Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Great Mystery of Motherhood

It dawned on me today that one of the greatest mysteries of motherhood is simultaneously loving your child so much that you'd lay down your life for her in a nanosecond while at the same time wanting to smack that same child into next week. (Of course, I would never act upon that second impulse, but sometimes the mental image does help to bring my boiling blood down a degree or two.)

The latest darling thing that has been working on my nerves is Amber wanting something and not wanting it at the same time. This happens daily in a number of situations, much like this scenario:

Amber: "I want some juice."
Me: (Pouring juice and handing cup to Amber.)
Amber: "Uh-uh." (crosses arms across chest and closes eyes, as if sight of the juice makes her ill.)
Me: "Ok then." (Takes juice back to fridge.)
Amber: (screaming) "JUUUUUUUUUUIIIICEEE!!!"
Me: "Here then." (hands cup back)
Amber: "Uh-uh." (Crosses arms again, etc.)

This little scenario would repeat itself indefinitely if I kept offering and retracting the juice cup. And she does it with anything---wants to brush teeth but won't open mouth, wants to walk but sits on ground when put down, wants a toy but won't take it when offered. Annoying, to say the very least!

Unfortunately, the only way to end this stupid cycle is to let the kid scream her guts out for a few minutes till she breaks down and stops acting like a fool. Whenever she does one of this "yes-no" numbers, it's always a downer because I know Amber Volcano must erupt to move past this. I'm hoping for a short-lived phase...

And here's where I came to my great paradox--loving a child so completely and simultaneously wanting to throttle her. I'm sure when she was a baby I could never DREAM of ever even THINKING about hurting my kid, and I used to worry that perhaps there was something really wrong with me. But I have to come to realize that all moms probably reach that level of frustration at some point with their defiant toddler. I just consider these events an exercise in patience for me, while at the same time a means to shape the behavior and character of a developing little person.

Whenever we have tantrums, fits, and fallouts, I try to focus on the big picture. Without ever crossing the line, how else would this child learn what behavior is acceptable and what is not? And fighting these battles now will be better than trying to fight them years down the road...

But the hard part is having to sometimes scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with the energy and patience to remember that in the moment! Which is why I sometimes find myself yelling out "Lord, give me strength!" in the midst of one of these moments! I'm just waiting for the day one of the girls starts repeating that one back to me!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pregnancy Disclaimer

As of Wednesday, 11/17/10, I will officially be 13 weeks into this 40-week "adventure." And so, after already receiving numerous questions--don't you love how being pregnant gets you all these questions and comments?--I must post a few responses to head off the vast majority:

1. No, this was not planned. We are the poster children for fertility, apparently.
2. Yes, these three kids will be close in age. 21 months between the first two, and if all goes as planned, 22 months between the last two.
3. Notice I said "LAST TWO" in the above. This will be the caboose. If I have to perform a "home vasectomy" to ensure that, then so be it. (Just kidding, Jay. Sort of.)
4. I do not care if this is a boy or girl. We don't have a boy, but we do have lots of girl stuff. So it's a win either way. I asked God to give me a good sleeper last time, regardless of sex, and I didn't get that. But I've been an extra good girl this time...
5. No, we were not trying for a boy.
6. No, we will not have more children in hopes of having a boy.
7. No, it's not twins. Please don't tell me I look so huge that surely there's more than one kid in there. There's not. I'm just a fat pregnant lady. Back off before I hurt you.
8. Am I crazy? Yes, yes I am. Or at least, I will be by the end of this ordeal. But hey, what can you do?

Missing in Action

Well, it's been quite some time, hasn't it? I'm sure most people figured this blog went the same way so many of my high school journals and other ventures went--I'd do a great job for the first few weeks and then the project fell off into a black hole, never be seen from again...


For the last 13 weeks or so, we can say I was in a "funk." And by "funk" I mean another misnomer--"morning sickness." Or in my case, we could call it "all-day every day sickness." I am serious--I would GLADLY give birth twice to avoid this first trimester. This is the pits... it's been like the flu and major depression all rolled into one. So not only do you have the "fun" of dry heaving or vomiting all day, you also have the joys of feeling like you are whacked out of your mind.

Seriously, these hormones make me feel like I'm losing my grip on reality, at least in the beginning. My body was in full-out panic mode. I'd wake up at 3 AM for no particular reason with my mind and heart racing. No matter how much I'd try to reason myself out of it by thinking about just how worry-free my day was going to be, it didn't matter because it wasn't rational anyway. Thankfully, that has pretty much subsided. It's the kind of feeling that made you want to have a glass of wine to relax your nerves, but eh, not possible in these circumstances!!

