Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lesson #12: Sometimes Daddy Really Does Know Best

Lesson #12: Sometimes Daddy Really Does Know Best

My kid has an internal clock like no other, and it's set to "butt crack of dawn". It doesn't matter if he goes to bed at 7:30 or 9:30, he will wake up early. One night he was still up at 11:00 (that was a barrel of laughs) and he still got up with the sun.

I put an alarm clock in his room with the number 7 taped above the first digit. The deal is that he's supposed to wait until the first number on the clock is a 7 before he wakes up mommy and daddy. This works slightly more than half the time. We know he's up because we hear a door slam, then little feet scampering across the hall, then our door slams. I have to give him credit though, he won't technically wake us up, he'll just play cars on our heads for awhile, then grab my cell phone and exclaim, "Mama look! It's a 7!!!!" Then I look and it says 6:07 or something. One morning he gave us a nice little drumming concert at 6am. Who wouldn't want to wake up to the soothing sounds of a 3 year old banging away on an empty popcorn tin while shouting "Drum drum drum" at the top of his lungs?

So when I called my husband at 8:45 yesterday morning and he told me that both boys were still sleeping, my first reaction was to ask, "Are they ok? Have you checked on them?" I was even more shocked when I later found out that he had to actually wake them up at 9:00 to get them ready to go.

This morning, it wasn't drumming that woke me up at 5:28am (to be exact), but a seriously rad thunderstorm. I thought for sure big man would come pounding across the hallway at any moment, having been awakened by the storm. Much to my delight, I was the only member of the household that mother nature woke up today.     When I re-awoke to the sounds of the baby working his way from an "I'm getting annoyed" fuss to a full on "GET YOUR A$$ OUT OF BED" scream, I was amazed to see 7:34 on the clock. I was even more freaked out when hubby and I took the baby downstairs and big man was still snoozing away in his room.

This little taste of freedom has got me thinking. Once is a fluke, but twice might mean we're onto something. I mentioned this to hubby and that's when the other shoe dropped. "I have to admit... I set the time on his alarm clock an hour behind after the power went out the other day. Maybe he was just waiting for the 7," he said.

At first I was peeved at him for taking advantage of our kid's lack of time telling skills and using it for his own selfish gain, but I have to admit the extra hour of snooze time sure was nice. Maybe we can file it under self preservation and call it good.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lesson #11:Something Always Stinks

Lesson #11: Something Always Stinks

Dirty diapers, soiled bed linens, vomity clothes. It seems like every time I turn around another gross smell is assaulting my senses. I remember one night, while sitting in the living room catching up on world events (translation: reading US Weekly), I kept getting a whiff of some kind of nasty. I couldn't figure out what it was, and I think I finally blamed hubby's feet before realizing that, um, it was me. More specifically, the zip up sweatshirt I always throw on when hanging around the house. I'm a pretty visual person so it wasn't until I looked down and saw the whitish smear all down the arm of said garment that I remembered having experienced the Baby Blast (see Lesson #5) earlier in the night. The offending odor was not hubby's feet but rather the crusty baby vomit that I was wearing as an accessory. Awesome.

A few nights ago I went upstairs to put the baby to bed and was greeted with the overwhelming stank of urine. Don't you just love when you forget about a peed-on bed until you go to put the child back in that bed? That's always a fun time. Well, not as much as actually getting peed ON, which also happened to me this week... Only when I encountered the smell did I recall hubby telling me in vivid detail how completely soaked through the little nugget was when he woke up. We'd even had a whole conversation around switching to the next size diaper and possibly trying a different brand. I blame Mommy Brain for completely forgetting about the whole thing.

