Birthday Madness: I’m My Own Worst Enemy

I have 21 days until Sean’s 3rd birthday party. At which point, my house will be stuffed to exploding with friends and family and more toys.

Twenty-one days to clean, purge, donate, plan, buy, and execute.

It sounds like a lot of time — but since I work, I don’t get home until about 6:20 p.m. Sean goes to bed at 8 p.m. Which means I have about three hours each night to make dinner, clean up the dinner mess, get things ready for the next day, and relax for a little bit. The kids are like Tazmanian devils on weekends, pulling out every toy, playing with it, and discarding it around the house so it looks like we’re on an episode of Hoarders within an hour of their waking.

I took the week of the party off to prepare the food and do a deep clean of the house while the kids are at day care.  But I’m still nervous and stressed out about it.

There’s no logical reason for it. I know what needs to be done. But until I’ve gone into full geek mode and put things down on my calendar and start checking them off my list? I’m gonna be a basket case. It’s just the way I am.

For example: We’re going to do an Easter egg hunt. The party is a week after Easter, but small kids looking for brightly colored eggs in the backyard? Adorable and fun. Their goody bags will be Easter baskets, with small toys, stickers, and the candy that’s in the eggs. I’ve already worked out that I’m not buying any goody-bag related item until after Easter, when everything goes on super sale. I’ll also stock up on things like baskets, plastic eggs, stickers, and toys for next year’s party and store them in the garage. I’ve got this whole thing worked out.

And yet I stress. Oh, plastic eggs are on sale at Walgreens for 2 for $5. And I have a 15% off coupon! And so I’m debating whether I should fork out the $4.25 for 84 eggs now (at almost 9 cents an egg) or should I wait until after Easter when they’re practically guaranteed to be marked down to $1 each. Or 50% off. Or should I go to the dollar store and clean them out of their eggs after the holiday at 25 to 50 cents a bag?

I know the answer: I should wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

So I make lists upon lists upon lists of things I’m going to buy. Price checking pasta and ingredients to determine whether I make homemade meatballs or buy frozen ones from Costco. Scouring grocery store ads. Looking for coupons.

I drive myself nuts sometimes. But its how my brain works.

Milestones: His First Play

My son was in his first play. His entire day care class — the 2-year-olds — were sheep and sang two songs. But only two words came out of his mouth: Daddy and Mommy. I’m not complaining. He was an adorable sheep.

Apologies in advance for the occasional camera shakiness. I had Allie balanced on my lap. You’ll also get to hear Hubbs laugh. A lot. It might by my second-favorite thing about the video.

One thing about Sean: He has a mind of his own. And all of us — Hubbs, me, and his teachers — were almost positive that as soon as he spotted us in the crowd, that would be it. He’d come and sit with us, play be damned. I’m so glad he stayed up there the entire time.

Enjoy the cute!

Three Magic Words

Just a quickie today, loves. It’s all I have time for.

But I was at my annual OB appointment this morning (the joy!), and as my doctor and I were catching up — any new medications, how’s the birth control pills doing, you feeling less crazy on these ones, super! — she asked how the kids and Hubbs were doing. So I launched into my (what feels like) standard diatribe about us all sharing plague since mid-January and how I feel like my head is literally going to explode from all the pressure in my sinuses right now, and when I stopped for breath — with most likely a wild, crazed glean to my eyes — she smiled.

“It gets easier. I just want you to know that.”

She went on to say that the younger years with kids are just … terrifically wonderful and amazingly difficult at the same time. Especially with two little ones. She’s been there. Her kids are in high school now. And while parenting is never easy. Its easier physically and emotionally when the kids are a little bit older, because they’re more independent and they don’t need you for EVERY.SINGLE.LITTLE.THING.

And then she shared a really good smoothie recipe with me.

But seriously folks. There will be ups and downs, and horrific cold and flu seasons, and kids keeping you up all night for no other reason than that they want YOU near them.

It gets easier. It gets easier.

Just saying it makes me feel better.

My Daughter The Heartbreaker

There are some things you don’t expect to hear about your 15-month-old daughter from day care, such as her growing horns or having crying jags all day long. The other thing we never expected to hear: She kissed a boy yesterday afternoon. On the lips.

Imp. Pixie. Heart breaker?

Part of the story came out after I asked how the kids did at day care/school when I got home from work yesterday. I was snuggling with Allie, who was giving me one of her patented, magical, make-your-heart-burst hugs, when Hubbs said: “She kissed a boy today.”

Huh?

