Tending to the prince

Is there a medicine for the whining?

Most of my friends are parents of rather precocious girls. Most of them are a little bit older than Jack. They are all whip smart, beautiful and mini future student council presidents. As I am not a teacher, a daycare provider, an aunt to kids within frequent visiting distance or a preschool aide, these are the only little kids I know. They are my sample. And my sample is freaking SKEWED, man. 

I mean, poor Jack. Since day one he's been getting bossed around by these pretty little girls, just a few months older than he is, but you know that in Toddler Years a few months is a big deal. I'm proud to say that he's an eensy weensy bit less of a pushover than he used to be, and I think he's improving. Yay! But whenever he is doing something weird or confusing or annoying or flat out pushing me to my utmost limits, one of the ways I try to keep myself in check is to say, "Self? Is this just something kids his age DO? Is it just a THING?"

See, because if it IS, then I am totally off the hook parenting failure-wise. It's in my best interests to turn whatever phase he's going through into an actual factual Phase. That all kids do. That all mothers hate. It's not me! It's him! 

But you guys, when your sample is made up of disgustingly cute, impossibly well behaved little GIRLS*, it never works out in my favor. EVER. 

The Thing right now is the whining. And the whining is especially... whiny, lately. I mean, you have your average list of demands, what I call the Litany of Wants. Want a drink, want stickers, want to sit in this chair not that one, want to play computer, want to buckle by himself, want to open the gate, want a snack, want to stay up, want to open the mail, want to help, want to watch CAAAAAARE BEAAAAARS. Okay, so I've seen even those darling little girls I know start in on their own litanies. Yes, it makes me want to die and causes me to shriek, "STAY IN YOUR ROOM AND PLAY BY YOURSELF!" during "quiet time" but whatever. Not that unusual. Well and good. 

But Jack, I feel, takes it to this incredibly dramatic level. Like he is a teenage girl. Like he might be writing angsty poetry in his room at night. Like his world is ending. Like I am the meanest mommy who has ever lived. He whines, he protests, he sputters - but then he WAILS. All out someone-killed-my-dog BAWLING. And I'm all, "Seriously? You're doing that? Really?"

I've noticed that we can get him to STOP crying a little bit faster these days. He's a bit more responsive to bribes and dire threats. It doesn't always work, but when he let it all out in the restaurant tonight, we had him contained in under 30 seconds. Major Improvement. 

But still. What the heck? Molly snatches his ball away and from the sound he makes you think she has him in a head lock. (Okay, ONCE I came downstairs to find a nice set of teeth marks in Jack's arm. The wailing was completely justified in that instance.) BUT STILL. It seems excessive. It's embarrassing. It's unnecessary.

When I compare my kids, it seems like they have two decidedly different ways of combating Life Is Not Fair. Jack pushes and pushes and pushes until he bursts into magnificent tears. Today we had several important conversations about Talking Back and Looking At Mommy When She's Speaking To You and Doing What Mommy Says The FIRST Time, Not The Seventeenth Time. If he doesn't grow up Goth he'll be a politician, what with all the sidling around my instructions. "Clean up your room, Jack!" "But Mommy, I just doing this first." He is an ACE at these "I just doing..." excuses/stalling strategies.

Molly, on the other hand, just gives you an unequivocal "no" and waits to see what happens. Time out, usually, which induces tears, but only for a moment. Then she's on to something else. With Jack, the tears last until he feels sufficiently coddled. And as you might guess, that takes quite a while since I am rarely in the mood to coddle. Like, EVER.

GAH. The whole point of this post being: EXPAND MY SAMPLE! Am I dealing with a future eyeliner-wearing drama major? Or is this pretty par for the course? Just a sensitive little boy? 

***I am not one of those people who thinks girl = sweet, well-behaved and boy = rambunctious heathen, no no no. I do not subscribe to that. HOWEVER. Jack's little pals are all very sweet and darling to their mommies when I am around! I am open to conspiracy theories. 

I've submitted my resignation

OH today was wretched. The WRETCHEDEST. It was a Triple Volume Whinefest today (myself included). All day I was thinking about Super Nanny. WHAT WOULD SUPER NANNY DO? We tried her Time Out method a few times (I'm still looking for the Discipline Method that both Phillip and I can be consistent practicing, as Shrieking, Stomping and Yelling doesn't really work for him and Reasoning For Hours On End doesn't really work for me) and it seemed to go okay. Except for the parts where I lost MY temper and the kids were so worn out and crabby they couldn't even function and IS IT BEDTIME YET?

After months of Not Napping, Jack picked it up again. Until today, when he decided he would not bother falling asleep until the moment his sister decided to wake up and I was all NO. That is NOT HAPPENING. So of course he's been a beast all afternoon and I have only myself to blame. 

