Friday, December 20, 2013

Carmageddon - The Messiest Family Car in America

This morning, I took Emmy and Oren to a mommy group "festive cookie decorating get-together" at one of the mommy leaders' houses. It was a well-attended event, and by the time the kids and I arrived at the house, the driveway was already packed full of family-friendly vehicles. So I parked our car on the sidewalk, helped the kids out of their car seats, and we made our way up to the house.

On our walk up the driveway, I gave in to my voyeuristic urges, and peeked inside the windows of all the other mama cars. I wasn't scoping out their car seats, or sizing up their interior upholstery. I was on a mission to find out if the other parents' vehicles were in the same state of horrible messiness our car is always in. It's gotten so bad, I've nicknamed the poor Hyundai "Carmageddon."

It's not that I don't clean. I DO. Just maybe not ENOUGH. And, seeing as I play chaperone to a 3 year old girl and 1 year old boy, the cards are seriously stacked against me.

Whenever we get into the car, my daughter decides she is dying of thirst, and my son starts screaming for a snack, so I grab a juice box and a bag of pretzels. As soon as I put my key in the ignition, my daughter goes to town, spilling as much of her juice box as possible all over her skirt, her car seat, and the floor beneath her. My son eats half of the pretzels I give him, and then throws the other pretzel pieces in the air like its New Years' Eve confetti.

And every time we leave the house, my daughter has to bring an entourage with her. She will tell me that her BFF pink kitty cat needs to come shopping with us, and her plastic dinosaur wants to come along to make sure we don't get in an accident, and we need to drop her My Little Pony off at pony school. She also wants to bring a toy to play with (because the other things are her FRIENDS, not her TOYS), some markers and paper so she can write HER shopping list (which consists of the letter "E"), a musical instrument, and a ball to throw at my head while I am driving.

Also, both of my children seem to be somewhat obsessed with taking their clothes off in our car. We will leave our home totally clothed in seasonally appropriate outfits, but by the time we arrive at our destination, the kids have stripped down to their underwear and sunglasses, looking like they are headed to the beach. I swear, it can be the dead of winter, with wind chills in the negative teens, and my son will still think the car has a "no shirt, no shoes, NO PROBLEM" policy.

So every afternoon, after my children and I return from our play dates and shopping excursions, the car looks like it is has just barely survived a nuclear explosion. Pink kitty cat has found refuge underneath the front passenger seat. Plastic dinosaur is floating in a pool of juice in a side door compartment. My Little Pony is nibbling on pretzel crumbs that have been smooshed into the seat cushions, my children's shoes are having a secret meeting under the driver's seat, and the back of the passenger seat has been "tagged" with red marker. Total Carmageddon.

I'd probably be a little more motivated to keep the car spotless if I thought the car could STAY clean for, say, more than twenty seven seconds. But I know better. I know that the minute I finish vacuuming up the pretzel crumbs and scrubbing juice off the carpet, my daughter is going to beg for more juice, my son is going to scream for another snack, and fourteen stuffed animals are going to be hitching a ride to the supermarket. Why fight fate?

But every time I see a spotless family car, with no sign of crumbs, clothes, or kitty cat friends, I am filled with envy and wonder. Do other parents just deny their children snacks in the car? Do they refuse to give rides to hitchhiking stuffed animals? Do they glue their children's shoes to their feet? Or do they just spend an hour cleaning up the car at the end of each day? 

Which kind of parent are you? If you manage to keep your car clean, how DO you do it??? Is it sorcery?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Fruit Roll-Up Story

I was just about to back out of the driveway, so that we could drop my husband off at his parents' house, when Emmy asked for a snack. I ran inside the house to grab a fruit roll-up.

I hate fruit roll-ups - always have, always will - but my daughter LOVES them. She doesn't even bother unwrapping the plastic that the roll up is stuck to. She just takes the whole roll - wrap and all - and sticks it in her mouth. Purple colored drool starts spilling out the corners of her mouth, and she looks like a toddler with a chewing tabacco addiction. Don't get me wrong, I don't CONDONE this behavior. I try to show her the civilized way to eat a fruit roll-up. She watches my instructions, and then she ignores them.

On this particular day, Em needed help opening the silver wrapper that held her beloved snack, so before my husband got out of the car, he helped Em tear the wrapper open.

As we headed away from my in-laws' house, Emmy chewed on her fruit roll up with gusto. She made lots of lip-smacking, yummy-yummy noises.

"Mama," Emmy said, "Dada just gave me the BEST fruit roll-up in the whole world."

"Oh, really?" I said. "Just so you know, Emmy, I was the one who got the fruit roll-up for you. Dada just opened the package."

"Mama," Emmy said, "Dada just gave me the most delicious fruit roll-up. EVER."

"Well, Emmy, I actually GOT the fruit roll-up for you. I went into the house to get it for you. Remember?"

"Oh, right," Emmy said.

And then, two seconds later...

"Mama, did you know that Dada got me the BEST fruit roll-up in the whole world?"

"I GOT YOU the fruit rol- up! ME! I DID it! I gave you the BEST fruit roll-up in the whole world, Emmy."

A moment passed.

