Snippet of the day: Getting Ready for School edition

7:04am: Kids come running up the stairs to wake me up to finish getting them ready for school while Daddy gets ready for work.  At the head of the stairs, Mimi begins yelling at Dom not to go in so SHE can go first, which Dom naturally ignores.  Wailing and loud recriminations ensue.  The door to my room is flung open; Dom walks in and asks his favorite/obsessive question: “Um, Mommy….what shall I do?”

7:05am: Mimi (aka Our Lady of Perpetual Grievance) follows close behind, still fussing loudly at the injustice of the world.  Pulls it together to corner Dom and articulate all of her woes: “Dom, I have fwee fings to say to you.  Fiwst, you didn’t yet me go in to Mommy’s woom fiwst when I asked you to.  Secondwy, you gwabbed de back of my shiwt when we were on de stairs.  Firdwy…um, I don’t wemember what was firdwy.  Ok, I onwy have two fings to say to you…”  Dom is indifferent to this scolding.  His lack of apology drives Mimi into renewed wailing and crying. Probably in a heap on the floor.  I wasn’t paying attention.

7:15am: I have distracted Mimi from her woes by allowing her to pick out her clothes for the day (which must always involve a dress.  Preferably a girly one.)  She insists on putting everything on herself.  I make the mistake of helping her guide the t-shirt over her head and am rewarded for my efforts to save time by her immediately taking it off so she can do the whole thing all over again by herself.  Having put on shirt, jumper, underpants, and under-shorts, she proceeds to dance around my bedroom for the next five minutes, watching how her skirt puffs out when she jumps, while I dress Dom.

7:20am: I am still trying to communicate to Dominic that what we are *trying* to do here is get his clothes on him.  His clothes.  These clothes.  Put them on.  Dom, your clothes.  DOM!  Through it all, Dom has kept up a running, sotto voce monologue about I have no idea what.  I think he was imagining that he was teaching Winnie the Pooh his letters, and voicing his half of the conversation to himself: “Yes, I know it does look like that… Well, okay, you can also do it this way.  ….Yes!  [insert funny, affected, grown-up type laugh.]”

7:31am: Mimi sits on my lap downstairs in the living room, playing with her bunny figurines while I brush and braid her hair.  Dom is lying on his stomach across the other armchair, completing Khan Academy exercises on the computer with one hand, which was the bribe I had to use to get him to actually focus on the dressing process.  Aunt Margaret comes downstairs.

7:32am: The children are playing “peacock” with Aunt Margaret (or, according to Mimi: “Dat peacock game where you twy to catch de pwetty peacocks but I JUMP away fwum you wiff my cweverness!”  So, yeah: basically Gotcha Monster.  But with imaginary peacocks.)  Lots and lots of hilarity and running back and forth and nearly knocking Aunt Margaret over every 30 seconds.  Mommy decides to make her coffee while the children are handily distracted.

7:37am: Coffee sits on the counter getting cold while I wrangle the children into the back of Daddy’s two-door convertible.  Wait, children, don’t get in yet, we have to switch the carseats around.  …Because Mimi doesn’t fit behind Daddy’s seat — she can’t get out without Daddy getting out of the car first.  Yes, I know it squishes your legs, sweetie — I’m sorry.  Why the frigfrigginfrig won’t this seatbelt pull through the carseat slot?!?  Alright, kiddos, go ahead and climb—– Honey, could you please just let your sister get in first?  Look, she’s a sobbing heap again.

7:40am: Kids are strapped in, Phillip begins to pull away with a hasty wave to Mommy (which will have to take the place of a “Good morning” and a kiss) when Mimi announces she cannot go to school without a bag of dry cereal to eat.  Oh yeah, Dom remembers he can’t go to school without this, too.  Mommy begins to get very firm with the children; Daddy suggests she just get them some cereal.  Mommy feels this is an affront to discipline and opens her mouth to object.  Has a painful contraction.  Decides not to die on this hill today.  Gets the cereal: “But I want to hear a ‘thank you!'” she yells at the retreating car.

