Thursday, November 3, 2011

Alone, but in the same boat

The other day Zoey climbed in bed with us at 4:00am.  Nothing unusual there, happens all the time.  But on this particular early morning she brought a book with her.  This was no cute little board book, picture book or even a Junie B. Jones.  No, she brought in a thick paperback and when Greg tried to take it away from her (thinking it was the book from my bedside table), she threw a fit.  Turns out it wasn't Clash of Kings, it was Your Baby's First Year - one of those doctor's office freebies I got while pregnant with her.

What is she trying to tell us?  Even though she's out of her first year, is she saying we need to some further training in our parenting?  I think probably so.  That's the message I'm getting from the big kid, too. 

No one tells you how isolating parenting is.  Occasionally you see a parent in public with a kid having a giant meltdown.  I'm not talking about babies or even toddlers - everyone knows that's the way it goes with the wee ones - I'm talking about the big kids, the ones who should know better, the ones that have reached an age of reason.  For the most part, though, these things usually happen at home behind closed doors and you never remember when you're in the thick of it that you saw the same thing happen to someone else at the park or the mall.  You always think, "Why is this happening to me?  Why am I the only one with a kid who does this?  Why am I the only one who has no idea how to handle these situations with care and patience and magic?"

Yesterday during the midst of a meltdown from the big kid, she yelled something that I remembered a friend telling me her kid said when he was having meltdowns sometimes.  It was a bit of a comfort to know I wasn't alone, someone else had experienced this exact thing before me and they made it through intact.  That was my first thought but it was quickly followed by "I have to ask her how she deals with it, how she makes it better, how she turns the situation around."  She laughed at me when I told her I hoped she had an answer for me.  Of course, I'm not the only one who doesn't know all the answers or how to do it "right."  A friend commented on the blog, "Wendi, thanks for being so honest. We all need to hear that we are not alone in this crazy parenting thing we got ourselves into."  

That is an amazing comfort to hear.  Too bad it isn't followed by some practical, completely concrete and proven methods to deal with all this crazy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Statistics don't lie, but they leave things out

There is tons of information out there about the benefits of family dinners.  It's more likely that the family consumes healthier foods, more fruits and veggies, less fried foods and soda.  Young girls are less likely to have eating disorders.  Children are more likely to feel like their parents are proud of them, less likely to use drugs and more likely to get good grades.  This sounds fantastic.  But something you never see are the statistics about the effects of family dinners on the parents.  I'm sure this is because no good could come from studying it.

Our family dinners always involve at least one person crying about what's being served, at least two people fighting over who gets to lay out the forks versus the napkins, at least one person making a massive mess, at least two people telling very animated stories at one time, at least two people who cannot remain seated more than 90 seconds at a time, at least one person crying because they fell out of their chair, at least two people begging for dessert before any real food has been consumed, at least two people bickering loudly and at least one grown-up reaching their breaking point. 

There are times when all I can do is take my plate and fork, go to the kitchen and stand at the counter finishing my dinner because I just cannot take it anymore.  Since we have family dinners almost every night I feel sure my kids are going to be incredibly healthy, well-adjusted adult people someday but I fear I'll be drooling in my rocking chair on the porch of some state-run mental institution well before that ever happens.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Someday I'm going to miss this, right?

Lately being a good and tolerant parent has been very trying.  My oldest daughter is exasperating and exhausting.  She works hard at ruining every situation she is a part of.  Yesterday I took the three girls to the Second Sunday Market on Main St, as soon as we stepped out of the car Lorelei announced she was bored.  We stayed long enough for me to get some bread, let the little girls look at the water and listen to a multitude of complaints.

We piled back in the car and I took everyone to Meadowbrook Park where I had to force Lorelei to get out of the car.  She then spent the entire 45 minutes we were there closely following me and repeating, "Can we go home now? Can we go home now? Can we go home now? Can we go home now?"  I ignored her, gave no response.  I just continued to follow the little girls around making sure they weren't trying too many daredevil stunts (I did wonder what other parents were thinking of us, though).  Then she changed tactics and started bullying Violet, doing things to put her in danger on the monkey bars.  I was forced to acknowledge her behavior and sent her to sit on a bench.  Shortly after that we decided to go home for lunch - I was completely mentally and physically exhausted by the whole outing.

All that came on the heels of a giant meltdown that happened Friday night, nearly resulting in cancelling her plans for Saturday.  I gave her the opportunity to earn back the outing with her friend on Saturday and she did, but barely.  We were being very generous - it's so hard when another family is involved in the punishment, you don't want to also punish them by cancelling.  I was talking to her friend's mom (who was seeing similar behavior from her kid) and we both agreed that we really hoped it was some sort of early hormonal thing rearing its head and not the fact that we have rotten kids.  (We know we don't because each of us can report that the other's kid always behaves marvelously when they are away from their parents.)

There are a few nuggets from my childhood that surface every once in a while when I'm in the midst of some crazy parenting nightmare that make me think I'm being punished for all the terrible things I did to my parents.  I remember my father telling me when I was a kid, probably just a little older than Lorelei is now, "Just because you're in a bad mood doesn't mean you have to put every one else in a bad mood."  That is exactly how I feel.  I'm struggling with how to not let her tantrums affect my good mood. 

And then there's the bathing problem.  She refuses to bathe.  I'm going to have to start buying her deodorant so she doesn't start offending passing strangers.  Sigh. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I did not fall off the face of the earth.

I've been avoiding the blog lately.  The thing that has been looming largest in my life lately is not something I can write about publicly and it's been blocking out every other thought that I have when I have a moment to sit at the computer.  It's very frustrating.  So, to get out of the funk, I'm going to tell a few funny Violet stories.

I've mentioned before about Violet's penchant for fabulously clashing outfits and how I've given up on trying to guide her choices.  On the first semi-chilly day of fall Violet chose to wear a multicolored flowered skirt, multicolored striped leggings and a solid colored shirt (I was just relieved that we didn't have three different patterns) to school.  That same day I saw a little girl from a different class wearing something similar - patterned tights, patterned skirt, patterned shirt AND mismatched shoes!!  Her mother was taking a photo of her outside of the school.  I was overjoyed - someone else had a kid with quirky fashion sense.  After school we were hanging out on the playground and I was telling a mom friend about my joy at seeing this other little girl.  She laughed and said, "Oh - today was 'mismatch day' for that class!" 

One recent afternoon Violet was talking to Cinderella on her toy cell phone.  We were in the front yard waiting on Lorelei's bus and I wasn't really paying attention to her "conversation."  Until I heard her say something about the Prince's pointy red penis.  WHAT?!  Turns out this had been a topic of conversation with a neighbor kid who'd noticed our new kitten's pointy red penis.  I told her that it isn't really polite to talk about people's private parts, to which she replied, "Mo-om, it isn't even real."  I didn't ask if she was talking about penises in general or just the pretend Prince's penis. 

Costco has had Halloween costumes out for a while now and early last month Violet saw a mermaid costume (generic, but she thinks it's Ariel).  She fell in love with it and I just couldn't resist making her totally happy, so I bought it.  It is adorable (see photo) and the best $18 I've spent in a long time - or so I thought.  The headband that came with it is too small and squeeze's her head too much.  It's a cute headband, but really, it's totally unnecessary for a mermaid to have a headband, right?  Wrong.  Violet says that since the headband is too small she cannot be Ariel for Halloween.  Another $18 down the toilet.

Hopefully I'll be better about posting.  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 16, 2011

No justice no peace

Violet started preschool this week and I discovered what I've been missing all summer  - some kid-free moments during daylight hours when I still have enough energy to function.   Monday was a shortened day and involved me staying there the whole time for orientation, but Wednesday she started in earnest.  Granted the "full" day is only 2.5 hours, but Zoey naps and I have the WHOLE time to myself.

I feel like a new person, I feel like I am probably not going to drown.  I feel like my house might be semi-clean again someday soon.  And I might be able to blog a bit more often. 

If you are my Facebook friend you may have seen my post about Violet's library book, "How to Get Married by Me, the Bride."  The first few lines in the book go like this:
When you want to get married, first you have to find someone you can marry.  You can marry your best friend or your teacher or your pet or your daddy.
Children's books are so weird sometimes - another book she picked out on the same trip was "The Wicked Big Toddlah."  It's about a giant baby born in Maine.  But I digress - back to the marriage stuff.  Violet is obsessed with getting married and being a mommy.

Earlier this week, she asked me when she was going to get married.  I told her it would probably be best if she went to elementary school first - and then middle school, high school and college - but after that she could get married.  She shouted "Hooray!" then asked why she had to go to so much school.  I explained that there was a lot of stuff to learn and when she went to college she could learn about the kind of job she wanted to do - whether that was being a doctor or working at the aquarium or whatever.

She added, "Or being a Mommy?"  Hmmm, sure, honey.  "I'm going to go to college to have a baby!"  Oh, great.  When I told Greg about this conversation he said, "Well, I guess we're off the hook for 3 years of college tuition."

