Friday, August 29, 2008

New pics

Here are some of the latest photos taken of the kids.

N at the State Fair, riding in an Alice in Wonderland teacup.

Frick and Frack in Frack's crib, accompanied by their pacifiers.

They look so sweet and innocent, but only momma knows the truth.

How G helps me in the kitchen while I prepare supper.

The oatmeal experiment since I was getting tired of G eating the sand out of the sandbox.

What the future holds

There was a time not so long ago when the mere idea of being away from my daughter for any extended period of time was torture. I couldn't fathom not wanting to spend every moment with her.

It saddens me to report that those days are over. And I'm not sure why. I think partly because she is 4 and a half. And partly because G is in the picture now.

And it makes me feel lousy. I guess I let my getting aggravated with her bring me down.

What aggravates me? Here's the shortlist:
  • When she takes toys out of G's hands or only starts playing in an area where he is simply because he is playing there. Like today, we were outside, and I helped G start climbing up the slide. Pronto, N was there yelling, "It's my turn. I wanna go up and down the slide." (Which then resulted in me having to give them turns and lugging chunk when I wasn't previously having to do that.)
  • When she does things like G in a babyish way, after seeing me give him some attention for doing it. Like clapping her hands. The whole acting-like-a-baby shtick drives me batty!!!
  • When, after having been played with and given attention, she can't give me and D 2 seconds to converse without getting all up in our grills. And when we ask her to stop interrupting, she complains that she wants to be played if we've ignored her for hours.
  • When she putzes around, which is pretty much the only speed she knows. When it is time to walk downstairs, she lolly-gags in front of me, stops at the steps, proceeds to throw her entourage of stuffed animals down the steps one at a time, all the while that I am lugging Hercules and feeling my arms lose circulation.
  • When she's begging for a fight. The other day, she read one of her Brand New Reader books to me, but instead of reading the words, she just recited Jack and Jill. After she finished, she asked me if she had read it right. Having learned from past episodes with her when I had constructively criticized, I said, "Yes." But she knew I was lying, so she asked again if she had read it right. So I answered, "No." Then she got mad and asked again if she had read it right. No matter what I said, she was gonna take issue with it. And when I said, "I don't know if you read it right," she really lost her mind.
  • When she does any of the above simultaneously!!!!!

We have been at each other quite frequently over the past 2 weeks, which could be because 1.) the pool closed, and she is officially bored out of her skull, 2.) my breastfeeding hormones are waning resulting in me being especially irritable, or 3.) a little bit of both.

And it makes me dread the teenage years. I have already had my fill of her attitude and she is not even 5. She can be very, very strong-willed, and I simply can't relate. I was always very compliant with my parents (until I became a teen). My dad could just give me a look and I'd cry or apologize. My daughter doesn't have that in her. She has no qualms giving me what for.

On the one hand, I am really glad she's got fire in her because I don't want her to be a wet-noodle like I was as a kid....especially with kids or mean people. But it makes my job a helluva lot harder.

So this is why I am aching, yes, aching for preschool to start. She needs an outlet because I fear we've both had quite enough of each other.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A treatise on friendship

Motherhood and friendship make for weird bed partners.

I have friendships that predate my children with a group of women whom I meet for brunch about every 6 weeks or so. My dear K has been in my life since we were 14. I have a special friendship with the woman who was my 8th grade teacher.

And then there are lots of women I know as a result of being a mom....since our kids play together or have played together in the past. And I call them friends.

But deep down inside, I tend to be a real stickler with regard to the word friend.

I wish there was a word somewhere between friend and acquaintance. Maybe there is?

N's friendships change as often as her underwear because of preschool schedules or kids growing up or interests changing. And as a result, my "friendships" change too because I don't see these moms as often or at all. Of course, there are the handful of these "friendships" that I have inadvertently destroyed as a result of issues between the children or political/religious emails.

And whenever one of N's friendships (or my pseudo-friendships) goes sour, I feel sad but then I have to ask myself how real of friendships were they? Not that I don't really like these other moms or want to be their friend. Sometimes I really and truly wish we could become better friends beyond the confines of our children. And sometimes I realize how different we are and that we only were friendly because our kids played together. Once our kids no longer play together, we will not talk or see each other, and it really won't bother us. Heck, we may actually be glad.

