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.  


    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.