Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolutely Resolving

A little over a year ago I started this blog, while deep in the throes of postpartum depression, as an outlet for the stresses of motherhood.  I have been overwhelmed by the support of people from all over the world who have read the misadventures of the Tyrants. Having you appreciate my absurd existence not only saved my sanity, but possibly the lives of my children. Well done, readers!
It is true that I have stopped writing as much these last few months. Mostly because the dark of winter has stolen my soul, but also because writing a blog post with two Toddling Tyrants is actually more difficult than writing a one handed post with an infant latched to my breast while bouncing on a yoga ball.
Hard to believe, but it's true.
(My space bar also stopped working a while ago. This makes typing legible sentences challenging. I now have  new computer. With a  really un-sticky key board. That no infant hands have touched yet. It's magical. )
In honor of the one year anniversary of 2 Tiny Tyrants, and to catch up on how life has changed, I will be  writing a blog post EVERY DAY this week, starting today!
Aren't you excited?  I know I am.

So a new year starts tomorrow. This makes me happy. 2012 has been...memorable.
Out of morbid curiosity, I read my resolutions from last years. Something about being strong and positive and loving life and saying yes and doing yoga and paying off all my loans.
I totally did all that.
Ahem.
Thousand dollars of debt, one job left, another job lost, traumatizing my family by moving to the country, a violent flood, an invasion of bats, living with my mother, an oak crashing through the roof over our heads, and the long dark of a Minnesota Winter later, I know better than to make these kinds of resolutions.

Therefore, today I resolve to do the following in the next shiny year of 2013:

1. Remember to wear deodorant every day.
2. Wash my face every morning. And maybe every evening.
3. Wear makeup at least once a week with a clean non-nursing-centric shirt.
4. Go to the dentist. It's been too long. Like, years. And with all the chocolate stress eating that has gone on, well, it's time.
5. Find something Thing 2 will eat besides noodles and pickles.
6. Take one day a week and turn off the computer and read with the Tyrants. (two half days would also be acceptable.)
7. Eat more chocolate.
8. Move back to the cities.
9. Laugh around my kids more.
10. Yoga. Why not. Could happen.

Tune in tomorrow for my guest blogger!
(Hint: she is about two feet tall, sounds like a baby dragon, and recently grew her 9th tooth...)

Happy New Year and THANK YOU for reading!


 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Santa Who Shall Not Be Named

I have failed in teaching my child about the joys of the Holidays.  The only thing she has seen is the Madagascar Christmas Special which has made her believe that the name of "Santa" should never be spoken out loud. (Santa gets attacked and has amnesia. The penguins stage a coup and like to say, "Do not say Santa's name."  Very dark lord-esque.)
We attempted to take the girls into town to get their picture taken with Santa this weekend.  (In our town of 700 people, Santa is played by an old Jewish man with a truly amazing beard. I like the fact that the only Jewish person within a hundred miles spends most of his year preparing to spend December pretending to be a Christian saint.  You can't make things like that up.)  They were all clean and fed and dressed in cute dresses with pretty shoes and it seemed like the beginning of a beautiful new family tradition. Thing 1 does better if I prepare her ahead of time for these new life experiences, so as we drove down the snowy road, I casually started a dialogue about my ulterior motives.

Me:
"Maybe Santa will be at the store today, wouldn't that be fun?"
Thing 1:
"SSSSsssshhhhh, Momma. Don't talk about dat." (finger pressed tightly to her lips and eyes glazed over.)
Me:
"You know, some people believe that Santa brings them presents. We like presents, don't we?"
Thing 1:
"Shhh Shhhh SSSSSHHHH! Don't SAY that!"
Me:
"Ok. We won't talk about Santa."
Thing 1:
"You can't say that Momma, don't say that name."
Me:
"Fine. Although Santa isn't something to be scared of you know..."
Thing 1:
"SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I should have taken the clue right then and there and turned around, but somehow I hoped we would arrive and bribe her with cookies and she wouldn't even notice the jolly bearded Jewish fellow asking her what she wanted for Christmas. 
We got about two feet in the door when she laid eyes on that red velvet coat.  Her face went chalk white.  She collapsed dramatically to her knees, buried her face against my leg, her little body wracked with silent horrified sobs.  Awesome. Other children started looking nervous. What did that little girl know about that big bearded guy that they didn't? Couldn't be safe if a baby was crying like that... Other parents were giving us the death look as their offspring shifted and seemed to be contemplating bursting into tears as well. 
I half carried Thing 1 to a quiet corner.  We took a few deep breaths.  Discovered we could spy on Santa from behind the merchandise racks.  While she was willing to discuss how big his beard was and how soft his coat looked, she balked at the suggestion that we approach him again, preferring to keep a weather eye on him from her current hiding place.
Thing 2 hadn't made much of a fuss so far. She had been perched on my hip observing her sister's theatrics with a wide eyed fascinated stare.  I decided to cut my losses and just get one girl in the picture.  I casually walked up to him and sat down with Thing 2 on my lap. She glanced over, saw those spectacles and rosy cheeks and twinkly eyes and burst into tearful shrieks. Thing 2 is not a pretty crier. The photographer snapped away gleefully while I made awesome faces trying to convince Thing 2 that Santa Claus does not eat small children and she hyperventilated on my lap. Finally we left, a  trail of traumatized elves, parents, and children in our wake. 
So yeah...Christmas movies. With nothing scary.  Or overly religious. Or overly commercial. This is hard to find. There are either abominable snow monsters, or walking skeletons, or evil magicians, or green Grinchy Santas, or else they are too grown up and old fashioned. Any suggestions? What Christmas movies have you watched with your wee ones to prepare them for the magic of the holidays? 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

