Monday, December 5, 2011

My Precioussssssssssssssssssss

It is a well known fact that I hate Winter.  Everything about it, really.  And I kind of resent all those people who say with stars in their eyes, "Oh, I just LOVE winter!"  I'll bet they're the same type of people who say, "I LOVED being pregnant," or, "I just LOVE newborns."  Both of those things, I could appreciate, but they scared the snowflakes out of me.

Do you know how many horror stories I read/movies I watched regarding pregnancies before getting pregnant?  Rose Mary's Baby was a real downer.  I just woke up every morning thankful that I didn't live in an apartment building in New York, because that would have put my already over-active imagination into maximum over-drive.

And newborns.  I still have PTSD when I hear a newborn goat-cry at King Soopers.  Makes me put both hands up to my chest to see if I need to nurse one side to even the ladies out.  Winter is much the same way.  Yes, I know it makes little sense, but I associate the same scary feelings that I had with pregnancy/newborns with Winter.  Proabably because Bella (our first) was born on November 4th.  I don't really remember anything until Valentine's Day.  That February 14th it rained, while I was out for a walk with Bella in the stroller.  It felt and looked like Spring and I literally fell to a park bench sobbed with relief.

Over the weekend I got a hefty dose of Winter.  Friday night we went to the Old Golden Christmas where we participated in a candlelight walk in 18 degrees.  In my perfect world, it could still snow when it's 50 degrees.  18 was sick.  I, of course, lost my gloves somewhere on the main street of Golden (probably in front of the Ace Tavern). Hurt cold. The kind of cold where we all had to put on our big-girl pants (aside from Aaron) and just decide to do it.  Gabby's fur-lined coat almost caught on fire multiple times, as did the highly flammable Strawberry Shortcake scarf circa 1979 that was mine as a child.

But we survived.   We stayed the night in downtown Golden for kicks, had breakfast and then came home to make a snow cave out back with the girls.  I ended the day in the basement on my bike trainer bitterly pounding out a raging cadence on my bike as if I could ride my way to Arizona or Spring--I'm not picky.

But if I thought this was bad, I was in for a treat because Sunday proved to be much, much worse.  This year in an effort to force the love of Winter into me, we've gotten a family pass to Eldora.  We had planned on skiing on Sunday.  Why not?  I mean why-hi-hi-hi not?  We have a PASS!  I still don't think I properly recovered from Friday night.  I woke up like a petulant toddler when I looked outside and knew it was cold.  Just knew it.  This was confirmed when I saw the temperature.  It was 9 degrees.  9 DEGREES.  And what made me even more bratty was when I realized in bed that I had used the last of my half-n-half in my Friday coffee and had forgotten to get more.

This wouldn't be a big deal for the average person.  But as I've gotten older, I've definitely become ingrained in my precious (said in a Gollem voice) routines.

Gollem's Precious

I LOVE to read the paper and drink coffee with the perfect amount of half-n-half and sugar.  My newspaper subscription ran out again over Thanksgiving, now I was out of half-n-half (which renders my coffee useless and gross) and it was 9 degrees and we were going skiing.  FOUL.  FOUL.  FOULEST of crank.  I should be a grown-up and either be able to adapt, or just NOT LET MY SUBSCRIPTION and supply of half-n-half run out.  I did neither and now my family was going to pay. 

The car ride up was one word answers from me when Aaron would try to engage.  We stepped outside and I was shocked.  SHOCKED with how cold it really was.

The day went down from there.  At our picnic lunch in the lodge, I kept looking at the price board tracing with my eyes how much coffee would be.  Fantasizing.  I almost cried at the thought of going back out.  Walking back from the lodge to the lift, it was now 5 degrees, and I couldn't get my scarf up over my face with my gloves, ski lanyard, helmet, holding my board and Gabby's skis.  What happened next was straight out of a Clark W. Griswold's how to book.

I dropped my snowboard and yelled through the wind and snow to Aaron (who had now lost patience with my sour grapes attitude), "JUST KEEP GOING!  I need to fix my SCARF!"

"NO!  We'll wait."

Uh-oh. In an effort to "ski together as a family,"  Aaron will often try to "wait" on me.  Honestly, this just made me angrier.  I'm sure he wished he hadn't. 

