Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How to Feel Like an Ass

Did you ever get out of bed and sense a bad day coming on? Nothing really bad happened, just this weird feeling of impending agony and abounding crankiness. That was me yesterday – I chalked it up to PMS and my burgeoning Christmas to-do list and prayed the kids would be good so I could avoid any bad-mommy-moments.

#1) After cutting fresh strawberries and bananas into their Cheerios, I got in the shower. (Net Mommy Points = 0 / +2 for fruit and –2 for not being showered before they woke up.)
Wolfie comes in saying Mattie is letting all the cold air out of the fridge. I tell him to send her in. She says she wants juice. I tell her to get her milk cup and show me that it’s gone (thinking it’s not and then she would finish it instead) and then I would finish washing her cup and give her some juice. True to her recent form (hating to wait) she begins to whine, cry and stamp her feet. I send her to her room and go to get dressed listening to her scream. When she finally calms down, I ask her if she remembers why she started crying and she does, “Cuz I woonent dwink my miwk.”
Back in the kitchen, I see “END” flashing on the microwave. Puzzled and confused, I open it to find both of their milk cups FULL of milk! Ugh. Negative 10 Mommy Points for me.

The kids are actually being okay though – a little exuberant maybe – but basically good. We go to Jewel and they don’t really fight over the cart selection for once. Wolf enjoys metering out a few coins for the Salvation Army guy, even though I showed him I had plenty of quarters and told him he could give all the coins in his wallet if he wanted. Ah, ‘if’ – maybe I shouldn’t have made it an option. Later I’ll find out he thinks he’s paying the man to say ‘Merry Christmas’! Thanks, Grama. I felt rather accomplished at getting through our shopping without a stop in the bathroom, even though I had to go myself. [Don’t tell anyone about the ride home though. I sat in the intersection waiting to turn left, watching the oncoming cars but not the lights – I noticed they were red when I was halfway through my turn…]

Back home, Wolfie and Mattie couldn’t wait to get out in the yard to play with their new 2/$3 foam dart guns. By all means, I think to myself. The more they stay away from me the safer we’ll all be. Looking back now I wish I had thought this through a bit further.

They came in just half an hour later (it is December afterall) and Wolf sat down at the PC and I got a Curious George episode started for Mattie.

Mattie settled in to watch her precious George and perhaps a quick glimpse of Gnocci (or Pinocci as she calls him in her imaginary play skits.) Partway through the show she yelled out, ‘Mama, I made a little pee in my underwear – but I stopped it!’ (proudly), and she ran to the bathroom to finish going potty. “Whew, that could have been much worse” I thought as I took her underwear and rinsed them in the sink. She was in a hurry to get back to George and refused to put any pants on. “Whatever! Who really cares if she sits bare-assed to watch TV for a bit? I’ve got to get dinner started.”

Sometime later Mattie started dancing around in front of the bathroom door saying she had to go potty. “Go then!” I yelled around the corner, up to my elbows in Palmolive. The next thing I hear is Mattie saying, “Mama, I'm peeing and I can't stop!” as I round the corner to see her standing over her puddle of pee on kitchen floor! Evidently, she really had to go but went upstairs for that bathroom stool to reach light in the downstairs bathroom so she could see the stool in there! I got mad and you could really hear it in my voice when I asked “Why? Mattie why??”
“Oh!” she laughed, “I don’t know Mama.” I got a little madder and the whole when-are-you-going-to-take-this-potty-training-thing-seriously discussion ensued, ending with my sending her to her room while she cried hysterically.

Later at dinner when Grama had arrived to escort us to the Manor, Mattie grabbed my face and kissed me as I was trying to feed her (getting a bit more exasperated with each bite.)
"There, did that make you madder or nicer?" she asked.
“Nicer.” I replied feeling suddenly very conspicuous.
Mattie threw her arms around me flamboyantly and said, "You're forgivable." She hugged me a great deal harder and said, "Oh Mama you're so forgivable!!"

