Monday, December 17, 2012

Art, Facts and Chickens

Sara's mind is a wonderful, random and fascinating place. Sara is brilliant, perceptive and hilarious. I love watching her mind in action. This is just a small glimpse into her mind. Enjoy the ride. Wherever it takes you. These are some of the gems in her journal. Give me your money or else. When I am fifty, I will have been alive for awhile. I can't wait until I am nineteen and in college. My brain is filled with facts. Once I read a book filled with adjectives, nouns, pronouns, adverbs and other grammar. I like spinach but not for dessert. Mom told Christian to clean up but the crayons remained on the desk anyway. Speak and reason with them. Sara, I believe one day you will be the chief of the group. For a brief moment, the fairies imagined migrating with the beetles to an arid place. Sometime between now and when I die, I will go on a great adventure. Even as a grown man, Edward loved pillow fights. As a poet, I write many poems. I don't really remember what a strait is. I already know decimals. Everyone alive is breathing. I don't what the words "financial", "finality" or "annul" mean. Striped cheetahs don't exists, but wouldn't it be cool if they did? Fairies are definitely not make-believe. In a haunted house, there is a mad scientist's laboratory. A handkerchief is like a tissue. I cannot find a sentence for barnacle. We came back from our search with enormous piles of gold for everyone. Have you ever seen a scrawny kitten with an attitude? I will probably accomplish many things in my life. Always approach chickens calmly. Art, in my opinion, explains attitudes and ideas. Canadian, Chinese, Greek, Russian and nationality are a little hard to find sentences for. Lunar eclipses are very dangerous if you live near the sea. My dad marveled at how I tried and tried to startle him. I don't like to be trifled with. She decided to challenger herself this year. She wants to see how many vocabulary words she can use in one sentence. So far, her record is six. And the sentence made sense. At least, it did to Sara.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Three Little Words

I recently went on vacation with 2 friends from high school. We have been through it all together -first boyfriends, first breakups, college acceptances and rejections and all the associated drama, laughter and tears. They saw me through my mother's illness and death. We are all adults now with jobs, husbands, family and responsibilities. We were anxious to get away and have some laughs. We sat in the sun, caught up and reminisced. My friend posed an interesting question to us. Describe yourself in three words. I thought about it and came up with my three words. They came up with their 3 words. I was surprised to notice that my three words were negative. I focused on the things about myself that I didn't like - my weaknesses, faults and insecurities. They focused on their strengths. They focused on the parts of their lives that give them the most satisfaction. I always thought of myself as a happy person with a good life. And I do have a good life. I am surrounded by amazing friends and family. I have 2 healthy and wonderful kids. I have a husband I adore who loves and respects me. We are a team. We are blessed with what we have. We do not struggle to make ends meet. So, why did I immediately come up with 3 negative things? What does that say about me? I always thought I was the kind of person who looked on the bright side, saw the glass as half full, found the silver lining in everything. I try to find the good in everyone. I guess my point of view is a little darker when I am looking at myself. Life isn't black and white. People have strengths and weaknesses. We have good days and bad days. There are shades of grey in everyone's life. I just need to find the good in me a little more often. So, I came up with three new words for myself. The words themselves are not as important as what they say about me and how I think of myself.
I guess I am a work in progress. What are your three words?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Christmas List

Everything and anything Christian sees nowadays goes on his list for Santa. I swear, if he ever sees an infomercial, he will be asking Santa for a George Foreman grill and a set of steak knives. Any store we go into, he begs and pleads to browse through the aisles, looking for inspiration. Luckily, he is 4 and pretty clueless most of the time. I take a picture with my phone and we move on. Sara, being 8 and pretty tech savvy with the memory of an elephant, is not so easily distracted. She is angling for larger, pricier items. She spends her free time browsing through catalogs and the Internet. Her wish list ranges from Wii and Nintendo DS games to books and American Girl accessories. Right now her list is up to three pages. Christian's list includes just about anything involving Legos that he will need an engineering degree to assemble and anything involving superheroes. In between adding items to his ever-growing list, he asks very pointed questions about Santa and his litmus test. How does Santa see everything? Do Santa and God talk to each other? What counts as naughty? If I am only a little naughty, do I still get presents? Does he take back presents if I am naughty after Christmas? Now the poor kid is really freaked out because he has God AND Santa keeping tabs on his antics. I'm liking having double reinforcements on my side.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Here's My Vote

I am so glad the elections are over. Am I the only one who was disgusted by the childish antics and postings? I'm not even talking about the political ads. I am talking about the ridiculous ranting and ravings on Facebook. I am not overly political. I follow current events. I read up on the issues and candidates then form my own opinion. I do not try to change the views of others. I am grateful to live in a country where I am entitled to my opinions, beliefs and vote. I am a reasonably intelligent adult who can choose my own candidates. I do not think others have the right to try to change my vote. You are entitled to the same respect. I will say that when I read people's curse-filled, vile, angry diatribes on Facebook about the evils of the different candidates, I wonder. Do they not realize how petty, immature and ridiculous they sound? You are not helping your cause. Nor are you convincing me to support your cause or candidate. You do not sound passionate. You do not sound informed. You sound like a 3 year throwing a temper tantrum. And, when your candidate wins, try to pretend to be a mature and responsible adult. Do not gloat and resort to name-calling. I have reads that "my" candidates are the the scum of the Earth and I am even lower for voting for them. I am paraphrasing because I won't use the language I've seen on Facebook. When I read the inflammatory posts, I am beyond glad that we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. I support your right to your vote and your voice. But, for everyone's sake, put on your big boy/girl pants, buy a thesaurus, wash your mouth out with soap
and try to sound and act like a grown up.

Put A Sock In It

Seventeen minutes. That is how long Christian threw a fit this morning about his socks. I stayed calm for 16 of those minutes. Sara waited by the door with her coat, backpack and SHOES on for 10 of those minutes. I finally hauled his barefoot and stubborn self to the car so we could drive Sara to school. Then we headed back home so he could put the dreaded and offensive garments on so we could move on with our lives. This has been a continuing struggle in our lives. It doesn't matter what socks they are. He even flips out about his precious and beloved Spiderman socks. Twice a day, he has to put on socks to leave the house. Twice a day, I wait to see if he throws a hissy (and how long it it will last). I've praised him when he puts them on without fussing. I've congratulated him for being a big kid and getting dressed and ready all by himself. But, sometimes the little stinker just has to throw himself down and pitch the hissy fit of all hissy fits. I have news for you, little fella. You are NOT Cinderella. They are not glass socks that will fit like a glove. You now why? Because they are SOCKS! Put them on and move on with your life. I'm living a nightmare version of the Prince and the Pea. I'm counting down the days until spring is here and I can put the little fashion diva in sandals and skip the drama.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's Not Me, It's You!!

Have you ever been dumped by a friend? Ever outgrown a friend? I think we can all say yes. I've been dumped. It hurts. It's hard when you realize that you no longer have anything in common or have drifted apart. I tend to hold on to my friends for a very long time. It's hard to get rid of me. I have friends I have known since I was 4 years old. Trust me, she has seen and heard it all. And still takes my calls. I was dumped by one of my best friends right after the birth of our son. I was devastated. To me, it was out of the blue. What had I done or said? I was never given the chance to talk it out. I received an email informing me that our friendship was over. Four years later and I realize that it was for the best. I realized that I never felt good enough around her. I never felt like I could just be me. I always felt judged. The comments and put-downs were subtle but they were frequent. My daughter, who was 4 at the time, even commented once that "your friend doesn't seem to like you very much, Mommy". What kind of example was I setting for my daughter? Friends are supposed to build you up, support you and be kind to you. I didn't want her thinking it is ok to be treated or treat anyone that way. I've learned (the hard way) that is ok for people to come in and out of your life. People change. Their situations change. Not everyone stays friends forever. I have friends from all walks of life - different backgrounds, lifestyles, etc. As I get older, I have learned that it isn't about where you come from or how much money you have. Some of my best friends are people I have nothing in common with on paper. Here is what I look for in a friend - kindness, patience and a hell of a good sense of humor. I can be as sarcastic as the next person. I can tease and be teased but I know where the line is. I don't have the time or energy to waste on people who call themselves a friend but put me down. I have had enough of people who brag, criticize, judge and complain. I've done the mompetition. I've hung around the friends who not only judge my parenting, but feel the need to parent my children in front of me. I know I am far from a perfect mom. Trust me, there are days that I am proud my kids are alive at the end of the day. But, I have no desire to parent anyone else's child. I am done with the "keeping up with the Jones's" friends. If you are picking your friends based on their 401k plans, you need to re-evaluate. I wonder about the people who brag about their fancy houses and vacations. Are they happy or are they hiding behind their status? Any, why does it seem, do they always brag in front of the people that they know are struggling to make ends meet? Are they clueless or just really insecure? If you come over to my house, you will be tripping over toys and shoes. There will be dishes in my sink. My kids will probably be fighting. Someone's house will always be bigger, fancier and cleaner. And I am perfectly ok with that. We are blessed with what we have. We are even more blessed with who we have in our lives. I am not a perfect friend. I will forget to call. I may forget to ask about your latest family drama. But, I will not judge. I will be there when you need me. I will listen and support you. I will laugh with you but not at you. I don't care about your credentials, education or finances. Rich bitches need not apply. Funny, smart, kind people, come on over to my messy house and have a few laughs.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Curse Your and Your Balloon Animals

