Leisure Time

Once a year my husband heads to Maine on a Friday morning with all three kids. This means that when I get home from work on Friday night, I get the house all to myself for a glorious 12-14 hours.  Sure, I’ll be sleeping for 7-8 of those hours but the other 5 or 6 hours?  I can do whatever I want!  And those sleeping hours?  They will be uninterrupted! (Except maybe by the confused cat, wondering where the rest of her noisy family is.) And the waking hours?  No one asking for anything (except maybe the hungry cat)! No one needing dressing, changing, wiping, feeding or any of my attention!  OH HAPPY DAY!

 

My mind spins with all of the possibilities!  I will make a plan!

THE PLAN:

I will…

… go to Target on the way home, or maybe Whole Foods, or maybe Trader Joe’s!  I never go to Trader Joe’s! I will get their margarita mix!  And some onion bhajis!  And croissants! And flowers!  And mango babka!

Image from Trader Joe's. Click on photo to go there!

Image from Trader Joe’s. Click on photo to go there!

… swing by Starbucks for an iced tea! That I won’t have to share!

… stop by my regular grocery store to pick up some items on my list! And wander slowly through the aisles, contentedly humming along to the piped-in grocery store music! And I won’t buy goldfish! Or yogurt in a tube!

… go home, preheat the oven and make this chocolate cake! While listening to 80’s hits and dancing around the kitchen!

Smitten Kitchen's Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo - isn't it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site - it is one of the very best!

Smitten Kitchen’s Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo – isn’t it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site – it is one of the very best!

… clear some toys from the toy room while the cake is baking!  Finally get around to moving the toys we are keeping into the newly-finished basement!  Prep some toys for donation! Good deeds! Tax write-offs! Less legos to step on!

… clear some of the 5,000 photos (I’m not joking) off of my phone!  Back everything up to the Cloud, my laptop, and my external drive!  Add photos to my family photo share site!

… figure out my Amazon Fire TV stick!

… unpack my suitcase from my Midwest trip! Do a load of cold delicates that is just mine!

… go out and get a steak or something decadent, and sit alone, sipping a cocktail (or two!) and reading!  No picking up pieces of cold, slimy mac & cheese off of the floor when I’m done! No rushing through dinner! No asking for the check when I order the entree!

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

… put on my PJs and watch a movie of my choosing, with an R rating, from the seat of my choosing, on my own couch! While eating cake!

… sleep a glorious 8 hours! Wake slowly! Drink an entire cup of coffee while it it still hot! Take a walk then a long shower using all the hot water I want! Eat a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast! No need to set a good example!

… swing by the farmer’s market for raspberries! And tomatoes! And veggies! And anything else that strikes my fancy!

… pack my bag for the journey up to Maine! Listen to podcasts on the way! Stop at my favorite outlet in Kittery! Make it up to see the kids at lunch, feeling fulfilled and refreshed!

THE REALITY:

I will go home, put on my PJs, and order Thai take out.

I will then realize I have to get dressed to get the Thai food, throw on a sweatshirt (in July), and hope I don’t run into anyone I know who is out and being social and fun on a Friday night.

On the way out, I will realize we are out of cat food but skip the grocery store, lest I run into one of those social, fun, productive acquaintances. This means I will have to listen to the cat loudly lament the terribleness that is dry food (disgusting death nuggets, stupid human!) for the rest of the evening.

I will half watch The Great British Bake Off (go Ian!) while playing Plants v. Zombies until my eyelids droop at 9pm.

I will wake up to pee twice, and to a meowing cat three times.  And I will wake up three more times for no good reason, other than that I’m really used to sleeping next to my husband.

I will leave early to go to Maine, because I’m inexplicably up at 5:30am and have no coffee or half and half in the house, because I anti-socially skipped the grocery store.

And I’ll drive straight through, because I should.  And because Maine is awesome.  And so are my kids and my husband.

And lobster.

 

Middle Hours

middle

My middle. My girl. Fierce, wide-eyed, brave. With your loud, true laugh and a run that looks like dancing, skipping, rushing. Like your feet can’t keep up.

You’ve never loved hugs. They don’t suit you in the daylight.

But at night, when the house is sleeping, you crawl into my bed, pulling the covers over you and my arms around you. Placing my arms where you would like them. Silently asking to be held and showing me how. Nestled into my chest. Sighing.

And there you stay, for five minutes or forty-five. Quiet. Awake. Close. Until I ask gently if you are ready, ready to go back to your bed. Sometimes you need more time. Sometimes you whisper “yes” and sneak with me back into the room where your brother sleeps so deeply. And I cover you up, whisper “I love you” and watch as you smile and close your eyes.

