Thursday, October 28, 2010

Our Neighbors

The people in our neighborhood are all at different stages of life. Its actually kind of interesting to compare our situation to theirs. Ya know, think about where we're going, where we've been. That sort of thing. So here is a glimpse into the lives of the families that surround us...

There's us of course. The young, cute, hip totally put together couple with the two ADORABLE little kids.


Anyway, we have our next door neighbors to the right.  They have kids a little older than ours so they can basically relate to us. I hear them yelling sometimes too.

In fact, when I hear their kids throwing a temper tantrum my first though is "Good! Thank God other people's offspring do that." My second though it is "Damn. They still do that when they're eight?"

Then there's the older couple across the street. They're grandparents so they've been there and done that. They like to hear stories about what the boys are doing. They send over little gifts for the kids and get a kick out of everything they do at this stage. We love them.

Finally, we have our other next door neighbors. The newlywed couple. The young romantics not tied down by children. The couple who holds hands as they go for a leisurely evening stroll. Ah...remember those days?

 Me neither.

I cannot imagine what they must think of us.

First of all, they put us to shame with the amount of upkeep they do to their house.

Yes, it must be SO nice that you can both take four hours on a Saturday afternoon to paint the railings on your porch together. I remember having that kind of free time.

Or isn't it adorable that you two put all that work into your lawn and garden. "I'll mow, honey. You can prune the hedges. And after that we'll go have a candle lit dinner, stare into each others eyes and talk about how valuable and fulfilling our relationships is!"

Lovely, just lovely. Our conversations about yard work go something like this...

"Jesus Christ! You haven't mowed the lawn in three friggin weeks! It looks like the Amazon Rain Forest out there. Do it while the kids are napping cause right when you're done we gotta go food shopping and then do those returns at Target..."

I bet it drives them crazy when our unraked leaves blow onto their perfectly manicured property. Is it wrong that I get a small amount of satisfaction from that?

Sometimes I really do wonder what I sound like to them as I'm yelling at...I mean reasoning with... my kids.

"I don't know WHY you would think it was a good idea to pull the wheels off of your fire truck and EAT them, but let me tell you, IT WASN'T!"..."GET OFF THAT NOW!"..."Do NOT push him again!"..."I can't take this today Carter! I CAN'T!"

Living next door to us is the best birth control life has to offer.

I also get really jealous when I see them leave their house to go somewhere and they aren't carrying anything...or anyone for that matter.

Then they see us leaving the house lugging fifteen bags...and we still make three trips back from the car for the inevitably forgotten items.

I think if they ever saw me leave the house, get in the car and just drive away they wouldn't know what to make of it. They would probably call the police, thinking I'd been high jacked or something.

I wish children on them daily...


So they finally had a kid.  We didn't know she was pregnant until a month before she delivered because she never left the house.  I thought maybe them having offspring would make them less weird and introverted...I was mistaken.

One afternoon we were playing in the yard when we stopped to talk to them (a very rare occurrence since they usually get out of their car and BOLT into the house.)

We were chatting and Carter was in the background screaming about something.  I gave my best sarcastic eye roll and said "Three is a fun age! I bet you guys hear him screaming all the time!"

Things I expected them to say: "Oh no, not at all!" or "Hahaha! He's a kid, that's what they do right?"

Things they said: "Yes.  Yes we do." With the most serious faces I'd ever seen. 

Oh, well, in that case I hope your child is born with horns.  I can't wait to call in a noise complaint the first time I hear him cry. 

We were thrilled when we saw the "For Sale" sign in their yard.  Even more thrilled when we saw the "Sold" sign go up. They packed up their stuff yesterday and just drove away.  Didn't even give us a second thought.  What?  No hug goodbye? I'm shocked.  SEE YA! 

New neighbors move in to follow I"m sure!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Things Carter Says in Public

So, you're out in a store. You're minding your own business. A woman with a kid in a shopping cart passes by you and out of the blue the kid says something completely inappropriate. And the mother looks mortified but you laugh cause, hey, its not your kid!

Yeah, that's cause it's my kid.

And I'm hoping that when he says these things the people who hear it choose to be amused by Carter and do not choose to, say, call child protective services.

For example...we're out at gymnastics class and Carter is bouncing happily on the trampoline. He's just singing and laughing and generally enjoying life. I'm having a moment where I just love him...uh huh...

From out of nowhere he says "If you hit the dogs..."

At this point I think he's going to say "If you hit the dogs, you'll go in time out". Something like that. So I'm alright with encouraging him to finish his sentence.

