Friday, October 21, 2011

Charlie Brown, you're fired.

Maggie must have seen or read something that freaked her out (the Great Pumpkin, or perhaps a random Halloween story at ballet class, THANK YOU Miss Alyssa), and now she refuses to be in any room other than the one i am currently occupying.
Any advice on scary story recovery for preschoolers?
And to the hypothetical old lady out there who's about to tell me to cherish it, and that soon enough she'll be hiding in her room and refusing to talk to me except to ask for the car keys? Thanks. Really. So I'll just hop in my time machine next time I need to pee.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

blogging while grumpy

seems to be one of the only times i pay any attention to this thing, eh?
but i'm going to go ahead and call this not my favorite week.
in no particular order:

- it's march. march sucks in a lot of places, but IMHO, it sucks most especially in vermont. also sucky here is april, but i'll try to cross that bridge when i come to it.
- caroline got a cold, then i got a cold, then maggie got a cold. not a quick runny nose, but one of those colds that really knocks you on your butt and seems to progress slowly and with relish throughout the entire upper respiratory system. while pointing and laughing at you and eating the last chocolate chip cookie.
- well honey, there's this special magic that happens to a woman once a month. . .
- my favorite mom friend (and her daughter, who is one of maggie's favorite kid friends) is away for two weeks. boo.
- one of the best people i've known - and that is no exaggeration, really - the pastor of my church growing up, passed away early tuesday morning.
- see above, like a thousand times.
- on the selfish side of things, i'm feeling pretty sad that we won't be able to attend the funeral, not because anyone expects us to or because our presence will make that much of a difference. i doubt there will be room to sit or even stand at this service. but i feel like respect needs to be paid to this person, because of who he was, and - on a personal level - because ben and i spent some of the formative years of our lives in the community he led. and that community is about to come together and say goodbye to him, and it sucks not to be there. though that is for me, not for him, so i need to get over that.

that's it, really. on the much brighter side, i love my kids and my husband. i am trying to enjoy each moment with them, though i can always do a better job of that. we have a play date this morning and will be leaving the house for the first time since monday morning. i'm hoping that thursday will step in and turn this week around.
and really, seriously, could it PLEASE STOP SNOWING?!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

it's not you, it's me. but it should be you.

i have realized lately that as i make choices in parenting my kids, it is important for me to make the distinction between two types of motivation: the desire to do what is best for my kids, and the desire to become the kind of mother i want to be.
you might think that the two are one and the same, but ohhh, they are not. do not be fooled.
for example: i know some stay-at-home mothers who are sanctimonious, self-righteous sticks in the mud. so, when i was pregnant with maggie, i was determined NOT to be a sanctimonious, self-righteous stick in the mud, and i thought that naturally, the way to avoid this was to go back to work. (i also wanted to avoid bad hair, a flabby gut, and dried out crumbling fingernails -- but according to my research, there DOES seem to be some correlation there. i suppose that whether or not i have become a SS-RSITM is up for debate.)
for another example: i would like to be the type of earthy, soulful mother who grows vegetables, makes everything from scratch, plays the guitar, and decorates her farmhouse with refurbished found furniture and flea market steals. i would like to can things and buy all of our food from the local CSA, even in the dead of winter. then i would like to take beautiful photographs of the whole mess and spew it all onto the internet in a brilliant orgasm of creativity, engendering envy and self-doubt in less resourceful mothers everywhere.
i am never gonna be that mother. it is just not gonna happen.
i can throw out the tv, i can make a clumsy quilt and maybe grow some beans, but at the end of the day, i am only what i am, and if i try to pretend otherwise, it's not for my kids. it's for me. and it shouldn't be aBOUT me.
maggie dresses herself every day in some bizarre combination of tights, pajamas, and a dress, and then clinches the deal with a fabric headband which she does NOT slide under her hair but instead plunks on top of it and then pushes hastily back out of her eyes, so that the front half of her hair is mashed down into her face and the back half sticks up like a bouffant. then she puts on "fancy shoes" and pronounces herself ready to leave the house. i struggle with this a little, because obviously i feel like she looks ridiculous. and not cute ridiculous, like with a tutu over leggings and a t-shirt, but riDICulous ridiculous, like 'mommy's laid up with a hangover and the three-year-old just fed herself frosted flakes and ketchup for breakfast' ridiculous. and you see? that's about me. that's about me not wanting to take her to the grocery store and have everyone wondering why i didn't brush my kid's hair.
i know that this view of my children as a reflection on me might only intensify with their age, if i let it. the grades, the college, the too big/too short/too low-cut clothes. and as time goes on, i won't even have control over what kind of mother i appear to be. picking the organic laundry detergent and scraping sleep out of their eyes with my fingernails as they run into sunday school just won't make a hell of a lot of difference if it says "hottie" across the ass of their sweatpants.
i can only do what i can do, and that will be less and less as time goes on. far better to focus not on how i want to be perceived (even by mySELF) but on what i can give them. in real life. where i am not perfect.
i just wanted to throw that out there into the universe tonight.

