It was a slightly harried morning for at least part of the treadmilling around family, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The children both slept through the entire night in their own beds, which frankly is a rare occurrence and one to be celebrated (so YAY!). I managed to get ready for work, pack for the business trip I will be flying out for this evening, and get the kids sitting contently at the table with pop tarts (The Boy accepted the generic pop tart this morning if and only if his was TOASTED) and milk all before 7 am. I sat down with the kids and ate my bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch (seriously yummy cereal that manages to keep me satisfied with no grumbling tummy until noonish), and the kids shouted different silly words across the table. I still don’t understand why it is funny to say “Bip,” but it is. I also don’t really understand why the game we’ve titled Broken-OR-Fixed is such a laugh riot, but it is too. I’m going to digress for a moment to describe the game so you aren’t at a disadvantage: 3.5 year old holds up whatever food item he has in front of him, and asks you “Broken or fixed?” You size it up and respond appropriately, 3.5 year old says “yeah that’s right!” Repeat until food item is completely ingested. The game works especially well with spaghetti (NO SAUCE Mommy!), but almost any food item can be substituted. The Girl has caught on to this game too, she will come out with “bow-ken o fix” out of nowhere sometimes, it is really fun to have a parrot in residence.

Anyway, back to my morning…I cleaned up my dishes from breakfast and was about to herd the kids out of the dining room, when The Girl dropped her milk glass on the floor (silly Mommy gives her a glass cup because she is tired of plastic sippy cups), it shattered of course, and The Boy jumped up to help. Barefoot Boy was directed back to his chair while I cleaned the mess. No biggie, I didn’t even swear, though I might have said “Shoot,” and I wonder where The Boy picks up his non-swear swear words. I got the kids dressed, off to daycare, and even made an extra trip home to pick up a supply of diapers for The Girl to have at daycare (the advantages to living 2 blocks from daycare). Our DCP forgot to tell my DH that The Girl was out of diapers at pick-up yesterday, but I figured something was off when I changed a size 6 diaper off of her size 4 butt last night. I completely spaced until I said goodbye to the kids at daycare, and then confirmed with our DCP that The Girl was in fact out of diapers. I made it to work a tiny bit later than I’d like, but given that I’m flying out for work this evening not a big deal.

It wasn’t until after I’d been at work for nearly an hour that I realized The Girl had managed to slime my head with pop tart slime. My hair was caked with gooey strawberry goodness. There used to be a time when I would have noticed that right away, and even washed my hair. Today, I didn’t notice right away, and upon discovery simply picked the sticky stuff out of my hair and went on with work. I am actually so far over to the dark side that little reminders like pop tart hair and baby socks in my shirt sleeve make me smile and think fondly of my children. I can still vividly recall the day I was sitting at work after The Boy was born thinking that I could smell his baby smell lingering with me. It wasn’t until after lunch that day that I realized I smelled his formula/breastmilk spit-up in my hair.


Swedish Fish

It was a nice weekend for us, one that involved very little time away from home. The kids had a blast playing in our newly fallen snow. DH had a blast building a snow fort for the kids. I got a bunch of chores out of the way, and learned that our new dryer venting path is amazing. The dryer now vents just a short distance from its physical location, which resulted in dramatically reduced drying times for our clothes. Clothes were dry before the next load was done in the washer. It was simply amazing. I finished all of the laundry before my 2 pm naptime trip to Target. I should mention that I started earlier than normal because The Boy had an accident in his sleep…too bad he was sleeping right next to me. I think that was a first for me, waking up because someone else wet my bed. Anyway, despite the potty disaster it was still a nice day yesterday and all in all a great weekend.

The no TV before daycare plan is still holding steady. The kids did watch half of an episode of Wonder Pets, and an entire episode of The Backyardigans Saturday morning though. Of course they watched those episodes on Noggin, and as we all know Noggin is Preschool on TV, so no harm done (Fairly Odd Mother’s recent post had me thinking about the Noggin thing). They also watched the bulk of a Sesame Street episode on either PBS or Sprout Sunday morning. I should emphasize that I am not out to eliminate all television from their lives, and I don’t think an hour or more per day on the weekends is a bad thing. I just want my weekday morning routine to run more smoothly, and right now no TV is helping me achieve that goal.

