Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Have Yourself A Germy Little Christmas

Warning: The following post is not for those who are squeamish.

Well, after my last post, I felt that I had nowhere to go, but up. Oh how wrong I was. I woke up Monday with that all too familiar pressure in my left sinus passage. Oh shoot, sinus infection. I wasn't about to take off, so I called my doctor from work and made an appointment for that evening. I was right, sinus infection. He was an angel and gave me antibiotic samples, so I didn't have to go to the pharmacy that night. I went home to bed. I spent the rest of the week nursing tea and going to bed right after school. My class was surprisingly sweet. By Wednesday, there was a forecast for snow starting late Thursday morning. I had a sinking feeling that Thursday would end up being early release. As I was making backup daycare plans and bracing myself for a day of chaos, I heard "Moooom!" from the bathroom. Lily had explosive diarrhea all over the bathroom. Oh shoot! Long story short: I had to stay home with her, they found the most incompetent sub for me, my class was so naughty that 5 different people had to go in to tell them to calm down, and of course there was an early dismissal. I sat at home cleaning up after Lily with a knot in my stomach, knowing that all hell was breaking loose in my classroom (don't email or call when you're out sick, it doesn't ever help). On Friday, we were out for snow, so I felt sure after four days of rest, Lily would be much better.

Fast forward through a weekend of rest, to Sunday night, "Mooom!" from the bathroom. Another replay of Wednesday night. By this time I was in a panic. I could not leave the world's worst class with another sub. Rob agreed to stay home that morning. I had 3 1/2 hours to whip them into shape. After a brilliant combination of guilt, shame, and bribery, I came home to take care of Lily. We sat and watched holiday specials and I tried not to fall asleep. By the time Caroline got home, I was ready to pass out. I went to bed and slept for three hours.

I only had to make it through Tuesday and 1/2 of Wednesday then it was winter break. Lily happily went off to school and I trudged in carrying my construction worker sized thermos of tea. My class was much better. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one who can keep these turkeys in check. Rob thought I should be flattered. I just felt trapped.

On Thursday am, I had an appointment at a chic salon for a free cut and color that I'd won. Let's just say, I do not belong in salons. The girl forgot the color and then styled my hair like some sort of insane mushroom. On the way home, I was composing an amusing blog post in my head about the whole experience, when I got a call from Caroline. Lily was throwing up all over the place. Are you kidding me!? I hurried home in time to catch round two of vomit. I stood in the kitchen Holding a bowl with one hand, her hair with the other all the while contorted so as not to get hit with any vomit. Caroline had the good grace not to say anything about my crazy hair. After, I'd cleaned her up she says "My ear is bugging me." I hauled her (and a change of clothes, and bags, and wipes) to the doctor. Guess what? Nasty double ear infection that she'd had for a week. I assured the doctor that she's shown no symptoms. I went home to get ready for Christmas feeling like I was finally in the clear.

Foolish, foolish me. I spent Friday madly cleaning the house and baking. I was grouchy and tired, but that's to be expected. By that night, I sat down to wrap gifts and it felt like I'd been stabbed with a hot knife. NOOOO! I ran to the bathroom and well use your imagination. After 20 minutes, I thought there was nothing left to leave my body. I cleaned up the bathroom and crawled out to the den to start wrapping gifts. All of the sudden I felt I was going to like throw up again. I ran across the kitchen (must protect the new carpet) throwing up all the way. I felt like an alien had taken over my body. Then, I cleaned it all up (I'm one tough mom). I finished the wrapping (some upside down, lots stuffed in gift bags) and collapsed into bed crying because the day that I wait for all year was going to be ruined.

I managed to make it through Christmas Day. I cooked, but didn't eat. I watched the kids open presents, but took no pictures. After my family left, I went back to bed. Rob woke me up at 2:00 am to report that he and Caroline had it now. They made it through and I spent Sunday completely disinfecting the house. luckily, we were spared the snow. I went to bed Sunday night ready to wake up and enjoy ourselves on Monday. Yay, vacation!

Monday morning, Lily woke up with her right eye full of green goop. Pink eye? No way, she is on antibiotics for her ears! I trudged back to the doctor (who is now looking at me like I really can't care for children) and sure enough it's an eye infection. I assure her that there were no symptoms until this am. We trudge to Target get to get her medicine. Caroline bought Lily a soft pretzel (she eaten almost nothing over the past two weeks and has lost 5 pounds). Lily devoured the pretzel and then we went home. Once we were home, I opened the package to start the drops...pills? Oh shoot, they gave me Lilian Simmons' prescription, not Lilian Simpson's. I trudged back to Target one more time. Now we have the drops and Lily's eye is starting to look like "a normal eye!" (her gleeful response this morning).

Hopefully, we can save this vacation. The last I checked with the rest of my family, they had the stomach bug now. I am so sorry, guys. I am starting to feel like I need to put a quarantine sign on our door.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tis The Season

I am determined to make this holiday season, less "jingle hell" than usual. The weekend after Thanksgiving, I pulled out the holiday cookie cutters to use to cut Lily's sandwiches, cranked up the holiday music and got ready to have new flooring installed. We got new carpet put in the den and living room and hardwood in the dining room. I have a huge teapot collection and family books. It took us all Friday night to move all of the loose and breakable things out of those rooms. I took the dining room and rob took the living room. We both plugged away shouting jokes back and forth, all was merry. Before we knew it the entire kitchen and eating area was full of china and old books. The last things to move were the desks. Rob is notoriously difficult to move furniture with. He expects you to read his mind. He fusses at me to "push it" and I ask "push it this way?" Of course he has to turn it into a dirty joke and I chastise "Quit acting so horny." Of course Lily is behind me and asks "Why is Daddy corny?" Rob said it had to do with his jokes while I sat on the floor laughing hysterically. After we had moved the furniture into the kitchen it looked like my Gramma Hill's attic. The kids went to bed and we sat down to relax. I looked around and realized my purse was gone. I asked Rob what he did with my school things that were in the living room. He replied that it was in the middle of the kitchen. We climbed over the furniture like mountain goats to search for my purse, but it wasn't there. We started searching all over the house. Normally, I would have been annoyed, but this sort of thing happens so often around here that I can only laugh. As I was hunting around upstairs, I heard the door open and close. When I came downstairs, Rob was standing in the foyer holding my purse. "I guess, I put it on the porch. I wanted to get it out of the way." Sorry, Honey, but that story got quite a few laughs last week at work:)

Unfortunately, that was my last laugh. Rob ended had to go out of town for work and I ended up with 2-3 meetings everyday and at least 2 activities per kid every night. The week ended with a very difficult conference. By the time Rob got home I was a little bit of a wreck.

So far this has been a really nice weekend. Rob went shopping with me and we managed to finish all of the Christmas shopping in one day. He did it all without a complaint and was really helpful. Then I came home and started baking cookies for tomorrow. Our friends are coming over tomorrow with their kids to decorate cookies. I really hope that next week goes well.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Long Time, No Blog

Well, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. The simple truth is this year has been crazy busy and I have been beyond exhausted. Lily and Caroline are adjusting well to kindergarten and seventh grade. They also have lots of activities: dance, scouts (for both), band etc. This teaching year has been more challenging than I was prepared for. Honestly, if I had posted sooner, so much of my writing would have been venting. I have a pretty challenging class and all of the teachers are under crazy pressure. I feel like all I do is assess and analyze data. The good news is that I am finally loosing weight. I like to call it the "Data Diet." Seriously, I think it is because I am trying to still go to yoga class as often as I can.

There have been quiet a few things to be thankful for this fall, my brother got married and so ends the reign of "groomzilla." It ended up being a beautiful wedding and the girls were so pretty. Rob and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. Lily was Mr. Mistoffelees for Halloween. Rob was sick so I got to take her to her school costume party and trick or treating. She is loving dance and will start Daisy scouts this week. She is still as funny as ever and as soon as I clear the cobwebs from my head, I'll post some of her latest stories.

Caroline is working her butt off in school. It has been harder lately, but she is really trying hard. She still loves scouts and will start back up in swim in December. She has a new band teacher and was picked to be in the high band for the winter concert. She is playing 7 different percussion instruments. I'm just a little proud:)

Well, I survived the fall and now we are heading into my season. December is going to be insanely busy, but I think that I am bettered equipped to cope with it now. Of course this is all said after coming off of Thanksgiving break. It all remains to be seen. Enjoy the season and stay chill (while keeping toasty).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back on the Chain Gang

Well things got really crazy and a little scary after my last post. My poor Callie ended up being really sick. That Tuesday I took her to the vet and thought she wasn't going to pull through. I had to leave her at the vet for two nights. When I left her I was hysterical. We got Callie the day we found out we were pregnant with Caroline. Our family began with that little dog. Luckily, she pulled through, but needed a week of medicine and special meals. I spent my planning week boiling chicken and rice for her dinner and trying to cram pills down her throat. I couldn't hide them in cheese (she wasn't allowed to have it), but later in the week decided to use peanut butter. Only a fool like me would sit on the floor and let a dog lick peanut butter off her finger. Really, I would have done anything, we were so happy to have our little girl back!

