Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In Praise of Recess

"I hope you like sleeping on the top bunk," a friend said when she heard about the bunk bed endeavor.  And while it hasn't been as bad the last few nights, I have been sleeping on the floor until they both fall asleep. 

But it's improving!  And that is what counts.  I think it is partly because school plum tuckers them out.  Kelly got up this morning grumbling that she didn't want to go to school today.  Lucky for us, it was not an "I miss my daycare friends" tirade.  It was simply, "school makes me TI-RED, Mommy!"
I'm glad school makes them tired.  We are very lucky to have a school that recognizes that kids can't sit in chairs all day.  My girls get more outside time during the school week than they do on the weekends.  I don't relish the filthy (and I mean FILTHY) clothes/shoes/hands when I pick them up.  And the bruises down Alyson's legs through the years have made me wonder if she will forever be a mild purple.  But, they've got it right. 

I am the pot calling the kettle "black" when I say we have too many devices.  I love my devices.  Just try taking one of mine away.  I dare you.  And I am well aware that given my own proclivities, my kids have more devices than average.  I am not about to give mine up.  And I am not asking them to give theirs up.  But as "the mom," I can try and teach moderation. 

Jeff and I both need to practice a little more before we can preach though.  ;)  I remember my teenage sister sitting across the table at dinner with her headphones in and thinking to myself, "I won't allow *my* kids to do that."  But how tempting is it to give in when you know that a handheld game at the restaurant means ten minutes of grown-up conversation and no tantrums?  Or that handing over your iPhone while you wait for the doctor means the chatter will cease.

So I guess now you can add this to the posts that say technology is a blessing and a curse, and as with all things, needs moderation.  I'd rather just sing a song of praise for recess.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bunk Beds: Night 1

If I try to count how many times Alyson arrived at the foot of our bed crying and whimpering, or how many times Kelly sidled up to the side of my bed to tattle about something last night, well, I lose track. I assure you, the combination was in excess of 10, probably closer to 20.

I ordered the bunk beds last week, against Jeff's better judgment and numerous naysayers. But a desperate (read: tired) mother does desperate things. The delivery estimate was Thursday, but they arrived yesterday. Because of the earthquake, I left work early, gathered my children, and got home in time to get them put together.

When bedtime came, everyone was excited. But they were also overtired. I tucked them in, said prayers, performed all of Kelly's necessary rituals (big hug, little hug, kiss on her left cheek, kiss on her right cheek, kiss on the lips, kiss on my right cheek, kiss on my left cheek, kiss on my hand, blow kisses, and say "Goodnight Princess, I love you" -- and start over if it's not right -- OCD? in our family? p'shaw!), and turned out the light.

That started it. Alyson begged to keep the lamp on. I relented. And the door was open. AND they could see my feet if I was laying on my bed.

So Alyson starts to grill me about how often I am going to check on them and when I will be in my bed. Then some bickering. And then I hear Kelly say, "I have to tell you some good news and some bad news. The good news is that we go to Temple tomorrow! Yay! The bad news is that monsters...." And that is all I heard when Alyson's wailing started.

In no time, Alyson was beside my bed saying Kelly was scaring her.

Console. Walk back to bed. Tell Kelly to quiet down. Try again.

That opened the floodgates for Alyson.

There was yelling. There was hugging. There was crying. And there was a LOT of walking back and tucking in. In the end, Alyson's punishment was not being allowed to sleep on the couch, and Kelly won't be having strawberry milk today.

The upside is that they started the night and finished the morning in the bunk beds. This will take time, obviously. Jeff is certain it was a waste of money. I am still hopeful.

At a minimum, we got a good laugh when Kelly, in her exasperated 3 year old voice, said to Alyson, "Stop being a mope-apotamos!"

Don't eat your tutu.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Interloper

Not. Going. Well.  The bedtime battles continue.  Kelly is now inexplicably scared (copying big sissy, I'm guessing) and Alyson was in our bed again last night - after me laying in her bed until she fell asleep, and me tucking her in on the couch at midnight when she just couldn't handle her room anymore.

It isn't easy surfing for bunk beds on an iPhone through blurry eyes with feet in your back.  But that is where I found myself this morning.

Genetics, tradition, phase or not, this has to stop.  We spent 3 1/2 years struggling with Kelly's sleep issues.  And now that she is (by and large) sleeping in her own bed alone, I am ill-prepared for this from Alyson. 