False Family Advertising


The plague has come to our house this week. I had a night of misery and a day of fevers (burnt out at last by the combined body heats of the Two Tyrants), and now a sick Tyrant Daddy today. The house is a mess, the laundry has piled up, we have mostly eaten noodles since no one has had energy to run to the store, or appetite to eat anything else, and I haven't showered since...errr....I'm pretty sure I showered....hmmm....awhile ago.
Today the tyrants and I were feeling much better and the sun was shining.  I knew I should be practical and productive but I just couldn't get motivated. Even though there were cheerios liberally planted in all the corners of the living room, and only one clean bottle left in a six mile radius.  I had that moment when all I wanted to do was put on mascara and some sassy boots and go somewhere where SOMEONE who I wasn't related to would see me (this is difficult in a town of 700 citizens that your family has lived in for 6 generations...).
 I threw the Tyrants into their "nice" clothes (As opposed to their "play" clothes. Actually, pretty much all our clothes are "play" clothes, but there are a few items that are always the last to get "played" in, so they are the "nice" clothes by default.  These were also the only clean clothes available.), put on boots and a happy coat, grabbed a snack or two for the girls and drove -
TO THE BANK. 
WOOHOO!!! Party time, girls!

Ok, so there isn't a lot to do in our town. We work with what we got.

When we first moved here, we were foolish enough to let Thing 1 have a candy when we went to the bank, and she has never forgotten.  As we were driving the conversation went like this:

Thing 1:
"Maybe we have a LOLLY POP, Momma? Maybe they have one for ME? Maybe?"
Me: (lying)
"Ooooo, I don't know if they have any lollypops, Honey. We'll just have to see, ok?  Here, why don't you eat this carrot stick instead?"
Thing 1:
"Ooooo! Dat sounds good! Thank you Mommy! One for Mia, too?"
Me:
"Yes, I have one for Mia too."

And so it was that I pulled into the drive thru window with two clean, well dressed toddlers, happily chewing on carrot sticks in a clean car (not mine, I was borrowing my sister's), while I (in my mascara and lip gloss brilliance) filled out my deposit slip.

Bank Teller:
"Oh, look at you girls! Eating so healthy! What a healthy snack!"
Me:
"Well, we try sometimes."
Bank Teller:
"Aren't you girls just sooooo cute!"
Me:
"They can be...sometimes..."  
Bank Teller:
"What a good Momma you have girls!" (sending out deposit slip)
Thing 1:
"HMmammmaaa LLLlollllppppaa?" (Hey Momma, do they have a lollypop? through a mouthful of carrot.)
Me:
"Ah, thank you! Say thank you girls! Thank you! Ba-bye!"

Somehow it is comforting to know that even though I am sitting here still unshowered, with at least twelve thousands loads of laundry waiting to be done in the morning, and a sleep walking teething toddler fussing in the room next door, that there is another human being in the area who witnessed me being a good mother for a brief moment in time - even if it was false advertising. (And she might have been a second cousin... )

