Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm a Sucker

Two weeks from today, I'm having a kidney stone blasted out.  I'm a world-class chicken and absolutely terrified of anything you can properly term a "procedure."

Last night, I heard the dreaded noise of a door opening and the pitter pat of little feet about 45 minutes past bedtime.  I went to ask Elisabeth what was wrong and she asked for a pen.  I gently (surprised, aren't you?) told her no, that it was way too late.  Curiosity got the best of me, so I followed up with "why?"

She said, "because I want to count off the days on my calendar until you have your kidney stone taken out."  I asked if she is worried about it and she nodded.  Feeling terribly that she was stressing about it, I got down at her level and assured her I was going to be fine.  She ended with, "I'm just worried they're going to hurt you."

I decided that I was going to have to be strong so as not to worry my sensitive, good hearted 5 yr old.  Until Doug came upstairs and asked what she needed.  After I told him, he smiled and told me not to worry about it.  She is just excited and wants to count down the days until our dear friends Jean and Harry stay with the girls, while I go have the "procedure" done.  She mentioned to him that she wanted to count down the days and he told her that if she told me that I'd have my feelings hurt.

So, I'm a sucker.  And the Academy Award goes to.....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Say Nice Words

Wow, a very, very long 3 month hiatus!   I'd love to give you a reason, but as best as I can figure out - I just got really busy and perhaps stopped seeing the humor in my kids.  Or, rather, was still seeing the humor but not finding the time to document it.  Let's hope it was the latter, as the former sounds really depressing.

Anyway, little Miss Charlotte has changed so much in the last six months.  She's incredibly verbal now.  I think I've relayed in the past what a turkey she is, too.  And now she is pairing these two skills beautifully to further exasperate those who try to provide any form of discipline.

A scene:

It is late.  We are at my parent's house.  Charlotte is tired.  Contrary to her usual preference, she is demanding to use the little girl potty insert.  However, she refuses to allow me to help her put it in or get onto it and is having immense trouble doing it herself.

Me:  Charlotte!  You need to let me help you!  It is very late, past your bedtime.
Charlotte:  NO!  Me do it me self!
Me:  OK, well then do it by the time I count to three or else I'm doing it.
Me:  1..........2.............3 - ok, my turn.
Charlotte:  screams, flails, kicks, hollers, spits, hops, etc.
Me:  I put the potty seat in and try to put her on it, she obviously continues the above.
Me:  (yelling loudly now, because well, that's my parenting style)  STOP IT!  Get on the potty right this minute or else I will put Princess Cat into timeout for the next week!!  You are being a very disobedient little girl!!
Charlotte:  (stops screaming and gets herself fully into control, looks me dead in the eyes)  You need to say nice words me, Mommy.  Those are not nice words.  You say nice words me.

Scene 2:

We're trying to leave the mall.  It is mid-afternoon on a day after a terrible night's sleep.  We are tired.  And cranky.  And more of us than usual as I was with my mom and my niece in addition to my two.  Needless to say, as we approached the door to leave the mall, someone had to pee.  We trek back to the food court to the family bathroom that is more like a play room with little people toilets (it is no wonder someone always has to pee...).  Of course, the toilets are "out of order."  So we trudge across the food court to the ladies' room where we are finally able to resolve our issue.  Try to exit the mall again and, of course, someone's shoe becomes untied which is apparently a show stopper.  We then resume our trudge through the 97 degree Florida sun, bouncing off of the asphalt. as Charlotte (who, by the way is riding on my back) begins to complain.....

Charlotte:  I want to throw pennies in the fountain!
Me:  No.
Charlotte:  But I waaaaaaant to.
Me:  No.
Charlotte:   I WAAAAAAAANT TO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me:  (not quite yelling, but in an obviously angry tone of voice)  We are NOT throwing coins in the fountain, I KNOW you want to and frankly I do not care!  There will be no coins!  So STOP SAYING IT.
Charlotte, calmly:  Mommy.  Those are not nice words.  You need say nice things me.

