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Thursday, December 13, 2012

For Someone I Love . . .

It's been too long since I've written.  I can't say it's because I haven't been inspired; I have.  But, in those moments of inspiration, there were sick kids to take care of, temperatures to take, tests to grade, clothes to fold, dinners to make, errands to run, workouts to complete, meetings to attend, and well . . . life basically.  Today, the inspiration to write was overwhelming, in part due to a conversation I had with someone whom I love dearly. 

I'm sort of like an emotional magnet - I feel what those around me, whom I care about, feel.  If someone I love is sad, it pains me.  If someone I love receives good news, I'm giddy.  Lately, this person I care about has been having a difficult time, and it's very hard for me.  I want to fix it.  I want to take away the pain.  I want to say just the right words.  But, I can't.

What I can do, however, is lend an ear.  Listen.  Support.  Encourage.  Because, that's exactly what this person has done for me.  You get what you give, and I'm returning the favor.  This person is a giver in every sense of the word.  The other thing I can do is share.  Share what I've learned through my trials and tribulations.  It might help; it might not.  But, it's worth a try.

Life is not fair.  No, it's not.  Not at all.  Our parents have been telling us this since we were young.  "Life isn't fair.  Deal with it."  Maybe we didn't want to believe it, but now we have no choice - life keeps showing us that fairness is nonexistent . . . over and over and over again.

People are not always kind.  No, they're not.  Not at all.  But that doesn't mean all people are unkind.  It doesn't mean all people don't deserve your friendship, your trust, your sympathy, and your forgiveness.  Don't let one or two people destroy your faith in humanity.  Don't let one person ruin your hope.  A favorite quote of mine: One person cannot destroy another person's capacity to love.  I believe that with all my heart.

Let go of the people who are unkind.  Let go of the people who don't make time for you.  Let go of the people who hurt you.  Let go of the people who don't treat you well, who don't add anything to your life, who stress you out.  Don't waste your precious time on these people.  You can't change them.  You can't make them see things your way or feel what you feel, so let them go.  Cherish the people who make you a better person and enhance your life.

Things don't always go as planned.  If you know me well, you see the irony in this.  I am a planner by nature.  I want to know what to expect, and I want to plan that shit out.  Every last detail.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, I haven't decided yet) this is life's favorite lesson to teach me.  It's clearly still a lesson in progress, and I am learning it day after day after day.  Oh, and patience, too.  Patience, patience, patience.  I should get it tattooed on my forehead.  Seriously. 
Life is hard.  Yep.  Sure is.  Why can't it be easy?  Well, I'm not sure, but my theory is this: If life were easy, we wouldn't learn.  And, if we don't learn, we don't grow.  And if we don't grow, we remain stagnant, we lose our way, we lose sight of our goals and our values, and we forget what really matters in life (or what should really matter).  Thus, life is hard so we can learn and grow and be reminded of who we are and what we value.

I've learned a lot of things the hard way - what other way is there really to learn, right?  One thing that life is kind enough to continually remind me of is kind of cliche but it's true: Life is too short.  Life has brought me this important lesson through loss, through death, and through various wasted opportunities.  Life is too short.  So, when you're sad, when you're angry, when you've been betrayed, when you've suffered a loss, when you've been let down, and when you're afraid, ask yourself, "What am I missing out on while I'm sitting here immersed in my pain/sadness/anger/disappointment/fear?"  For me, it's always my boys.  What am I missing out on in their lives when these terrible emotions seem to overwhelm me?  And, that always brings me back; it always helps me deal with those difficult feelings.

Smile.  Laugh.  This lesson I actually like.  No matter how bad my day, no matter what life has dished up for me, no matter what challenge is thrown my way, if I can find a way to smile, I win.  Smile through the tears.  Smile through the pain.  Smile through the anger.  Smile when you're afraid.  Because if you can do that, you have no choice but to admit that life isn't quite as bad as it might seem in that exact moment.  And, laugh.  Laugh until it hurts.  Laugh when you think you might cry.  Laugh when you'd normally be angry.  Laugh when you realize how little control you really have and how crazy and absurd and unfair and just plain hard life is.  Laugh so hard that you wake up the next morning and think, "I don't remember doing crunches last night . . ."  Laugh that hard.  Remember always that life . . . is a beautiful struggle. 

