WE'VE MOVED!! You can now find us at Sunshine and Spoons!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy Birthday and a Half

As of last week, Princcess is 18 months old. To me, that seems like another milestone age. I remember when she was a tiny baby (*sniff*), and toddlers seemed so big and scary to me with the potential to hurt my fragile newborn. I now have one of those destructive, opinionated, energetic toddlers. I'm wondering how I'll react when I have another baby. Will I stop perceiving Princess as my baby and start to see her as the older child whom the baby needs protection from? I guess I'll see when I get there, but for the record, "there" will not arrive until I can convince Hubby about having another one.

One of the best parts of Princess being 18 months old is that, just as the child development books predicted (you know, the ones that have all the wisdom in the world to impart to parents about raising their children and are never wrong), she is retesting all the limits we've set for her and pushing them to new extremes. Along with pushing the limits, she's also happily pushing Mommy into insanity.

Princess has never been allowed near my laptop. I had finally trained her not to climb up on the chair at the computer desk last month. Last week, however, I caught her by the computer once again. This time, she wasn't sitting on the chair pecking away at the keyboard and exlaiming joyously whenever she managed to make the laptop "do" something. Instead, she had used the chair as a springboard for climbing onto the desk. When I found her, she was calmly sitting on the closed laptop testing my ballpoint pens on a paystub I hadn't filed yet to see if the ink was dried up. I firmly reprimanded her and left the room to finish putting last month's clean laundry away. When I returned she greeted me with a cheerful grin from atop the computer once more. After the sixth time of repeating this scenario, I resorted to the same measure I had used to keep her from climbing on the chair over a month ago. I turned the chair over on the floor and resigned myself to guests asking me if I knew my computer chair had tipped over.

On Saturday night, it was agreed that, since Hubby and I both had to work early the next morning, Princess would spend the night at his parent's house just down the road from us. I foolishly decided to feed her supper before taking her down to The Farm for the night. Around 6 o'clock, her usual suppertime, I asked Louise if she would like to eat. She enthusiastically started signing "eat" repeatedly (she knows some sign language) and rushed into the kitchen giggling. I seated her in the high chair and began to fill her blue plastic plate with sweet potatoes and ham (two of her favorite foods). As soon as I turned around to put the plate on the high chair tray, chaos broke out. I could practically see the unspoken words floating above Princess's head. "I didn't order that." I assured her that I was far too underpaid to run a restaurant for her benefit, especially since she is a notoriously bad tipper. A screaming tantrum ensued as she attempted to fling her plate and its contents across the kitchen. I rescued it just before it went airborne and, sensing somehow that my hysterical daughter was not going to eat the food I had so lovingly prepared for her (all it really took was a can opener and a microwave, but that's not the point), covered it with plastic wrap and stashed it in the fridge. I calmly removed Princess from the high chair, which was not an easy task as she was now flailing about wildly and screaming at the top of her lungs. We went out to the living room (one of us willingly, the other not so much) where I placed her on the floor away from anything that could hurt her or that she could hurt. Then, picking up a book, I sat on the couch and "ignored" the massive tantrum taking place several feet away from me. When her screams had finally subsided to pitiful sobs, she got up and came over to me. Giving me a big hug, she pointed hopefully to the kitchen and signed "eat" once again. Triumphant that she had given in so easily (in less than an hour), I took her back to the kitchen and warmed up her plate of food. However, it turned out that she too assumed she'd won the battle. This time, when she started shrieking angrily, I bypassed the living room and dumped her unceremoniously in her crib to wait out the tantrum. When all I could hear from her room were sad sniffles and a tiny heartbreaking voice calling, "Mama, Mama." I retrieved my tear-stained daughter from her crib and gave her a big hug and a kiss before cautiously returning to the battle scene-the kitchen. As it turned out, she still wasn't planning to eat the food I gave her. After an hour of screaming, tears, hugs, kisses, and sudden outbursts, it was finally over. I wiped the last of her tears from her cheeks as I spooned ham and sweet potatoes into her wide open mouth. She had worked up quite an appetite in the last hour and when she had finished her supper, I gave her two whole wheat crackers. She clutched the crackers in her hand and requested that I take her out of her high chair so she could go play while she finished her supper. I refused which lead to more tantrums. This time, she relented in half the time. Hubby arrived home from work as Princess was finishing her crackers (at the table!). Taking in her tear-stained cheeks, red drippy nose, and general look of discontent on Princess's face, he naively asked, "Has she been crying?" Up until that point, I had kept my cool and hadn't lost my temper even when I was removing a thrashing Princess from her high chair for the fifth time. It took Hubby exactly 3.8 seconds to learn how stressful the last hour and a half had been for me and Princess, after which he didn't ask any more questions.