And Molly - I don't even know what to say about her. Remember when all this blog consisted of was, "Midnight is not an acceptable baby bedtime!" Well, we're sort of back to that. We put Molly down and five minutes later she is up. She hurls everything out of her crib, including the books we keep on the window sill for early morning perusal. She wants a doll. She can't find her pacifier. She wants MOOOOZIK. She wants MAAAAWMEE or sometimes she wants DAHHHHHDEE. And, my favorite, she just stands there looking fifteen and surly until you go pick her up. 

What do we do with THAT? Jack had to learn how to fall asleep on his own and CIO was our answer. I know it's not everyone's, but one night people. ONE NIGHT. We had to do it all over again at certain points throughout Babyhood, but something clicked in that kid and it worked. Molly, on the other hand, has known how to fall asleep on her own since she was born. If she was howling there was something wrong. ALWAYS something wrong. You had hunt high and low for The Answer, but there was always an answer, even something like, "I just LIKE going to bed at midnight, suckas, and there's nothing you can do about it! Pbbbtt!" 

Even now, I'll go in and hold her for five minutes at a time. Sometimes I'll say, "Molly? It's time to go night night now" and she'll lean towards her bed and dive in. Other times it's a "NOOOOO!" and I have to do it all over again. Like, fifteen times again. The good thing is that I have an almost unlimited number of things to give her to play with in bed, which is usually how I get her to go back down. A ball? A book? The alarm clock? SURE! So there's always a point where she agrees to go to sleep. Always on her own. No rocking, no falling asleep ON you, no no, she wants the bed. She just wants it on very specific and mysterious terms.

(Sometimes I think about how anxious I was to give Jack toys in bed. What if he just PLAYED? What if he never fell ASLEEP? And I think: SILLY WOMAN. The point is not to sleep! The point is to keep them quiet so they leave you alone!) 

Sometimes we do let her cry, but only for a few minutes. It seems to tire her out, and then makes it a little easier to coax her back to horizontal. I don't know. Phillip keeps suggesting we do the full on CIO, but I don't like it. It's not the right answer here. (My evidence for this is: My Gut. Phillip is unimpressed.)

ANYWAY. We are all a bit cranky, is what I'm saying. By 3pm we are all careening towards our inner prima donnas and fixing for a giant screamy explosion. Usually the explosion is ignited by dinner, which is then punted into the refrigerator to be offered up again for the next day's lunch. Where it will be turned down, once again, until 2:30, when a certain someone starts whimpering from his bedroom, where he has been banished for Quiet Time, that he's HONGREE, MAWWWMEEE! HONGREE!

So eat your freaking lunch! GAH!

Oh, and also I was comfort eating all the live long day and you guys, the amounts of Bad I am feeling about my size and my weight and how my pants fit and all that stuff feels insurmountable right now. Even though I worked out every single stinking day last week AND ate like a freaking supermodel getting ready for her TV special. How can I let the guilt of one day of cookie-stuffing cancel out an entire week of awesome? I am so DOWN about all of this, I don't even want to write about it. BAH. I'm going to go put on my (XXXXL) tutu and sulk. GOOD NIGHT.

The Easier Debate

Yesterday I talked to my mom and it was discovered that SHE called any bunch of hair in an elastic a PONYtail and SHE thought pigtails were also braids and therefore we all get to blame HER. 

(And I have to say, I was sincerely agitated about the whole thing until the explanation popped up that pigtails are SHORT and ponytails are LONG and this made way more sense to me. I am now only a LITTLE bit agitated because see: entire life, saying it wrong.)

I woke up early (thanks, Molly) and I feel funny and I'm remembering that I've felt funny for a month now and my hypochondriac tendencies have activated. I'm sitting here trying to think of something not-lame to blog about, and all I can think is, "I wonder if it's CANCER!"

Don't tell me you don't do that too. 

Oh here she is, the Princess. How did Molly turn into the Difficult One? And I shouldn't say that, you know, since I think I have two of the easiest kids I'VE ever met. They rarely get sick, they mostly sleep, they're cheerful, they're cute, they don't have allergies, blah blah blah. Just so you know to take all mentions of "difficult one" with a grain of salt. 

But did I tell you Jack started napping again? I know. I don't get it. And sometimes I almost wish he'd stop with this whole napping business because he turns into SUCH a prima donna when he wakes up. He's never been good at Transitioning Back To Being Awake - seriously, he could stay in bed a full hour after he wakes up in the morning or after a nap - and now it's worse. The WHINING. The WHIMPERING. The "Hold me! Hold me! Hold me!" Gah. 

Of course, if he doesn't take a nap, we can't go anywhere in the afternoons lest he take a cat nap in the car and wake up to, say, dinner with his cousins or a friend's birthday party in the most wretched of moods. That's not terribly pleasant either. 

