May 07, 2010

Rain, Rain, Bugger Off.

It's raining. This sucks. The weatherman did tell me it would rain, but I wrote him a letter saying I didn't want it to, and included a petition signed by more than a thousand fictional people who agreed with me. He obviously didn't read it, because it still rained, despite my protest.

Mia seems convinced it would still be a fun idea to go outside, where it's absolutely gushing down rain and there are gale-force winds blowing at about three-hundred miles an hour. I'm afraid if I let her go out, she'll either be swept up by a gust of wind and carried away to Kansas, or a house will blow down right on top of her, showing only her curled-up red-and-white-striped socks.

Bram is so stir-crazy, he's bouncing off the walls. I decide to take them for a drive to distract them, and on the way back from going nowhere, I think it would be fun to make a sort of roller-coaster ride out of it by applying the breaks a few times in a row so we'd all lurch forward, as I cry over-enthusiastically 'Weeeee! So much fuuuun!' I find out the hard way that this was a very poor idea because Bram barfed his breakfast all over the floor as soon as we walked back in the house.

Now, Bram is creating a 'no-environment' for himself by doing all the naughty things he knows he's not supposed to do in a row. Mia is complaining that she has an owie on her foot and needs a band-aid pronto. Upon inspection, I see that her wound is nothing more than a freckle. I try to explain to Mia what a freckle is, by showing her the one on my face. She persists that it still hurts, and is now convinced mama needs a band-aid too. Mia is pleased, since her owie has miraculously healed once the band-aid is applied. I am not so pleased, since I'll be wearing a band-aid on my face for the rest of the day.

I decide now to preoccupy them by reviving the toys in the toy box in the kids' room. It's something I've been procrastinating because the toy box is so full of toys, it's actually quite dangerous to try to take one out. All the toys are piled on top of one another so precariously, that if someone were to disturb the pile by, for example, breathing too close to it, the toys would in all likelihood cascade on top of them and bury them alive. The only way to actually play with any of the toys is to dump the entire contents of the toy box onto the floor. This on its own provided some entertainment, and the kids actually started playing with stuff they hadn't seen since they were newborns. Success!

Now is a perfect opportunity to get some mialeentje marketing done! I switch on the computer and am about to go online when I realize I don't hear anything. Oh my god, it's silent... Have they killed each other?

I go in the room to check, which I should never do. As soon as she sees me, Mia decides her owie hurts again and starts crying. Misery loves company, so Bram decides he too is unhappy with the current activity. They both need a hug simultaneously, but do not feel like sharing mama or taking turns, resulting in some pushing, a significant amount of screaming and a whole lot of discontentment in general. I need to come up with a new activity, stat.

Jumping on the bed! They love to jump on the bed. I lure them to the bedroom and initiate the fun by jumping on the bed myself. Mia joins me without hesitation, but Bram looks a little apprehensive. Suddenly, I am regretting this idea, for fear that too much verticle motion might cause him to repeat this morning's barfing incident. I decide to take the risk and help Bram up onto the bed, figuring if he spews, it's about time I change the bed sheets anyway.

So we start jumping. Giggles and smiles fill the room and, for about thirty-five seconds, things are good. Then, I witness the inevitable - Mia and Bram bump heads. I should've seen it coming, since their heads are proportionally huge as it is, and the way they were cavorting all over the place, it was bound to happen. There was a millisecond of silence before Mia started wailing like a banshee. Bram (who is blessed with a titanium alloy skull) simply shook it off and immediately began jumping again, which caused Mia to fall off the bed and wail even harder. One more band-aid, coming up.

Now it's finally time for Bram's nap. Best case scenario, Bram goes down for a couple hours so I'll only have one child's needs to cope with. But Bram is two, which by definition means he will not do anything I want him to do. He has his own agenda, which would be fine if he were a 42-year-old man in a suit and tie, but not when he is a two-year-old boy who needs his diaper changed. Naturally, on this particular rainy day, Bram did not agree with my plan of going down for a nap. I put him to bed anyway, and subsequently listen to him lament for an hour from the confines of his crib. If he had an aluminum mug, you can bet he'd be banging it against the rungs of his prison-like confinement. I, on the other hand, was ready to pull my hair out at the sounds he was making. After much suffering and plugging of ears, I give in and take him out of bed. He was a free man.

