We Are Both Right

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

What's on your first day of school checklist? ©Sam LeVan/stock.xchng

Building a nest of toilet paper. Check.

Talking about stranger danger. Check.

The perfect backpack and lunch bag packed with crayons, sharpened pencils and a marble notebook. Check.

Colors, counting to 100, letter sounds. Check, check, and check.

Being convinced of the importance of wearing sneakers instead of “heel shoes” on the playground. Check (finally).

Giving up naps. Well, we’re almost there. Three weeks after her day care teachers started phasing out naps to prepare the children for kindergarten, most of them are making it through dinner before falling asleep for the night. She wasn’t for a while and I was getting really worried. (But that was totally karma coming back to bite me since I used to silently snicker when parents would whine: “How is my baby going to go a whole day without a nap when he starts kindergarten?”)

So, what else is left to do before kindergarten starts? I feel like we have been talking about it forever with our daughter who will have her fifth birthday a few weeks after the big day. That puts her a little on the young side, but I know she is more than ready.

She must also have some sort of mental checklist going. The other day she asked me — in tears no less — how she would ever figure out how to unwrap a sandwich.

Since she shares her brother’s repulsion for grey chicken nuggets, I only assumed that I would be making lunch for her to bring in every day. I just never thought about the puzzle that is aluminum foil. So I promised her we would practice. She stopped crying and has asked for a trial run every day since.

The other big deal is getting ready for the bus ride. She’s been crying about that for the last three years on her brother’s first day of school — because she wanted to get on the school bus with him. Now that it’s her turn to finally go, she’s nervous. Where do I sit? Who will I sit with? What if I don’t know where to get off? But mommy, I’m going to miss you. Cue tears.

Thankfully the school district does a trial run the week before school starts. She will have a bus ride with her class around the parking lot at school. It’s going to be fun, I promise her.

When the day finally arrives, I know she will do just fine. This is the beginning of many years of preparing and learning and growing. She’s ready. And I’m ready. Truthfully, I’m excited.

There’s a chance I won’t even cry as the bus pulls away — not that I won’t have a tissue stashed in my pocket just in case. But I look at this first day of kindergarten as a milestone in my life as a mother. My child is ready to fluff up those wings and I can’t wait to see her confidently fly through those doors, ready to take this leap.

How close are you to being ready? Is your little one excited about the first day of school? What else have you done to prepare?

It’s the Itchy and Scratchy Show!

lice treatment

Amanda was going to run a photo of a louse to accompany her post, but she can't stand to look at another one. Here's a generic picture of a comb instead. You're welcome. aperfect1©/stock.xchng

If, for whatever reason, I am ever asked to come up with a way to torture someone, and I mean, really inflict maniacal psychological warfare, I have the perfect method.

I will infest my victim and everyone who lives in their house with lice.

Think I’m being a little, I don’t know, soft on my potential target? Clearly, you have never dealt with these wingless bloodsuckers that will just not go away.

It all started two weeks ago when I found a single louse on my 3-year-old’s head. With my own head becoming suddenly incredibly, unbelievably itchy and my stomach plummeting into the basement, my husband confirmed what I couldn’t bring myself to say or even think.

We had lice. And by we, I mean two of my children (my daughter and my younger boy) and me. (My husband is voluntarily bald. Cheater.)

I remember very clearly my reaction. I went with the three-year-old temper tantrum route, shouting, crying, balling my fists and stomping my feet. The funny (heh – I don’t think the word “funny” has ever been used in conjunction with lice before) thing was, I didn’t even know what I was in for. Just that it wasn’t going to be good. And it wasn’t.

Oh it wasn’t.

Because it wasn’t enough for the universe to just give us lice. It had to take away our hot water in the form of a broken boiler. And have my husband be at work for the next 48 hours.

Me + three cases of lice – a supply of hot water – my support system = One ticket to crazytown with all the extra baggage I could carry.

When I am faced with a problem, I automatically go into research mode and this time was no exception. The problem is, all my googling was making me more upset, despite almost every article I read starting with the same two words: DON’T PANIC. (Yeah, right. There are bugs. In our HAIR. They are LAYING EGGS. Seems like a perfect time to panic to me.)

I think the hardest part for me through it all was the hopelessness I felt. Like swimming in Jell-O (with bugs in my hair). Because no matter what I did, no matter how much money I spent, no matter how much time I spent picking through my daughter’s hair or my own (I shaved both of my boys’ heads. I was not messing around), I felt like I was always a step behind. There was always going to be a nit I missed or worse, a bug I couldn’t catch. I can’t even tell you how many treatments my daughter and I wound up having (at least five each in the course of a week).

