Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day Nine: Shower Pee

It's 10:45 pm and I think the following situation is all I have the energy to share.

Tonight I turned around to see Aiden standing outside my walk-in shower, attempting to pee into the shower, but mostly hitting the bathroom floor and Stella's bathtub seat which I set on the floor of the shower to dry.  Oh Good Lord.

I can't hep but wonder how my five year old thinks this is ok?  He was so amused by it too. He was giggling.

Turns out he misunderstood a discussion we previously had about peeing in the shower drain if needed. I barely remember this conversations, but apparently some key points about needing to already be in the shower and needing it be an actual emergency were left out. 

I can't possibly always think of every aspect of a situation I need to explain to him.  It would have never entered my mind to state that it isn't ok to stand outside the shower and just point your penis toward the stall, just because you thought it looked more fun than the toilet.

The good news is though that this situaton was very much like one in my new behavior book (except that was a little girl that colored on the wall with a crayon, not a boy urinating randomly in another location of the house) and I follwed the book's guidance completely.  Apparently I am an amazing mother....more or less.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day Eight: Gym...Here I Come!

It's a big week for the Dadidakis Family.  In three days I turn 34 years old (pretty sure no one in the Dadidakis family cares, though I did hear Aiden and Cole discussing my birthday presents in the bathtub and let's just say I am not excited,) and Stella turns six months. Honestly it is a much bigger deal that Stella is turning six months than the fact that I have a birthday, but this year I am ok with that. Next year I refuse to celebrate her 18 month birthday instead of my 35th, but we'll work on that next year.  This year I am all about her six month celebration.  We will be celebrating it at 24 Hour Fitness.

I know, you are wondering if I think Stella is overweight and needs to work out? Do I think Stella could be a trainer and we could finally have a child that contributes to the financial health of this family?  Am I interested in feeding her the protein fuel powder rather than formula? I wonder if that would be cheaper?

No people, 24 Hour Fitness just offers a fantastic childcare option as soon as your child turns 6 months. This is huge! I can drop off all my children for up to 2 hours a day while I workout. My $30 per month membership offers 2 hours a day, six days a week....an amazing 48 child free hours a month potential.  Oh sweet freedom! 

A little over a year ago I was going to the gym regularly.  The boys loved the play area and I loved the time to workout, shower and be alone.  I would meet friends for Pilate's classes or time my gym visit to coordinate with the air time of my favorite morning talk shows.  Even if I didn't feel like working out I could sit on the bike with a magazine or walk on the treadmill while watching TV or listening to my favorite hip hop music with explicit lyrics...without my children,.   (See what a good Mom I am?  I don't even let my kids listen to Dr. Dre, Kanye West or Eminem!)   Anyway, I could take a shower, dress and even put on makeup without anyone interrupting me....well, there were several naked women that made me very uncomfortable in the locker room, and that made my relaxing time a little more stressful, but I'll take an overweight naked woman's boobs next to me instead of two whining kids any day. (Has anyone else ever noticed that the women that are the most free with their nakedness are the ones that you most wish would throw on a towel or something?  What is going on with that?)

Oh yes, and there is that added benefit of me getting to exercise.  I am really a much better person all around when I am working out.  Endorphins and mostly time away from my children make me very happy.  It probably would help to firm everything up also.  I have had three children now....nothing is where it used to be.  Could there be some exercise for making my boobs not sag so much or evening them out?  I'll be sure to ask the front desk on day one, give the person working the membership sign in something to talk about with his or her friends. I will probably have to start wearing depends for all gym trips due to my inability to control my bladder when I have any sudden movement.  It will be worth it though! 

So come Thursday, you can wish me and Stella happy birthday and wish me happy 2 hours of freedom!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day Seven: Discipline

My favorite line from a horrible movie I watched last night was, "having kids is like getting a tattoo on your face, you have to be fully committed." It really has nothing to do with what I'm about to write, but I loved that line. 

As noted in my recent blog about the boys' fighting, we've had some behavior issues around here lately.  I swear I am expecting to see Aiden roll out of his room soon with his arm wrapped around a girl, a pack of smokes rolled in his shirt sleeve, and a new skull tattoo on his arm.  He's even started lying.  Cole has perfected the art of the whine.  He can make up an injury of either physical or emotional nature at the drop of the hat and try to use it to work us. We're in a bad spot.

Thankfully, I have finally made progress on reading some of my latest child behavior book.  I have managed to find time in between breaking up fights and explaining Santa to study the latest in my string of behavior concept books.  I feel that we are at a critical point with the boys' behavior and we need to make a change. This happens every 6-9 months or so. We hit a point where one or both of the boys seem to be so out of control in their behavior that I buy a new behavior book, read it, attempt to implement all or most of what it says, feel totally overwhelmed by the implementation and somehow things get better anyway and we all go on about our business. 

But, I feel this time is different...which is how I usually feel, so we'll see, but I really like this book.  I spent most of the morning pouring over this book that has been recommended to me by multiple parents.  It is all about recognizing your child's feelings and making your children recognize what they are supposed to do by supporting their self esteem.  It completely speaks to the therapist I have always wanted to become...and completely challenges the easy to frustrate and get all crazy Mom I can be when my children are behaving poorly.  It is one of those parenting books that when I read it, I feel like I have been failing my children for the past 5 years.  I also feel a panic to change my discipline and the way I talk to my children.  So after briefing Alex on the general idea of the book (so far, I only got through 3 chapters, but I believe in implementing as I learn,) I decided to try out my new technique.

