Snow Days Can Be the Best Days

If you read my “Nurturing Your Space” article, you know that I had a bit of an episode of temporary insanity that resulted in the removal of the carpet in my dining room. I was down to the subflooring without any immediate plan to re-floor the room. Ali and I decided to take advantage of this transition period and allow the Fey to let their inner artists go wild on the subflooring.

The date was set, the supplies were purchased, the girls were ecstatic, and then came the forecast. So much snow! Ali likely wouldn’t be able to make it. Ali and I worried about our well-being if the Fey were unable to Picasso the floor as they had so highly anticipated. Instead of taking that risk, we decided to have a sleepover. What resulted was the best snow day ever!

The girls were still giggling in Story’s room when I finally gave up and went to bed. I have no idea how much longer they lasted; I was just so grateful it was giggles instead of grumbles. Of course, at some point in the middle of the night, the girls got into bed with their respective mamas, but really, that was an unexpectedly great first sleepover night.




The next day held lots of memories for us all. We started the day off right with sugar: pancakes. We moved outside to play. Maddie had her first up-close-and-personal experience with snow. She seemed unimpressed. Riley and Story made the extra-slippery slide into a luge event, which ended in a snow bank. Snow angels, snowball fights, and snow tag were all favored games. Ali and I were more interested inbuilding a snowman. Riley and Story were interested in eating our snowman. Of course, I couldn’t allow this, so it became a game of the Fey sneaking up and stealing a bite of the poor snowman and my pushing them down into the snow.

Wet, cold, and happily exhausted, we headed indoors, but not before we stopped to collect snow for snow ice cream! My grandma made snow ice cream with the first snow fall every year, and I thought it was high time I introduced it to the Fey. See the recipe in Fey Food.

Finally, it was the moment they’d been waiting for: painting party! Story and Riley each got her own set of paints and brushes; Maddie got her own set of paint markers for little hands. All washable, of course. Don’t you just love the word washable? There was only one rule: You can only get paint on the floor. That lasted all of two seconds, and then we had to add another rule: You can only get paint on the floor and yourselves. Suddenly, the floor didn’t look so inviting.

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I started to intervene, but Ali gave me that “let it go, Lesley” look. And I did. More paint ended up on their bodies than the floor—even the baby face-planted in the paint—but these faces made it all okay.

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Lessons learned: Choose your words carefully; all instructions will be taken literally if they so suit the Fey; the best-laid plans of mamas and Fey often go astray; and the best days are often those unplanned.

Thank Goodness for Online Shopping

There are certain places that mothers avoid. When you are outnumbered, a trip to the grocery store can be as scary and uninviting as a trip to the dentist. If there wasn’t chocolate in there, I probably wouldn’t go at all. I know that I will be squeezing down the aisles, pushing a plastic car attached to my cart while my three-year-old drags her feet on the ground out of one side and dangles her head out of the other. I’ll pay no attention to my list as I reach for canned fruit, feeding the baby with one hand and trying not to hit other shoppers with my daughter’s protruding head. We’ll eventually make it to the checkout, where I will have to hand Riley each item for her to put on the conveyor belt. The cashier hates me, the other shoppers hate me, and I am exhausted.

It’s unpleasant.

These unpleasantries, though, are nothing compared those suffered in Jo-Ann Fabrics. This crafty, feel-good store creates a reaction in Riley that I am sure should be studied. It doesn’t matter what her mood is, if she’s eaten, if she’s had a nap. It is all irrelevant. Nothing can be done to counter the store’s infected air.

A New Year’s resolution to decorate at least two rooms in my house this year prompted me to begin looking at curtains. New curtains meant fabric. Fabric meant Jo-Ann’s. Luckily for me, my mom is the master sewer and needed to come to ensure that I chose fabrics that would work and order the correct amounts. A knowledge base I wish I could absorb. Alas, my attention is typically divided between trying to make decisions and trying to control the thing that takes over Riley. This trip was no different.

The minute we walked through the door, Riley was off and running, leaving bolts of fabric in her wake. I found her only by her malicious laughter, rearranging button displays in a neighboring aisle. After a couple of failed attempts, I finally coerced her into compliance by allowing her to push the cart, waddling over her to ensure she didn’t damage any merchandise with her steering. Somehow, we had managed to select the fabric and proceed to the cutting table when the affliction hit again. Her hearing was clearly affected this time as she didn’t respond to any of my pleas for her to listen. She began rearranging again, continuing to grab buttons as I pulled her from the display.Then she went limp. She was dead weight as I tossed my credit card to my mom and retreated to the car. My emotions cycled between anger, embarrassment, and failure. I passed a small boy and his mother as they entered the store and couldn’t help but smile as I watched this well-mannered toddler begin to wail as he passed the store’s threshold.
Lessons learned: always enlist backup in situations that could turn ugly; never admit failure — you may be embarrassed, but your kid is learning valuable social lessons; order fabric online; and stock up on chocolate.

