Archive for the ‘The Rest’ Category

Several Truths And One Big Lie About Mother’s Day

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

I did not have an excellent Mother’s Day. I’m not saying that to make my family feel bad or shame anyone. I’m saying that because there’s a pretty good chance YOU didn’t have an excellent Mother’s Day either and I want you to know you’re not alone. Those perfect, smiling, happy families on Instagram and Twitter probably didn’t have flawless Mother’s Days either. They might have had a very nice day. A spectacular day. But it was not perfect – perfect is the lie. Kids – even kids big enough to understand the concept of Mother’s Day – don’t stop being kids just because it’s the second Sunday in May. Not once has saying “But it’s Mother’s Day!!” to a tantruming child solved the problem. They do not suddenly stop being tired or hungry or frustrated and pull a bouquet of flowers out from behind their back and say “Oh dear mother, I had simply forgotten! Shall I fetch you a coffee or a glass of wine?” If that is your life, Mother’s Day or not, I hate you.

The problem as I see it is that Mother’s Day is supposed to be Special and things that are supposed to be Special just lead to disappointment. That is why women become bridezillas about their One Special  Wedding Day and freak out that every single second doesn’t go according to plan. The pressure of that ONE DAY is just too much. Mother’s Day is the ONE DAY a year we are supposed to be indulged and pampered and appreciated above ALL the other days. Sleeping in and breakfast in bed and champagne brunch and a family picnic and a manicure and a relaxing nap and a romantic dinner date and a thoughtful gift and a homemade card and flowers and a bottle of wine. If you family really loves you, they will do all of that. Except no, they won’t. And even if you don’t really need them to…even if you try really really hard to keep your expectations super low…even if you say “I will be happy if all I get is a card the kids made at school”…it’s hard to stare into the face of social expectations and be OK with not having a perfect day.

I actually would have had a pretty good Sunday if it had just been a Sunday. I got to lie in bed for an extra hour. My husband picked up lunch for all of us. I got to buy and plant flowers with the kids. And we finished the day by having s’mores for dinner on the newly cleaned patio. But I also did laundry and dishes and changed diapers and made decisions (ugh, DECISIONS) and dealt with tantrums and took the kids with me to run errands and bought paper towels. I really didn’t want to have to buy paper towels on Mother’s Day.

Let me tell you what I really want for Mother’s Day. I want to be a dad on a regular Sunday. I’m making generalizations here for the sake of simplicity, but in my social circle moms are almost always the default parent; the one the kids go to first for everything no matter who is closer/more available at that moment. On Mother’s Day, I want to be the dad. The fun parent. I want to say “Everyone jump in the car, we’re getting ice cream!” and not worry about if it’s too close to dinner or if we need to stop at the grocery store later to pick up stuff for school lunch the next day. The fun parent pees alone. The fun parent has time to read a book or a magazine or the back of a cereal box without being interrupted. The fun parent doesn’t always have one ear open for children’s whines or screams or cries or problems or squabbles 24 hours a day. The fun parent says “We’re out of mustard” into the fridge and, magically, mustard appears 24 hours later.

And then MAYBE on Mother’s Day all of us default parents will get a card and a bouquet and a nap not because it’s our One Special Day but because the fun parent wants to do something to acknowledge being a mom is kind of a tough job.

But since I am not a monster, I did in fact enjoy many parts of my Mother’s Day. The big kids – Caroline especially – remembered it was Mother’s Day and reminded me constantly I was supposed to be having The Best Mother’s Day Ever. There were s’mores. And now whenever we sit on the front steps for the bus we can admire the flowers we planted, together.

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She said the plants needed love to grow.

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Horsing Around (I May Have Used That Title Before)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

I don’t often have a favorite child. Sometimes I have a least favorite child (defined as the one who is currently misbehaving/throwing a tantrum/crying/keeping me awake at 2 am) but that only lasts for a few minutes. Mothers have an infinite amount of love, so loving one kid infinite plus a little bit more is almost impossible.

