Friday, October 30, 2009

Cats and Kids: a comparison

Don Juan

We have two cats, Don Juan and Winter. I love those stupid cats, but I've discovered several ways in which cats and kids are eerily similar.

1. Cats and kids both feel the need to accompany me to the bathroom. If I escape alone, I can guarantee paws and fingers and toes emerging underneath the door.

2. Cats and kids like to play in the toilet. What is it about the bathroom? I don't personally find it that interesting, but at any given time I can be certain to find either a cat perched on the toilet lapping up water, or a kid putting stuff in it to flush.

3. Cats and kids whine about being fed on a regular basis. And both get louder the longer you ignore their pleas.

4. Cats and kids feel the need to plant themselves right in the middle of whatever you are doing. If you have a cat and you are reading a newspaper or magazine on the floor, the cat will most likely plant him/herself right on top. I've had kids do the same thing.

5. Cats and toddlers are afraid of the vacuum. This doesn't apply as much to older kids, but my cats and toddler run for the hills every time I turn on the vacuum.

Maybe instead of saying I have 6 kids, I should count the cats and say I have 8. They act just like my toddler most of the time anyway. Darn cats!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How to survive a non-napping two-year old

This is a 'How-to' guide for mother's of children making the transition to 'Big Kid' by no longer napping. It is a sad, sad, sad (did I mention sad?) day when a child decides that a nap is no longer necessary.

Step 1: Allow yourself one full week of mourning. This can include wearing black, crying and moodiness.

Step 2: Put child down for a nap anyway, it makes you feel better even if you can 'hear' them napping.

Step 3: When toddler emerges from "nap", glare at toddler and declare, "That wasn't a nap!"

Step 4: When child begins throwing tantrums because of obvious lack of sleep, go to your happy place.

Step 5: One hour before bedtime, lock yourself in a padded room. The alternative, and more realistic option is to ignore the stomping, screaming, crying, screaming, stomping child. You may try a time-out. Good luck with that.

Step 6: Don't anger it.

Step 7: Pray that bedtime comes quickly.

Step 8: Breathe a sigh of relief when toddler is in bed for the night and go get yourself a snack. You deserve to eat something nice without sharing. You just survived the insanity of a non-napping toddler. Kudos to you!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First snow

"It's snowing!" K declares.

"Can we play in it?" asks A.

I sigh a yes, knowing whats ahead. Finding snow clothes, dressing children and getting them outside into the snow is a herculean task. They all need help at the same time and not one of them has patience.

I send A off with the task of hauling the bucket of snow clothes upstairs and I brace myself for the chore ahead. And since it's the first snow of the year, we have to go about the task of passing boots and snow pants down to whomever they may fit. I start making mental notes of who needs what to survive this winter.

O gets help first, and I get her all bundled up. I can see the anticipation in her eyes. "Outside?" she asks. "Yes, in a minute."

I move on to K. The baby is in my lap, arching herself backwards while the boys hop around, attempting to put on snow pants inside out. I inform them of their error, which has them on the floor giggling. I try to get K to hold still long enough for me to tie her boots while keeping E from hurling herself off my lap onto the tile.

I finally get up, exasperated, and go put E in bed. I know she will cry, but I need two minutes without her so I can get the kids dressed the rest of the way and out the door. Five minutes and a very upset baby later, I shoo four kids out the back door with a warning.

"Come in through the garage!" I holler, not knowing if they will actually listen. I settle the baby down and put her in her crib for a nap.

Finally. Quiet. I know it will be short-lived and that soon I will be stripping wet clothing off of the children. But for the moment the house is still.

There are many months ahead of enthusiastic children wanting to play outside. I can only hope for patience and efficiency. Perhaps next time it will all go more smoothly.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Messy Monday

This week's Messy Monday comes to you via the laundry room. A few weeks ago, I paid my children to clean out the van. They did a fabulous job. That is, until I learned that they merely dumped the contents of the van on the floor of the laundry room. I haven't had time to clean it out and here it sits.

