Sunday, January 31, 2010

The De-Pacification Of An Almost Three Year Old Part I

When hubby and I only had Princess #1, we did everything by The Book. I mean, that's why The Book exists, right? To aid in the creation of perfect parents. We paid meticulous attention to detail when strapping Princess #1 into her carseat (the highest approved carseat at the time according to The Book, mind you). She did not ingest even the tiniest bit of "real" food prior to the age of 6 months. Naptimes were strictly adhered to, as was bedtime. We very carefully waited The Book approved 4 weeks to introduce a bottle, in order to ensure no nipple confusion occurred. And we waited the same amount of time to introduce The Paci.

We were reluctant to at all. We had seen those children, you've seen them too. The ones old enough to be in preschool, walking alongside their parents, carrying on a conversation in complete sentences behind a pacifier. We cringed in disbelief and judgment, you know, us being the perfect parents doing everything by The Book and all. How anyone could allow their near school aged child to walk around with such a prominent piece of babyhood was beyond us. A child clearly old enough to reason and be reasoned with, to calm without a piece of silicone stuffed in their mouth. We vowed that OUR children would never commit such a social faux pas.

Oh and how perfect we were. Princess #1 showed only a mild interest in The Paci, taking it from time to time but never developing a strong attachment to it. By the age of 8 months old, we lost the only paci we had, and we never purchased another. She didn't skip a beat. We congratulated ourselves on a successful run with The Paci. We were sure that WE should be writing the next edition of The Book.

Our successful streak with The Paci continued with Princess #2. A colicky and high-maintenance baby, she much preferred the boob to any paci and exercised that preference often. The Paci was used some in the first four weeks, to transition her from the boob to her cradle and allowed a sleep deprived Your Majesty a few precious hours of sleep. But eventually the charm wore off and The Paci failed to deliver any sleep at all, and was cast aside as we frantically tried EVERYTHING to get Princess #2 to sleep. We had to let go a little of our perfect parent quest, as we discovered that not even everything in The Book applies to all babies, and certainly not to Princess #2.

Along then came Princess #3. My, how things are different once you have 3 children. Hubby and I were no longer playing man to man. We were clearly on zone defense. And it showed. Fortunately, the difficulty we had in parenting Princess #2 had prepared us for the transition and hubby and I learned to rely more on our instincts and less on The Book. Seasoned parents four and a half years at that point, The Book had pretty much long been forgotten, gathering dust on a virtual shelf somewhere.

Enter The Paci. Oh how The Paci took on a life of it's own for Princess #3. More accustomed to having to wait than her sisters, Princess #3 grew attached to her paci, the one thing that could offer her comfort until Your Majesty to get to her. It wasn't an unnatural attachment, but one that Your Majesty just couldn't resist. The sight of Princess #3 lying asleep in her crib, one hand on her ear and sucking away proved almost too sweet for this mama to bear. Hubby and I knew we were creating a heck of a problem we'd have to face eventually, but we really didn't care. Princess #3 was such a good natured baby and an even sweeter toddler. And since we were no longer concerned with The Book and being perfect parents, we decided to not rock the boat. We told ourselves we would deal with it later.

Well my friends, later has arrived.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Morning After

It snowed for 12 hours straight.


Good thing we had s'mores.

Poor Elmo. Didn't stand a chance.


I think Old Man Winter might deserve another point. Or two.



Friday, January 29, 2010

Old Man Winter = 1 The Planet Pink = 0

I was about to call the weatherman's bluff.

He showed me.


Your Majesty declared it a PJ day and we all stayed inside by the nice, warm fire.


Poor Elmo. Didn't get the memo.


I may or may not have sent hubby out in this weather to pick up cheese for my broccoli cheddar soup simmering away in the crockpot.


What's broccoli cheddar soup without the cheese afterall? Priorities people.


S'mores for dessert? I think yes.

I'm Feeling Fickle

Pardon me while I mess around with my blog. I get bored very, very easily. And I'm non-commital. And I'm OK with that. But that means I can't keep my blog background the same for years, just like I can't keep the same comforter on my bed, or the same dishes, or heck, even live in the same state for very long (Hubby's just lucky he doesn't bore me. HA! Just kidding babe!). I'd LOVE to have a custom one made someday, but I have neither the skills nor the funds to create or purchase one. Fortunately, there are several freebies on the web that are halfways decent.