For any of you moms out there who never had to experience these joyous first few months of pregnancy, I am a jealous, jealous beast. Supposedly, your pregnancy is supposed to be a lot like your mom's--well, that's bull. She got no morning sickness and no stretch marks and was a skinny lady after having her kids. Me: not so much.

Whenever I'd get a moment to myself these last few days, I'd go curl up on the couch. Not a lot of eating going for a while there, so a little ill-advised weight loss in there to boot...

So I have a lot to catch up on, and I hope to churn out a few blogs capturing these past few months' goings-on. Lord knows there's been no shortage of source material around here!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Adventures in Potty Training--The Return??

As I promised I would, I have really backed down from prompting Amber to go potty. And for about a week, she was perfectly content with filling up her little diapers and running around "fully loaded."

But now, perhaps my patience is paying off?? She's started requesting to use the potty more regularly now. Of course, at first she just requested it at convenient times for her--two seconds before you put her down for a nap and two seconds before you put her down for bed. Nothing like procrastination as a motivator...

I'm not convinced enough to consider this a "full return" to potty training. She still runs away when you go to change a #2 diaper, which is probably not a good sign.

To be continued yet again...

Huggies Little BOOvers

I swore once that I'd never buy Huggies diapers again.

Oh... but the lure of multiple coupons and dollar signs proved too strong for me and I caved. I mean, hey, 5 bucks is 5 bucks. Surely we could just give them one more try.


These are awful and I can't believe ANYONE would buy them. One time Audrey had one on for UNDER an hour--I had changed her just before loading up to head to Jena and right after. In that short time, the guts of the diaper were stuck all over her little butt--those little gel capsule thingys that are supposed to stay BENEATH the outermost layers and soak up all the fun stuff.

Perhaps this is WHY they had so many coupons for these suckers...

And WHY do I continually go against what I swore I would never do again?? (see blog on Sears Portrait Studio). I should realize that if I made a statement as strong as swearing off something FOREVER, then it was with good reason.

You've had your second chance, Huggies. You and Sears Portait Studio can kiss Audrey's little gel-capsuled butt.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Adventures in Potty Training--to be continued

I'm sad to say that our little tryst down Potty Trained Lane has now come to a stop. At least, temporarily... Supposedly no kid ever goes to their senior prom wearing a diaper. Of course, this child is particularly bull-headed, so she may wind up sporting Pampers under her gown.

All of a sudden, Amber just decided she wasn't doing it anymore. She would cry when you put her on the potty. She started going in her pull-up and making no attempt to stop herself to make it to the bathroom. And, she started "holding it in" for hours on end, and that's what really made me decide to back off.

Oh, but that was a trying decision... the child could do it IF she wanted to. Perfectly capable. And perfectly stubborn.

I read online that kids will sometimes do this as a means of exerting control over something in their lives. She's just started school this week and we have really been riding her behind about her behavior lately, so it sounds like this could be a likely cause for her sudden lack of interest. And you KNOW I wasn't slacking off on the M&Ms, but even they couldn't work their chocolately magic on this beast.

But on the upside--I don't have to worry about trying to get her to potty before we leave for school (as she is a grumpy, uncooperative little imp in the morning.) Also, I'm hoping we can get some of her other "new" little behaviors in check--biting, throwing, hitting, pushing--all the pleasantries. She really is a good kid majority of the time--but what a temper!!!!

Now, if I'm still changing a diaper this time next year, we'll be going a different route... but I'm still holding out that one morning she'll just decide she wants to do it, and that will be that. In typical Amber Claire fashion, she'll be doing it when SHE wants to do it and on no one else's timetable!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Adventures in Potty Training Part Two

In the last few weeks, we're really made a lot of headway on the potty training front. I can say with about 95% confidence that we are #1 trained, and that went pretty smoothly. The only problem we sometimes run into here is that my brick-headed child will sometimes refuse to go for long stretches of time when she's either "too busy" or too crabby to stop to take care of business. She doesn't go in the pullup, though... she just won't go. Thankfully, even that has gotten better recently.

However, we're still waiting to get #2 on board... I can't wait to be able to use the big girl panties and ditch the pullups. I tried to force the issue, but after having to clean a few pairs of the panties, you can forget that. Pullups it is...

And for some reason, Amber got stuck on "5 M&Ms" as the reward. They all need to be counted out in her hand and she shoves them all in her mouth at once like a shot of tequila. And don't you dare give her anything other than 5... even if you're trying to give her MORE, she gets mad and holds to her 5. Five sounds good to me--NOOOO problem!