I turned into a crazy person, with the lice overtaking every part of my life. I read, reread and read websites, over and over again, looking for some easy solution. I washed and rewashed and washed again what felt like every article of clothing and sheet in our house. (Major props to my husband for doing six loads of laundry at the laundromat on Mother’s Day.) I bought every kind of treatment, preventative spray and anti-lice product out there. I cross-examined other parents for tips and tricks (Major props to Suzanne for sending me a list of of things to do. Interestingly enough, it also carried the “Don’t panic” propaganda.) Because there was a major outbreak of lice (seven cases!) in my daughter’s class, I spent some time on the phone with the principal of her school, peppering her with questions on she was doing to disinfect and clean the classroom and educating the kids and their parents.

Not to mention how I tortured my family. Begging my husband to comb through my hair. Chasing after all three kids with sprays concocted of mint and rosemary (lice don’t like these scents apparently). Making my daughter wear her hair up in a braid and plastered with hair spray . Not to mention the plastic shopping bag in lieu of her knapsack I make her keep her things in once she gets inside of her classroom — not a cool thing to do apparently.

But no matter what I was doing, no matter how busy I kept myself, no matter how in control I tried to put myself, the lice were always in the back of my head (literally!), taunting me. I couldn’t relax. Until now. Kind of. (Not really.)

Two weeks of this ordeal and I’m cautiously optimistic that we might have very possibly, potentially, perhaps, maybe have gotten rid of them. (I’m being intentionally vague and humble on the chance that one of the little buggers reads this and decides to come back and teach me a lesson.) My daughter and I each had a treatment today — the “OK, no live bugs in over a week but you still better do a follow-up” treatment. We both came back clean, save for a few stray nits on her head that I have removed. My head still itches, but both my husband and I have been through my hair up and down and side to side and can find nothing. I think I might have overdone it on the treatments and now I’m reacting to them, physically and psychologically.

I promised my daughter that after this treatment that I wouldn’t be on top of her with the combs and tweezers as often (I was doing it twice a day), but as I write this, I know this is a promise I won’t be able to keep. I’m still scarred. And scared. You hear that lice? I’m scared. You win. Please leave us alone!

Have you or anyone in your house ever had lice? When did you reach the point where you could say, “O.K., they are gone?”

By the way, if you know me in real life, please don’t mention my post to my daughter. She will reinfect me herself if she knows this story is floating around on the Internets.

Watch a little TV to encourage reading?

Reading books ranks right up at the top of my priorities along with fulfilling basic needs and good oral hygiene. My husband and I enjoy all media and so my children are exposed to practically every form of entertainment that is available and age appropriate. With so many entertainment options – apps, books, magazines, movies, music, newspapers, television, theater, video games and websites – I have to use every creative angle I can to make books stand out from the glitzy competition.

Public enemy number one in my household always seems to be the ever-present television. It’s not just cartoons or shows. It’s the Wii or our collection of 400 plus DVDs. When this topic arises while chatting with other moms, it is apparent that we all struggle to find the right balance for ourselves and our children. Some moms say no TV on school nights. Others have removed the offending device from their homes altogether. Still others place no restrictions at all.

In my house we have a few basic rules when it comes to either television or reading: No Wii after dinner, no movies on weeknights after 7 p.m., no TV until homework is completed, Thursday is reading night, Sunday is library day, and so on.

Surprisingly, I find that other forms of media, and in particular television, don’t necessarily compete with reading but rather inspire it. As a toddler, my son would gravitate towards a book with a cover that featured a character he was familiar with. You know, one of those many licensed characters from PBS or Disney movies? In marketing this is called brand extension: movies, toys, games, tv shows and books. Each cross promotes the other using one common theme. And, while it feels predatory to me at times (as in toys or non-educationally based tv shows), I have found it helpful when introducing reading to my son. My son will watch a movie, play the video game and then…READ the book!

Rather than one form of media cannibalizing the other, I find that one actually reinforces the other. If a TV show or website helps my son get past his hesitation to read a book, I’m all for it. After all, he already knows and loves the characters. He may even know the plot. He seems to take comfort in the familiar content and this gives him the motivation to tackle the words he doesn’t know.

So, while striking a healthy balance between all the different media for myself and the entire family is a daily struggle. I tend to think of it like a diet: moderation and variation is key to a healthy lifestyle. In this case a movie, some game time and a bit of reading does the trick.

tracey

iPads, Kindles and Nooks … Oh, my!

