Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Fame Monster - The Barefoot Contessa Declined

There has been a story carried on the news in bits and pieces this week.

A story of a very sick little boy and his dying wish. 

He wanted to meet someone who'd become special in his life.  Someone he grew up watching, while he was fighting cancer.

Someone who couldn't be bothered.

It's not every day the Make a Wish Foundation contacts someone and tells them that a dying child's wish is to meet them.

Enzo Pereda wanted to cook with the Barefoot Contessa.

And yet, Ina Garten couldn't be bothered.

Twice.

Twice she was asked, twice she refused.

Only then did the story gain the attention of the media.

And only then did she bother to extend an invitation to the family.  Only after she's be deluged with countless letters and phone calls.  Only after she'd been exposed for her prior refusals.  Only after.

The boy and his family, they declined that invitation.  Graciously.

He'd made other plans, to swim with dolphins. 

The dolphins aren't too self-important for a sick child.

You can read the news story here.

I am angry with her.  So, so angry.  I am angry that she didn't care enough the first time.  Or the second.   I am angry that it took raking her over the coals to make her do what she should have done already.

I am angry as a parent.  I am angry as a relative of a cancer patient that just lost his battle.

I am angry.

She's done damage to her reputation that may never be fixed.

That will never be fixed in my eyes.

Her eventual invitation publicly declined.  Thanks, but no thanks.  If this foundation ever calls her again, which I doubt that they will, I guarantee she will listen the first time.  She's learned.  She will be paying the price of this mistake maybe forever.

More than that though, I hope that she's learned a valuable lesson here.  One far more important.

Doing the right thing doesn't count if you do it out of shame.  Out of obligation.  Out of necessity.

It only counts if you are doing it for the right reasons.

She clearly wasn't.

I don't care how famous you are.  It doesn't make you a good person.

Enjoy your swim, Enzo.

April First - A perfectly legitimate excuse to mess with people

April Fools Day.

The day when you can pull pranks and totally get away with it.

When people look at the calendar and notice it's a new month, yet somehow forget to keep their guard up all day.

People like me enjoy April Fools Day.

Mwahahaha.

From the time I was a little kid, I pulled pranks.  I'd have a hard time ever topping the one I pulled on my little brother when I was about six.  I got up super early and opened up his closet.  Climbed up to the shelf on top of the hanging clothes and quietly pulled the door shut. 

Then started calling his name.  He freaked out, thought I was trapped in the wall.  Even my parents weren't sure where I was or what happened until I hopped down from my perch laughing.

Yeah, I was that kid.

I used to whisper into a phone we had between our rooms in the middle of the night to scare him too.  I wasn't a very nice big sis.

When I got older, I still pulled pranks on people.  The most notable one being the prank that kept on pranking.  When Ashley was a baby (she was born in February), I called my brother feigning panic that fateful morning.  Told him I just didn't know what I was going to do.  I was pregnant again (with a six week old....do the math people).   He totally fell for it, then pulled it on my parents who did too.

I figured that year I should hang it up.  I'd peaked.  It would be hard to beat that one, and I haven't even tried since.  Plus, I am biding my time....waiting for someone in my family to forget it's the first and forget my propensity for messing with them.

Besides, I spend way more time now helping other people pull pranks.  Here's a sample of them...most of which work best in an office setting, though I've got a little for everyone.

-Tie a rubber band around the kitchen sprayer, so when someone turns the sink on, they get wet.  (Aidan keeps trying to pull this one on me and fails....he did not inherit my skills.)

- Make Jello in cups and put straws in it so that it looks like juice.  Serve to kids.  Giggle.

- I know lots of people who've made the meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting, but the whole idea of messing with food like that grosses me out.  Those of you who know me well already know that.  Ick.

- Unscrew the tops of the salt shaker or pepper shaker just enough so they look normal, but spill out when someone tries to use them.

- Saran wrap the computer keyboards.  Tom did this a few years ago to one of the guys he worked with.  They filled his cubical with balloons, saran wrapped his chair, his keyboard, his mouse, everything.

- Come to think of it, you can saran wrap just about anything.

- Mess with the sound settings on someones computer.  Like, instead of the typical beeps and bells, insert funny noises.

- Flip the monitor settings so the display is upside down or sideways.  I know this is easier to do on Dells for some reason.

- Change the keyboard language settings, or re-order the keys.  Make the S an A.  Just for fun.

- One of the guys Tom works with swapped out someones college diploma with a look-alike from another, rival school....took him all day to notice.

- If you have a wireless printer, put an out of order sign on it.  Just to mess with people.  When they go to pick up their print jobs, they will be all confused.

- Grab a bike lock and lock your co-workers chair to their desk.

- When we were in high school, Tom filled my entire car up with balloons while I was at work.

- Unscrew the very last piece of the faucet and put a bathtub dye tint tablet (crayola makes them) in the mesh, replace the piece.  People won't know why the water is blue or red.

I'm sure that I am forgetting some, there have been so many over the years.  What are your favorite pranks?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Already Preoccupied

Boys eventually get preoccupied with their man parts. 

All of them.

I can't say I blame them.  If I had that many things dangling precariously from my crotch I probably would be too.  Especially when you factor in the whole hormonal thing. 

So, you know that at some point it is inevitable that boys will you know...be boys.

It's no shocker that they all universally express great joy when they discover those parts for the first time in the bathtub as babies.

Wait, you mean this totally awesome thing is attached? 

I am not one of those delusional mothers who believes that her children will somehow remain sheltered from sexuality until their 30's, even if my husband may be that way just a little.

He can hope, right?

But I know better.  I just thought I'd have a few more years before it became obvious to complete strangers that my son is focused on his weenie. 

And no, I'm not talking about the 9 year old.  I'm referring to the 2 year old.

The one that sounded like a perverted broken record in the doctor's office today. 

My weenie hurts.  My weenie hurts.  My weenie hurts. 

He repeated and repeated this as he shuffled around the exam room pulling his pants down, trying desperately to get the attention of the on-call pediatrician who wasn't there to see him and his boy parts.  (That appointment has already been scheduled with his urologist, not to worry.)

She was there to see his brother and sister.

He thought it was his turn to see the doctor.

The doctor who I am sure was simultaneously mortified and wondering about my parenting.

Truth is, he isn't a tiny pervert.  Promise.  He is a two year old with an already long boy-part medical history that just got more complicated.  He's probably looking at another surgery.  So yeah, he is preoccupied.

More than half his life, he's been focused on that part of his body having issues.

And we are all so used to it that it doesn't phase any of us.

Try explaining that to someone who doesn't know the history though. 

I tried to shush him and pulled his pants up, briefly tried to explain what his deal was.  She didn't seem to be paying any attention to anything the kids were saying or doing.  Which, for the record, isn't really a good attribute in a pediatrician.  But I digress.

It's okay though, I'm sure she doesn't want to see us anymore anyway.

I'm sure she thinks I am raising a tiny pervert.

He's not.  He's just a little kid who's got a good reason to already be preoccupied with his man parts.

It's bound to happen eventually.

The Neti Pot - I'll trade sexy for breathing

I've had allergies my whole life.  When I was younger, I just lived in a fog for half the year.  My head hurt, my eyes itched, I'd sneeze uncontrollably. 

Back then, you could buy stronger over the counter decongestants than you can now, but they would only work for a little while.  After a few days, it would feel like all the water had been leeched out of my system. 

Then I'd start getting bloody noses. 

Good times.

Thankfully, they have developed better, longer acting antihistamines.  I can't stand to take most of the decongestants at all these days, so I have to just suffer through it.

It was the worst when I was pregnant.  Tom laughed at me then, using those nose strips every night in my attempt to breathe.

A few years ago, I heard about the Neti pot from another chronic allergy sufferer, and I was intrigued.  I didn't really understand how it worked or why.  And I was thoroughly grossed out by the whole concept.

You pour this UP your nose?  Ick.

I grabbed one off a store shelf when I was in California the last time out of desperation.  My sinuses don't like the wind there, even on my daily meds, and I was getting tired of it.  Still grossed out, I put it back on the shelf.

Then last week, there was a giveaway on Facebook by one of the companies that makes them.  I figured what the hell?  I'll try just about anything if it's free.

