Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Holiday cheer is a lie. Toddlers are hard. Four year olds are bratty. Cold coffee sucks. Today needs a do over. - THE REST OF THE STORY

I posted a status update on Facebook today that got quite an empathetic response.  It's always nice to know I'm not alone.  I'm also a big proponent of keeping it real.  For all the cutesy, 'perfect' scenarios that fill the camera on my phone and tint my memories through rose colored glasses, a good dose of reality is an honest reminder of the madness that is motherhood.

I found myself at Target tonight in the checkout line at 9:36pm.  As I reached for my wallet in my purse I saw a Highlights magazine, a seek and find picture, a toy truck, a half empty water bottle, little boys underwear, a diaper, a plastic t-rex, and a yellow ball.  When I finally found my wallet I paid for, among other things, an opened package of strawberry fruit roll-ups.  I ate had shoved two of them in my mouth as I stood in the children's shoe section and relished in the fact that I was not refereeing bickering siblings or prying paws off me that wanted whatever I had.  I was alone, and minus the cheery damn holiday music playing in the background, it was quiet.

After my fruit roll-up bender I loaded up on supplies for projects/activities related to our Advent calendar.  I originally filled each day with a couple M&Ms for each kid.  Yes, even some for my almost 17 month old because to deal with the wrath of not giving her what her brothers have is just not in me if we are to last until Christmas morning.  On Dec. 2 Garrett helped himself to the day's treats before I was even downstairs for the day.  Gavin found out and begged for his portion before breakfast.  I said no.  Tantrums ensued.  Reasoning was a lost cause.  I warned that if all this mayhem continued the calendar would be put away.  Within seconds I marched upstairs with it.  I emptied the candies, returned downstairs with everything, and had Gavin pull out the trashcan as I threw all the chocolate morsels away.  Damn.  Now what?  I want this Advent calendar tradition to work!  I want it to be meaningful!  I want them to look forward to it each day, damn it! (Um, can we say Type A?  Control freak?)

That night I brainstormed activities we could do together each day of the month to highlight giving to others and spending time together.  This morning they pulled out a note that read 'Make a Christmas countdown chain.'  Their response: scowls.  grumbles.  "I don't want to do that!"  "I want a treat!"  Awesome.  Winning.  I gave it a few minutes, got myself and everyone else ready for the day, and started on breakfast and school snacks.  Somewhere in all of that all hell broke lose.  The whining resumed.  The bickering started.  And to add to the tension, nothing could make my fussy toddler happy.  I put the wrong water bottle in the wrong school bag.  I set the wrong colored cup on the wrong place mat.  I peeled one kid's orange when he wanted to do it himself and I didn't peel the other kid's orange when he wanted me to.  And then the musical Frosty starting singing and dancing and   I.   LOST.   IT.

I yelled.  I kicked.  Frosty died (don't worry, I fixed him later on).  I checked out.  The boys packed the rest of their own snacks and school bags, poured their own drinks for breakfast, and got their own silverware for their eggs that I barely threw onto their plates.  One son caught on quick, took care of business, ate, and even thanked me.  The other son continued to cry, had no idea what to do, and needed reminders to eat because I was not reheating his breakfast.  It was a glorious morning.  I felt worthless.  Mom guilt at its finest.  I wasted a teachable moment and all meaning behind the damn Advent calendar was lost.  

And then after pre-school drop off I went to my weekly bible study where the lesson was all about second chances.  You can't tell me there's no such thing as divine intervention.  So after school we talked and apologized and regrouped and got excited about the day's Advent calendar activity (although we switched it to making cards for someone serving our country and saved the countdown chains for Friday).  The rest of our day was relatively uneventful, even if dinner was a bust (doesn't everyone accidentally thaw a loaf of banana bread instead of a meatloaf?).  The lit Christmas tree provides much entertainment (ok, and a bit of stress every time Katharine goes within three feet of it) and magic and the boys somehow knew to smother me with kisses at bedtime, so there's hope...

