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Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Early Riser...

"Hey Mom, do you have an alarm clock I can use?" asks my 11 year old son. "Sure..." I say, "are you going to get yourself up in the morning?" "Yep," he tells me. I rummage around in the cupboard and bring him the travel alarm clock. "Where do you want it?" I ask. Since he has a loft bed, I suggest putting it on the bed or right next to it. "No..., I want it across the room so I will have to get out of bed and turn it off," he says, "otherwise I might just turn it off and go back to sleep!" Wow...this kid has really thought it out!

I set the time and get it all set. "OK Mom, will you set the alarm for me?" Sure, I say, "What time?" "Better make it 4:30," he announces. WHAT? "Well, I want to get up really early, get dressed, eat breakfast, make my lunch and then play video games before school."  Uhhh...there's logic in that...but 4:30am?  "You know it's dark out at 4:30 in the morning, right?" I explain, "And that is just way too early to get up...how about 6:00?" He stares at me a moment..."How about 5:00?"  We finally settle on 5:30am and he promises not to wake me up.

I didn't sleep well that night...anticipating hearing his alarm and having to get up to turn it off. At 6:20am, my alarm goes off and I get up to see if my eldest is up and playing video games.  Hmm...not in his room...not in the playroom...I head downstairs...the lights are so bright, I have to shield my eyes. The kid has every single light on in every room. Lamps, overhead lights...BRIGHT! I stumble through the entryway, turning off lights as I go and make my way to the kitchen. His lunchbox is open and on the island...a bag of crackers and a muffin are tucked neatly inside...clearly he started making his lunch. The TV is on and there on the couch sits the eldest child...."Good morning!" I say. "Oh, hey mom...good morning," comes the reply. I look at the clock..."Hey...you know it's just about 6:30 and I am going to go wake up your brother and sister. What time did you get up?" "OMIGOSH!" he yelps as he jumps over the back of the couch, "I got up at 5:30!! I got dressed, ate breakfast and started to make my lunch...but I got distracted!!" (well..this isn't much of a shock)  He looks at me in anguish.  "It's OK," I tell him, "Go upstairs and play your video games until it's time to get ready to leave. I will  finish making your lunch." Relief sweeps over his face and he gives me a quick hug and a "thanks mom" and bounds up the stairs.

I worry about him all day...thinking how tired he must be, getting up so early. But he was fine when he came home...and he proceeded to do the early thing for the rest of the week. He decided to help me one day, by waking up his brother and sister for me...with his new trombone.   He snickered to himself as he stood outside of brother's room...and then he let go with a loud blast in his brother's direction. I grabbed the camera and snapped a photo as I heard the middle son yell, "OK, OK, I hear you!! ENOUGH!" Little sister calls out, "I am already up so I don't care if you blow that thing!" We all have a good laugh...well, not the brother who got woken up...he was kind of crabby for the rest of the morning...hey...if you can't take a joke...

I am starting to like this early morning thing the kid has going. Maybe I will get up and work out at 5:30AM...  (HA, HA, HA! Whew...good one!)  But by day five, he has pooped out. The alarm went off at 5:30am...but the kid didn't hear it. Neither did I...but Daddy did and staggered into the kid's room at 6:00, after listening to it for half an hour. By Saturday, the early morning idea is long forgotten...I am eager to sleep in...the one day I can...Of course I wake up automatically at 6:30am...as did the dog, who panted and danced around, making it impossible for me to ignore him and go back to sleep. Thank goodness I went to bed early. (well, early for me!)  And the two little ones were up...but no eldest child and no Daddy...I guess the week of getting up early caught up with him. Wonder if this is it...if it has ended...I guess I we'll see what the school week brings.  All I know is that I need more coffee!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

BEWARE: Woman with Purse!


With the start of school comes the start of band. The eldest swore he did not want to take band this year. I was disappointed...he had just received the "most improved" award at the end of last school year. He was so  happy and proud of himself! But he said he wanted to try the other courses and "take a break." Well, that lasted all of one week. As soon as the band teacher came in with all the instruments, he was wanting right back into band. He came home from school and announced, "Mom, I want to take band... you have to go to the band parent meeting tonight." (Why do I have to go to a meeting when HE is the one who wants to be in band?) But like the sucker I am...I went. I figured I better...what if Middle School Band is different from Elementary School Band? I met the new band teacher who would be teaching Concert Band, which is what my little drummer was signing up for. She was very nice and I liked her immediately. "What does your son play?" she inquired, with a hopeful look. "He plays the drums," I replied as her face fell. "I have five percussionists," she lamented, "But no brass...does he want to play the trumpet?" I explained to her how, in 4th grade, he wanted to play the trumpet...but he didn't have the lung capacity and almost passed out just from trying it. "Maybe he should try again!" she prompted. "No...I think he is set on the drums," I told her and went on to sign him up.

OK, so my purse isn't THIS huge...
As I was leaving I saw some fourth grade moms that I am friendly with. Since band isn't offered until a student is in 4th grade, I thought I would be helpful and tell them just how great the elementary band teacher is. As I was telling them how disappointed my son was when he couldn't play trumpet and how wonderful the teacher was, to help him find what would work for him...I felt my purse grabbed from behind and shoved forward. Was someone trying to steal my purse? I spun around and saw a woman sitting there with a scowl on her face, "You've been CLOCKING me in the head with that thing!" she snarled. "Omigosh!!! I am SO sorry!!" I responded. I was mortified. I had been talking with my hands and my purse was moving with me...and it is not a small purse..it is a big heavy purse! I continued to apologize profusely...to which she rolled her eyes and and looked away, not even acknowledging me...as if I wasn't worthy of her talking to me! Oh...well...that just made me surly...and before I could stop myself, I said..."well...you could have moved out of the way!" as I made a sliding over motion with my hand. (she had been sitting on a long picnic table style bench...we were in the school cafeteria) She glared at me and said..."My daughter was sitting there!" Now...I know I have a sharp tongue...and this could go one of two ways...one in which I say something very regrettable...or one in which I just leave and mumble snarky things under my breath. I chose the second way...perplexed at her reaction...and wondering why she didn't just move the heck out of the way or at least say, "Woo hoo...I'm here...!" I certainly wouldn't sit in my seat while some woman repeatedly smacked me in the head...

But now I had a new dilemma...this is a mom at school. And although I don't have kids the same age, I am sure I will run into her on the playground at drop off and pick up. I don't want any enemies...and I didn't mean to be rude...(I was only stating the obvious)...and I really was mortified that I had "clocked" her in the head...

So I went out of my way to find her a few days later on the playground. (I did see her every day and there is only so much ducking I can do) Which brings me to the place where I found myself chasing after her with an "excuse me, excuse me!" She turned and I said, "Hi...I am so sorry about the other day when I hit you with my purse!" (never in my life did I think I would be saying that line..) "I feel so bad...it was an accident!" She looked at me and very nicely said, "Oh, don't worry about it! It's OK!" Whew...I was so relieved...until she said..."I was just taken aback by your reaction." What? You mean where I profusely apologized? (I think I blurted that out loud) "when you said I should have moved over." And before I knew it, I was saying..."Oh, yes...well after I apologized and you rolled your eyes, I said that." She stared at me...what was happening? This wasn't supposed to go this way!! "I'm all about comic relief," I blustered, "Just trying to lighten things up! That's just my sense of humor!" This was not going well...and then...she said..."OH...you're so funny! What's your name?" I told her my first name...and she told me my last name. UH-OH... as it turns out she had sent me an email to invite me to a mutual friend's baby shower...whew! Glad we were having this conversation...what if I had let it go? That would be an uncomfortable shower. As it was, I wasn't carrying my purse at school for fear of startling her...

It turned out that I couldn't make the baby shower and sent her a text to let her know. Her response was classic, "I for one, will miss your sense of humor...and your purse!" OK...she and I are going to be just fine! With that one line...all is right in my mom world! I will just chalk it all up to a bad week...we all have them...In fact, I have run into her twice in the last week and she was friendly and lovely...I think we have bonded over the "purse incident".  (I did purchase a lighter weight purse...so no one should fear me now...)

By the way...a few days later, the eldest child came home and announced that he was switching instruments and would be going into beginning band. Saxophone, clarinet, trumpet...he wasn't sure.  As we stood in line to purchase his music book...he finally decided...Trombone!  Can't be any louder than drums......can it?