My Neti Pot got here three days ago.

Let me tell you....it's funky.  It really does take a bit to get over the feeling that you are voluntarily drowning.  You have to force yourself to breathe out of your mouth and make a conscious effort not to try and swallow.  You have to lean completely over a sink, mouth gaping, water pouring out one nostril.

The first night I did it, Tom walked in the bathroom mid pour.  Then he laughed pretty hard at me.

It's not sexy, that's for sure.

It works though.  I've been able to sleep soundly the last few nights for the first time that I can remember. 

I can handle gross and unsexy for a few minutes if it buys me a nighttime of sleep.

I just wish I'd been willing to try it sooner.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

His Voice

When Dad was first diagnosed with cancer and we became aware of how bad it was, I had a lot of people try and comfort me.  Give me advice.

Some told me to pray.

Some told me about miracles.

Some told me about every other person they'd ever known who had cancer.

Some just told me they were sorry.

In addition to all the above mentioned people, I had a few who had been down a road like the one I was about to start walking.  The people who'd lost a parent, whether to cancer or Alzheimer's or any other disease.  The ones who knew it was coming. 

The advice they gave me was different than what came from everyone else.

They told me to trust what my heart told me, to trust my instincts. 

To spend as much time as I could with him. 

To say everything that I needed to, long before I thought I had to, just in case the end came sooner than we thought.

They told me to take pictures. 

They told me to record his voice.

I heeded the advice as much as I could, even knowing that it was hard to do it.

When I knew I had to go, I went.

We spent every last penny we had on the trips back home, whether I went alone or took the kids. 

I said everything I needed to, I listened to him when he did the same.  I did the best I could to burn those images into my mind so that I'd never forget them. 

We took pictures, lots of pictures at first.  He asked my sister in law to take a bunch for him after his first real scare.  He wanted people to remember him that way, not how he knew he would end up.   When he got sicker, that slowed down.  It was hard for him, physically and emotionally to do it.  His hair started to go, he lost a ton of weight.  He seemed to get smaller every day. 

I didn't take many pictures of him towards the end.  He didn't want them, and he didn't want us to remember him like that.  I still took pictures though.  Of him doing the things he loved.  He'd be busy and I'd sneak one in without him knowing of him at work or sitting in the sun out back. 

Those are some of my favorite pictures of him.

Before Christmas last year, he recorded his voice reading The Night Before Christmas for the kids.  Last Spring he gave them All The Ways I Love You

The kids adore those books, they would sit and listen to them for hours and hours before Dad died.

When we got home from the funeral, the first thing I did was find the books and tuck them away.  I wasn't ready to hear him again.  I couldn't walk into a room and catch his voice traveling through the air. 

I couldn't. 

Someday, I will be so glad we have those books.  I am already, even if I can't hear them now.

This week, I was a little startled to hear his voice.

Mom has been using his cell phone since hers decided to stop working.  She called yesterday and I missed it.  I called right back, figuring I'd catch her.

It went straight to voicemail.

And he was there. 

I wasn't ready to hear that. 

It hurt, but it was a beautiful gift just to hear his voice again.

I miss you, Dad.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lost in Motherhood

Having kids has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. It isn't, however, the only one.  There were others, many others, before.

One of the inevitable truths about motherhood is this:


It just does.  In such a profound and irreversible way that you cannot properly explain it to someone who doesn't have kids.  And once it happens, you can't imagine ever going back.

And everything does change.  Even things that you think will escape unscathed.  The things that you make promises to yourself and to other people will stay the same.  Kids get to that stuff too. 

The thing coming to mind today is deeper than the changes most people associate with motherhood.  Not something as short lived as sleep deprivation, and something more significant than a rogue stretch mark. 

Sometimes we as mothers can get so caught up in mothering that we start to lose our identity.

We lose ourselves.

We forget who we were before we had kids.  What we loved.  What we would spend our free time doing.  Our hobbies, our passions.

They can get lost in the haze of diapers and nap times.  Of soccer practices and scouts.

Our friendships can suffer.

I've been on both sides of that relationship.

I've been the childless one trying to stay connected to the women who went to the next stage first.  I've been the one trying to understand how the other person is busy all the time now and has more important things to worry about.  Waiting for a chance to just sit and talk with the person I used to connect with.

I've been the one with a newborn, harried and overwhelmed.  I've been the one walking the scary path of motherhood for the first time, trying to navigate everything I used to do in addition to keeping this little person alive too.  Amidst all that, attempting to maintain relationships with people who don't understand why I'm so preoccupied.

I want to believe that I always made the effort to stay connected to my friends on the other side.  That I didn't cut myself off from them, blame my kids for being too busy.  That I didn't create distance.  I hope I didn't. 

I hope I didn't forget what it was like to think about everything, anything else in the world other than a baby.

As moms, we forge a new path in our lives which lead to friendships all their own.  The other women from playgroups and birthing classes, playgrounds and preschool.  They all have lots in common with us since they are in the same stage we are in, and it's easy to get caught up in that.

Harder, but just as important, is making sure that we keep close the people who we have history with.  The ones we grew up with, went to school with, shared apartments with, walked down aisles and stood next to.  They are still just as important, if not infinitely more so than the new friends we make.

They knew who we were before we lost ourselves to motherhood.  They remember who we were when we had nothing else to worry about.  They valued our ideals and our passions.  They shared our hobbies.

They liked us.  For real reasons other than having a kid the same age.

Just because they aren't exactly where we are now doesn't mean that we need them any less.  If anything, we need them more. 

Though we are mothers, we need to remember who we are too.

Call your friends.  Make lunch dates.  Laugh until your sides hurt.

Remember who you are.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Guilt and Laughter in the Fitting Room

Sometimes being a mom sucks.

I don't seem to blink an eye at paying $40 for a pair of shoes for my kids or dropping over $100 on sports equipment every time a new season rolls around.

I buy cookies and popcorn I don't need or want because they are selling it. 

I owe Children's Hospital a small fortune.

Kids are expensive.

With all those expenses come the reality that other things sometimes have to get sacrificed.  Usually on the top of the list is stuff for me. 

I get my nails done once a year.  Maybe twice, but only if someone gets me a gift certificate. 

I've dyed my own hair for years, and desperately need to do it now.  It's getting scary up there on the top of my head.  Shudder.

That gray, soon to be auburn, hair on my head....it gets cut once a year.  If that.  Sometimes it is less often than that.

Almost all my clothes come off the clearance rack, usually with a coupon.

I had to buy a new pair of shoes for Dad's funeral, and with that kind of time pressure, I couldn't bargain shop.  I got stuck paying full price for the first time in a very long time. 

At least they are really adorable shoes, so there is that.

In the last few weeks, for whatever reason, I've lost half my bras.

Not literally.  They didn't grow legs and run out the door or anything.  Figuratively...as in I had to throw them out.

The last time I bought bras was right after we moved here.

So, that would make it over five years ago. 

Five years.  Yep.

And, like the covered repairs that inevitably fail on a car the second you are one mile past the warranty, they are all at the end of their useful life.

All at the same time.

So I did what I had to do.  I went and got some new ones. 

I cringed when I looked at the price tags.  Immediate guilt.  Even on sale and with a coupon, they still aren't cheap. 

The ladies prohibit me from wearing cheap bras. 

Everyone within earshot of the fitting room learned that already, thanks to my darling little girl with the inability to use her inside voice.

Mommy, those are realllllllly big booby things!

Kids are expensive. 

And embarrassingly funny. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What I gave up for Lent

Nothing.  Nada.   Zilch.

I had a good run.

From the time I was in high school, I looked forward to Lent.

I used to give up all kinds of stuff. 

By the time I got to college, it was a no-holds-barred self-improvement mission, all in the name of religion.

I'd give up everything that was bad for me.  Candy, dessert, soda, coffee.

I'd make promises to myself about working out at the gym so many days a week and stick to it.

Most years, I'd keep trucking long after the 40 days had come and gone.

Which, in some ways, is the entire point of Lent anyway.  To remove the bad influences from your life in an effort to get closer to the sacrifices Jesus made.

