Saturday, December 25, 2010

For Cosmo, Who Will Forever Be Missed

For Cosmo, who passed away at 11:35, Christmas morning.

We love you so much. Our hearts are breaking that you left us so suddenly and unexpectedly today.

You brought so much happiness and silliness and unconditional love (along with snoring and flatulence and copious quanities of hair) into our lives over the last 14 years.

I remember bringing you home from the Humane Society in 1997 -- Just a fat, fuzzy, black ball of love. My constant companion. My parents' first "grandchild."

I remember telling myself that you would NEVER sleep on the bed with me. Then, I caught that really bad flu in Grad. School, and you looked so fluffy and cute and warm, staring up at me with your big, brown eyes. I scooped you up onto the bed, and that was that. Until you got too old to jump up that high, you were my sleeping buddy from that moment forward.

I remember how you used to put yourself between me and John, when we first started dating. Just letting him know that I belonged to you, and that he was the interloper.

What a frisbee dog you were! The hours we spent playing frisbee were some of the happiest, most carefree hours of my life.

You were there for so many important events in my life. Graduate school. Meeting John. My first counseling job. The time we got lost on the mountain in Enumclaw. (I was so scared, lost in the dark. But, you were with me, and that made it bearable.) Getting married. I'll never forget how concerned I was that Dad make sure to let you out to poop before the ceremony. And, what was the first thing Dad said to me, just before he walked me down the aisle? "Cosmo pooped." That will forever be a cherished memory from one of the most important days of my life. You were there in our little duplex, watching me learn how to work a lawnmower. You were there when we bought our house. You grudgingly accepted Lucy as a canine companion. And then, you grew to love her. You were there when each little boy joined our family. And, after a while, you grew to love them, too. Especially their leftover crusts and crumbs.

I'm not going to remember you as you were this awful Christmas Day. I'm going to remember you the way you were on Thanksgiving. The way you pranced out into the snow, looking like a puppy again. Laughing your doggy laugh and munching on snow. And, I'm going to remember you, always, as my friend and companion for all of these years. Sharing so much of my life with me. Always loving me and accepting me, even with all of my faults.

The boys drew pictures of you, today. Foster's had hearts all over it, and Spencer drew spiky hair everywhere. I'm so glad they got to know you.

Our family won't be the same without you, Cos. You were a good boy. A good, good boy.

We love you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sometimes you just need your Mom and Dad.

I have learned, over the years, that no matter how competent and in control and grown up you may think you are...sometimes, you just need your Mom and Dad. Even at the ripe old age of 42. Nothing else will do.

So, I have spontaneously decided to pack up the boys and a bunch of their toys to make the long, long drive over the mountains to see my folks. (Hoping, hoping, hoping the pass will be clear, and I won't have to go out in a blizzard to put chains on the tires, like the last time I made this trek in the winter. Yeah, the 8 hour trip that turned into 12 hours. The very same trip in which my boys ended up peeing in the car, because we were stuck in the mountains for so long, and I burst into tears of relief the second I arrived in our driveway at home. Wait a minute...Why am I dong this, again?) Well, hubby has to work his crazy hours all week, anyway, so it's not like we'd be spending any time with him until Christmas Day. I'd just be doing the usual single Mom thing all week long. So, I called Dad, yesterday, to ask if he and Mom would like a last-minute, pre-Christmas visit from me and the little guys.

The minute he said "Hello", I felt like I was about 10 years old again. "Hi, Dad." Hearing the tremor in my voice, he simply asked, "How are you, honey?"

This, of course, turned the tremor into something that probably sounded a little like a cross between sniffling and whimpering, as I struggled to keep it together.

What I wanted to cry out was, "Dad, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE can I come home and just be a kid for a little while again, and you and Mom can take over? I'm so exhausted and empty and discouraged, and I just need somebody else to take the reins for a little while, so I can rest."

Instead, I said, "I'm OK, Dad. I'd just really like to come home for a few days. Would that be OK? We could make it a surprise for Mom. She'll be so excited."

Thus, the plan was set.

I'm so excited. I'm going home. And, for just a few days, there will be somebody taking care of me, for a change. I won't have to do all the cooking. I'll be able to take a nap or two, and maybe even take a bath... I'll take long walks and play in the snow with the boys and my Dad, while my Mom is at home making something warm and yummy for us all to have when we get back. I'll spend at least one full day in my pajamas, letting the boys watch all the cartoon channels we don't have at our place, drinking spiked coffee, and playing cards with my Mom. After the kids are in bed, I'll relax by the fireplace, just talking and laughing with my folks... I'll get filled up again. With love. With optimism. With my usual zest for life.

I can't wait.

If only I could get there without having to drive...


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thank goodness for Scooby Doo and PB&J!!!

You know how sometimes, when an enormous weight has finally been lifted off of your shoulders, it leaves you completely depleted? Or, how about the times when you've had such a stressful day (or week, or year) that you look at the sink that's packed full of dishes and the overflowing laundry and just walk away from it all, simply too exhausted to deal with it? Or those times when you are SO dog tired just from juggling work and motherhood and marriage and doctor's appointments and dentist appointments and bills, etc., etc...that you can barely move? The times when you drag yourself through the door, kids in tow, and know that you somehow have to summon the energy to at least feed your hungry children, even if you can't even summon the energy to take off your own shoes? (Mine are still on, by the way.)

That's when I say, "Thank goodness for Scooby Doo and PB&J!!! A weary Mom's best friends!"

So now, I kick off my boots, pour a glass of red, and try to remain semi-functional until the boys have had their baths, read their stories, sung their songs, and are headed off to Dreamland.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town...

Conversation with Foster in the bathtub:

"Omigosh, Mom. You are NEVER going to believe this!"

"What, honey?"

"I found out that some of the kids in my class don't think Santa Claus is real! Can you BELIEVE that?!!!" (This said in a tone of such incredulity, that it was all I could do not to bust out laughing.)

"Really? Well, what did they say?"

"It's SO silly, Mommy!"

So, tell me."

"They think the Moms and Dads are getting all the presents! Bwaaa haaa haaaaa!!!"


"Yeah. Giggle, giggle, chuckle. There's no way that could ever happen! How could Moms and Dads get all the presents under the tree by Christmas? They don't have Santa magic! Giggle, giggle."

Leaving me to wonder....Is my little guy going to need therapy for this some day?

Still, I'm happy the magic is alive and well for my boys. Harsh, cold reality is just around the corner, so let's keep as much magic and light and laughter around as as we can, right? Happy holidays.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

You're a mean one, Grinchy - Grinch!

I just came from the grocery store. I could probably just write that one sentence, and that would be enough. I mean, anyone who has set foot in any sort of store since Thanksgiving knows the significance of those 7 words. "I just came from the grocery store." Translation:  "Someone please pour me a huge glass of wine, right friggin' now!"

Why? Because the stores are packed full of Grinches. They may not be green, but they're surly, with mouths pinched tightly closed, brows drawn together into deep scowls, and lips drawn up into nasty sneers. They come in all ages, shapes, and sizes, but the expressions are always the same. And, they move lightning-fast, these Grinches, closing in on their desired purchases with a hunter's instinct. Using their baskets and shopping carts as weapons, knocking aside small children, exhausted Moms, and other Grinches in their effort to beat the competition.

As joyful holiday tunes fill the air, these awful people run over toes, snarl at harried cashiers, snatch objects right out of the fingers of innocent people who came into the store happily whistling along to the music, and now just wish they could go back in time and stay home, even if it means that they have to live without bread and milk until 2011. Today, I observed a 50-ish woman, dressed head-to-toe in Christmas wear, from her red and green sweater with the snowman on the front, to the snowflakes dangling from her earlobes (how jolly!) speed up, almost to a jog, so that she could cut right in front of a little old couple who were making their way into the checkout line with about 3 items in their basket. She swooped in ahead of them to begin unloading her own, overflowing shopping cart. The young, exhausted-looking cashier looked up at her and said, "Hello, how are you?" The Grinch-Woman didn't even acknowledge her. This woman, like so many other holiday shoppers, in their annual quest to fill their houses with goodies and to lavish their loved ones with gifts, demonstrate the ultimate in selfishness, egocentricity, and just plain Grinchy-ness. Ahhh, the irony...

I hope they accidentally sit down on the spiky end of a holly bush.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The great Christmas card mystery.

Last year, I only got half-way (or maybe one third of the way) through my Christmas card list. I tried, I really did. But, life was extra crazy last year, what with the do-it-yourself kitchen remodel project that just wouldn't end, the water damaged floor, and other insanity, loaded right on top of the general chaos that comes with living in my household. Anyway, I never did get those cards out.

This year, I vowed things would be different. So, I have actually mailed at least 90% of my cards. (Cue the applause, please.) Yes, I'm feeling pretty good about it. I couldn't find a single decent picture of all four of us together to actually put on the card, but I managed to get some cute individual photos on there, order copies, pick them up, write a yearly update letter, and send them out. I put my husband in charge of his side of the family, this year, so there's a good chance that they may never get their cards, but that's on his shoulders this time around...I'm letting go of a few things.

So, now that they're out, I just get to eagerly anticipate all of the Christmas cards that will be coming our way. I love seeing the photos of distant family, friends and their kids. I love reading the update letters and hearing all about their adventures. All of the cards get hung up around the doorway. It's great. Festive and fun. I look forward to it every year.

