Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Writing About Vomit AGAIN

Three things I learned last night:


1. I have super vomit hearing.  The moment a child of mine begins to hurl, I pop wide awake, even from a dead sleep.  No baby should have to puke without the comforting presence of a parent to hold them, so I instantly wake up and then I immediately elbow Tony in the ribs so he runs to the sick child.  Tony was barfed on three times last night, I wasn’t barfed on at all, so I think that makes this a superpower.


2. Freddie doesn’t chew his food.  The first bout of stomach upheaval reminded all of us that we had chili for dinner and had me and Tony picking up whole beans from the floor and out of the bathtub (the bathtub is a convenient place to hold a puking child).  Granted, Freddie doesn’t have many teeth, but I thought for sure that he gummed more of his bites than that.


3. Buster values his sleep.  Not even the nearby chunks of baby vomit or the frantic activity of two parents waving their hands over a sick baby will get that dog to move from his convenient sleeping spot in the middle of the hall.  He snorted at us a few times, though, obviously perturbed by the activity.




Poor baby.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Another Installment of “Being A Parent Is Awesome”

My car smells faintly like vomit.  It’s as awesome as it sounds.


Jamie was the first to vomit in our car, almost a year ago, but this time, I was the hurler.  I came home from work, felt fine, went for a run, felt fine, picked up Charles, started to feel bone-tired, jumped in the van to go pick up the kids and all of the sudden was NOT FINE AT ALL.  I called Tony to go get the littles from daycare as I was going to turn the car around and hope to make it home before I spewed.  No such luck.  In an act of extreme disrespect for the dead, I started vomited just as I passed the cemetery.  I pulled off on the next street and finished the job while Charles and Buster hung their heads out the window, trying to get away.


In my defense, I had a plastic bag (hello, I drive a van, of course I had a plastic bag), but driving and vomiting is a tricky act, and I missed.  I drove the last quarter mile home with a sack of puke in my lap, riding the high before the next wave.


When you’re the mom, you have to clean up after your own damn self.  You have to rinse off the floor mat, you have to grab the windex and the paper towels, even if you still feel terrible.  You have to start the load of laundry after you strip your barfed-on clothes and shoes in the laundry room.  You have to make sure that the dog gets out and the children are okay before you can lie down and moan.  And then later you get to clean the toilet and then the car again and do the puke laundry and wipe down all door handles to inhibit the spread of germs.


I think we can all agree that life was better when our moms cleaned up after our sick messes. 


Much like the last time I got food poisoning (what did I eaaaaaat???), I have vowed never to get sick again.  It’s perhaps the main reason we’re not having any more children.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mr. Seven

Sometimes I look at Charles and I see how small he still is.  He still has a roundness to his cheeks, a softness to his skin, and the movements of a little guy: he throws his whole body into action, whether he is bouncing on the pogo stick or climbing a tree.  He has none of the physical reserve and caution of movement displayed by, say, a ten-year-old.  But then sometimes the juxtaposition of this 52-inch tall boy with his younger brothers hits me right in the heart and I see him for the big kid he is: reading chapter books with frenzy as if they were as important as breathing air (they are, my young bibliophile), building LEGOs for hours on end, talking seriously with me about math homework or foster care or Minecraft.


2015 11-08 Dad's camera 570


He’s seven years old now, and he’s not screwing around anymore.  He’s serious.  And God help the person who doesn’t take him seriously.



He actually said that to me.


Much like his parents, he prefers to be busy all the time.  He reads, builds LEGOs, plays outside, plays inside, or loudly complains of being bored, at which point I make him vacuum or unload the dishwasher (it’s working – he doesn’t complain of being bored much!).  He would rather that we always, ALWAYS go somewhere to do something, and that preference is rubbing off on Jamie, who asks me every night as I kiss him goodnight, “Mom, what are we doing fun tomorrow?”  Indoor bike park, outdoor skate park, Children’s Museum, Jungle Playland, outdoor park, swimming, costumes, LEGOs, train sets, Lincoln Logs… it’s downright exhausting being their mother.  For his birthday, he chose roller skating because it’s not much of a party if we’re not sweaty and running into each other.




Charles, of course, doesn’t run into anyone.  His best friend beat him in the race, and he humbly congratulated his buddy, but now he’s even more determined to practice.


2015 11-08 Dad's camera 554  2015 11-08 Dad's camera 514 


He chose pie instead of cake.  My kids might not look much like me, but they are mine.  They choose pie for their birthdays and they love to read.  Blood will out, as they say.


2015 11-08 Dad's camera 548


I guess the best endorsement for our parenting is that Charles is wonderful kid.  He loves his brothers and works hard to make them laugh and take care of them, he has kind friends, and (other than in photos) he smiles a lot.  His occasional tantrums and frustrations serve to remind me that he is still a little boy and he still needs his mom and a gentle touch.


