are in the field.  A lot of these women work in the field because they have children with special needs.  I was fascinated by what she was saying because now I have a virtual expert in my presence.  What she said though, stopped me in my tracks and shifted my focus.

She said that for her to share her children's milestones, like walking and talking, was unfair to many of her friends.  While they would of course be happy and proud for her and share in her excitement, some of them would never have those milestones.  Their child might never speak a single word, let alone "mommy" or "I love you."  They might never get to have that hug that comes at the end of the run down the hallway.  That's not to devalue what they will experience, but it puts life in perspective, at least for me.

It's another one of those moments we are given from time to time that bring you back to reality.  I say "given" because I think these moments and the people that share them with you are a gift.  A gift sent to remind you that even the smallest thing is important when it comes to raising kids.  The smiles and giggles, the hugs and kisses, the moments.  Those are what matter.  The ABCs and 123s?  They have their place and I couldn't be prouder of Claire and Zora when they learn something new.

There's a middle ground, though, right?  There's something between enjoying every second and not caring and obsessing over achievement?  I'm working to find that balance.  I suppose it depends on how you measure success.  Today success for us equals a baby who took two steps in a row and a big girl who decided it's "unda-weaws" from now on...good luck to her teachers today...tomorrow success might be a new food sampled or a new song learned.  I like this success.

    

Friday, July 13, 2012

Two in One Week? Don't Get Used to It

I wanted to update everyone since I received so many helpful comments yesterday after the Pushing Incident of 2012. 

Claire had a great day today.  She didn't push a single child at school.  I was so proud, I can't tell you.  This morning Rob and I spent most of breakfast talking to her about sharing and taking turns.  We also played with her laptop and practiced sharing and turn-taking.  I know we're not out of the proverbial woods on this, but it sure was nice to hear she had a great day.

On another note, I've been wanting to share this with you all for awhile but I always forget to get it out of Claire's room before nap (when I blog).

Here's the text of my favorite book to read to my girls.  It's called Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You. (BTW this is not a reprint, it's a quote)

"I wanted you more than you ever will know,
so I sent love to follow wherever you go.

"It's high as you wish it.  It's quick as an elf.
You'll never outgrow it...it stretches itself.

"So climb any mountain...climb up to the sky!
My love will find you.  My love can fly!

"Make a big splash!  Go out on a limb!
My love will find you.  My love can swim!

"It never gets lost, never fades, never ends...
if you're working...or playing...or sitting with friends.

"You can dance 'til you're dizzy...paint 'til you're blue...
There's no place, not one, that my love can't find you.

"And if someday you're lonely,
or someday you're sad,
or you strike out at baseball,
or think you've been bad...
just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair.
That's me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.

"In the green of the grass...in the smell of the sea...
in the clouds floating by...at the top of a tree...
in the sound crickets make at the end of the day...
'You are loved.  You are loved.  You are loved,' they all say.

"My love is so high, and so wide and so deep,
it's always right there, even when you're asleep.

"So hold your head high and don't be afraid
to march to the front of your own parade.

"If you're still my small babe or you're all the way grown,
my promise to you is you're never alone.

"You are my angel, my darling, my star...
and my love will find you, wherever you are."

Tillman, N., (2010). Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You.  New York:  Feiwel and Friends

I couldn't have said it better myself.  Now go buy this book because the pictures are amazing and you will tear up every time you read it to your children. 




Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life Lesson: When to ask for advice

I need some advice.  Like actual advice.  Like don't sugar-coat this advice.

Today when I arrived to pick up Claire, I was greeted by an Incident Report.  She had pushed and scratched two children. 

As this was explained to me several feelings washed over me.  First, embarrassment.  Second, sadness. Third, fear.  I was embarrassed because it seems like this is something I should be able to deal with.  I shouldn't have the kid that pushes people.  I'm not violent.  My husband isn't violent.  I felt like a failure as a parent.  I was sad because I don't want Claire to be marked by teachers and other parents as "that kid" and become the outcast.  I don't want people to think that she's anything other than the loving, caring, friendly kid that she is.  I was afraid because what if this is an emotional problem that is going to only get more difficult from here?  Do I need to have her evaluated?  What do I do?

On the way home, I cried on the phone to my husband who is out of town on business this week.  I wanted him to give me the answers.  I wanted someone to tell me, "oh, all you have to do is _____."  This is not reality.

When we pulled into the garage, I turned to Claire, sitting in her seat enjoying her bunny crackers, and said with tears streaming down my face, "it makes Mommy sad when you hurt people at school."  She said, in response, "Mommy crying?"  Then we talked about how hands don't hurt, they help and that we give hugs and kisses with hands.  She will tell you adamantly, "No pushing!  No scratching!"  She'll even show you what to do with hands.  She'll stroke the baby's back and say, "sweet hands." 

So, how do I solve this Rubik's Cub of child development?  I've done my research, I know this is normal 2-year-old behavior.  That doesn't mean I'm just going to stand by while she's becoming the class bully.

It broke my heart today to see her sitting at a table by herself eating her lunch because she was in trouble.  I don't want her to have another day like today.  I certainly don't want her to have a life of isolation.

We do "time out."  We re-direct.  We pay attention when she's playing with other kids (as much as possible) to try to catch the behavior before it starts.  But I'm not Super Mom.  I don't have psychic abilities and I can't predict how things will make her react. 



So, any suggestions are welcomed.  If any part of you just smiled a smug smile of congratulations because your kid never hit, pushed, or bit, get off my blog.  You're an asshole.

While writing this, Pusherman is playing in my head.  But it's not Curtis Mayfield singing it.  It's my brother-in-law, Ryan.  If you know him, he's now singing in your head, too.  You're welcome.

 


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kids These Days

I had a lengthy chat with my mom today.  She's at summer camp right now.  Okay, well she's a counselor at an archaeological dig/camp thingie in the 4 Corners region of Colorado.  She does it every year.  So, with the time difference, while her kids are in "class" we chat about the world and such.

Today we got on the subject of kids these days.  You know "kids these days."  Sadly, so many of them are what society years back referred to as "assholes."

Yep, I said it.  I called your kid an asshole.  Unless you're kid's not an asshole, in which case you're sitting there shaking your head in agreement.

Here's what I remember from my childhood:

When at someone's house, you do not ask for a drink, snack, etc, you wait until such things are offered.  If they are not offered, you get a swig of water out of the sink in the bathroom and wait until you leave to eat something.  (This rule applies to parents in that you do not take your children somewhere during mealtime and expect someone else to feed your kid.)

When you get in trouble at school, you do not blame it on the teacher or anyone else.  You listen to your teacher and parents and learn from your mistake. Even if that mistake was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This is a life lesson and may keep you out of jail when you get older and chargeable. You don't argue. When did kids decide it was okay to argue with their parents?   (This rule applies to parents in that if your child gets in trouble at school, you don't immediately question the teacher's authority. Remember back when people respected teachers? Let's go back to that.  Also, think of teachers like this:  would you operate on your self if you needed surgery?  No, you'd call a professional.  Would you represent yourself if you were charged with murder, No, you'd call a professional.  Teachers are professionals, too.  Let them do their job.)

