Warts and All

I was speaking with a colleague today about how difficult it can be to have small children and how much they can try your patience. Often, the stuff that makes it to the blog is the fun, entertaining, aren’t-they-so-cute stuff, but a lot of the time it’s just plain hard to have 2 small kids and be 2 full-time working parents, I don’t care how amazing you or your children are.

Case in point, our adventures with ice cream the other day.

I had a day off, put the kids in school so I could run errands, and told them that I’d pick them up early so we could get ice cream together, thinking it would be a fun idea.

We get to Little Man Ice Cream and the boy chooses chocolate with sprinkles in a flat cone. I get the girl strawberry with sprinkles and we sit down on a bench to eat. The girl is somewhat incredulous at being given a whole cup of ice cream all to herself, and proceeds to gorge herself with no attention to precision and globs of pink fly onto her raincoat. The boy is standing up, licking away at his cone, entirely content.  I feel like a great mom having a great time with her great kids.

Then, it all goes to hell.

The sun goes behind the clouds, and the boy says, “Can we finish our ice cream at home? My hands are getting so cold!!”  It seems reasonable enough, but I’ve forgotten that you can’t reason with a 22 month old.  I tell the girl, “Let’s finish our ice cream at home,” while I take the cup out of her hands.  She responds by screaming continuously.  I try to pry the spoon out of her fist but it’s no use.  It’s her only ice cream left and she’s not having it.  I can’t pick up the livid toddler and carry her ice cream at the same time, so I give the cup to the boy (whose ice cream is now in a cup as well) and we start walking to the car.

As he walks with ice cream cups in hand, he trips and falls prostrate on the ground, scraping his palms on the sidewalk.  Both cups tumble to the ground.  He stands up and starts bawling while I try to console him with the fact that none of the ice cream touched the ground.  Remember, the girl is now being carried like a battering ram and screaming her head off the entire time.  The boy gets it together, still sniffling, and we get to the car where the girl proceeds to make her body as rigid as a board and refuses to get into her carseat.  With no small amount of wrangling, I manage to strap her in, but I’m frazzled now and say to the boy, who is standing behind me,  (and this, I’m not proud of) “I wish you could have just stayed there a few more minutes! She’s so upset now!!”

To which the boy starts wailing, “I’m SORRRRYYYY!!!!” and crying as loud as HE can, repeating “I’m sorry!” over and over.  I get to experience screeching in surround sound.

Sigh.  Two screaming kids and a guilt trip is not what I had had in mind.  People are staring, too.

I turn around, give the boy a kiss, hug him and say, “I’m sorry.  It’s okay–it was getting pretty cold.  Tell you what–let’s go home, turn on the fireplace, and eat our ice cream by the fire where it’s warm and toasty.”  This mollifies him and we put the ice cream into the cup holders in the back seat, where they fit perfectly. 

At home, the girl hyperventilates in her high chair until she gets the ice cream in front of her and proceeds to demolish it and then lick the cup.  The boy parks in front of the fireplace and eats the rest of his as well; peace is restored.

It all ended well, indeed, but there were a few moments in there where I just had to take deep breaths and do my best to remain calm, and even that I failed to do entirely.  This post doesn’t even begin to cover the mad morning rush to feed/clothe/transport children and the reverse routine at night that we have on a daily basis.  All of this to say that while it’s fun and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it’s challenging too–and I’m well aware that many parents have it much tougher.  I know that you, too, have a story of when you were not a particularly graceful parent under pressure, and I just want you to know that you are not alone.

Playing House, circa 2009

chillin' poolside

The boy and his girl friend A took a trip to the pool over the weekend.  As they lounged together, Eric overheard their conversation:

The boy: “Hey A, let’s play family!”

A: “Okay.”

Boy: “I want to be the mommy, and you can be the daddy”

A:  “But I want to be the mommy!”

Boy: “That’s okay, we can be two mommies!”

Love it.

Sprinkler Day

My sister basically told me that my next post had better be cheerful after the last depressing one left her unable to move for the rest of the day, eating Junior Mints and watching “Million Dollar Baby” over and over, wallowing in the sadness.

So here it is.  An early pick up from school, a hot afternoon, a great idea from Sapana, and here are the results:



The girl wasn’t nearly as impressed.  After stepping into the grass with some trepidation:


She quickly realized this wasn’t for her


and found a more comfortable position.


All in all, a great way to spend one of the last few summer afternoons.


History repeating itself

When I was about, oh, three years old, apparently I snuck into the bathroom while my mother was taking a nap (and thought I was, too) and managed to get my hands on her makeup and end up covering myself and the bathroom with it.  Quite literally red-handed thanks to the lipstick, I vigorously denied touching her makeup at all.

A few days ago, I got proof that the force runs strong within my family, at least when it comes to mishaps involving cosmetics.

