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.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Nurse Freddie Helps Out

My mom had hip surgery two weeks ago and I haven’t quite recovered.


She, on the other hand, is recovering quite nicely.


The surgery was September 30, and we decided to go ahead and do a big strategy retreat for our business a few days later.  The beginning of the month is always busy for me at work (bank reconciliations, sales tax returns, etc), but then we talked our way into a huge list of new tasks and undertakings at that meeting.  Additionally, Freddie has decided that he will never sleep again, so I face a raging sleep-deprivation-induced migraine every day while Tony steadily gets angrier and angrier.  We look like raccoons, so deep are the shadows under our eyes.


Mom came to stay with us a few days after her surgery, right after my in-laws came to stay for a day, which was right after the surgery and right after my dad was here for a few days while mom was in the hospital (that’s a lot of houseguests).  We kept mom in the basement, which sounds bad.  And maybe it was, but she had bathroom access and it was all one level, straight from the garage to the elevated couch (here’s a tip: if someone you know has a total hip replacement, raise your couch up several inches – six or seven – so they can easily get on and off of it).  Charles practiced piano for her, Buster guarded her during the day, and Jamie and Freddie were mostly out of her way.



Well, mostly.  Freddie liked to visit for a second at a time.


Leland had a hard time seeing our mom in the hospital and then in recovery at home.  I understand it – I mean, no one wants to see their mom as an invalid, in pain, unable to walk.  But after some self-examination (am I so hard-hearted that I was emotionally unaffected by mom’s state of health?), I realized that I was totally cool with this whole surgery thing because, more than anything else, it indicated that our mom was healthy and on her way to getting healthier.  Nursing a post-op patient is so much different than nursing a terminally sick one.  There were no big issues of life at stake here.  Rather, there is nothing but hope in her convalescence.  In a few months, mom will walk better than she has in years.


This is not to say that it was easy.  Caring for anyone is hard work.  After I safely delivered mom to dad (with the help of afternoon coffee on the long drive, something in which I don’t usually indulge), Freddie and I proceeded to clean house, grocery shop, and cook a dozen or so freezer meals for my parents.  Well, I did those things.  Freddie took care of grandma and practiced his cute.


mom3 mom2

photo (45)


So here it is mid-month and I’m still doing beginning-of-the-month stuff at work, Charles has early release all week so I go home early after not finishing my work at the office, I haven’t had time for a run in almost two weeks, and I am completely out of ideas for dinner.  No matter what I make, the children complain about it.  So, you know what?  I’m fucking done.  Breakfast for dinner and all the vegetables shoved into a smoothie.  I hope my mom gets better soon so she can come visit and take care of me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Boys Are Gross, Entry #9143

I don’t know how they figured it out, but my boys now know that I am disgusted by the sound of gargling.  I tried not to let on, to disguise my flinching when they would gargle their saliva as I brushed their teeth, but they figured it out.  And now they gargle their own spit ALL THE TIME.  It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me.  Gargling water is not so bad, or even orange juice or milk, but saliva?  *Shudder*  So. gross.


It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t know that I hate that sound, but they do.  It’s become apparent to me over the past seven years that you must not, as a parent, EVER let on that something weird bothers you.  Your children will exploit your weakness long past the point where it is funny to ANYONE except them.  Vultures.  Tiny, adorable vultures.  Tiny, adorable vultures who GARGLE CONSTANTLY.




What is it about babies that makes them instantly shove their fists down to their butt as soon as their diaper is off?  I swear, I no sooner get the diaper unsnapped than Freddie shoves his baby-strong arms down so he can grope himself, poop and all.  I can’t hold his arms up and wipe him down and change him simultaneously, of course (where is that third arm when I need it?), and he’s started to do that thing that all babies do (don’t you dare tell me that your sweet, little muffin doesn’t do this – I don’t want to hear it!) where if he’s not actively grabbing at his junk, he’s squirming his little butt right off the changing table.


It seems cruel to handcuff a baby to a changing table… and yet.  Have we invented baby handcuffs yet?




We all went to a little girl’s birthday party on Sunday: pink and ribbons and My Little Pony and a craft with glitter and stickers.  We also swam, and my boys pretty much ignored the pink things and made their own fun by kicking around a balloon and eating copious amounts of popcorn and Red Vines (it helped that they absolutely adore the birthday girl).  As all the kids were huddled around the birthday girl, watching, rapt, as she opened her presents, Charles surreptitiously put his hands up to his face and started squeaking out fart noises.  Quietly at first, then louder and a little longer on each “fart.”  Pretty soon, kids in front of him began to look around to see who was farting.  Adults behind him, those who couldn’t see his elbows raised straight out from his face like wings, began to wonder who was tooting up a storm.  One dad was silently laughing so hard he was red in the face and looked like he was suffering from a seizure.  At that moment, Tony and I decided it had gone on too long. 


“Charles…” we both said, in that adult warning voice that you know you all do, stretching out the syllables so the kid knows he’s going to get in trouble if he keeps it up.


He turned and looked at us with a mischievous grin.  So hard to ruin his fun when I was dying with laughter inside, too.


Many of the other adults laughed out loud, though, thereby reinforcing his behavior.  I anticipate many more stealth fart symphonies in the future.