I’m no expert

Shocking, I know. However, the reality is that whether you have one child or ten children, we never really become the expert parents that we so desire to be. As a matter of fact, as soon as you start to actually say to yourself, “Oh, I know JUST what to do here. No problem, seen it a hundred times,” life throws another curve ball and your stuck chanting the mantra of newbie parents everywhere, “WhatdoIdowhatdoIdoCrapCrapWhatdoIdo?!?!!”

I was chanting just that mantra this morning when I went into Kate’s room to discover the most rancid, aweful smell emanating from her pants. She’s been really picky about eating for the past few days…so much so, that she’s only wanted green beans and strawberries. She’s also had a very, very mild off-and-on fever, but I thought it was just a teething thing because, you know, I AM the expert…right?

Wrong! As soon as I picked her up and took her to the changing table, I knew I was in over my head. Imagine the nastiest diaper possible…now multiply by 100 and THAT’S what was waiting for me at 8:00 AM from the sweetest, cherubic face imaginable. I’ve never seen anything like it and that includes having had a boy first. I was shocked, appalled and completely freaked out.


Needless to say I pulled myself together and managed to clean it up, but the whole thing got me thinking that maybe, just maybe I’m not the totally-awesome-has-it-together expert mother that I had tricked myself into believing. As a matter of fact, what do I ACTUALLY know about parenting? So I had to wrack my brain and think of a few things that I know, without a doubt, about parenting. Otherwise, I might as well hand in my Mother Card and call it a day. Please do enjoy:

1)Getting peed on is WAY preferrable to the alternative.
3)It is acceptable to allow another kid shove or yell at your child, but kicking and punching is when you intervene.
4)Sometimes ear infections present as crankiness and low grade fevers instead of the traditional symptoms.
5)Television is not a bad way to distract for 30 minutes…or so.
6)Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle
7)Every fall, bump, scrape and booboo can magically be fixed with a kiss.
8)Never feel stupid for taking your kid to see the doctor and don’t let anyone else make you feel stupid or hysterical…listen to your instincts.
9)Tell your kid about the playdate ON THE DAY OF, not before…just in case you can’t deliver.
10)No two kids are alike, even if they are siblings.
11)Discipline is just another arm of love.
12)Cleaning up poop in the bathtub is not as hard, or disgusting, as you would think.
13)No matter how much you clean your child, he/she will ALWAYS manage to find the dirt and sit and/or roll in it.
14)Infants can’t focus on more than two things at a time, so bouncing, swaying and singing all at the same time will quiet ANY colicky baby.
15)Sometimes you just gotta go with your gut instead of what the books, mom’s and friends are telling you.

I take it back…

I’m going to do something on this blog that I rarely ever do(mostly because I never really have to). I’m going to take it back and say I was….wait for it….wrong. Yes, I’m taking back every praise I ever uttered about that damn Wii. In a previous post, I suggested that it was a good thing for our family. I even went so far as to claim that it was fun. Well folks, we are four months into having that demonic device and I can safely say the only things that have come out of the Wii are 1)shouting, 2)temper tantrums 3)crying and 4)power struggles.

It’s gotten so bad I had to develop a “Behavior Chart” to reward my 4 year old for things he should ALREADY be doing! Pre-Wii, things were actually going pretty smooth. He was listening to me; we were agreeing on most things; the temper tantrums had waned…it was like a freakin 80s sitcom around here! Post-Wii has been a completely different story as he has reverted back to the tantrums and screaming about playing Mario Kart all day. If I tell him to turn it of, it’s a knock down, drag out battle of the vocal cords.

So, what is a behavior chart? It is much like a potty chart that rewards stickers for good behavior. We call ours the “No Fits” chart. At the top I drew pictures of everything we fight about and down the side I listed the days of the week. Once he fills his chart with stickers, he can go pick out a toy. As I was drawing the pictures for the top I realized that, “Damn. We fight about everything. It’s an all day event!” I’ve got pictures of: eating breakfast, getting dressed, going to school, sitting on the potty, playing the Wii, getting in the bath, going to bed, running errands and listening to me. Yup, that basically sums up our entire day.

No Fits!!
No Fits!!

However, I am happy to report that the chart has been very helpful this week. I noticed that Max and I are a little nicer to each other, a little slower to snap, and all around pleasant again. Of course, he has off days and so do I, but I think it’s been a HUGE benefit in the long run. If he starts to throw a fit about something, I just threaten to take away a sticker or, worse yet, not even GIVE him a sticker and he straightens up….usually. So we’ll see how this plays out. Could be the best thing we’ve done or it could turn into yet ANOTHER chapter in our book called, “Max and Mommy: Living with laughter, intensity and power struggles.”

Here’s what I know for sure….