In the middle of this week I also took Caroline to the podiatrist to look at her wart. He was so nice believes he can remove it without cutting. In the course of one week I went from felling like worst dog/kid parent to believing I could turn it all around. I was so happy, I didn't even mind when Rob went out of town for work.

I was able to make it to yoga, and organize my classroom, and take care of the dog, and floss the kids teeth (oh yeah, they have lots of cavities, found that out 2 weeks ago). Anyway, the point is I'm not perfect, but I'm getting better at calmly juggling. I think that's the key. Here's to a crazy new school year!

Monday, August 23, 2010

What Fresh Hell Is This

The school year is starting up and so is the chaos. It all began after we got home from the shower. The dog was sick all over the house and I spent that night cleaning up poop. My gut told me that we weren't nearly over, so I decided to keep the Spot Bot (one of the best inventions!) out. The next morning I woke up to more poop, did some laundry took Lily to a play date and came home to help Rob paint. Painting went well and I was starting to think "Hey, this house might start to look OK." Oh how silly am I.

On Monday, I took Lily back to daycare and Caroline and I went to start setting up my classroom. I got quite a bit done and was starting to think "Hey, I might just be able to do this without running around like a crazy woman." Oh how foolish am I.

I took Caroline to the doctor to find out that what I thought was a callus was actually a planter's wart. At first I was relieved that she did not have a callus because of too small shoes and that it commonly happens to swimmers. Then I started to feel bad that we'd let it go so long.

I took her out to lunch, we ran a few errands. We picked up Lily and I headed home for a nice glass of iced tea. Can you guess what was waiting at home?

That's right dog poop and pee. Before I could even asked what happened, Callie tore out of the house and ran down the street. I just stood in the driveway and sputtered. We hopped in the car drove around the block. We found her standing in a neighbor's yard with her head cocked to the side as if to say "Do I know you?" I informed her that not only did she know me, she was going to find herself crated if she pulled another stunt like this again. Once we got home, everyone ran for the hills while I started cleaning the carpet again. After an hour of cleaning, I Lysoled every room and sat down with my tea. Rob got home and Lily lost her mind. She started running around and climbing all over him. He went upstairs to change and Lily continued to rev up. She raced through the dining room. All of the sudden Lily comes up to me and whispers "Mooommy?" a voice that says "I know your going to be pissed, but remember I'm cute and you love me?" I look up and see her socks covered in yellow paint. I run out to the dining room and see a crushed Tupperware of yellow wall paint. Paint is all over our dining room carpet. It isn't so bad because the carpet is already splattered with paint from past projects, but I still don't feel like cleaning up another mess. Rob put her in the tub and I started spraying the floor with heavy duty cleaner. The good news is the toxic smell of the cleaner overpowered the smell of poop. The bad news is the cleaner smelled toxic. I am proud of myself. I didn't yell "Who the hell left the paint out in the middle of the room? " When Rob complained about the smell I didn't snap at him. I calmly explained that I could smell it, I was on the floor with it and had already cleaned up one mess. He agreed and went up to wash the paint out of her hair (it wasn't a lot, just little yellow highlights). I finished the floor, washed the dishes, tried to hustle Lily into bed. She was so wired after being with her friends all day. Rob took over and I went downstairs to have my tea, light scented candles, and watch Project Runway. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch

Today was my future sister in law's bridal shower. Now before I post with my usual sarcastic self, let me tell you it was lovely and I am very happy for her and my brother. Now let the smart assery commence!

I am not really a dressing up kind of person. Really I am happiest in tee shirts and jeans or shorts, ditto Caroline. Lily likes to dress up, but with her own spin on things. The average person wouldn't call her outfits dressing up. When I got the invitation to the shower, I was planning on wearing some nice shorts and a blouse. Then I went over the directions with my mother. By the time she got to "look for the McMansions" I stopped her. "Is this place fancy? Oh crap. We have to dress up, huh?" Well I took the challenge and decide to go for the "ladies who lunch" look. I found a twirly 50s/60s looking skirt and added a peasant blouse, my gramma's pearls and charm bracelet. Voila! I painted the girls nails and did their hair up fancy too. Lily had her fancy outfit, but I had to veto it. This really wasn't the time for her "hippie escaped form the retirement home" look. I washed her favorite pink dress hid the sparkly shoes that are 3 sizes too big and we were set.

I was very excited about her gift. I spent the summer working on a cross stitch for her and putting together a book of family recipes. So much of my family's history can be told through our recipes. All I had left to do this morning was frame the cross stitch. The problem was I could not fit it in the frame I'd chosen. I had cross stitched a daisy and chosen a pretty yello frame. It was going to fit. I was not giving up! There was lots of swearing and ouching, but I finally got it in. We left later than I'd planned, but still arrived on time.

Their friends' house was gorgeous. We pulled into their driveway and the girls just breathed "Wow!" I made a silly joke about let's act classy or pinkies up and away we went. Like I said her friends were very nice, just very different from us. The girls were so good. On the way home, Lily mentioned that we must be poor. I cleared that misconception up and we talked about how there are different lifestyles and one is not better than the other. You don't have to be rich to be a snob. Sometimes I know I am, just look at the post after this one.

I also know that we clean up nicely and can act like well mannered ladies. Yes! We're ready for the wedding!

I'm Trendy Now?

I have a new pet peeve. it's a silly one and probably pretty shallow, but I doubt I'm alone. What the heck is up with the whole "Geek Chic" thing? Since when did it become popular to be a geek or a nerd? When did Comic Con become the new Sundance? I'm looking at all of the celebrities who spent way too much money on their hipster, thrift store look and think you wouldn't know half of these comic books if they bit you in the ass. Heck, I wouldn't. I'm more of a word nerd and I earned my status the hard way. A painful, slightly lonely adolescence reading waaay too much Jane Austen. Can those posers quote the original Star Wars (part 4, my butt)? How about all of the damn glasses? Are you kidding me?! You don't earn the right to wear amazingly cool glasses unless you suffered through a hideous Coke bottle phase, complete with ill advised brown tinting. Glasses are not an accessory, they are an earned right. I kind of want to back hand all of the little fools running around with old 3-D glasses with the lenses popped out.

I am happily raising real nerds/geeks. We communicate half the time in movie sound bites. My girls have verbal vocabularies that would put most adults to shame. They read the book before the movie (twilight excluded, but really that's not literature). We watch strange nature documentaries and fantasy movies. We also crack puns freely. At times we have been know to snort while laughing. And really, we put little thought into how we look. We slap on our awesome glasses (glasses technology is sooo much better now) and whatever is comfortable and clean. We are who we are, no posing needed.

Was I high and mighty enough? I really don't know why this is an issue, but it is really in my craw lately:) Give me time and I'll go back to my open minded, inclusive self. Just take off the fake glasses first!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Whispering Sweet Nothings

I've mentioned repeatedly Rob's and my tendency to trade barbs. It always surprises me how many people think that we fight a lot, actually, we rarely do. Since the day we first became friends in high school we have been trading one liners and fiercely debating. We used to debate politics, but now we are onto header things such as proper bedtimes and nutrition. We are two sides of the same coin and it works out perfectly.

I was watching a comedian the other night who was able to explain it perfectly. He was talking about how when you first start dating you're afraid to make waves, you sweetly ask if maybe the other person thinks it is cold and would maybe like to shut the window only if it is no trouble. He then goes on to say that his wife would just yell "Close the goddamn window!" to which he'd reply "I'm doin' it!" He explains that they are not yelling, but communicating in a "timely manner." I love it! That's it in a nut shell. So much of Rob's and my communication is quick recaps of the day and what is needed for the week.

The next time someone comments that we fight a lot, I'm going to explain that we are communicating in a timely manner.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Traveling with Children

I took the train to CT last week to visit my family. My last train trip with five year old Caroline was one of my worst travel experiences. This was before we had a DS or DVD player. All she had to occupy her was her motion sick mother. Three hours into the trip she'd lost interest in the coloring books and stickers. She didn't want to listen to Stuart Little (it wasn't as good as I remembered). She wanted to bounce on the seat and crawl on the floor. As I was bent over hissing at her to get up, she complied and bounced right into my head with such force that my sunglasses broke. Now I had a headache to go with the nausea, then the train broke down and we lost AC. We finally made it after I vowed to never get on another train again.

Well, 7 years later, I decided to chance it again. No surprise I was ridiculously nervous. I spent hours trying to cram a weeks worth of clothes into small bags, I gathered as many things as I could think of to entertain the girls. Luckily, we now have DS's and DVD players. I went through every worse scenario in my head, so much so that I woke up at midnight the night before our trip and repacked our suit cases into smaller bags so we could carry them on the train more easily.

In the end, all the planning worked out really well. As I watched people struggle with furniture sized luggage (Obviously they didn't read the Amtrak luggage criteria like I did at midnight), I was very glad of the revised suitcase plan. Lily was so charmed with the idea of the train. She and Caroline were so good! They watched movies and colored and cuddled and had a wonderful time! The lady in front of me made sure to tell me that I had "two wonderful little ladies." I couldn't have been prouder!