Unsolicited Advice:
It can be extremely difficult to hold your ground and not give in when your child is demanding something. It may be easier to give in and stop the tantrum, but in the long run, it'll pay for you to stand strong. If you give in one time to your child, he or she will continue to test you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Dog Days of Summer

Actually, I lied in the title for this post. This summer has been surprisingly cool. When we went to Wisconsin last weekend, I had to bring sweatshirts and jackets for everyone which I usually don't even think of packing for a trip in mid-July. But I'm not complaining. I've never been a big fan of sweating profusely. In fact, I moved out of my parents' house when I was 17, not because I wasn't getting along with them, but because my best friend had invited me to move in with her family and they had central air while my parents' house was poorly equipped with a small window air conditioner.

The summer I was pregnant was great. Everyone told me how hot I was going to be, but I was freezing the whole time I was pregnant and never really got much use out of my summer maternity clothes. In fact, every time I complain about being cold now (which is often) Hubby asks me if there's some news I'm keeping from him.

When I was around 3 months pregnant, we moved into the basement apartment of a friend from church. The back half of the apartment is built into a hill, but in the front we have a huge covered porch. Anyways, the lady upstairs is always warm, and so she turns down the central air until she's comfortable. However, as we all learned in science class, hot air rises. Therefore, on top of the basement being naturally cooler since it's built into the hill and geting absolutely no direct sunlight due to the covered wraparound porch, when it's cool enough upstairs it is frigid downstairs. It's typical for most people to add a layer or two when they venture outdoors in the winter and shed a layer (hopefully not two!) in the summer whether they be indoors or out. Not us. Due to the glacial temperature in my house, I vastly underestimate the outside temperature when selecting clothes for myself and Princess in the morning. When we go outside, I'm always surprised at just how hot and muggy it is and find myself hastily shedding layers or going back inside to change from long sleeves to short. Princess's summer wardrobe of adorable sunsuits and shorts has gone untouched for most of the summer because even when it's warm enough to wear them outside, it's not warm enough inside. Sweaters and sweatshirts the standard uniform in my house.

I am definitely enjoying summer and dreading winter. I love that Princess can play outside this year. Last summer, she was using the army crawl as her main method of travel, and that wasn't exactly conducive to being outside on the rough cement or in the stain-producing grass. Winter is nice for about the first week. After that, bundling up in 18 layers to go outside, driving through near-blizzard conditions to get to work, testing the car brakes on the 4 inches of ice covering the road, and dealing with weekly frostbite all become a tad annoying. Minnesota is not a good place to live if you don't care for driving on treacherous roads. However, summer isn't much better in that aspect because of the relentless road construction. Like they say around here, "There are only 2 seasons in Minnesota. Winter and Road Construction."

Unsolicited Advice:
Even in the middle of summer, the weather can still turn cool in the evening. I always keep a spare sweater in the car for Louise just in case.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to You! (And You!)

It's been a while since I've written anything here. We've been really busy with birthday parties. Last weekend was my niece, Rose's 1st birthday. Hubby had to work, but I packed up Princess's diaper bag and hit the road with my parents, younger sister, older sister, her husband and their son, Maximus for the 3 hour trip.

We accidentally decided to take the scenic route to the party, but we made it in plenty of time anyways. Rose was an adorable 1 year old and seemed not to mind the loads of attention lavished on her or the mountain of gifts that awaited her. As my brother, the birthday girl's daddy, tried to feed Rose a piece of her Sesame Street themed cake without making too much of a mess, my younger sister stood behind him to take advantage of a 1 year old's natural propensity for imitation. Before he knew what had hit him, Rose had smeared bright blue and red frosting all over her face, in her hair and, yes, even in her ears. Snickering relatives were close by to catch the moment on tape as her parents groaned at the mess and went to run a bath. Someone apparently forgot to warn them that it's tradition to get the birthday boy or girl as messy as possible on their 1st birthday. When Princess turned one, I prepared for the cake portion of her party by covering the floor under her high chair with a plastic tablecloth, handing out protective gowns to the unfortunates who happened to be in the vicinity of her high chair, and stripping her down to her diaper. And then, when her eyes had glazed over in a sugar coma, I gingerly extracted my now chocolate covered daughter out of her high chair and finished the party with the birthday girl in the tub.

