Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Secret To Weight Loss

Be rich. Or so I gathered from today's Oprah, which featured an inside peek at the life of, among others, Cindy Crawford and her husband. They were revealing their "must-haves" and guilty pleasures. Cindy's was- prepare yourself for the sheer decadence- a spoonful of white sugar in her morning tea. That was her caloric indulgence, I should say. Because her other indulgences were of the outrageous spending variety: expensive designer handbags, her own label of skincare products, and diamond-studded dog tags with her children's pictures embedded in them. Her husband's guilty pleasures were even better: a whole garage full of Harleys, a giant bar completely stocked with expensive liquors. And let's not forget the Malibu mansion right on the beach.
Now, both of these individuals work hard in their respective careers and have been very successful, so I do not begrudge them these things. But I'm just sayin'. If I could go out and buy five hundred dollar sparkly shoes to comfort myself when I was feeling down, I could probably resist that bowl of leftover Halloween candy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

In Which I Face My Failures

So the other day was an Errand Day, not to be confused with a Shopping Trip Day, which at least has the potential of fun. Shopping Trip Days usually hold the promise of a trip to at least one large store with makeup departments and home decor departments and kids' clothing departments in which I may wander at my leisure provided neither child pitches a fit or fills their pants. Whereas Errand Day, by definition, involves lots of small trips to boring destinations, with multiple gettings in and out of cars and carseats, and is not something I look forward to.
The first stop was the DMV. Now, I don't know about your town, but the DMV nearest to our neighborhood is grim at best. The floors are dirty, black flecked linoleum; the walls are a dirty white, as are the chairs lined up before the dirty white counter. There are many dusty fake plants sitting around, and the walls are "decorated," inexplicably, by large, postcard-like photos of random waterfalls and beaches at sunset which I can only surmise to be ancient castoffs from a travel agency. The women behind the counter literally never smile, have uniformly terrible haircuts, and don't own a flattering shade of lipstick among them. They speak in voices devoid of emotion. It is a place I loathe. I feel gritty when I leave, as though a layer of the place's dust and defeatism has settled on me while I was waiting in line. I was doubly dreading the trip this particular day because I had to take both kids with me. I was anticipating having to keep Addy quiet and well behaved in the essentially library-like atmosphere while hoping Eli didn't awake and start rooting around discontentedly, forcing me to fumble with blankets and shirts and flaps of my bra while pretending to be totally cool and un-self conscious about breastfeeding in public.
But the whole thing went off without a hitch- I got the kids in, settled Addy in a chair with a box of chicken nuggets, dutifully approached the counter to take my number, and was told I could go next! The paperwork went quickly, and a nice old lady talked to Addy the whole time and kept her from running around. Eli slept, and the lady at the counter smiled when I left and called me honey! A miracle which filled me with hope.
The next trip was to evil Wal-Mart, as there continues to be no Target in a fifty mile radius. I only had a few things to pick up, and I was anticipating no problems as Wal-Mart trips generally go smoothly. But it was here that my bubble was burst. Within five minutes, Addy was so desperate to be out of the cart she was about to throw herself overboard, so I finally released her, and then chased her around the aisles for twenty minutes. And no, I couldn't put her in the seat-belted front part, because I had to clip Eli's carseat there, and no, I couldn't have put Eli's carseat in the back because our Wal-Mart's carts are tiny and there would have been no room for both a carseat AND my purchases.
I finally managed to get to the check out, after helping her put about fifty Halloween greeting cards back in their appropriate slots, and we headed towards the parking lot. I staved off a near tantrum at the soda fridges beside the counters and was almost home free. Then we passed the stupid rides and arcade games and all that crap. Side rant: Getting out of your average discount store is like a freaking gauntlet of temptation for kids- candy bars, impulse-purchase novelties like nail files and Pez dispensers and Kleenex purse packs. Then the inevitable bucking broncos and swaying cars and glittering glass boxes filled with mounds of tantalizing stuffed animals just waiting to be plucked up with a mechanical claw. It's like the store is booby trapped!
Now, I patiently let Addy play around in the rides for a little while, but it was only delaying the inevitable. Suffice it to say, Addy was not pleased when I finally decided it was time to exit the yellow plastic car and go home, and all hell quickly broke out. Oh, how I hate these scenes- the yelling, the stares, the attempting to physically manipulate the child back into the cart without prompting any calls to Children's Services by concerned onlookers. I was sweating even in the autumn chill, Eli was grunting hungrily from his perch in the cart, and a largely pregnant woman was watching me with wide, fearful eyes. Finally, carrying a screaming and flailing Addy under one arm and pushing the cart with the other, I marched resolutely towards the parking lot. Only to be tapped on the shoulder by a kindly older woman, who was holding one of Addy's light up Dora the Explorer tennis shoes, apparently kicked off in the scuffle. I shamefacedly accepted it, and Addy calmed down, her face still flushed and tear streaked, distracted by the appearance of her beloved shoe. If this hadn't happened, I'm pretty sure I would have had to continue on to the car carrying a hysterical child over whom I clearly have far too little control.
This worries me. I need to get a grip on my kid here before she gets too big to carry, basically. I realize that this scenario was merely embarrassing, but it brought up a real concern for me. I need her to listen to me, at least about important stuff like not running away in parking lots, etc. And I am not a spanker- not staunchly and adamantly and self-righteously, but it's just not me, and since I can't ever see myself doing it with any confidence, I'm pretty sure it would simply be ineffectual at best and confusing at worst, so let's start by saying that that particular disciplinary tactic is not part of my repertoire. However, putting a kid in time out is challenging when said kid is going limp and sliding off the chair while screaming.
Can anyone tell me what I am supposed to do about defiance and tantruming? It's embarrassing, but it's also concerning on a more fundamental level. I am all for having a loving and playful relationship with my kids, but I'm getting a little worried that there's a bit too much play and not quite enough respect in Addy's and my relationship. Have I already failed- is it too late to reign things in? Help!

