Saturday, February 13, 2010

We Can't Have Anything Nice in This House!

I remember that phrase as a child. Has anyone gone through childhood without hearing it? However, it was only recently I fully began to appreciate just how true that phrase is. I've been working very hard on creating a new room for them that has been in planning for months. But I sit here now wondering why I didn't just strip the room bare and throw a couple of mattresses on the floor.

Allow me to take you on a journey of a week in my life.

Saturday, Jan 30th- The shampoo incident
We are expecting company. Since I still haven't hired a new housekeeper, my house is not exactly ready for primetime. We waited way to late to begin cleaning and then the frenzy began. While Bill and I were busy running from room to room picking up and vacuuming, I remember thinking how nice it was that the girls had finally stopped getting in the way and had gone off to play. My second thought was panic that they had stopped getting in the way and had gone off to play.

I stopped what I was doing and began to look around for the two cohorts. I saw the bathroom light was on and the door was closed. Uh oh. This can't be good.

I slowly opened the door and saw the shower curtain pulled shut. I pulled back the curtain and there I saw two fully dressed, fully soaked girls. But not soaked in water. They were soaked in shampoo. They had taken a value sized bottle of shampoo and covered every square inch of themselves, the tub, the floor, and the toilet.

Of course that was a room that had already been cleaned. Now we get to clean it again on a day where we just didn't have the time. Bill stripped the girls down, tossed them in the tub and cleaned the toilet and floor while the tub got cleaned from the girls splashing in the bath.

There was a plus side out of that mess. I don't think our floor nor our girls have ever been quite so squeaky clean.

Sunday, January 31- The bins
I had carefully sorted all of the old girls clothes to get them ready for sale and give away. I had sorted them by size and by season and had gotten the label maker out as a final mark of my brief window of organization. I had all of the bins stacked in the living room for Bill to take to the basement.

It took no time at all for the girls to discover the bins and decide they would work much better as play toys than as storage bins. When I came downstairs, this is what I found.

Every bin had been opened and the mixed and tossed about the living room and they were using the bins as forts. Nice.

Monday, February 1- Stickers
Let me say I hate stickers with a white hot burning passion. Once upon a time, I thought they were a clever distraction. I naively thought that if I gave the girls sticker books they would sit there quietly and place their stickers in corresponding pages and admire them within the confines of the princess book pages they were given. That happened once. Every other time stickers have been involved they have been placed anywhere but in the dedicated sticker book pages. They have been found on every piece of furniture, in their hair, in the car, in the dishwasher, and in Bailey's diaper. I have worked very hard to eradicate the house of every sticker and sticker book ever bought. Yet somehow, there is always more. I am convinced that somewhere in the house Reagan has a super secret stash of nothing but stickers and fruit snacks. She seems to have a never ending supply of both despite being cutoff for quite some time. Some day I'll find that chipmunk's stash, for now, I deal with them as they come.

On this day, stickers magically appeared on the living room windows. Some of the stickers were strategically placed up to six feet high. Despite having to get the goo gone yet again for another sticker incident, I am impressed at a 3ft munchinkin's ability to get the stickers possibly higher than I could have stuck them.

Tuesday, February 2- Sledding
Dear Diary, today I observed the girls using princess sleeping bags to pull each other throughout the house as sleds. I was too tired to care. I told them to carry on.

Wednesday, February 3- Washable Markers
Today Stanley Steemer came to remove the red, green, and blue washable marker from the carpet. Turns out "washable markers" are not actually "washable" on carpet. This was duly noted and all washable markers were promptly tossed in the trash (however I'm sure Reagan managed to get a sizable stash hidden with her stickers and fruit snacks before they were all tossed. I don't expect this to be the last of them.)

Thursday, Februay 4- The beds
The girls got to sleep in their new beds for the first time last night. Bill and I spent hours assembling them, making the beds, and getting everything just so for their first night.

