Six

Dear Charlotte,

Every year I say the same thing. I can’t believe how quickly time is going. How is it possible I’m writing you your sixth birthday letter? It seems like just yesterday you came into our lives, and here you are now, officially a big kid. When you turned five I felt like you still had some of that baby in you, but that’s gone now. You’re a big girl, like you like to tell me all the time.

I’m writing this after I just dropped you off at school and you were so excited to give out treats to your class to celebrate your birthday even though you repeatedly reminded me that it’s tomorrow, as if I’d forget. This past year has shown me how incredibly resilient you are in so many ways. Right after you turned five the pandemic flipped our lives upside down. Your pre-k days ended in the blink of an eye and we spent every moment together for months and months (and months). Sometimes we got sick of each other and we let each other know. I’ll never forget you standing on the couch shouting at me “I have had enough of being with you!” It has been a really hard year for so many people, but you have adapted. You started Kindergarten, you wear your mask and you don’t complain. You ask me every day if you can go to the building instead of “computer school” and I wish for anything to make that happen. But you are learning SO much. I never get tired of watching you write out words. You are so smart and always asking such great questions. I am so incredibly proud of you. I think you have handled this year better than most adults I know, me included.

You are a wonderful big sister to Mackenzie. Her eyes light up when she sees you in a way they don’t light up for anyone else. Seeing the both of you together brings me so much joy. You may refuse to feed her (“Mackenzie eats disgusting!”) but you help me out all the time, even when you say that I ask you to do everything.

You are a light in this world. You make my days better. You make all of our lives better. You are funny, even if you make the worst jokes known to man. Your “youtube” videos never fail to make me laugh. You are probably the most willful and unique child I know. In six years I have never gotten you to wear a single thing I’d like you to wear. In six years I’ve never been able to keep your hair up for longer than a half an hour. When I ask you why you always respond, “you know me!” You are creative and stubborn and independent. You are shy but when you open up, man what a force you are. I cannot wait to see where this life takes you. Being your mother is the greatest adventure and the greatest gift.

I love you my six year old. To the moon and back.

Spelling Bee

Now that Charlotte is really grasping the concept of reading, our daily lives have turned into a spelling bee. She is always asking someone to give her words to spell and she either recites them back or writes them down. Since she is getting half an education with remote learning, I’ve taken it upon myself to teach her a little more than she is learning on a computer. We’ve gone over words with -ck, -ch, -oo, -sh, -oy. You don’t realize how difficult it is to teach these things until you’re doing it, and I’m no teacher. But we are trying our best and 9 times out of 10 Charlotte knows when to add an -sh or a -ck to a word. She knows when to add Y to the end of a word, like play or say, and knows that boy and toy end in -oy. It’s really lovely to see how she is grasping all of this and I’m really proud of her!

And then you realize when reading and spelling can get you into trouble. Like when Charlotte came up to me the other day and said “S-H-I-T spells shit, right? It spells the bad word! It has the SH SH sound and then the I-T so it’s S-H-I-T?” And then when she asked me what f-o-o-c-k spells and I said it doesn’t spell anything and she responds with “if book has two O’s even though it has the U sound, then why isn’t the really bad word f-o-o-c-k?” S-H-I-T indeed.

I truly do not even know when the last time I wrote was. It’s crazy how every single day feels like the same endless abyss but then before you know it weeks have gone by and yet you’ve still accomplished nothing. BUT I accomplished getting Mackenzie to sleep in her crib all night AND for naps, so at least that’s something. I mean she still hasn’t slept through the night and she’s 8 months old but WHATEVER. I just make children that don’t sleep. We’re all fine.

So how is 2021 working out for everyone? Are we all loving the constant weekly snow storms that keep on hitting us? The frozen tundra we now find ourselves in? Eric and I have the absolute pleasure of watching our pool cover sink deeper and deeper into the middle of the pool with every storm we get and we do not believe it will survive one more. It would survive normally, but when we got the liner changed to a BRAND NEW LINER and then filled the entire pool for 3 days and then had the pool professionally closed, only to find out on CHRISTMAS DAY that ALL OF THE WATER IS GONE (but where? where did it go?) the cover has nothing underneath to hold it up against the onslaught of snow and ice. 2021 is just 2020’s sister with a wig on, ready to rumble and ruin us some more.

