Wednesday, November 14, 2012

So Much For That Photo Degree

Here is a little factoid about me, I was a photography major in college. I went to an actual univeristy and everything. I also have a couple of degrees in psychology. If you think about it, this is darn close to the perfect training for motherhood. What do we spend our time doing? Documenting the milestones, talking kids off the ledge, and wrestling little people in and out of things (clothes, carseats, strollers...) Study some hand-to-hand combat and you are as prepared as is possible for raising up some youngin's.
Some of you are out there thinking, "A degree in photography? What a waste of time. Anyone can take pictures." I know some of you are thinking that because A LOT of people say these things to my face. And then they usually say something like, "You know what would make a good photo?" Yes, yes I do. But you are probably going to share with me anyway, right? As needless as I think it is to say, taking pictures is NOT easy. And I am going to prove it.
It all started with this beautiful photo taken by DC Pix Photography in Cincinnati, OH.
Adorable, right? And basically simple to recreate. There are no fancy backgrounds, no lighting tricks, just three adorable siblings stacked on top of each other. I thought, "I am going to do this!" Silly me. I forgot who my kids are.
My mom has fantastic windows in her family room. I use the space as my own personal North Light Studio. She also suscribes to the "sterile hospital chic" school of decorating. Since everything in her house is white or grey, it makes for beautifully light photos that spotlight the children. 
I had my camera, my location, and my three children. I was good to go. Then I had my first problem. Red refused to play my reindeer games. He wanted nothing to do with being photographed. He had a sweet train track set up and he was not leaving it. I decided to just start shooting, get my settings how I wanted them, and hope Red would change his mind.
Above is my test shot. Hmmm...the skin tones looked nice, but there were a couple of problems. You could see the windows when I wanted a simple background, the hallway looked dark and added a weird element. I was trying to convince Babies 1 and 2 that they wanted to scootch over in front of the blank wall when Red decided that he did want to be photographed after all. As I was trying to get the three of them in the shot, Red lunged at the camera and I got this...
And then this...

Okay, forget moving to the blank wall. My standards were dropping rapidly. I just wanted a shot with the three of them together. If they had nice expressions maybe I would not care about the strange background? I convinced Eldest to lay down. Then I placed Red on top. The boys abruptly got a case of the giggles. I stuck Baby Girl on top and sprinted back to the camera.

This was not EXACTLY what I had in mind. "Look at Mommy! Yoohoo! Over here!"

Ack! She fell off!

"Gentle! Gentle with your sister!"
It was time for a new plan. Maybe a new pose would do the trick.

Eldest, sweetie? You are sort of strangling your sister. Look out, you are going to...".

"...fall over." <sigh>

"Hey, Mom? Can we be all done?"

"Yes. We can be done."

What is the moral of the story? The next time someone tells you that they spent 200 bucks on family photos, you tell them they got off cheap. Professional photographers are freakin' saints.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

All Grown Up

I cannot believe that my sweet baby boy is five years old already. It feels like just yesterday we cancelled trips to Target because he cried as we strapped him into his car seat. Haha! Five years and 2 more babies later the thought of cancelling anything because of a crying baby is just silly. Frankly, I become concerned when no one is crying. It usually means that someone is suffocating. We, as parents, are not the only ones who have changed. Since turning five, Eldest is a completely different person.

Bathroom Habits
Eldest has always liked to wait until the last possible moment to master a skill. Being the first born, he had “People” to bring him snacks, move him from place to place, etc. He doesn’t even try something until he has been mulling it over in his mind for months. Little dude did not crawl until he was one year old, walk until he was 18 months, talk until he was two years…I could go on. So, it did not surprise me when Eldest was not interested in wiping his own poopy butt—he much preferred knowing that the job was getting done right by one of his People. My mom finally sat him down several months ago for a serious conversation.

Gummy: When are you going to wipe your own butt?

Eldest: Hmmm…how about when I am five?

Gummy: Okay.

And that was that. Eldest had no interest in wiping himself until the day of his birthday. Now he takes care of it completely by himself. As a matter of fact, if one of us tries to stay and supervise we are promptly asked to leave. “You can go now, Mommy.”

What am I going to do with all of the time that has been freed up by my Eldest wiping his own 5 year old butt? Probably spend it replacing all of the extra toilet paper we are going through now. The kid is nothing if not thorough.

Television Viewing Preferences
We do not have cable. (I will pause while you gasp and exclaim, “Why? For the love of all that is good and holy, WHY?” Then I will answer, “Cuz we are cheap and have a high tolerance for pain.”) We watch plenty of tv, it is just a lot of PBS, streaming Netflix, and DVDs from the library. Husband and Baby Girl were watching a little Rick Steves’ Europe and enjoying a post-nap bottle when Eldest plopped down beside them and said, “Now that I am five, I really enjoy grown-up shows.”

Eldest is basically a 50 year old trapped in a five year old body.

Perceived Responsibilities
In the handful of days since Eldest’s birthday he has begun pushing the shopping cart for me at the store, cleaning up yard debris with Husband, and keeping his brother in line (or trying to anyway. Red is slightly resistant.) I am happy to hand off whatever responsibilities Eldest wants to take on.

Me: It was so nice that so many people gave you presents for your birthday. Now we need to write them thank you notes so that they know how much you appreciate the presents.

Eldest: Okay.

Me: Do you want me to write them and you can sign your name?

Eldest: Nah, I’ll just write them.

Me: (surprised and not just a little thrilled) Alrighty! I usually write a couple at a time…

Eldest: How many do I need to write?

Me: Five.

Eldest: I’ll just do them. Can you help me spell some words?

Fifteen minutes later the kid had all of his birthday thank you notes written, addressed, stamped, and waiting for the mailman to carry away. I am going to go waste time on Pinterest now. I wonder if I can convince Eldest that folding laundry is a big boy chore?

