Friday, April 30, 2010

Thanks....I think?

Tim came home from work on Wednesday and, out of the blue, announced, "Hey sweetie, I read your blog today".

Before I could respond, I got down on the floor on my hands and knees to try and locate my eyeballs since they had exploded violently from within their sockets, out of nothing other than pure shock.

You see, and I might have mentioned this before, Tim doesn't read my blog. NEVER. Not in all the 3.5 years I've been writing.

I mean, I've read him a couple posts here and there and of course he's added a few one-liners to some of my more memorable ones.

But, for the most part, he's shown no interest in it. In his own words..."why would I want to read all the crap you write about me?"

Well, first of all, it's NOT crap....second of all, I do it out of love. Or maybe frustration. I get those two emotions confused sometimes.

So back to his reading my blog....once I could pinpoint where my eyeballs had rolled off to and pushed them back into their available sockets, I asked, "You did? Really?"

He responded, "Yeah, I read the post about the one thing you're good at. It came up on my messenger update and the title caught my eye so I decided to read it. I had no idea it was going to be about puke."

"Do you even remember Puke-Fest 2005?" I challenged.

He laughed and said, "Surprisingly, I do!"

Then he added, "I still don't get why you have so many followers. I just don't understand this whole blogging thing. Why would people want to read about a total stranger's daily life activities?"

There was really no simple way to describe it. For someone who doesn't blog and has no interest in it whatsoever, there's no way he could possibly begin to understand my passion and desire for blogging.

I tried my best to explain, "Well, I suppose readers must like what I have to say. People can relate to it, especially other mothers. For some of us, it's our only connection to the outside world for days at a time."

"So," I continued, "are you really saying you have no clue why someone would find my life interesting or entertaining?"

Tim rolled his eyes, clearly frustrated with my attempt to put words in his mouth...even though he had said as much just a few moments ago, hadn't he?

He affirmed, "No, sweetie...actually, I have to say, I was impressed with your writing."

I quickly brought my hands up to my eyes to prevent them from springing free from their sockets once again.

Two huge shocks...first, him reading my blog and second, him being impressed with my writing...in a matter of only a few minutes was more than my poor body was used to.

"Seriously?" I asked, my voice dripping with excitement.

"Yeah," he maintained. "You write really well. I was definitely blown away."

And just as I was about to thank him for the unexpected but much appreciated compliment, he reiterated, "I still don't understand, though, why you have so many followers...."

Yeah, thanks....I think?

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The daughter grows up and teachers her father a few life lessons...

The internet....where would we be without it? For our generation, and our kids' generations, it all comes naturally to us. Everyone's doing it, right?

Well, not exactly. For my parent's generation, they're still trying to get the hang of it. "Google what?" they ask. "Face who?"

My dad has taught me many things in life, with one of the most important lessons being how to manage my money. At an early age, he had me sitting down with him every month, showing me how to balance a checkbook, pay the bills and how to budget and save money.

So it seemed only fair that at some point, I'd return the favor. The daughter grows up and teaches her father a few life lessons.

Beginning with the internet....

He and my mom divorced back in 1999 and he moved to Las Vegas...very lonely and wanting companionship. I mentioned online dating and he asked, "Online WHAT?!"

I explained it to him, "Well, Dad, you register on an online dating site and they match you up with people who seem like a good fit for you."

He shook his head and grieved for the days when dating was as simple as spotting a hot chick in the library and asking for her number.

Tim, being the computer guru that he is, rebuilt a computer for my dad and sent it out to him in Vegas. For days, Tim spent hours on the phone walking himthrough various lessons on how to boot up the computer, registering for an e-mail address and finding his way around the world wide web.

I urged my father to sign up for an online dating site. He said, "I don't know about all this...it feels strange and foreign."

Trying to reassure him, I persisted, "Dad, the woman of your dreams could be out there somewhere....just keep an open mind."

And he did...but he was still rather naive about the whole process. For instance, when one particular woman sent him a picture of herself, he told me, "Wow, she's a looker, this one!"

I had asked, "Is it a recent picture, though?" and he had laughed and said, "I would think so...I mean, why would she send me a picture of herself from ages ago?"

Afraid of punturing his bubble, I kept my cynicism to myself.

They spent about a week e-mailing back and forth and then finally chatting on the phone. It was a refreshing change of pace to hear the excitement in his voice each time he'd update me on their progress.

Then it was time....time for them to meet in person. I assumed he was going to meet her at a local Starbucks for coffee and light conversation.

I was wrong.

After dropping $100 on a lobster dinner, which had included some good wine and 2 hours of boring conversation, my dad called me and yelled into the phone, "Helene, she looked NOTHING like her picture. It's like the picture was from 20 years ago! Let's just say that the last two decades have not been good to her."

All I could do was feel badly for him, as he continued ranting and raving about how dull she was and that he had spent the whole time trying to think of a way to high-tail it out of there.

To make matters worse, she had already left him a voicemail telling him she had a great time and couldn't wait to see him again.

I gave him some pointers....

1) Always ask for at least a couple pictures....put an emphasis on the fact that you want RECENT pictures.

2) Within at least a couple days, arrange to meet in person. Don't waste any more time than necessary e-mailing and calling one another. Someone can be as charming as Sophia Loren over the phone but be more like the female version of Simon Cowell in person.

2) Never ever meet at an expensive restaurant for dinner! Meet up for coffee in the middle of the afternoon....make sure she knows you only have an hour, at the most.

