Baldie Bashing

So evidently I am not the only one in the house that can't stand Caillou.

Every time Caillou comes on, Bennett immediately heads straight to the TV's electrical plug and yanks that puppy out of the wall with a flourish of triumph.

I'm not sure if he doesn't want any competition for "primary bald headed man in Sterling's life", or if Caillou's whining also gets on his nerves, but essentially our days go something like this:

Sterling whines, wheedles and cajoles until we finally get to the designated Caillou time.

I turn it on with the volume down as far as possible so I don't have to hear his whiny little soprano voice.

I spend the next few minutes furiously trying to keep Ben Ben occupied so that he doesn't jack with the TV.

At some point he evades me and races over to unplug the TV and cable box, at which point Sterling dissolves in high pitch screams and tears.

Imagine a pubescent girl at a Justin Bieber concert and you are close to the level of drama Caillou creates in our house.

I plug everything back in, and the cycle begins again.

Yep, good times.

Just one more reason for me to love Caillou...

Nap Time Naughty

Miss Sterling Rose is famous for her nap time antics.

I had (erroneously) hoped that in the last six months, she would have grown out of it a bit.

So, um, yeaaaaaah... I would be wrong.

All that has happened is that she has raised the bar on her game.

See, this was her new "Big Girl" room, complete with Big Girl bed, pictures on the walls like a Big Girl and a dresser without kiddie locks on the drawers.

May not seem like such a big deal, but it is. Her last bedroom was a bed and a dresser with kiddie locks on the drawers. That was it. The door even had a lock on the outside to keep the mayhem contained.

I had that puppy locked down like Alcatraz. Only without the freezing water around it, although I was considering a moat...

Anyway, going for a normal room was a big leap of faith. And if the state of her room after nap time today was any indication, a misplaced one.

She jacked with the pictures on the wall, took the drawer out of her bedside table, pulled the blinds off kilter, dumped clothes out of the drawer, even knocked the rocking horse over and threw a pillow on his face.

That will show the bastard to sit there, looking all smug with his fancy yarn hair.

At least that Tiffany bunny knew well enough to hide behind the antique box she threw haphazardly up on the dresser.

Looks like I need to go shopping for kiddie locks to put on the new dresser.

Or maybe just a pair of straight jacket sheets...

Naughty Pen To The Rescue!!!

That slightly out of focus but super cute little photo at the bottom? That is courtesy of the "Naughty Pen".

Perhaps you remember the Naughty Pen?

Its the small enclosure that was the only way I could make time out stick for Sterling.

Otherwise, time out was a constant battle of her jumping up and me putting her back in the same spot for timeout. Over. And over. And over.

Before the naughty pen, we tried to make Time Out a deterrent for weeks, but Sterling never lost her certainty that it was a game. Albeit a whack ass, bizarre one, but a game nonetheless.

And Bennett would crawl up my back and scream in my ear the entire time.

It was hell, pure and simple. With lots of tears and cursing and manic laughter.

And Sterling didn't enjoy it either.

But the Naughty Pen fixed all that. I just plunked her hiney in when she was bad, she hated being in it, and it reinforced that there were consequences to her actions.

When we moved to the new house, my parents kept their naughty pen.

Luckily, my amazing friend M happened to have one that she brought over.

I literally skipped across the yard when I saw it, I was THAT excited…

And it's kind of fascinating how just having the Naughty Pen in the room makes a dramatic difference in behavior.

Before the new Naughty Pen arrived, Sterling was fractious, whiny, and pushed the boundaries. I was frustrated, exhausted, and ready to trade her in on a different model.

But just having our comforting bastion of behavior enforcement sitting in the corner means that suddenly, Miss S remembers how to behave like a human and has been COMPLETELY different ever since.

Now I wont pretend she has been perfect, we definitely have days where she pretty much lives in the Naughty Pen while I question my choice to have kids.

But with the Naughty Pen in the room, we haven't had nearly as many tantrums, she is sharing with B, and he hasn't been hit, kicked, or pushed nearly as much. Except when he really deserves it. Like when he is breathing.

It's been almost peaceful... ish.

I wonder how many other world problems could be solved if we just had more Naughty Pens.

Nope, no need for a Peace Summit, just stick a Naughty Pen in the corner and suddenly everybody plays nice!

