Friday, July 29, 2011

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I gave birth to a goat.

There's just no other explanation.  Everything goes straight to her mouth.  No hesitation.  No observation.  And with such nonchalance on whether or not it is edible.

This kid can eat!  She eats as much as her brother, if not more.  She loves all the normal, healthy, natural fare like fruits, vegetables, meats, breads, pastas, legumes, etc.  There's not a food we've found that she turns down.  But it seems she has developed a rather bad habit of snacking on the inedible as well.

The top of the crib looks like it's been attacked by a pack of rabid beavers.  Teething, you ask?  Well yes... maybe... but it's not just that... 

Puzzle pieces, crayons, books, toys, blankets, crumbs... that "normal"stuff is inherently doomed to be chewed in any toddler's household, and our house is filled with these casualties.  But what I'm talking about here is the a-typical chew-toys... like paper, plastic, cardboard, wood, fuzz, rocks, grass, flowers, straws, money, batteries, cell-phones, cat food, cat toys, and garbage.  Basically anything that she can get her hands on and fit into her mouth or between her teeth, she will attempt to eat. 

This is not just a little biting or a nibble.  No, this is full on, chomping down, taking a bite, chewing and swallowing.  The swallowing happens if I am too late in catching her.  And "catch" is the operative word here because she takes off the second she hears, "Get that out of your mouth!" or "What on earth are you eating?" or my most often chanted phrase of "That's not food!".

Rarely, while fleeing, she will attempt to rid the evidence by pulling it out and throwing it aside, like a criminal.  Most times I dare to stick my fingers in her mouth, which is akin to sticking your head in the mouth of a lion, and I pull out the "Oh Good God what is that?" chunk of something she found somewhere.  And then there are the times that I am too late.  Who knows how many items she's managed to get down.

And as comical as this all seems, I really do fear for her safety.  Sometimes I fear that all of the gastric disturbances and diaper explosions are not really due to a milk allergy after all but from a bowel reaction from inedible objects.

I swear, I baby-proofed my house.  And I will swear upon my First Edition Harry Potters that I do pay attention to and watch my kids, sometimes like a hawk.  But she somehow finds these things.  Like my house is a treasure trove of unknown hiding places for forbidden objects.  I thought I knew every nook and cranny in this house until I found her gnashing a piece of plaster that she found behind a loose piece of moulding, which she also chewed.     

When not filling her mouth with sustenance or swill, she is gnawing on her fingers.  Biting her nails, chewing a knuckle, or molar-munching a fist full of fingers; she is forever orally fixated.  And if one were to psychoanalyze according to Freud, they'd say she either suffered a period of neglect or was weaned too soon.  Alas, I'm afraid I am guilty as charged.  I may have weaned her before she was ready but at least I made it to 13 months and that's long enough for me.  And there was a time when I could not be the attentive mother she deserved due to her brother's hospitalization.  Hopefully she won't grow to be a chain smoker or an obnoxious gum chewer because of my failures.  But I try to look past the guilt and just find a solution.  Sorry Siggy. 

I suppose the bigger picture here is effectively disciplining a headstrong and rebellious 17 month old.  My wild child.  I was once so proud of the near perfect, gently used collection of books and puzzles we had acquired with our first born.  I only had to tell him once, maybe twice, to not put something in his mouth and he listened, understood, and obeyed.  But this enigma of mastication is clever, coy, and very much a rebel.  Sadly, I now find myself sighing while taping, patching, and most times tossing away those half-eaten books.  I try to teach my children to respect their belongings, treat them with kindness, don't throw, destroy or heaven forbid eat them!  She looks at me intently for a moment, I know she understands what I am trying to communicate, then she goes right back to eating the spine of yet another book. 

I've tried all the usual techniques, that worked charmingly well on her older brother, but alas... yelling = deaf ears, the look = runs away giggling, time outs = no comprehension, hand slap = ignored, asking nicely = works for a moment then she smiles sweetly and returns to her preoccupation.  

What are my other options here?  Have I exhausted all sensible possibilities?  Am I now left to resort to drastic measures?  Do I coat everything in hot sauce?  Do I move EVERYTHING in my house onto four-foot high platforms?  Do I rid the house of any item smaller than a breadbox and not made out of tempered glass?  Do I just ignore the behavior completely and be on endless poop-patrol when it all comes out in the end? 