"What happens if you hit the dogs, Carter?"

"Mama will let them bite you...and it will hurt."

The mother next to me looks over so I smile and laugh. Thankfully, so does she.

She shakes her head and gives me the good old "Where do they get these things!"

Ha...ha...yeah its funny. Except I know exactly where he gets these things because I did actually say that to him...probably more than once. Alright, definitely more than once.

Then there are the times when he says something embarrassing and just won't stop.

We were at Babies R Us and the cashier said hello to Carter.

Carter looked at her for a second and then said...."That's Uncle Donny".

OK, now Uncle Donny is a 6'2", rather large man. And in Carter's defense, this lady actually did bear a striking resemblance to him. Poor thing.

Sometimes you know what your kid is saying but no one else does. Unfortunately for me Carter has very clear speech. I highly doubt the woman couldn't make out the words "Uncle" and "Donny". Especially because he repeated it several times...

"Hi Uncle Donny...What Uncle Donny doing?...Thank you, Uncle Donny!"

I need to find out when she works and not shop there at those times because I don't think I want to run into her again any time soon...and I'm sure she feels the same way.  
Form 1

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Evolution of Time Out

Throughout Carter's life we have used many time out spots and techniques.

"No, I read about this today. This one will work..."

I'm beginning to think they have not yet invented the time out trick that can cure Carter. Or they probably have, but it's since been outlawed.

We gave Carter his first time out when he was 14 months old. I sat him on the small carpet in our play room. He laughed...I should have known then.

I wasn't sure how long to keep him there or if he even got the concept of time out, but I was actively disciplining my child so I gave myself a quick pat on the back. Nothing irks me more than parents who let their children run the show, tell them what to do or say no to them.

I once watched a mother actually bribe her child with MONEY to put on her shoes in the middle of winter.

"I'll give you a dollar if you put on your shoes."

SERIOUSLY! How bout I'll let you LIVE if you put on your shoes? Its winter, this is not an option, put on your damn shoes. I was not going to have this child.

At 15 months we began physically holding him on that carpet square while looking away and not giving him any attention. I was eight months pregnant at the time so, I'm not sure if you can picture me trying to wrestle with him at this point...but try, cause it's funny.

At 18 months we went to two minutes and made him sit on the bottom step of our staircase. So now every time he got put on that step his first move was to mess with the throw rug that I have in the foyer...cause he knew that it annoyed me. Then he would look at me innocently and ask "What happened?" You, Carter. You happened.

Now, the thing about Carter is not only is he very fresh...he's also very amusing. This leads to some difficult discipline moments.

Like, when Mike was explaining how we can't actually ride our little brothers and Carter very slowly and very deliberately reached out his finger and poked Mike right in the eye. It's probably hard to take the lesson seriously with your mother cracking up in the background. Or the time when the toaster dinged while I was correcting him and he exclaimed "OH! Your toast is ready!" How does one recover from that?

So the doctor just told us we need to step up our game and put him in his room for time outs.

Now, do I tie him up and then put him up there? Cause I'm pretty sure that's the only way that this will not result in my having to pick up the room that he trashed while alone in there for two minutes. Who is this a punishment for again?

OK, I'll try anything at this point. So I wait for an you can guess I didn't have to wait long.
"We don't push our brother! Time out! Upstairs!"

I put him in there, shut the door and wait. I hear the drawers opening, things being thrown around and even one noise that I didn't recognize...soooo... that made me kind of nervous.

Towards the end I hear silence. I go up to release the prisoner. And find him laying, literally sprawled out, in the middle of his room surrounded by every shirt, blanket, toy and chair (that was the noise I didn't recognize) that he could get his hands on. He just looks at me. And he honestly looks exhausted! Like it was just SO much work wreaking all that havoc, and he just totally needed a rest!

So as I had imagined, this is more of a punishment for ME than for HIM. What I really need is a room with nothing in it. I need to put him in "the hole", solitary confinement. I've seen shows where this works on inmates...something to think about...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Did You Even Taste That?

I think Carter has a sixth sense that lets him know when I am eating.

Honestly, its like his toddler superpower. No matter how quietly I open up that bag of cookies, no matter how softly I close the cabinet, no matter where in the house he is at the time...I turn around and he's standing there looking at me.

"You want a cookie, Carter?" (That's him offering himself a cookie.)

Damn it! "No, this is Mama's cookie."

Have you ever tried to explain to a two-year-old why you can have a cookie and he can't? Don't.

