Monday, December 29, 2008

O Canada!

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123051100709638419.html

Um...yikes?

Then again, I've always liked Canada. They get a year off for maternity leave! Paid! Whoo hoo!

But then again, I'm probably not having any more babies. Crap.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What I Do When I Should Be Working

So this year, I wasn't very prepared for Christmas. Granted, I'm never prepared for Christmas, but this year I was really bad. What can I say, it's been a crazy month.

So due to my lack of preparedness, I had to go out to Target the day before Christmas Eve and pick up the last few odds and ends on my Christmas shopping list (and by "odds and ends," I mean "presents for everybody").

Luckily though, Scott had already taken care of most of the big gift shopping for our kids, so the only thing I had on my list for them was stocking stuffers. Sounds easy, right? (Please. If you've learned anything about me by now from reading this blog, it's that I never make anything in my life easy).

So, my first stop was the Target dollar aisle. Ooh, I was sure to find plenty of cheapo doodads there that would be perfect for my little chicklets' stockings! (well, perfect if you ignore the ever-present choking hazard risk stamped on every dollar-item's packaging, that is). But crap, the dollar aisle was filled with Valentine's Day merchandise already! Which I could've worked to my advantage for Ashley's stocking, but not so much with the boys (although on the other hand, heart-stamped bobby socks would look awfully cute on Owen). Plus, I was still naive enough to think that there would be PLENTY of cheapo stocking stuffers throughout Target just waiting to be found, so I scoffed at the idea of limiting myself to Valentine's Day paraphernalia just yet.

Well, to make a long story short(er), I had a hell of a time finding stocking stuffers. I found a few gems for Ashley in the toy aisle, but hardly anything for the boys. Apparently, the "almost two" age is a very difficult present-buying age. Anything small and cheap I could find was for kids way younger than two, or else presented the aforementioned choking hazard risk.

So I ended up getting desperate and buying the boys things that were either (i) too expensive (fake cell-phone that can record a person's voice); (ii) too noisy (plastic flutes); or (iii) could be used as weapons (plastic flutes again). I know this because once I got home and showed Scott my purchases, he looked at me and said "No." and then put half of my loot in a "to be returned" pile.

Oh well, I tried.

But anyway, to get to the point of this blog post (yes, there is an actual point! I swear!), one of my purchases that escaped the "to be returned" pile and actually made it into the boys' stockings were these little M&M container thingies.


Cute, huh? The kids loved them...although we didn't let them open them up on Christmas morning since it was 7:30 am and that is too early for chocolate, even in my book.

So anyway, they've just been sitting around on our kitchen counter until tonight, when I suddenly got a craving for chocolate. I thought about it for awhile...stealing your kids' Christmas chocolate? When they hardly got anything in their stockings anyway due to my poor shopping skills? Do I really want to be "that parent"?

And I decided, yes, I'm okay with that. So I cracked open one of the Mr. M&M guys by removing his cute little santa hat, downed all the m&m's, put him down and then about jumped out of my skin when I later saw him looking at me from the arm of my couch:

Yikes!! Is it just me, or is that one scary looking M&M guy??!! Who knew that the Santa hat could make such a difference.

The evil eyebrows, the crazy eyes....you don't want to mess around with non-santa hat m&m guy. Maybe the m&m company made him look scary on purpose to ward off evil parents who steal their kids' Christmas candy. Sheesh. Well it worked on me...I'm done with m&m's, for this Christmas season at least.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Cognizable Christmas

So technically, this year was Ashley's 4th Christmas. But for the first 3, she really had no clue what was going on since she was still so little, so this year was really her first cognizable Christmas.

It's definitely the first one where she understood the concept of Santa. That is, if by "understood" you mean "accepts whatever her mom and dad tell her without questioning." Which really is kind of necessary when you're trying to explain the whole concept of Santa. I mean, that really is a lot of b.s. combined into one story. First of all, you have an old man well past the age of retirement working and living up in the North Pole. Please. You know he would have moved to Phoenix or Miami by now. Second...he wears a red velvet suit. Sure, that made sense when I was a kid growing up in the 70's, but now? Not so much. Anyway, I could go on and on, but I'll save my Santa ranting for another day.

Anyway, Ashley was very excited for Santa this year...she was not at all deterred by the various threats that Scott and I would make over the past month to call Santa and tell him what a naughty girl she'd been when she would refuse to (i) go to bed; (ii) eat her dinner; (iii) brush her teeth; (iv) stop stealing her brothers' toys; (v) stop yelling at the top of her lungs; (vi) quit throwing things at her brothers...

Wait, what was I talking about again?

Oh yes, Santa. So nothing could stop Ashley's excitement. She was filled with the Christmas spirit, this one.

