Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Life in bullets, take 2 (0r 3?)

* Eric came up to me a couple of days ago with a very serious expression on his face.
 "Mommy?" he asked.  "Why does Santa come down the chimney?  Where doesn't he just come in through the front door?"
I said, "That's a good question, Eric!  When Santa comes to the mall, I want you to ask him that.  Then come back and tell me what he says."

* One of my oldest friends Kelly just moved to North Carolina.  And while I have 2 kids and no time to drive down, Kelly has one frightened cat and loads of free time (ok, maybe not "loads" of free time, but certainly more than me) and is willing to come and see me this weekend.  Yay!!!

* Rachel is adorable.  She is also willful and tries to push my buttons.  Her newest thing is using the bathroom after we put her to bed.  Then she hangs out in the bathroom naked, playing with the bath toys and talking to herself.  An example of her with a plastic Elmo figurine:
"Rachel?" says Elmo in a squeaky Rachel voice.
"Yes Elmo?"
"Have you washed your hands?" asks squeaky Elmo.
"No," answers Rachel.
"You NEED to," lectures Elmo.
"No!" screams Rachel.

And so on...  I wish I had a video camera for every time the kids create a cute dialog with their toys or do something cute.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

It's amazing the things you'd sell your soul for once you are a parent...

What tops YOUR list???

Here's mine:

1- A night with total control of the t.v. remote with NO KIDS ANYWHERE IN THE HOUSE to interrupt what I'm watching.
 1.5- A chance to watch an entire Washington Nationals or Redskins game (insert your favorite team here, unless it happens to be the Cowboys.... or any team from Philadelphia [sorry Pete])

2- Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep with no early morning wake-ups

3- Being able to go out with your significant other any day, any time, anywhere

4- Looking as good as your older friends who don't have kids

And I get it.  I know that in about 20 years I'll look back on this blog and cry my little eyes out that "my babies" are all grown up and have left the house.  I am a total sucker for nostalgia, so I know I will miss all this eventually.  But how many empty-nesters tell us young mothers how lucky we are, but then they never volunteer to watch anyone's kids for even an hour so we can run an errand?  Personally, I think time erases all the bad memories so you remember things as being absolutely picture-perfect.

I asked John what his list would be...

John: Well, some of those would be nice, but I don't know that I'd sell my soul for them...

[sigh].  No appreciation for superfluous prose.  Or sarcasm.  Maybe I should move...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Worst PBS Kids shows for your preschoolers (and, yes, it's biased and without *much* logic)

I have a confession to make...

My children were watching t.v. long before the two year-old American Pediatrics Association starting point.  In fact, my son watched so much Sesame Street that at the age of two he knew his ABCs and could count up to 100.  Eric couldn't talk at all, but when you have two kids under 2 years, you need preschooler programming in order not to binge drink.  

Eric can now talk, just in case you were wondering, but I'll be the first to admit that when Mommy has to make dinner, I have no problem with my kids watching t.v.  My only rule is that it can't be Nickelodeon or any of those Disney channels; it can only be PBS.  This is not because John and I are intellectual snobs; it's simply because I cannot stand those loud, toxic commercials that turn my otherwise nice kids into selfish little monsters at the store.

For those of you who don't want to endure hours of shitty preschooler programming in order to find a good show for your young kids, you've come to the right blog.  I've done the work for you.  You're welcome, by the way.  I'll take payment in Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Or Edible Arrangements with lots of chocolate strawberries.

The following is a list of the worst shows on PBS. The next post will be a list of the BEST shows on PBS, but I ran out of time.  All of these programs are either on local PBS stations or on a 24-hour preschool station called "PBS Sprout."* 

Shows that Suck
(in order no particular order)

 1. Lazytown (as seen on PBS Sprout).
Holy horse crap, whoever came up with this idea should be in therapy.  The premise is this: a perky tween girl with neon pink hair moves to a town filled with lazy and creepy looking muppet rejects.  A new super-hero in his twenties named Sportucus comes to town to teach everyone about healthy eating habits and exercise.  Sportucus is thwarted, however, by an evil villain named Robbie Rotten (also a man in his twenties).

