Success! (Or Four Down)

The birthday party at the Children’s Museum was a complete success. No muss, no fuss, and all the kids had fun. Plus, the museum was nearly empty because it was Steelers’ game day (boo).

This is what they looked like in their pretty dresses.

Pap-pap, Tadone, and the Girls. And, yes, if it looks as if Kate is being physically restrained, rest assured, she is being physically restrained. She was crazy on Sunday. Thank goodness there were so few people were in the Children’s Museum. I could pretty much let her run.

The Party Girl.

My Wild Child. With Lobster.

Fun with Water.

Look What I Did!



Pet Shops!

All-in-all, a Very Successful Day.

Wishful Thinking

Monkey, much like the girl in the song from Knocked Up“Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright III — wants every thing she sees.

“I wish I had this baby cat, Mama.”
“I wish I had that book, Mama.”
“I wish I had that dog, Mama.”
“I wish I had that toy, Mama.”
“I wish I had that slide in my yard, Mama.”

This, obviously, is an extension of the materialism that started when she discovered The Littlest Pet Shop pets.

Although I started that chart for her in order for her to learn about earning things, I must admit I have completely forgotten about it over the last… oh, two months (mom of the year, right here). No tracking, no magnets, no money.

I mean to do it, I do. Especially when she goes off wishing for stuff. It isone more thing, one more blessed thing, and I feel that I cannot do onemorething. I feel like Monkey should remind me to do her chart after dinner and before bath time. Every night. I want my 4-year-old to remind me to do something that I started — and mean to continue — with lofty, sincere intentions.

I toy with the idea of just giving her a dollar every week. She is a good girl; she (mostly) does the stuff on the chart: clearing the table, sharing with Bun (when she wants). But I’m not sure just handing over money would be teaching her quite the same thing as earning money for specific things.

I feel maxed out as it is, and I feel awful for feeling maxed out. When things are added to my day-to-day list of things to do, it makes me want to go to sleep. I have a dining room that needs a serious cleaning before Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday; it won’t be done Saturday because I’m a little busy; I have three loads of laundry that need to be folded (Lost night is also Fold Laundry night); I have a husband who needs me to have a healthy meal ready for him when he gets home at 8:30 p.m. — and I want to help him with this; the dirty laundry that lurks in my basement is intimidating (still left over from Cook Forest weekend); and, and, and… bills, daily cleaning, children needing to be loved and fed and washed. And a full-time job. And stuff I want to do for me. And weekends full of family and friend obligations.

Am I doing something wrong? Is this the common state of motherhood when the children are young and the husband works 80 hours a week? Am I just destined to lose my mind?

Lost Hiatus: Have a Happy Post Day

For days in my head, as this cold virus and its attendant nasty cough has kicked my ass, I have been thinking about the post entitled: How Being a Mom Means You Don’t Get Any Sick Days. Especially how this cold virus and its attendant nasty cough utterly defeated me this weekend, and yet I could not collapse into a heap of sleep-deprived, stuffy-head, hacking-up-a-lung achy-ness and pain until Monday, and then again yesterday. (I am pretty sure that going to work and then coming home with the kids would not have kicked my ass so thoroughly Tuesday if I had actually been able to sleep. But that attendant nasty cough had other plans for me, Delsym and hot water with honey and lemon — and possibly a shot of whiskey — be damned, and entertained me endlessly, or, rather, until about 1:30 in the morning.)

But instead, I thought, “No. No. Instead of bitching about it, let’s go around the world and tell people what you love about being a mom.” After these many posts about sorrow, and loss, and the gifts that loss can bring, let’s do something happy.

(Oh, and the Lost post? Due to various and sundry health issues, not all of them wholly my own, Lost theorizing on this here site has been postponed until further notice. Or Sunday, which ever comes first.)

Here are a few things I love about being a mom:

* My girls’ giggles. Monkey has developed an appreciation for slapstick, and nothing makes her giggle harder than animated pratfalls and physical high-jinks. Bun laughs at anything Monkey laughs at, and in turn, tries to get Monkey giggling at her.

* My girls’ love of and appreciation for music. Sometimes, instead of a DVD, they want me to put on the CD and dance around to the tunes. They love singing in the car. They squabble over the portable CD player (note to relatives: a good gift opportunity right there). Sometimes, Monkey will be humming a song, and Bun will recognize it, and start singing along. It blows my mind.