I dropped Gabby's skis and started playing with my scarf.  I couldn't get it wrapped around my face.  So my first instinct was to take my gloves off.  This lasted 4 seconds.  I yelped with pain, put them back on, got the velcro stuck on the scarf, started fighting with the scarf like I fought with my older sister in middle school.  Slapping the air and punching half-heartedly, further tangling myself.  I was muttering and I think I even kicked and stomped a touch.  Not my finest hour. 

Aaron just shook his head and started plodding on with the girls following miserably behind. This was their mother.

Two feeble runs later, we were on our way home.  Aaron was not talking to me. 

Later, after I'd given it considerable thought, I approached him, still wearing a coat, two pairs of socks, a hat and a scarf inside our house.

"I'm sorry.  I didn't bring my A-game today."
"That's one way of putting it."
"It was really cold. You know I hate the cold."
"You made that clear."
"I also didn't really have any coffee this morning and didn't have the paper to read on the way up."
"I made coffee, there was plenty."
"Well, yeah.  But...there was no half-n-half."
He hollered up the stairs, "Girls!  Mama is going to the store right now to get half-n-half, or 'her precious'.  Anyone want to go?"
"NO THANKS!" (they both called in unison).
Looking back at me he said, "Order that paper tomorrow.  Are you going to wear that coat all night?"
"Maybe.  I'm still cold.  Sorry."
"It's okay."

So I went to the store last night, ordered the paper this morning and was hustling around doing the laundry this morning with a spark in my eye, and a whistle in my heart.  Suddenly I got a Gollem-like feeling that someone was messing with my precious.

Aaron is working from home today.  "Surely not," I thought.  "He wouldn't".  I was on the stairs with the laundry basket.I yelled down to Aaron who was in the kitchen, "Hey!  I am still planning on drinking more coffee, so don't throw it out."

Often times I won't get to my coffee until at least 10 when I've really earned it.  I was so so looking forward to it this morning--the self control that it took to not pour it into a trough and snorkel in it was epic.

"Uhhhhh.  You're kidding right.  Didn't you have some?  There's no more.  In fact, honey.  I really had to force that last cup down just because I didn't want it to go to waste."  12 cups.  GONE.

I dropped to the ground with the laundry basket spilling all over and screamed, "NOOOOOOOO!!  MY PRECIOUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!  Baby, WHY?!?!?!?  WHY??!?!?!?!?"

"Sorry," as he came back up the stairs and stepped over me delicately.  "But you can make more later.  At least you got your half-n-half and paper, right?"

Better stake your claim ladies.  Or at least make enough on weekends and days the hubby works from home.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Witch Barbie Got Scalped

Bella has recently turned 9, but it seems as if she's stuck on fast-forward and is now a ripe and rowdy 13 year old.  Sassy with a capital Frassy. The sassier and surlier she becomes, the more coffee I tend to drink.

This morning I easily consumed at least 6 cups of coffee.  Real cups.  Delicious cups.  I realize now, that perhaps it was over-kill.  In addition to making me feel very productive, it also apparently sharpened my senses and my tongue.  So while I was putting away some skiing stuff, Thanksgiving sleep-over items and some remaining Halloween straggler items, Bella came up and asked me to put her Barbie's hair in a "nice, tight twisty bun, because she is a teacher."  I took one look at said Barbie, narrowed my eyes and said, "Oh, my.  Did you cut her hair?  Of course you did. SHE LOOKS HORRIBLE."

Now, I was stating the truth.  She truly did.  I'm pretty sure she was a Halloween Witch Barbie with an orange and black streak that now was missing--starting at the scalp.  As was a large chunk of her hair on the underside of her head.  And many, many layers were gone in... all sorts of areas.  I couldn't care less about the cutting. I kind of hate Barbies.   But I DID care about how the conversation progressed.

"....No.  No I didn't cut it."
"Well, doggone, honey.  Of course you did.  It's obvious."
"...I don't know who did that and she DOESN'T LOOK HORRIBLE."
"Um...I beg to differ.  I DO know who did and she really does look horrible.  I mean if I took a chunk of my hair from here (and I grabbed a chunk) and here (and I grabbed another) and I whacked it off, I would look horrible too."