ANYWAY. HOWEVER. Jack started napping and since Molly never stopped, I'm back to having hours in the afternoon to myself. Sometimes. Sometimes I put Molly down at 12:30 and Jack doesn't fall asleep until 2 (I let him play his computer for a while, then he drives a city full of cars on his car rug or lines up all his toy bins on his bed or plays hopscotch on his books until I yell at him and THEN he crawls into his bed and falls asleep with his butt in the air). Things aren't very coordinated then, but it's still a bit of quiet time. Which is good, because the Princess is dealing with molars (it HAS to be molars, right?) and requires every ounce of attention and Hold Me! and compassion for whining that I have. Which is not a lot, as you know. 

Sometimes I sort of want to line up my two kids at the same age. Like, take a one-year-old Jack and a one-year-old Molly and decide which one was easier. I don't know why I find it worth thinking about. Like every time I start talking about Molly being the easier one, I remember the frat boy sleeping schedule, the crying (Jack never cried!), the extreme willful stubbornness that makes us all tremble at the thought of The Teenage Years. So then I decide Jack was easier, until I remember how hard it was to feed him (and still is) and how I rocked him to sleep until weeks before Molly was born, his whole attitude problem if he hasn't had enough sleep, so then MOLLY is obviously easier, right? 

Again, why do I find this important? 

Either way, they're both vying for the spot right now, just at different times of day. At least they're not being awful at the same time. At least when Jack is going through his afternoon whiny wittle babyness, Molly has usually taken a nice long nap and won't drive me crazy until it's time to put her to bed and she starts saying, "NOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOO!"

And despite all of that, we're having a lovely time. The days are Unplanned, yet we always find something to do. Today, for example, we are going to walk to the drugstore to buy contact solution and Kleenex! Now, you might think this is a horribly boring thing to do, lonely, dull, short. But no, you are not Three and Almost Two and an Easily Amused Thirty-One-Year-Old. Because the walk to the drugstore is a very nice one, and full of interesting things to shout about, like dandelions and airplanes and bicycles and wooden foot bridges and then there are SO many interesting things IN the drugstore that we must point ALL of them out! And since the walk to the drugstore takes a good 15 to 20 minutes with the double stroller it makes for a nice way to spend a sunny morning. SO THERE. Who says the life of a stay at home mother is not all sunshine and roses! LITERALLY!

Molly has been sitting on my lap this entire time, her hands on my hands feeling them go up and down on the keys. Then she tries to hit her own keys and I swipe her hands away and there are Wounded Noises and Indignant Grunts. WHATEVER, KID. Don't interrupt me while I'm complaining about you. 


Triumph? Sort of?

I hung a dozen pictures on the wall today and my husband has not said a damn thing. 


I just want to say that none of your comments on the last post made me the tiniest bit defensive or insecure or bummed out and THANK YOU FOR THAT. Group hug!

Today was much better. SO MUCH BETTER. Not completely perfect, as it involved a full hour of bawling for maaaaawwwwmeeeee but the force was with me, by which I mean I shut myself in the kitchen with the laptop and the iPod playing The Moth podcasts. The Moth is my favorite. 

See, I decided that the boy still needs a nap. And I know I can't physically force him to take a nap. But I can sort of insist that he give it the ole college try and I can do that by 1) putting him in his crib and 2) not going to get him when he starts the daily manipulation fest. He had some books in his crib, he went potty, he had his drink of water, I told him over and over that I would not come back until it was time to get up. And so it wasn't MY problem if he wanted to wail and carry on for over an hour, was it? I THINK NOT. 

And then he fell asleep. TRIUMPH! I think? And Molly woke up pretty soon after that, so, yeah, not the greatest afternoon in the world, but dude, I will TAKE IT. You are all right: the worst part is fighting a losing battle every single stupid day. We'll see what happens tomorrow. 

Oh, and thanks for the Quiet Time ideas. While I'm pretty sure Jack needs to nap MOST days, I know he also is totally fine skipping the nap on SOME days. And the sucky part is deciding what kind of day it is, but if I DO decide it's a skip day, I am very much in love with the TV In Mommy's Room While She Pecks Away At Her Silly Blawg plan. I can do that. Jack is a very good play-by-himselfer, but I think letting him play in his room was a little too much freedom. For now, anyway. Poor kid. He's going to be thirty-seven before we let him ride his bike down the street. Don't even talk to me about the big boy bed. That sucker is on HOLD.

ANYWAY. Friends came over this morning, which always makes a difference. I realized it's been about two weeks since we played with other people and man do I miss other people. And did I tell you Phillip is leaving again on Sunday afternoon? And not getting home till midnight on Thursday which is technically not Thursday at all since the kids will be good and asleep by then? Sigh.

Didn't I say I was going to write an Awesome Things About Moving post? OH RIGHT. Maybe tomorrow! Who knows! 

