Thursday, July 30, 2009

i got nothin but pictures

I've been thinking lots about writing on the blog but can't find the emotional space. It's rather crowded here in this beach house, a thing that is good and fun but doesn't allow much time for reflection. Plus, there are so many little kids that every adult has to have their eyes on someone at nearly all times. Two years from now this trip will be much much easier, or at least less tiring.

I will say that being here with a 4-week-old (my cousin's 3rd baby) has reminded me how very sweet tiny babies are. It's also turned out to be great birth control--a reminder of why two is a good number for us. I don't have the patience plus I need intellectual stimulation that just doesn't come with parenting little kids. (I note that as F gets older it's becoming more and more interesting to me...) I told M that he should go ahead and get a vasectomy--quick!--before I change my mind.

Anyway, we leave here day after tomorrow and then I think it's going to be a 2-day drive home. It will probably be next week before I'm able to post in full. For now, enjoy the pictures!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I know I just fell off the virtual earth without any heads up... I plain forgot that my mom's house not only is without wireless, but without a computer all together. We did 1500 miles in 5 days and stayed in 3 different abodes and the bugs alone are reason enough not to come back to the southland, welts the size of a half dollar on both my kids' legs. In any case, having fun, seeing friends, lots to tell, off to the beach on Saturday for a week where there will be 1) wireless, 2) sun and water and sand 3) six adults and 5 kids age 4,3,2,1, and 4 weeks (!), but two of those adults will be 4) grandparents to help jolly the kids out of tantrums. I'm hoping to find space to type out some of my recent parenting thoughts, of which there are many.

Cheers until then!

Monday, July 13, 2009

more of that happy stuff

It's 2:00 and everyone's asleep but me (and I plan to be when I finish this post). Just before naptime we were outside playing in the water table. Frances kept dumping water on Clark's head and I kept telling her to stop that but she didn't and eventually I made her come inside. I was surprised that she didn't throw a fit about coming in but merrily went along and let me strip the wet clothes off her before she sat on her little potty. Then I cajoled Clark to come inside so I could herd everyone in a napperly direction. Frances was still naked as I got Clark's bottle ready and pulled off his clothes and changed his diaper, and the next thing I knew Frances was crouched over a big picture book saying, "Mommy, I pooped." What? But sure enough, there was a tiny poop on the wild animal page.

But the real excitement is that I was feeding Clark his bottle and she was being pesty and squeezing his hand and arm and leg and would not stop bothering him and my patience was starting to wear thin, and just then she asked if it would be all right if she went upstairs to lie down on her bed. Really, she did! She requested that I bring up her snack after I was done with Clark. Oh my. When I went up her eyes were squeezed tight and she was smiling behind her paci.

It's better--see?

And it's 88 wonderful warm degrees here today, a real summer day finally in mid July, and Clark is still in the most adorable baby stage. Mitch tells me Clark's not a baby anymore but I disagree--he still sleeps on his chest with his butt in the air, he still feels soft and pudgy and baby wonderful, he still lies back in my arms and drinks his bottle. He's in the pointing and having you name things stage, not talking yet. Today when I came to get them from the gym kid room, I picked him up and he hugged me and patted my back with his little hand. My baby. I wonder how I'll feel when it is clear he is not a baby anymore.

This too shall pass. But oh it's lovely now.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Frances is upstairs in her big girl bed. It's naptime and she's been asking lately to sleep in the big girl bed rather than the crib but we've been resisting because of the Last Time disaster. I thought I'd try it today since naptime has been going so well in general: I give her a little bowl of pretzels or cereal or something, plus a small cup of water (okay, watered down juice), plus a couple of books, plus her baby, and blanket, and paci, and 2 Little People (if you don't know what Little People are just play along). And she's perfectly content. I know she's content because I finally got a second monitor so now I can hear her sing Old MacDonald (as she is doing this minute) and tell her baby all about gymnastics before she goes to sleep. She likes getting in her bed for nap now and asks me to cover her and her baby up, tuck them in. So I thought it might be a good time. Before I heaved the crib mattress from the crib to the toddler bed I talked to her about how she would have to stay in her bed and put her head on the pillow and close her little eyes and go to sleep, and she said she would. It will be a major victory if that is indeed what happens. So far I'm very hopeful.

