Days of Plenty

Lately my children have been on sweetness overdrive. Seriously, the stuff that comes out of their mouths the last few weeks make me stop in my tracks, get all doe-eyed, and let out an audible “Oohhh!”  Here are a few examples:

-While reading a comic book, David asked me what lovesick means. I explained that sometimes when you love someone your stomach gets fluttery and your heart races and it makes you feel sick in a good way. His reply, “like how I feel about Sydney at her birthday party.” Awww….

-A few nights later, David tells me, “Mom, I’m lovesick for you.” Double Awww…

-I go to the Y to workout and leave Ben at the daycare for about an hour. When I came to pick him up yesterday, the girl a the counter was holding him. When he saw me, he got a huge smile, clapped his hands and yelled, “Mommy’s here!” I don’t know if anyone has ever been more happy to see me than my kids are, even if I have only been gone from the room long enough to go pee.

-A recent conversation between David and Ben:

David: Hi Ben, did you have a good sleep, sweet pea?

Ben: Yes!

David: Can I snuggle with you?

Ben: Yes!

David (crawling under the covers): See outside? It’s foggy today.

Ben: It’s foggy!

David (kissing Ben on the forehead): I love you.

Ben: I love you too!

-Ben’s favorite game right now is when I pretend to be a shark and he’s a fish. I do the Jaws theme (na-na, na-na, na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, NA-Na-NA!) and then eat him up. My kid is pretty rad.

-David calls me sweetie, honey, and “my best mom” on a daily basis. Must remember this in the future when those names will be replaced with annoying, nag, and “pain in my ass.”

Life is about the tiny moments of joy that too often pass by unrecognized. I wanted to save these, write them down, give them a place of permanence for a time when I need to be reminded that everything is amazing. Because everything is.

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Harry, the Laziest Elf on the Shelf Ever

I never planned on getting on the Elf of the Shelf bandwagon. It seemed too cutesy for me and honestly, that wide-eyed elf face creeps me the eff out. But one day a few weeks ago the kids were fighting over what to watch on TV. David was watching Spongebob and Benny kept turning off the TV. David would get up and scream at Ben for turning it off. Then Ben turned the TV off again and laughed. Then David did his high-pitched whiny thing he does when he is really frustrated and and screamed “Benny stop it!” before turning the TV on again. Periodically, I would yell from the kitchen, where I was trying to prepare the 300th meal of the day, to stop touching the TV. I think i even said something like the button would wear out from being pushed so much and that I wouldn’t buy a new TV if they broke it. They didn’t care and after this loop of annoyance was repeated over and over, I lost it.

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Tell me this isn’t the stuff nightmares are made of.
Photo courtesy of http://www.elfontheshelf.com

 

“That’s it!” I yelled, stomping my way to the living room. “I am sick of you guys not listening to me. I called Santa and he is sending an elf to watch you and tell him if you are being bad!” Because nothing says Christmas like threatening your children with a permanent spot on the naughty list.

“Santa is sending us an elf?”David said, his eyes lit with glee. “Can I see the elf? When is he coming?” I hadn’t anticipated his excitement since I didn’t exactly frame this elf thing in a positive light, but David was excited. Benny just looked at me and then hucked a train across the room.

So the elf came and we read the book and picked a name (Harry) and set him on the shelf. And it worked like magic. Every time the kids started to fight over a toy, I would see David look up at the shelf, and then hand his brother whatever piece of plastic they were about to come to blows over. Throughout the next few days, David chattered happily about all the good things Harry was going to tell Santa. Everything was going according to plan, except for one thing–I didn’t realize how much involvement this stinking elf would require of me. I’m supposed to move this stone faced little freak all over my house each night. But I can’t just stick him on the couch and be done with it, it’s supposed to be getting into mischief. Now I barely have enough room in my brain to remember to feed the dog twice (okay once, but it’s a super big bowl) a day, how am I supposed to come up with 24 fun and original scenes of elfin adventures?

