Monday, April 30, 2012

Sleepy Preschooler Apology

     We're at that phase with Ball where she doesn't wear diapers at night anymore, but we have to remember to take her potty before we go to sleep or I'm doing a lot of extra laundry. (My memory isn't great so I've been doing a lot of extra laundry.) 

     When we went through this with my older two children, they were zombies, but Ball is sweet when woken in the middle of the night.  She handles being forcibly removed from bed, stripped, being sat in a lighted room, and getting dumped back in bed with ease and grace.  Ball gives sleepy smiles, she'll blow me kisses when I tuck her back into bed, and she often says "thanks Momma" or "I love you" after our nightly excursion.

     Last night before bed Ball was not listening, moving really slow, laying on the floor and not doing anything; you know, acting like a child.  I gave her a couple warnings that she was going to loose books if she couldn't move fast enough and get everything done.  This was met with more rolling around on the floor and doing nothing. Finally I picked her up, laid her in bed, tucked her in, kissed her on the head and said good night; no story time, cuddles, or songs good night.

     Later I went in for our nightly potty ritual.  I picked her up, set her on the throne, held her upright, and waited.  As she was sitting there she said "Mommy, I'm sorry I didn't move fast enough tonight."  When I looked up her eyes were still closed and she was half asleep.  This morning I had to ask her 3 times to get dressed for school and we are battling about her putting on shoes and socks.  She apparently doesn't remember the lesson that prompted her sleepy time apology.  But I do and I'm not cutting her any slack, even if she is sweet.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Liebster Award

     I was nominated for a Liebster award from Jen @ rebekah grace The Practically Perfect Princess.  She and her sister wrote and illustrated an adorable children's book out this month.  She found me through the Ultimate Blog Party and nominated me for this award.

     I am excited about this; I won my first award!

     If you are not familiar with the Liebster Award it is given to fairly new blogs with 200 or less followers. This is a way of giving recognition to bloggers for a job well done. It brings undiscovered blogs to the light and helps them gain exposure to attract more followers. If you receive a Liebster the person giving it to you is basically saying, "Hey, YOU ROCK!"

Being nominated for a Liebster comes with a few guidelines...

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.

2. You must link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.

3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.

4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to up to 5 blogs you think deserve some recognition. Remember they have to have 200 followers or less when presented with a Liebster!

5. Make sure you let the bloggers you nominated know they have a Liebster! Leave a comment on their blog, DM on twitter, Facebook post--however you normally get in contact with them!

Here are my nominations for who I think deserves a Liebster Award of their own!  They are in no particular order.  These are all blogs I enjoy reading each day.  Please follow them and show your support.

1. Robyn @ Hollow Tree Ventures makes me laugh out loud almost every day.  She is clever and sarcastic and her crafts make me feel inferior.  Her entire blog is definitely worth checking out.

2. Erin and Ellen @ Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms are a fun comedic team.  They give sound advice with good humor.  Their blog is a wonderful collaboration and a fun read.

3. Stephanie @ The Healthy Mom In addition to the funny stories she tells about her family she gives some wonderful advice for how to eat better and live better.  I'm glad I found this blog.

4. Katie @ The Somewhat Sane Mom With 3 young daughters and a daycare at home I can perfectly understand why she is only "Somewhat Sane".  She's been making me laugh since I found her blog.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


     What are you getting for Mother's Day?  What are you getting your mom for Mother's Day?  You have two weeks to figure this out.  This is worth some consideration.

     If you're anything like me, this day finds you scrambling at the last minute to find appropriate gifts for the mothers in your life.  It is especially tough for me because the women in my life already have the things they want and need.  They are fortunate.

     That is one of the reasons I buy gifts from Oxfam America.  Before you get bored and leave my page take a look at these adorable chicks.
A dozen chicks $45
Did you know that a starter set of chicks will produce eggs, generate income, and improve nutrition for a family in need?  They are also one of my favorite gifts because they are so darn cute!

     As I was saying, Oxfam is an international relief organization helping to fight poverty, hunger, and injustice.  They help provide food sources in developing nations, they deliver educational materials to children, and they create job opportunities to women in need. 

