Will Work for Chocolate

July 15, 2013 at 7:00 am | Posted in Family, Me, Serial Commas | 17 Comments
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OBJECTIVE
Raise three kind, creative, patient, helpful, empathetic children while maintaining my sanity, marriage, and hidden cache of chocolate.

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS

  • 7+ years of experience growing, birthing, and raising children.
  • Expertise in multi-tasking, resource allocation, conflict management, customer service, program development, scheduling, chauffeuring, and train-track assembly.

SKILLS

  • Successfully completes numerous tasks simultaneously, including talking on the phone, digging a red Matchbox car out of my purse, wiping someone’s nose, and cutting off sandwich crusts (after washing my hands, of course).
  • Arbitrates disputes over who ate whose Cheerios, who squished whose roly poly, who isn’t sharing the paper-towel-tube telescope, and who pulled the dog’s ear first.
  • Teaches manners to otherwise caveman-like children who resist learning to pee in the potty, share their toys, and color on the paper (and only the paper).
  • Utilizes educational resources including television, computers, and video games to prepare children for school.
  • Possesses uncanny knack for knowing location of missing household items including left red rainboot, yellow cupcake eraser, favorite stuffed bunny, froggy sippy cup, and library book due tomorrow.
  • Treats boo-boos from keeto bites and cat scratches to goose eggs and stubbed pinky toes.
  • Manages four laundry baskets, three toilets, 56 markers, 56 marker lids, and one husband.
  • Able to overcome a variety of obstacles, including sleep deprivation, wasp nests, and refusals to eat broccoli or anything green for that matter.

AWARDS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Clean floors if you don’t look too closely.
  • Record WWF score once of 114 points for the word “zouk,” obtained while children were feeding Play-Doh pizza to the dog.
  • Children who sleep through the night in their own beds. Mostly.
  • Recipient of lifetime supply of rainbow drawings.

EDUCATION

Are you hiring? What skills are on your mothering resume? And would you like to be paid in Cookies & Creme Hershey Kisses, too?

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I is for “I’m an innovator in my industry.” See more I’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

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March Madness

April 1, 2013 at 11:36 pm | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Lollipop | 5 Comments
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March madness? At our house, it doesn’t involve basketballs or brackets or neon yellow sneakers. It’s all about the eggs. And the chocolate. And making sure your siblings don’t get one more string of crinkly fake grass than you in their baskets. Not to mention jelly beans.

The hunt for eggs is mostly complete before Mommy drags herself out of bed toward the gleeful shrieks coming from downstairs.

The dog finds eggs, too. And eats them. This does not turn out well later.

Small children devouring chocolate bunnies results in sticky fingers, chins, cheeks, eyebrows, elbows, nostrils, knees, toes, and ear lobes.

As if more sugar was needed, there is syrup for dinner. Oh, and, bunny-shaped pancakes.

But … No yucky black-licorice jelly beans enter the premises under any circumstances.

Three sets of small fingers search all baskets a minimum of seven times to ensure that tribute has been distributed equally.

The cat protests the bunny ears forced on his head by eating some faux purple fur.

No one falls asleep until at least two hours after bedtime. And, somehow, there is no leftover Easter candy for Mommy and Daddy to sneak.

If I get to the grocery store early enough Monday morning, there are always a few teeny-tiny bags of heaven-sent Cadbury mini-eggs hidden behind the giant generic chocolate coins on clearance.

And that one last dyed egg? Will just not be found.

What signals Easter at your house? How do your pets involve themselves in the celebration? And where did you find that last egg?

Giggles and Grins

December 19, 2012 at 8:22 am | Posted in Giggles | 10 Comments
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My Giggles is 5 this week.

He’s almost a kindergartner. With feet the size of a fourth-grader. And a cowlick that makes him taller than his sister.

 

He loves poop. Rather, he loves to talk about poop. When he forgets to listen, it’s because there was too much poop in his ears. When Lollipop irritates him, he threatens to dump poop in her room. When he and Bun are playing trains, one of the freight cars is more often than not hauling poop. (Thankfully, it’s the imaginary kind.)

He is strangely fascinated with batteries. (“How do they work? Why do they have chemicals? What kind of chemicals? Why can’t you see the chemicals? Why do they die? What do they get turned into when you recycle them? Why are they different sizes? Can I sleep with one under my pillow?”)

