I poop, therefore I am

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I've been going back through the archives of The Daily B and pulling out some favorite posts to share. The following is from January 2008, when B was just a few months old. Enjoy!

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It's one of those things that makes us human: I poop. You poop. Paris Hilton poops. Babies, unfortunately, have no control over their poop. Which is why at 11:15 this morning, I heard a distinctive low-decibel rumble and quickly found my daughter covered head-to-toe in it.

Sure, diaper blowouts are a normal part of parenting. Just toss the outfit in the laundry, dunk the kid in the bathtub and all is well, right? The thing is, this blowout happened during a playdate at a lovely woman's home--the kind of home that looks like it's never seen a diaper blowout--leather couches, flat-screen TVs, white carpet. The toddler has her own inflatable jumparoo castle in the basement, the 4-month-old wears lace, hair bows, and tights. I already felt a bit out of place. Then, my Carters-clad kiddo lets it all loose...smiling and cooing all the while.

Note to self: Pack more wipes in the diaper bag. Also could use a new bottle of hand sanitizer and more plastic bags.

I tell Kris about the adventure and we discuss the etiquette involved in your kid pooping at a fancy friend's house (do you throw the bag of used, poopy wipes away there or bring them home to your own trashcan?). He notes that he's proud of Bronwynn for being herself. We don't want her to feel undue pressure just because she doesn't have her own jumparoo castle and prefers cotton over lace.

The bottom line? You know you love your child when she's covered in shit and still looks cute to you. I didn't take a photo, because I was, well, busy. I'm sure you'll thank me for that anyway.

getting it wrong

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Do you ever have one of those weeks when you get it all wrong? Everything. Totally, utterly wrong.

This week it was:
1) Letting exhaustion speak to my kids with a harsh tone.
2) Denying B "one more kiss" at bedtime because she's already had 20 (she counted) and somehow to me, 21 kisses seems unreasonable. To a 3-year-old, of course, it's not.
3) Hurting friends' feelings with hastily written/spoken words (unintentional, but still)
4) Greeting my husband, after he was away last week, not with kisses and a joyous "welcome home" but with grumbles, complaints and expectations he would immediately take over 150% of the household/parenting duties (you know, 'cause that's fair).
5) Canceling a playdate (and thus disappointing two toddlers) because I realize I've overextended myself.
6) Not calling when I said I would call.
7) Totally spacing on a doctor's appointment (remembering at the exact moment they call me asking why I'm 20 minutes late)
8) Working more hours than I promised I would work.

There's more, but those are the ones weighing on me, mostly because they happened all within a very short time frame. And I know it does no good to ruminate on a list of failures. But it does remind me how flawed we humans are. And yet, despite my inclination to pull the covers over my head and hibernate for a while, these wrongs are only healed by staying in relationship with people. Apologizing. Reconnecting. Being vulnerable and honest. Rescheduling. Trying to do better next time.

It also reminds me to have empathy when others fail me.

Our mountain escape is just a few days away now, and I'm anticipating the long, long drive alone with my kids. Maybe this past week was a gift, because I go into the trip knowing it will not be perfect. My kids will whine and perhaps tantrum and resist sleeping and make big messes. I will be, at moments, tired and impatient.

I also know that there will be cooler weather and new adventures and laughter and joy along the way. We are choosing not to look for perfection. We will stop at the Four Corners Monument and take photos despite the fact cartographers recently discovered that the real quadripoint is 1,807 feet away.

The more I take my eyes off perfection and what may never be, the more I can focus on what is right here in front of me. And that is a pretty amazing pair of kids who forgive me when I fail, and a husband who is eager to support me when I'm weak, and friends who love me even if I falter. I get to work and be at home. We have the means to travel and experience new things and places. And, I have the ability to give my daughter 42 kisses at naptime (we counted).

I'm going offline for a little while, but I've lined up a few posts from the archives to keep you entertained. So check back in every few days. I'll also try to post a few photos of our adventure along the way. But if I don't get a chance, please forgive me. :) 

Adios!

Cars 2: Fail

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Solo parenting week continues. Next up, I thought it'd be fun to take the kids to see "Cars 2" in the theater. Air conditioning. Popcorn. Animated cars. Rated G. What's not to love?