Disclaimer: Eldest would not let me check what he wrote. If you get a thank you in the mail, it was all him. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Top 5 Most Ridiculous Texts I Sent Husband In The Past Five Days

With the power outage, staying with my parents, and my dad being in the hospital, I have had some interesting information that I have needed to pass along to the Husband. Why make a phone call and explain the situation when you can send a ridiculous text, I always say. Here are some of my favorites...

# 5. Neighbors’ tree hit our house. We have no power. Yay.

# 4. Come home! Basement is flooding!
# 3. We are at my mom’s. Come there if you want to see us.

# 2. Come home (to my mom's)! My dad needs a pacemaker. He wants ME to tell my Mom!
 And the absolute most ridiculous text I sent my husband...drum roll, please...
# 1. Remember how you told me NOT to use the washing machine until you hooked it back up or the basement would flood AGAIN? I didn't. :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

How I Spent My Sunday

“Mommy,” Red wailed. “Eldest called me a kitty cat.”

“Oh no,” I replied, hiding a smile. “Did that hurt your feelings?”

“Yeah,” Red sniffed into my shoulder.

“You’re a kitty cat!” Eldest taunted. Red erupted in a fresh set of wails.

“Eldest,” Husband said in his sternest voice. “It appears that being called a ‘kitty cat’ greatly distresses your brother. So, stop it.”

“Okay Daddy.”

“Who wants pancakes?!” I asked. Husband trailed me into the kitchen to wait for food. He and the dog get into some knock-down drag-outs whenever I drop anything. FYI, the dog usually loses.

Moments later we heard Eldest taunting his brother. Husband marched in the living room. “I told you to talk nice to your brother.”

Eldest went pale. He stammered, “I—I  didn’t think you c—could hear me.”

 “Eldest,” Husband said, “I hear everything.”  Eldest gulped.

 Husband returned to the kitchen and I asked, “Were you imagining yourself taking off a pair of sunglasses David Caruso-style while you were saying that?”

“Oh yeah,” Husband replied and puffed out his chest.

“Alrighty, everyone, pancakes!”

 I dished out a serving to everyone in our family and we all tucked in. Baby Girl decided that she would rather be held, so I freed her from her highchair and sat her on my lap. Despite having eaten all of her own breakfast, plus a snack bottle, she was plowing through my pancakes. Most of the time, I would do anything for my children. But sometimes Momma is hungry. Plus, Momma makes a darn good pancake.

“Sweetheart? Can you hold onto my pancakes?”

“Toss ‘em over,” Husband said. I pushed my plate towards Husband for safekeeping. I would wait until the rest of my family had finished and then eat my breakfast in peace.

“Hey! I asked you to HOLD my pancakes, not eat them!”

“I’m holding them in my belly. They will be safe there.”

“Knock. It. Off. I want my cakes!”


“You are STILL eating them!”

“Mmm…they’re good…nom nom nom…”


“Okay, kiddos,” I began. “Does everyone remember the rules for grocery shopping?”

“Yes!” they chorused.

“What are the rules for grocery shopping?”

“I dunno!”

“Can’t remember!”

*Sigh* “The rules for grocery shopping are: 1) Stay where you can see Mommy or Daddy; B) Respect your cart buddy by keeping all parts of yourself to yourself; and 3) Use your indoor voice. Got it? Good. Let’s go in”

“If I’m good can I have a treat?” Eldest asked.

“Me too?” Red chimed in.

“Yes. If you follow the rules of grocery shopping, and do not drive Mommy crazy, you can pick out a treat when I am finished shopping.”

“What is ‘drive Mommy crazy?” Eldest asked.

“Well, asking questions that you know the answers too…” I replied.

“Oh,” Eldest said. “Can I still get a treat?”

“If you are good, yes.”

“Can I get a treat too?” Red asked.

“If you follow the rules and let me shop, you can both get treats.”

“A TOY treat?” Red wanted clarified.


“How many things do you need to buy?” Eldest wanted to know.

“A lot.”

A lot?” Eldest whined. “How many is ‘a lot’?”

“One, two, three,four…fifteen,” I counted.

“Oh man,” both boys whined.

“How many things do we need now?” Eldest asked.

I replied, “Sixteen.”

“What?! You said fifteen!” Eldest was appalled.

“I forgot to write down eggs. Sorry. There is the powdered sugar. Now we are back down to fifteen.”

“Cookies!” Red exclaimed. “Can I have the blue ones?”

“This blue package?” I asked, holding up a box of cookies. Red nodded. “Sure.”

“But this is not my treat, right?”

“Nope. You can get a toy IF you are good.”

“Now many things do we need?” Eldest asked.

“Still fifteen,” I answered.

Eldest groaned.

 “Think of it this way,” Husband offered. “We have one section to do and then you get your treat. Once Mommy is done in the grocery section we can pick out your treat while she finishes up. How does that sound?”

“How many things do we need now?” Eldest asked.


Husband noticed the vein in my neck bulging and suggested, “Let’s play a game…”


Groceries purchased? Check. Five family members accounted for? Check. Time for the dash through the rain-soaked parking lot! And, “Go!”

“You should have worn a hood,” Husband taunted from beneath his raincoat. He was securing the children in their seats while I was getting soaked loading up the groceries.

“Fine, be like that, Mr. Hoody Pants. You can put the cart back,” I said as I sprinted to the passenger side and climbed in. “You had better hurry,” I said as I hit the automatic close button for the hatch. The warning beep began. “Or the cart isgoingtogetstuckinthedoor!”

Husband yelped and ninja-rolled out of the minivan. He reached the shopping cart in one stride (dude has looooooong legs) and pulled it out of the way just in time. Then he took off at a sprint to the cart corral. Ducking behind parked cars he made his way back to the driver’s side door and leaped in the car.

“You,” I said to my husband, “are a goof ball.”


Back at home, groceries put away and lunch eaten, it was time to carve pumpkins. Eldest happily drew a face on his pumpkin and waited patiently for his daddy to carve his masterpiece. Red, on the other hand, could not communicate his artistic vision to his father.

