Wednesday, May 30, 2007

When we go on “vacation”

Following Memorial Day the kids and I went with Rich to Boise who had to be there on business. What could be more fun than a few days in a hotel with my blessed children?! Here’s an account (haha) of what happened (because I’m so good with numbers…)

10. Number of hours it took us to drive there and back

9. Total number of kids meals purchased

8. Time we all fell asleep our first night in Boise

7. Number of kids meal toys that will actually make it home

6. Number of chewable ibuprofen tablets administered to children during our stay

5. Number of hours it took Kaleb to recuperate after falling from the monkey bars and spraining his ankle at Liberty Park

4. Number of hours the kids napped the second day of our trip

3. Times we ate waffles at the hotel’s continental breakfast

2. Times we locked ourselves out of our room and had to request a new hotel key. Also the number of times Zack disrobed at Chuck E. Cheese.

1. Times a toddler must throw-up in order to clear the hotel swimming pool

More later…

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Potty Training Diaries, Entry #1

I know, I know. I should've taken care of this months ago. Believe me, I tried, but now that the child is three we're down to the wire. If anything this post will tickle all those moms who still have potty-training resistant children under three. Yes, you are better mommies than I…

Today is the first day of Potty Training Bootcamp. Hopefully, the end of this post will mark the successful deposit of one, if not multiple, pee pee’s or poo-poo’s into the "potty."

Day One—I went to three stores, count them, THREE stores, to find padded training pants. The Super K is the winner of today’s potty-trainer-friendly award. And now I’m worried the boy’s bladder is going to explode. He knows enough to hold it for hours at a time. And all we got today was a wet pull-up from his nap and wet, padded undies around 6pm. Sheesh! We’ve got a live Sponge-Zack Padded Pants on our hands.

Day Two—He’s resisting the padded training pants. I’ve seen more of Zack’s backside today than I care to admit. My favorite Zackisms so far include: “Don’t flusha me down the potty, Mommy.” (Could he tell I was tempted?) And then, “Mommy, I not a poo-poo. I Zack!” (Phew! Glad we cleared that up.)

Later… For the record, I’m not too keen on the idea of free will for a three-year old. Especially when it means forcibly putting on padded underpants that get discarded the minute I’m out of sight. And still, no tinkle in the potty.

Day Three—We took a potty break today. No, it’s not what you think; we took a break from potty training today. Not because I gave up (although I’m close), but because we went on Kaleb’s kindergarten field trip to the zoo (that’s another blog…). So he wore pull-ups until he woke up from his nap. And now that he’s wearing undies (I take that back—he took them off again) I’m just not sure where the kid’s packin’ his waste. He sure does know how to hold it. Where’s Dr. Sears when you need him?

Day Four—After just three full days of fighting with the kid who can’t stand the padded underpants, I surrendered. Potty-training bootcamp is officially over. My potty-training philosophy (yes, I have one) has always been that I’ll approach it when they seem ready. You know, aware of their bodily functions and generally interested in the toilet. Zack is neither (okay, so I’m fudging a bit. The kid definitely knows how to hold it). And more than that, he’s flat out boycotting the whole bathroom experience. Rich and I had decided (was it a past life or really just three years ago?) that we didn’t want to make potty training a bigger issue than it has to be. And these past three days it’s been HUGE! I allowed myself to become all too self-conscious that my 3-year old still wears diapers (although I’ve graduated the kid to pull-ups, whether or not the potty is his friend). So as of right now, my son is not potty trained, and he has yet to make one single happy deposit into the toilet. I’ve backed away from the bootcamp and have taken it down a notch to subliminal messaging (next week the hypnotist comes).

Sadly, there will more on this later…

Thursday, May 24, 2007

He's no bully...

Well, I don't have to worry about Zack not standing up for himself, that's for sure. This week's column was inspired by our little activist...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Leah's New Prayer

This is important enough to her that she's repeated it two nights in a row now...

"Heavenly Father,
--traditional introductory stuff, yada, yada, yada--
Please bless me to be dry,
Bless me not to think Monster House is real,
Bless me that big aliens will not come and eat me*,
And bless me that I will dream of princesses...Amen."

*Dear Daddy: Maybe next time we should change the channel before the little children watch Tom Cruise try to save Dakota Fanning from the big aliens. Note to self: Put Monster House away with the other nightmare-causing and/or agression-inducing vids.

