Posts Tagged ‘Babies’

My Best (Material) Christmas Gift

I know after Christmas you’re supposed to say how the best gift was spending time with your family and, yay, we’re all happy, healthy, and only mildly hungover.  And, yes, all of that is lovely and I am blessed to have all of those things.

But sometimes Santa shows up with one of those gifts that you never even knew you wanted; and now, one week later, it has become part of who you are and what you stand for and you wonder how you ever lived without it.

My such a gift this year was the Kermit the Frog mug that Santa left in my stocking.

My mug is perfection.  It features a giant Kermit on the side of it, which mesmerizes my 1 1/2 year-old.  I just need to leave it out on the kitchen counter so he can enjoy it from his high chair, engaging it in a one-sided conversation consisting of “bas” and “das” and “bees,” allowing me to empty the dishwasher or prepare his smoothie before he completely loses it.  The mug is the perfect size for my needs.  It holds more than a single cup of coffee, so the molten hot liquid doesn’t slosh out all over my hands as I chase the baby or the dog or the pair of them around the house.  It’s shaped like a regular coffee mug, only bigger, which is a vast improvement over the giant latte cup I sometimes use which just ends up spilling tea or coffee or soup all down the front of my clothes (as my battered bathrobe can attest).  I can put my mug in either the microwave or the dishwasher (unlike my metal travel mugs), which means I don’t have to dirty up two vessels when making my chai tea lattes.

Most importantly, the mug is “mine.”  I’ve never had a mug that could fit all of my needs like this one.  Years from now (if it survives my son’s adolescence) I hope that this mug becomes as synonymous with “me” as the crystal pitcher where I keep my water for the day or my Stella perfume.

I’m sure “Santa” just bought this mug for me on a lark, in fact I know he did.  He bought it not for me, intentionally, but for my son who loves the Muppets to a ridiculous degree (not that there’s anything at all wrong with loving the Muppets, at all).  It was just an added bonus that I liked the gift so much.

Sometimes it’s the little things you don’t expect that end up meaning the most.

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Crazy (Five-Alarm) Sunday Family Shenanigans

My family is full of worrywarts (myself included), and here’s an example:

Every Sunday my parents go out to breakfast with my aunt and uncle after church.  They mix it up often, and they don’t go to the same place every weekend.  It’s a lovely little tradition, and sometimes my husband and I or my brother and his wife join them (usually minus the whole “going to church” part).

Last night (Saturday) my parents offered to watch my son overnight so that Mr. Mags and I could go to a couple movies.  We had a lovely time (despite the movies’ mediocrity) and we had a fabulous and extravagant dinner (at Noodles & Co.).  In the morning we slept in (until seven freakin’ THIRTY) and went out for breakfast on our own.

Just as we sat down to eat my phone rang.  It was my aunt, and she was wondering if I had heard from either of my parents.  I had not.  She and my uncle were waiting for them at their predetermined breakfasting place of choice (the IHOP, for realz), and had been sitting there for a half hour.

I tried calling my mom’s phone.  No answer.  Tried my dad’s phone.  Nada.  Tried their house phone.  Nothing.  Tried all three again.  Nope.  I called my aunt back, and she still had not seen or heard from my mom, my dad, or my son.

So, by this point my mind was swimming.  I figured that maybe they got out of church and had to stop at home to get the car or change a diaper or something.  I tried all the phones again.  Still no answer.  My aunt called me back, and she still hadn’t heard anything.

I knew there was no way I was going to be able to enjoy my breakfast, so we paid for our meal and got it to go.  In the meantime, I called my brother (who lives about twenty minutes away — on a good day) to see if he had heard anything.  Now, I didn’t just call him to get him worked up.  There was some logic to my madness.  I thought maybe he was meeting my parents for breakfast and maybe they were waiting for him.  He wasn’t, and they weren’t.  He said he would try calling them, and he’d keep me informed.

Mr. Mags and I got our meal and set off to drive the route to the IHOP, looking along the way for my parents’ car (on the side of the road in a non-existent ditch, or rammed into an errant telephone pole).  I ran into the IHOP and found no recognizable family members.  My brother called again.  He was on his way to our house, wife and baby in tow.  My aunt called again.  She and my uncle were on their way over to our house to discuss a plan of action.

