Not to whine

But the time change on top of a teething 2-year-old can be really unpleasant.

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Sibling Relations

The kids I am raising are nearly 5 years apart. Not the age span we’d intended. But one I’ve adjusted to.

I put off having kids until my mid-30’s. Truthfully, I was always a little on the fence about it. I realized at some point that I was holding on to the belief that my status as a birthmother actually indicated that I’d be poor mother material. And I probably would have been had I chosen to parent as a teenager. Sure, I know that some people rise to the occasion and me being the product of a “when-the-going-gets-tough-the-tough-get-going” upbringing probably had a good shot at it. But I didn’t think another person’s life was something that I should take that chance with.

By the time Sassy Lassy came along I was in my mid-30’s. Afterward we struggled to grow our family. And after being told it is was “unlikely” by one of the top-ranked fertility docs in the state we’d accepted that and moved on. Except then I got pregnant again and we went on to have Mr. Mister.

At some point while I was pregnant, Sassy Lassy had a full-blown crying-her-little-heart-out tantrum that I was going to have another baby. She’d grown quite fond of her status as an only. And to be honest? She’s never been very maternal. So, I worried about how their relationship would go. Would she resent him? Would the 5-year-age gap be insurmountable? Would they ever be friends? How much could I expect her to help when this brother was certainly something she hadn’t asked for?

And there is a lot of debate how much older siblings should be expected to care for their younger sibs on the interwebs and in my local mom community.

I actually think I’ve been on both sides of the fence.  

At first, I didn’t foist much responsibility on Sassy Lassy. I mean, she wasn’t even quite 5 and he was an infant.  And, as I pointed out earlier, she certainly didn’t ASK for another sibling. She’s stopped asking for that about the time she was 4. But as her own growing self-confidence at her place in the world has blossomed she has willingly stepped up  to take on more responsibility.  At first it started with her offering to “babysit” if I wanted to run to the corner store for donuts while JJ was still sleeping on Saturday mornings. But in recent months I can see how their relationship is changing and how she is actually enjoying being the source of amusement, comfort and education to her little brother. 

But I also occasionally pay her to watch him. She is always on the lookout to earn some scratch. And occasionally I would like to spend 10 minutes in the shower without an interruption. And there are many people that think that’s a strange notion because older sibs are supposed to take care of the younger ones, right?

But here is my rationale: While I love seeing those moments of genuine interest on her part for her brother’s welfare why wouldn’t I pay her for something I would pay someone else to do? Just because she is nearby and available shouldn’t mean that she has to do it by default. Instead, I’d rather teach her that the love and care and watchfulness that she so willingly gives is valuable and worth something. And while one of my jobs is to help keep Mr. Mister safe and contained another one of my jobs is to teach Sassy Lassy about responsibility. And a quarter here and there does a lovely job of that. Not to mention that an uninterrupted shower for me is priceless.

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Leaping before I look

I tend to be a “leap before I look” kind of a gal. I have finally realized that about myself. And so I started a new blog:

So, there.

I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.

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An hour at the museum

Forget a whole night at the Museum… I was there for about an hour with some first graders yesterday and it had me in tears!

I was fortunate to participate in an arts education program with Sassy Lassy’s school and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I got training from the MIA  (the only FREE art museum in the US besides the Smithsonian) to learn how to be a “picture person” and talk to kids  about art and then I went to into the classroom to talk to the kids. The theme for this year was “Animals in Art” and we studied several different mediums.

Let me clear: I am awed by the creative process that goes into creating such magical things. But I am definitely not an artist. Or even crafty. But I have always loved how art ties together history and transforms time and culture. So, I figured I would have something to connect with the kids on. My class room visits featured lively discussions and I was so inspired that I also volunteered to go to MIA with the kids to view the art in the museum setting. 

Definitely the high point for me was seeing the kids actually view the pieces we’d discussed in the classroom. And to see them actually digest how looking at pictures and props fell short compared to the real thing. Their imaginations were working overtime!

After we toured with a docent, we broke into smaller groups and I got to lead a troup of 4 students (including Sassy Lassy) on our own tour.  And I was immediately caught off-guard by the intensity of the questions about the “naked statues” and the male anatomy.

Yep, I fielded everything from “Why carve someone naked?” to “Is that what a penis really looks like?” all in the span of about 5 minutes. And we weren’t even in the gallery where many of statues reside! Honestly, if I hadn’t been so terrified that I would say the wrong thing I would have thought it was pretty funny. Yep, their imaginations were truly at work.

I feel pretty good about the way I handled it. We talked about the why’s and the how’s and even about how sometimes art is not exactly representative of the real deal.

And then when the tour was over and they were all safely on their bus and I was back in my car, I laughed until tears streamed down my face. My trip to the museum was definitely more entertaining than the movie. You just can’t write a script that funny.

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Yesterday’s Wacky Wednesday

I was delighted when JJ came home last night from picking up Sassy Lassy from a class at the community center and said, “Wow. Your Wacky Wednesday idea is really taking off. Several people mentioned it to me.”

Mostly, these people are my Facebook friends.

And since blogging is new for me, I realized when he mentioned that to me that I forgot about updating here.

So, here was the menu from our Winter Wonderland Wacky Wednesday: Halibut, Smashed Potatoes, Pears and Vanilla Ice Cream.

We got another 16″ of snow on Monday making this one of the snowiest winters on record in Minnesota.

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Epic Fail.

Mr. Mister has been sporting low-grade fevers that never manifest into any real sickness several times this winter. Could be his 2-year molars. Could be  his body fighting off something more serious. Could be it will morph into something worse. But, knock-on-wood, besides these fevers he’s actually been pretty healthy.

It’s tricky because I don’t feel like I treat his fevers well. I give him cool baths and cuddle him. But giving him acetaminophen or ibuprofen usually reduces his fever and amps up his energy level to an unbelievable level. The dye-free stuff IS better but still he is like a superball bouncing off the walls no matter how sick he is when he takes this stuff.  So, giving him a fever reducer is particularly tricky at night because while I want him to be comfortable and rest, I know if I give him anything that he will be awake all night long.

Such was the case last night. He went down about 8:30 and then was up about 1 a.m. We cuddled for a good couple of hours but by 3:30 my patience was wearing thin at his repeated requests to go downstairs. In desperation, I turned on the small television in my bedroom. Hoping I could find something on that would interest him while I dozed next to him since I had to get up and work today.

We did find a kid-appropriate show about a turtle named “Franklin.” But the brightly colored animals and the apparently riveting story line did nothing to soothe and lull Mr. Mister and give me a chance to catch some zzzzz’s. Instead, he kept point at the tv and asking “What that owl doing? Why, Mommy? What his name? Why do that?” And on and on and on.

A good reminder that tv is an Epic Fail as a middle-of-the-night babysitter, too.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

This is the first year in many that I did not send out Valentine’s to my family and friends. They’ve gone from elaborate handmade creations to photo cards in recent years but I still enjoyed sending a personal “I am thinking of you/I love you” to people near and far. Especially in this day of email and facebook.

My only excuse is poor timing –  I didn’t corral my kids and make them sit still for a picture and then I had to plan Mr. Mister’s birthday party and then I got sick.

Better luck next year.

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