Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa Baby: Please Bring Me Joy, Peace, Love, Sanity and Wine

There's a scene in the classic 1980's movie "Road House" where Patrick Swayze says.. "Be nice until it's time to not be nice."  This pretty much sums up where we are with our 3 year old, Benjamin right now.  I'm nice.  I'm the mommy and my role is to be nurturing and loving and make sure both my children grow up to be respectful of others, appreciative of what they have - most especially the non-material things - and of course in the meantime I have to discipline when necessary.  I admit, I'm a big softie when it comes to my children.  I of course say "no" when needed, but when it comes to "time outs" and taking away toys or privileges as a consequence - I often find myself feeling guilty and thinking "but they're just babies..."  It's tough when they're preschoolers...trying to make sure they understand the rules and what's acceptable and not, without being too soft or too tough on them. 

So I'm nice.  However, Benjamin has decided that he no longer wants to bathe, so it's time to not be nice.  I mean, there are just certain social norms that just aren't up for debate.  Bathing is one of them.  What it really comes down to is a battle of wills with him.  He's at this stage where he will challenge us on things for no apparent reason other than to see which of us will crack first.  So on Sunday morning when he refused to get in the bath, I issued an ultimatum - he would not be allowed to play any games on my iphone, or play games on the computer or Wii - until he took a bath.  I won, as I stuck with it all day and by Sunday night, he was in total media withdrawal and he finally gave in.

It occurred to me at one point how ironic and absurd it is that 3 year olds these days are so savvy with electronics and media.  I mean - Ben's punishment was no iPhone, Wii or computer.  He's 3.  What's next?   He'll be live Tweeting on New Years Eve in Times Square?  Developing websites on a consulting basis for a little extra side cash?  It also makes me wonder what people my age (29) were doing for fun back when we were 3?  After perusing some old pics of my childhood, I concluded that I was trying on my mother's Dr Scholl clogs and her 70's dresses with a sunhat, waiting for my big break as a movie star.  My "media"was listening to a narration of "Cry Baby Duck" on my portable little 45 record player.  I also had a mouse named "Missy Mouse" that I'd tote around the house.  I'd feed her and bathe her and wrap her up in a blanket to snuggle her.  Obviously this was before they realized that mice are actually carriers of many transmittable diseases and probably aren't best suited as the pet of choice for a 3 yr old.   But hey, it was the 70's - back when everyone was drinking Lowenbrau beer and actually encouraged to smoke cigarettes while pumping gas.  The good old days. 

Well that was a nice walk down memory lane, but back here in reality, Christmas is upon us.  I love Christmas, but I always find myself really torn.  I'm so frustrated by the sheer commercialism of it all, and each year vow not to get too crazy over the gift-giving aspect of it.  Of course it's nice to exchange small memento's of appreciation with friends and family.  And I'm very grateful for what I receive.  But everything always seems to get a little out of control, culminating in a Christmas Eve extravaganza where the kids tear open presents in the living room with reckless abandon, barely glancing at the gift before tossing it aside to open the next one. Don't get me wrong...it's wonderful and they SHOULD get to experience that and all the wonder and excitement of waiting for Santa to come and finding the presents they've been wanting all year wrapped up under the tree.  But I want them to understand how lucky and blessed we are and realize that as fun as gifts are, it's not what the Christmas season is about.  That giving and helping others all year and especially at Christmas time is just as important.  They are too young to understand this, but there are people right here in the city where we live that don't have a roof over their heads and warm clothes on their backs.  They don't have enough to eat, never mind gifts from Santa under the tree.  That just kills me.  Thank God for organizations like MACC Charities (Manchester Area Conference of Churches) for all they do.  Every little bit counts - monetary donations as well as non perishable food items, blankets, toiletries, etc.  We all have something to give this holiday season- no matter how big or small.  If each person reading this clicked on the link and donated just $5 - can you imagine what a difference that would make?  Or if we each committed to donating some non perishable items from our own cabinets, or an extra blanket?  Surely we all have something to give to our local food pantry or shelter. 

I wish you all a Merry Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and blessed New Year!  Thank you for reading my blog and allowing me to share with you all the craziness, fun, silliness, the ups & downs and adventures of parenting and just life in general :)  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Socks Appeal

6 weeks ago we had a new gas dryer delivered.  We hooked it up to the existing gas line where the previous gas dryer was and made the silly mistake of thinking we were good to go ahead and start using it.  Au contraire, mon frere (literal translation: Hell no).  According to everyone else in the free world who's ever hooked up thier own gas dryer (my father) - it was a piece of cake and just about impossible to screw up. 

Heavy Machinery and highly flammable, combustible material - what could go wrong?  So we lit our cigarettes and got started.   Just kidding.  My father didn't seem to be amused, either when we texted him a picture of Brian kneeling down next to the gas pipeline with a wrench in one hand and a lit cigar hanging out of his mouth. The best part is that my dad takes everything very seriously, so no matter how outlandish the joke, he automatically gets wound up thinking he has to save me from myself.  Needless to say, I got a phone call with a lecture about the dangers of natural gas and the hazards of smoking.  I told my father not to worry, as we had cracked a window and only smoked filtered cigarettes, which are proven to be much safer than unfiltered.   

In any event, we got the dryer hooked up no problem.  It was the potent smell of gas after that was the issue.  Unsure of what had gone wrong, we immediately turned the gas line off, but of course we had to get to the root of the problem and figure out if and where the leak was.  So we decided it was worth paying someone - an actual professional - to come out and hook the dryer up properly.  Of course it was Saturday.  So I get online to research and it appeared that having our local gas company come out was our only option.  The good news was that they offered services 7 days per week, the bad news was that their weekend rates are as follows: 

$114.00 - Minimum for first quarter hour (15 minutes)
$42.00 - Each additional quarter hour

That's $114 more than we were looking to spend for for 15 minutes, but we were still smelling gas (even after we shut the line off), so we pretty much had no choice but to call them.  Here's the thing about the gas company.....when you call them and mention that you tried to hook up a gas appliance on your own and you believe you now have a gas leak, they take it pretty seriously.   Especially when they find out you're smoking.  They actually come out for free when there's a suspected gas leak involved to secure any immediate dangers.  Oh good!  They were quick,too.  Almost like they have a unit on hand just waiting for people like us to try and "do it oursleves" so they can dispatch the dummy-mobile to save us from ourselves.  As it turned out, we had a bad gas hose - so it wasn't actually our fault  They made sure the gas line was shut off, told us to get a new hose (or we could have them attach the hose for a mere $500) and then they'd come back to inspect it to make sure it was ok to turn the gas back on.  Ok - so the hose at Home Depot cost like $30 and it was simple to hook up.  That was the easy part.  Now we just had to call the gas company and schedule a time for them to pop by and turn the line back on.  

Here's the other thing about the gas company.  When you call the main number and press #1 for "I may have a gas leak and I'm not sure if I should put my cigarette out", someone answers immediately.  But when you press #2 for "I haven't paid my gas bill because I spent all my money on tobacco products and cheap floozies"  or #3 for "I need to have one of your field workers come to my house and inspect our stupid mistake"...they make you wait.  Estimated wait time was 21 minutes, and we waited on hold for 35.  When we finally got someone on the phone and explained what we needed, she put us on hold for another 20 minutes while she finished her lunch.  She gave us a date like 10 days out and that was that.  

Here's another thing about the gas company - they don't know how to use a calendar, so the nice gas man showed up at our house the next day - a Saturday - of Thanksgiving weekend, no less.  We weren't expecting him. Brian was out getting a hair cut, actually.  So I answer the door in my pj's.  The dog was jumping all over this guy - house was a total mess. But what was I going to do?  I needed the gas line turned back on ASAP, as I was sick of spending my afternoons drying the clothes at the laundry mat with Margie and Bertha watching Judge Alex reruns. There's a whole subculture at the laundry mat, but I'm in no condition to go into that now.  Anyway, I wasn't quite sure what I was talking about, and called Brian several times to no avail - so I'd have to go this alone.  The gas guy was in a hurry and didn't seem like he had much time...so here I am trying to move out the dryer and explain the whole situation and he's seeming like he might just say something like we'll have to call back and reschedule which I just couldn't bare the thought of, so I figure I'll try and be cute and clueless and see if maybe he'll feel bad for me and wait.  But then I glance down at my outfit and realize that I'm in 6 layers of PJ's and "cute" was just not gonna happen.  In fact, I had socks on with flip flops.  I'm not making this up.  SOCKS with FLIP FLOPS, people! 

