Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Grinch

I just don't understand the adults of the world who dress up and run their errands in full Halloween regalia. It's bad enough to have to get my morning cup of decaf from a grouchy witch without having to endure staring at the back of Frankenstein while in line.

I have never liked this holiday, and participate in it with great reluctance. You will never catch me donning a witch's hat to hand out candy, and our porch light goes out promptly at 6:30 pm. I do not want my children awoken by ghouls and goblins who should really be doing homework or studying for the SATs.

Call me a Halloween grinch, but I will be the happiest person alive when the clock strikes 12 and we can resume our lives sans pumpkins, witches, and ghosts.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Call the Guinness Book

I believe a new world record was set today in the brevity of grandparent visit category. The kiddos were in rare form, spurred on by the aftermath of daylight saving and the discovery of the Halloween candy's hiding place. City Grandma and Grandpa arrived at 4:05 and by 4:45 the first noises were made about exiting our humble abode had been made. By 5:15, the only thing reminding us of the visit were the remains of cheese and crackers on the kitchen table and a house that looked remarkably clean for a Sunday afternoon.

I have to think it must be hard for City Grandma and Grandpa. City Grandma never had children of her own and married into the family during the teen rebellion years. City Grandpa, through circumstances including the death of his first wife and the nature of his job, was probably absent more than present when M and his sister were little. Even when you have faced the preschool years head on and survived, it must be shocking to be plunged back into it with no context or gradual warm up. If you have never really experienced it, it must seem like a war zone. Or a psychiatric ward, depending in your mindset.

M and I probably don't do as good a job as we should of making sure his parents spend enough time with the kids. Shlepping them into the city is a huge stress for me between the drive, the traffic, and the many "look but don't touch" objects littering their professionally decorated apartment. Having them out here is equally stressful as I have always felt like I need to prove that I am an adequate wife for their beloved son. I know I am not all they would have liked in a daughter-in-law, (Christian and Republican would have helped) and I know they were strongly opposed to our move to the burbs (and this burb in particular), which was pretty much dictated by me.

I am also afraid that they are somewhat intimidated by my family, which on my Dad's side is large and clannish, and on my mom's is, well, omnipresent and overpowering. Tonight as City Grandma and Grandpa were leaving, instead of asking when he was going to see them again C asked when we were going to see Nana and the Maine house. I felt terrible, and tried to brush it off, but it was clear that City Grandma was hurt. When you ask him who his cousins are, he can only name Baby C (my sister's daughter), who he has seen twice in his life. When prompted he can come up with Cousins L and N (M's sister's kids), but given how frequently he sees them they should be the first names on his lips.

I'm unclear on what my role is here. Although I don't want my children to feel alienated from any one part of their family, I also don't want to force a relationship that isn't desired. While my in-laws clearly feel connected to C and A in some way, they don't seem to have an interest in being hands-on grandparents. I've always been careful not to try to force them to interact with the kids, and have in fact gone out of my way to make sure that when we do visit that they don't feel the need to take on responsibilities that they don't want. But when they don't offer up help are they demonstrating a lack of interest or a fear of overstepping bounds? I'm not sure. And I'm not sure how to determine that without hurting feelings.

As C and A get older, they will undoubtedly find their own way of interacting with each set of grandparents. Until then I'll continue to host my in-laws as frequently as they would like to visit, and encourage C and A to draw them pictures and call them to announce important events or serenade them with a rendition of happy birthday. I know that despite differences in parenting and grandparenting approaches, everyone wants what is best for my kids.

The seeds have already been sown....

Today my in-laws are making a surprise and unprecedented 2nd trip to the burbs in less than a month. After a rushed morning trying to get everyone to church on time, I raced home with kids in tow and began a frantic dash around the house to make it look, well, in-law ready. As I was picking up the playroom C started pulling on my leg in an insistent way, and I finally took a moment to snap "What?"

C:" I need you to fix my tent and tunnel."

Mommy:"I can't right now, I have to put away all of the books and art supplies."

C: "But Mommy, my tent and tunnel have to look their best when Grandma and Grandpa arrive. Please?"

I apologize to both C and his future therapist. I have apparently done a lousy job of trying to not pass on the perfectionism thing to yet another generation....

Saturday, October 29, 2005

It's the small things that make one happy

Although no one but me will care, I am now the proud owner of a slightly used but totally awesome bread machine for much less than a new lousy one would have cost. I love eBay.

