Archive | February, 2010

The Sisterhood of Wearing No Pants

26 Feb

Whine: I went from a deep, dreamy sleep to being jolted wide awake in an instant this morning. I’d forgotten all about the joys of pregnancy charlie horses. I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to move my leg, as it had decided to freeze itself mid-spasm, right at the peak of the pain.

Cheese: Thankfully, Mr. Dad wakes up a lot less crabby and a lot more coherent than I do and showed that charlie horse who’s boss.

In the weeks and days before the arrival of Lil’ Sis, there was much anticipation. Big Sis was excited to meet her new little sister. Excitement turned to awe when she met that squirmy little red-haired baby. But the awe quickly faded to disinterest when she realized that babies don’t do anything. I distinctly remember the disappointment in her voice one day when she said, “(Audible sigh) She’s asleep, again??”

But the disinterest turned into irritation the minute Lil’ Sis got mobile. Her only objective, it seemed, was to be in Big Sis’ space and destroy whatever it was she was building. I spent the better part of a year encouraging one sister to acknowledge the other’s existence and schooling the other on the concept of personal space.

And then one day, it happened.

I looked over from my perch on the couch to see them playing. In the same vicinity. Almost together. I held my breath, afraid that any sudden movement on my part would break the spell and I would be back to officiating another round of NO! That’s My Most Valued Piece of Carpet Fuzz and You Can’t Have It!

As the days and weeks passed, I noticed more and more of this erratic, illogical behavior. Instead of 100% fighting, 0% cooperation, they had moved on to 99.9% fighting and 0.1% cooperation. I was ecstatic.

You can imagine my shock this morning to walk into the bathroom and see two kids with no pants on. At first I was truly alarmed. But once my heart rate slowed, I realized that Big Sis had not only used the bathroom herself, but had assisted Lil’ Sis in removing her Pull-Up and using the potty chair. AND THEN she was emptying the potty chair and rinsing it out without making a mess. Talk about heart failure.

In that moment, I saw family. Big Sis doing what big sisters are made to do and lending her Lil’ Sis a hand. Teaching her the ways of the potty. Being kind and gentle and encouraging without having a glaring mother forcing her to do so.

Just a few minutes later, Big Sis had been banished to timeout for refusing to share her toys and for yelling at her sister. Incidentally, as I was trying to explain to her why she had been disciplined, she turned around on the chair and mooned me. I suppose Big Sis should have been a child of the 70s, using civil disobedience (and nudity) to fight The Man. Well, I am The Man. With difficulty, I suppressed my grin and swatted that bare little bottom. (FGTKY anyone?)

So Big Sis sat in timeout, sulking and pondering the injustice of having to share her toys. And what do you know? Lil’ Sis wandered over and started offering toys. The next thing I know, they were snuggling in the chair together playing and chatting like best buds. 

In that moment, I saw grace. Even though Lil’ Sis had just moments earlier been the victim of Big Sis’ maniacal tirade, she has a short memory for that sort of thing. And in the end, she likes her Big Sis so much, she’s willing to put up with some ugly parts to get to the good stuff. Stuff like jumping on the furniture together, making a two-headed ghost out of what is supposed to be fabric for the baby’s quilt, and, most importantly, ganging up on Mommy.

Moments like these give me hope that my girls will grow up and be friends. Not just the kind of friends who share jeans (although noone around here seems to like wearing pants, so that may be a non-issue) and lip gloss, but the kind of friends who hang out on the porch swing and talk, just because they want to. The kind who jump in and lend a hand when their sister needs help. And who have short memories for petty arguments and bring peace offerings to heal the wounds of battle.

Speaking of battles, I’d better go. I think the now one-headed ghost is terrorizing her other half, who is running for her life.

Proof of the 0.1%.

Categorically Funny

23 Feb

Whine: I need to stop watching cake shows. Watching normal-looking people turn moist, fluffy cakes into the Eiffel Tower has made me delusional. The other day I seriously considered (at Mr. Dad’s behest) attempting a Great Wall of China made from cake. So you can imagine my utter confusion today when I attempted to make some simple sugar flowers and they turned into a runny, goopy paste instead of delicate cherry blossoms.

