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………

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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.

Be Nice: It Just Takes a Minute

I’m just gonna say it.  I’m not as nice as I used to be.  Fortunately the rest of my family is a good influence and I am not yet too old to learn from them.

This morning the kids and I went to our local warehouse food store.  Warehouses:  Making food shopping depressing yet affordable year after year.  Just this morning I discovered that my baby is big enough to ride in the front of the cart with his sister instead of in the Ergo.  This was an extremely liberating discovery.

While we walked through the produce section we overheard another mother conversing with her son about broccoli.  My daughter chimed right in.  “Oh!  We like broccoli!  We have some at home.  My daddy likes broccoli- he likes all green foods.  We are buying him some green foods right now!  Today we bought him celery and kale and lettuce.  Look!”

For a moment I couldn’t quite believe that she had chosen to portray her parents in a positive light.  It was extremely encouraging.  The most encouraging thing however happened in the check-out line.  My daughter really likes names.  She had named her entire collection of Little People (40?) and once they were named it was forever.  Cindy Lou Who, Liz Leininger, Murphy, Wendy, and Farmer Jack are often found playing Ring-Around-The-Rosie in the low windowsills of our house.  Winter 2013 008

She likes names so much that she would not hesitate to ask yours if given the slightest opportunity.  So it was that she asked the cashier, “What’s your name?”

“Oh.  It’s Karen,” she answered.  It seemed unlikely that anyone else had cared what her name was this morning.

My exuberant 2 year old remarked, “Karen?  Karen!  That’s a super name.  Good-bye, have a GREAT day Karen!  We’ll come back to visit you soon!”

Karen’s eyebrows rose.  She glanced at me.  I smiled at her.  She smiled back.  Her posture straightened, she rotated her body so she was fully facing us and little bit of life went back into her eyes.

We rolled ourselves away and I wondered when I last complimented someone in the service industry.  When did I offer more than the obligatory “thank-you”?  In moments like these I am aware that having kids was the best thing I ever did.  Not for the planet certainly, but for my own selfish desires.  They will keep me nice.

The Details

Last night my baby slept for 10 hours straight.  This was unprecedented to say the least.  He finally slept longer than 3 hours at a time!  I wanted to embrace this new set of circumstances and yet….. it was awfully strange.  At 2 AM I began regular breathing checks as I crouched over the crib listening for breath and putting my hand on his back when I didn’t hear anything right away. When he finally roused at 6AM I was thankful and exhausted.  And that is exactly why parents get gray hair before non-parents.  Children get you coming and going.

This morning I was taking my weekly shower when I heard someone fiddling with the doorknob.  Yes, it was my toddler who just recently became quite adept at doorknobs.  She marched up to the shower, flung open the curtain and greeted me exuberantly.  “Hi Mommy!”

“Hi honey.  Where’s Daddy?”

“Making my oatmeal in the kitchen.”

“Hmm.  It’s probably ready- why don’t you go see?  Shut the door behind you please.”

{Sounds of a baby crawling my way- is he in the bathroom?  In the doorway?}

“Wait!  Don’t shut the door!  Do not shut it!”  {Toddler’s footsteps pound toward the kitchen.}

{Baby spots me in the shower, gets a look of glee and begins pulling up on the shower curtain.}

“Husband!!!”  {Husband arrives perplexed.}  “The children are overthrowing my alone time.”

“Well, why did you leave the door open?”

{Lengthy sputtering on my part before the door closes and my husband is heard chuckling all the way to the kitchen.}

This is life with two children.  And a husband.

When I stepped out of the shower the baby was immediately thrust into my arms for a diaper change.  The smell left no doubt as to why my husband chose to pass him off.  So the amount of time spent being and feeling clean = less than 1 minute.  Having developed a bit of a 6th sense about poop I turned to my daughter.  Sure enough she was following suit.  My children are generally united in their bathroom habits.

While changing my daughter who refuses to use the potty (probably this is karmic punishment for previous bad deeds on my part) my baby once again crawled into the bathroom.  When I turned around he was pulling up on the potty.  The POTTY.  Gross.  To conclude: My daughter, who should be using a potty, won’t go anywhere near it and my baby wants nothing more than to commune with it whenever possible.  And by commune I do mean eat.

By the time we began to eat the oatmeal lovingly prepared by my husband it had congealed into a solid.  Solid like a desk is solid.  Well, that’s nothing new.  We dug in.

Got Sun?