I'm no Scrooge but words cannot adequately express my hatred of all things balloon related. It starts when the kids are babies and they are handed out at restaurants. You spend the whole meal hoping and praying the baby doesn't chomp on the balloon, pop it and choke to death on the rubber remnants. Or you spend the whole meal chasing the balloon as it floats around the restaurant. Then, the minute you leave the restaurant the kid immediately lets go of the rubber orb from hell, ensuring 10 minutes of tantrum as it floats up and away from their chubby little hands. As they get older, they discover the "art" of balloon animals. These are like crack to a child. Some oddly dressed man with really bad makeup will make whatever strange animal, vegetable or mineral my kids request. Usually my son asks for a sword, light saber, or dagger which he will then use to bash anyone and everyone who comes within a 5 mile radius of his weapon of mass destruction. And let's not forget the mental anguish inflicted on all of us when his weapon pops as we head home. So, I take the kids out to eat, then spend all night referring balloon weapons, and waiting for the damn things to pop. Then I get to deal with the drama of one kid's popped balloon and the other kid's delight in their intact trophy. I swear I am gonna knock the smile of that arrogant clown's face then choke him with his own balloons!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Evening Prayers

It's never dull around our house. Tonight's prayers truly proved that. Their prayers reflected their amazing personalities. My kids never cease to amaze, inspire and amuse me. This is what Sara prayed for - "Oh, thank you,God. Thank you, God. For everything is beautiful and everyone is equal. People are kind and generous. The weak and sick are strong and healthy. Oh, thank you, God." This is what Christian prayed for - "Hey, God. It's me, Christian James Velasco Boy Spiderman. You know me. Please stop watching me when I'm being naughty or getting in trouble. Ok? Oh, and I don't want to get boo-booed again so you can watch me so you can keep me safe. Thanks, God. Bye."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I Am A Mother, Not A Hero

I will never be called calm, stoic, brave, or resilient. Especially when my kids are involved. I am also not a hero. I will call in reinforcements without blinking an eye. When our daughter was born, my husband had to travel for work. I immediately dialed a friend who would be too nice to say no. She stayed with me, helped with diapers, midnight feedings and a bout of mastitis. She even extended her trip when I asked. Mastitis was a recurring theme in my life for about 6 weeks. It tied in nicely with my post-partum depression. I was lovely to be around. And I did NOT want to be alone. I called in my working mom friends, family, even my father. Basically, if someone was dumb enough to answer my call, they got pressed into service. I was not doing it for myself. I was doing it for my baby. I was not going to pretend to be a strong do-it-all-myself woman at the expense of my child. Through the years, I have had to call on neighbors and family for splinter removal, rides, meals, errands, even company at the E.R. with a newborn suffering seizures. Last night, while my husband was out of town for work, our 4 year old fell and split his lip wide open. This is an understatement. He decimated his lip. They had to sedate him to repair it. They should have sedated me, as well. Exhausted, we left the E.R. and headed home. My first phone call from the car was to a friend with a list of groceries I needed delivered the next day. The list included 3 items. When she arrived, she had 4 bags of groceries - drinks and straws for the patient, a get-well balloon and stuffed Spiderman, meals for the family, as well as pop and wine for me. She also made 2 extra stops - one to buy a squeeze cup so he can drink without ripping the stitches out and a second stop for a McDonald's Diet Coke for me. She also laughed in my face when I offered to reimburse her. My next phone call was to another friend to watch Christian so I could run Sara to school and he could stay on the couch, drooling and relaxing. My third call was to another friend to drive Sara home from school. I was like Oz ordering my minions around. I did not hesitate to call on any of these amazing women. And they did not hesitate to run to my aid. No one can do it all. No should even try to. Several friends asked why I kept Sara at the E.R. with me. I asked her several times if she wanted me to call someone to take her home to our house. She wanted to stay with her brother and me. I know that anyone I called would have gladly come to get her. I would have made that call in a heartbeat if it was needed. Today, another friend showed up on my doorstep with Moe's for lunch. Anyone who knows me knows about my slight obsession with Moe's. Yes, I have the app on my phone that says "Welcome to Moe's". She even stayed at chatted. She sympathized with me. I didn't have to ask her to bring me food. She heard what happened and knew I was stuck at home with an injured and drooling boy who was content to lie on the couch. She just showed up with food, a smile and friendship. Just what the doctor ordered. I am lucky and blessed to have amazing friends in my life. I hope they know that I would do the same for them. Day or night. I probably do not deserve the amazing women I have the honor and fortune to call "friends" but I am grateful beyond words to have them in my life.

The Phrase of the Day is.... Sedation Repair

Two words I never, ever wanted to hear..... sedation repair. Especially when it needs to be done to/on my 4 year old. I make Shirley McLaine look like a calm, rational, reasonable and stoic mother when my kids are sick, hurt or injured. Put them in the hospital and I pretty much lose it. Tonight, Christian busted his lip wide open. He was running a million miles an hour and forgot to stop, tripped and fell. JFK bled less than my son. I had blood all over me. Christian was covered in it, too. I threw some ice on it, put him in the car, grabbed his sister from drama class and flew to the ER. I may have driven the wrong way down a one way street, but, it was convenient. Ninety minutes in the E.R. and he was still bleeding. He kept it covered with the ice so I couldn't even see how bad it really was. The doctors examined him but his lip was so swollen and bloody they could not even tell what was going on or how much damage had been done. He may have lost a tooth. I started to pass out and remembered that Sara was in the room with me and I have to actually keep it together. They "suggested" a "sedation repair". Sounds good. Can I have some sedation, too? Even after the repair, my poor baby's lip looked like a mangled and bloody version of Bubba's lip from "Forrest Gump". The medic used the term "hamburger". Not helping, dude. This my my baby we are talking about. I don't want to see it, much less hear it discussed in such graphic terms. Throughout this, my son was remarkably calm. It must have been a combination of fear, pain and exhaustion. After 3 hours in the hospital, we headed home, way past everyone's bedtime. I cleaned up Christian, who was still drooling blood. Sara kindly offered to put herself to bed. I gave her a grateful hug and kiss. I have to explain to Christian that he cannot sleep with his treasured stuffed animals because they cannot be cleaned. My heart broke as he looked at me with his huge, tired blue eyes and started crying. "Who am I going to cuddle? I need something soft to cuddle so I can sleep." Like the poor kid has not been through enough tonight. He looks like Rocky Balboa at the end of every Rocky movie. Now the poor guy cannot snuggle with his animals. But I know if they get bloody and smelly that there is no way to clean them. And we all know that you cannot "replace" a lovey. I hugged him and put the animals on the table next to him so they can keep an eye on him. Poor kid, he was so exhausted that he just sighed, snuggled me and crawled into bed. I know he will recover quickly. I know kids are resilient. I, however, am a high strung mom. I may never recover.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Drop Off Dummies

I miss the big yellow school bus that used to stop right in front of my house to take my daughter to and from school while I waved from the window in my jammies. Now, I have to get up, get dressed, brush my teeth and hair, put on shoes and a coat. I also have to load 2 kids, 2 backpacks and 1 lunch bag into my car and drive Sara to school. At parent orientation, the school was very clear. Drive slowly, wait your turn, do not attempt to engage the teachers in long conversations and do not get out of your car. Simple and easy to follow rules, right? Wrong! I have been cut off, cut in front of, had people try to bond with the teachers who are trying to get kids out of cars and into school. I have also been waiting behind a parked car without knowing it. These are probably the same people who are stunned when they get to the drive thru and they have to pay for their food. I am not the brightest bulb in any box but even I can follow these simple rules. I stay in the car. I say hello and thank you to the teachers. That is it. I also don't put the pedal to the metal in the parking lot or squeal my tires. I do not know where these moms are going in such a hurry at 8:30 in the morning but, if you value your life, do not get in their way. They WILL cut you off. Montessori schools place a lot of emphasis on respect. Well, the teachers and students do, anyway. I just stay in my car, drive slowly and hope to get out of the parking lot with my car, my kid and me all in one piece.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Road Trips and Church

