Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mama said there'd be days like this

Friends continuously ask me what its like having two kids.

My answer is always the same: It's hard. Then it gets easier. Hard again. A little easier.

It ebbs and flows, back and forth, and I never know day by day if today - this week, this month - is going to be one of the hard ones or easy ones.

It is pretty much like having one kid, but with twice the surprises.

These past couple of weeks have been the hard ones.

I'm not sure what it is, exactly. It could be that I am working much more than expected, which takes me away from home more often. The kids go to daycare when I am gone, and on days I am home, we spend our time catching up on groceries and cleaning and oil changes and dentists appointments rather than going to the park and the splash pad as we used to.

It might be that everyday hits temperature highs in the upper 110's, so the options are severely limited as to what we can safely do in the heat. Even a trip to the Pet Store (or, as we call it, the Other Zoo) is a matter of timing; after about 1 pm, when sitting in the driveway all day, the car can take up to 10 minutes to cool down once the air is on.

Maybe it is just their ages: 3 is an age where they test every.little.thing, so the Terrible Twos I thought I was facing before have become the This-Can-Get-Worse Threes, and every day brings a new battle. 11 months allows Peanut some independence (I can crawl! I can almost walk! I can play!) but not enough for her to join in on her brother's games, or truly enjoy the playdates we are able to attend.

I might just be tired. The endless days of flying and serving, then a different city, hotel room and airport food coupled with the endless routine of dishes and mopping, laundry and lists that I come home to. . .. . well, it might just make me tired.

Whatever it is, this time is hard.

This moment, when the kids are both at ages where they need so much - love, attention, discipline, guidance - this time is utterly exhausting. Almost more so than when Peanut was a newborn, because by now I feel I should have it figured out a little better, so it is almost unnervingly hard.

But then, out of nowhere, just when I needed it the most, came a moment that showed perfectly clear why we do this crazy thing called mothering, even though it is so hard.

Yesterday, with both kids crawling all over me, demanding bottles and books at the same time, I became happy. Tired, yes. Incredibly tired of the endless needs. But also happy.

Because my kids know that I will provide for them these things they need, even when I am tired. Even when I am on my last thread, I will be there for them. There is comfort in knowing that even at this young age, my children know they can come to me for basic and not-so-basic needs. They know I am there for them, completely, wholely.

So while mothering seems a complete selfless act, with sometimes no thank you's or gratitude or appreciation, I have to admit that I agree with Joey, from Friends. There is no such thing as a truly selfless act. For even when I am giving all that I can give, sometimes even more, to my kids, I feel good knowing that I am shaping them into comfortable, loving people.

Now, if only I could bottle this feeling for use the next time I have one of those really hard days. . . .

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wait 'til you have kids!!

I honestly don't think I ever heard my Mom or Dad say the famed,"Just wait 'til YOU have kids!" when I was screwing up royally, costing them either time, money or years of anguish.

But I think that's because they have the patience of saints. And I am sure that even with that supreme patience, they muttered it under their breath countless times.

Especially when I refused to eat chicken. Or pork chops. Hamburgers. Most definitely they were thinking it when I sat at the kitchen table for FIVE hours because I wouldn't eat the ONE fish stick I had to eat in order to leave the table. And I did that every year, every Friday during Lent until they finally gave up making me eat fish and cooked me a grilled cheese sandwich.

Well, Mom and Dad, the time has come.

And payback is a bitch.

Bjorn used to be a great eater. Since he was a little babe, he ate everything (except sweet potatoes) that we put in front of him. Fish, chicken, broccoli, squash, carrots. You name it, he ate it.

Oh, my, how the times have changed.

Now he refuses to eat anything at meal times. The second we call him for dinner, he yells "No, I no want to!", making a big fuss about how he isn't hungry. He sulks into his chair, crosses his arms and pouts. "No. I not hungry!" With a sigh, he shoves his plate as far as he can.

