Thursday, March 29, 2012

Late to bed, early to rise makes a Mommy cranky

(I totally wrote "wise" instead of "rise" initially. Whoopsie daisy! Fixed!)

Um, who decided to give me a 2 year old?

Whoah. Felix is SOO 2.

Yesterday's note from school: "He was SO hyper and VERY hands on." Translation: he was out of control, bit and hit multiple times.

Ouch.

I've got a future WWE performer on my hands.

Felix is a loose cannon. So stinkin' cute, but he is giving me grey hair in a very different way from Miles. (Which I just died with clearance Garnier from Target. Missed the word "vibrant" under the 8 clearance stickers. Ended with an unnatural red and a peeling scalp. Word to the wise. At least splurge on John Freida foam.)

Felix's aggression is never out of malice, he just gets way excited and abuses those he loves.

Despite all empirical evidence, I am *convinced* that he is affected by sugar and goes nuts when it gets into his system (note: NO SUGAR AFTER 6PM!)

Remember how we changed him to a big boy bed?

Oops.

He plays a game where he jumps out of bed and runs to the door and squeals in laughter when you go in, try to hide your own laughter, and put him back in bed. Rinse repeat until 9pm.

And he's sleeping on his back randomly.

It takes us no less than an hour sometimes to get him to go to sleep.

And then he started getting up at 6:30am, when he used to get up at 7:00am and beyond. That 30 minutes is H-U-G-E for us in terms of getting ourselves bathed and emotionally prepared to deal with the warfare between Miles and Felix (Miles has always gotten up before 7am).

What happened?

I haven't yet screwed my 2nd up like I did my 1st with 8 ga-jillion techniques of trying to get him to sleep. But I gave up Google searing for lent. And don't want to go back to my library shelf in the family room to pull out the 11 sleep books I bought with Miles. It will cause some PTSD.

We never had this problem with Miles.

Last night we tried the quiet chair approach after Felix tonight after he refused to take a nap and was disruptive at school while kids were hangin' with Mr Sandman (this is not his usual MO), and his teacher brought him into another room and had him just sit in a chair. He was bored. Tired. Restless. So she gave him the option of nap or boring chair.

Smart kid finally chose nap and flopped on the cot at 2pm yesterday.

Verdict? Didn't work so great with us.

So before I try technique #2 tomorrow night, which I will just make up from my memory of what friends told me Super Nanny suggested, I'm putting it out there to my readers.

I don't ask for comments or often try to put out my blog ramblings to the masses. (Although, it was suggested to me by someone with many letters behind her name to expose my recent potty training perils to the world in an attempt to get over it. And I actually kinda feel released!)

But there is a first time for everything:

SUGGESTIONS?!? Help! How do I get my cuh-razy 2 year old to go to sleep in his big boy bed?? I'll pay you extra for advice on quelling the biting and hitting. 

I'll make things interesting. Whoever gives me the winning advice gets one million dollars of the kah-trillion dollar jackpot that is drawn on Friday, which I have willed the universe to make me win.

Ready: GO!
 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RAK returns...

If you recall, at the end of 2011, I committed to doing a random act of kindness (RAK) each month. I never thought I would be on the receiving end...

...then today happened. The day I scheduled the post of my virtual therapy session on how I failed my child, which prompted my mom to send me an e-mail that can be summed up with the following: "be kind to yourself."

And then the universe sent me an e-mail:

Always, Ali, kindness prevails. No matter how things appear, nor how humbling a task, nor how unkind they've been.



Always,
The Universe


And then I come home after an impossibly exhausting day, and see a letter on the counter from VA. I know 3 people from VA, and only 1.5 of them know my address. I say .5 because I'm pretty sure she knows my name and city, but not my street address.

The letter is addressed to me by first name only, and inside is a tiny scroll delicately tied with blue ribbon.

I curiously unwrapped the scroll, and it contained a wonderful message written in that bubbly girly writing--the kind of penmanship I always coveted. (I am currently an all caps, masculine hand-writer.)

This note was from a stranger, to me.

And I sat there, crying. I'm not sure why...kindness sometimes hits us harder through its simplicity and mystery I guess. Or maybe I'm just ovulating.

What it said, I am not sharing because some things are meant to be kept secret. It wasn't lascivious or prophetic...it was just the kind words I needed to get me out of the day's funk.

But who was the scribe?

There was a clue--written on the envelope was a note that this was a random act of kindness from kindnessgirl.com. Of COURSE I quickly looked up the site.

patience salgado. soul partner. playful mama. kindness worker. flip flop lover. deep feeler.

And she writes. Like real-deal-banana-peel published on legit sites writer.
And she has a gaggle of kids.
And she takes amazing photography.
And she basically embodies all the skills and characteristics I consider my ideal woman. (Sheesh! That's a lot from just a quick Internet query. But the first bullet on my resume is "accurate first impressions of anyone via the 'about' section on his/her blog.")

I don't know Patience. (Could she have a better name?) But I wish I did. Her Guerrilla Goodness just tickles me (and I guess makes me weep!)

But how did she get my address?
Why me?
What friend put her up to this?
Should I exhaust my emergency fund and hire a PI to unfurl this mystery?

STOP.

For once, Ali (there I go, doing that third person thing again), let the anonymity wash over you and feel comfortable in that space of not knowing.

So I'm doing that.

And I'm going to find my own anonymous RAK to do (or a few) in the near future.

But I can't tell you...or it wouldn't be anonymous.

