Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Craigslist: A Mommy's Best Friend!

I am officially a Craigslist convert. Why, you may ask? Well, less than 48 hours ago, I logged onto Craigslist for the first time and advertised to sell a bunch of the toys my boys have outgrown, as well as an old table, stroller, and other miscellaneous stuff. My goals were: 1) NOT to have to do a garage sale, which is typically more work than it's worth (especially trying to do it with my two little terrors running around causing chaos and confusion), and, 2) To earn enough money to pay for a swing set for my little guys' birthdays this July. I have to admit that I had NO idea what I was doing when I put in my first post yesterday afternoon. I had heard that you should include pictures of your items, so I muddled about trying to figure out how to do that, and it was a bit confusing at first. Yet, somehow, while simultaneously handling my daily Mommy duties ("Moooooommmmmyyyyyyyyy... Why are you on the computer? Come plaaaaayyyyy with us!!!", and "Moooooommmmyyyyyyyyyy.....We're HUNGRY!", and, finally, "Moooooommmmmyyyyyyy...Foster wiped a booger on me!"), I managed to navigate the complexities of Craigslist and successfully post lots of cool stuff, with pictures, and I made enough to pay for the swing set AND possibly pay for a babysitter, so my hubby and I can have a REAL DATE! As a little boy exclaims in "The Incredibles" (which I have seen at least 100 times, thanks to my boys) -- "That was totally wicked!" Seriously. My Craigslist experience was totally wicked! I highly recommend it to any busy Mom who has "stuff" to sell. Here's what I learned from my 48 hours on Craigslist: Research Craigslist first to see what your kind of items are currently going for, so you can be competitive. Put in nice pictures of your stuff. Ask for exact cash only. Oh, and if you under-price an item, expect 20 phone calls in the first 5 minutes (I sold a bike 3 minutes after I posted the ad. I hadn't even gotten up from the computer when the phone rang, and then it kept ringing and ringing and ringing... Definitely under-priced! Oops. Ah well, live and learn). Finally, don't be afraid to let your little ones watch an extra Disney movie, so you can handle the details. I confess...

I am off to celebrate my glorious success with a nice, cold beer. And, will I post on Craigslist again? You betcha! Cheers!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Mommy, you JUST gotta see this!!!"

When I hear these words, typically shouted at ear-piercing volume and with a level of immeasurable excitement, I know that I am about to see a dead insect, some sort of animal droppings, a "treasure" (translation: bottle cap, stick, leaf, or, in one instance, a hardened piece of gum someone had spit out on the sidewalk), or a fat, squishy, slimy, disgusting slug. My boys know that slugs seriously gross me out (thanks to Daddy, who thinks it's hilarious), so they take advantage of every opportunity to watch me squirm by either bringing me outside to view a slug, or by showing up with a slug grasped in one of their sticky little hands. Now, I do my best to show enthusiasm every time one of my little guys wants me to see something "amazing". I really do want to nurture their excitement and exploration of the world, and I'm continually surprised and delighted by their enthusiasm for the smallest discovery. With that said, I reluctantly admit that there are times when I hear the call (for the 20th time in one day) and just don't feel like being dragged over to see another squished spider or patch of bird poop. So, a few days ago, when I was finally getting around to washing my face and brushing my teeth (at 10:30 in the morning), and I heard my youngest son calling from the back porch, "Mom, Mommy, Moooooommmmmmm......You just gotta see this! C'mon, c'mon, come out here. Mommyyyyyyyy!!! You really gotta see this!", I heaved a sigh, rolled my eyes, and slowly, reluctantly dragged myself outside to see the latest discovery. And, this is what I saw... My beautiful, mud-splattered youngest son, wearing his Spiderman pajama top, green boxer shorts, and his beloved ladybug rainboots, standing completely still (an amazing event all by itself) in a patch of sunlight, blue eyes shining with excitement, a gigantic grin stretching from ear to ear, with a big, yellow and black butterfly perched on his grimy little hand, delicate wings gently opening and closing. It was a wonderful moment. And, while my little ones consider a bead or a fallen leaf or a chunk of dirt a treasure, the memory of Foster standing in the sunlight with that butterfly on his hand, is something I will treasure forever. So, the next time I hear the call, I'll head outside with an open mind and an enthusiastic smile, ready to share in my children's excitement. Unless it's a slug.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

If you think they're so cute, feel free to take them home with you!

