What A Difference A Year Makes

I look back on 2013 and it has been a tale of peaks and valleys.  Dickens had it right many years ago, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.  Yeah he got that right.  One year ago this time we were entering a dark winter.  Our newborn baby was not three months old when she started getting sick…. And then she got really sick.  And there were moments of despair.

Little Miss Junior is a tough soul though, and the Spring brought hope, which flourished with her health into the Summer.  As we enter the winter of 2014, I’m reminded of the dark places we were just one year ago, and I have newfound understanding of what to truly be thankful for during the holidays.  LMJ is healthy, and doing fantastic, and I give thanks.

2013 was a milestone year for our growing family.  Red and I had to shift gears into parenting multiple children.  We have had the pleasure of watching our first daughter, Little Miss, embrace sisterhood.  I’m proud of the sibling LM already is, and I’m excited for the sister that she’s going to be… her empathy is profound.

In the midst of family chaos, as Red is preparing for work, while LMJ tugs my pajamas, and Little Miss demands more cereal as the dog barks for her morning walk, I find joy.  We have built a family…  A family of our making.  An often chaotic family of chattering emotional beautiful caring women, and one overgrown board gaming man-child with a disturbing volume of grey in his beard.

In 2013 I turned 40.  I’m not yet an old man, but I’m certainly not a young one anymore.  I think about my life with Red after the girls are grown, and I can see that future.  This past year has taught me many lessons.  I have learned about strength, I have learned about friendship, and I have learned about family.  For the family that I have, old and new, I give thanks.

Happy New Years

Happy New Year!

Hello blog world.  I’ve been gone for awhile and I apologize.  Lately, my days have been running together and, every time I think about blogging, it’s not Monday.  Then, when it is Monday, I never think of it.  I really should just save a post and put it up on my day, but, you know how it goes…

My parents are here visiting and so I find myself with some time to myself and it happens to be Monday!  They flew in VERY late on Christmas day and leave on the 2nd.

I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day in 2013.  I literally wrote 2012 on a check just last week!  I am a year behind, I guess!  I said this in my post about my daughter’s fourth birthday: the days are long, but the years are short.  This year has flown by for me.  We bought a house in July and so it seems that every spare second we have is dedicated to upgrading our “new” home.  Between that and all the normal chores and errands and classes and routines, I find very little down time anymore.

However, about three weeks ago, I started going to the gym from 5:30-6:30am every weekday morning.  Now that we moved we are literally a 2-3 minute drive to the gym and, since I’m usually up between 5:30 and 6am because my beautiful daughters don’t know the meaning of sleep, I figured I didn’t really have any excuses anymore.  I can go and come back with plenty of time for my husband to get on the road for work by 7:10am.  It really has been a win for everyone.  I feel better and really love having that time for myself.  The girls are blissfully unaware that I’m gone since they’re usually still asleep when I leave, and I don’t have to feel guilty about leaving them at the sub-par “daycare” that they have there.

It’s not an actual gym – just a workout room within the confines of our community’s recreation center – and so the daycare facilities leave much to be desired.  We tried them once and both my kids were crying after about 15 minutes.  The employees don’t speak English as their first language and all the other children there looked pretty miserable and had really runny noses and so it just wasn’t my cup of tea.  Hence, me going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning!

I guess this is my new year’s resolution…about a month early.  I can’t wait to see how crowded it is at 5:30am next week when everyone else in the world decides they need to start working out 😉  Are any of you making resolutions?  Care to share what they are?

Have a happy and safe new year!

LOVE

LM is watching BRAVE.  It is the end of a long holiday break where we have spent a bunch of time with family and friends.  There arestill even a couple of days coming up but I go back to work tomorrow and LM back to school on Thursday.  Wake-up times will be pushed earlier and life will resume.  That’s good too.  It is good to have a rhythm to break so that you can appreciate that break even more!

So, Lucy is watching BRAVE and Dad-E and I are enjoying the opportunity to not pay direct attention to one or both children.  Actually, he’s paying bills and I’m writing this blog.

