Slice of Life 12/29

“Goodnight. I love you, Bubby,” I whisper, as I backwards crawl out of my son’s new tent. It was a gift he received from Santa, although Santa probably would have rethought this gift if he knew Harrison was going to insist on sleeping in it. Santa really assumed that it would just be for play time. Santa has a lot to learn, apparently.

As I turned out the light and left the room, I smiled to myself and wondered how long this phase would last. How many nights would he need to sleep in his new tent? How many “non naps” would he have in there (because we all know he’s not doing much sleeping under that canvas cover)?

Not that I’m an expert AT ALL in this parenting thing, but after two babies, and some good time spent in toddlerism, I know that everything is a phase. Some are good, some are bad. Some we hope to last forever, like the arms-around-the-neck hugs and kisses and the random outbursts of “Mama, I love you!” Then there are the ones we wish will pass faster than Chinese food indigestion, like the colicky crying that we have thankfully surpassed, and potty training (one down, one to go).

I made it down the stairs, poured myself a glass of wine, and sat on one of our bar stools to do some online research, when a little voice from the landing called, “Mommy! I want to sleep in my bed now!” I have to admit, I rolled my eyes. Looking over at my husband, playing completely aloof at the whole scenario, I knew this was my gig. Off I went back upstairs to relocate my little guy. Naturally, giggles, snuggles, and small talk ensued while I was up there, but to be honest, I didn’t mind. Because this is a phase.

A phase that lasted exactly two nights and 28 minutes.

I’ll be keeping in mind as we enter the new year that all things are phases with children. Some I will embrace, and some I will breathe deeply to survive.

 

 

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New Year, New Mom

It’s that time of year when we’re supposed to make New Year’s resolutions. This year, there are so many changes I want to make, and so many things I have to keep up with that I really don’t know where to begin. I don’t want this to be another year of focusing just on my health and fitness because, in reality, I’m doing a pretty good job with that.The past ten or so years of resolutions have finally been put into motion and I DO make time for exercise and eating healthy. I think there are more important things to improve at this point in my life.

Although the mother guilt is a real thing, I’m not going on and on here to bash myself as a parent. This is just a list of things I want to improve upon as a mother, because, let’s face it, that’s my most important job right now.

1. Make eye contact.

When Harrison and Ella are talking to me, it’s so easy to respond to them with words, but I don’t always respond with my whole being. I’d like to look at them when they’re talking, get on their level, and really listen. (Unless we’re in the car. Then I promise I’ll keep my eyes on the road.) Harrison gets so much more animated when I do this, and Ella has seemed to blossom in her vocabulary lately, so I don’t want to miss anything.

2. Let them do stuff.

I’m not talking about jumping off of the roof or anything, but I don’t think I give my kids enough credit for what they are capable of doing. Ella used to drive me bonkers whenever I unloaded the dishwasher. She’d try to climb in and inevitably she’d grasp hold of the sharpest knife in there before I could swoop in and save her. Then all of a sudden, she toddled over, said “I help”, and to my surprise, she took a spoon and put it in the silverware drawer. She actually COULD help. I want to let her do more of that because I think it will help her grow, and help me understand her skills more. Who cares if a few dishes end up in the wrong places?

3. Prepare.

I want to be one step ahead of the game for them when the day gets started. Our mornings are always chaotic-shoes go missing, Harrison forgets that he knows how to dress himself, toothpaste gets smeared all over the wall, you know what I mean. Preparing a little bit by packing up snacks the night before, picking out clothes ahead of time, and having breakfast ready will hopefully give me time to get all of our days started on the right foot. Maybe I’ll have a few more minutes for snuggling and reading books.

4. Educate.

Um, yeah, I know I have ten years of teaching experience and a master’s degree in education but I really don’t spend a lot of time teaching my kids stuff. For the past couple years I think we’ve all kind of been in survival mode, and I’d like to focus more on their early childhood development. This is definitely something I look forward to, as I have a passion for teaching, but quite frankly, I’ve been scared to delve into this with my own kids. So if you come visit and happen to notice student learning objectives and Common Core standards posted on the fridge, you know I’m underway with this resolution 🙂

Hopefully I can keep up with these goals for the next 366 days, and if not, I will have something to work toward in 2017!