Your busy work schedule can suddenly "free up" if you hit it off with her and want to spend more time.

3) Arrange for your secretary to call you on your cell after 20 minutes, in case you need a quick out.

4) If you don't plan on seeing her again, be honest. Don't tell her you'll call because she'll keep hounding you, wondering why you haven't returned her messages.

Okay, so after all that...he felt like he was ready to venture out again. And he did.

He went on a few more dates with various potential partners and then finally lucked out with a beautiful woman who seemed to share the same passions in life as he did...except she had left out one very important detail.

She was still married...which explained why she always insisted on either meeting my dad out in public or at his place, but never at HER place.

When she finally came clean, she explained that the marriage was over but they still lived together only out of convenience so her husband could be covered under her insurance, due to a lifelong medical condition he suffered from.

My dad was about to give up on dating by that point. Sure, he was very lonely but dating in this new century was more of a hassle than he had realized.

It made me sad, thinking of my dad sitting around all by himself in his bachelor pad. He tried to reassure me that he was fine....he was hitting the bars on Sundays to watch the football games and he was trying to mix and mingle with the people at work.

Still, I continued to pressure him, "Dad, just try the online dating thing just one more time....don't write it off completely after a few bad experiences. Come on, please!"

Thankfully, he agreed....and, after a few more less than amazing dating experiences, my dad met his current wife. He could hardly wait to tell me that she looked exactly like the picture she had sent him and that they had many things in common, with the exception that she raised border collies for a living and he hated dogs....but he could work around that, he had explained.

They were married just a few months later...and they'll be celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary this June.

I recently convinced him to join Facebook, which he begrudingly obliged because I just wouldn't let up. I drew him in by saying, "Think of how many old high school buddies you can catch up with!"

Apparently, though, he's still rusty on the issue of social media and needs a few pointers, with the first one being on public vs private profiles.

"Uh, Dad....promise me the minute we get off the phone, you'll delete your phone number and address from your profile. And make your profile private, please".

"Why?" he asked.

I replied, "Haven't you seen the stories on the news of people's homes being burglarized after they posted or tweeted that they were away from their homes for an extended period of time?"

He answered, "No, I haven't. I hadn't even thought about that!"

"Well, there are horrible people in this world who do think about evil things like that so please do me a favor and take that information off your profile and then make your profile private, okay?"

He assured me, "Okay. Oh...and what's tweeting?"

"Oh geez, Dad," I said. "Let's save that lesson for another time...tell you what, in about 5 more years, your grandkids can teach you all about it."

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Monday, April 26, 2010

The one thing I'm truly good at...

Everyone has their thing...you know, the ONE thing they're truly good at.

Some people have a passion for photography and/or cooking...I'm not one of them.

Others were born with a natural ability to create beautiful things, such as paintings, music or hand-made clothing...I'm not one of them.

So what am I good at?

Well, it might surprise you. Perhaps you're thinking, "Hmmmm, could it be how well you emotionally clock-out at 7:00 every evening, without fail?" or "Is it that you always have a healthy supply of wine and cookies on hand?"

No, not at all...though I always happen to have a chilled bottle of wine at the ready and I am quite the expert at screaming, "Okay, people...4 more minutes until Mommy's shift is over! Get your hugs and kisses while they're still hot!"

Honestly, my one true talent is basically quite simple.

I am the reigning "Queen of Puke". Not everyone can claim this very special and unique title.

I am what they call a "puke magnet". I attract puke, all kinds even...be it pinkish in color with tiny pieces of spaghetti mixed in or pure liquid with a brownish tinge to it. It seeks me out, especially when in a desperate situation.

Let me give an example from a memory that is still very fresh in my mind.

December 2005 -

Cole and Bella were merely 14 months old and we had just gotten done celebrating Christmas with Tim's family at his brother's home. Against my better judgement, I let Cole eat some chocolate cake for dessert.

Truth be told, I was just too tired to argue with my MIL about it. "Oh, let the boy have some cake...it's Christmas," she had said, as I witnessed Tim shrugging his shoulders.

I could see the look of utter confusion upon Tim's poor face....the dilemna was disheartening. Should he side with his wife, the mother of his children and she who held the key to his active and healthy sex life....or his mother, the woman who gave him life and taught him to respect his elders?

Depite the fact that he was aware that I no longer had proper bladder control due to carrying his two children (at the same time, mind you) and knowing full well that many ice, cold showers were in his near future, Tim shoveled a heaping forkful of chocolate cake into his eager son's mouth.

Oh, the child was a very happy boy indeed....with a toddler-sized belly full of rich, chocolate cake.

It was on the long drive home that we heard the sound. You know which sound I'm referring to....that low rumbling gurgle that rises from the pit of an upset tummy, as it empties its acidic contents up into the esophogus.

Yeah, that's the one.

I looked towards the backseat where my sweet baby boy sat upright. Oddly enough, he had no idea what was about to happen...he smiled back at me and then it happened.

Puke-Fest 2005...with a vengeance.

We're talking full-on projectile vomit, which my first-born child hurled towards me at....uh, say....45 mph. Give or take 1-2 mph's.

In a panic, I screamed to Tim, "Pull over....quick!! Cole's puking...he's gonna choke!"

I was already wriggling free from the contraints of my seatbelt, when Tim swerved over to the side of the freeway. And within a millisecond, I was bent over Cole, trying to pry him free from his carseat, as he continued to spew brown chunks all over the place.

