Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beauty Is Truth

I love our nightly routine. Seriously, never EVER expected to say those words, because Life Before Mommyhood was anything BUT routine, and I swooooooooore I'd never "succumb" to a Groundhog-Day kind of life.

But really, I love it.

I love watching Monkey wind down for the night and the tell-tale sparkle in her eyes that lets us know night-night is near. I love seeing the comfort she takes in knowing these same steps are going to happen, this same way, and she therefore knows what to expect. I love that we are providing her with that sense of security and safety.

...I *especially* love how she gets both brutally honest and whackadoodle-goofy when she's tired.

So, the other night... Daddy had her headed to her potty chair. She was standing on the bath mat,struggling with her pull-up because she was at the level of near-sleep which involves the loss of some motor skills.

She had this funny grin, like she was thinking something amazingly funny but was keeping it to herself.

So, Daddy asked her why she was smiling like that.

Her response?

                "I'm smiling because I like your FACE!"

We like yours too, Sleep-Drunk Monkey. LOL

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Toddler FTW

I got my hair cut yesterday after work. Actually, I had my hair cut FIXED yesterday after work... the initial cut was courtesy of a spur-of-the-moment decision to go drastically short on a randomly ridiculous 89+ degree day.

Public Service Announcement: Miscommunications with one's stylist can end in catastrophe. Just sayin'.

My hair is wavy. Not curly, not straight-- WAVY. Which means one must use extreme caution when cutting and/or styling it, as there is great potential of looking like Nick Nolte's mugshot.

There was grave miscommunication with my last haircut. Having lived with the crazy outcome for a month, I finally became fed up enough to go rectify the situation. So now, it's even *shorter* but at least I no longer look like I should be chanting SKATE OR DIE! SKATE OR DIE!

So, anyway, I officially have "Mom hair" now. But, whatever. It still really is an improvement, sad to say.

Due to the coiff carnage, I had to change my shirt immediately upon arriving home. I hate, hate, HATE the feel of those little floaty post-cut hair bits sticking to my neck. Muy itcharino.

Monkey and her dad were just sitting down to dinner (her second dinner, since she eats at GOG's house too) when I came into the kitchen sporting a "chill-out" shirt.

This usually means a concert t-shirt, because between Daddy and Mommy there are at least 1,597 concert t-shirts at our house. (All but 5 of those are black, BTW. )

Monkey greets me with, "Oooh! I WIKE your shirt, Mommy. What is that?" <points to the symbol on the front>

I cheerily replied, "Thanks, honey. That picture is a symbol for a band called Bon Jovi."

She grins and dives into her food.

Sitting down, I try to seize the opportunity to expand the conversation by asking: "Can you say BON JOVI, Monk?"

Her reply:

"No. I don't like to say bad words."

Daddy choked on his dinner. Jerk.

<le sigh.>

Toddler FTW. :(

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Timing Is Everything

So, we're working on the potty-training dealio. Monkey's OK with the general concept, but still not at 100% of implementation. She's a work in progress.

The past couple weeks, she has been spending her days in big-girl panties. Our Gift-of-God babysitter supreme takes care of her own 5-year-old son, 5-year-old nephew, and 2-year-old niece (Monkey's BFF) in addition to Monk.

We'd started at home, (slowly) introducing Monk to the potty concept once she turned 18 months. I didn't want to rush her and plus, it took a little time for her to be able to climb up on her potty chair unassisted. I kinda figured taking a face-plant tumble onto the bathroom floor would not boost Monkey's enthusiasm for using the toilet.

So we started slowly. But, now that her BFF is raring to go (literally, ha ha!), both girls are sporting licensed characters on their girlie parts and generally no pants, since as anyone who has attempted potty training can tell you: time is of the essence.

There's often little to no warning. Pants are a hindrance to getting there in time.

But yesterday, she was doing sooooooooo well. She even had *pants* on OVER her Dora undies. Good timing, good progress = go, Monk, go!

Apparently, MY timing was perfect yesterday too:

I got there about a minute after Monkey let loose a flood that would make a clydesdale proud.