This morning she asked me if her kids will like pasta (something she has arbitrarily decided she now intensely likes, even though it used to be her favorite).  I told her that if there is any justice in the world, then no, they would not like pasta.  Greg said that means they definitely would like pasta.  Her response, "Mama, is there no justice?"

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A punch to the cups

While checking out at Target recently Violet was chatting with the grandmotherly clerk, going on and on about how her friend, Daniel, was five and he was going to start kindergarten, but she was going to go to four-year-old preschool - all very compelling stuff.  Then she switched to, "And my sister hits me."

The clerk glanced over at Lorelei, the bigger kid, and said, "Well, someday you'll be big and you'll be able to get her back."  I chuckled, pointed to little Zoey and said, "Oh no, she's talking about this one." The poor lady looked a little appalled and really had nothing to say about that.

Our Zoey's got a mean streak.  There doesn't even need to be any specific provocation.  You'd understand, if not condone it, if the littlest was fighting sibling injustice with her fists but she's more of a random acts of violence kind of girl.  The other day she threw her sippy cup on the dining room like she was spiking a football.  I told her "we don't throw our cups on the floor, please go pick it up."  With balled fists she said, "No!" then marched over and kicked the cup.

"Zoey, pick up the cup."

She shouted, "No!" and followed up with a punch to the cup.

"Zoey Alexandra, pick up the cup right now."

"No! I hit you!" And she did.

I'd like to say I handled it firmly, but gently and set Zoey on a course toward a peaceful, non-violent protest kind of future, but instead I giggled. She's probably gonna start punching more than cups.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's only just begun.

Summer ended with a bang - missing the first day of school thanks to Irene.  I know, technically summer isn't over, but school has finally begun - so I'm calling it the end.  And now the craziness begins. 

I swear I am not one of those parents who over-commits her kids.  I wasn't thinking clearly when I signed Lorelei up for soccer.  I loved playing soccer when I was a kid, LOVED it, I was super excited when she finally started showing interest in it and asked to play.  I did a little research, asked around and then signed her up for SAC's Rec U10 team.  My only reservation was that I had no idea when her practices or games would be before registering - she also takes ballet and jazz/tap.  Of course I now know that five of the ten soccer games begin at the exact minute that her ballet class ends on Saturday mornings - the only other day that ballet class is offered is on the day she has soccer practice.  ARGH.

And to complicate things a bit more, Nutcracker rehearsals for the production her dance school puts on every November start at the beginning of October...also on Saturday afternoons.  In the past her rehearsals have always been on Friday evenings, I didn't even think to factor that in.  Two of the eight soccer games coincide with those rehearsals - if you miss too many rehearsals, you don't get to be in the show.  I know what you're thinking - "Just don't do the Nutcracker this year."  I would love that.  This will be her seventh Nutcracker.  I used to really enjoy the Nutcracker, up until about five years ago.  Now I hate it.  But Lorelei loves it, I can imagine the meltdown that might happen during that conversation would get ugly.  Double and triple ARGH.

I have no idea what we are going to do.  I guess discover a system of teleportation or depend on magic. That's a solid plan, right?

I had hoped to sign the little girls up for gymnastics, but I think I'll put that off for at least a couple of weeks to make sure I can maintain my sanity.  Thankfully they can take those classes during the day and simultaneously, so we would only have to be in one place at one time. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

If wishes were horses, moms would step in the manure

No matter what, if you actually get something you covet for yourself, you always pay for it, most of the time a lot more than it's worth.

The other day I was feeling all hopped up on Mommy life, things were going well, a fun morning was had by all, then I posted this on Facebook:
Kid #1 at a friend's house, kid #3 down for a nap. Anxiously awaiting kid #2's accidental nap on the couch so I can catch up on the DVR'd stuff inappropriate for children.
Then it all went to hell.

Turns out kid #3 wasn't actually asleep.  She was playing in her bed and when she got tired of that she started yelling for me.  I ignored it, so she decided to just come on downstairs.  After putting her back in the bed she started crying and crying.  I've mentioned before that Violet (kid #2) has many-a-time cried so hard she puked; well, little sister is picking up the slack since she has stopped doing that.  I ran in, but too late, she threw up in her bed.  I lifted her out and sat her on the changing table where she continued to cry and puke.  I took off her clothes, rolled it all up in the filthy changing pad cover and sat her in the bathtub where she cried that she didn't want to take a bath.  Too bad - when there's puke in your hair, you take a bath.

Once she was clean and getting dressed she gave me this exhausted look and said, "Can I take a nap, now?"  like it was my fault that a nap hadn't happened yet.

Meanwhile, Violet had fallen asleep on the couch.  I don't know why I'm always excited when it happens - it's a short term joy.  I got an hour or so to myself but at 10pm when both of the little girls were still fighting bedtime, I wanted to kick myself for letting her fall asleep.

And then there's the big kid who came home from her friends' house tired and in a mood.  She wanted to go for a bike ride with me after dinner but my bike is out of commission awaiting repairs.  She got mad and yelled that she never gets any attention - we only pay attention to the little girls (she's partially right that they get more attention, but hey, she's the only one who can actually wipe her own ass after a poop).  She went on to yell at me about how I pawned her off on somebody else so that I could take the little girls to Build-a-Bear and it just wasn't fair. 

I nearly lost my frigging mind at that point.  That morning I gave her the option of going to her friend's house when they called, but told her what was already planned for the day.  SHE chose to abandon us, not the other way around.  More crying and drama followed so I did the only thing I could think of that didn't involve jail time for me - I put her to bed at 7:30pm. 

I dream that some day I will be able to make it through a whole day without longing to dissolve in tears in the closet.  Ah, crap, I never should've said that out loud, now something terrible is going to happen.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Picking up the poop

It's that magical time of summer when this stay-at-home mom starts to loose her frigging mind.  Too much together time plus not enough alone time equals lots of crazy.

Today Violet declared that it was "Pets Day".  I took it with a grain of salt - some days are "Pink Shirt Day" or "Blue Socks Day" - so I just assumed that we were going to be carrying around a set of stuffed animals that were her pets.  No, that was not it at all.  She totally expected that we would be picking out a puppy today. 

Our last cat died a while ago and the kids have been begging for a dog.  I am so not interested in having three kids (one still in diapers) and a dog in our townhouse.  I don't want to take care of another living thing right now - especially not a dog.  I would be all in for a new cat - they are so much easier than dogs, but my husband is allergic to cats and is enjoying living without one for the first time since we moved in together in 1997.

I had to explain to Violet that, despite it being "Pets Day," we would not be getting a puppy today.  Grand theatrical crying ensued.  "But whhhhhhyyyyyyyy?"  I was really trying to be gentle with her, I gave her all that crap that parents tell their kids about the great responsibility that comes with being a pet owner.  Dogs are a lot of work and that Mommy was already pretty busy taking care of three little girls.  You have to feed dogs, walk them and pick up their poop.  On and on. 

She was very thoughtful about it.  She said, "Well, I could feed it and walk it.  And Lorelei - you could pick up the poop!"  Problem solved. 

Still, we did not get a dog.  Luckily though, I have been informed that tomorrow is also Pets Day.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I have a new mission for Ponce de Leon

My oldest just spent a week at "Aunt Heather Camp" - she visited my sister and her family in North Carolina.  This is the third summer of "camp" - I meet my sis halfway and hand Lorelei off; then we usually plan a visit for the whole family the following week.  My sister always raves about how wonderful Lorelei is - so polite and helpful and gets along so well with her cousins.  This time while we were there, she even used Lorelei as an example to my six-year-old nephew, "See, Lorelei always takes her plate to the kitchen without being asked." 

Who is this child and why can't she live with me?

In the car yesterday, about 30 minutes into the 7.5 hour drive home, Lorelei says, "How long have we been driving?  When are we going to get there?"  The child knows how to tell time, she's been on this route at least four times a year for the past 7 years - she knows the deal, so it was just all about pushing buttons.  Next she was bored, then hungry, then had a stomach ache, then a headache.  All offers of books, games, movies, snacks or suggestions on how to feel better were met with sighs, eye rolls and yelling, "That won't work!"

Today she had some friends over (I was technically babysitting, but they are close friends that she loves to play with).  She was a complete pill.  After lunch I gathered everyone up to go to the park.  I thought I'd run them around, make 'em sweat then take them to Rita's for a treat.  As soon as we got there Lorelei started in with, "it's hot, this place is boring, can I sit in the car?, can we go home?"  She climbed on a fence directly beside the large sign that said "No climbing on fence."  She picked fights with me, her friends, her sisters and basically badgered me until I gave up and left the park.  We did not go to Rita's (she even did a little sarcastic fist pump along with a "Yes!" when I told her no Rita's).

Then, this afternoon when I was trying to get Violet to wake up from her unauthorized 5pm nap, Lorelei was super helpful and sweet.

What gives?  I guess it's because she got her way, I gave in and left the park before I was ready.  She pushes me and pushes me (she does it to her dad, too) until I can no longer remain calm.  She just does not know how to back down.  She has to have some sort of giant blow up to act as the reset button. 