My pre-schooler has a Nook Color. At first glance, this might seem indulgent, but the motivation to purchase a digital device was purely an act of self-preservation.

My kids are forever intrigued by my iPad. They beg to play games. They whine to watch movies. They just can’t keep their hands off it. Upon picking up my iPad after kiddie use, I discover the thing that grosses me out about kids — even my own — slime. A six-week pinkeye bout later and I was determined to invest in a digital reader for each child.

For me, it came down to the choice between three options: iPad, Kindle or Nook Color. I wanted my kids to read. They wanted to play games. Could I find a device that could meet both of these requirements?

The iPad was the first to be eliminated. I deemed it too expensive and too heavy for little hands prone to dropping things. Yes, there are many cool book apps. However, my goal was to was to get them to read first and then shoot birds across the screen later. Book apps aside, there’s just too many other media offerings on the iPad to distract my children from reading.

Hands down, if it were all about reading books, Kindle would be my first choice. It has the lowest price point and ease of purchase using the Amazon store. At the time I was purchasing, the e-ink black and white device was the only option available. Not such a good option for someone who planned to purchase children’s picture books. And, let’s face it, my kids weren’t attracted to my iPad for the text. They were anticipating vibrancy and interactivity. The Kindle just wasn’t going to cut it.

This left me and my family with one alternative choice, the Nook Color. This device has a good selection of children’s book and offers select, popular apps. My kids can read, play games and watch movies. The Nook has one thing that makes it stand out from the competition, it is the only device that has an association with a physical bookstore. B&N gives full access to select titles and other promotional incentives to bring Nook buyers back into the store. Imagine my son’s joy when B&N gave a free Mighty Eagle to all those who played Angry Birds while in the store.

It has been several months since this major purchase and my children enjoy their Nooks daily. Turns out that there are many children’s books available and even some that will read to my daughter. Oh, and that in-store service came in handy. My husband and I thought the touch screen wasn’t being responsive, so we brought it to the local B&N. Imagine our embarrassment when the associate pulled out the screen cleaner!

Note: I made the decision to buy a Nook Color just as the Kindle Fire launched. The Fire gets less than stellar reviews for user interface, but it has a color screen and is a tablet. If I had to make the purchase again today, I would still purchase the Nook for my children. Why? The integration between the physical and digital, both store and content is important to me and I want my children to make the connection and respect both options.

tracey

Not Exactly the Second Home I Was Hoping For

©clambert/stock.xchng

If Amanda never had to go into one of these for the rest of her life, she'd be OK with that. ©clambert/stock.xchng

I hate public restrooms. The thought of going into one makes me cringe. Not because they are dirty or grimy or simply gross. I mean they are (some of them anyway, some of them are nicer than my house). And certainly I appreciate their function. On more than one occasion we have been saved by their close proximity.

It’s that lately I have been spending so much time in them, I feel as if I should be sending the collective owners part of my mortgage payment.

I am the mom to a semi-newly minted potty-trained toddler who still needs some assistance in the bathroom. When we are home, he uses the toilet, I don’t know, five or six times a day? (It’s definitely at least three, because any time I sit down to eat, there he is with his urgent cry “Pee pee! Pee pee! I have to go pee pee!”) In any case, it’s a reasonable amount, one you’d expect from a nearly three-year-old.

When we are out however, it’s double that number. Easily. Our whole family hit the toy store (shopping for his birthday presents no less!) and went out to lunch over the weekend. We left our house at 11:30 and were home by 3. He asked to go to the bathroom no less than five times. And by “asked” I mean, “shouted the words ‘pee pee’ and ‘poopy’ so loudly that I was pretty convinced that other people were getting ready to bring him to the bathroom for me.”

Why the increase? Does he feel the need to mark his territory? Is he bored? Does he think I don’t get enough exercise (heh)? Does he have a bladder control problem? Does he like the hands-free dryers? I’m not sure, but because he is still somewhat new at this and because I know what happens when you ignore the persistent plea of the diaper-less (like the time our potty-training eldest boy peed on the floor of a house we were thinking of buying a few years ago), I always respond to his entreaties. And quickly. Or as quickly as you can find the one employee in the entire store who can direct you to the non-marked restroom (behind the door with the hanging “Employees Only” sign), while being followed by a pint-sized person yelling “Poopies! I have to make poopies! Mommy! Now!”(That was yesterday’s adventure in Dollar Tree. We might have gotten some stares.) Even if it means closing my eyes, holding my nose and bringing him into the oh-so-awful port-a-potty at the Little League Fields. (“Do. Not. Touch. ANYTHING.”)

