Child Labor Or Smart Parenting?

Yesterday Sterling and her daddy had a differing of opinions.

Sterling felt it was a cool to throw her macaroni and cheese all over the place in a fit of temper. Daddy disagreed with her assessment of just how "cool" it was. Homeboy came pretty close to losing his shit, and that takes a LOT.

So I was impressed when he dialed things down a notch and rather than banishing her to her room or punting her little hiney out the back door (both valid options in my opinion), he decided to make her clean it all up.

And clean she did.

First she picked up every piece of macaroni and happily piled them all back on a plate.

Then I gave her a wet rag to wipe the floor up with, and this is when the cleaning shifted into high gear.

First, she scrubbed all around the floor of where she had been sitting. And I do mean ALL around. I don't think the floor has been this clean since we moved in.

Next she scrubbed down the chairs and the underside of the table. I don't think the finial under the table has EVER been washed, but it was yesterday.

Then she decided to scrub under Bennett's highchair. Which was a pretty freakin awesome choice because homeboy regularly splatters that area with insane amounts crap.

Her final step was to give Bennett himself a thorough scrub down. Thankfully I had a clean rag handy and was able to trade out the one she had been using to scrub the floor.

But he was about exactly as appreciative as you would expect a toddler boy to be when he is having his face forcefully scrubbed by his sister.

I was thoroughly impressed with how determined and detail oriented she was with the cleaning. At this rate, she might be ready to replace our cleaning lady within a few weeks.

And just in case CPS happens to read this post, it was all voluntary. Well, after the initial picking up of the macaroni.

But I don't think it is considered child labor if its done by choice. And it's totally cool if she polishes shoes as long it's voluntary and we aren't withholding food or anything to force her to do it, right???

I ask that last question for a friend, not because I am going to start having my almost 3 year old start polishing shoes or anything. Even if her tiny little hands would be perfect for getting into the nooks and crannies of daddy's shoes...

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The Most Miserable Game In The World

So right now Ben is 2 feet away from me, screaming in my face. He's been doing this for about 15 minutes now.

We have a new fun game at our house.

In this game, B climbs the top of the steamer trunk, and stands up there screaming until I get him down.

Which is awesome and all, except he's been getting himself off of that trunk for several months now, so it's not an issue of his inability to get himself down, it's purely a game to bend me to his will.

And for a while there, I was willing to play along. Because I have the mother of all headaches and it was better to peel him off than listen to him scream. But I'm bored of the game, so today the monkey can stay up there until he gets sick of it and climbs down.

*Note: It took us about 35 minutes before one of us, him, caved in disgust. He climbed off that thing like a disgruntled little chimpanzee, throwing baleful glares over his shoulder at me every few seconds. I feel bad, totally do. Oh no, wait, that's not it. I feel relieved that this game is done. Yep, definitely relieved.

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Bed Slide Beastie

Last night after I put Sterling to bed, I heard her yelling "WHEEEEEEEE, fun!" at the top of her lungs. Like any good spoilsport parent, I went in to investigate.

I cautiously snuck up to her room and oh so slowly eased the door open. This is what I found.

Evidently, she had popped the slats out from under her bed yet AGAIN, removed all her bedclothes, and then pushed the matress up enough to make it into an incline.

When I asked what she was doing, she jumped about a mile, then smiled big at me and brightly responded "I make slide Momma. It FUN! You wanna try it?"

Uh, sure kid. Looks like a safe choice for both of us.

After about 40 minutes of me grunting, groaning, and straining to put the bed back together while I lectured her on the bad choice of jacking with her bed, I finally had it fixed. I scraped my knuckles up in the process though and was pretty irritated.

So taking a stand for all that is holy in the world of parenting, I decided that there was no way in hell I was going to make her bed again and explained that her punishment for messing the bed up was making it herself. She happily complied.

It wasn't nearly the punishment I had hoped for it to be.

As I shut the door to leave her for the night, I reiterated my stance on the whole bed/slide situation. I said "Sterling, it makes Momma very angry when you mess with your bed like that. No more bed slides, right?"