So let me know what you think. I'm pretty bipolar when it comes to design. Or actually, I guess I should say MULTI-polar, because I love a little of everything. I love vintage, I love modern, I love stream-lined and simple, I love cutesy, I love classic. Unfortunately, those design elements don't all love each other. So deciding on one is tough for me. Yes, I know, horrible problem to be dealing with today, my life is so hard!

Oh and if you know of any good freebie websites to peruse, let me know! I'm in the mood for change.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's the End of the World As We Know It

You'd think the apocalypse was upon us. Freezing rain, ice, snow. Bearing down on us with looming ferocity. It's been dubbed THE STORM of 2010. Pretty impressive considering we're only 4 weeks into the year.

Normally I'm skeptical. Our weathermen (and woman) are notorious for declaring gloom and doom. And we're not exactly planners. Shoot, we didn't even fill up our bathtub or stock canned goods for Y2K. But the first winter we lived here we had THE STORM. Lost power for four days. Slept on an air mattress by the fireplace. All 5 of us. Plus the dog. On a queen sized air mattress. For FOUR long nights. It was pitch black in the house by 5pm. Romantic for a couple. Pure hell for a couple with 3 small children. I'm in no way eager to repeat that.

So this time I'm a bit more prepared. I didn't run out and buy a generator (might be regretting that one later), but I did stock up on flashlights and batteries, rock salt for the driveway and of course, the fixin's for s'mores (hey we're gonna have to eat something for dinner if we lose power!).

We'll see how it goes. Right now we're about an hour away from THE STORM. If I don't update for several days, you'll know why. I'm huddled in blankets eating my s'mores.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How Did We Do It Before?

Just this morning, I connected two of my friends that I know from different times in my life together on Facebook. I had recognized a common thread between them and wanted to give them an opportunity to meet each other and offer unique support that only a mother who's "been there" can do.

And then I thought, how did we ever do it before? Before the internet, before the social networks, the message boards, the blogs. How did mamas make it? Caught in a Leave It To Beaver world where the illusion of perfection was the norm. Where mamas just held their own pain, their own worries inside, not daring to voice them in the fear that they may be the Only One. Just this week I spoke with my sister in law on the phone, and confirmed that the things she was experiencing with her 18 month old daughter were not only normal, but expected. And the relief I heard in her voice almost made me sad. How long had she been enduring sleepless nights, temper tantrums, isolation, believing that she was the only one, that she was alone?

We mamas NEED each other. I'm not sure I could make it through a day without my network of mamas who encourage me, give advice, offer sympathy and tell me when I'm being ridiculous. I NEED to know that I'm not a horrible mother if I raise my voice. I NEED to know that I'm not the only one who has a child that still needs to be reminded to use the bathroom at age 5. I NEED to know that we're not the only family that's struggling to put food on the table and meet all our financial obligations. I NEED to know.

This isn't June Cleaver's world anymore. We mamas don't have to hide behind a perfect facade. In fact, that does more harm than good. A quick glance through Facebook shows me at least 5 other mama friends who are scratching their heads over what to make for dinner. 3 who have bones to pick with their hubby's. Another 4 who are rejoicing over 5 straight hours of sleep. We are so much alike in many ways. Although separated by miles and miles, we share the same worries, the same heartache, the same fears, the same joy, the same love. And I am grateful that we have the vehicles to share those burdens and triumphs and that it's no longer taboo to do so.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lessons Learned At A 5 Year Old's Birthday Party

1. Two hours is way too long for a birthday party. Way, way too long.


2. There are parents that will actually drop off their 4-5 year old with a stranger for 2 hours without batting an eye.

3. Twins ARE double trouble.

4. You can never have too much glitter.

5. Four and five year olds do not care how many hours you spent searching for the perfect decorations or how many different times you re-decorated the cake.

6. 15 year old mother's helpers are lifesavers. Don't throw a party without one.

7. The look on your princess' face makes it all worth it in the end.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pavlov's Dog

I think the term "potty training" is a misnomer. It should be called "parent training". Only 3 hours into the day, and every 15 minutes at the sound of a timer, I immediately run to princess #3, snatch her up and deposit her on the potty. Only to sit through a couple renditions of the ABC's and counting to 10. We have yet to successfully use the potty for anything other than a platform for preschool recitation. And yet, when that timer dings, off I run.

Pavlov would be proud.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Letter

I must thank you (albeit grudgingly) Mr. McDonald,

for your starchy, artery clogging french fries, your greasy and slightly questionable chicken nuggets, your cheap plastic toys that I will inevitably step on at some point.

You make my children think I'm the best mom in the world.