Then along came the mystery card.

It was addressed to our family, from a town nearby. It has a cute picture of some really adorable kids. The problem? We have NO idea who it's from. We don't recognize the last name. We don't recognize the names of the kids. We don't recognize the address. We don't recognize the picture. Absolutely no idea. I asked the boys to look at the pictures, in case it was from somebody in one of their classes. Nope. I asked hubby to check at work to see if it came from someone there. Nothing. I asked some of my friends if they knew who it was from. Nada.

So, I'm hanging it up on the doorway with the rest of the cards. Why not? The kids are really cute, afterall.

Feliz Navidad!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A few burning questions about husbands, kids, life, and such...

1. Why would my husband rather spend all day in the dark than open the blinds to let in a little light? Is it a "Man Cave" thing? Does he not notice that it's dark in the house? How can he just happily go about his business, knowing that natural light is waiting right outside the windows, just a few feet from where he's sitting/standing/eating/watching TV/playing video games/drinking coffee?

2. Where's Robin Hood, when you really need him, huh? I mean, look at the state of our country (if you can do so without bursting into tears or spontaneously combusting). What we really need is a hero to come riding in on his horse, take some of that money all the super-rich are hoarding (and continuing to somehow earn and earn and earn, even while the rest of us hard-working folks are victims of this endless recession) and distribute it a little more equally to the people who need it the most. And, he can do it all while being charming, witty, intelligent, and still finding a little time to make merry. Sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? Oh, wait. Maybe President Obama is Robin Hood...Perhaps he just needs a bow and a quiver of arrows. Or a horse. Or a few less horse's asses in Congress.

3. Why do boys, of all ages, think farting is so funny? I mean, they seem to actually come out of the womb thinking flatulence is hilarious. It's gas coming out of your rear end. And, sometimes it stinks. Call me crazy, but I just don't get it.

4. Why do husbands say things like, "I made plans for us, honey. Can you figure out somebody to take care of the kids?", and then wonder why their wives want to smack them upside the head instead of leaping for joy at their romantic gesture? I hate to break it to you, guys, but we don't exactly feel swept off our feet, when we still have to arrange for childcare. Walk over to the phone list and call the babysitter yourselves! Now, THAT would be a romantic gesture! THAT would pretty much guarantee that you'd be getting some extra lovin', if you know what I mean. Extra. Special. Lovin'.

5. Why do so many smokers think that throwing their cigarette butts onto the sidewalk (or out the window of their car, or in the park, or next to some little kids' playground) isn't actually littering? I know, I've ranted about this particular topic, before. But, it's not like it's getting any better, right? A cigarette butt just hit the windshield of my car this afternoon, after being tossed out the window of the car in front of me. Anyway, would these inconsiderate folks feel the same way if I dumped, say, all of my used kleenex in their front yard? "Oh, relax. It's not really litter. I just used it to clean boogers out of my nose. Boogers are biodegradable, right? Surely you don't mind me throwing these in your front yard, since you just dropped your cigarette butts all over the public sidewalk where my kids ride their bikes. Right? I mean, it's a free country, right?"

6. Since religious groups are so involved in making policy and promoting home-grown, hand-picked politicians these days, in spite of the founding father's wise regulations regarding separation of church and state, shouldn't they be paying taxes, just like all the other businesses? And, if you think about it, if churches paid taxes, wouldn't that pretty much eliminate the deficit right there? Hmmmmm....Oh, and I can't claim any sort of personal brilliance for this sentiment, because I've seen it on bumper stickers and magnets. But, think about it. We all know, regardless of our personal religious beliefs, that religion, in all of its forms, is big business. Think how much really productive money could be generated, if they just bucked up and paid taxes? Talk about really supporting your neighbors, eh?

7. How come the minute you feel like you're finally getting ahead of your bills, your car breaks down, or your roof springs a leak?

8. What did I ever do to deserve such wonderful parents, amazing kids, a patient partner who continues to love me, steadfastedly, through good times and bad, supportive friends, a career I feel passionate about, an inquisitive mind, and a life that has been rich in laughter and love and adventure? I am so lucky!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Man, I really hope karma is real!

Spoiler alert: This is just going to be a total rant about the jerks of the world. That's it. Nothing to do with being a working Mom, or the perils of raising two little boys, or the endless challenges of marriage and life and such....Nope. None of that. Just a full-on vent about a--holes. Why? I'll tell you why. Because sometimes you just. can't. take it. anymore.
When people say, "Don't worry. That guy is a total jerk, but Karma's a bitch. Just you wait. He'll get his due someday! You reap what you sow." -- Is that really true? Or, could it be that we just say that to ourselves, so we'll feel better about watching so many butt-heads walking all over other people and then getting rewarded for it?

Does the guy who sees you (I'm talking, actual eye contact here) waiting for a spot in an icy parking lot, with your signal flashing and your little boys in the back, and then chooses to cut in front of you and whip his truck into the spot really get what's coming to him? Please say yes! C'mon, just say it to make me feel better. Does he get a flat tire on the way home? Does a rock hit his windshield and shatter it into a million pieces?

How about the people who let their yappy dogs outside at 6am every Saturday and Sunday morning and then let them bark and bark and bark, waking up the whole neighbrhood and not caring about how many exhausted, hardworking people are being woken up by their obnoxious pack of hounds? Where is the karmic justice there? Do they start growing thick, black hair in places hair shouldn't grow, perhaps?

Or, how about the people who get everyone else to do all the hard work, and then spend all the free time that creates kissing up to the bigshots, so that they're out in front for promotions and recognition, even though they seldom actually do any work? Do they wind up with scabies or chronic, painful gas or something like that, just to bring balance back to the universe?

And, what about the "mean girls" who grow up to be "mean women"? Do they gain a hundred pounds and find themselves married to lazy, good-for-nothing partners, who make them feel as bad about themselves as their own victims have felt after being tormented and bullied by them?

What about the people we see on the news (or sometimes in our own neighborhoods) committing fraud? The ones who say they're too disabled to work and then get the government to fund their house projects or luxurious vacations? Are they stricken with intense insomnia, because they are racked with guilt during their trips all over the world, knowing that it's being funded by money that could be offered to someone who is, say, stricken with cancer or genuinely too disabled to work?

SOMEBODY TELL ME KARMA IS REAL!!! Of course, if it is, I'm about to get some kind of smack-down from the universe for writing this long, negative rant. Oops...


Friday, November 19, 2010

The Great Stuffed Animal Debacle

Around here, when Christmas is coming, that means it's time to purge old toys, before new ones arrive from Santa. Why? Partly because our house contains four humans and two dogs packed into 1150 square feet with no storage. There are only so many toys we can handle. But mostly because I don't want my kids overloaded with toys, and I want them to learn empathy and compassion by donating toys that aren't used so much anymore to kids who might not have any. So, last weekend was "purge time". Honestly, much of the purging is done by me, alone, while the kids are distracted. There's the donate pile, the consignment pile, and the trash pile, and lots of toys that my boys have forgotten all about simply disappear into one of those piles without them ever knowing. But, I also want Spencer and Foster to be an active part of the process, so they can wrap their brains around this whole purging idea. So, last Saturday, I told the boys to get all of their stuffed animals (I'm thinking there are at least 40 of them) and take them into the living room, so they could figure out which ones they were going to donate and which they would keep. All seemed to be going well, as they gathered an entire zoo's worth of animals and took them into the living room.

That's when the sobbing began...

I was in their room, purging away, when I heard the most heartbreaking crying coming from the living room. Thinking that one of the boys had impaled his brother with some sharp object, I dashed down the hallway. What did I find? Stuffed animals all over the place, Foster sitting against the couch with a blank look on his face, and Spencer lying, facedown, on the carpet, sobbing his heart out.

"Spencer, what happened? What's wrong?!!!" I asked, rolling him over to check for bleeding.

He looked up at me with the saddest eyes I've ever seen, tears streaming down his face, chest hitching with sobs, and woefully cried, "I don't want to give ANY of my stuffed animals awaaaaaaayyyyyyy........."

It was all I could do not to laugh. Such drama! Nonetheless, my oldest son was sincerely devastated at the idea of having to give away any of his stuffed animals. So, I hugged him, grabbed him a kleenex, and decided to negotiate.

"OK, honey, just relax. I'm not asking you to give away your favorites, or anything. Let's just give away some of the ones you never play with anymore, because there are kids who don't have any stuffed animals, and they would really appreciate having an animal to love and to play with, OK? So, let's have a look here. What about this big, yellow bunny rabbit? You guys never play with this one."

"Mommy, how can you even say that????" More sobbing. "That's the very first easter bunny (sob) Grandma ever gave me!!!" (sob, sob, sniff, sob)

"OK. Well, how about this duck flower thingie? You seriously NEVER play with the duck flower thingie, right?" (It's some sort of flower with a duck face in the middle. Don't ask.)

At this point, Foster piped in with, "I'd be OK with getting rid of the duck flower." Sweet boy...

Then, Spencer, in a tone of voice which insinuated that I was some sort of nazi terrorist said, "But he'll be lonely! He won't have a friend to be with!"

Not to be outdone, I replied: "Well, then. Let's pick a friend for him, so they can be together."

So, Spencer spent what seemed like about 20 minutes poking through his animal pile, and finally came up with a companion toy for the duck flower.

