Child Labor

I’ve been making some small adjustments to my cleaning regime.  Things like do dishes as you cook or do the breakfast dishes during lunch.  The crazy one is to actually pick up as soon as the activity is over.  I know, I was not meant for this homemaking business.

The funny thing is the boys are catching on.  Sure, they don’t pick up most of the time when they’re done playing with someone, but they pick up without bitterly complaining.  I watched Tornado E today do his “push-ups” on The Husband’s yoga mat that he left out, and when Tornado E was done with it, he rolled it up and gave it to The Husband to put away.  I don’t know what shocked me more, the push-ups or the picking up of the yoga map.

While Tornado S is not to keen on picking up, he can’t be left out.  Tornado E’s drop used to be set the table, but Tornado S would run and do it before Tornado E, so now Tornado E puts on things I think he can carry.  He’s only dropped the hot dogs once.  I started requiring Tornado E to help clean off the table, and Tornado S trots behind Tornado E carrying his own stuff.

Then there’s the morning chore chart for the boys.  It’s a brilliant idea when I remember to use it.  Yesterday Tornado E checked the abandoned chart on his door and started to race up the list (Because my boy is all about doing things backwards, like writing his name.).  He checked off the chores with a crayon, moving to one chore to the next without any reminding or coaxing.  The boy made his bed without me saying anything.  I just watched, pointing out Tornado E did more around the house than The Husband, who sipped his tea.

Yup, things are going great.  If I can keep this up for another fifteen years or more, I’m writing a book on parenting.

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What chore would you magically have done so that you wouldn’t have to do it?

Charts and stars

When my mom sent me to pre-kindergarten, she was shocked at how much the teachers had the four-year-olds do.  It changed her philosophy.  No longer did she pick up our toys.  No longer did she dress us.  No longer did she helps on and off with our coats.  She was a liberated woman.

Since she’s a convert, she’s forever telling me what my boys should be doing.  But I, like so many other moms, find it easier to just do it because it’s faster.  Oh, Tornado E, take off the underwear off your head and give it to me.  Now step in.

Of course, it is high time Tornado E started doing things on his own.  No matter how much longer it takes.  Even if getting dressed is now a whole half an hour affair.  (Thank God, we couldn’t get him into the morning class.)  No, you can’t wear pants today; it’s a 102.  You know very well both legs are in the same whole.

I reorganized his chore chart and decided that it was time to make sure Tornado E did these things on his own instead of reminding me to brush Tornado E’s teeth.  (I know.  I’m a bad mom.)  I also made Tornado S one, so that I would remember to brush his teeth too.  (Yeah, I know.)

Now Tornado E will brush his teeth, wash his face, comb his hair, actually putting on his clothes, and making his bed without any help from me.  Ok, with some minor help.  He’s supposed to do this between breakfast and playing.  Once Mommy has declared it time to get ready for the day, no more playing until it’s done.  No leaving the bedroom until it’s done.  No kung fu fighting on the bed until it is done.  I don’t care if Ti Lung doesn’t wear a shirt you have to.

I started it last week with touch and go success, but they had enough stars for a treat, but I forgot all about it.  So today I showed Tornado E his new chart with the added bed making, since I forgot last week, and I told Tornado E if he completes all his chores and gets all his stars, I would take him out for ice cream.

Not only will my mornings begin to run smoother.  (Stop chuckling; it could happen.)  But now I get to go out for ice cream on Saturday.  Win-win.

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A quick, oh so quick, note

A quick morning post to say that I have no idea if I’ll actually write a real post later.  It’s going to be 102 today.  One hundred and two degrees, people!  And my baby brother has invited us to take shelter at my parents’ pool.  (He can do this because my parents are still out of town until this afternoon.)  So I’ll be over there.  But first it’s time to do a little birthday shopping for the pickiest person I know.  Is it wrong to give your spouse a gift certificate when you know he’ll never remember to use it?  What?  We’re out of bread already!  But I just bought some . . . . Oh, it has been a while.  I might as well get the pound cake for the petit fours for the bridal shower on Sunday while I’m at it.  Oh a text from the BFF.  What’s she doing us so early?  Right, that pesky job thing.  Apparently she’s ordering me to the doctor’s today with the threat she’ll catch the next plane here to drag me to one if I don’t go on my own.  She’s right.  Nine days with a sore throat is too long, but honestly, I thought it was due to allergies at first.  It also goes to prove that I haven’t gotten The Look down yet.  Does any one have pointers?  Ok, I’ve got to vacuum before the boys destroy the main room, which by the sounds of it, they are nicely on their way.  How cute is this?  Evan woke me up with the doctor kit, trying to make me feel better.  Boy, I love stream of conscious writing.

