Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The world is a dirty, dirty place...

  A few years before kids came along, my roommate happened to be one of my good friends.  This particular friend lived with "CDO"--which as the joke she told goes, is OCD, only in alphabetical order like it should be.  She kept everything quite nearly sterile in the apartment (not gonna lie--I loved it).  She jumped into the parenting world about two years before Abriella entered the world, and good naturedly took the teasing that her son would be the cleanest little boy in the world, with the weakest immune system due to lack of exposure to dirt.  Her sister, also one of my close friends, told me one afternoon that every time she saw her nephew she was going to make it a point that the kid got to play in a bit of dirt.

  I have slight CDO tendencies myself.  I know that, and as a result...I've become more than a little obsessive about NOT being obsessive about things when I'm aware of them.  Did you catch all that?  Okay. good.

  Abriella is 13 months old.  She walks, she talks, and lately...she picks stuff up.  This is fine at home.

"Yes, Abby, that is your teddy bear.  Can Mama give him a hug?"

"Yes, you found the microscopic piece of paper that was under the table.  Good job!"

"Thank you, sweetie, for bringing Mommy every single item from your toy box.  I always wanted to be buried alive!"

...Today, at the park, not so much.  It's hot here in the south, a wet, sticky kind of hot.  So we were out for our walk rather early...the grass still felt squishy and damp, and just a bit cool.  Abby loves to play in the grass, and especially...loves to pick up things she finds in it.  Or, perhaps, the stuff in the wood chip filled playground.  Like chewed gum.

 "Yes, Abby, that is chewed up gum.  It's trash.  Let's go put it in the trash can..."

  I lifted her up, she dropped the wad of discolored pink-ish gum stuck to a large piece of wood into the trash can, I set her down and was thinking about getting a Wet One out.  But it's just a little dirt, right?  It's good for her immune system.  Besides, she's teething and not letting that pacifier out of her sight (despite me thinking I really had found all of them and got rid of them)...so it'll be fine.

  And she's walking off towards a lovely old oak tree anyway.

  And she's bending over.

 "Mama? MAMA!"

  She turns, holding out what obviously must be one finger of a rubber glove.  I snatch it from her hand and in .000001 second, it's in the trash.

  Another .000001 second passes and that individually packaged Wet One is open and her hands are clean.

  And I know what you're thinking.  And you aren't allowed to say it.  Don't even continue thinking it.  Because it was one finger off of a large rubber glove.  It was very, very clearly a glove in the moment I had it in my hand.  It couldn't have been anything else because...there is not enough hand sanitizer in the world.

Monday, June 25, 2012


The baby at our house is almost five months old now.  He's sleeping better, so I can put him down for a nap and wander away to work on the computer for an hour or two until I hear him fussing.

There's apparently another new baby in the neighbourhood too, and now that the weather is nice and the windows are open, we hear that baby.  And whatever they might say about a mother knowing the sound of her baby's cry, that baby sounds a LOT like ours, at least when I've got an ear cocked towards the upstairs waiting for the faintest noise.

Somehow we have started referring to the other baby as "Outside Baby".  Perhaps we're both sitting in the kitchen, and we hear a cry... my husband will say "Is that Outside Baby or our baby?".  

I hope we won't be overheard one day and have someone think, in horror, that we have a baby we keep outside.  Even if the weather is nice...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Circle of Cute

I spent most of my 20s responding, when asked about babies, that I would have kids *just* after I lost my figure, so I could blame it on them. And that's pretty much the plan we followed - my daughter was born a month or so shy of my 33rd birthday. I wasn't unattractive or even fat, exactly, but I was pretty sure that I'd crested the Pretty Hill and was on the downslope.

And then I had a baby. Then I had another! Mission: DestroyAbs was completed. But I got to blame it on the babies. What freedom! If someone says I'm fat - even if that someone is me - I can respond "I sacrificed my Hotness on the Altar of Having Babies" and they would be baby-hating jerks to even think that something as paltry as hotness measures up against the continuation of the species. It's like a Get-Out-Of-Being-Fit card.