Since she was so excited, that of course led to many fun parenting moments as well. So without further ado, some of my favorite moments from Ashley's First Cognizable Christmas are:
  • She constantly sang the first verse to "We wish you a Merry Christmas," which her three year old mind changed to "We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas...and a happy Two Ears!"
  • On the drive home from her aunt and uncle's house on Christmas Eve, Scott and I told her to keep a look out to see if she could see Santa. Fueled by an overdose of sugar cookies, she spotted a hallucinogenic Santa up in the night sky two seconds later and started yelling "It's Santa! It's Santa! Get him, daddy!"
  • On Christmas morning, she ran downstairs and saw that the plate of cookies we'd left out for Santa the night before were all gone. I said, "Look Ashley, Santa was here!" And she turned around and looked up at me sadly and said "Yeah, but Santa ate all my cookies." Apparently, the big old pile of presents he left in exchange was no consolation.
  • Although she'd never asked for it before, apparently her secret Christmas wish was that Santa would bring her some silly putty. Every single present she opened (attacked?), no matter what the size, she would say "Is this my little egg present? Is this my little egg present?" (You know, because silly putty comes in that little plastic egg thingamajig). Luckily, her nana brought some silly putty over later that night so Christmas wasn't ruined (which I then found stuck in my hairbrush this morning, so maybe it wasn't so lucky after all).
  • One of her "big presents" was this little Fisher Price digital camera. She loves it. So much so that she busted into our bedroom the day after Christmas and woke Scott and I up from a deep slumber via flash photography. I kinda felt like Britney Spears with all the flashing right in my face...maybe my daughter has a future as a paparazzo.

I'm sure there were more, but these are the memories that stand out in my mind at the moment. I can't wait until next year when the boys are hopefully more aware of the chaos going on around them...although then again, they will probably be a lot more likely to object than they were this year when Ashley decided to "help" them open their presents.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On Turning 29



That's right...last week was my birthday. I turned 29. Some of you who know me in real life may beg to differ, but la la la I can't hear you!

But if I actually were three years into my thirties, I would have to say that so far, this decade hasn't been so bad. In fact, I've loved the last three years of my life...and it's all attributable to the three little hooligans responsible for giving me the icing identifier on my cake this year (and their daddy, who actually did the icing).

Remind me that I felt this way ten years from now when Ashley's turning thirteen, please.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Twin Gladiators

I witnessed the most hilarious twinfight the other day, and oh, how I wish I captured it on video. I could've made a million dollars on America's Funniest Home Videos with it (is that show even still on?). Yes, it was that funny (then again, I don't remember the videos on that show being that funny, so maybe scratch that). It was so funny I could've posted it on youtube and gotten a bunch of hits on it before I panicked that it was too public and taken it down. Yeah, it was that funny.

Well, maybe now I'm building it up too much, especially since I'm going to have to describe it without video assistance. Oh well, here goes nothing...

So, I'm getting all 3 kids ready for bed in our upstairs hallway, when Twin #1 (I can't quite remember which one, so I'm just going to randomly assign the role of Twin #1 to Aidan. They are identical, after all.) scampered off into his room to grab his (i) lovey, and (ii) binky. Then he trotted back into the hallway all pleased with himself, until Twin #2 (i.e., Owen, for those of you who need a little help), spied Aidan's newly acquired treasure and decided it was a perfect time for a rousing game of "Capture the Lovey."

Except this time, Owen didn't sucessfully capture the lovey...he got both hands on it, but Aidan wasn't going down this time without a fight. Therefore, an intense tug-of-war started, which generally involved the twins dragging each other back and forth across the hallway with the lovey stretched between them while Owen hollered and Aidan happily (and quietly) sucked away on his binky.

Owen, naturally, was upset as all get-out that he could not get the lovey away from Aidan. So his hollering turned to wailing. And what does Owen want when he wails? Yep, you guessed it....his binky. And where is the closest available binky when you're engaged in a lovey tug-of-war with your twin brother? Yep, you guessed it again...your twin brother's mouth!

So Owen let one hand off the lovey, reached over and snatched the binky from Aidan's mouth and popped it in his own, still tugging away on the lovey with his other hand. Now, of course, Aidan got upset...so he let one hand off his side of the lovey, reached over, and grabbed the binky out of Owen's mouth.

Can you see where this is going?

For the next 5 minutes, I watched the most hilarious lovey tug-of-war/binky stealing episode I'd ever seen...wail, snatch, plop, wail, snatch, plop...back and forth across the hallway, into their room, into Ashley's room, into the bathroom, etc. etc.

And don't think I'm a mean old mom for letting it go on, because once the twins realized how hard I was laughing, it changed to wail, snatch, giggle, plop, wail, snatch, giggle, plop.

They do love to make their mama laugh!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Super Ashley

I might've mentioned on here before that Ashley has a lot of....um....energy. So much so, that it's close to impossible for the girl to settle down and go to sleep at night. And now that she's in a big girl bed instead of a crib, bed-time has gotten even tougher.

