Friday, May 31, 2013

Happy Freakin' Friday

How does one get driven to the brink of insanity before the clock even strikes 7:30 AM? Your guess is as good as mine. Driven to tears of frustration and exhaustion. Before the neighbors even pulled out of their driveway to take their son to school.

It was definitely helped by Genevieve getting up at least four times in the night (I lose count on the bad nights) and then getting up for the day by 5:00 but immediately RUBBING HER EYES and CRYING BECAUSE SHE'S TIRED. Here's a hint kid: SLEEP! MORE SLEEP IS THE ANSWER!

Exhausted by breakfast? Check!
I also woke up to a puddle of MoJo (the cat) pee on Cleo's (the dog) bed AGAIN. Sorry, I should have warned you I was going to talk about gross stuff. GROSS STUFF AHEAD! I have no idea what is up with that cat, but a few months ago he decided that he needed to pee on Cleo's bed, and no matter what we do, including buying FIVE new beds since then and summarily discarding them, he just pees on the new or cleaned beds. If we were just cleaning the beds and putting them back, I might think he was still smelling the scent and going back to the smell, but he does it when we get brand new beds too. He NEVER did this before, and he doesn't go anywhere else out of the litter box, and can go weeks and weeks without doing it if we keep the bed out of the house, but then if we bring in the bed, he does it immediately. I keep reading that if your cat is peeing on soft surfaces it is a sign of a UTI, but he ONLY does it on the bed and, like I said, goes long stretches without doing it. He also has no other signs of a UTI (which he has had before). I AM GOING INSANE!! Our poor dog needs a bed, since we have hardwood floors. What can we do? I need help! I don't know what it is about a pee morning, but it sends me over the edge. 

On top of that, somehow every word that has come out of Josephine's mouth this morning has been a whine or part of a tantrum. I'm sure it also doesn't help that she has been getting up before 6:30 all week because she hears G up and wakes up. 

I called my mom crying, waking her up after only five hours of sleep (oops) and as I was telling her I was already all used up for the day, I had to say to Josephine "Don't put your feet on your sister's face like that. I've told you that is called kicking and it's not kind." I soon got to follow that with the winner of a line "Being a seagull won't solve all your problems." My mom laughed so hard I figured the call was going to have to end.

I could just leave it there, but I suppose I should explain the seagull. 

Very soon after Genevieve was born, Josephine began looking for ways to make her happy when she was crying. One day she made a seagull noise, Genevieve immediately stopped crying, and now every time she does it, Genevieve stops what she's doing and laughs. So when I told her no this morning, she "caw caw"ed in my face, hoping to ease the tension, I suppose. She also asked me not to lose my cool, which is what I have been saying to the girls lately. It's solid advice.


A lot of this is built up stress from not blogging, which I know sounds super lame, but it's true. I've started a million blog posts in my head the past few weeks, and this week in particular, but I just can't sit down and write them. My head is so cluttered and confused, I can't make heads or tails of my thoughts.

One of the reasons I can't sit down to write is because everything I have to say has to do with my new job (!!!!!) and I have a lot to say about the fact that I am now working from home, and I just can't organize my thoughts properly, so I would be telling you all this stuff that wouldn't make sense unless you knew I was trying to work 30 hours a week from home while dealing with these hooligans, but ... never mind, it was about to get all circular there. I bet you a million dollars I'm going to skip over this paragraph when I re-read to edit. Yikes. Sorry, all. [Editor's note: I totally did]

It all boils down to the fact that I was stretched too thin before and now I'm stretched even more and freaking out a little, but it's only been one week and imagine I will get better at it once I figure out how to schedule things more efficiently and the job becomes old hat. We shall see.


This is what Genevieve was doing while I quickly typed all this up:

Worth it.


Okay, fine. The seagull noise. Here it is:

And yes, she did say "And you said 'That doesn't fix it,'" referring to what I told her earlier this morning about being a seagull not solving all her problems. She's a gem, this one.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb

You know how sometimes you read the summary of the book and think you know what kind of book are in for? I'm actually usually wrong, so I have no idea why I try to guess just by reading the back of the book. I should quit that. 