Here's the thing: if there were more boys and girls on the show (real kids, not garish cartoon-puppets), I wouldn't have a problem with it.  But when the premise is one prepubescent girl whose only friend is a grown man saving her from a villain?  This sets off my Creep-o-meter.  I can appreciate a show that wants to teach healthy habits to young kids, but why in the name of Zeus's bung hole are the ONLY human characters a 12 year old girl and two grown men?  Where I come from, there's a word for athletic men in their twenties who move to a town in order to play with 12 year-old girls, and it isn't "Superhero."     

Grade: F

 2. Barney (now seen on PBS Sprout)

My good friends Pete and Alison refer to Barney as "the purple scourge."  There's a reason why adults hate this show.  Barney has a total of 2 brain cells that continuously collide in a verbal retching
of overly enthusiastic one-liners like "Super-Dee Duper!"  and "Everything is better with a friend."  Barney neglects to mention that everything with better with a friend who will play the Barney drinking game with you over Skype.

(Update: I just went to the drinkiwiki page and there is no official drinking game for Barney!  This is a grave injustice.  There's one for the Wiggles for God's sake!  My theory is that no one wants to sit through enough episodes of Barney to create a drinking game.  Or they're so drunk after sitting through a couple episodes of the show that they forget all the rules.)

Grade: D-

 3. Thomas the Train (now seen on PBS Sprout)

I know what you're thinking.  'Now what in the world could this chick possibly have against Thomas??'  Well, for one thing Thomas is a dick.  Don't believe me?  Watch a couple shows.  Also, all the engines do really shitty things and never follow the rules which makes everyone "cross."
"Sir Topham Hat was cross."
"Percy was cross."
"Gordon was cross."
"Emily was cross."
 Now whenever Mommy is having a PMS moment, my kids follow me around saying "Is Mommy cross?"

But kudos to the makers of Thomas for FINALLY having female engines.  Equal opportunity and steam engines go together like sushi and chocolate.

Grade: C

 4. Caillou: the first season with the weird puppets (as soon on PBS Sprout)

The four devoted followers of this blog will no doubt remember my Caillou rant from last year.

Caillou is actually 2 different shows: the first season consists of bizarre running dialogs between the family cat and two of Caillou's stuffed animals interspersed with mini-episodes of cartoon Caillou whining and other stereotypical preschool antics. 

Caillou isn't actually a bad show if you watch the later seasons where Caillou consistently uses "please" and "thank you."  My kids actually started saying "please" and "thank you" a heck of a lot more after watching the later seasons.  But in the first season Caillou sounds like a braying mule and throws tantrums whenever he's unhappy.  I learned quickly that kids emulate whatever they see on the screen.  Eric watched these early episodes one day, and the next morning I woke up to demon spawn.  Any show that changes your child into a brat should never be allowed in the home. 

Grade: D

5. Cat in the Hat (local PBS morning programming)

 The theme song to this show drives me absolutely bonkers.  The voice of the Cat is none other than Martin Short after he's done a few lines of cocaine and snorted bath salts.  Maybe it's because I'm not a morning person, but listening to a hyper, super-quirky cartoon makes me want to punch someone in the throat, mostly Martin Short.
 There are two 15 minute episodes per show and the two main characters are children Sally and Nick.  Sally and Nick are playing happily by themselves when the Cat mysteriously appears to whisk them away in his freaky flying car.  Of course, their mother is completely oblivious to all this.  Probably because she's grateful to finally have a chance to finish a cup of coffee (something I haven't done in over four years).  They go on adventures where Nick and Sally learn about new things through the Cat's myriad of animal friends.  Suffice to say, that Cat must really get around because he has a friend in every corner of the globe.  It's a cute show, and if it weren't for my overstimulated ear-drums, it wouldn't even be on the "suck" list.

Grade: B-

Shows that moderately suck, but I don't have any more time for witty sarcasm: 
Dora the Explorer (preschool girl who hangs out with her cousin Diego [who is old enough to have a driver's license, BTW] and a monkey, all while dodging some crazy klepto named Swiper)

Angelina Ballerina (A prissy, self-centered mouse who loves to dance)

Poppy Cat (It's British.  And annoying) 

the Wiggles (It's the Beatles! Only dressed like Star Trek rejects who dance and sing inane songs about things kids love... like food) 

Chloe's Closet (the bossiest bitch on the planet makes all her friends play whatever dress up game SHE wants to play.  And it's British) 

Word Girl (Wouldn't be bad for older kids, but too mentally stimulating for preschoolers)

 I was going to have a list of awesome shows for your kids, but I think I'll leave that for another post.
While writing this I also realized that I am completely biased against the shows whose theme songs I hate.  Interesting....