Oh, don't get me wrong. Ashley LOVES her big-girl bed.....because she can get out of it. Which she does every.single.night, over and over again. I have come to the conclusion that she is physically incapable of staying in her bed. You lay her down, and she just sproings right on up again. It's like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.

I documented some of her getting-out-of-bed issues here, so you can see that this has been going on for quite awhile. I've tried various gentle loving approaches to address the issue, such as different bedtime routines, adjustments to bedtime, rewards, threats, punishments, pleading, begging, prayer, etc. Nothing has worked.

So, I decided to get tough.

My first step was to have Scott install one of those eye-hook lock thingamajigs on the outside of her door. I figured as long as she just stayed in her room, things would be okay. I didn't mind if she played in there and crashed on the floor, but I just could not take the endless game of returning her to her room every five minutes all freaking night long.

But I underestimated my little Ashley Belle. That girl is STRONG. She would stand at her door and pull on the doorknob and SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE that door. I would sit downstairs literally afraid of my tiny 3 year old little girl shaking that door like a caged animal...she was a maniac! You would've been scared too. I have no idea if she was crying or not...the noise from the door shaking pretty much drowned everything else out. Finally, she shook it so hard that she pulled the lock right out of the door. She's like a little evil villain with her super-power strength busting through doors so she can drive her poor tired parents closer to the brink of insanity.

Because the eyehook lock was so traumatic (for me), I went back to my loving parental tendencies for awhile and just started returning her to bed when she'd leave her room. This worked okay for awhile, until she stopped coming downstairs and started going into her brothers' room instead to wake them up.

Now, one child not sleeping...I can deal with. But three children not sleeping????? I'm not made of stone people!! Plus, I didn't need her teaching any of her door-busting techniques to her little brothers....I'm counting on them having typical toddler strength instead of super-power strength if I'm going to survive their childhood.

So, I made Scott go out and buy a new doorknob for Ashley's door. One that has a lock on it. And since Scott is a smarty-pants, he installed it so the lock was facing into our hallway instead of her bedroom...mwah hah hah!!!! So now we can just lock her in there from the outside until she falls asleep.

But the first night we did it, oh man....it was awful. I put her to bed, explained the whole thing, gave her one warning, etc. (which of course she failed), and then locked her in. And Ashley FREAKED....sobbing, throwing herself against the door, and crying "Mommy, help me!!!!" UGH. Of course I did not last long before I threw the door open and covered my baby girl in kisses and felt insanely guilty for ever locking her up in the first place.

Until the next night. This time Scott put her to bed, gave her one warning (which she obviously failed again), and then locked the door. This time there was no crying. Since daddy had put her to bed and she knows he is not the sucker parent, she didn't waste tears and just decided to get bossy. "Daddy!" "Let me out of here, dadddddd-eeeeeee!" "Hey DADD-EEEEE!" "Daddy, you no shut my door, HMPH!" "Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy!" "Oh, daddd-eeee!" "HEY!" "DADD-EEEEEEEEEEEEE! DADD-EEEEEEEEEE!" Over and over again. Until Scott cracked and opened the door

We are in so much trouble....not only does our daughter have super-human strength, she has also discovered the kryptonite to our parenting abilitites.

For me, it's laying on the guilt.

For Scott, it's incessant nagging. Hmmm, maybe she's on to something, there. ;-)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Brothers Gotta Hug (or hold hands)

I was going through my photo's tonight, and totally forgot about these pictures I took when we were about 7 hours into our 8 hour Thanksgiving trek to Scott's dad's house...

I turned around to check on the boys and caught them holding hands...





Maybe it was the Care Bear movie that inspired them to act so loving toward each other. But who cares, it was too flipping cute!!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thankful that Thanksgiving is Over

Oh.my.word.

Did I happen to mention here our plans to take the kids on a whirlwind Thanksgiving tour to see Scott's family that involved various multi-hour drives across state lines?

I didn’t? Hmmm....apparently I was still in denial about it.

Well, we survived. But just barely.

Phase I: Nebraska to Illinois (8 hours)

I stayed up until 5:30 a.m. the night before we left writing an article for work. So needless to say, I was tired when we started off Wednesday morning on the long trek from Nebraska to the teeny tiny Illinois town where Scott’s dad lives. I knew things were off to a bad start when we fired up the minivan's DVD player before we'd even left our subdivision. Luckily (unluckily?), we were armed with a whole host of kid movies to keep everybody entertained...the most annoying of which was a $4.99 Care Bears movie we’d recently picked up at Target, which of course quickly became the kids' favorite. It's really kind of a toss-up on which is worse....(i) listening to three kids hollering at the top of their lungs because they want to watch a Care Bears movie; or (ii) listening to the squeaky voices of the miscellaneous Care Bears singing songs about caring and wishing and rainbow syrup while you drive through back-woods Missouri.

