Alright Chicago, you win this round

By on Feb 21, 2016 in Chicago, Life With Three | 0 comments

Man, that first fake Spring day in February. It’s the best.  After two and a half long months of weather in the 20’s and 30’s (if we’re lucky), a surprise wash of heat from the South sends the temperature surging into the 50’s, and Chicago goes nuts.  You’ll find runners on the lakefront with no shirts, dad’s barbecuing with a beer in one hand, and pasty neighbors emerging from a season-long hibernation.  It’s truly the best. Except in the long run, it might be the worst.  For whatever reason, despite years of experience with the February fake-out, I decide each year that winter is over and my winter coat can be set aside in favor of a light fleece.  It’s Spring, baby!  I can pretty much see the sun!  Don’t drag me down with your “winter apparel”.  And, unfortunately, Leah’s not any better and we end up dragging the kids down to our level of delusion.  That was the case today as the weather dipped back down into the 30’s, bring along with it a frigid Northwest wind. We needed a few things from the store for tonight’s dinner – things we couldn’t find at Harvesttime.  So hey, why not make an outing of it and take a family walk to Jewel.  It’s sunny out and it’s basically Spring.  Kids, put on your sweatshirts; coats are for losers! It’s Spring!* It actually started out pretty fun.  We raised Rocky’s seat on his bike so he could get a little leverage (that boy won’t stop growing), and he was moving with a little more confidence on his bike.  They would ride ahead to each street, pausing to wait for us as we sauntered up along Campbell street. Fun times, guys!  High fives for Mom and Dad!  Screw you, Winter! And then… We turned into the wind.  Momentum slowed as an arctic wind buffeted the kids back.  They struggled to pedal, gritting their teeth as the wind turned their fingers and ears a nice, bright red. “I can’t go, it’s too hard,”  Rocky cried.  Veronica, she just cried, my attempted to cover her exposed fingers failing miserably.  And all the while, we were aware that this was a cross wind and it was actually going to be in our faces on the ride home. While Leah was corralling the kids on their bikes, half dragging them to the Jewel, I was pushing Veronica in the stroller.  It seemed like something was dragging, like when the diaper bag strap gets wrapped around a wheel. I took a look down, but no straps.  The wheel was, however…a little askew.  Huh.  I took a look closer, and it was more than askew.  The wheel was separated from the axle.  The weld that held the wheels together had broken clean off, leaving us with one wheel drift away from the stroller. So we were a mile from the house with: two frozen kids on bikes near tears, one three-wheeled stroller, and one underdressed toddler quite tearful.  Man, these really are the best of times.  And we still had to get home. The way home was certainly fun, in the same way the Bataan death march was fun.  Leah and I behind the kids, driving them forward, while the tears rolled down their cheeks. Lucy: “My fingers are so cold.” Leah: “Lucy, what did I say.  Complaining about it doesn’t make it any less cold.  We’re already well aware that you’re cold.” Rocky: “My ears hurt so bad.” ** We finally made it to Western and Lincoln, probably a half mile from our house, when I look down.  “Fuck.  Leah, we’re down a shoe.” Veronica wiggled her toes in her stripped sock.  Back I go to find the shoe. Leah: “Run” The shoe only fell off four blocks back.  No big deal.  Add frozen toes to the list of parenting fails for the day.  I grabbed the shoe and bolted back to find Leah and the kids.  At this point, the stroller wheel had gone from behaving badly to behaving dead.  The only way to move it was to lift the back end.  At this point, Rocky just tipped over on his bike, playing dead to avoid further pain.  Leah picked him up in one arm and dragged the bike along in another while I brought the stroller along behind, lifting the back wheels off the ground.  But hey, at least everyone was crying. So yes, you won Chicago.  You sucked us in with your little Spring ruse and knocked us down with your Winter chill.  Hope you feel good about yourself. But hey, at least we can say lesson learned, right?  Coats back on at least until mid-March? Maybe.  At least until the next fake Spring day.   * Before anyone calls DCFS, we did take jackets with us below the stroller.  Light jackets.  Without gloves or hats.  Okay, fine, call DCFS. ** seriously, nobody wins if you call the authorities...

The Sibling Sleepover or Best. Idea. Ever.