Paul is in Paris. Paris, France. The City of Lights. Gay Paris. The most romantic place on Earth. Where am I? I am in Indiana with 2 kids. He is there for work. He is presenting a paper to a group of important and intelligent people on something econ, finance, strategy, something important. Since he left, I have attended a parent/teacher conference for Sara (always amusing) and endured a 70 minute temper tantrum from Christian. Yesterday, the kids and I drove 4 hours round trip in the rain to visit a dear friend at college in Naperville, IL. I'll give the kids props. Neither kid whined or complained all day. To give me props, they watched movies and ate snacks. We ate pizza for lunch, bought Sara some "fashion boots", Christian a new pack of Lego crayons and we all ate cookie dough. Yup, some genius found a way to made edible and delicious cookie dough without raw eggs. If you are ever in Naperville, IL, check out an adorable store called "Cookie Dough Creations".
Christian fell asleep on the drive home (yay!). Downside? He peed his pants. Since Paul is out of the country eating Brie, I have no way to perform the superhuman feat of taking apart a car seat, cleaning it and reinstalling it safely. So, I do the next best thing. I spray it with Febreeze, throw a bunch of towels in it and hope for the best. While I am hosing off Sir Piddle Pants, Sara tried to take out her ponytail but it gets stuck. I POLITELY ask her to wait a couple minutes so I can clean her little brother. I race upstairs and shower Christian. It takes no more than 4 minutes. I hear blood curdling screams. I have never screamed like that - not even when I gave birth to a 10.5 pound baby. She comes upstairs, sobbing and clutching a ponytail holder, a huge fistful of hair and sporting a substantial bald spot. I feed the kids dinner and put them to bed. My dinner consisted of some of the leftover cookie dough. I earned it. Today was a bright new day. Sara went to CCD before church. Christian and I were going to meet her there. As I head upstairs to shower and make myself presentable for the Lord, Christian approaches me and says "I have to tell you bad news". Usually his bad news is pretty entertaining and minor. Nope, my little child of God pooped in his underwear. He has NEVER done that. Not even during potty training. Ok, change of plans, clean him up, do laundry and shower both of us. We actually made it to church on time. I "gently" reminded the kids that they will be rewarded if they behave in church(not just in Heaven - but at Krispy Kreme). Since Paul has been gone, my kids have had cookie dough, pizza, donuts and cookie dough. I have survived 1 temper tantrum, 2 potty accidents and 1 accidental scalping. They need to go back to school tomorrow. For everyone's safety and sanity.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Children of God

I'm waiting for us to get kicked out of church. When Sara was little, she would raise her hand to ask questions and comment during the homily. She sat through Mass in the hopes that there were donuts afterwards. We took Christian to church as an infant because when babies fuss or misbehave, everyone thinks it is cute. He got older but no better behaved so we took turns taking Sara to church. She even sang in the choir, even though they rejected her suggestions of more Justine Bieber and Taylor Swift songs. Lately, we've been bringing Christian to church, hoping that God can instill some sense, discipline and order into the kid. Even God is struggling with that challenge. We even enrolled him into the Childrens' Liturgy of the Word. When Fr. Bill called the children up, he hesitated for a minute. Then he raced up the aisle ONTO the altar. Fr. Bill, fearing he was losing his job to a vocal 4 year old, caught him, blessed him and turned him around. Christian proudly marched down the aisle waving at everyone. Hoping he would return filled with the Holy Spirit, we settled back down for the rest of Mass. Peace was short lived. All the little kids had returned but Christian. We turn back and see him wandering the church looking for a nice family to take him home. We quickly reclaimed him. When it is time for the offering, Fr. Bill invites the small kids to bring theirs up to a large basket. Christian runs down the aisle waving a dollar bill like he is in Vegas. We have to send Sara up to bring him back. Now, he is being dragged back to our pew against his will. And he is NOT coming willingly. At this point, I cannot tell if people pity us or judge us. Maybe they were just praying for us. When he sits back down with us, he spends the rest of Mass shooting fake spider webs at the people behind us. God may have to come up with some new and improved commandments if we keep bringing Spiderman to Mass.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pimp My Ride

I am not a car gal. I know nothing about cars, ABS, GPS, MPG, cylinders, FWD, fuel efficiency, etc. I know where to put the gas in. I know the color of my car. That's it. I get my oil changed when it beeps at me. Same goes for fuel. I get the car washed when my husband asks me what color my car is supposed to be. I get a new car when my lease is up. Selecting a new car involves my husband asking me a bunch of questions about what features I'd like on my new car. My demands are limited to color, magic slidey doors and a DVD player for long trips. Anything else above and beyond that and my brain freezes up. I look at Paul with a Scooby Doo look and say "huh" until he gives up and decides. Last Friday, Paul called me and said we could turn in my current car for a new car. The salesman called to ask me a bunch of questions that made no sense to me. I explained that all I cared about or understood was color selection and magic doors that open with the press of a button. He explained that he had a cool new upgraded version of my car with a magic door for the hatch, a rear-view camera, and a "cool box". Now I am intrigued by these Jetson-style features. The camera allows me to back up without backing into or over things (like Paul's car). The cool box, he explained with a sigh, is a small storage area that will keep water or pop cool. Seriously? Am I being punked? My car can have a permanent stash of chilled Diet Coke at the press of a button? At this point, I am ready to sign over my husband's 401k plan for this pimped-out ride. Reality check. These fun gizmos cost money. So I chat him up, explain why I am deserving of such necessities, despite what my husband might be telling him on the other line. I am not hopeful. If Paul thought I could control a horse and buggy, he would have me driving Amish-style around town. I give him a beauty pageant contestant speech about how the world would be a better place if I had this car. No one is more deserving of this tricked out car. I wait by the phone for a few minutes, anxiously waiting to hear news of my fate. Will I be driving a horse and buggy from now on? Or will I be cruising around town in my super-fly, tricked out mini-van, sipping Diet Coke while listening to XM radio? Paul calls me back (finally). He informs me that we got the super fancy car with all the gadgets that Paul will have to show me how to use. Then, almost fearing the answer, he asks me, "What exactly did you say to the salesman? Because he practically gave away the car." My lips are sealed. And my ride is totally pimped out and awesome.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ready To Party!

It's hard to be the younger brother. He has to chase his older sister around, steal her toys, sneak into her room, pester her, etc. And worst of all, his older sister gets to do everything first. She gets to ride a 2-wheeler, roller blade, ride a school bus, even go to sleep away camp. His one consolation is that he gets to stay up later at night. Not to be outdone, she reminds him that he still takes naps. She recently attended several birthday parties. This really bothered him. She got to go somewhere fun AND eat cake. Life is unfair in his world. Today, the tides have shifted in his favor. Today, he got invited to a birthday party. And not just any birthday party. It's for his best friend, superhero, power ranger, secret agent, classmate. Putting aside his annoyance that his buddy is turning 5 before he does, he is all aflutter about this party. We talked about buying a present. This presents 2 problems for him. First, he has to pick out a present for someone else to play with and enjoy. Second, he got very worried that HE would have to pay for the present. He quickly informed me that his bank balance is hovering around zero. And, even if he had any money, he wasn't sure he would spend his money on cool toys for someone else. Even his best friend, secret agent, super hero, power ranger, classmate. I graciously offered to pony up the necessary greenbacks for this momentous occasion. I don't think he is considering it a loan. But, now the wheels are turning. Now he is intrigued by the almighty dollar and what you can acquire with it. He just has to find a way to get his hands on some without doing any actual work. I don't know what he is more excited about- the actual birthday party or throwing it in his sister's face that he got invited to something and she has to stay home. And he is frantically planning his birthday party. It's only 9 months away!
Party on, dude.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

God Is Always Watching?!

My son's behavior in God's house is far from stellar. He has screamed "num nums" (snacks) during the Communion offering. He has loudly announced when he is ready for Mass to be over. However, he is quite intrigued by this higher being that sees all, hears all and knows all. He was finally old enough to attend vacation bible camp this summer. We explained what he would learn that week. He was quite insulted that God was NOT his teacher. However, he enjoyed camp. He learned about the Bible, sang songs and, of course, ate snacks. He was in "heaven". He loves to say Grace at meals, even fighting with his sister for the privilege. He fails to see the irony of that. He asks lots of questions. At first, I thought he was trying to establish a deeper connection to God. Now, I realize he is taking stock. His questions include, but are not limited to: "Did God make everyone?" "How did God make everyone?" "Did God make trucks?" "Is God really old?" "How fast can God run?" "How does God go potty?" "Does God sleep?" "How can God see everyone?" "Why can't we see/hear him?" Today, he asked if God can REALLY see and hear everything. He got very worried when I told him God could and does see and hear everything. He asked if God could see him go potty, fight with his sister and get put in time out. How do I answer that? I don't want him to freak out about going potty. However, I kind of like the idea of having some reinforcements with the negative behavior. And I kind of like idea of God being on my side backing me up when I am faced with parenting challenges. I can add "because God is watching" to "Because I said so". When we got out of the car, he looked up at the sky and starting explaining, defending and justifying himself and his behavior. He followed it up with request that God go watch someone else for a while. And he promised to be good. I think God knows when he is being snowed. I think God will be keeping a sharp eye on my little guy. I watched my son's version of offering up a prayer to God and added one of my own - "Dear God, Thank you for having my back. Thank you for granting me the patience to deal with all these questions. And, thank you, for letting me witness this little exchange because I will remember it always." Amen.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Vacation Styles

