Saturday, January 29, 2011

This Is What a Stay At Home Mom Looks Like

I got my haircut today.  It had been a staggering seven months since I last had it done.  I am pretty low maintenance on my hair care, but this was ridiculous.  I felt like one of those women at the mall in a long jean skirt, no makeup, tennis shoes and hair down to their bottoms...ok not that bad, but those women are fascinating and worth mentioning every now and then. 
I couldn't go to my usual stylist, Sheri, whom I love and think everyone in the greater Austin area should go to because she is amazing, affordable and unpretentious.  She's fantastic. You can find her here.

Anyway, I couldn't go see Sheri because when I suddenly realized earlier this week that I hadn't had my haircut in seven months, I immediately called her and received a message that she is on vacation.  Fantastic, but apparently selfish enough to vacation.  As much as I love her, this could not wait another week.  So I booked an appointment at a training salon for an easy to get appointment and cheap price. 

I was greeted by a lovely, tattooed young woman with several shades of red in her hair. (She really was lovely.  I realize I am often sarcastic, but I seriously thought she was pretty.)  We began the customary get to know you chatter and she asked the obvious, "What do you do?"

"I''m a stay at home mom.  I have three little kids."

She paused in her shampooing and peered over my lathered head to look me in the eyes with disbelief, "Really? You don't look like a stay at home mom."

Now, a million thoughts went through my head when she said this.  Here are a few.

-Well, I am. (I am so clever.)

-Are my skinny jeans, rockin' body and general aura of extreme coolness confusing you?  (Please say yes to this one.) 

-Do I not look competent enough to take care of small children because I am wearing a necklace made of large, potentially chocking hazard, sized beads?

-You look 15, maybe you don't look like someone that should be allowed to have sharp scissors near my head.

-Please shut up and start rubbing my head again.

The truth is, I was a little flattered initially.  I assumed she meant that I wasn't over weight and I had on a matching outfit that was mostly purchased in the last year at somewhere as prestigious as the Gap. (ooo la la.)

I assumed that she meant that I didn't look like I had recently been severely deprived of sleep or a bath.  (Though I did admit to not having had my hair cut for seven months so she probably was already thinking my grooming skills were lacking.) 

I assumed she found me entertaining in those first few moments, so much so that I couldn't possibly have a TV that is primarily turned to Curious George and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse rather than CNN or at least something fun like Ellen.

I wanted this young, very young, woman to think that I looked nothing like a stay at home mom.  I wanted her to think that nothing about me screamed "I am with people that always or frequently urinate in their pants and I am willing to chat about it."  I wanted to be more than that. Then I felt a little guilty.

By now I was back in the chair for my long awaited haircut and I couldn't get it out of my head that I was happy that someone didn't think I looked like what I am.  That was a weird sentence, but you get it, right?

I mean, I knew what she meant when she said I didn't look like stay at home mom.  Her picture of one probably has on sweats or mom jeans, no make up or accessories and carries that free black backpack you can score from the hospital from Gerber when your baby is born.  Thanks a lot Gerber, because our image as moms isn't hurting enough. 

The truth is, I am what a stay at home mom looks like and I shouldn't be proud that someone didn't think of me as a stay at home mom.  I should be a little offended.  (Seriously though, I am way too vain to not take her comment generally as a compliment so I still really like that girl.) 

What I really should be is a little disappointed in myself for not being more proud of doing this amazing job.  I am blessed beyond belief that I can stay home with the three most fantastic (while simultaneously being the most horrible,) children.  I should be proud that I think most days I am doing pretty well at fostering their development into caring, intelligent, productive adults.

Stella really needs to work on her contributions to the world at large, but Aiden and Cole are right on the verge of a real break through with world peace.  Seriously, I'm a really good Mom. 

I need to remember that more. I need to be a little more proud that I have the opportunity to do this. I need to take that random girl's compliment as she meant it, (though my ego would really like a detailed list of exactly what about me is so out of line with her negative image of a stay at home mom so I can focus on how great I am in that regard,)  and not worry about what the perception of a stay at home mom is by the world at large.  I am what a stay at home mom looks like and I am, (usually and trying to be more,) proud to be one.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Plot Against Me

I obviously have done something very, very wrong.  I can't put my finger on when and what it was that I did, but I am convinced I am clearly being punished for something.

Over that last 72 hours I have slept about 14 hours. I am not OK with this. I am not a good person like this. I must sleep tonight. I must.

My children are apparently plotting together to torture me with a strategic rotation of waking up in the middle of the night to spend time with me.  I am at their mercy. They are totally winning.  I am ready to start serving m&ms for breakfast and ice cream upon request, just to be back in their favor. 

I am at the mercy of their respiratory virus hacking cough, horrible creepy walking around in the middle of the night habits and whiny appearances at my bedside. Stella (cough,) Cole (creepy walking,) Aiden (bedside.)

All of these wakings are scattered through the night so that I can never handle everyone at once or pass someone off to Daddy.  (Daddy has offered help, but they keep coming to me!  See, I alone am being targeted.) They are also taking turns sleeping all night so that they don't get too overtired and become unable to sustain their perpetual waking for endless nights in a row. 

I feel like I can't really blame Stella too much, which is probably just all part of the plan, since she was diagnosed with RSV and I actually can hear all her mucous and difficulty breathing.  She also might be getting a tooth...which I can't help be a little suspicious of the timing of its arrival coinciding with all these other sleeping problems.  Again, probably all just part of the plan.

