Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I am vacationing, yet blogging

You know how people who work outside the home (those who actually get PAID for their efforts) get vacation time? And they use it to take time off work and still bring home a paycheck? And usually they do different things on their vacations, not the same things they would be doing AT work?

Stay-at-home moms don't really get that kind of vacation. Oh, well, yes I DID go on that amazing child-free vacation to the Maldives this winter. But that was only 10 days. (Yep, I just said only. I am such an asshole sometimes.) Josh gets four weeks of vacation per year and he works a measly 40 hours per week. Pffft. I work 168 hours per week, without pay, mind you, and I got two weeks. I work four times as much as he does. Therefore, I should be getting 16 weeks off a year.

We spent this last week at the lake in Wisconsin with Josh's family. Let me first say I am incredibly lucky to have a mother and mother-in-law who don't mind getting up early with their grandchildren. My mother-in-law was with us this week and she got up with the kids most of the mornings, giving them breakfast and playing with them so Mommy and Daddy could get a little more sleep. Alleluia.

But even with help, vacations with the kids really aren't vacations. They're just regular life in another location, usually one that is not baby-proofed. We're still wiping butts, cleaning up spilled Cheerios, refereeing fights over toys and giving timeouts. But this week we got to do all of that with fresh air in our lungs and in a bedroom we're sharing with our 3-year-old. Oh and I did it with the added bonus of not being able to physically pick anyone up because of that pesky cerclage and its restrictions on lifting. Do you know how effective it is to send your kid to timeout without actually carrying him there? I can tell you, not very effective at all.

We're headed home tomorrow and I will be glad to get back. We're been away for nine days total because we stayed with my parents before we went to the lake. It's always nice to get away, but even nicer to come home. Home to our regular toys, our regular beds and our regular routines.

Now I am off to start planning an anniversary trip for the end of the month. Because after all this family time, I need a vacation. I guess Josh can come, too. If he promises I won't have to do the same wife stuff I have to do at home.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

He's tripping

When I signed Jack up for summer camp, I had visions of him running around on the playground and bringing home fingerpainted construction paper, full of stories about what he did all day before dropping off for a long nap due to his utter exhaustion.

As week 1 of summer camp wraps up, I have found that as always, my expectations were way out of whack. Oh sure, he ran around on the playground, but that's about all I know. Because the child of few words -- and we all know, he surely doesn't get that from his mother -- won't tell me what he did all morning.

I picked him up the first day very excited to hear all about it. Based on his reports from preschool this year, I knew I would have to ask some questions, but he would usually offer up a few tidbits. Imagine my surprise when I got nothing. I asked what he did and he said, "I don't know." Really? You sat around and did nothing for three hours? Nothing?

Finally about 10 minutes later, he managed to remember something. "Mommy, I sit on a chair in the gym!" OK, think, think. I asked if he had a timeout and he said no. I asked if he was sitting with the teacher, he said no. I asked if other kids were sitting too and he said yes. Hmmm. Then he offered up another detail. "Mommy, I stand in front of a chair and then I sit in it!" Lightbulb moment -- "Buddy, did you play musical chairs?" I asked. "Yes I did!" I felt like I had just played the final round of $64,000 pyramid and lived to tell the tale.

Based on his inability to share details, I am a little worried about tomorrow. Tomorrow the camp is taking a field trip to a different park. On a school bus. Two counselors and 23 3-year-olds. Oh yes, my 3-year-old is going on a field trip with two counselors I have met for approximately 10 total minutes. To say I am slightly concerned is an understatement.


The park they are going to just happens to be our neighborhood park. Not only will Jack feel comfortable there, but he knows the rules there. You don't leave the park, you don't climb up the slide, you play nicely in the shady portion of the sandbox so Mommy doesn't die of heatstroke in the sun. I figured if he goes on a fieldtrip, this is a good one to go on. It doesn't hurt that I am planning to stalk every moment of this fieldtrip from outside the park. I am not above espionage and not only do I want to make sure he's OK, but I am more excited about the opportunity to watch how he interacts with other kids in his natural habitat when I am not around. My telephoto lens is going to come in quite handy for once.

No matter the outcome of this fieldtrip, however, he won't be attending the other two. One is to a nature museum and one is to the Shedd Aquarium. As in a place I could conceivably lose him and I am his mother. He would be with an adult and five other kids. If I was in charge of six kids at the Shedd, I would consider it a success if I emerged with two of them.

I mean who in their right mind from the park district thought, "Hey! You know what would be awesome? Pile all the kids on a bus, bring two extra adults (they specifically said they would only choose TWO parents to help chaperone) and take them them a dark, cavernous museum with lots of corners and hallways and spaces where there are deep pools of water! That sounds like so. much. fun!"

That sounds like so. many. problems. waiting. to. happen! So my child will not be attending those field trips. My sister accused me of being an over-protective mom, but hello, he is THREE. He won't listen to me, what makes me think he would listen to some other mom who has no ability to threaten him with the loss of bis bath?

How about you -- would you (or have you) sent your 3-year-old on field trips without you present?

Labels: ,

Monday, June 22, 2009

His cheating heart

Last night, Jack was downstairs playing with Josh and cleaning up toys before bed when he asked nicely if he could play Candyland. Because he asked so nicely and we had a couple of minutes, we said sure.

We all went upstairs and Jack and I cleaned up the toys in the living room while Josh busied himself in the kitchen. After a few minutes, I went in to see what in the world was taking so long to grab Candyland off the shelf and bring it in.

I found him RIGGING THE CARDS. I gasped and asked him just what he thought he was doing. I mean, how could he do this? How could he cheat like that? And my God, what was that teaching our child?

He smirked and told me he didn't want a marathon game and Jack needed to be in bed in 15 minutes, so he was simply expediting the whole process. I should have refused to play, but that would have only been hurting Jack, so I reluctantly sat down to play.

