Public Service Announcement II

(To clarify: This post was inspired by three things: One, the parents.com article I link to in the first paragraph; two, some frustrated-with-husband plurks from this past weekend; three, my own frustrated desire to get something done on Sunday. In other words: DearDR, it’s not all about you. XOXOXO)

Dear Husbands:

Psst. Your wife is mad at you. Especially if you have children.

It’s okay. Or it can be okay.

Do you know what your wife wants? Of course you don’t — that’s why she’s mad at you! And yes, she wants some things that you just don’t feel like doing, it’s true. But you will be amazed at how little “extra” you have to do.

Here are some things you can do — right now, today! — that will help your wife be less angry at you:

Four simple words: “How can I help?” Ask your wife this tonight after dinner. Really listen to her answer. She wants you to clean up the kitchen? Just do it. Or would she rather you bathe the children? Just do it. And do it all on your own, the first time she asks you. Your wife doesn’t want to be a nag, but if she asks you to do something and you say, “Okay, I’ll do that” and then start surfing YouTube on your computer, she’s going to have to ask you again. And possibly again, and then you will say, “I said I would do it! Stop nagging me” and then her head will explode.

Take care of the kids. No, really. You should have some basic knowledge of how to take care of the children. And, truly, I mean basic. Have a rough idea of their schedules. Know when they eat meals and/or snacks; have a clue about what they like or dislike. Know where their clothes are and how to dress the children appropriately. Do the bath thing, start to finish, once a week. Put them to bed — yes, both (or more) of them, if applicable. Let your wife clean up the kitchen uninterrupted and then sit down a read a book. We will understand if it’s not every night. And we’re not asking you to remember the doctor appointments or school details. Basic.

Let her sleep in. Some couples I know divide the weekend: He sleeps in Saturday; she sleeps in Sunday, or vice versa. In short, though, even if you can only do it once a month or so: get up with the children, and don’t let them wake her up. Let her loll in bed until 8:30 or 9 a.m. If you sleep in more often (be honest, guys), then give her a break.

Figure out how to give your wife some uninterrupted time. I don’t know if you know how many times your wife is interrupted in the course of her life with the children. If they are awake, be assured that they are interrupting her. Roughly every 30 seconds (this gets better as they get older, or so I hear). She is constantly turning away from whatever she happens to be doing (cooking dinner, cleaning, laundry, even trying to read a magazine or going to the bathroom) to “deal with” the children. Even if it’s to look at something they want her to see or stopping to say “hi” to the toddler who has run into the room for the umpteenth time yelling, “Hi, Mommy!”, it’s getting on her nerves a little bit.

There are two ways your wife wants uninterrupted time: She wants it out of the house, and she wants it in the house.

Give your wife a few hours — or even a day — off. Encourage her to leave the house. Don’t ask what she is going to do. Don’t ask when she is coming home. Don’t call her cell phone to ask her when or what to feed the children, or if they need baths, or what time they go to bed. This time alone, I almost guarantee, will pay dividends. Doesn’t have to be every weekend. Once a month, though? Would rock.

Give your wife a few hours around the house without the children underfoot. You know that really messy room you’ve been complaining about? Or have you noticed that the kitchen floor hasn’t been mopped in a while? Are boxes of things she means to donate piling up? Quit bugging her about it. She wants to deal with it, she really does. Some days it’s hard enough cleaning up the mess from that day, let alone getting to things that have accumulated. Disappear with the kids for a few hours. Take the children to the mall or the Children’s Museum, or to the zoo, or to a movie. Treat them to lunch at a restaurant. Give your wife a few hours in the house alone. That room, that floor, those boxes, will probably be taken care of. Really. It’s bugging her too.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Well why doesn’t she just tell me this stuff?” There are a few possible reasons that your wife hasn’t mentioned how upset she is:

First, it’s possible that she simply cannot believe that you don’t know what needs to be done around the house and/or with the children. She thinks that you will wake up, and start doing that little bit more — putting your socks in the hamper, carrying that basket of laundry upstairs, bathing the children. She hasn’t said anything because she doesn’t think she needs to say anything.

