Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Back With a List

I've caught some sort of goop that's left me miserably croupy, and cold meds make me completely loopy. And as I drift in and out of consciousness on my couch, I am daydreaming of a day in which I could just stay in bed and sleep. Unfortunately, with a not quite two year old running rampant in the house, that is a luxury I do not have. So today's post is dedicated to reasons why mothers should be allowed sick days, or reasons why one should not blog while hopped up on cold meds, whichever more suits the bill. So without further ado, I leave you with the top ten things (Letterman style) my boys love to do when I am sick.

10. Trash the house. This should be a given, but there are those out there who are not yet parents and therefore not fully aware of a young child's 'parent is in the next room and too stupefied to move so lets massage grape jelly into the kitchen floor' philosophy.

9. Pull pillows out from under my head while I lay in surrender on the couch.

8. Host Scooby Doo Marathon days. Mom doesn't have the energy left to protest the multiple hours worth of consecutive Scooby Doo Dvd's that have been popped in her 5 disk DVD changer. And SOMEBODY (cough cough SMOOCHIE) knows it.

7. Interpret half hearted grunts as the answer yes to questions like, "Mom, can I have MORE CANDY?"

6. Chase each other around the house wearing nothing but underoos and diapers making monkey noises.

5. Giggle in a sadistic way while trying to see how high the rotini spaghetti needs to go into the air before making an audible splat on the floor- in the name of science, of course.

4. Take up target practice by aiming the newly issued Christmas nerf dart gun at the unwashed dishes sitting on the kitchen counter instead of windows and doors.

3. Be grateful mom takes on the 'just don't aim it at your brother's forehead' approach to her day.

2. Attempt to hang dirty socks from the Christmas tree.

1. Remove all jammies from the jammie drawer, spread them in a fine layer across the hardwood floor, then take a running belly flopping leap, slip and slide style. Implement a point system and see who can achieve the most air with the least amount of injuries.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Some day I will be able to sit and write out the complete story of this time in my life. Some day I will be able to sit on the other side looking back and see things in a larger perspective. Some day I will have picked up the pieces of myself that are scattered across the recent months and fit something back together that closely resembles who I am and the path I am meant to be on. Someday I will recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror.

But for now, although I can't piece together the bigger picture, I can see enough of it to know I'm caught up in a massive whirlwind of hurt, emotion, and loss. And both my head and heart know that I have fully stepped into one of the darkest and most confusing periods of my life.

I've been avoiding my blog for a while now, I'm hopelessly behind on reading the blogs I used to take such pleasure in reading. I recognize within myself some changes. I am and always will be an optimist. I will always strive to see the good in life. I will always seek the joy and the laughter. These things I know without doubt. What I didn't expect, though, was that I would ever have such difficulty seeing these things before me. Laughter doesn't arrive to my ears as easily as it did a few months ago- at least mine doesn't. The joy is still there, I just have to search harder.

It's not my intent to have a little pity party for myself, I am trying to share what is in my heart without stepping over boundaries and sharing more than I am able to. The end of any marriage is, of course, a sad event. But little by little I am discovering as each day passes that it is nothing shy of devastating. No matter who is at fault, no matter what things have expired, the end of a marriage isn't pretty. And I guess I figure if it wasn't painful then I probably shouldn't have been married in the first place.

I have made my recent focus on just simply making it through the holidays. After I've made it through this difficult time, I will reassess and adjust my goals. The Holidays for me have always had strong ties with family and tradition and great joy. This year has been something entirely new for me, so I feel myself tripping in the dark a little bit. Eventually I'll be able to discover the light switch- I'm just going to have to stumble across the room first. And in a way, I am breathing a sigh of relief that they are almost here and will be over soon.

I'm working on a post regarding New Years Resolutions, but I will say that one of mine for the new year will be to blog on a little bit more regular basis. The past few months have left me searching for the words to express myself, and I'm beginning to think there's no way past that other than to just do it. And in honor of my always look on the bright side of life philosophy, this will be the first holiday season in recorded memory when I will leave it weighing considerably less than I entered. And by holiday season I mean from the moment Reeses ships out its first shipment of Peanut Butter Pumpkins to the time one wakes up bloated and hung over on New Years Day after the cramming of non-diet allowed food and drink. And truly, that is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tantrums 101

Critter will be 2 years old in just over two months. I'm pretty sure he's a little go-getter because he's got a pretty hefty jump on just what it means to be a terrible two. To detail the specifics, he is strongly opinionated, screeches orders (that he fully expects to be obeyed IMMEDIATELY PEOPLE)no one but he can understand, and has been working hard at mastering the tantrum. As I've been watching him work earnestly at developing his tantrum skills over the past few weeks (months), I've also watched him develop a set of his own rules to further his objectives. He adheres strictly to his rules, and shows initiative when following them and flies by the seat of his pants when necessary- he should go far in life with his keen ability to 'wing it'. I tried to interview him for a tantrum article on my blog, but when approached he ran in the opposite direction screaming, "Goo Dish Kapoosh!" and went all paparazzi hater on me. So I will share with you a list of the tantrum rules that he previously provided for me instead.

Rule #1. When throwing your person on the ground, you must be aware of the possibility of hitting your head too hard on the floor. You can choose from the following two concussion free drop techniques: either knees, belly & arms, head, OR butt thump, yoga roll down, light head thump. Feel free to mix it up for variety.

Rule #2. Diaphragm diaphragm diaphragm. Acoustics mean nothing if you don't. Use. Your diaphragm.

Rule#3. Never leave a toy sitting within reaching distance of your chosen tantrum location. One can choose the following methods, but be sure to assess the situation as it arises and choose the one most likely to launch the toy into orbit. You may kick, throw, head butt, scoot, fling, or punch any toy within reach. You may also opt for the combination of the above best suited to scuttle your toy through the space time continuum. Keep in mind you get extra points if the toy launches again from a nearby wall or piece of furniture, and infinity points if you manage to break 'unbreakable' plastic. Silly grownups.

Rule#4. Location location location. Never throw a tantrum in your bedroom, your parent might just opt to walk out and close the door. Choose Wal-Mart over McDonald's- the acoustics are better and there's less competition. Never choose a room without an adult. If it looks like the adult is going to leave the room, pick the tantrum up and move it to the new location. You MUST appear cooperative and willing to move the tantrum to wherever the adult will be able to observe it, otherwise you are wasting your tantrum talents.

Rule#5. Do whatever it takes to ensure your tantrum will not be ignorable. I guarantee you that if your adult is smart they will attempt to employ the highly controversial 'ignore it and it will go away' technique at some point in the tantrum game. You MUST SQUASH THAT TECHNIQUE IMMEDIATELY. Borrow, beg, kick, stomp, throw, gnaw, scream. If you want to be a winner, you must do what it takes.

Rule #6. Longevity is the key to the game. If 15 minute tantrums don't cut the peanut butter, try 30. Be strong, be loud, be persistent.

Rule#7. And finally, if all else fails, move your tantrum location to the tops of your adult's feet. I only recommend the employment of this technique as a last ditch effort. Because, if you pull out this last stop, there's a chance of having a nap forced upon you. Use this method with caution. Trust me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th Snippets and a Celebration

I haven't offered up any Snippets in a while. In fact, I haven't been too horribly faithful about blogging lately, period. However, in honor of today's up close and personal encounter with Friday the 13th, I'm offering up 13 snippets, only I'm changing it up a little bit. My snippets all involve Friday the 13th, or the number 13.

1. Hurricane Charley made landfall in South Florida on Friday, August 13th, 2004.

2. On November 13th, 1974 (which was actually a Wednesday) the real life events that inspired the Amityville Horror Movie occurred.

3. On Friday April 13th, 2029, the asteroid 2004 MN4 will make its close encounter with Earth.

4. There were 13 participants in The Last Supper. Tradition states that Judas, who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table.

5. Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13.

6. The original United States flag contained 13 stars for the 13 founding colonies.

7. The Francis Ford Coppola version of Bram Stoker's Dracula was released in the United States on Friday November 13th, 1992.

8. Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th.

9. The real life events that inspired the movie Alive occurred on Friday, October 13th, 1972.

10. There are 13 in a Baker's dozen.

11. Every month that begins on a Sunday will contain a Friday the 13th.

12. There is at least one Friday the 13th in every calendar year.

13. I turned both 13 and 18 on Friday the 13th. And today, I turn 35. I have a special affection for my Friday the 13th Birthdays, a personal kinship. I will be celebrating with chips and salsa from my favorite Mexican restaurant (instead of cake) and spending time with the two most important people in my life- my two little guys. Oh. And a trip to Starbucks. (Clumsy oaf Chas happy dance goes here)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Fill Up

Critter is on the cusp of speaking. For a long while now, he has told elaborate stories, his big blue eyes sparkling and his little hands dancing around for added effect. I could watch him all day, painting his tales in the air with fat and sticky little jelly tainted fingers. And I do, my eyes bouncing back and forth between those hypnotizing eyes and the deliberate motion of his fat little arms like a mother's pendulum. All day long he shares his stories with me, and all day long I try to keep a straight face and carry on my end of the conversation. Our conversations are indeed two sided, but only one side of them is in English. The other one is in a much practiced language that consists of eternally long vowel conjugations, jiggly cheeks, and painting fingers.

He does say a few words, even if at this point they are approximations. Whenever his Daddy walks into the house, his feet take on a running cadence and his shouts loudly exclaim, "Dah!" as he runs to hug a couple kneecaps. If he's looking for his brother, he will knock on his bedroom door(this is almost sad to watch if Smoochie is in school), and lean in to press his little lips to the painted wood and proclaim, "Gaa!"

One of my favorites to watch is what sounds like little death threats in every parking lot we traverse, as each car passes us by, Critter waving one hand in an exuberant farewell while declaring his own verbal farewell, "Die Die". Every time I hear his approximation of Bye Bye, my mind automatically conjures up an image of SideShow Bob explaining, "No, it doesn't say Die Bart, Die, it says THE Bart, THE."

One of HIS favorite words is quite pleasing to hear. He uses it a million times a day, both as he is giving his Mama an offering of something torn, ripped, spilled, or broken (or simply sharing but at 20 months this is quite rare) and as he is given something he has asked for. He will focus on your eyes with his little blue sparklers and convey his thanks with a, "coo goo" (thank you). A million times a day I am blessed with an approximation of thanks.

Yesterday I started wondering why none of his approximations included my name. Ever. There's no ma, mama, mum, mom, or anything that even might remotely resemble any of the above forms for what I am called. And you know, I'm the one he's with 98% of his time. Bathings and feedings, diaper changes and kissed boo-boos, vastly performed by me. Heck, I'd be happy to hear an approximation of "Chas", as long as I could watch him joyfully paint the air with his fingers while he said it. But alas, there is nothing.

About the time I was thinking these things, he came and gave me a microscopic scrap of paper he had found in his spelunking adventures in his home, and engaged me in his conversation. Handing it to me like a new found treasure, he smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and stated, "Coo goo."

It was then that I realized I'd much rather hear my boy say thank you than Mama. A million times a day 'thank you' is much more pleasant to listen to than a million times a day 'Mama'. Maybe I should be thankful for what I have rather than longing for what I haven't got. I've got a high spirited, independent, engaging little boy who is healthy and cute as a button. Who cares if I ever hear the word, "Mom" from him? Thank you is enough. Thank you reminds me to be grateful.

Of course, it was as if he could read my thoughts in that moment. A short time later after a diaper change (and before the obligatory after diaper change tickle) his lips contorted into an unfamiliar shaping and uttered the sound, "Mmmmmmmmmmmum-mum."

(And of course) He was lifted up, squeezed to the point of popping, and peppered with kisses while he cried out in protest, "Aaaaaaaargh!" But it was too late, my heart was already overfull with thanks.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I need a laugh

If you've followed my blog for a while, you know I love to see the humor in life. No matter how dark things get, I seem to be an eternal optimist- but I find my stores of optimism are dwindling a bit. I know it's been a while since I've posted, please forgive me. I'm at a loss, currently, for something clever and witty to say. I'm working on it, but writer's block and a few other things have muddled my brain. So today, I'm asking you to help me. Please help me out- leave me a comment with a joke. Today, I need a little laughter to restore balance to my universe. Thanks for lending me your humor- be assured it will be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On Being Me

There are certain things in my life I can count on. The fact that my youngest son's morning diaper will peel paint from his bedroom walls daily. The fact that dishes will dirty, laundry will not wash its self, and little toys will find themselves in the oddest places- a matchbox car inside the diaper genie, a section of train track in with my dish towels. I can count on daily smiles and hugs (for now until they are too cool for mom) from each of my boys, and the glorious musical chime of their spontaneous laughter. I can count on the phrase that's thrown out each weekday by Smoochie while rushing out the door to catch the bus- "See you later, Alligator." And I can count on my daily response, "After while crock-eeee-dile."

During the week, things have taken on a sense of normalcy. I have essentially grabbed hold of myself by the scruff and shaken myself out of the moping and feeling sorry for myself stage. As each day passes, I have fewer weak moments (outwardly at least) and can at last breathe a little bit. During the week, when there are two boys to care for and a whirlwind of things to accomplish for them, it is becoming easier to accept the way things are.

I will not lie. It's hard not to hope I can reverse things. The reality that I'm standing on the precipice of divorce and will have to jump whether I like it or not is enough to leave me with anxiety attacks. After all, at some point I will have to jump off the ledge willingly or wait around for the push from behind- either way there's no turning back and either way will find me at the bottom.

This anxiety is easier to set aside during the week when I have to be strong for my boys. When they are there as a constant reminder of why life is good and glorious. It's easy to ignore a panic attack when Critter is busy acting like a giggly jack-in-the-box before launching himself at me with a little attack growl. It's easy to lose myself and my worries in the moment when I'm busy reading Harry Potter books aloud nightly to Smoochie (and listening to his giggles and gasps) while we enjoy a cup of warm caramel apple cider together.

With my great love and need to care for my boys, my weeks have become almost easy. But the weekends scare me.

The boys will be spending their weekends (away from me) with Bonehead. I don't worry about their safety for I know their father loves them every bit as much as I do, and will take great care of them. In fact, my fear has absolutely nothing to do with Bonehead.

I have heard choruses of "Oh honey, good for you. You get 'me time'. Oh how great, you get time to take care of you. Good for you to have time to yourself for a change." These phrases to me are the verbal equivalent of a haunted maze.

Here's the deal. I am on the brink of my 35th birthday. I pretty much know who I am as a person. I've got a pretty solid idea of myself and who I am in this world. I really don't need time to soul search- I have faith in God, and trust that he will help me to arrive on the other end of this every bit as optimistic good natured as I have been in the past. So essentially none of this scares me. Here's what does-

In my life, I have never just been me. In my younger years, I had my mom and sister, and throughout my teenage years I rarely went a month without a boyfriend (or two). I went away to college for a year and about the time when the whole 'just me' would have stepped into the normal course of things, there was a marriage. And now, at darn near 35, I am discovering that having been married since the ripe old age of 19, I have never in my life just been me. I have never had to rely on myself emotionally. Or in the middle of the night when the stresses of life creep into my blankets with me. Until now there's been a cohabitant. Someone with which to share these things and difficult moments with.

In my heart I know that I am strong and that I can face whatever life hands me with grace and dignity. Even so, the thought of being 'just me', of losing these things (to put it bluntly), scares the crap out of me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Description of a Night Terror

After a summer break, the Write Away Contest hosted by Michelle at Scribbit is back. October's topic is fear, and the following post was created as a submission. Thanks to Michelle for bringing the contest back after a brief hiatus.

Her sleep is a portal. She’s not known a full night’s peaceful sleep since that moment in childhood when they first found her and filled her with visions of her bed crawling with spiders and other such creepy crawlies to taunt a small girls mind. She’s an adult now, but that doesn’t mean she’s any less immune to them when they choose to approach. When she sleeps, somewhere within a dusty window into another dimension opens, and things cross over.

