Monday, June 23, 2008

Water, Must Have Water

I am the woman in the desert, each day reaching for the water that's not there, or draining the last few drops from a glass that just barely wet my tongue. Stuck in the glider rocker or on the couch, with that parched feeling that happens about two minutes into nursing, I look around with panic, eyes franticly searching for a solution to my need. And asking myself for the 1,277th time in the past 3 1/2 years, why did I not check for water first?

My dream is that in every room in our house there would be equal opportunity to get water. No more slow-trickle tap water from the upstairs bathroom. No more filling the cheapo brand Brita pitcher. No more wondering if the fridge filter still works, but hey, it's cold. No more wishing and hoping for a better tomorrow that has plenty of rushing water throughout the house. Now is the time for H2O freedom, the glug glug of multiple 50-gallon jugs with a free-flowing tap (and some child safety feature ideally, or we'd be asking for own mini-flood) as the water gushes into my glass right next to our bed, the rocker, the couch. What a day that will be. With *your help*, it can be a reality. Just $1 a day toward our water rejuvenation fund will help provide clean, healthy water for this thirsty, tired nursing mom. Send your gift today!

Monday, June 9, 2008

You Hurt My Feelings

So today Clarissa needed discipline at one point, and I might have been a bit harsh in my tone while correcting in response I heard the heartbreaking words, "You hurt my feelings, Mom." I avoided it at first, saying, "You're just sad because Mommy needed to discipline you." And she said, "No, my heart is hurt, Mom--you hurt my feelings." I did ask for forgiveness for getting ang-er-y, as she puts it, and she graciously forgave me. I keep wondering how old she can get before I "scar her for life," and marveling at how she forgives 70X7 times, just like Jesus says to. I guess she sees that mommy is repentant, and is trying to overcome this anger monster that turns me green and bushy-eyebrowed like the Incredible Hulk (I just watched the 70s version at the health club today, and it was hilarious. In one episode they encountered a bear, a rattlesnake, tracking dogs and men with guns on their tail, and of course quicksand).

At dinner she said, "Not as easy as I thought" when she was trying to scoop up a pile of parmesan cheese she had scraped together. That's what I think about this whole parenting gig sometimes--hmm, not as easy as I thought. The limitless patience, constant explaining to the point where you are tired of hearing yourself speak even more than hearing the question, "But why, mom?" But also trying to get down to the heart of things--how can she be so sweet to Charlie sometimes and then turn on him the next moment? We talked today about how the Bible says to "Be kind to one another" and how she can think about how to be kind to Charlie from her heart. She seemed to get it, but she also seemed to get the rule about not going outside without mommy and she did it twice today (Once was in her excitement about seeing the pool out there, even though it wasn't even filled yet, thankfully).

BTW, Charlie did not really like the pool like I thought he would--he loves baths, but did not want to have anything to do with the pool at first. It didn't help that the water was still freezing since I had just filled it (Clarissa helped, which is always a little taxing). He screamed and scrunched his legs up toward his ears--I don't know how he can fold himself in half in midair like that. Maybe we have the makings of a gymnast on our hands. Eventually I got him to sit on the side with me, and then walk through the water a bit, but that all ended when he slipped and landed face first and had a big gulp of water. So he sat on me and got me nice and wet with his hu-mongous diaper that had swelled up to the size of Maui. Need to splurge on some swim diapers--they haven't made it in the grocery cart yet because of our wacky weather here and there's always more urgent things to get. I'm going to try to use cloth more during the day with Charlie because if I use 4 diapers a day (and that's using each one to the max), it's a dollar a day, and I don't like that my little boy is covered in plastic all day. And that we are covering the earth in plastic. We did great with Clarissa but I have definitely slacked with Mr. Bubbs, a.k.a. the Bubby Boy.

