Monday, January 30, 2012

If...You Are a Better Mom Than Me

My lovely friend "Zeemaid" at In the Mommy Trenches recently wrote a post called If...You Are A Better Mom Than Me, which threw me into hysterics.

And then I jumped on the bandwagon and hijacked her comment section with a few of my own.  Finally, I just came right out and asked if she minded if I borrowed her idea!
  • If you never check your e-mail while your kids are talking to are a better mom than me.
  • If you happily allow your children to help you cook dinner every night without completely losing your are a better mom than me.
  • If your husband comes home from work and lays on the sofa, complaining about how tired he is, while you've been fighting with the kids to do their homework and trying to get dinner ready and you don't fantasize about how great it would feel to smash his head with a frying are a better mom than me.
  • If you never curse in front of your are a better mom than me.
  • If you read your children a bedtime story every single are a better mom than me.
  • If you never threaten to shave your children's hair in their sleep next time they wake you up in the middle of the night for something are a better mom than me.
  • If you've never told your kids little white lies, such as "An angel cries every time a child picks his nose" are a better mom than me.
  • If you never mourn the independence and freedom you enjoyed prior to having are a better mom than me.
  • If you make each of your children a different meal every night at dinner because they're extremely are a better mom than me.
  • If you've never set the clock ahead by 30 minutes and then gleefully announced "Oh, look, it's bedtime" are a better mom than me.
  • If you give your children a bath every are a better mom than me.

Feel free to add some of your own in the comments....or do your own post (please remember to link to Zeemaid's blog)! Registered & Protected

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I don’t even know where to start….

Believe it or not, my house was perfectly clean just two days ago. 


And now…..








Sigh….there are simply not enough hours in a day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

No more "bored" games for us....

One of my favorite things to do with my kids is play board games.

I know, I know...some parents would rather undergo a painful root canal than play a board game with their kids.  Tim, in particular.  He considers them "bored" games and refuses to partake in our twice-a-week ritual. Honestly, I think it's because he's afraid the kids will kick his ass at Monopoly but that's just between me and you guys, okay?

I think spending quality time with your kids playing games is so important.  Not only for the cognitive learning possibilities (counting numbers on a pair of dice, identifying colors, following a sequential pattern, etc) but also for the social opportunities it provides (learning how to wait your turn, good sportsmanship, etc).

One of our absolute favorite games to play is Monopoly (the electronic banking version).  I used to get frustrated having to deal with all the fake money but with the electronic banking version, it makes it really simple for young players.

Every player gets a plastic card (similar to a credit card) and you simply slide the card in the banking device to add money or take money from your account.  Even my 4-year olds know how to operate it.

And I love that they're essentially learning how to handle money.  Like, for instance, they land on a property they were hoping to buy but they don't quite have enough money to buy it.  Or when they owe another player money....they know they have to make good on their loan or there will be consequences.

Great life lessons, right?

Another game we love is Battleship.   Not only do I love the competitiveness of this game but I like that the kids are learning how to plan strategically.  They really have to use their brains in this game, pay attention and try to outsmart their opponent.

They also have to know their letters and numbers in order to identify spots on the board, which has been helpful for the little twins.

Lastly, a perfect game for the little ones (preschool age) is Yahtzee Junior.  Even my big twins love this game.

It's super easy to play...simply roll the dice and try to match up the faces of the characters.

This game teaches kids how to count, recognize matches and good sportsmanship.  Garrett and Landon have even learned how to add up their scores at the end of the game to determine who the winner is.

Those are just a few of our favorites!  We have stacks and stacks of various board and card games that we enjoy.

Board games are such a wonderful way to bring the family together (unless, of course, you have one particular person in the family who is a party pooper....cough, cough...Tim).  

And one of the perks is that all these games are affordable!  There are plenty of ways to save on Hasbro games...right now you can get 35% off!

If you don't already enjoy a family night of board games, why not start?   I can guarantee it's something your kids will love and come to really look forward to!

What games does your family enjoy playing together? Registered & Protected

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A day in the life of a 4-year old...

Ah, to be 4 years old again. 

To have your days filled with nothing but excitement and curiosity....silliness and good times. 

