For Now

7 07 2009

As I sit, I am lounging on the couch, my legs resting uncomfortably on Jeff (who is playing a video game where I think all you do is run around and knock down buildings with a sledge hammer, how clever), while I upload the hundreds of pictures from our week on Chebeague Island, Maine. It was a much-needed break, although really not much of a break at all, since certain people still required that I wipe, feed, discipline, clean and entertain them. That, combined with the stress of traveling 12 hours by car, figuring out the logistics of ferrying 5 adults and 3 children plus suitcases, food and baby gear approximately 10 miles across Casco Bay and oh my, where do we park our cars??, the gloomy, cold weather that finally gave way to sun and warmth THE DAY BEFORE WE LEFT, and well, clearly it was more like a relaxing spa retreat than anything. CLEARLY.

I guess I forgot to mention in the zero times I’ve posted in the last two months that we’d be going away. Life got busy. So uh, I blame Life. At the end of May, Jeff and I celebrated 5 years of wedded bliss by taking the boys to their favorite restaurant for dinner. I took the boys up to Erie again the first week of June, where we had many small family gatherings to celebrate Ethan’s 4th birthday. The next two weeks were spent going to doctor’s appointments (Ethan has shot up from the 10th to the 50th percentile for both his height and weight, has his Daddy’s artistic gift and the attitude of 13-year-old; Oliver is plump and healthy, and impressing everyone he meets with his vast vocabulary and counting skillz), working overtime in my transcription course in order to get ahead and take a week off, and getting ready for our vacation.

The weekend before we left, my mom drove down from Erie and watched the boys for us so that Jeff and I could go out and celebrate our 5 years in a more official way, ie, at a place with cloth napkins and no mascot. He took me here, which I must say is a tad fancier than the Robin. The food was AMAZING, and I got to get all dressed up, and eat without yelling at anyone. It was cool. We stayed in a fancy hotel in DC and the next day we walked around downtown in the gorgeous sunny weather, got lunch, and then finally became the last 2 people on Earth to see Star Trek. Oh, and my mom rocks for watching our little hooligans for us.

If things stay this way, I’m not sure how much time I’ll be willing to put into this here blog. Honestly, even if they slow down a bit, I still don’t know how often I’ll be blogging. The whole week we were on the island, I did not have Internet access, and while it was a little odd the first day or two, I found that I was not missing it by the end of the week (with the exception of reading your blogs and tweets, of course; that was the hardest part). It was nice, though. Refreshing. I went a whole week not hearing the latest on the status of Jon and Kate’s marriage and CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, I did not perish! Amazing.

We are trying to return to normal life around here. Jeff’s leave doesn’t end for another day, so our vacation technically isn’t over yet. I think we’ll try to head over to the pool on post tomorrow. Jeff will celebrate his return to work on Thursday with (surprise, surprise) another trip. Hopefully a short one. And I will make it my goal not to open my laptop until after noon. I’ve got beachy pictures to develop, and lots of shell-related crafts to do with Ethan. I think blogging can wait, for now.


Sweep and squish

26 05 2009

A little birdie mentioned to someone she knew that she’d read an amusing post on my blog. The one in which I spent HOURS frozen in fear trying to work up the courage to take care of bludgeon to death a spider the size of a tricycle. The “someone” happened to be a PR person for Swiffer, and after reading about my bug-bludgeoning alternative use for my wet/dry mop, she very graciously sent me a new one.

Now, I have two Swiffers: one for cleaning my floors, and one for obliterating bugs while my husband is away. How happy am I? Thank you, Amy!

I have labeled them accordingly, and in a bug emergency a few days ago, I was able to grab the appropriate Swiffer and take care of business.

A few days ago I was Swiffering our FOREVER littered-with-dust-bunnies wood floors, when Oliver spotted me. He is IN LOVE with the Swiffer and he immediately took over. I don’t know what it is about little kids and cleaning, but WHATEV. Go for it, I said. He swiffered away for a good 10 minutes before his older brother (who’d been hypnotized by Curious George and was blessedly quiet and motionless) (seriously, that monkey is my saving grace every day at 4pm, when he gives me the gift of 30 quiet minutes to rest my voice and my ears) spotted him. And then war broke out.

One Swiffer? Two boys? What ever could be done?


I grabbed the bug-killing Swiffer and slapped a dry mop sheet on it, covering up the guts. (The amount of guts is almost zilch, since I’ve only used it once so far, for a little bitty thing.) And then I sat down with a cup of coffee and watched my children do the housework for me for the next 20 minutes. Finally I had to get them in the bath and I actually had to- I’m not joking- pry the Swiffers out of their dirty little hands. Oliver even busted out the tears over his.