And, uh, NOT on the potty chair. Dang.

There's a window on the front of Gift-of-God's (can I just call her GOG? I dig that) house that looks into (or out of, if you prefer) the family room where most of play time happens.

I peeked in to wave and saw Monkey (in a diaper) making a hugely exaggerated frowny face and GOG maneuvering stuff into a plastic bag.

So I head inside, and am greeted with:

"MOMMA!! I *PEED* all over da pwace."

I sighed and asked how bad the damage was...

GOG: "Down to the socks. Actually... IN the socks. They're, uh, in the bag."

Monkey: <grinning ear to ear> "Yeah. I peed in my socks!"


Sometimes, Laundry Night just announces itself, huh?

Monday, May 23, 2011


Things have been a little rough for me. I'm still adjusting to my diagnosis and the unexpected ways this stupid lymphedema impacts daily life. It seems silly sometimes, but even in the silliness there is validity in the struggles that come up...

For instance, when we get a chance to meet the neighbors down the street, and the mom is one of those effortlessly elegant women who look incredibly chic without seemingly any thought put into it. And, noticing she's hanging out in pretty jewelled sandals with a perfect summer pedicure.

She was really nice, and I'm glad we talked and our kids get along. But it was hard for me, too.

See, I can't get pedicures any more, unless it's from somewhere licensed to work on diabetics. I'm NOT diabetic, but my feet kind of are.

And, I have to wear these thick compression garments on both legs to keep the swelling in check, and make sure the excess protein from the lymph fluid does not cause structural changes in my feet. Because those changes in the tissue, should I get a scrape or a bug bite, could send me to ICU within hours. Infection is an ever-present threat.

Thus, sandals are not an option now. That sucks a whole lot. It's silly vanity and yet, it's not. Just something that 99% of people take for granted, and it feels like it's in my FACE and it's no one's issue but mine, and holy crapola does it lay me low sometimes.

I really hate that I don't get to look like other moms, or dress like them, or even hang out in the early evening in the yard with the kids because mosquitoes adore me and I get ginormous infected hives on my legs. Which tend to lead to rashes that don't heal for months. And, you know, back in the hospital and riding the antibiotic train. Fun.

I HATE that this reality impacts my child because of the way I feel about myself. I HATE that, and I am trying so hard to work past it.

I wear the garments because I know that doing so helps keep me safer, and HERE for my daughter. But, seriously? I hate it. Everything about it. It's hot and ugly and itchy and time-consuming and embarrassing and most of all, devastating to my sense of protecting my vulnerabilities to have such an outwardly VISIBLE issue.

People can look at my legs and *see* there's something wrong with me.

That is what I hate most of all: that I can't hide it completely. I don't show people what makes me vulnerable. You don't see Superman handing out Kryptonite, do you?

One of the most amazing blessings of motherhood, or I should say, to being the mother of the most amazing child I've ever known, is seeing that Monkey doesn't give a rat's patootie about my legs.

She just loves me. 'Cuz, I'm her mommy.

And when she tells me things like, "I love you more than the pink toothbrush AND the blue toothbrush," I melt completely.

She's saying that her most valued possessions don't hold a candle to Mommy, and that is awe-inspiring love.

This weekend, she told me I'm "da best maker in da world!"
   I had to think about that one... maker...maker of...what?? (had to just ask her)

 My beautiful child looked at me like I was an idiot and replied, "Maker of DA FOOD!!"

<I made a batch of homemade "Momma Fries" this weekend. Truly, a standout success in my kitchen repertoire.>

She might never fully realize what her love means to me. But I hope she does know, somehow.

I hope she knows that her sleepy head on my shoulder, with her arms around my neck and feet dangling (so much lower than they used to go-- good LORD, she's growing!)... with her not-so-whispered "I love you, Mommy," is the equivalent of about 10 shots of Valium to this over-worked, stressed-out working mom.

I hope she hears in her laughter the absolute MUSIC that I do. And that it is, by far, my all-time-favorite song.