Oh wow this is long I AM SO SORRY

I'm just going to preface this by saying I am Rather Sensitive about the, ah, Circumstances. And that I'm not looking for advice so much as, um, I don't know. THE ANSWER? Or maybe a care package of booze?

The Circumstances are this: I find myself butting heads with Jackson an average of, and I am trying not to exaggerate here, every ten to fifteen minutes. During waking hours when it's just the three of us at home, that's about what it amounts to. And of those head butting moments, I'd say every third or fourth one escalates into something more than Head Butting. More like "If you don't straighten up and do what I am telling you to do I am going to stick your little bottom on the sidewalk with FREE stamped across your forehead." 

Sometimes he's picking fights with Molly (who, to be fair, is not much of a peach herself these days, but Molly responds pretty well to a Pointed Glare while Jack thinks a Pointed Glare means he gets to have another cookie.) Sometimes he's doing all the things he's not supposed to do in the backyard, like throw the pea gravel and stomp across my garden and pick the flowers that shouldn't be picked. Sometimes he's refusing to go potty, refusing to sit the right way at the dinner table, refusing to pick up toys, refusing to go up or down the stairs, refusing to do ANYTHING we want him to do. 

And while this is horribly annoying and grating and miserable for everyone and plain old suckalicious, I also consider it Standard Issue Toddler Fare. My dad would say, "Maggie, dear, this is what you get for having children." So yes. It's nothing out of the ordinary. We've struggled with particularly onerous weeks of misbehavior before, usually during a time of transition (HELLO) so we're dealing. Maybe not WELL (the "choices" thing, which I am trying in VAIN, is pointless when the person to whom the choices are positioned consistently opts for a third unlisted choice, and time outs, while nice for the parents, do not appear to be a deterrent for future misbehavior.) BUT WE ARE TRYING. 

Anyway, in the MIDST of the rampant parental abuse we are experiencing, the boy has now decided he is no longer going to nap in the afternoons. NOW. I just have to say that Jack will be three in something like three weeks and I've heard of lots of kids starting to skip naps at this age and a huuuuuge reason we want him to have his own room is so he has a quiet place to hang out during nap time. I'm just saying I've THOUGHT ABOUT IT and I'm not SURPRISED and I'm even halfway PREPARED. 

But it's not working the way I thought it would, and while I shouldn't be surprised about that, I'm not dealing very well. I put him in his bed with a couple of books and one of those magnetic drawing pads. That keeps him happy for a little while. Basically I'm not expecting him to fall asleep right away, and it's okay with me if he plays quietly in his bed until Molly wakes up. Yes, he's harder to deal with when he doesn't have a nap but (AND THIS IS KEY) if I get a break, I CAN deal with a less than stellar mood in the afternoons. If I don't? MY less than stellar mood ruins EVERYONE'S day.

So sometimes this works and sometimes he falls asleep. Most of the time it backfires. He's okay for a little while, but then he starts whining for more. More books, more water, more toys. Then he wants to get out of bed. Then he wants to play with crayons. Then he has to go potty, except oops!, he already went in his pants. Then he needs a Kleenex. Then he has a piece of fuzz in his bed. Then he wants covers. On and on and on. So it's not so much nap time or quiet time as it is Mommy Fetches Me Stuff Time. In other words: NOT A BREAK. 

Now I know what you are saying. You are saying to yourselves, "Well stop going into his room, woman! Can you not see when you are being manipulated? This is your own fault!" And I am in full agreement with you there, I am. REALLY. I will just say that the reasons I answer 90% of his calls for "MAAAAAWWWMEEEE" are thusly:

1. What if he is giving up his nap and it's unreasonable for me to expect him to spend a full two hours sitting in his bed with two books? This is where I go in to give him more books or let him try playing in his room by himself (he just sees how far he can go OUT of his room). Because I'm OKAY if he doesn't sleep, I just need him to NOT NEED ME for a while. 

2. What if he DOES have to go potty? We have regressed on the potty situation big time, something I blame on all the transition (and myself, of course). I feel like it's just a reflection of everything else, but I still want to respond to those requests ASAP. 

3. What if he really DOES need a Kleenex or wants covers because he wants to go to sleep or that fuzz is really bothering him? Sometimes I've let him cry for a long time and I go in there and his face is covered in disgustingness and I would want a Kleenex too. And sometimes when I do that, THAT's the point where all the whining and fussing and hollering for Mommy ends. 

So now you are saying, "Well, why does the hollering for Mommy bother you? Just leave him in there! He's fine!" I've heard several variations on this point recently and I would like to address it with: BECAUSE I CANNOT RELAX. It's not that I'm worried about him, not really, and it's not that I think it's mean or damaging to his little psyche or anything like that. It's that I cannot do anything else except listen to the whining and hope for it to end. I can't write, I can't work out, I can't play on the internet, I can't watch TV, I can't pay the bills, I can't do any of the things I usually do during nap time because the incessant whining makes me so incredibly tense and frustrated. And this is my entire issue: I NEED SOME DOWNTIME TO SURVIVE. So I cave. I admit it. I SUCK!