A big shout out...

to ko-karma over at Whatever, Mom for introducing me to the best thing to hit my freezer since my mother cooked up a storm after A was born. A blissful morning was spent sipping coffee and putting together meals that someone else prepped and cleaned up after. Life doesn't get much better than that.

I thank you, M thanks you, and my children might even thank you, although I doubt it.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Mommy Time

As I was trying to get C into his room for quiet time this afternoon he called out from his room: "But I need mommy time!" EXCUSE ME? This was a statement worth pursuing.

Mommy: "You need WHAT?"

C: "Mommy time."

Mommy: "What do you mean by that?"

C: "You know. Mommy time."

Mommy: "Why don't you explain it to me, just to be sure I understand."

C: (big sigh) "I've had a lot of playdates and soccer and school and stuff and I just need some mommy time."

Mommy: "Well, that's what you're getting. Time alone in your room to play what you want how you want it."

C: (big eye roll) "No silly. Mommy time means I get to hang out with you!"

Apparently Mommy and C have VERY different ideas concerning the definition of "mommy time."

Revisiting a past life

This is the time of year that my old life tends to resurface. Lovely Boss at the consulting firm I did a brief stint at right before C was born starts ramping up projects and needs to staff them. New, Confused Grad Student assigned to my old projects at U of X finally finds my notes and tracks me down. Mentor, having been reminded of my existence by New, Confused Grad Student, gets antsy and places a call to see when I'm going to be done with this mothering gig and return to the fold. This year, a surprise late entry into the "make her feel like a waste of a life" contest was Psychotic Director who drove me from academia to the private sector.

Every year I sit at the kitchen table with M and rehash whether I made the right decision leaving it all behind. I am fearful that it will be impossible to return to that life after taking such a long break. I debate the usefulness of auditing a course or two at the not-so local university just to keep a hand in things, but fear I'll get sucked right back in when I'm not yet ready. I dig up my old research to see if I still remember what used to consume my life (and sometimes to help out New, Confused Grad Student if she makes a particularly desperate plea).

The first year post-C I actually took a stab at doing some projects for Lovely Boss and Mentor from home, and realized I was incapable of doing it part-time. I couldn't easily walk away when it was time for the babysitter to leave or when someone woke up early and wanted milk and hugs. Perhaps due to the fog of pregnancy, I made a second attempt right before A was born and again ended up incredibly frustrated. This year no one made much of an effort to woo me back, which sent me into a full-fledged panic attack. Up until now I think I could have walked back into any of my old positions and picked up close to where I left off. Since the birth of A I haven't kept up well with the current research and news, and it shows. I am getting to the point of no return.

After dropping off C and A this morning, I raced home and pulled up the course catalog and job listings from the not-so-local university and tried to figure out how I could make it work. The answer was that I couldn't, not without impacting my children's lives more than I was willing to do. Leading me right back to where I always end up after one of these episodes, wiping tushies and serving up grilled cheese for two adorable children. This year though, that inner voice that always told me it was a temporary situation has been silent. Although I know there is an end to the tushie wiping, and someday the grilled cheese will be provided by a lunch lady, it is starting to dawn on me that I may not be returning to the life I used to have. And I'm not sure what to do about that except morn.

Daylight Saving

This weekend used to be one of my favorite ones. The clocks went back an hour and I could wake up, realize that it was much earlier than my internal clock thought, and happily snuggle back into bed. Unfortunately, I now live in fear of the end of Daylight Saving all year long. This is the weekend I LOSE at least an hour of sleep.

You see, no one tells the toddlers and preschoolers of the world that their internal clocks are wrong. And if you try to tell them that six is really five, they'll laugh at you. I may have a glimmer of hope with C this year as he now knows how to read a clock, but A? Forget it. Her internal clock is already so hopelessly out of synch with the rest of ours I figure we won't recover from this weekend for months. In fact, probably not until it's time to turn the clocks the other way.

We've been trying to shift her schedule for the past several weeks with little success. In her ideal world she would go to bed at 6:30 pm and wake up at 5 am (which is soon to be 4 am). I just can't. get. up. then. I can't. Our attempts have led to nothing but an over-tired toddler and mommy. She'll now go down happily at 7:30, but still wakes at 5. Not only have we lost an hour during the night, her already too short nap has dwindle to almost non-existent. Thankfully she's a cheerful camper in the early morning hours, allowing me to wake up and get my bearings, but by 10 am or so the melt begins. I can only imagine that this weekend's shift will lead to, probably many tears from me, several choice words from M, and a steadfast refusal to ignore her internal clock from A.