Well, that title sounds really bitter and not-so-loving, right? I agree, but in my defense, I was just having one of those days where your children's seemingly-unending poor behavior, combined with the 3rd night in a row of almost no sleep, makes you look longingly back at the time before you had any little ones. Ahhh, I remember that era well... Friday and Saturday nights when I could stay up as late as I wanted with my hubby, because I wouldn't be woken up at 5:45am by my little boys coming in to "snuggle" (translation: wiggle, whisper loudly, wiggle some more, accidentally kick me in the ribs, start to giggle uncontrollably, whisper loudly again, whine about being hungry, and then launch a massive tickle fight which always results in someone banging heads with someone else and bursting into full-volume crying...). Days when I could stay in my pajamas until noon and choose to do nothing but watch trashy daytime TV without feeling guilty and needing to "get fresh air" or "get healthy exercise" or "eat some vegetables" or "stimulate the brain." And, most importantly, days where I didn't have to say any of the following: "Don't hit your brother." "This is your warning, sweetie. If you do that again, I'll have to put you in time out." "Go to time out!" "No." "Stop that." "Don't put that in your mouth." "Time out!" "Please get off your brother's head -- he can't breathe." "I said, no." "Take your finger out of the dog's ear!" "Because I said so." "Because I said so." "I said, because I said so." "I'm not going to argue with you about it anymore." "Take that out of your mouth!" "Go to time out!" SIGH. (By the way, I do love my rambunctious little boys with an intensity that still shocks and amazes me, and I wouldn't go back to the days before they came into my life for a gazillion dollars. The good FAR outweighs the bad, and there's nothing like the moment when one of my little guys wraps his arms around my neck, gives me a big, sloppy kiss, and says, "I love you more than anybody else in the world!" I'm just engaging in a little healthy venting here...) But, coming back to the title of this blog, why is it that well-meaning people (usually sweet little old ladies or naive, clueless young women who clearly have no children - and have the tight little bodies and wrinkle-free skin to prove it) always seem to comment on how "adorable" and "well-behaved" and "precious" your kids are during the brief moment when they are actually not hitting, poking, grabbing, arguing, or otherwise driving each other (and me) completely crazy?!!! I know, with 100% certainty, that on those days when my two little guys are pushing every single one of my buttons, and I have no choice but to venture out to the store with them (because I am down to feeding my family nothing but oatmeal or peanut butter and jelly - on crackers, 'cuz there's no bread), that someone will comment on their cuteness. And, one of these days, I'm afraid I'm going to crack, hand my precious little guys over to one of these well-meaning women, and say, "Here ya go. Take them home with you for the rest of the day. I'm going to go take a nap!"

Monday, June 1, 2009

"Finding the Happy"

