Updated weekly. Usually on Tuesdays. Unless some small person eats my blog post.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Parenthood's a Punk

A few weeks ago, I began feeling like I really had this two kid thing down. Routines were going nicely, Ladybug was being extremely well-behaved, StrawBee was sleeping longer, and Dear Boy and I had more time for each other than we had had in a while. I began thinking, "Man, this isn't nearly as hard as I would've thought." I'd also been reading MckMama's blog and telling myself, "Hey, maybe I could do that. Many small children all in a row would be fun!" I was surprised and impressed with my ability to handle my small brood, and just generally cheerfully pleased with my life.

Parenthood, however, is a punk.

Within a few days, all of my smug self-satisfaction lay in pieces around my feet. Ladybug had shown a sudden penchant for picking on her sister and pitching screaming fits 10 times a day. StrawBee caught a nasty cold and wasn't (still isn't) sleeping at night. Dear Boy tried to help me with the suddenly out-of-control kiddies and fell behind at school, forcing him to turn all of our "us" time into "DB and studying" time.

I exerienced a 180 in my attitude towards my children and the possibility of more. (More?! Are you kidding?! I'm ready to sell these ones to the highest bidder!) I looked in the mirror and realized that for the first time since LadyBug had been born, I was happy with my non-pregnant body (I always love my pregnant body--post-partum not so much; an attitude I'm working on) and thinking maybe I don't really want to stretch it out again.

Fascinating, isn't it, how just a few days can completely change one's outlook? Fortunately I've learned not to take any outlook changes that occur on less than 4 hours of sleep seriously. While frustrated, out-of-sorts, and exhausted, I keep telling myself that just as the calm couldn't last forever, neither can the craziness.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Brag and Blog Friday!

And it's here again! Your chance to talk about what you (or your loved ones... or your enemies, I suppose, for that matter) have been up to that's absolutely amazing. Let me know what you've been up to, or leave a link to your blog post discussing the same thing!

My brag this week is on a dear friend of mine whose current moniker is The Half-Mad Housewife (that's H. H. for short). She's started a new blog this week and though she hasn't gotten any full posts up yet, I am VERY excited. Her dry sense of humor and clever insights are exactly the kind of thing I want to read in a blog. Check out her blog here!

Way to go, H. H. And tell T. N. O. that I'm so glad he managed to think of such a clever nickname for himself. =)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


...with my husband.

Dear Boy and I have a game going. The objective: To see who can render the other completely speechless. The rules: Making the other speechless with anger doesn't count.

Darn. And that was my specialty. (Just kidding, really. DB doesn't get angry. And no, I'm not kidding about that.)

I was winning, and doing a fine job of it, too. Being of a literary bent, shocking one-liners tend to come to me a little more easily. DB gets some good ones, but only if I shut my mouth long enough for them to come out. And since I usually suffer from diarrhea of the mouth (i.e. I cannot hold my tongue to save my life), this doesn't often happen.

Yesterday, however, he won a great victory. In the midst of our regular banter, I asked him jokingly if he needed to go take a cold shower. He just laughed and didn't have an answer (score for me!), then wandered off.

"Hey, where're you going?" I called after him. He didn't answer. So, being the curious girl I am, I followed him.

Only to find him standing in the shower. Sopping wet. Completely clothed. And freezing.

I think I snorted because he looked at me, his eyes innocently wide, started to step out of the shower, inquiring kindly, "Would you like a nice, cold hug?"

I completely lost it and laughed for 5 minutes without stopping (while running from his nice cold hug, I might add). I'm still giggling now.

He won that round, but he better watch out. The stakes are getting higher and I smell some (harmless) pranks in his future if I can't re-secure my lead. Any suggestions are welcome, bwa ha ha...

...with pregnancy.

No, this isn't an announcement (sorry, Mom!). Just slightly philosophical drivel.

I took a pregnancy test this morning, for myriad reasons. We weren't looking for a positive right at the moment. Frankly, with the two kids, the new house, the missionaries moving in, Devin's school, and my attempts at business, we've got our hands full enough!

So why, then, was I disappointed not to get that positive? Because I thought I would? Because we've had problems getting those positives in the past? Because I'm insane?

Probably in the morning, when I'm weighing myself again, I'll be grateful. At the moment, I just want to curl up and... blog.

...with disaster.