Monday, June 25, 2012

GO TO BED!

It's good to have your own Ninja...
It's 10:45pm and a Ninja, a Warlord and a Princess just ran through the kitchen!  Obviously, my three children  have inherited by night-owl tendencies...and while I knew it was inevitable...I really wish they would just GO TO BED! This is how it's been...every night of summer vacation thus far. I swore it would be different. I prepped them for a month before vacation, telling them that THIS year it would be different! They would be going to bed a half hour later than their normal school-year bedtime...everyone agreed...there was no arguing...so how is it that I find myself with three kids still up...playing pretend, complete with costumes, with no sign of slowing down, at nearly 11 pm?

I know it's my fault...I let them sleep in. If I can't get my quiet time after they go to bed, then I want it in the morning. I get up before them...quietly tip-toe downstairs and revel in the blissful quiet of the morning. Of course it isn't that quiet...the dog is up, scratching and licking himself and panting at me to go out. But I will take what I can get. I am getting a little quiet time right now, come to think of it. With the husband watching the baseball game he recorded and the three kids upstairs slaying dragons...I actually have time to think....
Not really...they are loud as they argue who's castle they are in, who is saving the princess, who is the bad guy...

Yes, those really are our lunchboxes!
I don't know what I am complaining about...I have been dying for summer vacation to get here!  No getting up early and driving the kids to school! No plans...no agenda...no homework or projects. No making school lunches...my most-hated task ever! I hate it so much that I calculated just how many school lunches I will make over my lifetime...not counting what I have already done...In the fall, I will begin my journey of making 6,860 school lunches!! NOOOOO! And really, if you count what I have already done over the years...and I did...3,675 lunches...for a grand total of 10,535! Yikes! Really? Wait a minute...sometimes the kids get hot lunch...whew...I feel so much better...that number is just too daunting and I am starting to sweat just thinking about it!

So here I am, thinking that I have it made...because I don't have to make their lunches...but wait...I do! I realized on the first day of vacation, that not only do I have to feed them breakfast and dinner, but they want numerous snacks, lunch, and after dinner, dessert! And the little one is a bored eater...which means, when she is bored, she wants to eat! (I worry about that girl!) The good news is that the oldest asked if he could cook dinner. Well, this is a happy surprise! What? Help me out? Learn something new? OK! I immediately picture he and I browsing through the cookbook, meticulously planning a meal...doing the shopping together and then leisurely cooking together. "How about I make macaroni and cheese?" he says, popping the images in my head. "OK.."  He looks in the refrigerator, studying the contents..."I'll cook this ham too," he says, pointing at the ham steak on the shelf. "Make that ravioli's and ham with rootbeer floats for dessert." So much for my meal planning. "Why the sudden interest in cooking?" I ask. "Well, I don't want to get to college and be living in my apartment and eating cold cereal and popcorn all the time!" Can't argue with that logic! Glad he is planning ahead!


(from the web...but ours looked like this!)

Since her brother tried his hand at cooking, the youngest wanted to have her own try at it. She announced that she would be making breakfast for dinner:  sausage, pancakes and scrambled eggs. She couldn't pick something that can be microwaved? Luckily Daddy was home to teach his daughter how to make pancakes! I am not good at it, nor do I have the patience to teach the art of pancakes to a demanding 6 year old! I would have definitely had to break out the cooking sherry! The next day, the middle child said he was making dinner. He is very ambitious...shrimp tacos, quesadillas, beans and rice...it took a lot of help on my part...but I am thinking that in the long run this is going to pay off! So far they have each cooked two meals...and have decided that for now on every Monday - Wednesday, they will be doing the cooking. The husband and I are responsible for the other four days... that's fine with me...now if I could just get them to help in the housework...

(Dust bunny creation from the web)
UGH...the housework...I have been seriously neglecting the housework. With all three kids at home, I find it nearly impossible to get anything done...it's like trying to brush your teeth while eating  Oreo's....impossible! Last night, the middle son was laying on the ottoman, watching TV. As he lifted his sock-clad foot up, he had a huge ball of dog fur attached. "Ewww...MOM!" he yelled. I looked over as he picked it off his foot and threw it on the floor...."you really need to do something about this, Mom," he tells me. Really? I think maybe it's time to teach my child how to use the swiffer thing to get dog hair out from under the couch! We could make it a game...whoever finds the most dog hair and dust bunnies and makes something creative out of them, wins!

Let's see...I have them cooking...I'll get the middle son to do the floors...now if I can get the little one to clean the windows and the oldest to do the dog's poop scoop, I might just have the summer I've been dreaming of! Whee!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When Bangs and Eyebrows are Estranged

So, I have been dealing with a serious hair/eyebrow issue for the last month. And I would have written about it a month ago...but I didn't want my friends who read my blog, to stare and point at me...I had to wait until things grew out before I could point out the obvious...

I went to get my hair cut and colored... It had been three months...I couldn't wait any longer...I was starting to look like a cross between a skunk and a homeless hippie. Either look isn't good...while at the salon, I asked the gal if she could do my eyebrows.  They were starting to look like caterpillars.."I just need the stray hairs at the bottom removed," I said.  She grabbed the hot wax and got right to work. As she was about halfway through the left eyebrow, she said, "Hang on a second, I need my glasses."  "Glasses?  She needs GLASSES?" I screamed in my head...She slipped on her glasses and made quick work of the next eyebrow..but then she lingered...and went back to the first...and then back to the other one. I started to feel uneasy...it shouldn't take this long...something is wrong. But when I looked in the mirror, they looked OK...way too thin...but OK...

(photo from web)
It wasn't until I got out to the car and looked in the visor mirror, did I see the horror, that used to be my eyebrow! "Omigosh! What have I done?" Not only were my eyebrows painfully thin, but half the left eyebrow was missing...and not the good half...the half you want! So now my eyebrows are really wide apart, because the left one starts at about the middle of my eye! Well, I couldn't go anywhere like that, so I came home to take a shower and add some eyebrows.  I used my really cool eyebrow powder, complete with wax that gives them texture...but when I looked in the mirror, it wasn't good. In fact it was so bad, it was funny. So I came out to show the husband, just how silly I looked, "I have ANGRY EYES!" I announced! Sitting on the couch, he looked over his shoulder at me...he stared for a moment and replied, "You look surprised! Are you surprised to see me?" ARGH! He wasn't supposed to agree with me!! So here I am, a cross between Mr. Potato Head from Toy Story and a woman who just used too much botox in her forehead, leaving her with a perpetually surprised look.

(web photo)
As if it wasn't bad enough, I realized that my bangs were too short. I  tried to finesse them down to meet my clown-like eyebrows...but they will not cooperate. It's a double edged sword. If I sweep them to the side, they look halfway decent...but then my eyebrows are obvious... Of course this all happens when I have major events going on. Fundraisers, First Holy Communion, company on the way. I am dying over the photos of me. My bangs make me look like I am five years old...and my eyebrows just look silly! I may want to hide those photos...

My self esteem has really been taking some hits lately... Last week, I had on a camisole, with a sweater over it. Perfect for the cool morning...but not so great when I went to pick the kids up from school. I kept the sweater on until I got home...and shed it at the door. I had planned to go upstairs to change, but hadn't made it up stairs yet, when our brutally honest 6 year old looked at me and said, "Eww...GROSS, MOM!" "What?" I said, startled. "You need to change your top!" Well, now my feelings are just hurt...I thought my girl would like me no matter what my shape...and that she didn't really notice.  "I can see your bra through your shirt!" EWWWW!  Nice...and if that isn't bad enough...

I was going through the kids' school papers, weeding them out to see what to keep and what to throw away. I came across a really cute art project done by the middle son...at least I thought it was cute until I actually read it..."My brother is grand. He is 10 years old and has brown hair. He is strong and tall and has tan skin color. He has blue eyes." It's accompanied by a drawing of his big brother. "How cute," I think.

