Friday, October 28, 2011

Step into my lunch

Today was a pretty typical lunchtime with both kids at home.  Lottie wanted soup and Dallas requested a hot dog.  Easy enough, right?  Ha.

As soon as Lottie saw her soup, she complained that she had asked for vegetable beef soup, not chicken noodle soup.  Dallas then clamored for chicken noodle soup as well, but he can't have it because the noodles are made with eggs.  I split time trying to tell Lottie that the soup was more than acceptable AND that she hadn't actually requested vegetable beef soup, and then I had to explain the whole egg-noodle thing to Dallas.  That didn't go so well.  He was still smarting from the fact that I had had the audacity to run out of strawberry jelly in the morning, so he couldn't have more toast.  Bad move, Mommy.  

Lottie grudgingly ate a teeny bit of the soup and Dallas devoured his hot dog.  I made myself a pb&j sandwich, only to have Lottie longingly gaze at it like it was a cool drink of water in the desert.  I sighed and gave her my sandwich.  I got up to make another one for myself, but Dallas interrupted my task by asking where was lunch: spaghetti and meatballs.  Um, huh?  When I made that, at Dallas's request, for dinner last night, he threw a fit and said spaghetti was slimy like a snake.  Oooookay....

There are microwave packets of pasta made by Allergaroo that don't contain any of the eight major food allergens: dairy, egg, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts.  I always have quite a few of those on hand, so I popped one of those in the microwave for Dallas.  While I waited for that to heat, Lottie expressed a need to eat some peanut butter and jelly crackers.  I made those, cut up Dallas's spaghetti, and delivered the food to the table.  Then both kids needed more to drink, so back to the kitchen I went.  I returned the cups of water to the kidlets and tucked a paper towel in Dallas's shirt to try to keep the spaghetti off of him.  Mr. Persnickety hates being dirty.   By the time I walked around the table and sat down at my seat to start my lunch, Dallas had ripped off the paper towel claiming that it hurt him.  I shrugged and bit into my sandwich.  Before I could swallow that first bite, Dallas held up his hands to show me the spaghetti sauce on them and demanded another paper towel...a fresh paper towel.  Sigh.  The new paper towel was tucked in just in time for Dallas to tell me that he wanted more spaghetti.  He had sucked up every last bite in about ninety seconds.  I made him more spaghetti, ran upstairs to get a new shirt because - gasp! - there was a speck of spaghetti sauce on it, came back downstairs, put the new shirt on Dallas, tucked the paper towel back in, and finally sat down to eat.  

Throughout all of the up and down, there was a constant flow of chatter.  Those kids talked and talked and talked.  They didn't even really talk to each other, though; they talked OVER each other about completely different topics.  Lottie talked about Halloween, and Dallas talked about his friend the pirate.  So much talking.  Ooodles of words.  Lots of bold, weird statements.  It's enough to make anyone's head spin.   Or wish for a Xanax prescription.  But I know there is a day in the not-too-distant future when I'll be sitting alone at the dining room table in a quiet house while both kids are in school.  I'm sure I'll enjoy the first few minutes of eating my own lunch without having to jump up and get a napkin or water or more chicken nuggets; however, I also know I'll miss their sweet faces and their laughter.  So I think I'll enjoy the insanity while I can.  

(**The kids have paint on their faces, by the way.  Dallas does NOT have a black eye.  Just wanted to clarify.  No need to call Child Services.  Thanks.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Try a little tenderness

I usually avoid the news.  It's too depressing, and I tend to internalize all of the sadness.  I like happy news and uplifting stories; who doesn't?

As much as I hate the news, I know that I have to stay somewhat current and know what's happening in the world.  In the last week, I have read about a school shooting in North Carolina, the earthquake in Turkey, a horrific attack on a gay man in Scotland, the death of Gaddafi, and wild animals running loose in Ohio.  None of that makes me want to explore the world any further; it makes me want to just stay in my house with my family and cover my head up with a soft, cozy blanket.

