Friday, August 31, 2007

Potty Assault, Day 15

Don't worry, this is the last potty assault update, because it's getting a little old. I just wanted to do one final shameless plug for the $40 piece of Fisher Price genius that changed our lives. True, it's overpriced. True, it's hideously ugly. True, the "I'm so big, look at me, I can use my own potty" song rings endlessly in my head. But I owe a big one to the Fisher Price gods because some combination of these things worked for Owen. Finally.

Now if I could only figure out what to do with all of these 4T Pull-Ups....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Potty Assault, Day 12

It's happening. It's really, truly happening.

We've gone from having a 4-year-old in diapers to having a 4-year-old so obsessed with his potty that he now uses it a dozen times a day, talks about it pretty frequently and even wanted to hold it in his lap in the car last week. (we didn't let him do that.)

For months now people have been saying that one day everything will just "click" and I didn't believe them. But in the past two weeks I've almost heard the noise as everything, piece by piece, has just started falling into place for Owen.

True, he still has a ways to go. We've had to toss a good number of Spiderman underpants after unfortunate, shall we say, Code Browns in public. But who cares. We haven't used a pull-up (during the day) in almost two weeks and I've never been prouder of my son.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Potty Assault, Day 5

I have had a lot of happy moments in my life, but none were quite as spectacular as the other day when Owen walked over to his potty, pulled down his pants, sat down and peed.

After months of not quite trying hard enough, Dave and I finally drew a line in the sand last week, marked a day on the calendar and began what can only be described as a full-on Potty Assault.

Owen hasn't worn a pull-up during the day since Friday (five days ago for those who are counting). Now, anyone who hasn't potty trained a child has my opinion to stop reading because this is going to get boring, but anyone who HAS accomplished this feat I yearn for has to understand how exciting that is! In truth I've never done so much laundry and had to throw out a pee-stained pair of shoes yesterday... but who cares??

I told a friend on Monday that we had spent the weekend inside, sitting poor Owen down on the potty every 30 minutes. Well accustomed to my potty training tales of woe, she gave me a big hug of encouragement and said she was proud of us. The trick, she said, is commitment. Once the parents are fully committed to making this happen, the kids catch on.

Well, we've never been so committed. Owen turned 4 in June and enough is enough. So keep your fingers crossed, dear readers. We've got sticker charts, a jar of M&Ms and a potty that sings when he pees. What more incentive could a little boy need?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

When Your Kids' Schedules Are More Complex Than Your Own... What Then?

I often cringe when I hear one of the kids coughing through the monitors at night. In my head the questions begin: Is it the croup? Does one of them have the flu? Will Jake need a nebulizer treatment? Do they have fevers?

And last but not least: How many sick days do I have left?

Working full-time with two small kids is tough, but working full-time with two small kids when one or both of them is sick is even tougher. It means draining your sick time and begging and pleading with relatives (or in my case, my mother) to come babysit at a moment's notice.

What's most disturbing is that friends with older children keep warning me that it only gets worse. Once my boys get to school I'll have to contend with the school calendar, eight weeks off in the summer and countless holidays that aren't on my schedule. What will we do with them for a week in February and a week in April?

When parents only get two weeks of vacation time and about 10 sick days a year, how do you make it all work? To be honest, as much as I'm looking forward to the money we'll be saving once the boys get to public school, I'm terrified about the juggling act we'll have to master in order to keep our jobs.

A colleague of mine has found a way to make it work, but just barely: her seven year old son spends mornings with a neighbor, who walks him to school. When his kindergarten gets out at 1:30 he goes to an after school program until 4, and then to a babysitter until she or her husband gets home at 5:30. Good lord, what happens if one, two or three of those things don't work out on the same day??

My good friend is writing an article for the Boston Parent's Paper about this subject and is wondering how other moms handle it. Any advice? Any stories to share? Any words of wisdom? If you have anything you think either she or I could use, send me an email and I'll pass it on.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Hey, Where Is Everybody?

So let's be honest. I've been pretty lazy about this blogging thing lately. Well, lazy maybe isnt' the right word -- I just haven't had much to say or time to say it. So I've let this (and going to the gym but that's another story) slide in a serious way.

But when I was feeling guilty about being a lousy blogger the other day I remembered the reason I started this in the first place: to give all working moms a place to discuss, think about, revel in, and if necessary, complain about the ins, outs, complexities, irritations and joys of being a working mom.

Some days there's nothing better. Other days... well, let's just say that there are days when I would give just about anything to be alone on a beach with a good book, comfortable chair and a cooler full of snacks.