“No! An angry face. Like this!” Red insisted, screwing up his face to show Husband exactly what he wanted drawn on his pumpkin.

“Okaaaaaay,” Husband said, making some changes to his sketch.

“That’s not angry! Like THIS!”

“He looks pretty angry, Daddy,” I informed Husband.

“I see that, Mommy.”


“Hey, Red? Do you want to look on the internet for the kind of face you want?” I asked.

“Yes!” He squealed and climbed into my lap. “Oh yeah, like that one. Daddy! Like this,” He said and pointed emphatically at the computer screen.

“But that is exactly what I—okay, Red. I will draw that face,” Husband said, muttering to himself. He made a few minor changes to his sketch. “How is that?” he asked Red.

“Oh yeah, that is perfect for me,” Red said.

Husband shook his head at our offspring.

“Is it bedtime yet?” I asked.

Not even close.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Curious George? What Are You Doing In My Living Room?

I would like to thank Netflix for adding new Curious George episodes and thereby inspiring this post. As soon as the new episodes banner appeared, Eldest began systematically watching each and every episode…in order… starting with Season One, Episode One… and continuing all the way through Season Five, Episode 10. During the process, somewhere after the dull, throbbing headache appeared, but before my psychotic break, the similarities between members of my family and characters on the show became undeniable. For those of you who do not watch hours of PBS, perhaps because you engage your children in more enriching activities, or maybe you just have cable, let me explain. First, a little background on the show.

Once upon a time, there was a little monkey living in Africa, going about his little monkey business. We do not know what brought The Man with the Yellow Hat to Africa (gun running? blood diamonds?), but he found the time to use said hat to catch and kidnap a curious little monkey. The Man brought the monkey home with him and named him George. In a stunning, inter-species example of the Stockholm Syndrome, George and The Man with the Yellow Hat became best friends and now live together, splitting their time between a spacious pad in the city and a sprawling country home. The Man provides nowhere near the amount of supervision a wild-caught monkey requires and high jinx ensue.

Red is George obviously. George and Red both tend towards turning a tiny mess into a colossal mess, all in the name of being helpful. Whether they clean up a small puddle of water with a box of tissues and half a roll of toilet paper or sprinkle flour on the floor in order to track a lost chameleon, the result is the same—a bigger mess. Monkey and boy both like to climb to the highest point, sit on tables, and use their feet to peel bananas. Red and George are always losing stuff and then inventing really complex ways of finding the lost objects. “Oh no, I lost my robot! But that’s okay. I’ll just build a metal detector out of a calculator and an AM radio.” They even kind of look alike. See?
Photo courtesy of Ethos3
What's with the sheep? I dunno, it's Red.
Bill is one of George’s neighbors in the country. He is a big rule follower and often says, “There’s a proper way to…” In the Christmas movie, Bill mans a Christmas tree stand and refuses to let anyone purchase a tree until they have read a dictionary-thick manual on the proper way to select a Christmas tree. Now who does that sound like? *cough, cough* Eldest *cough* And much like at my house, interactions between Bill and George tend to end in mayhem. The whole business at the tree stand wraps up with George knocking the trees down like dominoes and violating a folding chair.  

Baby Girl is a lot like Charkie the dog. Charkie can escape from anywhere—you never find her where you left her. Charkie loves to roam the city and drink from puddles. That is totally Baby Girl…if by roam the city and drink from puddles you mean eat and eat some more.

There are some odd similarities between Husband and The Man with the Yellow Hat. Both can play the tuba, paint and draw, and enjoy running. The Man and Husband enjoy bright-colored clothing, though Husband is partial to orange. Since yellow and orange are both autumnal colors, I will call it close enough. Possibly the biggest similarity is that no one has any idea what either of them do for work. We know they hang out with smarty-pants types like Professor Wiseman and talk a lot about the scientific method, but other than those factoids things are hazy. Both men have unlimited patience and see every catastrophe as a teaching opportunity. However, both The Man with the Yellow Hat and my Husband leave me shaking my head and wondering why they don’t keep a better eye on that darn monkey.

I would like to say that I am most like the character of Mrs. Renkin. She knows how to weld, is a whiz at carpentry, and grows prize-winning produce. Unfortunately, I think a more apt comparison for me is Hundley, the Doorman’s dog. Hundley just wants his lobby to be neat and orderly so that he can take a nap. Whenever he is about to settle down onto his comfy dog bed, George comes tearing in with a ball, potted plant, or some other ridiculousness. Hundley then has to get up and follow George around, worrying about the mess. Oh Hundley, I feel your pain. I would still like to learn how to weld. I’m already pretty good with a crème brulee torch.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Where Have All the Blog Posts Gone?

Holy schnikes! It has been approximately forever, give or take a couple of days, since my last blog post. What the heck have I been doing? I had no idea, so I thought I would keep track for a day. I got half way through the day and was too overwhelmed to continue. However, I now have a good answer to the question often posed to moms who stay at home by people without children: "What do you DO all day?!"

5:12am: Dog scratches at Red’s door. Leap out of bed. Pray that Red stays asleep while shuffling quietly across the floor at top speed. Whisper yell at the dog to go downstairs. See Eldest is awake and staring at his clock. “Mommy!” He asks if it is time to get up. “Not until six o'clock. That’s the rule.”

5:30am: Alarm goes off. Mommy’s time before the chaos begins.

5:43am: Coffee cup is on the way to my lips…

5:43:01am: <Thunder> Red yelps. Eldest leaps out of bed. “I’m coming Red!” Cross fingers that they are not going to come charging down the stairs. So much for “Mommy Time.” Boys arrive in noisy swirl of demands. Take Red to potty and then try to sit down. Nuke Eldest pancakes and then try to sit down. Red wants to snuggle on couch, but Eldest wants book found. Fight ensues.