Which is why I am extremely suspicious that this is all my problem. Like, something as simple as an Adjustment In Attitude could be the answer. It's been the answer before. Or a big fat Lowering Of Standards. I am open to anything. I think the thing I'm doing most wrong is being inconsistent. I tend to operate on a by-the-minute basis during naptime. Do I think I can handle the whining? I try. Do I think he could try playing quietly in his room? I'll try it. Do I think he's being awful and needs to go back in his bed? I'll do that. It's never the same thing, even though in my head I have this Nap Time/Quiet Time PLAN. Apparently I need a Plan B. 

I am tired of getting so incredibly angry at my kid for this stupid stuff. I can be firm and discipline him and lay down the law without turning into The Rage Monster, which is usually where I'm at come three o'clock. I'm tired of being manipulated, of allowing myself to be manipulated. I'm tired of not knowing if he's giving up his nap or just adjusting or just being a pill or what. I'm tired of always doing the wrong thing. 

I have a few ideas in mind. I will still put him in his bed first, because I think most of the time he still needs to sleep, but I will still give him a book or two. I'm going to try putting him down earlier because someone said this worked in her similar situation. I'm going to have him go potty, get a drink, everything I can think of WHEN I put him down and try my very very hardest not to go in there again. A Quiet Time CIO, if you will, because maybe he knows he can get me to do whatever. (As evidence of his sneakiness I present the multiple Potty False Alarms.) And if the nap skipping becomes a more permanent thing, I think I am going to buy a few inexpensive quiet toys and keep them in a tub that I bring out only for Quiet Time and establish Harsh Punishments for venturing outside of his room. (Or put up the baby gate - that was Phillip's suggestion.) 

So yeah. That's what's happening at Casa Cheung. You SO want to hang out with us, don't you. 

Yesterday was the worst, the absolute worst, and when the FPC showed up at 5 to babysit the kids so Phillip and I could go see Conan O'Brien downtown I practically wept with gratitude. (And of course they were angels for HER.) I was determined not to go on and on about Jack when I met Phillip for dinner, but you know I did and to his credit he did not try to fix it or tell me I was doing something wrong or basically act like HE is the one who stays at home and knows how to do it all which is something I cannot abide at any time ever. It was nice to get it all out, actually. And I had a lovely gin and tonic and a massive burger at a Downtown Workers' Happy Hour Meeting Spot (a job was sounding good at that point) and then Conan O'Brien was more fun than I expected. I'm not much of a fan (mostly I really hate the Late Night Format and nearly all forms of crude frat boy jokes) but I like HIM and the band was awesome and then Local Celebrity Eddie Freaking Vedder showed up and did a few songs and fourteen-year-old me was pretty impressed, although thirty-year-old me would have preferred Local Celebrity Joel McHale. Also, I highly recommend checking out this dude Reggie Watts, who opened the show, and while every other word out of his mouth was one your mother doesn't want you to say, I laughed SO HARD. 

This post is an exercise in brain cleansing

I'm trying to write a post for Parenting about the differences between my kids... it's hard. I feel like I have a gazillion examples and things to point out, but my brain feels fuzzy and I'm getting that awful blog feeling, the "oh, I am SO not explaining this right" feeling. I hate that. Time to write something else. 

Thanks for your thoughts about what to throw out. To be honest, I am VERY much a Throw Out kind of person, but I blame the internet for my indecisiveness. I am constantly reading posts about stocking up on the next size of clothing, or saving this or that for the next baby, or Gift Closets and stuff like that. And I am, like, the OPPOSITE of someone who buys the next size up. It just sounds so stressful. Where would I store it! What if I forget what I already have and buy more of the same! What if I don't like it! What if it's the wrong season! What if it never gets worn! GAK! 

I didn't pack at all today. I didn't even think about it. (Much.) My neighbors came over for our second (and last) playdate. And then I took Jack to an emergency doctor visit. (He's fine.) And then they napped while I 1) did my yoga video for the first time in weeks, I will now wait for the applause, and 2) ate chocolate chips. WHAT. And when the kids woke up we raced over to visit our friends who've been (how dare they!) out of the country and too busy to hang out with us. WHATEVER. 

In case you didn't catch it - it was a lovely day. In a frightfully messy house. 

Speaking of the frightful, I've just given up. You know how they say married women Let Themselves Go? Or older women? "Oh, she's just let herself GO!" (This needs to be said with an upturned nose and scandalized tone.) Anyway, that is what I've done with my HOUSE. I went from crazy insane people-could-be-showing-up-any-second! mindset where every toeprint on the floor was reason for Utter Despair, to "Eh! If I leave those noodles on the floor they'll be all dried up and easier to sweep up tomorrow!" BUT THEN I DON'T SWEEP THEM UP TOMORROW. 