Cheese: I did what anybody would have done in my situation. I stopped piping the frosting onto the flower form and squeezed it directly into my mouth. Obviously.

My life is funny almost all the time. Problem is, I don’t always see it like that. At least not right away.  That’s because situations come in all different types and degrees of funny, and are accompanied by varying degrees of pain and humiliation. I figured that a Humor Classification System might assist me in arriving at that “someday we’ll look back on this and laugh” point sooner rather than later in some of these situations.

My preliminary findings have issued at least five categories of funny:

Funny Haha (FHH)

The classic funny. Something humorous that happens yet causes to no physical or emotional harm to the subject(s) and/or innocent bystanders. This form of humor is rare in this house.

Example: I was crouching down attempting to pull up Big Sis’ tights after a successful trip to the potty. But I couldn’t manage it, as she was very proud of herself and kept taking bow after bow, sticking her bottom in my face and saying “Thank you, thank you very much.”

Funny Painfully Awkward (FPA)

Humor that arises out of a situation that exposes (either literally or figuratively) the subject. Laughter here is almost always a survival tactic.

Example: Did you know that the restrooms at Chipotle have an echo? My kids recently discovered this, much to their amusement. (Same restroom from aforementioned bowing incident.) They began testing out the sound-bouncing properties of various yelps and hollers. The woman standing outside the door made no effort to stifle her giggles as we exited. I flashed her a smile that said “I have clearly given up on controlling these two wild animals” and hurried out of the building, avoiding the eyes of the other patrons who had surely heard our physics demonstration.

Funny Boo Hoo (FBH)

The laughter that comes as a means to avoiding tears. Or laughter that intermittently accompanies tears, as the subject realizes that there is no actual reason for crying.

Example: This morning (a long, exhausting one that started way too early) I spilled some bright red cranberry juice onto our beige carpet and promptly burst into tears. Real, uncontainable tears. After Mr. Dad and I cleaned it up, I could barely chew my soggy granola through my sniffs and hiccuped sobs. I knew it would be funny eventually, but it sure wasn’t at that moment. Especially when Mr. Dad helpfully commented, “You know what they say about crying over spilled cranberry juice.” If only my eyeballs had laser-beams.

Funny I am Going to Kill You As Soon As I Stop Laughing (FGTKY…)

Usually begins as a futile attempt to suppress laughter and look angry in the face of equal measures of adorability and mischief. Often requires a camera. And a time out. Very, very common in houses with children under six years of age. Generally the type of humor found on this blog.

Example: When I went to free Lil’ Sis from her prison crib this morning, I was greeted with smiles and happy chatter by the most cheerful and sweet little creature. And she was stark naked. I noticed that she had unzipped and taken off her footie pajamas then casually removed her diaper and tossed her aside. I should have given her a stern talking to because although the bed was dry today, the odds of that happening every time are VERY slim. But it’s hard to keep a straight face when your baby is grinning at you, naked as a jaybird and proud.

Although children are the most common culprits of this type of humor, spouses are a close second. Especially if you happened to marry someone who finds humor in pushing your buttons.

Example: I had the great idea to take have Mr. Dad take some pictures the other day at the park. Just Mommy and the girls walking hand-in-hand down the path. Unfortunately, I have not seen myself from the rear in a loooonnngg time or I would not have suggested this. Mr. Dad found the angle particularly amusing, and made sure to snap a few shots zoomed in on the parts of me that would have fared better in some maternity Spanx. (This may or may not be related to squeezing large quantities of frosting into my mouth.) Good thing for him I was in a good mood or that could have easily been a FBH.

Funny Way Past My Bedtime (FWPMB)

Generally anything perceived as funny after 11pm or on fewer than six hours of sleep.

Examples here are not worth noting, as they generally make no sense whatsoever.

Funny That’s Just Wrong (FTJW)

A cousin of the FGTKY, FTJW finds humor in situations that elicit guilt from the giggler. Laughing at another person’s FPA or FBH qualifies as a FTJW. As does laughing at pretty much anything on a reality show. It is best not to admit the FTJW humor of a situation in certain company, especially if that company happens to be crying over spilled cranberry juice.