     Not only does this charity perform great deeds, but they do it in a fun way.  They provide gift donations which allow you to choose from a number of items at various prices.  Oxfam will create a card for your recipient describing the gift that was purchased and detailing how it will be used by those less fortunate.  This gift is a win win plus it is tax deducible (as if you needed more incentive.)

     Here are some other incredibly helpful items that could be purchased:

handful of seeds protects native crops and helps feed the hungry.
Pack of seeds $12
Feed children's creativity and expand their education with art supplies.
Art supplies for kids $15
     For Mother's day this year, please consider one of Oxfam's wonderful gifts for the women in your life.  Honor them by helping other women improve their lives and their childrens' lives.

     Thank you for your consideration.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Sound of Silence

     Many thanks to El for giving me the idea for this story and for featuring my version of hell as a guest poster at Running From Hell With El.

     I gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby girl. Our time in the hospital was a blur of nurses coming in and out. I remember that I was the mom who refused to let my daughter spend any time in the nursery. I was convinced it was my job alone to answer her calls of duty.

     I spent time awake in the middle of the night in the hospital with her. As I sat with her in the darkness, I heard the babies from the rooms around me screaming through the night.  Hubs and I pitied the other moms and reveled in our sweet baby.  She seemed content and peaceful.  In those first nights I felt blessed and I felt smug.

     Unfortunately, we left that sweet contented child at the hospital and took home another. This baby spent the entire first night at home screaming for hours.  I was being punished.

     I thought I was prepared.  I had my arsenal of mommy reading material and I had taken a class about caring for newborns.  But there is nothing that can prepare you for a healty baby who screams for six hours straight every single night for 3 months: nothing.  It seems doctors don't like to diagnose colic, but Blondie was a textbook case.

     At first it was an inconvenience.  We would go out to eat and would have to take shifts because Blondie would cry through dinner.  The screaming grew from inconvenient to annoying, frustrating, tiring, grating, and intense.  I found it harder to answer these calls of duty.  We tried every colic "cure" known to Eastern, Western, and Places In Between medicine.  Our new normal was Blondie screaming from 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. every night.

     One night while taking my turn eating I caught it; the sound of silence.  Hubs walked into the kitchen; screaming. He left the kitchen; silence.  Turning the corner I saw it; my sanity.  Sitting on a large blue exercise ball, bouncing up and down with Blondie in his arms was my savior.  I don't know what prompted him to do that, but from that night on we took shifts on that ball for as long as she needed us to.  Then one day she didn't need it.

    Hubs, my three kids and I all laugh about this story now; about our bouncing and Blondie's crying that seemingly never ended.  That is the beauty of our big blue ball.  I knew before Blondie was born that she would not be my only child.  As difficult as my first infant was, I would not be deterred from having another.  I was given a baby with colic because I could handle it, get over it, and move on, and as punishment for my smugness in a dark hospital room.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mission Impossible - Play Date

     Dude had a play date scheduled yesterday but it was raining.  We couldn't meet at the park as planned.  When I tried to reschedule, this wasn't an option because the other mother had told her son about the play date and he had been looking forward to it all weekend.

     Play dates at my house operate much more like Mission Impossible.  I lead a small team of operatives running missions where only rare cryptic bits of information are provided. Here is how my special task force operates:

Texts, e-mails, or phone calls are made to arrange play dates.  These "missions" are agreed upon by me and another director. 

Missions are kept top secret.  I hold the date and time of our mission secret until the operatives are needed for action. 

Mother nature or changed plans can potentially cause unnecessary hassle.  Should an evil organization or updated directive force us to modify our mission my operatives are spared unnecessary preparation.

"Your mission should you choose to accept it..."  My operatives always accept their mission.  Like all good special ops groups my team is ready for action.

Sometimes a mission involves only one child, sometimes more.  Some of my operatives enjoy surveillance work almost as much as field work and others get impatient when not in the field.  For this reason our team forms a plan and my operatives always know their assigned targets.

Mission directors are always able to abort any mission should operatives go rogue.

