Where Did the Time Go?

November 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Posted in Kids | 8 Comments
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I am a stay-at-home Mom. Although “stay at home” is not really the right term for what I do. I’m more like a drive-everyone-everywhere-keep-30-appointments-a-day-put-100,000-miles-on-my-car-per-year Mom. But on the rare days when I actually do stay at home, I have a lot to get done. A LOT. So, I get out my little To Do list, the one I make each week (No, I don’t want to talk about how many weeks “fix my pedicure” has been on this list. You do the math.), and choose a few items to get accomplished. You know, easy stuff, like shave the cat and re-spackle the dining room. I might as well choose these types of things for all that I seem to be able to get done.

Before I was a stay-at-home Mom, I was a work-at-the-office marketing professional. I handled many projects on a daily basis for a number of different clients and managed millions of dollars in marketing budgets. I was well-known for my ability to create successful campaigns, rally the team and get the job done. Now I can barely get the dishes in the dishwasher.

Why is that?

And I’ll admit it: when I was a working woman, I scoffed – actually scoffed – at the stay-at-home Moms, especially the ones who complained about how busy they were. I mean, how much could they possibly have to do in a day?? What was so hard about juggling a couple of kids, their laundry, and a grocery list? Well, karma has a funny way of giving you a good swift kick in the ass, and I guess I’m learning my lesson. The woman who used to be able to do it all now celebrates actually having enough clean underwear to get through the week.

For those of you who have small children, you know exactly what I’m talking about. For those of you who don’t (or whose kids are so old you’ve forgotten and now you’re scoffing at me and thinking I’m completely incoherent and incapable), here’s a little sneak peek at where the time goes:

Today’s Schedule:

5:30 a.m. – Rise early – an hour before the kids – to fold yesterday’s laundry and put in a new batch, look over some paperwork from Brady’s school, and take a quick shower.
5:45 a.m. – 3-year-old Michael wakes up 45 minutes early, crying because he has wet his bed.
5:50 a.m. – Drop early morning projects to strip both Michael and his bed. Carry Michael out of his room, shushing him the whole time not to wake up his brother.
6:02 a.m. – He woke up his brother.
6:05 a.m. – Put wet bedclothes and jammies in washer. Break up fight between kids over whether or not Snoopy really flies his doghouse in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”. Commence making school lunch and breakfast.
6:15 a.m. – Fix broken dump truck. Hug crying child who brought it to you. Fill request to “Snuggle with me, Mommy?”. Forget grilled cheese is cooking for lunch.
6:30 a.m. – Leap off the couch to the smell of smoke. Chuck charred cheese sandwich. Check for more cheese – nope, there isn’t any. Make PB&J instead. Remember that the school has banned peanuts. Decide that Lunchables might not be such a bad thing after all.
6:35 a.m. – Fulfill request for juice x2.
6:45 a.m. – Finish making kids’ lunch. Start making breakfast.
6:47 a.m. – Feed whining cats.
6:48 a.m. – Break up physical fight between boys over whether or not the toy crane they are playing with can talk. Remove crane. Argue in circles with 6-year-old about removed crane. Threaten to throw crane out window.
7:00 a.m. – Continue to attempt to make breakfast.
7:05 a.m. – Answer question about how many Quarter Horses can fit on a cruise ship. Discuss.
7:10 a.m. – Call kids to table for breakfast.
7:11 a.m. – Call kids to table for breakfast.
7:12 a.m. – Call kids to table for breakfast.
7:13 a.m. – Threaten to flush breakfast down toilet.
7:14 a.m. – See two little faces appear at the table.
7:20 a.m. – Remind kids to eat.
7:30 a.m. – Remind kids to eat.
7:35 a.m. – Remind kids to eat.
7:40 a.m. – Remove plates from table to cries of, “HEY!!! I was eating that!!”. Shoo kids upstairs to get dressed.
7:42 a.m. – Check the clock and realize there is no time for that shower. Try to make the best of it with extra make-up and deodorant.
7:58 a.m. – Realize you have not made the best of it.
7:59 a.m. – Sigh.
8:00 a.m. – Prod the kids to put on the clothes that are laid out for them.
8:01 a.m. – Break up a pillow fight gone bad. Remove cat from bathtub. Retrieve stray Advil from under vanity.
8:05 a.m. – Scream that if they don’t get dressed RIGHT NOW they will be late for school.
8:08 a.m. – Threaten to send them to school in their pajamas.
8:09 a.m. – Answer the question, “Is it pajama day today?” with your dirtiest look. Explain to befuddled child that no, in fact, it is NOT pajama day, and everyone will laugh at him if he wears his Sleepy Cuddle Bear top and Thomas the Train bottoms to school.
8:12 a.m. – Answer whining cries by helping with shirts, socks and other difficult geometry problems.
8:15 a.m. – Manage to complete the final 15 minutes of morning routine (teeth brushing, shoe tying, backpack packing, coat-finding) only by growling orders through clenched teeth and/or roaring.
8:30 a.m. – Rip out of driveway, only to find you have left your cell phone behind. Back up to the door and run in. Come back out to find anxious 6-year-old on front step because he “missed you”.
8:35 a.m. – Strap 6-year-old back into seat and tear out of driveway again.