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fill in the Oval


Life in the country has started falling into a rhythm. The quiet no longer feels so oppressive. The trips to town are few and far between.  The liquor store owner up the road never cards me and asks after my parents.  Life is good, if not ideal. 
And then election day came.
Normally, in the city, election day meant walking two blocks, flashing my ID, maybe registering if I wasn't already, and filling in some circles. Maybe an hour, and four years ago I didn't have any children to worry about.
While I grew up in the country, I had never voted while residing here since I was the girl who hopped on a train when I was 18 and never really looked back. 
Out here in the sticks (an hour from anywhere) they do something called "absentee ballot", which means you are sent your ballot in the mail, fill it out with a witness, and mail it off. 
Well, you have to register in advance for that to work. And we, of course, hadn't yet. 
So this morning I googled "polling places in Minnesota when you live an hour from anywhere", only to discover that it wasn't at the little tiny town up the road, but even farther, to the "big town" which was, of course, an hour from us.  Fine, Tyrant Daddy and I thought, we can do that. We just needed our ID's and a piece of mail proving where we lived, right? 
Except I couldn't find my ID. ANYWHERE. I interrogated Thing 1 who made her most innocent Puss-in-Boots face and pleaded the fifth. Finally I found an old college era driver's license where I was surprisingly wrinkle and dark circle free. At this point I was committed. There was no going back.  The diaper bag was packed. I would have to do the best I could.  
As we were putting on our coats, our conversation went something like this:
"Did Tyrant Daddy have his ID?" 
"Yup."
"It wasn't expired too, was it? Haha!"
"Haha...errrrrr....shit."
Turns out his birthday had come and gone and so had his valid license. 
We almost quite. Right then and there. Said  to hell with it, what will two votes matter one way or another? 
But I couldn't do it. And neither could he. Because I looked at my Tiny Tyrants in all their glory, and I realized that the future MATTERED to me too much to just let it slide.
So we loaded them up. Drove an hour. Praised the creator of the portable DVD player. Went to the courthouse. Went to the wrong floor. Found the right floor. Got some forms. Casually mentioned we might have expired ID's. Got the squint eye from the lady at the counter. Was informed we needed VALID ID's. Got sent to the DMV down the road. Filled out more forms. Took some pictures. The DMV lady glanced at me in my amazing thrift store beret, frizzy hair poking out in all directions, raccoon eyes and ruddy cheeks, and then casually asked if I wanted to just make a duplicate rather than renew since my old picture was REALLY nice. I mentioned how I had gotten dressed up JUST for this occasion, but I supposed I could wait until it expired. Then I ran after Thing 1 who was piling  pillows from the waiting room couch on the floor, and then flinging herself into them because she was a "dragon! See how I fly like a dragon, Momma!" while Thing 2 planted herself in front of the magazine rack and systematically hurled driving manuals and copies of Motorcycle weekly all over the room. 
Then we were back in the car (Toddlers REALLY love getting in and out of their car seats, have you noticed that?) and BACK to the courthouse, where Thing 1 informed us that she was tired of paperwork and wanted to take a nap. Tyrant Daddy opted to stay with her, so Thing 2 and I bounded up the marble stairs. Thing 2 attempted to infiltrate the offices of the city while I did more paperwork, and then finally I was in a little blue booth, Thing 2 firmly planted on my feet while she chewed on my purse and emptied credit cards and diapers onto the floor. (I didn't want to hold her after that talk about "fill each oval in ALL THE WAY". Ever tried to fill in a tiny oval accurately while a one year old attempts to eat your pen? Tricky.)
Then I was DONE. 
We traded places with Tyrant Daddy. I let the Tyrants run wild in the car until he returned. In his hand was a yellow sheet of paper. Apparently while he was filling out HIS forms someone came up the stairs  and said they had found it in the hall. He asked if it had my name on it. It did. It was my newly acquired $13.00 worth of proof that I was me and I looked like me and I lived where I live, which I had let fall out of my pocked while flying Thing 2 down the stairs like an airplane so her screams sounded more happy and less undead. 
I can't imagine why I couldn't find my original ID, my life is SOOOOO organized. Sigh.
We praised our surprisingly cooperative Tyrants, and headed home. 
I must say, it was the most arduous voting process I have ever endured, but it WAS WORTH IT. Taking control of my life and my future,  one Tyrant adventure at a time. 





Friday, September 21, 2012

It's all in the timing

I remember reading about how the optimum sibling spacing was 3 to 4 years. The reasons listed were things like less competitive siblings, giving the mother's body time to recover before being leached of all nutrients again, etc.
 I took all those facts into consideration, and then decided I would rather get this new baby business over with in one fell swoop.  If I ever stopped changing diapers I was pretty convinced I would never, EVER want to start again. 
I have come to realize, however, that the list of pros and cons was incomplete.
For example, if those books had informed me that at least once a week I would be stripping a poopy diaper off of Thing 1 while Thing 2 was busy dipping her teething toy in the toilet water, or pulling open the cleaning cupboard to see if comet cleaner tasted as good as it smelled, and that every night would involve two sleepless babies, and that waiting until your first child can dress themselves and clean themselves and feed themselves means you can DO a lot more activities a lot more easily,  I might have reconsidered.
These sort of moments also happen at super markets: like when I forgot my credit card and was trying to write a check while holding Thing 2, who was systematically seizing my pen and hurling it to the ground with a victorious banshee shriek, while her sister darted from one open checkout aisle to the next attempting to push buttons, open candy bars, answer phones, and sweep floors. There is usually a line of 5 disapproving grandmothers, and 4 annoyed business men behind me when this happens. I can feel the judgement bouncing off my back as I walk out holding one giggling toddler upside down over my shoulder with two bags of groceries and a shrieking mini-toddler on my opposite hip.
It doesn't help that Thing 1 looks and talks like a 4 or 5 year old.  I feel like pinning a sign on her shirt saying, "I AM ONLY 2 YEARS OLD. PLEASE TAKE THIS INTO CONSIDERATION."
Even I forget sometimes.  I am so distracted meeting the needs of an early walking/nursing/teething/signing mini-toddler that I expect Thing 1 to be the "big girl".
All I can hope is that they will be BEST friends when they are 25 and 27, rolling their eyes at how weird their mom is.  That would be optimal.

The Awe and The Wonder


The other night, Thing 2 was finally asleep, and a very tired Thing 1 had just been tucked into bed.  I sat by her bed, and talked about the day, and what she is going to dream about (flying in the clouds with dragons and Kipper the Dog). She was staring half asleep into the distance, her buzzing internal energy mellowing to a soft hum, her face peaceful in the glow of the nightlight as she hugged her stuffed dog. As I looked at her, I suddenly had one of those strange revelation moments as I fully thought about the fact that she was my daughter. This beautiful child with her wild blonde hair and her huge eyes and her ridiculous cackle of a laugh. The 2 year old that can tell you about molecules and dinosaurs and wants to know what a horizon is. I felt like the last time I really LOOKED at her was over a year ago, before I was pregnant with Thing 2, when she was just starting to walk and talk and was in love with her bears at the zoo.  I was overwhelmed with this feeling that I had missed the last year and half of her life. While I had been distracted by morning sickness and postpartum and a newborn and working and moving, she had become someone new. 
Then I realized: It's happening! I am missing the little baby stage! I am thinking 'wow that went fast! I need to treasure these moments!'  
It was a strangely melancholy feeling.
I sat there until she fell asleep, just staring at her face, trying to make sense of how this amazing person could have come out of me, and now be so separately and entirely her own self.
Before I know it she will be in school and then college and then off on her own. 
Sigh.
(I totally can't wait!)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Metaphysical Toddlers