It was at this moment that Bella's upper lip began to tremble.  She grabbed the Barbie from me and said very stiffly:
"Okay.  Thank you for your help. I'd like to go now.  I didn't do it and she DOESN'T look horrible."

Then she retreated to the sanctuary of her room, closed the door and began to sob quietly.  So I waited for about 10 minutes and went in to apologize for hurting her feelings.  She still denied that she did it in a way I HATE which is to say, "I don't remember IF I did it.  It's been like this for MONTHS!  I have a SISTER, you know.  She may have done it."

"Hmmm.  Yes, you do have a sister, but no, she didn't do it. We both know this.  I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings, but honestly, I've cut enough doll hair in my life to know a thing or two about this.  It NEVER works out.  Never.  It will NEVER look as good as you think it will when you get the idea to cut it.  And just so you know, this also applies to cutting your own hair, which I also have done and REGRETTED many times in my life."

She was lucky I didn't go into telling her how supportive undergarments will also be an immense let-down and a regret should she ever decide to buy and wear them at any point in her life.  And that prom will suck.  Why must I ruin?  Why must I lecture a teachable moment away?  Why must I take these minimal consequence learning opportunities out of my child's child-hood.

Plus, I still use a hot-glue gun to repair holes in my jeans, so I really can't judge, now can I?

The lying makes me grumpy, but then again, it's the end of November.  The upcoming holiday frenzy makes me grumpy.  The sudden lack of daylight makes me grumpy--it's all gray outside and...coldish...and gross.  Which is why I tend to over-caffeinate.

Besides.  The overt ugliness of the Barbie's hair will most likely teach her more than my lecturing.  Natural consequences only work when you don't lecture them down the drain.  The lying will most likely take care of itself through natural consequences as well.  Like the missing hair from ugly, scalped Witch Barbie, a lie can never be hidden.  She'll learn that too. 

Tomorrow, perhaps I'll lay off the coffee a touch.  Or at least not try to match her, cup for sass.  That's a contest that no one can win. Plus, maybe it's best that I don't have "Spidee senses".  In fact, I'm pretty sure that sometimes as a mom, it's best to just go glassy-eyed and not worry about the details.  Witch Barbie wasn't "all that" to begin with.  In fact, she was sort of trashy.  Now she just looks like the really popular girl from "Sixteen Candles" after they cut her hair out of the door.  Talk about natural consequences.  No one lectured that girl, they just watched her stumble down the steps. 

Less lecturing, more stumbling, and maybe decaf--my mantra for tomorrow.

Send a friend a postcard to show you still care and you need to get together for coffee to discuss your dysfunctional children. 

Cranky Mommy's Decaf Postcard

  Decaf style.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dreaded Timed Math Test Mansion

Once upon a time before I was a cranky mama, I was a happy, well-adjusted, patient 4th grade teacher.  I adored this job.  Loved the kids, read-alouds, recess, science units, all of it.  Well, mostly all of it.  All of it but the homework.  Such a waste of God-given time; creating, assigning and grading.  I mean really.  Teachers hate it, parents hate it and kids hate it.  It was only a matter of time before that trifecta hit our house full-force.  Now I'm a former teacher who hates it, a parent who hates it with kids who hate it. 

I would never spread this crank rhetoric to my kids aloud. That would be foolish.  So I complain to my husband instead.  And at this point I have little to complain about.  Kindergarten was rough, but the amount of homework has actually subsided now that our girls are 2nd and 3rd graders.  So now it's not necessarily the homework amount, but the nightly practice of the dreaded timed math tests.  Or DTMT's, as I will now refer to them.   If this were a movie, it would open like this:

"Timed Math-test Mansion"
(you'll never get out alive)

*Ominous thunder and lightning open around a haunted dilapidated mansion.  Shot pans into two filthy, emaciated little girls in a dungeon, pounding out their math facts on a dirt floor with sticks.  In the background screams and moans are floating down the hallway of "the kids who didn't pass".  

Bella: "Mama.  What is 14-6? Mama?!  I know you know.  Why is this so HARD?"
Gabby: "Shhhh.  I need to CONCENTRATE!"
Bella: "It would be great if this was done and I could read.  Just read, read, read, readreadread...or do cursive."
Gabby: "BELLA!  SHHHHHHHHHH!  I can't do this with you TALKING and talking and TALKING!"

