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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Midnight Stalker

We've had lots of trouble lately getting Dear Daughter to stay in her bed at night. She just can't stand it that Mommy and Daddy are still awake somewhere in the house without her. After getting the kids to bed, Dear Husband and I typically retreat to the downstairs family room to watch television or to the downstairs office to do some late night paperwork. We can hear the pitter patter and thump thump of Daughter's feet above us and her attempts at (not so) silently sneaking down the stairs to peek on what we are doing. This goes until at least 10:30 most nights. Short of tying her to her bed, we are at a loss. Each time that she gets out of bed and wanders around the house she loses one of her most favorite privileges for the next day. Then another favorite privilege the next time, etc. Each new night we try again with a clean slate, and each night she manages to lose her privileges for the next day again. It's been about 10 solid days since she played with the closest neighbor kid or swam in her new pool. And some of those days she also lost "treats" after mealtime. She acts devastated the next day when she's lost her privileges, but she still continues to "earn" the consequences. For a really really smart little girl, she's not acting very smartly. To say we are frustrated with her is a major understatement. I would really like her to enjoy playing with her friend and swimming in her pool when the weather is perfect like it's been--not too hot and not too cold.

Sometimes she camps outside her little brother's room if Dear Husband has fallen asleep in the reclining rocker while holding him in his room. That's something she's not supposed to do either, but she just can't seem to control herself. A couple nights ago, after husband got up from his late night "nap" with his son, he stumbled out of Son's bedroom and found Dear Daughter sound asleep in the floor, halfway in the kids' bathroom and halfway in the hallway, with her beloved Taggie Book cushioning her head like a pillow. Dear Husband left her there until I came to have a look and until we stood around shaking our heads and snapping pictures. Then he tried to scoop her up off the floor only to discover that all her bare skin was stuck to the bare tile and wood flooring. After he managed to peel her off the floor with minimal skin burns, he put her in her bed, where she stayed until 4:00 am, at which point she had to come to our bedroom to see if we were there yet.

If she doesn't get this figured out soon, it's gonna be a long summer for her (and the rest of us, too).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Just the Highlights

Holiday weekends only leave me wanting more. This time it could be the fact that I painted Dear Son's bedroom, the master bathroom, mowed the five acres, scrubbed the kitchen floor, finished some paperwork I was behind on, and hosted a BBQ.

I'm too tired to write much, so I will just report Dear Son's newest phrase, "Rah, rah, rah! Siss boom bah!" and post a few pics.

The first couple are from our Mother's Day outing to the local Science Center and to lunch at Red Lobster.



















Then there's the pic documenting our Memorial Day tradition of setting up the kids' wading pool. Dear Son doesn't like to get in. He prefers to stay on the sidelines and shoot his squirt guns.



















And the last ones record what the wee ones were up to when they disappeared into Dear Daughter's bedroom tonight, followed by a few moments of silence, followed by lots of giggling and parading around the house...in Dear Daughter's tights, worn on their heads.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Good Life

Spring has apparently decided to stick around for awhile finally. We are leaving our windows open at night as the temps are now staying well above freezing. Late last night as I was brushing my teeth in the darkness of our master bathroom I felt the cool night breeze gently drifting in, and I smelled the scent of damp woods and night air. It's a combination of scents that always remind me of camping. I peeked out the window and saw the moon, a large waxing gibbous, lighting up the pond and the woods behind it. The tree frogs were chirping rhythmically. My current theory is that they never sleep. However, the Spring Peepers seem to be taking a break from their shrill calls that we've heard for the past three months. Last night I heard a different variety that I've not yet identified. I imagine it is the same variety that wanders up to the house lately and hangs out on one of the external brick windowsills. It was a peaceful sound, not obnoxious like the summer nights become when all the bugs come alive and scream all night long, "We're bugs! We're bugs!" Their noise seems deafening if you quiet yourself long enough to really listen.

As I crawled under the flannel quilt on our king size log bed next to my snoring husband, I felt content with this life in the country. I remembered a few days ago when it was still cold and rainy and I was stuck inside with the wee ones all day long. We were playing hide-and-seek around the house. I was hiding and the kids were seeking. As soon as they found me, Dear Daughter excitedly told me there was a dear outside the window of my bedroom. We ran to the master bedroom and the three of us crouched silently on the floor next to the double windows to watch for as long as the deer would let us. He wandered along the edge of the woods, munching on grass, his ears and tail twitching every now and then. It had been awhile since we saw a deer in the backyard. We know they've been there, as Dear Son has found the evidence. We just haven't seen them for awhile, especially not in the middle of the day.

I was supposed to be sleeping now, but instead my mind kept wandering. This time I was thinking of the time spent mowing the lawn earlier in the day. It's the perfect time of year for mowing. It's not hot, but it's warm enough to wear shorts and feel the sun warming your skin. Dear Husband and I fought briefly over who was going to mow and who was going to supervise the wee ones. We both ended up getting a turn in the end. As I created row after row of neat diagonals along the acre or so on the south side of the house, Husband stepped out of the house and began to smile. Thinking he looked as if he had something to tell me, I drove towards him. I figured he was going to offer his typical advice on how to do it "right." Instead, he leaned down to my ear and said, "What's gotten into you? You're actually mowing straight lines." As I returned to the task, I passed the pear tree that I hit with the mower last year the first time I tried to drive it. "I must be getting good at this," I thought to myself. Especially if Husband has no further advice to offer me and even admires my work.