It is completely disarming.  You can't keep yelling at her when she says that.  All I can manage to say is "well, I will say nice words to you when you start acting like a nice little girl" but at that point the bite is gone from my voice and the moment has passed.  She told Doug the other day to "top yelling me Daddy.  Top yelling."  (He was yelling at her for her usual refusal to put shoes on).  He had to stop yelling and laugh.

So she wins.  She has nerves of steel, that kid.  And she has found a way to defeat us.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Careful What You Ask For

Elisabeth never does anything without clearing it with us, and usually requesting help.  "Mommy, do you want to come with me to the bathroom?"  "Mommy, I'd really like it if you just sat there and watched me sleep, I get so lonely when I'm sound asleep."  "Mommy, can you help me put on my underwear?"  "Mommy, can you  help me brush  my short, straight, tangle free hair?"

Oh, and she pretty much never does anything without being ordered.  Get dressed.  Get dressed. GET DRESSED.   Put on your shoes.  Put on your shoes.  PUT ON YOUR DAMN SHOES.  Except of course I can't say "damn" because she'd not only repeat it to all of her classmates and teachers, but she'd email her grandmothers with it.  I make up for choice words with volume and threats of leaving her home.  Getting her out the door in the mornings pushes me to the brink of crazy.

As I was discussing with a dear friend, it is enough to want to make me change my name from Mommy to something else - and not tell her what I've changed it to.  She will drive you crazy!  A million times I've wished for a self starting, independent kid.  I should note that when I mentioned this to the preschool teachers, they about choked since - apparently - Elisabeth is totally self starting and independent and a leader at school.  I guess those three hours must totally wear her out as far as independence goes.

Anyway, along comes Charlotte.  Charlotte puts her own shoes on and tries to throw them at you if you even look like you might come over and help.  She picks out clothes and comes downstairs wearing them - even if both legs are in the same pant leg.  But, yesterday alone made me want to retract every time I ever said or thought "please give me an independent self-starting child."

Around noon, I looked up and saw her trying to jam a straw into a juice box.  We've had the juice boxes at kid accessible height for years because Elisabeth always asks before diving in.  Clearly this plan has its flaws.  Fine, I'm not such a scrooge that the kid can't have a juice box.  But it has to be at the table.  Off to the table she goes, with me warning her to be careful and not squeeze the juice box.  Three minutes later I see her licking a Magic Tree House book, licking it like its covered in sugar.  Oh, wait.  Right.  It's covered in juice. Hollering ensued, which doesn't phase her, at which point she informed me that not only had she spilled juice but she had also had an accident.  Because, oh yeah Mom, I decided it was time to potty train too.  I'm not wearing a diaper.

Fast forward a few hours.  I put her up into her room for "nap time."  Which, by the way, she has given up napping entirely just like her sister did at this age.  A child locked in their room for an hour and a half every day is bound to come up with some doozies, but Charlotte's a stealthy little thing.  Elisabeth would give running commentary to everything she was doing.  I didn't realize "making muffins" was her code for "spreading poop all over the place," but had I been able to correctly interpret - I would have been able to intervene and stop quite a disgusting mess.

Well, yesterday was Charlotte's muffin making day.  She came out around 3:30 and asked if quiet time was over.  I told her she could come downstairs.  I noticed she wasn't wearing a diaper, which was cause for concern.  I asked why and she said that she had tried to go pee pee.  I was sitting within sight of her room and had not heard her leave and traipse to the bathroom, so this assertion was surprising.  Convinced she had peed on the floor, I went upstairs.  No diaper.  No pee.  I looked and saw brown on her knee and upon closer examination determined it was, in fact, poop.  Oh look, more poop on her arm.  And other knee.  And neck??  Into the bathroom we went, where I discovered poop all over the stool and... all in the sink.  In her defense (am I really defending this?) I think she was trying to clean herself up.   Notably, and disturbingly, I did not ever find a load of poop.  I can only hope and pray that it has been safely (and extraordinarily quietly) flushed away.  I did find a completely clean diaper, so it isn't in there.  

