Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This Is Why I Read The Sad Stuff

Not too long ago I was getting ready to leave my children for a few hours with a friend. 

(I know the nicest people.)

As much as I was trying to focus on the joy of this type of drop off, I had recently started reading a blog about a woman who had tragically lost her son and I found myself a little extra paranoid about safety, in addition to the already constant movie reel of tragedy in my brain which I press play on as soon as one of my family members is out of my sight.  Fear not, I have discussed this with a mental health professional and it turns out this is really common...for the mentally insane. 

Totally kidding, it's common for "normal" people too.

I mentioned the blog and my friend said, "oh Leslie, why do you let yourself read those things?" 

I get this quite often when I relay a sad situation or recent tragedy. 

(Please understand that despite almost every word you have read thus far, I am not Debbie Downer all the time and I will, some day, make a point.) 

I understand the desire to avoid this sad train of thought, particularly for us Moms.  I get it, I do, but I think it's sort of important to read the sad stuff.  There is a lot of good in that sad stuff, particularly for those of us not mentioned in any of it.

Allow me to explain myself. 

I have, without question, an amazing life. I have a healthy, happy family.  I'm mad for my husband.  I love my home and I am grateful for the infinite little pleasures like good books, Starbucks, old Gossip Girl episodes, and fun eye makeup.  I want for nothing. 

Well, I actually want for all sorts of things, new jeans, those microwave tortilla warmers, some heeled oxfords, that $180 trash can...these types of things could fill pages, there is no end, but there is no hole in me for not having them.
I am happy.  I am grateful.  I am blessed. 

Like all of us though, I am still so flawed and filled with bad days of self pity and a deep lack of gratitude.  I get resentful and frustrated.  I feel alone in the role of parenting, and completely abandoned in almost all my relationships, which couldn't be more false.

I don't like these days...but I accept them as a periodic part of my life.  The trick is getting over these days fast, and some times that's difficult for me. I get caught up in it all and sometimes it's tough to move past myself.  I'm selfish and that is never more apparent than when I wallow in my blahs.  I hate it.

It's difficult though, and I've been through those times quite frequently since having children.  Nothing has pushed me deeper in to sadness, or bliss, than my kids.  Unfortunately, the sadness and the bliss make frequent appearances, so I have a lot of experience in learning how to get over the sad, the frustrating, the desperate. 

I read almost all the sad stuff that comes my way. I read stories about children with terminal illness, families ripped apart by addiction, rape, and abuse. I bawl over books, articles and blogs that tell the intimate details of situations that cause me to fall on my knees with gratitude that my family and I have no personal experience with them.  I don't seek these stories out, but I don't turn away from them and I never abandon them until they end...or stop being shared.

I do not relish in knowing tragedy has struck someone, but I find hope and courage in allowing myself to pray for them, contact them, or simply share their story.

I read Anna See's An Inch of Gray whenever she posts, and have done so since I first learned that her son died in a flash flood at the age of 12 this past fall.  I feel like I have been punched in the gut every time I read about the cavernous hole in their family's life that her son's death has created.  I bawl when she writes about not knowing what to do with the every day things like favorite foods or Lego sets that are so painfully present when her son is not.  I hate it, and I love it.

I feel like Anna, and anyone writing about this type of grief, is sharing this amazing gift to all of us.  She's sharing all the things we never get to know about loss until we are in it and it hurts way too much.  She's helping us to know how to be better friends, better neighbors, better people of the world the next time someone in our community is struck with such a horror.  She has offered a window in to something so inexplicably painful and has not shied from sharing it all. 

She's basically doing her own Oprah interview since Oprah isn't doing that anymore.

I could write about this particular blog for a long time, and I am sure there are a lot of blogs similar to it, but I only read hers regularly.  I feel so connected to Anna now that she pops in to my mind at the most random of moments through the day...and I have never met her.   She has no idea who I am and I like thinking that my caring about her matters. 

(Anyone else think those last two sentences screamed, stalker!!!???  How many times have I tried to reassure you of my sound mental health in this post?)

I think of her and her son and it helps me to, sometimes, remember to tread lightly, be kind, and cherish what I have now. It takes me out of myself and I think we all need to do that more.

Quick side note:  This whole idea that I'm nuts for reading the sad stuff has been going through my head for weeks, but I finally decided just to write it out so all the other voices inside my head can get back to work.  You know?

If this is your first time reading, please check out this or this or this or this for my more usual posts. 

I won't tell you to go get sad all the time, just every third Wednesday.

I'm linking up to Shell's Things I Can't Say, Pour Your Heart Out!  Check it out here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I Can't Beat The Bouillon

Today, I walked around the corner of my island to find this on the floor.

Yep, my daughter found my bouillon cube jars, which even I can't usually find, and unwrapped all but five of the beef.   I can only assume she quit unwrapping because cubes of dried beef flavoring are foul and my daughter must have some taste.

I like to think she thought they were candy and tried to eat one or two of them, because that seems like a fitting punishment.  She was totally unphased when I asked her what had happened here, simply circling the crime and moving on to scatter more Legos around the house. 

She probably didn't care because she was too busy plotting how she was going to lock herself in the bathroom for 20 minutes to obsessively flush the toilet and scream, "Da Da!" while I frantically try to unlock the door.

Or she might have been working on her strategy for how to get to the entire box of graham crackers down from the pantry so she can eat no less than six full size crackers.

Or, maybe she remembered that she had filled her Hello Kitty backpack with all manner of crap from around the house (think used tissues and new tampons...I realize that could have been worse,) and needed to dump it, immediately, in the middle of the living room floor. 

I can not keep up.  I am never going to beat this girl.  She's always going to find the bouillon and lock herself in the bathroom and look crazy cute while taking a bath for something completely unpleasant like profound constipation.

There is grace though, I received registration materials for her mother's day out program for this fall, just this afternoon...as well as full financial approval for signing her up. 

Praise. The. Lord.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Is My Marriage Worth A Trashcan?

 I had every intention of posting last night, but then I got distracted thinking about my trash can.  I know it sounds like there is no way that could make sense, but it really does.  I'll elaborate.

When we moved in to our new house almost three years ago, I ordered a fancy motion activated trash can.  With a simple move of your hand over the lid it opened and allowed you to dump your waste in without any contact with the germ laden lid.  It was glorious. 

This might surprise you, but our house is pretty nasty sometimes. People are still not overly concerned with fecal matter, thorough hand washing post sandbox or penis touching is not a given, and I prepare a lot of chicken.  I could hose down our house with Purell once a day and there is still a good chance a black light would scare the hell out of all of us when it revealed the truth. 

I thought the no touch trash can was a step in the right direction, one nudge closer to sanitized bliss, all for the bargain Overstock.com price of $85.

Alex was unfortunately not as moved. 

Spending $85 on a trashcan just wasn't his idea of smart investing.  He wasn't moved by my argument that we would be saving thousands of dollars by avoiding illnesses like the flu and Ebola. 

Apparently he hadn't read The Hot Zone and been scared shit-less, so my arguments were useless on him.  I've thought about purchasing Contagion so that it could be playing continuously through the house to increase his fear, but I'm not even sure he would care.  He's like a robot.

He was slightly influenced by the cool factor, but unfortunately he just doesn't care about being cool.  It's so weird.  I have been trying to understand this for years, but he isn't influenced by other people's opinions of him.  We are working through it as a couple, but I fear he might not ever really care in his heart. 

Once Alex got over the cost and he spent some time with it though, we both enjoyed the trash can.  It was a small, but intense joy every time one of us had to throw something away.  I never worried about touching the lid with my chicken juices and killing my family.  Every guest that had to throw something away commented on how fun it was, clearly they were impressed and amused...a winning combination for people thinking we were cool.  We had everything we ever wanted. 

We were really happy.