In other news, Mackenzie Mae is 8 months old! I truly can’t believe it. Charlotte’s first year felt like it went by quickly, but Mackenzie’s first year is basically light speed. She finally has two bottom teeth and is cutting two top teeth. She rolls more often than she did but she is still the laziest baby I have ever met. If she is sitting up and wants a toy she tries to reach for it, but if she can’t get it she just forgets about it. She doesn’t scream for you to help her, she just decides “if I can’t reach it, I don’t need it.” She is perfectly content laying and not moving and I highly doubt she will crawl at all and probably won’t walk before her first birthday, which I am perfectly fine with. A lazy baby is an easier baby to care for if you ask me. She is finally eating more food, which is great since every baby food company out there puts poisonous chemicals into their purees. Now I either have to make my own or buy the bougie kind for 9 dollars a pouch. Ugh. I’ve given her some table food but she hasn’t figured out the pincer grasp yet so she just shoves food in her fist, licks her hand and screams. She is the sweetest bundle of joy ever and I absolutely adore her.

Charlotte still hates remote school and cries every single day that it is computer day. Yesterday she had a stroke because the teacher would not call on her at all, and it is probably because she can’t see her with 32 kids on the stupid zoom. I don’t care how many people get vaccinated, I will not say anything is normal until our kids are back in school and off these stupid laptops. We have ALL had enough.

Other than that we are gearing up for her 6th birthday, which will be vastly different from her 5th. She knows she can’t have a party and she is totally OK with it because she asked for a Nintendo switch which is what she is getting, because Eric and I want a Nintendo switch. Win-win. We also told her she has to start wearing clothes around the house permanently once she turns 6, which she is less excited about. She asked if she could just start with a shirt because “pants are unbelievable.” Can’t say that I blame her. We’re all going to have such a hard time going back to wearing regular pants once this is all over.

The Sleep Chronicles: Part 312

Sometimes it’s hard to believe I’ve been writing in this space for almost 6 years. It’s even harder to believe many of my musings have to do with sleep and the fact that my children are allergic to it. Everyone who frequents this blog knows the issues I had with Charlotte. She was a terrible sleeper from birth and continued to be a terrible sleeper into toddlerhood and beyond, but she is actually wonderful now? It’s kind of insane to write that because I thought for SURE she would never sleep. But she does! Do I have to lay with her for 10-15 minutes until she goes to bed? You betcha. Does she still prefer to sleep with me if I let her? She sure does. But will she sleep all night in either bed, not bothering me? SHE DOES! It’s a miracle almost 6 years in the making. It’s wonderful.

ENTER MACKENZIE. Everyone told me lightning doesn’t strike twice. Ya’ll gassed me up to believe I got my bad sleeper out of the way with the horrors I went through with Charlotte. YOU ALL LIED. I rented that damn SNOO thinking it would solve all of my problems, and at first, it did! Mackenzie was sleeping 6+ hour stretches! I got her into her crib with no issues! IT WAS A GLORIOUS TIME FOR ALL. And then she turned 4 months old and ever since then we’ve slowly been descending into the drains of hell. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING??????? She was “bad” before she got a UTI. I would give anything to go back to that form of bad. She’d wake up 2 or 3 times a night but she’d go back to sleep. She’d nap 3 times a day in her crib. Now? Now she screams for over an hour in the crib to go nap for 32 minutes. Now she “cries it out” for close to 4 hours with no end in sight. Now she wakes up at 3:30 AM ready to take on the day. She is a CARBON COPY of her sister. It is literally ALL THE SAME. I’ve been awake for 2 and a half hours already and she shows no signs of even being tired. She’s currently in my lap screaming at me trying to hit the keyboard.

Now I have googled all of the things. I know she is waking up early because she isn’t getting enough daytime sleep, but how is she going to get daytime sleep when she screams for hours at a time and then only sleeps a little bit? The google tells me to leave her and let her scream. I do this, and she doesn’t give in, even days later. Google has no answers after that. Everyone says they will learn. SHE AIN’T LEARNING.

I’ve ignored her cries at night. She gets louder. She doesn’t soothe herself. She sure as shit knows how to go to sleep on her own because I TAUGHT HER HOW TO DO IT and she DOES IT AT BEDTIME. So I did what the google told me to do. AND STILLLLLLLL nothing works. So maybe it isn’t me. Maybe my kids are just defective when it comes to sleeping and I have to wait until they are older to get rest? Like at least I know 5 years down the road things may get easier? My only solace is that this time around, for right now at least, I’m not commuting because of the global pandemic that is still raging around us. I still have to mother two children, do remote learning, cook, clean, do laundry, etc., etc., etc., but at least I don’t have to put on real clothes? An express bus commute actually sounds like heaven right now.