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Amber

After reading an article written by a friend, I was able to identify the perfect description of my Amber's seemingly split personality--Jekyll and Hyde. Even when she was really young, I used to jokingly call her my "bipolar baby," as she seemed to have periods of being fun, loving and obedient which would quickly crash down into tantrums, screaming and misbehavior.

I swear sometimes it's as if something possesses her whenever we go out into public. And I'm sure people think "Oh SURE she only acts like this in public. I bet that kid's a real troll at home..." But honestly, she seems to do a 180 whenever we go somewhere!

Take this morning for instance... she woke up unusually early, but was in a surprisingly good mood. She actually ran up to me and hugged me saying "I love you, mama!" when I opened up her bedroom door. She was pleasant and polite all morning, passing out the "thank you, mama"s and "excuse me"s in a sweet little voice... I could have just eaten her up!

But THEN I put her in the car, and the transformation began. By the time we'd reached the splash pad, she was in full-on scream mode. Over the course of that late morning, she had innumerable screaming fits, pushed a few kids, kept taking her bathing suit off, and ran away from me twice. The second time around, she actually ran OUT of the park into the parking lot and one of the other moms had to chase her down because I was up to my elbows in a dirty diaper. Oh, if ever there was a time I was ready to drop her off at an orphanage...

So we loaded her back up in the car and headed home, and she transformed again--sweet and loving Amber was back. She even stayed calm when Audrey climbed into her bed and started playing with her stuff--a rarity around here.

I just don't understand it... but I can almost guarantee that leaving the house means arriving at our destination in meltdown mode. I know these first few weeks of 2-day preschool are going to probably be rough--particularly on her teacher. But I'm hoping it will help her to be able to "go with the flow" a little better and be less dependent on me!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Adventures in Potty Training Part One

In the last week I've decided to make a valiant attempt at potty training Amber Claire. Notice I've entitled this entry "Part 1." This ensures that there will be a 2nd part, and very likely many more with this brick-headed child.

I kept waiting to start with the potty till she showed all those infamous "signs" I read about on the internet. She showed most of them quite some time ago, but that first attempt was a total flop. After about 2 days, when I'd ask if she needed to go, she'd slam the lid down on the potty and scream "NOOOOO" at the top of her lungs.

And so we begin again. However, I'm not sure who's really getting potty trained here--me or her. I'm the one who keeps popping up every so often to put her little fanny on the pot, and she's done well (I'll spare details). BUT, she has yet to tell me on her OWN that she needs to go BEFOREHAND. Am I dreaming to think she might just walk up and say "I need to go" or better yet, just go in there herself?? Maybe if I wait till she's 13...

You can't just ASK her if she needs to go--according to her, she never has to go. But my favorite part might be what she does when you ask--She holds up her fingers and says "In 3 minutes, mom." And when I ask again 3 minutes later, she gives me the fingers again.

She's very big into the number 3 right now, and counting in particular. But she hasn't yet grasped the concept of higher numbers meaning MORE of something--like that 10 apples are way more than 2. She just LIKES certain numbers better than others. I know this will be short-lived, but I can enjoy it for the time being.

ME: Amber, what a good girl for going on the potty! Would you like 5 mini-M&Ms? (My bribe of choice)

AMBER: No, mom. THREE! (with big smile on her face.)

ME: OK, then. If you insist! (With even bigger smile on my face)

Poor kid! I know this will be short-lived, but I can enjoy it for the time being.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Excuses, excuses

It amazes me time and again how these little creatures (my children) are seemingly born with the ability to manipulate. I sure hope that's the case, anyway--...I really they aren't picking up on something they see me doing, because I never thought of myself as manipulative.. but I digress..

The majority of Amber's manipulation tactics are centered around her not wanting to sleep. We tried not making her nap midday, but that did not work. The child NEEDS a nap to make it through... but she's going down swinging.

She used to use excuses like "I want socks" or "I want juice." There's also a list of stuffed creatures she has to sleep with, and don't you DARE forget one because she will notice and begin screaming for it when you leave the room!!

Now she's really figured out how to get our attention, using excuses such as "My belly hurts" or "I'm so hungry" or "I need a new diaper." She'll also play the super-responsible kid card--"I have to brush my teeth." She never was a fan of tooth brushing before, but if it means putting off bedtime by 2 minutes, it's well worth it!

None of those excuses have really been working out for her, then, so I can't WAIT to see what she'll come up with next!