I promised him he could clean again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

Having two Swiffers is an unexpected awesome. Although I may need to purchase a third, so each boy can have his own while keeping the gutty one relegated to bug killing. Maybe- if Ethan’s lucky- I’ll get him one for his birthday next month. Maybe.

Note: Amy of Swiffer did not ask me to post about my Swiffer; no one did. I did so of my own free will and because my children (and I) have serious, inappropriate love for ours.

Down the Drain

22 05 2009

2 years.

That’s how long we’ve been potty training our almost-4-year-old.

And we are still at it.

It’s harder for boys to catch on, right? That’s what They say, anyway. And so I repeat this to myself. Often. It helps keep the crazy away.

We started when he was 2, and after a few days to weeks, he got the pee training down. The poop? Not even a little bit. But that’s okay, we told ourselves; he’ll get it. We were pregnant with our second son, and Ethan’s pediatrician (as well as many other advice-givers) told me to prepare myself for any progress we’d made, by the time of baby #2’s arrival, to go right (and at this point she chuckled) “down the drain. Pun completely intended.”

And indeed, down the drain it went. But he got back on track (that is, returned to peeing in the potty 95% of the time) after a few weeks. But poop? Still not even a little bit. I’ve tried rewards. We use a chart. (A FUN chart with STICKERS.) We have a “poop bell,” only to be rung on those #2 occasions. We sing and dance and clap and praise him whenever he DOES go. He knows that he has missed out on some pretty cool Big Boy Stuff due to the fact that he’s not potty trained. But it remains: He will not go poop in the potty unless I sit him down on it and leave him there for what feels, to both of us, like forever. He refuses to tell me when he needs to go, and has said goodbye to many a pair of ruined Spidey undies because of this.

And another thing that They say? To keep on keeping on, because all of a sudden, one day, almost overnight it will seem… he’ll get it. But this has been going on for NEARLY 730 NIGHTS! When, oh when, will that special night come?

And then there’s my other kid, who at 17-months has already had one successful potty experience, and looooves to inform me when he’s pooping. Even pulls words like “sit” and “potty” and “push” and “poop” out of his vocabulary for such occasions. Every kid is different, FO SHO.

There have been many, many, way too many negative potty experiences in this house. I try to always be kind and calm and soothing, but I’m not perfect. Trying to extract a pair of pooped-in underpants from someone’s tiny legs without also spraying shrapnel all over the bathroom doesn’t exactly bring out the Parenting Best in me. Which is to say nothing of doing it for the 400th time. Or doing it in a public restroom. Or doing it for the 6th time in one day. GAH.

But… someday, right? Someday we’ll look back at this time, and… well, no, I won’t laugh. But I WILL sigh a big sigh of relief and maybe have another drink. Until that day, I will remember the time, a few months ago, when Ethan and I were walking through the mall; he, merrily skipping along, I, dragging and tired and just wanting to get a few things at Target and get home. All of a sudden my merry skipper wasn’t at my side anymore. I turned and looked; he’d just slowed down a bit. That’s all. Still skipping, just not quite so merrily. As I turned my head to face forward again, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. Something dark, could have been a small rock. My first thought was, Oh no, don’t trip! I thought it was a rock, and envisioned him skipping on it, losing his balance and falling. But… hm. No… not a rock. I stopped walking, and turned to him.

“What’s that?” I questioned.

“Um… what?”

“That… right there. Was that on the ground, or…”

“What are you talking about, Mommy?”

<light bulb> “Ohhhhh, no… Ethan, what is that? Is it… Is that… Ethan, did you poop?”

“No! I didn’t poop!” <kneels down to inspect “rock”> Um, I think it’s some chocolate.”

<heaves big sigh> “Ethan, did you go poop? Just tell me, okay? We’ll go find a bathroom, and get you cleaned up, and…”


“Okaaay. Well, do you see this poop right here? Do you know how it got here? IT FELL OUT OF YOUR UNDERPANTS AND YOU SKIPPED IT OUT YOUR PANTLEG AND ONTO THE GROUND.”

“… Huh.”

<Thinking I should give him one last chance to come clean> “Ethan, if I check in your underpants, will I see poop?”

“No, Mommy. You won’t. I didn’t poop.”

<Checks underpants>

“So then how did this poop get in here, then?”