Having put the boy to sleep in our bed as per usual, Eric and I went downtairs to watch the somewhat forgettable yet moderately entertaining “Bollywood Hero.”  About an hour later, Eric goes upstairs to check on the kids, and shortly yells downstairs “You have to get up here right now!” Worried that some mortal ill has befallen our children, I race upstairs, only to find the bathroom covered in plum nail polish.  It is dripped onto the tiles and sink, dried on the sink handles and bowl, and there is a puddle of it in the middle of the bathroom spilling over onto the grout.

I go to see the boy who is sleeping in our bed with the cover pulled up just over his hands.  I wake him up and he brings his hands out from under the duvet, entirely covered in dried nail polish.  He also has a few streaks between his toes. I can’t help myself–I start laughing, because the situation is just too ridiculous for words.  We get the boy in the bathroom, who keeps answering “I don’t know” or “I didn’t do it” to all queries, and Eric intermittently yelling at him.  Initially I use nail polish remover but then realize that I don’t want my child to get acetone poisoning so I just scrub his hands and feet and get it off of his skin as best as I can.  We get the boy to sleep in his own bed and then finish cleaning up the rest.

Trying to figure out what happened, we trace the drops of polish from the bathroom, over the carpet, to the nightstand, which we find has polish dripped all inside the drawer.  Our nice Room&Board nightstand, no less.

To then piece together what happened, the nail polish was in the nightstand for some reason (Eric’s side, I might add) and the boy just HAD to know what it was.  He must have opened it, it started to spill, and then I can just hear his little brain going, “Oh shit oh shit oh shit” (or whatever sanitized toddler version he speaks in his head) and get it into the bathroom as quickly as possible, where he dropped the bottle on the floor and created the puddle, and then tried to clean it up with his hands, only to find that it dried on his hands and all surfaces.  Panicking, he gave up and went to bed, carefully covering his hands with the comforter, and hoping we wouldn’t notice.

The aftermath:IMGP2499

Modern Love

Every Sunday in the New York Times Sunday Styles section is a regular column titled, “Modern Love.”  Often this details the trials and tribulations of adult relationships today and usually ends with some profound revelation that has changed the life of the author.  Why I read this every week is beyond me, especially when I find them to be so self-serving and boring most of the time.

Sometimes, though, like this week, the focus is on relationships between parents and children.  These pieces always get to me and often cause me to tear up.  Sunday’s piece was about a man who recalls a tense relationship with his father and yet wonders at the easy relationship his father has with his son, currently 3 years old.  After learning that he too had had a playful time with his father when he himself was that age, he muses about the fun he currently has with his son.

I savor those moments, but worry now that Seth will scarcely remember them. Perhaps memories of early years were never really meant for sons, for whom growing up requires a kind of forgetting. Perhaps they are really for fathers, to wrap ourselves in when our sons begin that long, slow fade into adulthood.

This hit me pretty hard.  I mostly remember a lot of screaming fights with my parents growing up, battles over independence and friends and god only knows everything else.  I can’t really say that I have a lot of happy memories of growing up, though pictures tell a different story.

I see the same strong-willed tendencies in the boy, and am already bracing myself for a difficult adolescence.  It scares me to think that all the fun, joyous memories we are creating now will evaporate in his consciousness and he, too, will grow up with memories only of struggles at home and not love.  I suppose this is what is meant in that childhood is for parents, as a sort of buffer zone of memory to protect us from the inevitable door-slamming and verbal salvos that await as children navigate the tricky chrysalis of growing up and emerge (hopefully) to find their way back home.

Feeling extinct

Lest you think that I have been neglecting my knitting, rest assured that is not the case.  I’ve got two projects on the  needles these days.  The Steggie sweater is proving to be more challenging than I initially thought it would be and the sleeves are giving me paroxysms.  I’ve ripped out and redone the sleeve no less than six times at this point, and am getting pretty frustrated with them.  The issue comes with the spikes on the edges and finding out that I’ve wrapped the stitches wrong, but of course I only discover this about 4 rows up and then it’s hopeless.  Technically you should be able to rip out the border without involving the main body stitches, but as they’re all wrapped together my puny little brain can’t discern which stitch to put where and it becomes a royal mess.  If you know how to do this, tell me, please.


What you see here has been ripped and redone as I had done the increases on the wrong rows, but really I was initially happy about it since I got to redo the cast on as an invisible cast on, which looks awesome and professional.  This for a sweater that will be destroyed by a 4 year old.

In good news, the back and fronts are done.  I knitted both fronts at the same time using a helpful tip to pin the fronts together.  This way they are exactly the same size.