When we were all playing "chase" ("dase") tonight, Charlie was saying, "Get you!" (dee too!) and before bed was giving me these goofy, wacky kisses as he was standing over me. It was so funny. I love kissing his chubbed out cheek while he's smiling. I managed to touch up some of his haircut I gave him this weekend--I think for the next month I'll continue to mentally chop off little pieces that I missed. Boys' haircuts are tricky! It's so feathery and fluffy in places, like Robert's hair in high school. I think I did okay though--and Robert did the bangs REAL NICE. No sudden moves where it's an inch shorter than we'd like (Not that that happened last time or anything).

I decided I need to make up silly songs to get me through the day more, like when Clarissa sang "I think he can zip in" about stuffing her purse with this little guy to the tune of "The Bear Went Over the Mountain." It was a very thorough rendering of the song, creatively using only those 6 words. I can substitute, "I think we will make it, I think we will make it, until Daddy gets home, why don't we have any chocolate, when does Daddy get hooooooooome? Dear Lord, let it be soon!" Soon I will post a version of the "Charlster" song, pioneered by Uncle Mokey. Charlie even sings along to the "dee dee dee dee deeeeee dee" part. I need to remember music--it lightens the mood significantly when it is getting heavy and serious in this house (YOU MUST OBEY, YOU MUST EAT, YOU MUST PLAY, YOU MUST SLEEP. My mantras).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My Heart is Broken

She is only three-and-a-half (as of Friday), and she's already said the words every woman feels at one point or another: "My heart is hurt--it's broken, Mommy." Now before all women reading this freak out and wail with teary eyes, "I understand, honey! I've been there, too!", we need to get a little context here. She somehow managed to scrape her chest when we were outside so there is a red scrape right in the middle, and the above statement was said during her bath after I asked her what happened to her chest. Of course she didn't know either how it happened, but she was quite sure that her heart was broken. And right before I was leaving her room after the books, final song, back scratch, praying, water break, final words of "Don't forget to turn off the light, turn on Cinderella etc.", she said, "Don't forget the bandaid for my heart!" So I got it and positioned it and she pressed it down. If only it were always that easy! The only bad thing about it was that a couple hairs got caught in the bandaid as she was looking down admiring it while I got it in place. But she is already used to the pain of long, flowing beautiful hair. All the princesses are!

Clare's expressions are a trip--she's all about saying, "Yeah, DUDE." "I gave it to you, DUDE." Etcetera. Even Charlie says "Doo" now to be like her. Other funny words she has are "ganilla" for vanilla ice cream, "doornog" instead of doorknob, "boice" instead of voice (at bedtime she said "Pretty boice, Mom!" while I was singing "Praise God"--her name for "Amazing Grace"). She is usually so articulate I think the times she doesn't quite pronounce something right are so cute. In fact, she says so many funny things I can't keep track of them all. I journal guiltily in my head everyday, but rarely get anything written down. That is this blog's job. At dinner tonight we all laughed when she said, "It's not so bad after all!" after we had her try this egg/tuna salad concoction I made.

Charlie said "dinosaur" and "meat" at Michael and Karin's wedding last weekend, which I thought was ironic because they are very carnivorous words for a vegetarian wedding. He is also saying belly button ("bwee buh-uh"), pants ("peeps"), shoes (sounds like shoes now instead of "dooj"), orange ("awch"), and many others every day it seems. "Where's sister" was his first sentence when he didn't see her next to him in the van (we had moved her to the back so Nana wouldn't get clocked every time she got in and out during the trip to Mokey's wedding). The wedding was awesome, by the way. More on that in another post, and we're uploading pictures to our website soon.

I think tomorrow I will get out THE POOL finally, since it's been 90 degrees for like 5 days now (that's how long I have to gear myself up for something new). I have been dying to go swimming myself so I might put on a mumu or something and join them. I will probably get just as wet anyway, so might as well jump in (well, it's only a big plastic one so better not dive).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Annoying List II

At long last, here are a few items from my annoying list, embellished with current examples.