We were in the middle of a huge toy cleaning, trying to get rid of the excess my children view as normal before Santa brings more of it. Cole was asked to clean up the instruments from his dr.'s kit.  Cole refused and continued to play in his own world.  Because I was tyring so hard to focus on the steps outlined in the book it took Alex and me about 5 minutes to try to talk to Cole again.  (I only read three chapters and I can't even keep that information in my head.) As I was racking my brain for the next move in motivating my 3 year old to stop telling me it makes him feel sad when I ask him to clean up, it appears my child is already in touch with his inner emotions and it is working against me, I had to fight my desire to threaten him with a timeout and a spanking. We have now pathetically posted the steps we are supposed to try in discussions with our children in strategic locations in our house.  My brain has become so fuzzy that I become overwhelmed when trying to talk to my children about what needs to be done.  I need cue cards to train me how to speak to them.  This is ridiculous. 

I foresee my future discussions with my children interrupted by long pauses where I study these pieces of paper on the wall. If nothing else, perhaps my odd behavior will cause Aiden and Cole to startle into cooperation.  Perhaps they will feel so sorry for me in my confused state that they will try to help me rather than continue to ignore my requests.  Honestly, whatever works.  I can pretend to be confused for a long time...and I probably won't have to pretend very often.

I like this approach though.  I'm not comfortable spanking my children. One book I read describes spanking as an adult tantrum.  Several articles I've read talk about the affect of spanking on your child's future aggression or how they teach you to fear them rather than becoming capable of making rational decisions on their own.  I cling to these because I agree with them for no other reason than that's what I feel.  I have only spanked my kids when I am boiling or I feel desperate and that just doesn't work for me. The truth is, discipline is like sleep training, you can find a book that says whatever you want to hear.

So now I am off to read another chapter  and pray that my feeble brain can tackle at least one or two productive discussions with my 3 and 5 year old kids tomorrow with having to look at my notes.  If all else fails I still have that miniature elf sitting in my house that is apparently supposed to scare my children into behaving well for Santa for the next 30 days or so.  Too bad we had several instances where Aiden freaked out on Cole for misbehaving in front of the elf and Cole continued to threaten to beat the elf before it eats him.  We have a lot of work to do....me and the elf.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day Six: Exhaustion

I'm tired everyone.  I know I promised an entry a day for 14, but currently I'm a little worried about what I
am going to type.  I might reveal secrets that I am not even aware that I have.  I'm pretty positive I will type something that simply does not make sense.  This will be brief.

We just returned from our holiday travels and after 3 hours in the car with the boys and a day of unpacking, grocery shopping and everyday life, I am ready to fall into bed.  To top off the day we have decided to work on Stella's sleep training again tonight.  She is currently working on her 10 minute crying session before I can walk in again for 2 seconds and make sure she isn't going to explode.  This is painful.

Distraction...we are starting that fun little Elf On The Shelf tradition with the boys tonight.  If you haven't heard of it, there is a story book about how an elf comes to your house to observe how the kids behave and report back to Santa.  We have to put the elf in a new location each night for the kids to find in the morning.  The rules are that they can never touch the elf or he loses his magic.  Tonight we read the book to the boys explaining how it would work...making a few mistakes in the process.

First, we told them we had a surprise for them after their baths.   Usually a surprise around here is a treat of some kind.  The boys were very disappointed to realize that the surprise was that we were reading them a book...we read at least 2 every night.  Cole was particularly devastated and not at all happy about the book.  Then, we got his attention by telling him an elf was coming to our house in the morning.  He immediately said that he would get a sword and hit the elf so it wouldn't eat him.  So, now he's scared of the elf coming to get him.  We tried to reassure him that Santa's helper will not try to eat him, nor does he require Cole to fight him, he comes in peace.  Now, Alex just put the little elf on one of the beams near where I am sitting and it is totally creepy.  I'm not sure I'll last the holiday season with this thing.  The entertaining part should come in the morning when the boys have to name the elf. Should be a good fight.

Alex just went back in to check on Stella.  Changing her diaper.  So much screaming. Killing me.  

More distraction...just watched a good movie, well at least it was an entertaining movie, with Alex.  500 Days of Summer.  We started with Eat, Pray, Love and couldn't make it past Julia Roberts consuming massive amounts of pasta in Italy.  I don't need to watch that.  I loved that book.  It kept me sane after Cole was born, but the movie didn't inspire me at all.  Good Lord, why won't she stop crying?

Can't do it tonight people.  I'm checking out with this brief blog entry to try to try to shower and fall asleep before Stella starts crying again.  Wait, just started again.  This might be a rough one.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day Five: Brotherly Love...Might Kill Me

I adore each of my children individually.  It is so fun to take one of them at a time to do something. Even an ordinary task like the grocery store is fun with just one. (Ok, fun is a little bit of a stretch, but I don't get out much so it's pretty much as good as it gets.)  I can listen to what they are trying to say to me without any interruption.  I can find out what they are thinking without being guided by their sibling.  I feel peaceful when it is just the two of us. 

Unfortuately, individual time is difficult to arrange.  They normally come as a package deal and the boys are driving one another crazy, which makes me nuts.  No, let me rephrase.  It makes me feel like my blood is boiling and I need to scream or punch a pillow or take a shot of Jack Daniels.  It is very, very frustrating for me. They are anything but peaceful to be around together lately.  I think I am going to have to give one of the boys away if I hear another fight over whether or not something like "zork" is a word or whether or not any tree with lights on it can be called a Christmas Tree....that is actually a semi-interesting question (remember my limited social life) but not fun to talk about with Aiden and Cole.

