Thursday, February 18, 2010

Baby Mine

I have a problem, in the form of an almost 20-pound, almost 9-month old baby girl who sleeps with me, or more accurately, on me every night. I love this sweet, beautiful child...


how could I not? But when she is ready to go to sleep, usually around 8 o'clock, my night is kaput. Things that really need to get done, such as laundry and dishes, are either put off until the next day or else I have to let my darling scream bloody murder while she watches me do my chores. Needless to say we usually wake up to dirty dishes, and the laundry, well...never mind. If I don't plan well, and I usually don't, things like peeing and brushing my teeth become difficult feats. Generally I wind up on the couch with my laptop, my activity choices having been narrowed down considerably. At the moment, I have no books to read, and I'm not too into watching the television. So I spend far too much time on the internet, quite often doing the hunt-and-peck typing technique since Mathilda likes me to cradle her while she sleeps, leaving me with the use of only one hand. If I'm lucky I can carefully remove my (numb) arm from under her (think pick-up sticks) after awhile. My goal is to use this time to blog more often, instead of aimlessly roaming the realms of cyberspace or indulging my crack habit, otherwise known as Facebook. A really good night is when I can transfer my not-so-little bundle to the couch or my bed to sleep on her own for awhile (forget the crib, not happening, especially because I live in fear of Waking the Big Kids). If this maneuver is successful, I generally have enough time to change into my jammies, brush my teeth, use the bathroom, and, if I go into hyper-speed mode, throw a load of laundry into the washer or dryer.

I know I need to do something about this problem. Some nights I want to scream, especially if I try repeatedly to put her down and she wakes up loudly every time. I like to get things done at night when the kids are sleeping, which is not possible as of late. Besides the basics household chores that need to be accomplished, I'd love to get out my sewing machine or my Cricut, or perhaps a Pilates dvd. When I'm ready to hit the hay, I don't so much mind sleeping with Mathilda (most of the time). The truth is, having a little person love you so much and want to be with you constantly is pretty much irresistible. And I know this is just a stage, it won't last forever. In the blink of an eye, my baby will be a big kid. I am going to figure out a way to break this habit, but in the meantime, I'm going to do my best to enjoy every second of it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Imagination Station - Toledo, OH

When Bethany and Connor were younger, my mother-in-law and I used to take them to COSI in Toledo. When COSI closed due to budget problems at the end of 2007, we were hugely disappointed. But good news - this hands-on science museum has re-opened as Imagination Station. This place is seriously fun.

Last week we took all four kids to Toledo for the day to check out Imagination Station. We were pleased to find that it was just as much fun as the old COSI. This time around was a little different for us since Bethany and Connor are older now and able to do different things, but we still had the two little ones with us so we could fully enjoy the area reserved for small fry as well.

One of the greatest things about Imagination Station is, in fact, the large section of the museum dedicated to children five and younger. There are many cool things to explore, such as a tree house,

a mini hospital and ambulance,

a child size grocery store, giant blocks, a water play area, and a room especially for babies. It's like a really awesome preschool classroom, but 1000 times better. Although designed for younger kids, even Bethany and Connor loved playing in this area. There is a gate to keep little ones from running off, a nursing room with a super-comfy glider and changing table, and a restroom with a preschool sized toilet.

As much as I love Little Kidspace, I was really excited that Bethany and Connor could try some things they were too young for the last time we were there. Bethany is the adventurous and gutsy one, so she tried the Boyo (sort of a human yo-yo)

and the high wire cycle.

They both went on the simulator ride (free for members, $1 for everyone else). Lucy tagged along for lots of fun activities too, like dancing on the giant floor piano,

and experiencing the force of hurricane strength winds. In the Traveling Exhibit Gallery, there was a neat-o animation exhibit with lots of hands-on stations demonstrating how cartoons are made.

