Thursday, October 30, 2008

If you can’t beat ‘em (which, of course, you can’t)…

…then you might as well join them. At least that’s what we’ve finally decided about Fiona and her sleep habits. Really, I am using the word “sleep” very loosely, because she has never slept well. We’ve tried everything from letting her cry it out to giving her bendryl. And nothing has worked. Sooooo… we decided to give in and accept the fact that, despite what my mother and all the other sleep experts out there say, the girl just doesn’t need as much sleep as other toddlers, and learn to enjoy getting up at FOUR AM! Or, if she’s sleeping until 6am, that hour or so that she spends awake at 2am. It’s always been either or. Either we get up somewhere between four and five o’clock in the morning, or we rock her back to sleep in the earlier hours of the morning.

For awhile it was a family affair. Ben (who has sleep habits that resemble Fiona’s) is getting up with her. Thank goodness, because after a year and a half of this nonsense, I was losing my good humor with the program. Anyway, Ben and Fiona would get up and go downstairs and share a cup of coffee, a cup of milk, and an Atkins bar. Well, I finally had to put the kabosh on the whole “bar” thing, because it didn’t take Fiona long to figure out that when she woke up, she got to have a yummy chocolate bar. So she would wake up at four o’clock or so ("or so" being the operating concept here), and before her eyes were fully open, she was calling out, “Baarrr, baaarrr…” It was her most clearly, carefully pronounced word, believe me! And, of course, it didn’t take long for Rachel to get in on the act too. Rachel, who has slept the dead for a good 12 hours a night for a couple of years now (thank goodness we have one good sleeper! Besides me, I’m a good sleeper, honest I am, I just need a CHANCE…), a sleep that usually would not be disturbed by a 24 piece brass band, would somehow spring instantly awake at Fiona’s first “Baaarrr!” So, we would all be awake at FOUR AM eating Atkins bars (the girls) and drinking a LOT of coffee (Ben and me). Ben thought this was kinda fun, but I could NOT see how it could come to a happy conclusion, so I put an end to Atkins bars at FOUR AM. Fiona still wakes up ridiculously early, Ben still gets up with her, but Rachel again sleeps until I cajole/threaten/harrass her little behind out of bed at 6:45.

So, we have a resolution of sorts, to the whole non-sleep thing. We, the adults, have finally decided to be happy about what we have been doing all along, which is getting up with Fiona at absurd hours. She will certainly grow up to become one of those people who needs very little sleep, and therefore accomplishes a great deal. President Fiona… kind of has a ring to it, eh?

First Field Trips and Other Adventures
Last week, (again, all of you who knew me 20 years ago, pause to remember…) I chaperoned Rachel’s first field trip. Fiona and I went along with our three Kindergarten classes on their trip to the pumpkin patch. This was no ordinary pumkin patch either. They had a “playground” with about 20 giant Halloween-themed play structures on steroids: giant (really giant, like 2 stories high) slides, tunnels, trains, hay heaps; they also had hayrides (well, tractor rides, as there was no hay and no horses of course) through a spooky woods and a petting zoo. There were about 5 other schools there on fields trips, and I have to say, it was lunacy. Fun lunacy, but lunacy nevertheless. The kids got to pick out a little pumpkin on the way out the gate, just to preserve the illusion of the pumkin patch. I learned 2 important things about field trips: 1) sign your husband up also/instead of yourself and, if that fails, 2) leave the toddler at home! Fiona had fun, but she was always going in the opposite direction of the 3 kindergarteners of whom I was in charge. And of course, none of them was going in the same directions as the others, either.

So, after that exhausting adventure (pictures after halloween, I promise), I fortunately had a chance to rest up. I had… drum roll, please… a WEEKEND AWAY!! A whole 36 hours with which to do exactly and only what I wanted. Wow! I took the train to Richmond, VA and met up with my dear, dear sister. We walked (a lot!) and talked (a lot!) and had a generally awesome time. We took the walking tour of Richmond, the canal tour, went shoe shopping, went to a few museums, found a couple of yarn shops (of course!), went to the farmers’ market, spent the afternoon eating and eating and eating at a fabulous Ethiopian restaurant and so on. I can’t believe how much we did! And somehow, it was really relaxing despite all this crazy activity. And, at the end, I was ready to go home to my wonderful family, and they were happy to see me (especially my wonderful, wonderful husband!!).

And now, we are all ready for Halloween. The pumkins are carved, the costumes (fairy and mouse) all laid out, the candy bought, and the plans laid. Oh, I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but we’ll have fun! I promise, pictures next week! Happy Halloween to all!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I knew it couldn't last

I must have spoken to soon! Yesterday (remember, everyone, The Perfect Day?) went a little off the skids, I have to say. After school, Rachel was positively mutinous and had to spend much time in her bedroom contemplating her choices (you know, like giving the stroller a good hard push and letting it go down a hill - with her sister in it. And then she locked me out of the house...).

