Floor Renovation and a Big Kid Room

We are in the midst of a small home renovation project right now, replacing the carpeting in our two small bedrooms with hardwoods. These are 1) the kids’ room and 2) the office/guest room. It’s been easy enough to empty out the guest room and strip the carpet, so that room has been ready for a while now.

Well, “easy” enough. We did have to deal with our Monica Geller closet of shame and my husband’s 800-pound desk.

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The more challenging part, though, has been figuring out the logistics of getting the kids’ room empty because — you know — they sleep in there. We’ve already removed a lot of furniture from the room, including the giant IKEA cube shelf that was doing business as a makeshift dresser and bookshelf. It’s now going to reside in the garage as an organizer and the kids will get my old dressers whenever CW and I get around to buying new ones for ourselves. We took out the futon as well, and got everything off the closet floor (e.g. bins of old clothing, a diaper storage cart). The only things remaining? The cribs.

The floor guys are going to be here early Friday morning*, so we are going to probably remove the cribs tonight and have the kids sleep in the playroom, then put them back in their room Friday night when the floors are done. Of course, moving the cribs out the doorway will entail disassembling them, then re-assembling them in the playroom, then disassembling them, then re-assembling them as toddler beds in the bedroom.

As toddler beds. Yup. That’s happening. It’s time. L has been able to climb out for several months now, and I know one is advised to switch to a bed once the kid can climb out of the crib, for safety reasons, we haven’t done it yet. Honestly, I had a little talk with L and he basically stopped doing it. But it’s still time. Here’s how their room looked before they were born, and it hasn’t changed much since. But things are happening!

After this project is complete, they’ll have toddler beds and real dressers, maybe a bean bag chair. The big IKEA shelf and the diaper changing table will be gone. The bird mobiles I made when I was pregnant are going to be transformed somehow, though details remain to be seen on that one. I suppose we’re moving toward their “big kid room.” But how could they possibly already be big kids?

Updates to come.

*As of this current posting, my husband has texted me to let me know that the floor guys tried to push the install date back to Monday and he got them to re-agree to Friday. So. Let’s hope they do show up as planned, then.

Nobody Told Me

Back in the heyday of blogging, when I read all the popular mom blogs (despite being myself single and without child, in those days), everyone used to write about Things Nobody Told Them. Bloggers pulled back the curtains on some shit back then, man. You know, literal shit like pooping on the delivery table. Figurative shit like the fact that breastfeeding was often difficult and painful. The sleep deprivation, constant worry, and PPD. All of a sudden, women were talking about things that had previously been, at best, only whispered about.

So since I read all of this stuff years ago (I liked reading about other women’s lives, even if not immediately relevant to my own), I figured I had a pretty good handle on the Things Nobody Tells Us category of pregnancy and parenthood. I was prepared.

But as you might guess, there was something about which Nobody Told Me: the sheer strenuous physicality of absolutely everything. The way you and your parenthood are inseparable from your body. The way your body never, ever gets a break.

I’m not referring really to breastfeeding, sleep, or even carrying a pregnancy. I mean the little daily bullshit. For example:

  • Wrestling a child into/out of a diaper
  • Wrestling a child into/out of clothing or pajamas or a coat or shoes
  • Wrestling a child into/out of a car seat or a stroller or a high chair or a booster seat or a shopping cart
  • Wrestling a child into/out of a crib or a bathtub
  • Picking up a limp-noodling child who is now a textbook example of passive resistance
  • Applying sunscreen to a squirming child
  • Brushing or styling the hair of a squirming child
  • Brushing the teeth of a child whose jaws are clamped down tighter than the jaws of an alligator
  • Lifting a child onto/off of a public toilet
  • Wiping the butt of a child who, instead of staying in the approved downward-dog-style wiping posture, is insisting on doing a series of unpredictable vinyasas
  • Holding a child up high enough to reach the counter and sink in a public restroom while they dawdle over hand washing and drying
  • Dodging the jammy hands of a child who is trying to use your white blouse as a napkin five minutes before you need to leave for work
  • Being bitten
  • Being slapped
  • Having the eyeglasses slapped right off of your face
  • Having handfuls of hair ripped out of your head
  • Being head-butted in the mouth

In the past month, I’ve been head-butted in the mouth twice, most recently last night. That seems like a lot of head-butting and fat lips, doesn’t it? And nothing will flip my rage switch faster than being suddenly physically hurt like that. Inside my head, it’s like a bomb goes off. Outside my head, I just yelp in pain and then speak very calmly and carefully to everyone around me while also glaring at them pretty hard as I dramatically count my remaining teeth and apply ice to the affected area. Which is an unsatisfying vent for my frustrations, so here we are.

Why is my body so tired? When will my body feel less tired? When will I stop worrying about my offspring (accidentally, but still) physically assaulting me? Will I make it through the next couple of decades with all my original teeth? More importantly, why did nobody tell me?

Don’t worry, though: I did hear about the importance of cherishing every moment.

 

What’s Going On

Fall semester starts today, technically, but for me it starts tomorrow. I’m in back-to-school mode, which is one of the best modes of all. I love the start of a new school year, don’t you?