A DVD it is, then. Which Disney favorite will it be this time? I may be the one with the remote, but Mia is the one with the power:
Me: 'Okay, kids, time for... Wall-E!'
Mia: (throwing her head back in protest) 'Noooooo! No Wauweeee!!'
Me: 'Okay kids, time for... Toy Story!'
Mia: (rolling over in agony) 'Nooooo! No Toyshoriee!'
Me: 'Okay, kids, time for... Finding Nemo!'
Mia: (getting impatient and irritable) 'Nooo-ooooo! No Nee-moooo!'
Me: 'Okay, Mia what do you want to see?!'
Mia: 'Doggie.'
Me: 'Sweetie, we have fifty different movies about doggies - which one do you want to see?'
Mia: (disappointed in mama, who is obviously not good at mind-reading at all)'Dogg-gie!'
Me: 'Okay kids, time for... Bolt!'
Mia: (throwing her head back and close to tears) 'Nooo! No doggieeee!'

Rather than going into a discussion with her about her definition of a doggie, I decide to put on a more challenging movie to get them completely engrossed: 'The Dark Crystal'. (If you don't remember this mid-80's movie because you were either too stoned, or not interested in the whole Jim Henson-plus-Brian Froud-equals-mystical-muppets thing, it's a semi-dark, rather weighty fantasy movie with extravagant muppets and Frank Oz does his falsetto voice for about 98% of the characters.) 'The Dark Crystal' works like a charm. Both kids are glued to the TV, overwhelmed by the bizarre puppet-critters and trippy colors. This should hold them for a good half hour at least. Okay, back to that marketing I need to do.

Instead of doing any marketing, though, I write this blog post. I am aware of the precious time I am wasting, but I can't seem to stop writing. They say you should never snuff out the flames of inspiration, and knowing me, the content of this post will keep me awake tonight if I don't get it off my chest. It's still raining, the kids are quickly losing interest in the freaky muppets and I am running out of ideas. On top of that, the weatherman is predicting rain all week. I'll just have to write another letter to him. Will you sign my petition?

May 06, 2010

The Urinator, Awaaaaay!

In an attempt to get involved in the coincidental theme that my two favorite bloggers, Patricia and Jacob have unintentionally initiated, I am dedicating this particular post to a phenomenon with which I have recently had to cope with on a whole new level: my son Bram's 'piemie'. (I just can't bring myself to call it by its official name yet - he's still my baby...!)

Bram has been aware of his fascinating appendage for some time now, a fact I have tried not to pay too much attention to, for fear it become an obsession before he's even anywhere near puberty. But, I realize it's a part of his body like any other, and should be explored in a healthy way - like my mother said, 'It's just as important as his nose!' (Well, perhaps it's just a bit more important.)

The discovery of his piemie and all it can do is just as interesting for me as it is for little Bram, but it doesn't make my job any easier. What is my job as Bram's mom? Essentially it's to provide food for him to eat, a place for him to sleep, a lap for him to sit on and clean diapers about every fifteen minutes. You see, Bram's piemie might be the size of a slightly overweight earthworm, but he has the peeing capacity of a drunken British football hooligan on vacation in Ibiza.

Bram can pee through anything. The force with which the pee shoots out of his piemie is something a Jedi knight would be jealous of. It doesn't matter what kind of magical mega-absorbing brand diaper I put on him, he can still manage to pee right through it, as well as several more layers, at a time. Nothing escapes the wrath of Bram's pee - his diaper, his PJs, his sleeping bag, his sheets and the protective spongey layer on top of his mattress which is meant to absorb the excess pee. Bram's pee penetrates this layer with no difficulty whatsoever and continues to leak about three inches deep into the mattress.

Now, the crazy thing is, his diaper his more often than not virtually dry even though his clothes look like he just dove into Niagra falls. How can this possibly be?! It can only mean one thing: Bram has been blessed with the super-human strength of Power Peeing. Maybe this is the reason why he still hasn't started talking yet - he's been too busy developing his peeing-power, which will undoubtedly aide him in saving the planet one day. I can just hear the cries of citizens in distress crying out,
'Is it a leaking faucet?!
Is it a hole in the roof?!
It's Bram - The Urinator!'