10. When Clarissa won't go potty and it's "time," like before we go out the door (especially somewhere I don't know how I will manage to take her to the potty if she doesn't go now, e.g. with Charlie and a cart full of groceries), or before her nap. Now, I cannot relate with her at all, because after babies, I can go even when I don't want to. Also, I am running around sometimes very uptight and I realize I have had to go the bathroom for an hour and haven't had a chance. Don't you know how lucky you are, little girlie, to have someone TELL you to go and MULTIPLE chances to do it? I even make Charlie leave you alone so you can poop in peace. But then suddenly during naptime she is so preoccupied with going that she is in there three different times and just has no time to sleep (it's the only thing she's allowed to get out of bed for so she is taking full advantage, and also wasting lots of TP--that's a whole other story).

9. When Clare asks the same thing 10 times even AFTER I've answered. "Mom, who's coming today? Nana?" "No, that's Tuesday." "What's today? Who's coming today?" "No one, it's just us. Our family together." "Why?" Then I want to blow up emotionally and say, "Aren't I enough for you? Don't you appreciate me for who I am? Don't you like to be with mommy?" And she'd say, "Mom, you're being codependent again," and we would hug. Wait, that's in 15 years. Do I need a string on my back that she can pull repeatedly, with a series of random answers? Or maybe one she can program to give the RIGHT ONES, like "Yes, of course you can have a sucker. They are so good for you! And a half an hour after you eat them you are so cheerful and obedient! In fact, let's go to the bank right now so you can pick your favorite color." (Actually, the bank has cut costs and is no longer giving suckers. It's OK because I have many stored away, getting meltier and messier each day, from various outings where they say, "Can she have a sucker? Here, take two." Yeah, that's just what I'm going to give my 3-year-old when we're out in public--two doses of that fickle drug which is sugar, that which makes one so happy for fifteen minutes and so crabby for hours.

8. When I have to say to another request for yet another thing to satisfy Clare's deepest lunchtime desires, "You must wait! Have patience. Mommy has not gotten to eat yet. Have you noticed that you are not tipping very well for this kind of non-stop service from the dining room to the kitchen and back again? Do you think I am a goat who enjoys making a goatpath? Even a goat gets to eat!"

7. When Charlie is so interested in the vacuum he spreads around everything I'm trying to vacuum. When the kids steal the dusters and the swiffer and I have no other choice but to sit on the couch and eat bon bons. Wait, that's not very annoying. I just wish they could reach above the windowsills to the cobwebs in each intersection of the room. Doing any kind of productive cleaning with kids around just makes me stressed, so we "play clean" a lot. Although some people would call my productive cleaning kind of 3-year-old-ish. Like somebody tried to make the bed, but just got tired of it.

6. Trying to explain concepts to Clarissa like whining, testing me, making excuses, lying, yelling "I want my mommy" if a grown up wants her to come with them--I stutter and talk in circles as I attempt to explain things I wish she didn't even have to know about.

5. Calling for babysitters. This is getting better, but I constantly feel like I am asking a HUGE favor. Like if *I* had any extra time, these days I would probably rather work at McD's than watch kids, so wow, you must really like kids! So I *try* to pay as good as McD's because my kids are more important than hamburgers. I definitely let the dread of babysitter calls (and the fear of paying babysitters as good as McDonald's--I think they are a multimillion dollar business are they not? How can I compete?) keep me from making an appointment or planning a date that we desperately need to have. But I have some girls I can call more easily now. Lately it's just the more infrequently-called sitters, the ones when my regulars can't do it, where I start to get insecure.