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Hello From the Other Side

Of illness that is. Poor Mackenzie was diagnosed with a UTI on Saturday, which is something I wasn’t even aware that babies could get, but here we are. It was a BAD few days before I found out what was wrong with her and I feel like we are only just coming out of it. Yesterday was the first day she was 100% back to herself, so thank you modern medicine. But now any and all sleep training she had previously is shot to shit and I am screwed once again and have to start all over. I DON’T WANNA.

In other news, Charlotte went to school two times last week! But now school is closed again for 24 hours so she can’t go today and I KNOW we will get the call this afternoon closing us for 2 weeks, because of course we will. The system in place right now is basically designed to keep schools closed. There is no way they can stay open if there is mandatory weekly testing AND the threshold is only 2 cases. There are HUNDREDS of people in these schools. You can’t test people 3-4 days apart and not expect to get less than 2 cases. It just isn’t fair. There is no continuity for these kids at all. Every other week I am telling Charlotte her school is closed again and she can’t go, and she asks me when she can go and I tell her and then they close again anyway. At this rate just keep the damn schools closed because I’m sure that’s what these people want anyway. It’s not fair to the teachers either. They have to change everything at the drop of a hat and that messes with the kids too. Enough is enough now. I’m just so disgusted and disheartened and Charlotte, while she is learning to read beautifully, is definitely struggling with math and I KNOW if she went to school normally like SO MANY OTHER KIDS THAT AREN’T IN THIS GODFORSAKEN PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM are, she would be excelling. UGH.

Speaking of reading, Char and I are reading the Amelia Bedelia books, and because she is starting to read on her own she asks me to read words on every page. BUT, because she is Charlotte and has to question everything, she cannot for the life of her understand why certain books have different fonts. For example, the way that she is learning how to read and write the lowercase letter a is not the way in which this computer is writing it. She looks at it and gets very confused, so I explain there are different fonts that show letters in different ways. I don’t know how to explain it to her – how would you explain fonts to a 5 year old? So now, no matter what it is – whether it has to do with reading, writing, math, a word she doesn’t understand, what have you – her first response is: “oh, so is it the font?” She thinks everything has to do with fonts now. I couldn’t figure out how to do something the other day and she said, “oh mommy it’s just the font.” So if you have any problem in your life just blame fonts.

She has also discovered the calculator app, which she calls the “magic app that gives me the answers,” so now I have to make sure she isn’t trying to do her math homework with a calculator. Which is unfair since I do all of my math with a calculator. I guess math doesn’t run in the family. Eric is much better at doing her work with her than I am. I should just start saving all of her homework for when he wakes up.

In other Mackenzie news, other than the UTI, she still has no interest in rolling over or crawling, really does not give one single F about food (will tolerate yogurt for 30 seconds and then decides she’s over it) and doesn’t trust me anymore when it comes to feeding her anyway because she assumes everything is medicine. Poor kid. I didn’t have to give Charlotte antibiotics until she was 5 so I feel bad that Mackenzie is getting them at 7 months. As dumb as it sounds it feels like I did something wrong, you know? I’m just so happy she is smiling and laughing again. She thinks Charlotte is THE funniest person to walk this earth and starts to smile the second she sees her walking down the steps in the morning. Yesterday I was able to clean my bathroom because Charlotte was playing in her room and set Kenz up on the floor with pillows and a toy. I knew the age difference would work out in my favor! Maybe one day soon I can just leave her with Char for the entire day?

Life Lately

Hi friends. How are we doing? 2021 isn’t much better than 2020 yet, is it? Ah well, I think we all knew that going in. But we must continue on and hope for better days. Let’s hope we can get this vaccine rolling out ASAP because I am ready to get doused in it if it means I can go back to normal.

So let’s see what has been going on around these parts. Charlotte’s school never opened after winter break, because of course it didn’t. Remote learning is an actual nightmare lately, mostly because they added a new remote teacher who has only been doing social studies which consists of the kids writing down holidays such as “Midsummer in Sweden.” Do you know how long it takes 5 year olds to write that? And WHY are they even doing this? I fail to see the educational value in having a kindergarten class copy down holidays they don’t even understand. I am so damn over it all. I pray this kid gets to go back to school next Thursday because everyone is at their wits end.

