Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Until Next Time

I have failed as a mother.  Miserably.

A few weeks back, Ashley's foot starting hurting at halftime in a scrimmage against the boys.  She'd just come off the field, running faster and playing harder than she ever had.  After sitting for a few minutes, she couldn't stand.

One of her teammates and best friends had just been hurt in the same game, and for a moment I thought her injury was one manifested for sympathetic purposes.  It wasn't.  There was something wrong.

At first we thought it was just a sprain.  We iced it and wrapped it at home, got her off her feet and forced her to rest.  The resting never lasts long with her, she's always back up and bouncing off the walls as soon as she thinks we aren't watching.

It took a few days, but the pain faded.  Or so she said.

We thought it was better.  We were wrong.

After the second game in the tournament over the weekend, she started complaining about her foot again.  In the meantime, we'd bought new cleats and shin guards to make sure everything fit correctly.  We had her rest and ice it, then told her if it hurt too bad she could sit out the last game.

In the back of my head, I was already thinking it was broken and we'd missed it.  We hadn't taken her in soon enough.

Tom carried her to the sidelines, figuring she'd stay off it.  That she'd rest and root on her team alongside her injured friend.

We should know her better by now.  Not only did she have coach put her in, she played offense.  Played through the pain, ignored what her body was telling her.

When we got home, she asked if she could go to the doctor.  I asked her why.  She said he foot was hurting pretty bad.  I asked her why she played the last game if it was hurting.

She just smiled and said she wanted to.

Got her into the podiatrist yesterday, and the doctor confirmed what my heart already knew.  Stress fracture, located dangerously close to her growth plate.

The season is over before it even technically began.  The jersey with her number on it will wait until next time.  The new cleats might not fit by then at the rate she's been growing.

She'll be on the sidelines at a few of the games though, the fact that she can't play won't be enough to stop her.  Besides, she's looking to get some autographs from the up and coming players of the future.

Have a great season girls, we will miss you all.  Play hard Pumas!!!!

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Not so fictional

She peeled him off her leg and moved towards the door, knowing in her mind that he would be fine moments after she left his sight.  He begged her to stay, the first who had.

This day was one with months, if not years, of anticipation.  He'd been looking forward to it with such excitement.  Her, with trepidation.

As she walked out the door, she fought back the tears that would come regardless of her efforts.  

What do I do now, who am I without him?  If this part of my life is coming to a close, who can I be?  Who should I be?

She held back the tears until she was far away and had found a park bench.  The steel was cold and uncomfortable.  

The park was vast and empty, except for the man with the giant black dog on the other side.  The breeze slight.  She looked up at the maple tree to see the very tops of the leaves showing the slightest hint of change already.  How was that even possible?  It seemed like just yesterday the trees were barren in the dead of winter.  They'd just gotten their leaves, hadn't they?  

Then she remembered that it was almost fall and she'd just dropped off her baby at school and even though the thermometer still indicated summer, cooler days were coming.  Summer had come and gone and she'd barely even noticed.

Too many other things, far more significant than the name of the month on the calendar, had happened.  Too many things that she wished had never occurred.  Too many things that she tried desperately to wipe from her memories.

She picked up the book resting in her lap and tried to read it.  Tried to transport herself to another place.  Tried to care about the characters and the story.  She read and re-read pages, absorbing nothing.  Put the book aside.

She couldn't do it.

She shut her eyes to will away the tears again.  Opened them to a sky full of birds, soaring high above her.  They were engaged in a beautiful mid air dance, free and alive.  She wanted to feel that again.

She didn't even know who she was anymore.  

All she knew is that she wasn't who she thought she was.  Nothing was what she thought.  And nothing ever would be again.

On top of that uncertainty, there was today.  Today, and forever after, one person would need her less.  A chapter of her life as a woman and mother closed.

She peeked down at her phone, no new messages.  No new calls.  She'd hoped there would be.

It was time.  Time to return to the life she thought she knew, to retrieve the boy and take him home and pretend for another day.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Me Big Boy

The youngest guest at AJ's birthday party yesterday was a two week old baby girl.  Brand new to the world, she was full of that intoxicating baby smell.  I only got to hold her for a few minutes, but it took me instantly back to the days when he was that little.

He was my smallest baby, my earliest.  And somehow one of the strongest.

He was a good baby, content to go and do whatever we needed so long as he was nestled in the crook of my arm.  He curled up in a little ball in the sling for what seemed like months.

As I was standing in the kitchen holding the baby, doing the automatic swaying that comes with the experience of motherhood, I watched my baby across the room.

Not a baby anymore.

He reminds me of this daily, with his constant proclamations of, "me big boy now".  He is pretty much potty trained.  He's starting preschool tomorrow.  He's riding his own bike these days.

How did he get to be so grown up so fast?  How do we so easily forget how small they were?

This little boy had a ball at his party.  He laughed and played and swam and danced.  He even clapped his little hands in excitement between every gift.  Pure joy.

Happy Birthday AJ.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

love/hate

I completely have a love/hate relationship with birthday parties.

Obviously, I love making my kids happy.

So, clearly I hate it when they have the inevitable breakdown in the middle of the party.

I love seeing them get so excited about planning the party.

I hate the actual planning.

I love that they spend time with their friends.

I hate the politics of the invitations....the if you invite this kid, you have to invite this one....or if you invite this kid, you can't invite this one.

I love that I've always let them pick out their own themes.

I hate that they usually pick things which require a whole lot of creativity on my part.

I love that I can almost always come through and make the games/invitations/cakes presentable.

I hate that two months after each party, that theme is widely available in every store in town.

I love having a houseful of family and friends.

I hate cleaning it before and all the anxiety that comes with having that many sets of eyeballs looking at the mess that is my house.

Speaking of which, I've got all those eyeballs showing up in a few hours.  I've got to get busy.

At least I already made the cake this time....I was laughing to myself last night as I was frosting a monster's crotch that I really should remember to write about that.

Happy Birthday, AJ.  I'll share pics tomorrow....you know, after I clean the house again.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

From the sidelines

I am tired.  Apologies in advance for the inevitable typos that will be in this one and I will catch at some later date and beat myself up about.

We spent the entire day on the sidelines at a soccer tournament. Ashley's first one.