My middle, my center.

That was for me.

That extra episode of Octonauts I let you watch?

That was for you, because you’ve been helpful, patient and kind this week.

But that was also for me, because I needed 23 minutes to pack bags for tomorrow, load the dishwasher, feed the cat, and breathe, for just a second.

 

That third lullaby I sang tonight?

That was for you, because you love our rare quiet time together, my third child.

But that was also for me, because you are growing too fast, because the glider will move out of your bedroom too soon, and because your warm hand on my cheek and full face smile as I sing won’t last forever, it won’t even last the year.

 

That dance party in the kitchen?

That was for you, because you’ve been cooped up too long in this winter house and need to wiggle and giggle and move.

But that was also for me, because your shimmies, and beautifully un-self-conscious twists, hip shakes and jumps are so lovely, so silly, and so free, and someday you’ll worry more about how you look as you dance, and who is watching.

 

That late bedtime?

That was for you, so I can ease you into this time change.

But that was also for me, as you sat, gently combing my hair and we pretended to color and style, because someday soon, you’ll both be too busy to bother playing hairdresser with your mom, even if she lets you stay up late.

 

My babies, my marvelous little people, thank you for the gifts you give me every day.

three

Bedtime. Please.

Bedtime for Pickle.  We’re trying to rein it back, since it keeps getting longer and longer.  It is a long-ish routine to start with, but really, it should be simple enough: pajamas, TV show, pull-up, teeth, 2 books, 2 songs, bed.  How long can that possibly take?

Forever.  That’s how long.

Zzzzzzzzzz

My sister, amazed by his creativity and persistence, encouraged me to write down Pickle’s stall tactics/questions/pre-bed needs wants and desires.  So here is a (non-exhaustive!) list.  Yes, these are all real.  And yes, this is why bedtime takes forever.

  1. I have to pee.
  2. I have to poop.
  3. I want you to come sit with me while I poop.  So we can chat.  No I’m not done yet.
  4. I don’t want to wear overnight undies (aka pull-ups).
  5. My overnight undies itch.
  6. My overnight undies are too hot.
  7. My overnight undies hurt me.
  8. These pajamas are too hot.
  9. I want to take my pants off.
  10. These pajamas are too cold.
  11. I need to floss because I have yuckies on my teeth.
  12. I need to shower because I have so many yuckies. I didn’t wash all of my parts in the bath earlier tonight.
  13. I have to wash my hands.
  14. My hands hurt.
  15. My belly hurts. It feels like boo-boos.
  16. I need a “belly fixer” (Tums).
  17. I want to do “belly fixers” (a completely made-up placebo I came up with that consists of vaguely yoga-ish poses that will make belly ailments go away).
  18. I have to throw up.
  19. I have to pet the cat. I love her.
  20. I want the cat in my room.
  21. I want the cat on my bed.
  22. The cat licked my head. I want the cat off of my bed.
  23. I want the cat out of my room.
  24. I’m thirsty but I don’t want water.  I want milk, and then I want to brush my teeth again.
  25. I’m hungry.
  26. I want to do three more flips on your bed.
  27. I just need to sit on this large pile of clothes and pretend it is a horse.
  28. I want the light on in my room.
  29. I want the light off in your room.
  30. I want to read more books by myself.
  31. I do not like any of the 60 books in my room.
  32. I want you to read me more books.
  33. I want the light off.
  34. I want the curtains open.
  35. I want the curtains closed.
  36. I want the curtains open again, but just a little bit.
  37. I want my door closed.
  38. I want my door closed, but not all the way.
  39. I just need to try to tie the legs of my pajamas in a knot.
  40. I’m a little sad.
  41. I want you to check my room for lions and bears.
  42. I have to pee.
  43. I need an extra cuddle from you.
  44. I need an extra cuddle from Dad.
  45. I want to talk about things.
  46. I want to tell you something.
  47. I have a question.
  48. I want to tell you a secret.
  49. I have a surprise for you.
  50. I want you to sing me three songs.
  51. I didn’t like those songs; I want you to sing four more.
  52. Do you know a song about blueberries?
  53. My penis itches.
  54. Do you know a song about donkeys?
  55. I know a song about blueberries. I will sing it to you. (Cue 8 minute mash-up of songs he knows – none of which have anything to do with blueberries – interspersed with nonsense words.)
  56. I want to sing you three more songs (of the same long, made-up variety).
  57. I want you to sing me three more songs (including the full-length versions of Wheels on the Bus and She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain).
  58. What does ______________ mean (insert each line of each song here)?
  59. I want to talk about the day (this has included discussions about dog vomit, the origins and purpose of hospitals, and the ins and outs of air travel).
  60. I want to talk about tomorrow.
  61. I don’t like the plan for tomorrow and would like to discuss changing it.
  62. I want to negotiate donuts and lots of TV for tomorrow.
  63. I want a treat right now.
  64. I have yuckies on my teeth and need to brush them again.
  65. I want to see my sister. I love her.
  66. I want to hug my sister.
  67. I want to bring my sister something.
  68. I want to take something from my sister.
  69. I need Alfie/Cubby/Baby Bear/Monkey. (Always a stuffed animal conveniently not located in his room.)
  70. I’m still hungry.
  71. I want an apple.  Peeled, but not cut up.
  72. I want more water.
  73. I have to pee again, and I want you to come with me.
  74. My blanket is too hot.
  75. I want a cold blanket.
  76. I don’t want any blankets.
  77. Where is my other blanket?
  78. Why do we need blankets?
  79. I want your blanket.
  80. I want you to make me a nest of blankets on my bed.
  81. The nest of blankets you made me is not right.  I want to make the nest. (Cue 10 minutes of nest-making.)
  82. The nest I made is all wrong!  I blame you!  And I’m still thirsty!
  83. Where is the cat?
  84. I need to wear my hat/headlamp/bear slippers/stethoscope to bed.
  85. I’m not tired.
  86. I want the light back on.
  87. I want Dad.
  88. Why are you yelling at me?
  89. I have to pee again.