Yes, this is what I was dealing with.  What is seen cannot be un-seen.  I think ultimately, the guy assumed I was on a weekend pass from the asylum and in the interest of not having me run around town with wet laundry in such a state, he waited it out and finally turned our gas line back on.  So I'm thankful for that.  The moral of this story is never to wear socks with flip flops- even in the privacy of your own home, and of course the other moral is to always buy filtered cigarettes....obviously.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dog Is My CoPilot

As Brian gets ready for another work trip, I prepare myself to hold down the fort here as a solo parent.  It's the same feeling I get when a storm is on it's way. I feel the need to go out and buy as much milk and bread as I can possibly shove in my grocery carriage - even though nobody here drinks milk.  I will then make a trip to BJ's to shop in bulk for such non perishable items as canned peas, tuna, 16 pounds of stewed tomatoes, and a vat of sauerkraut. I will most likely get excited by a useless item I see on a display at the end of an aisle, because I am a "marketing victim" like that.  They build those displays for me.  I'm a total impulse buyer and all I need to see is something bright and sparkly (even if it's just the sign advertising the product) and I'm sold.  BOGO?  Even better.  Because I need a 14 pack of WD-40. I may even stop off at Home Depot on my way home and purchase a snow shovel even though there's no snow coming.  But at least I'll feel like I've done my due diligence in preparing for the onslaught of crazy that will occur while Brian is gone and Brynn (my English Mastiff) and I are left to manage the asylum on our own. 

Once I get home I'll realize I don't actually have ingredients to make a single meal, so I'll proceed to order out for the next 4 days.  Meanwhile, the kids know something's up....their "spidey senses" are tingling.  They've started having morning meetings in Lauren's room to plot their strategy for house domination. They make a pot of coffee and sit around at their project table making plans.  There are blueprints laid out, white boards riddled with ideas, as Ben (3) & Lauren (4) sit with their feet up on a table spitballin' ideas for an uprising.  At one point, they have sandwiches delivered to their meeting room and make a request for premium cigars and aged whiskey. 

These kids are very clever.  Lauren, has in fact turned in a "tween" overnight.  She's 4.  After church last week she asked me "Who is Jesus, Mama?"  I thought it was really nice that she is starting to understand and question these things.  So I said, "He's God's son."  Figured I'd keep it simple.  Lauren thought about it for a minute then said, "Mama, you're talking ragtime!"  What?! Ragtime??

Meanwhile, my little Benjamin Bunny has taken to flirting with the girls in Lauren's preschool class when we drop Lauren off at school in the mornings.  I'm helping Lauren take her coat off and hang it up in her cubby and I hear Ben over at the sensory rice table introducing himself to group of girls.  He's playing it up with his sweet little smile, and rockin' his curly little locks.  I'm pretty sure I heard him exchanging a recipe for Chicken Cordon Blue last Monday.  He reminds me of Ferris Bueller sometimes...

In other news, Thanksgiving is upon us.  Everybody will be coming to our house for turkey and to celebrate Lauren Allison's 5th birthday!  Her birthday is 2 days before Thanksgiving this year.  Some years it actually falls ON Turkey Day.  In fact when she was born, it was the day before Thanksgiving and we spent Turkey Day in the hospital and our family came to us with turkey :)   It was so nice...and it feels like that was a minute ago...but it was 5 whole years ago. So with her birthday coming up, Ben seems to think it's his birthday, too....but his is in February.  He's at that stage where he wants to do everything Lauren is doing.  So of course as we were discussing Lauren's bday cake (she wants Hello Kitty) - Ben is planning out what kind of cake he wants.  Hopefully he doesn't want a Barack Obama cake like he did last year.  He also has a list of gifts he'd like, too.  I wouldn't be surprised if he was registered at Toy's R Us or William Sonoma.

Ok, well I'm heading over to BJ's - just saw there's a sale on a 36 pack on yellow rain ponchos....and really - you never know what this week will bring.  Luckily I'll have Brynn as my right hand girl to help me keep the house under control...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let's Get An Ice Cream!

My daughter Lauren (4) loves going to the doctor.  She always has.  She's the only kid I've ever seen that actually gets excited when she hears a trip to the dr is on the agenda.  This goes for both regular check-ups as well as visits when she's sick.  Strep throat culture?  Bring it on!  Check the ears for infection?  Pee in a cup?  Check and check.  I've actually seen her...sick as sick could be after vomiting all night...get excited about the prospect of heading to the Dr for a hydration check.   She enjoys being the patient and all the doting and attention that comes along with it.  There's a certain drama to it all...in fact I've seen her - on route to the dr's office - sitting in the back in her carseat with the back of her hand dramatically thrown over her forehead and she gazes out the window - Scarlett O'Hara style.  In fact, this year for Halloween she's even chosen to be a nurse....

  Clearly, her dramatic flair comes from Brian.  Anyone who knows Brian can attest to the fact that he's quite the drama king.  He wears his heart on his sleeve and has been known on many occasions to break into song - both singing and dancing - while in the middle of the grocery store.  He also enjoys tap dancing, playing dress up, watching old Judy Garland movies, and talking about feelings over chamomile tea.   I'm kidding, of course...well, except for the dress up thing.  (Brian, if you're reading this...do you know where my grey pencil skirt went??)

Anyway, Ben (3) on the other hand, hates going to the doctor.  So much so that I actually have to lie to get him to the dr. I have to tell him where going to buy sneakers or something.  I feel awful doing it, and I'm sure he's scarred for life because of it...but after the incident the other day, I've learned it's the only way...what incident?? you ask?  Here you have it...and welcome to crazytown...

 Last week both kids were coughing, sneezing, runny noses...and both were running a temp of around 100 degrees.  This obviously warranted a trip to the dr, who totally rocks and was nice enough to fit us in that same afternoon.  So I secretly told Lauren, and it went without saying we wouldn't mention it to Ben.  Of course just as we were about to leave the house, I totally slipped up and said something about going to the Dr's.  Course, once Ben caught wind of that, all hell broke loose.  He immediately took off his coat and sat in the middle of the living room floor and refused to go.  I tried telling him the dr. would only examine Lauren, but he wasn't buying it.  So I decided to take a hard line and told him he was going whether he liked it or not. That he was sick and the dr needed to check him to see if he needs medicine. He blatantly refused. We now had 10 minutes to get to the Dr - who luckily is right down the street from us - so I figured I had a little time to bribe him into going. Wasn't happening.  He laid in the middle of the floor and went limp like a protester about to be arrested.  I literally had to drag him out of the house kicking and screaming.  This was no easy task.  By the time I dragged him to the car and managed to shove him in the backseat, I was out of breath and just exacerbated.  We now had 2 minutes to get to the Dr's office.  Lauren was of course in her carseat buckled and waiting eagerly, watching the Ben fiasco unfold.   Once I had him in the car, he went limp on the floor and refused to get into his carseat.  At this point, he was in full meltdown mode and I physically couldn't force him into the carseat.  So I got in the car, started it and told him that if he wasn't in his carseat and buckled in (he can do it himself) by the time I start to drive, that the police were going to come and arrest him for not obeying the law.  Being sick and already upset, this threat just threw him into a tailspin, and he basically turned into a rabid animal backed into a corner. Lauren - who still doesn't quite get the fact these are just empty threats - started freaking out, crying, telling him "Hurry up Ben!!! So the police don't put you in jail!"  Which made him protest more, and Lauren get more upset.  2 hysterical kids, both sick, one on the floor - and we were late for the Dr.  All I could think was the Dr wouldn't take us when we got there because we missed the window of time and wouldn't be available.  Beyond frustrated and totally affected by the 2 kids screaming and crying, I can only imagine what my blood pressure was at that moment.  I made one last ditch attempt at screaming at Ben to get in his carseat...to no avail.  And then I finally did what any mom on the brink of crazy would do - I called my mother.  My mother should be recommended for sainthood, as she will answer her cell phone anytime I call in the event it's some type of emergency.  She'll even answer it when she's in a meeting with a room full of hospital executives.  So my poor mother answers her phone to hear Ben flipping out, Lauren crying hysterically, me screaming "I think I see the police coming!" to Ben in hopes of scaring him straight.  "OH MY GOD!!!  WHAT'S WRONG MELISSA???!!!!"  I can vaguely hear my mom saying over all the craziness.  I gave her the 5 second version of the goings on and once she realized we were ok - crazy as all hell, but ok - she told me to be careful driving and to text her when we get to the Dr so she knew we made it ok.  We hung up, and I hugged my steering wheel and started crying, totally defeated. What else could I do?  While I was there, I thought maybe a quick prayer would help this situation, so I silently asked God - "Please don't let me lose my shit".   In those exact words.  "Don't let me lose my shit".  Used to be I prayed for a good day, health, to hit the lottery, etc.  Now this is what it's come to. Sanity.  I pray for sanity and an abundance of wine.  Needless to say, Ben finally - albeit reluctantly - got into his carseat, and the Dr took us even though we were 20 min late.  $46 in co-pays later, and with only a shred of sanity left, turns out both kids were ok - just a cold and no antibiotics needed.  Oh, and from now on the code for "Dr's Visit" is now "Let's get an ice cream".  I can only imagine what Ben will be telling his therapist 20 yrs from now..   :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Break Out The Winter Coat and Orange Flip Flops - It's October in New England!