It’s usually always me, too, even if my husband is with us, simply because I feel like women’s bathrooms are generally always cleaner than the men’s room. Which makes me think there might me some sort of conspiracy going on.

Still, I am proud of him — he has yet to have an accident while we are out — so I guess he’s doing something right. Even if it means I lose my place in line, my dinner gets cold (or worse, taken away) or I misplace my other children for a minute or two. (True stories!)

What is it with toddlers and public restrooms? Have you had a similar experience?

Encylopedia Brown: More than a Mystery?

Cuddling up with my seven-year old, lights out and flashlight in hand, we readied ourselves to dive into his first-ever detective mystery novel. He was excited about the flashlight. I was excited about passing on the joy of reading books filled with adventure and intrigue.

The book I selected to deliver on such high expectations was Encyclopedia Brown. Earlier in the day, my husband and I had picked this book while browsing the shelves at the local B&N. He spotted the Encyclopedia Brown series and recalled liking them as a child. I remembered Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys fondly. I had never heard of this series or character.

This being my first exposure to Encyclopedia Brown, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Luckily, it became apparent after the initial well-constructed and neatly wrapped-up chapter that facts are presented, clues are given, and the reader is left to use their own deductive reasoning skills to sort out the mystery. Helpful answers are provided at the end of the chapter to help the novice detective along.

Beginning with chapter 2, my son and I were ready to do some sleuthing of our own. We could solve these mysteries with a bit of research.  Who won the battle of Waterloo?  No problem.  Then, I glanced over at my son and realized he hadn’t a clue as to how to find the answers.

An image of my childhood collection of Encyclopedia Britannica sitting on the top shelf of my closet, quietly awaiting the next social studies report sprung immediately to mind.  What to do? We have no such printed reference materials in our household today. We have the internet. We have…WIKIPEDIA!

The rest of our reading time was spent discussing technology and its impact on information. I explained to my son that today information is stored, shared and updated constantly on the world wide web. It is no longer the static, outdated facts on a printed page that I had as a child.

Coincidentally, I recently read an announcement that Encyclopedia Britannica will stop printing books. Turns out that the 2010, 32-volume set will be the last of its kind as the company focuses on digital.  They are betting that consumers will see the value and pay for vetted, expert information vs. Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

So as new technology forces the old to adapt and compete, will Encyclopedia Brown be  renamed Wikipedia Brown? Which will resonate more with my son? What an unexpected twist to our evening. Thank you, Encyclopedia Brown!

tracey

How Tight Are Your Apron Strings?

How tight are your apron strings? ©Adrian/stock.xchng

People watching. It’s a favorite pastime of mine.

So much so that you could send me to an airport right now, subject me to a five-hour layover and I would be more than happy to find a seat and watch the comings and goings of other people the whole time. (Of course, if my children were with me, the tables would be turned and we would be the people being watched.)

The way things have been lately, I have actually had a lot more time for people watching. You see, it’s an inverse relationship: lots of time waiting in lines, going to practices, and sitting in doctor’s offices means more people watching, less sit-ups and blogging.

Sometimes people watching is the only thing to do. Like in the gymnastics waiting room — my daughter is new to the class and I don’t know any of the other parents yet, but I do know who’s running a marathon and which moms and dads teach in the same school together. Last week, between S.’s turn on rings and her flips on the low bar, I picked up on two conversations that intrigued me. (OK, so it was more like public eavesdropping than people watching, but it struck me the same way.)

In one room, three moms were comparing sleep away camps. The conversation soon shifted to convincing another mom who was new to the concept that she would be fine with sending her second grader away to camp for the entire summer. I couldn’t see her reaction to gauge whether she bought it or not.

That’s because in my direct line of sight was a mother pressed up against the window, talking at the same time through the glass and to her husband who was half-listening with Blackberry in hand.

“They’re not even watching her. She’s going to fall,” the mom said. (Just to set the scene: the room is lined in wall-to-wall heavy duty mats equipped to cushion an adult falling off the uneven bars and her preschooler was about a foot off the ground on another foam mat, while two instructors looked over a class of six.) She spent most of the class saying the same thing over and over again.