Smile on, universe...smile on!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Potty Training: beta version

PROLOGUE: Lemme start with a few words about the more lengthy discussion that follows after these deliberately center-adjusted sentences in lilac. And by discussion, I mean the excessive and disjointed ramblings with myself that 51% of me wants to share and 48.5% of me wants to keep in the cellar of internal Mommy-shame. The other 0.5% just wants to watch Love Actually, each Trader Joe's organic olive oil popcorn, and wash it down with some bubbly Prosecco...or take an uninterrupted nap. 

I haven't talked about Miles and potty training for some time now.
My expectation hope is that this will be the last time I talk about it. 
And not because he's trained.
Don't expect a success story here.
I've got no tips or genitourinary-controlled rabbit to pull out of a hat.
And honestly, I am not in a space to receive any from you (if it's a tip, I've probably already tried it, and if it's a success story, my response will be no response. I'm still working on unfurling the jealous shroud in which I am wrapped.)
This is my attempt at finding closure with our current potty struggles, and share with you all a glowing example of:

A) how a parent can turn potty training into months of agony for everyone involved,
B) why my obsessing about it on the blog may be doing more harm than good, and
C) why therapy exists.

Given that I would like this to be the last time I allow the words "Miles" and "potty" in the same sentence (unless I'm referring to him cussing), it's gonna be a doozy. Find that sweet spot in your recliner, folks...it's Ali at her finest (or worst...depends on your perspective. Or how much you loathe Ali writing in the third person. Just wait until I start using the royal "we.")

***

Starting around last August, we started what I will call the alpha version of potty training with Miles. Everyone warned me--"don't start too early; he's not ready; it's going to be so much harder and longer if you push it now."

I remember thinking, "but he just turned 3 and my best friend's barely 2 year old essentially just trained herself for both day and night! And I'm pretty certain she has opened the first ever toddler-run potty training camp and from this year's net profits, already fully-funded her college savings account." (Would you believe that's the first time I've ever compared my child to another child? Yeah, didn't think so...) And it was summer, which just screams for nakedness, peeing on trees, and not having to deal with the tandem home and school potty training.

August turned into September, and with limited potty success, we went back to school with the perpetual tinkle stain on Miles's crotch and one agitated little boy. (Bee-tee-dubs, I hate the word tinkle. I also don't like pee pee or piddle. I'm a full on pee or urinate girl.) Slowly, one by one, all of the younger kids at Miles's childcare started getting the potty thing down. 21 months old, 18 months old...the potty charts in the bathroom are noticeably missing anyone from Team Heintz.

Wah wah. Boys are different.
Wah wah. Miles is stubborn, loves control, and is a very fearful kid.
Wah wah. You are going to scar your child if you obsess about it.

Moi? Obsess?

Hi. My name is Ali. I obsess, and folks, I think I've scarred my child.

Along with too many ellipses, run-on sentences, grammatical "whoopsie daisies," and parenthetical comments, there are too many colostomy jokes on my blog. Too many times in this space I've resented the societal norm/imperative of continence and made jabs about my son's lack of potty prowess. And these days, I wouldn't put it past him to telepathically absorb all the blog posts I think about in the shower or on my commute; I think he has some clairvoyance, courtesy of Grandma Sheri's genes. In fairness, I never scold him for accidents...but I do talk about the "potty" a lot when he's around. And a whole heck of a lot when he's not around. Probably too much. I'm someone who can't help but think that his inability to potty train is a very obvious flaw in my parenting ability, or unrealistically believe something is inherently wrong with Miles.

I never claimed to be reasonable on this blog.

Nor have I claimed to be anything but honest. (Hear that? That's the sound of an angel losing its wings...and another blog follower unsubscribing.)

But this is the truth--my truth:

The real issue is ME. Red font color in the largest possible size blogger allows is my way of screaming.

How much you wanna bet Freud just clamoured a resounding "WORD!" from the grave?

I have an undulating sense of shame that for so long I scoffed at those who bought pull-ups (Humph! Just glorified underwear!), and now I have kept Nature Babycare in business this past year with their size 4T training pants. I feel a sense of panic that next year he'll go to school and the bullying will start because he'll have accidents...or he might get kicked out because he's not willing to use their potty. I have contemplated researching homeschooling, or  tossed around the idea of starting the first school in Atlanta that doesn't require potty training until 10. I'm sure enrollment will have an "n" of 2: Miles and then probably Felix. This, in clinical terms, is called catastrophizing and playing the victim. I'm a freakin' world champ at it.

I remember asking Eric last summer, "I mean, do you think he'll have this down by Christmas?"

And my asking was not really an innocent question as much as it was a plea for validation and fishing for what I deemed the only acceptable answer:

"Of course, honey! He'll be just about 3 1/5. That's SOOO long from now, and by Felix's 2nd birthday, he'll be pooping and peeing like a pro. Relax. Enjoy these moments...they are fleeting!"

I think Eric's response was more like, "Maybe?"

Blech.

These bowel moments have not been fleeting. In case you didn't catch that, I wrote a ha-ha by playing on the phrase "bowel movements."  I have to keep what little audience I have left entertained.

What is it now, March? My child's 4th birthday is a few months away...I cannot use the preemie excuse anymore and say he's really not 4 until July. He's 4 in May people, and my child will probably still not have pooped on the potty more than 10 times in his life. 9 of those times before he turned 3, which we call "luck" and "happy accidents" round these parts.