It seems that if she weren't so fixated on filling her mouth with miscellaneous materials, she might actually use it for speaking.  She mutters a mere handful of words.  Her brother does most of the communicating for her, translating a simple grunt or hand movement into an elaborate and eloquent pronouncement of her desires.  She is quite satisfied with his interpreting skills.  When prompted to repeat a word, she either grunts an "Nuh-uh", ignores us completely, or looks to her brother for rescue. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Make Room For Mommy

Sleep is one of my favorite things in the world.

Some people like money, I like sleep.  Some people want money, I want sleep.  Some people desperately yearn for money, I... think you get my point. 

I have memories from childhood of favorite places I liked to sleep.  The top bunk where I'd stare at the ceiling until I dozed, camping in a canvas tent on a cot snuggled inside a sleeping bag, and in the backyard in the grass, listening to the chirping of birds and buzzing of insects.

As a teen and young adult, sleeping became an art I perfected.  I was good at it.  Long stretches, 12-18 hrs at a time, and at any & all hours of the day & night you could find me practicing.  I could sleep in any position, anywhere, anytime, any place and through any noise.  I would joke that there could be a jackhammer outside my open window and I could sleep right through it.  I did some modeling for an art class in college once where I used to fall asleep standing up while holding a pose for the students to paint.  The professor would have to wake me when class was over.

Ahhh, those were the days.  Sleep rained down on me like pennies from heaven.  No, more like bars of gold.  Now, I would settle for pennies.

It wasn't until I became pregnant with Ryan that I started having sleep trouble.  It was not as bad as what most women experience during pregnancy, or so I've read and been told.  I did my research and was prepared to lose a few Zs.  For the most part, my pregnancy with Ryan was spectacular.  I was full of energy, eating super healthy, looked and felt beautiful, and I only gained 18lbs.  (I was overweight to begin with so I'm sure it was more like I gained 48 but lost 30 due to the lifestyle change.)  I even worked 40+ hours a week right up until I was admitted to be induced because I was two weeks late.  Being pregnant with Ryan was the best I had ever felt in my life.  But there were a few, maybe a dozen, nights that I just could not get comfortable.  I slept, just not as deeply or as happily as I did before.

I never had a label as far as "side sleeper" or "back sleeper", etc.  Until then I believe I slept differently every night, whichever position suited me at the time.  But now that I was pregnant all I really wanted to do was lie on my belly, but obviously that plan was thwarted.  I researched sleep positioners and read articles on the proper pregnancy sleep positions.  I even bought some expensive piece of foam that guaranteed me a restful night.  I had propped myself up with so many pillows that poor future Big Daddy R had only a tiny edge of our queen size mattress to lay on.  For that and other reasons, he eventually moved to the couch (temporarily) to get a good night's sleep.

The term "bun in the oven" is not far from the truth because I truly felt like an oven baking a constantly rolling ball of dough.  My stomach felt 100 degrees hotter than the rest of my body.  I slept with my belly uncovered, with sheets and blankets and comforters covering the rest of my body, even early on in my pregnancy which was in the winter.  In the summer, a fan positioned about a foot from my bulge was set to high, in addition to a window air conditioner which was not far from the bed either.  Many nights I ran into that fan or tripped over it while running to the potty.  I later ended up climbing over Big Daddy R to avoid the hassle, much to his displeasure, which is another reason why he moved to the couch. 

One night when I did sleep deeply, we awoke in a puddle and panicked.  "Is it time?"  Nope.  Calm down.  It's just pee.  Apparently I was so deep in la-la land that my bladder let loose with the kick of the baby's foot before I could even open my eyes.  Yet another reason for the couch.
Everyone was telling me about how I would never sleep well again once I had kids and I really, truly, thought they were exaggerating.  "Come on now", I thought, "It can't be all that bad!"

Enter baby: crying, screaming, teething, gassy, playful-at-all-hours-of-the-night baby.  And fate laughs.

While my pregnancy with Ryan was wonderful, my labor was agonizingly long much in part to being induced.  I can still remember the how the nurses kept trying to push sleeping pills on me in the beginning telling me that I needed to rest up and that I needed to save my energy for when things started going.  I refused again and again until Robert finally yelled at them to leave me alone and stop trying to  push their drugs on me.  I hated being induced.  I was one of those naive moms-to-be that wrote a birthing plan and proudly handed out copies to every doctor and nurse that entered the room.  It detailed how I wanted no intervention what-so-ever, unless in emergency, or if I changed my mind which is the right of every woman.  I didn't want to be induced but the doctors insisted since I was two weeks late.  Oh how fate likes to mock me!