Example: This intolerable act of moral depravity should make me shake my head in wonder at the disintegration of American society. Instead, it made me giggle.

Shame on you, inconsiderate vandals, shame.

In case you can’t read the poorly-spelled and barely-legible defacement of public property, it says Don’t STOP Believing. The mental image of a 40+ year old vandal tagging this sign (the song came out in 1981) made me giggle. But I was informed that the song is a hit with the youth of today, thanks to the folks on Glee. Oh well, it’s still clever. Although, for the record, I remain outraged at the perpetrator’s lack of respect for our public safety. Ahem.

Did I leave out any categories?

Just a Few More Fridays

19 Feb

Whine: I think I may be gestating a hyperactive giraffe. It seems like this kid is all limbs.  It’s a little bit disconcerting to be punched in the stomach, from the inside, when you are enjoying your roast beef dinner. Or when you are sitting in church, tyring to be serious and listen to the sermon but instead keep gasping as your fetal Michael Phelps swims laps back and forth in your belly.

Cheese: I am not crazy. Well, not completely. The sonogram I had this week proves my point, well, except for that part about the giraffe. At 36 weeks, this kid weighs almost seven pounds. Which means if he hangs out for another five weeks like I think he will, he’ll completely skip the Newborn diapers and go directly to Pull-Ups.

Today is Friday. Which means that at 11 am I am in my pajamas, Big Sis has dressed herself up in ladybug costume, and we are all just kinda doing our own thing. We don’t have anywhere to be; noone needs their hair done or their lunch box packed.

I used to hate days like today. The kids wandering around, playing stream-of-consciousness style, guaranteeing that no room in the house will be left unscathed.  But as my kids get older and their social calendars fill more quickly, I work hard to pencil in some nothing time. Repairing the wreckage of an at-home day is still pretty low on the list of My Favorite Things, but having some time to teach these two to like each other and play together is a gift I can’t replace, unlike my carpet which is covered with marker.

I’ve realized in the last few months that our family has kind of found a rhythm. Mondays are fabulously free — two kids at preschool. Tuesday mornings are spent at Bible Study. (With FREE CHILDCARE!! And snacks.) Wednesdays are Mommy Time with Lil’ Sis. Afternoons are Quiet Rest Time (yes!) and Time with Big Sis. In the evenings we eat together, read lots of books and run fast from Mr. Dad who thoroughly enjoys catching and tickling people, even crabby unsuspecting Mommies. We have a pretty good time around here.

And it’s all about to change.

To heck with rhythms, predictability, clean dishes and sleep. We’re having a baby!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled beyond words to have another child. It’s hard to imagine loving this one as deeply and fiercly as I do his sisters, but I know I will. In fact, for a while I’ll probably prefer his sleepy, snuggly, Johnson’s Baby Wash smelling fuzzy little head to their wiggly, inquisitive, occasionally stubborn personas.

But his arrival in our world will mark a big, big change. And change isn’t bad. It’s just, change.

I’ll have to readjust to living my life in a continual 3-hour loop. To being on the edge of a tear-fest most days just because I’m sleepy. To not being able to play with the girls or run to their aid every time they want me (although I’m not doing a lot of running these days as it is.) But I’ll also have to adjust to sleeping on my stomach again (woo hoo!), well, when I’m actually sleeping. And to having a little buddy to carry around in my sling wherever I go. And needing to eat like a horse to feed this kid. Bummer.

The girls will have to adjust to eating a lot of peanut butter crackers (instead of the gourmet hot dogs they ususally get) and entertaining themselves and shhhhhhh being really, really quiet or both Mommy and Brother are going to start screaming.  But they’ll also have to adjust to having a teeny tiny little brother to adore. Who needs lots of kisses and hugs. And to having to help Mommy wash his soft little hair or change his tiny little diapers (just not Newborn size) or cover his feet with cute little socks. 