There are, thankfully, more moments of peace and serenity now because all of his peers are past this stage; the potty is passe. It's SO last year, along with leggings, chevron prints, and Lady Gaga. I don't get the same influx of panicked e-mails from friends, or water cooler conversations at work about the perils of the potty. I still have a few friends with kids younger than Miles who are just entering the journey, but their trip through potty land is proving to be more like waiting in rush hour traffic on I-285--annoying, but temporary. Not like what I have coined my personal potty purgatory--a never ending world of in-between full-on diapers and being potty-trained. So the peer inferiority doesn't come up as often anymore...
...until my child starts to have an accident at the zoo in the presence of his very well trained friend.Thank the universe for fast drying pants and that Eric got him to hold the rest of it until he ACTUALLY PEED in the nasty zoo bathrooms. We *may* have stopped for Dairy Queen on the way home. In full disclosure, and as more indication that the problem is really with me and not Miles, I felt a little sting and some jealousy course through my veins when the reaction of our friend at the zoo was "We really didn't have that issue and don't deal with that at all anymore. Our struggle right now is getting her to wipe better." I readily admit I am weak and that instead of being sympathetic for any struggle with anything potty, no matter how minuscule--which I should have been--I felt an urge to respond with, "What the WHAT? Are you honestly complaining about the quality of your child's wipe when my much older child just peed in his pants?" Truth is, we all have our crosses to bear. And even though I didn't say that out loud, I regret the thought.

Remember, I never claimed to be reasonable.

This whole potty debacle has everything to do with yours truly...and maybe the overwhelming volume of schizophrenic techniques we've tried over the past few months (note: royal "we" employed for the most part):

We've done sticker charts.
We've bribed with candy, The Frosty Caboose, parties, fruit ropes, DISNEY WORLD.
We've tried capitalizing off of the idea of becoming a big boy.
We've told him that it's just what you do when you are 3.
We've bought potty chairs and seats of different sizes and colors.
We've done naked weekends.
We've done show and tell.
We've bought potty DVDs to watch.
We've let him watch, while on the pot, YouTube videos of that creepy Corduroy video from the 80s and Ricky Gervais singing a celebrity lullaby with Elmo. (I highly recommend that one!)
We've read story after story to him on the potty.
We've read story after story about the potty--both on the potty and in his room.
We've changed scenery and put the potty chair in different locations.
We've let him watch us go to the bathroom, carte blanche.
We've tried competitive pottying with Felix.
We've tried character underwear.
We've tried underwear you can draw pictures on that disappear when wet.
We've tried the scarcity principle ("uh oh. No more pull-ups for nap...what are we going to do?")
We've tried saying that we are going to have to use baby diapers again.
We've tried putting him in too small pull-ups for the discomfort factor. (Linked to a hilarious post on make it and love it that gave me hope for a good 3 months.)
We've (read: me) entered every online contest to win potty training paraphernalia, because much like children's shoes, potty trinkets are way overpriced and way under perform. If I'm doing this for over 12 months, I need some freebies. I'm desperate. And broke.

We've I've essentially screwed this kid up, admittedly so, during such formative years. He's scared...and scarred. I'm taking donations for family therapy.

I'm sure we've confused him with all of the strategies. It's like when you have NO idea what the answer to a school test essay is, so you write down every blessed piece of information you know related to the topic, hoping the "right one" will be in there somewhere. I should have learned that never works; the teacher always responds with a flurry of "??????" and "the answer is in there, Alison, but I am deducting five points for superfluous information." And THAT is how I missed becoming high school Valedictorian and had to settle for Salutatorian. Psych! Truth is, I just wasn't as smart as numero uno. But no matter what, second place still feels like "first loser."

But Miles gets it--logistically. He's a really smart kid. He can spell and write his name (sometimes), he can tell you where pee and poop comes from, where it goes down the pipes and why. Felix just parrots "poop goes in the potty," but Miles knows how and why.

He's scared...
Confused...
And a little bit of a control freak. I have NO idea where he gets it from.

In a world where he feels so vulnerable, I think this is an area he feels he has control over. [Insert Freudian analysis]. There are a lot of things I'm afraid of--death,cancer, Arrested Development never being translated into a movie...but this potty phobia doesn't resonate with me. And then remember that catastrophizing? It comes and blankets me like pollen in Atlanta during March and April: thick and ugly. I project to middle school gym class and him being that kid who is afraid to leap to the trapeze bar during the Project Adventure unit, or that one boy who dodges any volleyball sailing toward his head, and chooses to sit out with the the handful of girls who are too cool to play "wallyball" while my friends Maura, Shara and I risk the integrity of our facial features in any and every game during gym class.

Focus, Ali...

I know from my public health background that just because you have the knowledge, doesn't mean it translates into behavior.

I'll ask him, "why don't you poop on the potty?" 
Some popular answers:
"I don't know HOW!" This is followed by a very long discussion about anatomy, sanitation, and sometimes includes parental demonstrations of the valsalva maneuver.

"I'm scared of the flushing!" Not true, he flushes it when he pees every time.

"I only poop on Fridays!" The best is when he throws us this excuse on a Friday.

"I'll poop on the potty after spring break! And then I'll get TEN ice creams!" First. I'll buy you a freakin' ice cream stand if you poop on the pot. Second. Spring break 2012 is over...I'm starting to think he's talking about 2017

"My poop is broken!" Just like his legs were broken the other day when he couldn't walk to the door.

[Insert overly utilized ellipsis]

So I am moving on to a new beta potty version: completely drop the entire brouhaha. Like promise my heart, cross my eyes completely dropping. Like God smite me with early onset incontinence if I freak out or cry about this again.

