Friday, January 30, 2009

Potty Training 101

Some things that I have learned about potty training:

It is completely useless to begin if the child is not ready. Only the child knows when she is ready. Otherwise, you are in for a long, stressful struggle that ends with temper tantrums, premature toilet flushing, and puddles on the floor.

A child cannot receive candy everytime she goes on the potty. Otherwise, when she suddenly decides she is are in for a long, stressful sugar-induced struggle that ends in you trying to get your child to go to bed at 11pm when she is determined to body slam the cat.

Poop does wash off hands, but is slightly more difficult to remove from walls. And shower curtains.

I think I have finally found a system that is, so far, working. We have made a chart that we have on the fridge...and everytime she goes on the potty, she gets to put a sticker on her chart. After she earns three stickers, she gets a sucker. I have also ordered an official Dora chart and stickers...along with temporary tatoos. The tatoos will be the prize for earning four stickers. Unfortunately, this wonderful kit hasn't arrived yet, so last night I had to be a bit creative so that I didn't discourage her. Irelynn earned four got to pick out an Obama trading card.

"Daddy!!! Look!! Barack Obama!!!! I go potty and get Obama!!" (waving card in the air.)

Bruce gives me this look that implies that the cards were a wise investment, after all.

Which prompted the discussion about the plan for these cards, now strewn across our counter.

Bruce starts by trying to convince me of the awesomeness of this purchase.

"Look! It came with a poster!"

"What are you going to do with it? Give it to Irelynn?"

"Well...I was thinking maybe I could frame it...and hang it outside her the hallway."

I'm beginning to think my husband has a man-crush on Obama.

"What about the cards?"

"Well, I'll give one pack to each kid. And...I don't know...I kind of want to collect them all..."

"I say you keep a pack for yourself, as well as the kids...and the rest get sold on E-bay."

(Pouting) "Ok...well...if I sell them for $4 each, plus shipping...I could sell....(counts them out on the counter) seven packs and be able to make half the money back that I spent! I don't know how many I'll be able to sell, though."

Thinking back to a recent episode of "iCarly," the older kids' favorite show, where Spencer was selling fudge balls in front of a store to help a little girl win a bike, I come up with a retort:

"If you can't sell them on E-bay, you can sit your ass in front of Wal-Mart with a table and try and sell them that way."

End of discussion. I like that I can conjure up financial options by watching Nickelodeon.

I am happy that Irelynn is enjoying her prize, though. In fact, our second day into the new potty training schedule she has already earned two stickers. She has excitedly told me that I, too, earn stickers when I use the potty.

I'm thinking my prize tonight will be a Molson.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

And so it begins...

Well, I knew it would start sometime. Just not when they were 5-months old. Connor smacked Owen in the head. Owen cried. Connor thought it was funny as hell. Also, though Owen has rolled several times on his own, Connor has begun mastering his fine motor skills...which means he can grasp his brother's binky, and pull it out.

Yup. I'm in trouble.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm calling Brangelina...

I wonder if they'd take one more.

Owen is very fussy this morning, which is unusual. He is my laid back baby. But he has been yelling at me in what sounds like Klingon all morning. Not to be outdone, Irelynn is also speaking in Klingon, because she has recently decided that if she acts like a baby she will get more attention. Nothing like having a 2-year-old rolling on the floor, blowing raspberries, and trying to cry louder than the baby.

I wonder if there is a study done on this: children reverting back to the behavior of a younger sibling's age. Jaylond acts like his younger though this is his first year of middle school and he's not quite understanding the concepts of numerous classes and time management yet. His younger sister, Marissa, acts like her toddler sister....stomping her feet and throwing tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants. Irelynn, as previously mentioned, has now started acting like a baby.

Hmmm....that doesn't explain why Owen acts like a Klingon. Although I'm sure my husband would have an answer...he is full of alien theories.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Big 1-3.

When did this happen? When did my child become a teenager? I remember when he wore Pokemon t-shirts and had a bowl cut. We played "Go Fish" and watched "Blues Clues." His favorite movie was "Space Jam," and the coolest toy EVER was a Bionicle.