Mr. Dad will have to adjust to being Mr. Mom. Tending to the girls. Heating up the frozen pizzas I’ve stockpiled for dinner night after night. Keeping up with the dishes I just didn’t manage to get to. Again. Mostly he’ll have to adjust to the different woman I’ll be. You know, different like every ten minutes or whenever the wind shifts. It’s no easy task to share your wife with a greedy little energy-sucker who’s about a hundred times cuter than you are (sorry, babe!). But he’ll also have to adjust to having a son. To priming him as they rock to sleep on the lifetime ERA of Nolan Ryan and the benefits of zone defense.  To schooling him on the virtues of a high-quality bandsaw. And to teaching him that we never hit a girl, even if they did just dress up your Hans Solo action figure in a Cinderella dress.

So I’m just trying to take a moment, this moment, and think about the life I have right now and admit that I’ll miss it a little bit. I think that’s ok, normal even.  I remember when I was in labor with Big Sis, shedding a tear or two in thinking that that was the last time our family would ever just be me and Mr. Dad. And the day before I was induced with Lil’ Sis, that I probably wouldn’t be snuggling Big Sis to bed for a while. And there was just a tiny hint of sadness in those “lasts.”

But in a squalling, screaming moment filled with pushes, tears and Apgar tests, the sadness melted into a the joy of something new. Squishy and strange-looking, but new. Our new family. I can’t wait to meet you, Little Buddy.

Quiet trips to the library? Probably the last of those for a while.

Freaky Friday

16 Feb

Whine: Curse Sonic and their “Limited Time Only” ploy. I was on the verge of making a good decision and settling for a half-price Diet Coke. But then I realized that if I didn’t get the chocolate cherry shake today, I don’t know when I’d get another chance. Limited Time Only, my foot. I fall for it every time.

Cheese: The reason we were at Sonic in the first place is because Lil’ Sis used the potty chair. AT PRESCHOOL. Are you kidding me? What kind of alternate universe is this??? I don’t know, but I think I’ll stay a while. I like it here, it’s very clean and dry.

Speaking of alternate universes, I suppose it’s time to for me to hop on the bandwagon and post my “holy-cow-we’ve-never-seen-this-much-snow pictures.” Let me just say, I grew up in the frozen tundra of the midwest and I know my way around a snowbank, so last Friday was not the first time I’d seen a large amount of snow. But I’ve lived in Texas for almost twenty years now and have got to say that for us that snow was EPIC.

Now I know that while the more southern states were freaking out and cancelling school, the true northerners were probably feeling quite Snowlier Than Thou. My Uncle Dave defines this as “the attitude exhibited by persons of Northern descent towards those that are more snow-challenged after any snowstorm, whether it is one inch or three feet. Usually accompanied by eye-rolling and mocking laughter.” Don’t deny it, yous guys, you know you were.

But I sure didn’t care who was rolling their eyes or laughing, I got to play with my kids in the snow!! I have such fond memories of sledding and skiing and building snowmen and eating snow (the white stuff only), and I felt such joy at getting to let them in on what winter is actually like.

Until it was time to get ready to go outside.

First, I made sure everyone had gone potty. Those layers are a beast to peel off in case of a tinkle emergency. Then I put three layers of pants on each person, me included, which ensured that I looked like a whale who was seriously off course. Then we went for the coats, hats, gloves, scarves, etc. Which left all of us in pretty good shape. Except for the feet. Noone in Texas owns snow boots. We hardly have close-toed shoes let alone waterproof boots. I was tempted to cover the kids’ feet in plastic bags, but the fact that we’d already spent 30 minutes bundling up won out and we headed out with our inadequate footwear.

The "before" shot. You can tell because noone is crying yet.

My first order of business was to teach the girls about snow angels before the snowy yard became covered in tiny footprints. I showed them how you carefully plop down on your bottom. Then you lean back and swoosh your arms and legs across the snow. And then you gingerly get up so as not to disturb your angelic silhouette. Except I forgot to factor in one tiny detail.

I am eight months pregnant.

So there I am lying face up in a heap of snow, stuck on my back like a very unfortunate and bloated turtle. My kids are not too compassionate, mostly they are laughing at me flailing around in my eight layers of clothing as I try to return to an upright position. Forget not disturbing the angelic silhouette. I just needed to get up. I finally rolled over onto my knees and hoofed myself up, but not before making a note to myself about who should and should not do snow angels.

