Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I belong to a mommy group at the church I attend. It truly is a mommy group as there is childcare provided so that the mommies of all but the littlest of babies can actually meet and talk and pray and be focused on each other and not our kids. It is one of the joys of my week and I take the time to go even though Little G is in daycare the day they meet and I really should be using the time to work on my business.

At the end of each mommy group we break up into our small groups that were determined at the beginning of the year for some time to talk and pray. A couple of weeks ago, my small group was discussing how hard it was to stay focused on God during our days since it was so easy to get caught up in the moment-to-moment joys and frustrations of raising children. I mentioned that I thought 'they' should invent a Jesus Pez Dispenser that would dispense bible verses on a little candy so that you could get both spiritual and nutritional reinforcement whenever you needed to access it. We all laughed about the idea and went along our merry way.

Fast forward to this week and one of the women in my small group gave me a present. She mentioned having the perfect thing at home for me that she gotten to be a gag gift but had never found the right person to give it to until now. I opened up the gift wrap and there was a stuffed Jesus...crooked nose and all, like a good Jew.

Even better, the stuffed Jesus, talks to you when you squeeze his hand. It was noisy in the room though, so I didn't hear anything that Jesus was trying to say.

When it was time to go home, I tossed Jesus and my purse in the back of my car and started driving. Usually I play the radio in my car, so I have no idea why it wasn't on, thus making my car a cavern of silence. About five minutes into my silent car ride I heard a voice speak authoritatively:

"I LOVE you; and I have an EXCITING plan for your life!!"

I started giggling as I meekly responded, "Jesus?"

It was quiet for a moment and then He responded, "I am the way, truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."

Of course, then I went over a pot hole and my purse must have dug deeper into Jesus' hand because he just kept talking and talking and talking until out of exasperation I exclaimed, "Oh my GOD, JESUS...SHUT UP!!", as I reached into the back seat and flung my purse away from stuffed Jesus.

It doesn't take a preacher to pull a sermon illustration out of this one...although one did. How often do I not hear what He is trying to tell me because of the noise in my life? How often do I finally have some quiet time in my life and hear His voice clearly? How often do I feel like He expects too much and shun Him away?

But the question I wonder the most about is, how often has a stuffed Jesus actually made someone think?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Little G is at a challenging stage. Let's not kid here...he seems to always be at a challenging stage. And yes, I am very aware that the reality is that I find his stages challenging...he doesn't realize he has stages.

Anyway, this newest stage seems to have taken away his ability to keep himself entertained for any amount of time. He has to be where I am at all times and if I am 'ignoring him' re: trying to look something up online or read a magazine or make dinner or clean something he immediately starts doing something that he knows he's not allowed to do...like turn the knobs on the kitchen stove or try to dive off the dining room table.

If he isn't doing that, than he is following me around the house with his hands up in the air and whining at me to pick him up. When I pick him up, he snuggles for 2-3 seconds, wraps my ponytail around his fingers, then decides that's enough snuggling and dives for the floor adamant that I must release him from this hold immediately. The he commences standing under my feet again and whining.

Believe me, I love the snuggles. He's never been a snugly kid. I can't count the number of times he's fallen asleep on me (or even near me, for that matter - other than his naps in the Moby wrap as an infant) on one hand because it's never happened. So, I love the snuggling. But there really is only so much I can take before my back starts to really hurt and my mind starts to remember all the things I need to be doing. And the truth of the matter is, I need him to be able to play on his own.

He used to be able to do this just fine...so much so that we have stopped using baby gates in our house (except for a very prominent one in front of our very active and very hot wood stove). He doesn't need them because for months we have been able to trust him not to turn the knobs on the kitchen stove, or try to dive off the dining room table. But I'm starting to think I should just suck it up that we seemed to be regressing and put them all back up again.

Because my two options to get ANYTHING done around here are to be completely engaged with him at all times. Or turn on Elmo.

I should mention that he's at the end of a 2nd hour...HOUR...of Elmo as I write this.

I suck.

But I can't be engaged all the time. Even if the reason is that I'm updating something as banal as blog. I need my time. And I need him to be able to entertain himself without the constant crack pipe of a certain pint sized, red, fuzzy monster with an pipsqueak voice.

I am not going beat myself up about not being engaged with him all day, every day, but I do wonder how the home-school mommies do it. Is it just this age - or are they engaged with their children 24/7? Do they get frustrated by it - or are they just better mommies than me?

No time to think about it...Elmo just sang his 'swimming' song so I now have t-minus 45 seconds to get re-engaged.


...and we're watching Elmo again. 2 hours of whining and tantruming and I gave up. One purposly quiet mention of the word Elmo and he perked right up and stood quietly by the TV waiting for me to turn it on.

Am I being played here? Is THIS what they are talking about when they say your toddler is manipulating you? Because I CAN'T ENGAGE WITH HIM minute after minute, hour after hour.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Baby in a Basket

I came into the kitchen the other day and found this...

Who's the Boss

There's a mommy that is in my mom classes that I take with Little G that is a total bitch. I hate her. She's condescending, she's judgy, she's a know it all who thinks her way is the best and she holds me up to a standard that she would NEVER hold anyone else up to.

She's me.

Recently on a mommy board I participate in, someone posed the question if they were the only one who doesn't know everything. They cited the many other first time parents they knew that seemed to know it all and have it all together; specifically calling out the ones that seem to have read every book and retained every bit of knowledge and stare at you in shock that you don't know the information they know and thus have not reacted the way they have.

