Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Sound of Silence

The power went off in our house yesterday while the boys were at home with J, one of our awesome babysitters. Not a huge deal but annoying all around. Our house is old, yes - not ancient but 50 years or so. So I blame the fact that there is only one outlet per room, which is not nearly enough to handle the modern era's capacity for electronic devices, as the reason that our power flickers continually.

Later that night, the boys were playing in their room with the light off so I turned it on. Well, I guess the power being off made a huge impression on them because they both began shouting "The power's back on Mommy! The power's back on!" I felt like a destitute parent, whose children could never count on having electricity. Sigh. At least they were happy about it! Electricity! Light! Oh boy!

The whole reason I'm even writing this story up is that I wanted to mark a momentous occasion: last night, the boys played BY THEMSELVES for 25 MINUTES ALONE WITHOUT US. That is the first time we've had that happen, at least while I was around to witness it. B claims that they have done that for him before but I've never seen it. Kind of like a good car buying experience - you hear it happens but you wonder why it's never happened to you.

We were quite flabbergasted by the boys playing by themselves, and we weren't quite sure how to handle it. It was bath time, after all, and we are quite rigorous about getting them into bed on time because, you know, we like to drink after they are asleep. B whispered to me as we peeked around the corner at the two of them, happily playing with their Little People: "What should we do? Do we let them keep playing or start their bath?" I looked at him like he was nuts and whispered urgently back: "Are you kidding??? Of course we leave alone!"

And what did I do with my quiet time? I washed the dishes. In silence. No one was head-butting me in the butt or smacking my legs with their monster trucks. In that moment, I realized for the first time how much I loved doing the dishes. Or maybe I was just high on the silence.

After the dishes, I happily played monster trucks with them for another half hour. After all, they are pretty cute when they're in good moods. And, you know, I love them and all.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Absence Makes the Heart...

I haven't posted for awhile because, well, the boys were in the HOSPITAL!!!!!!!! I can barely write that without freaking out except that I'm kind of used to it by now. True, the last time they were in the hospital was two years ago and then two years ago before that (you know, when they were born). So it's been awhile and maybe we were due for a little hospital time. But man, the guilt guilt guilt that just eats away at me because they were born premature. Everyday I think about what I could have done differently maybe to have kept them inside my body for a week or two longer instead of coming out seven weeks too soon but then I think about the fact that my legs were swollen from hip to toe like enormous water-filled balloon and I realize that I probably couldn't have done anything different. I did have nearly nine pounds of children inside me when I still had two months to go. And yes, I had gained 50 (yes FIFTY) freaking pounds by then. So I guess maybe, after three years, I could cut myself a little bit of slack. Looking at J&N, you would never have any idea that they are asthma kids - they are big robust energetic boys. Too energetic for me right now as they have given me their stupid colds which aggravated their asthma in the first place. They are napping right now while I type away at this, knowing that I should take a nap while I can but I don't because I like to torture myself. Sigh. Okay, I'm done with the pity party - I think I'm going to sneak off to shop so that B can deal with them when they wake up. Yay for Mom!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Up for the Challenge

Trying to transcript out what the boys are saying lately has become very challenging. It's not quite the same as having two kids who are, you know, talking. These two guys are the SAME EXACT age and literally have the same maturity level (as far as I can tell, I'm not a scientist). So here's how a conversation generally goes with these two goofballs:

J: Mommy, mommy, I want orange juice!
N (said over top of J's words): I want to watch Monster Jam!
J (hearing that Monster Jam is on the bridge): No, I don't want to watch Monster Jam! I want to watch Backyardigans' Race to the Tower of Power!
N (still talking over J): Monster Jam! And I want milk, no orange juice!

Okay, I'm going to give up at this point and just try to tape it or something. It's impossible to script out how two three-year-olds can talk/scream to/at me and to/at each other at the same time while causing their own mommy's brain to melt inside her head. Most of the time it's slightly funny, if exhausting. Other times, well, there are days when I try to figure out how I can get back to work as soon as possible. And usually that's only by 9am on a Saturday morning.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Notable Quotables

"I'm telling you, DAD RECORDS IT!!!"

This is what N says to me this morning, after I inform him that his most revered television program "Monster Jam" (which is neither about monsters nor jam but rather a twice weekly showing of the various monster truck competitions around the country, and yes, N knows every monster truck's name) is not on the DVR for him to watch at SEVEN AM. It took me a full minute to decipher what he said, so shocked was I at what had come from my otherwise sweet and lovable THREE-YEAR OLD.**

So I talked him into playing monster trucks instead. He heard J stirring around in his bed and went to investigate. When he saw that J was awake but not yet getting up to play monster trucks, he told J, "It's okay J, there are no monsters in our room!" (I'm not sure where that one came from but maybe because it was still dark? Who knows...)

As I changed J's diaper, I asked him if he had a good night sleeping and he told me that he had "dreamed of playing in the dog mud with black and white dogs and by myself." This one I can't interpret.

**On a unrelated note, I caught myself doing one of those "when I was your age, we had to walk to school through four feet of snow uphill both ways" kind of things where I said to N, "Hey now, listen here, when mommy was a little girl there was no digital video recording device and I had to watch Sesame Street when it was actually ON or I missed it altogether. So just because we CAN record Monster Jam doesn't mean that we..." and then I trailed off because I remembered how ridiculous that argument always sounded to ME when I was a kid and I didn't think I wanted to be in that position on the other side. Sigh. N didn't notice anyway - he was already busy playing with his monster trucks.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake

At the grocery store this week (BLISSFULLY alone), I reflected on those innocent times when my children would eat baby food. Ah baby food. So easy to prepare! So easy to feed! You always knew how much food would be appropriate for them to eat by age. You always knew how much they had eaten. I loved baby food. The boys loved baby food.