We always go in the same order: Jack, Daddy, Mommy. Jack always picks the colors we will all be and then blue guy (for some reason he never has anyone be blue) sits on the side. "He watching us," he says proudly. So now the blue guy is witness to this scam, too. Great.

Jack goes first and wouldn't you know it -- he draws the ice cream cone. For those no longer familiar with the board layout, that is the absolute best card in the deck as it catapults you to the end of the path, leaving you to reach the end with about five more cards.

He was very excited about going alllllllll the way through the board and then graciously told Daddy it was his turn. I remarked that it would be really sad if Jack got the gumdrop card next time, thereby rendering Josh's machinations pointless. Josh just laughed and whispered that he hid the rest of the special cards at the bottom of the deck, so there was no chance.

I hissed, "You are CHEATING at CANDYLAND" and he glared at me and told me Jack totally heard me. I assured him he did not, as he was too busy reaching the end and winning to notice what I was saying.

Josh said it was just sour grapes on my part, as I was mad I didn't get the ice cream cone. Of course, with my next card, I landed on the licorice "lose a turn" and became even more pissed. Karmic justice apparently doesn't exist in the world of Candyland or it would have been Josh who drew that lot. That's OK. I can carry the burden silently.

But someday when Jack gets thrown out of college for forged SAT scores, we'll be able to tie it all back to this. And I will place the blame squarely on his father. I can safely tell him that I was an unwilling accomplice and only participated in this ruse because I felt threatened. Threatened by a rainbow road filled with candy and nuts.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nice change of pace

For all the time I spend pissing and moaning about how awful the sibling relations are in this house, I need to share some good news as well. For the last week, Jack has really calmed down. We have had several days without any hitting or violence at all. We've had lots of sharing and playing nicely and tickling and kisses.

I'm not sure what precipitated this change. It could be the spankings I administered (I jest! No spanking here.) or the change in the weather, allowing us to get outside and get a lot more fresh air. It could be him chilling out a little or me paying more attention to everyone and heading off negative energy before it manifests itself as a problem.

I don't mind saying I don't know what changed. But I am thrilled and pleased with the way things are going.

You can check out my soon-to-be-published parenting book, "How to Get Your Kid To Stop Hitting His Sister Without Knowing What You Did," at a bookstore near you soon. It will include little gems like, "Offer a special snack if he withdraws his hand from a fist" and "Go to the park, even if it's raining, if you suspect aggression is running high."

Best-seller, for sure.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This is what passes for a post these days

I was so bored this morning that I packed both kids up and drove to Target. We didn't need anything, but I just couldn't stomach the thought of sitting in this house one more minute.

When your day starts at 6:30 a.m, you are out of ideas by 10 a.m. We had already watched a video (that's upon awakening these days), eaten breakfast, gotten dressed, played with toys, read books, made a quilt and solved the nuclear proliferation problem.

The park was an option, but we couldn't stay there for two hours, so I decided to use that as my bribe for good behavior at the store. Except before we even left the driveway, that was taken away because Jack decided to crawl into the front seat and play with the automatic gate-opener instead of getting into his carseat.

Listening to the wail of lament from the backseat the entire drive, I had second thoughts about our outing. "But I waaaant to gooooooo to the paaaaark." But I would not be deterred! This is Target, damn it. They have Starbucks AND Pizza Hut. And cute little kids' shorts for $4. How can you beat $4 shorts? You can't.

We wandered around for a while, I picked up some Oxyclean, Jack tried to convince me he needed a brush (What? You don't even have enough hair to comb.) and Emmie kept turning around in the seat and hitting Jack in the head. I heard a grown man drop the F-bomb in the toy department (dude, check your audience) and played cart-chicken in the baby bath product aisle with another mom who looked just as weary as I did.

When Jack stood up and tried to climb out of the cart, I bid a fond farewell to the red-dot and drove slowly home. We had burned a whole hour, including travel time and a stop to pick up mail at our old house.

If it wasn't for Jack, we could have totally gone to the park and had fun. Instead we had to go home and stare at each other for another 30 minutes before it was time for lunch. We did each other's hair too, since I got suckered into buying a new brush.

Doesn't this make you want to be a stay-at-home mom? Action! Adventure! Thrills! We've got it all -- and all before noon.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New meaning to "grab me a cold one"

Yesterday afternoon, the kids and my mom and I were all playing in the living room after naptime when Jack announced he wanted his milk. Because he is growing about an inch a day lately, he can now reach the shelf in the fridge and get his own cup. This is no small feat, as we have a lower freezer door, making the shelf a pretty good stretch for him, but it makes it a lot easier for me to not have to get up off my ass and get his cup for him. Score!

He ran over and opened the door and his movements caught Emmie's attention. She toddled on in to see what was going on and was delighted to find the refrigerator open. She so enjoys checking out the goods and likes the cool breeze on her face. I think she's secretly trying to figure out how to get to the wine, but I'll worry about that when she's taller.

As she walked around the door, I saw Jack get that look in his eye. You know the one, every kid has it. The look that says nothing good can come out of what is about to transpire.

He let her walk a little closer to him and then even guided her in a little closer with his hand on her back. And then he slammed the door on her head.

I screamed and ran the three feet to the fridge where he was standing with a smile on his face and she was sucking air to begin the loudest scream I have ever heard. I grabbed her and told him to get out of the room -- NOW. I was so shaken up by his behavior that I just sat and held Emmie for a few seconds, contemplating what to do.

Immediately after she calmed down, I held him in my lap and asked him why on earth he would have done such a thing? What was he feeling inside when he did that? Didn't he know that was not nice and very dangerous and that he hurt Emmie very badly?