So, last weekend I went on a much needed, MUCH deserved girls weekend in Austin, Texas. Most of us were mothers, so you can imagine the craziness and chaos that ensued when we arrived in A-Town for a little R&R. You guessed it, window shopping by day and Jazz Clubs by night….CRAZY! Anyway, I left my two precious children in the care of their dad, AKA “Mr Fun.” Now, I understand that dads usually don’t parent like mothers. When I mean “parent,” I’m more referring to the sort of non-essentials of parenthood: bathing, clean clothes, regulating TV time, etc. I returned on Sunday and here’s what I know for sure, it all looked seemingly fine…at first glance.

The house was actually not that messy, the kids were happy, dad was happy, dog was happy. However, I noticed that the kids were both in the PJs from the night I left. Okay…not such a big deal, it WAS the weekend after all! Then I noticed the half eaten dinners on the table were mac and cheese and cheese quesadillas. Oooohhhh-kay, I would not necessarily have chosen processed cheese and carbloading our children before bedtime…but hey, they were all happy and content so who am I to judge.

But something was off and I couldn’t put my finger on it…then it hit me. When I left, Max needed help playing Mario Kart. It’s a pretty tough game for a 3 year old because you have to have good spacial and motor skills to actually maneuver the game AND drive the courses. When I returned from my weekend away, I noticed Max was sitting on the couch playing Mario Kart all by himself. There he was….sitting there in his PJs, socks pulled up to his shins, and staring intensely at the television with the focus of Mario Andretti. He kinda looked like that brother or husband’s friend who stays with you while he “looks for a job,” but decides that free rent at Chez Roberts is way better than actually looking for employment. So I asked Ryan, “Umm…exactly how much Mario Kart did he play?” Ryan proceeded to inform me that Max pretty much hasn’t left the couch in two days.

Well, I thought this was funny. I mean, what’s the harm right? Wrong. It has been four, long(oh so long) days that I’ve been weening Max off of Mario Kart. I liken it to that scene in Trainspotting where he’s detoxing from herion…and it ain’t pretty. To make matters worse, today I allowed a bit of Mario Kart(just to take the edge off), and I walked away to put Katie down for her nap. I returned to the family room and noticed the screen…Max was embattled with another player halfway around the world! Some person named “Dash” was playing MY 3 year old in a Mario Kart race to the finish! I immediately pulled the plug mid-race and a fleeting, yet amusing thought, ran through my brain, “I wonder if Dash knew he was playing a 3 year old….” I sternly looked at Max(who was innocently staring back) and said to him, “Now, I DO NOT want you to play with the other players….I ONLY want you to play with yourself.” Yeah.

Let’s Jump!

It has finally happened. Kate is officially a terrible two…and she’s only 17 months old! It started slowly; a frustrated cry here, a defiant look there. She has now moved on to full fledged temper tantrums and the worst part is, Max is still having them as well. Needless to say I’m pretty worn out from all of the screaming(extremely loud) and parenting(not always very good) going on daily. I was doing the time out thing in her crib with books, then I decided that she ready for real time out-which is not filled with singing, books and fun! I thought it was time to get serious and a bit militant with Miss Thang…but I am sad to report that all attempts at “militant” time out have, alas, been used in vain. She just doesn’t give a crap!

Just yesterday we had a MAJOR showdown about the side table in the living room. Max likes to stand on the table(which is adjacent to the couch) and “fall” onto the couch. He also enjoys jumping from the ottoman(which serves as a coffee table) onto the couch. Now, at first I was very much against all of this jumping and falling, but I have slowly resigned to the fact that I must pick and choose my battles with him. As many of you with “spirited” children are WELL aware, you can’t battle about everything because the 3 year old has way more staying power and drive to win. Anyway, Kate has been watching Max like a hawk for the past few months and she decided yesterday was the perfect day to impress him with her adept climb/fall skills.

I left her and Max in the family room while I went to tend to the “laundry.” And by, “laundry,” I mean “check my email.” I returned about one minute later and I spotted her…standing on the side table, which is surrounded by tile, and staring defiantly at me then the couch. Just as I lunged to yank her to safety, she swan dove onto the couch….laughing that maniacle, Joker giggle the whole way down. After the time out, she proceeded to march right back to the couch, climb onto the table and fall again. Here’s how my afternoon went:
Me: “Katie! That’s a No No!”
Katie: “HAHAHAHAHAHA! Catch ya on the flip side mom!”
Me: “You wanna go to time out?”
Katie: “Sure, after I jump one more time. Hey Max! Check THIS out!”
Me: “Fine. You’re going to time out again!”
Katie: “Whateves.”

We had this exchange over and over and over…I give up.

Max’s quotes of the week

On discussing where we should eat that day and what toy he would receive: I wanna go to Kings Burger and get the pink glasses!

Upon the realization that no other kids were at the Burger King playcenter: Where are my best friends? I NEED my best friend!

