Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bedtime on Vacation

Well, if you've read this blog thoroughly, as I'm sure you have, ahem, you'll know that bedtime for us isn't easy. While it's better than it was, it's still not the smoothest experience. But who knew I'd be desperately craving our clunky bedtime ritual this week while on vacation? Because bedtime on vacation sucks. Sucks hard.

My family rented a lake place for the week. We moved in Saturday evening. It's beautiful-- right on the lake, enough space for everyone, nice yard. Of course, the owner has an unsettling collection of chickens and roosters, but other than my mom being a little afraid of the dead chicken eyes always upon her, it's fantastic.

That is, it was fantastic until bedtime. There's something about the house's construction that makes every tiny little noise amplified about a million times. That paired with being in a strange place, a different bed, and the knowing that there is a lot of fun out there waiting to be had for those not going to bed, makes for a shitty, shitty bedtime.

We nabbed the downstairs/basement part of the house, because Norah goes to bed before others, and we thought it would be nice for everyone if they could go about their business as she slept. But as we were downstairs, people going about their business sounded like a construction site. Every footstep sounded like the floor was about to crash down upon us. Every creak of the door sounded like a screeching harpy. The boats on the lake might as well have been a lawn mower on the other side of the couch. As I cuddled her on the couch downstairs in the dark, she couldn't help but be distracted.


"What's that, Mommy?"

"It's just Nana and Papa going to bed."


"What's that?"

"It's just Papa saying goodnight to Hannah." [Their dog.]


"What's that?"

"Just someone Mommy's trying to decapitate with her mind."

"What's cap-tate?"

"Close your eyes, Sweetie."

When I finally got her down to sleep, I was so tired, I went to bed as well. Then a few hours later, I heard:

"Mommy? I need up."


I tried to remember that she was probably nervous about being in a new place, and to be understanding, but I am also fighting a cold and my tolerance level, which is usually about a niner, was down to approximately a two.

I scooped her up and brought her to the daybed, where I was sleeping. (Ryan had to work, so he wasn't there yet.) Daybeds are small-- twin-sized. I laid her down and closed my eyes. She chattered a little while. Started playing with her feet. Started kicking the oil painting above the bed. Kicked me in the boob so hard, tears squeezed out of an eye. I stayed silent. My goal was to bore her to sleep. It eventually worked.

Once sleeping, I tried to scooch her over a bit. I can't sleep when I'm being touched or if I'm too hot. Every time a scooched her, she would slip right back, head in my neck, whole body against me, like a sweaty, 28-pound tumor.

I got up and moved her back to her bed, trying to hold in a phlemy cough as to not wake her. It, of course, erupted out of my mouth like a giant juicy hack, and I heard:

"No, Mommy."

I went to the couch and started over.

"What's that?"

"The wind, Baby."

"What's that?"

"Mommy's brain exploding."

"Nooo. You're silly."

When I got her down again and placed her in her little bed, I went back to the daybed, almost giddy to close my eyes. Then one of my nostrils got clogged (summer colds are the worst), and I laid there for another eon, flipping from side to side to get it to unclog so I could breath semi-normally. Awesome.

Please pray with me. All together now. May the rest of vacation have happy, peaceful sleep.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fairy Tale Friday: Little Red Riding Hood

I will shorten this story and make it better.

"What's in the basket, baby?"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fairy Tale Friday: Hansel and Gretel

I will shorten this story and make it better.

"Look. We're broke. We don't have enough food for all of us. I say we dump those freeloading little bastards out in the woods to fend for themselves."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Toddler Conversations


Me: It's bedtime. Time to close your eyes.
Norah: Leave me alone.
Me: Daddy's going to bed, too.
Norah: Leave us alone.
Me: We're all on the same team. Tonight I'm the team captain. We're going to sleep.
Norah: [Eddie Murphy laugh] You're a pirate.

Relating to Other Kids at Daycare

Me: Look! Some Kid is wearing the same shirt you have!
Norah: [Looks down] Nooo.
Me: I mean, you have that same shirt at home, don't you? With the parrot?
Norah: [Grabbing Some Kid's shirt] MY SHIRT!
Me: No, Honey, that's not yours!
Norah: [tearing up] You gave her my shirt?
Me: No, Honey! Let's go look at some Legos.

Potty Time

Me: Let's sit on the potty before bath time.
Norah: I don't have to go potty.
Me: Let's just try.
Norah: NO! I don't have to go potty.
Me: We'll just sit for a minute.
Norah: [small wail]
[strip down]
[sitting on potty]
Norah: [stands up] No pee pee.
Me: Can you try a little longer?
Me: [sighs] Okay, Honey. Let's go in the tub.
Norah: I pee peed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time-out update!

I am totally jinxing everything by posting this, but...

I think we actually taught Norah something valuable.

