Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Spirit Abounds...

My gift to you: some crappy Christmas poetry

'Tis the week before Christmas and all through the halls,
you can hear distinct sounds of
kids bouncing off walls...
They're all giddy, unfocused, anxious and weird
with everyone wondering: "When will Santa be here?"

It's almost vacation and they've completely
"checked out,"
w h  i n i n g r u n n i n g c r a s h i n g
 'til The SassMaster shouts
That gets their attention for a moment or two
and then it's right back to
chaos times 9+2

Perhaps, "In the lanes, snow is glistening..."
but in preschool, no one's listening.
I'd pull out my hair if I wasn't so delighted
to know that at the end, the tunnel is lighted:
when each little bum scoots out of that door,
they're someone else's problem for 10 days or more!

For you, I wish
full tummies, warm beds and safe arms to hold you,
A little magic, lots of love
 and many stories to be told to you.

As for me,
My couch awaits with a (picture-less!) book and a glass*,
I can almost feel it easing the pain in my ass...
toodle-oo, happy vacation
from the Master of Sass!

And a cheerful anecdote for your amusement:
"Let go of the tree, woman or I'll stick it where the lights won't twinkle!"

The following is the conversation between The Dad and I on our way home from Target where we attempted to finalize the shopping portion of this year's holiday cluster fuck:

Me: So, I got a few things for the boys to wrap up for you, and you have the coffee mug and the flip flop ornament on your dresser that they can decorate for me. Then maybe you could just pick up a gift certificate for me at Barnes and Noble...

The Dad: Maybe I could just give you a coupon that says you can wax my ass for free...

Me: Score! But fair warning, dip shit... if you wake up one of these days clean shaven, with no eye brows you can consider my coupon "redeemed."

Merry Humbug !

Merry Humbug Margaritas

1 cup fresh squeezed limes

1 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec

1 cup cranberry juice

1 cup POM juice
2 cups sliver tequila

Mix ingredients in a pitcher and serve over ice...

I like my 'ritas on the rocks, but it wouldn't be hard to toss it all in a blender with some ice for a frozen version.

"Salting" the Rim... (It was difficult not to title this portion of the post "Rim Jobs")
If you're all about presentation, you could use the red or green sugar crystals that never made it onto the cookies you didn't bake because the dough disappeared mysteriously before the oven was even pre-heated... And don't even try to tell me that only happens at my house.
you could scrounge your purse for loose Ambien.

Have fun and stay put - these are not your ordinary holiday cocktails. These are "flip-off-your-mother-in-law-slug-your-brother-with-a-rock-'tails"... be forewarned.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'd Rather Be...Any Where Else

So this is the guy I spent the last few hours with and while I get as hot as the next gal for a detachable face and above average nostril size, I was less than thrilled about my date...

CPR training. Every year I am required to get re- certified in CPR as part of my job. And every year it's the same shit. Three people need to one up each other with the stories about their mother's next door neighbor's half brother who choked on a piece of pot roast... After the instructor had to spend 5 minutes with someone who insisted that her husband had been choking on water in the shower one morning and that she'd saved him by blowing INTO his mouth, I tuned the fuck out... I should have been thinking about ratios of breaths to compressions (in case you have a burning desire to know: 2 breaths to 15 compressions) but here's what was bangin' around in my noggin instead:

  • If I ever drop, chances are it's going to happen at work. Some days I'm channelling Jackie Gleason by the time I've intervened twice with two preschoolers having a "whine off" over a race car or from hearing the sound of repeated block towers clattering to the concrete floor. Throw in the kid who opened the barber shop in the art area and I'm a stroke waiting to happen... Watching all the folks in my CPR class, who all work for the same agency, I know one thing - if I do go down, I want the biggest bitch you can find to hammer on my chest. (Incidentally, there ought to be a Medic Alert bracelet to this effect...) Those little skinny girls don't have enough weight behind them to flatten a whoopie cushion. Please, God... don't leave one of them in charge of getting oxygen to my precious brain. It's the only part of my body it didn't take me 25 years to love. I also got a bit worried watching some of these folks with lip piercings mauling the dummies with their stainless steel. The idea that I could end up brain dead with a chipped grill just might be enough to propel me toward the gym and away from the Nutty Bars for now. 
  • I started to feel like Mr.Faster! Deeper! Harder! needed a good back story if I was really going to get into the spirit of trying to save his armless, legless torso. So I decided he was a children's librarian with a lovely Italian accent who had lost his arms and legs to a rare, flesh eating parasite he'd contracted while teaching children to read in the jungles of South America. 
I was trying to decide what flavor of gelato is his favorite when the instructor asked me what I would do if I walked into my classroom and there was a child lying motionless on the floor. FYI - "pistachio" is not the right answer to that question...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanks have been given. And now the following Public Service Announcements for All Things Retail Related

"Thank You..." words I very often use in my professional environment and shamefully, so often forget to use in my personal life. Here are some of the "Thank Yous" that don't get said often enough:

Thank you, mom and dad for saying, "Sure. Whatever you need..." so very long ago when we asked you for some space. I never dreamed we'd still be living  here, and I'm sure you didn't either. Thanks for never reminding us about the words we make ourselves eat every year that goes by: "just until we get on our feet."
Thanks for your presence in the boys' lives and the every day gift of having Nana and Grampa right up stairs.
It's not perfect, but our family is unique and has given two little boys twice the love and attention that others get since the day they drew breath. In our society, so full of single parents who struggle to give enough, that's one growing pain my kids will never ache from... and I am forever grateful.

It's hard to say that stuff. It's hard to live in your mom's basement with your family at the age of 34... (feel free to gasp. I just did upon reading that in print.) It's hard to feel like a grown up when you are an adult living with your parents. It's hard to know who you can tell that stuff to... hard to swallow your feelings of inadequacy and failure when people you haven't seen since High School note your address (which is still the same) and ask when your parents' passed away. It's hard, at the age of 34 to have to choke down the same meatloaf that made you gag when you were 7.

But it's harder to be worried all the time because there's not enough money. It's harder to be constantly unavailable to your kids because you can't think about anything but the bills you can't pay. The gift of being able to give to my kids all those worry-free moments in my day is invaluable. I should say my "Thank yous" more often.

Other "Thank Yous" that bear a note here are to the people who caught me when I got the wind knocked out of me a few years ago. The ones who shored me up when all I knew about my life was washed out from under me by a 22 year old tsunami who wanted another notch in her belt. Thank you to all the same people who trust my choices and understand that only The Dad and I know what could be rebuilt and how firm the foundation is. I am grateful for this and all the experiences that illuminated what I was too scared to explore of my own free will - I can take a hit and still be who I want to be. No matter what other people's choices set into motion, I can choose my actions, my words, my dignity. I write my history the way I want to look back at it. I can be vulnerable and pathetic sometimes and know with certainty that those times are not the ones that define me. I can manage the mess that I make of my life and help my kids to come through it too. My life as a teenager and as a younger woman used to be comprised of "I can't," or "I could never," and now I know I can... whenever I'm ready. There is deep gratitude in my heart for all that the last ten years has brought me.

With all of that said, I now I have to turn my attention to the retail world, because I DID venture out on Black Friday and was saved from incarceration ONLY because I was wearing my flops and my feet weren't hot. Hot feet make me cranky. Everything else in the universe was aligned in such a way as to prevent an enjoyable retail experience. I started my period, so consequently woke up feeling like manslaughter could possibly be part of the day's agenda. If I was to measure the day by the first words I spoke, it would've been clear after roaring "Get OFF me!" at the children at 7 a.m. that the day was going to suck donkey balls. Look out Wal-Mart... The Sassmaster cometh. At 11:02 a.m. I had a Nintendo DS Lite in hand and I should have gone back home. I'll leave you with the following as we hurl ourselves into the Vortex of Excess and all the caloric and financial debauchery associated with the Holiday Season...