"Well," Emmy said, "maybe later today, Dada will get me a fruit roll up, and I will tell him that YOU gave me the best fruit roll up in the whole world."

Emmy is AMAZING.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oren's Birth Story

On Tuesday we celebrated Oren's first birthday. I can't believe that Oren has been a part of my life, and a part of our family, for ONLY one year.

One year ago, I was still pregnant five days after Oren's expected birthdate. I had been hoping for the possibility of a natural birth with Oren, despite the fact that I had had a rather complicated c-section with Ember. But with each day that passed beyond December 5th, I knew the chances of having Oren naturally were getting slimmer and slimmer.

On December 10th, I was sent for a routine ultrasound to check my fluid levels and make sure Oren was doing okay. C came with me, and we kept trying to get information from the ultrasound technician, who of course wasn't allowed to tell us much about what she was seeing – she was just gathering information for my midwife to interpret. But at the end of the appointment, the technician very pointedly asked me when my next midwife appointment was scheduled for, and when I told her it was for later that day, she said “GOOD.”

When C and I got out to the car, we looked at each other, and I said, “we should probably start packing for the hospital.” C agreed that the technician's demeanor seemed to indicate that we'd be heading to the hospital later that day.

Sure enough, within minutes of leaving the ultrasound, I got a call from my midwife telling me to go home and pack for the hospital, because my fluid levels were too low. She told me a c-section would be scheduled for later that day, and that the OB/GYN that I loved and really wanted to be my operating doctor (if it came down to that) would be the one bringing Oren into the world. Though I was very sad and disappointed to not be able to experience a natural childbirth, I was so glad to know I would have a doctor I knew and trusted in charge of the delivery.

So C and I went home, packed for the hospital, made sure to make arrangements for Ember's care, and got ourselves to the birthing center. From there, everything went so quickly. I was checked in, I was given an IV, and I was told the anesthesiologist would be in to administer the spinal in just a few minutes.

Now, my c-section with Emmy had been a somewhat traumatic experience, but the most frightening aspect of the ordeal had been that the anesthesia administered through THAT spinal traveled too high, and during the operation I went through more than a few minutes of feeling like I was underwater and unable to breathe. So when my anesthesiologist for Oren's birth came in to speak with me, I told him how frightened I was of the anesthesia traveling high, and he assured me he would monitor me very carefully so it wouldn't happen again.

The operation itself was as smooth a c-section as I could have asked or wished for. The anesthesiologist was a godsend (if there is one thing I can advise about c-sections, it it that a great anesthesiologist makes ALL the difference). He stood at my head and spoke to me calmly throughout the section. His whole demeanor was love and comfort, rather than cold and professional, and I was SO grateful for his graceful nurturing.

C sat by my head and held my hand. Using my Kindle, we put on the playlist that I hoped would be playing through a natural birth. The operating doctor and the nurses commented on how much they loved the songs I had chosen, and even sang along to a few of the tunes. C kept my mind off of the yanking and tugging that was going on by asking me questions about the songs I had picked, and telling me how much he loved me. Within minutes (though a few minutes longer than had been expected, because Oren was a BIG baby), our baby boy was brought into the world and into our arms – a beautiful bundle of smooshiness.

So that is Oren's birth story. It is different from the story I would have hoped to tell – one of natural labor and sweat and tears – but it is still Oren's story, and a birth I am incredibly blessed to have gone through.

I love you, baby boy. You came into this world one year ago, but even when you were just a few minutes old, I felt like I had known you forever.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Better Late Than Never - A Video for Em

I've made a commitment to myself to make a little video for every birthday our children celebrate. Em's birthday this past year was blurred by other circumstances, but I want to make sure to keep my promise. So here is my little video celebrating Em's life as a two year old, set to Elizabeth Mitchell's version of Three Little Birds, which is our favorite song to sing together. Love you, Em, with all my heart and every bone in my body.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Runaway Baby

Oren is absolutely adorable. He is a huggable, ever-smiling, whip-smart, totally silly boy. He is ALSO a boy who loves causing his mother round-the-clock panic attacks by constantly and quickly wandering off in different directions. I have lovingly dubbed him “The Runaway Baby”.

Emmy was the polar opposite when she was a baby. Whenever I left her side or disappeared from her line of vision, she would scream and cry and cry and scream. When I was cooking dinner in the kitchen, she would sit between my legs. When I had to go to the bathroom, she would follow me to the toilet and sit there, watching me pee. Basically, she was a mini-sized stalker. While I loved the fact that she loved me so deeply, I always wished she would be more independent, so I could have a TEENY TINY bit of privacy.

Which goes to show, you need to watch what you wish for. With Oren, I got the independent baby I yearned for Emmy to be, and then some. Oren started climbing stairs at around 8 months. He started walking right around his ten month birthday, and he started “baby running” (waddling at a speed-walkers pace) a few days after that. At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if he started scaling tall buildings and shooting webs out of the palms of his hands on his first birthday.

Wherever we go, the minute I set Oren down on his two unusually gigantic baby feet, he takes off like he's just heard the starting gun at a marathon race. It's a REALLY FUN game to him. As he runs away from me, he looks over his shoulder with a big grin on his face, as if to say “just you try to get me, mama!”