Conversations with a precocious two year old go something like this:
"Where does milk come from, Mama?"
"I don't know, where does milk come from?"
"Milk comes from cows, Mama! Where does cows come from, Mama?"
"From mama cows."
"Where do clothes come from, Mama, where do clothes COME from?"
"Clothes are made in factories out of fabric."
"What is FABRIC Mama?"
"Fabric is made from threads we get from plants and animals."
"Where do animals come from?"
"Momma and daddy animals make baby animals, and those grow up and make more animals."
"Like Mia?"
"Sure, yes, like Mia."
"Where does WATER come from, Mama?"
"Water that we drinks comes out of the ground in pipes."
"Oh.  But where does water COME from Mama?"
"Water goes up to the clouds as vapor, and then rains down, and goes back into the ground, and comes back up in pipes.  That's called the 'water cycle'. "
"Da water cyyycle. But what IS water, Mama?"
"Well, water is made up of Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules."
"OXYGEN  is an el-u-ment!"
"(what?!) Very good sweetie."
"Where does OXYGEN come from Mama?! Where does OXYGEN COME FROM?"
...
"That is a really good question honey. Go ask your dad."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Making People

A very sweet young man who has never been around children (and has been over-exposed to mine since our arrival in the country) has seemed disturbed and confused by the fact that Thing 1 continues to do bad things even after I have told her not to.  
For example, Old Kitty is sadly now Very-Frail-Not-Long-for-This-World-Please-Don't-Touch-Him-Or-Else-He-Might-Break Kitty. Which means that her favorite kitty is suddenly off limits and not to be bothered. Or hugged. Or picked up. Or pushed. Or scared. Or spoken loudly around. This is hard for a small Tyrant to understand, and as a result she hears, 
"Be gentle to kitty! Gentle! Leave him alone! Don't touch the kitty!" around a million times a day. 
After the ten thousandth time, this young man just shook his head and looked at me, 
"Why does she do that? I mean, what's the point? You've told her not to. She knows she'll get in trouble. WHY does she keep doing it?"
Errrrrr.....
This got me thinking about the intensive training it takes to make babies into fully functioning human beings.  I have come to the conclusion that repetition is the main tool. 
For example, when  my toddler sweetly states, "Thank YOU!" when you hand her her juice, that is the result of being prompted a hundred times a day for several years before her first voluntary response. 
Do you see how she is resisting pulling everything off of all the shelves in her reach? We worked on that for probably a year straight, starting when she first became mobile. Every day all the DVD's and books were on the floor dozens of times. Then we would pick them up. And I would say, "Don't pull the DVD's down. NO." She would nod solemnly - and then do it again a half an hour later just incase maybe the rules had changes.
Not all children are quite as stubborn as mine. Some babies hear, "NO!" and their world ends and they never EVER want to hear it again so they behave like little angels.
( I have only heard rumors of these children, please, if you see one, send me a pictures so I know they are real.)
Children like mine push boundaries constantly because they want to do and know and experience EVERYTHING. RIGHT NOW. Which is wonderful and exhausting and challenging and means that I will be telling her the same things OVER and OVER and OVER again for many years.
I guess as a mommy I have to look at the long term results of this training, and not focus on the short term repeated offenses.    

As to why does she do the bad things she does? Best I can guess it's because becoming a person is fucking hard work. Similar to the time commitment needed to learn a foreign language while training for the olympics and preparing for life on a space station. 
It is good to remember how hard it all is when a little person is behaving badly.  
It's probably not just because they are evil little minions.  
(Probably...)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Favorite Things Friday!

Just to prove that I am not always sarcastic and cynical, with a hint of dry humor, I am going to start posting some of my random FAVORITE THINGS! Which could be anything.  Maybe pictures of my kids. Maybe pictures of unicorns. Maybe baby stuff. Maybe grown up stuff. Who knows! It's a magical surprise!  Wooohoooo!!
This week I discovered the amazing music videos for "They Might Be Giants" songs such as Meet the Elements:





Thanks to them Thing 1 routinely will ask me to sing about helium, planets, and spectrums before bed. 

So if you are a parent who wants your kid to be smarter, or know a kid who should be smarter, or are a grown up who drew pictures and spaced out during chemistry class, these  guys are for YOU!  HAPPY FRIDAY!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Red Alert

If at some point in your life your diabolical children are sitting quietly, playing together like little angels, while educational television hums soothingly in the background,  you may think: 
Hey! I bet I could sit down for a minute and check my email for the first time today and maybe just let my high red alert simmer to a pleasant yellow.
When this happens, don't do it. Just. Don't. 
Because as soon as your back is turned someone (Thing 1, I'm looking at you...)  is going to find the one colored pencil you missed when you grabbed them from Thing 2's grasp earlier before she could shove them down her throat. (It will be the red one.  It's always the red one.)  Then they will systematically cover as many square inches of your parent's new plasma flat screen TV with intricate scribbles and designs. Even if it means scaling the wall of toy pianos, lego wagons, small stools, and rocking horses you have carefully constructed around it.
Yeah, it's not worth those five minutes of semi-relaxation that you desperately needed.  The time-out and scolding are going to be at least 15 minutes total. The cleanup from Thing 2 dumping the last dredges of your coffee cup all over the table while you were disciplining her sister will cost you another 10. Not to mention the frantic wiping off of the TV before your mom sees it so that you can at least pretend to be a good parent.  
Don't get lulled into a false sense of security. 
They are waiting for you to show weakness.
Don't let your guard down.
Be vigilant. 
Be ready. 