Second, she assumes that it is her role to do “everything” and since you work full-time (you do work full-time, right?), you deserve a break today. This is very sweet of her, of course, but here’s the thing. It’s not helping her be less angry. And when she snaps — and she will lose it sooner or later, sooner if she also works outside of the home — and throws something at your head, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

I know, I know, she doesn’t do everything. But that’s how she feels. So help her out a little bit.

Third, she has told you. She has asked you. And you either haven’t really heard her, or after agreeing to do certain things at certain times or on certain days, you haven’t followed through.

No, your wife is not perfect. And yes, she could possibly manage her time a little better, too.

Here’s another a big, important point: Your wife doesn’t want to be angry with you. She didn’t get here alone, but she feels alone — and angry, right now. Be her partner; help her out. She didn’t marry your and have children on a whim. She loves you.

Problem-Solving with Magnets

Around the time that we were thinking of beginning to think about potty-training Monkey, a friend gave us a magnetic rewards chart. According to DearDR, developmentally speaking, Monkey was still to young for such a tool, but it was nice to have and fun to play with all the little brightly colored magnets. (M&M’s worked for potty training.)

The thing has been hanging in our kitchen for about a year and a half. And after getting all kinds of advice regarding The Littlest Pet Shop toys and Monkey’s obsession with them (thanks, everyone!), I decided it was time to put the chart to work for me.

I sat down with Monkey this past Monday and explained what we were going to do so that she could earn money to get LPS stuff. She seemed interested and engaged.

We decided on six things she would or would not do on a daily basis. Before her nightly treat, she and I would decide how she did, and she would get a magnet (or not). If she has seven magnets in each category, she earns a quarter. If she has no magnets in a category, we subtract a dime. She can earn up to $1.50 a week. Does that sound like a lot? Maybe we should make it a dime for each row, subtract a nickel?

Here are the categories:
Clear the table
Put toys away
Share
Listen to Mommy (the magnet actually says Help Mommy, but she can’t read yet, so I get to make stuff up!)
No Whining (not surprisingly, to date, she has no magnets in this row)
No Temper Tantrums

She seems very motivated, and checks with me to see how she can get her magnets. She loves to clear the table; she needs help remembering to clean up her toys (even as she is ostensibly cleaning up her toys). Listening to me is also difficult, but more from an attention standpoint. I tell her to get undressed for her bath, for example, and I end up telling her about five or six more times because she has to look at a book, talk to her animals, go potty, chase Bun…. You get the idea, no?

Temper tantrums are de riguer for Monkey when things are not going her way. And if she is too tired or too hungry, they are worse. She can really work herself into a frenzy. I wonder why.

Thursday night, I told her no about something, and I could see her temper rising. She even started to yell and raised one foot for a stomp.

Then she stopped. She clapped her hands over her mouth, and put both feet on the floor. She took a breath.

“Oh,” she said. “I almost throwed a tremper pantrum, Mommy. I’m sorry.”

I picked my jaw off the floor, and praised her to the ceiling. (And later corrected her pronunciation.) I also gave her a magnet for it. (It’s the only one in the tantrum row so far. Baby steps.)

We may be onto something.

What I Am: Reading this Week

The very funny blokette at Angliophile Football Fanatic made a shocking discovery earlier this year, and set out to remedy the situation in true AFF style. She started a book club, but not just any book club. An online book club that would meet once a month and hereby be known as PMS: People Masquerading as Scholars.

The first book was About the Author by John Colapinto. I read it — and liked it, quite a lot — but I did not get to join the discussion due to the fact that it took place around the same time as my (pathetically early) bedtime. I hope to do better next month. (I’m still figuring out if you can view the chat.)

I love to read. I come from a family that loves to read. I hope to instill my love of reading in my girls.

Growing up, I read all the time, and I mean ALL THE TIME. My parents had to forbid me from bringing a book to the dinner table. In family movies, you can always find me: I’m the girl sitting at the picnic table reading a book while all my cousins are running around like nutters. My parents didn’t ground me by sending me to my room — where I just would have curled up with a good book — they made me go out and play with other kids.

