Category Archives: Kids

What do you do when your kids annoy you?

Don’t pretend like your kids don’t annoy you. And if you don’t have kids, don’t pretend that some kid in your life (niece/nephew, sibling, student, kid you babysit) doesn’t honestly annoy the crap out of you from time to time. This e-card really got me thinking this week:

My kids are in weird stages right now. It could be argued that ALL stages are weird in their own ways, but having a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old is really borderline insanity.

I’ve just navigated the second night in a row of a screaming 5-year-old and a calm 2-year-old going to bed. No, I didn’t write that backward. Since the 5-year-old turned 5, about 3 weeks ago, she has been a certifiable nut job. She wanted to sleep with us. Apparently her bed, that she’s had since she was 2 1/2, is suddenly extremely uncomfortable. It took about 40 minutes to get her to calm down, and another 40 to get her to sleep. Twice in these last 3 weeks, I’ve had a teacher at school tell me that she spent the entire afternoon crying because she thought I was coming to get her early (which I actually did), but not early enough to suit her. She took a full 10 minutes to walk from the car to the pool Monday for her first day of swimming lessons because she was nervous, and then took another 10 to get into the pool (where she was actually physically placed by the swim coach), and then another 10 minutes to get into the car with her swim teacher who was taking her back to school (after being in the pool for approximately 5 minutes).

Seriously?! What the frick is going on around here? I honestly think my child has cried more in the last three weeks than she did in her first 5 years. She has never been a crier. Even from birth she has never really cried much. Now, I will be the first to admit that part of why she didn’t cry much is because we didn’t let her, and I think that’s why she’s crazy now. If she started crying, I pretty much just stuck a boob in her mouth or soothed her in some other way. I’ve never been a fan of letting kids cry when there’s no reason they should. I honestly don’t have a problem laying in bed with my kids until they go to sleep. I used to. I used to think I was doing something wrong because “everyone else’s kids” just get into bed and go to sleep! Of course, then I found out that that was crap, and it made me feel better. I sort of figure, they’re only kids once, so why not soak up all the kid-dom you can. But mother-of-pearl sometimes I want to run away from home when they really get going.

Two weeks ago, we had a melt-down situation while heading to the doctor’s office for a check up. She had actually been looking forward to it, which I thought was weird in itself, but when we got there it was like her butt grew roots and she wasn’t going to budge. “I’m not going to the doctor!” It was quite hilarious to the people in the waiting room, and bless Little Bit’s heart, she just drank her juice and watched her “Big” sister like she was nuts. She threw in the occasional “She’s cryin'”, but that was it. I had to physically remove her from the car because it was well over 90 degrees, and Little Bit and I were in direct sun. The car was getting hotter and hotter, and I refused to even pretend like I was going to leave her there. I told her that I was going to cancel her appointment and we would come back another day, but that didn’t make a difference. Then I had to man-handle her across the street at which point I told her to sit on a bench outside the office so I could talk to her. She apparently thought I was going to leave her there and go inside which just started a fresh round of hiccup-crying. After telling her “there is NO WAY I’m going to leave you out here all by yourself on a bench!” I left her all by herself on the porch and went inside. She finally dragged her sobbing self through the door I had left open, and sat down on the chair next to me. Everyone in the waiting room was smiling and trying to hide it, but they didn’t do a very good job. Then, after about 5 minutes of ignoring her she grabbed my arm, snuggled next to me and said, “I’m sorry, Mommy.” Well, melt my heart! I said, “Thank you, baby. Are you going to be a big girl and go to the doctor?” Nods.

Almost immediately after that, the nurse came out to get us, and then Little Bit started! She had been cool as a cucumber the whole time, and then it was like someone flipped a switch. Luckily, Big Sister had calmed down enough to reason with her, and she agreed to go first. That was all it took. Everything went better than I would have ever expected after that. It was actually quite bizarre to watch. So, we just went through 10 minutes of complete crazy to be completely calm and cooperative at the place you said you weren’t going to go? Really?!

So, what is going on at my house? My hubby thinks Big Sister has been jealous since her birthday that she was no longer the center of attention. I think that has a lot to do with it, and it DEFINITELY has a lot to do with the last 2 days (Little Bit’s birthday was yesterday…post to come), but I don’t think it explains everything. Developmentally, she’s going through a lot…they both are! They are both capable of doing things they weren’t capable of doing in the very recent past, and that is a lot to adjust to. But seriously, if they don’t settle into some reasonable facsimile of normal human children very soon, their father and I will be forced to pretend that they do not belong to us which, considering that they are mini versions of us (Big Sister is my mini-me, and Little Bit is his), that will be very difficult to pull off.

