Saturday, January 31, 2009

Life inside these four walls

Due to snow, ice and cancelled preschool, we hadn't left our house in four and a half days. That's a lot of "together" time within a limited amount of space. During our days together, we

... enjoyed popsicles from the great outdoors in the form of icicles which Alivia refuses to call icicles.

... came up with new and creative ways to play - like taking pretend naps in a large Rubbermaid container (a bit coffin like, if you ask me).

... played red light, green light in the living room with accompanying shrieks and squeals so loud that a ringing doorbell made the runners ask if it was the police at the door (I, too, had to wonder).

... made strides in Trace's liking of the snow.

... played with dollhouses, stringing four of them together to create an entire neighborhood. Who gets to be Dallas (this would be one of our neighbors)?

... actually slept until 8 a.m. on a weekday. This is unprecedented in our house. When I woke up and saw the alarm clock reading 7:56 a.m., I questioned whether everyone else had been gassed. Alena was convinced it was the first day of spring because the sun was so bright in her room ... yeah, that's what happens when you actually stay in bed until the sun gets a chance to rise.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I like boys girls better

I recently read an article entitled "I like boys better." Written by a mother of two boys who was expecting her third baby, the author was hoping for yet another boy. Upon learning the baby was a girl, she found herself paralyzed by the thought of a future involving pink poodle birthday parties and princesses.

Perhaps every mother has her preference, whether or not she chooses to openly admit it. There's something that pulls some moms to fru-fru dresses and patent leather shoes, while others veer the way of train tracks and baseball hats.

Reading the piece, I found myself writing in my head a counter argument as to why "I like girls better." I couldn't believe a mother would rather shop amongst the two racks of boy clothes than the six dozen racks of dresses, skirts and all things pink. I was appalled that she'd prefer throwing a Transformer party over one featuring The Little Mermaid (she actually used the word "ewww").

After finishing, though, and later mulling over why she'd take mud pies over braids, I realized my preference in dealing in the world of make believe princesses and pretend grocery store visits has less to do with my favoring dollhouse play over Thomas the Train track building, and everything to do with my fear of failing our son.

I've learned how to make motor sounds and spot out semi-trucks or construction equipment while we're out and about, to Trace's gleeful delight. What I haven't learned, though, is how to turn him into a man. And, that's where my bias lies.

While I'm not proclaiming that in another 20 years or so we'll have produced three women ready to run the world, I'm somewhat confident in my abilities to nurture in the girls character values of discipline, confidence and self-worth.

On the flip side, teaching Trace to be a strong yet compassionate man who sees the injustices of the world while trying to right them, all the while maybe making meatballs for dinner. That seems a bit more daunting.

That job seems larger to me. Sometimes even too large, when there seems so many instances left in the world when a man is emasculated because he can cook or care for a child or express emotion.

I want for him to be a productive person, a loving husband, a caring father, a stand-up citizen. I want him to understand that manhood means more than sports, working and being macho. I want him to be a lover, not a fighter.

Jason says from time to time, as Trace shows off his painted toenails or prances around the living room in high heels, he hopes I'm saving up for the therapy Trace will most likely need years down the road. Perhaps living in a house where you're outnumbered by the opposite sex two to one might mean future counseling, but I refuse to deny him pink polish on his toes when he so requests it.

So, with our painted toes and John Deeres we set off. And maybe one day, I'll be able to write a follow up entitled "I like boys better," when I know he's turned out okay (and, if not, I guess I'll be picking up the therapy bills).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One kid's fun is another kid's tears

Finally, enough snow to play in. The handful of dustings we've had so far this winter have left the kids wanting to sled in them. Last night's fall produced enough of the white stuff to actually bring out the sleds.

Snow, however, creates very different reactions in very different children.

Some might relish the white dust and be so glad to be outside running in it that they completely ignore the cold, sleet and red cheeks.