Anyway, the other night we had another kind of smell on our hands (literally-you'll see!). I caught a whiff of butt stink so I took the little dude to the changing table. I opened his diaper and, sure enough, it was choc full- one of those really disgusting all-the-way-to-the-front poos. Which I accidentally stuck my fingers in. Gotta love that! Three fingers right in the butt muck. I opened the wipe bin chanting "Ew, ew, ew, EW!" only to find just one wipe left. I quickly wiped off my fingers and started opening another package of wipes. In the meantime, baby boy thought we were having a grand old time and started kicking his feet like crazy, getting crapola all over his feet. Which he then smeared all. over. the. place. Fabulous. Needless to say, that night homeboy got his first bath in the big tub. I wasn't taking any chances with that much poo all over the place.

Right now we're playing the oh so fun game of Something In My Kitchen Stinks And I Can't Figure Out What. I was convinced it was the trash can but we've cleaned and sanitized it and I still smell something gross every time I come downstairs. I wondered if we'd lost a bottle somewhere and the formula was forming some crazy mutant mold, but we aren't missing any bottles. Then I thought maybe my oldest, who has a really bad habit of leaving dishes everywhere, had lost or spilled a cup of milk somewhere but I came up empty on that one too. Now I'm left to imagine all sorts of horrible things. Like what if a squirrel or a mouse or some other vermin somehow got into our house and found its way into the wall or under our cupboards and died and I'm actually smelling rotting carcass? Or what if a piece of food got knocked under our stove or behind the dryer and is turning into a putrefied mass with maggots growing on it? *shudder*  Hubby, who I'm convinced was born without a sense of smell at all, keeps sniffing the air and saying, "I don't smell anything" and looking at me like I might have a screw loose. Be that as it may, there is something making my kitchen smell like a garbage truck and I WILL find it!

Being a parent's a smelly job but someone's gotta do it. And if that someone is me, then I think I deserve to spend copious amounts of money at Yankee Candle to aid in my defunkifying efforts, don't you?      

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lesson #10: The Car Is My Prison

Lesson #10: The Car Is My Prison

I love talking with my 3 year old. He's a pretty funny kid and he often makes us laugh. The other weekend when he saw ants on my parents' deck he exclaimed, "Look, ANTS!" and when my mom told him that ants need a place to live too, he replied, "Yep. Ants gotta live on someone's leg." Last month when he was caught red handed getting into the bag of chocolate chips he explained, "Daddy I'm getting some chocolate chips for the chocolate chip party tonight!" He's sweet and smart and engaging and fun to listen to... unless you are enclosed in a vehicle with no escape.

I can't fault him for being a Chatty Cathy; he certainly comes rightly by it. But OH. MY. GOSH. Strap him into a car seat and he instantly develops a severe case of diarrhea of the mouth. There is literally no break in the conversation. I don't even bother turning on the radio anymore because he'll say, "Mommy, shut off the radio, I need to talk to you!" I feel guilty if I don't because, really, how can I choose some crappy top 40 over my kid? What follows isn't even so much a conversation as it is an endless stream of questions. He'll exclaim, "Look, a fire engine!" and immediately follow that up with, "Was that a fire engine?" To which I always reply, "Was it?" and he'll answer, "Yes!"

 He also thinks I have mind reading super powers because he always asks me where other cars are going and why they're going there. Um... I DON'T KNOW!!! Sometimes I like to make up fun answers just to see what he'll say. Like, he'll ask, "Where's that car going Mama?" and I'll answer, "To outer space!" in a really excited voice, just to see what he says. He usually calls my bluff and says, in a very serious tone, "No they're not, they're just going down the road." Oh, ok.

Oh, and I just love when he points to something and asks, "What's that?" and I realize that I have NO CLUE what the heck the thing is. That always makes me feel really smart.

But the worst is the endless circle of why questions. My husband can sit there and answer why questions all day long and not get the least bit irritated. Of course, he gives long drawn out scientific answers that the kid has no hope of understanding, which tends to put a damper on continuing to ask why.