After a few months though the batteries were running out every few weeks due to everyone's amusement with it.  D Batteries aren't cheap, even at Costco, and the strain on our finances made us protective and selfish with throwing stuff away.  Suggestions were made about having a small trash can next to the larger one to minimize the number of times we needed to open it.  I found myself yelling at the boys when I thought they were playing with it, often just throwing something away.

What had we become?

Then one day, a mere six months after it arrived at our doorstep, it just stopped working. No change in batteries or resetting the power could restore the sensor mechanism to it's original glory.  We were devastated, obviously.

We didn't feel like we could just throw it out, so we continued to use it.  There is a small finger grip to pull up the lid and that became our regular method of opening.  That was two years ago and nothing has been the same since.  It's so disgusting.

Each time we have to throw something away we are struck with the nastiness of our family's waste.  While cooking dinner I am convinced that I am going to infect my family with a strain of bacteria so powerful we wouldn't be able to fight it.  I mean, who knows how much funk is growing in that little finger grip?  It's so small and filled with little crevices that I can't even actually clean it properly. 

I spray it with Clorox Clean-Up as often as I can, but I am confident there are germs in there laughing at me.  I can actually hear them.

Any trip to the trash can is immediately followed by a hand washing, or at least it was until we became exhausted by it and progressively more and more apathetic in our fear.  We've come to the point where we accept the funk  as part of throwing things away.  It doesn't mean we don't care about what's happening there, we just had to find a way to not obsess over it with each toss of a paper towel so we could live our lives.   

Last summer, I started dreaming of something better for my family.  I found the trashcan to beat all trashcans for us.  It opens via a sturdy, classic foot pedal, no longer relying on the fancy electronic mechanisms that had betrayed us in our current model.  It has a trash bin AND a recycle bin so that our recycling items no longer have to pile on the counter, waiting for someone to be so annoyed with them that they carry them to the garage. 

It's beautiful.  A perfect stainless rectangle, substantial, but not obnoxious.  I love it.

 I want it.  I need it. I am spending way too many hours thinking about this trashcan.  I Google it often, examining and reexamining it's features.  I dream about having it in the kitchen with me, a solid and reliable addition to our family.  I know it wouldn't let me down like the current one we have.

So what's holding me back? 

This trashcan is $180.  ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY FREAKIN' DOLLARS!!! 

I've been tracking Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons for months to see if there is any way I could trick this trashcan in to coming home with me for less.  The least amount of money I can get it for is $140. 

This just feels wrong. 

Every week I tell myself I am going to take $140 out of our cash expenses and just buy it.  I know I would love it.  I know I'd feel so much more confident that we'd never be infected with worms or salmonella if this were in our house.  I know we would be happier, obviously, but $140 is a lot of money. 

I thought about taking some of my Christmas money to purchase it, but then I found all those shoes I wanted, and a watch, and my appearance suddenly seemed more important than our trash can.  I stand behind my decision to look good instead of have the trash can, but now I'm still thinking about it. 

Will this ever me mine?  Will our fear of nasty germs every time we throw something away ever leave us?  Will we ever be able to hold our heads high again when a house guest asks us where the trash can is? 

Should I just go buy it? 

Do you think Alex would leave me for spending $140 on a trashcan when he couldn't get over spending $85?

Do you think it would be worth the sacrifice of my marriage?

I think I might think it is.  I need that trashcan.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Can You Just Lie On The Floor And Still Be A Good Mom?

This afternoon was one of those times that I was simultaneously bored out of my mind and couldn't find a moment to do anything remotely close to productive....unless you count Twitter.   These blocks of time are painful as a stay at home Mom. 

I was actually in the mood to play with Cole and Stella, Aiden was playing at a friend's house after school, but neither of them were in interested in doing anything with me.  I blame Stella's lack of interest in my awesomeness on her recent tendency to fall on her head.  I blame Cole's lack of interest in hanging out with me on his, well, Cole-ness.  That kid is sort of weird....in a good way.

I was continuously tempted to abandon my efforts to bond with my two youngest children in order to get a few things done, but little things kept calling me back to them.  Those things were laziness, a profound disinterest in folding laundry, and Stella and Cole's ability to start fighting over anything. 

I finally laid on the floor of my sun room and just waited to see where the next unsettling sound would come from, so I would know where I was needed.  You might be thinking I was lying on the floor and looking at a magazine or flipping through the Twitter feed, or checking my email, but you would be wrong.  I honestly was lying on my back and staring at the ceiling, alternating between thinking about how much I miss my dog and wondering how I can remove chewed gum from my carpet.

I sort of felt like an apathetic mother. My parenting was excessively permissive and I was definitely absent.  Given Stella's recent unpredictable behavior, this was probably not a solid decision, but we can't all be amazing mothers every single moment, right?  Wait...right? 

First, I heard screams from Cole's room.  I went back to find Cole trying to put Stella on to the ladder of his bunk bed. This is probably not good.  I removed Stella, told Cole to not pick her up, tried to get them to play with me, and then returned to my lying down spot.

Second, I heard a weird rustling sound coming from the kitchen.  Periodically Stella would squeal.  Let's be clear, squealing without supervision is bad.

Next, I heard NOTHING.  This is the most feared of sounds as a Mom with two children under four roaming around.  I peeled myself off the floor, because I'm a curious woman, and went to hunt out some kids. I found Stella coloring,  her feet.  This didn't really phase me because she usually colors things like the wall when I am not around and I'm totally willing to sacrifice her skin in order to not further the destruction of my home.  The drawings on her feet will come off after a bath, or four.

I couldn't find Cole though...and then I heard that familiar sound of Angry Birds coming from his closet.  Yep, my iPad had been confiscated and there was unapproved gaming going on, hidden gaming. I totally ignored it. 


I looked at the clock and it was almost 5:00  5:00 means time to make dinner, baths can be had, a mental light at the end of the day tunnel, and wine can be poured without feeling weird or unstable. 

Or, more unstable.  Wait, why do I wait until 5:00? 

Cole was occupied with books (because I'm really in to education and do a really good job with my children, clearly,) but I hadn't seen Stella since she tried to shove me off the toilet while I peed earlier. She had said "yes," when I asked her if she had to go potty earlier and then she ran off. 


I rounded the corner to the kids' bedrooms and heard a constant flushing sound coming from their bathroom.  Stella, had unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper on the floor, and then did this with another one....

Oh sweet Lord, I think I need to get up off the floor and force the kids to do something with me, or at least fold the laundry.  Tomorrow. I'll definitely not lie on the floor tomorrow. 



Linking Up To Proud Mommy Moments, hosted by Emmy and KMama.

Check out all the Proud Mommy posts!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Want To Be Here, Right?

Oh my morning. 

I didn't sleep much last night.  Cole had a tough time going to bed because of an alleged stuffy nose. Stella kept waking up, mostly content only when sleeping on top of me.  Cole woke twice in the middle of the night, screaming for things like tissue and water.  My alarm went off way too early.

I slipped out of bed, careful not to move Stella's finally peaceful body so I could go wake Aiden for another day of kindergarten. It feels particularly cruel to wake Aiden when he is so deep in sleep, so warm wrapped up in his comforter, and the only one that let me sleep all night. Surely I should be showering him with candy or something. It's one thing for me to have to drag myself out of bed without a natural finish to my rest, but at six you should be able to sleep as long as your little self needs.

I pull on well worn sweats and an old Purdue sweatshirt that best emulates the feeling of still being under the covers.  Alex makes the coffee and I pack lunches, make breakfast, and prod Aiden along in the string of morning tasks he has to accomplish quickly in order to make the bus.  He never minds having to hurry a bit, he just keeps forgetting that it's necessary.  My slippers, slightly sticky, make a little sound with every move I make around the kitchen, this is an annoying reminder that I really need to clean, but my feet strongly oppose direct exposure to the cool wood floor. 