A pain in the…

The other day I did something to my back. Right when I was about to do the laundry, I pulled my arms back (because, you know, laundry requires a good stretch) and all of a sudden, I couldn’t move my arms or my neck. I tried to crouch down into child’s pose because for some reason that seemed like a good idea. But of course then I couldn’t get up, so there I was in the entry way of the laundry room in a ball on the floor. Not long after, Harrison came in looking for me. I told him Mommy was in a lot of pain and he said, “Oh. Can I have a snack?” So yeah, my kid is really sensitive.

Well anyway, somehow I managed to get up and get myself to the couch. The kids were really concerned at this time because it’d been a good ten minutes since they’d eaten anything and they thought starvation was imminent if I didn’t snap out of it soon. I sent Justin a text telling him he might need to come home because I hurt my back and couldn’t move.

His reply: Oh that’s too bad. Let me know.

But seriously. Your wife is home with your two young children and she can’t move. And you need her to “let you know” if you should come home and take care of things??? I decide, however, that I can probably make it through until he comes home at his normal time, because what could go wrong? It’s just Harrison and Ella we’re talking about here.

Luckily for the well-being of our marriage, Justin decided he should come home to make sure things were alright. By that time, the kids were running around the house like maniacs, the laundry I hadn’t been able to fold was strewn across the living room, and I was on the couch. And the following events will explain why I didn’t beg him to come home in the first place.

  1. Ella had a stinky diaper. If ever Justin has to change a stinky diaper, he turns on his actor voice and you can hear him from down the street saying, “OK, fine, I’ll change this diaper, IF I HAVE TO. Come here Ella. Come over here. No, Ella. Don’t run away. Oh, GOD how I hate changing stinky diapers!” and so on. So, I literally rolled myself off the couch and crawled over to her to change her diaper because I didn’t want to hear his drama. If you’re wondering why I didn’t just give him the benefit of the doubt, it’s because when I said, “Oh Ella, you need a new diaper”, Justin scurried into the kitchen and out of sight as fast as possible. So much for him coming home to help out.
  2. BUT THEN! And this one really got me. All of a sudden, Justin’s ailments came pouring out. Because everyone knows that moms can’t be sick or hurt, and if they are, someone in the house is worse off. So he was picking up one of the kids and all of a sudden, I hear “OUCH! My wrist!” My eyes rolled so far back in my head that I’m pretty lucky they didn’t get stuck there. Following his painful wrist, there was also some back pain, and I think a sinus infection, and finally a hangnail or two before the night was over.
  3. The final and favorite of all events was Justin’s ever-so-sensitive comment, “So, I guess this means you’re not making dinner.” Yeah buddy. Order some pizza or whatever because I think me not being able to stand is clue enough that I’m not going to whip up a nice meal for the family.

After some naproxen sodium, and a couple days of not exercising, my back seems to be better, thank goodness, because ain’t nobody got time for that. Especially not a mom. I’m back to changing diapers (oh wait, I never stopped…) and cooking dinner so everyone can rest easy now. Justin, however, is still in recovery from his hangnail. 

The Magic

Somehow, Christmas is approaching faster this year than any previous year in my memory. It’s probably because I have more to do, but I still miss the magic feeling-I’ve had small glimmers of it here and there, but really, I’m feeling like I’m in a whirlwind.

We’ve got our tree up, the house is decorated, presents are purchased, and that damn Elf on the Shelf keeps moving right along to different spots in the house. There hadn’t been any giving or charity on my part yet and I knew that was what was missing. I was looking for some charitable giving to do, when my friend Lauren posted about helping out a Syrian Refugee group. I quickly set a time to meet her with some warm clothes that the kids had outgrown, and one evening, the kids and I drove to give her the items. She was then going to deliver them and package them up with another woman in the area who has this whole organization going. After we left her, Harrison queried as to why I was giving away all of his clothes.

“They’re the ones you’ve outgrown, honey. I didn’t give away the clothes that fit you. Besides, there are some people in this world who need our help, and it’s nice to give them things that we don’t need anymore. You might want to think about giving away some of the toys you don’t play with anymore. That would be very kind.”

“But Mom,” he replied, “Santa will take care of all that stuff for those people.”

Time stopped right then. All the whirling and hustling of the season came to a screeching halt.

How do you explain to a three year old that Santa can’t visit everyone? That he DOESN’T visit everyone? If you didn’t know, fairness is a big theme in the life of a toddler, and to realize this injustice would definitely wreck his world. I didn’t know how to explain it, and I am glad I didn’t have a good solid answer for him because after I thought about it for a minute, it was clear to me. Christmas was clear to me. And it doesn’t necessarily always need a solid answer. Things that are real have solid answers. Things that are really magic do not.