I think it has been harder for me to give up my morning computer fix, than it has been for the kids to give up TV. They literally have not even noticed that something is different in their routine. Well, that isn’t entirely true; I bought generic pop tarts (frosted strawberry) and The Boy wasn’t fooled. He started eating his pop tart this morning, stopped and said “Mommy, what kind of pop tart is this?” I responded that it was a strawberry pop tart. He squished up his face and said “I don’t like this kind of pop tart,” and wouldn’t finish eating it. I didn’t taste it, but I can’t imagine it tastes all that differently from his normal sugary breakfast treat. It did have different edges than a Kellogg’s Pop Tart though, so perhaps that was his clue. The Girl happily chomped away, so at least they aren’t a complete waste. I only bought the Archer Farms toaster pastries because they were so much cheaper than the Kellogg’s version. I figured there was no possible way he would notice the difference. I guess he has discerning tastes! I mentioned the snub to our DCP this morning, and she recounted the time she had tried to pass off organic pop tarts on her son, he was not amused. Kellogg’s must really know what they are doing!

I managed to get two happy, smiling kids off to daycare this morning, with not a single protest. Of course, much of that can be credited to the fact that I presented each of them with a small baggie of Swedish Fish as a bribe to get them herded into the mudroom and in their boots. We all have our parenting crutches somewhere, and mine often involve gummy candies. Oh well, we can’t all be perfect can we? At least they were Swedish Fish; I am making them multi-cultural with candy!


What do you want in your life?

You will have to forgive me if I am becoming new-agey, but I watched an Oprah show a few weeks ago about “The Secret,” and I just can’t get it out of my head. I only saw the last ten or fifteen minutes of the show as I was running on my treadmill after work. However, it was a powerful fifteen minutes, and it really stuck with me (I also recorded and watched the entire follow-up show Oprah had last week). I’m not going to go into exactly what “The Secret” is, you can google away and find it pretty quickly if you so choose. There are lots of positive affirmations involved, and much focused time and energy on whatever it is you want in your life.

The one thing that really sticks with me is that focusing on the negative aspects of your life only gives them more power. My morning routine is a great example of this. I don’t know how many times I have complained that I hate getting the kids ready and off to daycare, I hate how much they struggle with me, I hate that I end up being completely exhausted by the time I step in the door to daycare, I hate, I hate, I hate. The problem with this is that it was basically a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was constantly complaining about it, and it continued to be dreadful day after day, I did nothing to actively change the situation. However, with this week’s great no TV before daycare experiment and my new resolve not to get sucked into my laptop in the morning, things are better. I actually sat down at the table with the kids this morning (and yesterday) and we all ate breakfast together. The kids behaved because they had my full attention (no need to spill your cereal all over the floor if Mom is already paying attention to you). It was nice, The Boy helped me put the dishes in the dishwasher afterwards, and we all headed into the mudroom to put on boots, jackets, hats, and mittens to be on our way.

It makes complete sense to me that these subtle changes would have a big impact on my kids. They are good kids, but they certainly feed off of my stress levels. If I am in a bad mood, they sense it, and they respond to me in the same foul way I respond to them. Why do I expect anything different? I feel like I’ve had an awakening, or an “aha moment.”

The follow-up Oprah show featured two of the experts behind “The Secret” answering questions and providing additional guidance on the topic. One member of the audience asked “How do I know what I want?” The response was that she could most likely very easily list all of the things she didn’t like in her life or wanted to change. The power in the Secret is to use positives rather than negatives though, so each negative would need to be flipped to a positive. For example, I want to lose weight, which focuses on the negative aspects; should be “I want to be healthy and fit.”

I took the time to write my list, and then shared it with my spouse. It really brought into sharp focus where my priorities need to be in my life. I’m not going to share my entire list with you because I’m just not ready to do that, but a few of the things on my list are here:

  • Feel closer and more connected to my spouse
  • Feel confident about myself
  • Feel healthy and fit
  • I want clearly marked areas for all things in my house
  • I want my children to use their imaginations more
  • I want my kids to know they are important and valued
  • I want set routines so the mornings go smoothly

I started out with 19 negatives and 14 positive statements, and with some sorting and consolidating came up with a list of 25 or so things I want in my life. I have never been as awake as I am right now. Who would have guessed that simply watching a little Oprah while getting in my daily run would have such a profound impact on my life?