The next panel is about his sister: "My little sister rocks. She is 6 years old and has tan skin color. She is strong. She has brown hair and blue eyes. She is small and is loud." OK..still good...she IS loud. The last panel is of mom and dad. I anticipate the wonderful things he says about us: "My mom and dad both have tan skin color and they're both large. They have blonde and brown hair and they have blue eyes." WHOA...wait a minute...back up! "They have tan skin color and they're both LARGE?" What the heck? Really? That's what he came up with? By large, he better mean tall! Besides...if it wasn't for the THREE kids, I wouldn't have weight issues...cut a mom some slack!
The middle son's artwork

It's one thing for me to be hard on myself...I don't need any other commentary, please! The only saving grace came when I drove for the 6 year old's field trip. I was given two little girls from another class, whose driver backed out at the last minute. They were cute and polite and full of compliments. "Your mom is so nice." "Your mom is kind and funny." "I really like your mom...almost as much as I like my own mom!" And then came the best..."Your mom is so pretty!" OK...that made my day. I turned to the two newcomers..."You can ride with me on a field trip any time!"

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Open Mouth...Insert Foot!

"Open mouth...insert foot." Yes...those directions apply to me. Over the years, I have perfected this...it's quite an art form, really...unfortunately, it happens more times than I would like.

Take this example...I'm at the oldest son's baseball practice, sitting and chatting with the other mothers. We see that one of the usual faces that show up at practice is an older man with white hair, sitting some distance off with a two year old girl...they are giggling and taking photos. After each photo taken, the man shows the little girl what it looks like on the back of his camera. "Look over there!" says one of the mothers. "How cute...grandpa is taking photos of his little granddaughter!" says another. We admire the moment and then watch practice.

(art from the web)
The next day is the baseball game. Halfway through the game, I see the grandfather with his granddaughter...and being the friendly person I am, I strike up a conversation. "We all loved watching you take pictures yesterday with your darling granddaughter," I say...and then add, "It's so nice to see a grandfather having such a great time with his grandchild." "Oh," he says, "Actually, I'm not her grandfather...I'm her DAD!"  Uhhh....as I stand there stunned in silence. Crud! "What a jackass I am," I think to myself, as I hear the braying in my head. He starts to chuckle and says, "Don't worry...I get that a lot...I'm an old dad to this one." I mumble incoherently, give him a big smile, nod...and hightail it back to the bleachers, engrossing myself into the game...but not before I tell the other mothers, who howl with laughter at my faux pas. "Oh sure...they laugh at me...they all thought he was her grandpa, too," I think to myself...only to realize that while that is true...I am the only one dumb enough to say something! UGH!

I'm on a roll...I might as well go find a fat lady and ask her when her baby is due!! Which by the way, I have inadverdantly done, one time in my life! Never again...I don't care how obviously pregnant a woman is...I will never ask! I don't care if she is in labor and the baby is hanging down to her knees...I will not ask! Once is enough! That embarrassing moment is emblazoned in my brain like a scarlet letter on my forehead.

No, not  really me...found this on the web! 
I was teaching aerobics at the YMCA. One of my regulars was a woman in her 30's who would always set her step up in the back row. She wore a leotard and tights (yes, it was the 90's) and had a bit of a belly on her. She was always very careful with her movements and never went "all out". One day, after class, she was talking to another woman, who had participated in the class. The woman was obviously pregnant...looked about ready to pop. As I was putting the equipment away, I asked, "When is your baby due?" "In three weeks!" she happily exclaimed, with a huge grin. I turned to the other woman, "And when is YOUR baby due?" She looked at me with an icy glare..."My baby was born three years ago!" I stood gaping at her, red faced and gasping for air like a fish out of water. I can't remember what I said, but I remember feeling like I wanted to be invisible...wanting to just melt away into the wall. Instead, I mumbled something stupid, got myself back to the aerobic room office, fiddled with the equipment until they left and died with embarrassment. If I remember correctly, I could not face her again and traded classes with another instructor..and eventually quit teaching there!

I'm not the only one who does these things...I know that...there have to be other people who have mouths that get them in trouble! Maybe I could start a support group, and we can come together to discuss why we feel the need to say stupid things! Oh...it probably wouldn't work...we would just end up offending each other by saying something inappropriate. The good thing for me, is that once is usually enough...you won't find me saying anything to an older man with a toddler...I will not assume anything. Even if the guy is 100 years old and in a wheelchair, being pushed by a kid calling him Grandpa. I will not say a word!

It's not my fault, really. I come from a long line of blurters. My Mom used to take us to the children's department of the only Department store in our small town. The woman who worked there, had a Bristish accent. After about 5 minutes of talking to her, my mother would have a british accent too! It was completely unintentional...and she didn't even know she was doing it. But the woman would give her the funniest looks, trying to figure out if she was making fun of her!

My dad was notorious...We took a cruise to Mexico as a family one year. I was about 20 at the time.. It was my mom and dad, two of my sisters and my sister's new husband. We had a great time and in the evenings would come together for dinner. The tables were assigned seating, and our group had our own table, but not every table knew each other. If you were a couple, you would be sitting with 6-8 people that you didn't know. Each night, the man at the table next to us, would saunter in wearing a different goofy hat. He was loud and obnoxious and really made a spectacle of himself. We found him annoying and nicknamed him "Hat Man".

Yep, this is what the guy wore! (photo from web)
One night, after a particularily obnoxious night of "Hat Man", we ran into one of his table mates, in the hallway. "Hey," my dad said to him, "You sit at Hat Man's table! How do you deal with him? He is so obnoxious!" They guy levels his gaze right at my dad and says, "That's my father." Stunned. Silence. You could have heard a pin drop. My Dad quickly recovers with, "ho ho...he's a funny guy!" That was it...we could not contain it...One sister and my mom dive for the elevator before they break into the giggles. My brother-in-law and I head to the stairs and run down the next level, shrieking with laughter. I don't remember where the other sister went, but I know she was doubled over with laughter wherever she ended up! What I didn't know at the time, was that our laughter was traveling up the stairwell, and could be heard by my red-faced father and the offended son of Hat Man. Dad had some pretty choice words for us, when we all met up again...the worst of it was at dinner service the next night. Not only did Hat Man stagger in with some crazy hat...but his WHOLE table wore crazy hats...in an act of defiance to the group at the table next to them, who found their father to be an obnoxious blowhard.

Favorite story about my Dad...God rest his soul. Funniest guy who made friends with everyone he met...never met a stranger...and genuinely liked by all. But every once in awhile he would open mouth and insert foot! I learned from the best...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mom or Maid?

Please tell me that I am not the only mother who feels like her children think she is their servant...put on this earth to do their bidding. I know it's true...my mom waited on me, much of the time, and I started to feel like it was my right. Like she was put on earth to wait hand and foot on me. She must have figured it out though, because I had lots of chores and duties. I hated Saturdays...while all my friends were watching Saturday morning cartoons or playing outside, I had to clean my room. It took me all day! Being the easily sidetracked person I am...I was worse as a kid...and I couldn't just surface clean...I would find myself cleaning out drawers, when all I really had to do was straighten up, dust, make the bed and vacuum. Really explains my housekeeping skills (or lack of them) today.

As I am watching my oldest son try to clean his room today, I am sad to say, that he has inherited my sidetracked tendencies.  The fact that he doesn't want to clean his room doesn't help matters. His room needs a complete organizational overhaul, and he is not equipped to do it. Plus he is surly because he wants to play video games with his little brother. So, I find myself having to help...and I don't want to...I have other things to clean. With my Mother-in-law arriving this afternoon, there are lots of things around this house that need my attention. I do have the sneaky thought of not cleaning anything, in hopes that she will clean when she gets here, but my pride will not allow me to do that. Although I am not above showing her a cupboard or two in the kitchen that could use some organizing...

I think I am like a lot of moms...when the kids are little, it is just easier to do things for them, instead of having them struggle through it. I can clean a kid's room in record time when they are at school. It only takes me a few minutes to clean their bathroom, and I'm fast at separating out their laundry. If they try...I have to help them and it takes forever! But here I am with three kids, 6, 8 and 10...who are getting older and quite capable of handling some of this responsibility. Add into that, we are one week away from summer break...all three kids at home...all day...every day...(yikes!)...they better start helping or nothing will get done!