Then eleven years ago I had a really bad run.  A whole lot of bad things happened in the first two months of the year, and I lost any and all motivation I had for bothering with Lent.

Plus, I was angry with God.

Not a whole lot has changed since then, except I am infinitely more busy and distracted, and have even more reasons to be angry with the big guy. 

I don't really have the anger anymore though.  I have plenty of reasons, that's for sure.  The hills and valleys in my life have not been small and insignificant.

I learned to accept and try not to question things too much a long time ago though.  Not worth the effort, and eventually it will all make sense anyway.  Even the stuff that seems to have no feasible explanation.  All part of some plan that we never get to peek at the blueprint for.

Nevertheless, I made a conscious choice to skip Lent this year.  The last ten years since that really crappy year eleven years ago,  I may not have given too many things up, but there would always be something.  One or two things that I'd half-heartedly try to forgo.  I'd stick to the no meat on Fridays rule as long as I remembered, refuse to beat myself up with Catholic guilt if I forgot.

I don't think God cares if you like steak.  Just sayin.

Then this year showed up, and much like last year, there was stuff going on to distract me entirely from the start of Lent.  Ash Wednesday came and went without any notice from me at all.

Then, through the wonder of Facebook, it occurred to me that it was Lent.  People posting what they were giving up. 

Me?  Nah.

I'm gonna take a pass this year.  I gave up Lent us this time around.

I've lost enough this year.

I'm not giving up anything voluntarily right now.

Spring

Yesterday was just another exhausting day. 

Seems like they are all that way anymore.  At some point, this all has to end, I hope.  At some point.

Someone commented on how strong I was as I grabbed the two year old off the table for the four hundredth time in a row with one arm and put him back on solid ground.  Someday he won't do things like that. 

But when he stops, he will probably stop doing other things too. 

Like curling up in a little ball and sleeping in the crook of my neck after his sleepy little legs bring him to my room in the middle of the night.

I know I am going to miss that, even if I'll be glad to see the constant danger of toddler hood end.

I am strong.  Or at least that's what people have told me.  The people who really have any idea what is going on in my life and understand that two year olds falling off tables is the least of the things I have to worry about.

At some point, it would be nice to have a day where nothing goes wrong.  Where no one gets hurt.  Where no one gets angry.  Seems like the only way that is happening anymore is through the use of plastic individual bubbles for my kids and disconnecting all contact I have with the outside world.

Which doesn't seem much like a life at all.

Too many things seems wrong right now.

Yesterday, though, there was hope of change.  Real and symbolic kinds.

Glimmers of hope, even if others can't or won't see them quite yet.  Trying not to get myself too invested in them. 

My mantra has always been to prepare for the worst, hope for the best.  That way, it's hard to ever really be disappointed.  Rather, you are usually happy with the outcome, whatever that may be.  Trying to remind myself to heed my own advice.

In the afternoon, I noticed the room had darkened suddenly.

It is Spring here now, officially. 

Through the windows on one end of the house, bright blue sky, vibrant and unblemished. 

Through the windows on the other side, the heaving black darkness of a storm.

Spring brings changes, just as my life is bringing them.

And though these storms, the weather related ones and the others, can sometimes be terrifying, they are exciting too.  Daddy always loved to watch them.

I'll be here, riding them out for as long as it takes, waiting for the rainbow on the other side.

I am strong.

He did that.

Friday, March 25, 2011

So Anyway...

I'm going to write about the abysmal failure of my dinner last night.

Because it's funny.  And not a bunch of stuff in my life is funny right now, so I'll fully admit to stretching a bit.

I'll forgive you if you are disappointed.

My kids were.

It's okay.

I bought some quinoa at Costco a few weeks ago.  Because it's gluten free and good for you and healthy and a complete protein and would be a huge asset to my family's diet.

And it was cheap.  So that helps.

Cheap doesn't matter though.  Or healthy.  Apparently.

I made it, and it took damn near an hour, cooked it pretty much like risotto.  Followed a recipe that had 5 stars online and everything.

Then they made the face.  You know the face.  The what the hell is this crap face.

I failed.

More correctly, the quinoa failed. 

I told Tom that I'd do something else to it next time, he vowed there wouldn't be a next time.  And why can't I just feed him cous cous and noodles and rice and things that he likes and why do I make him try to branch!?!?!

He doesn't want to branch.

Fine.  No branching.

It wouldn't have been such a bad dinner if the other dishes were redeeming.  No such luck.

I put lemon in the sauce for the shrimp, which apparently is a horrible thing to do in the eyes of my five year old, who literally hyperventilated at the table.

Then after some urging, her sister was persuaded to finally eat the shrimp.  But only after she removed any objectionable shrimp parts from the already deveined, shelled shrimp with no tails.

Even the vegetables sucked.  I made them the same way I did last time, except the onions were draped over the other stuff, not on the sides, which consequently meant that the onions were touching things!  And the onions can't be touching things!

No touching!

Good lord.

Too bad we already ordered pizza this week, because tonight would be a great night for it.

I suck.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why I Write

I have fans, yes.

And I have critics. 

Once you put your stuff out there in the public world for other people to see, it's just inevitable. 

You are never going to be able to please everyone all the time, and I'm not much a people pleaser anyway.   I know where my youngest daughter gets that from.

Thing is, some of the people who I wish were on my side aren't.  They judge my writing, they wonder why I'm doing it at all.  They think it's for reasons wholly unrelated to the real ones.

The real ones? 

There are a few.

First and foremost, I write because I love it.  Because there is something exhilarating in my universe when I can put my thoughts into words.  Because I've always been better at explaining myself this way than any other. I write because it brings me joy.

Second, I write for posterity.  I managed only to get my oldest child's first year calendar partially filled out, at some point gave up tracking every lost tooth and every milestone.  I never did any of those things with the other kids.  Too busy, too distracted.  Plus none of those ready-made things capture what infancy is really like, what toddlers can get into, what it's like to see fear in your child's eyes, what it's like to be proud of them.  This gives me freedom to write all that stuff and doesn't limit me to a tiny little box on a grid.

Third, I write for the release.  It lets me get things off my chest.  This isn't the only thing that I write. This isn't the only place.  There are others, oh are there others.  The books, four in all now started.  They are there, always waiting for me, always there to let me say what is really going on in my head.  And those are just for me.

Fourth, I write for the routine.  I want the experience, so that in the event I someday really pursue this in any professional aspect, I can say I've been doing it for so long, with so much regularity.

Fifth, I write to communicate my experiences.  I've had a few, and I know that when I was in them, there were times it felt like I was the only one who'd been there.  I don't want people to feel that way, and I hope this communicates that.

Those are the reasons I write.

Here are the non-reasons.

I don't write for sympathy.  I don't write out of desperation for attention.  I don't want anyone to think less or more of me because of this.  I have a real life that doesn't involve the computer at all.

I don't write for anyone or anything in particular.  I don't write for vengeance. I try not to write in anger, though sometimes it happens.

I also try not to write to defend myself, though sometimes I feel compelled to.  And in some ways, this post right here is an example of that slip-up.

You see, someone I love very much doesn't understand me right now. 

And that hurts.

I just want them to understand why.  For this and for everything that seems to be jumbled right now.

That's all.

Disobedient Nuts

My not-so-little boy had surgery again yesterday.  On the boy parts.  The same ones he had surgery on last year.

Poor kid.

The doctor who made a game-day decision the morning of the first surgery that one side would self-correct....was wrong.  Aidan had to go through it again.

The night before he was set to go in for the second time, his little brother started pointing at his and saying ouch.

AJ had one hernia repaired already, and it's looking like the other side may have gone now.

Which is awesome.

When we walked into the pre-surgical unit at the hospital yesterday, the parade of people who want to look at my kid's junk began.  The nurses, the nurse practitioners, the medical students, the anesthesiologist, the surgeon.

Peep show.

Fortunately, Aidan's not exactly a modest kid.  And if he ever was, it was lost after his experience last year.  His father understands that all too well.

His main nurse came in at some point, asked him what his name was, how old he is, why he was here again.  He shook his head and sighed.  His testicles.

She replied, so you are here for the ball drop, right? 

