Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sun Up, Sun Down

I am jealous of those of you with schedules: kids up at such and such time, go here and then there, have naps at such and such time, eat at scheduled time, go to bed at such and such. Such and such is hard for me to figure out. Perhaps my days have a rythym and rhyme to them, but it doesn't feel like it to me. I mostly feel frazzled. I try to work at least two hours on work from home a day, but I sometimes can't even get that much in. And this winter has been driving me bonkers. I want to go outside and play, but I'm too cold and miserable, so we stay inside and vegetate; the new jogging stroller Kulani bought me just mocks me in the living room. We should go to the library or do something constructive, but I don't even want to drive or leave the house. I hope I'm not turning into Jack Nickelson in The Shining. But here's a schedule of a typical day at our house:

5:00 AM: I'm up and trying to work. I work until I get tired, which may be an hour or maybe even two hours, and then I lay back down and take a "quick" nap. Usually Nohea wakes up around 6:45 AM either just as I'm getting in my work groove or in my sleep groove. I pick her up, bring her to bed to let her nurse and give mom a few more minutes sleep.

8:00 AM: Start arousing Melissa for preschool (Tuesdays and Thursdays). I try to let Lilia stay sleeping, but she usually gets up too. Lilia is a morning person; Lissy is not. Lissy cries over various things during the morning, either me having to brush her hair, brush her teeth, the wrong kind of breakfast, etc. Their attitudes reverse at night (as described below).

9:00AM: Usually I'm helping ladies in the neighborhood watch their kids for a few hours. So by this time I have a mini-van full of kids taking them to preschool. I come home and make breakfast for Lilia and Nohea and any other lingering children. After breakfast, I sit down at my laptop and try working again, and let Lilia watch a cartoon or color or draw or she rearranges the living room furniture or feigns to clean up her room, while really making a larger mess. Nohea crawls around or tries walking and stops by my lap for nursing every half hour or so. If I'm watching two babies, which is sometimes the case, I just sit in the rocking chair and hold both babies while we watch a little television. Not much gets done when watching two babies.

11:00 AM: Pick up any kindergartners from the bus stop. Come home and start making lunch and cleaning up breakfast dishes. Lunch is usually a healthy bowl of Mac'nCheese (from the blue box) or Ramen noodles. Yesterday we had fish sticks, though. Always hated fish sticks in school, but now I love them.

11:30 AM: Pick up Lissy from pre-school, along with any other kids who need a ride and a home to stay at for a few hours. Come home and make sure everyone is fed. Clean up dishes. Let kids play while I try to squeeze in more work or hold the baby until she falls asleep.

12:10 PM: Take Lilia to the bus stop for her preschool to begin.

1:30 PM: All kids that are not my own are now gone, and I find time to fit in a nap, while Melissa plays quietly by herself. Melissa is pretty good at playing by herself.

3:00 PM: I'll either do laundry whilst watching Dr. Phil, or we'll go grocery shoppng or to the library or just out to avoid getting stir crazy.

3:45 PM: Pick up Lilia from the bus stop.

5:00 PM: Tidy the house. Do some more laundry. Start preparing for dinner.

7:00 PM: Meet Kulani at the gym or run downstairs on the treadmill. Occasionally we'll take the whole family to the rec center, and we'll run on the track and then go swimming. About this time of night is when Lilia starts getting surly. She'll start to think about all the things she wanted to do today and what we didn't get to do, and she'll pout. She has break downs over simple things. Lissy, on the other hand, will be cooperative and kind. They mirror Kulani and my attitudes to a tea. I'm the morning person and a terrible grump at night. Kulani is a grump in the morning and very kind at night. I'm glad we're not all breaking down at the same time. This house would fall apart.

8:30 PM: Have dinner.

9:00 PM: Family prayer and bedtime.

10:00 PM: Wind down to sleepy town.

I can't get out of the college student rut of going to bed late and getting up early. But still, writing down my schedule has helped me see I'm not so frazzled after all. I think it's having a baby that makes me feel so useless. It seems I'm constantly holding or watching her. I used to think that if someone can make it past that first year of a baby's life, then you can make it until their 18. I remember before Nohea was born thinking how nice my life was going. Lilia and Melissa were old enough to get dressed by themselves. They didn't need my constant attention. I remember thinking: Am I ready to do this all over again? But time passes. Hopefully things will settle down and I'll be back to feeling groovy--or at least, in a groove. Kulani is good not to expect much out of me. He never complains when the house is a mess or the laundry isn't done (well, he does like having clean underwear, but other than that, he's learned the secret code of drop-off dry cleaning). And Nohea turns 1 on Sunday. I've survived this far, I might as well keep her around for the next 17.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Bug

So this is the final in my three-part kid update from my perspective. My first thoughts of Nono is that she is the most daring of our children. I hate to use comparisons to describe our children, but I can't help it on this one. Lilia and Lissy just seemed to know to stay away from the edge - like the edge of beds, couches, etc. Nono has no fear of that. She heads for the edge with reckless abandon and many a time we catch her just as she's going over. She's also fearless of the cat. Nono's desire to hold the cat far outstrips the pain the cat inflicts with his biting. The cat doesn't bite hard enough to break skin, but certainly put enough on it to make his point. Nono remains undeterred. The cat will swipe at her a couple of times to keep her away, but she just makes a full frontal attack and pulls the cat in.

Nono loves Alika. The first time he came to the house when he came up to school, Nono was in a foul mood. She was upset with mom and apparently I had nothing to offer. Alika came in and started talking to her and she stopped crying. He picked her up and she started smiling. They've got along famously ever since. Alika had been stopping by with some regularity since his job at Cabela's already had him in the neighborhood. The Cabela's thing is coming to an end, but calculus is rough, so Alika still comes by. During those times, Nono and Alika have taken turns comforting each other. When he's down, she can tell and will snuggle in. When she's down, he picks her up and carries her around.