4. Trying to wipe hands and faces while Charlie is still actively reaching for the goopy mess. Or when Clarissa shoves both hands in the washcloth and starts madly wiggling them around, like it's a magical carwash or something. Today I discovered the two-handed numchuck washcloth move, where I wash the table while clamping the washcloth over a mouth, then flip if not too gross and grab both hands at once and yell "Hee yah! I have mastered the art of kung pao kid goop! Bow to your sinsay" but they never bow, they only rip off their bib and say "May I get down now?" This ninja move is similar to the blocking/chopping move I make to keep Charlie from throwing stuff in the toilet while I'm trying to pull my pants up with the other hand. I've developed a kind of running move that allows me to do this one-handed and get Charlie to follow me out of the bathroom, away from the great many temptations that it holds within its tiled walls. As long as I remember to zip before we leave the house.

3. No back up for when I'm sick. Who takes care of the mommy? How do I help people get off the sick train when I've been run over by it? And how do I get off the train when I haven't really let myself be on it? (I have asked Robert, "When do I get to be sick?" He usually literally lies in bed all day when he has a tummy thing or something--what luxury! Give me a tummy thing! I had that daily for 5 months of my pregnancies--I can take it if I can get my meals brought to me! Even if I can't eat them, I can admire them and feel the LOVE.)

2. When both kids are crying and "want up." Now, let's think about this. It makes sense that mommy, especially mommy with a temperamental back, can't pick up both very well, or for very long. So she plops down on the floor and tries to gather both into her lap, one on each leg, share the love kind of mother-hen-gathering-her-chicks-under-her-wings thing. But for some reason, the CHILD PLANE is not acceptable for an upset child. That does not qualify as UP. What if I invested in a couple of "kid perches" and put them up on those? Or strapped them to the wall somehow? Could that be just as satisfying? If not, then it must be SOMETHING about me that they want--but just not while I'm sitting on the floor. Kids are mysterious beings who deserve careful study by others who still have the time to do it.

1. Getting the three of us out the door. The time when kids have such trouble doing things when you want them to, and irrationaly you start talking about "being late." A kid has no concept of "late" because everything revolves around them, and "When I get there, then I am there." Very zen. You might as well start talking about being "tired," because, our kids anyway, are always urged to get as much rest as they possibly can (Vhat ees dees "tired" verd)? Having to find socks in the basement and princess underwear on the 2nd floor and then rounding up the two kids for the sad, cruel, complicated task of getting dressed. Then the gobs of fine blonde hair for both to be tamed, then matching shoes, sippy cup, snacks of equal and equivalent purpose, value, crunchability and nutrition (and eat-ability by Charlie), snack for mommy, waterbottle, perhaps completely dressing the mommy (Oh, forget the shower-- too hit or miss with kid happiness and we'll never get out the door), diaper and wipes if we're lucky, all things piled into mommy's gargantuan, lining-ripped-from-filling it-to-bursting purse she's not supposed to carry on her shoulder but can't carry Charlie, the purse and hold Clarissa's hand across the street. Sometimes it takes two go-arounds if there are milk jars or other trip-pertaining items. By the time we get in the van I am too tired to think, and don't remember what was so important that I considered setting foot outside the house. As Clarissa would say, "Silly me."

Life Turned Upside Down

OK, so I thought I knew what having a boy was like. But each day I find that Charlie lives in a completely different world than me. When I catch a glimpse of Clarissa in a pink garden party hat, with a tulle dance skirt and multi-colored necklaces scooting by pushing her baby in a bassinet, I understand that. I wish I had a camera around my neck for all those moments, because by the time I get it, the hat is off and she is reading on the couch. Reading and dress up I understand.