I was a strange and solitary child.

Anyhoo, the point being: I like to read.

So in addition to all the other themes poking their heads up around here (hadn’t you noticed? No, I guess not. This is my third theme, with Meatless Monday and Lost Day) I am going to make Wednesday What I Am day. It will pertain to books and music, including kids’ music and/or books.

This week, I am reading two books. This happens very infrequently, for obvious reasons. And one of the reasons that I am reading two is that one of them I have read before.

I am on my third or fifth (probably the latter) time through Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkein. I got turned onto them by (surprise) DearDR when we were dating. He reads these books religiously. No, seriously: religiously. He quotes from them. He can tell you all of the differences between the movies and the books (we own several copies of the books, and all of the Peter Jackson-directed LOTR DVDs.) He knows all the themes and all kinds of stuff. In his other life, he is DearDR, Tolkein scholar.

I think it’s a problem, actually. I’m trying to get him to read the Harry Potter books for a change of pace. Or even the Narnia saga.

The other book I am tackling is The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I have heard lots and lots (and lots) about this book, and I finally had to read it for myself. I am very interested in it; I think I would actually be enjoying it a lot more if I got to read it in more than 5-minute stretches. So far, no go. I persevere, though, because, truly, I am interested in the subject. And the writing is pretty decent.

What are you reading this week?

It’s Official

I hate The Littlest Pet Shop.

It all started very innocently. Monkey got a LPS dollar-store knock-off doggie from “Santa” at dayschool. She adored it. We named him Bobble, and she carried him around every where with her for days. He came with this yellow hat-box shaped hutch, and a little teddy bear, and she just loved playing with him.

Since she liked Bobble so much, I decided that “Santa” at preschool would bring her another little pet. I picked out a bunny that also came with a teddy bear, and a pink slipper in which to sleep. The bunny was dubbed Clementine, and she and Bobble got along well.

For Christmas, I got Monkey the LPS Club House, which came with a squirrel (whose name I can’t recall) and a monkey (Salami), and a hammock, a skateboard, and some nuts and sardines. (I didn’t know monkeys ate sardines, but whatever.) Monkey — my Monkey — was in heaven.

She and Bun squabbled over them, of course. So the Binky Fairy brought Bun a turtle, which came with a wagon (to which he sticks by means of a magnet in his butt) and sunglasses — which don’t stay on his bugged out eyes. We call him Shades. Or, usually, just “tuttle”.

In terms of playing for hours, the LPS animals are wonderful. Monkey will arrange them, feed them, brush them, talk to them, endlessly. Bun just tends to grab and run, which sends Monkey screaming in pursuit, but most of the time, there are peaceful negotiations, and Monkey ends up with most of the animals. She has even begun incorporating other animals into the fold — not official LPS animals, per se, but any toy that fits into Monkey’s palm is fair game.

The problem is that the LPS club house came with what Monkey refers to as her “blue paper”. This is an 11″ x 17″ piece of LPS marketing collateral (it scares me that I know what it’s called) with all the permutations of LPS products on one side, and all the pets on the other. Monkey spends hours pouring over it. She brings it every where with her. The other day at church she had it with her, and she showed it to her preschool teacher, next to whom we ended up sitting.

She’s obsessed. She asks almost every day if we can buy something on that piece of paper. One product is the LPS Day Care, a three-story blue ‘house’ for all the LPS pets. This is the one for which she lobbies hardest. I have told her that she may get it for her birthday or Christmas. So now she checks every day how far away her birthday and Christmas are (nine and ten months, respectively — I’m going to start telling her how many days away; maybe it’ll discourage her). She tells me what pets she wants and in what order.

