Legos: The Ultimate Deathtrap

Legos: The Ultimate Deathtrap

“You don’t know what kind of person you really are until you’ve stepped on a Lego.”

I said that to a friend on Facebook the other day, half-joking.  But it’s true!  The obstacles of parenthood are many, but there are few that can stand toe-to-toe with the dreaded Lego block.  And don’t be fooled; those tiny little pieces are the devil.  I stepped on a Lego man’s helmet the other day, ends pointed up, and I thought I was going to lose my left foot.  A plethora of swear words came pouring out of my mouth and Connor, our one year old, just stood there gawking at me.  He then shook his head as if to say, “Mom, you cray” and sauntered back down the hall.

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I don’t want to believe that my boys are leaving these random pieces around for my feet to find, but I’m starting to believe that my boys are leaving these random pieces around for my feet to find.  Catch my drift?  ‘Cause Lego blocks don’t place themselves (or, at least, I hope not), and yet they’re always around.  The kids are only allowed to play with said devil-blocks in their room, so how they’re ending up in the pantry, etc. is beyond me.  I even straight-up jacked all the clear ones because those little turds genuinely piss me off.  “Oh, you hurt me AND you’re trying to be stealthy?  AW HELL NO!”

The other night, in fact, I was walking towards my room when, suddenly, three Legos and a couple of Lincoln Logs came from out of nowhere.  A block took me by surprise, first.  I jumped, pained, and landed smartly on a Lincoln Log.  I repeated that ungraceful Merengue until finally I escaped the mine field of toy death traps.  I’d been down the hallway a million times that evening getting the kids bathed, putting Connor down, making several trips with folded laundry… and not once had I committed foot suicide.  But there, at midnight, my feet fell victim to toy tyranny.  And once more, an overflow of four letter words erupted, waking up Connor, causing another slew of curses – this time silent.  There’s a game being played here, I just know it.  Is someone filming the sequel to The Lego Movie in my house without telling me?  A heads up would be groovy.

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I’ve stepped on, kicked, and been pelted with many a toy, but Legos are by far my arch-frenemy.  Frenemy, because it’s all fun and games until someone steps on a tiny red brick that has it out for a pinky toe.  Plus, Gabe loves them, so they can’t be all bad, right?  ….I’ll get back to you on that about midnight when I’m hopping up and down, writhing in pain.

Childbirth?  No problem.  Broken arm?  Cake walk.  Lego lodged in foot?  I don’t want pink at my funeral.

Dramatic, much?  I’ll let you be the judge of that.  The only worse pain I’ve ever felt, and it was more out of embarrassment than anything, was the time I was walking down a sidewalk in DC and somehow managed to plant both feet in the middle of a newspaper bundle ring, which sent me flying a good five feet until I belly-flopped on the scalding, hard pavement.  That was more humbling to me than even my latest OBGYN visit.  But in comparison to Lego stomping…?  That’s a tough one to call.

Lackluster Potty Training 101

Lackluster Potty Training 101

Potty training.  It’s a bitch.  I hate it, y’all.  I know it’s a necessary evil, but gah.  It’s awful.  I started potty training Gabe around 18 months.  He didn’t care for it then, and, if I’m being honest, he still doesn’t like taking the time to go do the doo.  He does it anyway, obviously.  But he was a tough one to teach.  His SPD didn’t help matters and by the time the four year mark rolled around we were both a crying mess.  Finally he caved and I never figured out why he did.  I chose not to question the potty-training gods, though, and let well enough alone.

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Nearly two years later and Connor is actually showing signs of wanting to train.  So long as all he has to do is pull off all his clothes and run around bare assed.  The moment his little cheeks touch the plastic kiddy toilet, he’s up and done.  Running through the house in a flash.  Gabe liked books and small toys, so getting him to sit on the toilet was never an issue.  It was getting him to go while sitting on the toilet.  But Connor doesn’t like to sit still; he’d rather be climbing and streaking.  I figure he’ll be 40 by the time he’s finally trained to not drop trou and to use the toilet efficiently.

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Anywho.  A few years ago, Huggies had this PullUps commercial that I loathed.  I was a little bitter (okay, a lot bitter) about Gabe’s lack of progress and the Huggies mom was all put together and had built this sort of kinetic speedway for her kid’s first flushed BM or whatever.  Who the hell has the time for that?!  I mean, let’s be real here.  I’m not even going to lie; the whole premise behind it was genius.  And mad props to whoever put that bad boy together.  But I am not about to put together a kinetic freaking speedway the span of my entire house just because of a movement.  I’m not.  Because who’s gonna have to pick up that mess?  Mom.  Not to mention, that kind of thing gets to be expected and I am most definitely not constructing a different kind of celebratory racetrack every time one of the kids decide to save their underwear.  Not until I get a volunteer to do the dishes.  Which, with my luck, will never happen.

