Transition

Recently I discovered that my soon-to-be four year old daughter, Josie, will be attending Junior Kindergarten this fall on a full-time every-day basis as opposed to the Monday-Wednesday-every-other-friday schedule that her two siblings had previously.

Now, being a stay at home mom of eight years, I can’t explain to you what a shock to my system this is.  There was a tiny bit of sobbing involved…

…On my knees.  Hands raised to the sky.  Face a mask of horror.  Screaming “WHY??

I had fully expected to have two, sometimes three, days a week at home with my youngest.  I figured I could cop-out at home for another year at least before figuring out what to do with the rest of my existence.

Burst my bubble, why don’t you, Upper Canada District School Board?

As far as I can tell, I have several options that range between getting myself knocked up again (now that’s desperate), finding a part-time job (*visceral shudder*), or staying at home and cowering in the closet from the outside world as a “homemaker”.  Number three sounds like the most likely option at the moment.  

There’s a healthy dose of denial going on right now.  I’m just not ready to face what’s going to happen in six months.

My eyes glossy with unshed tears, I told Josie that she would be going to school every day just like Julia and James.

She patted my back gently (as she often does), looked me in the eyes and squeaked in her tiny three year old voice,  “It’s okay Mommy, you can still drop me off at the school bus.”

Sigh.  Six more months.

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Fess-Up Friday

Wha…?  Who….?  Huh?

Huzzah!

The kids were (are) lazing around and I was playing a very important game of “Scramble with friends” on the phone, when it just occurred to me… I should post something on my blog. 

Yes, I’m posting but this doesn’t mean I’m “back”.  I just felt like saying “hello!” and erg… sorry for disappearing without saying goodbye?  

In my defense, I think I got a little oppositional-defiance-disordery with myself.  I said to myself… “you can’t MAKE me do anything I don’t WANT to do.”  And my better self said, “but you HAVE to.  People are COUNTING on you.  I’M COUNTING on you.”  And my other self said, “B.S.  No one will even notice that I’m gone so take your blog and stick it where the sun don’t shine!”

Then I declared that 2012 was the year of “NO“.  I wouldn’t do anything this year that I didn’t bloody well want to do.  I would learn how to say “NO” to people who guilted me into doing things that over-extended myself (obviously that excludes the kids), and I think I had to start with saying “NO” to myself and to the blog.

Truly, the blog was never about other people… it was always about writing for the love of writing and just to sort out feelings about life and chronicle the highlights of my kids’ childhoods.  

The minute my blog became about making OTHER people happy, it became one more stress that I couldn’t handle and I stopped caring about it.  I’m thoughtful like that.

So, I’m back to posting, but I have absolutely no idea how often that will be.  Maybe once a month, maybe once a week.  Maybe more.

The kids are fabulous, by the way.  Creating Little Monsters doesn’t really describe them anymore.  I’m sure I’m putting my foot in my mouth to say this, and I should probably start knocking my head on some wood… but they’re so much more like “Little Angels” than “Little Monsters” these days.

I’ll never get over how intense this sort of love can be.  I just wish I could make them stop growing so fast.  Brain-wave! Maybe we build some sort of stasis machine?  I bet parents would buy them in droves!  Better still- a time machine!  More thoughts on that later.

Until next time,

Erin

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Don’t Label Him.

He’s smart.  He’s handsome.  He’s ridiculous.  He’s loving.  He’s generous.  He loves to read.  He loves to run.  He loves to be the best.  He has an easily bruised ego.  He doesn’t always make the best choices.  He has to learn the hard way…

… like his mom.

He’s my son.  His name is James, and as much as I try not to label him, I still do.

Sometimes being a parent really sucks the big one.

We think parenting a toddler is hard, but honestly, the hardest thing about parenting a toddler is making sure they are still breathing by the end of the day.  In the long term, who really cares if your kid can recite the alphabet song before they are two or if they are still pissing in their drawers when they are three?

When they’re tiny, it feels like these things are so critically important that your whole parenting reputation could be broken upon them.

Then your kid, who is certainly old enough to know better, steals a coveted toy from his friend, lies about it, and has to be put in a four-figure leg lock in order to get the truth out of him.

All your delusions of your child’s perfection are shattered and you realize – holy shizzledizzle! –  they really are human and not the second coming of Christ like you thought they might have had the potential to be.

Damnit.