I think this is one of the harder parts of motherhood. It is challenging enough to watch your child navigate the waters of true friendship and help guide him/her, but it is nearly impossible to navigate 2 ships at once. And so my friendships, or pseudo-friendships, or temporary friendships sink. Either because of the nature of being a mom or because I torpedo them myself or because they were never meant to be in the first place.

Birthday Party Crow Eater

About 2 years ago, my friend T told me how many birthday parties her daughter had been invited to when she started preschool, which was on the order of 1 million (ok, I exaggerate a little). I, in my great knowledge and wisdom and being the mother of a 2-year-old, said I wouldn't let N go to that many parties if and when the time ever came that she received lots of invitations.

Here I am, 2.5 years later, taking N to tons of birthday parties for her little friends. Since the end of July, N has been invited to 5 and attended 4. She got another invitation yesterday after we had returned home from 2 parties in a row. I even allowed N to have a friend party for her 4th birthday since she had been attending so many other kids' parties, which I thought I wouldn't do until she was at least 10.

O, what do I know anyway? About anything related to parenting?

I have mixed feelings about birthday parties involving people other than family. The kids love them. N just beams whenever I hand her an invitation to open and eagerly asks me to read it. For her it is sheer fun to be with her friends and play.

For me, it is alot more involved than that....mostly because I think too much about stupid stuff and worry about things that nobody else notices or cares about.

Like the cost of the gift.

I have a Gift Box, in which I put toys and books I buy on sale. And I mean, really good sales (because in addition to having OCD and being highly anal, I am also cheap). This saves me some money, as well as time, so I'm not running out to Target constantly to purchase presents. And I don't buy cards because 1.) the kids don't give a rat's ass about the cards, and 2.) I'm cheap and don't want to spend nearly $3 on a card that the kids don't give a rat's ass about. So I have N make cards for her friends.

But I worry that the kid or the parents of the kid will think I'm cheap (although they don't know how much I spent on any given gift), particularly in light of the fact that they've invited my kid and fed her cake and ice cream and let her play and given her a goodie bag. I keep expecting every kid who invites N to their birthday party to get a shirt that says

I invited N to my party
and all I got was this stupid
{name of toy here}

And even though D makes good money, we simply can't afford to shell out $15-$20 for every birthday party. Hell, I only spend $20-$25 on my own mother for her birthday.

I have mixed feelings about the goodie bags too. Again, N loves them and thinks they are wonderful. I tend to cringe at the money spent on stuff for kids who aren't the birthday kid. My kid has been fed cake and ice cream and played on jungle gyms and whatnot for 2 hours. Really, she doesn't need anything else.

I sound like an old fogey saying this, but all of this is so, so different than when I was growing up. I had family parties forever, and then had a slumber party when I was around 10. And I think that was the extent of my birthday party life. N has attended way, way more birthday parties than I ever did, and she is not quite 4 and a half.

I suppose N attending birthday parties makes me feel pressure to follow suit, when I would be perfectly content to just have family parties for years and years. Some people like to entertain, but I hate it. With family, I feel comfortable saying, "Get your water/soft drink/ice cream/napkin/whatever yourself," but I can't do that with N's friends and their parents. Well, I guess I could but I'm already too good at pissing people off.

And yes, there is always the option of having the party out somewhere at a gym or restaurant which we will likely do for her 5th or 6th birthday, but I can't afford to do that every year, especially since what I do for N I will try to do for G.

Basically, birthday parties make me feel inadequate. N loves them and has fun, and I like seeing N have fun with her friends. But I spend an inordinate amount of time feeling cheap or like a bad hostess or like a stick-in-the-mud mom as a result of seeing what other parents do for their kids.

I thought middle school ended a long time ago but apparently I am still stuck in some adolescent limbo. Oh no, wait, this is what motherhood is all about.

Good nite! Who would have thought that I would be able to write this much about preschool birthday parties. I keep telling myself to just let N go and enjoy herself, take a gift from the Gift Box and a homemade card (because nobody cares), and do whatever I feel comfortable with regarding N and her birthday parties.

I don't know if my friend T remembers my oh-so-wise comments about birthday parties from a couple years back, but if she does, I just want her to know I am downing full bottles of A-1 with the crow I am currently eating.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Seriously, is it time for preschool to start?

Because I think N and I are both in need of a new routine.