I used to play a "game" with the two youngest...they were about 3 and 4 at the time. I would hand them each a wet cloth and have them "hunt for spots" on the tile. Great game...and they did a pretty good job...I wonder if that will work now? Probably not...they are too smart...I can get them to set the table, feed the dog and take their folded clothes to their room. But I cannot seem to get them to put their clothes away in their room, instead of leaving a big pile that ends up falling over and getting "unfolded".

I know I have to do something...especially with the girl. She thinks she rules the roost. I laid in bed one morning, debating whether or not I wanted to get up...I turned to my husband..."I don't want to get up," I say..."Our daughter is a tyrant...and I am her bitch!" This cracks the husband up...he thinks I'm so funny...but I'm not kidding! She is so sweet and quiet at school...and so loud and demanding at home!  Not all the time...she is very caring, loving, kindhearted and wants to "help" me around the house...but sometimes...ohh...sometimes I just want to hide in the closet under the stairs with a good book and a bottle of wine! I think all moms should have a place to hide from their kids...a place they don't know about.

My goal this summer is to clear out the closet under the stairs...I can picture it now. I will take everything out, set up a light with a dimmer, put down a fun throw rug, add a chaise lounge, small refrigerator, TV, table to hold my books, a cozy blanket...maybe another chaise for a friend who needs to escape from her kids...then I will hang a thick curtain that blocks the light towards the front of the closet..stack some boxes in front of it, hang some jackets on the rod...and ta da...the MOM CAVE is complete! I can picture it now...kids running amuck through the house, husband yelling at them to be quiet...someone hits someone and there is crying and tattling...but I don't care...I'm not involved...I'm reading book three of The Hunger Games, sipping a smooth zinfandel out of my festive girly wine glass that my friend Anne gave me.

But before I can clear out the closet, we have to clean out the garage, so there is room...and to clean out the garage, I need the husband's help...there are spiders in there, after all...and I am not a spider person! (That is the understatement of the year...I am terrified of spiders!) But if I get desperate...and with the husband at work all day and the kids home with me all day...odds are I will get very desperate...I will just shove all the crud under the stairs, out into the hallway...grab a folding chair, flashlight, and book...and take an hour for myself...it's either than or do what my mom did...cup of coffee, newspaper, purse and phone and head for the bathroom! I didn't realize until I had kids of my own...my mom is a genius!!
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Oh sure, no sooner than I posted this...I was on my hands and knees, scrubbing the kitchen floor and here comes my little helper! As I sneak in to write this, she is spraying all the "spots" on the tile and scrubbing with a brush! Maybe I will be getting some help this summer after all!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Apologies From a Former Know-it-All

 Today is Mother's Day. And I want to acknowledge all the wonderful mothers in my life. I also want to apologize to most of them for the stupid things I said to them before I had children...back when I was a complete know-it-all about having kids...and yet I did not have kids!

First I want to apologize to my oldest sister. The one who started having kids, when I was still a kid. She had four boys by the time I was 20 years old...in the prime of my supreme know-it-all years. She would come over to our folk's house to visit and pull up to the curb in her minivan. As the kids would slide open the door, all their junk would come flying out. Toys, papers, crayons..you name it. I used to think, "How could someone have so much stuff in their car?" My car had nothing in it...just my backpack that I took to and from school. I just did not understand how it was possible to drive around with so much junk....oh, if I only knew then...fast forward 20 years...here I am driving around in a vehicle that looks like I live in it!  On Monday, the kids pile the car with their stuffed animals for the ride to school. On Tuesday, the boys bring books to read and the youngest grabs paper and markers. By Friday, it looks like a family of raccoons have moved into the vehicle and they've been living there for months! I'm afraid to pull up to the car lane at school, for fear of what will fall out of the car, when the teacher opens the door for the kids.

The second sister has three kids. The two oldest are only about 18 months apart. I remember when they were little, she would complain about not having time to exercise. I was appalled! "How could you not find time to work out?" She was a stay-at-home Mom after all...I mean, what was she doing all day? Watching soap operas and eating Bon Bons? I was a personal trainer and aerobics instructor at the time. Working out was my LIFE! "Work out after the kids go to bed!" I would command. She would tell me how tired she and her husband were. I just didn't get it...until now.  Here I am, overweight and in need of a workout...By the time my night owls go to bed, it's all I can do, to drag my sorry carcass to the couch. There is no way I can work out at night. Just more proof that I did not know what the heck I was talking about!

The third sister has two sons. I can't recall what advice gems I dropped on her over the years, but I am sure they were doozies. I think I graced her with all sorts of advice from how to discipline her boys to what  she should be eating. I realize now, that I knew nothing...currently, my two boys are wrestling on the floor and the youngest is jumping on the couch as I am telling them to get down and they completely ignore me. Clearly, my discipline skills are lacking!

Then there's my Mom. Raised four girls and made it look easy. I don't think we ever appreciate our mothers so much as when we have children of our own! When we were kids, we were always looking for ways to put one over on her. I can remember sneaking down the hall and crawling behind the couch, to watch TV. If we laid on our stomachs, we could peek around the corner and see it. The minute she moved a muscle, we would scramble back to bed, only to crawl out again. Now, I am facing the same situation. The kids silently creep down the stairs and duck down behind the couch, peeking over my shoulder to watch TV. Drives me crazy! I'm sorry for doing that to you, Mom. I'm even sorrier that my kids are doing it to ME!

Here is what I DO know...Motherhood is the toughest job I've ever had...and the best job I've ever had! It's not glamorous, at all, and if someone tells you it is, they are LYING! Being a stay-at-home mom is not the fun thing, I thought it would be. There is no time for soap operas, and who can afford bon bons?  Life is different when you are a mom...but it's a good different! (And I wouldn't trade it for anything!)

If my 20-something self, could see my 40-something self, she would be appalled. "What have you done to me?" she would exclaim in disgust. And I can see her point...out of shape, capri pants, t-shirt, flip flops, too-thin eyebrows and really short bangs... "This is your future, sister!" I would say, "Take a long hard look..."You think you know everything right now...but just you wait...you don't know anything about having kids...and after you have them and think you REALLY have all the answers...your kids will show you that you STILL don't know anything!"

Happy Mother's Day, Mommies! CHEERS!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I am my Mother!

It's official...I have turned into my mother. There is no doubt...I have proof. The house I grew up in, had a window in the kitchen, that overlooked the front porch. The window had blinds and curtains over it. But after we all moved out, I noticed that mom would tape the bottom of the curtain to the wall, in order to keep The Burglar from looking in. I thought she was being ridiculous...

But here I am...husband and oldest son are gone on a three day field trip...I'm not worried...I can handle it. I spend some time, checking and locking all the upstairs windows, as the kids are going to bed. Once they are tucked in, I do the same downstairs. As I let the dog out the back door, I see that the curtain over the door is gaping..."well that won't do," I think. I can just picture The Burglar looking in and being able to see me in the kitchen. I get the tape and start taping the curtain to the door, when I am hit with an extreme case of deja vu...."Omigosh!...that is just what mom would do! I have turned into my MOM!"

It was inevitable...my husband has been saying if for years. He sometimes calls me by her name, just to remind me of it. And it's not a bad thing...but I have to laugh at the things I seem to have inherited. It's not her high intelligence (she should have been a scientist or a doctor)...and it's not her ability to research and understand any topic...Nooo...I get her fear of spiders, her need to stay up late for fear she might miss something, and her amazing ability to fall off her shoes....Oh yes, I also got the much-coveted inability to remember which child she needs, and therefore must go through the entire list until she finds the right name...Yep! Those are the things I inherited...

After taping the curtain to the door, I figured I could use a little more protection from The Burglar and jammed a chair under the doorknob, just as my mother would do...  The Burglar has been a part of our family for a few generations now. My grandmother used to lock her door and say, "That will keep him out." "Who, Grandma?"..."The Burglar!"  (Eventually, Grandma put bars on all the windows and deadbolts that opened by key, on all the doors...and then wore the key around her neck...but that is another story...)  My mother would line up jars by the gate so that The Burglar would fall on the jars and cut himself...or maybe get a foot stuck in one. By the time my mom was the age I am now, she gave up on the jars and instead planted blackberry bushes, hoping the threat of those lethal looking thorns would keep The Burglar out. They were fine when my grandfather and my Dad were home...but left to their own devices...well, they had to protect themselves from The Burglar...