Everything is a lesson.  You grow, you become better, when you search for what you can take away from everything that happens and every person you encounter.  What are you supposed to learn?  How can this help you become the person you want to be?  Embrace the hard times (not enjoy, just embrace) and use them as an opportunity to find a way to live the life you really want to be living.

"We can make the best of it.  We can make the worst of it.  I hope you make the best of it.  And I hope you see things that startle you . . . I hope you live a life you're proud of.  If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."  F. Scott Fitzgerald.

To the person who inspired this: I love you with all my heart. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Because it's easy to forget.

It's almost 10:30pm.  Finally, finally, Gavin is asleep . . . in my bed.  The poor bugger just could not fall asleep tonight (probably because today was the first time in weeks that he's actually taken a nap).  Sometimes, the Battle of the Going to Bed can be frustrating.  Okay, it's often frustrating.  But, tonight, as Gavin came out of his room for the tenth time for "one more hug" and "one more drink of water," I reminded myself of something that I've had to remind myself of a lot lately:

He's only 4.

He's only 4 years old. 

I forget that often.  Compared to Kaleb, he's so big.  He's so self-reliant.  He seems so much older compared to Kaleb.  He's all legs and scrapes and bruises-that-barely-fit-in-my-lap-anymore.  His legs hang down to my knees when I carry him.  He can buckle the seatbelt in the car by himself.  He opens his own juice boxes without spilling them everywhere. 

But, he's only 4.

He's only 4, and sometimes I forget that he needs a lot of love and attention, too.  He needs time to snuggle on my lap.  He needs me to build forts with him under the kitchen table and make up silly songs.  He needs me to kiss his imaginary boo-boos.  He needs me to watch him do "something awesome" five hundred and seventy-two times in a day. 

He's only 4, but he seems so much older.  I'm not sure if it's because he can carry on pretty advanced conversations, but I look at him daily, and I think, "He's only 4." 

He's only 4, and he still needs a lot of affection.  He needs a lot of slack.  He needs silliness.  Sure, he can dress himself, put his laundry away, brush his own teeth, make his own bed, get his own breakfast, and even make his own hot cocoa.  But, he's only 4, and, more often than not, what he probably needs is for his mommy to do that for him.  Because, he's not going to be 4 forever.

He's only 4, and, sure, he needs to learn good behavior, but he also needs a little grace and understanding.  It's hard to be 4, I'm sure.  It's hard to have feelings and not know how to accurately express them.  It's hard to pay attention when there are more awesome things to focus on like toys and cartoons and hey-look-at-that-airplane-in-the-sky. 

He's only 4, and he doesn't understand all of the adult things that go on in this world, but somehow he's expected to.  And, he shouldn't be.  He shouldn't be expected to understand anything other than vegetables and milk will help you grow and if you leave your toys on the floor you're eventually going to step on them and hurt yourself. 

He's only 4, and he should be allowed to cry, and rather than telling him to stop, he should be comforted.  A lot.  

He's only 4, and sometimes it's okay if he needs to lie in my bed until he falls asleep. 

He's only 4, and sometimes he needs five more hugs and three more kisses and one more song and two more stories before he can go to sleep. 

He's only 4, and while I don't need to baby him, I need to remember how young, fragile, and needy he is.

So, for tonight, he gets to fall asleep in my bed.  And, as I sit here and watch him drool all over my pillow, I think about how heavy he's going to be when I carry him to his own bed in a few minutes.  But, he'll never be this light, or this young, again.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

No, your body doesn't do that.

I feel as though I've aptly documented my sometimes warped perception of reality.  I'm about to add another statement to support my case.  You see, when preparing for Kaleb's birth, and gearing up to give breastfeeding the ole college try, I had this mental picture of how things were going to go.  It went like this: I would go in the nursery and nurse Kaleb.  Gavin would stay in the living room, playing quietly, until I was finished.  Thus, he'd never see me breastfeed.


Ha ha.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Yeah,  . . . not so much.

For the most part, it hasn't been to weird, and I haven't had to answer to many uncomfortable questions. 

I mean, there was, "Mommy, why do you feed Kaleb from your tummy?"  My tummy?  Sweet!  I don't have to explain boobs to him!  "Because, Gavin, that's just how I feed him."