He didn't care. He just laughed and tried to run away from me. My next move was to the computer, where I Googled "violent 3-year-old" and got nothing helpful.

It was then that I noticed a raised, red scratch running from Emmie's ear, down her neck, all the way around to the back of her head. Then I got super pissed. I took her downstairs to show Josh, who told me perhaps I should have been watching them more closely. I'm sorry -- what?

I attended a discipline seminar today and asked specifically what you are supposed to do when your 3-year-old slams your 15-month-old's head in the refrigerator door. The therapist said to calm the child who was hurt and then tell the other child that we don't do that and it's not acceptable. Then, you drop it. No time-out, no yelling, no threats.

Clearly those things have not been working for us either. But how do you let your older one beat the living hell out of your younger one without punishment? How does he learn consequences if all you do is shake your head and say, "No, no. We don't hit. How about a hug?"

Clearly I am simplifying. They say that kids this age are so caught up in wanting their autonomy and imagine someone ordering you around all day and night, telling you when to sleep and when to eat and when to leave the park and when to use the bathroom. You might get pissy too, but at least you have the words to express yourself and to identify your emotions. They don't. Hence, the hell of raising a 3-year-old. So they recommend giving as many choices as possible, being empathetic and redirecting anger when it flares. They believe time-outs only work because you are demonstrating you are bigger and stronger than they are. And in the end, they can't differentiate between bad behavior and being a bad person. So they see time-out as something that happened because they are a bad person.

So let's see: no time-out, no yelling, no sending him to his room (they said that will only make his attention-grabbing antics escalate) and no threatening. That's all I got, folks. That's my parenting bag of tricks. Have any of you had experience -- good or bad -- with Positive Discipline or Gentle Discipline? Please do share!

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nothing phases him

To welcome Daddy back from his snowboarding mancation last night, we decided to dine at Jack's very favorite restaurant, Chipotle. Because it was rather nice out, we walked the short distance with Emmie in the stroller and Jack on his tricycle.

Because someone woke Emmie up by screaming and running down the hall in front of her room, she only slept 45 minutes and was a wee bit cranky by dinnertime. But we soldiered on because a cranky Emmie means she might get a little screechy, but by no means does she ever lose her shit and melt down. She's cool like that. So we knew we could trust her to hold it together and eat nicely. But we also knew we would have to make it fast so we could get her home and into bed early.

Mr. I Don't Want To Peddle My Tricycle suddenly decided he was Lance Armstrong and was taking forever as he tried out the steering. I finally snapped at Josh to just push. the. damn. BIKE. I gave him the stroller and grabbed the handle myself, popped a wheelie and got us going. Which of course set off a round of howling from the rider of said bike who insisted he neeeeeeeeded to peddle. Ahh, no.

But did we turn back? Hell no. I wanted a burrito. I would not be deterred.

Usually our Chipotle nights wind up with a stop at Petco on the way home so Jack can check out the animals. It also works well as a bargaining chip because we can hold it over him to cajole good behavior at the table.

We figured things could be a little dicey based on his behavior on the way there, but for most of dinner, he kept himself in good standing with a few gentle reminders about the pet store. Unfortunately for him, he threw his cup across the restauarant right before we left, which resulted in the pet store privilege being revoked. Which resulted in Jack losing his shit in Chipotle. Which resulted in Josh dragging a screaming 3-year-old to the door while I said hello to a friend.

The hits just kept on coming at home when he wasn't listening after his bath and deciding that hitting Mommy was a good choice. We told him he would only be able to read one book instead of two books and he kicked me, which resulted in me saying, "No books now."

He then shrugged his shoulders and started reciting, "In the great green room, there was a telephone..." Nope, he didn't care that we took away his book because he has the whole thing memorized anyway.

I literally had to cover my face with the pajamas in my hand because I could not stop laughing. Josh was trying to keep a straight face and had to turn away. We're in big, big trouble when this one is a teenager.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

At my wit's end

I heard all about how the Terrible 3s are the new Terrible 2s. About how awful 3 is because the child, he has an opinion and the need to express it and the ability to express it. Couple that with the insistence on doing everything himself from putting on his shoes (thank you Velcro) to brushing his own teeth (hello, tooth decay) to deciding how many minutes he will play before gracing us with his presence at the table ("One minute, Mommy, one minute") to getting in his own carseat (which only happens after he first crawls in the front seat and opens the passenger door and raises my blood pressure 75 points) and you have a recipe for Mommy Meltdown.

Three might kill me.

Oh the battles we have had lately. A perfect example: Jack fools around before naptime with the same routine everyday. We go upstairs and he morphs into Devil Child on the way up the stairs. He starts laughing and runs into the bathroom, slamming the door. He runs the length of the room to the tub and then emits a high-pitched scream. I ask him nicely to get on the potty and he runs by me, screaming, out into the hall. I pick him up and bring him back in the bathroom, where he goes noodle on me and refuses to stand up. I end up pulling his pants off and telling him to stand up and get on the potty. He refuses. I pick him up and put him on, but he slides off screaming, "NO, JACK DO IT." After he refuses again, I pick him up and take him in his room where I start to put his naptime diaper on him. He then freaks out and says "Pee potty! Pee potty!" so I take him back in the bathroom and he finally climbs on and does the job. Washing hands is more of the same, and ends with me physically pinning him between me and the counter and shoving his hands under the water. After that, he runs into his room and I finally get him in bed.

At the end of this 10-minute process, I am exhausted physically and mentally. I can't keep butting heads with him all day and I am coming to the realization that I am never going to win the battle with a 3-year-old. This is the boy who chanted, literally nonstop, for 90 minutes at naptime, "Mommy come in." He has a one-track mind and will not be deterred.