“Uh… I don’t know… maybe a cat put it in there?”

Yes, someday, when he is older and these frustrating times are vague memories, all I’ll remember is the invisible, mischievous poo-gifting cat.

If only.

This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by the Pull-Ups brand, who’ve just launched The Potty Project, which you better BELIEVE I am all over! Real-life families who are in the throes of potty training. Good stuff.

Interview with an Ethan

19 05 2009

I saw this over on All & Sundry and I just had to conduct my own with Ethan. I asked him if I could ask him some questions and he was all “Sure!” and “This’ll be fun!” but 2 questions in and I found myself bribing him with frozen waffles to get the rest out of him. But whatever, it worked. I was entertained by his answers, as I usually am, by whatever he says. Before I had kids, I wondered how I’d fake laugh at all the “funny” (read: “dumb”) things they say. I wondered how my own mom did it. But lo! It turns out that when it’s your kid saying the “funny” stuff, you (often) find it actually funny. That, or you’ve lowered your standards. Probably both.

Anyway, here’s Ethan’s first official interview, at age 3 years, 11 months (I say “first” because it is only a matter of time before the world’s first future President/astronaut/rock star/mailman/garbage man/pony man (no IDEA what that is… but it’s intriguing, no?) shows up on Larry King Live):

What is something I always say to you? “Toys?” “I say that to you?” “Yeah… ” “Really?” “Yeah, you say ‘Ethan, you wanna get a toy?'” (My guess is he was trying some reverse psychology here. Clever… but it didn’t work.)

What makes me happy? “Pooping in the potty!”

What makes me sad?
“I don’t know.”

How do I make you laugh? “Funny things, like when I put underpants on my head.” (This is very true.)

What do you think I was like as a child? “You liked baseball.” (I did not.) (I still do not, for the record.)

How old am I? “Five.”

How tall am I? “Tall tall!” <points to ceiling>

What do I do when you’re not around? “Play games with Daddy, and sneak through my room to check on me.”

If I become famous, what will it be for? “BARACK OBAMA! Barack Obama says noooooooooo.”

What am I really good at? “I’m good at baseball!” “Yes, you are, but what is Mommy good at?” “I don’t know.”

What am I not really good at? “I don’t wanna answer that one.” <1 hour later, comes back> “I wanna answer that question now….” “Ok, what’s your answer? What am I not good at?” “Getting pants.” (?)

What is my job? “I don’t know that either.” “Well what do I do all day?” “Play games. Pirate games. And… that’s all.” (In his dreams, maybe.)

What is my favorite food? “Apples? And waffles.”

What makes you proud of me? “Nothing!” (Ouch, kid.)

What makes me proud of you? “Pooping in the potty.”

What do you and I do together? “Crafts! And… eat.” “Anything else?” “No, that’s the end.”

How are we the same? “We both have green!”

How are you and I different? “I’m a boy and I have toys, and you’re a girl and you have girl stuff. Like, makeup. And no toys.”

How do you know that I love you? “Hearts.”

What is one thing you wish you could change about me? “Oliver.” “What do you mean??” “You can change his diaper.”

What do you wish you could go and do with me? “Be astronauts. And Army men. I’ll be the green ones. This is me, see, this one here. And this one is Mommy, and they need to go get ready… <5 minutes of strategic Army talk passes> Can I get the waffles out now?”


Conclusion: To Ethan, I am a tall, tall 5-year-old who is easily manipulatable and does nothing but play pirate games and buy him toys. While pants-less.


I had fun doing this. Ethan didn’t, as evidenced by his fidgetyness and request for waffles every 2 seconds, which I omitted from the interview, you’re welcome. He did have fun wolfing those suckers down, though. I plan to ask him these questions again in 6 months to a year or so, to see if anything other than the item with which I must bribe him with changes. (I’m thinking that 4-year-old is to waffles as 4.5-year-old is to tickets to Sesame Street Live! or Vegas or some such, but my knowledge of children of that age range is limited, so I could be wrong. Time will tell!)

Not me!

18 05 2009


Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

•I did not voluntarily buy and then subsequently (as in, less than a day later) HIDE the light saber I bought for Ethan. I did not hide this toy over 4 days ago. It does not still remain in hiding, as I type. He will not EVER get it back. Related: What was I thinking?!?