The fact that I've decided to hire professional cleaners (even though this was an inspection stipulation about which I fussed big time) makes it all the worse. Why clean the toilet if a PROFESSIONAL is just going to clean it again next week? I mean, really! 

So I SHOULD have been ashamed when my neighbors came over this morning and I hadn't swept the floors let alone replaced the empty toilet paper roll in the bathroom. I just didn't care. "We're moving!" I said, using this to explain and excuse the total devastation that is my living space. I did manage to load the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher and find an acceptable blanket for their baby to sit on, but that's about it. I didn't care. I honestly didn't care. And I'm the freak who sterilizes the counters and dusts the flower pots before anyone whose last name isn't Cheung shows up at my house. 


Totally Random Question: what do YOU do with the child who is screeching for a drink of water a full hour after he's supposed to be asleep? When you are EXTREMELY sure that he is not thirsty because you ALREADY gave him a glass of water when you put him to bed? When you know beyond a doubt that he is just being Bloody Minded? 

(My dad uses the phrase "bloody minded" in reference to my two children quite frequently. I think it is APT.)

I suppose I should march up there and dutifully offer the single swallow of water. If I don't there will be no peace in the house. If I do, it is guaranteed that he will do it again tomorrow night. BLEARGH.

What's it like when Daddy leaves for a week?

Phillip and Jack are having this Bedtime War lately. Phillip puts pajamas on, reads the stories, says the prayers, puts Molly in her bed (we gave up on the going-to-sleep-in-the-same-room plan about 2 months ago, now we put her down in our room and move her when we're ready to go to bed). Then he goes back to Jack to cater to any last demands. Drink of water? Bit of fuzz that needs to be removed from the blanket? Potty? The green passo instead of the blue one? Sure. But even Phillip Cheung has a limit, and for the last couple nights he's come downstairs while Jack is screaming his head off because his dad won't cave to one more bedtime delay tactic. 

Tonight Phillip came downstairs and ordered me not to go up. But then Jack started shrieking, "I have to go PAAAHHHHTTY! I have to go PAAAAHHHHTY!" and I don't really feel like that's something we should ignore, even though we are both 99.9999% sure he is screwing with us. So I went up there, stuck him on the potty and OF COURSE he just sat there, not looking at me because if he did, he would break into a giant I Am The Master Of Manipulation grin. Once it was clear nothing was going to be deposited in the potty (sorry) I hauled him off and slapped a diaper on and stashed him back in the crib. At least he's not howling anymore. 

Phillip is leaving Monday and not coming home till late on Friday. I have reservations about next week, but I'm slowly filling our social calendar and working on my Martyred Sigh. What I'm worried about is what things will be like when Phillip gets home. Are these kids going to be nice to him? I mean, they act up when Phillip gets home from WORK. What will they be like when he goes away for a WEEK?

And what will the kids do when he leaves for another week in April or May? 

I know this isn't the hugest deal in the world and kids are adaptive and everything will be fine and hello, have I heard of this little thing called troop deployment and Shut Up About Just One Measly Week, Me! But this is new for us and I'm a little worried. I'm not sure if there's anything I can do to make it easier? We've already decided on a nightly Skype time. Hopefully the kids aren't driving me crazy and I put them to bed at, like, four.

I try to remember that Phillip has twice as much going on as I do, but I'm still crashing into bed every night and I'm never ready to wake up when I hear the kids start talking to each other. Today was the first day I didn't leave the house immaculate when we went to run errands in the morning and it felt amazing. I mean, I've quite enjoyed having a spotless house these last two weeks, but it's exhausting. It's ALREADY hard getting out of the house. And now I'm full swing into the rental house hunt. I have one decent possibility (and I went and peeked in all the windows this afternoon) (it's VACANT) but it's on kind of a weird street and I'm not sure how I feel about that and Craigslist is not offering an abundance of options and and and... 

But Jack... yeah... WHATEVER. I'm watching The Soup Awards and feeling much better. Also, I think Stephanie Pratt got a nose job. 

In which I do not exaggerate, not even a little bit

I intended to stuff the kids into the double stroller after their naps and drag them to the Asian grocery store up the street, but of course it was pouring. So we drove instead, and I felt silly bringing the three of us and our car to the store for a bottle of hoisin sauce and a tiny nub of ginger, but there you go. Both of those things are outrageously expensive at Safeway whereas they are dirt cheap at the Asian grocery store. Whatever. 

(Oh, and I was buying them because I am trying to make New Recipes and the glazed pork loin I made tonight wasn't half bad, if you don't count the facts that 1) I didn't cook it long enough and had to microwave the middle pieces and 2) I don't like pork.) 