There.  That took care of that parenting issue.  Time for some cold coffee and three hours of silence.





Notes from the day

  1. Dominic opened his computer this morning and tried to get past the login screen.  “I just type ‘Vincent Munoz,’ Mommy,” he said, waiting for me to come enter the password.

    The screen read, “visnt munoz”.

  2. I sat Mimi on my lap to zip up her new sweater this morning.  Suddenly, she stood up, turned around, threw her arms around my neck, and kissed my face.  She then repeated the whole sequence multiple times,interspersed with cuddles and giggles.  I died.
  3. During lunch this afternoon, Dominic displayed a growing tendency to play the role of bossy elder sibling/snitch.  Every time he saw Mimi sneak her little sock-covered toes up over the side of the table, (which she loves to do, but knows that it is verboten), Dominic slyly drew my attention to it by asking all fake-innocently, “What she doing with her foots, Mommy?”
  4. After a rough afternoon yesterday, I just couldn’t manage dinner (which, of course, I hadn’t planned out ahead of time) and asked the kids if they wanted pizza. (Phillip was away on a business trip, so — why not?)  Mimi immediately started chirping insistently, “Pee-zah!  pee-zah!” and didn’t stop until the pizza made its way through our door.

    Margaret and I got the kids in their chairs, then I reminded them we needed to say grace. Mimi was anxious to get things moving along.  As I stood near the table with my hands folded, she pointed imperiously at Daddy’s office chair and said, very clearly, “Sit. …Down.”  Her very first complete sentence was a command.

  5. While I was in my room getting dressed this morning, the kids played in Dominic’s bedroom, climbing over the rail alongside his mattress and tumbling onto the bed. Mostly, I heard giggles and happy chatter, but, judging from the periodic yelling, Mimi have not been doing things exactly the way Dominic wanted.Each time this happened, Mimi would run down the hall toward my room in tears, saying, “Yah-yeen! yah-yeen!”

    “Is Dominic yelling at you, sweetie?”


    She just needed it acknowledged that Dominic was being a pill.

  6. This afternoon, Mimi tried for a repeat of the tumbling game on Dominic’s bed.  She got a bit ahead of herself, though, and tumbled off the foot of the mattress as she was trying to step off, hitting her head against the wall.  In the midst of the wailing and head-holding, I heard three words repeated over and over:”Bump  …mah …hayd!”
  7. And finally — Dominic has started reading.  He has been able to sound out simple 3- and 4-letter words for a while now and loves spelling words with his foam letters or on his computer, but he hasn’t ever just grabbed a book and tried to read it.

    The other day, he pulled a Sandra Boynton book (of all things) out of the book basket, lay on the floor on his tummy, and began trying to sound out the words.  He didn’t have much success, since it wasn’t an early reader book, but I was so excited by the development that I did a frantic happy dance out of his line of sight and signaled to Margaret to record it.

    …in other news, I now have to get really serious about teaching him to read.  And to surround him with books that have words that make sense to young spellers.  (“Well, honey, usually ‘ough’ says ‘ow‘, but it can also say ‘off‘, and in THIS case…”)

    And who has time for that nonsense?

    Mommy and Dominic

Today’s “Favorite Things”

  1. Dominic’s word-garble of the day: “Mommy, is doze…snugar shap peas?”
  2. Mimi cuddling her big floppy rabbit (almost her own size) in my arms before bed, stroking his face, and periodically holding him up for me to kiss his nose:
    “Giss?  giss?”
  3. The fact that these children — usually at Mimi’s loud and urgent insistence — hold hands everywhere they go.  Always.
    Holding hands Holding hands
  4. This conversation with Dominic at bedtime.  After our allotted cuddle time on his bed, I leaned over to give him a goodnight kiss, and he pulled away with a grin.

    “Don’t I get a kiss tonight, buddy?”
    ‘No, but…I…I going to have a goatee soon.” (This is the reason he doesn’t like to give Daddy kisses — he doesn’t like the scratchy goatee.)
    “Oh, you’re going to grow a goatee?”
    “How old will you be when you have a goatee?”
    [Rubbing his chin and looking thoughtfully at the ceiling] “Um……8.”