He will not touch broccoli. Or sweet potatoes. Or peas. Or green beans. Or spinach. Or smoothies. He will devour bananas. And cherry yogurt. And kolaches. And Tic Tacs.

He is in love with my blue electric pencil sharpener.

He helps his little brother put on his shoes. And feed the cat. And build a Lego tower. And get a bowl Cheerios. And sneak Tootsie Rolls.

He has an uncanny knack for finding money wherever he goes. In the dirt at the Y. On the curb at Schlotzsky’s. Under the Great Value soda machine at Wal-Mart.

He does not like me to clean his peanut-butter face with the time-tested spit-wash method.

He keeps his treasures in the tiny drawer next to his socks. Bits of leaves. Acorn tops. Starbucks sleeves. Bouncy balls. An empty toothpaste box. Chuck E. Cheese coins. A zebra magnet. A pizza-restaurant flyer. Two orange slinkies.

His entire day is an adventure just waiting to be narrated. Which he does. With plenty of “That was awesome!” thrown in.

He’s so big, and so little. When he heaves himself onto the pool ledge at swim lessons, I’m absolutely certain his lanky arms won’t support him. They bend and sway like a fawn teetering in the clover.

But those arms always hold. Even with that brick-red train track of a scar, they hold.

And because they hold, I do.

What’s in your child’s treasure drawer? Are vegetables his sworn enemy? Is there too much poop in your ears today??

Partners in Time

May 8, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Bun | 17 Comments
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It’s Mother’s Day. On this very day last year, my son was born. My third child. My 10-pounder. My baby.

What a year it’s been. He smiled.  He ate and grew. Then he didn’t. Then he did again. He rolled over, sat up, and pulled up. He discovered his hands, his toes, and his voice.

In so many ways, he is the typical youngest child. He is vocal. He demands to be heard because if he doesn’t, his requests will certainly be drowned out by the din of siblings hard at play, pets sniffing out abandoned Cheerio caches, and vacuum cleaners beating them to it.

He prefers to be held. And he prefers that it’s me who’s holding him. He eats if I coax bites into his mouth. If I don’t, he squishes and lobs them instead. He soothes himself to sleep. But he frequently lets me know that he would rather I do it for him.

He needs me. Just me. Only me. Or at least, he wants me to think he does.

And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dote on him. Just a teeny bit. I love to put my cheek against the soft, little hairs on the back of his head. I love to feel his chubby fingers grab onto my sleeve when I hold him. I love that I get to bathe him all by myself every single night.

But these moments are stolen ones. We’re co-conspirators, Bun and me, going about our ordinary days doing ordinary things and biding our time until we get to pause the world and everything in it, except for the two of us. It’s as if he knows this won’t last forever. And he wants to savor it as much as I do.

Out of necessity, I can’t afford many of these moments. There are grocery lists, beds, and casseroles to make. There are dishes, clothes, and small sets of arms and legs and ears to sunscreen. There are playdates and overseas moves to coordinate.

There’s not enough time. There’s never enough. But love? There’s plenty of love.

Do you remember Bun’s birth story? And my husband’s take on it? Do you have a birth story or birthday letter to share? Leave a link in the comments.

My Birthday Wish

March 7, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in Family, Me | 23 Comments
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It’s almost my birthday. My real one, that is.

My husband and my mom Lots of people have been asking me what I would like. And I can’t think of a single thing. (Besides the buttercream frosting on my cake.)

Well, that’s not exactly true.

Buttercream frosting and one other thing. One tiny thing I’ve been dreaming of. But I can’t even think about it without the guilt pin-balling around in my brain.

I want one night. By myself. In a hotel.

There, I said it.

I want a night to sit. In silence.

I want someone to make me dinner, bring it to me, and clean it up.

I want a meal without ketchup.

I want the only pair of shoes I’m in charge of finding to be mine.

I want to liiiiiiiiinger in the shower.

I want to watch E!

I want to get a drink of water at 3 a.m. For myself.

I want to savor M&Ms instead of sneak them.

I want to use towels and sheets I don’t have to wash, dry, fluff, fluff again, fold, and put away.

I want to sleep all night long.

I want to wake up when I feel like it. (And I might not feel like it until wellllllllll after the sun comes up.)

Most of all, I want to leave that hotel room feeling refreshed. And ready.

