Saturday, February 28, 2009

Best Mom Tip #47: Don't talk to strangers

My husband's birthday was this week so my children and I headed to our regular grocery store to buy him some birthday cards. This was quite a weighty decision for Little Princess because being 4 requires that you really debate the merits of pop-up cards. It also means that you forget what you're doing when you see sparkly cards that you might like for yourself. After the 4th or 5th suggestion of a Barbie/princess/rainbow birthday card I reminded my daughter that these cards were for her father.

That's when she loudly yelled, "He's NOT my father!"

My husband and I have been married for 10 years and he is most definitely the father of my children in every sense of the word. My daughter, however, calls him "Daddy" and she felt that father and daddy didn't have the same connotation, which is why she protested my statement so vehemently. All of which I felt the need to explain to the people standing nearby who, from my point of view, were giving us odd looks.

I knew they were thinking, "how sad that that woman is forcing her children to buy cards for some new guy in her life and trying to pretend that he's their father. Or maybe he IS the baby's father. She'd have to be pretty fast moving to have that baby AND a new guy. So the older kid must belong to someone else and the BABY is the new guy's. But she does have on wedding rings--maybe the older kid was from a first relationship and now she resents the new marriage. Poor little girl. "

I attribute a lot of internal monologue to people I don't know. That's probably why I began to correct my daughter in a commanding tone, making sure that I pointed out that my husband IS her father. She continued to argue over me every time I said the word father, so I'm pretty sure that if any strangers WERE listening, I just made it worse. And since none of the strangers would make eye contact with me, my only recourse was to have a conversation with my daughter that I intended for the innocent bystanders to overhear.

By the end of the card-shopping adventure even I began to believe that my husband is not actually related to my daughter and that we're really just forcing her to try to love him. This is, of course, the same store where I had my recent embarrassing pharmacy incident so I've decided it's best if I just don't talk to strangers anymore. It's bad for my self-esteem.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Best Mom Tip #46: Read Allison Wonderland

Yesterday my daughter told me all about how she really loves Alice in Wonderland. She described her dress (kind of a purple-y-blue in real life, Mommy) and how there was a cat. It took me a minute to realize that she kept calling Alice "Allison".

It turns out that in Little Princess's world Allison is just one member of the fortunately named Wonderland Family. Her version of the story involves pictures from her Disney book, drawings from the original Alice in Wonderland, and her own imagination. It is actually quite an enjoyable tale and doesn't involve nearly as many drug related events as the actual story does.

This morning I heard her telling her dolls that Daddy was going to give a Dumbo to his clients. In reality, my husband was presenting a demo of his company's software, but a Dumbo does sound like more fun. Since he will also be attending the Texas State Rodeo as part of this client visit, it really doesn't seem so far fetched that there would be an elephant in addition to the horses, bulls, and BBQ.

I've decided that I'm going to try to imagine the world as my creative little girl hears it. She can't yet read so she's not hindered by seeing the words written down. She just takes what she hears and squishes the information into a more-fun version of what her day is like.

Allison Wonderland isn't doing anything special when she attends the tea party--that's what every day is like for her. And Daddy is a superhero who takes Dumbos on planes to clients with rodeos. I wish I were 4.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Best Mom Tip #45: Play with their toys

I can't tell you how much fun my new dollhouse is. It has all sorts of furniture and tiny food for the kitchen. There are area rugs, a laptop computer, and a very nice coat rack. I especially like the changing table for the twins' room. And the canopy bed for the older sister is the envy of my actual, real-life daughter.

Technically, the doll house belongs to that real-life little girl, but I get to play with it on a regular basis. At the end of the day, I help reset the furniture and I rearrange the rooms the way I would like them to be. I put the family at the dinner table and set out the vegetables and cupcakes for them to eat. Then I start to work on the Barbies.

I can remember finding my Barbies in different positions when I was a little girl and wondering why my mom was playing with MY toys. I now realize that it's because moms don't really HAVE their own toys, but they're still fun to play with. So now I treat toy clean-up time as a way for my to get my toy fix. The kids think I'm overzealous when it comes to putting things in their place--I think the doll family really appreciates my help in creating traffic flow from one room to the next. How else will that mom ever have time to sit down at the laptop and write her own blog? Now if only the giant Mommy who owns my house would show up and clean...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Best Mom Tip #44: Paint your face

This is me getting my face painted at Epcot. I realize that I look like a fool, but my Little Princess thought that this was the best make-up job EVER and she got one to match.

I spent the entire rest of the day wondering why people were looking at me like I was crazy--then I'd catch a glimpse of myself in the shiny facades of the World of Tomorrow and remember that I looked like a Rainbow Pop had been smeared on my face.

My daughter's reaction to her reflection was somewhat different--every time she got to see herself she would smile and preen and talk about how wonderful her glitter lipstick looked. There were lots of kids with their faces painted, but I only saw one other adult with hers done in the three days I spent inside the Walt Disney World parks. Even if she hadn't had the face of a cat painted on her, I would have recognized a kindred spirit. She was the OTHER mom still smiling at the end of the very long day at Disney.