I hate that.  I don't want to lose my cool, I don't want to yell, I don't want to punish.  By the end of the park visit she was grounded from computer and TV through Sunday.  And it didn't work.  I kept very calmly adding days and she just kept pushing until I lost it. 

Forget finding the Fountain of Youth, can someone please tell me where the Well of Patience is hidden?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Husband v. Boyfriend

The other day my husband told me he'd had an interesting conversation with Violet (age 4).  She was asking him about husbands/wives versus boyfriends/girlfriends and wanted to verify that a boyfriend is a different person than a husband.  He was confused so she explained that Mommy had a boyfriend that wasn't Daddy.  At this point he came looking for me.

After some laughing, we worked out that she was talking about the flower delivery guy.  For our anniversary (back in May) Greg had flowers delivered to the house.  It was a Saturday, so we were all at home.  I jokingly said, "Oh - they must be from my boyfriend!"  Poor Violet must have been trying to work this out for a while now.

Clearly, if I ever do get a boyfriend I'm going to have to be more careful.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Debt, Schmebt

We are not people who have to have every new electronic toy as soon as it comes out.  We only have one really old non-HD, non-flat panel TV, one computer, no laptop, no smart phones, not even a GPS in our cars.  The oldest kid has an old DS and an iPod touch - only because someone else gave them to her - and we (sort of) have a Wii.

It's not a moral stance we've taken - we're not opposed to electronics or anything.  I guess there are a variety of reasons - not the least of which is financial.  Most of the time it just isn't a priority in our budget.

But a few things have happened recently that may require a budget adjustment.  The DVD player died or more accurately, was murdered by the two-year-old.  Lightning struck the ground outside our house and knocked out our router (Verizon provided a new one), the cordless phone (bought a replacement already) and the Wii (bought a new adapter cord, but that didn't really fix it - really hating the idea of having to buy a new one).  And yesterday, as I was driving back from meeting my sister in Lexington, VA, I got lost.  Well, I was just paying too much attention to my "all alone in the car sing-a-long to my own music" to realize that I'd passed my exit many miles ago.  I had to call Greg at home and get him to mapquest a new way home.

We could go on with our lives without replacing these things (the DVD player hasn't worked in well over a month and we're all still alive) or getting a GPS and we will probably do that for a while longer because of the chain reaction of buying something new. 

So far we've used the computer whenever one of the kids wants to watch a DVD, but that isn't terribly convenient with only one computer.  It's had me really thinking we should get that laptop we've been wanting.  And instead of replacing the DVD player we should probably upgrade to a Blu Ray.  But will our crap TV even work with a Blu Ray?  Maybe we should upgrade the TV, too. Of course, that would probably mean a new TV stand.  And while we're replacing furniture, we could really use new end tables and a new sofa (although husband is being all level-headed and says we should just wait till the potty-training era is over before doing that). 

So much for the college fund, but I think our family could end the debt ceiling crisis in one shopping trip.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Shoppers remorse

Last night I tried out the new Shoppers that replaced Superfresh in Ellicott City.  As a grocery store it was fine, I guess, but it was a disorienting and disheartening experience. 

I know my grocery shopping routine is pretty crazy - but it's mine.  First there's Lotte Plaza for produce and "international" items.  I shop Costco for milk, bread, some fruits, some meats, some cheeses, coffee and other bulk things that a family of five goes through quickly.  Target is for stuff that we don't need a pallet of.  There's also the occasional trip to Trader Joe's for their goodies.  And Superfresh was for everything else I couldn't find at those places. 

When the Target added to their grocery section I tried to cut out Superfresh and just shop there, but they didn't have all the brands I like or if they did, they didn't necessarily have the lower sodium version or whatever.  So instead, I cut back on my Target visits and only went there every once in a while. 

In the time between Superfresh closing down and Shoppers opening, I've tried out a couple of other stores.  The Giant on 40 is close, but is small and the selection isn't the greatest; the one in Dorsey's Search is better, but it's really too much of a drive to be convenient.  The Safeway at Long Gate Shopping Center is okay, but I hate that parking lot, especially during the holidays - so shopping there would not be convenient for every week.  There's a Safeway on 40, but I haven't had the chance to try it out.  There's a Mars on 40 also, but I just don't like it that much - not sure why. 

I really want the Shoppers to work out because it is so close to my house, so convenient.  Maybe it will be okay, maybe it's just a case of getting used to it.  I think that's really what I don't like about any of the other stores - I'm not familiar enough with them.  I make my shopping list based on where things are located in the store, otherwise I always forget something on my list because it isn't on the list in the progression of aisles. 

That's what was so disorienting about Shoppers - going into a store I've been so familiar with and finding that almost everything is in a different spot, the brands are different, the variety is different - it's just different.  Sigh.  Change is hard.


hocoblogs@@@

Sunday, July 17, 2011

GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL!

Oldest daughter has returned after a week away on vacation with another family.  She is delightful!  She is kind to her sisters and funny and a joy to be around.  I wonder how long this will last?  Husband has taken them all to a birthday party at a park, so I'm sure there will be some tired folks when they return home.

In the mean time, I'm enjoying a little time alone - playing Scrabble on Facebook with my dear sister and watching our women play in the World Cup.  I get to have whatever I want for dinner, too!  It's a mad mad mad world.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Please visit me in jail

Someday I'm going to be arrested by the Department of Children and Families or whatever they have here in Maryland because my kids died of either starvation or malnutrition.  But I swear, it isn't my fault. 

Lorelei eats less than most kids we know, but still eats okay compared to the little girls.  It seems like they are living on juice, milk, water and air these days.  And the treats that the ladies at the retirement home across the street give them.  I swear I provide them with well-balanced, colorful meals but most of that ends up on the floor and/or the trash.  When I asked Violet if she wanted some grapes a few minutes ago, she very politely said, "No thank you, I just had a whole cone of ice cream last night" (which she got from one of the ladies).

Aren't they hungry?  I know kids go through cycles in their eating habits - but I don't know how they are achieving an energy level sufficient to keep them upright.  And they don't sit around all day doing nothing - usually they are running around like banshees.  Zoey (the two-year-old who is only 32.5 inches tall) can now climb the rock wall tower that leads up to the top of the play structure at Centennial Park - completely unassisted.  That thing is like 10 feet tall!  She is also proficient at every single jump structure at the Jump Zone - the mazes, the faux rock wall climbs to reach the tops of the slides - everything!  How is she doing this on a quarter piece of toast and a bite of an apple slice? 

Hopefully the next phase of eating everything in sight will come around soon so I can have something new to worry about.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Red Robin, again?!

We're down a kid this week - the oldest has gone on vacation with family friends.  Sounds like a vacation for us, too, right?  Only two kids to manage - hey that's easy.  Sure, you just keep believin' that, Wendi.

Since we're having some air conditioning issues I decided not to cook tonight and heat up the house even more.  I really wanted to go to Victoria Gastro Pub, but alas, the clamor for Red Robin won out.  We met Greg there and the girls were so excited to see him - they both crowded into his side of the booth.  Zoey proceeded to eat her mac and cheese all over me (between us we used about 10 napkins), constantly switched seats, took one bite of every fry in Greg's basket, bumped my arm so my water spilled down my shirt - fun stuff like that.  I did get her to eat a vegetable (sort of) - she stuffed a Ranch-drenched carrot that fell on the floor into her mouth before I could stop her.  But no worries, she sucked off all the Ranch, chewed it up a bit then spit it back into my hand.  I'm sure all the germs came off into my hand.

They were both so worked up and crazy by the end that Greg just took them out to his car while I stayed behind to pay the bill.  As I walked to my car I noticed Greg was still in the parking lot - he was sending me a text:  "Violet lost balloon bring new one stat".  She was crying inconsolably, going on about it being the worst thing that had ever happened EVER.  Once the new balloon was procured Greg said, "Okay, thanks - see you at home." 

"Sure you will, honey."  If only I had somewhere else to go. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Damn you, Broccoli!

Without knowing it, I threw down the gauntlet with Zoey.  Some nights trying to get the kids to eat dinner is torture - for all of us.  Tonight we told Violet she couldn't go outside and roller blade until she'd eaten at least one bite of everything on her plate.  She didn't like it, but she finally did it.  With Zoey, I nonchalantly said, "You can go outside, too, if you eat one piece of broccoli."

That was it - my act of war.  We've been at this for an hour.  Everyone else has eaten their dinner and the dishes are all done except for one little Minnie Mouse fork with a bit of broccoli on it.  She just will not budge.  I hate it, but I guess I can't budge either.  She's sitting on my lap right now crying and twirling my hair around her little fist (that's her comfort thing), but I guess we're not going to go outside and join Greg and Violet as they play.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Luck of the Cute

I love my children, I really do, but lately it seems like more drinks are required to tolerate them.  Violet is in this fun new stage where she cries the tears of a broken soul at every little thing.  We're going to visit the grandparents over 4th of July - she's sad because she's going to miss Ellicott City and the big corn (in case you're out of the loop and let's face it, you are, it's a giant picture of corn on the cob hanging from the ceiling at Target).  She can't take no for an answer without breaking down.  It's our fault for giving in to her for so often - but, cripes - until recently she'd throw up every time she cried.  Cleaning up vomit all the time isn't as fun as you think.