I like going on vacation as much as the next person. But, I've learned that people have different ideas about "vacation" and "fun". One friend likes her vacations to be sporty and athletic. And she thinks she is part Gladiator. So, I was quite happy to land in Hawaii for our 10 day trip to discover she has a sprained wrist. No crack of dawn grudge matches. I used my tennis racket bag to store my extra books and hair dryer. She did convince me to wake up at the crack of dawn to watch the sunrise over a volcano then bike ride DOWN the volcano. That one, I am glad I did. It was an amazing experience. She is also lucky I didn't toss her INTO the volcano at 5:30 a.m. Another friend and I went to Toronto for shopping, theater and afternoon tea. When she learned of our itinerary, she bowed out, saying that having her teeth drilled would be more fun than getting all dressed up and sipping tea. We were not offended. We have all been on a trip with someone who didn't want to be there. Not exactly the fun experience everyone hopes for. This is why my friends stopped dragging me to dance clubs in 1993. That, and my horrifically bad dancing. My husband has convinced me to go to Disney 4 times. The first time we were engaged so I was still on my best behavior. Also, we were childless and didn't mind waiting in line. We slept in, went on some rides and experienced the night life. The second trip was with our 4 year old when I was 5 months pregnant. Not a traumatic trip until we all caught the flu. Flying while pregnant with the flu is NOT an experience I ever hope to relive. The third trip was with our 6 year old and 18 month old. I was apprehensive but our "militant Disney" friends planned the whole thing and it worked out great. They did all the planning. They told us what to do and when to do it. Blind obedience made it a successful trip. The fourth trip was the complete opposite. It started with us all trapped in a car for days on end, driving through all 63 states to get to "the happiest place on Earth". The trip ended with me getting heat stroke and breaking my camera. It's not the "happiest place on Earth". It is the hottest and most crowded place on Earth. My next trip will be great. Two high school friends and I are going to Cabo. Our plans include lounging by the pool and using the swim up bar to consume as much Diet Coke as possible. No scuba diving, no hang gliding, or any other death defying sports. Our goal is to exert as little thought and energy as possible. As an added bonus, they know I snore like a rhino with a head cold so I get my own room. No kids barging in at o'dark thirty demanding food. No cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, chores, etc. No place to be. Nothing to do. This vacation won't be about what we did on vacation. It will be about what we don't have to do. I want to sit back, relax with my friends and take advantage of every cheesy photo op I can find or create. Watch out, Cabo. Here I come with my camera. Say "cheese-y".

Who Was That Masked Child?

Most of my stories include the phrases "Was that out loud?", "It wasn't my fault!" or "In my defense...". Well, this morning, I think my darling daughter used all three phrases and not in a good way. Today was the first day of school and she was very excited. Clothes were selected, accessories were assembled, hair was styled and her breakfast order was placed. She woke up eager and ready to go to school. While she waited for breakfast to be ready, she and her brother tried playing together. It lasted maybe 5 minutes. Fights broke out because she was bossy and controlling and her bother is 4 (he resists all authority - including mom and dad's). Kids were chasing each other around the kitchen. I'm channeling my deeply buried inner June Cleaver and stirring oatmeal on the stove and ignoring the screams, crying and laughing. No, that is not a typo. They were laughing AND crying at the same time. I took away the toy they were fighting over and told them to sit down to eat. Sara responded with tragic wails about how I was ruining her day, her education and her life. This permanent emotional damage to my melodramatic daughter took place in less than 15 minutes. I was accused of "being mean just for the sake of being mean" and "never wanting her to be happy ever again". I am the meanest mom to ever grace the planet because I did not want to listen to fighting, screaming and crying at 7:00 a.m. Maybe she was secretly nervous about starting a new school. She had been asking to go all summer. She attended summer camp there. She went to orientation last week. These melodramatic outbursts are few and far between lately so I was thrown for a loop. Usually their fights last under 10 minutes and resolve themselves if ignored. While Christian was happily eating his pancakes, I ignored her claims of a scarred childhood. Once she realized that she needed to eat breakfast and get ready for school, she calmed down. She quickly ate, brushed her teeth and hair. She put on her shoes and backpack at warp speed. She was sitting and buckled in the car before I could even find my car keys. Who was that masked child throwing a fit?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Being Neighborly

For the most part, we have great neighbors. They are friendly, keep their yards and homes tidy and let their dogs be mauled by my children. Or, they tighten the leash on their killer, vicious attack 4 pound dog that terrifies my son. We have a couple of exceptions. First, the yahoo who, despite having never met us and NOT living next to us, hates us and anything to do with our children. Specifically, our kids' playhouse. He wanted it moved, burned, destroyed, etc. This playhouse is nicer than my first apartment but it offended his eye line if he walked into the middle of his back yard and looked way far to the left. We compromised with the neighborhood board and moved it to the other side of our house. Our next offense was installing a playset in our yard. Ironically, the side of the house it had to go in was closer to his house. He clearly does not like the idea of our kids frolicking and having fun in the safety of their own backyard. The other exception would be the race car drivers who fly through our street as if they are practicing for NASCAR. See why we need to keep the kids confined to the backyard? This morning my husband was grilling up brats and kielbasa. Apparently, in addition to being the boss, he is also the den mother and has to provide snacks for his employees. I have learned to stop asking about such things. Like why my house smells like a brewery at 7:00 in the morning. My neighbors are not used to Paul and his wacky ways. So, this morning while they were walking their dogs, they wandered into our yard, prepared to call in the fire department because "who in their right mind is grilling at 7:00 in the morning?". My husband, apparently. I appreciate the neighbors for being on the lookout. I just hope they don't think we are crazier than we actually are.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Grandfather Duties Clearly Defined

My kids have very specific ideas about what their grandfather is (and isn't) supposed to do. He does not discipline them, ever. Why would he? In his mind, they are perfect little genius angels. On command, he will feed them, play with them, call them, write them letters, send them postcards, etc. The postcards present a bit of a dilemma in our house. To send postcards, he must leave town. If he leaves town, several problems arise. First, he is not available to take their multiple phone calls about their various accomplishments, gripes, complaints, problems, random thoughts. Second, he might be on a trip and having fun .... without them. Very nervy and rude of him. Sara is already plotting to get him to take her on an African photo safari, fishing trip, a cruise AND a Prince Edward Island/Anne of Green Gables tour. He is out of town right now. Sara has checked the mailbox daily. They have both left several messages on his voicemail. The messages have included their grocery lists, menus and plans for our visit. They have also been to leave updates about what is happening around here. Hint, not much. Christian begged me to dial. He said he HAD to talk to Grumpy. I explained (again) that he was not home so he would have to leave a message. That was ok. His vital message that he HAD to leave? "Hi..... ummm Grumpy...... this is Christian....... I am still 4....... Sara is mean to me...... I hit her..... I love you." I am constantly amazed at what they get away with when we visit. If we were not supervising, he would feed them ice cream for dinner and cookies for dessert. They get to jump on beds, drag him on endless walks, play with anything that isn't on fire, and he will cook them anything on demand. My kid's grandfather is NOT the father I grew up with. Jumping on the beds? We were too busy planting, weeding and watering "his" garden. So, next weekend, he will be their chauffeur, chef, book reader, audience, etc. His home will be their personal playground. And, just for fun, my kids still have the nerve to call him "Grumpy". And he answers to it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just Call Me Doctor

Christian has been complaining of stomach ailments off and on for 3 months. His stomach pains can flare up when asked to eat his vegetables, clean up his toys or go to bed. Other times, it seems quite legitimate. When he chooses to stay home from summer day camp and lies on the couch all morning, I know he is in pain. We went to the pediatrician and had blood work done. All came back normal. Next visit was to a pediatric gastroenterologist. I can barely spell that, much less pronounce that specialty so you know it must be fancy and important. It took a month to get an appointment. I booked the appointment and put it out of my mind. Christian still complained about his tummy, but it was random, sporadic and usually not very convincing. A few days before his appointment, I noticed he was complaining more often and more convincingly so I kept the appointment. The doctor begins his exam by asking Christian a lot of questions. Christian answered them in all serious with the following information: His tummy hurts all the time, no matter what. It keeps him up all night, every night. On a scale of 1 to 10, his pain is 60-10-100. He poops all day. The doctor is nodding and taking notes. Does he believe all this?! It's a miracle this kid is still alive and mobile, clearly. Then comes the diagnostic portion of the appointment. - Christian's self-diagnosis, that is. His tummy hurts because we never ever let him eat snacks, we make him eat yucky vegetables and he drinks pool water when he jumps in the pool. At this point, I am expecting Child Services to break down the exam room door and snatch him. When the nurse mentioned that they have service/therapy dogs in the office every Wednesday, Sara casually mentioned that her stomach bothers her sometimes and maybe she needs an appointment, too. I hope they have a frequent customer/patient punch card. Maybe we will get a free blood pressure test after our 10th visit.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bike vs Car