Here's an excerpt from a recent car conversation. First, let me set the scene: We are cruising along at a 60 mile an hour clip when he discovers that he can put his window down. I'm a windows down kinda gal so this doesn't bother me at all. Until I look in the mirror and see that he's using a brown Timbits bag as a "flag" that he's waving OUT the window. The bag is dangling precariously from his fingertips and is being whipped violently by the wind, sure to blow free of his grasp at any given second.
Me: Oh no buddy, you can't put the bag out the window!
Him: Why?
Me: Because it might blow away.
Him: Why?
Me: Because the wind would blow it away. We can't throw bags out the window.
Him: Why?
Me: That's called littering. It's not good to litter.
Him: Why?
Me: Because it's against the law and it makes the earth dirty.
Him: Why did you roll my window up?
Me: Because you were putting stuff out it.
Him: Why can't I roll it back down?
Me: Because I locked it.
Him: Why?
Me: Please stop asking why every time I answer.
Him: Why, why, why, why, WHY!!!!!!
By the end of the 45 minute trip to my parents' I was ready to drive the car off a cliff.

The thought of spending 15 hours in the car with him when we go visit my mother in law this September makes head hurt. A lot. I think maybe I'll try and beat him at his own game. We'll pull out of the driveway and I'll ask, "Where are we going?" and when he tells me we're going to Grandma's, I'll ask, "Why?". When we're 4 hours in and he tells me he's hungry I'll just say, "Why?"

Seriously though, I think we should foster his inquisitive nature, to answer his questions and ask him some questions too. To really teach him what this world is all about. So, as we set off on our long LONG journey, and he starts with they why questions, I'll do what any good mom would do. Plug in my iPod and let hubby do the heavy lifting.    

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lesson #9: The Poop Will Find You

Lesson #9: The Poop Will Find You

I have often bemoaned the fact that 90% of my life seems to be spent dealing with little people's poo. Pooey undies, pooey diapers, pooey Pull Ups, it never ends. I swear, they hatch elaborate pooping strategies to make it so that every half hour I'm knuckle deep in butt yuck.

Little did I know, the poo was about sneak attack me.

Let me give you a little background so you can make some sort of sense of the story I'm about to regale you with. Yesterday my husband brought my 3 year old upstairs to put him down for his nap, then sneak in some shut eye himself. I wasn't shocked when about 10 minutes later they traipsed back downstairs to-you guessed it!-change a poo. They went back upstairs where hubby proceeded to nap and child proceeded to play dump Legos all over stinkin' place then creep downstairs because-you guessed it again!-he had yet another poo in his pants. And guess what? When the baby woke up, he had pooey pants too.

Fast forward to last evening. After having an "incident" with the high chair tray which resulted in some bruiseage between my eyes and a major headache (don't ask), I called it a night and headed to bed. I was walking around the bed in semi-darkness straightening out the sheet and comforter when suddenly I stepped on something sorta hard and sorta sticky. My first thought was that I had stepped on a bug or spider, but then I thought it didn't feel squishy and wet enough for that. I paused momentarily and, rubbing my toes together to dislodge the offending item, pondered what I could possibly be stepping on that would be the unique consistency of hardsquishy.

You know where this is going don'tcha?

A terrible thought entered my mind and, fearing the worst, I snapped on the lamp and looked down. As I peered in disbelief at the brown marble sized round lump on the floor I tried really really hard to think of something else it might be. I muttered a few choice words as I hobbled back over to my side of the bed and grabbed a tissue, careful not to let my hardsquish'd toes hit the floor. Very slowly, I bent over and retrieved the lump with the tissue.

Have you ever heard the saying "If it looks like poo and it smells like poo, it's poo"? Yeah, well. I hobbled down the stairs and hobble-ran into the living room, shrieking at hubby, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS? DO YOU KNOW WHAT I JUST STEPPED ON?!" Before he could answer I shouted, "IT'S POOP!" (Ok, I didn't say poop, I used a 4 letter word.) Then I ran into the bathroom, flushed the renegade poo and immediately began washing and Purell-ing my foot.