The world does not revolve around you.  Sure you're special and all, but that doesn't mean special privileges.  You are one part of a larger family.  You are one student in a class of 27.  You have a role to play but you don't get to run the show.  When you decide that you "deserve" something, you stop actually working for it and start expecting it.  Don't do that.  You don't deserve anything.  When you work hard, you will see an appropriate return for your effort.  The world will not be presented to you on a silver platter.

Sometimes you're going to do something bad.  You're going to hit someone, you're going to push someone, you're going to act out.  You're a kid.  It happens.  You will not be coddled.  You will get into trouble.  No one will ask how you felt at the moment of the incident.  No one cares if you were tired, or hangry(hungry-angry), etc.  You will accept your punishment and learn from your mistake.  Excuses will not be made.  Mistakes are meant to be learned from, but if actions are constantly dismissed or justified, you can't learn.  Kids see the world in black and white.  Giving them gray areas just confuses them. So, pushing is always wrong even if you're tired.  Kicking is always wrong even if you need a snack. Etc. (I am actively working on this one with Claire.  It's so easy to say, well, she's really tired/hungry, whatever.  That doesn't make it okay.  It also means that I need to be a good enough parent to realize my child needs to go home and take a nap or go to bed.)

So, based on all of these things I remember from my childhood I'm trying to raise my girls to have a moral compass.  One that doesn't include caveats or exceptions.  We will teach them to love everyone, not just some people who look like us or love like us.  We will teach them that success is only achieved through hard work.  We will teach them that being polite is incredibly important to becoming a productive member of society.  We will also teach them to stand up for what the believe in, even if they are standing alone.  That one's pretty tough when popularity is so important.  So, we will teach them to value themselves in ways that are not measured by one's popularity.

I look back at the 1950s and think, yeah, I think I'd go back there if my kids could grow up like my parents did.  I'd even take the corsetted undergarments that women burned in 1965, just to buy a pair of Spanx in 2012.

They were simpler times.  I like simple.  I like the idea of families spending evenings on the porch, not in front of the TV.  I like the idea that if someone wanted to get in touch with you they could send a letter or phone you or (shock) go to your house and speak to you in person (weird, I know).  Patience was a virtue and a necessity.  Foods were still made with real ingredients and families enjoyed them together.  Sure, I may have a very rose-colored-glasses view of the era, but I don't know what's worse:  today's false gender and racial equality or 1950's very honest struggles with both.  I wasn't there.  All I know is that what I see now is unacceptable.

It has become apparent in my house where the root of the TV problem is stemming at this point.  His name is Daddy and he is obsessed with all things sports.  I'm contemplating an intervention.  Wish me luck.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Between a Rock and Job Place

So, I went for a job interview this week.  It was a great position and I hope I get it but it brought up a whole pile of things that I will now share with you...as my virtual family/strangers/stalkers.

When the lady called me to schedule the interview Claire decided at that moment to have a graham cracker-related meltdown of epic proportions.  It was amazing even by Claire standards.

See, I wasn't expecting a phone call for an interview because I had submitted my resume only minutes earlier and frankly, people usually aren't this interested in me.  So when I saw "unknown" show up on my phone I wondered what bill I'd neglected to pay or why DirecTV keeps bugging me to come back to them.

So as Claire screamed in the background, the lady tried to tell me from where she was calling and the nature of her call.  When she offered the interview I had to ask if I could call her back after securing childcare for Zora.  Luckily, my husband is a super star and can't wait for me to get back to work and out of pjs, so he urged me to go to the interview saying he'd be in charge of the girls.

Here's where it gets sticky:  I felt super self-conscious about telling this woman that I had to make sure I had a sitter.  First, it's not necessarily anyone's business.  Second, I'm applying for a job, that may or may not mean that I don't currently have one.  So yes, I might be staying at home with kids, dogs, Facebook, whatever.  I felt like it made me look bad in some way, even irresponsible, which is ridiculous.

When I got to the interview I chatted with the woman who had set up the interview.  She was the assistant to the gentleman who later interviewed me.  We made small talk and of course, Claire and Zora found their way into the conversation.  Then I felt self-conscious again.  What is going on here?  I love talking about my children.  I wanted to swallow the words back down my throat.

Finally, I got to sit down with the interviewer and I saw written on the top of my resume "call back, child care."  What does that mean?  Why is it note-worthy?  Or it is just a mental note that got written down?  Why am I worrying about this?

All of the sudden I didn't feel the swell of pride I usually do when I talk about my family.  I felt like it was something that I wanted to hide.  I didn't want to be Jesse Hayes, mom of two of the best kids on the planet and wife to one pretty kick-ass husband.  I wanted to be Jessemine Dobson-Hayes, attorney, professor, job-seeker(hopefully job-getter).  But the two weren't interchangeable.  It was a very bizarre feeling.

As the dust has settled around this interview I have gone between desperately wanting this job because it's amazing and not wanting to leave my babies.   Luckily, it's not been offered to me yet, so I haven't had to decide. 

I say luckily because part of me feels like I'm doing something wrong going back to work.  Which is odd because I have many, many friends who work and have kids and I don't think they're doing anything wrong, odd, or otherwise.  And luckily, because if it isn't offered to me then I don't have to decide.  It's so much easier to be acted upon than to act, yourself.

Honestly, I think it's all because I'll miss them.  I'll miss my crazy, hilarious, little lovies.  My brain translates that into some sort of guilt.

So there you have it blog world.  Stuck between a rock and a hard place...if a hard place is a job that I haven't actually been offered.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

These Lizards are Assholes and Other Random Thoughts

Okay, so a few weeks ago I was on the phone with a girlfriend explaining how my garage door kept opening itself after I had closed it.  I assumed, erroneously, that it was a lizard or something triggering the sensor.  There are crazy huge lizards all over this place (Texas) so I said to her, "these lizards are assholes."  Because clearly if they're opening my garage, they want my belongings stolen by neighborhood teens.  That's an asshole move if I've ever seen one.  She told me to make it the title of my next post.  Well, Michelle, here you go.

Here are a few random/ranty thoughts I've had lately that I wanted to share.

1.  The ability to deposit waste into a toilet of any size is not a mark of intelligence or lack thereof.

I don't know how many times I've heard parents brag on how early their kid was potty trained.  Just shut up.  They weren't trained, you were.  Plus, let me just share a bit of wisdom with you:  every asshole I know is toilet trained.  Seriously, every single one.  All the jerks that I went to school with, the pretentious waiter at the too expensive restaurant, nearly every politician, and every braggy mom...all use the potty and probably without a sticker chart.  So stop.  Please. 