Sometimes.  Other times, he gives me a look and says, deadpan, “Mom, thank you cards are LAME.”  So there’s one fight I get to have this weekend.  Thank you cards for birthday gifts might be a bit late, friends.


*Thank you, Joe, for the lovely photos.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Squishy Squash

My children love squash.  I told Charles once, long ago, that it was “nature’s candy” because it was so sweet and I guess that convinced him.  He will happily request it as a vegetable with dinner and he laments the summers when we can’t buy acorn, delicata, or carnival squash.


I really, really like butternut squash, but it’s a bit more difficult for the kids to enjoy.  It’s more dense, for one thing, and not as sweet, for another.  Charles and Jamie gamely make their ways through a serving of butternut squash, but never a very big one, and never seconds.  Smaller, sweeter varieties are where it’s at for my boys.


The last butternut squash I cooked was HUGE, so there were lots of leftovers.  Despite the looks of disgust on my older boys’ faces, I made muffins with that leftover squash and I am now claiming to be a genius of the highest order.  I’ll share my magic with you because you, too, deserve to eat awesome (healthy-ish) muffins.




Butternut Squash Muffins


2 Cups cooked butternut squash

1 Cup milk (I used whole milk)

1 1/2 Cups whole wheat flour

1/2 Cup sugar

2 Teaspoons baking powder

1/4 Teaspoons salt

2 Teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 Beaten egg

2 Tablespoons melted butter


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients together.  Puree squash with the milk (an immersion blender works nicely for this).  Add egg, butter, and squash puree to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Spoon mixture into lined or greased muffin tins.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I could use some more coffee right now.

Before I had even turned on the car to take my littles to preschool this morning, I had screamed, and I mean screamed, at my kids twice, taken away Jamie’s toys for the rest of the day, soothed a devastated Charles after Jamie soaked his favorite shirt in an unauthorized (of course) water fight, mopped the bathroom after said water fight, and given Freddie his first taste of chocolate chips in an attempt to distract him from the horrifying contusion on his hand after Jamie shut it in the car console.  It was a shitty morning, made more so by an intense, although abbreviated due to child-minding, self-hatred session in front of my mirror.  All of my sweaters and leggings are still on my bed, the bedding from both bunks and the dog bed are strewn around the house, and the sink is piled high with dishes.


Jamie is just so four years old and I am running low on patience.  When Tony is there, we balance each other – I can see him getting stressed and impatient, so it keeps my own frustration in check.  Likewise, when I am at the end of my rope, Tony calms me and steps in to keep the kids on track.  Those days are few and far between; we are in the midst of the busy season of life, marked by long and stressful hours at work and multiple family demands.  Stress takes its toll, and more often than not, we have to captain this ship of fools alone.  I feel like I’m holding a bag of rabid, screeching, flapping bats closed and losing my grip.


The negative self-talk doesn’t help, but it’s absurdly difficult to stop.  Sometimes, I feel decent-looking.  Yesterday, even though my skin is more awful than usual and trending toward the most awful skin time of the month, I felt pretty.  Today, when I looked in the mirror, I felt haggard and old, droopy and saggy.  I want to be fashionable, but my body type is not fashionable; ten years ago, my silhouette worked well with midi-hem skirts and boot-cut jeans, but in the modern era of skinny jeans and maxi- or mini- skirts, my pear-shaped form simply looks ridiculous.  Shopping for clothing that is both fashionable and not cringe-worthy on my form takes time and money that I don’t have.  I am getting old, and my skin, breasts, and belly show it.  I exercise all the time for minimal results, and I bear the consequences of each missed workout or run in the fit of my jeans the very next day.  If only I could reconcile the instant gratification of chocolate and alcohol with the self-deprivation truism, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”


I wish I didn’t blow up so often, but it happens.  And then I apologize.  And then the kids apologize.  Then we talk about why I got frustrated and what we can all do better tomorrow.  Then I feel terrible, the pit in my stomach growing with each daily confirmation that I am a despicable parent.  I kiss and hug and reassure them of my love, berating myself in my internal monologue.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  I’m hopeful for a better day tomorrow, and the crazy thing is that somewhere in the deep recesses of my soul, I actually believe it could happen.  Like, one magical day, my clothes will all look good and my kids will do what they’re told and we’ll have a totally harmonious morning and I’ll think, “Ahhhh… this is the life!”  Dreams: they keep me going almost as much as caffeine.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


It’s National Chocolate Day.  We interrupt our usual complaints about life to bring you these important chocolate-related distractions:


Mug Cake.  I probably don’t need to say any more.  I mean, those two tiny words imply volumes.  Cake?  In a MUG?  Yes, and in the microwave, too.  I *might* be the type of person who eats her feelings, and this cake has served as a “fuck you all, I’m having cake” cake and an “Aaaagh!  I can’t take it anymore, I need cake” cake.  Other occasions for mug cake include: “I’m exhausted,” “I hate ironing,” “These fruit flies are seriously driving me nuts,” “Why won’t the dog stop barking?” and “I’m pretty sure there’s something spilled under the couch but I just can’t right now.”