I can't take it anymore. It's like this with almost everything we do. I have tried everything: reward charts, timeouts, positive reinforcement, 1-2-3 Magic. Nothing works. They say to be consistent, but it's hard to be consistent when you don't see results. When your child laughs at you and runs out of timeout for the fifth time in three minutes, you just feel defeated. Ditto with him checking the reward chart to see if he has one more star to waste on some bad behavior before whalloping his sister. (Yes, he actually looked at the damn chart to see if he could get away with something and still watch a video. It's scary the forsight he used.) I spend the timeouts either threatening him to get back on the mat/in his room or holding him in my lap or holding the door shut. And it's not fair to Emmie to take attention away from her when she didn't do anything wrong so I can make sure his punishment is being meted out correctly.

I need advice. But I don't need to hear: "I guess my kid just has an easygoing personality because he never misbehaves." Or, "I just give him lots of extra hugs and attention and that solves the problem." Or, "I give her a good whack on the backside and she doesn't backtalk me no more."

Please. If there's anyone out there going through this or on the other side of it looking back with sympathy, just tell me what to do. I am desperate.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kick me when I'm down

Jack has this new awesome trick where he loses his mind and runs around like a maniac before naptime. Getting him on the potty, washing hands and into bed is torture. Really. This could be used on prisoners to obtain information.

Today he added the fantastic element of kicking me in the face. One minute I was getting his pullup on him and the next, his foot connected with my chin. Hard. It brought tears to my eyes and a yell to my throat.

I raised my voice to a decible he has never heard before and you know what he did? He laughed at me.

Who does that? Who gets screamed at mere inches from his face and just laughs?

Serenity now, serenity now.

Labels: ,

Friday, January 23, 2009

I still like you Daddy

Tonight Jack previewed what life is going to be like in approximately 10 years around these parts.

Being almost 3, he is a curious boy who has a problem controlling his impulses. You can see the conflict on his face when presented with the choice of not hitting his sister or losing his video time. In almost every case, he chooses to hit her because he just can't stop himself. I forget this lack of impulse control more often than I should and am trying to be more mindful of allowing his 3-year-oldness to shine through.

This evening, I had to go out to buy diapers while Josh was giving Emmie her bath. Jack was watching his nightly video when I left, which usually means he is glued to the couch and can be trusted to stay out of trouble. He came upstairs at one point and Josh asked if he was done watching his video. He said no and went back downstairs. With a new Diaper Genie refill in his possession. One his father did not see him pick up.

When I arrived home, it smelled powdery-fresh throughout the house. I found a snaking pile of green plastic all over the living room carpet and a dark television screen. I walked upstairs and said, "I don't even want to know."

Josh said he heard the noise but didn't realize what it was until it was too late. Jack had pulled the entire length of plastic out of the container, ruining the contraption and rendering it unusable. As he was cutting the TV time short and taking a sobbing toddler upstairs for punishment, Jack told Josh, "No like daddy. Like Mommy."

Talk about a knife to the heart. You expect it at 13. Hell, you probably deserve it by 13 for all the terrible, mean things you have inflicted upon your child. But at almost 3? Poor Daddy.

And no, not even a little part of me was secretly glad to be the favorite. I felt genuinely sad for him. He said it didn't bother him, but it would have bothered me. I know Jack's just testing us to make sure the love is unconditional, and it certainly is, but it's still hard to hear. And I know that in the blink of an eye, his allegiance could switch to Daddy and he could leave me in the dust.

But oh my, if this is his reaction to losing TV time, I can't imagine what we are in for when it comes to things like bad grades and sneaking out of the house.

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Advice needed please

A parenting dilemma: Jack started crying/screaming that he had to poop on the potty right as I was putting him to bed tonight. He was so insistent that I let him go to the bathroom.

We then sat there for over an hour while he tried, unsuccessfully, to get the job done. I feel like he was being sincere, but maybe couldn't do it for some reason. He's never pooped on the potty, despite being totally out of diapers during the day since July 4.

Josh got home at 9:15 p.m. and said he wouldn't have let it go longer than 10 minutes. I told him he could have a go at it then, if he was so smart. He gave him to the count of five, picked him up and put him to bed. Where he became lunatic-hysterical until I gave him one more chance, then put him back to bed myself. Within two minutes, he was asleep.

So, have we just set him back in the quest for full potty training? Or was it all a ploy to delay his bedtime?

Labels: , ,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

He's a little runaway

Several times a week, I take the kids out for lunch. Sometimes with other moms and their kids, sometimes just us. Today we were out running errands after school and as we started to head home, Jack asked in a little voice from the backseat, "Out eat Mommy?"

I was all set to give him almond butter and jelly at home, but since he asked nicely and he was well-behaved in the stores, I said we could stop. Plus we were right across the street from a Corner Bakery and I love me some reuben.

It was pushing past naptime, but I figured I could feed him and get him straight into bed when we got back. Either way, he needed to eat. But I should have known when we walked in the door and he started touching everything in sight that we should have just gone home. That would have precipitated a tantrum of epic proportions, and I just didn't want to deal, so I started bribing him.

"If you don't stay with Mommy, no Elmo tonight." That brought about the desired effect for about 15 seconds. Then he was off to the races again.

I finally got the lunch ordered and everyone settled into a booth. I fed Emmie with one hand and ate my sandwich with the other while I kept up a constant stream of "Jack, sit down. Jack, turn around. Jack stop touching that. JACK. Jack, I am going to put you in a high chair if you don't turn around and sit down right now."

We are a pleasure to sit near, let me tell you.

After I was finished and he was done eating the inside of a grilled cheese sandwich, I got his coat on him and then turned to put Emmie's on. In the split second that I reached for her coat he ran away from the table to a door three feet away. A heavy door. One that I was almost sure he could not open, but still used my very stern Mommy voice to hiss, "Get back here NOW."

