Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Poke-a: Part Two

Where was I?
So as you can imagine, with a baby in the house we have to find multiple ways to keep Annabelle entertained.  I continue to be amazed at how she is turning into a little real person.  She knows so many words and talks in sentences and phrases.  We can almost have an actual conversation with her, granted it is a very one-sided and frustrating conversation that one might have with a criminally insane person...but a conversation nonetheless.

I suppose that when I say Annabelle is turning into a little person, a more accurate statement would be that she is turning into a little dictator. Christmas is just days away and I have yet to be able to impress upon Annabelle that if she is naughty Santa won't come.  She is certain he is coming and she is certain he is coming every, single, night.  I have learned that two year olds do not have a firm grasp on how the spacetime continuum operates.  I have also learned that when you raise your child to play outdoors every single day for hours until she is filthy and broken, winter in Wisconsin is a painfully long stretch of  time.

So in addition to competing with a new baby in the house, Annabelle has a touch of cabin fever and it has manifested in her personality, causing her to behave like Attila the Hun, which is what I have been calling her (not to her face) for the last couple of weeks.  Although I think Attila may have just been a tyrant and not officially a dictator.  And in that scenario would that make Bryan, Georgia, and I Eastern Europe? I'm not sure, history is not where I excel. Neither is math. Oh...and science.  And I think we all agreed that brevity wasn't either, so I'm not sure exactly where my talents lie. 

Perhaps you may think I am being unkind or am over-exaggerating this personality flaw, but let me provide you some highlights of life with Attila the Hun.

Annabelle prefers elevated seating so that she may supervise the house
Each day I pick Annabelle up from daycare and drive her home, which takes about thirty minutes.  In that thirty minute stretch I learn that I am not allowed to smile, dance, smile, stare, look at her, or speak.  My hands must remain at 10:00 and 2:00 (unless I am giving her a snack or a drink) and my eyes must remain straight ahead, per the edict of The Dictator.  Katie Perry comes on the radio and who can resist her empowering and catching girl power lyrics?  So I turn up the radio and begin to sing and bob my head back and forth.  From the back seat I see a single finger rise into the air followed by the angry war cry of Annabelle "NO DANCE, MAMA!  NO DANCE!" and if I ignore this order from the backseat, a shrill scream is shortly to follow.  So I stop dancing and quietly sing while I stare at the road, but The Dictator misses nothing.  "NO SING, MAMA!  NO SING!"  and then when I try to ask permission to sing I am interrupted with "NO TALK!"  So I stop talking and just quietly enjoy my song. And after a few minutes I glance up into the mirror to see what she is doing, and the finger is raised again, "NO, MAMA!" I am not sure what I have done this time, and then I realize I have made direct eye contact with The Dictator, which one should never do.

I don't know why I'm complaining, Milton and Bernie receive the brunt of Annabelle's leadership. 
do not disobey The Dictator
cruelty at its most primitive
Her new favorite activity is to boss the dogs around. she likes to open the gate
to our stairs and order them to go up the stairs and STAY or LAY DOWN.  Milton can handle this sort of guidance but Bernie is a nervous wreck.  He has been clinically depressed since we brought Milton to the far.  Annabelle corrals the dogs upstairs and then opens the gate to give them a taste of freedom and then slams it in their hopeful faces.  Its is a cruel form of torture.  Even now I had to pause from writing to go intervene on a situation on the stairs where Annabelle was at the top of the stairs shouting at Milton to "COME UP HERE!" and when he did not, a  Category 5 meltdown occurred.  And while I was trying to figure out how to fix the situation both dogs went into the kitchen and ate Annabelle's  "cerealraisin" in her snack bowl on the kitchen chair.  So as soon as the tears were dry from Milton not obeying her direct commands, they began to flow again when she realized her dogs ate her snack.  Maybe she shouldn't leave her snack bowl on the floor or where the doggies can get them like mama said.  Just a thought.

I try to engage Annabelle in activities such as reading, counting, flashcards, puzzles and anything else I can think of that we can do together. I don't know why I try to engage her in educational activities, she learns all she needs to know on the farm.  Some of Annabelle's first phrases were "dog hair everywhere" and "woodstove chores."   I can only imagine what the rest of the world thinks of our parenting.  We have to check her coat pockets before she goes into daycare because she smuggles nuts, screws, and bolts in.  I also don't know why I worry about my ability to educate her because my games and activities are never her first choice.  I have to compete with Daddy's games, and I have learned being the mom kind of blows.  Happy fun dad is always the one she goes to for entertainment.  I'm the jerk who washes her face and brushes her hair so she doesn't look like an orphan.  So when given the choice between playing with Mama or playing with Daddy, the winner will always be Daddy.

