Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Weather Calls for Showers

Today was the day.  I have been meaning to go to the library for some time to get a library card and to see how Evan and Chloe could handle a place where silence reigns supreme and everyone moves at a slow and controlled pace.  Getting the card was a success... and it turns out that neither Evan nor Chloe is truly ready for the library (since they saw it as a place to climb all over the chairs, chase each other down aisles, and literally climb through empty bookshelves).  So I grabbed some books on topics that have been coming up in conversation, vowed to come back with only one of them at a time or by myself (but that would mean I'd have to be alone which has been rare in the last 16 months), and left the library.

(On a completely unrelated note Evan, who has decided that potty training is nothing but a power struggle so we have put him completely in charge of his own destiny so he chooses when to wear underwear and when not to, chose to wear underwear to the library today.  Once there, I had to gently coerce him - read walk his tantrum-throwing-behind - to the restroom since he clearly had to go... and he did.  He used a public restroom.  It wasn't a stall it was a family restroom but it wasn't his either.  I'm proud of him for that.)

Outside of the Rockville Public Library is Rockville Town Square.  In the town square is a patch of turf (which was being replaced but is usually a good place to let the kids run around), a stage where they put on live music but they don't like children to play on, and an interactive fountain.  Since all of our public pools are closed for the summer I thought for sure that the fountain would be closed too (and it wasn't on when we went in to the library so I felt supported in my assumption).

But, and I'm sure you saw this coming, I was wrong.  The fountain was on when we walked outside.  And while it wasn't super warm at 11:00 AM this morning it was sunny and warm enough so that when my daughter squealed and ran to the fountains and my son was saying "No Chlo-Chlo, we don't have our bathing suits," I decided to just say "F--- it," (but not out loud to them) and let them run in the fountain.

Here was the little girl:

And here was the little man:

And here is the live action shot of the chaos:

They were so wet, having so much fun, and so obviously not prepared clothes-wise that I had nannies stopping and watching.  No kidding.  Once even told me I was brave - but they were all smiling.

Of course I was not prepared to have my children running through a fountain today so as they sat there soaking wet and freezing I had to think on my feet.  Since Evan wore underwear today I had a baggie or extra clothes in my diaper bag.  Therefore, Chloe got Evan's t-shirt and Evan got a new pair of underwear and shorts.  I even had another extra pair of underwear I used to sponge off the children.  Then we came home, Evan and I ate tuna sandwiches while Chloe showed her disdain for a non-peanut butter, non-banana, and non-mac and cheese meal by pushing her dish away from her immediately. 

And then Chloe took a nap while Evan decided he wasn't tired (second time this week... I'm worried about this).  And they all lived happily ever after (until the next blow-up).

As an aside - and something that has nothing to do with this actual post but that I thought of when I titled this post - one time Evan looked outside on a sunny day and said in his best 80-year old retired weatherman voice "I think it's going to rain" and my response was, "Why?  Do you feel it in your bones?"  So now, whenever he tells me it is going to rain he tells me he feels it in his "toes."  Sometimes I want to hug him instead of strangle him.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dinner: Clothing Optional

My friend Robin sent me a journal she found ("I'm a Parent?: A journal to ponder the unfathomable circumstance that I somehow have offspring...). It's really funny and each entry offers you the prompt: Why I'm a Less-Than-Perfect Parent Today. But she really sent it to me because there are TONS of quotes that she knew I would love. I may or may not use the journal but I'm definitely going to use the quotes as inspiration for this blog (because sometimes I just can't post another photo of a cute child at the park/sleeping/in stroller/outside/etc).  So, let’s begin.


“I don’t really know what to discipline my kids about because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them.  My son does outrageous things like taking his pants off at the table, and I know I should object but I find them so amusing.  Maybe I’m making monsters of them but I can’t help myself.”

-- Uma Thurman


This was the first quote I read that made me stop and think about things so I’m going to use this one as my first “discussion quote”  (now you know I’m serious when I name something).


Here are my immediate reactions to this quote:

·         I’m not fond of Uma Thurman as an actor.  She always seems to disappear in things.  I'll say it – her paleness creeps me out.

·         Taking pants off at the table is outrageous?  Evan often takes off his pants and pull-ups – naked dinners are not unusual in our house.

·         This is going to make her children a monster? According to whom.