It's October - YAY!  My absolute favorite month of the year.  We live in Connecticut so the leaves are changing colors and it's so beautiful.  The thing with October in New England, though, is that it really depends on what kind of a mood Mother Nature is in on a day to day basis. You may need a winter coat one day and shorts and a t-shirt the next.  Even a few hours can make a huge difference...I've actually put the heat on in the car driving Lauren to preschool in the morning....then had to put the AC on for the ride home when I pick her up 3 hours later. 
Lauren having fun trying to catch falling leaves

Last week was a beautiful summer like week in October so I decided it would be nice to take the kids apple picking.  So we put on our shorts and flip flops and hit the apple orchards.  Upon our arrival, we were handed a bag and sheet of paper with a list of the like 67 different types of apples that were available for picking.  There was a chart with the names of the apples along with several categories of which apples were good for different purposes.  So Gala apples are great for pies AND sauces, where Red Delicious aren't good for either, only eating.  Idared are great for pies, but don't try and put those buggers in a sauce.  My head was spinning.  Macoun MAY be ok in a pie, but not a sauce.  Oh Jesus, it was just too much info to process. There was too much responsibility involved. Who knew?  Whatever you do, don't mix the Empire and Jonagold together or else you might summon a demon.  Do not taunt the Granny Smith apples.
So off we go trying to navigate our way around this huge orchard, following the signs to the various types of apples. It was a free for all, with kids picking any apple they could spot and tossing it in the bag. At one point I realized we didn't have any apples good for making applesauce.  Oh no, I wasn't getting backed into a corner like that! I will make sauce if I damn well please.  When did this fun fall activity become so complicated?  I don't remember any of this going on when I was a kid.  We showed up at the orchard and picked whatever the hell we wanted.  Sometimes it wasn't even an apple....sometimes it was a winning horse for the races at Suffolk Downs.  Oh wait, that wasn't apple picking.  No, those were the good old days when kids were allowed at race tracks to see the ponies.   I'm from Boston.  In Boston back in the early 80's it was common place for families to throw the kids in the back of the Chevy Nova - sans seatbelts - and head down to the racetrack for a fun family night out.  What?

Anyway, by the end of the harrowing apple picking experience, we were hot and tired.  So obviously this would be a great time for the corn maze!   The corn maze is one of those things that sounds like a fun idea.  Until you get lost in the middle and need your phone GPS to get out. We got exactly half way through the maze when Lauren announced she needed to use the potty and Ben decided he didn't want to walk anymore and wanted me to carry him. So I put them in the little wagon supposed to be used to haul pumpkins around, and made for an exit...or what I thought was an exit but was actually another dead end.  They both weigh just about 40 pounds, so I have 80 lbs of babies in a little wagon, hauling them around and lost in a corn maze.  And it was hot. I felt kind of like a pack mule.  So I asked Siri for help.  She kept telling me to start out by going west and take a left onto Route 83.  Screw you, Siri.  Words were had and needless to say, Siri and I are taking a little break from each other.  We eventually found our way out a half our later, the kids declaring me a "hero"...and sung the theme song to "Higglytown Heros" all the way home. 

Hayride in New England

So far October has been a productive month.  Along with the fun fall activities and overdoing it with the Halloween decorating, I decided to finally take down the 80's pink flower wallpaper that's been plaguing my kitchen.  For 3 years, since we bought this house, we've talked about all of the different things we'd do with the kitchen.  And finally, one morning last week as I was sitting at the kitchen table drinking my coffee, staring at the hideous wallpaper, I reached over and picked at a little tear at one of the seams.  It peeled back pretty easily, so I kept pulling at it.  Flash scene to 3 hours later - the kitchen furniture and appliances moved to the center of the room, and me peeling off the last bit of wallpaper behind the fridge.  The room was  littered with old wallpaper remains... and it was finally done.  Just like that! I texted a picture to Brian at work.  He knows me.  How I'll just decide to do something and go for it kind of spur of the moment.  Like the time I hired Julio, a young, latin, live-in handyman who closely resembled Mark Consuelos to do house repairs in a uniform consisting of tight black pants an no shirt.  Now all that's left before we paint is to get that pesky wallpaper glue off that's still stuck on the walls. What a pain.  Wallpaper should seriously be illegal.  People who try to obtain and use wallpaper should be put on a "watch list" of sorts.  At the very least, there should be support groups available to those who have been impacted by the effects wallpaper has had on users and their loved ones. 

And now if you'll excuse me....my Mcintosh and Honeycrisp apples have intermingled and have become radioactive.  Happy Baking :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dear Kids, SHHHHHH!!!! Love, Mommy

 Last Saturday I had hit my wall.  Hit my parental wall.  Brian had been away on a trip for work that week, so I'd been with the kids 24/7 for several days.  I was tired, achy, and needed a minute - JUST ONE - where someone (aka the "little people" - no, not the midgets) would just stop talking at me, asking questions, fighting, needing something.  I felt like a mom servant.  (As an educational FYI - the word "Mom" in Swahili directly translates to "Hurry up and bring me my legos, bitch")  Every moment of every day revolves around the kids.  Oh, don't get me wrong - I love those babies more than anything in this world.  I love being a mom, and I would literally do anything for those 2.  I miss them when I'm not with them for even an hour, and can't imagine my life without them.  HOWEVER - at some point, we all just need a break.  A BIG HUGE break.  One can only serve to a certain point with a big smile and tons of patience before we reach a point of general insanity.  

The day had started at 7am with the kids jumping in bed with me, serving me a dish of play-doh meatballs.  I had to pretend to eat them with joyful vigor, when all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep for 3 days.  The general jabbering, talking, singing, questions and requests started in as soon as my feet hit the floor.  As I brushed my teeth, they sat on the edge of the tub watching me...wanting to know why my toothpaste was a different color than theirs. I shrugged, as I couldn't speak while brushing my teeth (an awful mother I am - taking time to myself like that!)  Ben wasn't satisfied with the shrug, and proceeded to ask me to same question approximately 46 more times until I was done and could finally answer him...."Because it is, honey.  That's why."   Lauren then made a request for a new toothbrush - a pink Dora toothbrush with BOTH Dora AND Boots on it.  Yes, noted.  Let me stop the presses and run out and grab that for you at a 24 hour Walgreens, sweetheart. 

Once downstairs, as I made their breakfasts, they wanted to know what our plan was for the day.  The dog barked at me reminding me that her food bowl wasn't going to fill itself.  Lauren suggested we head to the library, while Ben decided he'd rather go to the park.  Then they started fighting over which one we were going to do.  Um....hello?? Kids?  Mommy's on the verge of insanity, and as far as I know, insane people aren't allowed at the park or library! 

By 10am, I was just done.  Every 1.3 nanoseconds it was..."Mama, I need more tiny cookies..  Mommy...Lauren colored on my art project....Where's my glitter dress Barbie?  This play-doh is yukky, mama....I have a boo boo on my toe, I need a band-aid.  I need a snack.  I wanna play outside...Can we Skype Grandma?  I miss auntie Sarah...Can we go on a plane, mama?  Can we watch Nemo? Mama, put on Nemo!  I'm thirsty.  Can you get me a new straw?  Ben pushed me.  Can we make cookies today?  Brynn just ate my goldfish, Mommy!"  Is it bad that I didn't bother asking if it was the goldfish crackers or the actual fish in Lauren's room?

Every time my butt hit a comfy chair,  there was another request, problem, question.  I told them mommy's throat hurt so I couldn't talk for a little while.  Which only sparked another round of questions and efforts to "take care of mommy" by feeling my head for a fever and singing me songs to help me get better.  I then took to Facebook to post a status about my day...I always enjoy the "likes" and  comments.  A general sense of camaraderie that makes me feel like we've all been there.  I posted something like "Mommy needs a break"...when what I really wanted to say is.."Mommy needs a stiff drink, a bottle of Xanax, and a padded cell.."   But you never know how these things will be received. 