We had developed a number of possible scenarios:

1. They had gone to the wrong restaurant and had forgotten their phones

2. Either my mom or my dad had sustained some kind of injury/heart attack/stroke and all three of them were incommunicato at the emergency room

3. All of them were dead and hidden along the side of the road in some little nook and/or cranny we happened to have missed

4. They were abducted by a carjacker/alien

5. They had decided to flee the country to raise their grandchild away from his mother, who had neglected to give him a haircut for so long

6. They had all perished in a gas/carbon monoxide leak in the house (debunked because they had been seen at church earlier that morning)

Mr. Mags and I drove past our house, where we saw our dog sitting serenely on the couch (which told me neither my parents nor the baby was in our home).  I suggested that we pull a little CSI action and go over to their house to look for clues.  We got out of the car and climbed the stairs, fully expecting to find some kind of Uncle Owen/Aunt Beru situation.  The first thing I noticed as I went to put my key in the lock was that my son’s car seat was sitting empty in the dining room.  I opened the door and heard an immediate cheery exclamation from my mother: “Well, look who’s here!”

They were fine.  They had forgotten their phones and had missed my aunt and uncle at the restaurant.  They had forgotten to tell my parents that they were stopping at home before going to breakfast.  My mom and dad waited in the parking lot for them (figuring that my aunt and uncle, who were baby-less, should’ve been at the restaurant long before they were) for a few minutes before deciding there had been a miscommunication about breakfast location.  So they drove to another restaurant — the same restaurant where Mr. Mags and I had been eating earlier.  If we had just stayed put, we would’ve run into them in a matter of minutes.  We all would’ve had a good laugh, and I would’ve had a hot breakfast.

But alas, all’s well that ends well.

Another Tale of Two – Getting to Michigan on “Trashed Wednesday”

I am writing this down because I know that in two years my husband will once again want to drive to his parents’ house for Thanksgiving.  And he will once again want to leave in the middle of the day on Wednesday because he will inevitably have a crap load of work to complete before leaving for the weekend.

It normally takes us about four to five hours, door to door, to make it to my in-laws’ house.  Last Wednesday, it took us nine. Nine hours from the time we left our house until the time we arrived at his parents’ house.

A and I jumped into the car at 10:30 CST after Gymboree class to go pick up the husband from work.  He had to go to court in the morning, but said he would be ready to leave by 11:00 or 11:30.  I figured that traffic would be bad on the Kennedy and I was, of course, correct.  Luckily A slept the entire fifty-minute-long drive in stop and go traffic from our house to the husband’s work downtown.  Jackson is currently closed, so I had to take the detour to get to his building.  It was touch and go as I nearly ended up on Lower Wacker (once again, since I had made this mistake before), but I made a discreet little (illegal?) maneuver and found myself directly outside his building.  Success!  I pulled over to the curb and put my blinkers on because I had to park in a tow zone.

I called up to the office and discovered that Mr. Mags was not yet back from court.  I called his cell phone and he told me he was just going to have to run up to his office and close up shop, but he’d be right down.  So I left the car running for a few minutes.  Still no husband.  I turned off the engine and listened to the radio until it turned off automatically ten minutes later.  Still no husband.  A woke up and I went to the back seat to let him out of his car seat to climb around until his dad arrived.  Out of nowhere, the car started to boast that telltale smell.  The boy had deuced his pants.

Mr. Mags arrived a few minutes later and I told him I was going to run inside his building to change A’s diaper.  We walked all the way up to the reception desk only to discover there was no public bathroom (of course).  I walked back to the car, and Mr. Mags said he’d take A over to a deli across the street to change him there.  As I sat in the back seat of the car waiting for them to return, I noticed that it still smelled like dookie.

Mr. Mags returned and A was in a whole new outfit.  His shoes were off.  He had crapped all over his outfit and his shoes.  Poop was running down his leg.  It got all over Mr. Mags’ suit and tie, which he had just had dry cleaned.  He put A back in his car seat and we took off for Michigan.

I still kept smelling the dung, but I couldn’t figure out why.  Finally, I looked down and I realized I was still smelling it because I had poop all over my lap.  I wiped it off with some wet wipes, but the smell was still there.  It was also on the top of my shoe and on the floor mat beneath my feet.  A had made some magic, everlasting poopage.

After the initial diaper incident, the trip actually improved.  Traffic out of Chicago and into Indiana and then Michigan was not bad at all.  We were making good time.  We stopped at Culver’s and had a yummy lunch.  After leaving Culver’s, the traffic slowed to a crawl.  For the next hour and a half we moved a total of eight miles.  We couldn’t see what was holding us up.  Was it construction?  Holiday traffic?  We tried to find the Kalamazoo traffic information on the radio and the Internet, but no dice.  We started making plans to pull off the road to get dinner and/or a hotel room.