She cheerfully responded "OK Momma. No more bed slide... tonight."

Pretty sure I won that round. And by pretty sure, I mean not a chance in hell.

In case you are keeping score, it is:

     Toddler: 1,254,355,345
     Momma: .03

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Haircut Horror

Today Bennett had his first haircut.

Think you've had an awful haircut? Then I've got a story for you, my friend.

See, I had gotten tired of all the "mullet" jokes, and B's hair had officially reached the length where I could braid and put beads in it. Not that I had done that. Not once. Even if it did give him a rakish "professor that you smoke pot with" kind of look.

In theory.

Anyway, after talking with girlfriends who cut their kids' hair, and reading a few online resources, it seemed super easy.

Or at least easier than taking two toddlers to a salon and wrangling them while some poor stylist tried to cut his hair.

Over the weekend I had tried to convince his daddy to take him to a place that specializes in kid's cuts. But John felt that hair was something best left up to a mommy's discretion, and it seemed like more effort than it was worth.

So thus, today I whipped out my handy haircutting scissors and decided to give it a go.

I mean, how hard could it be?

I flipped the TV on and put on some nauseatingly annoying children's show, gave B a pile of enticing snacks, and wet his hair down.

The back came out okay, slightly less crooked than a politician. Which means its far from ideal, but he was not nearly as patient as those online resources would lead you to believe. Big shocker, I know.

The final step they advised was trimming around his ears to give it a "clean look". And this lead us to the mayhem of the day.

I had cut around about 75% of his right ear, and was getting ready to finish it up when he suddenly jerked his head towards me.

Of course I was in mid cut, and somehow managed to take a nice chunk out of the top of his ear in one fell swoop.

He screamed loudly, it bled profusely. Everyone was miserable with the outcome.

After that, there was no way in hell I was going to try trimming around the other ear. Primarily because I was scared shitless of cutting him again, but also because he jumped about a mile every time he saw the scissors.

Which means, I now have a baby boy with one ear neatly trimmed around (mostly), the other ear hidden behind a screen of hair, and the back a good bit crooked.

Oh yeah, and a baby who closely resembles Vincent van Gogh.

If I wasn't P.O.T.Y. (Parent Of The Year) before, I definitely am now...

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Good Grief...

You ever have one of those days were everything makes you want to cry?

Sterling is having one of those today. Only instead of just wanting to cry, she's actually crying.

She cried when at breakfast, she asked for the big kid bowl. So I gave her the big kid bowl. Then she cried for Bennett's little bowl. So I traded bowls. At which point in time she cried for the big kid bowl again.

She cried when she pinched her own finger in the edge of her sun glasses. She cried harder when she threw those glasses across the room, and they didn't stand up and walk back to her.

She cried after Bennett put his finger in her mouth, she bit it, and then he cried.

She cried because she didn't like the way I was doing the voices when I read a book to her.

She cried because she couldn't fit all the toys that she wanted to into her purse.

She cried when she hit me and I put her purse in timeout.

She cried when she want to hear the ABC song, so I put the ABC song on the radio, but it wasn't the version that she wanted to hear.

Holy hell did she cry at lunch when she wanted the pink spoon, I gave her the pink spoon, and then she realized it wasn't the blue spoon.

And when I tried to get a picture of all this crying? That's when she melted down, which is why I only have this single blurry photo of her crying.

When she went down for nap she cried because she wanted the butterfly jammies, which this morning she dumped her cereal down the front of in a fit of crying.

I'm just hoping she wakes up from nap a totally different animal. Because otherwise, there's gonna be three of us crying...

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Angry Little Gargoyle

Yesterday, Bennett woke up on the wrong side of the crib. From the moment he got out of bed, he was livid with the world.

He cried through snack, he cried through clean up, and he cried as I took his sister into the family room and changed her out of her jammies. So when there was a shift in the screaming, I somehow missed it.

Indeed, it wasn't until I walked back into the kitchen and found this that I realized that his screaming had taken on a nearly apoplectic pitch.