A number of things have contributed to our shared funk, I think.
First, the pool doesn't open now until 3:30 pm, so it is pointless to even try to go since G is a late napper, and I have to fix dinner sometime.
Second, we don't have a tv in the living room anymore since the built-ins are still a work in progress. No doors, only primer. Thus, no entertainment on the main floor.
Third, I think I am tired of having her around all the time. (I thought I would never say this.)
Fourth, I think she is tired of being around me all the time.
Fifth, G makes it impossible to do lots of fun stuff we like to do, like shop or run errands. He is Mr. I Don't Wanna Be in a Shopping Cart, and If You Let Me Down I Will Destroy the Store.

So I have been biting my tongue lately because she has just been getting on my nerves.

I expect there will come a time when I will miss hearing her say, "Mom, watch this!" But most of the time when she says it and I watch her, I have no inkling what it is she is trying to impress me with. She' ll be doing something really subtle, like crossing her feet at the ankles, when I am expecting her hair to be set afire. Or she'll say, "Mom, watch," which could mean watch her, watch the tv, watch G do something, watch the cats. My strained patience can be heard in my voice as I ask, "Watch WHAAAAAT????"

And then there is her plaintive, "Mom, play with me." I am nearly 35 years old, so playing Alice in Wonderland or Ballet Class or Baby Daycare has very, very little appeal (especially when we are playing it for the 4,000,000th time). But I play with her anyway. Often, she seems to find me so boring that she ends up just wandering around, and I'm left wondering if we are still playing or if her putzing around is part of her game plan.

And then there is her attempt to have me do things with her that she sees me doing with G, which I find so annoying. She wants me to bounce her on my lap and sing "Giddye Up Horsey." Or she wants me to grab her legs and pull her across the bed, as I do with G to keep him from crawling off the bed. I feel like I am constantly saying, "N, you are too big to do this anymore" and "N, you're a big girl and mommy can't do that with you." I know she sees me playing with him and feels jealous and wants to be a part of something special with me, but she forgets the hour I play Alice or daycare or push her on the swingset when G naps. G rarely gets any time with just mommy without N horning in.

So I am ready for a change of pace. A new routine. A chance for us to be away from each other for a bit. We need some breathing room.

Moving on

I think I am done with the most recent drama in my life, although I may stew over it a bit now and again. But it did prove for some interesting discussions with D, my mom and myself.

My mom told me I just shouldn't read the emails people send me anymore, a point that launched one of our better bickers. My response to her was questioning why I should lose my right to read my email because sometimes people send me crap or nonsense or too many cutesy little Precious Moment blurbs (like my mother). It is like answering my front door---when it rings, I answer. Sometimes it is a Jehovah's Witness, whom I send away as politely as possible, and sometimes it is a Girl Scout selling those addictive cookies, whom I send away with one of D's paychecks and her promise that she will return in 3 weeks with the goods.

I did think alot about blogging and why I blog. Initially, I started it on a lark, but now it has multiple purposes, one of which is to vent and reflect, and there is an important aspect of it being public. If it is public, if someone other than myself can read it, I am forced to really think things ask myself hard questions. If I just wrote in my own personal journal, I could do junk like this.....

OMG! So-and-so is a big tooty-head, and I think they've been at the bong too long (hey, that rhymes). And I hate this and that and him and her and why, oh, why do things never go my way? Well, *&)($%**())(#%, I am never gonna do this, that and the other.

Which might feel really good but doesn't actually do me any good because it is really just a rant without me putting one iota of thought into what I'm feeling and why and looking at my motivations and other people's motivations. I have boxes full of journals in which I did just vent...and now, looking back on it, having a couple years of therapy under my belt, I can see my issues, my negative thinking, my irrational thought-patterns, and none of it proved to be helpful.

And in the 2 instances in which I've pissed people off (in part because of my blog), both of them didn't usually read my blog but read it after an "issue" with me and thought I might have written something. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I think this may be called something on the order of "looking for trouble." But I can understand that people would feel angered that I had blogged about a situation I'd had with them (even if no one else but the 2 of us knows who the "other person" is about whom I write).

I'm sure I would feel angry too. I like to think, though, that after my anger, I would really try to see if the blogger had a valid point. Sometimes the things we get angry with are the things we know are true (or have some validity). A part of me wants to say, "I haven't done anything inviolate by blogging, and I can't understand why people get their panties in a twist when I write about situations that involve them." But this is the defensive part of me...the part of me that wants to be right all the time. I know that blogging about an "issue" takes a tough skin to write and read... and even though I don't intend to hurt feelings, I know I have. And I do feel badly about that.

