Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The dreaded laundry beast

Oh enormous pile of laundry, how you mock me. I walk by and you stare, unblinking, your eyes a torment. No matter how I try, your size only grows, larger and larger with each passing day. You swallow up tiny socks in your gaping maw, never to be seen again (especially 5 minutes before school when said socks are so desperately needed). You tilt and tumble, spilling your contents in my path, as if to remind me further of your dreaded presence. You tempt unruly children with your softness, calling to them to jump on you, risking the threatened time-out of doom.

But what is this I hear? A champion? A knight worthy of this foe? The laundry pile doth tremble in fear at the sight of her!

Yes, it is true. I have come! I attack the pile with reckless abandon, sorting, folding, stacking. And then..... putting away! By some great miracle, or perhaps a trick of sorcery, socks are found! Shirts are shaken and sleeves turned right! Pants are folded neatly and put in their place. The mocking smile of the pile is stilled, crushed and broken. Piece by piece, the dreaded pile is no more. The champion hath defeated the dreaded beast!

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Caffeine: A love/hate relationship

I have a love/hate relationship with caffeine. I love a lot of things that are caffeinated, but I hate being addicted to the point that if I don't drink caffeine, I get the dreaded headache.

I used to be able to take it or leave it. I never got into the morning coffee habit, so for the most part I could have a coffee or tea or soda some of the time, and not worry about having some daily. I wasn't really addicted.

I'd love to blame having children for my current caffeine dependence, and in some ways that is true. I can't count how many mornings I've stumbled into the kitchen after a long night with a fussy baby, the only thought on my mind being, "I'm not going to survive this day without something caffeinated!" A cup of tea, a mocha from a coffee shop, a diet coke... What was once a non-regular occurance somehow became an every day thing.

The worst is the diet coke. There can't be anything about soda of any kind that is good for you, diet or not. I got in the habit of drinking diet back in high school, partly because of some notion that I needed to watch my weight (which at the time, I did not) and partly because my younger brother is diabetic, so it's usually what we had in the house. My husband has been a terrrible diet coke addict for years and eventually it rubbed off on me. I found myself reaching for a diet coke at least once, often two or three times, a day.

The hubster is taking a break from diet coke right now, so we don't have any in the house. I've been drinking tea, which I actually love, but I still had two or three days of wicked headaches. And frankly, that pisses me off. I don't like that I *have* to consume certain things to avoid putting my body through withdrawl.

But am I ready to give up caffeinated beverages entirely? Can I say no to a giant glass of icy cold diet coke the next time we're out to dinner? Do I want to give up my mochas, or switch to decaf (which still has some caffeine anyway)? Not really....

So I'm stuck with either maintaining my habit enough to not go through withdrawl so I can enjoy a diet coke or a coffee once in a while, or giving up anything caffeinated entirely. What's a busy mom to do?

Pass me my tea.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Play ball!

Baseball season is upon us once again! And this year I have not one, but two little sluggers out there in the field. Sadly, the weather doesn't seem to want to cooperate as much as we'd like, but at least we haven't been rained on (yet!).

This year I'm struck by the differences in my boys. David (6) is a straight line. He's easy to motivate, easy to coach. He wants to do well, he listens to Daddy and his coaches. He loves to play and it's simply a pleasure to watch him grow and get better.

Grayson (almost about 4), well, he's another animal entirely. Not that this is news to me; their polar opposite personalities have been obvious since birth. He is chaos in a little person. He isn't unruly or running around like a crazy child or misbehaving out there. He simply does things Grayson style. You want him to walk out on the field and get his mit? Sure, but he'll take a winding, roundabout route to get there. You want him to put on his helmet and get ready to bat? Sure, but he'll put it on backwards first or try to stick his bat in the fence.

Some of it is just age. David is older, and that makes quite a bit of difference. He wasn't nearly as focused at Grayson's age. But some of it is the mystery that is Grayson. He's just his own little person and he absolutely fascinates me.

