Managing Molly

You can tell Phillip's been away

I'm really angry at my kids tonight. That probably means I shouldn't be writing here. OH WELL!

When I was little, just a look from my parents could make me cry. I don't really know what I was like when I was Jack and Molly's age, but what I do remember from the times I was in trouble is a Hyper Awareness of my parents' moods - if they were upset with us, which one of us they were upset with, and what I could do to make it better. 

It is really weird to me - and BEYOND frustrating - that Jack and Molly seem wholly unaffected by my anger. 

Oh, they'll stop and look at me, they'll calm down, Molly's chin might even wobble. But even if I've just shrieked my fool head off, which I HAVE been known to do, the minute I turn my back it's playtime again. They might not be doing anything to get them in trouble, but they're giggling or diving right back into a game and being silly and I'm all, "WTF CHILDREN. I JUST YELLED AT YOU. ACT LIKE IT!"

So I wonder, you know? Do they just not KNOW how to behave when they're "cruising for a bruising"? Is that something I have to teach them? I try. I tell them what appropriate behaviors are when they're in trouble and need to get back into my good graces. Cleaning up quickly and quietly, not laughing and dancing around and making an even bigger mess. Because sometimes I can tell Molly to do something ten times, in the most direct language I can think of, straight to her face, in any tone of voice, and she will either continue stand there looking blank, or do something ELSE. I'll be furious about a huge paper and markers mess that they're taking forever to pick up, and Jack will ask me for a snack while there's still garbage all over the floor. Maybe they really don't GET IT. 

I've also wondered if I'm just not mad ENOUGH. This seems crazy to me, because I get plenty mad. I have lost my voice from shrieking at them, hand to God. I'm not proud of it, but I swear, sometimes I don't know how else to get across the very basic fact that I AM MAD! And it STILL doesn't seem to matter. It's like they're just waiting for me to get it out of my system. 

I am oh so slowly starting to think: what's the point? This isn't working. It just makes me angrier and more tired and voiceless. What works (when I am on top of things, when I'm not exhausted, when I'm in control) is an instant and matter-of-fact anvil coming down on whatever/whoever the issue is. Immediate card taken away, immediate removal, immediate loss of whichever treat or privilege is in contention. And I don't have to get mad about it. I just have to be quick enough and solid enough and that's it. Done. Boom. No iPad for you. No dessert. No story before bed. No Netflix. THE END. 

But I'm just like... SERIOUSLY? Do you not SEE that you're in trouble? Did you REALLY just ask me for that? Did you REALLY just talk back to me AGAIN? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? 

What is wrong with ME?

I can't figure it out. 

Is it baffling because I'm tired and lazy and I would much rather discipline with an Angry Stare than a behavior chart and thinking up things to take away and verbally shutting Jack down every time he opens his mouth (WHICH IS A LOT)? Or because I was the sort of kid instantly cowed by my dad's angry voice? Am I not scary enough? I can't BE more scary! OMG I AM SO TIRED.

My kids are SUPER GOOD at school- polite, kind, cheerful, obedient. They're both rule followers. They both respect adults and are very aware of the kids who don't. I am not at all worried about their behavior anywhere besides my own home. I'm not even WORRIED about it, I'm just TIRED. I feel utterly ineffective and STYMIED. If someone got in MY face the way I occasionally get in JACK'S face I'd be a sobbing mess in the corner. 

Jack? Toooootally different kind of kid. I am not equipped for this kind. 

This is the sort of blog post that I publish and think, "Well, everyone who reads THAT is going to think [UNFLATTERING DESCRIPTION OF MY PARENTING SKILLS]" but... I don't know. I don't really care tonight. I just feel like writing out the frustration, no matter how it sounds. I know we're fine and I know things will be fine and I'm a good mom and my kids are decent little humans, but MAN, there are days when I CANNOT figure it out. 

To Wake or Not To Wake?!

All right, I need to obsess over something. 

I am baby wrangling on my own tonight. And as previously mentioned, we have this whole new Emma Sleep System where we're super stingy with her naps during the day and somehow this gets us longer stretches of sleep at night. I wouldn't say it's working PERFECTLY but it is working WAY better than what we were doing before. Which was nothing. Haaaa.

For whatever reason she started getting all finicky and fussy around five. Five! This, after waking up at 3:30 (on her own) from her two-hour afternoon nap. (I don't let her do more than an hour in the morning and more than two hours in the afternoon.) Five is not an acceptable bedtime when you have practically just woken up from your afternoon nap AND you are Emma Cheung, The Exception To The Sleep Begets Sleep Rule. 

I kept her up until six, when she got REALLY fussy. Then I gave her a bottle and put her down. And now. NOW I get to decide whether to let her go on sleeping or if I wake her up to feed/change/redo bedtime. I DON'T KNOOOOOOW. This is decision is also hampered by the fact that only JUST got done putting the big kids to bed and cleaning up dinner and picking up the living room (except that is a lie, the living room is a DISASTER) and I am tired. I want to eat MY dinner and watch MY tv shows and then put MYSELF to bed. I don't want to get the baby up when she might just wake up at 2:30 ANYWAY. 

