Here a Party, There a Party, Everyone has a Party

Birthday parties!  I have a love/hate relationship with these.   I don’t like planning them and for the most part I don’t like going to them either, but I know that they are an important part of my children’s youth.

Before I had Davey, the trend of themed parties was starting to come to light.   For his first birthday, I somewhat jumped on that bandwagon and planned him a nautical themed party.   I didn’t go all out with decorations and I most certainly did NOT have little goody bags for the guests.   Most of the guests were family anyways, while others were people who I had just met since becoming a stay at home mom.  It was a great birthday, but definitely not up to a party planners’ caliber.

The following year, I had a Mickey Mouse clubhouse themed party and while I went a little bit further with it, I still didn’t go to extremes.  I even managed to tone down the guest list.   By the time Davey’s third birthday came around, I had Henry who was 10 months old and I’d learned a few things regarding parties, what I wanted and expected out of them, and what was really and truly worth the effort.

Davey’s Mickey Mouse clubhouse birthday cake custom made by one of my best friends. She did (and still does) magnificent work!

I decided that I no longer wanted to have the parties at my house.  It’s a bit stressful preparing for a party and keeping a clean house with two boys, one grown man, and a dog.   I also decided that I didn’t HAVE to invite those family members who I only see once every other year.  In most cases, they were invited to save face, but every time they declined to show.   Now I just don’t bother.

Continuing with the theme for Davey…not doing these anymore.

I also decided that theme parties are ridiculous, at least for me they are, and truthfully my kid isn’t that concerned.   He just wants to have fun at some place he doesn’t go to everyday and with kids he can see outside of school.   For Davey’s third birthday, I had his party off site and we invited a ton of people.   My heart literally shattered when only 4 kids showed up.   Davey didn’t care so much, but I did.   I was pissed (still am to this day) at friends who didn’t show up.   Again, it bothered me more than Davey.   After that 3rd party, when I reserved a spot for 15 kids, with less than a third even RSVPing (come on, people, you’re adults.  A simple yes or no works), I decided to reevaluate what may be keeping parents from bringing their kids, which then had me thinking, “what makes me NOT want to go to a party?”

First thing is gifts.   I have enough stress in my life, enough things to keep on a calendar, that trying to go out and buy a gift for a 3,4,5 year old, whom I don’t know very well, is just a bit daunting.   I spend what feels like a lifetime in the toy section trying to find something not too dinky, but within my budget.  There are a select handful of kids who I will do this for, but really I don’t like doing it.   I have enough toys in my house, so many in fact that I had to shuffle them in and out.  Of course the necessity of buying a gift doesn’t keep me away from going to parties, but it’s still a pain in my ass.

So, what do I do with the gift headache?   Last year, I implemented a new policy where gifts are concerned.   There are people who feel they MUST by a gift.  I had a few people tell me they were disappointed that my child wasn’t getting gifts.   It’s a celebration, a party, a chance to have something that lasts longer than toys…memories and friends.   Since I knew people would want to buy a gift, I encouraged them to go to one of my favorite charities, the GHS Children’s Hospital, and a buy a gift for a child who is in the hospital, a child who doesn’t get the luxury of going out for parties.   I had thought it would be a hit, but alas only one set of parents bought a gift for a child in need.   That genuinely broke my heart.

Second thing is food.   I try to schedule my parties around a meal time so that encourages parents to want to bring their kids, because at least they don’t have to worry about dinner.   I make sure to have enough food for the parents as well.  If it means you will bring your child to my child’s party, then I will supply you with a meal.   All my kid wants is to hang out and have fun.

Third, has to do with activities.  When I was a kid, we had birthday parties at our house and my friends and I played out in the backyard barefoot with whatever toy was there.   We created our games, played sports, and ate cake and ice cream.   The parents were always on the porch or patio, not hovering over the kids trying to dictate what the kids should be playing.   For some strange reason, it seems that this day that just a big fat no no with parents, so I just have the parties off site at some sort of activity center where I don’t have to beat myself senseless trying to come up with activities.   Yet another thing that’s a pain in my ass.

Henry’s first birthday…no theme and he was happy.

