Sunday, September 30, 2012

Don't Dance While You're Eating Nuts!

If Andy is struggling while I try to change his diaper, I have a secret special tactic that I employ which will instantly change his demeanor.  I smell his feet.  I grab his feet, wrinkle my nose, take an exaggerated whiff, and then react as if I've smelled raw, hot sewage bubbling up from the city grates.  "Oh my God, Andy," I gasp, crossing my eyes and gagging.  "You have the stinkiest feet in all the world!"  Andy rewards me with a full on belly laugh and then will often ask, "More!"  Or, lately, "Two!" which is his request for me to smell both feet at once and act TWICE as sick to my stomach.  "UGH," I'll dry heave.  "Ugh!  Oh man, I had my mouth open that time.  Gross!"  And as Andy laughs harder, I change his diaper quickly, and we are off to enjoy another two hours of playing "Elmo takes a nap" with his Sesame Street play set.  See Andy?  Even Elmo likes to nap!  Good job, Elmo!

I chalk this up to just one of those things that parents do.  We smell our kids' feet (or pretend to) and this act that would have been inconceivable to us in those magical, ten-hours-of-sleep per night years before having kids now seems perfectly normal.  There are a lot of things I never imagined myself doing before Andy came along.  Eating partially chewed food that Andy hands me during dinner as his way of sharing is one of those things.  "Aww, Andy, you want Mommy to try some of what used to be a muffin?  No, that's okay, you eat it.  Oh, you insist?  No, really, I already had my own... What?  Oh, okay.  Mmmm.  Thank you, that was... soggy."

Chris and I construct all kinds of goofy sentences that would never have made any sense in our former, childless life. Chris is particularly good at this, proclaiming, quite seriously, "Don't dance while you're eating nuts" when Andy had almonds for the first time a few weeks ago (which, now that I think about it, I basically partially chewed for him, biting the almonds just enough to break them up before giving them to Andy.  Gee, now this is all coming together for me.) 

I am reaching a point where I think we need to be a little more careful about the things we do and say, though.  Back to the feet smelling.  It's all fine and good when Andy and I have a moment where I sniff his toes and fake passing out.  But then, when we're with other people, and suddenly Andy is bent down on the floor smelling somebody else's socked foot and calling out, "Stinky feet!", well- then I need to remind myself that Andy is two and that the things we do at home are not just the things we do at home.  They are the things that Andy will also do outside the home.  And, surprisingly, not everyone wants to be told their feet smell. 

I've already had that moment- just once- where I've dropped something and instinctively muttered "Shit," only to hear Andy repeating "Shit!" just off to my left.  How do you come back from a moment like that, you ask?  Only by offering, by way of distraction, "Hey, do you want me to smell your feet?  Your TWO feet??"

I also think that I need to stop letting Andy follow me into the bathroom.  During the day, it's impossible to shake that kid, and he is my constant shadow, calling out, "Where are you Mommy?" the very millisecond I exit his line of vision.  If I try to go to the bathroom and shut the door behind me, he is sorrowfully banging on it almost instantaneously, sobbing, "Mommmmmmy!  Andy potty TOOO!"  He doesn't want to USE the potty, though.  He just wants to be with me while I use it.  And so I let him in, and he mills around while I finish up.  Lately, he hands me toilet paper and does my flushing for me.  This alone seems like it's crossing a line and should be reason enough for me to put my foot down once and for all and kick that damn kid out.  But the other day, when he took a peek and muttered "Mommy owwie" and went to fetch sanitary supplies for me from under the sink- well then I realized, OKAY, THINGS HAVE DEFINITELY GONE TOO FAR.  Only, aloud, I just said, quietly, "Thank you, Andy."

So here's what I have- a mission to stop smelling his feet, to most definitely watch my language, and to find some way to go to the potty alone.  Otherwise, I risk raising a weirdo- an even bigger weirdo- who thinks all of these private family things are perfectly normal.  Andy, when you are at preschool, I only hope that you are not sniffing your teachers' feet and following them into the bathroom to assist.  But, oh, yeah, your father's right- don't dance while you're eating nuts.  For real.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sharing a room!

