Family Times

We have just recently returned from a four family trip to the Poconos. The trip was anticipated for months since we were unable to do anything last year because of the pandemic and it was the first time our kids would be able to really hang out and be together in what felt like forever. We rented a house with 5 bedrooms and a trampoline so we basically had all of the essentials. Thank goodness for that trampoline, for it kept our kids occupied a LOT. It kept me occupied too, and my body still hurts because I didn’t realize going on a trampoline at my age was a workout and not the fun jumping experience I remember from my youth? Anyway, there were 8 adults and 9 children and nobody was ever tired except for the parents. WE WERE EXHAUSTED. The first night we got all of the kids (minus the 1 year old and 2 year old) into the room with the bunk beds, we put on the tv for them and told them to go to sleep. HA HA HA HA. I think each of us went back and forth into that room 150 times. I had to lay in the top bunk with Charlotte and play Lisa Loeb and they all finally gave in to sleep probably close to 11 PM. AND THEN WE WERE ALL UP AT 5:30 AM. Except most of us were up all night for various reasons. My reason being that Mackenzie has never been away from home and was NOT a fan of the pack and play shoved into a bathroom as her place of rest. She also doesn’t like sleeping with me, so she spent the entire night laying on top of me moving around until she gave up at 6. IT WAS A TIME. I ended up having a panic attack the second night wondering what time she was going to wake up the whole damn house, but she ended up doing a little better than she did the night before. When I tell you that child was THRILLED to be back in her own house on Sunday I mean it. She went back into her crib like it was a refuge. Charlotte was never like that.

Anyway, even with very, very little sleep we had such a wonderful time. The kids get along so well – literally no fighting ever – except for the random tantrums over being pulled out of the hot tub or losing a game of freeze dance. You can see how much they genuinely love each other and how much fun they have when they are running wild and free. It was totally worth the no sleep and the panic attack. Charlotte has not stopped talking about it. She wants to live in the Poconos house. She wants a bunk bed. She wants to go away with the family every week for the rest of her life. “How can you expect me to sleep in my bed now when I am used to a bunk bed?” I’ll never hear the end of it. She also said to me, “mommy, do you know why it took me so long to go to sleep?” I said yes because you were in a bunk bed in a room you were never in before, right?” “No mommy, it was because I was NOT used to the underwear and the pajamas. But I did it! Are you so proud of me?” She couldn’t sleep because she wasn’t naked. Of course.

We already decided the next house needs a pool in addition to the trampoline. Maybe that will tire them out faster so the moms can sit outside and have a drink for longer than 30 minutes before we crawl inside to pass out.

Baby Mine

I think it’s safe to say I am not in the sleeping children club. Sometimes I go back years in this little blog and read about the many, many times Charlotte started her day at 3 am, 4 am. How she would wake up 50 times a night and basically sleep with me since birth. It took us 5 and a half years for her to sleep in her own room all night, and even still she likes to sleep with me. I was determined to do everything different with Mackenzie, and I have! But she still doesn’t sleep all night. I guess I’ve succeeded in the fact that she is truly on a schedule when Charlotte never was and that she’s never slept in my bed. Those are wins, right? And she has slept all night many more times than Charlotte ever did at this age. But more often than not she is still waking up once or twice a night. But this time around, instead of obsessing over what it is I’m doing wrong, I’m just trying to embrace the fact that these times will pass faster than I’d like. Last night she woke up around 10:30, which was about 10 minutes after I fell asleep of course. I tried to let her cry herself back to sleep, but she finally says mama and listening to her cry “mama mama mama” from her crib made me go into her room without much hesitation. I rocked her in the chair as she put her head on my shoulder and her arms around my neck and I realized there was a time I did this with Charlotte, and I can’t remember when the last time was. There was a night where I held her and rocked her and it was the last time I did it and I didn’t even realize it. So while I was tired and groggy from being jolted awake so quickly after falling asleep, I sat in that chair for a half an hour and rocked my last baby until she was in a deep sleep. I’m sure last night wasn’t the last time, but I’m going to embrace every cuddle and comfort she wants, because I’m never going to do this again.