Now, at this point, I have been up for over 3 hours, and here is what I have accomplished:

  • 2 kids dressed, fed and teeth brushed
  • 2 cats fed their first can of food; the second can was forgotten, so I will return to find a fresh set of scratch marks on the new dining room table leg
  • 1 bad make-up job and possibly still-stinky underarms
  • 1 bed stripped to the mattress which will be forgotten until bedtime, at which point kids will use the 5 minutes it takes to make the bed as the perfect excuse to jump on the trampoline until they are so wound up it will take an extra hour for them to fall asleep
  • 1 load of laundry in the washer with soap and fabric softener added, but not turned on
  • 8 pillows – decorative, therapeutic and sleeping – on the floor in my bedroom, along with my comforter and top sheet
  • Countless breakfast dishes littering the kitchen
  • Pile of paperwork from Brady’s school that was due today but that I was unable to address due to wet bed emergency
  • 2 freshly poured cups of juice that we forgot to take with us in the last-minute hustle

I won’t bore you with the list of occurrences that will come about when I later try to make a few appointments over the phone and check my email, but suffice it to say that this mother, who was “never going to use TV as a babysitter I mean come on how hard can it be to keep things going in a simple 4-person household and my kids will be busy with their creative play and engaging activities anyway” now turns to the DVD player as the ONLY WAY to get dinner made on a daily basis. And even then, I have to stop what I’m doing to skip the scary parts. You know, when Snoopy cries over Schroeder’s sad music or when Lightning McQueen the race car gets chased by a tractor.

And that, my friends, is where the time goes. Gotta run.

xo

Bedazzled

October 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Posted in Beauty, Kids, The Real Housewives | 6 Comments
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I wore sparkly, bedazzled jeans to school drop-off, gymnastics, karate, and the grocery store today.

I know they were completely out of place in those venues. I realize they might have been a bit over-the-top. Even 6-year-old Brady, after rubbing my bejeweled butt for a minute, proclaimed them to be “weird”. But I just got them and I love them, so shut UP!

I also love make-up and hairspray (raised in the 80s, anyone?), and those things are hard to love here in Maine. There’s a whole juggernaut of plain-Janes running around. A regulation-sized soccer field full of Sporty Spices. Hey, I’m sporty. I mountain bike. I ride horses, and that is a dirty-ass sporty sport! But I still like spangled jeans and sparkly eye shadow.

This is probably an ongoing surprise to my Mom, who had to fight me into every dress I ever wore as a little girl. They were mostly reserved for Sundays at church, and I can still remember asking her why God cared if we were dressed up or not. Could He even see us? “Of course He can,” she replied, “It’s HIS HOUSE!” And now I’m appalled at what I see in church – spaghetti-strap tank tops that show your titty tattoos and short-shorts that would make Daisy Duke blush (are you even wearing underwear??).

But I digress.

The thing is just that… I love BEAUTY and everything that goes with it! Putting on make-up every day is like my own personal art project. Can I wear green eye shadow with this purple top? Does this shade of lipstick make my skin look grey? Will I ever be brave enough to wear those false eyelashes out in public?

I guess the real question is: How much is too much for a stay-at-home mom?

This is probably very dependent on where you live. Those babes on The Real Housewives of Orange County/Beverly Hills/NYC/New Jersey are always dripping with double-decker glam. Whether it be for a trip to the opera or a quick jaunt to the grocery store (as if they actually EAT), it seems sequins and 5-inch heels are never off limits. How do they tend to their kids in those get-ups? With small children, I have to bend over constantly, and this is no small feat in low-slung jeans (hello, butt-crack), short skirts (um, other crack) or low-cut tops (that’s technically not a crack). And try doing that while maintaining your composure (and dignity and modesty) while wearing platform wedges! Of course, if you’re lucky, your kid will throw a fit in whatever public place you happen to be and you’ll have to pick up all 38 pounds of whirling, writhing, screaming child in your razor-thin stilettos and carry him out. Meanwhile, you were wondering if those shoes could actually hold YOUR post-baby poundage, never mind you plus the butterball that is your 3-year-old. Good luck with that.