Ready to pee at lightning speed in front of three tiny people. Ready to fill breakfast orders and bus tables. Ready to arbitrate disputes over glitter stickers and who gets to close the garage door. Ready to search for misplaced marker lids. Ready to check the sandbox for cat poop, the kids’ shoes for dog poop, and the toilets for I-forgot-to-flush poop. Ready to ignore the piles of Cheerios and acorns in the backseat of my car. Ready to cook, pour, feed, fold, type, and hug. One-handed.

I want to leave that hotel room ready to rush right back into the chaos of my life, the chaos that I love. Where every day feels like my birthday. And every wish has already come true.

What’s the strangest thing you ever wanted for your birthday? What would you do with a night all to yourself? And what’s your best one-handed mothering skill?

Sleep Walking

February 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop | 19 Comments
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How to Get One More Hour of Sleep: 19 Easy Steps

1. Hear the baby stirring on the monitor. Tiptoe at a brisk but silent pace into his room. Give him his pacifier and nestle him back into his blankets. Return to your cozy bed.

2. Wait anxiously for two minutes. Decide that no one else is up yet. Congratulate yourself and snuggle into your pillow.

3. Ten minutes later, hear the baby drop his pacifier on the floor and scream at it. Run-tiptoe into his room and shove it back in his mouth. Go back to bed.

4. When the baby’s babbling turns into giggles and gleeful shrieks, pay him another visit. Ply him with the pacifier. Decide he might be bored with the toy selection in his crib. Dig around the room for a couple new things to keep him occupied.

5. Resettle yourself in bed. Drift off. Hear your daughter’s very loud, very squeaky closet door open. Ignore it. Also ignore her when she comes in and asks you to help her get the green dress, no the red one, no the pink one off the hanger.

6. Resolve to revisit closet-door locks when you wake up.

7. Notice a light on in the hallway. Go investigate. Wipe a nose. Wipe a bottom. Issue a reminder to flush. Wash your hands, and return to bed.

8. Wake moments later to shrieking coming from the hallway. Go investigate. Discover that the cat who is not allowed upstairs is indeed upstairs. Shoo him away, securely close the baby gate, and lie to remind your hysterically giggling daughter and son that the baby is still sleeping.

9. Hear the baby shriek. Know your cover is blown. Switch tactics.

10. Open the baby’s door, and turn on the light. Change his diaper. Invite your daughter and son in to keep him company while he plays in his crib. Get down a box of blocks and some puzzles. Slink back to bed.

11. Wake to your husband’s alarm. Punch him to remind him that it’s Saturday.

12. Feel guilty when he sleepily says the alarm was his reminder to put out the trash. Ignore your guilt as he gets up to wheel the trash can out to the curb. Burrow under the covers.

13. Feel even more guilty when he says to send your son and daughter down for breakfast. (But send the dogs down, too.)

14. Wake moments later to more shrieks from the baby. Note that the shrieks have gone from playful to cranky. Take him out of his crib and bring him to your bed. Arrange the pillows just so and snuggle him next to you.

15. Ignore his babbling commentary about your new bangs and his leg presses into your stomach. Close your eyes.

16. Decide he might like to watch some television. Remember that he’s just a baby. Open a curtain instead. Pray that the sunlight and gently swaying tree branches will keep him occupied. Close your eyes again.

17. Wake up to him pulling your bangs out hair by hair. Squeal in pain. Sigh. Look at the clock.

18. Pick up the baby. Head downstairs to make a bottle. Pat yourself on the back for squeezing in an extra hour of sleep.

19. Wait for the bottle to warm. Go through the day’s schedule in your head. Plan a nap.

How do you fit in an extra hour of sleep? Is it worth it? And does your baby comment on your hairstyle, too?

Rodulph: An Allegory

December 17, 2010 at 5:00 am | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop | 20 Comments
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Rudolph the blond big sister
Had a very pesky bro.
And every time she saw him,
He liked to shout and tell her, “No!”

Giggles, that little brother,
Followed her around with glee.
He never let poor Rudolph
Play by herself, you see.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
Rudolph came to say:
“Giggles, if you pick a fight,
Santa won’t visit you tonight!”

Then how Giggles loved her.
And did everything she said.
“Rudolph, you’re the best big sister.
I’ll tease little Bun instead!”

Wait … that’s now how the song goes at your house?

Are you blasting carols to drown out the bickering this holiday? Is one child wielding the power of Santa over another? What happens on December 26??