And of course I DO try to get him. When I succeed at scooping him up, he squirms out of my arms and slides down my body to the ground, where he takes off once again. By the end of each day, with all the “sit down, stand up, run around, sit down, stand up, run around,” my legs are revolting against me, big time.

This “game” has made my life as a stay-at-home-mom quite challenging. At the playground, if I try to help Emmy up the ladder to go down her favorite slide, Oren sees it as an opportunity to skip nonchalantly over to the very crazy, very busy parking lot to try to make friends with the moving cars. At the children's museum, if I try blowing bubbles with Em, Oren will wander off to the magnet exhibit, where he will try stuffing his mouth with as many itty bitty magnets as possible before he is found.

At this point, I figure I have three options:

OPTION A: I could invest in one of those backpack-style child leashes that I SWORE I would never use on my kids. I could tether myself to Oren, or Oren to me, and limit his access to the big wide world he so wishes to explore. In other words, I could make my son miserable because I am too tired to deal.

OPTION B: (I like this plan a lot better) I could win the lottery, travel to a foreign country, find a scientist who is interested in human cloning, and plead my case. Hearing my desperation, the scientist will create two additional versions of me – one to chase after Oren, and one to do our family's laundry.

OPTION C: I could suck it up, admit that running after a small child is just a natural part of motherhood, and go out and buy a pedometer so I can at least keep track of all my miles.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Revised

So, here is MY version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which I tell Emmy all the time. In my opinion, my ending is a lot more satisfying than the original. I don't want Em growing up to think that it is okay to run away from any trouble she's caused, so I've modified the story to make sure Goldilocks stays and fixes all the messes she's created for the bears.

I wrote the whole story down mostly for my friend Courtney, who had requested I share it. I hope she, and others, enjoy it.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Goldilocks. Goldilocks was a beautiful girl, with curly hair that was the color of the sun. She was also a curious girl. She was also more than just a little bit naughty.

One day, Goldilocks went for a walk in the woods near her house. She came upon a very interesting looking home, and decided to knock on the door. When no one came to answer the door, Goldilocks' curiosity got the better of her, and she decided to let herself into the house, even though she knew that was a naughty thing to do.

Goldilocks didn't know that the house belonged to three bears who had just gone out on a morning walk while their breakfast porridge cooled. But from the moment she stepped into the bears' home, Goldilocks could smell the delicious porridge, and she followed the smell to the bears' kitchen.

In the kitchen there was a pretty table, and on the table were three bowls of really yummy looking porridge, with twirly swirls of maple syrup. There was a HUMUNGOUS bowl of porridge with a HUMUNGOUS spoon, a MEDIUM sized bowl of porridge with a MEDIUM sized spoon, and a TEENY WEENY ITSY BITSY bowl of porridge with a TEENY WEENY ITSY BITSY spoon (like the kind Goldilocks' mama used to feed her baby brother).

Goldilocks grabbed the HUMUNGOUS spoon and helped herself to the porridge in the HUMUNGOUS bowl.

OUCH!!” Goldilocks cried upon tasting the porridge. “This is WAY too hot! It almost burned my tongue! And I SURE don't have the patience to wait for it to cool off.”

So Goldilocks grabbed the MEDIUM sized spoon and helped herself to porridge from the MEDIUM sized bowl.

BLECH!” Goldilocks made her grossy gross face. “This porridge is WAY too cold, and I REALLY don't feel like warming it up.”

So Goldilocks grabbed the TEENY WEENY ITSY BITSY spoon and helped herself to the porridge in the TEENY WEENY ITSY BITSY bowl.

YEAH!!” Goldilocks smiled. “This porridge is perfect. It is just the right temperature and it has lots of maple syrup, just the way I like it.”

And Goldilocks gobbled up the entire bowl in just fifty four seconds.

After Goldilocks had eaten all the porridge, her tummy was quite full, and she decided she needed to rest for a little while before having any more adventures. So she left the kitchen and found the living room, where she discovered three chairs. There was a HUMUNGOUS chair made of stone, a MEDIUM sized puffy, fluffy chair, and a TEENY WEENY ITSY BITSY wooden chair that was Goldilocks' favorite color, purple.

Goldilocks decided she'd better try out ALL of the chairs, just as she had tried out ALL of the bowls of porridge, to see which one suited her best. First she climbed onto the HUMUNGOUS stone chair.

Oww!” Goldilocks cried. “This chair is not AT ALL comfortable! It's as hard as a rock! How could anyone enjoy sitting on this?”

Goldilocks hopped off the HUMUNGOUS chair and climbed into the MEDIUM sized puffy, fluffy chair.

Whoa,” Goldilocks exclaimed. “I don't think I can sit on this chair. I feel like I am being eaten by a giant marshmallow!”

So Goldilocks hopped off the MEDIUM sized puffy, fluffy chair and went over to the TEENY WEENY ITSY BITSY purple wooden chair.