Now here I am...doing the same thing!  Of course...if it's the same burglar, I really have nothing to worry about...I mean, the guy has to be over 100 years old...what harm can he really do? Can he even reach the doorknob from his wheelchair? What's he going to do, come in and hit me with his cane? My house is not wheelchair-ready...so I doubt even if he could wheel himself up my driveway, he would never get over the thresh hold! And often, I worry about the second floor...but can this guy even think about climbing onto my roof? What's he going to do? Stand up, swing his cane and catch the rain gutter, and then propel himself onto the roof? Does he even have the muscle tone to do such a thing? I'm thinking that my burglar is decrepit and really no threat...But...on the off-chance it is his son or grandson who has taken over the family business, I will continue to lock windows, tape curtains and use chairs under the doorknob whenever the husband is gone.

With the husband and oldest son gone for three days...the little ones and I have been living it up! I haven't done laundry since they left! And I haven't had to run the dishwasher once! Perhaps it's because I haven't had to cook full meals. Last night, I let the kids do the unspeakable...they got to eat dinner on...gasp...the couch. And in front of the television. Talk about heaven. That earned me huge brownie points with those two. And to make it all the more exciting...they got to sleep in their brother's room...in his bunk-bed. Shhh...don't tell him...our names will be mud! But those two little ones, think it is the best thing ever!

They took turns on the top bunk...the boy the first night...the girl the second. Unfortunately for me, the girl dragged in a ton of stuffed animals, blankets, pillows and books, and really made herself at home up there. So when the eldest son and his dad arrived home 6 hours earlier than I expected...I had to lock them out of the house while I raced up to the room, throwing animals off the bed and into her room at breakneck speed.

I will admit, if Daddy were gone more than just three days, all fun would probably come to an end...because at some point, these kids must do their homework, get to karate and baseball, eat dinner at the table and get to sleep before 10pm! And as much as the two younger children love each other...they tend to get on each other's nerves if there is too much togetherness...and after a day of arguing and sniping at each other...and then staying up too late, I really just want a drink! But I am the only adult here. I must keep my wits about me! What if The (old and decrepit) Burglar really gets in? I can't rely on our ferocious (very old and deaf) dog to defend us. It will be me! And like my mother, I will grab the poker off the fireplace and with the two children in line behind me, we will creep around the house to make sure all is secure and no breech of our security has occurred.

Besides, I don't think I'm all that good at this safety stuff...I went to lock the front door and couldn't find  my keys...because really...if you want to be secure, maybe one should not leave their keys in the door...outside! "Come on in Burglar...Keys are in the door! Woo hoo!"

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Soooo CRABBY!

Ah...the quiet of a Saturday morning....I am up early enough, that I have the house to myself. Of course I have to tiptoe around and pray that the beeping on the coffee maker doesn't wake anyone...but still...to be able to sit and have some quiet time...priceless!  The afternoon is filled with BBQ's and baseball games...so I'm enjoying the quiet while it lasts...

It's been a week of rain, rain and more rain! Thunder and lightening, hail, torrential downpours...and while I love the rain (when I am not in it)...I think it has made me very crabby!  A couple of nights ago, I was SO crabby! And now, looking back, I can laugh about it...but I learned something...when I am crabby...BEING crabby is just not funny! I tried to write my blog that night...but I was just too cranky, I was afraid to post what I had written! I have gone back and read it...and it is fit to print...So here is my crabby Wednesday night:
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(picture from web)
I am so crabby! The crabbiest of all crabs! Things that normally don't bother me, are driving me nuts! Like a lot of women, I am feeling the hormonal surge that comes once a month...and it is not pretty! Everything my poor husband does, is irritating to me. I just want to sit down and watch (gasp) "America's Next Top Model" and fold clothes. Yes, I know the show is stupid...but I want to watch something stupid...and the husband is totally willing to watch it with me...which I find completely irritating.  See? He can't win tonight! I don't want him to watch it with me...he thinks it's stupid...God help him if he rolls his eyes or sighs loudly...so I am better off just letting him have the television right now... (which is making me crabbier)

At 10:15pm, I hear the boys upstairs...still awake...laughing...I know they are playing... I heard the oldest one come crashing out of his bunk bed about 30 minutes ago...so I am fairly certain he is in middle brother's bed. UGH! I hate that they are still awake, and love that they like to sleep together...so now I have to go up there and threaten them...I SO need a drink...

(Here it is...in my laundry room...still crooked)
Things seem to be breaking left and right around here. The dryer squeaks, my cute "WASH" sign in the laundry room is hanging on one nail, the switch to the lights in the kitchen are broken and I am forced to use the one fluorescent light, which bathes everything in a sickly green color....ARGHH....It is all driving me crazy right now! Every time I turn on the heater in the back of the car for the kids, there is a knocking sound...I always think it's the kids kicking the car, and then realize it's the heater...Luckily, we are heading into warmer weather, so at least that won't be an issue...but what do you want to bet the air conditioner does the same thing?

It's all too much for me right now! Everything is driving me crazy! The dog is shedding and leaves huge tufts of hair behind every time he stands up. It doesn't matter how many times I sweep the floor...There is enough dog hair on the rug, for me to rake up and build a dog. Or perhaps I could knit some bald dog a nice warm dog hair sweater! (If I could knit)

I'm still up doing laundry...the kids get to wear their "jog-a-thon" shirts every day to school. They are WHITE! UGH! Who gives white shirts to elementary kids and tells them to wear them every day? Not a mother! Hopefully next year, we can get the purple shirts and the middle school can have white. Oh wait...I will have a middle schooler next year...(I just can't win)

And really...all of these things would bother any normal person...however, I am also completely irrational right now...and I know it. The husband can't do anything right. His very presence is irritating to me. His breathing my air is irksome at this point. But he is smart. He stays in the other room, not uttering a word (for fear I will snap at him)...in fact...he is so good, that he is folding the clothes I unceremoniously dropped on the couch...

(Thank you Charles Schulz! Comic off of web)
Thank goodness for my Facebook friends who are sharing in my extreme crabbiness. I posted "Soooo crabby!" on my page tonight. Immediately my friends popped up..."Me too" said the first one. "Me three!" said the next...and on and on...until at least 10 friends said they were also crabby. Two of them are pregnant...so I suppose they have an excuse...but the rest of us blamed it on the rain that has been falling every day for a week!

My mood is lightening...after being on Facebook and reading the funny comments from my sisters and friends and instant messaging with my sister who is coming up with more reasons to be irritable, I am laughing at the whole situation. Oh, I still feel growly...and God help those kids if they come down the stairs this late at night...And the husband better cut a wide berth when he has to pass me to get to the stairs...but all and all...this too shall pass...but in the meantime...I think I will just give in and enjoy my crabbiness, knowing that my crabby friends are feeling the same way!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

NOT a Jellybean?

Halfway through spring break...a whole week of not driving the kids to and from school...no making school lunches...finally getting to sleep in...no plans. Of course I have wrecked it by getting a cold, but I am still managing to get them out for some fun. They are a bit demanding...wanting me to FEED them and all... and the boys have baseball practices and games, which is cutting into my "not having a schedule"...as for sleeping in...I'm getting some extra sleep here and there...from the kids...but the dog doesn't seem to realize we are off this week!

It's almost Easter. I love the Easter season. The colors are pretty, the decorations are so cute...I always decorate the house with all my Spring and Easter goodies. Hmm...but as I look around me, I hardly have any decorations out! "Why?" you ask? Because I could not find my box of Easter stuff. Oh, I knew it was  here...somewhere. After an extensive search of the house, I was fairly certain it was in the garage...or as I like to call it..."hoarder central". OK, so it's not that bad...it's just that I can't access the area I need to get to, because my husband has it tightly packed and the only access portal is through the big garage door...but to open it, I need to somehow get to it and unlock it...and since I have killed a black widow or two in the garage....there is NO way that I would crawl around in there! So after some subtle hints...(more like all out begging), the husband went on the hunt for the Easter stuff. He finally found it..."It was buried under everything," he told me, "I guess I thought we wouldn't need it for awhile...once a year and all." Wow...we REALLY need to clean out the garage, if that box has been buried for a year!