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It’s Not What It Looks Like

Thank God it isn’t what it looks like, because THIS is what it looks like:

Like I said…thank God it’s not what it looks like. Little Bit decided she was going to paint her toenails. Yea! Now don’t ask me why she could reach nail polish because that would incriminate me.

I was in the kitchen recovering from a customer service call about something for work, and I started smelling nail polish. Unfortunately, it didn’t register what I smelling until Big Sister called “Momma! She’s painting!” I came in from the kitchen and what I was smelling finally made sense. I said a little prayer that she had just painted her nails and maybe gotten some on her clothes. I really didn’t expect what I found. Normally, her sister would have been on this like white on rice. She would have yelled “No! No nail polish! Momma!!!” But my extra set of eyes is not feeling well, so she was curled up on the couch and missed it all.

Here is the scene of the crime:

She was very thorough, as you can see. She painted herself, the chair, the ottoman, the couch, the floor, and even the poor hamster who was just minding his own business. She was so proud of her work too! She said “I paint!” In the interest of my own sanity, I took pictures instead of having a conniption. Based on her work I think she just poured the polish on her foot instead of taking the time to use the brush. She also added some nice artistic swirls! It was very impressive, actually. It took a LOT of nail polish remover, and she STILL looks like she’s been injured!

I’ve had a touch of baby fever lately. This is when it started after Big Sister, so I was sort of expecting it, but we have decided 2 is perfect. I think this was God’s way of reassuring me that 2 kids is, indeed, perfect for us. This second kid is going to be a whole different challenge than her sister was.

Here she is when we were about halfway finished with the cleanup. Look at that face. A chair is a chair. Our couch was already stained with the traces of living with children. This face is what I will remember from this experience. It’s hard to be upset with that face. I mean seriously…look at that face. Mwah!

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A Little Mommy Motivation

Earlier tonight I read a fantastic op-ed piece by a woman named Simcha Fisher from the National Catholic Register online (I must admit, not a regular stop for me). The piece was called “To the Mother with Only One Child”. Now, to my cynical mind that is used to reading snarky bloggers make back-handed remarks to women who don’t think like them, I immediately assumed this woman would do the same. I assumed she would tell these “mothers with only one child” that their plight was not on par with the woman who has more. After reading Ms. Fisher’s eloquent and honest letter, I felt sad that I has pre-judged her and found myself wishing more moms would be so generous with their words.

I was a mother with only one child for 3 years. The first 2 years I was a mother with one child who taught 3 days a week as a graduate instructor while working on a dissertation an hour away from where I lived, whose husband worked 60 hours a week an hour in the opposite direction, and who knew from the start that I was not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom.

I look back now (as I lay next to my squirming 4-year-old while she fights going to sleep) and I think “what was I so afraid of?” I rarely let her cry (and I’m still paying for that one) because I figured “I’m here…why shouldn’t I pick her up?” She was almost constantly stimulated because I was so bored. I did just as the author said she did: Made excuses to run errands and took the long way home. Luckily baby did great going out and about.

I was guiltily ecstatic when she started daycare 3 days a week at 3 months and every day at one year. I cried the first day, but I honestly enjoyed my freedom and time with other adults. And I was so happy to go pick her up at the end of the day! I took the break to work and to do some self-improvement where I lost 50 pounds and ran almost every day before I picked her up.

Now that I have 2 kids there are some things that are easier and some that are more difficult. It is easier to stay home with them (especially since the little one is getting older). They can entertain each other, so I don’t feel so chained to either one of them and can accomplish things without feeling guilty that I am depriving them of my constant, unwavering attention. I have definitely learned the value of letting a kid explore and cry a little without interference. (The baby is so much tougher the big sister.) It is harder to do the self-improvement stuff now. Of course, that is probably as much a symptom of having a full-time job and other obligations as it is having a second child.

Overall, this article made me reevaluate my memories of being a mother of one. It was one of the hardest but most rewarding times of my life. It was emotional, humbling, and exhilarating all at the same time. It’s something that I wouldn’t trade but also wouldn’t relive (except maybe a few moments). Motherhood is amazing but exhausting, and we need more positive but realistic portrayals to counteract the more negative ones that are all too common.

