Cast on. Cast off.

Summer 2014 004

First Day.

Summer 2014 004

Last Day.

 

If you ever have to put a cast on your 3 year old it would be prudent to remember that one day that cast is gonna have to come off.  That day was today.  Our conversation on the way to the doctor:

Me:  Well honey you’re getting your cast off in a few minutes, isn’t that exciting?

3 Year old:  No, I’m going to be so disappointed.

Me:  Why?

3 Year old:  Because I won’t be able to show it to my friends anymore.  Or strangers.

Here is what I learned:

1.  It would have been a good idea to hire a babysitter so that I could have left my 15 month old at home.  There was no reason to traumatize both of them.

2. Kids are positioned on their backs for cast removal.  In order to comfort them you must awkwardly collapse your body on top of theirs while making sure your face can be seen by your baby.   This is of course so that they will see you grinning like a psycho during the sawing and then possibly feel better about the fact that your mother is lying on your sister while a stranger goes at her with a saw.

Summer 2014 0063.  Even though we discussed how the cast would come off with a saw it didn’t really sink in for my daughter until that saw turned ON.

4.  Once the saw (which looked less scary than an amputation saw but more scary than an electric turkey carver) was in motion my heretofore independent child began howling, “Mama!  Don’t leave me!  Cuddle me mom!  Right now!  AAAAHHHHH! Mom mom mom mom mom!  NOOOOOOO!”  Tears poured down her face, and suddenly the novelty of the cast was over.  My heart broke for her and all at once parenting didn’t feel quite so thankless.

5.  When my child finally got the cast off the part of her body that was previously shrouded in Gore-Tex it stunk. I wanted to put my nose somewhere less foul.  Like my own armpit.  I didn’t do this of course but I really, really wanted to.

6.  I saw the cuts the saw left on my daughter’s arm and felt an overwhelming urge to launch myself at the technician and bite them on the face.  Instead I sang, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” to my children until the urge passed.

7.  Just because the cast is off the arm is not back to normal.  She is still holding it up like a bird with a broken wing.  “It’s stiff,” she tells me.  “You’ll have to carry me.  And lift me up to the table, and put me in my car seat.  I can’t do it.”  I wonder how long this phase will last….

The best part of the experience was that there were no ticks hiding inside the cast- only a lone pine needle happy to free once more.

 

 

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Doesn’t It All Go By in a Blink

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Broken arm to start off the hot months.

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Baby’s first haircut. Goodbye curls:(

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” ― L.M. MontgomeryAnne’s House of Dreams

When every day of summer lasts a million years (this is how it feels anyway) I find myself forgetting that I only really get a handful of summers with my kids.  What I mean of course, is a handful of summers when they are still mine.  Before they’re begging to go over to friend’s houses and to summer camp and into the future without a backward glance.  It isn’t my wish to keep them little forever- little kids are an incredible amount of work.  But I do love the innocence.  I love the soft cheeks, the concept that mom and dad can make everything alright, and the way they sleep without anything weighing them down.

These are a few pictures of our summer so far- a blur of manic energy contained in a few photos.

 

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July garden.

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Calvert Marine Museum, terrapin.

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Indoor Beach Day

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The new balance bike.

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Water table fun and bug catching.

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First full family campout, Elk Neck State Park, MD.

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I capture the castle.

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I’m 3 today!

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Life is good.

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Oh yes we DID bring the clip-on highchair.

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Will She Look in the Oven?

It is a rainy and humid day in Southern Maryland.  So humid that I feel moisture gathering between my toes as I sit here typing this.  I have lost track of the number of recent thunderstorms and every day it feels like we are walking through a thick pea soup.  The snack crackers grow soggy before you can eat them.  My hair is at its curliest this time of year and it seems that my son has inherited my humidometer locks.  This week he is all ringlets.  We have been attempting to air out our sleeping bags from a recent campout but the longer they hang over the upstairs railing the wetter they get.  You get the idea.

Clearly this was not the best day to mop my kitchen floor.  However it was long overdue and it had become so sticky that traveling through the kitchen felt like trying to fight my way out of a glue trap.  I was over it.  I would vanquish the stickiness.  I would beat it into submission.  Prying myself out of the wooden chair I went through the motions of mopping.  Then the water sat there.  For hours.  Not drying.  Perhaps even accumulating more moisture as it sat glistening at me in a mean-spirited kind of way.

