Saturday, March 26, 2011

What's Grosser Than Gross?

For those of you who have been reading my blog, you may be wondering why so many of my entries center around less than savoury topics.  They may leave you throwing up a little in your mouth and wonder why on earth I would decide to share these stories?  If I wanted my stories to be less "disgusting," I'd have to write about someone else's life. Just when I thought I had shared the worst of my booger, piss, shit, vomit stories, things got grosser.

My goal, as a Stay At Home Mom, is to try and keep my kids occupied.  I don't want them camped out in front of the TV.  I don't want them wreaking too much havoc on the house and destroying things. I don't want Colin to scale the pantry shelves or pour salt on the kitchen table and then lick it up.  In the winter, this can be a great challenge.  Most days we head to the gym because the kids can run around in the daycare and interact with other kids.  They have a ton of toys, a giant tube structure with slides, arts and crafts, computers and a basketball court.  We usually grab a snack on the way out and either head home or run some errands.  Other times we stick around and go swimming in their indoor pool.  Other days we head to the library or another favorite is going to Burger King where they have a playland.

Tuesday was a pretty rainy, dreary day and I knew we really didn't have much going on.  I thought it would be a good day to head to Burger King so they could run around a little more. I invited my friend to join us figuring she might be in the same boat with her two year old.

We manage to eat our lunch outside the play area, knowing full well if we bring our food in their it will never get eaten.  The kids start playing and initially Colin drives his new truck, courtesy of his kid's meal, around the floor.  Eventually he makes his way up into the rest of the structure, which lucky for me he can maneuver pretty well on his own now.  Some of the other kids that are there start to leave and it is now just my kids and my friend's son.  She and I are chatting and I look up to see Colin with something in his hand and it looks like he is starting to put it in his mouth.  Upon closer look, I realize he is drinking out of a rogue chocolate milk that did not belong to him.  I crawl up through the play zone as fast as I can and nearly take all the skin off my back squeezing through one of the openings.  The damage was done.  I can't even begin to imagine how long that milk has been up there. I look at what was left and it isn't sour, so that's a plus.  One of the BK employees laughs and asks where he found it.  He assures me the oldest it could be was from this morning since they clean and sanitize it every night.  Oh, whew!  Chances are it was only about 3 hours old!  GREAT!  Ample time for strep throat organisms to multiply nicely!  That's gross.

Wanna know what's grosser than gross?  Listen to this. 

The next day was a swimming day.  I have to admit, I am not a big fan of taking the kids swimming.  First of all, I don't really like the water.  To quote Martin Short, "I'm not a strong swimmer." I also have to be on high alert the whole time we are there so neither of the kids drowns since Colin is fearless and has been known to just put his head in the water and start doing the doggy paddle towards the deep end.  The amount of work that goes into to getting the kids ready to go swimming for a half hour is downright exhausting.  I usually put Maddie's swim suit on under her clothes when we get ready in the morning, so that is one less step I have to take in getting them ready.  With Colin, I have to put a swim diaper on him.  As I am changing him, he pees on the floor.  I rush to move my running shoes and his swim suit that are in the path. Unfortunately, he manages to get some on his swim suit.  Oh well, that's what chlorine is for, right?  I collect our swim toys which consists of a cup, a bulldozer, a race car and a Mater bath toy.  Each time we go swimming, Colin manages to steal other kids toys.  I started off bringing balls, and he stole some kid's car.  The next time I brought a car, he stole another kids truck.  The next time, he stole a bulldozer, so you get the picture.  While we are swimming, Maddie has to pee and I have to drag the two kids into the bathroom soaking wet for her to go.  Once that is done we have about 10 minutes left to swim before adult swim starts and that was our cue to go home and eat lunch.

Then, there's getting them dressed again after we go swimming.  They are slippery and I have a harder time catching them.  I worry they will fall on the tile near the pool or in the locker room. The locker room has got to be the worst. Every surface is either tile or granite or some sort of split-your-head open-concussion inducing material.  As I am battling to get all our stuff out of the locker, Colin is usually climbing up on a stone bench and running up and down it.  This time, he runs toward the door to the pool, which I now know he can push open.  If I turn my back for a second, he could be doing laps in the lap pool that is only 4 feet from the locker room door. I finally get him to stay in the locker room and he goes for some woman's hair straightener that is plugged in when I move that out of his way, he goes for the open outlet next to it.  I am pretty sure if there is a place that defies all childproofing laws, this is it.

