Sleepy Time Line Up

My daughter has recently developed a strange fixation on the arrangement of the stuffed animals in her bed.  I like to think that my daughter is normally a pretty even-keeled 4 year-old.  She has her moments, of course, but for the most part she’s pretty laid back.  But the girl is obsessed with her stuffed animals.

Kiki has 7 different stuffed animals that she must sleep with every night.  This may sound like a harmless situation.  It may even sound adorable to picture my sweet little angel surrounded by soft and fuzzy stuffed animals while she sleeps.  It’s not adorable.  Let me tell you why.  My daughter is weirdly obsessed with how the stuffed animals are arranged.  She gets genuinely frantic about it.  Here’s a typical conversation that can be heard in my daughter’s room every night after we turn out the lights.

Kiki:  (voice quivering in panic)  Can you straighten my friends?

Me:  I did.  They’re fine.

Kiki:  But did you do them like I like?

Me:  Yes.

Kiki:  Camabear first, face up?

Me:  Yes.  And then Camadog.

Kiki:  Face down?

Me:  Yes.

Kiki:  And then Nala?

Me:  Yes.

Kiki:  Face down?

Me:  Yes.  And then Purpy face down too.

Kiki:  (panicked again)  But what about Rainbow Dash?

Me:  She’s on the end.

Kiki:  Where’s Minnie?

Me:  (UGH!)  She’s right beside you on the other side with Mickey next to her.

Kiki:  (starting to cry)  No!  Mickey first and THEN Minnie.

Me:  Ack!  Sorry.  I’ll switch them.  There.  GO TO SLEEP!

It’s weird what kids decide to obsess about.  What do your kids obsess about?

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#1 Mom

We all have days as parents when we feel like we just aren’t getting it right.  I’m happy to say, that today was not one of those days.  Today I’m feeling like I really earned that #1 Mom coffee mug I might get on Sunday.  Here are 10 reasons why today I rocked the Mom gig.

  1. I got my daughter dressed, fed, and to school on time.
  2. I took my daughter to two different playgrounds for lots of fresh air and exercise.  And we walked to the grocery store.
  3. I helped my daughter make cards for her teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week.
  4. I had lots of undistracted conversations with my daughter today including one in which we discussed what might happen if you picked up an ant and threw it really high into the air.
  5. I was patient ALL day.
  6. I pushed my daughter on the swing when she asked me to even though she is fully capable of swinging completely on her own.
  7. I read books to my daughter for an hour and a half straight.
  8. I managed to get my daughter to eat multiple servings of fruits and vegetables with no fuss.
  9. (This one is HUGE and almost NEVER happens) I made it through the entire day without tv time.  She didn’t even notice that she missed her tv time.
  10. I did all of this on my own because Hubby is out of town.

There are always things we wish we did better, but don’t forget to take time to celebrate all the little things you do right.  Happy Mother’s Day!!!!!

Smart phones

Hi blog world!

It’s been awhile.

If you’re on any kind of social media, I bet you’ve been privy lately to the post(s) about moms being on their smart phones too much.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Read this (I’ll wait):

http://4littlefergusons.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/dear-mom-on-the-iphone/

Apparently it was written in 2012, but it has made it’s way into the “news” recently.

Well, I read it.  I’m a mom who is often on my iphone.  And I got pissed.  Mostly for what this response says (please read it or you won’t really understand the rest of this blog):

http://www.remakingjunecleaver.com/dear-mom-telling-me-to-get-off-my-phone/

I mostly agree with the author directly above.  Why “mostly?”  Well, first of all, I think her version of their day before and after the park is probably inflated.  I am a SAHM and have been for almost five years and I love my children so much, but our days are not sunshine and moonbeams.  I do a lot of wonderful things with them everyday, but I am certainly not “on” for the entire day, all day, minus the time we’re at the playground as the blog above is suggesting.

And I am definitely on all sorts of technology way more than I should be throughout the day, but that’s more because of my desire to stay connected to the outside world and to have adult conversations and interactions.  I’ll be completely honest with you (as I don’t think the second author above is doing)…I don’t *like* doing “kid stuff” that much.  I don’t think playing with dolls or figurines is super fun.  I don’t like making forts.  I don’t like pretending to be characters.  I don’t even really like play dough (although I tolerate it more than I do some other things).  I don’t think this makes me a bad person, and I don’t think it makes me a bad mother either.  I read to my children – A LOT – because I enjoy books and I really like reading.  We dance because that’s another thing that I like to do.  But, most of the time when I’m home with the kids, they are either playing by themselves/together or I “set them up” in an activity (get out the art supplies, give them the play dough and accessories, fill up the water table and make sure all the pieces are clean, etc) and then I go and do one of the one million things that needs to get done (cooking, cleaning, laundry, making shopping lists, organizing clothes/changing out clothes for the new season, writing Mother’s Day cards to the grandmas, etc).

