Mission: Bedtime

August 9, 2016

The art of bedtime as told by a tired ass Mom.

Every night I enter the bewitching hour of 8 PM with a guilty excitement that the kids are going to bed – followed by dread of how the process will unfold. I have not always been the best at keeping routines or doing the same thing every day. Example – remembering to take a damn pill at the same time every day was too much to handle since I ended up with three surprise pregnancies. (that’s 25% planned/75% unplanned) I have always struggled with organization and routine. My right brain is too powerful and I live in a world of chaos and (gasp) sporadic bed times.
After Cece was born, bedtime became a series of hopes and guesses. I hope she goes to bed before midnight. I guess Jackson is tired. There was even a few weeks where the bedtime routine was: Get in car. Drive until kid falls asleep. I was getting desperate. After a long day at the office followed by toddlering all evening- I needed a few hours  to do what moms across the globe do when their kids go to bed: wear fat pants; sit in my chair; drink wine and glue myself to social media then TV. I craved those times. I have mom friends who would tell tales of a mystical 8PM bedtime and my head would spin with delight of all the possibilities that an evening that began at 8PM would hold. I could watch TV. I could knit a blanket. I could blog again, or read again, I could finish the laundry..so many activities. Tell me more about this 8 PM bedtime, I ask. Tell me about this unicorn. Then there it was. That word again. Routine. (making Daniel Tiger face) routine. Yes, a routine: a timeline that would occur at the same exact time every night, routine.

So here goes. 8PM was unrealistic- we were trending around 11PM -so 9PM was the goal. When we crossed the Colorado boarder from Kansas, I expected the scenery to magically change into a mountainous paradise. It didn’t happen right away, but we drove on and finally scenery exploded with beauty. This was the same for bedtime. It didn’t happen the first or the second or the third night but dammit I was committed. I made up a song. Bath time. Brush Teeth. Bottle. Bed. 

Judgment moment: My son is two and a half and still has a bottle at bed. Ok its out
there. I know it is bad, but getting my son off the bottle is on my long
list of things to do behind clean garage, pay off credit cards, removing
chipped toenail polish and oil change. I accept it as his security blanket and
know that one day that phase will be over.

The seven thirty alarm sounds off in my head. They are happily playing and I step outside for a mental pep rally. Breathe in and out. I am ready. Preparing for the after bath squirm fest, I set out pajamas and diapers. Cece likes to curl up like a potato bug at the site of a fresh diaper and Jackson  runs around the house naked (or air-drying).

8PM. Bath. They love bath time. Jackson methodically runs his cars along the side of the tub and Cece licks the walls and eats the bubbles. Three nights in a row, bath time is interrupted by floating turds. “Cece poop!” Jackson yells and we immediately abort the bath. I try to remove kids and poop in a rush of towels and toilet paper. (note to self: buy fishnet) I dry and dress Cece first. She fights me  then becomes fascinated by sticking her finger in her belly button so I am able to slip on her diaper and pajamas. “Jackson’s turn!” I say. “Brush teeth?” he reminds me. How dare we leave the bathroom before this step is done. He points to the Elmo toothpaste. I squeeze it on his toothbrush knowing he will never forget the time I accidentally used the Crest. “Mama brush teeth” he says. (My evening dental hygiene has vastly improved since we began this routine.) Once we are done, I wrangle him into his room and attempt to get his pajamas on. He does this rolling bended leg move that makes it impossible enough to get pants on that he is able to jump up and go running. This begins a chase followed by a tackle and lots of giggles.

I let them run off bath energy while I prepare the bottles and make a lame attempt at cleaning. I repeat the little chant so they know that we are still on a mission. Bath time, brush teeth, bottle, bed. Jackson laughs. “Bottle!” he repeats. We are back on track. He runs to the kitchen to watch me pour the milk into their bottles. I set the lid on the counter, playfully close to the edge. He grabs it. “Oh no!” yell, familiar with this daily banter. “give me that lid, Mister!” He takes a mad dash into the living room and throws it behind the reclining chairs. I know exactly where it is because he does this every night.

The three of us march into their bedroom for bottle/book time. I shut the door. Blackout curtains have helped create the illusion of nighttime when the sun is still setting.  Jackson picks out the same four books every night. Three by his favorite author Sandra Boynton and Good Night Blue. They know each page by heart but are still excited. Three singing pigs say, LaLaLa. No!No! you say. that isn’t right. The pigs go OINK all day and all night. They crack up. As  I finish a book, Jackson says “another one”. We are all out of books now so I quickly turn off the light. They fuss a but are comforted as I crawl in bed between the two of them.