The great no-TV-before-daycare-experiment, Day 4

Today was morning number four of the great no TV for the kids before leaving for daycare experiment. I wish I could really take credit for thinking of it, but really it happened by fluke. I just didn’t turn on the TV Monday morning. On my way to work that morning I reflected about how much easier it had been to drag the kids out of the house and off to daycare. A thought occurred to me, that maybe, just maybe, the TV watching which I thought was making my life easier was actually further complicating it. Many days I end up coercing The Boy into turning off the television, or just turning it off myself and facing the tantrum that ensued. Many days I was annoyed by not being able to catch a glimpse at the weather forecast because our TV was set to Little Einsteins on Disney or Caillou on Sprout, but I just lived with it. As I was reflecting about the ease of my Monday morning (perhaps it was partially glee at being able to have some kid-free time after a solo weekend away with them), I decided to see what happened if the kids just didn’t watch television in the morning.

I am not sure what I expected out of the little experiment. I did expect some reaction from the kids. However, there has been no reaction. They haven’t even noticed that television is missing from their daily routine (no I haven’t pointed it out to them). I can’t say that every morning this week has been a joy, but we haven’t had any arguments over watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse pleeeeease before heading out. I’m not sure how far I will push my luck, but my hope is to avoid morning television even on weekends. I’m not sure how strong my resolve will be when one of them wakes at 5:30 am on a weekend, and I want to use television to baby-sit while I catch a few extra Z’s on the couch. Only time will tell.

The bigger picture here is that there are certain things I do that make my life more difficult. I tend to check my internet message boards obsessively, and often boot up the computer before work (even when running late!) to do so. The flipside is that I hate being late, and I hate feeling rushed, so why do I do it? While the kids are giving up television in the morning, I am giving up my morning message board fix. There is no reason for me to feel rushed in the morning simply because I had to turn on the computer and check three websites. I need to feel rushed because sometimes it is hard to get two kids dressed, fed (only if they insist), in coats, hats, mittens, and boots, and strapped into carseats. I cannot complain about how harried my morning routine is if I am doing things to actively make my mornings harder. Is it really fair for me to tell The Boy that he has to hurry when he just sat next to me on the couch for 20 minutes watching television while I checked online? No, I suppose it isn’t.

I don’t want to be that Mom who is always yelling at her kids, I want my kids to know that they are important and valued. I do have the power to change things, and when I really looked at the situation I saw that most of my frustration was a direct result of things under my control. It is more than just no television in the mornings; it is about actively working to make things better. Accepting that something is difficult gets us nowhere; looking at things with a critical eye and taking actions to correct them will make a big difference.


Studio 60

Why is it that whenever they create a smart, funny, entertaining drama it gets cancelled almost immediately now? I have enjoyed Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip more than almost any other show on television this season, but now I read rumors that it will be cancelled? I’m sure it will be replaced with a crap reality show that I will blatantly refuse to watch, or perhaps a game show that I also won’t even hesitate on for more than two seconds. I’m not sure how they select Nielsen families, but the ratings system needs to be drastically revamped. I don’t watch shows the night they air, I watch them days later when I can squeeze it into my family life, and I know there are many other DVRing families just like mine out there. It used to be that there were many shows we wanted to record, now there is just a handful. It is getting easier and easier for me to give up television without even really wanting to. I won’t watch something simply because it is better than anything else on the air (well HGTV is the exception, but I am even getting tired of that).

I love that Studio 60 has a storyline that is making fun of reality TV. I feel like I have a voice out there because my hatred for that crap TV is echoed back to me on a show with good writing! I’ll admit that I only started watching Studio 60 because of all of the players who were previously associated with perhaps the best television show ever to air (The West Wing), but it is good in its own right. Honestly, I’m still not over The West Wing ending. How on earth ER, a show I used to watch religiously more than 5 years ago, can continue on the air in its now perpetual state of crapiness while The West Wing was cancelled is beyond me. Why NBC doesn’t promote the hell out of the best show in its lineup is a complete mystery. Studio 60 is a damn good show, and the boneheads are going to ditch it because the executives are too stupid to understand it, or do understand that it is painting them in a very negative light and it makes them quake in their boots.

