Monday, December 28, 2009


C = CHAOS. Total. Complete. Chaos.

H = HAPPINESS. Sheer happiness reflected on the faces of my two little boys and in Grandma's eyes whenever the boys gave her snuggles. And, HAIR. You see, my hubby absolutely loves it when my hair is short. I know. Weird, right? Turns out he's a neck man, so he loves it when my hair is really short and he can see my neck. Anyway, on the 24th, when he was working, I got all my hair chopped off as an early Christmas present for him. He loves it. I kinda hate it, and my 5 year old begged me to make it long again. But, my sweetie loves it, and it was his present, afterall. So, I get good wife points.

R = RUNNING. The endless, constant running of my two little boys. Running to the tree. Running down the hall. Running out to the kitchen. Running back down the hall. Running into the living room to launch themselves onto Grandma or Grandpa's lap. Running back down the hall....And, RUM. Rum and nutmeg in the eggnog. Rum in hubby's coke. Rum. Yeah. That works, too.

I = IMAGINING. Imagining how much calmer next Christmas will be, when we have a fully-functioning kitchen and a washer and dryer and are not battling water damage in the subfloor while trying to install new laminate with a house full of people over the holidays. SIGH.

S = SANTA, of course. The boys were SO excited about Santa this year. They drew the cutest pictures for him, and they were stoked that he ate the cookies and gave the carrots to his reindeer. Santa was a big, big hit this year.

T = TOY STORY. Spencer got a stuffed Buzz Lightyear and Foster got a stuffed Woody. These were, by far, the most loved and appreciated gifts of all. However, this Christmas, "T" must also stand for TABOO, as in the board game. Why? Because my Dad is one of the most reluctant game-players in the world, even though the rest of the family loves to play games. It's like pulling teeth to get him to play a card game or board game with any of us. But...A couple of glasses of wine, some pleading looks with big, sad, eyes, and he was in. And, we all had a blast. Even dear ol' Dad. I have proof. On videotape. He was laughing his head off, along with the rest of us. Great times!

M = MOMS. Mine, doing her best to take care of me. Me, doing my best to take care of everybody else. There's nothing like Mom love. Nothing. Fierce. Exhausting. All-consuming. Awesome.

A = ANN. OK, technically I saw my friend, Ann, the Sunday before Christmas. But, it was an awesome kick-off to Christmas week. Ann has known me forever. She knows more about me than anyone else, including my husband. We met at some outlet stores half-way between our homes to do a little last-minute Christmas shopping without our kids, and it was glorious. A wonderful day, capped off with huge hamburgers, a pitcher of beer, and, of course, a trip to Dairy Queen, just to make it complete. What a great day. It felt like a vacation. Truly.

S = SLEEP? No, didn't get much of that. SEX? Nope, perimenopause and too much wine took care of that little issue. I'm going to have to go with SHARING. Sharing what? Sharing precious and fleeting time with my family. Going to the park to feed ducks with Grandma and Grandpa on Christmas Eve day, then staying for another hour myself with the boys and building the world's coolest lean-to out of scavenged evergreen branches. (I'm not kidding. It was a truly awesome lean-to. People could live in there. I should get some kind of merit badge or something...) Sharing laughter with my sweetie, as we awoke on Christmas morning, not to the sounds of our boys shouting with glee that Santa had visited and begging us to get up to open presents, but to the sounds of our boys ripping paper like crazy as they just dug right in to their stockings without even bothering to wake us up first. Sharing a delicious Christmas meal with my parents, my hubby, and my little guys, cooked and eaten in a kitchen that could only be described as a disaster area, but not even caring, because we were all having such a good time just being together. Just sharing. All of it. The good, the bad, the ugly. Everything is better when it's shared with people you love, eh?

Another great Christmas. And now, on to a whole new year... Cheers!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

At this rate, I should be 15 pounds thinner by New Year's!

If you want to lose weight, "they" say you should eat six small meals a day, right? Awesome! I am SO on track to lose major weight this holiday, because I am totally on track with the six small meals thing. So far, today, I've had:

Meal #1: Coffee, 3 Christmas cookies
Meal #2: Second cup of coffee, half-glass of milk, 2 more Christmas cookies
Meal #3: Bag of Sun Chips and a Diet Coke
Meal #4: Two satsumas, 3 pieces of salt water taffy
Meal #5: One piece of Costco pizza, another Diet Coke

Only one more small meal to go, today. I'm thinking a few bites of the kids' leftover mac & cheese, a couple more Christmas cookies, and a glass of wine. I'm gonna get so skinny!!!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Well, this should all make Christmas dinner much more interesting...

Kitchen update: (For anyone who cares -- Kami, this means you, and thank you for asking, dear blogging friend -- and for the future, when my sweetie and I will look back on this particularly chaotic Christmas holiday and chuckle at the memory...Doesn't seem possible right now, but I'm sure the day is coming...)

OK, here's the summary:

Mold and water damage? Still there. Waiting. Lurking. Seemingly getting worse and worse every time I look at it. Oh, and did I mention we found another spot by the back door? Merry Christmas to us! This is truly the gift that just keeps on giving...

Washer and dryer? Still temporarily living in our bedroom. It's really adding to a sexy atmosphere, let me tell you. And, of course, they are no use at all, because we don't have the right outlet or a washer hook-up in our bedroom. Not something you ever think you're going to need right next to your bed, eh?

Stove? Right next to the washer and dryer. We've been eating peanut butter and jelly, cheerios, Top Ramen, hot dogs, and other microwaveable crap for a week-and-a-half. And, man, those cheap TV dinners haven't gotten any better since I was a single gal living in New York City. Blech! Oh, and did I mention that we're still supposed to be putting on some sort of Christmas dinner for my folks and the in-laws? Hmmmm....

Refrigerator and dining room table? Snuggled up next to our couches and Christmas tree in our itty bitty little living room. A nice, tight fit. Just more opportunity for family bonding, right?

Homeowner's Insurance People? Calling tomorrow to set up an appointment to assess the problem. We decided this was too much for our limited skill set. Ripping out another wall? We could do that. Ripping out an entire bathtub and shower to get at the leak, fixing the leak, and then somehow repairing the subfloor and all the rest of the damaged wood? A bit much, even for two intrepidly optimistic and fearless homeowners like us.

Bank account? Pitiful. College fund? What college fund? The boys can get scholarships and student loans like we did, right? As for retirement? Who needs it? We'd probably just be bored out of our minds. We'll just work until we die. In this house.

The good news? My parents (bless their hearts) decided to stay in a motel while they're visiting for the holiday. I would never have asked them to do it, but, I have to admit that I am seriously relieved. It'll be so much easier, and we don't have to try to find an alternate location for all the stuff that's stacked in the guest room right now OR borrow our neighbor's washer and dryer to do the sheets and towels. Also, they get a continental breakfast at their motel, so that's one meal per day I don't have to worry about. (Maybe they can snag us some extra fruit and pastries...) Anyway, thanks, Mom and Dad, for understanding so well what I needed, but would never ask for, myself. I love you!

The plan? Get as much new plywood down as possible, avoiding the water damaged areas, so we can at least move the kitchen table back in, and maybe get the stove back in as well. I have to face that we'll be without a washer and dryer until the water damage can be taken care of, but I have lovely friends who have offered to let me come over with my dirty laundry. And, it's not like I'm a stranger to the laundromat....I've just never done it with two little terrors (I mean "sweeties") in tow, y'know? Could be disastrous. Who am I kidding? It will be disastrous. I know my boys...

So, there you have it. The chaos continues... But, someday, some wonderful, joyous, beautiful day in the future, I will have a pretty little kitchen, with a nice, new floor. And, as a good friend pointed out to me in her usual, no-nonsense, "things could always be worse" style, at least we found the water damage when we did. The way our luck's been going the last couple of years, I'm surprised the washer and dryer didn't just crash right through the floor into our crawl space. So, it's all for the best.

Happy holidays, everyone. Here's wishing you a healthy family, good times with loved ones, and freedom from water damage, mold, and other household disasters! Cheers!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Why is it that, the very week you lose the use of your washer and dryer, is the very same week that:

a) You take a corner too fast in the minivan, (because you're running late -- again -- and have only 6 1/2 minutes to get from your youngest son's daycare, all the way across town to work) and spill your coffee all over your last clean pair of work pants.

b) Your 4-year-old gets so excited playing PBS kids on the computer that he forgets to pee until it's too late, resulting in a total saturation of shirt, pants, socks, and hubby's computer chair.

c) You try to pull the cork out of the open bottle of red wine your father-in-law insisted you take home with you after your last visit, and it won't come out. So, because you really, really, really want that glass of wine, you decide to use your teeth to pull it out. Of course, with one huge yank, the cork does come out, but the open bottle of wine jerks backwards, splashing your hair, your face, your shirt, your favorite pair of flannel Christmas pajamas, and your white socks with waves of dark red liquid.

d) Your hubby decides to use the good, white, washcloths to clean up the dirt and grime he found inside the faucet when he took it apart. Rags, honey? Remember the cleaning rags in the closet? I make them out of the disgusting, yellow-armpit-stained t-shirts you discard? Remember them? Huh?

e) Hubby (so often, it's the hubby, isn' it?) gives the boys a bath but leaves the bath rug on the floor, then lets our two rain-soaked dogs in from the back yard. Where do they decide to go with their huge muddy paws? To the nice, soft, clean, white bath mat, of course. (Now, in his defense, it's absolutely idiotic of us to even own anything white. I mean, really. White? What are we thinking?)

f) Chocolate milk. One 4-year old boy. His 5-year old brother. An argument. Need I say more?


Well, since I'm sitting here writing this in my red-wine soaked shirt and pajamas (why risk putting on something clean, afterall?), I may as well refill my glass, kick back on the couch, and exercise my remote-control thumb. Why not? The kids are in bed. The day is winding down. And, it's not like I can do laundry!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'll look back on this some day and laugh, right?

The kitchen makeover continues... Whatever possessed us to think that we could: a) Tear down a big piece of a weight-bearing wall to expand our kitchen, b) put in new flooring, c) do all of the work ourselves without killing one another, d) do all of this without breaking the bank, and d) complete it all by Christmas? I mean, seriously. What the hell were we thinking? Well, for starters, we began this whole project a couple of months ago, full of starry-eyed optimism. (For a little more on the genesis of this whole insane idea, see "OK, the wall is gone. Now what?" ). A couple of months ago, this all seemed possible. In fact, we naively thought we'd have it done by Thanksgiving. Ho ho ho... A couple of months ago, we were still looking at one another and sharing giggles and little jokes about it all, as we labored side-by-side. A couple of months ago, we at least had a functioning (albeit, not attractive) kitchen in which to prepare and eat our meals. A couple of months ago, we thought we had enough money in the bank to cover it all. Ahhhh, such wide-eyed innocence...

