Monday, January 30, 2012

My Other Car is a Hotel

When I told people I was going camping this past weekend, the most common response was "So who's watching the kids?"

As if camping and kids don't mix.

As if kids don't dig dirt and trees and rocks and hiking and running and playing. And dirt. Did I mention dirt? I think kids really like dirt.

And my kids really love camping.

When we first arrived, Bjorn grabbed his dump truck and shovel and spent two hours shoveling dirt from end of the campsite to the other. Peanut had all her toys laid out in a row on a 9 foot x 20 foot mat and literally rolled from one end to the other, grabbing teething rings and tagged blankets as she went.

They entertained themselves. With no Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Lightning McQueen. With no bouncy magic chair or tummy time playmat.

They entertained themselves the way God and Mother Nature intended. By eating rocks.

This past weekend, we took our Hotel-Motel-Holiday-Inn pop-up camper so that I could finally see one of the sights of Arizona I swore I would see while I lived here. Tombstone.

It lived up to all my wildest expectations. It was cheese, pure cheese. And I love me some cheese.

Women wore bustles of lace, and high, feathered hats Princess Beatrice would be proud to don. Men had a pistol on each hip and a wicked glint in their eye. After the OK Corral showdown, Wyatt Earp winked and tipped his hat to me.

It was a wonderful day of Wild West glamour, which we followed with a big spaghetti dinner back at our campsite. Both kids ate heartily (Peanut chowing down on some milk and sweet potatoes), then watched Wall-E on The Hub's tablet and settled down to bed.

The next day we went to Kartchner Caverns, these amazing caverns near Tucson that were discovered in the last 30 years or so. They are living caverns - we took the underground tour and the cave literally dripped around us, creating little pieces of stalagtites and stalagmites that may show up thousands of years from now.

Only one of the cavern tours is accessible to children under the age of 7, so that is the one we went on. Beforehand, we were warned by about 3 dozen volunteers that normally children don't do so well underground, and if that occurred, we would be escorted out of the cave. Apparently, these volunteers don't know my children, because they rocked it.

An hour and a half of walking through a dark, humid underground cavern where you absolutely cannot touch anything, and my kids totally rocked it. Peanut, in a front carrier pack, fell asleep after 15 minutes and stayed asleep throughout the entire tour. Bjorn walked part of the way and was held by Daddy part of the way, keeping all hands and feet inside the ride at all times. He didn't touch anything, scream, or make a scene.

It was as if both my kids could feel the magical work of nature around them.

I was going to use either of them as my excuse to leave (I don't do so well in claustrophobic places) but they were doing so well, and the cavern was so magnificent, I took a few breaths and tried to forget that there were 3 tons of rock and dirt above me, and a fault line right over there in those rocks to my left.

The weekend was a blast. By the end of the third day, we all smelled like dirt and camping. Again, the way Mother Nature had intended. We were tired and sore and sunburned and. . . . happy. The whole family was happy, from the big Daddy in charge of all pop-up camper repairs all the way down to the little munchkin who turned 6 months old (and got her first tooth!!) in a state park 50 miles west of Tucson, Arizona.

And who says you can't bring kids camping? Not I.

Definetely Not I.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Polly Want a Cracker?

Apparently, the phrases I use the most are:

"Sigh. . . OK. Let's do this!"

"Ready? Let's roll!"

"Wait a second. . . . . hmmmmmm. . . . "

"You have two options."

"I have a question for you."

and

"That is my answer."

I know this not because I am on Candid Camera (although I often feel that I am), and not from family home videos I watch to reminiscence (although I often do this for fun).

No, no. . . I know this because I - Lucky Me! - have my very own parrot. He laughs like me, smiles like me, and - God help us - talks like me.

It's unnerving.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dear Preggo Friend

Dear Preggo Friend;

Since you are flying in next week, I thought I would send you a little note to prepare you before your trip.

NOTHING you see in my house is indicative of how your life will be. Don't be scared off, overwhelmed or freaked out by what you may see. Trust me.

Having one - like that one little bun in your toaster oven - is totally different than two. . . .  and it's easier 75% of the time. And the only time having two is easier is when you hear the baby start screaming in the living room and the oldest runs to you in the kitchen to tell you that Peanut has spit up/rolled over/been stepped on by him. It's nice to have a second set of eyes - even if that second set of eyes is attached to a second set of shoes that thinks his little sister resembles a soccer ball.

Your child, though, will be perfect and never spit up, scream or roll over without you noticing.

I've heard that there are also children out there who play by themselves. For, like, an hour at a time. My children like me to be present in the room at all times, and every game begins with 'Look, Mom! Now - YOU do it!'. Playing by themselves is a thing of the future. . . and hopefully, the not too distant future.

Your child will be one of those 'play by themselves' children. They will love playing with their friends, and interact quite socially, but will never wrap themselves around your leg until you promise to play cars with them one.more.time.

I've also heard that some children know how to whisper. And walk slowly. Generally be quiet and non-disruptive. Wow! Really?! I have children who like to yell rather than chat, run rather than stroll and generally be loud, disruptive and crazy. On good days, I call them 'spirited'. Bad days? Well, I would rather not say what I call them then.

Your child, Preggo friend, will talk daintily. She won't pick up on the curse words you mutter. She won't yell or scream or throw tantrums.

And don't be overwhelmed by my (supposed) discipline skills and knowledge of baby information. Everything I know is the result of countless hours (days, weeks, months) of trial and error.  I have learned the same way you will - by watching other (and, for me, better) mothers. I'm also wingin' it.

Until little pieces of red yarn showed up in Bjorn's diaper, I had no idea I should put a blanket down on the rug because babies like to eat fuzz. Then I promptly forgot about that until Peanut did the same thing. Trial and error.