By embracing the silliness of childhood, the Magic Kingdom held a lot more magic and I certainly couldn't take myself too seriously. I like being one of the kids every now and then.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Best Mom Tip #43: Girls' Night Out

I can't tell you how much I appreciate the monthly girls' night out I go to. There are single women, married women without kids, and other moms who go. It's not always the same people, so I meet new women sometimes. Sometimes it's just me and friends I've had for 15 years. We talk about jobs, kids, husbands, books, movies, church, and occasionally politics.

We confess our parenting mistakes--no, your kid is not going to be crazy because you broke his lego tower; yeah, you probably shouldn't get that mad at a 2 year old--and laugh at stories that don't involve our own embarrassing moments. Sometimes we pester our friend who's having twins to tell us what it feels like in there (her answer is "crowded"). We usually check up the birth horror stories if there are non-moms in attendance.

Last week I talked a lot about the Twilight books that I just read so that I could relate to the teenage girls I volunteer with a bit better. Not exactly saving the world, but funny to share and I did help one friend understand why, in the movie, they all just stare at each other a lot. One friend is probably moving to Maryland to follow her husband's dream job. One friend is trying to decide whether or not to go back to work now that the kids are a bit older. Another single woman is moving in with a friend to save money and get her finances on track in this economy.

There was probably a 10-year age range at our last gathering and we certainly were in different stages of life. But there was never a break in the conversation, no one got mad or bored, and we closed down the Starbucks AGAIN. I couldn't help but think that old "if women ran the world thing" about how there would be more talking and less fighting. I'm not sure if that is really true, but there would certainly be a lot more understanding if we all just chatted about our lives for a few hours once a month.

As always, I left inspired, encouraged, and laughing. Find some girls to go out with. It does wonders.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Best Mom Tip #42: Bathe quickly

I spend a lot of time herding people out of the bathroom so that I can take a shower. I just want to stand in the warm water in peace and get clean while hearing nothing but "ssshhhhhhhhhhh." That never happens.

Someone always cries or needs help finding a shirt or just wants to chat about what they're thinking about. Today I was interrupted by my daughter yelling "I'm bleeding!" She was playing a "game" where she batted the door to my closet back and forth between her hands while talking to me during my shower.

Inevitably, she managed to smash her finger in between the closet door (which is inside my bathroom) and the bathroom sink. The shower had just started to get really warm and certainly didn't want to leave it's wonderful warmth, but there was a little girl crying.

I got out, wrapped up in a big towel, and washed, medicated, and bandaged a very slightly bloody little finger. I gave her a kiss on her Dora band-aid and returned to my shower. I had only managed to wash my hair before the tragic finger-squishing incident.

I'm sure that one day after everyone grows up and goes to college I'll be able to take baths alone. Right now it's just an occupational hazard that I will try to avoid by bathing in under two minutes. I doubt I will be successful.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Best Mom Tip #41: Look under the bed

I found a pumpkin under my daughter's bed today. An actual used-to-be-alive pumpkin. It was one of those small pumpkins that you can use to make a centerpiece or something like that. She got it at a Fall Festival we went to in OCTOBER before Halloween. Valentine's Day is on Saturday and I just found a pumpkin in her room.

In case you are interested, small un-carved pumpkins do not rot through their outer skins when kept in a temperature-controlled room for 4 months--a fact for which I am incredibly grateful. I shudder to think what might have been under there if I hadn't noticed it for another 4 months. Ants? New baby pumpkins? A brown lump of goo? Yeeccchhhh.

I have a friend who once found a stash of food wrappers under her son's bed. He had been sneaking granola bars or fig newtons or something like that and hiding the wrappers so his mom wouldn't find them in the trash. She, too, was thankful she discovered them before the crumbs drew a slew of pests to nest under her boy's bed.

I do look under the bed for clothes and toys, but the pumpkin was tucked up near the foot of the bed in the corner so unless I looked from the right angle (from the foot of the bed as close the wall as possible) I couldn't see it. Consider this a public service announcement--go look under your kids' beds. There could be produce under there.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Best Mom Tip #40: Keep your head up

Motherhood is far more embarrassing that I thought it would be. My kids do gross things in public, say inappropriate things to strangers, and sometimes repeat things I'd rather they didn't. But I also embarrass myself without their help at all.

Recently, my 6-month-old son had an ear infection that wouldn't go away. All moms know how to treat this ailment: start with Amoxicillin for 10 days--if that doesn't work follow with Augmentin for 10 days--then Omnicef, then scary shots, etc. The Amoxicillin didn't work so I had to go back to the pharmacy to get a prescription for Augmentin. I got it filled at about 10 in the morning, but Baby Boy wasn't due for another dose until just before bed time. When it came time to give him the meds, my husband said, "this bottle says Amoxicillin on it."