The Girl Cracks Me Up

This is a delicate issue, and until now I’ve been afraid to address it. My beautiful, 4-year old daughter has chronic plumber’s crack. Little Miss Leah with the long blonde hair, the dimple in her right check, and the mischievous grin either has a crack as long as the Eastern Peninsula or inverted hips, I’m not sure which. Regardless of the cause (and the size of her pants) she flashes the top of her bum just about everywhere she goes. Just yesterday, while at Kaleb’s kindergarten performance of “Jack in the Beanstalk: the Musical” (that’s right, there’s a musical) Leah’s 85-year old great uncle had to hitch up her pants to cover the crack. Oh, the horror!

The truth is, plumber’s crack is plumber’s crack, whether you’re a licensed Roter Rooter man or an adorable preschooler, it’s just not attractive. And so far we’ve tried everything imaginable to remedy the problem. We’ve a tried a belt, and within minutes her pants are synched further down on her hips, creating bum cleavage. We’ve tried smaller pants, but then she’s wearing gauchos. And regardless of how many times I ask her to pull her pants up, or manually hitch them up myself, she leaves behind (haha—I said behind) countless half moons. So much for modesty.

I worry about her kindergarten debut. How often will her teacher ask her to pull up her pretty little pants? And you know how those kinds of things stick with you. I graduated with this kid from high school who threw up way back in the third grade. Do I remember his name? Nope. Just the fact that he threw up one desk behind me, and when the janitor came to clean it up he sprinkled sawdust all over it.

So I’ve become uber-paranoid, wondering if there’s some way I can keep her pants up when she’s not in my direct company. Any ideas? (And please don't suggest suspenders...) Sheesh, they can send a guy to the moon…

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rebel-without-a-Cause Pony

So my dad went to a yardsale and bought out their Little Pony selection for Leah (I know. That alone is too cute for words.). So we got the package in the mail today and of all the adorable ponies he sent, she likes this one best. The Pineapple Mohawk Pony (see its butt? That's a pineapple.). "Mom," she said, completely awestruck. "She's beauuuuutiful." Thanks, Dad! :)

Our U4 Division Soccer Champ

Ahhh. The next Mia Hamm maybe?

Soccer Hair

I may not be able to do my own hair, but dang, I'm good at soccer hair!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Hussy Next Door

Okay, so she’s not really a hussy. And she doesn’t live next door. But she did surprise the mamacita out of me.

Kaleb, barely six years old, was kissed yesterday for the first time by someone he is not related to. That someone is an adorable little girl who lives down the street. Floozy.

Apparently, while playing swords and guns in her backyard, she professed her undying love to my son and planted a big, wet one on his lips. On. The. Lips. Whatever happened to playing hard to get? To sending a note with check-boxes? To being saturated with Kooties? Those were the good ole days.

Worse yet, I got the information second-hand. Okay, so I eavesdropped on a conversation Kaleb had with his friend Kaiden. I’ll fast-forward to the good parts.

“Kaleb has a girlfriend,” Kaiden sang (you know the tune). “Kaleb has a girlfriend.”

“That’s gross,” Kaleb said. “I told her she would give me germs.”

“That’s okay,” Kaiden said. “You can marry her.”

This is where I butted in. “Sorry, guys, but we have a rule in our family. No kids are allowed to get married until they’re 30.”

“My mom lets me get married whenever I want,” Kaiden said. (Note to self: share this with Kaiden’s mom.)

Later, while alone with Kaleb at the grocery store, I made a few clarifications to the new family rule.

“Kaleb, you know that you’re too young to have a girlfriend, right?”

“I know, Mom,” he said. “I don’t want a girlfriend.”

“You need to wait until you’re about 16 before you can have a girlfriend.”

“How about 21?” he offered.


“Okay,” he said.

I think it’s safe to sleep for another few years…

Friday, May 18, 2007

Soccer Mom on Probation

It’s official. Two months ago I enrolled Kaleb and Leah in the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO); I’ve become a bona fide soccer mom. But before you get all impressed, let me just say that I’m close to having that prestigious title revoked. The organization is currently in talks to suspend my children for violation of AYSO code, title 9, chapter 1, § 101: having delinquent soccer parents.

It’s horrible, I know. My husband and I have countless excuses; we’re busy, forgetful, distracted, uncoordinated and have never played soccer before in our lives. The important thing is that we recognize our faults and are trying to make amends.

But before I begin my very public penance, let me explain. It all started with one missed practice. It seemed innocent enough. The first practice was at five, but that night the coach informed us that future practices would be held at four; same field, different time. I forgot. I not only forgot, but I was late to the practice at the wrong time. I chased the coach to his car, apologizing for my forgetfulness and making promises that would soon be blatantly violated.

