Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Day in the Life: Summer 2012

Although I didn't get this posted in time, I'm still linking up to Navigating the Mothership, since Laura's project is my inspiration and motivation for doing this "Day in the Life" series.

Dan was out of town this past weekend at a bachelor party, so since I was home with the boys all weekend on my own, I figured Saturday was as good a day as any to document the dichotomy of craziness and monotony that is solo parenting of young children.

I was somewhat dreading this weekend primarily due to the fact that I would be the only parent around to handle the night-time antics of our two boys.  Yes.  At nearly three years old, Gus still frequently wakes up at night.  Usually it's just once, but when he doesn't nap the day before, all bets are off.  No nap may equal an early bedtime, and more "me time" in the evening, but it also often lends to weird fitful sleep for the little guy and multiple wake-ups.

Gus didn't nap on Friday.

Thus, fair warning, this day begins with a particularly horrible account of one of those nights, to be documented here for me to remember FOREVER.  
Saturday, August 11, 2012

12:00 AM:  I am laying awake in Gus's bedroom as he fitfully tries to go back to sleep.  He is tossing, turning, twisting my hair between his fingers.  I have been here since 11:25 PM when I first heard him calling out for me on the monitor.  I have changed his pajamas as well as the sheets because he had pissed right through his diaper ALREADY and everything was soiled.

12:15 AM:  Louie wakes up screaming and I check on him in the monitor.  He is sitting up and getting really upset, so I tell Gus that I have to go downstairs and feed Louie and help him back to sleep.  I tell him to lie down under the covers and I will come back soon.

I go downstairs to my room and nurse Louie back to sleep, plop him in the pack and play and go out to the kitchen to turn on the monitor for upstairs.  Maybe Gus has fallen back asleep on his own?

NOPE.  And it sounds like he's very angry.

I go back upstairs and snuggle up to him, but he seems wide awake.  I lie there staring at the clock, unable to fall asleep myself because he keeps grabbing for me and kicking me.  Wow, this night is going swimmingly!

12:45 AM:  Louie is awake again!  YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.  This is the third time Louie has been up since I went to bed at 10:30 PM.

And Gus is still awake and gets angry when I tell him I have to leave.

I head back downstairs to nurse Louie, and afterwards climb into bed and put my face into the mattress and my pillow over my head and feel sorry for myself.  

1:00 - 1:10 AM:  I lie there with the monitor for Gus's room turned way down and pressed up to my ear so Louie doesn't wake from the ruckus that his big brother is making upstairs.  His crying turns into, "I scared mommy, I scared!" and "My eye hurts mommy!"  I know this is all bullshit but I can't in good conscience ignore him when he's articulating actual problems and feelings.  So I head back upstairs.

I take a washcloth and wipe Gus's eye (when he wakes up in the middle of the night like this crying, he rubs his eyes repeatedly from exhaustion and at the same time won't stop crying, so his little eyelashes get clumped and stuck together and sometimes fold under the eyelid.  So even when he doesn't have the clumping and folding under issues (like now), he pulls out this problem as ammunition in the middle of the night to slowly kill Dan's and my patience).

Pretending to fix his eye with a washcloth does the trick and calms him down, and after talking tough to him a little bit, "I am very angry and sad about how you're acting tonight!  You need to be a big boy!  You need to go to sleep by yourself, Louie is just a little baby and he needs me in the middle of the night and I can't be two places at once and MOMMY IS SO TIRED!", I climb back in bed with him.  He finally falls asleep fifteen minutes later and I sneak sneak sneak out of there as quietly as possible.

1:25 AM: I am back in my own bed, absolutely terrified to fall asleep, lest one of my children is up again within minutes, and at the same time terrified of not falling asleep because this might be my only chance.

1:30 - 3:38:  I am sleeping.  Two whole hours.  I am drooling, I am sleeping so hard.

3:38 AM:  I hear Gus crying in the monitor and I practically leap out of bed to turn it off before it wakes up Louie.  I go up there, set the video monitor for Louie on the bedside table, and immediately fall asleep.

4:01 AM: I bolt out of bed when I hear Louie fussing in the monitor.  I turn the volume down and look to see that thankfully, Gus is asleep.

I stumble back down the stairs, (seriously, with all this up and down I am getting an actual workout in the middle of the night while the rest of the world is sleeping, that just ain't right), fetch Louie, nurse him back to sleep, put him in his bed, and fall back asleep myself until both kids are up for the day at 6:30.

