Friday, March 30, 2012

Next Week

It's been a crazy week.

I can't really explain why.

I can tell you that I have 5 loads of clean laundry piled in my room.  Right next to 5 loads of dirty laundry.

Or that our living area is a wreck.  All of Freddie's new toys from his birthday party are strewn all about.

Or that I haven't even had one second to download the pictures from his party.

Or that Ainsley made a mess with baby powder last night and it's not cleaned up yet.

Or that I've sent Freddie to daycare twice this week with disposable diapers.

Or that Ainsley stepped in dog poo earlier this week and I just realized last night that her shoes are still sitting in the sink covered in said dog poo.

Or that we're leaving town tonight and I haven't even packed.

Sometimes I have weeks like this.  I can't really pinpoint what went wrong, but something definitely did.

So, I'm going to finish this work day, get home as fast as I can to pack, pick up the kids, and then head out of town.  At least we're staying in a hotel where someone else can clean up after us and I can forget about our mess at home.

Next week will be has to be.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Great Bike Debate of 2012

Clif and I are pretty much awesome parents.  We have one major flaw though...over thinking.

But really, it's just like in an interview and they ask what's your biggest weakness and you say "I just care too much."

So really it's a flaw that is an asset!  However, this asset is fricken annoying!

Our first mistake was to decide to buy bikes for the kids for Easter.  Now this goes against all of my Easter gift giving beliefs.  Easter is for anything that will fit in your basket, 'cause as my mom would have said to me if I had asked for a bike for Easter - "How is a little tiny bunny going to carry a bike."  Parents sure are lucky that kids are so gullible because pay no mind to the fact that a bunny also can't carry a basket.

We always got the big things for Christmas.  Easter was a basket full of candy, an outfit and maybe a small toy.  But, we didn't want to get the bikes for Christmas because normally in the Washington DC area it's cold around Christmas and we didn't think they'd really be able to play with them until Spring.  This was before we had the anti-winter.

Easter is in Spring, bikes are good for Spring...made perfect sense.

Except, we're travelling to North Carolina for Easter.  So taking bikes would be difficult, so we'd have to ship them there and that means we have to order them and I can't pull my normal procrastination crap.

That was the first hiccup.

Second hiccup?  The balance bike.

Now, until about 6 months ago when I started seeing these things pop up on, I had never heard of a balance bike.  And even then, I thought they were so stupid.  These dumb little wooden bikes that weren't really even bikes.  Just seemed like another way for big bad corporations to suck some money out of me. 

I was anti the balance bike.  Freddie would get a tricycle and Ainsley would get a two wheel bike with training wheels.

But then they hooked Clif...and so the debate began.  So the research started and the questions started and the doubts started and I have read every freaking thing that's ever been written about balance bikes.  Know what?  They aren't so bad.  Actually, other than a couple of people telling me their kids didn't like a certain kind...I can't really find a bad review about them as a whole.

So I conceded...for Freddie.  Freddie is at the perfect age for one.  He should be able to go straight to a two wheel bike in a few years.

Ainsley was the question.  Ainsley will be 5 this summer.  Everything I was reading topped off at 5 or 6.  She knows how to pedal because she has a tricycle.  I didn't want to spend money on a balance bike only to have her nail it in a month and need a new bike.

Clif and I talked, and talked, and argued and talked, and argued...and TALKED about this for weeks.  What should we do?  What if she's too tall?  What if she hates it?  What if we get her a standard bike and she hates that?  What if she wants Freddie's?  What if, what if, what if?  Clif thought we should get a balance bike, I thought we should get a regular bike.

See...over thinking, because today I finally ordered these bikes.  And after literally 2 months of talking about these bikes, I came to a very simple conclusion...She's going to learn to ride the bike no matter what I do.  Even if I don't buy the kid a bike, she will most likely learn to ride one.  Kids ride bikes.  They love riding bikes.  If she wants to ride a bike, she'll find something to ride and figure it out.  Right now she rides a tricycle that is way too small for her.  If we get her a balance bike, she'll ride it if she wants to ride something.  If we get her a regular bike, she'll figure it out if she wants to ride something.

So what did we end up with?

Bing Images
Freddie's getting a red Strider balance bike.

Bing Images
Ainsley's getting a pink Diamondback cruiser - no training wheels.

And I am very happy with our decision.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Dear Freddie,

So I'm behind.  Get used to it kid, I'm usually behind. 

Your birthday was Sunday.  You're two now.  Two is a whole different world from one.  You can talk now...and I mean you talk!  You tell stories, you repeat everything, you even tattle...already.  You can run and can almost keep up with Ainsley.  You love to play basketball and ride bikes.  I can't believe you're two and your baby years are fading fast.

But I'm not going to dwell on that.  You'll always be my baby boy in some way or another.  My love for you runs deeper than I ever could have imagined.  You have one child and you never believe that you could ever love another the same way, but you absolutely can.  I don't know how it's possible, but your heart just duplicates with every kid.  I can't believe, when you were just a little tiny bean inside of me, that I ever questioned my ability to love you like I love your sister.  How could it be any other way?