He looked back at me and then opened the door and ran out. Literally ran away from me. I ran after him, catching him by the arm three steps from the parking lot and dragged him back inside. He, of course, was cackling. I, of course, was shaking.

I sat him down and made him look me in the eye while I told him he is never, ever supposed to run away from Mommy because he could get hurt very badly. I think I was about an inch from his face when I was saying it.

Poor Emmie, she was just dumped in her high chair while all of this went down, staring at us like we were crazy. Another mom asked if I needed any help, and I smiled and said no, thank you. I think I have the "almost letting my kid run into a parking lot" parenting technique all wrapped up by myself, thankyouverymuch.

Apparently I should go with the Josh approach to dining out with the kids alone: just don't.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Boy behaving badly

Today could have been my single-most embarassing day as a parent.

We are in Peoria at my in-laws' house this week so the kids can see Josh after work. Today, my mother-in-law and I took the children to a department store so I could shop for shoes.

I have written about the hell that is shoe-shopping with the kids before, but suffice it to say I did it once by myself and I would rather walk barefoot over hot coals before doing it again.

So I brought reserves with me. I tried on a few pair and didn't find anything I really liked, and we admittedly might have stretched it a wee bit too long. To pass the time, Grandma gave the kids some books to look at in the stroller. Emmie thought hers resembled a sandwich, so she tried to gum it into oblivion. Jack's made music and he was grooving on it, so all was well.

Until we reached the checkout.

DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN ... cue the foreboding music.

He somehow got Emmie's book in his hot little hand and didn't want to give it up. Not sure if he didn't want the clerk to touch Emmie's stuff or if he wanted to deny Emmie her purchase or if he felt we were being overcharged, but he lost his damn mind.

There was crying of real tears and the wrestling of the book from his hands and promises he would get it right back and finally I told him with a stern face that he needed to stop and act like a nice boy.

I handed the cashier the book, she rang it up and I handed it back to Jack.


I had to stop for a split-second because I didn't believe he really did it. Oh, but he did. He looked me in the eye and laughed.

I immediately grabbed him out of the stroller, put him in a timeout near the door and then marched him back to apologize to the woman. Which of course he didn't really do. But I did, profusely.

Abd then I took him to lunch, because I was hungry. Stellar parenting right there, isn't it? Throw shit at people and get rewarded with pasta. I will now slink off to the Bad Mommy corner.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nice boy! Nice boy!

Last night my mother-in-law and I made the mistake of taking Jack out to dinner. A few weeks ago, we took him with the whole family to a nicer place and it was a disaster of epic proportions that saw one half of this parenting team dragging a laughing/hitting/jello-legging toddler into the lobby and the other half sitting with same child in the car while everyone else shoveled food into his or her mouth in an attempt to get the hell out of there with a minimum of embarrassment.

Upon leaving that restaurant, I had aged 15 years and vowed that was the last time we were taking him anyplace besides Panera or Chipotle. But last night, I faltered in my reserve and was witness to some very nice behavior at the park, so I mistakenly thought I could trust him to handle it.

NOTE TO SELF: The toddler, he is the master of deception.

We arrive at the restaurant, J. Alexanders, and get both the kids situated in high chairs. I order Jack a grilled cheese and set about feeding Emmie her avocado and sweet potatoes. He takes three bites of his sandwich and flings his milk to the floor, screeching and trying to grab everything off the table. After several warnings, I told him we would be leaving and going home, where he would be going straight to bed. It was 6:20 p.m., but I was not backing down.

The waiter was literally bringing our food to the table at the moment I am dragging jello legs out of the high chair, so my mother-in-law gets the food to go and stays with Emmie while they pack it up.

If you were driving through Lincoln Park last night just before 6:30, that would be me you saw with the toddler who did nothing the whole way home but sob, "Nice boy! Nice boy! Jack nice boy!" over and over and over again. When we got home, I took his shoes off, marched him straight upstairs, put his pajamas on, read him his book and put him in bed.

I was downstairs by 6:30 p.m. and he was asleep by 6:40. He ended up sleeping 12 hours and was bright and chipper for oatmeal this morning.

Tonight, he kept unbuckling the straps on his carseat (a whole other post, but suffice it to say it raises my blood pressure by about 30 points every time he does it) and I told him if he did it again, we would have to go home. He looked me straight in the eye with a smile and said, "Right bed?"


Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Climbing Mount Criberest

When I left the kids with Josh this weekend, he came up with a few good ideas on how to improve the routine around here. Yes, I am openly admitting this. Write it down now, MY HUSBAND WAS RIGHT. You might never see that phrase written by me again, so savor it now.

Anyway, one was so awesome I can't even believe it and that is putting her in the swing when she wakes up at 6 a.m. We've done it every day since Saturday and we're getting her to sleep in and it is amazing. I had to wake her up at 9:30 this morning so we could get ready to go to a playdate. She slept until noon for Josh on Saturday and I shook my fist at the sky with insane jealousy when I heard that.

The second was also awesome -- in theory. He said he put Emmie down for the night around 7:30, before Jack. Jack would watch a video while he gave Emmie her bottle and got her settled in bed and it worked well for him. So I tried it tonight. And let me tell you, it was a craptastic experience.

Emmie was screaming from exhaustion around 7 p.m., so I took her upstairs and got her ready for bed and nursed her and put her down in her crib. Where her eyes promptly popped open and she started flailing around. After 15 replacements of the pacifier while I tried to get Jack to clean up his toys and into the bath, I thought she had fallen asleep. Oh but no, she was just houdini-ing out of her swaddle blanket and started yelling again.

Since Jack was in his pajamas, but we hadn't yet read "Goodnight Moon," I put him in his crib and told him I would be right back to read his book. I went in to tend to She Who Has A Future As A Magician, re-swaddling and sticking the pacifier back in her yapper. While I was gone for that two minutes, I could hear Jack wailing as if I had threatened to make him wear a New Kids On The Block T-shirt to the playground.