But maybe I should. What to do, what to do what to do. 

Before the Nap Stinginess began we were attempting the Get Her Up At Ten So She Doesn't Wake Up At Two system. Which was working half decently. Ish. Which is why Phillip, on the phone just now, HIGHLY recommend I get her up. Like, NOW. 


ALSO I have this Molly issue where there is Constant Sobbing and I am, again, At A Loss. Today the sobbing was over the fact that when I peeled her Fruit Roll Up off the cellophane it ripped. OH THE HORROR. I made sure to rip Jack's as well, so that it wouldn't be just HER fruit roll up that was decimated. But no, she could not get over this horrible affront to her sensibilities, so I sent her to her room until lunchtime. She was still sniffly when she came upstairs for lunch, and the whole thing started over again when she learned she was not getting Princess Soup (chicken soup with the princess-theme noodles, WHAT A RACKET) but instead a sorry cheese sandwich and WOE, WHAT IS THIS, A CONCENTRATION CAMP??? 

Where Jack's Three was neverending corner-sitting (also somewhat like his Four and Five), Molly's is neverending DRAMZ. Add that to the reluctance to speak, the assuming you understand the most subtle of head movements and lowered lashes, the incessant tattling, let''s just say that four dollar chocolate bar I bought myself at the grocery store today was totally justified. 

(Also, it appears I now have a four dollar chocolate bar habit. THIS STUFF IS GOOD, PEOPLE.)

All right. Now quick, tell me what to do about Emma. 

Playing dress up

Dressing my kids is not my forte. Like, AT ALL. I was reminded of this tonight when Jack peeled off his jeans and there was a HOLE in the knee. 

How did that happen? I'm serious. My kids play hard, just like all the other kids, but I've been wearing MY jeans for YEARS and *I* have not busted through the knee. I call foul on Kid Clothes Makers. 

It doesn't matter, though, since those jeans were getting too short anyway. As was the long-sleeved shirt he wore today. Should I be able to see bare wrists? Then I remember: he IS turning five in May. He MAY be need to move up from 4T. 

(Length only, however. I'm pretty sure both my big kids would be fine with 18 month size waists.) 

But dressing them... I feel like this should be a FUN thing, but most of the time I am just BEWILDERED. For one thing, I can't tell with sizes. I would have sworn half the things I bought Molly last year would be huge and she'd be growing into them, but nope! Those super cute overalls with the embroidered pink hearts lasted all of two months. And there's no point in buying anything for them if the waist isn't adjustable. Even a regular elastic waist is often too big. So THAT is frustrating. 

Then there's the whole issue of buying a bunch of clothes they are going to 1) grow out of or 2) trash. So as much as I love all the matchy outfits at Gymboree and those miniBoden dresses (SWOON), my kids wear Target and Old Navy (good for skinny kids!) and whatever my mom finds on sale at KMart. I'm not picky. If it fits, they wear it! 

I do go through phases. Sometimes I get an email about a sale and I cannot help myself. Sometimes we need Easter dresses and wedding attire. And this last year I did preschool shopping in the fall and went a little nutso (although, when you require an entirely new wardrobe each year, you HAVE to go a little nutso at the outlet mall.) 

But trying to make them cute every day? SO BEYOND MY CAPABILITIES. 

I have Jack, who will wear anything I lay out for him, which is often a pair of fleece pants and whatever long-sleeved t-shirt is cleanest. Lately I've been making more of an effort to look in the closet and pull out a button down shirt or a polo for preschool days. He HAS those clothes, might as well WEAR them. The collared shirts plus the haircut have perhaps improved my standing in his teacher's eyes. 

Molly, on the other hand, has Strong Opinions. I have no energy to deal with those, so as long as what she wants to wear is clean, fits, and isn't one of her poofy dresses, she can wear it. I'd almost given up on making her wear jeans or regular pants (she prefers leggings, as those are "the pants that go with dwesses") although lately I've convinced her on the Old Navy skinnies. (Which are still falling off her barely-there bottom.) But things must be pink or have a certain flower on them or not be brown or SOMETHING IS ALWAYS WRONG WITH WHAT I PICK OUT and it is SO tiring. Today I told her that her panda bear dress was getting a little short (the SLEEVES are too short) and there were TEARS. Whatever. She wore it anyway. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting Looks for, ah, "indulging" Molly in her attire, but you pick your battles and this is not one of mine. 

If things match, if they are clean, if I can scrape Molly's hair off her forehead: that is a good day. 

I have no idea how people manage all these super put together kids. I know a few of them. I am BEFUDDLED. Their hair always looks like someone did more than run a wet comb through the front. Their clothes are from fancy stores. They look trendy. They have a style. Maybe I am just too busy watching TV? (Also, I can't even do this for MYSELF.)

Oh, and all the internet buying clothes in advance? Like next year's coat? Or super cheap pants that will fit in kindergarten? TOTALLY OVERWHELMING. I would forget. I would never remember where I PUT those clothes. I have a tiny stack of too-big clothes for each kid (usually gifts from extended family who have no idea what size they wear) that I keep in their respective closets. And whenever I do the too-small sorting (OH HOW I LOATHE THAT TASK) I try to remember to peek in the pile and see if there's anything that can be added to the drawers. But otherwise... just the storage and organization requirements feel burdensome. 