There are three other parents at Andy's preschool who have babies aside from their toddlers.  These are the three people that I've aligned myself with during drop off and pick off times.  We're the Sleepless Four (as I refer to ourselves silently) and today I learned that all of us are having our kids share a room.  I'm one of those people who need to know that other people are just like me in order to feel secure.  This goes back to my childhood, when I was the only girl in kindergarten who wore pants on the first day of school and felt so very alone.  If only my mother had put me in a damn dress.  Or if only, if only, one of those other girls had had the kind of mother who thought jeans, a stained t-shirt, and uncombed hair was an appropriate first day of school outfit for a budding young outcast.  Me and that mystery girl, we would have been best friends forever.  Or until we moved to Tinley.  Where, I might add, I also had to share a bedroom.  What kind of family has a house in which their two girls share a room in Midlothian and then go ahead and buy ANOTHER house in a nicer suburb in which their two girls have to share a room AGAIN?  My family, that's who.  But I digress.

Anyway, the other three parents, they all say that so far, the room sharing has gone just fine.  And, I must admit, so far here at the Berger Barn (as I silently refer to our home), the room sharing between Andy and Alex is also going- just fine.  It's been almost two weeks, and Alex has yet to wake up Andy up with his come-hither whimpers.  Alex is a phenomenal sleeper, though, which helps.  He's been fast asleep for full eight hour stretches, which is a length of time that I personally have not had since July 12, 2010.  I'll let you guess what happened on that particular day.

Andy goes to sleep first.  There are stories, milk, the tuck in, the kisses.  Andy insists that I lay down with him for a few minutes, grabbing my shirt in a tight little fist while he mutters "Wait, mommy," every time I move to get up.  I usually give him about five minutes while he gets increasingly drowsy as we quietly rehash his day.  These are the toys we broke today.  These are the kids we made cry today with our rough but well meaning "tickling."  These are the sugary snacks we had today in increasing order of junkiness.  These are the new words we learned today:  Sticky bun.  Dingleberry.  Toe jam.  Bi-otch.

I leave Andy, grab Alex from Chris, and two hours later, after Alex's last bottle of the evening, I sneak Alex into the crib and then head off to my own bed where I sleep with one ear open until five or six when Alex cries out, "Yo, mommy, my diaper weighs like fifteen pounds!"  Or at least that's what I assume he's trying to say.  Alex spends the last hour or two of the morning in bed with me, Andy wakes up at six or so and plays quietly on the stairs until Chris goes and gets him (the stairs are a safe place for a two year old to play, right?), and then the day gets going.  Breakfast, yelling, a time out or two, then off to preschool, the library, or Aldi where Andy hands me the quarter to rent the cart and is very excited to buy some off-brand cookies.  Or, "Kookies," as they're legally required to call them.

So, the room sharing is going good.  But soon enough, I will be trying to sync their bedtimes and get the two boys down at the same time.  I want to start moving up Alex's bedtime until he's ready for that last bottle around seven, Andy's bedtime.  I fear reading both of them their bedtime stories at the same time, though.  It's very difficult to hold a baby, a two year old, and also turn pages at the same time.  I might even go as far as to say that it just can't be done.  But I'll let you know when we get to that point.  And I'll let you know if Alex enjoys the "Twilight" series as much as Andy seems to.  He's on Team Bella.

As much as I feared the room sharing, it really is just something that families have to do.  And there's four of us at preschool who are managing it just fine.  Sleepless Four unite!  I'll have to ask the other parents how their toddlers and babies do with sharing the cart at Aldi.  At least it's a pretty big cart- plenty of room for a two year old, a baby, and lots and lots of kookies.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thirteen Weeks!

Alex is thirteen weeks old!  If I were returning to work, my maternity leave would have ended last week, and I'd be there right now, staring at my computer and blinking back tears as I wondered if my baby was missing me. Returning to work after Andy was born was beyond heartwrenching, and I'd break into sobs whenever anybody asked me about him.  Granted, this time around, it would probably have been a little easier since I'd gone through it once before, but I know it still would have been rough, and I'm glad that I don't have to do it.