They actually can fight over anything, but Aiden telling Cole that he is wrong, or not doing as Aiden is telling him to do, are the two most common strings of disagreements.  Aiden will ask Cole to stop making any sound because it is breaking his concentration.  (I'm not sure what Aiden is doing that requires so much concentrated brain power, but he is very serious about this being a problem.  Mostly I think Aiden is trying to remember and sing all the words to "American Pie," which he calls, "Make the People Dance.")  When Cole refuses to stop, Aiden will threaten to hit him. Cole doesn't stop.  Aiden hits him. Cole screams. Aiden causally explains that he had warned Cole that he was going to hit him.  (I'm really regretting the spanking thing with Aiden.)  Aiden also just enjoys refuting anything Cole says, which is equally annoying.  If Cole says there are lasers on the building out the car window and Aiden says there are not...fighting.

Aiden wants everything to be orderly and make sense.  He likes to call everything by it's proper name, he likes to know the facts about things so he knows the limits of what everything is capable of doing.  He is logical.  Cole is silly.  He can tell a story for 20 minutes about Batman coming into the manager and punching baby Jesus and then all the ducks told God that they needed help to get their trucks off of the rainbow.  This story would have Aiden practically in tears.  Batman couldn't punch baby Jesus because he lives at Wayne Manor, way after when Jesus was a baby.  Ducks don't talk or drive trucks.  You can't put a truck on a rainbow!!!!  And Cole would be dying laughing the whole time singing a song about the penis pocket on his underpants.

Honestly, Aiden annoys me more than Cole in these situations, which only amplifies my difficulty in handling this well  Cole definitely plays up (fakes) his pain when Aiden hits him and thoroughly enjoys watching how uncomfortable Aiden is when he says something that Aiden doesn't agree with, but he at least keeps us laughing.  I feel so badly for Aiden because he takes everything so seriously.  He can be silly and has a good time with imaginative things, but only in the proper situations and definitely not if he is at all tired.  Cole cracks me up.  Batman and baby Jesus?  Where does he get this stuff? 

I honestly can't handle it anymore.  Intervention is required.  I am really wishing I had made more time in the last two weeks to read the parenting books I just got on how to talk to your kids and sibling rivalry.  I just informed Alex that we are pulling an all-nighter tonight to get through these books.  Each reading one and then relaying to the other what we learned.  He, surprisingly, is not responding to this idea at all.  I'm pretty sure he preferred my frantic request earlier for him to pull the car over during their laser beam fight and beat the crap out of them both.  (We did not actually do this, but we should actually record one of these fights to have as our defense if we actually ever do go crazy and become so mentally unstable that we leave them on the side of the road or something.  I'll try to remember that for tomorrow.)

I don't know know what to say to either of them anymore.  Recently both are going into timeout when a fight occurs and we don't discuss what happened because I am afraid of getting sucked into a debate about whether or not someone could fit through an a/c vent or if Santa could come over for lunch.  I do not want to take part in that because I find myself talking about the dimensions of vents and how small a person with the physical capabilities to maneuver through a vent would need to be.

For now, I guess I will start reading those books.  I read the first two pages of the Sibling Rivalry book while hiding in my bathroom last week and listening to the boys fight over a lego truck.  Believe it or not I did not learn enough in those pages to heal anything in our house.  I periodically try to bring Stella into the mix because they both love to talk to her and every so often the fact that she is the cutest baby to ever live distracts them from their idiocy...but normal they don't care about her and continue their fight while she kicks, giggles and drools around them. Maybe I should start doing that?

I probably should stop typing about how I have no clue how to handle them and go read.  Ok, by tomorrow I will be much smarter on this subject and soon I will probably be able to cease their fighting with a simple hand gesture, or a building laser, or a midget that fits in an a/c vent.  Ok, clearly I need the book.  Let me know if you want to talk about whether or not any tree with lights is a Christmas tree...or take me out to do something fun so I don't think that this question sounds interesting anymore.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day Four: Thanksgiving

OK, overall I think I have done a fantastic job today keeping a positive attitude.  I have also done a fantastic job of staying away from my kids.  The power of my positive thinking is only as strong as my distance from my kids.   I did waiver during a few meltdowns and my exhaustion at the end of this evening really started wearing me down, but I pushed through and I think I did an excellent job.

The boys slept until 7:15 am today, which is truly a Thanksgiving miracle. Stella did not buy into the idea of celebrating the holiday with extra sleep and decided to wake up her usual two times, (did I ever mention that after those two nights of sleeping all night she reverted to her old habits...I see sleep training in my future again.)  Alex went to the grocery store for me, brought me Starbucks (a very big deal since the idea of paying $5 for a drink makes him want to vomit) and I even got to lie down for 45 minutes and read a book during rest time. Insanity.

The actual holiday at my sister-in-law's house was wonderful.  As usual, everyone prepared an array of amazing and delicious dishes which were very fun to eat.  I very intelligently wore my spandex jeggings so I would not be constrained and yes, I did look a little bit like I could be heading out to go clubbing after dessert, but what's Thanksgiving if not an excuse to wear the clothing I love but feel like an idiot wearing other times?  It's about gratitude and family and traditions?  No, clothing you want to wear.

