Monday, June 29, 2009

More for me!

I was sitting on the kitchen floor changing Wesley's diaper on Saturday afternoon when Charlie picked up my half full coffee cup from that morning. "Ooh, Buddy, don't drink that, it's Mama's" I said to him.

He poured some (cold, thankfully) coffee into his juice glass and started walking towards me. "Charlie, coffee is not for boys. Don't drink tha--" and with that he took a big gulp.

His eyes flew open in an expression of horrified concern and he began crying as coffee streamed down his chin and chest. He stood there panicking for several minutes--mouth open, afraid to swallow, whining--until I was able to pull myself together and get him a glass of water. I was still laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes when Ryan came downstairs to see what all the commotion was about.

After he recovered he put my coffee mug back on the table firmly and said to me scornfully "That GROSS, Mama!"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Diagnosis Boo Boo

Both of the hubbies were out of town so my sister and I decided to get the cousins together for some breakfast tacos and pool-time today. And what would Cousin Fun Day be without a trip to the emergency room?

Modeling his bracelets

At breakfast, I asked Charlie to sit down at the table and while he was climbing over the picnic table bench he got tangled up in his Crocs and flipped backwards off the bench. He hit the concrete floor head first.

Several minutes of loud, hysterical screaming later he calmed down and drank a little orange juice and seemed to be TOTALLY FINE.

I willed myself not to think about recent news stories involving seemingly unremarkable head bumps.

We finished breakfast and got in our cars. Before we left we debated whether we should go on the little train at the park or just head back to my house for some relaxed backyard fun. I got in my car and dialed Pediatrician Man, thinking the nurse would confirm my hunch that I should just keep an eye on Charlie and maybe make an office visit appointment later in the afternoon. Instead she told me to take him to the emergency room at the children's hospital. Now.

Okey dokey.

My sister took Wesley and my niece back to my house and Charlie and I headed for the ER. Having believed everything was fine before I called Pediatrician Man, I was now struggling to stay calm.

The triage nurse asked me to describe the fall, where on his head hit the floor first, had he lost consciousness (OH MY GOD do you really think I would have driven him here MYSELF?), had he thrown up? He hadn't done any of those things and I was feeling a little silly for being there. Then she felt the back of his head for a bump? a crack? protruding brain tissue? and he flinched and pulled away. Poor little guy--and also--thanks for making me look not crazy.

The doctor looked in his eyes, checked his pupils, his ears, and his nose, watched him walk, and asked him questions. He felt the bump and said that it wasn't big enough that he would think he would have any internal head trauma (gulp).

I was to take him home and let him rest and watch for any evidence of head trauma, one symptom of which was irritability. Will all my friends with two-year-olds laugh heartily with me? It was a terrifying afternoon really. Is he really flipping out because I'm not letting him push the stroller into the pool or is his brain swelling out the base of his skull? Is that a tantrum or a traumatic brain injury? Why are you falling asleep half an hour early? Because the emergency room was a scary and stressful experience? Or because your brain stem is being compressed?

Since the doctor said the symptoms would have shown up within an hour of the accident (the accident as in "Well his teeth were so nice and straight before the accident," or "We had high hopes for his future as a NASA engineer before the accident."), and he didn't exhibit any abnormal crankiness or sleepiness, I am confident in the doctor's diagnosis of "boo boo" and will continue to administer apple juice as directed.

Cousin Fun Day resumed after lunch and naps with a trip to the pool and then out for pizza.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Don't MAKE me call pediatrician man.

Dear Wesley,

What the hell? I was cool with waking up at 4:00 to feed you for five minutes then putting you, soft and asleep, back into your crib and tiptoeing out of your room to go back to my own bed. It wasn't ideal, but I now realize that it was a perfectly delightful arrangement.

Especially when compared with our new arrangement. In which you wake up at 1:30 all happy and ready to go. And then you happily nurse for twenty-five minutes or more ONE ONE SIDE but never relax or fall asleep.