An absolutely ridiculous thing about having kids is that when you finally do get a minute of pe20140121-112700.jpgace your brain may be too fried to think of anything fun to do with your offspring.  This is why I love Pinterest.  Last month my daughter and I finally got to make sun catchers.  What is a sun catcher?  Only a life saver if you happen to have a toddler and an infant.  Particularly in winter when playground time is sparse, the local museum is closed for renovation, and you share a car with your husband.

20140121-112636.jpgThey are easy enough even for young toddlers and if they are motivated (we were lacking a bit there) the project can be completed fairly independently.  We chose to make several small ones in honor of Grandma Plummie’s birthday and one large one for a friend who was coming over for dinner.

You just need clear contact paper, some colored construction paper, colored tissue paper (at least 4 colors), tape and scissors.  Simply cut a shape border out of the construction paper (such as a triangle, heart, or rectangle), peel off the back of  the contact paper cut large enough to fill the frame you’ve just made, and tape the whole thing to a window, sticky side facing away from the window.  Rip the tissue paper into small bits and put them in a bowl for your child.  Let them stick the pieces onto the frame until it is full.  Voila.  A sun catcher to keep in the window to imitate stained glass.20140121-112550.jpg

A great thing about this project is that you can revisit it fairly often.  That’s my plan anyway, at least until spring comes and we can get back outside.

Toddler Leg Warmers from Old Socks

Yo20140105-150208.jpgu know you’ve got some lurking in a drawer.  They may have been there just since Christmas or maybe for years….. undesirable socks.  Old, ugly, or with a hole in the heel, they just sit there taking up valuable real estate.

Do you happen to know a toddler?  If so, you can turn your old socks into fantastic leg warmers in 10 minutes by following these directions.  I take no credit for this idea or the above directions.  I merely support the realization that the excitement of Christmas is over and everybody needs a pick me up, especially the little ones.

I made three pair of these recently in less than half an hour and the only sewing skills you need are the ability to cut and to sew in a straight line20140105-150244.jpg.  I put my daughter’s on over her leggings for a bit of extra warmth.  We keep our house fairly cold and wear sweaters indoors all winter.  Why not leg warmers too?  They’re also great for winter playground visits.  Old ski socks would be great for this project if you have some.  In my case I used knee socks that had always been a little too big in the foot area.  Happy sewing!

Then and Now

Winter 2013 343

Together time

On the more challenging days of being a stay at home parent it is easy to lament about the things you used to have before you reproduced.  These things include the freedom to close the door when using the bathroom, the ability to go grocery shopping in under half an hour, the dozen eggs that used to last 2 weeks in the fridge.

My chiropractor asks me why I’m not doing my back stretches.  I try to explain that my toddler sees stretching as an opportunity to gleefully jump on my back and so I come out of the situation worse for wear.  He asks if there is a way I can prevent that.  I just laugh and laugh.

At lunch today I noticed that the wall next to my baby’s highchair has the remains of at least a half dozen meals on it.  Speckles of dried blueberries, beef stew, and zucchini paint a vibrant landscape.  Instead of finding this alarming I consider adding Food Art to our weekly activity list and I leave the food where it is.  Like you, I am concerned when I read that last sentence but I’m also realistic.  It is unlikely that I will spent the precious moments of this elusive double nap scrubbing food off of yet another surface.  Double naps are for pondering the changes brought on by two tiny tots in less than 2 years.  For remembering what was and appreciating what is.  For taking a few moments for stillness.  And gratitude.

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Mirror faces

I kind of love that last week’s food is drying on my walls.  I love that my glasses are forever crooked thanks to my head-bonking toddler and my exploratory baby.  When I find plastic kitchen implements stuffed into my back pockets I know they were put there with love by a little girl who wanted me to feel included.

Does my bathroom always smell like poop?  Yes.  Do we manage to use 10,000 tiny bowls over the course of the day?  Yes.  Do I have more of a relationship with my baby food maker than I do with my husband at the moment?  Possibly.  Am I ok with this?  You bet.

I had my time for me.  I had it all through my twenties and it was AMAZING.  In my thirties now I have no trouble acknowledging that my “me” time is on hold.  It’s what happens, it’s the next chapter.  The chapter where my family joins in my adventures.  Where we have battles over potties and sleepless nights with sick children, and

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Learning to live.

carpets full of crunchy Puffs that get stepped on and ground in like sand.  We also

have sock wars, family music night, mornings full of laughter, evenings that find us practicing our bird calls, and moment after moment of sheer delight.

With all the sweetness in my toothy boy’s smile and all the shine in my daughter’s hair and all the generosity that pours off my husband like water, we are a family.  And sometimes families smell like poop.