And the news doesn't really end on CNN or MSNBC.  I see things in my every day life that make me sad.  Some things are little like people running red lights or litter all over the streets.  I don't watch too many commercials, but the political attack ads have already begun.  I witnessed a man start a fight with his significant other in a Burger King, and he cursed at her in front of their three children.  I mean, really? REALLY?

Here's what I want: I want kindness, compassion, love, and sympathy.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know.  The world is a big, cold, ugly place and there's no room for fuzzy bunnies, flowers in our hair, and folk songs around the campfire.  But what if there is room for all of that and more?  Would it really be so hard to be kind to one another?  It wouldn't be.  Because along with all of the hate and violence, there is so much good in the world, too.

I've seen the good, so I know it's there.  I'd like to see more of it, though.  More stories about happiness and joy and forgiveness and hope.  I'm not normally a Pollyanna kind of gal, just ask Trevor.  However, I've had enough of the gloom and doom.  Let's focus on the positive, the gentle, the sweet, the loving, the kind, the beautiful, and the good in the world.  I work hard to show my children those qualities every day, and if I can do it, so can the rest of the world.

End of rant.  Have a lovely day.  :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A ghost, a skeleton, and Dallas walk into a Halloween party...

It's hard being the second kid sometimes.  As parents, we know what crazy things the second kid will try based on what the first kid has done...if the first kid got caught.  Second kids get the hand-me-down clothes, the unfinished baby books and photograph albums, and comparisons to the older sibling.  As much as I try not to compare Lottie and Dallas, it happens.  I'm only human.

Dallas is now in a phase that Lottie never really went through: the imaginary friend phase.  Dallas's imaginary friends aren't the normal, run-of-the-mill friends, though.  No, not for my boy.  Dallas's imaginary friends are a skeleton and a ghost, and quite often, they all spend time together at a Halloween party or a Halloween store.

A few weeks ago, we took Lottie and Dallas to the local Halloween Express just to look at the costumes and decorations.  Dallas made it approximately eight seconds in the store before losing his mind.  I should have known not to even bother having him go inside when he started to quake at the inflated black cat at the entrance.  He was pretty hysterical, so I took him outside with me.  We couldn't even sit on the steps leading to the store, though, because the cat was looming over us.  We sat in the car and listened to "Wheels on the Bus" ad nauseum until Lottie and Trevor emerged from the store, totally unscathed.  Ever since then, Dallas has had a love-hate relationship with anything scary or Halloween-related.  He loves to read Halloween books from the library, but he can't stand the thought of watching any Disney movie with a villain.  (So, that basically leaves...nothing.) He constantly wants to talk about Halloween decorations, but when it comes to seeing them, he's still unsure.  And now we have the new pals, the ghost and the skeleton.  These imaginary friends don't hang out with us on a daily basis; I mean, I don't have to set a place at the dinner table for them or anything.  But in a sense, they're always with us.  Dallas is usually pretty precise with his words, but when it comes to the ghost and the skeleton, he tends to ramble.  He talks about them on the swings, at school, in the bathtub, during snack time, in his bed, in the get  the picture.  Often, the stories involve things he and his pals have done at a Halloween party or things they have seen at a Halloween store.  And it's not just any party or store: Dallas always throws the party and he also owns the store.

Sometimes the skeleton brings cookies to Dallas's Halloween party.  Once, the ghost pushed the skeleton into the water at Dallas's party, and Dallas had to save the ghost.  Then the skeleton got a time-out.  I wonder where this party is taking place?  The YMCA?  Lake Cumberland?  California?  And who administers the time-outs?  'Cause I know I'm not invited to these shindigs.  The ghost seems to always be the victim of the skeleton's pranks; the skeleton has also been known to spit, hit, push, and kick other people.  The worst of all of skeleton's traits, though, is his lack of sense of humor.  Dallas often laments, "Only the skeleton doesn't know any good jokes."