Ladybug has been a real challenge the last ten days. It's like she realized, all at once, that StrawBee really isn't going to go away. Suddenly, she's been hitting, pushing, and generally tormenting her sister as well as screaming, kicking, pouting, and generally tormenting her parents. In desperation, we've instituted The Stamp Book. Ladybug can earn up to three stamps a day through good behavior. If she earns three stamps by the end of dinner, she can have a cupcake.

Since this new system seemed to be going reasonably well, I chose to take her with me to Walmart this morning to buy ice cream, cookies, hot cocoa, and candy for my latest church and family projects (happy wedding cake, David!). Obviously a dangerous plan. Despite all temptations, however, Ladybug did amazingly well at the store and earned herself her first stamp for the day!

It wasn't until we got to Nana's house to drop off a few things that it went downhill.

First of all, I had to use the lady's room (remember the pregnancy test?). I decided to lock her out because, on occasion, I have a sudden urge for privacy. She took serious offense at such a thing and immediately stormed into Nana's room to pull out all the wrapping paper she could find and walk all over it.

You can imagine I wasn't too happy with her when I found out what she'd been up to. I told her (in a fairly reasonable way, I thought) that this was unacceptable and she needed to leave Nana's room. She did, and I re-rolled the wrapping paper.

This completed, I tried to find her. It took me a couple minutes. She had closed herself in my mom's office closet and was trying to scale the shelves to get at the treat jar. When she saw me standing there, she stared at the ground and refused to move. I told her absolutely no more sweets (being slightly less reasonable, I admit) and moved her myself.

She didn't want to come with me to the car (no surprise there, I guess), but did follow me to the living room. So I went out to move the car into the garage, leaving her happily pulling a bunch of toys out.

When I returned, she had closed herself in that closet again.

When she saw me, she bolted. I followed her at a leisurely pace, as I found my patience was wearing thin (have mercy; this all happened in about 5 minutes). When I came out to the garage, it was to find that she had not only beaten me to the car, but had climbed into the driver's seat and was trying to put on the seat belt. We've been telling her for a long time she can't get into the front seat because "everyone needs their own seat and their own seat belt." Apparently she thought this meant that if she put her seat belt on, she was good to drive.

If it hadn't terrified me, I would've laughed.

Instead, I hauled her bodily out of the seat, placed her in her car seat, buckled her in, and got myself in, all while scolding her in one looooooong breath.

The drama continued through lunch, but DB was there to spell me. And, actually, when it was naptime she went down like an angel.


There has got to be a better way to handle these situations. But until I figure out what it is, I'm just going to repeat my mantra: You're going to miss this.

Really. I will.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Brag and Blog Friday!

Ah... Another week, another brag!

Today's brag is actually one myself: For two weeks straight, I have managed to go to bed every night (okay, minus one) with the house clean. All the floors picked up. Dishes rinsed or the washer. Clothes not laid all over the foot of my bed.

I am so proud.

Dear Boy has done his share too, I would like to note. However, since I'm the one who compulsively insists on having the house clean I figure it's only fair I straighten up before bed.

Next goal: Learn not to mind the mess during the day.

What do you have to brag about this week, for yourself or someone else? Post a comment telling me about it, or share a link to your blog. Happy bragging!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I lost my phone number. Can I have yours?

So you're sitting in your local bookstore, having a lovely, solitary evening of books and hot cocoa. A tall, youngish, good-looking man passes your cozy armchair, and you feel him walk behind you more than see it. You try to look around discreetly, hoping to catch a better glimpse, only to meet his eyes. Just for a second, though, because suddenly your hot cocoa needs a lot of attention. You know, to keep it from getting lonely while you make eyes at the handsome stranger. Which you're no longer doing, by the way. Because the cocoa is lonely.


Tipped off by the warmth shivering its way up your spine, however, you realize he's come back in your direction. For a second, your heart heads right up into your throat. Will he really...? No, no. False alarm. Just reaching for a book. One that happens to be right. next. to. you.

He fingers the book for a moment, hesitates, glances down at you with those devastating eyes. Clears his throat. Looks back at the book. Come on, come on already! Is he going to speak or not?

He opens his mouth. He really is going to talk. Your mind races, preparing for every conceivable comment he might make and coming up with witty, sparkling answer that will immediately captivate and hold him. What is he going to say...?!