Edited to add: Is everyone else taking their kids to fun fall festivals but us? Everywhere I go in the blogosphere I encounter adorable pictures of children with giant pumpkins! Stop showing me up! My idea of a fun trip with the kids is talking about the names and colors of the produce at the grocery store.
Oh and also: My cheesecakes turned out be-yutifally and I was outrageously pleased with myself. I have great plans for pumpkin cheesecakes this Thanksgiving. I was so proud of myself I went on to make fudge, which I have never attempted before. It was pretty good, too- not fabulous, but good.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Zippety Doo Da, Zippety Ay

I am having a really great Saturday so far. Didn't sleep in, of course, but when Addy woke up at eight and I went to get her, she peed in the potty for me! That's two mornings in a row. True, she never goes in by herself with the intention to pee, but if we catch her at the right times she is starting to. (Is this a new thing, you ask? Why yes it is! You haven't been doing this for months? Why no we haven't!)
Then I went to breakfast with my mom, which was fun. Lots of attention paid to Eli by strangers, which I always enjoy. It's like a random person complimenting your cute handbag or haircut, but on a much more satisfying level, because you actually helped to MAKE the thing being complimented, rather than just CHOOSE it.
Jim had Addy for about four hours- first they went to swimming lessons, then lunch, then to a soccer game his friend was coaching. And I? Eli and I had the aforementioned breakfast, then made a quick stop at the store for some party supplies I forgot, then went home to do my favoritest thing in the world- rearrange. See, every few months I start getting twitchy with the burning desire to move around furniture, pictures, lamps, etc. I can't deal with things being permanent fixtures, as in, "This is the candle that sits on this table, world without end, amen." I guess I have a commitment problem or something, but to me, the placement of decor and furniture in my home is always changeable at a moment's notice.
Today I had one of those moments. I walked in the door, put my frozen foods away, returned to the living room, and stared. Then I went to get my screwdriver and rehung a tapestry. From that followed an hour or two of intensive thought and some carefully executed maneuvering of the glider, an end table, and a floor lamp, and the switching up of some frames and photos, just for fun. I finished it all up with a quick dusting and then vacuumed. I even changed the vacuum bag and threw in a couple yummy smelling Bounce sheets for good measure. Voila! Fresh new living room, and I didn't have to buy anything.
After I finished playing house in my house, Addy got home and was positively delirious with joy after her fun morning with Dad. She played with us for about a half hour, and then went down for a nap. Then Jim left to watch football (or some kind of ball) at a friend's. I ate lunch IN TOTAL PEACE WHILE READING BLOGS YAY YAY and then got to work on those cheesecakes. The brownie crust is now baking away, fragrancing the house with something other than its usual eau de diaper pail, and I am writing! Things are mostly clean! The babies are sleeping! Everything in my universe is, momentarily, as it should be.