I did a little research on the Internet about imaginary friends.  Apparently, doctors used to think that kids who had imaginary friends were lacking something in their real lives: not enough friends or time with other children.  The current perspective, though, is that kids who make up playmates tend to have better verbal skills and social understanding than kids who choose not to create friends.  It also tends to be associated with strong creativity later in life.  Imaginary friends are no longer considered a "red flag." Whew.  My kid's not a freak; well, at least, not for that reason.  ;)

Overall, I don't mind the skeleton and the ghost.  In fact, I sort of like them.  It's fascinating to hear the stories, and I'm glad that Dallas is included in the adventures.  We've had some rough roads recently with Dallas's food allergies and him feeling left out at school; any form of inclusion he can get is pretty wonderful in my book, even if it's all in his mind.  Because, after all, to quote Albus Dumbledore, "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it isn't real?"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Raising golden gods

I'd love for you to visit Danielle Elwood's blog today to read about my adventures in raising rock stars kids.  :)  Thank you so much to Danielle for letting me guest blog on her site!

And extra props to anyone who knows where I got the essay's title!  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why I do it

I'm at home with a sick little boy.

I kept Dallas home from school Monday.  He was really tired and whiny in the morning with a slight fever, and I didn't figure he would end up being any good in a classroom.  He also wasn't interested in eating, and that rarely happens.  He stayed with me, and we did a lot of snuggling.  All day, he just wanted to be held.  He slept a little over 13 hours Monday night, and I thought that might be the end of whatever crud had started.  Silly me.

Tuesday morning, he seemed much better.  His eyes weren't glassy, he wasn't as feverish, and his mood was overall improved.  I took him to school, and everything seemed okay when I dropped him off.  Fast forward to 10:30 when my phone rang.  One of his teachers called to say that he was having a hard morning.  He was not himself at all: sad, whiny, and unable to pull it all together.  She said he was calm at that moment, but she would keep me updated on his progress.  I got my shoes on, found my keys and my purse, and in less than 5 minutes, his teacher called again to say that maybe it was time for me to come get him.  I arrived a few minutes later with worry starting to build in my chest.  As soon as I saw his face, I knew something was wrong.  He was sobbing, and he flung himself right into my waiting arms.  He buried his hot head in my shoulder and whispered, "I didn't know where you were."  Ouch.  He apparently told his teachers in the midst of his breakdown that he needed his mommy.

He needed me.  He didn't just want to see me for a moment of comfort; he needed me.  And it hit me at that moment that this is why I do what I do.  I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I do it because my kids need me.  My little boy was sick, and he needed his mommy.  When I took him to the doctor after I picked him up from school, it was confirmed that he has croup.  He rarely complains about not feeling well, so I had no idea that he was that sick.  I must have missed the signs during the morning rush to get bags packed, shoes on, and sweatshirts zipped.  It's no wonder that he was so sad, and it broke my heart to think that he felt abandoned at school Tuesday morning.

The steroid shot worked its magic overnight.  Dallas isn't completely back to normal, but he has had a big turnaround from Monday.  His voice is still hoarse and scratchy; it's sort of like living with a mini-Vito Corleone.  But instead of calling for Luca Brasi to sleep with the fishes, he's calling for another granola bar or a hug.  He is laughing again, smiling again, and even arguing with me again.  He's working his way back.

Don't get me wrong: there are definitely days that I wish I were the one going to work and leaving the clean-up, the snacks, the fights, and the tedium all behind.  But I can't.  It's not in my nature to be away from the ones I love more than I have to be.  I know myself, and I couldn't be a good mom AND a good teacher.  Someone would always be getting my best while someone else would only get the leftovers.  My decision to stay at home is what works best for our family, and it may not work as well for other parents, other families.  It's definitely not a judgement or condemnation of parents who have to work or choose to work.  I admire the fact that those parents manage a career and a family.  But I'm beyond grateful that I was able to be there to wipe away Dallas's tears, hold his hand to reassure him during the steroid shot, and feel his ragged breath as he lay on the couch with me.  I stroked his soft hair and whispered, "Everything's okay now.  Mommy's here."  Because that's my job: I'm the Mommy.

If you want to read more about mother's views on careers and families, click here or here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A birth story

I would love for y'all to hop over to Living on Love and check out my guest post today. Lacy Stroessner is celebrating October, her daughter's birth month, by inviting people to blog about their children's birth. Thanks so much to Lacy for giving me this great opportunity!!!

