Monthly Archives: March 2016

And so it begins: dabbling in untruths.

This past Tuesday I took a much needed family sick day to be home with the kids. They all came down with colds and fevers which turned into coughs that have been lingering for over a week. We enjoyed a lazy morning together, reading books and watching episodes of Daniel Tiger and Wishenpoof—the kids’ latest discovery on Amazon Prime. I admit—regrettably— that my oldest knows her way around the three-remote control streaming system far better than I do. She’s a very capable child. Which is why, at nap time, I decided she could play by herself downstairs while the baby, toddler, and I attempted to get some rest.

After I had gotten the little two to fall asleep, I drifted off for a spell. I was awakened by a loud crash from downstairs. I picked my head up off the pillow and strained to listen for more noise. I heard none. Was this a good sign or a bad sign? I was tempted to fall back to sleep, dazed as I was, trusting that all was okay.

Instead, my parenting judgment got the best of me, and I grumpily padded down the stairs to see what the ruckus had been. I found my oldest girl singing quietly to herself in the kitchen, crouched down, and hunched over the snack basket, which usually resides on the top of the fridge. I made little noise, and so she hadn’t yet spotted me from my position in the doorway. She was too busy rustling through the bags of chips, pretzels, goldfish, veggie sticks, and who knows what else.

I quietly observed that one of the little pink wooden chairs from the art table in the living room had been pushed against the side of the refrigerator. I didn’t need a detective to tell me that she had carried the chair there and placed it just so to try and reach the basket on top of the fridge.

Still, even standing at her full height on the chair, she wouldn’t have been able to reach the basket. She must have used some kind of stick-like object, or at least gotten hold of one of the basket strings, to push or pull the basket from its resting place.

Without trying to startle her too badly, I said, “Nora, honey. What are you doing?”

Once she recovered from the intrusion, she said—without missing a beat—“I was just trying to reach a magnet on the top of the fridge, and then this whole basket came falling down.”

Right, I thought. That’s exactly what you were doing.

I couldn’t even call her out on the blatant lie. I was trying too hard to keep myself from laughing about the whole situation. Like I said, she’s a very capable child.

So, I helped her to open a snack bag, gave her a handful of veggie sticks, and then attempted to go back to sleep.

Of course, the baby woke up five minutes later.

 

 

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Back to school, back to school. To prove to Dad that I’m not a fool.

If you get the title reference, you are either an Adam Sandler fan, or you were a college-ish-age kid—like me—circa 1996-1997. At least that’s when I remember binge-watching all of those silly flicks.

Anyway, the point is: I am starting a new job. Tomorrow. What?!

That’s right. Sometime over the past month and a half I managed to get my resume out to some schools, land an interview, and secure a full time job teaching ESL to grades 3-5 at a local elementary school (very similar to my last teaching job in PA).

I have mixed feelings about it all. I’m looking forward to having some more time to myself—like enjoying the fifteen minute ride between work and home to listen once again to NPR. Or just the sound of silence. I’m also looking forward to making some connections with other adults. And, can’t say I’m troubled by the fact that we’ll once again be a two-income family.

However, leaving behind my three little buddies will be very hard. I feel like maybe—just maybe—I finally got the hang of this stay-at-home mom thing. Sure, those little nuts drive me bonkers every day. But I’ve been in a real place of peace with them lately. And I’ll miss our weekly trips to the library, the beach playground, and the seaport in Mystic. I will NOT, however, miss the grocery trips with all of them in tow.

I’ll rest easy, though, because we’ve found someone AMAZING—again, with the help of the Internet—to care for the kids. We’re batting four for four here with our sitter success stories. We’ve hung out with our new friend a handful of times already, and even my clingiest Frances approves. In fact, Nora today told me that she just wants me to go back to work already so she can get on with the business of hanging out with the sitter. Ha!

At least I know we’ve chosen well. Wish me luck this week!

 

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My three littles at the local St. Patrick’s Day parade this afternoon. They are all tired and sunny-eyed!

 

Kids playing at trickery. And failing hilariously.