I thought about her question and knew that I was most certainly not one of those parents. I unabashedly, almost to a fault, admit to everyone who will listen to me that I know nothing and am completely flying by the seat my pants. But when the tables are turned and I look inward to myself, I'm a bitch. I have read a bazillion baby books, I know a thousand and one methods to do whatever you need to do with a kid. I know the risks associated with so many of the choices that I struggle with every day in raising Little G. And I am a total bitch to myself whenever I make even the slightest mistake or remember that I don't know what I am doing.

What a fantastically craptastic double standard I hold myself to!! I am killing myself over here with intolerance of any mistake no matter how minor it is. I have to stop punishing myself.

One of the responders to that original post wrote something that really resonated with me. She said,
I liken the whole experience to getting your dream job-you know the one that you applied for on a whim because you never thought you'd really get it because honestly you are not qualified?!? Now that you landed it you actually have to show up and work, with little to no supervision or training!
This is the first description of parenthood I've come across that I think truly defines the overwhelming sense of being lost in a land where everyone else knows what's going on and you are expected to as well. But who's expectation is it? Not my husband's. Not Little G's. I'm the boss here; I'm the only one who's going to give me feedback for a while, and I need to start being nicer or I'm going to lose the best employee I have. Me.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Waiting for Cookies to Cool

Today is the first of two snow days in a row. Two days where Little G and I will not venture out of the house because he doesn't listen and we live on a corner and he actually very well COULD get lost in a snow bank. I am saving my 'big-guns' for tomorrow and have every intention of building a fort in the living room with a sheet and some chairs. That should entertain him for all of 20 minutes.

But for today, we made cookies.

There are some go-to blogs that I love to read because they all talk about AND ACTUALLY DO cook with their kids. It seems like such a bucolic scene: mom and kids gingerly parcelling out ingredients into ceramic bowls and stirring happily with wooden spoons in light-filled kitchens with all organic ingredients. It's been enough to make me really want to try it with Little G...but I am such a perfectionist and a control freak that I have been avoiding it. I know that instead of doing anything gingerly, Little G will most likely stick his fingers in the ingredients just before throwing all of it on the floor.

Today, with my options for toddler entertainment quickly running out, I finally decided to take the plunge. So I got out the cookbook that the mothers in my nursery school co-op made way back in 1979 with the fun illustrations for kids and picked an easy-enough peanut butter cookie recipe.

Truthfully, it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. I brought Little G's play table into the kitchen so the bowls would be at his level - he has a habit of using his Tripp-Trapp chair as a ladder and trying to stand on the top level during dinner, so I didn't think encouraging him to stand on a chair in the kitchen would help our efforts to get him to NOT stand on a chair in the living room, thus the decision to bring his play table into the kitchen for this experiment - and I am proud to say that aside from his insistence that the bowl remain on the floor for the entirety of the process, and his inability to keep his play kitchen spoons out of the dough, the process of making the cookies was actually pretty fun and he did a great job.

He rather expertly dumped all of the ingredients (that I had pre-measured out) into the bowl and helped me mix them all together with determination in his eyes. Then, I rolled the dough into little balls and he put them on the cookie sheet. I moved the balls around so they weren't all right next to each other in a pile and then he helped me squish them all with a fork (although he liked squishing them with his fingers instead and then licking them and squishing the next one...note to self: the cookies w/o fork marks are totally his...second note to self: why did I not think of this myself as a kid...I would have gotten more cookies).

Finally, I had him stand in the corner of the kitchen while I opened the oven and put the tray in. He so patiently helped me clean the kitchen while we waited the 8 minutes for the cookies to bake. At last, the cookies were ready to come out of the oven and I explained to him over and over and over again as I opened the oven door that the cookies were hot, hot, hot and we were going to have to let them cool before we ate them.

He watched me put them on the cooling rack and even blew on them to cool them down and then he tried to take one. It was super hot and as I explained that we still had to wait to eat the cookies he threw himself down on the floor in protest. I couldn't really blame him...this is the first time we've ever baked together...and he's only 18 months old. How could you blame a toddler who's now heard the word cookie at least 100 times in the last 20 minutes from getting antsy at the prospect of having to wait another 10 minutes...so I did what any self-respecting, cookie-loving, toddler-meltdown-hating mother would do and I bribed him with Elmo.

Immediately the tears subsided as he walked with me to the television set and waited for me to start the DVR while I grumbled in my head that the pretty-parents-who-cook-with-their-kids blogs NEVER mention this ugly side of the story. I inwardly seethed at their perfect pictures and their cheery missives. Clearly they have perfect children who would never throw a meltdown over the logic of having to wait for cookies just out of the oven to cool.

So I wrote a post in my head a hundred times to pick on those perfect people and their perfect kitchens and their perfect photos and their cherubic children and upon my search to find a picture to attach to this very post I found myself back at the very beginning of one of those blogs...you know...the posts from the very first months.

And it turns out it wasn't so easy for them either. In fact, it was SO not easy that I felt compelled to share a quote from one of my favorites, Dash and Bella:


I'm amazed by the amount of swearing, sweating, and yelling that is required in order to avoid burns, broken dishes, cut fingers, oversalted food, and epic messes. "Don't touch that. That's hot. Oh my god. Shit. Back away. No. No. Please. Okay. Thank you for listening. No. No. No. Shit. Are you kidding me? Please listen. You're going to hurt yourself. Great job. You did it. Thank you for listening. Now please sit down."

So it turns out I owe an apology to both my son (for expecting him to be a cooking master) and to the writer of that perfectly lovely cooking-with-kids blog. Because it turns out that it takes time to master the art of cooking with kids and I need to remember to be patient with the process and not have a meltdown as if the cookies weren't cool yet.