But it all began with the chocolate.  And wanting more.  More.  More.  I won't start a tangent on how spoiled my kids are (they are) or the sense of entitlement kids have these days (Although I'm pretty sure it's developmentally appropriate for most 4 year olds to think the world revolves around them.  Considering I enjoy giving more than receiving, you can be sure we'll work on this for a lifetime.), but I fully understand why one mom and dad cancelled Christmas.   My kids have so much, yet they never seem to have enough.  It's sickening.  And with Christmas just weeks away the amount of STUFF they have is just going to grow.  And will it be the right STUFF?  Was it the red Transformer or the red and white Transformer?!?!  Is it the tie sneakers or the Spider Man shoes?!?!  It's not the cheer and magic and spirit of the season I want to take away, but the hustle and bustle of buying more and more STUFF needs to be reigned in.  Most importantly I just want to instill in my children a sense of gratitude for what they already have and appreciation for the generosity of others who lovingly give to them.  We are fortunate to have family that spoils us, and I'm just as guilty, but shame on me/us/you for letting the madness cloud each year's holiday cheer.

Ok, so pass the eggnog, please.  
Make it extra strong.  
And have a Merry Christmas! (insert plastered, fake smile here)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summertime is so so good

It was a zoo-going, not-too-hot, 5-mile-run, new-cooking-store-field-trip, solo-shopping, errand-running, wild-Saturday-night-with-friends-in-their-backyard-and-margaritas-in-hand, sleep-training-success, Krispy-Kreme-drive-thru, Redskins-training-camp-visit, all-three-kids-napping, Netflix-bender, chocolate-chip-eating-binge, garden-picking, football-throwing, vodka-tonic, kiddie-pool, naked-baby-swimming, all-around-ideal kind of weekend.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

For every blunder there's a save

Four months after our move in day we've finally started the painting process.  While we actually like most of the colors that already exist on the walls, we're ready to make the house feel like ours and change things up a bit.  We've started in the kitchen and after staring at 10+ color samples and making countless trips to Home Depot, we settled on a color (none of which was one of the samples on the wall, go figure), and got to work.   That means for the last two nights we've been up until 1-2am rolling, cutting in, and touching up (mind you Joe was at it all weekend doing prep work and my main job was just to keep the kids busy and out of his way).  It doesn't sound so bad, and in all honesty I'm in love with how the space is turning out.  But throw in a one year old who still wakes up twice a night and   I   am   tired   today.

 So tired, in fact, that I showed up at the playground this morning for a play date and it's actually scheduled for tomorrow.  

So tired, that for the second week in a row I've forgotten that it's trash day, so the cans sit quite full in our driveway.  

So tired, that when pulling out of the grocery parking lot, I backed into my shopping cart that still had a watermelon sitting in it.  

My brain is mush and I  assume mommy brain is permanent.  BUT every now and then this mommy brain has a bright idea and things do indeed go better than planned...

Victory #1 - Last week my friends and I drove the kids to pick peaches and my usual go-to orchard wasn't open for peach picking that day.  But then plan B unfolded and we ended up 25 minutes further west at a charming, much more kid/stroller accessible farm, with loads of peaches, ice cream for all, and King Family Vineyard less than 5 minutes away.  And when one of my favorite vineyards is that close it can only mean one thing: picnic lunches, playtime for the kids, and wine time for the moms.  Perfect play date!

Victory #2 -  I've signed the boys up to play soccer in the fall.  They'll (hopefully) be on a team with two of their favorite buddies.  So to give them an idea of what soccer is all about I got tickets to one of our city's professional soccer team's games.  I know nothing about the game, but even I can follow it and enjoy it.  The boys weren't so sure at first, but four days have now passed and they're still talking about "those really fast guys" on the field and the cotton candy they enjoyed.  Saturday night success!

Victory #3 - So I made plans with one of my old running buddies to have lunch at our house on Monday.  He was bringing sandwiches and I assured him I'd have treats on hand.  We hung up the phone last week and I never wrote it on the calendar.  The calendar that I live and die by each day.  And so I forgot about it.  Instead I had our cooler packed and the kids and myself set for the pool that day.  That is until my phone rang with my friend on the other end making sure we were still on for the day.  "Yea that sounds great," I said!  Ooops.  Explaining to two 4 year olds that there's been a last minute change in plans isn't the most fun, but when I suddenly realized our sweet across-the-street neighbor offered for us to use her pool anytime, I had the genius notion to head over and get in a quick swim before our lunch date arrived.  Day saved!

I'd like to think that for every blunder there's a save.  So take that, mushy/mommy brain.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Boyhood, personified

On this day last year the boys and I were playing with some of our favorite friends at their grandmother's pool.  The boys finally got comfortable using their floaties to help them swim in the deep end (my only way to manage both boys in the water...I don't care how much the local swim school shuns them), Cherie and I enjoyed talking, swimming, playing, and snacking.  I appreciated the weightlessness I felt in the water since  I was set to deliver Katharine in 5 days.  Cherie's mom insisted I wasn't going to make it that long.  She was right and the little lady made her appearance the very next morning.  But tomorrow we will honor Katharine and her happy, busy year.