Liam has been trying to teach the girls some jokes lately. I think Nora kind of gets the humor, but not really. She has a good memory, though, so she’s able to retell them flawlessly. Frances, on the other hand, has just about no clue, but realizes I will laugh at whatever she says regardless, so she just throws it all on the table. 

From earlier today…

Nora: “Mom. Wanna hear a joke?”

Me: “Sure do!”

Nora: “Where did the pencil go on vacation?”

Me: “I don’t know. Where?”

Nora: “Pencil-vania!”

Me: “Hahahaha! That’s a good one!”

Frances: (not to be outdone-ever) “I’ve got a joke.”

Me: “OK. Let’s hear it.”

Frances: (looks at ground for inspiration and—apparently—finds it) “Where did the dirt go on vacation?”

Me: (looks at Nora and winks because recognizes this is going nowhere fast) “I don’t know. Where?”

Frances: “To Pennsylvania! And Mr. Dirt was driving!”

Me: (erupts into genuine laughter)

The fact that she felt the need to add that last bit about Mr. Dirt driving is hysterical. Just brilliant.

Then later, trying on the knock-knock joke for size.

Frances: “Mama—knock-knock.”

Me: “Who’s there?”

Frances: “Don’t worry. Papa Bear is here to give you a hug.”

Me: Okaaaay. “Hahahaha!”

Frances: (smiles proudly)

I wasn’t worried. But perhaps I should be!

                   ————-

We’ve gotten into a routine of doing a nightly talent show after dinner, thanks to my sister-in-law, Clare. She had the kids and their cousins performing in the living room a few weeks ago and it just stuck.

Usually, the kids choose to dance or sing. Liam, however, has been performing rusty magic tricks for the kids (think marble behind the ear type stuff). 

Tonight Nora decided to perform a trick. She vanished into the playroom for a time and then reappeared wearing a red Melissa and Doug dress up fire hat. Also, she had a metal play kitchen ladle that was doubling as a wand.

She told us she was going to make some magic things come out of her hat. Only—the second she removed the red plastic hat from her head, everything she planned on making magically appear fell out onto the carpet. 

The next few seconds were priceless. She was embarrassed and humiliated—at least asuch as any near five-year-old might be. She wasn’t sure how to proceed, or even if she could still perform, having given away her trick. Liam and I were dying trying to control our hysterics. Dying.

Luckily Liam jumped right in saying, “We didn’t see anything. Quick! Start over! Start over!”

Gratefully, Nora settled her shaking lip, took the bait to save face, and shoved everything back inside the hat. Meanwhile, we were still trying so hard to keep a straight face.

Then she said: “For my first trick, I am going to pull a robe out of my hat. Abracadabra!”

We oohed and ahhed for effect.

However, as she was struggling to apparently separate the clothing she’d shoved inside the hat, Nora pulled out the wrong item. “Oops!” she muttered aloud, looking up to see if we’d noticed. We played it off like we hadn’t. Again—dying!

She recovered nicely and pulled out the robe. We erupted into applause and oohed and ahhed some more. She then proceeded to pull out all the correct clothing—thanks be—and ended with a bow.

When she left to return her ‘props ‘ to the playroom, Liam and I finally allowed ourselves the freedom to crack up. What a moment. A talent show performance for the ages, really. I only wish we had thought to get it on video.

These kids playing at being older than they actually are—it’s just so dang FUNNY.

Talent show performance circa last week.

How dressing and diapering my son is akin to wrestling with and roping a wild hog.

Why does my child HATE having his clothing and diaper changed? 

For a little guy who’s super peaceful and pleasant much of the time, the frequent changes—filled with fitful movement, and at times, rage—bring out a very different side of his little personhood.

I suppose it doesn’t help that we’ve developed a habit of playing a game of chase on all of the beds—the sites of many a changing—whereupon the moment he’s placed on the bed, Rowan takes off crawling in the opposite direction with a playful, devilish look in his eye, avoiding capture as much as possible.

It’s all fun and games when Mommy’s yelling: “I’m gonna get you!” 

Except for when it’s not

Like when it’s diaper-changing time. Or PJ-putting-on time. Then it’s a real drag to be chasing down a wriggly worm. Trying to hold him in place to fasten sticky tabs, making sure excrement doesn’t get flung to the far corners of the room, and trying to button at least one of the three snaps on any given onesie.