I will say she has gotten really, really good at playing alone. Yesterday she played with her Barbies for 3 and a half hour, only stopping to eat lunch and have a snack. I don’t know if this is a product of basically being a prisoner in our homes for 10 months and having very little social interaction with children because the DOE can’t get its shit together, but I’ll take it. She is very creative and I enjoy watching her play, especially because she leaves me alone. She is starting an in person art class on Sunday for the next 10 weeks. It is an actual class where she will learn how to paint and sculpt and stuff, and she is so damn excited that she has been counting down the days since we signed her up. It feels good to be able to give her something to look forward to.

And then there is Mackenzie. The traitorous Judas of our home. I don’t know what we did to deserve such two horrible sleepers, yet here we are. She is the cutest, happiest, chillest baby who just refuses to sleep through any part of the night. And just like with Charlotte, I’ve tried it all. It is infuriating and I am exhausted, yet it feels so familiar that I am managing. I’m going to the doctor today for her checkup so I’m going to ask if they make baby ambien yet.

She still won’t roll over. She’s done it a handful of times from her back to her belly and one time from her belly to her back (which I didn’t even see) so I’m starting to get that panicky feeling that she is somehow behind. I’m going to ask the doctor about it but also make sure that she sees how she sits up on her own. Maybe she just doesn’t want to roll? I DON’T KNOW. She is also so particular about food. The only thing she eats with joyful abandon is squash but I can’t give her squash every day because then she will turn orange. Some days she eats her food without giving me an issue and then other days she gags on whatever I put in her mouth and tries to throw herself out of the high chair. She’s so dramatic. So I have two kids who hate sleep and hate food. What a time.

I feel lucky that I’m able to be home with them while all of the hell rages on outside, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t need a break. Sometimes I feel like I am teetering on the edge of an epic burnout. I’ve started exercising again to see if it can help my mood and anxiety, “self care” if you will. I guess only time will tell. I can’t wait to be out of the dark days of winter.

The Bank of Charlotte

Charlotte was a very lucky little girl on Christmas. She got all of the toys she asked for, and she was also the recipient of everyone’s favorite gift; cold, hard cash. She opened up a card from my grandma that had $100 in it and kept talking about it over and over and over and I said I would keep it safe.

Fast forward to the other night when she made her own piggy bank out of a wooden box (because the one she already has isn’t good enough) where she was shoving dollar bills into the hole she made when she asked me for her hundred dollars. I told her I put it in the bank. “Which bank? Your piggy bank? Go get it so I can put it in my bank!” So I tried to explain to her what a bank was and she was NOT having it. She started screaming that I threw it away. “Go to the bank building and get it! Go get my hundred dollars!” I said the bank is closed on Sunday and she told me I was the absolute worst mother ever. Cool, cool, cool.

So she calmed herself down and did what any sane person would do. She got paper, scissors and markers and she made her own money. Just like the US Government. She stimulated her own piggy bank. So far, her little wooden box has 6 dollars in regular, government regulated bills and about 500 pieces of paper of her own making. They range from 100 dollars (the money I “threw out”) to 9,000 dollars. I wish I had my own 9,000 dollar bill to be honest. She walked up to me before and asked if she could buy a Frozen area rug for her room and handed me 6,000 dollars. Those bills are hot pink in case you were wondering.

So if anyone needs some extra cash just let Charlotte know. She’s got you covered.

Auld Lang Syne

I think I can speak for everyone on this planet when I say goodbye and good riddance to 2020. A year for the history books, and not in a good way. We’ve been isolated for the better part of it, not seeing anyone at all or seeing people we love only a handful of times. It’s such a shame when you really think about it.

There are, however, a few positives of this pandemic year. For one, Mackenzie came into the world and she is the brightest spot in a dismal time. Not right now, because she is quite literally kicking and screaming in her crib refusing to go to sleep after being awake since 5 AM, but for the most part she’s a dream. I’ve gotten to spend more time with her than I ever did with Charlotte at this age. Although I guess I’m making up for all of that time with Charlotte since we’ve also been together pretty much every waking moment since March 13. Some days it’s been nice to not have to go anywhere or do anything. Other days I want to pack a bag and get the hell out of dodge.

It’s been a positive to spend months upon months in loungewear. I think I’ve worn a mask more than I’ve worn a bra this year. When I have to go back to wearing a bra regularly I’m probably going to have a stroke.