Nothing went according to MY plan.  I ended up with an epidural, and suction to pull him out, just stopping short of a C-section.  And through 36 hours of hard labor, I somehow managed to stay awake through it all.  According to Big Daddy though, I did pass out in between strong contractions, and woke right back up a minute later to push again and again.  And after it was all over, I was too excited to sleep.  Oh I dosed here and there, an hour or two at a time, but I was filled with amazing hormones that gave me energy and the delusion that I was indeed Wonder Woman. 

The first few months I was a zombie.  But a carefree super-hero zombie.  Any tiny peep and I was right there, wide awake and ready to solve the problem.  I know they say you shouldn't play with them in the middle of the night, but I just couldn't resist.  I was so in love and amazed at this tiny creation that I didn't really mind the lack of sleep.  I saw it as a badge of honor.

We eventually experimented with all kinds of baby-sleep aids: sleep positioners, swaddling, vibration, rocking, music and sound machines.  As it turned out, he loved the sound of chirping birds and preferred to be uncovered, able to stretch out.  He also had an insatiable appetite and wanted to eat about every hour or two.  So into our bed he came much to the dismay of our doctor and contrary to the words of all the baby experts I had read. 

Big Daddy R suggested a new bed to accommodate our growing family, and so he could get off the couch and join us.  A ginormous king size bed was agreed upon, or more likely, the salesman saw an easy commission.  We have a tiny house with even smaller rooms.  This bed takes up almost the entire room.  We have a hip-wide path on either side and between the dressers at the foot of the bed.  It's a tight squeeze.  I remember thinking it was unnecessary and ridiculous to have such a huge bed.  But the salesman assured us we would need it.  He must have had kids.  And the fates chuckle once again.

Although the new bed was heavenly comfort, its purpose was wasted on me.  I returned to work full time when he was 3 months old.  After an entire night of feeding, I woke early to go work out at the gym.  I lost another 45 lbs.  These hormones were amazing I tell ya!

He was a snuggler and being a mommy in love, so was I.  His favorite position was to wedge his big melon under my chin and smash his face on my neck, which turns out to be rather uncomfortable for me.  He also loves to stretch out his body in every direction, pushing me to the edge of the bed.  I would wake up with a sore back because I would tense all my muscles to prevent myself from falling off the edge of the bed during the night.

Meanwhile, Big Daddy slept like a hibernating bear, growling away, enjoying a generous half of the luxurious cushion of slumber.  And the sweet little snoozing baby was stretched out like a Chinese star.  And here I was, sleeping on less than 12".

The worst part though was the heat.  I lovingly referred to him as "my little hot-box" and more accurately, "my little sweat-head".  It seemed he had been the source of all of the volcanic activity in my belly during pregnancy.  And like then, I discovered a fan, blowing right on him, to be a soothing solution. 

He was finally sleeping all night through by six months.  We did the whole cry it out thing with him in his own crib and in his own room.  And yes, it was agonizing for us.  We sat up in our big bed listening to him scream, taking turns checking on him every five, then ten, then fifteen minutes, being sure not to say a word or crack a smile or make eye contact... for two whole hours straight... for less than a week.  At the time, I had no idea how lucky we were.  It seemed he enjoyed sleep as much as I did.  The birds, the fan, and being able to stretch out in his own space was all he needed.  Now there were a few rough nights later on when he was two and started having night terrors, just after we changed the crib into the toddler bed.  But by then I could handle a few nights of briefly interrupted sleep.   So for a while I had a nice big bed all to myself, and the snoring grizzly bear, and finally got some rest.  That is, until I got pregnant again.

It wasn't until I was pregnant with Rowan that I understood what other moms were going through.  She is the complete opposite of Ryan in every way.  Hindsight has shown me that I had it made with my first.  He was my easy baby, and Rowan is my challenge.  I had trouble right from the start with my pregnancy, from simple aches & pains, swelling, & morning-noon-&-night sickness, to the more serious hospitalizations for dehydration, kidney stones, & C-diff, not to mention all of the sleep deprivation.  And unlike Ryan, she shot out of the cannon after a brief six hours of easy, all natural (lest the requested epidural) labor.