Somehow, while I was distracted he managed to unhook his seatbelt, climbed out of his seat, and scrambled up onto the tray of his high chair.

And there he perched, like a pissed off little gargoyle, screaming at me in fury.

I'm not sure whether I should be impressed by how nimble he is, or terrified because so far, he has beaten his sister in coordination and sheer orneriness already at this age...

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Splinters Evidently Aren't A Deterrent

So yeah, this picture? This is when I went to get Sterling up from bed this morning.

Directly behind her is one of her wooden bed slats. Leaning conveniently in the doorway are two others that I've collected in the last 24 hours.

This is hardly the first time Sterling has jacked with the slats of her bed.

And likely it won't be the last.

But it seems now that we have removed EVERY piece of furniture from her room except for her bed, she is hell bent on getting that puppy apart.

One. Piece. At. A. Time.

Every single nap time, every single bed time, every single time she spends more than three seconds alone in that room, she takes the slats out.

Which is impressive because I have put those damn slats back in enough times now that I know how freakin hard it is to move them.

I'm STILL not certain how the hell she is getting them out, but I've removed enough splinters from her hands and feet lately that I'm pretty confident it takes a fair amount of effort.

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Goth Baby Mayhem

Today I took the monkeys to the botanical gardens to play. We met up with friends, walked for several hours, good times were had by all. And by good times, I mean no one fell until a water fountain or accidentally got maimed in any way.

We were all redfaced and tired at the end of the walk, so it was a success in my book.

At the end of our walk, my friend L and I were in the middle of a important discussion and so we decided to stand in the parking lot and talk little bit more. Our two girls climbed into my car to play.

I made the mistake of thinking "how much trouble could they really get into while we are standing here"... also known as the stupidest assumption in the world.

After a few minutes, my girlfriend L happened to notice that Sterling was covered in some kind of black goo. I still have absolutely no clue what it was, but I do know it was damn hard to get off of both her and the inside of my car.

She had it on her lips, her hands, her arms, her shirt, and when I undressed her for nap, I discovered it was all over her stomach and legs. She looked like the world's youngest Emo/Punk baby.

Then, as I continued to unpack Bennett and the multitudes of crap from our simple outing, Sterling happened to find one of my protein bars and bit through the packaging to get to its gooey, melty goodness.

And spread that bastard EVERYWHERE.

The interior of my car is black so it wasn't until I really started looking that I discovered how much chocolate she had managed to smear. It was a total chocolate wreck.

When I turned the car on, my windshield wipers started flapping frantically and I realized that perhaps the girls played with a few buttons. And as I was driving home, I kept noticing little fun things like that my high beams were on, or that my seat settings were off, or that my radio presets were jacked.

Luckily, I already drink heavily. Because otherwise, this would have driven me to...

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Sitter Shakedown

So the other night, my girl worked our sitter over like a cheap pony. I don't know what that means exactly, but she worked her, just the same.

Lets start at the beginning.

We used a new sitter, the daughter of a Brazilian diplomat (only in DC). She was polished, professional, and personable.

I gave some simple directions for putting the kids down to sleep and left them in her capable hands.

When we got home, she raved about how "polite and well mannered" they were, which left me wondering if perhaps she had been dabbling in recreational drugs.

She left, and then the truth started to emerge.

Our first hint that Sterling had worked her mojo came when we turned the TV on. It was tuned to a children's channel.

We haven't forbidden TV, Sterling just knows I won't turn it on for her. So the moment we leave the house, the little monkey evidently pulled a few strings and got her Caillou fix in.

Then, we started looking around for Sterling's milk sippy cup so we could run it through the the dishwasher. It wasn't anywhere to be found. We searched the kitchen, the dining room, every little crevice and cranny we could think of. And then J suggested we look in Sterling's room.

Want to guess what we found clasped tightly in her grubby little hands? Yep, her milky. Which is another thing that is totally off limits due to the amount of mayhem she gets into while she is alone I there. So once again, homegirl took advantage of a new sitter to bend the rules.