Every freakin' meal time.

But the problem isn't that he doesn't want to eat. I think he doesn't want to sit and eat. Or sit at the table and eat, because if I were to let him eat in front of the TV, he is perfectly happy eating his entire meal. Of course, the kid will do anything if he can watch TV at the same time - even clip his nails (torture!).

All day long he asks for snacks. ALL DAY LONG. Like the trash compactor I imagine he will be at 14, he seems continuously and always hungry. So we eat string cheese and apple slices. Grapes and strawberries, goldfish and almonds. We have ham slices, grape tomatoes and pickles. The kid loves food.

I have tried not giving him snacks, in the hopes that if he is hungry enough, he will eat dinner. No difference. None. It only made the whining worse all day. If you can imagine that.

I am at my wit's end. Between the screaming tantrum fit every single freakin' time he takes a nap or goes to bed, and the refusing to eat at any mealtime, I have just about.had.it. I don't know what strategy to use on him - the "I'm disappointed in you", the "Eat your food, or go to time-out" or the ignoring it and hope it goes away route. We tried to solve the problem of throwing a tantrum when taking a nap by ignoring it, thinking that as he grew older, he would grow out of it. That it was a phase.

He hasn't. And it's not.

He still screams "No!!! No I no want to!!", sometimes for up to an hour before he finally stops, succumbs to the obvious need to nap, and sleeps for three hours. It is absolutely ridiculous, and he has been doing this every nap time since he was 6 months old. (Minus the saying words part of it. He's not that smart! But he has been crying and screaming every time I put him down for a nap since he was little.)

I don't want this to happen with food and mealtimes, too. I want to be able to take him to a restaurant, or to a friends for dinner and not cringe, anticipating the inevitable meltdown. Discussing beforehand with The Hubs how we were going to handle it -whether we should ignore it, or give him a time out.

So, wonderful Bloggy world out there, I need your help. My sanity needs your help. My son's future career as a quarterback is in jeopardy. For how is he to develop the muscles and stamina needed for a pro career without the necessary nutrition that starts now?!

Please. How do I get my son to eat at the dinner table?!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Staying at Home

My work allows me to take loads and loads of maternity leave. Plenty of maternity leave. 2 months before the birth (sometimes more, if things get complicated) and 6-7 months AFTER the babe's birth.

Like I said, plenty of maternity leave. My company is generous.

So for a few months after my babies were born, I was a SAHM. I didn't go to work. I took care of my kids and my family and my household.

And I found that when being a SAHM, my world shrunk to the size of my home.

I didn't care about the price of rice in China. In fact, as far as I knew, they no longer had rice and were now eating some genetically mutated rice-type food! Who has time to think about stocks and bonds and presidents and passing laws when I am spending all my time researching why the toddler hasn't pooped in 6 days, prying things out of the infant's mouth (a toy car tire! dog hair! a hairtie!) and perpetually keeping the toddler from sitting on/knocking over/pulling on/crashing into his baby sister.

I didn't read news. I read articles concerning teething and ways to disguise food for a picky eater.

I didn't see it when I was in the midst of it, but now that I am back to work, I realize how small my world had become. As small as a baby.

Most of you know I don't love my job. Even after 7 years, I don't consider being a flight attendant my "career". But I love what my job gives me.

I get free time. I get alone time. I get to get away and see places and things I would never have seen without it. I get to have adult conversations with adults regarding adult things. I get to read a book without a toddler wanting to play twenty questions, shave my legs in complete privacy and eat an entire meal all by myself. And I get paid very well to do it.

That's enough for me right now.

I have all these aspirations to do so much more than I am currently doing, but I just don't have the energy. I feel like in maybe two years, or three or five, my kids won't need so much of me all the time and I will have the time to do some of the things I know I can do with my life. Some of the things I have been talking about literally my entire life.