I'll deal with pre-K in a few months.
I'll stop complaining about washing undies and cot sheets repeatedly.
And I'll take a lesson from Eric and just...let...go. 

And the truth is, he really is making progress. He pees at home and at school. He wears underwear all the time unless he's sleeping. He's had very limited pee accidents. He is still terrified of peeing anywhere but home and school, but he has peed at the Zoo, at Emory University, at a friend's house, and...that might be it. Poop is held until nap or nighttime when he wears a pull-up. Well...skid marks do make an appearance.

I try to think back to my potty experience. I don't remember much of anything (meaning, I'm sure it happened before I was 4). But I do remember some very hallmark accident experiences that kind of scarred/scared me.

Miles, since I am sure you can somehow magically read my blogs, I present these to you for consolation:

  1. I was in the bathroom at Southwick Animal Farm during a preschool field trip, and the toilet started overflowing after I flushed it with too much paper. I fuh-reaked out, apparently forgot how to exit the stall like a normal person, and decided the fastest way out was to stop-drop-and crawl out under the locked door. I was petrified that for all eternity, Southwick would have an "Out of Order" sign on that stall because no one could unlock it. Or that the bathroom would overflow with my pee and I would get in trouble. Believe it or not, I can easily recall that feeling of panic when I army crawled to my safety.
  2. One time I pooped on the potty at my home with my mom in the bathroom, but I didn't get a clean wipe. I remember turning around, and without me even realizing it, my poop fell on my mom's brown boat shoes. I was mortified. I thought I had ruined my mom's shoes and that from that point on, I spent what felt like a year, rechecking the floor each time after I pooped to make sure a rogue droppling didn't escape.
  3. In Ms. Jensen's first grade class, I was terrified to ask to use the bathroom. One day I couldn't hold my pee any longer, so I just sat there and peed. Straight through my  grey wool kilt from Scotland. When it was recess time, I just stayed in my seat, and Ms. Jensen came over and quietly had me go to the nurse's office. While I was there, a 4th grader came in (wait, have I told this story before? If so, apologies), and I was star struck. She was the coolest thing since hyper color Care Bear mittens. She asked me why I was in there. I told her I broke my arm. Right on cue, my mom came in with a change of clothes, which I am pretty sure included some hand-me-down tight-ankle sweatpants from my brothers. I changed, and then walked out right past that 4th grader who must have thought I was an idiot. Miles, this is what you call karma, and what happens when you lie. Just kidding! But it just goes to show that even in first grade I struggled. And I think I turned out okay! At least up until we started potty training you...then I kinda lost it.
  4. The first time I ever had a real anxiety attack, I was in high school in a Burger King bathroom, pants gracing my ankles, and feeling like I was going to pass out on the pot. I barely made it out of the bathroom with my fly buttoned. (Remember, the 90's were all about button flies. Easy to undo, but a bear to button back up.) I'm pretty sure I needed to change my underwear when I got home because in the midst of the attack, I forgot to wipe my pee.
Now that I think of it, I kinda have some potty neuroses to this day:
  1. I intentionally choose the first or last stall in public bathrooms because I read somewhere that they tend to be the cleanest.
  2. Up until college, I never let my bottom full-on touch the toilet seat.
  3. I flush with my feet in public bathrooms--and just learned you do that at school!
  4. I will go to great lengths not to poop anywhere but my house (TMI? It's okay, only 3 of you are reading. Sorry Mom, Amy, and Eric!)
This is the first moment of parenthood I feel like I have utterly failed my child. Creating an atmosphere of tension and confusion for a little boy who is just trying to figure out this crazy thing called life. This isn't an attempt for me to play the victim again; this is me taking responsibility in that I did not approach or handle this element of parenting with grace, clarity, or patience.

I'm sorry Miles.

And I'm sorry to all of you for having to be on the receiving end of my potty training mania. You ever heard of men who are forced to wear a sandwich board in the middle of Times Square with their transgressions? "I cheated on my wife" (front) "I am a scumbag!" (back). Consider this my virtual sandwich board of "I totally failed my child during potty training." And I give you license to share this post with anyone struggling with potty-training:

To: mommy-struggling-with-potty-training@gmail.com
From: logical-and-well-meaning-friend-who-hasn't-messed-her-kid-up-at-potty-training@gmail.com
Subject: Deep breaths! It could be worse....

Then in the text area, just link to this post and say: "Ali wrote this just to make you feel better. And warn you not to make the same mistakes."

I always say it's better to know what not to do sometimes just as much as it is to know what to do (as I clearly haven't answered the latter in this missive.)
This beta version may go on for a while, but I am going to make a concerted effort to keep it out of the blogosphere; I think it just amplifies my anxiety, which makes me feel even worse, which in turn translates into more catastrophizing, which inevitably reveals itself in my writing with overused ellipses...and we all know how annoying that is. I am contemplating not even mentioning when he is 100% trained because not only am I trying to give my child the courtesy of some privacy (that until he can actually read, won't know how terribly I violated it), but I also believe in the power of jinxing, and am certain we would be in for 7 years of bad potty luck with Felix.

Beta version begin!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...FRITURDAY


Oops! I had intended on posting mid-week and scheduling for Friday, but the days got away from me.

What would a list of my favorite things be without an ode to the men in my life? (How obvious is my last minute cop-out due to waning literary creativity?)

Ya know, they really are my favorite things.



