Good Morning Oatmeal

Most mornings for normal people consist of a few basic elements.  The alarm goes off and there is that moment of decision whether to get up or sleep a few more minutes. There is some sort of dressing and breakfast routine.  Depending on preference, the morning may take place in a few hectic minutes or may take a few leisurely hours.  I’m all for the leisurely mornings, anyone know how I can get one?

This morning at precisely 6am I was woken by a cannister of oatmeal.

It wasn’t the oatmeal’s fault either.  It had been removed from the kitchen by my two year old who decided it was time for breakfast.  This kid must have been a ninja in a past life. He managed to escape his room, descend the stairs, loot the kitchen, and appear at my bedside, all without arousing the suspicion of either sleeping parent’s well tuned ears.

Being silently presented with oatmeal is a far better way of waking up than finding someone standing at my bedside staring at me as it’s far less likely to cause a heart attack. I’ve had plenty of the latter at all times of the night.  Apparently when my son sleep walks I’m the first person he visits, which is as freaky as it is flattering.

I did end up making him oatmeal, it’s healthy and easy and thankfully cheap. I’m told Anne Hathaway used it to help her lose weight to achieve that starved look in Les Miserables.

He didn’t end up eating it.  While trying to scoot in his stool at the counter he ended up falling off and scaring himself. We cuddled with his sippy of milk instead.  The days are numbered where he is small enough and will still let me scoop him into my arms and just hold him. I will take all that I can get until then.

Even if it means being woken up by a cannister of oatmeal.

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He likes it dry if you let him!

 

 

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The Untold Perils of Driving with Children

The other day we were out doing errands and heading to IFA, one of my kids favorite stores. They love looking at the baby chicks, duckies, and rabbits and all the different hutches and chicken coops. I like it be cause they have great prices on lawn fertilizer and stuff that you can’t get anywhere else. Props for being awesome parents and getting stuff checked off the to do list at the same time, right?

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Squee!

Well, almost.  Two minutes into the drive Baby D starts screaming.  We passed a McDonalds and he wants to go play.  It doesn’t matter that we just ate lunch, he stretches his pudgy fingers toward the window and throws himself against the five point harness and screams, “‘Donoulds! Donoulds!” as loud as he can.  This continues until the golden arches are well out of sight. I’m pretty sure there isn’t another on the way there and I make a mental note not to come back the same way to avoid another bout of screams.

The older two no longer scream for McDonalds, thankfully.  Their protests come in the form of whining, manipulating, and flat out being obnoxious – usually because they are getting on each others nerves for offences such as breathing and existing, or their batteries on their devices have died. When I saw the rides and balloons of the county fair ahead in the distance I knew I was in for it.  No amount of cute chicks or duckies would beat anything they would see as we passed.

Had I the presence of mind to trick them into looking the other way I would have. “Hey kids, I think I see a giant creeper climbing over the mountain out this window!” It sounds lame, and it works and I couldn’t get the words out in time.  Dang it.

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The excited shrieks filled the backseat as we all watched the ferris wheel make is rounds next to the road.   The whole fairground is filled with rides and stands selling funnel cake and hot dogs.  And we say no.  We aren’t going.

Worst parents ever.

As predicted, the car erupts into screaming and wailing. It’s not that we don’t want to go, if the prices for the rides were reasonable and there wasn’t much of a wait to get on then we might find a way to go for an hour or two, but they aren’t.  When each ride is anywhere from one to three dollars to ride and a parent has to come along and you have several kids, one of which is too little to ride, and it takes anywhere from thirty minutes to well over an hour to wait in line for each one, and waiting in line is one of those things that your kids can’t handle for any amount of time – just thinking about it makes me break out in an anxious sweat.

One day we will go, when everyone is old enough to handle standing in lines and understand that waiting isn’t mom and dad’s way of inflicting torture.  Until then, we endure the bouts of anger and – heaven forbid – the whining, and simply drive on.

 

Attack of the Baby Shirt

In our household we are grateful for every night of undisturbed sleep we can get. They don’t come often and when they do we’re not sure we’ve had one until the morning when we realize that none of the kids visited our bedroom, or called out from their beds. My two oldest no longer call out, unless they’ve thrown up. Instead, they walk to our bedside and stand there and stare at us until their breathing wakes us.  It’s unsettling to say the least, especially when your daughter kinda looks like this:

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Instead, we had the harrowing experience of being attacked by the baby shirt.

The baby shirt phenomenon is when a baby or toddler magnetically attaches himself to a parent’s chest, wrapping his little arms and legs tightly around any part of their body, and no amount of coaxing can get him off.

Last night Baby D (ok, I admit he’s really a toddler) had a full-blown nightmare.  He woke up and hurried to come find us, calling all the way.  I caught him and he instantly adhered himself to my chest. After a good love and hug I tried to put him back in bed which was like trying to lower a cat into a sink full of soapy water. He arched and strained away, springing off the mattress as soon as he touched it.  After several tries it was clear that it wasn’t going to work, so I gathered up his pillow and blanket and headed for his favorite sleeping spot, the family room couch.