I know, a lot of you are asking me about the gift situation right now.  I can see you telling me it’s not fair to deprive my child of an essential part of his childhood by not giving him gifts on his birthday.   To that I say, “back up and hold the phone.”   My children do receive gifts.   We have a small little birthday dinner, with my parents, aunt, and cousin, along with my mother-in-law every year where my children receive toys.   They have gifts to open, so I’m not taking away their chance to open gifts.   I know this is something that will keep me from attending a child’s party (not every child’s) and if I feel this way, I know other parents do as well.   If I can alleviate that stress (usually the biggest headache for a parent taking their child to a birthday party), thereby encouraging more of my children’s friends to show, then I am a happy mom.

Birthday parties are a dime a dozen.   When you become a parent, there are so many of them to attend, more than I ever recall attending when I was a child.   It seems as if we’re receiving invites to a new party at least once a week and I know that’s only going to get worse as Henry is officially old enough to be in school and have friends of his own.   Yet another party to plan and another whole set of parties to attend.  It comes with the territory of being a parent, but why not find ways to be considerate of the other parents when planning the party.   I know it’s the child’s special day, but even on his special day, consideration for others is always a must, at least in this household.

Henry’s first birthday….look at that smiling face.

Hi, My Name is Mischief and I Approve This Message

I’ve spent the better part of my blog writing about my first born son, Davey. It’s not unusual once you consider that he is the reason for the start of the blog. This morning, though, I woke up feeling a tad bit guilty that I haven’t really allowed my second born, Henry, to grace the words of my writing. Why is that? Perhaps it’s that he is so young and for the first couple of months he’s more like a blob, a phrase I’ve stolen from Angelina Jolie when she spoke of her first born, Shiloh. I thought she was heartless when she said those words, but having become a mom myself, I understand just how right she was. For the first couple of months, they don’t have much of a personality. They eat, sleep, poop, and cry. That’s it. But those days have long since passed with Henry. The boy will be 8 months old in a couple of weeks and I can’t help but wonder why I haven’t shared more of my adventures with him. Here’s the answer I came up with…I DON’T KNOW.

My Henry is the happiest baby I’ve ever met. He constantly has a smile on his face and doesn’t mind sharing that with the strangers of the world. I compare him a lot to Davey and how he was at that age, which may be a “no no”, but I like to see just how different they really are. He has two teeth, a lot faster than Davey did. He started crawling at 6 months and immediately began standing as well. He has a bottomless pit for a stomach, as I’ve had him on solids for a while now. And he sleeps! He actually puts himself to sleep without being rocked. I have him on the same nap schedule as Davey. So many said it would never happen.

Henry Mischief 2

Here’s the big difference between my two boys and the one thing that makes Henry so exhausting. He’s Mischief with a capital M. This child isn’t happy unless he’s terrorizing Davey, either by tearing apart something that he’s built or not allowing him to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in peace. He loves the toilet and dog bowls, things Davey never bothered. He chews on furniture, shoes, and basically anything he can get his hands on, including any part of my body. He was actually trying to chew on my shins the other day.

I suppose the one thing that really sticks out, the one thing that is the most annoying habit of little Henry is his incessant need to try to climb baby gates! I put those gates up for Davey when he was about this age and not once did he ever try to touch the gates, chew them, sniff them, kick them, or climb them. It’s almost as if they were an electric fence of sorts and he never went near them. Henry? All of the above items I listed which Davey NEVER did, Henry does. It’s exhausting.

On the plus side, he’s keeping me on my toes which in turn is keeping me on my weight loss track. I wouldn’t want a docile baby. Where is the fun in that?

Please note the carnage of the Davey’s train tracks in the floor along with the demolition of his pieces of artwork all at the hands of Henry in the picture below. Sigh. My little one man demolition or basically any other pre-toddling 8 month old. Happy Wednesday.

Henry Mischief

Real World Multi-Tasking

I’m a little late on this post, but seeing as how the photo is still circulating through the web and in discussions with some of my fellow moms, I figured it was safe to blog about real world multi-tasking and not the type that Gisele Bundchen subscribes to.

Shortly before Christmas, Gisele Bundchen (supermodel and wife of New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady) tweeted a picture of herself as she was nursing her daughter. She titled the photo: “Multi-tasking”. Problem is, she wasn’t actually multi-tasking, it was more like she was being multi-tasked on. While nursing her daughter, Gisele had her head flung back so her golden tresses could be styled, and her make up applied, but she didn’t stop there. She had yet a 3rd person who was giving her a manicure. As a side note, let me say kudos for the fact that she is nursing her daughter and not ashamed to show it.