Now he wears skater shoes. He has a skater hair style to go with the shoes. He plays games that I don't understand (though he's tried to teach me several times.) "Space Jam" is gathering dust, while TV time is consumed with the Wii.

We are trying to decide what would be appropriate for a 13-year-old's birthday party. We're figuring on a sleepover in the basement (with our preteen daughter safely camping out upstairs...away from the 13-year-old boys.) Pizza, and the Wii...cake and ice cream. I don't really know what's "cool" anymore. Do you send the kids home with parting gifts? Or is that only with little kids? It seems Jay has come home from his friends' parties with McDonald's gift cards, and the like. Or should it be enough that we are serving his friends pizza and letting them rock out to Rock Band?

Perhaps I should send each kid home with a pack of Obama trading cards.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Children's Programming

I used to think that Barney was bad. Then came the Teletubbies...and other British children's shows that make me wonder what bad acid trip the creators were on. I firmly believed, B.M. (before motherhood,) that I would ban any children's show that was not educational...or that annoyed me. But then I had kids.

I like "The Backyardigans." Other than not knowing what in the world Uniqua is supposed to has catchy tunes. And I'm rather fond of Tyrone the moose and his anxieties...he reminds me of myself. Dora, however, needs somebody to teach her how to use her "indoor voice." I mean...what is up with the yelling? I have enough screaming kids at my house...I certainly don't need one more. Alas, Irelynn loves her.

Irelynn has discovered a new show that makes me cringe. "Yo Gabba Gabba." Now, the name alone, says it all. It has a guy in an orange jumpsuit with a fur hat, a robot, a long-armed monster, and a character that, as a friend once pointed out, resembles something a woman would use to pleasure herself. Not that I would know anything about that.

So, why do I not ban these shows? Is it in hopes that my daughter will learn useful phrases in Spanish? Is it because I want her to know that robots and monsters are people, too? Or perhaps because I feel the music in "The Backyardigans" will inspire the budding musician that I'm sure she is? No, my friends. I have no reason to justify allowing my child to watch these shows. Other than they offer me a half hour of quiet, happy toddler time. Which, as anyone who has a toddler valuable indeed. And educational. They teach her that a happy mommy is more willing to play that extra round of Candyland. Or Lucky Ducks. Or read "Green Eggs and Ham" for the 10th time. Which makes up for the brain cells she most likely lost after that last episode of "Yo Gabba Gabba."

Sesame Street is still good. And entertaining. Although I could do without "Elmo's World." Mr. Noodle never gets anything right. I think it would appeal more to adults if they taught kids more relevant things in life. Like the importance of sleeping in. Or why quiet time is important. Or perhaps why mommy drinks. I can picture it now:

Let's ask Dorothy....or, about the part what drinks and what doesn't?

Does a dog drink?
Unless Daddy thinks it's funny to pour beer into his water dish....

Does a pineapple drink?
But you can put pinapple juice into a drink!

Does the postman drink?
In fact, I think he drinks on the job....

Let's ask Mr. Noodle....

Mr. do you drink?
(Mr. Noodle pulls out light beer)

No, no Mr. Noodle...that's not how you drink!!
(Mr. Noodle looks confused, shakes head, smiles, and pulls out a wine cooler)

Mr. Noodle ....that's not how you drink....
(Mr. Noodle pulls out the bottle of Tequila)

Yay Mr. Noodle!!! Now you're drinking!!

Perhaps I should invest more time in actual adult programming when the kids are in bed.

Obama Drama

I love my husband. He is a wonderful man. A wonderful father. But sometimes...I do not understand his thought process.

A few days ago we saw a news story about Obama trading cards. I laughed, and said we should get a pack for Irelynn, our little Obama-obsessed toddler. I kid you not...this child is his biggest fan. And I'm not sure why. She has a picture of him on her dresser. She borrows her older sister's pom-poms to run down the halls, cheering "Go Obama, Go Obama, Go!" But I digress.

The other day, my husband calls me from work to inform me that he spent some money.

"Ok...on what?"

"Well, I spent fifty dollars on a case of Obama cards."


After several rounds of me saying he's joking, and him assuring me that he is not, he explained, in typical Bruce fashion, why this purchase was justified. You was a really good deal. Single packs were going for $12 each. He was not about to spend $12 on one pack of cards.