The first thing that I am met with when I go into his bedroom in the mornings is an overwhelming aroma of boy-pee. So obviously, Bram has either peeed through everything again, or a bum has been living undetected under Bram's crib for the past month. Well, there ain't no bum under there. Bram is just so happy to see me, he starts jumping up and down in a puddle of his own piddle. The only thing he wants is for me to pick him up so we can have a big morning cuddle, but his entire body is soaked with slightly luke-warm pee. Naturally, my maternal instincts outweigh my desire to remain pee-free, so we cuddle. As you've probably guessed by now, Bram isn't the kind of man who does things half-heartedly, including cuddling. I get the biggest squeezes in the mornings from Bram, which is the best, but they do tend to make his pee to leak through my bathrobe and onto my PJs as well! Like I have nothing better to do than run yet another load of wash! I mean, I need to watch Columbo re-runs and pick the balls of my sweater, for starters!

This summer, we plan to start Bram's potty-training. I pray to the Mother God (that's the Big Man's assistant, who was hired specifically to watch over moms in particular) that Bram's Power-Pee won't destroy us all in the process. To be honest, I'm a little concerned for my safety and the preservation of my house - what if he pees a hole in the wall or something? I've never potty-trained someone with super-human powers before. I'd better go join that 'parents of super-human power-peers' support-group on Facebook. Any tips from people with super-human power themselves are more than welcome!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have laundry to do.

May 04, 2010

Letting Go (the Skinny Of It)

Now before you click away this post, let me reassure you: this is not going to be about my journey of self-exploration that got me from the total mess of a human being to the well-balanced Martha Stewart-like person that I am today. It's about my body and how I seem to be letting go of it, or rather, how it seems to be letting go of me. (Okay, men, feel free to click away now - unless you want me to let you in on an age-old femine secret that will undoubtedly aide you in understanding the female psyche once and for all.)

The other day, I was going to take a shower. Just as I was undressing, my son Bram barged into the bathroom, which, incidentally, is something we encourage in the hopes this will familiarize him with the concept of doing pee-pee on the potty. Anyway, he barged in and saw me naked. He has seen me in the nude before, but now that he is a bit older and has developed some more brain cells, he must've experienced it on a different level. If you're wondering what he did, I'll tell you: he laughed. Seeing me in my birthday suit made my two-year-old son crack up.

Now, I am well aware that my son's uninhibited sense of humor should not in any way be a device with which to measure my own self-confidence, and yet I felt compelled to take a scrutinizing look at the fleshy exterior I had admittedly been neglecting the past few years.

 Hello, full-length mirror. Behind the greasy fingerprints and drool smears (I mean on the mirror), I managed to get a good look at my body. There I was, looking to me something like Mrs. Potato Head with a couple of tea bags dangling from her shoulders. Where the heck did my boobs go? I was sure I had them last year... Not to mention my waist - it seems to have packed up and left town, leaving lots of room for the rif-raf to move in and start constructing mega apartment buildings. Dare I turn around? I dare. Lord, there are less craters on the surface of the moon! Okay, let's move away from this particular hemisphere. What the -! Is that long, wirey grey hair actually growing out of my scalp?! Omg, there's another one. And another! Since when did I have grey hairs?! Wait, when did I stop dying my hair? A-ha. Mystery solved.

Has it really come this far? Have I actually let myself go? Is this the fate that every engaged man dreads his wife-to-be will someday succumb to? I sucked in my gut - that looks a bit better. But how long can I actually go around without breathing? Not long enough. Seeing as I was already in the process of torturing myself, I decided to pull out that one piece of clothing and subject myself to the test that will determine whether or not I should send myself off to a fat-farm this very afternoon. Yes, (ladies, you know what I'm talking about) it was time for the 'skinny me jeans' test.

Every woman has a pair of jeans she wore long, long ago when she was young and thin, affectionately known as her 'skinny me jeans'. These jeans may never be discarded, since they are required for a periodic trying-on session; the result of which can cause the woman in question to be hurled into a fit of either unadulterated rapture or send her careening into a full-blown depression.