As Aiden goes to brush his teeth, I finish making Alex's lunch and say a quick prayer of gratitude that Stella and Cole are still asleep.  I allow myself a moment to day dream about going back to bed after the bus, or even just sitting in the stillness of the house, but quickly push these thoughts out of my mind.  I don't want to feel annoyed when one of them wakes up, and conjuring up scenarios where they give me prolonged peace is a fast track to disappointment, best to just assume they will be up any minute.
I watch Alex walk around in his shirt and tie, his perfectly combed hair.  I pick sleep out of my eye and run my hand along the worn elastic of my sweatshirt bottom, it's cozy, but I feel more bag lady than cozy mom in comparison to my husband's striking appearance. Some mornings I would prefer he worked somewhere that did not require him to look so damn good, it hurts my self esteem. 

I wonder if the parks department is hiring any of those guys that blow the leaves in the park near our house, and pick up trash.  He would be so good at picking up trash.

I contemplate going to put on "real" clothes so I can stop feeling so envious of my husband's, but then I remember I'm supposed to be going to the gym and the thought of tight workout pants and a sports bra right now sounds as nice as tying a bunch of rubber bands around myself. 

(That doesn't sound nice at all to me, just to be clear.)
I seek coffee.  I don't like coffee, but I drink about a 1/4 of a cup, heavily laden with flavored soy milk just to feel warm and wake up slightly.  As I walk to the coffee maker, Alex is walking out the door to take Aiden to the bus stop and informs me the filter fell forward in the machine and the coffee is filled with grounds.  I groan, because I'm mature, and he tells me not to worry about remaking it, he'll just stop at Starbucks.

How nice for him.

I make the tiniest amount of coffee I can and wonder who would hire me so that I could walk out the door in the morning too, popping in to Starbucks on my way.  I would require a job in which I had to dress up, at least most days, and I romanticize my shopping trips to purchase fun things like a pencil skirt and wide leg dress pants and blouses. 

Love the word blouses, so much potential.

Now that Alex is gone, I take a moment to marvel at the silence in my house.  Two sleeping children, one on a bus to school, and a husband on his way to buy himself a $5 cup of coffee in his fancy clothes.  It's 7:00 and this is peaceful, this seems worth waking up for, even after a night of so little sleep.
I pull out my computer and think of searching Monster.com for jobs, listed by apparel required, but then I remember I would probably have to actually finish writing a resume and Good Morning America is on so why torture myself.  Maybe someone will just come find me for a job, demanding to see my Pinterest style board and my blog of absurdity to evaluate my qualifications. It could happen, and I would be ready. 

My Pinterest board is filled with outfits I would wear to work to meet with editors, pr people, the media....in the Pinterest world I am a very successful writer with such a magnetic personality that people also pay me to just hang out with them. I can also afford coffee and babysitters.

Good Morning America only bores me, though I do love the way they all have to dress, perhaps I could be a weather woman or a morning show anchor...do you have to have a specific degree for those?  I took the LSAT in 2003, would that count as something? 

It's 7:45 and my youngest babies are still cozy, warm in their beds after a rough night of sleep and  I am grateful for that. They have so many hectic mornings ahead, it's sort of a gift to be able to let them make the timeline for now.  I feel the all too familiar emotions of being extremely grateful for this time for them and not being able to squash my desire to have a little more time away, to do adult things, earn adult money, and have adult conversations.

(To be clear, all my "adult" things do not include anything scandalous because I am listing them as adult, they just don't include people that ask me to feed them and bathe them.)

It isn't my time though and I can't be caught up in that.  Now is my home time.  Now is my rock the babies, and calm the tantrums, and distribute the snacks, and read in a big comfy chair time.  I wouldn't want anyone else to have this time with them.  I don't want them feeling sad or wanting to cuddle or having their firsts anywhere but with me....but some days I could really use a pencil skirt, a pop in at Starbucks without ordering a Horizon boxed milk, and a task that requires me to stretch my brain rather than put it on pause.

I think if we could just get Alex that job at the park, I wouldn't be reminded of the contrast so often between my current place and the place I think looks appealing every now and then.  There is a good chance though that if he starts blowing leaves and picking up trash, my opportunity to sit on the couch admiring Robin Roberts' dress until 8:15 when I am greeted by these two, would simply never happen.

I guess he should keep his fancy clothes and continue to be the one that runs out the door at 7:00, and I suppose he should get Starbucks whenever he pleases.  It's not my time to be that one, and I think I am actually mostly grateful about that. 

(Though I would really like to have somewhere to where a pencil skirt.)

This is my stay here time, my feel pangs of jealousy of the working masses time, my baby time...and I'm told it's going to fly by so I better get to it.  Ovaltine anyone?

Linking Up to Shell's Pour Your Heart Out!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Let's Go To An Art Exhibit! Wait, Why Are You Crying?

Before I was a Mom, and even when Aiden was a baby, I had visions of taking my children on all sorts of fun outings.  We would go out for ice cream, visit museums, attend plays, linger in parks, and probably discuss current events over lattes, all while smiling blissfully at how awesome one another was for simply existing. 

Then I started taking my kids out in public.  I realized they can quickly rain on any joy parade I have laid out, through all sorts of strategic sabotage, and that despite my best efforts I don't really like lattes, it's failure all over the place. 

Since my realization that outings, by myself, with my kids are, more often than not, excruciatingly painful, we don't do much.  There is school, a periodic trip to the grocery or friends house, and just recently there are lessons and practices to attend, otherwise I am going to need back up to make an attempt at "enjoying" the outside world with my kids.

Thursday afternoon though I received an email from the Austin Children's Museum about things happening around town for the kids.  One of the highlighted events was the Architects of Air exhibit at the downtown performing arts center.  The picture intrigued me and the description about stimulating your child's imagination and enhancing their sense of wonder had me yearning to do just that for my children.  This could be the outing that changed all of their lives.

Check these photos out from the architects of air website.  You can see the whole site here.

Aiden would be so moved that he would become an architect, just like George Kastanza always wanted to be.  Cole's imagination would explode and he would begin writing his Pulitzer prize winning novel at the age of FIVE!  Stella would be so moved by the beauty of the display that her lifelong dream of becoming an artist would begin as a result of this one magical outing her mother orchestrated out of love.

I was going to be the BEST MOTHER EVER!

I still had my reservations though.  Taking three kids in to the city for a large art exhibit, by myself, made my stomach get a little nervous. A good portion of me is simply...chicken.

I couldn't get it off my mind though.  That pre-kid optimism could not be beat down.  I am capable.  I can handle anything. I've changed explode-up-your-back poop diapers in tiny airplane bathrooms over the ocean while sweating and comforting a toddler crying at my legs.  I am a bad ass. 

I decided to leave it up to fate.  If Stella woke up from her nap in time for me to pick Aiden up early from school before I got Cole, we were heading to cultured enlightenment and all around exciting living.  If she slept until when I had to pick up Cole, we would ride bikes and eat popcorn on the driveway and draw our own art in chalk.

Stella took a horrible nap and woke up crazy early, which was sort of a mixed signal but I decided to go for it.

I raced to get Aiden, calling school the school on the way to have him in the office and ready to go.  It was a mere hour before school ended, but the MaryAnn in me was shaking in my boots over the idea of taking him out early for a cultural experience.

I got Aiden through the door of the school and he immediately burst in to tears.  I couldn't quite understand what he was saying through his sobs, making it impossible to comprehend why he was so upset.  Surely he was going to be elated once I told him we were going to an art exhibit!

I soon found out that I was forcing him to miss recess.  He was devastated. He informed me that he wasn't going to have recess again for...days!!!!!!!!!  The sobbing continued all the way to Cole's preschool. He didn't even stop long enough to ask me what an exhibit was, he really was traumatized.

