Monday, February 29, 2016

Get Right Outta Town!

There is a serious issue we have to discuss right now: WHY do children have to pee at the LEAST opportune times during a roadtrip?  I mean, come on kids.  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.  Don’t just ignore it until we’ve reached a traffic jam in the Tacoma S-curves and you have to go URGENTLY RIGHT NOW IMMEDIATELY MOM PLEASE I HAVE TO GO.

My kids have peed out the door of the van in rush hour, on the off-ramp at the Ft. Lewis – McChord Army/Air Force Base (forcing me to go through the checkpoint and then be officially turned back around as a soldier stopped oncoming traffic for me and waved me through), in vast numbers of McDonald’ses and gas stations and in bushes by the side of the road.  I don’t think they enjoy such improvised bathrooms, but damned if they’ll change their ways.  This latest trip had us squealing into the parking lot at Krispy Kreme for Charles to run inside while I gathered the others – there are worse places, I’ll admit.  While I didn’t indulge in a donut, I did enjoy smelling the donuts.  Odors don’t have calories, right?  I’m down to one run per week due to schedule constraints, so donuts are off-limits.  Sad face.

I can’t recall being this antsy this early in tax season before.  Tony has been up and gone to the office before 4 am for weeks now and though he doesn’t like to beg, I can tell he wants to ask me for more time to work.  I pulled the kids out of school at noon on Thursday and we hit the road.  We listened to our favorite songs from the Cars soundtrack at least fifty times, had an earnest discussion about Ninjago, and generally made the most of 5 hours in the car together.  It helped that no one farted the whole drive, not even the dog.

This is what weekends at the beach are for:

Eating cake with your hands.


Hanging out with Grandpa.


Walking on the beach.



Playing in the sand.








Good friends.


Watching Victor Borge on the big screen.


Not pictured: My mommy making me dinner, Jamie handily beating me and Liz at Sequence Jr., that one glorious nap I took with Jamie, that one run I went on (did I mention I’m down to one run a week, even on a weekend away, and it’s KILLING ME), staying up too late drinking wine and watching TV with my dad, and general lazy relaxing during the day because nobody went to bed at a decent time or slept through the night while we were gone.

Does Tony appreciate our absence?  I think so.  Kinda hard to tell because less family time means more working time for him.  In his shoes, I’m not sure I’d relish the trade.  I mentioned to our doctor this morning that he didn’t even shower while we were away and the doc said, “Geez, he’s not in college.”  So now I know that my doctor thought showering was unnecessary in college.  I’m not sure how that makes me feel.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Druid Made Me Do It

Freddie, this darling child of mine, the baby, the mama’s boy who doesn’t ever want to sleep without me by his side, will not say “Mama.”  Or “Mommy.”  Or “Mom.”




He says “Mah!” to indicate when he wants “more” or that something is “mine.”  When he wants me to pick him up, he puts his arms out and whines.  When he points at me, he says, “Sthat?” which is his version of “what’s that?”  He also says “Sthat?” when he wants you to name the animal on the fridge magnet and make the corresponding animal noise (usually monkey).




I’ll admit, this feels like a betrayal.  He can say “doggie” and “daddy” and “banana” and “frog” and “moo” and “woof woof” and a whole host of other things.  But never “mama.”




It’s been a rough couple of days.  I dropped my phone while I was getting it and my keys out of my purse after my workout class last night, a class that takes me away from my family at dinner time two nights per week but without which I feel terrible.  I am addicted to the endorphins, I guess, enough so that I willingly give up family time and make Tony manage dinner on his own every Tuesday and Thursday night (I still prepare dinner, mind you, I just don’t eat with them).  I haven’t given in to the guilt for that because I’ve viewed it, for the past year that I’ve been taking this class, as totally necessary for my sanity.  But then I dropped my phone, my new phone that Tony bought me with his bonus, and broke the screen.  I took time off of work this morning to see about getting it fixed – it will cost an arm and a leg and not be ready until Monday.


And then it all came rushing in.  And I tell you what, I am good at guilt.  I am good at self-flaggelation.  This is what I get for not spending the precious dinner hour with my family.  I’m the reason I don’t have nice things.  A daycare is raising my children.  I’m a stressed-out bitch most of the time.  I haven’t ironed Tony’s shirts in ages and he’s running low; what kind of a shitty wife am I?  How can I punish myself for this boneheaded mistake?  Maybe if it hurts enough this time, I won’t do it again.


It never works.  34 years old and still doing dumb, klutzy shit.  Makes me feel like I’m not worth the space I take up.