A week later, we hit the road again. This time, our travel time was doubled to 6 hours. My nephew on my husband's side was turning 5 and like usual, we spent the weekend. We left on Friday exactly 2 hours and 15 minutes after our projected departure time. When I say we, I mean me and Hubby, Princess, Hubby's parents, younger sister, older brother with his wife and 2 children, the birthday boy and his younger brother. The two boys had spend the week with Grandma and Grandpa at The Farm and we were returning them to their parents in Wisconsin. Because there were so many of us, we took 2 vehicles. The three boys and Princess rode in the van with three of the adults. I rode in the tahoe with the remainder of the adults and my 9-month-old niece who kindly obliged us by sleeping for most of the trip or playing happily with her toys. The trip out was uneventful and we arrived just in time for supper with five hungry, fidgety children. We celebrated my nephew's birthday that evening and then crashed wherever we could find room. I ended up sharing a room with Hubby, Princess, and my sister-in-law.

The next day we went to a nearby park with a photographer to have family pictures taken. The last time Hubby's family had a family picture taken, I wasn't a member of the family yet and there were only 8 people. This time, there were 15 people for the hapless photographer to work with.

The rest of the day was spent fighting over a coveted spot on the couch as all 15 of us spent quality time together at home. The next day, we experienced a Sunday miracle as nine adults and six children got out of bed, showered or bathed, got dressed, ate breakfast, and were all out the door in time for church at 9 am. After a quick lunch of grilled hamburgers at home, we packed our bags and headed back to Minnesota. The six hour drive home went pretty well although Princess did get a tad cranky during the last three hours, but her incessant whining and tantrums didn't bother me at all for the primary reason that she was in the van again while I rode in the tahoe.

Unsolicited Advice:
When packing for a long trip, splurge and buy some disposable bibs so you don't have to bring a bagful of dirty sticky bibs home with you again.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down!

I knew before I even got to the door, that things weren't as innocent as they seemed.

With much begging and the substantial use of sad-puppy-dog eyes from Princess, I had finally relented and let her go outside on the porch to play. Because our porch is so large, our yard is so huge, and the road is such a long ways from our house, I feel comfortable allowing Princess to play outside by herself.  I, of course, surreptitiously check on her from a window or door every few minutes to be sure that she isn't getting into any trouble. She doesn't mind this arrangement at all and will often come to the sliding glass door, knock to get my attention, and wave enthusiastically before going back to playing.

Today, I was busy online, researching a project I'm currently working on for a job. I could hear Princess's pounding footsteps running energetically from one side of the porch to the other and her high pitched giggle which I'm assuming was directed at the (annoyed) cat as usual. Therefore, I knew she was still safely on the porch. What I forgot, though, was that the tabletop charcoal grill we'd borrowed from my sister before my husband got around to assembling ours had not been returned yet and sat unobtrusively by the porch steps. This did not escape Princess's attention. When I finally tore myself away from my research for a few minutes to check on Princess from the front door, I had an odd feeling. Everything sounded normal outside, but somehow I knew it wasn't. The view that met my eyes when I opened the front door, was ashes everywhere, burnt up charcoal briquettes scattered around the porch, Princess's new pink camo hat laying upside down on the porch full of ashes, and a very dusty toddler. She had even included the cat in the fun by filling the cat's food bowl with handfuls of ashes and covering the (very annoyed) cat itself with more ashes. The grill lay disassembled with the cover over in the corner, the grate leaning precariously on the porch steps, while the grill itself, almost emptied of the ashes and charcoal briquettes that had filled it before, stood in gray dusty wonder in the midst of the carnage.