That being said, I’ve been finding myself scheduling extra time with Caroline whenever possible lately. Four and four months seems to be a nice age for her. I mean, she’s still FOUR. Life is hard when you are four and you have to wear sneakers instead of sparkly shoes or can’t have candy for breakfast or have to go to bed when it is still light out or when the half-zebra is too far away from the fence and you can’t pet her. Caroline is the middle child, my only girl, the one who I worry about the most as she moves from being a baby into real life. She has so much confidence and curiosity and willingness to try new things right now but I know the day is coming when being herself will feel harder than going with the crowd. I want her to hold on to herself and be fearless as long as possible, so if she’s up for an adventure, I am up for an adventure.

She wakes up every day and wants to Do Fun Stuff. As soon as she hears about a cool place or fun activity it goes on her mental list of Fun Stuff We Should Do so if we have a whole in the schedule she is ready to fill it. And on the way to Doing Fun Stuff she wants to grab a frappuccino. Because who doesn’t love a frappuccino?

Our Sunday included TWO frappuccinos. We went to Target with the Starbucks at 8 am for the Lilly Pulitzer collection release but failed – our store didn’t even get any kid sizes in stock and the first 10 crazy women in the doors bought EVERYTHING else. There was one beach towel and a couple of glasses left at 8:05. Luckily Caroline found a couple of Easter dresses on clearance that she was perfectly happy to accept instead of Lilly (because she’s 4, she doesn’t care). Then when we came home she begged to do more fun stuff. I heard from a friend there was a fundraiser at Ray of Light Farm, so Caroline and I jumped in the car and went, leaving the boys at home. On the way back we had “frappuccinos” i.e. Coolatas from Dunkin Donuts and talked about what we would do for our next adventure.

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I made the mistake of telling her people sometimes have guinea pigs as pets, so obviously now she wants to know when she can get one. Maybe I should have told her some people eat guinea pigs instead.
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More goats. We really like goats. Also, they sold us that food for the special fundraiser day – I’m not THAT much of an a-hole to just feed animals right next to the sign that says don’t feed the animals.

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This horse was named Belle, which made her Caroline’s favorite.

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Waiting patiently for the half-zebra to wander over. She eventually did so our day was a success.

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Caroline’s outfit:
Hat – Gymboree outlet
Dress – Target
Leggings – BabyLegs
Boots – Zulily
Sweater (in the other pics) – J Crew Crew Cuts from the consignment shop
Glasses (in the other pics) – Zenni Optical

For the record, Caroline is only allowed non-coffee drinks. I’m not pumping my 4-year-old full of espresso – it’s mostly whipped cream and ice. And delicious.

 

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Happy 33 To Me

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Hey, it’s my birthday, I’m gonna party like I’m responsible for keeping 3 small humans alive on my birthday. So maybe a glass of wine after they all go to bed.

That song was actually really popular on my birthday the year it came out (which I believe was in two thousand and OMG I am old) so I think of it as my birthday song. Just like probably 1/3rd of girls who were in college in that year probably do. I am nothing if not part of my generation.

33 is not a big or special birthday. I don’t have anything big or special planned and we will probably not celebrate in any memorable ways. But a bunch of small things have come together recently that lead me to believe 33 might be the age which I am officially an adult. And not only that, an adult who is pretty good at adulting sometimes.

I have a skin care routine. I realized those spots on my face weren’t just big freckles and I bought two different kinds of cream that have the words “anti-aging” in them and I reliably both put them on AND take my make-up off. I’ve never done that more than two days in a row before, but it’s been a couple weeks so maybe it stuck this time. Plus I expanded my makeup routine from “mascara and sometimes foundation” to “expensive mascara, primer, foundation and eyebrow gel”. I am probably the only one who can tell, but I FEEL more put together.

Along those same lines, I also a) have a standing appointment for a hair cut/color maintenance and b) wear earrings. Both tiny things that I always felt like I was never going to manage and yet now I have and do and it makes me happy every time I look in the mirror. Earrings! A lack of noticeable roots and split ends! Like a real grown up!

