Mountain View Mommy: Sand, Trucks and Testosterone

March 30, 2007

the perfect age?

Filed under: Family — by mvmommy @ 6:30 am

Right now I think Justin is at the perfect age: somewhere between 1 – 2.5. He’s 16 months, and I love it!

Every age I seem to love more than the last. But I forgot how much I particularly loved this age (and it wasn’t even very long ago that I was there with Andrew).

He is all smiles and kisses. He wants hugs and snuggles all the time. He is full of big drooly grins and new teeth. He can toddle around to get to things he wants, but he hasn’t mastered his legs yet – so it’s still adorable to see him walking. He is starting to talk, but no one can understand most of the things he says except for me. He can play independently, but also wants mommy too. He can eat on his own, follow basic instructions, and doesn’t need so much careful supervision. He can even hold his own with the big kids now if he needs to. He’s a little man, but still my baby.

Everyday is an experience with him. We either learn a new word, or we learn a new skill. It’s crazy to see him interact with the world in the way adults do. He knows that in the morning – he gets dressed – so he picks some socks and shoes to put on. If he wants to go outside, he says ‘outside’ and heads to the door. He will pick up his hat, put it on his head, and bring the jacket to me to put on – BEFORE he tries to open the door. If he wants milk, he goes to the fridge and tries to open it. If he’s done with dinner he takes off his bib, hands me his plate and says ‘done’. If I lay down, he lays down too and pretends to snore. If he’s mad, he swats out his frustration at the offending toy … but then says ‘sorry’ in the next breath to apologize for hitting. Everything about him is charming & amazing at the same time.

I think the best part is that he can’t fully talk yet. No, no… I am not trying to stifle him. It’s just that he has no problem communicating what he wants effectively without words. I know exactly what he’s trying to tell me – and I think it is so fun that we can communicate like that. I feel so close to him right now, and I realize that once he talks, he won’t need me anymore to interpret.

I spent an hour this morning simply snuggling with him in my bedroom closet. Why? Because he wanted to explore the shoe boxes and lids. Because he likes playing peek-a-boo behind my full length body pillow that I have stored in the closet. Because he just wanted to roll around on the floor under the hanging shirts & pants. I will take any excuse I can find to hug my sons… so I had no problem spending an hour in a 4×4 closet practicing pointing out all of our body parts. Right now, his favorite body part is ‘eye’ – which always says correctly as he laughs and tries to poke my eye out. Why do I love this age? Because after he gouged out my eye, and I yelled “OWW!”… he proceeded climb on top of me to say ‘sorry’ pronounced ‘sar-woe’ and give me a hug and a kiss with a huge adorable grin on his face. Come on, who can’t love this age?

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March 28, 2007

mall security

Filed under: Stories — by mvmommy @ 7:01 am

With a two year old, things can go from blissful to horrible in .5 seconds. 

The other day we had a lot of blissful.   We were at the mall, getting new shoes for Justin and we were celebrating the good behaviour by having a chocolate chip cookie.   Everyone was behaving nicely as we were loading up the car to go home.   That is when things went horribly wrong. 

Why?  I don’t know.    Ask my two year old.   This is how it went down:

Andrew climbs in the car first and plays around in the backseat as I strap Justin in.

When I am done with Justin, I fold up the stroller & warn Andrew that he is next and he should start crawling into his seat.

When I get to Andrew, he refuses to get into the carseat.  Our normal protocol with this is to warn him and then count to 3 and then he will do it.  So that is what I did. 

One, two, three… still no go. 

I pick him up, try to put him in the seat.  Screaming & yelling ensues.  I try talking to him.  Not working.  So I warn him that I am going to have to buckle him in the hard way, and that I am sorry.  Still, no cooperation… so I proceed to find a way to strap this child, who has now made himself into a wooden plank, into the seat while he’s acting like a bucking bronco and screaming at the top of his voice.  

At this very moment, mall security drives by and stares at me while he’s passing.  I smile as if I am sitting on the beach drinking a MaiTai.  Andrew screams, ‘I want mama’.    Of course, security backs up, stops, and continues to watch the both of us … limbs flailing everywhere.    They don’t come over.  I am not sure why.  I am sure they thought I was abducting my own son.   They just stared at me.  One kid smiling at them from one car seat.  One kid yelling from the other.