All that joy, optimism, and hope was before we discovered that the previous owners of our house used a nail gun with unbridled enthusiasm and added in lots of sticky tar-like glue, just to make sure it was physically impossible to simply tear up the top couple of layers of old flooring to put down the new stuff. And, because there are multiple layers and the current flooring is so torn and warped and nasty that we can't just put the new stuff over the top, we found ourselves having to saw down to the original sub-floor -- a process which resulted in a fine layer of sawdust covering every single surface in the kitchen and living room. Then, after sawing the floor into a giant grid of squares, we had to pry them up with crowbars and hammers and lug each heavy, nail-covered square of flooring out to the truck. In the rain and snow, no less. I'm not kidding! Fun, fun, fun!!! I still can't put my poor, bruised palms down on anything without wincing, and I'm pretty sure my right wrist will never regain full range of motion.

Now, in the process of ripping up this extensive amount of flooring, we discovered...MOLD! A big, sloppy area of moldy water damage. Where is it coming from? Unknown. It seems to be coming from the shower in the bathroom...As I write this, my poor hubby is doing his best to get to the bottom of this new discovery. SIGH.

So, here we are, with only ten days to go until Christmas Eve. We have no functioning stove, washer, or dryer, as they are currently shoved into a corner of our bedroom, because we have no room in our garage. The kitchen table and chairs, along with the refrigerator, are smushed into our tiny little living room, right alongside the couches and our Christmas tree. Let me tell you, meal times are an exercise in comic craziness right now. So is getting the kids ready for school, myself ready for work, and all of us out the door in the morning. We're elbow-to-elbow, hip-to-hip, shimmying around each other to reach the things we need, with the dogs winding themselves around our legs and generally adding to the insanity, while the boys do their best to poke, prod, and antagonize one another.

Truthfully, it's been pretty funny, overall. There's definitely been more laughing than anything else during all of this craziness. John and I still love each other. The kids are managing all of this without too many meltdowns. We're still finding humor in it all. Still, Christmas is next week, my parents are arriving on Christmas Eve Day, we're supposed to be throwing a big dinner for the whole group plus the in-laws, and we have no stove, no living space to move around in, no place for everybody to sleep, because the guest room is packed with everything else we had to remove from the kitchen, and pretty much total chaos in every other room of the house. Oh, and did I mention that my parents are bringing their dog, Sam, along for Christmas as well? So, four adults, two rambunctious little boys, and three big dogs all packed together under these unique circumstances? Sounds like a recipe for disaster... It could be like that famous old science experiment where they cram all the rats together in a much-too-small living space, and they all start to eat each other. But, hey, then I wouldn't need to cook Christmas dinner! Now, there's a silver lining for you...

Anyway, I'll let you know how it all turns out after Christmas... If I'm still sane enough to tell the tale, that is. Happy holidays and a healthy, peaceful, joyful new year to us all!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Santa Claus: A Mom's Best Friend!

There are many, many reasons I love this time of year. There are the twinkling Christmas lights. Eggnog (with a healthy dose of Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum). Christmas cookies. Christmas carols. That lightness of spirit that seems to take over so many people and makes them just a little bit kinder, a little less selfish, and a little more optimistic (except on Black Friday, that is, when the opposite seems to be true.) There are fun times with family and friends. Exchanging laughter and gifts and hugs. Oh, so many reasons to love the season...

Then, there's the joy of saying these particular words: "Do you want Santa Claus to put you on the Naughty List? No? Then make a different choice, boys." Works like magic!

Ya gotta love Christmas!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Police Mommy Da!

In order to fully appreciate this, you have to "sing" it in your head, to the tune of "Feliz Navidad" and imagine it being sung over and over (and over) again by a 4-year old boy in the throes of a whipped cream sugar high.

Cue the music...

Police Mommy Da!
Police Mommy Da!
Police Mommy Da, popeepo mumble mumble la di da!
Police Mommy Da!
Police Mommy Da!
Police Mommy Da, popeepo mumble mumble la di da!

I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas. I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas. I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart. I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas. I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas. I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart.

Police Mommy Da!
Police Mommy Da!
Police Mommy Da, popeepo mumble mumble la di da!
Police Mommy Da!
Police Mommy Da!
Police Mommy Da, popeepo mumble mumble la di da!

Here's hoping you're having an entertaining start to your holiday season, too.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'd like a little pie with my whipped cream, please.

I love whipped cream. Love, love, LOVE it!! Not the real stuff, either. None of that homemade whipped cream or even cool whip in a plastic tub. I love the stuff that comes in the metal canister, so you can squirt it onto your finger or, even better, directly into your mouth! Is there anything better than a mouth completely full of whipped cream? Ahhhhh...

Just thinking about this fills me with joy. Why? Because Thanksgiving means pumpkin pie. And pumpkin pie means...whipped cream! Woohoo! My family teases me relentlessly about my adoration of whipped cream, but I don't care. It makes me happy. And, hey, when life is making you nuts, you hold onto the little things that bring you joy, right?

So, with that in mind...I'm off to fill my mouth (and my happy little boys' mouths) with whipped cream right now. (I bought an extra one for this very purpose. heh, heh.) Happy holidays!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Yep. My kid has become "THAT" kid!

You know how you go to playgrounds sometimes, and there's always a kid who's just starting trouble left and right? Pushing the other kids in line at the slide. Throwing that stupid beauty bark they have at all the playgrounds at other kids when he thinks nobody's looking. Sticking his tongue out at all the girls. Whispering "You poopy-head!" at the kid in front of him at the monkey bars. Just generally causing mayhem wherever he goes, while his frazzled Mom is constantly putting him in time-out, redirecting, having him apologize to the kids around him every few minutes...You know that kid? And you know that satisfying, sort of self-righteous feeling you get, as you think to yourself, "I'm so glad that's not MY kid. I'm a much better mother than that kid's Mom for sure!" Well, if you find yourself thinking that, you might want to tell yourself to zip it, 'cuz it can still happen to you! How do I know this? Because I'm living it. Oh, yes. Living. It. SIGH.

What happened to my sweet little youngest boy? The boy who lavished all of his family members with hugs and kisses whenever he could? The boy who could hardly stand it when his big brother got hurt, so he'd come over and pat him and pet his head and try to make him laugh? The boy who shared all his toys? He morphed into something...different. He still gives hugs and kisses, but he's just as likely to yell "NO!!!" or "I don't like you!" or "You stinky poo!" (Where that one came from, I'll never know!) and run in the opposite direction. He'll offer comfort to his big brother if he's hurt, but two minutes later, he'll start poking him in the neck. As for sharing toys...Are you kidding me? Not. Gonna. Happen. (Although, I will say that he's the first one to share his treats. Candy, cookies, ice cream, chips...he's really generous that way. Gotta give him some props on that one.)

Then, there's his daycare/preschool situation... I hate picking him up. Truly. Loathe it.

Here's what it sounded like last year when I would pick him up after work:

Me: "How did things go today?"
Teacher (with big smile on her face): "Oh, Foster was so cute today. Wait until you see the art project he did. He even drew a picture for one of his friends. And he did a great job at clean-up time. He was a joy to have in class today."

Here's what it sounds like when I pick him up now:

Me (cringing in readiness of what's to come): "How did things go today?"
Teacher: "Well, Foster had another (pause) challenging day today." (Heavy sigh and shake of the head.) "He poked Suzie in the nose with a flashhlight, and he wouldn't follow directions at the lunch table." (Another heavy sigh.) "Then, he pushed in front of another kid in line, and he wouldn't share the tire swing out at recess. Oh, and he called Steven a "Doo doo head."

Me (pathetically): "Did he do anything well today?"
Teacher: "Hmmmm.....Let me think......Um....Well.....He did paint a nice picture when we made him go over to the art center to be away from the other kids....Hmmmm....Oh, and he was good at story time, too. Well, except when he pushed Thomas out of the way and took his spot. Tsk, tsk."

And, here's the thing... It's not like my hubby and I are ignoring the problem and not doing our absolute best to provide consequences for the choices he makes. Our other son sailed effortlessly through his daycare/preschool days and his teacher thinks he's great, and he had the exact same parents. We're consistent. We give him time-outs and redirection and we practice role playing and problem-solving to teach him how to make different choices. We give him positive reinforcement when he's making good choices -- Sticker charts to earn trips to the dollar store or McDonalds, hugs and kisses and attention for the good stuff, extra stories at bedtime...You name it, we've tried it! We've read books about parenting strong-willed children and talked to our friends and sat up late at night strategizing. We obsessively control everything he sees on TV, so he's not being exposed to anything other than PBS kids and Disney movies. So, come on! What's the deal here?

Bottom line? Nothing is as reinforcing as the reactions he gets from the kids he's bugging, or the other ones standing around watching. Nothing. No punishment. No reward. He pushes buttons, and he gets a big, fat, reaction every single time. And, that makes it fun. He even likes to be the bad guy when he's playing make-believe with his brother or his buddies. I asked him why he likes to be the bad guy instead of the good guy, and he said, "'Cuz bad guys get to do lots of fun stuff!" And, he's only four...

Somebody please, please, please tell me this is just a stage. I'm going to go pour a glass of wine...


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When Chaos Reigns Supreme

My life is chaos. Of course, it's always chaos, but it's a bit more than I'm used to these days. (Disclaimer: I have a feeling this post is going to be a bit of a downer, so please skip it, if you're in the mood for the usual giggles. It also might be my last for a while, until I can get a handle on life's craziness.)

I was handling things pretty darn well for a while, if I do say so myself: The do-it-yourself kitchen project that has stalled (Week #5 and counting...), resulting in a house that is filled with peeling laminate flooring, piles of tools, dry wall dust, paint cans, and NO COUNTER SPACE! I'm doing OK with that part of things, overall. I mean, eventually I'll have a kitchen again, right? True, I had to cancel Thanksgiving at our house, but this project is sure to be finished by our annual Christmas party, right? Right?!! (Somebody, please just tell me it'll be done by then. Anybody?)

Then, there are a couple of good friends who are facing some very tough times and need extra support and love. It's my pleasure and privilege to offer it, and I do so with no regrets. But, there's definitely some secondary trauma that goes along with loving someone who is suffering, eh? Shoot, even if you don't know the person who's suffering. We all get secondary trauma just from turning on the news. Tragedies and atrocities abound! No doubt about it, it can wear on your soul...