I’m kind of aggravated with all the hype of speed-training and over-rewarding-training.  Whatever happened to simple potty training?  Why make everybody feel like a parental failure and a potty training flop because we’re not throwing confetti and showing off engineering skills for something is natural?  It’s just ridiculous.  I mean, I’m not offended.  Really, I’m not even bitter (regardless of how the post sounds).  I’m just irritated.  Who the hell does that?  I’m the ultimate shortcut taking mom.  It’s not that I don’t care and it’s not that I can’t be enthusiastic.  But I keep it real.  And, real talk?  I’m up every freaking morning at five.  I get us all dressed and ready, fed, and chauffeured to various locations.  I work from 8-5 and in-between random doctor visits and occupational/speech therapies.  I maneuver around this errand and that errand and come home to clean my atom-bomb survivor house, cook dinner, and hose off the kids who appear to have trekked through a mud-pit at some point earlier in the day.  The fact that I’m not bribing my kids with candy and junk food is a friggin miracle and they’re doing good to get there chore list tackled.

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I guess bottom-line what really chaps me is this constant pressure to be a perfect parent.  I hung that dream up years ago.  And I’m alright with that.  Because making mistakes is part of the learning process.  And at the end of the day, I’m entitled to screw my kids up at least a little bit.  I love my boys and if I haven’t made that clear enough then I guess I’m not the mom I hoped to be.  But I make my kids learn by trial and error.  They have their own duties (even the one year old) and they answer for their mistakes (even the one year old).  They’re smart little guys and I put probably too much faith in their abilities.  So if my one-year old can load clothes into the dryer, wash his own hands, and bring me a diaper when he’s dirty, then he can potty train a la old school.  If constructing expressways in my bathroom is the only standing between me and good parenting, then so be it.  I’m too busy wiping butts and cleaning pee off the walls to care.

Them Hospital Blues

Them Hospital Blues

Two weeks ago, Gabe came up with strep throat.  No big deal, antibiotics, yadda yadda.  He seemed to improve over the next few days and then, BAM!, sick again.  It was pretty weird; of the two boys, I’d more expect Connor to be sick with something-or-other.  But this time, it was the big one.  And it blew me away.  His symptoms weren’t scary or anything — just peculiar.  I took him in Monday for what seemed like a hardcore cold or maybe a weird strain of the flu.  Anyway, long story short, they ran his pulse-ox and it was leveling out at 90 (it should be about 100).  He was also super wheezy and congested.  Diagnosis: Mycoplasma pneumonie, also known as “walking pneumonia”.  There’s no telling how long he’d been walking around with it and I had just been chalking it up to him feeling generally crappy.  So, while we were at the pedi’s office, they ran some breathing treatments to try and get his oxygen level to a good enough standing.  After two or three treatments, it still hadn’t budged.  His pedi admitted us to one of our local hospitals that afternoon and there we stayed until Thursday evening.

For all you parents out there who are constantly back-and-forth from doctor’s appointments and hospital stays, my hat’s off to you.  Especially those of you with multiple kids.  Lawd have mercy.  As luck would have it, Evan was out of town the same week for work and I was alone with the kids.  This is nothing new, in and of itself.  But I’ve never had to rush one kid to the hospital and leave the other one hanging without a way to get to them… ever.  Not knowing how I was going to get to Connor freaked me out just about as much as admitting Gabe into the hospital even for something that is, admittedly, not a big deal.  Thankfully, my parents stepped up that evening and kept Connor while I stayed with Gabe.  Ev’s mom kept him the night after and Evan was able to make it home by Wednesday.  And thank God for that, because Wednesday was a whole other craptastic chain of events.  The daycare called me not even thirty minutes after I’d dropped Con off to tell me he had fever and wouldn’t stop crying.  Cue Sarah ripping out chunks of hair.  I thought I was going to lose it right there in room 315.  Gabe still hadn’t shown any improvement and had, in fact, worsened slightly.  Adding Connor’s supposed sickness and leaving him stranded again was beyond agitating.  But, again, my dad stepped up and I was able to go get Con — only to find that he did not have a fever and was not sick (thank GOD).  I have a few theories on that, but that’s another post for another time.  My brother’s girlfriend also saved the day and was able to relieve my dad at the hospital until the hubs could get home.  Even for such a frustrating turn of events, I cannot, and could not, help but feel utterly grateful for the amount of help we received.  It is good to know that I have so many people who I can rely on and who are willing to reach out to me when things feel hopeless.

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I was able to stay with Gabe for the most part and he was a trooper.  The staff was helpful and patient and our stay was not bad, considering.  I slept on a pleather, rock-hard loveseat for three days and I am certain that I shrank two inches much to my waistline’s dismay.  However, hospital food has a way of keep a person “on the regular” and there’s a good chance that it wasn’t just a fluke that my pants seemed to fit better (if it was a fluke, please don’t tell me).  Come Wednesday, Gabe and I were both pretty much over being room-bound and we had to invent ways to entertain ourselves.  Thank Jesus for smart phones and Instagram, y’all.  And also for army men & hungry t-rex’s:

toys will be toys, after all.

toys will be toys, after all.

At one point, a respiratory therapist came in and saw my dancing man and laughed out loud.  I’m still not sure if he thought I was creative or just crazy.  I’d be lying if I said I cared at that point in my life.  Miraculously, Thursday morning, Gabe’s pulse-ox improved greatly and his wheezing was almost gone.  One last x-ray showed that the cloudiness that had been pretty evident was disappearing and we were later discharged — HAPPY DANCE!