Anyway. We walked into the store and were immediately confronted with red and gold tackiness because hello, it is Chinese New Year. OH RIGHT. 


Okay, at this point the post was going to veer off into a nice multicultural discussion of Chinese New Year and our previous celebrations, but I'm going to skip all that in favor of telling you what I have been doing in between every paragraph. Ready?

I took the kids upstairs at seven and had them in bed by seven-thirtyish. Phillip has been downstairs since seven doing school stuff. WHATEVER. 

There was jumping and giggling and the usual Not Going To Sleepness. I went upstairs a time or two to Instill The Fear Of God. Then I hear Jack saying, "I have to go PAAAAAAHTTY. I have to go PAAAAAAHTTY." So I run up there and yes, he HAD to go potty, but he went in his pants. LOVELY. 

I clean that up. 

Next I go up there because they are OUT OF CONTROL and I have HAD IT and they are now going to REGRET IT. And they do. Much howling, wailing, gnashing of teeth. I take a breather in my bedroom because: DUDE. This sucks.

I go downstairs. More crying. I am immune. Then Jack starts saying, "I have a runny NOSE! I have a runny NOSE!" in this awful sing songy voice and I run up there because, well, runny noses are lame and if I don't wipe it he's going to get snot everywhere etc. So I run up there and guess what - SOMETHING STINKS. And its name is Molly. 

So I clean that up. That involves turning on lights, removing the offender from her bed, additional actions that completely cancel out my Mean Mommy act from a few moments earlier. But what am I going to do? I HAVE TO CLEAN IT UP. But I am not nice about it. 

I go downstairs. They jump and giggle, like they think I CAN'T HEAR THEM. What is UP, Children?! I decide to ignore them. My mother calls. I whine. I whine A LOT. I decide that it's nearly nine, I better go yell at them again. Or move Molly into my room. Or something, because this is ridiculous.

So I go up there and something stinks AGAIN. Jack went potty in his pants AGAIN. I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING. 

Aaaaand I lose it. I LOST IT. My throat hurts, I am furious, and Phillip just came upstairs asking me what's going on and I can't even TELL him because I am THAT DONE. 

He is up there right now putting Molly in the pack 'n play. 

I suppose this could be the point where I tell you that tonight we got out our calculators and decided we COULD sell our house. Why I am not immediately over the moon over the fact that I could have two separate bedrooms in which to confine and isolate and imprison my children I have NO IDEA. After tonight I should be JUMPING UP AND DOWN. Obviously I am too wiped to think straight.

Okay, so what this post was REALLY about was how Jack wanted to buy stuff at the store and so did I, since buying stuff makes me feel better. So we bought stuff. We bought all sorts of little Asian grocery store treats and we will send them to a Randomly Chosen Blog Commenter. Mostly good stuff. I couldn't help myself on certain items, but I did refrain from purchasing the dried wasabi anchovies. You're welcome. 

So! Happy Chinese New Year! I would like a red envelope full of Goes To Bed Without A Problem! 

Plot Holes

This was one of those very long very exhausting days, but the kind where you get all your stuff done and the kids are halfway cooperative and you don't care THAT much that your husband met friends for drinks after work. I exercised, I made dinner, I folded every clean piece of laundry in the house. When Molly woke up from her nap diaper-less and standing in a pack 'n play amidst the products the diaper is supposed to contain (I swear, my girl baby is a thousand percent more gross than my boy baby ever was/is) I simply yanked her out and stashed her in the bathtub, cheerfully wadding up the bedding and stuffing it in the wash machine. Me = Epitome Of Loving Doting Mother. 

But I am still tired. And Phillip is home now and HE is in charge of the "Wan' play Play-Doh Daddy? Wan' play Play-Doh?" THANK GOD.

I was thinking that sometimes I write something, by which I mean I moan and gripe and sob, and then I never mention it again. Or, once the something ceases to be something to moan/gripe/sob about, I stop talking about it. I have a handful of things in mind: 

Sleep. Molly, for whatever reason, is now waking up at six. I know the difference between 5:30 and 6 doesn't seem like a lot, but IT IS. Maybe it's because Phillip's alarm goes off at six and we have to wake up anyway, but I am a lot less stabby in the sleep department this week. SOMETIMES she even sleeps till 6:30! I think she is teething and she has stopped eating anything requiring more than a single chew, but the sleep is going relatively well. She's even taking extra long afternoon naps - Jack is now waking up before she does, which is awesome because Molly's insufferable until Jack wakes up to entertain her. (Which: HUH? Because all they do is FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!)

My car door. Did I tell you I busted the car door? Backing up with the car door open, sideways-ish, into the inside of our garage? One of my more brilliant moves. It is not fixed. Our dads keep asking us when we're going to get it fixed and for now the answer is: when there's nothing else we want to spend our money on. 

The Catholic blog. I am writing in it! One day I might even write something good!

