Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bull In A China Shop

For all Gods blessings in my life, this wasn't how I pictured closing out my twenties. Not in any dramatic WOE IS ME way. I am happy, fulfilled, challenged, grateful and blessed. I have an awesome, hardworking, caring, dedicated husband. I have a safe and warm house, filled with lots of love. I have two awesome little boys that are my EVERYTHING. I live to smell them, hold them, hear them, teach them, this list could go on forever, I won't bore you. I am a parent, my kids rock.

So what I'm getting at is this, I NEVER pictured being a mother to boys. It it insane really. I mean you would think that I'd at least have considered the possibility since they are, I don't know, HALF THE POPULATION. I came from all girls, my mom came from all girls, my dad loved being a dad of all girls. We were just a girl family. We were the kind of girl family that played sports, did yard work and built things, so I'm no fish out of water over here in Boyland but...I am firmly encamped in Boyland.

So one of the things I never pictured having to deal with is how to keep my children from killing one another. Sure with girls there are some fights. There are some accidents where someone gets hurt. There are some, pushes, hits, pinches, that must be addressed. But on a whole raising girls, there is a whole lot less of the type of "fighting" or "playing" that can land someone in the hospital.

We are only at the beginning of this brother vs. brother roller coaster. But it feels like I have to maintain a constant vigilance, because J has begun taking MUCH to big an interest in his brother. Not like a "Good morning brother, how are you? Would you like to watch me play with my trains?" kind of interest. More like a, "Imma wrestle brother. Imma ride on brother's back. Imma shove leaves into brother's face, Imma feed brother my almonds," kind of interest.  J just doesn't seem to understand that his 3 month old brother doesn't wrestle or give horseback rides, and shouldn't eat leaves or TREE NUTS.

Having a newborn in a house with a three year old is like having a bull in a china shop, except the china shop is ACTUALLY YOUR BABY. 
I think this is why F immediately rolls to his stomach when he is on the ground, why he is trying to crawl already. What we think of as determined, adorable, albeit agonizingly slow army crawling, is really just a desperate attempt to escape.

No amount of parenting, gentle correcting, conjoling, pleading, compromising, bribing, or punishing seems to make a difference here. I am hesitant to limit brother to brother contact but that feels like the logic next step. I don't want F getting hurt. So far, thank God he hasn't, but at this point it is possible.

J isn't particularly aggressive or anything, but he is STUBBORN. I think it is his stubborness that drives most of his unwanted behavior toward his brother. He knows we don't like it, so he does it for attention. I tell you what man, three is a challenge. I am 14 days in people, and there ain't no turning back.

TERRIBLE TWOS? Lies. It must be evolution or something because at some point since the dawn of man the Terrible Twos shifted to Terrible Threes, and no has bothered to correct it. The threes are MUCH worse than the twos. Experienced parents will almost always support this claim.  Parents of two year olds, myself included, tend to think they have an angel child when they breeze through the first nine months of their child's second year. I am sorry to tell you, shit hits the fan much closer to three. You have not escaped your brief stay in hell. Someone just gave you the wrong dates, sweetheart.

 Let's just stop this nonsense shall we? Call a joint meeting of the Big Six,  pass a resolution, whatevs. Just so that innocent parents don't feel like a thief in the night came and stole way their sweet little angel and replaced him with a mini dictator. I make a motion to BANISH the Terrible Twos from our tongues and replace it with the Terrible Threes. We are evolving or devolving, most assuredly, it's one of the two. It's definitely a sign of the times. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Stop Slappin' Bees Son!"

J developed a habit of slapping bees this summer. The first time he did it on the playground, he slapped a bee into the slide and crushed it. I admonished him NEVER EVER to do that again.
"NEVER SLAP A BEE SON. It will sting you! You'll cry!"
This lesson, WHOOSH, right over head. Not a week went by before he crushed a bee against my car. Bam!
"I got you bee!" He squealed with delight and complete ignorance.
"J! Do not SLAP bees son!"
"Imma slap beeeeeeeeees mama! I got you bee!" 
Pride comes before the fall people. Pride before the fall. Lessons learned the hard way have a way of sticking. From his gleeful declaration I could tell no amount of admonishing was going to work.

A week or so goes by and then on a nice walk at Parker Mill. Lindsey, J, and I encounter a swarm of bees by the river, A SWARM. Listen, I was nine when My Girl came out. I lost my shite when Thomas J died.

My J gets to stompin'. He's fixin' to get him a bee. (My Gram would say.)

No nooooo and no.

Do not stomp on, near, or around a swarm of bees. We were two women with a newborn and a child and we were running.  This wasn't the time to let J learn the hard way. We are grown ass women. We don't trifle with bees.