It seems that the Bug has always just been one of the girls. She gets right in and joins in with whatever we're doing. She's the same with conversations, adding in her babble. Nono and I have our standard greetings that involve a head bonk and a kiss. When she's in her car seat or just doesn't want to leave mom (but still wants to talk to me) we have an interchange - I say Nono Bugs - she responds with Daddy. Or she calls me, and I respond. She's a lot of fun and a great little sister.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Toad

Lissy is my sweet, strong-willed second child. She has big, beautiful eyes that are a reflection of her mood. When she's happy, they light up her face. When she's sad, or wants you to think she's sad, her eyes are baleful.

Her facial features and hair come from Cindy's side. Her body shape is more like mine. Cindy assures me that she has my temperment. Which might be why we clash sometimes.

Some of Lissy's favorite activities right now include dancing. She was recently fond of saying, "I've got the moves!", which I think is from a Disney movie. She'll spend time developing her moves and then show them to me. Some of my favorites include the elevated running man - she suspends herself between two chairs and then churns her legs furiously. Her latest move is the classic high-school dance move that includes stepping one foot in front of the other in succession. She also likes to do the "Get your head in the game" with Lilia.

She's also very fond of watching movies and playing the role of a princess. Her favorite princess is Cinderella and is the doll she wanted for Christmas. Some of my favorite memories with Lissy involves movies. Often on Sunday afternoon or on weekend nights she'll approach me and with her sweet, slightly nasally voice, she'll ask if I'll watch a movie with her. We'll start and then lay down on the bed and she'll snuggle in. Then she helps me understand the movie by narrating it, including which toys if any she has related to the movie and whether she's seen the movie at other childrens' homes.

Lissy's food choices are varied. Like many kids, she loves mac 'n cheese at any time. She also is a big fan of peanut butter and jelly. Not so amazing, I know. What is amazing is that some of her favorites include sushi and especially salmon nigiri and crab. She can take or leave steak and hamburgers, but loves vegetables and especially edamame, brocolli, and brussel sprouts (in that order). If you leave a can of capers where she can get to them she will (and has on more than one occasion) eat most of the rest of the bottle.

For a good part of her infancy Lissy simply refused to have anything to do with me. She preferred her mother first, strangers next, loneliness third, and me a distant last. We've since worked through that, but still have a hard time making it all the way through a Daddy-Daughter date with just the two of us. She decided I had some usefulness when she discovered at the age of about two that I could rub her knees in a way that she liked. You've got to start somewhere, right.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Don't bug me, I'm sleeping.

So recently Melissa ratted me out. She told Kulani that her bear's daddy goes to work while her bear's mommy can sleep. So now Kulani thinks I sleep all day while he's at work. Yes, I'm guilty of taking a one-hour or maybe (on rare occasion, I promise) a two-hour nap here and there, but it's not an everyday occurance. And when I'm napping, I make sure to lock the door and let the girls run around and dirty up the house and basically do whatever they want. I hope I'm not as bad as Lisa Simpson in the futuristic Simpsons episode where she marries Nelson and her dozen or so kids are all running around, while she's lying on the sofa yelling, "Quit it! Quit it! Momma's watching her stories." Unless Dr. Phil counts as a "story" ...

The Bear

This is the first in a three-part series of some of my favorite memories of the little ones, and about some of my impressions of them at this point in their lives. As Cindy has noted, I've applied an alternate name to each of my kids. These names just kind of came to me while the children were babies and they've stuck. Lilia is the Bear. Lissy is the Toad. Nono started out as the duck - perhaps a hurried application influenced by Ze Frank and his fascination with ducks - but her name has been more fittingly revised to the Bug. So it's Lili Bear, Lissy Toad, and Nono Bug.

Lilia joined the family during my third year of law school. She was an angel at the hospital, but got cholic (sp) and cried off and on for nearly six weeks straight. It was something like three hours of silence followed by an hour of crying. We were both zombies in short order. After Cindy's maternity ran out, I arranged my schedule to watch her in the morning while Cindy worked. We had a routine of several songs we'd sing after she woke up - they included such favorites as "Down by the Station" and "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock." Because of the time we spent together while she was an infant, Lilia and I have always been close.

Lilia is tough. More than once she's been standing next to me only to have me step on her foot. Rather than cry at what is obviously painful, she'll often simply rub her foot for a few seconds and then carry on. We've always dragged Lilia every where we go - dinner, movies, crabbing, running, etc. Because of that, she's usually up for pretty much anything is a trooper when it comes to travel.

Along similar lines, she has widely-varying food tastes. Her current favorites include crab, steak, and sushi in that order. She likes McDonald's, but not necessarily for the food. Currently spicy stuff isn't her favorite.

Lilia has always been concerned about the entire family being together and taking part in whatever it is that's going on. A family favorite is the dance-dance party in which we all go down stairs, crank up some tunes, and dance together until everyone is exhausted. She's also a big fan of playing movie theatre at home. She and Lissy make tickets, distribute them, then collect them.

Lilia is also a born helper. Previously she loved to clean - wiping everything down in sight. She's starting to back off of that one. As part of that, sometimes I worry about her desire to please. Sometimes she'll not state her preferences or back off when either it's something we won't allow or that we're not really into. We're trying to get her to stand by her ideas, even if they aren't popular. We'll see how that works.

So right now, the Bear is my snuggler and Mom's right hand. I hope she'll always be my little girl and look with apprehension to her teenage years. Cindy assures me that all teenage girls hate their dads as teenagers. We'll have to see.