Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Top 10 Reasons I Can’t Wait to Get Home From a Trip

Our recent Thanksgiving trip reminded me of the joys we face each time we travel. We do it to see loved ones. We do it for fun. We do it because we can’t spend 365 days holed up in this house together. Why not take our craziness on the road, spend a load of cash, and wonder why we don’t do this more often? That’s what I’m wondering by the end of every trip….

10) My daughter, who can hold it all day no matter how much I beg, suddenly has to go when we’ve reached the rural part of our trip and no businesses can be seen for many miles.

9) When the cooler is empty, the kids can’t agree on which disgusting fast-food restaurant we’ll dine at. Then whoever picked it will inevitably not like their dry, crusty meal. Someone always has to return to the counter for sauce, and the workers don’t see you standing there no matter how long you patiently wait.

8) At any roadside location the bathroom stalls, hardly large enough for me to turn around and squat in, can be excruciatingly small when you are trying to avoid the liquid on the floor, cover the seat with tissue, and keep your daughter’s pants from touching anything. Somehow I have managed on past trips to hold an infant on my hip, expertly maneuver button and zipper with one hand, and keep my toddler standing and out of said puddles with my patented whisper-scream all in this 1-foot-by-1-foot space. Oh it can be done.

7) The kids fight for the top bunk, bottom bunk, left side of the bed, or right side of the bed, and the loser makes sure the night is ruined for the rest of us. One kid wants the light on; one wants the light off. One wants music on; one does not. Just GO TO SLEEP!

6) The later the kids go to bed, the earlier they wake up in the morning.

5) Forgetting my husband’s deodorant means he has to use mine. He smells lovely and breezy for a few hours. When I use my tube the next day, I find some really, really long hairs glued to it. Gross.

4) No matter what thrilling event you have spent hours planning for the next day, the kids will gripe that it’s boring and their feet hurt, and you can forget any educational stuff you looked up. They don’t want to hear it.

3) The last hour of the trip, they must ask every two minutes, “When are we going to be there?” Now I know how my dad felt.

2) When we finally pull in the driveway, the kids can only carry one thing and they both have to go to the bathroom—the same one—at the same time.

1) Man, I don’t care how much laundry there is. There’s no place like home.

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It’s All About Me

So it looks like I’ve been given a blogging award by Mommy Said a Swear Word. It’s kind of a cool feeling to be honored for something that I put quite a bit of effort into. I mean, I think about it often. I spend time with it. I nurture it. I’ve watched it grow. And for my hard work and loyalty—and so soon after my blog’s birth—I have this lovely badge of honor to proudly display. Someone likes what I do. They appreciate me. I don’t know what to say. Just, thank you.

It is mind-blowing, this praise thing. There has to be a way to get our kids into this award business. It would be pretty cool if, say, instead of during a quiet meal that I think my son enjoys, he didn’t lean over to me and whisper, “This is disgusting.” I’d much rather be presented with a ribbon or a trophy or hear, “Thanks, Mom, for a warm meal every night.” But, hey, that’s just me maybe?

So to proceed with the acceptance of this award, I must reveal seven secrets about myself. Since I am quite the boring mom, really, and have no secrets that I can think of (or can remember anyway), I’ll tell you seven things about me that you may or may not want to know.

1) I am terrified of heights. In movies where a character is faced with a scene on a ledge or something equally horrific, my palms sweat, I go weak and panic. I’m having trouble typing this just thinking about it.

2) My job as a reporter many years ago allowed me to do some really cool things and meet some awesome people. I flew in a four-seater airplane (couldn’t look down!) and then wondered the whole time why on earth I agreed to it.

3) I can touch my elbow with my tongue.

4) If my house caught on fire, I’d try to grab my recipe box (after my kids, of course). It is a large antique recipe box that I have put a lot of time into and all of those recipes are delicious. But I wouldn’t ask my kids for their opinion on that.

5) I do not like Elvis music. I never have. Never will.

6) I do, however, love old things. I collect jadeite dishes and vintage kitchen items, Art Deco pictures, and other odds and ends from the 1920s through ‘50s. They just don’t make stuff like they used to.

7) I love music, but I often cannot tell you who the singer is or the name of the song. When the show CSI first came out, I got caught singing the wrong lyrics. I wondered why they picked a song about New Orleans for a show based in Las Vegas.… “Neeeeeew Awlins, doop, do, doop, do.”