Staying at home is not all smiles and giggles, either.  Not being at work means that I miss out on a lot of "me" time that I don't otherwise get.  Even a brutal commute can be a relaxing venture when you have coffee, Pandora, and a backseat that is empty of screaming children.  There's no leisurely bathroom breaks or lunch hours filled with joyously greasy fast food.  My lunch hour now is standing over the sink stuffing a piece of toast in my mouth while Andy demands a popsicle in lieu of a sandwich.  And I miss my work friends most of all.  I miss the gossip, the laughter, the Seinfeldian conversations about nothing.

But do I miss work itself?  Of course not.  And would I rather be at work than at home?  Hell no.  If my two choices are working mom and at home mom, so far I'm glad that I am currently at home mom.  I love being with my babies and having slow mornings that find me sitting on the sofa around eight thirty, cuddling Alex in my arms while watching Andy choo chooing it up with his trains.  I love that I feel like I am getting to know Andy more and that I'm fully in charge of him now.  I love nap time maybe more than I should, in which Andy naps upstairs in his big boy bed (finally, after way too many weeks of me allowing him to nap on the couch) while Alex dozes in my arms and we watch an episode or two of "Wife Swap" on Lifetime.  Remember "Wife Swap?"  Well, it's back.  In rerun form.

Things are going pretty good.  I'll admit, the first couple weeks after Chris went back to work and it was just me and the boys, I thought that I was going to lose my mind and/or succumb to some minor child abuse.  These children, they really know how to suck the fun out of a day.  But, not even that slowly, we got into a groove, my post-pregnancy hormones adjusted back to normal, and now I might dare to say that I'm loving it.  I also think that Andy is much better behaved now that he's not in day care.  This may be a coincidence aligned with his overall development, and it may also be that I've become stronger with my discipline in the last weeks.  I don't let him get away with the things that he got away with before, and his behavior and my sanity is better for it.  Or, it may be that he really is better off at home than in day care.  Even though now that he's started preschool twice a week, he basically can't wait to leave the house on those special school days.

But I think I'm doing good.  He goes to preschool Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have a mommy and me class on Fridays, Wednesdays we go to the library, and Mondays are our free day for the park or other things that come up.  Every morning we go do something, then we come home, nap and eat, and spend the afternoon doing whatever.  We finally have a rhythm, and it's great.

And, Andy and Alex are now officially sharing a room.  How is that going, you ask, wondering why we don't just put the house for sale and get a bigger one or why Chris doesn't just give up his office and stick his computer in, say, the garage?  Well, it's going just fine so far.  Andy sleeps through Alex waking up. And there's something very sweet about the two of them sleeping together in the same room.

So that's my thirteen week update.  Alex is an amazing baby.  He smiles so much more than I remember Andy smiling, even though I always considered Andy to be a happy baby, too.  Alex is superb at snuggling and incredibly kissable, huggable, and lovable.  Of course now he's screaming for a bottle, so- blog entry, done.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Yesterday, Alex pooped himself to the tenth degree.  I forgot about the kind of poops that ooze both down the legs and up the back.  I must have been visibly frazzled as I cleaned him up because Andy approached me, cocked his head, and asked, "You okay?"

"I'm okay, Andy," I replied, smiling at his concern.

Andy cocked his head further, furrowed his brow, and asked, "Poo poo?"

"Yes, Andy, Alex made a lot of poo poo," I replied.

Andy nodded in sympathy.  Here it was, yet another one of our conversations initiated by Andy and demonstrative of his understanding of the world around him.

You okay?

Poo poo?

I get the feeling Andy will be repeating those two inquiries quite a bit in the coming months.


Andy was the mayor of Target yesterday, walking alongside the cart and saying "Hello!" to every person we happened upon during our journey down the aisles.  "Hello!  Hi!  Hello!"  He waved at everyone, and it was the first time ever I have been greeted with nothing but a sea of smiling strangers during a shopping trip.  When Andy's around, everyone's day gets just a little bit brighter.  Unless he's tired, hungry, or has recently been told "no."  Then, forget it.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Free Preschool!