Goldilocks knew she was too big for the TEENY WEENY ITSY BITSY chair, but it was PURPLE, which was her absolute FAVORITE color, so she decided to try to squeeze her body into the chair as best as she could. She squished and she squirmed and she squished and she squirmed, and just as Goldilocks thought she might finally fit, the TEENY WEENY ITSY BITSY purple wooden chair cracked and broke into one hundred pieces.

Oh dear,” Goldilocks thought. But she was too lazy to clean up the mess she made, and she was feeling a little tired, so she decided to go find a place to lie down.

Goldilocks quickly found the bedroom, and in it she found three beds. There was a HUMUNGOUS stone bed with a brown blanket, a MEDIUM sized puffy, fluffy bed with a red blanket, and a TEENY WEENY ITSY BITSY wooden bed with a purple blanket.

Goldilocks decided she'd better try out ALL of the beds, just as she had tried out ALL of the chairs, and ALL of the bowls of porridge, to see which one suited her best. First she climbed into the HUMUNGOUS bed.

UGH!” Goldilocks cried. “This bed is not AT ALL comfortable! It's as hard as a rock! How could anyone enjoy sitting on this?”

So Goldilocks hopped off the HUMUNGOUS bed and climbed into the MEDIUM sized puffy, fluffy bed.

Whoa,” Goldilocks exclaimed. “I don't think I can sleep in this bed. I feel like I am being eaten by a giant cotton ball!”

So Goldilocks hopped off the MEDIUM sized puffy, fluffy bed and went over to the TEENY WEENY ITSY BITSY wooden bed with a purple blanket. The bed was so comfortable! Goldilocks curled up and fell fast asleep.

While Goldilocks was sleeping, the three bears returned home from their morning walk. After all the exercise they had enjoyed, the bears were incredibly hungry, so they went straight to the kitchen to enjoy their breakfast of porridge with maple syrup.

When the bears got to the kitchen, they looked at their bowls of porridge. Something didn't seem quite right.

Hmmm...” Papa bear said. “You know, I know this will sound crazy, but I think somebody's been eating my porridge!”

Papa Bear,” said Mama bear, “I think you might be right! I think somebody's been eating my porridge, too!”

Mama, Papa!” Baby Bear cried, “Somebody's DEFINITELY been eating my porridge! They ate the WHOLE THING!”

Baby Bear started crying hysterically, because his tummy was so hungry and grumbly. Mama and Papa bear decided it might be best to go relax in the living room, before making a new batch of porridge. But when they got to the living room, something didn't seem quite right.

Hmmm...” Papa bear said. “You know, I know this will sound crazy, but I think somebody's been sitting in my chair!”

Papa Bear,” said Mama bear, “I think you might be right! I think somebody's been sitting in my chair, too!”

Mama, Papa!” Baby Bear cried, “Somebody's DEFINITELY been sitting in my chair! They broke it into a hundred pieces!”

Baby Bear started crying even MORE hysterically, because his porridge was all eaten, and now his favorite chair was really broken. Mama and Papa bear decided it might be best to go rest in the bedroom, before making a new batch of porridge AND fixing Baby Bear's chair. But when they got to the bedroom, something didn't seem quite right.

Hmmm...” Papa bear said. “You know, I know this will sound crazy, but I think somebody's been sleeping in my bed!”

Papa Bear,” said Mama bear, “I think you might be right! I think somebody's been sleeping in my bed, too!”

Mama, Papa!” Baby Bear cried, “Somebody's DEFINITELY been sleeping in my bed! Actually, she's STILL sleeping in my bed!”

Mama and Papa bear ran over to Baby Bear's bed, and sure enough, there was Goldilocks, sleeping soundly. The three bears were so angry at Goldilocks, that all three of them started to roar a loud, mean roar.

Goldilocks woke up and screamed when she saw the angry bears looking down at her. She hopped right out of bed and started running toward the window to try to escape. But Papa Bear stopped Goldilocks before she got to the window.

Not so fast, Goldilocks,” he said. “You've made a great big mess in our house, and you've got to help us clean up! First, you will have to help us cook up a new batch of porridge. Next, you will have to help us fix Baby Bear's favorite chair. Next, you will have to help us make our beds. When you are all done cleaning up the mess you've made, you will have to apologize for all the trouble you've cause. THEN you can leave!”

Goldilocks cooperated, and helped cook up some porridge. She then helped glue all one hundred pieces of Baby Bear's favorite chair back together. Finally, she helped make all the beds nice and tidy again. By the time she was done with all the clean up, Goldilocks was exhausted.

Wow,” Goldilocks said to the bear family. “I didn't realize what a mess I had made, and how much work it would take to clean up. I really AM sorry for all the trouble I caused.”

Hearing the apology, the bears decided Goldilocks really was sorry, and they let her leave their home.

From that day on, Goldilocks was still a very beautiful girl, and was also very curious, but she was no longer naughty.


Friday, November 15, 2013

I think my lunch date was drunk...

Identity Crisis

I LOVE that my daughter has a vivid imagination. I also DON'T LOVE that my daughter has a vivid imagination. And I really DON'T LOVE that I DON'T LOVE that my daughter has a vivid imagination.

Are you dizzy yet?

