Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Andy's Wedding!

There are some moments in life that feel like memories even before you're done actually living through them.  They get crystallized and stored away into the folds of your brain while they're happening.  It's almost like you get robbed of the actual experience, because it's already over and done with while it's occurring, and you can clearly hear an older version of yourself talking about it somewhere down the road.  In this instance, I am an old lady in the home (not MY home, but THE home), and my grandson Andy Junior is sitting before me trying to mask his boredom while I drone on and on about how his father was such a cute ring bearer at Andy Junior's Great-Aunt Beth's wedding.  "And he was just so darling in his tuxedo," I'm telling Andy Junior.  "Even if he did spill soup all over it during dinner."

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see Andy's full journey down the aisle, because I was tucked into my row at the church and there were too many people blocking my view.  Aside from that, Andy is two, and short.  But, when I did finally get a glimpse of my little boy, he was holding the hand of his stoic co-ring bearer and basically pulling him forward.  And the look on his face- pure Andy.  Excited, semi-alarmed, looking for Mommy, thinking about pancakes.

And, despite what you may have heard, Andy did a good job at church and at the reception.  Rambunctious?  Sure.  Outside voice indoors?  Yeah, maybe.  Not able to sit still?  Well, he's two.  Running around like a crazy person until 10:30 at night and partying like it was 1999?  Well, they do say two thousand zero zero, party over, oops, out of time.  So, there you have it.

I know it was not MY child getting married, so who am I to feel this way, but I'm all too cognizant of how quickly time is starting to go by.  I know Andy's only two and Alex is still an infant, but there are some days when the moments feel so fleeting and I feel like I'm losing them before I even really have them.  Andy is already such a little man.  I watch him navigate the world around him and interact with other children, and my heart breaks a little as I see the tiniest slivers of innocence get peeled away.  No, Andy, not every kid will want to be your friend.  No, Andy, not every piece of candy is for you.  And, no, Andy, other families do not want you in their pictures.  So, if you see a camera, don't just automatically jump in the shot and say "Cheeeeese."

And, Alex, most likely my last baby- can I please just keep you at this snuggly,  cooing, gummy smile age forever?

Anyway, now I'm just getting melancholy for no good reason when I should be rejoicing in the wonderfulness of the here and now.  That's always been a problem for me, just being and enjoying the present.  I hope that's not a trait my kids will inherit from me.  Because if you're running around the wedding reception giggling like a lunatic and just having the time of your life- then, Andy, own it and enjoy it.  But please do have a little more soup, because your mother fears that your blood sugar may be dropping.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Grocery Shopping!

Very few things in life are as difficult as grocery shopping with a two year old and a baby.

The looks I get at the grocery store match up neatly with the life spectrum.  If you are looking at me and are older and/or a parent, you smile at me with pity and comradeship.  If you are younger and are carrying a basket (a basket!) full of cheeses and wine while talking on your cell phone, you raise your eyebrows at me in disapproval.  You twenty-something yuppies in your pre-24 American cheese product slices stage just simply can't relate to the likes of me.  Perhaps you fear becoming me.  Well, keep drinking that wine on date night, accept that proposal, and before you know it- YOU WILL BE ME.  Only not as skinny.

Even though it's a disaster every single time, I still insist on doing my grocery shopping during the week with both kids.  Sure, I could eat up my free time on the weekends with getting the nuggets or go at ten at night like some lunatic, but no.  If I'm a stay at home mom, then I'm doing this during the "work week," as it were, and I'm hoping EVERY SINGLE TIME that somehow, this week will turn out better.  And yet, I know in advance, before even pulling into the store parking lot, how it will go.

- Andy will insist on getting the cart with the car attached to the front, and I will cave in.

- The baby carrier doesn't fit as well on those carts for some reason since clearly the car carts were designed by a childless sadist, and so Alex will be at an uncomfortable angle literally ready to slide out of his seat the entire time.