Was I as enthusiastic when she woke up again at 4? Nope. But here we are. She slept until 7:30 after that, but because the sleep gods are cruel I was woken up by Charlotte at 6 AM standing over my body whispering “it’s Wednesday. The talent show is on.” Because why sleep in when you just HAVE to watch America’s Got Talent?

Pink Hair, Don’t Care

So I let Charlotte dye her hair pink. Not the entire head, just a couple of streaks here and there. It might seem crazy to let a 6 year old dye their hair and at first I thought so too, but then I realized it’s just hair? Who cares? It makes her happy and it’s not hurting anyone so pink hair it is! The process of getting the pink hair was a real hoot. For someone as easy as Charlotte highlights were no problem! (Kidding, of course.) She absolutely hated the foil.

Exhibit A.

She was happy when it was over though. Mackenzie was just happy to be there. Scooting around on the floor screaming DAT DAT which is all she does any day at any given time so the usual for her. It was an exciting day!

Pink lady.

Now Charlotte just constantly asks me if the pink is still in it whenever it gets wet. This won’t get old at all! In other developments, Charlotte has decided she wants to be a pop star when she grows up. Which is really something considering she doesn’t speak to people, she refused to partake in a single dance movement break during the school year and she DEFINITELY would give the costume department a hard time on music video sets. This all stems from me giving her an education on the one and only Miss Britney Spears, so I understand the desire to emulate the Queen. “I Wanna Go” is currently her favorite song, so my work here is done. I’m pretty sure Mackenzie likes it too, but since she dances to everything it’s a little too soon to tell. But one thing is for sure, this is a #freebritney house!!!

Life Lately

We’ve done a lot of celebrating since I last wrote. Mackenzie’s birthday and Father’s Day and soon we’ll be celebrating the last day of school! Huzzah!

Mackenzie has finally begun to use her fat legs to move. She is taking her very first steps with her toy walker and she is cruising on the couch. She’s figured out how to get up the first step of the staircase landing and if left there long enough she will try to go up the other steps. I think she’ll be walking all on her own in another month or so and I’ll be wishing for the days when she didn’t move.

She still only has four teeth but it looks like another 6 are coming in all at once. Her gums are red and swollen and some days she is clearly in pain and uncomfortable. This is why the good Lord invented medications. When all else fails, give the baby some drugs.

She is saying a lot more than just dada now. She calls me nana so mama bas to be right around the corner. Everything is “dat dat dat.” She points constantly screaming DAT! And the other day when I said you want this? She said “yea dat.” She makes sure she is understood by screaming at you until you give her what she wants. She will go from the sweetest, cuddliest baby to a Godzilla-like temper tantrum in a minute. I guess that’s the Gemini in her. She is very determined to get what she wants, when she wants it, and most of the time that is food. If you are eating around her she opens her mouth immediately, even if you aren’t offering the food to her. She reminds me of a dog.

Charlotte is very happy summer vacation is right around the corner. She will go to camp in July and probably tell me she hates it and then I’ll show her the cashed check for camp and explain it doesn’t really matter what she thinks!

All in all, things are good and feel normal again. I’m hopeful this summer continues the momentum of leaving the pandemic behind us. I’m hopeful we get good news about school sometime before August. If we don’t you’ll probably see me on the news like a raving lunatic. I don’t want to write or live or read about remote learning anymore. Here’s to better days ahead!

One.

Dear Mackenzie,

It’s hard to believe I am writing your first birthday letter. I don’t think I have ever felt a year go by as quickly as this one. As a 2020 baby, your first year of life was drastically different than most. I remember in March of 2020 when the world locked down how I thought everything would be back to normal by the time you came into the world. But then I remember spending so many days worrying that I would have to give birth to you alone, that we would have no visitors, no help, nobody to greet you. Your birth was so much different than your sister. Your daddy was thankfully allowed to be with me, but the hospital was such a different place. It was so quiet. No visitors lining the halls with balloons and gifts. Masks on everyone around us. But then you came, and for two nights it was just us. The no visitors policy wasn’t such a bad thing. We had you all to ourselves and we loved every minute. We video chatted friends and family to show you off. And then we went home to start our new life as a family of four.