Please take note of the following PSA's for the Holiday Season 2010

  • Target stores, please devise a system for tagging and identifying the employees who "Don't Usually Work in This Department." If their only job is to stand around in a Santa hat and ooze out of their signature red "Target" shirt while re-folding sweaters, let us know... It will save us the aggravation of the post-question blank stare and could save the life of the ass hat you bumped out of the stock room who doesn't know what "sherpa-lined" means.
  • Don't try to do any amount of Christmas shopping with the children around... hiding presents from their view looks an awful lot like shoplifting. Side bar - have you noticed how many Mall Security folks are short and surly???
  • Piling that shit on your credit card and paying 18 - 28 % interest for however long it takes you to pay it off cancels out whatever money you saved on it. Think about that next year before you peel yourself out of bed at 4 in the morning to freeze your ass off waiting in line at Toys-R-Us.
  • Gifting any of the following items to my children will mean a swift and painful ass-kicking: Candy Land, umbrellas, Moon Sand, and anything that eats or shits.
  • Teacher gifts... please listen carefully. Your child's teacher does not need or want pot pouri, bath products, lotion, or candles. Chocolate, margarita mix, or a handful Vicodin in a decorative tin are all acceptable if you insist on spending your money. But seriously? Don't spend your money. Grab a pen and a folded piece of paper - remember those?? Write a note that thanks him/her for giving his/her time and energy to your child. Say thank you for something that you know has had an impact on your child. And end it with your sincere wishes that the holiday break is well enjoyed, and let 'em know that you know it's well-deserved.
Merry Humbug, poppets...

Monday, November 15, 2010

At Long Last! An Update... Head Start Stockholm's Syndrome

I am trying to forget that there's a health and safety check happening at school tomorrow and that there are a handful of loose ends in the children's files that I left until the absolute last moment, which could result in major disaster should my files be checked on Friday during the return of the federal reviewers...
I am also trying to forget about the two buckets filled with Halloween candy on the shelf directly behind me.
Do you think it's possible to smell a Butterfinger through the wrapper 5 feet away?

I will now attempt to write to forget,  in order not to eat to forget. I have totally neglected this endeavor for way too long and have even gotten requests for updates - Thank you!! Granted, it was my best friend and a family member but it's nice to know someone wants to hear more of my bullshit. I honestly thought when I started this blog that my preschoolers would be a plethora of blog-fodder but, I'm beginning to think I'll have to comb the cob-webby corners of my memory for tales of preschoolers-past in order to keep you entertained.

Stay tuned for A Preschool Story: The Tales of SassMaster Scrooge! Fortunately The Viking has entered full-fledged toddler-dom and has begun his attempt at world domination via tantruming and pinching. There will also be an installment of Viking Misadventures the very minute I'm done with the college course I picked up this semester. That's another blog post in and of itself that's begging to be written - the course is called Students with Special Needs but I now refer to it as "Teachers With Special Needs." I am still astoinshed each and every Tuesday evening to be sitting in a college classroom with 20+ grown ups (who ALL work in the field already) and hearing "I don't get it" more than three times each class.

Pre-blog, I envisioned the same old, same old -  12 rowdy Snotbots who would find their own unique ways to make me wish a meteor would blaze through the atmosphere and directly through our classroom ceiling each and every day, but... guess what... They're all FABULOUS... Even this year's Queen Bee is redeemed, and succeeds in tickling my funny bone rather than tap dancing on my last nerve for once. Sure, she tries the patented Disney Princess, doe-eyed smile as her first line of defense upon hearing that someone else (me) in the room has an agenda, and sure... she then ignores (albeit unsuccessfully) all requests that technique fails to deflect... But she also has no inhibitions when it comes to making silly faces and weird Tourrette's-like vocalizations as she plays. She will "BEE-DOO, BEE-DOO, BEE-DOO" at the top of her lungs in the echo-y bathroom stall and then walk out casually smiling as she continues past me and my clearly amused face. Often, she can also be heard making a strange, gutteral "GAHK, GAHK, GAHK, GAHK" sound with her mouth wide open and her lips curled over her teeth. So, am I completely annoyed by a child who is willful, who blatantly and silently defies me in front of my face? (Anyone one who has worked with me probably needs a moment to stop laughing at that obviously rhetorical question... Take your time.) Yeah... but because she's a pain in the ass who flies her Freak Flag a little higher than all the rest, I am more amused than annoyed for now. I don't mind letting this one wear the crown - she and I have already established who wears the top hat at this Circus...

The truth is they are all interesting and well-behaved. They clean up their shit when I tell them to, they love to sing and be read to, they walk where they're supposed to, and 5 out of 11 of them remember to turn off the faucet with a fucking paper towel! I bet 5 out of 11 of the people who read this don't do that, for Christ sake. They are a really great group of kids and you wanna know what? I'm completely bored with them. Clearly I have some sort of Head Start Stockholm's Syndrome... Apparently I can't function and feel like I'm earning my crappy pay unless someone's tossing chairs around or falling to the ground like a boneless pile of screaming, writhing flesh every five minutes. I have been waiting for 10 years to have a classroom like this and I'm ready to open a vein. What's wrong with me? them? no... it's definitely me.

Last week two little girls ran up hand and hand, waving a book at me and smiling like something out of a JC Penney commercial,  "I can read this book to her?" the bigger one asked. They had one of my "home books" (this year I don't have to hoard them away on my Teacher Desk because everyone in my room loves and respects books) I said "Sure!" and had to stop mysef from adding, "But wouldn't you rather push her?"
It's only the 8th week of school and half of them are already negociating the solutions to their own problems. They only really need me to accompany them to the bathroom across the hall. Thank goodness a few of them still have laces on their sneakers that need tying now and again, or I might be tempted to just lock the door, leave out some juice and crackers and take a nap under the desk.

There's hope for something lively yet - room for a wild card... One of the kiddos will be leaving this week and as Forrest's mama always says, "Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get." Who knows what or who is coming down the road, but for now, I'll try to be careful what I wish for and appreciate what I've got. And come Thursday I'm really going to miss Mr. "Please May I Can I Have..." Safe travels, N - May peace and plenty bless your world, with joy that long endures.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Page 77 from 1001 Ways to Kill Your Mother...

We live in a college town. In fact we live in an area that boasts at least a dozen or more colleges within a 60 mile radius. This means there is no shortage of too-tan, vapid idiots yammering "Oh. My. Gawd." at one another with words like "PINK" and "JUICY" written across their asses and a rat's nest of fried hair piled up on their empty heads. Most of the time I only have to encounter these girls from behind the wheel of my car and as I've posted on Facebook before, I try to impress upon them this note of public service - it's a crosswalk, ladies. Not a fucking force field. Sometimes I have vivid fantasies of watching Uggs and Coach bags fly to the left and right of my hood.

Today we headed out for breakfast and were deterred from lines out the door at all the places I prefer. We eventually ended up at a chain restaurant - the kind without a drive through window. I thought MAYBE the morning was salvaged upon learning that because it was that magical time of day, right before lunch but we could still order breakfast, everyone got what they wanted. The Tornado got a grilled cheese, I ordered an omlette and home fries, The Dad got an appetizer sampler and The Viking got toast. Not because he likes it but because he puked in the car on the way to the third restaurant. (Yes. Some people would've gone home. I, however, was on a mission for an omlette and that kid is one of the reasons that my tits look like something out of the pages of National Geographic. He owes me.)

Even though we were all destined to nosh delightfully without necessity of compromise, it became clear immediately that the morning could still tank. On the way to our seats I was inwardly cheering about the proximity of our table to the bathrooms - a total score in case the Viking needed to hurl again, and I was oblivious to the three tables full of Oomp-Loompa colored college gals seated ALL around us. Once I knew I was going to get what I wanted to eat, my senses tuned back into my surroundings and instantaneously my ears were assaulted by some of the most mind-blowing conversation I've heard in a really long time.