Finally I took down the baby gate in order to make lunch.  Instantly one child went down.  Then the second.  Possibly both concussed from the wetness of my disgusting kitchen floor.  The baby gate went back up.  The dog towels came out so I could dry the whole thing by hand and even after all this the floor was somehow stickier than ever.

I opted to take my aggression out on the stove which I have not cleaned in two years of living in this house.  Why clean it now?  Because my mother is coming in 2 days.  My mother who always has a sparkling stove and who lives 3,000 miles away where she cannot regularly check mine.  Chances are that she will not, in her week of visiting, actually open my oven.  However we all  know that the only way to be sure is to clean it.  That’s the rule.

So the oven is clean, the floor is mopped (for all the good it did me), and the outdoor plants have been watered.  That’s the extent of it.  Everything else is grimy, smeary, crusty, and stinky.

Yesterday my daughter wanted to check her reflection as she recently ran through a screen door and landed on some bricks yielding an incredible fat lip that she has been diligently monitoring.  I followed her to the mirror and happened to notice that one of my fingernails, which I had just hurriedly trimmed, had landed in a highly visible spot in my hair.  Fortunately I was able to remove it before we set off for Target.

So it seems that I have landed myself in, “The Grimy Years”.  I get that now.  The area under my son’s clip-on highchair must be scrubbed by hand 3 times a day- 4 if we have a snack.  Oh yes, I could leave it but then he would track it all over my house.  Two nights ago I asked my 3 year old daughter to try to keep her mulberry jam off the white carpet.  She did.  But I forgot to mention that if you need to sneeze when you are chewing up beets be sure to contain the result.  Oh white carpet, why were you ever invented?

My toilet is sweating.  A lot.  The floor is uneven so all the sweat forms a river and the river leads to the low spot right in front of the bathroom sink.  When my daughter travels across the bathroom to get her potty seat (7 times a day?) she must walk right through it.  Sometimes she slips.  I wipe it up several times a day while glaring at the toilet and demanding, “Really?  Do you have to be a jerk?”

Grimy.   Humid.  Gross.  Motherhood.

 

Best Old School Toys

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New school 2011

20140323-142236.jpgWe didn’t know it at the time but the toys we grew up with in the early 80’s were simply the best.  Many of them are no longer being replicated, at least in the way we remember them.  Wooden Tinker Toys are no longer being sold- there are plastic versions in “girl colors” and “boy colors” but nothing like what we remember. Mr. Potato Head, which used to be rather well-made, has evolved into a cheap and unfortunate tuber. The two new Potato Heads we bought new a couple months ago are impossible for my preschooler to do by herself and even though the female has a throw-back hairstyle they shout “Modern!  Shiny! 21st century! Junk!” The pieces don’t fit well, the glasses fall off, the hair thunks to the floor at the least provocation.

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Old school 1983

Last week on a vacation in upstate NY my family was lucky enough to run across not one, not two, but three old school Potato Heads from 1983.  The year is printed inside the butt flap in case you’d like to know when your own model originated.  Now I’m not looking forward to answering questions about Mr. Potato Head 1983’s pipe(which is kinda cute if you don’t think too much about it) but you can’t dispute that the toys were built to last, to be functional, and to be fun.  They were more than money makers.

When I was a bit older Domino Rally came out and I thought it looked incredibly entertaining.  I got it for Christmas that year and couldn’t have been more disappointed.  The loop-de-loop malfunctioned repeatedly,and  the track was always falling apart.  I should have realized then that the era of good toys was ending.  If I’d made that realization I certainly wouldn’t have given away all the tangible pieces of my childhood.  I would have kept them for my own kids.  Alas, here I am searching thrift stores whenever I have the chance.  My husband just rescued his childhood collection of He-Man action figures from his parent’s attic.  We are both ridiculously excited about this.

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Tinker toy telescopes

For the most part we try to buy wooden toys and toys that are 2nd hand.  Even better are toys that are wooden AND 2nd hand.  Fortunately for me and for my kids, my dad is an amateur toy maker.

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The Myrtle Turtle and a VW bug.