- Andy will ride happily in the car part for about three minutes, cheerfully calling out "Beep Beep!" in such a contented manner that he will FOOL ME into thinking that maybe THIS TIME will be different.

- Three minutes and one second in, and Andy's declaring, "Andy WALK!" while jumping out of the moving cart.

- Three minutes and two seconds in, and I'm pulling out my not so secret weapon, a packet of fruit snacks, to bribe him into staying put for another thirty seconds.  My secret weapon is, of course, filled with sugar, so like any good secret weapon in literature or film, totally backfires on me, as he enters hyper-child stage at precisely four minutes into our trip, when I have only managed to fill the cart with three bananas and one bag of lettuce.  Man cannot sustain himself on bananas and lettuce only.  We power on.

- After the fruit snacks have been devoured, Andy is out and walking, which means I am left to push the gigantic car cart without even having the benefit of Andy riding in it.  Have you ever pushed one of those car carts?  They handle like you would think they would.  Again, designed by sadists.

- Alex starts fussing, since he's just about ready to fall out onto the floor.  I make adjustments, stick his binky in his mouth, and whisper a hasty apology as I notice Andy taking a bite out of a pear.

-  Andy gets his first time out of the shopping trip.  This kid is not fazed by time outs in the store.  He sits on the floor amongst the Jello boxes and instant rice just like he would at home while I pretend to ignore him in true time out fashion, looking over at him only when I hear him call out "Hello!" to a passing stranger, just to make sure that passing stranger doesn't look like a pedophile.

- This is about the time Alex takes a crap, and I tell myself that he's just going to have to wait until we're home for a change.  I'm. So. Sorry. Alex.

- Andy's out of his first time out, and then he's off and running towards the juice aisle yelling, "Bye Bye Mommy!"

- I track down Andy and give him a stern talking to.  He seems to understand.

- Then we're getting down to serious shopping.  Andy's tossing various items into the shopping cart and I'm trying my best to toss the items right back out.  Organic, gluten free, all-natural $4.99 Apple Crisps?  No, Andy.  We're a Pringles family.  Generic Pringles.  Safeway-ingles.

- I give Andy another time out due to touching all the food too much.  I try to tell myself that the smell wafting out of Alex's diaper could be a lot worse.

- After the second time out, Andy's no longer interested in shopping and will spend a few minutes on the floor of the yogurt aisle sobbing that he wants to go home.  After I manage to console him, he stands up, looks at me with his sad dark eyes and proclaims, "Uppies."  "Andy," I say, "You can either walk or sit in the cart, but I cannot carry you."

- Fast forward two minutes later when I am one-handedly pushing the shopping cart with the car attached with the infant carrier precariously balanced over the seat section while holding my two year old who has started also demanding more fruit snacks. Which he'd prefer to eat while being held.

- After about forty minutes, we are shoving our way through the check out lane, where Andy proudly hands over his Matchbox car to the cashier WHICH I AM BUYING HIM FOR "BEING GOOD."

- After getting both kids and all the food in the car, I spend the ten minute ride home lecturing Andy on everything that went wrong while he gives vague replies, which I only semi-hear over the sound of Alex wailing for a little attention and a clean diaper.

Today was particularly bad.  I was sweating right through all my clothes while Andy created scene after scene and I did my best to try and discipline/ calm him down while also getting my shopping done as quickly as possible.  A slightly older woman stopped me in the frozen foods aisle, where Andy had collapsed next to the ice cream and started throwing a tantrum.  "He's cute," she told me.  "I know he's being naughty- but he's such a cute little boy."

I smiled tightly at her in response, mumbled something to the tune of "I know," and went to retrieve my kid, who I had to carry for the rest of the outing.