Although not perfect, the record for my elite operations team is commendable with far more successful missions than failed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Whispering Chocolate and Joke Telescopes

      At the computer I sit writing.  From the baskets on the floor next to my desk it whispers my name; "Marian".  I shoo it away, clear the noise, and focus again on the screen.
     Like Harold Hill hiding in the library stacks it whispers my name again.  Looking down at the floor I see it staring at me.  This ends tonight!
     For Easter each of my three children was given a small See's milk chocolate Easter bunny.  After a week, Dude still  had not touched it.  The many nights just knowing that perfect bunny was still available have been tough; recovering alcoholic in a bar tough.

     Sunday night as I sat working I decided Dude had one chance to claim what was rightfully his.  I picked that bunny up, walked it into the kitchen, and forced it on him.  "If you don't eat this tonight, it's gone for good."  (What kind of mother forces her son to eat chocolate?)

     I saw his eyes as he took in the gold wrapping.  He was actually debating whether or not he would accept this challenge.  (Who questions an opportunity to eat perfectly good chocolate?  Apparently, the child whose mother forces it on him.)  Then he shrugged and said "Can you help me get the wrapping off?"  I moved faster than a worker in Veruca Salt's peanut factory.

     He attacked the tail first.  When he realized he was allowed to eat more he then went for the easy kill; the ears.

The not so innocent victim

     He assaulted that bunny with ninja speed and left it blind and deaf.  I had to look away.  When I looked back, this is what I saw:

a chocolate eye???

     Dude had decided to look inside his chocolate bunny and it reminded me of these:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Real Housework

     I had big plans for Spring Break; two days with nothing but fun on the agenda.  That's right, Spring Cleaning.  It was time for my kids to learn about real housework.  Blondie has had life pretty easy, Dude is perfectly capable of handling everything on my  list, and it's never too young for Ball to learn some valuable life skills.

     Surprisingly, my plan was met with little resistance and mild enthusiasm.  Here is my kids' spin on cleaning.  Maybe you can use these selling points on your own minions, er I mean children.

     Blondie thinks cleaning sucks and using cleaning products is hazardous to your health.  In spite of her wonderfully positive attitude, at the end of two days she did everything that was asked of her and even begrudgingly admitted that it was nice to be able to see her bedroom floor and find books on her bookshelves.
     Ball loves vacuuming.  She told me this about five times while ramming the vacuum into her bedroom furniture.  She also loves washing walls.  More accurately, she loves soaking her arms in the warm soapy (kinda dirty) water and working just long enough to justify putting her rag, (arms) back in the water.  Ball took great pride in her work and added her smile to all her assigned tasks.

Ball's method for washing walls

     Dude likened the Windex bottle to a gun and volunteered to clean every window and mirror in my house.   He also thinks the long plastic tube on the vacuum cleaner with the dust attachment is like a ninja spear and he ferociously attacked all our dust bunnies.

     Spring Cleaning was finished Thursday.  Saturday at dinner Dude pulled me away from the table to show me something very important!  He lead me to our banister and pointed to it; a minuscule amount of dust.  We could only go back to the table after I promised to tackle this evil enemy later.

     In all  of this I was trying to teach my kids important lessons.  Meanwhile I probably learned the most valuable one: be careful when you teach a child with obsessive tendencies about cleaning.  For Dude I either equipped him with wonderful tools or set him up for complete mental breakdown.  Only time will tell.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pinterest for the Practical

     I got my invitation to join Pinterest two months ago. After careful evaluation (1 week of "pinning") I have come to the conclusion that everything on that site is perfect and without unlimited time, money, or resources few of those creations can actually be accomplished.  I was made painfully aware of this on Easter Sunday while decorating for brunch.  For your viewing pleasure I offer my attempts to "style" my house.

1) Plastic Egg Garland:

pro - Setting the tone for your Easter day festivities is important and nothing says "Welcome to my Pagan Home!" better than plastic egg garland adorning the front door.
con - The strands of plastic egg garland are surprisingly bulky and require some serious hardware installed to keep the string from falling and ensnaring visitors.

pro - This fun craft project can be done by kids and requires minimal adult supervision. As a bonus it makes use of excess plastic eggs from years passed.
con - Without adult supervision my children chose the least attractive eggs and paid little mind to symmetry, pattern, or design.