Others, in contrast, might be rendered paralyzed by the precipitation and spend twice as much time getting bundled up than they are actually outdoors.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Attention K-Mart shoppers

There's a blue light special going on in aisle two for anyone not wearing clothes.


Grandpas are for making you squeal in one breath, while leaving you begging for more in the second. "One more time" turns into "one more time" turns into "one more time."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Music by P. Pie McSkittle

Why not get your groove on while you get your poop on?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where were you when ...?

When you have a mother who considers The Rachel Maddow Show sweet prime time entertainment, you're going to be forced to watch the inauguration of the country's 44th president (though you'd probably prefer Sesame Street).

And while Elmo would trump Joe Biden on your list of favorites, she'll also manage to teach you the difference between the Capitol building and the White House (not only in sight, but purpose) and the definition of the word "motorcade."

And while only one of you will likely remember watching the historic event of such grand proportions that you'll probably get only one or two others like it in your lifetime, all four sets of eyes witnessed the presidential swearing in of Barack Obama. You witnessed history.

And while it will be years and years before you can possibly comprehend the significance of the day, it was one during which your mother's hope was renewed in the future that lies ahead of you. A pure manifestation of good and right, faith and discipline, change and hope.

Today brings ...

"Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."
-Barack Obama, January 20, 2009

Happy inauguration day! (And thanks Gina for the link to create these cool Obama icons.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cutie patooties (long overdue)

It's true there are a million photos taken of your first baby, fewer of baby number two and even fewer of baby number three. And so it goes, with less frequent visits to the photography studio as your house fills. I swore I wouldn't fall into this photo trap, but sadly, I have.

I'll refrain from saying how long it had been since Trace and Alysse had had their photos professionally taken (not counting the group photo that was taken of all the kids this fall), it's shameful. Please refrain from looking back through the archives to actually find out how long it had been, I'll feel even more ashamed.

So, finally we dedicated the time and energy to trek to the studio, and here are the results. Well worth the wait. Let's call them two-year-old shots taken a couple months early, instead of 18-month photos four months late.

Ten things I certainly don't love

Lest the world think everything is constantly lovey dovey around here given my previous posts of things I love (October 2008 list and July's top 10), I'm going the opposite end of the spectrum here with the top ten things motherhood has managed to make me despise.

Before we get started, let me qualify my list with two statements:

  • The majority are innocent items little mind was paid to before motherhood. Funny how a few kids turn the ordinary into the despised.

  • The majority are innocent items, therefore, do not take offense to my inclusion of them on the list. Our kids love balloons ... don't be leery of sending them to our door, they love them. These are my hang-ups only, and I long ago realized I can't rid the world of balloons.
Without further ado, and in no particular order.

1. Toys in the pediatricians' office waiting room. What an oxymoron. A bunch of toys put out in a place where sick kids come. Now, wait for it ... for other sick kids to later play with ... for other sick kids to touch ... for other sick kids to sneeze on. Yeah, you get the picture.

Actually, I lied in saying this list was in no particular order. This is definitely my greatest mom hate. I love everything about our pediatrician and her associates, with the exception of the small waiting area dedicated solely to these disgusting toys.

2. Tablecloths. Prior to our children, I appreciated a nice tablecloth; they now create fear and dread. One unnoticed pull by a child and an entire table setting could be wiped out. Not worth the constant "Please don't pull the tablecloth, honey" nagging they now produce.

3. Gum. In hair, on shoes, just a mess waiting to happen. Alena and Alivia love bubble gum and I get daily requests for the chewy goodness; I wish we had never introduced them to it.

4. Latex balloons. There's a sign posted in the waiting area of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Fairfield location stating that firearms and latex balloons are not permitted on the premises for the safety of their patients. That pretty much sums it up: latex balloons = firearms. The worst possible choking hazard in my mind, I'm on constant balloon patrol when I know there's one around.