My to-do list is so long that I often can’t even think about all the things I need to be doing.  If you count all of our house projects, the daily and weekly maintenance chores that have to happen inside and out of the house, the tasks that school sends home (this week was teacher appreciation week and we had a list of things to do for that), navigating the parks and rec offerings and signing the kids up for that, calling back the multitude of doctors we all have, figuring out why that weird charge was on the credit card, calling the insurance company AGAIN to try and sort stuff out with them, filing the mounds of papers we let go because of everything else in life….I mean I have only scratched the surface.  I could – quite literally – go on and on.  But that would get depressing for me and boring for you.

When I’m wasting my time on Facebook or NPR or looking at all the emails I haven’t taken care of yet, I mostly don’t feel bad for my children who are blissfully playing and enjoying life, I feel bad for me because I’m ignoring the endless sea of things I have to do because sometimes it’s almost easier to ignore it than it is to try and conquer it.  Right now, at this very moment, there are so many things I could be doing (and my kids have been in bed for quite some time), but I’m choosing to write this blog instead.  See what I mean?

Awhile ago, I posted this on my FB page:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bunmi-laditan/im-done-making-my-kids-childhood-magical_b_5062838.html

I am nearly 100% with the author of that one.  I don’t have a single memory of any adult actively playing with me from my childhood.  We played by ourselves (my sisters and I) or with friends.  I think I turned out alright.

My point is that not only do you not know what the rest of the day has been like for the “mom on the iphone” at the park, but her day may NOT have been all about her kids (as the second author suggests).  And so what?  She’s still allowed to be on her phone, and you’re still not allowed to judge her.  If she’s anything like me, she’s trying to get shit done while her kids are having a blast at the playground.  Just like I’m trying to get shit done while they’re squealing with glee while at the water table or when they both climb into the crib and play “house” for a half an hour.  So, if I’m wasting my time on social media, I don’t feel bad for my kids who lead a life where they get to play pretty much all day, everyday, I feel bad for me because I’m not getting the shit done that needs to get done.

Conspiracy Theories

Kids push your buttons.  They do this on purpose.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps its normal limit testing.  Perhaps it’s a part of emotional growth.  Perhaps the little bastards just enjoy watching their parents get all worked up.  I’m going with the latter.  For some reason Little Miss Junior has my number.  She’s a devilish little girl by nature, but she’s got a knack for driving me crazy while Red just chuckles. 

This may seem irrational (because it is), but she knows when it’s my morning to wake up.  She does.  She knows…. and she gets up an extra hour early.  Just for me.  All the time.  For some reason LMJ has a sixth sense for when Red is taking the morning shift and she’s rarely up before 7am on those days.  In the last week She’s been up at 5:15, 6:15, and 6:20am for me.  That’s right, 5:15am.  I woke up to go to the bathroom that morning and LMJ was happily playing in her crib talking to herself, waiting for DaDa.  As I write this on Saturday night, she woke up at 7:30am for Red this morning.  She slept in today, for some reason. 

LMJ also exhibits certain behaviors that just drive me nuts.  Every morning without fail, during breakfast, she’s munching away on her cereal, or oatmeal, or whatever, and she puts her feet up on the kitchen table.  This interaction then transpires:

Me: “Honey, take your feet off the table, that’s yucky.”
LMJ smiles at me from her booster seat, takes her feet off the table, and then slowly puts one heel back where it was, next to her cereal bowl.
Me: “LMJ, no.  Take your feet off the table”
LMJ: “No dada” while shaking her head seriously and leaving her foot right where it is.
I remove her foot from the table and repeat “no feet on the table LMJ, it’s yucky.”

As if choreographed, she smiles at me with angelic eyes, and actually leans forward and puts her head on my arm in a very ‘aww isn’t that cute’ moment…. then she puts both feet back on the table and looks at me in delight. The first time she did this I laughed out loud.  The last time she did this I got completely perturbed.  Yes, I have found myself getting easily flustered by an 18 month old. 

What’s peculiar is that our oldest daughter, Little Miss, has the same effect on Red.  LM can push Red’s buttons like it’s her job.  The same behaviors that bring out the worst in Red, often roll off my back, and vice versa with LMJ.  It’s hard to explain, but for some reason I have far more patience for LM’s button pushing, while her little sister can quickly drive me up a wall.  LMJ doesn’t even bother with the whole ‘feet on the table’ antic for her mom.  She saves that one for me.  Even if she did, Red would just ignore it, and the behavior would stop… while I let my blood pressure boil and start correcting the behavior and falling right into that trap laid by a chuckling 18 month old. 