Well, I'm dizzy too. Emmy is CONSTANTLY pretending to be fictitious characters. At any given moment in the day, she'll be pretending to be Dora the Explorer, The Little Mermaid, a magical kitty cat, a ballerina, Cinderella, a dinosaur, a baby, or one of many other characters she has in her “repetoire”.

That's all fine and good. I don't mind that Emmy's character changes (and accompanying costume changes) are far more frequent than Oren's diaper changes. I remember being a kid, and how much I loved pretending to be someone or something with a lifestyle far more exotic than my own (growing up in Upstate New York was fun, but it didn't compare to the life of a T-Rex).

What I DO mind, just a little, is having to play ALL of the supporting characters to Emmy's starring roles. During the twelve waking hours of Em's day, I am generally asked to take on the identities of about 72 different secondary roles.

Here are just a few of the characters I was asked to play yesterday: Mean Mama (from Cinderella), both Evil Sisters (from Cinderella), The Prince (from Cinderella), The Mouse (from Cinderella), Flounder (from The Little Mermaid), Sebastian (from The Little Mermaid), The Prince (from The Little Mermaid), Mean Dada (from The Little Mermaid), a mama dinosaur, a baby dinosaur, Swiper the Fox (from Dora), a ballerina, a mama kitty cat, a mama frog, the three bears (in Goldilocks), a beaver, and – TOTALLY RANDOM - a prickly thorn bush.

Now, I love being the kind of mom who feels comfortable playing imaginary games with my daughter. It is not always easy for me to pause my adult brain, full of shopping lists and chores that need to get done, and enter my daughter's imaginary universe. But I try. I actually try to emulate my grandmother, who was always able and more than willing to play Barbie games with my sister and I for hours on end, and was AMAZING at taking on any character we asked her to play in our childhood imaginary games.

But, as much as I love actively fostering Em's imagination, by the end of the day, my head is absolutely spinning, and I have ZERO imagination left. ZERO.

I worry about endurance. I mean, how long I can last at this? Em's only been into constant role playing for a few weeks now, and I am already exhausted. I'm already asking her to “take ten,” so I can catch my breath and regroup before assuming the character of prickly thorn bush. Is it going to be possible for me to make it through her childhood years without having a complete identity crisis? Or am I one day going to wake up, convinced that I am actually a talking dinosaur?

I'd like to think I can at least make it through the next few months. I figure that once Oren has developed a few more words, and becomes more of a playmate for Em, HE'LL gladly play whatever sidekick Emmy wants him to play, and I will once again be able to just be plain old MAMA.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Don't Call Me, I'll Call You

If you are a stay at home parent, you must accept one truth: there is no such thing as a "good time to talk" on the phone. If you attempt to have a dialed up heart-to-heart with a friend or family member, you absolutely MUST be prepared to interrupt the conversation so you can tell your children "honey, i don't think your brother likes it when you stick your Barbie's feet in his eyes," and "try to get the yogurt into your mouth, rather than your nose."

Because here is another truth: as soon as you start dialing a number on your phone, or as soon as your cell phone starts ringing, a signal goes off in your children's brains. The signal says “ALERT! ALERT! CODE RED! Mommy wants to have adult talk! Must stop this from happening!” And then, like robots spinning out of control, your children will do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in their power to get you to stop talking on the phone.

First, your oldest little child will come right up to your face, breathe into your eyeballs, and tell you that they are terribly hungry and in desperate need of a snack.

“Hold on,” you tell your phone friend. “I just have to get Emmy some crackers.”

Your child wolfs down the crackers as quickly as possible. Then your child starts screaming, as if they have just been hired as town crier.


“Hold on,” you tell your friend. “I just have to get Emmy some napkins.”

Meanwhile, your youngest little child will see your distraction-via-phone-conversation as an ideal opportunity to discover areas of the house that have not yet been explored. So while you go fetch your oldest little child some napkins, your youngest little child teeters out of the living room and into the kitchen, where he tries “rock climbing” the cabinets.

“Hold on,” you tell your friend. “Oren is about to start brushing his hair with our kitchen knives. I should probably stop him.”

After you get your one child away from the knife set, and you wipe the cracker encrusted hands of your other child, you figure it might be a good idea to get some blocks for the kids to play with, so you can at least TRY to talk to your friend. You pour a bunch of Duplo blocks out in the middle of the living room floor and tell the kids to share nicely.

And they DO share nicely, for about 20 seconds. Then youngest little child grabs block from oldest little child, and oldest little child screams and grabs block back from youngest little child. Then youngest little child grabs a handful of oldest little child's hair and pulls REALLY REALLY HARD.

“Hold on,” you tell your friend. “I just have to unhinge my eleven month old son's very very strong fingers before he causes Emmy to be prematurely bald.”

Then there is the hugging and soothing of oldest little child. And then there is the reprimanding of youngest little child (which of course is completely useless because he is only eleven months old). Then there is the separating of the children, with youngest little child going in his high chair, to try and avoid further calamities. You give your youngest little child a few blocks to play with.


Your youngest little child uses his blocks to make ear-deafening, earth-shaking noises. Your friend asks if you are having construction done on your house. You take blocks away from your youngest little one and give him some Cheerios to eat as a snack.