Zoey is in the delightfully cute stage (that will probably last well into adolescence) of copying every crazy thing her sisters do, including all the crying.  Every time she bumps anything she cries and needs a kiss.  Luckily, I can be across the room and say, "Oh, you need a kiss?  Mmwwa!"  Crying stops, "Tanks Mom! I feel betters!"  Clearly I have magical kisses and need to figure out a marketing plan - hmmm, is that legal?

Lorelei turns on a dime, one minute everything's great, next minute she's bored and starts torturing Violet, then a couple of hours later she's kindly playing Memory with her. 

Anyway, it's lucky they are cute, that's all I'm saying. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

The journey of a thousand miles

Oh ma gah.  Life is driving me crazy.  I feel like all I do is wait at the door so we can leave the house but while I wait I'm also forced to tell people over and over - "Put on your shoes.  You too.  Wait, no, you had your shoes on, what happened?  Put on your shoes."  With one kid it was manageable, with two a bit more difficult, with three, forget about being anywhere on time and sane.  Even when we're leaving to go somewhere fun they can still suck the life force from me so that by the time we make it to pulling out of the parking lot I'm really not in the mood to bother with having fun. 

Violet is the worst.  She has to very carefully choose her outfit for the day, one piece at a time, with some sort of dance maneuvers happening in between (this is for another blog post, but she has some serious Elaine Benes action going on).  Plus there is the eternal Violet monologue we have to listen to - she constantly chatters at us, although, it is interspersed with nonsensical singing.  You might recognize some of the lyrics from various Spongebob episodes or Disney Princess songs, or Glee cover of a Cee Lo Green song - but there will be absolutely no recognizable tune.  Once the clothes are picked out, then you have to go through the agony of actually getting them on her body.  At least she willingly brushes her teeth (once she finally makes it to the bathroom), with Zoey it's practically like waterboarding - actually that might be an easier way to get her teeth clean.

When it's time for shoes, you have to wait for her to find the perfect pair and thanks to a wonderful friend who sends us beautiful hand-me-downs, we have about a dozen choices.  They have to be put on the wrong feet, every single time.  I know she knows what shoe goes on which foot, but this is part of her whole schtick.  I tell her to switch them, then she comes back after taking both shoes off and then putting them both back on the wrong feet again and sweetly says, "Is this the right foot?" 

With the shoes finally on, we open the front door.  Wait, wait, wait.  A toy has to come with us.  It's a different toy every time and it's always always a toy that requires a search party.  Every once in a while I get frustrated enough to say, "No toy!  Let's go!"  But the crying and tantrums that ensue are usually not worth it.  So, find the toy, head to the car where she has to do the seat belt herself except I have to tighten it because she's still in a 5-point harness thing and can't reach the belt to pull it tight, so I have to stand there tapping my toes trying not to lose my mind.  (And don't forget, while all this is happening with just Violet, I'm also fielding all the crap that the other two are throwing at me.)

Finally, I'm in the driver's seat where I realize I've forgotten to bring the crucial whatever that the whole trip out of the house was about, so I have to run back inside and find it. 

Ah, now we're on the road.  It's 10:30am, we've been up since 6:00am - only four and a half hours between boarding the space shuttle to crazy and lift-off, not too bad.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Home, home on the range

The last camping trip Greg and I took before kids was at St. George Island State Park in Florida.  Mistakes were made, lives were changed (okay, maybe not), an inflatable raft was purchased.  First mistake, beach camping in Florida in August.  Next mistake, letting Greg talk me into "wilderness camping."   We had to hike forever from the parking area through deep sand to the camp site carrying far too much gear.  It started to get dark so we abandoned some of our gear to get to the site faster and pitch our tent before it was totally dark.  Then, of course, had to go back for the gear.  It was hot and buggy and the raccoons were very very bold - they didn't mind waddling right up to the tent, knocking on the canvas and just asking us to hand over our foodstuff.  The next morning, after exploring a bit of the bay side of the camp (and finding hundreds and hundreds of creepy bird or fish skeletons) we decided to hike to the ocean side of the island.  When we got close to the parking area it was so very hot we decided to drive into town and get some lunch in the air conditioning instead.  On the way back to the camp site we passed a beach shop that had a big already-inflated raft for sale.  Dun dun dunnnnn.

Here's where things took a turn for the truly comedic.  I don't know whose idea it was, in theory it was brilliant - in practice, not so much.  The wilderness camping was on the tip of a j-like protrusion, there was a boat launch on the main part of the island directly across from it, so if we had a boat we could avoid the long, hot, sandy hike.  Like I said, brilliant.  We buy the already-inflated raft, strap it on to the car or maybe the pick up truck (can't remember) and head back.  I don't know if you've ever navigated a blow-up raft, but if you have, well then, you know.  After a lot of paddling and going willy-nilly off course, we finally made it across. 

Other campers had arrived while we were gone - but their tents were pitched a ways down the beach from us, so we were still basically alone.  We swam and did other campy things, made our campy dinner and had to huddle inside the hot, stuffy tent to eat it because the bugs were so bad.  Mosquitoes, biting flies and even the raccoons were edging up to us again.  I was miserable and Greg may not admit it, but I think he was pretty miserable too.  We decided to pack it in and go home a day early.

Oops - the car is parked over at the boat ramp now, so we've got to take the raft to get to the car.  Remember when I said we had far too much gear?  We were going to have to make two trips to get everything across.  Greg headed across alone with most of the stuff on the first trip.  We were losing daylight, but luckily a guy in a little motor boat towed Greg and the raft back across the cove to me.  We loaded ourselves and the last of the gear (just a backpack and small cooler, but it was enough that we only had room for each of us to kneel on our knees in the raft with the stuff crammed between us).  I was in front paddling and Greg was in the back.  It took was taking forever to paddle across that cove, carefully avoiding the shallow spots with coral that really wanted to rip the rubber raft to shreds.  Greg was getting more and more frustrated, yelling at me about my paddling skills when suddenly, CRACK - his paddle broke in half...and sank.  So here we are, exhausted, hot, nearly hysterical with it all and only one plastic paddle.  I handed it back to Greg, leaned over the front of the raft and started doing the arms portion of the breast stroke - and that's how we finally made it to the boat ramp.  We'd been on our knees for so long that neither one of us could feel the lower portion of our legs.  We stumbled out of the raft into the water barely staying upright - only to find our fellow-wilderness campers laughing their asses off at us as they are launching the canoes they'd rented.  Now that was a brilliant idea.

I have camped only one other time since then - in San Diego for one night when Lorelei was two.  But Greg has missed it, so last summer he took Lorelei and Violet on a trip to the Patapsco State Park about two miles from our house.  He picked a site close to home because he wasn't sure how it would go with Violet on her first camp out. They ended up coming home for a bit on Saturday - Violet took a nap in her own bed and was refreshed and ready to go for the rest of the weekend.  I think it was mostly fun for them, fun enough that the girls have been clamoring for another trip this summer.

Since yesterday was the Great American Backyard Campout Greg decided to pitch a tent in our little patch of grass.  If you've been to our house before, you know we live in a townhouse on a hill - the tent  pretty much took up all of the flat space in our yard.  But even that was too much wilderness for me, I elected to stay inside and sleep in my nice bed.  Lorelei ended up ditching too (she was invited to sleep-over).

I was a little worried about how the night would go for Greg sleeping outdoors with a two and four-year-old,  but S'mores were eaten, fun was had and I think they even got a decent night's sleep.  Success!



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm cool, right?

Last night my husband asked me how I thought he could be more cool.  First of all, what?  I told him he should find something he's passionate about, pursue that, and as his own self-serenity and happiness grow that will show the world how cool he is; then he'll meet someone who shares that passion, fall in love and make a life together.  Oh wait, that's already happened.  Who do you need to be more cool for?!  He never did answer.  I followed up with asking if he thought I was "cool".  His answer - no more cool than he is.  (By the way, that's the wrong answer.)

Is this what a mid-life crisis looks like?  Oh, here we go - I googled it and got this from iVillage:  8 Warning Signs That Your Man is Having a Midlife Crisis.  Here's the list:

  1. He says life is a bore
  2. He is thinking about (or already) having an affair
  3. He is suddenly making impetuous decisions about money and/or his career
  4. He makes a dramatic change in his personal style or appearance and is suddenly spending lots of time in front of a mirror
  5. He has little interest in spending time (or having sex) with you
  6. He is drinking too much or abusing other substances
  7. He is displaying the classic signs of depression -- sleeping more, loss of appetite, malaise
  8. He is overly nostalgic and constantly reminiscing about his youth or his first love
Hmmm.  This is troubling.  A few of these things might apply to me, too.  I guess it's time to start looking into two-door sports cars.  Or, it just could be that we have three kids.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    The sport of parenting

    I have a very funny husband.  It's one of the things that keeps me sane.  I was telling him about the frustrating morning I'd had with the little girls - meltdown over the absurd, the kick in the face while changing a diaper, accidental cursing out loud, etc.  His response, "I know, I've been there. Parenting is a contact sport filled with trash talk and psychological games." 