* I have no idea who came up with the idea of 24-hour kids programming, but they deserve a medal.  Unfortunately, PBS Sprout does have commercials about payday loans and cleaning products.  It was a little creepy when my kids could quote Montel Williams from the Money Mutual ads verbatim, but I consoled myself with the fact that they were too young to steal my car and go get the loan. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You just can't argue with that logic...

Rachel is walking with a plate of plastic food.  She is heading straight for the bathroom.

Me: Umm... Rachel?  Where are you going?
Rachel: I'm going to feed Jesus cookies.
Me: Honey, Jesus isn't in the bathroom.
Rachel: But you said Jesus is everywhere.

SIGH.  Rachel: 1.  Mommy's spiritual instruction: 0

Friday, August 17, 2012

Now if only I'd had more proposals like this...

Last night at bedtime...

Eric: Mommy, I want to marry you.
Me: That's cool.  Any idea what kind of ring will you buy me?
Eric: Gold.
Me: Awesome.  What color is the stone?
Eric: Red.
Me: Ruby or Garnet?
Eric: Garnet.
Me: Hmm.. that's a little cheap...
Eric: Ruby then.
Me: Great!  So what do you think?  Spring, winter, fall, or summer wedding?
Eric: Winter.
Me: That sounds nice.  Christmas weddings are pretty.  Should we get married in the daytime or the nighttime?
Eric: Daytime.
Me: With lots of wedding cake?
Eric: Yeah...
Me: Can we dance at our reception?
Eric: Ok.
Me: So... when do you want to get married?  This year?
Eric: [Exasperated]] No, Mommy!  I have to grow up first!

Just writing down every cute thing they say before Mommy forgets... :-)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rachel waited a year for this experience...

After watching her big brother ride roller coasters in the children's area for a year, Rachel is finally tall enough to ride as well.

Photo Collage Myrtle Beach 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An impulsive stroke of genius

Last Saturday we were supposed to head down to Myrtle Beach for our annual family vacation.  This typically involves either
1) getting up at the butt crack of dawn to shepherd two sleepy preschoolers and one grouchy husband into a jam-packed car for a 9-10 hour car ride,
2) heading to my parents house on Friday in order to wake up about an hour later to drag two hyper preschoolers and one grouchy husband for a 8-9 hour carpool trip.

John always takes off from work the Friday before.  At around 10am I got a brilliant idea.

Me: Hey John...?
John: [engrossed in stuff for work on his computer] Yeah...?
Me: Why don't we leave for the beach at around noon?  We'll stop at Kings Dominion and let the kids ride some rides, then stay at a hotel outside of Richmond.  We can avoid all the traffic from DC to Richmond on 95 South.

For some reason, John let me talk him into this.  The trip from outside of Washington, DC to just north of Richmond should take just under two hours according to Google maps.  This is because Google maps is high on pot and doesn't take into account that driving on interstate 95 is about as pleasant as watching multiple episodes of Lazy Town.*  It takes *FOUR HOURS* Google, NOT two.  And that's NOT during rush hour.

But even after arriving at the amusement park after 4pm, the kids had a blast for about four hours.

This does not take into account that my daughter freaked out because she was pulled off of a children's roller coaster for being one inch too short AFTER we were already buckled into the ride.
Other than that hiccup, it was a good time.

And at around 9pm, we were all in our hotel and ready for the long car ride in the morning.

BTW- If you're looking for a hotel outside of Richmond in the 95 corridor, check out the Country Inn and Suites in Ashland, Virginia.  Beautiful hotel, good breakfast, great service.  Too bad we had kids with us. ;-)

And that usual 10 hour trip to Myrtle Beach?  It took us less than 6 hours.  We arrived a little after check-in and actually got to enjoy the beach our first day there- a first!
 This is why my kids can't wait to ride roller coasters.
(Listen to the background music: John's comments are a hoot)

We are definitely doing this next year. 