Andrew continues to yell ‘I want mama’.  Granted, his mama is right now sitting on top of him and attempting to safely buckle him in.  I give him a hug and tell him I love him, but that we need to drive safely with him buckled in.  I get him harnessed in, and take a moment outside my car to re-group, before stepping back into my car which is a cavern of screaming.  While outside, the mall security man drives away but not before giving me the once over.  I am not sure why he left & did not arrest me.  But right at that moment, I was thanking him for his ineptitude and disinterest. 

Before I hopped into my car again, two construction workers across the parking lot look at me and laugh.  I laughed too, and asked them if they wanted two kids for cheap.  They just shook their heads and kept laughing.  I guess these adorable little hellions are mine for keeps.  

March 26, 2007

the natural mood lifter

Filed under: Thinking — by mvmommy @ 3:42 pm

Who needs Prozac when you have girlfriends?

I haven’t blogged in over a week.  I have just been too tired.  The past two months have been a whirlwind of kids being sick, Emily’s day looming, the husband travelling/working/training for his iron-man, and generally feeling the need to be super mom while all this chaos was unfurling around me.

Last week I took a break to pull it together again, and bring some normalcy back into MY life – not as a mom or as a wife – just as myself.  Only me.  ME.

It’s nice to say that.  ME.  It’s easy to put me last because the kids need me.  It’s easy to put me last, because I try to be a good wife, friend, and life partner to my husband.  Sometimes, I just forget about me.  Until it comes and smacks me in the face and I decide that unless I get a little ME time, I might lose my mind.  That was last week.

So this is what I did to find myself again… I spent a lot of time with a lot of women I love.  I emailed close girlfriends and talked to them about things that were bugging me.  I called my best girlfriends and yelled about things that angered me.  I arranged ‘dates’ with girlfriends that I had been missing… and met them for brunch, dinner, play-dates, movies.  I went bowling with my mother, sister & aunt.  I went to the flower show with my grandmother.  I spent my time with women.  Women whom I love & admire. 

And it worked.  Sure enough, I feel rejuvenated and alive again.  Ready to bring on another month of sickness, travelling, training, mommy-hood, wife-hood, etc. 

It’s amazing what women can do for one another.  I find myself in awe of the friends I have.   Sometimes it’s easy to forget how great they are, until you take away the pressures of life and just share a little.   These are some of the things I re-learned this week:

…Sisters are hilarious, generous, and very competitive with bowling.  They will babysit when they are sick, and bring dinner too.
…Mothers are human.   They can complain with you about men, and can understand when you are tired of being mom.  They won’t judge you, and they will ‘forget’ the conversation afterwards
…Aunts are more than just your mother’s sister.  They are people who love you and wish they spent more time with you.  And with a little effort they could be a great person in your life.
… Grandmothers are amazing.   Seriously, amazing.  They know everything.  From sex and marriage, to gardening and dinner.  They know it all.  And if you just listen, you might learn something that could change your life.
… Old girlfriends give you a perspective that you need.  They get you out of your current world, and make you feel young again.  They bring you back to grammar school & high school.  They know your family and they know you.  They cut through the bull-shit that you tell them, and know what is really going on.
… New girlfriends allow you to soar.   They don’t have past preconceptions about you, and let you dare to be who you want to be.  They help you get there by giving great advice and by making you laugh
… Mommy girlfriends lend the support you need to get through the day.   They love your kids because they love you.  They don’t judge your parenting or your children, and they often teach you by example.   They let you perform ‘parenting experiments’ on your children AND theirs – to see what works and what doesn’t.
… Non-mommy girlfriends remind you of the ideals that you hold, and the life you want to live as a person outside of being a mother.  They remind you of what is at your core, and encourage you to embrace it.
… Best girlfriends do it all.  I don’t know how.  They just do.

All in all, I had a fantastic week thanks to my girlfriends (and my husband, who let me leave all week long to go do things for ME).    I learned a lot, and I hope I don’t forget it all.  However, I know I can count on my girlfriends being there to remind me when I do.

 

March 18, 2007

Boys vs. Girls – the comparison

Filed under: Parenthood — by mvmommy @ 1:41 pm

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After all the highlights, you might be wondering… well….. what happened with the science experiment. Testosterone vs. Estrogen?

I think that the kids weren’t as dissimilar as I thought they might be. My boys definitely toned it down with the girls there. And the girls definitely had no problem roughing it up with my boys. There were marked differences. But there were also surprising similarities.