The two current running favorite Daddy games are  "Wallenda" and "Christmas Pokey Eye."
Wallenda is pretty self explanatory, right? Named after the famed Flying Wallendas, it is a death-defying act of balance.  Bryan lies on the floor and Annabelle steps carefully onto his outstretched arm and hand, and he yells "Balance!" and then she yells "Balance!" and then she balances precariously on his hand.  Then he instructs her to let go of his other hand she is using for support, and then she waves to me before crashing to the ground. To be honest I was pretty surprised at how good she is at this stunt.  She is able to balance, but she prefers the crashing to the ground portion of the game.   Actually she doesn't crash to the ground, she crashes into Bryan's skull and ribcage.   Bryan is most likely going to not only have brain damage from this game, but is also going to require rotator cuff surgery in the near future as well.

It is here I should offer a tip to parents of toddlers.  I was very afraid Annabelle would break ornaments on our tree or worse yet, pull it down.  I was prepared to have Bryan rig up some sort of system to tie the tree to the ceiling (wasn't that good of me to put in all that work thinking of  ways for Bryan to do work).  But we found an easy way to prevent this, we purchased the pokiest tree known to Earth.  We have a Blue Spruce and it is like barbed wire and therefore is almost impossible to touch.  As a result of this Annabelle does not touch it and gets very upset when anyone else touches it or grazes against it.  It is very pokey.

Thus the invention of "Pokey Eye."  In this game Daddy lies on his back and hoists Annabelle above his head superman style and pretends to fly her face-first into the Christmas Tree.  This causes her to squeal and recoil and scream "Pokey Eye!"  Lather. Rinse. Repeat. This makes her laugh very hard.  I think it is not dissimilar to a super fast roller coaster that is fun but also terrifying at the same time. The whole time you're laughing and screaming, but deep down you're wondering if your harness is going to come loose, sending your body flying through the sky like a rag doll.

At press time I was just corrected, and apparently I did not know the correct name of the game.  It is not  "Pokey Eye,"  it is "Poke YA."   As in "look out, the tree's going to poke ya."  Either way, it's a fantastic way to entertain a toddler. What better way to spend quality time with your daughter than pretending to hurl her, eyeball-first, into the pokey Christmas tree?  Really, if you were her, which would you choose: Flashcards or Christmas Poke Ya aka Christmas Pokey Eye?

Our activities and parenting choices may be questionable, but I am lucky to have a husband who will engage in this unsafe behavior so I can wash the dishes, feed the baby, or maybe even sit down and compose a blog post.  And Annabelle may be a bossy little dictator, but I would rather raise her to be confident in her voice than afraid to speak out.  I would prefer it if she wouldn't speak out so passionately to me and me alone about my dancing, but we will fine-tune this attribute later in life....hopefully.

Merry Christmas from Annabelle's Chickens

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Christmas Poke-a: PART ONE

I am fortunate in that I get to spend another Christmas on maternity leave.  I was home through the holidays with Annabelle, and am here again with Georgia. I have asked Bryan if we can continue to have babies, specifically in the fall, so I may spend every holiday season at home baking and cooking but he has yet to answer that question.

During both pregnancies I was terrified of having a newborn.  I pictured it as a hellish nightmare of a screaming baby and no sleep, and that has not been my experience either time. I feel like people really emphasize how rough newborns can be.  I am guessing we are lucky and I shouldn't rub it in the face of any mamas who found themselves in such a hell. I would say the first week is rough, and a lot of that was mainly due to breastfeeding.  Bryan and I are trying to figure out why mother nature didn't design this process so your milk comes in IMMEDIATELY upon giving birth (of course Bryan also believes human babies shouldn't be born with arms because they "just get in the way").  Because those first few nights before it does...holy moly.  Not fun.  But after you get the hang of it it's not so bad.  And I would imagine if you gave your baby formula that might ease some of the hell of the first few nights of life on planet Earth for baby too.  But aside from the first week of sleepless nights, I love having a little baby in the house.  It's having a toddler people need to warn you about!