My children regularly hear me swear. So trust me, I wasn't worried about what they were hearing or being exposed to. I just couldn't fathom the lack of depth all around me. I knew The Tornado would only have tuned in if the conversation went something like, "Oh my Gawd, Tiffany! I was so drunk when I got those Silly Bandz... I didn't even realize I hooked up with Spider-Man and the Hulk until they each left some Glow-In-The-Dark ones on the nightstand!" And none of them had wheels or a diesel engine so The Viking was only aware that they were blocking his view of the interstate and all of it's vehicular charm. I'm not talking about "blue language." I'm not even talking about recalling some drunk shenanigans which included discoveries like, "These are NOT my panties." (Who hasn't retold THAT story a time or two, right? Wait. Right??)

This was an entirely different league of dip shit banter. These girls were not only shrieking about all the losers and ugly guys they'd hooked up with, but also all the other "bitches" they'd scrapped with at parties. (The ONLY time it got quiet was when they were trying to figure out how to divide the check.) One of my favorite quotes was "I just called up that kid, Josh so I could make out with somebody after Tim blew me off." (laughter) "I totally wanted to hook up with Tim. He's so hot. Screw him. He doesn't know what he's missing." (high fives from her "girls" and more laughter)

Doesn't know what he's missing? My guess is crabs or chlamydia... yuck! My next thought was terrifying. What if someday one of my boys brings home some chic with a bad tramp stamp and some salacious word stitched across the ass of her sweat pants??? GAH! If they ever wanted to just kill me... a girlfriend from the "Oompa-Loompa Delta Ugg" sorority would nail the coffin shut. A friend of mine with no children told me I wouldn't have to worry about that for many years. Bullshit! 15 minutes ago the Tornado was a precocious toddler running circles around me and the Viking was a hazy idea called "Someday We'll Have One More." I'm going to blink and tomorrow will be the prom. This is exactly when I should be worried about this and that is why I've decided to order shock collars - one for each child. We'll start with a few episodes of Jersey Shore, ZAAAAAPPP!!! and move on to a stroll through the mall and several local tanning salons, ZAP! ZAP! ZAAAPPPITTY ZAP....

If this works, I'm slipping it on The Dad so I can take care of that snoring problem once and for all.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The "Dailies"

This isn't much in the way of substance but it's something... and it's serving it's purpose nicely to deter me from doing what I really ought to be doing - homework.

I'm still fairly new to blogging and have only considered this blog a "Mommy Blog" because I'm a mother and a teacher of young children and the snotbots are the source of most of the crazy and funny shit that happens in my life. A fellow blogger, newly dear to my heart at A Mother's Musings, Mishaps and Milestones started talking about the trend of daily blog themes and that started me thinking about how my blog does and doesn't fit into this category of Mommy Blogs. I sort of already knew that I wasn't your typical mommy blogger because I know that I don't fit the mold of the "Mommies" that I know outside of cyber space. I would rather my kids NOT eat dirt and lick stuff on the playground, but I'm not going to spill my Diet Coke leaping up to spray, wipe or slather them with anti-bacterial products, either. Seriously, ladies... ringworm isn't forever. I don't think...

So in the spirit of irreverence in which this blog was born, let me offer my ideas to this daily blog post craze *rolling up sleeves*...

Here's what would grab MY attention:
  • Margarita Mondays - post your favorite recipe (the ONLY recipe allowed at The Circus) and your best tequila story. If your story involves donkeys or ball gags, feel free to preface your post with "This actually happened to a friend of mine..."
  • Tough Shit Tuesday - list all the things you denied your children this week that they were sure they had to have or do. My entry this week would be this ridiculousness: Mighty Beanz
  • Fuck My Life Friday - post your gripes about whatever's got your undies knotted...
It's not cute and probably won't sell much ad space, except possibly from the fine folks (wink, wink...) who bring us Jose Cuervo, but it's honest and it would make me laugh. BTW - much thanks to the kind and thoughtful people at Cuervo for making pre-made margaritas for those of us who have only enough time to crush the Xanax that we use to "salt" the rim. Cheers!

Monday, August 30, 2010

If You Always Thought Your Mom Liked Your Sibling Best, You May Be Right

The Tornado - formerly known here at The Circus as The Six Year Old, turned seven today.
Here's why it's hard NOT to have a slight inclination to play favorites at my house:

After dinner and just before cake, the Viking gets a hair across his ass about something and begins to throw a fit and then, because he has yet to really grasp who he's dealing with, throws a sippy cup at me. Time Out, cherub. You suck, you lose. My inner Soup Nazi, barks "NO CAKE FOR YOU!" in my head.
There are candles and we sing... and the Tornado wishes the Viking out of Time Out, so "he can share my cake..."  I KNOW... I know. Line up your daughters, now folks.

Five minutes later the Viking is sitting in my lap shoveling frosting and crumbs into his cake-hole. I'm over the sippy cup incident so I playfully ask, "Who's a mess?"
My child turned around, looked at me and then smeared a gooey hand across my chest and gleefully giggled, "You!"
You can clearly understand why there might be a preference here, right?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back in the Saddle but No Snotbots* to Wrangle for 2 more weeks...

But first... I just have to share this:

The Tornado has been waiting for two years to get on a soccer team and has begged me since his birthday party on Saturday to try on his shin guards...

I came out back tonight just in time to see him hand the Viking (who was grinning from ear to ear) a stick to whack his pads with. Tomorrow, he's going to be totally pissed and utterly bewildered when he gets nailed in the leg and doesn't remember inviting this abuse. I know one thing, for sure... The Viking won't forget. But, I'll be at work and THAT will be Daddy's problem.

Day 2 back at work today and although I left the house for a training yesterday with two different shoes on, and I may have permanently damaged my hearing by unplugging the carbon monoxide detector while underneath the METAL desk, I think my back-to-work transition is going to be as smooth as silk.

By 11:00 each morning during the summer the Viking has yelling at me for things like putting the wrong spread on his bagel or not putting the right color top on the sippy cup - a difficult task to manage with a little booger who doesn't identify colors correctly... Can't you just see me? Unshowered, my face looks like a punching bag because I was up until 3 watching bad reality t.v. and posting all kinds of nonsense on the Internet - "This IS the yellow one!!!! See?!? YEL-LOW!"

Today, when I got home there was yelling too - "MAMAAAAA!" and jiggly cheeks as the Viking ran to greet me at the door. I didn't even mind fielding the Tornado's incessant "Can we go somewhere?" question because I hadn't already had to answer it 394 times prior. Home is great, but work is good too.
The snotbots arrive for their first day in 14 more calendar days - let's see what hijinx and havoc ensue...
 *The term "Snotbots" has been pilfered for my own use from my smart and funny friend and colleague. She not only has a great vocabulary, but she also brings me fancy duct tape. I like her.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I just had a moment like this one myself recently and I was graced with the presence of mind to let it sink in and marinate there for a bit...

The Six Year Old was two and had gotten tangled up in his t-shirt before bed... tears, stamping feet, and yet he wouldn't accept any help. It was simultaneously painful and hilarious to watch.

Let me share here, that I don't do anything unless I know I'm good at it - yep... I'm THAT kid. Always have been. No sports for me, and after 7th grade art - no drawing, either. Some poor bastard, whose name I still remember, wondered out loud why I wasn't getting the shading right on my rendering of an apple. Let's just say I bet he still remembers my name, too.