No worries in the world, other than hoping you can have chicken nuggets again for lunch (for the 5th day in a row).

Your "homework" consists of practicing your writing skills, while learning number sequence. 

And you know that no matter how many mistakes you might make, your teacher is still going to give you a high-five and a gold star...simply because you applied yourself.

There's no better feeling than when all your hard work pays off, as you finally figure out how to blow bubbles....a skill you've been trying to master for months.

Whipping up a batch of mini-cakes in your sister's Easy-Bake oven is your idea of "really cool fun"...especially because you know you'll get to lick the spoon and the bowl (even though your mother has warned you numerous times about salmonella poisoning). 

Nothing makes you happier than eating the other half of the giant burrito your dad couldn't finish....because you're such a big boy with an endless appetite.

You've got nothing but time on your hands and you have no problem taking a few minutes out of your day to say hello to a friendly cat, even though your mom is nagging you to hurry along.

"Cats need love too," you tell her. 

Throwing leaves in the air makes you giggle until you're doubled over with a bad case of hiccups.

No worries about where the leaves love to scoop them all up into a huge pile and throw them up in the air...over and over again, with boundless energy.

Every open road leads you wherever you want to go.   The options are unlimited.

The world is your oyster, just waiting to be discovered and acted upon.

To be 4 years old just seemed so simple, didn't it? Registered & Protected

Friday, January 20, 2012

What good is being married to a computer geek if I can't take advantage of him?

I often joke with my friends about how awful it would be to be married to a male gynecologist.

I mean, think about it.  After looking at endless vaginas of all shapes and sizes ALL. DAY. LONG. and having to endure in embarrassing conversations about "women issues", does he tell his horny wife, "Sorry, honey, not tonight.  If I have to look at one more vagina, I'm gonna claw my eyeballs out."

Another example.  The car mechanic.  Does he really want to spend his entire weekend fixing his wife's car, after having spent his entire work week repairing everyone else's car?  Probably not.

Tim is the average computer geek.

Sure, he doesn't exactly look like know, the stereotypical introvert who wears his hair greased and parted on the side, glasses always slipping down to the edge of his nose, pens in his shirt pocket and can't hold a decent conversation to save his life because being around people makes his palms all sweaty.

HTML is his language of love, though...which proves he is, in fact, a complete computer geek.  He loves this kind of stuff so I never gave it much thought any time I had a problem with my computer.

Last week, I opened my laptop and saw some weird test was running. 

"What's this?" I asked him.

Complete silence.

"Yo, computer geek.  What's this on my laptop?  It's doing something strange," I repeated.

"Oh, are you talking to me?" he asked.

Bordering on annoyance, I said, "Yes, I'm talking to you.  You are the resident computer expert, aren't you?"

He walked over to my laptop, shrugged his shoulders and then went back to eating his breakfast.

"Well?" I begged.  "Is that normal?"

"I don't know.  Let it finish running the test and then I'll look at it," he explained, nonchalantly.

20 minutes later, the test was still running and I was growing more worried.

"Will you please have a look at my laptop?  Something's not right," I pleaded.

He rolled his eyes and said, "Okay, okay....geez, calm down."

"I can't calm down.  My entire life is on that laptop!"

"Have you been backing everything up like I showed you?  The pictures?  Your book?", he asked.

I mumbled under my breath, "Uh, not exactly."

"Dammit," he shouted.  "I told you to back everything up!  This is the third time this has happened!"

"Well, any time I work on my book, I save it to a flash drive but I kept forgetting to take care of the pictures.  You know, I kept meaning to and then I'd forget," I tried to explain.

He shoved his chair away from the table and sat in front of my laptop.  I watched his fingertips tap endlessly on the keyboard. 

"Shit," he sighed.  "Probably a virus or your hard drive crashed."

With that, he went upstairs. 

"Well," I shouted after him.  "What should I do?"

"Just shut it off when it's done running the test and I'll work on it when I can," he replied.

"But I need my laptop NOW," I pleaded.

"Just use another computer until I can get to it.  Use the one I'm preparing for the demo in Vegas."