Luckily they are also amazingly cute. 
Look how cute this kid is. Seriously. 
(Don't fall for it.  She's up to something...)











Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thy Mother's Name in Vain

For the last few days I have been waking up to a tiny hand patting my face as a new little voice lisps sleepily, "MaMA mama MAma MAMA Mamamamamama!"  
Thing 2 has spoken her first words! They make me smile before my eyes have even opened. No matter how brutal the night, no matter how many marathon hours of teething-baby-nursing I have sat awake for, nope, doesn't matter. She said my name sweetly therefore I love her.

It has made me think of that old quote, 
"Mother is the name for god in the lips and hearts of little children." 
-William Makepeace Thackeray Vanity Fair

(When I first read this I was young and single and thought, "Whoa, that is so deep and beautiful.  Mothers are so powerful and strong and worship-deserving." This was before I realized that while Mothers are indeed powerful and strong and worship-deserving, they are also fucking tired burnt out exhausted needing of showers and drinks.  Still. It's a nice quote.) 

However, being the "god" of children has it's downside. Thing 2 is in that new convert stage of awe and devotion. I provide her with the miraculous booby-juice and 24 hour care. I wipe her little bum, I bounce her to sleep. I am, if I do say so myself, fairly awesome. And since she is doing very little wrong just yet, I am also very benevolent. 
Thing 1, on the other hand, is in that disillusioned stage of a devotee. She wants more from her god than just cuddles. She wants Popsicles. And ponies. And sometimes hot air balloon rides. When god doesn't answer the way she wants, she is not very happy. Apparently her god has some rules and requirements for all this bounty. When she disobeys, well, she gets a little fire and brimstone action. 
She is also realizing that she has options. She can make choices about obeying or disobeying. Maybe she doesn't need a god. After all, she can reach high shelves and climb on chairs and open doors and count to twenty and tell you all about 4 out of 7 planets. She is reaching demi-god status herself.  As a result, she has started using the name of her god with a little less reverence than before:
"MOM! Mooooooom! MOMEEEEEE!!!! MOM! MOM! MOM! Mommy! MOMMY! MOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!"
 It can be like sandpaper on my eardrums. There are days, I have to admit, that I absolutely hate that word.
But then after a really rough day, Thing 1 will find me, crawl into my lap, frame my face so gently with her tiny hands and whisper, "Mamma. I love you. I love my Mama."
My heart will melt, and just like that she is a tiny baby again lisping my name for the first time.  I play my role of long suffering parent to my prodigal daughter, and hug her, and kiss her, and tell her I love her too.
And forgive her for all the times she has taken my name in vain. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Target Love





I went to TARGET!


But in true Tyrant fashion, all did not go as planned.


The night before our grand trip was scheduled, we discovered that our attic apartment is home to not one, not two, but dozens and dozens of bats. They had just moved in and were really REALLY happy to be there. Happy enough to poop all over and have lots of babies who scratched and squeaked and stunk of guano all day.  Oh joy. (We sealed up the roof and Tyrant Daddy stayed up until 5:30 in the morning catching the stragglers that clawed their way out of the ceiling while I sheltered our Tiny Tyrants. *shudder*)


So after a uber-strong pot of coffee, a long morning nap and a late start, we were on our way.  The girls were good on the 45 minute drive to the nearest thriving metropolis, and we spotted a McDonald's (don't judge) and decided to stop. We were letting Thing 1 burn off some steam in the play area when I saw it - The Poop Face. At this point she was in the last clean diaper we had with us.


"Hold it! Don't poop!" I cried, scooping her up and swooping through bemused McDonald's customers to the restroom.  Once we were in a stall I quickly peeled off her shorts and diaper. Only to realize, too late, that the diaper was full of an amazing amount of liquid feces, which were now slowly leaking over the sides and onto the bathroom floor. 


Thing 1 blinked at me and said solemnly, "I'm all done Momma. I all done pooping."


I sighed. "Yes. I can see that."


I cleaned her, placed her in a corner of the stall, and proceeded to wipe poo off the floor with industrial grade cardboardesque toilet paper while trying not to vomit up my recently consumed fast food lunch. Mostly because I would just have to clean the floor again.
Since we were out of diapers, Thing 1 got to go starkers under her shorts on the quick trip across town to Target while I chanted, "Don't Pee! You aren't wearing a diaper! DO NOT PEE!" at every stoplight.


The rest of the trip went like this:
Into store.
Buy diapers.
Put diaper on butt.
Return to shopping. 
Tyrant Daddy, "Did you bring the list?"
Me, "What list?"
Tyrant Daddy, "Didn't we need anything besides diapers?"
Me, "Ummmmm....probably?
Wander around in an exhausted daze picking up and putting down random objects.
Realize that Thing 1 is falling asleep in the cart.
Head back to the checkout. 
Can't find our credit card. 
Tyrant Daddy goes looking for the card. 
I immediately find the card after he leaves. 
Tyrant Daddy takes the bags to the car while I change girls.
I realize that I am holding an infant and have no where to put her while I check my toddler's diaper. 
I finally precariously balance both of them on the Koala changing station.  Totally safe. No one dies.
Tyrant Daddy considerately pulls up to the front of the store. 
I don't realize this and spend 15 minutes wandering around the parking lot with two babies wondering if I am losing my mind.
We find the car.
I feed Thing 2.
Thing 1 nodded off.
Thing 2 starts screaming.
I spend the next 45 minutes wedged between the carseats keeping Thing 2 quiet so her sister can sleep.