Cole has had sleeping issues for years now so maybe he's just continuing through another poor sleep patch of his life, maybe.  I must say though that his wake ups are the most effective in ruining large chunks of my potential sleeping hours.  He wanders out into the living room and begins to whimper.  Since I recently finished reading the wonderfully written, and decidedly mentally scarring Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, I am easily scared by this subtle wake up.  

Even after I have put him back to bed I will think I hear him crying or walking around while I simultaneously construct a plot of Swedish crime and horror that could be unfolding in our midst.  Seriously, I don't know if I can read the next book in that series, but seriously don't know if I can not read the next book.  I've got quite a mental problem on my hands.  Nothing new I suppose.

Aiden has been the easiest to deal with so far. In a fantastic twist of events in our life, Aiden has recently become significantly more pleasant to be around.  He has been cooperating, whining less and not abusing his brother nearly as much as usual.  This new found demeanor has made his middle of the night appearances at my bedside semi-bearable.  He still is somewhat annoying in that he doesn't really make any noise until he appears and begins talking about having a stuffy nose, needing to pee or being cold.  I really feel I don't need to be involved in all of these anymore for him which is just frustrating to be woken up for, and he is earning a creepy point for being so sneaky. 

His sneakiness is probably just part of the elaborate plan the kids have put together since they saw me reading that book.  Despite the fact that none of them can read, and I have never discussed the book with them, I am pretty positive they know I am easily scared these days and are using my weakness against me.  I wonder when they meet and discuss all this stuff since they never leave me alone during the day?  Hmmmm....

Monday, January 24, 2011

Welocme to Mucousville

We have a lot of mucous going on in our house right now.  So much mucous that it really is getting ridiculous.  Snot covered tissues are littering our floors and my boys shirt sleeves are covered in dried snot they have wiped there.  I am so over all of this.

Stella has RSV.  Her poor nose is plugged on one side and has stuff pouring out the other.  She can't sleep due to coughing.  We are currently attempting to turn her room into a steamy jungle so she can breathe.  Her ear infection is also still present. She remains adorable though.

 Cole is finishing his double ear infection only to be plagued with horrible allergies that have snot pouring out his nose.   I have realized that his crazy tantrums and peeing accidents are due to exhaustion.  I won't bore you with the details, but he needs some serious sleep.  This is somewhat of a relief to me that he isn't just crazy.

Aiden also has horrible allergies and literally could probably sit and blow his nose for an hour straight. It's nasty.  He has been remarkably well behaved though in this last week and is really working his way up the favorite child list fast....only held back by his incessant need to ask question after question about EVERYTHING. I don't know how to explain the over pass system on our highways so he will understand of how to draw where the sewer drain goes or how cows yogurt.  I miss my father being here.

I was in a foul mood most of the weekend.  I always feel ashamed when this happens because I feel like I am being whiny and spoiled....probably because I am. I often feel like this on the weekend because I constantly feel disappointed in what I am not able to do or get done.  It is particularly horrible when my kids have been sick and have trapped me for over a week.

On this particular weekend I felt frustrated with Alex having to work Saturday and me being trapped for another day in this house with three kids that don't feel well.  Stella mostly wanted to be held, Aiden mostly wanted someone to listen to him blow his nose and Cole mostly wanted to refuse to cooperate, pee his pants and throw things.  Sunday was more of the same, but with Alex around.

The highlight of my weekend, going to the grocery store solo.  Pathetic.

I have tried to work on printing and framing pictures, organizing our gift bags/ribbon collection, and doing laundry.  Crap, that sounds equally pathetic.

I need to get out of my snot filled house.  We went to the doctor today for Stella, (where each nurse, admin and doctor greeted me by name, which I find a horrible sign,) but that can't really count as getting out of the house.  There were a few kids there that looked far worse off than my kids so it was  a brief lesson in gratitude....which I really found more annoying than anything else because I am firmly set on feeling frustrated by this long string of illness in my kids.

I am hanging on to the hope that both boys will go to preschool tomorrow and I can meet two of my friends at Starbucks with Stella. (Mom, please do not send me an email asking if I think taking Stella to Starbucks is a good idea.  It is a fantastic idea because otherwise I might explode.)  It will be glorious.  I will have reduced the amount of mucous I am in charge of by 2/3. Awesome.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hi Honey, Looks Like No One Peed On You Today

I was feeling optimistic when I woke this morning.  Our first day without Grandma and Tractor may have been rough, but all three kids were in bed by 6:30 last night and aside from Aiden climbing in to cuddle around 1, I didn't hear from any of them until Stella woke me up through the monitor with her adorable babble at 7.

Maybe life without Grandma and Tractor really could be ok.

As the day started I quickly saw my dreams of a peaceful day fizzle.  Aiden woke up with with goopy, tear filled eyes and began an incessant string of complaints about them and an aching head.  Stella's pink eye apparently jumped to her big brother.  Even my sweet night of cuddling with Aiden was now tainted with the thought of his pink eye goop oozing all over our shared pillow.  My eye hasn't stopped twitching all day....though I am pretty sure it is just in my mind, for now.

Cole was significantly better than yesterday, though still defiant and still congested enough for him to be wiping snot, everywhere.  Seriously, everywhere.  I saw him stop walking on his way to the kitchen, pick up my sweater that was on a dining room chair and wipe his nose with it. What have I done to teach this type of behavior?  He also was extremely accident prone, creating several very tearful moments for his baby sister due to "accidents" like spinning next to her in a circle with a pink Bumbo seat on his head, only to have the seat fly off and and land on Stella's face. Seriously, it was a rough moment.