I set up the couch with his stuff, but the sight of his pillow and blanket set him into a panic and he ran full tilt into our bedroom, which made me wonder if his nightmare had something to do with his bed eating him. Being snuggled in our bed wasn’t enough, he still felt insecure enough that he plastered himself to daddy’s chest.

Even the sanest of parents can only take so long of having a heavy, twitching, restless toddler parked on their chest before deciding to try putting the kid back to bed. Sure, for the first ten minutes it’s adorable, but then the parent realizes that he has a whole day ahead of him and only 30 minutes of sleep to fuel it with.

The second time we tried putting Baby D back in bed it was like trying to put a magnet backwards on the fridge, except he didn’t have the decency to flip over and stay put. We tried the couch again, without the evil pillow and blanket, and he wrestled to find the remote.  It’s amazing, the kid is still in diapers but has the TV figured out.  Then, he had to have a sippy of milk and was super angry that I don’t allow milk sippies at night.  After a few more rounds of “please lay down and go back to sleep” which escalated to “Mommy is getting really angry” he decided that it would be better for his health to settle down and sleep on the couch after all.

Yay.

The hour-long ordeal left me wound up and restless and it took me nearly another hour to settle myself down and get back to sleep as well.  It didn’t last, the events of the night triggered my own nightmare about a sleepover at a distant relatives house which then evolved into a dystopian police state that separated me from my children without any explanation leaving me to fear the worst of what might happen to them.  The ending scene has us separated by a thick pane of glass and they were screaming and scared and I could do nothing.  I hate dreams that leave me helpless because when I wake from them I can’t rest until I figure out what I should have done.

Between Baby D’s and then my nightmare, I’m walking in a fog today.  I’m still upset about the dream, a part of my brain keeps insisting it was real can’t let it go.  In a way, part of it was.  Today the kids go back to school after being off track for several weeks and I have to let them go.  Most of me is super happy about it, but there is a small part that hates sending them away.

 

Potential, Check.

Yesterday, my family had a discussion about potential.  Strike that, yesterday I attempted to teach my kids about potential. Instead, I learned a lesson that I won’t soon forget. Never underestimate kids, they see things in different and unexpected ways.  They have the unique perspective of innocence and open-mindedness that an adult can’t match.

This isn’t saying that everything that flows from their mouths in that constant river of sound consists of rubies and emeralds.  It’s more like panning for gold.  Most of the dirt and sand is just dirt and sand, but every once in a while there will be a nugget of truth and enlightenment.

You see, I’ve created a new responsibility chart that will hopefully help my little ones take a more active role in caring for themselves and their surroundings.  There is a lot of work to do in this house and although I can do all of it, I don’t see why I shouldn’t share the load. They need to learn about the importance of work and the joy of having helped.   I also reason that if they help more with the clean up they will possibly think before leaving little messes everywhere.

IMG_2382I introduced the chart by talking about the word potential and asking if they knew what it meant. My eight year old son replied with the definition for potential energy (he’s the family physicist) and talked about how things at the tops of hills and those with more mass had greater potential or they could do more.

I asked him if he knew what it meant for a person to have potential and it confused him. Why would we be rolling people down hills?  He imagined that larger people would have greater potential energy than smaller ones.  By this reasoning Grandpa has more potential than anyone in the family.

My daughter added that Jesus has more potential than anyone, even Grandpa.  I’m still not sure how to reply to that one.  Yes, He has done great things and will continue to do great things and for that he has extraordinary potential. I admire her for thinking of it. Now I’m hoping she didn’t think of Him because we were talking about things being higher having greater potential than things that were lower. He is in heaven, that would be considered really high up.

I did my best to teach them about how when people have potential they have within them the ability to do great things.  By being better helpers and being more responsible with their time it would increase their potential and help them be even more awesome kids than they already are. While they aren’t thrilled about having daily chores, they aren’t putting up as big of a fight as they could have either.

As for you dear reader – remember that you too have great potential, especially if you are higher up, like at the top of a flight of stairs.  Oh, and you have it in you to do great things as well!

 

The Burrito Fiasco

We are blessed to have a little slice of entropy at our house.  Entropy is the force of nature that abhors order and will pull things back into a general state of chaos.  In our house this force of nature is a vivacious two-year old, although his older brother and sister definitely qualify.  We all have our moments.

This morning our toddler, Baby D, woke up an hour early and proceeded to drag me around the house by my pinkie so he could turn all the lights on.  I would much rather have had a nice quiet morning cuddle where we could enjoy each other without anyone else making demands on me, but no, it had to be the lights.  I wouldn’t have minded as much but more lights on equals more likelihood of waking the rest of the flock and I’ll do anything to prevent that.