Meanwhile, your oldest little one has built a large tower out of the Duplo blocks, and is trying to stand ON TOP of the very colorful mini version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“Hold on,” you tell your friend. “I just have to stop Emmy from jumping off a tall building.”

You swoop in on your oldest little one just as she is about to fall and break a limb. And then you notice your youngest little one beginning to choke because he has stuffed his mouth full of 84 Cheerios.

“Hold on,” you tell your friend. “I just have to...”

“Should I try calling at a better time?” your friend inquires, sensing the panic in your voice.

“Um, sure,” you reply. “Can you call back right about this time... in about 14 years? I might be a LITTLE less distracted.”

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mama, Please Hit Me!

So, yesterday I encountered what might have been my most perplexing parenting moment thus far.

Em and Oren and I were playing in the living room. Oren was playing with his little alphabet caterpillar, and Em was putting on one of her (many) performances as Ariel the Mermaid. Em seemed to be tiring of playing Ariel, and started chasing Oren around the room a little, when she suddenly ran up to me.

“Mama, hit me!” she said.

I looked at her, of course TOTALLY baffled, and sure I had misheard her words.

“What did you say, Emmy?”

“Hit me, Mama! I want to play the hitting game! Hit me right here!” she said, pointing to her arm.

Now, I will pause here to mention that there is NO hitting in our home. We never spank. We never push. We never put my hands on our children in any way that might be even remotely considered physically aggressive.

“Emmy,” I said, kind of laughing, because I was so caught off guard by the moment, “I am NOT going to hit you. I love you. Don't be silly.”

Ember shook her head, “Just hit me here, mama. Please! It's the hitting game! I want to see how it feels!”

“Are you kidding, Emmy? Hitting hurts! I won't hit you. It is not nice to hit people!”

At this point, Ember was pulling on my arm, with tears in her eyes.

“Please, mama! Just hit me! It's the hitting game! You can hit me not so hard, like this!” she said, hitting her own arm. “I want to see how it feels!”

“I am not going to hit you, Emmy!”

“PLEEEEEASE, Mama! Please hit me!!”

And that is when I went from feeling bewildered to feeling totally overwhelmed by the moment. I started to choke up. Why in the world was my three year old begging me to hit her?? I couldn't wrap my head around it for the life of me.

“Emmy, nobody is supposed to hit you. Does anybody hit you?” I asked, very nervously.


“What is the hitting game? Do you play this at school?”


“Does somebody hit you at school?” I asked.


“Does ANYONE hit ANYONE at school?” I asked.


And then she named a few boys in her class, and said they played the “Hitting Game”.

“Well,” I said to Emmy, “we definitely do NOT play the hitting game at home. And if somebody hits you at school, Emmy, it is not nice. You should tell me or dada AND your teacher if anybody in your class hits you. Hitting is NOT a game. Hitting hurts.”

“Ok,” Emmy said, sounding somewhat disappointed.

So, here I am, a day later, still reeling from the incident. I've Googled “3 year old daughter asked me to hit her,” hoping to find discussion boards of other parents who've been through similar, completely crazy conversations with their three year olds, and I have come up empty handed. Apparently NO other parent has had to have this conversation with their three year old, or NO other parent wants to talk about having this conversation with their three year old?

I may be overreacting about the incident. It is very possible that Em may have seen some kids in her class playing “Tag,” and she thought they were chasing each other around and hitting one another, and was curious as to why hitting would be part of a game. Em IS in a class with seven boys and only one other girl, so it is also possible that the “games” she sees the boys playing are more aggressive than the games she is used to.

Still, this is my baby girl we are talking about. This is the girl who I was cuddling in my arms and rocking to sleep just a year or so ago. This is the girl who I never ever want to see hurt or hit by another person.

Hitting hurts, Em. Hitting is not a game. And I will never, ever hit you.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Once Upon a Time

Ember, aka The Little Mermaid, aka Cinderella

I'm so excited. Emmy LOVES fairy tales. She loves reading fairy tales, watching fairy tales, and pretending to be characters out of fairy tales (like, 24 hours a day). This is a stage I can TOTALLY relate to. Fairy tales were a HUGE part of my childhood, and now discovering the stories again with Emmy is like reuniting with long lost best friends.

We've only introduced Em to a handful of tales: Cinderella, Bambi, The Princess and the Pea, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and The Little Mermaid. Em ADORES fairy tales. Actually, she is more than slightly OBSESSED with them.

The Princess and the Pea was the first fairy tale I read to Emmy, where she actually sat through the entire story and seemed to understand it. It's a pretty silly story, in my opinion, and isn't exactly “relatable”. But because it is such a basic, short story, it is a great “gateway drug” to more complex fairy tale plots and themes.

Ember asks me to tell her the Goldilocks story at least three times a day. I have taken creative license and changed the end of the story in my retelling of the tale. In MY version, Goldilocks doesn't get off so easy after basically ruining the home of the three bears. Rather than just screaming and escaping through the bedroom window after being woken up by the bears, Goldilocks is told by Papa and Mama Bear that she needs to stay and help fix all of the things in their house that she has destroyed. First she must help cook up a fresh pot of porridge for the bear family to eat and enjoy, then she has to help repair the chair that she so carelessly broke, and finally she must APOLOGIZE for messing around with objects that didn't belong to her. Once Goldilocks has done all of these things, the bears let her leave their house.