6:14am: Hide in the kitchen.

6:15am: Baby Girl wakes up. Feed Baby Girl. Clean up Baby Girl. Clean splash zone five feet around Baby Girl. Change Baby Girl. Turn on dancing monkey mobile. Baby Girl giggles. Back away slowly. Baby Girl cries. Step closer to Baby Girl. Baby Girl smiles. Sigh. Pick Baby Girl up. Repeat.

7:00am: Accept that Baby Girl is going to cry. Take Eldest to bathroom to brush teeth, comb hair, wash face.

7:05am: Pick up Baby Girl and wrestle into coat. Walk out door. Remember own shoes and coat. Walk back inside. Put Baby Girl down. Baby Girl cries. Shoes and coat half on. Good enough. Pick Baby Girl up. Red notices everyone is going outside without him. Red cries. Red runs to find shoes. Red cries. Locate Red’s shoes. Red tries to put shoes on. Red cries. Help Red put on shoes. Red cries. No idea why. Usher everyone outside.
7:12am: Bus arrives. Have repeated, “No, the bus is not here yet” approximately 152 times. Have odd sensation of relief with “only” two children.

7:15am: Ignore crying to be held and request to play trains. Make oatmeal. Have weak moment and eat cookie while waiting for oatmeal to cook. Decide cookie was really good. Eat another cookie. Eat oatmeal. Feel disappointed it does not taste like cookies.

7:30am: Baby Girl looks tired. Put back down into crib and pray she will take a nap. Baby Girl cries. Pretend Baby Girl is singing herself to sleep.

7:35am: Baby Girl is quiet. Race upstairs to get dressed. Try on 27 pairs of pants. Curse postpartum body. Wonder where so many pants came from. Brush teeth. Tell Red to speak quietly. Wash face. Tell Red he is going to wake up sister. Dry face. Help Red find a train. Ask Red to go downstairs so that mommy can get ready. Cringe as Red pounds down the stairs.

7:50am: Red hollers up the stairs. Baby Girl wakes up. Make mental note to Google “remove voice box from preschooler.” Grab two sets of clothes for Red. Retrieve Baby Girl from crib. Offer Red clothing choice. Red cries that he does not want to get dressed. Drag Lead Red to bathroom. Realize still have baby in arms. Return to living room. Put baby down in jumparoo. Baby Girl cries. Put Red on toilet. Pick up Baby Girl. Put her in Bumbo seat with basket of toys to play with.

7:55am: Baby Girl cries. Offer Red shirt A or shirt B. Red picks shirt A. Remove pajama top and pick up shirt A. Red cries he wants shirt B. Sigh. Put down shirt A. Pick up shirt B. Red cries he wants shirt A. Decide offering choice is stupid parenting suggestion probably offered up by childless "expert." Put clothes on Red while he cries.

8:15am: Baby Girl cries. Red miraculously brushes teeth thoroughly and without tears. Brush Red’s hair. Try to wash Red’s face with a washcloth. Red squirms. Put Red in headlock and scrub face. Red cries. Apologize and tell Red to put shoes on.

8:25am: Baby Girl cries. Gather own hair into ponytail. Red cries he needs help with shoes. Drop hair and help Red. Pick up Baby Girl. Baby Girl smiles and grabs hair. Put Baby Girl into carseat.  Unwrap sticky baby fingers from hair. Ouch. Must not have gotten all of the hair out of Baby Girl’s fingers. Baby Girl cries. Tell Red to put on jacket. Red cries that he does not want to wear a jacket. Chase after Red while trying to explain why he needs to wear jacket. Get Red’s arm into sleeve. Grab other jacket sleeve and realize jacket is empty. Hear laughter from other room. Give Red choice to wear jacket or spend morning in his room. Red slumps shoulders, but stays still enough to put on jacket.

8:35am: Gather diaper bag, school bag, purse, and keys with one arm and grab baby carrier with other arm. Deny Red’s request to be carried while using baby carrier to "encourage" Red toward door. Perform juggling feat to open door. Ask Red to please move out of the way of the door. Red moves 5 micrometers. Ask Red, again, to please move out of the way. Red moves 3 nanometers. Yell at Red to move it. Red cries. Sigh, step over crying child, continue to car. Red cries. Load baby and gear into car. Red cries. Return, pick up Red, immobilize him with carseat belts, and get behind the wheel.

8:45am: Baby Girl cries about being in carseat. Red cries because jacket hood is “munchy.” Explain that the drive to school is very short. Red and Baby Girl cry anyway. Notice drive does not feel short with two screaming children along.

8:48am: Arrive at school. Ask Red to hold his school bag. Red cries that it is too heavy. Free Baby Girl from carseat. She smiles. Take two steps. Tell Red to “come on.” Take three steps. Turn around to look for Red. “Come on.” Take three steps. Turn around to look for Red. Trip over Red while looking in wrong direction for Red. “Come on.”

8:50am: Join line of parents, preschoolers, and siblings trickling through school doors. Step inside first door. Red drops school bag and begins to strip off jacket. Another preschooler steps around Red. Preschooler’s sibling trips over Red’s bag. Yell at Red. “Come on!” Red tosses coat in general direction of mom and runs down stairs. Bend down to pick up jacket. “Excuse me. Sorry. Wait for Mommy, Red! Ouch. Sorry. Red!” Trail Red through three more sets of doors. Red finds friend and immediately begins to wrestle. “Easy, Red. Gentle. Don’t stand on that. Sit down. You are going to fall. Too rough!”

9:00am: “Oh look, there’s your teacher!”

9:01am: Feel lighter with “only” one child. Struggle back outside through four sets of doors. Fantasize about switching to preschool with “drop off.” Buckle Baby Girl in carseat. Baby Girl cries. Drive to grocery store. Baby Girl cries.