He laughed.  He's old enough now to get jokes and sarcasm and has developed a self-deprecating sense of humor.  Love that, by the way.

She reassured him that it happens all the time, that he would rather get it fixed now than later.  I guess they had a 16 year old in the day before with the same procedure.  I can't imagine. 

She did a quick family history, wanting to know of serious health problems, complications with surgery.  Then she asked if there was any relevant family history.  You know, if anyone else has trouble with their man parts.

I told her we had a house full of disobedient nuts.  None of them behave.

They don't stay where they are supposed to, they clear paths that other stuff likes to travel down, they get cancer and get evicted.

The nuts around here don't listen.  Like, at all. 

About now, I'm really glad to be a girl.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I want his advice

Today was the first of what I am sure will be many days where I wanted his advice.

I wanted to call him and tell him what was going on, pick his brain about what I should do.

Where do I go from here?

I know this is going to happen.

I know that there are going to be times when I will reach for the phone and want him to answer.

I want to share these days with him.

I want him to tell me that it's going to be okay.  That I am doing the right thing.

I can't.

All I can do is stare up at the sky and hope that what I've settled on is enough.

Distraction

So much about parenting is refining the art of distraction.  Getting your kids to focus on something, anything, other than what they want to pay attention to.  What is trying to get their attention.

Diverting their focus from whatever they are just better off avoiding.

The shiny things. 

The breakable things.

The painful things.

The dangerous things.

Turns out that sometimes kids are good for providing that distraction too.

I am grateful for my distraction today.

I just wish he was the only thing I had to worry about.

Love you, Aidan.  Feel better honey.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I can't be the only one, right?

I have a few guilty pleasures in this world. 

Coffee.

Pretty pink martinis.

Reality TV.

That's about it.  I don't have the time, money or energy for other ones.

Anyway....I do have a few guilty pleasures. 

The coffee thing has to happen every day.  It just does.  No way around that.

The pretty pink martinis are occasional, but well deserved and oh.so.good.

The reality TV....well, that doesn't happen all that often truth be told.

Except Dancing with the Stars.  I've seen just about every episode of that show.  Ever.  Love it.

There is something really and truly entertaining about watching people outside their element.  I have to give anyone who goes on that show a ton of credit.  I'm not sure I'd ever want to shake my ass on national television. 

In fact, I'm sure I would never do it.

The season premiere was yesterday, a new lineup of psuedo-celebrities.  There are always a few real celebrities, but most of them are grasping at fame, glad for another chance to hit prime time.

This season has a few that are sure to be entertaining, regardless of whether they can actually dance or not.  The train wrecks.  The people who really believe that any publicity, good or bad, is good publicity. 

Top of that list, the last dancer of the night.  Kirstie Alley. 

Talk about a hot mess. 

Her weight, her personal life, her outlandish behavior, her own reality shows in the past, all have been out there in the public eye for a very long time now. 

She does have a tremendously self-deprecating sense of humor, and I can appreciate that for sure.

I have to admit to liking her.  To rooting for her in the past to overcome her challenges.  To squealing a little with glee when I found out she was going to be on the show this season. 

Then my loyalty wavered.  I thought she would be terrible.

That she'd be awkward on the dance floor.  That she'd be showing off a little too much of that now-infamous body of hers.  That she would really live up to what the producers were probably expecting when they chose her, and suck.

But you know what???

She was actually really good.  One of the best of the night.  She had natural rhythm.   She could move her feet without looking like there were bricks attached to the bottoms. 

And does she ever have personality!

I've got my favorite this season.

I can't be the only one rooting for a self-proclaimed fat actress turned wanna be dancer, right?

Short Straw

While I have to admit that I am pretty awesome, there are certainly things about me that I don't really want the kids to inherit.

The one coming to mind today? 

My vision.

I can't see.  A thing.  I'm damn close to legally blind without correction, and can not honestly remember a time in my life when I could ever see right, even as a small child. 

Plus, I have issues with wearing glasses.  Let's just say that 5th grade isn't a good time to get them for the first time, in the same month as a bad perm, a haircut, the arrival of acne and a horrid fashion sense.   And my classmates actually noticed these things. 

Shudder.

I have issues with glasses, but I try not to project my crazy onto the kids.  Aidan already has reading glasses and he looks adorable in them. 

Ally's are ordered, and Ashley goes in today. 

I'm betting I am ordering another pair today.

If that wasn't enough, it's an affliction that their father just doesn't understand.  He doesn't get it.  He can't understand why all his kids seem to be taking after me in this department. 

They are getting the short straw.

He's got better than perfect eyesight.  Always has.  And none of them pulled that gene card.

I am waiting patiently for the day that Tom's sight starts to go.  Then I will chuckle.  Mwahahaha.

He can hold out hope that AJ will take after him. That kid doesn't seem to come from my genetic stock much at all.  He looks like Tom and he clearly gets his metabolism from that side of the family.  It's possible that one of the four will be able to see without squinting or read without holding a book 3 inches from their face. 

It's possible.

Anything's possible I guess.

But if you are the gambling type, you'll know where to put your money.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Even If

My little girl, Ashley, made her first communion on Saturday.  It was beautiful, and so was she. 

She was so proud of herself.

Nevermind the fact that we couldn't actually see anything that was happening since no one was permitted to stand when they had their turns. 

Guess I'm just going to have to trust the Catholic Church on this one.

It was a little hard to walk into the building.  Last time I sat through mass was for Dad's funeral.

Tom and I spent most of mass passing a two year old back and forth between us.  AJ made some attempt to behave until his little legs couldn't fight the urge to run anymore and Tom had to take him out for a bit.  All things considered, he did pretty well.

When Aidan made his, AJ was just a baby.  One who decided to throw a ridiculous fit that morning, forcing me to walk laps around the building while mass was going on inside.  Never saw Aidan make his either.

It's okay.  I was there even if I wasn't there.

Ally tends to get herself in more trouble at church, mostly because she is old enough to know better, but sometimes chooses not to care.  Drives me crazy.  She did okay, but only because I chose not to make an issue of her leaning on me the entire time.

Then there was Aidan.  He was sitting next to me, quiet and observant.  He's been going to church on a fairly regular basis for a while now, and he sort-of understands the process.  He would occasionally stare off into space or mutter quietly to himself, but he was good.

On his tie, a tie tack that used to belong to my Dad. 

At some point during mass, I glanced over at Aidan and he suddenly appeared so grown up.  My eyes welled up with tears that I managed to fight back.  This day was not for sadness, not for grief or for sorrow, not for missing the man who should still be wearing that tie tack.

It was for Ashley.

And I don't want to be that person who colors every experience for the kids from here on out with reminders of who is gone.  I lived that for a long time after my grandfather died.  I don't want to constantly tell them how proud he would have been of them, of how we all wish he was here.  They know it and I know it, but there is no reason to point it out all the time, particularly on days intended to be for happy celebrations. 

No reason to make everything bittersweet.

He certainly wouldn't have wanted it that way.

The kids deserve to just be happy, I owe them that much.

In a strange way, Dad will be around for more things than he was before.  He missed Aidan's first communion because he had to work, sent Mom instead.  Like he always did.  Even when we were in California.

He almost always stayed home, went to work, let Mom enjoy the good stuff.  The great downside to owning your own business is that there aren't days off, there is no one else to do the work when you are gone.

Now he doesn't have to worry about that anymore and he can check in on us whenever he wants to.

He is still here, even if he isn't here.

And he was here on Saturday.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Watching Karma

I try as hard as I can to teach my children to be kind to people.  To be nice to others, even if they don't particularly like them.  To demonstrate good sportsmanship. 

I just wish that all the parents out there, and by extension, all the coaches, felt the same way.

I wish that people wouldn't get these illusions in their heads that their child is going to be the next starting pitcher in the major leagues or play on an Olympic soccer team when they are 3 years old.

I'm all for fostering skills, encouraging the kids to try hard and do their best, to work towards goals and be competitive.  But there is a reason you aren't supposed to keep score when 5 year olds are on a playing field.

They are still learning.

And they are still little kids. 

I've written before about Ashley's soccer team.  They are good.  Really good.  But it is a by-product of lots of hard work, a team that has stayed together for years and strong coaching.  They are as good as they are through hard work over the course of several seasons.  Sure, there are a few kids on the team that were born athletes, but not all of them were. 

