Sunday, June 28, 2015

It could have been worse...

The day started at 4:30am in the morning.  We were staying at my brother's house for the weekend to see his family and celebrate my niece's 3rd birthday.  The weekend was lovely: Mom's amazing bday dinner on Friday night (sans kids!); Allie's party at an awesome park the next day; a couple visits to the pool; and family dinner again on Saturday night.  I traveled alone with the kids so Joe could have some productive time to work on Big Jeep before he posts it FOR SALE (for sale!) and bids it a final good bye.  Don't worry, he has a second Jeep already awaiting his time and attention.  But Garrett told me by 5:00am that it was going to be the worst day ever.  He'd already thrown up twice and his sister was screaming to go downstairs to eat "lunch" and play.  "No it won't, buddy.  It could always be worse.  We'll be fine today."

By 5:15 the kids and I were in the playroom.  I made a pallet for Garrett on the floor; tried to steal his pillow any second he wasn't using it; played referee to keep the peace between siblings; and was about to lose my mind with every possible electronic sound playing at its loudest volume.  Damn you, Fisher Price and VTech, et al.  and all of your battery operated toys!  Within the hour I was clawed in the face, nearly hit in the head with a plastic hammer, was blockading the door to keep the kids and noise confined to one room, had tamed numerous tantrums, and caught more puke.  Twice.

By 7:30 my brother was out the door to the airport to catch a plane for a work trip.  Lucky dog.  My niece and sister in law were awake and I was ready for some cartoons and coffee.  By 8:30 Katharine was on my lap and in my face.  And then she bumped my coffee with her flailing feet.  Most of the weekend she'd been super cranky, clingy, and fussy,  and I'd finally had it.  I flew off the couch so fast and declared, "That's it!  We're out of here!  I'm done!"  I whizzed around the house like a bat out of hell, throwing all of our belongings in bags, packing the car, saying quick (guilt-ridden) good byes, and hit the the road by 8:45.  My sister in law has every right to think I'm nuts.  I couldn't take it anymore.  We needed to be back in our own house; I had to get a sick kid home; and for the love of the Toddler Gods my daughter needed to sleep and STOP CRYING.  And so began the 6 hours and 15 minute journey home.

Stop 1 was for coffee and bagels.  Stop 2 was for a potty break.  Stop 3 was for lunch.  Stop 4 was to administer a quick dose of medicine.  Stop 5 was one for the books.

But go back to Stop 3 for a minute.  Garrett had improved considerably!  He even gave me the thumbs up from the back seat and proudly declared, "Mom, I feel so much better!"  So far he'd kept down a bagel, grapes, and some pretzels.  At lunch he requested pizza.  Despite tossing his cookies so many times already, the kid had not lost his appetite.  But then he only ate a bite or two.  And before I could finish my sandwich, he was laying his head on the [sticky, nasty gas station] table.  And then the sense of urgency appeared on his face and the four of us hustled to the bathroom.  Let it be known that there is no stronger a bonding experience than waiting it out in the family bathroom at a gas station with all of my kids while the eldest lets everything come out of the other end.  And the smell, oh my gosh the smell.

Next stop, HOME!  Or so we thought.  Within a few minutes the kids were sleeping, but then Garrett started getting restless and whimpering and fussing that his head hurt.  I encouraged him to drink some water since he must be dehydrated from the day's events.  The pain intensified and in my pitiful effort to make him feel better I dug out some Tylenol from the diaper bag and stopped for the 4th time.  I didn't even have cup or syringe with which to measure it, so I eyeballed it in the cap and played it safe by giving him less instead of more.  Valiant effort until I saw that it expired last year.  #1 mom right here.  Five minutes farther down the road and he started screaming, "It's coming!"  I changed lanes as fast as possible and pulled over as soon as I could for stop #5.  We're on 95 North, Dear Lord keep us safe.  Even if I'd been able to get us to the side of the road in a blink of an eye it wouldn't have been fast enough.  There was puke  e  v  e  r  y  w  h  e  r  e.  And more was coming.  The stench was foul.  Gavin started gagging.  I started crying.  Katharine started fussing.  And poor Garrett was covered in tears, snot, and vomit.  I panicked: do I call my parents who are on the road 45 minutes behind me?!?!  Do I call Joe?!?!  Do I drive to a store?!?!  Deep breath.  No.  I got this. 

I hauled Garrett out of the car and stripped him down.  The weeds were up to his thighs.  I wiped him down with a towel and baby wipes and did my best to mask the eye-watering smell with scented hand sanitizer.  He got dressed and waited in the front seat.  Before addressing the car, I gave Gavin a quick wipe down too because he had Garrett's insides running down his legs into his shoes.  That's brotherly love right there.  Then I assessed the regurgitated chunks that lie in my van and car seat and watched vomit run down the cushions and nearby library books.  A hundred wipes and a roll of paper towels later, I had three plastic grocery bags tied tight, towels on the floor and strategically placed in Garrett's seat, and the windows rolled down for maximum ventilation for the remainder of our drive.  