Then J noticed that the new milk jug in the fridge hadn't been opened. We were curious because both kids had milk with dinner. The answer came when we realized that the half and half was 3/4 of the way empty.

Sterling is always fascinated when I get the half and half bottle out for coffee and asks for it in her cup too. So I am guessing that homegirl helpfully pointed the new sitter to the taboo bottle. And since all of our dairy comes in glass bottles that aren't well marked, the poor sitter never had a chance.

And then when I checked the cookie tub, I saw that puppy had taken a beating. Now I don't have any good explanation for that one, but considering how helpful my daughter likely was at this point, I'm sure she finagled her way through the cookies with equal finesse.

So yes, evidently if you let my kids watch TV, give them cookies and amazingly creamy milk, they are well behaved.

Huh, why haven't I done this earlier???

But the kids loved her, so the rest is just collateral.

Then, the sitter sent me this message, "Thank you for the opportunity of babysitting your kids yesterday, they are wonderful children! Hope we work together again in the future :)"

Seriously, I think I may be a little in love with this sitter, even if my kid DID pull the wool over her eyes...

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Nothing Like A Little Nudity In The Morning

Sterling's nudity is something that I've had to contend with since she was little.

One of her long time favorite activities has been to contort herself in whatever manner necessary to shimmy out of her jammies. The poopier the diaper, the higher the chances were that she would strip.

It's still a crapshoot when I go in to get her up whether or not she will be naked. And now that the only thing in her room is a bed, she has nothing better to do. Which means she's been getting especially creative when it comes to stripping.

Good times.

But she was a bit older than Bennett before she made her first appearance as Lady Godiva.

Which is why, when I went in to get him up this morning and found a stark raving naked boy waiting for me, I was a bit surprised. And not in the "oh my, what is Joe Manganiello doing in my bed" kind of surprised. Because that would be the awesome kind of surprise. No, this was the "oh crap, what has he peed on and how do I clean it up with two hungry, naked kids running around me like little pygmy cannibals" kind of surprise. Much less jumping up and down and clapping my hands, I promise you.

So this means that we now have two little beasties in backwards jammies. As if one little beastie in backwards jammies wasn't enough.

And I'm pretty confident that there isn't enough wine in the world to last me until these two are grown...

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Cherry Blossom Chaos

Yesterday we went down to see the cherry blossoms in DC.

Outings like this make me remember all over again why I am so in love with this city.

Sun sparkled gloriously off of the water, balmy winds blew off of the tidal basin to keep us comfortably refreshed, and it was the perfect day to laze with a group of friends under the dazzlingly white-pink cherry blossoms and love life.

Unless you are my kids.

In which case, it was the perfect day to run haphazardly through throngs of strangers and try to find a new mommy.

The great thing about having two kids? They run in two different directions.

While my girlfriends' kids were content to chill peacefully and munch on snacks, mine careened madly through the crowds like toddlers on cherry blossom crack.

And the several foot drop from the edge of the tidal basin down to the water? My kids saw this as an incredibly enticing launch pad and me as the crappy spoilsport every time I snagged their flailing little bodies inches from the edge.

Sterling happened to see a bottle floating languidly in the water at one point, and helpfully piped up "Don't worry momma, I get it". Uh yeah, THAT would be great. Because it would then require me to jump the 4 feet down to rescue your drowning little body.

Thanks anyway!

Bennett found a new mom breast feeding her infant and squatted down to ogle in fascination. The mom was indulgently patient, but homeboy was more than a little fascinated. And to be fair, I wasn't entirely certain he wasn't looking for an appropriate moment to horn in on snack time.

It was a beautiful day, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but it was ANYTHING but relaxing ;-)

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Bug Boy

You may not realize that there is a new solution to car care, but we have developed an alternative method for removing bug guts.

What is it, you ask?

Why it's simple, it's a toddler boy!

See, I noticed the other day that Bennett was spending a lot of time inspecting the front of John's car. I was too busy chasing his sister to spend much time focusing on what he was up to, but when I did, I discovered something interesting.