Friday, November 17, 2006

If You Give a SHE a Routine

Here is my Flylady bedtime story called, “If You Give a SHE a Routine” inspired by true events. Props to Laura Numeroff and her ‘If You Give a Mouse’ series of children’s books, which evidently I've read too many times.


If you are late getting into the shower in the morning, your son will wet his bed.
And when you go to rewash his just-cleaned-yesterday sheets, you’ll be compelled to add some other laundry to make it a full load.
As you go to empty the hamper onto the bedroom floor, you’ll notice your hubby’s sock crumb trail leading up to it and remember you wanted to run the vacuum.
After you run over the sock crumbs ten times and they still don't move, you’ll realize the bag is full.
So you’ll look around for the bags you finally picked up triumphantly on errand day and your toddler will cry out that she wet herself.
After you change her clothes, you’ll rinse her pants in the sink and leave them there because the other load is already spinning.
When you stop to reward yourself with a fresh cup of coffee, your toddler will yank the grill off the fridge and demand to retrieve both sets of magnet letters she’s been stuffing under there for the past year.
The savage dust bunny army guarding the letters will send you running for the vacuum.
You’ll find it in the bedroom puking its dirty guts out all over your floor and you’ll remember you were looking for the bags.

Here’s hoping you get to bed at a decent hour.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Summer Hugs

Summer lives on at our house while the rest of the world is busy with getting back to school. What absolute joy to be home with these two! I can't imagine prying myself off of them to send them off to school. Wolf had a 3 hour Park District Camp one-day-a-week and I could not believe the sunken feeling in my heart each time I dropped him off. Mattie would say, "but I don't hab a bwudder," during his absence. We both missed him terribly!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Summer’s Twilight Dance

Wolfie and Mattie’s excitement over lightening bugs is fresh and fevered – my heart swells with pride as I watch them with Papa from the kitchen window in the darkening grass carpet of our yard. The first few nights, every tiny glowing ember they catch sight of fascinates them and they run arms outstretched to be near it, but catch it, no too wriggly – that’s Papa’s job. I totally agree, IMHO allowing a bug to sit on your hand is well, don’t tell Wolfie, unthinkable! And each night, EVERY NIGHT for the past week, they hurry outside thrilled with the opportunity to try again. Last night they each caught several; carefully stalking forward arms bravely outstretched then with prey in sight pulling back with timid hesitation. Wolf tries very carefully to hold what he seems to not want to touch. Mattie’s strategy is to grab with abandon, but eject with glee the moment she feels the creature’s slightest movement. Luckily before bug catching got left off my parental resume altogether, I discovered my garden kneeling pad is a great tool. You simply raise it up under a flying glow and the bug sits right down on it for you – no touching required. This also works with a sleeve pulled over your hand.

Our raspberries are ripening every day this week too and we have yet to bring a single one inside – all berries get eaten right in the patch. The first day we picked any, Mattie liked them so much she almost had a tantrum right in the garden. Instead of flailing around on the rock path though, she slapped her thighs with both hands and repeated, “I - want - more - raspberries!” I finally had to feed her an unripe one to get her to understand there really weren’t any more! Picking edibles from the yard seems to carry its own special thrill. The kids have also been busy with gooseberries and currants. A few days into the currant’s ‘season’ Wolf got a bit tired and sat on the bench while Mattie kept picking gooseberries. I guess he felt like his productivity was down, because (from the bench) he kept telling her to pick ‘my currants’ too.

We’ve begun our summer routine of swimming as much as possible now that our pool is up. Playing lifeguard gets easier each day as Wolfie and Mattie take to the water. I didn’t think 2 ½ feet of water could help them learn to swim but they’re both developing swimming skills like holding their breath, floating and moving. They love to jump off the side of bigger pools we visit – even without water wings at the Bensenville (public) pool. The application of sunscreen is always challenging, but we slather on SPF 50 and they STILL get tan! Mattie has tan lines on her feet from her surf shoes even!