2. Bow size is apparently now a mark of wealth?

Please tell me this isn't actually true.  I've started making a few bows for Claire because I refuse to pay $10 for something I can make for $3 in about two minutes.  That being said, I understand how they end up so big.  They get out of hand really quickly.  I've had to reign myself in a few times.  I don't understand parents who post pictures of their children's bow collections with a caption that says something about their kid being spoiled, etc.  Unless the kid purchased them on their own, you, parent, are to blame for their spoiledness.  My only assumption is that what you really mean is, "look how much money I've spent on this kid.  It's impressive, right?  There's more where that came from.  Just click around in my albums, I'm sure I've posted pictures of my house and cars, too." 

3.  Are you planning to have kids is the most inappropriate, prying question in the world.

I'm guilty, I have asked this question at least twice in the last two weeks.  Here's what you're really asking, "hey, so are you planning to stop taking your birth control any time soon?  Because it's my business.  I mean are you taking birth control now?  How often do you have sex with your husband?  When?  Because I'd like to know if you're ovulating."  Michelle and I discussed this recently, too.  There are a series of questions that people seem to ask when you hit certain stages in life.  First, it's the when are you getting married?  Then it's when are you having kids?  Then it's when are you having more kids?  I'm guessing it all ends with when are planning on dying?  How awkward are we as a society that we discuss these things with strangers in grocery stores, etc?  But, sadly, I can't help it.  I want to know the answers...

4.  When did everyone start running marathons?

I feel like this is a recent trend.  I, myself, have started running.  Which is crazy because there was a point when I would've only run if chased and even then I might have tried fighting back before fleeing.  I'm not built for speed, people.  Almost every person I know is training for some 5K.  It makes me want to run, too.  But sadly, I hate running.  So, my other option is Zumba which is equally popular.  It may have something to do with the age of my friends and the fact that most are experiencing that post-30 metabolic slowdown.

Well, I haven't talked about it in awhile, but it is in the title of the blog...TV.  I can say now that we hardly watch TV.  It's nice.  I feel like my girls are just as happy though even if I switch on some MMC so I can cook dinner.  The great thing is that Claire no longer brings me the remote like she did when we were in the Sprout stage. 



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Discovering My Pride

I'm probably going to sound like a jerk for a minute, but bear with me and I'll stop sounding like a jerk by the end.

I was born and raised in a small town in southwest Missouri.  I attended school in an even smaller town about 12 miles from my house.

Because we lived in one city but attended school in another I never really identified with either.  Seneca, where I attended school, was a town of less than 2,000 people.  It consisted of one main street with a flashing red light, two groceries stores that were inexplicably placed almost right next to each other, a beauty shop or two, a bank, and a few restaurants that came and went. 

The people who live(d) in Seneca are/were close-knit and relatively simple.  I'm pretty sure people didn't lock their doors or worry about anything more criminal than the occasional speeding ticket on the road to the baseball fields. 



While my mom taught in the school district, I never really felt like we fit in there.  We actually lived 5 miles outside of the sprawling metropolis of Joplin.  Our address was Joplin and we did most of our shopping there.  But, because we didn't attend the schools in Joplin, I didn't feel like I fit in there either. 

For years this didn't matter.  I thought to myself, who wants to be from Joplin, Missouri?  It's nothing more than a dot on the map, a stop on the interstate, a blackhole that sucks in its residents tricking them into staying and never reaching their potential or pursuing their dreams.  (see I told you I'd sound like a jerk, stick around)

When I was picking out colleges I wanted to get out of Joplin and never look back.  In fact, my parents wouldn't even let me consider Missouri Southern State College, the Joplin school. 

I scoffed at all things Joplin as being uncultured, quaint, and too boring for my tastes.  So I headed off to Springfield, met great people, got a degree, headed off to Columbia, got a doctorate, and settled down to start my family.

Over the decade that all of this took place I visited Joplin frequently and even Seneca from time to time.  I kept in touch with many friends and eventually reconnected with others.  All the while, when people would ask where I was from I would reluctantly offer up Joplin with the explanation that my school years were spent in Seneca.

May 22, 2011, I was enjoying a quiet evening with my husband and daughter.  We had dinner, washed the kid and put her to bed around 6 something.  As I always do, I grabbed my phone to check out Facebook after Claire was in bed.  I started reading these posts from friends talking about some tornado that had hit Joplin.  I immediately turned on the Weather Channel and called my parents to make sure they were safe.

My dad answered, yes he knew there was a tornado, no they weren't hurt.  My mom was actually napping through all of it.  Relieved that my family was safe I turned my attention to the broadcast.

The next few hours were like a movie.  It couldn't be real life.  The reporter was standing in the parking lot of the pharmacy I worked at during high school.  Except there was no pharmacy.  There wasn't anything, anywhere.  My mind couldn't wrap itself around what I was see.  It was so incredibly disturbing.  The destruction was incomprehensible.

I wanted to do something, anything to help.  I wanted to drive down and start dragging debris around.  I was 7 months pregnant, so it wasn't really an option.  So I sat, feeling helpless and so very sad for my hometown.  That's right, my hometown.  In an instant I felt protective of all things Joplin; the people, the places, the culture.

In the days that followed the people of Joplin showed the world, and this former resident, what they were made of.  They showed what real human compassion looks like and they did it with such grace.  They didn't let the storm victimize them.  They stood facing down the challenge of rebuilding a city and said, when can we start?

In the times that I have traveled back to Joplin to visit my parents and friends I have many times driven down Main Street and been shocked by what I see.  Before 5/22, between 26th and 20th  streets you couldn't see very far to your east and west because of the buildings and beautiful mature trees.  If you traveled to your east you would find neighborhoods made up of lovely ranch style-houses.  If you traveled to your west you would find older homes that might resemble more of a Cape Cod style.  Those are all gone now. 

In their place new homes are springing up as fast as builders can build them.  Families are once again celebrating milestones like graduations and birthdays.

If Joplin was a chalkboard, it was wiped clean when the tornado came through.  But it couldn't erase the spirit of the people in its path.



I am proud to say I am from Joplin, Missouri.  Not because I want you to ask me about the tornado, but because I want to tell you about the amazing community that I was lucky enough to be a part of for my first 18 years.  The place that my family has called home for generations. 

I think the tornado restored a sense of community that may have been waning in this world of email and social networking where you never actually have to talk to another live person. 

Joplin is more than a dot on a map.  Its residents are more than a number on a population sign.  They are strong, resilient, beautiful people.

I would also like to say that out of the tornado several of my classmates have shown like the stars that they are.  The Rhatigan Brothers wrote an amazing song and you can listen to it here.  Erica Tremblay has made an amazing documentary and you can view the trailer here.  Danny Craven and his Joplin High School students made this video.  These people make me proud to say that I grew up in a little town in southwest Missouri.  When I listen and watch these things, I can't help but cry.  I am ashamed that it took such loss and suffering for me to feel pride in where I came from.  I am proud, though.



 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Love Thyself

I was talking to my sister last night about raising daughters.  After some reflection, I've decided to share a bit of this with you so that maybe a daughter or two won't have to go through what I put myself through.

First, let's be clear, no one did this to me.  I did this to myself.  I'm talking about bulimia.  Oh, and a side of anorexia.  I literally tortured myself for a decade.  Every day I woke up hating myself.  I hated what I looked like, I hated how I acted, all of it.  I hated feeling bad all of the time.

