Sunday, November 28, 2010

Children Left To Themselves

In general, I think it's true that with every new season of our lives, we see life with a new pair of lenses.  Certainly becoming a parent has opened my eyes to many a reality I never noticed before.  This Thanksgiving, I realized the wonderful benefit of family gatherings.  I'm not sure if I had never noticed it before, or had merely never taken advantage of it, but this Thanksgiving, I realized how many potential babysitters there were in one enclosed space.  It was like any member of the family could have had a bulls-eye taped to his/her back, and I could aim my child directly for the center.  

This year, I was more than happy to let other people help watch my children while I enjoyed adult conversation or entertaining games.  I sadly wasn't able to take advantage of this opportunity as much as I wanted, since my 3 year old was very sick and definitely needed mommy-care.  But in those few-and-far-between moments when he was well enough that I could hand him off, I did.  Eagerly.

This is a scenario played out in many a home with many a parent, I am sure.  And the only real problem with this wonderful childcare solution is that while loving, the family member with the bulls-eye on his back never feels completely responsible for the child.  So, the child can potentially be passed from one family member to the other.  Or, the child can simply be left to fend for himself.

There are those children who don't like fending for themselves, and so will find another playmate and/or comforter whenever they find themselves alone.  But there are other children who find it perfectly acceptable to fend for themselves; in fact, they sometimes prefer it.

In our family gathering this past Thanksgiving, we had an opportunity to observe both.  Or at least, we saw the aftermath.  My 3 year old is very social and falls into the first category--he always wants someone around.  So, once left alone without an adult, he found a playmate.  Another four year old.  Now, this four year olds character fits more aptly in the second category--he feels perfectly fine fending for himself.

We can only piece together the information of what truly happened during their time spent together based on the interesting insights they have, and, of course, the noticeable physical devastation that occurred.  You see, where there had been a collection of untouched, large, home-grown pumpkins and squash, there were just remnants of home-grown pumpkins and squash.  Some pieces were still fairly intact with only a few lines, as if someone had been attempting to draw faces into them.  Others were truly marred, with holes so large that you could see straight into the innards of the thing itself.  And sitting only a couple feet away from the orange and green mess, was a hatchet.  It was innocently lying on the floor, a reminder that it was useless unless wielded by a person.  From the accounts of those present (only my son and the other 4 year old boy), it was the four year old who wielded the hatchet.  My son tells me that the boy was just making jack-o-lanterns.  Now that is a boy who is perfectly content to be on his own.

I don't think this story will make me any less apt to hand my child off when I'm around a whole bunch of family.  That's just too good a thing to pass up.  Maybe, though, it will motivate me to check the surrounding area to make sure there are no sharp, dangerous materials hiding nearby....  We'll see.  For now, all I can say is that this Thanksgiving, I had one more thing to be thankful for.  Praise the Lord that it was only squash and pumpkins that were cut into: not anything, or anyONE, else!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Being Thankful

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would write a post about something for which I'm especially thankful.  To be honest, the first thing that came to mind is our upstairs bathroom.  This is something that I thank God for daily.  Now please, don't be offended.  Give me a chance to explain myself.

When my smarty-pants husband and I first got married, we were living in a small one-bedroom apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  While I am thankful that he was smart enough to get paid to go to school and not the other way around, I must say that the sum he was getting paid for his smarts wasn't all that amazing.  So, we rented an apartment that was on the very low end of the price range in the area.  At a mere $900 a month, plus utilities and laundry, it was a steal.  But of course, there is a reason it cost a mere $900 a month.  The apartment was situated in the basement of a six-unit building.  The floor was all hard, cold tile.  The heat was pumped through vents at the top of the apartment--enabling us to spend a lot of money to heat the apartment above us.  I am sure they were very thankful for our help in subsidizing their heating bills.  One of our biggest difficulties in the winter was that the pipes in the bathroom were too close to the outside walls.  Every time the temperatures would drop outside (which happened often, of course, it being New England and all), our pipes would freeze.  Thankfully, this only applied to the toilet and the sink, not the bathtub.  But, it meant that we had to wash our hands in the tub, and then manually refill the toilet water.... Ahh, the life of young newlyweds in the city.

The next winter, we had a small child and after just a few weeks of this, I had more than enough.  Finally, someone came to put in some insulation between the pipes and the outside wall.  The bathroom itself (and the rest of the apartment) was still ridiculously cold.  But at least we didn't have to manually refill the toilet water anymore.  Living in luxury.