Um...but you will spend FIFTY DOLLARS on TWENTY-FOUR packs?! What the hell are we going to do with 24 packs of Obama cards???

I believe I struck fear into his heart, because he assures me that upon recieving said case of cards, he will promptly resell them on E-Bay. After, of course, giving each of our kids a pack. Which we hope will not be treated as carelessly as Jaylond's Magic the Gathering cards. Because, you know...they should be worth alot of money someday. Or so my husband assures me.

Nothing like being broke and spending $50 on trading cards. I mean, come on...that totally cuts into the beer fund. What was he thinking?

Allergies, Pregnancy, and Wee-woks

Feeling reminiscent today. I found something on the computer that I wrote while pregnant with the twins. I feel that it might be fitting for this blog:

I am sexy.

My hair needs to be washed. It is too short to really pull back into a ponytail. I try anyway. I have little wiry hairs sticking up all over my head. Nice.

My eyes are red and puffy. If my pupils were just slightly more dilated…I’d look like I did that night back in college when someone passed me a joint for the first time.

I am coughing. It’s that kind of cough that makes people wince. The one that sounds like your lung is about to come through your throat. When I speak I sound like I’ve been smoking cigars. For years.

My ass hurts. I am beginning to remember the things I don’t enjoy about being pregnant. Like the sciatic nerve thing. And the heartburn. And the fact that when I wear one of my husband’s tee-shirts…I don’t look pregnant. I just look fat.

But I am sexy. I know this. I know this because my husband is trying to convince me that all I need is some “sexual healing.” He says this as he does these remarkably obnoxious pelvic thrusts in the air. Because the combination of the words “sexual healing” with the action of thrusting your pelvis is apparently supposed to send the female mind into overdrive, making her want to jump her mate’s bones. Did I call him my mate? Primate, perhaps….

Why can’t moms call in sick? And why is it that I cannot breathe out of my nose, my head feels as though it will explode….and yet I am the one kept up all night because of my husband's snoring?

Since when did the alarm clock start saying “momma!!” instead of beeping? And why doesn’t it stop when I hit snooze? No…no…this is not Irelynn’s wake up time. I want to throw the alarm clock at Bruce’s head. But instead I get up and greet the day with the one finger salute. And a cup of regular coffee.

Marissa takes too long in the shower. Bruce can’t find his keys. Jaylond left his Tae Kwon Do uniform on the bathroom floor last night. I know this because Bruce is now in the bathroom, calling through the door…"OOPS...hey, Jay…I guess you really are a yellow belt now!!”

Irelynn informs me she wants to watch “Tar Wars…Weewoks on!!!” I am looking longingly at the Tylenol Severe Allergy pills sitting on the table. Stupid Benedryl. Oh yeah, another thing I don’t like about being pregnant.

The weewoks are singing. Marissa is complaining because today is field day…she is supposed to wear a red shirt, and the only one she has bears the name “Spanky” on the back. Where the hell did she even get a shirt that says “Spanky?” So she’s wearing her brother’s shirt. Which, apparently, is almost as bad. I have the urge to kick a weewok right now. I never used to be violent.

The kids are off to school. The husband is off to work. Irelynn is now content with Dragon Tales. Emmy and Max are talking to a walrus. Goo goo g’joob. Which reminds me…my eyes. They look horrible. And I didn’t even get to smoke anything good to compensate for it. I think I need a shower. And a nap.

Now that’s sexy.

Disclaimer: The author of this post is not on drugs. Unless you count the occasional beer, Tylenol Allergy Sinus pills, or coffee.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I don't care about fair...I care about quiet!

My stepfather never cared about justice. It did not matter that my sister just scratched her own arm to produce hives, claiming that I beat her. It did not matter that my brother was mimicing my every word.

"It's not fair!"

These words were spoken all too often in my home growing up, as my stepfather reached the point where his face turned bright red, and he experienced a momentary loss of memory as he resorted to "Girl! Boy! Shut up!"

He didn't bother to try and guess our names, as my mother did. She would go through every name in the house, sometimes including the pets, until she got the right one. However, though she did not remember my name...she always tried to hear what the story was...who started the whole thing. Not my stepfather. I thought he was cruelest parent in the world. My siblings got away with everything.