* My girls’ imaginations. Everything is alive, including forks and spoons, and cheddar bunnies. Everything talks and sings and falls and climbs and needs to be tucked in. Pretend naps need snores. Pretend waking ups need dramatic cover-throwing-asides and loud announcements: “I wake up!” Littlest Pet Shoppers (as Monkey calls them now) need names, and need to be brushed and fed, and each one needs its own home inside a plastic Easter egg, which in turn needs to be piled into a basket and carried to bed.

* My girls’ ability to love on each other and (on occasion) share. Their ability to play together, if not for long periods of time, for long enough periods of time. My girls holding hands with each other, and with me, as we walk down the street or in a store.

* My girls’ enthusiasm — for anything. Time for a bath? Yay! cries Bun, throwing both hands in the air. Going to a restaurant for dinner? Yippee, Monkey yells, jumping up and down. Heading to the library? Stupendous! is the girls’ reactions as they scramble for socks and shoes and coats and toys that need to be brought along for the ride. And most of all, for their enthusiasm upon seeing me, upon seeing their father, upon learning that it is Saturday and Mommy doesn’t have to go to work, upon pancakes on Sunday with Daddy.

* Their boundless love of me and Daddy, and Nonna & Pap-pap, and Bella & Tadone, and for just about everyone, really, and life itself. Their joy of and their wonder at it all.

(The first two are other Burgh moms, both of whom I suspect of having a more international outlook on life than I, and the contacts that would go with that. Do not ask me why I have this impression, although one of them is married to a Brit, and the other to a lawyer. The other three I found here.)
Masquerading as a Normal Person
Playard Mommy (New Zealand)
Overflow… (Cebu — the Philippines. Yes, I had to look it up.)
Missionary Moms (Russia)

Quickie Updates

I took Bun off the Augmentin on Tuesday night because of the poop problems, the obviously painful cramping, and the terrible diaper rash and yeast infection. Wednesday, the doctor changed the Rx to Zithroamax, and I have such a happy Bun again! Diaper rash has disappeared, poop is back to normal, energy levels are off the charts (hers, not mine unfortunately), and she’s eating great again. I feel so much better!


So far on the rewards chart Monkey only consistently clears the table. I don’t think she’s ever gotten a magnet for “No Whining”; sharing, listening, and no temper tantrums also remain challenging; on the other hand, she is getting very good at remembering to say “please” and “thank you” without prompting.

Last Saturday we went to the toy store to buy a birthday gift for my oldest nephew, who is 8 all of a sudden. We counted up Monkey’s money, and between the chart and a couple little holidays (Valentine’s Day, etc.), she had $9. I did let her get a $7 Little Pet. She immediately started making plans to buy more, more, more!

I don’t think she’s quite getting it yet.


Either my allergies are going to be a nightmare this year, or I’m getting a cold.

Problem-Solving with Magnets

Around the time that we were thinking of beginning to think about potty-training Monkey, a friend gave us a magnetic rewards chart. According to DearDR, developmentally speaking, Monkey was still to young for such a tool, but it was nice to have and fun to play with all the little brightly colored magnets. (M&M’s worked for potty training.)

The thing has been hanging in our kitchen for about a year and a half. And after getting all kinds of advice regarding The Littlest Pet Shop toys and Monkey’s obsession with them (thanks, everyone!), I decided it was time to put the chart to work for me.

I sat down with Monkey this past Monday and explained what we were going to do so that she could earn money to get LPS stuff. She seemed interested and engaged.

We decided on six things she would or would not do on a daily basis. Before her nightly treat, she and I would decide how she did, and she would get a magnet (or not). If she has seven magnets in each category, she earns a quarter. If she has no magnets in a category, we subtract a dime. She can earn up to $1.50 a week. Does that sound like a lot? Maybe we should make it a dime for each row, subtract a nickel?

Here are the categories:
Clear the table
Put toys away
Listen to Mommy (the magnet actually says Help Mommy, but she can’t read yet, so I get to make stuff up!)
No Whining (not surprisingly, to date, she has no magnets in this row)
No Temper Tantrums

She seems very motivated, and checks with me to see how she can get her magnets. She loves to clear the table; she needs help remembering to clean up her toys (even as she is ostensibly cleaning up her toys). Listening to me is also difficult, but more from an attention standpoint. I tell her to get undressed for her bath, for example, and I end up telling her about five or six more times because she has to look at a book, talk to her animals, go potty, chase Bun…. You get the idea, no?