It’s tough being a Mom who still wants to look hot. Or at least human. I was recently at a 5-year-old’s birthday party that was held at a gym. I thought I looked cute and somewhat appropriate in my embroidered sleeveless top and white capris. Then in walked a mother ‘from away’ (Mainer talk for ‘you don’t live here’) wearing a tight black top and jeans with carefully placed rips all up and down the front of them. And in the rips were…. wait for it… GOLD BEADS!!! Rows and rows of them!! I scoffed and turned away. Clearly this woman did not know what to wear to a child’s birthday party! But on the inside, I died a little. I wanted to wear jeans like that and get away with it!!

So how to marry the two? Here is what I propose:

– The false eyelashes and red patent-leather handbag make the cut when you’re going out to dinner, not to the soccer field.

– Save the heavy glitter eye make-up and over-the-top lipliner for drinks with the girls, but don’t be afraid to dust on a little shimmer here and there on a daily basis.

– If you’re going to wear high heels of any type with your kids in tow, make sure you have the hubs with you to handle any “Pick me UUUPPPP!!!!”s that come your way.

– Bouffe (I think I made that word up) up your hair like crazy for weddings, evening parties and trips to the big city, but let’s keep it casual for the girls’ softball team, ok?

– And never, ever, under any circumstances does mascara make your butt look big. So slather it on, girls. Every day, all the time.

xo

The Perfect Follow-Up

October 3, 2012 at 9:59 am | Posted in Horses, Kids, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Many thanks to my BFF, Paula, who gave me the inspiration for this entry.

We were chatting about how there is a lot of bragging that goes on in FaceBook posts – about people’s lives, kids, jobs, etc. – and noting that the reality is probably much different from the sunny, Wisteria Lane perfection that many people portray. With that in mind, I decided to grab some recent FaceBook posts and take a guess at what the actual event might have been like.

Hope you enjoy this take on perfection…

What the FaceBook post said: “Meet our new puppy, Snuggles! He is the sweetest!”

What really happened: Mom promised the kids a dog if they did the dishes and scrubbed the toilets every night for a month, assuming it would never happen. The little bastards did it, so now she has to make good on her promise. Enter Snuggles, a “Shitz-a-Doodle-Poo-Huahua” (Shih Tzu/Labradoodle/Chihuahua mix) that the kids fell in love with the minute they saw him. This little darling pooped in the cardboard carry-box on the way home (yup, it soaked through the cardboard onto the car’s upholstery), chased the cat into a permanent under-the-bed existence, and is now in the process of chewing up every shoe and table leg it can get its needly little puppy teeth into. But isn’t he just the cutest thing??????

 

What the FaceBook post said: “Great ride on the beach with the horses today. Diablo was feeling so perky for his age! So many people were out enjoying the beautiful Fall day. Maryann, so glad you love the feel of the sun-warmed sand J . What an adventure!”

What really happened: Three horses headed out for a mid-Saturday-morning ride. Diablo, the “perky” one, spent the entire time bouncing, jigging and cantering sideways unless he was allowed to gallop full-speed without stopping. The “many people” included kite-flyers, wind-surfers, and dog-walkers, resulting in complete chaos and spooking the horses at every turn. Spook #53 (one of those front-legs-splayed-out-and-spin-to-the-right kind of shies) unseated Maryann, who got to experience the sand with her cheek. The outing also included being chased into the marshes by an unruly dog and a confrontation with a Port-a-Potty tanker truck. Quite an “adventure”!

 

What the FaceBook post said: “Thanks to the Allens for a great party last night! Can’t wait to do it again!”

What really happened: Do I really need to go here? The Allens are the most annoying people on the block. They are also the richest. The only reason anyone shows up at their “parties” is to eat their high-end steaks and let their kids jump in the rented bouncehouse. This party was particularly entertaining, as Mrs. Allen (20 years her husband’s junior), had a few too many Cosmos and ended up in the pool, rendering her dress completely see-through. That WAS fun!

 

What the FaceBook post said: “Yay Tiger Cubs! Great win today on the pee wee football field – we’re so proud of you!”

What really happened: The team is currently 1-9 (for those of you who don’t follow sports, that’s 1 win, 9 losses). After countless hours of practice in the rainy, muddy, mosquito-infested field (where, of course, Mom’s iPhone gets no reception so she really is reduced to watching), endless piles of filthy, slimy uniform laundry, and limitless complaining about being dragged to games and practice, this poor little motley crew has finally outscored another team. Who cares if it was only because the opposing team’s entire defensive line was out with strep throat? It was still a win! Go Tiger Cubs!