...Well, what does he say at that point? My daydreams as a teenager always stuttered for a moment at this juncture. I didn't know any particularly suave men (heck, I didn't know any men, besides teachers and relatives; just lots of boys). My dad and my brothers certainly wouldn't use their best lines on me. So what did that leave me with?

Pick-up lines. You know, the kind people joke about: "Hey, heaven sure must miss you, you're such an angel!" "Sorry, had to stare. The stars are in your eyes." "I'm lost. Can I follow you home?"

...Okay, I was able to provide a few slightly better than these. Honestly, though, not by much.

The result of these endless, pathetically romantic daydreams is quite amusing. I'm 25 years old, married, have two children, and ... I love pick-up lines. And I don't mean just as an amusing diversion (hey, let's see how many bad pick-up lines we can get my younger brother to use!). I actually blush and get all fluttery inside when Dear Boy uses one on me.

Example: The other night Dear Boy and I had an exchange like this--
Dear Boy: "Wow, are you out of your mind?"
Me: ...
Dear Boy: ...? *Uncertain smile*
Me: ...Um... no... I don't think so. Why?
Dear Boy: *Confident grin* Because you've been wandering around my mind all day.
Me: *Blush*
Dear Boy: *Wink*
Leaving me no longer able to make eye contact because I was completely flustered, flattered, and still blushing. Funny thing is, for the longest time, Dear Boy refused to say these things because he thought I was kidding and all pick-up lines are lame.

However, he's finally learned the truth: His wife is a pathetic, sappy, melting-for-a-bad-line homeless romantic. One can only hope that he never uses his awesome power for evil. He's already talked me into eating whole-grain bread and actually changing the oil in the car every 3,000 miles. Next thing you know, he'll use one of his pickup lines and I'll be going to bed at a sensible time.

Wonders will never cease, and neither will this marriage. Thank goodness.

Ah, a new day--a new blog.

Welcome to my new blog. Really, it's not all that different except it looks a little prettier. I decided that while Wordpress is an excellent sitefor those solely interested in words, I wanted to be able to pictures to names a little more easily. So here I am!

I did want to note that, eventually, I'll have my Twitter linked to this page too. For some reason, though, whenever I try and set it up right now it's displaying someone else's tweets. So it's currently disabled, but it'll come up sometime. I also wanted anyone who saw those pretty foul-mouthed tweets to know that's not really how I talk!

Please note that the links at the top of the page don't currently work. They will eventually, I promise.

So I'm off to start moving old posts over, just because I can. Have a lovely evening.

And stay tuned for more!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Milestones or Millstones?

When Ladybug was a baby, I always said smugly, "Oh, I don't pay much attention to the milestones thing. They're just averages, anyway," before I proceeded to explain how far ahead of the curve she was. She was (yes, I'm going to repeat it all now) holding her head up at two weeks, rolling both ways at 3-1/2 months, crawling at 6-1/2 months, took her first steps at 8-1/2 months (for such a perfectionist, she sure has a thing for fractions, huh?), etc etc. I still get weekly updates for "Your Child's Development, Week XXX." I used to marvel at how far ahead of the game Ladybug was in almost all physical ways (...oh, okay. I still do.).

StrawBee, being premature, has been extremely different. When she was about 2 weeks old, I suddenly realized that she was still acting like a newborn. No, scratch that: She wasn't even as far progressed as many newborns. Her little lower jaw was still developing enough muscle to suckle at the breast, and any attempt at head-holding-up was nonexistent. Soon I became quite concerned. Those weekly emails for "Your Child's Development" kept right on coming, and Miss StrawBee was not moving on nearly as quickly as Baby Center's updates were.

I talked to other mothers of premature infants and was assured that she had until she was two years old to catch up. I was relieved to know it, but still a little worried that it would make more sense to intervene sooner than later---I thought it might be nice to help her get with her age group right from the get-go, instead of waiting until it could be categorized as a "problem." Fortunately, I had the blessing of mentioning this concern to someone who could help and StrawBee was soon (and still is) receiving monthly visits from her wonderful occupational therapist.

StawBee still is not as physically advanced as Ladybug was at her age. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, I still find myself taking everything StrawBee does in comparison to others in her age group. I stopped visiting the birth forum for May 2009 because I found myself casting too many worried glances at my happy, growing, learning child. I have to remind myself not to think "Oh, but Ladybug was doing that at .... "

Unlike last time, I'm not the mom with the baby that's setting the curve. I'm the one with the baby who--with courage and gusto, I might add--is trying to catch up and only just making it.