Oh yeah. She kissed him. On the lips. She grabbed his face, and gave him a smackaroo. A lip lock. A wet one, no doubt, since her kisses mean she places her open mouth on your cheek or lips and says “mmm”.

I should mark it on the calendar: March 15, 2012: 15-month-old Allie kisses her first boy.

I pressed Hubbs for more information, such as WHO she specifically kissed, but that was all he knew. Aside from the fact that her teachers were vastly amused by the kiss.

I turned to my daughter and looked into her brown eyes. “You kissed a boy?”

She giggled and turned her head away, then dipped back to me.

“Who’d you kiss?”

She giggled again and gave me one.

“OK, I won’t press you,” I said, kissing her cheek, “but you can tell me, you know.”

More giggles.

Turning on the charm.

Today, as I walked into the toddler room at day care, all the teachers looked up and called “Allie!” with big smiles and waves. Do you see the picture on the right? THAT is the smile she gave them.

“I heard someone kissed a boy yesterday,” I mentioned, and they all tittered and giggled.

“It was the cutest thing EVER,” one of them gushed.

“Who did she kiss?” I asked, looking around.

“Ames,” she replied. (I have no idea who that is.) “He was actually kind of annoying her. He was patting her on the back and he started to poke at her, so she walked away and he followed her. Once he caught up to her, she turned around, grabbed him by the cheeks, pulled him in, and kissed him!”

They all broke out into laughter.

“And then she walked away again And he just stood there for a second, trying to figure it out. It was so adorable!”

Her favorite dress. For now.

Apparently she was also very full of herself yesterday — she kept showing her main teacher her dress, sparkly tights, and shoes.

This kid loves dresses. She’ll walk to her open closet, stroke her dresses and coo at them. She loves shoes too — the bunny boots she’s wearing in the first picture? She picked those out herself at the mall and wouldn’t put them down.

When you put her in a dress, the first thing she does is test out the swish factor: She’ll put her arms at her sides, fingertips pointing up, and twist from side to side at the waist, making the skirt flare out around her.

The wider the flare, the bigger her smile.

She looks like a pixie ballerina when she does it, and it cracks me up to no end.

But back to that kiss: I think it shook Hubbs up a little bit.

I mean, this is his baby girl. And she’s kissed a boy. He jokingly said that he’s going to have a long talk with her brother, since they’ve been talking about this since the day she was born: Hubbs wants Sean to keep tabs on his sister and give him a heads-up if anyone is interested in her or vice versa.

Buddies.

And in this case, her brother didn’t give Dad any warning. Aside from being vastly amused by this — the kids are in separate rooms after all — it was rather endearing.

It made me think of when the kids are older, and how we’ll worry when they start hanging out with other kids, going to sleepovers, and dances, and all the hoopla that goes with it.

About how he’ll worry about his darling baby girl being out there in the open with the wolves. How he really will want her brother to keep an eye on her. To make sure she’s safe. To protect her. How we both will want to do the same.

And let’s not forget the boy here: Every day while we drive to day care he tells me who he’s going to play with that day. And then yesterday, out of the blue, he said:

“Ashley and GiGi are pretty.”

I’ve been hearing about these two girls for weeks. They’re part of his group, and apparently he and Ashley hold hands on the playground sometimes. And they know who I am, because when I walked into the room to pick him up for a doctor’s appointment the other day, Ashley said “hi” then turned to the back of the class and called: “Sean?! You Mommy’s here!”

Man do they grow up fast.

Happiness.

Bribery & Other Sins

I remember the days before I had kids. (Vaguely at least.) And you know what? I was judgey. I can admit that now.

See a parent giving in to a kid in a toy store? Weak! I’d never do that when I had kids … See a kid throw a nuclear-fueled melt-down in the store? MY future kids would never misbehave so badly! Hearing a parent bribe their kid with something — candy, McDonald’s, whatever — just to get them to do something? Be still my heart! How could they?!

Do you know what else I can admit? I want to kick the person I once was. I want to kick her in the shins. Because she had no freaking idea what she was talking about. 

So here for your amusement — and mine — here are some of my parenting “sins”:

Bribery

Yeah, I bribe the boy. He’s not even 3 yet, and I bribe him. My saving grace: My bribery is 99% related to medicine. That boy does not like taking medicine. The only thing he half-way willingly takes is grape-flavored Tylenol.

Otherwise, I would have to either:

  1. Lay him on the changing table, lean over his torso with my body, trap his hands under my stomach, and hold his head with 1 hand while giving him the medicine with the other, or
  2. Sit on the floor, wrap my legs around him (trapping his legs), wrap one arm around his two arms, and corral his head between my shoulder and chin while giving him the medicine with the other hand.