I made the tactical error of getting each of the girls LPS pets that came in plastic backpacks for Valentine’s Day yesterday. I thought it would scratch the itch for awhile, if you know what I mean. Monkey got a horse and Bun got a kitty — or maybe vice versa, I’ve already lost track. They both preferred playing with their pets to actually eating breakfast, which made signing loan paperwork at the bank later that morning very difficult. The backpack contained another ‘blue paper’, which is good only because Monkey’s old blue paper was much the worse for wear. It had been taped and re-taped and was still falling apart. She slept with the blue paper.

Now she wants the bird that comes in a backpack, too. She asked for it about five minutes after Bun opened her kitty (or horse). I nearly lost it.

So how do I co-exist in peace with toys that I bought for Monkey (and Bun, but she doesn’t ask to buy a new one every day — yet) but secretly want to throw out now? Toys that she clearly loves, and plays with, and cares for (mostly; those little pieces that come with them are very small and easily lost), but she only wants more of them? How do I help her be satisfied with what she has and stop asking me when she is getting more? How?

Punt

I was going to write Part II of the Valentine’s Day Saga, but too much is going on. Some of it is good, and some of it really really sucks. All of it is stressful in various and sundry ways.

So instead, enjoy a few photos from Monkey and of Monkey and Bun.


Silly Faces (I think the latest babysitter took this. She’s a keeper.)


Mama in the Morning. This photo looks how I feel before coffee.
Good work, Monkey. Conceptual digital pictures!


Bun in the Morning. Monkey is holding the camera very steady here.


Meet Some of Monkey’s Little Friends


Bun’s Devil Ducky


Perspective

Lost Day: This Place is Death

Woah.

Wow.

I’m a little short on the theories today, I must admit.

Although I was correct (too bad I didn’t actually write this theory down already!): John moves the donkey wheel. So… He’s not supposed to go back. Neither is Ben, as we know. Now John’s dead, and Ben sure seems determined to head back to the Island — with John’s body to boot. At the end of the episode, Mrs. Hawking (I think I’ve been spelling her name wrong) seems inclined to send him, too.

Okay, so who was Charlotte’s fit about? Sun? Did she actually say “Don’t bring Sun back” or “Don’t bring your wife back”? She may have been referring to Ji Yeon. The likelihood of Sun bringing Ji Yeon to the Island seems pretty slim anyway. And: was that Charlotte having that fit? Was it the voice of the Island or some other entity from the Island?

And what is up with Rousseau? What is the smoke monster? A possessor? “You’re not Robert,” Rousseau raves. “That thing changed you.”

I was really touched when Sawyer and Jin found each other and hugged. I’m clearly turning into a Lost sap.

Lost brings back the humor! I am loving this season just for that. Locke to Christian Shepherd: “Can you help me up?” Beat. Christian to Locke, “No.”

I also liked how Sayid just walks away from the Oceanic 6 “reunion”. He clearly wants no part of this scene. Ben, for once, was clearly at a loss. He was so close to having everyone together, but now he’s down four: Kate, Aaron, Hurley, and Sayid. Also, I think his tantrum in the car was staged.

Incidentally, Sawyer without a shirt is all well and good, but I would like a little more of Sayid without a shirt. If that can be arranged, please. I mean, the man looks fine in a suit and all, but bring back the black tank top!

Sorry about the lack of theories and only having more questions. I will try to get myself together better for next week.

Oh, and RIP, Charlotte Staples Lewis.

Well, you know, she’ll probably be back, one way or another.

Edited to add: Doc Jensen tells me something I missed about Charlotte’s dad. He says it was revealed in Season 4 that her dad is Dave Lewis from Dharma. So, shoot down my Widmore theory. Although someone somewhere said Widmore may be Daniel’s dad. He’s so very protective of Penny, though, I somewhat doubt this. But, you know, it’s Lost. Anything is possible.

Best Intentions

I was going to throw up a post later this morning. It was going to be quick and short and random, mostly about how having to do laundry next door is putting a drag on my evening computer activities (blogging, plurking).

But now, Monkey is crying about how much her ear hurts, and she just threw up a lot of spit — not vomit — on my rug. So I’ll just throw this up now — no pun intended — to still be in compliance with Blog365. And then take her to the doctor.