But for now, this job allows me the ability to feel sometimes like a SAHM who gets to participate in activities and playdates and sports classes and storytimes, while also getting me out into that big, wide world we live in and giving me a little perspective beyond the blinders of my children and family life. I guess that's good enough.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Whistle while you Work

It shouldn't annoy me, but it does.

He's always doing it.

While he's putting on his shoes (the wrong feet!), cleaning up his cars (stopping to race them twice) and after he comes out of his room after a temper tantrum time-out, he is doing it.

Bjorn whistles.

He learned it from his Dad. The Hubs whistles first thing in the morning before I can even complete a full sentence. Yesterday, I caught him whistling the Caillou theme song when he got out of the shower.

It's not that I don't like whistling. I do.  I think it's absolutely adorable that my 3 year old will be racing his airplane across the back of the couch, whistling the whole way.

So why does it bother me?

I don't know. Maybe it's because I associate whistling with strolling along, with nary a care in the world.

Which is totally the opposite of my life, with its never ending to do list and endless grocery trips.

I should be thankful that my son and Hubs are so well taken care of, so happy and comfortably content, that they feel carefree enough to whistle.

But sometimes as I frantically race through the house, packing a diaper bag and snacks and sunscreen and - did you go to the potty yet? - cheerios and bottles and - be gentle with your sister! - all while putting on a swipe of lipstick and mascara. . . . well, sometimes it just annoys me.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The One Where I'm Thankful for my Kiddos

I know I complain and bitch and wax comical about all things motherhood related, but I'm saying this now, so don't make me repeat it:

I don't think I write enough about how adorable my kids are. Truly, they are remarkably happy little bundles of fun.

Peanut makes everyone instantly fall in love with her.

Her hair - what little of it she has - stands up in a feathered mohawk. On a good day she looks like a baby peacock. A bad day she looks like a mad scientist. Although sometimes The Hubs tries to tame it, I would never dream of it. It would be like taming a wild tiger; better to let it run free and do as it will.

The Mad Scientist herself!

She squeals and shrieks when she is excited, which is when she sees her bottle (food!!), her brother (fun!!), the dog (pull hair!!), the vacuum (loud!!) and anything else you can possibly think of. Our house pretty much always sounds like a bird cage at the zoo. Except when it sounds like the monkey habitat. They both know how to make monkey noises.

As long as someone is looking at her, she has a perma-grin, her 2 bottom teeth and 4 teeth widely on display in the biggest smile I've ever seen on a baby. She is so incredibly happy that I've thought about nicknaming her Smiley, but I don't want that to someday get changed to Miley and then have her grow up to be a big Disney star and half-way singer and get tattoos all over her sides and back and have millions of dollars in the bank and a gorgeous film star boyfriend taking her to premieres and red carpet events.

Hmmmm. . . . . maybe I need to rethink that. . .

She really does laugh at everything, but mostly she is crawling around, following her big brother, whom she is 110% completely head over heels in love with. And he with her.

Most mornings, if Bjorn hasn't snuck into our bed at 2 am, we wake to the sound of his voice on the baby monitor in Peanut's room.

CRRR-EEEAAK. (Yes, we need to oil the door hinges.)

"Good mo-rn-ing, Pea-nut!!"

Peanut shrieks and squeals, even after being woken from a dead sleep.

"Hi Peanut! Hi!"

More shrieking.

"Patty cake. Patty cake. Maker's man."

The sound of Bjorn clapping.

"Put it in the oven for Peanut & Me. Stuff it. Roll it. Mark it with a P. As fast as you can. For Peanut & Me!"

Peanut alternates between clapping and banging her hands on the crib.

"This little piggie went to market."

Squeals and shrieks.

"This little piggie went none. This little piggie had roast berries. This little piggie had ham."

Shrieking and banging continue.

"And this little piggie went WEE WEE WEE!!"

And both kids belly laugh whole-heartedly.

They are AWESOME.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

SUPER Birthday!