I'll take it however I can get it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Good Thing I'm Cutting Myself Slack

Motivation, wherefore art thou?

Wow, I have completely hit a brick wall. I have no motivation to do anything. I think planning Princess #2's birthday party (which is in JANUARY, not FEBRUARY - grrr!) has sucked up the last of my brain cells. I spent all weekend running all over God's green (or brown as it may be) earth looking for stuff for the party. Tulle. Tiaras. Glitter. Feathers. Cake stuff (WHY did I decide to go all Ace of Cakes and make it myself?).

I am princess party'd out.

Maybe when this party is over on Saturday I'll be able to breathe again. And, um, do something. Laundry. Dishes. Vacuum. Something.

My parents were in town over the weekend so I took a little two day break from doing laundry (and no one else bothered to pick up the slack...). Two days. Doesn't seem like much right? That was all it took. Why do we wear so many dang clothes?

So if you see me swirling around in my own little whirlpool of responsibilities, throw me a life line.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Brilliant

I swear sometimes I wonder where my brain is. Every last brain cell has apparently been sucked up into the abyss of diapers, homework and laundry. Is it any wonder I can remember my own name?

But I'm really annoyed with myself this time.

Princess #2 turned 5 on Christmas Day. I know, brilliant day to have a baby. Actually, it's really all sorts of wonderful, EXCEPT when it comes to having a birthday party. I just don't have my act together to get it done. This year, I promised myself she would have an actual "friend" party, even if it meant waiting until January to do it.

So here we are. I've been planning. Thinking. Painstakingly going over details. We set a date of January 23rd. Printed invitations. Actually got them in the mail on time (shocker!). We have a venue reserved. Party favors chosen. Cake ordered.

And then...

I get an email from one of her little friends' mothers late last night, just a week before the party. She had reserved the venue for me.

"um... Did I get the date wrong, or did you ... the invitation says February??"

CRAP.

Guess who's making a ton of phone calls today? (sigh)

Friday, January 15, 2010

That's Church

I know that Haiti and it's people are heavy on everyone's hearts this week. Such devastation is hardly fathomable, for those of us fortunate enough to be sitting in our warm homes, surrounded by comforts that are not even close to being necessary for life. And yet, not only is such devastation a living nightmare for so many on this day, it is a horror that will forever impact a nation and people for decades to come.

I cannot watch the news coverage. I hear bits and pieces of stories through friends or links on Facebook, but that's as far as I can get. My mommy heart is just too fragile, too sensitive to allow myself to read about fellow mommy's, their babies... I just can't go there.

I did run across a story that I do want to share though. Or rather, I'll let those living it share it with you. Please visit That's Church. This blog is devoted to two American women who currently live in Haiti and run an orphanage. They are desperately trying to get 150 children in their care out of Haiti and back to America. They have been granted permission to do so and are currently searching for a plane. They need food. They need clothes. They need a miracle. Please go to their blog. Read their story. And pray. Pray, pray, pray. 150 children is such a small number in the large, horrific picture that's been painted this week. But it's HUGE to those 150 children. It's LIFE.

I know I have little to offer. But I have a God who hears the cries of His people. And He is more than enough.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Word

I'm borrowing this new year's idea from my friend at The Elmo Wallpaper. She assigned herself a word for the year - something to aspire to, reach for, achieve.

I decided to do the same.

My word: SLACK

As in, cutting myself some.

I don't mean to sound flip, although at first glance it might appear so. But really, I've got to learn to give myself a break now and then. I realized one day fresh into the new year, as I was silently scolding myself for getting Princess #1 to her soccer game 15 minutes late, that I have four kids, for crying out loud! Who DOESN'T expect us to roll up a few minutes late now and then?

Why do I beat myself up over a late arrival? At least we made it. An unmade bed? Hey, at least there's a bed to sleep in. Dishes in the sink? Well, that dinner was good wasn't it?

I think I just realized in that moment that all this time I've been holding myself to the same standards I had when I was just newly married, with no children and all the time in the world to get to places on time (even early!), plan exotic meals, make the bed, dust the furniture, and a thousand other little things that have gotten caught up in the vortex that is now my life and are off spinning somewhere so far away that they aren't going to be in reach anytime soon.

I'VE GOT TO LET IT GO.

I have a new normal now. One that involves 4 little ones who demand all of my time plus some. And they deserve it. And I need to stop fretting about the other little things in my life that aren't going to love me back, no matter how many times the bed gets made, or the furniture gets dusted or we get there on time. Inanimate objects aren't really known for expressing affection and I've got 8 little arms that just love to give hugs and cuddle and they especially love it when their mama allows herself to stop for a moment and just savor it. But I know I won't be able to do that, unless I allow myself some SLACK.