Here’s what’s been happening this spring and summer:

I went to New Orleans with my BFFs! we all turned 40 this year, so we decided to ring in the new decade with a ladies’ trip. We rented a lovely and perfect house on the bayou where we could hang out at night listening to the noises of the wildlife or relaxing in the hot tub. In town, we ate all the delicious food and drank all the beautiful drinks and had generally an amazing time. We need to do this every year now.

My kiddos started a new daycare/preschool. They started attending at the beginning of the summer, during the “summer camp” mode, which meant they got to have splash days and popsicles on Fridays and they loved it. Now the daycare’s new preschool year has started and E&L moved up to a new class and started taking Gymnastics (they offer classes as part of the preschool extracurriculars) and it feels like basically the next time I turn around they’ll be off to college. They’re doing wonderfully. They’re mostly daytime potty trained at this point now, too — one twin completely; the other uses a pull-up at naptime — and that’s probably not something I’ll write much more about here on the wide-open internet, but suffice it to say: YAY.

We took our summer road trip to Iowa to visit my in-laws and survived the long days in the car thanks to my iPad and Netflix’s selection of animated movies available for offline viewing. The kids had a blast playing on the farm and riding all the various farm vehicles with Papa.

I’ve been reading exclusively women writers this year, and although there are a couple of books on my shelf waiting for when the man-ban is lifted, it’s been completely refreshing. These are a few of my favorites so far.

So what’s new with you?

Toddler Hearing Test

E&L had tubes placed in their ears earlier this year after a series of ear infections and constant fluid in their ears. In addition to the effect so many courses of antibiotics would have on them, we were also worried about their hearing and speech development — if they couldn’t hear, how could they learn to talk?

So we had the tubes placed and it was relatively quick and easy (as far as surgery goes — it’s still not great to hand your baby off to a nurse and know they’re going to be put under general anesthesia) and afterward they could hear! And they started to talk! But part of the Ear Nose and Throat doctor’s follow-up care involves tests to make sure that they’re hearing well. L passed his right away, but E has never passed her tests.

The audiologist has to place an instrument in the outer ear that makes sounds and measures the ear’s response to it (an Otoacoustic Emissions test, or OAE). They get best results when the child is still and quiet, so, you know. Difficult for a toddler to achieve. Plus, frankly, the audiologists at the ENT’s office never seemed willing to try very hard to make it work. They wound up referring us to a hearing specialist to do more and different tests to see if they could get a passing result for her. She was so cooperative and good! Her left ear got a passing result right away, but then she wanted to move and talk a bit while the doctor was testing her right ear. She was able to measure the response she wanted, but not at a high enough level for a pass.

The next step was to let her respond to stimuli in the booth. This was kind of fun to experience. E got to sit in my lap inside the sound proof booth while the doctor was outside observing. The doctor made sounds at different levels on E’s right and left side to watch her look for the source. My job was to be so quiet and still and not consciously or subconsciously cue E to look in any particular direction — just keep her comfortable and calm. She passed this test at normal levels and did great. Then, while we were still in the booth, the doctor tested her speech comprehension by asking her to touch her nose. At first, E didn’t seem to want to respond. I know she knows this because she has been playing touch-your-nose forever, but she can be a contrary little soul. So when she didn’t touch her nose after several requests, I kind of shrugged at the doctor through the window, like, enh, you win some, you lose some. But then E decided to get on board with the game and proudly showed off her nose, eyes, and ears while also waving and grinning at the doctor. Yay!

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So the upshot today was that the left ear is totally fine. The right ear may have failed the OAE due to noise/movement, or she may have failed because sometimes tubes cause them not to see the desired OAE response. But she’s doing great with her hearing and speech development and the doctor had zero concerns right now. If we start to have concerns in the future, we can go back, but otherwise we’re good to wait until her next six-month follow-up at the ENT. I wish we could have just gotten a straight pass on the OAE for both ears, but I guess this is still fine so I’ll take it.

Use Your Words

Do you ever just feel like making some inarticulate screaming noises? Yes? I do. And so I have total sympathy for my toddlers when their feelings well up and they have to just let it out: low-key whining, flailing, screaming, or full-on wet-noodle tantrumming.

A lot of the time, I can cut off the crying loop if I interject to remind them that I would be very happy to help them but I can’t understand what they need if they’re whining; could they please use their words instead? It’s impressive how often this works. They can stop and say, “MAH CHOO-CHOO” or “NO-NO DOGGIE” or “MO DJOOSE” or “HEP PEEZ.” Of course, they’re at a stage where this trick only goes so far — a lot of the time, the source of their turmoil is as yet inexpressible to them. Still happens to me on the regular, honestly, so I get it.

There are a lot of things they can’t say yet — their own/each other’s names, for example. the names of some of their toys and books and of some of the foods they like. Usually, pointing and asking for “dat” is what helps. “Dat” book on the high shelf, “dat” box of crackers, etc. Several times recently, E&L have been playing together in the playroom when all of a sudden L bursts into tearful wails. When I ask him to try to tell me what’s wrong or what he needs, he just turns to his sister with angry tears in his eyes and points at her emphatically, “DAT.”