                                                        Miss Lottie on her birth-day!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"The Science of a Working Mother"

I have been slowly reading my way through Welcome to My World because I don't want to miss one word of any of the incredible essays.  There are pieces from working moms, stay-at-home moms, and moms who work from home.  As a SAHM, I don't know how the moms who work do it.  There are so many schedules to juggle, so many balls to keep in the air.  I have a hard enough time keeping everything functional chez Wells, and I'm at home all day.

"The Science of a Working Mother" by Amber Doty has prompted some serious self-reflection.  In her essay, Amber writes about her decision to be a working mom and how others assume she has to work.

"The raw truth of the matter is I want to work.  I want to work because just being a mother is not enough for me."

I think it's incredibly brave to admit that being a mother is simply not enough sometimes.  There isn't anything wrong with being a mom and staying at home, but for some, it may not be enough.  If staying at home is making a mother miserable, it may not be the best choice for that family.  Being a mom who leaves the house to work isn't always easy, though.

"...I have moments when leaving my children so I can go to work feels like an egregious crime against motherhood."

Amber writes in "The Science of a Working Mother" about the time when her son told her he hated her.  He wanted to stay home with her that morning, as he had wanted to in the past, but she was trying to get him dressed and out of the house so she could get to a meeting on time.  Harsh words to hear from your little boy, but she isn't the only one who has heard those words.  My own kids have never said they hated me, but they have said they didn't like me or they wanted a new mother.  Those words were said in fits of pique because teeth needed to be brushed or a request for a treat was denied.  I think it's a rite of passage for kids to want new parents at some point or another or to think they hate their parents.  What they don't know at the time is that (most) parental decisions are made out of everlasting, indestructible love.  And what we teach our children when they're young are lessons that last a lifetime. They watch what we do, and they hear what we say, even when we think they're not paying attention.

"It is my hope that one day my children, particularly my two year old daughter, will view my decision to work, to pursue a dream conceived long before they were, as an inspiration , as proof that you really can have it all.  I hope that they will view parenthood as an experience that is life-enriching, not life-limiting."

Isn't that what it's all about, after all?  Our job as parents is to teach our children so that they can eventually grow up and be productive adults, parents or not.  We need to show them how to live fulfilling lives that they can share with others.  Learning about kindness and acceptance will take them a long way.  No matter if we're working outside the home, working from home, or staying at home, we are all doing the best we can with what we have.  We ALL love our children and give them our best, no matter how stunning or lacking our best is, every single day.

Reading Amber's essay made me realize that we all need to support each other.  People make different choices, and different doesn't necessarily mean wrong.  Being a parent is hard enough without being condemned by others.  We all make the choices we think are best for our family.  Everybody has a story; maybe we all need to be listening to what is in each other's hearts instead of judging each other's actions.

If you'd like to read all of "The Science of a Working Mother" by Amber Doty, click here or here.  You should also hop over to The Daily Doty and Kid Scoop at to see more of Amber's writing.  Trust me: it's worth the trip.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Things overheard

I keep a list of random quotes from my kids.  I'm not even sure I know the context of all of them, but that tends to make the quotes even funnier.

Dallas: "One time, I fighted with a skeleton at a Halloween party.  But he didn't know any good jokes."  Cuz, you know.  Skeletons are known for their raucous humor.  

Lottie: "Don't forget to floss!"  This gentle reminder was given after good night hugs and kisses.

Dallas: "I love sugar." This after a bag of Skittles.

Lottie: "Dallas, my plan finally worked!"  (Silence.)  "Now I have to tell you what my plan was."  Lottie said this to Dallas as they walked up the stairs.  I never heard what the plan was.  I'm sure it was an evil plot to get to watch TV or eat ice cream.

Lottie: "Mommy, do people buy cars?  How do they carry them?"  Lottie asked me this after a trip to Kroger where she helped me carry the groceries.  Apparently she was concerned about how she was going to haul around her pink Trans-Am in the future.

Dallas: "You are the best mommy I ever had."  I'm really happy that I compare favorably to the host of other mommies he has had in the last three years.