Sometimes they’re so focused on the cross over that they can’t wait for full sleep to reach her, shouting her name in terrifying voices just as she’s begun the decent into oblivion, snapping her awake with a violent jolt, leaving her with a sheen of sweat and choking on a fight or flight response. Often while sitting up in bed she wonders if her mind has been touched by schizophrenia. The voices had been male and deep and clear as day, so clear she looks around to be sure they weren’t murmured in her ear by a strange man in her room.

Then there are the times they exhibit patience and wait for her to be swallowed whole by sleep. They slink through the portal into her mind and taint her dreams, leaving evil fingerprint smudges wherever they touch. Her dreams are tortured and inescapable and grotesque shards of what they should be.

Sometimes she jolts awake before they can fully approach from their domain, leaving them half buried in both worlds, dancing in and out of her peripheral vision. They are shadows of where evil used to reign. They’re never seen directly but loom just beyond her sight, making themselves known with the briefest of glimpses of dark malevolence. They make sure she knows they follow her and that they watch.

Sometimes when she jolts awake she brings them fully with her. These are the whole ones, the ones her family calls night terrors and the awareness of these often leave her screaming with insanity. They weren’t halved upon the awakening so the full scope of their evil engulfs her like the churning frothy apex of a wave.

Her eyes open and she can feel them, their faces pressed up against hers, the humid and putrid breath of evil on her face. Watching her. Still she cannot see them but in the darkest hours of the early morning she can see the void they occupy. They blanket her with their misery, tucking her snugly in a quilt of horror, and steal her ability for words. They drip with poison and ooze with eternal isolation. As the moment passes and she begins to fully waken, for a brief moment she knows what true horror is. She has looked fear in the face and been rendered speechless, left without words and alone in a sea of oblivion. She reaches for her voice to scream and breaks the spell woven over her in the darkness, and all is again as it should be. Until they next choose to cross over and visit her sleep.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One Week

I have started and deleted my next post about a hundred times since the last one. I have also started and walked away from my next post about a hundred other times. For the first time in my life, my preferred method of expressing myself is failing me. I can't find the words to express how I feel. Ironically enough, for the first time in my life my appetite has disappeared as well.

This has been without a doubt one of the toughest and most heart wrenching weeks in my life. What started out as probable divorce with a remote chance at saving it is now definite divorce with no chance at saving it. I have cried myself dizzy. I have experienced bouts of extreme anger. I have sat numb and lost. I have exercised obsessively. I have hugged my boys, and I have cried with them too. I have questioned my life, my self, my family, my ability to hold it together, and my heart.

I haven't slept much, and when I do manage to relax enough to fall asleep, reality often slaps my dreams and I wake up in a panic, yelling the word John into the dead of the night. It echoes in the silence.

I tell myself that I am strong, that I can make it through this- repeatedly- as if it were a record broken in my head, skipping back to the word strong over and over and over. I think maybe if I tell myself often, one of these times I might believe it. It might break through the wall of ache in my chest and finally once again let me take a deep breath.

The boys are first and foremost in my thoughts. I think of all the things I have to do for them. Not only do I have to wake up each morning to care for them and nurture them, I have to be strong for them. I have to show them that although it's OK to be strong and go on with our lives, it's also OK to be sad and grieve the family we were. I have to learn how to let go of him and still cultivate a friendship for the sake of the boys. I have to put my feelings aside and place the boys before any ache, hurt, or anger I might have.

I am sad. I am heartbroken. I am lost.

I am banking on the fact that it has to get better, because I can't see how it can possibly get any worse.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Raw and Brutal and Honest

On Wednesday, Bonehead and I decided the best thing we can do at this time for our family is for us to separate. Although divorce is not definite, it is a very high probability at this point in time. It will take nothing short of a small miracle for us to be able to fix the fissure in our marriage.

Without going in to too much detail, I will say that the decision was mutual, and state for the record there has been no infidelity on either part. I will not now, nor in the future, bad mouth the father of my children online or in front of my boys, he is a good man and a great father.

Judging from the obvious lack of sponsorship and ads in my sidebar, it should be apparent that I pretty much blog for me, and that I write simply because that is what I enjoy doing. I debated whether or not to blog about these recent changes in my life, and the structure of our family, and decided that honesty is best. I am not the type of person who can pretend to be something I clearly am not. Life has thrown me a massive curve ball and I desperately need this outlet. Things in my life are changing in a major way.

I am trying my best to continue to see things in a positive light, to look for the humor in each day and keep a positive outlook on life. But I'm finding that I just need to take each day as it comes, deal with what is before me, and be thankful at the end that I made it through. Logic tells me that things will get better, there will be an end to the anguish and heart ache, but my heart screams the opposite. It will be a journey, I will get there, and along the way, I will share what I can in as graceful a way as possible.

Because after all, although I am mourning the imminent loss of more than 15 years of marriage and 20 years of friendship, I have two absolutely beautiful boys to think of.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Little Case of Hero Worship That Incidentally Was NOT Sponsored

I was spoiled once. I had a washer and dryer that was the cream of the crop. Once these babies were in my home and set up, I quickly learned that I'd never had another (or never would) who compared. I gushed about them to anyone and everyone who would listen. I loved them so much after I started a load I would caress them and my heart would fill with happiness. They were energy efficient, sleek, had few moving parts, and when they ran they whirred like something straight out of The Jetsons. At the time we had 7 people in our home (my sister and 3 nieces lived with us for a year and a half back in the days before Critter joined us) and it seemed to me that the capacity on these babies was absolutely UN-BE-LIEVABLE.

What washer and dryer am I speaking of?

I'm so glad you asked.

Please allow me to introduce you to the Fisher & Paykel washer and dryer.

The washer:


This baby was awesome. I threw the clothes in, threw the detergent in the center cup, pushed a button and soon enough it was whirring away on our laundry. There was a weight sensor so it would only fill with water as needed for the load size. It seems to me that most people these days drool over the front load washers, but to me, the top load is a love affair that can not be broken. Yes I realize it is only a washer, and a top loader at that, but nothing falls back onto the floor after I attempt to put it in, and I didn't have to try and stuff anything through a small opening like trying to jam a mini marshmallow through a life saver candy hole. I guess in retrospect it wasn't anything over the top special, but it was the perfect mate to my dryer.

The Dryer:

(a.k.a. my preciousssssssss)

This may be the one household item I held in higher esteem than liquid bubble bath and straight from the package razor blades. Have you ever seen a top loading dryer? Let me introduce you. Inside this dryer is a steel drum that has a lid that opens when the dryer is resting and locks into place when the dryer is running. When it locks into place, it makes this space age sound and you can seriously close your eyes and imagine you are sitting on the space shuttle getting ready for take off. The drum inside rotates much like a front loader, but every so many minutes it stops and rotates in the opposite direction. So your clothes don't get tangled up in each other. And to me, that was just a perk. The seller on this beauty was the top loading feature. Clothing never fell on the floor between the washer and dryer. I didn't have to bend and maneuver the clothing in over a dryer door in any fashion. I simply grabbed an armful of clothing out of the washer, turned to the right a little and dropped the entire armful into the dryer. It was Heaven on Earth for mom or dad or whoever got stuck with the laundry chore, I swear. Let me tell you I'd rather clean a toilet than do laundry, so me being excited about these babies was really something.

One sad day about a year and a half ago, our town got rain. It fell, and it fell, and it fell, and we were completely unprepared for it. When all was said and done the town received 4 inches of rain in 82 minutes, and we were gifted with a foot and a half of standing water in our basement.
We lost both the washer and the dryer. And it was a very sad day in my life. *sniff*

At any rate, we have not been living for a year and a half without a washer and dryer, let me assure you. They were replaced, but due to budget restrictions we had to go with a different brand name. We opted for the front loading washer and dryer, and I won't say the name because they work just fine and I don't want anyone to think I'm saying they are inferior because they are quite functional in their own way. However, I do not have the desire to caress them, and they do not take me to space. Its just that Fisher & Paykel are the ones who got away, the long lost love that I daydream of having back. To my heart, there will never be another.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Has Anyone Seen Smoochie's Mom?