Sometimes, I read the back of the book, think I know what kind of book I am about to read, but THEN, I read the first sentence, and I'm like WHOA. Now I know exactly what kind of book I've got in my hands. That was this book. The summary is straightforward enough:

1937. In a windswept village on the Dorset coast, fourteen-year-old Mitzy Hatcher has endured a wild and lonely upbringing. But the arrival of renowned artist Charles Aubrey, along with his exotic mistress and their two daughters, changes everything. Over the course of three summers, Mitzy develops a deep and abiding bond with the Aubrey household, gradually becoming Charles’s muse. Slowly, she begins to perceive a future she had never thought possible—and a powerful love is kindled in her. A love that will grow as she does: from innocence to obsession; from childish infatuation to something far more dangerous.
Years later, a young man in an art gallery happens upon a hastily drawn portrait and is intrigued by its curious intensity. The questions he asks lead him to the seaside village—and to the truth about those fevered summers of long ago.

But then the first sentence hits you like a ton of bricks. The language was winding and lyrical and moving. I knew that I was in for a book to savor, not one that would fly by and was driven by the fast clip of events, but one that wove a beautiful tapestry with its words. 

Although Webb describes the people and places vividly and uses a great detail, the book is not slow and stagnant. Her style allows for well-developed and unforgettable characters, and while the initial set-up of a biographer seeking more information and finding a window into the past is a rather straight-forward one, it suits this story and frames the storylines nicely.

A Half Forgotten Song is one you could enjoy on the beach or stay up late savoring in bed. 

If you'd like to catch up with the author, you can find her on facebook and Twitter.

I was provided a copy of this book by TLC Book Tours but was not compensated for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Two Things on a Friday

Thanks for the comments on my last post. I have gotten some private comments and had some nice conversations, so thank you all. If you have insight or experience and haven't left a comment yet, I would love to hear from you.

Two things about the girls on this glorious Friday:

First up, Josie. We have been trying to take things easy this week. Only two activities, no playdates, no gymnastics -- oh my goodness, did I ever tell you we started going to open gym at a gymnastics studio? She LOVES IT. Look!:

Anyway, both girls seemed a little tired and run down and I was hoping a quiet week would help. In the meantime, we have actually turned on the TV again, which ... well, I have mixed thoughts about Josie and TV. I really don't mind that she watches TV. I don't. I limit it, and she mostly watches stuff that teaches her awesome things. When it's not a teaching program, I limit it even more. On the other hand, when we have a normal busy week, we rarely turn the TV on at all, and I get some pleasure out of that. So going back to having the TV on at times during the day, it's ... well, whatever. It's a thing. 

Anyway (again), this morning was rough. Both girls were awake much earlier than normal and everyone was a little cranky. I decided to turn on the boob tube to see if anything was on and stumbled Sophia the First on Disney Junior. I know this is a much-loved show, but I had never purposefully shown it to Josie, since she has enough shows she likes and doesn't need to fall in love with anyone else. I asked her if she wanted to watch it, and she said yes. 

She watched a whole episode, and as another one came on, I asked her what she thought of it. She said, "Eh. It's okay. Can I watch a car or train show now?" Love her. LOVE HER.

Now for Genevieve. It's too late now, it's already been jinxed, so I can say out loud what I had been so excited about last week. Genevieve was sleeping. SLEEEEEEEPING. All night. In her crib. It was so amazing. It was the best thing ever. I would put her to sleep around 7:30 or 8:00, she would wake up ONCE, I got her back to sleep (in her crib!) within 15 minutes, and she would sleep there until 7 AM, when she would wake up laughing and smiling! Laughing and smiling! Oh, it was bliss. 

After nine months of her not sleeping longer than a two-hour stretch and needing to be in our room for at least the second half of the night (we only graduated to her being in her own crib for the first half of the night around 7 months), it was a long time coming and I was over the moon. It finally seemed like her stomach was better and she wasn't waking up in pain all night and needing me. Things were changing.