So that's my word. And I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Close Call

What do you get when you take 2 snow days, 4 kids at home plus the one you're babysitting, outside temperatures in the single digits and no internet access due to a miswiring situation up in the attic?

One. Crazed. Mom.

Good news is, school is back in session tomorrow, the temperature is rising and as you can see the unfortunately timed internet malfunction is fixed and under control.

Whew.

For a minute there I thought it might be time to call the guys in the white coats to come get me.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I Am Not A Soccer Mom

There. I said it.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a soccer mom. In fact, I wanted to be one myself. At least, I think I did. But the reality is, I am not.

Growing up, I was an only child for 12.5 years until my baby brother came on the scene in a surprising whirlwind. My parents (dad a college professor and mom a stay at home mom) were not exactly "sports people". My dad watched college football and enjoyed going to basketball games, oh and I remember going to watch him play in the church softball league. But I wouldn't exactly describe him as athletic, just one who enjoyed sports from time to time. I'd say my mom fell into the "tolerated it" category. So, needless to say, my exposure to sports and playing them as a child was limited to a summer of gymnastics lessons taught at a local gym every Saturday morning for 5 bucks a pop.

I was more rounded in other areas. I began piano lessons in Kindergarten and continued through college. I took acting classes at a community college and voice lessons from a local college student. I thrived on stage and loved being in the spotlight. Unless, of course, that spotlight fell on a gym floor. Give me a ball and I became completely inept and clueless. I loathed gym class and was relieved to learn that the gym requirement to graduate high school was a mere semester. I hated volleyball nights with the youth group at church. I sat on the sidelines and lamely cheered on whichever boy I had a crush on, while I watched him high five and give sweaty hugs to the girls that were brave and athletic enough to actually play. How jealous I was of them! I learned real quick that while boys said they wanted the cutesy girl with earrings and poufy hair (hey, it was the 90's!) and short skirts, the girls that actually got the attention were the ones that weren't afraid to throw their hair in a ponytail, get on the gym floor and talk a little smack.

So, before I ever became a mother, I promised myself that if I ever had a little princess, I was going to make it a priority to at least expose her to playing sports. Not necessarily because I wanted her to have an edge with the boys (and now that I have four princesses I can assure you that I'm even further from that desire than I ever was before!), or because I was secretly hoping to one day magically groom the Next Big Thing. But more because I didn't want her to feel completely and utterly self conscious about herself when it came to sports. I just wanted to assure that she'd be OK. Just OK at playing sports, being on a team, having a ball whiz by her head.

With that in mind, we registered Princess #1 for soccer last spring. It went about as I expected. A clump of girls, gathered around a ball, running back and forth between goals with a few haphazard and probably accidental points scored from time to time. She had a blast. She made new friends, got to see them at practice and the games, got to jump and run around outside, oh and maybe learned a few (emphasis on FEW) things about soccer.

A year has passed since then and it's quite clear that it was right to not have HUGE expectations about Princess #1's career in soccer. We've just spent the past couple months with her playing on an indoor league, and after bringing in a demoralizing 2-8 season, I'm glad to say it's over. I just don't quite get the culture I guess. Yesterday, I sat next to a family from the opposing team. With voices so throaty it could only mean that they either A) go to so many games and coach from the sidelines at every one, B) smoke several packs of Marlboro a day, or C) both - they yelled and screamed at their daughter on the field. In between their exclamations they discussed their son's eligibility to play football, what position he should play, whether or not he would be allowed to move up an age bracket, etc. etc. etc. He was five.

It just seemed a world away to me. We put Princess #1 in soccer so she could have an experience, whatever it happened to be. We had no expectations other than she have fun. Would I feel differently if she turned out to be a whiz kid at soccer? Would I be there, hoarse myself from yelling at her to go after the ball? Did she turn out to not have soccer chops, simply because we were more laid back about it? I guess I'll never know. And I'm ok with that. Really. We did what I promised myself we'd do. We exposed Princess #1 to a sport. Hopefully when the kids on the playground decide they want to play soccer, or kickball, she'll feel confident enough to get out there with them. That's all I want. There is a place in this world for those soccer moms, like the one that sat next to me yesterday. Without them, we'd never have the Next Big Thing. And I'm happy to let someone else be that mom.
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