The kids were all more or less one giant chaotic mess of joy and tears, but overall great.  Ok, Cole did spend the entire evening alternating between a whine and a full on cry until he was served a medley of pies and some cupcake thing that looked like a pilgrim, but after that he was happy.  Next year I think I am going to just start the boys off with a piece of pie so we can get straight to the joy.  I'm not actually going to withhold dessert if they don't eat that brussel sprout their aunt keeps making (which I find delicious, but to a kid is a VERY scary vegetable) so why not just skip the act?

As I put Aiden and Cole to bed tonight I was reminded that I have much to be thankful for right now.  The two of them are sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags, right next to one another.  Their mini bags and their joy at sleeping in a zippered blanket are just too cute.  Stella in her pack n play, sleeping with her fuzzy blanket square covering her entire head is adorable. (Except for my constant, periodic panic that she can't breathe and someday she'll suffocate doing something I think looks cute and that would just suck.) And even though I'm a little annoyed at my husband for staying to watch a football game instead of coming home with me, (I fully admit there is no reason for my annoyance and he should probably be annoyed at me for being annoyed...seriously, why does he like me, I sound ridiculous?) I am extremely thankful to have him. 

I can't ask for much more. Now on to Christmas celebrations...prepare for much discussion about my dread of our 22 hour car ride to Indiana for that holiday.  For now though, sleeping children and a well maintained positive attitude are present and I am feeling good.  Maybe I'll try to keep up the attitude all weekend?  But...I already admitted I'm annoyed with Alex for watching a football game, clearly I already need attitude assistance. 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day Three: The Holiday Begins

Thanksgiving used to mark the beginning of the holiday season in which I most cherished spending time with friends and family and celebrating and visiting with people that I don't often see as much as I would like.  I would look forward to traveling out of town to get away from our routine and just relax.  I loved the parties and long meals and lots of wine. Starting about five years ago though, that all changed.

I still enjoy seeing our families and friends, but I constantly find myself weighed down with the anxiety of all the craziness that accompanies this time of year with my children.  There is a string of sugar overload from Halloween to New Year's.  Bedtime is perpetual disrupted and exhaustion presents itself in the form of tantrums and tears from everyone.  And nothing feels "normal" until the second week of January. What am I celebrating again? 

Around 10 am this morning this year's holiday season began. We packed up our three kids and endless bags of junk we apparently can't live without, hopped in our minivan (with a newly cracked windshield to add to it's scratched back end charm...hooray!) and headed to Houston to spend 3 days with Alex's family. 

Fortunately, I love Alex's family so they aren't a problem thankfully, just me...I am the problem. 

It all starts with packing.  This task completely overwhelms me for three kids and myself.  I am horrible at deciding what we are all going to wear and need while away.  It is almost as if I believe that someone actually cares what I have on, or what my children are wearing....and we all know this just isn't true.  Every trip I say I am going to do better and every trip I take way too much stuff, stress over what I left at home and hate shifting through the excessive amounts of clothes to get dressed every day.  I need to hire someone to pack for me.  Does someone like this exist?

Once loaded with all our stuff I was determined to have a good attitude for this trip.  I have often found that changing my attitude can make a huge difference in how much I actually enjoy myself....but this is really hard for me.  I am very comfortable in my anxious dread. I usually stress myself out so much with the anticipation of the upcoming pain of the chaos of the celebrations, that the event is ruined before I have arrived.  I have a really difficult time relaxing and enjoying the time with everyone when my brain is constantly calculating the number of hours each child has slept and how and when I am going to be able to get them to rest.  When am I going to get to sleep so I can feel ok?  Oh, and I don't like large masses of children in one house and their are ten of them at the family gatherings. This is beyond overload for my weak emotions.  Who made all these people that are running around everywhere?  Why are they so loud?

Things started off well though.  The kids all did a fantastic job in the car.  Cole even eventually gave in to his exhaustion and slept for at least 30 minutes, a huge feat by itself for him during the day.  I became even more optimistic that this holiday could be fun for me.  We had a family photo at a park a few hours after we arrived and it was, well...fine, it was great. All the kids ran around and the weather was fantastic and I found myself having fun and thinking my kids looked really cute on the other side of the park playing with Alex.  Perhaps I should always watch them from this distance? 

Dinner at my mother in law's was great, as usual, and the chaos of the 10 kids didn't even bother me.  How is this possible? Did someone slip me something in my Starbucks earlier today?  This can't all be due to a good attitude.  Should I be spreading the word about the power of positive thinking? This must be a fluke. 

Bedtime, surely a breakdown.  Stella went to sleep without a problem, but that's nothing to get overly confident about because that is her norm.  And here it is...the boys have been getting out of their beds for the last hour and a half...and seriously testing my good attitude.  I am already fighting my need to compute their hours slept before the estimated time I feel they will wake up.  I am desperately hoping that the distraction of all their cousins will ward off too many exhaustion induced tantrums...or that I can drink enough wine and find a nice corner to sit and eat pumpkin pie so I don't have to deal with them.  I am really wondering how in the hell I am going to keep a good attitude up for the next 48 hours?  I might have an aneurysm from the exertion this is putting on my brain.  Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day Two: Tuesday

I can't so much as poop by myself, it is maddening.  It's things like using the restroom by yourself that you never know you are going to miss until after your kids have arrived, and suddenly someone is asking you where your penis went or why I get to use toilet paper if I just peed, that make you wonder how people do this all the time.   Tuesday is a school day though, which means it automatically is a better day.  Twice a week I drop the boys off at school and I get 5 hours of just Stella and me.  It is glorious.  The boys LOVE their school, their teachers, their friends, etc. and I adore the options this time gives me.