But not enough to stop blogging. If the email that started all this mess was a testament to anything, it is that I have the right to write what I want. Because someone wrote that email, and I know even at my most aggravated, nothing I have written has been as inflammatory as that.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

From whence the rant came....

Normally my blog is just a big vent for stay-at-home mom stuff. Nothing too heavy here, so my political/religion rant was a little out of context.

I seem to have a history of saying or emailing something that I consider pretty neutral or innocuous but which starts a big ole honking chain reaction of hurt feelings. And so this story begins.

A friend/neighbor sent me (and a bunch of other people whom I later learned were her church friends and family) an email about Obama being the Anti-Christ according to the Book of Revelation. Now I am certainly no Bible scholar...because as anyone who grew up Catholic knows, Catholics know only 2 of the three Bs---beer and bingo, not bible....but I also suspected it was a lot of false information.

So I replied to all and provided 2 links (one from that explain that the whole Obama as Anti-Christ thing is bunk. All I said was, "Here are 2 links for anyone interested in a different perspective."

I figured since I am not a practicing religious anything and received this email, there may be others like me on the list. And unless I'm mistaken, I don't think anyone's GOP radar goes off when I am in the vicinity.

Apparently not.

Soon after, I received an email from 2 people on the list. One told me that her family doesn't get their biblical interpretations from The second told me, and I quote, "people like you shouldn't be allowed to live in this country," and that I should go move to the Middle East and wear a towel on my head.

Anyone who knows me even a little can see that this has been fodder for a whole lot of late-night stewing and festering.

So what is bothering me about the whole thing? Oh, where do I begin?

Both replies I received had a tone like, "How dare you reply to us believers with your information?," which made me wonder whether I violated some code of email ethics by replying to all.
But I figure that
1. if I am sent an email, then I am allowed to reply to it.
2. if I, a heathen, was on the list then perhaps other heathens were too who wouldn't necessarily subscribe to the beliefs laid out about Obama/Anti-Christ.

And the second email was littered with misspellings and poor made the Language Arts teacher in me cringe. Lord knows I have my prejudices and stereotypes which I fight within myself on a regular basis, but I know many Christians who are educated, kind, thoughtful and eloquent. Unfortunately for the sender of this email, I couldn't help but be reminded of the stereotype of strong Christian believers as illiterate, po-dunk yahoos.

And then just the fanaticism of the whole thing. The Bible is a good guide to life, but so is the Koran and a variety of other religious texts that espouse being kind and loving to others. I just can't help but think people who base their whole entire existence on 1 book or piece of writing, irregardless of the book or writing, are narrow-minded. Wouldn't people think I was a little screwy if I based my whole outlook on life on the Betty Crocker cookbook? Or Lord of the Rings? Or the Bill of Rights?

Anyone building a house wants a good, solid foundation, and the Bible can be part of that, but doesn't a sensible, educated, wise person want concrete and rebar and every available strong material he/she can find to build the foundation of the house. The 3rd little pig used brick, but he also used mortar.

So there it is.

This is the 2nd time in less than a year that something I've done or said has bothered a neighbor. So either I am the problem or I happened to move into a neighborhood of people more sensitive than me. Who'd a thunk it?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Politics and religion

Generally I try to avoid talking either of these with anyone other than D because I usually end up pissing someone off or getting pissed off myself (and with D--he and I are on the same page, same paragraph, same line so I don't have to worry much about the pissing off parts).

As much as I like the idea of having open, balanced, mind-expanding discussions with people who are of different views than me, the truth is I just get agitated because inevitably someone tries to proselytize. And I am not gonna be persuaded.

I don't mean this in a, "I'm gonna be stubborn and stupid just for the sake and sole purpose of being stubborn and stupid." It is just that after 24 years as a Catholic, I decided I (personally) was over organized religion. My relationship with the Catholic god was always love/hate....and really, mostly hate or love only because I felt extreme guilt otherwise.

I lived at home until I married at age 24 and went to church only because it was the rule in my parents' home. After I married, I went to church until I left every mass with a gigantic headache and a rage in my heart because virtually everything that was said during that hour pissed me off.