I can only hope that eventually her need for sleep will cause her to decide to change her waking hour but I'm very unclear on how long that will take. My guess is longer than I would like. In the meantime, I am seriously thinking about reintroducing caffeine into my life.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Aftermath

I think we all needed today. I really do. I'm not a big "go go go" person, and while we are by no means an over-programmed family when compared to the rest of town, I still feel like we have too much. Between preschool, soccer and swimming, we have to be out of the house every day for SOMETHING. C loves soccer, so I would hate to give that up. He has to learn to swim as the in-laws are serious sailors and until he can tread water for hours on end I will be a nervous wreak everytime he heads out with them. Preschool is what it is, at this point I wish I had opted for the two day a week class, but hindsight is 20/20.

C was thrilled beyond belief to be home all day. Every ten minutes he asked: "We really get to stay home ALL DAY?" A was a bit more perplexed by the situation, and finally took to carrying around my keys and purse when it became clear that her standing at the door shouting "Go, go" wasn't actually getting us anywhere. While I admit that an entire day of refereeing the sibling nonsense took its toll on me (Calgon, take me away), this was the first day in I don't know how long that I haven't been plagued by a heart palpitation. The cats, on the other hand, will be cheering as we rush out of here at 8:55 tomorrow morning.

And the verdict is

At 9:35 am we are out of our PJ's. A messy art project led to the quick plunge of all sleepwear into a washing machine full of oxyclean. Much fun was had by everyone but mommy, however, which I suppose makes it all worth it. We are now moving on to watching the construction going on next door...

Gee I hope the paints really are should have seen A's mouth.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pajama Day

I hereby declare tomorrow Pajama Day. We will not be attending soccer, we will not be scheduling a playdate, we are going to be one with our jammies and couch. Or floor. Or bed. Or whatever somewhat comfortable surface strikes our fancy.

Hopefully this will pull us all out of the funk that has enveloped our lives the past few days. Or else it will lead to an emergency outing post-nap to restore us to our regularly scheduled life. Tune in tomorrow to see...

(And B, if you need to drop E on the way to ballet feel free, just be forewarned that he will have to bring jammies to fit in with the cool kids.)

Filling up your day

When asked on the Today Show this morning why Internet video clips like this one gain popularity so quickly, an "expert" (on what I am not sure) said, "The average American worker can only spend so many hours a day playing solitaire, on-line poker and Scrabble. They need something else to fill up their day." Did anyone else pick up on what is glaringly wrong with this statement?

SCRABBLE? You're telling me that the average American worker is playing SCRABBLE as part of their daily time-wasting routines? Obviously the times have changed since I was in the workforce. If folks are playing Scrabble at work perhaps I should think seriously about returning to an office. Hey, had I known Scrabble was an option, I may never have left.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dumb Cat

It's raining yet again here, a nice windy, driving rain. What does General (our not so smart cat) decide to do? Bolt outside when M leaves for work. Then cower under the car howling at the top of his lungs.

C: "Mommy....General is sad."

Mommy: "Yep, I bet he is. It's raining and he's outside."

C: "Maybe he wants you to go get him."

Mommy: "Yep, I bet he does." Long pause, uncomfortable silence.

C: "Are you going to get him?"

Mommy: "Nope. Are you?"

C: "I might get wet."

Mommy: "Exactly."


Mommy: "Dumb cat. Where's the umbrella."

C: "In the car."

Mommy: "Dumb cat."

After General had been retrieved, dried off, and fed a nice meal, what did he decide he wanted to do? Go outside again.

General: "AWRRAGGG. AWRRAGGG." Expectant look.

C: "General, Mommy doesn't make the same mistake twice. If you go out there you're on your own."

It's scary to here your sayings come out of your children's mouths. And no, Mommy didn't make the same mistake twice. General is still prowling from door to door hoping that one of them is the door to summer. If only he could walk through walls.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Who knew

Karaoke on Demand. Who knew. A good hour of entertainment for everyone. C and A got to dance around watching Mommy make a fool out of herself, and I got validation that yes, indeed, I made the right choice in never agreeing to do this in public.

Overheard at a playdate

C: "Julia, will you live with me? I just love you so much." Which was met with dead silence. Wise choice Julia, he hasn't learned to put the toilet seat down yet. And he hogs blankets. Equal sharing of household chores? Forget it.