Final step – Getting them to actually fall asleep. The three of us lay there-In total darkness and total silence. I have tried nightlights, star projectors and music machines and learned that sleep and distraction don’t mix. Jackson cuddles into my side and I stroke his hair. Cece is more like a fish, flailing on my other side. She starts to burrow, then sits “Hi!” She laughs. “Shhh,” I whisper, “bedtime” She flails away.  I can feel Jackson’s breath getting deeper, he is starting to drift off. I cuddle him close and start kissing his head. His puts his leg on mine. I sigh. Still awake. Cece stands up. “No Cece.” I say. I gently place her back to the sleeping position while maintaining the hair stroke that I hope will coax Jackson to sleep. She plops her thumb into her mouth. I slow my breath to releive a bit of tension. I imagine I am just finishing a perfect yoga class and am laying in coupse pose; deep inhale deep exhale. Kids can sense tension and if I start to let my anxiety take over they will never fall asleep. They can sense my weakness. Jackson is lightly snoring next to me. I roll toward Cece, still holding on to him for comfort. She is quietly sucking her thumb. She doesn’t like too much cuddling when she is tired so I rub her back. The flailing has stopped and I can tell she has drifted off as well. Time to make the escape. I wiggle my arm from under Jackson and roll Cece away so I can get out of the bed. I have to maneuver over the safety rail and find my way through the darkness, to the door, praying for no stray blocks or trucks along the way. The floors squeak under me and look at them one more time as I open the door. One turn of the knob and I am out of their room. Freedom! The mystical unicorn does exist. I am enjoying it right now.


Because, Toddler

August 16, 2015

Q: Why haven’t I written here in over two years?

“No No!” I say for the millionth time today. Jackson is climbing on the chair next to me. He hasn’t technically done anything wrong yet, but he has the look on his face that alerts me that he is scheming. He starts to paw at things on the table while I scan all the objects to quickly determine what will be bad enough for me to quit nursing Cece and grab from him. Keys. Anthropologie catalogue. Nah. I may never be at the goal weight that allows me to spend $100 on a T shirt that looks like it is from a thrift store. Pen, potentially dangerous depending on if he can figure out how to click the tip. Remote. Hmmm…how invested am I in this episode of “Jeopardy”? He grabs the keys and starts hitting the unlock button causing the car alarm to go off. Great. Now I have to pull Cece back and grab Jackson. Cece immediately begins to cry and Jackson sees me coming for the keys and starts running off with them hitting the unlock button as he goes. For her own safety, I set the crying infant down and chase the toddler. I finally catch him and take the keys. He screams. And she is screaming. and the dog is barking because of the honking car. Sorry neighbors. He is a toddler.

Sometimes I try follow him around and pick up the toys he has randomly discarded around the living room. I read a book titled “organizing with kids” or something unrealistic like that. One of the chapters was all about having a designated playroom and not keeping toys in the living room. Clearly that person did not live in a small house. The living room in our house is the TV area, office, entry way, occasional dinner area, homework haven, toddler entertainment area and infant changing station. I believe all rooms should multi task. That is getting the bang for your square footage buck. Just invest in nice storage…that way your junk is stored in pretty boxes and baskets. Most of the time I am following Jackson around with one of these pretty baskets collecting the scattered toys like they were currency. I sit to pick up the toys from a basket he dumped over (then immediately moved on). One thing I learned with a baby boy is never to make eye contact when you are sitting on the floor. That is always an excuse to pounce. Before I know it he has body slammed me and was grabbing my neck as if he had the strength to knock me on the ground. I give in hoping that there is some sort of magical correlation between increased wrestling time and earlier bed times. He then sits directly on my neck and digs his little toes into my shoulders. This is not the best time to figure out it is time for a toenail clipping. His knees are now against my cheeks and his face is directly above me. I notice some drool beginning to form at his lip. As if in slow motion, it starts to get bigger and fall toward my face. Of course I scream which makes him laugh. He tightens his knees around my face causing my lips to purse out in some sort of upside down duck face. This makes him laugh harder and makes my mouth a bigger landing area for droll. I now have droll on my face and probably in my mouth. There is a diaper way to close to my head that is most likely dirty. My toddlers knees have become a nut cracker and my head is the nut.