*more thunder and lightning and sounds of rats scurrying.

Suddenly you hear a faint raspy female voice from the cell next to the girls:

Mama: "Girls.  Just think about it like two sets of apples.  There are 14.  Seven in each pile and then you take one from one pile and give it to another and ....mmmm.  Apples. Wait.  What was I saying?  Just finish the sheet of problems so we can leave this EVIL PLACE!"

Aaron has a very different take on math.  Being an engineer, he would.  I was a theater major.  Yes.  A theater major.  I took a self-paced set of math classes at CU thinking it would be easier.  It wasn't.  I took several of them over.  Yes.  I failed self-paced math. 

Aaron: "Well, I don't understand the stigma behind math.  It's the one subject where there is a right and wrong.  It's not like you don't know what's on the test.  Or the answer.  You study. Mystery solved."


So last night we went to watch and cheer for Aaron at a bike race.  Being a school night, we took our homework.  This consists of a tote bag with the following:
  • snacks
  • water
  • coffee for me (5 o'clock, shmive o' clock)
  • a clear plastic pocket that holds the DTMT's (100 problems)
  • two dry erase markers
  • an old sock to erase between practices
  • reading folders
  • books
  • pencils
  • scissors
  • glue
  • and a razor blade to slit my wrists when things go bad on the homework front
Well at about lap one, things did in fact go badly.  The dust from the course set off Bella's allergies into a full-blown sneezing fit.  Which she and I found hilarious.  Gabby, who was working on the DTMT's, did NOT find this funny.  She scowled as she fired off, "Bella!  STOP SNEEZING!  I'm trying to do my MATH!"
"Well, I can't (sneeze) help it (sneeze)!"

Next, Aaron "rolled a wheel".  Which means his tire came off his wheel and he crashed.  He was also none too pleased and now his facial expression matched Gabby's.  Things went from bad to worse and soon Gabby was laying down on the blanket in the fetal position.  I was just reaching for the razor blade to slice and dice the math sheet (Not my wrists!  Studies show that women just don't do that outside the bathtub because they view it as too messy.), when the race finally ended and we called it quits.

Later, as I was putting Gabby to bed, the tears flowed and it turned out she had a really bad day.  It was kind of like the scene in Goonies where Chunk is confessing to the Fratellis all the bad stuff he's done and crying and sobbing.  

Only she hadn't done anything, she was just really sad that the DTMT's had been moved up two days early due to field day and she had done really badly (in her eyes).  And she had to sit by the mean kids.

How do we get out of this horrid Mansion?  It's truly an old black-and-white episode of the Twilight Zone.  I envision Rod Serling just sitting on our steps narrating the whole damn mess night after night.  

Aaron has sort of taken over on this.  I think he's worried that I've passed on my crappy math skills to the girls in vitro.  Which may be the case.   Either way.  From now on, I'm keeping a pot on hand night after night until we move onto the next, sub-floor of the mansion...Multiplication.

*cue thunder and lightning as Rod Serling narrates the questions below:

Do you need a magnet to hold up last week's failure of a test, thereby rocking your child's self-esteem?

Or perhaps something to carry it all when your homework isn't at home?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Step 5. Just put yourselves to bed....we're landscaping.

As many of you know we've been toiling in our landscape hell for about a month now.  I think it's my penance for rushing that old lady at King Soopers last Spring.  This has been years in the planning, but usually we'd look out back while holding cups of coffee and say something like, 

"We really need to do something about the yard."
"Yeah.  It's horrid."
"It's beyond horrid."
"But if we start it..."
"...then we'll have to finish it.  And we could..."
"ride our bikes instead and then go..."
"swimming with the girls.  Or hiking. Then I guess we could do..."
"anything.  I'd even play Candy Land for 5 hours straight instead of work on that."
"I'd rather take a shovel and hit myself on my bare pinky toe multiple times instead of work on that."
"Oh yeah?  Well I'D ______________________", (fill in the blank with anything else heinous that you would rather do than landscape).