He seemed to be in shock...not making any sounds, other than the noise of repulsive upchucking every 3 seconds.

Covered in the brown goo myself at this point, I asked Tim, "Just exactly how much chocolate cake did you give him?!"

He shook his head and responded, "I don't know...however much my mom put on the plate. He ate the whole thing".

All I could do was roll my eyes, as I noticed another car pulling along side us on the shoulder.

A concerned woman rolled down her window and yelled to us, "Do you need help? Are you all okay?"

While Tim explained to the lovely couple that we were in the midst of a Puke-Fest that surely would end our year with a BANG, I took Cole to the back of the mini-van where I stripped him free of his soaked jammies and into another pair of warm, cozy jammies.

In an instant, my mind took me back to a time before I was a mother when I swore up and down that I'd rather change a thousand poopy diapers than clean up vomit...even if it did come out of my own child.

By now, Tim was attempting to clean the carseat, which too was soaked with what used to be the contents of Cole's small tummy. I heard grumbling, mixed in with a few other words...something like, "Damn...this shit smells...oh man, this isn't gonna come out...f*ck, this smells BAD".

Within a few minutes, he was able to clean the seat well enough to strap Cole back in and for us to get home as quickly as we could.

It was too cold outside to drive with the windows down so with each breath we took, the rancid smell of puke would permeate our nasal cavities...prompting us to hold our breath for as long as we could before being forced to take in more of the sour air.

Once we got the boy tucked away, safe and sound, in his crib, I hit the shower and Tim got to work taking all the padding off of Cole's carseat to be washed.

By the morning, Cole was fine...but Tim and I were completely wiped out from the night's events.

You know you've been inducted into the Parenting Hall of Fame when you've been up most of the night with a child vomiting what could only be nothing more than pure stomach acid at that point...only to rise at the butt-crack of dawn, dead tired, with a happy-go-lucky toddler who suddenly had more energy than Tigger, high on meth.

As an added bonus, we also had his twin sister who had DOUBLE his energy...whose face has written all over it, "Trust me, today you are going to experience what it's like to regret the very moment you decided you wanted to have children..."

The night's events were nothing more than a distant memory already for Cole....yet, for Tim and I, we kissed goodybe all those silly, fleeting ideas of catching up on sleep.

And we begrudgingly accepted that we would not become one with our comfy bed again for at least another long and dreary 16 hours.

That was only the beginning, my friends....with the most recent event being covered in yellowish-orange puke spewed by Landon at Tim's brother's Superbowl party this past January.

You haven't lived through a true honest-to-God puke experience until you've been soaked in it while wearing jeans on an oddly warm winter's day...surrounded by well-meaning family members who keep asking you every 10 minutes, "Good God, how can you stand that smell?"

So yes, folks, Puke-Fest 2005 is when I earned the distinguished title "Queen of Puke".

Even though it's not exactly something Martha Stewart would claim proudly, it makes me feel important...and needed. Plus, no one can argue with the plain and simple fact that I earned that title.

And it's the one thing I'm truly good at....


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Friday, April 23, 2010

I did it cold turkey....but not by choice

Picture it....

Three weeks ago, Tim had to go out of town on business for a few days.

In the past, that would send me into total panic mode.

The conversation would usually go down like this...

Tim: Oh, by the way....I need to go out of town next week for a few days.

Me: Well, crappity crap crap....I absolutely HATE when you have to travel. I feel like I'm going to hyperventilate....or puke....or hyperventilate and then puke.

Tim: I know you hate it and I'm sorry but you know I don't have a choice.

Me: I guess I better make sure I have enough Wellbutrin to get me through the next few days, huh?

Tim: Maybe even have a refill on standby, if necessary. And let me know if you want me to pick you up a bottle of wine before I leave.

Me: I feel like I'm going to cry. You're sure you HAVE to go? Wait...are you SMILING? Is that a glimpse of happiness I see on your face?!

Tim: Sweetie, come on now. I'm only smiling because you're being silly about this. Besides, it's only for a few days.

Me: Easy for you to say. I'm sure it only feels like a few days for you but for me....dude, it feels like a freakin lifetime until you walk back in through that front door.

Tim: I know.

Me: Oh, and this time...please don't call me from the restaurant where you're just about to sit down to eat a juicy piece of prime rib, a baked potato smothered in butter and sour cream and an iced-cold beer to wash it all down with, k? That's really nothing other than just being plain cruel.

Tim: How many times am I going to have to apologize for that?

Me: Probably for the rest of your life or at least until I get to experience it myself.

Tim traveled on business quite often right after Garrett and Landon were born.

Wait....let me rephrase that so you can better understand the reason for the serious meltdown.

When Garrett and Landon were newborns (you know, not sleeping through the night yet) and Cole and Bella were 2 years old (you know, not fully potty trained yet), Tim would travel often on business.

Awww, see, now you're feeling it. Yes, FOUR children...2 years old and under...all completely dependent on little ole' ME for their every little need, 24 hours round the clock for at least a few days.

I knew leaving us for even just a few days couldn't be easy on Tim, though...what with a quiet hotel room, 8 consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep, 3 meals a day that he got to taste and enjoy all by himself, a lock on the bathroom door that could actually be used. The list could go on.

Traveling on business is, in fact, a hardship...believe it or not. I knew he missed the kids...sort of. And I'm sure he missed me...not really.