I learned a few things from this day:


Don't eat at McDonalds. 
Always bring extra diapers. 
Never drop a diaper until you have checked the contents.


I still love Target.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

ABBA for the Win


Tonight, after an early dinner, I realized I needed to kill 2 hours before bedtime with a restless infant whose only goal in life is to walk, and a sleepless toddler whose only goal in life is to destroy EVERYTHING.  Crap.
Thing 1, besides being culture-shocked (she occasionally stops and stares at me with haunted eyes and says things like "Remember da OLD house, Momma?  Remember our ALLEY? You walked with me in it with the CARS. Remember dat?" causing me to be wracked with guilt and homesickness)  has also started skipping her nap.  On top of that, the great mosquito hatching has begun here in Minnesota, making playing outside a nightmare and causing Thing 2's face to swell up with a dozen red bumps. Which means we have been hiding in our new attic apartment surrounded by boxes slowly going bat-shit-crazy.
In desperation I dodged tiny mosquito bombs, piled the girls into the car, and drove the 6 miles to the nearest park and playground.  We made the rounds of swings and slides, played with our new best friends of the hour, and started feeling a little better.
The playground is across the street from the local dive (naturally), in this case called The Log Cabin Bar (classy, classy joint), which was blaring country and classic rock hits so that the three drunks on the patio could dance. Entertaining and harmless background noise.  
Until ABBA came on. (See ABBA, ABBA Everywhere post for reference)
Thing 1 froze.  
A huge smile spread across her face.
She gave an ecstatic shout from across the playground,
"MOMMA! Dat's da Momma Mia SONG!!!" 
She threw herself off of the teeter totter, grabbed my hand, and said rapturously, "DANCE with me, Momma! Let's DANCE!!"
So we rocked out to Dancing Queen in the middle of the play ground, Thing 2 cackling gleefully in her Bjorn, Thing 1 busting out her best disco moves, with the setting sun casting long shadows through the grove of century old pine trees, and suddenly I knew that no matter where we were or what crap we were wading through, everything was was going to be OK.  Because we are always, ALWAYS going to rock out to ABBA, whenever and wherever it's playing.  And that makes us special.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

"NO!"

Two year olds have a hard time processing major life changes.
Instead of saying, "Hey, this is weird that you have totally upset everything that I am familiar with and taken me away from the only home I can remember. I am having a hard time adjusting and am feeling sad and anxious," they start scratching anything with skin that gets within their reach.
As a result, there has been a lot of "NO!" going on the last few days.
Thing 1 attempts to lift Old Kitty by the tail while Old Kitty is trying to eat dinner - "NO!"
Thing 1 tips over her sister who is just starting to pull herself up on everything - "NO!"
Thing 1 drinks large gulp of juice, gargles it, grins at me, and let's it dribble all over her shirt - "NO!"
Thing 1 goes in to kiss Tyrant Daddy and instead head butts him on the bridge of his nose - "NO!"
Thing 1 locks herself in the bathroom - "NO!"
Thing 1 drinks a half a cup of coffee - "NO!"
This much negative enforcement (lots of talking down, talking up, bribing, positive reinforcement, and occasional time out included) takes a toll on my brain. I don't want to once again explain to my child that hitting is wrong and we need to be gentle. I want her to remember when I explained it twenty minutes ago.


This morning she looked at me after a very firm "NO!" for deliberately dumping a bag of cheerios on the floor and said,
 "Ooooooh, I make Mama SAD. My fault. It's MY FAULT again!"in completely faked remorseful tones.
Which made me laugh out loud and completely defeated the power of my "NO!"


Then, this afternoon, we had a truly grueling series of "NO!"s:
"Momma! Want a chip!"
"NO!"
"Momma! Want to ride da cow!"
"NO!"
"Momma! NEED a popsicle!! I NEED IT!"
"NO!"
"Momma! I push MIA! It's FUNNY! It IS!"
"NOOOOO!!!"


As we were washing our hands after a diaper change, she looked at me and said,
"Momma! Want to brush my teeth!"
And I naturally replied,
"NO!"
"Momma, PLEASE. My teeth are FUZZY. Please brusha' my teeth?"
"NO!"
Pause.
Did I just tell my child not to practice good dental hygiene? Hmmm....
"Ok. You can brush your teeth.  THIS time."
Nice save.


Sometimes, even in the midst of a tidal wave of negativity, there may just be a good idea. It's important not to get overwhelmed so that I don't automatically say "NO!" and miss out.
After all, maybe tomorrow she will want to pee on the toilet, eat all her healthy food, go down for a nap without complaint, clean the windows, and take a bath on her own.
In which case, I can switch it up with a resounding,
 "YES!!!"