 2) Easter Floral Centerpiece:

pro - The pretty pastels and grass make this a creative and festive centerpiece any stylist would be proud to display.
con - Between the boring errands my children would get dragged on for materials and the hour + I would have to ignore them to piece together this display my children would revolt the day before Easter and  my house would be trashed.  But at least my table would look gorgeous!

pro - While already at Trader Joe's buying necessary food I grabbed this lovely bunch of tulips for only $3.99.  Cut the ends off the stems, add to a vase I got for free 4 years ago, and voila!
con - The tulips were not available in my color scheme so I'm pretending I'm chic by offering an alternative color palette.

3) Holiday Candy Display

pro - With its vivid colors, sweet offerings, and sticky treats, this is a feast for all of the senses. Everyone will love this!
con - Everyone will love this.  Don't even bother feeding them dinner. They won't be interested. Plus, with seven different topping offerings, the dipping sticks, and the chocolate required to fill that pot this extravaganza costs more than most people spend on their main course.

pro - All the Easter classics you've grown to love in easy reach.
con - The Costco size container of "jelly belly" jelly beans isn't even 1/4 empty.  We'll be giving away jelly beans for Halloween.  (Maybe that isn't a con...)

4) Table Decor:

Top pictures:
pro - You get to show off your mad origami skills and you get to use the gorgeous plates you have stored away all year long for this one special occasion.
con - Unless you're a stylist who will get multiple uses from such items, buying and storing table linens and tableware in colors coordinating each special holiday is expensive and impractical.

Bottom picture:
pro - For under $10 from Costco you get enough festive decorated plates and napkins to feed a small army for Easter or for use every day in April.  As an added bonus they are the paper variety so you escape the pesky task of washing dishes.
con - Although available in many colors and styles paper plates are neither as environmentally friendly nor as sturdy as ceramic plates.

Immitation is the sincerest form of flatery.
Feel free to "pin" or "share" any of my above ideas.
(You know you want to!)


Monday, April 9, 2012

Wishful Thinking

     This year we had a neighborhood Easter Egg hunt.  Every house contributed eggs and we zoned off some front yards and divided the kids into 3 different age groups.  There were 13 kids from 5 different houses ages two to eight years old.  It was loud, it was crazy, it was chaotic, and it was fun.  These are the moments when I realize I am exactly where I want to be.
     I thought about it.  Seriously thought about it.  Last week when I bought a ticket for the $640 million lottery jackpot I allowed myself to dream about how I would spend that insane amount of money. 

     My dreams include a house in Hawaii.  This would be for vacations whenever we want to go.  No, I don't need to live in Hawaii.  Living in Hawaii means we get to look at the ocean as we drive to school each morning, come home and do homework, and then drive to all our extracuricular activities.  If we're not busy on the weekend we might be able to squeeze some time in at the beach.  (I know this because I already live 20 minutes from the beach and rarely visit.)  Vacationing in Hawaii seems the way to go.

    A house in Big Bear would also be fun so we could spend the winter playing in the snow and skiing.  No, I'm not dreaming any bigger.  My kids still have to go to school during the weekdays.  I just want to be able to drive up on a Friday, play Saturday, come home Sunday and be back to the grind Monday.  For some reason, driving 2 hours in my van seems more reasonable than involving airplane travel in this fantasy.  (I am ever the pragmatist.)

     I would buy a house in my neighborhood so my sister and brother could come for extended visits.  I understand they have a life and I would be willing to share custody of them with their other friends and family.  They can spend half the year in Washington D.C. or Florida as their mood suits, and half the year with me.  (I feel this is more than generous.)

     Lastly, although I would make minor renovations to my house, when seriously thinking about where I want to live I couldn't dream of being anywhere else. We have great  schools.  I have a nice house.  And I love my neighborhood.  When we bought our house in this new development, it turned out that all the other buyers were families with kids the same age.  I look forward to watching all our kids grow up together.

     When our neighborhood egg hunt was done yesterday, we all posed for a group shot.  I was with my family, our parents, and some great neighbors.  How many people can say they are exactly where they want to be?  The only way I could be more fortunate is if my sister lived right next door.  Start working on that for me Maggie!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dinner with a two-headed monster

     We went out to dinner Thursday night and were having a nice night.  Then Dude announced that he was cold.  Hubs took his jacket off and gave it to Dude making him a very happy guy in his Daddy's jacket. 