9:15am: Arrive at store. Realize Baby Girl is hungry. Retrieve baby bottle with 6oz water. Notice formula container is filled with powder for 8oz bottle. Curse. Add “most” of formula powder to bottle. Hope ratio is close enough. Lug carseat to cart corral and heave into cart. Give bottle to Baby Girl. Silence. Shop pleasantly.

9:25am: Baby Girl finishes bottle. Cries. Remove baby from carseat. Continue shopping with approximately 20lbs of dead weight. Remove package from Baby Girl’s hands. Replace on shelf. Re-shelf items Baby Girl knocked off shelves. Repeat.

10:15am: Perform weighted squats, bends, and lifts in order to transfer groceries from cart to belt while holding Baby Girl. Finally give up and buckle Baby Girl into her carseat. Baby Girl cries. Pretend Baby Girl is teaching herself to yodel and wonder why cashier looks pained. Begin to bag scanned groceries. Marvel that items sorted carefully on belt prior to scanning are arriving in the bagging area out of order. Push screaming baby out of store.

10:20am: Sprint to car in pouring rain. Load Baby Girl and groceries into car. Close doors. Notice ears are ringing with the silence. Return cart, consider breaking into a sprint out of the parking lot, decide against it, climb into car.

10:23am: Baby Girl falls asleep.

10:30am: Hurry inside while lugging sleeping baby in carrier. Manage not to fall and break head. Unload groceries while fantasizing about attached garage. Put groceries away.

10:40am: Realize have five minutes before leaving to pick up Red. Page through magazine and use restroom alone. Bliss.

10:45am: Lug sleeping baby and carrier through rain and back into car. Baby Girl cries.

10:48am: Repeat process of lugging carrier through four sets of doors to wait for Red.

10:55am: Pop into classroom early in order to pick Red up with enough time to meet Eldest at bus. Herd Red through four sets of doors, through parking lot, and into car.

11:02am: Late! Worry that Eldest’s bus will be parked in front of house. Feel relief when it is not. Examine contents of Red’s school folder. Read note stating Red needs to learn to recognize name. Sigh. Are pretty sure Red knows how to recognize name, but chooses not to. Sigh again. Wonder where Eldest’s bus is.

11:20am: Call bus garage. No one was home when bus pulled up. Eldest stayed on bus and must be picked up at the school. Groan. Call my mom. Explain will be late to lunch date. Worry about how angry Eldest will be.

11:30am: Drag Red and Baby Girl into kindergarten office to wait for Eldest. Red starts game of “guess what animal I am” with students in office, but does not tell other children. “Why is your son hissing?” Explain to Red that he needs to let other children know he is playing a game. Spend next 13 minutes suggesting animals for game.

11:45am: Buses arrive. Shuffle everyone outside to find Eldest. Apologize profusely to Eldest and bus driver. Breathe sigh of relief that Eldest does not seem angry. Eldest and Red argue over who gets to tell me about their day first. Decide not to point out that Red already had 45 minutes to tell me about his day. Let them work it out. Drive to my mom's...

At this point in my note taking, I realized that it was not even noon yet. No wonder I have no energy left over for writing. Mommy clearly needs a break and I have a plan. While Red and Baby Girl nap I am going to go hide in the bathroom. Eldest may yell a few questions through the door, but he won't come in for fear that he will get sick and have to miss school. It is the perfect plan. I'll be writing again in no time!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How Do I Know When to Offer Parenting Advice?

The title of this post is "How Do I Know When to Offer Parenting Advice?" I did not fully realize how much some of us struggle with this question until a Facebook interaction brought it to my attention. A friend posted one of those meme thingies and it made me giggle. I scrolled down to click “Like,” noticed the comment thread, got a upset and…well, why don’t you read it all for yourself.

TakeSelfTooSeriouslyLady: Hate to be contrary, but I work with a lot of older ladies who suffer from gastro-intestinal problems now after years of drinking coffee and tea. The best thing to help you feel more alert, besides more exercise, is more sleep. Try not to run yourself ragged, and find a better work-life balance.
FriendofThirdOption: ok, i'll try to explain that to the new baby
TakeSelfTooSeriouslyLady: lol, ok, admittedly, I have no experience w/ babies, but I see the long-term effects of caffeine dependency.
ThereMustBeAThirdOption: And this is why I stopped taking advice from people without kids! LOL! :)
FriendofThirdOption: See u later, FriendofThirdOption, say hey to RandomOtherFriend for me.
First off, CALM DOWN! It’s a meme shared on Facebook. It isn’t meant to be a mission statement. Secondly, I typed LOL AND added a smiley face. You can’t get all upset if I add a smiley emoticon. Plus, let's be honest with each other here. You told a new mom to "find a better work-life balance," are you really surprised someone took issue with that? Third, and most importantly, I was trying to save you from making an even bigger douche canoe out of yourself in the future. TakeSelfTooSeriouslyLady, you have got to know your audience. If you try spewing that crazy to me, I might just leave my three little angels with you. Trust me, you are not prepared for that. And god help you if you just happened to catch me after a night involving any sort of fluid (urine, vomit, repeated requests for a drink of water, etc.). I might not come back for them for a week.
I feel responsible for helping TakeSelfTooSeriouslyLady, and the myriad others like her, avoid this mistake in the future. Because I am such a giver, I have created a quick way for anyone to determine whether or not they should offer parenting advice. Please, take this quiz and share it with someone in need. The life you save may be your own.
Should you offer parenting advice?
A short quiz to help you determine whether to share or shut up.
Circle the answer that best describes you.
1. How many times in the past week have you gone to the bathroom alone?
     a) I don't understand the question.

     b) A couple of times, while the kids did a puzzle together.

     c) Zero. Zip. Nada. It's a convention in there every time.
2. Have you ever had to perform a Merry Maid at 2:00am because someone projectile vomited across his/her bedroom?
     a) Does the time we all got wasted on peach schnapps and Ashley's boyfriend puked in the back of my mom's minivan count?

     b) Goodness no, we have people who do that.

     c) Hells yeah. Those crib slats are a biotch to tidy up. (Bonus points if your child puked because he/she was throwing a tantrum over not wanting to go to sleep.)