Man, I really owe it to the world to be in politics…

Questionable Parenting

I wish I knew who to credit with the photo below, but since I don't, I am simply going to credit it to "someone with an incredibly fabulous, dead-on sense of humor".

It pretty perfectly sums up my household.

Let me give you an example. This afternoon, I was singing the praises of my friend M who totally hooked me up.

No lie, I *might* have skipped across the yard when I saw that M had shown up and brought the holy of all holies with her... a brand new Naughty Pen!!!!

Why so excited you ask? Any freakin clue how hard it is to keep a toddler in time out while your other kid is crawling up your back?

Nearly impossible. Like harder than herding cats impossible. Like Momma ends up a hot, sweaty, grumpy mess afterwards kind of impossible. I mean pretty freakin difficult impossible.

So anyway, the idea of once again having a contained spot for time out is pretty beautiful.

John and I were chatting via FaceTime and I was literally glowing as I told him about the new Naughty Pen. I was that excited.

He looked at me confusedly, scratched his head, and asked why I didn't just use the closet under the stairs for Time Out.

Dead serious.

Now I know him well enough to believe that he was probably just kidding, but when I questioned the validity of his parenting suggestion, he said "it's not like I suggested leaving her in there with a pack of cigarettes".

Yeah, because adding cigarettes to the equation? THAT would be the poor parenting part of this discussion.

Just to be safe, this is why my husband will never be a Stay At Home Dad. Highly involved and super loving? Sure. But completely, solely responsible full-time? Don't See it happening.

But it's also probably why we understand each other so well...

Doors Stops Of Doom

Know what that right there is?

It's a naked door jamb. Yep, totally nude. Mark it down in your calendar, this is the first time I've done actual nudity on my blog. Lots of times I've come close, but this right here is the real deal.

Go big or go home, baby!

See, moving into a new house means lots of exploring of the new environment. And lots of new opportunities for mayhem.

Both Sterling and Bennett have discovered the joy of friendly, chewy, evidently tasty door stop caps.

And so they have spent the last week going from doorway to doorway, happily chewing off the caps.

Oh, and those caps? Yeah, they happen to be the perfect size for choking. Which means Momma has been frantically trying to pry them out of little mouths every three seconds.

Which has turned it into a twisted version of Hide And Seek for the little hellions.


Never a dull moment...

Titillating Tiffany Taunting

You have to love timing.

The night before my birthday, a huge box arrived with my name on it.

I opened it up, and inside there was the unmistakably vibrant, robin's egg blue of a Tiffany box.

I look at John in excitement, thinking it is my birthday gift... and the look on his face was comedic gold. A complex mix of bemusement and nausea, with a tinge of "oh shit" mixed in.

It looked remarkably similar to the face he makes when he loses the "ticking time bomb" game, which is what we play when one of us smells a suspect scent and tries not to be the one stuck changing a poopy baby butt.

Imagine a turtle race with whispered cheers of "where's mommy, go find mommy".

John rarely loses.

Anyway, I don't know if he was trying to remember what he had sent to me, or was wondering which of my boyfriends had beaten him in the birthday gift arena, but I would have given anything to have a photo of that expression.

It was that freakin awesome!

It turned out to be an INCREDIBLY gorgeous house warming gift, but I am tempted to send myself Tiffany goodies more often, purely for the entertainment value.

If his response was any indicator, he won't remember he didn't send it to me anyway.

Hell, a girl has to do what a girl has to do ;-)

THIS Is How The Mistress Celebrates

I sometimes think my life would cease to exist if it weren't for all the mayhem.

Like somehow I am a repository for extra mayhem, and therefore I serve a critical purpose in the world.

Case in point, today was my birthday.

All I really wanted for my birthday was a little bit of mellowness to relax and chill.

The day started off interestingly with an orthopedist appointment to figure out how the hell to get over the pain from being hit by a car a few weeks ago.

I have never been to the office before, so I simply went to the address listed on the website.

Super fun fact?

Evidently they have two offices. And I was at the wrong one. The receptionist helpfully explained to me that it happens all the time as she handed me pre-printed directions from a tall stack.

I would think that if this was a common occurrence, your office procedures *might* have some method to ensure new patients knew which one they were going to.

Evidently, I would be wrong.

So after my appointment with Dr. Freezing-Fish-Belly-Cold-Hands, getting my prescription, setting up appointments for physical therapy, and heading home, I was spending a little time trying to unpack our room while Sterling kept me company.