It was cute how you were laughing maniacally in the dark the other night. It was amusing to watch you climb all over Ryan while I was trying to get you to settle down in our bed. It was not so cute when I spoke your name and, in your excitement to be reminded of my existence, you lunged for me and gave both of us a concussion.

Seriously kiddo, do you have any idea what nursing for almost an hour, twice a night, ON ONE SIDE does to a person? It is not good.

If you ever want to give that pacifier thing another go, just tell me. Even though you alternately throw it out of reach or shove the entire thing into your mouth like you're having dental x-rays, I feel like we can work through this together. A pacifier, it's like a boob, except portable, available at any time day or night, and NOT CONNECTED TO ANY OF MY NERVE ENDINGS.

In summary, may I just say how adorable you are? I mean, really. You crack me up. But baby, you've got to cool it with the nighttime stuff. Or I'm going to spend your college fund on coffee and pedicures. And therapy.

Love,
Mom

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Progress?

For what feels like the last seventy-five years I've been (sometimes not-so-patiently) helping Charlie learn some constructive ways to handle negative emotions. On the best of days I have kindly said things like "I can tell you are frustrated. Trains should be fun. Maybe it's time to read a book for a little while." On not as good days I have warned firmly "If you throw that train one more time I'm going to put it on top of the fridge for the rest of the week!" On the worst of days I have shouted from the other room "KNOCK IT OFF!!"

I didn't think anything I did or said was getting through. I figured I was just going to have to ride out this stage of his life, which if he's anything like me, he's going to be dealing with some analog of the "train throwing" impulse well into his twenties. Maybe I should just supply him with some donuts and we can be stress eaters together!

And then, on Thursday, a miracle! Charlie was in the playroom working on his train tracks. I heard him rustling around and becoming more and more agitated. I was just about to go in there to intervene when he came out of the playroom and slumped to the floor in the living room.

"I SO FAH-RUS-TERATED!" he wailed then banged his tiny fist on the carpet.

Poor guy. I could not stop laughing. He got started on a new activity and all was well.

Then today, after we returned from the pool right at dinner time, I was in the kitchen starting dinner. Charlie skulked around in the dining room for several minutes then burst into the kitchen and said to Ryan "I am so an-guh-ree!"

We both giggled. How can you not with all those extra syllables? Coming from a three-foot kid wearing a shark swimsuit, crocks, and a purple life jacket? Ryan pulled himself together and offered him some raisins to hold him over. He felt better after eating something.

This extremely verbal stage has brought with it numerous surprises. Like the way he translates for Wesley ("Wesley say 'FEED ME MAMA! FEED ME MAMA!'") or like on Saturday right after we left the new house of new friends and Charlie shrieked "I want to poop in their new house!" just as I closed the door to the car. Or the way he can't visit a public restroom without announcing "I keep my white undies dry JUST LIKE PAPA!" I can't wait to hear what's coming next.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Perspective

It's over. I survived. I just woke up from a nap during which I dreamed the VBS theme music.

I used my mean mommy voice. I threatened time-outs. I threatened standing at the back of the line. I took toys away.

I broke up many fights among exhausted, hungry children.

I cuddled. I encouraged. I sang. I acted silly. We walked in slow motion, walked like robots, walked like birds to keep them occupied as we walked.

It was a pretty good day. But I did get head-butted again. And I had to bodily remove the head-butter from the bouncy house, in a separate incident. All forty-five-ish pounds of him puddled on the ground like a toddler, screaming and whining. I told him to stand up and walk like a big boy or his mommy would be alerted. He stood up for a second and then flopped over, hard, just as I took his hand. Little punk.

They went home. Thank goodness they all went home.

I picked up Charlie and stood in line for teacher appreciation hot dogs with his exhausted body draped over mine, head on my shoulder. I rubbed the spot between his shoulder blades. He wrapped his arms around my neck. We got Wesley. We ate lunch. Charlie said please and thank you and ate nicely with a fork. Wesley ate blueberries off my plate and stared at the lights on the ceiling. When it was time to go Charlie waited patiently in his chair while I threw our plate and cup away.

