Monday, April 30, 2007

One reason to be glad for no recent growth spurts

Dear Andrew & Abby,

You know I write a lot about bedtime here. It's usually a pretty painful process. We also frequently deal with nighttime visits. Sometimes one, sometimes the other, occasionally both. Our bed is not big enough for all four of us plus both cats, but it's been known to hold all of us anyway. Our visits from Andrew used to be every night. Most of the time he didn't come in until about 4am, but sometimes it was more like midnight or 1am. He seemed to learn pretty quickly not to come to Mommy's side. Mommy is a light sleeper and I would usually make him go back to bed. But Daddy would sleep right through the visit, allowing Andrew to snuggle in undetected until the morning alarm clock rang.

So, now we fight to get you to bed, but once you're out, the visits are less frequent. But once in a while, we still get a visitor.

Last night was a visit to remember.

Bedtime came late - it was a gorgeous evening and we stayed outside until almost 9pm - Mommy and Daddy blow the bedtime routine yet again.

**As a side note - part of the reason we were outside past bedtime is that Andrew was practicing riding his bike with no training wheels. I'm thrilled to report that this afternoon after more practice, Daddy and I feel pretty confident that he has it mastered. Yay!! Go, Andrew!**

You two fought and fought and did not finally pass out until after 10pm. Daddy and I were asleep a little after 11pm. And at 12:30, I woke up to a noise I couldn't quite place. And maybe I sensed something amiss?

Andrew was standing next to my bed. And I heard a noise like water running. Uh oh.

"Andrew, are you peeing in my room?"

No response. But now my eyes had adjusted to the darkness. And there was definitely an exposed boy part next to my bed. He took a step back and then walked back to his room. I realized he was sleep walking, so no point in yelling. It's not like he was peeing in my room on purpose. He was back in bed and asleep before I could even get to his room.

I returned to my room and told Daddy to turn on the light. Not only did he pee. He PEED. The floor. The side of the bed. The photo albums next to my bed. Oh dear. And then Daddy started laughing.

As I cleaned up, Daddy laughed and laughed. When he could finally tell me why (after he caught his breath from his laugh attack), he said, "If he had just been six inches higher...he'd have been peeing all over YOU instead of the bed!" And then there was more laughing. I am pretty sure he laughed himself to sleep. After we changed the sheets.

Mommy, whose bedroom is NOT the potty

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Green - it's a family color

Dear Andrew & Abby,

About a year ago, we got more serious about our efforts to recycle. We set out the recycling bins and did a great job at sorting our trash. Until the bins were full. Then we kind of got stuck in a "what do we do now" moment. Getting to the recycling center is a challenge since we are not in town during their weekday hours and they are only open on two Saturdays a month from 8am-12pm. There are many Saturdays when our family is not cognizant of a world beyond our own orbit before noon, so remembering which Saturday it is and getting dressed in time to leave the house with any extra time for a quick stop at the recycling center has proven to be difficult. But for the last few months, we have been doing a much better job. We're doing great with the cans, plastic, and glass. I've figured out that it only takes - literally - two minutes to drop off a bag of cans at 7:30 on our way to day care. If I make you two stay in the van. If I let you both help, it takes - literally - two years. And that makes Mommy pretty late for work.

Our problem now is the cardboard recycling. Have you ever noticed how many boxes of crap we go through in this house?! Wow! We are really going through those trees! I am conflicted about this because I'm pretty sure most of it is my fault. Convenience (ie, boxed macaroni, frozen fish sticks...) seems to come with more packaging. But convenience is also what allows Mommy to feed you more for dinner than your shoelaces on many nights (don't worry, we'll always keep Shoelace Dinner Night - I know how much you love it). And again, Mommy does pretty well at remembering to sort out the cardboard from the trash. Unfortunately, Mommy is short. Um, yes, it does too matter! You see, the recycling center keeps the recycling separated in giant industrial-sized dumpsters. Dumpsters that are about the size of a giant blue ox. Mommy, she's not as tall as all that. They use the same dumpsters for the cans and plastic, but those dumpsters have a lovely set of stairs with a landing. The cardboard dumpster is just sitting all by its lonely self. No stairs. So we have a very large and rapidly growing pile of cardboard in our garage. Mommy's going to have to bring the ladder with us...or find a giant lumberjack who's willing to give us a hand.

