Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Pacifier Fairy....and Other Lies We Tell Our Kids

Miss Chatterbox is a PACI ADDICT.  No, really.  If they had a PAA (Pacifier Addicts Anonymous), She would be the celebrity member - kinda like Lindsay Lohan, but not with drugs (JUST SAY NO, KIDS).  Though quite honestly, I think it will take more than a 12 step program to rehab her.  I'm dead serious, she can't sleep with any less than 4 clutched tightly her tiny little hands, another in her mouth and spare slipped under her pillow.

Early on, The Firefighter and I decided to go the paci route because of its effectiveness in detouring SIDS.  After she passed the magic 6 month mark, we tried unsuccessfully to attach Miss Chatterbox to a "lovey".  Though, I have to admit, we didn't try very hard since sleep was a hot commodity then.  At that point, I valued sleep more than food, more than money and about a trillion times more than sex.  We even bargained with each other for sleep time -  I'll do this, if you do that.  Still I thought, "we have plenty of time".

Fast forward to 22 months later.  Not that I believe there is any particular harm in her having it (no, American Pediatric Association, I don't believe in your arbitrary dates), but visions of her as a bucktoothed, 20 something, paci in hand, has prompted me to take more drastic measures.

So after some research (you know, on the Internet, where you can believe everything you read, right), I thought the gentlest method, that wouldn't leave her with a horrible "void", would be to convince her to give it up herself.

So last weekend, I began to weave a story about the Paci Fairy.  I told Miss Chatterbox that the Paci Fairy comes at night to take away your pacis and give them to new babies who need them.  In return, she leaves presents and sweet dreams.  I thought this would be the perfect tactic, as Miss Chatterbox has loved helping friends of mine who have babies smaller than her.

To my chagrin, Miss Chatterbox just gave me a look that says, "Really mom, is that all you got....I'm not buying it."  It's the same look she gave me the first time I put her in time out...right before she laughed at me.

I thought, "Oh no, little miss, I'm gonna win this one - I'll not be outplayed by a toddler."  So I go to Target, get a few cute things, and prepare for the Paci Fairy's arrival.  As I said earlier this week, she has just learned to put herself to bed. She was making a great deal of noise last night, but being so new a skill, I resisted the urge to peek in and see what she was doing.  Eventually, it goes quiet, and I sneak in to grab the pacis and leave her gifts.  But alas, I can't find a single paci - She has hidden them - really well.  I call The Firefighter in for reinforcements, and together with flash lights we comb her room looking for them.  There is not a Paci to be found.  The little minx, she was even smirking in her sleep.

Touche child!  Miss Chatterbox - 2   Mommy - 0

Sunday, May 29, 2011

If My Life had a Soundtrack....

Have you ever thought about what it would be like if your life had a soundtrack?  Mine would go something like this...

The teenage years
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning

HAHA!  The College Years
Take My Drunk A@# Home
I miss you Blackhaus...three more months.

Meeting The Firefighter - I love you baby, I promise :)
Luke Bryan - Country Boy

Sofa Super Store Fire
Rest in Peace -  We will NEVER FORGET!

Our Wedding
My Best Friend

The Rough Patch

Miss Chatterbox arrives and Most Days!
Just Another Day in Paradise

What would your soundtrack sound like?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Milestones and Miracles

It has been a Banner week for Miss Chatterbox.  We hit 3 big milestones practically simultaneously.

After a great deal of research and procrastination, I finally chose a dentist for Miss Chatterbox.  I was so apprehensive about the visit that I insisted The Firefighter accompany us.  Judging by the amount The Firefighter was fidgeting on the drive to the appointment, he too was anxious.  I know we were envisioning the same thing.

What is that you ask?  You see - we have a dark secret.  Our normally sweet, precocious, and lovable Miss Chatterbox has an evil twin whom we like to call, Miss Phoebe.  Now, Miss Phoebe loves to throw tantrums.  Not just your average toddler tantrum, oh no no.  Ear-splitting, wall-shaking, earthquake causing tantrums are more her speed.  Yeah...you thought that thing in Japan was just a freak event - nope, that was Miss Phoebe throwing a tantrum in Walmart.  Tuesday, all of the warning signs for an apocalyptic Miss Phoebe visit were there - short nap, new environment, and new people, so you can understand our anxiousness.