 

What the FaceBook post said: “Just canned 14 pounds of tomatoes and pickled some beets! Next up, gluten-free macaroni, then I’m going to re-tile the bathroom!”

What really happened: All right, let’s face it. This is exactly what happened. And this person is one of those pain-in-the-ass do-it-yourselfers who makes the rest of us look and feel like lazy-ass idiots. YES, her homemade tomato sauce (from canned tomatoes she grew herself) is astoundingly better than yours (maybe you shouldn’t use Ragu as your “base”), and her death-by-chocolate soufflé is to die for. Even more annoying, she cooks and bakes constantly, eats everything in sight, and is STILL skinnier than you. Get over it – some people really are better than us, and they are going to flaunt it forever on FaceBook! Argh!!!!!

xo

Perfection

September 26, 2012 at 10:24 am | Posted in Horses, Kids | 2 Comments
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I’m watching my son try to become “king of the hill” in his karate class. They’re practicing Jujitsu wrestling, so this means he has to find a way to disengage and flip the kid on top of him over, then hold him down for a few seconds. I’m watching calmly, nodding and smiling at Brady and the Sensei, while my inner narrative goes something like this, “Come ON, Brady!! Get him! Just trap that arm – TRAP IT! Now bridge… BRIDGE!! You can flip him! You can win! You can be the best!!!” Meanwhile, I’m talking to a dad standing next to me about how it’s ok for our boys to not do it perfectly, and he’s telling me how hard it is for his wife to watch the class because she gets so frustrated when their son doesn’t do exactly what he’s supposed to do. I share this feeling and cringe inwardly all the time – especially with a child like Brady who doesn’t always go with the flow.

What is all this pressure, desire, demand to be perfect? Where does it come from, and why do we try so hard to achieve it and want it so badly for our kids?

I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist in that down-to-every-last-detail sort of way. That would be my husband. I strive for things to be very well done, but they don’t have to be perfect. Such as, I’ll make the bed because it looks nice and is lovely to slide into at the end of the day, but every sheet corner doesn’t have to be tucked in and the comforter doesn’t have to be flawlessly smooth. Of course, I do feel guilty if the bed isn’t made (bad mother, wife, housekeeper!).

My husband, on the other hand, will not even begin a task unless he can see it through to ultimate completion. Every single tiny cobweb must be off the exterior of the house, every flake of snow removed from the walkway/driveway/deck, every speck of dirt lifted from the interior of his car (Oh, you should SEE his car!! It’s 6 years old with over 100k miles on it and it looks and smells brand new! The man is super-human.).

So what of my boys?

Brady and I see a behavioral therapist once/week who has helped us immensely with his anxiety and other difficult aspects of Asperger’s Syndrome. Her philosophy is “We play games to have fun, not to win. Who cares who wins?” Who cares who wins?? I care!! What is that? It doesn’t matter who wins? Isn’t that half the fun of playing? Winning? And if I teach my kids that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose (I know, I know, ‘it’s how you play the game’ – I agree, that’s important, too), will they be slovenly couch potatoes with no drive? Is this something that comes from personality or programming? So many questions about perfection…

Back in the days when I used to show my horses, I started out wanting to win every class and getting really upset if I didn’t get a trophy or at least place. Over time, I realized that the important thing was that I had the best possible ride. If the judge didn’t see us or didn’t like my horse, I couldn’t really help that. I could only control what and how we did in the ring. But the important distinction here is that I still went in with the intention to win. I trained and practiced and hoped for it. I TRIED to win. And working that hard made me a better rider. What changed was my attitude. I learned to pet my horse on the neck, thank him for the great ride, and smile on my way through the outgate because my equine companion gave me everything I wanted, even if the judge didn’t.

I can see when Brady is practicing karate that he’s a lover, not a fighter. After wrestling for a few minutes, he’ll lie there and pat the kids’ head with whom he’s practicing. I can tell now by the way he glances at me as they play “king of the hill” that he’s trying to win for me, because he knows I want him to, not because he wants to. Maybe he’s just not that competitive. So what I’ve told him is that he doesn’t have to be the best, he just has to give it his best. Try his hardest. I suppose that’s all we can ask from any of us. I’m still going to try to win. But I don’t have to be perfect. And neither do my boys.

xo

Under Construction

September 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Under (un’der): Being beneath or below something; less than;
subordinate to; subject to; during rule of.