See, if I wasn't binging and purging and hating myself for that, I was starving and generally angry.  Every single bite that crossed my lips caused some sort of self-loathing.  I hated food.  I hated my body.  I hated my family because they didn't understand me.  I was the worst person on earth for several years. 

I just wasn't a nice person.  My diseases made me that way.  Now, as an adult, and as a survivor of these ugly diseases, I can see what I had become.  Anyone that knows me now knows I love my family more than anything.  My mom and sister are my best friends.  I have probably the world's best in-laws and I love them like we were related by more than vows.  My father and I have a better relationship today than we have ever in my life and I'm glad of that.  I can't even describe the love I feel for my husband and daughters. 

It's because of this love that I will not let them do to themselves what I did. 

Every day I woke up hating how I looked and to compensate I was a raging bitch.  I have no idea how I had friends.  My body was the grossest thing I had ever seen.  There were times I wanted to claw it off of me.  I envied everyone else.  I envied the confidence of my friends.  I envied how they would just eat lunch and not worry if they would be able to puke it all back up.  I envied their relationships and their attitudes.  Why did everyone else get to be in such a good mood?  They had dinner parties and I was generally busy.  I feared eating in front of people.  What if I got all binge-y in front of people.  They would see how gross I was.

My disease was contagious.  I had a partner in crime during my teen years.  We would skip meals together, we would skip entire days.  I'm pretty sure she knew at the time what I was doing when we did let ourselves eat but I wasn't going to share my darkest secret.  I feel so incredibly guilty now for dragging someone else down with me.  The solace that I have comes from the knowledge that she, too, recovered from my sweeping sickness.

I destroyed the trust in my relationships.  Bulimia and anorexia are such deceitful diseases.  No one ever comes out and says, "yeah, I'm going to go throw this stuff up.  Be right back." Every bite taken is a lie.  I had a handful of serious relationships that suffered.  I mean honestly, what do you do when someone you care about is slowly killing themself?  I think you probably get mad, then shut down, then not care and then say hurtful things.  I had a few friends that went through this cycle.  I am sorry for what I put them through. 

A good thing came out of all of it though.  I can spot these monsters from a mile away.  Claire and Zora would have a hard time sneaking them past me.

Parents, you don't have to be a recovering eating disorder sufferer to catch the signs.  Do your research.  Ask questions.  Be present in your children's lives.  I will do every thing in my power to keep my girls from going through what I went through.  I want them to know that they are beautiful no matter what.  I want them to know that regardless of their beauty they are more than meets the eye.  I want them to find self-worth in their accomplishments, friendships, and goals.  Sadly, I want them to be nothing like 17 year old me.   

Thanks for letting me get these things off my chest, blogosphere.  Today I can say that I love the way I look.  I strive to be in better shape, but I won't apologize anymore for my size and shape.  I came by these things honestly for the first time in a long time. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thanks Tripp and Courtney for continuing to teach me life's lessons

Okay, I'm going to break your heart for a minute or two here...

A few months ago I blogged about a wonderful little angel named Tripp Roth.  He valiantly fought EB for 2 years and 8 months before finally taking his eternal rest.

I still follow his mother Courtney's blog.  I have been avoiding reading it lately even though she's been understandably absent, only posting a few times since her son's passing.

Today, I took a deep breath and clicked...I'm not even sure why because I knew it was going to be sad.  I knew I was going to cry my eyes out and ache for this mother and her son.

I'm so glad I did.  You see, I've been having a bit of a pity party for myself lately.  When we moved to Texas we had some very intensive family time.  It was me, Claire and Zora all day every day.  Claire spent 2 days a week at an in-home daycare in Columbia, but in Texas, we hadn't found anyone yet.

Since I work from home I technically don't need childcare, but I think Claire does.  I don't stimulate her enough during the day and I have to care for Miss Baby so at times, she's not center stage and she lets you know that this does not please her.

This made me a crazy person.  Claire was bored, so she was acting out.  The baby is now mobile and, like her sister, a bottomless pit, so I am constantly trying to keep her full.

I couldn't take it.  This myth of stay-at-home-mommyhood.  I didn't feel fulfilled, I felt drained and at my wit's end.  I wasn't cherishing every moment, I was counting the seconds until Rob got home and I could do something like shower or pee by myself. 

Then we found our balance.  Claire goes to Montessori school every day in the morning.  Miss B and I spend a glorious few hours together and bond like I did with Claire when she was a baby.  I feel peaceful again.  I feel like a sane person.

So why do I feel like an a-hole?  It's because I feel guilty not feeling gloriously fulfilled by staying home with my children.  This is not my calling.  I am as good of a mother as you'll find, I'm certain. (yeah, I'm tooting my own horn)  But I'm not a kindergarten teacher and never wanted to be one.  I want to play an active role in my children's learning and education.  I want to help them learn to read and do math and become world citizens, but I don't want that responsibility to rest solely on my shoulders.  It's too much.  I'm not cut-out for this gig. 

All of that being said, there are people in this world that put me to shame.  They are strong and patient and put on this earth to do something special.  Courtney Roth is one of them.  She spent every moment of her son's short life caring for him.  She gave up anything that resembled "her" life and lived for him.  This is something I hope that if necessary, I could do.  I also hope I'll never have to test that theory.

Now she is without her baby.  She has to figure out how to go on without him.  It makes me realize that I wouldn't trade a single tantrum or tear, any of those drops of spilled juice or cereal messes, any of those "one more story, please Mommy" moments if it were my last with my babies.  They are precious to me.  I take the ease of my life for granted.  I sweat the small stuff.  I cry over spilled milk, literally.

I don't want to anymore.  I want to savor each second.  I'm going to try my best to take a deep breath and enjoy my babies like they deserve to be enjoyed.  They are miracles and they are my angels.  Tripp Roth continues to teach me things.  Wise beyond his years.  Thanks Tripp and thanks Courtney for continuing to be strong and honest for those of us who are neither at times.

Monday, April 30, 2012

It Looks Like a Stripper Threw Up in Here

I've been threatening to write this post for awhile.  I've decided to just jump in with both feet and share my honest opinion(like you ever had any doubt).

Kids' rooms.  What.the.hell?  I remember the days of Strawberry Shortcake and Carebears and when Barbie was more of a plastic doll and less of a slut. 

Let's start with a very special word with which everyone should familiarize themselves:  appropriate.  In short it means "suitable or proper in the circumstances."  I like "proper" because it makes me think all Sense and Sensibility or Queen Elizabeth or something. 

When I think proper for a baby girl's room or a toddler girl's room I think pretty colors (not necessarily pink or even pastel), educational and stimulating toys, lots of books, and soft things upon which to lie/sit/drool.

