Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rain or Shine

After my last ugh post I'm happy to report that we had a pretty splendid little holiday weekend even though there were a few hiccups along the way. First, it rained a lot, namely, an all day washout on Saturday. And then I got sick. The icky scratchy throat and sinus headache kind of sick. I'm pretty sure it's a result of allergies because we all had a lot of drainage going on. Thankfully it was nothing that rendered any of us to bed.

BUT, none of that ruined some great family moments.

Even with the small window of beautiful weather, we barely touched the television. All of the sudden William and Lucy are best pals and are really playing well together. There was lots of dramatic play and Brian and I found ourselves constantly giggling to each other as we would overhear them in the other room. On Monday a neighbor friend came to pick up William to spend an hour at the playground together and Lucy cried herself a little puddle. "I miss William!" she screamed. And she really did.

Isn't it funny how things can turn a corner so suddenly? I'm not saying everything is going to be coming up roses between the two of them from here on out. But at least I know there's some potential there. What do you think it is? Perhaps Lucy is developing from parallel to cooperative play? Doesn't that happen right around three years? Or maybe it's William finally understanding exactly how to play with Lucy without stepping on any of her trigger buttons. Whatever it is, I hope it lasts all summer long.

As the rain poured down I busied myself in the kitchen. I made the most incredible Blueberry Crumb Cake that I found on Pinterest. I had giant, perfect blueberries from Trader Joe's and when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. It's so simple. I had every single ingredient already on hand. Don't you love it when that happens? You absolutely must try it. Let me know if you do!

I also made a pretty good hot corn dip but I'm not going to post the link because it's not perfect yet. I'm going to tweak it and play with it and when I get it right, I'll let you know.

Beyond all the yummy goodness, Sunday was by far the highlight of the weekend. Temperatures reached well over 90 and it was time to debut our favorite summer hangout at Minnehaha Falls. First we hit up the splash pad for the kiddies and then we head over to this amazing little seafood joint right next to the falls. On average, we do this little routine a couple times a month when the weather allows. They have, hands down, the best seafood tacos I have ever had. I never even look at the menu anymore. I get the sea scallop tacos every. single. time.

But before all that our little Katherine threw a hitch in our plan. She fell asleep at the tail-end of mass and not wanting to disturb her rest, we had to wait, what seemed like an eternity to the kids, to leave the house. So while we waited Brian set up the sprinkler for them in the backyard and thus commences my first summer photos of the year.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

This Is Where I'm At

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed these days.

See what I did there?  I added the words a bit.  Not because I needed to but only because it sounds less whiny.  In blogging there's a real fine line between being a whiny McWhinerson and just plain keepin' it real.

It's May.  And usually around this time of year I'm jumping for joy.  The days are long and spent 100% outdoors.  After an evening jaunt to the park and scrubbing the dirt from their sun-kissed bodies I'll settle down and say to myself, "It's only May!  We still have three whole months of summer to go.  Hooray!"

But this year I find myself grumbling.  "It's only May.  I still have three more months of this.  Ugh."

What it is, is this.  I'm not really a mom.  I'm just someone who has been chosen to oversee this runaway circus show.

We live in Minnesota and our warm weather months are very limited.  So I'm constantly kicking the kids outside.  Of which they never protest.  But of which they always find some sort of trouble to get in while I'm tied up inside tending to some need of the baby.

Just yesterday I brought the baby inside for less than a minute when I peaked out the window and no longer saw Lucy.

"William, where's Lucy?"

"I don't know."

Then I always have a little fight in my head.  She's probably fine.  Let it be.  Stop being a helicopter parent.  This is the only voice Brian hears in his head, by the way.  It both irritates me and sends me into a fit of envy all at the same time.  How can he just do nothing and feel OK with it?

The other voice of mine says What kind of parent are you?  Go find her!  What will the neighbors think?  She's probably halfway to the Mississippi by now!

I listened to the second voice.  I plopped the baby down and ignored her screams.  I ran out the back door yelling her name.

I could faintly hear her voice coming from somewhere in the front yard.  So I ran around to the front of the house to find her ringing the doorbell of our next door neighbor.  A confused, but still smiling, Mrs. P answered the door.  I apologized profusely.  Here I am.  The mother who let her three-year-old daughter loose in the neighborhood to play Ding, Dong, Ditch.

I can hear you laughing but please believe me when I tell you that was the very last reaction I had.

So on the back stairs she went for a timeout and some very stern warnings about the Rules of Summer and Outdoor Play.

1. We don't cross the alley.
2. We don't ring other people's doorbells.
3. Furthermore, we don't go into other people's yards.

OK, Mommy.

"If you break the rules," I threaten, "I will take away your wand."

She gasps.

Ah-ha!  I've found it.  This one would sting.  Now we're speaking the same language.  The wand has been threatened.  This is serious business.

You see?  It's a story like this, where I can see myself from an out-of-body perspective, when I know that all I really do all day is run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to put out fires.

Maybe it's the difference between two children and three.  Or maybe it's the difference between rule-follower William and rule-challenger Lucy.

Whatever it is, I'm exhausted.  And depleted.

A couple weeks ago Brian was traveling for work and I thought it was going to be the end of me.  All the mornings.  All the nights.  All the days.  All by myself.

The problem isn't really the travel. The problem is that the travel is so long. Most times extending to a full work week and sometimes even a weekend. It's an eternity in my life.

Travel was not supposed to be a part of his job description but alas here we are.  Part of me is really excited for him in his career.  He's jetsetting off to really cool places.  He's drinking the world's best coffee and making best friends with Europeans.  He's drinking craft beer with Princeton University students.  He's meeting big-name clients face-to-face and hearing about cutting edge medical breakthoughs.  It's the kind of stuff we always dreamed about when he first set out in the wonderful world of Sales.