*Er, not that I want my children to always be asleep. I like them awake sometimes too. But there is something to be said for silence.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Oh hi! Oh hi everyone! I miss you so much. I miss writing so much. But in order for the laundry to be kept up on and a certain level of sanitation maintained in the house (read: not necessarily dusted, but at least with the mildew scrubbed out of the tub on a semi-regular basis,) and the children kept fed and changed and sort of clean and myself kept sufficiently fed (which is apparently a full time job in itself,) well... Blogging has had to be back-burnered for the time being. Plus my computer at home is a little BITCH (sorry Mom!) and only turns on and stays on about one out of every three tries. Sometimes just the idea of messing with it long enough to get the internet up is too exhausting, and I am forced to flop to the couch and watch Oprah instead.
I have been doing lots of baking, though, which is very out of character for me. Hey, stress eating is my new hobby! This weekend I am attempting CHEESECAKE for a baby shower I'm hosting. PRAY for this cheesecake, friends, that it will survive a night in my house and make it to the party untouched.

And here, for your reading pleasure, is the one post topic which has managed to stick in my head all this week: The Perfect Mother. And how I am not her, no matter how hard I try. I mean, I seriously don't know how moms who also have full-time jobs DO it. How do you keep your house clean, your clothes washed, your cupboards stocked, your children bathed and fed and dressed and sufficiently loved on, meals cooked, various birthday gifts remembered and shopped for and wrapped, appointments scheduled, and still hold down a job? I feel like I am doing these things by the seat of my pants, and I have all day to devote to it!
And these are just the things that must be done. There is also the fact that I hope to still maintain a sex life, keep up with my friends, have a hobby or two, and find time to shave my legs at least once a week. But everything, every little childcare issue or chore or grooming task, be it plucking my eyebrows or changing Addy's diaper or remembering to trim the baby's nails, must be fit in between CONSTANT NURSING. I feel like my brain is churning twenty-four seven, firing off little telegram reminders: "Buy toilet paper! Brush hair! Bathe baby! Wipe counter! Sweep crap off floor! Call doctor's office!" And I hate the way whole days will go by in which I feel like I have accomplished nothing, even though I have felt busy and stressed the whole time.
Is this normal, to feel like you just can't get it all done, no matter how fast your brain is flying and how many post-it reminders you leave all over the house? Is it normal to be gritting your teeth in frustration because just when you sit down to play Legos with your toddler, your baby starts fussing, and now you can't enjoy either the block playing or the nursing with your whole heart, because you know your other baby is wanting you,too? I wish I could clone myself so I could be everywhere, meeting everyone's needs, at the same time.
Just to get this post written, I've had to be rocking the bouncy seat with one foot and getting up and down to play with Addy in between the rocking. And I just love them both SO much, but there's just this mounting fatigue....
Well, here's an example for you: The other day, one of my non-mom friends was over, holding the baby, and she asked, "Don't you just hate to put him down, ever?" And Jim and I looked at each other wearily and answered in one voice, "No. We're excited." Which sounds horrible, but please understand that Eli fusses a lot when he's awake, even when fed and changed and warm, because he wants to be held. This is fine and I am happy to cuddle him as much as he needs, but when he's finally asleep and quiet, my first thought is not usually, "Oh man, I sure wish I could just sit here for ANOTHER hour holding this hot heavy bundle!" It's more like, "Oh sweet! Now I can shower and brush my teeth and maybe get a glass of ice water and watch a sitcom with Jim before Eli needs me again!"
So anyways, that's the state of things here at Semi-Desperation Central!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Cliche Is Upon Us