3. What happens when people talk to you before your second cup of coffee?

     a) I greet them with a friendly smile and a warm "good morning."

     b) I don't drink coffee, but I do get a little saucy if you try to talk to me before I've had my herbal tea!

     c) Bad, bad things.

4. I love my dogs/cats/hermit crabs/etc. as if they were my own children.

     a) True! They are are my sweet, precious babies and I will never lock them in a room because they refuse to stop licking/scratching/trying to burrow into an ear to use as a new shell/etc. my human baby.

     b) I have no pets.

     c) Ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HA! False.

5. How often do you shop for groceries while simultaniously "encouraging" a screaming infant to take a pacifier, clutching a child's shirt in order to keep him from hurling himself into the path of an oncoming shopping cart, and screaming at a child seated in the cart under a replica of the Terminal Tower he has built with canned good and produce to stop calling his brother a poopy head?

     a) Never.

     b) Only if the childcare room is full, and even then I usually just come back later when someone else can watch the kids.

     c) At least once a week, usually twice, and most often while desperately needing to use the restroom.


If you answered mostly a's: Do not offer parenting advice! When it comes to parenting, you don't know your Baby Bjorn from your Bumbo. Until you have walked in the shoes of a new mom, you need to back off, because you are going to step on some toes...and probably end up with a face full of lukewarm coffee that the aforementioned new mom has been trying to find the time to drink.

If you answered mostly b's: Be very careful! Most likely anything useful you would be able to offer came from that one episode of Super Nanny you watched. We all watched it too. But thanks for thinking of us! :)

If you answered mostly c's: Bring it on! Meet up for some coffee or wine (depending on when you can ditch the kids with the hubs) and have a gab fest. As a matter of fact, give ME a call and we will hang out. We might be soul mates.



Friday, August 24, 2012

Potty Training Red: Part Three

Preschool starts next month and Red HAS to be potty trained in order to attend. I have limited fluids, threatened, bribed, screamed, cried a lot…anything and everything I could think of and Red is still not potty trained. “How can you still be writing about potty training Red?” you ask. Ummm…’cause it’s Red. The kid is stubborn as an ox, sharp as a tack, AND he is funny. No one likes a funny kid. (Or a funny parent, for that matter, but we are talking MY problems here. You kids are welcome to start your own blog, just as soon as you figure out the code for the internet.)

Here is an illustrative example for you. When we were trying to teach Red his colors, he always got them wrong. I started to worry that he was color blind or a little dim. I consulted with my friend Google and learned that if Red had some sort of color blindness, there should be a pattern to Red’s incorrect answers. I began to pay careful attention whenever Red identified colors. He was not mixing up red and green. There was no pattern, other than he utterly and spectacularly got the color wrong. Always. I got suspicious.  I asked him about it and he just smiled at me. From then on he correctly identified colors 100% of the time.

Ha-ha! Funny joke. Get your mom to think you don’t know your colors. Good one, Red. I swear, if the peeing his pants doesn’t get him thrown out of preschool, his sense of humor will.

“No, really! He knows his colors. He just thinks it is funny to pretend that he doesn’t.”

“Sure ma’am, I understand. These nice men are just going to help you into this white coat with the funny arms. We wouldn’t want you to catch a chill on the way to the booby hatch.”

When  I reached the end of my rope with this potty training business, it was not even 10am and I already had a load full of pee-soaked clothing marinating in the washing machine. I was tired, I was hormonal, and I was in no mood for Red’s shenanigans.

“Red, you have to—Red! Listen to me! You have—LOOK AT ME! You have to tell me when you have to pee. Okay?”


“Good. Now when you have to pee, what are you going to do?”

“Pee in my pants.”

“Red! That is not what mommy said. Mommy said that you need to tell me when you have to pee, so that we can go on the potty. Now, what did I say?”

“What did you say?”

“Listen to me. If you keep peeing in your pants, I am not going to give you anything to drink and you are going to be very thirsty and get dehydrated. You don’t want to dehydrate, do you? No, you don’t, so you are going to tell Mommy when you have to pee. Okay? I want YOU to tell me what I said, so that I know that you know what I am telling you. Okay?”


“Tell me what I said. Go ahead. Tell me.”

“What did you say?”

“Red, I swear to God, if you do not repeat back to me what I just said to you, you are going in time out!”

“I’m sorry, Mommy.”

“Repeat back what I just told you.”

“What did you say?”

“THAT. IS. IT. You are going into time out. NOW!” 

He sat in time out for three minutes while I prepared my “Mother of the Year” application. When he was done serving his time, I got down on his level and looked him in the eye. “Red, you are in time out for not listening to Mommy. Tell me that you are sorry and give me a hug.”

“Sorry, Mommy,” Red said as he wrapped his skinny little arms around my neck.

“I love you, baby. Mommy just really needs you to stop peeing in your pants,” I replied as I scooped him up in my arms. “Ugh. Are you wet? DID YOU PEE YOUR PANTS WHILE YOU WERE IN TIME OUT?!”

“Sorry, Mommy.”

“Did you seriously just pee your pants while sitting on the time out stool with the decorative holes punched into it? The stool that you dragged directly above the air conditioning vent? Seriously?!”

“Sorry, Mommy.”

 I let out a scream of frustration as I made my way to the cleaning supplies. As I was walking across the kitchen floor, I slipped and fell.

“What is…?” <sniff, sniff> “Is this urine? Did you pee over here too?!!!”

“Sorry, Mommy,” Red replied.

Then I noticed another smell. “Red, so help me god, if you crapped in your pants—“

Eldest said, “That was me. I farted.”

“Goodness, child, what did you eat?”

“I don’t know, Mommy, but I don’t feel good,” Eldest told me. And he was walking funny. “I think I pooped my pants.” Oh, Eldest, must you overachieve at everything, even passing wind?