Eight hours of Care Bear DVD watching later (with a quick stop for dinner at the Pizza Hut buffet in Hannibal, MO), we pulled into Scott's dad's driveway. Phew...we had survived. Little did I know that my relief would be short-lived.

Phase II: Tiny Town in Illinois (2 days)

Oh lordy. Ashley was HORRENDOUS. Granted, she did pretty well for being cooped up in the car for so long, but it was like once we let her loose she could not settle down. She ended up throwing two major tantrums the two nights we were there, and got so upset during both of them that she threw up. She has never done that before, and to be frank, I was kind of at a loss on how to deal with her. Both nights I ended up giving her a bath, and that seemed to calm her down somewhat, but still...it was rough. The boys did okay, though.

My favorite story from this part of the trip is kinda random, so bear with me... There was this sweet little cat hanging around Scott's dad's house on Thanksgiving Day. This poor thing wanted to be loved (fed?) sooooo badly....but all 3 of my kids are deathly afraid of dogs and cats, so we kept trying to shoo it away while we played outside. Anyway, it stuck around all afternoon, then hung out at the door during dinner, and then finally it moved on. Or so we thought.

That night, we got all the kids packed back up in the mini-van and started to head back to the motel (with me driving, since Scotty had had a few cocktails), when all of a sudden I hear Scott say "Megan, did you decide to adopt the cat?" I replied, "Noooooo...." And then Scott said, "Well, then why is it sitting in my lap?" I look over and see that the freaking cat has stowed away and is now sitting in Scott's lap just purring away! How random can you get? There we are driving down a deserted highway, pitch black outside, and poof...there's a kitten on my husband's lap! I swear, things like that only happen to us.

So anyhoo, we drove the kitty back to his dad's in case he had a little kitty family in the area, but I felt really guilty abandoning him since he seemed to have chosen us as his adoptive family. Poor little kitty. Oh well, he had no idea what he would be getting himself into if we had taken him home.

Phase III: Illinois to Saint Louis (1.5 hours)

So Friday morning, we headed on down to St. Louis (about an hour away from his dad's) to meet up with Scott's mom's extended family. This part of the drive was easy-peasy…everybody napped but Aidan, and he was my favorite during the whole trip so that worked out well. Trust me, Aidan would have been your favorite too. Ashley already had one strike against her based on her behavior at Scott’s dad’s house, and Owen was about to add strike after strike as you’ll soon see.

Phase IV: Saint Louis (About 3 hours)

Oh, Owen. My shy little boy. He used to do this wonderful thing called the “turtle”. I think I actually discussed it here. It involved him going into a fear-induced coma the minute anyone picked him up and tried to love him. I adored the turtle. Not only did he look cute, but it sure made for an easy get-away any time mommy needed a break.

Unfortunately, the “turtle” has now been replaced with the “alligator”. If I try to hand him over to someone now, there will be lots of thrashing, arm whipping, gruntal noise-making, and although it hasn’t happened yet, I wouldn’t put it past him to start biting. The problem with the alligator, is that Owen not only gets pissed at the person he was handed to…but also gets even more pissed at me for trying to hand him over. And Owen is one little dude that you don’t want to piss off.

The alligator was in full force in Saint Louis…which is really a bummer when all I wanted to do was have a slice of pizza and chat with Scott’s relatives. So we all piled back in the mini-van for the 3 hour drive down to the teeny tiny Missouri town where Scott’s mom and stepdad live.

Phase V: Saint Louis to Tiny Town in Missouri (3 hours)

Surprisingly, this part of the trip was not so bad. The kids were all relatively well-behaved. My favorite part was when we stopped at a Love’s gas station/truck stop, and Ashley was all “Mommy, I want to go to the heart store!! I love the heart store!” Leave it to Ashley to rename a truck-stop “The Heart Store”.

Phase VI: Tiny Town in Missouri (2 days)

Aye yi yi. Ashley was on pretty good behavior while we were there, but the twins….ugh. Apparently, by that time they had HAD IT with traveling and hanging with relatives and decided that no one besides mommy could look at, speak to or touch them for the rest of the weekend. Aidan was better than Owen, but still…both of them gave us a run for our money.

However, the boys took a really good nap Saturday afternoon, which meant that I got a good nap as well, and what more can you ask for on a Thanksgiving weekend?

Phase VII: Missouri to Nebraska (8 hours)

The drive home on Sunday was so-so....it was a little snowy and very tiring, and the kids completely melted down for the last 1.5 hours in the car (even the Care Bears couldn't help), but at least we made it home in one piece.

Hey, look at that! I recapped Thanksgiving before Christmas arrived. Yay me! :-)