And to ensure the rest of my life is filled with doting sons who don't abandon me for more beautiful partners, I've adapted this contract or MIL-nup, and decided that right after the 18th round of singing black socks before bed, we will recite this.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...THURSDAY

You know I am running out of steam when I re purpose content from Pinterest to fulfill today's post; but it's hard writing a week of posts in a night. And I'm spent...and there are 4 Trader Joe's peanut butter cups calling my name on my bed stand...errr, I mean, I don't eat in my room. They are on the kitchen table...right. (Those cups are one of my favorite things, though! Along with their refrigerated Cilantro Lime dressing with sugar snap peas.)

Okay. Pinterest. My obsession has waned, purely because I don't have as much time to access and "pin." But the reality is that Pinterest is all about my favorite things. I thought I would give you the top pins from a few of my boards.

Thrilling, no? (At least I'm not center adjusting my text this time.)

Saunter over to the right of the screen if you want to follow me on Pinterest. And if you do, I'll probably go right ahead and follow you...unless you pin an overwhelmingly large # of pictures of polished nails holding bottles of O.P.I.

I'm linking to the blog posts that support each of my pins--and each of the blogs has credit for the photos I am lifting. Please visit them for full information!

Kids Crafts & Activities:
From the blog,  A Sprinkle of This...A Dash of That, it's the awesome idea of having your child's teacher write a note at the end of the year in the book...and then you give it to you child upon graduation from high school! Not sure how the whole getting a teacher to sign something from middle and high school would work out, but I've got time.

From the blog, Decor8, an awesome idea about collecting your child's artwork and putting it together into a large poster. I love the re purposing of my children's artwork. You all have probably received a homemade card with some element of my children's artwork on it...but I'm afraid that is going to get stale. :( And there are quite a few pictures I just cannot bring myself to deconstruct into thank you cards, so this seems like a great solution! I cannot post a picture, because I think it is licensed, so just click on the hyperlink above to check it out!

From the site I can TEACH my child, here is a great resource of a ton of activities to do with your  child based on age ranges. The link above will take you to the 3-5 group. It's a nice "go to" on those days that my creative energy is sapped.


Dee-lish


From the blog spoon fork bacon, these cheesy quinoa cakes are really good! Although, when I tricked Miles into thinking they were dinner pancakes (and he even put them in maple syrup), he was terrified a few weeks later when I said we were having pancakes for dinner that they would be the "yucky" pancakes. Yeah, so no endorsement from my 3 year old, but I liked them! I didn't use the sauce, but would like to do so next time. I just doused mine in smooshed avocado.



From the blog Sugar-Free Mom, here is a great recipe for baked oatmeal. The recipe is simple, quick, and I had breakfast for like 2 weeks straight already made! My adjustments were that I used honey instead of Stevia (I'm a sugar purest), and actually reduced the amount. Next time I would mix the toppings into the batter rather than just on top. I'd also like to get silicone muffin liners because my paper liners were kinda of hard to get off. Overall, great go to breakfast.



From the blog Adventures of a Fluffimama, yogurt covered frozen blueberries. Why I have never done this before is beyond me. The boys inhaled them the first night I made them. Miles refuses to eat them at school, though. They are a great treat, and I am tempted to dip other fruit in yogurt and freeze!

If I had oodles of money, this is how I would dress...


From emilyryan's etsy shop, this dress is so drool worthy. I'm a sucker for any skirt or dress with pockets, and a cowl neck. And being monochromatic. (I just cannot get over that it looks like Renee Z. in the pic...she kinda skeeves me out.)

From I have absolutely no idea where this is from, I LOVE this dress. I just keep envisioning myself with my head pasted on the top. And wait...it eerily resembles the first dress I posted. I'm a creature of habit. And by habit, I mean black and gray clothing with cowls.



From the blog Lilly's Style, I am just am in love with every aspect of this look. In fact, I love all the looks she posts! I could never pull off a ring like that, but would love to. I have this secret fascination for men's-style women's clothing (like that technical term?) Like, not only do I want Ellen Degeneres to be my closest friend, but I kinda want her wardrobe some days. I don't want to look masculine, I just want to wear tweed blazers with elbow patches every day.

Dream Home Drool Worthy Ideas and Items



From Broad Sheet: "The Bird’s Nest by O*GE Creative Group looks like the coolest kid’s bed ever. Then you read the blurb:
The “Giant Birdsnest for creating new ideas” was conceived and created by O*GE as a prototype for new and inspiring socializing space, which can be seen as a morph of furniture and playground. Its powerful, yet simple concept and intriguing character needs no explanation or user manual: Ready to to be used, to be played in, and be worked in. With its 4.50 m diameter the big version can host up to 16 people at once, offering a comfortable and sensual soft space, various siting positions, configurations for informal meetings and social exchange."
Impractical? Certainly? Kinda creepy? Maybe. BUT I WANT IT. We aren't co-sleepers in my house (not for lack of trying...my kids just don't want me to be an alterna Mommy), but this could certainly sweeten the pot. (Does the lamp come with the nest?)



From a foreign language site that may be affiliated with Elle? This is just awesome in my opinion...minus the danger-osity of the lack of side rails on the the top bed. There is something about this that just seems so charming! (I'm sure the kids would have different opinions...can you imagine kids sharing beds like this in high school?)


From the blog The Art of Doing STUFF, a chicken coop! I want it. I want it. I want it. No one else in my house eats eggs...but I would have about 3 boys to collect them for me! Farmer's omelet every morning? Yes please! Just gotta teach Miles how to use the stove.