Five heavenly hours where the world is more or less mine. I started taking Aiden to Mother's Day Out when he was 10 months old and he has been enrolled in a program ever since.  I took Cole to a program from age 4 months to 8 months just so I could have some time to function each week.  I often hear people say they feel like they should wait until the kids are older and they can get something out of it but I am a huge advocate for what I get out of it.  Whether you have 1 kid or 5 (yikes!) having a 10 hour a week break can do wonders for the joy of Mommy. 

Today I should have just driven home and enjoyed the peace of my house, (I never knew how much I would love being in my own home without my kids,) but instead I went to the mall.  I was desperately seeking the perfect birthday present from my parents, to me.  This is an exhausting task because I am so excited to have some money to spend on me, without any guilt, that I spent hours roaming the mall and contemplating all the different options.  It was ridiculous and made me never want to go to the mall again. Did I say that?

The truth is that I don't need anything, except maybe some more time and they weren't selling that at the Gap today.  There was a strange man named Servino that handed me some make money from home DVD and told me he thought I would be a good candidate for his business.  I could make thousands of dollars from home and still take care of my kids!  No thanks Servino, I'm not cool with your pyramid scheme or even worse cyber sex business while I'm trying to raise my children.  A small part of me did feel pathetically flattered that Servino thought enough of me to stop me.  Maybe I should dig that DVD out of the back of the van?  Thousands of dollars....

Anyway, I don't really need anything.  Though my recent sorting through my winter clothes did reveal that most of my clothes have been purchased at Old Navy or Target and now are showing the signs of Mommy wear and tear.  I had a difficult time finding anything without a stain or at least a small tear in it.  Who am I kidding though, no one cares what I wear.  I spend forever trying to decide what to wear to drop my kids off at preschool because I feel like it is my twice a week opportunity to get dressed and actually be seen by someone.  I have plans to start wearing all my "fun" clothes that I never get an opportunity to put on, just so I can experience wearing them.  Please do not be alarmed if you see me dropping of Aiden and Cole and you think I look like I am heading out clubbing with Stella....I just want to get dressed and be out in the world.  But you should buy me a drink.

As my me time was ending today I was, as always, excited to see the boys and hear about their days.  But also, as always, within 5 minutes driving back to our house I wish that I had more me time.  The fighting between the boys is at an all time high recently, putting me at an all time high for anxiety around my boys.  Cole is a huge whiner and cries at everything these days. Aiden is bossy and argumentative about the most ridiculous things.  He was yelling so forcefully at Cole last night to finish his dinner that I had to pull him aside and ask him if anything was bothering him.  He was nuts about it and it made me a little sad.  I can't handle it.  Today, I immediately put them in separate rooms and went to pee, with Stella in tow of course.  Why can't the joy of the break last longer?  I want that refreshed, kid-free feeling to linger. I want to miss them a little more.  I want another 5 hours. Maybe I should call Servino and get hooked into his money making scheme?  Maybe I should take Stella clubbing after I drop the boys off next week?  Maybe Servino would like to meet us out with his thousands of dollars to spare?  Maybe I need a three day a week program?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday: Day 1

I recently read that if you are going to be a "blogger" then you should write something everyday.  I'm not sure I fully agree that this is a necessity, but I decided as a challenge to myself I would write every day for the next two weeks...even if it means that by day 8 I am filling you all in on things like the challenging and very real debate I have going on internally about whether or not to purchase a pair of black Ugg boots as a birthday gift to me from my parents.  (This is a serious struggle, though undeniably an extremely pathetic one.)

So, it's Monday and my daily writing challenge begins. I've been trying to write all day but something or someone keeps getting in the way, story of my child-filled life lately, constantly starving for me time.  I immediately thought about how I should have taken more advantage of the time over the weekend to collect my thoughts while Alex was here, but then I quickly revised my thinking.  Monday is better. As much as the idea of a Monday by itself should be an extra downer, I rather like the day.  I like Mondays.

I know most of you do not....I read your facebook status updates.  I used to loathe the day myself when I was working...outside the home.  (I hate to add the "outside the home" part, but I feel the constant need to defend what I do. I have issues.) I used to love the Friday after work feeling.  Freedom of two days without responsibilities and full of potential joy.  Movies, dining out, sleeping in late, shopping, laziness, or even the simple pleasure of completing a task at the house that had been on the to-do list for far too long.  Weekends meant a break.

Now, the weekend is much like the rest of the week, but with a husband periodically around.  There is no absence of responsibility, and though I suppose there is always potential joy, it certainly is not arriving in the same type of package.  I don't remember the last time the weekend meant the option for laziness.  There is definitely no sleeping in or even all night usually.  There isn't a break.  Oh wait...my husband does always watch the kids so I can spend an hour and a half grocery shopping.  What was I thinking about there not being a break? 

I know, you don't understand why I wouldn't be looking forward to Alex being home all weekend.  Well, I do like him home.  I would much prefer him home than not, but I would be lying if I said his presence doesn't, well....jack everything up. I need my routine.  I can't survive with my kids without our schedule, as loose as it sometimes may be.  I need structure to the day when it includes them or I go crazy.  Alex's presence adds this new dynamic that I have a very difficult time adjusting to on a normal weekend.  There are several reasons, in my mind, that this occurs.