I think maybe this is just one of those things where I am irrationally overwhelmed, but without any inclination to do otherwise. I had thought, having a girl, I'd be dressing her cutesy every day, in matchy outfits with matchy hair accessories and always the right kind of shoe and never weird socks and she'd have PLENTY of these outfits. But I didn't count on how much work that is, let alone that my kid would have her own opinion. And also have hair that does not HOLD hair accessories. (Poor kid, just like her mother.) 


A fret over my girl

I need to worry over Molly here, for a little bit. 

So, as you know, I don't have a lot of principles regarding television. As in, I watch a lot of it (less now, because I'm SO TIRED all the time) and I've never been super restrictive about my kids watching TV. I like the IDEA of not watching TV, but that's never played out in our family. I can't remember exactly what it was like, but I'm pretty sure Jack watched a lot of TV when I was pregnant with Molly and when she was first born. As I mull this over I realize that there's been major TV escalation whenever something big was going on - a new baby, a move, a particularly rough week with grad school or business travel. In the rental house when I was pregnant with Emma and horribly (yet unknowingly!) anemic and required a two-hour nap every afternoon, my non-napper was watching PBSKids on the laptop. I'm not PROUD of it, but I don't feel that bad about it either. We get through the way we get through. 

We've had an iPad for about a year now and lo, all Cheungs with verbal ability worship at the altar of the iPad. It's stocked with nine zillion toddler-friendly games and, of course, Netflix. So the iPad became another way to watch TV. It actually became a way for me to nap without having to get up to start another show, because Jack quickly learned how to find shows and start new ones all by himself. Questionable parenting? Perhaps. But nothing was more important to me than that afternoon nap, people. NOTHING. 

So... I mostly feel okay about the TV watching. For whatever reason, my kids do not like watching movies. Perhaps this is because they've inherited their mother's gnat-like attention span. (And for the record, it's JACK who prefers 20 minute TV shows to long movies - who knows what Molly really thinks. She's basically a Jack Mini-Me.) So I don't have kids obsessed with Cars or Toy Story or any of that stuff, which is kind of nice. On the other hand, I have seen every episode of Busytown Mysteries at least twelve million times. But I feel like these little cartoons are sweet and half-educational and short and easy to stop and all that. They watch nice little preschooler shows and lately I've been MUCH better about limiting the TV to a certain time of day or for shorter amounts of time and all that. Probably because I am MUCH better at everything now that Emma is taking Actual Naps and only waking up once or twice at night. (THANK YOU, GOD.)

HOWEVER. Because I let them watch on the iPad, because I let them do it on their own, they've lately discovered two shows I don't like. One is the Power Rangers and the other is the Fresh Beat Band. 

Okay, so I feel guilty that I haven't been on top of WHAT they're watching. I mean, they have access to Netflix, they could be watching Louis CK for all I know. But seriously, they always ALLLLWAYS pick Busytown, Fishtronaut, or Dora. ALWAYS. So I haven't thought twice about it. 

But! Power Rangers! Jack is INTO the Power Rangers! And I'm just going to admit here that I know absolutely nothing about the Power Rangers. Perhaps it's totally fine for an almost five-year-old to watch the Power Rangers. I think I AM fine with it. But it's not a cartoon and it seems a little fighty and actiony and I wasn't sure if I was okay with MOLLY watching it (although, topic for another post: I usually make no distinction between their ages, SIGH.) I don't know. The jump from cutesy Busytown to heavily marketed Power Rangers seemed big to me. So after a week or so of being totally wishy washy about it, I finally said: No. We're not watching the Power Rangers. Because I am The Mom and I said so. 

Honestly, though, the Fresh Beat Band freaks me out WAY more than the Power Rangers. 

I mean, you guys have met Molly, right? This girl is super into clothes and shoes and the colors pink and purple and has decreed that only BOYS like blue and only GIRLS like pink and somehow she learned all the names of the Disney princesses and is obsessed with tutus and her princess dresses and this is overwhelming to me. On one hand, I almost encourage it. It's CRAZY FUN to buy dresses for your dress-enthused 3-year-old. On the other hand, I wonder where it all came from, I wonder what it means, I wonder if it's a phase, I wonder if she'll always be so clothes conscious, I wonder if Emma will be like that too, I wonder if I need to curtail it, I WONDER EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS GIRLY GIRL. Because I LOVE her and I love her girliness and I love that I get to be girly with her and I think she is ADORABLE. But it also WORRIES ME. 

And the Fresh Beat Band is not helping. The Fresh Beat Band is this REALLLLLY dumb show where 4 twenty-somethings are bopping around and making kiddie music and having hijinks and getting into scrapes and all that. It's not offensive or worrisome or violent or whatever. But it DOES feature these two super cute girls in super cute outfits and Molly knows their names and talks about which one is her favorite (the pink one, obvs) and how she likes that girl best and THIS FREAKS ME OUT. It freaks me out because I don't remember having a crush on a TV personality until Clarissa Explains It All. (Which I only got to watch in the summers when we came back to the states and I got to watch TV at my grandma's house where there was cable.) 

