Saturday, July 26, 2008

Gold Star Husband

When my husband and I were first married, he used to report in with me each time he did a household task. "I loaded the dishwasher," he'd say, beaming with pride. "I preheated the oven and put the Tombstone in." "I took the trash out." “I changed the toilet paper roll.” (Yeah right on that last one). One day, I think I said something like, "What do you want? A gold star?" Since then, we've used the phrase "gold star?" any time one of us wants a little appreciation. "I finished all the thank you notes for the baby gifts," I might say. And then, if I don't get much of a reaction (imagine that), I'll follow up with, "Gold star?" You get the picture.

Gold stars aside, I fear I don't tell my husband how much I appreciate him as often as I should and wish. Our lives have gotten busier and more hectic since we've been parents. Now that I'm trying to figure out how to care for a toddler and a newborn on a day-to-day basis, I admit that I've been a bit more focused on the appreciation I think I deserve. I'm not proud of it, but sleep deprivation and toddler frustration can make one want to throw a pity party. Usually though, I have enough perspective to remember that my life is really good, exactly as it is.

The best part of my life is, of course, the person with whom I’ve chosen to share it. Today marks five years of marriage for me and my husband. I still love him for all the reasons I did back then and now for many more. I always knew that he would be a great father, but to see how much he loves our boys and how involved he is in their hands-on care has been a joy.

So, for the record, here are a few of the things I especially appreciate my husband for these days:

I appreciate that for almost every night (except when traveling for work or working late) since we knew I was pregnant with Baby Boy, my husband has put the Bub to bed. Believe me, the past couple of months, this has been no easy job.

I appreciate the fact that though he does not lactate, my husband did and continues to do his part with the night-time feedings for both boys. Once we hear the cry, he gets up and changes the diaper, hand the baby off to me for feeding, and then takes over if he doesn’t fall back to asleep afterwards. It makes me feel less alone and keeps me from playing the martyr in the middle of the night.

I appreciate the fact that my husband continues to be supportive of my dissertation and rarely draws attention to the fact that I have not held a “real job” since 2001.

I appreciate the fact that just tonight, we arrived home from our anniversary dinner to find the Bub still awake (we’re at my parents’ this week and Bub and his cousin are sharing a bedroom). The hubby invested almost two hours helping get Bub and his cousin to sleep. He fixed the baby gate after Bub busted it out of the door frame in an attempt to liberate himself and his cousin. He changed an enormous poopy (“Did Bub sit in tar?” my mom asked) an hour into the bedtime process. He was up and down the stairs no less than twenty times. He kept his sense of humor the whole time.

This post can’t do justice to how thankful I am to be married to the person I am. He is truly a gold star husband. NTB.

Special gold star for the hubby, who gave me an anniversary card and present on Thursday. Early no less, NTB.

The earrings are actually a combined five years and two boys present. I think he did a great job, NTB.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Stop licking your brother."

"No kicking. No kicking. What did we talk about? No kicking."

"Gentle. Gentle."

"Careful. Please be careful. Careful."


"What did mommy say about throwing sand? No throwing sand."

"Can I change your diaper? Please. I'm going to count to five."

"Do you want a time out?"

"Should I call Daddy?"

"Not right now. We'll play chalk outside as soon as I feed Baby Boy."

"I'm going to count to five."

"Use the towel. Please use the towel. Please, we don't dry our hands with toilet paper. It's messy. Messy."

"Where are your 'slippers' (Bub's word for his crocs)?"

"You can't take the boppy while Mommy is feeding Baby Boy."

"Let's get dressed. Please Bub. Let's get dressed and then we can __________________ [insert anything I think he might be tempted by, that I can still manage to pull off with Baby Boy in tow, such as "go to CVS" or "go eat bagel/muffy" or "ride in special stroller with Baby Boy"]. . ."

"Stop licking your brother."