Perhaps I am just too na├»ve to understand it. Clearly I am not the target audience anymore. Perhaps they could create another Law and Order series because each new addition to that line just seems to get worse, or perhaps there could be a spin-off from Deal or No Deal, or another flavor of The Apprentice. It doesn’t matter to me, I won’t be watching anymore. I really thought that reality television was a fad, and that it would pass, but it hasn’t. They keep creating more and more, and apparently the masses keep watching it. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised; I thought there was no way our current president would be elected (I still don’t concede that he was elected the first time, so therefore in my mind he was never reelected), but he was. I am not implying that everyone who voted for Georgie likes reality TV, or that everyone who likes reality TV likes Georgie, it is just becoming clear to me that I am not a target advertisers are aiming for in more ways than one.

I do think that the best way to kill off network television is to keep targeting shows to the lowest common denominator. Eventually many more people will walk away. For now, I’ll enjoy the rest of the season, and hope that my few other favorites will hang on for a while. Perhaps one day the network execs will wake up, I can only hope.


Okay, I'll admit it

I’m just going to come right out with it today; I don’t like playing cars with my children. I also don’t like playing random dialogue games with people-like toy figures. I especially don’t like having to come up with random dialogue for the people-like figures. The Boy used to be so self-sufficient. He would entertain himself for long minutes without intervention from a parent; now that he has a built-in playmate for a sister he seems to need more intervention. I thought The Girl was supposed to cure us of actually having to interact with our children. Damn. I was wrong. It seems as though the presence of a playmate has just further hastened the idea that The Boy needs an accomplice to his play. I try my best to play with the kids, but I typically end up bored after less than five minutes. What is worse is that The Boy gets mad at me for “playing wrong.” I mean sometimes if you just make Doc and Ramon say the “wrong” things The Boy is sent into a tizzy. God forbid if you don’t follow Mack and Lightning McQueen at just the right time, all while crawling along the floor on your knees, and do not ever just push one of the cars so it drives solo, that is forbidden! My new tactic is to tell The Boy to play by himself for 5 minutes and then I will play with him. My secret hope is that he will get wrapped up in his own play and forget about my promise (sadly that has yet to happen). I had also hoped that The Girl would be a useful playmate, but it turns out that when they play together one of them ends up in tears and something to the effect of “but she just took that from me!” is screamed at me. Kind of makes me want to have a third child, just to see how much craziness I am capable of enduring...okay not really.

Someone please tell me it is okay for me to hate playing cars.


He knows the drill

A 2.5 hour drive somehow seems much longer when you are transporting two kids under the age of 4. Thankfully the new dual screen DVD player we purchased for the minivan makes the trip seem short again. We managed the entire return trip without even stopping for a potty break, all thanks to The Heffalump Movie, and Toy Story 2 (and The Boy’s bladder of steel). Necessity? No. Worth every penny? Yes!

As we drove to daycare this morning, The Boy was working through the absence of his new beloved gadgets, and it went something like this:

The Boy: We only have the DVDs when we are going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house?
Me: Yes, only when we go on long trips
The Boy: Maybe when we go to XX Grandma and Grandpa’s house?
Me: Yes, when we go to XX Grandma and Grandpa’s house we will have the DVD player
The Boy: Yes, we will have the DVDs when we go to XX, to YY, and to ZZ! Right?
Me: Yes, that is right
The Boy: When we go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house we will take the van, not your car Mommy.
Me: Yes

He knows the drill.