At that point Big Sis had taken enough direction on how to enjoy the snow and proceeded to spend the next thirty minutes engineering a snowman. Lil’ Sis spent the same 30 minutes whining, fretting  and crying. Girlfriend does not like to be cold. She finally stopped fussing and found a suitable activity. Walking next to the curb, dragging her feet through the three inches of slush. In her mary janes. Whatever.

Looks like fun, doesn't it?

Two jolly, happy souls.

The next day was even better though. First, because we got a bunch more snow. And second, cause Mr. Dad had the morning off. So we went through our layering ritual, stuffed the fluffy children into their carseats and headed to a nearby school. Then we went sledding.

What do a plastic swimming pool, a tabletop, a garbage bag and a laundry basket have in common?

Yep, you’re right. They double for a sled when you are in a pinch. We slid down that tiny hill about a hundred times. I’m not sure who had the most fun, although I can guarantee you it wasn’t Lil’ Sis, who again spent most of her outdoor time railing against the cruelty of Old Man Winter.  I feel sorry for that girl if she ever has to live where forty degrees is a mild winter. And as luck would have it, she’ll probably marry a Canadian.

But Mr. Dad and I had a blast sledding down that hill long after Big Sis lost interest. I felt a tad foolish, a grown woman who couldn’t even use her kids as an excuse for sledding down that hill again, cause one was off crying and the other building yet another snow man. But hey, we get this much snow down here once every lifetime, so I was not going to let feeling sheepish stand in my way. Even when I fell off the sled at the bottom and couldn’t get up.

Lil' Sis did not find this amusing.

By Saturday most of the snow had melted, we had used our annual bundle of firewood and the heavy coats and scarves had been returned to the back corner of the closet. And I was glad. I used to think I missed the snow. But now I know the truth: two days a year of the stuff is plenty for me. If I need more than that I’ll book a flight to Canada.

Sometimes Love Means Buying Your Own Flowers

12 Feb

Whine: I just spent 2+ hours in our local specialty grocery store with two little kids and high-heeled boots (hey, they were the only twelve-inches-of-snow-appropriate footwear I could find). By the time we exited Lil’ Sis had mauled an apple –I’ve never seen such carnage this side of applesauce.  She also alternated between sweetly saying “Thank you, Lady” or “Hi, Sir” and screaming/growling/roaring at me and the general public.  That’ll teach me to try and shop during naptime.

Cheese: That store is faaaaannnncy. I bought lots of yummy things for tomorrow’s Valentine’s Feast, including some cheese, of course. Queso Blanco with Serrano Chiles and Epazole. Like I know what epazole is. For what I paid, I sure hope I like it.

Valentine’s Day. Some people love it. Some people loathe it. Many people fear it — forgetful men and commitment phobes, especially.  Lots of people let it pass by like any other day.

I’ve been at pretty much every stage with this day. I remember one very special year when I decided to commemorate the (lack of) love in my life by wearing black. I remember lots of years trying really hard not to care. And then I snagged Mr. Dad.

When we were first together, I loved Valentine’s Day. Mr. Dad’s mother raised him right and taught him how to choose a schmaltzy card and some nice flowers. Which probably had something to with the fact that her first Valentine’s Day card from Mr. Dad’s dad was presented to her all those years ago unsigned in the brown grocery sack he’d just run in and bought it in while she waited in the car.

But after a year or two things changed. I wouldn’t say the romance wore off. I’d say I got more picky. I didn’t want a bunch of roses that he’d picked up on his way home from the tent in the grocery store parking lot. I wanted him to have thought about his overwhelming love for me and found a way to express that through flowers, gifts and handwritten cards, but without breaking the bank. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

One year, my expectations hit fever pitch. I spent all day long choosing a new outfit and perfect accessories to wear on what Mr. Dad had assured me would be a magical surprise date. Then I got home and began to get ready and realized that we weren’t going anywhere. Mr. Dad was making dinner for two in our apartment. And this was no hotdogs and macaroni feast. No, if I remember correctly, it involved steak, steamed crab legs and chocolate-covered strawberries.

And I was disappointed.

I know, I know, I know. Go ahead and make a dartboard from my picture. I was a terribly foolish and ungrateful woman. But I had spent all day choosing the perfect outfit so I’d look just right. I needed to go out. To be seen. Honestly, I had been planning on going out. And we all know how I do when the plan changes.

