Thursday, March 20, 2008

Need a little spring in your step?

Is it chilly where you are? Do you need a little sunshine? I'll send you some, courtesy of a new camera lens and Charlotte, NC.

Practice, practice, practice!

My cousin, Jon, and his wife, Susan, just delivered the news that they are expecting their first child in September. Needless to say, we are all extremely excited for them. Having a child is so fantastically unlike anything else, that it's difficult to put into words. At least it's difficult for me. I have a huge amount of admiration for the people who can so eloquently string together the perfect words to express the depths of their feelings -- poets, songwriters, etc. It's a talent I wish I had, but alas, it's not to be. What I was blessed with, however, is a practical side. Yes, indeed. Practicality. Though I'd be the first to admit that it was surprising to everyone who knew me, becoming a parent brought that hidden little gem straight on out to the forefront of my being. And while I can't compose line upon line of beautiful prose about all the phenomenal ways this new little addition will change their lives, I can compose a guide to some handy and practical exercises to help prepare them for their new adventure.

So Jon and Susan, here you go. If you practice these exercises regularly, you'll be fully prepared for this new baby when he/she arrives. Well, maybe not fully prepared, because who is? But it will certainly ease the transition for you. I promise.

#1. The Multiple Midnight Wake-up Calls. (The goal of this exercise = endurance.) It should be done over a period of at least 3 months. This exercise will eventually involve both of you, however Susan will take on the first 2 months solo.

Begin by setting an alarm in what will eventually be the baby's room. Make sure that it is programmed to go off every 2.5 to 3 hours, starting around 11:00pm or so.
  • Susan - For the first 8 weeks of this exercise, every time you hear the alarm, throw your covers off, jump out of bed and stumble blindly down the hall to the baby's room. Turn off the alarm. Find a chair. Sit for 15 minutes. Go back to bed. Repeat at next alarm cycle.
  • Jon - For the first 8 weeks of this exercise, every time the alarm goes off, don't move. Maybe you can snort a little in your sleep or pull the covers up a little higher around your neck, but don't move
At the conclusion of the first 8 weeks, Susan, you'll strike a deal with Jon in which you'll agree to take turns getting up.
  • Susan - The first time the alarm goes off, repeat your regular routine.
  • Jon - You too.
  • Susan - The second time the alarm goes off, stay put.
  • Jon - You too.
  • Susan - Elbow Jon. Mumble "Your turn."
  • Jon - Say "OK", but don't actually move.
  • Susan - Elbow Jon again. Say "Your turn", a little more loudly and a little more forcefully.
  • Jon - Repeat above instructions to reply "OK" without actually moving from the bed.
  • Susan - Shove Jon and yell "YOUR TURN!!"
  • Jon - Sit up and say "OK!". Make sure to be indignant when you reply.
  • Susan - Remain in the bed, but work your blood pressure up to a moderately high level.
  • Jon - As slowly as humanly possible, rise from the bed but don't go anywhere. Sit on the edge, sigh deeply, and perhaps rub your eyes for a few minutes.
  • Susan - Will yourself to stay in the bed. Work your blood pressure up higher.
  • Jon - Begin to walk out of the room, but instead of going down the hall take a detour into the bathroom. Whiz. Whiz some more. Whiz forever.......
  • Susan - Work your blood pressure up to dangerous levels, fling the covers off the bed and storm down the hall. Take your place in the chair and turn off the blaring alarm.
  • Jon - Show up in the doorway of the baby's room. Scratch your head, give Susan a confused look and shrug your shoulders while you say "What? I said I'd get the baby."
  • Susan -- Seethe.

#2. Pack Mule Sprints: (The goal of this exercise = speed and agility.) You will be required to run back and forth from the car a minimum of 3 times while carrying various items. This is a timed event, so you'll need a stopwatch. We will start with a basic exercise. Instructions for a more advanced version follow.
  • Begin by filling a 5 gallon bucket with water. This will effectively simulate what it's like to carry your baby in the convenient, yet astronomically heavy, removable car seat. Start the stopwatch and single-handedly carry the bucket out to the car as quickly as possible. Strap it into the middle of the backseat. (Be careful as you place the bucket in the car because you'll lose points if you bang it into the door jam.)
  • Dash back to the house.
  • Once inside, pick up 3 bags from various places in the house and fling them over your shoulder. (Bags should weigh approximately 7 pounds each.) Snatch a travel mug of some sort of caffeinated beverage off the counter without spilling.
  • Dash back to car. Place the travel mug on the roof of the car and toss each of the bags into the passenger seat.
  • Run around the car and get in the driver's seat. Buckle yourself in and grasp the steering wheel while you try to start the car.
  • Unbuckle yourself from your seat, climb out of the car, and dash back into house to retrieve your keys.
  • Once you are back inside, grab the keys and dash back to car. Retrieve the travel mug from the roof.
  • Start your car and stop the stopwatch.