Brian arrived home at lunchtime to find us playing in the backyard.  Me teary eyed behind my sunglasses.. feeling sorry for myself.  I'd become quite philosophical by that point.  Remembering the carefree days before kids - being able to sit in total quiet and actually hear myself think.  Reading a book.  A whole entire book - in less than a month and more than 2 sentences at a time.  Going to the gym regularly. When I could get up and do errands and not have to run the day's plans by 2 opinionated preschoolers.  When I had time for myself and could sleep soundly without always half listening for the kids in case they need me.  Occasionally spend money on a total splurge and not have to worry about saving that money in case the kids need something.  Always thinking for 3 people instead of just 1.  Brian took one look at me and knew I needed some time out of the house.  I went to Panera and ate a turkey artichoke panini and read US Magazine.  I felt better after drawing devil horns on pics of the Kardashian family.  I then went and sat at Barnes & Noble.  That's one of my favorite things to do with any free time.  I love the smell of coffee and books, and the QUIET.  I find a book and sit in a comfy chair and read.  Yes, it was exactly what I needed.  I came home sane.  Well, more sane that I had been.  Batteries had been recharged so to speak, and when the kids asked me if I wanted some play-doh meatballs, I smiled and said yes...instead of totally losing my shit :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Baked Goods, Underwear & Faith

Nothing says "I have control of this mom gig" like having your underwear exposed to the patrons of your local bakery by your deviant 3 year old son.  I had a sundress on, and my little Benjamin with me.  I had just picked up a few things and we were standing in line...so I had my hands full.  I was vulnerable, and Ben, able to sniff out vulnerability like a wild, rabid wolf under a full moon... just went for it.  He had been holding on to the bottom of my dress...looking sweet and innocent...flashing (no pun intended) smiles at the other customers in line.  When suddenly he just pulled my dress up.  In the following 4 seconds, my thought process went something like this...Oh My God! How many people can see my underwear?  Do I have underwear on? Yes, thank you GOD!  What do I do now? Maybe people won't notice.  No, everyone is looking.  God, please make Ben let go of my dress and I'll totally give all my baked goods to a stranger in need on the way home.  Why don't these bargains with God ever work?  My undies are still in plain sight.  This is karmic payback for that time I absentmindedly told the kids they could get a ferret and then\ didn't follow through. Maybe I should just get them a ferret?  No, Brian will kill me, plus their cages stink.  Just one more living being in the house for me to care for.  They are cute, though.  Don't even know where to get a ferret.  Maybe a hamster?  Cute but stinky.  A fish.   Yes, totally a fish. Less maintenance and easily replaced for when his little tank gets tipped over.  Why is Ben laughing an evil laugh? Must never come to this bakery again.

I then made the decision drop several baked goods and promptly pull my dress down.  Instead of making a big deal by yelling at Ben, I smiled a closed lipped, submissive smile to the other customers and gave them the "mom eye roll."  As if to say..."Oh these kids!  Crazy little rascals....what WILL they think of next?"!! As we waited in line, I thought about ways I could get back at Ben when he's a teenager.  Maybe this is why parents do all sorts of embarrassing things to their kids when they get older. I pictured myself standing on the sidelines of his high school soccer championship game with a house coat on and my hair in big rollers, screaming "Go Bunny!" (his infant nickname).  Then yelling at the coach who made a bad call against my Bunny.  Calling the parents of kids on the other team when I don't like their attitude.  Ben riding in the backseat of my 1960 wood paneled station wagon while we pull out of the parking lot of the big game while I listen to Wayne Newton on full volume with the windows down.  As they say....revenge is a dish best served cold...and in a house coat. 

Meanwhile, on a more wholesome note...Brian & I took the kids to church last Sunday for the first time in a long time.  In addition to me wanting to get back to church, I really want to give my children a basis of having a faith as my parents did for me.  For obvious reasons, we've been reluctant to bring a 3 & 4 year old to church for a 1 hour mass.  But they did fantastic!  They sat quietly and seemed to really enjoy the music.  I couldn't have asked for anything more.  Of course, on the way home there were lots of questions...like "Mommy, how old is God?  Is God in Kindergarten?  What's God's last name?"   Hmmmm.  How do I answer these questions?  I briefly contemplated something like "Sweetie, would you like to get some ice cream?"  But instead I opted for a more honest approach...and explained that these would be great questions to ask Grandma & Grandpa when they go up for their next sleepover! :)   It did get me thinking about how as the kids get older, the more hard questions about life they're going to ask, and I need to be prepared to answer the questions we all wonder about...like -  What's it all about?  Is there a Heaven?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  How is it that Ryan Seacrest keeps showing up on my tv and radio, and is he really a permanent fixture on New Years Rockin' Eve? 
Yes, must be prepared for these toughies.  This Ryan Seacrest Entertainment Empire is only getting bigger and is sure to test the faith of many. 
In the meantime, I've learned a big lesson this week...which is not to wear a sundress to church if I'm bringing Ben. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

End Of Summer Wrap Up

It's been a full couple of weeks...we're getting ready to send Lauren off to Preschool, we've made numerous trips to our favorite beach to squeeze in every last bit of summer fun we possibly can, I celebrated my 29th birthday again, we have 2 more creepy ass library rental puppets - who may or may not be possessed - (despite my desperate attempts to kabosh said puppet rentals), and I've started watching Dark Shadows on Netflix - the creepy old prime time soap opera from the 60's.  I LOVE it...it's right up my ally! 

So most exciting of all -  my little girl is starting preschool, which means that back to school clothes shopping is in full swing.  She's like a little preteen already...at 4!  She picks out clothes, then we head into the dressing room where she tries things on - mixes and matches - twirls around to see what kind of lift she gets with the little frills at the bottom of a dress, and then of course...tries on her tiara to make sure everything comes together. She literally has 7 tiaras she wears daily on a color coordinated rotating basis.  We have to bring several tiaras clothes shopping with us so she can get a feel for the outfit.  We were at Target the other day trying on clothes - mind you - we have 15 articles of clothing and could only bring 6 into the dressing room - and of course we have Benjamin (3) with us.  Ben doesn't quite understand this whole clothes shopping thing, and assumes he should be trying things on too...so needless to say it's a big fiasco in the dressing room.  Tiaras are flying, dresses being tried on and yanked off... Lauren twirling around with her little tween attitude, Ben yelling, "Mama are these boy clothes?"  as he tries to get hot pink pants on over his shorts.  Ben then gets bored and starts to climb underneath the dressing room door - the pink pants stuck half on one leg - while Lauren declares "I want them all, Mama!"  Yes, a happy chaos :)  

Meanwhile, the babies are abuzz about Lauren's new adventures into preschool.  Ben is quite excited for her, but I think they're going to really miss each other.  I had dropped Ben off one day at Brian's mom's house while I took Lauren out shopping...and as soon as we pulled out of the driveway, Lauren said she already missed Ben and asked if we could call him on the phone.  It's so precious.  However, they also have little petty ridiculous fights now, too.  For example, Ben just came in to inform me that Lauren "won't stop looking at him."  I go in the kitchen to find Lauren with a little evil smile on her face and ask her what's going on.  She shrugs her shoulders as if to say "I have no idea"...then stares at Ben while he gets worked up into a frenzy.  Now every few minutes I have to yell into the kitchen "Lauren, stop looking at your brother.."    Now I feel really bad about what my sister & I probably put my mother through :)

On the birthday front, I turned 29 on Tuesday.  Yep.  I was 29 last year.  I'll be 29 next year.  Just ask the babies - they'll tell you. It was a wonderful birthday - in fact one of my best "29's" yet!  Lasagna, cake, pedicures and new flip flops.. and after the kids went to bed, Magic Mike with the volume muted.  Life is good :)

Finally, I'm totally obsessed with the old Dark Shadows soap opera from the 60's.  I found it on Netflix and can't get enough of it.  I'm a huge fan of anything scary, creepy, Halloween-ie, vampire, who-dun-it, murder mystery, etc.   Halloween is in fact, my favorite day of the year and I just love the month of October and all the scary movies, fall weather & house decorating that goes along with it.  So I guess it should come as no surprise that when I was little, my very first imaginary friend was Count Dracula.  Yes, he would pick me up in his Dracula mobile and we'd go out to dinner, which was actually a tea party in my room with various stuffed animals and cabbage patch kids. In my little imagination, he was quite nice - just a misunderstood vampire with a really cool cape. A big lug who enjoyed tea parties and listening to my storytime read along records with me.  My imaginary friend was the Prince of Darkness...what all of this says about me, I don't quite know...but I'm sure Freud would have a field day with that one. 