I hope she also sees that there is no calling on earth more honorable or super-hero-iffic than being her Mommy.

I hope she knows that her faith in me makes me want to be a better person.
Because she deserves a mom who completely rocks and I want to do that for her.

...Even if she *does* lick my glasses because she thought they were "sad they didn't get a kiss."

Nothing I have ever seen or felt can compare to the love and gratitude I have for my little girl.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Travelling: Not for Wimps! (Pt. 3)

You'd think I'd move on from this subject already. Well, you'd be wrong.

One of the other hallmarks of our trips to see Grandma and Grandpa in Wisconsin is the group photo. Grandpa is a really talented phtographer. He used to have a darkroom to process B&W, and has taken some truly amazing portraits of the family over the years. My favorite is one of Monkey's dad as an overalls-clad kid, sitting on leaves on a fall day. I've always loved B&W pictures because of their focus on the emotions of the subjects. I digress.

Anyhoo, we seem to have established a tradition of Grandpa taking a family photo with each visit. I love the concept, but historically these photo sessions have had some issues.

The picture-taking often get pushed back during the visit, to the point that if it's gonna happen before we leave, it ends up being after we've spent 3 hours loading the van and the kids are running around like meth addicts because they know there's a 4-hour car ride in their immediate future.

Then there was one glorious incident when a then-teething, infant Monkey spontaneously projectile vomited all over herself and me, about 42 seconds before the photo was to take place. We had a change of clothes for HER in the diaper bag... sadly, *my* clothes were in my suitcase.

In the van.
Under the 9 tons of crap we just spent 3 hours loading.

(That trip also included an emergency stop at a gas station bathroom. On a holiday weekend. In 90+ degree heat. Because teething babies POOP LIKE FIREHOSES and no way, no how, were we staying in the car with *that* little present.)

I digress again. Whoops.

So, given the history of photo sessions not quite working as planned, I tried to alter the pace. This time, I suggested we do the picture BEFORE loading the van, with hopes I wouldn't be a sweaty, crazy-haired mess yet again, captured for all posterity in my frenzied glory.

And also, in case of any explosive bodily emissions, we still had easy access to the suitcases.

(Momma learns from her mistakes, folks.)

It also seemed fortunate that we had the girls dressed all cute for church that morning, revisiting their Easter outfits for the sake of oohs and aahs in grandparent-land. I was actually thinking I had this one IN THE BAG, man...

Until we got home from church and once again the kid scattered like meth addicts. I swear, they must SMELL the camera coming or something.

In the time it took to get the camera, tripod, and location set up the older child had already changed into a t-shirt and leggings and managed to do something truly spectacular to what was a good hair day.

Monkey then protested because her sister wasn't still dressed up. Madonna Mia!

We somehow got everyone corralled, and tried to take the photo... Of everyone looking into the sun. Posterity would surely think this was one squinty bunch.

So we shifted the set-up which of course takes another, I don't know, HOUR to get the kids looking in the right place. At the same time. Ha HA HAHAHA. Where's the Tylenol?

Note: it's much easier to take a family photo when at least one member of the family CANNOT WANDER OFF YET. I'm just sayin'.

We got a few "close enough" pictures and scattered to chase suitcases and snuggly blankies and all the other 9 tons of crap that must go with us wherever we go. There were at least two bags* that were "just in case" that were never even opened.

*Those bags were NOT brought by me!

We had pushed back Monkey's afternoon nap in hopes that she would just zonk for the whole car ride home. However, the photo session ran longer than planned. We still had to load all 9 tons o'crap.

I went to change her diaper and outfit for more comfortable car seat travels. By then, we were nearly at the END of her normal nap time... and she was still awake. Sorta.

One of her more endearing qualities is that Monkey makes it really easy to tell when she needs to sleep.  Often, she will just say, "I need to go crib" or "I'm tired" and that takes the guesswork out of it. But even when she doesn't say it...it is remarkably easy to see when her brain has just ceased to function.