    Oh, so very true.  I have the headache and fat lip to show for it.

    Violet's latest thing is telling us we're wrong about stuff (i.e., psychological games).  Violet, the Earth revolves around the sun.  No, Mommy, you're wrong, the sun is just a figment of your imagination, the Earth spins only for me.  It drives me crazy.  She asks me questions, I give her answers and she tells me I'm completely wrong.  I know it's a part of her growth and development, I know it's normal.  But does she have to be so smug?  Sometimes when she's telling me some elaborate crazy thing I'll just give her the nod and smile.  So what if she grows up thinking Greg is my boyfriend or that 3-year-old preschool is on Sundays and Wednesdays.   It's not going to scar her too much, right? 

    With Lorelei I would explain things and she would have this little light bulb of knowledge above her head (sure she went through a bit of the know-it-all phase, but not as much as Violet).  With Violet I explain things and she takes whatever I've said, changes the first letter of every third word and makes it her own crafty bit of nonsense.  Lorelei was like a little sponge soaking up facts and information.  Violet is like those bracelets Wonder Woman wears - deflecting stuff left and right. 

    Every kid is different and that is wonderful, but damn, it is a pain constantly revamping all those parenting skills you learned with the first kid.  Just when you think you know something a four-year-old comes along to prove you wrong.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Another HoCo Flash Mob

    The plan was for Q to walk up at the beginning of Dr. Cousins remarks and tap him on the sleeve, at that point the music would kick in, he would bob his head and walk to the center of the floor while all the other kids ran out to the open floor and voilá, the Healthy Howard awards ceremony would be flash mobbed.

    Of course, nothing ever goes as planned.  Q did his job, but there was a musical glitch.  Dr. Cousins was a bit confused, but very gracefully went on with his remarks and smoothed it over with, "I think I have a fan!"  The next speaker was introduced and she began speaking when finally the music started - the kids all jumped up and did their thing and there were applause all around.  It was so much fun - and I was just watching from the wings holding back Zoey, who desperately wanted to run out and dance too.  The video is not the best - I was juggling Zoey on my lap and making sure Violet kept her seat at the same time - but you get the gist.  




    There were lots of HoCo celebs there - including Ken Ulman, Calvin Ball and Courtney Watson.  The Ulman girls made an unexpected appearance to hug their dad (and was so cute that I couldn't help wondering if it was maybe scripted, but that's the cynic in me).  We didn't stay for the remainder of the evening - but it was a fun experience that I think my daughter will remember for a while.  

    (hocoblogs@@@

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Forecast calls for a good day?

    Yesterday started off so well.  Everyone slept through the night, Greg and I woke up on our own schedule before the little girls.  I made pancakes and bacon for breakfast on a weekday.  We had a play date planned with a neighbor.  All good stuff.

    Then the whole cashew thing happened.  Plans changed, craziness ensued.  By the afternoon things calmed down and were back to normal.  Napping, playing, going to the bus stop, yadda yadda.  Then I smelled that smell that tells me a diaper needs to be changed.  I look over to see Zoey digging her hands down the back of her shorts and a little rain of debris was on the floor.  Took a closer look and yep, those cashews had struck again - this time partially digested.  ARGH. 

    Straight to the bath tub, hosing her off with the shower nozzle when Violet comes running in, "Mommy! I gotta pooooop!"  Of course, why wouldn't she need to poop?  And it only makes sense that she would have to use the bathroom I'm in, even though there are 3 other toilets available to her.  After all that was done, I still had to go clean up the mess on the floor.

    If we follow yesterday's logic, today should be awesome, though.  Zoey woke up at 4:30am with an over-soaked diaper.  I changed her and tried to keep her quiet so Violet wouldn't wake up then brought her to our bed only to have her squirm, pull my hair and scratch me with her nearly Guiness Book record long toe nails for an hour.  Greg gave in and got up with her around 5:30.  A few minutes later I hear a ruckus of crying and running around downstairs - she was throwing up.  It was all liquid, so probably she just got choked up drinking her apple juice, but she did feel a little warm and complained that her head hurt.  Gave her Tylenol and in her cute little way she pipes up immediately after swallowing, "I feel betters!" 

    I'm not going to hold my breath, but maybe I'll feel betters today, too.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Another story about my nuts...

    A dear friend has a hilarious story about when her little sister was a toddler.  She stuck a McDonald's French fry up her nose and ended up in the emergency room.  That story is no longer funny at all. 

    Zoey was eating some cashews this morning - you can connect the dots.  So, I tried one of those nasal aspirator things - she screamed and kicked and made it virtually impossible for me to get near her nose.  I thought I might've gotten one or two little snorts out of it, so I calmed her down and she let me take another look with the flashlight.  At this point I couldn't see anything, her little nose was too puffy.  I called the pediatrician's office and they said, "Oh, you'll have to see an ENT - here's some phone numbers."

    I called the first one.  A very nice lady answered the phone, but very nice doesn't mean very helpful.  The doctor was in surgery and when I asked what I should do, if I needed an appointment right away, all she could tell me was, "I'm sorry - the doctor handles stuff like this, I don't know."  So, I called the next one and thankfully got an appointment for a short time later.  Meanwhile, Zoey calmed down, had some juice, watched some cartoons and seemed totally fine.

    My personal experience with doctors is that there is never anything wrong enough with me that they can actually do something for me besides the basic - rest, liquids, blah blah blah.  But you know, something is stuck up the kid's nose, so it can't be a waste of my time or money to take her to a specialist, right?  Wrong.

    We had checked in at the front desk, paid the co-pay and were in the intake room with the nurse answering the myriad medical history questions when Zoey sneezed.  And there, on the nice tiled floor lay a small hunk of cashew.  You have got to be kidding me.  The nurse looked pretty stunned and said, "Well, do you want to go on with this, or just leave?"  Damn right I'm having her examined - I already paid for it!

    The offending little nut.
    We shuffled into the exam room where the doctor had me wrap my arms and legs around a flailing and screaming Zoey while the nurse held her head in place so he could stick a speculum up her nose and check things out.  And of course it was all clear.  Goodbye 2 hours of my life, goodbye $40.

    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    Life, Love and Eddie Vedder

     A hundred years ago when I was about to graduate from college, I made a list of goals for my future. 

    1. Never own a business suit.
    2. Never have a resume.
    3. Meet and marry Eddie Vedder.

    Okay, I wasn't serious, at least not totally serious.  A short time later, when I started applying and interviewing for jobs, I dutifully typed out my resume and my mom bought a skirt suit for me.  But there was still hope to meet and marry Eddie Vedder, right? 

    Funny, in the here and now there is nothing that even slightly resembles a business suit in my wardrobe and I haven't updated my resume in something like 5 years.  I also have not thought about Eddie Vedder (at least not in that way) in years.  Although, I will admit that it has been less than 13 years (which is the anniversary Greg and I just celebrated last week).

    And then this happened:  Ukulele Songs.  I didn't listen to the songs in order, the first one I picked was Dream a Little Dream and a little - no, that's a lie - a big shiver went through me.  Oh, Eddie Vedder, how I love thee.  (Sorry honey - you know I love you more, but maybe you could learn how to play the ukulele?)

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Bedtime stories

    There's a lovely new book that's not quite on the market yet called "Go the F**k to Sleep".  Have you seen it?  I got a copy of the PDF from a friend.  When I first looked at it, I didn't realize that it's going to be an actual book.  I thought it was a really (really) elaborate joke email.  I have to admit that even though it made me laugh, I cried a little, too.  Someone else gets it, someone else knows, oh sweet mother of little lambs, someone else curses the night, too.

    At least a couple of nights a week things go a little something like this...fight about bathing, run around naked (not me - the kids, I'm not a perv), put on pajamas, read books, fight over who turns out the light, sing Baa Baa Black Sheep, sing Twinkle Twinkle, sing Baa Baa again.  Go downstairs, argue with the big kid about brushing teeth, send her to bed.  Ignore littlest girl calls from upstairs.  Send big kid back to bed complaining about having nothing to read (despite new library books on the shelf).  Forced to respond to middle girl calls, take her to the bathroom.  Sing Baa Baa again and again and again (why does she like this song so much?).  Argue with big kid more about the irrelevance of having nothing to read since it's past time to turn out the light.  Pleas from middle kid for more milk.  Listen to big kid's loud sobs from her room about the unfairness of life.  Take turns with husband calming her down enough for sleep to take over.

    And a mere two hours after "bedtime" all the children are asleep.  Of course, at least one of them will wake up during the night (usually the littlest one - whereupon I will sleep walk to her bed and bring her back to mine) and then the awakening will begin no later than 6:00am (lately it's been trending more toward 5:30am).

    Why-o-why can't they go the f to sleep AND stay that way till a decent hour?!

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    What's going on in that cart?