Now, reread that last section, starting with “Then I noticed another smell,” and continuing through, “I think I pooped my pants.” Okay, now do that again three more times. You are now caught up. After the fifth overzealous fart, I slapped a pull-up on his butt too.

“Mommy,” Eldest whined. “It’s <tug> not very <tug, tug> comfortable.”

“Too bad! I only have pull-ups in Red’s size. If you would fart on the toilet like I told you to….”

When Husband arrived home, I waded through screaming, crinkly-pants-clad little children and handed him Baby Girl.

 “Congratulations,” I said. “You are officially the only member of this family without something absorbent in their pants.”

“When did the dog start wearing pants?” he asked. Ha-ha. Good one, husband. Apparently, Red gets his sense of humor from his dad.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

You Think I'm Nuts, Wait Until I Become My Mother

The Third Option family recently returned from a beach vacation. It was the five of us, my parents, and my aunt and uncle. What could go wrong when two parents drive 10 hours, through the night, with three kids under four years old in order to spend a week at the ocean? Plenty. What actually went wrong? Nothing. You read that correctly. I couldn't believe it either. Each one of my children was an absolute angel. My parents, on the other hand, were begging for the time-out stool.

Check-in at our rental house was at 4pm on Sunday. We wanted to do as much of the drive as possible while the children were sleeping. Unfortunately, if we left our house at 8pm, the absolute latest we could arrive would be at 8am. And that would happen only if we stopped 12 times and sat in traffic for 3 hours. Basically, we were going to get in at the crack of dawn and have no where to go. I explained this dilemma to my mom and she said, "We are staying about an hour away from the beach house on Saturday night. Why don't you meet us there? You and the Husband can get a few hours of sleep while Pop Pop and I entertain the kids."

"You will have another hour of driving to do on Sunday?"

"Yes, we always do that."

"But aren't you leaving on Friday?"

"Yes, we always do that."

"It takes you guys THREE DAYS to drive 10 hours?"

She rolled her eyes. "Your father..."

We arrived at their hotel at 5am. We had been driving since 7pm the day before and were loopy-tired. Somehow, we managed to get all of our, surprisingly chipper, children out of the car and to the hotel entrance. We steped up to the automatic doors. Nothing happened. Ever the compulsive reader, I heard Eldest say, "For your protection, these doors are locked from 10pm..." Crap. Husband and I looked at each other helplessly. A solution was way beyond our mental capacity at that moment. Then, I noticed movement inside. Oh thank god! My mom was waiting for us, watching the lobby doors from the balcony. I waved to indicate that she should come down. She merrily waved back. "Helloooooo!" Double crap. How does one mime opening an automatic door? I pointed to the door. "The. Door. Is. Locked." "What?" she yells back. The boys pounded on the doors. "Let us in!" Oh, I should have thought of that.

After a nap for the Husband and I, and some swimming for the kids, we decide to get some lunch before we finished up the drive. My dad suggested Ruby Tuesday. "We went there last night. It is just across the street." We agreed to take our separate cars and meet at the restaurant. It took us 10 minutes of arranging, rearranging, locating sippy cups, and yelling empty threats, but we finally got all the kids loaded up. The Husband exited the hotel parking lot, located the Ruby Tuesday across the street, and pulled in. But where were my parents? They shoud have arrived long before we did.

"Where are Gummy and Pop Pop?" Eldest asked. "They're gone!" moaned Red. Baby Girl, always calm in a crisis, continued to nap. I pulled out my cell phone and called my wayward parents.

"Where ARE you?" I ask.

"We are just pulling in. We got lost," my mom answers.

"Lost? You ate at Ruby Tuesday last night. And you can see it from the hotel."

I could hear my dad in the background say, "I forgot what road we drove in on," as if that explained everything.

"But you can SEE it from the hotel," I repeated.

"We went to all the other corners, but this one," my mom said.


"Your father..."

Not even 24 hours later, I was sitting at the dinning table in the beach house, enjoy the view, and trying to reach my critical caffeine level...

Pop Pop: Remember that bird statue we were looking at yesterday? It's gone.

Gummy: They took it down?!

Pop Pop: It must have been a real bird.

Gummy: What?! No. I can't believe someone came and took it down. Weird. I'm gonna put the baby down for a nap. You want her on her back or her stomach?

Me: Back.

My mom walked out of the room and my Aunt De walked in.

De: I found this calender online with lots of great stuff to do with the kids, but I can't find it again.

Pop Pop: I'll look for it.

De: I read something about a storytime under a tree...

My mom walks back into the room and says, "Oops, I forgot. She's on her stomach. Oh well, she can roll over."

Me: But you just...never mind.

De: I was just saying that I want to find that calendar...

Gummy: It's in the fridge.

De: What?!

Gummy: I put lettuce in it.

De: What?!

Me: Mom, she said "calendar."

Gummy: Oh. I don't know where that is.

Pop Pop: Well, look at that.

De: Did you find the calendar?

Pop Pop: Huh? No. I found fruit trees.

Gummy: Your father...

Then something terrible happened. First, I had a discussion with my mom about whether or not I had showered that day. With the overnight driving and whatnot, I wasn't sure when the shower-for-the-day cutoff should be. The fact that I was able to keep up a coversation about this for 10 minutes should have been my first clue. But when my mom suggested that I shower twice to be sure and I THOUGHT THAT MADE SENSE, I had a terrible realization. Oh my god, I am becoming my mother. ***shudder***

Now please excuse me, I have to go practice blaming everying on my father.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I Think Husband and I Are Too Lazy To Fight

Me: Are we in a fight?

Husband: It feels like it, doesn’t it?
M: Yeah. Are you mad at me?

H: No. Are you mad at me?
M: No.

H: Weird.

M: I know, right?

About 10 minutes later…
M: I think I said one thing and you got all pissy at me.