The lights are on, but no one's home, and she says and does some truly funny stuff. She also apparently loses her bone structure and just kinda...flops and falls for no apparent reason.

We use several expressions to point out this stage of nap-readiness:

"Say goodnight, Gracie," is a favorite because she will usually reply, "Goodnight, Gracie."

Another: "Monk can't take your call right now, but please leave a message..."

A more recent addition to the repertoire was repeated back to me, in her own unique style...

Getting her changed was a challenge, because she was squirming all crazy and flopping around. I remarked (sort of to myself) that we REALLY needed to get in the van so she could nap.

She asked why (of course!).

Mom: "Because, honey, you have now ceased all semblance of rational thought. You need your nap."

Monkey: <with a big grin> "Yep... I LEAVE DA BUILDING!!!"

Without missing a beat, I replied:

"Yes, honey. You have certainly LEFT THE BUILDING."

She was snoring before we even finished filling the gas tank.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Travelling: Not for Wimps! (Pt. 2)

Of COURSE there's a part two, silly rabbit. ;)

We are truly blessed that not only do the kids have both sets of grandparents, but they also--both sets!-- live near some pretty cool kid-type stuff. Mine are in Florida: Home O'Da Mouse, and his are just outside the Wisconsin Dells: Home O'Lotsa Cool Stuff.

Now that Monkey is a little bigger, we can take advantage of more of the Dells attractions. This trip, we had dinner in the Train Room at Buffalo Phil's (where your food is served via model trains running alongside the tables). That was pretty nifty, even if the bubble machine they sent out did give Monkey's dad a soapy head massage.

...Come to think of it, that was REALLY nifty. <evil snorty laugh>

And, it's a good thing we stuck a diaper on Le Monk, because she actually DID pee her pants laughing. It was also pretty stinkin' cute to watch her absolute awe at the girls in their prom dresses headed through the game area.

Monkey (in a hushed, reverent tone): "Wook, Mama... <small gasp>... PWINCESSES!"

Note: That would've been cuter had said "pwincesses" not hogged the ONE handicap-equipped bathroom stall, while I waited anxiously with a pee-pee-dancing toddler to get into a stall big enough that I wouldn't risk knocking her into the potty. Thankfully, one of the group saw my plight and shepherded her friends out of the way to let the little kid make it on time.

We then took FULL advantage of the indoor amusement park. Monkey's over 36 inches tall now, thus-- ta DAA!! authorized to go on the kiddy rides. Her big sis is over 48 inches and can ride on pretty much anything now...a difficult concept to explain to Little Miss "I-wanna-go-TOO," but we worked it out.

The highlight was the train roller coaster. I think Daddy was more psyched than the kids, because he is hoping to groom them into champion coaster-riders. He's a big fan. With my medical issues, that stuff can be uncomfortable/dangerous, so it'll work out well if the girls want to do all the crazy rides with him. I can just hold the stuff and have me a frosty, cool beverage; I am totally cool with that. Taking one for the team. That's me. Where's the frozen lemonade stand? :)

So, they went on the coaster, Big Sis in her own spot and Daddy next to Monkey. It was hard to tell during the ride what Monk thought of the experience, but Daddy sure seemed to like it.

They came off the ride, and apparently something in her little toddler brain got a little scrambled.

She was just repeating "Eeeeee!!" and staring blankly.

Ever the alarmed mama, I of course panicked and asked if she'd hit her head, or slipped, or basically-- WTH?!

...Daddy let out a big belly laugh and said she'd been doing that throughout the whole ride.

She was so excited her neurons just kinda quit working.

Unmitigated GLEE in someone so little is apparently a physical event. She lost her vocabulary for a bit and just kept prancing around on her toes, going, "Eeeeeee!!!"

They rode that coaster like, four more times.

She did that after each ride.

She's a total wildcat.

Looks like Daddy's got a coaster buddy.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Best-Laid Plans...

Discussing Monkey's incredible comedic timing yesterday, her dad and I were trying to figure out if she is more likely to become a stand-up comedienne or a comedic actress. I voted "actress" because stand-up comics tend to have hard, sad personal lives and I hope she'd have an easier time than that.