Imagination Station is located in downtown Toledo. The parking situation isn't fantastic, you have to hike a bit to a parking structure or shell out $7 for valet. The employees are friendly and helpful. There is a cafeteria style eating area with lots of choices for snacking or lunch. When the weather is nice, you can sit outside and eat, overlooking the Maumee River. There are lockers available, family restrooms (I love these!), an elevator, and fun to be had for kids of all ages. Admission prices are extremely reasonable, starting at $8.50 for ages 13 and up, $6.50 for children 3-12, $7.50 for seniors 60 and older, and free for ages two and under. This is cheaper than going to the movie theater, and so much more entertaining! I hope the word is spreading that Imagination Station is open and just as great as COSI, because I would really hate for them to close their doors again.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bonne Anniversaire a Moi

I turned 35 last week. For some reason I can't quite put my finger on, I am always crabby on my birthday. Maybe it has something to do with my friend Cathy's reason for disliking New Year's...another year has passed...another year closer to the end of my life. I just count from birthday to birthday instead of by calendar year. Perhaps birthdays are just a depressing reminder of my own mortality, something which is never far from my thoughts. Instead, my birthday should be a time to celebrate my life. I am going to work on my attitude for next year.

For someone who is not into her birthday, I had a pretty good one. A couple days  before, some friends took me out to dinner. We had so much fun and laughed until we were given the evil eye by our waitress and thus felt compelled to leave the restaurant. I heart my friends. On the actual day of my birthday, my best friend Julie treated me to breakfast at Panera. Our big kids were in school, so we each had a baby with us...Mattie and Chloe - destined to be BFF's. Julie made me a plate of cookies and muffins to take home. She knows my weakness for sweets. My dad and step-mom came over for a visit. We ate carry-out Chinese for lunch and they brought me an absolutely decadent chocolate bump cake. It seems they also know of my weakness for sweets. Later on, my mom, mother-in-law and step-father-in-law came over too. This time we ate carry-out Culver's and my in-law's brought me another cake, an oh-so-delicious Casata cake. It was definitely a good day for eating. I had lots and lots of "Happy Birthday" messages on Facebook, a few phone calls and a couple cards in the real live mail. So really, I had no reason to be cranky on my birthday. I was spoiled and loved all day. But to be honest, I still was...a little bit.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


My kids are so spoiled. Today we took them to see Sesame Street Live. I cannot even give an accurate count of how many times we have gone to see Sesame Street Live. When I was a kid, my Uncle Herb took my cousins and I to see Sesame Street Live one time and it was seriously a highlight of my childhood. He bought me an Oscar the Grouch banner, which could very well still be in a box in my mom's basement. After the show today, we went to eat in Greektown. This is such a common occurrence that my kids pretty much expect a meal in Greektown whenever we do something downtown. I can remember going to Greektown once when I was a kid, and it wasn't until 5th or 6th grade. I went with my friend Kim and her mom, after a trip to the Science Center. We ate at the Pegasus in Trapper's Alley. It was a really big deal for me.

While I am happy that my kids have had numerous opportunities to do fun thing like this,  I'm not always sure we are doing them any favors. Do they really appreciate any of it? If they don't really appreciate it now, will they someday look back on their childhoods and thank us for everything? I want to give them everything, which I'm pretty sure is normal. But I also want them to know how fortunate they are. We do try to reinforce this idea, but who knows whether or not it is sinking in.

In contrast to my spoiled kids, yesterday I saw a homeless man at Eastland. I know he was homeless because he was carrying around a dirty black garbage bag which probably contained all his worldly belongings. This is probably not uncommon. Homeless people have to go somplace during the day when the shelters are closed, and the mall is as good a place as any. But somehow I've never really noticed. I couldn't miss this guy, since he was staring longingly into the display case at Auntie Anne's while I was standing in line. He nicely asked me to buy him something to eat, anything. I was wavering. I felt bad for the guy, but I am instinctively wary of strange men asking me for food or money, especially when I am by myself. As it turned out, the pretzel sticks I wanted were not ready, and when I came back 10 minutes later to get them, the man was gone. If he had still been standing there, maybe I would have bought him something to eat. I wonder if someone else bought him some food, or if a security guard came by and told him to stop loitering.