From time to time, I like to put on my padded bike shorts, helmet and biking gloves and go for a nice bike ride. It's not a pretty sight but I enjoy it. I exercise all caution and obey all safety laws. So, when someone tries to run me over/off the road, I get a wee bit cranky. When I know the identity of the driver, I get really pissed off. Our history is long and ugly. Our kids do not get along, to put it mildly. Their daughter refers to our daughter as her "archenemy". Our daughter rarely, if ever, mentions their daughter anymore. They are no longer a factor in our lives. We have moved schools. There should be no more contact. But, there is. There has been trash talking our kid to mutual friends. There have been rocks thrown at our house. And, now, apparently, attempted vehicular injury. While our daughter has not been a perfect angel, she has, on 2 occasions written apology notes. They were read, tossed in the trash with a "I don't believe you" thrown in for good measure. When Sara came home upset that her apology was "trashed", I explained that it didn't matter if she didn't believe it. If it was sincere, that is all that matters. Sara has never received an apology of any kind. Sara doesn't bad mouth her to anyone. She has no need to talk about here. Ever. Sara would rather leave the past in the past. I have been run off the road in my car, my husband and child almost run over in the school parking lot. I assume those were just cases of extremely bad driving. I hope my bike vs car was also just distracted, fake macho driving and not target-specific. I hope their parenting is better than their driving.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Mother's Fears

I am not a Tiger mom. I hope I am not a helicopter mom. I try to balance my fears and worries with the need to raise strong, independent and self-sufficient kids. I may not always succeed. Kids in our neighborhood have more freedom and independence that I am comfortable with. I don't feel my 8 year old should be able to roam free in the neighborhood. People treat our neighborhood streets like the Autobahn. And let's not forget all the random service trucks that cruise through the 'hood. The worry and fear that something will happen to my child isn't worth the risk. Sara understands and accepts this because she has no choice. She doesn't try to challenge the rules. She knows them and follows them because if she doesn't, she knows that she won't be allowed to play with those friends. Tonight Sara is at a Girl Scout overnight. I chaperoned the last one but was not able to attend this event. I helped drive and set up the cabin. The girls were climbing all over the bunk beds in the lodge and setting up "camp". Sara immediately climbed up to the top bunk and staked her claim like Charles Ingalls. She set up her sleeping bag, pillow, stuffed animals, book, flashlight, etc. Did I mention that my kid thrashes around her bed like a mackrel out of water? Seriously, she sleeps sideways, vertically, upside down and backwards. I pulled her aside and mentioned that she might be better off on the bottom bunk. She shook off my concerns, assured me that she would be fine. I didn't want to make a fuss so I let it be. As I was leaving, I noticed her stuff had been moved to a lower bunk. I asked her if she had done it or had someone else? She told me that she had moved her stuff because she "knew I was worried and didn't want me up having bad dreams about her falling all night". My kid is 7.2 miles down the road, sleeping in a cabin instead of her bed. I didn't tuck her in. We didn't sing "our" song. I don't think I will be sleeping much anyway. But I appreciate the gesture.

Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner

Once in a while my husband gets these wacky ideas in his head. I nod, smile, go along and hope he will learn from his mistakes. He had the "brilliant" idea to invite a visiting professor to our house for dinner. Did I mention this guy is from North(or South) Carolina? Yup, the south, where they have actual manners and use words like "sir" and ma'am". So, I get to grocery shop, clean the house, bathe both kids and myself and prepare a full meal - salad, veggies, dessert and everything in between. Did my husband not see "Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner" and "The Birdcage"? Some people are not meant to have people visit their homes at meal time. I only wish my problems were a wacky servant who can't wear shoes or inappropriate dinnerware. For 2 days, I prepped (threatened, bribed, begged, pleaded) the kids about expected behavior. The list included: no nakedness, no yelling, no hitting, no throwing anything, keep hands to self, sit at table (with clothes on), eat food, chew with mouth closed, eat only your food, and so on. Everyone was fully clothed a full 8 minutes before our guest arrived. He was greeted by our 4 year old with "Hi, I am 4. I just had a birthday. You can't sit next to me at dinner". As the adults sit down to chat and have a glass of wine, we realize we stand a better chance of peace and quiet if we give the kids a large bowl of chips and "green dip" (guacamole) to keep them busy and quiet. Christian, trying to be a good southern gentleman, kept offering our guest soggy chips with dip. No wanting to push our luck with Christian and broccoli, we let him off the hook and gave him corn. Give this kid an inch, he will take a mile and run with it like an Olympic sprinter. He demanded croutons but no salad. Then disliking the crouton, tried to pass them off onto the rest of our plates. Typical 4 year old boy, Christian decides he needs to use the potty in the middle of dinner. He can it all himself but prides himself on his running commentary, which is.....graphic. Dinner and potty handled and over, we move to the living room to chat. We let the kids watch cartoons. Sara, a typical 8 year old with a thirst for power, snatches the remote. I don't know if they were watching "Rambo" or "Scarface" but it sounded violent and inappropriate. Being a good/bad hostess, I declare it bedtime and herd them off to bed. Christian graciously offers to let "daddy's work buddy" sleep on his floor. I guess my kids do have some manners. Sort of.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tomorrow Is Another Day

I woke up thinking today was going to be great. We had a wonderful at the beach yesterday, filled with sand, pizza, ice cream, and carousel rides. Kids woke up way too early but that was fine because they were both heading to camp, allowing me to tackle annoying chores and errands without small chatty chaperones. First trauma occurred at 7:30 a.m. I politely asked Sara to take her menagerie of stuffed animals upstairs to avoid her brother's attempted kidnapping/ransoming of said beloved animals and avoid any potential breakfast food spills all over them. I thought this was reasonable, if not brilliant, suggestion. She thought it was insane, cruel, unreasonable, etc. and reacted like Nathan Lane's character in the "Birdcage" upon being asked to vacate the house for the day, with accompanying screams. Calm and order restored, breakfast served, kids sunscreened, lunches packed, we head off to camps. Christian's drop-off was first, which concerned and delighted Sara. She was afraid she would be late for her camp but got to see her BFF. Their squeals of delight at their reunion would make passersby think it had been years since they last laid eyes on each other - it had been 4 days. I drop Sara off at zoo camp and remind her that she probably won't be able to feed and bathe the lions, no matter how much she begs. I head home to fill an order from a Thirty-One party I had last week. If it could go wrong, it did. Many times in many ways. The computer wasn't working properly. Items were not calculated properly. The poor hostess is probably getting a restraining order against me because of the multiple phone calls and emails. After Christian's too-brief nap, we pick up Sara from camp, cruise through the zoo and swing by Paul's office for some free drinks and snacks. We head home because we are hosting a friend's kids for a couple hours. I think I have a great afternoon planned out - feeding ducks, playing, spaghetti dinner followed by homemade cookies. What could go wrong? Everyone survives the fowl-feeding with limbs intact and clothes dry. Everyone plays nicely while I channel my deeply hidden inner domestic goddess and whip up dinner. Kids are eating dinner happily. For awhile. One of the girls tells me (post-dinner) that she is allergic to red sauce. OMG! Did I just kill my friend's kid? She is still leery after a mix-up at a dinner with a spatula and her husband's fatal nut allergy. Update - the child is fine but I may never recover. And I doubt I will ever be asked to babysit again. As Scarlett O'Hara says, "tomorrow is another day".