Stella was actually fantastic this morning and then somehow picked up on the fact that she should be more difficult.  After her first nap she decided to cry unless she was held, scream for a bottle and then only drink a few ounces, personal favorite moment...poop explosively out of her diaper while I was holding her without my knowledge until I saw a dark smudge on the arm of her shirt that I tried to wipe off.  That was awesome.

So, it was a rough day of being trapped in the house with my crew.  Everything felt difficult and  I felt like a slave to three very small, whiny humans. It wasn't my first rough day though.  Of course it won't be my last.  This is just how it is some days.  Some days are wonderful, some are spent physically forcing antibiotics down your kids and getting pooped on while you try to snuggle your baby. 

I know these days will happen, but sometimes seeing Alex makes these days feel even worse.  Not because I don't want to see my husband or don't appreciate him coming home early to help with bedtime, but I am often struck by the contrast between the two of us.  I feel beaten and he is so joyful to be home.  I almost feel embarrassed for the state I am in physically and mentally on these rough days.  I feel I shouldn't be around any adults without a shower and a full glass of wine first. 

Tonight, the first thing I thought of when I saw him was that he was still wearing the same nice shirt he wore when he left this morning.  Apparently, no one pooped all across his forearm and then peed down the front of his shirt while he was at the office.  Bastard.  I had both those things happen to me, forcing me to change, twice .  Both times I changed I was also attempting to comfort a crying baby and mediate a fight over a Stars Wars light saber.  (Seriously, why have I not burned those things by now?) 

He kissed me, all smiley and sweet and ready to help.  Why did this irritate me? I wanted someone cranky and overwhelmed by my side so that I didn't feel so ridiculously smaller minded for letting three little people and their feces put me in such a funk.

The boys were so excited to see him, as always, and Stella practically leaped from my arms to giggle with him. I guess even the kids know when someone hasn't been covered in poop. It always feels wonderful to see them so excited about their father, but then on the really rough days like today, I feel a little jealous too.  I couldn't be the fun one all day because I was too busy wiping snot or telling someone to stop spinning with baby seats on their heads.  I tried to watch Looney Toons with them and all I could think about was the pile of dishes in the sink and the fact that I had no clue what I would be feeding anyone for dinner.  I am often not fun.

The thing about Alex being home for dinner, bath and bed is that it takes twice as long as it does when I am alone. This sounds counter intuitive, but it's true. Alex can sit and drink his beer and chat with the boys while they eat.  They giggle and he's funny....which is really irritating because I am usually so funny, that's my role.  (Ugh, I am small minded.)

He looks like he has been talking to adults all day, other than periodically talking over the sound of a child demanding you tell them who you are talking to at that exact moment.  Alex looks relieved to be here, and I want to run out the door.  He loves coming home to us, all of us, and all I can think about is how quickly we can get the kids in bed so it's just the two of us.

He's imaginative with them while he helps them take a bath. He can pretend to be driving a huge ship and be fighting off bad guys, but I can't.  By the time bath time comes around I just want everything to be done.  I have used all of my joy and imagination on the other parts of the days. Wait, I think I just said I'm not fun during the day either.  Crap, when am I fun? 

I think I am, but on days like this it is rare moments.  I have to quit comparing myself and my fecal splattered clothes to Alex and his nice clean shirts.  I have to remember that he didn't have my kind of day and I didn't have his, and most of the time I am grateful for that.

I may not be as fun as Alex, but I am still the one they want to have sing to them just before they go to sleep. I am the one that knows things like how you have to prepare Aiden's oatmeal before Cole's because he needs extra time for his food to cool down or he won't eat it.  I know that if Stella puts her head against her blanket she'll go right to sleep.  I know that Aiden wants red and vanilla and Cole wants blue and chocolate. I know Stella will cry if you leave the kitchen while she is in her bouncer, but giggle when you get back.  I know that if they wake up in the middle of the night, they will come to my side of the bed for help or love.  I am the Mom....pooped on and ready for Daddy to be here for the weekend.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cole Freaks Out

I am exhausted. I am crying.  I just finished a 2 hour stand off with Cole over about 150 small pieces of white paper he thought would be fun to cut out of our printer paper.  (This is probably the most offensive thing we are part of in treatment of the environment.  I swear we recycle though.) The pieces are in a variety of triangles, squares and shapes that I don't recall from 10th grade geometry, spread all over the playroom floor.  Very annoying.

Cole created this mess yesterday.  Ahh....yesterday, let me first tell you about yesterday with Cole to really set the scene for my frustration with this tantrum.

My parents agreed to stay in Texas one extra night so that Alex and I could go with some friends to dinner and a basketball game last night.  Since Stella and Cole were sick I was feeling a little badly about leaving them with my parents, but not badly enough to actually choose to stay home when I had two free babysitters.

I knew Cole had the potential to be the biggest problem.  As is often the case, I was right.

Immediately after we left he began screaming while lying on the kitchen floor, refusing to eat or be touched by anyone other than his Mommy. (I felt so honored to have been chosen.) Apparently after 45 minutes Tractor picked him up, carried him to the couch and Cole promptly fell asleep. 

He then woke up an hour later to scream for another hour on my bed.  Eventually he ended up in his own bed and slept there until about 2:30 when he made his way back to my bed.  I'm sure my parents will be canceling any future plans to extend trips to help babysit.

I loathe this type of situation while I am out. As I read my Mom's texts about the progress of Cole's screaming tantrum I felt embarrassed.  I felt guilty, like I was clearly failing to have a child acting like that for his grandparents.  I felt annoyed that he was going to make me listen to my mother explain how she doesn't remember my brother and I EVER acting like that and she just doesn't understand. Damn it Cole!

