Thursday, December 31, 2009

Superstition and Resolution

My last few New Year's Eves have been rather uneventful. Not that I'm complaining. A quiet evening at home with J and the kids, some yummy food and a movie or two is a great way to spend the holiday. Especially now that I am working and those evenings are so rare. But before I was married, New Year's Eve had a different tone to it. I'm not sure why, but they always ended up... not so great. I won't go into any detail, but every year it was something; bad parties, drunk friends, flat tires, snowstorms. I was convinced that December 31st was just a bad day for me. So, I started staying home. And for the past few years it has worked. Uneventful... until today. The curse has returned.

It started out with Matthew waking up shortly after 5 am because his overpriced, so-called "nighttime" diaper had ripped open and spilled "liquid absorbing crystals" all over Matthew and his crib. It turns out that the crystals only hold on to that liquid while they are inside the diaper. Now, normally when Matthew wakes up too early, we can change him and put him straight back to sleep for an hour or so. Not today. By the time we got the mess cleaned up, he was wide awake.

Skip to us rushing out the door to get to the store and me forgetting to switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. You'll see why that's important later.

We actually had a good trip to the store, capped off by the kids quietly and happily eating their frozen yogurt from the food court where I work, while I read half of a magazine.

Next, it was off to get haircuts. This is where things started to turn. I noticed that Matthew was sleepy in the car. I should've just aborted and called it a day at this point. But, you know how it is... you just want to get stuff like this over with and not have to make another appointment and drag the kids out again, blah, blah, blah. So, I rationalized that he would be fine, just like the last couple of times I brought him here. I knew to expect a little bit of whining, but nothing like what was about to happen.

We actually got in right at our appointment time, despite a full waiting room. Matthew was first and we brought his favorite DVD to distract him. He complained while they put on his cape and then started to throw a fit while they wet his hair. All of the sudden, he slammed his head forward and smashed his face onto the metal part of the car/chair that he was sitting in. (An hour later this would turn out to be a full on black eye.) So, now he is screaming at the top of lungs, so we decide to give him a minute to calm down. By the way, children screaming is a normal occurrence at this place. I'm not sure why kids get so freaked out about getting their hair cut. But, until now, it has never been my kid.

After a few minutes, he is crying less, but when the stylist tries to restart his haircut he cranks it up again. Everything I try to do to calm him down fails and after 25 minutes of holding him down, we give up and leave the store with half a haircut and one very noticeable bald spot on one side. The very calm and patient stylist gave us an IOU, but still upset from the incident, I swear to never put Matthew (or me) through that again.

So, I decide that it will be faster to pick up some Steak-n-Shake for lunch than for me to make something, but of course that is not going to be the case. I get behind a woman who orders no less than 8 bags of food, and is apparently taking orders for the person she is on the phone with. "What do you want to eat, I can't hear you. Hold on a sec.." It took every ounce of restraint for me to keep my foot on the brake and not ram my car into hers.

We arrive home 45 minutes late for lunch and Matthew who is crying in the backseat, has been up for almost 7 hours. So, I decide that since he had some animal crackers and milk in the car that it is in his best interest to skip lunch and go straight to bed. This is when I realize that his blanket and his bear are soaking wet in the washing machine. I try to put him down with his "other bear" and a different blanket, but he is so far past tired now that he just lays in his crib and cries. I eventually throw the bear and blanket in the dryer and get them dry enough to sleep with.

He finally falls asleep and 45 minutes after we arrived home, I unload the groceries from the car and sit down to eat my cold and soggy hamburger. I turn on the tv and the cable is out. No matter; I turn on a movie that I Tivo'd last night and 3 minutes into it the channel changes and I realize that it has recorded something else. I give up, turn off the tv, and throw away the rest of my sandwich.

Embry and I lay down to rest and we both fall asleep for about a half hour. When she gets up I remind her to be quiet because Matthew is still asleep, and she proceeds to slam the bedroom door as hard as she can. Matthew wakes up and stays up about an hour earlier than he normally would.