In the morning I mentally add it all up:  30 minutes of sleep at the beginning of the night, followed by 2 1/2 hours awake, 2 more hours of sleep, another half hour awake dealing with both children, and another 2 hours of sleep.

Grand total:  4 1/2 hours.  Brutal.


I immediately make a cup of coffee and sit on the floor guzzling it while we play with puzzles and trains.  Louie is hilarious because he is just up in Gus's bubble all the time now that he's crawling, and it drives his brother crazy.  Gus and I put this puzzle together and I had to play interference the whole time so Louie didn't destroy it.


(He did destroy it about 20 minutes later though, and I watched him do it with such unbridled joy, tearing the thing apart and throwing pieces all over the room.  Didn't I like JUST give birth to this troublemaker?)

Yoga pants FTW

I have already decided that a shower is just not going to happen today, so I throw on some yoga pants and a nursing tank.  Yup, what you see above is not my pajamas, it is what I will wear ALL DAY LONG.


Louie is acting fussy after breakfast, at just before 8:00, and I'm thinking he's ready for his morning nap.  It's way early, but there's no denying the crankiness, so I turn on an episode of Curious George (Netflix) so Gus will stay in the basement and not bother me while I try to nurse Louie.


I'm glad I turned on the digital babysitter downstairs because Louie is FREAKING OUT and not wanting to go to sleep.  He's refusing to nurse, and clearly he's got a little bit of something going on as he seems to be battling some congestion.  I nearly convince myself that he has an ear infection and THAT'S why he was up so much last night, and consider taking him into Urgent Care, which is ridiculous because there are absolutely no signs that he has an ear infection and he has never had one.

Well, after multiple attempts to put him down he finally agrees to nurse and falls asleep in my arms.


It's 9:30 and Gus asks me for an apple. Hmm... that's random.  We do have some apples in the refrigerator but I don't think he's had one for weeks.  But okay, we'll share one.  While cutting this apple in half I realize I haven't eaten anything yet today.  


I stopped buying this stuff... my FAVORITE... when I realized it had more sugar in it than most sugary kid cereals.  Then a few weeks ago Dan came home with like 3 boxes of it to put in our storage pantry in the basement.  He doesn't even eat it, he bought it for me since he knew I liked it and we were out.  Ahhh well.  I suppose I will have to force myself to eat it.  


Gus and I head outside to play while Louie is down for the count.  I pop the lid off the sandbox, encouraging him to play in there, and he starts wandering the yard and pulling out trucks and other toys.


It is absolutely beautiful out, and I settle on the swing with my Kindle and the baby monitor, fooling myself into thinking Gus might play by himself a little bit while I relax.


Minutes later he is climbing up next to me to "snuggle", demanding a BIG ponytail to hang on to.  He doesn't like it when I put my hair in braids, he prefers the comfort that is provided by a good messy bun at the nape of his mother's neck.  

Go play!

I tell him to GO PLAY!  I'm still exhausted after the horrible night of wake-ups, and not going to lie, I am just craving peace and quiet, and space from my children.  Part of this craving is probably coming from the fact that it is not likely to happen until Dan comes home tomorrow afternoon.  Also, I am pretty into my book and it is actually getting good now that I'm 86% of the way through it.  On a related note, I love my kindle, I am reading so much more these days because of it.  Most of it is somewhat ridiculous young adult dystopian future/science fiction stuff, so that's a little embarrassing (today I'm finishing the 3rd book in the Mortal Instruments series), but still.  Loving it.        

Fill it up!

Gus asks for me to fill up the water table, and I go back and forth in my head, weighing the pros and cons of involving water and the inevitable mess it will create in our day.  Then I realize we have very little for concrete plans all day long, so what is my problem?  There's plenty of time for getting messy and cleaning up.  Plus, there is a chance Gus will be able to entertain himself for longer than 4 minutes.

So I turn on the hose, fill up his bucket, and fill up the water table, and then give in when he reveals his true intentions with begging me to turn on the hose: he wants to play with the sprayer!!!!


Oh my goodness, he and Bella have so much fun playing with the hose.  I have so much fun watching them I barely read my book.  It's a blast.  



Louie starts rustling around in his crib and I realize he's been napping nearly two hours, which is pretty amazing for him, especially in the morning.  I start picking up a few things, and tell Gus I'm going to turn off the hose.  I'm okay with him playing in the water table while I'm inside with Louie, but I don't trust him with the hose out there by himself.