Neighbor Girl and Other Neighbor Girl came over last night to play. (Completely uninvited, of course.) All three girls sat down by our walkway with sidewalk chalk and began their creations. Norah stepped on Other Neighbor Girl's drawing of a girl with a heart head.

ONG: Norah! Watch out!
Norah: I'm sorry.

Then she came running up to me and said, "I said I'm sorry, Mommy!" I replied, "Good manners, Noonie."

Ho. Lee. Shit. Is this what it feels like to do something right? It's good stuff.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fairy Tale Friday: Snow White

I will condense this story and make it better:

"Who is the fairest of them all?"

"There you go, sister."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Time Out

We gave Norah her first time out. It failed miserably.

Norah and Neighbor Girl were playing in the sandbox as Ryan, my sister, and I sat gabbing. The sand was pretty damp, being that she had dumped cup after cup of water in it the day before trying to make rivers. She shook her hands and globs of sand landed in Neighbor Girl's hair. Neighbor Girl sort of froze and looked like she might cry.

Ryan: Norah, be careful. You shook sand all over Neighbor Girl. Say you're sorry.
Norah: No.
Ryan: Norah, can you say, "I'm sorry" to Neighbor Girl?
Norah: Nooo.
Ryan: If you don't say you're sorry, you're getting a time out.
Heather: Really? Are we doing this? Now?
Ryan: Say you're sorry.
Norah: No.

Ryan stood up and plucked Norah out of the sandbox, then sat her in her tiny camping chair. She started to cry.

Ryan: Norah, the reason you're in a time out is because you won't say you're sorry to Neighbor Girl. Now you have to sit here for one minute.

He sat back down and looked at the time on his cell after channeling SuperNanny. My sister and I looked at each other, not really knowing what to say. Norah sobbed.

Heather: Well this is officially the longest minute ever.

After a minute of crying and pleading eyes, Ryan went to Norah and crouched down.

Ryan: Norah, the reason you had to sit in your chair for a minute was because you didn't apologize to Neighbor Girl for putting sand in her hair. You can play if you say you're sorry.
Norah (sobbing): Noooo.
Heather: Honey, can you say, 'I'm sorry?'
Norah (sobbing): Nooooo.
Ryan: Then you have to sit here for another minute.

I looked at Ryan and my sister in panic. Neighbor Girl stepped out of the sandbox and stared at all of us. Norah wept and looked horribly confused.

Heather: Why won't she just say she's sorry? I don't get it. I ask her to say lots of words and she does.
Sarah: I don't think she understands the concept.
Heather: I say it a hundred times a day. Ryan tells me to stop saying it so much.
Norah (sobbing): I play.

Ryan also looked panicked now. We were not doing this right. She was supposed to sit in the chair quietly and contemplate the interaction in question and then look down remorsefully and apologize to Neighbor Girl. He crouched down by Norah again.

Ryan: Honey, sometimes when we accidentally do something that makes someone sad, we need to say 'I'm sorry.'
Sarah: Like if someone bumps into you. They didn't mean to, but they say they're sorry.
Heather: Watch!

I smacked my sister's arm.

Heather: I'm sorry Auntie Sarah. I didn't mean to hurt you.
Ryan: It's good manners.
Heather: Yes! Like please and thank you. When we do something like fling sand in someone's hair, we have to say sorry.
Sarah: Can you say you're sorry?
Norah (sobbing uncontrollably): NOOOO.

We were all clearly trying to end this horror, but save face at the same time. It wasn't working.

Heather: Oh, ff... forget this.

I can't even remember if I scooped her up and held her or if Ryan or Sarah did, but Norah got some cuddles and kisses and was returned to the sandbox with the very confused Neighbor Girl. After a few minutes, all was well.

Heather: That was a major fail. Why didn't she just apologize?
Sarah: I just think she knows an apology is kind of important, and doesn't want to say it unless she knows why.

We chatted a little more, and thought Sarah's point was valid. It would take some practice, I guess. And maybe next time we wouldn't have an audience looking on in horror.

So that's the story of Norah's first time out. Which proved embarrassing, for Norah, Ryan and I as bumbling idiots, awkward for Sarah and Neighbor Girl, and elicited a visit from Neighbor Mom, surprisingly, to see if her daughter was the source of the tantrum. I hope SuperNanny is streaming on Netflix.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


We got new neighbors. This isn't shocking, as the duplex next to us has pretty high turnover. And we've had some doozies. The drug dealers, the evil kids, the perpetual garage sale people. This time it's a family. They have three young children.

At first I thought, hey, some little friends for Norah. Hooray! Ryan thought somewhat differently.

"Don't even wave to them."

Ryan's philosophy, while antisocial, did make some sense. What if we strike up a friendship and they turn out to be losers or assholes or something. I agreed.