So the summer rolls on and the bees are getting more aggressive, but so is J. He gets another one at the park. He gets one at the apple orchard, crushes it right against the little bench we are sitting on enjoying our cider mill donuts. Since I wasn't done with my donut, and I have heard bees can sting posthumously, I broke a little twig off and let him examine the bee with it.

He was very proud and rattled off a little,  "I got you bee" tune. He wanted to take bee home and show daddy, so wrap we it in a napkin and stored it in the donut bag. At this point I'm starting to feel a little pride in his bee slapping abilities. I wasn't encouraging it, but by the fifth or so kill my strict admonishing had turned into a slightly exasperated,
"Stop slappin' bees son!"
The day of reckoning came early last month. After a long beautiful day of playing and hiking, and making new friends, we were packing up the car to head home. I picked J up to say our goodbyes and had turned for the car when a bee flew between us. This was an end of the year bee, the kind of bee that will buzz around, all up in your grill. I turned away from the bee but not fast enough for Sir Speedy Hands.

Before I knew it, J had slapped the bee into his cheek. I immediately ran for the grass to lay him down. I was SURE that he could not have performed that action without consequence, but there was none of the crying and carry on I would expect from a child who had just SQUASHED a bee INTO his cheek. I peeled back his hand to reveal little red dot.
"J are you okay? Did the bee sting you? Can you hear me?" I asked fearing he maybe in toddler shock.
A slow smile spread across his face. The red blotch spreading up his cheek had reached the underside of his shining brown eyes.
"Bee got me Mama! Bee got me!...I got you bee!" He said.

Wait, this was supposed to be the moment the lesson sank in. There was no crying. Sinking in, it was not. I could tell the lesson was still floating somewhere in the stratosphere. After a summer of slapping bees, the bees were supposed to have won. J still looked for bees to slap through October, but as it got colder they got harder and harder to find. As near as I can figure, the score for the summer was J- 5 Bees-1.

It's November now so all the bees are long gone. Hopefully this will all blow over by next summer, and he will develop a proper respect for bees. Even then, "stop slappin' bees" will be in my vocabulary. You can use it too. It is a flexible phrase used in place of "don't tempt fate." I promise if you use it you'll sound cool.

Every Square Inch

For modern American standards we live in a small house. According to the Federal Census site the median square feet of new home builds in 2010 was just over 2100 square feet. The mean was slightly large than that. We are four people and two cats living in 900 square feet.  Don't get me wrong, we are blessed. I am gratefully for every square inch but, I COUNT EVERY SQUARE INCH. Sometimes I see a toy and want to charge it rent.
Dear Enormous Elephant Given to  My Son Before Birth,
The only purpose you serve is to sit by J's door and get pushed over and laughed at 3-5 times a day. It is a cruel world that you inhabit, this ain't Toy Story. You are taking up entirely too much room in my little old house. So if you are going to stay, Imma gonna need more from ya. Mmm kay?
For ten months of the year I can usually combat my feeling of being buried alive by toys by breathing deeply and remember that MOST of the rest of the world has the opposite problem. There are SO many kids in this world that would see our modest house filled with all these toys and consider us rich. It helps to remember that and be grateful for it.

But, then the weather gets gets colder and the trees drop their leaves and shiver along with us. We get out our woolly socks and house shoes. We greet the day by heaping on our layers in a futile attempt to replace the warmth of the bodies and blankets that we left behind in bed. The shorter days and colder weather drive us indoors where we wonder why we ate sooooo many cider mill donuts in the month of October and complain about the pitfalls of less exercise and holiday gluttony. Then WE DESTROY the living room with our Hotwheels, trains, Legos, books, balls, airplanes, STUFF. It is a simple fact of life that more indoor play means more mess. 

J's birthday ushers in November and my seasonal panic attacks. This is followed by December which means Christmas. Again, we are blessed. This isn't a complaint more than it is just a fact. We have lots of people that love my boys. For the better part of the last three years J has had the distinguished role of being the only child in either of our immediate families. That is until Freddie came along this summer and knocked him off his high horse. But, having such generous family and friends means J got A LOT of new toys for his birthday last weekend. They are currently residing on our basement floor. I have not the nerve to move them upstairs just yet.

In anticipation of my "there is crap EVERYWHERE I look" seasonal panic attack, last year we specified "No Gifts Please" for his second birthday party. At that point J had no idea what a birthday was. I knew he would not miss the presents. Guess what. People. Still. Brought. Gifts. And not just one person or two people, EVERY PERSON. I lost that battle. I fear I am losing the war. When F gets old enough to receive his own toys. I may need a brief stay in a mental institution.

