Friday, March 30, 2012

A Brief Recap

I’ve learned several (thousand) things since I’ve become a mom, and three of the big lessons really hit me one morning about two years ago.

We’d gone to First Watch (kid-friendly breakfast restaurant) with my in-laws. The kids chatted happily with their grandparents, so I looked around the restaurant and spotted a family with a newborn at the table next to us.

The baby, decked out to perfection, slept peacefully in her car seat bucket on top of the chair pulled up to the table. The clearly exhausted parents, in shapeless, rumpled clothes, the mom’s hair scraped back in a ponytail, said not a word to each other, but gazed adoringly at the sleeping baby. I smiled, remembering my own adoration of my newborn children.

Just past them, in a booth, two parents ate quickly while their just-sitting-up baby (and I mean JUST—probably four months old) sat solo in a wooden restaurant highchair. I use the term “sat” loosely—mostly the sweet little guy rested his chin on the tabletop. I chuckled, remembering how anxious I’d been for my oldest to hit each milestone.

Then I heard a scuffle behind me. Two frazzled, stressed parents were not eating at all. They were trying to convince their eighteen-month-old (my pediatrician describes kids that age as “pound for pound, the toughest things in the world”), very logically and with lots of words, why sitting in a high chair was better than sitting in a booth like a grown-up. I shook my head, remembering my own adventures with that stage.

I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t been there, but the universe provided me with a snapshot of how parenting had forced me to deal with three of my biggest challenges—making time for myself, allowing the future to unfold in its own time, and learning when NOT to talk.

I still wrestle with all three, but I’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay if the kids watch TV while I dress myself nicely. I know that the milestones will zoom by at the speed of light without any prompting from me. And I’ve learned (most of the time) that less is more when it comes to persuading your kids of things. “Because I said so” was invented for a reason.

Not that it would help with an eighteen-month-old.

Any other big lessons I’ve learned? Sure. Finishing tasks with multiple interrupt—Hold on, honey! Just don’t touch anything…..

Hit post, sprint--now!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Random Joke

Giving credit where it's due, today's brief post is brought to you courtesy of my wisecracking husband...

How are mothers different from lasagna?

Lasagna actually gets to sit for ten minutes before dinner.

Friday, March 23, 2012

If NCIS Came to Our House

A couple of weeks ago, I collapsed into my seat in the minivan on the way to a weekend at my in-laws and thought, "What did I forget?" as I mentally reviewed my last images of each room of the house, specifically trying to recall
  • anything that might burn the place down
  • anything that might rot and/or mold in two days
  • anything the kids can't sleep without
You know you do it, too.

Anyway, I started think about all those immaculate (except for crime-related mess), well-decorated, empty houses that the teams on crime shows search. My house never looks like those, but I fell into an intriguing daydream (which allowed me to ignore the kids-on-a-roadtrip noises) about what NCIS would say if they walked into my house, right at that moment....

After the usual door-busting preliminaries…

Zeva, calmly, “The tea in this cup is still hot. They were just here.” The team scatters throughout the house. “Clear.” “Clear.” “Clear.”

Tony glances sideways at the dining room table. “Well, someone’s house help took a vacation. Scratch that. On second glance, this is just the scrapbook project from hell.”

Zeva chimes in, “That’s odd. Why is this sofa pillow on the refrigerator?”

Gibbs says, “Bag it. Take it back to the lab. Where’s the dog?”

McGee looks up. “What dog’s that, Boss?”

Gibbs, dryly, “The one that goes with the collar and the doggie bags.”

“That dog, Probie.” Tony takes a picture of McGee’s face.

Zeva calls, “We have several hundred in small bills here.”

McGee, from Little A’s room, “I’ve got something here, Boss. Kid’s room--looks like blood stains on the sheets.”
Back at the lab, Gibb’s hands Abby a Caf-Pow.

Abby smiles. “I’m glad you’re here, Gibbs. Okay, first—the tea. It’s Tazo Green Tea with Ginger. I prefer Good Earth myself, but….”

Gibbs says, “Abby.”