They played well, with only a few moments of inattention that the team paid for.  Won two games, lost the one in the middle.

The loss is a win in my view though, because they were playing one of the best teams I've ever seen in that age group, boys or girls.  They only lost 0-1.  That team destroyed every other opponent of the day.

Ash fought through her wheezing and chest tightness.  I was afraid it was going to be a short day when it all started to affect her before the first game even started.  But she got through it, and she even played offense.

Between the second and third games, her ankle started giving her trouble again, the one that she sprained in the scrimmage against the boys a few weeks back.  As with her asthma, she toughed it out.  Walked it off.  Played again.

I'm proud of my little girl, but not for the outcomes of the games or the medal hanging around her neck.  I'm proud of her for loving what she does enough to fight for it.  To push herself.  To finish.

To get through the entire day with a smile on her face.

The thing about asthma is that it's a condition that no one can see, unless they know what it means when the bags form under her eyes.

It's not an obvious obstacle, but it's one that she has to climb over every single time she steps on that field.   Most people could never understand what she goes through just to do what she loves.

She is so strong.   She is my inspiration.

And she's one hell of a soccer player.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Some Days

Some days I just have nothing good to write, and so I decide that it's better I don't.

I'd rather keep things tied up in little pretty packages that don't leave anyone wondering.

Plus, I am tired and cranky, and that sure isn't helping.

It would be better for me to find something positive to channel this energy into anyway.

I've got a birthday party to get ready for.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Papa

There really is no question who I have to write about today.
Him.

This day is for him.  It's his birthday.

Almost 20 years ago now, I met him for the first time.  I was nervous and not really sure what to expect.  He was a detective in the LAPD and the father of my 15 year old boyfriend.  He was quiet and reserved, all kinds of parental.  

He had high standards for his kids and demanded that they live up to them.  He worked hard and never complained.  He took genuine joy in his family and loved the things they loved.  

It didn't take long for me to get to know his other side.  He has a ridiculous sense of humor.  I've seen him draw faces on people with sunscreen and parallel park a boat.  He's a prankster.  He loves to mess with people.  It is over this personality trait that him and I have bonded the most over the years.  No matter what else is going on, good, bad or indifferent, we can always count on each other for harassment.

I've needed the comic relief in my life lately.

A few years ago now, they moved to be closer to us.  He taught my children to love spending time with him, and that it wasn't where they were going or what they were doing that mattered.  It's that they are together.  Aidan loves to spend a morning sitting in a boat, even on the days that no one catches anything.  Ashley will gladly spend hours sweeping out his garage just to hang out with him.  Ally just started full time school last week, and is already lamenting the fact that her weekly lunches with Papa are a thing of the past.  AJ can't wait for his turn.

He will drop just about anything for us, no questions asked.  He was a police officer by trade, but has since become an electrician, a drywaller, a mechanic, an appliance repairman, a personal driver, a landscaper, a tile installer, a mover and more.  He knows I need something when I ask him if he's busy today.

He's never too busy.

He's had to take on a new role in my life, one that isn't fair for me to ask of him.  He's the only father I have left now, and I find myself leaning on him more than I probably should.  I will never be able to repay him for the things I have needed.

I am a lucky girl to have him in my life.

Happy Birthday, Papa.  

Love you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Seasoned

We took our baby to preschool yesterday to meet his teacher for the first time.

He's definitely one of the youngest in the class, and appeared to be the smallest.  My little petite boy.

Any doubts I may have had about his readiness to go and be away from me vanished the second we got to the building.  The doors weren't open yet, and we had to wait outside.  He stood there patiently, wearing a backpack almost as big as he is, eager with anticipation.

He immediately left our sides once we got in there, without so much as a glance to make sure we were keeping an eye on him.  He went to the bathroom, washed his hands, cleaned up his toys, all on his own.

Like he's been there for years already.

I'd suppose he has, really.  He's been practicing for this his entire life.  He's spent hours and hours in preschool indirectly already.

As we sat there in our miniature chairs and listened to the teachers talk, I glanced over at my husband.  Caught him people watching.

It's pretty obvious that we are the veteran parents, the well seasoned ones.

We didn't micromanage anything.  We didn't insist on showing him around the room or force him to talk to the teacher.  We didn't follow him around and make sure he wasn't touching anything he wasn't supposed to be.  We didn't hold his hand outside and walk him around the playground.  When he came in during the meeting too early, we shooed him back outside.  When he started playing with the sink, we gave him a minute to stop before jumping up to intervene.

You can spot the first timers in a second.  The ones more nervous than the kids are.  The ones that seem lost when the kid goes off to play.  The ones anxiously watching out the window while only half paying attention to the adults.  The ones that have to tell the teachers about every quirk their child has.  The ones who have a million questions.   Who are practically panic stricken at the idea of bringing their preschooler in underwear.

Experience has taught us a lot.  In particular, it's taught us how much with parenting is about observing and watching, not shaping and helping.  It's not about controlling them, it's about letting them grow. Just as with a seed in a pot, you give them water and sunshine, then you have to sit back and let it happen.

Let them be kids.

Let them get dirty.

Let them find their way.

Let them make their own friends.

Let them make mistakes.

Let them fall.

Let them miss you.

Let them go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Intentional Torture

I spent almost six hours at the doctor yesterday, almost all of it in the allergy department, and only half of it for me.

I have been pushing off this appointment for a long time, not really wanting to do it.  Ignorance is bliss....or something like that.

But then I subjected all of my children to this method of torture, and promised them that at some point I would do it too.  After all, I am why they had to go through it.  Oh, the wonders of genetics.

Allergy testing.

The day didn't go exactly as planned though.  They were planning to test me for insect venoms first, since my brother is anaphylactic to bees.  There's a good chance I am too based on how my body reacted the first time I was stung a few years ago.

Fortunately, I have a very thorough doctor.  One that noticed the other medications I take.  One of which would have blocked the effectiveness of epinephrine if I did react and they had to attempt to save my life.

Apparently, I've been unintentionally gambling with my life for a few years.  Not just by walking around in a world full of bees, but by taking a pill that could have messed with emergency medicine.

So I had to get an urgent appointment with my regular doctor to get my medication changed....which is a whole different story.