All of the excellent television content has been a positive. We started this pandemic off with the Tiger King and now we’re wrapping it up with Bridgerton. So many excellent binge worthy shows for 2020, so at least we’ve had that.

I really hope we’re back to normal by the summer. Or as normal as we can be. I hope we have at least half a year of fun and joy. I hope you all are safe and healthy and happy and I really hope 2021 brings me some more damn sleep.

Merry Christmas Eve! I can’t believe Christmas is actually here. It feels like we’ve lived several lifetimes in these last 10 months, but we made it to the end! Christmas obviously looks different this year, with no big parties to be had and not having the usual guest list on the Eve and the Day, but there are certain things that stay the same – pandemic or no pandemic – and that’s the kids excitement. Charlotte is so excited she is beside herself. She woke up every morning to move the Christmas counter, eat her Advent calendar chocolate and ask Alexa where Santa is. This morning her eyes lit up when she realized he has already left the North Pole. She is dying for a pink jeep and asked Santa on numerous lists. Santa is going to deliver on that, and it took Santa and Mrs. Claus 3 hours to put together the pink jeep so Charlotte better ride it for a year.

I’m sad Mackenzie’s first Christmas is Covid Christmas, but she won’t remember so I guess I’ll get over it eventually. I just wish people could see her, you know? She’s only this small for such a short period of time and at this rate nobody is going to see her until she’s in pre-k. Oh well.

I was listening to the Hallmark Music Christmas station the other day and one of the actors came on to say that he can’t wait for Christmas because it’s a time to spend with family, and after a year like the one we’ve had we all deserve some time with our family and that’s what he was looking forward to. I laughed out loud because all I could think of is, what the actual f? Dude, all we’ve done this year is spend time with our family. We have not left our family. Being with our family IS ALL WE HAVE DONE. And while it is nice to spend time with our family on Christmas, it’s literally going to be the same exact thing we have done for 10 months except with presents. Hopefully the children leave us alone for a solid week after this though – that would be the Christmas miracle.

I hope you all have a great holiday, no matter how you spend it. I know a lot of us are sad we won’t be seeing each other, so next year I think we should do a Christmas redo. I’m talking like, black tie attire. I’m going to come down Christmas morning in one of those Gone With the Wind robes and spend Christmas Day in a ballgown. Merry, merry, friends!

Design Flaws

I was in the shower last night putting my right boob under scalding hot water trying to get rid of another clogged milk duct when I came to the realization that the Big Man Upstairs made a serious design flaw when it comes to all things baby.

I get why things get a little strange when one is pregnant. I mean you’re growing a baby from scratch so there’s bound to be some wacky things that happen to your body. Now, if I remember correctly, God made childbirth painful to punish Eve for eating the apple in the Garden of Eden. Seems a bit extreme, but OK. I mean, I am not a fan of suffering the punishment of someone else’s screw up, but who am I to argue with God? Do I think it’s fair that it felt like my baby was coming out of my butt surrounded by 650 acid dipped knives because Eve didn’t know how to listen to directions? No, I don’t. But again, this was the punishment doled out so I guess we have to sit back and take it and maybe ask Him if he sent epidurals as a peace offering.

But NOW. Now is where the good Lord went too far. After everything I’ve already been through – and mind you I had a decent pregnancy and delivery compared to others – but even now 6 months later I am still IN PAIN. It’s like God was making the plans and said, “and you know what? When they breastfeed we’re going to make it hard. We’re going to tell them it’s easy but then we’re going to make it hard, OK? But then, even when they get the hang of it, we’re gonna make their boobs get clogged, like pipes! And it’s going to hurt! And if they can’t get the clog out, WE’RE GONNA INFECT EM!!!”

It’s very unfair. This wasn’t part of the punishment. The punishment was PAINFUL CHILDBIRTH. postpartum depression, not bleeding nipples or clogged milk ducts or mastitis. WE DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS PUNISHMENT LORD. GIVE US A BREAK! This latest clog isn’t as painful than the last one I had that I ended up on antibiotics for, but it hurts just enough to mock me.

Anyway, I am off to pack Charlotte’s lunch for today. She gets to go to school for the second time this month! And she gets to go Monday too! THREE WHOLE DAYS IN DECEMBER OH MY GOD THE LEARNING SHE IS ACCOMPLISHING.

Lol jkjk I fully expect an email from the school tonight saying they’re closed because of covid, see you never.