We went on vacation. We were gone for a week. We forgot about soccer. We missed two practices and two soccer games per child (okay, okay, so that makes four practices and four soccer games.). A coach called and left us a message. We were to inform him whether or not Leah would be playing soccer; he needed all his Division U4 (preschool) players in attendance when possible.

Again, I offered a profuse apology, vowing my devotion to soccer and all that is AYSO. The coach sounded unimpressed, even a tad reproachful. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I would never miss another practice or game, so help me soccer.

That Saturday, game day, it snowed, a cold and slushy snow. It was May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, and my two sons were celebrating their birthdays. Regardless of birthday distractions I was determined to emulate my role as soccer mom. We may not end up with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday cake, but my kids would go to their soccer games.

Soon it was noon and Coach 1 had already called to tell us Kaleb’s game had been cancelled. The other game was to start in just 30 minutes. I assumed it had been cancelled too, but when I still hadn’t heard from Coach 2 fifteen minutes later, I called to check the status. As far as he knew, there was a game. You know what they say when you assume, he joked. Even the soccer zealot’s a wise guy, I thought.

I hung up the phone in full soccer-mom mode. In ten minutes we had dressed my daughter in her uniform, complete with hip socks, shin guards, and cleats. The soccer bag was filled with bottled water, snacks, extra jackets, and the camera. The minivan was loaded with folding chairs, and everyone was headed out the door when the phone rang.

It was Coach 2. “I’m here at the field and it looks like the game’s been cancelled,” he said, laughing nervously.

I waved everyone back into the house. “We were going, you know,” I said to the coach. “We were heading out the door.”

But he misunderstood. “I’m sorry about that. We’ll see you next week.”

He hung up the phone before I could finish. “See,” I said to no one in particular. “I’m a good soccer mom. A serious soccer mom.” The Division U4 soccer coach didn’t hear a word. And neither did one single ranking member of the AYSO.

Later, still wearing her soccer uniform, my daughter asked, “When can I take ballet?”

Hhmmm, I thought. Dance classes. Maybe I have a crack at being a decent ballet mom.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Our Walk with a Potato Bug

My daughter, Princess Contrary, is quite the puzzle. In some ways she’s a typical girl, playing dress-up, wearing mommy’s lip gloss, and talking, non-stop, about ponies. In other ways she’s completely unexpected and complex (But aren’t we all, ladies?). She loves to play in the mud, wrestle hard with her brothers, and befriend bugs. Last night she took a potato bug on our walk.

I didn’t know we had company until we were halfway to the high school track (note: Is there a better pre-bedtime haunt? A fenced raceway. Run, kids, run!).

“Mom, wait,” she said. “I can’t drop the potato bug.” She’s been searching endlessly for ladybugs since the weather turned; I guess she settled for the potato bug last night. So we waited for Leah and her potato bug to catch up. Again. And again. And yet again.

As we walked I decided which member of the animal kingdom I envy most. You know that party game: If you were an animal, which would you be? I always thought it was a silly question, until last night. I’d be a duck.

Have you ever seen a duck cross the street with her ducklings? When I worked at BYU a little webbed flock would show up now and then, and occasionally a mother and her ducklings would decide to cross a busy university street. Drivers would stop and let the crew waddle safely to the sidewalk. Did the mother duck have to turn around and chastise her ducklings? Tell them to hustle? Wave a stray beak back in line? Push the runt over a bump on his little ducky trike? No. They followed their mother without one quack of protest, even in the face of looming danger (yes, student drivers are dangerous!).

Me? I look like the Crazy Loon when my flock crosses the street. We may all start from the same corner, but we don’t get to the other side in an orderly fashion. Kaleb weaves back and forth on his big kid bike, Leah stops and starts as she talks to the bug in her cupped hand, and Zack, depending on his mood, either zooms or creeps across on his squeaky Lightening McQueen trike. All the while I’m body-blocking children in various stages of cross from oncoming traffic. Squeak, squeak, squeak.

But we all got home safely. Hoorah!

Why did the mommy cross the road? Again. And again. And yet again? To tucker out the rowdy crew before bedtime.

Mission accomplished (although the potato bug, I’m sad to say, didn’t make it.).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What Motherhood Has Taught Me (so far...)