In the less superficial department, I also used my phone as an actual phone several times this week. I returned a call to get the kids set up for summer camp. I answered an unfamiliar number that ended up being Evan’s teacher. I moved my hair appointment. I called Nikon to find out what I could do about my broken camera. I called the camera supply place to find out if they could rush-ship a new one. I called and made the dermatologist appointment I hate making. Ok, that last one is a lie, I didn’t call yet. I hate the medical care on base and I have to see them to get a referral to a real derm and I hate the dermatologist in general because having my skin examined closely by ANYONE is horrifying. But I also don’t really want to die of skin cancer, so I’m definitely calling on Monday.

Other adulting skills I’ve mastered this year: Mailing things without standing in line at the post office. Going to the grocery store and not buying mostly ice cream. Taking out the trash. Talking to my kids’ teachers without feeling like I’m about to get in trouble. Recognizing when buying the more expensive version of something might be a better choice than buying the cheap thing. Making school lunches. Not staying up too late (most of the time).

My goal for the next year is to be an adult about my own self. I need to make wiser choices to be healthier. I need to stop eating my feelings. I need to use that wine-drinking time after bedtime to maybe do some push-ups. I also need to buy myself a pair of jeans that fit – just ONE PAIR – so I don’t have to wear yoga pants to yoga pant inappropriate locations, like dinner at restaurants with real silverware or all the birthday parties the kids are invited to this month. I can beat myself up over the size of my pants and losing baby weight afterward (because I am not sure I will ever be adult enough not to do that) but at least I can do it from the comfort of pants with a button that actually buttons.

So it’s not like I’ve discovered the secret of life or become wildly successful or been a perfect human/wife/mother but this year was pretty OK and I hope next year is even OK-er. Maybe on my 34th birthday I’ll be able to say I’ve successfully learned to spell the words “apartment” and “apparently” right on the first try. It’s good to have goals.

 

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Easter 2015

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

This year, Evan’s birthday and Easter were the same day. We actually did his celebrating the day/night before and did Easter stuff on Easter, so these pictures are out of order but I’m hoping to put together a real birthday post with a kid interview before I finish it. So I’m starting with Easter.

The Easter Bunny was very generous this year and shockingly well-prepared considering how early the holiday fell. She was smart enough to buy several things on clearance after Easter last year AND THEN put them in a well-marked box in the basement AND THEN remembered to go down and LOOK in the box. Besides the last-year stuff and the standard candy, Easter Bunny also brought each big kid a Lego set because a) everyone loves Legos and b) spending money on Legos seemed like a wiser choice than buying $20 worth of junk they’d forget about instantly. So far it has worked out extremely well.

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Even Lincoln got a basket of baby-appropriate stuff (book, ears, finger puppets, rubber ducky). I was also SUPER excited each kid finally has a permanent designated basket complete with their name and everything. They came from Personal Creations and were perfect for egg hunting at church and filling on Easter morning.

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This chocolate bunny seriously blew his mind. It’s the solid kind, which means he ate appoximately a whole pound of chocolate before church. #eastertraditions

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Before we went to church I dragged the children outside for an Obligatory Fancy Clothes Holiday Photo. It didn’t go super well.

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Don’t worry though, I/they made up for it later.

After church we went to Mystic Seaport to run out a little energy before our 2 pm brunch reservations. E insisted it is no long “brunch” if it is served at 2 pm but I say anything with both a carving station and a custom omlet bar counts as brunch on Easter.

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Lincoln was D O N E by the time we actually sat down to eat, but it still went fairly well. I wish he would have nursed and then slept on me so I could have sent my husband to fill my plate with ALL THE THINGS from the dessert table, but there was way too much going on for a distractable 8 month old to nurse. He did shove most of a dinner roll in his face. Caroline ate all the meat. Evan mostly ate crudités (if I call them crudités I feel less bad about the cost of carrot sticks). I ate more than enough stuff to make it feel worth the effort and expense. Easter brunch at a fancy place has ALWAYS been one of my favorite things and getting to do it once a year with my own family is fun. I imagine in 5 more years when everyone eats more and sits still and is as excited as I am about the crepe bar it will be an even nicer tradition.

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Four Eyes

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

So Caroline is now in glasses.