    I enjoy entertaining strangers with my children and I'm betting I was a bundle of laughs for everyone in Superfresh on Wednesday afternoon.  I stopped in for two things I'd forgotten during my shopping trip earlier in the week.  Two things.  Superfresh is seconds from my house so I didn't bring the diaper bag, I didn't bring an army of snacks, I didn't bring any sippy cups.  Shame on me for thinking I could get away with that.

    The entire ten minutes we were in the store, my sweet little two-year-old screamed for a snack at the top of her lungs.  Of course, what she was screaming could have easily been misconstrued...

    "MY NUTS! MY NUTS!  MY NUTS! MY NUTS!  MY NUTS!"

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    My Secret Garden

    I love my little backyard. 

    I'm a low-maintenance kind of girl (at least when it comes to gardening) and I love stuff that comes back year after year regardless of the weather and care it gets.  My roses will win no prizes because of this - they sometimes get pruned and that's about all I can manage, but for some reason they keep blooming for me and I'm thankful.  I have tried to get the clematis to climb better than it does, but really I'm just glad it is still there.

    For edible stuff we have strawberries, oregano, rosemary, lavender, mint and thyme.  Usually we have tomatoes and basil, but I haven't gotten around to planting those yet this year.
    I love having fresh herbs in the garden and they have grown like crazy.  With all this bounty I have to find creative ways to use them.  Coming from the South, of course I love my sweet tea - so I came up with an herbal sweet tea that's a little different.


    I use a handful of thyme, a whole bunch of mint and one smallish sprig of rosemary.  Boil up a big pot of water, add the tea bags and throw in the herbs.  Let them steep until the tea is whatever strength you like it (I usually do about 10 minutes).  Remove the tea bags and rosemary sprig (the rosemary seems to make it bitter if you leave it in too long) and let the mint and thyme sit for a while longer (maybe another 10 minutes or so depending on how minty you want it to be or how long before you remember to go back!).

    Add honey to taste.  (I have tried regular sugar to sweeten it when I'd run out of honey, but the taste is not nearly as good.)  Cool, add ice and enjoy!

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    What a day.

    Weeks ago I scheduled appointments for Violet and Zoey to have their 4- and 2-year-old check-ups.  They gave me a date and time, I looked at the calendar - no conflicts - another thing checked off the To Do list, don't have to think about it any more.

    I might've mentioned before that I'm not really a superstitious person, but maybe I should've thought through scheduling simultaneous check-ups for little girls who will be getting shots on Friday the 13th.

    During my first pregnancy I worried about all the icky things that come with parenting - I'm not good with bad smells or blood or guts - but surprisingly, I've always been okay with doctor visits and seeing my little ones cry when they get shots.  I have always been able to be calm and help them either stay or recover their calm.  Today was no different, even with a little extra Violet trauma.

    Lorelei was out of school today and was there to comfort Zoey after her shot while I held Violet down.  I've done this before, many times.  Hold her hands, lean over her body on the table, look her in the eye, talk in a soothing voice, tell her it will be over soon and it only hurts a minute.  Lorelei never struggled, never really even cried (except as an infant), it was always more of a really hardcore wince.  I was spoiled.  Violet looked terrified, cried A LOT and really, really struggled.   But, I hugged and held them, helped pick out the stickers that weirdly make everything okay and we took our leave.

    Just as we were walking out of the the building Violet asked for her jacket, so Lorelei took Zoey's hand while I got the jacket out of the diaper bag.  Zoey decided this was a good time to work her wicked wiggle, escaped Lorelei and took off for the parking lot where a van was making it's way toward us.  Lorelei ran, I started to run and a wonderful stranger turned around, saw her coming and grabbed her.

    Heart attack.  She cried, I nearly cried, everybody's nerves were frazzled.  So much for maintaining calm at the doctor's office.  This calls for a movie night with ice cream and candy!

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    That Karma, She's a Bitch

    When I was a kid we had a recliner in the den.  It was Dad's Chair.  When he wasn't home or in need of sitting, it became The Chair Everyone Wants.  By everyone, I mean me and my sisters.  As the oldest, the biggest and the one to most willing to inflict bodily harm, I generally won the fights to become Queen of the Chair.  I also had elaborate schemes to get my sisters to do things for me while I was in the chair.  I would trick them into fetching me books or snacks or the remote so that I didn't have to get up for even a second and relinquish my hold on the Chair.  There was even one afternoon reign that ended in the ER (it was only a sprain - no fingers were actually broken).  It was good to be the oldest. 

    I don't know how I didn't drive my poor mother to drink.  For those of you who don't believe in karma, you are a fool.  My oldest daughter was brought to me for a special purpose - the world will be a better place for having her in it, she is intelligent, thoughtful and beautiful - except when she is fulfilling her karmic duty to drive me  mad.  I just have to remind myself that I deserve it, I deserve all the "you're on MY side of the couch don't touch me" fights, all the "nah nah na-nah nah you can't have it" fights, all the moody storms that brew at the worst moments.  I deserve it all. 

    My one solace - someday that poor, wonderful girl is going to deserve it, too.

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    There is a Me in Mother!

    Kim Lemmonds over at Ellicott City Patch wrote recently asking other busy parents how (and if) they manage "me time" because she is struggling with putting this abstract idea into practice.  Clearly she is paying too much attention to her kids and under-using the universal babysitter (TV, of course).  Okay, joking aside - this is a dilemma we all face.

    The other night I was watching that show with what's-her-name from Everybody Loves Raymond and the Janitor from Scrubs (aka The Middle) about a family in Indiana who struggle with all the normal/crazy family stuff.  (Slight tangent - I think my husband finds the show distasteful since he's from Indiana and they are often portrayed as a bunch of yokels - that only makes me enjoy the show more.  Sorry honey.)  The dad and kids forgot to plan for Mother's Day and came up with the idea to just leave the mom alone for the day.  She loved the idea, but when the day actually came she wasted it doing a string of chores and as soon as she sat down on the couch with her pile of dentist office People Magazines, the family walked in and her day was over.

    I can totally relate to this.  Last year for Mother's Day, my husband took the girls to the zoo for a few hours so I could have some "me" time.  I have no memory of what I did, but I'll guarantee I wasn't lounging around with my bon bons.  It's so hard to turn off that part of my brain that looks around and sees all the toys, dust and piles of laundry so that I can do something fun for a moment.  I think, okay, I'll just vacuum really quick - but first all these toys have to be picked up; ug, this is all disorganized, I'll just put all the Little People together and all the My Little Ponies in this bin, etc.  Oops, better dust before I vacuum.  Ack!  All this dust is making me sneeze - a shower will help.  Damn, this bathroom is filthy.  Okay - showered, dressed, ready for some fun.  Aaaaaaannnnd time's up.  Oh well, at least some of the chores got done.

    Today when Greg offered to take the older girls out for a while this afternoon I accepted and didn't put too much pressure on myself.  I didn't want to end up feeling disappointed.  Zoey and I went down to Ellicott City's Second Sunday Market for a bit, then it was time for her nap.  After I got her down, I looked around and thought about what I was going to do with my free time.  I had some DVR'd shows to catch up on, I've got a book, I've got a cross stitch project going, hmmmm.  But I also had plenty of chores to do.  I split the difference and made the grocery list and week's meal plan first, paid some bills online, then plunked down on the couch to sew and watch TV.  I had about an hour of "me" time and it was great. 

    Happy Mother's Day!

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Comedy in Dialogue

    Violet:  Mom, my eye hurts.
    Me:  Why does your eye hurt?
    Violet:  I touched it.
    Me:  Well, don't touch it.
    Violet:  Why?
    Me:  Because it hurts when you do.
    Violet:  Oh.

    I think this conversation epitomizes the hilarity of raising children. 

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    The Gods Are Laughing

    Weird coincidence or is one of you trying to tell me something?  This morning I got an email from Kirk Martin of Celebrate Calm - their tagline is Transform Your Family.  Kirk wanted to tell me about a workshop to learn how to "create a calm home, eliminate yelling, arguing and meltdowns."  Who's going with me?

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Thou Shalt Not Find Parenting Easy

    Nothing like getting smacked down by the gods of parenting. 

    We've been having this problem getting the 9-year-old to bathe.  She throws fits about it every other night, starts out with moaning and groaning, leads to crying and screaming, ends with everyone exhausted and upset.  I'd been thinking about what changes needed to be made to make our evenings more tolerable and suddenly while chatting with a friend about it when it suddenly occurred to me - she should bathe in the morning when she's well-rested!  Of course, why didn't I think of this before?  Everybody is up around the crack of dawn anyway and there's like three hours before the bus comes for school - of course morning bath will work!

    SCREEEEEECH!  Hold up Mama - ain't nothin' gonna go that smooth.  She went to bed easy peasy, but this morning she was hell on wheels.  "I'm hungry!"  Okay, these are your 5 breakfast options.  "I only want croissant!  I'll starve without croissant!"  By the by - she has had croissants maybe three times in her life.  Then on to "I don't want to take a shower!"  Okay, take a bath.  "No!  I'm not going to!"