And then it hit me, according to “Them”… those ubiquitous people out there who are judging us all the time (even when you are alone in your house,  no one is around, and you put on the same socks you wore yesterday because you smelled them and they don’t smell all that bad… They saw it and have judged you).  And you know what, whether or not They are right I’m on Uma’s side and this quote hits to the core of a constant parenting struggle I have (turns out I don’t dislike Uma all that much).

On most days my basic parenting dogma is that Evan and Chloe should be allowed to have as much exploratory fun and learning as they can without disrespecting anyone else’s rights to the same existence AND without ruining property (mine or anyone else’s… although I’m still on the fence about them ruining their own property).  Therefore, when Evan takes off his pants at the table I can’t see how this goes against my dogma.  Where is he in violation?

But there is a voice in my head that says, “Evan shouldn’t be doing that.  Make him stop.”  Typically the voice sounds like my mother.  And it isn’t because she sticks her nose in my parenting (she is actually really good about trying to step back and even succeeds 90% of the time) but because that was how she raised me (and probably how most people in her generation raised children).  There were all these rules about what children had to do.  They had to sit to eat, ask to be dismissed, be fully clothed at the table, have their elbows down when they cut their meat (my poor sister got poked in her elbow at almost every dinner for this one), etc, etc, etc.  I’m sure most of you know what I’m talking about. 

And why did kids need to do this?  Because these were the rules that They set forth.  And I learned to do them well and in most cases I still do them (although I no longer ask to be dismissed).  But I’m not sure how I benefited from these rules.  Yes, they let me fit in well.  I can sit down and eat with old money, new money, and no money and not stick out as someone “without manners”.  I’m sure there are other benefits that I’m overlooking but when I try to push this on my 3-year old I can’t think of any.

I’ve become this split parent.  Some days I try to do what They want me to.  On those days I have power struggles, screaming, tears, and Evan doesn’t like it either.  Some days I try to do what I think I should do.  On those days I have indoor picnics, play hide-and-seek, make forts, paint Styrofoam coolers and string them together to make a train (and by the way, what I think I should do still includes things like respecting other human beings, sharing, and other things that are not so fun for a 3-year old). 

So here’s the thing (and They aren’t going to like this), but it turns out I don’t really care about Them.  I don’t care if I offend Them, I don’t care if They decide I’m a crappy parent (okay, well sometimes I do care which is what makes me think I should parent how They want me to but I’m really going to fight against that), so I’m done with Them (until a moment of weakness and I make Evan do something ridiculous like use a fork instead of eating like a dog).  I’m going to try and parent like I think I should and not let Their judgment sway me to abandon my beliefs.  And this means that my children might:

·         Eat dinner while standing on a turtle stool,

·         Not wear shoes on their walk home from the playground,

·         Put stickers on our refrigerator,

·         Carry his chair throughout the house, and

·         Other nefarious things that will someday make them monsters in society.

And be forewarned, if you come to our house for dinner, clothing is only optional for those under 5 years old (and I reserve the right to change that age at any time).

Monday, September 24, 2012

For Joanna: Happy Wedding

My best friend from college (and college roommate) is getting married.  I know, weepy eyes and all.  Sadly, (for me only) she is still in Boston and I’m just far enough away to make it difficult to pick up and drive there with 2 kids and I’m just far enough away to make the airline prices insane (seriously, what’s up with airfare – looks like car trips need to make a come back).  So I couldn’t make it to her bridal shower.

Thankfully she loved her shower.  I know she didn’t want any games or anything stereotypical at her shower so I’m pretty sure she skipped out on all that marital advice that you usually get but what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t let her participate in this age-old ritual of married people letting the newbie know all the ways to make her marriage as perfect as the advice giver’s marriage.

And then I thought, let’s face it, no one’s marriage is perfect and I don’t know any more about marriage than my friend probably already knows.  But this small little road bump isn’t going to stop me from adding my two cents to the library of useless advice.

I’ve decided to take the top 5 pieces of advice given to me (and still given to me) and give you the reality of that advice according to my marriage.

1.       Don’t go to bed angry.

At first glance this advice sounds really good and logical.  I mean, who wants to be all wound up when you are trying to go to bed?  Right?  And you are even able to make this happen a few times.  And then life gets in the way.  Something comes up at 9:30pm, you have a fight, you have to make lunch for your kids, your husband has some big presentation tomorrow and needs to work on it, your fighting in between doing chores all at the same time trying not to wake up the children and then it’s 11:30 and you need to go to sleep.  Guess what – you’re still angry.  And you need to go to bed.