I grew up playing with a handmade pull-duck with leather feet that flapped along on a rolling wooden wheel.   I learned my states early and confidently because I had a huge wooden map of the USA with puzzle pieces of all 50 states.  I had a wooden whale puzzle that had only 5 pieces but was deceptively difficult and my dolls got rocked in a handmade cradle which eventually got donated to the Para Los Ninos foundation in Los Angeles.  To my everlasting regret I didn’t keep most of the gifts my father made.  I only have the whale puzzle, a jewelry box made out of a tree limb, and a giant rocking cow named Bessie.  Incidentally, Bessie weighs about 50 pounds and won’t be living with us forever:)

My dad has begun making wooden toys for my kids.  It’s a very lucky thing to have a toy maker in the family.  My daughter has her own pull mouse which she delightedly drags all over the college campus down the road and my 11 month old has figured out how to push his wooden cars across the living room.  I absolutely love watching them play with things that didn’t come in a box.  Things that were made by a real person, things that have imperfections (not referring to Mr. Potato Head here), toys that encourage activity instead of passivity.

It’s a changing world.  I do see the advantages of having a preschooler who knows how to use a variety of computers.  But I also see the need to teach our kids how to build with their hands and how to race real wooden cars.

What’s your best old school toy?

Daylight SAVINGS Time?

20140313-162246.jpg“Daylight savings never saved us anything and Thanksgiving time never gave us anything and Autumn’s peak only made us wish for spring….”  Eddie from Ohio 

Before I was a parent I was a person.  And as a person I could adjust twice a year to the bizarre custom known as Daylight Savings Time (DST).  Now I am a parent.  Of two.  And while the Autumnal DST seemed to help our family schedule, this whole process of springing forward is worse than a C-section recovery.

Daylight savings time is the epitome of frustration for many of the parents I know.  Just when you have it all figured out, just when naptime finally happens many hours before dinner, just when the kids are finally going to bed by 8, DST comes to wreak havoc on family life.  

It makes me wish I had saved one of those stress balls that were so popular in the 90’s.  Or that I had all my materials already gathered for my future cob house.  Some manual mud and straw mixing could do wonders.  Better still would be some grandparents within 1000 miles.  What I’d give to be able to drop my kids off with the grandparents….

After a couple days of attempting to come to terms with the unfortunate affliction that is DST, after increased quantities of caffine and endless minutes spent listening to Harry Potter audiobooks (much to my husband’s chagrin), after falling asleep last night at 9PM without brushing my teeth and still wearing my slippers, I have finally realized something that makes me feel much better.

I am not alone.  If you have young children it is highly likely that you are sporking yourself in the eyeball right along with me.  Thank you.  I like to think we will persevere over time.  And in the meantime, they tell me spring is on the way.  One brave frontyard  daffodil has started to peek out- let’s hope it’s a trendsetter.

20140313-162232.jpgWe have taken down our paper snowflakes and put up our spring flowers made of tissue paper.  When my toddler reminds me, “I don’t WANT to go to BED!” I just look at them hanging from the woodstove pipe and breathe.  We’ll get it all sorted out again.  Just in time to fall back………

Potty Training Hell (Why I’m a Terrible Mother)

If you’ve never potty trained anyone…. you are one lucky bugger.  If you’ve had the joy of declaring your child fully potty trained…. you are also one lucky bugger.  If however you exist somewhere in the middle (such as myself) let me be the first to welcome you to Hell.Summer 2013 049

I used to believe that any kid could be potty trained by age 2 if the care providers prioritized it and the child showed all signs of readiness.  {I’m not the only one who thinks this.  At our 2 year appt. the pediatrician asked how often my daughter was using the potty.  Because he assumed she already was.}  Well.  She has met all the “Ready To Be Potty Trained” bullets since she was about 1 and a half.  She will be 3 years old in June.  We have had failed attempt after failed attempt and yet- we must keep trying.

Why?  Why do I not just hang it up?  I wish I could.  However I KNOW she is capable and that her unwillingness is the only problem.  Therefore it should be fixable.  Also I have a 2nd child.  One who is still a baby and actually does need  diapers.  This whole double diapering situation that has kept us prisoner for the last 10 months has got to stop.  For one thing it makes for ridiculous double pooping in public whenever we try to leave the house.  Yesterday I took the kids to the playground on a cold and windy February day because we’ve been stuck at home a lot lately.  I sat my daughter on the potty before we left and when that didn’t work I urged her to just go in her diaper before we left the house.  “Oh yes Mommy, I’m trying so hard!” she earnestly told me.  Yeah right.