I WORSHIPED that long blond hair, you guys. I wanted to dress like her and BE her and while this wasn't particularly HARMFUL, I don't think, I was a MIDDLE SCHOOLER. I do not want my THREE-YEAR-OLD idolizing a Disney-fied (or is it Nick Jr-fied) twenty-something with impossible hair! OMG!

So I've laid down the law on that one too. No more Fresh Beat Band. Even though it's FOR little kids! I just can't. I can't! Is this overreacting? I just feel like Molly, Molly HERSELF, does not need more images of Pretty Girls in her life. She does not need to be MORE aware of hair and clothes and pinkness. I mean, I'm not going to throw out her Pinkalicious book and make her wear jeans every day, but I can control the media. I can control it right now, at least. 

I guess, at this moment, as I'm typing, I'm feeling bad. Because I was letting them watch these shows for a while before I realized I didn't like them. And then they were confused. I don't, like, feel bad for saying NO (I AM THE MOM!) but I feel bad for confusing them, for being illogical, for not knowing ahead of time. (STORY OF MY LIFE, HERE.) I feel like I should have been on top of this ball. And then - is it even a ball to be on top of? The Power Rangers? THE FRESH BEAT BAND? These are the grounds on which I've decided to stand firm? REALLY?

I feel like... I WANT to protect Molly from that Wanting To Be A Certain Kind Of Girl for as long as possible. Jack and the Power Rangers... maybe that's just me being silly or overreacting or not wanting to realize he's nearly FIVE. But Molly and the girls in the Fresh Beat Band, that is something I KNOW. I recognize it. It eventually happens to most girls. Molly doesn't know what's going on, but I do, and I may get suckered into buying her frilly dress upon hot pink tutu, but I'll shield her from Hannah Montana-ization until the absolute last moment. 

Not fun enough

My Molly is... 

Okay, so it's SUPER HARD for me to describe her on her own terms, without reference to Jack. (Same goes for Emma, without reference to Jack AND Molly.) Such is the trial of a not-first child? I don't know. 

Jack used to be timid and intimidated, but honestly it's been so long that I can barely remember him that way anymore. Those were the heydays of the Mom Group, full of super verbal little girls who bossed him around. But he's definitely his own little person now, with a large personality and a bigger smile. He's not the most outgoing or brave, but he's friendly and he wants to participate and he loves preschool. 

I never thought of Molly as timid. I still don't, really. What might look like timid is actually a strong sense of knowing what she does not want. She's always preferred to be near me (or ON me), ever since she was Emma's age! She's not into big groups or loud kids (her frequent preschool commentary: "There's too much kids") and if she's around a particularly boisterous or energetic kid, she sort of crawls into herself and, if I'm available, attaches herself to me. This goes doubly if Jack isn't around. She's braver about roller coasters and food and climbing, but not with people. 

I don't NEED her to go to preschool. And now that I've had a taste of Life With Three, I don't even really feel like I WANT her to go to preschool. Not for Third Baby Survival, anyway, like I thought. Jack - yes. Having Jack home 24/7, at this point, would probably kill us both. That kid needs stuff to DO. But Molly is a lot different - easier to occupy, happier to just be around. I mean, I want her to go if SHE wants to. I SO want her to go if it's a fun exciting thing. But I don't really think it is. 

And it's more than just the crying at drop off the other day. She OFTEN tells me she doesn't want to go. She often has nothing to say about it other than "there's too much kids". She's a barely-three in a class of four and five-year-olds. It's not necessary and if she tells me she doesn't want to go tomorrow morning, I won't make her go, and I'll probably call the school and take her out. (I am trying not to think about the Things They Will Think About Me, ie: what a dumb mother, kid freaks out once and she pulls her out, eye roll eye roll eye roll. SIGH.) 

It's just that preschool is SO unnecessary that there really isn't any point if she's not absolutely loving it. I thought it would be fun, but I don't think it is. Or it's not fun enough. Or staying home with me would be just as fun. So why bother? We can try again next year. Or we can look into ballet lessons in January. Or try preschool again at the community center where you have to sign up again every month. Or go to the gymnastics playroom on Saturdays with her dad. OR WHATEVER. There are so many things. Not just this thing. 

I try to permanent-fy my life the way I am attempting to permanent-fy my house. That's partly why this preschool schedule snafu was so distressing to me: Change! is Hard!

So we're not TOTALLY decided, but we are PRETTY MUCH decided. And I feel relieved and also stupid. I am always thinking I should have KNOWN. I should have KNOWN that such a big class would be hard for my little introvert! That just because she hangs out with her loud four-year-old brother doesn't mean she'll love hanging out with a whole bunch of loud four-year-olds who aren't her brother. This "should have known" thinking is such a THING with me. But I hate how KNOWING your things doesn't necessarily help you OUTGROW your things. 