Why am I so tired?
Why can’t I manage to complete a full thought?
Why has it taken me over a year to write a full story?
Who is president?
What day is it? Actually, what year is it?
Is he standing on the table?
Why am I fat?
Which celebrity couple is now getting divorced?
Are baby doll dresses and Doc Martins back in style?
Am I dreaming?
Will the food I made get eaten or thrown off the high chair?
When did my boob become a stepping stool?
Is he eating lotion? Again?
Who put my phone in the trash and my wallet in the tub?
Why is there a toy truck in my purse ?
Did I actually think I could take him to a movie?
Why don’t I pay attention when people give me simple directions (sign on the top line…)?
How many times did I go to the kitchen and forget why?
Why is Mickey Mouse always on?
Why are the dog and cat hiding?
I want to answer this by saying because he is a toddler, but actual full sentences rarely come out of my mouth these days. So if you see me looking extra mangled and worn down it is not because I had a baby a few months ago. Its. Because. Toddler


The Rolling Stone

June 20, 2012

I have been finding my life again here in Columbus. Little by little, I am defining what is normal life. I started going to a writing group…it really sprung me back into action this week. My poor, neglected blog!! I have internet and am reunited with my camera man. Before I go back into my usual blog format, I have to share my writing group assignment. If you are looking for a great writing prompt, here is one. Write a response to something. Pick a song, poem, or even a piece of art and write a response. I picked “Like a Rolling Stone” By Bob Dylan. When I went away to college, I wrote a paper about this song. I said I felt like that poor little rich girl about to step out in to the big nasty world. I thought it was pretty fitting to use the same song for my new life, and how much I have grown since then. (and I am not talking about the size of my behind….). 

I couldn’t wait to get away…to go somewhere. Somewhere that wasn’t home. At three, I packed my clothes into a plastic Minnie Mouse suitcase and ran away to my Grandma’s house. At nineteen I ran away from a failed relationship and a certain future. I packed up my journal and my small town attitude to something bigger. I was pretty brave, that spoiled little rolling stone who was used to a walk in closet and an easy life. Is the poor little rich girl metaphor a bit tired? Why are we so happy to watch her fail, why can’t we cheer for her as she grows up to be a stronger woman? Just like a butterfly, she sheds her overpriced designer cocoon.
Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you ?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.
You don’t know me at all. Just because you fail doesn’t mean you are a failure. Just because you are broke, doesn’t mean you are broken. This little doll needed a slice of humble pie to appreciate the walk in closet and dream that one day those eighty pairs of shoes would find themselves a home. I don’t talk so loud, because I listen. I don’t judge because I am not perfect.
You’ve gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
And now you find out you’re gonna have to get used to it
You said you’d never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but know you realize
He’s not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And say do you want to make a deal?
The deal wasn’t so bad. I didn’t sell my soul or anything…just a piece of my youth. But really, don’t we all need to trade that in for a suit and tie? Why does it matter where I got my juice? Do you always like to kick a girl when she is down? Sometimes Miss Lonely is a mask, or a cover for what we are scared to show. I can live on the street and in that mansion on the hill, I can live with my self and the decisions I have made. While you are so quick to judge me, ask yourself this when was the last time you fell from grace and got back up?
You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal.
He didn’t steal anything. I stole from him. Experience and life. They come with mistakes. Maybe I used the diplomat, maybe I loved him. What do you care? It is over. He wasn’t for me…..maybe he has a lovely wife now and a lovely home with a white fence in a gated town…his chrome horse retired for an even bigger one. Are you going to be better for me, with your accusations and your mockery? I saw the jugglers and the clowns…I laughed in their faces and threw pennies in their hats. I wasn’t perfect, I was a child who tossed her self into the lonely world. I lifted up with a smile from the juggler and a hug from the clown. We all need a little comfort food on the coldest of winter days. I admit I took advantage and they got hurt. I feel bad about the frowns, but we all have to walk away sometimes. How is that any different from you getting your kicks from my sadness?
Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
They’re drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made
Exchanging all precious gifts
But you’d better take your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.
The language wasn’t what drew me in, how silly of you to assume that. Amused only tells half of the story. What do you know of love? I like to run away, as I said. I ran away from Napoleon. Maybe I didn’t want a life of rags and pawned diamond rings. I am not proud of breaking his heart, but mine broke as well. Don’t you know that the pretty people do have it made? A smile opens a door, a flirty gaze gets a drink. Precious gifts are fine for a while. I didn’t exactly hike up my skirt to the highest bidder, but I used some charm to get somewhere that wasn’t calculating IQs. The pretty people demand something from you, they take back what they have given you the minute you aren’t one of them. My face has long been replaced by now with something younger and prettier and bustier. Another little rich girl who will learn the same lesson when she is ready. You ask how it feels to be on my own but you didn’t warn me of the dangers. You laugh at my mistakes and riddle my failures. I have no secrets to conceal, but I am far from invisible. I guess that makes me a metaphor, or as you like to think, such a cliché. Rags to riches, poor little rich girl. She went away to the big city and learned a thing or two about life. She made some mistakes and took advantage of some people to get ahead. She became a person of strong convictions and then a strong person with some convictions.