There it was: the pure innocence and unwavering belief that there is SOMEONE out there who can provide for everyone, even if just once a year. And why wouldn’t he think that? It makes perfect sense in the eyes of a three year old. This, to me, is what magic is. For little ones it’s the belief that life could be so simply easy. For those of us who do the helping and providing this time of year, this is where our magic comes in too. My life slowed down and my magic turned on right then. I had real work to do from that point forward. Now, I am not worried about making sure the pile beneath the tree is big enough (and my Amazon bill says it’s plenty big anyway), but my job instead is to show my children the special feeling you get when you GIVE. To show them the smiles on people’s faces when they receive. To provide them opportunities to be selfless and caring and nonjudgmental. They don’t need to know that Santa can’t visit everyone. What they need to know is that they can share in his magic.FullSizeRender

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Nap Time Nightmares

 

Lately, (as in the past 3 and a half years) we have struggled with Harrison’s naps. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been so stressed out lately: the one time of day where I have a slight chance at any down time, he has managed to make into a complete nightmare. The other day, we caught him standing on his bedside table trying to hang his alarm clock from the ceiling fan. Another time, he took off all his clothes and threw them over the baby gate (more on the gate later). He is generally loud and obnoxious until he actually falls asleep, and that is IF he actually falls asleep. I’ve often given in and let him skip nap, however, that’s when he falls asleep at 5pm on the couch, only to wake up again and make bedtime a living hell.

My mother in law watched the kids while we were away last week, and upon our return, she told us that she had him all figured out. Thank God. I’ve been at home with him for two years, but after a week, she has all the answers. This woman is sweet as pie, and she thinks Harrison walks on water. Quite frankly, if he could walk on water, I think he’d leave a trail of fire behind him as he went, but, alas, he’s pretty well behaved in her presence. I honestly don’t think she believes any of the stories I tell her about him. She might even be refusing to follow my blog in protest. Anyway, she instructed me to make him stay in his room until he fell asleep. She said I should allow him to play (he was building something out of curtain rods yesterday because I took all the toys out of his room) and that he would fall asleep eventually. We are on day four of this experiment. The first two days he spent THE ENTIRE AFTERNOON in his bedroom. He played for two hours and FINALLY slept for two after that. I felt incredibly guilty that he was wasting his afternoon, but I explained the options, and I guess he made his own choice. He just keeps getting more creative though.

I believe in my mother in law’s eyes, this would make for an easy day for me. Heck, the kid would be out of my hair for all those hours. What’s to worry about? Of course that little stinker had other ideas. He wasn’t just PLAYING in there. Aside from the ceiling fan incident, the curtain rod construction project, and the nude show of protest, he also rearranged his furniture. He “reorganized” his closet. And when he was bored inside his room, he decided to go wake his sister up. This is where the baby gates come in. So, when it was Ella’s naps that were also being interrupted, I had to resort to drastic measures. I put a gate up in front of his door to keep him in. This did not stop him from opening his door and yelling to me from the top of the stairs, but at least he was contained. Until he wasn’t. The loud bang I heard from above was Harrison knocking over the gate. I think he was so proud of himself that he didn’t know what to do next because he didn’t even try to escape. But I know my boy and I know he WOULD have escaped sooner or later. So I did this: IMG_1091

Yes, that would be two baby gates, because one just didn’t cut it for my little angel. It was my only option because I hear cages and duct tape are against the rules. The worst part is, it’s Christmas time. This kid should be shaking in his underoos at the thought of Santa watching all of this. We even have an Elf on the Shelf named Shiny. Truth of the matter is that my kid couldn’t give a lesser crap about that elf or Santa. If I even survive until the new year, I’ll be the most tired mama around!

Do you have any naptime funnies to share? Post ‘em in the comments so I know I’m not alone!

If you’re new here…

If you’re new here, welcome! Thanks so much for coming by. I’ve been spending lots of time trying to expand my viewer population, but since Harrison and Ella usually don’t let me get a full thought through my head, or allow me to read a full article on blogging, I’ve run into some road blocks. Anyway, I really appreciate all of you who do visit, and comment, AND SHARE (hint, hint) on a regular basis. There’s something new at the bottom of my page. It’s a link to Top Mommy Blogs-I just got approved to their site which is extremely exciting for me! If you click it, you will vote for me as one of the Top Mommy Bloggers. You will also make me a super happy gal. Thanks so much!