We somehow survived the Valentine’s Debacle of ’02. Dinner that night was delicious. (Score another point for Mr. Dad’s mom, who apparently passed down some of her kitchen skills to her eldest son.) And we learned a few things about us. Mostly that I like to be in charge. Surprise, surprise.

Fast forward a few years and things are a little different. Tomorrow night’s Valentine’s celebration, will, in fact be a dinner for two served at home. I planned the menu, and incidentally, steak and steamed crab legs are on the menu. I bought all the ingredients. And since I was the one who was going to be at the faaaaannnncy store today, I bought my own flowers. Well, I bought myself one flower; they really hike those prices around this time of year. Plus, I’d rather spend my V-day budget on steak and chocolate strawberries than flowers.

Lots of people spend lots of time stressing about Valentine’s Day. Lots of guys have been in Mr. Dad’s shoes. Trying their best to get the right thing and still managing to strike out, standing outside the locked bathroom door trying to understand just what was so wrong with the box of generic chocolates and the card that had no personal message, just his signature. (Hey, at least it was signed.) Lots of girls have been in my shoes. Locked in the bathroom, wondering if he actually really loves her or not, because if he did surely he’d know that tulips are her favorite flowers and that chocolate upsets her stomach.

At a wedding I once heard the officiant give the best advice I’d ever heard given to a groom. He said, “Become a student of your wife.” And that, in my personal opinion, is what Valentine’s Day, what Love, boils down to. It’s about knowing someone and being known. And in that place of vulnerable trust, being loved anyway.

I’m not saying Mr. Dad and I have it all figured out. And I’m not saying I love him perfectly or he me. I chastised him just yesterday after he worked all day out in the snow then stopped on his way home for a few groceries for buying four more items than I requested. I may never learn. 

But you know what? He knows that I am, ahem, a little tightly wound. That I do my best to take care of our house, our budget, our kids, and that sometimes a little change in plans is a hard thing for me to assimilate. So he smiles (ok, maybe his teeth are gritted), offers me a little grace and goes on his way.

And you know what else? I know that he (somewhat inexplicably) is happiest when he can be with me. Sitting on the couch watching dvr and playing backgammon. Perhaps enjoying a bowl of ice cream. Even though he does love them Cowboys (and Mavericks and Baylor Bears), when it comes down to it, he likes to be with me. Even though I’m me. Or because I’m me. Imagine that.

And so when Valentine’s Day rolls around these days what I need from him is not a box of chocolates I won’t eat or a dozen roses that I’ll forget to water.  What I need is to know that he knows me and that he loves me. Which means I’d rather have him spend his time emptying the dishwasher without my asking than running around town trying to find just the right card. And I’d rather be home with him, eating a meal we cooked together (that I planned, of course) than out for a fancy night at the opera. But mostly because we both hate opera.

One flower for each of his girls. Who cares if I had to buy them? It's the thought that counts.

The Evil Twin

10 Feb

Whine: I’m mourning the loss of Big Sis’ afternoon nap. For one because she’s not used to it and whines from afternoon until bedtime. And now during what used to be Mommy Time (read: sit on the couch and recover from the morning), I am the Chief Entertainer and Supplier of Really Fun Stuff. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Cheese: At least she falls asleep well before midnight now. I guess it really was time to drop that nap.

Some mornings I wake up and I just know. That if I know what’s good for me, I will not pass go, I will not collect $200. I will put my sweatpants back on, turn on cartoons, throw some cheerios at the children, then hastily go lock myself in my room before they eat me alive.

But I don’t. Even though I see the evil glint in their eyes when they wake up. The same adorably precious little angels I tucked in last night have somehow transformed from my sweet little Honey Bunnies into the Trolls that Live Under the Bridge – albeit very cute trolls, but ones with a nasty bite to match their bark.

I’m speaking, of course, about the phenomenon of the Evil Twin.

There are mornings when I know that one, or heaven forbid, both of my darlings have been replaced by their cranky, horrible counterparts. How do I know? Oh, I just follow the clues.