My Best Parenting Advice

I talk the big talk, but really most of my advice is a little weak.  So dear Violinist, you have a week, and I hope you’re more prepared then I was because I was so damn sure I was NOT having that kid today.  And the kid disagreed.  So I figured I sum up my best jewels in one post.



The Diaper Bag: Have two.  One that you take with you, and an emergency one with wipes, diapers, a blanket, and a change of clothes in the trunk.  You’ll be amazed how many times you’ll need it.  In the bag you carry, never forget zip lock bags, in case you can’t find a trash, and a small tube of diaper cream because it’ll saves asses, yours and hers.  If you do pacifiers, ALWAYS have two.  Always carry toys.


Toys: The best toy EVER is a set of measuring spoons.  They’re shiny; they’re loud; they’re cold to put into a teething mouth.  I learned this from my grandma.  They’re also super easy to clean.


Chores: In the next few months, you need to sleep when she sleeps.  Enjoy this because it won’t happen again.  Make sure your sweet husband pitches in.  Failing that, “dishes, your new home is now the dishwasher.”  Use the dishwasher like a new cabinet.  It helps.


Naps: When you decide not to sleep when she does, don’t turn off the phone or put off vacuuming.  The kid has got to learn to sleep through distractions, or you’re going to have a hard time with naps when she’s a toddler.


Colic: Most kids get some form of it.  It’s normal.  Both my boys had it due to gas.  If it’s gas, Mylocon drops and baby reverse crunches.  Every one told me to cut out things from my diet, broccoli, cucumbers, caffeine, chocolate.  When they got to chocolate, I freaked out and called the doctor, who said don’t change your diet because the baby has to learn to deal with those foods eventually.


Random Weirdness: Babies do weird things, like turn purple, shit ALL THE TIME, make choking sounds.  If you have a doubt, talk to your pediatrician before you become Dr. Mom.  This will keep you from freaking out and doing something stupid.


Stupid: You’re going to do something stupid.  You’re a first time mom, and she’ll survive.  You’re going to have this crazy irrational fear that won’t make any sense to any one but you.  My mom was worried someone was going to microwave me, and I, well, it still seems rational to me, so I don’t know.


Phases: Always remember “This too shall pass.”  This applies to those horrible nights of colic and teething because she won’t do it forever.  This applies to those cute sweet moments because she won’t do it forever.



Well, I think that covers all my advice, but then I’m aiming low and hope to get my boys out of diapers and out of juvy.  So, ladies, does anyone else have anything to add?



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Teenage Attitude

Evan: Mommy, can I watch Backyardigans for a second?


Me: Yes.


(five minutes later)


Me: Evan, I need you to set the table.


Evan: Not right now, Mommy.  I’m watching Backyardigans.  Shh.  I’ll do it in a little while.


Oh, really?

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The Vacuum Monster

Every house has one monster robot that roars with the sounds that make toddlers scurry in fear to the safety of the couch, where they watch wide-eyed as their mother maneuvers the terrifying beast.  As they pray for salvation, the monster’s progress across the house is relatively brief, and the children wonder how long it will be before the beast wakes and comes after them.  That monster is the vacuum. 


I remember when those first few months of life the baby slept through the drowning sound.  Heck, Evan slept through my mother and me screaming and yelling as we chased a huge lizard out of the house, when my mom decided she should move ALL the furniture around to vacuum.  Granted, I just had the carpets done two weeks before, and now I’ve an irrational fear of lizards, which I used to catch, but the damn thing landed on my bare foot.  I can still feel its tiny nails digging into my skin.  Shudder.


Now where was I?


So for a while babies sleep peacefully during the vacuuming sessions.  I could put the vacuum all the way under his crib and not wake Evan or Sean.  I actually worried that the baby was screaming and I couldn’t hear it.  Those were the days, my friend.  Then something happened.  Peaceful sleeping turned to fear.  And I watched each boy scuttle away from the loud noise.


At first, Evan was upset, when he was awoken by the vacuum.  Not by fear, but Evan believed he was missing something truly awesome going on downstairs, and the hell he was going to miss that.  I still remember when my old college roommate was visiting and carried a very pissed off Evan who was rudely awoken by that noisy, fun robot.  Evan shot me a look of pure malice.  Sorry, if I knew you loved it so much, I would have let you do it.