Then, around the time I was making dinner (which turned out to be quite yummy for everyone but me - after all, it was still the perfect day), I started to feel a bit off. By bedtime, I was in the grips of a rather unpleasant flu. Still feeling very under the weather, with a fever, headache, and chills. Yuck! Next time I have a Perfect Day, I won't crow about it to the world, eh? This oughta teach me!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ahhhh... The Perfect Day

Now, most days I feel like I'm riding a runaway train straight towards a cliff. Usually, the kids and I look like one of those cartoons in which everyone is running in all different directions, usually right into the other guys. At least, it feels that way in my head. But not today! We started off with a sleep-in: Fiona slept until 5:50 am! We got up, got our coffee, etc. and about an hour later gently woke Rachel. Breakfast was prepared, but she got ready for school first, ate like a truck driver, and then finished the last few details before we all happily exited the house promptly at 7:45 am. No yelling, no whining, no fuss of any kind. Off to school with a skip, a smile and clothes that match! Yeah for us!

Fiona and I then went for a 4-mile run, again no whining, only considerable complaining on my part while I pushed the stroller up, up, up that long hill on Russell Road. Then back home, whereupon I took up my Tuesday chores (inspired by my friend Phuong, who seems to be in a good mood all the time, I have put myself on a daily chores schedule). And this is where the miracle happened. For an hour, I cleaned while Fiona kept herself busy with a variety of clever diversions provided by dear old mom. An hour, a whole hour! Usually I start cleaning, or whatever, and expect the girls to find something to do to keep themselves busy. But, after almost 6 years at this gig, I am finally getting smarter. So, this time, I was ready with a few tricks up my sleeve. Fiona drew with crayons, then I got out the playdough, then the beads for her to sort through. Then, of course, she read to herself for a good 15 minutes. Done with the chores! Yeah for Mom!

Now, things are going so well, that by this time it's only 10am. So we grab an apple (healthy snack! I am sooo on a roll this morning!) and head to the park. Fiona walked the whole way, about 1/4 of a mile or so, stopping only to pretend she was a crossing guard stopping traffic. Now, that was cute, and will please our real crossing guard no end to know she has inspired someone. So, to the park. We played in the sand box until Fiona threw a handful of sand down my shirt - again! This is her new trick. Whenever I am not paying careful attention, she crams a fistful of sand right down my shirt. Of course, she thinks this is hysterical, as do the other moms and nannies. And because they are laughing, I am laughing and cannot properly correct Fiona's rather funny bad behavior. So she thinks it's a great idea and keeps doing it. At this point we usually go play on the slides or something.

After the park, we came back home, where I prepared a nutritious lunch with representatives from each food group (gosh, anyone feeling queasy yet? I am so good, it's sickening!), which we ate vast quantities of, before happily toddling off to what I hope will be a 2.5 hour nap. And here we are! I am feeling so smug about this day that I am beginning to look over my shoulder. It's going too well!

One last note...
Anyone who has known me for at least the past 20 years (or has seen pictures/heard stories from that era) will probably get a big chuckle out of the news that last night was my first ever PTA meeting. Yes, I am a card carrying member of the PTA now. What next? After today, who knows!

All this perfection has worn me out completely and I must go take a little cat nap!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dash for Dad

On Sunday, I ran in the first annual Dash for Dad, a 10K road race to benefit an organization working on prevention/cure for prostate cancer. My dad was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, and Sunday was his birthday, so I thought it a fitting birthday gift/tribute. The girls both got up early (like, 5:15 am - on a Sunday! What's with that?!?) so Ben and I packed them up and headed out. They had fun waiting for me while I ran, and were there to cheer me across the finish line. It's such an inspiration to have them there, and gives me a good reason to smile as I cross the finish line. Goodness knows, my finish time was not making me smile, but I ended up 5th out of 13 in my age group, and 46th out of 172 women over all. So, not a total loss and I had fun. I do love to race, you know? Rachel also seems to thrive on the race atmosphere, and Fiona and Ben are mostly just hoping it's over soon! Above right, I am waving at the girls as I cross the line, and below, the girls are waiting, waiting, waiting...

Friday after school, Rachel's friend Grace came over for a playdate and dinner. They had a great time, playing dress-up, and making a considerable amount of art. Here's something Rachel did.

On Saturday, we kept trying to get out of the house to do something fun (like Air & Space Museum again), but every time Ben got off the phone it was nap and/or meal time. How aggravating! For no one more than Ben, I must say. Anyway, we finally made our escape in the late afternoon, going down to the river to feed the ducks. Not very original, but fun nevertheless. We also played in the "sandbox," a beach volleyball court in the park.

Kiss me, girl!

Everyone knows Rachel is the kissiest, huggiest girl on the planet, but Fiona is getting in on the act now too. She has recently discovered the power of the kiss. And boy, is she wielding it! She is all over everyone with those lips, and those arms, and she is NOT always gentle about it. She gives kisses to everything that she likes: me, Rachel, Maggie (cat), Ben, airplanes in the sky, other kids on the street, the TV, yummy food, you name it. And speaking of TV, Fiona has also discovered Thomas the Train. When the TV is off, she points to it and says "doo doo" which is "choo choo" and really gets upset when she can't watch it. She also gets a big kick out of playing with the train table at playgroup. And she even made a "choo choo" out of her big Lego blocks. It's an obsession. Now all we need are some Thomas books and we'll be all set!

Above, Fiona is watching Thomas the Train (lazy bones! I thought this was funny, because I am so used to Rachel's aerobic TV viewing habits), and at right is the "choo choo" she made yesterday. I should say that she did this with absoluetely no influence or help from me. It is a 100% original creation.