Monday, November 26, 2012

Baby steps

So apparently it's been 7 months since I updated this blog. We can now add this to the list of things that I can't seem to stay on top of. Let's see...taking cute pictures of my kids, eating sensibly, exercising consistently, keeping my house clean, showering regularly, not dressing like homeless bag lady....I know it's just baby steps, right? Like in that movie "What About Bob?" Just write a little bit every week.

So what have I been doing these past 7 months? As much as I would like to say that I paid $0.31 for $600 worth of groceries while wearing my size 2 pants and planning my next vacation to Arumba (you know, because I have all this money because I don't have to pay for groceries, duh), all while crafting with my perfectly behaved children and posting it on Pinterest, the reality is that I have no motivation for that kind of stuff.

Some of you may remember that I'm not a fan of Christmas. Just looking at the lights and decorations makes me feel exhausted and broke. When I think of baking holiday cookies with the kids, all I see is a sink full of dishes and sprinkles all over the floor. I don't want to put up a tree. I don't want to move an elf around my house. Bah. Humbug. Sorry folks.

What I would really like to do is drink Diet Coke and watch Breaking Bad on Netflix.

Unfortunately, I may have to start making an effort, even if it kills me, and start pretending I like the holidays for everyone's sake. Mateo has already decided that we need to keep up with the Joneses and get some lights on the house. Even though our neighbors refuse to clean up their yard or make basic repairs to their house...they have hung up hundreds of dollars worth of Christmas lights and paraphernalia. Mateo has informed me that it is "not fair" that we have not followed suit. Hmmm...maybe we can put up the tree this weekend. And maybe I can take some pictures of us doing it. Baby steps.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


A short time ago, Nico was in that hellish limbo between sweet baby and self-sufficient school aged child. I believe most people call it the toddler stage. Eventually, some honest people came up with the term "terrible twos", although I still think that is somewhat of a euphemism. Nico's terribleness began at around 18 months and didn't really let up until he was 4. During this stage, Nico became my shopping partner mostly because Max refused to be left home alone with him. Since then, Nico has crossed over and become a human being again. But he has still remained my shopping partner.
We mostly go to the supermarket, but occasionally there is the trip to somewhere more fun. When we got in the car today, Nico began the following conversation.
Nico: "We don't go to Target enough. I 'm pretty sure the last I went to Target I was 3."
Me: "What can I say? You live a deprived life."
Nico: "So... are we going to Target!?!"
Me: "Sure. But you can only get one small thing." Famous last words...
Before Target, we had to stop at Kohl's. Yes we HAD to because 1. They mailed me a $10 off coupon (marketing at its best) and 2. My ass has gotten bigger since last summer and I need some shorts that don't cut off my circulation. As we pull in Nico and I have the following conversation.
Nico: "This is not Target. What are we doing here?"
Me: "I need to buy some shorts."
Nico: "I'll just stay in the car."
Me: "No, you'll get super hot."
Nico: "I like to be super hot."
Me: " Mookie and Grandpa like this store. It's their favorite." After hearing this Nico decides Kohl's is worth a look. He even finds a packet of Toy Story socks for himself. On the way out, we have a typical stupid parking lot incident where I attempt to back out four times before being able to leave my parking spot that two other cars are fighting for.
Nico: "Those people are @#$%' morons"
Hmm...where did he hear that? Oh, yeah, that's what I just said about 10 seconds ago.
Nico: "Is that a bad word? @#$%' morons?"
Me: "Yes. We probably shouldn't say it."
As it turned out, Nico was right about Target. We found him a very cool bike helmet that had been marked down to $5.56. But that pales in comparison to what we found next. Nico's big find was the most coveted of all the monster trucks. I was beginning to think that this toy didn't exist, but as Nico was raking through boxes of Monster trucks he suddenly let out a cry "OH MY GOD! IT'S MOHAWK WARRIOR!"
Is it pathetic to admit that I was pretty excited about finding it too? Oh, well. No way were we going to leave Target without MOHAWK WARRIOR. Nico had won the monster truck lottery. Here are some pictures of Nico and his monster trucks including MOHAWK WARRIOR

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Conversations on the way to the pool