Temper tantrums are de riguer for Monkey when things are not going her way. And if she is too tired or too hungry, they are worse. She can really work herself into a frenzy. I wonder why.

Thursday night, I told her no about something, and I could see her temper rising. She even started to yell and raised one foot for a stomp.

Then she stopped. She clapped her hands over her mouth, and put both feet on the floor. She took a breath.

“Oh,” she said. “I almost throwed a tremper pantrum, Mommy. I’m sorry.”

I picked my jaw off the floor, and praised her to the ceiling. (And later corrected her pronunciation.) I also gave her a magnet for it. (It’s the only one in the tantrum row so far. Baby steps.)

We may be onto something.

It’s Official

I hate The Littlest Pet Shop.

It all started very innocently. Monkey got a LPS dollar-store knock-off doggie from “Santa” at dayschool. She adored it. We named him Bobble, and she carried him around every where with her for days. He came with this yellow hat-box shaped hutch, and a little teddy bear, and she just loved playing with him.

Since she liked Bobble so much, I decided that “Santa” at preschool would bring her another little pet. I picked out a bunny that also came with a teddy bear, and a pink slipper in which to sleep. The bunny was dubbed Clementine, and she and Bobble got along well.

For Christmas, I got Monkey the LPS Club House, which came with a squirrel (whose name I can’t recall) and a monkey (Salami), and a hammock, a skateboard, and some nuts and sardines. (I didn’t know monkeys ate sardines, but whatever.) Monkey — my Monkey — was in heaven.

She and Bun squabbled over them, of course. So the Binky Fairy brought Bun a turtle, which came with a wagon (to which he sticks by means of a magnet in his butt) and sunglasses — which don’t stay on his bugged out eyes. We call him Shades. Or, usually, just “tuttle”.

In terms of playing for hours, the LPS animals are wonderful. Monkey will arrange them, feed them, brush them, talk to them, endlessly. Bun just tends to grab and run, which sends Monkey screaming in pursuit, but most of the time, there are peaceful negotiations, and Monkey ends up with most of the animals. She has even begun incorporating other animals into the fold — not official LPS animals, per se, but any toy that fits into Monkey’s palm is fair game.

The problem is that the LPS club house came with what Monkey refers to as her “blue paper”. This is an 11″ x 17″ piece of LPS marketing collateral (it scares me that I know what it’s called) with all the permutations of LPS products on one side, and all the pets on the other. Monkey spends hours pouring over it. She brings it every where with her. The other day at church she had it with her, and she showed it to her preschool teacher, next to whom we ended up sitting.

She’s obsessed. She asks almost every day if we can buy something on that piece of paper. One product is the LPS Day Care, a three-story blue ‘house’ for all the LPS pets. This is the one for which she lobbies hardest. I have told her that she may get it for her birthday or Christmas. So now she checks every day how far away her birthday and Christmas are (nine and ten months, respectively — I’m going to start telling her how many days away; maybe it’ll discourage her). She tells me what pets she wants and in what order.

I made the tactical error of getting each of the girls LPS pets that came in plastic backpacks for Valentine’s Day yesterday. I thought it would scratch the itch for awhile, if you know what I mean. Monkey got a horse and Bun got a kitty — or maybe vice versa, I’ve already lost track. They both preferred playing with their pets to actually eating breakfast, which made signing loan paperwork at the bank later that morning very difficult. The backpack contained another ‘blue paper’, which is good only because Monkey’s old blue paper was much the worse for wear. It had been taped and re-taped and was still falling apart. She slept with the blue paper.

Now she wants the bird that comes in a backpack, too. She asked for it about five minutes after Bun opened her kitty (or horse). I nearly lost it.

So how do I co-exist in peace with toys that I bought for Monkey (and Bun, but she doesn’t ask to buy a new one every day — yet) but secretly want to throw out now? Toys that she clearly loves, and plays with, and cares for (mostly; those little pieces that come with them are very small and easily lost), but she only wants more of them? How do I help her be satisfied with what she has and stop asking me when she is getting more? How?