And that would pretty much be it.  But 3 years at our house and we started to feel really silly. And I began to feel that deep down "farm-girl guilt" surface.  My farm-girl guilt is worse, (I've been told) than Catholic guilt.  Good thing I was raised Christian, otherwise it would be an unbearable combo. I get a pang of this all throughout my easy suburban day.  You have neighbors within walking distance?  You should feel guilty about that and bake them things simply because you can.  You have a museum and zoo that you can take your kids to?  You'd better go 3 x a week and fully maximize the educational possibilities when they are ages 1-5 and then once a week during the summers after that.  You don't have to feed 100 plus baby calves before 7 a.m.?  You'd better get up and CREATE chores.  Any chore will do.   You have a bike that didn't get ran over by the feed-truck twice?  Well, you'd best get up at 4:30 a.m. to ride it.  The list goes on and on.  I like to think I'm passing a healthy dose of this guilt down to our first generation suburb girls, but it never seems enough.  Making the bed seems to pale in comparison to oh, say, bailing a field of hay all night in tag-team shifts.  

So I'm definitely THAT mom.  

The one who says utterly annoying things like, "DO YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE?  Do you know what WE did as kids?  Do you know what GRANDPA did when he was a kid?"  Even everyday tasks; like going to Target and passing the shoe aisle is a trap.  One of the girls voiced that she liked those sparkly shoes and it prompted the tirade:

"Guess how many shoes Grandpa had as a kid.  Guess!"
"Um, five?", one of the girls asked timidly.
And I shouted gleefully, "No!  TWO!  TWO PAIRS of shoes One for church and funerals and one for work and school!  We don't need any more shoooooooooooooooooooooooeeeeesssss!"

So. The farm-girl guilt was surfacing like a raging river over our nasty, useless backyard.  It finally broke sometime around May.  And now it's hit our house in the following steps.

1. Sprinkler system (a cruel joke of a phrase).
2.  A lot of dirt to level our fun-house tilted yard.
3. 13 tons of rock.
4.  7 tons of pea-gravel.

We are currently half-way through step 4.  One day into step 3, Aaron suggested we rent a bucket loader of some-sort which would load and haul the rock for us.   Farm-girl Katie nearly flipped her John-Deered capped lid.  

"WHAT?!?!?!?  WHY?"
 "Oh, I don't know.  Because I like my back and want to keep it in TACT."
"It builds character!!!!
 "Do you NEED your character to be built?  Besides.  Your dad used a tractor."
 "Yeah, but...but we still had to lift a bunch of things...that got hot in the summer and...they were heavy."
 "I'm telling your Dad that you're against agricultural technology."
 "But...but...sometimes it's good to do things the old fashioned way!  I mean, won't it be nice for the girls to SEE us doing this and when we're done, we'll know that WE did it OURSELVES?"
 "Well, I think I'm the one doing most of the 'old-fashionedness', so anytime you want to grab a shovel, go right ahead."

Ouch.  But he was right.  The first night I was overwhelmed and pretty much just busied myself planting things.  But this was just the right insult to motivate my inner Rose (my mom's name--the ULTIMATE FARM WOMAN).  By day 5 I was hauling like nobody's business.  I was even RUNNING the wheelbarrow to and fro.  Granted, this was because I had mistakenly told Aaron to have the NEXT order delivered by 2 p.m. that day and it was 1:45 and I still had 8 more wheelbarrow loads to haul, but that's beside the point. 

My triceps and character are more than built.  Aaron has declared that unless things drastically change, or "we are homeless and living on the railroad, I am never, ever going shovel any more 1 and 1/2 inch river rock"  Amen, my honey. 

But I have to say.   I think it's been a good lesson for the girls. They've seen and done some serious WORK.  FAMILY TEAM WORK.  They've seen me nearly tip a full wheelbarrow over and Aaron dart across the yard to save it.  They've witnessed us getting bruised, battered and sweaty and come out victorious.  Once Bella even marveled, "I can't believe that some day I will be as strong as you, Mama," which was just so, so nice (especially since I was making odd grunting noises mixed with whimpers to get the wheelbarrow over the ramp).  And BONUS!!!  I've gotten really good at making smoothies and iced coffee at about 2 p.m. when we all want to just lay and lap up the garden hose. 

And Aaron, at 10 p.m. the other night, when we had JUST quit, and we were trying to get the girls to bed said,  "You know.  I have a deeper understanding of your childhood.  And your parents. I mean there's work to be done.  And we are going to do it.  It's not always butterflies and UNO." 

