Thursday, February 28, 2013

"I love you like an animal loves chapstick."

February has been a fury of visiting and visitors, snow, preparations, and family. Lexi and Lyla have been traveling along joyfully with us, Lexi singing to herself about everything and saying hilarious things to Lyla to make her laugh (see blog title).

The beginning of February brought us to Nebraska for a surprise weekend with Eric's family. His dad had a birthday and since we forgot to send him a card, we figured we should make up for it by driving through the night and bringing his only two grandkids to visit him and hand him the card in person. ;-) While in the fabulous flat state of beef and corn, we checked out the local museum where all the Nebraska wooly mammoths reside. Lexi and I (residing in the "land of Lincoln" most of our lives), were pretty much in awe and Lexi wanted to bring one home with us. I told her our car was too small. It is.


We returned home just in time to clean the house really fast and welcome my mom and sister Molly from Mexico. They stayed with us for a week to visit and so that Molly could go audition for a dance scholarship at the college she is planning to attend this fall in Michigan. My family also tends to attract more family, (which is why my very tall and handsome brother is lounging in this picture as well) and almost every evening we had at least five extra people eating with us since there are current significant others involved as well. Every night was a party. 

Pretty much this post is super boring and the only reason I am writing it is probably so I feel better about having let the entire month slip by without writing about anything. Let's just say with our Saturdays booked all day with our Foster parenting classes, spending the weekends after class out of the state of IL, and having family visit, (not to mention I had a birthday and my mom DID tell me that I'm "getting up there", so blame it on my age?), and working working working to get our basement finished so my sister can have a place of her own and finally unpack (after already living with us for two months), there hasn't been much down time.

So then everyone left, and Lexi got sick.
Automatic, mandatory down time.
I would be lying a little if I didn't say I was kind of glad I had an excuse to see no one and go nowhere.
We watched a lot of kids netflix and ate a lot of dry cheerios. Lyla especially.

Alli tried to cheer sick Lexi up by building a friend in the yard for her to enjoy.

Now everytime I walk by this window in my kitchen, I see THIS DUDE out of the corner of my eye and I think I have a stalker. I literally have jumped in fear about three times before I realize my stalker could be demolished with some hot water and a shovel...

Yesterday, he fell over. Lexi told me he died.

And now Lexi is better and making her happy messes again while singing merrily. 
Fortunately for Lyla, with Lexi laid up sick for a few days, she had nothing better to do with no one to chase and decided to give walking a try. So now she walks a little bit and crawls really fast the rest of the time. :-)

Also, I saw a massive dog today with some killer hippie dreads that hung all the way to the ground. The most hilarious part about this is that the massive and enormously flamboyant hippie dog was being walked by an extremely respectable looking, well dressed middle aged woman. Yup. Mind blown. 

Also, think before promising your child you will go to the library before checking the weather. Pushing 100+ pounds of kids, books, and stroller through slush snow for a mile and a half there and then back again in the freezing wind is not heroic. It's stupid. But at least now we have some new books to read, including, but not limited to, Tiki Tiki Tembo, Ladybug Girl, three Toot and Puddles books, and Chester's Way. I sense a cozy afternoon in my very near future. 

And this is (finally) The End. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Parenting. And the benefits of yogurt facials. Or something like that.

Parenting is an interesting business. People (and the Beatles) say "all you need is love" to raise a child. Other people say the "firm hand of discipline." And still others, when you announce that you are soon-to-be-parents, just shake their heads and whisper, "Good luck." A bit sarcastically, I might add. 

People are constantly telling me that I "have my hands full" with my two girls. 

No sh*t. 
Thanks for telling me. As if I didn't know that already. 

Sometimes, parenting is incredibly rewarding. And squeezing your kids to your chest as you all laugh and giggle together is probably one of the best things about life and being a parent. 

But sometimes, parenting isn't so great. 
And sometimes, you just have to bang your head against a wall. 

Lexi was eating lunch in the kitchen today. I gave her a leftover piece of french toast (warmed up in the toaster) with blueberry jelly on it and a little dollop of greek yogurt on the side for her to dip the pieces into. She sat down and began to eat happily, stabbing her little fork into each bread cube and then dunking it into the pile of yogurt. 

I'm not really sure what happened next. I think it had something to do with my sister talking to me in the dining room, Lyla choking on something she ate off the floor in the kitchen pantry, and Eric telling me what he needed from the hardware store by this afternoon. Whatever it was, I was not paying attention to Lexi. 
And this is where I constantly fall short as a parent. I don't give Lexi constant supervision. Maybe it's because she is almost three, is so articulate, and talks and reasons like she knows what she's doing. The problem with this is that I begin to treat her as an individual who is much older than she is and actually DOES know what she's doing. Re-phrase. Lexi KNOWS what she's doing. There is NO doubt about that. Let's just say her decisions aren't always the best. Basically, her decisions reflect the fact that she is not quite three years old. Blame that on her frontal lobe development.

So there I was, chasing Lyla, picking up the pieces of my house that Lexi tornadoed through all morning (did I mention she is feeling a whole lot better?!), and completely ignoring Lexi as she is quietly eating her lunch in the kitchen. Lesson to take away from this: NEVER assume that your not-quite-three-year-old is doing what you think she is doing. Ever. Never ever. (I say this a lot, don't I?)

I happened to walk back into the kitchen (no more than five minutes since I left her in there in the first place) and BEHOLD. 

There was Lexi. 
On her hands and knees on TOP of the table, rubbing her face in her plate of yogurt...
chewed up and spit out pieces of french toast all over the table around her, covering the table, stool, and floor. Lexi heard me come in and looked up at me, her face and hair a white gooey mess. 