The trip itself was wonderful. We had so much fun with our family. We went to the beach and went kayaking. There is an amazing playground right on the beach and Lily had a blast. My step mother planned a special sewing craft with each girl. We also got a chance to see the new amazing town library that my uncle helped plan. One of the neatest parts was that Caroline got to go into NY with my uncle and Ellen to see the King Tut exhibit. She and Ellen are both very interested in ancient Egypt. Ellen will be going to NYU next year, so hopefully, next summer Ellen can take Caroline into NY again. While they were in NY, my step mother and I took Lily to a children's museum. She had so much fun playing in the water room.

I was so glad that I was able to take the girls to the place where I grew up. It is wonderful that they have the chance to spend time with my family.


Smile, Breathe

"Lily, did you break my scotch tape?"

"Well, it was so cheap, it broke when I picked it up."

I am trying so hard to teach her not to touch things that don't belong to her. I would be easier if she didn't have an answer for everything.

Unending Torture

I narrowly avoided one of those horrible mothering moments. You know the one when you are just a breathe away from yelling "I wish you all would just leave! I can't take it any more!" Of course, I took a breathe before the words escaped and pushed those feelings into the deep recesses of my brain (probably the exact location of the pounding tension headache that came on that afternoon).

What prompted that overwhelming desire to erase my family from the face of the Earth? I was cleaning the house, AGAIN! I feel like I'm in that story where the Titian (or was it a god) was damned to push the same heavy bolder to the top of a mountain everyday, only to wake up the next morning and find it at the bottom again. My house is never freakin' clean. I feel like I waste so much time picking up junk, wiping up gunk, and sweeping up muck. It's my own personal Groundhog Day. I also know that every parent (let's face it mostly mothers) go through this everyday. Yet, I find no comfort in that. They aren't here with me as I am crawling under beds pulling out Polly Pocket shoes (the inventor of that toy is a true sadist). Nor are they here to lend a hand as I scrub God knows what from under the toilet.

I have tried saying "Forget it!" and skipping cleaning. Well, you can read past posts and find out how well that turns out for me. Nobody has clean underwear and the children end up eating cereal out of mugs. Besides, I can't relax in a messy house (please don't confuse messy with cluttered, two different beasts). The last time I "went on strike," I was trying to calmly cross stitch when a giant dust bunny rolled over to me to complain about the lack of food and that it wanted to watch TV. It took a minute to realize that dust bunny was actually Lily, covered with a fine layer of dog fur and Popsicle sticky. Just kidding, it never gets that bad. I skip one day of bathroom wipe down and we have red ick growing around the drain and I feel like the worst mother ever.

As I relayed this to Rob, he responds "Well, you really only have about 8 more years of hardcore mess. Then the kids will be gone." Great, now on top of exhausted and frustrated, I am sad at the idea of my babies leaving the nest. Stick around girls, I'll deal with your mess!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Winding Down

When summer began it seemed like endless stretches of time open to us and now I ready to start back to school shopping. Of course I am filled with the "I've been jipped!" feeling that you get when something that you have been waiting for for so long is over.

I have had a perfectly lovely summer, so I don't know why I feel so discontented. Maybe I need a recap?

We went to Busch Gardens over the fourth of July and had a great time! The highlight was dinner with Elmo. Lily was so excited. The characters spent so much time with the kids, they even let them get up on stage and dance with them. there was none of the "rock star" aura that the characters at Disney seem to have. I was very charmed by Ernie, he was so sweet and kept "booping" Lily's nose. I think Caroline enjoyed Cookie Monster ( he was the entertaining "drunk uncle" of the crew).

Lily spent a lot of time with her new fixations: Cats, dancing, Mr. Mistoffles, her doll Susan, butterfly watching, Madeline, Fancy Nancy, and Eloise books, and learning to swim in a strange writhing mermaid manner. there was also a fair bit of dress up of her favorite characters.

Caroline spent a great deal of time texting and requesting to see her friends. I complied with her request and have had a rotating number of girls going with us to the pool. I took her and a friend to see Eclipse ( truly dreadful series, but I'll spare you the rant). I had to sit far away from them like some sort of 40 something freak who would go to see Eclipse by herself. They of course had a wonderful time. She is currently obsessed with the series Lost and has been watching it every possible night. Of course she is deep in a few different series of books. There have also been drum lessons.

Me? Well I have read like a starving woman. I do believe that I have read about 20 books so far, but have not had the time to keep the lists that I used to. This is really a pain when I go to find a book by an author that I enjoyed, but can't remember the name. I did find a new favorite author Carol Goodman who write literary type mysteries. Perfect summer reading and it uses some of my English degree which is a bonus. I just stumbled upon her when I picked up one of her books In The Night villa and read the review on the back. The gist of it was: entertaining enough for the beach, but intellectual enough to be seen with at the Hamptons. So I think "Oooh, the Hamptons, I've always wanted to be like the Barefoot Countessa!" I know no logic, but I found the most addictive and awesome books. They are the kind of books you stay up to 2am reading. I also started cross stitching again. I really wanted to make a present for my future sister in law and I'm almost done. I've been going to Yoga or Pilates 2-3 times a week. I haven't lost any weight (damn pie), but I feel better and want to keep up the classes during the school year.

As a unit we've gone to a few movies: Toy Story for Rob and Lily, Eclipse for Caroline and Me, Grown Ups for Rob and I, Despicable me for all four of us (very cute movie), and Sorcerer's Apprentice for Caroline Ellen and I. We also took Ellen bowling while she was visiting and had a few trips out for ice cream. Of course, there has been lots and lots of pool time.

We still have a trip to CT and want to go see Ramona and Beezus. Really all in all it has been a very nice summer. I guess I'm just sad to see it go.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Grace Under Pressure

Anytime that I feel that I have the most unruly children in the world, I need to go back and read this post. Sure potty humor, whining, and arguing reign supreme on a daily basis here, but when the going gets tough, I have the most remarkable daughters.

On Sunday, our friends from college came to visit with their daughters. Their visits are always my favorite. They girls run around happy and giggling and we exchange stories from the trenches of working parentdom. Usually, Rob is pretty goofy. He alternates between wrestling on the floor and when the kids go upstairs he lapses into the adults only humor he's known for. This time, though, he was quiet and at one point almost feel asleep on the couch. He hasn't been feeling well lately and I've been pushing him into exercising with us more. Honestly, I thought he was being a bit of a brat and ignored him during most of the visit.

That night, after everyone had left and we'd cleaned up, Rob called me over to him and explained that he'd been having chest pains all day and he thought we should go to the hospital. I quickly explained the situation to Caroline and she jumped into action, gathering sweat shirts and books to take with us. I scooped my poor little Lily out of bed and plunked her in the car. On the way, Rob tried to cut the silence by joking that we'd finally found a way to get the girls to sit in the back without arguing.

Have I ever mentioned that we live in a very populated area? Well, a good portion of that population seemed to be in the ER . Once Rob had a EKG, they let him come sit with us in the waiting room. I figured that if he were having a heart attack, that wouldn't have happened, so I set about trying to assure the girls. I pulled out my cross stitch (I needed something to keep my hands busy otherwise, I would start flapping and hovering around Rob). I sat there like Ma Walton and chatted with the girls. I can't even tell you what I was blathering about. I do know that I had the constant battle in my head, one part was mad at Rob for not taking better care of himself, and of course, the inner mommy was so proud of Caroline and Lily.

Over the next three hours, Rob would go back for one test or another and then come back to wait with us. I figured that if it were an emergency, he would have been put in a room. By then it was 1:00 am and the girls really needed to go to bed (I was also getting very tired of the three obnoxious boys who were running laps around and past their sick grandmother). I talked to Rob and we decided that I should take the girls home and he'd call me. Once we got home, I tucked them in and went downstairs to watch TV and wait. I watched The World According to Garp (prob. not the best choice when your waiting for your sick husband). Rob finally called me at 5:00 am. He had a pulled muscle in his chest, but was otherwise fine. I have so many things to be thankful for.

Friday, July 9, 2010

For the Love of It

It is no secret that I have quirky kids. They aren't quirky in that precocious, "they must listen to NPR with their parents and have fascinating conversations way." My children are random in their quirkiness. Case in point: picture a play date with my friend (the former psychologist who does not believe in corn syrup or TV) and her adorable two year old boy. He is telling me about Mt Vesuvius meanwhile, three year old Caroline is spinning in circle with a bucket on her head singing "chickety China, the Chinese chicken." Flash forward to a year later when she tells her friend's dad that Vincent Van Gogh cut off part of his ear because "his brain was not working quiet right."