But, seriously, Preggo Friend of Mine, this house will be nothing like your house. I am sure your house will be clean and quiet, with long periods of free time for you and your Hubby. I am sure your baby will never poop all over that gorgeous dry clean only dress you wear to the office when you meet a client, and never ever will they scream at inoppurtune times when you are just about to finish that deadline.

Sure.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The best of intentions

Every morning I wake up with the best of intentions.

I won't yell at my kids. I won't get frustrated that neither one of them will nap, but desperately, desperatly need to. I will play cars/puzzles/color/play-doh/hockey in between the never-ending rounds of laundry, dishes and snack times.  I will teach my children patience through my example.

And every day, my intentions go right down the toilet. (Where, btw, my son still doesn't want to sit. We are really trying to push this soon, though. His diapers are N-A-S-T-Y!)

I grab my coffee, hand the kiddo his milk and ask if he wants to read a book with me. Immediately he begins crying and whining. "Nooooooooo. TV. MY TV. Wittle Einsteins. Kah-ooooo. Wittle EINSTEINS!!!!!"

I hate to admit it, but I usually give in.

I know, I know. . . you are not supposed to give in to toddler bullying.

But, geez, I haven't even had a sip of coffee yet. Just give me some caffeine before the TV whining begins.

Yesterday, though, I decided that enough was enough.

No TV.

No amount of whining, begging or pleading was going to get me to turn on the TV. Even when he boycotted his nap - my sweet, heavenly hour and a half of naptime - no TV. Even when my coffee had not hit my system yet, No TV.

And something strange happened.

After the first hour of intermittent pleading and scream-whining. . . . it stopped. No more whining. And, even more miraculously. . . . .Bjorn played.

He took out every toy that he owns and over the course of six hours proceeded to play with each and every one of them. Over and over and over again. He took the wooden crocodile over a bridge, where it fell into a lake of alligators and had to be rescued with a shovel. He let all 459 cars loose throughout the house, racing around corners and up hills. He drew lines and circles all over his chalkboard table, wiped it up, and did it again.

I think he had fun. I know I did.

At the end of the day, I was throughly exhausted. From Bjorn's constant demand for attention to the constant watching where I put my foot, lest it land on one of the thousands of cars, I was exhausted. But it was a good kind of exhausted.

Don't get me wrong here, I have nothing against TV. (Obviously, to anyone who knows me!)  I think the shows Bjorn watches are some of the reasons he has such a large vocabulary, and how he knows so many random facts. From Dino Dan to Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to Sesame Street, TV has changed since I was little. It has become educational. Informative. And, yes, while it can be used as a babysitter while I prepare dinner, it also is a good learning tool.

It's also nice to turn it off. Especially when the weather is so nice and a tricycle and hockey sticks are beckoning us outside.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Working Mom, Take Two

Technically, I go back to work in one month. From today.

Sigh.....

I have one of those love/hate relationships with my job. I love how fun it is - jetsetting across the country, meeting new co-workers every trip. If I find I don't like someone I work with, I probably will never work with them again. I don't have to deal with them in the cubicle next door everyday. In fact, I don't have a cubicle. I have a long metal tube that goes hurtling through the sky at 400+ miles an hour.

On the other hand, if I work with someone I like, I may never see them again. It's tough making friends when half the people you work with commute in - and not from the other side of town, but from New Mexico, or Utah or Colorado. A little too far to have them over for drinks and dessert.

Plus there is the little fact that I have to leave my family. Whether for one day or three, I have to leave. I get on a plane and fly across the country, leaving my husband and children behind.

Two years ago, when I headed back to work after Bjorn was born, he got sick on my second trip away. Real sick. 104 fever, and The Hubs was called at work to pick him up from daycare.

I was in Nashville, a 4 hour flight home, but with no way to get home. Because of the time difference, by the time I found out about it, the last flight that could have flown me home had left already. I was stuck in Nashville, thousands of miles from home, and thousands of miles from my firstborn son and his first huge illness.

I don't even remember what it turned out to be - teething, a cold. . something like that.

I do remember sitting outside my hotel, on the curb, crying as I waited for the phone call from The Hubs after Bjorn's doctors visit.

And that is only one of the things I don't like about my job.

But, overall, I enjoy it. I like that it brings in a little income for us, that it gives me a little time away, and that I don't have to bring it home with me. Once I am home, I am done with work.

I like that.

So, I do have to go back to work. The date is rapidly approaching.

And I am pretty sure that The Hubs has not been alone with both kids for more than an hour by himself.

Not because he can't handle it, but just because I know that it is easier to just have one kid than both, so when I go out, I take Peanut with me. She's easy by herself - with no big brother screaming when he talks and trying to constantly tickle her, she sleeps the whole time.

Not this week, though.

It's been 6 months since I got my haircut and it is in desperate need of some repair. I have an appointment to cut and color and that means The Hubs gets both kids. By himself.

I didn't think he would do ok with it, but today has changed my mind. Today, when Peanut cried, he jumped to it. Took her and rocked her to sleep. Three different times. Which gave me some awesome one-on-one time with Bjorn, something I had wanted even more desperately than I wanted a hair cut.

And I want a hair cut bad.

Anyways. . . . . I think he can handle it when I start working again.

But just to make sure, I'm making a few late night appointments these next few weeks. Hair cut. Pedicure. Moms Night Out.

Good luck, Hubs!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Help!

Help!!!

Spray and Wash Resolve worked wonders with Bjorn when he had his blow-outs.

But apparently Peanut's are a little more, um. . . . potent. All her cute little outfits are getting ruined!!

I need something quick - everyday is a blow-out day in this house! What do YOU use to get out baby poop stains? And will it work on stains already washed & dried?!