Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year! (Warning - unbridled introspection ahead)

Almost every year I make a list of New Year's Resolutions/Revolutions. Some years the list is long enough to include headings and subheadings (the subheadings consisting of practical suggestions on how to achieve the headings). I love lists. I'm a compulsive list maker. I make 'em all the time. Do I follow them? It varies.

A list designed to last a whole year is a hard one to follow. I'm pretty good with lists for the day, for a couple of days and even maybe a week - but beyond that it eventually becomes clutter and heads to the blue box.

Every year I vow in my head or on paper to do things to take better care of myself, such as more exercise and eating better. If I do that then I am healthier and happier and, as a result, so is my family. Unfortunately my strategies for weight loss and exercise usually dwindle and I have to resort to my fat pants and maternity underwear at some point in the year.

Over the last few years I have cut the list dramatically. Last year it consisted of three items: Live in the present moment; take care of myself so I can take care of others; and know my limits.

I've covered the second one as best I can; I usually start off well and end the year ready to resolve to try again. The last one is improving - I'm getting better at knowing how much work I can handle before wanting to run screaming from a room.

Living in the present moment - that one needs work. In fact, I totally suck at this.

I can't remember where I read it, but another blogger described a wonderful bedtime experience with her kids. Rather than rushing through the routine, they took their time and everything ended happily.

I get so stuck on routine that I can't stop and smell the flowers - quite literally. I sometimes get agitated if things don't happen on schedule or the way they were planned. As well, there is always something to be done, like laundry or dishes, that "prevents" me from sitting down and really playing with my kids. The whole point of me working from home was to be there for my kids, but sometimes I wonder if they'd get more one-on-one attention from an outside caregiver. (There. I said that out loud.) To meet all my obligations I work a lot of nights, which sometimes makes for Tired Zombie Mommy who goes through the motions but who isn't really "there."

It's a hard thing to do, this living in the moment, but when it happens it is such a beautiful thing. I remember when Girlchild was born and, for the first time in my whole life, I felt complete, utter, indescribable bliss. It was amazing. I would get up in the middle of the night to feed my second child and I would sit there and rock and stroke her fine, golden hair and be so completely there with her - nourishing her, loving her. I was in the moment and I wouldn't have traded it for anything - even sleep.

Eventually, though, life has a way of pulling you in different directions. I like to try to make everyone happy, and you can't always do that and be in the moment, too. Sometimes I'm physically present, but mentally miles ahead, planning the next meal, preparing for the next task, thinking about the next deadline. And then a child interrupts my thoughts or my task and I get snappish, which I always regret.

I've reeeaaalllly got to work on the in-the-moment thing. It will be my one resolution. My babies won't be little forever and I can't waste a single moment regretting this time. I don't want to look back 20, 10, 5 or even 1 year from now and think, "Man, did I ever screw that up." I want to feel that bliss more often. Actually, I want to feel that bliss again. I think, maybe, that by following this one resolution, many other good things will fall into place. Is that nuts? Do you think it can be done? Do you have any ideas on how to make it happen?

Happy New Year to you all! (And for those of you who make resolutions, good luck!)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oh, She's Two....

No doubt about it, Girlchild is two.

She's more of a traditional terrible two than her brother ever was. There's nothing like a cold and a couple of new molars to bring out the two-ness in a girl.

Everything - absolutely everything - is becoming a battle. Things that used to be favourites are now, well, not. Things that used to be easy and taken for granted are now officially fronts requiring heavy artillery.

I'm not really surprised by this. Girlchild has always been a bit of a spitfire. I wouldn't call her a spirited child, but she has never been quite as compliant as her textbook/easy brother. (Of course now he is known as the worrier. Vern the Worrier, we call him, even though his name is not Vern.)

I can't say I have rolled with this new two-ness that has emerged, though. I blame the fact I'm Type A and things have to be just so and on time. Oh, and I blame my elbow, of course. My elbow is giving me serious, serious grief at the moment. I'm guessing it's Tennis Elbow, because I'm such a freakin' athlete [cue uproarious laughter here]. Whatever it is, it hurts all the time and especially when lifting, pouring, carrying, grasping, writing - you know, doing pretty much anything I normally do. You should see me trying to pull up a pair of pantyhose. Good thing I don't wear pantyhose very often. Good times.

So you can imagine how exasperating it is when Girlchild decides, for the eleventy-thousandth time in a day, to turn into Wet Bag of Sand because she does not want to put on her snowpants. It has always amazed me how a small child's weight can increase exponentially when said child decides to rebel.

Maybe maybe maybe things will improve marginally when the teeth come in and the cold goes away. And maybe maybe maybe pigs might fly up my butt. I'll let you know how things turn out.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Verns

Something weird is happening at our house. As usual.

