Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Restaurants and Children: Observations, Tips and Warnings (Part 1)

Carrie and I used to be frequent restaurant visitors.  But due to budget cuts and the abundance of children in our party that has changed a great deal.  However, on those occasions that we do eat out here are some observations, tips, and warnings from my dining with children experiences.
  1. Never ask your child where they want to eat.  It will never be where you want to eat.
  2. During the drive to the restaurant your children will complain that they are starving and that it is taking too long to get there. 
  3. If that restaurant happens to have a play area, those same children will eat one Chicken McNugget and three french fries and then loudly exclaim that they are no longer hungry.
  4. Did you know that children have compartmentalized stomachs, and that their green bean compartment is much smaller than their ice cream compartment?
  5. If I had a child's system of priorities when it comes to play vs. eat I would not be going to Quick Weight Loss.
  6. Regardless of how cute you think your child is when she is walking around taking the silverware off of other people's tables, the other patrons will not share your sentiment.  In fact, no matter how cute you think your children's antics are, no one anywhere will think so.
  7. If the restaurant that you have chosen doesn't have a playground there will always be a patron at another table nearby who will spot your family of six and immediately frown.
  8. Dear restaurant owner--what good is a playground if my children can see it as they walk in but I can't see it from my table. 
  9. Do not allow JoJo your child to dance on a nearby table.  Society frowns on such behavior.  Well, most of it anyway.
  10. Dear wait staff--unless you want to clean up crumbled and ground up wax off of the floor, please don't provide my 16 month old with crayons.
  11. Silverware should not equal drumsticks. See #6 above.
  12. Before children I was a good tipper.  With four children, I am now a GREAT tipper.
  13. Why do restaurants insist on keeping high chairs with broken restraining safety straps?  I will just have to leave after only ten minutes into my meal when JoJo insists that he MUST stand up. And really, those safety straps have a broken clip more than 50% of the time.  Really high chair manufacturer? You can't come up with a sturdier safety clip for your high chair safety straps?  If I was health inspector king I would close down any restaurant that has broken safety straps on their high chairs until they replace or repair any and or all broken straps.  Oh, now I get it. You're trying to get rid of us sooner.
  14. There are no high chairs in China. Nor are there any in the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown Houston, so we don't eat there anymore.  I am deeply saddened by this.
  15. If you really want to know how clean a restaurant is, check the high chairs, even if you don't have children.
  16. Who is the idiot who invented high chairs on rollers. I know it seems like a good idea because you don't have to pick the high chair up and carry it to the table but once a child is in it it becomes a giant baby bumper car. 
  17. Do not let your 16 month old boys out of their high chairs. The young couple sitting nearby will not appreciate it when Manny your son plays bumper car with the gentleman's chair.
  18. About #17above.......sorry sir. Of course, in a couple of years you will have a strange feeling of deja vous when your kids are doing it, too.
  19. Clearly I need to see a therapist regarding my obsession with high chairs.
In the end, it is rarely worth it to eat out, especially since unless we are eating at the golden arches or the place with the spotted cows it will cost in excess of $30 to eat.  I will really miss you Chipotle, Chuy's and ChinaTown Houston!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sleep and Other Elusive Dreams

Prior to bringing Grace home from China, Carrie did lots of parenting research.  She read books and articles about raising adoptive children, attachment disorders and discipline to name a few.  So when we brought Grace home we decided (based on research) to put Grace's crib in our room.  After all, she had spent the first eight months of her life in a crib in a room full of more cribs.  Actually we would have had her sleep between us had Carrie not been afraid that we would crush her.  I guess Carrie did read a book on co-sleeping because suddenly Grace WAS sleeping between us.  So much for spooning.
Nearly four years later Grace is still in our bed, but I am not.  How in the world did that happen?  Well, let me tell you.  We have tried several times to move Grace into her own room but, she has an extreme fear of the dark and an extreme fear of being alone. We made her a fairytale bed with a mosquito net (that we didn't take to DRC).  We hung pretty Christmas lights in her room so that it wouldn't be too dark in there.  We had Haven spend a few nights in Grace's room and told them they were mini slumber parties, only to wake up in the middle of the night as Grace was sliding into our bed.  We even told her that we would move her pet Tish the Fish into the bedroom with her.  Nothing has worked.    Through it all Haven has been the trooper, sleeping wherever and with whoever  he needs to.

Haven has always been a terriffic sleeper.  From day one he has slept through the night. So when we brought the littles home we figured they would follow suit.  We were 50% right.  JoJo has followed in Haven's foot steps and has been a terriffic sleeper from the get go.  Manny on the other hand has tested my strength, patience and love.

Oh Manny, Manny, Manny.  We have tried everything with Manny, short of alcoholic bevereges.  That boy would not sleep, and if you were lucky to get him to sleep, you had better not so much as drop a pin on the carpet or he will wake up.  Manny can scream, and I'm talking about the type of scream that would cause you to take your lower lip and wrap it around your head if that would drown out the sound.  And persistent, that boy's voice was built for marathons not sprints.   We have tried many techniques to try to get him to sleep, including rocking him until the rocking chair broke, literally.  When we decided that I would stay at home with the kids, I decided that it was only fair that I would be the one who would get up with the kids.  But that was before Manny. 

Once we finally get Manny to sleep the battle is only half way over, because that boy will not stay asleep and when he wakes up you had better have another bottle of milk for him or you will pay.  For the first six months that we were home, Manny averaged three wakeups per night.  I literally had not slept for more than three hours straight in six months.  That is when we made the big move to our current sleeping arrangement.  Carrie and Grace in the master bedroom on MY king size bed.  The sleepers, Haven and JoJo, sleeping peacefully in the boy's room and I sleep on Grace's teeny tiny bed with Manny in a pack and play next to me. 