Actually, saying that I don't have anything Easter out, is not quite true...I am STILL finding that plastic Easter basket grass in the kids' rooms. It migrates out into the hall and gets tangled around our toes. I find it in corners and under their beds...I hate that grass. I knew better....but I waited too long last year to go shopping and that was all that was left. Not THIS  year! I went out weeks ago and got the PAPER grass...but now I am thinking maybe I should just go for NO grass...I try to fill the baskets with something besides candy anyway...so would they really notice if there wasn't any grass? The oldest would....

The one thing they can't live without is the jellybeans. I love them too...and I find them all over the house after Easter. I remember a couple of years ago when I was finding candy all over the house. I was tidying up the house before picking the boys up from school. The little one was in preschool and was already home from her day at school....

I had just cleaned up a bunch of Easter grass and candy in the kids' rooms and was on my way downstairs to get the youngest ready for departure. As I got to the bottom step, I looked down and saw a jellybean on the carpet. "Geez!" I thought, "They even have candy on the stairs!" I bent down to retrieve it and noticed it was a light lavender color..."This is an odd color," I thought to myself, "must be one of the newest flavors." I started to bring it up to my mouth...(don't ask why I am eating things I find on the floor!) as I touched it to my lips, my brain started to scream..."Not a Jellybean!! Not a jellybean!!  It's a Tick!... TICK!...TICK!" ARGH!!!  My arm heard my brain and threw the jellybean/tick across the room as I raced around the house...eww, eww, eww,  frantically wiping at my tongue. I ran to the sink and stuck my tongue under the faucet...."EWW, EWW, EWW...TICK, TICK, TICK!...by this time, the little one has taken notice of her mother running around the house screaming and asks, "What are you doing, mom?" "Oh... nothing..." I say...trying to look as normal as I can while scraping my tongue with a paper towel...

I still had to go find the tick...and was holding out hope that it really was just a jellybean. I mean, why would a tick be that size? Although it did look suspiciously like the tick we pulled off the dog, a few days ago...I searched the entry way and saw the offending parasite. I picked it up with a paper towel and ran for the bathroom. Throwing it into the toilet, I bent down for a closer look...LEGS! It has LEGS! UGH!!!! TICK!! I LICKED A TICK!! ARGH!!!! Filled with the heebie jeebies and hoping I didn't get some gross disease, I loaded up the youngest and headed to the school. Of course my antics had made us late, and I knew I would owe an explanation...

I made the mistake of telling a few friends about what happened...and hence my new nickname.."T.L....otherwise known as Tick Licker"... Nice friends I have! I've learned my lesson though...oh, no...not "don't eat candy off the floor...I still do that...but now I inspect it to make sure it isn't a tick or some other disgusting thing. (don't judge me...the kids don't share...I have to take what I can get!)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1st...My FAVORITE day!

Everyone has a favorite holiday...some people love Christmas, some love Easter....I love all of the holidays...but I live for April Fool's Day! I plot and I plan...The pranks of April Fool's go back to my childhood. The one year my mom served us steak and eggs for breakfast...I eagerly cut into my steak...anticipated the wonderful flavors...ACK! It wasn't steak...it was LIVER! Good one, Mom! It's OK...I got her back by bringing coffee to her bedside...except it wasn't coffee...it was prune juice!

In high school, I made up outlandish stories about how we were going to have to wear jumpsuit uniforms, wait until we are 18 before we can get a driver's license and how the high school was being rebuilt to include a revolving cafeteria. Man, my friends were so gullible.  My roommates were my victims in college, and now they don't answer the phone if I call on April 1st.

In my waitressing days, we would unscrew the salt and pepper lids, so when the other waitstaff went to use them the seasoning would dump out on their food. That did not make us popular with our co-workers.... When I worked for a builder, we were building homes on the side of a mountain, overlooking the ocean. One April Fool's Day, I called the construction superintendent and told him a home buyer reported a deer stuck in the culvert in the ravine. Ten men were dispatched to go look for it. They would call and check in saying they couldn't find it..."keep looking," I would say. After about 45 minutes I gave in and on their next call they said, "we can't find it." I replied, "oh...maybe you can't find it because it's APRIL FOOL'S!" The words that came through the phone....I hung up and locked the door, just in case they tried to get even.

My reputation is so notorious that my mother and sisters pick up the phone with, "I know it's April Fool's Day, so don't even think about it." DARN IT...they have taken the wind out of my sails for sure.

For the past 10 years, I have woken up my husband with, "OMIGOSH! The dog has crapped all over the floor downstairs. Multiple rooms..it's disgusting!!" Every year he leaps out of bed, cursing and stumbles downstairs to see the mess...I make him go from room to room, searching for it. When he finally looks confused, I say, "APRIL FOOL'S!!" doubling over with laughter at the thought of getting him yet again. I was having a good run...and then it happened...he caught on! Last year, I did my yearly, "Omigosh!..." only to have him finish with..."the dog pooped on the floor....yeah, yeah...April Fool's..." and then pulled the covers up and rolled over. Oh....defeated!

So last year I took it easy on everyone. I gave the kids' rice cakes for breakfast...they stared at the lonely dry rice cake in disbelief..."Try it," I said, "It's all we have." The middle child took a bite and shook his head, "Disgusting!" he exclaimed. The other two took a nibble and looked at me in desperation. I quickly gave in.  But that was it...my only joke. My big joke was no joke. While everyone sat by their phones, waiting for the inevitable...I never called. Their day was fraught with anticipation...only to not have it come. Victory was mine!


But it's a new year and again I am ready to try my best! I slept in late and missed the whole dog poop opportunity...but I did get the oldest son when he was getting ready for church. I came in to "help" him choose something to wear. "It's Palm Sunday," I told him. "This is the day when all the boys wear shorts and tank tops to mass."  I threw a pair of shorts at him, "I don't see a tank top in your drawer, so wear this," and handed him a red tank top of his sister's. He already had the shorts on and took one look at the shirt. "no way Mom!!" I am not wearing that!" he said in dismay. "You have to...it's the rule," I said, slipping the top over his head. "Now go show your Dad and see what he thinks." He stepped out into the hall as his dad rounded the corner. "That looks good," said Dad. The poor kid ran back to his room. "I can't wear this!" As he started to stress out about it, his Dad nodded at me to let him in on the prank. (Darn...it was just getting good!) "OK...you don't have to wear it...because it's APRIL FOOL'S!" He looked at me with shock and disbelief...and then broke into a grin as he threw his head back and laughed....and laughed...until he doubled over....SUCCESS!


I got the next kid by telling him that no one had catechism today, but him. In fact he has a two hour catechism and would miss his playdate because of it. But as I saw the obvious dismay on his face and the tears coming, I quickly said "April Fool's" and was rewarded with a huge grin and a giggle.

The husband is a harder sell...I have been wracking my brain all afternoon. I finally decided on a prank. I put a rubberband around the spray nozzle at the kitchen sink. So if he turns on the faucet, the nozzle will spray him right in the gut. "hee, hee...I am brilliant," I think to myself. It's doubtful he will fall for it...the rubberband is bright green and the faucet is bronze...but still it's worth a shot. He came in to the kitchen and stood looking at the TV. I was dying to stay and watch...but didn't want to be obvious. About a minute later, I hear, "Son of a #@$%!! You got me!" HURRAY FOR ME!! I got him! I'm back! I've got my mojo!

We are on our way to a friend's house, so I guess I will put away my pranks for now. But when we get home, the kids will find their light switches taped down and won't be able to turn on the lights in their rooms...and when they go to brush their teeth, they will find mayonnaise instead of toothpaste...Whee...this day just keeps getting better and better!!!




Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Night that Wouldn't End...

I hate bedtime. It's like herding cats. The kids are going in different directions and I have to tell them to do something at least 3 times, before it gets done. Right now it is 45 minutes past their set bedtime. The middle child begged me to let him finish his new Lego set (he got a ton of them for his birthday)...the youngest is bugging me because she is "scared" and wants to sleep in big brother's room and big brother is down here pleading with me to not let sister sleep in his room. Meanwhile there is screaming, yelling and door slamming...which drives the dog insane, and he is panting and running in circles...