I take the kids into the changing rooms that also have a stone bench and a shower. The door to the changing room has a handle that Colin can easily open, so there is usually a good chance he will fling the door open while I am half naked.  Did I mention it is a family locker room?  They won't allow you to bring opposite sex children in the women's locker room.  When Colin isn't exposing me to the man and his 3 year old daughter standing outside our changing room, he is in the shower trying to lick water off the floor.  Yes, while most people wear flip flops to prevent getting a disease from these very floors, my son is licking them.  I grab him and try to keep him from going in there, but the shower curtain doesn't really provide much assistance. 

On this particular day, I decide to give the kids showers at they gym so I wouldn't have to worry about it when I got home or do it later that night since Tom was out of town and I already would have my hands full at bedtime.  We get in the changing room/shower and I strip the kids down and put them in the shower.  Everything was going smoothly until Colin crouches down and starts to drink the water off the floor again.
Before I could grab him again I notice what quite possibly could be THE most disgusting moments of my life as a mom, actually of my life EVER.  Colin is dropping a deuce on the shower floor.  I immediately grab him, rinse him off and get everyone out of the shower.  Oh...MY....GOD.  I start to panic as I rinse his business down the drain grabbing handfuls of soap from the dispenser on the wall in the shower and throw it down on the floor.  I certainly hope it is antibacterial.  I should have known better.  He has been known to do this at home, but I have the necessary tools to clean up his mess, including a toilet right next to the tub to flush!  I also hoped no one outside the changing room hears me say, "Oh no, Colin!  Did you poo on the floor?"  Then they would know for sure what I was doing in there and I just wanted to die.  You know that awful feeling that despite the fact you just got out of the shower, you are sweating profusely?  That, mixed with the feeling like I might yak.  Luckily I get my whits about me before I have another mess to clean up.

Unfortunately, my diaper bag is in the locker outside the changing room.  With no other option, I grab a towel and try to clean up his back side.  Unfortunately, it wasn't "a clean break."  At this point, I start to realize what risks I take on a daily basis using public showers and public towels at the gym.  Lord knows what other people do with them if this is what I am doing.

I finally get everyone dressed and out of the changing room/shower and quickly rinse the towel off to avoid putting a skid-marked towel in the dirty towel bin.  I'm sure they've seen worse, but I don't want to be "one of those people." I scrub my hands until they practically bleed, dry Maddie's hair as well as my own and pack up our wet suits, wet toys, my sweaty gym clothes and whatever other stuff we usually schlep around with us.  I run out of there so fast, and just want to get home to take another shower.

I guess this is just another thing we do as mothers for the sake of our children.  Despite this experience, I will still take the kids swimming again because they really do enjoy it.  However, I will NEVER again step foot in that locker room without a pair of flip flops and my own towels and I suggest you all do the same.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nap Nazi

Yes, I am the "Nap Nazi."  Before I start, a disclaimer is necessary.  If you don't believe in naps, or schedules or strict routines, I don't mean to offend.  That is why I use the term "Nazi" to describe myself.  Also, if you find the term "Nazi" offending, I assure you it is merely a term used to describe the strictness of my nap schedules, much like the "Soup Nazi" was about serving soup on Seinfeld; an exaggeration of the excessively strict regimentation he constantly demands of his patrons.

I guess you could also say I am the "Bedtime Nazi" as well, because the same rules apply for putting the kids down at a reasonable time.  I am also a firm believer in making the bedtime process consistent and not carry it out too long. While there are plenty of times I wish I could just have the kids "skip a nap" here and there or "let them stay up late," I know my kids and truth be told, the less they sleep, the less they sleep.

What I mean is, they aren't the type of kids who can catch up on sleep.  If they go to bed late, they will not sleep in the next morning.  In fact, in Maddie's case, she actually wakes up earlier than she normally would when she stays up late.  Missed naps make for a very long day for both the kids and me.  And when we do have screwed up sleep schedules, the after-effects last for a good three days. I also know, that despite how I portray my child in my blog, they are relatively well behaved children and I think this is in large part because they aren't sleep deprived ticking time bombs.  It is worth showing up late to birthday parties, making my mom serve dinner on holidays at certain times to accommodate the kids' nap schedules, leaving get-togethers early and cranking up the music while yelling "WAKE UP" when the kids fall asleep in the car when we are 15 minutes from the house knowing full well that I won't be able to just carry them upstairs and have them fall back to sleep.  Instead, we will pull up on the driveway and they will wake up and that 15 minutes will be the only nap they see all day.