By on Jan 18, 2016 in Expert Advice, General Family, Life With Three, Parenting | 1 comment

First of all…Hey there! Yes we are still alive with the three kids. Everyone is doing great. And it only feels like we are drowning 97% of the time instead of 98% of the time so, improvement! This past weekend was cold in Chicago. I’m not going to complain it’s been a pretty mild winter and we choose to live here (blah blah blah). But three kids and 0 degrees outside? Shoot me in the face. Seriously. At one point I just curled up in a ball on the couch and went into some kind of hibernation. The hibernation of, “I. Can’t. Even.” We somehow got dinner together and on the table an hour early. Which was good because we were all hungry and it was halftime of the football game…hashtag goodtimingforsportsisimportant. Everyone showered and bathed….and it was 6:30 (they usually go to bed at 8 and we are just starting the bedtime routine at this point). Now what? Lucy and I played some Crazy 8s. Then some War (just as annoying as when I was a kid hashtag ifeachpersonhastwoacesitwillneverend). Veronica went to bed. All the teeth were brushed and potty trips happened. And we were just all done. I mean as always at bedtime. But I mean. Done. So I said, “Hey why don’t you guys go have a sleepover in Lucy’s bed?” [Sidenote: all three of our kids share a room, with Lucy getting a top bunk of a custom bunk system and Rocky on the bottom bed and Veronica in the crib.] Kids: “What do you mean?” Me: “I mean go play up in her bed super quietly and maybe Lucy can read books using a book light outloud…but quietly outloud because Veronica is sleeping.” Kids: “WE TOTALLY WANT TO DO THAT!” Us: “Ok. Go. Goodnight.” Up the stairs they went…then there was….silence. We looked at each other and said, “This is just never going to work. It’s only 7pm….but whatever, let’s start a movie.” So start a movie we did. Veronica woke up at one point. Jason put the elders under a blanket with the book light.” At about 8:30 we heard the door open, and little feet come down the stairs. Damnit. Lucy returned the book light. Gave us a kiss, and went back to bed. Rocky gave us a hug and a kiss and put himself back to bed. We looked at each other with a “The Fuck?” look on our faces. How did that work? How did they only wake Veronica up once? But also. THESE KIDS ARE AWESOME! They requested the sleepover again tonight and while I’m all for it, we are keeping it to weekend days (and to keep it special so it doesn’t turn into just pure play and loudness). Rocky also said, “Maybe Veronica can join us when she’s two. I think that’s a good plan.” Given that crazy kid can climb the ladder already and get on the top bunk, I don’t think he’s...

The pacifier kids

By on May 18, 2015 in Expert Advice, Life With Three, Sleep | 0 comments

Okay, fine, we’ve officially given up.  You win, Veronica (*throws hands up in the air*). Here you go, take the pacifiers.  Take aaaaallllll the pacifiers.  Because we need sleep and the other shit we were doing? That wasn’t working. But you know what I love about us?  What I think makes us brilliant?  We have a routine.  We have a routine that we stick to religiously.  At night, we have her take a cat nap, and then dinner, and then bath, and then feed, a book, and bed.  And on the days that the schedule is compromised for one reason or the other?  Leah: “Oh, shoot, I don’t know if we’ll be able to get her a bath tonight?” Me: Sigh. “Well, that’s not going to be good.” But, wait, you know what? IT DOESN’T MATTER.  We don’t have the right to hem and haw over a routine when it doesn’t work in the first place.  For all we know, the best routine for her, the one that will have her sleeping in until 8 am, might be to eat dinner in the bath tub followed by a bottle shoved through the spine of a book.  Or maybe she should ride through the living room on a llama while a dozen howler monkeys throw food at her, “Come on Eileen” playing softly in the background.  We don’t know.  Nobody knows, because we are sticking to the schedule that has produced zero positive results. But anyway, schedule aside, she’s not sleeping through the night on her own.  Or really, anything close.  We’d reached the point where, every night between 10:30 and 11:30, Veronica would wake up and not go back asleep until she was laying on her mom’s chest.  That wasn’t great sleep for Mom.  And then Veronica would usually make it until about 5 or maybe 5:30 when she would start tossing around on Mom’s chest, so Dad would take her downstairs.  That wasn’t great sleep for Dad.  In the end, everyone loses.  Well, everyone except Veronica.  She was pretty happy, actually. So finally, after months of this, we gave up and started throwing pacifiers at her.  We are now putting her down with a pacifier and have sprinkled a half dozen pacifiers in her crib.  Why not more?  Because the other half dozen that we’d like to put in there are hanging out with the missing left socks.  Someday they will tear this house down and a thousand pacifiers will come spilling out.  We really tried to avoid having her be a pacifier baby.  Not because we don’t like pacifiers.  Shit, we love them.  But because having a pacifier baby means that, for a long time, we’ll be getting up at least once a night (usually twice) to replace a pacifier once she’s kicked them all off the crib.  And you have to go in there and grope around in the dark, running your hands along the crib mattress feeling for plastic (why do they make the little fuckers clear?) (no pacifiers there) Fishing around in the gap between the bars and the mattress, until finally having to drop to the floor and reach under the crib.  And by that time it’s 3 am and you’re pretty much all the way awake and have to go pee. So yeah, we wanted to avoid the pacifier, but she never found her thumb and she didn’t have an interested in a lovey, so here we are. She, like her brother and sister before her, is a pacifier kid.  But you know what?  Last night she slept in until 6am. So I guess maybe the routine does work, plus a pacifier or...