This has actually taken a lot of the pressure off, and allowed me to be less critical of my own flabdomen - it's like I'm fooling even myself. Except I'm not. I'm *convincing* myself. I actually think it's worth any downgrade in my appearance (lack of time/energy/etc) to have participated in the creation of the two perfect-in-their-own-way beings that have earned the names Luna and Sol - my crazy beautiful tidal girl and my sunshine and warm-fuzzies boy. I look @ these tiny humans, and back at myself. And sometimes I may really feel that they've somehow leeched my own youth and beauty. But they wear it so much better. They should keep it.

I appreciate the thought, but your shirt is lying.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

That wrinkle will kill your baby.

I was recently at a work function (I am currently on maternity leave) sitting around a table with a few co-workers, most of whom have babies or kids under two. A friend and other co-worker is expecting twins in a couple months. The conversation turned to things we never thought we would need but have come to love. For me, this is the ikea plastic-backed mattress cover. I use them everywhere. When I am feeding her on the rocking chair in case of vomit? Yes. On the couch, in case of vomit? Check! In her crib in case of vomit? Definitely.  On saying this, one co-worker who has 2 year old twins (the oldest kids of any of us, and this entitles her to feel as though we should defer to her wisdom) looks at me in shock and says 'surely you don't put it in the crib?! NOTHING goes in the crib'. I am slightly confused by this and say that why yes I do, and it goes under the sheet. She then looks at the pregnant co-worker and says 'Don't listen to her, that can KILL the baby'.
I am pretty sure I laughed out loud.
As it turns out, on further conversation, evidently these plastic-backed sheets of death can create a wrinkle in the baby's sheet, which the baby can then get her face on, and she will then subsequently smother and die.

I thought of this last week when baby H (who is increasingly breaking out of her swaddle at night) was minging away in her crib. So I went in to re-swaddle her (she is never awake, breaks free, gets mad that she is free, and minges) and low and behold, she has no covering from the chest down, and a butt-load of linen swaddle blanket on her face.

My co-worker would have called CAS right there.

Baby H was flailing around and when I tool the swaddle off her face she gave be the biggest of grins, clearly pleased with her accomplishment.

**This isn't to say that I didn't feel like a terrible mother that she had cloth on her face, because I did, but the kid is a three month old houdini who can go from a tight swaddle, to killing herself in a matter of minutes.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

I wish I could write some kind of grateful, witty, touching entry about my parenting partner, what with it being Father's Day and all.  I'm not sure I have anything like that in me, though, so I hope you will put up with awkward rambling.

Last year at this time my husband was a stay-at-home dad, while I finished up my last year of teaching before becoming the stay-at-home parent.  When we got to Father's Day I realized that it's quite something for a man to stay home with kids who aren't even his.  In our case, he was caring for my son from my previous marriage, who was 13 at the time, and our first foster child, an 11-year-old boy who had been living with us for a couple of months by then.

He dealt with teachers and administrators at two different schools.  He made breakfasts, packed lunches, bought and doled out after-school snacks, and usually made supper too.  He dealt with all the various appointments that come with fostering - as many as three a week at the busiest times, usually involving pulling the child out of school for a pickup.  When there wasn't a volunteer driver available he became the volunteer.  He played soccer, basketball, chess, and tennis.  I ran 'Homework Half-Hour' after dinner every night, but he was the one who made sure the homework actually made it into the backpacks the next day.  It was really pretty amazing to watch the almost-instant transition from "Ask your mother" to me saying "uh... I don't know... did you ask...?"

Now we both work part-time from home, so the parenting duties kind of slosh around.  Depending on who is stressed about work at any given minute, the other will pick up the slack. The baby is nominally 'my' responsibility, but if he wakes up at 6am I'm not the one who gets up with him.  Even this morning, Father's Day, I entirely slept through the baby waking up, having breakfast, being up for an hour or two, and going back down for a nap.  I had coffee brought to my bedside and had to ask "What time is it?  Is the baby asleep?". 

So, the day got off to a slow start, but I think it has worked out okay.  Even though no-one here actually calls him "Dad", he spent the afternoon watching Arrested Development.  At dinnertime we stuffed him with steak (okay, he cooked that), Caesar salad, french fries, and homemade from-scratch chocolate cake.  There was a funny card signed from all the kids and cats, and a new pair of slippers.  He'll stay up until 5am watching movies and drag himself to bed after sleeping a bit on his black-leather bachelor's couch, for old time's sake.  I'll get up with the baby in the morning and Father's Day won't end until noon tomorrow, after he has slept through the morning.