I wanted to drive home (though I wasn't about to leave my child-less, adult only outing to hang with my 3 year old that wouldn't stop freaking out,) and lock him in my closet or strap him to his bed until he calmed down and could explain to me in clear, well thought out sentences, why he was acting like such a freak.  Why!??!

This morning, Cole started off pretty normal, but quickly went south as we drove Grandma and Tractor to the airport.  There were many, many tears over a window shade that he couldn't put down and then many, many, many more over the fact that it was down.  Of course.

Once back at our empty, grandparentless house (sigh,) Cole asked me to get down a box of cars for him. I told him I'd be happy to....after he picked up all the scraps of paper he cut yesterday. 

And then it began.

At first he simply told me he didn't like to pick up paper and so he couldn't do it. Nice try. 

Then he told me I had to do it because I wanted the paper picked up and he just wanted to play cars.  Slightly more intelligent way to try to get out of it, though disrespectful and still not what I was looking for from him.

Finally, he suggested we wait for Aiden to get home from school because Aiden likes to help pick up(which is true, God bless him,) and Aiden would probably just do it while Cole played cars.  I sort of felt proud of this response because that's really well thought out.  But again, not what I needed.

I gave choices.  There was a time out.  Things escalated.  I tried to explain my feelings per that ridiculous behavior book I read (and really liked, but I am only half ass implementing because I feel so lazy and overwhelmed so I feel like I have to trash talk about it,) and he still wasn't interested in helping me.  It really shocks me that Cole isn't more concerned about my feelings.

I informed him he was napping, he informed me he wasn't.  Long story short, or perhaps just not as long as I could make it, he started screaming and I ended up basically wrapping myself around him on my bed to get him to go to sleep.  He didn't really fall asleep but he finally shut his eyes and laid there for 20 minutes.

I had to go have a moment to myself.  So here I am. Crying and exasperated.  Embarrassed and frustrated.  Ashamed for my anger and still so full of it toward my son. I'm terrified that this is just who he is and I am not equipped with the patience or the words to help him. I want to just run out the door and have someone else come in and fix him.  What would I google to find that person?

So, what is going on with him?

Cole has had a double ear infection, but after two days of medicine (let's not even go into the drama of giving him medicine,) he should be feeling well enough to not scream for hours when something doesn't go his way.....right?  I truly think it is exhaustion, but I blame everything that happens on exhaustion so the excuse feels weak and all together inadequate for the amount of freak out Cole has done in the last 24 hours.

But, after all that a few minutes ago....he did come out and, pick up the paper.  He even did it with a smile. Check out the photo below.   Maybe we'll make it after all?  Maybe I am as awesome a Mom as I have always thought.  Maybe.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Germfest 2011

So my father created this sign yesterday and posted it on the outside of our door for all potential guests, as well as my husband, to see prior to entering our home.  Yes, things have gotten a little rough the last few days.

(I'm not sure why my high energy is something to warn others about....he probably should have given a fair warning that I am just straight up cranky now. Thanks for the easier diagnosis Tractor.)

Stella and Cole both started running amuck on Saturday and by this afternoon I had a baby with pink eye in both eyes and an ear infection, and a 3 year old with a double ear infection.  These are both very unfortunate and apparently really uncomfortable, particularly for Cole.

Stella is retaining her status as the best baby ever by being very happy still and more or less sleeping well during this time of illness.  My father has decided though that he can't touch her because she is full of germs and my mom can't stop reminding us that she has eye surgery Monday and can not get pink eye.  (I am in no way belittling eye surgery, just the frequency that this is brought to my attention despite my inability to do anything about it.) 

Stella is not a fan of eye drops though  and I do think it is one of the worst things to have to do to my child.  I would much prefer having to take a rectal temperature or gather a stool sample than put one drop in each eye of this medicine. I literally have to pry her eyelids open while she is trying to turn over and swat my hands away.  Can't I just rub some power cream on her eyelid that soaks through?  Seriously, why aren't scientists working on something more reasonable than one drop of liquid in a squirming baby's eyeball?

Stella was a total champ at the doctor's office, even during our God awful 1 hour and 45 minute wait to see the doctor.  (Apparently the partner doctor in the practice had a baby the day before unexpectedly and they were over booked.)  Here is Stella during the wait. Don't worry, I did have actual food for her.  Doesn't it look like I always have food for her?

Cole is, unfortunately, retaining his status as my most high maintenance.  He has been refusing to sleep unless an adult watches him. Yes, that's right, watch him. ...because I haven't done enough for him, I am now going to pull up a kitchen chair and just watch him sleep for 12 hours.  Totally makes sense.  He is also requesting every adult sing him a song prior to bed, then criticizes my Mom for not knowing the words to Hush Little Baby, even suggesting she learn them from me and then return.  High maintenance.

He did manage to fall asleep on my bed during nap time, without wearing a pull-up, to pee on my no mattress pad covered mattress.  (Please direct all questions about why we, as parents of three small kids and dog owners, do not have a mattress pad on our bed to Alex.) This is not fun.  This is in fact, foul. 

It is really difficult to get the smell of urine out.  Alex made an attempt by covering it in baking soda and then vacuuming it....and then I decided to go to sleep on it without making sure it was dry.  I woke up around midnight with pee soaked pajamas and an irrational anger at Alex.  (I pretty much always direct my middle of the night anger at Alex, it's part of my gift to him for being the love of my life.  He is super happy about it.)  To further my inability to make a good decision I didn't even change my pants, just stuck a hand towel over the pee area of the bed. I'm really tired, ok?