Evidently, he had contentedly been going from bug to bug, and sucking them off of the front of the car.

And when I peeled him away from John's car, the tantrum was prolific. That was, until he discovered eating mulch.

My boy certainly appreciates the finer things in life…

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It's Official, I Do Not Have A Future In Stripping

This right here?

Oh, it's not much. This is just the way a toddler boy voices his displeasure.

Why is he so displeased, you might be wondering?

The reason is simple.

For some absurd reason, I was not appreciative of him pulling the back of my pants open, and shoving Cheerios down as far as possible.

Forget that I was trying to change his sister out of her jammies when he chose to show his appreciation for my attire choices.

I know, I'm an absurdly unenlightened spoilsport. And a meanie to boot.

Because I not only removed myself from his grasping distance, but I also refused to return the Cheerios he had shoved into the crack of my ass.

Clearly, I do NOT have a future in pole dancing if I overreact so egregiously every time someone gets a little handsy.


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Gentle... Gentle... Ah Screw It, Go Ahead And Kill One Another

Trying to teach a toddler boy the meaning of "be gentle" is an exercise in futility. Its about as exasperating as digging a hole in sand along the surf line. And equally as useless.

No matter HOW many times I repeat my mantra of "gentle Ben, gentle, be nice", I get that ornery little smile... right before he does the opposite of what I'm asking.

And rather than curb Bennett's ornery ways, Sterling is starting to duplicate them.

About 2 years ago I broke her of biting, hair pulling, and hitting. But the awesome part is that she is now meeting him bite for bite. And today I caught her with a handful of his hair, maniacal gleam of satisfaction in her eyes, yelling "We OK mom, we OK!"

Uh, sure you are kid. Except for the huge bald spot on the side of your brother's head now, and the fact that he's screaming bloody murder.

Not that he didn't deserve it, but still, as a mom I feel like I'm under some obligation to stop such antics.

Or at least not snicker under my breath that he's getting fair return on his investment. 

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Rachel Zoe Better Watch Her Back...

I'm going to preface this with saying please excuse the lack of makeup. Or a shower. Eh, whatever. I hadn't planned to make this a blog post, but I loved how much fun Sterling had with it, so there you go.

See, my girl LOVES sunglasses, and we just got a new pair. In our house, new sunglasses equals a whole new attitude.

Something about this pair with its swirly opalescent frames and tiny rhinestones brought out her inner Rachel Zoe.

All day she's been having fun playing stylist.

She brings them over, perches them perkily on my face, adjusts them, readjusts them, and then re-readjusts them.

Sometimes she sits back in satisfaction and says "Ooooh momma, you so fancy. It's beauuuuutiful".

And sometimes, she's not exactly pleased the results.

But no matter what, she is having a blast with playing dress up. And that's pretty awesome. It makes me kind of desperate to capture moments like this, because at some point, she will have absolutely no desire whatsoever to dress me up. Or even be in the same room with me.

So in the meantime, I am enjoying my little stylist. Even if she is a little overly "hands on" with her styling. I'm pretty sure my eyebrows will grow back. Eventually...

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Stinky Little Brother

I do love reading with my girl. But we do it a LOT. So to keep things interesting, I always mix it up a little by asking her questions about whatever it is we are reading.

Today, we were reading this book together and she had several interesting observations.

First she pointed to the little squirrel and said: That's me!
I responded: It is? How do you know?
Her answer was telling: Because I so little!

Valid point.

So in curiosity, I said: Which one is me?
She thought for a moment, then pointed to the bunny.
I wasn't certain why she had picked that one, so I asked: That bunny is cute. But why is it me?
She scrunched up her nose, and squealed out: Because you holding my hand, silly! Oh, good point. Then she continued on: Know which one is Ben Ben?
I was really curious now, thinking she would probably point to the fox: Which one is Bennett?
She immediately pointed to the skunk: This one, this one right here is Ben Ben.
Me: OK. Why is that one Bennett?
Sterling: Because he so STINKY.

Fair enough. I can't argue with that logic.

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