Our team didn't get to be good by skirting the rules.  They didn't get to be good by pushing past competition into aggression. 

Some teams do that.  Some coaches recruit players from around the league, even at this age.  Some parents encourage their kids to shove and push and slide tackle opponents.  Ashley had her ponytail blatantly pulled on the field last season, and she was yanked clear to the ground. 

I didn't even think that they'd be issuing red cards to 7 year olds.

Or that there would be a reason to.

Sadly, there is.

Karma, though, is a bitch.  And she is fun to watch.

The team with the recruited players and the ponytail pullers, our opponent this week.

At the end of the field, wearing a bright orange jersey and a grudge, my little girl. 

Ashley decided she wants to be goalie.  I was a little hesitant at first since she tried last year and wasn't great at it.  In the interim, though, something clicked.

She is a goalie.  And she is amazing.

And the team that destroyed us last year twice, the one with the recruited players and rule breakers? 

They lost. 

My little girl made sure of that.

Karma?  She's on our team.  ;)

Terror on the Interstate

My kids are all so very different from one another. 

Sometimes, though, they become eerily similar, even the ones who aren't really alike any other way. 

It happened this week.

I had to drive up to the boy scout store to get some supplies.  In these parts, that means I had to get on the interstate. 

Interstate: Commonly referred to as freeways for the people back home.  I know, it's confusing.  It took me a really long time to get used to it.  I'd ask people for directions, refer to "the 25" and they'd stare at me like I had 6 heads.  

We don't generally take the interstate much unless we are heading to Denver.

And no, just for the record, I don't live out in the sticks.  Not quite.  Close.

Anyway, we had to take the interstate, which is fine. 

Unless something terrifying happens along the way.

There isn't anywhere to really stop safely, not many exits.  I could pull off on the shoulder, but that's not a good idea considering the fact that there are semis doing 75mph less than 10 feet away.

So, if something bad happens on the interstate, it's more complicated.  You have to try really hard not to panic, be able to assess the situation through the lens of the rear view mirror and make a split second decision whether it really is an emergency or not.

I decided that what happened this week wasn't an actual emergency, though Ally would beg to differ.

She was close to hyperventilating.  Screaming at the top of her lungs.  Sprawled out in the backseat, trying to get as far away from the scary thing as possible, arms and legs flailing.  Freaking out.

Full  blown  freak  out.

Her big sister had a very similar reaction to the same terrifying experience, ironically on the exact same stretch of road that Ally did.  A few years ago.  Ashley's freak out was even worse.  She actually did hyperventilate.  I thought for sure she would get herself so worked up that there would be vomit involved.  She's that kid.

And these screams from the girls weren't little ones.  They are both really, really loud when they are scared.  Really loud.  Louder than you are imagining.

I didn't pull the car off to the shoulder when Ashley did it either, or try to get off at the nearest exit.

In fact, I laughed a little, because they were both being so ridiculous.

The thing they were sure was going to destroy them, that was hugely scary with fangs and claws and was going to sting them or eat them or gnaw their fingers off one at a time?

A ladybug.

A little tiny ladybug.  Before they both had the most terrifying experiences of their lives, they'd both held ladybugs.  More than once.  Held them in their little hands, made wishes, waited for them to fly away.

But, apparently when you take a perfectly harmless insect and put it inside an enclosed vehicle on the interstate, you create a monster.

Who knew?

As soon as I got off the interstate, I did the rational thing.  I saved their lives.  The kids, that is.

I opened the window and let the big scary monster out.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I live with Rainman

A few days ago, I wrote about who I am married to.

The Indian woman.

She's not been around to visit since then, and I am a bit sad.  Sure is fun to watch.

I realized this morning that I live with someone else.

I mean, other than my actual non-Indian woman husband and four kids.

I live with Rainman.

I live with a little person who thrives on routine.

Who is far more intelligent that he appears from the outside.

Who enjoys repetition.

The most persistent child I've had, which is saying a lot.

AJ.

He started asking me why this week.  Everything...he asks why.  He is two.  Two year olds aren't supposed to be able to conceptualize that yet.   He can draw shapes and is starting to correctly write letters, with hardly any help from me.  He can count to 20, sometimes higher. 

He's crazy smart, but he's crazy demanding.

He follows me around, all.day.long.

Asking, begging, pleading with me. 

Mama, I hold you.

Over and over and over again.

When I took Ashley to the eye doctor this week, he sat there and repeated Mama about a million times in a row.

At some point in the last week, there was a pizza commercial on.  Now, whenever anyone mentions Papa, he instantly screams:

Papa's in the ho-use.

Cause and effect.

At the dinner table, we are always trying to get him to eat something.  He doesn't like to eat, except when he does.  Which is almost never when we want him to.  As soon as we try to get him to take a bite, he tells us chewswallow, which comes out as one word.  

Anytime anyone in the house is going anywhere, he runs and grabs shoesocks.   Also one word, which gets repeated until they are both on and he is out the door.

I'm just waiting for the day that he starts counting cards, or tells me he needs to get some boxer shorts.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Normal, whatever it is

There is a guy that lives here.  An adult one.  Really.

He is harder to spot during daylight hours than a yeti this time of year.

Living with a CPA is hard for everyone in the house during tax season.  Hard on him, of course.  Hard on me, yes.  Hard on the kids.

Thing is, I've hardly noticed he is gone.

Normally, tax season brings with it an obvious and nagging reality that he isn't here.  It bugs me, especially by the middle of March, when he isn't around.

Late dinners, all the shuttling of the kids left to me, almost no time to even talk to him at all.  For months.

It's been this way as long as we've been married.

And it's like this every year from the end of January until that fateful day in April.  You know, the one many people dread because it's on that day that the taxman cometh, the looming deadline that sneaks up on all the procrastinators.  That day.

It's one I look forward to.

It's the day I get my husband back. 

This year has been different though. 

In.so.many.ways.

This time around I was the one that was gone for a long time.  And I wasn't just gone 65 hours a week plus commuting time.  I was gone every day.  Every night.

Tax season started without me here.

As soon as I got back, he was gone.

I've been so caught up in just trying to get back to routines, just trying to keep things moving, just going through the motions, that I haven't had time to be annoyed or upset that he's never around. 

He just isn't here.  Just like I wasn't.

No one to be frustrated with, no one to blame.  It is what it is.

I don't have energy to expend in that direction. 

Maybe someday our house will return to a semblance of normal again.  Maybe.

Maybe someday it will be just the six of us on a Saturday morning in our pajamas making pancakes and laughing around the table.  Maybe.

I don't even know what normal is anymore. 

It sure isn't what it used to be, never will be again.

And it's not even possible for another month, whatever it is now.

But, man was it good.

Beautiful

This week has been just gorgeous.  It's been warm, hasn't been too windy.  The storms that usually come with any heat this time of year haven't shown up quite yet. 

There is a special time in the morning around here when the mountains catch the angle of the sunlight just right, and the sky looks just like a magnificent oil painting.  Too pretty to be real.

The heron that has called our neighborhood home for as long as we've been here returned today.

It's an amazing place to live.

When Dad didn't think I could hear him, I'd hear him say things like that. 

Mom and Dad with the kids on my front porch, November 2008
Even before he was sick. 

He was sad that Colorado was so beautiful, that it drew me away.  But he understood. 

He knew what I meant once he came here and stood in my driveway and watched the sun disappear from the fall sky behind purple mountain peaks. 

I had to urge him inside more than once when he was here in the summer just weeks before AJ was born.  He was drawn outside to watch the sky as it thundered and roared.

In all the times he was here, it only snowed once.  But he was out there, bundled head to toe, watching the flakes descend from the heavens.

The time he spent here, not nearly enough.  But he was witness to our seasons, he was able to take in all the reasons we came here in the first place.  He took the the kids ice skating, he took them swimming.  He watched them play in the sprinklers, he built gingerbread houses with them while the snow fell. 

He spent so much of the time he was visiting us outside, admiring the beauty, captivated by the danger, awed by the power.

His eyes seemed constantly on the skies above, much as mine do now.