Under construction”. Ever wonder why they use that term? After building an entire house, then years later having to tear down and re-construct a number of walls and ceilings due to major water damage from ice dams, and currently being in the process of remodeling two bathrooms (under duress because of grout failures leading to water seepage), I think I get it. I definitely feel “subordinate to, subject to, and less than” the process of managing any construction project. It’s not that it’s over (or under) my head, it’s that nothing goes smoothly and everything is a problem. “On time and under budget” might as well be a foreign language when it comes to construction projects.

So, that said, here is my list of hypotheses (get to use that good old algebra again) for any type of building or remodeling project:

If new tile/paint/trim/flooring = needs to match existing tile/paint/trim/flooring, then: you can just simply forget it. Even if you have saved samples and every last bit of ordering information, the new pieces will never exactly match the old pieces. The factory will have gone out of business, changed their color palette (who knew there were so many variations on the color “biscuit”?), or been sold to some conglomerate in China that will take 14 weeks to get it to you and then it will arrive with dings and scratches. Or the company will have been passed down to an errant grandchild who disagrees with Grandpappy’s definition of a quality product and you’ll think you’re working with cardboard rather than pre-laminated flooring.

If contractor mistake = framing issue, then it will be a big one. A window will be in completely the wrong place or the wrong size (no, we don’t want a picture window in the downstairs bathroom looking out onto the front porch); what was supposed to be a cathedral ceiling will be a regular old flat one (and you won’t have time to check the project until the inset lights are installed and the drywall’s going up – just try changing it now!); the cement tubes holding up your second-floor deck will be poured just slightly off so that you are forever looking at posts that jut over the edges and wondering if, perhaps, it takes just one more person to make that deck come crashing down.

If your move-in date = September 1 or you will be living in a tent in the muck that will someday be your lawn, then: it will definitely rain the entire months of July and August, except on the weekends when everyone knows no contractor ever works (also, good luck with that grass).

If your site = comes with pre-site-work done, then: it will be done wrong and/or extremely confusing and have to be re-done or have experts brought in from out-of-state to review, recommend and reconsider. For example, our lot at the end of a private dirt road had the pre-built driveway in completely the wrong place to fit into our wet-lands-bordered building envelope, and our pre-installed septic system had pipes running the length of a football field across one neighbor’s property to a shared leach field on another neighbor’s property. This scared off more than one builder.

If your site = a lovely rural area that used to be field and forest, then: neighbors will hate you for disturbing their privacy, peace and quiet and will re-survey the land right after you pay surveyors to mark off your lot. Of course the neighbor’s survey ribbons will be on the exact same trees and posts that your surveyors’ ribbons are on, which will piss them off even further. You’ll be lucky if they don’t steal your copper plumbing pipes during construction. Actually, I can totally relate to this one and will do the same if anyone ever dares build on undeveloped land near us.

If your house = a custom build, then: you will agonize over every last paint color, light fixture, wall trim, built-in, and floor board, including the huge and now infamous “doorknob fight” which took place between my husband and I, nearly resulting in a divorce and complete bankrupting of the entire project.

Aaaaahhhhh, construction. Wish us luck as we try to get these two bathrooms back in working order. We do live in the woods, but it’s getting a little cold for outdoor showers and peeing on trees.

xo

Feeding Frenzy

September 3, 2012 at 8:48 am | Posted in Beauty, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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It’s never good when you suddenly don’t need your belt anymore.

As in: Hmmm, I swear the last time I wore these shorts I really needed this belt to keep them from sliding down my hips. How come I don’t need it today? They seem to be staying up all on their own. In fact, they might even be a little bit tight… Uh oh.

Could it be ‘vacation fat’ syndrome? You know, “I’m on vacation, so I’ll just… eat dessert after every meal… have a huge breakfast every morning (it’s a buffet, after all)… make sure I keep my strength up with a chocolate bar every afternoon… have cheese and crackers with artichoke dip on the porch every day at 4:00… try everything on the menu in the gourmet restaurant… keep the frozen drinks coming…”   Accompanied, of course, by the I’ve-just-hiked-a-mountain-(ok-it-was-really-a-1-hour-walk-up-a-slight-incline)-so-I-must-have-burned-4,000-calories-and-really-deserve-this-rack-o-ribs-cornbread-nachos-brownie-sundae-meal syndrome.

What is it about being on vacation (even if for just a quick weekend get-away) that inspires uninhibited eating in an “I deserve it” sort of way? And of course, the whole time, I’m just trying to get my kids to eat SOMETHING as I continually overindulge.