(photo from web)
The little one peeks down the stairs, "I am washing my face!" she announces..."I have soap all over it!" Okay...that's a new one. One minute later, she makes her way downstairs, "I know I look like a freak" she says, "I can't get the soap off my face!" Oh brother! I take her into the kitchen, get a wet paper towel and wipe down her face, only to find that I am making the soap foam up. "Wow, that's a lot of soap!" I think. I get another paper towel and try again...now she is downright frothy! I take her upstairs, get a wet washcloth and try again...wiping up to the hairline...and see that the soap is in her hair and I have just made it worse. UGH! Now I have to put her in the shower. "Why were you washing your face?" I ask. She starts crying and says, "Because my brother put a booger on my face!"

I find myself once again yelling something I never thought I would say, "Don't wipe boogers on your sister's face!" From the bedroom comes, "I didn't really do it, Mom! I was just kidding!" After getting the little one rinsed off and into pajamas, I went into the oldest's room. "For future reference," I tell him, "Don't even pretend to put a booger on your sister. She is 6 and it will freak her out." I went on to tell him how she went overboard with the soap...we had a good laugh, and he promised he wouldn't do it again...I wonder if I should have added, "Don't wipe a booger on your brother either!"  Oh well, I guess we will just fight that battle when we come to it. I'm thinking the younger brother will be the one to wipe a real booger on his brother...it's not going to be a pretty scene.
(photo from the web)
At 9:45pm, the kids are still not asleep...they are working me for more time with their lights on. It is now an hour and a half past bedtime. The husband walks through the door, just as the eldest is on his way down the stairs. "What are you doing up?" he asks. "I'm getting the dog," he explains. At 10, the poor kid is desperate for a dog of his own. Oh, we have a dog...but he is 14 and crabby. And he's really my dog. Follows me everywhere...which I love...well, except when I am changing my clothes and he stares at me. Makes me think he is thinking, "Good God! You have really let yourself go!" and then I feel so self conscious...

(Yep...this is Maverick...staring at me!)
Anyway, the dog refuses to go upstairs without me, so I have to take him upstairs to sleep on the bottom bunk of the 10 year old's bed. I generally don't allow this, but I feel bad because I accidentally tripped the dog earlier and he kind of fell. (Don't feel bad, Maverick...I tripped and fell down in the playroom yesterday...)

"So how was your night?" asks my husband. "Did you bring any beer home?" I ask. "Noooo," he replies. "I can't believe you left me with no beer!" I say. "Be right back!" he says as he heads out the door. "MOM!" I am being summoned..."Can I have some water?" asks the middle child. "Will you sleep with me?" calls out the youngest..."  This is the night that will never end...It's not like I have anything else to do...just empty out the lunch boxes, start the dishwasher, fold clothes, wash their white "jog" shirts for tomorrow...oh and copy down a verse for the little one so she can try out for the speech meet...yeah...that's not a lot. Forget the beer...I'm making a pot of coffee!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Birthday party...in the RAIN?

It's the middle son's birthday today. He is eight. And planning his party has been so traumatic...for me..  Poor kid hasn't really had a big birthday party...seems like the oldest had big parties from ages one through nine. (opting for a small slumber party last year that caused me to cower in the backyard with an adult beverage.) The kids were so obnoxious that my husband refused to come in the house...he was ready to put them in the car and drive them home...slowing down just enough to let them out in front of their houses!  But I digress...

So this year I thought I would do it up BIG for our poor little middle child. "Invite everyone in your class," I said, feeling magnanimous. "You can even invite the neighbor kids and other kids at school..."...The guest list hit 30 and I didn't flinch. We decided on the big park not far from our house. "Genius!" my husband called me. Park rental: $59.00...LEGO party invitations, complete with a mini figure for the goody bags plus thank you cards...$20 for 10 (x3).  OK...so that cost me $60. Still...I was looking for the least amount of work for me, with the least cost.

I checked the weather forecast...March can be iffy, where weather is concerned. The almanac assured me that we would have a sunny day with 73'F weather. Good enough for me! Invitations went out and the responses started coming in. I was so excited for our boy. He was going to have a big party with all his friends. What better place than the park? They can run, climb on the structures, climb the rock wall...hit the picnic tables where I and the other parents would be sitting...chatting and laughing...watching our little darlings. I would have snacks and drinks for them...it all would be so perfect!

The husband and I watched the extended weather reports every day. One week before the party and the weather forecast remained favorable. And then it happened! What's this? "Chance of rain?" Oh..just 25% chance...that's nothing.  The next day...50% chance of rain. I could feel the slight tinge of worry...but it was OK...I still had 6 days... Every day the report changed..finally vacillating between 70% chance and 30% chance. Other parents and friends started to join in on the weather watch. One was doing the "reverse" Indian Rain Dance...another was singing the rain away. At pick up time at school, they would tell me the chance of rain...all of us pulling for a sunny day!

By Thursday, just three days before the party, the forecast showed heavy rain on Saturday (day before party). "We can't have the party at the park, if it rains all day Saturday," I told my husband. "Sure we can," he said in a positive voice. "No, all the equipment will be wet," I lamented. "No it won't....because I will be there Sunday morning drying everything with towels!" He wasn't kidding. I could see him calculating how many towels it would take and if I would notice all the beach towels missing....He even said he would rake the sand to get the water to drain...(this is a desperate man...)

Having 20-30 kids in our house plus 20 parents...in the rain...is not an option. I can barely stand my three kids and the dog in this house...they get so loud! And there isn't room to put that many people...so stress levels were high as we watched and waited on the weather. I started looking into options...Bounce house place, bowling alley, fitness centers...all were either so expensive for a big group like ours...or 30 minutes away. I didn't want to make our guests drive...and was looking for the most cost-effective plan. (which would be the PARK!) After looking at the prices, my husband said, "you know...I've been walking around the house and I think we can have it here...I will block off a few rooms, put another TV in the playroom and 12 kids can play video games!!"  He looked so proud, having just come up with a solution. I could feel my hands acting independently of my body as they reached up to grasp his neck in a choke hold...

I thought about all the CLEANING, shoving stuff into bags and throwing them into the garage and then having to come up with GAMES and prizes and food. "NOOOO!" I quickly dissuaded him from that idea, ticking off a list of ALL the things that would need to be accomplished (having the carpets cleaned, hand washing the walls, the cabinets, hanging all the pictures that I have neglected to do, cleaning the kids' rooms...it would be nice to see the floor in our daughter's room) and the cost of food, games, drinks, prizes, etc. would equal the cost of going somewhere else. House was off-limits!

By Friday, all the of Saturday's Little League opening day festivities were cancelled due to the impending rain. The forecast showed 100% chance of rain for Sunday and we were running out of time and options. The local skating rink seemed the best idea...My husband asked me to try and convince our young son to postpone the party. "Bribe him with Legos!" he exclaimed. I knew it wouldn't work. Last year, we had his birthday party on April 18th...almost a month after his birthday...I didn't remember that...but HE sure did! He's been talking about it for months..."I don't want my party in April...like you did LAST year!" he would tell me, "My birthday is in MARCH!" UGH...how in the world does that kid remember that? I didn't remember the exact date! I am pretty sure he has a photographic memory...he's still mad at me for the time when he was 3 and I reached out for him as he ran by and accidentally tore his shirt..."Remember when you ripped my shirt? That was my FAVORITE shirt!" I'm sure he will need years of therapy over that one...

With the confirmed guest list at 22 and two days to spare, we booked the local skating rink. The cost is greater, but the stress level is low...all we do is show up with our goody bags and cake! And money...

The kid has had a great birthday so far....breakfast in bed...Don't be impressed...it was a donut. The Legos and video games he wanted...an ice cream cake (his favorite) and dinner at his favorite burger joint...you know the place with the 800 calorie burgers! (great...) The big rain storm has not appeared. It BETTER rain tomorrow...but of course it won't...it would only rain if I booked the park and was set up out there. Now that we are going to be indoors...it will be sunny...I know it. My husband knows it. That is the way it goes for us...so shine all you want, sun...I don't care...what's done is done...I'm going to enjoy the skating rink...we'll try the park for the next party...a summer party...and hope that it isn't 100 degrees out...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Daylight Savings Time + Rain = CRAZINESS

Daylight Savings Time is kicking my butt. After 5 months of school, we had finally mastered the morning routine. It was awesome. The sun, having just risen, would greet the kids as they woke up. No one was grumpy and they would pop out of bed, get dressed and head downstairs for breakfast.  Everything was right in the world...and then Daylight Savings time happened and screwed it all up! Gone are my happy children, replaced by cranky, sluggish, sloth-like creatures, who's whole existence is to make the morning a traumatic experience for all involved. No one wants to get up. Everyone whines. (especially me!) They walk around like zombies, whining that "it's still dark out. It's night time." (Yeah, like I am really going to wake those three crabs up in the middle of the night!)