Less than five minutes after we began, Sterling released a piercing shriek of pain. I ran into the master bathroom, and she's standing in the middle of the room, shaking her left hand as huge splatters of blood flew everywhere.

I'm still not certain what she was playing with, but something sliced a deep, half inch divot out of the thumb that she sucks. That means that not only was she in pain and terrified of the blood, but couldn't suck her thumb to calm down.

You can imagine how that worked out.

This will hopefully be the only time you ever hear me say this, but thank god for Caillou. I was able to hold her in my lap and apply pressure while holding her hand above her head to stop the bleeding... all thanks to that creepy little whiny Canadian. And my iPad.

So now we are off to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Volt.

Because THAT my friends is how the Mistress Of Mayhem celebrates her birthday. A day of insanity followed by by an incredible dinner.

Oh yeah, and some wine ;-)

Dreams Of Death

I had a dream the other night where I died.

It was so incredibly vivid that when I woke up, it took me a while to figure out if it had actually happened.

In the dream, I was in a high rise building somewhere in Asia when an earthquake hit. I remembered the hot, dry smell of burning concrete, the taste of dust in my mouth, the screeching moan of metal as the building collaped around me.

I knew I was dying, and had time to send out thoughts of love to my kids, family and friends before it all crumpled around me. I knew the moment I died. I felt it come in a bright white flash of light and comforting warmth.

The thing that didn't occur to me until later was that even in the depths of my dream, I didn't feel fear.

I felt sadness over leaving my kids and regret that to wouldn't see them grow up, but I was also oddly at peace with the knowledge of my death.

It took me a little while to figure out why.

See, a few days ago was my birthday. Every year on my birthday, I like to take a bit of a State of the Union review. I look at my last year, see how things are going, take time to be thankful for the good, appreciate what I learned from the not so good, and set goals for the next year.

As I was doing that this year, I realized I have had an incredibly rich life.

It's not that I am done with life, or that I have finished everything on my master "to do" list... but Marky Mark and I are both married at this point so there are some that *might* go unfinished.

I guess the bigger point is that I am at peace with how much living I have fit into my life so far. I've had amazing adventures, travelled to incredible places and surrounded myself with wonderful people.

I love my life and the people I share it with and it truly has been a wonderful adventure. Whether I have one more moment, or a hundred more years left in this life, I'm doing my best to continue to fit as much living into it as possible.

And that is why I felt at peace. It wasn't that I was done with living, it was that I was grateful and comfortable with the living I have done so far.

It was a pretty cool realization to have. To realize that I am truly living my life rather than just existing.

Because isn't that what a life is for?

Turtle Power!

John meeting our newest neighbor.

Posting may have slowed down a bit while we move in to the new place, but this was too cute not to share :-)

Cute Little Bald Puppy

Can't decide whether to be proud or embarrassed that my 9-month-old rings the bells to go outside.

Just like the dogs...

Oatmeal? Oh No!

Know what that photo down at the bottom is? That is what happens when you try to feed a nine-month-old something that he's not really in the mood for.

Such as oatmeal.

He shotguns it right back at you with a scrunch faced snort of contempt.

Yep, evidently today was not oatmeal day in Bennett's world. But rather than politely decline it like his sister would, he took a bite, chewed it thoughtfully, then sprayed it all over me in a fine mist of moist mush. Repeatedly.


So by the end, I was covered in this lovely haze of white gunk. And so was he.

Know what's even less fun than a kid who doesn't want to eat his breakfast? Cleaning off said breakfast from the kid. Because since he was at the epicenter of the mess, he had a particularly heavy coating.

And we are talking about oatmeal. Which means I had to scrub a thick, gummy, incredibly sticky coating off of BOTH of us this morning.

While he screamed.

And the only thing harder than cleaning oatmeal? Cleaning oatmeal out of baby leg rolls while the baby tries valiantly to wriggle away from you.

Good times...

Are YOU Living Your Ideal Life?

It's 9/11.

Almost everyone remembers exactly where they were on this day 11 years ago, some even have touching or miraculous stories to go with the date.

But this post isn't about the actual day itself, or not directly.

Rather, it's about what you've done with your life since then. The 11 years of life that you have been given that those who died in 9/11 didn't get.

Have you made them memorable years?

Have you lived big and loved hard?

Have you done things that scared you, stepped outside your comfort zone, dreamed big and then acted upon those dreams?