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Growing Up ..... Slowly

My little girl is growing up. Slowly but surely, she is growing up and maturing. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but lately I have noticed that she is getting better at handling difficult situations and life's little disappointments a little better. Last week, she attended a pool party. In the past, she has had mixed results with these friends. She could come off a little too strong and stubborn. And, let's face it, she IS her mother's daughter, so she is a bit of a drama queen. All week, she was excited about the pool party. She was conflicted because it meant she would have to leave day camp early. I let her decide. I told her that either decision was fine but it was HER choice to make. Since she is moving schools, she decided she really wanted to see everyone from her old school. When we arrived, she was a little hesitant to join in. She jumped into the pool but hung back, swimming by herself. Slowly, I watched her seek out a couple of girls. She was having a great time. I was sitting back with the other moms. Quietly, without crying or making a scene, she came to me and announced that she wanted to leave. I pulled her aside to ask her why. Someone had been mean to her, excluded her and told her she couldn't play with them. I asked her a few questions to see if we could remedy the problem. She told me she was frustrated and felt like she didn't fit in and wanted to leave before she got upset. She also didn't want to name names and get anyone in trouble. So, I told her we could leave. A friend came by and saw she was upset and asked her if she was ok. She hesitated. I told her I had to pick up her brother. She could leave with me and we could go swimming somewhere else. Or, I suggested, I could go home to pick up her brother, come back and she could use the time to see how she felt. Showing some real maturity, she said she would stay and see how it went. By the time, we returned, things had improved. She was swimming with a couple of girls and having fun. I noticed that if girls started fighting, she simply got out of the pool and headed for the snacks, instead of getting caught in the middle. A very strategic move. I wish she were better at not letting these little things get to her. I wish she could shake it off and move one. (I wish I could, too). Do as I say, not as I do. I hope it will come in time. Girls will be girls. They can be mean. But this was not a horrible case of bullying. It was a case of a girl saying something unkind in the heat of the moment. This is a nice girl who just said the wrong thing the wrong way. Sara is highly intelligent but also highly sensitive. We ended up staying for the whole party and she had fun. On the way home, I told her I was proud of her for staying. She was glad she had. That night, she told me she wanted to write a thank you note to the family who hosted the party. Today, we were swimming and she lost an earring. We are not talking about a Cartier earring. We are talking about the Target variety. Initially, she was very upset. I sat her down and explained that "if there is a solution, then it really isn't a problem". I told her that she hadn't been irresponsible and accidents happen. I would be happy to replace the earring. She calmed down a little but was still upset. Then I told her she had a choice to make. She could let it upset her and ruin everyone's afternoon or she could put it behind her and have fun. Again, she showed a maturity that she was not capable of 6 months ago. She jumped back in the pool and we all moved on with our lives. I know we have not closed the book on drama, meltdowns and hissy fits. But, I think they are going to be fewer and far between. And hopefully short-lived.

Swimming With Sharks

Swimming with a 4 year old boy is........... interesting. Until a month ago, my son feared the water almost as much as he fears vegetables and haircuts. He would tolerate the water but sat on the steps throwing dive toys for others to catch and return to him - a water version of fetch. Now he is Michael Phelps but with more baby fat. He jumps and dives and splashes like Shamu at feeding time. We recently went to the beach in Michigan. He approached this new experience with a mix of fear, loathing and dread. First he was horrified that I expected him to walk 50 yards in SAND! What kind of mother does that to her child? Me, especially since I was carrying towels, toys, snacks, chairs and towels. Grudgingly, he trudged through the sand to the lake. Or "pool" as he called it. There was no changing his mind. It was a pool. Ironically, he kept asking me if there were sharks in the pool. Once he discovered that he could fling sand at everyone and everything in his path, he found the whole experience rather enjoyable. The other day, at the pool he got tired of pulling his wet swim suit up and down to go to the bathroom. He proudly and loudly announced to that he would just swim naked from now on. Down, Magic Mike. We have rules, buddy. No running. No drinking the pool water. No peeing in the pool. No swimming naked. I'm proud of the progress he has made with his swimming. In other words, he is actually (finally) swimming! He also takes great pride in making giant splashes. No one stays dry if they sit in his "splash zone".

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Beauty Of Facebook

I admit it. I am addicted to Facebook. It is a brilliant idea. I get to sit on my couch in my jammies and keep in touch with my friends. With jobs, kids, and time differences, phone calls are basically out of the question. I am never more in demand than when I pick up the phone and dial someone. Suddenly, my kids are the paparazzi and I am Katie Holmes. They climb all over me, demanding food, the answer to life mysteries, potty help, etc. And, the best part of Facebook, for me, is that I can read posts, think out and ponder my witty, inspirational, intelligent comments. No blurting things out without thinking or out of nervousness. I do not do well in large crowds. Or small crowds, for that matter. I get nervous and blurt, ramble or babble incoherently. And for some odd reason, silences or gaps in the conversation freak me out and I rush to fill them. And do so very badly. Paul swears that my tombstone will read "Was that out loud? Oops". I disagree with anyone who says it is impersonal. Have you read or seen some of the weird, overly personal and downright inappropriate things people post? I love that I get to keep in touch with my nieces and nephews. I get to keep in touch with people I otherwise would have lost touch with years ago. The downside is that strange and random acquaintances crawl out of the woodwork and want to befriend you solely on the fact you coexisted in high school at the same time. These are the same people that never gave you the time of day back then. But now, they are Facebook friend collectors. If I can't pick you out of a line-up or we never had a conversation in person, please do not send me a friend request. The other downside is that insecure and neurotic people like me do not like reading about and seeing photos of fun things that everyone but me scored an invite to. Maybe I am not invited to all the cool events because everyone on Facebook knows I like to sit around in my jammies.

Timing Is Everything

Timjng is everything. And my kids have lousy timing. When Christian was six weeks old, he had seizures. To this day, I blame the cats because my husband was out buying cat food for them when they started. Rushing to the hospital with a now-sleeping infant, I looked sufficiently scary that the truly sick and injured people in front of me parted like the Red Sea and let my son get treated first. I still have no idea who parked my car when I pulled up to the ER doors. I do know that the hospital did not have valet service. Since a stomach virus struck him for 5 hours last month, he has been occasionally whining that his "tummy hurts". These dramatic outbursts are short and sporadic. There is no reason or logic to them. He recovers within 30 seconds and continues to run amok though the house demanding food. Having absolutely no medical experience or training, we chalked it up to boredom or feeble attempts at pity and/or attention. We prescribed trips to the bathroom, water and rest. All were ignored or heeded grudgingly. Life continued on and everyone lived. This morning he awoke at 5:30 a.m. crying about stomach pain. I had him use the bathroom and return to bed. Two hours later, he woke up again with claims of pain. He ate a waffle then proceeded to curl up on the couch. Very strange behavior for a 4 year old boy who thinks he is a super hero who needs to save the planet daily. Off to the doctor we go. He is examined every which way and declared healthy. He acted fine. His mood was better. His energy has returned somewhat. He scammed 2 lollipops and a couple stickers on the way out of the office. He was a little sleepy on the ride home. When we get home, he doesn't want to get out of the car. I carry him into the house and he flops down crying that his tummy hurts and he cannot take off his shoes. Now I'm thinking it's male PMS and he is just being moody. Then he announced that he is ready for his nap at 10:30 in the morning. Very, very strange but I oblige and follow him up the stairs. He doesn't want to read stories or sing songs. He just wants to sleep. Now I'm wondering if he is just tired from our weekend trip to the beach or suffering from malaria. He sleeps for a couppe of hours and wakes up with a fever. He was just checked and had no fever!! How does it come on that fast?! He couldn't have had even just a mild one so the pediatrician doesnt think that I have Munchausan-By-Proxy syndrome?! And maybe get treated for whatever bizarre ailment is afflicting him? I give him some medicine and he improves slowly over the afternoon. Well enough, in fact, to fight with his sister and chase her around the house. I am so intent on working on having them learn to resolve their own fights, I forget to give him more medicine. My husband arrives home from work and we have family dinner. All is well and harmonious. Out of the blue, again, his fever is back like a pesty neighbor selling Amway. I mean, this hit him like a Mack truck. Now I feel like the worst mother on the planet. His fever is dangerously high and I am ready to have him Med Flighted to the Mayo Clinic. My husband and I comprise and call the pediatrician. I HATE bothering doctors at night and on weekends. Maybe it's the catholic school girl in me and I'm afraid they will channel their inner-nun and scream at me for bothering them. Routine call with no judgements about actually paying attention to a feverish child. No diarrhea or vomiting, we assure the doctor. We give him the recommend medicine. He promptly throws it up. Now I get to call the doctor back 3 minutes after the first call. "Hi, it's the idiot mom who got so easily distracted with her kids and their fighting that I forgot to give him medicine. Well, remember how I said there was no vomiting? Funny story- he just puked all over himself, us and the carpet. How's that for great timing? You didn't really want to spend time with your loved ones tonight, did you? You really wanted to spend the night answering my calls every 3-5 minutes. I'm like labor pains but you don't get a cute baby at the end. You just get more phone calls about my puking child". See what I mean about timing? Lousy. Add to it that I am supposed to drive Sara to sleep away camp tomorrow. Do I leave Christian home with a sitter and hope for the best? Do I make Sara miss her first overnight camp experience because her brother is sick? Or do I drag a sick kid back and forth in the car? Paul is swamped at work and cannot take off or work from home. Great timing for a sick kid and an older sister who has been packed for sleep away camp for a month. I am never someone who would be described as calm, cool and collected. When my kids are sick, all semblance of maturity, firm grasp on reality and grace under pressure fly out the window. I immediately conjur up every possible worst-case scenario and spend all night running them through my head. I spend all night listening to the monitor and waiting for a child's cry. Is there ever a good time to have a sick child?