Thanked the allergist for not killing me.  Fortunately, she has a good sense of humor and laughed.  Thanked me for not dying.

That was just how my morning began.

I have to wait a week for them to safely test me for bees.  Instead, they ran the skin test for allergens.  If you've never had to go through this process, consider yourself lucky.  They scrape your skin with all kinds of potential allergens, then let it fester.  See what happens.

In my case, I broke out in huge welts.  Some of my reactions were worse than the histamine control they use.  Found out, as I suspected, that I am allergic to seasonal allergens that are present almost all year.  I'm allergic to the ash trees on my property.  I'm allergic to dust mites and cats too.

The kids really want to get a cat.  Sigh.

I left the office for the first time with a list of the things I reacted to.  A new prescription for allergy medicine.  A recommedation for allergy shots.  And a new found legitimate fear of little furry flying insects.

I wasn't done though....I had to go back.  For my other appointment to get my medications changed, and for Ashley.

Asthma girl.  She had to do an exercise tolerance test, which basically amounts to intentional torture for her.  Since she plays soccer in the afternoon for the most part, and that's the time of day that her asthma gives her the most trouble, the allergy doctor needed to see what happens when she runs.

So I took her in and they tested all her lung functions and vital signs at rest.  Then we took her outside in the almost 100 degree heat and made her run until her lungs burned.

Only took 3 minutes, and her lung function dropped over 20%.  Her doctor isn't really sure how she even manages to play at all.

Another appointment, another med change, another followup scheduled.

Crossing our fingers....she's got a tournament to play in this weekend.

My little girl will be out there, pushing herself to do what she loves.  If you ever want to be inspired by some one's courage, by their limitless passion, all you have to do is check out #3.

She's pretty amazing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Disconnected

In this crazy fast paced world, it seems that we are always reachable.  That there is never a time to shut it down, turn it off.

With the constant connection comes inevitable distraction.

The inability to ever be fully connected to anything else.

Your hand always reaching for your pocket or purse, the constant glances at the phone.  Texting at the dinner table.  Ignoring the clerk in the store because of whoever else you're talking to.

We are connected, but we aren't at all.

These days, there are so many of us that don't even wear watches anymore because we don't need to.

Phones do everything.

They keep us tied to each other, they make up mobile photographers and videographers.  They give us constant news updates.

They can be a lifeline in times of emergency, a map in the times we are lost.

It's a wonder we ever survived without them.

Or is it?

You see, I have a phone.  Just a phone.  It's not a smartphone.  It takes grainy pictures at best.  I can text, but there is no internet access.  No apps to keep my children busy in supermarket checkout lines.

Someday I'm sure I'll get a smartphone.  I'm not in as much a hurry as you might think.

Yesterday I was reminded of what life used to be like.  How simple it was.

We took the kids to the pool for the entire afternoon.  Just a blanket and some towels, a basket of sandwiches and apple slices, water bottles and sunscreen.  No one there we knew.  No one we were supposed to meet.  No other place to go.  Nothing we had planned.

And no phones.  Both our phones sat idle on the kitchen counter at home.

No checking pockets, no incoming texts, no baseball score updates, no newsfeed, no Facebook, no calls.

No contact with the outside world.

Just us, the sun, the water and our little bubble.

It was pretty fantastic.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Somewhere

I haven't written much about my Dad here lately because I haven't really had much time to process things in regards to him.  Too much else going on.

In fact, a few weeks ago, the six month anniversary of the day he left this world came and went and I didn't even give it a passing mention here.

I was on the road back from my brother in law's wedding and almost completely distracted.  It's probably a good thing.

In some ways I think that all my distractions of late have been a blessing and a curse in this department.  A blessing in as much that I haven't been preoccupied with mourning his loss, but a curse in that I am just that much further from really dealing with it the way I probably need to.

I've been talking to him a lot lately, though there are times that it feels like he is too far away now to hear me.

Yesterday we were on one of the rural highways between our home and that of my in laws.   We were on the way to pick up the little people and go back to reality. The warm summer air surrounding us, the sun peeking through the sun roof.

I looked up to the sky, searched it briefly for a message, for a sign.  No heart shaped clouds waiting up there for me.

I fought back the first tears I've cried for him in almost two months, then the first notes played on the radio.  The unmistakable pluckings of the ukulele, the soulful hum of Iz.

And just like that, he was with me again.  At just about exactly the time I needed him.

Miss you, Dad.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

One Step Closer

We are, that is.

To what, you may ask?

To AARP memberships and senior discounts and early bird dinners. Getting old can suck it.

Tom and I went out last night on an actual date without any kids. Which is unlike our last date night, which involved a miniature boy in a bar.  Well, technically it was the patio of a bar, so it's not like we actually took our baby to a bar.  Right?  Right???

This time we managed to pawn off all the kids and escape.  Don't get me wrong, I love my children....but sometimes I want them to go away.  Mwhahaha

We drove to downtown Denver and hung out in a sports bar for the first time in years.  Maybe even a decade.  He was a little overwhelmed by how loud it was.  I told you, we are getting old.

We were amused pretty much the entire time by the couple on a date next to us.  They were probably in their early to mid 20's and he'd hit that one out of the park if you know what I mean.  He must have known she was out of his league because he spent most of the time trying to impress her on the indoor basketball court.  They were playing H-O-R-S-E, and he insisted on taking all his shots with his head turned.  You know, to look more skilled and awesome. Except he missed every single shot.

If you look like a tool and she's laughing at you....I don't think it's working.  Just saying.

Good lord, I don't ever want to have to date again.

After a couple pitchers of beer, we headed to the stadium to root on the Dodgers against the Rockies.

Decked out in Dodger Blue, we took our seats behind home plate in a sea of purple. Eric Young and Tony Gwynn on the field.

Wait a hot second.

Eric Young, Jr. and Tony Gwynn, Jr. were on the field.  What the hell???

We are old enough now to have cheered on the children of players that we rooted for in stadiums not that long ago.  I swear.

In a desperate attempt to convince ourselves that we aren't that old yet, we started evaluating the rosters of both teams.  Which was a monumentally bad idea.  Aside from a few veteran players and some mid game relievers, we are older than every single one of them.

How did that happen?

What makes you feel old?  Right now, I practically feel like a dinosaur.