Then one day I left the vacuum accidently plugged in.  Evan walked around it, touching, caressing, exploring that dirty thing.  I thought nothing of it as I watched and ate my breakfast.  (Yes, until recently I vacuumed before breakfast because that’s when the floor was the cleanest.)  Ooh, the levers.  Ooh, the hose.  Aww, look through the window to see the wonderful dirt piling up.  Then Evan placed his foot down on the on/off lever, which, unlike the usual vacuum, is on the bottom near the pedal to allow you to move the handle down, and that vacuum gave a shout.  Evan jumped three feet and landed five feet away.  Luckily Evan didn’t push with enough weight to actually click on the vacuum.  As poor Evan cried in fear, I did what every good mom does.  Laugh.  Laughing I held him, trying to assure him that everything was fine.  That was the day Evan and the vacuum became distrustful enemies, and Evan, learning his lesson, kept his distance, realizing that the only safe haven was up on the couch.


Now Sean never had an affair with the vacuum.  Once Sean realized the vacuum’s existence, he was suspicious of it, demanding to be held as I vacuumed.  I quickly learned how to navigate the house with a baby on my hip, pushing the vacuum.  By now I was completely paranoid over the old and stained carpet, and I was vacuuming every other day, going over the carpet at least three times.  Hey, that’s where my babies play!  I can’t see why we can’t replace it with something cheap just for now.


But the relationship of the vacuum has changed this last month.


First off, Evan watched as I used the vacuum hose to clean a toddler arm chair that our neighbor so graciously gave us.  As I vacuumed off ten years of dust, I noticed a sword point next to the hose.  I turned to see Evan holding his sword with one hand and his lawn mower in his other hand, parked slightly behind him at the same angle I had the vacuum.  I watched as Evan mirrored my every move.  I turned to shut off the vacuum, and Evan did the same.


Evan: Phew.  That was hard work, Mommy, but we did it.  It’s all clean now.  We vacuumed the chair.


Ok.  Thanks.  Unfortunately, when I put the vacuum away, Evan did not do the same with his “vacuum,” leaving it to sit in the middle of the living room as I moved the chair into his room.


Last week after I had finished vacuuming the family room, I grabbed the ringing phone, leaving the vacuum out but unplugged.  (See, I’m not a sadist; I learn from my mistakes.)  After assuring the telemarketer that I was just the nanny and didn’t know when the owners of the house would be home, I turned to see Evan and Sean boning up on their sword fighting skills on the vacuum.  The helpless vacuum was at their mercy as they walloped him good.  Evan, jumping around and attacking, yelled for some Mommy back-up, and seeing how much I hate to vacuum, I did what every good mother would do.  I grabbed the sword and started beating the vacuum too.


Now Sean had no fear of the vacuum, once the battle was over, and I fear that this might just be a bad thing.  You see today I began vacuuming (after breakfast because now the boys run and jump on the couch shouting at the vacuum), and Sean just sat in the middle of the floor playing with his police SUV, paying no mind to the vacuum barreling down his way or the lady who was pushing it.  The vacuum even bumped him, and Sean just shrugged and kept putting the little Duplo man into the SUV and taking him out again.  Leaving the two feet diameter spot of dirt alone, I passed Sean to finish up with the walk way, only to feel a tug on the cord.  I turn to find Sean had abandoned his game to play with the cord.  He stood, shaking it, smiling at me.  How could I resist not shutting off the vacuum and giving him a hug and kiss?  Well, the walk ways didn’t get vacuumed.  Hope you all don’t stop by today or tomorrow.


I’m assuming we’ll come full circle in a few years when the boys begin to loathe and fear the vacuum again when it becomes part of their chores.  Ah, child labor, the only reason to have kids.

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Laundry and the Blankie

So yesterday I finally decided I’d trick Sean from his blankie.  Sean has fallen in love with this ultra-soft baby blanket with the words “Thank God for Little Boys” embroidered in the cornor, which used to be Evan’s (I bought it for plane trips, dressing Evan in as much identifying blue and mommy’s boy stuff; I was paranoid).  Sean has been sleeping with his blankie for several months and recently has been carrying it around the house.  Now it had started having black and grey poke-a-dots.  When he dropped the blanket to grab the remote (I am obviously raising men), I grabbed the blanket, realizing it’s been a while since I washed his sheets.


As I examined his sheets, it dawned on me that I didn’t remember when the last time I washed his sheets.  The set that was being used had a busy print of white stars on a blue back ground, perfect for a new baby because it hid all stains.  I’m sure you remember how the light colored sheets were dirty in a blink of an eye.  I’m really horrible about remembering to wash sheets for some reason.  In my single girl stage, I washed them every two weeks with the rest of my laundry; now I have to write “wash sheets” on the calendar or I’d forget.