•I did not suggest to Jeff that should we ever have a third baby, we should all take on fake British accents until the baby turns 3 or 4. That way he or she would grow up with a “real” British accent. And then, hey, what if one day we all just stopped using ours? The baby would be all, What the…? and we’d be all, Ha, GOTCHA! Jeff did not think this was funny. I, of course, didn’t either, because I would never propose playing such a cruel joke on a baby. Never.

•I did not get sucked into this Jon & Kate Plus 8 mess. I did not visit Us Weekly, TMZ and other very trusty news sites more times than is necessary (certainly not multiple times daily) just to see if there was any new breaking! news! Uh uh. I don’t care about celebrity gossip that much. C’mon.

•I DID find myself gushing over tiny, brand new little babies at least 3 times this week. I 100% ABSOLUTELY DID NOT wish for more of my own. I do not care how good they smell, I do not want to be pregnant again! (yet.)

My boys: my best view

15 05 2009

90% of the time, my day starts with the cries of a 17-month-old who needs his poopy diaper changed. 50% of the time, his cries wake his 4-year-old brother, who, if I don’t drag myself out of bed quick enough, will get himself into a similar situation of mess.

This is followed by the Potty Battle, which we engage in multiple times a day. (I rarely win these fights.) Shortly thereafter begins the whining because someone inevitably does not wish to eat his breakfast, or it’s the wrong kind of breakfast, or someone has been given the Spiderman spoon instead of the Incredibles spoon, or (and this was a new, rather unique, one) someone (Ethan) could see someone else’s (Oliver’s) toes, and refused to eat his cereal until I had put socks on them.

The rest of the day is more whining, more refusals. There are brotherly fights to break up, arguments over toys to settle. Someone gets a boo boo and someone else can’t find his favorite toy (the same one he has not played with in months but yet for some reason suddenly finds himself in desperate need of. Tired boys get crabby and need naps, but for one reason or another don’t get them.

Someone has lost one of his Army men and demands that it be found right. now. or the world will surely end! Someone is crying because he wants to watch Curious George but someone else is blocking the tv. Dinner time comes and food is thrown, milk is spilled, and the words “Yuck!” and “Grossssss!” and “Please don’t make me eat this!” are sobbed repeatedly.

Bath time means more fighting and lots of splashing. Remind me to wipe down the bathroom later, please. The classic “It’s Bedtime Therefore I Am Super Hyper Let’s Jump On The Bed, Throw Things And Giggle Nonstop!” has set it. It’s another hour before anyone has actually fallen asleep, with multiple tuckings in and drinks of water and monster-related queries in the meantime.

And now that it is 8 o’clock, I can begin the dishes and clean up of the aftermath of all that food throwing and milk spilling. A quick sweep of the floor. Fold some laundry. Pick up the toys. Oh yes, and don’t forget that wet bathroom. Hopefully I have an hour or three to put into the medical transcription course I’m taking. Hopefully another hour to read some blogs, perhaps post on my own.

And then collapse into bed, too late again, so that I can wake up and do it again tomorrow.

I deal with this on my own the majority of the time. Jeff travels a lot for work and is gone much more than he is actually home. The stress that I feel being the only parent, the only disciplinarian, the only question-answerer, the only cleaner-upper, the only everything, makes it very, very easy to become blinded to the times when things are not so bad. There ARE times when no one is whining, no one is hitting, no one is pooping somewhere OTHER THAN THE POTTY, ohmygoodness. There ARE good times. There ARE times when we’re laughing, when we’re playing, when we’re cuddling, we’re quiet, we’re talking in depth about something. But sadly, I often feel too tired or too run-down or too frustrated to really enjoy them.

Thankfully, Oliver is starting to reach an age where he and Ethan can play together. Well, not so much “play” as “co-exist in the vicinity of each other while participating in an equal or similar activity for 5 to 10 minute durations.” But “play” is right around the corner, I’m sure of it! And so, randomly, they’ve begun having shared moments of peacefulness. It never lasts long, and they’re fighting again before I know it, but… they’re happening. And I’m making a conscious effort to stop whatever cleaning I’m doing or frustration I’m feeling, and just live in the moment with my kids.

My best view: my boys. Getting along. For all of 10 minutes. Kinda makes up for (most of) the messes and stuff, ya know?


Discussing battle strategies.


Chillin’ in the tent, watchin’ a lil George.


Studying a George book.



That’s a good view, I think.

This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by Windex.