Later, after C had many touch and go incidents in the use of words department:

C: "I'm very disappointed. I'm very disappointed in you."

Mommy: "C, why are you disappointed?'

C: "I'm disappointed when she says no."

Maybe the "express your feelings" and "use your words" mantras are actually getting us someplace after all.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Apraxia Revisited

I've noticed that a fair number of people stumble upon my blog looking for information on apraxia. I stopped blogging for a while after my post on C's diagnosis, which probably leaves you all rather curious to see what the rest of the story was. I feel badly that there isn't more coverage of the whole saga on here, so I thought I would give a cliff notes version for those of you interested in the topic.

After C was diagnosed with apraxia of speech, which is I believe where I last left off, we quickly entered into the world of speech therapy. We lucked into an amazing therapist, who while not my particular cup of tea personality-wise, turned out to be an amazing woman who accomplished more in two months than we as parents had been able to do in several months of hard work. Let that be lesson number one, even if you don't believe therapy will make a difference (I didn't), it will. A sub-set to that lesson, make sure you find a therapist who knows what he or she is doing. I've run across many people who have not had as good an experience with their therapists, and from what I can tell, it becomes very clear very early on as to whether the relationship is going to work out or not.

We saw S twice a week for about seven months, and got pages upon pages of homework after each session. Lesson number two is: do the homework. The weeks we didn't because life got in the way, it showed. She did a whole range of different exercises with him, many of them picture based. We worked on one letter at a time, starting with "b" and moving in a seemingly random pattern that was actually based on the sounds he was able to make that she could pick up on but we could not. She also worked on teaching him ways to make sounds based on the tongue movements he could and couldn't do, which, while not the correct way to make them, made him more intelligible to outsiders.

After the first couple of months she began working with him on trying to get his tongue to make a full range of motion. When we started the process, he could only move his tongue in and out of his mouth. He couldn't touch the roof of his mouth or either cheek. As of right now he can touch the roof of his mouth and the right side, but not the left. This was probably the hardest part of the process for C as he got so frustrated that he couldn't do what she wanted him to do. There were many tears on the way back from her office.

In August, seven months after starting therapy, she retested him and he came in at an age appropriate level and she advised us to give him a break for a bit and to come back when he turns four to get tested again. Based on where he is now I'm guessing that we will end up going back into therapy, but the improvement that has been made to date has been truly astounding. Because he made progress so fast, we were skeptical of his diagnosis, and at our last session with S we asked if she was holding to her original diagnosis. She said yes, but she felt it was a much milder case than she had originally estimated. The inital treatment plan had called for two plus years of therapy, and we were able to "catch up" in under a year. For which we were very grateful.

So there you go, while I imagine this is not the type of information you were looking for when you came here, I hope it helps a bit. If you have additional questions or want to get the unabridged version, feel free to email me

Not much else to tell

In reality, there is not much else to tell about last night's escapades. The answering service at our pediatrician's office left a lot to be desired (it took them an hour + to get back to us, at which point we were already in the ER), the local pediatric ER was lovely (and we were in and out in less time than it took the pediatrician's office to call us back), and C didn't shed a tear during the whole procedure.

As a result of his tearless visit and normal boyish charm, he was showered with hugs, stickers, treats, and toys by the nurses and doctors. Meaning that the take-away from this whole experience as expressed on the way home was:

"I like the hospital. I think we should go see the doctors there more often. They're almost as nice as Dr. S. She's got a better waiting room though."

While perhaps not the take-away I would have chosen, I suppose it beats developing the deep-rooted fear of doctors and needles that I have.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

It's amazing we haven't been there before this

We just got back from our first trip to the ER with C. As he jumped with glee when it was announced that ravioli was now available on the kitchen table, he also took a flying leap off of the stool on which he was standing to inspect the bread offerings, and landed chin first on the open kitchen drawer.

I will recount the details later as my sushi just arrived and after watching my son be stitched up by a woman much younger than myself (have I mentioned that I generally faint at the sight of blood???), I seemed to have developed a need for much food and wine.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A little Martha never hurt anyone

So during the blissful two hours that my children were out of the house this morning (C at school and A at Mother's Morning Out, which is, I suppose, glorified group babysitting but we like to call it pre-pre-school around here) I communed with my kitchen.

The results are as follows:

One loaf of rosemary olive bread, courtesy of Rebecca's breadmaker;

Pumpkin tarts, thanks to Phantom Scribbler's crust recipe;

and Elegant Beef Stew, thanks to my crockpot.