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Green Acres


Well, I have officially been living in the country for a week.
For those of you who don't know, I was born in the country. In fact, I was born about 20 feet from where I am currently sitting.  I lived here for 18 years being angsty and stir crazy and loving/hating it.
Then I became an adult, travelled, went to college, and moved to where people do things, a place called "the cities".
It was a magical land, and I loved it.
And then I had babies, and our neighborhood had drive by shootings, and we had layoffs and dead end jobs and too much debt and too little time and money.
So we said, fuck it, lets get outta dodge.
The first place we thought to go was the farm.
Where my parents still live.
In a giant ancient farmhouse with it's fairly new addition that has been new for about a decade now and is still not done.
They are giving us the attic to rennovate/turn into a respectable apartment.
We are working on that.
And by working on, I mean I still haven't found where all my pajamas are hiding in the grand mountainous ranges that are my material possessions stacked all over the room.
The official story is that we moved up here for health and to help start a sustainable goods company.
It's a good story. It's even true. And it sounds so much better than, "I burnt out after having 2 kids and working full time and trying to keep up with the Joneses and attempting to be an artist in a competitive market, so instead I had a nervous break down and am now living in my mother's attic with my 2 Tiny Tyrants and my Latin Lover (Tyrant Daddy is Puerto Rican.  From New York. He must love me.)
Which is also true.  And probably a more provocative story. Oooooo, drama!
So far parenting in the country has consisted of explaining why Old Kitty (Yup, that's his name. I can't remember what we tried to name him when we got him 18 years ago. I think it might have been "Mittens"...) is often seen with small furry rodents dangling out of his mouth. Sometimes he sneaks them inside and presents them to us at dinner. "What a Good Kitty!" says Grandma.
Facts of life kid, facts of life.
We also had a talk about how dirty baby chicken hay is not to be thrown into the air and danced under in some sort of pagan ritual. Even if the farm dog brings it to you in his mouth like a nice little present. Nope, poopy hay is just not appropriate confetti. Even in the country.
Also, we need to check babies hair every night for wood ticks. Wood ticks can bite you and make you sick.
Ah, quaint and rustic. The simple life.
However, there has been no drive by shootings, both babies have been running free on acres of land with hardly a street sign in sight, usually naked, since that is how we roll, and I am finally starting to get over my daily Target-stop withdrawals.
( One vast improvement from my childhood: wireless internet. Thank the gods. )



Monday, May 28, 2012

Disastrous Day

 I was wearing just my underwear and nursing tank top, standing in front of my computer this morning, waffling between putting some pants and shoes on and moving boxes (We're moving to the country...there should really be some blogging about this. Put that on a list somewhere...), eating food (totally overrated), reading about fake documentaries on the possibility of mermaids (super important), or writing a blog about my disastrous birthday yesterday.
Blog WON!  I am perched on Serenity, the yoga ball, pants-less, while Thing 1 places monkey stickers on my hairy legs (pretending they are band-aids and she is a nurse - "This will pinch just a liiiiitttle bit"), and listening to Thing 2 possibly choking in the living room. Thing 2 has started crawling. Well, inching. And EATING. EVERYTHING. Kid, you are not 2 years old, stop being an over achiever. It's about the journey.
Anyway, yesterday was my BIRTHDAY! I am one of those people who gets excited about my birthday. Even if I don't have a party, or presents. Even if my mom forgets to call me (happened once. hey, she has six kids, a lot of her brain has been slowly eaten by us.), and all I do is sit in my house all day. I still get excited. It's MY day. MINE!  The DAY I WAS BORN!  Hurrah!
It was just Tyrant Daddy and I all weekend, since Nauntie was out of town. We were going to start the festivities on Saturday night. Tyrant Daddy had bought my favorite kind of cake and I was going to let myself have a beer after the Tyrants went down for the night. We tried not to talk about our plans in front of them, but they have spies everywhere.  Somehow, they knew.
Thing 1 fell asleep while Daddy read to her, but Thing 2, my "good" baby, decided to sleep so restlessly that if I even shifted my weight her little eyes popped open and she gave her best baby dinosaur wail.  So. Hanky Panky was out.  Candle-lit cake and drinks were out. At midnight, Tyrant Daddy managed to feed me a couple bites of cake.  We laughed it off, made plans for how great the next day was going to be, and crashed.
....or not.
Every hour Thing 2 started screaming. Thing 1 stayed firmly wedged against my spine, and at 6:00 AM woke me up, huge eyes just inches from mine , to tell me about "da hole in da wall, and da DOC-TOR WHOOOO and coming in the door with da ROBOT" (No, I don't let my child watch Dr. Who, so I have no idea where this came from.)
We staggered through morning coffee and our run around the block.  Tyrant Daddy had to leave me briefly and the day was heating up, so we locked ourselves in the AC.  Then nap time came around. And no one wanted to nap. All the usual madness happened, and the house looked like a post-apocalyptic movie set. Finally, FINALLY, two hours later than usual, the Things slept.
I decided to attempt a nap too. I was just about to drop off, when I heard something at the front door.
Crap.
Tyrant Daddy didn't have his keys.
The front door was dead-bolted.
Yup. Crap.
I was trying to ease away from sleeping Thing 2 so I could open the door, when I heard Thing 1 give a heart wrenching scream from the other room.
"MOMMA!  Der's a funny noise! MOMMA! A NOISE AT DA WINDOW!"
Resourceful Tyrant Daddy had gone around to the bedroom window that is easiest to open from the outside and had traumatized our child. Good to know that Thing 1 makes a good intruder alert.
There was no more sleeping. And Tyrant Daddy had thrown out his back that morning. So there was gimpy-wounded-man and two screaming babes populating my home.  Still, I refused to give up on my day.  We managed to play in the paddling pool. Tyrant Daddy managed to clean the rotting wasteland of my kitchen and cook an amazing dinner. Maybe tonight? After kids were asleep? Maybe? Beer and cake and...?
Bedtime came. Thing 1 remembered she could reach the light switch now. Just when I thought she was asleep I heard little thump thump thump "I turna da lights on!"  Awesome.
Finally, Thing 2 was asleep  in Daddy's arms. Thing 1 was throwing a masterful tantrum, demanding as she has been for days that she get to snuggle with me. All I wanted to do was be stern mom, tell her "NO!" and that she needed to be a BIG GIRL now, and go to sleep on her own, because I was TIRED and CRABBY and it was my BIRTHDAY damn it, I should be wearing a pretty dress and drinking champagne and dancing with Tyrant Daddy and laughing about getting too old, not wearing my vomit stained pajama pants from the night before, and feeling every second as old as I am. and trying to function on around 4 hours of sleep.
But I looked at her little sad eyes and picked her up, gave her a bottle, and rocked her like I used to, and haven't done in a long time.
She burrowed her face in my arm, sighed, and fell fast asleep. Sometimes I forget that she is only 2 years old. She is so smart, so expressive, so advanced in language, such a good big sister, that it is hard to remember that she is just a baby herself.
I stumbled out of the room and stared blearily at Tyrant Daddy. I looked at my beer. Thought about drinking it. Decided I was too tired, and went to bed.
I will just save up all the fun I DIDN'T have this year, and in some future year I will USE it to make that day even MORE FUN. Yeah. 'Cause one thing about getting older that I am realizing is that Life is/can be Long.   And also that Life is/can be Shorter than we expect. And in either case, it is really important to be in the moment and not hold onto expectations.
So....CHEERS to ME! I lived another year! I made another human being in that year!
And I bet this year will be EVEN BETTER (I don't think it can be worse)!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Day of the Mother