I was keeping my judgment-free cap on, and didn’t even react when I saw that her child was dressed in a zipped-up, velour track suit on a 60-degree day. As if she read my mind, she wondered aloud to her husband how some kids could be dressed in leotards on such a cold day — as my leotarded daughter jumped off the balance beam.

No offense taken. Because these are the observations I like best. They make me think. About how I make choices as a mom. How I view different approaches to parenting. And if such differences validate my way of doing things or make me feel inadequate.

This version of people watching, or parent watching, has made me question how tight the apron strings really need to be. Most people like to keep their kids close, others even closer. But where do I want to fall?

I always fancied myself a supportive and open-minded parent, one who would be happy to help my children find their wings and learn to fly. I can picture myself smiling (with a single tear on my cheek) as we pull up to campus on the first day of college. I want to be the mom who could not be more proud that her child becomes self-sufficient and independent.

I truly believe that I will feel fulfilled to see my children make a life of their own — and not feel the need to pick out their furniture, invite myself on the honeymoon or even into the delivery room for that matter.

Of course, my two are still young. And I still smother them with worry sometimes. But there are lots of times when I think that maybe there’s a motherly doting gene I’m missing.

I let a lot of things fly, like hats on a cold day. There are times I expected them to toughen up, even as toddlers, and stick out a long day without a nap at home or forgo the favorite sippy cup which hadn’t made it through the dishwasher yet. It doesn’t leave me panicked to let them go on field trips and ride school buses without taking the teacher’s cell phone number.

Nine years into the experiment and I haven’t made any fatal mistakes. So that’s a good thing. But I’m wondering if I should be holding them tighter, worrying more, and not wanting to let go.

Tell me, how tight are your apron strings?

Becoming a Healthy Mom by Following My Toddler’s Example

healthy moms

Thanks to her toddler, Amanda won't be needing these. ©stockxchng/pawel_231

I have figured it out. The secret to weight loss. And the best part is, you don’t need to join a gym or invest in some expensive exercise DVDs or starve yourself for weeks at a time. Nope. All unnecessary. All you need to do to lose some weight is to get yourself a toddler and then do exactly what he does. Voilá! Pounds shred!

(Hmm. I guess I should be clearer. Don’t do everything your little one does. Ignore certain aspects of common toddler behavior – no nose picking, wall drawing, crayon eating or anything like that. No, what I’m talking about is trying to emulate and harness all that energy tiny people seem to have.)

For example, take my son. He never walks. Never. Anytime he needs to go anyplace he’ll run. Or trot. Or skip. Or crawl. But he never walks (unless we are going someplace he doesn’t want to go. Then he’s Tommy the Turtle). Imagine all the pounds you could shred if you stopped simply walking and started moving. Really moving. It would be amazing. (And tiring.)

An optional add-on to this method is to make noises that correspond to the activity that you are doing. For example, if you are crawling, be sure to say “Bark! Bark! I’m a dog! Bark! Bark!” or if you are skipping, yell loud and clear “I’M AN AIRPLANE!” Note that these add-ons don’t really contribute to your weight loss, but they certainly help set the mood. Also, anyone in your path is sure to steer clear of you, so no more lines at the supermarket!

So you say, “Fine, I’ll start galloping around the mall and neighing and hopping on one foot while I’m on line at the post office while singing ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’. But all that extra activity is going to make me want to eat more, right?” No! That’s the beauty of the Toddler Weight Loss Plan (patent pending). According to my research, apparently not! My son exists solely on apples, plain macaroni and two bites of frozen pancakes each day and his energy levels are still through the roof!

One of the best parts of this new exercise regimen is the clothing. Say goodbye to fancy workout garb and say hello to a superhero cape! (Or a princess dress, whichever you prefer!) Put them on, insist on wearing them wherever you go and you are good to go!

There are a few simple rules to follow if you want to make the plan work properly.

  1. No sitting still. Ever. Even if someone is reading you a book, after three minutes you need to start squirming in your seat.
  2. Be prepared to fall asleep at the strangest times in the strangest places. (Hey, you are using up all that energy after all!)

So that’s it! The easy-peasy, no fuss (unless you feel like throwing a temper tantrum, which is totally allowed) Toddler Weight Loss Plan. I’m starting it this week. Let me know if it works for you.

Preserving Memories – What’s Your Style?

old family photos

What are your family's memories made of? ©Jean Scheijen/stock.xchng

The other night, while I was rearranging the game closet (because it was about time) my daughter came up behind me and asked for her special pink book. “The one that’s all about me,” she said.