Thanks to everyone who caused my mother to remark upon her entrance to my home that something smelled good. Now if only it tastes as good as it smelled....

She'll be coming on the choo choo when she comes

My mother swoops in today on the train from Boston. The arrival of "Nana" is always the cause of much activity in the house. M tries to finish up all the little projects whose lack of completion might reflect poorly on him. I take several trips to the grocery store to stock up on food and then cook and bake bread so there is a plethora of dining options. C collects items which he believes will please her and stores them in zip lock bags on the dining room table. A runs happily around the house calling "Nana, Nana, Nana" at the top of her lungs, a little unclear on what the excitement is all about but quite sure that it is reason to scream.

The various activities associated with this trip have included:

The repainting of the downstairs bath for the fourth time;
The removal of the beer making equipment from the kitchen;
The weeding and cleaning of the flower beds (along with a mistaken chopping down of the lilac bush in the name of aggressive pruning);
The washing of the futon covers to erase all signs that the kids colored somewhere other than the kitchen table;
The making of three loaves of whole wheat and multi-grain bread, one vat of Cider House Lamb Stew, one pot of Elegant Beef Stew and two spinach and cheddar cheese quiches; and
The collection of one can of diced tomatoes (no-salt added), two silver forks (unpolished), three black crayons (unsharpened), and assorted stickers (used)

I'll leave it to your imaginations to decide which activities belong to which individual.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I've got nothing today. Not a thought in my head besides how many hours until bedtime. It's been one. of. those. days.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Fairy Tales Come to Life

Mommy: "C, why is there a Percy train under the futon mattress?"

C: "I had to find out if Nana was a true princess or not. I was going to use a pea, but I'm not allowed to take food out of the kitchen."

Mommy: "Uh....OK."

Apparently C's agenda for the impending arrival of my mother is a bit different than mine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Genes are a wondrous thing

For the last several weeks, A has decided that her lovey of choice is a book. Yep, no snuggly stuffed animals or blankets for her, the one thing she needs more than anything to fall asleep is a book clutched in her little hands. I fought it for a few days, and then decided if she wanted to sleep with her cheek smushed up against a hard book cover instead of a pillow, who was I to intervene.

This evening, a good half hour after putting the kids to bed, I heard a strange rustling noise coming from A's monitor. I snuck upstairs and quietly opened her door, only to find her sitting up in her crib as close to the nightlight as possible squinting over her book of choice for the night. She looked guiltily up at me, and quickly closed the book and lay back down. I tucked her in with the blanket that makes me happy, and returned downstairs before the giggles erupted from my mouth.

When I was little, my dad used to have to come in and yell at me to stop reading, turn out the lights and go to sleep. As I grew older, my sneakiness increased, and when I heard him coming I would race to switch off the lamp. He figured that one out within days and began touching the light bulb to see if it was hot. I next moved to the flashlight under the covers trick, which was also quickly discovered and banned. After I began claiming (at the age of 9) that I was afraid of the dark and had to have the bathroom light on to sleep, I think he finally gave up and decided that it was my teacher's problem if I was cranky the next day and a truce was reached. I would read until my parents went to bed and then had to act chipper the next morning until they departed for work.

Apparently, A has more of her mommy's genes than originally thought. I always said I wanted a little girl to read Betsy Tacy with, and it looks like I got my wish. Although based on her book choice this evening (Thomas the Tank Engine) we may have to start out slow in the chick lit genre.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Artsy Craftsy

Today was the day that C's "Halloween Hat" was due into preschool. What, you ask, is a Halloween hat? It is a project designed to torture me. Each child was sent home with one plastic top hat (blue, because that is such a Halloween color) and asked to use their creativity to come up with "a spooky, creepy, and original" design, which they will proudly wear in lieu of a costume during the Halloween parade. Shoot me, please.

I am not an artsy craftsy mom. In my opinion, 3/4 of the reason C goes to pre-school is so others may instruct him in the arts. I hate paint, I hate glitter, and I really hate glue. In September the lead teacher pulled me aside after school and suggested I buy C a pair of scissors as he was the only child in the class who didn't know how to cut. It hadn't even occurred to me that I should be teaching a three and a half year old how to cut. I figured it was one of those things they learned in kindergarten. But, buy scissors I did as C apparently reported to back to class daily that "Mommy hasn't found the right pair for me yet" and it was getting a bit embarrassing.