Usually when they get up, first thing they do is head into our room and begin asking for milk, cereal, pancakes, pizza, fruit snacks, whatever strikes them. Today, they got up and started playing in their new room. When I heard them awake I went into their room. They had stripped every blanket, sheet, and pillow off of the beds and had shoved them in their princess castle tent. They then managed to toss one of the mattresses on the floor and were crash diving from the box springs to the mattress. They had also emptied every bin of toys I had carefully organized and emptied the contents of eight of them into their tent and once they finished that they tossed the bins in on top.

I walked back out and went back to bed. Maybe it was just a bad dream.

Friday, February 5 and Saturday, February 6- Say What?
No destruction! That was because we had company. The little monsters were on their best behavior so that my family would think I'm just making up all of the stories about them.

Sunday, February 7- Hershey's Kisses and chapstick
Family is gone so the girls had two days of pent up destruction to get out. The family was gone about 15 minutes before Reagan discovered some Hershey's kisses wrapped with a souvenir hockey puck from the hockey game the night before. Most went of the chocolate found its way into her mouth. However, some discovered its way into the couch and had melted into a series of Rorschach inkblot tests.

While Reagan was busy with Hershey's kisses, Bailey was upstairs. I heard a scratching noise on the walls and went to check it out. She had scribbled the entire length of the hallway with chapstick. I caught her in the act:

That was just one piece of the hallway. Multiply that by three for the full effect.
Note to self: Don't waste time trying to scrub off chapstick off the walls with wet wipes. It doesn't work.

Today, February 13- Sharpie
I was passing yet another kidney stone today. Bill had to leave for a while. I called a babysitter to come take care of the kids while he was gone so I could lay in my room and die.

I only had to make it 30 minutes after he left and before the babysitter got there. I laid in my room with the doors open and stupidly thought that the girls would quietly sit in the living room and play and watch tv for 30 minutes. What part of this post would make me think that, you say? None. But when you're in pain you'll rationalize anything.

About 20 minutes into Bill being gone, 10 minutes before the babysitter arrives, I hear a loud crash. I run downstairs to make sure the girls are ok. Thelma and Louise aren't in the living room at all. They are in the foyer. But not before they made a pitstop in the kitchen to dig through a few drawers to find their latest object of desire.

I run up to them and Reagan says, "Bailey dropped the sign on the floor." That's what made the loud crash, no harm done. I start to relax seeing they are both breathing and nothing is broken. But then I see Reagan and notice glints of silver around her mouth, on her hands, and running down her pants. While I am examining her I hear Bailey say, "Ray-run did it" and she's pointing to a corner of the hardwood floor.

That's when I see what was done. And that's where I actually start to cry. Reagan had found a metallic silver Sharpie pen (you know, the VERY permanent ones!) and had colored all over the floor and the wall. She had begun writing her name on a very precious table my father had handmade for me with countless hours of love. She had gotten through "R-E" and a scribble before Bailey crashed the picture. I circled the room and saw that she also scribbled on a 150 year old chair that had belonged to my great-great grandparents and had been passed down to me after my grandpa "Pop" had died.

Of all of the destructive things my girls have done, this was by far the worst. I yelled at Reagan and told her she ruined something very precious and valuable to me. I then got my composure and went and dug out the magic erasers I bought a while back and hadn't pulled out of the box. I tested it on the hardwood floor. I hate the finish on the floors anyway. To my surprise the Sharpie was coming off and wasn't removing the finish. I held my breath as I got the nerve to try it on the table. To my delight it worked! The Sharpie came off and the finish was still perfectly preserved. I decided to try my luck again and tried the chair. Again, it worked. It carefully removed the marks while leaving the beautiful patina that only 150 years of wear will provide. It also worked on the walls, but I noticed the wall was slightly darker where I removed the Sharpie.

About that time the babysitter arrived. I went back to my bedroom and decided the girls just might live to see another birthday after all.

So now it's the end of the day and I find myself once again saying, "How come we can't have anything nice in this house!?"
I'm also wondering what's in store for tomorrow. At the very least I'm looking up the stock in Magic Eraser and looking into buying that stuff by the case.