This has been, without a doubt, the best year of my life. It is conflicting for me to say that, because for so many it has been the worst of times. There were certainly days I didn’t think I would make it, but you are – and I say this without any reservations – the best baby I could have ever had. You are so different than your sister and I think it’s because you are pandemic baby, and if the Lord blessed me with Charlotte 2.0 in a lockdown I probably would have gone a little nuts. You are so calm and so happy 99% of the time. I cannot believe I have had the privilege of being home with you this past year. I love you in a way I didn’t think possible. I love watching you and your sister. From the early days when she would hold you on her chest and pretend to feed you, to the times now when she carries you around the living room so you can play together, every moment is a gift. I love how much you love to eat. I love how you scoot your chubby butt around the floor. I love how you wake up and give me the biggest grin when you see me come into the room. Could you sleep a little better? Perhaps. Waking up at night isn’t really necessary any more, but I love how for just a few minutes you need to put your hands on my face or my chest to go back to sleep. The fact that you are my last baby and that I will never do this again is probably why I don’t complain so much about it. I also know Charlotte was a hell of a lot worse so I can totally manage this.

I love the way you dance and how much you love dogs. The way you point to everything and anything and say “dat” over and over. How you actually behave during Charlotte’s never ending zoom schooling. I am probably a bit biased because I am your mother but I think you are one of the most beautiful babies in the world.

There have been days where I didn’t know if I could manage all of this. I imagined your first year a lot different than it has been, but you were the calm in the storm. You came to us at this time for a reason. When I hold you I feel at peace. Some of my favorite times are when me, you and Charlotte are hugging each other and you can’t stop looking at both of us and laughing. I am so blessed to have had this time with the both of you together.

I can’t believe the baby times are over and behind us. I already miss your infant smell and those baby stretches, but those have been replaced with your little voice trying out new sounds and words. The sleeping on my chest has been replaced with pulling yourself onto my lap to hug me. The nursing has been replaced with …. well, still nursing. You’re the same as your sister in that regard. I doubt I’ll be getting you to stop any time soon. As sad as I am to have your first year behind us, I know things will get better and better. I love you and your sister more than anything in this world. You complete us my Kenzie girl. Happy birthday, baby.

Sh*t Charlotte Says

Sometimes I just need to write down the things that Charlotte says so I never forget them because she really makes me laugh. This is the perfect place to do just that. In no order, Charlotte lately:

When a commercial for a deaf basketball group comes on the television: “I hate this song in this commercial it’s terrible.” I tell her to be nice because it is a commercial about deaf people and she responds with “so they can’t hear the song? Good for them.”

Anytime I put any outfit on Mackenzie that wasn’t handpicked by her: “oh god that outfit is horrible. I’d never wear that. Disgusting.”

When she walked into the living room of my grandma’s house the other day in front of everyone holding my tampons, waving them in the air screaming “HEY MOMMY WHAT ARE THESE?!” And then later on proceeded to ask me if they were candy.

Whenever Mackenzie starts crying and she screams at the top of her lungs “shut it up Mackenzie! Everyone has had enough of you!!!”

Just now when I went to move her small baby Barbie away from Mackenzie and she shouted at me “NO I NEED THAT BABY! SHE IS ABOUT TO GET BORNED OUT OF ANNA!!!” And then proceeds to put on a full performance of the baby coming out of Anna’s stomach and everyone shouting welcome to the baby.

When I hear her mutter to herself when she is shutting the basement door “gotta close this so mom doesn’t yell and Mackenzie doesn’t fall and die.” At least I know she’s listening to me part of the time.

Let it End

I have never in my life counted down the days until the end of school more than I have this year, and that includes all of the years of my own schooling. Never has the warm weather been more of a promising sign that this school year from hell is ending than it is now. Charlotte has barely had a school experience and yet I cannot wait for this to be over. Perhaps I’d feel differently if she were going 5 days a week like most Staten Island public schools, but alas, here we are 8 months in and only 2-3 days a week is still all we get. I cannot wait until my dining room table is no longer a hot mess of books and computers and a tablecloth filled with pencil shavings and crayon drawings. I don’t want to look at any of the crap in there for another second. I don’t want to sign on to one more friggin’ zoom. I wish they’d end it all now, to be honest. What the hell else are they going to learn on the computer from now until the end of June? Absolutely nothing!!! Do us all a favor and put us out of our misery.