Every now and then, (coincidentally, just around the time the woman in question is about to get her period) the 'skinny me jeans' emerge. The trying-on commences. One foot goes in. The anticipation builds. The other foot goes in. Suspense can be cut with a knife. The jeans get pulled up, slowly, gradually, until they reach that oh-so crucial point: the lower thighs. Oh, fellow pear-shaped ladies, how we loathe those lower thighs! If the jeans can't even make it over the lower thighs, you can pretty much forget trying to get them up at all. If that happens, you've failed the 'skinny me jeans' test and you might as well go and eat an entire cheesecake.

So there I was, trying to pull on my 'skinny me jeans'. The pulling continued. The pulling became jerking. Jerking turned into wrenching. I had reached my mid-lower-thigh area and was starting to chafe my skin. I had no choice but to proceed with the 'lying down on the bed and yanking' method (see, I'm not making this up - if there's a copyrighted stock photo of it online, then it's true). I threw myself down on the bed, sucked my gut in so far I was close to imploding, and started yanking. I cringed, I grimaced, I broke a nail. But my efforts were not in vain. Hallelujah! I made it over my upper-thighs! My 'skinny me jeans' were on! Now came the next obstacle... zipping the fly.

Instead of getting up from the bed and letting gravity have an adverse effect on my accomplishments thus far, I decided to remain lying down in the sucked-in-gut position to attempt zipping up my beloved 'skinny me jeans'. This was a momentous occasion in itself, considering the number of times my 'skinny me jeans' and I even made it this far. It was a delicate procedure, seeing as vulnerable tummy flab could potentially get caught in the zip, resulting in physical as well as emotional agony. I felt for that oh-so familiar zipper-puller thingy and started to zip. Nothing happened. For a moment, I considered forgoing this stage of the test and just wearing an extremely long, baggy sweater over the unzipped 'skinny me jeans'. But I knew it wouldn't fly. My conscious simply wouldn't allow it. I pressed on. The zipper began to move. And under the control of my steady hand and my relentless determination to succeed, it zipped.

Now, don't think I could actually stand up at this point. My 'skinny me jeans' were on, and zipped, but that didn't mean I could actually wear them in public. The excess skin that had been forced upwards was now hanging over the waistband of my 'skinny me jeans' in such a mass that no sweater I owned could conceal it. Not to mention the fact that the 'skinny me jeans' were rapidly cutting off the circulation to my upper body.

What mattered was that I had passed the 'skinny me jean' test. This time. After more pulling and perspiring, I managed to get my 'skinny me jeans' off again, folded them neatly and returned them to the back of my closet, where they will remain until the next time my self-image is in doubt (which should be some time next week).

May 03, 2010

It's 'A-Parent'...

So, my husband and I went on a date. Yes, an actual date, away from our home and our kids. Now, I know you're asking yourself: 'Are parents actually allowed to go out anywhere without their children??' It's indeed a common misconception that parents, as individuals, have needs that do not in any way involve their kids. Be this as it may, my husband and I found at one point that we simply could not justify not going out.

Because we are married, my husband and I need to talk about and justify everything we do before we do it. Going out on a date without sufficient reason to do would simply be unacceptable. Last December, when I turned 34, I suggested my husband take me out to celebrate. At the time, however, both kids were down with the swine flu, so that didn't happen. Then, our wedding anniversary came around, which was arguably a perfect opportunity to go out. But, for reasons I can't remember, we didn't go out again. Then it was my husband's birthday, and we didn't go out. Then a whole series of occasions came and went, ranging from semi- to very special, and when we added these to the list of special occasions we hadn't celebrated in the past six months, we decided we couldn't justify procrastinating any longer. We had to go out.

Once the reason to go out was established, we reviewed the criteria that a parent must meet before even considering the possibility of going on a date:
1) You need a babysitter.
2) You need money to pay the babysitter and still be able to afford to go out.
3) You need to be able to stay awake long enough to go out, complete the date and come back home.

We finally decided, after some diplomatic contemplation and discussion, that we met the criteria. On a date, we would go.