It’s not easy…even if you only have one.

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Christmastime is Here…and My Money is Gone

Oh, Christmastime. The most wonderful time of the year. Blah, blah, blah. Mistletoeing. Hearts glowing. Yadda yadda. One week and counting until everything is expected to be complete and in place. I am actually in a relatively unique position this year. I am finished shopping! This is true for two reasons: 1) I’m actually done shopping! 2) My Christmas budget is gone.

My first response to that realization was “crap!!!” What if I need more stocking stuffers?! I still haven’t gotten anything for my brother!! Big Sister just added something to her list!!

My next response was “Whew!” I’m actually feeling pretty relieved that the Christmas dough is gone. The bulk of my “necessary” shopping is done. Big gifts were purchased months ago, and I had already decided that the bulk of our Christmas was going to be DIY stuff anyway (stay tuned for posts about 2 projects in particular). I also feel relieved because it takes the pressure off with regards to last minute shopping and feeling the need to make my children’s every wish come true.

I absolutely try to fulfill the bulk of my older child’s wish list. She generally makes pretty reasonable requests, and the ones that aren’t (e.g., “I want one of each American Girl doll”) are immediately, though gently squashed (“Baby, do you know how much it would cost to get one of each doll? Over $1000. Do you have that much? No? Ok then.”) The baby is still too little to be making requests…she’ll get what she gets, but not having the ability to get Big Sister everything she wants is, in my opinion, a blessing. Not just for me, but for her as well. She will grow up knowing the value of what she has, the value of a dollar, the difference between wants and needs, and, hopefully, the true meaning of Christmas (aaaaand, cue Silent Night).

This week at our house will be filled with lots of hustle and bustle. I will essentially live at my sewing machine, and I don’t think I would have it any other way. Yes, life might be a little easier and slightly less stressful if the Christmas (and overall) budget was a little roomier, but I think, if that were the case, I would find stress in other places. We have, in the past 4 years, gone from putting a large proportion of our “needs” on credit cards to having only one, seldom used card with a low limit. Our kids are clothed, fed, sheltered, and loved, and we will have a very nice Christmas. We are still working on managing our monthly expenses frugally and intelligently, but we get better all the time.

Bottom line: I’m glad the Christmas shopping is over and done with. It will give us time to focus on the importance of the season and enjoy each other and our extended family. Shopping will briefly resume at the beginning of January when we prepare for “Christmas II: The Voyage West”, but until then, I will sew and bake and paint and create with the stuff that is at hand. I dare say that some of the creations will be a step up from store-bought anyway…and they will be filled with infinitely more love (and maybe some blood, sweat, and tears…though hopefully those will wipe right off).

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Every great evening begins with the phrase…

“Let’s put as much of this stuff in our hair as we can?!!! Won’t that be fun?!!!” Oh…it was. After a pretty bummer first half of the week, I was looking for some chill time. Hubby played in a golf tournament on Thursday night, so that left the girls home alone. I really thought that meant that “chill time” was not in the cards. But, it’s funny how things work out.

While watching Tangled for the bajillionth time (yes it’s a word!), big sister was inspired to raid the “hair accessory closet” in the bathroom. This raid was punctuated by a crash followed by a loud “I’m OK!” The crash came after she stacked two step stools on top of one another trying to reach her basket of hair stuff. I dodged a bullet on that one. No twisted ankles; no bumped noggins; and she seemed to learn a lesson: If you can’t reach it with one ladder, ask for help.

With at least 7 headbands and a basket full of clips, ribbons, and ponytail holders in hand, she went back to watch her movie. I tried to just sit and watch her play with everything because it was quite entertaining. (You forget the motor skill necessary to put a ponytail in your hair until you try to teach a kid to do it.) After putting a clip and a ponytail in I got the bright idea: “What if we see how much of this stuff we can put in our hair?!” With a little apprehension (possibly brought on by how excited I was), big sister agreed…Let’s do it!!!

We clipped and ponytailed and barretted and bowed and pinned and twisted and braided and tied. As you can see by the photo, she looked fabulous….