The past few days have been full of breathing treatments and getting back to (somewhat) normal.  We’re never completely normal, though.  Gabe’s getting back on his feet and Connor is ecstatic that his brother’s back home and his addiction to gummies can be a thing again.  I’m pretty sure he was Jonesin’ hardcore for some gummies during that four day stretch.  Now if we could just get Con’s sleep schedule back to a decent routine maybe I’ll stop feeling so zombiefied.

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Who Says I Can’t Have Non-Mom Friends?

I mean, seriously.  I’m not stupid; I know it gets harder to have non-mom friends, especially if you have kids under the tween years.  I have two little bodies in my care that come in waaay under that radar.  But I still have a handful of pals that aren’t moms.  I love them dearly and in a different kind of way.  Kind of in a, “I have milk, juice and boogers all over me, and you still call.  Or text.  Or Facebook.  Thank you,” kind of way.  I don’t get to see them often and it blows.  But I haven’t been cut off and they’ve never made me feel that way.

I’m tired of hearing other moms whine about not having those wild friends that they used to have.  Not being able to go out and get crazy.  Well honey, unless you’re a Kardashian or whatever, you kind of turned in your party-girl card for a mini-van card upon entry into the pregnancy zone.  Welcome.  Enjoy your stay.  Here’s a burp cloth; you’ll need it.

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There’s nothing wrong with going out with your girlfriends — whether they be fellow moms or not.  I went out recently with my usual trio and had a blast.  We went to Chili’s and hit up a few low-key bars and called it a night.  One of the four of us isn’t a mom.  We didn’t regale her with spit-up stories (not a ton of them, anyway), and she didn’t try to get us so hammered that we were in need of nanny care.  We had a good time just enjoying each other’s company.

Life does change, though.  And it has a funny way of doing so.  I used to have a phone full of numbers that I could call at any given point and have a buddy for a night out.  Wednesday night margaritas?  Tuesday night at Finnegan’s?  Why the hell not.  I lost those friends slowly when I got pregnant with Gabe six years ago.  At first I was bummed out.  Here I was, 20 and pregnant, with swollen ankles to boot.  And there were all my friends, 20 and bombed out of their minds, sans swollen ankles.  But it didn’t take me long to get out of that funk.  Nine months without a hangover was truly a blessing in disguise — even if it meant having cankles.  And, as luck would have it, I was never really alone.  Aside from the three jobs I was holding down, which pretty much kept me preoccupied, I still had friends that would take time to come see me.  Go have lunch.  Bring me sweet baby things.  So the absence of former friends, turned acquaintances didn’t really phase me.  I learned a pretty valuable lesson then and at a very young age: good friends are friends even when it isn’t convenient.  And my pregnant, waddling ass was anything but convenient.  As a matter of fact, the three ladies I went to dinner with are some of the very same who helped keep my chin up all those years ago.  And they were still around when I went through the same song and dance with Connor.

In short, we’re getting older.  Not old, just older.  We have responsibilities that must be seen about — nevermind that those responsibilities are under 4’0″ tall.  Going out and having a good time doesn’t have to stop just because the majority of our days are spent cleaning up ketchup from the walls and wearing the same shirt with the same strained pea stain for the third day in a row (no judgement if it’s actually a pee stain.  we’ve all been there).  But part of growing up is being able to separate ourselves from whatever distracts us from moving forward.  For example, the hubs and I canceled our cable not too long ago because every five seconds we were changing the channel due to not-so-kid-friendly programming… that, and both the kids figured out how to get the lock off the remote and discovered HBO (stay with me… there’s a point to this).  Point is, some people are like HBO; nice to have as an option, but not worth the hassle of changing every other scene.  Catching what I’m throwing?  Therapy, guys.  It’s expensive.  And it’s ALWAYS the mother’s fault.  And think of it this way: maybe saying goodbye to your HBO friends isn’t such a bad thing when your daughter wants to take pole dancing lessons and your son is giving his best John Travolta from Pulp Fiction impersonation to the preacher.. for the fifth time.

At any rate, whining about not having non-mom friends isn’t productive; it’s counterproductive.  Nobody likes a whiner.  Maybe it’s not the fact that you have kids that is a deterrent; maybe it’s because you whine about not having friends.  That’s pretty annoying.  So go find mom friends — believe me, they’re not rare creatures.  Find people who understand what it’s like to be thrown up on at midnight without it being alcohol induced.  People who have also had to pull Lego’s out of nostrils and ear canals.  People who understand what it’s like to hear continuously, “Mo-om!  I’m hungry! Sister hit me with a brush! Brother won’t get out of the bathroom! Wipe my butt!”

Or, hell.  Reconnect with some of your childless friends.  So what if they don’t have kids and you’re walking around with a kid strapped to your ankle?  It can be done.  I know this because I do it on the semi-regular.  Another fun little factoid?  The older we get, and the more we have on our plates, whether it be changing diapers or trading stocks on Wall Street, the less time we have for outside friendships.  It’s a suck-y fact of life.  But it’s a fact of life, nonetheless.  Embrace it, though.  It means you’re growing up.  And although adulting is not always fun, at least we’re not forty and living in our parents’ basement with ten-thirty curfew.