Add to this mix, the very recent letter from my hubby's employer, just letting us know that he, along with many others, is on the chopping block for possible layoffs next year. (This would be the second layoff for us in two years. My poor husband. My poor family.) How do I handle this particular news? One word: Insomnia. Just like last time. Oh, and wine.

Then there's the meeting last week, during which I, along with all of my fellow middle school counselors, was told that my position is at risk for the next set of educational budget cuts. I've never been busier helping my students, their families, and my staff handle the ups and downs of this crazy life, try to find some academic and emotional success, and keep a little forward momentum. Never! But, everyone's dispensable when money's on the line, eh? (At least we'll have a nice kitchen, if we have to sell the house and move in with my parents. That is, if we ever finish the kitchen. SIGH.)

But, the hits just keep on coming. One week ago, one of our middle schools burned down. No one was hurt. It happened in the middle of the night. But, it's a devastating loss. Around 600 students and staff lost their building, their supplies, their entire school community. I worked there for six years before being transferred to my current location, and I am grieving right along with them. I drove to the building the afternoon it happened, and I stood in the drizzle and cried as I watched the firefighters still struggling to drown the burning embers. I felt helpless. I felt sad. I felt angry. But now, I have the opportunity to support their school community in a very tangible way: My school is welcoming almost 200 displaced seventh graders, and their teachers, into our building. I'm proud and happy that we are doing this, and I'm so impressed with the empathy and generosity that my students and staff have demonstrated all week, as plans were being discussed adapted, changed again (and again, and again...), and finalized. But, the reality is that it is an overwhelming endeavor to make room for that many extra students and staff, to find a way to build a sense of a new school community, to put out all of the little fires involved in such a huge transition, and, as a counselor, to help my students and my own staff cope with the changes and the sacrifices, while also providing the necessary support to the staff and students who have suffered such a profound loss. I've worked so much overtime that I've barely had any quality time with my own family over the last week. And, it's getting to me. I'm tired. I'm on edge. I'm nervous about how things are going to go when the new kids show up for their first day with us tomorrow. Will the orientation I've put together be enough to support them on this incredibly important first day? Will the efforts we've all made, from making posters to writing letters, be enough to make them realize they are safe and wanted and in good hands? I'm stressed out and spread too thin, helping with the planning and organizational pieces, while juggling the emotional needs of my own students, as well as two struggling staffs, and handling my own complex emotions at the same time. I miss my husband and kids. I've been with them, yet not really with them, y'know? I'm empty, and I need to refill, somehow. Is the weekend really only 3 days away?

Kitchen disaster. Friends grieving. Layoffs looming. Work madness...Chaos reigns supreme!

But...My family is healthy. My hubby and sons love me. My job fulfills me, even when it exhausts me. I have wonderful parents, who are there for me in every way that counts. I have friends who support me and are always ready to make me laugh or to let me cry. So, in spite of the chaos, life is good. Challenging, but good. And so, I go on... (But, I might not blog for a while. I really, really, really need to sleep sometime.)


Saturday, November 7, 2009

That's it! I'm on strike for the day. I'm not kidding, either!

I love my kids. I love my husband. I love my dogs. I even love my tiny little house (in spite of the fact that our kitchen project is about to enter the 5th week, with no end in sight: See "OK, the wall is gone. Now what?" if you want more info. on that particular debacle.) But, I'm done. Today, I'm done. I am tired of feeling like a housekeeper/cook/cleaner/laundress every second of the day that I'm not at my other job. I feel sucked dry and under-appreciated, and I'm, honestly, just done with the whole thing. Now, I actually can't really be "done", because John is working, like he does every Saturday, which means I'm still the Parent-In-Charge. (When is the Mommy not the Parent-In-Charge, really?) I don't have family in town who can come and bail me out for a break, and my girlfriends spend Saturdays with their hubbies and significant others, so it's just me. SIGH. Anyway, I can't just shrug off the yoke of Motherhood today and do nothing. I still have to actually take care of the little guys. However, I plan on staying in my pajamas all day. Yes, all day. I will take my boys to the playground if it ever stops raining, but I'm keeping the pj's on. I'll put a sweatshirt over the top, but I'm not. taking. the. pajamas. off. Not today! And laundry? Oh yes, I have laundry coming out of my ears. Not gonna do it. Nope. I am declaring today a laundry-free day. After all, it'll still be there tomorrow. (And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that...) As for feeding my children....Of course I'm still going to feed them, but we're having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, which they are going to help me make, and we're having frozen waffles and applesauce for dinner. I'm not going to defrost anything, cook anything, slave over anything. And, I'm not doing the dishes. I'll stack them neatly in the sink, but they're not getting washed. Not by me. Not today. And, what, you may ask, are my kids doing while I'm blogging right now? Watching TV. And they just might do that a lot today. 'Cuz Mommy's on strike. So there!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You may as well just shoot me now. Seriously. Just shoot me.

I love Halloween. I really do love it. I love dressing up my boys. I love dressing up myself and peer-pressuring my husband into dressing up as well. I love going to the pumpkin patch and carving Jack-O-Lanterns. I love making decorations and telling scary stories. I love the general chaos and craziness of it all. And, I really love the fact that people willingly spend their own money to buy candy and then hand it out freely to anybody who shows up at their door. It's pretty cool, when you think about it, eh? Halloween is great. Except...

Last summer, I found out that I'm allergic to chocolate. Just let that sink in for a second, OK? I'm allergic. To chocolate. By the way, being allergic to it doesn't mean I don't love it, think about it, dream about it, and absolutely long for it at times. I still do. It just so happens that when I actually eat it, I get a horrible headache, my face gets red and hot, and I tend to vomit. But, ahhhhh.....the taste. Ahhhhh....the texture. Ahhhhhh....the smell. There's nothing like chocolate. And, as much as I love Halloween, I now find myself completely surrounded by chocolate. My little boys have bags bulging with it. This year, it seems like every single house we visited was handing out chocolate. Not just any chocolate either. The good stuff. M&M's. Three Musketeers. Reeses Peanut Butter Cups!!! Oh. My. God. It's torture. Complete torture. I'm in agony. Whatever happened to handing out Sweet Tarts? Dum dums? Jolly Ranchers? Starbursts? Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum? What's with all the chocolate?!!! Don't these people know what they're doing to me?!!!

So, someone please put me out of my misery. I'm begging you. Just shoot me now...

At least I can still drink wine. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No WONDER they scream and pull their ears!

Hey there. I haven't written in a while. Why, you ask? Could it be because the kitchen project we optimistically started two weekends ago has taken over our entire lives and turned our little house into a national disaster area? Is it because my job has sucked me completely dry, and I can barely muster the energy to channel surf, let alone get on the computer and write at the end of the day, even if I was sharp enough to think of something interesting to say? Or, did the nonstop energy of my two little boys finally drive me into a temporary coma? None of the above, although all three are basically true. No, the reason I haven't written is because, for the first time in my life (or, at least, the first time I remember), I had an ear infection.

If you've ever had an ear infection, you are nodding your head up and down vigorously in empathy, and your eyes are watering at the very memory of the excrutiating pain you experienced. Yes, there is a reason our little ones with ear infections cry nonstop, cannot be soothed by any of the usual means, won't eat, can't sleep, and do everything they can to claw their ears right off of their heads. Ear infections hurt like you wouldn't believe! I seriously thought my head was going to burst open on one side, sending the offending ear flying across the room and spilling brains all over my living room carpet. It was so, so bad. Like labor, but in your ear. So, on Saturday afternoon, as I lay curled up in the fetal position on the couch, my hands grasping my head in an attempt to keep it from flying apart, moaning, my loving husband said, "Honey, we'd better take you to the emergency room." I looked up at him from between my fingers, tears pouring down my face, and sobbed, "Are you crazy?!!! We are NOT going to the emergency room! It's a seventy five dollar co-pay. I can wait until Monday!" Did the love of my life accept my answer? Not quite. He found a walk-in clinic that was still open, put me in the car, and drove me there. Then, in order to spare me the ordeal of trying to keep it together in front of my worried little boys -- a battle I was clearly losing, anyway -- he told me to call his cell when I was done, and he took Spencer and Foster to the playground to burn off some energy. My hero!

Luckily for me, the clinic wasn't packed full of people wondering if their cough was actually the Swine Flu. In fact, I was the only patient, so they got me in pretty quickly. The lovely young doctor, who looked like she could've been one of my middle school students only a couple of years ago, took out the thingie doctors use to check your ears and took a look. As I tried to avoid actually piercing through the denim of my jeans with my fingernails at the intense pain this caused, she clucked her tongue and said, "Oh, honey. We're going to get you some vicodin right away." As it turns out, I didn't technically have an ear "infection", although she said the symptoms are the same. No, I have something called an ear "effusion", which means that, instead of my inner ear being packed full of pus, it's packed full of mucous (Gross, huh?), causing my ear drum to bulge out, resulting in tremendous pain in the ear, as well as the head, jaw, and neck. The treatment? Decongestants, pain management (Thank you, vicodin!), and time. So, I got to spend the rest of the weekend hopped up on pain meds, semi-conscious, just waiting for things to get better. It's taken five days, but I'm finally starting to feel more like myself. I couldn't take the pain pills at work, of course (A school counselor on narcotics? Not such a great idea.), so it's been a long, long haul this week. And, it's only Wednesday...

What's the lesson in all of this? Well, my advice would be this: If your pediatrician tells you your children have ear infections -- give those little ones anything they need or want to feel better. Lavish them with love and affection. Take them to the dollar store and let them pick out five things that will make them smile. Let them eat nothing but their favorite foods, even if that means ice cream three times a day. Jump through any hoop to take their minds off of the pain. Because the poor little kids are in agony. Truly. I've been there... Cheers!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

And clench, and squeeze, and turn, and clench, and squeeze, and brake...

If it wasn't for my car exercises, I'd weigh 400 pounds. I'm not kidding. In this economy, a gym membership is out of the question, even if I could find affordable childcare, so I could actually squeeze in a workout somewhere between the mad dash to and from Spencer's bus stop, the mad dash to and from Foster's preschool, the mad dash to and from work, and the constant mad dash around the house and around town after work to do laundry, cleaning, grocery-shopping, bill-paying, doctor appointments, dog poop patrol, and everything else that goes into keeping a family together these days! Whew! Now, with that said, there are plenty of hard-working Moms who manage to do yoga in their living rooms, or throw the kiddos into a jogging stroller and hit the sidewalk for a workout. So, I realize that there are probably creative ways I could carve out a little time to work on shrinking the size of certain body parts. But, the truth is, by the time the kids are snoozing, and I'm done with everything that has to be done in a typical day, I'm completely exhausted. All I want to do is collapse on the couch with the remote control and a glass of wine and kill brain cells watching mindless T.V. until hubby comes home. And, while there are many women who are willing to eat nothing but carrots and cottage cheese to stay skinny...I'm not one of them. I don't want to live in a world without red wine and big, heaping helpings of pasta. Not worth it.

