The Mischief of Minions

Kids, Family, Insanity…

A Perfect Moment

Frozen in time, a glimpse of tiny perfection in a moment where I am actually sitting and appreciating you. Your beautiful lips, your red-blonde lashes, the warmth of your tiny head and your visage of total relaxation and comfort.

Your squishy elbows and milky-white skin; your soft breathing and baby hair curling with sweat: your sculpted curving cheeks amaze me; the way you turn yourself so trustingly into my body gives me peace.

In this moment, you are still mine, wrapped in my arms. These seconds go too fast, and you are growing far too quickly for my liking. I search your face trying to memorize each tiny piece – each nook and cranny – because by tomorrow it will have changed.

My little boy, you are precious beyond words to me. You are all that is perfect and good with the world, and one of my greatest blessings.

In a short while, you will either be howling with laughter or screaming your head off because I left your milk in the kitchen; in a year you will be driving me crazy with your demands and talking back to me. You will likely throw trucks at my head, kick your sister and torment the dog. And that’s all ok: I look forward to your growth and the mystery of who you will become.

But allow me to enjoy this moment where you are peaceful, and sleeping and mostly potential. I am so grateful to be here with you! I love you forever, little boy. May your dreams be beautiful.

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Creative Watercolor

My daughter LOVES to paint and color, and spends most of her play-time doing so – sometimes painting for hours at a time.    One of her favorite mediums is watercolor: she loves to mix the water with the brush and swirl it around; she loves using her easel.  She seems to have an innate sense of color (like her mama!) and gets better all the time at shape and structures.  She made this for me a while back, and called it “Rainbow House” – I keep it at my desk at work and find myself staring at it and smiling.

Last night however, when I returned home, my little artist had found a new object to paint: her one-year-old brother.   He was all smiling, toothy grin on the front, but had a bright red paint line bisecting the length down the back of his skull.  When questioned, my darling girl enthusiastically assured me that “he really wanted her to paint his head” and that “it made him really happy” when she did so.

In fairness, I suppose he does make pretty good canvas: at one his very round head is still very bald.  I can see the appeal.

She should enjoy herself now, I suppose, while he doesn’t know what’s going on.  I suspect she’s going to be in real trouble in a year or two when he catches on!

“Rainbow House” – by S. Age. 3

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Everyone poops – eventually!

Cover of "Everyone Poops (My Body Science...

Cover of Everyone Poops (My Body Science)

There is a famous children’s book called Everyone Poops.  I think the title is misleading, or at least not complete enough.  It makes it sound like it’s no big deal.   The truth of the matter is that in my household, POOP is  not  taken lightly, written in all CAPS and bolded, and to this day requires a parade and light show with my daughter’s every deuce.

For whatever reason, my gastro-challenged toddler had an amazingly difficult time with the entire subject.  From the time she was very small, she would contort her body into the strangest positions (including one resembling child’s pose in yoga) to deal with this torturous body function.  She made awful faces.  She hid. We shoved prunes, fiber and everything else religiously down the kid but to no avail.  I felt horrible for her.

As a consequence, her potty-training was a year-long nightmare that only recently started to ease.  She refused to go.  It hurt and she hated us.  We tried ignoring the misses, we tried being nice, we offered praise and rewards for successful attempts.  I yelled, I screamed, I threatened and cajoled, and I had tantrums (okay, mostly she had tantrums and I ran away screaming) but nothing worked. I felt embarrassed and frustrated; I was horribly anxious and certain I was failing as a mom.  It was totally out of my control.  My kid – who spoke at one – was going to graduate from high school in homemade pull-ups.

They say it’s really up to the child to decide when they are ready, and that they’ll figure it out on their own.  And one day(after I had mostly given up) it just happened.  It may have been the diet of almonds, raisins, apples and water, or maybe she finally got sick of it being such a big deal and decided to move on, but my daughter does a pretty good job these days.   She did figure it out, and it did get better, completely outside of my personal efforts to make it happen.

That said, we are still called into the bathroom anytime she has a surprise for us in the potty.  We still have to make a big deal, and it is still a point of enormous pride for her when she either goes without being told and when she scores a No. 2.   It’s been a few months, but the first thing she reports gleefully when I come home from work is “No Accidents!”

If you are a mommy going through this, I have nothing but empathy for you.  Know you will get through this, and it will end.  Eventually, everyone poops – whether they want to or not.  Your job is to do everything you can to keep your sanity while you wait.  It’ll happen, I promise!

Can you relate?

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A picture of childish innocence…

Approximately 5 minutes after I took this picture, my beautiful daughter (clearly all sweetness and light) purposely sprayed her baby brother in the face with the hose and proceeded to start to dig up the lawn.

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Mommy – by S. age 3

This is my daughter’s latest picture of me. Even though she is only three, notice the careful attention to detail: the green of my eyes, the yellow blob in my hair that is my highlight, and the giant smile on my face because she is, in her words, being such a good girl.
I love these pictures – and the bright, sparkling glow of pride that shines through her eyes and illuminates her face.
Most of all, the way she sees me is so much more beautiful and simple than the way I see myself. She doesn’t see my internal nonsense or my insecurities, she just sees a mommy that loves her.
I take with me some of her perspective and it makes facing Monday a lot easier knowing I get to come back home to that kind of love.



The magic of weekends – and the ugly flipside.

Precious little hands a la crazy polish requests

For the working mom (aka, me, who will work until such time as I win Lotto or find a different way to provide for my minions) weekends are particularly precious.  You have two full days of being with the kids, the dog, maybe a husband.  You know the time is previous and even when you want, nay, NEED sleep you tend to ignore it to enjoy the time with the rugrats and keep them from self-destruction.