At first, she was a wonderful baby.  As long as her belly was full and her mouth was plugged with boob, she slept through most nights.  Now I nursed my first until he was 14 months and he liked to eat about every hour or two for the first six months, so I figured I was a pro at nursing.  But no, this baby showed me I knew nothing.  My nipples cracked and bled and I cried out in pain all the time.  I needed a break, but she insisted, and I gave in, trading my comfort and sanity for a little sleep.  But with each new tooth came weeks worth of sleepless nights.  In addition, it seemed she caught every virus (respiratory, stomach, or otherwise) that came along and then gave it to all of us just as she was recovering: so more months worth of interrupted night time peace.  Sick and tired doesn't even begin to cover what I was feeling.  I thought it couldn't get any worse.

Then Ryan was diagnosed with cancer.  That's when I really learned about sleepless nights.  I spent two months at his bedside in the PICU, too worried to sleep.  When I did nod off, out of sheer exhaustion, I either had terrifying nightmares or dreamless voids of blackness, which never seemed to rejuvenate me.  When I had the time and opportunity to sleep (thanks to Ronald McDonald House right next door to the hospital), I found I simply could not sleep  for more than a few hours because the worry ate me up inside.  I would leave the hospital, begrudgingly, around 11pm.  I would shower, read, and nurse the baby for hours straight, and eventually I would fall asleep.  But I ended up leaving the room at 5AM to head back to him.  I hated being away from him for even a second.

Once we were home, there was a period of adjustment for all of us.  Separation anxiety caused Rowan to nurse all day and night long.  Every three weeks we returned to the hospital for treatment, which meant a couple of sleepless nights on an uncomfortable couch for me.  I eventually learned to sleep again, once I learned to not worry so much.  It's a work in progress.  And then there were more problems looming just around the bend.

More teething, weaning, and milk allergies led to more months of lost Zs.  Granted, poor little Rowan suffered the most from all of this, including all the confusion and separation anxiety from everything that was happening around her.  So after weeks of trying to get her to sleep in her own bed unsuccessfully, we allowed her to continue to sleep with us.  Once we solved the milk-allergy problem, we found that she sleeps quite well in her own crib.  But each new tooth sends her back to our bed.  But now that she was no longer nursing at 13 months (my choice - not hers), she devised a way to be as close as possible to me.  It involved practically climbing on top of me, particularly my head, and hitting me with her hard-as-a-boulder-noggin.  She is restless, constantly moving during the night, and babbles in her sleep.  For someone so petite, she sure knows how to throw around her weight.  I start her in the center of the bed and she mysteriously works her way to the center of my pillow. Again, I am left with a few inches of bed.   

After everything Ryan's been through we allow him to sleep in our bed on occasion.  At first it was so we could cuddle and hold him and cry ourselves to sleep: happy tears that he is still with us.  But there are times when he is in pain, or feeling ill from the chemo and just needs the comfort of his mommy & daddy to get some sleep.  We oblige.  He still is a sweat head.  And still manages to push me over to the edge.

Usually it's either one or the other, but there are too many nights when they are both in our bed.  So there is just no room for mommy.  There are times I wake up catching myself rolling off the edge.  The times I have resorted the chair or couch have resulted in increased back pain and even more grumpiness.  So I just reposition the sleeping babies and make the most of my few inches of bed. 

Now a-days, bedtime isn't so bad.  We have a night time ritual of toy clean up, teeth brushing, pjs, stories, sippies of water, and tuck in, along with their favorite "sleepy music" CD playing in the background.  Most nights the crying lasts a few minutes, or not at all.  Some nights I actually get cuddle time with Big Daddy R.  And on occasion, I actually do get some sleep, even when they are hogging the bed.  One of my favorite Beatles songs describes it best...

Once there was a way to get back homeward
Once there was a way to get back home
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

Being greeted by smiles and smothered in kisses in the morning makes it all worth it.  And whether or not I manage to get some shut-eye, life is golden.  Eventually, maybe in a few years, I will finally be able to sleep like I used to.  And those golden bricks of sleep will rain down from heaven and knock me out!  (Is that fate laughing?)  The kids had better be out of our bed by then, but I still expect the smiles and kisses!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Open Sesame

Some days are magical.

It starts with rousing from sleep while being covered in little angel kisses, my ears being greeted with the sound of little voices giggling and chanting my favorite name, "mama", my eyes fluttering open to see chubby smiles.  And then I glance at the alarm clock to see it's nearly 10AM.