I entered his room to see one leg over the top and his body perched precariously on the top of the crib rail, teetering between falling back in or falling out. I grabbed him and told him he should never, ever do that again because it's dangerous and he could fall.

He was sobbing outwardly and I was sobbing inwardly because NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! He is not allowed to be climbing out of his crib. He loves his crib. I love his crib. He's contained and we don't have to worry about any wandering toddlers in the middle of the night and my God, I am having heart palpitations just thinking about naptime and the amount of times he would get out of a big boy bed.

I am going to pretend his little mountain climbing expedition was a result of being really pissed off and the light being on. I don't think he would attempt this feat in the pitch-blackness of night. I'm going to keep on telling myself this and invest in a crib tent.

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 28, 2008

The promised veggie video

I am back from San Francisco and had a great weekend. Apparently, so did Josh and the kids. I arrived home to find Josh sitting on the couch with a sparkling clean house, freshly scrubbed floors and all the laundry for the four of us washed and folded. Can I go away every weekend?

Josh promised some video of Jack eating his veggies, so without further ado...

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Daddy's Back

11:30 am

Yes, Daddy's back. And this time he's alone... with the two kids. Amy is off to San Francisco leaving Daddy to fend for himself... and before she left she gave strict instructions to both sets of Grandparents that absolutely no help is to be given to me. None.

First of all, this won't be the anything like my live-blog of Emmie's birth. You see, I had done that before - popping out a kid - and I have to tell you, there's nothing to it. I handled it like a champ the first time and was confident I could do it again coming in. You see, I consider myself an expert on birthing children. So, I was relaxed and could kick back and blog away knowing I had everything under control.

But this folks... this is unchartered territory. Me and the two kids alone for the weekend? I have to tell you, I don't think I stand a chance. They will have me tied up and bound with a sock in my mouth shoved in the closet within a few minutes. The oddsmakers in Vegas only have me lasting 10 minutes, but I've still got a little speed left in these legs, I'm pretty sure I make it 15.

2:00 pm

OK - that last post - all lies. I wrote that to make Amy feel good because I know she wants to think this is going to be hard for me. She is ALWAYS filling me in on how tough it is taking care of two kids at once and how she never has any free time and how I could never do it. Two kids? Two! My buddy Vince has six kids with a seventh on the way and his wife handles the whole lot of 'em. Seven kids! Can you imagine???

If that was Amy and I with seven kids, I'd be like "Amy, you know, I haven't seen little Scotty in a few days. Did we lose him?"

And she'd be like "You know, I haven't seen him. I think we did."

And I'd be like "That's cool though. We got six more, so we're still good."

So anyway, back to my little weekend arrangement. No problems... it's going to be cake folks, cake. Both kids are currently napping away. I could do this entire weekend with one hand tied behind my back.

2:15 pm

As a matter a fact, what the heck, I will do this entire weekend with one hand behind my back... literally. Because I'm pretty sure Amy uses two hands which means I should be able to handle it with one. I have tied my right arm behind my back for the duration of the weekend. And I'm right-handed. Cake.

2:30 pm

Wow, Amy never mentioned all the free time you have when staying home with the kids. With both still asleep, what should I do? I guess I'll scrub the floors and do some laundry.

5:00 pm

OK, have you ever tried to change a diaper with only one arm? It's damn near impossible. Poop all over. Actually, doing any multi-tasking with the kids is pretty much out of the question. Holding Emmie, while feeding Jack? Not happening. Hey, I lasted like one hour taking care of the kids with one arm. I still rule.

8:00 pm

Both kids asleep. More free time. What to do? Already did the laundry and cleaned the house. I guess I'll call Amy and ask her if I can do anything for her as I know that's what she would do for me when she has free time.

11:00 pm

Emmie wakes up hungry. I feed her and she is back in the crib sleeping by 11:30.

1:30 am

The unsolicited phone call from the drunk wife wakes me up. There is some laughter and stories about the evening, none of which I try to comprehend. Once I can get a word in, I tell her that I was in fact sleeping and would love to hear the stories tomorrow.

I'm pretty sure this call was her conspiring to make this weekend more difficult by waking me up. Honey please, you forget who you're dealing with. You're going to have to do better than that sister.

2:00 am

Emmie is up again. Fed and back in her crib she sits and coo's to herself for about a half hour, until 3:00 am when she starts whining. I bring put her in the swing in our room. She is out in 10 minutes.

6:30 am

Emmie is up and hungry again. I feed her and she lays next to me in bed cooing for another 45 minutes after the feeding. At 7:30 with Jack still sleeping, I put her back in the swing as she begins to fuss. She is out again in 10 minutes.

8:00 am

Jack wakes up a full hour after his usual wake time. That's my boy. I give him a book to read in his crib and tell him Daddy is going to take a shower. I'm back 10 minutes later and I have to wrestle the book away from him as he'd rather stay in his crib with the book. Maybe I should have given it to him and slept another hour. Emmie is still sleeping in the swing.

10:30 am

Emmie is still sleeping, God bless her little heart. Jack and I did breakfast and have been playing like madmen since then. I read Jack one of his favorite books, Elmo's Book of Opposites, and we get to the page where there is a happy face and a sad face. Jack points to the happy face and says "Daddy". He then points at the sad face and says "Mommy". I laugh and say "yes, you have it right son, that's my boy." Now I'm sure Amy will point out that the sad face looks like a female and the happy face looks like a male, and that is why Jack labeled the faces the way he did. But I'm pretty sure its symbolic of Jack's happiness when he's around his father. Yeah, that's gotta be it.

11:30 am

Emmie is still sleeping. On last check, she was smiling and making sucking sounds as she slept. At this rate, Emmie should wake up as soon as Jack goes down for his nap. And Amy says this is hard? Cake.