I finally understand that feeling, though. And I have actually found myself uttering that infamous phrase: "I don't care about fair...I care about quiet!"

I was completely unfair, I'm sure, last night. I envoked the worst punishment possible for a preteen. I told them both that they were not allowed to watch "American Idol" that night. I don't know who started it. And...I didn't care. All I knew was that they had been warned. And the next thing I knew...Marissa had kicked the chair into Jaylond. Probably with good reason. Jay spazzed out on her. A fight ensued. And I really did not care to hear the stories about who started what and why. I wanted silence. After this many kids, and so many fights...I have realized that each child has their own version of a story. And each child can be manipulative in their own way. A parent comes down to two choices: let them work it out themselves (which could have messy results or drive you insane,) or end it yourself, regardless of what would be deemed as "fair." I usually choose the latter. Hopefully one day they will have children of their own...and then they, too, will understand.

Man...I picked the right punishment, though. The children were solemn for the rest of the evening. I'm filing that one away for future use...

Where am I going? And why am I in this hand basket?

When I look in the mirror, I don’t recognize the face staring back at me. The hair is short and unruly. No amount of gel could contain that frizz. Gray hairs pop out here and there. The face resembles one I used to know…only rounder…older…with lines etched around the eyes. Not a trace of make-up can be seen. Nothing can hide the damage the years have done. I also remember having only one chin.

I look down, in hopes that I recognize something…like an old friend, there to comfort me. If she’s there, she’s hidden under a layer of insulation. I can gather my stomach into my hand…stretch marks cover it. I put on another pair of sweatpants, looking longingly at my dresser, housing several pairs of jeans. I can’t see them, but they are taunting me.

I pour my cup of coffee and wait in the dark. These are the few precious quiet moments of the day. I breathe in deep, taking in the sweet silence. I should be folding laundry. I should be loading the dishwasher. I should be exercising…trying to unbury that old friend. But I sit in silence. It won’t be long now.

I hear the first baby crying. I sigh, and put down my cup of coffee, unfinished. And so it begins. I quicken my pace because I know, if I wait too long, he will wake his brother up. I look into the crib. Connor breaks into a huge grin, and I pause, just for a moment. I almost forget about the stretch marks and double chin. I grin back. Then, as he begins to squirm and his brother starts to move I snap back into action. I grab him up, rush him to the changing table and try whispering soothing words to keep him from fussing. As I sneak out of the room, I breathe a sigh of relief…his brother is still asleep.

As I feed him, I stare into his eyes. He has his father’s eyes. And nose. And those ears…definitely not mine. I look him over…nope. I don’t see me anywhere. Damn. I can’t find myself in the mirror, or my child. Where did I go?

As he finishes the bottle, I brace myself. Will he scream? There’s about a 50/50 chance. My days are filled with his cries…not unlike his older sister when she was his age. I don’t remember much with her, though. She was only one baby. There was always a hand-off and a break. Now there are few moments when their father and I are not holding a baby. Every time someone tells me, “Oh my children are only a year apart in age, so I know exactly what you’re going through!” I want to say “Um, no, not really. You have no fucking clue.” But I always just smile politely and nod.

As I put him in his swing, trying to not get my hopes up that this is one of his better feedings, I hear his brother begin to fuss. Feeling more confident…they didn’t wake up at the same time…I go back to repeat the process with Owen. As I sit down with Owen’s bottle, my hopes go up in a pouf of smoke. Connor begins to scream. I set the bottle down and get up, Owen in tow, to try and give Connor his pacifier. Owen starts crying as I postpone his feeding further by trying to shush Connor. Why did I think this would work? It never does. Well…Connor will have to cry. He is fed and changed…his brother needs to be fed.

I quietly rock with Owen. He is leisurely enjoying his food, while his brother gets more and more worked up. I cringe as I hear a voice from down the hallway.

“Mom! Maaaama! I want out!”

I interrupt Owen’s feeding once again, to his dismay, to free his older sister from the confinement of her crib. She is old enough for a toddler bed. However, she has yet to learn to climb out of the crib…I plan on keeping her caged as long as possible. I still need naptime, even if she doesn’t think she does.