Is it possible for such a rarity to occur?

Definitely magic.
I wash and dress and inspect my appearance in the mirror.  There's a smile there.  Every hair is in place and all the fabric fits perfectly.  Big brother R dresses himself and little R sits quietly allowing me to fix her hair.

They eat all their food, nothing left to throw away: fresh fruits & veggies, cheese & yogurt, and whole wheat bread and crackers.

Some days the magic dissipates with the first tantrum.  And other days, like today, it lingers, filling the voids with incredible happenings.

Big brother R reads his first word.  Little sister R says a new word.  And I find time to bake some cookies and organize all of my coupons.

The kids hug and kiss each other, share their toys, help each other, read to each other.  Their kindness flows over to me as well: hugs and kisses, "may I"s, "please"s and "thank you"s, cuddles galore, and lots of "I love you"s.

All of nature calls to me: the weather beautiful, a strong sweet breeze, the flowers bright and full, the cheerful chirping and busy buzzing.  I breathe it all in.

The positive energy is palpable, even the once lazy cats perk up playful as kittens.  We are all energized in play.  We dance, chase, and discover new acrobatic feats.  We blow bubbles, decorate the drive with chalk masterpieces, and make wishes on dandelions that have gone to seed. 

Nap time and bed time rituals come and go without fights or tears.  A restful sleep brings pleasant dreams.

The next day I decide to keep the magic alive.  I closed my eyes to the messes, pushed the clouds of frustration aside, and ignored the laundry and dishes.  And I was rewarded once again.   

Perhaps the magic is always there and I just opened my heart long enough to see it. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

No Rest For The Winey

The kids are in bed by 9.   

NINE!  Both kids!  And not just in bed, sleeping too! 

I decide to celebrate with a glass of wine.  Luckily, I have a bottle.  This too, is also amazing.  Bottles are not something I have the luxury of adding to my shopping cart on a regular basis.  The stars align when there is a sale, I have a coupon and/or there is a nice rebate, or I am a half crazed midnight shopping lunatic after a stressful little-monster-rearing day.  I believe this particular purchase was the result of all 3.

And this isn't just a bottle.  This is a put-you-into-a-coma-if-you-attempt-to-drink-it-all-by-yourself vessel.  I bought it in the hopes of having someone to share it with, a friend perhaps.  Big Daddy R doesn't drink so I am usually solo on the stumbling.  And there is not much time for socializing when you have a germ-avoiding paranoia, for good reason, as well as an incessant need to be on my toes for any emergencies that may arise.  The very thought of being intoxicated or away from the house if/when something awful were to happen causes a panic in me you probably can't imagine.

But tonight all is well, I am safe at home with a perfectly capable Big Daddy R, and they are fast asleep.  What could possibly go wrong?

Most times when I feel the need to have a glass of wine I grab my favorite Food Network Food Show wine glass head across the street to the neighbors.  The Porch Dwellers, as most in my neighborhood affectionately call them, have a seemingly endless supply of bottles and are always eager to pour.  They love the company and the stories of mayhem I share.  I must be like a live-action version of bad reality TV series for them.  No wonder they keep pouring.

It usually takes place shortly after dinner, when the little Rs are still up causing trouble and messes still litter the floor.  I get that glossy look in my eye, slip on my shoes, and with glass in hand, and halfway out the door, I holler to Big Daddy R that I'm gonna go chat with the neighbors a bit, tipping my glass in his direction.  He nods and reluctantly concedes.  He knows what that means.  He is on his own for the bed-time routine.  I practically run across the street and pretend not to hear the crash of the next disaster that is taking place inside while Big Daddy R desperately tries to round up the wild stallions.

It is my one escape and thankfully he lets me have it.  He who occasionally goes in to work at 6AM when the regular start time is 9AM, who also occasionally comes home well after 6PM no matter when he starts, who is the sole supporter of our family unit, who still somehow has energy enough to play with the kids after all that hard work and agrees to watch them for me, all alone, while I indulge in a forbidden luxury... time to myself... a lil R & R.

But tonight is different. Tonight I have air conditioning, my laptop, comfy Pj's, a cork screw, and a large glistening glass.  I'm all set.