Now I have to list blogs I enjoy. I am just getting the hang of all of this to start actually following other people regularly, but here are a few that have caught my eye so far, a smorgasbord of fun spaces. I may have left someone out (blogroll to come soon). But really, go check these out.

Mommy Said a Swear Word

Messy Quest

Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen

Momma Be Thy Name

This Woman’s Work

The Unvarnished Mom

What I Meant 2 Say 

 

 

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Thanks a Lot

This is the time of year when we’re supposed to stop and count our blessings. As parents, we know better. Most of us pause several times daily, thankful for every little thing we have.

In honor of this holiday, I’ll tell you some of the many things I am thankful for.

I'm grateful for seeing the beauty of the world through my kids' eyes.

My husband. My partner in the perils of parenthood. I can’t count how many times he has walked in on the tail end of a flaming tantrum after work, and instead of walking out the door, he takes it like a man, often the hero of the hour. “Daddy!” All is often suddenly good with the world. He does the dishes, then plays with the kids for an hour before bed. No computer, no cell phone. Real quality time with his family, whatever the night may bring us. I am grateful for this man.

I am thankful for the two spirited, smiling beings who have stolen an incalculable amount of sleep from my life and nearly every inch of freedom with their demands and the insane amount of thought I feel compelled to give them. My kids, who from day one have been harder to figure out than any math class I have squirmed through, have upended my life so incredibly that if I really knew what having kids was about, I may have never wanted to have children in the first place. The rewards: Just hearing the word Mom is good for me.

As a mom, I’ve wished away many fevers, cuddled sick babies, and worked myself into a frenzy over the countless horrible diagnoses I’ve given my children from the Internet. I’m thankful that my children are healthy.

I’m secretly grateful for hurts only cured by Mommy’s hugs, books that are better read by Mom, and unexpected hugs. When my kids give me their worst, it’s these little things that get me through. I am grateful for every one of them.

I am so incredibly thankful for friends who can relate, who can laugh at our misery, and who don’t even flinch when I tell them we’ve just infected them all with strep.

I am thankful for the food we eat, the meals I slave over that the kids sometimes stick up their noses at and squirm in their chairs over and make an otherwise lovely meal unbearable.

Our home, though often cluttered and never glamorous, keeps us warm, comfortable, and safe. It is filled with love and silliness and often more dirt than I can keep up with. But I am ever so grateful.

I’m thankful for laughter. We make time together as a family. We play together. We eat together. We do so much together that we drive one another crazy, but we can always make each other laugh. It’s the unexpected that keeps us going, like when my husband tries to lick the cinnamon roll icing off his plate without being caught or jumps in the car and locks it during a rollicking game of tag. (Well played.) Or the many moments when the kids say something so out of the blue, there is no other choice but to laugh, no matter how inappropriate.

I’m grateful for family. We don’t have any family nearby, but emails and phone calls keep us connected until we can meet in person and remind each other of why we’re all so crazy. Darn those blood lines.

Being a mom has been so much more challenging and sometimes more painful than I ever imagined. I honestly thought it would be a breeze. Then I realized you can’t mold people. They’re already who they are and you have to learn to deal with their idiosyncrasies from the start. But I’m grateful that every day is new, my kids don’t hold grudges, we forgive, and we love.

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Sometimes the Kids Win the Battles

It has been weeks now since she’s seen it, asked for it, given me big blue eyes swelling up with tears. I try to stand my ground, be firm and strong. But those kids know how to break me sometimes. And sometimes, they win.

With my kids being 8 and 6, I felt like the days of noisy toys were behind us. On a shopping trip this month, my daughter fell in love with one of those annoying toys that barks and moves when you walk down the aisle. No, I said. A firm NO.

She has asked for that dog several times since, batting her eyelashes at me. Giving me puppy dog eyes so sweet that I have to turn away and think about how horrid she becomes when she screams about her homework and how mean I am for making her do it. “Please, Momma,” she whimpers for the little brown dog.

She already has something similar…that I hate, that she doesn’t play with. The answer is and always will be no. I won’t buy it, and even she can’t buy it. She cannot put it on her Christmas list.

But kids have a way of chiseling through a mom’s tough outer exterior. They chip and chip away. They wear down that enamel, tear through the layers. They beg and plead so much that I am sick to death of hearing about it. They break me down like a prisoner about to sign a confession to a crime I was nowhere near just to stop the harassment. Yep, those kids know what they are doing all right. And I had taken all the batted eyelashes and puppy dog eyes that I could until I found myself saying, “Put it on your Christmas list.”