But when I see Charlie dive headfirst into the tub while it's filling up (and I am otherwise occupied but still in the bathroom--it's just a given that everyone needs you immediately while you're in "the office"), I don't understand that (he wasn't hurt, just scared and sopping wet in his PJs from his head to his chest). When he won't even be held for 5 minutes because he wants to run independently in circles, I don't understand that either. I've heard that kids "get into everything," but Clarissa just didn't. So he scatters buttons around I didn't know were in the sewing desk, pulls nasty garbage out of the kitchen can, pulls clothes that took a week to put away out of Clarissa's dresser, and screams when the stereo blasts Baby Einstein because HE decided (without mommy's knowledge or approval, obviously) it needed to be adjusted while it was off. He wants his coat and shoes on, and brings them to me regularly to go "side." And today, our most recent example of doing things I don't understand, was an acrobatic move that I did not see but heard the "boom and scream." Now a boom is OK, you just listen for a couple seconds to see if there will be a scream. This time there was a scream, so I booked it downstairs (went up to get dressed and check e-mail while the kids were eating--I know, it's TERRIBLE! JUDGE ME NOW!). Hahaha. I used to be a lot more afraid of getting judged as a mom; now I'm mostly working on not judging myself. Anyway, Mr. Crazy had opened his highchair tray and catapulted himself out into space, maybe hitting his head on the nearest chair, definitely upsetting some not-so-delicate internal balance of his. WHAT WAS THE PLAN HERE? If I can just get FREE, if I can just FLY forward, then everything will be...what? So much happier and better! I guess in the magical world of Boyland, daring acts and courageous lack-of-a-plan equal FUN. Anything fast and furious, or at least that leaves mommy furious--now THAT'S a worthwhile activity there.

I think he is (paradox warning) innocently trying to get my goat in brand new ways everyday. After the highchair incident, I was concerned, and properly guilty for not strapping him in, and comforted him, but mostly was thinking, "Who is this creature? Does he come with a two-year warranty? Are we going to make it that far?" I think the Y chromosome stands for mommies saying "WHY did you DO that?" Even afterward, when I transferred him to his sister's booster seat, which is not an antique and has real straps instead of a makeshift belt (thinking, hmmm, he could still push back on the table and fall backward--are we going to have to bolt his seat to the floor?), he proceeded to SPLASH his yogurt/turkey/prunes mixture WILDLY ABOUT (I know, I shouldn't have left again, but was desperate to finish my e-mail I was in the middle of) and quickly propel himself to bath status, which is done by causing anything to be caked in the hair or somehow up the sleeves of PJs or in deep creases of the neck blocked by double chinness. Goopy mess on the table, splatters of his "great idea" all over the floor. And sister just watching and egging him on with her "wild cat" impression each time he did it. Honestly--this boy is giving me a run for my money. Sometimes it's more like, "Go on, take the money and run!" (Except there is no money and nowhere to run--I need to write me a new mommy blues)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Annoying List

For some reason, it has helped me lately to write down each annoying thing I face each day the moment it happens. We had a less than ideal morning, and with the sound of cheerios crunching under my feet and "I want what he's having, Mom!", I raced to my notepad and furiously scribbled down my woes. Cleaning banana that's like glue off the floor and wooden high chair, not being able to sit down to eat my breakfast until I've gotten up 10 times for a washcloth, a spoon, raisins, water. Not being dressed or showered, not getting to exercise this morning, not being able to be sick. My list is already 7 (notebook size) pages, and it's only been 3 days. The list somehow makes me feel understood, or at least listened to. If Tom Hanks can talk to a volleyball, then why can't I talk to a little 4X6 notebook? It just seems to meet me on the fly more than a journal, which is a sit-down, intentional proces.
Clearly I have some organizational issues, and I admit, attitudinal adjustments to be made, but it seems like one decision compounds and train wrecks the rest of my day, and today it was, "Oh, I can't get up yet; I can barely move; this is the only time of the day I can be sick" (while Robert's still here). When I get up, I need to be ON. Or it will be noon and I'll still be in pajamas because my clean shirts are hanging out to dry in the basement because no way do I want to shrink my few clothing choices in the dryer. I like ketchup, but I don't like playing catch up. I'm not sure what I will do with my list, but I have been informally praying as I go (I don't want to make it a formal thing as I write because I find that I need to be able to just let it all out), and I'm sure rereading the whole thing will cause me to do a few things:
1. Start thinking about some of the good things or funny things, and be more motivated to jot them down too as we go along. Scenery is scenery, and I pray to see more of the good things that pass by through the window.
2. Start laughing about my days more--see the reality of things, that this truly is hard, and even someone with nerves of steel would be struggling, much more someone with control problems. Some of it really is ridiculous--I'll make a top 10 list soon, straight from my list.
3. Pick 3 or 4 things that wouldn't be too hard to change, so that I'm not dealing with the same little annoying thing each day when it would be easy to fix. It's crazy to see it the next day like I'm surprised, and fall out of love all over again with stuffing things in my fridge while making balancing act adjustments. Maybe I'll also focus on one big project that would have a prism-like effect on the rest of my day. Robert, if you're reading this, the list is not subject to scrutiny ("You said you were going to clean up the fridge!"). It's in the vault what projects I'm working on.
4. Pray through the items in a more "formal" way, and find ways to praise God, seek His wisdom, pour out my soul within me about this job that is so baffling, so big and so important. And confess my nitpicking attitude--it makes more cold pricklies than happy babies.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ode to Charlie