Little sister was a little tougher to tame (as usual). I kept putting bows in her hair and she pulled them out. Then I’d put them back, she’d smile so sweetly, and then take them out. I finally succeeded at getting a headband, a clip, and a bow all in at once and tried to take a group shot:

Little bit kept walking too close to the camera

Finally got a good one!

Then I discovered hot truly difficult it is to take a good picture of the back of one’s own head, so I asked Abbey to do it. The first was too close (I mean about 6 inches from my head close) and then she got too far away (like across the room away). Finally, she took the shot below, and yes I AM wearing 3 headbands. I didn’t feel that one was enough.

Momma's awesome hair!

That was all done without a mirror. Yep, I’m talented.  I highly recommend “crazy hair night”. It was a blast. Here is a shot of the carnage:

Hair accessory explosion!

This little adventure with my sweet girls reframed and reenergized an otherwise sucky week. Sometimes it’s takes little things like this to remind me what is really important and worthwhile. Sharing this sort of time with my girls is utterly priceless.

A couple of weeks ago, hubby and I went on a mission trip with several kids from his youth group (more on that coming soon). During one of the activities, we were asked to talk about our favorite family memory. The kids mostly focused on bigger stuff: family vacations and special traditions. Personally, my favorite family memory is playing games when the power went out. We couldn’t watch TV (which my family LOVES to do…we still love it), so we had to make do. We sat in the middle of the floor and played games like Scattergories and Pictionary. Normally, my dad doesn’t like those kind of games because they don’t “require enough strategy,” but we could always get him to play when the power was out. We probably only did that two or three times my entire childhood, but I remember it vividly and very fondly. I hope my girls will remember things like this that way. Next time…their daddy is going to participate! I’m sure we have enough headbands.

 

 

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Princess Pancakes

Momma's helper!

We have been waiting for a full week for daddy to get back, and he’s finally here! It has been quite a week. Exhausting is an understatement. We went on trip to Houston to see my grandparents, but it was an extremely quick one. We left home on Thursday morning and were back home on Saturday evening. That kind of trip is tiring for grown people, but it is crazy for kids.

See the sweet, adorable little girl to the left? You wouldn’t think so, but she can be a holy terror. She pulled out all the stops during my latest week of single parenting. While we were on our trip, our sleeping arrangements were, well…cramped.  She didn’t have a room to sleep in, so she had to wait to go to bed until everyone else did. In general, not a big deal, but as anyone who has ever been around children will attest, when they are tired, they get crazy. She isn’t one who dissolves into tears when she is tired (at least not usually), she gets insanely hyper and nearly impossible to calm down. Although I was extremely happy to see my grandparents, and my girls were very happy to see Gee-Gee and Jambo, I don’t think I could handle another night of her being over-tired.

Cut to, home again on Saturday! I thought “Great, we’ll get to bed on time, and it will be fine.” Well, she was, again, so tired from the trip and her lack of napping in the car that she still tried EVERYTHING she could to NOT go to bed. Why? Because I dared to tell this poor, mistreated child that she couldn’t watch anymore TV and to go brush her teeth. That was around 8:50pm. She finally went to sleep at around 10:45. Yeah…2 hours. These two hours were not filled with simply annoying getting out of bed and asking for drinks of water…ohhhh, no. Remember, I said she pulled out ALL the stops. Screaming, crying, rolling on the floor, sassing…and that was just me. No really….  Ok, I didn’t roll on the floor. Upon threat of terrible things like losing her fave TV show for-eh-ver and a pop on the pop0 (which I HATE) if she woke her sister up, she continued…and woke her sister up.

Luckily, Grammy was here to help. I might have locked myself in a dark room and rocked back and forth in the fetal position if she hadn’t been here. As it was, I did sit in a dark room and rock back and forth, but it was to help my other sweet child back to sleep.

It’s really amazing how a 4-year-old’s tantrum made me question my value as a human being and feel like a failure as a parent. My biggest worry through the whole hairy mess? That she would go to sleep before I was able to go back to her room and hug her. Grammy sat in her room with her, got her calmed down, while baby went back to sleep. As soon as I walked into her room, big girl hugged me and said she was sorry for “yelling, and screaming, and being rude”. Maybe I’m not a total failure as a parent.  She even went and hugged Grammy to apologize for how she acted.  That was only day 4 of our daddy-less week! How would the rest go?!!!