And that’s when I see that she has taken the structure he’s been painstakingly building out of his Mega Bloks and threw it on the floor and smashed it. “All my hard work!” “Why does she like to annoy me?!” “Now I have to re-build!” L isn’t able to express that all just yet, so an accusing point and an emphatic “DAT” are the best he can do. I would be lying if I said it doesn’t crack me up every time.

Outside

The kids absolutely love a playground and we are lucky enough to have one in our neighborhood. It’s a frequent outing on weekend mornings: plop them in the jogging stroller and head down to the playground a mile from our house. We stay and play for a while and then head back home. Everybody gets outside, everybody gets some exercise, everybody wins.

Except yesterday, when we got there to find that the gate had broken and been zip-tied shut. It’s the kind of gate that takes an ID card to open (the playground is for HOA members only, which 🙄), and it seemed like when the mechanism broke, rather than leave it open and available to everyone, someone decided to shut it completely and prevent ANYONE from getting in. (Sure, we could “just” cut the zip ties, but who carries scissors to the playground?)

I hate this attitude and it’s not the first time I’ve encountered it with our HOA. We’re constantly hearing about how people who don’t even live in our neighborhood want to come use our pool and playground. Allegedly, people try to “jump the fence” on the reg. I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard our HOA president promising to build a wall around the neighborhood soon slash claiming it will be paid for by the less affluent neighborhood to the south.

So anyway, we of course had two very broken-hearted toddlers in our hands who cried the entire walk home, L wailing repeatedly, “ow-SHIIIIDE! ow-SHIIIIDE!” It was little consolation to his soul to be told that, although we were not at the playground, we were still technically outside.

And that is how today, when it started pouring down rain just as we arrived at a public park (not taking chances with our neighborhood playground again), we wound up at the McDonald’s PlayPlace — you can bet we were not going to break those children’s hearts again. You want to slide? You are god damned getting to slide. And mama is buying some warm chocolate chip cookies and a giant Diet Coke.

E&L: 23 Months

I don’t do monthly updates on the twins anymore, but since I’m on this daily posting project and it happens to be the fourth of the month and I happen to have taken some photos of them today with The Good Camera, why not?

Twenty-three months, in case you are bad at math, is just one month away from turning TWO YEARS OLD. What even?! They’re so big and they’re learning so much and it’s so fun to be around them — most of the time, you know. They have a lot of emotions to express, which can be a bit overwhelming for everyone involved, but on balance, they’re generally sweet and charming and adorable.

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Today we went to the library after their nap and the first thing they wanted to do was color. They love picking through the buckets of crayons and waving them around and coloring on the table and also occasionally on the coloring sheets the library provides. They also love running to the stacks of picture books, choosing one and bringing it to me or CW to read — then jumping back up two pages in when they decide they don’t like that book after all and running back for a new selection.

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DSC_0637At 23 months, Jellybean:

  • is learning new words all the time and makes some two-word sentences as well. Most adorably, the other night she was heading to the couch with her dad and L to watch TV after dinner and I was still in the kitchen doing something so she ran back in and grabbed my hand and said, earnestly, “Couchie, Mama!” and dragged me to the living room to snuggle. Sweet bear.
  • is very interested in when her dad and I go to the bathroom and has recently learned all the bathroom vocabulary and, nope, I’m not ready for this, so never mind.
  • is very opinionated about everything and often has a strong preference for her dad when it comes to getting up, getting dressed, and having her hair done. I think she knows how bad I want to get her dressed and do her hair and she is rejecting me out of spite? No. Of course not.
  • loves her toddler-room teachers and knows their names and breaks into a cheesy grin when she talks about them at home.
  • takes after her dad in that she is NOT a morning person. L can be up yelling at us for a good half hour and she’ll still be lying flat on her face, all “NOOOOOOO” when we gently ask if she’s ready to get up. Hashtag twin problems.

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DSC_0611.jpgAt 23 months, Blueberry:

  • is catching up to his sister in vocabulary and is often better at pronunciation (he often takes great care to say the final consonant on words where she drops it, e.g. “cowwwCHHHH”)
  • has taken a shine to building with his Mega Blocks and comes up with the most fun, wacky, creative, Dr. Seuss-esque structures that continue to impress me.
  • is a big-time reader and will settle in and snuggle up in our laps for seemingly unlimited reading time. He’s so sweet and so engaged, his eyes locked into the book and one hand gently holding my wrist while I read.
  • sometimes has a hard time with school drop-off but has a reputation among his teachers for being the sweetest and most laid-back little one in the class (and I can see why).
  • takes after me in that he is absolutely a morning person and wakes up dialed to eleven and raring to go.

Some of their recent favorites:

  • Foods: mac and cheese, fries, yogurt/kefir, avocado, eggs, all fresh fruit (L), cinnamon toast, butter
  • Entertainment: Daniel Tiger, Moana, Sing
  • Books: Sweet Pickles, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Eeek Halloween, Olivia

They’re in bed but now I miss them and want to snuggle their sweet little faces. Hashtag mom problems.