First, we are horrible planners for the weekend.  I am very comfortable with my weekday activities.  I like my play dates, errands and trips to the preschool and park.  Though challenging to the point of tears sometimes, it is chaotically organized. On the weekend we are invariably without a plan of action. Alex likes to keep things loose and relaxed. This doesn't work with 3 kids, especially one that naps sometimes three times a day. By the time we decide we should go play miniature golf, it's every one's nap time or everyone has to eat again.  I completely understand his desire to keep things relaxed, he's been working all week and wants a break from the constant action.  Umm....me too, but it isn't happening.

Next, I always have a list of things I want to do and would like to accomplish.  Alex has done nothing but look forward to the weekend so he doesn't have to do anything.  These two things do not go well together and we still have not figured out how to productively talk about this. I swear we fight once a weekend over this ridiculous issue.  We do make up well.  Usually, Alex admits he's wrong and I gracefully acknowledge that I am in fact right again, a burden I must carry.  (Ok, it doesn't really go like that, but in my head it could and we would all be happier.  Well, except Alex maybe...but he gets to go to work.)

Finally, I set way too high of expectations for the potential of Alex's presence.  I daydream each Friday that Alex will surprise me with a sitter and a night out, or tell me to go get a massage and go shopping.  I long for him to tell me to go to Starbucks with my computer and write for an hour or two or go for a run and forget about our children.  None of this EVER happens.  None of this will EVER happen because I haven't told hm about it. He would probably be up for all of these things (though not him planning the sitter and dinner, he needs work in this category) but he certainly isn't going to tell me to do any of these things unless I tell him.  I always pride myself of not having expectations for things unsaid, but I do it every weekend, even if in a small way.  I feel like such an irrational and emotional girl...horrible.

Don't get me wrong, there are good times on the weekend quite frequently.  Yesterday we sat around as a family and watched The Swiss Family Robinson.  Alex even made the kids watch the scene where Father shows Mother around the tree house he built for her, twice because I missed it the first time because I was changing Stella's diaper and that's my favorite part.  (See, he can be very sweet. Now if I could just get him to build me a tree house....surely he inferred that I am expecting this from my reaction to that scene in the movie, right?)  It was a wonderful time and nothing could beat Aiden and Cole's pure joy, and extremely loud laughter, at the family fighting off the pirates.  These times are precious and wonderful, no doubt.

The truth is though, I usually feel more comfortable when Monday morning returns and we start over.  Things go back to the routine I am used to and I keep working to figure out how to do all of this more confidently, more efficiently and more happily.  It doesn't mean I'm happy to see Alex walk out the door on Monday morning, but since I can't go with him, I am content with being satisfied with a return to our routine.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

She Sleeps!

I credit Jessica Honegger.  (www.noondaycollection.com)  She told me to take charge of my daughter's sleep and a few days ago I did.  This morning was my second day to wake up after sleeping eight plus hours straight.  Is there anything more amazing as a mom of young children than several consecutive hours of sleep?  It changes everything. I can do anything.  I can be anything....even kind to my kids.
Other than adjusting to the overall shock of life being consumed by the care of a small human being, lack of sleep is the most challenging part of life with kids.  I never realized how much I took for granted being able to feel tired, decide to go lay down, and go to sleep.  Being able to rest for consecutive hours at night is priceless.

I can not fully describe the amount of energy and time I have spent dedicated to getting my children to sleep over the past 5 years. I have spent hours and hours reading books and articles on how to most successfully get your kids to sleep at night and keep them that way.  I have created all sorts of anxiety for myself over the disruption to our routine as it relates to sleep, the idea of messing up anything that is working brings me to tears.  I immediately panic about any activity planned during nap time or after bedtime.  I am easily sleep spooked and hope that I can fully recover from it by the time Stella is 5...or 20.

There is no faster way to bring out the rage in me than to jack with my children's sleep.  Just ask my father. When Aiden was about 1 year old, my dad went into the room where Aiden was asleep to kiss him goodnight, after I had explicitly told him not to, for fear of waking him up again after I had a particularly rough time getting Aiden to sleep.  My father disregarded my wishes and Aiden woke up screaming moments after he left his room.  I proceeded to march up to my father and cuss him out, something I had never done in my life.  Unfortunately this provided my father with all sorts of amusement rather than fear and he still brings up how I spouted off all sorts of four letter words at him....he finds is hilarious.  My boys are often the brunt of this rage when they wake Stella.  Cole has a new fascination with going into her room and climbing into her crib with her, regardless of whether she is awake or not.  He is headed for serious hurt from me if this continues.

The truth is though that the lack of sleep combined with the emotional toll of parenting is more than I can handle most of the time.  There are lots of theories about sleep, but I know what I am comfortable with and what I am not. It is not OK with me to only get a few hours of sleep for months on end. I can't handle sleeping in the bed with my children rather than my husband so that they will go to sleep.  I can't get up and rock them or sing to them every 3 hours so that I don't have to hear them cry.  I need my down time and most importantly I need my sleep.  So, even though Saturday night was rough.  I am sooooo grateful to that Jessica Honegger for reminding me that sleep can happen.  Two nights of sleeping all night and I might soon conquer the world....or at least not scream as much at my kids.  Oh happy day!  Let's see how night three goes. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Little On Edge

I blame Jessica Honegger. We all want someone to blame so I choose her.  She is one of the most amazing people that I know, making her extra influential on me.  (You can check out her latest feat in becoming the coolest person ever at http://www.noondaycollection.com/, but I am giving you fair warning that you might feel inspired and want to be a better person just due to this minimal contact with her.) And she told me I should let Stella cry it out at night.  So now, here I am on a Saturday night listening to my sweet little baby girl cry while I feel actual physical pain.  So I blame Jessica...not really, but it makes me feel a little better to say it isn't my fault.