For example, both sexes apparently like to bang when they are done sleeping. I thought it was just Andrew who sounded like a jackhammer coming through my wall. But when Clara didn’t want to take her nap, she was a little less aggressive about being caged up, but had the prisoner escape tactics down well. There is also a universal need to dump things in buckets. We have a pretend grocery cart filled with millions of plastic grocery items. Three of the four kids seemed to want to dump that every-time the food was put back into the cart (thanks Kate for not participating). All kids were equally interested in sports. Clara & Andrew dueled with baseball bats and tennis rackets. And Clara even took the soccer ball with us to the grocery store. Sand seems to be a universal crowd pleaser & the throwing of it is not limited to the testosterone filled children. Coloring is also widely accepted by both sexes, though the pictures have a marked different tone to them (more on that later).

In the end, I found that the Bittle girls (maybe not all girls) kept up very nicely with my boys. They fell and didn’t cry. They weren’t afraid of the bike ramming or sand throwing and often joined right in. They didn’t run to their dad every two minutes for some tiny infraction. They didn’t mind the dirt, and definitely weren’t shrinking violets. At the same time, I found that my boys (maybe not all boys) could tone it down when necessary. They didn’t wrestle, they didn’t push, they held hands with each other. Dare I say they were the whiny kids in the group? Andrew actually cried when he fell down after running with Clara hand in hand. Clara likewise flipped over him and fell, but just got back up and wanted to start running again. And Kate would go to anyone, whereas Justin wanted to stay next to Mommy all the time. So whose tougher now?

To that same thought, there were a number of differences in the kids. Many of them were more subtle than I thought they would be.

First, the not-so-subtle differences. Clara definitely liked the puzzles. She kept taking out the pieces and checking them out – whereas Andrew just used them as Frisbee’s. Andrew cannot pass a truck or tractor or any utility vehicle without making notice of it and wanting to stop. Clara couldn’t have cared less when we passed an entire job site full of workers with shovels and backhoes and forklifts. And of course where would we be without the banging? Both sexes did it. But only thethe boys did it in order to destroy whatever it was that they were banging on; the girls did it for the sound effects.

Onto the more subtle differences, starting with volume. I would say the volume on my boys definitely topped the charts. I don’t know what it is about talking and yelling. But apparently girls can talk, and boys can only yell. There are the girlie shrieks, but Andrew actually can pull that off amazingly well. So they equalled each other out on that point. Another difference was their ability to walk. The girls definitely had a strut to their walk. Clara looked like a mini version of her mother with that wiggle (that is a compliment Meg), all she needed was the purse. Whereas my boys don’t have a ‘walk’, they seem to only have a run. Every-time I turned around Andrew was darting off in some direction, and Clara was walking nicely next to her dad.

The girls attention to detail seemed to be a bit better as well. Or maybe it was their ability to focus ‘gently’ on the topic at hand. For example, coloring was a noticeable difference. Clara could make a perfect circle and really was working hard at it… whereas Andrew just wanted to pound the crayons into oblivion and demolish anything that was being drawn. Or another example on that same theme, there were differences in their sand throwing techniques. Yes, they both were maniacs out there throwing it all over. But Clara was more about doing it the old fashioned way, with her hands. Andrew would attempt new and improved methods that involved using sticks as levers to catapult it out of the sandbox.. or using rakes to show Clara how to sweep the sand out. In the end, they both had the knack down.

Which leads me to the most important difference… the boys were definitely the instigators. Often I would see the kids start off doing something fairly harmless… and then have it end up in a mess. Like the sandbox example above. Andrew definitely started that. I am sure Clara didn’t climb in there with the broom. And even Justin would play peekaboo nicely for a bit – then resort to poking eyes for fun. I saw Andrew once try to show Clara how to ride the bikes and ram them into other bikes. And he was the one trying to dump water over her head in the bathtub… not the other way around. This is not to say that the girls didn’t follow suit immediately afterwards. They definitely did. However, they weren’t the ones starting it.

After the all the comparisons were made. I am not sure that it’s testosterone vs. estrogen. Or one parenting style vs. another. Or one child’s personality vs. another child’s personality. I think it’s a little of all of it. (Let’s hope that parenting style isn’t the biggest influence, or I am raising hellions.)

In the end, when we all said good-bye…. Clara climbed into Andrew’s truck bed and declared that she wanted a truck bed too. I think some testosterone may have rubbed off on her during the visit. Likewise, the fact that my children are even sitting in the picture above is a miracle that only estrogen could have accomplished. I think we can consider the visit a success.