It is a good reminder that no two children are alike, and the way we approach them needs to be different. There are certain ways to motivate David, to keep him on the right track. Those things don't work as well for Grayson. And I admit, finding what works for him isn't as simple.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Little brother's turn

This morning I was driving my three-year-old to preschool and as we turned the last corner, he exclaimed from the back seat, "That's my school! That's my school!" It was a cool moment, and not just because of his excitement about going to school.

His big brother David went to the same preschool for two years, and Grayson was always the tag-along. I hauled him in a stroller, or with my hand firmly gripped around his wrist, for many a drop-off and pick-up. More than once I had to drag him out of there bodily because he wanted so badly to stay and play with the toys. But it was always "David's school" and Grayson's turn would have to come later.

It's not always easy being the little brother. He has to watch his big brother do things and go places he can't. He has to sit on the sidelines and watch while David plays sports, sit out of the big boy classes at the Y, and stay home with mommy when David gets to go places he's too young to visit. Not that he gets the shaft all the time. But his awareness that David gets to do things he can't do has grown and he has an insatiable desire to be just like his big brother.

School started about a month ago and things have come full circle for my little man. This morning he showed how much his school means to him, in that it is HIS. He doesn't call it "David's school" anymore, but always "my school," or "Grayson's school." He runs in the door each time, finds the box with his name and picture and deposits his coat and backpack like a pro. Then he's off to the tables with toys spread out for free play, without so much as a glance in my direction. That is his time, his chance to be the big boy without the shadow of his big brother.

Not that he minds that particular shadow most of the time. But I love that he is getting old enough for it to be his turn for the big boy stuff. I can tell it means a lot to him.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween Season

Hallween is a big deal in our house. Ever since David was about 3, he's been a HUGE fan of Halloween. I think the only reason Christmas beats it out as his holiday of choice is the presents (despite our attempts to emphasize the REAL Christmas, he is a kid and presents are pretty awesome).

Now that we're well into October, the countdown to Halloween has begun. I made an impromptu Halloween countdown to hang on the wall (simply a page of orange construction paper and black squares where they can put stickers for each day). This will, hopefully, cut down on the number of times I am asked "When is Halloween?" At least David can go to the countdown chart and count the blank squares.

This year we're all about Star Wars in this house (and Legos, but that's a whole other post). David will be going as Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who captures Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back. How do little boys all seem to know who Boba Fett is? He appears in the movie so briefly, and I don't recall ever knowing he actually had a name. But boys seem to gravitate to him. I think it has something to do with his jet pack. Jet packs are pretty sweet.

Grayson will be Darth Vader, which is utterly ridiculous in it's cuteness. The best part is that he says "Dark Mater," so our neighbors are sure to be greeted by a masked three-year-old exclaiming, "I'm Dark Mater!" And he does the breathing sound really well too.

Even Miss Ella will be in on the Star Wars action. I originally planned to dress her in something ridiculously girly involving tutus and lots of sparkle, but I couldn't resist the coordinating costumes - so she'll be playing the part of Princess Leia. They actually make a baby Leia costume, with a hat that is made to resemble the dinner roll hairdo. I don't know how long she'll actually wear the hat before ripping it off to chew on it, but if I can manage a picture or two, it will be worth it.

I have to admit, I love Halloween too. Our neighborhood is really festive - lots of houses decorate and some go all out. There is a house up the street from us that does a huge homemade banner over their entire front porch every year. This year it is a ghoul holding a flaming-eyed pumkin. They mak a tunnel to their front door, so only the bravest of kids will venture inside to get their candy. My boys, young as they are, have yet to bat an eyelash. If I walk through the dark, foggy tunnel I get candy? I'm on it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A good mommy day