I am in awe of my 8 year old daughter. She is afraid of nothing. Granted, she has her stuffed Lambi to look out for her and protect her from........ whatever lambs protect small children from. And Lambi's track record is impeccable. Nothing truly horrible has ever happened to her while Lambi is on guard duty. Today I dropped Sara off for her first overnight camp. She will be spending 2 nights living in a "glorified" tent 4 hours away from home. Sara knows no one at this camp and has never been there before but she was excited to go. She packed a month ago. She woke up at 6:30 this morning even though check in was not until 10 a.m. She has never feared new experiences, new places or new people. Any school or day camp she attends, she jumps out of the car, races into the building and introduces herself to everyone she meets. No clinging, no tearful goodbyes. Just a hug and a casual "see you later, Mom" and she is off. This girl is not afraid of new experiences. She doesn't worry that she won't like it or make friends. She just fully expects to have fun and make new friends. And she is always right. Evan an afternoon at the park will garner at least 2 new friends. She already told me she wants to return to camp next year and stay longer. We got to her tent, met her counselors and set up her sleeping bag. Before I could blink, it was time for me to go. She gave me a half-hug and kiss before racing back to her tent to meet the girls and start having fun. Silly me, I got back into my car, looked in the rear view mirror at her empty booster seat and wondered why on Earth I just dropped my baby off to survive in the woods for 2 nights. I called my father for sympathy. He barely concealed his laughter and assured me she would be fine. Granted, my brothers were sent to the Canadian woods for a month every summer. So, I guess I was barking up the wrong tree for sympathy. But, this is different. How? This is MY baby. My little girl who still sleeps curled up with her Lambi. Every night I blow kisses onto her ceiling so they fall on her while she sleeps. She still believes in Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Logically, I know she will be fine. That we will miss her more than she misses us. But it will feel very strange to check on only one child tonight when I go to sleep and see her empty (still messy) room. I will not feel right and settled until she is back under our roof and sleeping in her bed. She has a positive outlook and it pays off. She embraces new experiences. She thrives on new adventures. She loves trying new things - places, food, activities. I wish I were more like her. I dread the unknown and unexpected. Maybe I need a Lambi to watch out for me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Note to Jerry Sandusky - the whole world knows you are guilty of inhuman behavior. Molesting children who are in your care and trust makes you a vile and despicable human being. Own up to your horrific crimes and pay the price. You belong in jail, locked away from humanity. Spare your victims further pain. How dare you force them to relive their pain at your hands for public consumption? You are inhuman without a moral compass or conscience. You do not deserve to be a member of society. You violated their rights. You deserve to be stripped of yours. In my mind, your wife and co-workers at Penn State are guilty, as well. Over and over again, your crimes were brought to their attention and it was swept under the rug for the sake of football. Are you kidding me? So some overgrown jocks can run up and down fake grass throwing a ball back and forth and tackling each other? That is just sick and wrong. I weep for your victims and their families. I hope your conviction sends a message to the Penn State football program that people are more important than a football reputation. It is a sad day for humanity when THAT message needs to be sent. To the middle school bus bullies - I have not watched the video of you bullying, mocking and insulting a kind elderly lady who never did anything to you. I have read enough articles about it to know that it will enrage me. You are evil, vicious and cruel. You and your parents should be ashamed. You have nowhere to hide. You proudly video taped this disgusting behavior and posted it for public consumption. It worked. We all watched it and were horrified that someone so young could be so cruel.. What were you thinking? Did you really think it would be ok? Did you think it made you look cool? You look like nasty, vicious. You mocked her weight, looks, fashion and family. Who raised these little animals? Were you trying to be cool? You weren't. You represent the worst of humanity. How dare you inflict that sort of pain on anyone? She never did anything to you. No one deserves the pain you inflicted on her. I pray and hope that someday you realize the truly despicable and awful nature of what you did and feel true and sincere remorse. Shame on your parents for raising you to behave that way. Shame on you for not knowing better. You will be forever remembered as the awful middle school kids who terrorized a kind old lady for no reason other than your own sick amusement. You deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. How dare you think you are entitled to behave that way towards anyone. She deserves nothing less than your respect. I truly hope everyone else is as sick of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and their divorce. No one was shocked when a marriage between a 44 year old Scientologist and a normal 24 year old girl from Toledo tanked. We were mildly surprised the sham lasted as long as it did. I don't care about Katie and Suri's trips to the zoo or pet store. I don't care that she used a disposable phone to escape his freakishly controlling lifestyle. I know more than I care to just by skimming the headlines. Friends and family asked my why I don't watch the local news. Well, because last night's headline was about the hot dry spell we are experiencing and it is putting the local hay supply in danger. Not even close to relevant to me or my life. Except that I am deathly allergic to hay.
This is what is happening in America and my hometown. Stay tuned for more weird, useless and horrifying news. I'm sure we will have a whole new crop of it next week.

Malibu Barbie

I live in the Midwest, surrounded by cornfields. Yet, some of the Barbie-esque women around here think they live in Hollywood. They sit around the pool in their itty bitty bikinis, showing off their tan, toned bodies, giant rings and expensive sunglasses, gossiping the day away. They do NOT discipline or supervise their kids. When the kids cause trouble, endanger themselves or others, they are too busy chatting to notice or take action. When a lifeguard or other parent steps in, they roll their eyes and keep chatting. I say let Darwinism handle this. If no one else is in danger, let their little trophy kid get injured. Let the little brat bleed all over his Polo swim trunks. I will no longer worry about pulling your kid to safety when he swims out too far. I WILL yell at the little terror when he jumps into the pool and lands ON my child. To the lady in the fancy bikini that has never gotten wet- I was NOT annoyed because your little trophy splashed me. I was in pool, for crying out loud. I was annoyed because he landed ON me AND my child. Then, when your little prince ignored pool rules and safety and did running jumps into the pool, my son tried to do the same. I do not enjoy having a conversation with my child that you can hear that involves me reminding my child that it doesn't matter if other kids are ignoring rules and being dangerous, HE still needs to follow safety guidelines. Get in the pool, play with your kid and keep him safe. And keep him away from my kid until he learns some basic manners and safety. Newsflash - you are not better than me. You are just skinnier.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Fun

So far, summer vacation has meant fighting, heat waves, a messy house and day camps. With strategic planning worthy of a four star general, I have enrolled both kids in a variety of day camps. The goal is to keep the warring factions as separated as possible. Swimming is usually a safe choice. Sara prefers to hang in the deep end with the big kids and Christian likes to be able to touch the bottom with his feet. Keeping gallons of water and dozens of feet apart keeps the fighting to a minimum. We've had sleepovers, sprinkler parties, and car washes. Somehow, the more people we have over, the messier the event, the happier the kids are. Inviting friends over is sufficient motivation for Sara to "find her carpet" - clean her room. The irony of cleaning your room so your friends can come over and trash it is not lost on either one of us.
We left Paul to entertain some visiting Chinese professors. They are here on a cultural tour. Since there is very little culture in the cornfields, he sent them to a working Amish farm to do manual labor. Then he took them outlet shopping and golfing. The idea of my husband doing any of these activities is enough to make me giggle. We packed up and headed to the beach with friends. I packed 4 beach towels, 1 beach chair, sand and water toys, snacks, drinks, clothes, swim suits, sunscreen, books, and movies and hit the road. Since we live in the middle of the cornfields, my son has never experienced a "beach". He was horrified to learn that I expected him to walk down a sandy hill to the water. Since I was carry 750 pounds of beach stuff, I had no sympathy for a kid who just had to walk 50 yards on his own steam. It took him a little while to screw up the courage to go into the "pool". There was no convincing him it was a lake. In the meantime, Sara quickly joined hands with her best friend and headed as far out as she was legally allowed. We are still finding sand in her body parts. For "amusement", some people decided to hike up a sand dune. You read that right, folks. Some of my friends have a bizarre sense of fun. They pretend they are homeless and call it "camping". They also think hiking up a pile of sand in 90 degree weather is fun. Luckily, my 4 year old son has more sense. He walked about 10 yards towards the trail of doom and headed back to the "pool". I joined him gladly. After getting sufficiently sunburned, we packed up and headed to the hotel. My son was even more horrified that I expected him to walk UP the sandy staircase. Realizing his choices were to walk uphill or live at the beach with no food or water, he sighed heavily and grudgingly trudged up the beach. Cleaning up myself and 2 very sandy children in a small hotel bathroom was not pleasant. I am not sure there was any sand left at the beach. It is all in my luggage or in the shower. Whoever invented the phrase "a day at the beach" never went to the beach with small children. Between sand fights, reapplying sunscreen on small, squirmy, wet kids, food demands, the parents did not relax much. Mostly we watched to make sure no one drowned, drank lake water or got buried alive in the sand against their will. The next day we took the kids on a dune buggy ride. The bravest of our group? The 1 year old who never stopped grinning. The cowardly lion of the group? My 8 year and the oldest kid of the group. She is still shocked and relieved we made it back alive and in one piece. As we put the kids to bed last night, the both asked when we could go back to the beach. When they are old enough to carry their own stuff and apply their own sunscreen. Then it will be "a day at the beach".