The Carnival Barkers of Campbell Street

By on May 6, 2015 in Life With Three | 0 comments

They’re multiplying and they’re getting louder.  Dear god, is it possible they’re actually getting louder? You may have heard – I think it was mentioned on this blog at some point – that we added a third kid a while back.  She’s the one that sits in the middle of the living room wearing a lopsided smile while we run around like headless chickens trying to corral the elders.  The one I’ve affectionately nicknamed “wait, we have how many kids?!”  Anyway, the last time we were at the doctor for a well-baby visit, the doctor asked if Veronica* had started babbling.  We were looking to hear the ba-ba’s and da-da’s and the ma-ma’s.  Especially the da-da’s.  Always nice to hear those.  We weren’t hearing them, but no problem.  It’s not something we would have to worry about until she turns nine months, at which point if she hadn’t progressed she’d need to be enrolled in speech therapy so as to not fall off the Ivy League track**. But, as one would expect from a future senator***, it wasn’t more than a couple weeks after her doctor’s visit that she started babbling.  It was like a switch flipped.  She went from The Happy Idiot to The Babbling Idiot Who’s Also Happy (Happy Idiot for short).  And holy shit, I think she’s louder than the others. (* see, I do know her name) (** a joke, but deadly serious in New York.  And probably Lincoln Park) (*** Christ, let’s hope not) Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  It’s not possible.  There are two kids in our house that are so loud during bathtime that I have to turn on the bathroom fan to drown them out or I get a headache.  There’s a Rocky living in our house who was referred to as “our little alarm clock” by the neighbor TWO HOUSES DOWN.    But there’s no denying it.  She’s already louder.  And it probably should come as no surprise as her only example is a family that converses across the dinner table at a steady shout.  We’ve got two kids who will sit next to each other on a couch and scream conversations at each other. “ROCKY, LET’S BE BABY KITTIES” “OKAY” “WE’LL BE SLEEPING BABY KITTIES” You probably think baby kitties are quieter when they’re sleeping, right?  You’re so cute. So, I know, you’re probably looking at this and seeing just a house full of crazy.  But you know what I see?  I see the Von Traps of carnival barking.  The future is...

Assume a spherical baby

By on Mar 30, 2015 in Expert Advice, Life With Three, Parenting, Sleep | 0 comments

We did it!  We figured out Veronica’s sleep!  And just in time too, as things were going pretty poorly.  Ever since she’d hit the four month sleep regression, she’d been waking up all through the night and we’d resigned ourselves to the fact that the only life we were ever going to have would be indistinguishable from that of the walking dead.  But then, just as nearly all hope had drained away, she did it.  She slept until 5.  And then the next night she slept until 5:45.  Then 6.  One magical night, she had learned to flip herself onto her stomach and that position is just what she needed to make it through the night. We did it! For five glorious days, the sleep was working.  Then…less so. It was a couple four AM wake ups – four AM and wide awake.  Then we had a few brushes with one and two AM wake ups, making us once again feel lucky on the nights she makes it until 3 am and falls back asleep on Leah.  We’ve given up and are taking taking what we can get. I suppose she probably won’t still be getting up at 3 am when she’s in high school. But what happened to the 5 am wake up?  What changed? She’s still sleeping on her stomach, still going to bed at the same time.  But now she’s up at 3 am on the dot every night.  What the hell? And this, this is why having kids is maddening, especially for people of a scientific persuasion.  We assume that we can figure something out – solve it – and then move on.  This is fine when dealing with the laws of nature, but the laws of the newborn are much more frustrating.  It’s an experiment conducted within a universe where the fundamental laws are flipped on their heads every two weeks. We’ve worked bedtime around to what I believe is now the third iteration of sleep arrangements between Veronica and the elders, the iteration that got Veronica sleeping through the night for five glorious days.  The only iteration with any proven success. The Plan Veronica gets a bath right after dinner while Lucy practices piano and Rocky helps with the bath by dumping water on Veronica’s head. Veronica gets PJ’d, fed, and booked while I start the kids’ bath.  Kids take a bath, screaming as loudly as humanly possibly.  Tiled walls amplify sound.  I figure as long as I can hear them they’re safe, so I retreat to a place where I can still hear them without blowing an eardrum (the tavern). Teeth! (Open wide.  Wider.  Don’t bite. Rocky, when you bite the toothbrush you ruin it.  Yes, you have to floss every day). Okay, rinse and spit.  Don’t swallow. Rocky bites the toothbrush and swallows a gallon of fluoride toothpaste for the 187th day in a row Wait a little bit, read a few books, and just generally buy time for Veronica to find REM sleep. And then, quiet as a band of mice, we creep our way upstairs. BANG BANG BANG “What the hell? Why are you guys stomping,” I whisper furiously.  “Quietly, I said.  Your sister is sleeping.” “BLURGL BARG ARGGH,” Lucy screams, waving her arms in the air. “JESUS CHRIST!” I’m no longer whispering.  Veronica is no longer sleeping. I think, all in all, the transition to three kids is going...