“Right, Gibbs. The important thing is that the DNA on that cup is a fifty percent match with DNA we found on the sofa cushion. The sofa cushion also had traces of [insert scientific terms here] and bite marks consistent with a four-year-old human. Yes, that’s human saliva. I don’t even want to think how THAT got there.”

Gibbs looks at her. “And the blood?”

“First of all, the stains are old—like, last summer old. Ducky confirms that they do not match any normal spatter patterns. We also found traces of an over-the-counter ointment for relieving itching. So, I’m thinking someone had a severe case of mosquito bites last summer.”

Abby looks up proudly. Gibbs says, “Is that all, Abbs?”

“Isn’t that enough? Okay, so I also swabbed the cash for drugs, blood, all the usual stuff. Nothing there but [insert scientific jargon here].”

Gibbs looks at her.

“It’s Girl Scout cookie residue, Gibbs.”

Gibbs raises his eyebrows. “So we’re dealing with a scrapbooking cookie mom who never has time to drink her tea, but has an itchy kid who chews pillows. Is that what we’ve got here?”

Yep, that’s who they’re dealing with. I’d also like to point out that the wonderful lady who boards our dog never seems to want his collar or pick-up bags. Whatever. He loves her. Possibly because she never wants his collar or pick-up bags…

And if anyone might be questioning my choice to wash, keep, and use the sheets…think about it. He LOVES his Cars sheets. This is Florida, complete with year-round bugs. He may have stopped sleep-scratching until he bleeds, he may not have. Would you really buy a whole new set of Cars sheets that might get ruined immediately?

Besides, I’d like to point out that buying new sheets would almost guarantee a sleep-scratching incident. As it is, he hasn’t done it in months! See? I’m really just looking out for my kid.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

World Poetry Day, Part 2

Since it is now officially World Poetry Day, I officially bring you Part 2 of my celebration of all things poetic. I wrote this little ditty during the year or so that Little A. and I enjoyed daily walks to a construction site. He was between ten and twenty-two months and I carried him in a back carrier most days, so I felt it every time he literally went limp with fascination. I think he had an out-of-body experience each time!

I learned a thing or two from watching trucks with my little guy!

Constructive Zen

Every day I walk:
A loaded chore
A burden, an obligation—
Exercise to me.

To my son,
It’s exaltation,
A Pilgrimmage.
His shining eyes
Miss nothing;
His chubby arm
Flies up
To point out
Each station,
Each waypoint
On our journey.

I spot our goal,
Retention ponds,
Mountains of
Fill dirt for sale.

He sees
Mighty metal beings
At rest.
He waits,
Content, in awe,
Magically responding
To inner knowledge
(or a radio)
An engine engages.
An excavator lowers
Its hydraulic neck.
Opening its maw,
It scoops
Hovering, waiting, until,
Comparatively frisky,
A dump truck
Darts around,
Backing up.
One slow-motion
Scoop at a time,
Its belly fills.

I must help
My son—
Limp, immersed,
He forgets how
To wave
When the driver beeps hello.

Another truckload gone,
Another bulldozer full arrives.
I see no difference
In the pile
But it has


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

World Poetry Day, Part 1

In honor of World Poetry Day tomorrow, I'm going to walk on the wild side. Yep, I'm posting a poem. I've discovered that parenting and composing poetry can be very compatible. I have tons of time to think deep thoughts and play with imagery--while driving, weeding, doing dishes, waiting for toddlers to Just. Finish. Eating...And when they were babies? Please! Nursing, rocking to sleep, supervising tummy time--poet's paradise.

Writing them down? Well, there's the rub. If I'd managed that, I'd have books full. Complete collected works in four volumes. Needless to say, even the ones I jotted down missed the polishing and perfecting phase. But maybe that's the point--after all, parenting is all about gorgeous imperfections.

Always enamored of the moon
Today she discovered “rocketship”
The rumble of the R
The ocket-pop
Building up to a soaring ship

She launches my fancies
Into the stratosphere
Do I harbor a fledgling
Astronaut here?

Crisis! I want to be,
I need so much to be,
An astronaut—Right now!—
And the best there ever was.

Just in case
My daughter
Needs one.