I know Charlie and Wesley are normal kids and they will drive me crazy on and off for the rest of their lives. But I have never felt luckier that they are mine.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Could someone please tell me what it is that I want?

I. am. so. frustrated.

I wish the Universe (a stand in for whatever you choose) would stop messing with me.

Today we were out on the playground at VBS. The kids were all happy. It was warm and sunny but not too hot. There was a gentle breeze. We had just come from chapel where I got to see a teacher tenderly guide Charlie through his first communion experience. And in that moment I thought I wanted four kids. Really. Me. I know. Another teacher was there, who does have four of the sweetest, most well behaved, adorable kids you could ever imagine. And she seems so happy and free. I wanted to be like her. I wanted it for me and I wanted it for Charlie and Wesley (and James and Mary, my ficticious third and fourth children who will never exist because I will probably have to be institutionalized if I find myself pregnant again).

The rest of the morning was unremarkable until half an hour before dismissal when one little girl screamed angrily at me "I WANT TO GO HOME" and then sat in the middle of the rug sobbing inconsolably for half an hour. I felt for her, I really did. But there was no reasoning with her. And there are thirteen kids. I didn't know what to do. She screamed until her mother came to pick her up. And then two of the boys got into a fight over a bean bag chair. I took the bean bag chair and put it back in its place and shooed the boys to the other side of the room. I turned around to clean some play-doh off a tiny table and one of the boys head-butted me in the butt. I took him by the hand and shooed him away another time, only to have him angrily throw all the trucks off their shelf. Awesome. Yay, let's have two more!

After that magical late-morning experience I got my two knuckleheads loaded into the car and checked my voicemail.

It was Dr. Smarty from the National Lab and he wanted to talk to me about "an opportunity."

I enjoined Charlie to be a "really good quiet boy for just a few minutes" then called Dr. Smarty back. Dr. Smarty asked me what my employment situation was and I told him that I'm looking. He confirmed that I live in South. Then he asked the big one.

"Do you anticipate a move to [state just north of where my friends Michelle and Barack call home] would be possible in the future?"

thud thud thud thud (that's the sound of me smacking my head against the headrest of the car)

"What happened to Mama? You hurt your head on the car?" (that was Charlie)

"Um, no," I replied "I don't anticipate being able to move anytime in the next five years. My husband is involved in the early stages of a project he cares deeply about."

Dr. Smarty sounded disappointed and said that there were "opportunities" he wanted to discuss with me, again. I promised to talk it over with Ryan some more and get back to him if I felt anything could change. He encouraged me to do so.

Exhausted, hungry Charlie whined pitifully the whole way home then fell asleep as I pulled into the garage.

When I started typing I was all fired up about how unfair everything was. That, although it is true that Ryan would move for my job if I asked him to, the practical considerations make it almost impossible. The fact that he has a reliable job that pays for our health insurance and that he enjoys and can be home at six almost every single night is not something to take for granted. We are very lucky that he can support us all allowing me to take care of things here so that our weekends are spent enjoying eachother instead of running errands and taking care of chores. And moving for a job for me is absolutely a bad idea given how willing I would be to quit that job if one of the boys needed me at home for some reason.

I emailed Ryan to tell him about the phone call and rough VBS experience and the pitiful whining from Charlie all the way home. He responded "I really want this for you. How can we make it work?"

And I threw up my hands. Because I have no idea. Now that it is nearly one-hundred degrees in the afternoon here, I could definitely see myself living somewhere else. I miss the change of seasons, I miss sensible city planning, I'd love to take advantage of public transportation.