The technical piece of getting this blog to look the way I want it to has been an experience in head banging and hair pulling. HTML code looks like it may as well be a launch sequence for the space shuttle, to me. Recently, I sat down, determined to make a badge for my blog and spent the better part of an hour ( a long time for me to sit and focus on any ONE thing ) and messed around on Photobucket until I got the image I wanted. I then followed the relatively simple instructions on a tutorial page I finally found and.... fucked it up. No image showed in my side bar. Just meaningless code... I'm pretending I'm not a total failure and am preferring to believe that perhaps someone clicked on it and launched a small, experimental shuttle somewhere near Kuala Lumpur. Firmly resolved to try again and get it right, I took an A.D.D. detour and decided to check one of my new favorite blogs first, and lo and behold, Shelbi at A Mother's Musings, Mishaps and Milestones has my badge! On her page! But wait... that's not the type I used. And where's the damn border?
Hmmm... Another long story too late to be short, Shelbi, in an act of kindness and support made me a badge and put it on her blog! I am so grateful for the help and I love the look of the badge - THANK YOU, Shelbi!

(Please note: This is in no way a criticism! Just a great insight... I'm happy for both the badge and the thoughts it has provoked)
But... my next thought was, "Oh... this is how it feels when we do things for kids instead of encouraging their efforts." The thought was accompanied by the sound of the wind going out of my sails.. just a little bit. Kids are forever coming up against things they can't or aren't allowed to do and although there are rules at preschool, it is a place of "You CAN..." When we do it, or "fix it" for them, their efforts and perceived abilities are squashed... For example - Please!! If your child has struggled to put on her own shoes and finally appears in the your line of sight with shoes ON, but on the wrong feet - SHUT UP! If they are clearly not hurting her - and you should ask, congratulate her and be on your way. NEXT time is the time to do a mini lesson on how to tell which shoe goes where. Kids are confident and happy when they feel powerful, and their power comes from feelings and experiences that inform them, "Yes I can... I did that. Because I'm me, and I fucking rock." Seize every opportunity to foster these feelings in your children. I think it's what keeps them off drugs, but seriously? Don't e-mail me later if your "confident" teenager gets busted huffing glue... As per my last "What kind of Crazy are you passing on to your children?" post, I'm going to be just barely treading water myself, as ages 8, 9, 10 and so on take turns kicking my ass.

The truth is that I was going to try one more time and then shoot Shelbi an e-mail anyway begging her to teach me how to do the HTML crap for my badge. Another of life's great lessons is learning when to humbly accept help. Thanks again, Shelbi :-)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What will 20 Years and a Couch Reveal?

My kids have been acting incredibly normal since I've started blogging about them so there wasn't much to think about recently with the exception of this:

Has anyone else noticed that the "quick code" for MOM on your cell phone is 666??? Hmmm... Spooky. Upon discovering this I chuckled and then started to wonder... about my relationship with my own mom, about the ups and downs of this motherhood gig, and about one of my favorite sayings: "If it's not one thing, it's your mother." I find that as I grow as a parent I either do things exactly the way I was raised or exactly the opposite as I was raised. There's no middle of the road. Does it ever paralyze you with fear when you stop and realize that whatever you say, whatever you do, whoever you bring into their lives and how you treat them or let them treat you is internalized by your children and becomes a part of who they are? ACK!

So my question is: What particular brand of Crazy I am passing on to my children?  I am the enforcer at my house, mostly because my husband works nights and is with the children less than I am. But it is in no small part because if their up-bringing was left up to him alone, they wouldn't know what a trash can or a laundry basket was and their skin would have a permanent orange tinge from whatever it is that makes Beefaroni that color. Totally. Unacceptable. So I am the rule maker (Daddy seconds all motions and is great at backing me up, but somehow always comes out smelling like roses) and I am also the deliver-er of consequences. I am the shrieking maniac that loses her shit when you bounce the ball anywhere but outside. I am the one the Six Year Old hates from time to time and says doesn't "understand" him. For my own mom, it was a sticky floor that made her shit kittens. Even now when I hear that familiar "ccchhht" if my flip flop happens to tread through some day-old juice puddle or I discover a Popsicle grave yard under the table, my heart beats a little bit faster and I scurry for the Wet Jet.

So now I'm wondering what 20 years and a couch will reveal that I've done to my own kids. This job is not pass or fail. Make no mistake, this post is not me boo-hooing that I'm a bad mother - I am confident that I am a fantastic mom and unless you smoke crack instead of buying milk, or abuse your children you should have every confidence in your own maternal fantastic-ness... Says ME. But also embrace the inevitability that you WILL fuck up your kids... living with yourself depends on the degree to which you do it.

My mother has the ability to drive me over the edge faster than anyone on the planet with just her tone of voice... She likes to end monologues about issues we have with lines like "well, of course no one else wants to listen to what I have to say. Why should you be any different..." grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.... "Let me help you off that crucifix, Ma. You're getting blood all over the carpet."

I am grateful everyday for my mother. She is my moral compass and while her advice is not always appreciated on delivery, it is always sound. Her sense of social responsibility and generosity are the little voices that live inside me encouraging me to do for and give to others. That being said, I am also grateful everyday that I have two boys and that I will never have to sustain a relationship with another female like the one I have with my mother. As I sit here I'm remembering the evening my mother and I went shopping for my first bra, and I am forced to wonder what my boys will reflect on later and say, "When I have my own kids, I will NEVER ____________ !"

Growing up I was always chunky and by fourth grade had developed "chubby boobies." I knew that I had developed breasts ahead of my classmates because I was fat, not because of some awesome mega-boob gene that I could learn to love later. One morning I was stretching in the hall way - we were all getting ready to go out to church, when suddenly my father exclaims to my mother as though I were not right in front of them, “My God, dear, it’s about time she should be wearing a bra, isn’t it?” The word horrified had no tangible meaning for me until that very moment. I said a prayer at church that day asking God to make my dad grow boobs.

Several days later I had warmed up to the idea and begged my mom to take me out to get a bra. We headed out to Bradlees and I was filled with a certain understanding that this should be a special milestone for mom and me... wa-waaaaaah (game show "you lose" sound). Enter disappointment and the beginning of "You don't understand me!" I was imagining little strappy numbers with eyelet lace and tiny pink rosettes. What I ended up with is something close to what I could only guess military issue looks like. I can remember wandering up and down the bra aisles, suddenly enchanted by the silky, lacey textures, and then realizing at the same time that one: I was not in charge of this mission, and two: I was definitely in trouble because she was foraging through the boxed Playtex Cross-Your-Heart granny bras. We bought two of the ugliest bras ever made that day. One beige and one white. Now when I think about them, the images conjured in my head are that of a bull-dog faced Nurse Ratchet type named Helga… Translation: this is what fat girls wear. Pretty bras are for the pretty girls. Years later there would be massive credit card debt and a law firm calling me to collect $567.38 charged to Victoria's Secret.

We make mistakes and misunderstand... we blow some of the milestones and never even realize it. I am still too close to it to figure out what sort of damage I'm doing every day. Guess I'll know in 30 years when there's a tell-all book or God help me, a blog. We're not perfect and I don't know about you, but I never claimed to be. And miracle of miracles, our kids still love us despite it all. I love you, mom.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Award?!? Moi???

Tina at The Floundering SAHM passed on the Versatile Blogger Award to me! I never get any kind of award! This is fantastically exciting... and I appreciate the confidence, Tina. Thank you!  My hats are already getting too small...

The rules are:
Thank the person who gave you the award.

List 7 things about yourself.