So throughout the entire cleaning up ordeal - and I'm still not sure I found all of the spots - I'm explaining (very, very patiently, obviously - and stop laughing right this minute) to Charlotte that I'd like her to please ask me when she wants a snack, ask me when she needs to go potty, ask me before putting on big girl underwear and it occurred to me that this is exactly what I deserved, what I requested.  To each statement, I got the dreaded, "why?"  Because poop is nasty, Charlotte!  But why mommy?  I sent her downstairs while I 409'd the bathroom.  And Princess Cat for good measure.

I came downstairs, frazzled from the afternoon with her, and, I kid you not, that child had gotten another juice box and was sucking it down.  Utter defeat.  But I'm bigger than she is so I snatched it away and put it in the fridge for another day.  I don't know what the score is at this point, but I'm pretty sure I'm losing by a wide margin.

Charlotte is probably a lot like her daddy was as a kid.  Quietly getting into things.  Telling you the truth, just not all of it.  Elisabeth is like me.  Constantly aggravating her mother and constantly in need of assistance.  My mother tells me that she had to get me dressed until I was ten...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


There is so much talk about how commercialized kids are these days.  It isn't something that I spend a huge amount of time fretting over and thanks to the magic of the DVR, I feel like Elisabeth has been relatively shielded from it.  That is, until recently.  She has gotten into Penguins of Madagascar, which has ads between the episodes - so at the 15 minute mark.  She usually fast forwards through them, but has -apparently- watched a few.  At least this leads to some humorous stories.

When we were in Florida recently, as we drove East on I-4 towards Orlando Elisabeth saw a billboard with a picture of a pile of money with eyes on it.  She nearly jumped out of her seat pointing and saying "Mommy, Mommy!!  That's the money you could be saving with Geico!"

Then, on Friday, Doug told Elisabeth that they were going to buy some flowers for me for Valentine's Day.  She said, "No, Daddy, you shouldn't waste your money on flowers."  So he asked what he should get for me for Valentine's Day.  She said "you can still get flowers, but you have to go online and go to  And type "youth" in the box.  It will save you money."  We think she got the coupon code wrong, but she was close!

As an aside, I would pay money to the makers of Barbie to STOP producing commercials, so my kids can live in ignorance of Barbie's very existence... I would take an entire truck full of My Little Ponies if someone would promise me that another Barbie would not enter my house.  Heck, I'd take an entire truck full of battery powered noise making toys if I could keep Barbie out.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Charlotte's "Friends"

Charlotte has a set of "friends" that she absolutely cannot go to bed without.  Let me just list them, so that you can get an idea for what I'm dealing with:  Tigger, Pooh, Big Tigger, Minnie, Mickey, Other Mickey, Lambie, Amme, Pink, Princess Cat, Baby Ginny, Baby Llama, Nemo, Goofy, and Donald.  Now, see, I am certain that I am forgetting at least one.  

If these "friends" stayed up in her room, we wouldn't really have a problem because they'd all end up with her at night.  Instead, she brings some subset of them down every day for escapades.  Which inevitably leads to a wake up call at 2:30 am "Can't find Lambie!!!"  How in the world that kid takes inventory at 2:30 am, in the dark, I will never know.  But she is always right, and she'll tell you that Lambie is downstairs playing marble game in front of the TV.  And off you'll go in search of Lambie, or else you will never sleep again.

Lately, some of her friends have taken on personalities.  And let me tell you, that Princess Cat is trouble.  Princess Cat seems to be Charlotte's (even more) evil twin.  In fact, Princess Cat is only recently released from a week's long incarceration in Charlotte's room.  This stemmed from a few days of Charlotte repeatedly causing Princess Cat's hard plastic face to connect at great speed with Elisabeth's soft fleshy face.

And this is how our conversations went:

Elisabeth:  Academy Award winning sobfest.  The kind that puts Sally Field to shame.
Me (yelling, obviously):  CHARLOTTE!  Did you hit Elisabeth?
Charlotte:  (completely emotionless face, sort of indignant)  No.  Princess Cat did.

So Princess Cat, since she couldn't figure out a way to keep her plastic face to herself, had to live in Charlotte's room for a week.

