Thursday, May 29, 2014

One Word!

Alex's two year appointment looms on the horizon, and I am anxious for the developmental questions.  I remember at Andy's two year appointment, they asked me if he could stack six blocks.  To which I immediately thought, "Blocks!  Damn!  Blocks!  I FORGOT ALL ABOUT BLOCKS."  I answered, tentatively, yes, and then shuttled Andy back home where I managed to dig up six blocks and command him to stack them.  Which, thankfully, he could, otherwise I would have had to live with a huge lie weighing on my conscious.

The nurses are totally going to ask me about Alex's speech.  At fifteen months, they asked me how many words he could string together.  The answer to that riddle was zero.  Capital Z, Zero.  Nothing.  Now, at almost two years old, Alex says words, but only one at a time, unless you count "all done," which I'm pretty sure Alex considers to be one compound word.  Alldone.

The thing is, Alex's one word has lately tended towards the concise, the brief, the somewhat accurate.  He will say one word and one word only, but that one word speaks volumes as to what he means.  Here are some examples.

"Sausage."  The kid says "sausage" a lot in the morning.  "Sausage" means:  Hey, lady.  I want some breakfast.  Some pancakes, sausage, and fruit.  I will eat the sausage and fruit and I will look disdainfully at the pancakes for about two seconds before I pronounce "Alldone."

"Help."  As in, "Help.  This toy is not working the way the manufacturer intended.  What are the recommended ages for this damn thing anyway?"

"iPad."  The command of "iPad" is always followed by patting me on the chest and adding, "Mama."  This means, "I'd like to use the iPad but I need your assistance."  Hey, wait a minute.  Does this count as stringing words together???

"Milk."  I'm f-cking tired.  Put some milk in that bottle type thing we've fooled ourselves into thinking is a cup and put me in my damn crib.

"Park."  Hey, let's go the park.  Watch me fly down the slide as if it's buttered and land on my ass in the dirt and cry.

"Andy."  Where did Andy go?  I need someone to pinch.

"Teddy."  Or "Mumma."  Or "Puppy."  or "Lion."  or "Ball."  These are the items that must be in the crib.  Fetch them, please.

"Ayya."  This is how Alex says Alex.  Ayya.  I can't wait until he finds out his name is actually Alexander.  Ayya-anda?

"Airplane."  Did you see that up in the sky?  It's an airplane.  Yep, there it goes.  Airplane.

"Poo-poo."  This one can be misleading.  Does it mean he's already gone or he has to go?  Tread lightly if you hear this one.  Don't make assumptions, assumptions only make an ass out of you and umptions.

"Up."  Pick me up because I need something and I can't tell you what I need, you have to guess.  Fun game! Let's start with the pantry and go from there.

"Door."  Somebody shut the damn door and I can't get out.  Who closed this door?  Was it me?  Crap. Open this door!!!!

"Me!"  This is my favorite.  Whenever I start a question with "Who...?", Alex chimes in "Me!"  Who wants to play a game?  Who wants a cookie?  Sometimes I mix it up for fun.  Who wants a plate of green beans? Who wants to go straight to bed?  Who wants to adopt Max and Ruby since they're obviously orphans?

"Mama."  And this means everything.  Mama.  Where are you?  Mama.  I need you.  Mama.  I just woke up.  Mama.  I'm hungry.  Mama.  Let's play.  Mama.  I fell down.  Mama.  Put my socks on.  Mama.  Sit next to me.  Mama.  Make my two year appointment with doctor.  Mama, I promise we will pass the quiz.  I will get most of the development questions exactly right.  Mama, the one word thing is normal.



My smart little guy.  But seriously, if you could start using two words in a row, that would be great.  Now let's stack some blocks.

Friday, May 23, 2014

School's Out For Summer!

Andy had his last day of three year old preschool yesterday, and with that we slammed shut another chapter of their young lives. Since I am switching Andy to another preschool next year (per Andy's request, as my number one personality trait seems to be "caves to the whim of a three year old"), we will no longer be hanging at the local park district two days a week.  And since Alex will also be in two year old preschool, my youngest buddy and I will no longer do those park district things we did while Andy was in class.  No more kids' "museum," no more parent-tot gym class, no more nonsensically riding the elevator up, dropping two handfuls of dried cranberries all over the elevator carpeting, and then holding hands and slowly taking the stairs back down.

It's enough to choke this mommy up a little.

But, instead of getting all teary-eyed about the transition of things, I'm trying instead to focus on how wonderful I intend for this summer will be.  Since my baby-sitting gig from last post THANKFULLY GOT CANCELED (the mom flew back to get her kids, thus concluding the two loudest, messiest, naughtiest days of my life), it's just me and my boys all day, every day.  Sometimes Daddy may or may not make an appearance.  We have parks to explore, bodies of water to safely emerge ourselves into, and melted popsicle puddles to frantically wipe off the floors before the ants descend.  We have the promise of sunscreen, cold drinks, and complaining about all of the sweat pooling into our bra.  Not that my boys wear bras.  But maybe their sweat will pool in a different place.

