Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Toddlers are like little drunks

Today while I was making dinner, I kept hearing "smack, smack, smoooch, smack, smooch..." I couldn't figure out what the noise was, so I walked around the end of the counter to see Emmy sitting on the floor kissing Nightmare Potty Training Doll on the cheeks over and over again.

Bonus points: our door was open (broiler smokes, and alarms are ultra-sensitive), and our door is directly across the hall from our neighbors'.

Extra special bonus points: Emmy gives R-rated kisses. Lots of tongue. I'm glad Nightmare Potty Training Doll (who was, as usual, naked) is not anatomically correct. That could get awkward.

Emmy is also learning a new word approximately every two minutes. She's nothing like Grace was at this age. Grace, with her perfectly clear speech and eighty bazillion words and near-sentences ("Hot grease baby running!"). But the nice thing about having two such incredibly different children is that comparing them doesn't even occur to me most of the time. It's fun to see the differences, but I don't stress myself (or them) out by weighing them against each other. Emmy walked at approximately five weeks. It evens out.

She uses a spoon now. Badly. But she's at least trying, instead of, say, combing her hair with it, or shoving it up her nose.

She likes to hit. That's a not-so-fun one.

Also, nightmares! They have begun. I'm so thrilled. It's a good thing I'm a bit softer this time around. I think it's sweet when I go in to comfort her, and she collapses back into bed after just a pat and a few words from me.

You know what else isn't fun? A wicked 18-month sleep regression. Her brain just won't stop at night. She likes to scream. For two, two and a half hours. It's really fantastic. We don't know what to do about it except wait for it to end. It's not affecting our sleep; she's out by the time we go to bed. But she's not as happy in the mornings, and she just sounds so miserable in there. Moving her bedtime and naptime hasn't helped a single bit, so I'm certain it's not that she needs to go to bed later or anything. Her brain is just in overdrive right now.

I don't remember this happening with Grace, but maybe I wasn't as easily overjoyed by the small things when I had a newborn and a shell-shocked toddler. I'm not a fan of the nighttime shenanigans, but I love seeing the results the next day. Her personality is exploding, and it's such a joy. She's so fat and determined and ridiculous.

But please, oh please, let it end soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Solution: set up a trough on the patio

Still working on the "no grains" thing. Thank you for all the ideas and suggestions! We went a few days with no grains whatsoever, and it worked out pretty well. The other evening, I made mini spinach quiches for supper, called them "cheese muffins," and the kids ate them like they were fruit pizzas stuffed with chocolate and cocaine. As one of you lovely people so succinctly put it, "Idiots." Even the wiliest of children can be really, really dumb.

Here's the deal. It's not that I eat too much bread or grains, or even that I plan to feed them to the kids often. It's that two kids this small require a lot of attention during meals. Even Grace, who can finally operate a fork in a manner approaching that of a semi-dexterous drunk monkey, needs assistance in cutting up food and figuring out how a napkin works.

So, pretty much all day long--aside from naptimes--, I am either preparing food, helping the kids feed themselves food, cleaning up after food time, or figuring out what food to start preparing again in five minutes. By the end of lunch, after I've been up to my elbows in food-related chores all day, and all I want to do is stick them in bed and lie on the couch with a box of wine for the duration of naptime, I'm really not feeling up to preparing yet more food when they run out. So they often just get a piece of bread tossed in their general direction. Some days they barely touch their lunches, which is fine. But other days they tear through them in a manner reminiscent of Taz in a rage.

This is where the over reliance on bread comes in, and this is why I want to have foods that I can prepare in advance that don't need to be refrigerated (because by that point in the day, they've already hit their fruit quota, and we don't have a billion dollars a week to spend on bananas and grapes).

I finally unearthed a recipe for dry roasted green peas that I will try as soon as the bag I found and bought at a farmer's market runs out. The Child tried them, declared them "Mmm. This is good!" and has refused to touch them since. But Emmy thinks they're God's gift to little fat toddlers, and nearly bursts a blood vessel every time I get the bag out.

So I'll start making them regularly. Grace can just not have snacks if she refuses to eat them.

Friday, August 5, 2011


I've been thinking about our diet a lot lately. I'm pretty good about what I cook and prepare for dinner, and I limit consumption of the really bad stuff. But I'm sick of falling back on bread and Cheerios every time I run out of stuff to feed the kids at lunch.

I'm not anti-wheat or grains, but I do think we eat too much of them. With picky kids, it's so much easier to have peanut butter sandwiches for lunch than it is to cook something and have them turn up their noses at it. What I need to do is start cooking larger evening meals. Lately they've been eating enough at dinnertime that there aren't enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

What I would love is to have all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand all the time. They will both gladly eat fruit until they pop. And kale and broccoli are favorites with both kids. But these things get expensive. I won't buy broccoli at regular price, so I have to wait until it goes on special. And they're much less enthusiastic about frozen veggies.