This is not the present trend though, as far as I can tell.*Disclaimer:  I am basing all of this on what I see on Facebook and Pinterest...oh, and maybe Housewives of Somewhere-or-another.*

Now that we are all familiar with the word "appropriate" let's lay down some basic rules/review some tips for decorating your children's rooms so that you won't be bailing your daughter out of jail/pulling her down off a stage (eh-hem, the kind with a pole) anytime soon.

1.  Animal prints should be used in moderation.  Okay, so I love a good zebra print or even a giraffe from time to time (synthetic of course, get off my back PETA).  However, you don't want it to look like a full-on African safari in there.  I mean, hey, what's more cuddly than a bunch of skinned animals, but let's save those for birthday parties and t-ball games, k? 

Sidenote:  I have to mention that I have a good friend whose daughter, 9, has one of the loveliest uses of zebra print in her bedroom.  So props to you, AH, for knowing how to not go overboard when decorating and for raising a delightful, classy little girl. 

2.  Feathers are actually kind of icky if you think about it.  Seriously, whenever I see feathers being used on wedding cakes, centerpieces, etc I always get icked out.  That was stuck in a bird, you know.  Would you want me to pull out several handfuls of my hair for you to use as decorations?  No?  It's kind of the same thing except that I wash my hair more frequently than most people wash their birds.  I hope.

How does this apply to baby rooms?  People are constantly covering things in marabou.  Marabou is a stork that apparently has some of the loveliest, fluffiest feathers somewhere on its storky body.  So, I guess it's kind of appropriate if you believe children are delivered via bird.  Otherwise, take that dust-catching, tacky frame off your baby's changing table and hit yourself in the head with it.  Now you have some sense.

3.  Google stripper clothes.  Do the colors that you see on any of these website match the colors or prints in your child's bedroom?  If yes, you have chosen poorly, so go back to Lowe's and pick out something more suitable for a baby girl to look at every time she awakens from her precious baby slumber.  Do not, in the alternative, assume that stripper clothes have gotten classier.  They have not. 

4.  If when you step into the room you can see more than four be-dazzled items you have gone overboard.  Frankly, I think more than one be-dazzled item for a baby's room is too much, but that's just me.  You know that sparkly things look delicious to babies and they come off pretty easily.  Choking hazard!

5.  Does any of the furniture look like it belongs in the lounge of a swanky hotel or seedy gentlemen's club?  Remove said item immediately and get something your kid won't either slide off of or stick to.  Gross.  What is wrong with you?

6.  If you have committed anywhere from 2 to 5 of the previously enumerated errors, just go ahead and buy a pole for your child's bedroom because you may be raising a stripper.

Nothing against strippers, I hear it's good money.  But I don't want my babies rolling around in glitter and wearing clear light-up shoes any time soon. 

Well, the Devil takes many forms, they say.  Mickey Mouse is one of them.  Claire has recently become quite addicted to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  She sings along with the songs and dances.  It's cute, I guess.  At least it's not Caillou.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Jealousy Ain't Just a River in Egypt...Wait, That's Not Right

A few weeks ago I had an experience with another mother that, well, rubbed me the wrong way.  I've been considering whether or not to blog about it...here we go...

So, while at a gathering of children and adults Claire was having a great time hanging out with a child that is older than she is; more than twice her age, actually.  Claire loves this little girl, I mean loves her.  She wants to wear the clothes and shoes she wears, play with the toys she plays with, eat the food she eats...you get the idea.  If you asked her, she'd probably say she wants to be her when she grows up. 

I'm sure this isn't exactly the best time for the older child, though.  We'll call her Amelia*.  Claire's little.  She sort of understands sharing and taking turns.  She mostly just says, "Amelia's turn."  Then cries until it's her turn again. She'll do it, but she doesn't have to like it.  I'm sure Claire's not that much fun to play with, but Amelia graciously indulges her.  They play house, dolls, hide-n-seek, torture the cats, and all sorts of other fun games.

So, in the midst of Amelia and Claire playing/fighting/running amuck another mother(not Amelia's) says to me, "Wow, Claire's really has a jealousy thing with Amelia, doesn't she."  See how there's no question mark at the end of this?  It's not a question, it's a statement. 

I didn't really know how to respond to this statement.  It seemed all at once condescending, hateful, off-base, and just down-right mean.  The word "jealous" has such negative connotations.  Claire's not jealous of Amelia.  She looks up to her.  She's her hero and her mentor.  Claire wants Amelia to be her bestest friend in the whole wide world forever and ever and ever.  She's not jealous of her though.  Can a 2 year old even be jealous?  This implies a level of cognition that I don't think we gain until young adulthood.

So, as the day continued, this mom proceeded to scold my child for "crowding" Amelia when Claire wanted to sit next to her and the like.  I had to take a few deep breaths.

I'm not sure why this got under my skin so much, but it did.  I guess the moral of the story is to be careful how you word things when talking to people about their children.  Is this really a lesson that any of us need, though?

Frankly, I would never say to a friend or an enemy that their child was jealous of mine, or anyone else's child for that matter.  A statement like this seems to be more of a projection than an observation.  Keep the kids out of it, please. 

I feel like I often hear other parents criticizing kids when what they really want to do is criticize the other parents and their parenting.  Own it.  If you're going to be that person that criticizes another mom or dad, do it, but don't try to back into by saying something about the kid. 

Examples: 

Wow, Sally is really aggressive.  Translation:  I can't believe you're letting your child push the other kids around in the sandbox.

Has Danny always been so loud?  Translation:  Can't you keep your kid quiet?

Jenny really likes animals doesn't she?  Translation:  Your kid is weird and keeps harassing my pet.

At any rate, I'm not sure what the other mother was implying when she made her comment about Claire, but whatever it was, it was neither correct, nor any of her business.  She is most certainly not jealous of another child unless that child lives with Caillou, himself...then she might be a smidge jealous. 

Thanks blog-o-sphere for letting me get that out of my system.  You're a gem.

Stay tuned for my next post...I'm writing about children's rooms that look like strip clubs...get excited! 

*Name changed to protect the innocent.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Better Late Than Never and Lessons Learned on the Road to Texas

Alright, alright, I know I haven't posted anything in awhile...okay since March.  I've been supremely busy.  I will now enumerate why I have been busy so you will feel like an a-hole for making me feel guilty for not posting.

1.  We moved.  That's pretty much the whole list.  We didn't just move across town though.  We moved to a whole different state.  A whole different country, if you will, e.g. Texas. 

I must say that Texas is lovely this time of year, which I'm told makes up for the fact that it is unbearably hot for the rest of the year. 

So far we have celebrated Easter in style with my sister and her family(niece projectile vomited Easter breakfast onto floor, couch, Claire's new swimming suit, possibly the cat), moved into our new digs(we have a pool, yay!), dined on the local fair(Chick-fil-A and In-n-Out Burger), and visited local landmarks(DFW airport, Super Target, and Love Field).  I'd say we're enjoying it.

The move hasn't been too bad for the wee chubby one, but for the rest of us, it's been a different story.  Claire has really been taking this whole terrible 2s thing seriously.  I think she's spent more time in time-out than she has doing anything else.  It wasn't easy on me either.