Now I am raising the second round of quirky. This time it is amplified. It is vivacious. It is Lily. There is no doubt that she is smart. She's witty, she's unique, her vocabulary is out of this world and she cannot be bothered to do any of the conventional things that we associate with smart. I would like to teach her to read. I have talked to quiet a few friends whose children are Lily's age and reading. All of the sudden all of my "no mommy pissing contest" rules are out and I want her to read NOW. I want her to do some tricks that aren't mortifying. What does she want to do? Laugh at me, giggle, taunt me with glee through every reading lesson. It is like she knows I want her to do this and the whole thing is just so droll.

So far she has spent her summer dancing, singing, and talking about everything and anything to do with Cats. Her grandma took her to see it and she is hooked. My child wants to be on stage and she wants it NOW. She started dance lessons this week and the crazy mama in me is looking for signs of a prodigy, but I don't tell anyone, especially her. That is the surest way to get her to quit. Lily dancing is pure joy. Her entire body lights up with it. I wish that I could lose myself like that. I wish Caroline and Rob could lose themselves like that. Heck, I wish the whole world could feel the way she looks when she is dancing.

Why am I so competitive? Just because I don't tell anyone about it, doesn't mean the green eyed monster is not there. I think it is all about my insecurities. I struggled in school and had so many labels put on me as "not quiet right." I would look longingly at the smart kids, the ones who got to make neat projects and go to neat places, and wish that I could be them. Rob was one of those kids. He assures me that I missed nothing. I think the beauty of it all was wasted on him (just kidding, honey). I want that for my kids. And if we are being honest here, I want the bragging rights of having given birth to one of them. What would it feel like to say "well last night Lily and I were discussing War and Peace while Caroline was talking with her father about a revolutionary idea for world peace." Instead I can explain how Lily tap danced all the way through the Hair Cuttery while pulling things out of her purse for prop comedy breaks (for example she asks if anyone has seen her nose, then pull out a huge plastic one, stick to her face and declare I smell peanut butter before collapsing in giggles). Or I can explain that she named one of her favorite stuffed bears Bear Butt because he has a tushy.

What I can really do is chill out and enjoy her. She's going to enjoy life with or without me. I think that it would be fun to be her side kick and see where she goes. Learning how to read, swim, or ride a bike is thrilling. When she is thrilled she jokes, she giggles, she bounces. Why shouldn't she enjoy it? Isn't life better when you are having fun? I am reminded yet again that Lily is here to make me (and the rest of the world) lighten up.
PS I am experimenting with adding picutres. Be paitient with me, please.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Feet

Caroline is at scout camp everyday this week and I have promised Lily "adventures" everyday. She is starting dance class next week, so our first adventure was a trip to the mall to get tap and ballet shoes. I am so excited for her. The only thing she loves more than dancing is her baby dolls. Of course she dressed for the occasion by wearing a sparkly pink shirt, her "everyday wear" purple tutu, a purple baseball hat and sparkly purple sunglasses. To quote Tim Gunn "It's a lot of look." Once we got home, she spent the next two hours dancing to the sound track from Cats (my mom took us all to see it on Father's day). She had numerous costume (including shoes) changes while I stopped and started the CD to wait for her. She was the happiest little girl in the world. I was able to convince her to stop for lunch and we sat and chatted about Cats. How magical IS Mr. Mistoffelees? Should Deuteronomy have chosen Grizabella? You know, the usual philosophical thoughts. Then we looked for a Cats DVD on the computer. It was quite an adventure.

The Beauty of a Well Stocked Handbag

A couple of weeks ago, it was time for my annual exam. This is never a very pleasant thing for a woman, but I dutifully went. It had been awhile since I'd been to my doctor's office because of scheduling conflicts. As I reached to open the door, I noticed a new plague by my doctor's name. He was now sharing his office with a urologist. What? Boys in the waiting room of my ob/gyn? Are you kidding? I sat down to wait and an older gentleman who obviously smoked quite a bit sat down next to me. The smell was starting to give me a headache. He was finally called into see the doctor. No sooner had he left than another man sat down next to me. This one reeked of urine! Now along with the headache I started to feel nauseous. I discreetly reached into my purse and pulled out some vanilla hand lotion. I rubbed it all over my hands and then sat their resting my cheek on my hand. I was finally called back and all set to switch doctors after this visit. The thing that I forgot is my doctor is so sweet. He came into the room and instantly gets this dreamy look on his face and says "What is that smell? My wife was wearing perfume like that when I first met her." I didn't have the heart to explain that he'd filled his waiting room with stinky boys and I had no other course of action. So, I sat their in my paper gown and chatted with him about how powerful a scent vanilla is. Once again, I am saved by "Armageddon Bag."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Life's a Potty

Long time no blog, huh? Well it's because I went back to college and consequently my home turned into a frat house. It is no secret that I am married to the sweetest and funniest man, but he knows nothing about house keeping, food groups etc. I have been killing my brain with the world's hardest and most ridiculous math class (Do I really need set theory to teach first grade? The powers that be in D.C. think so.) while the house falls down around us. I kick through baskets of clean laundry to get to my dusty algebra book (FOIL method, anyone?)while Lily eats her third Popsicle of the day. I come home at 10:30 pm to find spaghetti on the floor, socks everywhere and juice boxes crushed and discarded in the living room. Is she smashing them on her head first? My lord, I'm one of those homes that needs rescuing from a good British nanny.

Tonight alone, my youngest wondered if the dead house plant could be revived with pee. "It's like water, but it doesn't waste water." Clearly, I'm doing my part to provide her with a green education. Then she almost gave me a heart attack me by asking for a John Cena shirt. As I looked at Rob in horror, he explained that she saw wrestling once and knew it would have enough shock value to get my attention. I am reading about my cousins' children trying to come up with ideas to save the Gulf yet here is Lily watching Caddyshack. At least she decided it "was really very inappropriate" and stopped watching it although she "loved that dancing little furry guy."

One more week of this @#$% class and I can go back to the kind of mother this place needs: loving, literary minded drill sergeant. I will teach Lily to read, listen to Caroline drum, suggest good books for her, make her practice math on the computer, read fun chapter books with the two of them, go to the pool, go to the library (perhaps a book about the water cycle?), make them eat broccoli, and above all else, make them pick up their junk! Next week needs to end soon before Lily starts playing chocolate milk pong.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Just Keep Laughing

Enough about me, back to the real reason for this blog: my goofy girls! The older Lily gets the more I realize that the days of her saying the most unintentionally funny things are drawing to a close. Some days I regret not trying to have a third (although not today after they managed to break the sensor on the garage door), but most of the time I feel pretty comfortable with where we are in life. Caroline has started watching Lily for very short periods of time. This is really going to help once I am back to taking more classes.

Rob and I are big fans of the TV show The Big Bang Theory, in large part this is due to the fact that Lily reminds us of the character Sheldon. She is so smart, but misunderstands what seem like simple things. The other day she looked at Rob and said "I'm not going to give you are hard time. I'm supposed to save drama for Mom ("Save the drama for your mama"). Thanks honey, I get enough of that from your big sis, you really can share some with Daddy.

Lily loves boys. She just doesn't get the drama of little girls (friends one day and enemies the next), besides, boys will do whatever she asks. Currently, she has six boy friends. One of them is from Ghana and one of his first clear English words is "Lily." Another is Alex, who is as bright and funny as Lily. I drove him home from school a couple of times and they couldn't breathe from laughing at each other (About what? I don't know.) Alex is adopted (it is pretty obvious, he's African-American and his parents are white, his family is pretty open about it). Last weekend, Caroline asked us if he was adopted. I said yes, I don't think it's a big deal. Rob starts to hiss ixnee and I can't figure out why. All of the sudden Lily shouts "Well, if he's adopted, I'm not playing with him." After I recovered from my shock I asked her what she thought adopted meant. She responded "They picked him up from the shelter." Does my child really think there's a room at the animal shelter for children? It never ceases to amaze me how two siblings can be so different: Dreamy Caroline and Literal Lily.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Numerical Miracles and Minor Distractions

I said that I would explain why I was having such a hard time: here it goes. I have to take a math class to be fully licensed to teach first grade. It would be fine if it was an instructional class, but it has to be a 100 level math class (I need to be "highly qualified" according to No Child Left Behind).

For most this is no problem, for me, though, it is Herculean. I haven't taken a math class in 20 years and I have a learning disability in math. I have carefully structured my life to avoid math tasks. Under normal circumstances, you'd just think that I was ditsy, but truth is I perceive the world in a slightly different way. I have an auditory processing disorder which makes it seem like I can't hear. The thing is I can hear, I just hear everything and can't discern between foreground and background noises. My directionality is the pits, too. I get lost even in my own neighborhood. I know which way to go, but my mind flip flops it and I turn the wrong way. Every place looks slightly the same, no matter how many times I've seen it. If you ever want a laugh, watch me in an exercise class. They go left, I go right. Along with directions flipping, so do the hands on the clock and numbers. I have learned over the years to be very calm, very careful and always double check everything (GPS helps!). The only part of all of this that I can't work around is anxiety. I know, anxiety again, but this is where it all began. Math anxiety is a real type of LD. I think of math, my heart races, I can't sleep, I can't think straight. This is as real as a fear of heights or spiders. I can't make it go away. Nobody really seems to understand this except my mom. She lived through it with me.