I take the boys to the park at least two mornings per week.  There are two parks in my neighborhood, but there are never any kids at either one.  I can't take Andy to a park without children; then I get roped into actually having to interact him as opposed to just sitting on a bench with the baby, which is the vision I'd constructed for myself when I first dreamed up the life of Stay At Home Mom. The vision of Stay At Home Mom involved me doing lots of sitting, and I have to say I'm disappointed in the actual amount of sitting I get to do, because the numbers aren't exactly adding up in my favor.  So, if there are no kids around, I have to go down the slide, crawl through the tunnels, and assist in batting away all the bees.  I can tell you, I'm not interested in doing any of this.  Plus, I really am no fun, and Andy grows tired of me after a short time.  He squints off into the sun and asks forlornly, "Friends?"

To solve this problem, I found two parks that usually have kids at them.  Both require a ten minute drive, which is fine, since that's ten extra minutes of sitting I can count on.  The first is Park District A.  This park's pretty good.  There's usually a handful of other kids there, and it's not nearly as bee infested as the ones in our neighborhood.  These are two good qualities in a park.  The other park, Park District B, is the park I really hit the jackpot with, though.  This park is shaded, fenced in, right near the Metra line, and across the street from a school or bus depot or something that always has a parking lot filled with yellow school buses.  The passing choo-choos and yellow buses would be enough to make this Park Of The Year in Andy's book- but it gets even better.  This park is always jam packed with kids because the park district has day care and preschool classes that come outside to play in it.  It's kid heaven.

I feel like a sucker for actually paying for Andy's upcoming preschool experience since he's basically been getting free preschool at Park District B.  I caught onto the schedule pretty quick and have seamlessly helped insert Andy into the two year old class that comes out every day at 9:30 to play.  We get there around 9:20 and play idly for about ten minutes, trying to act as casual as possible, as if our presence at that particular time is just mere coincidence.  The two year old day care group rolls out at 9:30.  There are about fifteen kids and three teachers.  At least the original group is fifteen kids- after Andy joins their line, there's sixteen.

Andy runs and plays with all the two year olds and has become such a part of their class that the teachers all know his name.  "Look, friends!" the teacher might say without a detectable trace of sarcasm, "It's our new friend, Andy!"  Andy will edge closer to the teacher, look up, and reply, "Yellow bus.  Big yellow bus.  Up and down.  Beep beep!"  Up and down refers to what the people on the bus do.  You know, they go up and down, up and down.

He has his favorite friends there- a cute little peanut of a boy named Quincy that Andy enjoys hugging and kissing, even if Quincy's body language reveals that he's not as interested in all this PDA as Andy is.  There's another kid, Colton, who does not speak but only growls.  I kind of like that Colton kid- his growls are very expressive.  And then there's Madison, whom Andy seems to think is cute, but is more attracted to baby Alex.  The first of many girls who will prefer the brother who doesn't prefer her, I'm sure.  Madison stands very close to me when I am holding Alex.  So close that I have knocked her over on accident a few times while backing up or stepping forward, unaware that she was lurking in my shadow.  The teachers at the preschool have rolled with this.  Park District B really hired some flexible, nice young ladies- teachers who are very accepting of a rambunctious boy who joins their class, uninvited and unpaid, for half hour a day and that rambunctious boy's mother who offers a smile that is only marginally apologetic when she knocks over one of the paying kids.

The last time we were having Free Preschool Time, though, Andy may have gone a little too far.  The teachers brought out Kleenex and juice for the kids.  I lost track of Andy for a few minutes only to discover him sitting on the bench, drinking their juice and wiping his face with about six Kleenexes.  "Andy!" I hissed, running over and pushing little Madison down in my haste. "That's not your juice!  Or your Kleenex!  Stop that!"  Andy's response was a look of confusion.  I could almost hear him ask, "Well, gee Mom, am I part of this preschool or not??"

The answer is no, Andy.  We are merely squatters during play time.  We have no right to the juice or Kleenex.

Soon it will no longer be park weather, though,and I will have to find another group of kids for Andy to horn in on when the preschool deems it too cold to come out and play.  The library works pretty good for that, although at the library, Andy tends to butt his way into families, which seems slightly more unacceptable than an organized group of unrelated children.  He becomes a family's third child before they're even aware of what's going on, and is quick to grab puzzle pieces from one of their kids while simultaneously referring to the father as "Daddy."

Oh well.  We probably have at least another six weeks or so of park weather, anyway.  I will bring my own juice and Kleenex for the next class.