My MIL is convinced it is the hamster, a new addition at the end of last school year.  Buddy (or "Smoothie" if you subscribe to the name-of-the-week club) makes a little noise, but Alyson seemed to tolerate it very well.  And Alyson claims she knows the noises he makes and isn't worried about that.

I'm quite fond of my Couch Theory, but in all honesty, I don't think it holds much water. 

The most logical explanation for this is general anxiety.  Summer is ending.  School is beginning.  Little Sister will be in the same school.  Girl Scouts is around the corner.  In short, it is a season of change.  And any daughter of Jeff's does NOT like change.  ;) 

My aching back and I want bunk beds so that the girls have each other.  Many siblings I know grew up in the same bed, at least for awhile.  But I don't want to hear, "Kelly, SHUT UP!" from the next room.  or worse, "Ha ha!  The trolls will eat YOU first because YOU have the bottom bunk!"

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Call of the Couch

One of my fondest memories is being at my grandparents house and being asked to go wake up my Grandpa for dinner.  (Okay, the FONDEST memory is findng a Three Musketeers bar he had hidden in the freezer and sharing it - but I digress.)  I would sneak into the living room, come as close to his ear as possible and scream "Grandpa!" as loud as I could.  Now, I'm pretty sure Gramps didn't like it much, but he never complained.  I always wondered why Grandpa slept on the couch, even at night.  My mother or grandmother told me it was because the stairs were hard for him to get up and down.  My preschool brain accepted that, but now I have some suspicions.

Lately, the eight year old has been balking at bedtime. Not begging to stay up, but saying she is too scared to go to sleep.  We have tried a full inspection for other-worldy beasties.  We have tried analyzing every shadow in the room.  We have tried leaving (too many) lights on.  We have tried reasoning that with parents, locks, and an alarm system (not to mention weaponry) the chances of anything hurting her is nill.  We have even debated the chances of any other person or pet in the house attacking her in her sleep.  (She thought the cat and her three year old sister were the biggest threats.)  And we have tried incentives: 

"If you sleep all night in your own bed, you get a quarter.  At the end of the week, whoever has the most quarters gets an extra quarter!"
Kelly:  "Yay!!"
Alyson:  "I don't need money."

And for the good-parent record, we have on occasion let her sleep in our bed when she was scared, we have walked her back to her bed over and over, and we have laid in her room with her until she falls asleep.

All of this has resulted in two potential outcomes.  Alyson either gets up and cries at the foot of our bed in the middle of the night, or Alyson goes to sleep on the couch.

Now, I'm no stranger to the couch.  I love my couch.  It's cozy.  It's convenient.  And it beckons me at the end of almost everyday.  But I'm not a couch potato.  The couch is best when the TV is off.  There are nights I fall alseep on the couch and have to be badgered back to a real bed.  And there are other nights that the comfort of the couch, with my dog beside me and my favorite quilt, trumps anything the king-sized has to offer.

And for the curious, of the nights that Alyson has chosen the couch (or actually the loveseat), I have only been on the couch next to her twice.

So last night, as I lay on the couch with my dog beside me and under one of my favorite blankets with my adorable sleeping Alyson nearby, I got to thinking.  Maybe this sofa-psychosis is not just random.  Maybe it wasn't the stairs that made Grandpa sleep on the couch.  Maybe, just maybe, this is a rare genetic trait passed on from generation to generation.  And now it's manifesting early in Alyson!

Or maybe it is a tradition.  An unconscious affinity for the couch based on the good memories of my childhood?  (Right about now, Jeff is thinking Only my wife could turn sleeping into a tradition.")

Or maybe those with Donohue blood in their veins are just great sofa-choosers!  Do we pick the coziest couches?  Is there a career in this somewhere?  "Let Jennelstiltskin Choose Your Next Sofa"

Whatever the reason behind it, I hope Alyson snaps out of it soon.  She has a great room and a comfy bed.  And I'm pretty sure the cat misses assaulting her in the night.

(Note to DSS: The cat is a declawed, 7 pound, bundle of love. Honest.)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Laugh Over Spilled Milk

Today I thought it would be fun to take the girls to the official Girl Scout store in Roanoke.  That is about 90 minutes away from our house, but I figured that while we were in the neighborhood we could go to the Science Museum of Southwestern Virginia.  (Let me just start by saying that there is a reason I have not hyperlinked that for you.)

I call the GS Shop - open 10-4 on Saturdays.  I call the Museum - will it amuse a 3 year old ("Oh yes!).  So, the 8 year old, the 3 year old, Grandma Pat and I set off for Roanoke.  I put the GS Shop address into my GPS and we're off!