So anyway...Last Sunday was Earth Day. You two don't know much about Earth Day, and my feeble attempts to explain it gave me a glimpse into what it must be like for your Daddy to try explaining all the intricacies of automobile seat manufacturing. But you do understand trash. Oh, do you! We are pretty massive trash-generators in our family. Somehow, trash just seems to magically appear all throughout our house. I don't know where it all comes from. Besides all the shoelace boxes. That's a given.

On Saturday, we went to the park for Andrew's Cub Scout Raingutter Regatta. I'm not going to try to explain why he was racing boats in a raingutter right now. Here's a picture, that might help.

You two and I walked home with the wagon. As we were leaving the park, I noticed a soda bottle and asked Andrew to pick it up so we could take it home and throw it in with the rest of our recycling. Something clicked and the rest of the way home, you both picked up EVERY piece of trash you found. Yes. Every. Tiny. Piece. It was a long walk home. But I was so thrilled that you wanted to help keep our town clean. And Andrew especially seemed to get it. I talked about how it helps to keep the earth healthy when we pick up our trash. Before long, Andrew caught on to "saving the Earth" and when I said that kind of made you like super-heroes, well, I hit the gold mine. You two are now the Earth Superheroes, who save the Earth by picking up trash. I can't stop you. You point out trash on the street as we're driving to day care in the mornings, and I think you may secretly be plotting to put me in Earth Superhero jail because I won't stop to pick up the gum wrapper you noticed back there when we turned the corner.

This is our wagon full of trash (Abby had to give up riding and make room for the garbage just over half-way home).

Mommy is going to be much more prepared on our next trip to the park with garbage bags and several pairs of gloves. You two were even checking out the "forest" in our neighborhood commons area. And fighting over who got to pick up the envelope-sized scrap of paper or the near-empty soda bottle. Fighting. Over trash. Seriously, will you two fight over anything?!

And because you are such cute little Earth Superheroes, here are a couple more pictures.

Oh, and Andrew won 1st place in his den at the Raingutter Regatta (4th in the overall pack). He is SO excited about his trophy - his "very 1st trophy in Cub Scouts!!!!" Congratulations, Regatta Champ!



Friday, April 20, 2007

Finding beauty in the two of you

Dear Andrew & Abby,

I've been struggling with what and how to write to you this week. It has been a bit of an emotional week in the world. On Monday, someone hurt and killed a lot of people including himself in a place where they all should have been able to be safe. No one really still knows why, and I think that makes everyone even more upset. Grown-ups like to be able to explain things, especially to you kids. When we can't, it's hard. This week also has marked the anniversaries of two other events where a lot of people were hurt and killed, for barely understood reasons.

I've been sad about these things all week, and wondering what I would say to you if either of you asked about some of the things you have seen and heard, despite Daddy's and my efforts to shield you. I'm guessing it is being talked about at day care and at Andrew's school. So far, neither of you has asked or seems to be having nightmares (Andrew had nightmares about planes crashing after September 11, 2001, even though he was only 2 1/2 at the time).

And then today, I read this quote on my daily quote calendar:

Think of all the beauty that's still left in and around you and be

That was written by Anne Frank, who you will both learn about in school one day. She was a little girl who lived during a very scary time in a place that is not as safe as where we live. She was very brave when it was almost impossible to have hope.

Thinking of her and her ability to still find the good in her world, today I'm thinking about a few things you two have been up to in the last couple of weeks that help me find beauty in life, even when I'm sad for some of the things going on in our world.

Abby has recently been having a lot of fun pretending to be a mom or a dad and assigning the rest of us different roles. Apparently, she has picked up a lot of ideas about what it means to be Mommy and Daddy. One day last week, she announced, "I'm a mom. I need a Diet Coke." Hmm...I wonder where she could have picked that up? Then, a couple of days ago, Daddy allowed her to have one of his fudgesicles. She happily climbed up into the rocking chair and announced, "Now I'm a dad!" She's also developed some pretty strong opinions about things and is noticing the world around her. The other day when pulling in at day care, she pointed out that the car next to us was "cute." "Oh, yes," I agreed, "it's nice." "No," she said, "it's CUTE." Today, she wore a long sleeve shirt underneath her short sleeve t-shirt, just like Andrew likes to do, because it's also "cute." And last night, she fell asleep on her bedroom floor. On purpose. Daddy put her back into her bed before we went to bed for the night, and this morning, she woke up very angry, crying and yelling "I want to sleep on the floor!" So she moved back to the floor for the few minutes before it was time to get up.

