Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Does NOT Spuds Great

My phone autocorrects “sounds great” to “spuds great” and I usually don’t figure out that it has happened until much later.  So now I’m thinking I’ll just try to make it a thing.  “Hey Amelia, want to meet for lunch?”  “Spuds great!”  It’ll probably catch on.

 

Do you know what doesn’t spuds great to anyone, ever?  A stomach bug during a vacation weekend.  Which is exactly what happened to me.  And then Tony, but with more dramatic results.  “Dramatic” and “stomach bug” are two things that should never go together, yet often do. 

 

First, we drove to Ilwaco.  It’s like Tony’s an escaped convict or something – he hasn’t seen the sun in months, he hasn’t driven farther than Bellingham in months, and, the world outside is strange and new to him.  He hasn’t had to put up with all three children and the dog in a car since the last road trip in October (that’s not so much the exhilarating feeling of escaping from prison as it is begging to go back to prison because the real world is just too horrible for words), and the extremity of annoyance on a road trip with three kids and a dog is astounding to those unused to it.

 

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This guy is happiest when we’re not moving.

 

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He’s especially happy if we’re not moving AND he’s driving the not-moving car.

 

I feel comfortable in saying that I am a veteran road-tripper-with-children.  They have to pee at inopportune times (middle of rush-hour traffic in Seattle, for instance, when you’re totally gridlocked and even if you weren’t, getting off the freeway is no guarantee of an easy gas-station bathroom).  They are always hungry for some sort of snack that is not in the car and that you probably wouldn’t have purchased/brought for the ride anyway (candy! watermelon! scrambled eggs!).  They are too hot, too cold, too loud, or bored.  In short, they are terrible traveling companions.  And when they do get out of the car, they go bonkers.  Tony, who is bewildered by sunlight and people doing things other than taxes during daylight hours, just sort of blinks wonderingly at the world when we stop.  Charles and Jamie start to wrestle because, hey, we made it all the way to Tacoma, we’d been on the road for two hours, and they were afraid they were never going to be able to use their legs again ever.

 

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Booth shenanigans

 

The cure for this craziness is chocolate milk, administered, if not intravenously, then with a straw.  Unless you are me and you outlaw straws in chocolate milk because of the mess.  Then, the only cure is a Happy Meal Toy (Transformers right now, total win).

 

Also, the family rule: everyone goes to the bathroom every time we stop.  Everyone.  Every time.

 

The first weekend in May is always Loyalty Days on the Long Beach Peninsula, and the boys start things off with a kiddie parade.  When Charles was four years old, he won a trophy for his bike entry.  This year, Jamie won the trophy.  (Please excuse the lack of bike helmets – it was a special occasion and they were going about two miles per hour.)

 

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Jamie won because he was cute.  Charles nearly gave me a heart attack because he is a daredevil.  I didn’t get a photo of him standing on the crossbar of his bike, but he rode it around that way throughout the parade.

 

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Getting ready to stand like an idiot acrobat

 

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Freddie thinks hats are bullshit

 

The next day, the big boys got to ride in a fire truck, and Charles got to work the horn.  I can’t stress what how big of a deal this was.

 

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By then, however, I was snuggled into the the couch, fighting fever and chills, and never straying far from the bathroom.  Tony and my parents took the kids to the big parade, but afterward I still didn’t feel well enough to endure a long car ride with three kids and a dog, so Tony decided to borrow my parents’ car and drive home with Charles.  I would follow with the smaller children and a parent the next day – my mom or dad would retrieve their car and drive back home.  Not ideal, but I was too sick to argue at all. 

 

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He should have opted for snuggle time, too

 

I was also too sick to question Tony about how he felt, which was apparently something along the lines of “not too great.”  After he vomited in a Taco Time in Olympia, he chose to turn back to Ilwaco.  We all came home yesterday, having each missed a day of work and school.

 

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Cruisin’ kid doesn’t care about school

 

Now we’re all messed up.  There were no leftovers for me to take for lunch today.  It was sunny all weekend and now it is rainy.  Up is down, down is up.  Cats and dogs living together.  It’s crazy.  And no one knows what day it is, seriously.  Charles asked me this morning if it was Friday, which, dude, you haven’t been to school yet this week, how could it be Friday?  And having felt like shit (far too literally, if you ask me) this weekend, I’m wishing it were Friday already, too.  Friday spuds great, man.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Adrenaline Beats Caffeine

I am grossly keyed up.  Hyped.  Jittery.