Including nuking frozen burritos at 7 AM.  After he was satisfied with the lights, Baby D     started screaming and yanking at the freezer.  When this kid gets hungry he gets a little nutso. To quiet him I opened it and he grabbed the bag of frozen burritos, ran to the couch and sat clutching them in his arms like they were a long lost favorite stuffed animal.

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Posing with the burritos, note the cheesy smile

You see, this kid only talks when he absolutely has to and that makes figuring out his needs tough.  When he’s tired or angry or frustrated, which is all the time, he won’t speak but instead will grunt and point and drag you around by whatever finger he can get his little hands on.  Usually it’s the pinkies because they are easier to grab and get your attention faster. They hurt more when twisted.

The whole burrito fiasco is only the tip of the iceberg in a series of bizarre and typical two-year old behavior that humbles me daily. Yesterday we had a run in with smelly markers and his hands are still green. I wish it were easier and not always this ongoing game of charades trying to figure him out. Sometimes I feel like a human metal detector with him riding on my hip and pointing towards what he is trying to find. Most of the time I can figure it out, and if I’m lucky it’s something he can actually play with and not scissors or hoards of candy.

If I’m not lucky there’s the screaming and whining and hitting and throwing things and the decent into chaos which two-year olds are famous for.  Some days, I swear he trying to see just how far down the rabbit hole of crazy I can go. I haven’t found the bottom yet, and not for want of trying.

Maybe today will be day!

 

Wuthering Heights – the Board Book

Happy Presidents’ Day everyone!  If you are state side I’m hoping you are all enjoying the holiday, if not I hope you having a marvelous day anyway.

I visited my local library the other day and saw something that made my jaw drop, a board book of Wuthering Heights.  Generally, I consider the sole purpose of a board book is to give teething infants something new and colorful to chew on, not to introduce classic literature; so when I saw this I had to laugh.

photo (5)Had I seen it a few months ago I still would have found it amusing, but as I am currently reading the original unabridged edition for the first time, it’s hilarious.  First of all, babies aren’t going to care about the complex (and utterly dysfunctional) nature of the relationship between the rogue Heathcliff and the barely civil Catherine.  Secondly, I’m not sure how much I care either.  It’s the attempt that’s funny.

Turns out they didn’t even bother.  The book is a study on the different weather conditions found out on the moors, randomly using Bronte’s prose to emphasize conditions such as sunny, cloudy, and windy.

For all it’s worth I’d get it just because it makes me smile.

 

 

Death of the Wedding Toaster

Mondays are supposed to have their share of challenges, there are little people to dress, breakfast to make and eat, kids to get to school, and schedules and deadlines to meet. This morning was no exception.  Today it started about four hours earlier than usual, 3:30 to be exact, when my oldest appeared at my bedside and calmly informed me that he had vomited on the floor of his bedroom and needed help cleaning it up.  He then proceeded to tell me in lengthy description how he sat up in bunk bed leaned over the rail and then proceeded to empty his stomach on the carpet below.  In my sleep addled confusion I had to ask him to repeat himself twice before I could make sense of what he was saying.

At this point I can only be grateful that he had the presence of mind to not vomit all over himself in the bed.  We’ve had plenty of nights in years past where this was not the case. There’s nothing quite like waking to the sounds of a child crying and finding them and everything around them covered in partially digested dinner. Cleaning up the carpet, although a pain, is at least much more straight forward than stripping a sleepy child, giving them a bath, stripping the bed, starting the laundry, remaking the bed, and then getting everyone back to sleep.  Small blessings. While I wish he would have gone to the bathroom right outside his door, I can’t complain too much. There was no drama and no tears.

Fast forward to breakfast, late and lazy today just like a sick morning deserves.  My kids love toast.  I love that my kids love toast. It’s fast and easy to make, fast to eat, and easy to clean up. This morning however, the toaster had different ideas.  I loaded it, started it, and began pouring the milk when I heard a soft zap and caught a whiff of ozone.

The toaster that had accompanied us for the last ten years, had seen six different houses, two states, and the arrival of three children was dead.

While it seems silly to get sentimental over the last moments of a cheap kitchen appliance, I can’t help but think that there is something significant in the loss of something that has served our family for so long.  Most of our other cheap appliances have either been upgraded or broken long before, but we could always rely on the toaster.

In many ways a toaster is more than just an appliance.  It’s a promise of warm and lightly crunchy baked goods smothered in butter and jam and served with a cup of cocoa. It’s lazy mornings where we stay in our jammies and watch TV. It’s breakfast in bed and late night snacking.  It’s comfort.

And now it must be replaced.  While a new toaster holds the promise of wider slots and more accurate controls it will never going to be quite the same as the old.  There will be that period of learning and adjusting and finding the setting that produces the perfect shade of toast, browned on top and plenty soft inside.  So many things in my life are unpredictable that I’m loathe to add yet another one.  In time we will come to accept and love the new toaster, but until then I will miss the old one.

A farewell to you, wedding toaster, you have served us well.  Please understand that we cannot mourn your loss for too long, there are still lazy mornings and breakfasts to be made.photo (4)