How does it feel
To be on your own. With no direction home
Like a complete unknown Like a rolling stone ?
I like being on my own. I am in charge, I call the shots. I am no longer the rich girl or the poor girl. I don’t need a direction home. I am a bird, so I flew away and built another nest. Being an unknown has its advantages, but I am far from that. I don’t need a big fancy name or a group of admiring followers to be valuable. I am not as superficial as you would like to make me out to be. I am every nineteen year old princess who leaves her suburban palace to find her prince or maybe her destiny. It has been over ten years since that journey started, since I listened to your words and cried. I knew what you were warning me of, and I tried so hard not to become that little rolling stone. Then it happened, I stopped caring what you thought. You can paint me whatever you like, but I don’t care. You can call me names and make me fit nicely into your box of stereotypes. Maybe I could have chosen you and you would have made me happy, or maybe your inconsistent intolerance for my flaws is what turned me off. You sound like a scorned lover. How easy for you to mock me and point out the poor judgments I have displayed. You are that insecure voice in my head telling me that I am not good enough or that I don’t deserve this happiness. Not once did you point out how I have learned from them or that I have changed some of my girlish thoughts. It is your voice that has haunted me since the day I left home, your words I was afraid to become. A stone won’t roll forever, it will eventually stop and become sediment. You won’t haunt me forever, I will eventually tune you out.

(um..insert random pictures of things that look like rocks and travel? sure, why not. I love pictures. )

The Method

April 11, 2012
It’s a broken poem, started up yesterday
And it came true now, mind was on holiday
It’s an open road will we soon see the end
It’s an open book, a story to tell the band
There is hardly a method you know” TV on the Radio

There seems to be a method for everything. Methods to loose weight, methods for parenting, methods for success. Anything you do, you need a game plan for. If you succeed, then everyone wants to know..what is your method? What is you secret? How did you do it? I sometimes wonder if we get so locked in the method that we are oblivious to the end result. I am terrible with directions. If someone tells me where to go, I simply ask “what is the address”. If they try to give me turn by turn directions, I start to tune them out and hear things like “la la la..gas station on your right…la la la, blue house. I don’t mean to do it, and my life has become significantly easier since the invention of GPS, but I just can’t seem to focus on a step of instructions that work for someone else to get somewhere. When I buy anything that requires assembly, I can usually function by looking at the picture..not really reading the directions. I love to make as man “there are two kinds of people in the world” analogies as I can. It simplifies things to black and white, eliminating any sort of complicated shades of gray. So for this post, we are going to say there are two kinds of people in the world: those who are driven by the results and those who are driven by the method. I am a results person. Whether they are good or bad results, I am just looking for the point. When people explain things to me, whether it is at work or when I am trying to fix a phone, I simply ask “what is the point of this?”. Sometimes it makes me seem rude, but since I can’t always comprehend other people’s methods, I cut right to the chase. I need to see the big picture before I can see the process of painting it. When I think about parenting, I am often amazed about how many opinions there are about to raise your children. Since children don’t come with a step by step handbook or a picture of what the end result looks like, I assume the method that works best for you is the best bet. My end result is pretty easy: I want children who aren’t jerks, respect themselves and who aren’t so caught up in trying to mimic other people’s methods that they forget that the real fun in life comes from creating your own methods. So when they are doing the kind thing like holding a door open for a mother struggling to get an oversized stroller through it, I would be overly proud to know that they aren’t jerks. When they look at themselves in the mirror and they truly love what they see, then I will know they respect themselves. When they create their own paths in life, one that involves learning from acehivements as well as mistakes, then I will know they are learning their own methods. I feel pretty strongly that the best mentors, parents, bosses, etc. are those who are clear about the end result and build you up enough so you are confident enough to come up with the methods that work best for you.