Later that day, after he had a chance to look at my poor laptop, Tim said, "I'm going to see if I can recover all your docs and pics off your hard drive.  But I'm getting sick of this always happening.  You HAVE to backup everything.  I tell you this all the time!"

"I guess I figure you can always fix it if there's a problem," I commented.

"I can't always fix it, though.  That's the problem.  You think I can just work magic and fix everything.  Just back everything up from now on and stop putting me through this!"

"But...but....but you're a computer whiz.  You can fix anything.  Friends call and you rush to fix THEIR computers.  My mom and sister always have computer issues and you have no problem helping them.  You're like the super hero of computers!" I offered.

"Whatever," he remarked.

"Don't 'whatever' me!" I complained. "You love this kind of stuff.  What good is being married to a computer geek if I can't take advantage of you!"

Uh-oh...I knew where this was headed.  Me and my big mouth.

"Tell you what," he smiled slyly.  "You can take advantage of me if you let me take advantage of you."

"Well, that's not exactly fair now.  I mean, you fix everyone else's computer with no expectations.  Why not mine too?"

Tim shrugged his shoulders.  "That's the deal.  Take it or leave it."

My laptop now sits naked, without its hard drive, on the kitchen table.

It's being held hostage, basically.  And I'm getting more and more desperate to be reunited with my beloved laptop.

I may have to let Tim take advantage of me so he'll get the damn thing working for me again.


I wonder if our dentist's wife has to put out any time she needs a root canal. Registered & Protected

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Okay, who spiked the Kool Aid?

It happened, people.  It FINALLY happened.

I knew eventually my time would come if I could just learn to be a little more patient.

Over the years, I'd listened to friends brag about their experiences and I'd seethe with insane jealousy.  

I'm a good come I was never one of the fortunate ones?  When would it be MY time?

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia....

Well, time finally came.

I took the kids shopping for new shoes and, the first time ever, I didn't want to run out of the store and throw myself into oncoming traffic.

We went to two different stores.  First, was Payless Shoe Source because I'm cheap and Garrett and Landon go through shoes quicker than Kim Kardashian goes through husbands. 

The store manager measured their feet and, within ten minutes, they each had picked out a pair of shoes that made them squeal with delight.  TEN MINUTES.  That's like a world record when it comes to picky preschoolers finding that exact perfect shoe.

I paid for the shoes and tried not to keel over in shock when both boys shouted, "Thank you for our new shoes, Mommy!"

Okay, who spiked the Kool Aid? 

On our way over to the other store, I couldn't stop gushing about their impressive behavior.

"I was super proud of your behavior in the shoe store.  You all stayed together, you didn't pull endless boxes of shoes off the shelf, you helped each other...there were no tears, no snot, no foul smells randomly emitted.  Seriously, I'm beyond thrilled with how well behaved you guys were!"

They were all smiles...getting along fabulously, singing along to the radio.

WTF?   Was this really happening?  Best not to overanalyze it...

At the second store, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Cole and Bella were excited to buy their first pair of Heelys, which they'd been begging for for what seemed like an eternity.  Finally, I caved and agreed.

They both promptly sat on the floor and began trying on various pairs, while Garrett and Landon sat on the floor next to them and watched.

Let me just repeat that again because it simply merits repeating.

Garrett and Landon sat on the floor next to their older brother and sister, patiently waiting for them to settle on a pair of shoes to purchase.

THIS. NEVER. HAPPENS.  Usually, while I'm helping Cole and Bella, the little twins are tearing through the store, ripping things off of shelves, annoying other customers. 

On the drive home, there was nothing but happy chattering from the kids.  They were sharing gummy worms with one another.  I was hearing tons of "May I please have another gummy worm?" and "thank you's".

From the very back of the minivan, Cole and Bella both shouted, "We love our shoes, Mommy.  Thank you!"

Again, I ask, WTF?

I suddenly felt the urge to find a huge hill covered with green grass, hold hands with my kids and sing at the top of my lungs. 

The hills are alive with the sound of happy, la, la, la

I kept waiting for lightening to strike.  Or John Quinones, the host of Primetime: What Would You Do to appear out of nowhere and say, "Ma'am, we're doing a segment on why some parents go clinically insane after taking their kids shopping for new shoes...."