I stopped dead in the doorway, surveying the mess in astonishment while Princess, instantly realizing that there was a good possibility she would be blamed for it, pointed to the cat who was trying desperately to lick itself clean and said, "Uh-oh!" After a moment spent formulating a battle plan, I sprang into action. I brought a damp handtowel outside and wiped Princess down as much as I could, before taking her inside to the bathroom to strip her off her ashy t-shirt and khaki pants and hose her down in the tub. This done, I pulled a purple flowered dress over her head and let her loose to play inside while I attacked the mess on the porch. The first order of business was to pick up all the briquettes and place them back into the grill which I then reassembled. Then the cat was dusted off and her food bowl emptied of its unappetizing contents. I located my outdoor broom and swept the worst of the mess off the porch and into the yard, giving the grass the appearance of a recent minor volcanic eruption. Having learned my lesson, I popped inside to check on Princess who ignored me as she pulled all of her toys off the shelf where they had reposed for all of 28 minutes. Next, I filled several empty ice cream buckets with water and washed the remaining ash off the porch. The cat eyed me stonily from the corner of the porch where it had run for protection and was now trapped by numerous puddles. I moved it to the grass where it continued to lick the ash off its fur with an injured glare shot in my direction periodically. Satisfied that everything outside was clean enough until the next rainfall washed it even more, I headed back inside to feed my daughter lunch.

Unsolicited Advice:
To keep Princess occupied and happy for extended periods of time on hot summer days, I fill a clean ice cream bucket with water, give her a pastry brush and a few measuring cups and let her enjoy it out on the porch. She needs dry clothes when she's finished, but it's worth it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

You Can't Dodge the Bullet Forever...or Very Long At All Apparently

My niece and nephew seem to get pinkeye on a regular basis. It probably has to do with their mom running a home daycare. You know how kids are...they hate sharing unless it's a germ. I've been very thankful that at the age of 17 months, Princess had dodged the bullet thus far. However, this morning when I got her up and laid her on the changing table to change her diaper, I realized that we've been shot. She'd been sharing toys with her two cousins all weekend and on Monday, they both came down with pinkeye. It took exactly 2 days for it to hit Princess.

As soon as I wiped most of the goop of Princess's eye, I called my sister-in-law to find out what to do about pinkeye. She recommended a few easy steps--take Princess to the doctor to get a prescription, wash all of her bedding, disinfect her 732 toys, wash my hands frequently, don't touch my face, be very careful because it's highly contagious, and keep her away from other people for at least 24 hours, especially her kids as she didn't want them reinfected. Yeah. That sounds easy. I managed to get Princess an apointment at one pm with her pediatrician and called my boss to say that I wouldn't be making it in to work this morning. Then I called my sister, the one who babysits Princess while I'm working, and as soon as the word "pinkeye" slipped out of my mouth, she told me she'd see me in a few days and hung up.

After washing my hands 27 times this morning, it was finally time to go to the doctor. We checked in at the desk and hunkered down in the empty waiting room. Princess stood on a chair to watch the traffic go by outside since I wouldn't let her touch any toys in the waiting room (I didn't want to be the mom responsible for the pinkeye breakout of 2009). At one point, she looked at me, said "Uh oh!" and then I heard a squirting noise that sounded suspiciously like diarrhea. Oh joy. The receptionist behind the desk politely tried to ignore the disgusting sounds of my daughter filling her diaper with you know what and I tried to pretend I didn't know the cute kid sitting next to me with the pink bow in her hair and the pungent smell emanating from her backside.

Once the nurse called Princess's name and we were in the exam room, I quickly tried to change the diaper before it spilled out the sides requiring me to get creative with Princess's outfit since I hadn't brought a spare (Mom Mistake #4 "We won't be gone long, she doesn't need extra clothes.") Red in the face, I inquired as to the proper way to dispose of the diaper since it would smell up the exam room if I threw it away in there. The nurse very nicely wrapped it up in about 13 layers of paper from the exam table and whisked it away.

The doctor made a brief but memorable appearance and diagnosed Princess with pinkeye before leaving to call in a prescription for eye ointment. I was kind of hoping for eye drops, but the doctor said it would be easier to use the ointment since the eye drops sting. I'm a bit, okay extremely, squeamish about the idea of sticking my finger in my kid's eye to apply ointment, but being a mom, I took a deep breath and did it anyways for the greater good. Or whatever you want to call it.