After picking up Cole though, he was able to focus on the bigger picture.  He stopped crying and turned his attention to Cole's claims of being the tallest person on Earth.  Cole repeated this claim over and over again while Aiden grew more and more frustrated with the absurdity of it all.  More tears.

Once Aiden admitted defeat to Cole's determination to be the tallest person on Earth, both boys bored of that argument and began to fight about whether or not you HAD to sit down to pee when you have a penis.  These types of arguments occur with great regularity in our family, Cole claims to read minds, Cole insists he can fly, Cole can read, etc., and I do my best to stay out of it because it only fuels the insanity when I chime in.

(By the way, Cole has a serious future as the top bullshitter of something.  He is fierce.)

I think my fears about the huge undertaking I had embarked on were rising to the surface as the sit versus stand debate ensued in the back of the van.  Why did I think I could take these kids in to the city by self....for culture?  I couldn't resist and found myself shouting things like, "It's OK for some boys to wipe when they pee!"  OR "If you have a penis you ARE a boy.  No one with a penis is a girl, even if they sit down!"  OR "It's a vagina, not pagina and NO, it wasn't ever a penis." 

This is how they are damaging my brain.

People were all over the front lawn of the center, and the huge Architects of Air display was prominently featured right next to the building.  Signs for the exhibit were everywhere, each containing the words, "TODAY'S EXHIBIT SOLD OUT." 


I was crushed.  The boys...not so much.  Their only concern was that they both had to go to the bathroom immediately, probably spurred by their sit vs. stand argument.

I quickly regrouped and made peace with their lack of culture, this situation called for ice cream.  I navigated to the ice cream shop, waited five minutes for a Mini Cooper to vacate their spot so I could squeeze in my minivan and my envy at their cool car, and then all held hands while walking to get our ice cream and bathroom break. 

As we walked in to the empty ice cream shop, the employees immediately wanted to help us.  I let them know we'd be right back to order, smiling and pointing to the boys, "we need to make a quick restroom stop first."

"Oh.....lady that is NOT happening.  Our toilet has been clogged for the last week. I could try to fix it, but it would take me forever.  I think the closest restroom is down the street at the diner next to the tattoo place.  Why are you looking at me like I'm crazy?  I'm totally serious."

Why am I looking at you like you're crazy?!?!?!  This is a freakin' ice cream shop.  Kids flock here.  You serve food and drinks, how could you have an inoperable toilet for a week?  If it's going to take you forever to fix it, then call someone else that will take less than a week asshole!!!!

"No, not crazy, just a little frustrating.  Where is that diner?"  I am so polite.

I hike it around the corner to the hippest diner I have been in....ever.  No one is over 40 or under 25 and there could basically be a photo shoot that day for my InStyle Magazine.  The entire restaurant could fit in my living room because it's so tight and the hostess is intimidatingly beautiful, with tattoos and a nose ring. 

I am not often this intimidated asking to use the restroom, but I find myself shocked and so out of place it's ridiculous.  I fumble over my words, "Hi!  We were supposed to be at the Long Center, but the exhibit is sold out and well, I have all these kids, so we came to get ice cream and my boys have to go to the bathroom and the ice cream place has a clogged toilet." 

Seriously, I'm just happy I resisted telling her I too once had a nose ring....and my pride. 

She was very kind and pointed me back to the restrooms.  Wait.  She showed me to the restroom, singular.  One stall with a little sink outside in an excruciatingly small waiting area. Yep, Aiden, Cole, Stella, myself, and a stroller shoved ourselves in to the single restroom for this cool establishment in which we had no right to be. 

I did my death whisper to the boys, making them swear they only had to pee.  Aiden went first and wasn't in there two minutes before I heard him ask me for wipes through the door.  "Are you POOPING Aiden?" 

"I have to Mommy."

I attempted to muster my best Mom self and cheerfully told him to try to hurry...which is simply absurd because Aiden might be able to shower in less than three minutes, but pooping is going to take no less than 10.

The first stranger opens the door, hits Stella's stroller, sees all of us, and promptly leaves.

Cole begins crying because he really has to pee.  Stella has started to crab her crotch and pull on her diaper so that she too can participate in the fun of sitting on the public toilet. I suddenly feel that I have to pee and feel unsure about my ability to hold it with all the chaos around me.

Cole begins singing American Pie.

Second stranger opens the door, hits Stella's stroller, sees all of us, gasps, and promptly leaves.

I gently urge Aiden to hurry and he reassures me that he has just started wiping, only five more minutes!  He's having trouble folding the wipes in to perfect squares after each wipe and he's concerned that there isn't a full length mirror in the actual stall that he can bend over in front of to confirm that he's gotten it all.  Yep, this is what I'm dealing with here.

Stella is attempting to kiss the full length mirror and Cole is copying her while confusing the lyrics and singing mostly about whiskey now.  I now have one child compulsively wiping and two making out with themselves in the mirror.  I'm sweating.

Third stranger opens the door, hits Stella's stroller, sees all of us, tells her daughter they are going to have to think of something else, and promptly leaves.

Aiden is done!

Cole heads in to the stall and Aiden washes his hands while Stella freaks out that I'm not lifting her up to wash hers as well.  I'm a really bad Mom.

Cole finishes quickly, though takes five minutes to pull up his underwear and shorts and then figure out how to open the door. 

Cole washes his hands while Aiden tries to climb over the stroller, because he is incapable of acting sane unless strapped to a chair these days, and Stella is attempting to shove Cole out of the way so she can be closer to the water he is dripping on the floor.

I curse my desire for culture and a city experience, decide I would rather pee my pants than wait another moment in that bathroom, and we all stumble out, sweaty and frustrated. 

We make it back through the restaurant, down the street, and successfully order ice cream....which they surprisingly did actually have in stock and ready for us. The ice cream eating went very well.  Everyone sat down. Everyone was happy.  No one needed anything.  It was a fantastic five minutes.

I decided we needed to head home immediately to avoid traffic.  Unfortunately, Stella was devastated to be leaving the electric meters she had been playing with and threw a massive tantrum.  I carried her under my arm, pushed the stroller and yelled at the boys all the way to the parking area, where two other cars were waiting for me to move my giant minivan. 

There was honestly no end to the uncool moments during all of this.

Stella squirmed out of my arms, attempted to climb on the stroller while I was getting my key, and fell to the concrete, on her head, creating a giant mark on her forehead. Awesome. I picked her up and tried for ten minutes to strap her in to her car seat without success.  Aiden was finally able to convince her to sit down and my ego was once again deflated when my six year old out-parented me. 

All I wanted was a few minutes of cultural enlightenment for myself and my kids and instead we had potty talk, potty time, and a head injury.

We pulled on to the highway to head home and were immediately in stand still traffic.  When we hadn't moved more than a few miles after about fifteen minutes, I exited and decided we were going to a park that we used to frequent before our move to the burbs. 

We stayed for two hours. 

The boys ran off and fought boys in school uniforms with large sticks.  (I really just didn't want to know.)  Stella was content to swing, until she met a one year old boy and his really annoying Dad and then she mostly just wanted to be with them...and I was OK with that.

Well, I was OK with that until I ran in to a sorority sister from Purdue, so joyfully random, and forced Stella to pretend to want to be with me again and swing some more. We talked and it was relaxing.  The boys moved on to peeing on the public restroom because the toilets were clogged (Austin might have a serious problem here,) and fighting only one another with big sticks. 

I had such expectations of what fun the entire art exhibit was going to be.  I was excited to see my children experience something different and outside of our normal world.  I was so disappointed when most of our day revolved around tears and bathrooms and being uncomfortable....but the park? 

Well, it was 70 degrees and no one cried the whole time we were there.  We'd been there a million times and it felt very low on the scale of cultural impact, particularly when my boys dropped their pants to urinate on a building, but it ended up pretty great. 

Will I be making great efforts to take them on another outing by myself soon?