Pass on the award to bloggers you've recently discovered.
Seven Things About Me:
  1. I get choked up at school assemblies... What?! Shut up...
  2. I love naps, but I wish I loved exercise, instead.
  3. I drink one cup of coffee a day: Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters Toasted Coconut Cream
  4. When I was in second grade my brother chipped my front tooth with a hairbrush
  5. I love the smell of my children's sweaty toes
  6. I love to get a pedicure
  7. Blogging is my new guilty pleasure
I would love to nominate some people for this award, but fifteen (according to official rules) is more than I could scrape up. I've only just lost my blog cherry a few weeks ago, you see. So I am officially awarding the following brilliant bloggers:

 Have fun with this ladies!
flipflopmama a.k.a. The SassMaster

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Circus is Coming to Town... 2 weeks and counting

Ms. "Ring Master Sass" is gearing up for opening day, poppets! Crossing my fingers for the reunion of the preschool teaching team equivalent of Magic and Bird, busting out my duct tape (no.. it isn't really for taping kids to chairs), scouring tag sales for things we can play with that are too big to cram up your nose, squirreling away toilet paper rolls, stocking up on tequila and trying to figure out what the fuck to tell my doctor in order to score myself a 'scrip for Xanax.

2 weeks and counting until I go back to muck out the classroom and to sit through "I-Wish-I-Had-A-Spoon-To-Scoop-My-Brain-Out-Through-My-Eye-Hole" required trainings. Despite the fact that my time with my littlest, very lastest baby (!!) and my husband will be cut down severely and that by December 1st I'll be ready to start culturing Strep throat and 24-Hour Flu lollipops, I am actually excited to go back.

I write about the grumbly stuff like bratty kids and crazy families, because it's funny but that's really just a small part of the day. The truth is that at preschool, something amazing happens everyday. It's usually nothing that I planned to happen, which is why I'm all done with that crap. No more lesson plans - the kids create the day in my classroom. Sometimes that means we all figure out how to make a ramp that makes the cars go the farthest in block area, or we all rip up paper to make beds for the dinosaurs because someone was worried they were cold. (This actually happened last year and even though I showed them pictures and described how blazing hot it was on Earth during the time of the dinosaurs, I met with blank stares before they asked: "What kind of stuff do you have to make blankets with?") Sometimes it means all we use all day is different kinds of tape and we tape the shit out of anything that doesn't run away from us. (THAT was an excellent day... 12 preschoolers can use 4 rolls of masking tape and 2  1/2 rolls of colored duct tape in 4 hours - FYI.)
Sometimes it means we find out from the first-hand experience of a classmate that Elmer's glue is not, in fact, a good substitute for hair gel... on Picture Day.

Whatever it will mean this year, I'm ready...  Almost! If any of my local readers have yogurt containers that look like the ones I hope to post a picture of below, please let me know and I'll find a way to collect them.
We're going to make some kick ass drums be-dazzled with duct tape...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Here We Go Again...

My return from SAHMland (StayAtHomeMom) is immenent... 3 week countdown started today. As this time rolls around every year, I never know whether I want to burst out the door leaving nothing but the tail end of a maniacal laugh hanging at the door, or to barricade myself in the livingroom with my kids, a pile of books and several boxes of Nutty Bars. My tiny paycheck would not be hard to give up, but then that's what pays for the books and the Nutty Bars. Sigh.... So today I started thinking about the new school year and about all the cherubs who will file through my door and try run my circus just like they do at home. How many times have I wanted to hang a "Welcome to Pre-K Boot Camp: We hope you wore your big kid undies today" sign on the bulletin board? Too many to count. Posts will no doubt pick up in the first few weeks of September as those are always the most interesting. Stay tuned!

My mother said to me early on, when the Six Year Old was still drooling all over himself, that as soon as our children are born we begin the process of givng them over to the world. I was a little indignant at the time and felt that after fifty-five hours of labor and seven stitches, "my baby" was mine and the world would have him when I said it would be so...  I thought it was her way of saying I was being too overprotective and controlling. My blood boiled at her suggestion that "the world" would be any part of the marvelous human being I was setting out to shape. At the very least, I thought she meant I was hogging him and the rest of the world was being denied the opportunity bask in his delightfulness as I did everyday. I was a friggin idiot.

What she meant was that we are responsible for the people we turn loose into the world. Their contact with the rest of humanity is inevitable and our actions, our choices dictate what those experiences will be like for both our children and those interacting with them. We are responsible for creating citizens of the world... people who can function without melting down at the first sign of disappointment, people who choose to raise others up instead of tearing them down, people who accept responsibility for a mistake and seek ways to make amends... This should be the focus in families and it is most definitely the focus of my preschool classroom.

Each September I size up 12 - 15 new citizens of the world and find that more than a few have terrorist capabilities. I will no doubt find something delightful and worth cherishing in each and every child, and it is in fact the classroom terrorists who often draw me in right away. (I suspect this may be because I was a bit of shit when I was about four years old, as well.) The statistics are totally behind this, as in 10 years and what I'm ball-parking to be about 150 children, there have only been about 5 I'd never want to see again.

What preschoolers need to know and will find out during the first week of school:
We will play! We will learn (while we're playing)! We will laugh! We will cry (it's inevitable). We will hurt, we will heal... We will try, we will fail. We will try again and we will fail again... We will make friends and we will find out we don't like some things about some people. We will tell them. They will cry. We will cry. We'll work it out. We will try again and find out we are AWESOME!! We will have big feelings and we will figure out together what to do with them. There will be big voices sometimes... We will learn to listen to the big voices and the small ones. There will be messes. There will be "have-to's." We may not like the "have-to's" but we will still be required to do them. We will find out there are all kinds great of things we can do by ourselves. And I will be there to encourage you and help you figure it out. My name is not "mommy" at preschool, although by April I will hear that several times an hour until it's time to go home. I am not going to do it for you... even if it's hard, but I will sit with you, as you come to understand that YOU CAN. You will hear my angry voice, and my laugh, and see my smile and see my WTF face more than once a day... Because I have all the same feelings you do. And P.S. it's my job to be impervious to all the bullshit you feed your parents. Welcome! You can! You will! And believe me when I tell you that if it isn't safe or kind, YOU WON'T. Let's have fun!

Parents, the above is written for your benefit too, but here's your Need To Know list 2010 -2011:
  • ALWAYS say "goodbye" - sneaking out is dirty pool, and not appreciated by your child or his teacher. Give a 2 minute warning, ONE hug or kiss and a confident "I'll see you soon."  and then hit the bricks. You can call from the parking lot, or ask the teacher to call you when your child is calm.
  • After week 1, allow your child to hang up his backpack and get undressed by himself. He doesn't need you to do it anymore. We work hard to foster independence because it makes kids feel good and powerful and proud. You don't want to be that mom cutting up her daughter's steak at the rehearsal dinner, right??
  • Mommies and daddies of "Princesses", please note: Dress shoes and high heeled flip flops = chin-chopping, concussion-creating, tooth-loosening, America's Funniest Videos-style wipe outs. Save the effin tap shoes and patten leathers for dance class. And yes, I will think you're a total idiot if you bring her in with dress shoes on and say you couldn't get her to take them off...
  • No preschooler on the planet needs a friggin umbrella. If it rains, we stay in. Please leave your eye-poking, classroom distraction in your car.
And lastly:
  • Your child is the center of YOUR world... as it should be. Here, our focus is COMMUNITY. We will enjoy the unique qualities your child brings to the GROUP and celebrate our classroom family in many ways. That being said, this is a classroom not a fucking Chuck E. Cheese. We'll sing for your kid and make a crown on his birthday. Save your cake and pinata for the backyard.
Please note: My opinions are my own. I do not claim to speak for all preschool teachers... just the ones NOT on anti-psychotic medications.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiter? I'd like a vacation from my vacation, please... Make it a double.

I am NOT a planner... I have no awareness of any kind of "big picture" anywhere in my life. I never did. I can remember during my senior year in high school, when I was counting the days 'til my life would "begin" (HA!)  and all of my friends were so stressed out and kept visiting the Guidence Counselor's office and going on overnights to check out colleges... I was sleeping and doing as little homework as I could in order to squeak out a B- in most classes thinking, "What are they running around like their underwear's on fire for? College won't actually start until next fall, for Christ's sake." I did get into college. Just had to do a year+ in community college as those folks have fewer acceptance hoops to jump through and rolling admissions.