I don’t see my girlfriends as often as I’d like and I hate it.  But they understand I have a life outside of girls’ nights and ditto for them.  We have each other’s backs and ears when needed — and really, it doesn’t get better than that.  I can’t hang like I used to, anyway.  So until we all have the luxury of being empty-nesters, take people up on mommy-and-me dates.  Have a monthly girls night.  Whatever strikes your fancy.  Just make sure the only w(h)ine being served pairs well with cheese.

Meanwhile, until you can set up a sitter or wrangle up some of your favorites, watch this movie on your down time.  It’s worth the Redbox code, I swear it.

If a Taco Falls and a Five Year Old’s Around…

If a Taco Falls and a Five Year Old’s Around…

…does it make a sound?  According to Gabe, yes.  I’m gonna go ahead and put it out there that this post isn’t exactly politically correct.  So, if you get butt-hurt too easily, move on.  Should you choose to stick around, please take note that the following conversation happened between me and my five year old who doesn’t even like hurting spiders, let alone people’s feelings.  We don’t teach hate and we all share a fondness for most things TexMex.  That said, let’s move forward.

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While watching Big Hero 6 on my laptop at work:

Gabe: Mom.  The movie’s making taco noises.

Me: Do what?

G: The movie.  It sounds like tacos.

Me: *typing* That’s nice…..

Five minutes later…

G: Mo-om!  It still sounds like tacos!

At this point, I stop what I’m doing and listen in case the disc is skipping.  It wasn’t.  They were speaking SPANISH.

Through a fit of laughter I managed to get out:

M: Baby.  They’re speaking Spanish.  Not tacos.

G: Sure sounds like tacos to me, mom.  But you’re old.. so okay.

 

i need this in my life.
i need this in my life.

Y’all, I about fell out of my chair.  And on the menu tonight… nachos.  Because tacos.

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Friday Tunes

This song is the stuff Fridays are made of.  Digging the ’80’s vibe.

Happy Friday, all!

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Twenty-Seven

I turned twenty-seven on Saturday morning.

At 8:10 A.M. Saturday morning if you want to be über specific like my mom.  But it’s cool if you’re more into generalities.  I feel ya.

Anyway.  I’m twenty-seven now.  I feel no different than I did the year before or the year before that.  In fact, I feel better than I did after my twentieth birthday (hello, hangover!).  Now that I’m a responsible absent-minded mother of two, I have no time to properly cultivate a good (?) hangover.  And for that, I am thankful.  I was never good at that scene, anyway.  And for that, I am also thankful.

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I’ve learned a lot in my twenty-seven years on the planet.  I’m a little embarrassed sometimes at what I don’t know.  But, in a quote paraphrased from the humble-yet-wise Socrates, “The wise man knows that he knows nothing,”  I must be freaking brilliant because there are days I don’t even know where my own head is.  Sometimes, I feel like I know too much.  Y’all know what I mean.  Those little moments that spring up and you wish to God that he’d not forgotten to install the memory erase button?  Yeah.  We’ve all been there.  All too often.

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So here’s a list of things I’ve learned during my time on the planet.  Some are pretty obvious.  Some may be familiar to your own learning experience.  Some, admittedly, are kind of dumb.  You’ve been warned.