I always tell people you're passionate.  I'm partly joking at the way you can express such sincere, opposite emotions in a short period of time.  But you truly are passionate about the things you love.  Whatever you choose to do in life, you'll do it with you're whole self and never look back.

You surprise me almost daily.  Just when I'm sure I know what kind of kid your are, you turn it all around.  We trimmed your hair on Sunday.  I was nervous and worried.  I was sure you'd scream and cry and squirm through the whole process.  I was sure she'd cut too much and that baby face would morph into that of a small boy.  I was wrong...about all of it.  You were the perfect little gentleman.  You sat so nicely and sweetly that I almost didn't believe this was my kid.  I was so proud of you.

And your hair?  It turned out perfect.  I love it.

Then later at dinner, when the wait staff sang to you and brought you ice cream, you hid your eyes.  My boisterous, loud, crazy little boy shyed away from all the attention.  I was shocked.  I thought you'd eat it up.

I'm learning every day what kind of man you'll grow up to be.  Every moment is giving me a little glimpse into your future and an important lesson into raising you.

Thank you for roaring into my life two years ago sweet Freddie.  I'll never be the same.

Happy Birthday Monster.



Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Perfect Day

Sometimes being a mom is really hard.  Some days you just want to lock your bedroom door and cry yourself to sleep for the next 48 hours.  Because it's not easy.  It's not easy to juggle work and mom and wife and house and friends and family.  It is very easy to feel overwhelmed and just want to chuck it all and say forget it.

But then, every once in awhile you have this perfect moment.  This treasured time.  This unbelievable day and you realize that this is what matters.  The laundry piled in the corner doesn't matter.  The dishes overflowing in the sink don't matter.  The toys strewn across the floor don't matter. 

You and your little ones having a day with no cares, no worries, no responsibilities, no timeline...that's what matters.  A day where mommy remembers what it's like to be a kid.  A day where mommy says yes to everything.  A day where kids still cry and still don't listen, but mommy doesn't care.  A time to just let go and say forget everything else and just focus on this moment.  Be in this moment.  Don't race ahead to dinner time or tomorrow's troubles.  Enjoy right now.

Climb to new heights.

Explore new lands.

March to the beat of your own drum.

And finish it all off with ice cream.

Naps and calories be damned!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

iPhone Love

I've been determined to get my blog posts rolling this week.  On Monday, I was out of the office on a press check for work, but while riding back I made a list of all the blog posts I could write this week.  So I've been pulling from that.

However, I left my dear iPhone at home today.  Which contains my lists, but more importantly, my pictures.  So today, I was going to tell you about this perfect day that we had over the weekend and share all the pictures...but no iPhone.

So instead, I'll just tell you that I'm sad I left my phone at home.  It's like a piece of me is missing really.  Oh how did I ever survive without you iPhone?

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about my perfect day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Sleep Chart

I've been hesitant to write about this.  It's like when you hit every green light on the way home.  You don't talk about it.  You just let it happen and celebrate when you pull in your driveway.  It's why Clif doesn't let me comment on the surprising lack of traffic.  The minute you talk about it, everything goes know what.

However, I have always said that if I ever got Ainsley to sleep like a normal kid I would write a book and make millions.  Well, I can barely find time to write this blog, so I don't think a book deal is showing up anytime soon.

Ainsley is the anti-sleeper.  If you have read this blog at all, you already know that.  She is the perfect storm for sleep deprived parents...

1 - She hates being left out.  She would rather force her eyes open and watch me fold clothes than just get the sleep she so desperately needs.

2 - She can not self soothe.  She has never attached herself to a bottle, a thumb, a finger, a blanket, a baby doll, a stuffed animal, an article of my clothing.  The only thing that has ever made her secure is another person to cling to.

3 - She can not put herself to sleep.  Anytime I have tried to instill this in her, it has ended in disaster.  Imagine, if you will, a very tired, very frustrated, at her wits end mother, reversing the door knob on her 3 year old's bedroom door so said 3 year old can't leave the room.  I know, not my proudest moment.  But I have been driven over the cliff with this child and her sleep issues.

I was really at peace with the situation.  This was our issue.  Ainsley is the perfect child otherwise.  Why should I complain that she wants to snuggle with me at night?  It wouldn't last forever.  But then it hit me.  I was really doing this girl a disservice. 

It happened about 6 weeks ago.  We were over at some friends.  There were a bunch of kids all around Ainsley's age.  Clif was staying to hang out while I took the kids home.  He would spend the night.  Some other dads were staying over with their kids.  A sleep over!  Ainsley wanted to stay.  How could I let her stay?  Could I really expect the mom - who had her own three kids to put to bed - to sleep with my daughter?  Clif was staying to catch up with some visiting friends.  Our deal was that I would take the kids home at a reasonable hour.  I couldn't ask him to change his plans to sleep on the floor, in a sleeping bag with Ainsley.

