Monday, August 31, 2009
To explain my day today, I'm going to take what scientists (and many other like-minded professionals) call a "cross section". A 60-second cross-section, in fact. It took me a while to figure out exactly which 60 seconds would best represent my day, but I think I chose well. Please, indulge me for a minute. (Ha ha ha.)

BOY: Mommy, I'm hungry.
ME: I'm cooking dinner right now.
BOY: Mommy, please put my Lego together.
ME: Please take the bowl of ice to the kitchen and dump it in the sink.
GIRL: Mommy, I need my paci and my drink.
ME: I'll get your drink. Your paci is under the couch by your feet.
EMMA: Please get it.
ME: No. You get it.
EMMA: But I can't.
JACK: (screaming) MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMEEEEE!!!!!!
ME: What? What is it?
EMMA: Mommy, my paci!
JACK: (waving arm in air and screaming) My finger. I cut it on a piece of ice (e.g. broken glass). It's bloody.
ME: Stop waving it around. You're flinging blood everywhere.
EMMA: Mommy, my paci and my drink! Jack, you're too loud!
ME: (handing Jack a clean rag) Stand still. Hold your arm up and press this on it.
JACK: (screaming louder) But it hurts.
ME: Jack, it's already stopping bleeding. Look.
JACK: Don't make me look at it. I can't look at it.
EMMA: Mommy, I'm hungry. Please find my paci.
JACK: Mommy, I need a Band Aid.
EMMA: (holding nose) Ewww...I don't like that smell.
ME: What smell?
JACK: Mommy! Look! Smoke!
ME: %$*#! (rushing in to the kitchen)
JACK: Mommy, my Band Aid.
EMMA: Juice box!
JACK: (to ME) Who are you calling?
ME: The pizza guy.
JACK & EMMA: Yeah!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
It has been a very long day at our house. Instead of going out, I opted to stay home and get some things done. This is a very rare occurrence in our house, so around 2 o'clock this afternoon, everyone was getting completely stir crazy. The problem was that I didn't want to leave. I was in the tidying zone and that doesn't happen often.

By 3 o'clock, I was subjected to a nearly constant stream of "Mommy, I bored" or "Mommy, this is not fun." Hearing this once is bad enough, but a full on assault every few minutes quickly made me wish I were a violent person. Who was it that said the best cure for boredom is Mommy boredom? I think they are so wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I'm thinking of taking out an ad in all the major parenting mags to let everyone know that he/she is a liar.

I was completely baffled by how to address this problem. My frustration was quickly stumping my creativity. On principle, I didn't want to give in and take them out. I also didn't want to have to turn into the family entertainer.

So now I'm looking for advice. How do you respond to this scenario? Are you as flummoxed as me or do you have a fail safe response? I have a feeling that this will not be the first time I am confronted with this and I want to fill up my parenting toolbox with as many chainsaws and power drills as possible.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Tonight my daughter and I had the following conversation:

ME: Emma, shall we read "No, David" tonight?
ME: Well, what do you want, then.
EMMA: "No, David"
ME: You just said you didn't want "No, David." Do you me to read it then?
EMMA: No. I want "No, David".

Right. Moving on...
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I'm going to take a giant leap in logic here and hypothesize that most of the people who find themselves at Tips from the Trenches are, in fact, parents or are likely to soon become parents.

Because Tips makes every effort to be both compelling and useful, I thought I would take a few precious minutes out of my busy schedule to bestow upon my reader(s) some wisdom regarding efficiency.

Today, while I was multi-tasking on the porcelain goddess, it occurred to me that it might be useful for us to share some things that we do to be more efficient. Some of these things are pretty benign, but others are just pure parenting genius.

Here are some things I've a learned through trial and (lots of) error:

  • Never go anywhere without something in your hands that needs to go where you are going. Empty hands=wasted trip.
  • Never just sit on the potty. Get dressed. Brush your teeth. Remove nail polish. Clean out your handbag. Pay some bills. Send e-mail (but be forewarned that any multi-tasking around water with electronics is particularly risky). Also, it is not preferrable to talk on the phone, but I guess that is up for debate.
  • Never ask your kids to do something that you may as well just do yourself. (Remember, we are talking about efficiency here. Not overall parenting prowess.)
  • Never take the kids with you. Anywhere.
  • The pool is considered both fun and a bath.
  • Never vaccuum under anything. Out of sight. Out of mind.
  • Never manually wash your own car. The kids will only want to "help" and a trip through the automatic car wash can be an excellent disciplinary tool.
  • While dropping fully clothed children in the tub may seem like an efficient way to get clothes and kids clean simultaneously, it isn't. Been there. Done that. (The problem is that laundry powder is not suitable for their "tender" skin. Blah. Blah. Blah.)
  • Instead of ironing wrinkled items, it is more efficient to throw them in the dryer while you get on with something else, such as, well, just about anything is better than ironing really.
  • Buy uncomfortable furniture. The less they want to sit, the better chance you have of finding a place without wasting time on arguing about it.
  • Always wear a bra or panties with strong elastic. Strong elastic can hold a surprisingly large amount of stuff. Since we didn't grow and extra arm when we were pregnant, this is a great way to get a third hand.
  • Never carry something when you can throw it.
  • Tidy up only once a day. After bed time. I know this probably sends shivers down the baby soft skin of many of your souls, but really. Efficiency is important. How else will you get time for Facebook?