  1. No amount of fibbing, wishing, or praying can take back or erase a text message.  ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU’RE TEXTING/IM’ing?/EMAILING THE RIGHT PERSON.  Take it from me and foot-in-mouth disease.
  2. Baby pictures always seem to come up in doubles and triples.  You burned the album of baby bath pictures?  Congratulations.  Keep looking, though.  ‘Cause your mom’s probably got two other identical albums stashed away for such purposes.
  3. You will get used to being puked, pee’d, and pooped on by your children.  No matter how old they are.  Other people’s kids… and other people?  You will still probably get queasy at the least and/or prepare for a body fluid domino effect at the worst.  Luckily, I seem to have inherited an iron gut.  Thank you, sweet baby Jesus.
  4. Anytime I hear, “MOM!” I turn around.  It’s a reflex.  I don’t care whose kid he or she is… I will turn around.  And I’ll probably answer.  Crying babies = ditto.  It’s a curse, I tell you.  I even hear it in my sleep.
  5. Road rage gets worse with age.  Add children to the mix, and it’s a homicidal breakdown waiting to happen.  Unless you’re super into finding “inner peace”.  In which case, you suck.  And you’re probably the reason my road rage is the way it is.
  6. I always thought that (road rage aside) I would be pretty reasonable growing up.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  I’m a woman and my mood has a hormone switch that goes from 0-60 in .00001 seconds.  Regardless, I always assumed I could keep my emotions and mouth mostly in check.  Again, enter children.  And if life has taught me anything, it’s that I can bark at my children any time of the day.  And that it’s out of love. . . mostly. But if anyone else barks at my kids?  LAWD HAVE MERCY, JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL… ’cause I’m about to come unhinged on you.  Back it on up, honey.  Back it on up.
  7. Groceries are mad expensive.  If groceries keep going on up, we ain’t movin’ on up to the east side.  I never thought that being an adult would be so costly.  I don’t know how I ever thought that, honestly, having grown up with two working parents.  But I got a good taste of it at twenty-one when I had Gabe.  And I’ve been a bit of a money hoarder ever since.  Don’t get any ideas and think you’re going to rob me blind, though.  The government’s doing a good enough job at that by…
  8. …”giving” me shit insurance.  The mythical definition of insurance is: the act, business, or system of insuring life, property, etc against loss or harm.  I’ve learned, though, that the literal definition of insurance is: to rob middle-class Americans blind before retirement so that retirement is only legends heard of as children.  True story.
  9. On topic with groceries: ALWAYS make a list and NEVER go hungry.  And if you have kids and can help it, go after nap time or “butt-crack of dawn” early.  Trust me.
  10. It took me some time, but I figured out that it isn’t the number of friends a person has at any given point.  It’s the quality of the relationships.  In my life, I’ve been blessed with great friendships.  Some have come and gone for a spell, others have stuck it out.  The relationships I have these days are precious to me.  I don’t see these people often and we can’t talk every day due to… well, life.  But I know if ever I need a hand, someone will come running.  And I’m proud to be able to do the same for them.
  11. I’m in the process of learning that sometimes all I need is the support from the hubs and that sometimes all he needs is my support.  Whether it be physical, mental, emotional… even silent… we’re a team.  It’s harder a road than I thought it would be some days, and other days it’s pretty easy to fall in line with.
  12. Marriage is hard in general.  But for us, divorce isn’t an option.  Because what good is holding guilt over someone’s head for 50+ years if everything ends seven years in?  I’m kidding, y’all.  Seriously, though. . . we’ve already experienced some hard-hitting stuff.  And it’s been tough.  And some days it might have been easier to throw in the towel.  But ultimately, he’s my weirdo.  So I guess we’re staying put.
  13. No matter what they tell you, childbirth is the easy part.  Third degree tear?  C-Sections?  Please.  Wait until you’re hiding in the pantry with a pint of Haagen Dazs and a shot of whatever beverage (adult or not) is within arms reach, praying that your kids won’t get up from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and discover your hiding place.  Parenting has it’s good days.  But it definitely has it’s “hide out in the pantry and pray bedtime carries it’s ass” days, as well.  But chillax — that should mean you’re doing it right.
  14. When you’re young, crying and flirting will probably get you out of a ticket.  When you’re a mother, you pray the police have a heart and let you go because, “the baby only sleeps when the car is in motion… and he’s about to blow a gasket.”
  15. The same does not apply to grocery store clerks who could care less that $0.78 a pound is ridiculous for bananas and that you missed the sale for teething biscuits.
  16. High school seems like an eternity.  College finals can be daunting.  Hold on, man.  The end is near.
  17. Family is pretty much an extraordinary thing.  And I’m not just talking biological (see #9).  My kids call my best friends aunt & uncle.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Because having learned about Gabe’s three girlfriends (two at school and one at daycare), I’m ready to call in the troops with our rocking chairs and guns in hand.  Paintball guns, y’all… don’t get your panties in a twist.
  18. A night out with the girls is amazing and just what the doctor ordered.  Whether you’re single, in a relationship, married/divorced with kids… whatever.  A night out with your pals is the ultimate in refreshing.  Guys, same goes for you.  Just keep it clean, ladies and gents.  Social media, you know.
  19. An evening out with the hubs/little lady is even better.  If you have kids, try not to talk about the weird stuff that comes out of their noses or how cute or hilarious it was because it kind of looked like Abraham Lincoln.  Talk about yourselves… or anything else, for that matter.  You only have a few hours to pretend that you’re childless.  Revel in it,
  20. I figured I’d be a “progressive” woman when I was younger.  That I could hang out with guy friends solo and still be in a relationship.  You can’t and, really, you shouldn’t want to risk it.  Not that anything would happen.  And I’m not trading in my independence for an apron and a 1950’s edition of Southern Living Recipes.  But unless Ev can be around, it can’t happen.  Ditto for him.  I’ve learned that things can happen, it’s my job as a spouse to try and keep things from happening.  Accidental or not.
  21. It took me several years, but it hit me a while back that my little brother is one of my best friends.  And why not?  We’ve seen a lot together.  My kids adore him.  He’s pretty cool.  It was one of the best realizations I’ve ever had.
  22. I have learned and relearned that you can’t make people love and respect you.  Those are two things that come naturally and cannot be forced.  It can be learned, absolutely.  And I’d say that a learned love and respect can be the best kind.  But you can’t make it happen.  And when you come to terms with that fact, you can live a more content life than you could imagine.
  23. I said it once recently, but it’s worth a repeat.  When I was younger, I was scared of everything.  I was content to sit idly in the background.  Having little ones changed that in me slowly but surely.  If you ever have the opportunity to have little ones and give up some pretty sacred pieces of yourself, do it.  It’s amazing.  Even on the Haagen Dazs days.
  24. Unless you’re born into money or have the power to summon wild wealth on a whim, new business ventures are scary.  But once you see things taking form and going forward, it’s a pretty cool experience.  Definitely equal parts cool and risky.
  25. Buying a house is a pain in the ass.  But to get out from under a rent note is a relief.  Moving is also a pain in the ass.  Find reliable friends to help.  Cook for them.  Laugh with them.  Mark boxes FRAGILE.  Drink after all is said and done if necessary.
  26. If you take note of nothing else I’ve mentioned, do yourself a favor and write this down: Remember to laugh.  It’s easy to get down and discouraged sometimes.  Remember to laugh… even if you have to find something to laugh at.
  27. Lastly, the past twenty-seven years has been a roller coaster of up’s, down’s, and twirly loops.  In twenty-seven years, Gabe will be nearing thirty three and Connor twenty-nine.  I’ll be fifty freaking four.  There may be grandchildren… possible retirement.  Who the hell knows.  I’m still learning how to navigate the ride, but I’m ready for the next go around.
You Get a Trophy, You Get a Trophy…