March 17, 2007

the old married couple

Filed under: Stories — by mvmommy @ 12:32 pm

The Bittle visit – Boys vs. Girls Highlight #5

The last of my happy memories will be Justin and Kate.  Not for any particular reason, mostly because they seem to have found another soul that could understand them.   They were no longer the little siblings.  They weren’t the babies.   They were two independent little walkers following each other around like an old married couple. Where one would toddle, the other would follow.

Kate would flash a huge grin.  Justin would respond by trying to maul her in some fashion.  

Ironically both kids are huge for their gender.  As Joel puts it, Justin is the only kid that makes Kate look small.  And Kate is the only girl that makes Justin look normal.  I think he appreciated her semi-bald head and her lack of fine motor skills as well. 

It was the first time Justin had a playmate that wasn’t Andrew’s age or wasn’t 6+ mos younger than him.  Kate was an equal match and she didn’t mind the big brute roughing her up a bit (even when he was doing his best to be gentle).  She’d just smile and go along with the whole thing sweetly.   It was so adorable to watch the two of them. 

By the end, Justin could even say Kate’s name.  Now you know that is puppy love.

every date must end with a good night kiss

Filed under: Stories — by mvmommy @ 12:22 pm

The Bittle visit – Boys vs. Girls Highlight #4

This might be my favorite moment of all over the course of the two days.  

After bath time, Andrew accompanied Clara to her room, where he watched her get ready for bed (get her stuffed animal, etc).  When she was about to get into bed, I told Andrew he had to leave.  He asked if he could stay to watch her fall asleep.   Cute or creepy?  I vote cute, but said no anyway.

As we walked out the door, Clara suddenly turned around like she had forgotten something important, and yelled “KISS?” at him.  It was as if she knew what she was owed to her after a successful dateplaydate, and wasn’t going to let him leave without getting her reward!   It was sweet and bossy in the way only little girls can be.

Joel & I just started snickering and waited to see what would happen.

Sure enough, Andrew is no dummy.   He was not going to miss out on an opportunity to make-out with a girl.  So he bolted back in there gave her a big kiss right on the mouth.  Then promptly walked away back to his room.

I think the whole interchange sums up what dating will be like for them in 15 years.

bath-time or a space management lesson?

Filed under: Stories — by mvmommy @ 7:28 am

The Bittle visit – Boys vs. Girls Highlight #3

Bath-time was a real experience with 4 children under the age of 2.75. In my mind, I imagined taking all their pictures as they angelically looked at me while hanging over the tub. Later in life, we would look back at those pictures and smile about how adorable our children were.

I am not sure where I got that idea, but it must have been when I was drinking. Seriously, four kids in the bath at the same time? Ridiculous.

There was no room for the water since it’s not an over-sized tub. Kate dissolved in tears. Justin started splashing. Clara & Andrew just played with the 100 plastic letters that were floating everywhere. It was a sight to behold. There were bare butts everywhere.

Amazingly enough, no one noticed the penis’s or lack of penis’s. I was fully expecting that to be the topic of conversation.

The next night was a bit calmer & I was able to get a little video time (minus Justin who was sick and not allowed to spread his snot in the water with the others). Andrew’s electronic toothbrush seemed to have them all enamoured. Clara was 2 inches from Andrew’s face with her mouth wide open – with the indication that he should start brushing her teeth too. Joel kept trying to remove her, but it was almost as impossible as reversing gravity.

peek-a-boo and a little smooch-a-roo

Filed under: Stories — by mvmommy @ 4:11 am

The Bittle Visit – Boys & Girls Highlight #2

Justin didn’t want to be out-done by his brother’s lover-boy antics. So he decided to play peek-a-boo with Kate in the curtains.

He hasn’t taken too many classes at charm school, so he started off a little rough when he would throwing the curtains back, find her & then yell in her face. Clearly he thought that this form of aggression might impress her.

She didn’t seem too intimidated, so he took her lack of fear as being open to a kiss and a hug. This was immediately rebuffed, multiple times because the kid wouldn’t stop trying to maul her behind the curtains. Finally when she wouldn’t give it up (good girl Kate), he tried to poke her in the eye (bad boy Justin).

You can see the first part of this exchange in this video – too bad I missed the kissing & the eye poking (at that point I was saving Clara from Andrew)

the flower exchange

Filed under: Stories — by mvmommy @ 3:10 am

The Bittle Visit – Boys & Girls Highlight #1

Fifteen minutes after being introduced, Andrew decided to pick flowers for Clara as a gift. He knows they make mommy happy, and I think was attempting to win favor with this new pretty girl in a dress. Clara responded with typical feminine charm, by ignoring him completely and staring at the flowers in her hand with disdain. It’s as if she knew that they were in fact weeds, and not flowers, and refused to settle for less.