Monday, February 07, 2011

dear earth, you're welcome.

about a week and a half ago, i caught the gardening bug from my friend Crystal and decided to start composting again in preparation for Spring.
did you know you could compost in the winter? ridiculous! turns out you can.
so i busted out the big metal bowl again and started dumping all of my egg shells and coffee grounds and fruit and veggie scraps into it. and then i realized that i had to get it all back to the compost pile somehow.
first of all, about two months ago, a giant tree fell on the compost pile. you know, right before our power went out for four days? just after my grandmother died and we had bed bugs and right before a freak snow storm that stranded us at home for three days and then we got the stomach flu? yeah, those were good times.
anyway, moving past that. still. trying, anyway.
so the tree. then, after the tree, there was winter.
and there is winter still. two feet of snow on the ground, which doesn't actually sound that dramatic until you want to pop out the back door and run a bowl of compost to the compost pile while the kids are coloring or boxing or otherwise distracted for the 32 seconds their attention spans allow.
so there the bowl sat, orange peels molding and apple cores dehydrating, and coffee grounds clinging to the slimy insides of egg shells, the whole thing overflowing as each morning i'd look at it and say, "today i'm going to shovel a path to the compost pile!"
i said this for six or seven days, and today, the stars aligned just right. ben came home from work while there was still some daylight to burn, and maggie wanted to go outside anyway.
we bundled up. i deposited maggie at her snow slide -- an actual slide with STAIRS that ben carved out of the giant pile of plowed snow next to our house. yeah, ben's awesome. then i strapped on some snowshoes and, armed with a snow shovel for the back deck, started making a path.
now, i don't know how often you guys use snowshoes, but they can be a bit tricky. at least, for me. because i'm not a winter sports sort of person, or even a walks-without-bumping-into-things sort of person. packing down the path through the yard wasn't too difficult, especially since i had my shovel to use as a sort of makeshift pole. i am sure i looked awesome. thankfully it was the paparazzi's day off in vermont.
after lurching and stumbling over to the back deck, i dragged my snowshoe shod feet up the stairs (which have no railing, btw), shoveling as i went and trying not to step on one snow shoe with the other. which is difficult. the MORE difficult thing being, of course, that a snow shoe is entirely too long to fit on a stair, so i had to sort of lean really far forward and prop myself up with the shovel as i went. i somehow made it to the top without face planting and shoveled a path over to the back door, where ben was waiting with my bowl o' goo. after a brief tussle with the ice that had jammed up the back slider, he managed to open it just wide enough to pass the bowl to me.
and then, i had to go back DOWN the stairs wearing snowshoes. . .and carrying a bowl of fragrantly rotting food.
ohhhhcrapohcrapohcrap please don't let me fall and spill a bowl of slimy produce all over my own head.
all right, i'll stop the drama now. i made it. i had to turn myself sideways and lean waaaay backward as i went down the stairs, and there was one near miss when i slid a little on my own path and got the toe of my snowshoe caught under - um, some snow - and almost fell down, but - the deed is done. dumped on top of the vast expanse of frozen backyard wilderness, just to the right of that poor fallen tree, is a tiny pile of kitchen scraps which may or may not be eaten by a squirrel or coyote overnight. i feel ridiculously responsible.
see, if i lived in california or something, i'd have to, i don't know - adopt an orphan or plant twenty trees to achieve this sense of satisfaction. this must be why vermonters are all so smug. just taking out the trash makes you a superhero.

Friday, February 04, 2011

the tv is still not here.

i'm having one of those mornings. every time maggie says, "Mom?" (which is like 45 times an hour - and that's only a slight exaggeration), i'm like, "ARRRRGGHHHH who are you and why are you calling me Mom?!" the fifth straight day alone with kids is a hard one. thank goodness for playgroup.
the TV report: ben, who has the advantage of a more objective view of the kids, says that he sees a big difference in their behavior and ability to amuse themselves. awesome. call me when they can make their own beds and pour themselves a bowl of cereal.
grump grump grump.
i think he's right though - i think there's been a change, and most of the time i'm happy about it. like when i'm awake and have had enough coffee.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

i've always had a fine sense of timing

so i promised to keep you updated on life without tv, and i will not disappoint you.
genius that i am, i chose to chuck the boob tube just before:

1. a serious cold snap. the HIGHS were below zero for the past several days, and while my kids are pretty weather-resistant, i don't take them outside to play if it's below 10 degrees.
2. a full, below-zero monday stuck at home, because the car was getting its windshield replaced. yeah, the other car. seems we're rough on our windshields here.
3. an attack of the stomach flu on our household. yay!