 

I’ve been going at top speed, in panic mode, since 7:20 this morning, when Tony jumped out of bed saying, “Oh, SHIT!  I have a meeting at 8!”

 

It all started last night.  I had to do some fitness testing for this challenge I’m doing, so I made Tony time me doing a wall sit to failure, tree poses, hamstring extensions, squats with resistance, and bicep curls.  A little punch of endorphins at 10 pm.  Then I realized that because we went out to dinner, we had been thrown so far from our normal routine that I had forgotten to make lunch for Charles AND there was clean laundry in the dryer, including diapers, that I would surely need folded and in its proper place by morning.  We rushed to get it all done by 11 and finally dropped into bed.

 

Freddie awoke, as he usually does, around 1:30.  But then, around 2, he started vomiting, and I mean the really awful, “upchuck the entire contents of his stomach” kind of vomiting (we are, thankfully, past the “spit up every time he nurses” stage).  So after clothing changes and draping our bed in a towel, we three settled in for an uncomfortable sleep.  And more vomiting, but not MUCH more vomiting.

 

Then I got up at 6:45 to blearily hike my way over a mountain of toys in my very messy house so I could feed the dog and make coffee.  Then Jamie woke up, and he was upset that he didn’t get to exercise with me last night, so we traipsed downstairs to “exercise,” by which I mean that Jamie sat and watched me do some squats and pushups and triceps extensions before I made him breakfast.  At this point, it was 7:20 and I was starting to notice that my hair smelled like vomit.  I walked upstairs to wake Tony to come down and eat breakfast with Jamie (there’s not much sadder than seeing a three-year-old silently sit alone at the table and eat ever so slowly), which is when Tony popped up and shouted expletives on his way to the shower.

 

From that point on, I was a whirling dervish of activity.  “Charles!  Get out of bed!”  “Jamie!  Get your shoes on!”  We got out the door in record time and made it to school faster than ever.  Laundry!  Dishes!  Stand up!  Sit down!  Fight, fight, fight!

 

And it hasn’t stopped.  I’ve translated this crazy panicked energy into several meetings and tasks at work, I’m about to make a quick trip to the grocery store, I need to get everyone’s bags packed for a weekend away, there’s an accountant party tonight (ain’t no party like an accountant party), and tomorrow I have to do payroll.  It is ALL URGENT.  ALL THE TASKS ARE URGENT.

 

If you talk to me today, please keep in mind that I’ve got something much more powerful than chocolate and caffeine combined: sleep-deprived, panic-inducing adrenaline because I have more to do than I have time to do it!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Stand-Up Guy

He’s inordinately proud of himself.

 

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Every milestone, it seems, comes with an increased level of panic and security in the house.  No longer is it enough to clean up marbles and other chokeables from the floor; now I have to make sure that the spilled yogurt is immediately cleaned up from the chair and that Freddie doesn’t crawl too close to the stools (they tip over when he tries to hoist himself up to standing on them).

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Not long from now, I’ll have to re-lock all the cabinets and figure out how to keep the toilets from attracting baby hands.  Charles always went after the toilets, but Jamie never did, so we haven’t locked them since Charles was a baby.  Given the frequency with which I find Freddie playing in the dog water bowl, playing in the toilets is a reasonable worry.  Toilet seat up?  Easy access to whatever’s in the toilet (oh, your toilet only ever has water when no one is standing in front of it or sitting on it?  Mine has any number of things in it at all times: poop, pee, dinosaur figurines, Cheerios… life with children is pretty exciting).  Toilet seat down?  Perfect opportunity for a small person to lift the seat up and then smash it down on his own fingers (we are experienced in such.  We are also experienced in wiener smashing, when one child wanted to lift the toilet seat juuuuuust a little bit instead of putting it all the way up to pee and then accidentally dropped it).

 

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Also, books on the bookshelf within reach are being dumped to the floor every day and the poor, beleaguered  houseplant is being decimated by small hands and teeth.