...And on that note, Happy End Of Summer :)   Hope you all had a fun, relaxing summer filled with lots of family, laughter & of course wine!  Happy School days to all those sending their little ones off to school in Sept.  Let the fall festivities begin...and of course don't forget your color coordinated tiara!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

No Balls At The Library

My kids spent a weekend at Grandma & Grandpa's a few weeks ago, and my mom managed to dig up this gem from the 80's from her way back machine (aka the basement storage that also houses several yellow rotary phones).  Without further adieu I give you this pink Garfield plastic lunch box...I'm not sure if it was mine or my sister's - but in any event, it's an antique.

And the best part about it has to be the stickers on the back...the roller skate is my favorite...

So of course the kids thought it was just awesome since they'd never seen anything like it before, and Ben decided to take it along home with him.  They basically like anything that is at someone else's house that is not theirs.  Which explains why he also wanted to take home all my mom's cat's toys.  You know...the little stuffed mice and little plastic balls with bells in the center.  So my mom, being the good sport that she is and giving her grandkiddies anything they want, packed up the cat toys into the Garfield lunchbox and sent 'em on home.  Ben and his pink lunchbox full of cat toys have been inseparable ever since.

Flash scene to a few days later -  We had decided to head to the library to return our lot of books for a new bunch, as well as 2 creepy ass, germ laden puppets that are available for "take out" at the library.  That's right - there is a bin of hand puppets available for the kids to take home for 2 weeks at a time.  Whose bright idea was that?  Course these things have been through the wringer and God knows when the last time they'd been disinfected was.  They have matted fur and loose eyes that look in several directions at once. And now my kids are obsessed with taking out new ones each time we go.  So we were heading into the library, Ben clutching his pink 80's lunchbox in one hand, and a rubber spider-man bouncy ball in the other, and I realized there was no way I could allow Ben to take a super bouncy ball into a library. The lunchbox was harmless, but the ball could do some damage.  As expected, he didn't take the news well when I told him we had to leave the ball in the car.  As the meltdown in the library parking lot ensued, I realized I'd have to resort to absurd measures.  So I gasped and pointed at the library entrance and said "Look at that sign!!"  Both kids stopped dead in their tracks and craned their little necks to see.  "What does it say mama?"  Lauren asked. "It says "NO BALLS IN THE LIBRARY" I told them, a concerned look on my face. It was so absurd that I couldn't even keep a straight face.  I had to hide my head in my hands for a second so I could laugh at myself.  But it worked.  Ben slowly handed me the spider-man ball...a look of awe on his little face.  Both looked from the "sign" to one another.  At the door they wanted to know which sign warned us about NO BALLS IN THE LIBRARY so I pointed to a random sign that said "no smoking". We get into the library, and Ben feels it's his duty to inform each person we come across that there are "NO BALLS IN THE LIBRARY!"  I suppose it was my own fault, but now I had a 3 year old screaming at everyone in the library that balls were not allowed.  Needless to say, we got some strange looks.  Best I could do was usher them into the kids room toward the bin of puppets, in hopes he'd become distracted trying to figure out which creepy puppet he was going to take home this week. Luckily my plan worked, and we found ourselves at the check-out desk with a pig and a duck puppet. As we were waiting in line - a few people in front of us - Ben & Lauren were passing the lunchbox back and forth when it opened up and the cat toys spilled out all over the place.  The little belled balls rolled every which way.  Tiny stuffed mice spilled out onto the floor.  Everyone looked on...obviously confused.  Lauren, Ben & I chased the cat balls trying to round them up before anyone tripped.  Ben screaming "No Balls, Mama!  You take balls in the library, Mama!" 

...and this is what it's come to.  Chasing cat toys that fell out of my son's pink 80's Garfield lunchbox around the library while my kids scream "No Balls at the Library.." Serenity. Now.

Next on the agenda for me will be sneaking in the kids rooms tonite - "Mom Ninja" style - in an attempt to pry the creepy ass, germ laden puppets from their little baby grasps while they sleep, and make those things disappear back to the library before they notice their gone.  That way we can hopefully avoid the automatic puppet exchange next time we go to the library.  In fact, I think it's time to find a new library altogether...after the lunchbox/balls incident, I'm thinking it's time for a change. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Well, I'm Speechless

All kids are born with certain hardwired behaviors that are just inherently present in their little baby brains.  These things aren't learned behaviors...kids just know how to do the following... Destroy a clean room in a matter of seconds , Ask "Are We There Yet" 462 times on a car ride, and my favorite - EMBARRASS THE HELL OUT OUT OF THEIR PARENTS...

So the other day we had pulled in the driveway after a run to get mommy some coffee at Dunkin Donuts and our very nice mailman - "mailman Al" was just coming through to deliver our mail.  Al is a pleasant,unassuming man in his early 60's - who delivers our mail at the exact same time every day.  We see him and wave, make the usual small talk - you know..."It's a scorcher out there today - stay cool!"....that sort of thing.  Anyway, the kids had just hopped out of the car when we saw Al, and both Lauren & Ben went running up to him screaming "Daddy!"  WHAT??  I. WAS. MORTIFIED. !!!!!  First of all - WHY?  And secondly, how the hell do you recover from something like that?  I did a quick scan of the neighbors houses to see if anyone was outside to witness this fiasco, then gave Al the best eye roll and "Oh those silly kids" look I could muster as I shook my head and laughed.  Al, in attempt to save some face and escape the embarrassment, handed me one piece of mail and said, "that's all I got today!"  To which I replied "Well, No Ga-news is Good Ga-news"... Yes, I quoted Gary Gnu from The Great Space Coaster.  I don't know why....I guess I was just all thrown off from the awkwardness of the moment.  But yep - I did it.  I'm pretty sure Al had no idea what I was talking about, as he shot me a strange glance and chuckled nervously, then walked as fast as I'd ever seen him walk - bee lining out of our yard - AKA - The Land of Crazy.  I don't how things deteriorated so quickly that morning, but that's all it takes - a 20 second exchange with the mailman is all it takes to earn the label of "the crazy house".   When we got inside I asked the kids why they would do that and they just laughed.  Evil little taunting laughs. 

Just days later...and still reeling from the Mailman Al fiasco...I had the kids at the movies.  It was one of those oppressively hot and humid days where the AC had been on full blast for days on end and I needed to give our electric bill a break, so I figured I'd take the kids to see a movie where it's nice & cool. We weren't the only ones with the same idea, as the movie theater was jam packed.  At the end of the movie I took both kids into the bathroom for a potty break.  At this age, I need to take them both in to the bathroom every time one of us has to go - at 3 & 4 they're obviously too young to wait outside the bathroom stall for mommy, so any kind of privacy is just off the table.  So there we are in the big family sized bathroom stall - all the other stalls were occupied and there was a line out the door of people waiting to use the facilities.  And it's my turn to "go".  As usual, both kids are staring at me - they like to praise me - as I praise them - for using the potty - occasionally blurting out "Good Job, Mama!  You go on the potty like a big girl!"  I can hear people in line waiting chuckling a little.  Ok.  I mean, nothing too personal - right?  Well then....and I apologize in advance for the TMI...but this story was a must tell....I pull a pad out of my purse..monthly feminine issues and all that fun - and both kids are looking on totally puzzled.  OH GOD.  I try to distract them by giving them my iPhone to play games with - and hopefully not snap a picture of me and mistakenly put it on Facebook - but no, they didn't want anything to do with the phone.  The bewildered looks on their little faces watching the pad secured in place... I mean, what else could I do??? And then Ben looks at Lauren and screams -SCREAMS- "Mama wears a diaper!!"   And Lauren's mouth opened wide as she realized that's what was going on here, and she screams, "Mama, you wear a DIAPER!  Mama, you not potty trained!  Mama you go pee pee in your diaper!"  I'm not kidding you when I tell you there were at least 12 other people in the bathroom and another 10 in line.  22 people.  At least.  I tried to "Shhhh" the kids.  I told them it wasn't a diaper.  "Then what is it Mama?"  I contemplated my explanation options and decided on "It's not for babies to know about".  ????  I just wanted to get out of there at that point.  All I can say is that when we came out of the bathroom stall, all eyes were on us.  And as the kids washed their little hands they were abuzz about their new revelation.  There was nothing I could possibly do but give the other women in that bathroom the little smile that said "I'm going home to start drinking"...

Needless to say, the kids are still talking about it - I hear them talking amongst themselves in the backseat of the car or when they're doing an art project.  Like they're trying to figure out how and why mommy still wears a diaper.  Maybe...if I'm really lucky - next time we see mailman Al, they'll mention it to him.  Yep - wouldn't that just be great ga-news??

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I Didn't Get That Memo....