On going number two in the potty after eating too many Sweet Tarts: Mommy! Mommy! Can you help me? My poo-poo is hurting and I have pee-pee on my foot. Can you get it off?

On having to apologize to Baby Kate because he jumped on her head: I didn’t hurt her Mommy. I was just showing her how to jump off the couch.

After playing with our dog: Mommy, Zoe is my best friend.

After being told it’s time to get out of the bathtub: That was AWEFUL!

When asked if he knew what “aweful” meant: Yes. It means sad. It was a sad bath.

And finally, after losing at one of the Wii Carnival games: Oh. My. God! THIS is Ri-Dic-U-Lous!

I play, You play, Wii all play!

I was very much against letting my kids play video games before the age of 8…just like I was against letting them watch television, eat at McDonalds and play in the mud, but I think we all know how THAT turned out. There were a lot of things I thought I would never allow my kids to do; especially play video games! A few years ago, I was at a friends house and her 4 year old was expertly manuevering a “Bob the Builder” game on the computer. I sat in awe and amazement that this still-craps-in-his-pants little boy could be so astute at the computer and I could barely keep up! I left her house smiling smugly(as many people without children do), and thinking, “That is soooo sad. He should be out playing outside instead of sitting in front of a computer all day. I bet he’ll have ADD or something.”

Yes, things are much more black and white when you don’t have children. It’s just soooooo easy to cast judgement on the parenting choices of others, and swear that YOU’LL never do “that.” But that’s because you haven’t actually faced a steaming mad, screaming toddler in the face who is not amused with the thousand dollars worth of toys you’ve collected, and the only thing that will keep his/her attention long enough for you to take that wicked pee that you promised yourself you would take(oh, about an hour ago), is a Baby Einstein video or Yo Gabba Gabba on the TiVo.

So, needless to say I’ve changed my stance on many things over the 3.5 years I’ve been a mother, and video games is one of them. We got a Wii for Christmas, and I have to say that EVERYONE loves it! Max has one game in particular that he loves called, “Carnival,” which he refers to as, “Carnival Wii.” Even Ryan and I have stayed up many nights playing the sports games and bragging about who KO’d whom in the Boxing game. It has even turned into quite a powerful bargaining tool, “If you eat your green beans, then you can play the Wii,” or, “If you don’t throw a fit when we leave the store, then you can play the Wii.” Yes, Ryan then complies with all of my requests, as does the 3 year old….most of the time.

Lullaby’s are soooo last season

Our neighbors just had their first baby. He’s totally adorable and so tiny. Holding him, it was hard to imagine either one of my kids ever being that small. Well, actually Kate was that small and Max was a monstrosity of a baby, so he was not. But regardless, I was holding this tiny, little baby last night and all the memories of being a first time parent came flooding back….especially when I got home and had time to think. I don’t remember a lot about the first days of Max’s existence, but I do remember sitting in the hospital on the second night. I was trying to nurse him; he was frustrated with my ineptness; I was crying; he was screaming….that basically sums up our entire relationship since.

So, I was sitting there, trying to come up with something to do or sing(because in my research pre-baby, I read somewhere that babies love hearing you sing). I was really struggling to come up with something…I tried, “Rock a’bye baby,” but he screamed louder(probably because of the threat of his cradle crashing to the ground surely sealing his fate). Then I tried that “Hush little baby” song, but I couldn’t remember the lyrics(cue more frustration with my ineptness). I was racking my brain trying to think of something, and the only thing that came to my mind, that I could remember the lyrics and melody, was, “Every Rose Has its Thorn.“Yes, apparently when I’m under pressure, I resort to 80s hair bands to calm my nerves and get me through.

Well, my son has impeccable taste because he quieted right down. From then on, I decided I was not going to bother with the classic lullabies. Instead, I was going to serenade my precious with a totally awesome collection of mommy’s favorites. His list of songs includes: Every Rose has its Thorn, Your Song, Beautiful Boy and Blackbird. What’s even MORE hilarious, is that Max can sing EVERY SINGLE lyric to every song. It’s quite amusing to hear a 3 year old singing, at the top of his lungs, “And now I hear you found somebody new. And that I never meant that much to you. To hear that tears me up inside and to see you cu-uts me like a knife.

Kate is starting her very own song list as well. Her’s include: Kiss the Girl, Good Night Sweetheart, I’m Yours and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I’m sure there will come a day when she will sing, oh so softly and sweetly,”I tried to be chill but your so hot I melted.

So….for all of you NON-Lullibiers out there. Tell me. What do YOU sing to your kiddos? Or if you don’t have kids, what WILL you sing when the day comes that you’re faced with a tiny, red faced, screaming baby, just waiting to be impressed?