"All righty then. Let's donate the duck flower and his friend."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! His friend is Bubba. You can't donate Bubba. I LOVE BUBBAAAAAAAAA!!!!!" (Wailing, sobbing, sniffling, crying.)

What followed was a total fiasco of bargaining, negotatiating ("Mommy, you let me keep Tu Tu the alligator, and I'll give you two army guys and a bouncy ball, OK?"), whining, pleading, the rendering of the historical background of every single stuffed animal in the house, and endless sobbing. By the time I gave up, there were exactly three stuffed animals in the donate pile. A tiger puppet, which both boys agreed to give up, and two stuffed animals that, technically, belonged to me. The rest went back onto the boys beds.

It must have been about midnight, when I heard muffled sobs coming from the bedroom. Of course, I did what any self-respecting exhausted mother should do -- I woke up the hubby and told him it was his turn to see what was wrong. I heard murmuring and sobbing, and then John came back in the room.

"Beth, did you give away Nick?"

"Who's Nick?"

"I don't know. Some wolf toy that Mom and Dad gave you after your surgery."

"His name is Nick?"

"Yeah. Apparently Spencer named him, and he begged me not to give him away. He's really upset."

"Of course he is." Sigh. "Whatever. Tell him we'll get Nick out of the box tomorrow, OK?"

"OK. And, there's some tiger puppet that got donated too. Do you know anything about that?"

"Aaaargh!!!" (Yes, something that sounded JUST like that actually came out of my mouth.)

"I GIVE UP! Tell him we'll get all the animals out of the box, tomorrow."

Thus ended, what shall forever be burned into my brain as "The Great Stuffed Animal Debacle."

Until next year.  Sigh.

Happy Holidays!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

When you wish upon a star...

Now that song is stuck in your head, isn't it? heh, heh...

Last night, as per usual with my husband's insane work schedule, he wasn't going to arrive home until after the boys were already in bed. So, he called to say "goodnight" to the boys. Spence did his usual "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite, see ya in the morning" routine and tossed the phone to Foster. I went into the kitchen to start another endless cycle of cleaning...

A few minutes went by, and Fos still hadn't shown up with the phone. So, I went back to our bedroom to see what was taking so long. It was FREEZING in there and no sign of Foster. I came around the corner and saw the door to the back deck wide open, cold October air blowing in, and I heard Foster's voice.

"Daddy, it's the biggest star EVER! I'm pretty sure it's Jupiter. Yeah. Jupiter. Uh-huh. I'm serious, Dad. Look at it. Can you see it? See it?"

I peeked around the corner, and there's my youngest son, standing in his bare feet, staring up at the sky, with the phone held way out in front of him, pointed at the stars.

"Do you see it, Daddy?"

That's when I piped in. "Sweetie, Daddy can't see through the phone, so why don't you just tell him about it."

"Oh, hi Mom. OK. Hey, Daddy, I made a secret wish on the star. D'you want me to do a wish for you too? You do? OK, whisper your secret wish to me, and I'll do it for you."

I was still standing there, shivering. So, Fos looks up at me and, in an extremely polite, sweet voice says, "Um, Mommy? Can you please give us some privacy and shut the door? This is Daddy's secret wish, so nobody's allowed to hear it but me, 'cuz I'm doing it for him."

How cute is that? Seriously. Does it get any cuter?


Thursday, October 14, 2010

How is it possible to feel so lonely, when you're never, ever, EVER actually alone?

I think that motherhood can be a wonderful "club." Especially when the kids aren't mobile yet, and you can cart them easily to "playdates" that are really nothing more than an excuse for the moms with babies to get together to drink coffee (or wine). And, when the kids are small enough that they aren't in school yet, so there are more opportunities to get together with other moms to share stories and to laugh and to get support from others who are going through it (and to have more wine)...

I also think that motherhood can be lonely. Incredibly lonely. You wouldn't think it would be possible, when most mothers can't even pee or take a shower by themselves, without one kid or the other barging in with a need or a want or a "Mommmmmmmyyyyyyyyy........Foster broke my invention!" or "Mommmmmyyyyyyyy....Spencer hit me in the neck!"

I mean, if your house is anything like my house, you're never alone for a minute. You leap out of bed, heart pounding every morning, go through the frenzied, frantic, chaotic morning routine that somehow ends up with your kids in their respective schools/daycares and you at work, just in the nick of time. You work all day, then you reverse the situation and, with no time to stand around shooting the breeze with your co-workers, you race out of there to go through the frenzied, frantic,chaotic afternoon routine that somehow ends up with all of you back home, more or less in one piece. You take care of emptying backpacks, reading agendas and notes from the school, listening to the messages on your answering machine, advancing the endless laundry to the next cycle, and then try to squeeze in a few minutes of "fun" time with your kids, before it's time to make dinner. Then it's bath time, story time, songs, and, finally, finally, your kids are in bed, leaving you feeling guilty about being relieved that your children are now unconscious and, therefore, not demanding anything from you. Then, it's go back out to the kitchen to make the lunches for the next day, to set the coffee maker so you'll have that invaluable morning infusion of caffeine, clean up the kitchen, throw enough toys in their respective baskets to clear a path for walking, pet each of your poor, neglected dogs on the head, at least once, just to relieve the guilt you feel for not taking them for a walk AGAIN, push the unpaid bills to the side of the counter, and then collapse. You're alone. The house is quiet. But, by then, you're too exhausted to appreciate this moment of silence and calm, and, as the case usually is in my house, that's right when hubby finally arrives home from work, all full of energy, wanting to talk or watch T.V. or something...After all, the work is already all done. The kids are asleep. He's got nothing to do but talk or watch T.V. or something... And, all you want to do is escape into sleep, because you know you have to start all over again in just a few short hours, and you can't even imagine how you're going to get through another day.

So, you're never really alone. And, yet, there's loneliness. There's the feeling that you're in this all by yourself. That nobody else is feeling as overwhelmed or frustrated or exhausted as you are. That all those women who have partners who are home for dinner every night and home all weekend to help with the parenting, or who have mothers or mothers-in-law who live in town and pop over to take over with the kids once a week or bring over dinner (just because), or who have neighbors with kids the same age and offer reciprocal babysitting services, so you can actually go out on dates with your husband (imagine that!) or get your grocery shopping done, or just have a half-an-hour to yourself, or go to the gym...  just don't get it. And, you want to say "Please, just live my life for a week. Just for a week. Or maybe 48 hours. Then, you'll understand, and I won't feel so alone, anymore."

But, you don't say it out loud. You deal with it. You go on. You tell yourself that there are other moms who have it much, much worse than you, and you count your blessings. And, you try as hard as you can not to feel envious of the moms who have it much, much easier than you (especially if they are friends you love and miss), because envy is a nasty, horrible, destructive feeling that doesn't do anybody any good and just leaves you feeling ungrateful and whiny and unappreciative of the good things you have in your life. So, you search for joy, and you remind yourself that life is fleeting, and you try to hang on to those moments of bliss with all of your might. And, you try to live your life as an upbeat and optimistic person (with only the occasional full-on emotional meltdown in the grocery aisle at Fred Meyer), because the alternative is just too depressing.

And, once-in-a-while, you send your thoughts out into the blogosphere at 4:30 in the morning, because you just have to get it out, and because you're hoping that someone out there will read your words and will understand. Because then you're not really alone, afterall. Right?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

School Bus Trauma #2

Some of you may remember the original school bus trauma from about this time, last year. Thinking about it still makes me shudder. Well, if you can believe it, school bus trauma #2 beats that one, by a mile.

You know, you figure that when your second child heads off to kindergarten, things should go more smoothly than the first time around, when you were just a rookie, right?

Not this time.

Yesterday, I did my usual frantic afternoon routine, which consists of me flying out of my office, papers scattering everywhere, my desk a disaster, countless things left unfinished, the very second the clock reaches 3:30, so that I can make the wild trip all the way across town, cutting in and out of traffic, heart pounding, biting my nails at every red light, cursing the slow drivers in front of me, screeching to a halt at the bus stop, and leaping out of the car to stand by the curb, mere moments before the bus arrives with my little darlings aboard.

So, there I am, all excited to see my little guys. Off jumps Spencer. Big smile. Hugs. Kisses. I straighten up from all the loving, watching the other kids getting off the bus, eagerly anticipating seeing Foster's impish grin (and slightly terrified at what he may have done at school, since there's usually some sort of story involving kicking or pushing a classmate, sticking his tongue out at little girls, or saying "You're not the boss of me!" to the teacher or librarian or paraeducator, or ... wait for it ... the principal. Sigh). All the kids jump off, and I'm still standing there, staring stupidly at the bus driver.

"Are we missing one?" he says, jovially, as if it's the most casual question in the world to ask.

"Um, yeah. Foster. Little guy. Superman backpack."

The driver gets on the radio and makes an announcement:  "Foster, please come to the front of the bus!"


Spencer jumps back on the bus and says, "I'll get him, Mom!" I can see him going all the way to the back of the bus. And coming back. Alone.

"Where is he?" I ask the bus driver in a slightly shaky voice, attempting to remain calm.

"I'll call transportation and see what's going on."

He radios transportation, and I hear him talking to the dispatcher, announcing that we have a missing kindergartner. He gets off the radio and hands me a phone number.

"Go home and call this number. That's dispatch. They're radioing all the buses to see if Foster is on board. Don't worry, we'll find him."