But I would be lying if I didn't admit that there's also a part of me that's desperately bitter about the whole thing.  Because OMIGOSH what I wouldn't give to sit in an airport and read USA Today.  Or fly the friendly skys knowing that the scream I hear ten rows back is no child of my responsiblity.  Or to sleep in a king-sized bed all by myself for four nights straight without a single distruption except my morning alarm.

The only thing that keeps the bite from really stinging is the fact that Brian completely acknowledges the fact that, at this point in our lives, he totally drew the longer stick.

So we laugh and poke fun at the situation.  Because otherwise I'd cry.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An "In Real Life" Morning

This morning was of the self depreciating kind.  One where I go through the litany in my head of all the ways I am failing as a mother.

I wanted to clean upstairs today so I put the kids and baby on the porch.  And everything was merry.  But then I heard, from afar, William say, It's snowing! and I thought to myself, this cannot be good.  It wasn't.  He was pouring the remnants of a box of baby cereal over Katherine's head.  He knows better.  Oh boy does he know better.  And I made that quite clear.

At that very moment Brian's sister called.  She, also with three young kids at home plus a baby nephew that she watches five days a week.  Instead of my usual happy greeting the minute I hit the Talk button on the phone, I answered with a great big ARGH!

She laughed and said, yep, she's also wanted to throw her three-year-old out the window since eight that morning.

And that made me feel better. Because I know that my sister-in-law is a really, really good mom.  And if even a really, really good mom feels like she wants to throw her son out of the window every once in a while, then I was probably OK.

It was raining this morning as it has every other day for the past two weeks.  I might build an ark.  I know the constant gloominess just made everything feel worse than it really was.  My kids need a lot of fresh air and when they don't get it, they go crazy.

I made a deal with them.  If they cleaned up all their toys in the living and dining room, I would let them watch The Muppets.  It's their latest addiction.  They have all the songs and 80% of the lines memorized.

In true kid fashion, nothing motivates more than a treat or TV time so they picked up those toys in record time.  I turned on the movie and went upstairs to finish cleaning.

Cleaning soothes me.  Few people will understand this, I know.  It calms me and it allows my mind to collect its thoughts and evaluate.  But the problem with cleaning is that I hate being interrupted.  I get very irritated if this happens.  So the whole time I have this constant battle going on in my head.  On the one hand I'm a bad mom for resorting to the television to babysit my kids.  But on the other hand, to thine own self be true.

I was thisclose to being finished with the cleaning when the baby woke up from her morning nap.  I knew she was going to be hungry for real food because I didn't give her any for breakfast.  And when it comes to babies, well, they're the boss.  No TV will distract her when she's got a grumbling belly.

So I paused my cleaning to mash her up some bananas and feed her and this, of course, prompted the older kids to come into the kitchen and ask for their lunch.  So I put together their sandwiches and fruit and yogurt and after I served it to them in the dining room I came back into the kitchen and almost took a picture of it for you.  It was like a bomb had gone off in there.  And this made me laugh because while I was using every ounce of effort to dust and vacuum and mop and scrub the upstairs, my kitchen was going to hell in a hand basket.

It's the irony of the life I lead.

In the end, the cleaning got finished.  I got to eat lunch myself before 2:00 p.m; a rarity.  I even had time to tidy up that bomb of a kitchen.  And the real treat?  All three kids fell asleep during rest time.  I'm the luckiest mom in the world.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Sunday Night Walk

After dinner we let the dishes stay dirty.  We wipe faces and fingers and skedaddle to the backyard.  If we don't, it will be a long, long time until sleep consumes them.

He rides his bike.  She wants to ride the three-wheeled princess scooter handed down from the six-year-old neighbor girl but I know I'll regret letting her do this two blocks in to our walk.  So I say no.  She puts up a fight.  But not too much.  Just enough for her to let me know she's big enough now.  She takes her place at the front of the tandem double stroller anyway.

The baby is already happy to be locked and loaded.  Nary a sound escapes her mouth the whole trek.  But she sees it all.  She doesn't blink a wink.  Watching.  Waiting.  Listening.  Learning.
He bikes a block ahead of us.  Always obediently looking back to make sure he can still see me like I've asked.  And always, always stopping at intersections to wait for the all clear from me or Dad.

Lucy is loud.  And annoying.  I'm not afraid to admit it.  Whining about this and that.  Getting in and out of the stroller 1,745 times.  But I'm glad it's out here and not in the four walls of our house.

I tell her to look for bunnies to distract her complaining mind.  And the second the words escaped me we came upon a big one.  So still I wondered if she might be a lawn ornament.  We got so close.  And she didn't move.  But then we got too close and she sprung off on her hind legs and into the yard behind her.

Brian saw it first.  The gentle rustling of leaves on the exact spot the rabbit had just vacated.  He leaned in slowly and there they were.  A nest of teeny, tiny hairless bunnies.  The kids were in awe.  But careful.  Brian told them if we touched them, their mother might not come back.

Yes, because our neighborhood is severely lacking in the bunny department, I sarcastically told Brian.

After attentions ran dry we turned the corner down another street to find what surely must have been a bunny farm.  They were everywhere!  Brian told the kids he would give them five dollars if they could catch one.  So on a nearby grassy bank they chased Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail until their breaths ran out.

They came up empty-handed.  So they cut their losses and we walked the rest of the way home.

Instead of a book after her bath, Lucy opted to tell me a story about a princess and some bunnies.  And then she snuggled in with her own stuffed bunny and fell fast asleep without a single protest.

Our summer routine is starting.  And I love it.
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