But the fact remains that a job like the one Dr. Smarty is likely talking about would take a lot more time than I am prepared to give up. Probably. I don't know. Other people manage to make it work all the time. Since my last freakout on here I have been much happier with my new role staying at home than I was (through a combination of refocusing negative thoughts and a serendipitous improvement in Charlie's attitude).

There is no question that it would be a good move professionally. Like flipping the bird to a couple of professors who expressed doubt that I could manage two babies and my research.

I guess the conclusion from all of this is that the National Lab is not the right place for me while Charlie and Wesley are young. What the right place is, I do not know. But there will only be two children involved (with appologies to the two half-cells who might otherwise become James and Mary).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I totally wrecked a kid's day today

Twelve of the thirteen darling angels I teach at Vacation Bible School were happily playing with play-doh today, sitting primly in their tiny chairs, talking quietly, sharing. The thirteenth was not interested in the play-doh, so he had my permission to play with legos on the carpet.

This happy arrangement worked for ten-ish minutes before, out of nowhere, Thirteen got up from his place on the carpet, walked over to a pint-sized kitchen table and SPIT ON THE TABLE. It was a LOT of spit. Like a tablespoon. From a three-year-old.

Now that I think about it I am sure that this was a premeditated act with much pre-attack in-mouth spit-stockpiling (holy hyphens).

So there it was, the line in the sand. The two teenage helpers stared and then began giggling. The kid regarded me nervously, standing several feet away from the DNA covered table.

I swallowed the urge to yell his name sharply, followed by "What the HELL?" Not behavior becoming of a preschool Bible teacher.

Instead I picked up a bottle of table cleaner and some paper towels. I knelt beside the tiny table and looked into the kid's eyes.

"We do not spit. I want you to help me clean this up" I said in my calm yet don't even THINK about not doing what I am telling you to do voice.

"You're lucky you're not MY kid!!" is what I was thinking.

I sprayed the spit with the cleaner and handed him the paper towel. Then looked at him expectantly. He wiped up the spit. I threw the towel away. I led him by the shoulder back to the table and encouraged him to get involved in the play-doh again.

He spent the rest of the day having progressively more hysterical meltdowns over seemingly insignificant things. His mom picked him up early.

What will tomorrow bring?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Will require horse tranquilizers by Wednesday

Who sucks now?*

I made hashbrowns! I didn't even know it was possible for non-McDonald's employees to do that, but whaddaya know?

In a fit of gung-ho stay at home mom frenzy several months ago I signed up to teach the three year olds at Vacation Bible School. That was before I learned that I'm not qualified to teach college students, of course, otherwise I might have signed up for something like snack, which has a much less direct correlation to the spiritual development of the three-year-olds of South. It starts tomorrow morning at 8:00. I accidentally said to another teacher who had asked me if I'd made the cute little mailbox for the project yet "They're THREE! I'm just hoping to make it through the day without anyone peeing in their pants!" and then laughed a leeetle too loud to cover up the horror I was feeling at what had just come out of my mouth. Go me.

I did decorate my classroom today, though, and I must admit that it's kind of adorable. Tiny construction paper life jackets with each kid's name on them (there is a camp theme) decorating the door! I'd show you a picture but, you know, all those kids' names. We were about to leave and I suddenly blurted out "Let's use all the extra paper to make a TREE!" and then made Ryan crumple all the remaining construction paper into balls so I could make a colorful tree on the wall of the classroom. It turned out kind of funky/pretty and I bet the three-year-olds will enjoy it. I'm not so sure about their parents who will no doubt be wondering what kind of acid trip I was on when I decided to decorate the VBS room with a purple and orange tree.

There will be FOURTEEN KIDS in my classroom. FOURTEEN. If you don't hear from me again, it will be because they ate me alive.

*Although tonight I intimated to Ryan that if "I had to live one more second in this filthy craphole, nearly killing myself tripping over toys every [redacted] second of every [redacted] day then I was going to lose my [redacted] big time," so I guess I still suck.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Over the Rainbow

When we were leaving for swimming last night I checked the radar and was delighted to see a giant supercell coming straight for us. "I was going to water the grass tonight" I thought. All through the lessons I scrutinized the clouds, willing the storm to hold together long enough to give my grass a good soaking. I am kind of an idiot.