All you guys want is chicken fingers and mac and cheese again? At home you eat everything!  Come on, you’re going to get scurvy or leprosy or some other life-threatening disease from all the salt and preservatives! Hey, where are you going? Sit down! Dont bother those people over there! Leave the waiter alone! Eat some more of that food! Why can’t you guys sit still and eat? Am I going to have to shove some of that food down your gullet? If I had my way, I’d eat CONSTANTLY!

Oh wait, I guess I got my way…

So back to the shorts. It COULD be vacation. Or it just could be that I’m a sugar hound. Or that I pretend to count calories while constantly faking it in my favor. As in, “Whole grain spelt bread with peanut butter and honey. So healthy! Let’s see, two slices of bread = 160 calories, good. Peanut butter = 100 calories/tablespoon. Well, how much did I really have? Couldn’t have been more than one tablespoon (meanwhile the thickly-spread PB is oozing off of both slices of toast and onto the plate) so… 100 calories there. Honey = 60 calories/Tbsp. Well, really, how much honey could I have used? (More dripping off the bread.) Must be like a half-teaspoon so total for this snack is 270 calories! I have SO much self-control!!”

Yeah, those are the kinds of games I play with myself.

When I was in high school, we actually had a ritual around eating – or as we called it in the 80s, ‘pigging out’. One or the other of us would invite each other for a sleep-over and as we were hanging up (remember, we actually had to CALL each other back in those days), we’d casually say, “Bring your eating clothes”. That was the sign. That meant there was going to be a feeding frenzy in between the MTV music videos and episodes of the A-Team, which generally included the following staples: Nacho Cheese Doritos (the only flavor they had back then), Nutter Butters, Munchos (a much-better predecessor to Pop Chips), chocolate chip or Oreo ice cream, and chocolate in just about any form.

What were ‘eating clothes’? Anything with a stretchy waistband that you didn’t mind spilling something on. That should really be required for most get-togethers today. How often have you spilled your wine or olive-oil-infused bruschetta on your favorite dress or shirt? If everyone just wore sweat pants and old t-shirts it would be so much easier. We could dress it up a little by wearing them with high heels and lots of big hair and make-up. Wait a minute, I think I may have just described a few of my outfits back in the 80s.

But once again I digress. I need to figure out what happened to these shorts. Maybe I shrunk them? Maybe the belt stretched out? Too bad I don’t have a teenage daughter so I could claim that my clothes got mixed up with her size 2’s. At any rate, why don’t you all come on over? And wear your eating clothes. It’s Labor Day weekend, after all…

xo

Atten-HUT!!!

August 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Kids | 2 Comments
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I used to speak ever so softly and sweetly to my children. I’d cajole and coo, whispering in their ears and smiling while I spoke. Gentle tones and calm demeanor were my forte.

Now I sound like I live in a fort.

What exactly happened? Boyhood kicked in, that’s what. They went from soft and sweet and so-so cuddly to big and boney and rambunctious. Now my quiet crooning is replaced by drill-sergeant-like barking. I’m always shouting out orders, guiding their little heads back into line with my hands when they stray (like every 5 seconds), and sounding out the days’ itinerary:

“Brady! Michael! Front and center! NOW HEAR THIS: It is TIME to get DRESSED! Here is what is going to happen: BRADY, you are going to come here NOW and put on your PANTS! NO, you may NOT jump on the trampoline naked! LISTEN UP, boys! MICHAEL, you are going to STOP sitting on the cat and take your jammies OFF! And no more namby-pamby whining! I used to have to get dressed while walking uphill in the SNOW! Barefoot!! In JUNE!!!”

None of this is spoken in mean or angry tones, just in a loud, instructional format. Ok, more like a muffled roar, but you get the picture. I am not screaming at my children, just trying to get their ever-shifting attention.

Out in public, mothers of only children shoot me sideways glances as I dole out directives to my brood of two. They’re probably thinking, “What’s wrong with her? Too much caffeine? A bit high-strung, are we? Take it easy on those two! A little kindness goes a long way. You catch more flies with honey. Blah blah blah blah.”

HA! They have no idea. Two kids might as well be ten! A couple of little boys may not look like much, but trust me, if these two get even one step ahead of me, it’s anarchy. They will completely overthrow the current Nanny State (Mommy State, in this case) and leave me quivering and whimpering as I try to explain just how the purple-maned horse from the carousel got into the fun park’s wishing well. I can’t imagine what they’ll do when they’re teenagers.