A few weeks rolled by. Then one day, Norah was out playing with her water table. The little neighbor girl sat on her bike staring. Then she started honking the little horn on her bike. Norah noticed and looked at me.

"She plays with me."

I thought for a few minutes. What could it hurt?

"You can ask her to play with you," I said.

Norah ran over into the neighbor's yard and shouted, "Come play with me!" I walked over and told the girl she had to ask her mom. Eventually, Norah and Neighbor Girl were having a good ol' time in our yard.

I sat in a chair watching and thinking, isn't that nice. Then suddenly I heard a voice.

"Can I play, too?"

There was another little girl standing by me. She told me she lives across the alley. Now there were three. And then her brother came over. And then Ryan pulled into the driveway.

I saw his face go from expressionless to majorly irritated. He walked over and I blamed Norah. Shameful, but true.

Probably because I didn't want to be blamed for what was inevitably to happen next.

Saturday I had a couple friends, Amy and Sara, over. While we enjoyed some grown-up time, Ryan watched Norah and her BFF Samantha. Soon the girls came inside to play, and I noticed there was a third.

"Ryan! Neighbor Girl can't be inside! Her parents are going to freak!"

"She asked and they didn't care."

"They didn't care that their four-year-old was in a stranger's house without them?"



Then she came over Sunday. No Neighbor Parents in sight. I just sighed and let it go.

Then Monday. Ryan got off early, and we were sitting outside in the shade during one of my breaks (I work from home). Norah was at daycare.

"Hi!" Neighbor Girl called, running into the yard.

"Honey, Norah's not here. She goes to school all summer."

"I don't have school."

I blinked. "Yes, well... Norah does. She won't be home until 5."

She stood there, staring.

"So... off you go."


"...See you later."


"You can come over later, okay?"

She ran off.

Later that day, Ryan came into the office and announced that Other Neighbor Girl was just outside sitting in a patio chair.

"Son of a..." I muttered. I sent him off to be the bad guy.

So is this our life now? Constant neighbor kids? Heather's Free Babysitting Service? I don't like it. I don't want to be the "cool mom" or have the house where kids hang out. Or where they get hurt and I get sued. And sure, they seem nice, and it appears that they're craving some attention. Ugh. Just typing that made me feel guilty. But why is it my problem? I have no idea what to do.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fairy Tale Friday: The Three Little Bears

Here's a new thing I'm trying: Fairy Tale Friday. This is where I take stories my toddler is super interested in, and I condense them and make them better.

Last night we read The Three Little Bears. It starts off with Papa Bear and Baby Bear bitching about their porridge being too hot. After that, they go for a walk so that their porridge can cool down, and trouble ensues.

Here's how I'd make it better:

"This porridge is way too hot."


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Toddler Questions

I knew this phase was coming. The Question Phase. And I know that the next phase is the "Why?" one. I guess I just know this from TV and other parents and other reliable sources. And at first it was cute. It's also good that children are curious and wanting to learn. It's good she trusts me (most of the time) to acquire information. Questions are good. This is what I keep telling myself.

Here is the transcript from our car ride to Grammy's house this morning:

Norah: "Where we going?"

Me: "Grammy's house."

"We see yellow bus?"

"Maybe! We'll have to look for one."

"What's that?"

"What's what?" I quickly look back to see what she's gesturing to.


"What's what?"


"I don't know what you're pointing to, Honey."

"What's that?"

I quickly look back. She's pointing to things out the window. "That's a bar."

"What's that?"

"That's a screen-printing place."

"What's that?"

"That's a soda machine."

"What's that?"

"That's a house."

"What's that?"

"That's a house."

"What's that?"

"That's a house."

"What's that?"

"That's another house."

"What's that?"

"It's a house."

We stop at a light.

"Who are they?"

I look over at a black SUV. "I don't know them, Honey."

"What are they doing?"


"Who are they?"

"Honey, I don't know everyone."

"Oh. What's that?"

"I don't know."

"What's that?"

"I don't know."

"What's that?"

"Honey, Mommy is driving. I don't know what you're pointing to."

"What's that?"

I look back. "It's your seatbelt."

"What's that?"

"Why don't you sing Mommy a song?"

"Hippity hoppity Easter's on it's waaaaay..... What's that?"

"I don't know."

"What's that?"

"I don't know."

"What's that?"

"I don't know."

"What's that?"

"For the love of God, I don't know."

"What's that?"

"Are you excited to play with CeCe?"

"What's that?"

"What do you think Grammy will make for breakfast?"

"What's that?"

I look back. "It's just some dude."

"Duuuude." She laughs a little like Eddie Murphy. "What's that?"

"I don't know."

"What's that?"

"Is this the new water boarding?"

"What's that?"

"That's torture."

"What's that?"

"It's when you ask too many questions."

"What's that?"

"Grammy's house!"