Thus Andrew decided to move onto the next woman available to him, and picked flowers for Kate. He’s obviously an equal opportunity man. This time he explained in a very sweet voice that these were ‘special flowers for her’. Kate looked at him, looked at the flowers, and swatted them away. Daddy taught her well. ‘Make a man work hard for your affections.’ Andrew’s aspirations to line up a future prom date were clearly crushed.

I was too late to catch Clara & Andrew, but if you watch the video below, check out Andrew’s face as he passes Clara on the bike. It’s as if he’s checking her out to see if she still has his flower & gives her wide berth when he realizes she doesn’t. Too bad you can’t hear what Andrew is actually saying to Kate – it was very sweet – though clearly not getting him anywhere.

Boys vs. Girls – the Aftermath

Filed under: Parenthood — by mvmommy @ 2:06 am

I should preface these next few blogs with an apology. I know I am verbose. Majorly long winded. These next few blogs are all of the same theme, and are mostly for Joel & I. I started by writing them all in one… but it was just too much. So I separated them out. For those of you who are interested and think they can brave it – grab a cup of coffee and something to eat, you might be here for awhile.

This week we had a great visit from the Bittles. It was utter chaos in the best possible way. I am not sure who enjoyed it more:

  • Joel and I, because we got to commiserate and share a lot of laughs together while taking advantage of an extra set of hands
  • Clara and Andrew, because they were like two little devils on a mission to conquer the world
  • or Kate & Justin, because they finally found another human their size who seemed to understand their gibberish

There were so many moments that I wished I had a camera, but it was impossible. I now know why 3rd and 4th kids do not have photo albums. It’s not because their parents don’t want to. It’s because it’s physically impossible to take pictures of your child doing something cute, when 3 of your other children are running in opposite directions towards varying degrees of danger.

I did get to videotape a little bit. I included what I could, but it was interrupted by many rescue attempts of one of the four children. So you will just have to take my word on it. The experience was priceless.

There was a a 30 minute period when I got to take care of just the Bittle girls. It was especially sweet for me. I am not used to little girls in my house. They were so agreeable. So, I took them to the store and they sat in the stroller so quietly and sweetly during my purchase, that I wished I could trade them for my normal more monkey-like shopping partners. They each got stickers for good behaviour and we all left happily. We could have been on a commercial for shopping at Albertsons, it was that nice – no running down the aisles, no climbing out of the cart, no contests to see who can yell the loudest. It was blissful.

After that trip, I had a period of 30 minutes by myself to take care of all 4 kids – boys and girls. Now that was a different experience. The girls let their hair down a bit, and the boys put on a show. There was a temporary 5 minute period where they all sat on the chairs around my table while I fed them a snack. But after that, they must have sent each other mental telepathy to explain how to scatter in every possible direction… because there were kids everywhere. Andrew was showing Clara how to ram his bike into the wall. Clara was trying to ignore him and use the tennis racket too close to Justin. I had Justin trying to escape from the sandbox, which could have led to him ending up headfirst onto the concrete. And I had Kate just as pleasant as could be, mocking me watching me while I tried to make dinner and run back and forth to save various children from various levels of death. I couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer chaos of it all.

In the end, I am not sure if I decided I want more kids… or no more kids. It was a toss up, especially considering that

  • loading the car was an hour ordeal – we always had a something or Kate someone that was missing
  • the zoo was more hectic than usual – getting Andrew everyone to do the same thing was a sheer test of will
  • meal time was impossible – Clara the kids were always running away
  • and germ free living was a dream long forgotten – Justin’s snot bubbles sippy cups were being traded like baseball cards

However, there is one thing I am sure of. I am sure that I wish the Bittles lived with us. I don’t mean in the same state, in the same city, down the street, or neighbors. I mean LIVED WITH US. I had more fun in two days with Joel and his beautiful girls than I have had in two months.

(This was especially true when we were enjoying our Jamba Juices during the kids’ 2.5 hour nap … you read it here… 4 kids… all sleeping… we deserve an award!)

(Or maybe my favorite moment was Joel’s imitation and accurate predication of Randy Jackson’s review of Sanjaya during American Idol. I wish I had taped that!)

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