Tuesday, July 1, 2014

And now, sugar

I like to cook.

No, really. Even though oftentimes at 6pm I am yanking out random frozen vegetables from the freezer and noodles from the pantry muttering, "Of COURSE pasta doesn't expire, it can't expire, I refuse to believe it, this pasta is still good, man I HATE making dinner." In the end, it's fun to create something and then get to eat it afterwards. You can't do that with art projects, unless it's one of those bizzare performance art things.

I decided my kids need to know how to cook. This decision came easier once a sixteen month old Strawberry began bouncing at our feet whenever Husband and I were in the kitchen, yelling, "UP UP UP UP UP UP UP UP UP UP UP" and refusing to let us put her down because she wanted to see everything we were doing on the counter.

For an anniversary present, I bought one of those learning tower things, which is basically a platform that lets a kid stand at counter height so they can reach everything on the counter (keep those knives out of the way!). It was also an anniversary present in that I bought it around our 4th anniversary and then went "OH...right...hey honey, it's a present! We don't have to hold Strawberry while we cook any more!" You know all those stereotypes about the man forgetting anniversaries and having to rush to the store after work to grab flowers while the woman is tapping her foot on the floor at home waiting for Her Man to surprise her with something super romantic? Yeah, that's not a thing in our home, since I constantly have to ask Husband how many years we have been married.

Anyway, the other day I decided to make cookies, because everyone likes cookies, and it's a good project to do with Strawberry. She eagerly climbed up on her learning tower when I said the word "Cookies," and helped me dump the butter into the KitchenAid. I gave her a little 1/4 cup scoop and told her we were counting out 4 scoops. One...she dumped in the sugar. Two...three...four...good job!

And then, I did something stupid. I turned around and opened the refrigerator to pull out the eggs. As I bent down I heard..."And now, FIVE!"

Strawberry was dumping another scoop of sugar into the bowl. As I shot to my feet and said, "NO JUST FOUR," she happily dumped in yet another one..."And now, SIX!"

This girl can move slower than molasses when it comes to cleaning up or going potty, but dumping sugar into a bowl? Pretty sure she broke some sugar-dumping records. She had another scoop in his hand and was in the process of dumping it into the bowl before I could cross the five steps to her. "And now, SEV--"

"That's enough! Thank you! You counted great. Wow...lots of sugar..." I stared into the bowl, where the butter had vanished under the snowy white grains of sugar. We had no other butter, so I sighed and turned on the mixer.

They were really sweet and burned around the edges. But later, Strawberry happily sat in her little chair, staring out the window and munching away, and that's really all that counts, right? Maybe?

Friday, June 20, 2014

And now, potty training

Potty training, potty learning, potty my-child-shall-choose-when-to-exercise-his-or-her-right-to-bowel-control, whatever you want to call it. It is happening here.

Actually, I think Strawberry was ready to start using the potty shortly before her second birthday. Unfortunately, that was when I was nine months pregnant and pissy 23.5 hours out of the day. I just didn't have the time or patience to try reading her signals and getting her to go potty, but for the sake of giving her something novel to do while I myself was in the bathroom (quite often, in that last month of pregnancy), we picked her up this Fisher Price Potty:

Yeah, I know. It's a little creepy. But it was cheap and I thought she'd like the handle that let her "flush" the potty. We solved the creep factor by rubbing the face off with rubbing alcohol and a washcloth so now it looks a little more like a real toilet and less like the soul of a cartoon character trapped in a plastic child's potty for all eternity.

Puppy was born. A couple of months passed. I drowned in the piles of laundry that two fully cloth diapered children generate. One day I said, "No more diapers!" and let Strawberry run around diaperless for a week. We had a lot of accidents. She sensed the creep of the small potty, even though we had scrubbed the face off. Finally, I got a seat that just goes on the regular toilet and began plopping her on there every hour. It worked! Within a couple of days she was holding her pee until we could get her on the "big potty."

Of course, the problem with this was...she couldn't get up on the potty on her own. We shoved a stool in front, but she just didn't have the coordination to remove her training pants, climb the stool, turn around and sit down properly on the seat, all while holding her bladder. So for a couple of months we just plopped her on the big potty once every couple of hours. It sucked, and she'd have accidents when we forgot to put on her on in time because we were watching episodes of Downton Abbey busy doing other housework, but it was better than being overrun by several cotton fields' worth of cloth diapers every time I did laundry.

One day, we were preparing to head to the grocery store, which takes quite a bit of preparation when multiple young children are involved. The kids were playing on the bed and I was fixing my hair in the bathroom when out of nowhere, Strawberry came running in, her hands yanking at the elastic of her training pants.

I taught preschool long enough to realize what was going on and react instinctively, even though what she was doing hadn't quite sunk in yet. I reached over and helped yank down Strawberry's trainers, and she flung herself onto the dusty, neglected little Fisher Price potty and she peed!

I praised her greatly. I gave her a bunch of M&Ms. I said we'd tell Daddy as soon as he got home. I have no idea what spurned her to suddenly go potty on her own but I'm thrilled. Potty training really does come on its own time!