So maybe Garrett was onto something when he mentioned it was going to be a rough day.  His body was telling him something.  We indeed made it home in one piece and the silver lining is that my car got a complete interior detailing.  It is in these rough moments that I quickly find perspective and wonder how single parents do it; how parents with chronically sick children do it.  How lucky are we in the first place to be driving a nice car; to have money to stop and get what we need when we need it; to have spent a weekend with family; and to arrive home to a very willing and helpful husband who got things back in order before the sun was down.  Perspective.  And car deodorizer. 

It could have been much worse.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

There's more to her than meets the eye...

Summer has been awesome so far...awesome in a go-somewhere-everyday kind of way.  Really all year long our days are action packed,but add in the heat, Richmond's soupy humidity, constant packing and unpacking of the car, never ending lunch making and lunch cleaning up (whether at home or on the go picnic style), and Katharine's insistence on waking up at 5:03am every day, and I'm peel-my-eyes-open-tired each morning.  Not to mention emotionally spent by 6pm each day.  Ok more like 2:30, but a mid afternoon coffee break gets me to 8:00 each night.  

So this morning when I'm on the phone with Joe talking about what's been bothering both of us (ok, just me, but you know because I'm a girl I project it onto him because us females are sometimes difficult), I actually acknowledge that the kids are playing together nicely upstairs and there's a chance I can get the cooler packed in one shot.  AND all of it done with two hands because usually there's a certain someone who ALWAYS wants to sit on my hip.  And hit me in the face.  And run her fingers through my hair.  And bonk my head.  And bite my shoulder.  And wrap her arms around my neck.  And maybe I can accomplish this task without someone needing a band aid, pulling at my shirt, opening the refrigerator, needing me to fix a toy, or asking me for a snack (even though breakfast was just 30 min ago).  There's no doubt that I love the 30 sticky fingers that leave messes everywhere or the sing-song voices of my three off-spring, but there's also no denying that they can make the simplest tasks HARD.  Like leaving the house is ALWAYS a shit show.  Which blows me away, because if we've been up for HOURS, why is it so difficult to get somewhere on time. 


After said conversation with Joe, I finally (finally!) reach the insurance lady to start the claims process on some car repairs I need done as the result of a minor fender bender that happened last week.  "Is this a good time?"  she asks.  "Yes!  My kids are content for a few minutes," I respond. 

Quite content indeed.  Until I hear from the top step, "Mommy!  Finger!"  I reply to my littlest's commands with, "What happened to your finger?"  "Wipe!" she says.  "What do you need a wipe for, Sweets?"  I ask while walking to see what's she's managed to get herself into.  As I approach the top of the staircase I spy a baby doll face down.  The gift wrap closet is open and spools of ribbon are strewn about.  As is some glittery garland I didn't even know we had.  And then I see her.  Sweet Katharine in a puddle of red craft paint.  With red fingers and streaked red legs.  Who's also rubbed down her baby doll in the same red paint.  Wow, ok.  "Let's get some wipes," I exhale. But before I'm back with wipes, Katharine's gotten herself to the bathroom with the red streaked baby doll.  And what better place to bathe a doll than in the toilet.  The toilet that never gets used and has a water ring so disgustingly embarrassing that I'm actually glad I got a chance to notice it so I could give it a quick scrub. 

Fast forward five minutes and this same sweet girl of mine has gotten hold of a Sharpie and figured out how to open the DVD drive on the computer, at which I'm sitting trying to finish an email I started the day before and forgot about.  Because you know, mom ADD.  And what better place to practice handwriting skills than on the disc holder that pops out.

And those peas she shoved up her nose the other night at dinner?  Only one made it out.  A few days have passed and she's no worse for the wear.

Today on the playground...sweat running down her face, her mouth and cheeks covered in chocolate, and blond whispies sticking out from under her hat...a well meaning onlooker at the playground asks me if I worry that she's in the middle of all of the big kids on the jungle gym.  Aka, implying I should probably be watching her more closely.  "Oh, she's fine," I assure her.  "In the middle of things is where she likes it best.  She has two big brothers to keep up with at home and she holds her own!"  All this said as she comes whizzing down the slide and then scrambling up the steps to do it all over again.

Girl has spunk.  She's also independent.  Strong willed.  Feisty.  Funny.  Smart.  Talkative.  Persistent.  Articulate.  And knows how to win you over or stare you down with a shift of her eyes.  Qualities that are admirable, but qualities that also test my limits.  I'm often told she looks as angelic as a porcelain doll, but give her a minute and you'll see there's more to her than meets the eye with this one.

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.

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