First, there was the whole leaving-of-the-old-house.  It was really hard on me.  I cried several times when I thought about the fact that this was the house where I brought home my babies.  This was the house where Claire took her first steps, said her first words, and all manner of other firsts.  It was the first house that Rob and I made our home together.  Sure we lived a couple of places before this, but they seemed like other people's houses.  This house felt like we made it our own.

I'm a sap.  What can I say?  It was rough and it didn't help that the radio station was apparently sent a memo about me leaving and proceeded to play songs that made me all weepy.  It was ridiculous.   

The girls and I left before Rob and before all of our belongings so at least I didn't have to see it empty.

So, we stopped off in Joplin for the weekend/beginning of the next week so that my mother could ride to Texas with us for visiting and assisting/child rangling.  Yes, rangling is a word.

Whilst in JoMo I had the opportunity to assist with and attend a great benefit concert for a wonderful little boy named Chandler who is the son of one of my closest friends from elementary/middle/high school.  Chandler was born with a heart defect and the concert raised money to help with his medical bills. 

After driving 4 hours with my crazy children the day before, this was the best medicine for a haggard mother.  During the concert(which was put on by a local gospel quartet at a huge-mongous church) one parishioner stood up to offer a blessing and said something so simple, but so profound.  He was in his 90s so just being out and about was pretty impressive.  He said that he was often caught up with the sadness that he felt for himself and his family's trials and tribulations, but after hearing Chandler's story he wondered what he had to feel so sorry for himself about. 

At that moment I felt like a big jerk.  Just the day before I had been driving through the heart of Missouri on a gorgeous spring day, sun shining, with my two healthy girls in my newish car, on my way to get my hair done, eat dinner with friends, ultimately move to a new state and a new home, and crying like a fool.  What did I have to be feeling so sad about?  Not a damn (you can't swear and talk about church in the same post) darn thing.  I'm more than lucky. 

Our old house didn't keep all those firsts and memories, I took them with me.  They aren't packed in boxes, wrapped in tissue paper, or even tucked neatly into a suitcase.  They're in my heart, Rob's silly laugh, in my daughters' eyes, and their beautiful smiles.



We'll make more memories in Texas.  I'm sure they'll be huge.  You know what they say: everything is bigger in Texas.

Just as I thought TV was history(because our cable took forever to be installed and because we don't have Sprout in our subscription), it pulled the old switcheroo.  We have Sprout OnDemand.  Are you kidding me?  You mean all I have to do is press a button and I have Caillou 24 hours a day?  Nothing good can come of this.  Luckily, I think the pool and the playground within walking distance will keep us out of the house...at least for awhile.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Life Lessons: The Playground Edition, Part Deux

Yeah I just referenced a semi-crap Charlie Sheen movie with my title...what of it?

Okay, so it has been really beautiful outside in Mid-Mo so we've been spending quite a bit of time at the playground, prompting my second edition.  Here we go:

1.  While smoking may make you look/feel cool at a bar or french cafe, it is inappropriate for a playground.  Seriously?  Do I have to point this out?  Okay, so let me start by saying at one point in my more foolish life, I smoked.  I know, I know, it's bad for you.  That's why I don't do it anymore.  That, and I cannot stand listening to my sister bitch at me for even one more second in this lifetime.  Love you sis.  Anyway, there was a woman sitting in the playground area smoking a cigarette that was wafting very rudely right over where my precious, pink-lunged baby was playing on the slide.  Smoking is a choice that you are more than welcome to make on your own time, but don't do it around my kid, please.  Also, don't bury your cigarette butt in the playground mulch, for the love of God. 

2.  The sandbox is for playing, not bragging.  While Claire was very timidly trying to join in with some other children to "build a road," I had the pleasure of listening to two sets of parents brag back and forth about where they had gotten their child accepted for the coming term.  I also learned that Vietnam is lovely this time of year as they were also bragging about their most recent vacation.  Tickets to Vietnam are apparently $2,000 a piece.  Wow, I'm so glad you're sharing this information while your child runs mine over with his dump truck.  I also learned the pros and cons of using a Kindle as your travel guide and that iPads are far superior for this task.  Thank God I had on my sunglasses so they couldn't see me roll my eyes.

3.  When enjoying a cookie on the swings, it is not necessary to leave part of it behind for the next swinger.  There is nothing I like more than finding soggy cookie stuck to my child's butt.  It is even more delightful when said cookie was made soggy by someone elses' mouth.  Ew.  Wipe out the swings, please?  I'll try to keep my kid's honey wheat pretzel rod off the playground equipment if you keep the animal cookies off the swings.

4.  Pick up your trash.  Okay, this applies to more than just the playground.  I am always appalled by the amount of trash at the park.  There are trash cans and recycling bins every few feet.  Just pick one.  Please, choose appropriately though.  I noticed yesterday that the trashcan was filled to the brim with plastic bottles and soda cans while the recycle bin sat nearly empty.  It's like people are trying to not care.  Jerks.

5.  Judge as you would be judged...or something like that.  This one is a bit more complicated.  I saw Green Glass Dad at the park today.  He had Green Glass Mom with him, this time.  I'd never seen her before, but she looked just as I had imagined in my mind:  sort of hipster-esque with a side of hippy and probably in the single digits for body fat percentage.  For whatever reason this guy had always rubbed me the wrong way.  I don't know why.  He's never been anything but pleasant to me at the park and at the library.  I told myself while I was swinging the girls that it was because he has a judgey air about him.  Yeah, that's it.  He's all judgey and I don't like it.  Look at him there with his reusable bag picnic.  Yeah, I've got my plastic bag, what of it?  Looking all smug with his metal water bottle and [probably] vegan lunch.  Yeck.  Then, it hit me:  I'm the judgey one.  Shit.  I was standing there concerning myself with what this guy and his wife and child were doing and not soaking in every glorious moment of a perfectly sunny, breezy day at a park with two of my favorite people.  I'm the asshole.  I hate these moments.  So I stopped myself in my own tracks and did an about-face, literally.  I positioned myself on the other side of the swings so that I was facing the two most beautiful faces on earth with my back to the Green Glasses. 

Who knew the park could reveal so much to me in such simple contexts?  Not me.

On another note, we are moving at the end of the week, so each time I visit somewhere in Columbia, I contemplate whether it will be my last time there.  I can't lie, I've teared up quite a few times.  I'll miss this little town in the middle of Missouri, in the middle of the country.  It's been my home for 8 years.  I met my husband here, had my babies, and met some of the nicest, best people on the planet.  So, I guess I should say thanks.  Thanks, Columbia.  You've sucked at times (eh-hem, 24 inches of snow?), but you've been a really nice place to live.  As for the people, they know they're awesome and they know who they are. 

Hey, so you know how to get your kid to stop watching TV?  Turn on something they don't like.  This works with husbands, too.  It turns out Claire is not interested, even a bit, in HGTV.  I see many House Hunters marathons in my future.     

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Life Lessons, Playground Edition

It was a lovely week here in Mid-Mo and we took full advantage of it.  We hit the park several times and had very much fun and even learned a few life lessons.