Unsolicited Advice:
To apply eye drops in a child's eye, ask the child (or tell them since asking implies they have a choice) to lay down and close their eyes like they're sleeping. When their eyes are closed, drop the medicine in the inside corner of their eyes, tell them to open up, and voila! Eye drops are done.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July! I know we did.

In the morning, Hubby went down to The Farm (his dad's farm which he and his brother help run. The Farm, which includes a hog operation, is conveniently located about 1/4 of a mile down the road from my house) to work on...something involving a tractor or a cow, I believe. He probably told me, but he always tells me while I'm changing a blowout diaper or asleep. Anyways, after a morning nap for Princess and a nutritious lunch of good-ole PB&J for both of us, Princess and I joined the rest of the family (Hubby's parents, sister, brother and his wife and 2 children) at The Farm so we could carpool to the Fourth of July parade in a nearby town. Living in a rural area, the parade tends to be kind of a big deal, so we arrived early enough to get good seats. Actually, we arrived so early that we ended up using those seats, aka. a blanket thrown on the curb, for a good 1 1/2 hours before the parade started. I was anticipating desperate attempts at freedom from Princess while we waited, but she was surprisingly patient. When the parade finally started at 20 minutes after the appointed time, Princess was enthralled. I would like to point out to you that this is her 3rd parade this summer alone. And believe me, she knows exactly what to do. Every time a float went by, she'd wave enthusiastically, turning up the cute factor a few notches so that several handfuls of candy would come flying our way. She and her 3 year old cousin, gamely shared their loot with the babies sitting with their parents on either side of our family's blanket/seats. This thrilled me for several reasons, one of which was that Princess was sharing for once and the second reason was because that meant we would be taking home less candy. I was secretly praising one float rider's aim after the family next to us was tossed a few freezees and were now struggling with several gooey children when Hubby's cousin happened by a few floats later, spotted relatives, and threw over a dozen sweating, sticky freezees at my daughter and nephew. I heard an indignant cry of "Hey, they got more than us!" emit from the thoroughly sugared-up preschooler beside me and glanced over to catch the exhausted mother cast a smug look our way as she replied brightly, "That's okay, Honey. Maybe they need them more than we do"

After the parade, we packed up our belongings which seemed to have strangely multiplied in the last 2 1/2 hours. In my hurry to get Princess out the door after she woke from her nap, I'd forgotten to pack an extra outfit in the diaper bag and, since she was now dyed blue from a freezee that had turned out to have a hole in the bottom, I had to stop back home and get her something else to wear. This was no easy feat as I wanted to dress her in red for Independence Day and 98.4% of her wardrobe is pink. I managed to scrounge up a red Carebears dress and we headed back down to The Farm to hang out until the picnic that evening. The pastor of our church and his wife had been invited as well as a few other families we knew from church which included my parents, younger sister, older sister, husband, and son, Maximus. Maximus hadn't really been outside on a farm before and he was completely captivated by the cows. The fact that they were 18 times his size didn't faze him a bit while Princess, having been around them since she was a newborn is still a bit apprehensive if the "Moos" get too close. Will, however, couldn't get enough of the cows and, he made that point by attempting to pick up a cowpie. His mother was not impressed and I was even less impressed when Princess, who has always kept her distance from the various animal waste at The Farm, decided to imitate her cousin.

After the picnic, Hubby and I decided to make sure our daughter received every Independence Day blessing available by finishing the day watching the fireworks. Unfortunately, we were a bit late in leaving and ended up watching the fireworks from 15 miles away parked by the side of the road. Lit by the van's blinking hazard lights, we oohed and aahed over each burst of color in the dark sky and strained our ears to hear the sonic booms that traditionally accompany fireworks. Princess had had a long day and a short nap and compensated for that by sleeping on Grandma's shoulder instead of watching the fireworks we had made her stay up for. But we're in the process of creating memories and when she gets older, we can tell her that we took her to the fireworks every Fourth of July.

Unsolicited Advice:
Rather than making several trips to the kitchen to fill bowls of condiments for a picnic, put your sauces and toppings in one convenient place: an aluminum muffin tin. Line the tray with foil muffin cups and fill. Post-party, toss the cups for easy cleanup.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...