Cole also has peed in his pants basically every time he has had to pee.  For the last 4 days.  This sucks.

Cole also refuses to have anyone help him, except for me, for anything. He wants nothing to do with my parents, which was particularly helpful when I had to take Stella to the doctor's office on Monday.  Apparently he eventually agreed to let my Mom comfort him after she bribed him with an Oreo and her ipad. He also agreed to sit with my father while I picked Aiden up from school, provided he had access to the ipad.  Seriously, he has very sophisticated demands...but can't use a toilet. 

On the way to the doctor this morning I attempted to brief him on what was going to happen at the doctor's office. He wasn't interested. He informed me he knew that the doctor had to cut his foot off and also that they didn't have to weigh him because he already knew he weighed "this" much, (runs his hands from his feet to head.)  He also demanded a chocolate milk and an ipad.  I am hoping his fever is mainly causing these demands because Grandma is probably not giving us her ipad and we certainly aren't buying one for our 3 year old.

This was a picture of him at the doctor's office. He was pathetically feverish.

I am so loving Aiden and his health right now. He is adorable and fully functional. He couldn't wait to get the hell out of here this morning though and go to school.  I can't blame him.  I wish I had school to go to.  He's out of his mind with boredom which is not great in a house with two sick kids.  His boredom usually leads to torturing Cole in some way or whining to me about something that he is lacking in his life like an iPad. 

This frog in a way too small box, that I am constantly convinced is dead, has been the most exciting thing in his life.  Doesn't he look healthy?  He's so cute.

Remember my prior post about needing my parents?  Well, these last two days are exactly why I am planning to sabotage their return flight to Indiana on Thursday. I would be completely crazy without them.   At the very least I'm stealing my Mom's iPad.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Grandma and Tractor Should Not Go

Today marks day 29 with my parents and I am terrified of their Thursday departure.  Terrified.

Things are just better when there are three adults for three kids and I don't have to work as hard. I feel like even the most basic of tasks will soon be painful (remember my posts after my parents left this summer?  Remember the grocery with Cole?) because I will be the sole "responsible" party for my kids again for 90% of the week. 

I have a very difficult time adjusting to being alone again with all of them.  All of a sudden three seems like 10 and I have no idea how I functioned by myself for months prior to their arrival.  Did I actually ever get anywhere on time?  Who usually dresses all these people?   Did I prepare food?  Was there really three of them? 

I know that sometimes getting back to our routine, as chaotic as it may be, feels comforting. Sometimes it's nice to just have the five of us alone again.  But mostly it is just a lot more work for me and that isn't fun.  I also feel that I might have to go back to doing my own laundry and paying for all our take out food and that sounds sort of crappy.

My brain feels like it might burst with the number of things I want to accomplish before my parents leave. I want to get my hair cut, paint two pieces of furniture, print and frame enough photos to fill the giant empty spaces which are my walls, find new bedding for my guest room, clean out my kids' bathroom closet, finish reading my book, organize the laundry room and take a nap.  I really want to take a nap.

Seriously, this is all on an irrational to-do list I created a week and a half ago and really thought it all might happen.  I have three days to get it all done.  I will fail.  I probably won't even take a nap.

I will fail because it actually seems like it takes all of us to keep my children in a semi-satisfied, not freaking out state.  Last night Cole woke up with a fever and I am pretty sure Stella is getting sick.  It is definitely going to take all three of us to survive.  If Stella and Aiden truly get sick and my parents leave while they are still ill....just brace yourself for some seriously emotional posts....or if I could convince them, a delayed flight for Grandma and Tractor.

I know I should buck up.  I know we'll be ok.  Even if we have to go through HEB while Aiden cries due to Cole biting his nipple and Cole screams, the entire way, because he's just like that and throws a shoe at a kind stranger while I get lots of "well, you've got your hands full"....we'll be ok.  But I would still prefer to have Grandma and Tractor around.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You Should Have an Amity

Today is my friend Amity's birthday.  (It also happens to be my brother's birthday, but this post is mainly about Amity....sorry Kyle.  Feel free to work on your impact on my life this year and maybe next year's January 13th post will be about you.)  Every mom should have a friend like Amity.
Amity and I used to work for the same dysfunctional company but we didn't become really close until we had our children.  I don't know what I would do without her here.  Amity is my sanity. I honestly think I would have abandoned my kids in a park somewhere or left my husband to live in Indiana if it weren't for her.

Becoming a mom can feel isolating, lonely. It feels frustrating to be at the mercy of these small humans. It is maddening to have an endless series of  seemingly simple tasks to complete and each one is met with challenge and resistance.  It is boring to race matchbox cars or fold laundry or to read Skippy John Jones 5 times in a row.  It makes you want to cry when your potty-trained child poops their pants for the 4th time in a week and you have to clean it up. Being a mom can really suck.

I have always had good girlfriends, but never have I needed them more than after I had my children.  Having my children challenged me more, frustrated me more and gave me more joy speckled with horror than anything I had ever experienced.  It doesn't even make sense to say more, nothing else in life even had a small likeness to becoming a parent.  Amity has made so much of this crazy ride better for me.

We both love Starbucks and Target way more than is financially reasonable...but really, who doesn't?  We both think we have the potential to be really successful people, if it didn't sound like so much hard work, so we are content just discussing the potential right now. 

We both become consumed with ridiculous things like finding the right pair of skinny jeans or how to cut our bangs....when in reality no one cares about what we look like so what are we doing? We both have an admittedly disgusting fascination with things like zits, in grown hairs and ear wax.  Seriously, no one else would want to hang out with us as much as we are around one another except possibly our husbands. 