My husband tells horror stories of he and his brother (also 3 years apart) concocting such stunts as drizzling gasoline down the driveway (where exactly did they find an unattended can of gas?), taking the tires off their bikes and skidding down the driveway so the metal rims/gas combination created sparks and a nice little whip of flame. They also managed to drive their bikes off the garage roof without breaking any limbs. But they did break a set of antique beds that belonged to their grandmother. Thank God we have no pavement at our house in the woods. But we do have roofs. And beds.

Maybe their mother didn’t bark enough orders? What about corporal punishment? Or maybe it’s just a boy thing and it’s inevitable. Either way, you’re sure to hear me if we’re in the same supermarket/mall/parking lot/kids’ party/fun park/war. I’m the one shouting, “Hey! You two! Pete & Re-Pete! Cut that out! No, stop it! Sit down! Drop that! Get down from there! If you two don’t stop, you are in big trouble! Come over here! RIGHT HERE!! Now, forward MARCH!!”

I think you get the idea.

xo

All I Can Handle

August 7, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Posted in Kids | 18 Comments
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When I found out my son, Brady, has Asperger’s Syndrome, it knocked the wind right out of me. We had been working with a “Generalized Anxiety” diagnosis for some time, and I knew he had some sensory and social issues, but I was still unprepared to hear the words “These test results strongly point to Asperger’s.”

Finding out that life is going to be harder for your child is devastating. I know we are not talking about cancer or another life-threatening illness, but we are talking about a life-long condition that can be debilitating. My husband and I were (and still are) prepared to give our kids every advantage we could afford them in life, but a condition like Asperger’s Syndrome means a few giant steps backward to just getting the everyday stuff under control.

I know this might ruffle some feathers, but I just need to indulge myself and vent a little: It really annoys the hell out of me when I read posts and blogs from mothers who swear they are totally fine with their kids’ autism. They claim their child is a treasure and they wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sure their children are wonderful and sweet and funny and endearing, but the disorder that is autism certainly is not. Do they mean to tell me that they jumped for joy when they found out their kid was going to struggle way more than the average child with normal, everyday events, such as saying ‘hi’ to a little boy on the playground or going to the supermarket?

That they thought, “Oh, delightful!” when it occurred to them that their child would likely be ostracized by other kids and would find it nearly impossible to read the expressions on their teachers’ faces?  Is it perfectly all right with them when the following scenario takes place?:

“Brady, we’re going to a birthday party tomorrow!”

You should see the panic on his face.

“NO, Mommy!! I don’t want to go! I’ll stay with Daddy! Or Miss Sheyla! (trusted babysitter) I don’t want to go to the party!”

“But Brady, it’s your friend, Jimmy, from school. He invited you!”

“I don’t want to GO, Mom! It won’t be fun. I’ll run away from the car when we get there!”

He runs for his blanket and scrunches it up over his face and neck.

“It won’t be scary, honey. You’ll have a good time with the kids and party games. There will be a bounce house!”

“But there will be other kids there! And they’ll sing stupid Happy Birthday TOO LOUD!!”

Fetal position on the couch.

“Oh, sweetie, can’t we just go, and if you’re not having fun then we’ll leave?”

“No, Mom, NO! I don’t want to go!”

Is this what we had in mind when we were carrying that luscious little bundle in our bellies? That we would be forcing them to go to amusement parks and dreading family dinners out and agonizing over the days’ schedule because a single bump in the road sends them reeling?

I love my son with all my heart, and I understand that he is who he is, flaws and all, but I really can’t “embrace” his autism. It’s not the road I had planned. It’s not the journey I wanted him or I to make. It’s certainly not going to be easy.

We’re lucky enough to live in a state that offers many services to children with these types of disabilities. And through research and referrals, we’ve found a number of wonderful private practitioners as well. Brady receives occupational therapy, social (play) therapy, physical therapy, behavioral therapy (sessions that I am involved in and learning from as well), homeopathic remedies, naturopathic remedies, and osteopathic treatments. If it seems like a ridiculous amount of intervention, it probably is, but we want to give him every opportunity to thrive.

Some days he does so well his behavior is nearly that of a “typical” child. Other days, it’s obvious that he is struggling, fraught with anxiety and over-stimulation, and it’s so hard on all of us. I often lie in bed at night and worry about him – whether or not he’ll make friends in first grade, how he’ll ever manage to ride the school bus, if he’ll be able to form a long-term relationship or get married someday. And I’d like to be like those other mothers who seem just fine with it all. Perhaps they didn’t have super-high hopes for their kids or aren’t crazy Type-A over-achievers like me. Or maybe they’re just calmer and more accepting than I am. Having a kid with autism teaches you a lot about autism, but it also teaches you so much about yourself and what you can handle.