I am using variations of the above phrases pretty much constantly throughout the day, but I might as well be speaking sign language or French* for all the good they are doing me with the Bub. Now that the post partum helper tour of duty is pretty much over and it's just me and my boys during the day, the Bub is suffering. Basically, he is not listening to me at all, and frankly, given what comes out of my mouth all day, I don't blame him. I'm a drag. I might have more success if I could sit him down and try to get some eye contact, if I could enforce time outs regularly for the most egregious behavior, if I could find more blocks of time during the day when Bub can receive my undivided attention. It's tough to enforce a time out or "get down on the child's level" (say the previous in the voice of Supernanny) if you are holding a baby or have one attached to your breast. I know things will get easier, that Baby Boy will not need to eat so frequently forever, that I will become braver about taking the boys on more outings, that the arrival of his new baby brother will not scar my Bub for life and make him feel permanently displaced and unloved. I know these things, but it still breaks my heart to see the Bub--my beautiful, bright-eyed boy with the great enthusiasm for life, the awesome energy, the amazing smile--acting out and to feel so darn frustrated with him and myself for large portions of the day. For two and a half years it was all about Bub and now it's not because it can't be. It's tough on everyone. I want Bub to know how much he is loved, but obviously I also want to attend to all of Baby Boy's needs. I know, I know, millions of moms have more than one child and they figure it out. I'm sure I will too, but in the meantime, it's just tough. Baby steps.

Speaking of baby steps, we made it to a small, contained park this afternoon and after driving one young boy and his mother away (see "No throwing." "No kicking" above. For the record, he was kicking the wood chips on the playground floor not the boy), the Bub cleaned up his act when a pair of sisters and their very kind mother arrived and proceeded to play nicely for a good hour. Baby Boy did his part and slept as I held him. I walked home thinking "Okay, I can do this." When we arrived home, I placed Baby Boy in his pack and play so I could start Bub's dinner. Next words uttered: "Stop licking your brother."

*French is the language spoken by the mother whose son was the victim of Bub's wood chip throwing and kicking. I tried to translate/imagine what she was telling her son when he cried after Bub stole his stick: "Do not cry. That boy's mother is very negligent and he does not listen as he should. Also, look at that baby. He seems to have dried saliva on his cheek. Mon Dieu!" The woman was actually very kind, but the point is that she felt her son was unsafe around the Bub. Makes me feel pretty bad.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Wall That Neighbors Built

LAP here. For the new readers, I am MEP’s younger and less literary-focused sister. It’s been a while since my last guest post, as MEP’s hubby likes to remind me. Since they are still busy with Baby Boy as well as Bub, the world’s most active and freakishly strong two year old*, I will try to fill in the gaps in her postings until her maternity leave is declared over.

So, over the weekend, it was operation neighborly bonding. We live in a nice little suburban neighborhood with roughly 50 houses. My husband and I moved into the house six years ago, before we had children. I’ll never forget the first day I drove by the bus stop on my way to work and saw a sea of blue and white, comprised of about 50 young grade school children (Catholic schooling is big in this neck of the woods). We assumed that with such a large child population, the neighborhood would be bustling with activity. That hasn’t exactly been the case. There is the occasional kickball game in the cul-de-sac, the annual pre-trick-or-treat gathering, and periodic bonfires on the neighbor’s driveway, but the reality is that families are busy with sporting events, two parents working, etc. so we haven’t really become BF’s with many of our neighbors.

However, we are very good friends with the family two doors down. They have two small children as well so our social lives run pretty parallel. The great news for us is that these friends of ours are putting in a pool. Part of this process involved putting up a retaining wall in their backyard. So, on Saturday my husband set his alarm for 5:55am to allow himself time to dress, grab two Gatorades and head two doors down to begin the wall building process before it got too hot. Trusty future pool owner M was there ready to start as well, which reflects the sort of reliable folks they are.

About 10am, I went out on our deck to survey the work in their backyard and saw a somewhat glorious sight. Not only were my husband (BB) and M working hard, but several other neighbors had stopped by and were helping as well. A sampling of the demographic included a guy who came over after his 72-mile cycle that morning and his 12 year old son who I estimate at about 80 pounds. The girls and I walked down to survey the situation, and my husband’s eyes lit up as he told me that the eighteen year old kid across the street was going to come help scoop gravel after lunch and the lad’s father was going to man the level to make sure everything stayed even. The teamwork persisted until about 3:30pm, with only one short lunch break. It looks great, and we were told that BB’s sweat equity earned us a lifetime membership to the pool, NTB.