Friday, June 30, 2006


While lunching with a friend the other day, a small skirmish broke out over one of the grubby sand toys in Joe’s Sand Lot. I got up from the table and quietly dispensed my standard ‘play nice or don’t play’ rule and Wolfie and Mattie went off to play nice again.
Impressed, my friend said, “You handled that well. I would have lost it.”
“It’s early.” I replied and we both had a good laugh.

When I am rested, refreshed and on task it’s so easy to be Wolfie and Mattie’s Mama. The best part of being home every day continues to be our morning snuggle. Imagine, me! I am the first place they go when they open their little eyes. They climb on my lap to cuddle and rest their heads on my shoulder while they finish waking up.

In my finest moments, I have the pride of purpose, following my strongest desire to be fully present in each moment with my children, comforting them, loving them, supporting them, to be that one place they can count on as a soft place to land. It is then that I swoon with love for them and feel blessed to be answering this higher calling.

But then there are those other ugly moments when I can’t seem to see past amassing pile of dishes, the hampers puking dirty clothes out their lids, when I seem to spend my whole day stuck on the cook-feed-clean-repeat cycle. In those moments I can’t bear to hear another ‘Mama’ out of either one of them and I respond sharply “WHAT?” which sometimes is enough send Mattie to tears. Those days I question my very ability to mother, keep a decent house, walk and chew gum at the same time. I’m still trying to find a way to quickly snap myself out of those moments. Sometimes, a self-imposed Mama-time-out is all I need to come back with a fresh perspective. Some days it takes repeating.

I read a news bulletin about a study reporting that verbal abuse hurts kids psychologically almost as much as physical and the damage lasts into adulthood – is this really a surprise to anyone? I do understand how child abuse happens and I know its seed is in me. I’ve felt it pushing against its skin threatening to germinate and pop into my language. I’m not surprised that I can control this darkness, but more mortified that I even need to. Now don’t go fearing for my children or calling DCFS on me – it’s not like that AT ALL. I’m only writing here about understanding the inner-workings of a parent gone wrong, understanding the speed at which parental boiling points are reached. It takes so much more effort to discipline your child into wanting to do what pleases you, than to simply force or scare them into it.

‘Because I said so, that’s why.’

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Pony Tails!!

Can anyone resist a little girl in ponytails? It's a good thing Mattie hasn't realized their power yet - she kept these in for a full two hours last night.

I can't believe how easy it is to insert pics in blogger now - our family site may never get updated now.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mattie has met her computer!

As if we don’t have enough chip-heads in our little family here, I introduced Mattie to the concept of working the mouse herself. She’s been keenly watching Wolf at the PC and clearly wanting to get involved but she hadn’t made the mouse-makes-it-work connection. I set her up on the Fisher Price site for Tap and Color, where pressing any key fills in part of a picture with a color. She only had to click the mouse to move to the next picture. That was just a couple weeks ago and she’s already moved on to click-and-drag on Grama’s regular mouse as well as our trackballs!
That does add a whole new dynamic to our household though. Mattie came screaming into the kitchen, “I want BOOBIES!! I want boobies Mama!” “What?!” I probed for a little clarification (I thought I had years to prepare…) “I want boobies on the computer Mama!” she specified. “Oh, BooBAHS Mattie.” Thank goodness I exhaled and talked Wolf into giving her a turn. Mattie has a definite will of her own and when she gets an idea that she wants a particular thing or activity, she’s not very likely to let it go. I’ve given my own PC over several times already to avoid hearing her and Wolfie shriek, ‘I want it!’ I think I remember Wolfie ‘taking off’ at the PC too, just waiting to be set free of our laps. Mattie’s kind of like that only at a slower pace, like she wants to really master a particular activity before moving on to something new.
Her entertaining cuteness continues to abound. The other night at dinner she leaned over and kissed my cheek saying, “There Mama, I gave you a kiss.” And no sooner had she sat upright then realized, “Hey! Where’s MY kiss?” And now there’s computer twospeak: Mattie whines, “I want to go on the computer!” because I just told Wolf he could. I tell Mattie I will let her use my computer. “Oh! That would be good!” she smiles with escalating excitement, “I could go on your computer and you help me. That would be GOOD!” Giggle, giggle, giggle – from BOTH of us!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Vasoweene!! That’s my faaavrit!