Here are a couple places that you will not find us this summer.

Any deeply wooded area that makes me immediately think of:  ticks, poison ivy, dead corpses left to rot.

In line at the ice cream truck.  What kind of fool do you take me for?

On any sort of relaxing, margaritas-on-the-beach type vacation.  D'oh.

On a boat.  I don't know, I guess I'm just not a boat person.

Fishing.  My childhood was ALMOST ruined by going fishing too much.  I'm talking THIS close.

Six Flags.  It's not even the money, it's the gosh darn LINES.  But it's also the money.

Camping.  Same deal as fishing, only much more disgusting.

Taste of Chicago.  As much as I enjoy buying and trading tickets for food, eating for sport, and big sweaty crowds, I'm going to have to take a pass this year.  And the last ten years.  And the next thirty.

Now that I've got that out of the way, let the summer commence.  Congratulations Andy to a successful year of three year old preschool (I believe the certificate says "participant" on it), and Alex, you had quite the non-school school year as well.  I did my best to keep us busy, and you've grown so much these past nine months. Now let's blink back those tears of joy and get on with it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mommy Jackie's Daycare!

When I quit my job to stay home with my kids, I lamented that we'd be giving up my income.  To this lamentation, everyone seemed to have the same response:  "Why don't you take in a couple kids and run a day care?"  This question is posed as if it's a no-brainer.  Why WOULDN'T I want to take in some strange kids and be stuck in my house all day and be responsible for the safety and entertainment and disciplining of a group of toddlers?  Why wouldn't I want to divide my attention between my own kids and somebody else's?  Why wouldn't I want to wipe not just two asses but perhaps four asses or five asses or A SEEMINGLY INFINITE NUMBER OF ASSES?  Why wouldn't I want to basically eradicate all the joy of being home with my two sons by ruining it with other children?

Seriously, I'd probably rather just go back to an office job and stick my kids in a proper daycare.

Flash forward to one week ago.  Lately Chris and I have been blowing through money like we're the goddamn Rockefellers.  We agreed to redo our floors downstairs, which took care of our tax return money, but then a whole bunch of other expenses just popped up out of nowhere.  A leaky roof.  License plate renewals.  Cell phone upgrades.  The Easter bike for Andy (admittedly the best $100 we've ever spent on this kid, but still $100).  Car maintenance.  The list goes on.  I asked Chris in the morning, "Should I find a part time job?"  Just a little something to help bridge the gap better.  I know I will have to find some sort of job sooner or later, but then that afternoon rolled around and there came a knock at my door.

The man across the street is watching his grandkids for six weeks and needs some help once or twice a week while he is at work.  He asked if I would watch them once or twice a week (just once or twice a week!), and I said that I would.  The price we agreed on is fair, I think, and it will give us some extra spending cash for the summer.

Now.  The first paragraph of reasons not to watch kids in my own home still stands true.  First of all, though, it's the neighborly thing to do.  And the situation being presented is unique in that it is only once or twice a week (can I stress that enough?) for only six weeks.  It's like part time contract work.  The girls involved are good ages- one is just a little younger than Andy and seems very sweet, and the other is a non-crawling baby.  If the younger one was Alex's age, I would have probably slammed the door in my neighbor's face without even letting him continue.  Because, let's face it, toddlers are a nightmare and drive me to drink.  But I can assure you never during the day time especially while watching other people's kids!

When my neighbor rang the bell, the following things were going on in my house.

1.  Neither Andy or Alex was wearing any pants.
2.  Alex's forehead scab from an outdoors accident was bleeding just a tiny bit, as to indicate a lack of care.
3.  I had just microwaved a couple of White Castle sliders, and the whole house stank a little of steamed beef.
4.  Toys were everywhere.
5.  Andy pushed Alex pretty hard, and Alex was sobbing as to indicate that I in no way have my children under control.
6.  Andy saw that we had company and immediately announced, "Look!  I'm growing hair on my legs!" as to indicate that we sit around the house just in our undies talking about puberty all day.

And yet my neighbor still went through with asking for the favor.

I do think that, while certainly no walk in the park, watching the girls will be manageable and even enjoyable.  I'm not at all concerned with the three year old, but I do think it will be interesting to have a new baby in the house again with changing diapers, doing bottle feedings, and getting her down for naps all while having Alex pull on my legs and beg, "Up!  Up!  UP!"  Let's just say that that part will be... challenging.  But maybe watching these kids will cure me of daydreaming of having another baby myself.  OR maybe I will get cocky about the whole thing and say to Chris, "Shit.  I can handle FOUR KIDS.  Now I want TWO MORE."

Of course, that would just be insanity.

Wish me luck on this short term (just once or twice a week!) endeavor!  If I never post again on this blog, it's because I've been buried alive by crying children.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What I Want For Mother's Day!

1.  Cash is fine.

2.  I definitely want to sleep in.  This is hopefully a no-brainer, sweet husband of mine, but that means that once you get the kids downstairs, you also have to make sure to lock the child gate at the top of the stairs so they can't sneak up after you fall asleep on the couch.  Lock the gate. For God's sake.  And my bedroom door.  And maybe don't forget to feed them breakfast.  Andy likes anything with sugar in it.