I was upstairs for a minute and when I came back down there is a folded up piece of paper towel on the table.  It has letters on it.  DULTHOO.  I look at LM and say, “Is this a note for me?  Dulthoo?” And she says, “Turn it over”.  I turn it over and very carefully written out is Lucy’s first word other than her name.  LOVE.  I said, “Love?  Lucy, you wrote love?”  And she replied, “I wrote love?  I wrote that for you.”

I am very lucky and I have done something good in this world by bringing her into it.  LM is a source of very pure love and that’s an invaluable contribution.  Believe me when I tell you that I know her well – all of her strengths and areas to strengthen.  I know that she can be passionately obstinate at times.  Everything about her is passionate.  I think, for the most part, I see her as who she is.  I’m probably tougher on her than most people.  But I know for sure that she has a very special heart and an ability to love that is admirable.

So, baby, I recorded this story for you.  I love you too – so much.

Sleeping In

My husband has a super power.  He can sleep like nobody else I know.  He is one of those people who falls asleep within 2 minutes of closing his eyes in bed at night.  I am not one of those people, so while I lay there with my eyes closed  listening to him snore I am equal parts annoyed and amazed (well, maybe it’s more like 70/30 in favor of annoyed).

As skilled as he is at falling asleep, he is even better at staying asleep.  Before we had kids we would sleep in on the weekends (the good old days).  I would have to work really hard to make myself stay in bed past 9 am.  But not Hubby.  That man could sleep forever.

Once we had Kiki, Hubby had to let his sleeping-in super powers lie dormant for a while.  He had to get up early on workdays and on the weekends I needed his help, so he still had to get up at a reasonable hour.  But as Kiki got older, I starting letting Hubby sleep in again.  And I was curious to see if he still possessed the supreme powers of sleep that he once had.

It started out as me letting him sleep in when he’d been up with Kiki in the middle of the night or when he’d had a long week of early morning meetings at work.  I figured he was just making up for lost sleep in these instances, so I didn’t think I had solid evidence that his powers of sleep remained strong.  But it’s now become a bit of a regular thing for me to let him sleep in on the weekends.  And I tell you what, that man can still sleep forever.

Usually I’ll let him sleep til about 9 or so before I send Kiki upstairs to wake him up, but sometimes I’ll just let him go undisturbed.  This is mainly for the sake of curiosity because I’m just want to see how long he can sleep.

While we were back in The South for Christmas Hubby had lots of chances to sleep in.  My brother was particularly bothered by the fact that my husband can sleep so much.  He has an almost 3 year-old who regularly wakes up at 5 am and a 3 month-old baby who obviously is not a reliable sleeper yet.  I was letting Hubby sleep as long as he wanted and my brother kept trying to come up with reasons to wake him up.  “Kiki, breakfast is ready.  Go wake your Dad up,” he said.  But I stopped her and said that Daddy would eat when he got up.  So later he tried to tell his wife, “if you need to look something up just go wake up Hubby and use the computer in his room.”  But I stopped the wake up call again by offering to look up what they needed on my phone.

I finally looked at my brother and asked, “it really bothers you that Hubby can sleep this long doesn’t it?”  And he said, “well yeah.  It really does.”  Then I explained to him that at home I would wake him up if I needed help or company but with so many people around I didn’t need either.

At 11:30 I decided to finally sound the alarm and wake Hubby up.  I needed to get dressed for the day and he had gotten a solid 12 hours of sleep.  Yep, you read that right — 12 hours.
My mother-in-law asked me once if Hubby ever lets me sleep in (I think she wanted to make sure her son was being considerate).  I told her that I’m not really good at sleeping in, so as long as Kiki and I doing fine, then I don’t mind him sleeping.  Besides, I trade off by getting to slip out later in the day to run errands by myself.  So I let him use his super power of sleeping and he lets me use my super power — wasting time at Target.