After a few minutes of getting myself organized while Louie fusses a bit in the crib, I go to tell Gus I'm going inside and I'll be back in a few minutes.


This is what he has busied himself with, in the two minutes I have left him alone.  Apparently his and Bella's hose antics had created a giant mud hole in our perennial bed.  He is loving it, and is pretty darn proud of himself.  



I get him cleaned up and get him inside so I can nurse Louie, then we get packed up to bring Gus to my Dad's.  He's offered to take him to our city's Fire Station Open House this afternoon, which means I can run a few errands with just one child.  Amazing how much simpler it is to shop when you take one of these boys out of the equation.

1st time in the cart!

I put Louie in the cart seat for the first time!  Quite a milestone.  He's been sitting up fine on his own for over a month now, but I still usually wear him in the carrier because that is just our routine.  Also, usually Gus is sitting in the cart.  He looks around and smiles at everyone and loves his new vantage point.

Costco haul

Our Costco haul.  I curse myself when I open the back hatch of the car and realize I left one of our giant double strollers back there.  So annoying to have to pack things around that beast.  As I make my first sharp turn there is a big "THUMP THUMP" and I am a little panicked as I drive towards home that the crate of pears precariously wedged on top of the stroller and up against the side of the car was what fell, and there are ripe pears rolling all over my car getting bruised.

I get home and realize it was just that big box of soy milk that fell (note: also precariously wedged).

After unpacking the car, putting all the groceries away, and nursing Louie, we hang out for a while on the floor in the living room.  I check our inbox on to see if we have any more applicants for the nanny position we're looking to fill.  (OH MY that is a whole other story, but suffice it to say it has been a stressful month trying to figure out a new childcare situation after we found out my sister-in-law was going to go back to work and no longer watch our kids.  After a whole month of watching them.  I haven't mentioned the whole situation here because, well, I have spent the better part of the last month avoiding the problem and pretending it would fix itself.  I'll say this: last week I went into my boss's office with the intention of putting in my resignation and staying home with my kids, I literally had the letter in my hands, and then... I couldn't go through with it.  True story, the whole situation is turning me into a basket case and I may or may not be regularly medicating myself with ice cream and wine after the kids go to bed.)

Pulling himself up

Louie and I enjoy our time playing without his bull-in-a-china-shop brother stomping around and getting jealous when baby bro dares to play with his toys.

Ahhhh!  Slow it down child, 7 1/2 months old and now you're pulling yourself up on things?!


He is super proud of himself.  (Also: delicious.)

Before long my dad calls to tell me they're home from the Fire Station (it's less than a block from their house) and I can come get Gus.  Not surprisingly, he was terrified of the fire trucks and police cars and refused to go near them (he was traumatized by some excruciatingly loud and drawn out blaring of sirens & horns at a parade earlier this summer), but loved the bouncy castle and the red balloon and the cotton candy.  It's well past lunch time, and nearing nap time, so I am feeling rushed and lazy and decide to pick up some fast food on the way to my parents for Gus and I to quick share.

I open up the service door to the garage, carrying the diaper bag and Louie, and like a flash see something small out of the corner of my eye dart out from under the car.  Uhhhhh...

I try to pretend I didn't see anything, open the garage door, and start down the stairs.  And then I see a disgusting mouse crawling right along the ladder coming RIGHT TOWARD ME.

And I freaking scream like a little girl and run as fast as I can to the car, put Louie in the back seat, and continue screaming and dancing so as to not keep one foot on the ground for any length of time and jump in the front.  Oh. My. God.

My heart is racing and I feel like I'm going to puke.  Gross.  I look out the window and see my neighbors across the alley who are sitting on their back patio looking over at me, probably wondering if someone was being murdered after all that screaming.  

On the way to my dad's I call Dan up at his friend's cabin to report the mouse sighting and ask if there's any way for a mouse to get in our car because there's a huge mess of snack mix on the floor in the back seat from a week ago when Gus dumped out a big container of the stuff and now I'm freaking out that there are mice living in our car and they are going to crawl on my feet while I drive.

I'm not at all acting irrational.

Dan (who has likely been drinking) starts messing around with me about the mouse riding a motorcycle and doing jumps into the car and from the laughter and cajoling in the background it's clear that his friends are also cracking jokes at my expense.


He asks me how the night went and I told him it probably could not have gone any worse, and in a strange way that makes me fear tonight a little less.