It was four years ago that we spent our winter filling and refilling a bucket from our tub.  I won't ever forget it.  Every year when the temperatures drop and winter creeps into the air, I am thankful that we won't be spending our time doing that again.  And this year, we even figured out a way to let the temperature get hotter in the shower!  Maybe I won't actually have to put an electric heater in there to keep from shivering.  I'll tell you what, working plumbing and hot water are definitely big things to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Washing Dishes

Do you find that there are certain things on your priority list that you don't mind dropping down a few spots?  And do you just-so-happen to do this (drop-down) often in regards to a particular task?  Generally, I think I have something of a hierarchy of necessary work.  But, there are certain tasks that, while "necessary," I thoroughly begrudge doing and so am willing to stall their undertaking as often as possible.

This evening while thinking about it, I decided that my daily chores can be compared to a card game.  There are Kings and Queens that beat out all those low-numbered cards, but then there's always a "trump" card, too.  So, for instance, cleaning up the toys that are clustered sporadically across the floor might be something like a 3 of Clubs, while doing the laundry so I have a work shirt ready might be a Jack of Spades.  Activities like making sure the kids are fed and clean would probably rank in those higher level cards.  While things like uncluttering the house and folding laundry would be low level cards.

Now, I'm not that avid a card player, but the "trump" card doesn't always have to be the same--right?  That is to say, in one game it could be a Heart and in another game it could be a Diamond.... ?  And, is it true it isn't necessarily the same number every time?  I ask this, mostly just to make sure my analogy will really work....

You see, when it comes to washing dishes (let's say that's a 2 of Clubs), I will make almost anything a trump against it.

It's not like I abhor washing the dishes.  I just don't really like it.  There's almost always something else I'd rather be doing.  You have to stand there, in one place, hands wet and soapy, wash after wash after wash after wash.  Of course, I can't ever really stand there, in one place, since generally when I'm washing dishes, my children are still moving about throughout the house and need attending to every few minutes or so.  Which only means that the entire washing dishes process takes that much longer: stop; listen carefully for which child is crying/yelling; rinse soap off hands; dry hands quickly; go check suspicious scene; resolve problematic issue/s; return to soapy water; continue washing; repeat entire process over again until dishes are complete or children have magically disappeared.

The only problem is that you eventually run out of trump cards.  That is to say, eventually, the dishes must be done.  It's a very disappointing reality.  I often wish I was on one of those cooking shows.  You see these people creating fantastic meals, but you never see them cleaning the dishes afterwards.  At least the way I imagine it, they never even clean the dishes at all.  They have their low-level minions do that.  And so we have children.  Oh, I await the day when they are old enough to be given daily dish duty.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


So, I just got a Shutterfly account and suddenly I'm getting lots of free stuff.  I'm loving it!  First, somehow I got an email for a free 8x8 hard cover photo book.  Then, once starting a Shutterfly account, I got 50 free prints.  Now (just a week later!), Shutterfly is offering bloggers 50 FREE cards just by talking about Shutterfly's products on their blog.  Can you even believe it?!  I love the free wagon.  I wish it came around more often.

For any of you out there who blog but haven't yet signed up to get in on those 50 free cards, here's the link: 50 Free Holiday Cards from Shutterfly

And for the rest of you who don't blog yourself, but are weird enough to read other people's musings, let me tell you a little about the coolness of Shutterfly.  In the past, I've mostly used sites like this solely to upload photos and then have them printed.  Cheaper than going to any nearby stores, and I like the quality.  But my recent interlude with Shutterfly has really opened my eyes.  It's amazing all the things you can do with your photos!!

For example, I'm having a girls holiday party--I totally could have made super-cute personalized cards on Shutterfly and sent them out.  Check Holiday Invitation ideas out here.

Or,  I could make my own personal tags to put on the gifts I give.  Check out Tag ideas here.   I love the idea of making personalized gift tags on Shutterfly.  It's something I wish I had time to do by hand, making really cute personalized tags for each gift, but there's no way I'd really have time with two small kids in the house.  Making them on Shutterfly actually seems reasonable!

I'm excited to be getting 50 free cards; they have some really fantastic choices!  Check out Christmas Cards here.  I'm not sure that it will be easy to decide which one to use!!