Naptime is precious.  Not only because it allows the kids to be well rested, but it gives me a break.  It is when I get things done whether it be cleaning, getting a quick workout in the garage on the elliptical machine, a cup of tea in peace, a phone conversation without being interrupted, folding laundry without someone unfolding it for me, if I'm lucky a shower and yes, a time when I can take a nap.  Sorry folks, I know you are probably thinking, must be nice to be a Stay At Home Mom and be able to take naps in the afternoon.  Screw you.

I don't mean to be harsh because I know how hard it was when I worked and had to deal with all the things that prevented me from sleeping at night and then have to get up in the morning, get Maddie ready for daycare and head to work.  There were plenty of days where I felt like a Zombie Ad Sales Rep, but I got to drop her off, take a deep breath and then be around adults.  Have adult conversations.  Drink a cup of coffee and talk to people on the phone.

Now, I get up at whatever un-Godly hour of the night to tend to a screaming child and get approximately 3-4 hours of sleep, most of which with a stuffed animal crammed into my back with a foot in my ribcage, and then get up in the morning and there aren't many deep breaths, cups of coffee (at least in peace), adult interaction or phone conversations that don't include 15 interruptions.

My job requires heavy lifting, handling of potentially hazardous material, extreme patience and grace under pressure, negotiating skills, high energy, manual labor, cooking, cleaning, etc. etc. you get the picture.  Enough justifying my afternoon nap, I'm just sayin’...

At night, getting the kids to bed allows me to clean up the toys without them being taken back out, finish the dishes from dinner, fold more laundry, watch something besides Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Phineas and Ferb and let's face it, drink wine.  I will not even begin to justify my glass of wine when the kids go to bed.

So, imagine my dismay when this structure and schedule-whore is faced with a crib jumping, menace-making son who takes at least an hour and a half to put to bed. 

A few months ago, Colin woke up in the middle of the night screaming and crying and then refused to go back to bed.  I finally got him back in his crib and he fell asleep.  However, the next night when I put him to bed, he threw a conniption fit and started to crawl out of the crib.  We got nervous, so we took that mattress out of the crib and set up a little bed for him on the floor.  Once I lay with him for a little bit, he fell asleep and didn't wake up until the a pile of laundry in the corner of his room. We realized we could still lower the mattress one more notch and he could no longer escape.  Eventually he stopped the crying and carrying on at bedtime and we were back to normal.

Two weeks ago, he awoke in the middle of the night screaming again.  I went in to him and he was in hysterics saying, "Hold Me! Hold Me!"  I tried everything to get him back to sleep and eventually just brought him in to bed with Tom and I.  Now, I know that this is considered a major "No, No" in all the parenting books and I am certainly not a fan of "Family Bed" however, at some point we all need to sleep.  I didn't want him waking Maddie and Tom had to get up to go to work, so I did what I had to do.

We went through the same thing with Maddie at about the same age.  She woke in the middle of the night screaming at the top of her lungs and would get so worked up she would throw up.  So, not only did I have to deal with a screaming kid, I had to clean up puke in the middle of the night.  Oh, and I was pregnant with Colin at the time.  I tried to avoid having her come to bed with us or get in to bed with her even setting up an air mattress on her bedroom floor, but she would just stand in her crib and scream at me.  Once she was out of the crib, I would sometimes get into bed with her until she feel asleep and then sneak off to my room. 

Luckily, she outgrew this stage and it isn't like she climbs into bed with us every night. When she does wake up in the middle of the night, I can go in there, find her stuffed animal she sleeps with and tell her to go back to sleep without her freaking out like she used to.  Unlike Colin, she never tried to climb out of her crib or even her bed with a guardrail.  She always calls for me to come get her.  In fact, we took the guardrail off this week to give to Colin and she STILL won't get out without someone coming to get her.  It's good, but she refuses to get out of bed in the middle of the night if she has to go potty too, which means she still has to wear a Pull Up to bed despite the fact she's been potty trained for a year and a half.

