Talk, Talk

I had the longest conversation I’ve ever had with Kate recently. It wasn’t ground-breaking stuff, but it was an actual conversation, give-and-take. Her big sister isn’t even that great at the give-and-take stuff.

She was asking me questions, waiting for answers, and responding to the answers. Which sounds suspiciously like “listening” to me.

That can’t be right.

We talked about where Flora was (downstairs). We talked about what we were going to do after Aiysha changed her diaper (go get Flora and go to the farmers market). She pointed out the colors of things on the wall to me (“It’s a red apple. It’s a blue bird.”)

Shortly after Kate got her ear tubes in April — say, about two weeks later — her language took off. She had always been developmentally appropriate, but it went from two or three word sentences to five, six, seven words. From observations to questions, then checking on the answers to the questions. She started using language to make sense of things and comply with us (“First you get your diaper changed. Then we go outside to play.” “First you eat some peas. Then you can have a treat.”)

The world, it seems, started to make a different kind of sense to her. And it continues. She asks questions: “Where is Flora?’ “What are we doing after ‘yisha changes my diaper?” And after that? And after that? She pays attention. “Flora’s downstairs,” she’ll tell me. “It’s time to go to the farmers market.”

She seems to be actively seeking information now — she seems to realize how that works. And not in the rapid-fire way of her sister, who can’t let you get a word in — Flora just fires questions and requests at me; sometimes I’m not even sure what I’m answering. (This is not a critique of my older daughter. They are just wildly different girls. Which is just the way it is. I can extol Flora elsewhere.)

Of course, this will have its downsides too. Her first question this morning, for example, was, “Will you buy me Pet Shops?”

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?

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!

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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.

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

Non-OCD Toys in an OCD Household

As most parents know, toys have their own lives. They have their own stuff, and a lot of toys — especially as you get into toys for older kids — need that stuff to really work properly.

We don’t have any Legos around here yet — one advantage to having girls over boys, I guess. But believe me, more Littlest Pet Shop accessories have disappeared than actual LPS toys owned.

When you are, as DearDR and I are, a little OCD, this life of toys can be problematic.

One of the things we own right now is the Scholastic DVD set, which we love. Its packaging is very attractive. The problem? The colors. I feel compelled to put all the slim DVD cases in proper rainbow-hued order. To wit:

The first DVD in that set gives me fits. “Snowy Day” is light blue, and try as I might, I simply cannot put it with the other blues, because it interrupts the progression from green to blue.

Yeah, I know. I have a problem.

The last DVD is actually easy. It’s black, and has no where else to live but at the tail end.

One of the other toys in our collection that drives us crazy is this one:



She looks innocent enough. But when all her other little sisters are out to play? It’s kind of a nightmare.

For scale:

This toy, I am sorry to say, gives DearDR fits. Bun loves it. She calls them all her baby. I can’t believe we actually still have both halves of them all.

One of the worst toys for OCD parents like us? I’ll tell you in a second. Before I do, just let me say, it’s an excellent toy, and I love that my girls each has her own set. They love them, especially Monkey, who really grasps the possibility of them. She loves to make a square yellow sun. It flies.

And I asked for it, literally. Someone asked me for suggestions for the girls, and I mentioned this one, a favorite of mine when I was a child. They had just released the “original”. Monkey and Bun each got her own for Christmas.

It’s awesome. Hours of fun. Except for the part when OCD mommy tries to get everything back together. The price we pay to boost our kids’ imaginations.

The toy? Colorforms.

From Non-OCD Toys

Oh, well, it’s a love/hate thing. I think we’ve already lost a couple smaller forms. As I said, I asked for it, and it’s a great product. I just wish Monkey had as much fun putting all the forms back as she does creating her square sun.

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?