Em and I watched Bambi just the other day, when she was getting over a bout of the croup. Watching Bambi made me REALLY miss the simplicity of old animated films – it was so QUIET and SUBTLE compared to animated films today. Of course, I was not excited about having to explain the shooting of Bambi's mother to Emmy, and was worried Em might be scared by the forest fire scenes, but the viewing (and explaining) went much better than I had anticipated. Em seemed genuinely concerned about these scenes, but she was not at all traumatized by them.

As for Cinderella and The Little Mermaid? Em spends most of the day pretending to be either Cinderella or Ariel, or as I like to call it, Arirella. She gets the plots of the two fairy tales confused, so she will often pretend to be a mermaid who has lost her glass slipper, or a poor humble housemaid who has given away her voice. Lovingly, she always asks her father to play the part of the prince. And then she asks me to play the part of the “mean mama”. Sometimes, if I am really lucky, she lets me play the part of the fairy godmother. Oren gets to play the part of Gus Gus the fat mouse, or Flounder, Ariel's fishy sidekick. He doesn't seem to mind as long as we feed him pretzels.

So just please don't be surprised if you stop by our house, and you see Ember dressed in an ad hoc mermaid costume, and you hear me ordering her to sweep the floor and wash the windows and vacuum the rugs. Also please don't be surprised if you see Ember and Oren and I dancing around our living room, with magic wands in our hands, singing Bibbity Bobbity Boo at the top of our lungs.

At the moment, we're all just a little fairy-tale obsessed.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Little Buddha Boy

Much thanks to Courtney for this beautiful photo.

Children are amazing.

Oren is sick with the croup. His voice sounds like Yoda and his breathing sounds like an old, rickety Hoover vacuum. His whole body seems to be fighting off some pretty mean germies.

And yet, he smiles. When Emmy holds his hands and makes weird googly boogly sounds at him, he laughs. When we sing songs to him at the dinner table, he sways and claps his hands.

I am never happy when I am sick. I never clap my hands or giggle when I can't breathe.

Oren is my little Buddha boy. I have so much to learn from him.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Obladi Oblada

So much has happened since I last wrote a blog post. I've WANTED to write so many posts (the one about Ember's three year old check up, the one about Oren's obsession with his own nostrils, the one about Emmy CONSTANTLY asking me to pretend to be the “mean mama” from Cinderella), but I've had no time or energy to write. And now it is daunting and overwhelming to even attempt to write a “catch-up” blog post. But if I don't write and publish this post, I know that feeling of “block” will just multiply and balloon, and soon I will be considering discontinuing this blog.

So here is my attempt at summing up the ridiculously busy, very emotional last few months that have passed relatively undocumented.

Ember turned three years old (THREE YEARS OLD!!) on October 13th. That same day, my father-in-law (Grampy, as he is now referred to for the kids' sake), whom I love and adore, had a stroke. The weeks that followed were (and continue to be) a whirlwind for our family.

I don't want to say too much about Grampy, or his recovery, or the impact this experience has had on my husband, our family, etc., because of course it is a private family matter. All I want to say is that I am incredibly inspired by Grampy's will and motivation, and by his ability to face this totally unexpected, shocking challenge with amazing strength of mind, body and spirit. I truly hope his recovery will be swift and complete, and that he will quickly return to participating in all of the activities he loves – fishing, walking, gardening, etc. We will all do whatever we can to support him in his recovery.

Aside from that, I've been adjusting to life as a stay at home mom. I've gotten used to the fact that there are good days and there are bad days in stay-at-home mothering, just as there are good days and bad days when working at any job. There are days when I feel like I have finally hit my stride, and have finally figured out the secret to being a happy parent, and the key to raising happy, well-rounded, somewhat well-behaved children. And then the NEXT DAY happens, full of tantrums and hair-pulling and pee pee accidents and exhaustion, and I feel like I am back at square one, that I have millions of things to learn about parenting, but absolutely no energy to actually LEARN those things. And then the NEXT DAY happens, and all is miraculously fine and good again.

Watching the two kids has gotten more complicated, especially since Oren started walking... and dancing... and spinning in circles until he gets dizzy and falls down on the ground. He is a joy-filled child (most of the time) who loves cuddling and snuggling and eating markers and pulling all of the tissues out of tissue boxes. He also, unfortunately, LOVES grabbing Ember's toys right out of her hand. He also LOVES pulling Ember's hair. He also LOVES pinching her hard on the arm. He also really LOVES stealing her juice.

Emmy retaliates by loving her brother a little TOO hard. She will play “smooshy head” with Oren, which basically consists of grabbing him and smooshing his head REALLY hard against her body. She also attempts to “carry” Oren by grabbing him around the neck and lifting UP (nearly decapitating him). She also LOVES giving Oren hugs that closely resemble strangulation.