So when the flyer and top hat arrived in the backpack a few weeks ago, I sobbed inwardly while sounding shrill, slightly hysterical cries of "How fun! What a wonderful idea!" Then the hat sat on top of the fridge for a good week while I tried to ignore the situation. But Friday a "friendly reminder" arrived in the backpack and I was forced to confront the Halloween hat issue.

This was clearly a project requiring glue, probably some glitter, and most definitely scissors. Out of the depths of my locked "art" drawer I dug out some pom-poms, some glitter, some glue, and several sheets of construction paper. Thankfully a couple of them were orange. "Maybe C has some thoughts on what should go on a Halloween hat" I thought to myself. Nope, his suggestion was a green bulldozer. Or a pink choo choo. I convinced him that orange, white and black were more appropriate colors, and that was about the extent of the mommy input on the process.

The outcome was so lame that I didn't take a picture. The top of the hat had six orange and white pom-poms stuck to it and the front had a pom-pom face. The back was an assorted collection of shapes coated with glitter glue. It was clear that this was not an award winning project. Even C looked at it skeptically when we admired the finally product in the mirror.

C: "I dunno Mommy, it doesn't look the way I thought a Halloween hat would."

Mommy: "It's lovely! It'll be great! Do you think there will be candy at school for the party?"

During the transport of the hat to school this morning, the majority of the decorations came unglued. As we carried the bedraggled hat into the classroom along with the pom-poms I had managed to snag before they floated off through the parking lot, I took stock of the other hats arriving. There were spiders dangling from strings, candy-corns the spelled out trick-or-treat, even an elaborate ghost that was somehow attached to the top of the hat.

As I handed the hat to the teacher and asked for some glue to reattach the lost pom-poms, she gave me a look which clearly said "slacker." Then she cheerily turned to C and told him that she would help him "fix' his hat during snack and turned back to me asking if I knew about tacky glue.

"Tacky glue? What happened to Elmers? I thought all children's art projects revolved around Elmers." Apparently not. As I slunk out of the classroom in search of tacky glue, yet another "spooky, creepy and creative" design walked in. Perhaps I will outsource the holiday craft project. There has to be some well deserving childless friend out there who has been dying to experience preschool art. Anyone? Anyone?

When Is It Really Morning?

At what point is it really morning? When you wake up and can't get back to sleep at 3am? When your 17 month old wakes up at 5am with a dirty diaper and wants out of her crib? When your preschooler pees through his pull up and wants to watch TV while you change his sheets? When the sun rises? Or when the last member of your household wakes and decides it is time to go to work to escape the chaos? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ditto to You with Apologies

While I may have to put up with a grammar b-i-t-c-h for a friend, she has to put up with my children vomiting on her floor. As well as with my husband not understanding why, once your child has puked up dinner and lunch on someone's (thankfully) tile floor, it is generally time to make hasty apologies and depart. Even if Goggle Earth is really cool.

Apologies, apologies, all around. And to ease your mind, there has been no more vomit and much eating accomplished since then.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Brother, What Brother Part Two

So this afternoon I tried working with A on C's name. The conversation went something like this.

Mommy: "C."

A: "No no" (giggle giggle).

Mommy: "C. I see a picture of C."

A: "No no no" (giggle giggle).

Mommy: "Who do you see?"

A: "Me. Baby."

Mommy: "No, not that picture, this one."

Pregnant pause....

A: "No No. Dis one. A" (giggle giggle).

I give up.

Brother, What Brother?

Despite my earlier post, A and C do love each other, in their own way. C is one of the few children A gives the time of day to, in general she looks other kids up and down, and then walks away to do her own thing. But she will pester and pester and pester C until he finally plays with her (and then screams bloody murder when he doesn't do it her way). If you ask her who he is in a picture or ask her what his name is, however, she gives a sly smile, giggles and does the baby version of a shrug.

Her vocabulary is now past the point that I can count the number of words and we have moved into two and three word sentences (I sitting! One more minute!). There is no reason besides KNOWING it drives him crazy that she cannot come up with even a rough approximation of his name. She has had names for many members of our playgroup and her stuffed animals for weeks, so she obviously gets the concept. She's doing it deliberately to get his goat.

Yesterday was the ultimate in sibling torture. We were inspecting the pictures on the fridge and as she pointed to the love of C's life, she broke out in a grin and said "Juya." This sent C into the far, deep realms of hysterics. "SHE CAN SAY JULIA. SAY C. SAY C. What about ME?" For the next 45 minutes, he followed her around screaming "Say C!" and she kept responding with the sly smile and a shrug.