Front Yard Inspiration
Our journey into front yard landscaping and entry renovation has left us dejected, feeling poor, and looking like we aren't going to be able to do much. So I'm tempted to delete this board from Pinterest because it just makes me sad.



From the blog Young House Love, this is the front entry of my dreams. At least in my dreams of what our current house situation is. It's not terribly extravagant, but to get it on our house, we are looking at the cost of re-doing our kitchen. And although it may seem like Sophie's choice, the kitchen would always be my first choice.

Stone Egg Candle Lanterns - VivaTerra contemporary outdoor lighting

From the site houzz, these stone egg candle lanterns. Modern, functional and fun!

Giggles
Everyone loves a little giggle in the day...


From dingdang. I love a good pi reference.

From The Meta Picture. I love all that conspiracy stuff.

I may not be a Pinterest power user anymore, but I really do love it...c'mon and follow me!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...WEDNESDAY

Today's favorite things are straight from the cutting room floor. I have libraries full of footage of the boys, but most of them go straight to the archives, never to see the light of day. These kids don't just perform 24/7, you know! I was recently moving some current videos into my master files, and came across these gems--not blog worthy (snoozers, sound distortion, or just seemingly mundane subject matter), but for very specific reasons, are categorized as some of MY favorite videos of the past few weeks. I'm not going to earn money on YouTube, a spot on the Today show, or gain additional blog followers...these are the moments captured that for me, perfectly define my children. Slices of time and personality that progresses and change all too fast...

1. Video Farting. That'll catch your attention! I hate the word "fart," and I also secretly hate how Eric uses the phrase "blowing gas." Let's just stick with straight up "gas," m'kay? Anyway, this video is just full of moments that make me giggle.
  • First--at around 5 seconds, you'll hear someone ripping gas. Notice no one react. That's because I live in a house full of gaseous boys. They are usually good at saying "scuse me", but this time, it was apparently the house ghost who made the bottom burp.
  • Second--this is classic "Mommy trying to get her child to do or say something, and said child totally has no idea what she is talking about." Felix, just like Miles, has an unfortunate way of saying the word "bridge." He kept repeating it over and over, so I had to get my phone to record for posterity sake. Camera rolling...he chokes. It's like he has no idea what I am talking about. 
  • Third--another classic, "I'm 3, so whatever you suggest is wrong. I'll tell you the REAL answer." Oh, it's not a bridge...it's a DECK, Mommy. I'm always wrong these days.
  • Fourth--Felix finally pulls through around 46 seconds. The pièce de résistance...he announces BIG BI$#@!! Bingo! (Yes, I am totally immature at times.)
  • Fifth--in true Felix form, he starts hitting Miles. (When they watch this video, that part makes them laugh of course)
  • Sixth--these monkeys are clearly trained to say "good-bye" at the end of all of my videos.
video
2. Master jumper. No funnies here...just cute jumping. This could have been the most beautiful Saturday that the boys and I have had in a long time. We spent hours at, you guessed it, SCHOOL (their choice, not mine), and had races on the field, jumping contests, and lots of bug smashing. Usually Felix out-jumps my 2 year 6 month year old gross motor Miles, but I did capture some good 2 footed jumping from the elder. 18 seconds of boys jumping is cute to me. No matter how you slice it.
video
3. Handicap. Oh, if only I had a dollar for every time Miles pulls this shtick--the broken limb ploy. Apparently it's a first child, boy, 3-year-old thing. Either Miles has run out of "gas," his legs are tired...or as evident in this video he has only ONE leg...and apparently the other one is broken. Walking from the car to the door after school never seemed so complicated. Felix kindly screamed so it's hard to hear Miles's histrionics. The best is when I come help him and he walks like a champ...until he is about to throw a tantrum. Ah, I love 3 year olds.
video
4. Balls crazy. I have no other way to describe Felix at times. He has turned into this lanky, scrappy toddler who talks, jumps, runs, and even bites like crazy. He was playing with the t-ball set, and realized it is a lot more fun to take a note from Mom's field hockey past and launch the ball by whacking it on the ground. Sometimes I think of that kid from the movie Parenthood who walks around the house with a bucket on his head walking into walls. That's Felix. This kid is going to SCHOOL all his friends at the piñata.
video

5. Kids in their parents' shoes is always a winner. "Where are you going?" (Finger up in the air...) "To RUNNING!" Again, I try to get my children to say things incorrectly. Miles says "moo-giss" for music, and it is so stinkin' cute. But at 3, they are on to you, and Miles just has the case of the "sillies" and adds other things onto his phrases like "fireplace" and "couch." Hands down, the best part is when I demand Miles say "I love my Mommy." And...ZING! Mom is put in her place...



Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...TUESDAY

Oh Ali! How do you maintain such natural beauty?

Insert obscene cackles.

I'm not a product junkie.
I have not had my hair cut in...well...we *could* be talking about a year here.
I probably harbor staph in the whopping 4.5 products that are in my make-up bag.
Our shower has more products in it for Eric than for me.

It's not that I don't care.

It's not that I am intentionally trying to "go natural."

It's that I'm productaphobic.
(Technically, I think I have decidophobia, which, believe it or not, is a true fear of making decisions!)

At first glance, I am a marketers dream: I want to have continuity in my make-up bag. Not a buffet of different labels and brands. So I tend to stick with one line of product. In some ways, decision making seems less daunting.