I reached up two shelves and handed over a fuzzy covered photo album that contains about two hundred pictures of her first two weeks of life. Yes, I take a lot of pictures. And my kids love me for it. ;-)

Actually, I have archived so many pictures that my husband jokes around that when we’re both gone someday, our son and daughter will be sitting in our house, looking at a room full of photo albums and portable hard drives, saying: “What are we supposed to do with all of this?”

But hey, it’s my memory-preserving style of choice.

Kids grow up so fast. There are so many special moments that I’m always thinking, I wish I could bottle this up and take it out down the road. The color of my daughter’s hair as I put it into pigtails for the first time. My son as a toddler digging into his favorite vegetable — corn on the cob. The looks on their faces the first time each of them rode a pony. Family gardening days out in the yard. Trips to the beach. Visits with great-grandma.

All of the random stuff that makes our family’s world go ’round. And so I take pictures. Lots of them.

There are so many other ways to capture a memory:

Keeping a baby book (although most moms feel a slight tinge of guilt when they think about their unfulfilled wishes for their baby book).

Blogging. I’ve gone so far as to print out most of the blogs I’ve written about my children, but somehow I don’t see them paging through these as much as they will our photo albums.

Scrapbooking, whether digitally or traditionally.

Logging highlights on Facebook–which our kids will probably hate us for someday when their potty training progress (and hang-ups) is still on full display for their prom date’s reading pleasure.

Videos–which are probably the best way to go back in time, if we could just settle on a format that’s going to last a lifetime!

What’s your memory-keeping style of choice?

Why Yes, I am a Terrible Person

weblux/stock.xchng

This place looks pretty quiet and remote, but I bet the second I sit down my kids find me. ©weblux/stock.xchng

This is how desperate I am for some alone time. (And please, don’t take offense, I’m at my wit’s end here.)

Today, my husband will be attending the wake of a colleague’s father. A solemn occasion honoring and remembering a good man that I have never met (I was introduced to my husband’s fellow worker once). It will be a room filled with this man’s family and friends, all mourning his death and celebrating his life. And what am I doing besides writing out a sympathy card?

I’m begging my husband to let me go with him. Begging. Think the last piece of chocolate cheesecake begging.

“We’ll get dressed up!” I told him as I plead my case yesterday afternoon while our children zoomed around our house, high on an energy that can only come from a Friday that leads into a week off from school. “We’ll have an hour-long car ride alone together — we can finish our sentences without being interrupted! Maybe we can grab a bite to eat after!”

My husband raised his left eyebrow at me and gave me a look of semi-disbelief. “Are you trying to turn the wake of a man into date night?”

At that moment, my 9-year-old daughter ran through the kitchen with her 2-year-old brother on her back, both of them shrieking at the top of their lungs, their 11-year-old brother  (brandishing a light saber, naturally), not far behind.

“Please,” I implored. “Think about how quiet it will be.”

And that my friends, is what it has come down to.

I had lunch with an old friend and colleague recently who relayed  a story about her younger sister. When her sister’s children were small — probably around the age of my brood — she used to “joke” that even going to the dentist and getting a root canal was enjoyable, because it meant she had a moment’s peace.

Show of hands, how many of you are nodding your heads and saying to yourself, “Well, that sounds reasonable.”?

I thought so.

I love my children. More than anything else in the world. I never thought my capacity to love and care about someone else (and that’s three someone elses) could be so vast and deep. When they are happy, I’m ecstatic. When they are sad, I’m inconsolable. I have never laughed as hard as I do when one of my children is doing something silly. They keep me active and awake and engaged.  My smile is bigger because of them.  They are my light and my life and I’m a better person for them.

But they are loud. Oh, so very loud. And they like to interrupt a lot. And spill things. Also, yell. And I never get to watch my shows. (Seriously, I’m like four episodes back on Revenge.)

In any case, I’ve come to my senses and restored my sensitive gene. I will not be attending that wake. But I do go to the gym a few times a week. And if you knew me from days of yore, you’d know that my sudden interest in exercise is less about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and more about something else. (Hint: no one asks me to put the straw in their juice box while I’m on the treadmill.)

Still, even while I’m rolling my eyes and breaking out the earplugs when the herd of oxen I live with comes trampling through the living room, I tell myself that it won’t be like this forever. In fact, it won’t be like this for very long at all. And while quiet sounds like heaven right now, I bet ten years from now it will be deafening.

OK, let me have it. I’m an insensitive clod. But ‘fess up. What measures have you gone to to secure a moment for yourself?