Hell no....but I sure am grateful we had a peaceful car ride home instead of another trip filled with fights about whether the word is rhyme or rhine, or if Aiden can actually run faster at night than he can during the day. 

Seriously, when do these types of arguments stop and when am I going to be mature enough to not participate?  I should try go to more cultural events, maybe that would help.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

There Are The Sweetest Girls In My Church Restroom

Since Sunday, I've been trying to figure out a way to work this story in to a post without it sounding like I'm a conceited bitch.  I've abandoned that goal and I'm just going to tell you because I keep thinking about it and well, this is sort of my space to dump it all out.

While reaching for a paper towel in the ladies room at church, a young teen who I had seen staring at me while washing our hands, looked me in the eyes and said, "you are really pretty." 

I was shocked.  First, most teen girls I knew wouldn't feel comfortable saying this to someone, and second, she thought I was pretty!!!!!  I was unfortunately so stunned that instead of thanking her and immediately returning the compliment, I only said, "Wow.  Thank you." 

Now, clearly this young woman is intelligent and most likely has a future as a model scout or rare art dealer, so she knows what she's talking about in the realm of beauty, but she couldn't have been a day over 15...so why am I still thinking about that compliment five days later?  It isn't like Tyra Banks plucked me out of the congregation as a must have in her next how-pretty-can-you-look-while-acting-like-a-caged-animal compettion, which I am now confident I would win.  I wasn't stopped by Justin Timberlake so he could write a quick song about my breathtaking gray roots, not that it couldn't have happened, he just wasn't there. 

Seriously though, why did it mean so much that this little girl found me pretty?

I feel like I'm reasonably normal looking. I don't obesses over my appearance, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't care.  I use wrinkle cream and when we had money I would get a facial every now and then and have my hair colored. I have been known to change my clothes two or ten times before going out at night, but that's mostly just because I am so excited to get out of the house without my children.

I have been told previously that I'm pretty, but there was something else to this for me. When I worked at The Hula Hut here in Austin, many a male patrons were free with their compliments, and their advances, after one too many cocktails. But, being hit on by intoxicated males is no great victory. 

(Unless you are counting the time I was hit on by one in particular that currently sleeps beside me every night.)

My husband, from time to time, will tell me I'm pretty, but I think that's in the contract.  Aiden is always quick to say I look nice when I put on something other than jeans or my running clothes.  Strangers though?  No, strangers don't throw out things like that to me anymore.  I'm the Mom.

In my youth, before I had kids that is, I felt pretty, but now I only feel that in tiny, fleeting moments on a good hair day.  It's difficult to see or even find in that bathroom mirror when I am getting ready to go to the grocery store, preschool pick up, or something equally glamorous.  I don't even think I think much about it anymore.

I still get dressed.  I still put on makeup and comb my hair.  I care in that I like to feel put together, but I'm not devoting energy to it.  There's way too much other stuff going on around here, and I don't know that I would want to exhaust myself if I did have the time. 

I feel confident and content with myself, but pretty?  Well, pretty seems self indulgent, youthful, and demanding of more than the 10 mintues I have to spend trying to apply makeup while fighting off Stella's pleas for mascara, blush, lotion, ANYTHING that comes out of the mysterious makeup drawer. 

I look in the mirror and find spots on my face that appeared and darkened with each baby.  I find a never ending cycle of graying hair, which requires more time and money than I currently have to treat it.  I find small, deflated breasts that have become more and more amusing/sad each time I finished nursing. Despite trips to the gym, I still find too much junk in my trunk...and the junk jiggles a lot.

The truth is though, I don't think about a lot of those things.  Well, I don't think about them much. I'm OK with it all.  I think I'm gratefult that those are my biggest complaints right now. I have been dealt a good deal with what I have, but often feel like that what I have been given in going fast or simply ignored because there are too many little people around here that need inner, more important good than the pretty.

I think what struck me so much about that young girl's compliment was that instead of ignoring the way I look this week, too busy or too apathetic to care about my appearance, she made me feel...pretty, and it felt sort of fantastic.  I think I will forever remember the way that girl looked at me, how emphatically she spoke.  Perhaps she was high, or on some sorority dare, and my ability to judge younger ages now is more jacked up than my roots, but she made my week.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Is This When It's OK to Sedate Your Daughter?

I am losing my mind.  I don't recall 19 months being this painful with the boys.  Is it always this bad?  Am I always this paralyzed by the constant need, the chaos, the challenge?

The number of times I thought about placing Stella on Craigslist today were countless.  If I weren't harboring such negative feelings for Craig, I might have done it. (You can read about those here if you are brave enough.)

Wait...they have a black market for kids on that website, right? 

I'm kidding Mom.  (And CPS.)

Stella is at the most adorable of ages.  She has funny, fluffy hair that looks heart stopping cute in pigtails.  She has a dimply butt, in a good way.  She loves a game of peek-a-boo.  She dances and sings. She runs funny.  It's cute, it's all cute...until it's just not.

I have been blown away by the joy of having a little girl, the sweet bliss of being able to experience having a daughter.  Since day one it has been different than the boys.  She has a serious shoe obsession, goes crazy for lotion, and already started acting like a total spaz for attention when her big brothers' friends are over....I am dedicating a solid hour of prayer a week to her brother's abilities to scare their friends in to leaving their little sister alone.

She's my baby girl...she's driving me nuts.

I can't go to the bathroom without her climbing on to the dining room table and destroying whatever is within her reach.  Today I locked her in the bathroom with me and she managed to climb on a stool, reach onto my husband's cabinet, pull over a razor (with cover), and fall and bump her head on the bottom of the pedestal sink.  She is beyond my capabilities of confinement. 

I need a dog crate, or a super gate, or some sort of leash. 

(Are those leashes still considered inhumane or is that cool now that we're all receiving information on every horrible thing that can happen to our kids in 4,000 different forms of media?  Only at amusement parks and airports?  I need some guidance here.)

She pulls everything out of every drawer.  There are q-tips EVERYWHERE.  I can not keep Alex's socks in his drawers.  Do not get me started on our efforts to keep the Lego situation in check, she's simply too skilled at destruction for us to fight it.

She walks by a pile of freshly folded towels and simply grabs three hand towels to go stuff in her adorable princess training potty that sings every time something is put inside it...except when she has pooped and peed in it.  What up Fisher Price?

She will not eat any fruit, other than applesauce if we are even counting that as fruit during these desperate times, but she'll go to town on the dried pasta and beans in my decorative island drawer fronts that have been sitting for over 3 years now.  She is actually eating these dried, over aged decorations, but a strawberry?  Well, that's disgusting.

She smiles and touches outlets, laughing when we say no.  She freaks out unless her baby doll is laid next to her in her crib for all sleep. She climbs on picnic tables and pretends to be running to the edge. She eats almonds...and then after she has chewed five and hidden them in her cheek, she spits them in the toy basket she just dumped out and climbed in, and starts to cry because she doesn't like chewed almond bits on her. 

For the love of God I am in over my head. 

I thought matching bloomers to sundresses was confusing, and figuring out baby hair baffled me for well over a week, but this?  This is insanity. 

Is this the future?  Is she ever going to stop pushing the limit, seeking danger, and taking off her diaper?  Do we have a future Footloose type situation in the works?  Am I going to banning dancing and singing in our home in an effort to control my wild child daughter?  Today is it open mouth kisses to pretty much anyone, and in 15 years will it be open mouth kisses to pretty much anyone just to piss us off?

I am exhausted.  I can't cook dinner, make a snack, or look at a loaf of bread without her clinging to my legs and wailing in desperation for me to pick her up and feed her, but not any vegetables or fruit. She climbs on the office chair and bangs on my keyboard if I so much as look at my computer while she is awake. She is hell bent on everything being about her around here...and she is totally succeeding. 

She really is cute though, and knows how to work it.  She can put on a pout, act shy, or stare down a stranger at the grocery store until they are under her spell.  She is danger folks.  Beware.