I feel guilty as I turn on “Dora.” I sit back down to finish Owen’s feeding. I stare at my toddler, who probably desperately needs a new pull-up. And breakfast. But a screaming baby is priority right now.

I put Owen down in his swing, and glance nervously at Connor, who has exhausted himself…he is momentarily out. Next is the wrestling match with Irelynn to get her out of her overnight diaper and into a Pull-up. Which has become a joke. Potty training, which seemed to be going full steam has hit a major roadblock. Jealousy is an ugly thing…no matter what form it takes on. Whether it is a toddler who wants the same undivided attention as her baby brothers, a preteen older sister who wishes she had the same childhood (and mother) as her younger sister, a preteen oldest child who wishes he had the same money and privileges as his friends. Or whether it is a haggard woman in her late 20’s who covets the figure, the career, and freedom of her good friend.

The day passes with many feeding and soothing rotations between babies, episodes of “Dora” and “The Backyardigans” echoing in my head, Pull-up changes and tantrums, and a few brief moments of cuddles and games. The dishes are still in the sink. A load of laundry got moved from the dryer to the couch. I am still in sweatpants. They just have a few spots of spit-up on them now.

The clock is ticking. Soon the older kids will arrive home from school. My stress levels begin to increase, because I know that with their arrival will come the arguing, the door slamming, the rummaging of food (which will lead to more messes, empty graham cracker boxes being put back into the pantry instead of the trash, and crumbs all over the table.) There will be lies about homework (or lack there of)…frustrations over math…and eye rolling. All while I’m holding a screaming baby. Then there is the countdown until my husband gets home from work. Activity speeds up…but time slows down. How is that even possible?

I want my husband here. I don’t want to do this alone. I wouldn’t get a break…but I wouldn’t be alone. The words “be careful what you wish for” ring in my mind as this may all too soon be a reality. His company is folding, and as soon as the wind down process is finished, so is he. He will then be plunged into the growing mass of people clogging up the unemployment offices of Michigan.

Dinner is ready. The toddler climbs excitedly to the table…somehow gets food all over her face, although her plate looks untouched…and she claims she is finished. Five minutes have passed. I sigh as she climbs down. The babies fuss again. They always seem to know exactly what time dinner is…regardless of how often I try to change the time in which it is prepared, or feed them as close to dinner as possible. They have this internal timer that goes off everytime they know I want to eat. Dinner is postponed. Why is it that I feel as though I never eat, yet I remain fat?

Dinner is over. I keep glancing at the clock, anticipating bedtime. When is the earliest I could feasibly send the preteens to bed? Perhaps I should just ban them to the basement for awhile. At least then I won’t actually hear them argue. I am tempted to lock the door and tell them not to come up unless there’s blood. Perhaps they will just take each other out, and I’ll have a few moments of early peace.

Evening looms, and with it comes the bickering, the sassy toddler comments as she imitates the older children, the groans and complaints from my husband, and Connor’s Screaming Hour.

Finally…we can tell the older ones to go to bed. They don’t actually go to bed. Despite countless efforts to confiscate Nintendo DS’s, MP3 Players, book lights, and other digital apparatus, they find ways to stay up and occupy themselves. I have given up, for the most part, because what truly matters is that they are confined to their rooms and we have quiet. It’s pretty much a crapshoot anymore as to whether or not Irelynn, the toddler, will go to bed now. Thank goodness for crib bars.

After hours of walking, bouncing, rocking, shushing, and a beer or two (and some Previcid for Connor)…we lay the boys down gingerly in their crib…hoping not to wake them in the transition from arms to crib. I look around at the mess. Dinner dishes in the sink. Graham cracker crumbs and wrappers on the counter. Something sticky on the table. Toys and blankets littering the living room floor. The clean clothes still unfolded on the couch. I turn to say something…but Bruce is already heading for the bedroom. Oh well…there is always tomorrow, right? I know I’ll have a few moments before the twins wake when I’m drinking my coffee. Tomorrow I will use the time wisely.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Life With Five Kids

Here is something I wrote that prompted some people to tell me to start a blog:

The older kids are home from school. Both twins decide to wake up because they are hungry. I feed one, and let the other fuss for a minute as I hear the older kids arguing at the table. I finish up, feed the other twin, and then put them in their swings, so I can start dinner...something easy....spaghetti and breadsticks. Can't get much easier than that.