But where I fall short is volume. My loyalty is not expressed in purchasing frequency. I will make sure every ounce of product is used before I decide to buy again.
I ENVY my friends who are serial product experimenters.
But I'm that fuddy-duddy; set in her ways.
I'm not a first adopter when it specifically comes to personal care products. So the following list will probably look the same in a decade. And chances are, I'll still be on the same tube of mascara. I do vet my products through they cosmetic safety database, and try to choose products that rate a 2 or lower on the hazard scale, but some things I just cannot find a good natural alternative (eg, deodorant)
My sister-in-law introduced me a few years back to the brand that dominates my make-up case:



It can be used on your cheeks, lips, decolletage...and the container kind of looks like a bloated push pop. I wear this every day, especially because I am vitamin D deficient. (ie, I see very little sun, sadly.) The biggest disadvantage is that you need a tissue or sponge to rub it in. I have slight guilt that I'm contributing to waste each morning (and that Eric perpetually thinks I am discarding bloody tissues), but I'm probably decreasing the staph exposure by a few parts per billion, right? I would recommend trying this on before buying as I would NEVER have purchased the color I use. It looked dark purple (see above), and frightened me. But with a little blending, it looks really natural. 


Do I really need mascara? Nah. I may not have been blessed with clear skin, big boobs...and somewhere in the gene pool is Sasquatch, because I'm the type who gets out of the shower after shaving, gets the goose pimples, and has sandpaper legs all over again. BUT...I have really nice eyelashes if I may say so myself. Tarte Mascara just gives my lashes a little steroid injection. Does it perform better than $5 drug store brands? Probably not. Maybe in 8 years when I am finished with my tube and nursing the eye infections I've given myself, I'll get the guts to do some product comparisons.

Tarte Tinted Moisturizer


The reason I like the above product is that I am unpredictable with my facial sunscreen application as well as moisturizer. But when I break out, which kindly still happens at least twice a month even though I'm in my 30s (thanks hormones), I'm all over trying to hide the craters. This doesn't really act as a concealer, but does reduce the redness and obvious cystic messes on my face and neck. Days of yore I used to use an actual concealer stick, and just felt like the blemishes were exaggerated with a nice white circle of concealer. So this moisturizer, SPF, tinted number works pretty well for me.

Tarte Natural Eye Palette

I HATE the bedazzled flower on the cover (and quickly ripped it off upon purchase), but love the selection of colors. The eye liners are not my favorite colors (kinda green and mauve), but are sufficient. I have read some people complain the colors are not rich enough, but that's perfect for me. I'm no cosmetologist, so I need colors that I won't screw up. And an unintended perk of packaging: the set closes with a magnet, so my tweezer always adheres to the shadow. It's like the universe reminding me to groom the stragglers on my brow each morning. Whether or not I listen is another story.

Agape & Zoe Roller Ball Perfume

So...I'm not really sure where to go with this review. The company was apparently shutting down a few weeks ago, so I bought up their supply of candles and "Pure Innocence" scented roller balls. But there appears to be some other products just added to the site, so I'm not sure if I fell victim to opposite day or something...but I'm holidng out hope that the scents appear again.
I am not a huge perfume person. It gives me a headache. But I do like having a little waft of sweet smelling something on my skin--not for anyone but myself. I want to envelope myself in good thoughts, good deeds, and good smells. And now that I no longer smell like breast milk, I need an alternative (C'mon. You mothers totally know that the breast milk smell is a good one...unless it is a precursor to your leaking through a shirt at work.) The roller balls are the perfect size, and I fell in love with 2 of the scents: "Pure Innocence" and "Peace." Their potency isn't too intense...so one might need to apply throughout the day if you love scents that stick with you for 12 hours. I just roll one on my wrists, ear lobes, and neck each morning. And, no joke, while I apply, I try to repeat the name of the perfume over and over as sort of meditation. (In the past, I have also used "faith" and "botanica." Botanica on repeat doesn't inspire as well as the others.)
What happens when I run out of my current perfume?...TBD.
Tom's Wicked Fresh

I love this toothpaste. But I hate that it still contains SLS, and their SLS-free flavors leave me with sock teeth after 5 minutes. I love Maine (reminds me of my grandparents), love Tom (whoever he is), and love the feeling of "spicy teeth." I now find that other toothpaste tastes WAY too sweet, now.

Flossers!

There is nothing linked to this product, because I am actually not wedded to a brand.
Actually, I'm not wedded to flossing.
Why I cannot be regular at flossing is one of life's mysteries.
My children floss with flossers every night.
Eric flosses at least once if not twice a day.
I.do.not.
But I have better luck when I use a pre-strung flosser as opposed to free form floss.
More waste...I know.
I've started flossing when the kids are in the bath and I am getting their brushes and their own flossers ready. I'm like 4 for 7 right now. If my kids ever skip a bath...my teeth will most likely not get flossed.
I told you this blog is about honesty.

Speaking of honesty and Sasquatch...my final product:

Moom Wax

Story: When I was in college, I got "waxed" for the summer for the first time. I got BURNED and still have some scars from the incident. Since then, I've been terrified to let anyone hold hot wax over my tender skin.
But I *hate* that the second I shave any part of my body, I can instantaneously see a root regrowing.
One of the best parts of pregnancy for me was bedrest and not feeling obligated to shave.