OK, I'm spent. Please, please, please, share your efficiency tips. Think of it as your "green" act for today. Efficiency is very ecologically friendly....did you know?

Just thought I'd knock a few things of my list:
  • Fill up car
  • Doctor's appointment
  • Shoes for school
  • Lunch
  • Unpack more boxes
  • Update blog
Sunday, August 16, 2009
For those of you who know me, you have probably figured out that I don't predict results particularly well. I'm habitually clumsy and am often surprised when disaster rears its ugly, vicious, fire breathing head. I've even, through extensive research, scientifically determined that in an emergency, I most likely would go out in a panicked blaze of unpreparedness.

Which brings me to a "quiet" morning (about 6 weeks ago) at the top of my stairs. I was listening to the kids peacefully discuss whose fault it was that the walls got accidentally painted in green Crayola paint while thinking about a lovely dream I'd had the night before where I was on a plane crashing in to the North Pole (must be thinking about Christmas shopping already). I'd just arranged to drop my kids with my MIL so I could get some errands done at lightening speed in preparation for our 2-week beach vacation in three days which also happen to coincide with my son's sixth birthday. (The numbers alone are staggering.)

It was then that I started my tenth leisurely stroll that morning down the stairs. I didn't think I was unusually distracted, but that's what I get for thinking, I guess. The next thing I remember was a nasty popping, cracking sound accompanied by a wrenching, ripping, popping sensation and MEGA PAIN! I was lying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs calmly reviewing my emergency preparedness plan while screaming some of my long lost-to-parenting favorite words.

It took a couple of seconds before I realized that my kids were standing in the doorway looking a little worried. The problem was I was alone with 2 young children and I was totally out of my mind in pain.

Lucky me, I'd fallen near my handbag. I was able to extract my newly acquired iPhone and began to call by EMT brother for advice. I was pretty sure I'd broken my leg in half, but I very reasonably wanted to check with him first. (I was very calm, you see.) When he didn't answer, I called just about everyone else in my phone. No one was answering. I was starting to sweat because of the pain. The only thing I could think of was that I didn't want to call my sister-in-law because she just started her job and it would not be good if she had to leave unexpectedly.

After not being able to reach my husband who was a 2-hour drive away, I decided that calling my SIL was the only option. Of course, she answered on the first ring. And, of course, immediately came to help. She was able to get in touch with my EMT brother who told me to call an ambulance. Which I did.

Then, I realized it was time for a little damage control. I smiled bewitchingly at my children, explained that I had fallen down the stairs (duh!), that I thought I'd broken my leg (duh!), and that they were not to worry because I'd called an ambulance and both Uncle Hugh and "Tato" were coming to help. I also slipped in a mention that they were not to repeat any of the new words they might have learned that morning.

It was at this point that I realized my front door is both locked and ridiculously hard for me to open. All at once, I knew that I couldn't do it and it would be almost impossible for my son. I was imagining the fire department showing up and breaking down the door to get to me lying gracelessly at the bottom of the stairs surrounded in packing materials from our move a few days earlier.

Fortunately, my son understood the importance of what he needed to do. (After I explained it, of course, in response to the "but I can't" complaints.) Just in time, he was able to turn the key and yank the door open as the ambulance, my brother, and his wife pulled up.

It turned out that the paramedics didn't think it was majorly broken and they were able to wheel me down the front steps to my brother's car in an odd wheel chair contraption so he could take me to the ER and they could get on with helping people who really needed it. After a surprisingly quick ER trip, I was booted, crutched, and returned to the ever patient hands of my children who were none the worse for wear. (Except a near paralyzing fear of the stairs, that is.)

To make a short story even longer, here's the moral. Plan a little. Even a teeny, tiny bit. Many of us, especially if you are a military spouse, spend enormous amounts of time alone for extended periods (days, weeks, even months). Prepare yourself and your kids for when something "out of the ordinary" happens. Explain what they would have to do if an ambulance arrived at your house one day. Let them know that an "official" (Child and Family Services) might be responsible for getting them to a family member safely if you cannot drive them there yourself. Show them where the phone is. Discuss your emergency plan with people upon whom you expect to rely for help. And, above all, remind them that they should always wear clean underwear and mind their manners.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
My 6-year old son started his first session of Vacation Bible School yesterday. Since we don't actually spend that much time in church and I'm completely out of my depth when the subject of religion comes up, I was both surprised and flummoxed when he bounced out of his room before going to VBS on the first morning to engage me in the following conversation.

HIM: Mommy, you know something? I know God is real.
ME: Huh?
HIM: I said, I know God is real.
ME: Oh, really? Wow.
HIM: Yes. My friend, Stephen, isn't so sure, but after we talked about it, he said he might change his mind.

Next time, I'll get my caffeine before I leave my room.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Never, ever, ever, ever go on vacation for 2 weeks without first making sure your 2-year old didn't place a half-eaten banana in the trash can after you took the last batch of trash out.

Fruit flies don't need much food to survive, they don't live long, and the fornicate like, well, like fruit flies.

Now, please, submit your tips for ridding of them.
Monday, August 3, 2009
The good news: My daughter is just about done with potty training.

The bad news: She's discovered a passion for flushing the toilet. Over and over and over again. Too bad she doesn't think of it unless I'm in the shower and she's come in to talk. Worse than that is when I tell her that flushing the toilet uses all the cold water and makes the shower too hot, she giggles and flushes.

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