Thus, "Beth's Car Workout" was born. What is it? Well, it basically consists of almost constant butt squeezes and tummy suck-ins (Suck-ins? You know what I mean!) as I cruise all around town. (And, when I hit a red light, it's Kegel time! Gotta keep those other muscles fit, eh? Too much information? Too bad. We should all be doing them for our health, anyway, and a red light is a perfect place to get in a few squeezes...) Then, when the kids aren't in the car with me -- and sometimes, when they are, but they're driving me nuts and I need to tune them out -- I add in some loud music accompanied by laughable dance moves behind the wheel. Oh, yes. I am THAT woman! The one you pull up next to and see boogying in the car seat and singing at the top of her lungs. I'm not even embarrassed by it anymore. If I catch someone staring, I just give 'em a huge smile and keep. on. boogying. Screw 'em if they think I'm crazy. That craziness is what's keeping me from going up another pant size. (Unfortunately, it's not enough to keep me in the pant size I'd like to be in...heh, heh.)

So, the next time you pull up next to a crazed woman, dancing behind the wheel of the car...give her a wave and a big grin. She's probably just doing the best she can to get in a workout!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Everything's better with a little horse slobber!

Fall is my favorite season. No contest. The other seasons don't stand a chance with me. I love the way Fall smells, the way it looks (all those gorgeous leaves), the crispness in the air... I love breaking out the turtlenecks and scarves and sweaters for the season... I love spiking my hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and snuggling with my sweetie to watch football... I love that Fall means making great family memories on Halloween and Thanksgiving, and the anticipation of Christmas on the way... I love it all. And one of the things I love the most is Family Farm Day. What is it? It's actually a weekend in October, when farms throughout the county basically throw a giant open house for the public. They have free samples of their goods (as well as lots and lots of stuff you can buy, of course), activities for the kids, tours, mazes, hay rides, etc... Every year, I get online and print out the map of the farms. Then, in my completely anal retentive way, I figure out the exact, best route we can take to maximize our Family Farm experience. (My hubby just rolls his eyes and goes along with whatever I decide.) There are two absolute musts on our Family Farm Day. We must visit the Double O ranch, which is the farthest away, in the most beautiful location imaginable, because they have the absolute best hayride AND they have horses, and we must visit the Dairy Farm, because they give out free chocolate milk and ice cream bars. But, with around 16 farms to choose from, there are lots of other places to visit as well.

This year, Family Farm Day was the best one ever! Why? Because everything's better with a little horse slobber thrown in, don't you think? You see, I am a horse freak. I was the 12-year-old girl taking horseback riding lessons, Breyer horses lining every shelf and horse posters covering every space on the wall (except for the one space that was taken up by a poster of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, with the hat, and the leather jacket, and the whip...sigh), dreaming of the day I would be riding bareback across the field of my very own ranch...aaaaah. Life turned out a bit different than I had planned, eh? Anyway, I still have four big boxes of Breyer horses sitting in my closet, because I just can't bring myself to part with them. I don't dare pass them on to my little guys, because the horses wouldn't stand a chance. I can just see those delicate legs breaking one by one as my boys stage a raging stampede across the backyard...It makes me shudder, just thinking about it.

Sooooo...back to my story. We got to the Double O ranch, which, in many ways, is the ranch of my fantasies. Every time we've visited, their horses are somewhere off in the distance - beautiful and untouchable. Not this time. Oh, no. This time, one of their horses was right up by the fence and looking for love. We were waiting for the hayride, when I saw her up ahead, and I was gone in a heartbeat, heading for the fence. Kids? What kids? Oh, they'll be fine with Daddy. There's a horse that needs my attention! Oh, it was heaven for me. She wanted to be scratched and rubbed and fed grass. She nickered and pushed me with her head and licked the salt off of my palms. It was glorious! John snapped my picture with a huge grin on his face. He said it was just about the perfect image of me, because it captured a moment of total, complete, happiness.

Finally, the mare took off for the other side of the field. SIGH. We had missed the hayride,(sorry, boys) so we wandered over to check out the barn before the next ride, and...OMG!...not one, but two, Clydesdale mares were tied up in the barn, just waiting for me to shower them with love and affection!!! I couldn't believe my eyes. So, abandoning my family once more, I headed straight for the horses, threw my arms around their necks and inhaled their wonderful horsey smell...I scratched behind their ears and rubbed underneath their chins...I could have stayed there all day, sandwiched in between those two horses, just loving life. John practically had to drag me out of the barn by my hair to get me to come along on the hayride. And, here's where the slobber part comes in. I plunked myself down on the hay bales, grinning from ear-to-ear, when John suddenly pointed and said, "Ewwww...what is that on your scarf?" It was horse slobber. A big, wet spot of Clydesdale slobber all over my scarf. Giggle. The icing on the cake! What a Family Farm Day! I can hardly wait until next year... Cheers!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'd like to nominate myself for the "Just Doing the Best I Can Right Now, So Deal With It" award, please.

Now, I have never (and will never) describe myself as a Super Mom, Domestic Goddess, Earth Mother, or any other title that would somehow indicate:
a) That I know what the heck I'm doing most of the time,
b) That I am particularly talented at any aspect of mothering or housekeeping (with the exception of tickle fighting, at which I truly excel), OR
c) That anyone who knows me would ever use my name in the same sentence as Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray, unless it was to laughingly point out the differences between us.

With that said, I do make valiant attempts to assure that my little boys are happy, healthy, confident, polite (OK, OK, still working on that one!), bold, curious, relatively clean, friendly little guys, who know that they are loved beyond measure, even when they're pushing every single one of my buttons. For hours. And hours. And hours... Most of the time, I think I pull it off fairly well. Occasionally, I even manage to do that and clean the house and take a shower. But, there are days when I just can't do it anymore. You know what I'm talking about? Those days where something at work is so stressful that it's giving you high blood pressure and nightmares, or your significant other says something incredibly insensitive at the worst possible time of the month, or you are just so overwhelmed by the number of balls you are trying to keep in the air, that you can't do one...more...thing?

Yeah, that's kinda been this week for me. Something had to give...So, what did Spencer have for lunch yesterday? What did his loving, caring mother make for her sweet little baby to eat at kindergarten? What nutritious, delicious, healthy foods did she provide to nurture his body, mind, and spirit?

1. A packet of those ritz cracker sandwiches with peanut butter goo in the middle
2. A string cheese
3. A packet of strawberry-flavored fruit snacks
4. A juice box

I can't help wondering what his teachers and all the volunteer lunch Mommies thought of Spencer's less-than-gourmet meal. I can imagine them shaking their heads and thinking, "Couldn't she, at least, have thrown together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a banana?" "Oh, that poor little boy. Did you see what his mother gave him for lunch? Tsk. Tsk." "No vegetables? What kind of mother sends her son to school without any vegetables?" "Has anyone met that skinny little boys' mother?" SIGH...

So, I'm nominating myself for an award. I'm calling it: "Just Doing the Best I Can Right Now, So Deal With It" award. And, the winner is..... Me! (Cue the clapping and cheering...) By the way, today, Spencer had a ham and cheese sandwich, some cranberries, milk, and a granola bar for lunch. So, I'm not doing that badly...

And, speaking of awards, I'd like to thank two lovely ladies for giving me a shout-out on their own blogs. First, to my blog buddy at 2 Toddlers and Me, who not only gave me an award, but who also leaves me thoughtful, encouraging comments, no matter how nutball my postings may be, AND who emailed me to tell me how to take an award and cut it, paste it, and do all the stuff you're supposed to do with it, after you get it. (Which I tried this afternoon. Couldn't figure it out, in spite of her idiot-proof, step-by-step instructions. I'm not lying when I say I am technologically-impaired, folks.) Anyway, you should check her out for insightful, funny, touching stories, as well as some really cool ideas on how to keep your little ones happily occupied. I'd also like to thank Leigh at Leigh vs the Laundry for the award she graciously bestowed upon me. She is hilarious and intelligent, and I get so excited when I see that she's written another post. If you haven't checked her out it. Guaranteed giggle. And, if I can ever figure out how to get the awards over here on my blog, I'll do it, and I'll pay 'em forward...

Now, I am off to sing bedtime songs, tuck in little hands and feet, and shower my boys with their nightly hugs and kisses. So, as they say to me every single night: "Good night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite. Love you more than you love me!" Cheers!

Monday, October 12, 2009

OK, the wall is gone. Now what?

Sooooo...yesterday was weird. Started out like any other Sunday. The kids woke up at 6:15am (just like every other day of the week - sob). John dragged himself out of bed, because I lay there stubbornly pretending that I was asleep, ignoring the cries of "Mommy, I'm hungry!" "Mommy, come look at the Lego robot I made for you!" "Mommy, Foster poked me in the butt!" "Mommy, Spencer stuck his tongue out at me!" Really, I'm on morning duty every other day of the week. Daddy can have Sundays. Anyway, he got the boys breakfast, raved about the Lego robots, and refereed a major wrestling match. Then, he plunked them down in front of a Disney movie, brought me a fresh cup of coffee with JUST the right amount of Splenda and milk (perfection), and snuggled back into bed. Around here, Sunday is "Disney Movie Sunday" -- a morning routine hubby and I invented, so that we could actually have a little alone time in bed to (nope, sorry those of you with dirty minds) drink coffee while we watch Face the Nation, George Stephanopolous, and Meet the Press. Yeah, we're weekend news junkies. Can't help it. We love it! We get all fired up. We debate. We argue. We commiserate with each other. It's GREAT! Usually, the movie winds down right around the time we've had all the news we can take, are totally disgusted by our own country's partisan bickering, and are planning a move to Canada. The kids join us in bed for a major family tickle fight, and then the day really begins...

So, yesterday, I innocently said, "Honey, I know I said this before, but I really think we should make a pass-through from the kitchen to the living room. It would really open up this tiny little space, y'know? If we're going to replace the laminate flooring, anyway, maybe now would be a good time to do it." Now, normally around here, home improvement projects start with me broaching the idea. A few weeks go by...I broach it again. Some more time goes by, I do a little internet research on how it's done and crunch the numbers...I broach it again. Eventually, if I haven't given up yet, the project might begin. It starts. It stops for a long period of time. Then it starts again. Then it stops. You're getting the picture, right? The problem is that I'm an overly enthusiastic "idea person" married to someone who generally feels pretty content with things the way they are, and isn't particularly experienced with, or excited about, home improvement projects. On top of that, I'm not handy. At all. I'm more of a big picture kind've a gal, which means it's up to hubby to make it happen, with me cheering him on and eagerly wielding a hammer, screwdriver, or any other tool he puts in my hand. (Hey, we make it work, somehow. We've managed to tear down a dog run, uproot a giant, rotten tree, re-do a driveway, landscape a yard, rip off an old roof, install new countertops, build a front deck, do a mini-remodel on a bathroom, and put in a backyard drainage system. And, we still love each other when each project ends, though we're not always feeling the love during it...)