Lucky for me, the kids are off-track for three weeks, and I'm sure they will have an opportunity to clean out the laundry room.

Where's your mess today?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Uh Oh!

My little trouble maker looks so innocent. What is that on her face? She found her sister's stamp and applied it generously to her face.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Managing Expectations

Chaos. Complete and utter chaos. That pretty much describes how yesterday went. All week I looked at my calendar and breathed a sigh of relief when I looked at Thursday. Thursday was blank. Not a thing written on it. A day to catch up. So when Thursday came and then Thursday went with a total of five seconds to myself, I was a teeny bit disappointed. I accomplished nothing on my list, and the house erupted into utter chaos. I ran from one thing to the next all day. So much for nothing on the calendar.

As I went to bed last night I had visions of grandeur. I had visions of spending a day cleaning. I could picture an immaculate house, even if it only lasted for five minutes. I pictured cleaning the bathroom, actually finishing the laundry for once and maybe even tackling my bedroom.

And then E woke up at her usual time to nurse during the night. She had been a little sneezy yesterday, but I didn't think anything of it. Amidst the chaos I didn't realize she was getting sick. As she struggled to nurse despite her obvious congestion, I began to rewrite my vision of my day. I realized that the laundry probably won't get put away, the floor will probably still be sticky and I'll be lucky to find the tabletop. I knew that today would be filled with tending to a sick infant.

My husband is always telling me that it's all about managing expectations. I find that to be true about life in general, but especially about motherhood. It's so easy to get frustrated when your expectations aren't met day after day. But when I change my expectations, I find that it's much easier to be satisfied with what I have accomplished.

So while I doubt I will accomplish anything truly magnificent today, there is always tomorrow. And today I will snuggle my sick baby. Consider my expectations managed!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I don't wanna go to school!

I had been waiting for L at the door. I was trying to make the boys be last out the door instead of first, but she never came. After I finally let the boys run to the bus stop, I come inside looking for L. I find her standing with her hood on her head like a cape, holding her lunch and backpack. She looks sad.

"What's wrong? I was waiting for you."

"I know, I don't wanna go to school." I pat her on the head knowingly. I remember not wanting to go to school. Not for any big, earth-shattering reason, but simply because I didn't want to go. It's much like not wanting to clean the house now.

L wanders around the house looking for something. I finally tell her she'd better get going or she will miss the bus. I walk her to the door, which she opens slowly. Then she turns and looks at me, her face screwed up, ready to cry.

"Mom, I think it already came."

Sure enough. No one is at the stop in front of our house. I know why she wants to cry about it. I had to institute a rule that if you miss the bus, you walk.

"I think it's at the one down the street. See those other kids running?" I point at some other kids running for the bus. L turns and runs before I can tell her I love her and that it will be ok. She doesn't see me follow her to the bus stop in my too-short PJ pants. She'd probably be embarrassed anyway.

Part of me wants to climb aboard that bus and give her a big hug and tell her she can stay home and play with me. But another part of me knows she'll be just fine and she may even have a good day. I know she needs to learn that we often have to do things we don't want to do. But the memory of her face: fallen, dejected, and sad, stays with me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How many times?

How many times do I have to tell M that it's NOT ok to leave a trail of tortoise food on the floor when he feeds his tortoise?

How many times do I have to tell the kids NOT to dump cat food on the floor when they feed the cats?

How many times do I have to tell the boys that it's a BIG no no to put clean, folded clothes in their dirty laundry basket?

How many times do I have to tell the children to put their shoes away?

How many times do I have to tell the little girls that it's NOT ok to draw on the walls?

How many times do I have to tell the kids NOT to beat the snot out of each other?

How many times do I have to put kids in time-out before I will be listened to the first time?

How many times do I have to clean up after the stupid cats who seem to forget where their cat box is on a regular basis?

How many times do I have to tell L that if she puts things away she WON'T lose them?

How many times do I have to tell K that it's NOT ok to pull on the baby's legs while I'm holdiing her?