other than thaaaaat. . .it's been good. no, really. if you'll recall, we said goodbye to the tv late friday morning, so i'm not counting friday at all. (it sucked, if you're curious. ben came home early because he was sick, and we spent the early evening trying to rearrange the family room so that our couches weren't pointed at a big blank spot on the wall. this wouldn't have been such a big deal except that everyone's nerves were frayed, and the girls kept running in and out and knocking over teetering piles of books and getting themselves tangled up in the vacuum cleaner cord. often in such a situation, we might have chosen to corral them with. . .the tv.) saturday and sunday (which were much more pleasant) don't count either, because we almost never watch tv on the weekends. so monday was the true test, and it was great.
it really is remarkable how much i was relying on that stupid machine. when ben walked out the door monday morning, i felt NERVOUS. like first-time-home-alone-with-the-baby nervous. as though the tv were the third parent in our household, and it had left me. alone. holding the bag. what was i going to do with these children all day?! (also, remember, no car. and it's -1 outside.)
but as the day went on, i realized how much easier it was to parent if i just KEPT my parenting head on all day, rather than putting the girls in front of the tv and trying to switch into e-mail or cooking or writing mode and then frantically bring myself back when one of them yelled, "Mo-ooooom! she's turing the tee-veeeeeee oooooffff!" not only was the tv bad for them, apparently it was bad for me, and i wasn't even watching it.
so i just - imagine it - hung out with them all day. we read and colored. they "helped" me clean my bedroom. it's much easier to clean with kids hanging around than it is to try to do something quiet, like waste time on the internet. so a side benefit of this plan may just be cleaner toilets. it took us several tries, with breaks for snack and the bathroom and other tomfoolery, but eventually i got that done, and then we hauled out the ol' rice table, and the girls made a gigantic mess all over the kitchen floor. after i got THAT cleaned up, i let them finger paint naked in the bathtub. another gigantic mess. but that's ok, because they were entertained, and they were getting along really well. except for this one incident when maggie decided to paint caroline, but we cleared that up quickly.
i am letting maggie watch about 40 minutes of online movies each day, 20 minutes at a time - one show that i watch with her in the morning while caroline naps, and then one that i let caroline watch with her in the early evening. usually it's shaun the sheep, because somehow that seems less flashy and ADD inducing than a cartoon.
but today, i am faced with a new challenge.
dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn. . .the stomach bug.
more specifically, ben's stomach bug.
monday night after dinner, he started feeling sick. he went to work as usual tuesday morning, but he came home at about 11:30 and has been in or near the bed ever since. and then this morning, maggie woke up at the usual time - and barfed all over her bed. i really wish this hadn't happened, because it sucks for her, but also because i had grand plans to go to the library this morning -- for the obvious, kid-related reasons but also because they called me last night to tell me that it's my turn to read Room (not sure if i'm excited or nervous about this), so i was going to pick that up while i was there. maggie seems TOOOOtally fine and has not thrown up again since this morning, but i still feel super guilty about taking them to the library and letting her touch a bunch of books and puppets and whatnot and spread her germs to innocent little library-goers. but oh my goodness, it is really hard to keep these kids out of ben's hair today. you know. without the tv.
but for now, they are napping. so i think i'll try to shake off some stress with old episodes of the office. online.

Friday, January 21, 2011

now, what to do with all that extra wall?

maggie has developed an unfortunate tendency to spend her days doing absolutely nothing. she haunts the kitchen, weaves her way in and out of my path and tangles up my feet, babbles senselessly to no one in particular and just generally makes a pest of herself all. day. long.
aside from the fact that this is - hmm, how to put this delicately - MADDENING, it's also a little worrying. has my child no curiosity? no interest in her environment?
should i have sent her to preschool sooner? bought her more engaging toys at Christmas?

or perhaps i shouldn't be letting her watch three or four hours of television a day?
oh. yes. maybe that's the trouble.

ok, don't freak out. it's not actually that much television. at least i don't think it is. i'm trying not to count up the hours. and some days it's no tv at all. but either way. . .it can't be helping, right? and meanwhile, caroline has started barreling into the family room every morning, sashaying her little diapered bum over to the screen and demanding, "i want tv!"
oh, heaven help me. i'm not about to end up with another catatonic child drifting aimlessly through the house for the next four years. we must nip this in the bud, yes? YES?!
help me out here, people.
so this morning, as i looked around the house, it occurred to me that the solution was really quite simple. the tv must die.
and 20 minutes, several dustballs, a netflix movie i'd given up for lost, and a very old piece of kix cereal later, we were a no-tv family.
("ooh! a kick!. . .i ate it." said maggie before i could even look up from the mass of wires i was attempting to untangle. man, i am a parenting GENUIS!)
i'm a little scared.
i'll let you know how it goes.