Use a big mug.  One of those stupid, oversize ones that are only ever used for soup and novelty gifts (or use a soup bowl, but don’t use a standard mug) (maybe this should be re-titled “bowl cake”).  Mix 1/4 C flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 T cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt together.  Add 3 T melted butter, 3 T whole milk or cream or half-and-half, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp vanilla, a handful of chocolate chips or a big spoonful of nutella, and 1 T of water and mix.  Microwave for 80 seconds and eat the WHOLE DAMNED THING BY YOURSELF.


Red wine is starting to give me headaches the morning after I drink it.  I still buy it by the box (so classy), but I’ve cut my consumption like crazy.  I feel better, and I’ve slimmed down, but sometimes a girl needs a little something to pair with those milk-chocolate-salted-caramels she buys at Costco (God help me).  Here are other drinks that go with exhaustion, laundry, and chocolate at the end of the day:


  • Scotch
  • Spiced Rum over ice
  • Rum in hot tea
  • White Russian
  • Tequila – sip to savor, shoot it if your day’s been tough

Brandy, nicely warmed

  • Port, in one of those nice crystal port glasses you got as a wedding gift but never use


Need a midday boost?  I like to put a couple of scoops of chocolate ice cream in a pint glass and then pour the rest of the morning’s cold coffee over the top.  I let it sit for a minute, then I stir it around to make a nice, caffeinated coffee shake.  Pairs well with the shattered dreams of all you thought you’d accomplish today but didn’t and counting down the rest of the busy hours until you can make that mug cake and a drink.


National Chocolate Day.  National Chocolate Life more like it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

AWOK (Away WithOut Kids)


My husband, God bless him, is not a gift-giver.  I used to really like receiving gifts, so this was tough on me early in our marriage.  I buy little gifts all the time and I save up big gift ideas for Christmas and birthday, which, in Tony’s case, come back-to-back.  Often, however, Tony will ruin my gift-giving ideas by just going and buying himself whatever he wants when he wants it.  Clearly, he does not punish himself with delayed gratification like I do.


When Tony does give a gift, though, it ends up being super thoughtful and extravagant.  Gorgeous sapphire drop earrings one Christmas, pretty, delicate wine glasses one birthday, and then, for no reason whatsoever, a night away from the kids and the house last weekend.


Okay, it’s not for no reason whatsoever.  It’s because I’m going batshit crazy.


It’s because Charles throws a tantrum about stupid math homework every other day – he could breeze through it in 30 seconds, but he thinks it’s so. stinking. dumb. that he has to do counting and basic addition and subtraction problems that he whines and cries about how he wishes he could go back in time and stop the first teacher who ever assigned homework from doing so, thereby preventing this demonic concept of “homework” from ever being invented.  Guess who gets to be the homework parent right after school each day?  Yep, me.  I talk that kid off a ledge all the time about that ridiculous homework and honestly, I think half of the reason I have so much trouble is that Charles thinks that I am possibly too dumb to understand his homework.  He won’t listen, no matter how I try to explain the concepts.


It’s because Jamie’s emotions outrun his reasoning skills 8407256 times each day, and I have to employ every negotiating tactic I’ve ever learned from watching formulaic cop-dramas (“Put the stick down so we can talk about it, Jamie.  Why don’t you come over here and give me your list of demands?  You don’t really want to hurt anyone, so just let go of your brother’s ear and walk away.  Time-out is no fun, kiddo, put the rock down.”) just to get through the day.  He’s often in time-out and he often loses privileges.  He just as often snuggles up to me and asks me to read stories, but geez, it would be nice to have some middle ground between “infuriating” and “sweet as sugar.”



It’s because Freddie never sleeps and he never, ever wants to stop nursing.  I can’t really remember what it feels like to be well-rested.  At this point, it would take me a month just to fill the giant hole of sleep debt in my life.


Tony, apparently, has been making plans for me to have a night away with some girlfriends for MONTHS.  That’s love, people, plain and simple.  My friend Jodi picked me and two other friends up on Saturday morning and drove us to Canada.  I felt like yelling to my children, “Sorry, SUCKERS.  I’m going to be in A DIFFERENT COUNTRY for the next 36 hours!”  Oh, sweet freedom.  We drank all day long, soaked in a hot tub, went shopping and walking, shared laughs, and gorged ourselves on fantastic sushi.  And then I didn’t get out of bed to nurse a screaming child once, all night long.


36 whole hours of ADULT TIME.  Best gift of the year.