Generally every word out of my mouth (horribly offensive things like “Good Morning, Sweetie.” and “How was your sleep?”) incites a firestorm of shrieks and cries. Oatmeal for breakfast is the Worst! Thing! that has ever happened in the history of the world. And the sky is the wrong color and clearly it’s all my fault.

On days like this, getting anywhere is next to impossible. Every request for compliance is met with the stamping of feet too tiny and cute to be capable of such rebellion. And the task of getting out the door and into the car (let alone with coat and shoes on) requires a certified mediator and a two-pound bag of M&Ms (one pound for my sanity, one pound for bribing).

Dealing with an Evil Twin requires lots of patience, compassion and a hidden stockpile of goodies that they can’t see or reach.

Recently I went to pick up Big Sis from preschool. In an uncharacteristic response to my usual “How was her day?” the teacher paused and looked directly into my eyes, which was definitely not a good sign. And just as she was midway through explaining that my darling dear had had the worst day at school that she has ever had, I yelp in pain. Lil’ Sis, who I was holding on my hip, had inexplicably just taken that moment to bite me. That little twerp bit me. Out of the blue with no provocation. I took both Evil Twins, now crying from being reprimanded, set them firmly on their behinds in the hallway, and went back to the teacher to hear the rest of the grisly bad-day details.

Well, come to find out the next day after a trip to our trusty pediatrician, I had nasty double ear infections to thank for the appearance of my Evil Twins.

Sometimes there are ear infections or a bad night’s sleep to blame. And on those days it’s at least a little bit easier to have some compassion or to give an extra hug even though they fight it tooth and nail. But other times there is no discernable cause for the emergence of an Evil Twin, and I have to grit my teeth and pray, oh how I pray, that God will keep me from eating my own young.

But I have to admit that as much as I dread the Evil Twin days, I have them myself. Days when I wake up knowing that if someone so much as lets the fizz out of my morning Diet Coke I’m going to yell, then cry, then do everything in my power to keep it together for another twenty minutes or until someone brings me a new Diet Coke.

So on days like this, I’m glad to have Mr. Dad, my kids and my friends to give me some compassion and extra hug even though I usually fight it tooth and nail. Although most of the time, I don’t have a good reason.  I mean, I haven’t had an ear infection in like, twenty-five years.

She looks harmless enough, but don't stick your finger in the cage. She bites.

Introducing: Tiny Tura

5 Feb

Whine: We are currently on Day 4 of Extreme Makeover: Oral Fixation Edition. Meaning no more pacifier for Lil’ Sis and no more sucking her fingers for Big Sis. Neither sister has found this process very enjoyable. At all. Lil’ Sis is currently voicing her displeasure from her crib. Putting her down for a nap used to take about a minute and a half. Now it takes an hour and a half. Sigh, the things we do for their own good usually stink for us, don’t they?

Cheese: The OB told me the baby is facing head down, so that’s a good thing, I guess. And it explains the painfully sharp sensations I’ve been feeling. Apparently this kid enjoys headbutting his Mommy. He’ll fit right in around here.

The REAL cheese, for today however, is that our family has a brand new member. Allow me to introduce my niece, Victoria:

I'm not sure whether I want to snuggle her or gobble her up. Both, definitely both.

She was born on Wednesday after putting her dear, sweet mother through a month of labor. And I am not kidding about that, people, I swear she started giving her Mommy contractions in late December. But I suppose there are perks to doing that kind of prep, since she only took two hours at the hospital to arrive.

Mr. Dad and I took the girls up there to meet their new cousin when she was just a few hours old. Although Victoria’s Mommy strongly discourages nicknames (i.e., just try calling her “Vicky” and see what happens), even she thought it was pretty cute when Lil’ Sis dubbed her new cousin “Tiny Tura.”  We felt really privileged to hold and kiss and snuggle such a fresh little creature. But I think we sorely underwhelmed her, as she just kept yawning the whole time we were there. Apparently we are old news. Either that or being born in under two hours is REALLY TIRING.

Victoria and Lahdee

Victoria and her cousin. He'll be head-butting her and pulling her pigtails before we know it.

 I’ve gotta give props to her Mama for having flawless makeup after giving birth with no drugs (I know, are you kidding me??). And to her Daddy for, well, whatever it is that Daddy’s do while the Mama is doing all the work.