You Get a Trophy, You Get a Trophy…

EVERYONE GETS A FREAKING TROPHY.

Kid sitting on the sidelines with his finger up his nose?  Gets a trophy.  Kid makes a goal for the wrong team?  Gets a trophy.  Kid doesn’t even show up but his or her parent remembers to bring snacks?  GETS A TROPHY.

It’s ridiculous.  You know what our participation trophy was when I was a kid?  Actually participating.  Win or lose.  Because it was embarrassing to be the kid who whined, pissed, and moaned because, “It’s ho-ot. Can I have a juice?  When is the game over?  Can I go pick that flower two fields over?”  If we didn’t win, we got a pep talk and a Gatorade.  We didn’t get a trophy because we, probably literally, ate dirt.  I was even the kid who scored a goal for the other team once.  Okay, twice.  And do you know what I earned for that?  Suicides and a week of bitter looks from my teammates who were also doing suicides.  And did we whine about not getting trophies or ribbons?  Were our psyches damaged beyond repair?  Did we become rooftop killers?  NO.  We dealt with it and we did better the next game.  Want to know why?  Because there is no encouragement quite like double time drills in the hot Louisiana summer.

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Coming from the perspective of a once upon a time kid and a current parent, I don’t want my own kids having a sense of false entitlement.  You didn’t do squat (or squats) and you expect a trophy?  What, are you high?  No.  You get out there, participate, and win.  That’s how you get a trophy.  If you win, you act like a good sport.  If you lose, you will not be shamed for losing but you won’t be a sore loser.  You can’t manage that?  You’re benched.  Plain and simple.  But the problem with kids these days, like I’ve said before, are the parents.  “My baby feels left out.”  That’s because you’ve coddled the child.  You’ve not allowed him or her to feel defeat.  Hell, you probably haven’t let the kid feel triumph.  Not in the right way, that is.  If a person feels no defeat, there is no growth.  There can be no room for improvement because he or she feels a false sense of productivity.  All great winners were at one time losers.  There is no shame in losing if you do it the right way.

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Tired of losing?  Try a little harder.  Practice more.  Whine less.  Figure out a strategy.

And this isn’t just about sports.  This is about the art of competition in general.  Music, academics, sports… you name it.  If a person fares poorly, there should be no physical reward.  There can be a mental reward, though.  To be a good sport and to work on tactics and principles… that is the reward in losing.  When I screw something up I get frustrated.  But after some time (and it may take a long time, admittedly) I’m able to pick up where I left off and work on my form.  For me, as a mom, it’s cooking.  Or sewing.  Or trying to making a scarecrow costume for the umpteenth time only for it to look like the fabric section at Hobby Lobby vomited a half-assed design.

Gabe has genuinely sucked at some things.  I mean, it’s been devastating.  And he doesn’t like losing.  But I let him anyway.  Why?  Because that’s the only way he’ll ever learn.  There are no quitters in my house…. there are no whiners in my house (we’re working on it, anyway).  Do I let him win every board game?  No.  In fact, if we were keeping score, it would be Mom – 10, Gabe – 4… give or take a few dozen games.  Some games are simply chance, like Hi-Ho Cherry-O.  Other games are strategic or memory based.  Bottom line: he is already learning that he won’t always win and that win or lose, he should always be a good sport.  Because the shoe could be on the other foot at any given point.

Gabe is also crazy good at some things.  Even better than me.  And that’s great!  I encourage those things.  He’s not so great at climbing the rock wall, but he masters all things that can be built.  He doesn’t color very well, but he can draw some really neat things for a kid his age.  He’s the best big brother and gives amazing hugs.  He makes me laugh.  He can make Connor cackle like no one else can.  He’s my boy.  And win or lose, he’s one of my biggest heroes.  When he’s not being a turd, that is.

So, let your kids lose.  It won’t damage their psyches and it won’t land them on America’s Most Wanted.  Kids need to learn how to be tough and able now more than ever before.  So let them fall on their faces.  Let them eat dirt and score for the wrong team.  Let them completely butcher the tuba solo at the spring concert.  They may whine and complain now.. but when they’re out in the real world kicking butt and taking names they’ll thank you.  And so will the rest of the parents who are so wishing you would just cut the cord.

Everything I’ve Learned. . .

Everything I’ve Learned. . .