At any rate... this dysfunction has played a recurring role in my life, along with it's stupid side kick - procrastination. Not the least of the issues born of this combination of character defects, was the spacing of my children. They are 5 years apart. The Six Year Old is a flake, for sure, and will probably need a partner in life who reminds him of things like wearing socks that match or remembering everyday to check the roof of the car before driving away, but at least he can manage himself in a restaurant. And I no longer I have to fish in his mouth while squeezing his cheeks to grab random shit while trying to avoid being bitten. I don't have to tell him 473,611 times NOT to throw rocks or bring his juice into the living room. I have to tell him as many times to change his underwear and to put dirty clothing INTO the hamper as opposed to on the floor next to it... BTW - is this a glitch that comes with a penis or just the penises that come from my husband's bloodline??? Aaaaand.... he understands my angry voice. He has learned that to survive life with me, you must STOP, LOOK and LISTEN upon hearing mom's loud words. He knows with certainty that your best bet is to feign death when you hear mom speak to you an inch and a half from your face, through gritted teeth. The Little Viking... hasn't yet embraced this survival technique. Foiled by lack of planning. Again... I am less than thrilled to meet with resistance again after several years of compliance.
So, one would wonder, how is it possible that we didn't take any of these everyday experiences into consideration when we decided to pack up and go to southern Connecticut for a Camping-Aquarium-Beach-and-Dinosaur-Park-Family-Funfest Weekend??? Hell if I know. I'm not going to say the Little Viking was the cause of the Family Funfest Weekend more closely resembling a suckfest weekend for most of the two and a half days we were gone... but you can probably infer that he was a big part.
Here are some highlights:
  • During the setting up of camp and for the rest of our stay it was 4,000 degrees with an occassional breeze that amounted to a small, hot fart - NO RELIEF. With sweat dripping from places too gross to mention, we managed to put up the tent, assemble the screened canopy, unpack the car, and not lose or kill the children, while still choosing to stay married. Yay!
  • At some point during the setting up of camp, the Little Viking walked out of a diaper that must have been soaked with 3 pounds of pee... We didn't realize until I saw sweaty bum cheek prints on the picnic table...
  • Sleeping was horrendous - me on an air mattress wearing both kids like a wetsuit while my husband snores away on his own mattress.
  • Had to deter sleepwalking Six Year Old from pissing on the side of the tent twice in the middle of the night...
  • Despite the delicious smells from all the wonderful little bistros and downtown restaurants in Mystic, we were relegated to Friendly's and McDonald's because no one in such establishments will care that the Little Viking acts like an animal while waiting and eating... and breathing.
  • At the beach, it turns out that the Little Viking hates the ocean. The Six Year Old could stay in the waves all day, which apparently necessitated that the Viking go down to the water every 10 minutes to demand that his brother come "OUT!" and was followed seemlessly by a 5 star meltdown each time I returned him to the blanket to dig.
  • At some point, after coating himself in sand like a Shake-n-Bake pork chop for most of the hour we were there, the Little Viking became aware of the inevitable sand in and around your nut sack feeling and began to scream about his "peem-pis" (penis - for those of you with little grasp of phonics and/or no imagination) I could not believe I actually brought a book with me...
  • I think my heffalump physique clad in my granny-suit actually grossed out some 17 year-old Rock of Love wanna-be in a neon bikini. Funny thing was it didn't sting like it used to when I was little. I was a even a bit amused to catch her eye and horrified expression. I told her I used to be a size 6, but it was the carbs that did me in. I imagined later that she was a on a treadmill somewhere crying about french fries.
  • The Aquarium was a great experience... The Little Viking has been integrated into our family's love of giant fish tanks filled with aquatic amazement. Hooray! We didn't have to chum the beluga tank with his pulpy remains. The heat took a bit of the piss out him and he was asleep the second we left the parking lot.
As my husband and I high-fived our way out of the campground on the morning we were to leave, I was giddy with the thought of a cool, dry bed and air conditioning and grandparents waiting with open arms for the tykes they missed for three days. I was delerious with the thought of not having to interact with my children until bedtime.
Family Funfest weekend, indeed...
Here's what I have managed to plan recently - Next Wednesday I am having my tubes blocked! No more babies. No more hormones. Here's as big as the picture needs to be for me right now: I will NEVER have to go camping with a toddler again.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Tonight I thought I'd share a smattering of the WTF scenarios that are responsible for the ugly furrows currently raked across my forehead.

Second to last day of school:
The grandfather of a child who was continually picked up late throughout the year despite conversation after conversation about the importance of being on time, says to me at drop off that morning: "I sure hope I won't be late today." (read: "I'm probably going to be late today, so I hope that's okay. I know you've been put out before and that little "Johnny" gets anxious when all the other kids have left and there is still no grown up here to claim him, but my agenda is waaaaay more important than any of that crap.")
Guess that was my cue to assume role of stereotypical, submissive female and let him know it's fine if he needs to be late even though I have been clear about my boundaries. Yeeeaaah. Here's what, pig, unless you can produce wings from underneath that size XXL shirt, I suggest you synchronize your watch right now.
My response: "Me too!" Big smile. Blink. Blink. Your move, asshat...
He replies: "Ah, you don't have to be anywhere after this but home, anyways."
Me (still smiling, Stepford style): "Well, that's a pretty important place to me."
WTF??? My imagined response: "I sure hope I don't lose control of this foot and send it sailing into your droopy, shriveled up 'nads you conceited, self-involved fucktard. See you at 1:15!"

The Six Year Old:
He's watching television as I pass through with the Little Viking in my arms and I say: "First is J's bath and then you're up. 10 minutes - got it?"
He makes some slack-jawed zombie noise intended to acknowledge I have yammered some words in his direction. I reiterate and ask for eye contact as I repeat what I said. (Who knows if eye contact means the information went in - but it makes me feel better and less like leaving him in the yard over night covered in something to attract the coyotes.)
Next, from the bathroom, as the water is thundering in my ears and I am trying to wrestle a shirt off the Little Viking (who has two fistfuls of Matchbox cars he'll die before giving up), I hear him yell "Mom?!" from the living room where he has the television on super loud.
We do the obvious "What? I can't hear you!" followed by "I said..." once or twice before I scream for him to come to me so I can hear him. He continues to try and convey whatever he needs to from the living room and I snap (surprise!).
The actual conversation goes like this:

Me (screeching): "Are you stuck to something in there!?!?"
Six Y/O: "No..."
Me: "Then come into the bathroom for God's sake!" (less screechy, more yelling/exasperation)
Here's what he needed to know.
Six Y/O: "Is this the kind of gum I like?"
Folks, I kid you not, this child is holding a chewed up piece of gum on the end of a popsicle stick for me to examine...

The Little Viking:
The Little Viking refers to my cleavage as "backpack." I can't figure out how this association has come to be, especially because when I ask him to show me anyone else's backpack, he points behind them. At different times as I am schlepping him from one place to another, he requires that I carry a Matchbox car or a handful of Goldfish crackers in my bra... Kinda cute - no big deal. Until recently...
The other day it was hotter than a fuck and I made last minute plans to go over to a friend's to swim. I knew I had a small window of time before the Little Viking reached the screeching hour and could hear him winding up in the kitchen as I ran around the house collecting towels, suits, swimmy diapers etc. The Six Year-Old is a real gem. Drives me nuts for sure, but has a heart of gold. When I re-entered the kitchen, arms laden with pool paraphernalia I saw that he'd given his little brother a piece of cheese to snack on. A phone call and a 10 minute search for keys later, and I had them both in the car and we were on our way.
Within seconds I was aware of a hot car and vomit odor... Now, anyone who has seen the inside of my car would assume the offending odor was coming from an old sippy cup filled with chunky milk, or a few travel mugs sporting moldy coffee shrubberies beneath the lids. Hell, that's what I figured it was. However....
I may already be too late in saying "long story, short..." but as I stripped off my shirt to change into my suit, the source of the car vomit smell (which I only then registered had not stayed in the car) hit my foot. A 2"x 2" inch slab of good old, Kraft American cheese... Apparently he'd swapped out the cheese for the binky he'd put in there sometime earlier. I can't wait for winter and turtlenecks.