The spring brings with it a heightened awareness of the sky, it's just the time of year we are coming into.  You learn quickly to watch the sky.

Now I just do it more frequently.

Humbled and grateful for the gift of the time we had.

I miss him, but he was here.  He still is here. 

I can stand where he stood and see what he saw.

And, it is beautiful.

He was right about that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pimp My Mixer

Sometimes when you are a mom, you get to have things that are nice and pretty and just yours.

Okay, so I've just heard that.

I don't really know for sure.

Most of the time, you get your nice and pretty things that are supposed to belong to just you to stay that way only for as long as it takes for the kids to discover them.

It's like motherhood is a twist on the reality show Pimp My Ride.  In this version, everything gets slimed, colored, ripped, ruined.

Then they decide that your chapstick needs pushed up all the way and smeared.

Or that your freshly cleaned car needs to have goldfish crumbs evenly distributed throughout the entire interior.

Or that your scissors need to be used to open things like tubes of sticky yogurt and otter pops.

Or that your freshly painted walls needed a few accents.

Or that your brand new, just out of the box Kitchenaid stand mixer that you haven't even had the chance to use once yet needs something.  New and shiny isn't good enough.

Then you end up with things that look like this.

Sad part is that I got this mixer for Christmas like four years ago.  I tried half heartedly to get the stickers off, only to realize they were adhered with the strongest glue in the universe.  Then I gave up trying. 

And there they have remained. 

Now they are just part of the mixer.

The mixer that was made infinitely better by my kids.  They were right, it was missing something.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm married to an Indian woman

I am. 

For reals.

I just learned it myself, have to admit I was a little shocked.

On Christmas morning, no less.

You see, my husband, the one who is apparently an Indian woman, gives me very little input about Christmas presents.  But the input he gives is the kind of information that I am supposed to absorb completely.  Those are the kind of directions meant to be followed.

If he wants to get the kids something, he really wants to get the kids something.

Well, more correctly...if he really wants to get the kids something, he really wants me to get it for them.  Regardless of how hard it might be to find the item, how long it's going to take me to find it.  Then he basks in the glory of the gifter, taking lots and lots, dare I say all, the credit for the idea.

This isn't a new phenomenon.

But I don't bother fighting the issue since he gets so damn excited about the things he wants to give them.

And, to give the guy credit, he is almost always right on.  The thing he picks the hit of the day. 

Seeing his kids all excited makes him all excited, and that makes it all worthwhile.

On the very short list of things he wanted to give the kids this year?

Just Dance 2, the video game.

They all wanted it.  Except maybe AJ, who has no idea quite yet about all the things he can't live without.  He is content with a box and a container of play-dough still.  He's still young enough to be clueless.  And cheap to please.   I love that about toddlers.

If only kids could stay that way.

Sorry.  I got distracted there for a second.

Back to the game. 

So they wanted it, and he wanted to get it for them.  And I found it online finally after looking without luck for weeks in the stores. 

Christmas morning, they opened it and wanted to play it almost immediately.

By the way, that's how you can tell if your present doesn't suck.  If they toss it into the pile of stuff and head for the next gift immediately, you fail.

We made them wait until everything was opened and the trash picked up, of course.  Because we are mean.

Plus, it would be really hard to dance climbing over piles of wrapping paper.

Or the pile of discarded gifts. 

So they started playing, and for a while Tom sat and basked in his gift-givers-glory.  Until the real reason he wanted to get the game for them became obvious.

I should have figured it out sooner. 

I should have remembered that night when someone put a quarter in the Dance Dance Revolution game at Dave and Busters all those years ago.  Oh, the man can gather an audience.

In his defense, he was really drunk that night.  And he can shake it when he's had a few beers in him.

But he wasn't drinking on Christmas morning.  

He danced to a few songs with the kids before he got all serious competitive like.  Mastered the Ke$ha dance and the Rihanna song.  Then he scrolled through the song list a little further to the obscure stuff in the back. 

And picked this.

Katti Kalandal

About a minute into the song, I realized that my husband was clearly an Indian woman. 

All these years I have been misled.

Man, can he dance like a Bollywood diva.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Just Not That Interesting

I went to the doctor today.

Spent more time in the waiting room than I did in the exam room.  No shocker, considering it is Monday and the flu is running rampant through town right now.  I've never seen that many people waiting at urgent care.

Fortunately, I have someone I can call and have grab my kindergartner when it becomes obvious I'm not getting there in time.

I walked back to the exam room, a student nurse checking my vitals. 

She apologized for the wait, I said it was fine.  And it was.

Ask any mom, waiting in the room alone for a few minutes longer than expected is a gift. 

She didn't get it, but then again she was probably only 20 years old.

My blood pressure, a.k.a. the reason I was there, was fine.

The doctor came in, asked how I was and I gave my canned response.  I was fine.  I'm always fine. 

Then he asked how I really was.  Apparently, he's figured me out.

Either that or he checked his notes before walking into the room and had been reminded of the time a few months ago when I called and left a message from him from California that I needed to be put back on my blood pressure medication but wasn't home and didn't know when I would be.

Either way, he seemed genuinely interested, so I told him why I hadn't come in sooner.   Why I had been gone.  Why my stress level was out of control.  Why I've gained a few pounds.  Why life hasn't really calmed down since getting back.  Why I don't anticipate it getting markedly better anytime in the even remotely near future.

He rubbed my arm, told me that he'd never be able to imagine what the last few months have been like.  He's sure I am stressed out.  That I'd given my father the best gift I could have just by being there. 

And I hope he is right. 

Then he also apologized for how long I'd had to wait, I told him I understood.  It was Monday, and it's flu season.  He laughed.  If only his day had already been long for those reasons.

He said he'd had some of his most complicated patients in years on the same day.  The cases you see in medical textbooks but never actually encounter in real life.  The ones that throw the most veteran doctors for a loop.

I laughed, apologized for not being as interesting.

Then he laughed at me.  Said that I needed to give myself way more credit.  I wasn't someone who's going to get a chapter in a medical textbook, this is true.  But I am interesting for lots of other reasons.

Said he's never met anyone like me. 

Isn't the first time I've heard that.

I guess that makes me interesting.

Just not that interesting.

Not Too Early

So, apparently I forgot to change the time on my alarm clock this past weekend.

I got everywhere I needed to be yesterday on time, a by-product of my husband's diligence with changing all the clocks as soon as he got up.

Well, he changed almost all of them.

He even changed the clock in the van, which I can't do.

I'm an intelligent person, but I can't change the time on the clock in the car.

It escapes me.

He asked me once a few years ago why it was always the wrong time, and I just told him that I remembered to add an hour or subtract an hour (whatever the case was at the time), and it worked just fine for me.

He shook his head at me.

Yes, I am that person.

He's learned that he has to be responsible for changing all the clocks in the cars too, not just the house.

Thankfully my phone updates itself automatically, and no human involvement is required.  I'd never be able to figure that out.

Really, the only time I am responsible for changing is my own alarm clock.

And I forgot.  Shocker, I know.

I woke up to the sound of my mom trying urge the kids awake this morning, she was singing the same atrocious song she used to sing to me in the morning.  I squinted at my clock and wondered why she was waking them up so early.

Way too early.

Closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep.

Until I sat up in a panic.  You know that panic. Where your brain instantly realizes that you totally screwed something up.

It wasn't early.

I got a shower in, got the kids to school in time.  It required a whole lot a hurrying, and thankfully mom had the kids up and dressed and fed.

One thing I didn't do...change the clock.

Here's to hoping that I remember to do that tonight.

But I probably won't.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I get it

I watched a movie last night that I already saw a few months ago.

But what I see now is different.

I am different.

My life is different.

The things I have seen, the experiences I've had, the places I've been, they have changed how I see something as simple as a movie.

The movie, Secretariat.

A story about a woman who leaves her four children for a while to go home and take care of her father.  Who finds that the duty to help there calls her more strongly than anything else.  Who understands the significance of her choice, who struggles with it every time the phone rings and she hears of her children's challenges and accomplishments. 

She leaves from her home in Colorado, just as I did.  Her husband is also overwhelmed with his new responsibilities, wants nothing more than for her to come back, but tries not to ask that of her.