Frustrated and angry, I drove back to the pharmacy to point out the mistake and defend my precious baby who was this close to taking the same ineffectual medicine for another week. When I got there, the same pharmacist was still on duty, in what must have been the longest pharm shift on earth. To his credit, our pharmacist didn't act as though I was crazy at all when he pointed out that the bottle said Amoxicillin PLUS Clavulanate, which are actually the ingredients in Augmentin. The bottle didn't say Augmentin because most pharmacies only provide the generic version, which is what my pharmacist had done.

He also didn't act as though I insulted his intelligence by returning to the pharmacy to make him fix his egregious error. I suppose I could have called. Or looked it up on the internet. Or asked him when I got the medicine the first time. I made the situation worse by saying that my daughter took the brand name when she was a baby. He, of course, had actual medical records at his fingertips and ran down the 5 or 6 times I gave the GENERIC version of Augmentin to my daugther over the past 4 years. I thanked him for his help and went home.

It's difficult to embarrass oneself in front of a man who already knows what birth control you use, that you've needed hemmoroidal ointment, and that you've used a topical cream to help restore balance to your girly parts after childbirth. But I managed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Best Mom Tip #39: Know a good knock-knock joke

Who's there?
Dishes who?
Dishes the police! Stick 'em up!

Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you gonna open this door?

Who's there?
Boo who?
Why are you crying?

Aren't knock-knock jokes great? My 4-year-old is currently VERY into knock-knock jokes. This is the one she made up today:

LP: Knock-knock.
Me: Who's there?
LP: Bottom
Me, with great reluctance: Bottom who?
LP: Bottom gonna slimer the whole house and the entire world and then gonna take a rest and do it again.

Then she cracked up. I don't know what slimer means and I don't know how a bottom would do that. I'm pretty sure that if it is a real thing, I've had a little bottom or two slimer me and I didn't find it at all funny.

My favorite part of the joke is that it has a definitely threatening quality. She caught part of a commercial for The Godfather on TV yesterday and she seemed way too interested for a 4-year-old girl. Next thing I know her dollhouse will be a compound and Barbie will wake up with a My Little Pony head in her bed.

Who's there?
An Italian guy with a giant florist's box. Don't open the door!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Best Mom Tip #38: Hit Disney in February

I realize that you may not have the opportunity to go to Disney World in February, but I don't think I'm ever going to go back in the summer. Granted, I haven't been to Disney's parks in 20 years (ran the marathon there in 2004, but we didn't visit the parks) so I'm obviously not a huge Mouse fanatic. But February was a great time to go.

Those pink mouse ears at the bottom of the picture belong to my Little Princess and we only waited for about 10 minutes to get to meet Mickey and Minnie. We waited 15 minutes to meet Cinderella, Belle, and Sleeping Beauty.

My daughter smiled for three straight days as we rode Dumbo 5 times, went in the "spooky house" as she called it, and saw a variety of character-laden parades and dance numbers. My 6-month-old son mostly just slept, but even he got into It's a Small World.

After dragging them both around the parks for three days my feet hurt, my back hurt, and my legs felt like lead. We had a blowout diaper in Epcot that resulted in throwing the garment away. We even had to buy new socks. We ran out of formula in the Magic Kingdom and had to buy some from the Mouse. We got rained on for 6 straight hours. But we had fun--ever ridden the Jungle Cruise in the rain? It's pretty enjoyable when you don't have to wait in line.

We walked on to Space Mountain while one of us stayed with the kids and did the same for Big Thunder Mountain. We rode Pirates of the Carribean three times and didn't wait at all. I don't plan on becoming a Disney family where we visit every year, but I can't wait to go back in another few years when my son can say, "I want to ride Dumbo again!"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Best Mom Tip #37: Get kid confidence

I have to apologize for my absence this week--my family and I have been at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. We had a great time even though we rode "It's a Small World" three times and I can't get the song out of my head. I fully intended to blog while I was there, but our Disney hotel charged 10 bucks for 24 hours of internet access and I couldn't bring myself to spend any more than I had to.

There are several blog-worthy items from this week, but I want to focus on one from the very start of our trip. As we were just beginning our drive my beautiful daughter said, "I'm glad I get to be with Mama and Daddy and my brother on our trip. And myself. I'm glad I get to be with me."

Little Princess has no self-doubt at this point. When we bought her a Sleeping Beauty nightgown that goes all the way to the floor, she danced around our hotel room wearing her new digs and her new mouse ears. She twirled in the mirror and admired her rainbow face paint from Epcot. She talked non-stop about everything that remotely caught her eye and it never occurred to her that we might not want to hear what she had to say.

Most of my friends and family would say that she inherited that last trait straight from me. Most of them don't know that at night, I ponder all of the stupid things I think I said during the day and wonder if people got bored with me. What happened to my kid confidence? It's in there, I know. I usually feel pretty confident, but I don't remember the last time I thought, "I'm glad I get to be with myself."

My daughter has taught me yet another valuable mom lesson. I AM glad I get to be with myself--I'm pretty interesting. I have entertaining thoughts and ideas that deserve to be admired even if I don't share them with others. Although several of them are currently set to some repetitive music...It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small, small, world....