Which was promptly interrupted by the girls shouting in unison down the steps, "DADDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  We're ready to REEEEEEE-AAAAAAAD!!!" followed by giggles and something being thrown down the steps.  

"COMING!"  Aaron put his open pitcher of water down that he'd been guzzling over the sink, turned and started toward the steps and added,"But I'll bet they were sure happy when you guys were old enough to put yourselves to bed".   

The next afternoon, it started alllllll over again.  The sounds of rock against shovel.  When the mailman drove by and asked, "Are you crazy?  It's 100 plus degrees!  I took my sweaty cap off and shooed him with it, while maniacally shouting back, "Yes!  I AM crazy! Why don't you just do your job?!?!?!??   And quit bringing us pool maintenance catalogs!   Ha-Ha-HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" We were ready though.  I had taken the leftover coffee from the day before and already frozen it as ice-cubes for just that purpose. So crazy.  Yet, so smart.

Oh, and let me tell you what I'm working on for tonight:

Step 5. Teach kids to put themselves to bed. 

 Do you need a hat that will keep the crazy mama sweat out of your face for YOUR next farm-girl guilt inspired project?  

Thursday, May 12, 2011

They aren't your TRUE friends.

Over the Spring season of my job...that is my second job as Bicycle Safety Educator, and not my first (Mommy to three kids, Gabby, Bella and Aaron), I've developed a love-hate relationship with my coffee-maker.  Even though it's not as pretty as our old one, it got too creepy to think of it as a man.  Men just don't anticipate female needs as well, and when I would shower it with praise, it felt a little like cheating on Aaron.  So I named her "Chloe" and that was that.

Chloe has gotten me through some rough times.  I programmed her to start chugging early on those cold and snowy bike rodeo days.  And she'd always be there to have a little somethin' somethin' at the end of the day that I could pour over some ice in a tumbler and pretend I was a character from Mad Men.  My impressions of the characters are particularly funny since I've never seen the show.

But there have been days that Chloe has let me down.  Days I SWORE I programmed her and she deliberately DEprogrammed herself just to spite me for not cleaning her in three months or something equally as trivial.  Days that she begrudgingly participated in our symbiotic relationship (her supplying me with what is undoubtedly my equivalent to Meth. and me showering her with praise in furtive whispers, early in the morn so as not to wake our girls), only to curse me later in my car.

You see, Chloe is not the only passive aggressive friend in our house.  We have another spider in our tangled web: "Zoey"--my fickle travel coffee mug that is GUARANTEED NOT TO LEAK.  I am convinced that the two of them plot against me on a nightly basis after I go to bed at 1 in the morning. 

I imagine the conversation going something along these lines:

"Pssst.  ZOEY!"
"WHAT CHLOE?"  I'm drying! (in the counter-top dish drainer) What do you need?"
"Just wondering.  Did she clean you tonight...I mean, really take the time to CLEAN you properly?"
"You know the answer to that.   Did she clean you?"
"No.  And I hate the way she punches my buttons and slams my lid because she's in a rush.  No thought whatsoever as to what we might need or want."
"What are you thinking?"
"How about I deprogram myself and you spill all over her work bag the first sharp corner she takes."
"I'm in.  I'll really soak her hat, scarf, coat and gloves since it's supposed to snow tomorrow."
"Sweet.  Goodnight, Zoey.  It's nice having true friends."

And that is that.  I did 5 schools this spring and this happened at least once at every school.

I'm almost done with work.  I have only a few odd days left here and there.  But I realized this morning that over the last few months, in addition to neglecting sleep, laundry, exercise, and at times my family; I've most certainly neglected my friends.  And not the coffee-providing ones.  My true friends.  The ones I miss talking to at the busstop.  The ones who tell me they like my fugly haircut.  The ones who have seen my babies grow.  The ones who listen to me vent.  The ones who laugh at my inappropriate humor.  The ones who's kids I adore and who make me almost cry when I see that they've lost another tooth.  I miss them.  I miss being there for them.  Baking for them.  Cheering them up and cheering them on.