I just didn't want feet

Last night after the kids had been in bed for close to an hour, and DH and I were both sitting in the living room watching the DVR’d episode of The Office, we heard footsteps upstairs. Then we saw the hall light flick on, and then the bathroom light turned on, and of course we heard The Boy going potty. He is fairly self-sufficient when he needs to be, but I figured the bathroom visit would require at least some intervention from me. DH told me to leave him alone, but I couldn’t resist. The lights had turned off, and it sounded like he had made his way back to bed, but I needed to check. I went upstairs and found The Boy under his covers and completely naked. I went to the bathroom to look for his wayward pajamas, but didn’t see them. I also didn’t see his pajamas on the floor of his bedroom, so I was a bit confused. I asked him where his pjs were, and he responded that he “just wanted Buzz Lightyear.” He has a pair of Buzz Lightyear pjs, so I figured he just wanted to change, why he was in bed naked I have no idea. It still didn’t explain the absence of the pjs he was wearing at bedtime. Eventually he pointed me to his dresser drawer, where I found his discarded pjs, right next to the Buzz Lightyear jammies. The mystery was where his underwear had gone, he eventually pointed me to the pants drawer of his dresser, and there were his bright orange Diego underwear safe and sound.

He had been wearing footed pajamas, and he explained to me that he “didn’t want feet.” I helped him get dressed in his Buzz Lightyear pajamas, tucked him back in and he went to sleep. This was the second time this week he had gotten out of bed to change out of his footed pajamas. The last time, I found him in the morning wearing mismatched pajamas, and he told me “I just didn’t want feet.” I suppose I should take the hint already and put the footed-too-small pajamas in the outgrown bin. DH and I had a pretty good laugh about our naked boy. I can only imagine what is going on in his head, but it is so entertaining to witness the results of his mind spinning around!


Nothing says "I love you" like being touched with goat hide strips

This morning as I was herding the children out of the house and into the car, The Boy asked me if today was Valentine’s Day. I had just handed him his Disney Cars Valentines that he had painstakingly signed for his friends at daycare, so that was his first clue. I told him that yes today is Valentine’s Day. Then he asked me why. I told him today was February 14th, and Valentine’s Day is always on February 14th. He then asked me how I knew it was Valentine’s Day, to which I responded that I had looked at the calendar and knew today was February 14th, and thus Valentine’s Day. He got quiet for a moment, and hopped up into his carseat, and continued to press the issue. I think he finally accepted my response when I had basically repeated the same answer to him 3 times, but I don’t think he quite understands the concept of dates yet. I’m not too worried about it though, I’m sure that will come soon enough, it must be happier just living in a world with no deadlines!

The conversation did get me thinking about the history of Valentine’s Day though. I stumbled upon the following on the history channel’s website:

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial -- which probably occurred around 270 A.D -- others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'Christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. The boys then sliced the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14, St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman 'lottery' system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed.

Now you can not complain about the “Hallmark holiday” nature of Valentine’s Day, and even if you don’t get anything from your significant other, just be thankful that you weren’t touched with goat hide strips today!


The remodeling journey part 2

In case you were wondering, I decided to just skip creating a blog completely devoted to our remodeling journey. Instead, I will just mix it all up in here. Frankly, I am far too lazy to try to keep up with two blogs, so there!

We have begun the process of finishing off a new bathroom, a workout room, and a utility room in the unfinished portion of our basement. We got quotes from two different mainstream contractors, and then one from our Daycare provider’s DH. Ultimately DH decided that all of the bids were too high, and that he would just work with our daycare provider’s DH to complete the project. Thankfully this means that our contractor will be doing most of the work, but DH gets to help occasionally when he has the time. The new walls are mostly framed already; I was amazed at how quickly things started to take shape. Today I believe our contractor is tearing up a spot of concrete floor to move the existing bathroom vent to a better location. The project is moving slowly for now since we don’t really have a firm deadline. The project will not include flooring (except maybe tile in the bathroom) or finished ceilings at this point since we need to leave the ceilings open for the main floor remodel.

The main floor remodel is slowly chugging along as well. We have not begun the project, but we have chosen a contractor from the 3 estimates/bids we received. The next step is to work towards finalizing the design. We still have some open questions/issues with the plan we have, so we will work with the contractor’s designers to push forward. I have a feeling that many more questions will arise before we feel content with the plan, but this is no small investment for us and we want to get it right. Thankfully DH has taken the lead on this project, and is handling most of the details. If not for him pushing it through I am quite sure we would still be in the contemplation stage. The thought is that we will begin construction “in the spring.” I’m sure we will be looking for offers for home cooked meals during the 3-4 months we are without a kitchen.


