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.
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!
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?
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.
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 naïve 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.
Someone please tell me it is okay for me to hate playing cars.
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.
He knows the drill.
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!
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!
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.
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?
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.
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…
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!