How did I come to this realization?  I spent 3 minutes having an in-depth conversation with Chloe this morning.  Three minutes talking parent strategies to an inanimate object.  It's time to bake some muffins, and get back to my peeps.  Fellow Mommies, let's unite!!  School is almost over, life if busy, projects are due, work is pressing, but take some time today to show your true friends how much you love them.  Put it on the top of  your "to-do" list or your "calendar"...which if it's like mine, its undoubtedly stained with coffee. 

Your own personal "Zoey"

The Cranky Tanky

Be a friend, minus the crank.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Puke Jail and the Family Pop-corn Bowl

As many of you know, I've rejoined the working force.  Well, sort of.  I teach bike safety at area Elementary schools.  This is one job that is exploding with fun on a daily basis.  Unfortunately it is also oft times exploding with germs.  Sometimes I see the culprits, sitting criss-cross applesauce next to me hacking and sneezing or picking and chewing, while my team-mate, Julia teaches up front.  Othertimes, it's more anonymous.  Like I put one of our 15 bikes in the van at the end of the day knowing that at least 200 kids touched the handlebars and I shudder.  I loves the kids, but geez.  Some of us as parents are just not doing our jobs when it comes to personal hygiene.  And this comes from a woman who doesn't shower on a regular basis if it means an additional cup of coffee or two more miles on my bike or forgetting to check Friday folders until Monday morning. 

Being a mom definitely makes you less of a germaphobe in some ways, but more of an overkill one in others.  For instance, I can't stand when kids hack all over themselves and their neighbors, but I still will accept a full body hug from said child if I think it will boost their confidence.  I take that hug and then I bring the infestation home to my own family who are blindsided by the sheer amount of nasties the first two weeks of every work season.  I got it last week and it finally wormed it's way to Bella. 

As far as it went, it was pretty mild.  Bella is at that age where she can mostly make it either into "the bucket" (um, which also coincidentally doubles as the family popcorn bowl) or the bathroom across the hall.  Many years ago, however, we were not so lucky.  I remember hearing a few coughs over the monitor, and the next morning when I went in to wake Bella up, walls were coated.  Literally coated with puke.  I swooped Bella up, ran to the bathtub and put her in the bath while simultaneously throwing up myself since I was then pregnant with Gabby and "morning sickness" took on new meaning that day. 

Now it's old hat.  Like every parent on the second or third night of a bout, we wait at night in a semi-state of sleep for the inevitable sound of coughing, the door being thrown open, the lid of the toilet thrown up and a fire-hose of whatever is left in her emaciated empty-fevered belly.  I do a lot of laundry, use an inordinate amount of bleach wipes and that's about it.  The only real drawback to our girls being sick now is that it puts us all into "puke-jail".  Puke-jail is similar to what young moms refer to as "nap-jail".  Which is when you'd really like to be outside or at the park or at the grocery store or anywhere but IN YOUR HOUSE, but you can't because your child is napping.  And that is precious time.  You don't want to ruin it, but sometimes it limits your social arena.  You find yourself waiting for the garbage trucks or postal carrier just so you can open your door and wave to a grown-up and feel like you got some human connection. 

Puke-jail is the older mom's burden.  Your kids are in the over 6 range and life is definitely a lot easier than it was with babies those first few years.  Loads of self-sufficiency, yet they still love you and think you are the best at Just Dance 2 (don't feel bad...I really am). When puke-jail hits, it hits hard.  Suddenly your travel ban is back in place.  You fear walking to get the mail two doors down because even though your child can MOSTLY make it to the bathroom, it's not a given.  And you haven't forgotten what that can be like. 

So on a gorgeous spring day, 3/4 of our family is stuck in puke jail.  I encouraged Aaron to go for a ride with a friend after surviving a nasty business trip this week.  There is no need for ALL of us to be here.  Recently Bella floated her pale, ghost-like self down the stairs.  It was a pathetic effort, but an effort nonetheless.   She made it to the landing.   I carried her fiery, little twig body over to the coach, re-wet her washcloth, grabbed the popcor...I mean PUKE bowl and turned on Wallace and Grommit.  I brewed myself another pot of coffee and am ready to settle 1:25 p.m. 

"Thanks, Mama."
"You got it, baby."