You came into this world as fast as can be
Two hours, two pushes and then you were free
And 15 months later I’m still sprinting after thee
Oh Charlie, our Charlie, you busy baby

There are times when you squeal just to get me to look
Other times I catch you first because I read you like a book
I try to cater to your needs, but my sanity was took
Oh Charlie, our Charlie, please let me off the hook

You are into the cabinets before I can say lickety splat
For that is what you do when you get a hold of that
It doesn’t matter what container you’re sneaky as a rat
Oh Charlie, our Charlie, if only you just sat

Often you are bouncing for an hour in your bed
You’re tired but you’re curious and that fills up your head
While others count sheep you are counting books instead
Oh Charlie, our Charlie, time for night night Mama said

Now eating is another story, but trust me, it is still very sad
When I give you something new you begin to like what you had
“Dis” and pointing, turning your head, and wanting to stand so bad
Oh Charlie, our Charlie, you are such a silly lad

When you encounter drawers, dishwashers, open doors or an open fridge
You muscle your way in and block my way (only just a smidge)
So I lift you screaming from the milk jar you left teetering on the edge
Oh Charlie, our Charlie, how you love to combine gravity and the gentle nudge

If I happen to leave any kind of remote within your reach
You reprogram the channels then I begin to hear you preach
On the joys of texting every single contact in my phone (free speech)
Oh Charlie, our Charlie, you’re our very own security breach

Your attraction to bathrooms, stairs, purses and boxes I will never understand
They pull you like a magnet and completely draw you in
You like to rearrange them until they are nothing like I planned
Oh Charlie, our Charlie, I guess it’s part of growing into a little man

"Shah" "Buh BAH" "eht" "wah" "un hunh" "ahahah" You express yourself so verbally
How can I get annoyed when you're favorite people are your sister, your daddy and me?
You could just play with toys but there's so much else to see
Oh Charlie, our Charlie, someday I'll miss the busy baby


Trying to get to the library and to take those costumes back. Clarissa had a huge Hallelujah lunch--fruit smoothie, celery, peppers, blackberries, strawberries, big carrot, cherry tomatoes, veggie cheese bagel. And cleaned her plate, and asked for more tomatoes and blackberries.

At least one of them eats!! Charlie sure likes those strawberries. I had to give him some before his nap b/c he saw me get them out.

Remember how I said they "explode" at 15 mos? (with learning, language) He has exploded, all over the house. Has an opinion, and pulls out everything. Need to babyproof some more and rearrange some things, for my sanity and maybe his safety. They were throwing/rolling those glass yogurt containers; he'd gotten all 7 out of the cabinet. And many other things, like putting her toilet seat into the toilet. She flushed the toilet while I was in here with him and I had to sprint to the bathroom b/c I knew it was going to overflow. He also says "uh uh" whether he shakes or nods his head, FYI. So the nodding is what to pay attention to.