Jack, meanwhile, is going to preschool tomorrow AND he has a field trip on Thursday AND he has school again on Friday. I am pretty sure Molly will decline school tomorrow, in which case she will be treated to a fun morning of Starbucks and Pier 1 and Christmas craftiness at home when I decide I cannot spend ninety-four dollars on a Pier 1 Christmas decoration. 

We will figure out what happens next after the holidays. After the Christmas party. After the Blathering launch! We certainly have enough to do right now. 

And I SO wonder who Emma will be...

Two Entirely Unrelated Topics, Yay Blog Storylines!

EJ is asleep! I know! I can type with TWO HANDS!!!

Tonight's first topic: My Name. (Because this website is about meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!) 

No, really. Did I tell you I am going to Palm Springs in January? With two friends? And my baby? I am going to Palm Springs! ANYWAY. One of these friends is buying our plane tickets tonight and she called me to verify my Official Details. And while I was spelling M-A-R-G-A-R-E-T she was saying, "That is SO not your name. I could never call you that! That is not your name!" 

AND YET! IT IS! No one has ever CALLED me Margaret, not when they weren't trying to be cute at least. But it's there on all my documents. There were times when I thought I could reinvent myself as Margaret - going to college, for example. A new job. And I sometimes think that if I ever write a book I will splash MARGARET all over the cover. But for right now the Margaret is pretty useless. 

My mom has a name which is often a shorter version of a long name, BUT. The shorter name is HER NAME. Apparently this drove her crazy all her life, all these people saying, "Now, MILLIE, is that short for MILLICENT?" (note: my mother's name is not Millie) so when she decided to name me Maggie, she also decided I would have the Full Version. 

(My mother is now reading this and saying, "THAT'S NOT HOW IT WENT" but that is the version of events with which I am familiar!)

I've never been a huge FAN of Margaret either. I am hearing my name on the playground occasionally (both Maggie and Margaret) and several of YOU have little Margarets... I can say I've never been a huge fan because it's MY NAME, right? Anyway. Where do you fall on giving someone a name no one will ever call them? I mean, it's not like how Lizzie is pretty obviously from Elizabeth (or Millie from Millicent!) and people use both (ish). Then again, it's not as much of a stretch as PEGGY... I sort of like having an Official Version, you know. For when I meet the President, maybe. But I can't ever imagine telling friends and family to call me Margaret. Even when I'm an old lady! (BECAUSE MARGARET IS AN OLD LADY NAME!) (SORRY, READERS WHO HAVE MARGARETS!) (HEY, I NAMED MY KID EMMA! ALSO AN OLD LADY NAME!)

All right, Topic Number Two. Preschool. 95% of you just fled. BUT STICK AROUND! THIS IS INTERESTING!

At drop off today, Molly started to cry. She has never cried at drop off. She has not always been super enthusiastic about GOING, but she's never CRIED and I've ALWAYS been able to talk her into it. But today she kept giving me excuses ("Mommy, I have too many coughs!") (except she's no sicker than she was last week or the week before that - stupid all-through-winter runny nose!) Anyway, she was having none of my Preschool Cheer and the tears started falling. Then her teacher came over and picked her up and talked about the fun things they were going to do that day and I quickly slid away. 

But I stuck around. In the stairwell. Listening to my daughter BAWL. 

So I kind of tip toed back and looked in and she didn't see me. She was still sobbing, the teacher still trying to engage her and I just felt HORRIBLE. I walked back in and told the teacher I was taking Molly home. The teacher told me she's never seen Molly act that way before (which is good! right?!) and maybe she was sicker than she seemed, or the Thanksgiving break threw her off. 

It could be one or all of those things, I suppose. I decided not to run the handful of errands I wanted to do and instead came home and did a Christmas crafty thing with Molly. Then she played in the playroom while I used the treadmill. We had snacks. We played with Emma. We walked to pick up Jack and then had lunch. A pretty nice morning. 

And now I am thinking... what if she didn't go to preschool? I mean, she's not in preschool because I am bound and determined to make sure she can skip ahead to second grade or anything. She's there because JACK went when he was three and ALL LAST YEAR she would say, "When I three, I go to preschool!" I also thought it would be a good break for me, to just have the baby. Also I thought she would LIKE IT. You know, make messes without getting yelled at by her crotchety mother. 

But... I am wondering if she does? She's never cried until today, but she's never seemed to enjoy it as much as Jack. There are a LOT of kids in her class and most of them are older. She's never super excited to go. Then again, she seems to have fun! She likes her teachers, she likes the projects, she talks about it. Just... not as much as Jack, who really LOVES going to school. 

Would she be going to preschool at age 3 if she was my first kid? I don't know. Molly mostly likes to hang out with ME. 

So right now I am strongly considering taking her out. She's only THREE. If she's not loving it, then I don't want to pay for it! And having her home with me wouldn't be a hassle. She's SO much easier to occupy than Jack - plus she always wants to help me fold laundry and she always wants to go shopping, the two things I tend to do during preschool time. Today I even used the treadmill with her in the next room. So it would be fine to have her home. 