5. Stickers on clothes. Kids love stickers, and where do they most like to stick them? On their clothes. The problem is, they usually don't unstick them. As a result, mom is left to peel the suckers stickers off before washing. And when mom misses one and it goes through the washer and the dryer, that pajama top has a permanent square of ick right on front.
6. Car seats. Their purpose is undeniable, yet, having listened to four babies scream and scream some more while strapped in car seats, I reserve the right to hate them.

Even after nearly two years of being put in hers, Alysse still doesn't like the car seat. Jason has surmised it takes her 30 minutes of restlessness in her seat to succumb to the realization she's going to be there awhile. She resigns herself to that fact for about one hour, and then she's had enough, and squawking and tears ensue. Not one of our kids was a "sleep in the car quietly" kind of baby.

7. Kids in dirty coats. I hate to see little ones in a dirty coat. If our kids are ever seen in a dirty coat or jacket, it's because my washing machine has been stolen or I've gone blind. This is just one of my pet peeves.

8. Pacifiers. Half of our babies had them, half of our babies didn't. I wish we'd gone zero for four in handing them out. More disturbing to me, though, is seeing a three year old walking around with a pacifier in his or her mouth. Come on.

9. Impossible toy packaging. I have seen designer purses in high-end department stores with less security packaging attached than some Fisher-Price toys at Target. Are all those plastic-coated, twisted wire ties necessary? Boxes within boxes, within boxes. Plastic galore. Here's a way this country could eliminate some serious waste in terms of going green.

10. Grocery carts. A 2007 University of Arizona study found grocery carts have more bacteria on them than the average public restroom. Yuck. Stick your kids, who touch everything in their reach (including their mouths), in them and YUCK.

We make good use of our cloth grocery cart cover, but without fail, someone wants to ride in the cart part or stand on the end, and you're left wondering why bother trying to keep one pair of hands germ free when one or two of the others is picking up the wonderful bacteria. I'm a proponent of our friend Jungle Jim investing in a few PureCart systems, or maybe I'll get one for Mother's Day that I could tow behind the Suburban and never have to worry about a dirty cart again.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Totally random thoughts

Today, while doing the mundane, I began to reminisce about the memories I have of the women who deeply cared for me during childhood. I discovered, the fondest memories I have of each are of very simple, ordinary things.

I remember walking in my great-grandmother's living room balancing books on my head with my sisters. She'd tell us to keep our heads up and walk slowly.

I remember jumping rope on my grandma's back porch as she turned the rope (the other end tied to a column near the outside of the porch). I think I would have jumped for hours.

I remember birthday parties at my aunt's house. Lunch was pizza or McDonald's takeout followed by birthday and presents. Casual, easy and memorable.

I remember an after school snack every day and a handmade Halloween costume each year made by my mom. They showed she cared and took the time to do special things for us.

Years from now, I wonder what simple things my kids will remember of me.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The wonderfulness of nothing

Nothing. Nothing to bake. Nothing to buy. Nothing to wrap. Nothing to plan. Nothing to get to. Nothing to prepare for. Nothing to do.

Isn't it wonderful?

As exciting as the Christmas season is, I'm ready to commit to saying the post season is even better. The hectic rush ... gone. The flurry of this and that ... gone. The stress of it all ... gone.

Since last Saturday, and the last holiday party on our schedule, there's been nothing we've had to do. And it's been wonderful.

The errands we've run have been the "want to" kind versus the "have to" variety. The cooking that's been undertaken has been for the hobby of it instead of because company's coming. The cleaning that's occurred, well, it hasn't.

All the everyday demands and expectations have been replaced by breaking in new Christmas toys, relaxing and enjoying time together. It's as if the pace has slowed dramatically.

There's been time to build train tracks; time for discussions of speed limits and the corresponding signs; time for our new year celebration. Seemingly so much more time.

I'm guessing this little holiday of the not-real-world kind will last only a couple days longer, then it's back to work for Jason, back to school for Alena and the return to our regular routine of things. The speed of day-to-day life will slowly increase until we're back to racing around, but until then, there's nothing.