Okay, so I'm a dinosaur with brand new sparkly shoes.

And that makes getting old suck a little less.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Keeping Busy

And here I was worried that AJ would be bored when all the other kids went back to school.  That we'd be stuck all day staring at each other trying to figure out what to do next.

I should have known better, really.

He's not a child who is capable of being bored.  Clearly.

A few days back, he asked me if he could go to poop in my bathroom.  I obliged, then giggled at his insistence on using the phrase go to poop.  It's hilarious and adorable and I have no idea where he got it from.  It is the things like this which keep the child alive some days.

I went about whatever it was that I was doing and realized after a bit that he was still in there.  Usually he's in and out and self-wiped in a few minutes (still not entirely sure how I lucked out with that....he comes from a long line of non-wipers).

I went to check on him.  Peeked my head in there and this is what I saw.
The entire roll of toilet paper.  Brand new one, too.  He was still happily spinning the roll when I caught him.  Stinker.

Seriously though, if your kids are ever driving you crazy, just give em a roll of toilet paper.  Guaranteed to keep them busy for a good few minutes at least.

School started yesterday and as I anticipated, he was bored for a little while.  Until I got on the phone, then he disappeared.  I called up the stairs and he responded.  By the sound of his voice, I knew he was in the hallway.

Which is never a good sign.  There are no toys in the hallway, nothing to do.  There is no good that could come from him being in the hallway.

The hallway has had an entire bottle of shampoo dumped on the carpet, and all the paint colored yellow in the infamous Ally painting day.  If you've not read that post, you really should.  Gives some insight into life with this boy.

I immediately became suspicious and went up to investigate.  There were little white crumbs all over the stairs.     I turned on the light, and realized that my walls had been decorated yet again.  All of them.  From the floor all the way to about the 3 1/2 foot mark.  This time with some white chalky, yet slimy substance.

In the corner, a little boy with his entire hand crammed into his brother's deodorant.

I'm waiting it out, hoping that it will dry out a little.  It's stuck in the texture of the drywall and not coming out.

This morning, I had to go to the bathroom.  I should just never do that.

He climbed up on the kitchen counter and sprayed the entire bottle of baby sunscreen in the corner.  The corner with all the bread and the vegetables and the bananas.  There is a nasty white film that just isn't coming off.  Damn that waterproof nature!

I guess the good news is that my walls won't stink and my bananas will be supremely protected from the harm of the sun.

Anyone want to borrow a 3 year old for a few days?

Sad Mommy

I'm such a cry baby.

It really is ridiculous.

My emotions have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride as it is. Throw in the first day of school and I'm a mess.

The kids decided yesterday that they wanted to ride the bus.  To and from school.

They didn't want me to take them or pick them up.  They didn't want me holding their hands and walking them to their classes on the first day, taking the pictures of them next to their friends and new teachers.

They are big kids now.

I just don't have it in me right now to try and convince them that they still need me.

Instead, I will trust that I've done such a good job raising them that they have a ton of self confidence.  I'll convince myself that even if they don't really think they need me, that they still do.

I will feign pride at their independence.

I will kiss them goodbye and watch them get on that bus and ride away, one more day closer to the day they leave for good.

Motherhood is really hard sometimes.

These are the days that no one warns you about.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life Imitating TV

We watch a lot of ridiculous TV shows over the summer.  By extension, the kids do too.

It's not like there is a whole lot else on this time of year, really.

We adore Wipeout.     We love to watch people fall off platforms and get launched across ponds.  And what is not to love about a set of gigantic red balls?  Love me some big balls.

Get yer minds out of the gutter.  ;)

We have spent summers in the past watching I survived a Japanese game show and Who wants to be a superhero?  The kids are obsessed with America's Got Talent now.

A few weeks ago, my dear husband caught a commercial for another of the shows.

American Ninja Warrior.

Mostly it's just a bunch of guys trying to survive obstacle courses in the hopes of getting to go on a trip to Japan and attempt an even bigger obstacle course.  There's not actually much cool ninja stuff in the show.

But we watch.  Have been watching since the beginning of the season.  And by this point, we are all into it.

Tom laughed audibly when I yelled at the TV after one of the heavily favored contestants fell in the early rounds.

AJ has been fighting bedtime lately.  His current method of choice is to scream at the top of his lungs until we cave in and let him lay down on the couch.  The other kids in the house need to sleep for school.

Really, though, I think he just wants to watch Ninja Warrior.

Because he is a little ninja in training.

He can scale walls, he can climb up and down the outside of the banister.  He free climbed up the cabinets in the kitchen yesterday.  His upper body strength is nothing short of magnificent.  He's been escaping from confinement practically since birth.  He does flips and roundhouse kicks.

That last one is what got him in trouble yesterday.

He ran full speed across the family room and kicked the cabinet door.  The glass cabinet door.  The glass that he put his leg promptly through and shattered the glass.  The glass that cut him in at least 6 different places.

As an aside, I suppose I should point out that I don't condone this kind of behavior.  He isn't usually permitted to assault my furniture.  It all happened in less than 3 seconds.

Aidan is learning first aid.  He had to come along to apply pressure in the car on the worst bleeders.  The wait at urgent care was almost 3 hours.  After about a half hour, the bleeding stopped.  We left and headed to the pharmacy for some glue and butterfly strips.

When you live with ninjas, you get good at repair work.

This boy....some days it feels like I'm just keeping him alive.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

He Owes Me

My oldest son has been nagging me constantly for months now. Months.

He has wanted to see the last movie in the Harry Potter series since they started running the previews for it some time last year.

I promised him a long time ago that if he read all the books, I'd take him to see at least one of the movies in the theater.  It took him this long to get through them all....some of them are close to 1000 pages.  He's seen all the previous movies, yes.  But he's seen them at home.

About a week before the last movie hit theaters, he completed the book.  And he wanted to call in that promise I'd made.  Except there was a little more to it now.

He wanted to see the movie, and he wanted to see it with a friend.  A friend who'd also read all the books and never seen any of the films in the theater.

He then proceeded to ask me no less than six times a day every single day all summer when we could go.  Something always came up. Someone was sick.  Someone was busy.  Someone had plans.  Someone had to go out of town.

They start back to school tomorrow, and last week he started to sense a panic that he was running out of time.