Blogger Unnapped

Molly's been doing this thing where I put her down for her nap aaaaand she decides not to sleep. This would be the worst thing in the world if it weren't for the fact that I already have a no-napper and I've grown accustomed to the annoyance. She's not really ready to give it up though - most no-nap days dissolve into puddles of irrational tears and hysterics that would drive me through the roof if she wasn't so pitiful-looking. (Well, sometimes I DO let it drive me through the roof, only to get the biggest guilt trip of a lifetime when the teeny weeny pathetic little three-year-old looks up at me with her huge tears and quivering bottom lip and says, "Mommy I not FEELING good!")

So when Emma didn't sleep well on Thanksgiving Eve at my parents' house or Thanksgiving night at my brother's house or Friday night in her own house, and when I was still staying up late to work on my own stuff and getting up early to take care of the big kids, I thought perhaps I might be tired. And when I spent all of Saturday morning trying to get Emma to take a nap and she wouldn't and I had to put her down and pound my fist into a pillow a few times, and then an hour or so later when Phillip said, "Okay, so the kids are getting hungry..." in that "so what are you going to do about it?" voice and I had to run into another room so I wouldn't burst out crying in front of my in-laws who were visiting... YEAH. I sat sobbing on Molly's bed while she picked out her outfit for that day and thinking to myself, "I need to stop skipping my nap."

Phillip, who at that point would have taken me on an all expenses paid trip to Ikea, The Resort if it would stop the snippy, kept telling me to TAKE a nap. To lie down with the baby. To fall asleep in the chair. But I really really really didn't want to take a nap. What I wanted to do was get all the stuff done that I wanted to DO. 

Which we did. I gave up trying to get Emma to sleep and decided it would be okay if my mother-in-law held her all day long. (She did.) But this is how we moved the kids' beds into the empty bedroom downstairs, moved the extra bed and the crib into their old room upstairs, built an Ikea dresser, moved the old one downstairs PLUS all sorts of smaller projects in between, like more-permanently hanging the felt board and putting up some pictures in the blue room next to the kitchen and sorting some clothes and organizing the playroom. We did SO MUCH WORK on Saturday. So much work. And honestly, that was better than any nap. I was on a freaking organization HIGH Saturday night. 

And even now, on Sunday night, when I am still SO TIRED and yet got SO MUCH DONE - people, I sorted ALL THE CLOTHES and put them in their PROPER PLACES - I am still thinking this is better than a nap. 

I don't quite get myself... I am the laziest person on earth, I really am, but then nothing makes me feel quite like having all the Things in their Places. We're finally using the whole house and the kids are in the place they'll be for the next several years and I hung up some pictures in the kitchen and did I tell you we bought our couch? WE BOUGHT OUR COUCH. All of this stuff makes me feel SO much better. Like I'm on this quest for The Way It Will Be. I want this thing to be in the place where it will be until the kids move me into The Home. 

I used to feel like I needed to move every two years. I hear "third culture children" and military brats, even quasi-military brats like myself, tend to feel this way. They get an Itch. But not anymore, dude. Now I'm all, "This is where the picture is going to hang for the NEXT FIFTY YEARS."

Our Thanksgiving was really nice, if you want to know. It helps to have siblings who like to get together and fun cousins who bring Bananagrams (AM NOW OBSESSED WITH BANANAGRAMS) and adorable children running around and an older generation to make fun of and chocolate OMG THE CHOCOLATE. My brother, who hosted, had a whole tin of fancy chocolate-covered cookies, then a giant dish of Hawaiian chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, then a pho-sized bowl of Reese's Pieces AND sugar cookies smothered in said Reese's Pieces and this was all before we even had dinner. NO I DID NOT WEIGH IN YET. But I've been doing Weight Watchers all week (except Thanksgiving, obvs, when Chocolate Ruled) and I'm hopeful for the morning weigh in. STAND BY, FAT WATCHERS!

I am now going to wake up my baby (!!!) (she didn't sleep all day) (until I took her on a Therapeutic Trip to Target and fell asleep in the car seat and is STILL IN THE CAR SEAT) so I can feed her and watch The Good Wife and revel in the house that continues to morph into the home I've always wanted.

Silver linings

I took the baby out tonight (out! oh no!) to see friends and eat giant chocolate parfaits from Whole Foods. Recommend. It didn't QUITE make up for missing dinner with my fellow Blathering organizers, but I hadn't seen THESE friends in forever either and it was nice to catch up. It also helps that they are only interested in my blawg and internet friends to the extent that they have to listen politely when I talk about it. 

AND! Molly went to bed without her pacifier for the first time tonight, and Phillip and I had nothing to do with it. So the whole pacifier thing... YES we are WELL AWARE that Three Plus is too old, it could mess up her teeth, blah blah blah. She only gets it when she sleeps and it generally falls out of her mouth, so I've never been worried about it. Also, I'm incredibly lazy and the thought of taking it away just made me weep with exhaustion. 

