Bat Shit Little Bat

Would it be wrong if the first thought I had, after seeing my girl in this pose, was to wonder "gee, I wonder how long she could stay like that and still get into the Ivy League"?

I'm asking purely out of curiosity, not because I actually had that thought or anything.

Definitely not.

But it definitely was awesome to have her voluntarily temporarily incapacitated. Even if it was only for a brief little snippet of time.

And she was INSANELY happy about being stuck upside down with her head wedged in a toy.

So what the hell, I went with it.

Because how often does a momma get a few moments with a toddler completely occupied, totally happy, and not destroying anything (other than perhaps a few brain cells)?

Fools Errand

Every so often, I make the mistake of taking the monkeys out alone to run errands.

It's always a mistake. Always.

Taking one or the other solo is a pleasure. Taking the two together with someone else to help wrangle them is fun.

Taking them both myself? Insanity. Plain and simple.

But what else would it be?

First, there are the perfect proportions of the average shopping cart. Just large enough to serve as a child-sized ThunderDome and make it difficult for me to intercede, yet not large enough to let them get away from each other.

So essentially, I am pushing a rolling toddler melee down the aisles of Lowes this morning while Bennett yanks great handfuls of Sterling's hair and she sinks her teeth into his fleshy little fingers every time I turn my head.

Then there is Sterling's nearly manic movement in and out of the shopping cart.

You might think that it would be easier to keep track of her when she is in the cart, but when you factor in such helpful tactics as her throwing out the items I have so carefully put IN the cart, and her being bored enough to strip when she wasn't chucking my stuff, that would be incorrect.

Although outside of the cart, there is the issue of her performing acrobatics on the cart itself, and doing military-style combat rolls under it as I try to nonchalantly stroll down the aisle.

No, quite frankly we are a rolling train wreck.

We get lots of laughs and comical comments from everyone around us, but so far no one has ever taken me up on my offer to trade places.

No amount of "yummy bar" treats, special toys or marketing our fun outings as opportunities to practice "sitting in the fun rolling cart" manage to make these errands exactly easy. Easier? Perhaps. But easy? Hell no!

Welcome To The Jungle, Baby!

Why is it that for so much of my parenting experience, I hear GNR's "Welcome to the jungle" playing in the back of my head, whereas when I watch my girlfriends' kids, I hear "Claire De Lune" playing instead?

It isn't just that I have two small kids, although that is definitely a large part of it. But many of them have two small kids as well.

But I think a large part of it is that my two small bodies are packed full of two incredibly large personalities, which equals two sets of opinions that are constantly being offended.

And in my house, we don't believe in suffering in silence. No, I don't have a single mellow gene in the group.

Not a single "go with the flow" moment in our day, which means that at all times, when I am making someone happy, I am simultaneously pissing someone else off.

Like when I am getting Sterling's milk? It means I am neglecting Ben's bottle. And he ain't about to take that kind of treatment lying down.

Or when I am changing a particularly heinous diaper for Bennett? That's the exact moment when Sterling MUST have an admiring entourage for the potty.

My kids are determined and demanding and constantly looking for opportunities to push my buttons... er... I mean, looking for new "learning opportunities".

This makes for a fascinating, exciting, fun life, but certainly not a relaxing one.

And sometimes a little relaxing sounds like a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I don't mean that I want to replace the soundtrack of our lives with classical music, but I wouldn't mind mixing things up every once in a while with a little easy listening.

Just a little.

Poached Pixie

Pardon the blurry photo, but this quickly shifted from "oh wow, that child is one crazy little spider monkey, let me grab a quick photo" to "oh crap, that crazy little spider monkey is trying to turn on the stove burner... WITH HER ON IT"!!!

But I am getting ahead of myself.

See, behind the stove is a sunken family room. It's a drop of several feet from the top of the kitchen divider wall to the sofa.

I always assumed that drop was large enough to prevent Sterling from climbing from the sofa to the counter.

I would be wrong.

Absolutely no idea how she did it, but when I turned around while preparing lunch today, there she was perched perkily on the counter like some happy little pixie.

I pulled out my handy iPhone to snag a few pictures. It usually takes me at least 20 to get one that is the right blend of not blurry, decent composition and tells the story I want. I settle. A lot.

No sooner had I snagged the first shot then I noticed her creeping stealthily forward and reaching for the stove knobs.

Now a less responsible mom (in case CPS is reading this) might have taken a few more shots knowing that I had only gotten two blurry ones so far, and that it took the stove several minutes to get really hot.

Not me though. Nope, I instantly put the camera down and took her off of the counter. See, good mom decision of the day right there.

Plus John was watching. So I kind of HAD to take the responsible route. But that was the decision I would have made anyway. Definitely. Totally. Probably.