I think someone forgot to explain to my infant and toddler just what the point of Mother's Day is. Here is how it's gone so far.
4:00ish AM Thing 1 has a nightmare and a wet diaper and crawls into bed, creating a classic Mom Sandwich. This is the third time tonight, so Tyrant Daddy gives up on sleeping in his alloted 6 inches of mattress and goes to sleep in Thing 1's bed.
6:30ish AM Thing 2 wakes me up to nurse.
7:30 AM Thing 1 wakes me up to ask me if I remember when the "owie fell out of Mia's bellybutton. REMEMBER DAT?" Yes, yes  I do.
7:45 AM Girls roll around on bed being cute.  I decide that I do love them after all.
Tyrant Daddy makes me coffee. I decide that I love him too.
8:00 AM Tyrant Daddy let's me take a shower. By myself. This is a good present.
8:10 AM As I get out of the shower I hear Thing 2 shrieking like a baby nazgul, so I nurse her half naked so that she will stop thinking we are trying to kill her.
8:15 AM We realize Tyrant Daddy forgot to buy diapers yesterday, which gives us about an hour before it will be imperative to run to Target.
8:30 AM Thing 1 gets into the feminine products in the bathroom and leaves them opened all over the living room. I think this is slightly funny. Tyrant Daddy is horrified.
8:45 AM Thing 1 wants to throw all her training pants out the open bedroom window. I threaten her with various punishments while changing Thing 2's diaper. She decides that although she isn't convinced I would follow through, it is better safe than sorry and refrains. I still haven't put on pants.
9:00 AM Thing 2 eats cereal and manages to rub it into her eyes and my hair.
9:10 AM Angelina Ballerina and a bouncy chair are allowing me to sit down and write for the first time in weeks.  I now have pants on (although my children do not, being born nudists), semi-dry hair, a mostly empty cup of coffee, and Tyrant Daddy is getting ready to go to the store.
....and Thing 1 just spilled corn chips all over the floor and is proceeding to eat them very daintily. Time to run!
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mothers: the New Werewolves


A guest blog by Nauntie:

While contemplating the vast quantity of urban fantasy fiction I have been consuming, I was struck by an odd and hilarious realization -  Mothers are the New Werewolves.

Physical changes: muscles splitting, ribs stretching, raging hormones, mood swings, ravenous appetite, and subsequent exhaustion.

Heightened senses: From hearing (knowing the baby is awake before the sound registers over the monitor) to smell (knowing the baby has pooped with one whiff)  to sight (yes, that blur was your child dashing for the open bathroom door) these are essential for the survival of you and your children.

Dominance Competitions:  From staring down a mutinous two year old demanding a popsicle, to the delicate politics of interacting with other parents/child care providers on the playground, it is survival of the fittest out there.  Eat or be eaten.

Self-control:  At a time when your patience is being tried as it never has before, your temper lurking just beneath the surface, you must also learn sublime control because you are surrounded by beings a lot smaller and more fragile than you are use to.

Indestructibility:  A small helpless thing needs you.  No more sickness or pain for you.  Not allowed.

Full Moon Affect:  Pay attention.  From gibbous to full the craziness of parents and children increases.  It's true.

So next time you are tempted to be annoyed with an adult with small children around them or wonder at their odd behavior, please take a moment to consider - how would I react to a werewolf in this situation?  It might just save your life.