I am yours, you are mine…

“Mama” he yelled out to me at midnight, “I have a wet bum!”

Bleary, I shuffled in and found him sitting on his bed looking sleepy and concerned. In the flurry of the evening’s bedtime routine, his overnight undies (a.k.a. a Pull Up) had been forgotten.

“Oh Pickle, that’s okay,” I whispered, “let’s get you in some dry cozies.”

I lifted him out of bed and onto the floor. He stood quietly while I replaced his squishy comforter with a crisp down one, tossed a thick fleece blanket over the wet sheet (thankfully, not too wet) and pulled some clean, dry pajama bottoms out of the bin. I sunk to sitting on the floor in front of him. We stripped off the wet pants in sleepy quiet, only the sound of the noise machine whirring, and he held my shoulders as I pulled up his overnight undies and cozies. I started to stand to return him, dry and sleepy, to his bed. But he stopped me, crawling quietly into my lap, curled into a little-boy ball of cotton and limbs.

“My mama,” he whispered, more to himself than to me and we sat there for a few breaths to smell the warmth of one another before I put him back in his bed.

“Your mama, “ I said, as I kissed his head and pulled up the cool covers.

Sleepy little boy.

A Monkey! A Monkey! My Kingdom for a Monkey!

BOOM! Yes, I did just make a Richard III reference in my title.  Poor guy, they just found him under a car park. How does a king end up under a car park? 

Anyway…

Recently, a friend sent a link to this blog post: “Searching for The Glow Stick” by Jason Good.  It made me chuckle, since we struggle mightily with those toy pieces strewn about the house (*clears throat* the train table he got for Christmas? The track stayed assembled for 2 days and was then destroyed in Godzilla-like fashion by Plum the Destroyer).   And we know all too well the various items Pickle MUST HAVE in his bed before he can even consider going to sleep.  Because after a while (who am I kidding – after 8:30pm!) it just isn’t worth arguing about anymore.

Items in Pickle’s twin bed include:

1. Pickle
Chillaxin'

2. Twin-sized comforter

3. Twin-sized down comforter (or King-sized, depending upon whether there has been a recent Pull-Up breach)

4. Crib-sized, double thickness fleece blanket

5. Frog Pillow Pet (that he adores; this thing does not wash well, ew)
Stinky Frog Pillow

6. Alfie (18″ teddy bear)

7. Cubby (30″ teddy bear – Cubby is soft and huge)

8. Baby Bear (10″ adorable Steiff he got when he was born)
Baby Bear

9. Monkey Head Blanket #1 (he loves these things.  Seriously, we have 6 of them.  As back up.  Because we need nearly $100 of tiny stuffed monkey head blankets.  Parenthood makes you do crazy things.)
My Kingdom for a Monkey

10. Monkey Head Blanket #2 (just in case)

11. Sippy cup halfway full of water (it is not full, because we are trying to avoid middle-of-the-night Pull-Up breaches)

12. Large, yellow Mercedes Matchbox

13. Large, blue BMW Matchbox

14. Small, red Ferrari Matchbox

15. Flashlight that looks like a bug and whose batteries last forever
Lightening Bee?

16. 3 books (these vary night by night)

He has two, child-sized pillows as well, but one month ago, these fell off the bed and onto the floor on the side of the bed that is hard to reach so there they stay.  On occasion his bed also contains a noise-making tanker truck and this musical bus toy he got for Christmas.
Beep Beep Bus!