So back to his most recent vacation business trip...for some reason, I didn't go into panic mode. I was cool about it. My response when he told me was, "Oh, okay..."

The kids are a little bit older now and things aren't as challenging as they were, say, 3 years ago. That's not to say it's EASY....oh no, it's definitely not easy. It's more....well, manageable is probably more like it.

Only, on the morning Tim was scheduled to leave, I woke up feeling achy and congested. I hadn't been sick in months...and of all the times to be sick, I was going to be sick NOW??

In addition to that, I was down to my last 3 Wellbutrin pills (1 days' worth) but I planned to pick up another refill at the pharmacy that day. Little did I know that my doctor was out of town and hadn't received my refill request.

Talk about bad timing on all parts, right?

I should've known something was amiss when the pharmacy tech looked confused and asked me, "So...when did you call this prescription in?"

The kids looked nervous as I shuffled them out of the pharmacy..."Mommy," they asked, "how come you couldn't get your happy pills?"

I walked over to my doctor's office, across the street, with kids in tow and that's when I learned she had been out of town the last few days. She had just returned to the office but was now gone for the day. I guess she was still in vacation mode.

God was laughing at me, for sure.

I left a desperate message with the receptionist for my doctor, which started with "Please refill my scrip" and ended with "my children's lives depend on it".

My doctor didn't fill the scrip until the next afternoon, with many apologies for the delay, but I wasn't able to get to the pharmacy.

Long story short, I winged it. I tried not to think about the fact that I didn't have 450 mg of Wellbutrin coarsing through my veins.

I kept myself extremely busy and kept repeating to myself, "You can do this...it's all about mind over matter".

There were several times where I could feel myself about to become unglued, like when the kids thought throwing baked beans at one another was more entertaining than eating them.

Or when Garrett took off his pull-up, watched as the poop rolled out onto the floor, then stepped in it while making a feeble attempt to let me know ..."Ooops, Mommy, I think there's poop on the floor".

Breathe....mind over matter....just breathe....I can do this.

And you know what? I did do it. I survived. I got through it.

Though I wouldn't recommend that anyone just quit their meds cold turkey. There's an obvious reason why doctors discourage their patients from doing that. In my case, there were FOUR little reasons but I guess God stopped laughing long enough to carry me through.

After all, it was the least He could do, seeing that He was the one who thought sending me my children in pairs within a couple year's time was a fantastic idea...along with a whopping side dish of PPD.

Upon returning home and learning of the "situation", Tim left skid marks in the driveway when he peeled out of the garage to go to the pharmacy to get my scrip for me.

I have yet to open the bottle...the bottle of Wellbutrin, that is. The bottle of wine...yeah, that's already open. I'm keeping the Wellbutrin on standby... but for now I think I might actually have a handle on everything.

And it feels good, for a change.

Now, if I could just get Tim to stop nervously asking me, "Maybe you should consider going back on your meds?" every single time I get angry or show the slightest bit of frustration.

Poor Tim...there's no safety net now. It's no wonder he's been sleeping with one eye open every night.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

She knows how to make her mama proud...

Bella and I had just finished completing a puzzle when I asked her if she wanted to help me start dinner.

With her hands on her hips, she responded, "Mommy, I have to clean my doll house. It's SUCH a huge mess...you wouldn't even believe it!"

Okay, then...

So as I began making dinner, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her take everything out of her doll house.

Then she grabbed a bunch of antibacterial wipes and started wiping down the floors and furniture.

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I could barely contain myself as I listened to her lecture her dolls about the condition of their home.

It all sounded vaguely familiar to me.

1) Wow, you guys sure made a huge mess.

2) Why do I have to do EVERYTHING around here?!

3) Uh, HELLO? Do you all NOT see the garbage can? Why is there trash all over the floor?

4) Who didn't flush the toilet?

5) I should be getting paid for this.

6) I'm not your personal maid, people.

And my all-time favorite....

7) Do you all realize there are children in other countries who have NOTHING? No clean water to drink, no food to eat, no toys to play with...you all have NO idea how good you have it.

At first, I was taken aback...was she imitating me?! Is that REALLY how I sound to them?

But then my embarrassment quickly turned into an overwhelming sense of pride.

At the tender age of 5, Bella is already a little mother-in-training...and she can deliver sarcasm like nobody's business.

That girl knows how to make her mama proud...


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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When the rain's away, the spawn will play...

I know, I know....I’m lagging in the blogging department. There…I’ve said it.

Over the last 5 days, the weather has been gorgeous so the spawn and I have been outdoors, enjoying the sunshine!

And what exactly have we been doing under the cloudless, blue skies?

Soccer practice...

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Blowing petals off of flowers in the light breeze...

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Hanging out on the swings...

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Planting our summer vegetable/fruit garden....tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, green beans, strawberries and watermelon

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But just as they say, all good things must come to an end.

We're expecting rain over the next couple days. And I'll catch up on my blogging then!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A few good reasons to reveal those pearly whites…

Sometimes I participate in the “Feel Good Friday” meme hosted by The Girl Next Door Grows Up but one of my other blogging buddies, Jen at Buried with Children, is hosting a fun meme today called “Kids Make the Darndest Things”.

Since this week was a pretty good one and the kids were rather artistically creative, I thought I’d roll both memes up into ONE!

1) How could you look at these next two pictures and not smile?