I've never done personalized holiday cards before, but last year a large portion of the cards we were given were personalized with a family photo.  This may be really strange, but I've always kept these kind of cards.  I have personalized Christmas cards from a family I used to babysit for spanning at least 7 years.  I love looking at the progression of how the kids grow!!  They aren't things I look at often, but maybe once or twice a year.  With this Shutterfly offer, and thinking of those cards we've been given, I'm starting to think maybe we should be making it a new tradition in our house!  It is such a great excuse to get a family picture, and an easy way to give others a quick glimpse into how we're doing!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Goodbye Creative Songs, Hello Distraction

Abby was up a lot last night.  She rarely cries, but last night for some reason, between the hours of 2am and 4am, there was a lot of crying.  Many tears.  And for me, there were many frustrated hand gestures, hoping she'd suddenly realize the time and quietly fall back asleep.  Finally, she was persuaded to sit in her crib with the hallway light on, giving enough glow to her room that she could play with her toys.

Today, I am tired.  Very tired.  And still somewhat sick.  My voice is hoarse, but I keep thinking the more I use it, the more that will go away....  only, that doesn't seem to be working.  Yet.

Sometimes I can start singing a song, just made up from my head, and keep going with it.  Sometimes these songs end up sounding pretty good.  At least, I think so.  Today while I was feeding Abby, and trying to distract myself from Elijah who was causing all sorts of trouble, I starting making up a song.  It turned out to be a pretty good one, and I decided that for once, I wanted to try to make an effort to record it. So, I quickly came to the computer and tried to figure out how to record a video of me singing, so later I could go back to it.  (You know, later, like when I'm not in the middle of feeding one child and ignoring another.)  It seemed like a great idea.  But then, when I finally got the video working, I had lost the song.  And just as I think it might be coming back to me, Elijah runs in--rice cake all over his face.  That's all I needed to lose the song for good.

So, instead of a lyrically and tone-fully creative piece of music, I now had a song that was almost the opposite.  And because the taping of it became somewhat funny to me, I thought I would share it with you.  Please, do be kind.  Singing solo (especially while sick) is not something I usually do in front of lots of people for fear of embarrassment, but I thought it was worth sharing because it made me laugh.  I am sure there are a lot of other mothers out there who can relate to having what seems like a great plan quickly dissolve into nothing more than a silly waste of time.  Oh, the best laid plans of mice and men!!

Here's the link to the video:
singing with preschoolers is so difficult

(Have you had any plans lately that went awry?)

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Enemy, the Germ

It's that time of year again that sickness abounds in all houses with occupants under the age of 18.  This is not law, but it is a somewhat standard occurrence.  Blame the public sharing of germs and the growing body.  I was told that there was a positive correlation between increase of children and increase of sickness in the home.  I laughed at such a hypothesis. What once was laughter is now mourning at my third week of illness running rampant in the house.  Be gone you beasts of ruin and despair!!!  It is especially frustrating when I am the one with the disease, as it means next to nothing is done in the house.  The dishes are not clean.  Fresh meals are not prepared (which means, in turn, that the fresh produce that I bought a day before falling ill is now in danger of molding in the fridge).  Laundry is not done, and children are most assuredly not given baths.

The germ is not just an enemy to the body, it is an enemy to the whole house.  This tiny, miniscule, not-even-visible-with-our-own-eyes,  microorganism is capable of rendering my entire house, for days if not weeks on end, a disaster site.

You know that it's true.  You have seen it yourself, in your own homes.  And there is no way to truly avoid it.  The germ mocks us in our despair.  We can stay home, devoid of all social life and engagement with the outside world.  Keeping ourselves safe from any disease-carrying biped.  But in reality, the germ is laughing--he has won without even touching us.  We are paralyzed in fear of contact.  And once we realize that staying indoors all winter is not an even semi-suitable option, we open the seal of our immunity and leave an entrance for disease.  It may not happen right away.  Let's be realistic, the germ is a busy organism.  He has places to go, people to destroy.  You will have to wait, careful of your every move, desperately trying to avoid contact.  And when, at last, he is at the entrance of your cellular door, you will have no choice but to give in and let disaster take hold.

It is upsetting, is it not?  But do not let such a small thing bring a damper to your mood!  Enjoy yourself, while you can.  And know that in the end, you will win against that great evildoer, germ.  You will fight back.  And you will win.  It just might take you a while to clean up the mess afterwards.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Rest for Me" To the tune of "Respect" by Aretha Franklin

After both kids kept me up last night, I found myself changing the lyrics of the song Respect into something a little more applicable to my day today....  Rest.  Boy I need it.  You know I want it.