It might not be the perfect Father's Day, but in our clumsy way, I think we've made the point that he's loved and appreciated.

Friday, June 15, 2012

One Bad Day

Today was not a good day.  It actually started out good.  The first hour I was awake was great.  Then I had to get out of bed.  It all went downhill from there. 

Today was a special day at the library in a nearby town.  They had invited a juggler and yo-yo expert there to perform.  I was excited.  I thought the kids would love it too.  My 5-year-old disagreed.

Boy: "I am not going."

Me: "Um, yes you are."

Boy: "I'm staying home by myself."

Me:  "You're 5.  You aren't staying home alone.  Get dressed in 5 minutes or you're going in your pj's."

Boy:  "Nope, you can't make me."

Enter evil laughter from me.  Because we were going.  Pj's or not.

I started bring out the baby and my 2-year-old to buckle them in the car.  I hear him yelling in the house, "Fine!  I'll get dressed, but I'm not going to help you today!"

He finally got dressed and made it out to the car.  We were a few minutes late to the library for the start of the show.  We go inside and it is PACKED.  There are probably over 100 kids there, along with parents.  I find a place for the boys to sit and Nate refuses to sit.  People are giving me the evil eye because their kids are trying to see.  He eventually sits down and I find somewhere to sit next to some friends with Clara.  About 20 minutes into the show, the 5-year-old comes to find me.  "I want to go home." 

At this point, I just want to give up and go back home, but I am determined that he is not going to get his way.  I tell him to sit down and watch because we aren't leaving until it is over.  Ten minutes later, my 2-year-old comes and finds me.  He wants to sit on my lap.  Which makes the 5-year-old want to sit on my lap.  Which means I have all 3 kids sitting on my lap and the boys fighting with each other.  I'm surprised I made it out alive.  The show ends and I am ready to leave by that point.  But first, my friend brought some cloth diapers I was buying from her.  She hands me the box and I manage to wrangle everyone out the door, with a package under one arm, the baby on one hip, and holding on to both the boys' hands.

We get to the car and the 5-year-old climbs in the backseat.  He sits in the middle seat behind me and has to get in my car door to get to his car seat.  He refuses to get out.  I set the box on top of the car, pick him up and set him on the sidewalk.  All this time, he's saying, "I'm not going to help you today.  I don't like you anymore.  I don't want to wait for you.  I'm going to do it myself."  However, we were parked on a very busy street.  I am very exasperated at this point.  As I am buckling in my 2-year-old, he climbs under his sister's seat into his car seat.  Fine.  I get in the car and drive away.

We're driving to go get lunch and someone behind me is honking.  I don't know why they are honking.  I'm driving normal.  We go get McDonald's for lunch and head to daddy's work to eat.  When I get to his work, I let the 5-year-old out and bring the food to set on the table.  I go out to get the other kids and decide I am going to look through the box of diapers.  The box of diapers that isn't there.  Because it was on the roof of my car.  It must have flown off the roof at some point.

I buckle the 5-year-old back in the car and we drive back to retrace our steps.  There are no signs of that stinkin' box of diapers.  Hopefully, whoever finds them can put them to good use.  I need a whole box of cookies right now.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The teenagers are listening

I've been trying to install a new printer.  For work at home? To print tax forms? To help my son study for exams as his high school year comes to a close?

Nope. I want to colour.

No, not 'art',  colouring. Call it 'Dramatic Therapy' if you like, but we're talking a pack of crayola markers from Zellars.   You see, Minecraft is "broken" in that. . .never mind, it just doesn't work right now.  

So I tried to set up a printer we've had for ages and never got around to using.

Five hours and three re-installations  of the software later, my son says to me rather calmly:

"Yanno mom,  it'll still be there in the morning You can fight with it then, when you're fresh." 

Stopped me dead in my tracks.  He was quoting me, back at me.  What?

But he was serious.