Friday after work, I took the boys to the indoor pool because Nico had begged me to go when we passed the pool on Thursday. However, just one day later he had absolutely no recollection of this.
"Guess where we're going?" I asked excitedly.
"To Legoland!?!" shouted Mateo
" The pool." I said.
"Remember Nico? You wanted to go to the pool." I tried.
"Can I still play video games?" Nico asked seeming indifferent to the whole trip to the pool.
"Sure. After the pool." I sighed. So much for this being a big treat.
"OK. Pool then video games." Nico mutters to himself.
A few seconds later.
"N. I C. O. That's spelled Nico!" shouted Nico proudly putting up a finger for each letter, "And there are 1,2,3...4! letters in my name."
"My names beats your name." Mateo replied, "because it has FIVE letters."
"Well, Nico's full name is Nicolas. And that has seven letters. So looks like he wins after all." I added just to egg Mateo on.
"Oh, yeah...well my full name is Mateolas, and that has eight letters." Mateo said smuggly.
"No it's not." I laughed.
"Yes. It is Mommy. It really is. Ok?" Mateo said seeming rather pissed off.
"Whatever. Mateo." No use agruing.
"Did you know there are two kids named Alex?" Mateo said.
"Well, why do they have the same name?"
"Because it's a popular name. Some people have the same name. Like me and Miss Jackie (Nico's former babysitter). We are both named Jackie. And somewhere in the world there are other kids
named Mateo." I explained.
"There are other Mateos?" Nico asked in awe.
"Oh, well... I want to meet these other Mateos." Nico said suspiciously.
"Well, maybe someday we will." I replied.
We pulled into the pool parking lot and Nico and Mateo dashed to the doors to fight over who will push the button to open the doors. I recognized the girl who punches our pool pass as Nico's old swim teacher from Parent and Me. During this class, Nico loathed the circle time where everyone would sing songs. I would always have to ungracefuly duck out as Nico screamed at the other mommies and toddlers to "Stop singing! I hate this song!". Thankfully, his experiences in the preschool swim classes have been less eventful.
Onward to the locker room. In general, young children have no filter when it comes to commenting on the appreance of random strangers. So of course, being in a locker room with naked people is somewhat of a worrisome situation because at any moment something really inappropriate (but true) could be said. Fortunately (although not so fortunate for me) their comments today seem to all be directed at me.
"Haha...You have a fat belly." Nico shrieked as he grabbed my belly and shook it. "Why is it so fat!?!"
"Because I had 3 kids. Now put on your suit." I sighed. Out of the corner of my eye, I see two teenagers giggling. But my humiliation was not over just yet.
"Why do you have dots on your butt?" asked Mateo. Hmm...nothing like a 6 year old calling you out on your cellulite.
"Let's just get our bathing suits on, ok?" I said pulling my suit on quickly. And there you have it. My self esteem boost for the day.
I know I should start making them change themselves in the mens' locker room, but I don't even trust them to cross the street by themselves. There's no telling what they might decide to do in there. At home, they like to run around naked before their bath. They called it their "naked party." Not exactly the kind of thing that mens' locker room at the rec center needs. But I think the time is coming soon that they need to get changed in there. I don't know how much more brutally honest body critiquing I can take at this point.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Adventures at the Dog Park