My little drunk

I forgot how absolutely ADORABLE a baby is when they start to walk. Wobbly, staggard steps; hands splayed out for balance; head positioned slightly forward to maintain direction. It’s just the cutest thing in the world. Many mom’s have termed learning to walk the, “Frankenstein Walk.” I, however, think that it looks a little different. I was watching Kate wobble around this morning and it made me think of a little, drunk old lady whose just spotted the nursing home’s exit door ajar, so she decided to make a break for it….have you got the visual? Well, if you’ve actually seen Kate, you’d probably imagine a little old man instead, due to her unfortunate hairline that hasn’t quite filled-in in the front! Nevertheless, she’s toddling all over the place and babbling as she makes it from one end of the room to the other. Soon, she’ll be toddling over and asking me for the keys to the car and $20 for gas….I can’t wait.

You can run, but you can’t hide

I knew it was coming. I knew it would not be long. I KNEW I could not go more than a year before it happened(que Jaws theme music)….the EAR INFECTION!! In our house, no two words together have caused more sleepless nights(everyone), snotty noses(kids), fever(kids) and tears(mostly mine). Kate has been diagnosed with her very first ear infection…and it only took 13 months. On the whole, that actually isn’t bad since it seemed like Max had one every three months for almost two years….he just CAN’T go easy on me can he? We were in beautiful, sunny Palm Springs for Christmas, but nary a sun ray to be had nor a palm tree to be seen since both kiddos came down with head colds as soon as their feet touched California land….I think they may be allergic, but I’m no doctor. So we spent most of our “vacation” running back and forth to CVS and stocking up on the local delicacies(since you can’t just get everything in one stupid trip) such as: Mucinex(Grape AND Cherry), Sudafed(even though the FDA has CLEARLY banned if for six years and under, but what the hell do they know….she says defiantly), humidifiers(two…one for each kid), Benadryl(because I’m not above drugging a baby to get some sleep!) and a very cheap, large bottle of wine for mommy. Needless to say my husband and I were dreading the flight back, and we were not disappointed. Let’s just say that bad things were said, food was thrown, hands flew and screaming emanated from everyone’s mouths. I even think Max let out a curse word somewhere, but I cannot be sure. But, we made it back to Texas safely, if not a wee bit humiliated and traumatized. First thing this morning, I called Doc Scott and I am about to go pick up BOTH of their antibiotics since they both have ear infections. Max is handling his very well…he’s the ole’ pro. Kate, on the other hand, has seen better days. She’s tired, misty eyed and probably wondering what the hell happened to the right side of her head. I too am tired, misty eyed and wondering what the hell happened to my entire face!

Voulez-vou l’eau avec bubbles ou sans bubbles….

Okay, you’ll have to pardon my French…it’s been a VERY long time since I had to write or speak it, and even then I sucked pretty bad! I actually liked it in high school, but then I had this aweful professor in college that ruined it for me. He spoke French with an Albanian accent, so it sounded like a cross between French and German….where’s the romance in that? Plus, he was always droning on and on about how the French were bigots and racists towards the Albanians, and drove them out of the country, blah, blah, blah. It didn’t help that the class was from 7-9 pm on THURSDAY nights. Any fellow collegiates understand what that means? Yes, THURSDAY nights were the big nights to go out and par-tay! BUT, that is neither here nor there.
Emily…why IS this post titled “Voulez-vou l’eau avec bubbles ou sans bubbles,” you wonder? Well, roughly translated it means “Would you like the water with or without fizz.” I heard this a lot when I visited France a few years ago. In every restaurant we ate, that was the standard question when ordering water. Sooooo what do a French waiter, Emily and meal time at the Roberts houshold have in common? Easy. I feel like a freakin’ French waiter every time I go to serve my 1 year old daughter, who is now lovingly referred to as “Miss Diva Thang.” Don’t get me wrong. She is a fantastic eater, which is way more than I can say for Miggity Max Daddy…the only thing green he liked to eat were his boogies. HAHAHA! No, she’s picky about her drinks. There will be no apple juice or grape juice or even water in THIS house. Nooooo, that would be way too convenient and cost effective. Miss Diva Thang requires her drinks to be FLAVORED water; specifically, Gerber Fruit Splashers. And no, she will not drink it straight from the refrigerator….but she will require it to be warmed to perfection in the microwave. I’ve finally gotten the exact drink/time ratio down-five ounces of flavored water to 18 seconds makes it the perfect temperature for my little angel. Why oh why did I let it get this far? Because I’m a sucker that’s why…what else can I say? I’ve created a petite, particular little monster. However, she’s also a very persuasive little devil…she launched a full-blown drink strike a few months ago where she refused all juices. So, until the day comes where she can get her own drinks and warm them in her own microwave, I’ll just have to keep serving her the way she wants it done…”Avec arome de fruits mon petite princesse?”…..Oh, and she also has to have her food warmed to the perfect temperature as well, but that’s a post for another day:)

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