I should be at a fantastic birthday party for my friend Sabra. (Shout out to another amazing woman I am honored to know.)  I should be celebrating her life in my skinny jeans, booties and fun eye makeup but instead I am in baggy sweats, bare feet and splotchy skin, going through a list of things that could be wrong with my baby while I let her scream.  (Mom, I do realize this upsets you so I will give you Jessica's phone number.  You don't even have to discuss it with me, she said it would be OK.)  Did she poop?  Is that rice cereal upsetting her stomach?  Did she eat too much?  Is she hungry?  Maybe that sleep sack is too small now and her feet are cramped....was there room for her feet when I put her in it 3 hours ago?  How fast do babies grow? I'm driving myself nuts. 

I keep trying to remind myself about how awesome life will be if Stella can start sleeping all night, at least most of the time.  Even if she just eats once a night, I can live with that.  I keep reassuring myself that babies all over the world cry to go to sleep.  I am thinking that there are probably crackhead moms that barely get up to feed their babies or even feel motivated to respond to a cry, so I'm clearly already doing a better job, right?  Or should I be mortified that I am justifying my behavior by saying it isn't as horrible as a crackhead mom's decisions?  Ugh....where is that peaceful sleeping baby from the diaper commercial?  Why isn't Jessica here?

The truth is, I've been through this before with two other babies and it was Jessica reminding me that sleep is too important to my sanity and general happiness to sacrifice unnecessarily, that put me here.  She lovingly told me it was time to get things back on track and the baby and I will be happier if I start helping her learn to sleep. 

There are lots of ways to handle sleep with your kids.  I've tried most of them.  I know though that now that she is almost 6 months, letting her cry is the only things that works for mine once they are waking several times at night to hang out with me. We are actually doing the gradual extinction (I know, I'm not hardcore) so I go in after 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc.  Each time I pat her leg and leave the room, praying she stops crying fast.  I can't just let her cry and not go in at all.  Besides, Dr. Ferber says this works too so I'm hoping it does.  

After Stella arrived I was convinced that I had finally been blessed with a good sleeper.  God's practical jokes, or perhaps lessons in patience and faith, that had been Aiden and Cole's sleep habits were over and now I was given an angel sleeper.  She quickly fell to sleep on her own, slept long stretches and even through the night (6-8 hours) several times during her first few months of life.  The last month or so though she has been waking up multiple times to eat at night and hang out with me.  I assume that as she has just gotten more aware of her surroundings and she realized that I am awesome.  This realization has made her desperate to spend as much time with me as possible, it's understanable.  But, if I am going to stay awesome, I need some rest. 

She still falls asleep on her own without any problems but the nights have turned brutal.  I have had a million excuses to not start some sleep training but it is now time. I realize that after these nights of training are over we will all be happier, but for now I want to vomit listening to her cry.  I am weak.  I am driving myself bonkers with second guessing, worrying from every angle possible.  She is my tiny little baby, my grand finale (let's hope) in people making, and I don't want her to be upset.  But I also don't want her to keep waking me up if she doesn't need to be up, because Mommy is not so awesome with so little sleep.

So for now I am angry at everyone, a ball of anxiety, and ready for a week from now when things are better, and my baby and I can live happily ever after.  Ok, going in again to pat her leg.  Wish me luck and pray for my husband as he takes the brunt of my emotional issues....they abound in situations like this.  Oh, and pray Stella goes to sleep! 

Ahhhh....Vacation

Shortly after Stella was born I became infatuated with the idea of taking a family vacation.  Alex and I had never taken even a weekend away with just us and the kids and I really felt like we needed it.  This sounds simple enough, but Alex does not like taking days off work and I am perpetually frightened of breaking routine with my children, so getting away for even a night sounded challenging. 

I was determined that we were going to have some family time away though so we started brainstorming options. I quickly decided we should fly to Cape Cod, rent a beach house, ride bikes on the beach and have long lobster dinners on the ocean while a nanny watched our children...I even had aspirations of buying Alex those JCrew pants with the lobsters all over them, so fun.  Alex quickly decided we should drive to Galveston, stay for free at our family friend's beach house, walk to the beach, and make dinners at the house while our children ran around our feet....he didn't even seem to care what kind of pants he wore.  Ugh. For some reason, Alex's decision won.

So last Friday, we packed up an insane amount of stuff for three days and drove south.  We got about an hour into the drive and decided to stop for lunch at an adorable little pizzeria and sandwich shop.  The restaurant became increasingly less adorable to Alex as we waited 30 minutes for our food while our kids whined and started to do fun things like crawling under the table and sprinkling salt all over.  Despite the fact that the food was delicious, Alex grabbed all our stuff as soon as lunch was over, set it on top of the van, loaded the kids in and peeled out of the parking lot, exasperated with the long stop in our journey.  As I heard my blackberry, the kids game and some other mystery object fly off the roof of the van and land in the middle of the highway I realized Alex was desperately in need of this vacation, and some sort of patience intervention. (Side note...though this was a tragic end to the life of my blackberry, I am now the proud owner of an iphone.  I'd like to thank my husband's lack of patience and the people of Giddings, TX that drove over the blackberry for making this possible.)

So with our contact to civilization slightly more severed we proceeded toward our family vacation of  fun. A mere 5.5 hours after leaving our house we walked into our 800 square foot retreat.  Cole and Aiden were overjoyed. Cole even declared that we didn't need our old house anymore and now we could live there.  Umm...800  square feet for the 5 of us, plus Indiana the dog, we'll be departing after the agreed upon two nights.