I capitalized on this opportunity to squeeze myself into something sexy for our date. Since becoming a mom, my wardrobe has gone through a rigorous transmutation - what used to be a closet full of slinky, close-fitting garments now consists exclusively of baggy jeans and bally sweaters. Fortunately, the sentimental sap in me held on to a little black dress or two; neither of which fit. In fact, nothing in my closet seemed to fit. I finally settled on skinny jeans, paired with a loose-fitting but semi-transparant black top with only minimal traces of Bram's dried snot on it. I couldn't resist polishing off the ensemble with a pair of heels that had been slowly gathering moss at the bottom of my closet. I was dressed, and I felt completely uncomfortable. Mission accomplished.

Once the babysitter arrived, my husband and I proceeded to drill her on the do's and don'ts essential to the survival of an evening with our children. I stuck post-its with detailed instructions on everything I thought the babysitter might come in contact with, then duplicated these instructions again onto a piece of paper which I put on the fridge. We made sure she understood some crucial facts about our children, for example, that Bram will want to watch 'Toy Story' exactly three times in a row, and Mia will only drink anything from the pink cup. Definitely not the blue one. (For the love of God, if your life means anything to you at all, I beg you, don't give her the blue one!)

I gave the babysitter my mobile phone number. Then, I wrote down my mobile phone number on a post-it and stuck it on the fridge. Subsequently, I sent a text message to her mobile phone number with my mobile phone number in it. Just to make sure, I asked her if she had my mobile phone number. When she said she did, I asked her to call my mobile phone number to make sure she really had my mobile phone number. On the way to the restaurant, I was suddenly convinced the babysitter didn't have my mobile phone number, so I sent another text message with my mobile phone number. Just in case.

After being seated at the restaurant, I made sure my mobile phone was in plain view at all times during the meal, and checked it regularly to make sure it was still on. Then I checked to make sure the reception was good. I considered calling the babysitter to make sure everything was okay, since she wasn't calling me, which could mean everything was fine, or it could mean that Mia swallowed something poisonous and Bram fell and cracked his head open, but she didn't have my mobile phone number, which was why she wasn't calling me. My husband is extremely sensible, and was able to exterminate my worries by saying 'Oh, unclench. They're fine'. That was good enough for me, and I was able to turn my full attention to a three-course meal of food I didn't have to prepare, served on dishes I wouldn't have to wash. Divine.

Since becoming parents, my husband and I are allocated exactly three-and-a-half minutes per person to ingest our food at dinnertime. The rest of the meal is spent making sure some dinner actually makes it from the kids' plates into their mouths, and that they don't poke their eyes out with the silverware. During the meal on our date, I found it possible not only to eat my food in the tempo I saw fit, I could do it without having to navigate around a child on my lap. It was a strange, surreal sensation.

When the bill came, the waiter waited patiently at our table as I rummaged around in my purse to find my wallet. To get to it, I had to remove a variety of items lying on top, including a green Hot Wheel, an extra pair of Mia's panties (in case of an accident in public), two snotty hankies and a Hello Kitty sock (Hey, I was looking for that!). Another strange sensation swept over me, which was hard to identify at first. Then it occurred to me: it was the uncanny experience of paying for something other than groceries! Truly bizarre.

On the way home, I had visions of our living room resembling something similar to an episode of 'Malcolm in the Middle', with bits of food stuck to the ceiling, children hanging from the rafters and our babysitter tied up and gagged in a corner. What I was met with was pure serenity. The kids had eaten their dinner, the babysitter actually managed to work the remote control for the TV and was now reading a book while both kids were sound asleep in bed. If I hadn't been so dumbstruck, I would've asked the babysitter what her secret was...

This experience taught me something I already knew: parents are parents all the time, even when they are away from their kids. Parents like to talk about being parents, parents want to be friends with other parents, and parents write blogs about being parents. It's amazing how much child-rearing I can achieve without even being in the same room as my children, not to mention in a subconscious state! I understand now why I will always be my mom and dad's little girl, and that poor Mia and Bram are destined to the same fate.

Going out is not a way to escape my parental duties, it's a way to intensify them. I figure, the next time a special occasion comes around, we'll celebrate it next year...