Almost everyone knows that when a person has more than one child, the personalities of said children will differ greatly. I knew this even before I had children because I had a sister who is as different from myself as night and day. Yin and Yang. She's outspoken while I bottle it all in. She's outgoing & talkative while I'm quite introverted. She had 3 girls and I had 2 boys (because she hogged all the girls).

By the time Critter blessed our family, I was fully aware that he would be a person with a personality completely separate from his big brother. Critter tries daily to shatter our eardrums, I think I've had to tell Smooch to use his inside voice three times in his life. Smooch will be 8 in a couple of months and still won't climb on our kitchen counters and I'm trying to figure out just which Ninja moves Critter uses exactly to get at the Marshmallows in our pantry. And after I took them away how he managed to retrieve them from the middle of the kitchen table.

Now for the most part I'm a fairly intelligent adult woman. I knew these boys would be different. Although I can say I didn't exactly plan on HOW different they would be, I did expect it. What I didn't expect, however, is how different their Mothers would be.

Smoochie's mom was totally on the ball. He was clean, well (and promptly) fed, and at all times "dressed and ready to face the day". I quoted that because that is the phrase I used every morning when we were getting ready. A pajama day for that boy was always either a super treat meaning we had nowhere to go, or it meant the boy was super sick and too pitiful to care about getting dressed. Smoochie's mom had it all, an eagle eye, quick humor, and reflexes as quick as a rabbit. Smoochie's mom rocked. It's no wonder he never colored on a wall or cut his own hair.

Meanwhile, in the land of Neurotic 6 years later, I look around and spy Critter's mom. She's frazzled and mostly askew and partly deaf and completely off her rocker. I'm thinking Critter may be getting the shaft. Critter thinks that if his mom is putting clothes on him it means he is going "bye bye" and starts waving. And he may be right.

Critter was most recently spied in a living room (also occupied by Dad AND Big Brother) drawing on a coffee table with a pencil. This implies he has developed the ability to become invisible and his mom's eagle eye clearly needs lasik.

Critter's mom is slow and has lost her quick reflexes. She's always limping due to the recurring foot cramp that comes from stepping on poky hard plastic children's toys. She may be developing a personality disorder because she can often be spotted hunched over limping and muttering to herself.

Critter's mom has lost her sense of time and completely thrown her ability to plan for the immediate future out the window. She should really expect that every day at 5:30 Critter will be hungry and yet it still comes as a daily surprise to her. Her personal motto has recently become, "Oh crap, dinner."

I have searched our home thoroughly for any trace of Smoochie's mom, but she can't be reached for comment. (Between you and me I'm pretty sure she's locked up in a tower somewhere and won't be coming back)

And Critter's mom? Is too busy daydreaming of a bubble bath in a soaking tub with candle light ambiance and a glass of wine to bother.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday & Personality

I think it's really cool how personalities somehow shine through even in photos.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Epiphany about Epiphanies

Yesterday, I came up with my most brilliant idea of the year. Truly, it was simply phenomenal. Our house is a bungalow built in 1933. When we purchased it, to us, that meant charm. I mean, it still has the original doors and glass doorknobs. Take that and combine it with hardwood floors, a large yard, a large kitchen,(and yes, a dishwasher) and we were charmed into buying.

Unfortunately charm technically means work. I'm not really sure how the two tie together but they do. And this is where my mind and my thought pattern was yesterday when I woke up. There are things in this house that simply need to be redone.

Now, Martha Stewart I am not. Nor am I an interior designer, and my home collection shows it. I'm pretty sure if they came out with a line of my personal home decor, it would be titled Le Hodge Podge. Given the funds, I would gladly hire a crew to come in, demolish-strip-paint-rebuild-cute-ify every square inch of this place. However, I am a stay at home mom, and our budget is stretched. Things are tight.

But see, the thing is, as I sat yesterday watching Critter eat his breakfast, I had an epiphany (I seem to have a lot of these and apparently haven't yet learned that epiphanies are usually not a good thing when they spontaneously erupt from my brainwaves). If I wait until we have an abundance of funds to start fixing up the place, I will be ready to move to the nursing home. I can either get up the nerve for a healthy dose of DIY or I can live the status quo.

I opted for the DIY route. I mean how hard can it be, really? It's not like I haven't read any assortment of DIY blogs over the past year or so. And back in the day, I could watch the heck out of Trading Spaces. (Is that even still on?)

A while back my in-laws gave us a whole slew of paint that was left over from their re-paint job on their home interior. Since I already had the paint, and I had a great portion of the supplies needed sitting around our home in various places, I began in our bathroom. I chose this room because it's the smallest room in our house. For those of you who speak fluent Chas this interprets directly to 'The room that will be easiest to redo when things explode and I've messed it up entirely'.

So sometime after breakfast, I climbed Mount Babygate and began work on our bathroom cupboards, which will be miraculously transformed from their generic dark oaky color to black by the end of the redo.

I did not take into account what DIY means with a 19 month old running wild and unchecked in my home. I was soon enlightened to find out that it means while I am busy not paying attention to him and sanding down the cupboards, he will find the need to help me out with my homemaking duties and use his footie pajamas to mop my kitchen floor for me. Water courtesy of the dog dish. He also took it upon himself to redo my decor by completely emptying his toy box and artfully arrange his toys over every square inch of floor space between his bedroom, the kitchen, and the living room. His decor line is titled Le Tod Podge.

Today I decided that I simply can not handle another dog water wash on my kitchen floor, so I waited until my sweet little Critter was down for his nap before embarking on my bathroom project. Having done all of the sanding and priming yesterday, I began applying paint on the cabinets today.

I soon discovered the oops paint I thought was black looked much grayer out of the can. It didn't completely cover my white primer- but I figured it wouldn't on the first coat- but I had to use white primer because it's what I already had on hand, and this is a budget DIY project for Pete's sake. So while my little Critter snored peacefully away in his crib, my mind became obsessed with the color gray.

-Gosh that's awful gray.

-John's going to kill me, I told him the cabinets would be black. And I started this project without even talking to him in the first place. Surprise honey, I've torn apart our bathroom, you can't shave because I've got drop cloth taped over our sink, and ta-da! How about a gray cabinet or two?

-Would he buy the line 'Gray is the new black'?

-I'm going to have to rethink my wall color. Crap, this whole thing is about using what's on hand, what on Earth am I going to tell John when I need to go buy a couple gallons of paint?

-I'm not sure I can do gray. Maybe I should just go buy a small container of real black and go over with the black at the end?

I was totally and completely fixated on gray. Just before I was finishing the last part of the last cabinet, I noticed that my gray was drying a bit darker. I breathed a sigh of relief, noted that I hadn't been that covered in paint since high school when I worked on Tech Crew backstage making sets for plays and such. While admiring the nice dark black color my cabinets were drying into, I stepped backwards off my handy dandy step stool.

Right into the bucket of paint.

Because I'm Chas and that. Is just what I do.

I will now leave you with the mental picture of me with a black foot and ankle wrapping a makeshift cover with improvised drop cloth rippings, (plastic and paint are slipperier than ice- it's a wonder I didn't break anything) once again scaling Mount Babygate, hunchback sliding my foot across from the bathroom to the living room and finally through the kitchen to the sink (the bathroom sink is out of commission remember). I'm 5 foot 3, so I have nooooooo clue how I cleared the counter and managed to get my foot in the sink without leaving a trail of gray (until it dries anyway). I will tell you it was a sight to behold.

Next time I have an epiphany, somebody needs to smack me back into reality.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Discovering a Different Perspective

The Fairy Tale.

Cinderella and her Prince.

Butterflies, flushing newness, and happily ever after.