Don't get me wrong, I have great kids. But there are days that I feel like you could just put on a record of my most repeated phrases and they wouldn't even notice that I wasn't there. How many times? I think until I die would be a good answer.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Messy Monday

I don't claim to be some fanatically clean housewife. In fact, I claim just the opposite. I'm plagued with messes of my own making, but mostly those my children make. I try my hardest to organize closets, declutter and dejunk. But these little people that surround me have me at a great disadvantage. So instead of being one of those blogs that posts "to-do" lists, inspiring mothers around the world to do all their stuff, I am going to do the opposite. I am going to post my reality (and probably yours too, if you are brave enough to admit it). So, join me for my first official MESSY MONDAY !

Today, I'd like to highlight my pencil drawers. At one point in time they were a thing of beauty. Then the kids got to them. Now you are lucky to find anything you really want. And even then, you have to want it bad and be willing to dig. Some day, I will fix them.

What do YOUR pencil drawers look like? Are you secretly like me, or would you scoff at my ridiculously messy drawer?

Friday, October 16, 2009

A week in review

Monday: Messy house, mom's birthday, abandoned any and all plans to be productive and went to lunch with my mom and my sister. House still a mess. Didn't get laundry done. Children complain.

Tuesday: Grocery shopping, laundry, messy house. Give up on potty training. (I said I would, didn't I?) Heaps of laundry piled on couch so I can vacuum.

Wednesday: Visit my sister and avoid messy house. Nap time is a joke. Seriously hoping Odessa doesn't quit napping yet. I'm so not ready for that.

Thursday: Garbage day. Messy house. Run 4 1/2 miles. Go me! Fold more laundry. Go to craft store. Entertain K by crafting. O back in diapers. Pullups too expensive to go through so many in one day. At least she still poops in the potty. Emily is attempting to crawl, little stinker. Dreamt about my sister-in-law going into labor. I hope it happens soon.

Friday: Messy house. Why does it look like I never clean? Got the kids to school and here I sit. Baby just woke up. And off I go.

Sometimes looking back on what I accomplish in a week is terribly depressing. It looks as though I really do sit around watching TV and eating bonbons. It doesn't seem that I've been so busy that I've had two whole minutes to myself this week. And that was locked in a bathroom with the cats and kids outside the door asking what I was doing. Love it! I just try to realize that I did in fact accomplish something. I accomplished survival of six kids! That's enough in my book!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What's on YOUR kitchen floor?

Sadly, this floor was immaculate before the kids ate breakfast.

My children are unable to make the food actually enter their body via their mouth. It's physically impossible, I'm sure of it. The only evidence to the contrary is that they keep getting bigger.

What's on YOUR kitchen floor today? Do your children posses the ability to make the food actually enter their bodies? I'm truly curious!

Monday, October 12, 2009


If, as a parent, you are ever bored and need something else to do, agree to own a pet. Then, when you are slightly insane, agree to own three. That way, when the children stop providing messes to clean up, you have something to do.

Wait. The children NEVER stop making messes.

In my own personal moment of insanity I agreed to owning two cats and a turtle.

But today, Joe the turtle nearly died from smoke inhalation. Some may remember The Burned Carpet Story in which Michael nearly burned down his room. Today's event I blame solely on the cats.

Thanks to my Aunt who distracted my mother, I got off my tushie and went upstairs to collect laundry and make an attempt at being productive. When I got up there, I smelled smoke and began to run from room to room to find what was burning. I went into the boys room and instantly knew what the problem was. The heat lamp in the turtle's cage had somehow (read stupid cat) been knocked into his cage and the substrate was smoldering. I think it was mere minutes from becoming a full blown fire.

So I got to run around like a crazy lady, dousing the fire and saving Joe. Not that I didn't have anything else to do this morning. Joe is one lucky turtle!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hop on the Potty Train

Potty training is by far the most evil, ridiculous thing a parent will ever have to do. I am now potty training my fifth child. You'd think I'd be an expert by now, but I have discovered that you can't potty train two children the same way. You can't use the same rewards, you can't use the same punishments, and you certainly can't use the same underwear.