And yet, it is such a weird thing: kids have no concept of time at that age, and throw themselves completely into everything.  Today I painted my daughter’s nails (she wanted stripes), ran around with a baby hanging off me trying to get ready to go to a parade, came home from that parade and blew up the kiddie pool.  My husband and I tag-teamed on watching the mermaid and putting the baby to sleep. It’s a giant juggling match to fit as much in as possible, complicated somewhat by the fact that the kiddos feel no sense of urgency whatsoever and have to be half-dragged away from whatever has caught their attention at that moment.  We run, we play, we laugh, we splash, we cuddle.

But the biggest takeaways are the amazingly cool things they do.  Today I got to listen to my daughter tell me she wanted to hug the Darth Vader from the parade and later watch the ridiculous faces of my little son as he covered himself in red popsicle (and listen to the subsequent scream from his first brain freeze). I live for these moments.

There is a downside.  So rushed and intent am I on spending time with the kids (and assuaging the guilt I feel  from spending so much time away during the week)  that I rarely get much done in the way of preparation for the next week, cleaning, gardening, or any of the other things you probably need to make a household run smoothly.  My house is a mess and you could get lost in my closet.  I need to do work-work in preparation for the work-week ahead,  and get the floors clean, and nothing happens unless I stay up late at night or drag myself up at 4 a.m.  I don’t get how those other moms do it: have clean houses, ordered minds, and clothes without sticky shoulder handprints. Maybe I need some kind of organizational rehabilitation program?

Basically, I am a hot mess in desperate need of a few extra hours a day and 3 arms.   Can anyone tell me where to find them…?

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Our iPhone, our nanny…

I could lie and say we are great and highly interactive parents all the time but let’s get real: we’re exhausted. A few moments of peace or a second to close our weary eyes is welcome relief.

Enter the iPhone, chalk full of engaging kiddie games and interesting programming. My 3-year-old can download apps and order movies from Netflix; my one-year-old flips through pictures with ease.

Now don’t get me wrong: my children play a great deal. They have way too many toys, dress up clothes, and art supplies. They run and laugh and chase.

It’s just SCARY to me how fast they pick up technology though. I mean, I think myself pretty savvy personally but I have books and articles to go on, while their learning is all intuitive and figure it out.

I am a little scared about what that means down the line. Does it mean that the children are smart or that technology will end up making us all dumb?


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Destroy and learn?

My son’s morning typically begins with the same mission: “search and destroy – eating optional”.

The picture below was taken just this morning: besides systematically examining and deconstructing the play mat, my son also makes a beeline for anything that looks like a marker, preferably one my daughter was kind enough to leave uncapped: the messier the better. His other love? He will pass a giant pile of toys entirely if there is some kind of tag or receipt on the floor. Perhaps he is doing cost analysis?

This is one strange kid. He has, since birth, rubbed and patted his own head when drinking a bottle. He examines his hands from every direction, as of putting together some odd baby Rubik’s cube. He has a laugh like a braying donkey and speaks in pterodactyl and you would think forcing my eyelids open with his chubby fists is the coolest thing ever (my eyelids disagree): is he trying to figure out how they work or does he just like to hear me squeak?

I admit it, I don’t understand it but I cannot help but admire the little chap. I love the heck out of him and he fascinates me daily. I just hope that once his verbal skills move past “mama” he can explain some of this to me. In the meantime, I choose to believe it is all a part of his strategy development for eventual world domination.


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“They’re still alive, aren’t they?”

This post is a tribute to my sister Sharon without who I would be lost.
Probably. SHE would like to think so.

I am the oldest of of three girls, and the last of them to give birth. By the time my daughter arrived, I was hugely skeptical of any parenting advice that didn’t come from Dr. Sears or Babycenter, and dismissed that of most people who had already had kids. Most importantly, I had absolutely written off just about anything my sister had to say as I had developed…opinions…on her parenting decisions over the years.

Her classic retort to my disdainful accusations was always:

“Hey! They’re still alive aren’t they?”

And yet, now both my children have been dropped, fallen, climbed on things they shouldn’t and eaten the not edible: and they have lived to create havoc another day.  I have finally reached a point where I have become a little more relaxed about their general ability to bounce back from almost everything. While I am by no means cocky and do my best, sadly, I have given up hope of perfect mommy-hood and turned my back on being one featured in Parents magazine.

In point of fact, I have after a few narrow misses (saving my son from death by stairs and pulling my daughter off the chandelier) started using some of her favorite phrases. In response to my husband’s pointed, judging glare ( after I rescued the baby by one foot before he plummeted like a lemming off the side of the bed) I found myself yelling

“Hey! He’s still alive, isn’t he?!”

To which my very supportive husband drily replied:

“so far anyway…”

I take comfort in this, somehow – that children are resilient and designed for survival even when my mothering skills are sub-par or I miss the occasional immediate diaper change.  My sister’s darn-near-adult children (and truthfully wonderful, giving kids) are old enough to drive and babysit my kids ( which they do frequently)and one is in her second year of college. If hers have turned out so well there must be hope for mine.


The conversation

Best Friends as drawn by Syd Age 3.5

When you have two kids and one is talking and the other isn’t (I have a 3-year-old with the vocabulary of a high school student and a 1-year-old that speaks in pterodactyl) the dynamic is pretty darn interesting.  It is also horribly loud, and frequently painful requiring ingestion of copious amounts of Advil.  Their conversations go something like this:

Child one:  Heeehehehehehehehe  (loud)

Child two:  HeheheeeeheheeheheHAW (louder)

Child one: Snort….hahahahahahahaha..he!  (louder still)

Chrild two: Hahahah…snort…burp  (louder still and gross)

Child one: “Hey, that’s MY dolly!  ::grab::


Child one: “OK, fine.  YOU have it. Hmmph!”

REPEAT from beginning.

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