I've recently been making an effort to get back to the gym.  After all, I've been paying for the membership.  Since I've been back, I've decided to try a new approach.  I mean...I've never really been a fan of running on the treadmill.  It always kind of makes me feel like I'm a little rabbit chasing after a dangling carrot that I'll never catch.  Not to mention watching the little timer clock tick away one second at a time...all the while, hoping you don't lose your balance and go flying off the back of the treadmill, prompting a member of the gym staff to rush to your side while other gym-goers gather around your machine snap pictures with their cell phones....then you have to spend the next half hour filling out an "incident report" in the gym office.   No, I've decided I'm more of a "weight machine" girl. (Please note that the above scenario is strictly hypothetical and to the best of my knowledge has never happened to me).

So last week I was back at the gym, ready to conquer my new weight routine, when I realized that I had no clue how to use the machines that look very much like little torture contraptions.  I mean sure, there are instructions with little illustrations of stick figures that are meant to be helpful, but honestly, I was still in the dark.  You really don't want to be standing at a gym machine squinting to read to itsy bitsy directions while other gym-goers are impatiently waiting their turn.  No, you want to "blend in"...get on the machine, do your "reps" (see....I've got the lingo down")....and get off.   The key here is to look like you know exactly what your doing, as if to say..."ya, I got this..."  otherwise, well we all know what will happen....some creepy, weirdo lurker just WAITING for just such an opportunity will pop out of nowhere to show you how to use the machine. You know the type - he's typically hanging around the weight machines never actually using one.  He's always there ready with a helpful tip.  Don't make eye contact or else he will assume you want to have children with him.

Using the machines at the gym is sort of like ordering beverages at Starbucks for the first time.  At first it's intimidating...like everyone else knows what's going on but you.  People at the gym are hopping on and off the machines without incident.  People are Starbucks are ordering things like Venti Soy Caramel Macchiatos and Grande Skinny Vanilla Lattes...and you feel like there's no learning curve.  Like everyone else got the memo and you didn't.  How do they know how to use the rowing machine and what a Venti Macchiato is??  Have you ever tried going to Starbucks and ordering a medium coffee 2 and 2?  You can almost hear the collective sighs of the barista and other customers.  Their sighs communicating to one another..."we have a code 547 here - newbie at register 2 - no clue.."  After a few eyerolls, they give you your ordinary coffee and you scamper off and head back to Dunkin' Donuts where there's a better feeling of acceptance & community.  Where a small coffee is a small coffee.  Don't get me wrong, I've come to understand & love Starbucks.  In fact I'm currently having a love affair with their new Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher...and it's been fabulous.  A summer to remember....my Trenta Very Berry Hibiscus and I skipping hand in hand through flowery fields.  Yep - it's costing me a small fortune, but that's what second mortgages are for, right?

So ya, new gym routine, here I come.  And I've found the best way to figure out the machines is to pick one you want to use, then watch a few people use it.  It's by far the easiest and best way.  That way I at least know the basics of where my head goes and where my feet go.  What I do is get on a treadmill closest to the weight machine area - so I don't look like a stalker freak just staring at people on the machines - and observe.  Typically, I tend to always get next to "The Overacheiver" on the treadmill next to me.  You know the type  -a quick glance at her display panel will show that she's running 8 miles per hour and she's already on mile 6.  You get on the machine next to her for 30 minutes and when you get off shaky legged and sweating profusely, she's still on her treadmill - on mile 12 - and has barely broken a sweat.  Oh....why can't there just be a gym IN Starbucks???  Me & my Trenta Very Berry could figure it all out together :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Oh TOODLES.....Where's My Wine?

Parenting -although beautiful and lovely - can be very...well, monotonous.  It's the exact same thing every day - day in and day out.  Same routine... same arguments ("Mom, Ben pulled the legs off my Barbies!"), same requests ("Mama, I need goldfish...I'm thirsty, I want to fly in outer space, Can I have a princess dress?  Can me have another strawberry?")  same TV shows (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse - on a sidenote - where the hell is Toodles when I need a refill on my wine??) , same things for breakfast - every single day.  It's kind of like that movie "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray.  By day 73, you want to mix things up a little...see if you can't change the course of the day by getting  a little crazy and changing the order of the morning routine.  Brushing teeth BEFORE letting the dog out or trying something different for breakfast??  Nah, all that accomplished was a mastiff whining at me while I brushed my teeth and 2 unhappy kids who wanted nothing to do with scrambled eggs - which the dog ultimately got in the end anyway. 

And so the monotony continues, until one day something really out of the ordinary happens....I got bit by an earwig last Friday.  Or maybe it's pinched...pinched by and earwig.  In any event, I was sitting outside enjoying some peace and quiet after the kids went to bed...chatting with Brian, when this unpleasant little insect decided to pinch my arm.  Thanks to google images, I've managed to wrassle up a picture of this unsavory creature....

Yes, ask and you shall receive.  Want some excitement?  Here's an earwig bite to really rock your universe.  Apparently, you really have to be more specific when asking life to shake up your routine.  Anyway, besides being really skeeved out, I managed to survive the Earwig episode of '13 with nothing more than little pincher marks on my arm.  So rude!  Who DOES that?!

Sometimes we just have to create our own fun.  For example, Brian fell asleep in a lawn chair last weekend and I decided he bore a striking resemblance to Grumpy Cat - so here's a little side by side comparison. 

Yes, Brian gave me permission to post this :)   He's a good sport.  Plus it's really funny...and the kids have been getting a kick out of calling him Grumpy Daddy. 

The thing with parenting is that you're stuck in this little routine,  and then all of a sudden, the whole thing changes and your stuck in a new and different routine.  Just when you think you've mastered this one stage - things do change.  It's sometimes easy to lose sight of the big picture when you're in the day to day grind, but looking back - things really have changed quite a bit.  My kids (4 and 3) are now so much more independent...they have such active imaginations and play together very well.  It used to be that they were amused to play with toys and books in our playroom...my job was to keep them safe and nurtured. Now they want to be out on adventures everyday.  Each morning they ask where we're going that day.  My biggest challenge is finding new and exciting adventures while balancing housework, grocery shopping, and of course the checkbook.  It's hard to convince them that we're going on yet another adventure to the grocery store.  The other day I was taking them to the library to check out some books and Lauren informed me that we've already been to this library, so let's try and new one.  I also took them to their first movie the other day and they did great.  I thought they'd be scared of how loud it was, but they loved it. Anyway, as I write this I realize that Lauren will be going to preschool in the fall and the routine will completely change again.  Ben will miss her terribly, and I'll probably miss their little arguments over dismantled Barbie limbs.  I've said it before...this parenting thing is such a catch 22.  You want them to grow and learn and mature, then you long for the days they were babies.  And on that note, I'm off to find Toodles..slacker! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Keepin' the Home Fires Burnin'

Brian just returned from a 3 day business trip.  Meanwhile, I manned the homestead...reared the children, kept the home fires burning (I mean that in a metaphorical way...the house wasn't actually on fire - although there was a small grease fire in the kitchen one night).  Anyway, that was 3 straight days and nights alone with the kids.  It went well.  By "well", I mean that I managed to make it through the week without being committed to a psychiatric facility and I'm still technically in "one piece" - however that doesn't account for my soul which has been shattered into mere fragments of what it once was after several days alone with the kids - which from here on out I shall refer to as "Thugs".

No sooner had Brian pulled out of the driveway, and the Thugs (AKA - Lauren, 4 and Benjamin, 3) gave each other knowing looks and evil little smiles.  It was like a roving gang of wild, rabid dogs in the backwoods of the deep south, packing up and preying on the vulnerable loner.  By the end of day 1, the distribution of power had clearly shifted in favor of the Thugs.  There were demands for junk food and movies on the big TV, and a clear bucking of all the rules.   Bedtime had no meaning, the word "routine" was a distant memory.  By morning, the Thugs had recruited other members into their pack. Our English Mastiff, Brynn went to their side.  By lunchtime, I had been roughed up and my lunch money had been stolen.  The 3 of them laughed and ate Goldfish at the picnic table outside, while they barked orders at me and I catered to their every whim.  I lost track of how many peanut butter & jelly sandwiches I made that day.  My hands ached from cutting crusts from their sandwiches.  The juice boxes were flowing, and by the end of day 2 - Ben had scored a pack of unfiltered Camels and rolled them up in his t-shirt sleeve - Fonzie style.  Lauren dyed her hair black, got her eyebrows pierced, and started going by the name "Magnolia" and Brynn had gotten a tattoo of an anchor that said "Ma". 