So, I'm thinking along the lines of Gilda Radner, Madeline Kahn... if she wants to be more mainstream, maybe a Sandra Bullock-type road. She DOES have an Oscar now, and that doesn't suck.

Either way, Daddy and Mommy agreed that Monkey needs to get famous and take good care of her loving parents.

I leaned over to her and said: "Yeah... Mommy wants to retire. What are you going to do for me?

Without missing a beat (as per her trademark, incredible timing), she replied:

"I'm gonna say POOP!"

Um, I may have spit some food across the table... just sayin'.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Travelling: Not for Wimps! (Pt. 1)

We took a trip to visit Monkey's grandparents the weekend after Easter (since we had multiple committments at home for Easter). The "driving grandparents" live about four hours from us, just outside the Wisconsin Dells. My parents (the "airplane grandparents") live in Florida. I am only insane enough to drive to Wisconsin (must FLY to FL), and even then we only do it a few times a year.

Travelling with a 2 1/2 year old and 6 1/2 year old is an interesting concept. Monkey is in the midst of potty-training. Add in that one of the adults either falls asleep or gets randomly carsick (that'd be me- on both counts) and it's a fun time for all.

I was supposed to try to leave work early on Friday to hasten our departure. Um, yeah. About that...

So I actually wound up staying LATE which was uncool. Luckily the unavoidability of my tardiness was taken in stride and traffic wasn't as ugly as we'd expected.

We did, however, eat dinner on the road at the most ridiculously inept Wendy's I have ever experienced. They forgot half our food, messed up the other half, and apparently don't know that a sour-cream-potato should come with sour cream. And, maybe, a fork. I guess I was supposed to just grab it like a savage and chow down on plain potato? Um, not my style.

With the delays we wound up getting to their house pretty late, certainly after the kids' bedtime. Not that that mattered, because the arrival at the Magical Land of Grandparents gave the dozing toddler an adrenaline jolt that had her whizzing around like Dash from The Incredibles. I was actually kind of impressed at first...then just fearful as to how we'd ever get her to zonk out.

Due to the logistics of their house, the sleeping arrangements tend to put my significant other in the downstairs bedroom with the older child (in a sleeping bag on the floor) while I take the upstairs guest room with Monkey (in a Pack N Play). It means I get to go to sleep early. Not an accident! :)

But by the time we even got upstairs it was after 10. Books read, teeth brushed, got her in the P-n-P by about 10:25. Then I did my nightly routine and got the compression pump going for my legs. [Side note: Lymphedema SUCKS.] I barely kept myself awake and shut off the pump at 11:40.

...Only to hear, from the P-n-P: "Oh! Mommy, you're done!! Yay! Good night, Mommy."

My response: "Holy CRAP-- are you still UP???"

Monkey: <uncontrollable giggling>

I reminded her she won't grow if she doesn't sleep. Then I zonked out, feeling at least somewhat assured she'd sleep in a little later in the morning.

Yeah... about that, too? Not so much.

At PRECICELY 5:40 AM, I hear: "Mooooommmmmaaaaa...? MOMMA!!"

me: "Wha...?"

Monkey: "I fink someone's up. I fink... everyone is UP!"

me: "No honey. NO ONE is up. Shhhh. Go back to sleep."

Monkey: <cups her hand to her ear> "But, I... FEEL someone is up!"

me: "You mean HEAR. And no, you don't HEAR anyone up, because No. ONE. IS. Up... Not even Grandpa is up yet and that means it's too early to be up."


Monkey: "But... the SUN is up!!"

I managed to keep her contained in our room for about an  hour, thanks to the P-n-P (and her hard-work-to-preserve ignorance of the fact she could climb out of it any ol' time she wants. Then, we exploded into the family room. Bless Grandma's heart, I handed her off for Grandma-time and trudged up to hit the shower.

And greet the day.

At 7 AM on a Saturday... the only day in the week I don't HAVE to get up early.

She's lucky she's so cute. <sigh>