Once you've whittled your best time to under 10 minutes, you can begin the "advanced" exercise in this category.

Pack Mule Sprints - Advanced Version: Make only one trip to car. This means that you will be required to carry the "baby in car seat", the 3 seven-pound bags, and the travel mug containing caffeinated beverage all together. Once you are at the car, balance on one foot as you dig in your pocket for the car keys. At this point, the travel mug must be held between your teeth. Hold this balancing pose for 2 minutes before you open the car door and load everything in.

#3. Mommy/Daddy Detective. (The goal of this exercise = search and rescue skills) This exercise can, and should, be done repeatedly. This is crucial to effective parenting, and in order for search and rescue skills to be sharp, they need constant honing.
  • Each of you take turns hiding various objects in the house. No object is off limits, (up to and including the random booger) and no hiding place is too gross. Trash can? Perfect. Bathroom trash can? Even better. More often than not, it should be an object of relative importance, like car keys, wallets, and/or shoes.
  • Each of you take turns scouring the house for previously mentioned "various objects". The tighter your timeline for the day, the more crucial the hidden object should be.

As a side note: while you won't be actively searching for the random hidden booger, you will get bonus points for discovering them while cleaning or searching for the other missing objects.

#4. The Walking Wounded. (The goal of this exercise = How to deal effectively with sleep deprivation / ambivalence about personal appearance.) This exercise should be done on an evening when you know the following day will be extremely busy.

  • Sleep a grand total of 30 minutes that night.
  • The next day, smash up a soft fruit or vegetable of your choice. (From experience, I can tell you that peas, sweet potatoes, or bananas work well.)
  • Rub smashed mixture across your shirt and in your hair.
  • Do not shower, look in a mirror, change clothes, comb your hair, or brush your teeth.
  • Forget that you have done none of those things until you are out in public.
  • Run a minimum of 3 errands, or simply just go to work.
  • Make sure to run into at least 1 person you know but haven't seen in a while, or have a meeting with someone relatively important.
#5. Merry Maid. (The goal of this exercise = proficiency with heavy equipment operation) While this is an exercise for both of you, it should be practiced primarily by the person who will be running the kid(s) around the most.
  • On every trip to the grocery store, purchase one box each of goldfish crackers, graham crackers, and cheerios.
  • Crush the contents of each box into teeny-tiny crumbs.
  • Every day, when you get into your car to go somewhere (anywhere), toss approximately 2 cups worth of crumbs over your shoulder and into the backseat.
  • At the end of 2 weeks, or when you can't take the embarrassment of what the inside of your vehicle looks like any longer -- whichever comes first -- vacuum your car.
  • Curse under your breath the entire time you vacuum and solemnly swear to all that is holy that you will never pass snacks into the back seat ever again.
  • Continue dropping crumbs daily, and repeat vacuuming/cursing cycle every 2 weeks.

While this is no means an comprehensive list, practicing these exercises should give you a good head start. And now, in the name of parenting preparedness, I'm giving a shout out to all the moms and dads I know. If you have additional exercises Jon and Susan could practice to help them ease into this transition, please, please, share. First time parents love nothing more than unsolicited advice -- especially from people they don't know that well. So don't hold back. I mean it. I know that you all are well-practiced parents, so wrack your brains for exercises you do on a regular basis and then go ahead and spell out the instructions in the Comments section. (And if you don't participate it will look like I don't have any friends, so don't let me down!)

I have to go now. From the ruckus happening in the bathroom, I think it's safe to assume that there is a small butt in need of wiping. But before I dash away from my computer, please let me say: Jon and Susan, Welcome to our club. It's not for the faint of heart, and the dues are high.......but the perks are unbelievable. We couldn't be more happy to have you as members.

What's "D" word?

Gib: I know what the “D” word is.
Me: You do? (I give Mike “the look” across the table. I hope he can read my mind because here’s what I’m thinking: “Way to go, Mike. I told you to quit your $#%! swearing. The kids hear you when you %@#$! swear at the dishwasher! And at all the other inanimate objects in our house. This is all your fault. It’s certainly not mine, since I stopped my @$#&! swearing the first time Gibson parroted it right back to me at the tender age of 2. You got that, buddy? Are you reading my mind? You’d better be getting all of this…..” )
Gib: Yeah. But I can’t say it because it’s bad.
Me: It is?
Gib: Yeah. But I know what it is.
Me: Well what is it?
Gib: I can’t say it.
Me: Really?
Gib: Yeah. Cause it’s bad.
Me: I want you to tell me. Why don’t you come and tell me in my ear.
Gib: Are you sure?
Me: Yeah. It’s Ok. You can tell me in my ear.
Gib: OK.