I yell at Embry for not listening and for waking up her brother, but 5 minutes later I feel bad. After all, the whole day could've been avoided had I just listened to Matthew in the first place and went home after the store. Instead, I tried to make him fit to my schedule. I always judge parents when I see them dragging their kids through Costco at night. Why don't they get that kid to bed? And here I was doing the exact same thing.

My day did eventually get better. The kids are playing happily together now, and my next door neighbor left a gift bag full of chocolate on our doorstep. A happy surprise, because although we have lived next to each other for a year and a half, we have only spoken a handful of times. Embry and I will return the gesture later tonight with some pretty candles from Pottery Barn.

So, my most important resolution this year will be to listen to my children, to have more patience with them, and to not take out my frustrations from the day on them. I recently read something by a tired and weary mother that really struck me... "My children (and my husband) deserve the best of me, not just what is left after a long day." Amen.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Crafts

We definitely have another crafter in the family, now that Embry is old enough to do so much on her own. She has spent the last few weeks working on tons of stuff for Christmas.

Here she is working on these:

Some foam door hangers (from a kit that Grandma sent) and refrigerator magnets (from Oriental Trading Co.).

Here's the awesome gingerbread house that we did together. It was also a kit that came with the house already put together! All you had to do was stick on the candy (included) with the icing (also included). A great project for her age. I've made gingerbread houses from scratch before, and she's not quite ready for that much work yet.

Last week, as part of their studies on Asia, I taught Embry's class a few easy origami models. I included this candy cane since it's Christmas time. Embry has been busy ever since making tons of them to hang on our tree.

And speaking of trees, here she is hamming it up for the camera right after she helped put up the lights on the Christmas tree. Great job!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Adventures in Photography

It's a pre-Thanksgiving tradition for us. Dress the kids in cute matching outfits (I opted for pj's this year so they'd get more than an hour of use out of them), and drag them off to get their picture taken. I start out with pretty low expectations this year because Matthew is not known to sit still for anything. But, the photographer did such a great job last year, I hoped we'd get at least one good shot for the Christmas cards.

So, after waiting for the staff to choose a background we decided to start off with Embry while Matthew ran off some energy in the hall.

First shot....beautiful!
Ok, now let's bring Matthew in. Try putting him on the sled with Embry...

And he's off and running in the hall again.
Maybe if we try a prop. Matthew look, Embry's reading a book!
Nope, he's more interested in honking her nose.
And there he goes again.
Maybe if we try having him sit on something.
Now scoot them closer together, oh wait... Embry is ticklish.
Ok, let's let Matthew relax for a few minutes and do another one with Embry. Very good!
Maybe if we just try sitting on the floor.
Or maybe a stuffed animal. What's that, you only have one? That's not going to work.
(That one is my favorite.)
A couple more with Embry while Matthew recovers.
Should we just give up and come back next week? No, let's just try one more time.
I don't think we're going to get any better than that. Let's go home.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Giving Thanks

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies c/o Martha Stewart (recipe here). They were so yummy. A few notes about the says that it makes 12 pies, I ended up with about 25... also there is a lot of spices in the recipe and I actually cut back a little on the ginger and nutmeg... the cakes were wonderful, but they tasted a lot more like gingerbread than pumpkin, despite 3 cups of pumpkin puree.

I actually remembered to take a picture of our only contribution to Thanksgiving dinner this year. So I thought I'd post it along with a list of a few things (people) I'm thankful for...

My husband, who works hard all day to support his family, and then takes care of them all night while I go off to work.

My children, who give me so much to look forward to, every day.

My mother, who will listen to me complain about work and kids for hours.

My husband's family for putting up with our mess and our noise when we come to visit.

My brother for making me laugh.

The rest of my family for their love and support.

And finally, my boss for letting me have off the 2 days after Christmas to spend time with all of my family together. I can't wait!

*Also, I'm thankful for Johnny Depp, for gracing the cover of my Entertainment Weekly this afternoon, and making my day off a little bit sweeter.*

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 3

Two years ago today, this happened...

Happy Birthday Mattie!