 

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This is why we can’t have nice things.  Good thing I don’t really care, right?  Pass the wine.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Aaaand, We’re Clear.

Just like that, late nights with a teething baby aside, things feel so much better.

 

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Tony’s going to need more recovery time. 

 

Every year, it feels like it couldn’t get any worse, and then it does get worse, and then all of a sudden, it’s all better.  Tax season is a bitch and I KNOW I complain a lot, but it seriously sucks balls.  Never again will I have a nursing baby during tax season, though, so I’m hoping that it will only get easier to handle from here on out.

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 photo 3 (76)   Hooray!  Daddy’s home!

And now here we are, just starting the season of sunshine and baseball, bikes and walks to the park, barbeques in the backyard with friends, and sunscreen.  So much sunscreen.  Skin cancer is a foolish thing to die from, you know?

 

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Guess what else happened while we were all strung out on too little sleep and too much work?  This guy turned nine months old, complete with weigh-in and measurement and confirmation from the doctor that he is the cutest baby alive:

 

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Who, me?

 

He weighs almost 20 pounds and is some length (28.5 inches?  I think?  Poor third child…) that is healthy and normal.  In fact, he’s right where Jamie was at this point in his life, a fact I know because I can look back at old photos and see Jamie wearing the same clothes that Freddie is wearing now.

 

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Speaking of Jamie, he is Freddie’s favorite person in the whole world right now.  He puts on a show for his little brother and Freddie encourages him with laughs and shrieks and giggles.  They’ll probably fight like cats and dogs later in life (dogs win, of course), but for now, they are best friends.

 

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Sometimes I think, three kids, what was I thinking?  Other times I think, three brothers, they are so lucky.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Young Humans Are Absurd

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We’re slowly losing our minds around here.  I consume vast quantities of coffee and chocolate to make it through the day and lament the lack of wine at night (not because I don’t have any, but because I am all alone since Tony has been going back to work at night AND getting up super early in the morning and it seems foolish to drink more than half a glass when I am solely responsible for the health and well-being of three small people).  The children get weirder and weirder as they get more and more bored with mom. 
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They’ve taken to enumerating their Christmas wish lists, eight months early.  Both Charles and Jamie are asking Santa for night vision goggles, jet packs, rocket launchers, and a skateboard this year.  Jamie also wants a lightsaber.  Charles would like a jacket with a hood that goes over his whole face (whaaa?).

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I left the lot of them with a bleary-eyed Tony (he’s always bleary-eyed these days) yesterday and went for a run.  Charles shouted after me, “Have a good run, mommy!  I hope you don’t get bitten by a raccoon!”  Me, too, I guess.  I hadn’t thought of it as a risk before now.

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Jamie refuses to wear clothes.  It’s all footie pajamas, all the time.  Sometimes with a cape.

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There is constant posing, either with silly faces or like superheroes. 

I find myself saying things like, “Don’t lick your shoe!” and “Don’t sit on your brother’s face!”

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The baby’s hand smelled like my skin in 6th grade when I finally got the cast off my broken wrist after 6 weeks.  Sort of dirty and fermented.  Third children aren’t bathed very often.

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The mess in our house is indescribable.  Oh, April 15.  Come soon!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spring Break, and Other Cook Family Disasters

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I think he prefers the sink bath.

 

For the first of what will be many Spring Break trips without Tony, the boys and I visited their grandparents and cousins last week.  I survived, but not without sacrificing yet another piece of my soul on the altar of parenthood.

 

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My parents and in-laws did the best they could to get me some extra sleep, for which I am ever thankful, and they all cooked for me, which was amazing.  We didn’t have a schedule, so I didn’t nag at the boys to brush their teeth or get their shoes on or even to go to bed.  They really needed a break, I think.

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They found Grandma’s Sharpie markers. It still hasn’t worn off.

 

Oh, but it was hard.  First, there’s the traffic.  It took us three hours to go from Mount Vernon to South Tacoma and most of that time was spent with the boys yelling “Mommy, I have to go potty!” or “I have to go potty REALLY BAD” and me yelling back (they were wearing headphones), “Just HOLD IT, we’re on the freeway!”  Yeah, we pulled over on the freeway, twice, in stop-and-go traffic so that the big kids could pee out the van door.  Should I be more embarrassed?  Probably, but I’m not.  Better out than in.