Upon returning home, they immediately tore into the bags and put on their new shoes...leaving a mess of open, scattered shoeboxes all over the floor.

Not wanting to ruin our happy day, I chose not to complain about them leaving behind a huge mess for me to clean up, as they joyfully sprinted towards the backyard to test out their new shoes.

Beggars can't be choosers, I suppose.  And some battles just aren't worth fighting, especially when I just experienced a major milestone...a wonderful shopping experience with my kids.

As I peeked out the window and witnessed them all chasing one another in the backyard, laughing happily and getting along beautifully, I thought, "This is what I've been waiting for.  This is how I imagined motherhood would be."

My very next thought? 

Where can I get some of that freakin' Kool Aid? Registered & Protected

Monday, January 16, 2012

The social life of a 7-year old girl...

I met Bella outside her classroom the other day after school.  She and another little girl in her class were chatting about the day's events.

As they bid one another farewell, the little girl shouted to Bella, "Call me!"

I glanced at Bella and asked, "Uh, did she just tell you to call her?"

Bella nodded her head.  "Yeah, she gave me her phone number.  She wants me to call her tonight."

"But you just spent an entire day with her at school and I'm assuming you sat by her at lunch and played together at recess.  What on earth could you two have to discuss that you haven't already talked about," I grilled her.

With her signature rolling of the eyes, she answered, "We have lots to talk about."

Oh, quickly you forget what it's like to be a young girl in the midst of fitting into the social scene at the local elementary school.

With a huge sigh, I left it at that and figured she'd probably space out and completely forget to call her friend.

But, of course, she didn't.  Because this is Bella we're talking about, after all, and she can still remember the flavor cake I made for her 3rd birthday party.  This child has the memory of an elephant.

That evening, after dinner, Bella grabbed the phone and asked me to dial the girl's number.

I teased, "The rule should be that if you can't even dial your friend's number then you shouldn't be using the phone."

Her voice riddled with obvious annoyance, she huffed, "Mommy, come on!  Please dial her number for me."

"Let's make sure you have proper phone etiquette before it gets potentially embarrassing.  When her mom or dad answer the phone, you say 'Hi, may I please speak to Natalie?  This is Bella, her friend from school'.  You don't say 'Let me talk to Natalie' or 'Is Natalie there'.  Be polite.  Don't yell into the phone.  And don't spit into the phone, for the love of God," I explained.

"Spit into the phone!" she repeated.  "What's the big's not like the spit is going to land on her through the phone!"

"Yeah," I said.  "But I might be the next one to use that phone and I don't want YOUR spit all over MY face."

Another signature eye roll and another "Mommy, come on!"

She was growing impatient with me.  I do love to have my fun.

Once I dialed the number for her and assured that she was politely requesting her friend and identifying herself as the caller, I nodded my head, giving Bella permission to take the phone with her to the top of the staircase where she wouldn't be bothered by the excessive noise coming from her 3 obnoxious brothers.

After a few minutes of wondering what the hell these girls could be discussing that simply could not wait until the next day, I decided to spy and heard Bella saying, "OMG, I know...Totally...Oh, I know...Yeah...  Whatever... OMG, she did?...Yeah, I know...OMG!"

Pause for a few seconds of silence.  You know, let her friend get in some more words here and there.

And then, again, "OMG.  I totally can't believe that.  Tomorrow, let's just tell her that she can't play with us if she's not going to be nice."

Uh-oh, is there drama going on in the 2nd grade....again?   Of course there is.

She was quiet for a minute or two.

Then, "Okay....yeah.....uh-huh....I know.  Okay....yeah, see you tomorrow."

Bella handed the phone back to me and I had to ask, "Soooo....what's going on?  Any drama to tell your mama?"

She shook her head and answered, "No, I've got it covered."

"Oh, please, just tell me," I begged.  Because I don't have enough drama in my life after watching The Bachelor and Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Letting out a irritated sigh, she explained, "Well, we were having problems with a girl in our class being mean to us at recess. So Natalie and I just, like, decided to ignore her.  That's all."