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I’ve had a few friends ask how we knew she needed them so I thought I might share here, in case anyone else is wondering. Caroline attends the public pre-K program in town. It’s really nice that they offer an early learning program but I suspect the purpose of the school has just as much to do with catching kids who need services as it does with giving kids a head start with their letters and numbers. The school is a great way to reach families who might otherwise get lost or not know they’re eligible for assistance. One of the things the school did this year was a vision screening for Caroline. In the fall she tested at 20/40 and then last month she tested at 20/50, so the nurse sent home a note suggesting we have her checked her checked by a real doctor.

I called our insurance to ask if they had suggestions and they gave me a short list of local offices. None of the options specialized in pediatrics so I just crossed my fingers and hoped we got someone nice. The receptionist asked if Caroline knew her letters and I said “Yyyyyyy…….eeeeeessssssss?? Probably? Maybe?” because I realized I wasn’t as sure as I thought. She suggested they use a tumbling E test instead of letters, in case she had failed based just on her knowledge of the alphabet instead of her sight.

The tumbling E – just turning a big wooden capital E to match the one on the screen – worked pretty well. She seemed to understand how it worked and I felt like it was a much better option than asking her letters.

The BAD parts of the test were that it was long. Way too long for a 4 year old. The way the chart was set up she was actually looking at it in a reflection, so the doctor could look at it on the wall behind her. But Caroline is a smart girl. She saw the chart was behind her and just kept turning around to read the E’s because THAT chart was way easier to read. The doctor was sometimes too busy looking at her notes to notice Caroline had turned so I was really doubtful of some of the answers. Then they did an up-close tiny-E reading chart but the way the doctor pointed at the lines was confusing. Caroline is 4. She’s a really vocal, smart, funny 4…but she’s still 4. If you’re pointing at a line with your nail but your fingertip is pointing at a different line maybe she isn’t sure which line to read and just says “No I can’t read it”.

The exam did include the “look through these lenses and tell me which one is clearer” part that I HATE at eye exams. It really stresses me out, but it was one of the parts that I felt really helped Caroline understand why glasses were important. They also had her look into a machine that measured the shape of her eyes and dilated them to get some more tests. Overall it was an hour plus for the exam before we got the verdict.

Caroline is both near-sighted and far-sighted, plus she has astigmatism in her left eye. Again, she’s ONLY 4 so there’s some doubt about her exact prescription right now and how it might change in the next few months and years. For now she’s in regular glasses, not bifocals. Even though I wasn’t 100% confident in her tests it was clear Caroline wasn’t seeing as well as an average person so I’m glad we’re addressing this now instead of waiting several years only to find out at 10 she’s never been able to read the board in class. We’re going back in 3 months for another evaluation, where she’ll know what to expect and won’t get so annoyed at the testing. I just really want her to be able to see.

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The optician in the office helped Caroline try on EVERY PAIR of kid-sized glasses they offer and she only managed to find one pair she liked. They cost $140, and that was after I asked them to put in the most basic lenses because a) she will probably break them and b) we’ll probably be getting different ones in 3 months. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days asking her where her glasses are, worrying about her glasses and freaking out that her glasses might be lost. Again, SHE’S ONLY FOUR. I need to just recognize that she will probably lose at least one pair of glasses before she learns to take care of them.

After MUCH internet shopping while Caroline sat next to me saying “Those are NOT my style”, we ordered some cheap extra glasses from one of the internet retailers (I’m not linking/plugging anyone until they get here – the reviews online are either REALLY GOOD or REALLY BAD). As long as they show up I’ll be pretty happy since they cost $19 each and she is fighting me a little on wearing her current frames all the time. We’re starting with for school, for books and for TV and working up to all the time. Obviously they don’t help SO MUCH that she put them on and said “Mommy, I can see everything now! The sky is blue! There are words in these books!” Which is good! I am glad she wasn’t blind! But also maybe that would be easier than worrying the glasses are making it worse! I wish eye stuff was an easy diagnosis you can just do with a machine instead of still counting on self-reporting. Four year olds are unreliable.

The good news is it’s 2015 and glasses are cool. She thinks they make her look smart and I totally agree.

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