Charlotte creates drama between the friends too.  Here's an example:

Charlotte, running over to me, somewhat upset:  Mommy!  Lambie is crying!
Me:  Oh no, why??
Charlotte:  Pink kicked her in the face.

I put Pink directly into time out for that one.

Charlotte has an active relationship with her stuffed "friends," something we never saw with Elisabeth.  She has complete, lengthy conversations with them.   Consoles them when one of the other ones assaults them; watches out for their best interests.   Just the other day, she had a major meltdown while listening to They Might Be Giants' Here Comes the ABCs in the car.  Pictures of Pandas Painting came on, and Charlotte was literally in tears because it is Pink's song (the letter P), and Pink wasn't there to hear it.

This afternoon, Charlotte introduced Princess Cat to the washing machine.  "See dat Princess Cat?  Clothes go round round round.  See clothes in dere?"  Then tonight as we played a game of Sorry, Mickey, Pink, and Princess Cat each had to take a turn watching what we were doing as Charlotte explained to them.  "Soooorrrrrry Princess Cat."

She isn't that cautious with them though.  Just this morning, Princess Cat got tossed onto the floor while Charlotte played in her play kitchen.  I guess nature called, Charlotte was wearing her big girl undies, and Princess Cat took the brunt of the accident.    In a highlight of my parenting career, I found myself Googling "wash baby doll hair" and breaking my favorite comb trying to brush the dredlocks out of her hair after washing it with my fancy schmancy shampoo and conditioner.

I am very interested to watch a world ruled by Charlotte develop.  I'm thinking Lord of the Flies.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nature Walk

After nearly a month of frigid temperatures, it finally got to be above 40 last Thursday.  Now, I'm a Florida girl - so you know that it has been really cold when I go out in 45 degree weather in just a long sleeve t-shirt and seriously contemplate a picnic.  I decided it was probably too cold for a picnic, but by gosh those kids were getting outside for some much needed airing out.

Elisabeth's preschool class had gone on a "nature walk" earlier in the week where they took bags and picked up little things like pine cones and acorns and brought them home to mommy so that everyone can have just a little bit more junk in their house.  Elisabeth just loved the nature walk.  She has grand plans of constructing a pine cone lantern.  I don't want to know the specifics.

Our neighborhood is surrounded by a flood plain that about half of the houses, including ours, back up to.  It is a bunch of woods and fields with two decent sized streams.  We often take walks down there, when it isn't 18 degrees with gale force winds.  Thursday seemed like a perfect day for an adventure, so off we went on our own 'Nature Walk.'  I gave each girl a shopping bag, put on our mud boots, and off we went in search of nature.

About half way in, Elisabeth realized that there weren't many pine cones or acorns.  We collected some spiny spherical things that fell from some kind of spiny-sphere producing tree (I should really consider a career as a science teacher, with my fancy undergrad degree in microbiology...).  We tried to find some deer bones or snake skins but came up empty handed.  We did find some grass covered in fox spray, but I vetoed that entering my house.

We ended up down at the stream where we skimmed stones for about 20 minutes.  Charlotte "plunked" stones (appropriately called "plunkers").  Elisabeth found "skimmers" and managed to get a three hopper.  I threw sticks for the insane lab puppy to fetch in the water.  It was glorious.

As we walked home, Elisabeth began to lament our lack of "nature finding."  We stopped to look around and saw a flock of eastern bluebirds in the field across the stream from where we stood.  Male bluebirds are one of my favorite animals - they are so blue and so pretty.  As an aside, they are also perhaps one of the dumbest animals I've ever observed - they continually build nests in our bluebird boxes but don't sit on them and then the wrens move in and kick them out.  Anyway, the girls and I watched the bluebirds for awhile as I explained that the male bluebirds get more brightly colored as we approach spring.  It was all very serene and calming.

Until a hawk came flying in low, right over Elisabeth's head, and attacked a male bluebird right before our very eyes.  Grabbed it out of mid-air.  I'm pretty sure that my girlish shriek scared the hawk, who did not end up killing the bird.  My girlish shriek also scared the living bejeezus out of the kids, far more than the hawk had.