Fortunately, I've already learned (the hard way, of course) to have confidence in the differences. StrawBee will find her own creative solutions, and already has. Ladybug crawled early, true; however, she never learned to scoot. StrawBee has the cutest inch-worm method of moving that has ever existed on the earth (in my professional and---ahem---unbiased opinion, of course). Still, the experience makes me rethink the whole "milestones" thing.

These thoughts came into particular focus a few days ago while visiting my parents. I was repeating some marveled accomplishments to my mother, both of StrawBee's and those of another adorable baby of my acquaintance. This baby has managed to do some things much more quickly than even Ladybug did (go baby, go!) and I was sharing some of my daughters' milestones to illustrate the difference. Suddenly, my dad jumped in with, "Which means that Jane Doe Baby is way smarter than your kids, right?"

I looked at him for a moment, utterly nonplussed, before replying, "Of course not, dad!"

He looked right back and me and said, "Well, that's the way you women make it sound."

It's so true.

Any man who has ever said women aren't as competitive as men has yet to open a thread titled "Milestones" on a birth forum. It's like the Superbowl of "My dog's bigger than your dog." The posters are usually terribly polite about it, true. But everyone (and I'll admittedly include myself) gets a little chin-in-the-air lift from posting what their baby did sooner than someone else's---and how far ahead it was of the milestone---and feels a little stomped on when another baby's done it sooner.

Not that I'm accusing anyone of entering those threads with those intentions. We just seem to gravitate toward these comparisons (Johnny Lingo, anyone?).

And not that I'm trying to single out women. I just haven't sat in on any all-men conversations lately. Or ever.

Anyway, back to the milestones. Obviously it's good to have some general information of where your child should be. I do think we saved StrawBee a lot of extra work by having an occupational therapist teach us a few simple exercises (besides, if not for the OT at the hospital, we would have had major feeding problems and probably not been able to take her home as soon as we did). The thing is that parents tend to forget: the milestones aren't hard and fast rules. They're more like ... guidelines.

Crawling (the up-on-all-fours type), for example, is said to appear between 7 and 9 months. My guess is, a doctor (who is very aware of the milestones, I imagine) probably won't get concerned until the child is approaching month 10 or 11 without any sign of crawling. A parent, on the other hand, will start saying things to friends to excuse the delay sometime around 7 months, 1 week. "He's such a cute chunk, it's hard for him to crawl." "She was such a peanut when she was born, she's just waiting to grow a bit." "All kids have their own milestones."

Yes, they do. So why do we have to keep reassuring ourselves (and everyone else we run into) that our child is, in fact, going to crawl any day now, as well as write their first symphony because, of course, little John Doe has such an innate musical talent that he's too busy pounding out a rhythm on the wall to worry about crawling.

I wonder sometimes if this obsession with milestones (or development/education, as it morphs into as the children get older) pushes us to push our kids. Is it really imperative that a toddler know the alphabet, how to count to ten in three languages, and is capable of doing a crab walk? ...Not really. Is it bad for them to be able to do these things? ...Probably not, especially if they were willing to learn it in the first place.

I just remember how surprised I was, in my short stint in the school system as a teacher-in-training, seeing the kids looking burnt out and disinterested a lot younger than I remember. I can't help but wonder that if by pushing them beyond their happy imaginary play and musical sessions with pots and pans, we're actually shortening their interest in an academic career rather than jumpstarting it. That's all.

Another concern is that parents all over are doubting their capabilities as parents when their children pass that five month mark without sitting up propped. I just wonder when our children's accomplishments, rather than their character, became the laurel of an excellent parent.

Maybe the problem is with calling them milestones. It sounds so definitive and deadline-like. Maybe if we called them mileguidelines. Or milegeneralities. Or milemarshmellows.

That last one makes me feel particularly warm and fuzzy inside. My child has a great, big, 3-month-sized milemarshmellow to scootch herself into that wonderful crawling stage. Then I can enjoy that crawling stage for a long, lovely time because the walking milemarshmellow is even bigger than the crawling one.

Children should be challenged and taught. Moreover, we do need a general idea of what is "normal" to help them reach their full potential. But it's a lot easier to enjoy the sunrise when you sit back and watch it, instead of comparing it to every other sunrise in the history of the world.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.Creative Commons License
This work by Carolynn Dyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.