Anyway, I brought up the pass-through notion at about noon. By 5:00pm, we no longer had a wall between our kitchen and living room. Well, we still had the frame of a wall, but all the drywall was gone, John had boldly declared, "Forget the pass-through. I'm just going to take down this whole section of wall. That'll REALLY open up the whole area!", and I was heading out the door to grab fast food we could eat in the living room, because I had no power in my kitchen, and there was a pile of drywall, nails, staples, and wood as high as our kitchen counter taking up the entire dining area. Gulp. Be careful what you wish for...

So, in two weeks, my parents, along with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece are coming up to celebrate my Mom's birthday. Will we be sitting down, eating a lovely dinner at the kitchen table? Or, will we be balancing plates and beverages on our laps in the living room? Hard to tell. I'll let you know... Cheers!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nobody wants to go on a playdate looking like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!

OK, first things first. Playdating is just as nerve-wracking as real dating used to be when I was single. I know that I need to put myself out there to meet the other Kindergarten parents. Spence is making friends and wants to get to know them better, so I've got to bite the bullet, right? So, I bravely emailed a few of the other parents from his Kindergarten class, and the playdating dance has begun. In fact, my first new playdate was supposed to happen today. We set it up two days ago, and I actually found myself worrying about what I was going to wear today. Seriously. Like it matters if I show up in sweatpants, work clothes, or "Mommy Jeans." But, I've actually been having thoughts like, "What if they don't like me?" "What if they live in a mansion and then come over to our teeny little house and think we're not worthy?" "What if the other Moms are all skinny and have perfect make-up and do Pilates?" "What if I don't fit in?" Notice that these questions are all about me and my insecurities? I have total faith in Spencer. He's a lovable, friendly kid. No worries there. Nope, all my anxiety is about my own potential unworthiness. What if we have a first playdate and then they never call me again??? I am having serious flashbacks to adolescence here. Ahhh, the fear of rejection!

So, today was supposed to be the first one. The big day. Spence was excited. I was nervous and excited too. But, I woke up experiencing side effects from the cortisone shot I had on Monday afternoon. I made it through work, and then I got online at home to look up my symptoms. (Thank goodness for Web MD.) And, lucky me -- I have two of the most popular side effects. First, I have something known in the medical community as "cortisone flare." That's the intensely increased pain which some patients experience for 48-72 hours after their injection, before the promised relief begins. Yeah. So, it's actually worse than it was before I got the shot that's supposed to make me quit limping around in constant pain. Fun, fun, fun! Second, I am one of the roughly 15% of patients who also get "facial flushing" after receiving their shot. Now, that really doesn't sound so bad, right? You're picturing a nice blush spreading across my cheeks, leaving me glowy and dewy-loooking, perhaps? WRONG! It started this morning with bright (and I do mean bright) red spots on each cheek. And, my skin felt HOT! Then, as the morning wore on, my face got redder and redder and redder. My secretary actually looked up at me and said, "I can actually see your nose getting redder. Does it feel hot, too?" Yes, actually. Every part of my face is boiling hot. I look like a rock lobster... One of my students stopped by to see me and said, "Mrs. B! Dude! What's wrong with your face???" Then, when I met Spencer at his bus this afternoon, he said, "Mommy, you're all RED! You look funny." Thanks a lot, kid. Way to be supportive.

Needless to say, there is no way I'm going on my very first playdate with a new family looking like Rudolph-the-friggin-Red-Nosed-Reindeer and feeling like my face is about to melt right off of my head. Not. Gonna. Happen. So, I called and postponed it. The other Mom was lovely about it on the phone, so we'll try again next week. And, maybe I'll have time to lose a few pounds before our playdate... sigh. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mix together a green monster and a cortisone shot, and you get...4:00am insomnia!

It's early. Really, really, really early. (At least for me. I'm not one of those moms who manages to drag myself out of bed at 4:00am to do yoga and have a little "me time" before the kids wake up at 6:00 and the 15 hours of daily life, work, and parenting chaos begins. You know that mantra we all read in parenting magazines and see on Oprah and hear from numerous filthy rich airbrushed celebrity moms who probably have multiple nannies to help lighten their load: "Take care of the mother of the household, or the household will fall apart." I agree that you have to take some time for yourself to maintain your sanity, but getting up at 4:00am BY CHOICE is not taking care of yourself, in my mind. It's not "Me time." It's robbing myself of precious sleep that I will never, ever get back! I digress...) So, I haven't been awake since 4 in the morning because I am about to embark on some sort of exercise program or meditation or any of the other things I keep hearing I should be doing. I'm awake because of the green-eyed monster...

Just before 4:00, I woke up to hear Foster's small, scared voice from Daddy's side of the bed. "Daddy, I had a bad dream. It was a green monster with a green eye. And you and Mommy were there too, but you were green." Daddy's half-asleep response? "OK. Well, it's just a dream (pat, pat). Go back to bed." Sorry, babe, that's just not gonna cut it for this Mommy. You don't hear that frightened, shaking little voice and just send him back to bed with a pat on the head. You also don't ever, ever send a 4-year-old, who just had a nightmare, back to bed without first going potty. Not unless you're planning on washing sheets in the morning. And, let's face it. The one throwing sheets in the washer before rushing out the door in the morning would NOT be Daddy... It would be me. SIGH.

Anyway, I sat up and whispered, "Sweetie, you're safe. You're awake now. I'll get up and meet you at the potty, and then I'll come and tuck you in." Then I got out of bed. That's when I remembered that I had a cortisone shot in my ankle joint and heel just a few hours ago. Oh, yeah. Blinding pain. Forgot about that. Really, it's a testament to Motherhood (cue the angelic background music) that I even woke up at the sound of my little one's voice. Two extra-strength pain relievers, a glass of Cabernet, and a Benadryl should've knocked out a horse (even a horse who just had a cortisone shot in her ankle joint) for at least 8 hours, don't you think? Have you ever had a cortisone shot? I had my first one in my ankle and heel 3 months ago, and I uttered a word that I don't even think of when some idiot on her cell phone cuts me off in traffic, causing my travel coffee cup to go flying and spill coffee all over the only pair of work pants that's actually clean enough to wear to work and still fits my expanding rear end, and making me think of some very creative words I'd like to yell at her, but can't, because my kids are sitting right behind me....A. Very. Bad. Word. And I said it loudly. To my orthopedic surgeon. Whose son goes to the school where I am a school counselor. Yikes.

What is my point? Bear with me, folks, I'm sleep-deprived, and my ankle feels like it's actually resting in a lit BBQ. My point is this: It really hurts. My other point is this: It doesn't matter how much it hurts, because, when your little one is terrified and trying very, very hard to be a brave boy, you limp over to him, you snuggle him, you take him to the potty, and then you tuck him in and let him tell you all about his dream (including the part where, not only am I completely green all over, but I have a bird beak instead of a human mouth -- What is that all about?) until he feels safe and secure again. And, I'll tell you, while I was lying in his bed, with my arms wrapped around him, I couldn't feel the pain in my ankle. All I could feel was his little body shaking, his heart pounding, his skinny little arms gripping (and I do mean gripping) my neck, and then that wonderful feeling when he started to relax, to breathe a little bit easier, then gave me a kiss and said, "I love you so, so, much, Mommy." Cortisone shot? What cortisone shot?

But, now I have insomnia. There's no more sleep for me today. I tried to watch some T.V. earlier, but we only have basic cable (Damn recession!) My choices were CNN (which I actually watch fairly regularly, but not at 4:00am), the shopping network (sorry, nice lady from Texas, but I actually don't need a gaudy ring the size of an actual chicken's egg to wear around the house, in spite of your insistence that it will make me really, really happy), a weird old movie on the Canadian T.V. channel, or a variety of infomercials designed to make me feel bad about myself and spend lots of money erasing my wrinkles, firming my abs, "lengthening my thighs" (Will that make me taller?), fixing my thinning hair, or buying a vacuum cleaner that will miraculously make my house incredibly clean, and "It does all the work for you". Yeah, right.

Think I'll head out to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. And, maybe I'll grab a piece of the leftover Domino's pizza John and I were eating while we watched The Biggest Loser last night (I know. It's wrong on so many levels). It's just after 5:00 now (I took a break from writing to take a couple more Tylenol and stare out the window for a bit), so the early, early, early show should be coming on soon, and I can get the news before anybody else gets up. Hey -- I guess I'm having some of that "Me time!" Cheers!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ahhhh....The way they see the world!

I am constantly amazed and delighted by the way my boys view the world. Whether it be the total concentration they'll give to a teeny little bug I would've stepped over without even noticing, or the creative and incredibly detailed shapes they see in the clouds, or their endless fascination with all things having to do with the potty, or just the wacky things that come out of their mouths -- they always surprise me (and occasionally gross me out as well). Well, earlier today, Spence and I were heading out to pick Foster up from preschool, and he said, "Hey, Mom. I know that I was born, but I can't remember exactly WHEN I was born. Do you know?" So, I told him his birthday, and then he said something that was really adorable. A huge grin broke out over his face, and he said, "Mommy, thanks so much for finding that memory for me!" Cute, huh? In his view of things, he had lost the memory of his birthday, and I found it for him. I just love the way he thinks!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Thanks for the (QUACK) great dinner (QUACK, QUACK).

You know how, when you haven't been out in a while ( a long, long, long while), you kind've forget all those social graces and feel sort of awkward and klutzy at the whole socializing thing? (It's probably just me, and the rest of you are socially adept and captivating and enchanting in all social settings, even if it's been ages since you were at a party that didn't involve small children, balloon animals, and birthday cakes shaped like clowns or dinosaurs...) Anyway, my social skills were put to the test when a friend of mine invited us to join her for a delicious turkey dinner feast with her family and friends last night. There were a few older kids there, as well as three big, friendly dogs, so my boys were well-occupied, and hubby and I got to have real conversations with real grownups for a change. It was really fun and interesting to meet these fascinating, and really lovely, people, and I was starting to get back into the socializing groove and feeling pretty good about my conversational skills, until...the quacking started.