Right now I'm going through pictures of the last year with which to fill her baby book (always a procrastinator!), and I'm reminded of how much her brothers have grown too.  There is no more baby look to their faces, but thankfully the sweet sing-song, expression-filled sound still exists in their voices; their shaggy dirty blond hair stays in its constant state of bed-head; and their imaginations have exploded.  They've made best buddies, chat amongst themselves and share jokes and made-up words, tell me to leave if I'm hovering too much, adored their year at pre-school, bravely tackle water slides, show no fear in their Jeeps, remember details that I overlook, request sleepovers with their grandparents, tell me funny stories, and are starting to demonstrate unique strengths and likes.  They're such little men.

Above all, they dote on their sister.  They cheer her on, notice her new skills and tricks, encourage her with new words, make sure she's safe, and are sure to remind me when she needs me.  They are so good with her and Katharine is one lucky gal.  In the early weeks of us adjusting as a family of 5, Gavin stated about Katharine's frequent crying, "Mommy, I don't think she likes us very much."  But my how far we've all come! 

In these pictures is boyhood, personified.  Long gone is their babyhood, and it happened so fast.
popsicle mustache, truck, skinned knees
photo credit to Aunt Dottie
run, jump, wild, free
photo credit to Aunt Dottie

Friday, June 13, 2014

On this day my dad became Dad

34 years ago today ago this guy became a dad.  It's a full moon.  It's Friday the 13th.  And it's my birthday.  I was born on a Friday the 13th.  My mom labored for almost 26 hours to get me out.  We lived in Germany.  My parents were young.  Dad says watching his own age increase doesn't make him feel old, it's saying how old his own kids and grand kids are that really hits him.  Dad will now say, "I have a daughter who's 34, a son who's almost 32, and five grand kids ages 2 months to 4 1/2.  Hmm, cool."

To celebrate my special day Joe and I enjoyed dinner out last night (delish) and today the kids, Hannah, and I will play at Jumpology.  Doesn't every 34 year old play at Jumpology on their birthday?!?!  Tonight my cousin will be in town and he's joining us for dinner along with my parents before we all head to the beach for a family reunion tomorrow.  Seriously, I have all I could ever ask for: 

But as Father's Day approaches this weekend, this post is about Dad.  He's a good one
This guy is a hard worker.  I remember him diligently studying at our dining room table (my brother and I were 5 and 7) working towards his Masters Degree.  My mom was gone for three months on a military assignment (Dad had just gotten out of the Army; Mom stayed in for a while longer) and our baby sitter, Julie, came each week to help with dinner and baths and homework so Dad could go to class and get his work done.  Now that I have little kids running around my house I have no idea how he pulled this off or got anything done.  He made dinners (often Ukrops pizza or grilled cheese sandwiches and soup), packed lunches (always cutting our sandwiches on the diagonal), braided hair, ran gymnastics car pool, coached baseball, chaperoned field trips (that 2nd grade class trip to the Nutcracker with ice cream at Baskin Robins still stands out), made birthday treats for my friends at school (it's ok that the Rice Krispy Treats stuck together and were a globby mess), got me to the dentist for a root canal,  and somehow kept up with the house and yard while Mom was away. 
This guy is also patient and a good teacher.  He listened to my sob story over Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream after my first break up at age 14 (and subsequently listened to all the others thereafter too).  He taught me to always pay myself first when I started making my own money.  He didn't disown me when he had to answer the front door at 2am to find a police officer standing with me on our front porch.  He taught me the value of being honest.  He taught me to drive an automatic and then a stick shift and lost quite a bit of hair over both ordeals.  He used to take me out for lobster dinner on my birthday, just the two of us.  He's a great listener and gives great hugs.  He gets to know my friends and takes interest in them.  He's a good cook and excellent baker and we take delight in trying out recipes on each other.  He's a thinker, analyzer, researcher, and good judge of character.  And while I certainly might drive him a little nutty, he tolerates me pretty well.

The icing on the cake is that he's a great Pops too.
I thoroughly apologize, Dad, for breaking the "I won't share this" rule.  I had to.
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, DAD.  Certainly a few wordy paragraphs don't do you justice, but know you're cherished and well loved.

You Might Also Like

Thanks for visiting!