And now to hope for no regressions. Ever.

This post contains Amazon.com affiliate links. If you buy something using my link, I may get paid a few pennies which I can then save up and eventually use to buy ibuprofen or chocolate or wine. Or a pet mouse. Something useful like that. 

And now, procrastination

Ooh, it's been a while since my last post. We have a lot to get caught up on, yes we do. To start out--

Wait, Strawberry just knocked her cup of milk all over the floor. And Puppy is crying. Because he's teething.  And not napping. Or sleeping, so mommy and daddy are perpetually sleep deprived (more than usual).And the cat just hacked up a hairball on the carpet.

Yeah, thiiiiiiiiiis is why blogging kind of didn't happen for a few months. Working on it!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

And now, swearing

The baby monitor crackled and hissed to my right. Near my feet, Strawberry sang a senseless song while dancing Big Bird and a cow around a big yellow chicken. I sat back in my computer chair, sighing.  Puppy was finally asleep and I could actually get some work done. Sipping a soda, I opened Microsoft Word, then immediately clicked over to facebook "just for a minute while the document loads..."

"Eh. Eh. Eh."

I glared at the baby monitor.


Strawberry dropped her toys on the floor and rolled her eyes. "Aw, shit, really Puppy?"

I choked on my soda and blurted, "Strawberry!" before mentally acknowledging this was all my fault. Well, my husband's a little, too. But the kids spend most of their day with me, so mostly mine.

Lesson learned: the kids are ALWAYS listening. ALWAYS.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

And now, (a lack of) social interaction

I'm so bad at social interaction.

I would say, "You have no idea," but I'm about to tell you how bad I am so you'll know in a moment. I've never been particularly extroverted, but it's been worse the last few years. I blame it on being chronically sleep deprived. THAT should be in the parenting books. "After Giving Birth, Chapter 8: You Will Never Have a Fully Coherent Conversation Again. For the Rest Of Your Life. Ever."

Anyway. It was one of those days where the kids desperately needed to get out of the apartment (is there ever a day when this isn't the case?) so we went to a children's museum, located inside a mall. It's a great place, geared mainly towards the 5 and under crowd, with a huge water play section, books, giant Lite-Brite, fish tanks, even a semi truck cab open for kids to play in.

Strawberry enjoyed this for approximately two minutes. Then she wanted to go back out into the mall. You see, one wall of the museum is nothing but windows, and those windows look out onto the part of the mall that every parent hates. The mall rides. For just four quarters, your child can sit in a completely unsanitized, 80s era vague-animal-that-might-be-a-dog,-possibly-a-bear and listen to generic mechanical squawks that kind of resemble music, while the dog-maybe-bear either flies around so violently your kid gets whiplash, or barely jiggles from side to side--which one you get is a surprise! But the parents take one look and say "Yeah, NO I'm not spending quarters on that," which immediately and forever impresses among children that these must be The Most Sacred, Amazing, Incredibly Life-Altering Dog-Maybe-Bears ever, because Mom and Dad said "No." And so they are always flooded with young children climbing all over the stationary rides while parents stand around, warily glancing at all the other parents, ready to stab the first person who decides to pop in a few quarters and thus show all the kids that they will actually move around if money is spent. Because if there's one thing kids are experts at, it's making you spend money on random crap for them.

I dragged Strawberry away from the window. Puppy was asleep in his baby carrier and I wanted him to take at least a half hour nap. I tried to entice her away from the window, throwing plastic balls into a mock river. She took the bait.

Annoyingly, other kids were starting to drag their parents out to the rides. Strawberry, who is only two but still notices things like Other Kids Are Going Where I Want To Go But Mommy Said No, Now It's Time To Whine, started heading towards the door again. We were really at the mall to get her new shoes and as she tugged at my leg I decided that shoe shopping while Puppy was still asleep was not a bad idea, so we headed out. Strawberry ran straight to a dilapidated ride that resembled an ice cream truck in a horror movie and climbed in. I checked the time on my phone and decided I'd give her five minutes, max, before we headed to a store.

There was another mother there, also watching her kid climb all over the rides while never actually saying the forbidden words, "Do you want me to put in a quarter and make it go?" Puppy was stirring in the baby carrier and I absently played with his foot while keeping one eye on Strawberry and trying to remember which shoe store was closer.

I had just decided that I might as well hike across the mall to the store I figured we'd have the most luck at when the other mom to my right said something, and I panicked when I realized she had directed her comment at me.

"WHAT?" I started, in a voice loud enough to probably scare off most people.  I silently cursed my unintentional abrasiveness. The brave mother calmly plunged on.

"I said, these are great sippy cups, aren't they?" She held up her kid's sippy cup, which was the same as ours.

"Oh, yes. The sippy cup. They're great," I floundered.

"We went through so many before we found these. They're the only ones that truly don't leak!"

"Yeah. No leaks. I mean, we had a lot of cups before, too. That leaked. These don't leak. They're great."