I have learned that there are some things that are made difficult, if not horrifying when you have a screaming baby in the house.  Here are some tasks that I find nearly impossible to do when my baby is screaming:
   1.   Putting snowpants on a two-year-old.  This is not easy under any circumstances.  I dressed Annabelle in full winter gear to play outside with daddy and while I was wrangling with her on our heated floor, Georgia woke up and was immediately starving and therefore screaming while I was doing this.  Now I am not a believer in letting a baby cry, certainly not to the point of hysterics, but I am also not in the practice of letting Annabelle scream on the floor either.  So as a mom, I find myself faced with the daily task of choosing who to disappoint first.  This time it was poor little Georgia's turn.  I knew she wouldn't perish due to hunger so she was going to have to wait until Annabelle was dressed for snow.  Nothing makes me sweatier than my baby crying...and sitting on a heated floor trying to put snowpants and boots on Annabelle who insists on "helping" by shouting at me that I have put her boots on the wrong feet when they are in fact on the correct feet. 
Note that this photo was taken through the
window.  I just threw her outside, into the
elements, night.
   A sub-lesson of the snowpants/baby crying lesson is that is very difficult, if not impossible, to convince your husband that you are perfectly fine and do not need his help when you are lying on the floor dripping with your own sweat, gigantic milk stains leaking down the front of your shirt, and holding your eldest child in a Full Nelson.
  2.   Starting a new roll of invisible tape that may or may not rhyme with "notch".   I was wrapping Christmas presents which is a task I actually enjoy doing.  I like to fix myself a nice cocktail (usually Baileys and Hot Cocoa, but on this particular occasion it was Lambrusco) and listen to some traditional Christmas music and lovingly wrap my gifts.  Georgia was napping quietly in her swing while I did this and I was enjoying it.  I ran out of tape in the beginning of my wrapping but was not worried because I planned ahead and bought a package of four new tapes to have on hand for this very occasion.  I took out a new roll and gently pulled the little plaid, green starter tab ONLY TO HAVE IT SLIP RIGHT OFF THE ROLL immediately.  I attempted to find the end of this tape and thought, forget it. You have three more rolls. Start a new one  and fix this one later.  So I pulled out another roll, pulled gently and off came the tab again. This time I worked at the start of the roll a little longer. I worked on it long enough to peel one skinny little strand of tape all the way around the roll. Twice.  About this time Georgia awoke and began to cry. So once again I abandoned the roll and picked up roll #3 from the package.  I am not joking when I tell you the same thing happened again. With Georgia crying in her swing I again peeled and peeled at what appeared to be the start resulting in another long skinny strand of tape around the roll.  Sweaty and angry,  I removed a large knife from the knife block on the counter and held the skinny tape strand with one hand and sliced a new starting point into the roll of tape, jammed it back onto the plastic dispenser and gingerly pulled the new starting point to the serrated edge of the dispenser.  
Look at the top of that gift! After all
that, the tape isn't staying stuck!  (I
really like how you can see our lights
falling off of the tree in this pic)
    Now it is at this point where I am sure you are questioning if this is possibly user error. I assure you it is not. My thoughts and theories on this topic would need to be a separate post in order to fully express how I feel about this issue.  But it can be summed up like this: I am angry at companies that de-feature their products in order to retain or save cost.  I am convinced that the manufacture of this particular tape shortened the length of the starter tab, and quite possible changed the quality of material they use.  NOTE TO MANUFACTUREER: I should never have to remember to include a BONING KNIFE as a gift-wrapping supply.
    3.   Trying to convince the UPS driver that your dog is not going to kill him. This is also another highly sensitive topic.  Anytime dogs and humans try to coexist there is trouble.  Something has happened between Milton and UPS in the last year and I'm not sure what exactly it was.  But Milton does not appreciate the UPS Drivers, at all.  And sweet little Milton can be very, very scary.  And I do feel bad for the drivers, usually.  One of the problems is that UPS never delivers at the same time of day, and this time of year they have been here nearly every single day.  If Milton is outside when they show up none of the drivers will get out of their truck.  Two of the drivers wrap our packages in a large plastic bag and wing them into our yard lasso-style.  So please do not send us any Hummels for Christmas as they will most likely be shattered into a million pieces. 

He couldn't hurt a fly.  Although he has killed raccoons, chickens,
and given a coyote a run for his money.  But other than that..
couldn't hurt a fly.
I had been trying to keep Milton indoors on days I knew I had packages coming, but it seems UPS had a knack for delivering at the exact 15 minute interval I let the dogs outside to go to the bathroom...and at the exact same moment I had to feed Georgia.  So countless times this season I had to run out into the subzero temperatures barefoot, once again...large milkstains present on the front of my shirt with my baby screaming in the house and my shouting "it's ok, he wont bite, he's just protective!" as Milton foams at the mouth and claws at the door of the UPS truck growling, snarling and snapping. Fa la la la la la la.
And now as I type this I see that Georgia is waking up.  And while I am willing to let her cry while I dress Annabelle, mutilate a roll of tape, and rescue the UPS Driver, I'm not willing to let her cry while I ramble on here.  Which means this officially just became Part One of "The Christmas Poke-a."  I didn't even get to the Poke-a part yet.  Brevity is not something I am good at.