He climbs down out of his chair, comes to my side of the table, stands on his tip-toes, leans into my ear and whispers “The D-Word means “Shut-up”.

Messy Face

* * *
Look who loves chocolate ALMOST as much as his mama.
* * *

* * *
I understand son. I like to roll around in it too.
* * *

Friday, March 14, 2008

And the award for Parent Of The Year goes to........

Watch me walk. I'm lighter than air. See how my feet don't touch the ground? I believe this is what's referred to as walking on cloud nine. (Where did that phrase come from, by the way? Are all the clouds numbered in some sort of fashion? And if so, how did number nine come to be the one that everybody walks on when they're happy? Just a thought.....) Wanna know why I'm so dang pleased with myself? I know you're sitting at the edge of your desk chair, face pressed up to the computer screen thinking "Yes, please tell me, Rachel! I simply can't continue with my day until you tell me what's gotten you so excited!!" Well then, OK. I'll tell you. I was talking with the mother of a 6 month old boy yesterday. She works at the Y in the Children's Program Center and spends about 2 hours a day with Landis, since that's where he hangs out while I'm working. He digs it, as they do all sorts of fun things like letter of the day, and make fun little crafts to match! (Yesterday he made a Watermelon man. The day before he made a woodpecker. Can you guess this week's letter of the day? Go on, you little brainiac!)
Oops. Sorry......... Let me go ahead and steer this train of thought back on track........
As I was saying, we were talking, this mom and I and I complimented her child. He always seems so even tempered, laid back, and just an all around sweet little boy. I told her so. "Thanks." she said to me. "He's a good baby." She paused. "Actually, I have high hopes that he'll turn out like Landis."
I wasn't sure if she was joking or not. I searched for a trace of sarcasm in her voice, but there didn't seem to be any. "Really?" I asked with one eyebrow raised in skepticism.
"Yeah" she replied. "Landis is great. Truly, he's just a really great kid."

I was floored. This mom, this first-time-mom, aspires for her child to be like mine because he's a really great kid! Behaving like a normal and completely sane person, I thanked her sincerely for the compliment. But as soon as she'd disappeared around the corner I fell to my knees and tore off my shirt US Women's Soccer Team style, pumping my fist in the air and yelling "YES!!!YES!!!YES!!!!!!!" at the top of my lungs. Because, holy cow! What a huge score!!!

OK -- I really only did that in my head, since I didn't want anyone to wander into the supply room and wonder what on earth was going on. But I'm riding this one, baby. I'm riding it as long as I can. First, because it is so affirming that all the times I've dealt with tantrums, and melt-downs, and backtalk, and (insert the daily challenges of 3 year olds that make you want to pull your hair out by the roots here) have been worth it. And second, because even though I've only been at this parenting thing a measly five years, I know enough to know that this walkin' on cloud nine thing won't last long. Tomorrow will be a new day, and I'm sure before the sun sets, someone in our household under the age of 5 will have mooned a neighbor.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Gibson had a tornado-drill at school this week. As you can imagine, it was big news in the kindergarten class. Here's what he had to say about it:

"My heart was scared, but my brain guarded me."

Seriously now........... I'll never know how I keep from eating him right up when he's so sweet.

More long lost relatives

Remember when I said I thought my kids were related to mockingbirds?
Turns out they're also related to suckerfish.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Close.......but not quite

This morning the boys were having a conversation about my boobs. Why my boobs are a topic of discussion in my home, I'll never know. It's not like they are overly impressive or anything.... But anyway, as usual, both boys managed to be in my bed by the time the morning sunlight was peeking through the windows. One of them had shown up at 4:45, and the other sometime around 5:30. We were all still under the covers, but slowly waking up. Landis had his head on my chest.

Gibson: "Ewwwwwwwww! Landis! You have your face on mommy's boobies!!"
Landis: "No I don't!"
Gibson: "Yes you do!"
Landis: "No I don't!" (He sits up, pulls up his shirt and points directly at his nipple.) "These are boobies!
Gibson: "Nuh-Uh! Those are TESTS!"

A short time later, Landis was kind of flailing around as he tried to untangle himself from the sheets. As he was flailing, he hit Gibson square in the crotch.

Gibson: "Owwww! Landis! You just hit me right in the guts!
Me: "The guts?"
Gibson: "Yeah. This is called the guts, (pointing at his crotch) and it hurts."

I asked him if he heard those things at school. And, surprise, surprise, he did. Which is further proof that he doesn't pay attention to anything.