She tries to do everything she can for everyone she can,  knowing that it's an impossibility.

She sits beside her father's hospital bed, tell him she loves him, holds his hand as he dies.

She does her best to preserve what is left. 

This is the point at which our stories diverge.

She is able to keep her father's business dream alive, but I can't.

There is no racehorse coming to save our family farm.

When I saw this film for the first time, I felt very different about the main character than I do now.  I struggled with her choice to leave her children for as long as she did.  To be as far away.  To try to bail water out of a sinking ship.  To fight to hang on to what she had always known. 

Now, though, I get it.

Image from the film
I've lived it.

I've left my children a thousand miles away to take care of my dad.

I've stood, like her, alone in the barn and cried.

I've tried as best as I can to push forward, to honor the wishes of someone who isn't there anymore. 

I have a whole new appreciation for her, for her choices and for her sense of duty.

I get it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Believe....How to keep a man awake at night

Since we got married, we have always had at least one recliner in the house. 

Ahhh, recliners.  Commonly known as the man chair.

I have never really understood the appeal of them.  If I want to sit, I sit.  If I want to lay down, I lay down.  I don't often feel compelled to combine the two positions.

Plus, I can't eat or drink anything sitting like that without spilling all over the place, and I don't know many people that can.

Maybe that is why they always make recliners out of easy to clean faux leather.   They should make one with a built in wipes dispenser for spills.

I don't get the appeal.  But I know why.

I'm not a man.

About two years ago now, we moved the giant TV and recliner from it's prior home upstairs in the bonus/toy/video game/guest room.  I liked it up there.  It wasn't a giant behemoth of furniture, useful to only one person, occupying a ton of space in the middle of a room that I actually used.  Like it is now.

When it was upstairs, Tom had to make a conscious effort to go up there to watch something on TV.  It wasn't as readily available.

When I told him we had to move it downstairs so Aidan could have that room, he was downright giddy.  I can honestly say it is the first time he helped move furniture without complaining, postponing or whining at all. 

I knew why.  Moving it meant he got his TV and his chair in a room he could use them.  Whenever he wants.

Which is awesome. 

For him, I mean.

For me, it means that I never get to cuddle with my husband on the couch anymore....not that he ever was ever really one for cuddling anyway.  He's got his man chair now, and 42 inches of high definition beauty to go along with it.

Funny that he should have been so excited about it.  To be honest, he doesn't really watch all that much TV now that the chair is down here.  Every night as soon as the kids go to bed, he has a routine.  Pours a beer, then I hear the squeak of the recliner tipping back, and within mere seconds he is out cold.  Enjoying his pre-sleeping nap.

Holding the remote control hostage.

Every.single.night.

It's like that almost all year.  Except right now.  Suddenly he has the motivation to stay up until midnight if that's what it takes.  He pays attention to the TV, is glued to it almost. 

Why?

It's not hard to figure out why. 

It's March.  The month of 24/7 college basketball. 

He doesn't really care who is playing, which is funny considering he hardly watches any games at all before March.  Then he's obsessed with tournaments and play in games and overtime and brackets and seeding. 

Plus this year, his alma mater (and one of mine, almost)  is getting an invitation to the dance. 

The real dance, not the consolation dance.  The NCAA tournament.

Maybe this time around, they'll actually win a game once they get there.

I know one guy who's going to be watching.  Go State!

SDSU's Believe Chant

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fantasy, Revised

A while back we watched the movie Date Night.   

It's one of those movies that is funny on it's own merits to some degree, but made significantly more funny by it's reflection of reality.  At some point, every married couple becomes an old married couple.  Life gets boring, marriages get strained, people are just tired of the same thing over and over and over again.

It's life, presented in a comedic format.  Much funnier and far less uncomfortable that way than how it was presented in Revolutionary Road

Man, that movie was disturbing.   Mostly because it's not too far off.

I prefer to take my observations about reality from a funny viewpoint, thank you very much.

I was thinking about Date Night  yesterday, as I updated my status on Facebook.   I wrote something about how I wanted to sit by a pool and have cabana boys bring me drinks.  Which sounds pretty freaking awesome.

But I don't want anyone I am responsible for sitting next to me at that pool. 

That's the main thing.

Makes me think about Tina Fey's character in the movie.  She loves her husband.  They even still like each other.  She tells him how much things have changed.  How her fantasies now are nothing like what they used to be.  About how now she just wants to " be alone in a quiet room, where I can eat my lunch with no one touching me. And drink a diet Sprite.”

Sounds pretty damn appealing, I have to tell you.  I'd add some vodka to the Sprite though, but that's just me.

I don't get to do anything alone.  At all.  I can't even go to the bathroom without someone immediately needing something.  I haven't just read a book in years.  If I go anywhere near a body of water, I am on maternal high alert. 

I want to be able to just relax. 

Funny how much our romanticized ideals change over the years.  There was a time, not that long ago, where the thing I longed for was trips to exotic locations with the man I love. 

Now I'd give anything for a diet Sprite and a hotel room to myself.

Don't misunderstand me. 

My marriage is fine.  I love my husband.  And someday I will dream about exotic vacations with him again, but I know that isn't even a remote possibility for a very long time.

My kids aren't driving me any more crazy than they normally do, and I still adore them completely. 

But I am tired, and I want a break. 

Judging from the number of replies on my Facebook status from other women, I'm not the only one.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Don't Poke the Bear

I made my son sit in the garage with the dogs today. 

For 10 minutes.

In the dark.

Don't worry, it was the one almost in double digits, not the two year old.

He was driving me crazy and enjoying it too much.

He was poking the wrong bear.

It's been a long day in a longer week in an even longer month and quite possibly the longest year of my life. 

I'm displacing my emotions today, I am aware of that.

Trying not to think about the thing that I keep thinking about.

It's been a month.

It's been a hell of a month.

And I miss my Dad.  I still haven't really had time to process any of what has happened.  I've been too busy.

Life is going on, regardless of whether I particularly care at any given time. 

The circle of life marches forward without warning.

It's better that way for us all though.  The distractions.

Without them, I'd be over thinking things even more than I already do.  Than I am capable of doing now.

Fortunately for me, it is hard to focus on much else when you are sitting in the emergency room with a bleeding child, or staying up all night watching another one breathing, or waiting for the inevitable to start with the one who fights it, or telling yet another that this is the last time he will have to endure this particular pain, knowing that I don't know that at all. 

There is a reason I have them.

Without them, I would have thought about what today is.

But I didn't have much time for that.

I was too busy putting my nine year old in a timeout.

He's learned, hopefully, not to poke this bear. 

At least not today.

You Know Your Life is Chaotic When...

Other people start to say that they are having a day like you.

Sheesh.

It's rare to have an uneventful day around here, this is true.

There are times that I would love nothing more than a few solid weeks of boring.  Of ho-hum.  Routine and predictability and all that.  Of days with absolutely nothing to do.

It's terribly appealing to someone like me.

You don't get to put in requests for things like that though.

And I've got too much else going on anyway to bother trying.  Sitting next to me, the girl with the nose that is bleeding.  Again.

Next to her, as far away as possible, the two year old who just backhanded her in the face leading to the most recent nosebleed.  He's feeling better, and making up for lost time.  Apparently.

At school, the other two.  One scheduled for surgery.  Again.

The other spending all her energy on avoiding everyone else in the universe as much as possible so she doesn't get sick in the next 72 hours.  She's got issues with birthday parties, and we've already used our annual postponement once.

I've got more doctor and dentist and optometrist appointments in the next few weeks than you would believe.  The by-product of putting it all off the last few months. 

I need to get my car to the body shop to get fixed...you know, when I have nothing better to do than drive to Denver and drop it off.

And soccer just started.  On top of Scouts and church and ice skating and choir. 

I love soccer, really I do.  But with two kids playing at the same time, I am gearing up to eat, sleep and breathe it for months. 

Three practices and two games a week, at least.

Made the mistake of eyeing the summer activity schedules this week. 

I'm already tired.

I need to start scheduling naps.