So, shopping is not always great.  Oh, it's hellish.  But tonight, after both boys are asleep and it's easy to imagine that I'm doing a great job at this parenting thing, I wonder if maybe that older woman had grown kids or teenagers and saw something wistful in Andy's tantrum.  Like maybe she actually missed these days I'm in, with these two little guys, who can be so very naughty and difficult but also are ever so cute- and maybe she was trying to tell me something.

Or maybe she just wanted me to move my damn kid so she could get into the freezer case without stepping on him.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Alex Loves Andy!

And Andy's okay with Alex, too.

Andy's demonstrations of love towards Alex are more of the give-the-baby-something-inappropriate variety, such as when I caught Andy cramming a goldfish cracker into Alex's open, grinning mouth. "Noooo!" I shouted, heroically leaping over the couch and tucking and rolling until I could reach the offending cracker and pluck it out of my four month old's slobbery little mouth. "Do NOT give the baby food," I scolded Andy. "Do you remember why Alex can't eat food?"

Andy nodded solemnly and replied, "Teeth." I have tried to ingrain the fact that Alex can't eat because he has no teeth into Andy's head. I know that Andy gets this, but I guess he just wanted to see what would happen. On a side note, Andy thinks the reason that Alex cannot do many other things also has to do with Alex's lack of dental parts.

"Can Alex go to preschool today?"

"No. Teeth!"

"Can Alex play with one of your cars?"

"No. Teeth."

Andy is, however, starting to offer Alex various toys to play with. Today, Andy gave Alex the beak part of a chicken costume we have, saying "Here Alex!" while Alex looked down, puzzled, at the plastic beak. Andy also explains TV shows to Alex. "Alex, Caillou," he says, as if making introductions.

Also, if Alex is not in the immediate vicinity, Andy will ask where Alex is. "Mommy, Alex?" Andy asked, cocking his head to show concern. I had left a sleeping Alex in his car seat in the kitchen yesterday after returning home from the library. To have a little fun with Andy, I mimed being shocked and upset and said, "Oh no! Did we leave Alex at the library?" Andy instantly became frazzled and went to hunt out his little brother, finding him near the refrigerator and shouting out, "Mommy, Alex HERE!" Which of course woke up the baby, so there's yet another lesson I've learned. Don't make finding Alex into a game.

Alex obviously adores his big brother. Alex has taken to giggling at his big brother rather joyously. It's clear that Alex finds big headed, schmoopy Andy just as funny as the rest of us do. Even when Andy is doing something decidedly unfunny, such as emptying a full glass of water directly into Alex's pack and play.

Alex even smiles at Andy when Andy brushes Alex's hair. If you've ever survived the pleasure of having Andy roughly and repeatedly bash a hairbrush into your skull, you understand that this is not an event that might make an average, sane person smile. But Alex digs it, soaking up the big brother love whenever and however he can get it.

So, it's beginning- a beautiful, somewhat harmful love between the two brothers. When Alex sprouts a tooth, though- watch out. Andy's going to assume little Allie can do EVERYTHING.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Andy BUS!

Andy was a bus for Halloween. We (Chris) transformed a diaper box, some yellow wrapping paper, and a handful of craft supplies into what was arguably the best costume, two year old division, this side of Lake County. By "this side," I mean the wrong side, the side that ISN'T near Lake Michigan. It would be nice if this small tidbit were noted by our tax assessor next spring.

Originally, Andy was going to be Cookie Monster for Halloween, since he does an admirable impression of the crazed blue dude. Then I looked up Cookie Monster costumes online. Forty dollars for some blue fabric with a couple of eyes glued onto a hood? Seriously, what kind of schmucks do the Halloween costume people think we are? I flat out refuse to spend forty dollars on a costume for a two year old, and this is not just because I'm cheap- it's the PRINCIPLE, dammit. Also, I can think of a million better ways to spend forty dollars, including the following:

- Forty boxes of graham crackers from the dollar store, each box containing three individually wrapped, stay-fresh sleeves. Damn, that's a lot of graham crackers!