While I fear the day she turns the metal games my direction, I have to applaud her success at getting her brother where it hurts. He may be able to overpower her physically, steal her toys, and best her at any game of tag or hide and go seek, but she is wining the mental game right now and she knows it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Word of the Day is Dead

C discovered the pictures of M's real mom today. She was killed in a car accident when M was about nine, and he has no memories of her or his life before that day except those told to him or the snippets he remembers from the few pictures there are of her. As C is familiar with all of the other people adorning our walls and end tables, he appropriately asked, "Who is this?"

"That's Daddy's mommy" (and under my breath "Oh please don't go there").

"Grandma C is Daddy's mommy."

"Well, she is, but she's not his real Mommy. Remember when we talked about how there are all different sorts of families, and why Mommy has two Mommies and two Daddies?"


"Well, Daddy has two Mommies too."

"But where is she? I know your mommies and your daddies but I've never met her."

Gulp. "Ummm, well, you won't. We only have pictures of her from a long time ago."


"She died. Do you know what that means?"

"It means you have to throw something out."


"You know, like this morning when your breadmaker didn't work, you said it was dead and you had to throw it out. Daddy didn't throw his mommy out, did he?"

Damn the English language. "No. Daddy didn't throw his Mommy out. Dead is one of those words that sometimes gets used in different ways. When a person is dead it means (double gulp) that they don't live with us anymore."

"Like you don't live with Nana?"

"No, Mommy put that wrong." I had to pause here for a very long time to try and figure out where to go next. I finally defaulted to "She's in heaven with God, and that means that she can't come down to visit us." I paused to see where he was going next with this, hoping the phone would ring or some other distraction would come along.

"What's her name?"

"It's K."

Big smile from C. "Like A's second name!!!!!!! Is A named after her like I'm named after Nana?"

"Yes, she is. It was very important to Daddy that A have part of his Mommy."

"I like her name. She's pretty too. Can I have some milk? Soy, not cow."

"You sure can."

I was so unclear on how I should have handled this one. While M and his family believe in heaven, I do not. I really wanted to try to answer this one without defaulting to the heaven and God answer, but I was terrified of making C even more hysterical about separating from me than he already is right now. Thanks to Sunday School he knows about God and angels and sees them as non-threatening things. His favorite book right now is a child's bible, and while we're still in my comfort zone of the Old Testament, at some point we'll be making the jump to the new and I'm going to have to face my issues or turn the religious education over to M. So right or wrong, I decided to go with the party line, so to speak, and fill out the discussion when he gets a little older and I've done a lot more research on the subject of explaining death to children.

In the meantime, the pictures of K have moved a little higher up on the bookshelf.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Silver Lining

A day which had the potential to go downhill oh so fast turned out to be a decent one. A was so tired from her escapades last night that she napped for a solid two hours this afternoon. C also took a lovely nap as, unlike his sister, the sound of rain drumming on the roof seems to lull him to sleep. For the bonus round, M arrived home two hours early as he was afraid the roads would be flooded. There is a silver lining to all this rain. Perhaps I should stop encouraging my kids to sing "Rain Rain Go Away."

Decaf Just Ain't Cutting It

Sleep deprivation has reached a new low in our house this morning. Or should I say MY sleep deprivation has reached a new low. M was working late last night so, after my fill of blogging and on-line holiday shopping (less than 80 days you know), I took myself to bed for some TIVO lullabyes. About 20 minutes after falling asleep the phone rings, and we all know that when the phone rings at 11+am the news is never good. The upside was no one was dead, the downside, M was still in the city with his parents now in tow and was spending the night at their apartment.

Up I rise to put out the trash, convince the cat he did not want to stay out in the rain, turn off lights and set the alarm. By the time this was all done I was wide awake. And so was A. After getting her back down I dozed back off, only to be wakened by a silent C staring at me. "Hi Mom." "Huh? What? What's wrong?" "Elmo fell out of bed and I need you to tuck him in." "You can't do this yourself?" "No, he asked for you." Unable to refute Elmo logic at midnight, I escort C and Elmo to bed, conduct the elaborate tucking in ceremony that seemed like such a good idea at 7pm one night, and return to bed only to find the cat whining because her usual sleeping partner was happily snoring away in a bed many miles away.