I will share them with you now, because I know you are on the edge of your seat.

1.  Children have no awareness, or desire to become aware, of the line.  I like to call it the "queue" because it feels very European.  The kids at the park on Saturday not only cut in line, they literally(like actually, not literally like the teens say) pushed others out of the way.  Which brings me to my second life lesson...

2.  Children who push other children out of the way to use the slide do not have parents anywhere nearby.  These apparent park-orphans run a-muck with no regard for rules and order.  They will knock your child down right.in.front.of.you.  You will want to knock them out, I mean down, to give them a taste of their own medicine.  See next life lesson.

3.  Knocking another child down, even if they have knocked your child down, is improper and will likely cause the previously orphaned child's parents to come flying onto the scene.  Now, I didn't discover this first-hand.  I just observed. 

4.  Little boys like to kiss little girls on the playground.  This one was a shocker.  Claire was dismounting the slide when a little boy who was likely at least three times her age, planted a kiss right on her cheek.  If you are saying, "awwwww,"  don't.  I didn't like this one bit.  I try my hardest to keep Claire from touching other kids.  Keeping one's hands to one's self is an equally important life lesson.  Of course, my library mom friends get a good laugh when I yell, "don't touch that child, Claire."  She's like a bull in a china shop.  Anyway, back to the drive-by kissing.  First, this kid had so much snot on his face...I can't even think of an analogy for this one.  Second, where are your parents?  Third, just ew, and at least buy her a juice box.  Keep your germs and your lips to yourself.  Claire just looked stunned. 

5.  If you are looking to steal a child (which I am not advocating) the park is the place to do it.  There were so many nomadic children moving from structure to structure with no parent in sight, it was amazing.  I tried counting the parents sitting on benches and allocate at least a handful of kids to those adults but by my calculation every adult there must have been a Duggar because they all had at least 20 kids. 

6.  When you steal this child at the park, don't worry about the kid screaming and blowing your cover.  When we left the park Claire lost her mind.  She was tired, she was hungry, and she wanted to stay at the park and at least be tired, hungry, and sliding.  She screamed like a banshee.  She sounded like the peacock impression my sister does(if you've never had the pleasure, you're in for a real treat) but without the break.  It was amazing.  I thought for sure we'd draw at least a glare or two.  Not a single soul looked our way.  You might be asking yourself why this is a problem.  Well, if my child is screaming, I want at least one person to look me up and down and remember what I'm wearing, what my child is wearing, and what car I'm getting into.  Why?  Because if my child is being abducted, I want someone to notice.  Look, it might sound all worst-case-scenario, but I don't care.  I'd much rather someone annoy me a little by giving me a judgey look than no one notice the time that it's not me taking my kid from the park.  See, this is where park moms become quite handy.  They're always up in your business.  I think I just had one of those Oprah "Ah-ha" moments.

7.  If you are waiting your turn for the baby swings, don't just stand there and stare awkwardly until someone gets uncomfortable and leaves.  Seriously, this happened.  An addendum to this would be don't stand and stare and say to your toddler, "sorry, honey, we just have to wait until someone gets done."  That someone won't be me.  I waited 30 minutes for one of those swings to free up and now Zora is delighting herself by practicing running in mid-air.  So, lay off, lady.  No wonder these kids can't wait their turn.  Their parents, while they may not push you out of the way, will try to guilt-trip you out of the way.  Well, I've got news for them, my mother is a prize-winning guilt-tripper who was taught by the queen guilt-tripper, my granny.  Your comments have no effect on me.  Joke's on you.

8.  Don't play catch with a football in the middle of the play structure.  Especially if you suck at the catch part.  I think I was nearly taken out at least twice by these two little boys tossing around a full-sized football in the midst of the chaos.  Again, where are your parents?  I would never let Claire and Zora do something like that(especially since right now Claire and Zora playing catch would mostly be Zora getting hit in the face).  I'm pretty sure it's against playground rules, anyway.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a habitual (heavy on the bitch) rule follower.  It pains me to see others breaking such simple rules. 

All joking aside, what is wrong with people who take their kids to the park and then set them loose?  I'm not saying you have to chase after them, but shouldn't you at least keep an eye on them?  This isn't even appropriate at a dog park with four-legged children.  Why would it be appropriate with the two-legged ones?  Please, keep tabs on your kids.  I don't want them to push my kid down, but I really don't want them to be snatched.    

Even though going to park can be trying and tiring, it is a great distraction from the Great Distractor, TV(similar to the Great Oz, but with more people working things behind the curtain).  We hardly watched any TV this week because we had so many other things to do.  Yay!  I'll beat you, yet, TV.    

Monday, March 5, 2012

Vomit? No, no, that's not a good blog title

What does one write about when they've had a pretty boring week?  Vomit.

It's gross, it smells, it comes out of children at warp speed.

I know I mentioned last week that Claire was sick.  That doesn't really come close to describing what went on in this house for 24 hours.  There was puke, there was crying, there was dry-heaving. 

I must say that this is the first round of pukes we have had.  Claire has been pretty healthy for her first 2 years and aside from a few runny noses and a total of 3 fevers, this kid is the picture of health.  So you can imagine how blindsided I was by the remake of the Exorcist that was going on in my living room, bedroom, and bathroom. 

After six baths to wash bodies and hair, I was ready to throw in the towel.  Thank goodness she was feeling well enough to not heave all over the house on her birthday.  Although the illness wasn't done with her yet.  She spent most of her first full day as a 2 year old filling her diaper.  She was a Bear Care that day, though, so darn...I missed it.

Yeah, it's gross.  I'm grossed out just writing this.  Thankfully, last week I got to spend a much-needed evening out with some fellow mommies swilling wine and complaining about husbands, etc. 

What I discovered over the course of 4 hours and a shocking 2 glasses of wine (I usually only have 1) was that I am not the only crazy person.  In fact, other mothers are presently being driven crazy by their children.  I was surprised.  Why, you ask?  Because I always feel like I'm the only person who is learning this stuff as I go.  Other moms seem to be so put together.  I mean some of them even wear make-up and real pants out of the house (as opposed to yoga pants or pajama pants...don't worry, I'm not leaving the house pantsless).

Whilst swilling aforementioned wine, one mom made a great point that had never really occurred to me in all of my infinite 2 years of child-rearing wisdom.  She said that as adults, sometimes we have a bad day at work, etc, and we come home and complain to our spouse, friend, family member, whomever.  Our kids have bad days, too.  They have days when they're tired, feeling icky, feeling sad, or just feeling frustrated.  Our kids, unlike us, cannot vent to their chosen soundboard.  I don't know about you, but my toddler has never said, "Hey Mom, can you draw me a bubble bath and get me a nice ice-cold chocolate milk?  I had a rough day at school." 

If she did say that, I'd surely accommodate her because I would know what she was feeling.  Instead, I get ear-piercing screams, body-flinging fits, and big, real tears.  What do I do?  I get upset with her for having a meltdown and sometimes she even gets time out. 