My big boy turned 3 on Sunday and in true, Pinterest-loving fashion, I couldn't just have a few friends meet us at a local park, throw a few cupcakes on the picnic tables and let the big day fly by.

No. Not I.

I have to start planning 6 weeks before the big day, waking The Hubs in the middle of the night to debate themes (Finding Nemo vs. Go!Diego!Go!) and madly perusing websites for creative do-it-yourself ideas.

So when I finally chose a theme I thought would be super-easy to decorate for (Super-Bjorn!), I was shocked - but ready - to find that Superman is so five years ago, therefore no one (NO ONE!) carries Superman stuff anymore.

Seriously. If you want Super Heroes, you have to go the way of Spider-man, Batman, The Avengers or Iron Man. Not that they aren't cool and everything, but Superman? For his day job, he was a reporter. So cool. And he can fly. Without web hands and a silly car. He is soooo cool.

At first Bjorn wasn't really on board with SuperMan, but that's only because The Hubs kept asking him what he wanted. ("Bjorn, do you want a Thomas the Train cake? How about Mickey Mouse?") as if the kid doesn't have enough years ahead of him to pick who he likes. Can't I pick this one? I promise I'll let him pick his own cake next year (maybe).

Or maybe we will do Super Bjorn again next year. His cupcakes looked - and tasted - AWESOME!!!

But soon Superman became SuperCool to him and he began talking about super heroes saving the day and his cake with a superhero on it. Although I may have picked the theme, Bjorn grabbed onto Superman's cape and ran with it.

And the kid knows what he likes. It ain't a party to Bjorn unless there are cupcakes, party hats, balloons and candles. (Although yesterday he added "and presents too. I want to open them!" Sneaky kid.)

So the kid got party hats. But not just any party hats for my Super Bjorn. SUPER Party Hats.

And, while every kid needs streamers and gaudy decorations to spice up a boring picnic table, Super Bjorn needed something a little more. . . super.

And as a rule, parties these days are not complete without crappy fun favors for kids to bring home and leave lying around their house as yet another toy for their parents to pick up. Bjorn gave his friends a water gun (BOOM!), a Splash Bomb water toy (SPLAT!) and a flying SUPER Tootsie Roll (YUM!). And yes, I do spend too much time on Pinterest, thanks for asking.

I spent so much time preparing for the party and all of a sudden it was here and - BAM! SPLAT! BOOM! - my Bjorn was 3.

Oh my how the time flies.

From this in 2011. . . . . 

To this!

It really was such a fun day. It was a perfect, hot, Arizona summer day, so it was a great day to be at the splash pad.

 I don't want to be one of those parents who keeps saying "I can't believe my kid is so big. Stop growing."

But, really, Bjorn?! Stop growing. Right now. Stop!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Signs I Need to Clean my House

Last week, I did a completely thorough house cleaning: the kind where I scrub baseboards, vacuum sills and wash windows. The chores I detest and put off until the sun can barely peek through all the fingerprints and dirt on the window.

Apparently I need to clean more often, though.

The day after I cleaned, he came running up to me, almost in tears.

"Mommy! Mommy! They all gone. ALL OF THEM! All of them are GONE!"

"Who, Bjorn? What?! Who is all gone?"

"The Fi! All of the Fies are GONE!" This is said in typical upset Bjorn fashion, arms thrown around, head down and despondent, body collapsing onto the floor in mourning.

"Bjorn, what are you talking about?!"

"In my special place. My special Fi place."

"Ok, Bjorn. I don't know what you are talking about. Show me. Take me there."

He grabbed my hand and pulled me towards his table. The table he spends so much time at, playing with playdough or continuously running cars off the sides to CRASH! CRASH!CRASH!

Lifting up the blinds to the windowsill, he pointed.

"There, Mommy! There! All the Fies are gone. Their special Fi Place is GONE!"

Apparently, I had vacuumed up all his special Fly friends. Oops.