We came home and put the boys to bed and I leisurely made myself some dinner before I flipped on the TV to learn that we were in a tornado warning. Again.

Into the closet we all went and closed the door.

The only way to get Charlie to stop fiddling with the little TV so I could attempt to discern fine bits of storm structure from the grainy black and white radar image was to let him turn on the four-million watt flashlight attachement. Every time I thought (based on my haphazard interpretation of a barely visible radar image) it might be ok to come out of the closet (heh), which due to the limited ventilation and four-million watt flashlight was very, very uncomfortable, but better than, you know, being ripped out of the house by a tornado, they would say "Numerous reports of a tornado near [intersection three miles from my house]."

And so we sat. And then we started taking pictures to pass the time and distract Charlie from the array of outgrown toys with annoying music that we have stashed in that closet.

IMG_0912
Sweaty! Like I had been exercising. What an amusing thought.

In the end there were no tornadoes at our house. I cuddled Charlie in bed and sang him the song I used to rock him to sleep to when he was a baby. He fell asleep easily. I was worried that he would remember the storm as scary, but when he woke up this morning he asked me if he could "go watch TV in the closet again."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On a lighter note

At Charlie's first day of swimming lessons all the kids were lined up on the side of the pool. After the lifeguard went over the usual pool rules, no running, no food, etc, she asked the kids "Did I remember all the rules?"

Charlie gestured at the locker rooms and replied "No! Tinkle over there!"

Swim Lessons

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Suckage

I just called to follow up on a job I applied for last month and they have already offered it to someone. Yesterday.

It was perfect. A postdoc teaching general science courses at a small Catholic college in South. I worked hard on the application. I sent them sample course outlines. I went down there in my suit and walked around looking for the professor in charge of the search committee until my feet started bleeding from my ugly professional shoes. I called three times and left messages to follow-up.

It wasn't %#@$ing good enough.

I really really don't enjoy staying home full time. I suck at it. And after every fight I had with Charlie about potty training (or really, recently, everything. EVERYTHING requires negotiation and cajoling) or Wesley about taking a nap, during every soul-crushing minute spent counting to ten after stepping on a Lego or Cheerio or puddle of spitup I was thinking "maybe this job will work out. Maybe we can go back to the way things were when I was working and EVERYBODY WAS HAPPY."

Not just me. Everyone was happier when I was working. Like I said: I SUCK at this. I thought that if I stayed home with them that all the time we spent together would be just as happy as the two weekdays plus afternoons that we spent together when I was working. Who wouldn't want to do that? But I was WRONG.

But I better get used to it because now I have no other choice.

Better go start the freaking laundry because it's my job.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Just like old times, now with babies!

Our friends A and The Meteorologist are visiting.

IMG_0874

We've had lots of fun. And beer. And semi-naked under-supervised children running or crawling around the house, trying to go up the stairs/eat dog food/escape.

Staring Contest

One thing no one has done in the last three days? Sleep. Every morning we present the tally of the night's wakeups. Friday night we won. Saturday night they won. Maybe "win" isn't really the right word.

Not surprisingly, we are almost out of coffee. And the wipes are all gone. Someone is going to have to put on some shoes and run to Target.

This is the only picture we have of all three kids together. Little electrons just never stop moving.

IMG_0865
Wes's baby mullet: NHL here I come.

Ryan's at work now. Charlie's lying under the dining room table in a t-shirt and undies making up songs. The babies are sleeping off another all night milk bender.

We are having tons of fun.

I'm going to go get another cup of coffee.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Birth Control

"I WANT MY SOCKS!!"