Watching Emmy and Oren interact is a little like watching an episode of The Three Stooges (Oren would be Curly and Emmy would be Moe). But, because I am Em and O's mama, most of the time I am so concerned that one of them is going to land the other one in the emergency room, that I am unable to truly appreciate the comedy of it all. So my solution is to play the part of peace keeper, which means I just throw my body between the two kids and offer them snacks as a distraction.

And now we are on the edge of winter, which means soon each week will likely have one or both of the children ill with some rare disease, and our house will be full of used tissues and baby Tylenol, and playground visits will be replaced with visits to the doctor. I AM going to try to think positively, though, and will try to use the winter months as an opportunity: an opportunity to teach Em to recognize all (or most) of the letters of the alphabet, an opportunity to teach Oren new words, and an opportunity to eat Snoopy Snowcones on a daily basis.

I am not going to lie. I DO miss working outside the home. But the minute I think about returning to work (which I think about A LOT), I look at my two little mischief makers and wonder how I could get through a full workday without seeing their beautiful, silly faces.

So life continues, with each day being it's own unique adventure. I am hoping that I'll be able to blog a bit more often during the winter months, but I can't make any promises. These kiddos of mine require lots of time, attention, and brain power!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Falling in to Fall

I love the fall. Not just because my birthday is in September. Not even because the leaves around here are drop-dead gorgeous, or because the supermarkets are totally full of crisp apples and butternut squash soup. I love the fall because it is a season of ORDER. Fall is wedged between the chaos of summer, with its way-too-long days and barbeque madness and concerts and constant fireworks displays, and the chaos of winter, with its way-too-short days, and plan-ruining weather, and constant threat of flu.

During the fall days, there is a reliable (yet totally fleeting) sense of normalcy. For me, especially this year, the season has been an amazing blessing. I've been able to create days that are predictable and manageable, and because of their manageability, I have been able to actually fully delve into enjoying my status as a stay at home (roam around) mom.

I have also realized that because of the chaos of summer, and getting used to my life as a SAHM (RAM) and the lack of time I have had to write, I really haven't blogged about the kids' development in quite a while.So here it goes:

Emmy is about to turn three. I am sometimes struck by the fact that she is ALREADY three (I could SWEAR it was yesterday that she was cuddled into my arm as I slept with her newborn body at the hospital). Other times I am struck by the fact that she is ONLY turning three. She has the vocabulary of an adult, but the silliness of a child. She has the awareness of an adult, but the clumsiness of a little kid. She is trying to figure the world out, trying to figure out her own limitations, and discovering all of her likes and dislikes. She is sometimes shy, and sometimes unstoppably outgoing. She currently loves drawing, dance parties, kitties, the colors pink and purple, twirly skirts, trains, gummy bears, books and made up stories, singing to songs in the car, and running around and around in circles (especially on the trampoline). She is opinionated, loving, energetic, and so incredibly creative.

Oren in about to turn 10 months old. Everywhere we go, people tell me he seems to be the happiest baby they have ever met. They also tell me he is one of the biggest babies they have ever met. He smiles at everyone (unless he is sleepy and/or hungry), eats everything, and loves exploring with all his senses. He is cuddly and smooshy and love radiates out of him. Oren is standing and walking with support, but working very hard on doing it by himself. He currently loves electric wires, clapping and saying "yay yay yay," chicken, drinking straws, bottles, balls, Emmy playing "booga booga" with him, bath time, and music. My favorite thing in the world might just be watching my little man boogie his body (with a totally dorky, squishy smile) when he hears music.

Thank you, fall, for giving me the chance to really notice my children, and appreciate them for all their glory.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman

Em has become addicted to drawing, which of course thrills me to pieces. In past daydreams about motherhood, I hoped I would have a child who would love spending her time with ink and paper. Emmy has already filled at least three or four notebooks with her drawings of people, and each character she draws has such amazing character and life. I hope viewing this video will bring Em lots of joy many years from now.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Can We Just Have 50 More Weeks of Vacation, Please?

I have TONS and TONS to say about the past two weeks, but about 3 minutes to sum it up.

C had a two week vacation from work, and it was so blissful, being together as a full family of four for fourteen straight days. We took a vacation to the White Mountains in New Hampshire which was MUCH more enjoyable and MUCH less stressful than I predicted it would be (we are blessed with two young children who – so far – seem to fare rather well in long car rides). We also just HUNG OUT as a family A LOT – playing games, enjoying several long walk/runs, going to the playground, seeing waterfalls, and eating all of our meals together. Em was thrilled to the bone to have her Dada around as a constant companion, and Oren bonded with C in a beautiful way.

Tonight, on the cusp of C’s return to work, there is a lot of sadness in the air. I find myself daydreaming about the possibility of winning the lottery (which is slim, since I haven't bought any tickets), or digging up a pot of gold in our backyard, so that C could ALWAYS stay home and play with me and the kids. I know that both the kids and I will feel a real void in our day tomorrow, and C is leaving big empty shoes for me to fill. 

So with a slight sense of sadness, thank you, world, for this amazing vacation we have enjoyed as a family. I truly can’t wait for the next one.