What was that about? Ugh. She got me. She broke through and now I’m going to have to live with that annoying puppy dog yip and squeak for weeks until it breaks or she grows tired of that stupid toy and it ends up at the bottom of her closet.

I broke down. I gave in. Just get the stupid thing. I can’t take it anymore. Sometimes my kids wear me so completely down, it’s just not worth the fight at all. Parents are supposed to pick their battles, and I do. But it’s rough when you realize that after putting up what you think is a good fight, you realize you were outwitted all along and you just never really had a fighting chance. I should have saved all that energy for a battle that really mattered.

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The Picture—and What the Boys Saw

For a week my son had been waiting for the new Lego Club magazine with all the vigor of a dirty old man sitting on a park bench watching for the next caboose to jiggle by. I could almost see him licking his chops, chuckling in creepy delight.

When my son revealed to me that this new magazine had a naked girl in it, I knew better but he couldn’t be swayed. “She’s naked and they show her back and her butt,” he giggled in delight.

The boys at school had already brought in their copies. I could just see them huddled around this fantastical image of something they thought they were seeing, pointing and whispering at things that surely weren’t there, hiding this golden gem when the teacher walked by.

Each day after school, my son groaned when his magazine turned up absent in the mailbox.

I asked him why he was so interested anyway. The answer? Simple. He wanted to see a naked girl. Son, you and most of the rest of the boys in the world.

He said he knows what he looks like. And it’s been many years since he’s walked in on me getting dressed. As hard as it is when your kid starts thinking about that, it’s normal. It’s innocent. What is so secret and hush-hush? Kids are curious. And when you think you see something in a magazine that you’re not supposed to see, that makes it all the more tantalizing.

When my son’s magazine finally did come, I handed it to him and he took off wearing a smile. He tore through the pages and I heard those giggles again.

What did I find when I came to inspect this naked lady in all her bare-bottomed glory? A 1×2-inch photo of the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides cover. The woman was the size of my thumbnail. I needed a magnifying glass to see her parts.

Good grief. Males. Idiots.

I went online and blew up the photo, along with his dreams. “Do you see this picture?” I asked him. “Do you see what she is?”

“A mermaid,” my son answered.

“Yes, that’s not her butt. There’s no crack. She has a fish tail.”

His face went blank. For a second.

“She still doesn’t have anything up top,” he countered.

I guess sometimes you don’t have to see to believe.

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Little Hands

Each morning I stand at the door clad in flannel pajamas, with raccoon eyes, hair still worn down from my pillow the night before. I catch a glimpse of eyes peeking over the door and two little hands waving at me from the back seat of my husband’s car as they leave for school.

Sometimes they wave for a long time. Sometimes it’s a quick wave thrown at me to make me happy. Sometimes they don’t wave because they are already busy talking or it’s been a bad morning and they left the house mad at me. And sometimes I can see my daughter waving frantically, mouth open and set in a smile like she has just seen me for the first time in 20 years.

Little hands love to help me cook.

This is a part of my day I don’t want to miss. If I’m in the bathroom, I tell my husband to wait. He doesn’t understand this, why I must see these little hands waving every day.

Those little hands, once so tiny, would reach out for me in their sleep to make sure I was still there. They once spent so much time practicing motor skills, picking up Cheerios and trying to pick up droplets of water with a serious amount of concentration.

Those little hands once smeared you-know-what on my bathroom door. Now they slam doors. They became so frustrated with the pain of holding pencils and crayons and threw them down in anger. Now those little hands write all the time and type and hold books open to read.

They learn to cook alongside me, measuring, pouring, chopping, stirring, and tasting. They string beads and cut tiny bits of paper that I find all over my floor. They learn to sew with plastic needles and felt.

Little hands used to poke me in the face in the middle of the night. Now they gently shake my arm. They play with my hair and style it with dozens of clips and then hold the mirror so I can admire my new look.

They put together Lego sets with skill and can finally dribble a basketball and catch a pop fly. They draw amazing pictures of animals and take pictures of even more.

Those little hands fit perfectly in mine and I hold them tight whenever the kids give me a chance. Those days are numbered.

I hope one day those little hands will grow up to do amazing things and they’ll have little hands of their own to hold. It won’t be long before those little hands are driving themselves to school, and then I’ll want them both to stay on the wheel. But I’ll still be standing at the door, watching them go.