Its especially a pain in the morning when I'm trying to eat my cereal and do something check my Facebook! We have a high top table and he'll actually climb right up my leg to reach my bowl. All the while he's proclaiming "That's Mama's cereal!" Yeah, it is. So back off, pal.

My husband and I used to cook together and then sit down and eat a nice meal while we talked about our day.

We still do this like 10 o'clock at night.

But the meal now takes place in front of the TV. And the conversation has been replaced by DVR'd episodes of 30 Rock and The Office. Occasionally we'll throw in a "Honey, did you feed the dogs?" Ya know, to keep the romance alive.

I used to think I was sneaky and smart...Carter has rid me of those ridiculous notions.

When he would ask me for a bite of something I would just give it to him thinking "Ha! There's no way he'll eat goat cheese and sun dried tomato pizza! He'll have one bite and then leave me alone!" I know you won't be shocked when I tell you he ate an entire slice.

When you become a parent you expect to learn new things. But speed eating is a surprising addition to my skill set.

When you have a screaming infant in the other room or a greedy toddler reaching for your plate you are eating for survival, not pleasure. Like, if I don't get this sandwich in my body in the next five seconds I may actually pass out...and then Carter will definitely get it and I don't want that to happen purely out of spite!

One morning Carter finished his Cheerios and asked for "A couple more?" When I told him they were all gone he gave me a dirty look and pointed at my bowl. So, like a good mother I had to...quickly finish my last spoon fulls and show him the empty bowl. See? All gone!

I'm sure a lot of mothers out there are appalled by the fact that I don't want to share with my child. Listen, I've given that kid enough. I let him live IN MY BODY for nine months. I actually think he owes ME a cookie or two!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Name That Sound!

When you have kids you sometimes have to make up little games to entertain yourself and keep yourself sane. I have one that I play pretty much hourly. Its called "Name That Sound!"

This is how its played:

You have a two year old stand in a room where you don't have a direct view of him. Then you wait. (Some of you may be waiting longer than others, but I'm Carter's mother so my waiting time is almost non-existent). When you hear a noise you time yourself to see how long it takes you to figure out what it was. I wish this would be made into a game show because I would clean up!

Now, this may sound simple to some of you. But do you think you could make out the sound of a knife and a cutting board being used as a drum set because your child is suddenly taller than you remember and can reach the counter?

I can now.

Or would your ears be able pick up the subtle difference between a tow truck and a dump truck as they are launched off the table? Yup, there IS a difference!

The sound of the snack cabinet opening is an easy one because it has its own signature squeak. But hearing that noise causes me to cease all activity and run to the kitchen. Clearly I forgot to close the latch and am about the pay the consequence.

This is the physical challenge.  It comes down to pure speed and agility as you are forced to leap over babies and maneuver around dogs.

I'm fast...Carter is faster.

By the time I get there he has undoubtedly eaten half a bag of cookies or dumped a box of crackers on the floor. This is the reason the dogs come running for that sound as well.

The newest edition of the game features the bonus round: "Things Found in the Fridge!"

Sounds in this round of play include everything from the pop of the ketchup bottle opening to the sound of a Tupperware container hitting the floor. Tupperware is especially exciting because it could contain almost ANYTHING! (Bonus points for guessing this one before the lid is opened.) 

Did you know that the sound of a gallon of milk being poured into a sour cream container is barely audible? That one was quite the challenge, let me tell you! 

Sometimes your kid even has time to get himself a spoon and eat an entire container of Duck Sauce before you realize what's happening. 
The Lightning Round features the single most terrifying sound in the known universe. A sound so frightening that it can make even the most veteran mom shake with fear...SILENCE!

He's in, he climbed up to the, he's...he's...Ah! There are so many choices!

Occasionally he really is just sitting quietly playing with some blocks, but this is a rare occurrence and not as much fun to guess. I get no points if this is the case.

Now, I know that many of you are jealous of my superiority when it comes to the game of "Name That Sound". Don't be. It's just that I have more practice.

If anyone would like to borrow my child so you can hone your skills just let me know. I'll be sitting by the phone...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Grocery Shopping

(This one has nothing to do with Carter but its on my mind...which currently isn't focused on something that Carter has done so please allow me this moment.) 

I am bad at food shopping.

When I got married I had no idea that this was a skill. I'm good at shopping, so what's the difference? Right? Wrong. Way, way wrong!

First of all, I have to admit that marketing executives have me in mind when they create an advertisement. Whether it's new, improved, scented, shiny, buy one get one, buy twelve get one half off...I have to have it. Mike now refuses to send me to the store alone. Or at least without a serious pep talk.