We went yesterday.  And even being as big of a Harry Potter fan as I've always been, I am even more so now.  I'd also never seen the films in the theater, and they really are better on a big screen.

Aidan loved the movie, his friend had fun.

Checked that off my to-do list just in time.

I told him last night that he owed me though.  That he'd better appreciate what a nice mom he has.

In the world he lives in, we just went to the movies.  In the world that I live in, I know that seeing a 2 hour movie with one child and a spare involved a whole lot more than that.

- Coordination with the other parents.
- Coordination with my in laws to watch all the other kids.
- Driving to and from to drop off the littles.
- Driving to and from to get the friend.
- Dealing with the inevitable fits and tantrums thrown by the other kids who knew they weren't going.

All told, this 2 hour movie experience lasted more like 5 hours.  And that's if you don't count the nagging from the entire summer.

It was just a movie, right?

The things we do for our kids....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Behaving Badly

There is a saying that no good deed goes unpunished.

Oh lord, is it true.

Sure, there have been a bunch of good things I have done for other people that didn't result in something coming back to bite me in the ass.  But the ones that have come back have been no holds barred, open field tackles that left me bruised and broken laying in the middle of the grass.

Truth is, I am a good person.  A really freaking good person.  There have been plenty of times that goodness has been tested for sure, particularly as of late.

Though part of me wants to become cynical and jaded, to stop trusting people and caring, to shut down and become an ape shit crazy bitch, I won't.

I can't.

I'm not that person.  I've got morals and standards, yes.  But there is more than that.   I also have four children and have to worry about how they see me.  The example I am to them.

Besides, I look terrible in stripes and never met a jumpsuit that flattered my curves quite right.

Wink, wink.

Anyway, I am fed up with people who take advantage of the fact that I am good person.  Who disregard my feelings, throw them aside like they don't matter, pursue their own selfish wants without a hint of concern for the damage they cause.

I won't be going into details about my most recent betrayal.  Suffice it to say that friendship means nothing to some people.  Absolutely nothing.  My help, my shoulder to cry on, my advice, my shelter to hide under, my open arms meant nothing.  Even my understanding and forgiveness meant nothing.

It's a hard lesson.  You live most of your life thinking that you know someone only to find out that you never really knew them at all.  And that whatever you did mean to them at one point can so quickly be discarded it's as if it was never there to begin with.

You know who you are.

Now, since I'm not going to tell stories about the things currently triggering my rage, I'll resurrect an oldie.

This story is far more entertaining anyway.

A while back, we had an old car that we were looking to get rid of.  We figured that we'd help out a friend rather than trade it in for a fraction of what it was worth.  We gave the friend the car, signed off the title, patted ourselves on the backs for the good deed we'd done.

Yeah, well....

A few months later, my husband found out that a bench warrant for his arrest had been issued.  Seems our friend never recorded the title, then ran a few stop light cameras.

The tickets had been issued to our prior address, we never got them.  Time passed.  Court dates came and went and people failed to appear.

Oops.

I made the call to the friend, told him to do whatever it took to fix it. I wouldn't let Tom talk....he wouldn't have been nearly as calm as I was.  Then again, he was the one with a bounty on his head.

I'd have been pretty pissed off too.

He doesn't look good in stripes either.

14 days

By this afternoon, I should be heading rapidly downhill.  I'm not looking forward to the trip, especially since it's poised to be a long one.

By Thursday, I'll likely be whining.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  I don't even want to think about what a mess I'll be after that.

And all that eyeliner nonsense of the last few months, it's probably coming to a screeching halt here soon.  There won't be much point trying to put it on if I'm just going to be crying it all off shortly thereafter.

Crying involuntarily, that is.

My eyes are already watering.  Dammit.

Why, you ask?

I had to stop taking my allergy medicine yesterday.  I have to stay off it for 2 weeks.  Because I am a sadist.

Clearly, I am already thinking this is a monumentally bad idea.

I'm doing it so that I can finally be put through the battery of allergy testing.  Find out what I'm allergic to.  Why I occasionally break out in hives for days or weeks.  Why I've practically lived on benadryl at many points in my life.  Why I sneeze and cough and itch.

Up first is the one that I'm most nervous about.  Bee stings.  I've been stung exactly once in my life, on my foot.  My leg swelled up past my knee before I got home and got benadryl in me.  You aren't supposed to react to the first sting, even if you are allergic, since it's the exposure that sensitizes your body to the allergen.  I did.  Yay me.

Oh, and my brother, the person in the world with the most similar DNA makeup to me?  He's anaphylactic to them.  Which is awesome.

I figured it was safer to find out in a clinical setting than out in a field one day.

It's a little ironic that I love the fuzzy little flying creatures, that my married name is derived from them, that my blog and logos are bee themed, don't you think?

So, if I don't show back up around here next week, you'll know why!  Hahaha

Assuming I live through that whole experience, I have to go through all the rest of the testing.  Which, knowing my luck, will be completely inconclusive.  Like Ally, my allergic reactions tend to be complete mysteries.  I almost never know what the trigger is.

It just begs the question of why I am doing this to myself.  Why I am going off my meds to go through the testing, knowing that it might not give me any answers at all.  I don't know.

Maybe I'm just feeling like my life is lacking in the drama department.  That is me being sarcastic.

Maybe I'm hoping they can find explanations for me.

Maybe I want to be a snotty, teary, whiny mess for the next two weeks.

Or maybe I'm just a crazy sadist.

I'm thinking it's that last one.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fwee

My baby isn't a baby anymore.  He spent a whole lot of time during the last week learning how to hold up three fingers.  It's tricky trying to hold that pinkie down.

When you ask him how old he is, he says fwee.

He's getting close to completely potty trained, almost all on his own.  Truth be told, I haven't been pushing it at all.  Like, at all.  If he wants to wear a diaper, fine.  If he wants to wear underwear, fine.  I haven't had the energy to devote to it, but it doesn't seem to matter.  He was ready, and he is the one wanting to do it.

He starts preschool in a few weeks, and I'm not sure those teachers have any idea what they are in for with this one.

He poured an entire bottle of glue on the stairs this week.  I've caught him with the entire bottle of Hershey's syrup upside down in his mouth.  There's nothing wrong with loving chocolate syrup, right?  I think he might sleep with the empty bottle if I let him.