And now we have Colin.  The first night he officially climbed out of the crib by himself, I was reading to Maddie and putting her to bed and I heard his doorknob jiggle and next thing you know he was in Maddie's room listening to me read "Snow White" to her.  I'm not sure how he did it, but my guess was it wasn't real gracefully since he had a nice red strawberry on the side of his face.  We immediately removed the front off his crib and turned it in to a toddler bed.  He chose to make his way downstairs and curl up on the couch and watch "Diner's Drive Inn's and Dives" and when I told him to come back upstairs to see his new bed, he simply said, "No." Clearly he wasn't really excited about his new pseudo big boy bed, but at least he wouldn't break his neck if he tried to climb out.

He really seemed to like Maddie's bed, so I figured it might just be better to graduate him to a real "big boy bed." Luckily, we had a twin bed ready and waiting and the next night we set it up and put Maddie's guard rail on it.  He enjoyed jumping on it before we put the sheets on, but once actual bedtime rolled around, he was pissed and kept saying, "NO."  We put him to bed and put a gate up at the door, which he proceeded to climb over, screaming and crying the whole time.  I finally got Maddie to sleep and then shepherded him back to his room.  I sat on the floor next to his bed until he fell asleep. 

At one point when I was putting the kids down for a nap I catered the idea of having them nap in the same bed since they seemed to do pretty well on our trip to Arizona when they napped together.  Not so much.  They wrestled each other in his bed and I finally convinced Maddie to return to her room to her own bed for her nap.  I had to bribe her with ice cream, but eventually she gave in.

I also realized that having them sleep together might not be a good idea, because again, they would never learn to go to bed on their own and all I could think of was my Aunt Virge and Uncle Tom.  They were my Great Aunt and Uncle who confused me as a child because all of my other Aunts and Uncles who lived together were married, but these two were brother and sister.  Long story, but all I knew was co-dependence was a long-term risk for a short-term solution. 

I continued to sit in his room until he would fall asleep.  I would watch his every move to see when he would start doing the "involuntary twitch" and then try to sneak over the gate.  I learned two things.  1) There is a squeaky floorboard right at the threshold of his bedroom. 2) I am not very graceful when it comes to gate hopping.  I almost always woke him up as I was exiting.

After several nights of this process, I realized that it was taking longer and longer for him to fall asleep.  I knew if I continued to sit in his room while he fell asleep, he would never learn to go to bed on his own.  I was to the point where the only way I could cope with putting him to bed another night was to just bring a glass of wine with me at sit at the end of the bed.   I realized that a little "tough love" was necessary and he would just have to cry it out.  We were lucky that we never really had to do this when they were infants because they went to sleep without a peep.  At least when they are infants, they can't get out of the crib. One of the nights we were battling Colin to get to sleep Tom said we should have put something heavy in his crib. I wasn't sure what he meant and he explained putting a cover on the crib. I explained that crating our child probably wasn't appropriate. Since crating him wasn't an option, I was forced to go get doorknob covers so he couldn't open his bedroom door.  I read him is books, said prayers and sang him a song and then "night-night."  He screamed bloody murder the whole time I put Maddie to bed, but by the time she was telling me her favorite part of the day, he had stopped banging his head on the door and was quiet.  I looked on the video monitor and could see that he had made his way in to his bed and was fast asleep.  Success.

It has been almost a week and the while the last several nights he has cried (and so have I) when he goes to bed, each night he cries less.  The last two nights he didn't wake up in the middle of the night crying for me.  All in all, I would say the situation is improving.  I wasn't sure if bribing him like I bribe Maddie would work, but he spotted this Matchbox Car carry case shaped like a tire at Target the other day and I told him if he slept in his big boy bed like he was supposed to, I would get it for him.  I took him to the store on Sunday and rewarded him with his "Wheel" as he calls it. 

As for Maddie, I still think she is more excited about Colin's new sleeping arrangement than he is and claims his bed is better than hers.  She did help me put him to bed one night by waving her magic wand on him in hopes he would go to bed without crying and would sleep through the night.  She asked me if I cried when I went to sleep.  "No Maddie, I sleep when I go to sleep.  I only cry when I don't get enough sleep."  She also informed me one day that some snakes and lizards sleep during the day and are awake at night.  I told her that is called "Nocturnal" and asked if she knew any other animals that were awake during the night.  Her response?  "Colin." 

I think it is relatively safe to say we have survived yet another parenting milestone and can look back on this experience and laugh like so many other events.  Well, gotta run.  The kids just woke up from their naps.