     Unfortunately, a short while later Ball announced she was cold.  Hub's jacket was on loan and I didn't have anything so Hubs and I looked at each other wondering what we could do for Ball. 

     As I was throwing out ideas "Ball could sit on your lap Michael" (notice I offered his lap) Dude scooted over to Ball, took one arm out of the jacket and put it around Ball.  He told her to put her arm in the jacket and they could share.  And that is how I ended up at dinner with an adorable two-headed monster.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Windex On, Windex Off

      It's Spring Break time for the kids.  I have planned a couple of fun activities for the kids: 2 days at camp, a play date for the boy, and maybe a trip to SeaWorld before we're all back in school.  We will have fun.  

     I, however, am most looking forward to some serious spring cleaning.  My kids are getting enlisted because it's time they learn some basic survival skills.

1) Mirror and Window cleaning -  each will experience the miracle that is Windex and paper towels while removing their sloppy wet mouth and hand prints from glass surfaces in our house.

2) Washing walls - a bucket of soapy water and a small rag will become their new best friend as they remove grimy hand prints from assorted vertical locations.

3) Organization - shared areas like the art cabinet, kids' closets, and toy boxes will be restored to their former glory where a tool or toy could be found easily in minutes.

4) Dusting - I "Pledge" they will dust every horizontal surface in their bedroom; seriously dusted, as in pulling books off shelves and dusting behind them dusted.

5) Floors - At minimum, they will vacuum their own bedroom.  If a toy or two get sucked up, it's a valuable lesson and a removal of unnecessary crap from the house.  Win win!  If they're extra lucky, they get to clean some floors "Cinderella style" (down on their hands and knees with a rag).

     If all goes well this whole process should take less than three hours.  But I know my children, which is why I have allotted two whole days.  Now I'm wondering if I can build this up as a form of martial arts camp ala Mr. Miyagi - "Windex on, Windex off".  Just call me the Ninja Master.

locked and loaded

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bloody Ice Cream

     Yesterday was Ball's first day of spring break.  I sent her to gymnastics camp so she could run, play, do some art, have a snack, and tumble.  After camp Ball, the cousins, and grandma met us for lunch.  I arrived early, ordered everyone's meals, and then looked around for a table.  The only place for a group of six to sit was at the high tables with the high stools.  I wasn't thrilled with this option because 2 of the diners are only 4 and I was a little worried about how they would do, but I took it.

     Once everyone got seated everything was great.  I had apparently worried for no reason.  The girls were sitting well, happy about a fun morning, and enjoying their lunch.  We sat talking and relaxing as the girls all finished up their meal.  Then I started to clear our space and throw trash away.  When my back was turned was when I heard it. 

     My daughter screamed loudly and was standing on the ground, crying.  Standing on the ground?  Why was she on the ground instead of on her stool?  I knew immediately she had hurt herself.  I asked her to show me what hurt and she opened her mouth showing me the tip of her tongue which was bluish and bleeding.  She had fallen off the stool, hit her chin on the high table, and bit her tongue open.

     In full Mommy mode, I picked her up, walked over to Hub's water cup, took the lid off, and shook it to see if there was ice in it for her.  Of course there wasn't ice.  I had shaken an almost full water cup without a lid all over the side of my body soaking my right sleeve and Hubs.  But I could not be deterred.  I appropriated Hub's cup, carried Ball to the soda machine, filled the cup with ice, and handed it to Ball for immediate first aid.

     The ice started numbing her tongue and Ball was calming down.  As we walked outside I made my proclamation.  In order for Ball to properly heal, she needed ice cream.  Ball and I would go order Daddy's ice cream birthday cake and get ourselves a treat.  Considering the state of Ball's tongue, I considered this a necessity. 

     In the car ride to the ice cream shop I wondered if ice cream really was the best thing for a bitten tongue.  Would the cream introduce bacteria into an open wound?  Would this make her tongue worse?  Most importantly, would bloody ice cream taste good?  As I pulled into the parking lot of the ice cream shop pondering these thoughts I heard a familiar sound in the back seat; Ball snoring.  The answer to these questions would have to wait.