So, here is my advice:

·         If you fight, just stay up all night.

·         Don’t talk after 6:00 pm at night.

·         Learn how to wind down quickly so you can sleep angry.

2.       Your spouse is with you for life, your kids for 18 years.

I believe the thinking behind this one is to always remember that your spouse is #1 because your children are fleeting.  And again, this is a no-brainer.  I mean when Chloe and Evan leave the house Brian and I could still have like 30 years together alone (God willing that we both live that long and that Chloe and Evan actually leave our house).  So if we only focus on our kids for 18 years that transition will be tough.

But, I’m thinking someone needs to remind us of this in about 5 more years (or more) because right now I take care of 3 people in this house (Brian, Evan, and Chloe in case you weren’t sure) and out of those 3, there is only one who has the full capacity to: bathe himself, wipe himself, cook for himself, pick up after himself, feed himself, put himself to sleep, etc.  So, I am probably a little more focused on the 2 who NEED things done for them rather than the 1 who would LIKE it if I did things for him.

3.       Remind yourself of the reasons you fell in love with him.

This one I fully support.  Because there will be at least one time, in the middle of some stupid fight, when you will look at your husband and wonder how you are going to spend the rest of your life with this man.  Seriously, it’s going to happen.  The goal is that you override that feeling, recognize it as the heat of the moment, and then you remember why you fell in love with him to begin with.

But, just in case, go ahead and write down those reasons now.  Put that piece of paper somewhere you can have access to it when needed, and read it… as often as you need to.

4.       Most fights are about more than the obvious topic.

I’m sure this one came from my mom since it sounds very therapist-y.  And it basically means that a cigar is hardly ever a cigar.  I like to point to the great bowl fight of 2003.  That was the year Brian moved in to my condo (I mean, to live in the spare bedroom – right Mom?).  He took a mixing bowl and put it in the freezer (I can’t remember why) and I lost it on him telling him that the bowl can’t go in the freezer and he needs to respect my things or not touch them if he doesn’t know what they do… blah blah blah.  It became this HUGE fight and was probably our first big one.

Turns out I was just freaking out about someone sharing my space and he was freaking out about living in MY space.  This took a few days for us to figure out, but once we did we could address the issues.

Basically, if at any point your brain tells you this fight is ridiculous, then it’s probably about something bigger that isn’t so tangible.

Brian and I tend to yell and scream before we figure out the issues.  I’m not advocating this method, but figure out how it will work for you.

5.       You never know what is going on in someone else’s marriage.

When we were first married I looked around to see how other people handled things (this is how most human beings handle things).  There were some moments where I would even compare Brian and I to others.  And then I would talk to someone and they would tell me the truth – that marriage is awesome but it is also really difficult.  Living with someone on a daily basis makes it easy to focus on how much it annoys you that he doesn’t put the toilet paper roll on the right way.  It also makes it easy to forget all the good things (see #3).  It does take work but it should also bring peace.   And that it is NEVER as easy as it looks.

But in all honestly, Joanna, I wish you peace and joy in your marriage.  I hope that you think of your husband as your best friend and that there is no one else with whom you’d like to share a bottle of wine. Salut!

If you all have anything to share with Joanna or any myths to debunk please feel free to leave a comment!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Warning: There is Some Serious Cuteness Here

So, we finally got our shit together and took the initiative to get family photos done (my brother-in-law took some fabulous family photos of us earlier this year - was it that recently? - and we just haven't gotten around to making choices for final prints... we are professional procrastinators) of our family with Brian's parents as well.  As I said, Brian and I are King and Queen of procrastination so I think Ashley Dougherty was perfect for us since she sends us our photos on a DVD and within certain parameters we are allowed to reproduce or share the photos as we wish.  She was wonderful with the children, one of whom wouldn't sit still and one of whom needed 45 minutes to warm up before she would smile, great with my in-laws, and really seems to understand the flow of our family.  I love the photos and wanted to share with you all my favorites:

This is such an amazing picture of Chloe.  I think it captures her sweetness and mischief all in one.

Hello - how much do I love pictures from behind?  And then to have Chloe turn around... priceless.

This is my little man at his finest - crazy hair and all.

If I wore a locket, this is the picture I would put in it.

Three generations. 

Come on... I know you want one of him but he is one of a kind... thankfully. 

Someone had all she could stands... but how could I not include a photo of "Daddy's little girl"?

One big happy family.
Thanks Ashley - you exceeded our expectations!