Then it all went to hell. She started waking up at least five times a night again. Then we had the past two nights, which were so so much worse. I am determined to keep her downstairs in her crib (our bedroom is upstairs and the girls' are downstairs. I KNOW. WHY DID WE BUY THIS DAMN HOUSE? STUPID!), so the night before last I went downstairs ONCE AN HOUR and even sent Jeremy down twice. Last night I was downstairs EVERY HALF HOUR and sent Jeremy down twice. Do you even know how many times that is? Approximately a million. Any guesses on her mood this morning? Yeah, crying, crying, and more crying. SLEEP AT NIGHT, KID. PROBLEM SOLVED.

The worst part is, Jeremy won't even admit that it's his fault. We were at my mom and dad's on Saturday and I told my mom "Something good is happening. Regarding Genevieve. And things she used to not do. She's doing them now. In a different location." My mom totally got it and we were moving on when Jeremy said, OUT LOUD, "Yeah, Genevieve has been sleeping great lately!"

Of course, I shouted "DON'T SPEAK OF IT!!!!!" but it was too late. The damage was done. My dad laughed and laughed and said, "You know what you've done, right? You've guaranteed that if that kid starts sleeping crappy again she's going to wake you up in the night and cry about it being all your fault."

He seriously still won't admit it's his fault*, even though she started sleeping poorly THAT VERY NIGHT.

It's like he's never even met me. I'm not superstitious. But I am a little stitious.**

*I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that she's teething, she's congested, and she's had a few diapers that lead me to believe her stomach has gone all wonky again. Noooo. Jeremy broke my baby with his words. FACT.

**Yeah, I'm a little (lot) heartbroken about last night being the last episode of The Office. Did you see it? When a certain silver fox showed up, I cried a little. I could blame the exhaustion, but that would be a lie. I just love him so much.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mean Kids

You know how you fear something but hope it's far in the future so you forget about it, then all of a sudden, BAM, it's there and it's there big time and you have to deal with it instead of pretending it will never happen?

Yeah. MEAN KIDS. It happened.

There have been a few mean kids here and there in the past, but nothing that big, and Josie wasn't old enough to really get they were being mean to her. This past week, she got it. On three different occasions. 

Ugh times infinity.

I won't go through all the stories of how kids were mean to Josie. What they said doesn't really matter anyway. What will stay with me was the way she reacted. 

The first mean kid made her absolutely crumple -- her shoulders slumped, her face fell, and she walked away. I followed her and asked her what was up, and ... this kills me ... she said "Please don't look at me or talk to me" and hid her face.

I left her alone, but I was crushed. Not only was she obviously upset in a way that I was not prepared for yet, but this was the first time that she felt sad and didn't run to me for comfort. 

The next mean kid left her confused. She couldn't figure out why he was saying what he was saying, but she finally figured out what was going on, and she looked to me, silently asking me what was going on and what she should do.

And I guess I was just supposed to ... know? God, this poor kid. I had no idea. My first impulse was to punch the kid for talking to my kid the way he was, but since I'm writing this from the comfort of my living room instead of jail, you know I refrained.

The final incident included two kids and was the worst. It was outright bullying, and it led to Josie running over to me crying (while the kids chased after her, taunting her, no less). She flew into my arms and cried and asked me why they were calling her names and chasing her away from every part of the playground and not letting her play with anything.

I didn't have an answer for her. I just told her to tell them she didn't like they way they were talking to her, not to even worry about it, and go play away from them. 

Those kids continued to follow her around the playground, chasing her off of things and calling her truly awful names, WHILE THEIR MOTHERS WATCHED, in case you're wondering. But don't let me get started on that. That's a whole other post.

I'm just not ready for this. I never imagined I would have to worry about Josephine being sensitive. I know that sounds stupid, but she's just so fearless. I'm not ready for my confident girl to feel sad and unsure of herself. This sucks.

I think I handled all the events the "right way" in the moment, but I'm wondering if you all have any tips on things I should be saying after the fact and to prepare her for more future events. We have talked about it a little, but do any of you have some great advice on how to talk to your kids to ease the hurt, keep their confidence intact, and give them strategies to respond when it happens again?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Disney is Ruining Me

I spent a long time the other day putting together a post with a bunch of updates and a lot of feelings, hit publish, and went upstairs to sigh myself to sleep (my compromise in not crying myself to sleep). It took me a few days to realize there was a glitch and it hadn't published. Being superstitious, I decided there was a reason. I have abandoned the draft. Maybe I'll go back in a month and look at it and see if it's worth doing anything with. In the meantime, I maintain there must have been a reason it didn't get put out there into the universe.