So I said to Elisabeth - "you wanted a nature walk?  That was a bona fide nature walk."  The entire walk home, the girls grilled me with questions about hawks.  Did the bird die?  Why do hawks eat birds?  What else do hawks eat?  Will the hawk eat Ginny (the puppy)?  Do hawks eat fish?  Can hawks swim like ducks?Do people eat hawks?  And my favorite, from Charlotte, as she looked up at me with huge brown eyes, "Hawk eat me, mommy?"

"Only if you misbehave, kid."

Monday, December 28, 2009

How We Know Santa Is Real, Plus Baby Jesus Rolls

Two cute stories from the Christmas weekend.  First, as I've written about previously, Elisabeth was terribly skeptical of the whole Santa story this year.  She eventually settled on Santa being real, but Rudolph being made up because, really, what kind of reindeer has a nose that lights up...

Well, in order to test her "hypothesis" (her new favorite word thanks to WordGirl, I believe), she devised a system that would prove once and for all whether Santa was real.  She would leave a note for Santa along with the cookies.  The note would read "For Santa ONLY."  That way, if the cookies got eaten, she would know that Santa was real because only Santa could eat the cookies.  If the cookies remained in the morning, then Santa didn't exist.  She was thrilled to find the cookies eaten.  And I only feel a little bit bad for misleading her.

If one of us hadn't eaten the cookies, it seems likely that the cat would have.  We left the mug of milk out for Santa and came downstairs to multiple puddles of foul, and I mean FOUL, smelling cat vomit.  If you've ever wanted a cat, think again.  And if you still want a cat, I have one for you.

Elisabeth has said multiple times over the past two days, "I KNEW he was real.  I KNEW it.  I'm so happy." It is so sweet and innocent that she has full faith that if she writes something on a note, it will be obeyed.  Well, maybe that's not sweet and innocent, maybe it is an expectation that her parents do as she says.  Hmm...  let's go with sweet and innocent.  Makes for a much better story and makes me feel better about my parenting skills.  I note this as I watch Elisabeth dance around the room to Penguins of Madagascar periodically mooning the TV.  Pardon me while I inquire of the nature of this dance...

OK that is settled.  The adjustable waist band button in her pants was bothering her, so the obvious solution was to pull both pants and underwear down as she danced.  On to Jesus Rolls.

Charlotte, like her sister before her, loves, and I mean LOVES, the notion of Baby Jesus.  Every Christmas song that says Baby Jesus is met with enthusiastic cheering from Charlotte.  She carries the Fisher Price Baby Jesus around the house, perching him precariously on towers made of blocks.  Heck, she even named a new baby doll of hers "Baby Jesus" and she (yes, she) is the sister of Other Amme.

Now change gears a bit.  For Christmas Eve Dinner, I set out to make Parker House Rolls.  These little rolls are made by taking a ball of dough and squishing it flat in the middle so that you make a sort of oval with two thicker ends, then you fold it in two and bake.  If you're so inclined, you can open them up in the middle before you eat them.  Charlotte was so inclined.  And immediately upon opening the roll,  she decided it looked like a manger.  "Baby Jesus in there!"  Hoping she had seen an image of Baby Jesus in a Christmas roll that I could sell on Ebay for the big bucks I looked over only to find her looking at a very plain looking roll.  "Baby Jesus sleeping in here Mommy."  Charlotte then patted the roll gently and then folded it closed.  And shoved it in her mouth with a big, theatrical, CHOMP.

Me:  You're going to EAT Baby Jesus?
C:  NO!  Baby Jesus neaking (read:  sneaking) away!!!  See?  See Baby Jesus neak?  Chomp.
Me:  Oh Baby Jesus, come back!
C:  Me getting Baby Jesus.  Me putting Baby Jesus back Mommy.  Chomp.
Me:  You're eating Baby Jesus again?
E:  I've got Mary in my roll.

So now, every day for three days, we've had these rolls with dinner.  And needless to say our irreverent dinner roll skit has gotten less reverent with each passing day.  So now on every Christmas Eve, I will apparently be serving Baby Jesus Rolls.  And also probably going straight to hell...