Tonight, when I brought the little dude upstairs, he lunged out of my arms once he spotted the bed, fully aware of the fun he imagined was soon to be had. I don’t suppose it’s worth mentioning I nearly dropped him on his head in the process.

Then, as predicted, he took off like a shot to the middle of the mattress, just out of reach. I played a few obligatory rounds of “I’m gonna get you!” And then I tried to rein him in.

“Come here,” I said sternly. The boy just smiled, like I was some kind of clown, and proceeded to do downward dog type roly-poly flippy-dos on the bed covers. 

Once I wrangled him in and managed to get his daytime clothes off, I held him firmly in place to change his diaper. He wriggled this way and that—made worse by his tired state—and eluded my hold. 

I grabbed hold of his feet with one hand and the diaper with the other, and placed it just so, under his bottom. When I went to fasten the straps, Rowan pushed down hard with his feet on the bed, shifting his body backward and causing the diaper to fall out of alignment. This happened no less than five times, at which point I nearly called in the hubs to offer reinforcement. 

Usually, during times such as these, I can be heard muttering aloud through gritted teeth my oft-quoted phrase: “What are you doing? This is not rocket science!”

I mean, man-child has been having his diaper changed since the dawn of time. Or at the very least, since the dawn of—well, diapers.

I finally applied enough pressure to hold the child in place (I may have used forearms, elbows and knees), and the diaper was on. That left the jammies. Which was like trying to shove a bunch of crumbled up sausage back inside the casing. No easy task. Needless to say, I was sweating when all was said and done. And to think, this is a multi-daily ritual. 

The boy just cannot be bothered to deal with trivial matters such as these. He has lots of busy and wild work that needs doing.

If anyone has any advice to make diaper-changing less like a rodeo event and more like the docile chore it should be, I’m all ears. Please post your success stories in the comments.

Oh, and just a heads up: distraction with a toy? It’s a nice suggestion. Really. But…it doesn’t work. Rowan usually drops objects straightaway or chucks them someplace hard just so he can focus on the task of resuming the struggle, as usual. 

Who would’ve thought wrestling skills would come in handy with a near one-year-old? Not this mom!

Heard around the house: a tattling and whining edition.

As I predicted, the magic from Monday disappeared sometime in the middle of the night. In its place, normalcy has returned. And so, as promised, here is a post about tattling and whining. I’ve decided to keep a running record throughout the day of all the tells made to Mommy. 

Shall we begin?

7:45 a.m.

Frances: “Nora took the smoothie that has the blue straw. And blue’s my favorite color!”

Nora: “Fine. Here. Take it.”

Frances: “No. I want the red straw.”

This is typical fickle Frances. Such a pain in the arse.

8:30 a.m.

Nora: “Mama! I want to color and Frances is sitting in my seat!”

Frances: “No I’m not!” (She was.)

Me: “Well, Nora. Did you ask her kindly to move?”

My go-to tattling response is to ask the girls to first try to work it out themselves. Unfortunately, when one of the players is a stubborn, grouchy two-year-old, this doesn’t always work.

10:50 a.m.

Frances: (comes running into kitchen) “Mommy, Mommy! Nora not wearing her socks, so I’m not going to either!”

Nora: “Yes I am, Frances. (Takes off boot). See?”

Frances: (grumpily) “Then I’m gonna wear ’em too.”

Fine. Problem solved.

10:55 a.m. 

Nora: “Mama, Frances said she’s going to beat me into the car, but I told her it’s not a race.”

Frances: “Yes it is a race, Nora!”

Nora: “Mommy!”

Me: (says nothing, but thinks about running away to Mexico)

Sometimes silence is golden. And sometimes not. Sometimes ignoring the tattling just brings on more whining and arguing.

11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

No tattling or whining! We went to the park for an hour and enjoyed playing in the sunshine, followed by lunch at home and some reading of library books (read: the key to halting tattling—keeping kids engaged; sadly, this is not always possible).

2:05 p.m.

Frances: “Mommy. Nora had a date and I didn’t have one.”

Me: “That’s because Nora finished her carrot.”

Frances: “I not gonna eat my carrot. Ever!”