At some point during this spectacle hubby started laughing his butt off, so I scolded him, saying that "When the kid says he pooped, you have to change him RIGHT AWAY or that sh!t will escape!" which made hubby laugh even harder. Sure, easy to laugh when it's not your foot with a poop marble stuck to it. That's when he told me he'd changed the baby's pooey diaper ON THE BED, so it could have rolled out of the diaper when he was wrapping it up. I told him if I rolled over onto a crap log in the middle of the night I was NOT going to be happy.

He asked me if I was gonna blog about it and at first I didn't think I would because you all would think we were disgusting gross poopy people. But ya know what? I'm willing to bet you've been there or somewhere near there a time or two. And if you haven't, you will be. 'Cause the poop WILL find you.

(Photo courtesy of a Pedia Lax ad on the back cover of Family Fun Magazine's June/July 2011 edition.)


Monday, June 13, 2011

Lesson #8: The Second Child

Lesson #8: No matter what you think before you have more than one child, you WILL treat your second differently than you did your first.

Before I became mom to multiple children, when I heard people say, "You won't care about [insert item here] with your next one," I would mentally gasp and think, all indignantly, "I cannot believe they said that! I will ALWAYS care JUST as much about EVERY DETAIL with my second as I do with my first."

Fast forward a few years to the present. Yeah, I totally get it now. It's not that you care less about the second child, it's just that you're so friggin' tired you can't summon the energy to care that he's wearing the Friday bib on Monday or that he's out in public with puke on his outfit. Hey, he's fed, clothed and well loved, what more do you want from me? (Those of you with only one kid are mentally gasping and thinking how you'll NEVER say this when you have another one. I am mentally laughing at you.)

The second child syndrome started with my little one the very day he (finally!) came home from the hospital. As I've said in previous posts, my babies were both born prematurely. This meant extended hospital stays for both of them. When my oldest came home after 56 days in the NICU, there was great fanfare. My family was here anxiously awaiting his arrival, decorations were hung, there was a welcome home poster, he was wearing a special outfit; it was a party! Little dude came home in a pair of monkey jammies about 2 sizes too big for him that I put on him because they were clean. It wasn't that I didn't want to have a big to do, it was mostly because I found out he was coming home, after 36 days "on the inside", as I drove to the hospital that morning. I called to let them know I'd be there for his feeding and they oh-so-nonchalantly let me know that he'd be going home as soon as they could find someone to do the snip-snip. I hadn't had time to get to the store and pick out a special outfit (yeah I know he was there 36 days but I was busy!) so I picked out the cutest jammies that were clean and called it good.

I would never dream of letting my older boy scoot off his floor mat onto-GASP!-the bare floor! I always sterilized big brother's bottles instead of just sticking them-GASP!-in the dishwasher. The first child's clothes were washed in Dreft until he was a year and a half. And always real Dreft, not store brand "Baby Detergent". A value brand diaper never touched his butt, and I would have died before I gave him-DOUBLE GASP!-store brand formula. 

Yeah, well. A little dog hair never killed anyone, the dishwasher gets hot enough to melt plastic, and that other crap is all really expensive when you've got another mouth to feed and your child care suddenly costs more than your mortgage.

All I can say is thank God I don't have a third child. He'd probably be hitchhiking home from the hospital, his little baby thumb sticking out on the side of the interstate, trying to bum a ride. He'd be guzzling milk straight from the carton and have diapers made out of maxi pads and duct tape. But I would craft those maxi diapers with so much love. After all, it's not about the "stuff"- it's about the little people who wear it.  

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lesson # 7: Video Camera = Monster Child

Lesson #7: Your kid will act like a total psycho when there is a recording device aimed at him. Especially if wielded by a local newscaster. And no amount of preparation before the event will change that outcome. Trust me.