Treadmill violation

I came home from work yesterday, just like I do any other Monday. I generally skip a long lunch at work so that I can get home before DH and the kids in order to run on the treadmill before they get home. It might not be the ideal solution, but the alternative of waking up at 5 AM to run, just hasn’t seemed palatable to me for the last few years. My routine is to get the mail, throw 99% of the mail directly into the trash because it is inevitably junk mail, put away my work gear (lunch cooler bag, the messenger bag I carry my laptop in, etc.), then head upstairs to change into treadmill running clothes. What are treadmill running clothes you ask? They are the same as outdoor summer running clothes, with the absence of a shirt to go over my sports bra. Shorts, a sports bra, socks, and lately a zip up hooded sweatshirt to keep me from freezing for the first 2-3 minutes of my run (it is wicked cold in our basement), complete my standard wardrobe. Yesterday, however, I had to wear a shirt as well because the person who is helping us with the basement project was there working. All of a sudden my space had been invaded. I briefly contemplated running after he left, but the reality that the kids would intrude upon my run flashed upon me so I sucked it up and ran anyway.

Years ago I didn’t have my own treadmill, but used the treadmills at the health club. I never had a problem with the fact that others would perhaps catch a glimpse of me running, but in my own home it just feels like a violation. DH told me that I’m being a big baby, and he is most likely right. I’m sure I will get over it soon enough. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but I do know that on a recent work trip I was stuck on a hotel treadmill in a room that had mirrors on two walls. Watching my own self run on the treadmill was more than horrifying. Here I was, running, improving my fitness, but faced with the reality of my jiggly thighs all I could think about was how I should have avoided that cookie at lunch. I now have that mental image of my thighs whenever I think that anyone else is watching me run on a treadmill (outside I’ve concluded everybody looks better, and I honestly don’t give it a second thought). Stupid mirrors, why on earth would anyone want to watch themselves running on a treadmill?


A pain in the neck

We had an interesting albeit scary weekend in our house. DH spent the bulk of the day Saturday working on some basement remodeling. I’m not allowed to detail what he did, as he is still waiting for the permit from the city, so as far as I know he just looked at plans and purchased material. However, that activity was enough to drive me and the kidlets out of the house for at least the morning. It was incredibly cold here in the frozen tundra, so I decided to make good use of our annual zoo membership gift from the in-laws. I squeaked out 4 miles on the treadmill before 9 am, and we were off to the zoo by 10 am or so. The walk to the zoo from the parking lot was brutal for me. I was happy that the kids were well bundled, but kept questioning why in the world I wasn’t better dressed for the weather. Thankfully we were at the zoo only to see the indoor exhibits.

We managed to see most of the tropical animals in the span of an hour, and made our way over to the ocean exhibit. As we were browsing the fish tanks and aquariums, The Boy started complaining that his neck hurt. My standard Mommy response of “where does it hurt, do you want me to kiss it,” just wasn’t cutting it though. I suggested we get lunch so he could rest in the stroller for a while, and he agreed, but he remained withdrawn and quiet with a pained look on his face throughout the meal he barely touched.

He kept telling me that his neck hurt, and when I asked him where it hurt he held his hand over a spot so I could feel. I felt a lump, and of course started to feel a little panicky. I often get swollen lymph nodes, and in fact most of mine become swollen and just never go back to normal after they’ve been swollen, so my experience told me that the lump I was feeling was a slightly enlarged lymph node. Still, his constant insistence that he needed medicine was worrisome, because The Boy has a fairly high pain tolerance.