Role models, rolling maneuvers,
She’ll need them all and
I want to have them, to give them--
But the laws of physics intervene.

In this space-time continuum
I have another place.
And as mother, not pilot,
I hold the greatest gift.

The stomach-dropping gift,
Bought with blood and tears.
The gift of opening my arms
And her eyes

Letting her heart leap
Admiring the soaring flights
Of other women
She’ll want to be “just like.”


Friday, March 16, 2012

Building Immune Systems

Once upon a time, I let Little A. lick floors. Well, short of throwing my body between him and the floor, I could not have stopped it—and I’m not sure that would even have worked. So, for a couple of months when he was two, he licked the floors at the grocery store, the school, the church, and the mall.

He didn’t make a hobby of it—two-year-old tantrums just went that way for him. He kicked around in circles on the floor, rubbing his open mouth all over. Either demons possessed him or he aspired to become a floor cleaning machine.

I had never, ever seen a kid do this before. I felt like a total freak. What had we done to our son?

On the bright side, he wasn’t ever sick. Breastfeeding or well-exercised immune system? We’ll never know.

Two years later I went out with a friend and her two-year-old, who licked the floor at the Y and McDonald’s. I felt normal again.

Today, I felt like a freak again.

I took the kids to the grocery store today. Things got progressively less…cooperative as we worked our way through our list, which included four dairy products. Now, in our store, the dairy cases turn a corner. It is THE MOST CROWDED piece of aisle in the whole store.

Needless to say, they put a candy display in the middle of it.

As I’m frantically grabbing dairy, Little A., now four, decides to give the candy display a little lick. Weighed down by a gallon and a half of milk, I do a nightmare slow-motion dash to him as S. shouts at the top of her lungs, “EEEW! You licked it.”

As I grab his shirt sleeve and attempt to pull him out of traffic to deliver a firm, positive, admonishment, he employs his favorite anti-parent weapon, his go-to play, his trump card.


I’m now compelled to defend myself before a jury of six shopping retirees, a businesswoman, and a shelf-stocker.

“That was your shirt sleeve. Now, eyes on me.”

I deliver the aforementioned admonishment, well aware of the sixteen ears trained on my voice, and the sixteen eyes tilted my way to see if I’m going to go all Walmart on Little A.

Of course I’m not. He’s just building his immune system, right?

At least he now knows that if he licks anything, ever again, he will not leave the house until he’s twelve. Daddy and I will run all our errands after he’s in bed. Got it?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Women in the Woods

Why Girls Should Go Into the Woods
Okay, yes, with adult supervision. Did I really need to say that? And I’m all for boys going into the woods, too, but that’s not my thing right now.

Really, this blog came about because I recently learned that Girl Scouts wants to cut back on the “Three Cs: Camping, Crafts, and Cookies” and teach girls to be leaders.

Hello? I thought we taught leadership using Camping, Cookies and…well, Crafts are really just bribes to get them to go Camping.

Maybe I’m too efficient. But here, in honor of Girl Scouting’s 100th Anniversary, are my thoughts on

Why Girls Should Go Into the Woods
1.     In the woods, there are no boys, mirrors, or media-generated fantasy images of women.
2.     There are no TVs, computers, phones, or other electronic devices in the woods.
3.     Friends find each other in the woods.
4.     Things get wet, dirty, cold, sweaty, and buggy in the woods.
5.     If you want to sleep dry in the woods, you have to set up your tent right.
6.     If you want to eat in the woods, you have to make it all happen yourself.
7.     Charades, games, skits, songs, and flashlight tag.
8.     Screaming and/or giggling won’t break a stick, kill a bug, or pound in a tent stake. But a little determination and effort might. You might even do all three at once!
9.     Reading yourself to sleep by flashlight—with five good friends.
10.   S’mores.
11.   In the woods, grown women get things done and don’t care if they get sweaty and dirty.
12.   You wash your hair with cold water and dish soap—if you wash your hair.
13.   Did I mention dirt, bugs, sweat?
14.   There are no boys, mirrors, or media-generated fantasy images of women.
15.   Everyone should play as if no one’s watching.