She cried the whole way home.  And I thought...this is my fault.  If I had taught her to do this, then I could have left her.  Clif was there, I could have left her to go to sleep with her little friends and have her first sleep over.

And what happens in a couple of years when little girls at school are having sleep overs?  Will she still need a mommy to sleep with her?  The thought of her missing out on things like that because I hadn't been able to figure this out, killed me.  I couldn't let it happen.  So it started...the sleep chart...

The deal was that if she could go to sleep on her own for a certain number of nights she would get a reward.  Three nights = Slurpee.  Five nights = Target shopping.  Seven nights = Build A Bear.  Ten nights = Movies.

I took the picture about a month ago.  It took over a week to get through the first 3 nights.  We just finished the 10 night stretch.  She's doing really well.  I can't believe that I can walk out of her room and have her fall asleep. She still whines every night that I leave, but she does it.  I think the whining is more for show.  We still have our when she screams and cries for an hour straight, or when I head to bed at 11 and she's still awake.  But for the most part, I feel like we've got a good thing going.  For the first time in years, Clif and I can actually follow a grown up show like The Walking Dead*.  We can read books.  We can get laundry done before midnight. 

But most of all, I feel like we've given Ainsley something important.  I always thought that letting her sleep with me was fine.  That it made her feel safe and that was the most important thing.  I want her to feel safe, that is extremely important...but more, I want her to feel confident, I want her to feel fear and conquer it, I want her to problem solve, I want her to rely on herself.  She's only 4 and I expect her to rely on me and Clif for awhile...but hopefully we're getting her on the right foot.

*Holy Hell!!!  Does anyone watch this show?  All I think about is zombies.  Last night I dreamed that I met Jennifer Lopez (random in itself) and she was a zombie!  Crazy stuff.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Emotional Vacancy

I once started a journal with the line "This is for all the people who didn't know me, and all the ones who thought they did."  I think I was 14 and being all profound and shizz.  I was right in the middle of those crazy, hormonal, teenage years.  Where every little thing takes on such weight.  The emotions that plagued me during those years are still so raw on my soul.

I have always been an extremely sensitive person.  I get hurt easily.  I cry often.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I don't hide my emotions well. 

Wait...let me rephrase those lines...I got hurt easily.  I cried often.  I wore my heart on my sleeve.  I didn't hide my emotions well.  All of that's changed now.  Maybe it's just what comes with age, but the strange thing is I still feel that sensitive girl in there, but I keep her on lock down.  I've trained myself to not cry, to not care, to not get too close. 

After years of feeling like I was always giving more than I was getting, of taking everything so personally, of getting knocked down by the slightest word or action - I stopped it.  I built thick walls, impossible to climb.

I'm not sure when it happened exactly.  I do know the first time I realized it though.  Three years ago.  It was just after Christmas, my sister called me crying.  My parents had split up.  My reaction?  Shrug.  Oh well, saw it coming.  Not one little fiber of my being ached.  My family had suddenly dissolved, and I didn't care.  People were sorry, people were sad for me and my response?  "Why?  I'm fine.  Seriously, I couldn't care less." And I truly, deeply meant it.

In the weeks that followed, I didn't shed a tear.  I didn't feel sorry for either of my parents.  When I asked my mom why it was never brought up before it just ended, her comment was somewhere along the lines of "Well, I tried - but Jaime, you know how sensitive you are."

But I'm not.  Not anymore.  I'm not that moody teenager scribbling feverishly in a journal.  I'm not that passionate college student crying herself to sleep at night.  I'm not that emotional young adult whining to my mom about a fight with a friend.  And though those feelings are still there...deep inside...I never let them out.

I thought it was a good thing.  I was way over the top before.  Now I could just be normal.  Have normal emotions.  But I think I may have gone too far the other way.  Being emotionally vacant definitely has it's perks.  I still get hurt, but I don't let it show.  I don't dare let on that I care.  I rarely cry anymore, because I associate that with weakness.  I don't dare show my weakness. 

However, there are down sides.  I don't hug, I don't say "I love you," I don't get excited over gifts or surprises, I'm not passionate about anything.  The good and bad of that is the same - keeps people away.

I see my daughter, so completely full of love for everyone and everything and I wonder how to preserve that in her.  How do I keep that trusting spirit without letting it hurt her?

I see my son, so very passionate about everything in life whether he's angry or elated and I wonder how I cultivate that in him.  How do I keep that passion and drive from beating him down until he's just like me?

My only saving grace is that when it comes to them, there is no emotional vacancy.  I love them recklessly.  I tell them that and hug them and kiss them with abandon.  I get excited and passionate for them - with them.

But with the rest of the world?  That line I wrote so many years ago rings true...because I can't imagine that I have allowed anyone to really know me.
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