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Seriously people, can we lower the bar a little?
Photo courtesy of crazyloucreations.blogspot.com

 

On day three, David woke up and ran into the living room. His face fell as he looked at the shelf and at Harry sitting exactly as he was the day before. “Hey, Harry didn’t move!”David yelled. “I thought he was magic.” Leave it to me to introduce a heartwarming and cherished Christmas tradition just to crush it three days in. In my defense, I fall asleep putting my kids to bed most nights. It’s not like I should be expected to stay awake past 8:30pm just to move a stupid elf around the house.

Thinking quickly, and having enough introspection to know that Harry would be sitting on that shelf for many more mornings to come, I said, “David! Can you believe it? Santa sent us a lazy elf! Harry is so lazy he doesn’t even move.” David looked at me and the rumpled his eyebrows.

“Mom, our elf is so lazy! Santa is going to be so mad at you Harry!” David said, pointing at the wrongly accused elf. I couldn’t help smiling to myself and thinking how lucky David is to have such a smart mom. Now David is happy when Harry is found in a different spot in the house (I did manage to hid him in the pile of laundry on the couch and in a bag of pretzels) or if he is still on the shelf. So the moral of the story is to know yourself, your limitations and abilities, and have a clever excuse at the ready to explain away any of your shortcomings.

Are you an Elf on the Shelf over-achiever or slacker?

Merry Christmas!

Sentences I Never Said Before Having Kids

Motherhood forces you to explain the obvious, the absurd, and the disgusting on a daily basis.  Every so often you hear yourself utter a sentence that makes you stop and think, “Did I really just say that?”  For example:

-“If it stinks, stop sniffing it and go wash your hands.”

-“Please stop licking my sunglasses.”

-“I already told you, they don’t sell shrink-rays at Target.”

-“You can’t eat your ice cream until you finish your french fries.”

-“I’m sorry, but when your brother throws up on your shoes it’s time to leave the zoo.”

-“The mailman doesn’t want to see your wiener, please close your shades.”

What is your favorite parenting sentence?

Signs of Stay-at-Home Burnout

All jobs are stressful and demanding, which is why there are labor laws in place to guarantee that the basic rights of workers are protected.  There are defined business hours, coffee and lunch breaks, and mandatory days off.  If you are lucky, your place of employment also offers vacation time and sick leave.

This cannot be said of stay-at-home-parenting, a 24 hour a day, 365 day a year job, working for the most demanding of all human beings: children.  A recent study found stay-at-home parents report being more stressed, more worried, and more depressed than their corporately employed counterparts.

photo courtesy of http://nickandzuzu.com/

Burnout is a real possibility stay-at-home parents need to be wary of.  Here are some signs that it may be time to schedule a spa day and leave the kids with the sitter:

-Your idea of a lullaby is repeatedly chanting “go to f*@#ing sleep” while checking your Twitter stream.

Seriously, go to sleep.
Image courtesy of amazon.com

-While looking for your keys, you lift up the couch cushions and reveal used Kleenex, a half-eaten lollipop coated in dog hair, and enough change to pay for a full tank of gas.  Not seeing your keys, you replace the cushion and go check the bathroom.

If you pretend you didn’t see it, it’s not really there.
photo courtesy of http://lifeasmom.com

-When your four-year-old drops the f-bomb at preschool, you furrow your brow, shake your head, and mutter “what has your father been letting you watch.” You then sneak a peak at the teacher’s face to see if she is buying it.

-Your secret nickname for the baby is “Mommy’s little burden.”

-You let your kids watch Human Centipede, thinking it is a nature special.

You’ll make it up to them by paying for their therapy bills when they are adults.
photo courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Centipede

-You wear headphones all day so when your spouse asks why you didn’t pick up the dry cleaning like they asked, you can point to your ears, shrug and say “I can’t hear you.  I have my earbuds in.”