It is 5:00 and we are at Blockbuster because one of my friends asked Charlie if he was going to go home and watch George and we don't actually own the George DVD. I thought I could gloss over it, but when we get into the car Charlie starts up politely "I want to watch George, please!" I'm tired and, facing a long ninety minutes until Ryan's return I figure a trip to Blockbuster could both kill some time and score us the coveted Curious George DVD that will take us through the rest of the evening.

"We're only going to be here for a minute, you don't need your socks" I say brightly, stuffing Charlie's bare feet into his sneakers.

Ignoring the sock-related protests I head for the "Family" aisle, certain that Charlie is behind me. I find the George DVD and turn to head for the "TV Favorites" aisle to pick up "Bridezillas" when I notice that Charlie is not with me.

"Charlie?!"

He bounces up to me holding a copy of "Sex in the City" and a dated workout video featuring a leotard-clad woman with big hair. "I wanna get DIS DBD!"

"Put those back where you found them, please" I deadpan, turning to the TV aisle. He stands there clutching the DVDs, eyes flashing. "Charlie, I want you to put. those. back." He thinks for a moment, then complies. "Follow me! Let's get Mama's movie and then we can go home and watch George!" The good witch is back. I pick up "Bridezillas Season 1" and head for the New Releases, Charlie bouncing merrily along behind us. "What movie do you think Papa would like?" I ask Charlie. He picks up a copy of "Hellboy" and hands it to me.

"He like DIS DBD."

"Hmm, that looks a little scary, buddy, maybe next time."

He puts it back on the shelf. Another customer smiles knowingly at me. All is well. We head to the checkout counter to play a little game I like to call "Put it back put it back put it back putitbackputitbackputitback!!" A twenty-something couple is behind us. They hold hands and talk sweetly to one another. They are probably watching "Made of Honor" because he is probably still pretending to like chick flicks. Charlie pulls a bag of chocolate covered pretzels off the rack. "It's a snack for Charlie!" he exclaims loudly enough for everyone in the store to hear.

"Sorry buddy, not today. Put them back." After a brief standoff I take the bag and hang it back up. "Come on, Buddy, let's go get the movies so we can go home and watch George!" struggling to remain cheerful, mostly exhausted and sick of all the negotiating.

"IT'S A SNACK FOR CHARLIE!"

He is holding the pretzels again.

"I said 'no,' put them back" more firmly this time.

He throws the bag at the display. I explain that if he doesn't shape up there will be no George.

At the counter the cashier tells me I have a credit of $40.65 on my account. "What is that fro--YOU MAY NOT HAVE ANY ICE CREAM, PLEASE PUT IT BACK."

"Sometimes we make mistakes here, just go with it I say."

"I SAID PUT IT BACK."

The couple behind us is snickering. Charlie is waving three packs of Starburst around like conductor's wands. I take them and put them back and lead Charlie to the counter by the hand.

"Well I've never had such a big charge on my account, do you know what it's--CHARLIE IF YOU DON'T CLOSE THAT FREEZER AND KNOCK IT OFF RIGHT NOW WE'RE NOT GOING TO WATCH GEORGE."

"It looks like we charged you for 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' but then you returned it so we credited your account."

Charlie is rocking Wesley's carseat crazily. Wesley looks amused by all the attention, but I am worried about whiplash.

"STOPIT. OK, just these two movies, then."

He starts ringing me up. Charlie is back in the ice cream case.

"Would you like me to tell you about our Blockbuster Rewards Program?"

It's like this guy is enjoying the little floor show I've got going on here. I grab Charlie's hand, close the case firmly, pick Charlie up and plunk him down in front of the counter firmly. "DON'T MOVE" I warn. "I think we better just get out of here" I say to the cashier. Charlie is hanging by the hem of my shorts, nearly pulling them off. The twenty-somethings are in near hysterics.

Mercifully, the transaction is finally complete and I walk out of the store, Charlie bouncing along behind me "I WANNA WATCH GEORGE. I WANNA WATCH GEORGE. WHERE MY SOCKS GO?"