 

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And then, of course, Freddie is teething, in a sort of interminable way, so that he’s always uncomfortable and gumming things but has only one tooth poking through and no others even ready that we can see.  With the teething come the colds and runny noses and red cheeks.  And because I am an idiot, I thought he would sleep and mostly be fine in the car on the drive to the beach.  Ha.  Hahahahahahahaha.  He screamed all the way from Olympia to Montesano.  I got him out of the car seat in Montesano and he crawled around, happy as can be, for ten minutes, and then promptly started screaming when I put him back in his seat.  He screamed until we were within 30 minutes of my parents’ house, at which point he finally passed out, much to my relief.  Except that until he fell asleep, I was doing that numb thing where I just tuned it out as best I could (after all, we had to get there, and it was the getting there that he objected to), but as soon as he fell asleep, I felt absolutely horrible.  All my baby wanted was to be comforted and instead I callously let him scream for hours on end.  Shame.

 

For the next two long drives, I drugged him with ibuprofen ahead of time.  No more rookie mistakes there!

 

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I made them all get out of the car to look at Multnomah Falls.  In the rain.  They hated it.

 

The stays in Ilwaco and Richland were low-key and would have been relaxing if I had slept.  I would have slept if Jamie and Freddie had slept.  They didn’t.  Also, I was sorely needed at work – I do a full-time job in something less than part-time hours and I feel guilty and terrible with every hour I have to put my little boys in daycare.  I feel guilty and terrible with every minute I spend on my boys and away from the business and our livelihood.

 

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Where Freddie spent most of his time at Grandma’s house.

 

Now, having returned, I am just as much an ogre to my kids as before.  Would you like to feel better about yourself by judging my (not) stellar parenting?  I screamed at Jamie SO HARD this morning.  I stomped my feet and threw things and generally had a temper tantrum.  Other moms might think they are failing at motherhood because of the pileup of dishes and laundry or the lack of gourmet meals; I know am failing because I am a beast who can’t seem to keep from yelling at her kids and whose kids seem to deliberately infuriate her because, I don’t know, they want to or something.  There are many big disadvantages to this Spring Break thing (now that I’m a parent, I would advocate for 2000-hour-a-year school), but the most immediate to my life right now is that my children are fucking tired of me.  I may be the parent to take them on fun trips to new places, but I am not the fun parent. 

 

We will go on a Spring Break trip every year.  Tony needs the time to work without us (I think he only came home to sleep while we were gone, and not very much at that) and I can’t really fathom keeping the boys at home or at work with me for a whole week each spring.  But if it never gets better than this year’s harrowing, exhausting trip, I might just book myself into a spa and send them away to survival camp or something.  Hell, they could run the survival camp.  I can barely survive them and I gave birth to them, so good luck to anyone else.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Stone Fox

I picked up Stone Fox from the library for Charles a week ago.  He skipped over it in favor of Zapato Power and Bunjitsu Bunny, but we finally got to it on Sunday night.  I read about half of the book then (it moves pretty quickly and is not a long chapter book) and Tony read the rest Monday night.

 

I was in my bathroom taking out my contacts when Charles came in to tell me about the end of the book.  I knew what was coming and I started tearing up right away.

 

“Mommy, Searchlight and Willy were doing the race and Grandfather got better and then they stopped ten feet from the finish line and Searchlight’s heart burst!”

 

“Oh, honey, I know…”

 

I enveloped Charles in my arms as he told me the rest of the story and sobbed.  Then I sobbed.  Then we read the last three pages of the book again and sobbed some more.  Then we had a lovely, long talk about loyalty, sacrifice, sacrificial love, respect, and pride in others.

 

The best books are the ones that make us feel something.  I am so glad that Charles was so affected by Searchlight’s sacrifice and death in the story.  Novels teach our children empathy, provide opportunities for difficult conversations, and give me a chance to see the softer side of this tough-as-nails kid.

 

 

This was his fourth chin-up, engaged solely for documentation purposes.  Apparently, he does them on the playground at recess every day.

 

Books, man.  Books.