*Several months ago we noticed he had a black thumb nail, the kind you get after painfully slamming your thumb in a door or something equally painful. When asked how he got it, he would respond with “I just got an owie.” I’ve experienced the same, and I whined considerably when it happened because it was extremely painful. We still have no idea how it happened, because he never complained to us, or to his daycare provider. The poor kid ended up losing his thumbnail, and never even once complained about it.*

Anyway, the fact that he was in so much pain just didn’t set right with me. I told him we would go home so he could take some medicine, and perhaps go to the doctor. He said “yes, and then we will come back to the zoo.” Well, I knew full well if we went home we would not in fact be coming back to the zoo that day, and I just couldn’t lie to him (he’s old enough to remember and continue to keep pushing for it with “but you said we would go back to the zoo.”). When he realized going home for medicine meant leaving the zoo, he proclaimed his neck better. He said we should go to the dolphin show I’d been promising all morning. I asked him if he was sure, he said yes, so we went to the dolphin show. He did okay during the dolphin show, The Girl, on the other hand behaved miserably and she clearly needed a nap! After the show, The Boy was back to complaining about his neck, so we hightailed it home. They both briefly napped in the car on the 20 minute drive home which of course made it nearly impossible to actually get them to take naps at home, but whatever.

I continued to worry, but gave him some Motrin, and tried to get him to nap. DH gave me the impression that I was overreacting, but I just couldn’t let it go. I called a nurse line and spoke with an RN, who told me if it wasn’t better on Sunday we should bring him to Urgent Care. Of course it wasn’t better on Sunday so The Boy and I made a trip to urgent care, where we got the diagnosis of Acute Torticollis, or a stiff neck. The poor kid was dealing with seized up muscles in his neck, and was in a great deal of pain, unable to turn his had from side to side. Thankfully Motrin seems to help, and this morning he declared himself better, enough so that he refused Motrin.

Now, if only I could get myself to stop assuming he has an aneurysm or meningitis every single time he has something weird happen I’d be in a much better place. I remember worrying about miscarrying when I was pregnant (especially after an extremely early miscarriage with my first pregnancy), and being thankful when I passed the first trimester. I told myself that I wouldn’t have to worry anymore when I passed milestones, but the truth is there was always something new to worry about. After The Boy was born, I was so grateful to hold him in my arms, a healthy baby boy, now surely I could stop worrying. I was wrong though, the real worry doesn’t even kick in until they are outside the womb. Now, the things to worry about are much bigger and harder to control. I imagine that even when my kids are grown and living on their own I will still worry about them, but hopefully it won’t be the primal fear and worry I have now…the mama bear taking care of her cubs.


Catchy tunes

I am well versed in television that is targeted to my offspring, but have only relatively recently begun to explore the music targeted to them. We have just a few kid specific CDs, one from They Might Be Giants that I don’t particularly enjoy, some random CDs that came in a multi-pack, and of course the CD that got us through The Girl’s forth trimester – A nature sounds “Waterfall” CD from Target that sounds almost exactly like radio static with a few birds chirping in the background every once in a while, so you get that you are supposed to be standing right next to a huge waterfall. We listened to that one at full volume so much during The Girl’s first 4 months that it is forever burned in our memory. We only hold onto it to torment The Girl later in life (okay that CD isn’t targeted to kids, but nobody in their right mind would find it to be a soothing sound unless you are an infant accustomed to listening to all of the whooshes, gurgles, and heart sounds inside of the womb).

A few months back we picked up Laurie Berkner’s Buzz Buzz, and Farmer Jason’s Rockin’ In the Forest, and my kids are sold. Not only are they sold, but so am I. I can’t even begin to explain how cool it is to watch my two grooving out with the music. The Girl says “buzz buzz” when she wants to listen to her music, and The Boy demands “Farmer Jason!” I enjoy both CDs, though I’ll admit to being somewhat partial to the Laurie Berkner disc, if only because the songs are a little more sing-able for me. The downside being of course, that I end up humming things like “Little red caboose, little red caboose, chug, chug, chug, Riding behind that, train, train, train, train…smokestack on its back, back, back, back, going down the track, track, track, track…little red caboose behind the train…here comes the little red caboose…” You get the idea! I find myself skipping songs on the CD to get to the songs I like to sing. If I had a functioning CD player in my car right now I am confident that I would be grooving around town and singing along when my children aren’t with me. I used to laugh when people would confess to listening to Raffi CDs in the car, and now I have become one of those people!

You try listening to “There's A Little Wheel A-Turnin' In My Heart” or perhaps “The More We Get Together,” and see if you are immune.