Here’s something to help me feel better:  Amazon’s 99 Romance Novels for 99-cents sale.  I don’t want to read any of them, I’m just super amused by the titles.  Here are my favorite:


1. The Druid Made Me Do It

2. Passion Fish

3. Riding the Thunder

4. A Wolf In Wolf’s Clothing

5. Texas Hold Him

6. A Stroke of Magic (oh, really?)

7. The Half Breed

8. Daddy With A Deadline


Thank God there are still people out there more absurd than I am.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Things My Kids Don’t Like

My big kids don’t like these things, just go ahead and ask them:

1. Tomatoes, unless it’s in soup form or ketchup form or pasta-sauce form or pizza-sauce form or enchilada-sauce form or mixed into their favorite soups and main dishes, like lentil soup or taco soup or minestrone soup, all of which have a tomato base.

2. Corn, but frozen corn is okay for Jamie while Charles will eat corn-on-the-cob, but please don’t try to serve it off the cob and warm, and don’t put it in soup except taco soup, and they really would rather not eat cornbread with actual kernels of corn in it unless you drench it in butter and honey, then it’s okay, and oh, yeah, they like popcorn, too.

3. School, all school, any school, except when it’s gym day, or when the preschooler gets to go outside, and plus they like their friends and school is where their friends are, and when there are holiday parties it’s pretty cool, too, and nacho day in the cafeteria is always a plus, and maybe today we’ll do some hard math so that will be fun, and I like library day, and Friday is the after-school program and that’s awesome.

4. Piano lessons, except when Charles gets to play Star Wars songs or Charlie Brown songs, which is EVERY time, and also piano lessons are fun because he gets to jump on a trampoline before and after his lesson.

5. Swim lessons, except as soon as they get in the water, then they’re amazing.

6. Walking to school, except every morning after we start walking, when it quickly becomes the “best time of the day because we get to talk together.”

7. Playing outside, except as soon as they actually get outside and start chasing each other and fighting with light sabers and drawing ninjas in chalk on the sidewalk and then they don’t want to come in, ever, will you please bring our snack outside, mommy?

8. Bedtime, because they’re not tired.  And they need a drink of water.  And please can I have another kiss?  Mommy, you forgot to kiss me!  And their brothers breathe too loudly so they can’t sleep, and they don’t need this much sleep, why do they have to go to bed so early, and it’s too dark and the nightlight is too light, and did I tell you I’m just not tired?  I need more time to read zzzzzzzzzzz…

9. Grocery shopping, which they think is stupid even though they like to eat, but also great because they get the chance to complain about meals in their raw, unassembled form and since they clearly love complaining more than anything in the whole world, you’d think this was the highlight of their day.  Also, free doughnuts for kids because the grocery store knows that hell hath no crazy like a toddler in a grocery store.

10. Cleaning their rooms, unless I get sneaky and ask them to take out the compost, which stinks.  Then they’ll gladly bargain for a “lesser sentence” and clean their rooms with gusto.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Start Over. Start Over. Start Over.

I come before you today a broken woman.  Temporarily broken, that is.  I know that I will pick up the pieces before this afternoon, put myself back together, and try to parent the best way I can for the rest of the night.  It could be that I’ll shatter into a million little pieces again before tonight, maybe even several times, but I’ll scrape myself off that floor and soldier on.


These boys are more than I can handle right now.  They whine, they throw fits, they disrespect me, they flaunt the rules, they ignore me and any request or question or order I might give, they talk back, and they’re teaching the baby to do the same, in his own little 19-month-old way.  My patience runs out before 8 am every. single. day.  I find myself screaming at them in anger and frustration.  They have taken to screaming back at me.  I, in turn, have taken to crying in the bathroom or in my car after I drop them at school.  I am ashamed of my behavior.  I am ashamed of theirs.




And still, I go on.  I will take them to ninja gymnastics tonight, I will feed them dinner, read them their stories, brush their teeth, and somehow put them to bed.  I will prep their diaper bags and backpacks and lunches for tomorrow.  I will find some words of kindness to give them even though I have nothing left.


After I took this video, I showed it to him. He stopped crying and asked me to play it again and again.


My children are beautiful.  They are smart and funny.  They are interesting.  I love them more than I love life itself.  But I am a poor excuse for a parent sometimes.  I get frustrated and I lose my cool, shouting at them, revoking every privelege they have, and stalking away when I can’t deal.  I feel alone and helpless in the face of the terrible mess I’m making of three humans.




Pick up the pieces.  Pray for guidance and forgiveness.  Hug and kiss them when I can’t find the words.  Remind them that I love them, even when I’m disappointed.  Wash, rinse, repeat.




