Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Conquering the morning & bedtime routine

Towards the end of a fun, impromptu play date at Clara’s house, I start the 10 minute count down, as I always do.
Me: Lila, we have to start wrapping up to go home.”
Lila (not looking away from the TV): Why?
Me: Because it’s a school night and we have to get back to our routine.
Lila: What routine?
I smack my own forehead, speechless.
Ah, yes. The bedtime and morning routine— the two-headed monster I’ve been battling day after day, night after night. Apparently, he’s an imaginary monster whom only I can see… and feel… and agonize over. This is my own personal battle. When my sweet, well-meaning husband tries intervening with a “perhaps I could offer a different approach” I wield my sword toward him—“NEVER!!!”  I shall conquer this monster with my mighty mommy powers!!
Uh huh. Yeah. I have no idea what I am doing.

First, it was the night time routine.  Somehow I was stuck in the routine of staying in the bed with Lila until she goes asleep. This results in me falling asleep in her bed and then waking up in the middle of the night to stumble back into my bed to my now sleeping husband. Needless to say, I have little to no downtime for myself or the hubby. (Not healthy.) My attempts to wean Lila off of having me in the bed have been met with tears and pure manipulation
Lila: Mommy, why don’t you want to be with me???

(How in the world do I answer that question?)
Me: Of course, I want to be with you but…

And, I’m back in the bed staring at the glow-in-the-dark stars on Lila’s bedroom ceiling. Lila’s fast asleep with a subtle grin. (You have won this battle, but the war has just begun, my sweet.)
Out of desperation, despite my husband’s silent protest, I brought up my dilemma at a parents' meeting at school. My story conjured up lots of emotion with the other parents. (Phew! I was not alone.)  I was given loads of advice, empathy, and well wishes. That night I faced the monster (aka the bedtime routine) with a renewed confidence.
Me: Lila, we had a talk at your school and they said you are too big now to have your mommy sleeping in the bed with you. So, starting tonight, after story, I am going to say good night and leave.
Silence... The jig was up. I have not slept in Lila’s room since.
That was seriously too easy. After all of those nights, that was it. Success! But it was not a total victory.
The morning routine was still rearing its ugly head.
At school in the morning Lila is expected to do 3 things:

1)      Put her folder in the homework basket.

2)      Place her “book buddy” folder on the shelf.

3)      Hang her jacket and back pack in the locker.
Classroom rule- Parents are not to intervene. Parents cannot do these things for their child. It’s all about building independence and responsibility and blah blah blah, I know, I know. I get it. It is just sooooooo frustrating when on "day 34" of the school year, kids are coming in and out, doing the routine 1-2-3, and your little one is in La La Land! Jacket on the floor… folder falling out of the back pack… 10 minutes later, still in the classroom… And I can’t help but wonder, “what am I doing wrong?!?!”
My husband’s interpretation is that I "baby her too much" and I need to "just drop her off and leave." Maybe there’s some truth to that (whatever), but I just can’t handle leaving with the image in my mind of Lila and her stuff all over the place. “She needs me” I convince myself. "She can't do this alone." I lose sleep thinking about it (making the newly accomplished night time routine a mute point—I’m not sleeping anyways)!
But, this morning in the shower it came to me! To the melody of Oh My Darling, Clementine
"Homework basket, homework basket, homework basket, book buddy.

Hang your back pack and your jacket,

and then you’re ready!"

I came running down the stairs, dripping wet with my towel, where Lila was eating breakfast and watching TV. I proudly sang my tune. Lila smirked and amazingly, it worked! This was the very first morning that Lila successfully completed her routine without assistance.
The song was brilliant!
Lila: Mom, please DO NOT sing that song in my classroom!

Me: I won't unless you need me too, Sweetie.

Hey, whatever works... {Insert evil laugh here.} Mommy wins!


Friday, October 11, 2013

Popcorn and Kale Chips

Movie nights are a regular occurance in our household. Usually on Friday night, it's our way to unwind from the hectic week and relax as a family. Being a family of foodies, the snack is usually more important than the movie itself. Here is one of our favorites-- Popcorn and kale chips.