I suspect pretty soon he’ll be asking to sleep in our bed, because there simply isn’t any room left in his.

So tell me, what is the strangest bedfellow your little one has insisted upon?

Gratitude Attitude

50 Days of Gratitude – My Thanksgiving Countdown continued…

The countdown to Thanksgiving continues.  I’ll admit, sometimes at the end of the day it is hard for me to come up with more than 2 things.  And usually one of those two is “sleep” or “bedtime” or some permutation thereof.  But I’m still going, and I’m more than halfway there.

You can find my first 10 days of gratitude here.

Things I am grateful for…

Days 11 through 20

49. Dragonflies

50. Sweet and surprising things Mr. Pickle says in the midst of the daily madness that catch me off guard – tonight it was an unprompted, “Thank you for dinner, Mama” while we all sat eating together

51. Hearing a great/fun/memory-full song on the radio that I haven’t heard in ages (The other day it was Phish’s “Bouncing Round the Room” and I was right back in high school again.)

52. English Breakfast tea

53. Junk food TV (My husband makes fun of me, but I am not ashamed to admit that I like Long Island Medium. I do. And I’m tempted to tune into Duck Dynasty, too. I have not yet reached the level of Honey Boo Boo, though.)

54. Drinking straws (The number of bendy straws I go through is irresponsible. Surely, I am contributing more than my fair share to local landfills. I feel guilty, but not enough to stop using them.)

55. Internet shopping (I have started my Christmas shopping, but only because it is so much darn fun to hunt for bargains and great gifts online. In case you’re wondering, I have not purchased the unicorn mask for anyone… yet.)

56. The overwhelming kindness and support of my friends

57. Night swimming (The activity AND the song by REM.)

58. The quiet of snow (I once heard something about sound waves travelling differently- or not at all? – through falling snow. I should probably look that up. But in the meantime, I think it is true and the stillness, and quiet it just amazing.)

59. Coordinated naps (Can I get an “Amen”?!)

60. The big freezer in my basement

61. Iced coffee

62. Gummy vitamins

63. Laughter

64. Flying, leaping hugs

65. My wise, old soul little girl, who loves “Goodnight Irene” better than any other song

My pensive 7-month-old.

66. Patience

67. The ability to participate in our political system

68. Pacifiers

69. Dental care

70. Flannel sheets

71. Legal pads (I inherited my love of legal pads from my father.)

72. Weekends

73. Love

74. Malbec

75. April, Jena and Christine (Different backgrounds, different ages, different life paths, but the same loving supportive friendship.  I am so grateful for them.)

76. Gold sunshine on an October afternoon

77. Tylenol

78. ATM machines

79. Leftovers

80. Roasted garlic (Or any garlic, really.)

81. Giggles (Is there anything better than hearing wild giggles emanating from your son and daughter while they play with their dad? Nope, there isn’t.) 

82. Adventures

83. Pajamas

84. Perspective

85. Cole slaw

86. Rock ‘n’ roll

87. New Zealand (I lived there in 2002 and I left a part of my heart there.)

88. Greek yogurt

89. Good hair days

90. Silliness

91. Monogramming (I can’t help it. Please don’t ever get me a labeller – it wouldn’t be pretty.  My daughter just received this blanket from Pottery Barn Kids and I love it. So does she.  If I had to guess, this blanket will quickly become her lovey.  Added bonus?  The gift giver had it monogrammed with her name!)

92. Nieces!

93. Oatmeal raspberry squares

94. Coffee, but not just any coffee, coffee that is the absolutely perfect temperature with just the right amount of 1/2 and 1/2.

95. My husband, who is unreasonably patient and kind, with me and with the kiddos

96. Baby bunnies (A co-worker raises amazing fluffy bunnies so she can shear them and spin their fur/hair into yarn.  One of her mama bunnies had 6 little ones, and I can now state, without hesitation, that baby bunnies are indeed the cutest things on the planet. Or probably the universe. Puppies are in the Top 10, as are kittens.  But bunnies top the list. No question.)

Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net.