2008 was, by far, one of the most challenging years of my life (on top of being the year I turned 40. Ouch!). My husband was suddenly and very unexpectedly laid off right after Christmas, 2007. (And no, Ms. Suzie Orman, we did not have 6 months worth of bills in our savings account -- Are you kidding me? Is any normal paycheck-to-paycheck family really able to do that?). Then, when he did manage to find work (for which we are eternally grateful), his schedule became -- and remains -- a complete nightmare for our little family. We never know which shift he's working until around 6:30pm the night before. Even then, his schedule can be altered multiple times throughout the day. So, basically, it's as if I'm a single, working Mom, only with a husband who is kind of a transient presence in our lives. A welcomed, loved, cherished presence, but not around nearly enough. SIGH. But, the story continues.... In May, I went in to my doctor for my check-up and to deal with some "female issues", and I found out that I was in the midst of severe perimenopause. Oh joy! (For more thoughts on that, see my earlier blog: "Why isn't menopause called womenopause?") Then in June, I went in to the doctor to have a sore ankle examined, and we found out that, on top of torn ligaments, missing cartilege, and various other mechanical injuries, I had a rare degenerative bone condition called Avascular Necrosis (A.V.N. for those of us in the know). So, I was completely non-weight-bearing on crutches and in a wheelchair from July 7th until mid-December, with major surgery in September, followed by partial weight-bearing with a knee scooter, one crutch, and a cane until February. Now, it is one thing to go to work in a wheelchair and on crutches. It is something entirely different to take care of two incredibly active little boys (aged 2 and 3 at the time) who need almost constant exercise in order to burn off enough energy to keep Mommy sane. (Oh yeah, and somewhere in there, our water heater literally exploded, flooding the kitchen, while I was at home with the boys, on crutches, and my husband was unreachable at work. Fun times!) So, why bring all of this up now? Because, during this last year, I have learned that it's crucial, when times are tough, to "Find the happy." (This is my parents' philosophy, by the way. Two wonderful people who do a pretty good job of it, even when times are tough. Wise people, my folks.) How did I find the happy during this last year? By laughing a lot, when I really felt like crying. Not that I didn't do a lot of crying as well. Case in point, the day it took me almost 40 minutes to get the groceries in from the car on my crutches, and I had a 20-minute, ugly, sobbing, pity-party for myself, while sitting on the floor of my kitchen, sweating buckets, literally surrounded by bags of groceries, with two hungry, crying little boys hanging on me... By doing my best to adapt to the situation, like buying industrial-strength kneepads at Lowes, so that I could crawl around the house to do laundry and chase my boys around (Oh yes, the jokes were flying: "John, you bought your wife kneepads? heh, heh, heh..." Men!), and dressing up as a doctor for Halloween (I liked the irony), hanging glow sticks on my wheelchair, and taking my boys trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. And, by trying really hard to find the funny aspects in my situation, like my husband building me a wheelchair ramp (thanks, sweetie) that had such a steep slope, I could hit about 30 mph cruising down it to my driveway and had to wear gloves, so that I could grab on to the wheels and come screeching to a halt before crashing into our mini-van. Not to mention that it took super-human strength and about 10 minutes of going, stopping, resting, going a little bit more, stopping, resting, etc., to get back up the thing. It was like climbing a mountain! But, I had defined shoulder and arm muscles for the first time in my life. Or, the time I got so frustrated with trying to do the kids' laundry on crutches that I threw both of them (the crutches, not the kids) down the hallway and then realized that I would have to crawl up the hallway to get them back, which struck me as completely funny and resulted in a huge laugh-fest on the floor with the kids, which then morphed into an even bigger tickle-fight, and which ended with each boy dragging a crutch back to me with a big, silly grin. So, I survived last year (and continue to survive) by finding the happy in my life, instead of the opposite. I don't always succeed, but I do try. I try to see the warmth and love in my house, instead of the stained carpet, the scratched-up doors, and the linoleum that so desperately needs replacing. I try to appreciate every minute with my husband, instead of focusing on how much he is gone. I try to focus on the sparkle in my eyes instead of the wrinkles that surround them. And, this weekend, knowing that we can't afford a vacation or other big luxuries, I used a gift card from my birthday, and I bought a porch swing for the front deck. It's something I've always wanted, and it's become my happy little oasis. It's a place I can go to have a quiet glass of wine and some alone time, or greet the morning with a cup of coffee, or chat with my lovely neighbor across the street. It's a special spot where I can snuggle with my little guys before they go to bed, or read a good book, or hold hands with my husband and talk about our future...It's somewhere I can go to find the happy, so that I can continue to go on... Here's hoping you find the happy, too. Cheers!