But ultimately, we both truly and deeply love our children....while simultaneously feeling like maybe we could be happier if we could find a way to spend much, much, much less time with them.

She has talked to me through a million and one parenting dilemmas and marriage woes.  She has listened to me say horrible things because that's how I've felt and she has yet to judge me.  She came over more often than was reasonable during the last few months of my pregnancy with Stella because she knew it hurt for me to walk and she actually took over parenting my kids while I sat on the couch.  She suffered through about 10 false alarms of me going into labor with Stella and was ready to take Aiden and Cole for us every single time.   Every Mom needs an Amity.

She'll discuss ridiculous things like how I could get Cole to fall asleep without drugging him or what type of a winter coat I should purchase my husband for as long as I'm trying to figure it out.  She'll hold my baby just so I don't have to do that anymore.  She is funny and sarcastic.  She is thoughtful.  She is intelligent.  She is inspiring.  She is an amazing Mom and a phenomenal friend. 

Seriously, you should have an Amity. Happy Birthday Amity!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Um...Should I be Concerned?

Boy readers beware....I'm about to talk about some very female things.  Ladies, I need some help.

I've been feeling a little uneasy lately.  Here are the facts:

- I stopped nursing Stella about a month ago, more or less. 

- Not too long ago, Alex and I....well, you know.  We were a little (though not entirely) careless....a little something I like to call "After School Special birth control."

- On the joyful journey from Indiana to Texas in the minivan, I felt sick and gross the entire 1100 miles.

- After a meal at the beloved Cracker Barrel, I promptly threw up the entire country home cookin' meal in the Comfort Inn's toilet.

- Nausea continued for a few days....ok, still feel sort of off and have some indigestion issues.

- Feel like I am getting ready to start my period.

- Took pregnancy test almost a week ago....negative. (Received friendly voicemail from friend reminding me that Stella was also a negative test. Damn it Amity!)

What the hell?  I've been pregnant enough times to know that having a baby starting to grow in your uterus feels a whole lot like when you are about to start your beloved monthly cycle....but clearly not often enough to really know. 

I feel like there is no way.  Surely I am just being overly dramatic. 

First, it would be ridiculous.  It was only one time. (Also a famous After School Special line.)  We were sort of careful.  And really, why would God give me another child when I can barely handle the three that I have?  I am just now starting to sleep a little bit.  Surely I won't be robbed of that, right?

I don't want my minivan to be full.  I already feel odd driving it...I don't want to fill it.  I don't want to get huge again and not be able to laugh or cough or sneeze without peeing my pants for months on end. I don't want to stretch my breasts out again, only to have them shrink smaller and saggier than they ever were.  I don't want to wear maternity clothes and have trouble with the simplest of wiping.

Seriously, should I be worried?  When does your period come back after nursing?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sometimes You Can Only Help One

There is very little joy around here  between 5 and 7 pm.  Invariably one, or all three, of my children are crying at the same time. It spins me into panic mode and every night I curse under my breath (or perhaps just within ear shot of the baby because I still feel she's not going to repeat it....I have plans to blame Alex if her first word is shit,) that tomorrow will be different.  It usually isn't.

Usually my biggest problems are Cole and Stella.  Aiden can more easily be pacified by playing.  Cole and Stella seem to team up against me and present their starvation and exhaustion simultaneously every night. 

Last night was one of these nights.  The day was pretty normal.  I didn't feel any need to fear the evening like I do some days where naps have been missed or we've done something particularly exhausting (which for them is usually joyful) like a bounce house.

But at 5:00 Stella was unable to be content doing anything other than being carried around in my arms and Cole started whining, and periodically full on screaming, about everything.  I seriously mean everything.  He screamed from hunger and then laid on the kitchen floor and cried when I tried to give him food because all he wanted was hot chocolate.  Dear God, this is just mean.

The ridiculous thing is that my parents are still here and are really helpful.  But when shit hits the fan, no one wants Grandma or Tractor or the way they prepare things.  All children insist on Mommy....probably because I have raised them to recognize and go after the best they can see and I'm simply awesome to them, except when I am screaming and then Cole claims that I scare him, oops.

Trying to make dinner while holding an 18 pound, drooling, crying child is horrible.  My mother in law always tells me she used to make dinner at lunch time so that when everyone got hungry at 5:00, things were ready.  She's smart. This is a wonderful idea, but I never seem to execute this plan.  I feel like I am scrambling only slightly less at noon than I am at 5.

I do have rest time on most days that I could cook....but let's be honest, I am so excited to not have three kids hanging on me for a few minutes that I would rather facebook and catch up on what the Kardshians are doing than proactively cook to avoid the disaster that will surely occur that evening. I totally have my priorities straight. I know....I'm only punishing myself.

So last night, after I got food for Cole (minus the requested hot chocolate) and was able to feed Stella, I realized that Cole was so exhausted he needed an emergency early bedtime. I abandoned his virtually untouched dinner and dragged him screaming to the tub.  This left Stella needing attention and a bottle and Aiden eating dinner alone, which is depressing but probably a good life skill to learn to eat solo.

This moment happens all the time though.  I have to pick one to help and the others have to figure it out for a while.  I hate this aspect of having multiple kids.  Stella probably should have been put in the bath at that time too.  She probably would have benefited from an early bedtime, but I can't do both...especially when one is screaming.

Geez, do I have too many kids?  Will I forever be rotating attention while sacrificing the other two's needs?  When is my husband going to go get fixed so I am not helping one while avoidng THREE!?!?  