Not only am I dealing with the time change and all the adjustments we have to make...but it's been raining all week. It is just so delightful to pick the kids up after a day of school...all spent indoors. First comes the complaining: "I didn't get to play outside ONCE today!" Followed by the very dramatic, "Oh...this is what the outside feels like." UGH...I know how this is going to play out...

Once we are home, they are like caged animals. "Please stop raining," I say under my breath. The kids are loud. Talking loud, laughing loud....Loud. Loud. Loud! The phone rings, I grab it and run to the laundry room to insulate myself against the noise. Two...three minutes tops, and I hear screaming...and crying. "Is that crying or laughing?" I ask myself, hoping it's laughter so I don't have to interrupt my phone call. I peek out the door, to see the youngest straddling the back of the club chair, next to an open window, with the window screen in her hand. Panicked and thinking she broke something and not able to hang onto it for much longer, she is freaking out. "Calm down...just drop the screen, you are OK," I tell her, "Just leave it alone." Five minutes later I am off the phone and come out to see the two youngest children climbing in and out the window. Really? What part of this makes them think this is OK? Luckily they were doing this at ground level!

About an hour later, I start to prepare dinner...if you can call it that. Alright...I admit it...when Daddy is not home for dinner, the menu tends to be a bit lax...but mini pizzas and corn dogs are a food group, right? Don't judge... It's the best I can do...the kids are going stir crazy and driving me crazy in the process. It sounds like a herd of cattle, running down the stairs as I hear, "I've got your pants!" and the youngest goes running through the kitchen, laughing like a hyena...followed closely by the middle son in his underwear yelling, "give me back my pants!" ...Curse you, rain!

I send them upstairs and try to regain my sanity. I can hear them up there...they are up to no good. Yelling, laughing...and thumping. "Wonder what that thumping is?" I briefly think, going back to my very complicated microwave cooking. Big thump...shrieking...running..."Mom! Come quick!" I sprint up the stairs to find the little one wailing on the floor. "She hit her head!" says the middle son. I look around the room and can only imagine how this has happened... the couch has been stripped of it's cushions, which are now lined up on the floor like a launch pad. I cradle the little one as I look at the boys..."Were you jumping on the couch?" I ask. "Nooo...we were standing on the back of the couch, jumping off and landing on the cushions on the floor!" Oh, of course...jumping on the couch would have been too easy...We get the little one laughing by saying silly things, I put the cushions back on the couch and say, "No more!"

It's the rain's fault. Next time, I am just going to send them out to play in the rain! The younger kids will love it...the older will complain. But that's OK...I've been having my own fun this week. Every morning, I put out their clothes for school. They all wear uniforms but there are different colors to choose from. My fun game has been to dress them all exactly alike and see how long it will take them to notice. I snicker to myself when they come down the stairs...three triplets. I chuckle at pick up, when we all walk to the car and they are identical...and I am amazed the oldest hasn't noticed, since he hates to be copied. It took exactly four days for one of them to notice..."Hey! We are all dressed the same!" the youngest happily exclaimed. The boys looked at each other and looked at her. The middle son shrugged and looked at me...the oldest one rolled his eyes with a big sigh. "Darn it!" I thought..."there goes my fun!" Not so...today is spirit day and they are all dressed alike...jeans, purple shirts with the school logo and purple and gold hair. Today, it is fun....but come Monday...they will be watching me!

It's all OK...I get the last laugh. My car has a full tank of gas and my bags are packed. Mama is going out of town without the kids!  Good luck Daddy...it's supposed to rain all weekend. I will be thinking of you as I sip a green St. Patrick's Day beer with my best friends. (who are also running away er...taking some time to recharge their batteries...) I will come back happy and relaxed and ready to master this Daylight Savings time thing!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not a Hoarder...A Packrat!

I think I have hoarding tendencies... I have over 29,000 emails in my inbox...logically, I know I can't possibly read them all... I have a huge basket of unmatched socks...I realize that their mates have gone on to the mystical place on the "other side"...of the dryer. I watched an episode of "Hoarders" the other night, which totally freaked me out. The woman had a nice clean house...but three bedrooms were full of junk. Not gross stuff like cat poop and dead animals...just normal stuff that one might "store".  Every time I watch "Hoarders" I run around on the commercials, throwing stuff out.  I could see myself filling up a guest room with stuff I am storing...if I HAD a guest room...guess I am glad I don't...And I don't think I would take it so far as to fill up a basement, my kid's basement, two storage units and a 9,000 square foot store front...but left unchecked...I might fill the garage... Oh wait..there is no room in there...half of the garage is still full of boxes from our old house...it's been a year and we are STILL moving in.

My sisters give me clothes for my boys...I am storing clothes they will wear in TEN years...Hmm...maybe I shouldn't be keeping bins and bins of them in the playroom closet...having all this stuff to take care of, stresses me out! I used to keep every scrap of paper the kids bring home from school...and then my mom gave me a box of my own schoolwork...and I realized just a few things from each phase of school is enough. I get to share  them with my kids and we can compare handwriting. That's all we need...but I'm still having a hard time parting with stuff...

This isn't new...this has been going on for years...I am the youngest of four girls...my older sister would never let us in her room. Every so often, she would want to get rid of stuff and she would invite us into her room, for an "auction". She would hold up an item and we would bid on it. We were thrilled that we got to go in her room and left with all kinds of treasures, and no money. Come to think of it...I think the same sister is the one who told me.."you need to collect something"...she made me collect salt and pepper shakers. Which I still have...and in Highschool, I had a pig for FFA...so I collected pigs...statues, stuffed animals...you name it.  In the 90's this same sister got my mom and other sisters collecting Beanie Babies. We were so competitive and out of control! Actually...it could have been any sister that started that craze...but I took it to new lengths, trying to get each beanie before they did...I STILL have two large bins of them and just donated 60 of them to the kids' school!

Two of my kids are "collectors"..."I need this for my rock collection," says the youngest. "She collects rocks?" I think. Yep...has a stash of rocks in her room. The middle kid saves every scrap of paper...but not cool stuff from school...candy wrappers! WHAT? The oldest keeps every cherished thing he can get his hands on. If he remembers making it, he wants it. His room is full of projects...Mission project from 4th grade, Pinata project from 1st grade...dioramas, collages...notebooks, binders...you name it. His school Bible is missing its cover and pages are falling out but he won't let me replace it because, "I have had this since kindergarten!"

My bedroom looks like the closet threw up in it. All it really is... is a shrine to the clothes that I will never be able to fit in again. I save everything thinking, "That's really cute. I will wear that when I lose 10 (or 20) lbs." I have clothes that span four dress sizes and ten years. My closet cannot handle the sheer volume of clothes I am trying to hold onto. Let's be honest...I wear the same things every day...there is my "mom uniform":  long-sleeved T-shirt, jeans, flats and a jacket. I have my "workout outfit" (which can also be used as my mom uniform) sweat pants, sports bra, T-shirt and running shoes...and I have my church outfit...which...now that I think about it, is pretty much the exact same thing as my "mom uniform" (except with better shoes)...I bet if I took everything out of my closet, I would just fill up one rack...OR I could lose a bunch of weight and have a whole wardrobe at my disposal...See? That is the way I think. To be fair...I do have my summer mom uniform...capri pants and short sleeved shirts with flip flops. And I have the jackets I wear, the plethora of shoes...(because I hoard shoes) and some dressy outfits as well for the occasional night out, Easter, Christmas, etc.

But really...life would be much simpler, if I just de-junked. That's it...no more. I am going to let things go. No more storing things for years from now. No more holding on to my college books, and stuff the kids no longer care about. I am going to take my life back! Oh wait...what's this...a text from my sister?  Auction? I'M ON MY WAY!!