Here's the problem with waxing in general: you have to actually let your hair grow OUT before you remove it. The pain I can tolerate (as long as I'm not smelling burning flesh). So I tend to use this in the winter more than the summer...you know, because of all that leg showing, bikini wearing I'm doing. It's really just that I can grow out my leg hair a little longer without anyone knowing, save the 3 males who live in my house. And the sad truth is, this bologna about waxing and not having hair growth for a few weeks is bull-honkey. Granted, it doesn't sprout as soon as it does with shaving, but I think I have super hair growth patterns or werewolf disease. Can we do some genetic modifications and work toward strategic alopecia? Legs, pits, and bikini line would be great. Maybe throw in the stash and chin for those women who have that problem...not that I do...moi?

That's pretty much my bathroom in a nutshell. Or a post. Just add in an old hairdryer and a flat iron that makes my hair smell like garlic. Oh, and maybe some men's deodorant. I hate feeling like I am running a perfumery in my pits. I mean, I don't like the stanky alternative... and I've tried every natural kind out there...they don't work for me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...MONDAY

Well, it's technically not Monday; it's more like Sunday, but I schedule posts throughout the week...

I'm in a writing rut.

I have so much to say, express, emote, divulge...and yet nothing is coming out.

At least nothing that makes sense.

I guess this is what they call writer's block?

I'm not taking crazy medications. I'm not any more sleep deprived than usual. My diet hasn't changed.

I'm thinking it is because, for the first time, we are just sort of "living." There isn't impending doom...or a crisis needing to be negotiated. Nothing terribly exciting to look forward to...it's just status quo. And yet, I still have these churnings of emotions and reflections about life somewhere in my amygdala (or hippocampus).

See? It all comes out awkward. Disjointed.

I'm all aphasiatic. (Agrammatism?)

I feel like the majority of my thoughts don't pour out into the form of blog posts anymore.
My mind thinks in Facebook updates, lately.
Actually, probably twitter feeds, but I don't do that tweet-y stuff.

For instance...at the end of the week I made a determination and a revelation on the way from childcare, in part, thanks to Julie Andrews. Not enough to blog about in my usual fashion...but it sort of seemed to dumb to post on Facebook. And yet, I just felt this intense desire to share.
  1. Do-Re-Mi is hard as &*$^ to sing. I guess you have to span an octave (if my vestigial musical bone is still lurking in my body somewhere.). I actually got embarrassed in the car singing to the boys because my voice couldn't handle the melodic ascent. Miles added lemon to my wound when he told me that I don't sing it as well as his teacher. Thanks, bud.
  2. "Fa...a long long way to run." Never understood that until the ripe age of 32. I guess Julie heralds from bean town? Why this was never clear...probably the same reason I thought it was "windshield factor" for so many years. Maybe that grey really is blond.
I started my weekend feeling musically inept and sensitive to blond jokes.

So this week I am taking a break from my usual blogging--every day, posting some of my favorite things. Nothing serious. Nothing groundbreaking. Nothing but some filler until my life gets all jacked up again (it inevitably will) and I have something of note to write about.

Monday's favorite thing:


I own exactly ZERO pieces from her collection, but I would be willing to rent out the boys for a few if I could just get my hands on one of her dresses. (JUST KIDDING PEOPLE!). Especially this one.
Ya know...I'll pay someone to photoshop a picture of me to send to Ms Emerson herself and beg "pretty please with a cherry on top" (you know how far a cherry can go) to let me be a model. This one you cannot even see her face! I would just need some help on the hair front!
The real question is...can you really call something your "style" when you cannot conceivably put together the look from a wardrobe heralding from Goodwill?

If so, this is TOTALLY my style.



Why, oh why does simplicity cost so much?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Many Faces of Miles

Disbelief:

Cheese Face:
Asleep:
 Tickled:
Apathetic:
Pained:
Accused/Defensive:
Shock and Awe:
 Charmed!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Toddlers: Boy Edition

Just 10 minutes with this kid...and you know you are with a toddler...and a boy.
PS--second kids don't need their noses wiped. 
And I hear third kids put themselves to sleep...I don't need more tempting.

***
You know you are a boy toddler when...

You hunt bugs.
You demand to dress yourself--incorrectly
You gravitate toward motorized vehicles. (doesn't that shoe hurt?)
You lick your boogies.
You collect dirt. Everywhere.

You steal your Mama's heart. Even when she doesn't wipe your boogies.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Big Boy Shower

Where is my little 4lb baby who I was so afraid to wash?



Or that 8 month old who just started taking baths in the big tub?


I still cannot believe my "baby" is not a baby anymore...



Miles asked to take a shower the other night. (Or "have" a shower for all you Canucks.)

It was kind of out of nowhere. We've never had kids who take showers with us. The one morning we tried to shower with Miles when he was around 16 months due to a massive pooplosion, he fuh-reaked out over the water.

So, I kinda dismissed Miles's urging earlier in the night. And then at bath, he demanded a shower. Normally I try to ignore all those self-righteous almost 4 year old demands...but this could be character building. Risk taking is not in Miles's wheelhouse, so I happily obliged.

"Felix no fear" was surprisingly terrified of the shower, and served as Eric's naked photography assistant.

I have no editing experience (nor do I have photoshop or lightroom), but I tried to experiment with some of the preset coloring adjustments as you'll see below. I may just stick with cropping and converting to black and white...all that talk of saturation, sharpness, and exposure makes me sweat.

Apologies for the photo dump...but I just couldn't decide which one was my favorite!






Belly rinse



And this was about 2 seconds before his face got wet, and he was OUTTA THERE!

I'm not ready for this growing up stuff...