Me: “OK.”

Frances: “And I’m gonna knock these letters off the fridge.” (Proceeds to knock magnetic letters of fridge and onto floor.)

Nora: “Mama! Frances just threw the letters onto the floor!”

As if I hadn’t just witnessed the spectacle for myself and needed the play-by-play. So annoying!

4:30 p.m. 

Nora: “Mom. I was building a tower and then Frances wrecked it. And she did it on purpose. And I told her not to, and then she hit me!”

Me: “Frances, we don’t hit.” 

Incidentally, if I had a dime for all the times I’ve said these words to this child, I’d have enough dough to buy a week’s worth of groceries. Clearly, something is not working. 

Frances’s consequence in these situations is to be left alone. I want her to see that if she behaves in this way, she won’t have any friends. Time out doesn’t work for her and I won’t hit her myself, much as I’m tempted to. Only the leaving her alone doesn’t work all the time either, as the little sprite will often try to follow us around the house into different rooms as we try and make our point. What’s a mother to do, I ask?

6:30 p.m. (Getting ready for bed)

Frances: “Mommy, Nora’s not sleeping on the dust pillow!”

Oh, for heaven’s sake!

Nora’s been having difficulty hearing due to fluid buildup in her ears. The doctors suspect allergies, so before they recommend tubes, they want us to try to alleviate Nora’s symptoms by using hypoallergenic bedding. So, she’s supposed to sleep on one of two blue pillows that have dust-proof covers. Although they are meant to keep dust away, the girls have dubbed them dust pillows, and Frances is always eager to point out when Nora is not sleeping on hers.

For the love!

So, if anyone has any advice for dealing with these annoying behaviors, I’d love to hear it. I know that tiredness, boredom, too much time spent together, and sibling rivalry contribute to the tattling/whining mess, not to mention the girls’ sense of justice and fairness, mixed with a two-year-old’s limitations. 

But I wonder: Am I overinvolved? Not involved enough? Saying or doing the right things? 

Hopefully it’s all just a phase, and once the younger gets older, it’ll all stop. Or at least, lessen. If not, I feel  for the future teachers and peers of these two, not to mention their parents!

If it keeps up much longer I fear I’ll be calling out soon for my own MOMMY! to save me from it all! 😉

A magical Monday.

For some reason—maybe because it’s the day after the hustle and bustle of the weekend, or because two parents for two days is just too much—the girls seem to really delight in each other’s company on Mondays.

Today was no different. The girls woke up happy. They ate a great breakfast and proceeded to play well together all morning. It was amazing.

Instead of bickering, I heard snippets like: “Hey Nora. I have a great idea! Let’s play dollhouse. You can be all the girls and I’ll be all the boys!”

And then later: “Frances. Do you want to go upstairs and have a picnic in the crack?” (We have two beds pushed together in one room, and the girls love to wedge their feet in between them both in order to push them apart.) Playing in the crack is a real treat. Fishing wooden play food out from under the sheets at bedtime, or waking up with a felt mushroom under your shirt is not.

There was no whining. No hitting. No tattling. No screaming. It was so refreshing. We even enjoyed a pre-lunch walk to the beach since it was such a sunny, mild day.

In fact, things were going so well, I let Frances skip her nap. This way, I didn’t have to necessarily be an afternoon playmate for Nora. Instead, I got to read for fun and whip up a yummy and nutritious dinner.

To top off this day of great luck, the girls played for over an hour outside before Liam got home, digging in the dirt and making a ‘nest’ full of bush berries, grass, stones, and shells.

Can I get a celebratory whoop-whoop for all the peace we enjoyed today?

Tomorrow, I’m sure the girls will have tired of one another. Probably they’ll wake up grumpy and the first thing I’ll hear from Nora after breakfast will be: “Mom! I was just coloring and I asked Frances if I could help her and she hit me!”

And Frances will counter: “No I didn’t! And I’m not gonna color ever again. And I’m walking away. Because you are not kind.”

Or something along those lines. But that’s OK. Because today’s harmony will help see us through to another Magical Monday.

 

The kids among their driftwood forest.

 

Gluten-free seed bread!

 

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Happily crafting a nest for the birds.