This post is going to have feelings too, but I'm not all weepy at the moment, so that will probably make all the difference. 

Here are my feelings. I've realized that there are more ... streaks? (I think that's the best way I can describe it) in parenting than I realized there would be. There were those few weeks when Josephine was SO. BLOODY. TIRED. and likely going through a growth spurt and hitting a developmental milestone all at once, and by the time bathtime rolled around, she was the biggest mess ever. 

There was so much screaming, so much crying, tantrums more wild than I had ever witnessed. Bedtime was traumatic for almost a month. Because she used up so much energy at bedtime, she didn't sleep well and then the crabbiness spilled over into the next day, making the next bedtime even worse and perpetuating the cycle. Jeremy and I were feeling shell-shocked. We feared we were handling it all wrong and she would remain possessed for all of her days.

It's during this time that I really have a hard time remembering the two things I personally have found most difficult, parenting-wise (I hope you can guess by me admitting this I am hoping some of you all struggle with the same things). Once the days are filled with more tears and craziness than I can handle, I tend to forget 1) just because my kids are freaking out, it doesn't mean that I have to and 2) my default word doesn't have to be "no."

I know those sound like they should be easy things to remember, and I agree, they should be, but I'm not using this space to defend myself and my parenting. Instead, I'm admitting that when I get really frazzled, I have a hard time keeping a calm voice and not having attitude of my own, and once I start saying "no" so many times, I start having it on autoplay until I snap out of it and realize I just told Josephine "no" to something that was totally acceptable. Since these are things I already have to work on in the "normal" bad days, once we get into a bad streak, it gets so dang hard. I wake up so determined and then the day can be shot within five minutes when Josephine wakes up and has a tantrum with her first breath and follows that up with three more in five minutes. There are only so many times I can calmly and happily ask her to do things before I use a less-than-nice voice.

But then, oh, but then, there are the other streaks. The weeks and weeks of time where I ... this might be even more difficult to admit ... I think things like What are other people complaining about? MY two-year-old is a ANGEL. 

I know. Feel free to stop by and punch me in the face whenever it fits into your schedule.

Anyway, long story short (too late), we are having a bad streak lately, and I know it is because she is so freaking tired even though she is sleeping even more than usual, so I know she is struggling with something else (virus? growth spurt? both? something I don't even know about yet?), and I know it's not her fault, but dang if I have a hard time remembering it when she is shouting at me to leave her alone and darting into traffic because she doesn't want to hold my hand. I love her, but DANG.

And now (here's where the title finally comes into play! And you only had to get through a few thousand words first!) there's an extra dash of drama to contend with. Josephine has developed a fondness for Disney movies. 

Do you even remember how SAD those are? She asked to watch Dumbo the other day and I ended up crying in bed later that night thinking about Dumbo's mom rocking him through the prison bars -- you know, when she couldn't even reach him or see him?? -- and singing "Baby Mine" while I blubbered. She asked to watch Finding Nemo and I found myself thinking about Marlon periodically throughout the week -- the man lost his wife, like a hundred kids, and then the ONE LIVING KID GETS KIDNAPPED. Cut the guy a break already! 

I've done my best to avoid sad movies for years, specifically because I am what you Normals call "overly-sensitive." I cried for a week after watching The Family Stone. I know my limits. I don't even watch commercials on the off-chance something about kids growing up or animals getting abused comes on, so sad movies are OUT. 

But apparently, as demanded by Josie, they're back in. Will the crying ever cease?!?! So, in closing, THANKS A LOT, DISNEY. I DIDN'T NEED THIS. I'M IN A STREAK, AFTER ALL!


P.S. Two posts up over at Sean Purcell Photography you might be interested in. Neither involve references to crying! This week I talked about Mother's Day gift ideas for the photo-obsessed and last week I talked about Instagram Photo--Day Challenges. Enjoy!
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