Don’t Touch My Apples

IMG_2304Today was the first day of Thanksgiving break at the Casa de Up Popped A Fox. Our kids are out of school for the entire week which means that we get to spend a lot of time together while trying to prepare the house for guests and plan the menu for Thanksgiving dinner. Did I mention that we are still painting the kitchen? We are because everyone knows that right before you host a big holiday dinner is the best time to paint your kitchen! And Luisa is still working and I am still trying to finish NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo (though I officially hit the goal of 50,000 words yesterday).

So, there is a lot going on and when there is a lot going on, I need the children to behave like rational beings which appears to be an unreasonable expectation.

This morning, the very first morning of vacation, they got into an argument in the kitchen while preparing breakfast. I’m going to lay out a few facts to set the scene for you:

1. It was 10:30 a.m.

2. Zeca had already eaten breakfast an hour earlier and had made the meal herself.

3. Miguel wanted me to make breakfast for him and I refused.

4. Miguel has a slight germ phobia.

5. Zeca is fond of pushing buttons.

Zeca sat on a stool in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee and watching Miguel wander around the kitchen with bleary eyes and thought bubbles above his head that said things like “How does food happen?” and “There is no food in my mouth but I want there to be and why will no one take pity on me and make the food and put it in there?” Zeca looked on in mild amusement as she is the more practical of our two children and likes to watch her brother fail to meet his basic needs.

Miguel then asked, “Do we have apples?” and I suggested that he look in the fruit bowl where the apples have been kept for the entirety of his 13 years. He looked in the fruit bowl and exclaimed, “There are apples!” as if he’d found his fortune in the Great Apple Rush of 2014. He took one out of the bowl and washed it and then stood there with the apple dripping water on the floor and said, “How do I dry it?” I suggested that he use a towel or, if desperate, his shirt. “MOM!” he yelled in horror. He managed to dry the apple on a towel and then asked me to cut it. I suggested he use the apple slicer that he has used almost every day for the past week.

After he cut the apple, he fanned it out decoratively on a plate and went to the refrigerator to get the peanut butter. He spooned peanut butter onto the plate and when he turned to put it back in the refrigerator, Zeca plucked an apple slice from his plate and brought it to her mouth. She did not bite down on it or even touch it to her lips, it simply entered the air space of her mouth where it hovered until she was certain that he saw it and then she put it back on his plate with a laugh and said, “Sorry.”

Miguel then began to scream because Zeca had:

1. Dared to take an apple slice, the literal fruit of his labor.

2. Had breathed on it and then put it back on his plate.

There was much yelling by one child and laughter by the other and I chose to leave the room before I felt compelled to lock them both in the basement. But then, from my safe perch on the living room couch, I heard Zeca scream and I ran into the kitchen to find the eldest child rubbing an apple slice all over the youngest child’s face which is apparently how teenagers teach younger children not to touch their apple slices. I then yelled, “YOU DO NOT RUB APPLES ON YOUR SISTER’S FACE JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE ANGRY!”

So, that’s how the very first day of our vacation began. How was your Monday?

*Full Disclosure: The picture accompanying this story was taken a few weeks ago during an argument about egg salad. Zeca wanted to teach Miguel to make egg salad but he did not want to learn to make egg salad. Zeca suggested that someday he might want or need to make egg salad for a loved ones and he felt they could go to the store and buy egg salad for themselves.

Finding Beauty in Gray

IMG_2393It warmed up a little bit today and, as is often the case in Minnesota, we paid for warmer temperatures with gray skies. The morning was foggy and everything seemed surreal and I wanted to wander through it but instead appreciated it from within the dry and cozy confines of my home. I did step outside for a moment to capture this picture of the tree in our neighbors’ back yard because even though the day was dreary and the tree was bare, I was still drawn to it.

I spent half the day writing, putting words on the page while listening to music, which was perfect. The gray skies fit the mood of what I was writing and before I knew it I had written roughly 4500 words. There is beauty in that too because words don’t always come so easily.

I believe this is my 21st winter in Minnesota and, honestly, they are getting more difficult to endure for reasons I don’t quite understand. Maybe as I get older, I just want to be able to leave my house without a lot of hassle.