It was time-consuming and exhausting and — let’s face it — not exactly fun for anyone involved. Thank goodness he never thought to spit it back at me. (Although I did take knees and hands/elbows to the head a couple of times.)

One day when both kids were sick, I gave the girl-child her medicine first. Bless her little heart, she opened right up and took all her medicine without any fuss and even smiled at me. I will admit that I over-reacted for Sean’s benefit. I gushed at her, telling her what a good girl she was, how proud I was of her, and what a big girl to take her medicine so well! And then I got Hubbs in on the game: “Hubbs, Allie is such a good girl! She took all her medicine like a big kid!” *wink-wink* He knew what I was up to and did the same song and dance.

Sean eyed the both of us skeptically the entire time.

And when it was time for him to take medicine? He opened up with no fuss and drank it all. Then looked at me and smiled as I praised him up and down and threw him a parade.

It worked for 3 days.

On day 4 of his antibiotics, he refused to take medicine again. I was sick and tired (literally and figuratively) at that point, and said something to the effect of: “If you take your medicine, mommy will give you candy.”

Sean: “Candy?”
Me (getting excited): “YES. If you’re a good boy and take your medicine with no crying, mommy will give you CANDY.”
Sean: “I get medicine.”

And he took it! No fuss! And then he looked at me and said: “I get candy?” And we ran to the cabinet and he got a piece of candy. Well … pieces. “Candy” in our household means a mini packet of Pez. And then a thorough tooth-brushing.

Now at the end of the night he’ll ask me: “I get medicine? I get candy?”

Being that we’ve all had plague on a rotating basis this year, I’m buying another bag of Pez.

Judge all you like.

They Watch TV

The horror! I’m turning their little minds to mush with things like Sesame Street, Disney movies, and National Geographic channel!

Let’s face it, parents need a break sometimes. And these things are entertaining. And mostly educational. Ever watch a kid dance along to a Sesame Street song? Priceless. I also think it helped him learn to count to 20. Disney movies taught him about dogs, cars, safari animals (Lion King intro, we never get any farther), fish, and that monsters aren’t scary.

Most times, neither kid sits still and watches the entire show/movie unless they’re sick and cuddled up with me. Otherwise, they’re running around the room playing and occasionally watching something on the screen. When a song comes on, they dance or bob along as they sit down.

And I’m OK with that.

It’s also vastly entertaining to see my kids’ reaction to a crocodile snapping a giraffe off a shoreline and dragging it into the water. Their eyes go wide, and then they smile. “He eat him! Croa-o-wile eat giwaffe! Bye giwaffe! Have a nice day!” Hubbs and I snicker a bit at that, and then Allie waves her goodbye at the screen.

On another note, my kid can correctly distinguish between a crocodile and an alligator. He nails it every time. Also, if he tells you the animal in the picture is a gazelle? My money’s on him being right.

We Don’t Eat Dinner As A Family … Yet

We're not here yet.

Right now, it just isn’t practical. I don’t walk through the door until 6:10 p.m. on a good day, and at that point, both kids are ready to start eating their fingers and toes no matter how many snacks Hubbs throws at them.

So they usually get a quickie dinner within 10 minutes of me walking through the door — with most of that time being devoted to cutting up fruits and/or veggies.

The goal is to start working us toward sitting down as a family, but that takes better planning on my part and the kids being able to feed themselves better.

As in, not dumping a carton of yogurt/plateful of watermelon/the entire contents of his(/her) cup on the floor every 5 seconds “better”.

I Take The Kids On Errands

No really, I do. And they will inevitably get mad about something and scream in the store and possibly fling themselves down on the floor and if they’re in a spectacular mood, they’ll kick their feet while they’re down there. I used to turn my nose up at it, but you know what? They’re kids. If I misunderstand what one of them is trying to say (ahem, Sean) that can be the sole basis for a temper tantrum. So can the word “no”. As in “No, you can’t stay in the outdoor section of Costco and play in the shed for the next 45 minutes because 1. You have a cold and 2. Because I said so. MOMMY LAW.”

Poor Hubbs had him for the tantrum that ensued, since I was wrangling the girl child and getting her buckled into the basket. And then he was accosted by a Buttinski shopper who proceeded to tell him how he was mishandling the situation. I was waiting for the fallout, but he walked away instead. She looked offended, and started to open her mouth to me as I passed. I cut her off, saying “Mean mommy wouldn’t let him play outside IN THE COLD anymore …” and breezed on by.

What parenting “pitfalls” are you guilty of?