So that's me. Do you agree? Let me know. Write about it - the good days, the bad days, and the days that may have been better spent on the beach without your boss or your kids. Let's get this whole Guest Blog thing going again. Let's face it, I know a lot about being a working mom but not everything.

Send your submissions to

Lessons From a 4-Year-Old's Birthday Party

So, after four years I feel like I finally have this birthday party thing down. Well, sort of.

We had Owen's party about 2 weeks ago (I've been incredibly lazy about blogging) and aside from a few mishaps I think we got it just about right. Here's what we've learned:

1. Plan it early. Some kids this age still nap, so anything that starts after noontime doesn't work. Other kids this age - like Owen - no longer nap but need some quiet time by 2 p.m., making a noontime party a bad call. So we planned ours from 11a.m-2 p.m., giving the youngest guests time for a morning nap and the preschoolers plenty of time to rest in the afternoon.

2. Have a plan, but nothing too complicated. We wondered about games and activities, but in the end decided to pray for a nice day and turn it into a "bike party." Owen's big gift was a Thomas bike with training wheels, so we had all fo the other 4-year-olds bring their bikes so they could ride together. It was a good idea in theory, but in reality they probably rode them together for about 5 minutes before running back to the sandbox.

3. Don't invite too many people, and leave out anyone without kids (except for grandparents). For Owen's first birthday party we invited every friend we had, and most of them came. It was fun and social, mainly because we didn't have to spend much time entertaining a 1-year-old. At the time he could barely walk, didn't really talk, and napped through half of his party. At this age the party is truly about the kids. We had kid food, sat outside around the sandbox and slide, and entertained them. Hopefully our friends without kids weren't insulted that we didn't invite them - and to be honest, they're probably grateful. I can't imagine the party would have been much fun for them.
Oh, and one more tip: People really don't come to kids' birthday parties to eat. We forgot that and ordered 8 pizzas for 20 people. My mother made dozens of cookies and brownies and an enormous cake. We wound up with 3 unopened boxes of pizza and way more baked good than we could handle.

But that's OK - our neighbors and Owen's classmates were happy to take care of the leftovers.

Happy birthday Owen! (I still can't believe I have a 4-year-old)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

I've Been Tagged

My friend Gina, who I've known since high school, has tagged me.

I wasn't sure what this meant initially. Until now the only game of "Tag" I've played has been the horrifying playground version, where good runners slap you on the back, yell "Tag, you're it!" and then run away, leaving me in their dust. Never much of a runner, I've always hated tag.

But the grown-up e-version appeals to me much more. From what I can gather, I now have to reveal seven (why 7? Why not 8 or 6?) things about myself and then tag someone else. So here goes…

1. I spend a good part of every work day waiting for someone to come into my office, tap me on the shoulder and say, "Heidi, seriously, we know you're faking it. Pack your things. You're out of here." Hasn't happened yet, but I'm sure it will someday.

2. Dave hates this about me, but I'm a little bit crazy when it comes to going to bed. I have to sleep on the same side, and have to make the bed before I get into it. I don't make it in the morning though, so each night I basically make it perfectly neat and then hop in, immediately destroying the hospital corners. Don't ask.

3. I'm a little obsessive about Grey's Anatomy, and frequently check the writer's blog to get the back story behind each episode. Check it out – it's really interesting.

4. The only time I've ever been fired from a job (so far) was when I was in high school. I was hired to work at Barney's Bagels when they first opened, and I loved it – at first. Then my work hours started to interfere with my social life. I called in sick a couple of times, called and said I couldn't make it because of school a couple of times, and showed up late a couple of times. A few months into the job I called because I wanted to go to a football game and was told to enjoy the game. And not come back.

5. As much as I try to be a healthy-ish eater, I cannot resist cookies. Or cake. Or brownies. Or pretty much any baked good. Especially if it's fresh from the oven. I've got a problem.

6. I've been wanting to do something drastically different with my hair for years, and every time I get my hair cut I discuss this with Candice, my stylist. She always smiles, nods her head and cuts my hair exactly the same way, but styles it a little bit different so I think it's a dramatic change. Apparently she knows what's best for me. Or at least for my hair.

7. Every night, before we go to bed, Dave and I sneak into Owen and Jake's room and "check the kids." I'm not sure what we're checking for really – sometimes we have to usher out one of the cats, or cover up one of the kids if they've kicked off their blankets. But really, for me at least, it's a chance to go in, see them at their most peaceful, fall in love with them a little bit more, and push the memory of the most recent tantrum back a little bit further.