I bet I could get a lot for her on Craigslist....but wow, she is melt-your-heart adorable too. 

I guess I'll retain my loathing of Craigslist and hold off on getting rid of her right now.  Seriously though, a leash?  A baby back pack?  A sedative? Empty my house of anything climbable, edible (except fruits and veggies,) sharp, or remotely interesting? 

I'll keep planning for Footloose, but in the meantime we need some prayers for my patience.

Linking up to Shell's Things I Can't Say, Pour Your Heart Out Meme. Check it out here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Might Make Really Good Butter Cookies Dr. King, Seriously, It's a Recipe-ish

Over breakfast I attempted to explain to Aiden and Cole about why they had the day off school.  If you recall, race confuses my children. I wrote about it here

I like to think that they are so confused because they simply don't see skin color, but that's just a load of crap that people say.  Unless your children are blind, they see that people look different from one another.  It's important to talk about and celebrate the differences.

The book Nurtureshock says so....what choice do we have?

Aiden was actually very interested in learning about why his school is closed today and why the man with the gloves has a giant statue in DC, a holiday where things close, and a passion for letting people ride in the front of the bus....despite the fact that it's way more cool to ride in the back. 

Was that guy just confused?

Martin Luther King is definitely worth celebrating, no question, but wouldn't someone like Dr. King really want all the kids in school to celebrate and learn about him rather than partially attempting to listen to their Mom explain the horror of racial inequality while playing the Wii or fighting over who thought of the rule to the new jumping game? 

(Sidenote:  The new jumping game would probably just piss Martin Luther King off.  My boys line up coins they have found around our house and see who can jump to the next line of coins. I'm not sure what the goal is, or if a winner could be determined, even if my boys didn't fight over everything.single.thing.  He's probably shaking his head and wondering why these little while kids don't have any inspiration, wasting all their advantages.  I agree Martin, but I think it might be because they aren't in school today, and who's fault is that?)

Since we do have a holiday though, we should probably make something.  I mean, if the kids were in school there would surely be a party which would required me to sign up to bring some form of snack or, at the very least a 12 pack of juice boxes. I mean, what would Dr. King do? 

Did you say make cookies?  Well, I think you might be right.

I think that's what Ruth from Allrecipes.com would do too, since she wrote this recipe. She's smart.  I bet she loves all colors of people...at least while she's eating these gems.

Dear Dr. King,

First and foremost, I want you to know that I personally respect and admire you.  Your work is beyond inspirational, it is life altering, humbling, and worthy of the highest form of recognition.  Due to your profound impact on racial equality and the thoughts and lives of millions of people, across many generations past, present, and future, I felt it would only be appropriate to share with you my recipe for low fat butter cookies. 

What higher form of flattery could I possibly offer?

I'm going to disregard the fact that you are no longer alive, it just doesn't seem pivotal in the realm of your impact, or in cookie making.  Agreed? 

First things first though, I am desperate to hear your opinion on the fact that your well deserved National Day of recognition is celebrated by closing schools.  I like to think that this sort of pisses you off, as it does me. I know you had kids, nothing should be celebrated by having more time with them except Christmas and their birthday.

I admit that sleeping until almost 8:00 this morning was something of a miracle, making me feel very celebratory, however is this really giving the most impact to our children's knowledge of who you were?  I did discuss you this morning over breakfast, but I am embarrassed to say that we didn't get much past Aiden's deep set belief that the coolest people ride in the back of the bus so he doesn't understand what all the fuss was about "brown" people riding back there.  Doesn't that just mean they are cool? 

Our conversation did delve slightly deeper than bus seating charts but I'm sorry to say that it was not what I would consider a success. I think at one point I was comparing slaves to blenders and Aiden and Cole couldn't get over the fact that Tractor must have been hanging out with Abraham Lincoln and fighting against Daddy in Texas.  My deepest apologies.

I simply didn't know where to begin to break all that apart, especially since Stella had just taken her diaper off and pooped on the floor of the bathroom, (I count that as almost potty trained.)  I apologize for failing to come even close to delivering your message, but once I am forced to explain times in which different people lived to kids that have yet to grasp exactly what next week means, I'm in way over my head. 

I did clean up the poop with 100% accuracy though, I have some skills.

Do you like low fat butter cookies?

Here's what you need to make the cookies:

1 cup butter, softened - that's right, two whole sticks. This might confuse you given the name "low fat" butter cookies, but really I just added the low fat to make you feel better.  Though, since being assassinated, saturated fat isn't probably high on your list of fears.  It's true though, I could have packed four sticks in rather than two. That's half the fat and people today really care about that....and racial equality of course.

3/4 cup sugar - not even a full cup!
1 egg - they are basically nature cookies
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk

You could not frost these, but then you would be making a huge mistake. I don't think you make big mistakes.  Add the frosting.

And preheat your oven to 375. 

Since my conversation didn't go super well with the boys this morning, I have decided we are going in a different direction.  We are going to have a movie marathon to illustrate the point.  I'm thinking of showing Roots, followed by Boyz In The Hood (perhaps not traditional, but Cuba Gooding Junior and Lawrence Fishburne really were fantastic, and anything with Ice Cube should be celebrated.)  I figure we'll pop popcorn and snuggle while we watch The Help to show that white women can be really stupid and mean when required to play bridge all day and wear slips. 

You really do deserve cookies though, let's get those all fixed up. 

First, you need to take out your hand mixer and cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg together. Do you have a hand mixer? 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.  Add approximately 1/2 cup mixture for the time it takes you to say two of your famous quotes....those are really good by the way, even Google used them on their homepage today.  Congratulations!  You've really made it.

Once the flour and butter mixtures are combined, take out your cookie press.  What?  You don't have a cookie press?  After all your mass organization of marches and peaceful protests, no one ever gave you a cookie press thank you gift?  You passed too soon Dr. King.

The truth is, I don't have one either.  The first time I read this recipe all the way through was while I was actually already preparing the cookies.  I bet you were a more thorough sort of person though, more prepared than I. 

There is still hope Dr. King.  If you were to be able to find a cookie press, and I'm confident almost anyone sane that owns one would give it to you immediately upon request, because who could deny a dead human rights activist of your stature and fame, you can choose your cookie shape and begin however that works.

For the less famous of us though, not having a cookie press is just part of the harsh reality we encounter every day.  I was able to simply press the dough with my hands and then use a cookie cutter to cut out my desired shape.  I may be white, but you just can't say I haven't suffered.

I almost hate to tell you this Dr. King, but Cole and Aiden just told me they are going on a hike in the back yard.  It sounds great and imaginative, they even have backpacks and hiking sticks, but Cole informed me that their mission is to kill the Indians.  Apparently my conversation about equality and ethnicity needs even more work than I thought.

In my defense, their only weapons are a wooden sword and an old rake.  The Indians would totally kick their asses if this were actually some sort of a fight...not that I would ever allow them to actually fight a minority in our back yard, what is this, Columbus Day?

How did this become about Christopher Columbus?  Back to the cookies. 

Once you have the shapes you want, put them on an ungreased cookie sheet and put them in the preheated oven for 6-8 minutes.  Remove them when they are set and immediately move them to a cooling rack.

After you make the frosting and the cookies have cooled you can frost them and then eat them because they are so soft, buttery, and delicious...like racial equality.

Currently Aiden has Stella and Cole sitting next to him on the picnic table and he's pretending to read the Bible.  Maybe there is some good here.

Enjoy your cookies.  We'll keep celebrating you, and you keep doing whatever it is you get to do now. 

Are cookies a big part of your life? I don't see how they could not be.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nit, Gnat, Note

I received an email from Cole's teacher a little while ago stating that someone in the class had nits in their hair.  She was quick to point out this wasn't eggs or lice, which is good news, but now I'm left wondering what in the hell are nits?