The air conditioning was heavenly. The popcorn yummy. And the manager was really friendly when I asked for my money back after the first five minutes. He said I wasn't the first to walk out. I was expecting another sweet movie about friendship and perseverance like the first "Cars." This was more like an animated James Bond movie. In the first couple of scenes, there were spies, violent explosions, guns firing and cars saying "I'll kill him."

B turned to me and said she was scared. I was appalled by the images on the screen. So we walked out. The kids were not sad. They thought it was all part of the fun.

What angers me, though, is how this movie was rated G. Before we went, I even checked a couple of media watchdog blogs like Movie Mom, which recommended it for "all ages" (note: based on reader comments about the violence, she has revised her recommendation to kindergartners and older. I'm not sure I'd even agree that it's appropriate that young. The plot would go over most 6 year olds' heads, I think.)

I felt compelled to write about this in case anyone is considering taking their toddler(s) to this movie. To me, this was a lesson in not trusting the "G" rating on any movie. I screen films at home and avoid plotlines that are violent, sexist, racist, etc. I know some kids movies are garbage. I should exercise the same due diligence for theater movies too.

Edited to add: I looked up the MPAA definition of "G" and it says the General Audiences rating "[contains] nothing... that, in the view of the Rating Board, would offend parents whose younger children view the motion picture."

Yet, here we are, offended.

To me, it doesn't matter if a show redeems itself after the opening scenes. You can't erase violent imagery from a child's mind once you've put it there.

On a brighter note, the movie opened with a "Toy Story" short film that was really cute and creative. And we all enjoyed watching the previews and eating popcorn. It was a fun outing, even if it was cut short!

A win for solo parenting: I took 2 kids under age 4 to a movie theater, stood in long lines, got them seated and sharing popcorn with no meltdowns :)

a well executed plan

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Today, we refused to let the heat get the best of us.

Our plan: Get out of the house. We keep the air conditioning set at 85, which is barely comfortable when it's over 100 outside. Last summer we learned the hard way: Don't crank the AC below 80. We did, and our electric bill was $585. 

I'm solo parenting this week, and swimming in our backyard pool with two toddlers is challenging. B swims like a fish, but she still enjoys being attached to me. Miles thinks he knows how to swim, but he doesn't. And so I stand with him squirming in one arm while B scales my other arm or my back or yanks my bikini bottoms down. It's super fun.

That's why after breakfast we headed to the gym, where the pool has one of those zero-depth beach entries. Basically, it's a huge kid area where the depth is 0-2 feet, so Miles could stand on his own, and B was able to roam, and I was unencumbered. We had the entire pool to ourselves, which felt weird. I hadn't realized it could be too hot outside to go swimming, but I guess it's possible. The lifeguard followed us around because we were the only people to guard. (Or maybe he thought I looked sexy in my high-waisted swim suit from Land's End. It screamed "mom suit.")

Side note: Land's End bathing suits are not nearly as dorky as I remembered them to be growing up. I'd even say they are flattering if, like me, you still have a little belly pooch from two pregnancies.

So, anyway. My goal was to thoroughly WEAR THE KIDS OUT.



I succeeded. Miles fell asleep sitting up.

Here's something interesting about the desert: When you're swimming and you step out of the pool, the air is so incredibly parched and hot that the water evaporates off your body instantly, leaving you with this cool rush that's not unlike being doused with ice water. On a day like today, it felt amazing. Win one for "dry heat."

After nap, we cashed in a two-for-one coupon at the new self-serve yogurt shop down the street. B ordered "pink and yellow with sparkles on top" and requested two spoons to share with Miles.


Oh how my heart swells when they are best buddies, smiling and giggling at their own private jokes and sharing like they never knew how not to share.



It's days like today that fuel me on the hardest days. When the kids are screaming and not sleeping and whining and making colossal messes and I'm so completely spent, I can dip into the well and find leftover joy from days like this.