    The crap thing about morning fits - you can't send the kid to bed and let it work itself out over night.  She finally calmed down, ate a bagel, took a bath and went on to school.  You'd think that the trauma was over for the day - but no.  We had crazy bedtime meltdown, too.  "I don't need to go to bed. I'm not tired!"

    A round of Benadryl cocktails for everyone!

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    The Role of a Lifetime

    I just finished reading Allison Pearson's new book, I Think I Love You.  It's sort of about David Cassidy fans - I was more of a Shawn Cassidy girl, but that's not really relevant.  I won't tell you about the photo I had of him over my bed that was smeared with little girly kisses.  Sigh...  Anyway, back on topic, there is a great line in the book about being a mother (and it goes for fathers, too).

    The the baby years passed, like an April shower, and the hard bit turned out to be the easy part, only you didn't find out until it was over.  Motherhood was like being in a play and only ever having the lines for the scene you were in at any given moment.  By the time you figured out how to play the part, the curtain dropped and it was on to the next act.

    Ach - this is so true!  It feels like it takes forever to figure out nursing an infant; when you finally get it, it's time to move on to solids and sippy cups and holding their own fork.  And when you've figured out feeding them, they suddenly decide against eating anything that isn't a chicken nugget.  There are a million other things that you have to figure out before they change, too - but I had no idea simply keeping them well-fed would be so damn stressful.  With one kid, it wasn't such a big deal to modify what the grown-ups were eating to be more kid-friendly - but as we got more kids they all decided to be different and like/dislike different things (what is up with that - how dare they be individuals!).

    The food issues and finickiness are a simple metaphor for the other parts of raising kids.  Teaching them to be good, well-adjusted people is a big responsibility that isn't as easy as it sounds.  And it never fails, when I finally hit my groove, the music changes - lately it's turning more into a death metal rage instead of a nice Do You Believe in Magic beat.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Why don't I get a spring break?

    Day two of spring break.  Feeling some cabin fever with today's rain.  Interesting dynamic has developed between Lorelei and Violet - they are fighting over who gets to play with Zoey.  If Lorelei initiates some kind of play with Zoey, then Violet will go into Dog/Master mode and start calling, "Here boy, here boy!" Zoey just cannot resist this game - she immediately goes down on all fours and crawls over to Violet, tongue hanging out of her mouth and panting away.  After that it's like that scene in Annie where the dog catcher tells her to call her dog and a bunch of mean-spirited old guys start calling the dog too.  Both of them are yelling, "Here, Zoey, come here!"  The poor kid just runs back and forth until I tell them to cut it out.

    I'm not feeling particularly relaxed for our spring break.  This is a busy time of year - I've started calling it "Cake Season."  The little girls' birthdays are five days apart at the end of April, then Greg's is the first week of May and there's mother's day and our anniversary also in May.  We're all full of holidays - and with Easter being so late, we'll also have bunny candy to go with our cake. 

    Better start looking into a heavier exercise regimen, or maybe just get some over-sized furniture and call it a day.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Run Greg Run

    I probably should not be blogging about parenting in the mood I'm in - so I'll talk about one of my husband's interests and an upcoming local event.  Greg is a runner - or was.  Since having 3 kids who get up before the crack of dawn it has been harder for him to find time for running that coincides with time that he is also awake and has the energy. 

    He generally does a long run on Sundays - usually trail running somewhere in the Patapsco Valley State Park and he aims to run in the neighborhood two other mornings a week, as long as he wakes up early enough.  That doesn't always happen since we often have a lot of activity during the night.  Like last night - Zoey woke up around midnight and came to bed with us - she was pretty restless, but I was too tired to notice.  Unfortunately, Greg noticed, a lot.  Then Violet woke up around 2am and he ended up having to hang with her for a while to get her back to sleep.  So, no running today.

    Before kids he ran a lot and he ran in races, although only one marathon - the Blue Angel (as in the Blue Angel Navy flyers) in Penscacola, FL - which is now the Pensacola Marathon.  If you've ever been to Florida, you know it's pretty flat - so the course was pretty flat, except for one spot.  The year Greg ran it was also the first year that a draw bridge on the course had been replaced by one of those bridges that goes way way up into the sky to let boats pass underneath.  There was a lot of moaning and groaning going on over that bridge - I was waiting about mid-way up for Greg, cheering on the runners.  I ended up walking the rest of the way up the bridge with him because all the training he'd been doing for the race had not included any hills - because, you know, he'd been training in flat Florida.

    He hasn't done any marathons since; really he hasn't run many races since.  But in two weeks (on April 30) he'll be running in The Hills of Milltown 5K Challenge that is part of the Blossoms of Hope Cherrybration in Ellicott City.  Hopefully the hills be easier to manage since he's been running them for a while now.  If you're a runner you should come on out and join the fun.  My girls and I will cheer you on and be waiting at the bottom of the hills to help celebrate in Parking Lot D.

    (hocoblogs@@@)

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Do Clothes Make the Girl?

    I've talked about Violet's fashion sense before - her interesting pattern and color combinations along with layers and layers of clothes.  Since spring hasn't actually been terribly warm, it hadn't really come up yet - but with yesterday's high expected to be in the low 80s, I told her there was no need to wear a long sleeve shirt under her short sleeve shirt.  She was planning to wear leggings under her skort, too - I just let that one go, picking my battles and all. 

    "But, Mom, I'm going to be cold."  No, Violet, it's warm, you'll be fine.  She grudgingly left the long sleeve shirt in the drawer and got dressed, then immediately grabbed her arms and started fake shivering and complaining.  I pointed out to her that the pajamas she just took off were shorts and a tank top.  "Ma-om. That's pajamas. These are CLOTHES." Of course.

    After a bit she stopped complaining and went on with her life.  Went to school (no crying for the third day in a row, by the way!), came home, played outside, decided that she was hot.  I suggested she take off the leggings and just wear the skort.  She headed up to her room to take care of this.  I didn't think much of it and probably about an hour passed before I noticed something odd sticking out of the waistband of her skort.

    She was wearing denim shorts under her skort!  To be clear - that's denim shorts, the shorts connected to the skirt, and a skirt!  What is this obsession with unnecessary layers!  I swear I spend at least half my life doing laundry!

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    I'm a Bad Mama (jama)

    The other day a friend on Facebook posted this:  "Are you the worst mother ever? Prove it. I would like to hear the best reasons for being called the worst mother (father) ever. I will send a cake or madeleines or brownies of the worst mother's (father's) choice to the winner. Yes. Yes it has been that kind of evening."

    There were lots of great stories and some that scared me (mostly the mouthy teenager ones, since I'm not there yet).  In general, I don't get told I'm the worst mother - I just get "You're mean!" or "You're not fair!"  I guess that's when I know I've done something right, right?

    My number 1 daughter (meaning the first, not the favorite - they are all my most and least favorites at any given time), has really been putting me to the test lately.  She has been super surly, sassy, and mean to everyone around the house.  I know it's hard on her having sisters who are significantly younger - with the ability gaps and naps they still take, there are times that just aren't fun for her.  I was having a talk with her about it recently - how she needs to cut her 3 year old sister some slack, that she just doesn't understand things at the same level as a 9 year old.  And I told her that she needs to stop being so cruel to her sister.  Of course, Violet picked up on this word immediately, so she's going around telling Lorelei not to be cruel or she says to me that Lorelei is cruel to her sometimes.  That just makes Lorelei angrier, so she says/does more mean things.  And so the cycle goes.

    Punishing always leads to fun times.  We're on day two of a two day grounding from the computer, so at 7:45 this morning she was moaning, "I'M BORED."  Just love hearing that.  Yesterday I told her that she could do some chores if she was bored, "What if I don't WANT to do chores?"  Deep breath.  "Then don't tell me you're bored."

    A couple of days ago my sister told me about an email exchange between Lorelei and my niece.  Niece asked Lorelei what she does when she's bored.  Answer: "Complain."  Niece replied, "Okay, I'll try that next time."  So my lovely daughter is spreading the joy of surly throughout the family.

    That stock of wine that I was talking about a couple of posts go, just in case one of you stops by - well, it's getting smaller and smaller.  So, if you're gonna stop by please bring a bottle.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    The end is near?

    I watched part of the movie 2012 last night.  It was going a little long, so we couldn't finish it - had to go to bed.  In general I love John Cusack - loved Better Off Dead, Say Anything, Grosse Point Blank, High Fidelity - but all his movies aren't the same.  I'm not sure I would call this one good persay.  It was jaw-clenching wondering what crazy, implausible thing was going to happen next, that's for sure.

    And it gave me nightmares.  For those of you who don't know - it's about the Mayan prediction that the world is going to end in December 2012.  Solar flares cause the Earth's core to become to hot and unstable, causing the Earth's crust to change shape.  So, earth quakes, volcanoes, everything falling into the ocean and the rich and those deemed important to the survival of humanity are given tickets to board arks built for the occasion. 

    So last night I had nightmares about the world ending in spectacular fashion.  I've been trying to decide if I'm going to finish watching the movie.  Can there be a happy ending to the this?  Is it enough that John Cusack's ex-wife, their kids and her boyfriend may get to crash the ark party?  When last I left them their plane had just landed in China (although, they thought they were going to be making a water landing, but you know, all the Earth's land masses had shifted a thousand miles).