You research the Seven Deadly Sins and realize that your child might indeed be prone to all of them.

Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, Gluttony.

Well, maybe not Lust – at least not yet.  Criminitly, he’s only six.  Though I’m sure he’ll succumb to that one too, in time.

It’s terrifying that someone might label your child a “bad” kid.  A problem child.  Uncontrollable.

Lessons like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” are helpful once you’ve taught them from seven billion different points of view.

Forcing them to prostrate themselves in front of their friend to apologize drives home the lesson a bit.

Grounding them from their favorite activities for a period of time reinforces the seriousness of their actions.

But did he learn his lesson?  I don’t know.  He wants to be like Luke, not like Anakin, so I think our Star Wars lesson was constructive.

Reflecting, I remembered when James was three years old and he was going through a horrid carbs-only eating jag.  I remembered how I kept telling him that when he was two years old he LOVED to eat carrots and peas and meat and all of the things he absolutely despised (Lies.  All lies). Within a very short time, he suddenly started trying most of the foods he had refused not long before.

And this memory is how I obtained some perspective.

I’ve always been a huge believer in self-fulfilling prophecy.  That is, when we label a person they become more prone to act as they have been classified.  I’m human too, and sometimes my beliefs gets all muddled when I’m having heavy feelings about a particular subject.

James is a wonderful boy. He is not a problem child.  Did he make a bad decision?  Yes.  Should he be punished forever?  No.  Will I make more of an effort to promote the wonderful traits he already possesses?  Yes.

Will I blow sunshine up his ass for every slightly honorable thing he does if I think it will promote his trustworthiness in the future?

You’re damn skippy I will.

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Bird Stalkers

Want to know a great way to keep your kids quiet and teach them something?  Well, this activity does both and is positively Montessori-esque.

Toilet Paper bird feeders!  You just can’t go wrong here.

A) Good for the environment – recycling toilet paper rolls!

B) Easy on the wallet… we had everything we needed hanging around the house.

C) Kids get to practice their fine motor skills.

D) Kids get some protein from the inevitable peanut butter nibbles they sneak.

E) When the birds eventually realize there is a buffet out there for them, they should be fun to watch.

F) Easy enough that the two year old can do it (mostly) independently.

G) The children will stare patiently out of a window for excessive periods of the time stalking waiting for the birds to arrive.  (Giving mommy a well deserved time-out, might I add.)

I’m sure I could go through the whole alphabet, but you get the point.

Just take an empty toilet paper roll, smother it in peanut butter and roll in bird seed.  Tie a string through it, or just slide the tube onto a branch and…

Voila!  Proud kids!

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10 things.

Just for fun -

10 things you didn’t know about me, that you really didn’t want to know about me.

10. I have an honest-to-God coffee addiction.  Moms often joke about coffee being their drug of choice, but seriously, I have a problem.

9. I have lots of blank spots in my memory.  Much of my early teenage years, some of my childhood.  Memories of grade school resurface occasionally and then I remember why I repressed them in the first place.  I was socially derelict.

8. I could have an entire conversation with you, but if I’m reading or thinking then I won’t remember a single syllable of that conversation.

7. I really hate socks.  Unless I’m working out, going to a wedding… or a funeral… I don’t wear them.  Even with boots.  Oh how my mother tried… I can be very stubborn.

6. I have constant earworms.  You could even just say a word or two that reminds me of a song and I’ll have it stuck in my head and yours before you can say “annoying“.  I hum and sing to myself all day.

5. I talk in my sleep.  When we were kids, my friends used to think this was a great sleepover game.  They’d ask me questions and write down all my nonsensical babblings.  Just call me Oracle Erin.  Also, they drew on my face and I would never make so much as a twitch.  I have awesome friends.

4. My childhood nickname (affectionately) was Er-Head (pronounced Air-Head).  ‘Nuff said.

3. I love watching people squirm.  I take great joy in saying or doing things that provoke emotion – sometimes even negative emotion.  I couldn’t give a hoot what people think of me, but I do enjoy making them think.

2. To fall asleep, I daydream before bed.  I’ve done so every night since I was a kid.  Sometimes naughty dreams too.  But for some sad reason, I always end up falling asleep before I get to the good parts.  Bummer.

1. I have something my friends lovingly refer to as foot-in-mouth disease. I vomit out my thoughts before they have the slightest opportunity to be edited.  Some people call this “tactlessness” but I like to think of it as a positive thing, you know?  At least you know I’ll always tell you the truth.