Incidentally, took Bun to the ENT yesterday. She has fluid in her ears, but no infection. The doctor advised waiting at least three months, and rechecking her ears at that time. Barring infection of course.

More later.

Update: Indeed, Monkey has a raging ear infection in her left ear. No fever, no cold symptoms, and no more volumes of spit on the floor. I got the prescription filled and took her to daycare.

Today’s doctor suggested maybe removing her tonsils and/or adenoids may help with the infections. She said that the effectiveness of tubes is under review — Children’s wants to do another study. She asked if Monkey snores at night, and I said yes, she does. Monkey snores very loudly at night; she gives her daddy a run for his money in the sawing logs department. So it’s something else to look into.

The Internet, of course, has a variety of information and opinions, for and against. I’ll have to do more research, and probably see another specialist. And I wonder what impact this will have on Bun.

I just want the ear infections to end, and I get queasy when I consider all the antibiotics my girls get. I thought that Monkey would have outgrown them by now, but she hasn’t. The only year she missed having infections was from 2 to 3 years old.

Coincidentally, the same year that I was a SAHM. Bring on the mommy guilt!

I am very tired of doing this year after year. And even if Monkey were to outgrow them this year, I would still have another two years to go with Bun. What to do?

Some days, being a mommy is harder than others.

Meatless Monday: A New Recipe (Finally!)

I have served this dish twice, and it’s been extremely well-received both times. It is quick, it is easy, and it is delicious.

I will add: Monkey doesn’t like it — too many different foods. However, Bun liked it.

Adapted from Vegetarian Times:

1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
1 8-oz. bag (2 cups) shredded 6-cheese Italian blend, divided
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 6-oz. bag baby spinach
2 1-lb. pkgs. gnocchi
1 16-oz. jar garden-style tomato sauce, warmed*

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine ricotta, 3/4 cup shredded cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, and red pepper flakes in large bowl. Sprinkle spinach over cheese mixture.**

2. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Spoon cooked gnocchi over spinach and cheese with slotted spoon. Cover bowl, and let stand 2 minutes, or until spinach is wilted. Stir to combine spinach, ricotta mixture, and hot gnocchi.

3. Meanwhile, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in bottom of 11- x 7-inch glass baking dish. Spoon half of gnocchi-cheese mixture over tomato sauce. Top with 3/4 cup tomato sauce and 3/4 cup shredded cheese. Spread remaining gnocchi over tomato sauce. Top with remaining 3/4 cup tomato sauce, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake 15 minutes, or until heated through.

*The second time, I used homemade marinara, and I think it turned out better than when I used a jarred sauce. If I’m not tooting my own horn, there.

** The second time, I also steamed the spinach before-hand for a couple of minutes in the microwave, and it was easier to mix.

Random Thoughts: A Baker’s Dozen

1. DearDR is bound and determined to lease a car. We talked it to death this weekend — when we started talking to each other again — and it’s just what is going to happen. He made some very good points that were backed up by research, so I’m all: “Go to it.” We should *fingers crossed* have a new-ish car this weekend.

2. Monkey lately has been Li’l Miss Malaprop. When she gets a boo-boo, she asks if it’s going to “bleet”. Today in the car, she asked what extinct meant (they’re talking about dinosaurs in preschool). I explained that it meant there weren’t any left. “Like the dinosaurs,” I said.”They aren’t any dinosaurs alive.”

“Yay!” she yelled in the back seat. “Dinosaurs aren’t allowed!”

3. Holy cats! They are talking about dinosaurs in preschool! What’s up with that? May be time for a trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

4. In addition to watching Mamma Mia! this weekend, I watched Stardust. What a great little movie! I loved the book — I love Neil Gaiman’s writing — and I’m so glad the movie was enjoyable. If your tastes run to The Princess Bride or Harry Potter or the Narnia movies (I’m looking at you, N), you won’t be disappointed.

5. Not having a washer at my disposal stinks. DearDR, in addition to finding that car this weekend, has to fix that hose. I hope it’s just the hose leaking.