I hope I can handle it.

xo

Findings

July 20, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Posted in Horses, Kids | 2 Comments
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Only Mothers find…

A dirty Pull-Up wet-side-down on the wood floor.

Silly putty entangled in the new faux-fur throw.

Apples with one bite taken out of them.

Blocks piled high on a sleeping cat.

Half-full sippy cups from two months ago hidden way, way under the couch.

Random crayoned signs prohibiting one thing/person or another taped to the wall with purple duct tape. The really sticky kind.

Slimy black banana peels on the new silk ottoman.

Pine needles in the bathtub.

Upturned Hippity-Hops with cheese mashed into the bottom.

Perfect face-prints on the French doors.

Tiny cars in their bed.

Tiny men in the couch.

Applesauce in their hair.

Only horse-owners find…

Horse hair in their underwear (I have no idea how it gets in there??).

A petrified carrot in the pocket of last year’s winter coat.

Purple stains on their hands and shoes (hoof meds).

Bits of shavings in the clothes closet.

A curry comb under the car seat.

Show programs from 1985 stashed away in a big ol’ box of forgotten ribbons. (Someday I’ll find an acceptable way to display them…)


Only Mainers find…

Loon sh-t on the windshield.

Moose sh-t on the highway.

Deer sh-t in the garden.

Bear sh-t near the trash cans.

That most people they meet are not full of sh-t.

xo

Mommy’s Modern Life

July 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Beauty, Horses, Kids | 2 Comments
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I drink organic tea with piles of Equal in it.

This is just one of a plethora of paradoxes that plague my everyday existence.

I drink the organic tea because I recently read that the Lipton Tea I had been drinking for years was found to have traces of nasty carcinogens and pesticides in it. And because, in general, I like to eat/drink organic or as farm-fresh as possible as often as possible.

I use the chemical-laden Equal artificial sweetener because I don’t want to get fat.

The list goes on and on.

I seek out the most all-natural, BPA-free, GMO-free, fragrance-free, dye-free, rat-poison-free, bug-particle-free body washes and lotions for my children. I wash them lovingly in these products, thinking what a great thing I am doing for them. Then I tromp upstairs to my own bathroom and slather myself in anti-aging creams and potions filled with ingredients lists I cannot pronounce, much less attempt to comprehend. Sure, there are a few “shea butters” and “chamomile extracts” thrown in there, but for the most part, those suckers are filled with nasty plastics and nano-particles that will probably have my skin looking “plump and fresh” long after my dried up carcass is in the ground.

I love my animals like they are my children and want to save every one of the abused and suffering ones in the world. “How can anybody do that to an animal?” I intone, referring to some abuse case or another, all muffled through intermittent chomps on my cheeseburger. Who’s saving those cows, Draghetti?

(sigh) I also:

  • Seek out the most organic, paraben-free, no-animal-testing lip balms I can find, then slather my lips with semi-permanent lipstick every morning. What type of self-adhesive polymers do you think they use to make that stuff stay on your lips all day – even through that hefty plate of nachos??
  • Try to save the planet by recycling every scrap of paper, shred of cardboard and cylinder of tin I can find, then drive off to the redemption center in my giant, gas-guzzling SUV.
  • Buy my cats high-end, all-natural cat food, then apply poison to their skin in the form of Frontline Flea & Tick repellent. (But how else am I supposed to keep the buggies off??)
  • Ditto for the horses: I give them all-natural supplements and perfectly balanced diets, then apply a thorough spraying of chemical-laden bug spray. Hey, the all-natural ones just don’t work that well, and I don’t want to get bucked off because a horsefly just bit one of my geldings on the privates!

Last week, my mother brought cheese puffs to a party at my house. “Cheese puffs??!” I snorted, “Don’t give any of those to my children!!”  Later that night after everyone was gone, I realized I had been too busy to eat dinner and went straight for my secret stash of Ring Dings. Who am I fooling, really?

Back in the day (not really sure what that means, but the ‘young people’ say it so it must be cool), there was this funny little cartoon called “Rocko’s Modern Life”. It was about an Australian wallaby and his bewildering journey through life, where he constantly encountered ironies such as mine. I often think of that little character as I purchase organic vegetables wrapped in carcinogen-emitting plastic. It all just seems to be part of the modern world. No matter how hard you try to eat/look/be healthy and take good care of the planet, some of that new-fangled scientific stuff is going to sneak in. I guess I’ll just have to shrug it off and keep trying.

Besides, nothing is going to get between me and some really good wrinkle cream. Or a fresh box of Ring Dings.

xo

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