After we eat our chicken nuggets and french fries (I know) at my dad's, I get the kids home (I park in the driveway to avoid run-ins with Stuart Little), and get them each down for naps.  While reading Gus a story, he sits up and looks at me with his big blue eyes and says, "Mommy, I sorry I scared of firetrucks."

Oh my goodness.  I tell him that it's okay to be afraid, and he doesn't have to be sorry, and then I die from the cuteness.

While the kids nap I spend my time doing something wasteful and indulgent.  (In other words, I didn't write anything down and am typing this up five days later.)

Go away!

Gus is up from his nap and waves me off and tells me to "Go away!" when I go to his room to let him out.  He's hiding in the corner, red faced, holding on to the dresser, and grunting.  I ask if he wants to go poop on the potty chair, and again he tells me to "Go away!".  Rude.

Playing after nap

After a little playtime, we head out.  We're going back to my parents because they offered to cook us dinner and I never refuse free food or company when I'm solo-parenting.

Getting Gas, thrilling

I have 17 miles left on my tank, so we stop for gas.

Mom & Dad's

My parents get dinner together and entertain my kids while I sit and stare at the computer, feeling exhausted.

In the way


After dinner we play outside in the backyard and contemplate going for a walk.  It's cool and cloudy and feels like fall.  I love this weather.

Louie Dog Water

Louie is already becoming a bit of a handful, it's amazing how quickly things change when these babies get mobile!  Last week he threw a mini tantrum when I picked up the dog's water and food dish after he went after them in the kitchen.  I couldn't help but laugh, it was quite ridiculous.

Tonight he goes after the tub of water I put out for the dog on the deck, but he's getting tired and cranky, so when he heads for it, I decide to just let him play.  It keeps him happy and entertained, and it's just water, right?


This is the playhouse in my parent's back yard, it came with the house when they bought it eight years ago, and it is so awesome.  This summer they've started to fix it up, paint it, and make it safe for the kids to play in.  Adorable, I would have killed for something like this when I was a kid!


Get down!

Not sure how I feel about the ladder though...  Is that me being overprotective?



Do we all see the bags under my eyes?

Grandma wants to play!

I love this picture because look at my mom.  Gus is busy filling up his wheel barrow and pushing it around the yard and she is running after him telling him to play with that truck.  She gets kind of overbearing and extra excited about Gus's play, she can't seem to help herself.

Louie & Grandma



My dad has the smart idea to bring out Gus's fire station balloon from earlier, and of course the second he puts it around Gus's wrist it slips off and flies away.

Gus is not happy.

Sobbing over his lost balloon


Louie is getting super cranky, it's 7:15 and bedtime is looming.  My parents offer to keep Gus there for an hour, bathe him, and bring him home all ready for bed.

I love this idea, and I head home with Louie.  I waited too long, clearly, because Louie is absolutely freaking out and sobbing the whole five minutes it takes for me to get home and in the house.

I get Louie in his jammies and nurse him and he's asleep within minutes, leaving me with forty glorious minutes to tidy up and fold some laundry and relax a bit while watching TV.  My parents arrive around 8:15 with Gus.  (Thank you thank you thank you!  It was such a sanity-saver having him out of the house so I could do bedtime with Louie sans-interruption.)

Gus and I head upstairs, read some books, and then we both fall asleep in his bed.  I wake up at 10:00 and get my pajamas on, let out the dog, and read in bed for about ten minutes until I can barely keep my eyes open.  Bed.  Sleep.  Yes.  (It is weird going to sleep without Dan in the house, but I'm almost too tired tonight to care.)

The End.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

The ideal

I was talking to Dan this morning about how different the reality of parenting is from the ideal in your head.  I suppose some days are closer to the ideal, but others are just total chaos, from the second you get out of bed.  This morning was idyllic.  I took the four minutes it takes to make the bed.  We sat on the living room floor with Louie, eating our cereal and drinking our coffee, then I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher in the kitchen while Dan read the paper and Louie crawled around like a maniac.  Now Louie is napping, the windows are all open and there's this amazing cool breeze, and I am writing.  Dan is mowing the lawn. 

It feels... easy.  But there's something missing right?  Yeah.  GUS.

Two kids really is no joke.

Or should I say toddlers are no joke?

I can't believe how easy-going the house feels this morning with just a baby.