Socks & Underwear

I literally think that there is a part of the female brain that is devoted to socks and underwear that cannot be found in the male brain.  I think it can lie dormant, or be an imperceptible difference, until there are children.

Dad-E is as involved as a father gets while not technically having the role of stay-at-home parent.  I spend more time with the girls and do more organizing, cleaning, dressing, and housework because I work part-time and then I am home part-time and home management is a large part of stay-at-homedome (as far as I’m concerned).  Nevertheless, Dad-E always does one, if not two bedtimes.  He is on from the moment work is done and he visits during the day to say hi, change a diaper, dry some tears (LM’s, LMJ’s and mine!) and we co-parent on the weekend and any time off.  He definitely does dishes, laundry, and some straightening from time to time.  He changes many diapers.  He grocery shops.  He is a pro – no two ways about it.  But I am positive that he has never, not once, bought either child a pair of socks or underwear (Vera is still in diapers, he pointed out to me when I was talking about this blog topic with him).  I also think he’s never even thought of it.

I, on the other hand, marvel at how many socks LMJ (my one-year old) has and how LM (my almost 4 year old!) never has any!  You know the myth that socks conspire in the washer or dryer?  One of the pair agrees to take off while the other stays.  LM’s socks are like that exponentially.  It is also impossible to find socks in her size.  Target sells out of them so fast.  When I find socks in her size I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot and proceed to hoard them in my cart.

While the underwear thing isn’t a numbers problem I cannot seem to keep up with how many pairs she goes through at daycare.  She has come home in underwear that has never belonged to us more than once.  One pair I’m sure were entirely new but the other pair just looked like they got jacked from another kid’s cubby.  Kind of gross but I couldn’t keep up with the number of times she “peed on herself a little bit while going to the bathroom.”  She has done this at home so I am familiar with the behavior.  I think it’s unintentional but the point is I couldn’t rotate enough underwear into that joint for a little while.

As you can tell from my multiple paragraphs on the subjects at hand, there is most certainly a part of my brain devoted to such things.  I don’t even like the fact that this domain belongs to me but I believe intrinsically, it does.  So, Dad-E, you are off the hook.  I pledge to be in charge of the girls’ socks and underwear from now until they do it for themselves.

Spotty the Curious Christmas Monkey

You know the Elf on the Shelf?  It’s crazy popular right now and it seems like everyone I know has one.  I used to get such a kick out of seeing people post pictures on facebook showcasing the creative places where they had hidden their Elf for their kids to find in the morning.  So I was super excited when my mom sent us our own Elf on the Shelf.  And then I read the book that comes with the Elf.

Have you read the book?  Well Hubby and I were totally creeped out by the concept of the Elf keeping a watchful eye on Kiki all day and then reporting every detail of her behavior to Santa each night.  You better keep on the straight and narrow, kid.  Your Christmas presents are on the line here.  We were not fans.

So I returned the Elf to Barnes and Nobles.  But I was sad that we didn’t get to do the whole “hide the elf” bit. I really liked that idea.

Hubby and I decided that we didn’t want to miss out on the fun, so we introduced Kiki to Spotty the Curious Christmas Monkey.  Spotty has been blessed with a bit of Christmas magic and every night when we go to sleep, Spotty comes to life and romps around our house getting into things.

Spotty starSilly Spotty climbed the Christmas tree.  Does he think he’s a star?

Spotty Memory

It must get a little boring waiting for everyone to wake up.  Spotty decided to entertain himself with a game of Memory.

Spotty Bookworn

Spotty was excited about library day.  He got into our library bag and did a little reading.

Spotty Repairman

Spotty got handy and fixed Kiki’s broken magic wand.  Kiki was a huge fan of this one.

Spotty Candy

Uh oh.  Spotty found the leftover Halloween Candy.

Spotty Sorry

Spotty felt bad about eating Kiki’s candy so he made her breakfast and a heartfelt apology card.

Spotty Science

Mad scientist Spotty busted out Kiki’s science kit.