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There’s a reason why kids look this sweet while they sleep…it’s so you don’t kill them when they’re awake…especially after they’ve done what I’m about to show you next…

2)

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Yes, folks, this would be our family room sofa…which has now been personally decorated by my 5-year old son and one of my 3-year old sons.

When I asked them who was responsible for the spontaneous art work, this is the response I got…

Garrett: Cole did it
Cole: No, Garrett did it.
Garrett: No, not me!
Cole: Uh, it was the cat.
Garrett: Yeah, the cat did it.
Me: Do you both think I’m really THAT stupid?
Cole: Mommy, you sure look pretty today.

Apparently, they think I'm stupid AND desperate for compliments.

3) Often times, their artwork actually makes a lot of sense. For instance, the following are not just simple easter egg crafts.

They also show what a person's brain looks like BEFORE they become a parent…

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And what a person’s brain looks like AFTER becoming a parent…

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4) Usually, when I receive any kind of gift money, I spend it on material items which will make my life easier. With my Christmas money, I bought a Shark steam mop (waited until it went on sale at Kohl’s and then, with my 30% off coupon, I paid only $50 for a $119 mop) and a new Brita water filter system.

If you do not have a steam mop, I suggest you high-tail it to your nearest store and buy one NOW. Seriously, it’s the best money I’ve spent in a long time. I actually LIKE mopping the floor now. That says a lot, right there.

But, wait…that really wasn’t the point of this particular “feel good” moment. I actually used some of my birthday money yesterday to get my hair highlighted and trimmed!

It’s amazing how just a tiny bit of warm golden highlights can make you look as if you’ve actually gotten a good night’s sleep.

5) And, lastly, we finally had ONE day of nice weather this past week and the kids were itching to play out back, break out the water balloons and play on the slip-n-slide.

We had a blast….

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Leave it to Bella to stuff the water balloons in her bathing suit top. I might or might not have encouraged her.

Then we had some fun shoving the balloons inside a small bottle as we filled them up with water…



I should probably mention that I was a little doped up on cold meds during the making of the above video, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have found it so funny.

Wait a minute…yeah, I would. After all, this is ME we’re talking about.

* I want to thank everyone who left a comment on yesterday's "Pouring My Heart Out" post, especially those of you who shared your experience with your own parents. It's never easy to bare our souls for the world to see but it was something I had to get off my chest and I'll admit I've never felt better.

I have decided to spend Mother's Day with Tim and the kids, without any interference from other family members. And I'll bet it'll be the first Mother's Day in 5 years which I will truly enjoy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My mother versus the mother I have become...

One of my beautiful blogging buddies, Shell at Things I Can't Say, hosts a weekly meme called Pour Your Heart Out. You can read the specifics HERE.

So, people, are you ready to dive in deep? Because I'm about to go deeper than I've ever gone before on my blog. So grab your scuba gear if you wanna come along.

Based on a few vague references I've made here and there in the past on my blog, it's safe to say that my childhood wasn't exactly all sunshine and roses.

My parents probably should never have gotten married...and they most definitely should have never had children. In fact, my mom has said the latter on many occasions. Her own childhood wasn't the happiest so she ultimately lacked a healthy idea of what a good mother looked like.

What is a mother?

Someone who cares when others care less
Someone who encourages when others ridicule.
Someone who defends when others condemn.
Someone with patience when others are impatient.
Someone who appreciates when others fail to notice.
Someone who gives security in a world of insecurity.
Someone who is accepting when others reject.
A Mother is a friend for all time, to cherish and protect,
as her achievements will linger for generations.

~~ Author Unknown ~~


The above poem is who I picture in my mind as the "ultimate" mother. It probably describes a good portion of the mothers in the world today.

It does not, however, describe my mother.

Even now, as an adult and as a mother myself, I still make excuses for my mother. She didn't know how to love because she never felt loved. She didn't know how to show affection or appreciation because it was never shown to her. She could never protect me from the evil in this world because no one had ever protected her.

The excuses feel more comfortable to me than the truth. And the truth is that, at any time, she could've been the one to break the cycle of dysfunction.

I've spent most of my childhood and early adulthood trying to make sense of it all. But no amount of analyzing the facts will ever change the past. The damage can never be undone.

Unfortunately, no amount of therapy could've repaired the damage either.

I've sat through counseling sessions listening to her admit that when I was a baby she left me in my crib for hours at a time while I cried because she couldn't "handle motherhood"...it wasn't anything like she imagined it would be. She had pictured herself being home all day long with an adorable, cuddly baby who would spend hours gazing into her eyes.

The reality was that each day when my father would leave for work in the one car they owned, she would feel angry, resentful, trapped and bitter.

I wasn't a particularly cute baby...I was small and scrawny, with a shrill cry that cut her nerves like a sharp knife. Due to immature nerve endings, I didn't like to be held and I would push her away each time she tried to hold me.

Ultimately, she felt rejected by me. In her mind, she wasn't good enough for her mother...and now she wasn't good enough for her own child.

I grew up hearing things from her such as, "You're not good enough", "Your father loves your sister more than you", and "You'll never make anyone happy".

A few years ago, during one particular counseling session, I finally had the nerve to tell her about one of her male employees who sexually abused my sister and I. I expected her to be shocked, sympathetic, sad, disappointed...isn't that how a mother SHOULD react to hearing such an upsetting confession from her child?

She just sat there, stone-faced, and responded, "I had a feeling something had happened. But I always thought it had happened to your sister...not to YOU".