Both of my babies were born way before they were fully "cooked" and because of that we have become advocates for prematurity awareness and education, and are big supporters of the March of Dimes. Because of THAT, we have done televised interviews with local media on five separate occasions. The first three times were at our home so the camera dude could just shoot all kinds of footage of my oldest acting like a total weirdo and then it could be edited to show the cuteness that lies beneath those horns he seems to sprout whenever there is a lens anywhere near him. The fourth time was at our local March for Babies event and he refused to show his face, but did give them some decent footage of him running all around and playing with his Mimi (this is good because it showcases how "normal" he's turned out despite being born at 29 weeks).

Last Saturday we were interviewed again during the local Children's Miracle Network telethon. Hubby was working so mom came along to help me wrangle the chillins during the segment. In her infinite wisdom, mom declined to wear a microphone so all the cajoling she had to do with my 3 1/2 year old during the 3 minute spot wasn't broadcast over the airwaves. (I told you she was wise.)

Let me preface this next part by telling you that my older boy LOVES his baby brother to pieces, drool and all. He is always trying to make the baby smile, and when he thinks I'm not listening he'll have whole conversations with the little dude. He shares toys, reads stories and showers "his" baby with kisses on a regular basis. Get the picture?

I'm still not sure exactly what the kid was trying to do (and I forgot to DVR it so I can't even watch it to try and figure it out), but he kept sort of hissing at his baby brother. I think he was actually trying to spit on him but knew he probably wouldn't get away with it in light of all the grown ups looking at him. I was really trying to concentrate on the questions I was being asked but it's totally distracting when there is a little person trying to spit on you and all you can think about is how everyone is going think your kid is a horrible little spit monster and how you must be such a bad parent because what kind of kid goes around spitting on babies? Mom must have whispered something really good to him (hmmm... lesson #6 anyone?) because just as I was beginning to get a little flabbergasted, he reached over, wrapped his arms around my head, and smiled up at me. I like to think it was because he just couldn't contain his love and adoration for dear old mom, but I'm pretty sure it was more about asserting himself as the center of attention.

Oh well, he comes rightly by it. Autographs, anyone?  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lesson #6: Ya Do What Ya Gotta Do (also known as Bribery)

It's a dirty little word but we all do it sometimes: Bribery. You know why we do it? Because it WORKS. Granted, it ain't gonna solve yer problems long term, but when your back's against the wall-ya do what ya gotta do. (Of course, before I had kids this was one of those XYZ's that I was never going to do-see Lesson #1.)

If you don't have children, a candy jar is probably not part of your bathroom decor. Maybe if you do have kids it isn't either and we're just freaks, who knows. In any event, last fall my mother waltzed in and presented said candy jar and some really badass stickers to my 3 year old in an attempt to prevent him from shipping off to college still wearing a Pull Up. Everything I learned in the course of earning my fancy degree in Early Childhood Education told me that extrinsic motivation was probably not the way to go, but with a new baby at home whose bodily functions I was also in charge of, I thought "Why not?". (Well, actually I thought "MOTHER WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!!!!" but the deed was done so my next thought was "Why argue".)

The pottying got easier, though I'm not sure it was so much the candy and stickers as it was his readiness to stop doing the do in his pants. After awhile he didn't care about the stickers and we only gave them to him if he asked. Then we were able to ween back and offer the M & M's only when he did numero dos. I patted myself on the back as I channeled BF Skinner (or was it Pavlov? I wasn't paying THAT much attention in college) and thought of how effectively we were reinforcing the desired behavior. Before we knew it, he'd be going on the potty all the time and we could keep the food in the kitchen where it belonged!

A few weeks ago the M & M well started running dry so we told him that when the M&Ms were gone, he would just get stickers for pooping on the potty. He seemed cool with it so I didn't give it another thought. He was doing so well, even wearing underwear during naps (at child care-I ain't going there, no way baby!), and I dared to hope that we were finally reaching that light at the end of the potty training tunnel.