In fact, I'm hopeful in general these past few days. After that last post I've been feeling pretty good and even before that post I'd noticed that although Frances and I were sometimes going head to head, we are also upping the frequency of good harmonious times between us. I'm getting in the rhythm of being home with them both and am almost feeling like maybe I don't want to send her to preschool this next year. Which I'm pretty sure is an insane thought. My friend Melissa reminded me that right now we can play outside and go places and do things with them and yes, it's fun, but that the winter here is very very different. A good point.

I won't make any drastic changes or new decisions. I finally did sign her up for the new preschool... something that I obsessed and obsessed over but don't think I wrote much about on the blog. For some reason I got completely stuck in the decision and just couldn't see my way out. I think it's because both choices (where she was last year and where I was considering moving her) were both fine options... neither was bad, and so how to go about making the decision? It didn't really matter which I chose--neither would radically affect the person she becomes, neither would be a failure. But it seemed so HUGE when I was trying to decide, as if ultimately it DID matter, as if one school would lead her down one life path and the other a different path, and how was I to choose when I could not yet see either? Anyway, made the decision now. Feel fine about it.

Just so you know: she's asleep. Didn't get out of the bed once. Yippee!

Friday, July 3, 2009

no maternal dean's list for me

I get a C-. Today and yesterday, though today we still have after-nap-before-dinner to go and perhaps I can do some last minute cramming and pull my grade up. Again I think of my friend who works in labor & delivery who always looks perplexed when I chastise myself for my parenting skills in her presence. Yes, I know she regularly witnesses truly bad parenting, births of unwanted children, neglect I wish she hadn't told me about. There are moments when I realize that simply providing my children with basic things makes me a good parent: food, clothing, nap schedules, stability, lack of screaming in the house, attention, and love. Those last two are crucial--there are many many children who don't get any attention. At all. From anyone.

Generally, however, I'm not grading on a curve. Or maybe I am, and the student body only includes the moms who are, in fact, providing all the basics. But now you want to know what I've done, don't you? Sigh.

Sometimes I just cannot keep my cool. Sometimes White Trash Mama (as my friend Alison calls her) comes out and does stupid things like this morning when Frances swung to hit me at the kitchen table and I jerked her breakfast away. (If you're gonna hit mama then you don't get to eat. So there.) Or yesterday when she hit Clark with a plastic block and I yanked her paci out of her mouth and stormed off with it. Writing this, these things seem pretty minor but when it's happening they come from a place of internal rage, something out of my control--not the way I want to parent. These responses are not helpful. They are in no way effective. If anything, they teach her just the opposite of what I want--they teach her to react physically in negative ways. It's VERY hard right now for me to keep in mind that many of the things she does she simply cannot help. She has so little impulse control... we're not born with it. She has to learn it, and she needs my help. Yesterday I wanted so badly to spank her and nearly called Mitch to come home and relieve me, but instead I turned on the television which turned out to be a very very good idea. (It's not infrequently that I think of the TV as a great tool for things like calming tempers, getting dishes done, eating dinner with my husband in peace. Yes yes it can quickly become a liability and there's a fine line to walk, but still.)

I beat myself up a lot about it all. Don't know how to stop doing that either.

One thing that interests me endlessly about this dynamic with Frances is that I never never never have felt this kind of impatience and frustration with Clark. Why is that? Is it because he's a second child and I've gotten more relaxed about things? Do I just have more patience now? I don't think that's it. I think he simply doesn't do the things that push my buttons. But, I mean, they're both children; they've both gone through the same developmental stages. You'd think he'd do the same irritating things she did. Or you might think it's just her age and I only have to wait and he'll drive me nuts too. But my frustrations with Frances didn't start with the terrible twos--no no. She's been able to push my buttons since she was about 6 months old. I have no idea what on earth she could have been doing then to irritate me, but it's the truth.

My only conclusion is that they have different temperaments and that Clark just isn't as impatient, as demanding, doesn't insist on control as much as Frances. Oh she's going to be a difficult teenager. No reason to worry about that now... Instead, I need to find an exorcist to rid me of this other woman who takes over my body. I wonder if I should give her a name?