Since we started using time out I have tried to not punish emotions because I want her to feel free to express any and all emotions so that we might work through them when she gets older.  Right now we're still working on things like keeping her fingers out of her nose.  Despite my best efforts, I know I have punished for emotions.

So, I have decided to institute a practice that my sister and her husband use.  They have a "crying chair."  Whenever their daughter is having a meltdown, she goes and sits in the crying chair until she is done crying and ready to talk about whatever made her melt.  She's 5, so self-reflection, while still a new concept, is not impossible.  It seems to work and at least they feel like they are doing something for her.

For the past week when Claire starts to do that scream/yodel/whale call thing that she does I ask her if she needs a minute to herself.  A few times she proceeded to melt in spite of my question.  But, a few times she went in her room and sat in the time out spot.  I didn't tell her to go, I didn't even mention time out.  A few minutes later, she emerged with a handful of books and a smile.

All of that being said, this isn't news to a lot of parents and I certainly don't think I've figured out some magic formula, or that my child is the picture of behavioral perfection.  I just wanted to share yet another week of my daily life.

Claire is now a famous Sprout TV Sproutlet...okay, maybe not...but her birthday card was shown on-air on her birthday and Kelly and Chica wished her a happy birthday.  She was thrilled.  There'll be no dealing with her now.  Oh well, I have to say that more exciting things happen everyday on Fireman Sam than have happened all season on The Walking Dead.  Sprout - 1, AMC - 0.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Birthdays, Bellyaches, and Blessings

Claire is turning two tomorrow and we couldn't be more excited...especially since she has decided that she wants to have her first round of the pukes on or about her birthday.  Awesome.

Over the weekend we had her birthday party.  I know I have been preaching this whole get rid of the excess bit and I swear I tried to actually practice that when putting together her party.  I thought I would share it with you, not to pat myself on the back, but so that you can summarily steal and make it your own.

I love Reading Rainbow.  I admit it.  As a child I thought Levar Burton was maybe the coolest guy on earth.  He had all these books and he flew around on the Starship Enterprise.  He was a very busy man.

Claire loves books.  I know I've mentioned this before, but she really does.  I can't imagine how excited she'll be when she actually figures out how to read the words.  So, based on my love of Reading Rainbow, Claire's love of books, and several ideas from Pinterest, I decided Claire would have a Reading Rainbow birthday party...then I got carried away.

While I love Pinterest more than most things in this world, it sucks you in and leads you to believe that every party needs fancy DIY centerpieces, little placards telling your guests what they are eating, and a shmancy two-tiered cake draped in that gross fondant junk.  I nearly went off the rails, but luckily my cheapness forced me to snap out of it.

What I did do was buy red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple streamers from the card outlet store, some chipboard letters on clearance at the Lobby of Hobbies, pinwheels from the dollar store, and some ribbons.  People, it looked like Rainbow Brite, herself, had been in my basement.

  
Check it out.  I wrapped the letters in the crepe paper.  I think the butterfly mobile (compliments of Kaki) is a nice RR touch.  Levar would be proud...if he ever returned tweets.

My sister, the doctor and baker-extraordinaire, prepared a delicious batch of cupcakes with lemonade frosting piped on to look like clouds and stuck some rainbow-looking sour candy on top.


I put all of Claire's favorite books out on display all over the room for the kiddos to read.  We also had a bookmark creation station where the guests could make a foam bookmark to take home in their monogrammed bookbag ($1 at Michael's).  The most popular item at the party, though, was the art wall.  My parents brought me a giant, I mean giant, roll of newsprint.  Apparently, you can get this item free from your local newspaper because they are constantly throwing them out.  We covered the expanse of one wall and put lots of crayons for the kids to go crazy.

Success!  The kids all had fun and the adults seemed to enjoy the food and beverages, but not so much Mizzou losing to Kansas in overtime (because of some real b.s. officiating I might add) that was on the giant TV.  Whatever.

If you think I went overboard, let me redeem myself by saying that we requested no gifts.  In lieu of gifts, we asked that people make a donation to the Imagination Library.  It's a program that partners with United Way and provides a book a month until age 5 to children residing in Columbia.  It's Dolly Parton's brainchild and it pretty much rocks.  We also asked that everyone bring their favorite book for a book exchange.

If you are worried about my poor neglected child not receiving any gifts for her birthday, don't be.  She got plenty of books from various grandparents, parents, aunties, and uncles.  Plus, more importantly, she got to spend time with her friends and family.

Which brings me to what else has been happening and causing me to be so lax with my blogging.  A very good friend of mine went through what was probably the roughest week of his life last week along with his awesome I-couldn't-have-picked-a-better-wife-for-you-if-I-tried wife.  Their son was born with a heart condition called tetralogy of fallot.  I'm not a doctor, so I will spare you my simplistic explanation of what this is and encourage you to look it up for yourself.  Long story short, this baby, who is now 9 months old, is just about as precious as they come.  He reminds me so much of Zora.  He had to have several procedures last week and to say that the recovery has been up and down is an understatement.  He is doing better now from all accounts, which is wonderful news.

I have no idea how they are keeping themselves sane, because I wouldn't be.  Watching this family go through this has torn out my heart many times over the past week.  It has made me appreciate my life, just as I did a few weeks ago when precious Tripp Roth lost his battle with EB.  I hate that it takes these moments to make me stop and smell the roses, hug my babies, and kiss my husband.  But they do, all the same.

Saturday I was so stressed trying to get everything ready for Claire's party.  I was a maniac.  I think I yelled at everyone at least once.  And for what?  Did Claire need a perfectly prepared fruit tray with all the colors of the rainbow represented in different pieces of fruit with a cloud of cheesecake fruit dip?  No, of course not.  She eats things off the floor so presentation is lost on her.  Did she need that rainbow tutu and matching bow that I painstakingly created for her?  No, I think Rob wore the tutu on his head longer than she wore it on her body.

She didn't need any of it.  What she did need, though, was her family and friends surrounding her on a special day.  It's the most basic of needs, love.  She's got that, she's got plenty of that.  So does my friend's son and so does Tripp Roth.

In hindsight, I could smack myself for letting myself be overcome by the details and not see the bigger picture.   Luckily, I have great friends and family who, as soon as they show up, calm the savage party-planning beast in me and remind me to relax and have a tiny cup of rainbow colored vegetables with ranch at the bottom (thanks Pinterest)...and they remind me what I really love isn't the things surrounding me, but the people.  I am humbled by the love I have seen in the past week pouring out for Baby Chandler and for the love that I saw over the weekend for my own little 2 year old.  Love.  When it comes down to it, that's all you need...I feel like someone has said that before...hmmm, weird.

Well, TV...TV...it was on this morning.  I'm trying to keep Claire in one place so that the amount of things I have to clean puke off of and sanitize are minimal.  She spent half this morning reading Little Critter books and the other half watching Sprout.  This week's theme is birthdays, Sprout is now conspiring to get back in my good graces.  We'll see.