Welcome Wagon

The fact that I am on the board of the neighborhood homeowners association isn't even the funniest part. The fact that I am on the welcoming committee is the really funny part. Especially given my positive attitude about moving here. Well, three years have passed. We've unpacked (mostly), made friends and adjusted (mostly). My job is to drive around the neighborhood and stalk new homeowners. If I am lucky enough to catch them at home, I give them a packet of information about the neighborhood - who to call to bitch, moan, complain and tattle on their fellow neighbors. Tired of driving by during the day to find no one home ever, I set out tonight determined to hunt these people down. Tonight, my life was a cross between a Stephen King Novel and an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I got violated by a horny Australian Shepherd while his amused owner watched. I swear the furry little molester laid down and smoked a cigarette after I did my walk of shame back to my car. I met a psycho ex-military guy with an even crazier dog who wanted to eat me for a snack. Then I met a retired guy with a whole host of health issues that he freely shared with me. Next on my welcome tour was a lady I either want to be friends with or will be visiting in rehab. I'm not entirely convinced she was kidding about bringing a keg to the board meetings. I'm still on the fence about whether that will improve the meetings. Driving by my own house, I spotted a gaggle, herd, posse of crows circling my garbage. It was straight out of Hitchcock's "The Birds". In my determined quest to be the welcome wagon lady, I called Paul to alert him to "his" garbage problem and kept driving. What can I say? I'm a good neighbor but a lousy wife.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


When we got married, Paul promised to love, honor and cherish me. In the last 12 years he has done so and much more. He has supported me, encourage me, helped me, and taken care of me in ways I never expected. Above all, he has put up with my temper, humor, idiosyncrasies. I have also made him promise to let me die first. It's the gentlemanly thing to do, after all. The man does not die and leave his wife alone to fend for herself. My grandfather outlived my grandmother for that exact reason. They met in the first grade and were married for more years than most people live. They were polar opposites and complemented each other very well. Much like Paul and me. If he died first, I would be living in a shack with no water or electricity and no way to feed myself. He is more domestic, which ain't saying much. He fixes everything around the house, cars, yard, etc. When there is a problem at school, he knows how to speak to the powers that be. I just get mad, froth at the mouth and issue insane threats. He sees the problem and fixes it. To show my love and adoration of this man, I have sworn that I will haunt him from the grave. Just so he won't get too lonely without me. But in a nice, sweet, Lifetime movie kind of way. Not a creepy, evil souls sucking his life force from him kind of way. When I suggested we do the whole Eva and Juan Peron mourning, he got squeamish. I guess he won't be laying out my embalmed body out in the dining room while making his new wife (chosen by me, of course) comb my hair and absorb my essence. Party pooper. I was kind of hoping to spook the next Mrs. Velasco. Guess I will have to settle for haunting, spying on and spooking him. So you don't feel too sorry for my husband, you should know that he has more life insurance on me than Dolly Parton has on her chest.

Not Enough Of Me

Those of you who know me probably read that and thought "Really? One of you is all we can handle. Thank you very much". But for the next 2 weeks, I need a clone, a servant, a helper or something. Paul is swamped at work and unable to play chauffeur. Sara's camp ends at 4 pm. Christian's swim lessons start at 4. See my dilemma? After months of lessons, my son finally enjoys the water and doesn't think we are trying to kill him or waterboard him when he approaches a pool. So, do I make him miss his swim lessons? I don't have Floo powder and any other magical abilities so I have to figure out how to get Christian to his swim lessons and pick Sara up from camp at the exact same time. Next week is more of the same. I have to drive Sara to her overnight camp 4 hours away. Do I drag Christian in the car with me for the round trip or fund my babysitter's entire college education and ask her to watch him for an entire day? Trust me when I say that she will earn every penny. And probably swear off motherhood. I think I will be in the car for more hours than Sara will actually be at the camp. I drove with my kids to Disney in April. I do not relish the thought of being trapped in a small confined space with the 2 of them again any time in the foreseeable future. If I leave him home with a sitter, do I make him miss his day camp? He loves camp. He gets to brink his bike AND his Spiderman lunch bag. That makes him a big kid, I guess. Is it fair to make him miss his activities in favor of his sister's activities? I once heard that life is not fair. Fair is not everyone getting what they want. Fair is everyone getting what they need. Well, I need 2 of me for the next 2 weeks or so.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Week In Review

Paul is in Asia for work. He stayed in nice hotels, ate in nice restaurants and saw all the sights. This was my week - breaking up fights between kids, feeding kids, cleaning kids, cleaning the house, doing laundry, doing dishes. I took the kids to the park, zoo and pool. With 24 hours until Paul comes home, I hosted a playdate. When will I learn that other small children should never enter our house, much less touch their toys? Sara trusts other children to play with her toys. But heaven help her little brother if he dares glance at her precious loot. Christian played very well with his little buddies because they also like running around the house screaming for no reason. Sara, with all her usual flair for the dramatic, was devastated because her BFF friend was unable to come so she decided the whole day was ruined. Got to admire her coping skills. Then she decided that she needed to pick a fight with her brother and cry. I'm not even sure why she was crying. She was the oldest kid by 4 years and the only one crying. A proud moment for me. With kids on a sugar high from the cupcakes consumed at dinner time, parents fled the scene with impressive speed. I think I saw a parent actually leapfrog over her children to get to her car. Full of remorse and hoping to earn back her lost privileges, Sara was very helpful cleaning up crumbs, napkins and toys. While we were busy, Christian decided to swallow a marble. Guess he really will eat anything. Suddenly overcome with love for her brother, she starts wailing that he is going to die and she needs to call 911. I snatch the phone from her and call the doctor. The remedy? Feed the kid. Seriously, I was told to give him some bread and water to make sure his airways are clear. So, I have one kid told to drink milkshakes to gain weight and another kid told to put more things down his throat after swallowing a toy. I will never understand modern medicine. Or my kids.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Red Robin.....Yikes!!!

Since it has been hotter than the surface of the sun here lately, I decided not to cook dinner tonight. Christian had a swim lesson. Paul needed a haircut. This means......... dinner at Red Robin. My kids love this place. They sing the theme song and know the menu by heart. So, we march in and get seated in a booth. Maybe it was the heat stroke. Maybe it was the dehydration. But, I forgot to request actual chairs. My kids treat booths like playgrounds, climbing gyms, beds, etc. Christian immediately succumbs to fatigue and flops down like Vivien Leigh suffering from vapors. Sara, shivering because she is so cold, orders a milkshake. And fails to see the irony when she ups her complaining. We order the food and I hope Paul arrives in time to eat his meal before the kids devour it for him. The food arrives before Paul. (Not sure why HIS haircuts take so long....) Christian inhales his macaroni and cheese like it was his last meal. Sara is busily twirling her spaghetti noodles and spraying spaghetti sauce like a scene from Scarface. Christian is now demanding that Sara hand over some of her dinner because he is still hungry. Sharing meals with Sara is very much a one-way street. She had already graciously let him have a (very) little bit of her milkshake. She is done sharing for the night. The waitress arrives before Paul. I ask for a to-go box and the check. Paul arrived. He received the bill, a boxed up burger and 2 tired and fighting kids. And the keys to my car. I ran out of the place like someone yelled "fire" in a crowded theater. And didn't look back.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Everyone celebrates Father's Day their own special way. Here is how we celebrated the father in our house. Paul made breakfast for everyone. That's what happens when you are the best cook in the house. Then, Sara and I took off for Target to spend Paul's hard earned money on presents for Christian's upcoming birthday. Deciding Dad deserved a little more spoiling, we brought home Moe's for lunch. Sara compiled 6 different salsas. She kept 4 for herself and gave 2 to Paul. Not wanting to miss out on any potential food or snacks, she helped herself to his 2 salsas as well. Then she got curious about his Moe's concoction. She got herself a fork and helped him eat his Father's Day lunch. His celebratory dinner was a pool party celebrating Sara's baseball team's winning the championship. So, he got to pack a bag full of towels, pool toys, snacks, drinks and sunscreen. If we had been home, he would have cooked his own Father's Day dinner. And it would have been delicious. Last year, in a rare burst of domesticity, I tried to make breakfast and coffee. I burned the bacon, undercooked the eggs and had no clue how to make coffee. I know it involves a machine, water and smelly coffee crumbs. He waited patiently while I set off the smoke alarm. Eventually, deciding that he wanted a decent meal before he starved, he graciously stepped in and removed the spatula from my hand. If I loved him less, I would probably cook for him again. Happy Father's Day!