In order to take a 100 level math class, I had to take a placement test. I spent the day of the test so nervous. Of course, this was the day of utter first grade ridiculousness. If my classroom had been a sitcom, our Nielsons' would have been through the roof! I had the perfect math lesson planned (the irony is not lost on me). In the middle of it one of my students "accidentally" tied his shoes together. This is a child who normally needs a lot of reassurance and attention from me. This was not how to get it. He began dancing around and made the knot tighter. Then he unraveled the laces until the knot was hopeless. I called the secretary (a good friend of mine) for help. She offered to come get the shoes because we knew that if I cut the laces, his very demanding grandparents would insist we buy him new shoes. After she finally untied them and brought them back, he proceeded to hop around to put them on. Another student (who also needs a lot of TLC) kicked his shoes up on his desk and proudly declared "I don't need laces! I have Velcro!" At this point one of my sweet little girls quietly asked me why my hair was standing on end.

After I got the little darlings home, I rushed to the community college to take my test. I was happily going along finding answers all over the place. It almost seemed fun and I began to think I knew more than I thought, when the test shut itself off (there is an automatic shut off after 4 wrong answers in a row). I failed gloriously! I would need to take 4 remedial type classes to even get into the 100 level. I only have nine months. As I tried not to cry in front of all of the twenty somethings, the testing coordinator suggested that I go talk to a counselor (the career kind). I met with a wonderful counselor and when he found out that I had a master's degree, he waved the placement requirements and put me right in the class! I start the week of May 17th.

It is amazing how things always seem to work out for me:) I am very lucky.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

I owe those who read this blog an apology. I never should have made an off the cuff joke about Zoloft. I have this tendency to make jokes that are meant to lighten the situation or deflect attention form myself and sometimes they blow up in my face.

It's a defense mechanism, leftover from a childhood of making many mistakes. If I turn it into a joke and laugh at it, people might not make fun of me. This habit really bothered my father (the biggest joker of all). He could never understand why I was so negative about myself.

Most of my life I have dealt with panic attacks. They got really bad right before my father died and right after. I knew that I wasn't functioning well and that is when I went to my doctor and he suggested that I try Zoloft. It helped my body get back on track while I learned to deal with my panic. I didn't tell many people except really close friends and Rob. I didn't even tell my family. I thought that it was a character flaw or a weakness. I was wrong.

A common theme amongst so many mom bloggers seems to be this idea of needing to be perfect without ever needing help. I really want to remove this stigma. There is nothing wrong with taking medication to help with a chemical imbalance. Judging someone or feeling ashamed about it makes as much sense as apologizing for wearing glasses.

Modern mothers seem to feel this need for ultimate perfection. We keep adding more and more things to our plate without ever taking anything off. If we can't do it all, we feel we've failed. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? The main reason that I write this blog is to share the realities of my motherhood journey, warts and all. Please keep in mind so much of this is tongue in cheek or off the cuff (Lily gets punished often for being so saucy, I really rarely drink wine, my house is not in utter shambles). I just know how hard it is to admit to the realities of life face to face. Maybe it will be easier across the world wide web. I happen to also think it is easier while being a wise guy.

I love my life, every part of it. I will always be dealing with anxiety. The last few weeks were particularly brutal. I had to take a math placement test (that will get it own blog) and was under a great deal of stress. The thing is now I know when a panic attack is starting and how to deal with it. When I start getting annoyed at very small things like loud chewing or make really off the wall jokes (like the last blog), I am having a hard time. Lesson learned: Do Not Blog When Under Stress! By the way, I am also adding, do not blog when sick. How many blogs have I started "I have a cold..."

Thank you for reading and hopefully no one was offended.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Water, Water Everywhere and All of It Is Pee

I did it again. I just survived another week of over scheduled hell:

Friday: Pick up Lily and her friend from school. Drop friend off at house (his mother was in the hospital for surgery) Caroline's birthday, the big twelve. Out to dinner with the family and her BFF. Car started acting up again. Rob po'd, my head pounding. Caroline spills coke in my shoes. Try not to blow my top.

Saturday: Go with girl scout troop Frederick for an underground railroad tour/workshop. Luckily, found another parent to drive in my place, so car could stay home. On way, called dealership to politely insist upon free car rental while car is being repaired on Monday. Request accepted. Come home wash laundry, clean bathrooms.

Sunday: Birthday dinner for my mom and Caroline at my Mom's house. Lurched all the way there (1 1/2 hours). Come home fold laundry, make dinner, plan lessons for week. Head pounding, unable to sleep, up until 1:00.

Monday: Wake up, wash dishes, pack lunches. Drop off car, pic up rental. Nervous about driving car that is not mine. Drove like a nervous 16 year old all the way to school. After school, called dealer ship, car will not be ready until Thursday. Pick up Lily and friend, drop off friend. Make dinner, grade papers. Unable to sleep again, up until 1:00.

Tuesday: After work, pick up Lily and friend, drop off friend. Come home to pick up Caroline and her two friends (their mom was out and I offered to let them stay with us). Check on sick Rob, left Lily with him and took the three other kids to my school to volunteer at Literacy Night. Kids and I served pizza and helped children make bookmarks from 5:30-8:00. Took the kids home. Graded papers. Went up to bed, checked on Lily. She was in our bed, her light was on. Went to turn off light, saw dog had peed on the floor. Curse myself for ignoring the dog, scrub floor. Collapse in bed, fall into deep blissful sleep. Awake at 5:00 to hear Rob ask Lily if she wet the bed. Sheets soaked, mattress soaked, Rob soaked, Lily soaked, Me? soaked and pissed. Luckily, had stuff to clean upstairs from carpet. Change and wash sheet and nightclothes, clean mattress, cover with towels. Unable to return to lovely sleep.

Wednesday: Wake up, wash dishes, dry sheets, pack lunches.... After school rush to preschool to get Lily, rush home to get Caroline. Take her to Girl Scout Service Unit to present her flyer for her service award. Go home, try to grade papers, fall asleep in chair, go up to bed, take towels off bed, Lysol bed, put on new sheets. Blissful, dry sleep.

Thursday: Wake up, wash dishes, pack lunch..... After school dealership calls, car ready. Pick car up, car still lurches, my stomach lurches, Stuck in horrible traffic, miss Caroline's drum lessons. Try not to cry. Rob calls, offers to take over with Lily on Sat so I can go to yoga. Offer accepted. Check info from dealership re: car. Car needs time to adjust to new part. I need patience. Grade paers, up too late.

Friday: Wake up, wash dishes, pack lunches.... Allergies stink, head hurts. Stay late at school to clean room and gather materials for plans. Arrive home, collapse in chair. Wonderful husband orders Chinese food. Spend evening arguing with Caroline about what she should wear to volunteer at band event. Jeans and tee loose, khaki's win. Don't think this is the lasy of this argument.

Saturday: Take Caroline to all day band event at 8:00, pick up at 4:00. Go to Target, get birthday present for Lily's friend. Take Lily to swimming, leave swimming to go to yoga:) while Rob takes her to a party. Go home, clean house. Rob and lily home, go to grocery store (milk's been gone since Thursday am).

Sunday: Go with scouts (on a bus) to a river clean up.

Holy canolli, no wonder I am tired. Of course, I have ended this week exhausted and with the overwhelming feeling that I am doing lots of things, but none of them right.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Break Part 3: Now Where Did I leave My Hipwaders?

I spent the drive home pretty annoyed about having to spend my last day of break in the car shop, but really had no choice. I woke up early the next morning and took the car in. Luckily, the dealership has a shuttle service, so I was able to wait at home. I had spent the day before cleaning the house, so I was pretty adamant about keeping it that way. One, well two small problems with that idea: Caroline and Lily. As fast as I picked up, they took apart. I spent the day doing my best drill sargent impression (in between folding many baskets of laundry).

At one point, I sent them outside and Lily came running back in convinced the Easter Bunny had trashed her bike (I think she's confusing him with a leprechaun). I called Rob and confirmed my suspensions, Lily had left her bike behind his car and he backed over it. I am seriously starting to wonder if my kids will be able to grow up to be functioning adults who are able to find things and finish projects.

That night I started dinner and sat down to finish my lesson plans while it was cooking. I had the nagging feeling that I heard water running, but brushed it off as noise from the fan. The running water got louder and I went to look at the guest bathroom. Lily had put the stopper in the sink and keep the taps on! What a mess! I burst into the bathroom to be greeted by a tidal wave from the sink. It had run down through the wall and flooded Stacey's room and closet. I sent Lily up to her room for punishment and to save herself. Caroline jumped into action fetching towels and mopping up pools of water. i can't help, but think she got a kick out of not being the one in trouble.

Rob came home and heard Lily screaming from her room. By the time he made it down to the basement, Lily had tearfully filled him in she'd "flooded the house and wuined Miss Stacey's woom." Caroline and I were ready for fireworks. Rob simply shook his head and dryly commented "When you girls are finished ruining the house let me know and I'll move back in." Humor is the best tension reliever.