Over the holidays I took Cole out for a few hours to run errands and had the best time with just the two of us. It was fantastic to be able to hear everything he had to say.  We could walk where he wanted to go and no one else was crying about our decisions.  He was happy and adorable because I was meeting his every need.  Is this what it is like to have one child?  I don't even remember it just being Aiden and I.

I know I need to be better at strategizing, or better at finding peace within myself when everyone else is falling apart (that's the definition of peace on my coffee mug,) but it's tough.  I don't want to be in a constant strategy session to stay 10 steps ahead of my children's tears and screams.  I don't think I will ever be able to not feel my blood pressure rising when all my kids start crying at the same time.  It sucks. 

I think the kids will be ok, I'm more worried about me. They are probably learning valuable lessons in not being the center of the world.  I on the other hand will probably be found passed out from some sort of stroke on my kitchen floor while my children continue to shout requests at me for things like a blue straw instead of a green one for their water or to get them a tissue that is slightly out of their reach unless they actually move. 

I need to have more moments like this when we were on the road, in a crappy hotel and all three kids were happy and content.

I know everyone will find peace knowing that I already know what I am making for dinner tonight and I plan to start it immediately after rest time begins....unless Keeping Up with The Kardashians is on or I feel like checking my email or we get really exciting mail today or I find a cool new app for my iphone.....Ok, I'll brace for screaming.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Get Up and Go Out? Sounds like a lot of work...

Since Grandma and Tractor are visiting for a while I thought it would be a good idea to get a babysitter tonight so Alex and I could go out with them as adults.  We are very classy.

It just seems mean to subject my parents to only meals that involve me shouting at someone to stop something, be quiet or that include my complete absence from the table for 75% of the meal as I retrieve 50 things I somehow forgot to put on the table.  Seriously, don't I serve them dinner every night?  When will I figure out what needs to be on the table before we sit down?
Anyway, so  I magically found a new babysitter that is willing to give it a go with my children for a whooping $12 an hour while she flips through my tv channels and eats food.  If I liked kids more I would totally get a job babysitting and make some serious money.  Why does it cost so much for someone to sit here?  I like her though and she probably won't steal my kids to sell them since she's making such ridiculous money for doing so little.  I guess that's a good thing.

I should actually be showering and preparing for the babysitter's arrival right now, but instead I am sitting here writing and feeling lazy.  I'm curled up on my comfy bed just relaxing.  Wait...where are my kids?  This is great.

I don't understand this phenomenon.  Every time I have the opportunity to go out for something during the evening, I look forward to it from the moment it is planned....until it is actually time to go out.  Then I somehow forget that I've been dying to leave the walls of my home and the presence of these little people I slave over for adult conversation and night time activities and I don't really feel motivated to go.

I blame sleep exhaustion. Probably because I blame everything that goes wrong on being tired.  My poor behavior, as well as my children's, can always be traced back to lack of sleep in my opinion.  I wonder when this will stop?  Do you ever get to sleep after you have kids?  Should I be drinking more red bull?

So what's wrong with me?  I should be relishing in the opportunity to shower and actually put clothes on that are not playground appropriate or covered in spit-up.  I should be picking out ridiculous things like which eyeshadow color I'm going wear, because these are the decisions I never get to make.  I should be excited.

But really I want to throw on sweat pants, watch a movie and enjoy peace.  Maybe I need some zoloft?  Isn't that an anti-depression drug?  Am I depressed or just inclined to want to wear cotton and rest?  Maybe I'm just boring? 

I also compulsively worry about being tired the next day after a night out.  See, everything goes back to a sleep worry, this is a big problem for me.  I hate the thought of drinking one too many glasses of wine so that I have that slightly off feeling when I wake up in the middle of the night to deal with a lost pacifier or someone's need to pee.

I hate the next morning when all my children are excited to be awake at 6:30 and all I want to do is throw cereal on the floor and tell them to stick a straw in the juice container so I don't have to move.  I can't wait for my kids to learn to pour themselves a drink.  Maybe they'll even learn to pour one for me.

Ok, I'm moving.  I'm hell bent on having a good time and forgetting about sleep and my love of sweat pants after 7 pm.  I'm sure I'll have a good time once I'm out at a restaurant where someone else makes and serves the food for me. I bet I don't even have to yell at anyone to be quiet (other than perhaps my father) or get up from the table once to get anything.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Power of Cole

Yesterday my neighbor was telling me a sad story about a friend's little boy that was recently diagnosed as bipolar, with some severe mental issues.  He's in the 5th grade and the parents had known something was off with him since he was three, but just didn't know what it was.  He had high verbal skills and seemed normal-ish.  It took years and years of testing to figure out his issues.

All I could think about was Cole.  Ok, I don't think Cole is bipolar but seriously he is really, really quirky and sometimes he scares me....if I'm not laughing.

I called my friend a few weeks ago as I was driving more pants and underwear to Cole's school since he had peed his pants THREE times by 11 am, to ask her what she thought was wrong with him?  I was honestly concerned.  What the hell?  What is he doing?  He's been potty trained for a long time now.

He throws massive tantrums and lately has taken to whining about just about anything.  My Mother told me over the holidays that he reminds her of the ADHD children from her teaching days.  Fantastic, now I feel better.

I know middle kids are supposed to be sort of quirky, but Cole is in his own world. I should sell tickets. Cole is beyond words.  Sometimes I think he might be crazy, or mentally scarred from perpetual sleep exhaustion or the melatonin I have used frequently to try to knock him out, but mostly he's just hilarious.  Where did he come from? 