This is madness.................. and we want two more?
Bring it on!

P.S. Manny has slept throught the night two nights in a row.  I even got to sleep in my own bed...........with Grace's feet digging into my back.

Oh, memories. 

I wonder which will happen first, Carrie and I spooning, or Grace's Master's degree.  Either way I'm sure her thesis will be titled "The Lasting Negative Effects of Co-sleeping "


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Open Letter to My Friend Margaret

You have foolishly agreed to watch my children while Carrie and I go get finger printed.
First, I must say "bwahahahaha"!  Second, I feel that I must leave you some information so that you won't freak out.

First, about the house:

1. I have been really too busy to mow the lawn so the grass is a little long right now, and I know, I know, the gutters need to be cleaned out.   But please come on in, people really do live inside.

2. Yes, the white smeary stuff on the windows is milk.  Manny and JoJo just love to finger paint.

3. Yes, that is a kitchen in there.......somewhere underneath all that.........stuff.  Feel free to cook something......if you dare!

4.  No, I didn't repair a motorcycle in the living room and no, the cast of Animal House did not have a food fight in there either.  The explanation is, well, I have four children named Grace, Haven, Manny and JoJo.

5.  That smell you say?  Well that is the smell of old dried milk, urine, a diaper or old milk bottle that has yet to be discovered (possibly under the couch), and possibly that missing cheese sandwich.

6.  Well yes, we do prefer to have the cushions on the couch but the children do not, so why bother to try when you are outnumbered four to one.  We just enjoy having cushions on the couch AFTER the kids go to sleep.

7.  Yes, we do have a vacuum cleaner, but using it is much like shovelling the driveway in the middle of a blizzard.  It's better to wait for the storm to go away before getting started.  I just like to think of it as an 18 year blizzard.

8.  Nope, not a science project in the backyard.  The kids like to play restaurant.

     P.S. I wouldn't eat there, they specialize in mud soup.

9.  That is a CLEAN pile of laundry, despite that fact that my snotty and poopy kids are crawling all over it.  If I had time to fold and put it away I would have, so please don't judge.

Now, about the kids:

1. Never feed a gremlin after midnight and never let Manny or JoJo in the will be sorry!

2.  One of the three boys will get stuck somewhere or in something.....just thought you should know.

3.  Grace will make Haven cry by doing little more that looking at's OK.

4.  Manny will cry and you will want to poke your eardrums out with a skewer.  They are located in the drawer left of the sink.

5.  Do you play guitar?  The boys have formed a heavy metal band.  Unfortunately, they are all drummers.

6.  If you fail to put the boys down for a nap it's your own fault.  I warned you.

And finally, don't look at the clock while you are here..........time will go by faster.




An Open Letter To My Sister

In a moment of weakness, you agreed to be the legal guardian to my children should something happen to both me and Carrie.  Pray dear sister, pray, because I know that you are afraid of germs and that you have a weak stomach.  I think it is only fair to pass along a little information that I hope will prepare you for parenting my brood should the unthinkable happen.  You need to be prepared my sister, you need to know, so that you will not be surprised and overwhelmed.

First and foremost I suggest a rigorous course of systematic desensitization so that you will not lose your lunch when you witness or have to do the following:

1. Manny and JoJo are not yet potty trained.  Don't worry, they only poop in their diapers twice each day. They go through about twelve (combined) diapers total each day.  Don't worry, if they are on the same pace that Haven was on, they will be potty trained in about two years.  At that rate you will only have to change about 8500 diapers. 
2. Haven is finally potty trained, however, he has not learned yet how to complete the post poop paperwork.  Alas it is inevitable that you will get some unwanted um lets say stuff on your fingers.  Also, please be prepared for some particularly messy paperwork when he has diarrhea. 
3.  Grace is potty trained and able to do her own paperwork however she is afraid of the dark so you will have to stop what you are doing to turn the light on for her.
4.  It is only fair to warn you that if you leave JoJo naked for more than a nanosecond, he will pee and poop on your floor.  The good thing is Manny waits until he is taking a bath to poop, so count on running his bath twice.  If he does poop in the tub, please clean it immediately before he and JoJo play with it.
5.  Please be aware that when changing JoJo's diaper that you need to keep his hands away from any poop.  It tends to get under his fingernails and it's really hard to get the smell out.

OK that's toileting. How is your stomach?

My children are good for about one cold per child per month.  Here is some advice.
1. If the snot is clear that is OK.  If it is green, don't use a white object to clean it, it will just turn that object green as well.
2.  Don't bother to wash your hands, you are going to get their cold anyway.
3.  If their snot is clear, don't  wear dark clothing, you will look like you fell asleep in a snail aquarium.
4.  If their snot is green don't wear anything white (see no.1 above).

1. If you know that one of the babies is sick and might puke, please don't feed them milk.  Milk reacts with stomach acid to produce a very stinky version of cottage cheese.  You too will puke.
2.  Spaghetti sauce puke is very hard to get out of the carpet.
3.  Do not make Grace eat anything that makes her gag when she looks at it.  She is not kidding.
4.  If one of the children has both diarrhea and is puking, it is better to put their butt over the toilet not their face.

These are just a few of the real crises that you will face should you decide to go through with guardianship of our children.  Should you be having second thoughts dear sister, please call and I will give you the number of one of Carrie's sisters.

Good luck and God Speed