Quacking? Yes, quacking. One of the dogs had a stuffed duck chew toy that made an incredibly realistic (and loud) quacking sound whenever he bit down on the squeaker. So, all of the grownups had piled our plates with delectable goodies and sat down outside for eating and conversation, and there was the dog, chewing on his duck. Quack. Quack. Quack. Now, my friend, her family, and most of the guests there seemed to be completely immune to the sound of this quacking. So, conversation just went happily on around me, and I tried valiantly to listen, to chime in, and to seem like a reasonably intelligent contributor. But, here's what I was hearing: "Oh, yes, apples are (quack) actually one of the most (quack, quack) difficult crops to grow (quackity quack) because you can't rotate (quack) them like you would other (quack, quack) crops." I could not keep a straight face, let alone offer any sort of semi-intelligent comment. When one of the guests turned and asked me a work-related question, I heard something along the lines of: "What do you (quackity quack) think about parents who (quack) follow their (quack) children to see what they're (quack, quack, quack) doing during the (quacky) day?" Finally, I just started giggling. I couldn't help it. Every time that dog bit down and "QUACK!" rang out, I just couldn't help it. The kicker was when I looked across the table and caught the eye of another woman who was clearly having as hard a time as I was ignoring all the quacking. We looked into each other's eyes, and it was all over for me. Her face was red, her eyes were watery, and she was trying as hard as she could not to break out into giggles as well. That just made me laugh even harder...

So, my first outing in quite some time proved to me that I need to sharpen up the old social skills a bit and try to work on my focus during conversations. And, I really hope the folks at the table weren't too put off by the nutty school counselor giggling like a madwoman all during dinner, because the company was truly charming, and the food was absolutely delicious. Quack!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Praise of My Hubby!

I am writing in total silence. What does that mean? It means no kids squealing, yelling, fighting, singing, pounding, running top speed down the hall (which sounds, roughly, like I imagine stampeding rhinoceroses would sound), or saying, "Mommy, I'm HUNGRY!", "Mom, he hit me AGAIN!", "Mom, come look at this bug!", "Mommy, there's dog poop in the yard!", etc., etc., etc... Why is it quiet right now -- a phenomenon so rare it should be on some sort of endangered phenomenon list? Because, just a little while ago, my wonderful husband packed a lunch, asked each little boy to pack their backpacks with a few toys, and left for a father & sons adventure. And, why did my darling, wonderful, stupendous husband do so? Because I feel crummy, and I really, really need some rest. (Something I am planning to get RIGHT after I finish this post, as a matter of fact! I just couldn't resist writing in this glorious silence before heading off for a cup of green tea and a nap.)

I think today's Mommy respite is due to yesterday's mini-meltdown at the playground where the boys and I had met Daddy on his lunch break. You know when you're not super-sick, but you know your body is fighting something, you feel achy and yucky and lousy all over, and it makes every little movement, decision, or chore that much harder? That was me yesterday, and, by the time we had arrived at the playground, I was done. Only I couldn't really be done, because I still had hours and hours and hours of Mommy duty ahead of me before the boys would be out for the night. (We met John at 11:00am. I'd already been up with the boys for 5 hours, with another 8 1/2 hours to go until the first one would be in bed! It makes me tired all over again, just thinking about it...)

Anyway, we were sitting at the playground, eating our picnic, and I looked over at my happily oblivious husband, whispered, "Honey, I don't feel very good," and then burst into tears. And, my husband, my hero, did exactly what I needed him to do. He put his arms around me, told me I shouldn't try to be SuperMom, and pointed out that the boys wouldn't be damaged forever by an afternoon spent watching TV, while I took it easy until he could come home and take over. And now, he and the boys are off on a male-bonding adventure, and I can go take a nap in my peaceful, silent house.

Life. Is. Good. Cheers!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

A quote from my 5-year-old just a few minutes ago: "Hey Mommy. I was thinking about it, and I decided that I love you a whole, whole, whole lot. But, I don't love you as much as I love chocolate. I do love you more than ice cream though." SIGH.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"A long time ago when I was three..."

I'm having a hard week. A really hard week. The kind of week where you start to doubt that humanity really deserves to survive on this planet, and you start rooting for the cockroaches to take over the earth. The kind of week where you wonder why you try so hard to make a difference, when it doesn't feel like anybody's noticing or appreciating your efforts. The kind of week where you marvel over how often people who are lazy or incompetent or who just don't give a rip still get ahead, because they're so good at kissing the right butts. The kind of week that causes you to have thoughts like: "Why do good, loving people get cancer or get swept away by flood waters while rapists and child molesters get out of jail early for good behavior? Why are so many people being murdered, persecuted, or displaced in the name of religion or politics? Why are there so many unscrupulous millionaires out there, and hardworking people like us can barely pay our bills? Why aren't people who want to have children first required to take parenting classes and apply for a license so they won't ever think it's OK to push their child into a closet and beat her with a wire hanger?" Deep questions. Disturbing questions. Questions with no good answers. So, basically, it's been the kind of week that makes you want to put on your softest, comfiest pajamas, and crawl back into bed until it's over, y'know? (And, it's only Wednesday. SIGH.)

Well, since retreating to my bed is not really a realistic option for me, I have decided to find something to focus on that will help me to appreciate the lighter, happier, more loving side of life again. Where do I go for this sort of inspiration? I don't even need to leave my house! My little boys provide me with enough material to crack the darkest depression (as long as I'm looking for it and appreciating it), and if they're not providing the laughs, my dear hubby usually says or does something giggle-worthy on a daily basis. So, to cheer myself up, and perhaps to spread it around a little, I offer a few tidbits from the last few days:

Foster: "Mommy, remember a long time ago when I was three?" I didn't hear anything after the "long time ago" part, because I was cracking up. He's only been four for two months. The briefest blink in time for me -- a lifetime for him.

Spencer suddenly discovering that he can cross his eyes and then walking around crashing into things. Seriously. He has a big goose egg on his forehead from walking into a wall while cross-eyed. He thinks it's the coolest thing ever.

Hubby being told by one of his elderly female bus passengers that he really should send a photo of his legs into Playgirl magazine. (He does have great legs, by the way. But, he was shocked to hear it from a flirty 80-year old woman. What do you say to a comment like that? "Um, thanks ma'am?")

Spencer and Foster making 16 batches of "poison" and lining them up in our yard, in case any bad guys come around. (I'm not kidding about the 16 batches. There are 16 different containers lined up in the yard, varying in size from a medium-sized wheelbarrow to a teeny little tupperware container, each containing a bit of my boys' concoction.) What's in this poisonous brew they're making? Water, grass, sticks, mud, small rocks, and hand soap. They "brew" it, they stir it, they check on it every day, they add to it, and they ask me at least twice a day to come and look at it. What can I say? Some kids make mud pies. My boys make "poison to get the bad guys." At least they work together and get along while they're doing it.

Foster (overheard while they were playing around in our neighbor's giant evergreen bush): "You know, Spence, Mom still calls us her babies sometimes, but we're not babies anymore. Do you think we should tell her that we're big boys now?" Bittersweet, that one...

Spencer: "Mommy! MOMMY! I can stretch my penis a long, long way. Do you want to see?"
(Oh, motherhood is a constant surprise, isn't it? Every day I hear things that I never, ever thought I'd hear...)

Hubby (while watching a little bit of Dancing With The Stars last night during our channel-surfing marathon): "You should get a pair of pants like that!" My reply: "You do realize that putting on a pair of pants like that isn't going to make my body look like hers, don't you?" His reply: "Yeah. Yours will look better." And then we turned the TV off...Use your imagination.

Foster (last night, when I was tucking him in): "Mommy, after you sing me songs, do you think we could snuggle and talk for a little bit?" And, we did...

Spencer: "I love you more than you love me, Mommy. And don't say it's not possible, 'cuz it's totally possible! I know it."

OK, I feel better. Cheers!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Kitties....Happy Birthday to You!!!

Yesterday, Spence asked me when it would be Sugar Kitty's birthday. Just to be clear, there are actually three "Sugar Kitties". There's Big Sugar Kitty, Little Sugar Kitty, and The Other Little Sugar Kitty. These three (along with Apple -- the giant stuffed dog that takes turns "sleeping" on their beds) are the boys' favorite stuffed animals. Big Sugar came along first -- a gift from Grandma. Spencer immediately fell in love with her and named her Sugar because he said she was "just so sweet." Awwwwww.... Then, along came a miniature version, which was immediately named Little Sugar Kitty. Very creative, don't you think? Shortly thereafter, we came across a twin version of Little Sugar Kitty, so it was, of course, named The Other Little Sugar Kitty. (Why did they name the giant stuffed dog Apple? No idea. Foster said it just sounded like a good name to him, and it stuck.) Anyway, Spence wanted to know when it would be time to have a birthday party for the Sugar Kitties, so I told him we'd throw them a birthday party today. And, what a day we had! I highly recommend doing this, especially on a rainy day.

Our entire day was all about the Sugar Kitties. In the morning, the boys sang "Happy Birthday" to their kitties and then proceeded to play with all of their stuffed animals. Together. Calmly. Without fighting. For over an hour. (If you don't have boys, you don't understand what a miracle that is. Truly, a miracle.) I brought the boys little saucers of milk and goldfish crackers for snack time, and they managed to turn that into another 45 minutes of play. I actually drank an entire cup of coffee, by myself. The whole thing. In peace. Ahhh...

When the stuffed animal party wound down, we decided to bake a birthday cake. We made a real cake. I can't guarantee that somebody won't bite into a piece of eggshell at some point, but I can guarantee that the boys' hands were clean, and that the cake was made with tons of giggles and lots of love. While it was cooling, the boys made birthday cards for the kitties, and we blew up a couple of balloons and played "bop the balloon" all over the house for a while, laughing like crazy. Then, since it was pouring rain, we decided to snuggle up in the living room and watch "The Aristocats". Of course, the boys wrapped their kitties up in blankets, and sat them in front of the T.V., so they could "watch" too...

During the movie, the sun decided to come out, afterall, so we packed the Sugar Kitties into the boys' backpacks and took them outside for a birthday bike ride around our cul-de-sac. At Spencer's insistence, I had to make sure to poke the kitties' heads out of the top of the backpacks, so they could "see" what was going on. (And, yes, I took pictures. Lots of pictures. This whole day has been documented for future laughter...)

After I was informed that "Our Sugar Kitties want to go inside now", we went in and iced the cakes. I just cut the sheet cake in half, so they could each ice their own. Chocolate icing for my chocaholic older son. Vanilla for my little guy. It was hilarious. There was icing everywhere, and not much of it went on the cakes. Spencer had chocolate icing in his ear. His ear! How does that even happen??? The three Sugar Kitties had been "shown" their birthday cards and were set up on the table, so they could "watch" their birthday cakes being iced.