Don't worry? Don't friggin' worry?!!! Are you KIDDING me? Have you not heard about kids disappearing? Have you not heard about the little 2nd grader who was last seen at his science fair and then never came home from school? Have you not heard about the local student whose body was just found floating in the bay? DON'T WORRY???!!!

I grabbed Spencer's hand and half-dragged him the 3 blocks home, drilling him for information the whole time.

"Was Fos in line with you? Did he get sent to the office? Did you see him go somewhere with somebody? Did he get off the bus at the wrong stop? He's your little brother! What happened to him?"

Poor Spence, completely shaken by my obvious panic, just kept saying, "It's not my fault, Mommy. I'm not in charge of him. I don't know where he went. I was with my friends. I don't know."

I called transportation dispatch, immediately, and the lady told me they were still looking into it. She put me on hold. I waited all of 3 minutes then hung up and called back. This time, I got a supervisor.

"My son is 5 years old. He's missing. He didn't get on the bus. Where is he?"

"We're looking for him, ma'am. Don't worry. Kids get on the wrong bus all the time. We'll find him and call you back."

There it was again. "Don't worry." As I envision my little boy either being driven away to Canada by some stranger who dangled candy or a kitten or a brightly wrapped present in front of him OR wandering lost and scared somewhere after getting off at the wrong bus stop OR being flattened by a speeding car as he attempts to find his way home...

Then the phone rang.

"We found him! He's on a bus going south around the lake. We'll drop him at his elementary school in about 45 minutes."

Then the tears started. Up until then, I had somehow been holding it together. Once I knew where he was, I completely lost it. Huddled on the kitchen floor with my arms wrapped around my legs, shaking and sobbing. My little boy was safe. Not kidnapped. Not lost. Not flattened by a speeding car. Safe.

I cried the entire 45 minutes.
I cried when I saw the school bus turning in to the parking lot.
I cried the second I saw him.
I'm crying right now, just writing about it.

Then I heard the story of how his teacher had told him that he'd be riding a different bus home, because transportation had changed buses for the afternoon pick-up. The teacher was just doing his job. But, all my little guy heard was "Different bus home". So, when the buses pulled up, instead of following his brother, my adventurous little Fos just picked a different bus and hopped on, happy as a clam. Then, when dispatch was calling around to all of the buses to find out where he was, Foster wouldn't answer. The driver thought he looked new, so she pulled over, went back to him, and asked him his name. He wouldn't answer. She asked him what grade he was in. He wouldn't answer. She asked him what school he went to. He wouldn't answer. Why, you may ask? Well, as he told me later, "You told me not to talk to strangers, Mommy." Thank goodness I wrote his name all over his backpack. That's how the driver figured out he was the missing child.

Motherhood is going to kill me. Seriously. Kill me.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Remember when people's eyebrows moved up and down???

I love to watch political news shows like Meet the Press and This Week with Christiane Amanpour. In fact, it's pretty much how hubby and I spend every Sunday morning. I love doing this for two reasons, really. First, I like to be informed about what's been going on around the world during the week. This is especially true, now that I've gone back to work, because I fall into an exhaustion coma after the kids are in bed every day, and I am completely unconscious by the time the 11:00 news begins. (Hell, I'm completely unconscious by 8:30 most nights. Who am I kidding with this 11:00 news stuff???) Second, I get very fired up and mad and excited about it all, and then John and I get into heated debates and discussions that remind me, for just that short, precious time, that I do have a regular brain (not just that "Mommy Brain" that we all grow after becoming mothers, so that we can keep track of the million different little details we need to manage once we have kids) and that I am capable of intelligently discussing (or at least passionately yelling about) topics and issues that are going on in our country and in our world. It's also a great reminder to John and I that we really did have lots of things to talk about before we had kids, and that we were actually pretty good at this whole conversing thing.

But, I've started to take notice of how many of the people on these shows no longer have eyebrows that move. It's actually become so distracting that I have a hard time concentrating on what they're saying. Seriously. Picture this....The extremely serious moderator talking with three extremely serious political "experts" during an extremely serious round table discussion about the war in Afghanistan. The voices are intense. The hand gestures are dramatic. Mouths are turned downward into deep, serious scowls. But nobody's eyebrows are moving! At all. Only the bottom half of their faces seem to work. It's the weirdest thing. How are you supposed to listen to the information being delivered, when you're so distracted by the strange, expressionless eyebrows and foreheads of the people who are delivering it? And, have you checked out the newscasters and the meteorologists? If you're not looking at the screen, you can tell by their voices if the story is dramatic or exciting or sad. But, take an actual look at them, and there's this weird disconnect between the bottom half of their faces and the top. It's disconcerting. Kind of creepy, actually. Like old episodes of The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits.

This Botox and plastic surgery stuff has really gotten out of hand. I mean, I expect Hollywood celebrities to eventually look like plumped-up, smoothed-out, pulled-tight, freakishly expressionless versions of themselves. That's been the norm for a while. But, our newscasters? Our political commentators? I kind've thought that they were somehow supposed to be more representative of the rest of us, you know? The regular folks with real faces that have expression lines and freckles and saggy parts in the places where saggy parts are supposed to naturally occur.

What a world we live in, eh?


(By the way: One of the reasons I think Christiane Amanpour is such a great interviewer and moderator? Her entire face moves when it's supposed to!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Really? A phone call on the VERY first day of kindergarten? Cut a stressed-out Mommy a little slack, won't you?

I'm officially starting to believe all those other Moms who've been saying things like, "Before you know it, your boys will be graduating high school and moving on with their lives." You know what I'm talking about, right? The ones that always seem to come right when you're trapped in line at the grocery store with two hungry, exhausted, whiny little boys, and you have to buy an 8 pack of Crayola brand washable markers, because that's the one school supply item you forgot to buy for the first day, and you haven't slept in 3 nights, and you know that you're going to be up most of the night doing that slide show for work that you haven't even been able to start during your actual work day, and you haven't made sustained eye contact with your husband or had a meaningful adult conversation in weeks, and you're thinking to yourself, "If either one of my boys says 'Moooooommmmmyyyyyyy' to me one more time right now, I am going to spontaneously combust right here in this grocery line!!!" ??? That's typically when some older woman with kind eyes and a sweet little smile turns around and says, "You should cherish these moments, dear, because they go by so fast." You look up at this well-meaning woman, and you want to rip her eyes out, because, at that very moment, the idea of your boys graduating and moving out, so you can finally get a little alone-time, sounds just peachy, thank you very much. You know those comments???

Well, they're starting to make a lot more sense.


Because my little Foster just went to his first day of kindergarten. Sigh.

The afternoon of his first day, I met Fos and Spence at the bus stop and was greeted with HUGE smiles and hugs and lots of stories about how much fun they had at school. And, dropping my little guy off that morning had really been a breeze. No tears this time around (mine, Daddy's, or Foster's). Fos was happy and excited. I felt genuinely happy and excited for him. Hubby and I dropped him off together and marveled at how much easier it was this time, versus last year, when Spence started kindergarten. In fact, I had planned on writing a joy-filled, optimistic little blog entry called "It's so much easier the second time around."

Then, the phone rang.
At 7:30pm.
It was Foster's new kindergarten teacher.
Calling us at home.
On his very. first. day.

Teacher: "Hi. I'd like to talk with you a little bit about some concerns I have about Foster."

Gulp. Heart starts pounding. Head starts spinning. On the FIRST DAY??? Seriously?!!!

Teacher: "I'm concerned that he may not be aware of where he is in time and space."

What the ???

Teacher: "When I took all the kids to lunch, I taught them what to do with their lunch boxes, and I really went through it with them. But, Foster somehow put his lunch box in the wrong bin. So, I pointed him down the hall to look in the other class bins, but he didn't come right back. I found him playing in the atrium. Then, when we went out to recess for the first time, I told all the kids to line up when the bell rang. Well, I counted heads, and one was missing. It was Foster. He had lined up with a different class. So, I'm just wondering if this is the norm for him, and I'm concerned."

I couldn't breathe for a second. It seemed like such a serious and significant statement: "I'm concerned that he may not be aware of where he is in time and space." It just kind of echoed around in my brain. Really? To me, it doesn't seem that strange that a 5-year old, especially a very adventurous and excited 5-year old like Fos., on his first day of school, would put his lunch box in the wrong bin and then take full advantage of being set free in the hallway to explore his new environment. It's not OK, and I fully understand that he has to follow the directions of his teacher and be safe. But, is it really that weird? It just doesn't strike me as being that odd that a kid might line up with the wrong class on day one of his very first recess, either.

But, I guess Fos was the only one who did these things.
Of course.

My little guy. The one who pushes buttons and tests the boundaries of every authority figure in his life. The one who is fascinated with everything and easily distracted by the sights, sounds, and smells of life going on around him. The one who has always headed fearlessly out to explore his world, with no need to hold hands or cling to parental legs. The one with the sparkling blue eyes and amazing smile, who gives the most heartfelt hugs in the world, and who ends every day by saying, "Good night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite. I love you more than you love me. Yes, possible!" My funny, creative, stubborn, affectionate, and totally unique little guy.

I'm glad his teacher wants to keep the lines of communication open. Really, I am. When I met him, I instantly thought that he and Foster would connect really well together. He seems to have a great sense of fun and passion for teaching. He seems genuinely interested in getting to know "his" kids. Hubby and I will, of course, back him up when he feels that more boundaries or discipline are required. And, I am a firm believer that schools and parents have to work as a respectful team to help kids succeed.

