20 January 2011

Flexing my wings

I am sorely out of practice in writing creatively. When I was younger, most of my work was fictional, but I began to realize at first in high school and then throughout college that my best writing is actually creative nonfiction. So it made sense to try a blog. I had some great material when I first started it while I was in Nigeria, but here, I’m subject so some censorship when I write about my own life and family, so for a few weeks, I’m going to get some practice writing here with a series of posts to keep me disciplined. I have a few ideas up my sleeve, but a simple one to begin with is writing a brief piece somehow related to each of the states to which I’ve been. Since I don’t have the energy to think of any particularly interesting order in which to arrange them, I’ll just go with alphabetical. So let’s begin with Alabama.

18 January 2011

Another day in the life of a MOP

Today is my first day of “real life,” that is, being home alone with my two kids. After spending four weeks visiting and helping me out, my mom has traveled back to Nigeria, and after paternity leave and several long weekends in a row, my husband is back to a regular schedule at work.

So how has it gone so far?

Good question.

I was supposed to be up around 0745 to run an errand but couldn’t drag myself out of bed until 0945. Our nights with Anna have been weird anyway, but especially the last few days. We’re dealing with some sort of virus in our family, and Anna’s symptoms are eating less and spitting up more. Lots of fun, let me tell you. So I was still tired when I forced myself to get up at 0945. By then, Timothy – who had probably been awake for at least an hour but who is trained to stay in bed until I tell him to get up – had gone pee-pee in his “big-boy pants” (training pants/Pull-Ups). Not a big deal, but definitely not a step in the right direction. For whatever reason, no matter how many times I tell him, he doesn’t understand that he can get up out of bed to go potty without asking or telling me. *sigh* So wet jammies into the hamper, a clean big-boy pant, and clean clothes for Timothy. Anna, meanwhile, was being a little angel and just sleeping peacefully.

We all packed into the car… Hang on. This seems like a good time to gripe about the car for a minute. Our wonderful little Forester has been great to us. It’s gotten us where we’ve needed to go and has never broken down in the middle of a drive. We’ve tried to maintain it well and spent a bundle on new tires and a new timing belt. It’s seen its share of scrapes, but it’s been a trusty little trooper.

But it has its drawbacks. We didn’t really realize these when we bought it, but now we know what will be different about the next car we buy. There are two main concerns: First, the backseat is too close to the front seat; and second, the middle belt in the rear is not retractable. These seem like tiny gripes, but they have presented a whole lot of problems to us. The most immediate of these problems is that we cannot put Anna’s carseat in the center of the back seat, where it is safest. She has to sit on either the driver’s or passenger’s side in the rear. The trouble is that because of not enough space between the rear and front seats, her carseat doesn’t actually fit on either side. It is uncomfortable for me to drive when she is behind me; I have to push my seat all the way forward, and my legs are all cramped and tight. And I’m only 5’6”. You can imagine what it’s like for David, who is 6’2”. But if I put her on the passenger’s side, when I drive and my husband is a passenger (which is often the case, since I’m a control freak when it comes to driving), it’s the passenger seat that has to go all the way forward, and my husband gets cramped. So it’s a real problem. I never would have guessed when we bought the car that there would not be enough space for a rear-facing carseat, but I guess we learn something new every day.

So there we were, somehow fitting into our car. We ran our errand and then came back home to eat breakfast. No problems there. Timothy and I were both happy, and Anna ate afterwards, so we were just peachy. Timothy sat down to watch a movie, and I – still battling this virus – also sat down at the computer to watch something while I burped Anna, knowing she would spit up in a fountain if I didn’t thoroughly burp her. I knew we needed to go to Walmart, but I also knew that we had an errand to run at noon, so I figured we’d kill two birds with one stone and go in one trip. We’d had breakfast so late I figured we could just eat a snack while we were out and then have something more substantial when we got back home mid-afternoon, before Timothy’s nap.

So around noon, we completed our errand with the car and then headed to Walmart for a mid-week shopping trip. I have started to make shopping lists, but somehow, I still end up going to Walmart pretty much every other day. But today it was serious. We are out of milk and almost out of fruit. I can hardly believe it, since I bought a whole lot of fruit just this past Friday. There must be a wormhole in our kitchen specifically for fruit…and pens. We keep losing pens.

By this time, Timothy was getting hungry, so I went through a Wendy’s drive-thru to get us a snack. Very healthy, I know, but please don’t judge me. I have a newborn and a three-year-old. After we placed our order, while we were waiting to pay, Anna woke up in her carseat and started screaming. So instead of heading straight into Walmart, I parked in an out-of-the-way space and took her out of the carseat to feed her if she was hungry. First, though, she needed a diaper change, for she was leaking. But it was drizzly outside, so I got Timothy to sit in the front seat so I’d have room in the backseat to change Anna.

And that’s when Timothy decided to be naughty. Nothing serious, but enough to drive me crazy. Now, mind you, the last two times I’ve been to Walmart with Timothy, he’s been a menace. While my mom was here, I tended to leave him at home with her during his nap and do a Walmart run on my own. But I can’t do  that anymore, so I figured I’d have to try taking him. But when he started misbehaving before we even set foot into Walmart, I knew I was doomed. So I told him if he touched the emergency brake one more time, we were going home. Don’t you know it, he touched the brake, just to see what I’d do. Well, I am true to my word when it comes to threats. I got him back into his booster seat, put Anna back in her carseat (after she’d finished her meal), and I took away Timothy’s milkshake. We were going home. Timothy immediately unbuckled himself and lunged for the milkshake in the front seat. So I told him that when we got home, I was going to have to put his carseat back in and take out the booster until he learned that he can’t unbuckle himself without permission.

The whole way home, Timothy whined that he wanted his milkshake and the book he’d dropped on the floor of the car. I told him he could have his milkshake after his nap only if he behaved. So then he said he was thirsty, so I said I’d get him a drink of water when we got home. But he said he wanted milk.

As I mentioned earlier, we have no milk.

But he didn’t believe me and started crying snd screaming that he wanted milk.

We got home, got his shoes off, and gave him a cup of water. But he refused to go potty before his nap. So he was punished and finally agreed to go potty. When I started this post at 1417, he was finally in his bed, and I heard him whining that he wanted his milkshake…

I’d forgotten another errand I had to run at 1420, so I had to get Timothy up from his bed (in which he was anything but napping) and back in the car. Ten minutes later, we were home again, and he was sent back upstairs to nap. Now, at 1510, he is singing Christmas carols, after having been in his bed over 40 minutes.

And Anna, meanwhile, has been a perfect little angel – sleeping peacefully or quietly looking around, watching everything. And she’s the one who’s sick!

Whoever said the threes are worse than the twos was definitely right. Lord, help us all.