Halfway there I realize If I don't feed everyone before we hit Roanoke, they will be totally unruly.  So we stop at McDonald's.  This turns out to be the most crowded McDonald's this side of the Mason-Dixon.  Jeff would have shot himself in the head rather than get his meal there.  But since it's me and Grandma, I figure we can handle it.  I'm right, but before we're done, Alyson (yes, the 8 year old) spills her milk all over the booth, the floor, and [sigh] her sister.  It wouldn't have been so bad if she had a speedy bone in her body or maybe an innate sense that when something is spilled it must be cleaned up.  But no. 

Once we exit McDonald's, Alyson proudly proclaims that she has a chocolate milk pattern on her leg. 

Onward we proceed, following the Honda GPS faithfully, and wondering why it has seen fit to bring us through a rather seedy area, and questioning how the GS could maintain a headquarters and store in such a place. 

That's when we passed the lovely target on the map. 

That's when I wondered Did I put the address in right?

And that's when Kelly said, "I'm going to throw up."

"Okay honey, let me find a place to pull over.  Just a minute sweetheart.  No, Aly, we didn't pass the store.  No, this is not the right place.  Just a second, we'll stop and let Kelly get some fresh air.  I can check the map."  Car in Park, exit driver side, walk to rear passenger side, open door and....

Out it came...unbuckle...more...start to lift out...more...decide against...remove sneakers...console...tell Aly to fetch the "Yack Bag"...more..."Is that all, honey?"...more...lose all hope of saving clothes...more...realize we didn't bring extra clothes...admit such to Grandma...done.

Strip the child, break open the Yack Bag, clean the child, sanitize the child, pass panty-clad child to Grandma.  Clean car, contain car seat, contain clothes, and wonder two things:  where is the nearest Wal-Mart, and will I get a lovely summons from Roanoke's finest for having my 3 year old mostly naked and out of her car seat.  Decide that Kelly is getting a GS shirt and the cop will have to see the evidence (and inhale) before I will accept the summons.

Deep breath.

So, the GPS only showed me the road SW, and the GS Shop is on the road NW.  Not a big deal.  We will turn around and all will be well soon.  We trundle along, the neighborhood gradually gets less troublesome and ta-da!  There is the GS Shop.  We pull in and Grandma says, "Are you sure they're open?"  Of course I am.  I didn't trust the internet.  I CALLED.  The recording clearly said they were open 10-4 today.  We park and see the 8 1/2 x 11 paper on the door. 


This was one of those moments where you have to laugh or you will cry. 

From there we headed to the mall so Grandma could get something, we could get some clothes for poor naked Kelly, and we could cheer up the girls with the Science Museum.  Once Kelly was clothed (thank you JCPenney and VA Tax Free Holiday), we stopped at A.C.Moore for supplies for our upcoming knitting lesson.  Refreshed, we head to the museum.

Let me just say that a few snakes, a talking computer and an electrostatic ball do not a "museum" make.  The girls did have a good time though.  They ran from station to station trying to figure out what it did and if it was cool.  Where was the most time spent?  At a block exhibit.  That's right.  Blocks.

A couple more stores and then the pinnacle of the day...the three horse $1 carousel in the mall.  Yep, the one that plays a tune, spins for 3 minutes, and is designed to entertain 2 year olds.  The thrill of the day.  They rode three times.

We wrapped up the day with some great pizza on the way home and Grandma got what she needed.  So all was not lost.  It was a worthwhile, if eventful, trip.  And it got us away from the Fairly Oddparents for about 8 hours!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Nips and Notes

Just a quick note to say, come on back daily.  The Nips and Notes section will feature articles that I run across and find interesting.  Let me know if you do too.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Welcome!  Every day I read some spectacular blogs of moms from all over with different perspectives and experiences.  I love them.  They inspire me.  They make me laugh.  They crystalize an "Awww Pickles!" moment that I have lived through.  I am also lucky to have some fantastic friends that can drop a line on Facebook and keep me going for days.

It is with those great folks in mind that I launch "Don't Eat Your Tutu!"

And while I'm at it, it is to my dear husband's credit that the title is so pitthy.  I'm no wordsmith, but that guy...whew!  ;)  "Don't eat your tutu!" is one of the things that we have said to our children along the way that we NEVER fathomed we would have to say. 

I know you have some gems of your own (BASH, I'm talking to you).  Please share them in the comments.