5 minutes after getting to the playground she luxuriously went #1 and #2.  I had to expose her to the cold wind on a 40 degree day in order to get her changed- it was one of those unfortunate times when the diaper tab ripped off so I actually got to put a 2nd diaper on her while her legs swelled with goose bumps.  This kind of thing has been happening all winter.  Have I mentioned that she is quite tall and gets mistaken for a 3 or 4 year old quite often?  You get a lot of dirty looks when people think your 4 year old is pooping their pants at the playground.

Another challenging thing about potty training is that people love to make suggestions.  Some of them are well meant and others are open criticisms that leave you sputtering with rage.  Here’s the one I like best, “Why are you putting your child through this?”  Hmmm.  Well because I’m a terrible mother I suppose.  I  want my child to be able to use public facilities and attend a preschool.  I’d like her to not be the only one of her same-aged friends (and I do mean the only one) going potty on herself.  Because every morning she now creates a lake on the floor when it becomes apparent that her diaper cannot possibly hold everything that her bladder can.  Another commonly proffered pearl of wisdom is, “Well she’ll get it sometime.  At least before she graduates high school.  Hahaha.”  At times like this I have to hold out two fingers and chant, “I’m squishing your head,” while making vicious pinching motions.

Potty training sucks.  It arrives out of nowhere to interfere in your otherwise perfect relationship with your amazing child whom you love beyond measure.  It leaves you angry with yourself, frustrated with your child, and longing for days when your kids are old enough to do things (anything) for themselves.  It’s hard to step back and remember that although they still “need” diapers they are still sweet, still uncorrupted, still in footie pajamas, still small enough to fit in your lap and ask you to kiss their hip when they fall down.

I haven’t given up as this is not an issue you can just ignore.  But I have given in.  I have realized that a highly verbal child does not equal a potty-trained one.  That just because my daughter is capable of telling me she needs to use the potty  doesn’t mean she will.  And that in a world where everyone else seems to control everything this is one thing that little people can take possession of.

During these potty training days I’m not really sure which of the two of us is the Devil and which is the minion.  I’m only sure of the environment.  And that is somewhere I’d like to escape from as soon as possible.

Darned If You Do

There wasn’t time to tell my husband that I was saving the pile of lint on top of the dryer.  I had hopes of showing my daughter how to make paper.  This was a lofty goal because 1)  She is only 2  and 2)  When was I ever going to find a time when my baby was sleeping in order to teach her?  Still I had a plan and when my lint mysteriously disappeared I knew who to blame.

“Honey, did you throw away my lint?” (This sounded absurd even to me.)

“Isn’t that what we normally do with lint?”

Fair point.

He glanced at me with mild concern, as if waiting to be told that I’ve been working on the world’s biggest lint ball and storing it in the scary condemned shack that shares our driveway. A giant lint ball is  about the only thing that could make that place creepier than it already is.

Any other day I would have expected him to throw away the lint and possibly reprimanded him for leaving it there.  How’s a working dad supposed to win against a stay-at-home parent?

It made me think of all the things I’ve said to my poor husband in the last 2 years, all of which may have justifiably caused him to view me as a Nazi.

As a stay at home parent the house is my domain.  That’s not really what I want, it’s just what happens when someone is home as much as me.  My partner comes home at the end of the day and waits for instructions because he is tired of doing the wrong thing.  I don’t blame him a bit.  I don’t remember to share things like, “Oh- you have to give the baby his own spoon to hold now unless you want him to rip yours out of your hands.”  And so he has to find things out the hard way and spend part of dinner cleaning the beef stew off the floor instead of enjoying his own meal.

It isn’t until he has already dressed the baby in the morning that I think to tell him, “Oh- breakfast is a pajama kind of meal these days.  Otherwise we have to change him all over again.”  The poor man.  No matter what he does I always have a better way.  No matter how attentive he is it’s never enough.  I call him at work to frantically shout, “Where the hell is the snot bulb sucker?”  Or, “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE CHEERIOS?”

My God.  What have I become?

Stay at home parents get a lot of pity.  People realize it’s a hard job that is some days full of tedious repetitive chores and not much gratitude.  However, other days you get to wear your pajamas all day, go braless, and bake cookies  so it rather evens out.  The working parents- the ones who support their families and have to come home to psycho spouses with ridiculous rules and double standards- now those are the ones who deserve our pity.

Sorry honey.  FYI:  The paper towel tubes in the laundry room?  I’m saving them to make a marble run.