I eagerly twist the screw into the imitation cork and begin to pull.  It's not budging.  I twist a little more, push down the wings of the cork screw and try again.  Maybe a centimeter.  Ugh!  I repeat the process until I am sure the screw is undoubtedly adequately wedged in the cork and attempt to pull once more.  I am careful not to knock over any dirty dishes that still sit on the counter, that I pretend not to see. I am tempted to grab the screw between my molars and tug but quickly decide that would be a BAD idea.

Big Daddy R hears me grunting from the next room.  "What on Earth are you doing in there?" he asks.  At first I am frozen like a guilty teen who has just been caught eyeing a beer in the fridge.  But I am an adult.  At least most times I am.  And I am allowed to have a glass of wine if I want to.  "Hello? Is everything alright in there?" he asks again.

"Fine." I grunt, "Just trying to open this bottle of wine."  He offers to help but I have the determination of a child who doesn't understand or believe in impossibilities.  I give one last tug and slowly wriggle the plug free.

Success!  I pour my glass more than half full and proceed to my throne in the living room.  Once settled in, I take one sip, then one long gulp.  Ahhh!

I set the glass down and start to work on my laptop.  As I drift off into digital space I am hurled into reality by a soft subtle whimper coming from above.

Oh No!  Immediately my shoulders slump.  I look to Big Daddy who looks at me with raised eyebrows as if to say, "it's you they want."  I quickly grab my glass and take several large gulps as the volume increases into a duet of their favorite nighttime serenade, To Mommy with Love.  I squeeze my eyes shut trying to ignore it.  It's no use.  I hammer out a few words on my blog, hit save and close it up.  Taking one more gulp I scramble out of my chair and up the stairs.

After consoling and diaper changes, they drift back off to sleep and I quietly tiptoe back down stairs to greet my glass.  I return to my typing and for about an hour I get some uninterrupted peaceful R & R.

More cries. I scoot upstairs and manage to get them back to sleep then return to my wine and writing. After finishing my glass and my post, I head upstairs to get some sleep. It's about midnight.

I am awoken by more cries at 1.  More consoling, then back to bed.  The dreamless sleep that followed was a well-needed but short-lived escape.

I am groggily awakened by a repeated thud.  The sound is coming from inside my head.  And for some reason the outside of my head hurts too.  This could not possibly be a hangover.  No, I only had one glass!  I push away the thought and try to go back to sleep but the banging is persistent.

Slowly, I start to realize that I am being hit on the head by a hard object.  I reach up to touch a fleshy and hair covered globe.  Confused, I force my eyes open and see little R.  I stop her from hitting me one last time with her head and reposition her on the pillow next to me.  She is still asleep.  She likes to be right on top of me when she sleeps in our bed.  I am too tired to even question the strange behavior. 

I start to drift back to sleep but am awakened again by the sobering realization of  "Why is she in our bed? How did she get here?"  She recently learned how to scale her sleep-prison (crib) but I dropped it down to the last notch and thought she couldn't possibly climb out of that let alone mount our king size bed by herself, without a peep, and without waking the entire household.

I look over and see Big Daddy R is in bed too and conclude that he must have brought her into our bed after another rousing chorus that I obviously slept through.  It is too late to spend another second thinking about, so I sigh and return to my pillow.  I glance at the clock, 4:30.  I got three and half hours straight, now that's amazing!

I close my eyes only to find them flying open again minutes later, just as I was drifting off.  I had  that creepy feeling that someone was watching me.  I roll over quickly and come face to face with the older R standing beside my bed with an arm load of stuffed animals.

"Can you help me Mom" he asks. What?" I can't even comprehend.  He asks again and I suddenly realize what he wants.  I oblige, taking the fluffy creatures from his overloaded arms one by one and tossing them behind me to the center of the bed, just careful enough not to hit the sleeping giant and mini me.  A caterpillar, a puppy, a giraffe, a bear, a  glo worm, a kitty, another puppy, and a bunch of not-so-fluffy toys including a mini computer, a glow board, a few die cast cars and the dreaded leaky sippy join us on the bed.  He climbs up and I bury my face in the pillow determined to doze.

Whining and nudging ensue.

"What are you trying to do?" I beg.  I roll over to see him on his hands and knees next to my legs trying to wedge himself between me and little R.

"But I wanna sleep by you." he whines.  "Move baby Ro over! Put her in her own bed!" he demands.