    Has anyone else seen it?  I think I have to watch it, but maybe not tonight. 

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.

    I had a small cardiac incident yesterday.  I was just getting out of the shower when Violet came upstairs crying and said, "Mommy, I'm sorry I poked Zoey in the eye."  I asked her if Zoey was crying (because I didn't hear anything); now sobbing, she said, "No.  Ahhhhhhh!  I'm sorry I poked her eye out."  FREAK OUT!

    I pushed past her and ran down the stairs with visions of Zoey laid out on the floor in shock because her eyeball was dangling from the socket.  But no, she was sitting on the floor with both eyes still in her head watching Sbob Pants, as she calls him.  Greg was at the top of the stairs comforting Violet as I started back up.  I told her Zoey was fine, she wasn't hurt, everything's okay.  But she was still teary for a long time afterward.

    What the hell?  I don't know what happened, but I definitely had that lift-a-car-off-my-baby adrenaline rush.  It sort of made me feel like throwing up.  God knows what I would've done if there really was a dangling eyeball - probably grab her and run all the way to the hospital.

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Home, Home on the Range

    As I was just puttering around in the kitchen thinking about what will be for dinner, Violet walked in and said, "I know - we'll go to your favoritest restaurant - Red Robinsons!"  No. Just no. I did learn my lesson about that.

    We had a fundraiser night for the elementary school at T Bonz earlier this week - so we've had our night out, where I was told (against all expectations and to much disappointment, apparently) my children were very well-behaved.  But thinking about all this made me realize that I have not actually left the confines of my humble home in more than 48 hours - except to retrieve the recycling bin from the curb and to bring in the mail. 

    We had play dates at our house yesterday and today, so the early portion of the day was filled, then there is nap time, homework, dinner and clean up, then bath.  By the time that's all over all I want to do is veg on the couch with my sewing and the TV to entertain me.  And maybe, just maybe, have a conversation with my husband.  But only if TV turns out to be disappointing.

    I don't know how people do things at night during the week on a regular basis.  I ran into another PTA mom at the adult beverage store last weekend.  I was picking up a bottle of wine for a specific purpose - she was restocking, because you never know when somebody might stop by and you need it.  I was thinking, "Wait, people actually do that?"  Of course, her kids are older; in my little world I never "stop by" anywhere without careful planning and provisions made in advance.  And very rarely does anyone stop by my house unannounced, it's just a product of having little kids.

    I was commiserating with a friend today about the state of our lives with little ones - we both realize that in time things will change.  The little ones will be bigger and less needy and (hopefully) less insane in public.  We will be able to do more things out in the world and have more of a social life.  In the meantime, we'll just have to be satisfied with what we've got and enjoy the crazy little people life.

    Side note:  I would love having people just "stop by" - I loved growing up in a house where friends, neighbors and relatives always used the back door and never knocked.  And I even bought a few extra bottles of wine last weekend, so come on over!

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Well Your Nobody Called Tonight...

    I was laying in bed listening to the deep breath sounds of my husband sleeping, feeling a little resentful at how he falls asleep almost as soon as the lights go out.  Thoughts of tomorrow's activities, chores and errands were running through my head.  Finally I drifted off to sleep...only to have the frigging phone ring at 11:34pm.  Husband answered but no one was there. 

    I snuggled back into the covers, but that late-night-unexpected-phone-call adrenaline rush was too much for me - plus, I was listening once again to the deep breath sounds of my husband sleeping, feeling totally annoyed.

    Usually I keep the ringer turned off on the phone in our room, but we learned our lesson about that a month or so ago.  Lorelei was spending the night with a friend and got sick at 2:30am - they called and called us, but the ringer was off and the cell phones were downstairs.  We didn't wake up until they were beating down the door. 

    And now it is 12:48am.  I already played my Scrabble words on five of the six games I have going on Facebook.  Yes, I know, it's an affliction.  I am totally going to regret being up this late tomorrow - or later today, I guess. Should I go back to bed and see if sleep will find me?  Or should I just watch Parenthood on the DVR?  Decisions decisions.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Eat a Cookie, Save a Seal

    A friend's ten-year-old daughter, Ellie, loves seals.  On a Smithsonian trip years ago she got a stuffed seal in the gift shop and has loved them ever since.  Because she was interested, she and her mom were doing some research online and stumbled across The Marine Mammal Center's website.  Ellie decided to do a local fundraiser in their "Dollar a Pound" program and ended up raising $500!  TMMC invited her out to California for a tour and she even got to help cut the ribbon for the grand opening of their new hospital.  That was 2009 - she's done a local fundraiser every March since through the Young School (where she and her sisters went/go to preschool) and with the bakery Touche Touchet.

    I am completely amazed by this kid - she does a seal awareness week at the Young School where she teaches the kids about seals, plays games with them and even does a little fun run similar to the one that TMMC has in California each year.  And now she has been chosen by Dawn to be a youth ambassador for their Junior Wildlife Champions program.  The campaign aims to teach a million elementary-aged kids to be responsible for their environment and to get involved.  I'd say she is a perfect candidate for that!!

    So - if you're anywhere near Touche Touchet this weekend you should stop in for a cookie and save a seal - and encourage a wonderful little girl to continue to be awesome!  And if you're anything like me, you won't be able to resist getting a Strawberry Spa Cupcake, too.  Of course, if you want to avoid the calories you can always just give directly to the campaign here.


    (hocoblogs@@@)

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    A mother at home

    I'm reading I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson right now.  It's about a working mother juggling all the things a career woman has to juggle, along with all the things a mother of two has to do.  It's a funny read and I am entertained.  One of the things the main character, Kate Reddy, finds her self doing is distressing a store bought pie for a school party to make it look homemade because of the "tsks" she knows she'd get from the non-working mothers if the knew it was store bought.

    I was thinking about this in the context of my own life - non-working mother who generally brings things that are homemade to school functions.  I would never never "tsk" anyone or speak badly of them for bringing store bought goodies (actually, my daughter's preschool requires that all treats be store bought so that labels can be read for possible allergy-triggering ingredients).  I also don't know anyone who looks down their nose in this way (at least, I don't think I do - they haven't been talking to me about it).  But I guess it happens.

    I was making some muffins for a PTA meeting recently and was a little stressed about getting it done along with the other things I had going on.  My husband said, "Why can't you just bring pretzels or something?"  I told him I just had to; I feel compelled to make things homemade for a variety of reasons - that particular case, I had to find a use for the giant tub of blueberries I bought at Costco that my kids suddenly decided they would not eat, also because in general I enjoy baking - it's relaxing.  And to some extent I also think - hey, you're a stay-at-home mom - this is your job; if you don't do it your not succeeding at your job.  But none of the reasons have anything to do with what other people expect of me. 

    I think it's interesting the way working mothers interact with non-working mothers - I think each side looks at the other with some longing as well as incredulity.  How does she do it?  Once when I brought some homemade thing to a PTA meeting a working mom asked me how I had time to make it with three small kids.  But honestly, I look at her and think, wow! she is totally involved in PTA and her kids educations AND she's got an awesome career.  How does she do it?

    The answer is pretty simple - we all just do what we have to get it done and ignore the stuff that can be put off - like pretending I don't notice my socks sticking to the floor when I walk through the dining room.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    They're coming to take me away he he ha ha ho ho

    Sometimes living in my house feels like living in an insane asylum. 

    No nap for Zoey today - put her down twice, the second time I really thought it would take - until she walked in on me showering.  She wanted me to open the giant chocolate bunny pop that a neighbor had brought over for her.  Violet must have given it to her - you know, to be kind and helpful - because Zoey didn't know it existed and wouldn't have been able to reach it on the counter if she had known.  I took it away from her and it got to finish off my shower with me in the shower caddy.  Of course, before I was able to get out of the shower Violet had to come in and inform me she was done with her soccer ball marshmallow pop.  Is it so wrong to want to shower alone?

    Earlier today Violet called to me to help her in the bathroom.  When I walked in she said, "Hey Mom, wanna see my poop?!"  I said, "Yeah, sure, I'm dying to see your poop."  Not quite the right thing to say to a 3-year-old.  "WHAT?  Are you dying?!"

    Since Zoey wasn't taking a nap, it's only natural that Violet, who doesn't take naps anymore (at least not on purpose) fell asleep on the couch at 3:30.  Zoey left her alone for a while, but eventually started in on her puppy act, barking at Violet and jumping on her until she cried.  This is something new in the last few days - she barks for things instead of using words.  She's finally talking really well, so it seems appropriate that she'd now turn to barking and whimpering instead.  Yesterday at the Korean market she was yapping and whining, so I was cooing at her that she's a good puppy.  When she tried to climb out of the cart (none of the carts there have belts - ach!) I had to sternly say, "Bad dog - sit" so she would sit back down.  I know everyone I walked past in there thought I was crazy. 

    But that's okay, because I live in an insane asylum.