This is how a normal weekend morning would go:

The kids play in the living room while one of us supervises. (Gus has been having some spells of badness with Louie these days, which have become more frequent now that his little brother is crawling and totally getting up in his business.  Maybe someday I'll share the video I have from earlier this week when Louie was just starting to crawl and we were cheering him on and enticing him with toys and then Gus comes over and just flat out shoves the poor kid into the ground.  Bonk, his big ole pumpkin head connecting with the hard wood floor.  Screaming, crying, Gus immediately running to his room without even being told.  Yes, this is all caught on tape.)


Normal Sunday... The other parent is at the same time rushing around to get breakfast ready.  Gus is back and forth between the living room and the kitchen the whole time, demanding popsicles and milk and ice cream and Thomas and George and "Go downstairs and play trains MOMMY!" and "I want my Cars sticker book!" and "Go to grandma's for Julia's birthday party!"  (That party was two weeks ago, kid cannot stop thinking about it.) 

When we're ready, Louie all sat up in his high chair with a sippy cup of water or something (kid these days is flat out refusing to eat any food, pureed or not) and the rest of us sit around the kitchen table, Gus begging and whining for us to turn on some cartoon for the majority of our breakfast.  

Then it's nap time for Louie and I try desperately to sneak away and nurse him but Gus barges in the room and then Louie won't nurse and wants to giggle at his brother and Gus is jumping on the bed and I'm screaming for Dan and yelling at him for not keeping Gus occupied for the TEN MINUTES it takes for me to nurse the baby. 

So that's a pretty normal Sunday.

Gus is just really really really demanding these days, I know it's his age, but wow.  And he does not want to play by himself.  The only way to really keep him out of your  hair for any discernible amount of time is to turn on the TV, and we try desperately to keep TV time to a minimum, or at least only use it when absolutely necessary. 

Gus is at my parents' house this morning, they've been begging to take him for a sleepover for weeks now, and we just haven't been able to coordinate our schedules. So last night they took both kids for the evening, and kept Gus overnight.  While Dan and I had a lovely and decadent two-drink dinner sitting on a dimly lit patio in the city, they took our children to my old church's festival.

It's strange, every year we talk about going up to the festival, but the whole place just feels like... I don't know, it's this community and building that all stay the same while the world around them evolves and grows and changes with the times.  So we haven't really gone, because when I'm there I can't help but feel weird.  I am so conflicted about what that church represents, what so many of those people believe, I feel like an outsider, even if I'm just there to play ring toss with my toddler and eat nachos and walk through the gym full of silent auction baskets.  I see people that I recognize from my youth and wonder if they are in agreement with this amendment that is being proposed that would say it's okay that I get married, and divorced, over and over and over again if I'd like, but not my brother.  He's different.  His lifestyle is wrong.  Do they think that?  They might.  And I can't stop thinking about it.  And I can't separate those people from their beliefs, even though many of them are really kind, wonderful people (who are totally on the wrong side of history, I'm sure of that).

So even though I have wonderful memories of growing up in that community, sitting in those little classrooms, learning how to write in cursive and diagram sentences, going to Mass with the rest of my classmates on Fridays, trading slap bracelets with my friends on the playground.  It feels like another life, and when I try to go back, I feel like an intruder.  I can't get behind the church's teachings, and I feel like a hypocrite even participating in something as mundane as Bingo in the cafeteria.

Yeah, that was a massive digression. 

Suffice it to say, the kids had a blast at the festival, and could have cared less whether or not they are pro-gay marriage there.  :)  Gus rode a train, he played tic-tac-toe and won a squirt gun, he met a police officer and got his own badge, from what I hear from the grandparents, it was a wonderful evening.  Even Louie loved being worn by my mother and looking at all the people and the lights and the fun being had.

Point is, this morning has been a nice break, and a good reminder of how difficult life can be with these two boys, but also how worth it it all is.  Because as wonderful and needed this relaxing morning has been, I'm also beside myself with excitement about bringing Gus to Chuck E. Cheese this afternoon for the first time, for my friend's son's 2nd birthday.  Seriously, kid is going to FLIP OUT for the awesomeness that is a Chuck E. Cheese toddler birthday party.

(These photos were all taken by my friend Lisa on Friday, we spent the day together and she took amazing pictures of my children and read books to Gus at nap time and carried a sleeping 20+ lb Louie in the BabyHawk around half of Lake Calhoun and just all around was (and is) THE BEST FRIEND EVER all day long.  Thank you Lisa.  I love these pictures and I love you!)