I can't truly speak for all American girls, but I can say that I grew up with a horribly misrepresented notion of happily ever after and the fairy tale. The handsome prince who was perfect and flawless. The certainty of being swept off my feet and worshiped and treasured surely meant a lifetime crammed full of sweet nothings and blushing cheeks and intestinal flip-flops, right?

The bookworm that I was as a young girl ran into book after book about the beautiful girl and the prince (or cowboy or dark and mysterious rogue rebel as I grew older) who supplied her life with the promise of happiness and flowers and suave romance and heart palpitating lust every moment of every day for eternity and forever. To my 20th century American girl mind, that was the definition of happily ever after.

I never once read a book about the day Cinderella woke up and realized she would spend the rest of her life eternally retrieving Princely's skivvies from the floor next to the empty laundry hamper. I never read any of her rants about how at least the ugly step-sisters left their clothing inside the hamper and left the stinking toilet seat down and they for freaking sure never ever supplied her bed with so many pillows she dreamt about being choked by marshmallows.

Nor did I encounter a book about how to continue loving your prince through bouts of extreme anger and frustration and tears and hurt (aka P.M.S.) and how to come to terms with the realization that life and love and marriage isn't the idealistic fairy tale I once thought it was.

Now that I'm older and I've experienced a great deal of marriage and love I realize that while fairy tales do exist, it is my concept of both the fairy tale and happily ever after that was grossly askew. Here, I'll explain.

This is a photo of one of my most beloved, highly prized possessions.

It's a poem written for me by my very own Bonehead while he was out at sea for the first time after becoming my husband. It is about both him and (a highly romanticized concept of) me. I'd share the story of the inner romance but some things in a marriage must always remain sacred. What I will say is that upon his return after our first prolonged separation as husband and wife he presented me with this poem.

A few years later he secretly commissioned my high school best friend and maid of honor to turn the poem into a beautiful one of a kind piece of art. For the longest time I kept it tucked away safely in a closet so no harm could come to it. Occasionally I would take a peek, run my fingers lovingly over it and allow the words to once again fill my heart with love.

One day Bonehead took it from it's safe place without my knowledge, grabbed my toddling Smoochie, and the two of them had it professionally framed for me. Almost 10 years into our marriage I walked into our bedroom and found it waiting for me on my pillow.

I know now that happily ever after is different for each person. For me, it is the scattering of joyful moments that tie together the mundane. My fairy tale is knowing the continuing love of a man and being able to share the ins and outs (and yes, the frustration and anger too) of every day life with him. My happily ever after lies with this poem and many other unexpected moments like these that fill my heart with joy.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I am beginning to realize our trusty family minivan is good for a few things. The biggest most obvious feature is its ability to carry and tote a large amount of both people and things. Our family spends a great deal of time in the car. With Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Annie and assorted cousins just over an hour away, often times by the end of the weekend our family minivan looks more like a family minihotel after a particularly festive room party, only for the more selective (and surprisingly temperamental) sippy cup carrying, juice box discarding sector of society. I've recently cleaned the van, though, so for at least the next couple weeks it will look like housekeeping has recently knocked on the door and come through.

Our van is also good for some interesting conversation. At some point or another, pretty much every topic under the sun has been discussed, from how tires are made to which airplane is the fastest. Often from the back seat a small-ish voice can be heard saying, "Mom?" or if it is the weekend and we are out together as a family, "Dad?" Rules state that either mom or dad is required to verbally acknowledge this inquisition before the conversation can continue. Rules also state that there are no guarantees what you will hear when the conversation does continue.

For example, the family was out in the trusty hotel on wheels minivan last week when from the back seat came the telltale, "Mom?"

"What, Smooch?"

"Maximus* got some really hot chicks."

From the driver's seat I look at Bonehead. Did I just hear what I thought I heard? Judging from the way Bonehead was looking out the window and hiding a smirk, I'm fully thinking I actually heard what I thought I heard.

A quick glance in my rear view mirror assured me that yes, in fact, I did still have a sweet little 7 year old sitting in my back seat. Thankfully I did not drive us through some sort of freaky time-space continuum or somehow Rip Van Winkle myself 16 years into the future.

Preparing some kind of mental speech about respecting girls, and how calling them 'chicks' or any other similar name really wouldn't be looked favorably upon by anyone including mom, dad, and any girl he ever comes in contact with, I felt the need to verify. "What did you just say, Smooch?"

"I said Hot. As in spicy."

By this point I was completely speechless. I truly didn't even know where to start. Fortunately for me, he felt the need to continue speaking.

"Maximus* got some hot chips. At lunch today"

It was at this point in our drive that Smooch had to sit and wonder why his mom was having such a laughing fit in the driver's seat.

*names have been changed to protect the innocent

Friday, September 4, 2009

On Marriage and Devotion

comments off

I sat there trying to wrap my brain around what I'd just read, on a blog I've been following for quite some time, wanting more than ever to leave a comment. Usually if she's written something controversial and thought provoking I can think it over and then comment. Only this time, I discovered she'd turned the comments off, and I would not be able to do so. Ohohohoh I had some things I wanted to say in response to her post, but couldn't.

Truth is, I enjoy reading this blog. Sandi @ Lucky Thirteen and Counting has a very large family, and several members have special needs. The love that must be in her heart combined with the work that must go into taking such good care of this family has to be at astounding levels. And anyone with a family that large has to lead a life at least 10 times more interesting than mine, just with the extra opportunity for laughter and commotion alone.

All the same, I think I was more frustrated at not being allowed to comment than I was at what I read on the blog. And then I realized that I have a blog. I have a voice. Not that I've networked and grown my blog to ginormous levels, but even if it is a small one, it is still a voice, a place for me to- well- scratch my neurotic spot.

I don't usually share my opinions on things with people other than immediate family because for the most part I hate having opinions forced upon me. In fact, if you chose to stop reading now, I would totally get it. But I've been thinking hard about this all morning, and I have an itch that I can't ignore. Yep, I'm scratching.

What I took away from what I read is that no matter how happy I think my marriage is, my husband could cheat on me. And that I would be absolutely blind and lying to myself if I didn't see that possibility. And that no matter how much I trust my husband, there might be a woman out there who decides she has to have him and would stop at nothing to seduce him.

There was a time a few years into my marriage when those kind of thoughts ruled my brain. Every time he was away from me for more than 20 minutes, my brain would go there. Would he put himself in that position? What if he did? What is going on that I don't know about? Is he going to? Would he if he had the opportunity?

I spent a great deal of time with my stomach in knots. The knots in my stomach contained anger, and distrust, and they grew until I didn't recognize the person I had become. I was distrustful, needy, and just generally unhappy with my life and beyond a shadow of a doubt I was miserable.

This being the time before we had children, I seriously considered divorce over and over and over. After all, if I couldn't trust him, did it matter that I loved him with all of my heart if I was going to be miserable and carry an iron cannonball around in my stomach anyway?

And then our Smoochie arrived and touched our hearts beyond anything either of us could have imagined. For the first time, I think we saw our marriage for what it was and decided that a little intervention was needed in order to give Smooch the life and love he deserved. We went to counseling. Yep, the dreaded marriage counselor. For a long time, actually. And I went to see her on an individual basis, too, because I had a lot of other baggage to deal with and kick to the curb. Did the counseling help? Sure. After all, who wouldn't benefit from an outsider's constructive view on the relationship- especially if both parties are equally open to change.

But the real reason I am still with my husband is because I had an epiphany. Could Bonehead cheat on me? Absolutely, with 100% certainty it was a possibility. I couldn't then, nor can I now, guarantee that he will not ever err and cheat. Heck, I am human myself, and who's to say that 3, 5, 10 years from now I won't mess up myself? It's like being in an airplane and trusting your life to the pilot. If you're going to fly, you're going to have to give up a little control, otherwise you will be stuck on the ground and probably miss out on opportunity after opportunity in your life.