So anyway, here's just something to make you laugh.  You can sing it to yourself next time the kids are wearing you down! (Or, of course, you can just take the idea and change it to whatever circumstance is more applicable to you right now.)

(oo)  What I want
(oo)  Baby, you got it
(oo)  What I need
(oo)  You got more of it
(oo)  All I’m askin’Is for a little rest when I’m at home (just a little bit)
Hey children (just a little bit) when we’re at home
(just a little bit) kiddos (just a little bit)
I ain’t gonna sleep all the day long
Ain’t gonna be gone (oo) far too long (oo)
All I’m askin’ (oo)
Is for a little rest when I’m at home (just a little bit)
Children (just a little bit) when we’re at home (just a little bit)
Yeah (just a little bit)
Baby you’ll sleep, but your brother won’t
I need some rest, even one eye closed
Just give me a little down time
When I’m at home (just a, just a, just a, just a)
Yeah kids (just a, just a, just a, just a, just a)
When we’re at home (just a little bit)
Yeah (just a little bit)
----instrumental break----
Oooh, your smiles are
Sweeter than honey.
But I can’t stand it
when you’re whiney.
All I want you to do (oo) for me
Is give me some rest when we’re home (rest, rest, rest, rest)
Yeah kiddos (rest, rest, rest, rest)
Give it to me (rest, just a little bit)
Now and then (just as little bit)
R-E-S-T for me
Find out how great it’d be
R-E-S-T for me
Things would be better--you’ll see
Oh (give it to me, give it to me, give it to me, give it to me)
A little rest (give it to me, give it to me, give it to me, give it to me)
Woah, children (just a little bit)
A little rest (just a little bit)
I get tired (just a little bit)
Keep on tryin’ (just a little bit)
You’re runnin’ out of time outs (just a little bit)
And I ain’t lyin’ (just a little bit)
(rest, rest, rest, rest) for me
When we’re at home (just sometimes)
Or you might walk in (rest for me, just a little bit)
And find I’m hidin’ (just a little bit)
Somewhere quiet (just a little bit)
Just to find a little rest (just a little bit)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Surprised by a challenge

Today I was challenged.  So often in my daily routine I avoid things that would pull me out of my comfort zone.  It's not something that I always consciously do.  But, today when faced with a challenge, I realized how much I distance myself from such things.  I'm not talking here about "challenges" like "let's see who can run to the end of the sidewalk first"--I'm talking about something that would actually challenge you.  Something that would stretch you so much that it might even make your hands sweat or your heart rate increase.  Something that would make you writhe inside, so much so that you want to run away and hide.

I experienced that kind of challenge today.  It took me by surprise, actually.  I had no idea, but the thought of sliding down a dark, enclosed, curvy tube, headed straight for 8 feet of water at the bottom, terrifies me.  I hadn't expected to be so scared.  I love slides.  I also love water.  And heights don't bother me all that much--I have skydived 13 times in the past.  Perhaps it was the fact that the slide was enclosed, and upon peering in, all I could see was darkness.  Or the fact that I'd be flying into water at the bottom--with only a nano-seconds warning.

Whatever the reasons were, I was terrified.  But, like being in grade school all over again, I was being pushed to do it.  Just another reminder of why I hated middle school and high school.   So much peer pressure to do things I'd just as well not.  But I couldn't cop out--it's only a water slide, right??  I kept thinking to myself, "no big big deal...this is really no big deal."  I repeated that over and over in my head, trying to tell my mind it was fine, all the while my heart rate was skyrocketing.  My hands were getting clammy.  I realized that this was the first time in a long time that I was really being challenged.  And I didn't like it.  In fact, the first time, I just walked right down the stairs and refused to do it.  But of course, pleads are hard to ignore.

So, after an extended period of pleading and prodding, I slowly, somewhat begrudgingly, traipsed up the windy stairs to the top of the slide once more.  I had a plan.  It couldn't be more than ten seconds, the whole thing, right?  I could definitely hold my breath that long.  Just close my eyes, hold my nose, and go.  No looking back.  I can do this.

And I did.  I'm not about to tell you it was less scary than I made it out to be.  While I might have made it to the bottom safe and sound, those few seconds winding inside that dark enclosure was scary for sure.  I think I felt the speed of the fall as much as I felt my heart pounding.  And afterwards, I think I needed five minutes just to recuperate.