In light of her version of multi-tasking, I decided I would drop her a quick little note that describes a day in the life of a normal, day-to-day stay at home mom who does not have the luxury of having extra personnel to help out with the day. So, Gisele, should you decide to really know what multi-tasking as a mom is all about here’s my past few days with a 27 month old and a 3 week old. Ready? Go!

Multi-tasking is when you’re trying to deal with tech support on your computer, while also nursing your three week old, and paying bills.

Multi-tasking is when you’re nursing your three week old, while also changing the diaper of your 27 month old.

Multi-tasking is when you’re nursing your three week old, cooking dinner, and cleaning up from the disaster the dog left at the trash can.

Multi-tasking is when you’re nursing your three week old and cleaning off crayons from the wall while also making sure that your 27 month old stays in the time out he was placed in for causing you to multi-task this issue.

Multi-tasking is when you’re able to write this blog, while nursing your three week old, and making sure that your 27 month old is happily watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Multi-tasking is when you’re changing your three week old’s diaper while in the bathroom because you’re also potty training your 27 month old.

Multi-tasking is when you’re able to give your three week old a bottle while also folding clothes.

Multi-tasking is when YOU are the one physically doing multiple tasks, NOT when you’re doing one task while other people complete the rest.

So, Gisele, please think about the rest of us moms who don’t have your millions of dollars before you decide to insult us by throwing out a picture of your supposed “multi-tasking” abilities. Perhaps you could even pull the word up in a dictionary to find out the true meaning in order to use it correctly.

My Personal Deprecation

This morning we had a wonderful experience with Davey. I have to admit the kid continues to surprise me and he NEVER ceases to amaze me. Today was no different.

While scrambling up a couple of eggs for Davey, he stood at the fridge where we keep his magnetic letters. I’ve worked hard with him to learn his alphabet, to recognize the letters, to say the letters, even if he doesn’t say them all in order yet. At one point, he started doing what I call “droning”, or perhaps it was just me. You see, we’ve become accustomed to him constantly “talking”; however, we don’t always know what he’s saying. I figured this morning was the same or maybe he was just talking to himself, something else he seems to do. It wasn’t until a few seconds later that it dawned on me what he was doing. He was pulling the letters off of the fridge and saying what the were. I was thrilled! I was so ecstatic that of course I called my husband.

My husband was so proud of Davey, even listening to him as he told his daddy over the phone what letters he was holding up. Of course, my husband had to just trust that Davey was picking the correct letters since he couldn’t see him. I was so excited I had to call another family member and tell that person as well. Before I go further, I’m not going to name that family member here. I don’t want to air out my or I should say “our” dirty laundry.

The family member picked up the phone after a couple of rings and I told them what Davey had just done. The response was far from the level of excitement I was hoping for. Maybe Davey’s behind at this point, but for 22 months, I think he’s doing very well being able to say his letters as well as recognize them.

I prodded and tried to encourage the family member by explaining that Davey is only 22 months old and wasn’t this just wonderful? The family member tells me that Davey is a busy body and that’s why he’s learning so much. Of course, I wanted to toot my own horn just a bit since I work with him relentlessly on a daily basis. My response, “Well, don’t give me any credit for it.” The family member’s response, “Hmmm. OK.”

Naturally, I’ve hit a downward spiral since the conversation this morning. I’m back to doing what I do best, self deprecation. Am I not doing a good enough job? Am I doing more damage than good by staying home with Davey? I’m really starting to think I am and it really saddens me because it makes me feel like I’m a failure.

There are a lot of other stay at home moms out there and I can’t help but wonder, are you guys in the same boat as me? Are you constantly feeling ridiculed by family members, feeling that you’re inadequate or that you just aren’t doing a good job? And if you are, what do you do? Wanna know what I did? I put Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on for my son and then came upstairs and cried.

I suppose I should just say “screw you” to that family member (which I would never be able to do) and be proud of my son. And I am proud of him. I’m very proud of him, I just can’t help but wonder sometimes if he could be more without me, do more without me. Am I holding him back?