H : The fire truck thing?
M: The thing where I asked if you had seen the fire truck and you said “no” because you were standing on it?
H: I couldn’t see it.
M: Because you were standing on it.

H: I just think you could have pointed that out in a nicer way.

M: You want me to use a nicer tone of voice when I tell you that you are an idiot?
H: Yes.

M: Okay. Next time I call you an idiot, I will use my most pleasant tone of voice.
H: That’s all I am asking.
M: But you aren’t mad?

H: No way, that was a total bonehead move.

M: I wonder why it feels like we are mad at each other.

H: I thought things got weird when I disagreed with you about the proper use of “put it away” in beach volleyball.

M: I just think the connotation is that the winning of the point was completely due to the scorer.

H: But she won the point. She “put it away!” Kapow!

M: If she spiked the ball into the sand and no one touched it, then I agree. However, if the other chick has a spaz attack and flings the ball away, I don’t think the scorer “put it away.”

H: Because you are an expert at beach volleyball.

M: I HAVE been watching it for the last three days.

H: Good point.

M: Thank you.

H: But you aren’t mad at me?
M: Nope.
H: Is it ice cream time?
M: Hells yeah.

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Week, In Redness and Swelling

Have you ever have a day where you want to lovingly place a hand on the back of each of your baby boy’s precious heads and thunk their two melons together in hopes that it will stun them into silence just for a few moments? Well, I had an entire week of those days. And then everything really went to H-E double hockey sticks in a hand basket (whatever that is). Each and every one of my three children developed a large, red, swollen area on his/her body within one 24 hour period of time. First up: Baby Girl.

Baby Girl had her 4 month well child visit. The nurse was asking the usual list of questions about medications, allergies, and such. I was only half paying attention. Baby Girl had stripped down and was partying in her diaper. I was dancing her around the exam room trying to convince her that going to the doctor is FUN!

Nurse: “Same address?”
Me:“Yes. Who is that pretty girl in the mirror?”

Baby Girl: “Ahhhhh!”
Nurse: “Insurance information?”

Me: “You are! You are! Huh? Oh, yeah, insurance is the same.”
Baby Girl: “Gurgle, gurgle.”

Nurse: “Allergies to medications?”
Me: “Nope. We no have no awergies. Do we? No. We. Don’t. Nowedon’t.”

Baby Girl: “Heh, heheh.” (She laughs like Beavus. Or is it Butthead?)
Nurse: “Any—“

Me: “Wait. Her leg did swell up after she got her shots last time. Does that count?
Baby Girl: “Ack!”

Nurse: “I would say so. Especially, since she is getting the same vaccinations today. Do you know which vaccine caused the reaction?”
Me: “Pah! Um, how would I know?”

Nurse: “Do you remember which leg it was? We usually give the vaccines in the same place each time.
Me:  It was in…this leg. I think. I DID call the office when it happened. Do you think she noted which leg it was?”

Nurse: “Lets see…’Hysterical mother called to report softball-sized swelling around injection site.’”
Me: “What? I was so not even close to hysterical.”

Nurse: “Idiot didn’t notice until diaper change 2 hours later.”
Me: “That was because my baby exhausted herself crying and totally passed out.”

Nurse: “Crazy woman said swelling was gone by end of call. Why did she bother us on a Friday afternoon?”
Me: “Because I was on hold so long!”

(Okay, okay. I embellished some of that.)
Nurse: “I don’t see anything about which leg had the swelling. We will keep her for a little while after she receives the vaccinations and monitor her for a reaction.”

Baby Girl got her shots, the nurse left, and then we waited…about 6 seconds.
I poked my head out the door, “Excuse me?! It’s happening! Her leg is swelling!”

Turns out, a cold compress and some ibuprofen do the trick. Really? We couldn’t just go ahead with all of that and avoid the theatrics? Jeez.

Meanwhile, back at the homestead, the dudes were playing in the front yard with Husband.  Eldest was quietly playing with Matchbox cars. Red was lying on the ground peering into a hornet nest. Husband freaked out when he noticed millions of hornets (okay, maybe ten) flying around all of that sensitive, redhead skin.

Husband: “Get away from there! Get up! GO!”
Red: “Huh?” He looks up from the hole, lazily.

Husband: “You have your face in a hornet nest! You are going to get stung!”
Red: “Hornet nest?” He sits up and looks around. “Where?”

Eldest: “Hey guys, what’s going—OUCH!”
Red, the freakin’ hornet whisperer, had his face in a nest and absolutely nothing happened. Poor Eldest was 20 feet away and got stung above his eye. I suggested ice and ibuprofen. (I learned a little something after my experience with Baby Girl). Did they listen to me? No way. Husband put a band aid on it. The next morning Eldest came downstairs.

Red: “What with your eye?”
Eldest: “What do you mean? Mommy, it is kinda itchy.”

Me: “Holy sh—cow! Your eye is swollen shut! How am I going to get the band aid off?”
Red: “Open your eye,” he said as he tried to peel open his brother’s eye.

Eldest: “Ow! Don’t touch my eye. It IS open.”
No, it really wasn’t.

I was trying to monitor Eldest’s eye without drawing attention to the fact that his EYE WAS SWOLLEN SHUT. I was lurking in corners, shooting surreptitious glances towards my Eldest, when I noticed a smell.
Me: “Red, did you poop in your pants again?”

Red: “No.”
Me: “Let me check.”

Red: “No!”
Me: “Fine, but you are going to get a rash.”

Red: “No I’m not.”
I was fed up. Let him sit in his poo if that is what he wanted to do. By the time I changed him, his bits and pieces were bright red. He busted out some jiu-jitsu moves to avoid the diaper cream. I poked at him with a finger full of Desitin a couple of time before I gave up.

“Fine! Let your junk swell up. You’ll match everyone else in this house.”
A couple of hours later, Eldest got stung by another hornet. From now on, no one leaves this house without an ice pack and a dose of Advil.