Now that Mothers Day has come and gone I’ve had the chance to think about lessons motherhood has taught me so far. Here are just a few:

  • I can stand to see a fair amount of blood without getting faint.
  • You can make a child scream simply by pointing tweezers at a sliver in their foot.
  • Sometimes Mothers Day sucks (still bitter, I know).
  • There is no amount of timeout that will deter a three-year old from emptying the ashes from a fireplace, twice!
  • Children look cutest after making the biggest messes.
  • If you think one itsy bitsy negative thought, the Universe will multiply that thought by the number of children you have and return it to you (Law of Distraction). Hence, the last time we went to Sonic, all three of my children spilled their fry sauce in the back seat of the car.
  • To a three-year old, a litter box is an indoor sandbox.
  • The laundry shoot is the first place to look for missing kitchen utensils.
  • Regardless of how you slice it, the Daddy Voice is much more effective than the Mommy Voice.
  • A toilet brush can disappear from our home without a trace (although I’m sure there’s a microscopic trail that runs through every room in the house. Call in CSI!).

Please, add your own!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mothers Day Rant

Okay, so this morning I told my lovely children that all I wanted for Mothers Day was,

1. good behavior at church, and
2. a nice long nap

To this they all happily agreed, their angel wings aflapping behind them and not one halo askew. What did I get? One hour of Sacrament Tango punctuated with Zack yelling out, "Stupid!" to no one in particular but perhaps the elderly lady sitting next to us. And maybe I should be thankful, because it means I missed most of the talks about mothers in line for sainthood. Me? I'm standing by the exit with a weretoddler on my hip.

So I have a suggestion or two for the bishopbric next year. Please don't get me a potted pant, a hankie, or even a candy bar. Do us all a favor and let sacrament meeting out 15 minutes early. That's all I ask.

Phew. The rant is over. It's now time for my nap. Happy Mothers Day to me!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Mothers Day!

My sister-in-law recently had a baby; she now has three children 4 and under. It’s caused me to watch other new moms, remembering just what it’s like to have a handful of young children close together, punctuated with a newborn. And because my own children are just 6, 4, and 3, I empathize with the women who get little sleep, no down time, and the occasional patch of mastitis. To all of you out there, I’ve got one thing to say: neener, neener, neener.

Truth is, time hasn’t changed too much around here. We own one car seat and two boosters, carry diapers on long trips, and get a little excited when we have just cause to administer Benadryl. Timeout is still a popular activity at my house and my youngest still thinks the toilet is a decoration. We’re all in this together.

When Zack was born, Kaleb was three (to the day) and Leah was almost two. Ever since then the most common piece of advice I get is, “Enjoy them while they’re young; they grow up before you know it.” I’ll be honest; I’ve been known to respond, “Then grow up already” a time or two under my breath.

When Kaleb was just a baby, I was an awkward and self-conscious new mom, questioning practically everything I did. From discipline to television monitoring, the gray areas of parenting seemed vast. But regardless of my insecurities, there were sublime moments that were completely and joyfully unquestionable. Kissing an owie better, carrying a sleeping child to bed, pushing a child in a swing, tucking a child in, reading a bedtime story, and putting on and taking off tiny tennis shoes.

I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news? This will all be over before we know it. The bad? This will all be over before we know it.

Lately I’ve had micro-panic attacks where I realize my children have outgrown some of those sublime moments. Kaleb’s gotten so big that I struggle with his weight and can’t carry him gracefully to bed. Most of the time I have to volunteer to kiss the owie, and both Kaleb and Leah can get their shoes on and off by themselves. I’ve had to find new moments to treasure. These days I help with homework, send children off to school with a kiss and a wave, go to soccer games, console children when their feelings get hurt, and watch the occasional sloppy go at an ice cream cone. There’s a part of me that misses those younger moments because I know that in parenting you can only move forward and never back (although if you suggest I have another baby I may hyperventilate).

So to all you mothers out there, regardless of whether your children are young or old, many or few, biological or adopted, I wish you a Happy Mothers Day. Maybe, just maybe, it can be a day where we celebrate the joys of motherhood rather than berate ourselves for not measuring up. And maybe it can also be a day where you get some rest, take some time for yourself, and treasure the moments you do have. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Kaleb, 5 yrs.

About the only good thing that came from our Sears Portrait experience were these three pictures. I almost forget just how devilish they were in the picture studio. *sigh*

Leah, 4 yrs.

Zack, 2.5 yrs

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lost in Translation

My youngest son Zack has been talking now for over a year, and I’ve just barely started to understand him. I wasn’t one of those parents who could translate for her child. He would babble on and on to which another adult would ask, smiling, “What’s he saying?”