  5. Mimi will promptly point to her brother when you ask her where Dominic is.  She definitely knows his name.  For some reason, though, she insists on calling him “Mimi.”  (This is a little disappointing, given that we thought we might be able to find a cute nickname for Dominic based on what Mimi started calling him.  So that’s clearly not going to work.)**

    When she has been lying awake in bed for more than an hour and has progressed from silence to quiet babbling to periodic yelling — without managing to produce either parent — we often hear her shift to: “Mimi!  MIMI!!”

  6. …and after calling for Dominic, she will generally begin calling for her babysitter, Miss Abby.  Also, at random times throughout the day, she will call for Miss Abby out of the blue — “Ah-bee?  Ah-bee?!” — and point to the front door, demanding to know when this rock star of a woman is about to make an appearance.  Heaven forbid we actually mention this girl’s name in front of her; the “Ah-bee?!?“s won’t stop for a full five minutes.

    ** – As for what Dominic calls himself, it’s generally “Donnymic.”  So — yes, it’s cute.  It’s just not that helpful as a nickname.

Nighttime regimen

Up until recently, Dominic had been sleeping with the light on in his room. (Yes, I know — horrible habit, but his light is on a dimmer and we always had it all the way down…  Hey –it kept him in bed all night long; it was worth it.)  But I recently became convinced that it was finally interfering with his sleep quality, and it was time to turn it off. He fought it less than I expected, but in my efforts to help him transition, I have unwittingly created a new ritual that must be followed EXACTLY. This is now how he goes to bed**:

a) After prayers, saying goodnight to Daddy and Aunt Margaret, and reading his *two* copies of an ABC book (naturally), I turn off his overhead light.

b) We go around the room and point out all the other little lights that stay on all night “to keep him company”. Between the the red light from his video monitor, the blinking yellow and green and blue lights from the internet router, and the “change filter” light on his air purifier, there’s a lot of pretty lights in there.

c) He sits on my lap, and demands that I tell him about the “cats and dogs and Gran and Grandpa. Mama, say.” So I begin: “Every night, the little dogs and their puppies curl up in their nice warm dens and fall asleep in the dark. And the cats and the kittens…” and on it goes through eight or so different species, all falling asleep happily in the dark. Then comes the litany of family members who are also dark-sleepers: Gran and Grandpa first, then all of his cousins, who each put on their pajamas and say their prayers and get kisses from their mamas and fall asleep in the dark.

d) Then I tell him about his guardian angel who is right there in the room with him, to keep him company and watch over him. At this point, Dominic sits bolt upright on my lap (seriously, every night, he does this), looks around the room, and with his palms turned up in a “where in the world?!” gesture, demands “‘eh go?” [“Where did he go?”] When I explain that he can’t see his angel but he’s still there, Dominic nods contentedly and leans back against me. Because, you know — that makes sense.

e) Then and ONLY then, may I sing him his lullaby and put him to bed. (But the light! It stays off!)

** – I should clarify: this is the new upstairs bedtime ritual.  Bedtime really begins with the downstairs ritual of pajamas and tooth-brushing and saying the rosary and kissing the icon of Mary that Aunt Amy gave us, and blowing out BOTH candles (because we can’t use only one, according to Dominic, even though the fact that we now have one candle on either end of the bookcase has led him to believe that we are *actually* praying to Mama’s mantle clock in the middle.)

Compare this with Mimi’s bedtime ritual:

Pajamas and lotion for her drool rash downstairs, then a bottle on Mommy’s lap in the rocking chair in the dark of her room.  Rock and rock with her head on my shoulder while I sing a lullaby, until Mimi picks her head up and points a chubby finger sternly towards her crib.  Then I pick her up, say a quick goodnight blessing, give her a kiss, and put her in her bed.  Walk out.  The end.