. . . I’ve learned from my kids.  Everything.

I’ve learned how to live.  I’ve re-learned how to love.  I’ve learned how to hold my tongue and I’ve learned that sometimes I let my crazy out a little too long.  I’ve learned how to laugh and how to suppress one when they’ve done something “naughty but good Lord that’s hilarious”.  I learned how to hold my face in just the right way so as not to cry when Gabe broke his arm… because momma needed to be tough but gah.  I just wanted to bawl.  I’ve learned that expensive toys are fun.. but blanket fort Fridays are the best.  I’ve learned that they haven’t had all the learning time that I’ve had and that I need to be a little more patient.  How to read a book with at least five different silly voices.  How to sing songs over and over just so they’ll have sweet dreams.  How to be tough.  How to let up.  How to be a mom and how to let my kids be kids… although, that is admittedly a work in process.  That said, I’ve learned more in 5.5 years than I had in 21.  And to say it’s been informative, hectic, and humbling?  That’s putting it lightly.

My kids, man.  They’re nuts.  And they make me nuts.  Like, with the-fire-of-a-thousand-suns crazy.  Or cray.  Or whatever the kids are calling chaos these days.

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I am most definitely not a typical mom.  In fact, I’m the least maternal kind of mom I’ve ever known.  I can be crazy impatient and shockingly distant seeming.  I detest shrill noises (hurts my ears like you wouldn’t believe) and, to be honest, before I had kids I had only met a handful of ankle biters that I genuinely liked.  I love babies in all their sweet little ways and cuddles and coos.  But babies grow into tiny heathens and have more energy than I could ever have.  And it’s not that I don’t like them.  It’s that I don’t know what to do with them.  You know… being the “old soul” that I am, and such.

At any rate… I have these two mad-chaotic little guys who make me nuts and tired.  And just when I think I’m about to lose every ounce of sanity I have left, one of them does something crazy-sweet that makes me fall in love with them all over again.  And harder than I had before.  Love, love, love, love… crazy love.  And I think that’s the beauty of this parenting thing.  I do.  I think parents, even the not-so-great-at-it kind like me, have this innate gift inside of them.  That no matter how disappointed or angry we are at the moment… there’s always the moment after.  Always the reminder.  And it’s not always a fuzzy feeling kind of reminder, either.  No.  Sometimes, it’s a cold, hard fact reminder.  Sometimes, it’s an eye-opener.  Sometimes… sometimes, it’s a blast to the past that reminds us of our own former, and even present, ways.  It is for me, anyway.  I see the kids making the same mistake I very vividly remember making myself occasionally and I scream to myself, “Oh my God… there’s the gene pool.”  And it is.  But in those moments, I eventually find peace and wisdom.  And a little lot of humility.  And I can calm down.. and calm them down.. and reassure them that, “Hey.  I’m a little disappointed.  And that’s okay.  Because you’re mine.  And I’m with you.  And you’re with me.  Always.”

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I ask myself to ask God on a regular basis why.  Why was I given these kids with these particular problem sets?  Why do I never seem to be going in the right direction or doing the right thing?  Why do I stammer over my words and flip-flop around like I’ve no brain at all?  Why???  And before I can even ask him all the why’s… it flies at me.  Because no matter how frustrating or humbling or fearsome parenting can be… it really is a gift.  Every time one of the boys hug me for absolutely nothing at all.  Every hand-print picture (I’ve kept them all.  Every one of them).  Every kiss, every “I need you”, every blessing at dinnertime when Gabe says, “God is grace, God is grace, let us thank him for our food”…. everything.  No matter how horrible I feel.  No matter how enraged I’ve been.  No matter the broken dish or the spilled milk or the fight over the toy.  It all sucks.  But, then again, it’s all good.

I’m hard on my boys.  And I’m hard on them for good reason.  Sometimes, I am too hard.  And I hate it.  I do, truly.  But I want them to grow up capable.  I want them to grow up smart and independent and motivated and determined.  Not scared, like me.  Not timid and bashful and silent like me.  I want them to use their voices; I want them to use their minds and vision.  I expect them to grow up to work for their life — not to make their life, but so they might have one worth living.  To see the world.. to experience and learn, always.  To have a “can do” attitude.  So that one day, they won’t be like their momma.. terrified to walk into a freshman course on their own.  Terrified to speak to a cashier.  Scared to death to move.

That’s how I was until I held my boys.  Scared of the world.  Scared to live.  Until I held their little bodies in my arms.  And all that fear hit me and then began to fade away.  When the boys took their first breath, they gave me a life I never knew.  Each gave me a key to my whole new life.  And so every morning I wake up.  I roll out of bed and begin the monotony that is adult life.  Not out of obligation.  But out of desire.  So they can hold their dreams… not just wish for them.  And I’ll be the first to tell you, 5 A.M. sucks.  It blows.  And so does rush hour.  And people who melt chocolate into their copiers (yep. that happened).  And temper tantrums.  And blow-out diapers.  And eating dinner at 8 o’clock.  And the list goes on, and on, and on.  But my life would suck all the more if I did not have my crazies.  If I didn’t have someone to come home to every night.  If I didn’t have someone who needed me so hard.  I waited a long time for someone to need me… not knowing that was what needed.