Then, finally, we passed an accident that had probably been blocking both lanes for the past two hours or so.  And the cars immediately started moving again.  Yay.

We were about forty minutes from the in-laws’ house when A started getting really fussy.  I suggested that we pull over for a second so I could find him a banana and some other entertainment.  Mr. Mags and I took turns going to the restroom.  As I approached the car, Mr. Mags was laughing and told me I would not believe what A just did.  Mr. Mags had stood him up on the hood of the car for fun when out of nowhere, pee started dribbling out of the bottom of his pants and onto the car.  We were going to need to change his diaper and clothes again.

This time we just changed him in the back of the car and threw on some new PJs I had conveniently bought that day at Macy’s.  A got his banana and a Sesame Street book and he was happy and dry for the rest of the trip.  We arrived at the in-laws’ at 8:30 PM (EST) that night.

And it only took us 4.5 hours to get home on Sunday morning.  With four stops.

Adventures in Diaper Changing

Just when we started to get it all figured out…

Yesterday, E, A, and I (lots of vowels) went to open play at Gymboree, which has become a weekly Monday afternoon activity.  It had gone very well over the past few weeks.  A enjoys playing on all of the apparatuses and E loves to chill in the Bjorn and watch.

Well, yesterday A decided that he wanted to take his late afternoon deuce a little early.  I saw him pause as he crossed the bridge to the slides.  His mouth set in a slight grimace, his eyes and cheeks red with strain.  About three seconds later he was on his merry way again, a trail of stink following after him.

I could’ve ignored it, loaded him up in the car, and sped home to the comfort of our own padded changing table and wipes warmer, but no.  I had to open Pandora’s box.  I brought both kids into the bathroom, E strapped to my chest.  I tried to get A to lie down on the changing table, but for some reason he decided it terrified him and he lunged at me, grabbing onto my neck and shoulder for dear life.  I wrestled him onto the table and managed to get the clean diaper situated under him (I could not locate my changing pad, and there were no disposable liners available…whatever).  I gave him a little project – a sealed baggie of pretzels and hoped for the best.  This distracted him for about 3.2 seconds.

Meanwhile, little E had caught the wail fever and was matching her cousin scream for scream.  I tried to move quickly; but in my flustered haze, this proved to be a mistake.  I pulled off the very dirty diaper, trying to use the five wipes I had in my diaper bag judiciously.  I got everything cleaned up, strapped on the new diaper and sat A up.  Success!  Then I saw “it.”  “It” was everywhere.  All over the changing table.  All over A’s onesie.  All up and down his leg.

This is when I knew that our time at the Gymboree was over.  Ten minutes of fun.  Ten minutes of panic.  Another ten minutes of trying to undo the damage we did in that bathroom.  I got some paper towels laced with antibacterial hand soap and washed down the changing table.  I did the same (somewhat) for A’s leg.  I pulled on his (thankfully navy blue) pants, tucked the soiled snaps of his onesie into his waistband, and packed up my sanity and our dignity.  I whisked the two screaming children out of there, strapped them into their giant stroller and wheeled them out of the Gymboree (knocking over several displays on the way).

Next time we’re just going home and he can stew in his own filth for the 15 minutes it takes to get there.

Toothless D-Bags Really Get My Goat

Ugh.  Thank goodness for wine.

So, whenever I watch my niece E during the week, I always drop her off at the train station so that my sister-in-law can jump off the train from downtown and then hop back on the next train going back into the Loop.  It’s not a perfect situation, but it works pretty well for us (so far).

The parking situation at the Metra station is not good.  Sometimes a spot is available in the parking lot, but usually people are double parked or blocking fire hydrants or the middle of the street or whatever.  And now that the weather is getting colder, the number of cars milling around for pick-ups has increased exponentially.

Thursdays are always the worst (after Friday).  One of the local restaurants takes over one of the parking lots for their valet service, so usually you can’t even get into the lot to wait.  Today I arrived before they had put up the cones.  Yay, me!

I pulled into the parking lot and there were no regular spots.  The only open spots were the handicapped spots and a spot that wasn’t really a spot next to the slot reserved for Metra employees.  Rather than take up a handicapped spot, I pulled into the non-spot.  There was a car parked in the Metra employee spot.  The guy was toothless and gross (which I feel I can say because of the douchebaggery he displayed later).

I parked the car, left the motor running, and turned on my hazards.  I got out of the car so I could jiggle E’s car seat since she was getting sad.  The guy takes a few steps toward me and says, “You know you’re not supposed to park here.”

I replied, “I know.  I’m just handing this baby over to her mother, who is going to be on the next train that is arriving in approximately two minutes.”