As we arrive, The Firefighter and I give each other a look that says, "Here goes nothing.  At least we're in it together".    Things go smoothly in the waiting room.  Miss Chatterbox even meets the dentist without shying away.  I begin to feel a little bit hopeful, maybe, just maybe, this will work.  We all crowd into the examination room with things still proceeding smoothly.  Then comes the crucial moment. The dentist asks her to lay back in the chair.  Miss Chatterbox HATES laying down.  Oh no, we see Miss Phoebe start to peek out, and The Firefighter and I begin to maneuver ourselves into offensive and defensive positions, respectively, because these poor people have no idea what they are in for.  But before we can do that, the dental assistant intervenes and says, "Miss Chatterbox, how 'bout you come sit on my lap and the dentist will count your teeth here" (Only someone who has experience with a Miss Phoebe of their own could have reacted as quickly).   Much to our amazement, Miss Chatterbox happily hops up and does just that.  The Firefighter and I resume our relaxed positions and the rest of the appointment goes without a hitch!  They even manage to clean some teeth and apply a fluoride treatment.  SUCCESS!

Later that same afternoon, Miss Chatterbox starts telling us when she needs to take a business trip!  She is now using the potty approximately 75% of the time.  Woo hoo!  Maybe we aren't failures at this whole parenting thing after all!

Finally, we have our last milestone of the week, which is nothing short of miraculous.  Miss Chatterbox, after 28 months, has finally decided that she can fall asleep - ON HER OWN!!!!!!  Up until yesterday, one of us had to lay in bed next to her until she fell asleep.    I had planned on tackling this skill over the summer in preparation for the arrival of The Bun.  However, I actually discovered this by mistake.  While I was laying with Miss Chatterbox last night, waiting for her to fall asleep, The Bun began her nightly gastrointestinal gymnastics routine.  Try as I might, I just couldn't wait any longer.  So I kiss Miss Chatterbox, tell her mommy has to potty and will be right back.  Closing the door, I steel myself for the arrival of Miss Phoebe, but to my surprise, she's a no-show!  When I finish my business trip, all's quiet on the western front, so I decide to push my luck and not go back in the room.  Moments later, I can tell she's asleep by the sounds in the baby monitor.  YES!!!

It's been a good week for the Fam.

My Two Cents: Genderless Parenting

A Toronto couple made headlines this week by refusing to tell anyone the gender of of their 4 month old baby.  The couple believes raising their children "genderless" (they also have two older boys) will allow each child the freedom to explore and learn about themselves without society imposing its preconceived gender-specific stereotypes.

I can't deny that I find the idea of genderless parenting both intriguing and contradictory.  But I have some questions.

First, are we not, at our most animalistic level, identified by our gender?

Couldn't this type of parenting lead to a child feeling ashamed of their sex?

Lastly, isn't it the most basic job of parents to prepare our children for the world we live in, not the world we wish we lived in?

Now don't get me wrong, I have strong feelings about gender stereotypes.  Having girls, I particularly fear over/early sexualization and gender limitations.  In fact, I don't watch "adult" TV with Miss Chatterbox around or keep any magazines with images of "sexy" women in the house.  I go out of my way to make sure my toddler dresses like a child - no booty shorts or bikinis.  For all my joking, there are no "princesses" in our house.  I support any interest she expresses be it playing in the mud, or playing with dolls.

However, I think it would be foolish - nay even dangerous - to not acknowledge that she is a girl.  It is nothing to be ashamed of and she MUST learn to be strong and self assured before she learns how society wants her to be.  To that extent, the Firefighter and I are careful about our interactions in front of her.  We want to her to see and learn how it is to be respected and loved for who she is - not what she looks like.  I want her to see us cooperate and share chores.  I want her to understand that how we divided the "housework" was not by gender, but by ability, likes and dislikes.  I want her to understand, that being a woman isn't all she is, just a part.

While I respect these parents' right to raise their children as they see fit, I know their choices would never be my choices.

What are your thoughts?  Comments?

10 Things Miss Chatterbox has Taught me about Parenting

2 years has been enough for Miss Chatterbox to show me how misguided my preconceived notions about parenting were.  These are the highlights.

10.  If you like sleep, you probably shouldn't become a parent.

9.  Kiss your privacy goodbye.  Going to the bathroom with a toddler is a bit like having a sports announcer in the stall with you giving a play by play  (Yay!  Mommy go pee-pee.  Yay! Mommy wipe.  Flush now, Mommy.  Good job Mommy get a sticker!)