A fear of ninjas is a healthy thing

13 05 2009

Well, here we are again. Just me and the boys, home by ourselves, as Jeff is away for the 74th time this year. As he tells Ethan, “The President needs me!” And speaking of the President, last night I dreamed that his daughters were playing and somehow some horrible accident happened. Obama swept in (“in” being the forest…) and performed some emergency surgery, saving her life using only a straw, a pocket knife and a banana. If you can tell me what this means, please don’t. I don’t think I want to know what a dream like this means.

So anyway, yeah, Jeff’s gone. For some reason, I’m overly concerned about dinner the next few days, even though I’m only cooking for the three of us. Lately dinner has been a very stressful part of the day, since certain people refuse to eat just about everything. I’m running out of meal ideas that they’ll eat with minimal fuss. (Thank goodness for Whole Foods’ already prepared stuff; I just picked up coconut chicken and letter-shaped potato things. Add some carrots and we’re good.) (Although that still leaves at least one more night. I might just give them a loaf of bread and juice boxes and see what happens.)

Another source of stress while Jeff’s gone is our neighborhood, which when we first moved here, appeared to be very safe. We were told, in fact, by many people, that it was safe. But uh, you remember my meandering stranger, right? Shortly after that near catastrophe, there was the complete moron (who, it turned out, lived on the next street over) who drove his car into the grass in the boulevard in front of our house (why, we STILL don’t know) and got it stuck there. The police showed up and told him he needed to have it towed. He either refused or just did not understand (English was not his first language) (or his second, or his third, apparently), and chose instead to pull his car out himself. With some ropes. That he tied to something inside his other car (which he’d walked home and driven back). Then everyone watched for the next 45 minutes or so while he tried to pull it out. Which, eventually, did happen. Only we live on a slight incline. So when he got it going, and then continued to drive (THE WRONG WAY) (our side of the boulevard is a one-way) on down the street, the car he was pulling behind him picked up speed. And smashed right into the parked car of a neighbor, mere inches from our own parked car.

Not exactly a reason for me to fear our neighborhood, I know. (Unless I should fear stupidity.) (Which I totally do.) It’s just that there never seems to be a dull moment around this place. Take, for example, what happened in the middle of the night the last time Jeff was away. It was like, 1 am and I was just starting to get ready for bed, when I heard car doors slamming repeatedly. It went on long enough that I went into one of the darkened rooms in the house that looks out front to the street. I saw a car parked on the side of the road, not running, all the lights off. Pulled over next to it, still running, lights on, was another car. There were people taking things out of the parked car and putting them into the car that was running. I wasn’t scared, now that I knew the door-closing sounds I’d heard wasn’t a gang of ninjas getting out of their ninja cars, preparing to sneak into my house and ambush me. (Though, if that WAS what had been going on, all their noise would have ruined the ambush part of the attack, in which case they’d be sucky ninjas, and me and my baseball bat probably could have taken them.) (Which is a thought that comforts me greatly.)

So, from my point of view, when I looked out the window and saw this, I assumed that someone’s car had broken down, and that some kind friends had shown up to pick them up, and they were just grabbing a few things out of their car before leaving it until morning, when they’d come back with a tow truck. Or something. Honestly, I wasn’t paying that much attention. I was just so happy to see that there were no ninjas.

The next afternoon, I noticed the car was still there, but I didn’t think much of it. A neighbor stopped by and asked if I’d seen the car. “It’s stolen,” he said. “I called the police and they’ll be here soon.” How he knew this, I have no idea. But sure enough, the police arrived and said that yes, it was stolen. They also said that given our proximity to a major highway, we are apparently a great place dump stolen vehicles. AWESOME.

They took an official statement from me, the sole witness. And I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’ve already caught the non-ninja bad guys, given the amazing accuracy with which I recalled details from that night. The car? It was big. Like, bigger than a sedan. An SUV? Perhaps. A truck? Could have been. A van? Maybe. Maybe a van. As for color? Dark. It was definitely a dark color. Like blue. Or black. And there were… 2 of them. Or 3. Miiiight have been 5. But I am for SURE that it was more than one person. What did they look like? Um. I don’t know. People-like. With arms and heads and stuff. And hair. I remember seeing some hair.

So uh, yeah. We live in a neighborhood full of meandering strangers and car-stealing people with arms and heads and hair. Ohmygoodness, I need to go make sure I locked the doors. The ninjas have SURELY heard about this neighborhood and it’s only a matter of time!

Which is why I am SO GRATEFUL that I’ve at least got this guy around to protect me:

Picture 3

Seriously, who would want to mess with him? I would not mess with him. Watch out, ninjas.

Picture 5

(His 2010 calendar will be on sale in November.)