While Abby is learning what it takes to be a mom and a dad, and shunning her bed, Andrew is consumed with baseball. He started Little League a couple of weeks ago, and I think Daddy and I are starting to settle into the routine a little better. Games don't start for a couple more weeks, but practice is scheduled for Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. He's not the best player on the field, but he is pretty good. And he is very optimistic. At the scrimmage game last night, he missed a pop fly, but instead of focusing on that, all he could talk about was, "Did you see that hit I made?!" Even after I said yes, he told me all about it any way. In teeny tiny detail. Reanalyzing and replaying every moment...hmm...I think I know which parent he got THAT from (yes, I'm looking at you, Daddy). Even though he wouldn't admit it in a million years, I think Andrew is struggling to adjust to the extra activity and has been pretty tired. He's alternated between moody, sweet, grumpy, and hyper much of the last week or two. Summer should be fun.

And there is some good news in the Bedtime Wars. While not perfect, or even conflict-free, bedtime has been slightly less of a nightly battle. Mommy has not had any more moments of debate about whether or not to call in reinforcements from down the street, hire someone outright to put you to bed while Daddy and I sit at Dairy Queen and wait, or to just run screaming into the night. This makes for a much happier mommy. And I'm sure you both find it much more enjoyable in the house without the Mommy Ogre making nightly appearances.

I think it has also helped that this sadness about the events going on has helped to give Mommy a little perspective about the truly important things in life. You two are tops on that list for me, and if that means that we have to fight it out a little at bedtime, I guess I can deal with that. To paraphrase something I heard recently, if that's the biggest complaint I have, then I'm a pretty lucky Mommy. We may live in a sometimes scary world, but here at home, life is good.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Easter recap, new obsessions, and Oh My God, this has to stop

Dear Andrew & Abby,

Well, we made it through Easter. I know! Hard to believe. We actually stayed home this year, which is unusual for us. We usually go to Papa and Grandma Dottie's house, which is also fun. But this was one of the few times we stayed at our house and went to our church and the Easter Bunny came to our house! On Saturday, there was the Easter party at church and I think you two had a really good time. You made hand print lillys and I am still proudly displaying them. Since they aren't relying on Mommy for watering, they will probably do better than our house plant.

Sunday morning, you found the baskets that the Bunny left for you and you were both VERY excited. Andrew said he LOVES Easter!! I think that is mostly due to the fact that there was an umbrella in his basket and he has been pining for an umbrella for a long time now. I've never seen a kid so excited to get an umbrella.

This week, he has been spending a lot of time studying the weather forecast to determine that it might rain and he should really take his umbrella today. On the way home from school today (it was a rainy day and he did take the umbrella), he offered to go and fetch the mail - IN THE RAIN - if Daddy hadn't already picked it up. Of course that offer was rescinded once we heard thunder and saw lightning, but that's okay.

You also both had some other junk in your baskets that cost 50 cents or a dollar or so a piece (the Easter Bunny told me that). Yes, you two are fairly spoiled in quantity, but luckily, you aren't concerned too much with quality or cost (at least not yet).

Church was good and you were reasonably well-behaved. Of course Mommy (and the other Mommies and Daddies involved) did not make the best decision in allowing the Trinity Gang to all sit together in a pew.

It felt like a really long time until Pastor invited all the kids to the front for the Children's Sermon and then you were off to the nursery for Children's Church. We are so blessed to be part of a church that accepts and embraces families with small kids the way ours does. It helps that we all sit where we're supposed to - back left corner. That's the Noisy Corner. Most people know that that's not where you want to sit if you actually want to be able to hear the entire service.