For those of you that don't know, we have a dog. Her name is Honey and she is a valient soul. Unlike some couples, Max and I did not get Honey before we had kids. So she was never our "baby". She was always just "the dog". Despite never getting to be the center of all our love and attention, Honey has proven herself to be a top dog. She is great with the kids, trustworthy when left home alone, and has always done her business outside. She is also a pretty decent runner who forces me to pick up my pace on our 3 mile jogs.
From time to time, I feel a little guilty that Honey does not get more attention. The other day she was lying in a pile of dirty laundry while the kids ran around her screaming. She just laid there unfazed by the noise. Poor dog, I thought... she deserves a friend. A dog friend.
So the next day I loaded Honey and the boys into the van and we drove to the Dewey Street Animal Shelter. The people at the animal shelter suggested that we leave Honey with the receptionist while we looked at potential dogs. Then once we found one we liked, we could introduce it to Honey. Seemed fine to me, so we hooked Honey leash to the receptionists desk and off we went.
However, after looking at a few dogs, we were called back for Honey. Apparently, our perfect, docile dog was completely freaking out. When we returned to the receptionist's desk, Honey was sporting a new chain leash. In our absence, she had become so distraught that she chewed through her cloth leash. I should have taken this as a sign to leave, but we had a few dogs we thought Honey might like, so instead we walked a poor, frazzled Honey into the dog yard. Honey rejected the first two canidates, alternating nipping at them and frantically jumping on me and boys. The animal shelter staff concluded that Honey was an "alpha" dog, and that a dog friend might not be a good idea for her.
Before we left, we made one last attempt, and introduced Honey to an eight month old puppy. She seemed to take to this dog fairly well and relaxed a bit. I told the animal shelter that I would talk to Max about it and that we might be back for the puppy. When I got home, I went on the internet and showed Max the puppy's picture.
"Ugh! What kind of dog is that?" Max asked.
"I don't know, some kind of mix. What do you think?" I replied
"I think it's the ugliest dog I've ever seen. No" he said.
"But it gets along pretty good with Honey..." I tried
"I don't care. It's ugly." And so it was decided. Honey remained an only dog.
The people at the animal shelter suggested taking Honey to a dog park to socialize her a bit. As luck would have it, a new dog park just opened up right in our neighborhood. So I took Honey and the kids to check it out.
The kids immediately found a little dog that chased balls and spent the entire time playing catch with this dog and ignoring Honey. I will give Honey credit. For the most part, she was doing pretty good with the other dogs.
Then she had her run in with the Pomeranian. I knew this little dog was going to be a problem from the get go. As her owner walked her into the park, the dog started yapping at Honey. Honey's ears shot up. She raced towards the Pomeranian, and then stood directly over it. The Pomeranian's fur poofed out and it became frantic. Honey bent her head down and started nipping at it. The dog's owner swooped in and picked up the frazzled Pomeranian, and I called Honey over to me.
Honey ran past me, to the other end of the dog park, and immediately had diarrhea. Ok, time to go. That's enough fun for one day. I cleaned up Honey's mess, shouted an apology to the Pomeranian's owner, and I loaded the kids and Honey back into the van. As I drove home, I though about how my attempts to make Honey happy had backfired and brought more stress upon our poor dog.
"Hey, mom? Can we get a little dog that chases balls?" asked Mateo
"Maybe some day if we can get Honey to be nice to other dogs." I replied
"Mommy?" said Nico, "I don't think Honey wants to be nice to other dogs. I think Honey just wants to relax."
Well, that's pretty accurate...and for now, that's exactly what Honey is going to do.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Endless and Unavailing

At some point in my education, I was introduced to the Greek myth about Sisyphus. Here's a quick summary from Wikipedia for those not familiar with this character.
Sisyphus was "a king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity.The word "sisyphean" means "endless and unavailing, as labor or a task."
Never have I sympathized more with poor Sisyphus that I do now. Lately, this sums up the state of my house. Endless and unavailing. Everyday, I do dishes, I do laundry, I sweep and swifter the floor, I help the kids pick up their toys...and a few hours later, I have to do it all over again. The boulder is right back at the bottom of the hill.
For a time, Max contended that the state of the house was my fault. I let it get this way. The whole disaster was 100% preventable if I just cleaned as I went, made the kids put away each toy before playing with the next. I tried to explain to him that the water was simply entering the boat faster than I could bail, and trying to fight it was futile.
However, Max refused to believe me and continued to do very little to help me clean the house. I was getting very frustrated and resentful. Several people I knew told me to "just talk to him". Hmm...well, I've tried that several hundred times, got any other ideas? Unfortunately, the whole "communication" thing wasn't really working in this instance. So I decided to escape. When Daniela was a few months old, I took up cycling. I left him alone with all three kids for several hours while I biked and "forgot" to take my cell phone with me.
When I came back from my ride, the house looked like an episode of Hoarders. The boys were still in their pajamas and eating from an open bag of Cheetos, half of which had spilled onto the floor and been ground into the rug. Daniela was still wearing the diaper she had slept in which was so soaked that it was hanging off of her. Her face and hands were covered in chocolate pudding. When Max saw me, he immediately jumped off the couch and headed for the bathroom. Could I believe it? He couldn't even take a shower with these kids. Umm...yeah, I could believe it. Why do you think I cut off all my hair and dress like a bag lady? The kids don't leave you much time for grooming. Or anything really.
So after several bike rides, Max finally caved and admitted that the house being a disaster was not my fault. The minute one mess is cleaned, another appears, no matter what you do. And he started helping...a little.
So, I agree that communication is key. If you want a clean house, all you have to do is communicate this to a cleaning lady and go for a long bike ride. Maybe someday, I will be able to afford that cleaning lady. Until then, boulder awaits.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Family portraits: the good, the bad, the out of control