I feel the need to also point out that M’s wife called and also stopped by our house during the day to thank me for the use of my husband. This may make him sound like property, but she gets what many people don’t. NTB, but BB is a helpful sort of guy. However, what people seem to forget is that every time he is helping to shovel snow, fix siding on a house, get his company truck to move yet another relative, or pick up mulch for a truckless neighbor, I am at home with our two darling but sometimes emotional girls. Selfish as it may sound, I grow weary of hearing how nice and helpful my husband is with no acknowledgement that I have given up a Saturday of having him around to help me in return. Of course, in this case it was absolutely worth it, with or without M’s wife thanking me. They would help us with anything we ever needed and have on many occasions.

So, the countdown to the grand opening of the pool is on. M has declared himself the “unofficial fastest swimmer in the neighborhood” though he has no formal swimming experience. My husband has told him that he believes that title should belong to me. I’m less concerned about the title (though I do secretly covet it) and more focused on my future of sitting around the pool with a nice cold beverage. Who knows, maybe some other neighbors will join as well and the bonding will continue…

* Being the mother of a two year old and being surrounded by others that age on a regular basis, I feel secure in making such a claim.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I want something better, like a pop si pooko pooko!

Some of Bub’s favorite phrases of late:

1. “Pop si pooko pooko” Translation: Popsicle. Also, “pop si pooko pooko” is the password for entering the fort he makes with the couch cushions.

2. “Get it out.” Said when Baby Boy is clamoring to be fed and while pointing to my chest. A related popular phrase is "Baby Boy eat mommy boobies." How's that for calling it as he sees it?

3. “I lofve it.” There was a stick of butter on the table for corn on the cob. The Bub picked up the butter, took a bite, and asked “What’s dis?” “Butter,” Grammy replies. “I lofve it,” Bub declares.

4. “No, thank you.” Common response to the question “What would you like for dinner/lunch?”

5. “I want something better.” Phrase used most commonly in negotiating his snacks. We might start with some raisins or goldfish crackers, but then he’ll come back at us, requesting “something better” (see “pop si pooko pooko” above). The other day, we were at Dairy Queen, truly the pinnacle of the “something better” food chain, and the hubby lifted Bub up to place his order. Instead of saying “twist with ‘spinkles,’” Bub simply said, “I want something better.” Don’t we all, kid?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Want to switch things up?

Just so you know, I think of things every day that I would like to blog about. But, although Baby Boy is a really good baby, we are still somewhat in survival mode around here. Any significant chunks of free time afforded me are being spent napping. My mom leaves on Tuesday so I am trying to rest up while I have the chance.

Today, however, I have skipped my nap and chosen instead to paint my toenails (was planning a pre-birth pedicure, but Baby Boy's early arrival made that impossible). My newly-painted toenails inspired me to show off an item that I purchased about a month ago: the Switchflop.

My friend B sent me a link to the Switchflops website weeks ago, and I was intrigued. I am real sucker for patterns and prints, for having my shoes match my outfit, and for grosgrain ribbon (I admit that if I lived in the likes of Nashville or Atlanta, I would add a ribbon to my ponytail, even though I am 33 years old . . . oh, and that ribbon would coordinate with my outfit and shoes). When I realized that a store about five minutes (by foot) from my house sold Switchflops, it seemed like fate.

So here's the deal. You pay $30 for a pair of black and white polka-dotted flip flops. Admittedly, this does not sound like a great deal. But then, the black and white ribbon is attached to the flop by velcro. You can remove the ribbon top and add others that cost $10. Again, not a great bargain, but a fun feature. Thus far, I have only purchased one additional top for my Switchflops, but I am enjoying the shoes quite a bit. Besides the novelty and versatility, the Switchflop is quite comfortable (I am not one who typically "lives in flip flops") and, unlike the flip flops I have previously purchased from J. Crew, the Switchflop does not leave my foot black. Sure, your feet can still get dirty in the Switchflops, but the shoe itself does not rub blackness on your feet, forcing you to feel like a Coalminer's Daughter. All in all, I am pleased with the purchase. My only regret is that, as with all sandals (or, at least, all sandals that I wear), the Switchflops do make my feet stink. But, at least they are cute and stinky feet, NTB.

The original Switchflops. These are available in brown and in black. After much deliberation, I chose the black base over the brown. Also, I should warn you that each Switchflop is enhanced with a piece of "bling" in the middle, and some of the bling is lame. These came with a large fake pearl on each shoe, but I easily removed the pearls.

The new top. The multi-colored stripe makes for many opportunities to coordinate with my clothes. NTB.

I am thinking the polish color is definitely a mistake, but oh well.
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