I need to make a mental note to tell his teachers to only call him AJ.  He has no idea what his name really is.  If they call him Ashton, chances are that he'll stare at them like they have 6 heads.  I call him Bubba and George, Papa calls him Bill, Tom calls him Age (because saying AJ is way too time consuming).  And no one calls him his given name.

It seems like just yesterday he joined our family, but in so many other ways it's like he's been here forever.

He makes me crazy, he makes me tired, he makes me laugh.

He is grinning ear to ear right now listening to his Grandma Kathi sing him Happy Birthday on the phone.

I can't wait to see who he grows up to be, I am sure that he will be capable of great things.  He lives without fear, he thinks he always can, he loves with his whole heart.

I would give anything to go back to the days when I was pregnant with him and slow it down.  To get that time back.  To relive it all.  I know I'm not the only one who'd do it all over in a heartbeat.

There aren't reset buttons in life though, there are no do-overs.  My baby is growing up.

Lucky for me, he still curls up in a ball on my lap sometimes and falls asleep.

I think I might let him do that forever.

Love you, AJ.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It doesn't grow back that fast

My husband made a decision yesterday, one that he's been edging towards for years now. One that we've known was an inevitable certainty for decades.  

I knew that this day would come.  In fact, I've been urging it to for a while now. 

He finally decided to let it go.  All of it.

He shaved his head.

It was time.  

It's been time.

He wanted to make sure that he was the last of his brothers with hair still up top.  And he was.  He held onto that title for as long as he could.  Maybe even a little too long, some might say.  

We of course had to have the sideburn conversation.  He adores his sideburns.  He loves his sideburns, dare I say, even more than his hair.  

He really wanted to keep them, but I reasoned with him that it's a little funky looking to just have sideburns.  He doesn't grow out his beard at all, no moustache, nothing.  Little patches of fuzz on the side of your face that aren't anchored to or attached to anything just look weird.  And then there is the issue of deciding where they end or begin.  

Suffice it to say that the sideburns are gone.  Tear.

The kids were playing in the basement when I cut most of it off with the clippers.   Just the mere mention of shaving his head earlier in the day had sent the girls into conniption fits.  After I'd cut about three quarters of his hair off, he decided to go show the girls.  You know, when we were so clearly past the point of no return that there was no way we could stop.  

They were hysterical. Both of them.  Screaming and crying and running away and hiding in their rooms.  There was stomping and door slamming and even kicking.  I thought for sure that Ally was going to hyperventilate.

We tried to reason with them, calm them down.  It's just hair.  Two of their uncles and Papa have been sporting this haircut for years now already.  It will grow back (okay, so maybe that part isn't entirely true...).  

Besides, we let them have a lot of creative license with their own hair and we don't throw fits or cry when they want to chop off a foot of blond gorgeousness. 

They weren't calming down.  

Full.blown.freak.out.

Plus, Tom looked hilarious with a tuft of hair sticking out on one side.  How they didn't stop screaming and laugh at him, I'm not sure.

So he did the only logical thing.  He taped them being ridiculous.

Ahhh, posterity.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I'm going there...

Okay, so I have to confess to this minor obsession I seem to have developed.

In doing so, I'm also outing myself about one of my less flattering physical features.

Deep breath.

I'm a hairy girl.

I don't want to be hairy.  I have issues with it.  There, I said it.

Someone, anyone, please tell me that I'm not the only person who became borderline obsessed with hair removal!

I bought some depilatory cream a few years ago after getting tired of the constant need to shave my legs.  It didn't work any better or last any longer on my legs.

I hate...HATE...doing the yard work.  You know, the clean up around the edges that becomes necessary this time of year.

Mommy can't just go to the pool spontaneously.  There is planning required.

Ugh.  I wish I wasn't hairy.

Anyway, in my pre-trip preparations, I decided to get as much of the undesired hair off as I could.  I bought creams and lotions and new razor blades.  Then I got creative.

I actually removed all the hair off my arms.

Hahaha!

I can't believe I am admitting this.

I have this friend who has been trying to convince me to try waxing for a while now.  She swears by it.  Preaches about the virtues of it.  How it only hurts the first time.

But then, secretly I think she's one of those sick people who likes pain.  Mwhahaha.

I made the mistake of telling her that I Naired (yes, that is a word dammit) my arms, so now she is on a mission.

I need some feedback from those of you out there, my fellow hairy girls.....be honest with me.

How bad is a Brazilian???

Friday, August 12, 2011

Blogalicious

So I got an award while I was gone.  Because I am so awesome that people love me even when I'm not writing anything.

Apparently.

Here's the proof that I was actually picked!

You'll have to forgive me if I'm a bit head in the cloudsy today.  (yes, I just invented a word again)  I'm just really freaking excited that someone liked my writing enough to send out a virtual award.  Yay me!

I'm doing as I'm supposed to, and I will pay it forward.

Here's my super fantastic award I'm proud to be giving out today:

1. Thank the giver and link back to them.  Kimberly at The Wyatt Zoo was kind enough to bestow this honor on me.  She rocks!  You all should march on over to her blog right now and check out her stuff.  Her pictures will just take your breath away.  http://wyattzoo.blogspot.com/

2. Reveal your 5 picks here and let them know by commenting on their blog.  Okay, so it might take me a bit to get to the commenting part...but I will.

Jen at All That Jazzy...who won my photo contest because she is awesome.

Andrea at Andrea's #1 Super Happy Fun Blog...who is a friend from way back in the day and one of the funniest people I know.  For reals.

Angela at Cairns Clan....because she is new to blogging and strong and beautiful and I adore her.

Tammy at Partly Sunny, Chance of Rain...because we found each other online a while back and can relate to so many things so easily that I feel like I've known her forever.

Michelle at Lumpkin Life...because I keep trying to get her to write more.  She is great!

3. Copy and Paste the award to your blog.

4.  Have faith that your readers will read those you've recommended.

5.  Have fun!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I'm back

I'm back, literally and figuratively.

The break was just about exactly what I needed.  Well, that and one of those mind erasing memory wipers.  I could use one of those sometimes.  Ha!