This is all too scripted to be coincidental.  I think they plan this stuff.  I think the kids gather when we’re not around and swap notes about how to drive us crazy.  Little Miss sharpens her emotional daggers for Red, while LMJ practices her knowing glances in my direction while teetering off the top of some piece of furniture, as if to say, “I could fall dada, I could fall… are you watching? heheh…” I know LMJ can’t talk much yet, but she’s got those big devilish eyes.  Don’t be fooled.  She knows what she’s doing.  I should probably get to bed.  I’ve got morning duty tomorrow, so obviously LMJ will be up before daylight.

Flying Solo

So I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a little while… my volume of work travel has been pretty crazy over the last two months.  It’s been trains, planes, and automobiles for quite a while.  I’ve been to LA, Chicago, Dallas and many trips to NYC.  Every time I leave Red with the kids all to herself.  Two weeks ago Red boarded a plane on Thursday morning and flew off to Chicago for a much deserved getaway weekend with girlfriends.  For some reason she didn’t take the kids with her.  No wait, that was planned.  Up until that weekend, I had never taken on the task of parenting both girls by myself for such an extended period of time.  Sure I’d done the random day here and there, and I’m a very involved father, but this would be my first solo flight from noon on Thursday till late Sunday afternoon.  I was nervous.

Red is a wonderful mother – she sets proper boundaries, she feeds the children well, and she invests in their activities and growth.  So I can’t sit them in front of the TV and order pizza for four days.  Damn.  My basic plan was to load up on activities… keep those kiddies running until they pass out.  I took Thursday off work, Friday I had nanny coverage during the day, and Saturday/Sunday were all mine. 

The weather wasn’t great, but it did warm up enough for us to get several play ground visits, one friend play date, and a trip to a local animal farm in during that short span.  Have I ever mentioned that Little Miss Junior is obsessed with birds?  The farm had cows, goats, horses, pigs, your usual assortment of livestock… but she goes gaga over birds.  The chicken house was her own personal nirvana.  She stomped around and pointed at those chickens in delight.  She could’ve spent the whole morning there, just looking at them and smiling.  She doesn’t talk much yet, but she’d point at those birds and look back at me and her older sister as if to say, “Are you guys seeing these chickens?  Aren’t they awesome?!?” Yes LMJ, we see the chickens.  We had play sessions at home, including Little Miss’s first Easter Egg coloring.  There were a bunch of group dog walking sessions as well.  Walking the dog becomes extremely difficult when you can’t leave the children at home alone… so it’s a full on jacket, socks, shoes expedition with the wee ones just so our pooch can do her thing.  

Long story short, I survived the weekend, and the girls survived as well.  No major meltdowns, nobody bleeding profusely… no need for child protective services.  Both girls were entertained, fed, and bathed at the end of the day.  The flip side of this coin – WOW was I tired.  Like bone tired.  Like melt into the sofa for 15 minutes once they were both asleep.  This was old man, “I’m just gonna sit here for a while” tired.  I needed a porch and a rocking chair.  A tip of the cap to all you primary care-givers out there who handle kids by yourselves all the time.  I think I doubled the volume of grey in my beard with just three days of solo flight.  Thank God for Red.

Why?

Why is it that on the weekend (the only two nights that Hubby is “on call” for middle-of-the-night wake up calls) that we don’t hear a peep from my daughter for over twelve hours, but on my nights she always comes knocking on our door when I’m fast asleep?

Why is it so hard to get my daughter to be still for the 2 minutes it takes me to brush her teeth?

Why haven’t I learned yet that if I want my daughter to wear something specific that the last thing I should do is say, “I think you should wear this today”?

Why is my 4 year-old daughter is already so good at using our parenting strategies against us (“Ok Mommy, here’s the deal:  I’ll put on my shoes if you go get my fairy wand from upstairs”)?

Why is it that if I tell my daughter she can’t watch a particular movie or play a particular game, that that becomes the only thing in the world she wants to do?

Why does my daughter not seem to be able to hear me when I’m directly asking her to do something, but when Hubby and I are trying to slyly discuss something while she’s distracted, she hears every word?

Why does my daughter insist on doing most things herself  (like insisting on buckling herself into the car while I’m standing in the cold rain waiting for her to it) but the girl can’t seem to use the toilet without my company?