Last week, Chris saw a homeless man sleeping on the bottom shelf of the back aisle of the Dollar Tree near our house. This guy must have been exhausted and defeated beyond belief to clear off a shelf for a bed and wad up dirty paper towels for a pillow at the Dollar Tree. I think in general there is a lack of compassion for the homeless;  people seem to be annoyed and disgusted by them. Maybe people just don't want to think about this sector of the population because they are an ugly reminder that bad things can happen; or else they think the homeless are nothing but a bunch of junkies.  But my heart aches for anyone without a home and without a family to take them in. We are so blessed, and we can't ever forget that for one single moment.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Small Moments

I had some time to kill today while Lucy was at preschool. Not enough time to try on clothes at Macy's or get to the library and back, but a little window nontheless. So Mathilda and I hung out at Atlanta Bread, where I semi-guiltily enjoyed a chocolate croissant and a large hot chocolate. Mathilda had Cheerios and was none the wiser that she was totally missing out. We quietly enjoyed each other's company. When we were done with our snack we slowly made our way through Barnes and Noble, where I made mental notes of books I want to check out from the library because I'm too cheap and broke to buy them. It was a nice, quiet morning. I was reminded of similar times with Connor and Lucy while their older siblings were in preschool. A stroll around the neighborhood, window shopping, a visit to the park on a nice day...a little bit of "only child" time. I absolutely cherish these moments.

With four kids, alone time with any of them is pretty rare. Plus I'm always in a hurry to get someplace and always have ten million things to do. I try to remember to appreciate small moments that give me the opportunity to be with one of them...a short drive, a conversation while the other kids are still asleep, a cuddle after a bad dream...these moments add up to knowing my kids a little better. They still want to be with me, and those days are probably numbered, so I better take full advantage of them. If I'm not completely present in their lives, I'll wake up one day and they'll all be married or off to college and I won't know what hit me. I guess that is going to happen regardless, but I have to believe it'll be better for all of us if we create lots of memories together along the way, even small ones.

Old Man Winter

Although I recently made mention that I need to spend more time out in the "real world", the fact is, it's winter in Michigan. My baby girl has been sick since Christmastime. I'm tired and cold.  I just want to hibernate, or at least curl up on the couch and enjoy sedentary activities. Winter saps me dry of energy and motivation. Every year I simply cannot imagine going through the drudgery yet again.

I haven't been a complete hermit. I do need to leave the house on a daily basis for my Mom's Taxi Service duties. The pediatrician's office has seen me with at least one kid on a weekly basis, sometimes more. I've met with friends a few times, and even had a pretty major date night with Chris on his birthday. I've got plans for this coming weekend too, and I'll be glad to get out of the house, despite the challenge of getting motivated to do it. It's not just about leaving the house, though. It's also about doing things, even everyday things like laundry and exercising. When I have a rare instance of gung ho enthusiasm, I am more often than not hindered by a sick, clingy baby who just wants to be held (and held...and held....).  Okay, I'll admit she always wants to be held pretty much constantly, but when she's not sick I don't feel as guilty about letting her fuss for a few while I get stuff done.

So here are some of the things I would like to do, if I weren't held back by winter blah's and involuntary attachment parenting. I would like to get some use out of my gym membership, or at least find time to work out at home every day. I would like to see my friends more. I would like to volunteer to help with my church's McWarm program (they invite the homeless into the church three days a week for meals, clean clothes, showers, etc.). I would like to go the library. I would like to make curtains for my bedroom. I would like to conquer the laundry. I would like to browse Macy's and try on clothes. I would like to pick up a few things at IKEA and eat meatballs for lunch while I'm at it. I would like to take the kids to Cranbrooke or the DIA or the Science Center. None of these are lofty goals, but I feel so tired thinking about any of them.