"Just get what's on the list."

I actually get nervous going on my own. I know I'll have six things on my list and end up spending $90 anyway. How does this happen?

I guess it's because I'm a "just-in-case" type of shopper. I know that I like to have certain things in the house, and if I'm not sure about their status in my pantry then I'll have to buy one. Just to be sure.

We've had situations where Mike assures me that we do, in fact, have hummus in the fridge. He just saw the container. He KNOWS it's in there. We leave the store hummus-less only to find that the container previously referenced holds some sort of crust which indicates it once contained hummus, but that's all. Who the hell puts that back in the fridge anyway?

SEE?! I may over spend but at least I have something to dip my crackers in at the end of the day!

No, I can do this! I'll show him that I can..oooh! Family Size!

"But we use this, so buying it on sale now will save us in the future. And yes I did NEED five of them! They don't go bad!"

This "over-shopping" habit runs in my family. We are constantly preparing for our future needs, as well as for the needs of anyone we have ever met in our lives ("Yes, I know that I PERSONALLY don't use contact solution...")

Fortunately, this gene isn't as strong in me as it is in some (you know who you are!)

I have an aunt who once bought ten bags of cat food because of the unbelievable price. And no, she doesn't have a cat. Nor does anyone within seven degrees of separation from her. But ya just never know. One day someone, somewhere may have a cat. And then she can whip out her cheap kitty chow and triumphantly tell us all what a savvy shopper she is!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Know what makes me really nervous?

When Carter walks up to me out of the blue and says "Sorry".

At that point I have to immediately go on a scavenger hunt around my house looking for damage. Sometimes I figure it out, but not always. Carter, however, is satisfied because he has made the first move and apologized. How big of him.

I think he feels like sorry is a catch all, and as long as you say it then all is well.

He also uses please and thank you in this way. For example, as long as he's said please then he should automatically get what he wants. Or its alright if he grabs a toy away from Grant, because he yelled thank you over his shoulder while running away from the scene.

Now we have sorry.

So he'll just admit to things he's done, even if I haven't caught him yet.

Like, he figures, if I'm already getting a time out I may as well come clean about some other stuff I've done too. Its good for the soul. Ya know, Carter, this is not like confession. You're not gonna just get one Hail Mary for admitting to nine different crimes against humanity.

Now when I release him from the step I'll ask him "Why were you in time out?" Most of the time it sounds like he's just guessing:

"Cause I throw a toy? Cause I pushed Grant? Cause I hit the dog?"

Realistically he's probably done all of these things, so I guess he's not technically wrong.

Once at the end of a time out I went over and asked him why he was in there. He said "Because I throw a garbage truck." So I said, "That's right. We don't throw things".

I let him out thinking, well at least he knows what he did wrong. As I walked away, however, I realized...that's not what he was in there for.

And sure enough I found that garbage truck in the middle of the living room.

That little bastard!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Worth It



Carter walks by me as I'm on my way to discover the source of the crying (even though I'm pretty sure I already know what happened) and as we pass in the kitchen he looks right at me and states matter-of-factly, "I pushed Grant." He continues on his way and sits himself down in time out.

And I just know he's thinking, "Do your worst, woman! I can do two minutes standing on my head and I enjoyed EVERY SECOND of pushing my brother!" (Insert image of smug, bratty child here.)

Opening the fridge, throwing his toys, taking down the gate, antagonizing the dogs...he thinks its all worth it!

During the commission of an offense he'll actually say to me "If you do that you'll get a time out."

Oh, soooo, you know that and yet you're still gonna go for it? Huh. Anything I can do to change your mind? No? Well, OK then.

Or sometimes I'll enter the room and survey the scene while he watches my every move. When I notice the gate is down he'll calmly hit me with the ever popular "What did I tell you about touching the gate!"

Guess I say that a lot, and just look at what a difference its making! Not only does he know exactly what he's not supposed to do, but he can also recite the full sentence from memory! He's so advanced.

Is this type of toddler pathology treatable? With something other than time out, that is.

Today I tried the old make the punishment fit the crime routine. He threw a puzzle, and I made him pick it up. Which meant he had to do the puzzle. So I basically forced him to play with his toys as a way to deter behavior. So, yeah....

Clearly time out is making a big impression on him. What an effective discipline tool! Thank you, Supernanny!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How Did You Get Into That!

Two year olds get into everything.

In fact, the CIA should hire toddlers as professional safe crackers. It would probably be really good for the national budget if we could pay our operatives in animal crackers and apple juice.