As Kiki says every night before bed, “I wonder what Spotty will do tonight?”  Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.  🙂

Screaming the Friendly Skies

“I’ve been watching you for a while now, and you’re a good dad.”  This tip of the cap came from a total stranger at the Boston Logan Airport roughly one week ago, as we waited with dozens of other people to start boarding for our 6.5 hour flight to LA.  Little Miss is a seasoned traveler before the age of four, and she’s already been a trooper.  We’ve been at the airport for over an hour, and Little Miss Junior is not faring as well as her big sister.  It’s roughly her bed time, and all this waiting around is not much to her liking.  She’s letting me know.  She’s letting everyone at gate 18 of the United Terminal know.  She’s letting most people in gates 16-20 know as well (just for good measure), and many of the dozens of impatient travelers are secretly praying they are not within 3 rows of us.

Red and I have been taking turns attempting to placate Screamy Smurf.  I had just been hip holding her, and standing at the glass windows to show her the airplanes coming and going.  She grew bored of this and slapped me in the head.  Then she started to scream some more.  Then she put her head down on my shoulder because she’s tired and it’s her bed time.  Then she leaned back so far you’d think she was back diving off a platform, came back up, looked at me, and promptly grabbed my nose hard and twisted.  I trudged back to Red with a vocal Screamy in tow when this older gentlemen offered me his 2 cents on my parenting.  I appreciated his comment, but I can’t help wondering that Dad’s have it easy.

Michael Chabon clarifies this notion in his book Manhood for Amateurs… on how there is a ‘low bar for parenting’ when it comes to Dad’s.  If we’re in public alone with our children and nobody is bleeding out their eyes it’s a moral victory.  Red is doing the same things that I am, but she’s doing them for longer, often by herself, often with both kids… and rarely (if ever) receives praise.  This is certainly a double standard.

We took two flights to and from Los Angeles in the last week with both our children.  I can safely say that Little Miss Junior was HORRIBLE on both of those flights. On the flight out to Los Angeles, I was able to coddle her to sleep with a bottle and she passed out about 30 minutes into the six and half hour journey.  Did I mention that it’s a SIX and a HALF hour flight?  No?  Well it is.  That’s a long time.  A very long time.  LMJ slept for about 2 hours on my lap.  I sat frozen in time, afraid to breathe as every second ticked by and the nervous passengers around us probably forgot about the screaming kid making all that noise pre-boarding… suckers.  Eventually she began to stir, and then she woke up.

We cajoled, we threw snacks at her.  We shuffled up and down the aisles when possible… and for upwards of 2 hours she screamed at us.  We played ‘pass the screamy’ for the last hour of the flight… alternating turns of holding and gently rocking her.  She’d get close to sleep and decide that she’d rather be angry and screaming than dozing and it would start all over again.  Enemies were made.  I’m sure some twenty-somethings sitting within earshot felt vindicated in their own personal decisions not to have children.  A screaming one year old is marvelous contraception.  In the end she passed out when we eventually got to the hotel … which happened right after picking up baggage (where we waited an extra 20 minutes cuz nobody on United told anyone that strollers get sent to a different claim location than luggage – I hate flying), then the airport shuttle to rental car, then the line for a rental car, then the LONG rental car transaction (NO I DON’T WANT YOUR STUPID INSURANCE OPTIONS), then the install of car seats while mom and dad are running on fumes and even Little Miss is tired… then off to the hotel… all of which seemed endless after a six and half hour flight.  Did I mention our flight was six and a … oh, ok, just checking.

Our flight home was not much different… except this time Red was a warrior, and brought the ergo baby carrier on board… she buttoned up screamy and literally stood in the aisle rocking her to sleep for a VERY long time.  The only saving grace on the return flight was that it’s shorter.  Bless you trade winds, bless you.  LMJ may have fallen asleep on me for 2 hours on the first flight, but Red rocked out on the return.  She took one for the team.  She rocked back and forth, she cajoled, she played, she sang.  She was super mom.  Nobody said anything to her.  I’ve been watching you for a while now Red, and you’re a great mom.