I could continue to live with that panic-can't-breathe feeling every time he leaves my presence, or I could put a little faith in him and simply trust that he wouldn't behave inappropriately. For me, it came down to the whole glass half empty/ half full scenario. I made a conscious decision to look at my marriage as a glass half full. I nurture it, trust it to still be half full in the future, and do my best not to drop it or spill it. And if some day I wake to find out someone guzzled the last half and left me with an empty glass, then I will deal with that. But I refuse to nurture hate and mistrust in my marriage (and heart) on the off chance that someone might be that greedy.

Its been several years since I adopted this view point. And in all honesty, I would be lying if I said that every once in a while one of those old thoughts didn't sneak into my brain. But then I remind myself that life's too short to allow those kind of thoughts to once again take root in my head, and I deal with it and kick it to the curb.

So could he cheat? Oh, absolutely. When it comes right down to it, I have absolutely no control over whether he does or not. What I can control is me, and I refuse to waste my limited number of days worrying over the 'what could be's' and instead choose to live in the love and devotion that is my 'here and now'.

*As I was finishing up this post, by chance this song popped up on my shuffle. The irony is that it pretty much says what I was trying to say, anyway. Here's the lyrics, and the Youtube link, if you care to hear.

I Believe- Cowboy Mouth

Whatcha gonna do with the restlessness inside you worried mind
How you think you're ever gonna get ahead when you feel so far behind
Step inside this endless moment for a subtle touch of grace
I've always found my strength inside the act of faith

I believe in the spirit of Rock N Roll
In the eternal stregth of the immortal soul
Cause sometimes everybody's gotta let it go
I believe in the power of love

I believe in the sounds of Sam and Dave
That little children should occasionally misbahave
That all that you get is all that you gave
I believe in the power of love

Little boy staring out a windowsill to a world that doesn't care
Everybody 'round is so much bigger that they don't even know he's there
But one day he's going to grow to be a man and maybe then they'll see
He'll provide the hope and care for the family

I believe in the chance of love at fist site
That your life doesn't always have to be a fight
And if you do it at all you ought to do it right
I believe in the power of love

I believe that sometimes you got to take a stand
That you're holding my heart when you're holding my hand
Cause everything is eventually in gods hands

I have got to take the best of me and keep that heart alive
Why'd i ever want to shut that down and kill my soul?

I believe that sometimes you've got to take a chance
That you can't lve your life just listening to can't's
Casue the thrill of the ball's part of the thrill of the dance
I believe in the power of love

I believe that we never really are alone
'Cause there's so much more than anything we've known
New Orleans is always gonna be my home
I believe in the power of love

I believe in the spirit of Rock N Roll
In the eternal stregth of the immortal soul
Cause sometimes everybody's gotta let it go
I believe in the power of love

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday & Photo Opportunities

Photo Op at the local petting zoo...

There's room in every day for a little silly

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Believe...

...that the state animal of Illinois is the Construction Horse.

...that for each construction crew you pass on the freeway, there is at least one very sumptuous piece of eye candy.

...that IDOT places at least one piece of eye candy in every construction crew to keep the soccer moms with low blood sugar levels from rioting while stuck in traffic.

...that someday Critter will realize that EVERY SINGLE ONE of his stuffed animals talks to him in the very same squeeky voice.

...that my heart will break the day Smoochie realizes that mom and dad are boring.

...that someday, somehow, if I wish hard enough, the laundry will do its self.

...that purging items from our home is like plucking a gray hair- for each item you purge, 7 more take its place.

...that pinky toenails grow exponentially faster than the rest.

...that coffee makes the morning bearable.

...that my youngest son may very well be the worlds smallest Anarchist.

...that the words diet and cheeseburger are linked together in my brain.  I go on a diet, and my brain starts craving cheeseburger.

...that PMS should be more aptly named PDPMS (pre, during, & post).

...that even on the most craptacular day, there is some beauty to be seen if you are looking for it.

...that you can count on rain 4 days a year- Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Halloween.

...that Friday the 13th is a magical day (I turned 13 on Friday the 13th).

...that laughter (especially from my boys) is the best sound ever.

What do you believe?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Meep Meep Meep

I'm pretty sure I can safely say that most seasoned mothers look forward to the events of today. The day in late August/early September when they rap kindly on a certain bedroom door (or a plethora of them) and gently coax their young back from the land of nod. Back to school. I'm dancing an Irish Jig, tappity tappity.

There was certainly an air of patience as I answered back to the whiny "But I'm still tiiiiiiiiired" groan that erupted from Smooch, and for one of the two times this year (school pictures require a mother's touch as well), I reached into his wardrobe and pulled out something suitable for him to wear. I cheerfully made a breakfast of scrambled eggs and juice and found a crane to lift his back pack (with all 150 lbs of school supplies dutifully labled with his name) onto his back and pushed him out the door. Go child go! Fly forth and learn!

That's the thing about the first day of school- there's an excitement that can't quite be duplicated. Even the alarm (which I requested Bonehead to set for 6:50 so I could get up at 6:30 because for some strange reason he insists on setting it 20 minutes fast and then a certain BONEHEAD I know set it for 6:30 which is really 6:10 and managed to almost put me in such a foul mood I couldn't snooze) was gentle with it's wake up nudge of 'meep meep meep'.

We have this alarm that starts off softly as an "Oh (cough cough) excuse me, mam, but I do think it's time for you to get up now."

The thing is, the longer you ignore it, the angrier it gets. Pretty soon it's yelling at the top of it's lungs, "GET UP YOU LAZY SLACKER!! IT WAS OH SIX HUNDRED SOMETHING 50 MINUTES AGO!! GET UP BEFORE I PULL OUT THE AIR HORN!!"

I enjoyed this morning with cheer because I know the days of the screaming alarm are quickly approaching. Those would be the days I rip comforters off the whining boy, jump up and down on the end of the bed, bark out orders for locating clean pants and a shirt, shove shoes on while the kid brushes teeth and hair, and slap a baggie full of cheerios in his hand as he's running out the door to catch the bus before it leaves.

Now that the excitement of the first day of school is over, I can look forward to the stressful morning rush of another school year, and the daily meep meep meep of my stinkng alarm.

Phew. I was really missing that alarm.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wordless(ful) Wednesday (late): CSI Crime Scene...

Or bath night?

Did someone just say BATH?

Spaghetti night is always bath night 'round these parts- for good reason.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dust Me

So I was informed by my husband 2 days ago that my blog was getting dusty. He's right, and yet here it is two days later and I'm stealing time to slap together something that might or might not be considered an actual post.

For the record, this summer is kicking my butt. The one weekend I had free was this weekend, and at the last minute yesterday it filled up to an overflowing status that closely resembles all the other weekends we've had since June.

A couple of days ago, someone asked Smoochie what he's done this summer. He looked up with his sparkly blue eyes, smiled his Jack-O-Lantern smile, and stated (for the record), "Watch Cartoons."

Are you KIDDING ME? At this point said stranger is thinking, "Wow lets dish out a mom of the year award. And give the kid a tub-o-corn-dogs while we're at it." They didn't have to say it, I could hear it over the crickets chirping.

I, of course, felt the need to redeem myself. "What about your week in Florida? Your trip to St. Louis for the river float and visiting the St. Louis Arch? How about when the girls (his cousins) stayed with us for 4 days? And the almost two weeks you spent at your Grandma's while your Auntie Gayle and other cousins were visiting from Seattle? The trip to Great America was what, chopped liver? The afternoon at the local water park was just an illusion, right? Ooh! I know, the camping trip to Michigan? What about our pool passes that we've used and abused?"

I swear the boy gave me a look that made me look like the Rice Krispies lady in that commercial-
and said, "Yeah but mom, we get to watch A LOT OF CARTOONS."

I will try my hardest to get a new improved post up at some point on Monday, but in the meantime we'll be running ourselves ragged WATCHING CARTOONS.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What I've Learned This Summer Vacation

It has been a phenomenally long time since I have put anything on my blog. In my defense, it's been summer, I have one free weekend between the beginning of July and the end of September (Two if you throw June into the mix), and in case anyone's forgotten, Critter is now a holy terror fully mobile bi-ped. I know, excuses, excuses, right? I figured as penance, I'd write a little essay on what I've learned on my summer vacation so far.