Have you wrung every drop of living out of the 11 years you've been given?

Because these 11 years have been a gift. A gift that those who lost their lives that horrible day did not get.

You wake up every day to a fresh opportunity that they will never have again, the opportunity to be the best you that you possibly can.

The best lover, the best friend, the best parent, the best child, the best version of yourself that you can be.

Life isn't about being perfect, it's about finding out what makes you special, what makes you unique, and using those hidden talents to give back.

I love to write. I write this blog almost every day not because I feel obligated, but because something moves me, speaks through me, and I cannot help but write it down.

I look back at my last 11 years and I am so grateful for them. I repaired and grew some relationships, and chose to let others go.

I made incredible new friends, deepened the connection in my marriage, and had two incredible babies.

I've survived some phenomenal challenges and come through stronger because of them.

I moved twice (soon to be three times), changed careers three times, became the master of selling a business, and wrote two novels. All have been wonderful learning opportunities in my journey.

I travelled to Tahiti, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos in addition to lots of domestic locations, and loved exploring each of those places (even Detroit, it gave me some great stories).

Have I had a perfect life? No. But I have definitely fit a lot of living and love into the last 11 years.

My point is this: 11 years ago, no one knew it was their last morning as they got up and went about their day.

But few of us ever do.

All that is guaranteed is this moment, right now. So what dreams have you been deferring, what love have you been holding back, what relationships could you mend, what pain could you release, where in your life is there room to be a more perfect you?

Because you control this ride of yours, you decide what kind of life to have, how to have it, and the kind of people to share it with.

So if the last 11 years haven't been exactly what you want, there is no time like today to change that.

The Perfection Of Motherhood

As a mom, it's the little things that really get to you. The wonderful little perfect moments that turn the light on deep in your soul and make everything soft and luminescent.

The way your babies have a special smile just for you.

The way their little arms feel as they wrap them around your neck and hug as hard as they can.

That special sweet scent in the warm little creases of their neck.

The wonderful way the word "mama" sounds coming out of their sweet little mouths, especially when it's meant just for you.

Kissing little cheeks, little feet, and little hands, the most delicate substance on earth.

The way their lashes fall against their sweet little cheeks when they fall asleep in your lap.

The wonderful timbre of a deep baby belly laugh.

The quiet sigh as they breathe in and out while asleep.

The way they snuggle in against your body and just seem to melt.

The wonderfully plush, almost boneless squish of their arms and legs.

The way their soft little hair tickles against your lips as you stroke your face across the top of their head.

The deep, soulful way they look deep into your eyes.

How every little birthmark, little freckle, little cowlick is just further proof of how perfect your baby is.

Knowing that a tiny little piece of you, of your light and your joy and your soul, has been passed on into this wonderful, beautiful little flawless creature.

These, these are the things that make it all worth it...

Lunch of Champions

Yesterday was pediatrician day for the munchkins.

And in addition to learning that they were perfect in every way, we learned that although Sterling may have a full 5 inches on Bennett in height, she is less than 2 pounds ahead of him in weight.

See, Bennett is perfectly proportioned at about 80th percentile for both height and weight.

In comparison, Sterling is at 45th percentile for height, but 4th for weight.

This has been a growth curve we have seen for her throughout her whole life, and the doctor insists its healthy as long as she continues to grow, so it isn't a shocker.

But her diet does give some insight into this. Take, for example, exhibit A below.

I call this the "lunch of champions".

After attempting all morning to get her to eat something besides milk, she finally settled down at lunch to munch on a couple of whole-wheat crackers with some peanut butter on them. And by "munch", I mean that she scooped the peanut butter off with a spoon and ate that. Then wriggled like a mosquito larvae until we finished lunch and she could get up.

For comparison, Bennett mowed through a plate of 2 scrambled eggs and a veggie sausage patty for lunch.

They don't give you a percentile rating based upon activity levels, but I'm guessing that's because a 1-100 scale couldn't possibly capture the mayhem we have going on in this house.

So yeah, 4th percentile...

Moist and Meaty...

I am constantly surprised by what and how much Bennett will eat.

Having raised Sterling, the Human Fruit Fly Extraordinaire, it always surprises me at what will disappear down Ben's throat.

Sterling's defacto response any time I try to feed her something is to either refuse it outright, or to daintily touch it to the tip of her tongue and THEN refuse it.