PS. Miles' hair is always crazy like that. I've given up trying to tame it. And, do I even need to tell you B dressed herself today? Pink cowboy boots, red dress, green headband and sparkly pink banana clip. She thrilled at the realization you could wear headbands and hair clips simultaneously. Oh, the possibilities.





sunbirds

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I think the best thing to do is not check the weather in the mornings. I'm happier not knowing.

Those people who say "yes, but it's a DRY heat," are just fooling themselves. They're in denial. I've lived in sopping wet heat in the South and dry heat out West. My skin prefers the humidity (but not the mosquitoes...you can keep those, friends). Actually, my skin prefers layers of clothing...which is why I excavated our winter coats, hats, and gloves today. Soon, we'll be heading to a place where the highs are in the 60s and lows in the 30s.

It's too soon to pack, but I got excited.

"Are we going to roast marshmallows?" B asked, because she associates mountain adventures with camping, and camping with marshmallows.

Indeed we will. And we'll be trading our pool for a hot tub. So pack your suit, kid.

The retirees who live up in Wisconsin and migrate down here every November to May are called snowbirds. We're joining a new, younger breed called sunbirds. We don't drive golf carts or crowd the corner diner at 6:00 AM munching doughnuts. But you'll know us when you see us: Sitting on a patio at a brewpub at dusk or sipping a hot latte in the late morning as we stroll a brick sidewalk in some high-elevation town. Shorts by day. Sweatshirts by night.

I love a mountain summer.

gonna make a pie

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Have you ever made something with the intention to share it, but then, you know, it looks and smells so yummy that you end up taking it all for yourself?

I tossed together the ingredients while the kids sat at the table eating lunch. My plan: let it bake and cool while they nap and afterward we'd deliver it to a friend on a playdate.

But the aroma was intoxicating. I could hardly stand it. The kids napped a full 2 hours, so I was all alone with the pie. It was torture. When B padded downstairs, hair a tangled nest of sleepy curls and shirt damp with sweat, she climbed into my lap and rubbed her eyes and said, "Mommy, can I please have some pie?"

And so we did. We were selfish. And it was sooooo good.

Anyone else see the movie "Waitress" with Kerri Russel? I have to admit, I wasn't a fan of pie until I saw that flick. Yes, I grew up in the South. And southern women do love their pie (bless their hearts). But I hadn't realized that pie has a soul...and until you look past the ingredients to the soul of a pie, you'll never fully appreciate it.

In the movie, I loved Jenna's pie metaphors. Despite their whimsy, the recipes sounded (and looked) pretty tasty:

I Can't Have No Affair Because It's Wrong And I Don't Want Earl To Kill Me Pie: Vanilla custard with banana. Hold the banana. 


Earl Murders Me Because I'm Having An Affair Pie: You smash blackberries and raspberries into a chocolate crust.

Pregnant Miserable Self Pitying Loser Pie:  Lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in. FlambĂ© of course.

And so, in honor of Jenna, I present to you, dear readers:
I Never Was Much Of A Southern Belle Till I Moved Out West Peach Pie
8-10 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced (an easy way to peel them is to boil them for 1 minute and then rinse in cold water. the peels fall off)
1/2 cup of brown sugar (more if peaches aren't super ripe)
1/4 cup of flour
sprinkle of granulated sugar (just 'cause)
some butter (1/4 cup or so)
dash of cinnamon

Combine ingredients and pour into pie crust (I used a premade crust from Trader Joe's). Bake it at 400F for 15 minutes and then turn the heat down to 350F for 30 more minutes. After that, I turned the heat off and let it cool in the oven, which helped it set nicely.

As you combine the ingredients, you need to sing the following tune:

"Baby don't you cry, gonna make a pie, gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Baby don't be blue, gonna make for you, gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Gonna make a pie from heaven above, gonna be filled with strawberry love
Baby don't you cry, gonna make a pie, and hold you forever in the middle of my heart."

Serve pie warm.

I promise there will be more pies, and we'll share next time.

orphans

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We discovered these little guys in our pool last week, swimming frantically and chirping so loudly the neighbors could hear them next door. The ducklings were separated from their mother. We occasionally see adult ducks in swimming pools around here, but their mama was no where in sight.