So there you have it. Seven things about me. I'm only going to challenge one person, mainly because I know he's got a fountain of fascinating factoids about himself tucked away that I'm sure people in cyberspace would want to read. So Dave, you're it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

From Now On, Jake Gets His Own Seat

I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, but it's quite possible that I made my worst one yet last month when I decided not to buy Jake his own airline ticket. I made this decision on the fly (sorry for the bad pun) after learning how much it was going to cost to fly my whole family to North Carolina over Memorial Day weekend.

Incensed at the cost of the airfare I took an "I'll show them" attitude, declared Jake to be a lap baby and walked away pleased with the money I had just saved.

Turns out, it would have been worth spending the extra $300 on a seat for Jake. In fact, it would have been worth much, much more.

Cute as he may be when he's not being held for two straight hours, when he is forced to remain immobilized in your arms, he's no fun at all. In fact, he turns into "That Baby."

You know the one I mean. The baby who cries, screams, claws at his parents, pulls everyone's hair, throws food, toys, books and everything else within his reach on the floor, and occasionally peeks over his parent's seat to smile at the irritated passengers behind him.

The stewardess tried to woo him with pretzels. He threw them on the floor.

At one point I put him in the aisle and let him walk up and down the airplane. He touched the arms of everyone he passed, smiling up at them. Some smiled back, others yanked their arms away, still others just gave me dirty looks.

The moral of this sad tale? Spend the money. If your child is old enough to know that he doesn't want to held anymore, he's old enough to have a chair of his own. Your child will be happier, you'll be happier, and no one on the plane will be able to blame you for making a 2 hour flight feel as long as a trip around the world.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chaos 1, Organization 0

Sometimes, on really, really bad days, when it seems like I'm just never going to get my shit together, never going to figure out where to put my keys, and never, ever get enough sleep, I look at pictures like these and realize that really, it's not all that bad.
Organization is likely going to elude me most of my life (and really I can't even blame that on my kids because I've never been organized) but if I had to choose between well organized closets and my current cluttered, disorganized and chaotic life, chaos would win every single time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Why Jake Almost Didn't Make It Through Mother's Day

My Mother's Day started out a little more hectic than most: Dave was away for the weekend and I had the kids to myself until Sunday afternoon when he returned. So instead of trying to entertain the boys myself all day I made plans to drive to Providence to spend Mother's Day morning with my own mom.

In case you don't know, in my house mornings – even on weekends, and even on Mother's Day – mean actual morning. We're usually up, dressed, and almost done with breakfast by 6 a.m. So yesterday, even after lazing about a bit, we were dressed, fed, jacketed up and ready to go by 7:15 a.m.

Except one thing: I couldn't find my keys.

In fairness to Jake, I can almost never find my keys. I typically throw them in the crook by the front door, but sometimes put them in my purse, other times leave them in my coat, sometimes toss them on the counter, occasionally leave them in the door, and once even left them on the roof of my car. But even worse than my inability to keep track of my keys is Jake's sudden love of hiding things.

He takes magnets from the refrigerator, opens cabinets, places them inside pots, puts the covers back on the pots, closes the cabinets and then walks away. He takes one shoe and brings it to the complete other side of the house, only to toss it under something. I'm not sure he does it intentionally, but he does it all the time. Usually it's funny. On Sunday morning it was infuriating.

I knew I had seen him wandering with my keys earlier, so I looked around my bedroom, where I had seen him last. Nothing. I combed the likely locations. Nothing. Next I looked in some less likely – and less desirable - places: on the floor, in the cabinet in the bathroom, in the pots and pans in my cabinets, in the trash, by the cat's dish, in the toybox and even in the diaper pail. Again, nothing.

Next, I turned to Jake, who had been following me around the house eagerly.

"Where are my keys?" No reply. I asked Owen to help me look. He obliged and began to tear through his toy box, only to find a long-lost toy that quickly distracted him. Still, no keys.

After 30 minutes I called my mother, in tears.

"We're not coming," I said. "Not only can't we drive to Providence, we can't even leave the house."

I hung up, furious with Jake, with Owen, with karma, with my cluttered house, with Mother's Day, and with anything else that popped into my head. I walked through my house one final time, dumping out every box of toys, taking every pillow off every couch, lifting the corner of every rug, opening every cabinet and sorting through every drawer.

45 minutes into my search I opened the drawer of Owen's train table and shuffled through the mess of trains, tracks and little people. My keys were at the very bottom.

I'd like to say I've learned something from all of this, but I'm not sure I did. My house is still filled with a million little places for Jake to hide stuff, he still quietly steals things and squirrels them away, and I've already misplaced my keys twice since then.

But next time I go to Target I'm picking up a belated Mother's Day present for myself: a key rack, that I will hang well above Jake's reach.