Before Emma was born we talked up The Passo Fairy a LOT. This is what we did with Jack - when he turned three we boxed up the pacifiers and told them the Passo Fairy would take them away and leave him a present. That went over pretty well and he never had a problem. But Molly seems to be as attached to her pacifier as Jack is to his teddy bear (which is funny, because I would have hacked off an arm to get Molly to take a pacifier when she was an infant). Then Emma arrived and taking the pacifier away just seemed like a rotten idea. Transitioning to big sisterhood AND no passo? 

But for some reason Molly brought it up on her own today. She wants to give all the pacifiers to Emma. She wanted to give HER pacifier to Emma. And I said fine! Except that meant she wouldn't get one for her nap or at bedtime. And Molly said fine! And I thought Yeah Right. 

It didn't work at naptime. Well, it might have, if I'd been stricter or had more energy, but honestly, these big kids are making me a little nuts and I am all about whatever makes the whining stop fastest. But then I went out to see friends and when I got home Phillip looked at me incredulously and said, "Molly! Gave up! Her passo!" 

We'll see how it goes. She's not asleep YET. And sometimes she'll wake up in the night asking for it. And tomorrow we're driving to the pumpkin patch near my parents and she almost always wants her pacifier when we're driving home at night. WE SHALL SEE. 

Emma continues to be a doll baby. I mean, she's kinda stinky and yesterday I gave up somewhere around the two dozenth wipe and finally stuck the kid under the bathtub faucet to clean her off. But she's generally quiet and goodnatured and eats and doesn't bug me much. And she was amenable to her older brother and sister treating her like one of the dolls earlier today. They got to play house with a REAL baby and when I finally snatched her away Jack said, "Mommy, that was SO MUCH FUN!" Hee!

She's grunting and tooting up a storm over here, so I better go see what that's about. I hope you have a great weekend - especially if you're at the Blathering. I'm so excited for you first timers. Super bummed I won't get to meet you, but so excited to read your blogs on Monday!

Just a typical Saturday morning

"Molly, what's wrong?"

Photo (6)

"Don't like this, Mommy."

"Don't like what?"

"Don't want to wear this."

"How come? What's wrong?"

"I want to wear a dress."

"But that's a skirt! A cute skirt!" 

"It's not cute, Mommy."



"What dress do you want to wear?"

"This one."

"That's a fancy dress for church. What about this one?"

"No. Want this one."

"That is ALSO a fancy dress for church. We're not wearing that today."

"Want to wear my Easter dress."

"NO, MOLLY. What about this one?"



"So how come you don't like your butterfly shirt? And your little skirt? It's cute! You look cute!"

"It's not a cute DRESS, Mommy. Want to wear a cute DRESS."

Photo (7)

She is not even three, people. NOT EVEN THREE. 

Rage tempered by fumes

I yelled a lot today. Would you like to hear about it? 

The morning was fine, which was good because for some reason I was OUT OF IT all morning. I remember having some intense dream (all my dreams are intense lately, ugh) and then suddenly I had this thought: there are brownies! in the kitchen! Yes. I thought this. SUE ME. Then it occurred to me if I got up RIGHT THEN, I could eat brownies for breakfast without the children catching me. Possibly I need to go to Carbs Anonymous?

So anyway, I stumbled out of bed, half awake, for BROWNIES. Although honestly, is there really a better reason? But either I woke up too soon or too fast because I was only halfway present in the real world for a good solid hour or two. I managed to get the kids breakfast and all that, and thank goodness they decided to have one of their great big imaginary games instead of bickering at each other all morning because SERIOUSLY, I was SPACED OUT.

So I don't think the yelling started until lunch time. I gave Molly some yogurt, and as she is wont to do with yogurt or anything drippy and wet, some of it plopped on the table. No big deal. But by the time I got to the table to clean it up, Molly had smudged it EVERYWHERE, with her PALM and was looking at me like, "No biggie, Mom, I'm just furthering my creativity" and I was mad. MAD. The child is nearly three. She's been eating yogurt on her own for a LONG TIME. She shouldn't have it smeared all over hands and face and my TABLE.

Then, as I am wont to do, I barked at her and harrumphed and carried on and roughly wiped her up and ordered her to her room. Whereupon, of course, she started to cry. And that just made me angrier. 


And she shuffled off (Molly always makes certain you know that she really doesn't want to do whatever you are ordering her to do) and I fumed and raved to myself and then I hear her crying take on a different tone. A tone I am quite familiar with, yet one I still don't manage to tend to in time. The cry that says, "I'm really upset! So upset I'm going to PEE MY PANTS!"

Which she did. All over her bed. And you thought I was mean and yelly BEFORE. 

Oh man. I am just DONE with this potty training thing. DOOOOOONE. I swear we've been doing this for a year. I am totally willing to say it's my fault, that I started too early, that she wasn't ready blah blah blah. But you know what? I would have sworn she WAS ready. 

I have to say that 90% of the time she uses the potty. And ever since we started using Miralax on a regular basis (SORRY FUTURE MOLLY) we haven't had to deal with days on end of, well, TRAUMA. But she is MOST unwilling to use the potty for THOSE occasions and then there are her random... spells. The times when she gets upset. The times she forgets. The times it just appears that she doesn't CARE. 