They eventually moved from baby food to incorporating some solid foods - cheerios, bananas, toast. They ate mixed vegetables and peas with gusto. I was so proud! And so terribly smug.

Now, for the record, I just want to make a list of the few foods my boys will actually consume. So that I will always remember that when you are smug, it will come back to haunt you:

1 - Pretzels/goldfish crackers/dino crackers/some cereals
2 - Plain tortillas (just J)
3 - Bread (usually both, but J prefers the tortillas)
4 - Dino nuggets (these are actually made from chicken, not dinosaurs)
5 - Mini-corn dogs, sans the dogs (yes, this means just the corn batter coating)
6 - Fish sticks (well, only N will eat these in all honesty)
7 - Plain cheese pizza (only J will eat this, N won't touch it)
8 - Doritos or any other unhealthy chip-like substance
9 - Most fruit (unless it looks too weird or too colorful)
10 - Cheese (on days when the moon in the right position and again, it doesn't look too weird or too oddly textured)

If I could sum up their meals with one word, it would be: monochromatic. Their food all matches. Except for the odd grape or kiwi, everything is a shade of brown/orange/yellow, just like my childhood memories of our 70's kitchen. I almost dread making meals for them at this point. They don't really throw food so much any more, but I would never quite put it past them.

I know the advice most parents will offer, and believe me, I've heard it. I do offer them all kinds of foods. I offer them what B and I eat for dinner. We talk it up, making it sound like the most delicious substances know to man. Broccoli! Like little trees! So green and beautiful! Reflecting the awesome power of nature! Fajitas! So yummy and colorful! So much the opposite of everything you have on your plate! Just try one bite! One lick! Just smell it at least! Alas, nothing makes them gain our enthusiasm.

We are ready to out-and-out bribe them. With candy. New toys. Anything. Just please god make them eat. These are the same two boys who refused to try one single bite of their two-year birthday cake! That mommy made specially for them! Two huge Elmo heads with red icing!

At this point, if they express any desire, no matter how small, to eat any new food, I will give it to them until they become sick of it and refuse to it eat at all. Ice cream? You bet you can have it every meal! Oatmeal cookies? Of course! Let's all eat cookies! Cake? Sounds yummy to me! I now understand where all those horrible arbitrary parenting rules come from, the kind of rules I swore I would never inflict on my own children - the ones like "you can't leave the table until you clean your plate." I still swear I will not do that to my boys but I do understand where it comes from. It comes from desperation. The realization that this is the one battle you cannot win...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Or Is That Just Me?

So I have finally celebrated my 32nd birthday. I share the date (9/22) with Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, a fact I have always thought was extra cool because I'm such a LOTR freak. Unfortunately, I'm the only one who thinks it's cool.

Turning thirty didn't bother me - it seemed more like a novelty than anything to worry about. Same with thirty-one. But thirty-two. Man, thirty-two sounds like I'm deeply committed to being in my thirties. There's no denying it now. I don't feel like I'm an adult. Why is that? Why is it that no matter what age you are, the age about fifteen years down the road seems positively ancient? And then you reach that age and realize it's not at all what you thought it would be and that you are not at all where you thought you would be.

This last year has been a year of major learning for me. My DH returned to school to finish his degree, causing a major but manageable shift in the way our family functions. I took on a new job last summer that moved me into a new career path. The boys have grown and changed so much that it astounds me. I've learned a lot about myself. I think I'm nearly on the verge of feeling like a full-fledged adult. The fact that I'm already the dual-caregiver to two small children astounds me on a daily basis. How is that possible? Parenting is one of those things you have to jump into without thinking too much - because thinking too much will cause you to become paralyzed with fear.

I remember being nine years old in the produce section of the supermarket with my mother, then not even thirty years old herself. I vividly remember the moment I realized I was the first child my mother had raised and that she very probably didn't have any idea what she was doing. That's what parenting is all about - making it up as you go along. There are more informed ways of going about it, but we all make the daily decisions that shape our children pretty much on the spur of the moment. I just hope I'm doing okay...I do love those little guys more than anything else (except my husband - most days anyway LOL).

Monday, October 02, 2006

Career Aspirations

Last night I heard J telling daddy that he wanted to be a baseball player when he "gets big" which is his code for "when he grows up." I just about heard B cry with happiness because he loves baseball (even though he denies it - all while he's watching EVERY SINGLE ROYALS GAME, all two hundred and forty-six thousand of them). J is a fairly athletic little guy, so who knows? Maybe he will play baseball.

N, by contrast, is very mechanically-inclined. He loves vehicles of every single variety. Mainly monster trucks but anything with wheels will do in a pinch. When asked what he wanted to be when he "gets big," he unhesitatingly replied "Because when I get big, I want to work on trains. And on roofs." We know that this is a combo job he has created because B works on trains (or rather, on the communication parts of trains), and because N was extremely fascinated this summer by the three roofing crews working in our neighborhood, including the one that worked on our very own roof. Apparently, he thinks there is nothing cooler than being on a hot roof all day.

But you know what? Being a mom means that by god, if he wants to be a roofer, I will help him fulfill that dream.