It’s looking like this winter is going to be a long winter and I am going to have to find ways to find the good in that. I’m going to need to stock up on hot chocolate and stuff for cookies and make sure that my warmest wool socks are in good repair. I hope I can focus on skis on a crisp white trail and time spent with friends next to a fire. The world will be in grayscale for months but pictures like the one I took today make me think that I just might be able to find the beauty in that too.

Very Special Advice for New Parents

IMG_1788Hello new and prospective parents! I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “I want to do the very best for my baby!” Of course you do and that’s why I have to give you some advice because sometimes doing the “very best” is actually the “very worst” thing to do. You see, I was once like you. I did all the right things and I have the pictures to prove it.

My first child eating only tofu and veggies while all the children around him ate popsicles? Check.

The black and white board books? Check.

Talking to the baby all the time every day always and forever? Check.

Yes, I was just like you – passionate and committed and completely dedicated to the enrichment of my babies.

But here’s what the experts don’t tell you. Those babies? The ones that get the “very best” babyhood? They grow up to have incredibly high standards – standards that are more than a mere mortal can meet. So, please consider the following:

1. Diet

You wait to introduce solids and then do everything by the schedule recommended by your pediatrician. You brainwash your kid into thinking that fruit is a dessert.

One of two things will happen:

a. Your kid will hide under the couch eating Dum Dums like a wild-eyed troll and you will only discover this when you move the couch and find the wrappers.

b. Your kid will inform you that he will not eat school lunch because the meat is not free-range and the fruit and vegetables are overcooked and not even organic which means you will be packing lunches for the rest of your adult life.

Let them have some junk food once in awhile. Resist the urge to send cantaloupe to school as their birthday “treat.” Also, do not make waffles from scratch. I repeat DO NOT. You will never be able to sneak an Eggo waffle past a kid who has grown up eating homemade. They will shun the Eggo and you will be the Prometheus of Waffles, forever chained to your waffle maker.

2. Free Time

You read to your baby many times a day. You shake those educational toys in your child’s face as many times as she would tolerate. You sit and play My Little Pony for hours even though it makes you want to time travel to the past and kill the maker of My Little Pony so that you never become a Pony Parent. You play board games until the words “chutes” and “ladders” strike fear in your heart.

You know what happens when your kids get older, they will follow you around telling you that they’re “bored” or “don’t have anything to do” and ask 293 times per day if you will play with them. They will be your constant companion forever and ever. You and your child will put the “bro” as in Hasbro.

It’s best to leave them alone. Give them a little space. Do not play Hide N Seek. Just play Hide.

3. Conversation

You narrate life as soon as they place your bundle of joy in your arms. You tell them you are drinking coffee and driving the car and making dinner and shaving your arm pits. You talk to them from the time they woke up until you tuck them in bed at night, convinced that your kids will someday dazzle the world with their vocabulary.

And they will. They will talk to you all the time. Think you can escape the words by having some private time in the bathroom? Fool! There is no private time! Your children will sit outside the door talking to you, telling you the tiniest details about the dream they had about a monster made of olives, “And he bled pizza sauce all over the carpet and you were so mad and then the cat came and we had a tea party and you know what we had at the tea party? We had tea! Now, let me describe the color and consistency of every leaf that was in my dream tea cup!”

They will come into your room at night while you are sleeping and talk to you like you have been in your room just waiting for them. These children do not believe consciousness is required for a conversation. My son once woke me from a dead sleep at 2 a.m. when he walked into our room and said, “Well, I just finished reading Despereaux and here is the thing about that book…” Do you want pre-dawn book reviews? Do you? I don’t think you do.

 

I hope you can see from these tips that setting the bar lower is the key to your survival as a parent. Because, you don’t know this yet, but your survival is much more questionable than theirs. Obviously, they are sly and know how to get their needs met. Why else would I be rattling my waffle maker as I type this?

Thirty Minutes

I have only thirty minutes before I have to pick up the kids from school. I spent the entire day out of the house on an errand for one of the kids and I can’t even tell you what I was doing because both kids are now old enough to find and read my blog–and they do sometimes. Zeca recently gave me some feedback on a parenting vlog I posted about a year ago.

The past few days have been stressful as we begin our high school search with Miguel. Emotions are running high around here and we are all worn out and worn down. So, today, I’m going to leave you with a picture. This is my happy place–Melides.

I’m clicking my heels…

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