Lately, I've gotten several holiday cards from family and friends. It got me to thinking about our experiences with family photos. The title of this post pretty much sums it up. In our years of being a family, we've only attempted trying to get all of us in the same photo three times. Here are the stories.
The Bad: Family Portrait of 2007
It was November, Nico was 2 months old and Mateo had just turned 2 years old. I was exhausted and hovering around 235 lbs. I was still "adjusting" to having two kids. In other words, I was barely maintaining my sanity on a day to day basis. I scheduled our photo session for a Sunday morning since the boys were usually the least cranky in the morning. I figured this early time was probably our best bet. The night before, Max went to a party. He called me later to inform me that he was going to stay at his friend's house that night since he had "had a few drinks". Max is really not a drinker, so I figured he was just being responsible and didn't want to drive. I reminded him about our 10 am appointment and hung up. The next day he came home around 8:45am. And he really didn't look good.
"Do I have to be in this photo?" was the first thing he asked me.
"Not if you don't want to, I guess." was the tearful response I gave.
"No, no. Nevermind. I'll go." he said quickly, "Just let me take a shower."
While Max took a shower I changed both boys diapers and tried on seven different shirts, concluding that I looked fat in all of them. Not much of a mood lifter.
Max got out of the shower, and from the depths of his closet pulled out the ugliest shirt I had ever seen and put it on. I opened my mouth to protest, but realized that 1. it was almost 9:30 and 2. Max looked like he was going to throw up. So instead, we all got in the car and started driving to the studio. I glanced over at Max and realized that although he had showered, he hadn't shaved. And despite the cool November air, his face was covered in sweat.
When we entered the studio we were hit with a blast of hot air. Even though it was in the 60s outside and most of the other families there were dressed in Christmas sweaters, the studio thought it was a good idea to crank up the heat. Max held Nico and fanned himself with a nearby magazine while I tried to change Mateo into the holiday outfit I had packed in his diaper bag. Mateo screamed and refused to wear the pants or sweater. We walked into our session with Mateo wearing a beat up pair of red summer shorts. Max looked awful and I didn't look much better. Nico slept through the whole thing. Mateo screamed and squirmed. As the photographer snapped several photos, I looked over at the next family waiting for their turn in the studio. The kids played quietly. The mom was slim with perfect hair and make-up. The dad was clean shaved and smiling. No one seemed exhausted. No one seemed hung over. No one seemed overwhlemed by it all. I tried not to cry until we got to the car.
The Good: Family portrait of 2008
A year later, things were looking up. Nico was 15 months old and Mateo was three years old. I had been religiously doing Weight Watchers for a year and was at a weight I hadn't seen since high school. After last year's bad experience, I had decided to play my cards differently. First off, I pick out all our outfits well in advance to avoid another ugly shirt fiansco. Then, I scheduled our photo session for a weekday evening, for obvious reasons. Max was shaved and showered. I had on makeup. And the kids were marvelously behaved. We got compliments from the photographer. For a few fleeting moments, we were that family! We had it figured out. It was the Halley's comet of family portraits for the Bisbal family. We most likely will never see something like this happen again in our lifetime.
The-out-of-control: Family portrait of 2010
Two years later, Daniela had joined our family, and we had come to accept the chaos we lived in as normal. We attempted this photo session in the summer with the idea that the no one else would be in the studio. We were right, and it was a good thing. Believe me we needed the room. It probably would have been easier to get a bunch of squirrels to perform a synchronized swim routine than get a great shot of the Bisbals. Both Nico and Daniela refused to cooperate. Nico did jumps and somersaults all over the studio, but refused to sit still or even look at the camera. Daniela arched her back and screamed in protest when I tried to sit her in my lap. Max and I expected it, though, since they hadn't been much different on the car ride to the studio. The photographer was not so patient. After a few shots she declared that "this probably isn't going to work". Yeah, it probably wasn't. I could have told her that on the phone when I made the appointment. Most things we attempted that year, like grocery shopping for instance, we knew "proabably weren't going to work" with all three kids. We realized that getting a family portrait that year was like asking the ocean not to move. An impossible task, but we attempted it anyways because you never know. Lightening has been know to strike twice.
After writing this, I found all these photos to post. The 2010 and 2008 photos were on my facebook page, but I had to go looking for the 2007 one. As I took a picture of it with my digital camera, I thought to myself, hey this is actually a really good picture of us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bye Bye Bottle