Thankfully, I have awesome friends who kept me company throughout the rest of the week, so we didn’t have anymore insane evenings like that. We got back on our regular schedule, and, besides the normal 4-year-old-ness that goes with the territory, things went swimmingly! Because of that, tonight, I decided to make a supper treat for my sweet girls:  Princess Pancakes! To be honest, I just called them pink and purple pancakes until now, but from now on, they will be Princess Pancakes.

Princess Pancake herself helped me mix them up (as you saw in the first photo), and I always use too much food coloring! She said “those are daaaaaark pink!” Indeed! I had a moment where I thought Baby Pancake wouldn’t eat them because they looked weird, but she never missed a beat. Of course, she has never met a carb she didn’t like.

Purple pancakes! They didn't look quite as purple when they were turned over, but we knew.

Pink pancakes...REALLY pink pancakes!

Momma needed a little more than pancakes to make it supper. The girls both had applesauce, but that’s not really my bag. So instead, I made some lovely scrambled eggs with cheese. The only thing that would have made it better is some turkey bacon, but alas…the cupboard was bare (or the fridge was).

Momma's finished Princess Pancakes

We are all so glad daddy is home now! He was too tired, so I didn’t get any pics of his return, but maybe tomorrow when we’re all a little better rested. We saved him some Princess Pancakes, but they ended up in the freezer for another day.

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Want some?

Um…what’s that you say? Christmas?! Not even!

It’s really hard to think about Christmas when it’s 100+ degrees outside, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately! I’ve decided that shopping/preparing from July to December would probably be a good idea. Makes things easier on the budget, and it makes things less stressful. What can be bad about that!

Now, I used to shop all year. The last time I did this was 2002. Just married. I innocently started buying little things here and there and putting them up for Christmas. I tended to favor my mom because, well, I know her and I know what she likes. I put things all over the apartment. I made things too. Then, about a week before Christmas I started pulling everything out. Holy geez! There was stuff everywhere! I had done a pretty good job buying for everyone, but I had completely overbought for my mom. If I had been smart, I would have put some of it up for birthdays and next Christmas, but I was 21 and excited to give it all to her! So, I ended up having to go shopping to fill out everyone else’s haul so that she didn’t get more than everyone! Ever since then, I’ve been afraid to shop all year. Afraid of spending more money in my quest to spend less. Afraid to run out of room to hide things because I’ve overshopped!

Cut to now…9 years later. I’m ready. I can do it! I can be frugal AND have foresight! I can shop smarter, not harder. So far, Abbey is the one who has benefitted from my early shopping. One thing was supposed to be a birthday present, but I forgot to give it to her…it became a Christmas present! Score! Then, the other day, I found a gently used Leapster 2 (which we almost got her for her bday at full price) with 4 games (1 of which she will never see…no offense to those of you who like Spongebob, but we don’t) for half the price of the game system alone. Score number 2! With the exception of her “big gift” which will have to wait because we can’t hide it and a very few stocking stuffers, I’m done with her! Sweet!

Tomorrow, I embark on phase 2 of early Christmas. I’m going to start preparing to learn to make jelly. Yes, you read that correctly…jelly. We have a gnarly apple tree in our yard. No, it doesn’t grow gnarly apples. The previous owners of our property apparently never, ever pruned it. It is very bizarrely shaped, has a chain that has grown into the trunk, and is, frankly, ugly…but man does it grow some apples!

Zach shaking the gnarly tree's limbs...easy harvest!

Last night, my family and I harvested apples. It was hot. There were ants and other creepy crawlies, but it was fun. Abbey had fun aiming the rotten or otherwise no good apples at the trash can. Lily had fun picking up the apples that fell to the ground and carrying them around.

Working hard

Lily sorting some apples

Abbey did a great job sorting the good ones from the duds, and she had a lot of fun too!

My sweet little apple picker

After we finished, we decided to get a few pictures of our haul! As you can see in the background, there were a ton leftover. They mostly had bugs or were otherwise not ones we wanted to take in the house. I even got to get in a picture!

The harvesters with their haul!

I got a pic too!

When we were about to head in, Lily decided she was going to help us carry everything inside. The basket probably weighed about as much as she does! Needless to say…she didn’t get very far!

She wanted to help carry the apples in!

We had a great time picking apples, and if you are someone who knows me in real life and we’re close…look out for some apple goodies this Christmas! That is, of course, assuming that I can pull them off. We shall see. Stay tuned!

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