I had a great mom day today. And after the weekend we had, I needed it.
I won't go into the gory details of what made our weekend so particularly awful. Let's just say it involved a husband recovering from surgery, a little boy with an ear infection, a little girl waking at all hours and up for the day long before the sun and a mommy with a severe, and as yet undiagnosed infection in her upper jaw/lower sinus as well as a very adverse reaction to vicodin. And very little sleep.
Today I was feeling much more like myself, and managed to get a lot done this morning to help the house recover from my illness. Because if you're a mom, you know how insane the house gets when you're out of commission. It's ridiculous.
This afternoon I took the kids on a nature walk. There's a trail through a rather narrow greenbelt across the street from our house. It isn't exactly the deep woods, but it's close and offers enough in the way of pinecones, leaves and sticks that the boys like it. The boys carried plastic bags to load their treasures, and I carried the Bean (aka my daughter) on my back. We wandered around, looked at things on the ground and looked up to see where they might have come from. We picked up leaves and examined their color. We found sticks with moss, and found trees with more moss growing on the trunks. We found tiny mushrooms, and the boys got a lesson in never, ever eat anything you find growing on the ground in the woods. We saw a tree that had fallen, only to sprout a new trunk growing straight up out of the bent part. We talked about evergreens and deciduous trees and David was delighted to learn a new fact to amaze grown ups with.

We got home and they proudly showed their finds to Daddy, who was working from home. Then they drew pictures, telling the story of their day.

David drew the half fallen tree that looked "like a rainbow," ferns and rocks on the ground, and two little figures with bags full of leaves and branches in their hands.

Grayson's was a little more abstract, but he is three. He told us all about what his scribbles meant, so the intent was there.

Ella wandered around the dining room playing with her sippy cup and a pan lid, occassionally peeking up over the table to see what her brothers were doing.

It was a totally random idea, and it went so well, it made me feel a little like supermom.

Then after dinner, the boys wandered outside as I made orange popcorn balls. They noticed something in the sky, so we went out to investigate and after conferring with my astronomy expert (aka, my mom), we think it's Jupiter. So we talked about the differences between stars and planets, and why they look the same in the sky. Then we looked up pictures of Jupiter, and various other planets and astronomical things on the Internet. I think David may be developing a new fascination with space and astronomy, but we'll see. The kid loves to learn how things work and why - he's a little scientist already.

All in all, a good mommy day. Goodness knows on this crazy journey, they aren't always this way. But this one certainly made up for the awful weekend, so I'll take it!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Potty Training

Potty training is not my favorite part of childhood. Once they are solidly potty trained, it is great. Changing a baby's poopy diaper is one thing, but the horrific mess that is a toddler's poopy diaper is quite another. So once they are competent at using the potty and don't have to go every 30 minutes in order to keep dry, it's pretty nice. It's getting there that I don't like.

We're working with Grayson on going potty, but it's been slow going. We've been through this before, but every kid is different and the things that worked so well with David aren't so effective with Grayson. He pulls the stickers off his sticker chart and throws them on the floor (not sure why), he argues with me about the two Skittles he is supposed to get after going pee on the potty, and so far the promise of various treats and rewards for finally pooping on the potty haven't motivated him in the least.

Fortunately, he's able to initiate going potty some of the time and we had a trial run in underwear last week that went pretty well. Since then I haven't been able to convince him to wear underwear again, but today I insisted. He was upset for a while, and I let him stay naked and throw his fit. Then I offered some Wall-E underwear and that turned the tide. Unfortunately, the package only has one pair of Wall-E, so if he insists on them again tomorrow I'll have some more convincing to do. But hopefully we'll be able to get through the next few days without too much mess, or too much fuss.

He's supposed to be potty trained when he starts preschool and that is rapidly approaching. We have about 5 1/2 weeks until the big day, and although technically they'll let him come in a pull up if he still needs it, I'd really rather not. So I guess it's time we start trying a little harder to make this potty thing happen.

I do have to wonder if the cashier at Target found it funny last week when I bought two packages of toddler sized underwear and a bottle of carpet cleaner labeled "Kids and Pets". Hmmm, what am I going to be up to the next few weeks.