The terrible twos, that is. They arrived at our door promptly the Sunday evening after Addy's second birthday party, and appear to have brought all their luggage with them. They are settling in for the long haul, introducing us to furious, limp-bodied tantrums, endlessly dragged out bedtimes, and the desperate determination to do everything by herself. EV-ER-Y thing. No matter if it takes twenty minutes to buckle a pair of shoes, or if she clearly lacks the fine motor skills for a particular task and will only end up in a heap on the floor, weeping, because the milk carton was too cumbersome for her to lift into the fridge. These things are only annoying setbacks which we must power through, because, doggone it, Adelay is a big girl and she does not need our help!
I am also the last few days remembering something Catherine Newman once wrote about her son Ben when he was around three. It was something like, "You know what I just love about this age? Ben's all, 'Oh, however you want to do it, Mom. We can do things in whichever way, on whatever schedule you want. I'm cool.' In opposite land!" (Obviously, the way she said it was funnier, but I don't feel like digging through years worth of Ben and Birdy archives to find the exact quote.) The point, however, is there loud and clear: toddlers are the most particular, persnickety, dare I say OCD people on the face of the earth, and often over the most bewildering issues.
If Addy kisses one person, for instance, she must kiss everyone else in the room as well, and sometimes a few of the inanimate objects get kissed too just for good measure. If I get up from the table to get myself a napkin, she must have a napkin, and then wipe her perfectly clean face and hands just as I have done. If I go to the BATHROOM for one second of privacy to PEE, she is compelled to follow me, drop trou, and demand her own piece of toilet paper. She then sits on the potty for one nanosecond, depositing nothing, before jumping up to help me flush and to congratulate me on my own pottying success.
She wants to snap her own shoes, put on her own socks (inevitably a failure,) buckle her own stroller and carseat straps, buckle ELI'S stroller and carseat and bouncy seat straps, pour her own milk, brush her own hair, push the grocery cart instead of riding in it, carry the giant diaper bag, dispense her own cereal and syrup and orange juice... Pretty much any task which would be messy or painstakingly tedious or just clearly impossible, she is willing to take on as her own personal mission. And there are parts of this that are a delight. It is fun and fulfilling to see her growing independence and to watch her learning new skills.
Yet she is still so much my baby sometimes, too, chewing her hands to ease the pain where her final teeth are emerging, smiling up at me and calling ni-night in her sugary-sweet baby voice. Running through the house with her comical, knock kneed gallop, her blond ringlets bouncing wildly behind her. Laughing with the same glee at the hundredth repetition of peekaboo as she did at the first. Melting down and crying with sheer exhaustion when she misses her nap or is up too late, and having to be carried to bed, sobbing and hysterical over, just for example, an applesauce cup.
I think this age in childhood is perhaps the best of times and the worst of times, emotionally speaking, and it sometimes feels like the pendulum swings sharply between the two (frustration! delight! exasperation! heart-warming pride!) at least a dozen times a day. Anyone else feelin' the love?

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Short Criticism

So today I'm at Kindermusik (aka let's make the overweight moms jump around and gallop like horses and feel like total buffoons IN FRONT OF A WALL OF FULL LENGTH MIRRORS!) and there was this woman there with her granddaughter. Now, let me preface this by saying that I admire her involvement in the kid's life by taking her to the class. Now, let me go ahead and say that I think it is both destructive to a kid's psyche and irritating to everyone within earshot to barrage a clearly shy child with a steady, harassing stream of, "Now, Samantha, everyone ELSE is playing with the instruments, why don't YOU want to play? PLAY! Now Samantha, Miss Amy wants us to march in a circle! Stop hanging on me and MARCH! Samantha, look at that other little girl, she's a GOOD girl, see how she's clapping? Can't you CLAP?" And so on and so forth. All while the poor child is staring, wide eyed and overwhelmed, at the roomful of yelling, prancing children who are marching and clapping and singing and playing maracas like toddlers possessed. All while Miss Amy keeps gently reminding you, "Some children are observers. It's okay if she doesn't want to participate right now." I really wanted to take Grandma aside and say, less gently, "Back the f off! This is supposed to be fun, remember?"

Thursday, October 04, 2007

So! Many! Posts! So Little Time! (But Enough Time To Give You Pictures)

*Here is the chubberkins baby boy, who grows ever so slightly less fussy and more plump and delicious with each passing day. And of course the birthday girl, resplendent in her Toys 'R' Us Birthday Club crown!
So... I finally have a moment in which to write! True, I must simultaneously watch 30 Rock and eat leftover birthday cake- for these things, too, must be accomplished- but here I am with one child in bed, one child still asleep in his carseat, and one laptop before me, unattended!
Now, where to start? There are about five possible posts floating through my head... Shall I talk about the massive poop blowout which greeted me when I awoke, leaving a child to bathe, sheets to strip, a mattress to wipe down with Clorox, and a diaper so toxic that its disposal led to the taking out of every trash bag in the house just for good measure? Shall I talk about the soup which I managed to burn at lunch, leaving me feeling like a more capable mom only perhaps than Britney Spears? Or maybe about the giant dog which attacked Fonzie ten yards from our house on a walk which I was reluctant to embark on in the first place? How about the budget, which seems to be completely blown (by yours truly) every single week despite my best intentions? Someone tell me how twenty dollars here and thirty dollars there turns into five hundred dollars without my even noticing?
Maybe you'd like to hear about how I'm beginning this new paragraph an HOUR after completing the last one because Child Number One popped out of bed three times, needing a diaper change, more diaper rash cream (don't ask) and to give Eli another "tiss" goodnight? No? Well, then maybe you'd like to just listen to me cry for a little bit about how in the world my baby is two years old, my baby that I just a tiny second ago held for the first time, covered in slime and the most beautiful thing I ever saw?