Because we stayed home, and because Mommy likes to go crazy every once in a while, we invited people over to our house to eat Sunday afternoon. Mommy loves to have friends over and to cook lots of food. So it's a good fit. Of course, the problem is that we do not have a large house. And our not large house is not even very well designed for entertaining. But that's never been known to stop us. Also, we have a lot of friends! We are SO popular! Mommy tried to keep it small - so I just invited the Russells (family of 4), the Fishers (4), the Stenbergs (4), the Herrins (4). We're all such tidy two-kid families (for now!!). But even with that, do the math with me...4 times 5 is...20! Very good! TWENTY people. Of course, half of them are kids, so that's not too bad. Oh, and wait! We also invited the Wallaces - there's just three of them. Then I got word that the Russells were also bringing Don's mom and dad - who live in town and who we know. That's cool. And then we also invited the Campbells (4) - because we just really like them and I wanted them to come. And they did. The Herrins and Wallaces already had other plans, but everyone else came. So did you keep track? That's 22 people altogether. It was so much fun! I cooked a Big Ass Ham (over 19 pounds!), and made special Easter Egg Potatoes that I love. Everyone else brought something and we had a great time. You kids got to play, the grown-ups got to talk, and there was lots and lots of food. I don't remember an Easter when I have ever felt more content and at peace, and surrounded by friends, which is all I could hope for you for any day in your life.

And then Sunday night came.

And Monday night.

And Tuesday night.

And tonight.

I don't even have the words to describe how awful bedtime has been. We've had good structure, followed our routine, and Mommy and Daddy have worked together. And yet...

Fits. Screaming. Throwing. Crying. Defiance. Threats. Hitting and kicking. Punishment. Spanking (yes, I said it. Spanking. On. Your. Butt.).

Last night, I actually looked up the application for SuperNanny. That's how bad it is. I guess the good - and bad - news is that I don't think you're bad enough for us to make it on to Jo's schedule. Last night, Mommy was in tears by the end of the night. Tonight, I was afraid. Afraid I was close to losing control. Daddy took over and I mostly hid in the living room. Neither of us quite knows what to do. We've heard it all and we've tried it all. How can I possibly continue to simply put Abby back in her bed each time she gets up when I don't even make it out of her room before she's on my heels? Are we really going to have to throw or give away Andrew's toys before he will give up his stubbornness and stop with the back talk? You two are only three and eight. If it's this bad now, I am really frightened of how ill-equipped I will be to handle either of you as teenagers. I can't even talk about it anymore. We need help. Real help. Not the unsolicited parenting book advice kind of help. We need SuperNanny or someone willing to pretend to be her for us. And I just don't know where to get that kind of help.

If only we had some kind of umbrella-wielding super-hero who specializes in sleep-resistant children. And no, the Penguin is NOT who I have in mind. I think adding nightmares to our already stressful nighttime would finally push Mommy right over the edge.

I love you I love you I love you. No matter how frazzled I feel trying to get you to sleep, once you finally give up the fight and close your eyes, I go in to your rooms, snuggle on you, smell your sleepiness, and kiss your cheeks and heads and hands. I adore you. Now, please.



Thursday, April 5, 2007

1000 pictures are worth a word

Dear Andrew & Abby,

Mommy loves to take pictures. I love my camera and I carry it with me ALL the time. Sometimes I take pictures of random things, just because. It's what I do. I've always like picture-taking, but I kind of developed an obsession when Andrew was born. In his first three months of life, I filled a 600-picture photo album. I've slowed down some since then, but you two are still my very favorite photo subjects. Just as you are my favorite writing subjects and conversation subjects...

I have a bunch of pictures posted on Flickr, but they aren't really connected to these blog entries I write. A few entries have had pictures, but not too many. And my hope is that one day, you'll read through all of this and get a feel for what our life was like when you were little (hopefully you will still like me after you read all of this, but I'll try not to worry about that too much). So, I'm going to try to add more pictures of you to the entries I post. Maybe not every post, but most of them.

To get started, here are a few of my favorites from the year so far...

January - cheering on the Colts:

January - Abby's 3rd birthday picture with the birthday hippo:
February - Andrew's 8th birthday, Crown Royal bag full of "treasure" (coins) - probably his favorite gift:

February - Abby posing before school in one of her new outfits and with her special new pink cowboy boots:

February - Andrew on one of the "King Mountains" of snow drifts after our Valentine's Day snow-in:March - Abby showing her "diva" look:
March - Andrew looking intent during a basketball game with friends:

February - Valentine's Day, showing some sibling love while Daddy shovels snow outside. You really liked each other when you were 8 and 3. One day, I'll show you this picture to prove it:

Your picture-crazy Mommy