Were you talking to me?
photo courtesy of http://www.ipodhistory.com

-Headphones also drown out all but the most serious of your children’s screams.

-You feed your kids chocolate milk and cheese puffs for breakfast because you didn’t go grocery shopping the night before, instead opting to watch a very special episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County.

She’s the ideal housewife, unmarried and childless.
photo courtesy of http://www.cliqz.com

-You pack up all three kids and yourself into the car and race to the store at 6am when you discover that you’re all out of “mommy juice.”

photo courtesy of etsy.com

Morning Chatter

As a parent, it’s only natural to want to give your child everything they desire. I usually give in to most of David’s requests, be it a trip to the park, or a limited edition Spider-Hulk action figure which can only be purchased on eBay. And then the day comes when your child asks for something you can’t possibly give them.

Like a shrink-ray.

“What do you want to do today?” I asked David over breakfast this morning.

“I want to go to the toy store to buy a shrink-ray.”

“A what?”

“A shrink-ray. I’ll take it to school and I’ll shoot my friends–SIZZZZZZZZZZ–and then they’ll be tiny, tiny, tiny like babies!”

“Why do you want to shrink your friends?”

“Then I’ll be the boss at school. And Miss Teacher will say ‘David why did you shrink the friends’ and I can say ‘because I am a mean boy!'”

“And then what?”

“Baby friends will cry and have to go home. And then I don’t go to circle.”

“So, you want to shoot your friends at school with a shrink-ray so you don’t have to go to circle time?”

“Yes. Can we go to the toy store?”

“Um, not today buddy.”

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Future Evil-Genius

Hawaiian Adventure Recap: By the Numbers

We are home now after our week on Kauai’s southern coast.  My plan was to write blog posts documenting each day of our trip.  Then I realized I was on vacation, so I drank a beer instead! Seriously, this trip is what all of us needed and I can’t wait to do it again.  Here is the breakdown of our seven days in paradise:

Hours spent on airplanes: 11.5  This may not seem like much but remember, I have two kids to deal with.  They were fantastic though (and that isn’t a mommy lie) and I was really proud of them both.  They were better behaved than I was.  At around the two-and-a-half hour mark on the overnight flight home, I was seized with the overwhelming desire to grab  each sleeping passenger by their shoulders and shake them as hard as I could until they were awake and as miserable as I was.  And when the woman in front of me decided to recline her chair into my three inches of personal space, I dug my knees into the back of her seat until she decided to sit upright again.

Pounds gained: 2  After all the mai tais, margaritas, hula pie, and the amazing dinner at The Beach House (watermelon salad, stuffed chicken breast with polenta, and cranberry cheesecake!) I’m surprised I didn’t gain more.  Two pounds is a small price to pay for a week of eating what I wanted and not feeling guilty.

Sea urchin attacks: 1  Casey is at Urgent Care right now getting the remaining spines pulled from his foot and hand.  David told all the kids at circle time today that his dad stepped on a spiky monster that lives in the ocean.  Maybe I shouldn’t have been so dramatic in my explanation of what a sea urchin is, but have you seen these things? This is why I maintain the ocean is for looking at, not for going into.

My husband’s assailant
Photo from reefguide.org

Near-death experiences: 1  I decided I should try something new while on vacation, be adventurous for once.  Not heeding my own advice about the ocean, I asked Casey to take me out snorkeling.  Even though I can only manage a frantic doggie paddle, I thought I would be able to handle floating on top of the water and staring down at fish.  I was wrong.   As I clung to a boogie board, I started to realize this was a bad idea.  I asked Casey how I was supposed to move around.  I tried to appear calm but my voice only came out in shrill bursts because I was hyperventilating .  He told me to let go of the board and start swimming.  I told him he was nuts.  He rolled his eyes. Just then, I saw a dark shadow lurking beneath  the water.  Of course my mind reached the only logical explanation: I was about to be eaten by a shark.  I tried to leap onto the boogie board but instead I flipped it out of the water when I put too much of my weight on the end.  A huge (1 foot) wave crashed down and flung me to the shore.  I tried to get my footing, but another wave pulled me out again.  As I felt myself rocketing towards the shore once again, I saw a father walking his tiny, no more than two-year-old daughter to the surf.  This wasn’t going to be good.  I managed to drag my foot into the sand, slowing myself down enough to stop short of colliding with the toddler by six inches.  I gave a breathless apology as I struggled to my feet and trudged out of the treacherous water.  And just because the shadow ended up being a shark-shaped rock doesn’t mean I am paranoid.