Hello. My name is Jackie and my 2 year old still takes a bottle. What can I say, the recovering Catholic in me feels the need to confess her motherly shortcomings. Believe me, they are numerous, so I'll just stick with this one for today. Daniela turned two last August and, up until a couple days ago, still took a bottle. "Isn't she your third baby?" you must be asking, "Don't you know how to do this by now?" Well, if your asking if I have my act together the answer is still no, but taking the bottles away from the boys was a breeze. Both of my boys were done with bottles shortly after their first birthdays. But there was a big difference. The boys were addicted to pacifiers, know to them as "binkies". The binky was the essential item needed to get them to sleep. I didn't dare take those away. I let them keep those binkies until they were almost three. Daniela, however, made it clear when she was a little baby that she did not share her brothers' love of binkies. So, out of desperation, I have let her keep her bottle so as not to mess with her bedtime routine. She actually goes to sleep at 7:30pm on the dot. No fussing. No waking up at night. Nothing but peaceful sleep.Who in their right mind would mess with that?
But, I know she's been playing me. Big time. She goes down for a nap, without a bottle, no problem for her babysitter and has done so for months. She is very capable of sleeping without a bottle, but she knows I'll give it to her. So like any smart kid, she takes advantage when she sees an opportunity.
Daniela's speech therapist has been subtly suggesting I get rid of the bottle since he started with her a few months ago. I've been bending the truth a bit and saying that she only takes ONE bottle at night to go to bed. The truth is that if she asks for it, I give it to her. Just doesn't seem worth the fight. But on his most recent visit, Daniela totally outed me.
She signed for milk, so we went to the kitchen and I began to pour some milk into a sippy cup.
"Nooooo!" she protested.
"What's wrong? Do you want your princess cup instead?" I tried, knowing damn well what it was she wanted.
"Uhh-uh." Daniela said shaking her head and giving me a puzzled look. She then ran to the dishwasher, opened it, pulled out a bottle and nipple, and handed it to me.
"You know, you've got a long winter break. It's a great time to work on getting rid of the bottle." her speech therapist said. Busted. Ok, I still let her have a bottle. And you've been telling me for months to get rid of it. I'm officially a non-compliant parent. I'm not doing my part. I will change. I promise. We will get rid of it. Today. For real.
So after he left. I tried to discuss the bottle with Daniela, well as much as a two year old with a speech delay can discuss such things.
"Daniela, are you a big girl or a baby?" I asked.
"Babeeee!" she said.
"No. You're a big girl." I tried.
"Yeah!" she screamed and started clapping.
"Big girls don't use bottles, so I'm going to take your bottles and give them to a little baby, ok?"
"Yeah! Babeeee!" Daniela cheered.
Hmm... I wasn't really sure if she understood any of that, but it was time to take the plunge. So I gathered her bottles and put them in the garbage bin outside. No turning back now.
Surprisingly, Daniela has never asked about her bottle since. She has signed for milk and been fine with a sippy cup. However, that 7:30pm bedtime seemed to have gotten thrown out with the bottles as well. Last night, she fell asleep with Max around 10pm and tonight, she finally went down in her own bed at 11pm. Both nights, her slumber was preceeded by several failed attempts that involved screaming fits. Hopefully, she is not forever changed.