As it turns out, that light was attached to a freight train headed right at us. Oy. The last couple of weeks the kid has been pooping in his underwear like it's the Tour de France and he's Lance Freakin' Armstrong. After being up to my elbows in crappy toilet water FOUR TIMES the other day (no I don't know why he was pooping so much, probably just to make my hair turn gray prematurely) I was desperate. I found myself saying, "If you go poop on the potty I bet I could find some chocolate!" He stopped whining and his eyes immediately lit up as he said (in a straaaange voice), "Chocoate chips?!!!"

And you know what?  It worked.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lesson #5: You WILL Be Late

Why I am just learning this lesson now is beyond me. Maybe it took having 2 kids to throw me off my game. You see, I HATE being late. Well, not as much as I hate it when other people are late, but still. I am one of those neurotic people who is so paranoid about being late that I end up being ridiculously early. Therefore, this lesson was a hard pill to swallow. You can just imagine what being chronically late does for my neurosis about being late. It's a vicious cycle.

Now that I'm resigned to the fact that I will never again be on time, EVER, I started thinking about why I can never seem to get from point A to point B in a timely manner. I have come to the conclusion that while there are many events that cause my late-ness, there is usually only one reason: children. And, unfortunately for me, these events caused by my children typically involve bodily functions.

Take the other weekend for example. I was totally psyched that we were actually leaving the house on time! Woohoo! We might actually end up where we are supposed to be at the time we are supposed to be there! YES! Everyone fed, clothed, and groomed? Check. Seventy trillion bags packed? Check. Everyone in the car? Check. That's when my 3 year old dropped the bomb on me (literally and figuratively): "Mommy, I pooped again." That one set us back a good 20 minutes.

This morning as we were about to exit the humble abode we experienced what I like to refer to as the "Baby Blast". You know, when you're all ready to go and the baby erupts like Mount St. Frickin Helens, drowning you both in puke-ola. This can set you back anywhere from 5 minutes (if you just wipe it up and call it good) to 15 minutes (if you have to change both your outfit and his). This morning it was a wipe and run morning so we actually made it (almost) on time to our destination.

I have also discovered that "start time" has no impact on time of departure. It doesn't matter how early I get up, we will still be late. I could get up at 4am and somehow, some way, we would be late.  By the time I get in the car, I feel like I've run a marathon and I'm jonesin' for a cup-o-joe like Whitney Houston craves crack. Then I think to myself, "What the heck, we're late anyway. Might as well hit the drive through."

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lesson #1

Lesson #1: Let go of expectations. Otherwise known as: Expect the Unexpected

Everything about how I joined the Mama 'Hood was unexpected. Like, I didn't expect it would take more than 2 years for us to get pregnant. I mean, people were poppin' these babies out left and right by accident and I couldn't even do it on purpose! I also didn't expect that I would become mom to not one, but TWO preemies! (Ok, the second one I kind of expected.)

While there have been many, many lessons learned since Lesson #1 (like: No matter how many times before you have kids you say you will never do X, Y & Z- once you have kids you will definitely do at least one, probably two, and maybe even all three of these things), we didn't document those lessons so therefore we'll begin counting the lessons chronicled here with #2 and go from there.

SO, here are some lessons I learned just this week:

Lesson #2: The six most evil words in the English language are: "Mommy I need to go potty". Especially when uttered at the butt crack of dawn. ...And followed immediately by "Mommy I peed on your bed" (ok maybe THOSE are the six most evil words...)

Lesson #3: One must not look away, not even for a nanosecond, when preparing marinade with a 3 year old 'helper', otherwise one will be cleaning a huge effing mess off her counter.

Lesson #3: Hauling boxes to the recycling center will entertain a 3 year old boy for a whole day. Seriously.

Lesson #4: It's not enough to just BUY the locks for the lazy Susan cupboard, you really should install them too. Unless you want come out of the bathroom to find your child standing on a chair sucking on a tube of cookie icing. Just sayin'.