Life with Mattie is very busy and extremely FUN! She is our little entertainer, always ready with a joke, dance or story to make you laugh. She loves attention as long as it’s not too much too fast – if she gets overwhelmed she hides her face in my legs (thighs- she’s really tall!) Everything she does is amusing and cute – I could write all day long, so it’s odd that I haven’t. I’ve been quite busy enjoying her.
She loves to dance to any music, but especially music she can control like the white bear that plays ‘Jesus Loves Me’ to a calypso beat. One night before bed, she skipped around me cheering, “Dance, Mama. Dance!” Another day at Jewel, where she thrills to the freedom of getting in and out of cart at will, she got out in the cleaning aisle and grabbed two toilet plunger bottoms and started marching and crashing them like cymbals. Mattie just cracks me up!
We went sledding and I sent Mattie speeding down the hill in the baby sled – her feet stick out quite a bit. “Look out below!” she yelled from the bottom. Who tells her this stuff? And her little twospeak language is so adorable I have to consciously ignore it to get anything done. She cranes her head towards you so she can speak directly into your face and make sure you’re listening to her, “Oh! Dat wud be esseyeding.” Or, “You have to wear gloves to go out in the shnow.” And the favorite, “Vasoweene!! That’s my faaavrit!”

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Revisiting Mother's Love

I suppose it's an appropriate time to go back a bit as I did want to wish the world well for the holidays. Yet I didn't really get a chance to write something new for real-life friends, let alone e-ones. The post below began it all. It's hard to believe how much time has passed since, but I have the sick four year old upstairs in my bed to prove it.

A sick child is a profound exercise in motherly self-control, isn't it? Not just in trying and re-trying your disappearing vapors of patience, but it's also a challenge to corral your worst-case-scenario-creating imagination. Wolf has a cough which started a little over a week ago (after almost a week long break from the left-over cough lingering from his last cold.) Each of my parents was recently diagnosed with pneumonia - Grama was not hospitalized, just given a prescription and sent home. Wolf started coughing the day after spending an afternoon with Grama.

I've read all I can on coughs with no fever or other symptoms and EVERYTHING says not to worry. Yet when your sleep is interrupted by the sound of your child hacking and hoarking in the night, that still small voice whispers, 'LIFE is temporary.' You feel so relieved that his coughing did not wake his sister and even more relief when it stops. But when you get up to go to Jazzercise and think, 'Wow I haven't heard him cough since 2:00 a.m.' that still small voice repeats, 'life is temporary.' Then you imagine in the farthest, smallest, most obscure recess of your heart that something HORRIBLE has happened (so horrible I can't even write it, so how do I come to think it so often?) And you wonder how you'll be able to live with yourself knowing you traipsed off happily to Jazzercise while your first born lay in his bed...

Then the bedroom door opens and my groggy got-up-way-too-early boy comes to me for his morning snuggle. I greet him with a fervor of 'YOU'RE ALIVE!' hugs and kisses which he seems to just accept. How does a kid love a psycho-mom again? Do all moms think this way?

A Mother's Love
I have not really known love, until now. In my son I have found a part of myself that I never knew existed. It has the same warmth and affection as the love I feel for my husband, family and friends, but it is far more intense. The love I have for my son is truly unconditional and that is why I’ve never felt it before. No matter how I have professed to love in the past, I have always been prepared to abandon that love if it was not reciprocated or somehow ceased to benefit me. The love I have for my son will continue until I draw my last breath, whether or not it is returned and regardless of whether he deserves it.

Today my son is six days old and I cannot bear even the thought of his death without feeling the intense pain of it. And I cannot even comprehend taking the life of my son by my own hand for any reason, even to spare the life of my husband or mother, let alone to spare the life of someone who hates me. Yet this is what God has done for each of us in Christ, His Son who is far more precious and unique than any earthly son could ever be. I don’t think that concept has ever been so clear to me.