"Oh, I see.  Sounds like you have it all under control, my little friend.  And I'm so proud of you for handling it the way you did.  Sometimes just ignoring a mean person is the best way to handle it.  Don't let them get under your skin, you know."

"Mommy, don't worry about me so much," she assured me.  "It was just one little thing.  No big deal."

The very next night, she was back on the phone again with this same little girl.

Only this time, they were discussing little brothers and how gross they are.

Ah, to be 7 years old again.

Then again, no thanks. Registered & Protected

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dear Jersey Shore Cast...guest post courtesy of The Literal Mom

Today's entertaining guest post comes to you from the beautiful and talented Missy at Literal Mom.

You know how when you stumble upon a blog for the first time and after reading merely a few paragraphs of one of the posts, you feel instantly drawn in?  Kind of like coming home after a long vacation?   You feel an overwhelming connection to this blogger, as if you've been lifelong friends, and you just know if you were to get together in person, your friendship would be the kind where you finish each other's sentences.

That's how I feel about Missy.  I ran across her blog one day and have not stopped reading since.

She is a devoted wife to her loving husband and the mother of two precious daughters, as well as an active community volunteer, an advocate for childhood education and a leader in several community organizations.

Not only is Missy witty, funny and incredibly sweet, she writes with such purpose and honesty. She's not afraid to put her thoughts and experiences on parenting out there for the world to read.  Missy writes about things that some of us are afraid to admit, such as when our kids get hurt and we get more caught up in what others think of our parenting skills rather than our injured child.

She has helped me to become a better mother....a THINKING mother, which is the whole point behind Literal Mom.  

I hope you enjoy this hilarious guest post from her!  And after reading it, please leave Missy some comment love and then go to Literal Mom and be sure to subscribe!  


Dear Jersey Shore Cast 

The-jersey-shore-cast-strikes-a-poseI want  to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for what you've done to change pop culture and how our yutes today view their role in society and, more specifically, drinking establishments. 

My husband and I recently went out on New Year's Eve with some good friends of ours.  Good friends whom we've had copious amounts of alcohol in public places  socialized with before.  So we know each other and like to "have each other's backs," much like you do when you go out to find out who's DTF for the evening. 

And that raises my first "thank you" of this letter.

The DTF What a witty way to describe a woman who's willing to engage in what we used to call a "one-night-stand."  I think it's really quite ingenious of you to incorporate it not only into your lingo with each other, but to use it as a pick up line!  What better way to learn if a woman is "DTF - down to fuck" than by asking her! 

I understand how a man wants to know the end result of his evening's work.

Being a married woman myself, I'm sure my husband greatly appreciates that I'm a sure bet on our nights out.  Or DTF, as you would say. I think, though, if I have one bit of advice, it would be to recognize that I am not DTF to YOU.  I am DTF to my HUSBAND.  Therefore, if you come up and start the DTF dance on me (see below) and my husband taps you on the shoulder and says, "That's my wife," your response should not be "I don't see a ring on her finger." 

And when he takes said ringed finger and shoves it in your face so that you do indeed see it, your next response should not be, "Yeah, well, she's dancing. It looks like she likes it to me."

That kind of thing doesn't go over well with a married man of 14 years whose wife drank too much and is now dancing like it's still the 80s enjoying a night out with his wife. 

To the ladies in regard to DTF, how nice it is for YOU to not have to worry about the mixed signals you may send through the evening.  Now, thanks to the Jersey Shore men, you have the chance to answer yes, no, or maybe later when asked if you are DTF. 

Which brings me to my second reason to thank you:

DTF Dancing.  I really like how you've taken dancing to the next level.  I love how you double team drunk girls (I'm quite sure it's to help them stand up from massive alcohol consumption and has nothing to do with an animalistic desire to have a 3-way with her) and I love how you've taken things that used to be left for the bedroom and exposed them for public consumption! 

How I would have loved to be in college and have a guy I barely knew come up behind me, grasp my hips and start rubbing his money maker all over my booty.  Really, really a boost in confidence that most girls need.  

And to the girls, I love the outfits you wear to both encourage booty dancing and make it easier to booty dance effectively.