It's scary when you you get proof that the teenagers are listening.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dubious Relief

One of the curious aspects of foster parenting is that the child has some appointments that the foster parents do not accompany them on.  The Children's Aid has a cadre of volunteer drivers that pick up children from wherever they are and deliver them where they need to be, and then bring them back again.  Today, for instance, Jason was picked up at 10:30am and will be delivered back to our door at 1:30pm.

Three hours of relief!  Awesome, right?

The reality is much more stressful, although I don't know how much of this I bring on myself.

Firstly, his napping schedule.  We're doing pretty well with sleep right now, considering he just hit four months.  He's generally not awake for more than 90 minutes during the day.  He'll get up at 6:30am, say, but then be back down for a nap at 8am.  The naps are totally unpredictable in length, ranging from 20 minutes to four hours.  His morning wakeup time is totally unpredictable as well, and could be anything from 5:30am to 9am.  Fortunately today he was awake when the driver was due to come, but usually I have to wake him up to get him ready.

Secondly, the prep.  I was doing laundry late last night to make sure he had an appropriate, cute outfit that matches and fits.  He has clothing that was a gift from the people he is seeing, so I wanted him to be wearing as much of that as possible.  I waited until five minutes before the driver was due because I have had him spit up on his clothes before leaving the house before.  He needs a diaper bag packed with everything you'd expect, but also a communication book that I fortunately remembered to bring up to date on the weekend.  (That's not a fun thing to be trying to do as you watch out the window for the car to arrive.)

Part of the prep involves cat hair.  I got the feedback once that it was "mentioned" that he had cat hair on his clothes, so of course now I'm militant about trying to eradicate it.  The clothes he wears come straight out of the dryer and on to him, and I brush off the bag.  The carseat is the hardest - it sits right inside the front door, usually, on the floor where the most hair accumulates.

The volunteer drivers are subject to human frailties such as being late and going to the wrong address, and civic problems such as traffic.  I've woken the baby up at 10:15am to get him ready, only to have the driver arrive at 10:58am, at which point I'm sending off a baby red-faced, blotchy, and inconsolable from a half-hour of screaming.  On the other hand, I've waited until I saw the car coming to wake the baby up, only to have the driver standing over me and waiting impatiently while I try to do the world's fastest diaper-and-clothing change.

Thirdly, the time he's gone.  I've got three hours to get done everything I need to get done (you know, 10 hours of work for the week, all the laundry and housecleaning, run errands), but instead I'm sitting here missing him, wondering if he's okay with the stranger who picked him up today, and worrying that I forgot to put the diaper rash cream in the bag.  I know from experience that I'm going to spend the time roaming around the house, unable to focus anything, and snapping at my husband.  It has also happened in the past that a visit is cancelled at the last minute, and the driver turns right back around and brings him home.  So I can't actually run errands - I need to be home.

Lastly, the fallout.  Last time the baby came home he was asleep in the driver's car, but of course bringing him in the house woke him up.  He was happy for a half-hour, then screamed for a solid two and a half hours until finally falling asleep at 4:30pm.  It's not like the baby never cries, but that was exceptional.  And who can blame him, when his schedule has been disrupted and he's been away from his primary caregiver for hours?  It leads to a weird mix of wanting to see him, but yet dreading it. It also probably means that I'm, sadly, too attached myself.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mommyworld Problems 1.0

Every once in a while DM lets me use my tablet.  Sometimes I draw things on it.  This will be the start of a series of crappy free-app touchscreen drawings I call Mommyworld problems.  The art will NOT be good, because I'm never allowed to use the playbook for more than 2 mins, and as aforementioned only have the crappy free apps to draw with.  :)

I call this panel Noise Rays & Stinklines Version One.

One of those "duh" moments...

So, 'Nyx and I were sitting a the computer the other day merrily singing our way through a YouTube excursion and the wet diaper alarm went off (not an actual alarm, but just that certain beginning of crank that says "Hey! Need some assistance here!"). I was right on top of things so we went into the powder room and pulled a NASCAR quick change of the cloth and proceeded back to the YouTube merriment. About 20 or so minutes later, in the midst of some music induced knee bouncing, I thought..."Wow, my leg is getting really warm..."

Yeah, I had forgotten the diaper cover. Bad Mommy, No cookie.