3.  It would be nice to not have to change a single diaper or wipe any butts, but I know that's probably not super realistic.  So how about I'm just off duty for anything explosive.  That seems fair, right?

4.  I really don't want to clean anything, either.  But that doesn't mean that things should just go without being cleaned for the day.  Please clean in a satisfactory manner.  Sweep after every meal so we don't get ants.  You have to sweep pretty much right away, even as you're wiping the last bits of sugary breakfast from the boys' mouths.  So don't dilly dally too much and make sure you check the corners by the cabinets... Move the chairs, too. There's a dust pan in the closet.  Oh forget it, I'll just do the sweeping.

5.  As far as actual presents, I really do want the crappy handmade stuff.  Don't forget to have the boys draw or paint something for me.  Don't forget!  Also, please do not waste money on the following items: Greeting cards.  Flowers.  Candy.  Instead, you can go out and pick us up McDonalds breakfast since it's pretty much my favorite.  And when you order my Egg McMuffin, say "No Canadian bacon" as opposed to "No meat" because sometimes if you say "No meat" they hear "No cheese" and not having any cheese on my breakfast sandwich would PRETTY MUCH RUIN THE WHOLE DAY.

6.  I do not want breakfast in bed.  I want it at the table, like a civilized human being.  Not only do I not want my bed covered in crumbs and chunks of rotting food, but it's really difficult to sit up and eat in bed.  Just give me a chair at the table please.  And then I'll do the sweeping afterwards.

7.  Let's have a nice day with minimal yelling at the kids.  Let's create some goddamn memories.

8.  I want the kids to go to bed on time, by 7:15, and then I'd like my favorite bottle of wine (any bottle that's full of wine) and to lounge around watching my movie of choice.  I suppose I get that most nights, but especially on Mother's Day.  If Andy starts yelling for us because Alex is standing up in his crib flicking the light switch on and off in a sort of light switch rave, I am off duty and that's not my problem.

9.  I do want lots of hugs and kisses from my two adorable boys all day long.  I want cuddles and playing and big smiles and giggles.  That is a must, of course.

10.  But otherwise, cash is fine.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Alex The Chairman!

I put Alex's high chair in the basement last week.  Wait a minute, I don't have a basement.  I put Alex's high chair under the stairs last week, wedging that damn thing in and creating a tight, Tetris like fit between the chair, the vacuum cleaner, and one small box of shoes.  Now nothing else will fit in the basement, I mean under-the-stair-nook, and so the next baby-item Alex outgrows will simply have to be repurposed into some sort of functional piece of furniture that can just remain out in the house.  I'm looking at you, diaper changing table that will soon be my wine and potato chip rack.

My little boy, sans high chair, looking
infuriatingly adorable.
Alex outgrew the high chair a month or two ago, screeching at even the sight of it and always running full speed to one of the actual chairs whenever I announced that a meal was ready.  He had decided himself that the high chair is for babies, and he is no longer a baby.  He is a big boy just like his brother.  This is extremely annoying considering I kept Andy in that high chair until past two and a half and Alex, at twenty-two months, had me storing the high chair, in all its food caked glory, in our under-the-stair-nook.  It's difficult feeding a toddler who will not let you strap him into a seat.  He just GETS UP AND WALKS AROUND whenever he feels like it.  He drops and smears food all over the place.  Sometimes, he'll be eating a meal, and he'll just decide that he'd also like some Play-Doh- and so he'll just climb off his chair and go get some.  No, Alex.  We're eating beef right now.  Beef and Play-Doh is a huge no go.

It was weird putting the high chair away.  I felt a little verklempt. That high chair has been a part of our kitchen for the last three and a half years.  And now it's just... gone.  If you look at my kitchen, you don't immediately think "Oh, this kitchen contains within it the joy of a small baby!"  I mean, sure, you might think something close to that, such as "Oh, this kitchen contains within it the stench of a half-filled GoGurt tube some rotten little boy stuck in the heating vent!"  I mean, I guess that's close enough.  But it's not the same.  I have kids now.  I don't have a baby anymore.

Alex has transformed from my little baby straight into my little boy, with very few stops along the way.  He is my rough and tumble athlete.  He prefers his Spiderman pajamas above all others.  He likes to hold hands and walk, not necessarily to be carried.  He throws himself down the slide at the park with wild abandon, his little feet sticking up in the air as he sails down.  He scribbles with markers and brings me pretend dinners from his play kitchen.  He tries very hard to ride Andy's tricycle; he pushes elevator buttons with a sense of authority that most would agree belong to a child of a much older age, such as two.

And so now I wonder when he will climb out of his crib.  I feel like that is the next step on Alex's journey. This is why I am sending Chris to Menards after work today, to buy a whole lot of lumber as to construct much higher crib walls.  I don't think I'm emotionally prepared to put that crib away yet.  Also, there's no room for it under the stairs, so I will probably just have to stick wine and potato chips in that thing, too.

I guess that doesn't sound SO bad....