"No," I firmly press, "She's asleep. I can't move her. If you want to sleep in here then climb next to Daddy. There's room over there.  There's plenty of room in this bed for all of us."  Obviously not room enough for me as I later discover in a forthcoming post.

He reluctantly crawls over and snuggles next to Daddy and at last I dose off to sleep just around 5:30.

A cold wet puddle creeping quickly down my side wakes me with a start.  I jump out of bed so fast that I fell into the wall.  I want to curse but grit my teeth.  I look at the bed to see the leaky sippy turned upside down draining into the valley where my body once lay sleeping soundly... but briefly, as it is now only 7:30.

I grab the sippy and put it on the night stand while noticing that everyone else is asleep, even the cat at the foot of the bed.  I definitely do NOT want to wake them now with a sheet change.  Tiptoeing to the bathroom, I peel off my Pj's, clean my sticky side with a baby wipe, and grab a towel.  I pull the first t-shirt my hand finds out of the dresser and pull it on, pretty sure it's backwards and inside out.  Placing the towel over the puddle, I crawl back into bed.

Morning comes at 8:30 with little R's kisses planted all over my face.  Just as I was starting to sleepily smile and try to open my eyes, she slaps me in the face and then promptly kisses it again.  I don't even have time to react.  I hear more kisses but they are not for me.  This time they are for brother R who giggles with delight at the affection.  He crawls over to me and covers me with kisses as well.  What a way to wake!

Big Daddy R is still snoring.

The morning birds start bouncing all over me in the bed until I agree to get up and get them some breakfast and sippies of milk.  I manage to stand and realize the puddle soaked through the towel and onto my t-shirt which is indeed inside out and backwards.  I don't mind.

The positive energy in the room is contagious.  Although I barely got any R & R, I am in a good mood.  How could you not be when covered with kisses?


Friday, July 22, 2011

Disaster Strikes

There I was, cooking a delicious, healthy meal... oil popping... food sizzling... onion and herb aroma wafting up on waves of steam and heat... giddily daydreaming of celebrity chefs' jealousy of my creation when suddenly, without warning, I am pulled from my fantasy by deafening silence.  It's coming from the other room.  Silence can only mean one of two things.

I turn off the burners, dread rising up in my throat, and swiftly bound over the baby gate into the dining room.  I didn't even get a chance to react to the crunch beneath my feet.  In fact I didn't even notice it.  As I round the corner to the living room I am stopped in my tracks at what lay in front of me.  I think I even stopped breathing for a moment.

I first take in the rubble strewn on what was once a lovely living space.  The casualties are many, poor souls face down, lying there motionless, covered with debris, unable even to cry for help.  My eyes scan the floor, the chairs, the couch, the table... not an inch was spared.  It's everywhere.

I can feel my heart stop for a moment then start to race.  The blood boils in my veins and I can feel it throbbing in my head and neck.  The heat is worse here than in front of the stove.  I'd rather be in front of the stove.  I'd rather be there than starring at this mess, this disaster.

Then slowly my eyes catch site of the terrorists observing my every move, eyes gleaming and lips curling with delight.  They are obviously pleased with the result, it reads all over their faces.  They start to say something, yell something, or perhaps laugh, but it is stifled as they catch their breath.  They are spring loaded, ready to bolt but seem hesitant to make the first move, not knowing which direction to go.  Leaping into the air with glee or running away in fear of retribution, unsure of which, they are contemplating my reaction.

We stare at each other a moment, in silence.  The small henchman looks from me to her mastermind, smiling, confused, looking for his lead or my approval.  He knows she's looking to him, but he is a confident leader, unwavering.  His eyes stay focused on me, twinkling mischievously.

My lips purse and every muscle in my face tightens.  Eyes narrowed, brows furrowed.  My nostrils flare as I attempt to suck in air, puffing out my chest as if to show authority.  I try to think clearly, blink away the anger, try to regain my composure.  I must stay ahead of the game.  Stay one step ahead.  Just once come out victorious.  But I can't.  It's too late.  I fail.  Once again.  I let the anger get the best of me.  I take one step forward and transform into a fire breathing dragon.  Venomous words lash from my tongue.  I fly across the room.

The culprits waste no time.  They spring onto the couch, bursting with excitement, squealing with delight.  The chase is on.

I grab one in my talons and carry her away.  Dropping her off in a clothes basket prison, I'll deal with her later.  But no bars can hold her.  She's clever, quick, and agile.  She escapes and chases after me as I turn toward her accomplice.