A few weeks back we found out that Charlotte’s school had the option to send back two grades full time until the end of the year and they declined. They didn’t feel it was best for the community or fair to other kids or a whole plethora of other stupid reasons. They said they didn’t even decide what grades would have gone back, although the logical answer – and the answer for most schools with this same choice – would be to send back the younger kids. But no, why would we do such a thing like that? Why let the little kids get a taste of what 5 day schooling is like so they can be better prepared for September? There is still no plan for September, by the way. Who knows what fresh hell awaits us then. Whatever guidelines the DOE put in place won’t ever allow for Charlotte’s school to be normal, so if those guidelines don’t change I guess we’re up shit’s creek without a paddle. After we learned about that I did what I like to think I do best and I wrote a letter to the principal and the group of parents tasked with making the decision. A group that we didn’t even know existed because who would know such things when there is no communication? I circulated the letter to other parents as frustrated as I was and I got a lot of signatures. I expressed our frustrations with the year and with the choice they made and hoped they would see what good full time school would do for the younger kids, even if it was only for a few weeks. I received a response from the principal a week later that was probably drafted by some goon at the DOE and didn’t address any of the issues we raised. We also sent the letter to the superintendent and a councilman on Staten Island and got radio silence from them. It is disheartening. I don’t know what I expected and I probably shouldn’t have expected anything at all, but I thought that maybe someone – anyone! – would care.

But I did something. I took all of my bitching and moaning and I did something. I did the only thing I could do for my child and I put pen to paper and put it out into the world. And other parents agreed and signed on to my words, and that will just have to be enough. I tried and I failed, but at least I tried. And if September comes and nothing changes, I will continue to put pen to paper and I will send my words to anyone who will read them. We have to do better for these kids. Enough is enough.

Mother’s Day Gift Guides

It’s almost Mother’s Day and you know what that means!! All the Mother’s Day gift guides have been rolled out across the internets. Oh what a time. Here are a few of the very real gift ideas that I found during my google search:

An online cooking class with Gordon Ramsey for $180 dollars. You know what’s not a great idea? Gifting the mother in your life a cooking class after she has most likely just spent the entirety of the pandemic cooking 3 meals a day for her family. If anyone in my family gifted me a cooking class after watching me prepare food constantly for over a year I would rip my stove out of the wall in a fit of Hulk rage. Get her a gift card to seamless and call it a day.

A grow your own mushroom kit. I just can’t see the majority of mothers out there being thankful for this kind of thing unless it’s a different kind of mushroom, you know what I mean? Why would we want something ELSE we have to keep alive? Who likes mushrooms enough to grow them yourself? They’re usually 2 for 5 at the grocery store.

Retinol anti-aging cream. OK OK OK. So I am fairly certain the majority of moms need this, but do we want it from our children for MOTHER’S DAY? Hey mom, you look like garbage, here’s some cream, Happy Mother’s day! Actually, the reason we have so many wrinkles is because of our children so maybe they should be the ones doling out the bucks for the cream. At least just get us a facial so we can enjoy the experience.

A box of mejdool dates, for the “mom with a sweet tooth.” I have a sweet tooth. I don’t want a box of mejdool dates. Get me some real candy, you cowards.

Sooooo many teapots. What is with the teapots? Do moms really drink that much tea? Most of the moms I know are drinking room temperature coffee, right? I’m always drinking room temperature coffee.

Any type of jewelry that has a heart with MOM in it. I don’t want to sound rude but I am fairly certain nobody wants this. Nobody needs a fake gold chain that says BEST MOM EVER in big letters the size of Flava Flav’s clock necklace. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend isn’t a saying for no reason!!