Shopping with kids

Mom Friends

“Mom, the baby likes it when I spit on her!” I could do little but inwardly sigh. We were on our first outing as “mom friends”; I didn’t know Ali very well, and I was just sure that after this trip I wouldn’t get the opportunity to get to know her better. After all, my child was spitting on her child. Granted, Story’s version of spitting was blowing raspberries, and Riley did, in fact, seem to like it. But still.

Cruising up highway 37, I kept a close watch on the speedometer. If I went over the speed limit, would Ali think I was endangering her child? I looked in the rearview mirror to check on Story’s behavior, praying she wasn’t she still spitting on the baby. But she wasn’t there! My heart stopped for the agonizing full second and a half it took to remember that I had moved her car seat from the middle to the side to make room for Riley’s car seat. Just as I had started to normalize, I heard a click and a roar. An alarm flashed on my dashboard. Story had opened her door. With visions of children being sucked from the backseat as though out of a plane, I pulled over to a too-quick stop on the shoulder. “Story!” I yelled. I’m not sure what else came out of my mouth, but I didn’t dare face Ali’s eyes, which I just knew had to be full of judgment. What she must have thought of me!

The girls were hungry. I won good-mom points this time: I had packed a snack. Of course, Ali had too. All was quiet for a minute or two, and then Riley made a little sound. She was gesturing for Story’s Goldfish. Story was quick to interpret: “Riley said she doesn’t want any of my Goldfish, and I can have them all.” Riley disagreed. Story refused to share. I spoke harshly. There was much grumbling. And then we were finally there: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

 

Trepidation overwhelmed me; this was a bad idea. And I was right to worry. Story ran away from me several times, refused to leave the Dinosphere, had a meltdown like I’d never witnessed, would not share toys (or space), and had no patience for the things Riley wanted to look at. What was worse was my attitude. I was so worried about what Ali would think, I acted like a different person, and the result was failure. I failed to experience the wonders with my daughter and share her joy; I failed to get to know Ali in any real way, and I failed to show Riley how much fun I can really be.Mom Friends

As we were leaving, Ali, seemingly oblivious to my utter shame, announced, “Well, that wasn’t so bad. We only had a few meltdowns!” I looked at her in disbelief, but she had a genuine smile. That’s when I knew that this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Lessons learned: Always bring more than one baggie of Goldfish. Always engage the child locks. Always anticipate a meltdown. And always, always stay true to yourself and your child.

Now, let’s hear from you! What are some of your mom friend stories?

Maddie

Being a Virgo, I have a tendency to be a tad stubborn. It’s hard for me to redirect an ambition once I’ve set my mind to it. Even after having experienced what it was to raise a strong-willed girl for two years, I still was determined to have another. I’d always wanted two little girls, and, really, Riley was my fault. I chose her name with a purpose, and she turned out to be exactly that way. All I needed to do was be selective in my name choice and stay away from rowdy, high-spirited names. I could pick one that was soft and sweet, and this little girl would be an easy-going charming angel. Madison would do the trick. (more…)

Story

Story Name

I get some pretty interesting looks when I introduce my daughter. “Dory?” they say, trying to force a name that their brains can recognize as a name. “No. Story.” I smile and wait patiently as they, maybe not accept, but at least comprehend it. “Oh . . . How do you spell that?”

I took a risk with Story’s name. I put a lot of pressure on the poor kid. What if she grew up to be as dull as a dormouse? What if she had nothing at all to say? And what if she never learned to read and write a story? An illiterate Story.

I needn’t have worried. From the outset, I knew I had chosen correctly. Story was a very verbal baby. Not having been around many babies, I thought all her noises were the norm. Not so much. She didn’t cry; she negotiated. She didn’t sigh; she sang. She didn’t snore; she cooed. Constant sound. As any good mother would do, I quickly learned to tune most of it out. (Of course, I became immediately fearful if the sound stopped, but luckily that didn’t happen often.)

One day while shopping and trying to tune out my poor daughter so I could concentrate, I suddenly realized that there was a specific pattern to her noises. Story was alternating between a high-pitched babble with an inflection of fear and a deep, gruff, almost-roaring sound. As I listened and watched her most-expressive face, I realized she was telling a story. A little girl was being accosted by a monster.

It’s impossible for me to put these sounds into words, so have a listen. First, the little girl:

 

Now the monster:

 

Before I reveal the ending to my tale, let me tell you what Story’s middle name is. It is Fae. Fae is the root word for fairy, so Story Fae is my little fairy tale. All modern fairy tales have a happy ending, and every mom wants that for her child, right? Well, it seems that Story prefers the grim, oral versions of old.

The little girl’s voice grew softer and softer as her pleas died with a slump of Story’s shoulders. In the next moment, the monster RAWRed triumphantly and my precious cherub-faced little girl laughed wickedly.

Story is now five years old, and the sounds have turned into words. So many words. She has embraced her name with a fervor that I could only dream of applying to my life. Still she cannot write, but at least I know she can tell a story.