It’s Not All Sunshine and Unicorns Farting Rainbows

By on Feb 18, 2015 in Chicago, General Family, Life With Three, Parenting | 0 comments

My old neighbor came by for a visit yesterday. We were talking about how social media frequently gives the perception of perfection, making those of us that aren’t perfect, question our choices and decisions. The point is not whether or not we should feel this way, but the fact that we do. The fact that people do tend to post the best of their lives and not the nitty gritty, shitty and frustrating times. She mentioned she liked this site because we are fairly honest and so here you go my friend, this post is just for you. Lucy has swimming lessons on Tuesdays at 4pm. Usually Rocky is still napping and thus I take her while my Dad or stepmom stays with the little two. Yesterday he didn’t nap, and I wanted to get him out of the house and so I thought it would be fun if he went with to watch Lucy swim. Which it was…for the most part. Let’s not talk about how his marker got away from him on the bench at the pool and now there is a nice green stripe along the bench…shhhhhhh. Then it was time for Lucy to finish up, where she takes a shower in the locker room. She’s also freezing after swimming and takes forever to warm up. Fine fine. She’s in the warm water, warming up. Rocky meanwhile isn’t being too bad (it’s amazing how my definition of “not too bad” has changed since that kid came around) but he’s taking off his boots and his socks, leaving them various places around the locker room, he’s pushing buttons on the scale to change it around, etc etc. So I get Lucy’s hair washed, but she won’t rinse it. Thus the conversations goes:  Lucy, please rinse your hair. I am. Lucy put your head under the water. IT IS UNDER THE WATER. Honey, not one hair on your head is in the water. YES IT IS. If you don’t put your head under the water, I’m going to have to help you. THAT’S NOT NICE. I AM RINSING MY HAIR. Ok, now I have to help you. So here I am looking over my shoulder at the 2.5 year old running laps, and the woman who has no kids “because she’s a street photographer and couldn’t imagine having to deal with them” is sssshhing him (really, if all the noise in the locker room is annoying, then don’t fucking do your swimming DURING THE SAME TIME AS THE KIDS SWIMMING LESSONS, IT’S ONLY TWO DAYS A WEEK FOR AN HOUR…FIND ANOTHER TIME), and pushing my 5 year old under the water all while she’s screaming, YOU’RE NOT NICE. YOU DON’T DO THAT TO PEOPLE. Which to be fair she’s right, BUT OH MY FUCKING GOD. RINSE. YOUR. HAIR. So we get done with the shower, I blow dry Lucy’s hair. This isn’t going too bad. Then I’m helping her get dressed because she’s still freezing and can’t lift her legs up. But WHATEVER we are doing it. We are walking out the door. Come on Lucy. Come on Rocky. No Rocky you have to keep your gloves on. But I don’t like gloves. I know honey but it’s freezing on so let’s put them on. But I don’t like gloves. I know but it’s cold out. But I don’t like gloves. I KNOW BUT IT’S COLD OUT. Then this woman with the no kids who is a street photographer kind of laughs and says, “And think of it, you have another one at home.” (she knows this because I met her when I was pregnant with Veronica). You know what. Fuck you. Yah I do. But you know what doesn’t help? Pointing out to a clearly frustrated mom basically that kids are difficult and oh my how will you handle it when the third was is around. I mean how about saying, Hey, do you need any help? Or. Hey you are doing a fine job, these days happen. And I know that. And I don’t really give a shit what this woman thinks, but still. She doesn’t have kids and so she’s never been there so I have to give her some slack, but it didn’t annoy me any less. It was a great day really. Kids acted pretty well most of the day. Super fun seeing my friend. Rocky actually started interacting with Veronica instead of just poking her. He was making her laugh out loud. At night the kids were goofy and funny. Veronica went to bed with ease, the elders went to bed with out complaint. But it wasn’t all beautiful. And it isn’t always beautiful. I guess my goal is for it to be mostly fun and beautiful. And that’s the best anyone can ask...