Just Desserts

December 8, 2010 at 5:12 am | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop | 13 Comments
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Lollipop is four. Giggles is almost three. And, already, I’m way out of my league.

They irk each other. On purpose. They steal toys and snatch Cheerios, and they make-believe spit on each other. They shriek so loud the dog howls. (Poor dog.) Sometimes, I howl, too. (Poor Mom.)

Dinnertime is the worst. After an appropriate amount of food has been stuffed into little mouths, smeared across cheeks and chins, or slipped silently to the dogs, the children get a dessert. A pack of Smarties, a cup of chocolate milk, a handful of marshmallows: whatever they want so long as it is guaranteed to cause cavities.

Dessert is served. And Lollipop, my dear sweet Lollipop, turns into a master manipulator. She waits. And waits. And waits. And waits.

Till Giggles is done. Till he is forced to sit there and watch her eat her dessert. In its entirety. Bite by drool-inducing bite.

She prods him along by asking, “Aren’t you done yet, buddy?” Or makes comments like, “You only have three pieces left!” With a big, serene smile, of course.

Giggles, so far, is oblivious. Not bothered in the least. But I know it’s only a matter of time. Before he figures it out. Before he fights back.

Before he dishes out something guaranteed to give Big Sister her, well, her just desserts.

What do you know of sibling rivalry? And what should I do about it? Enroll them in chess class??

Two’s a Crowd

October 11, 2010 at 5:22 am | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop | 15 Comments
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How do you fit two kids, one baby, oodles of toys, and the occasional house guests into three bedrooms? The toys and the baby each get their own room. The house guests are assigned a room on a case-by-case basis. And the two older kids share a room, of course.

Of course.

Then we had a dress rehearsal. When my in-laws visited recently, they slept in Lollipop’s room. Lollipop graduated to the top bunk in Giggles’s room, while he slept in his crib. (I’m still holding out on moving him to the “big-boy” lower bunk because, well, because I’m the mom and I said so!)

That weekend, we ran them ragged. Birthday parties, playgrounds, a trip to an amusement park, abbreviated naps, late bedtimes — they should have been exhausted. They should have become flannel-jammied slugs as soon as their sweaty cheeks hit the pillow.

Instead, they talked. For hours. Through the monitor, I heard such gems as “Don’t eat your dinosaur!” And “Your sock hit the fan!” And “Giggles, Giggles, can you hear me?? Wake up! Wake uuuuuuppppppp!”

At one point, I went in to see if Giggles needed a clean diaper, which can keep him awake. “Giggles, do you have poop?” I asked him. To which he replied: “I spy something green!”

Thank goodness it was his blanket. And not poop.

We sighed. We scolded. We threatened. We tried to cut them some slack since we were the ones who had thrown a hitch into the giddyup of their normal routine. But at some point they had jettisoned rational conversation for a game of I Spy. In the dark. I knew we were sunk.

Finally, we had to let them work it out for themselves, and eventually, they did sleep. Until the first hint of daybreak … “Giggles, I spy something sunshine-y!”

I spy something, too. Separate rooms.

Do your children share rooms? How??

Haiku Friday

October 1, 2010 at 4:35 am | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Haiku Friday, Lollipop | 13 Comments
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Haiku Friday: Wake Me Up Before We Go-Go

Alarm clock rings and
I hit snooze three times before
I know it. We’re late!

Just a couple of
Hours since I was up with the
Baby. Ugh. So tired.

Shower time. I wish
For caffeinated soap. Nope.
All clean but still beat.

Then comes the mad rush:
Kids up, clothes on, potty break,
Baby changed, dogs out …

… Dogs in, cat out, socks
Matched, shoes found, cat in, cat out,
(Damn cat!), tangles brushed …

… Kids buckled, breakfast
Doled out, Cheerios spilled, tears
Shed, food shared, all’s well.

Off we go, behind
The school bus. Wait, wait, tick, tick.
Off we go for real.

Red lights, traffic jams,
Shoes fall off, noses drip, songs
Requested and sung.

We laugh, whine, wail, punch,
Crunch, purell, and park. Preschool:
Minutes to spare. Breeeeeeeeaaaaaathe.

How do you handle the morning rush? What item gets left behind most often? And do you have a Cheerio graveyard on your floorboard, too?

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Haiku Friday

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