In disbelief, I asked, "Wait...you KNEW?! Yet, you continued to allow him to be around us? And you thought it only happened to Erica but not to ME? Was I that horrible that not even a child molester would want anything to do with me?!"

What made it worse was now knowing that she had an idea something sinister had occurred, yet years later when we went to the grocery store and this same person was working there as a bag boy, she engaged in a friendly conversation with him and expected me to give him a hug....while the whole time, my stomach turned violently and my heart felt like it would give out at any time.

It was at that very moment that I realized I had to live my life for myself....I was spinning wheels that were going nowhere, spending every waking moment trying to prove to my mother that I was worthy of being loved. I had to let it go...

Flash forward to where I am now...sometimes I feel like I've come such a long way. And then at other times, I realize I'm still that little girl who's desperate for her mother's approval.

My sister has long since written our mother off. And she did so without any hesitation...she's never looked back. She doesn't regret her decision whatsoever.

Yet, I cannot do it. Oh, don't get me wrong. I wish to God I could. I want so much to NOT care. I tell myself, "What have you got to lose?"

I practice the conversation in my head over and over until the words are branded into my brain. But when she finally does call, out of the blue...asking for something...I turn to putty. I stumble and I can't find the words anymore.

My mother is having a BBQ on Mother's Day this year again at her house. This has become an annual event as of the last 10 years.

Inside, I'm screaming, "NO, I'm not coming this year. It makes me sick to pretend in front of family and friends that you're Mother of the Year. I'm tired of my kids being confused about why you're so nice to them this one day of the year, only when others are around to witness it....yet, the rest of the year, you're too busy to see them."

As I beat around the bush, trying to come up with excuse after excuse, she's arguing with me..."Well, just tell Tim you want to come over", "Don't worry about Tim's mom...just celebrate with her on another day" and "But you always come over here on Mother's Day".

It's conversations like that which reduce me to the equivalent of a terrified 9-year old child, who doesn't understand what she did so badly in life which justifies such poor treatment. How many times can someone be knocked down before she decides she's had enough?

Well, I'm a mother now and, unlike her, I have vowed to break that cycle of dysfunction. I will strive to be at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Sure, I get angry, short-tempered and yell at my kids more often than I should...I'm certainly not perfect. I am a work in progress, just like every other parent out there in the world.

So when people give me the label of "Supermom" because I insist on spending 3 days baking homemade birthday cakes for each of my kids or taking an entire day to help my kids make Valentine's day crafts for their classmates, I wear that label proudly. I have no problem admitting that I have set the bar high for myself.

I want my children to feel that they are worth my effort and my time...it's essential that they feel important, valued and, most important of all, loved.

With that said, I still hope for that day when my mother will come to me, after seeing the mother I have become, and tell me she's sorry and that she's proud of me.

In reality, I know that day may never come. And that's okay. What matters to me the most now is being the mother to my children that I had always wished for...the mother in the poem above, especially the following part...

A Mother is a friend for all time, to cherish and protect,

as her achievements will linger for generations.


Hopefully, my biggest achievement will have been advancing against the odds...coming through and out of the darkness to shine as brightly as I know I can, for the sake of my children and future generations, as well.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

We fought a good battle, but they may have won the war...

We've lived in our home for almost 8 years now. Within the first year, it was obvious that we were about to embark on a territorial war that we hadn't anticipated on.

A bird family decided to set up house on our front porch. It could've been swallows...or maybe even sparrows. I don't really know, to be honest. What I did know was that they were adorable, with their tiny chirping sounds.

The 1st year sharing our home with them wasn't so bad. It was sweet to watch from start to finish...the building of the nest, the mama bird laying on her eggs which would soon hatch and then we'd watch her fly lovingly back and forth all day long finding food for her scrawny babies.

The 2nd year is when we started to sense animosity. The same family came back and eagerly set up house again. But this time the temperament had changed. It was as if they were laughing at us..."You poor infertile humans...do you need a manual on how to procreate?"

The 3rd year was when the war began. We debated letting them join us again when they began to dive-bomb our fearful cat and crap all over our new welcome mat, which now was more like a "welcome to our shit-hole" mat.

This year, I said to Tim, "Okay, we gotta beat them at their own game!"

With the first sign of their return, Tim immediately took down their nest. We high-5'd each other...a sure sign of triumph.

But the birds returned....again. They were not to be thwarted. Another nest was in the making before we knew it.

Once again, Tim took down the nest and he bought a plastic owl to put up in the corner of the porch, with the hopes of scaring the birds off.

Did that stop them? No. They just stared down the owl, flipped it off and built a nest in the opposite corner.

I said to Tim, "You're NOT gonna believe this but they're building another nest!" He groaned and mumbled, "Damn owl..." as he took the useless piece of plastic back to Home Depot.

From then, it was game on. The birds were no longer scared of us when we could come out onto the front porch. They would just stare us down, as if we had some nerve to be invading THEIR property.

Tim knocked down the nest again, with a determination I had never quite seen in him before. I was turned on...the birds were pissed off.

The very next day, the birds were back but this time they seemed to have a new bravado about them. They had a new plan...

...called: Tag Team. One bird sat guard over the nest while the other went out searching for twigs and mud. When that bird came back to add his findings to the nest, the other bird would set flight in search of more stuff.

They stood watch over their nest for a good 24 hours.

But the birds didn't anticipate that we were standing watch, as well...knowing that, sooner or later, they'd tire of sitting in the same place for hours at a time. They had to eat at some point, right?