I would shrug. “I dunno.”

That wasn’t the case for Kaleb and Leah. They were talking much sooner and I would volunteer their pearls of wisdom to anyone who would listen. “Did you hear that?” I would say. “Kaleb just said, ‘the dynamics of this playgroup are stimulating, intense, and strangely satisfying.’ How cute.” So either I’ve lost my touch or I never it in the first place.

The last couple months, Kaleb and Leah have begun translating for Zack. Just a few days ago, Zack rambled something off that I didn’t quite understand. Worse yet, it ended with a question.

“What did he say?” I asked Leah.

“Oh, he said he wants to have some cake,” Leah said. Then after thinking about it a bit longer she added, “He wants all of us to have some cake.” I raised one eyebrow. “And eat it too,” she punctuated.

“He didn’t say he wants a banana? Because I thought I heard him say ‘nana’,” I said.

“No. He doesn’t want a banana. But he said that if you have banana cake we should have some.”

Kaleb is equally helpful. “Mom, Zack’s asking you if it’s okay to watch a movie tonight even though I have school tomorrow,” he said late one afternoon.

“Oh, really?”

“Yes,” Kaleb said. “He thinks that if we start watching a movie now we would still have time to brush our teeth and read books before bed.”

“That’s all Zack said?”

“Oh, and he wants to know if we can have popcorn too, the kind I like with real melted butter.”

“Wow. What a chatterbox.”

So I’ve decided to turn the tables on them. When they offer their highly expert translations I respond in kind.

When Leah says, “Zack wants to know if we can get McDonalds drive-thru,” I say, “Are you sure that’s what he said? Because I clearly heard him ask if we could all do extra chores before naptime.” Or when Kaleb proclaims, “Zack said that Daddy told him we could all share a can of his soda,” I explain, “No. I think you missed the intonation of the transitive noun in that sentence. He obviously wants to know if you can all share a glass of wheat germ.”

Needless to say, they no longer translate for their little brother.

But of course, all this is loosely based on my translation of events. And heaven’s knows my skills ain’t what they used to be.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Purse Party

Last month I traveled 534 miles to Clarkston, Washington to attend a purse party my mom was hosting.

I’m not a girly girl and never really have been. I rarely wear makeup, the majority of my clothes are hand-me-ups (given to me by my younger sisters), and until I had children, the best purse, to me, was simply a wallet with a strap. Traveling 8 hours to a purse party was uncharacteristic for me.

But it was actually a lot of fun. And forgive me ladies, because I’m going to indulge a bit and perpetuate a female stereotype. Sometimes some woman (myself included) can be a titch indecisive. Not all the time, and not even a lot of the time, but every now and then being indecisive is a celebrated female art. And it seems the Purse Party, more than the Tuperware party, the Pampered Chef party, or even the Mary Kay party, celebrates the indecisive nature within almost every woman.

First let me explain the Purse Party. Jamie of “Designs by Jamie” is the only Purse Consultant (I’m not sure that title is official) I’ve ever met. But this is how it worked. Jamie staged my mother’s family room with countless fabric swatches, purse patterns, purse sizes, embellishments, and handles. From all those options, purse party guests got to design their own purses. And Jamie, aforementioned Purse Consultant, would help troubled guests pick the perfect purse for them. Post Purse Party, Jamie sews and sends these purses to party attendants. I sat with a stack of fabric swatches on my lap for 45 minutes, designing my purse while chatting with my mom, my sister, and other guests. And for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t the most indecisive person in the room. It was a Fickle Fest. A Picky Palooza.

After three hours (yes, three) Purse Designer, Consultant, and Seamstress, Jamie Palerino, started packing up her purse supplies. I asked if three hours was standard; apparently our particular party ran long. Most are no more than two hours, she told me. Somehow my mother had invited inordinately indecisive women to her Purse Party. Go figure.

Three weeks later my mother brought me my purse, and it was the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. Made from a tropical fabric with a hibiscus theme, I couldn’t have imagined a better purse for me. It was just darling. And then I saw my sister’s purse. She had chosen a tropical print too, only the background was dark brown and her colorful flowers seemed to pop right off the purse.

I sighed in defeat. After all those hours looking at fabric and picking just the right pattern, size, and handle, I like my sister’s purse better than mine. That is, until I saw the diaper bag my mother had designed for my sister-in-law. Maybe I should have been just a tad more thoughtful in picking my purse.

Oh well, there’s always the next purse party.