I know you aren't supposed to go off on a kid who just wet her pants but BY GOLLY I WANTED TO. I just feel like: YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO! YOU KNOW! YOU KNOOOOOOW! And I am SO SICK of cleaning up! GAH! 

I also know that potty training is one of those things even super bloggers choose not to write about, but I'm just gonna say that this is all YOUR fault, Molly. You are KILLING ME WITH THIS. 

The other night I turned to Phillip and said, "Remember when she just wouldn't walk? Like she knew what to do, and she knew that we knew that she knew what to do, but she just WOULDN'T? And when she wouldn't go to bed before midnight? No matter what we tried? She just WOULDN'T? Do you think this is the same kind of thing? IN WHICH CASE WE ARE SCREWED?"

I was so furious and yelly and because I KNEW I was furious and yelly I gave myself a time out. I flopped on my bed and my kids started playing nicely again and I just laid there. Dead to the world. DEPRESSED. 

Eventually I got up and sent Molly to bed and decided to be a half decent mother and play puzzles with my boy, who is quite good at puzzles and everything was okay as long as I mentally turned his voice down and concentrated on matching the dress pieces to the Disney princess face pieces. Eventually Phillip's parents came over to visit and I left the chatty kid with them while I went to, wait for it, HOME DEPOT to buy, yes you're right, MORE SPRAY PAINT OMG I HAVE A PROBLEM. 

(I decided to paint my espresso-colored West Elm desk white. Just go with this. And don't freak out like my FIL about the pregnant and spray painting thing because I bought myself a MASK and I do it on the deck and I take frequent breathers on the far side of the deck and really I think I am QUITE SAFE.) (But I do love how FIL didn't say anything DIRECTLY to me, but kept nudging MIL to lecture me instead. Which she did not. Ahem.)

I don't know. It just made me feel LESS depressed to have a PROJECT. 

And everything was going fine and the kids were happy and FIL and MIL were occupied. But then it was time to meet Phillip at the restaurant and the kids went downstairs to put on their shoes while I headed to the bathroom to put on my third or fourth application of undereye concealer that day I hear my darling little boy say, "Ye Ye, you're STUPID!" Giggle giggle giggle. 

I waited for Ye Ye to haul off and dropkick the child to the moon, but Ye Ye just mumbled something or other. Then I heard my sweet little boy say, "Nai Nai, YOU'RE stupid!" Giggle giggle giggle.

And Nai Nai, being Nai Nai, just said something like, "Oh Jack, that's not very nice, here, let me tie your shoe," and suddenly I realize I am standing there with my undereye concealer while I obviously need to go do the dropkicking myself. 

So I threw my makeup in the drawer and stomped down the stairs and YANKED the precious boy away from his grandmother and half-dragged him into the guest bedroom and in my best imitation of my dad's you-are-dead-meat voice I told him that under NO circumstances was that an appropriate thing to say EVER and if I EVER heard him say that again I would find a nice Dickensian orphanage for him to live in and OMG I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU SAID THAT TO YOUR GRANDPARENTS!!!!

Jack, at least, was properly horrified, mortified, terrified, all the appropriate -fieds. And you know, I'm not even sure he knows what stupid MEANS. I've been trying to think of any time anyone has used that word around him and I'm realizing that I often use it in reference to, ah, other drivers. Like, I will make some Frustrated Noise and Jack will say, "What's wrong?" and I will say, "That other driver is being STUPID!" (Which is always true, obvs.) 

So at the very least he knows it's not a NICE thing to say, which, honestly, is enough grounds for selling to gypsies. His GRANDPARENTS! I wanted to die. Die! Although I'm sure they thought I blew it out of proportion and when I brought him back they were all about wanting him to stop crying and I was still all "NO! STOP BEING NICE TO HIM!"

SIGH. After dinner I came home and put another coat of white paint on my desk while Phillip dealt with the Pee-er and the Stupid-er. 

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Phillip and I are leaving on Thursday (Thursday!) for a little two-night jaunt down to Portland. BY OURSELVES. We originally planned to go to San Francisco, but dear God have you seen plane ticket prices? Then we were going to drive to Vancouver BC but oops, someone's passport expired. Portland, quite frankly, did not sound all that exciting to me, but then we decided to take the train and suddenly I am all I WILL HAVE HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS TO READ AND NAP AND IT WILL BE GLORIOUS. Plus I have this foodie friend who sent me the biggest list of restaurants in the WORLD and the top one is a Thai restaurant and maybe you do not know this but I am Vegetarian Pad Thai With Deep Fried Tofu's biggest fan. We're pretty excited about it. 

The BAD news is that the day after we get back, Phillip is going on a week-long business trip. SOB. Obvs I will need a REALLY big project for next week. I'm thinking about painting my bedroom, but don't tell FIL because when I told him I'd have to use the big ladder he nearly fainted. 

(P.S. I KNOW FIL is right, I do I do, but I am 1) getting all NESTY and 2) in possession of a new house and I swear it's impossible not to visit Home Depot every single day. It's like my new Target. HELP ME!)