6. Anyone have experience baking with a preschooler? Monkey and I made pretty good chocolate chocolate chip cookies on our snow day, but it felt very challenging to me: “Don’t put your fingers in the batter. Don’t pick your nose and then touch the spoon. Wash your hands again. No, you can’t have more chocolate chips.” Am I doing something wrong??

7. I am not the most confident of bakers in any case. I love to cook — I should really get back to Meatless Monday around here, try some new recipes. But baking is not a strong point of mine. And, no, I did not bake from scratch. Monkey opened a box of Jiffy Devil Food cake mix at my in-laws while we were staying there, and I had to do something with it.

8. I am pretty sure that the only reason Monkey wanted to help me bake cookies was to lick the spoon.

9. My driveway is a sheet of ice. I have to solve this problem, if not this year, then before the first snowfall next year. I am thinking of looking around for a plowing service. In the meantime, I think DearDR and I need to get a ton of sand and/or kitty litter.

10. There was a flock of 31 turkeys in my front yard and driveway the other day. And a turkey slipping on ice? Is pretty funny looking.

11. DearDR wants to do something for Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been big on Valentine’s Day.

12. And, yes, that may have something to do with Dave M dumping me on Valentine’s Day in sixth grade.

13. So, what should we do?

Public Service Announcement

An open letter to husbands:

Your wife’s birthday is a very, very special day. And it should be treated accordingly.

It is the day that the beautiful woman whom you charmed (and/or conned) into marrying you was born.

It is the day that (in many cases) the mother of your children was brought into this world. Which means, also, that it is the day that your green bean supplier was born.

You like green beans, don’t you?

Go to the calendar — now, go — and mark the day of your wife’s birth on it. Big, bold lettering — use a sharpie, maybe a couple of stickers. Make it stand out on your palm pilot — have it play her favorite song on your work computer calendar.

On the day of your wife’s birthday, do something special. Actually, do whatever she decides she wants to do to make it special.

If it’s on a weekend, get up, and get yourself and the kids out of the house. Let her sleep in on her birthday. You and the kids can pick up her present now, or some cards, maybe even a birthday cake. Doesn’t have to be fancy, but chocolate will probably win you some points.

Do something that lets her know you are aware that it is her special day, and that you, too, celebrate the day that she was born. Send flowers to the office. Leave a wrapped present under her pillow. Make her breakfast, or lunch, or dinner.

Hire a babysitter and take her out. Or send the kids to your parents’ (or her parents’) house over night, and stay in. Light some candles.

Buy her a spa certificate. Or even better: schedule her a spa day on her birthday. Drop her off, and let her know you’ll come get her in a couple of hours.

Do not, under any circumstances, do something you want to do on her birthday. Do not buy her a present that you would like for her birthday. I understand that sometimes husbands get confused and think what they like is what their wives like. Please disabuse yourselves of this notion, stat. (Credit: BurghBaby)

And if your wife wants to go out to dinner with you and the kids, then go. Even if it means going up to the horribly crowded consumer mecca nearby. Entertain the children during the wait, eat at a family-friendly place. Take them to the germ pit at the mall and let your wife shop for a little bit. It’s her birthday.

If you are angry with your wife, put it aside. Please do not ruin her birthday by fighting with her — or fight with her early enough that you can get it all out of the way soon, before dinner or her spa day. You have a right to your anger, but she has the right to her special day. Work it out.

Remember: Birthdays are not just for children. (Credit: ClumberKim)

Also remember: Before you and the children came along, her birthday was a day all for her, a day that she probably set aside to do something on her own: go to a museum or a movie, or spend a day in a bookstore or a coffee shop, reading a book.

Christmas is about the kids (and baby Jesus); everyone does something special on Valentine’s Day; Easter is a weird day to give gifts; Mother’s Day… she tends to think that’s for your mother (you have to train the kids to treat her special on this one). One day out of the year, her birthday should be “her day”. You have the power to make it so. You can make it or break it, buddy.

Make it.

Let it all be about her and whatever she wants.

Love it. Love her. Show it. Celebrate it.

She deserves it.