I've had a crier, I've had a quick learner, I've had stubborn, I've had unwilling. And then I've bribed, cried, yelled, whined and bribed some more.

But for some reason (insanity), I've willingly hopped back on the potty train. I swore up and down, left and right, that I wasn't even going to attempt to potty train O until the spring. But she bribed me by pooping in the potty every day for a week.

So I pulled out the leftover pullups from K (not used, leftover) and put her in them. I explained the basics and left her to it. We went through half a box of pullups in two days.

Did I give up? Did I walk away? No, I bought underwear. She peed in four pairs before I gave up and put her back in pullups.

Why am I being so persistent? Because she fools me into thinking this might be easy. She pees every time I put her on the potty and she still poops in the potty. She also pees in her pullups nearly every time. She just has a lot of pee I guess.

I'm not sure how long before I give up. I always do. Even though the 'experts' say not to put them back in diapers, I've given up nearly every time and reverted back to diapers. You can only clean up so much pee. And you know what? My kids all turned out relatively normal.

So it's day four, O is in pullups, I'm washing all of her new underwear and I'm not insane yet. I'll let you know when I need the straight jacket.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ten skills every new parent should acquire

1. One-armed dish washing, vacuuming and cleaning in general. Bid farewell to your other arm as it will soon be permanently attached to a child.

2. The ability to do things with a moving target. Namely, but not limited to, diaper changing, clothing and hair fixing.

3. The ability to be unfazed and unembarrassed by the things your children do in public. This will allow you to smile and hold your head high while being followed through a store by a wailing child.

4. Develop the patience of a saint. I have no recommendations as to how to do this. I'm still working on it. But if I had it, I'm sure my children would be better off.

5. Learn to drive rather large vehicles. Almost every parent will, at some point in time, drive a vehicle larger than they ever intended to drive.

6. Develop selective hearing. For this, you must close yourself in a padded room with a screaming child and see how long you can last. Increase the time each attempt. This is called immersion therapy. It comes highly recommended in order to deaden eardrums before your own screaming child arrives on the scene.

7. Potty train. Start with an animal. I have managed to potty train four and a half children and while I have survived, my recommendation is to avoid it at all costs. Hire someone to do it for you, if necessary.

8. Selective sight. This particular gift comes in handy if you are a less than stellar housekeeper. It allows you to see your house as clean while not recognizing the piles of clutter that surround you, thus allowing you to do such activities as reading and blogging.

9. Learn to develop a strict bedtime and nap time. This is for your survival. Don't ever let them go or you will be doomed. (Doomed to what, I'm unsure, but doomed nonetheless.)

10. Finally, develop a sense of humor. That way, when your newborn poops on you, your toddler draws on walls, or your six year old jumps off a six-foot wall, you have something to keep you from going insane. So laugh, by golly!

Friday, October 2, 2009

I Blink

I've been a tad apathetic about the holidays this year. I'm not throwing my annual Halloween party because there just isn't time. I really didn't want to decorate for Halloween, and I love Halloween. How did I become such a GROWNUP?

I came home from the gym this morning and L (age 8) had unpacked all of the Halloween boxes and efficiently spread stuff all over the house. I walked in and said, "What in the world?", but quickly stifled myself when I saw the look on her face. It could have been Christmas morning for all I knew. She was thrilled with herself.

So, we decorated for Halloween.

All day I've been asking how I've become the boring adult who doesn't look forward to all the holidays with child-like anticipation. When did this happen?

I think my apathy comes in part from the realization that before I blink, another year will be gone.

I blinked and my baby turned ten.

I blinked and my third child started first grade.

Life is flying past me too quickly. I'm not ready for another set of holidays that will be gone before I blink again.

But as we decorated and the children jabbered at me about what they were going to be for Halloween and how they couldn't wait to go Trick-or-Treating, some of my enthusiasm was renewed. I realize that I have to really enjoy these times because they are so fleeting.

Before I blink, they will be all grown up with children of their own.