He said, “There’s a $150 fine for parking there.”

“OK,” I said, “I’m not staying here.  I’m leaving in two minutes.”

“I could call the cops right now to come and give you a ticket.”

Now, here’s where I probably should’ve said something like, “Well, if that makes you happy…”  I mean, I would’ve been long gone before the cops got there.  But I caved, got back in my car, seething, and parked about a half block away in the far lot.  I dragged poor little E out of the car and carried her all the way back over to the platform.  In the cold and drizzle.  A tiny little baby!  Plus all her crap.  I even left an inadvertent message on my SIL’s cell phone, which I hope she deleted before listening to it 🙂

I suppose the morals of this story are these:

1. A vast many Metra employees are dicks (at least the ones who make their presence felt). I’m sure there are many lovely Metra employees, in fact, I know there are.  But there are a lot of tools.  I’ve met them.  I should’ve gotten their names and reported them, but…

2. One never thinks of the correct thing to say or do when in the moment. Afterwards, I always realize how I should’ve handled the situation, and wish that I had the cojones to stand my ground against these jackholes.  But I’m always just too taken aback by people’s lack of empathy when they choose instead to swing their middling wangs of power around in the face of the elderly or people with children or the children themselves.

3. I’m happy because I’m home safe and sound. I didn’t get shot or bashed in the head with a tire iron.  I drove away.  I released a few choice vocabulary words into the ether and literally put the jackass behind me.  Who knows how he would’ve reacted if I’d have stood up to him?

And now, it’s Thursday night.  Time to drink wine, eat pizza, and watch Parks and Recreation.

National Novel Writing Month – Day 16

Word Count: 34,657

Today was not my best showing, word count-wise.  Or writing-wise.  My brain feels like it’s been stuffed with Jello chocolatey pudding.  Maybe it was the lack of adult conversation I was privy to today.  Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t get to eat much of anything until 6:00 PM.  Maybe it was just Monday.  I don’t know.  Tomorrow will be better.

I do feel like I am figuring out how to better handle spending the day with two kids under two, though, so that’s a plus.  Each day my niece “E” is becoming less like a newborn and more like a curious little infant.  She’s very smiley and very chatty and she takes a lot of naps (which I love).  My son (“A”) loves having her around, and I look forward to a time when she’s old enough to hold her own with him — at least somewhat.

Also, beyond the kids getting used to each other, I’ve learned a few personal lessons on how to cope with having two little ones in the house:

1. Start each day fresh (mentally, physically, and domestically). This means get enough sleep, shower, put on make-up, wear clean clothes, make sure everything is picked up and put away.  That way a) you will feel so much better going about your day and b) you won’t feel the need to be working your butt off around the house if you somehow happen to miraculously get the kids to nap at the same time.

2. Expect to get absolutely nothing accomplished during the day aside from taking care of babies. This is a difficult one to do, but it’s very freeing.  If you don’t expect to get the bills paid or the dishwasher unloaded or the pages written, you won’t feel as bad when you inevitably fall short on your tasks.  There will always be time to get the rest of your life under control after they go to bed.  Or not.  Who really cares if the rug gets vacuumed?  And mortgage, schmortgage — Am I right?

3. Behold the power of Sesame Street. I know you’re not “supposed to” plop your kids in front of the TV; but if it means allowing yourself a few minutes to read Go Fug Yourself while holding on to a modicum of sanity, it can’t be all bad.  Plus, Sesame Street is rad.  Especially the Old School episodes that are apparently no longer meant for children.  At least I know that when my son’s in jail for a breaking and entering I’ll be able to point a finger at these two cats.

4. Enjoy the kids. Nothing you will see on the TV/find on the Internet/read in a book will ever compare to the sight of a smiling baby who is learning to use her hands for the first time or the sound of a kid as he rattles off not-quite-right barnyard animal noises.

5. Be able to send one of the kids back home to their own house at the end of the day. I may be holding my own while having two kids in my house during the day, but I always get to start and end the day with only one child.  Having to watch only one kid at a time is like going to a day spa where they serve you chocolate layer cake laced with muscle relaxers.

Toys ‘R’ Us, It’s Like You’re Not Even Trying

I took the little ones to the Toys ‘R’ Us today to get some ideas for Christmas presents.  Santa wants to bring my Little Iron Chef a righteous toy kitchen, a wooden santuku knife, and some play hamachi and haricot verts, so I thought we’d go get some ideas before etching our Christmas list in stone.