The old faithful gift idea for those that forget to get gifts, a “coupon” book of things to do for mom. This is cute if it is coming from young kids with an ACTUAL gift from the husband on the side. But if you’re only giving your mom a piece of construction paper that says “good for one massage” I can promise you you’re going to have a mom who is madder than a pissed on chicken. NO THANKS.

I say it every year and it still holds true. GIVE YOUR MOTHER A DAY OF SILENCE. Take those children AWAYYYYYY. Get RID OF THEM FOR AN AFTERNOON. Let her sleep in and eat what she wants when she wants and let her watch TV on the couch without worrying about who needs a snack or a diaper change. LET HER TAKE A NAP. And for the love of God, DO NOT MAKE HER BREAKFAST IN BED. NOBODY WANTS THAT. NOBODY.

My family gifted me with AirPods which is a necessary, welcomed, and appreciated gift. I have already begun using them to drown out the sounds of my children, which is really what they were intended for. Happy Mother’s Day indeed.

I know you’re not supposed to have a favorite child, but am I correct in saying that on certain days (or weeks, or months…) you’ll like one of your children more than the other? Perhaps it is because of the age difference, but Mackenzie is my favorite right now. Maybe it is because when I get up and get dressed in the morning, all Mackenzie does is smile at me and Charlotte looks me dead in the eyes and says “you’re wearing that? That dress is pretty but the tie on it is horrible and the sleeves are terrible and I’m sorry I said that out loud but I would never wear that.” Or maybe it’s because all Mackenzie wants me to do is hold her and love her and Charlotte tells me “when I get older I am moving away and you can’t visit me and I will do whatever I want” when I tell her she can’t eat an Oreo for breakfast. It could also be because when it’s time for Mackenzie to go to sleep I put her in her crib with no issues and when it is time for Charlotte to go to sleep she tells me “this is the worst time of my life” and holds her eyelids open until I tell her I’m going to leave the room. It could be all of these things so I can’t really pinpoint the exact reason, but Mackenzie is a much, much easier child to be around.

Obviously we have spent way too much time together since March of 2020 and Lord knows we could both use a break. The days she goes to school we get along much better. She still criticizes my clothes like she is Joan Rivers on the E! red carpet, but at least she is happier and not fighting with me about everything under the sun. Being at work a couple of days a week helps too, even though on Saturday she told me, in front of my mother, that she wishes I would go to work for 100 years. Does it hurt my feelings sometimes? Sure it does. But then I just look at Mackenzie and pray she never turns into the 6 going on 16 year old that Charlotte is.

It’s not all bad. The other night she was very kind and loving to me when my knee was acting up. She helped me put ice on it and asked if we could have a sleepover so I could cuddle her. It just feels like those days are so few and far between. At least Mackenzie loves me and I’ve got a few years before she turns on me too.

On the Move

There was a time not too long ago where I was worried about Mackenzie not crawling or standing or showing any interest in moving. Eric and I found videos of Charlotte crawling and standing and doing everything Mackenzie wasn’t way earlier. They say not to compare your kids, but of course that’s easier said than done. I kept saying Mackenzie was just lazy and would do everything in her own time even as I worried.

I was a fool.

In one day Mackenzie figured out how to move and move fast. She won’t crawl and she’s still not trying to stand on her own but she’s managed to scoot herself around at a very rapid pace. She looks like she is in a kayak pushing herself all over the place. I put her down on the rug and walk to the fridge and by the time I turn around she’s behind me. She got over to the tv stand and immediately knocked down a shelf of picture frames. She scoots to the stove and rips the dish towels down. She found the outlets which now need outlet covers. She tried to eat a phone charger and ripped all of the artwork and magnets off the fridge. She gets herself stuck under the kitchen stools and races over to wherever Charlotte is and destroys whatever she is playing with. There is so much shouting of “get her away from me!!!” I’m constantly vacuuming and making sure there is nothing on the floor because she thinks everything is edible. Barbie shoes are my nemesis.

What a fool I was. I should have enjoyed the stationary baby instead of worrying because I obviously had nothing to worry about and now I can’t leave the room without containing her. The party is over!!!

The destroyer of decor.