As soon as they abandoned the nest, Tim took it down AGAIN.

And he went a step further...he purchased some wood and some screen netting and immediately went to work building a barrier, which would prevent the birds any access to the ceiling of the porch.

So yeah, not the most attractive look for our front porch but we had to do something drastic...something that would scream "STAY AWAY"!


As Tim worked, every once in awhile, the birds would fly nearby and take notice of his handy-work. We'd hear a flurry of angry chirps and fluttering of busy wings, as they flew off to a distant tree to discuss the next step in their hostile takeover.

The next day, we noticed the birds kept flying back over and trying desperately to knock the screen down. I have never seen birds more determined than these two.

Tim was even kind enough to put one of the nests in the tree in our front yard but these are birds who like to be in control. No one was going to tell them where to put their nest.

On Friday morning, I heard a bunch of tweeting by the front door. Lo and behold, the birds were back....building another nest right underneath the barrier screen.


I immediately ran inside the house and yelled, "I hate to tell you this...."

Tim interrupted, "Are you SERIOUS?! Where on earth could they be putting their nest NOW?"

He ran out to see the birds scrambling as fast as they could to get their nest up for the 4th time in one week.

I said, "I'm starting to feel bad for them. Maybe we should just let them stay this year, one last time. We can hire a professional next year to help us".

"No," Tim replied. "This is OUR house! I'm just going to keep taking their nest down even it kills me!"

Problem is....I think it's become a man thing now (click where it says "click to start")



To be continued....

* No birds have been harmed throughout all this, physically speaking anyway. I'm sure their little egos have taken a hit though. If they do happen to lay eggs in one of the nests before we're able to take it down, please be assured we won't disturb them. Just had to throw this little bit in here for my fellow bird lovers.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My 10 things....

One of my buddies, Robin at Insights and Belly Laughs, wrote a fun blog post a couple weeks ago revealing 10 things about herself. I loved it and asked if she'd mind if I "borrowed" the idea. So here goes...

1) I have been married once before. It's what I refer to as my "trial run at marriage".

I met the ex at a dance club/bar. He proposed on the spur of the moment one night after we had been dating only a few months and he actually gave me an "engagement ring" he had made out of a dollar bill...

...which he took from me later so he could buy nachos from Taco Bell.

I'm pretty sure that was the wake-up call God was trying to send me...the ONE call I obviously missed.

2) Here's something that really irks me...when I swallow a pill and it gets stuck in my throat where it begins to disinigrate.

3) When it comes to my kids, I tend to panic over every little thing.

Like the time when Cole was a toddler and he ate a purple crayon, unbeknownst to me of course. As soon as I saw purple poop in his diaper, I called Poison Control and started screaming something like, "Oh My God...my kid's poop is purple! Should I take him to the emergency room? Oh My God, I don't even think I remember how to do CPR!"

Or the time when I gave Cole a dose of Benadryl and then Tim gave him another dose 10 minutes later, thinking it was Bella who I had given the medicine to.

I called Poison Control, sobbing something to the effect of, "My husband and I just overdosed our son on Benadryl. Is he gonna be okay? I'm so frazzled and sleep-deprived all the time. I probably just killed him, didn't I? I totally suck at this parenting stuff".

I wouldn't be surprised if Poison Control greeted me by name the next time I phone in. I can hear them now, "Oh man...who wants to handle this call? Wonder who she killed this time?"

4) It absolutely kills me when my kids mispronounce words. Take, for instance, the word stick. Sounds innocent enough, right?

But then add the fact that Garrett and Landon tend to replace the "st" sound in most words with a "d". It changes the whole context now, doesn't it?

So imagine the hysterics that nearly keeled me over on Monday when I took the kiddos for a walk. Garrett happened to see a big "dick" on the sidewalk and he wanted to hold it. Then of course Landon wanted the "dick" too and he and Garrett fought over who was going to get to hold the "dick".

Garrett screamed, "That's my dick...get your own!" Landon frowned and said, "Mommy, I want a dick, too."

After I helped Landon find a "dick"...a bigger "dick" than Garrett, mind you...they pretended to have a sword fight with their "dicks". And they gleefully laughed while they said things like, "I hit with you my dick...haahaa!" and "Hey, get your dick out of my face!"

Cole and Bella were in a state of confusion...Garrett and Landon continued to wave their "dicks" in each other's faces...and I could barely contain myself, as I had to keep reminding them to keep their "dicks" away from each other's faces before someone lost an eye.

Oh Lordy....good times.

5) I absolutely hated the way my hair looked on my wedding day.

I had been to the stylist earlier that week for a "practice run" and my hair looked amazing...exactly how I wanted it to look!

But the morning of my wedding, something went haywire and it didn't turn out as I expected.

It kind of made me wonder if God was trying to send me another "quick...run...NOW" message but turns out it was just me being vain.

6) I love music, especially songs with a good beat. But I can't dance to save my life. Absolutely no rhythm whatsoever.

7) I was the girl who dreaded changing her clothes in front of other girls while in the locker room during P.E. I would go out of my way to find a private area where no one could see me.

Then infertility slapped me hard in the face...after that, it invited me to check my pride and humility at the door.

At that point, I thought nothing of wearing a paper gown, spreading my legs in front of various medical staff and saying, "Let's get me knocked up, people....game on!"

8) I have an extremely low tolerance for pain. Seriously, I'm a total wimp.