*Lazy Town is a show aimed at preschoolers where a 20-something, buff man wearing spandex comes to a town full of creepy looking puppets and befriends the only human character: a 12 year old girl.  Dear PBS/ Sprout: W.T.F??!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Last day of school

When I was a teacher I couldn't wait for summer break.  The days leading up to the last day of school were exciting, and even though I missed my "kids" every year, I was so happy to finally get a break and do adult things like traveling and not having to worry about grading papers while on a date.

Now that I have young kids, the opposite is true.  I'm far more likely to have "me time" when the kids are in school.  So today was a sad, sad day for Mommy.

It was also a sad day for Rachel.  Her favorite person in the world is her preschool teacher "Miss Lena."  Several months ago I would ask her, "Mommy or Miss Lena, Rachel?"  And she'd giggle and say, "Miss Lena!" which resulted in tickles by Mommy as I feigned shock and disappointment.  Next year Rachel won't be in Miss Lena's preschool class of the "Friendly Frogs."  I took a picture of her saying goodbye.

This is Eric's first day of freedom, or in his opinion: utter boredom.  His teacher sent him home with a CD filled with horrendous preschool songs that are likely to cause cerebral aneurysm.  Most of them make the Barney theme song sound like Alice Cooper.  I want to shoot myself when Eric brings it into the car.

During nap time today, Eric played on the ipad and I got a video of him playing a game of basic math.  I have never taught him math, and I have no idea where he learned how to do it, but the kid blew me away:

He can also read, which I am still amazed at.  He's only four!  I hope he continues to love learning once he transitions out of preschool and into standardized testing.  I would like to take credit for Eric, but as I started to read around the 1st grade I give props to John's DNA over mine. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Inevitable? Or Payback?

My daughter discovers the joy of being completely naked.  Probably because I chase her around the house with underwear and shorts in hand while she runs away, screaming like a banshee the entire time.  I call this "inevitable."  My parents laugh and call it "payback."

So even though I wasn't completely thrilled yesterday when Rachel discovered Eric's clothes, I was overjoyed to see her dressed...

... even if the end result wasn't exactly as anticipated.

At least everyone at her preschool thought it was as amusing as I did. :-)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Where does the time go?

When I first began this blog, I was struggling with a baby and was pregnant with another.  I was hopeful that if I could squeeze just 30 minutes or so from my long, blurry hours I would be rewarded with an online chronicle of those long-forgotten days of having little ones.  I also assumed that as the kids got older, I would have even more time to spend blogging.  I was even hopeful I could get a couple of scrapbook pages done every now and then. 

It's now four years later and I think time is speeding up and being stolen from me on a daily basis.  Three years ago, I had two under two.  I couldn't wait for my kids to grow up.  I thought all my problems would get easier.  Now I know the problems don't get easier, they just get larger as the children get bigger.  Oh, the wisdom all us moms could impart to anyone about to have their first child... if only we could remember what we wanted to say.

Rachel is now completely potty-trained.  There are no more diapers.  This is an amazing milestone, and I have no desire to ever go back.  I read in some mothering magazine that a woman knows when it's time to have a baby when she gets nostalgic about diapers.  Yeah.  Not happening in this house.  But there are days when I wonder what it would be like to have another child, a chance to start over and do things even better than before. 

Eric continues to be our sensitive child, always eager to please, but difficult to correct.  If you point out something he's spilled or anything he needs to improve upon, he says, "I'm sorry..." in a small, soft voice that just kills me.  He takes things so seriously, and I hope that his gentle spirit won't be crashed when he transitions from his insulated special education preschool environment to a regular kindergarten classroom.  He continues to astound me with everything he takes in and understands.  He can already read at a second grade level.  He has a way with numbers and technology and is starting to learn addition and subtraction.  He's a future engineer.  I worry he may be bored with another year of preschool.  I wonder how he will handle kindergarten.