Should I be more concerned? 

Are they akin to gnats?  If so then I think Cole's probably the carrier.  Remember all those half eaten bananas my parents left around?  Nothing draws the gnats like exposed banana. 

I checked Cole's hair and found nothing though, but I didn't really know what I was looking for in the first place, right?  I assume a small bug looking thing?  All I saw were hair and scalp while I was forced to listen to Cole's tale about how he thought bugs really were living in his hair because he heard them talking to him.

Should I be checking my child for multiple personalities or some form of crazy also?  If found would he still be permitted to attend pajama day tomorrow with Mother Goose? It's crucial that I have a break from the chatter all his people are giving me recently.  The child never, ever stops talking.   I listened to a 40 minute story while running errands today about a frog in the forest that had lasers and blew up rocks.  Oh. Dear. Lord.

Wait...could that be caused by nits?

It seems like I have a lot to Google.

One more quick story.

I can't believe I've been holding on to this gem for so long.  This hangs next to my bed, a reminder of what amazing kids I have, and how amazing I want to be for them. (Though I feel I deserve some sort of pass during their arguments over whether or not Cole can jump our six foot fence, or during a long explanation/narrative on the characters of Star Wars.)

While decorating for my birthday party, I became completely overwhelmed by the list of to-do's, the constant interruption my children were providing, and the dwindling clock which was making my stress level soar. Aiden bounced a ball right in to my work space and I completely snapped at him. I couldn't believe how harshly I told him to get away.

I felt awful.  I went to talk to him and apologized for the way I had spoken. He came to see me a few minutes later with this note.

Translation, "I forgive you 35 Mom.  I love you 35 Mom"  Repeat.

They sure do talk a lot and bounce balls at in appropriate times and test my every shred of patience and self control....but geez this sort of stuff is pretty amazing. 

Now, what's a nit?

By the way, if any of you are friends of mine on Facebook, apparently FB hasn't let me post anything other than photos on my wall for the last few weeks.  Would you mind reposting the link to the blog on your page?  I keep getting emails from people asking why I am not blogging anymore.  Spread the word, I do still exist! 

Well, as much as someone unable to share their Facebook status can exist.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just Because They Say "BM" Doesn't Mean I Don't Want Them Around People

A few people were slightly baffled by the mention of my parent's 25 day stay at my house in yesterday's post. Apparently this is not normal.  What?
I don't understand that at all.  Are there people that would not welcome their parents or in-laws to stay at their house for almost a month?  Does this not sound as blissful as I believe it to be?  Perhaps I should tell you my side of the story.
My parents live in the great state of Indiana.  The glorious state of John Cougar, Hoosiers, real seasons, proximity to other states without driving an entire day, David Letterman, chipmunks, The Children's Museum, and, well....their house. It's a pretty fantastic place.

The problem with Indiana is that it's a tad far from Central Texas. It's not easy for my parents just to drop by here.  There must be a certain amount of effort involved, and with my parents, there must be an enormous amount of effort involved in even the briefest of journeys.
My Father has to orchestrate which bills will be due during the time period in which they are gone and be sure he has written a check, created a log of which account that money will be taken out of, how it plays in to his projected budget, and calculate the cost of the stamp versus the cost of the mileage to deliver the bill in person.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  There also are neighbors to ask to check the house for...something, light timers to set, water to shut off, and plenty of generic cigarettes to purchase.

My Mother has to be sure to schedule her wash and set at the last possible moment so that she can minimize the number of times she will have to wash her hair and actually fix it herself here.  She also has a slew of appointments to reschedule with doctors, charitable organizations, bridge clubs, and book clubs, regardless of when she is leaving. Oh, and do not ask her to throw a bag of clothes together quickly, packing requires weeks of lists, weather tracking, phone calls about potential outings, and careful consideration of what can best be "dressed up or dressed down."
My parents are really, really good at a lot of things, but being fast is not one of them.  It's just not their thing.  I understand and sort of appreciate that, usually.
So making a trip to Texas can not be taken lightly.  It's serious.
Both of my parents are retired so they are flexible with their time, once carefully orchestrated to be away from their home base. Since they have this freedom, and smoking is not permitted on airplanes or in airports, my parents have opted to drive to Texas the last few years. 
They take two days and stop at a lot of Cracker Barrels, because what other option is there?  It's fantastic.  They enjoy the freedom of having their own car and the flexibility of not having to be tied to a plane ticket....and did I mention my Father can smoke wherever he wants to along the way? 
Except inside the Cracker Barrel, of course.
I know that the transportation aspect is probably the part of having my parents here for 25 days that least baffles you all, but it seemed like a good place to start.  I realize most of you are probably wondering how I don't lose my mind with my parents living here that long. 
The truth?
I love it. 
Sure, there are moments when I think if they use the phrase bowel movement (or the fun and fresh lingo "BM,") one more time I might scream. Or when all I want to do is be lazy and I suddenly have my parents all over me about how they thought I wanted to, "get a few things done around here." Then there is the non-stop bickering about error messages on their computer, leaving too many windows open on the screen, and the mysterious moving of icons that could make a few people want to throw their computer out the window, but not (really) me.

I love having them.

Well, we thankfully have a home that is large enough so that it is comfortable for all of us to be here and not feel like we are on top of one another.  We used to have a small home and 25 days would not have worked there.  No. Freakin'.Way. Here they have their own bedroom and bathroom, there are multiple places to cozy up and read, my Father can watch his shows or take his nap and it just works. 

It also helps to have 70 degree weather for a good portion of their stay and a large screened in porch for retreating and a driveway on which my Father can stand, smoke, and harass the neighbors  The neighbor harassing keeps my Dad sane so it's simply a sacrifice they are going to have to make for this all to work.  Sorry to the hood.
I also like to hang out with my parents.  We talk, we do nothing, we go wherever or do whatever, whenever we feel like it and it's glorious.  When they are here I'm not alone with the kids all day and  well in to the night like I usually am.  I feel supported and the moments when I feel flustered and overwhelmed by my kids are so far and few between that I actually enjoy them.  I get to enjoy my parents and my children.  That is an amazing gift.

Losing Indiana while they were here was even a blessing.  My parents loved Indiana, especially my Dad, and it was comforting to know that they understood how hard it was for us.  Having my Dad take Indiana to the vet with Alex was such a relief to me.  I know he loved him and I love that he got to say goodbye to him.
The best part though is watching my children with them.  I absolutely adore watching Stella play dolls with my Mom or pretend to put makeup on my Dad.  When Aiden and Cole get back from their regular trips for ice cream with Tractor I feel blessed to have parents that are so involved with my kids. By staying almost a month at a time, my kids really get to know my parents. You change a relationship so much by living with someone for that long....which is why we do it a few times a year.

Do my parents annoy me?  Sure. 
Do I annoy them?  I would be shocked, but I suppose there is a tiny, slight possibility that I could be less than 100% wonderful all the time. Maybe.

Is it worth it?  Absolutely.

Stella has been looking for them the last few days, a bit confused when I ask her where they are.  She usually just points outside, I assume she things Grandma must be out there smoking with Tractor.  I asked her today while I was trying to catch her to put her back in to her carseat after the gym. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Good Vs. Bad

I'm currenlty eating chocolate chip cooke dough ice cream, wondering if my hard working husband will get home before I go to bed, and staring at a pile of laundry that looks like it would be best folded while watching more of my Gossip Girl additction.

It's difficult to think in clear sentences with so much excitement going on around me so I'm going to simply things tonight.  Let's just do a straight good news vs. bad news report.

Good News:
Aiden and Cole are no longer sleeping in the same room so I no longer fear wake ups or drawn out bedtimes.

Bad News:
Aiden has his room back because my parents left after 25 days of staying with us, supporting us, and being a part of our lives, which we all loved. I don't want to be the adult in charge again, at all.