First of all, the store was  in complete disarray.  Boxes were blocking about a third of all the aisles.  Many of the shelves were empty or sloppy.  The toy kitchens that were on display as samples were shoddily constructed.  The stickers were slapped on haphazardly and most of the hardware was missing.  The whole store had a sad, third-world dollar store feel to it.

I remember Toys ‘R’ Us as being this magical place filled with aisles of Cabbage Patch Kids and bikes and Nintendo games.  Everything was shiny and in pristine order.  We knew exactly in which aisles to hole ourselves up until our parents inevitably dragged us away empty handed.  This new pathetic Toys ‘R’ Us just helped solidify my decision to do all of my toy shopping online this year.

Things I’ve Learned from My 15-Month-Old…

…About Myself.

Spending all day, everyday, with a toddler is like holding up a big old magnifying mirror on your life (or maybe it just is for us narcissists).  What behaviors do you engage in often enough that your kid starts to pick up on them an imitate them?  (I’m still waiting for the day he busts out his first “d-ckwad” or “f-cking f-ck.  He does spend an awful lot of time in the car with his sailor-tongued mother.)

1. Apparently, I do a lot of cooking in front of him. Wherever we go, he will eschew all other toys in favor of pots and pans.  And not just for making noise.  He adds ingredients to the pots, stirs them, tastes them.  All those times he sat idly in his bouncy chair as an infant while I stirred risotto have turned him into the next Iron Chef, I’m sure.

2. I drink a lot of Starbucks. His new favorite toy is the empty venti cup that held my chai yesterday.  He played with this for about a half hour before bed last night, and he’s been playing with it since he woke up this morning.

3. I yell at the dog a lot. Believe me, he deserves it.  My son has started yelling at him, too, whenever the dog grabs a shoe or a pillow or a stuffed animal.  It’s nice to have an ally.

4. Apparently, my name is actually “Nee.” I’ve been calling myself “Mommy” since he was born, but he’s never actually uttered the word “Mommy” or “Mama” or anything resembling those nomina.  He calls me “Nee.”  I’m not sure where that came from, but I like it.

5. I’m not on the phone a lot, but when I am I YELL AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS! At least this is what I’ve gathered from watching my son make his pretend phone calls on everything from an actual toy phone to the strings on my sweatshirt.  Or maybe he’s just calling Bert and Ernie or the Count to complain about how much his mother is projecting onto him.

NaNoWriMo – Day 3

Word Count: 8,815

I didn’t get a lot of writing done, but I did get Breighleigh to spend some quality happy time in her bouncy chair while I cleaned up the kitchen and fed Murray.  I think I’m finally starting to figure this baby out.  Success!

Tomorrow, it’s just the boy and me, so I’m going to get some writing done while he naps.  If he naps.  He’d better nap.

Baby Boom

I will never (and by “never” I mean “not until at least the latter half of next week”) complain about watching just my son ever again.

This week I was thrown into the middle of the three ring circus known as ‘Spending Nine Hours in a Row with a 15-Month-Old and a 2-Month-Old.”  The older kid is my son, AKA Maury (for the purposes of this blog).  The baby is my niece Breighleigh (because I know how much my sister-in-law will just want to steal that name for her next baby), who comes to spend Tuesdays with Maury and me (among other days).

Besides finally discovering what a cake walk it is to watch only one child at a time, here are some other valuable lessons I learned over the past few days:

  1. Over the past year or so, I totally forgot how to take care of an infant. I forgot how delicate they can be somewhere between trying to wrestle Maury into submission on the changing table and watching him fall with glee to the ground when body checked by the family Labrador.  I forgot what a pain it can be to try and get them to sleep on their own.  Having to give Breighleigh meticulously portioned out bottles, I forgot how reliant I was on my breasts as pacifiers, the magical cure-alls to whatever was getting Maury down and possibly the reasons for his therapy sessions in his early twenties.
  2. Getting one baby to sleep at a time is difficult.  Getting two to sleep at once is impossibility.  Unless you are a willing to let the tiny baby nap on you while you consume copious amounts of daytime TV.  By the way, totally agree with Elisabeth Hasselbeck on…absolutely nothing.
  3. Watching two children at once can be a great weight loss opportunity. I barely had any time to prepare meals for my son, let alone myself, plus I was up walking around with the little one all day.  I should be a size zero by sunup.
  4. As little time as you may have to yourself and as difficult as it is to perform daily tasks, such as going to the bathroom or eating, getting a smile and a conversation of coos from the little one make it all worth it.  And somehow, you end up forgetting what was so problematical in the first place.  Those babies are tricky little buggers.  They know exactly what they’re doing.