And contrary to what the manufacturers would have you believe, baby proofing paraphernalia does not make things as "baby proof" as one might like.

The words "baby proof" are an oxymoron.  It's like Santa for new parents.  They should say...

"Ok, new moms and dads!  Here are your baby proofing items! If you're really good parents your kids will never figure these out!"

Eventually you grow up and realize you were sold a load of crap.

Carter has figured out the trick to just about every latch, chain, knob or gate that we have installed in an effort to keep him safe...

OK, lets be honest, I installed these things more in an effort to not have my house ransacked on a daily basis.

Either way, neither objective is currently being reached.

When your child is on the move you have to secure places that you never even considered would be appealing to anyone.

What so great about the toilet?


The whole bathroom is one giant nightmare. When they get their grubby little paws on the toilet paper and unroll it...I actually can't even talk about it because I'm getting upset imagining myself re-rolling miles of TP.

Some things I'm OK screwing latches into. My $500 wine rack/bar? Not one of them.

The result of this decision is that I'll find Carter wandering around the house holding a deck of cards and a nip of scotch. Like he's a sixty year old man looking for a snifter and a good game of canasta.

The good news is that Grant probably can't do too much to surprise when he gets to this stage. Although I'm sure he'll try.

I can just see it now, the two of them sharing war stories...

"God Grant! What do you mean you only unrolled the toilet paper? In my day I used to take the entire roll and drop it right in the toilet. You heard me...RIGHT IN! And big deal you got into the Cheerios and ate a bunch. Did you dump the rest of the bag on the floor then and walk through them, tracking the dust around the house?  Didn't think so.  Dude, you're an amature."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Losing the Crib =(

We recently went to Carter's two year Dr's. appointment and everything seemed to be going well. He's growing appropriately, eating well, sleeping great. Model toddler, I mean, on paper at least.

Then from out of nowhere the doctor drops the bomb. The triple "B" bomb..."You need to chang him over to a Big Boy Bed."  I immediately lunged across the table, put him in a choke hold and said "Take it back!"

Ok, no I didn't, but I really wanted to.

Instead I cried out "WHY"! Why would a parent willingly dispose of the one place where you can put your toddler, walk away, and be fairly certain they'll still be there when you come back. You don't see farmers just opening up the gates and saying "Go ahead, animals, roam as you will!"

I would keep him in there till his 18th birthday if I could figure out the logistics of that. I'm certain this is a bad idea.

I just reeeeeeallly like it when Carter is contained. In fact, I sometimes take walks with them in the stroller just because its a way I can restrain Carter without being arrested for it.

Every weekend my husband and I talk about making the switch. And every weekend we come up with a new excuse not to. We're going out and we don't want a babysitter to have to deal with it...he's not feeling well...its too hot...its too cold...Jupiter is in the seventh sun and Venus is on the rise, sooo, we better not do it this weekend.

The doctor told me that he would eventually climb out. No, nope, not my kid. My kid will not....BOOM! 
If you've never heard the sound of a 30 pound two-year-old hitting the floor, that was it.


We're changing him over tonight...stay tuned.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Carter's Songs

Carter has very specific...and very diverse...tastes in music.

First and foremost are the damn Wiggles. He LOVES them. I've actually considered just letting the Wiggles raise him. He may well turn out to be a flamboyant, singing and dancing Australian who wears tight, brightly colored shirts, but that's a chance I would be willing to take.

Second on the list is any country song that mentions a tractor. And, um, there are a lot of them. Doesn't just have to be in the song title either, someone in the studio could have whispered the word tractor during the taping of the song and Carter would know it.

Lastly, he has developed a taste for hip hop music.

His first real song obsession, with the song "Replay" by IYAZ, emerged at about 18 months. He heard it in the car one day and that was that. He would walk up to my ipod docking station, point to it and scream "Na, na, na everyday!" (For anyone who hasn't heard the song please look it up on YouTube or something so you can fully appreciate this next story).

So we're in music class...many of my stories seem to take place here...and the teacher has an ipod playing cute little kid songs. Carter walks up to it and points...and I know what is coming. Sure enough he starts the screaming.

The teacher asks me what song he wants to hear, ya know, cause maybe she has it. Doubt it. I should have lied and said he really liked the hokey poky or something. Instead I tell her the song...which she then asks me to sing for her.

"Ah...well...its like 'Shorty's like a melody in my head..." So there I am, in a class full of conservative, stay at home moms and I'm basically rapping for them. Thank you, Carter.

I need to get a Disney CD.