I wanted to feed them. Kris insisted we shouldn't. They're owl bait, he said, and feeding them would only encourage them to stay. He tried to help them out of the pool, but each time he approached, they'd dive out of reach.

I am a mother. I have no choice but to feed babies. So, I gave them some bread crumbs. This appeased Bronwynn, who was insisting we move them into her bathtub and dress them up as princesses.

Unfortunately, the next day, only one duckling was left. I called the state fish and game department to see if he could be relocated to a safer place, but before they arrived, the lone duckling had disappeared.

When B looked in the pool and saw he was gone, she said, "oh good, Mommy! His wings got bigger and he flew away!" Which is exactly what my father told me when I was three and the wounded bird I was nursing in a shoebox disappeared overnight.

When you're three, there's no other explanation.

boys and ballet

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Yesterday I posted this on The Daily B's Facebook page:  
Thanks for all the comments and support!

I had forgotten this issue was in the news recently when a J.Crew catalog featured Jenna Lyons painting her son's nails. There was some interesting (and entertaining in its ignorance) backlash.

To me, this isn't really about gender at all. It's about little sibling wanting to do everything like big sibling. Just look at him. He's infatuated.


He also thinks he belongs in B's ballet class. He's been practicing:

video


My kids, like most kids, are exploring the world, discovering their own unique tastes and developing personalities. Or, maybe I should say they're honing their personalities, because as moms know, many babies express their disposition immediately from birth. B was social from the get-go. Miles, more introspective. I don't expect a coat of nailpolish to change who he is.



Incidentally, B told me yesterday that she wants to be Spiderman for Halloween this year. Won't that be adorable?

Someone, please call the transgender police. 

walking the line

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Living with two children under four, there's a tension between over-the-moon joyful and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Or more accurately: waiting for the next hit, bite, fall, crash, time-out or hurt feeling.


For the mama, it's delightful and utterly exhausting. I try to roll with it. I try to hold back when they bicker and let them work it out themselves. (As long as no one's bleeding, that is.) I gently correct, redirect and point out the negative consequences that accompany bad choices, hoping they'll learn to make better ones in the future. But it's hard to not referee or punish when they make their sibling cry.

I praise them up and down when they are kind and gentle to one another. Which is frequently. But sometimes not frequent enough.

We're walking the line. A classic battle of good vs. evil.

This has been one of those weeks. Moment to moment mood swings. Miles is cutting his eye teeth. He's clinging to me so tightly that I call him my monkey baby. To prove to Kris I wasn't exaggerating, I let go of Miles while he was perched on my hip, and sure enough--he didn't fall. Not even an inch.

B is torn between wanting to be a baby--Mommy's only baby--and longing for the independence of "big kids." One moment, she's helping me cook dinner. The next, she resents Miles when he snuggles with me. When I make room for her on my lap, Miles hits her. She smacks him, and I end up putting them both down and walking away...which prompts them to cry and then settle down and we eventually all snuggle quietly and read books. We get there, but it's a winding path.

What's perplexing (and amazing, really), is their ability to emotionally turn on a dime. I grabbed my iPhone and took these photos of them loving on each other just moments--like 90 seconds, people--after they were fighting over a toy truck and wailing. Jealousy has fangs. But it also has a short memory, apparently.


They do genuinely love. Sometimes I think that's the issue. Too much love. Too much togetherness.  They feel big, big feelings and can't quite intellectualize them. They don't quite get it when I say that Mommy has enough love for each of them.

How can that be true? But it so is. And it makes all the other stuff so worth it.

P.S. I'm curious how the rest of you handle sibling rivalry? Any tips?

who's pretty neat?

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The following is a guest post by my friend Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser, author of Standing in the Shadows, a blog about parenting, politics and more. Sarah knows that I'm kinda organized. She admits she is not (yet). So we both decided to read Pretty Neat: The Buttoned-Up Way to Get Organized and Let Go of Perfection and share our thoughts. Here she shares hers. And today, over on her blog, I'm sharing mine. So when you're done reading here, hop on over to Standing in the Shadows for my post. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Take it away, Sarah! 