The boys had already decided that the best birthday dinner would be cereal, so we munched on bowls of Cheerios and drank orange juice. Then, it was on to the cakes! We sang "Happy Birthday" again, each boy blew out the candle on his cake, patted each Sugar Kitty on the head, and dug in. So much fun.

So now, the boys are each picking out their bedtime story for tonight. They've already tucked their Sugar Kitties into bed. Of course, with all the cake and ice cream that was consumed, bedtime might not go as smoothly as it usually does. But, it was worth it. Sure, there's icing smeared all over my kitchen, and all three Sugar Kitties desperately need to be washed tomorrow, but who cares? I'm not going to remember that. But I'm going to remember this day with my little boys forever.

Happy Birthday, Dear Sugar Kitties.... Happy Birthday to Youuuuuuuu.......... Cheers!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Joys of Sleep Deprivation

You know how some parents will sigh, heavily, and say, "Oh my gosh. Our baby didn't sleep through the night until she was a year old. I thought I would lose my mind. It was terrible!" Well, I'm pretty sure I haven't had a full night's sleep in 4 years. Why? Because our 4-year old has nightmares and, even worse, night terrors. Talk about a Mommy adrenaline rush. Wait until your little one is screaming at the top of his lungs that there are crabs in his bed trying to pinch him, and you can tell that he actually SEES them there in front of him. Scary. There's no getting back to sleep after one of those.... Luckily, they seem to be lessening over time, but the crying and moaning and thrashing around still happens regularly, and I've become so attuned to it that it wakes me up every time. Now, add in this fun factor: Perimenopause, which first reared its ugly head for me 2 years ago, before I even turned 40, has resulted in night sweats and insomnia at least 4 nights a week. (Ahhhh, the joys of being a woman! And men think they're so tough....They wouldn't last a year in a woman's body! For more about the joys of perimenopause, please check out Why isn't menopause called womenopause?) And the final sleep deprivation factor is....Snoring. Not mine. My husband's. It's especially bad in the spring and fall, when his allergies are acting up. It's like sleeping next to a chainsaw. But, there's no rhythm to it, so I can't accommodate to the sound and drift off to sleep, you know? It's random, and it changes pitch and tone and volume throughout the night. All night. Almost every night. So, you see, when it comes to getting a full night's sleep, I'm pretty much screwed.

Being chronically sleep deprived, I have learned a few survival strategies. Tips, you might say, to make sure that disaster doesn't occur as a result of too little sleep.

1) I write everything down that I'm supposed to remember for the next day, and I put it on sticky notes the night before. That one's a lifesaver. I also call my home phone from work to remind myself to write things down on the sticky notes. It cracks my husband up every time he hears one of my messages to myself -- "Hi. This is yourself. Don't forget that tomorrow is share day at preschool." He thinks it's funny. He doesn't really appreciate the necessity of it, since he sleeps like a baby pretty much every night. (Not a baby with night terrors, either. The other kind. The kind that sleeps through the night. SIGH.)

2) I set the timer on the coffee maker the night before (extra strong setting), so it'll be ready when I drag my sorry carcass out of bed in the morning. I have become that person you see on the commercials -- the exhausted looking one who literally can't function until she smells coffee wafting through the air and drinks down that first cup. It takes me about 3 cups to really feel like a fully-funtioning human being.

3) I never assume that I am as alert as I feel after the 3rd cup of coffee. I turn on the cold air vents or roll down the windows when I'm driving, just in case...

4) I try not to ever set a beverage down next to anything else that's liquid, because I have been known, in my sleepy state, to pick up the wrong bottle or cup and take a swig. In fact, I learned just two days ago what baby shampoo tastes like, because it was sitting right next to my Diet 7 Up. FYI? It tastes terrible. I don't recommend it. I can also describe what it feels like to accidentally drink one of your contacts, in case you're interested.

Well, I only have to make it through 1 hour, 47 minutes more of parenting, before both boys will be snoozing, and I can collapse into bed. And, if luck is on my side, tonight will be hot-flash free, my little guy won't have a nightmare or wet the bed, and my darling hubby won't drive me out of our nice, soft bed with his chainsaw-like snoring. I can only hope...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The longest school bus ride EVER!

So, today, my school bus nightmare came true. It's probably some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, because I already had anxiety about my little guy riding the bus (see Kindergarten Countdown for more of my neurotic ramblings on the topic), so I probably created some kind of negative energy that resulted in today's mini-disaster.

Here's what happened... Today was Spencer's first time riding the bus home from morning Kindergarten. Not wanting to be late, I flew out of work, played havoc with the speed limit, and made record time driving across town, so that I could be on time to meet his bus. When I had called to see what time the bus would drop off, I was told it would arrive "Around 12-ish." So, I was there at 11:49, just in case. I waited at the corner (at the same place the bus drops kids off after the regular school day), looking eagerly down the hill, watching for the bus bearing my beloved child. I chatted with the friendly (and, frankly, pretty easy-on-the-eyes) Daddy who was on the other side of the street, waiting for the bus to pick UP his own Kindergartener for the afternoon session. We all waited and waited and waited... Cute Daddy was starting to get pretty antsy, but his pick-up bus finally arrived, about 10 minutes later than expected. I watched from directly across the street, as his little boy climbed up onto the bus with Cute Daddy taking pictures of every step. I caught the bus driver's eye and gave her a cheery wave, all the while wondering when Spencer's bus would chug up the hill so I could smother him with hugs and kisses. The school bus turned, right in front of me, and continued on down the hill. Cute Daddy crossed over to chat with me a little more about the neighborhood and Kindergarten and such. I was just being neighborly, you understand... My own chattiness had nothing to do with his sparkly blue eyes and nice smile. (Hey, I'm happily married, but it's not like my eyes have been gouged out of my head. I can still appreciate a little eye-candy, can't I?)

Anyway, when 12:30 had rolled around, and no drop-off bus had arrived, I was starting to get pretty anxious. Cute Daddy loaned me his cell phone, so I called the bus transportation line and explained that my little one had yet to show up. The lovely woman on the other end of the phone sighed and said, "Oh, we're showing that your son's bus was there on time at drop-off." I semi-calmly explained that I had been standing on this very spot since 11:50, and that the only bus that had come by was the one picking up kids for afternoon Kindergarten. "Yeah, that's the bus," she replied. Cue the instant migraine! "But, the bus always drops the big kids off on the other side of the street, and I was standing RIGHT there! The bus driver waved at me! Do you mean to tell me that my son is still on that bus???" (All the time, I was thinking to myself, "I KNEW he shouldn't be riding the bus. He's just a baaaabbbbyyyyyy........") Then, with an edge of hysteria in my voice, I asked, "Where is my son at this exact moment?" I was told that I needed to drive to his elementary school, and that he'd be arriving there in 20 more minutes. Keep in mind that, at this point, my little 5-year-old had already been riding the bus for over an hour. What if he had to pee? What if he was crying and wondering why I hadn't picked him up? What if he was all alone and scared on his long, long bus ride?

Meanwhile, I was now almost half-an-hour late to pick up my younger son from his preschool, and I was on the verge of a total meltdown. So, thanking Cute Daddy for the use of the cell phone (and vowing to go get one of my own and then attach it permanently to my hip), I ran home, called my preschool to explain my situation, and headed to Spencer's school, where I paced back-and-forth in front of the entrance like a hungry tiger. The bus was 5 minutes later than expected. Then 10 minutes. Then 15. At 17 minutes past arrival time, I walked into the main office, caught the eye of the secretary, said in a small, pathetic voice, "I've lost my son," and burst into tears. The school bus arrived roughly 3 minutes later...

And, how did Spencer handle his ordeal? Was he traumatized? Did he cling to me like a limpet and tell me how much he'd missed me? Did he say that he never wants to ride the school bus again? Of course not. He hopped off the bus, wiggled out of my unusually intense embrace, and said, "Hi Mommy. That was the longest bus ride ever! I saw you waiting, and I waved at you, but you were on the wrong side of the street. Next time you need to be on the other side, OK?"

What's the lesson here? Well, it's plain to see that Spencer is way more ready for this new stage than I am. Definitely.


Monday, September 14, 2009

I've got nuthin!

I really felt like blogging today. My blog is supposed to be this great creative outlet, right? A place where I can rant and rave and share stories. A spot where I can document the craziness of life and be able to check back in the future to see what was going on, what I was thinking, what my little guys were doing/breaking/thinking, which articles of clothing my husband left on the bathroom floor that day (Today's collection? Black flannel sweatpants, a white t-shirt, boxers, and a pair of socks that really, really, really need to be washed)...

But, today, I've got nuthin!

My mind's a blank!

Just felt like saying that.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

And, I only had TWO meltdowns!

I did it. Yesterday, I survived Spencer's first day of Kindergarten. And, I made it through with only two, brief episodes of crying, neither of which could be described as full-on blubbering or a truly "ugly" cry. The first happened, suddenly, as we were waiting for the bus. There we were: Mommy, Daddy, Spence, his little brother, Grandma, and Grandpa, complete with camera and videocamera, laughing and celebrating and having a grand time. He held his "My First Day of Kindergarten" sign and let us take multiple pictures of him. He high-fived everybody near him and announced to all of the kids and parents waiting at the bus stop that it was his first day of Kindergarten. I was feeling good, feeling positive, feeling genuinely excited, when Spence looked up at me over the corner of his Spiderman backpack, looking incredibly cute and very, very little in the oversized button-down train shirt he had chosen for his first day, and said, "Mommy, can I sit on your lap while we're waiting for the bus?" I made quick eye contact with my hubby, whose own eyes were looking a bit misty, and that was it. Big, fat tears rolling down my face. Luckily, Spence was sitting on my lap staring eagerly down the street, looking for the bus, so he didn't see my pathetically sad face. As for the loud sniffles -- I have bad Fall allergies, so he wouldn't think anything of that. As it turned out, we were the only parents with a new Kindergartener at the bus stop, so I got lots of sympathetic, knowing looks from the other Moms, and that helped to dry up my tears. Afterall, they had obviously all been through it, and they looked just fine now. More importantly, their kids looked happy, healthy, and excited to go to school.