It’s just another day in being a mother and maybe I’m weak for letting this family member get to me. I’ll bounce back, but I’ll still constantly wonder if I’m really doing a good job. I suppose that comes along with motherhood or maybe just my personality in general because even if I was a working mother, I’m sure I would be doubting myself and my choices.

Weaning Myself

As each day passes by and we become one day closer to welcoming Version 2.0 into our house, I’ve started trying to find ways to perhaps make myself more independent from Davey. This is a bit of a touchy subject and I know all of you moms out there will have different views on what I’m doing, but lately it seems that I can’t even go to the bathroom without Davey grabbing hold of my legs. It has me slightly worried especially since once the new baby arrives, my attention will be divided.

My entire day revolves around Davey. Some say that’s a bad idea and that I’m doing damage to both of us by involving him in everything. Perhaps that’s so, but I feel that everything I do everyday can somehow be turned into a learning experience with Davey. Things such as folding clothes (he likes to match up his socks and put away his own clothing) and putting up the dishes (I give him the silverware, minus the knives, and let him sort them into their proper cubicles in the drawer) all seem minor to me, but to some seem to be a lot. My hope with doing this is to help him learn some responsibilities, but am I just making him more attached to me? After all, I can’t even seem to do minor household chores without Davey wanting to “help” which really creates more work for me.

The only way I’ve found to really give myself a break with Davey is to put Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on and let him watch it for about an hour. I hear the gasps from all of you out there who don’t believe in any form of television right now. Well, judge away, I don’t care. I need to give both of us a break from each other and right now these seems to be the best way.

My worry is that he may rebel once the new baby arrives. Yeah, that could be a bit crazy, but he’s also never really had to share me with anyone. I don’t want him to resent his younger brother or sister, and he may very well not. Either way, I just feel that these days he’s much to clingy with me, and only me.

Lately, I’ve begun to research various toddler activites that he can do alone. I’ve cleaned out his toys and gotten rid of the “baby” ones so that he can focus more on the toys that are age appropriate to him. I’ve actually found that just doing the latter has really changed his attitude alot. The other day I bought him five Matchbox cars at Wal-Mart and so far those have been the greatest toys ever. He’ll spend hours driving them around on the hardwood floor.

So, am I wrong to try to wean myself from Davey? For those of you moms who’ve felt the need to do this, what did you do and how did it work?

What Does Davey Know?

I have a smart child. I know, I know, every mother out there says the same thing and I’m sure there are children out there a lot smarter than mine, but this mama certainly does feel that her son holds something special.

Monday, I went to my second doctor’s appointment since finding out I was pregnant. Of course, we were able to get another ultrasound with a picture thanks to the really weird uterus I have (remember I’ve blogged about this before). The nurse handed me a long sleeve of new pictures to bring home. First, before I go any further, let me just say how simply AMAZED I am as to how fast a baby grows! I mean, I know that Davey is growing quickly before my eyes, but a baby that’s in the womb? In a short three weeks time, my baby has gone from a Butterbean to having legs and arms along with a nose and even definitive eye sockets! How crazy!

After dinner that evening, I was lying on our bed upstairs. My husband brought Davey to me and I turned a little Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on for Davey as he cuddled up beside me in the bed. At one point, as I was looking at the pictures of the new baby, Davey turned around. He slid back towards my head and then looked over my shoulder. I told him this was Mama’s new baby. He pointed at my belly and said “Baby”. He learned this a few weeks back and will gladly show anyone and everyone that he knows where the baby is.

I said “yes, that’s where mama’s baby is.” Then I asked him if he wanted a little brother or little sister. He said, “sissy”. He didn’t even hesitate, he just spit it out. I asked him if he was sure and he nodded his head “yes”. I said “ok”. We, then, went back to watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. After about 20 minutes and completely out of the blue, my son did something that nearly brought tears to my eyes. It was something that just made my heart swell and reaffirmed mine and my husband’s decision to bring another child into this world. It was something that made me feel that I DO have the smartest child in the world. It was something that could be used in a Mother’s Day ad (much like the Publix one that makes me tear up every time).

My beautifully intelligent, overly inquisitive, and big-hearted little boy placed his head on my belly (which really hasn’t gotten that big yet) and said, “hey, sissy.” I certainly do hope that if this is a little girl I’m carrying she heard how much her big brother loves her already and if it’s a little boy, well I hope he doesn’t kick Davey’s butt for referring to him as a girl.