"OH MY ...." I exclaimed. I backed up back into the hall and shut my eyes. 
"What happened?" Eric came up behind me and entered into the kitchen. 
"I don't want to open my eyes again," I said. And slowly and methodically, not knowing quite how to respond, I started banging my head against the wall. 


Then my head began to hurt with all the banging, so I quickly excused myself to the bathroom where I burst out into silent hysterical laughter. 

Eric took one look at Lexi, tried to say something appropriate for the situation, and ended up with me in the bathroom, in fits of laughter. Actually I think he came in at first because he wasn't sure if I was convulsing or crying or what. When he saw that I was laughing (hey, it's a coping mechanism) he joined in. At least we are together in not knowing what on earth we are doing with this kid. Seriously.

I eventually got myself under control and managed to extricate Lexi from the mess and plop her in the bathtub for a pre-nap bathe.  

"That was funny what I did with my lunch...." Lexi giggled as I dried her off from her bath. 
"What??!? NO! That was not funny!" I said. "We eat our food appropriately, not like puppies, do you understand?"
Lexi giggled. "Yes, Mama."

Moral of the story: Don't sweat the small stuff. And don't leave your kids alone with yogurt. 

Happy Parenting! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

A spoonful of chocolate

You know how Mary Poppins uses a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down? Well, in our house, it's chocolate. Lexi refused to take her bubblegum flavored children's tylenol until I bribed her with chocolate afterwards if she drank all of it. "Oh! OK!" and that was that.

Lexi is sick. We are on day three of a 102 F fever and general "not feeling so good," as she tells me. Her fever comes and goes along with her doses of tylenol, which I find interesting. During the down times, she is on the couch watching Netflix kids movies, and during the up times you can barely tell she's sick (in other words, she's running around the house singing and yelling and doing all the things she normally does). And then she gets all whiny and lethargic as soon as her fever returns.

 My older sister, who will be living with us this year, has been a huge blessing to me. Not only is she an amazing help with the kids (she has more maternal skills than I do and she is single!), but she has also been scrubbing all those overlooked places in my house that I have good intentions for, but never get around to doing it. She says she is just "cleaning out all the dark corners." haha. Funny that she says that, since we have been busy cleaning out all the dark and untouched corners of our relationship as well. And for that, I am thankful. And blessed to have her back in my life.

Every night for the past few weeks, I put the girls to bed, and then the three of us (Alli, Eric and I) head down to the basement and work on the remodeling until we drop. I understand why people normally hire a full crew for something like this (ha!). But in spite of the work, it is actually a great learning experience for all of us (and for my cats, who are quite thrilled to have found a small opening in the drywall and have taken to racing back and forth behind the walls as fast as they can...). And being that Eric isn't thrilled with his real job, he goes on "vacation" to the basement and is really enjoying the manual labor and power tools. Who doesn't feel powerful with power tools?! Seriously, they are awesome. Even more so if you are a woman and know how to use them. :-) Our goal is to get the place livable by the middle of the month, when we are expecting some long awaited visitors.

In spite of the all consuming work that is the basement, this winter is starting to feel a bit isolating to me. As a stay at home mom (especially when the kids are sick for days on end), it can be days before you venture out of the house. Every meeting with people has to be intentional and planned in advance. No one is out at the park because it is so cold, and really, even if there were people out, my girls are begging to go back inside to get warm after ten minutes in the cold outdoors anyway. 

But I am thankful that it is February. Because February means that spring and change and new growth are indeed in sight. And spring is always worth waiting for. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Snow, mud, and a very green sled

My two and a half year old has had a fever accompanied by a bad head cold all weekend. This morning was no exception. But poor Lexi had been watching the snow fall and pile up for the past two days and was desperate to go outside. I consulted my husband, who told me that getting sick from the cold (especially if you are already sick) is a wives' tale. So I reported to Lexi that if her fever went away, she could go outside. About an hour later, I checked her temperature and voila! No fever. 
So we did.  

Ten minutes later, Lexi was back in the house, stripping off her wet snow clothes and begging for hot chocolate. Honestly, I think it's really ALL about the hot chocolate. This girl knows how to play me. Go outside, get cold, cry that you're frozen and BAM! Inside with a steamy mug of hot chocolate. 
By noon, her fever was back, but her spirits very high. While I love to hear her singing and feeling a little better, at the same time I can't help but wonder....don't sick kids normally want to lay on the couch and watch movies all day? Because mine won't.

And here is some Chicago crazy for you. Last week, it was 60 F (which still has a bit of a nip to it in January). My sister and I ventured out on a walk with the girls. (Mostly we just wanted to get away from the dismal state of our basement...will it ever be finished??)

Lexi, running wild as usual, discovered how to make music by running alongside a metal fence with a stick. 

At our local park, there were lots of fun slush puddles to explore.

Drawing in the ice. Never misses a chance to create something new. Love that about her.

Lyla, catching a few rays in the stroller. Once this kid is walking for real (she prefers standing and then dropping into her speed crawl) there will be more amusing outdoor pictures of her. For now, she is forever stuck in the too small starfish snow suit. But she does have a personality. I promise.

When Lexi was exploring the outdoors for the first time as a baby, I resolved to let her do just that. Explore. Get dirty. Play and discover! Clothes can be washed. Skin can be cleaned. Childhood is for playing.
Turns out, this was probably the best decision I made in raising Lexi. She is completely obsessed with puddles and MUD. If I had a rule against it, she would break it anyway (if you know Lexi, you know what I'm talking about), so it's just better all around if I am laughing while she gets herself filthy. :-)

YES, you CAN play in the mud. :-)