I really don't know what it is about Lily and bathrooms. She got bit by a dog on the way to the bathroom, split open her chin in a bathroom, flooded the same bathroom toilet with paper last year, and let's not forget "Lipstick Massacre 2007." Is it because she's a water sign? Is it the fact that bathrooms have water to play in, nice smelling soaps, cute towels, and other colorful things to explore? I don't know, I'm just sick of cleaning them up (add to this fact that she still has bathroom accidents at times and sometimes has a hard time wiping). Just call me the keeper of the commode. I need a vacation to get over this vacation.

Spring Break Part 2: Rolling and Lurching Right Along

I proceeded to spend the rest of the week cleaning up the house and sorting through summer clothes. When I wasn't playing housemaid, I was taxi driver. By Friday, I was pretty worn out. We got up early to head to West Virginia to see Rob's parents. Look back at my blog our summer trip and you'll recall thatwe don't have the best luck with travel. We were on the road for no less than an hour, when the car started lurching. It seemed to be having trouble switching between higher gears. Remeber, my car is less than one year old. We spent the rest of the drive lurching up every hill (West Virginia has lots of hills). My stomach lurched right along with it. By thetime we arrived (4 bathroom stops and multiple threats to "leave your sister alone" later), my head was pounding. The last thing I want to be around Rob's family is grouchy, so I sucked it up.

They live a beautiful property in West Virginia and the girls had a blast. I love that they get the chance to live a little bit of country life. I grew up in the counrty and vowed to raise my family in the suburbs. I don't regret it for a minute, I don't miss finding copperheads in the washing machine or driving 45 minutes to see a movie. I do however wish the girls had more of a chance to live closer to nature, to learn the value of hard work.

The girls got to go four wheeling, fishing, and creeking. They were filthy and exhausted by the time we left. We had a great time joking around with Rob's parents and listening to their plans for thier house. I also learned that Rob's family reads my blog. I knew his dad did, but not the rest. Hopefully, I haven't insulted anyone.

The next night we lurched our way back home. And I got ready for Part 3.

Spring Break: A Tale in Three Parts Part 1: Getcha Head in the Game

The Friday before spring break began, I rushed through the regular clean up of my room, frantically grabbed a pile of stuff to plan with and bolted out the door. Caroline's play was that night and I didn't want to be late. I was running later than I'd planned, so I'd decided to get flowers on the way to the play. As I pulled into the driveway with Lily, I saw Caroline slamming the basketball into the net. After a gentle and slightly excited hello, I was hit with "I'm not going to the stupid play!" Awesome, just what I need. I asked if something was bothering her and she snarled "Nothing, I'm fine!" I calmly reminded her that her grandparents were coming from 1 1/2 hours away. She agreed to do it for them and stomped into the house. By the way, I haven't written much about this side of Caroline, but trust me, rapid mood change is not unusual lately.

I rushed Lily inside and tried to put something together for dinner. As I was flying around the kitchen, Caroline came down to tell me she left her costume at school. At that moment, I was at a crossroads, I could scream every foul word going through my head or I could be the calm and rational adult. I chose adult (I later asked my step mother what she would have done and she agreed with me). I took a breathe and suggested she put something else together. Luckily the costumes were street clothes that match your character. I went upstairs and helped her find argyle socks, white walking shorts and a red tee shirt. Viola! Brainiac!

I went downstairs and gave Lily shrimp and rice (I'd worry about veggies later). As I was trying to find something for myself, Lily looks up from her plate and inquires "Does our family eat snake?" WTH? "No, Lily, we don't eat snake." "Well, why not?" "Oh good grief! I don't know. We just don't." "Hmm?"

Then the phone rings. My parents are almost at the school (an hour early) and need better directions. Boy, I would love to be early for just one thing. I explain where to go and look at the clock. Crap, no time for flowers now. Caroline runs down stairs and I suggest braiding her hair. You'd have thought I suggested using her hair as a noose. Next I suggest a perky ponytail. She begrudgingly agrees and I fix it. She looks in the mirror and declares "Thanks a lot Mom." (no sarcasm!)

We make it to the school with moments to spare. As we are waiting for the cast to get ready, I fill my mom in on the evening. She laughs and says that I was like that too. I vehemently disagree and explain that I was terrified of defying her (seriously, ask my high school friends). She says she can't think of a reason why I would have been.

My friend Stacey joins us and then I remember how I should be feeling about this evening. Every harried mother needs a twenty something idealist in her life. Stacey whispers that she is just so nervous for them. Her eyes tear up and I see everything through her eyes. The kids come out and give a good amature preteen performance (lots of preteen nerves and teen jackassery). After each song, Stacey smiled and cheered, my mom beamed and I felt immense pride. My baby was up there singing and dancing. I owe my mom thanks for reminding me that this stage is fleeting and Stacey for reminding me to relish it. Sometimes I need to look up from the trenches of motherhood and gain wisdom from experienced motherhood and motherhood yet to be.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Sound of Silence

Actually, in my case silence sounds like Mickey Mouse the morning after a bender. I have a nasty cold and have lost my voice. I stubbornly continue to try to talk (squeak) and my family ignores me more than ever. I have resorted to clapping my hands and banging walls to get their attention. All I can say now is "Enjoy this little vacation. My voice won't be gone forever, folks."

Today was my school's carnival and of course I went to help out. Every time I opened my mouth to speak, people jumped back two feet. I needed a sign that said "It's not leprosy people, I just have no voice." The carnival was worth it to simply see Lily at the end: she was a carnival diva with face paint, nails done, tattoo, numerous little toys and candy, a purple balloon, two cakes and a bottle of pop. Next we went to the first birthday party for my friend's little boy. By the time she left there, she had icing and blue lollipop all over her face. If I'd taken a picture of her sleeping face on the drive home, it would have read "Childhood perfection." She has a birthday party to go to tomorrow as well. I wish I were five again.

I am currently in the middle of a silent pissing contest with my family. I am waiting to see who will notice that the trash can is over flowing and decide to change it. Periodically, I will engage in these little battles, but always loose. They have many forms, but only one outcome, I cave. Sometimes, it is the dramatic Scarlette O'Hara war, as in "As God as my witness, I will never pick up another dirty sock again!" Sometimes it is a life lesson. Case in point, the first month Rob and I lived together, he wouldn't fold or put his clothes away. In a fit a rage, I tipped the basket over and left the clothes in a heap in the middle of the room. For two weeks he picked his clothes out from the pile and I learned that he is more stubborn than me. I am more patient, though. Now I leave his clothes in the basket until it overflows and he gets so frustrated, he puts them away (really he's more grown up now and just does it). There's also the going on strike war. I stop doing what I usually do, the house falls apart and we lose something important like a bill or a project. Everyone ends up frustrated and pissed off.

I know that I'll take out the trash tomorrow. Tonight, though, I am just going to sit in silence.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Restlessly Creative

If you walk into Lily's room and look at it through the eyes of an exhausted mother, all you see is mess. If you look closer, you see a cake made from pillows with wash clothes as fondant and beads as trim. She'll explain how she's in a competition and the clock is running so she has to go. You'll see dozens of dolls tucked into wash cloth and towel beds. If you'd been just a few minutes earlier, you'd have heard the tender good night each doll got (good night darling, don't let the bed bugs bite), then you would have tried not to giggle as Lily rubbed her back and declared "It's hard being a mother."

We come from a creative family. Along with this, though, comes a certain level of chaos. My uncle coined it best as "a certain kind of restless creativity." My father was so talented (carpentry, sculpting, music, cooking, painting, bullshitting), but at the same time was a pack rat. With each phase of his life, came a new wardrobe, music, decor.... His mother was known for going from craft class to craft class. She taught me to cook, make crafts, paint, and never throw anything away because someday you might need it. Can you imagine trying to clean out her house after she passed away? I am creative in my own right. I am a story teller (shocking, I know). I am also the family historian (appointed by my dad) and have a crazy collection of momentos, pictures, and trinkets from various family members. I try to clear out, but it either breaks my heart of overwhelms me. Now that I moved our friend in (she has her own "restless creative vibe" herself), I need to make room.

Every Saturday I dutifully clean the house (this is another post in itself). By Saturday night, it looks like it exploded on itself. The are socks everywhere (why can't my family put socks in the hamper?), books stacked with gum wrappers as book marks, drying paintings, dolls, and doll accessories, scraps of paper with half composed sing lyrics, cups, dogs, blankets, unfinished puzzles, crayons, drum sticks ......