8.  Even if you believe you have no shame....your kids will embarrass you.  (See: Your kid said what?)

7.  Remember that clean house, filled with expensive wedding gifts, artfully arranged to mimic your favorite HGTV personality's latest design?  Yeah...take a picture, then take stock in Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

6.  I gave birth to a Houdini.  Baby proofing was a total waste of time and money.

5.  Read the books, listen to the advice, then disregard and follow your own instincts.  No one knows your child better than you.

4.  Give yourself a break, no one is perfect - If that doesn't work, read my blog and you will feel better about your parenting. :-)

3.  Some days you will simply count down the seconds until bedtime and others will make you beg someone out of a bartending shift because going to work feels like a relaxing Jamaican vacation.

2. The tender moments will make it all worthwhile, and may even make you repeat the process.

1. All you need is love, patience and a big bottle of vodka.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Just Awesome!  Everybody likes a little appreciation now and then.

How I Broke the News to The Firefighter....

 With Miss Chatterbox, The Firefighter was able to come along with me to the OB and revel in every tiny detail of "our" first pregnancy.  Yeah...let's just say by time The Bun came along, the newness had worn off.  Not that he didn't want to be there, he did, but life (aka: lack of money) got in the way, and The Firefighter had to work.

So the big day comes.  I go assume the position to get the news (YES - go girl power!).  I barely make it out the office door before I call The Firefighter all excited and wanting to share the moment.   But he DOESN'T answer.  Of course, I get all ticked off - How dare someone need saving while I have important news to share!  However, I'm not one to stay mad long and I quickly get to plotting. How should I break it to him?  After all, he is now hopelessly outnumbered and doomed to a fatherhood filled with tea parties, tutus, and large quantities of pink dryer lint.

I contemplate calling dispatch and having it announced on the radio - but that will just embarrass him. Then, I thought about bringing a big pink cake to the station - but too boring to be my style.  I even considered the obligatory facebook post, because you know someone's looking and will tell him - but decided that was too impersonal.

Then it comes to me.  I rush home to find a black marker and write on my belly "NO PENISES HERE" in big, bold letters (much harder than you think, upside down and backwards).  I take a picture with my phone, text it to him and wait.  A very short while later, The Firefighter responds in typical fashion with, "I'm really going to need my own bathroom."

Ha!  He never says the right thing at the right time - but I love him anyways.

What's in a Name?

As many of you know, we are expecting our second pink bundle of spit up, I mean joy, later this year.  If you're anything like me, 2 tiny pink lines sent you scurrying to the nearest baby name book to begin preparing for the monumental task of  (Cue echoey announcer voice) Naming Your Child.

Sidebar - don't you wish your life had sound effects, like danger music?  It would make it soo much easier to identify bad decisions.  But I digress.

Now I take naming my kids seriously - probably too seriously.  Far too seriously to even consider burdening my child with a common, generic, or * shudder * trendy moniker (no offense to the Avas, Sophies, and Graces out there).  In fact, it gives me nightmares to even think that my child may have to someday choose to be a Jen, Jenny, or Jennifer H.!  With Miss Chatterbox, I took any name I was considering to the social security website and if it came in anywhere in the top 1000 names for the last 20 years, I immediately crossed it off my list.  Yeah, overkill, I know, but we all have those "things" we are weird about, right?  Ultimately, Miss Chatterbox ended up with a name that perfectly reflects her personality- strong, driven and memorable.

With my "perfect" name already taken, naming The Bun has seemed to be a herculean task.  After explaining this to a friend, she calmly suggested, in typical southern fashion, that I look to my family tree for inspiration.  Riiiiiight.  Of course, she would have no way of knowing the names in my family span from simply "country" to "redneck" to "cruel and unusual punishment".  No, really.  We have Daisy Mae (great grandma), Lottie June, Aunt (pronouced ain't) Thelma and Uncle Fineus, Uncle Boone (first name Daniel) and who could forget my great Aunts Ilene (pronounced eye-lean), Earlene, and Merlene.  Yeah...and this is just a sample - I won't even delve into the misspelt and creatively punctuated.

Another friend suggested that The Bun's name have meaning or a story to it.  Well, I did give that some thought, however, most of my "stories" wouldn't lend themselves to names.  Talkative Bar Patron, Firetruck, and Things my Students Say don't really have that special ring to it, if you know what I mean.  Same friend then suggested that I wait until The Bun comes out of the oven (HAHA - I like puns) to see if a name fits.  Well, I don't know about you, but my kids have had distinctive personalities - in utero.  I don't believe I will have to "see her" to know if a name is gonna fit.