A test

There’s not much to see here.  Margaret suggested I post a picture of Mimi’s (…you know —  Mimi the 1st) blue glassware so we could use the URL from this post to do a Google image search…

You know what?  If we find out more info about these glasses, we’ll pass it along to those who care.  In the meantime, enjoy this photo of a lovely, sentiment-laden glass:


Things Mimi did today

1. Carefully attempt to fit her foot into any random container.  Balance with one foot by her ear for several seconds while the chosen receptacle is brought into alignment.

2. Break her fall with her face.  Bite into her lip.  Wail for several minutes, wiping blood all over her face, bib, hands, and Mommy’s sweater.  Eventually assent to being distracted by Mommy cooking oatmeal, but make whimpering noises every few minutes just to make sure no one forgets.  Give everyone lopsided smiles with her swollen upper lip to ensure that they take her side in every altercation with Dominic throughout the day.

3. Fit pacifier into Mommy’s mouth.  Not being entirely sure why the pacifier isn’t going in smoothly, mash it harder against Mommy’s face.  Figure it will go in eventually. When Mommy protests, giggle repeatedly.

4. Demand to be walked around the kitchen multiple times, holding onto Mommy’s fingers.  Fling legs out at the knees and plant feet slightly crooked.  Look adorable.

5. Attempt to elicit sound from every object in the house.  Pound on xylophone.  Shake all bottles.  Swipe bottle lid back and forth over wood floor.  Bang on dishwasher door.

6. Convince Mommy to throw you up into the air repeatedly.  Shriek with glee, pump arms and legs.  Climb up Mommy’s legs until she consents to doing it 20 times.

7. Cuddle all stuffed animals and baby dolls.  Give kisses, pat faces, bite noses.  Giggle.


Dominic broke down in tears over some minor catastrophe this morning, like not being able to find the F among his foam letters.  I convinced him to sit in my lap while he wailed and swiped at his gooey nose.  I was doing my best to talk him back to sanity and calm when I noticed Mimi had crawled over to him.  She pulled the paci out of her mouth and tried to insert it in his, then gave him one of her head-butt hugs and made kissy noises at him.

…apparently, though, she only has love to spare for him when he isn’t immediately threatening her claim on Mommy’s full affections.  After I finished my afternoon work at 5pm and came down to join the sitter and the kids, both immediately came up to me and wanted to be held.  After picking up Dominic, I asked the sitter to hand Madeleine to me so I could hold her in my other arm.  Dominic thought this was all very jolly and tried to give Mimi hugs.  Mimi responded by trying to hurl him out of my arms.  After I put Dominic down, she immediately threw both her arms around my neck, dug her toes into my stomach and threw all her body weight around my shoulders.  This is her baby sign language for “MINE.”


This baby.


She is intense and determined and curious and strong.  Dominic used to prefer to sit and watch the world, taking in as much as he could and listening to everything.  Madeleine wants to explore.  She wants to get the world in her hands and mush it all around to see what it’s made of.  Their behavior in the bathtub pretty well sums up their personalities: Dominic will sit complacently, calmly pouring water back and forth between his nesting cups, while Mimi, sitting 6 inches behind him, churns the water into a froth, shrieking and growling and yelling, until the water drips down from her eyebrows.


In the carrier, she insists on being carried facing outwards, leaving me with just a view of the back of her head.  I can gauge her moods, though, by watching the responses of the people we pass as we shop: usually, a quick double-take leading to a broad grin, as Mimi flaps her arms up and down in delight at the attention.  “Is she smiling at you?” I ask.  “Oooooohhhh yes,” they say.


Madeleine immediately stakes her claim on anything that sparks her interest with firm determination.  Shopping with her in the carrier at Michaels, she promptly grabbed out of my hands the plastic containers of beads I was looking at and violently shook them up and down (arms and legs flapping).  The shooka-shooka would continue until I picked up a new container, whereupon she would promptly toss hers on the floor and grab the new one.