But instead of an essay, I'm going to write a list. And since it's a list instead of an essay, I should probably call it Snippets. So without further ado, here are my Sensational Summer Snippets. In list form. Typed one handed while eating jelly toast & praying Critter's Cheerios don't hit my living room rug before I'm finished.

1. Productivity decreases exponentially when overly inquisitive children begin walking & getting into a boat load of trouble. Blogging time actually drops to a negative number- I wasn't expecting that.

2. Rooms can explode immediately after cleaning them. As the Mother of a 7 year old, I've been aware of this fact for quite some time now. What I've actually gained knowledge in is the fact that previously mentioned rooms have the capability of exploding silently. It's the stealthy silence that kills me. The boy's a Ninja at heart.

3. Camping for an entire weekend with a 17 month old in a site that is right next to water is just about as much fun as a major league sunburn.

4. While the Tooth Fairy will visit when Mom and Dad are away and Aunt Annie is on duty, he/she will not visit if the tooth is lost during an overnight stay at Grandmas. It's in the fine print of Tooth Fairy contract listed under appendix 3.4, right after the "Your local Tooth Fairy will require a visual inspection of vacated space inside mouth in the event that your child has swallowed/misplaced the lost tooth before payment can be issued" clause.

5. It is possible to eat an ear of corn with one hand while holding little people on your lap and feeding him watermelon with the other.

6. If your husband takes your pillows camping you might as well just go out and buy yourself some new ones and save yourself the trouble of weeks worth of uncomfortibilitly because you can't get them to behave the way they were before they were accosted. I'm neurotic, I know, but the man had at least 6 thousand pillows of his own to choose to take. And I seriously can't get mine back the way they were. It's horrible, I tell you. Beyond horrible. My pillows have been thrown permanently askew by his behemoth family heirloom of a giant noggin.

7. I am a tick magnet. It almost got me in an accident when I discovered one on my upper lip while driving. That's a true story, too. Or sentence, technically.

8. Just the thought of ticks makes my head itch. Are you running your fingers through your hair? Seriously, My head is crawling and I have the heebie jeebies.

9. Thinking that your son may have seen some form of "adult time" when you've snuck up to your bedroom in the middle of the afternoon and not properly barricaded your bedroom door will haunt you for a long time afterward and put a pretty permanent damper on any future desire for adult time as well. Also, as traumatizing a thought as it is to imagine your parents in a compromising position, its easily 100 times more traumatizing when you're on the parent end. By the way, upon discussion, we opted for the don't ask don't tell approach. We figured if he saw what we thought he might have, there'd be the inevitable question or three hundred two. The questions never came. Crisis averted. And if I'd like to gain any desire for adult time this month, I should be changing the topic now.

10. Pretty much the only time Critter will kiss and hug on me enthusiastically is when he wants me to feed him. And while I'm on the topic of food, Smoochie has two hollow legs and if there's food in the house not nailed down it's hiding inside one of them. The boy has a mere 12 inches left before he's as tall as I am, so I know he's not going to have the nerve to get taller any time soon. He's 7. I really don't know what I'm going to do when I have to look up at a 9 year old to yell at him.

11. I have been spending a great deal of time at the local pool with the boys, and actually have the best tan since I was 15. But before you begin to envy me, please be aware that I have learned acutely there is no such thing as relax when at the pool with a 17 month old boy who has no fear. None. And also, don't ask me to raise my arms because the whiteness on the underside might possibly blind you.

12. I've been camping twice,and am preparing to camp again this weekend. I've somehow managed to get prom ready for 2/3 of my trips. I'll let you know if I'm able to finish the season with a perfect record. Some people just never learn, I guess.

13. Last month I had 1.75 whole days without my children to camp in the wilderness of Wisconsin. This weekend I get to have a full 3 & 1/2 days without them to camp with Bonehead and his friend Steve in the wilderness of Missouri. Saturday will involve a river float- my very first- and I'm sure it will be quite the learning experience. I'm feeling the need to remind myself that I don't have to prove myself as daring as Steve and John because I've already been there, done that. Should they discover any 60 foot cliffs, I'll be the one in the raft blinding you with the pale skin flash of trying desperately to tan my underarms.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Better Part of Me

I had a very humbling experience this week. Wow, where even to begin? I'm not sure I can quite put words to this, but here goes...

I've been stressed. It's mostly the normal things, really. It's nothing a couple of million people don't feel on a daily basis as well- the usual things. Not enough money, too many bills, rooms falling apart immediately after being cleaned. I personally call this state of mind general hamster in a wheel syndrome. Normally, I am affected by this syndrome briefly and then I get over it and move on.

Occasionally it sticks to my ribs a bit longer than normal and that's when I become infested with the grouchies. Hamster in a wheel syndrome has led to the particular crabby disposition that I've been in this week, and as much as I myself don't like me when I'm like this, I can only imagine how those around me feel about my attitude when I get like this.

Adding to my Hamster feelings (which come with an intense desire to stuff my cheeks full of chocolate, by the way) is Critter. He screams. And although I'll give it to him because his screams vary, they are all painful. Occasionally I find them piling on top of me in compound interest fashion, ALL OF THEM-from his happy scream to his excited scream to his no that's mine scream all the way to his angry scream.

When all is said and done at the end of the day, I sometimes feel like the bank of Mom has been filled to maximum capacity. Critter also throws a few major temper tantrums into the daily deposit with the ease of a million dollar corporation owner playing the stock market. "Why don't you give me two shares of Tantrum Monday and an additional five shares of Hissy Fit Thursday?"

Maximum capacity banking deposits and ongoing hamster in a wheel feelings leave me feeling drained. There's no better word for it. Crabby, cranky, useless, and both emotionally and physically drained. Lately, it's gotten so bad that I don't recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror.

Enter Smoochie. He's a good kid, and tries very hard to please both me and his father. He's got this incredibly sweet disposition and is totally affectionate. For the most part, he's just a good kid. But he is a kid, he will push the boundaries a bit.

Lately his affectionate traits have led to some discord in the home. He loves his little brother so much it makes my heart ache with pride. He wants to kiss and squeeze and generally love and snuggle with his brother while Critter wants nothing of the sort. A vicious cycle of snuggle-scream-mom says give the boy some space-10 minutes of quiet-snuggle-scream-mom says give the boy some space begins.

Part of the problem is that Critter has only recently learned to walk, so Smoochie's affections wind up knocking the boy down like a bowling pin and (yep, more screaming) Critter winds up hurt. After about a million rounds of this, I'm prone to snap. Loose it. Run screaming around the bank vault with a can of hairspray and a lighter.

On Tuesday this is pretty much what it looked like in our home. Both boys were in the kitchen, and I heard Critter scream and cry in pain. I ran to the kitchen to get him. Smooch was there and I assumed that it was just another part of the cycle. (Did you catch that? I said ASSUMED)

"What happened?"

While scooping Critter up to comfort him, I gave Smooch time enough to get about two words out.

"How many times have I told you to give him space? Why can't you just back off and leave him alone? I am SO TIRED of telling you to give him room to move and-"

After laying into the boy I realized what had actually happened. Critter had been playing in the pantry because the door had been left open and Smoochie, being the good loving brother he is, was trying to keep him safe and closed the door. Because our pantry is actually on about a 2 & 1/2 ft ledge and back about a foot, Critter (who'd been leaning into the ledge and trying to climb up) got his fingers pinched on accident as Smooch closed the door.

It was too late. I'd hurt Smoochie's feelings. Not only that, but I had not allowed the boy to express himself. For starters, it breaks my heart to know I've hurt his feelings. To make me feel worse I had a sudden and vivid memory of all the times I was not allowed to speak as a child. It was frustrating, and to my own personal childhood development it was soul crushing not being allowed to speak my thoughts. And here I'd just done the very same thing to my own son.

There is nothing more humbling than looking my son in the eyes and knowing I must apologize for a hurt I've been the cause of. I know there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and that moments like these will happen, but I would give anything to never ever be the cause of pain or heartache to my child. He'll get enough of that from everyone else in life. Mom's are exclusive in their capacity for love for their children, they should at the very least be exempt from causing their children pain.