Potty training. WHATEVER. The kid manages to stay dry most days for most or all of the day. As long as I am on his case every half hour, reminding him of the potty's existence, he's good to go. His ATTITUDE is not as charming as it once was, however, as we are now dealing with "NAAAOOOOOOO!" (is my kid the only one who has figured out how to turn "No" into eighteen syllables?) whenever we suggest he should use the potty. So. WHATEVER. 

The Blathering. We have picked a date! And a location! And as soon as I have hired all the website hamsters I will alert you to the details!

Whether or not we will sell our house this year. We talked. And talked and talked and talked. (And did not argue! Bonus points!) My biggest issue is wanting more space sooner rather than later. Phillip's biggest issue, which I did not know until we talked and talked and talked, is the ability to wait for the perfect house when we're ready to buy. If we're renting, waiting for the right house is MUCH easier. So the two big questions for the realtor are: 1) does she think we could at least break even on our house if we sell this summer? and 2) what kind of rental houses are in our price range? If the answer to either of these questions is unacceptable, we'll wait. But if we feel comfortable... I think we're going to do it. Look for this blog to grow exponentially more neurotic later this year. 

A replacement Christmas party. Yes, I know this was a Very Important Detail for you. Well, rest assured that we have picked a date, picked a theme and have commenced obsessing over invitations and decorations. Phillip is REALLY EXCITED, let me tell you.

Uhhhh, I never know what you people want to know. I mean, not that you want to KNOW stuff; not like you're sitting there on TENTERHOOKS or anything. Ugh. Shutting up now. Hello my television!

I AM the boss of him

Thank God my sister came over to babysit tonight because I was ready to put Jack on the curb with a FREE sign around his neck. 

That kid does not listen to me. DOES. NOT. LISTEN. And there's pretty much nothing that drives me crazier than a two-year-old who flat out ignores me when I tell him to stop tormenting his sister. Which is to say: neither of us is on our best behavior. 

But I don't know what to do, other than stick him on the steps - completely removed from the action - every single time he steals Molly's toy or refuses to follow directions or can't stop crying. Oh man, the Can't Stop Crying. Maybe THAT'S the thing that drives me crazier. 

Last night Phillip put Jack to bed, then went downstairs to do homework. A little while later I heard Jack yelping over the monitor and I raced up there because we're potty training and YOU NEVER KNOW. But no, Jack wanted something. He kept saying what he wanted over and over, but I had no idea what he was talking about. Finally he said, "I show you!" So I got him out of bed (I was feeling sweet and generous) and he scampers into my bedroom where a Play-Doh pizza cutter type toy thingy was sitting on my bed. "My Play-Doh cutting board!" he announced (huh?) and held it close to his chest like a baby doll. "Want take this to bed Mama?" And I said no. And he said yes. And I said no. And he said yes. And it was totally the kind of thing that would drive me crazy, except it was sort of ridiculous and hilarious and he was acting SO pathetic in this very obvious way, where he knew that I knew this was a big act. And finally we giggled and I convinced him to take a book to bed instead of his cutting board (?) and ALL WAS WELL. 

So I know. I JUST KNOW my kid plays me. 

Sometimes it's cute. Other times I won't be played. You know? I'm going to win. I'm the mom. He has to listen to me. And then he doesn't and WHAT CAN I DO? 

I stick him on the steps or I stick him in his bed. I have no confidence that either of these things makes a lick of difference in his behavior, but at least I get five minutes away from him. 

Molly is no picnic herself, and I really have to watch to make sure that I'm getting on to Jack for a good reason, rather than Molly just felt like shrieking and I felt like blaming Jack. I'm the oldest kid, I remember full well what it was like to hear, "Just ignore him!" when my little brother was the one causing the problem. I don't want to do that to Jack, but even though Molly can be a little twerp and TOTALLY hits back (and hits first!) he DOES cause most of the problems. He takes her toys, he pushes her, he roughhouses with her in a mean sort of way, he plays tug of war until Molly gets hurt - it's awful! 

At the same time, this kid is CONSTANTLY kissing me, saying "I wuv you, Mommy", hugging me, asking me if I'm happy, wanting me to do this or that with him, snuggling in the chair when we read a story before naptime - I mean, he's PRECIOUS. He's the sweetest thing in the world. He is the cheeriest happiest little kid I know, I swear. BUT HE IS DRIVING ME NUTS!

This tends to go in waves... and maybe there's some External Factor I haven't identified, and won't for another six months or something, I don't know. And I don't think there's really anything I can do about it. From what I hear, he's just being two, and also from what I hear, three will be worse. Getting him out of my sight at least gives me a breather. We'll live. 

And when we got home tonight I turned on the news, watched for five minutes and went upstairs to stare at him and his sister, just barely resisting the impulse to pull them both out of bed and hold them in the comfy blue chair while they sleep.