- Five months of DVD only Netflix service, five months of streaming only Netflix service, or two and a half months of both!

- Approximately nine million paper clips.

- Enough gasoline to get from THIS side of Lake County to the OTHER side of Lake County, have a modest lunch, buy some socks, and then drive home. That's way more excitement than a single Cookie Monster costume can provide. I assume.

Anyway, after I decided that the Cookie Monster costume was not happening, and that I would much rather spend my forty dollars on a combination of crackers, movies, and office supplies, I decided to just ask Andy what he wanted to be for Halloween.

"Andy, what do you want to be for Halloween?"

After a brief moment of thought: "Princess!"

Oh, Christ. I asked him again, "Okay, what's your second choice?"

Andy paused, then yelled, "BUS!"

OF COURSE. Of course Andy should be a bus for Halloween! Immediately, the gears started turning. Diaper box, art supplies, a couple hours of time- done. I was very excited to tell Chris when he got home: Andy was going to be the fricking BUS for Halloween!

I said to Chris, "Guess what! I'm making Andy a bus costume!"

To which Chris replied, "No, you're not."

Chris and I have been together almost ten years. He knows me pretty well. And he knows that I lack attention to detail. Like, in a major way. I am big picture, get it done, let's get this over with. I slap things together, gloss over details, hurry through projects, and flat out tell lies in order to get through questions involving shitty tasks I've worked on.

Chris, to me, about five months ago: "This is a dumb question, but did you paint my office?"

Me, quickly: "No."

Chris: "Because it looks like there are patches of glossy paint over the matte paint, and it looks like someone tried to touch up the wall using the wrong finish."

Me: "I don't know what you're talking about."

Chris: "Am I going crazy? I could swear it wasn't like this yesterday."

Me: "I'm nine months pregnant, why would I paint a wall?"

Chris: "Okay, maybe I'm losing my mind. I'm sorry to accuse you."

Me, after a pause: "Alright, I painted your wall."

Anyway, so Chris immediately took control of the bus project, which is what I was hoping would happen. If I would have made Andy's bus, it might have looked... okay... but it wouldn't have looked... good. Or great, as Chris' bus ended up looking. Chris has incredible attention to detail. This can be an annoying trait since it takes him SOOOO LONG to get things done, but if you're looking for an awesome homemade costume in about ten days, then Chris is clearly your man. By the time Chris was done with Andy's bus, it really looked like a bus. A good bus. A fast bus. The kind of bus you'd actually want to take a ride in, if the driver wasn't two years old and prone to pooping himself.

Andy loved his costume. He loved that the bus had tap lights for headlights and that his costume lit up. He loved that the bus had wheels, that he fit perfect inside of it, and that he felt like he was actually driving it. And it was a hit when Andy went out trick or treating- all three times!

Andy, trick or treating, was adorable. He called out, "Knock knock!" when we approached houses, sometimes remembered to say "Trick or treat," and usually remembered the "thank you." But what was even cuter was later in the evening, when we were at home, and Andy got to hand the candy out to the other kids. He ate his dinner (grilled cheese, followed with a chaser of candy) next to the front door so that he could be ready for the kids. When we opened the door for trick or treaters, Andy was very careful about handing out the candy and dropping two pieces each into the kids' bags, saying, "Here you go!" to each and every person. In fact, he may have liked handing out the candy just as much as wearing the bus and trick and treating. But it's hard to tell with him, that kid's an enigma.

Alex got to be the hot dog, wearing the hot dog costume that Andy wore two years ago for his first Halloween. The hot dog, unfortunately, was not homemade. But it's cute and funny and gave me a better excuse than usual to refer to Alex as a wiener. In two years, when Alex has some strange obsession with conversion vans or rickshaws or whatever mode of transportation he enjoys- then we'll get down to business. For this year, though, the hot dog costume (a reasonable five dollars at Target two years ago), definitely got the job done.

And the job was "precious little wiener."