I severely limit the number of toys I buy for J and F. For the most part J has gotten useful items from us for birthdays and Christmases. In the past we have given new shoes, snowsuits, a balance bike, toys that drive them outdoors, toys that can be stored in the garage, toys that I don't have to look at strewn across my floors, toys that I don't trip over in the kitchen, I am VERY into these type of toys. But, I recognize that kids need some toys they can play with inside. They also need new toys to stimulate their brains and encourage new types of play. It is nice that we can restock on new toys for J's birthday and Christmas and that we have family members that enjoy giving him those gifts. I am simply looking for a balance that feels right for everyone.

To combat the gluttony of stuff we have, we do a toy exchange and store half them in the basement. If it were strictly my call I'd donate half our toys. But instead we rotate them every few months. We are going to have to make some tough decisions. My husband built these incredible and large shelving units that line our storage room in the basement and the free wall in the garage. But, those shelves are lined with bins that are full of stuff. We are quickly approaching maximum capacity, and with Christmas right around the corner, I foresee trouble...And a sparse room with four white walls...maybe a straight jacket and a little plastic cup of pills.

Is it in your heart to talk to your children about the dangers of over consuming? When can children BEGIN to grasp these concepts? I don't think J is there yet but I will be looking for ways over the next year that I can start having these conversations with him.

Have you set gift giving boundaries with generous family members? Have you donated your kids old toys? Or are you holding on to them for future children? 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

IKEA I Wish I Knew How to Quit You.

I live 30 minutes from IKEA. It is the reason I have a never ending supply of luxurious dinner napkins. Did you know IKEA has the most cost efficient quality napkin in the known universe? And they have these:

IKEA for these specific and trivial things. I love you.

But, let me lay this down mathematically for you:
Proximity + Budget = It looks like a Swedish warehouse store threw up in my living room.

IKEA I hate you.

IKEA I wish I knew how to quit you!

I very recently took a trip to IKEA for blankets. You see 'round these parts when you find yourself in need of about 10 fleece blankets and you have a budget of about $25 dollars the only game in town is IKEA.

This was supposed to be a quick trip. I had Halloween and J's birthday party two days apart. I had very little time but I needed those blankets in a bad way. I planned an outdoor baseball party in November in Michigan because I'm special. So when the weather called for 48 degrees with possible rain, I did what any logical person would do and went to IKEA for blankets. You know blankets to put in the basket. Like I saw on Pinterest. Because it is cute.

But people, there is no such thing as a quick trip to IKEA. Anyone intent on a quick IKEA run is liable to wind up in need of a therapy session. Especially if said trip occurred on the weekend.

(Hush now. Listen. Gather round. Let me impart unto you a wise lesson. NEVER go to IKEA on the weekend.)

Quick trip eh? It. cannot. be. done. IKEA will suck you in, chew you up, and spit you out at a bare minimum of an hour later. That is if you utilize the "shortcuts" and run through the store at mock speeds. It helps to watch a few episodes of Super Market Sweep first.

The whole IKEA concept will warp your mother loving mind. One should not be able to furnish an entire apartment with furniture that fits in one's sedan.


First of all, there are two floors and to get to the first floor you have to go to the second floor. You have to go up to come down. Issac Newton must have consulted on the floor plan. It is not ingenious. It is stupid. And endlessly frustrating when what you want (the blankets) are on the first floor. The master plan is to force you have to wind through the entire one billion square foot sales floor to get to the registers.

Hoping to improve my odds of making it out alive I asked the young gentleman in the snappy yellow polo for directions to the blankets.
"You are looking for bedroom textiles?" 
"Yes, specifically the cheap fleece throws."
"Hummina Hummina Hummina, the cheap one." 
"I'd guess you are looking for the POLARVIDE. It is the most popular of our inexpensive throws."
"Right, cheapest. Where?"
"Go to the END OF THE EARTH. When you get there make a left. Pass through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, look to your right. You should find them there."
So here I am winding 'round and 'round like a crazy person, weaving through hordes of people with those RIDICULOUS crazy wheeled carts. Ugh those carts! What is with those flipping carts? Are they Euro-Carts? I am pretty sure someone has blown out a knee trying to maneuver those suckers. It is NOT helpful whatever is going on with the wheels on those carts that makes them not REGULAR.

To top the shopping experience off, there are no windows or clocks on the sales floor because time does not exist with in the four walls of IKEA.  You can go in on a Monday and come out shaking and confused on Wednesday. Wondering,  "What the hell just happened? Do I need a rape kit? Where the f is my car? And how am I going to magician all of these reasonably affordable home goods into my passenger vehicle?" (Might have to strap a kid to the roof. No! Do not take children to IKEA. Do not. Seriously just don't. )

I thought I was making good time. I was not. I came out and it was dark. It should not have been dark.

You know how IKEA used Nazi Prison Camp laborers to build furniture in the 40's? Horrifying, I know. They have since apologized. (Ya think!?!) Well it is certainly no surprise to me that the same company that thought that was a good idea would also design a store like this. Heartless bastards. Makes you want to kick 'em in their Swedish meatballs.