I practically had a meltdown after I was pregnant with Cole and Bella when I realized that they were going to have to come out at some point and it was, more than likely, going to be VERY painful.

And then there was Tim with his ever-constant words of encouragement..."Well, sweetie, it's a little late to consider that NOW, after the fact".

Sure...whatever. Easy for him to say...he wasn't the one who was going to be gutted like a fish as two small human beings were being ripped from his loins.

9) I'm the oldest of 4 siblings. Growing up, my family was so dysfunctional that I often fantasized that Roseanne Barr was my mother and Bea Arthur (Dorothy on Golden Girls) was my grandmother.

10) In a perfect world, I'd spend my days eating asparagus, cherries and crab legs while watching old re-runs of 90210, Roseanne, Golden Girls and Seinfeld.

And my kids would be equipped with a mute button, which I could click on and off with a simple touch of the remote.

I was interviewed today at Say Anything...I'd love it if you'd go check it out!


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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

For the love of God, can someone PLEASE release the Kraken already?

Ever since the kids saw the first commercial for the movie "Clash of the Titans", they've been saying that line over and over and over again.

I ask them to clean up their toys, they say, "Mommy, release the Kraken".

I call them to the table to eat lunch, they say, "Did you release the Kraken?"

When the strong smell of poop permeates the air, Cole and Bella point to Garrett and Landon and ask, "Okay, which one of you released the Kraken?"

At first, it was funny...I will admit that. I was even feeding into it for awhile, playing right along with them.

But then they became borderline obsessed...Bella, a little more so than the others.

Thankfully, I think Cole's ready to release the Kraken and be done with it.



Who needs to go out to the movies when I have all the entertainment I could possibly want right here in my family room?!

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Monday, April 5, 2010

I don't think this is exactly what the teacher had in mind...

Part of being responsible kindergarteners includes Cole and Bella doing homework each night. Usually the homework is pretty straight-forward and they can finish it within 10-15 minutes.

However, there are some homework assignments which require a little more thought.

For example, one of the assignments they were given before spring break was to look around their home and describe signs of spring using their five senses.

Sounds easy enough, right? I'm sure most kids came up with adorable answers, such as SMELLING the fragrant flowers in their garden and HEARING the chirps of happy birds flying nearby.

But we all know that my kids aren't like most other kids.

No, they need to stand out in all that they do...you know, make absolutely sure that the entire world knows how unique they are.

Obviously, they were feeling a little silly when they come up with their original answers...

I see - my little brother's buttcrack (Cole); Cole's pee behind the toilet (Bella)

I taste - soda and chips (Cole); my tongue (Bella)

I hear - daddy burping (Cole); nothing (Bella)

I feel - tired (Cole); like I have to poop (Bella)

I smell - boogers in my nose (Cole); stinky feet (Bella)

My first words were, "Oh no!! You both are NOT handing that in to Mrs. Helms...no way!! Besides, none of it has to do with spring!"

Back to the drawing board....

I see: slimy earthworms in my backyard (Cole); rainbows (Bella)

I taste: lemonade (Cole); deviled eggs (Bella)

I hear: birds singing (Cole); leprachaun's singing (Bella)

I feel: sunshine on my face (Cole); the wind on my teeth (Bella)

I smell: flowers in our garden (Cole); a dead skunk (Bella)

Awww, now that's more like it, although I'm sure the teacher will still have a "WTF" moment when she reads some of Bella's answers.

I see nothing wrong with encouraging my kids to stand out in a crowd or be themselves but when it comes down to the possiblity of being THAT one mother who has to come in repeatedly for teacher-parent conferences, that's when I have to put my foot down.

Memorable conversation of the day:

Cole: Mommy, guess what we did at school today?

Me: Oh, I don't know...surprise me.

Cole: We had our hearing checked.

Me: You did, did you? So how's your hearing?

Cole: They said it was good.

Me: Well, then you shouldn't have any problem responding when I ask you to do something now that we know your hearing is perfectly fine.

Bella: Uh, no...he'll still ignore you.

Cole: Yeah, she's probably right.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Apparently, I'm getting a boyfriend for my 41st birthday...

The following is a conversation I had with Cole and Bella yesterday morning...

Cole: Mommy, do you know what you want for your birthday?

Me: How about a big ole' birthday cake smothered with frosting?

Bella: I know what you REALLY want.

Me: You do? What, ice cream with the cake?

Bella: No, you want a pedicure.

Me: Well, that WOULD be nice.

Bella: And after your pedicure, I'm gonna get you a boyfriend.

Me: WHAT?! A boyfriend?! Well, what about Daddy?

Bella: He won't care. You can still have Daddy AND a boyfriend.

Me: But can I still have some cake?

Upon telling him about this conversation, Tim laughed and said, "Fine with me...his first project will be finishing the remodel of the bathroom. We might as well BOTH benefit from this, right?"

Well, what do you know...having my birthday on April Fool's Day may not be so bad after all.

I just hope the new boyfriend doesn't snore.

Now, did someone mention cake?

Birthday

On a side note, I want to thank everyone who left such supportive and encouraging comments yesterday regarding Bella. A few of you even wrote your own blog posts about what had happened, which really touched my heart.

Each and every one of you are seriously amazing...it was such a wonderful feeling to have that many people in my corner!


It's too bad that BFF will probably never experience that same feeling, although I pray that he/she read each of the comments and hopefully realizes now how badly words can hurt.

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I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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