At this point I debated returning downstairs and finishing up my holiday shopping as it is probably only a matter of minutes before A is up again, but the lure of my pillow won. Unfortunately, A set a world record for night wakings last night, apparently she doesn't find the lull of rain falling on the roof as relaxing as the rest of us. I finally called it a night at 5:30ish when C wet the bed.

I tend to play down the fact that my almost 17 month old (or is she 18, I can't do the math yet today) has not slept though the night since she was four months (no you are not reading that wrong, it's backwards, I know). It is a tad, well, embarrassing and I am afraid it points to my self-proclaimed parenting style of "whatever's easiest." In this case, what was easiest was getting up in the middle of the night, as instead of being up for hours listening to her cry herself to sleep I could be done in five minutes. As I sit here sipping my decaf coffee, I fear that I made the wrong choice many months ago but can't quite wake up enough to figure out how to rectify the situation. Hopefully her love of being up in the middle of the night will lead to a more stellar academic career than mine....

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sibling Rivalry

For the last month, sibling rivalry has taken itself to a new level in our house. C sits on my lap, A bites him. I read A one book, C must have two. I've been trying my hardest to make it all work out evenly, but the reality is that I am so sleep deprived I can't remember who uses the Blues Clues toothbrush and who uses the one with the cartoon character whose identity is a mystery to all of us. So figuring out who has had how many lap sits and how many books anyone has had in a given day looks like calculus to me (and don't ask what my grade was in THAT course in college).

I am unclear how to proceed here. The parenting magazines tell me I should be letting my kids work it out for themselves. I can only assume that they must be talking about children who have a much better grip on self control than mine, as if I let them work it out amongst themselves we would be making a hasty trip to the ER. My mother (after a good five minutes of snickers) tells me that her solution was to send us to the barn to duke it out where she couldn't hear. Again, I must assume we were a wee bit older than 18 months and three and a half (and we won't comment on the fact that there is no barn on our small plot of land). M shrugs and tells me they behave beautifully when he is supervising, but is somewhat less than convinced that switching careers is the solution.

I have a feeling that this is yet another parenting dilemma that will only be solved by time and the eventual departure of one child for an institution of higher education. Until then, I've gone with moving the laptop back into the playroom. Not only am I distracted from the civil war at hand, but I can generally occupy at least one child by reading excerpts from whatever webpage I happen to be surfing. It may not be the solution approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, but it seems to be working for us. And at this point, that's all I care about.

Monday, October 10, 2005

How to Have a Romantic Dinner with your Husband

1) Invite your in-laws over for dinner

2) Make sure your kids don't sleep well for a few days before the "big day"

3) Spend several hours cleaning and cooking

4) Watch your kids to wreak havoc on your semi-clean home minutes before your in-laws arrive

5) Put your oldest in time out several times in under an hour once your in-laws have arrived

6) Burst into tears in the kitchen when your youngest flings chicken nuggets against the wall

7) Allow your in-laws to claim a forgotten engagement and quickly beat a hasty retreat

8) Escort your children to bed early

9) Drink a tall frosty beverage of your choice while your husband grills the food prepared in step three

10) Light candles and enjoy

And for your dining pleasure, the dessert recipe that I have called my mother for at least a dozen times in the last several years but can never find when company is coming.....

Upside Down Berry Cakes (serves 4)

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt
1/2 cup skim milk
8 teaspoons margarine or butter, melted
Cooking spray
2 cups blueberries

Preheat Oven to 375.

Combine first 4 ingredients in bowl, stir well. Add milk and margarine, stirring until moist. Divide batter evenly between four 10 oz ramakins coated with custard spray. Top each with 1/2 cup blueberries.

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until lightly browned.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


I have lots of rage today. Almost all of it directed towards a small (but getting bigger) human being who apparently belongs to me. A small part of it is direct to M, who I love very much, but seems to only see the lovable fun side of our darling offspring. He tries very hard to understand, but until he has lived this life for 3+ years he really can't, no matter how well intentioned he might be.

It has not been a good week for C. He is so over-tired it is not even funny. The child who has not had a potty accident in almost a year has had three in two days. He can't complete sentences, cries if you even open your mouth, and dozed off while watching his all-time favorite episode of Sesame (gee, thanks A for giggling at the funny part).

I just want to shake him screaming "YOU HAVE TO SLEEP." If anyone has any thoughts on how to get a 3 and 1/2 year old to take a nap, feel free to comment. We would all be eternally in your debt.