I was relinquished to sleeping on the floor as they took over my bed.  I couldn't sleep, anyways, as their cell phones rang all night long - Lauren changed her ringtone to "Gansta's Paradise" - the official anthem of the Thugs, and it played over and over as victory was claimed.

Brian returned home to find that war had been waged, and my only allies had been Cheeze-Its and wine.  Luckily he brought peace offering gifts to the Thugs in the form of stuffed animals and t-shirts, and a truce was declared.   

I'm still a bit shaken by the whole experience, however I've learned a valuable lesson - which is obviously that I need my own "anthem" for the next time it's me versus the Thugs. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pickin' My Battles

Today I threw out all of Ben's bottles.  He's 3 (I know, I know...) and it's high time he got off the bottle.  He drinks 2 bottles a day - half milk & half water.  He drinks everything else out of a regular cup, but when it comes to drinking milk, he loves his bottle.  It was hard for him to give them up, and maybe harder for me to enforce it.  I know I've been lax about it, but he's my baby...and well...you know how that goes.  But it had to be done, so this morning while I was cleaning up the kitchen, I just threw them all away.  We've tried several times getting him off the bottle, but after a day of him boycotting milk,  I would always give in and give him one.  When it comes to my kids, I'm a softie.  I didn't want Ben to feel sad or want for anything, and so when he'd flash those sweet eyes at me and say "Please mommy, please???" I'd give in.  I knew the bottles had to be gone and out of the house in order for me to stick to it.  

So here we are, and of course all I can think is that he'll never drink milk ever again without his bottle, and he'll end up calcium deficient and have brittle bones by the time he's 10.  He'll have to go on Os-Cal supplements and all his friends will make fun of him for being the only kid on the soccer team who has a pill box filled with dietary supplements to make up for all the nutrients he's missed out in since his mean mom took away his bottle at age 3.  That's only a slightly better scenario than the alternative which is Ben playing High School Varsity football and running over to the sidelines to take a swig out of his Dr. Brown's bottle filled with milk.

Being a parent is such a catch 22 - no matter what you do, you feel like it's the wrong thing and that you're either too strict or too soft.  I try my best to be moderate when it comes to the kids.  If there's one thing I've learned as a parent - it's to pick my battles.  Some things are just not a big deal, while others are worthy of a battle royale.  For example - these days, I'm just glad that Ben's wearing pants.  I'm not going to make a big deal that he sometimes wears Lauren's yoga pants and a floral shirt, or that he sometimes insist on wearing pajama pants that are 3 sizes to small with a polo shirt - out in public.  As long as he's clothed, well then it's ok with me. 

On the other hand, sometimes I just have to save them from themselves.  For Ben's 3rd birthday, I took him to pick out his birthday cake. He was very excited.  As we flipped through the book of cake designs, he sat on my lap "oohing" and "ahhing" over the Thomas The Train and Jake and the Neverland Pirates cake designs.  The nice woman at the bakery counter stood watching us, smiling sweetly at Ben and anxiously awaiting his big decision.  Finally, when we came to the end of the book, I asked Ben which one he thought he wanted, and he shouted out "Barack Obama!!!" at the top of his lungs.  "Me want a Barack Obama cake!" He announced gleefully.  Oh God.  I should tell you that since the last presidential election, Ben's been quite a fan of Barack Obama.  Hopefully - regardless of your political affiliation- you'll find this story amusing.  But yes, somewhere along the way - he heard the name Barack Obama on TV, and that was it.  He started saying it all the time - as the answer to any question you might ask him.   He even includes President Obama in our nightly prayers.  At the end, when we're thanking God for our family and blessings, Ben shouts out "and thank you for Barack Obama.."  And so here we are - at the Stop & Shop bakery, looking at birthday cakes for toddlers - and my son wants a Barack Obama cake.  When I informed him that we had to pick out a cake from the book and couldn't have a presidential themed birthday cake, things escalated, and Ben threw an all out tantrum.  As fellow customers and the poor bakery woman looked on puzzled, Ben screamed and cried and  screeched "Barack Obama" as he gasped for breath between hysterics.  As I collected Ben under my arm to drag him out of the store, I told the nice woman at the bakery that we'd take the Thomas the Train cake. 

In hindsight I wished I'd had the presence of mind to pull out my phone and take a video of that incident.  Just think about how amusing his future girlfriends would find it ;)

Friday, May 31, 2013

I have a Green Thumb!!! (no wait, that's just paint)

Well, I did it (Cue the Dora song after they cross Chocolate River and make it to Magic Mountain...) 
I've started my container garden in my screened porch and I've managed to A) Keep the plants alive for a WHOLE week now! and B)  Plant itty bitty seeds in pots and they are actually starting to grow!  Did you hear that, people?  They. Are. Growing. Hi, I'm Melissa and I can work magic.  It's almost like I didn't really believe that anything would happen when I planted seeds in the dirt and watered them.  Like it only worked for people who knew what words like "harvest" and "soil" meant. 

YAY!!  I mean...it works!   It really works! 

This is exciting on several levels.  First and foremost - I can now join the ranks of those who run around in big floppy sun hats and floral print gardening gloves who say things like "I need to get some gardening done this weekend" with a pained look of obligation on my face as I stare up into the bright sun and wipe sweat from my furrowed brow.  No one knows exactly what I'll be doing, but I'll tell you what - they won't ask any questions.  Nobody questions someone in a floppy sun hat who runs around making bold statements like that.

Second, I have actually followed through with one of my small goals that I made months ago.  This is kind of a big deal considering most of the time it's difficult to follow through with the simplest of tasks.  Something as simple as say....folding a load of laundry can turn into a full blow fiasco when you have 2 kids who are hell bent on keeping you from doing anything productive by doing things like sprinkling a vat of glitter in each others hair then painting the dog's tail yellow with finger paint. 

In any event...having goals is good....next up for me: convincing Brian it's a good idea to foster dogs for the Doberman Rescue  ;)

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Mom-lympics

If climbing over baby gates was an Olympic sport, I'm pretty sure I'd have a gold medal. I can clear a baby gate...on a step, with a full laundry basket in my arms (which also, incidentally, contains a sleeping cat I felt too bad to wake)...while talking on the phone to my mother.  In the dark.  During an earthquake.  Ok, that last part was for dramatic effect, but you catch my drift.   Needless to say, there are baby gates all over my house - one separating the dog from the playroom so she doesn't eat Lauren's Barbie Collection.  Another at the bottom of the stairs so that the dog and the kids don't chase each other up and down the stairs all day...because you know, the 3 of them have to live dangerously.  Another in the hallway where the dog drinks her water...because after she drinks water, she drools so incredibly badly, that if we don't either wipe her mouth immediately or contain her somewhere....she will soak the floor and we will actually slip on mastiff drool.  I'm not kidding...this is what goes on in my house.  One of the hazards is "Mastiff Drool".  And it's slippery.  That dog drinks some water and shakes her head...you've got "slingers" in places you'd never expect.  Ah, the nuances of having a large dog. I love her to pieces, though.  She's my 3rd baby...drool and all.

Anyway, last night when I was up at my usual 3am feeding the cats, I got to thinking about the amount of hours I've spent in say the last 3 years climbing over baby gates.  Does that count as exercise?  It totally should. The daily Mom stuff in and of itself should be a gym circuit...offered at places like Planet Fitness.  Then I thought how great it would be to have a Mom-A-Thon, or the Mom-lympics.  Sort of like a Triathalon or Iron Man type of event....but for moms...involving all the "mom activites" we partake in on a daily basis.  I'm just spitballin' here....but here's a rough idea of the events that would be included....

EVENT 1:  Physical Portion:  Gate Hurdling....Mom's have to hurdle gates in a number of scenarios...carrying groceries or with a screaming toddler on their hip.  There would also be points awarded for getting over the gate without a foot touching it. Disqualification if you get your foot stuck in the gate and fall into it face first.

EVENT 2:  Cooking Portion:  PB & J Making:   Mom's would have 15 minutes to make as many peanut butter& jelly sandwiches as possible - taking special care that there are equal amounts of both ingredients and of course cutting the crusts off ever so carefully.  Winners would be decided by a group of actual hungry toddlers doing taste testing.  For example, my Benjamin (3) would reject any PB&J that had too much jelly.  It's a delicate balance.  Just a touch too much jelly and that sandwich would get tossed aside. 

