Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mrs. Happy Housewife

Okay, I don't really have time for a blog today, but here it is anyways, because I had to tell you guys the crazy thing I found out there in bloggerville! There's a blog called Mrs. Happy Housewife (which I accidentally found when trying to get to my own more smart-alecky blog)!!! Yeah, that's right, her blog name is not sarcastic!!! You seriously have to check this blog out. It's way more elaborate than my pathetic offering, with tons of links, which I haven't figured out how to do, and she's a homeschooler, and she follows this cleaning/organizing/micromanaging every detail of her life system which is way more complicated than anything I have ever seen, and she plans her dinner menus a week in advance, and.... Whew, I had to take a drink of water and relax there just thinking about it!
I spent probably an hour checking all her stuff out and also going to a few of her links. One link in particular, called FLY lady, is good for a nice overwhelming guilt trip, if nothing else. The "Fly lady" recommends organizing your entire life, particularly your cleaning schedules and such, in something called a "control journal," which, dare I say it, sounds a lot like something a.... control freak might have? And in the next breath let me shamefacedly say that I considered making one of my own, in which to schedule every minute of my day and organize my house into cleaning zones and prepare an elaborate evactuation plan for my family and valuables (yes, you read right,) as was recommended. They also suggested having an "errand day" in which one accomplishes all grocery shopping, etc. But then I thought better of it- as in, I thought, "What's next, crazy lady, you're gonna be wearing aprons around the house and making brownies from scratch for no good reason other than to prove a point?"
What I mean to say, with no offense intended toward the obviously intelligent and meticulous Mrs. Happy Housewife, is that while I am a "housewife," and keep a pretty darn clean and organized house, in fact, I in no way wish to be that scheduled and methodical. Ok, well, except for the way in which my inner, obsessive compulsive self (the one that used to cry as a child when I couldn't get those sheets on my bed perfectly flat and smooth) always feels drawn to stuff suggesting order and cleanliness and discipline.
But the fact is, I am home all day with a baby and a dog. I don't want to be so organized that I have an "errand day" in which I get it all taken care of in one fell swoop- I want an errand every day! I sometimes invent errands in order to get out of the house more! And how am I supposed to follow a cleaning schedule when I'm taking care of a baby who has about a three minute attention span?
The answer is, I'm not. I've tried many daily schedules and cleaning schedules of my own (none that involved "control journals," but...) and it always ends up being frustrating, and I just get OCD about it and then overly upset when everything doesn't go perfectly as I planned. So, I have abandoned them and found that I'm much happier just seeing where the day takes me. Everything still gets done pretty regularly, and this way I don't have to stress about what I'm "supposed" to be doing at any given time. Maybe this wouldn't work for everyone, but it's the only thing that does work for me.
Now, we'll see how long this lasts- maybe when I have three kids running around and a million things on my mind, I will need a control journal to keep from losing track of all that needs done.
Until that dreaded day, though, I think I'll stick with what works for me.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Confessions, Part Two

Hiya, it's me again, still slacking away! Now, before I launch into my newest story of bad parenting, I want to point that I created a lovely playroom for my daughter today- yay me! It is blissfully free of sharp objects and glass cabinets and remote controls and computer cords; it is a little safe haven in which I can hopefully crash out on the bed (okay, it's also still the spare bedroom) and watch Addy play to her little heart's content without hovering every second to prevent some new form of head trauma and/or damage to "mommy's pretties." So I feel pretty good about myself. And I also finally put outlet covers throughout the house. I realize this may seem extremely late in the game to be doing that, but our kid was a late crawler, ok? It didn't really seem urgent until now.
So. Those are my triumphs of the week. Also the fact that Addy is better now, her new tooth is nearly in, and she has been sleeping through the night again! These seemingly small things have made the difference between a happy, perky mama, and a mama who was getting weepy driving around the rural outskirts of town, listening to the same cd play for the third time in a row, just so that her stuffy, congested baby back in the carseat would stay asleep a little bit longer.