So where does The Firefighter fit into all of this, you ask?  Nowhere.  For starters, he refused to participate in name game before the gender was determined - his loss.  Well shoot, by then I practically had Miss Chatterbox's name written in stone.  So, my theory has been something like this:  I baked them, I birthed them, and by golly I'm gonna name 'em.  But don't worry Bun, mommy has a great name picked out for you.

Can I get an AMEN?

The Good, the Bad, and the Smelly....when potty training goes awry

Before I became a parent, I was arrogant enough to think that every child could and -should- be potty trained by their second birthday.  Ugh! - I cringe just thinking about how presumptuous I was.  I assumed that parents of untrained 2 year olds were lazy and/or stubborn kids just needed the proper motivation.  Oh, how Miss Chatterbox has humbled all my pretentious beliefs about parenting!  Especially with regards to potty training.

We began this odyssey in the usual manner.  Around 21 months old, we introduced Miss Chatterbox to the potty with books, discussions, ah hem...demonstrations and copious amounts of praise.  It began well.  Miss Chatterbox seemed to understand and we even had early success!   (Cue horror music) Then disaster struck.  Because of certain life events, potty training had to be put on the back burner for three weeks.   When the events resolved as best they could, I attempted to resume potty training.   But alas, Miss Chatterbox put her foot down and flat out refused to have anything to do with the potty - period.  For the next 7 months, I was forced to acknowledge a painful lesson.  You can lead a kid to the potty - but you can't make 'em go!

Just recently, Miss Chatterbox has developed an Obsession (yes, with a capital O) for stickers.  So I thought, "Great!  New potty training operations commencing now!"  So I told Miss Chatterbox her new reward (bribe) for actually going on the potty was one sticker per business trip.  I COMPLETELY underestimated her sticker addiction.  It took exactly 1 business trip for her to figure out that if she just "dribbled",  she would be able to repeat her business trips frequently (as in 1 every 2 minutes) -thereby getting more stickers.

DOH!  Miss Chatterbox -1  Mommy - 0

The Things my Toddler Says...

The Firefighter came home in a bad mood one morning, complaining about a mentally ill "frequent flier" they had to deal with in the wee hours.  Despite my repeated shushing, he was just too irritated to acknowledge the little ears listening.  However, Miss Chatterbox seemed to be more interested in her pancakes than her daddy's colorful adjective use, so I just let it go.

That is, until we arrived at her preschool classroom.  As usual, her teacher greeted her with, "Good morning, Miss Chatterbox."  To which Miss Chatterbox replies, "hooker, hooker, hooker"  in her sweetest singsong voice.  OH BOY. CRAP.  I have exactly 10 seconds to come up with a plausible reason why my 2 year old is using the word hooker.   So I do what any sane parent would do -  I lie.

"Oh no, honey," I giggle, "we aren't fishing today."  I glance at her teacher and proceed to explain how we went fishing yesterday off the Pitt Street Pier and her daddy made a joke about "hooking her up with worms".   Miss Chatterbox's teacher ditches the offended look and smiles knowingly at me.  She has bought the lie -  hook, line and sinker.  (HAHA! - I had to throw that in, I love a good pun).

Phew!  Disaster averted.  Now to have a talk with The Firefighter about his language....

10 Things I've Learned Being a Firefighter's Wife

After 8 years, I've amassed quite a repertoire of  "lessons" on being a firefighter's wife.  These are the highlights.

10.  Have a sense of humor.  After all, what do you expect to happen when you stick 8 guys together in one building for 24 hours?  It's like a frat house - with all the boredom and none of the booze.

9.  Firefighters have groupies.  Yep, you heard me.  They are like the U2 of the public safety world.  Everyone loves a firefighter.  Word of advice ladies - have something that keeps 'em coming home *wink wink.

8. If something "bad" is gonna happen, your man ain't going to be home to handle it.   Be prepared.

7. If something really, really, really "bad" is gonna happen - you have a your own personal squad of firefighters and paramedics to handle it.

6. Fear the phrase, "Now babe, don't freak out.  It's just a scratch."  -2 surgeries, 17 stitches, and four months later.

5.  You will know the difference between a police siren and a fire siren....and hold your breath every time you hear one.   Then learn to let it go - you can't live your life in fear.

4.  You KNOW you married for love, because it sure wasn't for the money.

3. Every piece of clothing he owns has either a fish or a fire department logo on it.  Don't fight it, just be happy if what he leaves the house in is stain free and not holey.

2.  Don't argue before he goes to the station - you don't want that on your conscience.

1.  Embrace the firefighting lifestyle - pranks, cuts, poverty and all.