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Taming Little Monsters

I’m considering renaming my blog, though I’m wondering if “Little Monsters” might be a wee bit understated.

A better fit might be “Tiny Demon-Possessed Ankle-biters” or “Savage Midgets from Hell” or perhaps “Malicious Miniature Tyrants”.

If it goes any further, I might need to google an exorcist.

Things to be thankful for:  they have yet to levitate or climb on the walls – though they’ve been climbing everything else that’s not meant to be climbed.

And while I’m at it, who the hell decided it would be a brilliant idea for the fall-back time change to be precisely tuned to the week after Halloween? Not only are our kids all coming down from an exhausting sugar high, but they’re doubly tired.

And therefore doubly cranky, crazy, and irresponsible for their actions.

Also, doubly paranoid – the fallout from the spooky Halloween festivities.

Lesson for parents – don’t bring your young children into a haunted house on Halloween even if the owner tells you it “isn’t scary”.  Because it will be.  And then you’ll have to cope with multiple little ones crawling into your bed at night complaining of “bad dreams”.

Also, forget what your (my) dentist says.  Giving the kids free reign of their candy for a couple days and then throwing the rest out is a BAD IDEA.  I’m only just now finally seeing flashes of reason and patience returning to their little brains.

See?  I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.

But I called it, didn’t I?

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Like Stealing Candy from a Baby

Happy Halloween, folks!

So tell me honestly, how long did it take y’all to raid your kids’ candy stash?

Me?  My kids paid the Reese Peanut Butter Cup tax immediately after they walked through the doors.

Julia screamed so loudly at me while I was rifling through her bag that I’m pretty sure my ear drums are bleeding.  Did it stop me?  Not on your life.

Josie, currently my favorite child, keeps feeding me candy after candy.  She keeps giving me the good stuff too.  (In her defense, she’s only 2 and I’m pretty sure she has no idea that she’s supposed to be covetous of her treats.)

James is still out trick or treating with my mom.  I might have to sneak the candy from his bag after he’s asleep.  He holds grudges.

Lots of fun.

We dressed up our puppy, Boomer. She might end up not being such a wussie after all – about 5 minutes into our trick or treating she saw someone dressed in a Ghostface (Scream) costume and if I hadn’t been holding her close to me, I’m pretty sure she would have laid him flat.

The Hubs thinks candy is a gateway drug.  For the next two days my kids will get a free candy pass and will live off sugar, then it will all go in the garbage.  Then they will come down.  Hard.  It will be messy.  It will be scary.  It might even be a little bit funny.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here’s Julia as Optimus Prime, Josie as a Princess, and James as Bumblebee.

And Boomer, looking quite depressed, as the Rabbit of Caerbannog.  Or a Playboy Bunny.  Or something like that.

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Mothering the mother.

I’m on day 12 of having a common cold that won’t go away.  I knew it was happening when my immune system started firing on all cylinders a couple weeks ago.

Raw  throat – check.  Leaky nasal orifices – check.  Increased sinus pressure – check.  Violent sneezing fits – check.  Sudden urge to watch John Hughes movies – check.  Total inability to clean even a single dish or move laundry from washer to dryer – checkity check.

I hate being sick.  I’m a big baby.  I take full advantage of it too.  There are very few times in your life when you can feel completely guilt-free about lazing on the couch all day and letting the kids watch movies on repeat.

The last couple days I’ve been on a Dayquil bender and I’m finding joy in the most seemingly benign places; in the everyday occurrences that we take for granted.

I’m thankful for my husband.  Knowing a fair amount of single moms makes him particularly dear to me, especially when feeling pathetically wretched as I am of late.  Who else would harp at me to get a sweater and socks on, let me crawl into bed the minute he gets home from work, bring me water and rub my feet?  I wish every woman were so lucky.  I wish every woman would be able to take such a husband for granted.

I’m continually amazed by how caring my kids are when I show weakness.

I never pretend to be perfect – far from it .  I’m probably too honest with them (“I’ll kiss your boo-boo, but it’s not going to make it any better.”).  I let them watch movies that could give them nightmares.  I can become so angry that I can practically visualize back-handing them and have to remind myself to breathe.  Sometimes I give them treats they don’t deserve because I’m too tired to argue – or the flip side – sometimes I’m so unbending with the rules that I feel like I’m depriving them.  I don’t always know what to say or do to fix their problems – or sometimes I say or do too much.