Now for the head honcho.  He bounces up and down in place, bubbling with joy, fizzing with energy.  He darts left and right trying halfheartedly to avoid my grasp.  He wants to be caught.  And catch him I do.  I seize him around his belly and hoist him sideways through the room over the rubble, one arm wrapped around his middle, his arms and legs failing perpendicular to mine.  His laughter turns to terrified pleads as I carry him to the lair of time-out.

He begs to be released as I place him into the dreaded rocking chair.  He grimaces with displeasure.  His cohort sympathetically begins to wail as well.  The jig is up.

I storm into the living room and focus on the task at hand.  The clean up.  I surveyed the damage.  Yes, there have been many, many, MANY before but each hits me with such sinking, sickening disgust that you'd think I'd be used to it by now.  There was the Famous Sanitizer Slip N Slide, the Chalk & Bubble Incident, the Watermelon Food Fight of June, and that's not even counting the weekly Cracker Bombs, the daily Dinner Disasters, and the seemingly hourly showers of Leaky Sippies.  I've seen it all.  And none of it was pretty.

A frown stamps its mark on my face as I let out a sigh of defeat.  Where to begin... hmmm... I drop to my knees and start to gather debris but realize I am surrounded.  There is no way my small hands can possibly remove it all at once.  And I must work quickly to resolve this lest the wailing shadow at my heels  begins to either devour the rubble or attempts to disintegrate the pieces beneath her feet or crumble it in her hands, strewing it about, raining down like ashen rain after a volcano.

I scramble to the kitchen to gather supplies. I quickly grab a bowl, the paper towels, and Clorox wipes.  I am temporarily distracted by the smell the once hot, fresh meal that is now turning to soggy mush.  It is a reminder of my previous existence, before the storm.  A reality I can not return to at the moment while my other occupation takes precedence.  This saddens and angers me all at once.

I stomp back to the living room, like a pouty child, and start my work.  My ears fill with the simultaneous sounds of piteous cries and wails pleading for forgiveness.  The decibel level was difficult to ignore.  And the more I avoided confrontation, the louder it grew until they became screeches and roars, competing with each other for my attention.  I grit my teeth at the noise.  It is like fingernails on a chalk board.  They know my weakness.

They are a devious bunch.  Plotting out each scheme before I can even begin to grasp the effects of the first, let alone do any sort of decent clean up from the last.  They are clever masterminds, able to destroy entire rooms in a matter of minutes.  They take advantage of each and every instance of back turning, cat napping, neighbor talking, phone calling, potty going, laundry switching. dinner cooking distraction.  They are at the ready with a new outrageous plot.  They do unimaginable things to toys, books, and let's not even mention food.

I narrowly have averted few disasters. I mostly just delve into the occupation of clean up and discipline, two things I despise the most in this world.  And they know it.  They know it and relish in putting me to task.

They have everyone fooled, too.  "What sweet, adorable, well-mannered children!" they coo and coddle. "Little angels!" they gush.  "Why, they aren't destructive at all!" they proclaim as my head fills with images of myself being drug down a long white corridor in a straightjacket with mocking insane laughter echoing through the halls.

I finish the majority of the clean up and realize the screaming has subsided.  There is a solemn quiet.  The little R has stopped clinging to my leg and has gone off to play with the dolly that I pulled from the rubble, saved from being suffocated from crackers and blankets.  The older R is eagerly awaiting "the talk".

I start to notice that my blood pressure has returned to normal.  The weighty anger and annoyance has left my chest.  I am breathing easier.  I brush my hands over my knees as I stand to walk to him.  I crouch down and look him square in the eyes.

This is my court now.  I refuse to lose.

Calmly, and slowly I ask him if he knows why I put him in time out.  Without missing a beat, he answers my every question.  He promises never to do it again.  Then he looks at me with those hopeful eyes, melts my heart with a smile, and plants the wettest kiss on my cheek and wraps his loving little arms around my neck.  "I love you mommy!" he effuses in his adorable tone.  Witnessing all this love, the little R runs to us to join in the hugs and kisses.  The warmth is overflowing.  The smiles and giggles dissolve the tears and screams.

I am renewed.  All is forgiven.

I return to the kitchen to finish what is now a cold pile of mush, unknowingly leaving a trail of smooshed Kix in my path.

They have won once again.  I am a sucker.