But, did he have to call on the very first day? Couldn't he have waited to see how the first couple of days played out, just to get a really good feel for how Fos is adjusting to kindergarten life, before questioning his mental capabilities and awareness? Did he not know how such a phone call might affect loving parents?

Seriously. I lay awake all night after that call, tossing and turning, (as hubby snored away) wondering if there could be something seriously wrong with Fos. Wondering if I'm going to get the call that the school psychologist has been called in to evaluate his "awareness of where he is in time and space." (That phrase is forever burned into my brain, in case you couldn't tell.) Wondering if he's going to be OK in school and successful in life. Wondering if his teachers are going to like him and understand him and motivate him, or if they're going to label him as "that bad kid who doesn't follow directions." Thinking about the middle school students I counsel every day. The ones who battle with authority or live to be the class clown or view the world differently than most. The ones who don't quite fit in. Thinking about how their parents have had to hear concerns like the one I just heard from Foster's teacher. Feeling such a renewed rush of empathy for them. Knowing that they spend many sleepless nights worrying about the children they love so much and hoping things will turn out OK.

And, so, here I am, after waking up at 2:00am. Again. Worrying about how Fos will do tomorrow, on his second day of kindergarten. Crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Hoping he has fun. Hoping he follows the rules. Hoping he makes new friends. Hoping this teacher will like and appreciate my wonderful, challenging little boy and nurture his love of learning.

Ironically, Fos woke up just a few minutes ago, crawled into my lap, and buried his little head into my shoulder.

"What's wrong, sweetie?"

"I had a bad dream."

Maybe I'm not the only one who's worried about tomorrow...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sometimes you just need life to smack you in the head to get your priorities straight.

It's been a rough couple of weeks. Organizing an orientation for 200 new 6th grade students. Nightmare. Figuring out how to help keep things running smoothly with a new principal, new assistant principal, new head secretary, new PTSA, and multiple other new staff members, all while trying not to lose my mind and be a fully-functioning and capable school counselor for the students, parents, and staff with whom I work. Not a nightmare, but pretty damn crazy. Oh, and then there's not knowing if my position is going to become full-time (please, please, please....) when my partner counselor goes on leave in two weeks to have fun, expensive adventures that I will probably never be able to have myself. That means paying for daycare we can't afford and don't even need at the moment, because we have to reserve the spots in case I get to go full time. But no one in charge will make up their mind and tell me what the bleep is going on!!! Oh, and did I mention that my little Foster is about to start kindergarten, and my little Spencer has just become a first-grader, going to school all day for the very first time? Probably goes without saying, but I'm a bit of a wreck...

So, it's Friday night, I'm shaking off the week's craziness with a big ol' glass of cabernet, while my boys watch a Tom and Jerry movie in their pj's and stay up past their bedtimes. (They are SO stoked right now!)
Frankly, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself when I logged on to do a little writing tonight. Whining in my head about how hard things are right now, how life's not fair, blah, blah, blahdee blah, blah... Just throwing a big old pity party for ME. I was all ready to bitch and moan about every little thing that's been on my mind from work drama to chronic insomnia to the insanity that has become our United States political system. Verbal diarrhea to rid myself of all the crap in my head, y'know? My own little version of self-directed therapy.

And then...

...I read a blog entry, written by this amazing woman named Kami, and it was a big, fat reminder of just how lucky I am and just how good I have it. Her best friend just lost the love of her life in a horrible accident. Kami wrote eloquently about being in the hospital, hearing the doctor's comments, waiting to see if he'd make it through the night, consoling her friend and feeling helpless to do anything substantial to take away her  pain. I can only imagine the agony these women are experiencing right now.

It was moving, heartbreaking, so completely senseless and tragic.

And, it was a great reminder that life is precious and short and can be taken away in a heartbeat. That you have to let the crap run off your back. That it's OK to whine for just a little while, and then you have to tell yourself to suck it up and to focus on the joy and love and moments of happiness that occur all around you, every single day of your life. That you have to choose to brush off the ugliness and to appreciate the beauty that is in your world.

I am so lucky. I have beautiful, healthy, imaginative, wonderful, feisty little boys. I have a husband who loves me and is my very best friend. I have an amazing family, wonderful friends, and a warm, nurturing little home. I have a job that fulfills me and challenges me and that I take such pride in doing well. My world is filled with love and laughter and music. And, I need to appreciate every precious second of it.

I love my life.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just wrong, on so many levels!

So, I'm standing in line at the coffee stand that's inside our local Fred Meyer store. (I know, I know, I'm supposed to be saving money. Whatever. It was a momentary lapse in financial judgment. I just really, really, DESERVED a vanilla latte! Cut me some slack...)

Anyhoo, standing in front of me was a very thin, extremely well-dressed, elegant-looking woman, about my age. Beside her, stood her equally thin, equally well-dressed daughter, who looked to be about 7 years old (but decked out like a 22-year old fashion model). Meanwhile, I'm in my sweatpants, Obama t-shirt, and baseball hat, thanking my lucky stars that my 5 and 6 year old boys (who are also wearing sweats, t-shirts, and baseball hats) can still visit Playland, while I do my grocery shopping and/or sneak a few quiet minutes to splurge on a latte.

Elegant Mom looks down at her daughter and says, "What do you want today, honey?"

Fashion model daughter (keep in mind that this little girl can't be any older than 7....maybe 8, tops) looks up at Elegant Mom and says, "Decaf caramel machiatto, Mommy. Don't forget to make it nonfat."

And Elegant Mom ordered it for her.

When did 7-year olds start dresing up like fashion models and ordering fancy coffee drinks, instead of skinning their knees making chalk art pictures on the driveway and having apple juice tea parties with their stuffed animals?

It's just not right....


Monday, August 16, 2010

To Love!

I really, really, really hope that by the time my boys are old enough to read these ramblings of mine, they'll come to this post and say, "Wow. It sure was different back in the old days. Back then, gay people in most states weren't allowed to marry. Can you believe that? Times sure have changed for the better!"

Crossing my fingers...

After all, for all I know, my sons may be gay. And, if they are in loving, committed relationships and want to get married and start families with their chosen partners, I want them to have the same legal right to do so that I had to marry their Dad. I want them to share in the joy we felt on the day we committed ourselves to one another, completely, in front of the people we love the most. The day we became a family. And, no, I don't believe a "civil commitment ceremony" is the same thing. If it was, then gay couples wouldn't be fighting for the right to legally marry one another, now would they?

I mean, imagine for a moment, that you are engaged to be married to the person you have chosen as your lifemate. You can't wait to be legally joined in marriage. Suddenly, a judge decrees that you can't do that:

"Ahem, sorry, folks. A bunch of other people, who will actually be totally unaffected in any tangible way by your marriage, think it's wrong for you to marry. They feel threatened by the two of you declaring your love and commitment in this way, and they're going to band together to block your right to do just that. They seem to think that it undermines their own marriages in some way. Some sort of moral issue. Could be insecurity, I'm not really sure. Regardless, we're not gonna let you get married. We will, however, let you have a commitment ceremony. It's really the same thing, so no worries, OK?"

Yeah, right. You wouldn't be satisfied with that. If it was you, you'd fight for your right to marry the person you love. And you would be right to fight.

I just don't get it. Especially when so many of the folks who so adamantly oppose gay marriage base their argument on religious principals. Whatever happened to "love thy neighbor as thyself?" What about acceptance and respect and charity and freedom and the right to pursue happiness and all of those other values that are, supposedly, also so highly valued by these same folks? I just can't believe, in our modern world, with all that has been scientifically proven about the biology of human sexuality, that there are still people who can look at a committed, stable, loving, gay couple and say, "Nope. No way. You can't get married. Sorry. You're different. You make me uncomfortable. You threaten my beliefs about marriage, so I'm gonna say NO!" These are not the dark ages, here. We're not burning depressed women at the stake for being witches, anymore. We know the world is round, not flat. Come on, people. It's a brave, new world. Let's embrace it, in all of its wondrous, and ever-changing complexity. Let's evolve!

So, to my sons, who I love more than anything else in the world...I hope you're reading this and saying, "Wow. I'm so glad the world isn't like it was when Mom wrote this post."

To love!

Friday, August 6, 2010

How come the only person in the house who doesn't actually LEAVE pee drips all over the bathroom is the only one cleaning them up???


Now, I knew it would be challenging living in a house full of boys. Being outnumbered, three-to-one. I knew it would be louder and messier than living in, say, a house where the females outnumber the Daddy, instead of the other way around. I knew it. I expected it. And, I am not so naive to think that it isn't going to get a whole lot worse, when my little guys hit puberty. (I am a middle school counselor, afterall. I have no delusions about the sights, smells, and hormonal surges of adolescence that await my little family...)

But, if I have to clean up one more droplet of pee from the toilet seat, back of the toilet, side of the toilet, floor right in front of the toilet, wall right next to the toilet, shower curtain a foot away from the toilet, or anywhere else in either of my bathrooms, I am going to LOSE IT! It's not going to be pretty. This mommy's head is literally going to spontaneously combust and then somebody ELSE will have to clean up the *@*!!@*!!* mess!