She dives headfirst for the thing she wants, and folks holding her on their lap get a jolt of adrenaline when she suddenly vaults herself over backwards to see the world upside-down.  Trying to put a diaper on her is like diapering a squirrel — she immediately twists and rolls in every direction until she escapes and gets to her hands and knees, grabbing at the closest (and inevitably least baby-proofed) object in reach.  Rocking her to sleep has gotten much more complicated in the last few weeks, too, as she has begun peeling herself out of my arms to climb over the opposite arm of the chair.  She lays herself over the arm with her bottom uppermost and tries to grab the air blowing up from the air purifier on the floor next to us, as the long hair over her eyes stands up in the breeze.*


And, oh — does she want to move!  She squeals in frustration at her own inability to get from point A to point B with anything like efficiency.  In the last week, she has begun pulling herself across the floor with her elbows, “army-crawl” style, while pushing off from her big toes dug deep into the rug.  (Just the big toes.)  She knows this isn’t the fastest way, though, so she is dissatisfied.  She periodically gets up onto her hands and knees — or knees and elbows, or hands and knee (with the other leg extended above her in the air in a rather impressive yoga move) — but she can’t for the life of her figure out what to do next.  There follows some random lurching that leaves her drifting sideways or propelling herself backwards, to her very great annoyance.  (Which leads to a great deal of screeching.)**


She generally isn’t much into cuddling, unless she’s falling asleep or drinking her bottle, but she loves to play games.  She starts bouncing up and down and making little excited squawking sounds when she sees Dominic with his pacifier in his mouth; as soon as we bring her in close enough range, she lunges forward to yank it out by the ring.  (Dominic usually thinks this is funny, until Mimi pops the paci in her own mouth, quick as a flash.  That’s high treason.)  She loves to make him laugh; this morning at breakfast, she was making repeated swipes at my face with banana-and-avocado-covered hands, which made me yelp whenever she got too near.  Dominic found this side-splittingly funny, and Mimi would repeatedly pause to watch him with a little grin before swiping at me again.

She has just started dancing, too.  Dominic is currently listening (on repeat-repeat-repeat-repeat) to Elizabeth Mitchell’s You Are My Sunshine album (with special preference for “Sip sip” [Skip To My Lou], “one two, one two” [Ladybug Picnic], “C! C!” [Alphabet Song], and “Back” [Black Jack Baby].)  Mimi will be sitting on the rug, staring at the cd player on the ottoman, then suddenly start bouncing up and down to the music.  She seems to like the fast, energetic songs.  Go figure.

If you ask Dominic, “Who is Black Jack Baby?” he will happily say, “Wee-wee!”  Yes, indeed.

Black Jack Baby came running through the woods, 
And she sang so loud and gaily,
She made the hills around her ring
And she charmed the hearts of the ladies,
Charmed the hearts of all the ladies!

How old are you, my pretty little miss?
How old are you, my honey?
I don’t know but I’ve been told
I’ll be eight months this Sunday,
Be eight months this Sunday!


* (My other favorite bedtime antic: she now prefers to be rocked to sleep while holding two pacifiers.  Each will be popped into her mouth as the other is yanked out, over and over, around and around, until she finally tries to put both in her mouth at the same time.  I inevitably start to laugh; she looks up at me and giggles, then pops them out, grins at me, pops them both back in again, chews energetically, and giggles some more.  It doesn’t exactly help her fall asleep, but it is pretty stinking adorable.)

** Since writing that sentence, she has learned to crawl, but it’s still in the draft stages.  It involves lots of exaggerated hip-swinging and often incorporates a foot.  But it has made her far more mobile, and I’m suddenly rediscovering how non-baby-proofed the house is 6-8 inches above the ground.  …and also how dirty my floors are.

So tired.

How you know when your normally cuddly, draw-out-the-bedtime-routine-at-all-costs toddler is really, really ready to be in bed:

Mommy: [finishing his lullaby and beginning his nightly blessing] “May your guardian angel protect you…”

Dominic: “K.”

Mommy: “…your patron saints watch over you…”

Dominic: “K.”

Mommy: [still not getting the hint] “…may Almighty God bless you…”

Dominic: “K!”

Mommy: “..and the Blessed Mother keep you in–”

Dominic: “Okay! K. Can. Okay. Mmm-hmm.” [nodding]

Alright, fine, go to bed.