Rachel makes us laugh yet also manages to show us every day how the teen years will truly suck.  She is beautiful, intelligent, and willfully disobedient.  John and I try daily to use positive reinforcement to get desired behavior, hoping she won't form her identity in being the "bad child" the way Eric seems to have found his in being "good."  I am reminded of the scene in "The Help" when the main character Aibileen tries to say good words over the little girl of an emotionally distant and overbearing mother, knowing she doesn't have much time to show the little girl how good and precious she is.  It reminds me of how precious my time with Rachel truly is.  She amazes us with how quickly she learns once she sets her mind to it, like potty training.  After a year of trying to get her to "go in the potty," she wouldn't use the bathroom until she decided she was ready.  When she washes her hands ("I don't want to wash my hands!"), she scrubs all the way up to the elbow.  I'm thinking, 'future surgeon.' 

I have high hopes that this summer will be one where we can get out of the house more and enjoy spending time together.  We have a water park summer pass, the local mall, and lots of indoor gyms nearby... all the necessary extras to ensure Mommy doesn't have to go on Xanax or sniff glue.   I'll let you know how that turns out...

Monday, February 13, 2012

So true... why didn't I think of writing these down...?

I intend no copyright infringement. There's a strong probability that this list has been circulating online forever, and I'm just now coming across it because my children stole my life.

But it's funny regardless. Especially #7. And #17. And I'm all for sharing laughter.

23 Adult Truths
1) Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

2) Nothing sucks worse than a moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3) I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4) There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5) How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6) Was learning cursive really necessary?

7) Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8) Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the people died.

9) I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind-of tired.

10) Bad decisions make good stories.

11) You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12) Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blu-Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection.... again.

13) I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14) I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15) I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16) I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

17) I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

18) I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

19) How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

20) I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

21) Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

22) Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the donkey- but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

23) The first tentacular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

The sad thing is I can't remember what I wanted to write...

Honestly, the past 2 months have flown by. Christmas was at my parents house again this year. But unlike in years past, both kids seemed to get the idea of Santa, especially Eric who danced euphorically when he saw a firetruck waiting for him under the tree. Also, no one got seriously ill this year, which was a major bonus! Here's a picture of Eric discovering his firetruck.

Rachel got a pony. The only pony she will ever receive as long as her mother draws breath...

Since Eric's birthday is right after Christmas, he gets a birthday party at my parents house with his cousins. He was able to finally blow out his own candles this year...

...But because Eric has a lot of friends from his preschool, he specifically asked for a Chuck E Cheese birthday party for his preschool friends. Eric cried and jumped into my arms as soon as he saw the giant rat coming to his table (Eric is on the bottom right, crying and sucking his fingers).

The video games, however, were a huge hit. Eric was afraid of the ticket machine, like a wind tunnel that blows free tickets around for the birthday boy/girl to grab. So Rachel and Daddy enjoyed it while Eric watched happily.

Now that we're out of photos... some mile-stones for the kids:

1) Eric has started throwing lovely 4 year-old tantrums. Some of the words that come out of his mouth: "Go away!"
"Ugh! You're making me embarrassed!"
Rachel can also throw some amazing tantrums on her own. I shudder when I think of the upcoming teen years... Adolescent tantrums combined with hormones! :-(

2) Rachel received a clock for Christmas that helps her know when to wake up for mornings and nap-times. It's pink with a cute sleeping cow that turns into a dancing cow in a ballet outfit for waking.
"Mommy!! The cow's awake! That silly cow..." is something that is heard repeatedly in our home. If Rachel wakes up before the cow, she will sometimes make you come upstairs with her and stare at the clock until "the cow wakes up."

3) We've gotten almost no snow this year (?!) but the kids are discovering how much fun it is to play in the rain. I have no problem with this as long as I can watch them from inside. Rachel in particular has an affinity for jumping in puddles, digging in the dirt, etc. If it gives me ten minutes of peace and quiet, I'm all for it.

4) We have tried to get Rachel potty-trained, but to no avail. She is either physically ready but not emotionally capable, or vice versa. She loves wearing underwear. She really loves the idea of getting lollipops for when she uses the toilet. She just doesn't seem to care if she goes in her pants, and she's also a bit confused about how to get stuff into the potty. She'll sit on the little frog potty for about .8 seconds before jumping up excitedly and asking for a lollipop. [Sigh]
I'm not too worried about it. I mean, it's not like she's going to start high school in diapers.

All in all, it's been a good start to the year. Sorry for not keeping up with this blog. I had a good birthday weekend in January. I'm hoping that this will be the Year of Successful Potty Training and Less Tantrums. But I may be overshooting... :-)