The really frustrating thing is that I've been working with my boys on wiping their drips, since the time they began to show an inkling of interest in the potty. I foolishly deluded myself into thinking that I could instill in my boys an early habit of cleaning up after their own bodily fluids. (You know, maybe try to make a difference in this generation, since it obviously didn't happen with my husband, when he was a child.) Regardless, it didn't work. Unless I am right there next to them, reminding them every single time they pee, or shouting from the other room, "Don't forget to wipe your drips!", it just doesn't happen, most of the time.

What's a mother to do??? I know that I could go on strike. I could shout to the world that I am no longer cleaning a toilet in this house. But, the truth is, that's total bunk. There's just no way I could allow my bathrooms to get to the point of pee-soaked stinkiness that all three of my boys (I'm including hubby here) would be able to tolerate quite happily. Not. Gonna. Happen. I don't want to have a house that smells like a men's locker room in a Seattle train station. I do occasionally have company, and there are some minimum standards of cleanliness and lack-of-stinkiness that should apply, don't you think?

On the positive side...All three of my boys do put down the toilet seat when they're done.

Most of the time...

I need a glass of wine.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

FOSTER: Five and Fabulous!

For Foster, who turned 5 years old just a few days ago. I hope you'll look back on this, when you're a lot older, and get a kick out of reading about yourself when you were just a little guy:

F is for "feisty." Actually, "feisty" doesn't even begin to describe you, sweetie. You are full of energy, creativity, and mischievousnous. (I'm not sure that's a real word, but it should be!) You live to make other people laugh, and you'll do ANYTHING (much to the dismay of your preschool teachers) for that giggle. You are also fond of saying things like, "You're not the boss of me!" and "You can't tell me what to do!", even when the people you're saying these things to actually are in charge, or are kids twice your size who are attempting to control you in some way. This doesn't always go over so well, in either case. Needless to say, kindergarten is going to be a really interesting experience...I'm crossing my fingers, and I will have your back!

O is for "optimistic." Here's where you really take after me -- You almost always see the bright side of things. Like me, you can have a good, juicy meltdown now and then, but you're also quick to laugh, quick to rally when things aren't going so well, and quick to cheer everybody else up with some sort of crazy face, voice, picture, or dance move.

S is for "singer." You love to sing. You remember the words to almost every song you hear. And, if you don't remember, you are really good at making up lyrics that fit anyway. You also make up your own songs, on the spot, and they're always hilarious and rhyme perfectly. You have a sweet voice, great pitch, and awesome rhythm. A natural musician, that's for sure.

T is for "tough." You are one tough little cookie. Half the time, the only way I know you're hurt is to follow the blood trail...You're always covered with scratches, bruises, and bumps, and you love, love, love to put on bandaids. (You also love to keep taking them off to see how quickly your owies are healing. As a result, I am constantly buying new boxes of bandaids!) But, you seldom actually cry when you get hurt, and you bounce right up, saying "Don't worry, I'm OK!" after falls and accidents that would leave other 5-year olds lying in sobbing puddles on the floor.

E is for "empathetic." While you are often the one who causes mischief and mayhem, you're also the first one to give hugs, snuggles, and back rubs if someone is hurt or sad. You often make me cards or pictures after you've been in time out, just to say you're sorry. And, on those days when I'm a little down, you do everything you can to give me extra loving and to cheer me up. If your brother is hurt, you rush to him and give him hugs (even when he's pushing you away). You also have a soft heart when it comes to animals. If you see an animal that looks hurt or alone, you want to make sure it's all right. You are best friends with our dog, Lucy, even though you often pull her tail or play too roughly with her. But, she thinks of you as her puppy, and you are most definitely her favorite person in the house. And, you usually run to say goodnight to both of our dogs before you go to sleep. You do it in the most gentle, sweet way. Even our grouchy old Cosmo wags his tail when you rub his neck and tell him that you love him and that you'll see him in the morning. You have a really good heart and a tender nature, and I hope you always will.

R is for "rowdy." Wow, kiddo. When you are wound up, it's like a hurricane is sweeping through here. Wait, more like a tornado combined with an earthquake, sweeping everything up into your path and whirling around the house, the front yard, the back yard...all while talking, yelling, singing, or laughing at full volume! It's pretty hilarious, except when it's happening at 6am, and I'm trying desperately to catch just a few more minutes of sleep. (Yeah, right!)

I love you, sweetie. So much. I am so proud and excited and happy to be your Mommy. You definitely keep me on my toes, challenge me, frustrate me, and drive me crazy sometimes. But, you also warm my heart, crack me up, constantly surprise me with your intelligence and thoughtfulness and creativity, and give me all the hugs and kisses I could ever want. Plus, you're the best kitchen floor dance partner a girl could ever ask for! (Favorite dancing-in-the-kitchen-with-Mommy-songs:  "I Like to Move It" from Madagascar and "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night" by the Black Eyed Peas. Favorite dancing-in-the-kitchen-with-Mommy-outfit: Curly wig with a purple and white "Cat in the Hat" hat perched on top, a scarf, and bear feet slippers. Very cool!)

Happy 5th Birthday, my amazing little guy! I can't wait to see what this year will bring...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Alternative uses for underpants....

"What do you think of our hats, Mommy?"
"Nice hats, huh?"
"You put one on, Mommy!"
"Yeah. Put one on!"
"Come ON Mommy!"
(giggle, giggle)

Did I put underwear on my head?
The world will never know...


Friday, July 30, 2010

Out of the mouths of little boys...

So, all four of us -- Spence, Fos, Daddy, & Mommy -- went swimming at the Y yesterday. Afterwards, we were crammed into one of those teeny little family changing rooms. You know the ones I'm talking about? The rooms so small that you're literally bumping elbows and knees (and every other body part) while you try to get everybody showered and dressed and out the door? It sounds a little like this:


"Mommy! Where's my flip-flop? I can't find my other flip-flop!"

"HEY, quit stepping on my underpants!"


"My bathing suit fell off the hook."

"Honey, can you hand me my bra?"

"It's not in here."

"Yes, it is. Look under your pants."

"Oh, there it is."

"MY EYES!!!!!!"

"My bathing suit fell off the hook again."

"Where's my shirt? Hey -- That's not YOUR shirt! That's MY shirt! Take it OFF!"

"I'm HOT! Why is it so HOT in here?"

"Yeah, I'm sweaty. I need to get back in the shower again."

"Who thought swimming was a good idea today?"

"Put your shorts on."

"I still can't find my flip-flop!"

"He's touching me!"

"My bathing suit fell off the hook again."

Etc., etc., etc...

Anyway, in the midst of this chaos, Fos turns to me and says,

"Mommy, what's that thing called that girls have but that boys don't have? You know? Boys have penises and girls have that other thing? What's that called again?"

Now, we've always used correct terminology in this household -- no nicknames for private parts, like Pee-Pee or Hoo Haw or anything like that. So, I know that he knows what this particular body part is called. So, I try to prompt him a little, without giving it away:

"Well, boys have a penis, and girls have a vvvvvvvvvv......" (I start making the "v" sound, to give him a hint.)

"I KNOW! I KNOW!...Girls have a VENUS!!!"

I don't know why this was so funny, but all four of us dissolved into totally uncontrollable giggles at this statement. Spencer and Foster started chanting, "Boys have a penis, girls have a venus!" over and over again, while John and I just looked at each other, helplessly laughing.

Ya gotta love kids! And, now I'm always going to think of myself as having a "venus". heh, heh...


Friday, July 23, 2010


Barack Obama is amazing. In less than 2 years, he's managed to work with one of the most divisive, immature, and politically-motivated congresses in history to keep us out of a depression and start to reverse the recession brought on by 8 years of mis-management under George W., single-handedly began to significantly undo the damage done to America's global reputation over the past 8 years under George W., pass sweeping health care legislation, reform Wallstreet to protect all of our investments, make significant progress toward repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and that's just a start.

He's amazing. Totally amazing.

So, I'll say it again: I love my President, and I don't care who knows it!!!

Congress, on the other hand, makes me want to throw up. Grow up, folks. Let's get it done!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Suncatchers are NOT for Sissies!

I kid you not. There's a reason it says "Age 8+" on those damn things. Believe it! I think it should be more like "Age 28+".  So, to all the Grandmas and Grandpas, who see a suncatcher kit and think to themselves, "I betcha my 5 and 6 year old grandsons would LOVE to make suncatchers with their Mommy!" -- DON'T DO IT! If you love the mother of your grandchildren at all, you will not buy the suncatcher kits.

Why? I'll tell you why...

Because, even if you have the most patient, creative, focused young children on the planet, you, the Mommy, will end up at the kitchen table, alone with your tweezers, finishing the suncatchers your children gave up on after 15 frustrating minutes of trying to get the hundreds of itty bitty, teeny weeny, little color beads into the various nooks and crannies of the mold. And, at some point during this laborious task, one of your children is bound to knock into the table, sending the hundreds of itty bitty, teeny weeny, little color beads flying in all directions, forcing you to start over. And, you don't dare give up on the project, because your kids can't WAIT to see the suncatchers hanging in the window, catching the light and casting rainbows onto your kitchen cabinets. They are SO excited, because Grandma and Grandpa sent them this fun, fun, project to do. They don't want to actually finish it, because it's too hard and requires the patience of a nun. But, they are desperately excited about the end result (which you will be providing). So, as much as you'd like to pick up the cookie sheet, the suncatcher molds, and the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of itty bitty, teeny weeny little color beads and and hurl them all into the can't. You must persevere for the sake of your children.