Anyway, I like to think that the blur of this shot lends a certain realism to the moment, a certain urgency to the subject.

And if it doesn't, any critics are welcome to recreate the setup and perfect the photography with their kids ;-)

P.S. For the record, when Sterling saw this picture, she said "Sterling so naughty". So naughty indeed...

Rough Rider

Poor Sterling, this game seemed like a good idea when it started out. Any idea how hard it is to convince a 2.5 year old to voluntarily take turns???

Sadly, it ended like pretty much everything with Bennett ends right now. 

With hair pulling and tears...

Good times :-)

Whole Lotta Wuv

My kids sometimes blow me away.

Tonight, while I was perched on the side of the tub, waiting for Sterling to use the potty, she suddenly turned and threw her little arms around my neck.

Pulling me to her, she fervently whispered into my neck:

You my best friend in the WHOLE world mommy, I wuv you a WHOLE lot. Whole lot.

It was one of those beautifully perfect, spur of the moment gestures that was completely honest.

She wasn't trying to get anything out of me or manipulate me in any way.

All she was doing was sharing what was sincerely in her heart at that moment.

I don't know what the future holds for me and Ms. Sterling Rose. As hard as we butt heads sometimes, I am kind of terrified to see what the teen years bring.

But I hope at the heart at it all, she always remembers that no matter what, she is also one of my best friends, and I wuv her a whole lot, too.

Bathroom Bruiser

Any idea how a 2.5 year old cracks a toilet seat in half? Any? At all? Any?

And I'm not talking some big bruiser with a right arm that a semi-pro ball pitcher would be jealous of. No, I'm talking my little 23 pound pixie who still wears size 12 month skinny jeans.

See, Sterling decided to potty train herself a few weeks ago.

I erroneously thought that meant I would be on easy street.

I would be wrong. Very, very wrong.

Shocker, I know.

What it really meant is that any time she got bored, I became her potty buddy, which was pretty much every 20 minutes. Because she IS 2.5 and has the attention span of a fruit fly.

So being the enterprising soul that I am, I decided to teach her how to go on her own.

Makes sense, right?

She gets to go the potty whenever she wants. I don't have to spend half my life bent over the toilet with a toddler.

Yeah, I almost almost immediately saw the error of of my ways. Because somehow, in the three seconds she spent in the bathroom alone, homegirl put a hurtin' on it.

In addition to completely emptying the roll of toilet paper down the toilet and pumping hand soap all over the floor, she mustered up the strength of her ancestors and somehow managed to completely shatter the toilet seat down the middle.

Take a few moments to wrap your brain around that one.

I'm still working on it.

Banana Beatdown

Today, Bennett decided to exercise a little creativity in his freedom of expression.

With a banana.

And a goldfish cracker (look close, that puppy is perched perkily up there like a little chapeau).

And smooshed those babies ALL over the friggin place.

On a flippin preschool morning for crying out loud! Like I need any more obstacles to getting out the door. The morning after a bath.

Now I don't mean to say that like baths are a super rare occurrence in this house or anything.

But they kind of are.

Or at least they are rare enough that when baby boy decided to inaugurate the morning by smooshing banana all over his freaking adorable little noggin, I instantly switched into triage mode to salvage as much clean skin as possible.

Which wasn't much.

Absolutely no idea how he managed to get bananas smashed down, into his zipped jammies, past his diaper, under his balls, but my boy has skills.

Mad skills.

And as the photographic evidence shows, absolutely no remorse. Pretty confident that if he could speak, that last one would say "suck it"...

Opening The Door Of Opportunity

This morning Sterling discovered she could open her bedroom door.

Up until now, this door has been less a physical obstruction, and more of a mental one.

I knew it was purely a matter of time before S connected her ability to open every other door in her world, and the ability to open her bedroom door.

But I hoped that mental block lasted well into her late teens. Because I really needed the little nugget of peace every day that shutting her in her room provided.

Notice the past tense there.

The first time she got out this morning, she scared the ever loving crap out of John, apparitioning silently behind him as he was making breakfast and proudly announcing at the top of her toddler lungs "here I am, Daddy".

For a guy used to being alone in silent somnolence at 5:30 every morning, it was a *bit* of a surprise.

Then, at 7:30, I got the gentle wake up of a toddler finger being lovingly rammed up my nose.

S: Hehehehehehehe, I funny mommy.
Me: You aren't funny.
S: I trouble (said with the knowing twinkle in her eyes of a child who knows exactly how much trouble she is).
Me: I have no good response to that.
S: I wuv you momma, a WHOLE lot, whole lot.

She had me there.

And then when we got out into the hall, I discovered that homegirl had helpfully gone on a door locking tour while she was on the lam, locking every door along the way.

Good times.

Looks like we will be investing in some non-locking door handles AND a door knob blocker for her room.