“Do you see that line on the sidewalk, guys?” I said as we were on our way to school this morning.  “When we cross that line, we’re going to start over.  We’re going to start fresh for the day.  I’m sorry I got so frustrated with you, but I’m letting go.  And I forgive you for the way you behaved.  Let’s start again.  Let’s have an awesome day.”  And when we had to turn around because of a problem that wouldn’t let us continue our walk to school, I breathed deeply to stop the tears leaking from my eyes and said, “We’re starting fresh from this minute forward.  We’re starting new.  And I will have patience and I will be positive.”




Every minute.  Every second.  Start fresh.  Start over.




If the constant nagging, the lessons, the talks, the experiences, and all the other parenting work I do doesn’t penetrate into their thick skulls over the years, maybe they’ll at least learn that we can always make the choice to try again.  We can choose to pick up the pieces and start over, even if we have to keep picking them up and keep starting over every damn minute.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Swim Monsters

Swim lessons are one of my non-negotiables: my kids will take lessons until they learn to swim, end of story.  They complain, but mostly because they complain about everything.  I’m the one who has created an hour-and-a-half of chaos and madness for myself as I wrangle them through the bowels of the YMCA twice a week for a 30-minute class.  But I don’t complain; I just have a glass of wine when they’re all in bed and congratulate myself on surviving.

While I continue to get the pitying looks from the other parents (“Wow,” they seem to say, “three boys!  I’m glad I’m not her.”), I’m trying to be sage about the whole swim lesson process.  Charles and Jamie get into their suits at home to minimize pre-lesson time in the locker room because being in the locker room is akin to giving them a direct injection of high fructose corn syrup: they immediately turn hyperactive and stop listening to anything I say or shout in that echo-y space.  All they have to do when we get to the Y is try not to die in the parking lot as they race into the building, then take their shoes off, put the bags in the lockers, go potty, and take a shower.

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We’ve only gone two days so far, and Jamie only got locked in a locker once, so I’ll call that a win.


Freddie wishes he could swim, too.  He wishes it so much that several times a lesson he makes a beeline for the water, shrieking with joy that he escaped my clutches.  The lifeguards must have mild heart attack every time they see us walk in.  I bring books, snacks, and toys to keep him busy, but we still spend a goodly portion of the class walking around the pool and looking at the kids, his tiny hand in my iron fist to keep him from jumping in.

Selfies only distract for a few seconds.

Charles swims like a fish.  No, a shark.  He’s fast and he wants to be faster.  He has always been a rule follower, and in the pool is no exception.  He does what his teacher asks, he listens, he overshares completely irrelevant factoids about how well the characters in Ninjago swim before diving in and racing underwater or practicing his strokes.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he graduated out of the swimming lessons by next year.


Jamie, on the other hand, is a total spaz in the water.  Last year, he was apprehensive about the whole deal, eventually ending our three months of lessons by graduating to the second of the lowest pre-K classes.  This year, he cannonballs into the water, dog paddles away when his teacher asks the class to kick while holding onto the wall, and turns endless circles in the water when he’s supposed to be practicing his strokes.  He could not give a flying fuck about what his teacher wants him to do in swim class.  I’m certain the other parents are looking at this disrespectful kid who just goofs off the whole time (“Oh, it’s her child, the one with the three boys.”) and are grateful he’s not theirs, but honestly, he’s just so damn happy that it’s tough to get angry.  And what would getting angry help, anyhow?  Jamie marches to the beat of his own drummer, he’s not rude, he’s four, and he’s having fun.  Maybe he’ll even learn to swim in the bargain.

Blue lips – this kid has not an ounce of insulating fat on his body

Remind me to give his teacher a tip at the end of class, though.  She’s working hard to keep his flailing to a minimum.

So, should you endeavor to take three kids to swim lessons, here are a few tips:

Let them shower (with soap) for a nice, long time after the pool.  Free bath for the day!  One you don’t have to fight about or clean up after!  And bonus, if the kids shower long enough, the locker room clears out so you have plenty of room for the toddler to repeatedly slip and fall on his ass.

Eventually, he just sat down.

Take double the towels.  The first towel is used to quickly dry the hair and down the body and then goes on the floor to stand on.  The second towel dries the body after the suit is off.

Pack snacks.  My kids are ravenous after swimming and I reserve the purchase of the Y’s Red Vines for when they’ve been especially good.

Make them carry their own shit.  I carry enough.  Even Freddie has to get up the stairs by himself.


Swimming: the tax-season activity that may or may not kill me this year.