12:00 pm

Emmie needs to wake up. We're having lunch with my buddy Matt and his daughter Lauren in a half hour. I open the door and she is acting restless in the swing, turning from side to side - a sign that she's about to wake up anyway. She slowly wakes up, I get her dressed, fed, and we're ready to go for lunch.

Emmie loves partying with Daddy.

Kicking back a cold one with Daddy.

NOTE: Don't worry folks, those beers aren't actually open. Except for Emmie's. That's her sixth one. What can I say, she just loves to get her drink on.

12:30 pm

Matt and I walk the kids over to PJ Clarks for a little lunch. The kids are great throughout the meal. Jack wolfs down two warm blueberry muffins that they bring to our table in a roll basket. I am skeptical as to whether he'll touch the grilled cheese after that, but he manages half of one while Matt's daughter Lauren attacks the other half. Emmie is in a great mood after her long nap and just being fed. Matt and I are happy to be out of the house sipping a couple of cold Fat Tires. This is the life.

2:00 pm

Both kids are napping again. More free time. Wow, taking care of two kids is a lot like a vacation. Except even more free time than vacation. What to do next? Maybe I'll add an addition to the house.

3:30 pm

Both kids are back up and its time to go out and take advantage of this beautiful sunny day. We head to the zoo for an hour and stop by the playground on the way home.

"Let's go back home an have another beer, Dad"

6:00 pm

Back at home for dinner and bedtime.

"Look at the size of those!"

NOTE: Get your minds out of the gutter - its a computer magazine folks. We're checking out of the size of the RAM you can put in a 64 bit system. Jack's just geeking out with Daddy.

8:00 pm

Kids in bed. More free time. Daddy's going to use this free time to take a little nap. Maybe a long nap.

12:00 am

Emmie wakes up, takes a bottle, and is back to sleep in her crib within 20 minutes.

4:00 am

See 12:00 am. As you may be starting to realize, you're not dealing with an amateur here, folks.

6:00 am

Emmie wakes up again after only two hours in her crib. When it's time for the swing, it's time for the swing. I give her half a bottle and she is asleep in the swing in 10 minutes.

7:20 am

King Jack awakens. We go through our normal routine. Emmie remains sleeping giving us plenty time for us to do breakfast, read some books, watch a Spanish video, do some rough-housing, and of course throw a couple of timeouts in there to even things out.

10:45 am

Emmie wakes up. I get her dressed and bring her down to feed her. Now some people like to greet others with a simple wave, or maybe even a handshake. Not my son. Jack greets Emmie with a whack across the forehead which lands him right back in timeout. Despite being a repeat-offender, I bailed him out after 2 minutes.

11:30 am

We're pretty lucky in that we have one Major League baseball team here in Chicago. Some people get confused thinking there are two, but I assure you there is just one - it's on the south side - the White Sox. Now I'm a Cardinal fan, but can't often make it down to St. Louis for a game (although thankfully Amy and I were there when they clinched their 2006 World Championship). At the same time, I still appreciate a good baseball game and was able to nab a couple tickets 6 rows from the field off of ebay last night for $20. So I made some lunches for the kids and we headed over to the "Cell" to see the Orioles take on the White Sox. We could only stay until the 3rd inning, as even Major League Baseball takes a backseat to nap time, but we did manage to see a Paul Konerko homerun along with some fireworks. Emmie conked out for most of the game. Jack was more interested in the seats that flip up when you're not seated in them, although the fireworks did excite him.

2:00 pm

Jack is down for his nap. Time for Emmie and Daddy to play. Emmie does some tummy-time and gives Daddy some big smiles. She eventually wears out and joins her brother in nap-land.

3:30 pm

You know, one thing I've noticed about the kids over the past couple of days, is that they are carbon generating machines. Sometimes I notice them sitting there smiling, trying to look cute, when I know that they're really just trying to cover up the fact that they're producing carbon emissions with little care about global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps - which really surprises me by the way because Jack just loves Polar Bears. You'd think he'd be a little more sensitive.

Obviously, Amy must have noticed the same thing but just did nothing about it. Not this guy. I decided I would not let this continue unfettered without doing something to equalize their pollution. So I just went over to and bought enough offsets to make them carbon neutral for an entire year.

So next time Amy asks me to change Jack's diaper, I'll be like "Dude! I already took care of his carbon emissions for the entire year. The least you could do is handle diapers from here on out." I think that will work. She will totally go for that.

4:00 pm

Emmie is back up and hungry. She is delighted that breast milk is on the menu and orders up 3 ounces.

5:30 pm

I wake Jack up, as his nap is going a little late. I know he just wants to give Dad a longer break, but he's gotta eat some dinner.

6:00 pm

Jack never used to eat vegetables. I mean, the kid wouldn't touch them. He was throwing them onto the floor before they even hit his high chair tray. Never, that is, until Amy came up with the "I bet you can't eat one" game. Ever since then, well have a look for yourself: (video will be posted tomorrow)

I can't wait for "I bet you can't vacuum the house" and "I bet you can't mow the lawn".

7:00 pm

I put Emmie down for the night as Jack watches an Elmo DVD. Jack is currently the President of the Elmo fan club and just can't get enough of him.

8:00 pm

Jack's in bed. Well with the kids asleep, I can finally say this weekend was, as I've been saying all along, cake. But I have to give thanks to a special someone out there who I absolutely could not have done this without. Someone for whom I hold a special place in my heart. Someone who has been going underappreciated for far too long. That, of course, is the one and only baby swing. If it weren't for the swing keeping Emmie sleeping until the late morning every day, things would have been quite a bit more interesting. With the mornings free with just Jack, I was able to devote a lot of time to him while handling other chores - such as washing and readying six bottles of breast milk for the day. By the time she woke up, it was time for lunch and then time for Jack's nap - which was perfect to devote some time to Emmie. Anyway, everything worked out pretty well.