Just for one day, I would like a house where the rooms stay the same after I leave them. I want a model organized home. So many of my friends have said my house looks like a home, it looks like real people live her and it looks like they have a lot of fun. i hope that true. I'd prefer "creative is as creative does" as opposed to "disorganized is as disorganized does not."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lucy, You Got Some 'Splain' To Do

I've said it before, I am the Lucille Ball of the new millennium. I don't mean to get myself in these situations. Really, most of my biggest debacles begin with the best of intentions. For some reason, I decided to have my friend, Stacey, move in the same week as the boys were visiting, which was also the week after snowpocalypse. The roads were horrible. Everywhere I went I would encounter a wall of snow or five inches of ice. To add to the chaos, Stacey's mother decided to have all of her childhood stuff (furniture, boxes of dance costumes, art projects, photos) delivered to my house on Wednesday morning. Luckily, it was a two hour delay for school and the truck was coming at 7:30 am. I got up and was chilling with a cup of tea in my comfy jammies. All of a sudden, I hear a truck pull down my street. Then the noise stops. The freakin truck drove into a snow bank. My entire street was blocked. The driver asked us to call the city to get a plow and salt. That's a riot. Our roads are plowed by the state and there is not a single grain of rock salt left in the entire county. Stacey ends up calling the county and they send out a tow truck and a police officer to close the road.

Meanwhile, Rob calls on his way to work (how does he always know when I have something crazy going on?) and starts to direct things via the phone. I start crying and he accuses me of being irrational. Then he states "This wouldn't have happened if you hadn't invited so many people over at once." I stop crying and ask him if he feels better now that he got that off of his chest. We both calm down and he suggests that I call a co worker for a ride. After I find a ride, I start barking orders and Caroline jumps up and shuts Lily's hand in the foot rest of the chair. Lily starts crying, I kiss her hand and proceed to bark out more orders. Meanwhile the moving men start moving things in through the garage. The door is wide open and cold air starts whipping around the house. Did I mention that my brother was asleep and remained asleep on the coach throughout this?

Lily and I trudge up the hill to meet my ride with her gear and my gear and I can't carry the booster seat, too. My friend distracted the police officer while I buckled Lily in.

When I got home that afternoon, the living room was filled with huge boxes and the basement was filled almost to the ceiling. Stacey is standing in the middle of it showing me her art and her photos. Lily starts trying on her old dance costumes and feather and sequins are flying all over the place. It was chaos.

Of course, after chaos, comes calm. My brother came and took us out to dinner. By the time we came home the living room was empty and neat.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Judging a Book By It's Cover

On Friday, we were finally able to escape the house. Of course we hot tailed it over to the library. As we pulled into the lot, we saw a lady with a wash and wear cut walking purposefully to her car. She was dressed for the weather in a tweedy sweater, cords and sensible shoes. As she put her tote bag into her car, Caroline remarked that she must be enjoying her days off from school. I asked her how she knew she was a teacher. Caroline responded that she looked like one. I then asked, well what do I look like (I was wearing jeans, black sweater, red vest, Birks, and a floppy red hat). Her response? I don't know, a stay at home mother, although a slightly crazy one? Very funny smart ass.

I guess my look came in handy tonight. I was waiting at the train station for the boys. The engine of their train died and they were stuck on the tracks. With all of the snow, there was no way to get them off and onto another, so they had to wait for a new engine. They should have arrived at 3:24, at this time it was 7:00. Anyway, I was sitting in my car reading and trying to stay warm, when an older African-American lady knocked on my window. She had been dropped off by the bus and had no way to get home. After much deliberating (it would be just my luck that she was a ploy and I was going to get mugged by someone waiting outside). I agreed to give her a ride to a phone to get a cab. I helped her walk around the black ice and load her luggage into my car. She climbed in and I turned up the heat. As she started telling me about her difficult trip, I figured that I might as well give her a ride home. She lives in the retirement home not too far from my house. After she said about 10 "Praise Jesus'" she asked me if I was a Christian. I explained that I was a Unitarian. At her blank look, I mumbled something about an "all inclusive religion." She responded "Well, at least your parents raised you right."

After I made sure she was safely home, I needed a place to wait for the train. Where would middle aged woman wearing cat's eye glasses, Birks, a fuzzy purple hat, and a black wrap go on a Saturday night? Why Starbucks of course! I ordered the largest tea they had (begrudgingly using the pretentious ordering procedure). I relaxed and read my book until the boys texted me that they were finally moving. As I got ready to bolt out the door, an exhausted mother walked in with her infant and little pre-school girl. The little girl stopped me to proudly state "Look! I have sparkly red shoes AND a pink bracelet!" Yup, I look like a stay at home mom!

PS The boys finally arrived at 11:30 with their own tales to share. They'll have to get their own blog, though!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sanity Saver Just in Time for Round Three

Just as the blizzard hit my girlfriend (the one who is moving in this weekend) frantically drove (with her beagle) form her apartment to our house to avoid being trapped alone one more day. When she described trying to dig her car out with a dustpan and then finally saying the hell with it and driving over the snowbanks (she has four wheel drive), I laughed for the first time all day. Yay, another adult! I was able to rally myself enough to make lasagna. We spent the next two days listening to the wind howl and watching movies with charming, mostly British, children (Peter Pan, Nanny McPhee, The Sound of Music). We ate junk, played Wii and computer games, and had an all around fun time. After the children went to bed we got to catch up on Lost. I could not have made it without her.

When we weren't having mad, silly fun, I was watching the trees blow so hard they kissed the ground and listening to the wind try to tear the singles off of my roof. I spent those two nights wide awake praying a tree would not fall on our house. We made it through and now it looks like we might be in the clear (well a light 1-2 inches predicted for Monday, but who cares?).

By the time it will be over, it will have been 11 days since I've seen my students. Good grief how much have they forgotten?

Well, we are getting ready for the next onslaught. My mannys are coming! My cousin, Luke (16) and brother, Colton (14) are arriving tomorrow to spend their winter break with us. Usually, I take time off from work, but having lost so much time with the kids, I really can't risk it. They seem to enjoy loafing around our house and playing Wii. Hopefully they still do. Did I mention my friend, Stacey is moving in tomorrow as well? I am truly trying Rob's patience.

Early in the storm, we were standing outside watching a neighbor trying to get out of the snow. Many of our neighbors had gathered to watch/help. I mentioned to Rob (before he went to help) that I always wanted to live in an area where we were close to our neighbors. He replied, but you married anti-social me. I sighed yeah, then he quickly quipped, so you just import them. He's right, this is my chance to have a big family for a little while.

PS After our "Brit Fest," Lily spent the next day stomping about in her kitty cat books quipping in her best British accent " I haven't the slightest idea why my cat boots keep meowing at me."

Monday, February 8, 2010

The More It Snows...

I love this poem( http://www.winniethepooh.co.uk/storiesandpoems.html ), but honest to God after this week I could rewrite it.

The more it snows tiddely pom
the more they go tiddely pom
the more they go tiddely pom
on sobbing.
And nobody knows tiddely pom
how much my head tiddely pom
how much my head tiddely pom
is throbbing.

Ok I love snow days, but this is getting seriously crazy. We just shoveled out of 22 inches (I used a hoe as a pick ax to get through the four foot mountain in front of our mailbox today alone). But that is not enough. No, we are supposed to be getting 7-14 more inches tomorrow. Are you freakin kidding me?!? Best of all, Rob leaves for New Mexico tomorrow morning, leaving me alone with the screaming banshees formally known as my children. I won't be betraying her too much to state that Caroline's hormones are in overdrive. She has lost all control over her body and emotions. If she's not falling and tripping, she's crying and screaming. Throw in Lily, the bully who thinks she's so funny, into the mix and it is insanity.

I am tapping into my inner Jo Frost (Super Nanny) and issuing timeouts and groundings like an over eager rookie cop. Heck, I put Lily's cranky screaming butt in time out in the middle of a snow bank. I am not to be messed with. It's Mommy Boot Camp.

Well, Mommy is tired. I loaded them into the car and drove white knuckled through the snowy streets to get to the store before the next storm. Actually the roads weren't that scary, the people in the store on the other hand... I was afraid to trek to the nice grocery store, so we went to the scary one, the one with the scary people who look like they never leave their houses. I quickly grabbed our necessities and then realized that I forgot the most important necessity of all for a snowed in mama: the chocolate and the wine. "Where the heck is the wine?" I mutter. Of course Lily starts to shout "Wine?" She then launches into "The Wine Song" which is a manically giggling five year old singing "wine, wine, wine, wine!" Over and over as loud as she can. Of course not to be outdone, Caroline quips "Don't you get enough whine from us." All I can think is "Get me the hell out of this store." After listening to the poor boy at the check out tell me about his unfair hours and tired feet, I rush out of there and vow to never go back.

Of course the day is not done, I realize that my front walk needs shoveled. My cousin and brother are visiting and my friend is moving in this weekend. I dug through 20 inches of ice and snow.

Well at least shoveling snow is good exercise. I'll be doing a lot of it this week.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowmagedon!!!! Snowpocolpyse!!!!