Even among all of my concern about his "issues," I realize there is something amazing about him too.  More often than not I am giggling and kissing him because he's challenging to resist.

A lot of kids are cute (do not tell me all kids are, because that is just not true,) but there is something off the charts about Cole, when he isn't throwing a tantrum or whining or compulsively peeing his pants.  He is charming. He has a look, a manner of carrying himself, that I am pretty sure is going to cause all sorts of problems and joy at the same time.  He can get away with almost anything....danger. 

He is so confident in himself that I often doubt myself when he disagrees with me.  I could watch him knock over a pile of laundry and then be completely thrown off when he tells me he didn't do it because he is so bold and believable as he describes the gust of wind that came through the living room and swept away the clothes.  I seriously have to stop and think about if this is true or not.  Either I am totally bonkers or he his good....really good. 

His ability to spin a story reminds me of of how my old boss once marvelled at my ability to bullshit, apparently it runs in the family.  Please use your powers for good Cole, not evil.

While reprimanding him he often puts his palms on the side of my face, smiles and tells me he loves me.  He recently has started kissing my hand repeatedly while I am trying to read stories to his brother or while we are watching a show.  It's a little creepy, but mostly hysterical. 

He recently picked out a toy shotgun when given the opportunity to select a new toy.  He carries it with him everywhere.  He hasn't quite figured out that it isn't a gun for a hip holster and feels totally natural sticking it through his underwear to carry it around. This looks both hilarious and extremely uncomfortable.  He calls it shotgun underpants and it is weird and funny.

So maybe in a few years we will start having him studied, but for now I am trying to chill out and beleive that he's off the charts in entertainment and then the rest is just being a three year old.  I seem to remember three being tough with Aiden, but with substatially fewer moments of laughter in the mix.  I think regardless of the diagnosis, Cole is crazy....but pretty sure I love it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm Back

So, it's been a while.  I've been gone...and I've been busy. Well, really I've just been lazy, but either way I'm back.  Since it's been so long I figured I should at least write a quick update as to what I've been up to so we can get started again.

Mid-December Alex and I piled the three kids and the dog into our van and traveled 1100 miles to Indianapolis to spend the holidays with my parents and my brother's family.  Yes, we drove to Indiana.  We're nuts.
I envisioned hours upon hours of screaming children, me soaked in my tears of anger and frustration, Alex cussing under his breath and Indiana expressing his anal glands the whole way so that the smell is the only thing worse than the screaming.

But, it was easy on the way there.  Seriously, no problems.  No screaming.  No tears.  No cussing. Ok, there were some anal gland issues but Indiana is a very disturbed and gross, yet wonderful, dog.

We arrived to snow and cold weather which my little Texas children enjoyed for the first 3 or 4 days.  They went sledding, they made a snow man and they fell in deep piles of snow and laughed.  They loved it....then they hated it.

I would like to send a serious shout out to moms of little kids living in cold weather climates.  The amount of time I spend begging my children to put on large puffy jackets, hats and gloves was ridiculous.  The amount of time I spent trying to strap them into their car seats with said jackets on was simply painful.  They cried when their gloves fell off, even in the car.  They requested hot chocolate almost every day because they were simply freezing.  We were indoors....a lot. 

We went ice skating, which was really me ice skating while trying to hold up my children.  It killed my back and honestly I kept having visions of Aiden or Cole falling and someone gliding by and slicing off one of their fingers.  It was pretty fun. 

I learned some valuable information about my parents.

I learned that I will never be as good at being frugal as my father.  I watched him rinse out and reuse plastic bags (including the two he used as his over night bags on our road trip.) He uses junk mail for note paper.  He stores Christmas decorations in boxes from the early 80s in order to avoid purchasing $5 plastic tubs. My Dad doesn't have trash service to avoid paying the monthly fee and it is a huge pain in the ass.  The day before we left we weren't allowed to throw anything in the trash can other than paper.  He kept smuggling the dirty diapers out somewhere.   I don't even know what he does with all of it, but I'm sure he's committing some sort of waste disposal crime.  Maybe he slowly distributes the trash in the neighbors' trash cans?  Maybe he carries small bags of trash to the grocery store each time he goes?  It was annoying however it works....but he certainly has more money than I do.

I also learned my Mom has a wealth of information gathered from scary emails forwarded to her by her friends.  She is much cooler than I am though, owning both an iphone and an ipad. She can rock a baby while humming longer than I could do anything else in the world, particularly that, because I find it exhausting and annoying.  She spoiled my daughter, but I guess that's ok.

My kids usually are over the moon to be at Grandma and Tractor's house for weeks on end.  Leading up to Christmas and Christmas were wonderful.  Immediately following the holiday though, my kids were ready to go home.  Too many hours spent trapped inside.  Too many nights staying up late and then trying to sleep in sleeping bags on the floor.  Two out of the three kids were sick and Alex flew home the day after Christmas, so it was too long without Daddy. 

Yes, you read correctly, my husband flew back alone, which means that my parents were left with us.   So on the fourth of January I climbed back into our minivan with Aiden, Cole, Stella, Grandma, Tractor and Indiana for the journey back to Texas.  Other than me feeling sick, throwing up at the Comfort Inn in Arkansas and some serious screaming from Stella, it went well.

Now we are back, enjoying our time with Grandma and Tractor here.  I feel better-ish (though still haunted by a brief moment of thinking my nausea could be due to pregnancy, which is a terribly  frightening thought).  Aiden and Cole are happy to be sleeping off the floor.  We are all happy to have Daddy around again....and no one is missing their puffy jacket.  We even can throw all our trash in the trash can, but can't afford much else because we do.