I turned 34 this year and am desperately trying to embrace my lines and wrinkles and get motivated to take better care of myself. I give way more money than I should to the people at Olay and Garnier. I wear a giant floppy (and very cute) sun hat and Jackie O. sunglasses to keep the crows feet and sun damage at bay, but I can't escape the lines on my forehead that are exercised daily as a result of my WTF face. I pray for a little bit of grace and am reminded of these lyrics written by the incomparable, Amy and Emily: "with every lesson learned, a line upon your beautiful face. We'll amuse ourselves one day - these memories we'll trace..."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Buckle up, folks this is a looooong one....

I am sitting here staring at a stark white rectangle where I really want some witty, snarky, super funny words to be but my hips hurt and I am distracted by trying to keep my ass out of the refrigerator where I know there is left over cake... So of course, the longer I sit here, the louder my inner A.D.D. eight year old gets as she announces other things I could be doing right now, "Hey! remember you wanted to clip the guinea pigs' claws? Weren't you going to clean out your school bag? Oh yeah! And what about the laundry? You could put that away... Awwww.... I remember this picture. You should really get it into the Viking's scrapbook."

Well, look... I've been a procrastinator way longer than I have been acknowledging my inner A.D.D. kid, sooooo... the laundry is still hastily piled up next to the guinea pig cage where I can hear the little fuckers "clicking" as they walk up their little plastic barn. I stubbed my toe on the still full school bag as I went to grab some scrapbook paper to put together a page for The Viking's book. Fuck it... cake is inevitable. I'll be right back.

Please excuse this interuption for the following Public Service Announcement: Never believe a chubby, angry gal who tells you to get rid of the cake so she doesn't have to see it the next time she passes the kitchen. File this away with the "Of course your butt doesn't look too fat in those pants." default setting.

So while I was avoiding motherly and domestic responsibilities, I remembered a piece of writing I started right after my oldest was born. I finished it when he was 19 months old. Next month, on the second, the Viking will be 19 months old. I'll try to attach the piece below this paragragh. As you read it, envision what I came upon this morning: The Viking standing on a chair at the kitchen table drumming on a tin box with a wide open pair of shears (not just ANY kind of scissors...) and a steak knife. From the room I was half-ignoring him from it sounded just like his metal Matchbox cars crashing into the rattly thing at the bottom of the fridge. Hmmm... the Mother of the Year Award is an elusive little sucker... I don't think I've ever been a contender. So have I evolved into a less neurotic mother or has there been a serious downward spiral, here? You tell me...

Afraid of the Dark
12 Days and Counting…

I haven’t been afraid of the dark since I was seven years old… until now. The daylight hours slip by steadily and by four o’clock I can feel the night breathing pure fear, moist and cold down the back of my neck. I dread the hours ahead of me. In the darkness, fear keeps me vigilant. Sleeping by way of putting my head to pillow and closing my eyes is impossible, and so for many hours, I simply lie awake holding my breath and waiting, as the weight of the blackness presses on my chest. The late night hours are ticked off slowly as I drift off and then am startled awake again and again, ever aware of it’s presence, and a servant to it‘s every need. Exhaustion is a strong and blessed adversary and I am forced to give in around four-thirty or so. Each morning is the same. I wake up, feeling insane and reconciled to the fact that the cycle has begun all over again; the sands slipping through the glass at lightning speed, hurtling me ever forward toward another white-knuckle night. The reason for my nights of eternity is never more than a few feet from me at any given moment, but it is in the seemingly endless nights that his presence truly tortures me. I hear every breath. I hear every absence of breath for that matter. Every shift, every twitch, each utterance is registered in my spine and makes it’s way as a shiver to the base of my skull.

There is no monster in my closet, no stalker fogging up my bedroom window. There is not even a semi-ferocious dog snarling at the foot of my bed. No, this is like no terror I have ever experienced. I gave birth 12 days ago. I have an 8 lb. 13 oz., burrito of need, and my only qualification for the job of “mother” is that I finally managed to expel this poor creature from my body after fifty-five hours of labor. My husband, God love him, was far less qualified for his new position in our family. Somehow attending some birthing classes and cutting the umbilical cord had earned him the title of “father.”

Three days after our son’s arrival we finally appreciated the full scope of our new job, and we were terrified. We had been home for approximately three hours when I found myself asking my husband if he thought the nurses at the hospital would let us live there if we went back right away. I was near panic and half serious. The hospital represented safety and the last bastion of comfort I would feel for almost two whole weeks - after all, at the hospital someone was always awake, always available to take the baby while I slept, they were ever capable of resuscitation should the need arise, as I was sure that it would. It seemed inevitable that my baby would cease to breathe the very moment that I took my eyes off of him, which I did not do for the first 1 ½ days that he lived at home. My eyes were in shock. Not only had I nearly pushed them out of their sockets during delivery, but the combination of constant crying and the fact that they had not closed in over 24 hours was causing them to spasm and sting.

Sure, it’s funny now…

Our tiny baby seemed so fragile, and in those first two weeks, I was positive that there was some sort of finite formula involved in keeping him alive. We nursed, changed his diaper (got peed on), changed the romper he had peed on, carefully applied Vaseline to his circumcision, and carefully applied alcohol to his umbilical stump. (This process was finished just in time to nurse again) I was so tired that I often forgot to eat and take my pain medications on time and I sometimes forgot to alcohol the stump and Vaseline the penis. I was certain that infection was imminent… My only consolation was that I never Vaselined the stump and alcoholed the penis.

One of our first nights went something like this:

9:30 pm: Nursed and asleep, we place him in his crib and I wonder: “Are his pajamas too big… could he wriggle them up around his airway in the middle of the night?”

9:35 pm: Smaller PJ’s on, baby is sound asleep. Yeah!

9:40 pm: I settle on the couch and look over the log where we track his feedings, diapers etc.. and I realize that I forgot to record his last 3 feedings and I forgot to alcohol the belly button. So much for the “Mother of the Year” award. I start to obsess: Is he eating as much as he should ? Am I producing enough milk? How do I know how much he’s getting when he nurses? I remember reading that dehydration in infants is marked by lethargy. He sleeps 20 hours a day… what exactly does a lethargic infant look like?

10:00 pm: Baby is awake and wailing. The diaper gives us no clues - he’s dry. Is he crying because he’s hungry or tired? Is it gas? What do we do if it’s gas? Is this colic? Is this what colicky babies do? Oh, God I bet he’s sick.

This is the point where I break down for the first time… Exhausted and getting surlier by the minute I curse the fact that breast feeding is a task which excludes my husband and I bark at him to pick up his dirty laundry (I’ll be damned if I’m going to be the only one awake right now.)

11:00 pm.: fed (again), changed and asleep, I place my baby back into the crib.

11:03 pm.: I change my shirt - I’ve been peed on and my right breast leaked all over when I was nursing him on the left. Super!

11:05 pm.: I climb into bed and stare at the ceiling tensely waiting for the next cry and straining to hear the moment that he’ll forget to breathe. I muse: “I’m going to have worry about him for the rest of my life… my God, this job never ends…”

Between 11:05 and 3:15am: I toss and turn, weep and sniffle worrying about SIDS, ear infections, infected belly button, bullies, drugs, perverts, broken bones, getting lost at the beach, driving, drinking, staying out late… Clearly, I am insane.