EVENT 3:  Multitasking Portion:  Mom's have to plan a family menu for the week then write a grocery list to coincide...while at the same time texting with another mom trying to plan a playdate, while your kids talk at you the entire time.  This is when I kind of go into a robot mode and use a lot of "Mmm Hmmms"  with the kids...trying to engage with them while doing 47 other things.  This is usually when they ask if they can have a ferret, to which I absentmindedly answer "Mmmm Hmmm"...and then we have another issue on our hands.   Flash scene to 2 hours later - driving home from the grocery store with the kids in the back screaming "But you SAID, Mommy!  YOU SAID WE COULD GET A FERRET!!!!"  Extra points awarded to the mom who can make their kids forget about getting a caged animal.

EVENT 4:  Talent Portion:  Mom's sing Karyoke to the Dora The Explorer Theme Song.

EVENT 5:  Sanity Portion:  Grocery Shopping with tired, grumpy kids who are overdue for a nap - Mom's need to get all items on the shopping list in a set amount of time without taking a Xanex before leaving the house.  Extra points awarded to moms who don't have a nervous breakdown at the checkout. 

The prize awarded at the end to one lucky mom would be like a spa pedicure, lunch on the beach, and bunch of those baby gates that have the opening door...where you can step on the bottom and it magically swings open.  But then, what would I do for exercise if not climbing over the gates 342 times a day??

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thai Salad With Sliced Chicken & Peanut Lime Dressing

I found a recipe on Pinterest for Choppped Thai Chicken Salad that looked sooooooo yummy that I just had to try it!  The only problem was that it called for some strange ingredients that I either had no idea what they were, couldn't find, or just wasn't comfortable putting in a salad (fish oil...BLEH!)  So I tweaked the ingredients and changed some things around and came up with a simplified version that's absolutely yumm-o-licious!  Here's what you'll need...

2 Cups shredded ICEBERG Lettuce (perfect texture & crunch for this salad!)
1 Cucumber - Diced or Shaved
1 Large Carrot - Diced or Shaved
1/2 Cup Diced Scallions (aka - green onions)
1/4 Cup Diced Fresh Cilantro
1 large or 2 small boneless skinless chicken breast
Thai Kitchen Sweet Red Chili (pictured below) - found in Thai aisle at any grocery store

1/4 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Peanut Butter
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
1 heaping Tablespoon Sugar
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1) Slather Raw Chicken Breasts with 3 Tablespoons of Thai Kitchen Sweet Red Chili and either grill or bake Chicken until cooked through and set aside. (I basted chicken with additional Sweet Red Chili Sauce as it was cooking - YUM!)
2)  Combine Iceberg Lettuce, Cucumber, Carrot, Scallions & Cilantro in large salad bowl and store in fridge to keep cool while you make the dressing

3) In a separate small bowl combine the Olive Oil, Lime Juice, Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Sugar, Garlic and Water and whisk until thoroughly mixed.  Add in the Peanut Butter and whisk until smooth and creamy.  

4)  Slice Chicken up and serve atop Salad - Drizzle dressing over top and serve immediately. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

My babies & I

 First, I hope all my mommy readers had a wonderful Mother's Day!  I'm kind of thinking it should be "Mother's Week" instead of just one day :)   Can you imagine??   A week of pampering and well behaved kids??  Ahhh, one can dream!   But my Mother's Day was great - relaxing and low key.  When Brian asked me what I wanted to do I instantly thought of sitting in the backyard in the sun sipping wine while watching a hot handyman with the body of Channing Tatum chop wood with no shirt on..the beach.  So that's what we did.  We packed snacks and the kids beach toys and headed to the beach.  It's still "off season" here in CT, so although the beaches are open, there were just a few scattered families there.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  I think I'm more of an "off season" girl.  Like taking a trip to a really touristy place when it's off season and only some of the restaurants are open and there's no traffic and hardly any people.  Something about that is just magical.  I think I need to live in a New England beach town year round so I can enjoy having it all to myself before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.  Anyway, yesterday's weather was perfect at right around 70 degrees...great for dipping our little piggies in the ice cold ocean and then laying on our blanket soaking up a little sun. 

On the drive to the beach, I told Brian that I would be thrilled with 15 minutes of quiet time at the ocean.  15 minutes of laying in the sun while everyone played nicely. Before the...."Mommy, I need a drink""Mama I need to go potty"..."MAMA, Lauren poured sand down my pants..."  started.  So I was pleasantly surprised when we had 2 hours of relaxing family time.  The kids made sandcastles and then Brian took them for a walk around the rocks leaving me with some PRECIOUS alone time where I laid on the beach and listened to the ocean and actually had....wait for it.....UNINTERRUPTED THOUGHTS.  That never happens!  99.9% of my thoughts are interrupted by someone asking for a cookie or asking me to cut out shapes for an art project.  (Most of the time the kids, but sometimes it's Brian ;)  But I think the ocean is therapeutic...I feel so good being there - especially when there's not a beachful of teenagers playing frisbee over my head as often is the case in the summer months. Anyway, I came to some real epiphanies, if you will.  I need to spend more time at the beach....I need to start meditating - this is something I've been interested in for a while, but just haven't made the time to start doing it.  I also really want to start making some healthy recipes and eating more whole foods.  And finally, I need a goal based check list.  Don't ask me what those goals are now...my first goal is to set goals for the check list. ;)   A bucket list of sorts.  But I need one and there's no reason on earth why one of those goals can't involve a cooking lesson with a Ryan Reynolds look alike....just sayin'.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gardens & Trees & Shrubs, Oh My!

Our yard is full of rare trees, shrubs & plants - some of which aren't even meant to be grown in our area of the country.  The previous homeowners were arborists and actually ran a full fledged landscaping business out of the house.  They had a greenhouse on the property and were very passionate about this yard. The time, care & love literally just radiates from the yard.  It's awesome.  Here's the irony of it - I've never had what you'd call a "green thumb".  I have actually managed to kill every house plant I ever had by way of over or under watering, and one actually met it's demise after an incident involving a bissel steam cleaner with a faulty hose attachment...but we won't go there right now.  Anyway, I haven't cared for a house plant (or anything green) for quite some time....which actually works out since there are florists and garden centers in the area who have me on a "Do Not Sell To" list.  I've been "blackballed" my most plant & flower retailers in the Boston area, as well. 

So you can see the irony here.  When Brian & I first looked at the house it was in January - the ground was snow covered, and although we could tell there were lots of a trees and a nice yard - we had NO IDEA what kind of work would be involved.  By the time we closed on the house and moved in, it was summer and we looked around the yard admiringly, and kind of assumed the work was already done and that the yard was "self sufficient".  I'm not kidding - we actually had a conversation about the yard maintaining itself.  That's how clueless we were.  The previous owner had left us a folder of information we may need at some point, and some basic instructions on caring for some of the trees.  There was a paper with the name of a gardening company noting it was the place they used to prune the dogwood.  After an exhaustive search of the yard, I couldn't locate the dogwood.  I googled it, and as it turned out - the dogwood was the big tree right outside the kitchen window.  Right...of course...the dogwood...I knew that. 

So we did nothing that summer...it was all we could do to move in and get settled with 2 kids under 2. We figured we'd deal with the yard the next year.  Flash scene to the following May when the yard had basically taken on a life of it's own and transformed itself into a jungle - you couldn't get through it without a machete.  There were troops practicing military operations in the brush, crawling around in the tall grass with black paint under their eyes.  Shipwrecks that had gone missing from years past were located in a remote corner of the yard, and we actually found 2 members of the former 80's band "A HA" back there.  After they performed a rendition of the hit "Take On Me", they were on their way and we realized it was time we put our focus on the yard.  It was WAYYYYYYY more work than we had ever anticipated.  It's kind of like purchasing a house that, unbeknownst to you, has a fully functioning Dunkin' Donuts in the basement.  When you first move in and discover it... the wafting smell of coffee and muffins, you think COOL.  But then you realize that workers are showing up at 4am to start their shifts and the time clock is in your bedroom, and you're responsible for growing the coffee beans to supply said Dunkin Donuts.  Well suddenly it's way more than you bargained for.  So we called for help and thankfully, John showed up.  Or, as we like to call him - The Google Of Gardeners.  Needless to say he whipped this yard into shape in no time.

And here I am...going on the 3rd summer in this house and I'm really getting to know my yard :)  I can appreciate the needs of my dogwood, and the plants no longer cower when they see me coming.  I'm actually going to try my hand at a garden this year.  It's going to be an indoor vegetable garden on a screened in porch.  I'm cleaning out the area now to make way for planters.  I'll be planting over the next few weeks...and the kids are very excited about it, too.  I'm excited to be following through with this project and learning more about gardening.   I'll be posting pics of our progress...and honestly I will be SO excited if I can get anything edible to grow.  Oh, and also if I can get my kids to eat any of the veggies.  Time to put on my fake glasses & mustache so I can go incognito to purchase my garden supplies.