So, all you tired and exasperated mommas out there thinking you cannot possibly handle one more tantrum in Target or one more blow-out at the self check out?  Or, “Why on earth are the fish sticks sticking to the non-stick pan and could you please, please, please stop whining?!”  I’m with you.  A hundred and ten percent.  But you’re doing fine.  And, hey — therapy might not even be a thing in eighteen years.  So just hang in there.  Do your best.  Say you’re sorry when you should and hold firm when they need it.  And when the clock strikes bedtime, pour yourself a drink and know that I’m downing one, too.  Only one, though… because my kids have all the grace of a peg-legged goat on ice.  But that’s alright…. because they’re worth it.  Every last bit.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Whistle While You Work

Whistle While You Work

So on the last post I was talking about monthly menus.  I actually just made up our May menu.  Have a look-see:

We’ll stick to that unless something unexpected happens.  This month, we have Mother’s Day, mine & Evan’s birthdays, and in a few Tuesdays I’m taking the kiddos to see my parents.  Those nights (and days!) we’ll wing it.  Other than that, this is what we’ve got.  You probably noticed that Thursdays are kind of lazy days.  You’d be right.  Gabe has speech and occupational therapy on Thursdays and I’ve started walking with a friend.  So on those days, quick and easy trumps most anything else.  The kids love breakfast for dinner, so Wednesday is our designated day for “dinfasts” (I’m working on a better name, I swear).  Some of the meals you see are family favorites and I’ll be sure to put the links at the bottom of the post if you’re so inclined to take a gander.

Anyway.  A few Fridays back I searched for a chore chart that I really liked for our little family.  For now, anyway.  We’re relatively fluid people, so this may change.  But for now this, from the Vintage Mother‘s blog, works great.  Gabe’s been doing this ever since and has been doing a fantastic job with it — hopefully it won’t backfire.  He’s five, after all — almost six! — and it’s time for him to hunker down and help out around the house.  He’s always been helpful, but because of time and other factors I’ve never taken the time to set up a chore schedule.  Now when he gets home, he knows he has homework, then playtime while I start dinner, chores, and dinner.  He can have 30 minutes of TV while I’m giving Connor his bath, and then it’s bath time for the Gabester, story-time, and finally (finally, finally) bed.  His chores are not super extensive or time-consuming, but what little he does saves me between 35 minutes to an hour depending on the kind of day we’ve all had.

Apologies for the shoddy picture.  It’ll do for the time being, I suppose:

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On Saturdays he has what I call “Wildcard Saturday”.  In addition to the chores he already has (excluding bathroom trash), he has to pick three more easy to moderate chores from our chore jar.  The chores can be anything ranging to helping me put up clothes, pulling weeds outside, wiping down counters, helping clean the yard, etc.  If he completes all of his chores at the end of each day, he gets a token for being a good helper.  Those tokens can be used for one-less a chore (to be used only on Saturdays), earn something special from the prize box, or pick a meal for the monthly menu.  At the end of the week, he gets a few quarters if he’s done all of his chores well without complaint.  And at the end of every month, he gets a special pizza night (hooray for a no cook night!).  Since it’s a new system, I’m sure I’ll do some tweaking at some point.  But for now it’s working and it’s been nice not to have to run around the house making sure everything is done by midnight every evening.

...Gabe DID ask for a pet the other day...
…Gabe DID ask for a pet the other day…

Connor is not excluded from this new system, although he’s still too little to have his own chart.  He helps me sweep (holding dustpan.. I always have to redo it, but it’s cool); he helps me put clothes in the dryer; and he picks up his own messes.  He even cleans off his own high chair tray after dinner (again, I have to redo it.  but whatever).  Maybe my house won’t look like such a man-cave sooner than I’d hoped!

Look below for recipes from our monthly menu!  Hope you find something you like.  Bon Appetit!
1) Honey BBQ meatloaf, Six Sisters Blog
2) Honey Baked Chicken + Potatoes, Cravings of a Lunatic
3) Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken, Favorite Family Recipes
4) Sausage Pasta Skillet, Dinners & Desserts
5) Chicken Milanese, Kraft Recipes
6) Cheesy Garlic + Brown Sugar Pork Chops, SkinnyMom
7) Chicken Broccoli Pockets, Chef in Training
8) Bacon Cheeseburger Quiche, Cupcakes & Kale Chips
9) French Dips, Yellow Bliss Road, + Homemade Fries, I Heart Naptime
10) Easy Jack Chicken w|Bacon, Oh Sweet Basil
11) Ham & Cheese Pinwheels, Chef This Up
12) Mexican Casserole, Noshing with the Nolands
13) Mississippi Roast + Gravy over Rice, Table for Two  (also great without the rice and on a hoagie)
14) Pork Carnitas, Aldi US
15) Ranch + Cheddar Chicken, Buns in My Oven, + Rolls, Instructables
16) Pepperoni Pizza Pasta, Kevin + Amanda (can be made vegetarian or with any other meat, I’m sure)
17) Rodeo Burgers, Julie’s Eats + Treats
18) Ranch Pork Chops, Hidden Valley

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