Not today though.  The two year old is feeling better and climbing the walls to prove it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stronger than a grown man

By now you are all graphically aware of the fact that Ally is a bleeder.  She's been having issues with her nosebleeds again since getting sick last weekend.

Put it this way...my brother in law is a paramedic.  And even he freaked out the first time he saw her with a nosebleed.  She has a special health plan at school in the event she gets one there again. 

People panic when it happens.

I am used to it, unfortunately.  And so is she.

We've had her tested for clotting disorders, they all came back negative. 

We've entertained the idea of cauterizing her nose before, but the appointments kept getting bumped or postponed and we figured that someone was trying to tell us something. 

Plus, they stopped happening as often.

Until this week.

I tried to get her regular ENT to do it yesterday, but that doctor is very pregnant and not much wanting to be sneezed on by a bloody kid infected with the flu.  Not that I can honestly say that I blame her.

They referred me to someone else, that someone else never called back. 

Then Ally was up half the night again with a bloody nose and ended up with one that we couldn't stop this morning.

Grabbed some old kitchen towels and threw her in the car.

Ah, the smell of the emergency room at 6:20 a.m. 

The doctor, bless his heart, he tried to talk me out of the procedure. It hurts, it isn't necessary most of the time.  There are things we can do to prevent them, to stop them.  Yada, yada, yada.

I talked him into it.  We've been dealing with this for years.  We do all the preventive stuff we can.  We know how to make them stop almost all the time, though calling Children's Hospital at 2am when it's been bleeding for 45 minutes straight isn't exactly my idea of a good time. 

I wanted it over with, but it wasn't just me. 

My husband gets queasy at the sight of that much blood and wanted me to just take her to the ER yesterday. 

More than that, though, Ally wanted it fixed.

Waking up in a pool of blood gets old.

She told him to fix her nose.

The doctor crammed cotton balls with numbing medicine up her nose, commenting how calm she was the whole time.  Said he'd be back after it had time to work.

When it was time to cauterize the blood vessels, she sat there calmly and held still.  She didn't cry or freak out or move a muscle. 

This is the same child that required four people to hold her down for allergy testing, mind you.  She is wicked strong and feisty.  But she wanted this done.  She wants this over.

The nurses were amazed.  They said they've never seen anyone that calm.  Said they've had to hold grown men down to do this procedure.

Ally put 'em all to shame today. 

Crossing my fingers that it works....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Slightly Antagonistic Tertiary Friend

We don't watch that many TV shows, and when we do finally get around to watching them, it is usually weeks after they actually aired. 

Welcome to life with children.

What did we do before we had a DVR? 

Anyway, we were watching an episode of one of my favorite shows, The Big Bang Theory, and Sheldon referred to himself as Howard's slightly antagonistic tertiary friend

Which is just freaking hilarious.  I appreciate intelligent comedic writing, especially of the dork variety.

It made me think though.  I basically am the slightly antagonistic (though not always tertiary) friend.

And then I asked for topic ideas on my Facebook page and one of my closest friends asked me to write about the importance of friendship.  Specifically, the role that I play in her life. 

I am the person who talks her off the ledge when she wants to let her crazy out. 

I do that for a lot of people, though. 

I guess it's because I'm not the kind of person to sugarcoat things.  If you're being ridiculous, chances are that I'm going to tell you.   If you need a kick in the ass, I'll give it to you. 

Gladly.

But only because I love you. 

We all need people in our lives that know us well enough that they can tell us to knock it off.  Who know when we are lying.  To tell us we are crazy, or that we aren't.  To tell us that we deserve better or that we should be more grateful.  To tell us to think about our choices more.  To share in our joy, to understand our pain. 

To get it.  Really get it.

We all need real friends.  Not just the ones that you know....the ones that know you

We all especially need slightly antagonistic ones.

If they are dorky, that's just a bonus.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Grosser

Motherhood brings with it a substantial amount of disgusting experiences.

You never know when the next fungal infection or diaper rash or round of head lice will show up.

Kids injure themselves.  You will clean up a lot of open wounds, you will look at some of them and think aloud along these lines:

Oh, yeah, that one probably needs some stitches. 

Whether you actually bother driving to the doctor to get them is a whole different issue.  By the fourth kid, we have learned to shrug our shoulders and let AJ have a scar or two.  Butterfly bandages work almost as good, right?

When Ally had her face glued back together last year, the doctor had to cut out a few chunks of fat so it would heal smoothly.  Let me tell you....

Nasty. 

I've yet to have a kid break a bone....I know the odds are that eventually someone will. 

Injured kids are bad enough, but sick ones bring a whole new level of gross into your life. 

Pink eye.  Diarrhea.  Vomit.

I have to tell you though, today was a first for me.

Even a seasoned mother of four can get thrown for a loop every once and again.

I was a little proud of myself for not freaking out, actually.

It's a good thing my husband wasn't home.  Dude can't handle this level of nasty.

Ally is prone to nosebleeds and right now she has the flu.  Every time she's had a bad coughing or sneezing fit in the past 24 hours, she has had a nosebleed. 

Some of it comes out of her nose, but most of it runs down the back of her throat. 

Today, she barfed up blood.

In.my.hands.

It doesn't get much grosser than that. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Man Flu

So half the people in our house got flu shots this year.  The older three kids, the ones most likely to be exposed, bring it home and share it.  I opted not to get one for AJ since he reacts worse and worse with every shot he gets, and hoped that he would be insulated by the shots his older siblings got.

Tom and I skipped them this year. 

I am fully aware that by not getting AJ a flu shot I was rolling the dice.  I know that they are basically the inoculation version of an educated guess, each year's flu shot derived from the strain they think will work it's way around the world.  Sometimes they are right. 

Sometimes the guess is off.

This is one of those years.

Even with the shots, Aidan got it first.  He gave it to AJ.  As of last night, Ally has it too. 

It's just a matter of time for Ashley.  If there is a flu virus in a 25 mile radius, she'll get it.  She always does.

It was confirmed as influenza on Friday at the pediatrician.  AJ was just outside the 48 hour fever window, the antivirals wouldn't do a thing so I didn't even bother getting the prescription filled.

I think it's interesting that every year the kids have had the shots, someone in the house ended up with the flu.  The years we skipped, no one did. 

Ally tends to curl up in a ball and lay on the floor when she doesn't feel good.  That's how she has always dealt with being sick....and to be honest, I kind of like it when she is sick.  Less talking, less antagonizing, less bossing everyone else around.  I can tell she doesn't feel good when she is quiet.

Ashley isn't a whole lot different.  She can run a fever like no one's business, frequently hovering in the 105 range.  She lays around and watches a lot of TV, and doesn't do much else.

No surprise since that is pretty much how I act.  I retreat into my cave and wait to get better, unless I can't.  Then I just function.

Then there is the matter of the boys.  Oh, the boys.

They are more susceptible to the worst strain of the flu.  The one that never seems to affect females.  Some of you may be familiar with it. 

Man Flu.

If you have never experienced man flu, let me describe it for you.

It causes intractable pain, constant whining and persistent demands for gatorade, jello and crackers.  It seems to affect all parts of the body, rendering the sufferer incapable of meeting even their most basic needs. 

Man flu causes the sufferer to wail and moan, makes them simultaneously need medication and refuse it.

Man flu keeps everyone awake at night, even those who are healthy.

Man flu leaves the stricken unable to shower and leaves them incapable of wearing normal clothing.  Man flu requires ice cream and homemade chicken noodle soup.

Those suffering from man flu are unable to throw their own tissues away, clean up their messes or make their own food.

The only cure for man flu is no fewer than 4 days of the couch being firmly held down, the remote control in the sole possession of the ill patient. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from man flu, understand that it is a temporary condition.  All the needing and the whining will come to an end, even if it may seem like an eternity for the caregiver. 

Aidan fought man flu last week, and his battle resulted in no less than 4 consecutive hours of Must Love Cats, several nights of moaning and the consumption of all the Gatorade in the house.

AJ is going into day 6, and he is starting to make me consider adding a kangaroo pouch to my body permanently.  About the only time he isn't following me crying, Mama, I hold you, is when, wait for it, I am actually holding him.

Tom hasn't been stricken with this man flu yet.  It's coming. 

We're going to need more gatorade.

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