4:00 am: baby is awake and wants to be fed - I am awake and I want to stab my snoring husband.

4:30 am: baby is asleep, I am so tired I feel like vomiting. Thinking of my stitches makes me pray desperately that I don’t.

4:30 - 6:30: Who am I kidding… I blacked out. This state of semi - consciousness which I managed to sustain for a couple of hours cannot possibly be referred to as “sleep.” A voice in the black of my head whispers that formula-fed babies sleep longer than breast-fed babies and I make a mental note to get to the grocery store for some formula.

Three days later I gave up on breast-feeding and delighted in turning over the midnight feeding routine to my husband. My son is now 19 months old and gratefully, has survived his crazy mother - so far. We all sleep through the night now and have done so for a long time. Granted, we have disassembled the crib and purchased a king-sized bed. The once-upon-a-time burrito of need is now a “do-it-myself” kind of guy except when it comes to sleeping alone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Anyone who knows me should have some understanding that I love language. (If you know me and this has never crossed your mind, be gone. You're clearly not paying attention.) I love words that are BIG and fun to say, like flabbergasted, debauchery, and cantankerous. I have been known to use a fascinating word incorrectly because I couldn't wait for an appropriate opportunity to come up. I love made up words and Seuss-ish rhymes and... I really, really love swear words. I adore an accent of any kind and will pick it up instantaneously. The summer that I read Bridget Jones' Diary, I was thinking with a British accent for three weeks. In high school my senior English teacher read parts of Dante's Inferno to us in Italian... my underwear stuck to me when I left third period that day. Hearing someone stumble lamely through a reading of Green Eggs and Ham and seeing text-ese ("r u ready 2 go yet?") in places it has no business being, like a note to your child's teacher, makes little pieces of my soul die. You're getting the picture, no?

Another day I will expound on all things linguistic and literary that make me purr, but today I was thinking about language in terms of how we choose to use our words. As a school professional, choosing language, especially when interacting with parents is crucial. Political correctness impacts our language choices, as does a healthy understanding that you must cover your ass at all times.

Children have the blessed privilege of being new at language and therefore don't have to censor or second guess their thoughts. What's rolling around in those little noggins is exactly what comes out of their tiny pie holes. In an utterance of as little as 3-4 words you know exactly what a child's perspective is and where they are developmentally. And now here's the anecdote that inspired all this blather today.

My husband fell asleep with the Viking earlier today and while napping, the Viking's Crocs slipped off his feet. When he woke up, one of them got a ride around the living room in the dump truck and the other stayed on the couch with the still sleeping dad. Later, we were about to leave the house to visit friends and I asked the six year-old to find the other Croc, as I has already recovered the one from the dump truck. I told him it was somewhere on the couch with Dad and it may still be on his lap. Side note: the six year old typically looks for things like any creature with a penis: by keeping one eye on the television and scanning a large, general area with the other eye, while simultaneously yelling to the closest female that he can't find it.
Knowing this, I clarify that it may be underneath Dad and he can just ask Dad to move a bit so he can find it.
The conversation that I might have heard would go something like this:
 "Dad, can you lift up a bit I gotta find J's shoe."
"Oh, here it is. It was under him."
But...... here's the monologue I actually heard (word for word, seriously.)
"Dad. (pause to look at the T.V.) Dad! Can you open your butt?"
Repeats this, as Dad does not hear or perhaps is pretending to sleep extra soundly because he has no idea how to respond to this request...
Dad finally shifts a bit and sure enough the shoe was right underneath him somewhere near his crotch.
"I got it! His penis was on it..."
PLEASE UNDERSTAND my husband was entirely clothed during this search!!

While today I appreciate and giggle about the frank and literal thinking that resulted in that ridiculous scene, I am still cringing from the day in the grocery store two years ago when he heard someone say something about her mother's angina and announced to the customers in our line and the next that his "mom has a ba-gina."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Your Ass is Never Too Little for Karma to Kick...

I was a preschool teacher before I was a parent and I'm grateful for that experience because it afforded me the calm to deal with situations that I've seen other moms gasp over. Those ugly little instances when somebody gets feisty and grabs a toy, or snatches a binky, or follows your child around just so he can get in a good position to whale on him from behind... all can be a bit alarming for a first time mom or someone with limited exposure to young children. I know this stuff happens and that reacting with some grace and a sense of humor can make all the difference. I'm gearing up for all kinds of these interactions as my littlest begins to navigate more and more of the world. He is stubborn and has his listening ears set to "5th Time She Says It."

Recently "the Little Viking" has been trying out some "smack and run" techniques on his older brother. The six year old has never had anyone in his life who hurts him just to find out what he'll do and is reduced to a whiney tattle tale (basically he becomes a 4 year old girl...) each time this happens. We tell the Viking "No!" and sit him down. He gets up and yells "OOOOHHH! RAAAAAHHH!" His next move is wicked slick - he grabs a ball or a pillow and wings directly in his brother's face and just as it hits, says "Catch!" Abuse disguised as play. His only mistake is that he's predictable and doesn't know it yet. So now when I say, "Do NOT throw a ball at your brother! Play nice." He looks at me bewildered that I could have read his mind, and cocks his arm back anyways... I am on the verge of teaching the six year old how to pinch or push him.

The Universe is always righting wrongs, my friends and every now and again we get to appreciate a little Karma. I visited a friend who runs a home day care this week and one of her "charges" is a beefy little corker with curly hair and dimples. He immediately took an interest in the Viking. He got a little too close right off the bat and got a stiff arm, which usually is all the six year old needs to understand "back off."  Well........ The Little Viking learned this week that some kids hit you back. Some kids then follow you around the yard in an attempt to separate you from your mom and your binky. Some kids will take everything you want to play with.
I gave the chubby little enforcer about three minutes to educate my baby before hip checking him "by accident" when I bent down to pick up my keys. Yes indeed... your ass is never too little to be bitten by your own actions.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

FIRST blog and this feels like a terrifying commitment

I'm not sure the world needs to hear from another mommy... But here I am - just another asshat who feels sure she has something to say and I am tentatively going to go right ahead and say it. I haven't read many blogs, with the exception of Jen Lancaster's.
I don't really know what shape this will take, if any at all, but I know what it won't be.
I don't want to yammer on about how exceptional my kids are, and I don't want to tell you how I sneak vegetables into their mac-n-cheese. (Christ, if I get my six year old to lick a vegetable once a week I feel like Super Mom.)
You won't get crock pot recipes here or tips on the best baking temperature for brownies. (I always eat the batter 'til I feel like barfing and then toss the rest so I don't have to remember that I just did that.)
I am not confrontational but I won't post anything I can't or won't defend. What's lovely about this set up is that of the 4 people who will wind up reading this, those that find it not to their liking can move on.
That being said...
I will cop to not even liking my children sometimes... lots of times.
I will use this place to be sarcastic and to say the shit that really goes through my head when I smile my "this is me tolerating you" smile.
I am about to spend the entire summer with my children. I teach and my classroom just closed. Normally, my shift is 7 - 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 - 9:00 p.m. And seriously? That already feels like alot. I'm not sure we're gonna make it. I have been home with the 18 month old, who for purposes of anonymity will be refered to as "Leif" as in Ericson, not Garret (the only Viking name I can think of at the moment) for two weeks. He is testosterone in a diaper... grunting, growling, and literally stomping around yelling "YAAARRR!" this child wears me out.
The six year old has 8 more school days..... which means not much more than there are only 8 more days during which my husband (home during the day b/c he works nights) and I can have "naptime nookie." The little viking still takes a nap and at least until the six year old is home for the summer, the house is ours from 11-1 every day!
Wish us luck...