So you know it's not going to be a great day when you wake up and your child's car seat is covered with ants... (I should add Mistake #4 to the previous post, which would be that I left the seat I had hosed snowball off of the night before in the driveway overnight)

But we had a doctor's appointment and I was prepared. We had snacks, juice, toys.. anything and everything to pass the dreaded hours of waiting. And we ACTUALLY got out of there in ONE HOUR! A MIRACLE!!

So we headed to Chick-Fil-A to meet up with the MOMS Club... I decided to just grab the essentials--kids and diaper bag and one credit card. I had one kid under each arm, and since I didn't want to waste time digging in the bag to find my keys, I just locked my car by hand. WHICH I NEVER EVER DO AND WILL NEVER DO AGAIN. Because, as luck would have it, I had NOT put my keys in the diaper bag as I thought I had, but instead left them next to the infant car seat.

Of course, I didn't discover this mistake until Audrey was way past tired and I tried to load them up to go home. So, Audrey is screaming, Amber is screaming because she didn't want to leave the play area, and I am dumping out the contents of the diaper bag on a table--and that sucker was packed from the dr. appt. Then I have Chick-fil-A employees looking to see if anyone turned them in, and I spotted them on the seat in the car.

So I call Jay--he just got to a patient's house in Pollock, and would be on his way to save us--after he stopped home to get the extra key. So 1 hr. and 20 minutes later, our knight-in-shining-Corolla came to our rescue.

And did I forget to mention the other "fun" aspect of this adventure? That my credit card was not working? So not only were we stuck in Chick-fil-A for 2.5 hours, but I had no means to buy anyone lunch. Thankfully, we were mercifully donated a kids' meal toy to trade in for ice cream to kill some time. (Thanks to Laura and Marci for that!)

Except the ice cream cone fell on the floor. Well, I scooped it up, and I scraped off the entire outer layer to hopefully get all the dirt off, and I let them eat it anyway. I know I must have looked like a crazy woman, but I was desperate at this point.

I guess I'll be out of the running again for that mother-of-the-year award. Maybe in 2011...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lesson leared at the snowball stand

I've spent my whole life in Louisiana, so snowballs are no where near a new thing for me. HOWEVER, snowballs + babies is a whole different ball game and we made a lot of rookie mistakes...

Mistake #1--we let the dogs take a ride with us. They were really in the way for what transpired next.

Mistake #2--I ordered Amber a strawberry snowball. All kids like strawberry, right? Well, I should have chosen a lighter-colored flavor for the sake of my laundry...

Mistake #3--I gave Amber the whole snowball to eat while in her carseat. I knew it was hot, but I never figured that sucker would melt down quite so fast. And of course, when it melted and dripped, she freaked out and squeezed the cup. Which of course led to red snowball sloshing out into her lap, in her diaper, all over her clothes... She looked like a vampire right after a fresh kill.

But on the up side, both girls LOVED the snowballs, and the carseats needed a cleaning anyway... we ended up stripping Amber down and letting her just enjoy the rest on the back deck, and let the red syrup drip where it may!

Here's a little pic of my mini-vampire... Bram Stoker would be proud.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bathed in sweetness

So tonight I got everything all wrapped up so I could slip away and take a hot bubble bath and catch up on the book that's due back the library on Wednesday...

I get all cozy in there, read about half a page, and Amber Claire bursts in, wearing nothing but a diaper and a smile. Cute, but I didn't want cute--I wanted peace. I told her to "go play" and "go find Daddy" but she never left for long.

And then she did the cutest thing!!! She reached over and scooped up some bubbles out of my tub, "lathered" them between her little hands, and started to bathe me. She got my arms, shoulders, back, and neck--basically what she could reach from her side of the tub. I just put down my book and let her go. She just kept on going, washing her mama with her little bubbly baby hands. It was so sweet! She even got a little empty bottle to fill with water so she could "rinse" me off.

Though I was ready to start hollering for Daddy to come get her away from me and give me my break, I'm so glad that I didn't this one time. Every now and then Amber does something so sweet and it makes me realize what a little angel she is. Just a genuine little act of love--melted my heart!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Picture This, Sears

So after Amber took her 18-month pictures, I swore up and down that I would never go back to Sears for pictures. I can't remember exactly why I did this, but I surely wish I had stuck to my guns...

But it was Audrey's first birthday, and I wanted to get a picture of her with the big number "1" like we had for Amber--and of course, only Sears had the big "1," so Sears it was. I had visions of my two cuties side-by-side in matching frames with matching "1"s in their pictures. Well, that dream sunk like the Titanic yesterday.