Well, if you haven't heard the snow of the century hit NoVA. Here in Woodbridge we got about 22 inches. This was predicted earlier in the week. It was talked about for days. We prepared, we knew. Yet some dumb asses were still surprised. Surprised enough to be driving last night in a blizzard. Surprised enough to cause a 30 car traffic jam that closed the major road through town. I only know this because I heard it on the radio from the comfort of my home. I like to think of myself as smart:)

I was a little sick of the hype, though. We had a lovely day. Caroline's friend came over and we watched Over the Hedge (we'd had another snow day on Wed and watched Peter Pan, the live action one). Rob came home early. It was perfect. Like I've said I have a talent for hibernation. We play outside, watch movies, eat treats, snuggle under blankets in warm pjs... The only glitch was the snow coverage. I finally got the friend home, the kids to bed, and Rob was passed out on the coach. Time for my dirty little secret: I am a closet General Hospital fanatic. I turned on the DVR; it was time to find out how Dante really felt about Sonny being his father. Would Lulu continue to stand by her man? I had my tea, I had popcorn, I had Freakin' snow coverage! They preempted my soap to tell me about what I could look outside and see. It was snowing, don't drive. WTH.

I frantically searched for Soapnet and set it to record. The only problem is I have a house full of interrupting yahoos who want to watch movies or football and I can't get TV time. This is driving me crazy.

I know, I know people are without power. People could be dying and I'm bitching about a soap. You know this is all in good fun, right?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pink Cupcakes and Supermom Capes

This has been a crazy week. The recovery isn't going as quickly as I would have hoped. My nose is very dry and sore and I can't seem to shake this blinding headache. I've used up my grace period of being sick, so my family is none too patient. Rob's schedule is very tough. He gets home at 7:00, so it's back to me to run all errands and get the kids to all activities. Throw in monitoring homework, grading papers, analyzing student data, dishes, laundry, making dinner, thwarting and diffusing evening tantrums and I am beat. There has to be a better way. When I figure it out, I'll let you know.

I had a meltdown on Wed. Lily's birthday was the next day and she wanted to bring pink cupcakes to school. Unfortunately, her school will only take food that is store bought and labeled with the ingredients. I was planning on going to the store next to her school, but when I picked her up, I found out I had to go to a peanut free bakery. I had an hour to pick up Caroline and get her to scouts and to find peanut free cupcakes. I blew my top and proceeded to g off to Rob (via phone) in a manner that would have earned me a spot on Fox news. I still do believe that is a child has an allergy, the parents should proved a treat for them. Rob offered to get the cupcakes. I took Caroline to scouts. By the time, he got to the bakery there were only two different types of cupcakes left and not enough to feed her class. He bought both types and cookies. I knew it would be too hard for her teacher to deal with three types of treats, so I sent in the cookies.

Ultimately, Lily didn't really care. She got a pink crown and had a Chuck E. Cheese party with her friends this weekend (that was crazy, so crowded, so loud, wow!). I need to keep reminding myself to roll with it and not sweat the small stuff. I also need to put some starch in my supermom cape. Up,up,and away!

Lily Bean, Dancing Queen

Lily turned five on this week. It is amazing how quickly the time flew and how now I no longer have a baby. There are many reasons to love and be frustrated by Lily. Here they are:

The fact that she can watch Piglet's Big Movie three four times in a row, especially the scene when Kanga washes Piglet:)

Her dancing. She dances in the car, in the living room, in the store. If there is music she grooves and shakes her tushy. She especially loves to dance to the Wiggles or The Imagination Movers.

Her ability to remember every lyric of every song or commercial (good or bad) after the first time hearing it.

The way she starts so many sentences with "Well, actually..."

The fact that hse can ask and remember the answers to 30 questions in a day.
Her tenacity. If you don't answer her question or give her a pat answer, she'll dog your heels until she is satisfied.

Her sweet tooth and addiction to fruit snacks.

The way she chooses only certain people to love and loves them with her heart body and soul.
The way she has no problem walking up to adults she met once and asking them questions.

The way she says "w" for "r."

The funny little people she draws.
The way she watches TV or reads while laying on her belly with chin propped on her hands.

The way she says "Mom, that's my sketch!" when I try to repeat one of her funny stories.

Her potty humor. Anytime someone asks what's that smell she dead pans "I farted." She almost busted a gut when Rob said "the Back Fartigans." For the record I discourage this.

Her belly laugh. Lily's laugh is the best and most infectious sound in the world. When she laughs, her body collapses in on itself. She exudes pure joy.

Her sweet nature. When she leaves school, she is hugged within and inch of her life by the other kids. Lily is kind to everyone, but only chooses a few to call friend. When you are Lily's friend, she is loyal for life (thus far).

The way she stands back to check out and observe a new situation. It is almost like she's scanning for the rules of the situation.

Lily loves rules.

Her desire for ultimate domination of our house. Her fury at my thwarting her every move.

Her ability to remember word for word every story, movie and cartoon she's seen.

Her tendency to say "That's inappropriate!"

When she is mad she spells "s-u-v!" I think she thinks she's spelling a bad word.

The way she renacts shows with props while watching them.

Lily loves the following: the Imagination Movers, babies, books, big families, Spaghettios, fruit, chocolate milk, her mom, family, her bear, Beary, coloring, dancing, singing, telling jokes, being tickled, tormenting her sister, asking questions, soft clothes, comfortable socks, and the adoration of all.

And love and adore her we do.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Can Breathe Clearly Now, the Tubes Are Gone

The gross tubes are finally out of my nose. The doctor took them out yesterday and while it was gross, it was very interesting. The tubes actually had wings on the side and were folded up in my nose. First he pulled them out and then used very long tweezer thingys (my medical termonology is outstounding, I should have been a doctor) up my nose into my sinus passage and pulled out the packing. Very uncomfortable, but afterwards..... I could breathe! I don't think I've drawn a full breath in two years. It was worth it (the only glitch is he left an annoying stitch in and I need to go get it taken out).

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm sitting in my green chair in my red polka dot pjs with my weepy eyed dog playing video solitaire. Sounds like a line from a poem or a bizarre country song, nope it's my reality. I had the sinus surgery on Tuesday and the recovery is a little more than I bargained for. I have two tubes up my nose for six days with all manner of science experiment type stuff draining out of them. I really wasn't counting on the discomfort and disgustingness of this. I somehow thought I'd be fine after two days and would be able to convalesce in the manner of a Victorian lady; lounge serenely while reading or working on projects. Nope, every four hours I get to shoot saline up my nose and clean the tubes. All I taste and smell is dried blood. I can't breathe through my nose, so I sit hear panting and puffing. When I'm not doing that I'm dozing off in front of the Sundance channel or during video solitaire. Makes for some trippy dreams, that's for sure. Luckily my family gets to leave and doesn't have to sit here and watch this.

Oh well, the tubes come out on Monday and it's back to the same old same old. For now, I'm just going to sit hear and recuperate with my poor Callie (she has pink eye). I can't complain, I have the insurance and luxury to opt for surgery to fix something people would have just had to live with years ago. I have the leave to take the time off to recover. And I live in a country where these things are available. Caroline and I have been watching the news about Hati and our hearts just break for them. Like I said, I have no room to complain. It's been two months of this and it is almost over. Most tough situations don't have that clear an end in sight.

PS I hope this makes sense, I forgot to mention that I am also on pain killers:)

PPS My brother requested an upbeat post after the last. Hope this counts:)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Back to Reality

Thanks to the surprise snow storm at the end of December, the girls and I have had 16days off from school. It has been the laziest and most relaxing vacation ever. Partly due to the fact that I have been feeling so crummy and partly due to the fact that I hibernate well. Hibernation is one of my special talents. We bake, we snack, we watch lots of movies or holiday specials, and we surf the net, most of this done in comfy pjs with fuzzy socks while wrapped in snuggly blankets. My friend described my house as "joining a bunch of cuddly puppies." Yup that's us, warm and dozy.

Rob is in between jobs (he starts his new one on Jan 4), so he was able to join us for the last week. Everyday, we took a break from chilling to complete a long put off household task (lots of organizing and throwing away). We all also stayed up way too late and slept in (often in a snuggly bunch of kids and parents). Not a soul rose before 9:30. I am blessed to have kids who love to sleep in (at least on the days when there is no school).

But as I sit here with a queasy feeling in my stomach, I know there is another reason for this self imposed isolation. I am worried. When I worry, I pull the ones I love best close together and hunker down. I truly am happy with just the girls and Rob. I don't think there are many couples who are just so happy to be together. He's my best bud. Unfortunately, that makes fear losing him all the more. I don't talk about it a lot because he'd be mad at me, but Rob is not a very healthy man. He has diabetes and doesn't manage it as well as he should. I know that my time with him is shorter than most couples our age. I deal with this by trying to be super woman and prove myself or by sticking my hands over my ears and singing la la la la. I know that he is not feeling well lately and that makes me nervous (my step father has also been sick so I'm on hyper alert). I've lost so much of my family, I live in terror of losing anyone else. I don't think that I could function without him. I really need to be more realistic and come up with a plan, but that is too practical, even for the likes of me.

P.S. If you read this (family, friends) please do not mention this post to him. It will only piss him off and not change a thing. I have promised not to write about him too much, but what can I say? If I write it maybe the worry will lessen. Yeah, right and pigs will fly:)