I knelt down and looked him in the eyes. I apologized to him as he cried. I apologized for snapping and yelling and for not giving him the opportunity to speak. I told him I was wrong, my behavior was not acceptable, and that in the future I would try very hard to give him the chance to speak.

He looked at me with tears still flowing down his cheeks and said, "That's OK, Mom."

He leaned over and gave me a hug.

HE gave ME a hug.

It was in that moment that I was humbled beyond words. My 7 year old son had just shown me exactly how to be a better person.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dear So and So...

Dear So and So...

Kat from 3 Bedroom Bungalow writes a weekly series of letters to others, and this week I had a few of my own to write, so I thought I'd grab her button and join in.

Dear Dude with the weed wacker at the neighbors (outside my window) at 7am this morning,

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

Not a Happy Camper,

Dear Tweezer Making People,

I love your angled tweezers, they are a wonderful thing for this girl who's eyebrows turn into a forest if not bushwacked on a more often than weekly basis. I'm a right handed girl, and my right eyebrow is the epicenter of perfection. However, when it's time to thin out the left eyebrow, the angle is all wrong and I wind up trying to remove a single hair at a time with what feels like needle pointed chopsticks. Would it be that difficult to create tweezers set at the opposite angle? I'm beginning to look like I morphed into Harvey Two Face with the face of Groucho Marx. It's not pretty.

Thank you,

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Thank you for understanding that my son LOST lost his tooth and had nothing to contribute to his tooth pillow. Also, thank you for writing him a nice note explaining that you find all teeth, no matter what, because my boy was seriously stressing. I did not know that you even found all of our dog's puppy teeth. Personally, though, that seems kind of creepy to me.

P.S. Are you male or female? If you are male, it makes my spidey sense tingle- I don't wish to be rude to a dude giving away cash, but do you have any female assistants?

Smoochie's Mom

Dear Starbucks,

I miss you. I yearn for you. My life is incomplete without your frozen caramel embraces. Someday we shall meet again and when we do, there will be great joy and celebration.


Dear Mom,

I realize that you've been a mom for 34 and 1/2 years, which makes you a pro with your guilt trip abilities. I do believe that you have brought things to all new heights with the (widely visible by others) facebook Guilt Trip. Lemme tell you that changing your status to "I sure wish I had new pictures of my grandkids to look at" and causing all 105 of my uncles to harrass me via comments is just shy of shooting up a pizza joint with your tommy gun and calling yourself 'The Godmother'.

Your (posted both video AND pics of your grandsons) daughter

Dear Sister,

How ON EARTH did you not fall pray to Mom's facebook guilt trip and how do I find that ability?

Don't make me give you an atomic wedgie to find out,
Love me

Dear Schedule,

If you cleared up one weekend between now and October I would not be heart broken. I would, in fact, be estatic for a little free time.

Frantic Chas

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gone Promming

In life there are varying levels of ready. For each person, ready means something different. For some, it means I still need to put on my shoes. For others it means I've got one foot out the door and you'd better hurry up if you want to actually BE IN THE CAR before it leaves. Through my own experiences, I have set the standard for my own personal types of ready.

There's running to the store for a gallon of milk ready, when you make sure the hole in your jeans is not in an obscene place and the (I should have washed it this morning) hair is completely hidden by your baseball cap. After all, the bling on the cap should make up for the lack of shine on your hair, right?

There is Winter in the Midwest ready when you can throw two layers and your bulkiest sweater on and blame your extra holiday baked goods bulk on the layers.

There's Summer in the Midwest ready when you spend entirely too much money on the swimsuit that looks the least offensive of your choices and practice how to wear your wrap/cover-up/towel as a cloak of invisibility between the mad dash from the lounge chair to the pool and back.

There is going out for dinner and a movie ready when you actually take the time to make sure your clothes are little peanut butter hand print smudge free and your hair is clean. If your date is lucky, you might spend a moment putting on some makeup first.

There's wedding guest ready when you primp a little more, making sure you floss your teeth, apply lipstick, and blow the dust off your most painful pair of heels because they're the only ones to match your dress, and heaven forbid you wear shoes that allow you to focus on something other than the pain in your feet for an entire evening. That, I believe, is the sole reason for open bar- to drown out the pain of one's footwear.

And last but not least, there's prom and personal wedding day ready. This ready isn't practiced on a daily basis, and is often extremely time consuming. By the time you are done you have primped, preened, shaved, plucked, sucked, plumped, lotioned, and powdered every pore you own and even the few you rent.

I was very excited last week at the thought of spending my first 2 child free days with Bonehead for company since the birth of Critter over 16 months ago. As a result, I found myself at 2pm last Thursday with my head feeling dizzy with anticipation and promming it up for a trip to Lake Something or Other in Wisconsin. I tried to remember the name of the lake, but finally decided that it didn't really matter. What mattered was I was going to GET AWAY! With my HUSBAND! Wooo! Hooo!

The time approached for our departure, and we left in high spirits. Even when we hit rush hour, nothing could diminish my mood. We arrived and realized we were in the middle of freaking nowhere. Our first clue?

Absolutely no cell phone reception. None. Now normally this might have been a blessing, but we were at a camp ground we'd never been to before and meeting friends (Craig & Julie) a solid hour and a half (at least) behind us who happened to be carrying with them the tent we were borrowing. Oh, and also, we had instructions to try and get as close to the group of Craig's friends from work as we could. Someone was already there (who we'd never met before) and had a site and we knew only that we should look them by looking for a White Hundai SUV. Oh, and we had a first name-Pat-which ironically enough could be either male or female. Go figure.

To add to the fact that we had no cell phone to tell our friends where we were or find out where the SUV might actually be, the oh so helpful dude at the camp office told us to "just drive around until you see a spot that looks good and then come back with the sight number". Feeling absolutely clueless, we set off into the quickly approaching darkness to locate strangers whom we did not know and had never met before with a bi-partisan name driving an elusive white SUV.

To shorten a story that involves asking random strangers if their name was Pat, if they knew a Pat, what constitutes a tent site since people seem to be just throwing their tents up any old where, if they might some day know anyone named Pat, if they'd consider naming their dog Pat and letting us camp next door to them, and Bonehead throwing himself into the middle of the road in front of a White SUV and yelling "PAT!!!" to a perfect stranger who could or could not possibly actually be the person we were looking for, we found the spot where we were supposed to be camping. (Wow, if that doesn't constitute a run on sentence, I'm not sure what does)

We pulled into the spot, unloaded the van, and Bonehead went back to the office to pay our fees and try to figure out how to let our friends know where we actually were so we could sleep in a tent that evening. I stayed behind at the campsite and sat- just in case our friends showed up because our minivan was with Bonehead at the office.

It was during that brief period of eternal silence that I learned a few things about myself. For starters, I am 100% addicted to technology. I found myself wishing over and over again for an internet connection. As it was, we didn't even have water at our campsite.

I also discovered a deadly new Wisconsin mosquito migration. It's funny, though- even though I doused myself in mosquito repellent they kept migrating to the Isle of Chas. Seriously, by the time I got home on Saturday afternoon, I counted 50 bites on one ankle alone. I was in pure misery for a few days for sure.

In spite of all that, as I sat there at the picnic table 100% alone for the first time I could remember in recent history, I could hear the wind shift and sway the tops of the trees. As dusk settled a little deeper into darkness, I could hear the frogs croak and the crickets sing their melodies into the summer evening. I could also hear the deafening roar of the millions of mosquitos in, on, and around my ears. While I sat all dolled and make-uped up, (plucked, shaved, perfumed, and lotioned, mind you) offering myself up as a medium rare filet mignon to the Wisconsin mosquito in a campsite with neither cell phone reception, electricity, water, OR a tent (for the time being), I had an epiphany:


I'd let you know what I was thinking at 2pm that Thursday afternoon, but apparently I was 100% certifiably out of my mind.