Now, I can say honestly that these ladies were much friendlier than the sort they had in there 2 years ago. However, they apparently hadn't photographed many children at this age level. The girls taking the pictures couldn't seem to get her finger to push the button fast enough. She kept muttering "oh, she's so fast," and "she's really active" and things like that. Well no fooling. She's 1. How many 1-year-olds do you know will sit still and pose while you get your act together? By the end, I was ready to push her out the way and do it myself. I realize you have to learn what you're doing, but at some point, I think we needed someone a little more skilled in there.

And then they had two experience "helpers" in there with the newbie. This, plus myself and Jay and Amber made for too many people making too many faces and noises at poor little Audrey. Now, that sweet-natured thing didn't cry, but she had the most confused look on her little face. And Lord knows that kid is a natural smiler--she takes a fabulous picture at home. But with all that shenanigans, she was not having it.

Anyhoo, fast forward about an hour while we waited for them to doctor up the photos and give you all those "enhanced" options. Newsflash, ladies: I'm not paying an extra $15 per sheet for black and white or fuzzy borders.

I had my coupon package, not realizing that the package ain't what it used to be. But I'll get 16 of those great miniprints, which will be fabulous for absolutely nothing. What DO you do with those anyway??

And one particularly perky woman (who was wearing a bow on her head like you'd see on a kindergartener) kept trying to sell me "great deals" like a $299.00 cd of the pictures or a $119.00 photo collage. I mean, really... who buys that stuff?? NOT ME!! But I can tell you what you can do with that bow...

I think the kicker was that every sheet we ordered was $20 apiece. And WHY so much? Because it was Friday. Seriously. They'd be $10 apiece if it was Mon-Thurs. And we didn't even GET the stupid "1" pictures because they were so horrible!! ARGH!!!

And so went my last Sears Portrait Studio experience. And I really mean it this time!!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

I-scream for moments like these

Remember the old little ditty "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!"

Well, generally, shopping trips with the girls pretty much entail the first half of that--we're all screaming by the end. Oh, heck... someone's screaming from the moment we get into the hot car. May not be the same party the whole trip, but it seems like someone's always fussing...

Anyway, today's little excursion was to Sam's, which is great because they have that little cafe thingy. I'm not above using a little bribe to make my shopping trip less painful. I call that 97-cent ice cream in a cup money well spent to preserve my sanity.

So we get through the store with both girls sitting in the front of the basket (which was so cute just in itself) so we get the promised ice cream in a cup. Amber's licking it as fast as she can, while little Audrey just looks at her with sad eyes. I get a spoon to give her a taste saying "Amber, can Audrey have a little taste please?" And before I could dip the spoon, Amber was holding her ice cream out for Audrey to have a taste. Oh, if only I had a camera ready to shoot at that moment!! Here was my "big girl" holding out her prized ice cream while little sister took a baby bite off the side. It's this kind of moment I hope I never forget--the kind I'll remember fondly when these two are teenagers who are at each other's throats one day in the distant future!

These little moments where the girls get along so well and Amber shares so willingly with her sister are what carry me through the oh-so-many moments of fighting, shoving, and whining... if only we could have them more frequently!

Just the beginning...

As time marches on, I find myself frequently feeling that infamous "mommy guilt" over not recording my children's little moments... I get so caught up in the "now" and think "Oh, I'll remember that," only to discover months later that I have NO CLUE when something happened. For instance, when dusting off the baby book the other day, I realized I hadn't written down when Audrey first started waving "bye bye." (Critical life-shattering development, I know). I couldn't even make a ballpark guess. Was it two months ago when Jay and I went on our trip and she waved as we left? Or was it five months ago? Not that it's a big deal... but that's just a sample of what I feel I've neglected to write down and now can't remember. Not to mention the sweet little day-to-day joys (and terrors) that I'd like to look back on to remember and hopefully, laugh about. Now, I've been notorious about not keeping up with journaling, but I have come to accept that I am just not a pen-and-paper kind of a girl. My mind is overflowing with ideas, and my time is limited, so making chicken scratch on a piece of paper is annoyingly slow for me.

And the strange this is---I often think of my life in terms of a journal post... Something will happen and I'll imagine how I would describe it in my own words at my keyboard. I actually hear it in my head like I was reading it out of a book, and yet, that step gets lost somehow. I solemnly swear from here on out to try to record the ups and downs of everyday life with 2 silly little girls. And I hope not to forget about this a week from now. Well, at least that's the plan....