Times I wished we never had to leave: Too many to count.  Kauai stole my heart like no place has.  I want to live there and spend my days  feeding feral chickens, speaking pidgen, and watching sunsets in my I ❤ Kauai t shirt as I eat hula pie.   If Kauai was a man it would be a doctor who loved to cook and clean, and would hold your hair after one too many mojitos.  Kauai was the perfect counter to living in an overcrowded, fast-paced city where no one seems too happy to be.  If I can figure out a way to spend the rest of my life there, that is exactly what I will be doing.

 

Aloha

Hawaiian Adventure Day 1: Kids on a Plane!

When we first started planning our family trip to Kauai, my biggest worry was getting there. A 5 1/2 hour flight with a four-year old and a five-month old is not what I would call a good time. But the promise of fruity, alcohol-filled drinks and a week of no appointments was too enticing. We would brave the plane. And if it went horribly, which was almost guaranteed, I would never see any of those plane people again. I crossed my fingers that nothing YouTube-worthy would occur and the trip was booked.

David is a pretty adventurous kid and was excited to go on a plane ride. Benjamin is a self-consumed baby whose only desire in life is to have me hold him every moment of his life. Score for them both! We left for the airport at 4:30 in the morning but since neither of my kids sleep, they were wide awake and raring to go when the cab showed up. Who knew sleep deprivation had an upside?

Our first flight was a quick 24 minutes to Los Angeles, a nice warmup before the extended jaunt over the Pacific Ocean. As we sat on the runway waiting for take-off David looked at me and said, “no more airplane. Let’s go home now.” Oh shit. Thankfully, the plane started moving and as the G forces glued him to his seat, David started grinning.

Once in the air, I started to relax. Benni was sleeping away on my lap and David seemed to be adjusting to life at 3000 ft. And then David said, “momma the plane is going to crash into the ocean!” He slammed his hands together and then said “Ahhhh!” as he fluttered his finger-people towards their watery demise. “Ah, haha!” I said, flattening his hands into his lap, “no honey, don’t be silly.” I glanced around at the other passengers, hoping none were planning a vigilante attack on my son. It seems David has inherited my ability to say the most inappropriate thing in any given situation. He repeated the crash, ahh! gestures a few more times before I distracted him with a blueberry muffin.

Once in LAX, we refueled with croissant sandwiches since Burger King was the only option. David, who hasn’t eaten gluten in six months, was extra energized by his breakfast and proceeded to have a one-sided ninja fight with himself complete with summersaults and dramatic facial expressions. As I watched him dart back and forth running from imaginary enemies, I was thankful for the two hour layover.

By the time our next flight was boarding, David’s gluten-high had worn off and I had cajoled Benni back to sleep with some bouncing and repeated refrains of Hide Your Love Away. This was as good as it was going to get. As we squished into our undersized seats, my husband and I shared a glance of commiseration. For better or worse we were in this thing together and that made the next six hours seem not so scary.

And then the unbelievable happened; for the entire flight both of my children behaved like absolute saints. Not a cry, complaint, or inappropriate exclamation was heard. I do owe Steve Jobs and any other technological geniuses responsible for the iPad a huge thanks on this one. Seriously, how did people travel with kids before Angry Birds? As we landed in Kauai I looked out the window at the lush landscape and thought, this was totally worth it.

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