When I grow up

Reagan: "When I grow up I want to be a bad, wicked witch."

When she was two she wanted to be a school bus driver. But now this? Where have I gone wrong? Someone is getting cut off from watching any more Wizzard of Oz.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


There is a Six Sigma management technique that is used to identify the root cause of problems called "The Five Whys." You start with an issue and continue asking why until you get to what the problem really is. Doctrine has it that it was developed by a guy in Japan at Toyota. I implore that it was more than likely developed by the mom of an inquisitive toddler who recently learned the word, "why."

Earlier this week we were in the car and Bailey asked a question. I gave a response, and she said, "Why?"

We were so excited! She hit a developmental milestone! This is big news! We need to log this stardate!

Three days later, and we are wishing she'd learn a new favorite word already. Every question and response is now reduced to a one word response.

Bailey: I have pockets in my dress?
Me: No, sweetie, there are no pockets in that dress.
Bailey: Why?
Me: Because the dress didn't come with pockets.
Bailey: Why?
Me: Because they didn't sew any on when they made it.
Bailey: Why?
Me: Because they wanted to save fabric to sew more dresses.
Bailey: Why?
Me: Because the person that designed the dress didn't think you needed them.
Bailey: Why?
Me: Because clearly the person that designed the dress didn't have a two year old of their own.

This sort of dialog continues for 30 minutes at a time. I've now clearly identified the root cause to the lack of pockets in girls' dresses amongst dozens of other earth moving revelations.

Need to learn the answer to word peace? Want to know why your DVD player isn't working? Just ask a two year old. Chances are, she's got all of the right questions.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Beginnings

"...For if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet."

It's a new year. Funny, I don't feel all that different. It's like having a birthday, you are technically one year older but yet you look and feel the same as you did the day before. But because of some mark on some calendar adopted by some Pope back in 1582, we get a chance to designate a particular day more special than other days. It's a day where we get to mentally wipe the slate clean and start fresh. We get to say, "last year I had some bad habits" or "last year some bad things happened" but "this year will be different." We start off the new year thinking this is going to be the best one yet, the one where you get everything in your life just exactly the way you want it to be. We have grand ideas of these great goals, but within two weeks 30% of us have already given up and only 50% of us make it three months. Which is exactly why only 40% of us even bother to set new years resolutions at all.

Those aren't great odds. But I'm going to do it anyway. The year 2009 was pretty much one of the worst years of my adult life. It was tough mentally, physically, emotionally. I am determined to take 2009 and learn from it and make the subsequent years all that much better. I took the bitter so that I can appreciate the sweet all that much more.

So in order to make 2010 better and make 2010 where I want to be mentally, physically, and emotionally, here are my goals that I'd like to share:
  • I want to get organized. I want to have every closet, drawer, and nook and cranny organized. I want everything to have a home and a purpose or it is gone. I don't want to have to rely on a housekeeper to keep my life in order.
  • I want to be healthy. I want to eat healthy and exercise at least five times a week. If that leads me to my wish of losing a gazillion pounds, that would be even better. But ultimately I want to make sure I am healthy so I am around for my family for a long time and I want to be happy and secure with what I look like.
  • I want to become a better photographer. I want to learn to use my camera better and take better pictures. I want to one day take the darn thing off of auto.
  • I want to document the life of my children and myself for posterity. This is simple, I resolve to blog more. There are a lot of reasons I didn't blog much last year. I'm taking all of those away so that I have no reason not to blog at least five times a week.
  • I want to have a work life balance. This has always been a struggle. I still haven't figured out my action plan for this one. I just know that I need to make sure I put more time and attention to my children and husband and less on my work. If I don't, I'll fail at my other goals.

It's a tall list, but I think it's reasonable. I just need to set aside a little time each day. We'll see how far I get. Hopefully I'll be one of the minority success statistics rather than the majority that give up after three months.

So, how about you? What resolutions or goals have you set for yourself? How do you plan to make this year better than the ones before?