Yes, I see the humor there.

And some more wine for mommy. And some anti anxiety meds for daddy ;-)

Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone

I learned last week that one of my closest friends is moving to Denver. When I heard the news, it felt like a physical blow to the gut. At first I went numb, and then I could actually feel the point of impact.

There are three of us that met two years ago when we were new moms, trying to navigate the unfamiliar waters of motherhood. We quickly became inseparable friends, bonding over the highs and lows of parenting.

We constantly talk either via text or in person throughout the day, and usually hang out several times a week. We swap baby supplies, maternity clothes and pretty much everything else.

We talk about the intimate, ugly details of everything in our lives. And I mean everything. Our sex lives, politics, family relationships, if its messy or uncomfortable, it's fair game.

We have a safe word, "Listen Bitch", a sacred totem that precedes anything we say to one another that could be interpreted as hurtful or painful. Listen Bitch is used indicate that what we are going to say will come from a genuinely kind and loving place, but may not be easy to hear. And we are asking the person to hear the message with an open heart.

Listen bitch has been used to deliver some incredibly tough messages over the years, but it's also been used to remind one another when we are being too hard on ourselves, which is often.

Usually it's as hard to deliver a Listen Bitch as it is to receive one.

We are like the three legs of a stool, the three strands of a braid. It only works when all three of us are engaged. When one of us goes quiet, the conversation goes flat. Discussions aren't as strong. Nothing flows quite as well.

And now that M is moving half a continent away, it feels like we are losing something critical. Without her face at play dates, her cooking at family brunches, her dry comments at girls night outs, things won't be the same.

And we already feel it. Our little triumvirate, which has always had remarkably little drama, is suddenly on shaky ground. There is all this extra friction right now.

We are a little bit brittle, a little less fluid, a little bit delicate with one another. We have moments of that old comfortable ease, and moments of this new uncomfortable friction and overall it's all part of this change process.

I don't think any of us really know how we are going to do it, but I know we will figure it out. I know we will be fine. We have weathered some pretty tough things together, and we will pull through this as well. It will just take us a little bit of adjusting. But it sucks to have to go through such a major shift with such a large physical distance impending.

Here's to creative girls weekends. With lots of laughs. And cabana boys. And alcohol as soon as I am off the heavy pain pills from my run in with the lovely lady in her car.

I wish you all the best M, I love you :-)

The Crayon Smuggler at The Voting Booth

I voted today. And while I am incredibly proud I did it and feel lucky to be able to do so, I think I would rather tie an angry honey badger to my face while jump roping with a hive of yellow jackets rather than take my kids and go solo again.*

You might recall that Sterling chose this week for potty training. And at this point we have it pretty nailed, but I still drop everything and rush like a pothead for a Taco Bell the moment she announces "momma, I pee potty".

Which she happened to do today right as we made it to the front of a 40 minute voting line. Twice.

And both times were friggin false alarms.

Both. Times.

Currently, she feels the need to be completely bare from the waist down to take care of business.

So each time, we dropped everything and rushed to the nearest bathroom, where I then spent roughly 10 minutes begging her to "pee potty" while she crawled around, on the floor, practicing her lion roar as she appreciated the bathroom acoustics and Ben did his best to reach the tampon box.

It was exactly as absurd and disgusting as it sounds.

And because we had to go back to the end of the line TWICE, you might think that waiting a total of 80 minutes would have made us good at waiting. It didn't. What it DID do was make us bored. And entertaining.

First, there was Sterling's insistence that anyone of any color at all was Obama. Including the two Asian ladies ahead of us in line. And I was stumped on how to explain the difference to her in terms that a two year old would both grasp AND be safe in repeating. Because she still didn't understand that we weren't boating.

Second, there was the damn concession stand selling damn donuts next to the damn line and I didn't have any damn money with me. And we had been waiting for damn EONS. Any idea how many times a toddler can repeat the word "donut"? Slightly less than they can offend people by calling them Obama. Slightly.

Third, when you are a toddler stuck in a line for long periods and your mom has no good explanation for why, the enterprising get creative and perform for the audience. It's impressive how many laughs you can get when you are cute and dance and sing in line.

Even more impressive when you do acrobatics off the back of your brother's stroller. And when you suddenly take off screaming "stinky poopy bud-dy, stinky poopy" down the hallway?

That gets the best responses of all. But when you are the mom of that entertaining little minx? Somehow it stops being quite so entertaining :/

And the icing on the cake is that when I took my shirt off tonight, I discovered a green crayon in my bra. Absolutely no idea how it got in there, but it raises questions that I really don't know if I am ready to ask.

Which is why next time I am taking a voting buddy. Or getting buzzed before I go. Not certain which, but maybe both...

* This is what is known as sarcasm. Not familiar with it? Buckle up baby.