It's quiet out here. We do silly things like catch tadpoles and pet tree frogs. I have fun making patterns in the grass with the lawn mower and revving up the chain saw. We build bonfires in the backyard and roast marshmallows. We drive Grandpa's 1967 Chevy pickup around the acreage to haul wood. The kids have fun bouncing around the seat as we lurch and whine along in the low gears (it's got a four speed manual transmission). I look at my little girl grinning and bouncing next to me, and I think of when I was her age riding in the same pickup with Grandpa as we bounced around his farm over three decades ago.

It's a great life. In fact, I think it doesn't get much better than this.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Rub

The present days are filled with a frustrating emotional rub. The wee ones often fight about everything from who gets to brush their teeth first to who gets to turn the television off. It's exhausting. Trips to the foodmart with both of them require a bottle of Valium. Dear Son is in this annoying phase of wanting to hit his sister all. the. blessed. time. Dear Daughter has an emotional breakdown every time she misplaces her woobie for three seconds. She cannot handle being apart from me even for just long enough for me to leave the room to gather an armful of laundry. She gets out of bed 15 times each night after I tuck her in, just to tell me one more time how much she loves me. It's not easy to scold her for this. She's figured out how to open the child-proof gate at the top of the basement stairs. This means I can't get the work done that I only have the chance to get done after the kids are in bed. Last night she didn't stay in bed until 11:00 pm.

I try to console myself with reminders such as "It's a phase that will pass" and "s/he'll grow out of it." And there's the rub. Dear Son still loves to cuddle. He will be 29 months old in a few days, but he still loves to curl up in my arms and still wants to be held ALL THE TIME. As difficult as that can make it to get routine household chores done, I am acutely aware that these days are numbered. His body is pushing into size 3T clothing and ranks in the 90-something size percentiles, and as I try to gather him into my arms to hold him as he requests, the length of his legs and the weight of his body serve as painful reminders of how fast he is growing up.

I look at my 4 3/4 year-old daughter and see the babyish-ness escaping her. She is reading and doing simple addition. The chub is disappearing from her body frame and she is becoming long and lean. Her baby-face roundness is diminishing. I can practically see it happening day by day now.

It's a constant emotional battle to be ready for them to be done with some of the exhausting day-to-day battles that at times leave me curled in the corner in a fetal position mumbling unintelligibly, and to simultaneously feel that pain in my chest in the form of the awareness that they are growing up too fast and there is nothing I can to do stop them.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Early May Brain Dump

Dear Daughter has been enjoying her ballet and tap dance lessons. She got to do a recital with her class on a real stage behind real lights at a real theater as an opener for a real theater performance. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work!

It was pretty neat to have Great Uncle Ron and Great Aunt Pat come to see the recital, especially because they had to make such a quick trip so that Great Uncle Ron could get back home and get his corn planted. After they left, Dear Daughter was questioning why they had to leave so soon, and I explained that since Uncle Ron is a farmer, his job depends on getting his corn planted and it is really important. She responded, "I didn't know Uncle Ron is a farmer!" We've talked about this before, but apparently it didn't register.

Dear Son has been in this grumpy grouchy mood for awhile now. He's been a little stuffy in the nose and didn't eat well for a few days. He kept pulling monster "goobers" out of his nose and trying to hand them to us. I swear a couple of them were the size of dimes. He didn't have any other cold symptoms, so we are suspecting he has seasonal allergies. We apparently have some wicked stuff that grows in the woods around our house as we all seem to have some amount of trouble with it at various times, and so do many people who come to our house.

Dear Son's new phrase (to add to his recent collections of phrases such as, "No problem!" "Hey! Check this out!" and "That's cute!") is "I don't like___________!" You can pretty much fill anything in the blank as he said it about literally everything from the weather to his new sandals this weekend. Tonight he was feeling much better and apparently much more positive, as he finally started saying, "I like_____________!" about a few things. "I like avocados!" "I like you!" (which he said out of the blue to me in the middle of dinner), "I like birdies!" (about the hummingbirds buzzing about outside the kitchen window thanks to the new hummingbird feeder we put out only minutes before).

We are also debating the necessity of converting Son's crib to the toddler bed. It seems the other night, when he hit the apex of his grouchiness, he didn't want his daddy to turn out the light at bedtime. He wouldn't stop throwing a fit, so Dear Husband put him in his crib and turned the light out and shut the door. Son screamed more loudly and furiously than I think I've ever heard before. After about three minutes or less, we heard a loud thump and by the time we made it in his door, he was standing on the other side still screaming. The crib rail was up, and it hits him at least chest high, so he took quite a fall. He's never tried to climb out before, so I've been in no hurry to transition him. Unlike his sister, I am most positive that he will be a kid who will not stay in his bed at naptime or bedtime. Dear Daughter never tried to get out of her bed by herself until she was over three and a half years of age. This is despite the fact that we transitioned her into a twin bed at the age of 28 months as we needed the crib for her little brother.

We finished setting up the gardens in this weekend and planted our vegetables, so we're tired. Weekends tend to have the effect of leaving me longing for more days off. I think if weekends were four days long I would still want a couple more days. *sigh!*