Which brings me to my next reason to thank you.

The Booty Dress.  Your dresses!  My have they shortened in the past several years!  That must be so helpful to the men who want to DTF with you.  And that's so nice of you.  Recently I saw a particularly stunning booty dress.  It was so high and so tight, the wearer could show "crack" from the bottom, NOT the top.  Isn't that neat?  So she didn't have plumber's crack, she had booty dress crack. 
And let me tell you, the men were loving it. 

After 4 drinks too many Because I am a mother, I felt it only right to go and remind them that she is someone's daughter and maybe her parents wouldn't want to see you men reaching up under her dress and patting her crack-showing bottom.  But I didn't have to, because after it rode up even higher, arguably over her entire bottom, she must have felt the breeze, so she pulled it right back down where it belonged, just under the bottom of her bottom.  With a teensy little bit of crack hanging out.

Finally, my 4th reason to thank you.

The TMT.  Oddly, this acronym is close to TNT - dynamite.  The TMT is what I like to think of as Too Much Testosterone.  But I imagine it can also be the TME - Too Much Estrogen. 

And you guys haven't even coined this acronym yet!  This one's all me.  You are welcome.  Just don't try to sue Abercrombie if they put it on a t-shirt - that's my job, K?

Anyway.  Back to TMT.  I really like how you, all of you, will fight with anyone, anytime, anywhere when alcohol, DTFs and Booty Dresses are in play.  And I got to see this phenomenon you've created first hand on New Year's Eve! 

And that was so nice, because we didn't go out on New Year's Eve to have fun with friends, dance and ring in the new year together.  We actually did go out to see if we could re-create a Jersey Shore moment. And when so many of your proteges were on-location with us, our evening became a fait accompli.
All thanks to you.  The DTF.  The Booty Dress.  And testosterone. 

So thanks again for all you've done for popular culture.  I CAN'T WAIT until my girls are old enough to learn from you first hand!


The Literal Mom Registered & Protected

Monday, January 9, 2012

How does this Mommy spell relief?


Yeah, I said it.  I have no shame, people...but, then, most of you already knew that.

Remember my post from a few weeks ago where I described hitting rock bottom once again?

Well, I clawed my way out of the darkness and it feels good.  No, it feels better than good.  It feels triumphant, it feels victorious, it feels amazing.

Winning?  Most definitely.

For starters, I requested a different psychiatrist at my doctor's office.  My former psychiatrist...she and I just never seemed to connect.  I didn't feel like she really listened to me, as I would go in every 6 months to check in and she would literally sit glued to her computer the entire time, going through her checklist of things.

"Are you still taking the prescribed dosage?"
"Are you getting enough sleep?"
"Have there been any major changes in your life?"

I complained at one point that I didn't feel like the Wellbutrin was helping any longer and her answer was, "Well, then quit".

Uh, okay....

So I weaned myself off the Wellbutrin and went about my life.

But, within time, it became evident that I couldn't do it on my own.  I walked around in a rage all the time, the littlest things would set me off, everyone around me walked on eggshells.

My coping skills were completely unhealthy and, at times, dangerous.

The new psychiatrist listened to me...he heard every word I said.  And then he repeated back to me all my symptoms and then asked a series of questions.

"Would you say you spend most of your day feeling anxious and worried?"
"Would you consider yourself an obsessive and/or compulsive person?"
"Do you lose sleep because you feel like you can't shut your brain off?"
"Do you feel like you can't breathe or you feel trapped most of the time?"

As I fiddled anxiously with the zipper on my sweatshirt, I nodded my head vigorously as he asked each question.

Then he said, "I think your main issue isn't the depression.  You seem like an extremely anxious person and when you're anxiety gets out of control, it leads to depression...this feeling of being trapped and then you panic.  Am I right so far?"

I don't think I ever stopped nodding my head in agreement with everything he was saying.

"Your brain is constantly on, all the circuits going never shuts off," he continued.  "You probably crave calmness and that's why you clean your home compulsively and things feel chaotic when your home is disorganized, right?"

"I'll bet noise affects you, as well.  And with 4 young children, I'm sure there are times where you want to just rip your hair out when the noise reaches a certain level," he smiled.