Growing up the only music I can recall listening to was my Mom’s vast collection of Air Supply, Ann Murray, Crystal Gayle, and a few others. I have to say that I am still unable to hear Air Supply without cringing, “Lost in Love” just screams it-is-Saturday-and-we-need-to-clean-the-house to me (I’m not going to link to any Air Supply, I just can’t bring myself to even type those words in the same string in my little Google search bar, so if you are interested do it yourself). I suppose it is possible that we had children’s music from time to time, but certainly not anything like Farmer Jason. I could try to draw conclusions from this, but I think I’d just be stretching. Mostly I just wanted to confess that I am in my thirties and enjoy singing along to kids music! It is okay though, my CD player in the car is in fact broken, so I mostly listen to Cities 97, or MPR, I’m solidly an adult most of the time. Ah Rum, Sum, Sum, Ah, Rum, Sum, Sum, Goolie, Goolie, Goolie, Goolie Goolie, Rum, Sum Sum…

What's wrong with gift bags?

The Boy went to a birthday party for one of his daycare buddies yesterday afternoon, and he came home with a great gift bag filled with candy, and some fun little toys that he seems to enjoy. He got home and asked for some of the candy, but as I knew he’d just eaten cake, ice cream, and some M&Ms, I told him no (oh and it was already 7:45 PM, when his bed time is 8 PM). He accepted the no, and played with the toys in the gift bag for a while (while trying his best to keep The Girl away from his loot). He went to bed pretty easily, insisting that he hold onto his new beloved sticky monkey glow in the dark cheapie toy (the kind of toy that when balled up in your hand and thrown against a wall, will stick for a moment only to slowly roll down the wall). He even called down to me an hour later because he had dropped said monkey under his bed, and needed it in order to sleep. Whatever, at least he went back to sleep. He was still clutching the monkey this morning, and I had to pry it out of his hands when I dropped him off at daycare, promising him that he would get it back later in the day.

The whole thing made me think of something I read on cribsheet a while back. They pointed out a recently launched website created by parents who are concerned about the rampant craziness surrounding kids’ birthday parties. I looked at the site (Birthday’s without pressure) for a moment and went on with my day. Why do we give gift bags at birthday parties? I wouldn’t say that I am even opposed to them. Kids like them. I could be happier if they didn’t come with a big ol’ pile of sugar in them, but it isn’t like the Pop Tarts I feed the kids for breakfast are healthy so my standards are already sufficiently low. At The Boy’s 3rd birthday party shin dig we were guilty of giving out gift bags too, and honestly they worked quite well to distract the kids while The Boy was opening his mound of presents. I did stress for a little too long about what exactly to put in the gift bags though, and can see how some parents wouldn’t want that. I guess because my kids are still so young we haven’t really had to deal with too much of this. I’m sure in a few years I will be deadly opposed to gift bags, and commercialized parties or I will more likely just sell out and go along with the trend.

The Boy is only 3.5, and has already gone to two birthday parties at Chuck E Cheese, and one swimming pool party (I hope to not subject other parents to that for a while, I’m still a little irritated that it meant I had to don a swimsuit). I’m sure as he gets older we will become more and more familiar with all birthday party venues in our area. We’ve had all of our kids’ parties at our own humble abode, but honestly it is a huge pain in the ass to have to clean your entire house, cook, oversee the party, and find ways to entertain a bunch of preschoolers (even when their parents are present!) for even 2 hours. I found myself searching for Non-Chuck E Cheese party options just a few weeks ago, and our next kid birthday isn’t until May.

There has to be some nicer balance between making your child be the one kid who doesn’t get birthday presents from friends, and having such a huge production for each and every birthday that he or she feels entitled to more each year. I’d wager that these early birthdays set the stage for what is to come when the kids have their own opinions. I guess that means we need to under perform, so they have low expectations.

I don't know, the whole fact that there is a dot org website set up to tell me how horrible birthday parties are, makes me pay less attention to the whole thing. Soon not only will Moms be quietly judging other Moms for breastfeeding or formula feeding, landfill space occupying disposable diapers or cloth dipes, staying at home or working outside the home, they will have to worry about the birthday party being enough but not too much. Gads, this parenting thing is like junior high all over again, and we wonder why kids are such asshats to each other in school!