Puke jail isn't so bad.  In fact, at this age it's kind of nice.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Full Fat Mocha in a Maternity Dress

Sometimes you need to find just the right "power mommy" look for a school function.  Conferences, parent-teacher nights, concerts, etc.  Usually my "power mommy" looks includes, flip-flops, old jeans, may-hap a jacket, a scarf or a fleece hat.  Sometimes I might wear them all at once if the weather cooperates.  Last week, though, I needed to pull out all the stops. 

Thursday January 27th was our school's 9th annual Oral Interpretation Festival.  "What's that,"  you ask? We-he-hell, let me tell you.  It's when you round up as many kids as possible to memorize and recite poems on the local high-school stage with a microphone and spotlight.  This was not an easy task.  Last year I merely volunteered when Bella participated.  I helped at a few practices and a little at the show.  This year I was running it.  All of it.

I knew I would be facing some participation challenges when I got blank or petrified stares in the classrooms back in December when I went to hype up this event.  I quickly had to improvise from saying, "Raise your hand if you like to perform in front of a crowd," to "Raise your hand if the thought of doing this makes you so nervous you'd like to throw-up," and even certain teachers raised their hands.  It was sort of like rounding kids up to go in for a voluntary trip to the dentist on a stage for all the world to see. 

But in the end I got (begged) about 30 kids grades 1st through 6th to "come join the fun!".  And overall, it was fun. I got to know the office staff quite well, and became an expert at all things Shel Silverstein. Plus I got to use the phrase, "The microphone is your friend, but it's the kind of friend that doesn't want to be touched or licked."  How many times in your life will you get to say that

We had practices, I made announcements, designed programs, called parents, and on the Monday before the event I felt totally on top of things.  By Tuesday I still felt very positive, but had some misgivings about my overall preparation.  By Wednesday afternoon I was sitting in my car at Costco crying. As it turns out, I was paralyzed with indecision estimating how many cookies and lemonade I'd need to buy and from where.   I began to question my entire math upbringing which made me question why I thought I could handle putting all of this on to begin with.  And now since it was an odd 65 degrees out the last week of January, I was beginning to sweat and panic. I quickly put the windows down, took a few deep breaths and steadied myself.  I didn't want everyone walking by with their jumbo crates of toilet tissue and pita chips to hear some crazy, sweaty woman crying in the Costco parking lot.  What would they think? 

"Oh, how sad she forgot her Costco membership card."
 Or, "Oh, how sad.  That woman is stark raving mad.  Well, at least I haves me some pita chips."

I grabbed my to do list that had now been scribbled on, slashed, burned and redone 50 odd times that day, flipped it over and called the friend that I thought would most be able to answer my cookie conundrum.  She texted me 15 minutes later but by then I was already rolling.  I had that epiphany that we mommies usually have after having a good cry fest in any assorted parking lot.  I could do this.  I would have the right amount of cookies and lemonade more importantly I knew exactly what I would wear.  Anyone who doubted the show's impending success would "live to regret it" as Gabby had taken to saying quite a lot lately. 

By Thursday I had it all under control again.  I went for a bike ride, colored my hair and laid out my outfit.  I decided to wear a former maternity dress my sister, Lynette had given me.  This sounds just wrong I know, but to my credit, Lynette's thin, she got it in her first trimester AND it's quite stylish.  Lynette and I both giggled that with the right belt and jacket it could serve as the perfect sassy dress for a non-pregnant woman.  This show deserved just that type of sass for just that type of non-pregnant woman.  You can check the link below if you don't believe me.

See?  You totally can't tell it's maternity. 

Anyway, the show was a success.  Several moms stepped up to help, the kids were cute and I only momentarily panicked 5 or 6 odd times. After the show, people enjoyed an average amount of cookies (which will be increased next year) and lemonade with happy faces.  Families finally milled out, Aaron took the girls home and I cleaned up.  I ate leftover broken cookies, drank a few glasses of lemonade, but the last thing I did at 8:30 at night was to stop and get myself a celebratory cup of coffee with the remnants of a Christmas gift-card.  I'd been saving it for a special occasion.  This was it.  Putting on a flawless school event, while simultaneously  boosting the confidence of our youth!   I ordered a small FULL FAT mocha because after all, I was wearing a maternity dress.  It's not like I didn't have the extra room.