I sat by pools and drank fruity drinks, though they didn't supply me with the tiny umbrellas I was hoping for.  It's okay, though.  The chaise and the sun and the drink was more important than the umbrella.

In the last six days, I've driven over 2000 miles.

Yesterday, I got to drive through what could possibly be the most beautiful place on earth.  Glenwood Canyon.  If you've never been there, you simply must go.  Just not all at once....part of the beauty of it is that no one is ever there.

I've been witness to the beginning of a new life.  New love.  You need to see that from time to time.

I've seen people I haven't seen in too long.  I watched people sing karaoke that I never thought I would in a million years.  I bowled a couple decent games.

I played blackjack.  Love that.

I got my creative juices flowing, and not even those at all related to writing.  I laughed until my sides hurt.  I cried tears of sadness and joy, sometimes at the same time.  I rediscovered the passion I have for a few things I thought I'd lost.  I wore the shoes.

I even wore the shoes bowling.

Yes, I did.

I was given compliments about my children, which reinforces my shaky beliefs that I am indeed doing a good job.  I met people I've heard about for decades.  I got hit on.  Twice.

Damn, that felt good.

I'm back.

In more ways than one.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tiny Umbrellas

I'm about to do something that I never do.  At least not since I started this whole blogging adventure.

Something that I probably should have done several times already for different reasons at different times.

I'm stepping away from the computer for a while.  Turning it off and putting it away.

I am a little nervous about it, to be honest.  For me, writing is a release.  The screen and the keys, my personal therapist.  It makes me happy and it gives voice to all the things in my mind.

I've relied so much on it for a while now to get me through the ups and downs of the last two years.  Maybe that reliance is too great though, maybe it's become a crutch when it shouldn't have.   Maybe I've asked too much of it, of you all.

Or maybe I've put too many demands on myself.

Maybe a break is exactly what I need.

I'm aiming for a week away from this all.  We'll see how well it works.  If I make it the whole week.  Haha.

I'll have a journal on hand to jot down my thoughts just in case my head can't contain them, but it will be different.  Maybe I will be too.

I'm going to get up in the morning and grab a cup of coffee and the newspaper instead of the laptop for a while.  I'm going to relax and read a book once in a while.  I'm not going to worry about publishing times and topic ideas.

There may even be an occasional drink with a tiny umbrella in it.
I love tiny umbrellas.

xoxo

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Little Women

Ally has pretty much made the transition.  Ashley did a while back.  They've moved from the "little girls" section in the stores to the "girls".

No longer in the safe confines of the sizes 4-6x, they are now at the mercy of the 7-14 designers.  We all are.

Oh, how I wish I could shrink them back down and wedge their bodies into those little clothes again.

I have so many issues with tween girl clothing that this post might be a little disjointed.  For that, I will apologize in advance.  I feel perhaps a little more passionately about his subject than I should because I worked in retail, at one of the children's clothing stores.  You know the one....the one that rhymes with Timboree.

For most of their lives leading up to this point, the girls have had nice clothes.  That matched and coordinated.  That were demure and tasteful, but cute and playful too.  That looked like they belonged on children.  Ashley may probably still like to shop where I worked since she is my matchy matchy girl, but I don't have the discount anymore or the drive to shop the sales and coupons there to afford it.  Plus, the designers at that store fail to realize that if they want to keep older kids interested in their products, they have to stop putting babyish stuff on everything.

For years, the girls lived in little twirly dresses and matching leggings, little skorts and tops that matched, they even had enough of the same outfit that they could match each other when they wanted.  It was good while it lasted.

So maybe I feel a little more uncomfortable at the change than most parents do.

I don't know.

My biggest peeve obviously with the tween clothing is the maturity of it.  The plunging necklines and the teeny little booty shorts.  The super tight t-shirts and practically transparent fabrics.  Ally is 6, not 16, even if she might like to make the clock run faster.  She should be able to dress like she is 6, but that is getting harder and harder to make happen.

To find shorts with longer inseams, capris that aren't super low rise, shirts that have reasonable necklines, you actually have to look.  They are more the exception than the rule.  And it's out of control.  I know that I am not the only parent struggling with finding appropriate clothing for my girls, I know that I am not the only one frustrated.

Another of my peeves is the lack of quality.  Even in the pricey mall stores, the clothes fall apart often after a few washings.  Or they wrinkle miserably or shrink an entire size.  The hems fall out, the embroidery starts to come out.  The sequins never last.  It doesn't seem to make any difference whether you buy from the big box discount store or the mall, the quality is abysmal.

I wish that the designers could come up with cute prints for the shirts that don't involve obnoxious sayings.  Why does every t-shirt have to have some snarky attitude phrase on it?  Or some ridiculous texting acronym? Or some proclamation about how school, siblings or parents don't understand?  I'm to the point anymore where I tend to forbid just about anything with writing on it...but finding cute t-shirts without it is hard.

I wish that the designers wouldn't grab onto every trend to the exclusion of everything else.  Last year was the year of the skinny jean and jegging.  Which is fine if you have the kind of body to pull it off.  One of my girls does, the other doesn't.  And I'll be damned if I am giving that child body image issues in elementary school.   Finding anything else was hard last year.  This year, it looks like regular straight and boot cut jeans might be back too, thank goodness.  Unless all the other moms out there bought them up already...

I wish that they could make dresses that look like they belong on the body of a child.  That don't have padding in the top to create the illusion of boobs that a 7 year old wouldn't have anyway.  That have modest straps and reasonable necklines.  It seems like there is nothing between the frilly twirly dresses of early childhood and the scandalous sex appeal of teenage clothing.   There should be a good 6-8 years in between, and there should be age appropriate dresses to go with that phase.

I wish that they could make the blingy clothes that girls are magnetically drawn to without making them so cheaply that my dryer is constantly covered in a layer of glitter.  Glitter, glitter, everywhere.  My entire house is fabulous.

Don't even get me started on swimsuits.

As frustrating as it is anymore to shop for the girls, it's almost more frustrating that there are so many parents out there who will buy the stuff for their children.  If we would all stop doing it, say no, refuse the inappropriateness of it, eventually the designers would stop making these clothes.

Eventually they would get the message that we want better for our daughters.

That we aren't in a hurry to make them grow up any faster than they already are.

Again, I urge you to vote with your wallets.