Welcome, Victoria! We’re so glad to have you in our family!!

Lil’ Sis, Victoria and her Big Sis Elizabeth

It’s the Little Things

2 Feb

Whine: Had an unfortunate “streaking” experience today at church. Meaning that Big Sis took herself to the restroom (All! By! Herself!) and when she needed assistance, came running out of the restroom and across the foyer (did I mention that the “foyer” is a big open space covered with glass windows that face directly into the parking lot?) with her pants closer to her knees than to her bottom. Luckily almost everyone had cleared out before the “full moon” appeared.

Cheese: Didn’t you read the last paragraph? She went to the restroom all by herself, well, almost. I’ll take that (with or without the full moon) any day of the week.

I am a housewife. A stay-at-home-mom. A domestic engineer, if you will. Yet since I began this career over four years ago, I have had a chronically cluttered house. More days than not I’ve lived with the fear that my laundry pile may actually get taller than me, grow arms and legs and suffocate me in my sleep (although the arms and legs would not be necessary, as the smell of sweaty socks is usually sufficient for suffocation.) Attempts to make dinner often forced me to trek across my sticky kitchen floor that could double as flypaper only to arrive at a fridge whose distant regions were best left alone. And my dishes. Usually piled in the sink, sometimes rinsed off, growing until my choice was to load the dishwasher (which was only eighteen inches away) or call in a Hazmat team.

Oh, I somehow managed to restore order every so often, so that when invited guests arrived, I at least looked like someone who believed Louie Pasteur’s germ theory. But spontaneous visits by friends often elicited many apologies and a strong “enter at your own risk” warning.

The stress of having to hide my laundry in the guest room and hope that noone ever looked too deeply into my fridge drove me crazy. I always wanted to be like my clean friends, what with their clean laundry and empty sinks, but I’m just not one of “those people.” I’ve tried a million times to “get my act together” and to no avail. I run out of steam after just a few days of trying to be something I’m not (i.e., perfect).

And then over Christmas, I had a conversation with one of “those people.” You know, the friend who always remembers your birthday, always sends a thank-you note within days of receiving a gift, and generally doesn’t eat soup straight from the can for lunch. Luckily I’ve known and loved this friend since high school (i.e., the time of braces, bangs and marching band), so I know she likes me even though we’re, well, different. In the course of our conversation that night she made a passing remark about how she runs her dishwasher every night before she goes to bed.

The conversation quickly moved on to other more interesting topics, but a little light went on in my brain. She runs her dishwasher every night? What if it’s not full? How can she run it if she knows that she could probably jam two more sippy cups in there if she was creative? I do not understand.

But I went home that night and decided that I would make January “clean dishes” month. I didn’t make a New Year’s Resolution, because mine usually involve overhauling every aspect of my life so that I can be Supergirl’s better looking older sister.  I just decided to try this new idea every day in January. I even made a chart, so I could check off the days. Because checking things off makes me happy. And if, after the month was over I had succeeded in my new venture, I would give myself a reward.

Which is embarrassing. I’m thirty-two years old and I needed a reward to wash my dishes.

But you know what? It worked. Instead of getting ready to make dinner, then, being rebuffed by the stack of dirty dishes and ordering out, I could walk into my kitchen and actually make dinner. And what I walked away from this month knowing is that most of the time, it’s the little things that count.

A little remark made in conversation. A little more effort toward running my dishwashwer regularly. Little things that have changed a lot of bigger things. Now the whole house stays cleaner because I’m not overwhelmingly paralyzed by the menacing glares from the row of stinky sippy cups. Now we eat out a lot less because I can find my frying pan clean and in its rightful place instead of as a storage receptacle for old bacon grease. Now we enjoy being at home because sitting in the living room doesn’t seem to involve rearranging large piles of stuff to make a space. Isn’t that interesting?

But if I had resolved to keep the whole house clean in January (or heaven forbid, for the year), the first time I fell off the wagon, which would have been almost immediately, I would have chucked the whole idea and given up. So instead of trying to be perfect, I decided to do what I can.

Little things. They really add up. I have a lot more to say about this topic, but in the spirit of little things, I’m going to stop here and pick up where I left off another day.