Good News:
Cole and Aiden both were happy when I told them I made chicken for dinner, or at least pretended to be, which makes me equally satisfied.

Bad News:
After stating that I "made" chicken for dinner I didn't hear a large exhale of cigarette smoke and my Father's voice telling me I can't "make" chicken, I prepare it.  This was by far the most stressful part of his 25 days here.  Every time I stated I was making something for dinner I feared he would collapse in anger.  "You don't make chicken!  You prepare chicken!" 

I don't know why he didn't ever believe me that I was actually constructing a chicken. 

Sidenote:  Can I tell you how much fun it was to grow up with someone correcting your grammar at every turn, including during tear filled emotional outpourings.  "Sorry you feel so sad Leslie, but it's actually Alissa and me, not Alissa and I...use me when it's the object of a preposition."   Super warm and fuzzy.

Good News: 
Everyone is feeling a little less sad around here.  Cole keeps forgetting that Indiana has died, and I feel less and less like someone punched me in the stomach every time I look at one of Indiana's regular napping spots.

Bad News:
When I asked Stella where the doggy was yesterday, purely out of perverse curiosity to see what she would do, she simply said no and didn't do her usual, adorable questioning face and hand gesture.  When I mentioned this to my parents over dinner they were very quick to remind me that Stella forgets about everything very quickly at her age, even giving the example that if I were to go away, in a month she wouldn't even know me.  Awesome.  I feel better now.

Good News:
My house looks almost as clean as when my cleaning woman, the most amazing Maribel, was still working for me. 

Bad News:
I was in fact the one to clean it.  I never even bothered to put on underwear beneath my sweats today and have actual dirt marks on the knees of my sweatpants from scrubbing the floor.  I do not like.

Good News:
My Mom put half of a banana on her cereal this morning.

Bad News:
The half a banana thing is one of my great pet peeves with my parents.  There is a perpetual influx of fly attatracting banana halves lying around my kitchen when they visit.  Why, oh why, can't they committ to an entire banana?  Even Stella eats a whole banana.

Good News:
We recently reinstated our DVR service for a mere $10 a month, finally giving us access to the Opraph Winfrey Network.

Bad News:
I have yet to discover a show on the OWN that I feel any desire to watch.  What up Oprah?

Good News:
I caught the last 15 minutes of Dance Mom's season premiere.

Bad News:
I caught the last 15 mintues of Dance Mom's season premiere.  That show is scary.

Good News:
Stella loves the Crocs she found when I was going through Cole's old shoes.

Bad News:
She will not take them off to sleep or bathe.  She has a serious mental condition.  It's not even like they are cool shoes, they are Crocs.

Good News:
Cole informed me last night that he is, "brimming with the love of Jesus in his heart."

Bad News:
He's brimming for a little girl in his class.  Uh-oh.

Good News:
I have watched 24 out of the 87 Gossip Girl episodes available on Netflix.

Bad News:
I have watched 24 out of the 87 Gossip Girl episodes available on Netflix.  I'm a sad woman.

But seriously, episode 25 is waiting and I have a clean house to enjoy before my kids wake up and destroy it.

By the way....I am so grateful for all of the amazing messages, phone calls, and texts I have recieved about Indiana. This whole thing has just sucked beyond words, but there is nothing like a tough situation to make me feel loved. Thank you to each and every one of you that reached out to me. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Goodbye Indiana

His collar lies crumpled on my nightstand. The last load of laundry covered in his smells and hair is in the dryer. My father, mercifully, has washed and put away the food and water bowls, as well as removed all his remaining food. I don't know to know where any of it is.

A clay paw print from the emergency pet hospital is drying on the top shelf of my bookshelf, a kind gesture that at the time, and now, feels like a mockery of my amazing dog's life pressed on to wax paper. I currently hate that fucking circle of clay. It's so inadequate, but I suppose at some point in the future it could be a cherished reminder of what we lost.

I carried that wax paper on my lap as Alex and I drove through the dark, abandoned streets, it's crinkling noises making me think of how different the drive in the opposite direction had been, only a few short hours before. Indiana, scared and whining, pressing his head in to the corner of the door and seat as he foamed and drooled. I tried to hold him in one spot, tried to keep him comfortable and calm.

I felt terrified and useless, completely incapable of helping this loving animal that had been my baby before I ever had children. Guilt and sadness washed over me as I started to fear my dog's uncontrollable behavior and I realized that this was all I had left with him.

I loved that dog. From the time the rescue organization brought him to my house, to the moment I felt his little heart stop beating under my hand, he was an amazing gift. He brought me comfort and companionship during my rocky adjustment to life as a married woman, and even more as I stumbled and fell in to motherhood.

He was a constant source of compassion and unconditional devotion when I needed him most.

How many times has his hair been entwined in my fingers, my hand running over his warm and soft back as he laid his content and loving head on my lap? How often was this my source of calm amidst the seemingly unending exhaustion and demands I felt others required of me? Oh how I loved that dog.

It all happened so fast. Thursday morning he had a little trouble walking, stumbling around the yard as if he had too much to drink. After a quick trip to the vet though, my fears were quelled with a a positive diagnosis, everything checked out, it could have just been a fluke. I was told to keep an eye on him and normal life resumed. He was tired, he seemed needy, but he was fine.

As I talked to my parents outside the next afternoon though, I suddenly heard Alex yell for me, panic and fear in his voice. I came inside to see my Indiana rolling in his urine, yelping, legs stiff and foam covering his clinched mouth.

Please God, please erase the horror of this image from my mind as soon as possible.

He came out of it after a few minutes, visible shaking, looking scared and almost guilty.

We quickly took him to the vet again where we were told that he either had epilepsy or something neurological. We prayed hard for epilepsy. There was medication to control seizures in epileptic dogs and many could live long, happy lives with the condition. Please give us epilepsy.

Unfortunately, Indiana was 7.5 and most dogs develop epilepsy between the ages of 2-5. If he were 10 we could condemn him right there to a brain tumor, but he was right on the verge of there being a slight bit of hope for something different, and we clung to it.

On the way out the vet though, Indiana couldn't walk again. Alex had to carry him to the car and by the time we got home he had started heavily panting and drooling. He couldn't see and looked lost inside the home that he dominated for over two years. I tired to help soothe him and encouraged him to sit with me, but he was visibly scared again and within an hour he was twitching, yelping, and foaming at the mouth.

Alex and my Dad immediately took him to the vet. I stayed home, feeling cowardly, but ill at the sight of my beloved pet's body failing him so. I couldn't handle it.

By the time Indiana came home again he was heavily sedated and had a prognosis that if he even started to display conditions of a seizure again, it was over. The vet had been less enthusiastic about her epilepsy claim, but wouldn't rule it out if he could just come out of this seizure state.

Three short and painful hours later we were traveling with him to what we knew was the end.

He couldn't stop his seizures. The vet at the animal hospital was mercifully much more direct in his prognosis. This vet was definitive after one look into Indiana's eyes, each rolling in a different direction, and a few brief questions about the normality of Indiana's behavior in the previous weeks. We hadn't even considered his behavior to be too dramatic until we were sitting in that fucking room.

We had options, but none of them got us Indiana back for anything more than a month or so, and none of them put Indiana out of this horrible state. Alex made the call as I sobbed over the absurdity of this all. I had been rubbing his belly 12 hours ago on the floor of my bedroom. How did we get here?

My mind plays cruel tricks on me, making me believe my black purse on the floor is Indiana curled up for a nap. Stella's spilled cereal sits untouched until someone actually comes to pick it up, and it feels like a huge punch in the gut as I am reminded that he isn't here to scavenge for dropped food. I hear him walking through the bushes on to turn and see a bird that is apparently really, really mean.

Oh it all just sucks. It really, really sucks.

I miss my dog.

Rest in peace Indiana.  You were greatly LOVED.