Ask anyone in my family, I am a neurotic nut with anxiety pouring out of me about any and all trips that include my kids.  I am not a fan of the vacation with kids. I despise the way they stay up later, wake one another in the middle of the night, and rise earlier in the morning than they even do at home. It is simply painful for me.  I have no escape from them as nap times are missed and our daily activities actually revolve around being together, yuck.  I usually feel even more trapped by my kids while traveling with them than I do at home. 

So,imagine my surprise though when I found myself actually feeling relaxed and....wait, even happy while preparing a spaghetti dinner with all three kids around my feet, a whole hour past bedtime on the first night.  Things were getting crazy, and I felt fine.  It was wonderful to not have the pile of laundry to be done staring at me at all times.  I didn't worry about the grocery list, the bank account (ok, usually just a fleeting thought anyway, but still, it wasn't a concern,) or what was on our schedule.  Alex had horrible cell reception and actually didn't take a work phone call the entire time we were at the beach house.  (There was about an hour conversation while we were in town.  Baby steps people, baby steps.) 

I stopped and enjoyed watching how sweet my children are...and how quickly they are growing up.  It was so great to be away from our routine and we didn't even have any sleep problems.  Well, we didn't have any more than usual.  Cole did try to move a ladder from under his bed in the middle of the first night and ended up trapping he and Aiden in their bedroom so that Aiden was up crying, trying to get out at four am....but that's just a normal night for us. 

We will definitely be booking another family vacation...I'll keep lobbying for Cape Cod with a nanny and I'm sure Alex will have us back in Galveston, but either way it sounds pretty good.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Homesick

I want to go home.  I am in a funk and that is the only thing that sounds good right now.  It is the only thing I can think of that would instantly cure my blues....besides winning the lottery which sounds like just a whole heap of fun, and I could probably then afford to go home and pay for a nanny to help get my three kids there alive. I'm not going home right now, but I have a whole list of wants running through my mind about why I want to be there and what I want to do.

I want to walk into my childhood home and have my father correct my grammar in the middle of a serious or sad story.  I want to sit in my parent's kitchen and eat cereal and look out their back window to watch Aiden and Cole play some random game with my Dad on their tennis court that has nothing to do with tennis.  I want to listen to my Mom coo and giggle at Stella while asking me mildly insulting questions about my parenting like, if I watch the boys when they are riding bikes in the street, or if I ever thought about serving vegetables at dinner. 

I want to walk through the woods and wear long sleeves and jeans because it's November and that's just what you are supposed to be able to do this time of a year unless you are on vacation or going through menopause with hot flashes.  I want to buy a Colts shirt for my boys and some sort of ridiculous onesie for Stella because they are easy to find there and impossible to find here. I want to see the leaves turn colors and fall all over the place and then have the boys jump in them without ever wondering if they should watch out for fire ants.

I want to call Alissa and meet her at Starbucks to talk about everything and nothing for a few hours and feel healed after a conversation with someone that's known and loved me forever.  I want hear Sara's laugh and think about all the times that sound made me feel better.  I want to confide in Julie and know that there won't be a moment of judgement or a chance of leaking my craziest thoughts to world to be made fun of at any time. I want dinner with Laura and Stephanie to remind me that I can do anything, that I'm a good Mom, but that more importantly, I'm still a good person.  I want to go out with all my sorority sisters and hear about their lives and remember how fun it was to live with them all and watch all of them turn into amazing women. I to run into someone from high school at Target and be taken back to 15 years ago and then be happy I'm not there anymore.

I want to be able to leave my children with my Dad so my Mom and I can go shopping for one thing and come home with 5, an hour after we said we'd be home, so I can see what type of drama my father can create to try to make us feel sorry for him.  I want to watch my kids run around my parents paradise of a cul-de-sac with all 10 of the little boys that live there and are unbelievable kind and sweet to them, knowing there is a strange safety there that we just don't have where we are right now. 

I want irrational, but unconditional support around me at all times. I don't want to have to put the kids to bed alone again, which creates more tears for all of us than there needs to be lately.  I want my Mom to make me dinner so I don't have to think about the 17th meal for the week, how we are going to pay for it and how I'm going to have time to make it with three children at my feet.  I want clean clothes to magically appear on my bed or in my drawer like they do for the rest of my family 365 days a year.  (Thank you Mom!)  I want my Dad to bring me Starbucks and bagels in the morning just because I asked and not even mention me paying him back for a drink that costs a ridiculous $5.  I want my parents to hug me and my brother to come home and tell me I can do anything.  I want to stay up drinking wine with him and listen to him talk like I'm smarter and better than I think I am and know that he means it, but still be amazed by it.  I miss my family.

For now though, I am at my new home.  I am waiting for a baby to wake up from a nap she finally gave in to taking.  I am plotting how to pick up my boys, nurse the baby, pick up new license plates for my minivan and return a cable box before anyone starts screaming or whining too much that I start screaming or whining.  I am staring at a very messy house and trying to remind myself that maybe it isn't the most important thing right now.  I'm desperately searching my soul for some peace about the list of ridiculous tasks, like vacuuming, that is sitting next to me and I have no desire to work on right now.  I'm stuck at this computer trying to remove whatever funk is in me so that I can get excited about the good things here.  There are lots of good things here, lots.  Right now though, I miss my family and I'm thinking I should go get that lottery ticket.  It could happen, right?