Connor starts crying....ok....well...I'll put him in the sling and just wear him while I work. Marissa is still at the table, asking me questions as I start to prepare dinner:

"Mom...I don't know what two states are not on this map....Hawaii??"

"That's one...what other one don't you see?"


"Canada's not a state."


"Mexico isn't a state's cold..."

"Oh! Antartica?"

Owen starts crying in the swing. I try giving him a pacifier...nope...not going to work. I sigh, as the oven beeps, indicating it has finally preheated. I take Connor out of the sling, and swaddle him....I place him in the bassinet, and go get Owen, who settles right down in the sling. I hear Irelynn yelling. Great.

I come out to find her outside the basement door, screaming to her brother."Jay Jay!!! Bedroom!!!! Jump on bed!!"I tell her no, she is not going to go down to Jay Jay's room and jump on his bed. She lets loose with an ear piercing shriek that probably made the neighbors wonder if I beat my children. I sigh, choose to ignore it, and put the breadsticks in the oven.

Marissa is scowling at the table.

"Mooo-om....where is Washington D.C.? I have looked through the state of Washington a bunch of times, and I don't see it anywhere."


I peek around the corner to see Irelynn stare at me with a look of innocent shock....while strawberry milk drips down the basement door, collecting in a puddle on the floor, next to her open sippy cup. I grab something to mop it up, and come back to realize the spaghetti sauce is bubbling over. Jay has conveniently disappeared down in the basement. Connor starts fussing from the bedroom. Now Irelynn has a funnel. Where she found said funnel, I have no clue. But it amplifies her voice to levels that make Metallica seem soothing. She is running through the house announcing (through the funnel) that she is not wearing pants. Where did her pants go? I'm not sure. But they are probably located in whatever spot she found the funnel in.

Marissa is now asking me how many miles would it be if one inch equals 300 miles, and she just measured the distance at two and a half inches.

Connor sounds like a mix between a disgruntled dolphin and Bruce when he has terrible gas.

Suddenly I hear "Mama! Help!" I run to the bathroom to find Irelynn standing in the sink. She has the baby shampoo in one hand, and my toothbrush in the other. Great. Luckily Bruce came home then.

Later...I take Jay to Tae Kwon Do, and come home to find that the guy that I forgot we scheduled to come give an estimate on putting in a door wall was already here...and Bruce was trying to feed a twin while Irelynn was running around half nekkid. She keeps handing the guy coupons that she finds as she rummages through my purse. I have to grab the other twin, who is now fussing. Irelynn once again begins announcing that she is not wearing pants. The guy...I believe his name was telling us the difference in cost between a 6-ft and 5-ft door.

Irelynn runs to the living room and trips...slamming into the wall. All chaos ensues. She is finally pacified with a sucker...and then our cat throws up in the middle of the kitchen floor. Let's just was a two beer night. More if I would have had more...and knew that the twins would sleep longer than three hours at a time. Oy.

So...that is my excuse as to why I cannot seem to find time to actually write anything.
As it took me forever to type this out because of fussy babies and a toddler demanding bologna...which she promptly shared with the cat. I am beginning to realize why the cat might have stomach issues. I am sipping my coffee from my Happy Feet cup (well, my Sea World cup that Irelynn tells me is Happy Feet because it has penguins on it) and contemplating adding some Baileys. But now I hear Connor fussing. It may have to wait.

Sanity is Overrated

Well, at least I'd like to think it is. I'd hate to think that I'm missing out on something important in life. Like sanity. Or adult conversation. Or a job where I actually have to wear something other than flannel pj pants and a tee-shirt.

I have now had several people tell me I should start a blog. I suppose my life is just crazy enough to be interesting. I don't know if I have the time to truly do a blog justice...but I suppose I'll give it a shot. It will at least give me a break from watching "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," my toddler's newest movie obsession, for the 5 millionth time.


Well, I would like to finish this post, however, Owen has other plans. I do believe the prunes I gave him are making a second appearance.