Now for the confession part. I was getting clothes out of the dryer the other day and sat Adelay down on the rug next to me. She was playing with some toy and was pretty quiet and content, so I kind of forgot she was there after a minute, and when I finished the laundry, I continued on into the kitchen to unload the dishwasher. Then, couple of minutes later, it dawns on me how quiet Adelay has been, and I turn around to look into the laundry room. There, next to the dog's dish, sat my happy, drooling baby, chewing on an ant trap. With dead ants dangling off of it.
My heart was racing so fast, seriously, and I'm running in there and grabbing her up and snatching away the poison chew toy, and I'm actually saying to myself out loud, "Now, don't panic, it's probably fine, these kinds of things are almost always fine, kids eat all kinds of awful things and survive..." But still my heart is racing, racing, racing, and I'm watching my daughter, waiting for her lips to turn blue or for her to start coughing weakly or something. I didn't even know what to look for!
So I scrambled for my phone and called the local hospital's hotline, and they referred me to Poison Control Center (and yes, I know, I should have that number posted on my refrigerator, along with the number of the local police and my child's pediatrician and our local pharmacy and also a list of every known sex offender in a 100-mile radius. I know!) And then my phone started it's insistent beeping- low battery!- and in order to stay on the phone with the Poison Control lady, I had to hook my phone to its charger. So, I was essentially attached to the wall, waiting for her to look up the exact ingredients of my particular brand of ant trap to see if I had allowed my baby to ingest toxic poisons or not, and as I'm waiting, Adelay crawls over to the kitchen cupboard and starts pulling out more great toys like dish detergent and Lysol antibacterial spray! And then helpful poison center lady returns to the phone to assure me that my daughter will live and I don't need to induce vomiting or anything, but that I "really need to watch her every minute, you know- they can get into trouble as soon as you turn your back!"
Is there a lower feeling than being scolded by a complete stranger? Not in my catalogue of emotions. I am one of those shallow people to whom other people's opinions actually matter a lot, even though I am loathe to admit it, and I felt like total parent scum for a few minutes. My husband arrived right at that moment, though, so I got to quickly relay the story, hand off the baby, and escape to the bathroom for a quick cry before dinner. That was nice. Small favors...
So, yeah. That was a bad day. The dog threw up twice that morning, also. Just so you know. But hey, we're all still alive, so what's a bad day?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sick and Tired

Well, Addy's had a cold for almost a week now, plus she picked this convenient time to also begin cutting her first tooth (not one of the usual bottom center first teeth, either- no, an upper incisor for my girl, a much more painful tooth to cut!) It's been a bit of a culture shock, in a way, because Addy had never really been sick before, and she has always been a pretty good sleeper. It was literally as though, last Saturday, a baby snatcher removed our happy child and left in her place a screaming, miserable little bundle of drool and snot who refuses to eat or sleep, and who cries to be held, yet, when picked up, twists and squirms to be put down. There was one night this weekend when it literally took three hours of Jim and I taking turns rocking and walking her to put her to sleep.
Not to sound spoiled- I want to say that I know lots of people go through routines like this on a daily basis, and believe me, you have my sympathy. But it's just been a long couple of days and nights. Oh, and did I mention that for three days she went without taking a nap? Seriously, the child did not sleep at all unless we put her in the car and drove around- probably because with the angle of the car seat she could actually breathe. If you guys have been around nap-deprived babies for any time, you know how insane they get- Adelay would literally look delirious by the end of the day, eyelids drooping, crawling around in a crazy weave resembling a drunk person's stagger, but she would just be more determined than ever that sleep was not on the agenda.
Anyways... she's better now, mostly, just has a runny nose and is a little cranky and clingy still, but at least she's sleeping. It feels like we're emerging from a dark tunnel of awfulness, blinking into the sunlight, amazed that there still is such a thing. I have never before wished that I was not the one at home all day with the baby, but I have to admit to having a strong desire for exactly that a couple of times this weeks. That makes me feel terrible and unloving and unsympathetic- when my baby is sick, I should be feeling bad for her, not myself! And I did, I promise, and I still do. As I watched her fight sleep so desperately when it was what she needed most, believe me, I felt great compassion and tenderness for my poor baby. She sometimes seems like such a big girl already, but in those moments, she was as helpless and hysterical as a newborn, and I wanted nothing more than to make her feel comfortable and relaxed. Yet, what I needed desperately was also sleep. And I too longed to feel relaxed, but that's not in the cards for the mom of a sick cranky baby.