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You know the type (you might even be the type): harried working mama (in my case, of four, ages 15 down to three), devoted to community organizing, always willing to help a friend, tries to walk rather than drive and cook rather than rely upon takeaway (for money and environment and health) and exercise and be socially networked and kind of be married, too, beyond the obvious sharing of a bed and childcare duties. Can you guess what my house looks like?


Yeah. It’s really cluttered.

Did I mention that late at night, when I should be preparing lunches or sleeping or stretching on the floor, sometimes I find myself glued—superglue-d—to design blogs, many of them by mothers capable, it seems (really, not kidding) of churning their own butter, knitting their children’s sweaters and completely color coding their lives. Oh, and photographing all this perfection for the rest of us to drool over. Maybe I exaggerate the teeniest, tiniest bit. Maybe I do not.

I am pretty sure the design bloggers I allude to do not lose their children’s socks on a regular basis.

The writers of Pretty Neat: The Buttoned-Up Way to Get Organized and Let Go of Perfection take a more practical approach to this Superwoman conundrum, arguing that perfection is an unreasonable and even undesirable goal. Partners in a consulting company that helps people achieve this theoretically user-friendly “good enough” standard (still, astronomically higher than any level of togetherness I’d imagine successfully reaching), you could argue theirs is a feminist approach to taking charge of your personal chaos. Less a philosophical or political takedown of our cultural obsession with perfection—the blogs I drool over they have named “org porn,” for example—their book offers many strategies to pare down and streamline and features many interviews to help readers see this both isn’t rocket science and isn’t something people magically “master” by osmosis, either.

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The good news, for a gal like me, who really does long for a less frenetic existence but isn’t going to make major lifestyle changes in order to have a clean house or not be the last parent to return the camp forms is that Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch are not suggesting I try to become someone I’m not. More importantly, they do not put this task of simplification squarely on my shoulders. Instead, they kind of draw their readers in with the bald truth: we’re living in really busy times and we are bombarded with stimulation. Rather than suggesting that unless eschew technology or kids’ afterschool activities or halt our hectic routine, we are doomed to absolute entropy, the authors—professional organizing consultants—instead prevail upon readers to think in terms of simply making small changes (at least to start).



There’s a question about whether being neat enough falls under a feminist vision for one’s life. I mean, sometimes when I’m sorting through small plastic toys—a task I’ve been particularly focused upon on and off these past six months or so, since deciding to reclaim my house as a place I can enjoy—I have wondered how I got here (here being the mom who just wants to clean up over whatever else I might like to do more or that might seem more meaningful).

 
Living well is the best revenge? That’s the phrase that runs through my mind. I don’t need my house fancy, tricked out or even perfectly neat. I really don’t. Nor must I emulate those design blogging mothers (I loved stumbling upon this article about another nonreligious woman’s obsession with Mormon mom blogs and learning I wasn’t in any way alone in my—seemingly-dissonant-to-the-rest-of-my-life—attraction to them). Yet, now that I am “in it” with four kids and all that entails, I actually do yearn to find stuff and to see the surfaces of counters and tables and have the clothing in the drawers fit the wearers. I want my kids—three boys, one girl, in case you wondered—to be better at taking care of their needs and their stuff than I was when I entered adulthood. A little self-sufficiency goes a long way is what I’m thinking.

As I read the many lists of ideas about how to become pretty neat, I noted—with much more attention than I’d imagined myself to pay—what I was already doing, what worked for me, what hasn’t worked for me, and I really latched onto the idea that little by little, I may just get myself somewhat organized and more or less neat enough. It’s not going to happen overnight—not even by the end of 2011. But I’m making strides. 


Giveaway Winner!

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Thanks to those who participated in the giveaway and helped spread the word about The Daily B!

I used a random number generator to figure out the winner, and the result was 5, which is Timmi!

Timmi, please shoot me an email with your mailing address and I'll get the cozy to you ASAP.
dailyb.blog [at] gmail.com

Have a great weekend, everyone!

xo
Gina

irony

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Me: Get in your seats, kids. Your oatmeal is ready.
B: We don't have time to eat, Mommy. We're too busy taking care of our babies.




Reminder: Giveaway ends tonight. Enter by commenting on Tuesday's post! I'll announce the winner on Saturday.

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