The mother's smile slowly froze on her face. I tried to smile back to show her that, see, I am a normal person, just a little tired from dragging two young kids around the mall before noon. It must have been a mortally offensive expression I gave her because she turned around and moved closer to her child.

I gritted my teeth. Really, I just wanted to grab my kid and run away but then I figured someone would call 911 to report what looked like a kidnapping, so I moved towards Strawberry. "One more minute, then we will go look for new shoes."

"One minute new shoes," she agreed as she continued pushing random buttons. I zoned out, wondering if I should stop to get ice cream on the way to the shoe store. I noticed the woman from before grab her child's hand, causing him to protest, then start hauling him away. She shot a look in my direction. That's when I realized that what I called "zoning out" looked very much like I had been giving her child a murderous glare.

I am so very bad a social interactions.

Friday, April 4, 2014

And Now, Elephant

Strawberry loves elephants. I can't blame her, elephants are cool. No one messes with elephants unless they're supremely dumb or have a death wish, elephants are super intelligent, sometimes bury their dead, all sorts of cool things. Like in a parallel universe I'd love to get a degree in something sciencey (you see how well I have thought this out) and then travel to Africa and study elephants, where all the animals would love me and never try to kill me. Strawberry has inherited my admiration of elephants and owns elephant figurines, elephant Duplos, etc. She loves them.

The other day I felt obliged to pack up the kids and go somewhere. The sun was kind of out and we needed a change of scenery. I dragged everyone down to the parking garage, loaded up the carseats, and then tapped the steering will contemplatively with my finger as I waited for the garage door to open. I didn't really want to hit up the mall again, and it seemed dumb to drive to one of the nearby parks. Then I remembered that earlier, Strawberry had been singing a farm song I now automatically tuned out because of how often I heard it.

"Strawberry, today we are going to a farm!" I declared as I turned onto the road and Strawberry chirped, "Oh yeah, a farm!"

"On the farm we can see sheep, and goats, and cows and chickens," I continued, trying to be a Good Mom by getting her hyped up.

"Seep an goat an cow!" she repeated. "And a ticken! MMM!"

So maybe there was a tiny hole in my plan, but never mind. We're lucky enough to live about twenty minutes away from a farm that's part of a city's park. It used to be a real, working farm, but instead of bulldozing over it as the city expanded they incorporated it into their park system and keep a fair amount of animals and pastures open to the public. Parents are there with their toddlers all the time, for obvious reasons.

We pulled into the parking lot. Puppy was calm and looked around with interest, rather than scorn, as I loaded him into our Ergo baby carrier. Strawberry looked up and noticed a hawk chilling on the streetlight next to our car. This was A Good Plan, I thought to myself. We are out and the kids will have fun because this is one of those Important Enrichment Experiences all those child development books and websites talk about. My mood became even more optimistic when we entered the playground near the farm, I let Strawberry out of her stroller and she began happily running after ducks.

After a few minutes of causing ducks to retreat into a creek, I pointed Strawberry towards the farm buildings. She ran ahead of me as Puppy gnawed on the baby carrier straps. "Oh, iz a seep!" she exclaimed as three sheep munched on some grass near the edge of the fence. Two, clearly used to tiny primates screaming at them, kept on calmly eating. The third, a greyish fluffy fellow, looked wary and moved away as Strawberry jumped up and down yelling something nonsensical.

There were also rabbits, and rabbit butts. 

A rooster was crowing, and Strawberry ran towards the sound. We entered the chicken coop area and she danced around singing, "A ticken! A ticken! Coo doo doo doo!" Thankfully, she did not ask to eat them. After a few minutes she suddenly turned to me and said, "And now, elephant!"

I froze. "What? Elephant?"

"Yeah. Da elephant!"

"Oh...Strawberry...there are no elephants here. This is a farm."

Clearly, by the wide-eyed looked she gave me, she had no idea what I was talking about. I had brought her to a place with animals. Elephants were animals. Where were the elephants?! All those farm books and farm songs that never mentioned elephants meant nothing. Nothing.

I panicked and exclaimed, a bit too loudly going by the look another wandering mother gave me, "Let's see the COW now! A cow! See, cow!"

Strawberry ran to the fence and looked at the big brown cow in the pasture. My relief only lasted a second, as the next thing out of her mouth was, "Gentle pets da cow?"

"I'm sorry, Strawberry. We can't give the cow gentle pets. She is busy eating."

I got the same wide-eyed stare in return. "Gentle pets da cow?"

"...Let's go see the PIGS now! Pigs! Oink, oink, oink! Right?"

Parents of toddlers can never quite win.

Monday, March 17, 2014

And Now, the First Post

As you may have noticed, this is a blog. I have always liked writing. In 7th grade I spent the entire year penning The Greatest Story I'd Ever Written, which was a horrid combination of Pokemon and Animorphs. Truth. Thankfully, as far as I know it's long disappeared into whatever ether the rest of my things from my room went the minute I left for college (thanks, Mom). Anyway, I'm finally dragging myself out of the 90s and into the 2010s with an oh-so-not-unique mommy blog. Hello, 2010s.