  • Popcorn Kernels
  • Olive Oil
  • Cooking Spray
  • Sea Salt
  • A large bag of fresh Kale
  • Seasoning (we use Old Bay)
The Popcorn:
  • Cover the bottom of a medium sized pot with olive oil.
  • Grind or sprinkle in some sea salt.
  • Add a layer of popcorn kernels on the bottom of the pot.
  • Cover and turn the heat to "high." Continually move the pot back and forth until you hear the popcorn begin to pop. Remove from heat when the popping slows down. The lid will usually start to rise up due to the popcorn.
  • Pour into a large bowl.
The Kale Chips:
  • Throughly wash and dry the kale. You may want to remove some of the stems if they are really thick.
  • Line a cookie sheet with foil. Cover with cooking spray (or use an olive oil mister).
  • Arrange the kale on the cookie sheet. Drizzle a little more olive oil. Season.
  • Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, until they become crispy.
Let the kale chips cool and then combine them with the popcorn. Enjoy this healthy, savory movie treat! It's one of Lila's faves.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

There is a Mouse in our House

   “I know why people make movies,” Clara declared definitively.
   “Really? Why?” I asked, curious about how she might define all filmmakers’ motivations in one succinct statement.
   “To show things that can’t ever really happen in real life.”
   “Like what?”
   “Like in Curious George when the tiger went in the house in the little boy’s bedroom. That would never happen in real life. Tigers don’t live in houses, right?
   “Right,” I concurred. “Where do tigers live?”
   “In the zoo.”
   “Yes… sometimes. Where else do tigers live?” I was a bit dismayed that I was raising a child who only saw animals in their relationship to humans and not in their natural habitat.
   “In jungles. But, we don’t have any jungles near us. We just have ants and spiders and mice in our house, right?”

Unfortunately, Clara was right. For whatever reason, perhaps because we live in an older house or perhaps because we live across from a small wooded area, our house seems to be a hang-out spot for local wildlife.

To be fair, I am probably not helping the matter by my no-kill policy. From an early age, I taught Clara that we don’t kill bugs in the house. We carefully trap them with a cup on top and a thin piece of paper on bottom and bring them back outside.

All of this goodwill came to an end last week when a very friendly mouse decided to make a residence in my bed. Yes, in my bed.

When I think of mice, I think of scared, little creatures scurrying across the perimeter of a floor in the middle of the night trying desperately not to be seen by humans. Our Toddler Mouse was no such mouse. My husband dubbed him the Toddler Mouse due to his petite size and his toddler-like physical movements, jumping and stumbling through our house with a spunky independence that seemed newly discovered. Clearly, the Toddler Mouse’s mommy had not yet taught him to stay away from humans or to stay hidden away until nighttime.

The Toddler Mouse’s first appearance came when he decided to jump on my husband’s knee as he sat at his computer and then scurry quickly down his leg. For as much as I love animals, mice have always creeped me out, so it was with some amount of pride at my calm self-restraint that I stayed in the area in my bed reading despite the fact that a mouse was loose in the house.

When my husband asked if I was OK, knowing about my distaste for rodents, I said I was fine and then inquired how exactly the mouse incident happened. He explained that there had been a rustling sound nearby and before he knew it the mouse was on his lap. I took note of the circumstances and felt secure under my covers on my high bed.

Almost as soon as we finished our discussion, I heard a rustling sound from directly under my bed. Before I could react, I heard the disturbing sound of little mouse feet climbing up the corner of the bed, onto my pillow and scurrying across my hair! The sensation of feeling a mouse crawling along my hair while in my bed definitively ranks as one of the most skeevy experiences of my life so far.

   “Ahhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhh!” I leapt to my feet, jumped up and down, reaching quite impressive heights in between my screams.

Clara never heard me scream like that and her initial concern about my well being quickly turned into delight that she had found something that could really get a reaction out of me.

For the past week, Clara found great joy in coming up from behind me and tousling my hair while saying with a straight face, “I think I see a mouse in there. Really, mama, a real mouse!”

In the mornings, she nestles in next to me, and softly squeaks as a smile stretches mischievously across her face. “Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. I think I hear a mouse in here,” she warns.

Yesterday, she decided she wants to be a mouse for Halloween. She is relentless.

My no-kill policy ended this week. The Toddler Mouse may or may not be gone. My husband set a trap and did indeed catch a mouse. I asked if it was the Toddler Mouse. He said it looked to be the right size but rigor mortis set in and even in mice, death does strange things to one’s appearance, so he can’t be sure.

My mom says that one seen mouse represents approximately fifty unseen mice that are hiding somewhere else in the house. This is a disturbing thought. I prefer to believe that we had one spunky, loner, adventurous Toddler Mouse who just toddled on into our house all by his youthful self.

In the meantime, my little Clara-mouse continues to keep the Toddler Mouse’s memory alive to my great chagrin and her great amusement. My hair still feels itchy just thinking about it.