Sometimes, as adults, don't we just wish there was someone to take care of us? And there is, of course, our spouses and friends and support systems and all that. But I mean, literally, physically, take care, like, hold you and rock you and carry you around and tuck you into bed and fetch you drinks in the middle of the night? 'Cause, see, I myself was not feeling so hot last weekend either, for various reasons, and I found myself wishing to be little again, to have a caretaker, rather than be the caretaker.
But. Such is not the case. And this is what I signed on for when we decided to have a baby- the long, insane nights and the tired, hung-over feeling days. But there is also the feeling of being needed, and the knowledge that you are capable of giving comfort- these are not small things. And also there is the chance to feel gratitude towards my own mother!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Confessions of a Slacker Mom

Ok, well, promise you won't turn me in to the authorities- I just let my daughter entertain herself with the plastic sleeve of the Oreos package for, like, fifteen minutes straight. And then I went to put some laundry away, and when I turned around to tell Addy I'd be back in a minute, I suddenly saw what any normal personal would have seen a while ago, which was, essentially, an infant amusing herself by putting her head in a plastic bag. Good wholesome fun! (Just in case any of you are actually picking up the phone right now, please be assured I was right beside her the whole time she was playing. I feel fairly sure I would have noticed if death was imminent. But still.)
And this isn't the first time, either, with the shiny plastic packaging. It is currently Adelay's first love, and she responds to its crunchy, crinkly sound like a siren song. Newspaper is also a big favorite. Oh, and those whisper-thin sanitary covers that they put over the exam tables at the doctor's office, so easily and noisily shredded? Oh, we love that stuff, yes we do! We whip ourselves into a little frenzy kicking and tearing at it for the sheer joy of those rustling, ripping sounds! (I was genuinely embarassed the last time I was at our doctor's. We had to wait a while, and by the time the doctor got into the exam room, it looked like a giant, rabid mouse had gotten at the paper. Not to mention the noise, both from the crinkling paper and the gleeful, shrieking child.)
So, all you relatives who will be buying gifts in the future, please know that you could throw, say, a McDonalds Happy Meal toy into a large crate, swath it in about a hundred layers of tissue paper, and you would undoubtedly be the bearer of the most beloved birthday present ever.
Remote controls and cell phones are also consistently tempting, despite the fact that Adelay has a toy version of both those items. But these she casts off in disdain in favor of the real thing. And cords are wonderful, and Daddy's DVD collection, and Mommy's hot cup of coffee, and the keyboard and the mouse, and the dog's germy tongue, and random dirty shoes slipped off in the front hall... All of these are fantastic toys, and clearly make all that plastic Baby Weisenstein crap we try to give her pale in comparison!
So, with her first birthday coming up, I don't know what I should ask for from her doting grandparents- plastic grocery sacks? Filled with more sacks? Because yes, these too are absolutely irresistable, apparently. On the way home from the grocery store, Adelay's discontented moans are always my companion. She seranades me with a little song called, "Why Are You So Mean, Keeping All the Grocery Bags Away From Me So I Cannot Bury My Little Nose and Mouth in Their Enticing Plastic Embrace?"
And here's another guilty little secret for you: by the end of my shopping trips, I have usually given in and allowed Addy to occupy herself by chewing on my shopping list until it is nothing but a wet, inky pulp. It's really disgusting. But after about a half hour of shopping, watching me consult that beautiful piece of paper over and over, she is driven insane with jealousy and will stop at nothing to snatch it from my hands. And if I try to thwart her in her thievery, she will kick and cry and twist around and I will get The Eye from all the old ladies with their carts full of cottage cheese. So, letting her get some paper in her diet- which is, after all, good hearty fiber, right?- often seems the lesser of two evils.
So there you have it. My confession for the week. Someone, please, tell me what eyebrow-raising things you let your little kids do to keep the peace, please! It'll make me feel better.