Now, for some of you, that kind of thing is no big deal--dark slides, landing in water, no biggie.  But for me, it took some guts.  I met that challenge head on and I feel like my character has grown on account of it.  I'm not saying I want a challenge like that every day, but I am thankful for it.  I did it!!  And now, back to life as it was before.....

Friday, November 5, 2010


We were talking about prerogatives in our house today, if only briefly.  My husband handed me a dirty dish and asked me to put it into the sink.  As I took it from him to do so, I firmly said, "No."  

He mentioned something to me about how I like to say one thing and do another.  I told him that was my prerogative.  To which he replies, "I'm a physicist: [therefore] I don't have to wear matching colors.  You're a woman; [therefore] you don't have to do what you say [you will do]."  

Yes, exactly.

We all live with certain prerogatives, don't we?  The dictionary calls them "exclusive or special rights, powers or privileges."  I'm not sure who ever told me that I could have those special rights, but I do so firmly believe I am entitled to them.

For example, I work a couple of hours a week watching children for parents who are exercising.  We have a big play area for the kids, one area for bigger kids, and another area for babies and infants who aren't yet walking.  The kids aren't supposed to have food while they're there, and yet, my son has a special medical condition that necessitates his eating snacks, somewhat often.  And, as it's my prerogative, I give my child food, much to the chagrin of the other children.  At times, some of the other children will gather around him, telling me things like, "I'm hungry!  I need a snack.... please.... I'm really hungry.... why does HE get one....??"  Not fair.  So not fair.

You might think this is an acceptable circumstance, and maybe it is, but it does make me think a lot about our prerogatives.  Sometimes it's downright funny what we think we are entitled to.  Like Shania Twain's song, "The best thing about being a woman, is the prerogative to have a little fun...."

Most of the prerogatives we live by we probably don't even realize have.  Like when my husband pointed out that because I'm a woman my actions and words don't have to line up.  He was really only joking when he said it, but when I think about it, there is some truth to it.... there is a part of me that feels like I get to be more fickle because I'm a woman.  It's pretty ridiculous. But it's true.

And it's also true that deep down inside, I feel like my husband has an excuse for not knowing how to dress.... he's a physicist.  Isn't that his prerogative...?? 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Making Food

I really like to bake.  I can't say everything I make is beautiful, but most of it tastes pretty fantastic.  And I'm working on the aesthetic part.  Sometimes I'll make the same thing for weeks in a row until I feel like I can make it look good.  Or at least, good enough for other people to see it.

I have a problem, though, because I'm really trying to lose some of these baby pounds.  This wouldn't be a problem if there were lots of people in my house to consume the baked goods I am so frequently making.  As it is, there are only four of us.  And, one of those four doesn't even have teeth yet.  So, I am often forced  to eat what I've made.  Yes, forced.  All that food can't go to waste; I surely can't let it mold on my counter.  I do freeze quite a bit, but there's only so much room in my freezer.  An easy solution would be to bake less.  But I can't seem to manage that.  I must bake.  It's almost therapeutic.  When the kids are stressing me out, I just want to make something and have the kitchen smell like delicious-ness.  Even just the smell of comfort food can bring calm in times of stress.

I am left with a dilemma.  It's like this: can't live with the baked goods; can't live without making them.

In my mind, I envision the perfect solution......

Here in my home, I am just putting a delicious pie into the oven.  Or two.  Maybe Apple.  It's the season for apple pies.  While it's in the oven, I prepare my sign.  "Uber-delicious, melt in your mouth, make your taste buds sing, fresh-out-of-the-oven apple pie inside."  When the timer says five minutes left on the pie, I take my sign outside and plant it right in front of the house.  At the door, I put a sign, "Entrance fee: $5."  The table is prepared with plates and forks, even cups with warm apple cider.

Enter: guests.  Here they come.... every car that innocently drives down my street can't help but pull over at the thought of warm gooey apple pie.  And as soon as they open the door, the smell is like a magnet pulling them in.  "Five dollars? What?..... Oh well, I can't turn back now.  That smell is calling to me!"

And so they eat.  Every last piece.  I take down my sign, say goodbye, and begin to clean up.

Problem solved.  Pie is gone.  And, as a bonus, I have some cash to boot.  Cash I will probably spend on  the next baked item to come out of my oven.  Whatever it may be.

If only it were that easy.