The things we do for love.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Ever had one of those days where you wake up and look at yourself in the mirror and think, "Hey. I look pretty good. Pretty. Damn. Good."??? Well, these days seem to occur less and less frequently as time marches across my face, but, this morning was one of those rare good ones.

Seriously. I looked in the mirror this morning, and I looked good. My wrinkles seemed less wrinkly. My hair looked fuller and shinier. Those strange, perimenopause zits that keep appearing on my chin had completely disappeared. Even my pores seemed smaller and tighter. Woo hoo! So, I gave myself a big smile and a mental pat-on-the-back, as I reached for my toothbrush.

That's when I realized why I looked so good...

I hadn't put in my contacts, yet.


Monday, July 12, 2010

"Hey, Mommy! Mommy! We made sandwiches. Come eat one!"

Any mother reading this right now (particularly if she is, like me, a mother of young sons), is cringing slightly at what might be coming...I swear, it's not that bad. No slugs or other creepy crawlies. No leaves, twigs, dog hair, or dirt. No items that do not actually qualify as "food"...

So, here's how it all happened. I feel like crap today. Don't know if it's something I ate, or a lack of sleep, or a summer cold coming on...Could just be that I'm going so crazy, now that I'm in my 7th week of being in a cast, that my body is just giving up and saying, "Hey, if you can't go anywhere or do anything, anyway, you may as well just be sick!" Anyway, I just woke up feeling really crummy. Headache. Yucky tummy. Overall aches and pains. So, I did what any self-respecting sick Mommy does -- I bribed my children with promises of a late-morning viewing of "Bolt", if they would play nicely for a while, while I tried to rest. Well, to my great surprise, my boys really rose to the challenge. Yes, there were a few arguments, but they resolved them on their own, without bloodshed this time, and they actually played together very well from about 7am to 10:00am, while I semi-napped on my bed. Thank goodness for small miracles!

Then, I got the call...

"Mommy! Come here!"

"Hey, Mommy! Mommy! We made sandwiches. Come eat one!"

"For real, Mommy! We cooked. You can have one too!"

Oh, boy. Wincing in anticipation of what I might find, I grabbed my crutches and headed up the hallway to the kitchen. Dum da dum dum... There, I found my boys, each holding a HUGE bag of bread, big grins on their faces. (They had used an entire loaf-and-a-half of bread!) On the counter was our block of cheese, which had been hacked into pieces with (gasp) one of the sharp knives my boys are forbidden to use without parental supervision. My visceral reaction, after checking to make sure both boys had all of their fingers, was to holler at them for using the knife without me. But, then Spencer looked up at me with big eyes and a shy little smile and said, "Mommy, I was very, very careful with the sharp cutting knife. I wanted to make you cheese and cookie sandwiches. Want one?" And Foster piped in with, "And I didn't use the sharp knife at all, 'cuz I'm too little." How could I yell at them after that, I ask you? So, a firm, but gentle reminder that they are never to use the sharp knives without Mommy or Daddy, even for surprise sandwiches, was all they got. Then, I noticed the other sandwich ingredients on the counter. Pieces of mashed up banana. Ginger snap cookies. Whipped cream. And, there was an odd, familiar odor in the air, that I just couldn't place...

"What's that weird smell you guys?"

"What weird smell?"

"It smells funny in here. What else did you use in your sandwiches?"

"Oh. That was the sauce we were gonna put on the sandwiches. But, it didn't taste good. It's in the sink."

I looked in the sink. There was reddish-orange liquid, mixed in with whipped cream, splashed all over it.

"What IS that?!"

"We told you, Mommy. It's the sauce. But, it wasn't good."

"What did you use to make the sauce?"

"This red stuff!" (Spence reached into the refrigerator and pulled out...Tabasco sauce. Yep, I have no doubt that Tabasco and whipped cream sandwiches did NOT taste good!  Thankfully, I didn't have to find out.)

So, for a mid-morning snack, today, Spence munched on ginger snap cookie and cheese sandwiches, I added some peanut butter to the mashed banana sandwich for Fos, ate a couple of bites of cheese, and forced down one bite of the whipped cream sandwich that Foster had made "...Just for you, Mommy, because you LOVE whipped cream so much! It's to make you feel better."

Needless to say, I'm still feeling crappy (especially after the whipped cream sandwich). But, I had a good belly laugh with my boys this morning, and that's the best medicine there is, eh?


Saturday, July 3, 2010

You're Six?!!! How did that happen???

Spence turned 6 years old today. Sigh. It's not that I really mind the passage of time, because it seems like every stage in my boys' lives is more fun than the stage before (with new, surprising challenges to go with each one). But, how is it possible that 6 whole years have gone by since I first held my little guy in my arms? Seriously! No wonder I'm so tired. The last 6 years have been a blur...

Now, someday, I hope my sons will read this online journal of mine, and then they'll really know how nuts their Mom was/is. With that in mind, this is for you, Spence. Just a little snapshot of you, at the tender age of 6 (sniff, sniff, sob):
  • You are in CONSTANT motion! People use words like "busy" and "energetic" to describe you, when they're really thinking "Does this boy EVER slow down?!!" Your philosophy seems to be "Why walk, when you can run?"
  • You are very, very skinny. Partly because you run everywhere. Partly because you are an incredibly picky eater! And, partly because you have a metabolism like a humming bird. You actually lose weight overnight and wake up a couple of pounds lighter than you were the night before. Then, you have to eat all day to put the weight back on. How come that can't happen to me??? Doesn't seem fair...
  • You love to play with other people, but you also need your "alone time". It's very important to you. Your favorite thing to do, when you need a little time by yourself, is to take one of my kitchen spoons (especially the slotted spoon) and disappear into your bedroom or the office with it. You have an incredible imagination, and you pretend that spoon is everything from an archery bow to a spaceship to some sort of ray gun. It's a total blast to listen outside the door to you humming tunes to yourself and making cool, mystery noises. You will sometimes play for an hour or so, all by yourself, happy as a clam with your spoon. But, you are shy about other kids knowing that you love to play imagination games with a spoon, so you won't let us talk about it when you have friends over....
  • You adore chocolate! Absolutely love it. Your birthday cake for today is, of course, chocolate cake with chocolate icing. And, you are one of the messiest eaters I've ever seen (followed closely by your Daddy). So, everytime you eat chocolate, you somehow manage to get it all over your cheeks, in your hair, and all over your lap, the table, your chair, the floor...
  • You're a really great reader. You've just fnished Kindergarten, but you're reading at a second grader's level. You're just a natural, and we're so proud of you and so happy that you love to read as much as we do! Your handwriting, on the other hand...
  • You are a world class snuggler with Mommy and Daddy, but you are very choosy about who else you'll hug or kiss or snuggle. You are not the kind of boy who just runs up and freely hugs friends and family members. You have to feel really safe and secure and happy with them before you'll just offer up your affection. We have always respected that, and we never force you to hug or kiss anyone, even family. Well, OK, we did tell you that you have to hug your little brother after he gave you a Bakugan Yo-Yo for your birthday today...
  • Right now, your absolute favorite thing to do is to ride your bike. Rain or shine, around and around and around our cul-de-sac. I think, though, that riding your bike is about to be eclipsed by riding the Razor scooter you just got from us for your 6th birthday. You are bursting with excitement about it, so I'm going to wrap this up, so we can go try it out...
I love you, peanut. Happy birthday!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Who needs "bling" when you've got string?

I have friends who have daughters....sweet, clean, relatively quiet daughters...who make their Mommies "love gifts" of necklaces and bracelets out of hand-picked colored they actually resembles jewelry, you know? Jewelry that they can wear to work and show off to their friends as they beam with pride and love...

Yesterday, my little boys, feeling full of love and appreciation (an extremely RARE feeling, that last one), decided to make me necklaces "Cuz you have a cast on your leg, Mommy, and 'cuz you made us macaroni and cheese." (If only it was this easy to please everybody, eh?)

So, they asked me to leave the kitchen, and I promised not to "peek."

Here's what happened next:

"Shhhhhh.....Don't look, Mommy!" Giggle, giggle.

Sound of drawers opening and closing, as I crossed my fingers and hoped nothing was being broken.

Loud giggling. "Give me the scissors!" (Scissors?!!!)

Sound of scissors crashing to the ground. More giggling and whispering.

"Um....Are you guys OK out there? Are you being safe?"

"Oh yeah, Mommy." Louder giggling. "You're gonna LOVE this!"

"Mommmyyyy....Where are the rubber bands?"

"Behind the balloon bag in the junk drawer." (Oh, boy!)

More giggling...more crashing sounds....and then....

"OK, Mommy. You can look!"

"Come ON, Mommy. Come see what we made!"

So, I grabbed my crutches and walked into the kitchen to view their masterpieces...

Spence put "A REAL JEWEL, MOMMY!" (translation: a marble he found in the junk drawer) to personalize his necklace. Fos used a rubberband, "'Cuz you like colors, Mommy."

I wore them all morning.

I love my boys.


Friday, June 25, 2010

As a matter-of-fact, a 42-year old woman CAN throw a temper tantrum that rivals a 3-year-old's!