That is why I have this blog. It is my method..my result. My style is a reflection of my method. When I read magazines, or watch TV, or even try to find women around me that have amazing personal style, I see one thing: an end result. That is what an oufit is every day, and end result of how you want the world to see you. How you get there should be up to you. One day I want to look professional, confident, grown up. I put on a black button down and a full skirt. I added a gray cardi, feeling that the dark colors would make it more serious, more confident. These are the colors that demand I be taken seriously, that say my methods are just as good as yours. Some days I dress in vibrant colors or playful flowy prints. Those are the days I want to seem fun or flirty or relaxed. When you start to create your own methods, you have more freedom over your results. I don’t like to ask people “how do you do that?” I like to just admire results.





DSC_2047.jpg DSC_2050.jpg


Shirt: New York & Co
Skirt: The Limited
Shoes: Seychelles (DSW)
Sweater: H&M
Belt: Betsey Johnson (TJ Maxx)
Necklace: Charlotte Russe

Writng prompt: What is a method you created that you are proud of. What was the end result? Did you achieve the result you wanted? Some would argue that methods and structure are more important. Which do you find to be of greater importance?

The Pet Sitter

March 22, 2012

Olivia is always one to sweat the hypothetical. She asks for something like a cell phone and cries when I tell her I was twenty-five when I got my first phone. “Do you know who old I was?” My dad piped in. She ignored him as the tears started to brew over her eyes. “Can I have an iPad?” She asked.

Me: Do you have any money?
Olivia: Can’t you just put it on your credit card?
Me: No. I don’t need an iPad. You can buy one with your money
Olivia: How much does one cost?
Me: like five hundred dollars.
Olivia: Where am I going to get five-hundred dollars?
Me: Get a job
Olivia: I can’t get a job. Can’t you just make five hundred dollars from paper?
Me: If I could do that don’t you think we would have a house with more than one bathroom?
Olivia: I mean one of those bills. Like you make for my lunch money. Can’t you make a bill for five hundred dollars?
Me: You mean a check?
Olivia: yes. Can you write a check for five hundred dollars so I can get an ipad?
Me: No. I would have to have five hundred extra dollars in my checking account. You don’t just write checks.
Olivia: How am I supposed to get an ipad?
Layla: you could have a lemonade stand.
Me: there you go. You would need to have a couple lemonade stands
Layla: like five?
Me: if you make twenty dollars per lemonade stand, then you would need two hundred and fifty lemonade stands to get an iPad
Olivia: But I want an iPad now.
Me: Why do you need an iPad?
Olivia: For the apps. I like apps
Me: What is wrong with just using a computer?
Olivia: It doesn’t use apps. It is useless.
Me: I see.
Layla: how about a pet sitting business? You could walk and feed dogs.
Olivia. Yeah!! I could do that. Can I start walking dogs for money?
Me: If you want. That is a lot of dogs to walk.
Olivia: I need posters. Can I make posters and put them in the yard so people know I walk dogs?
Me: sure.
Layla: you need to get it laminated. So they don’t get wet. Just like at school. The janitor laminates things for us.
Me: Really?
Layla: Yep. Olivia needs to have the janitor laminate her posters.
Olivia: Can’t I just laminate them at home?
Me: You need a laminator.
Olivia: Can you buy me one?
Me: No. that is silly.
Olivia: Can I buy one? I have ten dollars.
Me: they cost more than ten dollars.
Olivia: How am I going to get my signs laminated?
Me: take them to Kinkos or something.
Olivia: Can I send it to uncle Jeremy? He makes signs
Me: Sure
Olivia: I can’t wait to get home and make a sign.
I remember starting a “business” as a kid. I read tons of The Babysitters’ Club or always imagined having the perfect Lemonade stand. There was so much I wanted to buy and I couldn’t understand why my parents just wouldn’t give me what I wanted. Huffy bike..Barbie dream house (with elevator), Hypercolor T-shirt, Umbros Shorts, a Walkman and New Kids on the Block Tapes, a Nintendo complete with Duck Hunt…there was so much temptation for a kid. And this was before the world of cell phones and laptop computers and iPads. It is funny to watch the kids gradually grasp the concept of why they don’t have everything and how much stuff actually costs. I am sure Olivia won’t walk a single dog…but at least I don’t have to be the mean Mom who won’t buy their kid an iPad (today).
Parenting tip: If you want to keep your children busy for hours…tell them they can’t have an iPad so they spend hours making signs for their new “business.”

Writing prompt: Do you remember starting a business as a child. Was it a lemonade stand or your version of the Babysitters’ Club? What did you want to buy with the money? Were you successful or did you loose interest before you even started?