 

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A Boy and a Camera

One thing my family can agree on is animals. Watching them, learning about them, it’s something we all get in on. But my son can read a book about animals, absorb it, and relay the facts to you repeatedly. Often more times than you want to hear them. He constantly begs us for sometimes bizarre pets: a huge saltwater aquarium for his room, lizards of all sorts, alpacas, sheep, horses.

When he learns about an animal, his first question is always, “Can you have it as a pet?” My frequent response is, “If you live on a farm.” When he grows up, he plans to live on a farm and have all of these animals, but he’ll need my help of course. Well, he is welcome to do that but I’m no farmhand.

In your face. Taken by my son, 8.

This weekend we went to a nearby science center. My kids love to visit the animals and have been bringing the camera on recent visits. Soon I fear we will have more pictures of these animals than we do of the kids.

The kids fought over the camera, each having to get a shot of each animal. I’ve been through this more than once now. But I see something there, a talent that my son doesn’t yet feel. He is actually pretty good at this photography thing. I try to give him a few pointers without interfering too much, you know, that nagging thing moms do. Animals are like kids and you have to be patient, I told him several months ago. Wait for the shot. Zoom in. Hold still.

And this weekend he did. I think he’s a natural.

So many times, for other things, I have to constantly remind him. But not about this. He takes the camera, seeks out a subject, frames it, shoots. Unfortunately, past subjects have included my rear end in a pool with plans of making a poster-size print for his wall. And other than that one, some of his pictures are pretty darn good.

My daughter’s unsteady hand captures shaky, fuzzy images. She’s only six. It’s hard to push the button, hold the camera, and get the shot before the animal darts away in a playful frenzy. Maybe she’ll get there too.

These guys are huge and my son loves them. We say hello to them at every visit.

Even sometimes now I don’t get close enough to my subject. My images sit too far off and framed by too much space.

But my son seems to know how to do it with not a lot of guidance. It’s neat to see something develop in your kids right before your eyes. To me, his pictures are worth more than words.

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Box of Germs

There’s a public place crawling with cooties, infested with every sickness known to motherhood, and filled with ear-piercing screams that frightens me, almost worse than any bathroom (not all of them, come on now). It takes my germophobia to a whole new level. It’s the pediatrician’s office.

As my kids and I waited one day this week to find out whether my daughter had strep (she did), my hysteria settled in.

Any time my kids and I visit that box of germs, I know we are gambling with our health. It’s not like school where there is a chance of getting sick. Real, live sick germs crawl all over this place day and night. You go in there, you will touch something that a sick person has touched.

My brain goes into overdrive. What do these kids have? Is it worse than what we have? What will we end up getting on our way out? I plop my kids in the seats farthest from anyone. I shriek-whisper to them not to touch anything. Repeatedly. We hand-sanitize several times a visit if necessary.

It’s a house of horrors where tortured kids scream in pain. My kids and I slink down in our seats and hope that’s not what’s in store for our tiny room. The other day a kid down the hall was screaming, “I can’t take it! You’re killing me!” Well, we couldn’t take it either. We were about to get our coats and tiptoe for the nearest exit.

Our doctor said it was an ear problem. I nearly collapsed at the memories of someone prodding in my ears as a kid and adult and my own threats to punch them if they didn’t stop. Who do these doctors think they are?

The good news is, I don’t need a therapist to help me figure out the traumatic event that triggered my germophobic behavior either. Many years ago during our first after-hours visit, my kids and I sat crammed into “the sick room” waiting for an hour to be seen. Everyone in that room looked sweaty and miserable and coughed. And coughed. And coughed.

I thought I had died and that was my hell. I tried to disguise the fact that I was using my hand as a germ shield over my nose and mouth. I stole bits of clean air when I could. I fought off a panic attack. I fidgeted in my seat. I made sure the kids didn’t touch anything or anyone. When would the stinking nurse call our name?! We were only there for an ear infection for Pete’s sake! Don’t they have a separate room for that?

When the kids were younger, one trip to the doctor so often led to a return visit within a week with what we caught there. We could have caught it somewhere else, but my kids weren’t in preschool at the time. The pattern fit. It was a running joke when we left the doctor. “I’m sure we’ll see you in a week.” Most of the time, we did.

I’m always thankful for our doctor’s wisdom—goodness knows he has shared a lot—and the medicine. But I am always ready to run out that door and into the fresh air because that’s a long time to hold your breath.

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