And I must admit, I'm wiped out. I thought it was relatively easy, but they still took a lot out of me. The free time I claimed I had so often never lasted as long as I hoped. And no matter what time it is, you never know when that baby monitor is going to starts shrieking with some kid on the other end - a kid that always seems to be one of mine. You can never fully relax. I don't know how Amy does it. Two days with a little luck thrown in was pretty easy. But she deals with them day in and day out. I love my kids to death, but how she does it, I do not know. She is a saint. Honey, you're the greatest.

And I'm not saying all this just because she's letting me go to Europe to visit my buddy Ed for a week. Maybe.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Alone, all alone

Monday, my dear sweet husband returned to work. Two hours away. Overnight. And left me alone with the two children.

To say I was apprehensive was putting it a little mildly. I knew in my head I could -- had -- to do it. But I was still scared. How would I ever get everyone up and fed and out of the house? How would I keep Jack from destroying things while I was chained to the couch, feeding Emmie? How would I find time to surf the Internet for celebrity gossip for God's sake? We have to have some priorities here.

I am proud to report that things went better than I expected. Although when you keep your expectations ridiculously low, you really can't have things go badly now can you?

Josh kissed Emmie and I goodbye at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. and Jack woke me up again around 8:30. Of course Emmie woke up right then and needed a boob, so he had to wait in his crib for a few minutes. But I somehow got him up and fed and got her up and fed and then I had to take a shower myself, which I did with the help of a video! No, not a how-to video. A Spanish language video for Jack. He watched that and didn't move a muscle and I put Emmie in the swing upstairs and somehow got myself and her ready. Then I got Mr. Jackson dressed and we were all out the door and at his music class right on time. Score one for Mommy!

Since we were already out, I decided to return something to Target and then run to Babies R Us. A little aggressive for our first day alone, you might be thinking. But I had to do it sometime, so I forged ahead.

Thinking we would only be a second in Target at customer service, I did not grab a cart. It was two feet from the entrance and there was a nice bench for Jack to sit on. But of course he did not want to sit. He wanted to stand in front of the sliding doors and make them open and shut. And open and shut. And FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP MAKING THE DOOR OPEN AND SHUT AND HOLD MOMMY'S HAND. Which prompted him to become a noodle and fall writhing to the floor. A woman and her adult daughter actually laughed at me. Thanks, I needed that. I waited for him to get a handle on himself and tried to pretend like I didn't care and wasn't paying attention and he did eventually get up and walk out to the car.

At Babies R Us, I learned my lesson and took a cart. After wandering around for a few minutes, Emmie notified me that she needed to eat. She did not, alas, send a registered letter. Instead she shrieked at the top of her lungs. So I wheeled them over to the mother's room so I could feed her. Jack thought the mother's room was awesome because there were two changing tables with stacks of diapers he could take down and throw at me. Thanks, buddy! But I don't need them right now.

After bribing him away from the non-babyproofed electrical outlet with a bag of Cheerios, I had a some relative peace. Of course said Cheerios were falling on the floor with alarming frequency, so he just decided to eat them off the floor. Since I was playing zone defense, I decided to just let him be. A little dirt and road salt and dust never hurt anyone did it?

After feeding Emmie and finally shopping and checking out, it was time to head home for lunch and a much-needed nap. For everyone. But first, I had to get them in the car. I dropped Emmie's seat into the base on the driver's side and came around to put Jack in his seat. Because it was 90,000 degrees below zero wind chill, I lifted him into the car to expedite the process. Which caused "Toddler Freakout 2008: Now With More Cowbell" to ensue. He's arching his back and sliding out of his car seat and sobbing big fat tears and I am trying to shove him back up and get the straps secured, but of course I am standing outside in the freezing cold and getting increasingly more pissed. I actually told my toddler, "I am NEVER taking you ANYWHERE again. Get in your seat NOW!" Which you know, worked really well. Not.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with a playdate with two friends and dinner prep, the eating of dinner and bathtime and then just as I thought it would quiet down, Emmie decided she was going to be awake with Mommy for a few hours. Which was awesome, because we never really get to spend quality one-on-one time with her when Jack is playing with us. But also meant I had to eat my dinner with a plate perched above her head while she was eating.

It was finally bedtime for Mommy and just when I thought things were calm, Emmie puked all over me, herself and my bed. All over the sheets, the down feather bed, my pajamas and her pajamas. That would be the second night in row, for those scoring at home, that I have been puked upon by my infant. So I change her, change myself, strip the whole bed, throw the feather bed in the hallway to dry, start laundry and finally fall back into bed -- a hard uncomfortable bed sans feathers -- at midnight.

And that my friends, sums up the first day of Parenting v2.0.

But here was the face I was looking at. How can you be mad about puke with this face?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Not a good day

Number of times Jack smacked Emmie: 4 (all within 10 minutes)

Number of times Jack hit Emmie with a broom: 1 (he reached over the pack-n-play to poke her, right in the eye too)

Number of times Jack hit Daddy: 1 (during dinner, with a spoon; dinner ended quickly thereafter)

Number of times Jack dropped a lamp on Mommy: 1 (before naptime, on the head)

Number of times Mommy lost her shit with Daddy today: Too many to count (SERIOUSLY)

Number of keys Jack pulled off Daddy's brand-new laptop: 2 (of course, Mommy's fault, see above)

Number of times Emmie cried and insisted on being held: 27 (approximately every time we tried to put her down)

Number of inches of slush and snow Mommy shoveled: 3 (it was early on during the storm)

Number of beers Mommy consumed at the end of the day: 1 (and it should have been more)

Labels: , , ,