Yesterday, I had yet another one of my less-than-shining moments as a mother. I know, I know, it's hard to believe that one Mom can have so many screw-ups, but cut me some slack. I'm in my 4th week of being in a non-weight-bearing cast, with a minimum of 4 more weeks to go before I can transition to "the boot" and begin months of physical therapy. I haven't had a good night's sleep since surgery (Have you TRIED to sleep with your foot in a cast?), my armpits are sore from the crutches, my knee is swollen from the knee scooter, and I can't drive, because of the cast, so I'm trapped at home all summer with two little boys who give new meaning to the words "energetic" and "busy" and are driving me crazy, saying things like:

"Mommy? Why can't we go to the park? Come on! We want to go to the park. Pleeeeeaaaassseeee?????" (Me too, kids. Then, you could entertain yourselves on the play equipment while I semi-doze on the park bench instead of trying to find ways to occupy your time at home. All day. Every day. With only one working leg.)

"Mommy...Play soccer with us! Can't you take off your cast and play with us? Daddy plays soccer with us!" (Yep. Daddy is the king of the world. The "cool" parent. The two-legged parent. Trouble is, he's hardly ever here. So, deal with it. I have to.)

"Moooommmmmmmmyyyyyyyy.....I want to go somewhere! I don't want to ride bikes in the cul-de-sac anymore. How come you never take us anywhere???" (YOU want to go somewhere? Try being trapped in the house, in a cast, taking care of two little boys. Believe me, I know about wanting to go SOMEWHERE. Anywhere. Anywhere but here...)

"Mommy! We want some yogurt. Can we go to the store and get some yogurt? You can take us to Playland. Please? Pleeeeeaaaassseee?" (You need yogurt. I need an over-priced latte and 5 minutes to myself. We're both out of luck.)

"I wish Daddy was home from work. He takes us places! Daddy's fun like you used to be." (Ouch!)

Soooo...this brings me to yesterday's temper tantrum. Even though I usually manage to view life with an optimistic eye, I admit to the occasional "meltdown". However, this typically involves me dissolving into tears in the shower, where nobody can see or hear Mommy losing it and freak out.

Yesterday was another story. Yesterday was a full-on, crying, yelling, and, yes, even throwing-of-an-object temper tantrum. In the kitchen. Right in front of my boys. Sigh. Again, here I am earning the Mother-of-the-Year Award...Anyhoo, after cleaning a filthy bathroom on my knees, (a task which has been completely ignored by hubby -- the aforementioned soccer hero -- until it has become absolutely necessary), emptying the dishwasher (usually an easy task, but much harder when you can't just walk around the kitchen, putting dishes where they go), cooking spaghetti for my little guys (because they've been eating peanut butter and jelly night and day for the last week), and taking an overflowing bag of trash out back to the trash can (a journey which now involves my knee scooter, a wheelchair ramp, steering around two lazy dogs, fighting with a back gate, twisting my body around into a position never-before-seen by any yoga teacher to get the bag into the trashcan, and then turning around to make the trip back). Again, these are tasks that I used to be able to complete in no time at all, with very little effort. Now, those same "easy" tasks take me 5 times longer and usually end up with me sweating and exhausted, with my ankle throbbing and my toes swollen into unrecognizable sausages! So, I had completed all the stuff that had to be done, put the kids' plates down in front of them, and was starting on the task of cleaning up from the spaghetti prep., when I heard this:

"Spaghetti? I HATE spaghetti!" (Since when???)

"Me too. I hate spaghetti. I want peanut butter and jelly!" (!!!)

That was it. With sweat pouring down my face, my foot screaming at me "ELEVATE ME! ELEVATE ME!", and a half-washed pot in my hands, I glared at the little boys I love more than life itself, threw the pot into the sink, where it made a satisfyingly eardrum-shattering CRASH!!!, yelled at the top of my lungs, "MAYBE YOU COULD TRY SAYING 'THANKS FOR TAKING CARE OF US, MOMMY!' INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING ABOUT YOUR LUNCH!", sank off of the knee scooter onto the floor, and burst into loud, ugly, snot-running-down-the-face sobbing. Lovely parenting there, Beth. I'm so proud.

Anyway, after about ten minutes of Mommy crying and freaking out, the situation was resolved by lots of hugs and kisses, the kids getting to watch a movie while I took a nap, an early-afternoon glass of wine (hey, it was 5 o'clock somewhere in the world), and sidewalk chalk and bike-riding in the cul-de-sac until dinner time.

And, yes, we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"When Worlds Collide" OR "Small Boys vs. Exhausted Grandparents"

I'm baaaaaack... It's been almost 4 weeks since my ankle was taken apart and, mostly, put back together again. Most of this time was spent under the influence of narcotic pain medicine that left me in a significantly altered (and frequently puking) state. Hubby said it was like having a "Beth mannequin" in the house. I just remember it as a haze of pain and throwing up and being told over and over and over again just to lie in bed. Bedrest, for those of you who know me, is just about the worst thing you could do to me. Telling me, the woman who can't sit still, to lie in bed all day, every day, and not do anything. Complete torture! And, I was too drugged up to focus on a T.V. show or read a book, so it was doubly horrendous.

Lucky for us, my parents (who deserve to be sainted for this) drove 8 hours from their home in Walla Walla, leaving their beloved cat in the care of a neighbor, and moved into our teeny little guest room/office for the first 3 weeks post-surgery, so that my little boys wouldn't have to fend for themselves during Mommy's drug-addled recovery phase. My Mom and Dad: Two lovely people in their 70's, who have completely forgotten how normal 4 and 5 year old kids behave, let alone the amount of energy required to keep them occupied. Oh, my poor, poor, exhausted parents. And, there wasn't much I could do to help them. Every time I tried to get up to do anything helpful, my toes swelled up like hot dogs, I started sweating and shaking, and I had to go lie down again. As a result, while I lay in bed, my head spinning from the medication, I got to overhear lots of semi-whispered conversations that went something like this:

"Why are those boys always picking on each other? I don't remember our kids behaving like that!"

"I know. These two can't walk down the hallway without pushing each other or poking each other. Why do they fight over everything? Our kids NEVER did that!!! What these kids need is a good spanking!"

"Why do these boys fight about eating their vegetables? They should just eat the stuff they don't like first and get it over with, instead of saving it until last! Don't they understand that?"

"That's right. And, our kids always ate whatever we put on their plates!"

(Uh-huh. Sure. Whatever you say. THEY might not remember, but my siblings and I certainly do remember the battles we fought over every toy, every game, every neighborhood friend, every treat...Not to mention the everyday teasing, tricking, and picking at eachother that was a recurring theme of our childhood...Then, there are the countless incidences of my Dad hollering, "NO HORSEPLAY IN THE CAR! DON'T MAKE ME PULL OVER, OR YOU'LL BE SORRY!" This followed, of course, by us continuing our bad behavior, Dad pulling over, and the yelling that ensued. He just doesn't remember it...As for eating everything on our plates...Are you kidding me? I remember epic battles over the consumption of mushrooms, broccoli, and various other food items, as well as a certain incident involving buttermilk that resulted in actual vomiting. By the way, we were spanked, and it didn't make one bit of difference in the amount of time we spent mouthing off, as well as tormenting and competing with one another. Hmmmm....)

My Dad's coping strategy was to deliberately leave out his hearing aids, so he could have some peace and quiet and read the paper. Unfortunately, this left Grandma in charge, most of the time, as she was the only one who could hear my boys' high-pitched little voices asking for snacks or juice or stories or for somebody to come see the slugs in the backyard. Poor Grandma. What a trooper.

Anyway, my favorite overhead conversation from the last few weeks was between my Dad and my sons during bathtime. It was the perfect illustration of the developmental chasm that exists between my folks' generation and my little boys:

Grandsons: Squabble, squabble...
Grandpa: "Why are you getting so bent out of shape? Your brother's actions aren't impinging on you!"
Grandsons:  Total silence.

Forget, for a moment, that half the grown-ups I know don't even know the meaning of the term "impinging", let alone 4 and 5 year old boys. I was lying in bed envisioning my sons thinking, "Bent out of shape? What does he mean? We're not bent in some weird shape. All we did was smack each other! What is Grandpa talking about?!!" I wanted to yell something supportive, but, to be honest, I was giggling really hard and trying to do it quietly...

Ahhh, yes. It's been an interesting few weeks...And, even though I'm not in fighting form yet and could certainly still use all the help I can get, I think we were all ready for a little break from each other. A little return to normalcy (or as "normal" as it gets around here, anyway). Mom and Dad are back at home with their cat and their nice, orderly lives. The boys and I are figuring out how to navigate daily summer life with a Mommy on crutches. Hubby's discovering that there are a lot of things I used to do that I can't do when I'm in a cast and can't drive, so he's dealing with the shock and kicking into high gear. It's all working out...

And, with a little distance between us, come the good memories from our weeks together: Grandpa and the boys hunting for crabs under the rocks at the park...Grandma reading countless stories with a riveted grandson snuggled up on each side of her lap...The whole family celebrating Foster's "graduation" from preschool...Hubby and grandparents all hopping onto our bed with me to root for New Zealand in the World Cup...Drinking margaritas in the back yard on Father's Day...Sitting on the porch swing watching the boys ride their bikes around the cul-de-sac...Yep. Good times.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, from the bottom of my heart. You may not understand my little boys' behavior. You may not agree with our decision not to spank. You may think time-outs are silly, and that our house is completely chaotic and crazy. But, you love us all anyway, and you're always there when we need you. I love you, and I hope you're resting up for your next visit in August...