I’m also working on a more portable sweater, a daunting enterprise consisting of a sweater for myself knit out of DK yarn.  That might take a while…

Moo Baa Lalala

The knitting dork that I am, the thing that I was most excited about was that our trip to Estes Park coincided with the Annual Estes Park Wool Market.  A whole day of sheepy fun! When we got there, it was even cooler than I initially thought.  On the schedule was sheep judging, alpaca judging, a whole tent of paco-vicuñas, sheep shearing, and sheepdog herding!  And, of course, a whole tent of yarny goodness.

The boy communed with the sheep:


We all watched, fascinated, with the sheep shearing:


There was a children’s tent where you could try out a few different fiber arts.  The boy loved the spinning and the weaving, and did pretty good! He later saw a spinning wheel for sale and wanted me to buy it for him to take home.


Then it was off to the paco-vicuñas.  I was so enthralled by these creatures I forgot to take a picture, so here’s  a stock shot of them (no pun intended).


These critters are really cute in person, and make some very soft (and expensive, I might add) yarn.

Then the sheepdog demonstrations, in which we watched how they train a sheepdog to herd sheep, largely by watching a somewhat spastic dog run circles around a quartet of, well, sheepish sheep who obeyed his every command. It was amazing to watch the animals interact with each other and see creatures doing what they are meant to do.  (After hundreds of years of breeding and domesticity, that is.  If the creatures were in their wild form, I suppose the dog would have eaten the sheep.)

Then off to the yarn tent, where I purchased a hole in the head some amazing handspun and hand dyed one-of-a-kind yarn.  This time, I swear, there are projects attached to each piece.  I think.  I’ll take some pics and post them later.

That afternoon we went for another hike, this time to Fern Lake. Our number one hiker was in top form yet again.


By the end of the hike he had lost a bit of weight, completing the journey shirtless and pack-less.


In the middle of the hike he announced, as 3 year olds will, “Mommy, I have to go poopy.”  Note how he did not say, “Daddy, I have to go poopy.” After a bit of stalling, we realized he meant it and found a spot to go.  I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say that we only left footprints, and took only pictures. I will at some point use those pictures to either blackmail him or embarrass him at his wedding reception.

Today happened to be my birthday as well, and for the occasion the boy came up with a list of 10 things he loves about Mama.  I’ll leave you with that list.  Number 8 is my favorite:

1. Takes me to the Dinosaur Museum.

2. Takes me to the Art Museum.

3. Takes me to school.

4. Helps us clean up.

5. Makes us dinner.

6. Reads books to us.

7. Helps me spell.

8. How she cuts up watermelons.

9. She drives the car well.

10. When we stay in the house and play with me and my sister.

Best. Birthday. Ever.


This last weekend, the family took its first vacation as a foursome to Estes Park.  We stayed at YMCA of the Rockies, in a delightful little 2 bedroom cabin, complete with fireplace and coffee maker.

I used to be someone who could pack enough for a month long trip into a backpack and have room left over.  This is no longer the case.  Our car before leaving:

IMGP2021Even the girl was crammed in:


We got up to Estes and took a walk downtown, where the boy competed with a mountain lion statue for fierceness:


Then we got to our cozy little cabin.  When we arrived, the boy ran around the cabin, declaring, “I love this place!”  We had a nice 2 bedroom cabin with a fireplace and settled in, reading books and playing memory.   The boy did spend a bit of time looking for the switch to “turn on” the fireplace, and was a bit surprised to learn that you actually had to start a fire with real wood. The next day was time for…the big hike!

Hikemaster was ready to go!


The boy did great on the hike, making it up the 1.1 miles to Dream Lake and back with minimal carrying.  The girl did great, too.


We saw these cool trees we learned to be limber pines.  They are made of a flexible wood and twist with the wind as it whips around the mountains:


At Dream Lake we had a nice lunch with some overly inquisitive squirrels.  Sadly, they are completely tame at this point because of people who feed them.  Those buggers are fast, and probably got a bit or two of veggie booty before we could shoo them away.


When we got back down, though, Eric noticed that the girl’s eyes were completely goopy with yellow discharge.  This made me grateful for the fact that I have a Colorado medical license, we were 5 minutes away from a pharmacy, and I know one pediatric antibiotic eye ointment.  This also made me realize that I really don’t have any interest in remote backcountry camping for a while.  I know you can’t prepare for everything, but I’d like my children to be a bit more independent and a bit less tasty snack for predators.

The next day was the Estes Park Wool Market!! Details in next post…


Evolution of a Tantrum

There was a good 5-7 minutes of screaming before this video started, so you’re just catching the tail end of it.  The funny thing is, I started the tantrum by telling him that he could not use more tape to hang up his poster.  That was it.  Somehow, the anger was transferred to Eric and I’m still invited to the party.

Lest you think this is a bit unfair, well, I suppose it is, but the boy was eager to see the video shortly after and laughed at himself the entire time.  Dinner was uneventful, other than when he killed a bug who was unluckily crawling along the railing of our back porch.

When does being 3 years old end? Sigh.