As Sean flipped through the channels, I heavily doused the blankie and the other laundry with stain remover and threw them into the washing machine on the maximum heavy-soiled, delicate cycle.  By this time, Sean knew something was up and came to investigate.




What?  Did he actually say blankie?  No, baby, Mommy’s washing it.  Let’s go play with trucks.  Hoping he’d follow, I left the laundry room, heading for the toys.  I turned around to show Sean a truck when I saw him leaving the laundry room, holding a large dust bunny from the dryer trap that I had thrown away the night before.  Gross.  Sean rubbed it on his face.  Double gross.  I quickly grabbed is soft teddy bear and showed it to Sean.  He immediately dropped the dust bunny and grabbed the bear.  I swooped in, grabbed the dust bunny, and disposed of it.


As I emptied the clothes from the washer to the dryer, Evan came up behind me, carrying the basket I throw the dirty kitchen towels.


“Excuse me, Mommy, I have to do laundry now!”


He nudged me out of the way and began putting the towels into the washing machine, and Sean appeared to help his brother.  I was a little surprised and a bit amused.  I do most of the laundry at night because I tend to forget to get wet, clean clothes out of the dryer if I don’t do it right away.  As you can imagine, California heat and damp clothes in an air tight container is not the best circumstance; hence, I wash the clothes at night and drop them into the dryer the next morning.


Evan looked up and smiled.  “All done, Mommy.  Seanny, shut the door.”  Sean shut the washing machine door, and the boys went off the play.  I shrugged, threw in more dirty towels, set the machine, and followed them to play.  If you can’t beat them, join them.


And yes, as soon as the dryer was done, I pulled out Sean’s blankie and handed it to him.  He hugged it like he hadn’t seen it in months; then he gave me a suspicious look and kept it near him the rest of the day.  I promise, kid, I won’t take it away again until it turns grey. 

A random post

I just got my new cell phone.  I ordered it online because we all know a toddler can really tear up a cell phone store.  I made sure I could get the most expensive free one I could.  One grade higher than my husband’s fancy, nice phone.  Does that make me sound competitive, immature, or materialistic?  I’m hoping for competitive.  So now I have to spend some time playing with it.  On top of all the chores that need to be done before my parents and my grandma get here tomorrow.  I know.  I know.  They know I have little kids, and they had little kids, so they don’t expect a perfectly clean house.  But I still have to put something together, right?  Besides my grandma hasn’t been to my house in years, and she’s never stayed overnight.  And of course, Sean is teething and NEEDS to be held, so I really should be getting things done while they nap instead of blogging.  But I feel bad that I haven’t been able to read all my favorite blogs in two days and all the blogs of people who have been so kind as to write on my blog.  I swear I’m getting to you.  I’m just a slow reader, but I do have an incredible retention rate, so I’ll be able to tell my husband and best friend everything I read.  Ok.  Now you know what my emails look like.  For all you non-English majors, we call this “stream of consciousness.”

Men’s chores: A Conversation

I bet you think it will be between my husband and I, and you would be wrong.  During my daily conversation with my mom, I mentioned how I asked my husband to fill up my SUV that he was borrowing.  Amazingly enough he didn’t forget, and I was very glad.  (Which in a way is kind of pathetic that I get excited that my husband does something I asked)  Any ways, the conversation:

Me: . . . So he actually filled the tank.

Mom: You know, Pauline’s (a friend of my mom’s) husband always fills up her tank. 

Me: I know, Mom.  (Can we feel a lecture coming on?)

Mom: And your dad fills up the Mustang about 95% of the time.

(And here I thought he did that just to get away and be on his own for a little bit.  My dad’s a lone wolf.)

Me: I know, Mom.  It’s just I feel that who ever is driving the car, when it hits an eighth of a tank, can go fill it up or at least replace the gas they use.  My problem is he has left the car on empty when I’ve had the kids.  So it’s nice that he filled up the tank.

Mom: Well, we just think it’s a husband’s chore.  (silence)  What are you thinking?  (Is it that obvious?)

Me: I was thinking that you raised me to believe that there were no men’s chores or women’s chores.  They were just chores that needed to be done.  If the dishes needed to be done, then someone would do it.  If the garbage needs to be taken out, someone will have to do it.  You taught me to do “guy” chores.

Mom: (pause) I was a good mother, wasn’t I?

Me: Yes.