No, I don’t think they’ll ever be under the illusion that their Mommy is perfect, but there certainly hasn’t been any love lost for it.

A child’s love is truly without conditions and constantly forgiving.  This is something all of us can learn from, I think.

When they play hairdresser with me, and brush my hair much more gently than I likely do with them, it reminds me of the need for patience.

I’m grateful for children who play unnaturally well together and who are sublimely thrilled for the chance to have mac n’ cheese for lunch – and dinner too.

My heart bursts when they try and kiss my boo-boos away and that they are genuinely sympathetic when I ask them to turn the television down because of a blasting sinus headache.    It reminds me to be more tender – because as someone who generally believes that suffering is a character-building activity, I can sometimes be too hard.

It’s painful to slow down.  Being forced to take it easy makes me realize how simply spending time together, be it sitting at the table doing puzzles, lazing on the floor and letting them crawl all over me, or cuddling on the couch and watching a movie, means so much more to the kids than having a clean house or having the finest quality of food.  I already knew that, but it’s difficult to always put that knowledge into practice.

I can already feel my energy beginning to siphon back to me and I’m dreading it.  Being able to multitask again, I will have so many things on my mind that it will be a struggle to just be thankful, and be loving, and be patient.  To be simple.  To simply, be.

But now I will try harder.  I come out of this with the understanding that having a bad cold now and then is a most excellent reminder  about what’s important.  My cup is, once again, full.

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Tooth Fairies these days…

James lost his third tooth a few nights ago when his sister Julia kicked him in the head coming down a slide and the tooth fell right out.  True story.

We tucked the tooth under his pillow, and as we were about to say goodnight I made a jest about how it seemed like the Tooth Fairy had been going on a lot of vacations lately since so many of my friends’ kids haven’t been receiving their tooth fairy money promptly.

Jon poo-poo’ed the joke saying the Tooth Fairy in OUR house is always on time and never takes vacations.

Which is why James was so much more disappointed when the very next morning he looked under his pillow and there was, of course, as Murphy’s law would have it, no money and a lonely little tooth.

“Oh dear, maybe since you lost the tooth so late in the day, the tooth fairy didn’t have enough time to make it over here.”  I lied through my teeth as the guilt got stuck in my throat.

The next night, the Tooth Fairy thankfully did manage to swing by, snatched the tooth and dropped some cash.

A few nights later, another of James’s teeth fell out while biting into a hamburger.  We put it under the pillow.  The next morning James woke up to find a bright shiny toonie under his pillow – and a little tooth in a ziplock baggy.

“Mooommm!  The Tooth Fairy forgot to take my tooth!”

“Geez, the quality control of the Tooth Fairies is seriously lacking these days.”

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10 ways to tell if you’re “done”.

Is it time to close up shop?  You know – the baby factory?

Read ahead and find out.

10.  You’ve stopped clipping coupons for diapers and formula.

9.  You start closing the bathroom door and demanding your privacy.

8.  You have so many layers of regrowth hair from each of your previous kids, not to mention the halo-like fringe around your scalp, that you wake up every morning looking like a electrified peacock.

7.  You’re looking forward to being selfish for the first time in a long time.  Planning a vacation, a new job, new hobby, joining the gym, training for a marathon, etc.

6.  Hubby has finally been allowed access to the boobs that were on temporary loan to your children.

5.  You almost always get to sleep through the night and for the first time in years have enough energy to stay up past 11PM.

4.  You hear a random newborn crying and rather than leaking milk down your shirt or having vividly emotional flashbacks to your own children’s new baby phase, your hair stands on end and you cringe cringe cringe.

3.  You start giving away your baby paraphernalia with a glee that borders on insanity – Goodbye disgusting high chair! Farewell change table!  Be gone cloth diapers!

2.  Your friend gets herself knocked up and you literally point and laugh.

1.  Aunt Flo is late – or maybe not – maybe you’re just being paranoid.  You pee on a stick, and by some miracle you don’t black-light search for that super-faint-but-must-be-there second line.  In fact, you’re genuinely relieved when it’s negative.

If you can commiserate with the above, then it’s all but guaranteed you’re “done”.  Hopefully your significant other agrees.

Good luck!

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