So, that was mini-meltdown number one. Number two came in the Kindergarten classroom, itself. The school had invited all the parents to come on the first day and stay for a little while, then join the Principal and PTA members for coffee and treats in the library. The first part was great. Spence played on the playground with the other kids for a while, then he got to go inside and find his name tag, hang up his backpack, and play in the room for a bit. All was well. He was confident and happy, the other kids seemed really nice, and the other parents seemed pretty normal and friendly, overall. (There was this one, totally intense Mom, who kept trying to micro-manage the rest of us, and our children, as we put the required school supplies in their bins. I remembered her from the Kindergarten orientation in the Spring. She was the one who, when the teacher asked us to have our kids draw a picture of themselves, kept loudly tapping her pen on the paper in front of her son and saying, "Put more color in your picture! Put more detail in your picture. That's not good enough!" I've gotta say, I was hoping her kid wouldn't be in Spence's class, but it looks like our paths will have to cross from time-to-time, afterall. Super intense micro-managing Mom, meet the Mom at the opposite end of the spectrum. Meet "ChickenNuggetMama." Should be interesting...) Anyway, the teacher gathered the kids on the mat for a "good morning" song, and then addressed all of the parents in the back of the room. She told us she was going to read a story to the kids, and then she'd like us to kiss the kids goodbye and head up to the library. She also pointed out the kleenex box at the back of the room. I was the first one there. I was still feeling pretty good, but I wanted to be ready, just in case. Then, this lovely young woman, who seems like a genuinely caring and interested teacher, read a book called "The Kissing Hand." Have you read this book? It's all about a baby raccoon who is nervous about school, so the mother raccoon gives him a kiss in the center of his palm, and tells him that it will stay on his hand all day, until he sees her again after school. Brutal! I think this sweet-looking Kindergarten teacher is actually some sort of sadist who likes to see how many Moms she can make cry on the first day. She and the other Kindergarten teacher probably have some sort of competition going every year. Who can choose the sappiest book that will bring the most parents to tears? Anyway, that was the second meltdown. It only lasted a minute or two. OK, to be honest, it started when the Mommy raccoon put the kiss in the baby raccoon's hand, and the sniffles lasted as I kissed Spence (who didn't seem the least bit upset and really seemed to just want us to go away, so he could get back to the business of Kindergarten), walked down the hall, up the stairs to the library, and drank my first cup of coffee. Then, I was fine.

So, it's the end of an era, and the beginning of another. I can't wait to see what's coming....

And, to all of my wonderful friends, who called to leave me messages of encouragement and to see how I was doing on this momentous day....I love you, and I appreciate you, and I couldn't navigate these crazy Mommy waters without your help and support. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Kindergarten Countdown

It's almost D-Day. (Or "K-Day", I guess you could say.) In 3 days, I will walk one extremely excited little boy down our block and around the corner to the school bus stop for the very first time. Gulp. Spencer is completely ecstatic and can't wait to ride the bus "Just like all the big kids, Mom!" I, on the other hand, can't help but look at him and think, "HE'S JUST A BABY! HE'S WAY TOO LITTLE TO BE ON THE BUS! THE BUS IS SO BIG! WHAT IF SOMEBODY IS MEAN TO HIM? WHAT IF HE SITS ON SOMEBODY'S GUM? WHAT IF HE ACCIDENTALLY LEAVES HIS BACKPACK ON THE BUS? HE'S SUCH A SKINNY LITTLE GUY! NOOOOOOOOO..."

I'm not really having a hard time with the whole transition to Kindergarten, itself. In fact, I'm genuinely excited for Spence and all the cool learning and new friends and fun times that lie ahead for him. It helps that he's really confident and happy and SO ready for this next step. (With that said, I'll probably be a blubbering idiot all day on Friday. All this big talk, and I'll most likely burst into big, ugly, snotty tears the second the bus drives away... Just in case, I arranged my work schedule so I wouldn't have to go in on Friday. My middle school students really don't need their counselor to be an emotional wreck that day. Doesn't inspire confidence, y'know?)

Even though I'm not too freaked out about Kindergarten, this school bus thing is a real issue for me. It's not like we have a choice, because I literally can't get Spence to Kindergarten a half-mile from our house when he's supposed to be there, then get Foster to Preschool on the northern side of town when he's supposed to be there, and finally get myself to work on the southern side of town anything close to when I'm supposed to be there. It's physically impossible. My head would explode. Seriously. I'm talking spontaneous combustion here. Nobody needs that.

Thus, the bus...

My husband thinks I'm nuts, by the way. For countless reasons, actually, but most recently because of this bus issue I'm having. "I rode the school bus every day," he says. "I loved it. I saw all my friends on the bus. We had a great time. Spencer will be fine." "Did you (sniff) ever get bullied? Did kids make fun of you? (sniff, sob, sniff) Did the bus ever go in a ditch in the winter time?" "No, honey. He'll be fine." I never rode the bus as a kid, so I don't share my husband's confidence. And, Spence is JUST A BABYYYYYY!!!...

But, I'll walk him to the bus this Friday, just so he can try it out on his first day. Then, I'll jump in the car and follow that bus to see what path it takes on its journey to Kindergarten. I'll be there to meet Spence when he arrives at school for the first time, and I'll do the "Meet & Greet" with his teacher. Then, I'll walk out the door, leaving my little guy to begin his new adventure. I might just treat myself to a skinny vanilla latte and a cheesy entertainment magazine. And, a short 3 hours later, I'll be at the bus stop to meet him when he gets off the bus after his very first day as a Kindergartener. Wow.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

I admit it. Sometimes I wish I was Canadian...

I'm pissed off today. And, I'm mad that I'm mad, because I was planning on writing about the incredibly fun night I had with my hubby and boys yesterday. Instead, I find myself filled with frustration and needing to vent it somewhere before I can get back to focusing on all of the wonderful things in my life. Here's a disclaimer for any of my followers who might be checking in: This post is not about being a parent or a spouse or the silliness of life in an 1100 square foot house with two little boys and two big dogs. It's about being a caring, interested, and totally disgusted American today. Sorry, folks, but it's about politics. So, please feel free to stop reading. It's not my normal kind've post, that's for sure, but it's affecting me. It's on my mind, it's in my heart, as a mother and a school counselor and someone who cares about kids and who really, really wants to believe that my country is worth taking pride in. The truth is, I'm embarrassed to be a United States citizen right now. Sorry if that offends, but it's the truth. Frankly, I've been embarrassed by the actions and attitudes of my country before (maybe because I grew up in New Zealand and saw another way of doing things), but, over the last year, I've been starting to feel a sense of patriotism again. I've seen that people are working hard to do something, to change things in a positive direction, to try something different in order to get our country back on track. The in-fighting and ridiculously immature partisan bickering (on both sides) makes me want to tear my hair out and scream, "YO! All of you people who were elected by us and are getting paid a helluva lot more than I am to, supposedly, represent the needs of all Americans! Maybe you could pull your heads out and start thinking about what's good for the whole country, instead of just what's good for your own, personal, cultural, religious, ethnic, tax bracket, or the special interest groups that contribute to your campaigns, eh? How about trying THAT for a change?!!" Even with all of this adolescent political behavior, I have been able to hold my head fairly high as an American citizen over the last year, because positive changes are at least being discussed, sought, and attempted. But, the recent unexpected and ridiculous uproar over our President giving a positive, pro-education, stay-in-school message to students in as many schools as possible throughout our country, just about makes me want to pack up my little family, jump in the car, and head north. Waaaaayyyy north. Across the border into Canada, never to return. As a school counselor, and as a concerned Mom, I am shocked and embarrassed by the ignorance and shortsightedness of my fellow Americans. I cannot believe that anyone, regardless of their political affiliation, could honestly think that, in a country whose dropout rate is shockingly, and unforgivably, high, a message from the elected leader of our nation, aimed solely at inspiring all students to stick it out, to set goals, to follow their dreams, to reach for the stars, is a bad thing. Whether you agree with his politics or not, President Obama is unarguably a major American success story. What a great example to all students of all cultures that, if you face your challenges and stay with it and work hard, you can achieve great things. I'm sorry, but nobody can argue against our President being a really awesome example of what education can do for a person. At least, no sane, semi-intelligent, person, that is. Just imagine the young black high school freshman sitting in his school desk chair, thinking he can never reach his goals, hearing this message and knowing that it is going out all over the country. You can do it. You can achieve. You can succeed. Regardless of your family background, your gender, your culture, or the color of your skin. You can achieve, and getting your education is the path to success. What about so many young female students, who are still getting the message that getting married and having babies is all they should aspire to? Well, think about the power of a pro-education message from the leader of our country on those girls. A leader who has a highly educated, well-respected, amazing spouse and two daughters. Think about it. I could go on and on and on..... Think about the kids with single parents or non-traditional families. Think about the kids who may be gang-affiliated or drug-involved, and who are ready to give up on education all together. This message has the power to reach kids who may not have been reached before, and to inspire them to stay in school. Why? Because the person delivering it made it all the way to the White House, and he's saying that education is the way to achieve your dreams. Isn't that what every caring parent wants for their child? It's not about being a democrat, or a republican, or a libertarian, or anything else on the political spectrum. It's about kids getting an education so they can become whatever they want to be. So every child will have more opportunity and freedom and self-respect. So every child can learn to question what is happening in the world and maybe figure out ways to make it better. We teach our children about global citizenship. We teach them about government, and civil service, and giving back to their community. We teach them critical thinking skills, so they can make educated decisions in the future. What are we teaching them if we say, "Sorry, honey. I don't want you to listen to what our President has to say about staying in school, because I don't agree with his health care reform package." Give me a break! This isn't about you, or me, or our personal political agendas or belief systems. It's about empowering kids. If we can't come together on an issue as important as kids and education, perhaps our society really is doomed. It infuriates and disgusts and depresses me. I work so hard to inspire my students to stick with it, and to keep trying, even when it seems impossibly difficult. I try, desperately sometimes, to find ways to reach kids who are seemingly unreachable and to help them see that education is a tool to get them where they really want to be in life. I was ecstatic when I heard that this President was going to do what only a few have done in the past. And that is, for this one hour, to use his power and his position, not to forward political agendas or solve disputes in foreign countries or try to bring bipartisanship to Washington DC, but to inspire our children. American children. To learn. To grow. To move forward. To face adversity and to use education to achieve their dreams. What could be wrong with that? If his message only reaches one child and inspires that one child to stay in school, it will be worth it. And, I don't care if that child has democratic parents, republican parents, disinterestd parents, or no parents at all. It will be worth it. And, every single President should do this every year from now on. Because, if you don't believe that your Presidential power should be used to inspire children -- the very future of our country -- to reach for their dreams and to get a good education, then you should never have run for President in the first place.

OK, I feel better after getting all of that out. If you disagree, I welcome your comments. If you are as angry and frustrated as I am, I welcome those as well. And, if I offended, sorry, but this is my blog, so I get to say what I want. Now, I'm going to go kiss and hug my little boys. Cheers!