And I never wanted to change churches or religions because it felt like a betrayal if I switched, and ultimately all organized religions have a system of beliefs that you either accept or not, and I clearly have issues accepting certain beliefs.

So I decided I was gonna decide what I absolutely, positively, without question did believe and stick to it. And for me, that is very simple:

1. I believe in a god, higher power, energy, something greater than myself that plays a role in creation (past, present and future)
2. I believe you should treat other people the way you want to be treated.

Ok, that's it. The sum total of my beliefs.

Yes, I believe there was a historical Jesus, but the resurrection part of his story....not so much. Jesus just ain't a big deal to my belief system. Neither are any of the other saints, although I do like Mary for a number of reasons (accepting difficult news at conception announcement; she was a mom).

And politically, well, I think anyone who runs for public office, particularly those in the legislative and executive branch, are full of shit, for the most part. They will blow smoke up the collective ass to get elected, and then they will be bribed by lobbyists. And I would vote Republican if I ever found one that I actually liked more than the Democratic contender. I would have voted for McCain against Kerry because he was the better of the two candidates. Never voted for W. Won't vote for McCain against Obama because 1.) damn he is old, and 2.) anyone who cozies up to W. just ain't right, and 3.) hopefully Obama will be a new way of dealing with the world instead of the usual, "Hey, we're the US and we're always right and how about we invade you?" That is working out reeeeeal well. Can I get an "Amen," Iraqi citizens???

So that pretty well sums up my religious and political views in a nutshell. And if my views have pissed you off, then don't read my blog.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Day in the Life of a 10-Month-Old

Ahh, being 10 months old is awesome, mostly, especially when you got a sucka for a mom like I do.

She is still nursing me at night, even though I weigh well over 24 lbs. If all women are this easy, I got it made.

When I get up in the a.m., the first thing I do is destroy the living room. I just dump all my toys on the floor and drag my cars everywhere. Then I like to fuss for a bit until mom decides to feed me. Then I usually like to explore the dining room and kitchen. I go through mom's scrapbooking papers in the bottom drawer of a cabinet and then tear them up. In the kitchen I like to yank all the kitchen towels out of the drawer and toss them all over the floor. Sometimes I pull the garbage can over, although one time it landed on me which was Not Cool!

Today, while mom was changing sheets, I unrolled about 50 yards of toilet paper from the roll in my bathroom. And then I chewed on my sister's Disney Princess dolls that she plays with in the tub.

This afternoon, when mom was outside with me, I got into sis's sandtable and ate at least 2 or 3 handfuls of sand. Not as tasty as the dirt I ate at Nana's house a month or so ago, but I'm sure it has plenty of fiber. I tried crawling off the patio to get into some mulch, but mom stopped me.

The other night I managed to push myself out of the tub while N and I were being bathed. Kinda like a waterslide (I assume). Mom's knees were there to catch me; landing on tile might have hurt a bit.

I don't have too many goals for when I turn 1 in a little over a month. Maybe eat some bugs. Definitely learn to walk---I am all over that! More freedom! I'm thinking a good sprain or a broken nose might be in my near future. So much to do, so many injuries to sustain, so, so many messes to create.

I want another momma

I, Carrie, don't want another momma, but apparently my daughter does. And while she was mouthing off, she threw D and G in there too. She is too young to be starting her period, so what gives? Ah yes, she is 4 and a half. And she is a girl. And she is tired.

When G went down for his nap, I asked her if she wanted to do some pages in this little preschool workbook she has. We did a sequencing page, and she wrote her numbers 1-4. The number 3 was backward and looked like an E, and the number 2 was backward and looked like a 5. So I tried to show her the correct way to write them. Bad move on my part. This is when she decided she wanted another 'rent.

Now if she had just said, "I don't like you. I want another momma," I wouldn't have had a problem. But when I suggested we do another page to maybe avoid anymore pricklies from me saying something about her numbers, she kept saying she wanted to do the sequencing page (even when I thought we had finished it). It was like she was just egging me on, as if I was gonna say, "Oh, N, look you did do all your numbers correctly. I must just be stupid."

It was this shitty, constant badgering that pissed me off in the end and resulted in me taking paci and bears up to her room, followed by a screaming, crying N (who woke up her brother from his nap). And it was at this point I felt like saying, "N, I don't like you. I want another daughter."