Just don't buy up all the jeans...we haven't been shopping yet.  ;)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And you are?

I took both the girls to get haircuts yesterday.

Ashley has been sporting a chin length stacked bob almost all the time for a few years now.  She loves that it is super easy to do in the morning.  She especially loves the fact that she started the trend at school with the haircut and people constantly tell her how adorable she is.

She vacillates between growing it out and cutting it short almost all the time.  Sometimes she longs for hair that can be pulled back and braided and twisted and pinned.  Sometimes she's itching to keep it short all the time.  It took her almost an hour to make up her mind yesterday before we left.  

Ally needed hers cut too, but for a different reason.  She's been eating her hair.  Chewing on it, sucking on it.  All.the.time.  We've bought her chewable necklaces, and she still gravitates towards her hair.  Or her nails.  She has those things chewed down to stumps.  She's one that internalizes her stress and anxiety, and things haven't exactly been calm and peaceful around here lately. 

Until we can break her of the habit of hair chewing, though, we have to try and minimize her ability to do it.  As gorgeous as her hair is, with the natural high and low lights, the stick straight thick blondness that it is, we had to cut it.  Breaks my heart.  Her hair is too pretty to be this short.  

And little girls shouldn't cough up hairballs.

So I went to take the girls to get the cuts.  Ally was in the chair, Ashley next to me, when a woman walked in.  She'd obviously checking in earlier, wanted to see where she was on the waiting list.  Then she turned around and saw me.  Made eye contact and smiled.  

She looked vaguely familiar.  Apparently I looked more than vaguely familiar to her.  

She sat down and started talking.  To me.  Clearly she knew me.  

Which was fine.  Except I couldn't for the life of me remember who the heck she was.  And I was stuck there, a captive in the forced conversation with someone I couldn't place at all.  

The small talk was bad enough, asking how our summer was.  Then she started talking about her son, who I was also supposed to remember.  Oh crap.  

Thank goodness she referred to him by name.  

And thank god her stylist was ready right afterwards and I didn't have to keep trying to remember who she was.  

I used to be so much better at remembering people, I used to remember names and faces and kids and all that.  Now, not so much.

I hope she didn't realize how clueless I was.  I hope I managed to cover for the fact that I didn't remember her well enough.  

And I really hope I don't run into anyone else I'm supposed to know today. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Obsessed, much?

I have my fair share of quirks in this life.  Unusual traits or strange minor obsessions.  Some of which are not all that unusual, some that are shared with enough people that they don't make me seem like a freak.

I can juggle.  For reals.  When I was in junior high and high school, I had to take adaptive physical education because of my knees.  As if regular PE isn't humiliating enough.  We didn't play any sports, didn't do much that was fun.  We played cards and juggled.  I got pretty good at it actually.  I think I could got up to 7 or 8 of the bowling pin shaped things, whatever they are actually called.

It's good to know that I can always fall back on that if need be and join the circus.

I have minor food obsessive compulsive tendencies, which I completely blame on the fact that I almost died as a baby from food poisoning.  I have to smell everything before I eat it.  I would eat with only compartment plates if people wouldn't look at me weird.  I don't like my food to touch.  I turn my plate to minimize the chance of cross contamination.  I eat things in a certain order.  Okay, so maybe it's not minor....

And I have a deep and long standing love of sharks.  Which is a weird thing to love, I know.  But I'm not your average girl, now am I?  I started to become fascinated by them as a young child.  The movies that scared everyone else out of the water drew me toward it.  In junior high, I worked in a science museum.  We hosted elementary school field trips and gave presentations on the oceans ecosystem and animals.  By the time I graduated from high school, though, I'd given up the hope for becoming a marine biologist like I wanted, and decided instead to work towards the legal field.  I don't know why I sold myself out that way, but I did.  

I should have followed my heart and studied the oceans.  Even though I was a public policy major, I wrote my senior thesis about sharks, specifically about the overfishing of them in international waters and the long term consequences for the ocean as a whole.  I did discuss the difficulty of enforcement of any laws pertaining to the subject, though, just to make it relevant to my major.  

I've passed on this love of sharks to Aidan.  He's firmly glued the couch to the ground for days now.  He's been dictating what is on the TV.  Taping things on the DVR when he had to eat or sleep or go somewhere.  Prying his eyelids open when he is tired.  It's Shark Week, and he's obsessed.  

Sharks, sharks, sharks.

24/7

I have no idea where he gets it from.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Follow the Arrows

Yesterday was a good day.

Any day that starts the way mine did is destined to be fantastic.

I drove the kids down to catch the end of Tom's tennis tournament.  He's been in a league now for a couple years and his team does well to get into the district tournament.  It's good for him to get the push for competition, especially since he's already signed up for the Denver Marathon again.

And he loves to play tennis.  But as much as he loves to play tennis, I secretly want to tell him to throw the matches in the tournament.  Do good, but not too good.  We don't want to drive to nationals.  ;)

I couldn't have timed it better.  We got there just at the end of the match, found seats beneath a tree.  He only played just long enough for the kids to get a sense of what was going on, but not get bored.

It was hovering just below 100 degrees.

We headed out for lunch, then I asked the question that he knew was coming.  The question that he was dreading.  The questions he was hoping I would wait to ask for a few weeks at least.

How much further is IKEA?

You know, the IKEA that opened this week.  The only one in at least a 6 hour drive.
Isn't it beautiful?!?!
It was only about 10 minutes further.  I told him we should just go.  I didn't think it would be as crowded as people were afraid, because so many would be scared by the potential crowds.  Most people with any sense at all are waiting a few weeks before heading down there.

But we were so close.  We should just go.  Right?

It actually wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be.  We parked right away, only had to wait about 20 minutes to get in.  There were a lot of people, but it was organized well.

And we laughed at the IKEA virgins.  Those who clearly had never been in one and just didn't understand what you are supposed to do.

There's a reason there are giant arrows on the ground.  Wink, wink.

We got the stuff home and assembled, then had to go pick up Tom's car since he'd carpooled down to the tournament.  The kids were home with Grandma.  On the way, we stopped for a drink.  As I parked the car, the thunder clapped and the rain came down.  We ran to the restaurant in the pouring rain.

And the day ended as it began.

Just the two of us.

I'd have to say it was a good day.

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