Finally, I felt like I could breathe.  Someone truly understood how I was feeling.  And he wasn't just anybody, he was someone who was in a position to help me.

And then he spent some time discussing various medications with me, giving me the option of choosing which one I felt would be the best fit based on side effects and whatnot.

Ultimately, I decided on a low dose of Paxil, with a scrip for Klonopin on an "as needed" basis.  The Klonopin, he explained, would help with insomnia if I took it at bedtime or it could help me during the day should I feel overly anxious, rather than rely on an unhealthy and/or dangerous coping mechanism.

After a few days of taking the Klonopin at night and not liking the way it made me feel the next day, I stopped taking it and went solely with the Paxil.

And here's how I can tell it's been working...for the first time in years, I enjoyed spending time with my children during winter break.

I wasn't panicked every minute of the day, wondering how to entertain them.  I didn't feel like a total failure if I wasn't overseeing every single activity.

We baked cookies together, we played board games for hours, we went on long bike rides, we took walks, we shopped, we watched movies, we played the Wii...we had a FABULOUS time.

Not only have my children noticed a huge difference but Tim has, as well.

Yesterday, he said, "You come down the stairs in the morning in a good mood.  The way you're interacting with the kids is so different.  You just seem able to handle everything so much better now."

You want to know the best part?

When I smile, I feel it.  Truly feel it...from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.

Finally, my soul feels joyous and peaceful. Registered & Protected

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Want to know how my first week of the new year is going??

Well, 2012 is in full swing and let me tell you all how my first week of the new year is going so numbers.

6 - the number of puke puddles I've had to clean up

1 - the number of children who were responsible for half of the puke

1 - the number of cats who were responsible for the other half

34 - the number of times I gagged and dry heaved as I cleaned up the puke

3 - the number of times I had to chase the cat away from eating its own puke

9 - the number of miles I've ridden my bike while the little twins rode their scooters alongside me

4 - the number of times I said, "Okay, let's cross the street but be sure to stay in the cross walk."

7 - the number of times I screamed, "Stay in the freakin' cross walk for God's sake!  Do you want to get run over by a car?!"

2 - the number of times the little smart asses laughed and said, "Yeah, that would be cool"

5 - the number of times I warned the little twins about the uneven cracks in the sidewalk

5 - the number of times the little twins flew over the handle bars of their scooters every time they ran over the uneven cracks in the sidewalk

25 - the number of minutes one of them cried afterwards, even though I had already hugged him for...

3 - the number of minutes I comforted the crying child

2 - the number of annoying strangers who asked me if I knew that one of my kids was crying

8 - the number of times I threatened to never bring them on a bike ride with me ever again

0 - the number of times I'll probably follow through on that threat because I have no choice but to bring them along

3 - the number of dinners I made that my family truly enjoyed

1 - the number of dinners I made that my family truly hated

5 - the number of times I said "tough luck" to the family members who dared to complain out loud about the meal

2 - the number of pounds I've lost since my holiday eating frenzy

165.5 - the number of minutes I get complete peace and quiet while the kids are in school (even though one kid is home sick)

23 - the number of times I laughed at myself for thinking I might actually miss the kids once they were back in school again after winter break

How's your first week of the new year going?? Registered & Protected

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How to talk to your children about the death of a pet...

Our winter break got off to a fabulous start, with the kids and I super excited about all the fun adventures we were going to experience on our days off together.

Unfortunately, our plans came to a screeching halt with the sudden, unexpected death of our beloved cat, Ivy, on Christmas eve morning.

Granted, she was almost 12 years old but she appeared to be a happy and healthy cat.  Due to the extremely cold weather, she had been staying indoors mostly for the last few weeks, enjoying being cuddled by the kids and spending time our family.

The evening before she died, the kids kissed her goodnight, as they always did.  And when I went to sleep, she was snoring at the edge of the bed, perfectly content.

I heard her leave the room somewhere around 5:45 am and then I heard a loud hissing sound downstairs, as if maybe she found one of the kittens eating her food.

Shortly after, Tim came into the room and said, "Ivy just died."