I don't remember who started it and why, but it is a growing phenomenon.

Somebody started calling Boychild "Vern." It might have been me in an effort to hurry him along one day. I can hear myself saying, "C'mon, Vern. We're going to be late." I don't know why "Vern" instead of "Ambrose" or "Todd" or "Jimmy," but it has stuck.

Some days we call Boychild "Vern" more than we call him by his real name. In fact, there are probably a bunch of people who have encountered us at stores and such who think we have a boy named "Vern." Not that there's anything wrong with that. At one point Boychild complained, but now he seems to find it funny and has joined in the fun. You see, the Vernification of our household has spread. Girlchild is occasionally called "Vernette." Daddy is "Daddy Vern." I am "Mama Vern." The cats - either one of them at any given time - are "Vern Cat."

This is not really a new thing, but it is the first time it has been applied to people in the house. Years ago, for a reason that escapes both of us, we started calling MacGregor, our enormous tabby cat, "Schooley." I can't tell you why "Schooley" - I haven't the foggiest idea. Sometimes we call him "Pilot," too, but only when we pick him up to carry him and his back legs stick straight out - kind of like an airplane's tail.

I see some identity issues in our future. Therapy, for sure.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Farmer in the Dell - As sung by Girlchild this evening

The foimer in a dell
The foimer in a dell
Hi ho derry oh
The foimer in a dell.

The foimer takes a wife
The foimer takes a wife
Hi ho derry oh
The foimer takes a wife.

A wife makes a tild
A wife makes a tild
Hi ho derry oh
A wife makes a tild.

A tild takes a moose
A tild takes a moose
Hi ho derry oh
A tild takes a moose.

A moose takes a dog
A moose takes a dog
Hi ho derry oh
A moose takes a dog.

A dog takes a cat
A dog takes a cat
Hi ho derry oh
A dog takes a cat.

A cat takes a rat
A cat takes a rat
Hi ho derry oh
[Big finish] A rat taaaakes aaaaaa cheeeeeeeeese!
[Insert wild clapping and praise here.]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Thinking about [yawn] tomorrow

It's hard to be a good mom when I'm tired. Of course the term "good mom" depends on the definition du jour - be it the one who bakes cookies and takes the youngsters to the playground or even just the one who doesn't yell.

I'm tired a lot these days because the work-from-home-and-end-of-semester-crunch is upon me. I work too late at night. Plus I think I have something a student termed "The 100-Day Cough." I'm on about day 14 now. Coughing is tiring work, but finding time to get it checked is also challenging, and I don't want to go for unnecessary antibiotics if I can avoid it. So I'll give it another 70 days or so. Er whatever. We'll see.

Thing is, me as Tired Mom is also Uninspired Mom and Impatient Mom and Mom Who Let's the Kids Watch Too Much TV and Mom Who Grits Her Teeth and Mom Who Banishes People to Their Rooms. I'm adoring some other bloggers' great advice about not feeling guilty about these things, especially at Christmas when things are in hyper mode regardless of what else is going on in life, but I'm not good at not feeling guilty. Instead I find myself thinking, a lot, "Tomorrow will be better." And then I stay up working too late again and I'm tired again and the cycle repeats.

Tomorrow [yawn] will be better.

Live in the present, "they" say.

So, as I write this I'm making low-fat oatmeal raisin cookies that both kids like as snacks. That makes me feel happy because it's not bad for them. Baking relaxes me, which is handy. I wish I could do it more often. This is a rare, almost blissful, half hour.

Maybe today isn't too bad. Yawn.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Love a Parade - Except for the Noise

Tonight was the Santa Claus parade in our town. It was a nursery rhyme theme, which was great for pointing things out to Girlchild. Boychild and his buddies collected tonnes of frozen candy from dozens of frozen parade participants. Night parades are beautiful - but can leave you feeling quite raw (she said, still shivering and sipping tea).

Boychild has never been a big fan of loud noises, unless he's making them. Many a tear has been shed over such things as electric carving knives, drills and fireworks. He's much better than he used to be. Now instead of dissolving into tears, he's more likely to walk around with his hands over his ears.

The parade, of course, features fire trucks and large tractor trailers. The trucks, of course, sound their sirens and horns. The boy, of course, stands with his hands over his ears while his friends have their hands outstretched to collect candy. Not only that, but he has discovered that he gets better ear blockage by raising his arms straight up and pressing them against his ears. This makes him look, well, odd.

Kids are weird. Weird, weird, weird. It's at this point that groom-boy and I point to each other and say, simultaneously, "Your child."