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!