Ben on the other hand rarely slows down long enough to taste what he is shoveling into his mouth. Honestly, it's kind of fascinating to watch.

Pop pop has a box of "Moist and Meaty" dog food that he keeps in the kitchen. It's a bunch of individually packaged baggies of dog food that happen to closely resemble cellophane wrapped bean bags.

Sterling loves to chuck them down the stairs and they make a satisfying thud when they land. Ben evidently has entirely different use in mind for them.

And I know, I know, kids eating dog food is nothing new.

It's just that I was fascinated not only by the teamwork to open said bags of dog food, but also by Ben Ben's fervent shoving of the dog food into his gaping maw as quickly as he could while his cheerleader squatted next to him and frantically whispered "EAT Ben Ben, eat".

Not sure if this a commentary on my culinary skills or a test of my patience, but homeboy seemed just as thrilled with his Moist and Meaty as he has been with anything I have made him so far.

Which kind of makes me wonder if maybe I have been overlooking a viable meal-time option.

What??? I'm joking, totally joking. Sorta. And besides, the dogs never complain...

Bad Planning Friday

I have to say, waiting to move into a new house is kind of like being pregnant. Or at least this move has been like that.

There was the initial excitement, the long wait, and now the final days of countdown until our stuff is delivered at the new place.

And we are getting super excited. But totally itchy and anxious at the same time.

It's been wonderful to hang with Nana and Pop pop for 6 months, but we are ready to get back to our usual routine.

Simple things like doctors appointments have become SIGNIFICANTLY more tricky with a 4 hour round trip commute. Which means I plan as much into a trip as possible.

Lemme give you a sense of what I mean. This was our schedule today:

5:00 a.m. Woke Up (yeah, you read that right, a.m.)
5:30 Woke babies up
6:00 Got on the road to DC
8:30 Sterling's old pediatrician for records
9:00 Met Sterling's preschool teacher
10:00 Bennett's Doctor Appointment
11:00 Sterling's Doctor Appointment
12:00 Visited Mall To Let Kids Run
1:30 Caraline's Doctor Appointment
3:15 John's Doctor Appointment
7:00 Got home

Oh yeah, and LOTS of driving and crying babies in the middle of that.

Which means we did everything we could to find opportunities to burn a little naughty off the monkeys.

Like let them practice their DJ skills on the car knobs while waiting for daddy to get out of his appointment.

Bennett had a tendency to vacillate between religious talk radio and death metal. Wonder of that is a commentary on his conflicted view of the world, or if his chubby little hands are just incredibly adept with the buttons and knobs of my car. Sterling was digging the Miley Cyrus, which is a whole issue in and of itself...

Do You Remember The First Time?

In parenthood, there are lots of firsts. First tooth, first haircut, first word, first time they throw their little arms around you and say "I wuv you Momma". But one of the most memorable firsts is the first step.

Sterling took her first step at 9 months, and everyone was impressed by how early she was. And Bennett would have beaten that... if I was willing to count it.

See, Bennett has been furiously chasing the walking dragon for weeks, pulling himself up on anything within reach. Furniture? Yep. The dog's tail? If she doesn't move fast enough, you betcha! His sister? Absolutely!

And Sterling has been practicing practicing potty training. Which means she is not really practicing potty training, but she LOVES to sit on the potty for long periods of time and pretend that she's practicing her potty training.

Any time I try to peel her little hiney from the seat, she indignantly proclaims "I goin' potty, Momma". Which entails looking through a magazine as she haughtily unspools the toilet paper.

Good times.

And Bennett LOVES to keep her company, because she is stuck in one place and can't run away.

So a few days shy of his nine month mark, Sterling was sitting on the potty, holding Ben Ben away with one foot while he stood and leered at her in glee.

After repeatedly trying to shake him off, she was finally able to liberate her foot. Usually, that means he lands on his butt, then begins the process all over. This time though, he stood there uncertainly for a few seconds, then casually strolled up to the bowl of the potty and grabbed hold of her leg again.

Yeah, she was pretty pissed.

So far, he hasn't conclusively walked again. There's been a step here and there, but nothing that I could truly claim as "walking".

And I kind of refuse for his first steps to be walking to the toilet to torment his sister. It just doesn't seem right.

So he needs to either come up with a better "first steps scenario", like running into a burning building to rescue a puppy, or I need to make something up.

I'm open to suggestions...