He wasn't sure exactly what had happened but when he heard her hissing, he turned on the light just in time to see her fall over on the floor.  Startled, he attempted to give her CPR but her death was quick and he was unable to do anything.  All we could assume was that she must have had a heart attack.

After placing her body on a blanket and putting her near the garage door, we both went back to bed, though neither of us could sleep.  We were heartbroken, having just lost a cherished member of our family.  And heartsick, knowing we would have to tell the kids, especially on Christmas eve day of all days.

Neither Tim nor I had a clue how to talk to the kids about Ivy's death so I googled the topic but found nothing helpful.

So we just followed our hearts and prayed for guidance, as we informed our young children about the death of their loving pet, who had been part of our family for their entire lives.

Here's what we found was helpful for our family:

*  Be honest but avoid using phrases like "she went to sleep" or "her body was tired".  We didn't want the kids to be afraid to go to sleep and we certainly didn't want them to fear they might die when their bodies feel tired.

What we did tell them was that she had lived a long, happy life and it was her time to go.  She had the best life that a cat could have, filled with joy and love.

And now, she was at Rainbow Bridge, with our bunnies who had died years ago and with Grandpa's dog, Winston.  She wasn't lonely, sad or scared.  Just happy and carefree.

*  Let them express their emotions, however they see fit.  They may burst into tears immediately, like Cole did, or they may look to one another to see how they should react, which is what the little twins did since they were unsure of how to react.

They may cry off and on over the next few days or they may not.  The important thing is to allow them to express their emotions freely and comfort them.

Don't tell them to "get over it already" or to stop being a cry-baby.  The only way to get over a loss is to go through the natural grieving process and everyone's way of handling their grief is different.

Respect your child's way of handling his/her grief.

* Give them the choice of seeing the pet one last time (if circumstances allow, of course).  We couldn't decide if it would be more harmful for them to see Ivy to say goodbye or if they were better off just remembering her the way they saw her last.  Ultimately, we decided to give them the option because we thought it would seem more "real and permanent" to them if they made the choice for themselves.

When they decided they did want to see her one last time, we prepared them by saying, "She won't look the way she did last night when you said goodnight to her.  She'll be very still and she won't react to your touch.  And her body may not feel warm when you touch her."

* Be prepared for them to talk about death and ask a lot of questions.  And I mean, endless questions about heaven, God, death...the list goes on.

Be honest with your kids about what you believe happens to us after death.  If you honestly don't know what you believe, it's okay to say "Honey, I don't really know."  Just don't lie to them or sugarcoat it but do be gentle and explain it in child-friendly terms.

We told our kids that while Ivy's body was still here with us, her spirit left her body immediately and went to Rainbow Bridge.  A person's and animal's spirit is what makes them...well, THEM.  

*  Be prepared for them to ask for another pet, almost immediately.  They may or may not ask for a new pet but if your kids are anything like our kids, they may think going out and getting another pet who looks exactly like the lost pet will make them feel better and/or replace the lost pet.

We told our kids that there was no other animal in the world who would be exactly like Ivy, even if we were to find another cat who looked just like her.  No one is replaceable.

And while it was true that getting a new pet might make them feel better, it would only be a temporary feeling.  The best way for them to recover from their grief is to feel it and work through it.

*  Tell friends and family it's okay to talk about the pet in front of the children.  Our family members wanted to avoid talking about Ivy because they didn't want the kids to feel sad, especially on Christmas day.

But we told them we were encouraging the kids to talk openly about can't sweep death under the carpet and we didn't want the kids to feel like they couldn't talk about it whenever they wished to.

*  Plant a memorial stone or plaque somewhere in your yard so the kids have a special place to go when they feel sad or want to "visit" the pet.  We chose to have Ivy cremated and have her ashes scattered in a field by our vet's office but one of her favorite places in the yard was under our peach tree.  It was always a sure bet that that's where we'd find her when she was outdoors...under the peach tree, enjoying the shade and the cool dirt.  When spring comes around, we plan to put a plaque under the tree with Ivy's picture on it, in her honor.

Our beloved Ivy, rest in peace
  January 2000 - December 2011 Registered & Protected

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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