If I could find a way to get cheap, good vegetables regularly, I would completely eliminate bread and other starchy foods from our diet until the kids finally gave in and started eating better foods. Again, I'm not against breads and grains, but if it's available, it seems like it's all they'll eat.

Our grocery store next door has very cheap produce, but it's not great quality. There's a Sunflower Market a bit farther away, and I love it, but the prices are only good when things are on special. Gardening isn't possible with our apartment setup (even our patio is in shade for about 23 hours a day). I really want to find an actual farmer's market in the area, but I don't know where to look (Google has been unhelpful, but I lack Google-fu). Help?

Also! Make-ahead snacks for all of us. Things I can make in large quantities without spending an entire day ignoring my children. For instance, I read somewhere a while ago about dry-roasted peas, but I don't know how to make them, and I can't find them in any stores. I'd love to have a few different snacks on hand where, if I want to spend the day out with the kids, I can grab a couple baggies, fill them up, and go. Ideas?

This has really been nagging at me for the last few days. I'm not sure why. I just feel like we need to make a change, but I'm not sure how it's feasible, both financially and time-wise.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Silver linings

The cherry on the Awesome Sundae that was last weekend: we emerged from the haze sometime on Sunday afternoon to realize that our refrigerator is no longer cold. We are not sure when this happened. Our refrigerator probably noticed all the commotion and thought we were dying, so it decided it wouldn't hurt to take a little vacation. If our dead bodies are stinking up the place, no one will notice a little rotting broccoli, right?

What made me the most angry is that all the stuff that went bad was food we got for a steal. Four bags of spinach (I go through it really fast), a giant bag of fresh broccoli, some deli meat--all of it around half regular price. This is truly a blessing, since we only lost about $20 worth of food, but the deal-finder in me is seething. I am bizarrely more annoyed over the loss of my Good Deals than I would be over the loss of something I just bought because we needed it.

There was a second wave to whatever this thing was on Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday was great. I even went to work out, got about five minutes in my weights and realized I was dying and probably needed to cut my arms off. I spent the next two days nearly comatose while my children wished frantically for a new mother. It was just like early *first trimester: extreme need to nap, no appetite, slight nausea, apathy, and despondency. This stomach bug not only gets you body, but it also gets your soul. By yesterday afternoon, I had no will to live.

And then, suddenly, I woke up. I even went to water aerobics and was STARVING afterward. I bought a cheeseburger with mayo on the way home, which was a mistake.

My Body: Dude, I meant, like, grapes or something.
My Body: For this, I will punish you.

I spent the rest of the evening all miserable and whiny, but it was worth it. So worth it. Just to give you an idea, I have now lost a total of seven pounds. I needed food, and I needed bad food, and I needed filling food. So, I needed a cheeseburger.

And now, let me tell you about today. I woke up peppy and full of energy and happy. I was ready! to! go!

Well, my lovely children took their time eating breakfast, so we didn't get out the door until about an hour later than I wanted to. And then. THEN! I locked my keys in the van. While it was running. I don't even know how that happened. I unlocked the van, put my stuff in the front seat, turned it on, went back into the garage to fish Emmy out of whatever box she was attempting to excavate, and I came back to find the van locked. Rock on.

By the time Jeremy got over with the keys, it was fifteen minutes later, and I was going to have enough time to drop some stuff off and Saver's, and that was it. I was so annoyed. It was going to be a good day! A fun day! A day of getting rid of clutter and getting sunshine and happiness!


So, we finally made it to Saver's--rockstar parking!--when I hear the noise from the backseat. Not just a noise, but the noise. The noise that has been emanating from everyone but The Child since last week.

And yep, sure enough, it was her turn. I have never witnessed something so spectacular in my entire life. She just kept going, and going, and going, and crying, and then going some more, and then crying, crying, crying. Poor thing.

The man brought me some stuff to get her cleaned up, I did what I could, and then decided it would be best to just wallpaper her with paper towels and do the real cleaning when we got home. I dropped off what I wanted to, and then headed home.

I was so mad. Not at Grace. Just at things. At Thursday for being so... crappy.

And then I realized that this whole day seemed to have gone badly, but really, it went about as well as it could have if I was determined to go out and get things done.

I could have been browsing a nice consignment store with both children free of restraints. I could have been carrying Grace through Saver's. I could have been swimming with her.

But no. That dragging breakfast, and the extra fifteen minute delay made it so she got sick at exactly the right time. Because, as much a pain as it is to have a kid get sick in the car, it's so much better than having it happen in public. Especially when you're outnumbered by toddlers.

And it could have happened yesterday, while I was still in a drunk-like stupor.

So, if she was going to get sick, it's pretty amazing how it worked out to be exactly at the right time through a series of seemingly-coincidental inconveniences and vexations.

*No. I'm not.