End of story.

"Mommy, why don't you feed Kaleb with a bottle?"  Because I don't.  And that was good enough.

He clearly doesn't think much of it, either, because he begs me to stay in the living room to feed his brother rather than going somewhere.  Honestly, I think this is because it's too hard to talk to me if I'm in another room.  If I'm in the same room, I can "look-Mom-watch-this" the whole time I'm nursing.

So, all was well . . . until the other day . . .

when he took his shirt off . . .

. . .  and he pointed to his nipples . .  .

and he said, "Look Mom, I can feel my baby food in here."

Uh . . .

Yeah, you see, your body doesn't do that.  You're a boy.  Boys don't make baby food.

Which is what I maybe should have said.  But that would have been followed up by, "Why don't boys make baby food?  How come you make baby food and I don't?"

So, instead, I just, "Awesome!" and left it at that.

I'm sure it's only a matter of time until I walk in and find him trying to feed his brother . . .

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Uh oh. I'm fired up.

Warning:  If you're not in the mood to listen to me preach, then read no further.  'Cause I'm about to preach to the freaking choir like it's nobody's business.

It's not often that I get really fired up about social issues and debates.  I stand by my political beliefs, but I'm not really interested in arguing them.  I'm just not that passionate about it, and frankly, politics bore me.  I have opinions on abortion, gay marriage, and gun control, but again, not gonna engage in a heated battle over them.

But, sometimes, something fires me up just enough that I write ranty, ragy, preachy blog posts.  And that is what's happening right now.  From time to time, I hear about something that strikes me to the core.  It enrages me, it saddens me, it inspires me, or it disgusts me, and I can't stop thinking about it.  For instance, if someone has a seriously ill or dying child, it hurts my heart to imagine what that family must be going through, and I can't get it off of my mind unless I write about it.

In the past few weeks, I have had three friends come to me with horrible things that have happened in their lives, and it all makes my blood boil.  Why?  Because their lives have been forever changed, and they are sorting through terrible messes, by something that someone else did.  Someone else made a choice, and now my friends have to deal with that choice.  And, honestly, it makes me sick.  It makes me sick to look at these people I care about, who are hurting tremendously, from something that someone else did to them that they had absolutely no say in, and know that their pain could have been avoided.

The worst part?  All of these events involve children.  And that makes it even worse.

For some reason, our society is all for selfishness.  Not selflessness.  We are constantly told that OUR needs come first, that we deserve to be happy at all costs, that we should put ourselves before others, regardless of how it affects anyone else - even our children.  And, I'm sorry, but I truly believe you lose the right to be so selfish once you have children.  Agree with me, disagree with me, I don't care.  This is something I believe vehemently.  You lose the right to choose your own selfish needs over anything else once you have kids.   You owe it to your kids to make good choices, to make the right choices. 

So, if you feel like robbing a liquor store, and you have kids, you don't get to disregard their well-being and make the choice to do what you want.  Feel like getting high?  Tough.  You have kids, and your job is to look out for them and do what's best for them.  Unhappy with your life?  Figure out a way to be happy that won't hurt others around you.  Unsatisfied with your marriage?  Tempted by another?  Too bad.  You owe it to your kids to make the right choice and to try to make it work at all costs.  And, to me, there is no reason that can possibly justify any of these things - these things that will hurt and devastate the people around you.  Nothing.

And if one more person says to me, "Oh, I know someone who went through something similar and their kids are just fine," I will scream.  Scream, I tell ya.  Of course kids end up okay - they are resilient- but that's not an excuse to do whatever the hell you want.  Just imagine how much MORE okay they would be if they didn't have to go through what they did.  Imagine how much better their lives would be if their needs had been considered in the first place - not after the fact.

The worst part is that all of these things are widely accepted by our society.  And, by accepted, I mean no one says anything about it.  We try to stay out of the affairs of others because we think it's none of our business.  But, maybe that's the problem.  The problem might just be that we're so afraid of offending others that we don't say, "Hey, what you're doing is NOT okay.  It's not okay."  We make excuses, "Oh, she wasn't happy," or, "He made a mistake."  But, like I said before, there is no justifiable reason you can give me that warrants you doing something in which you knowingly and willingly hurt others.  No.  Justifiable.  Reason.

We justify racism, we justify hate, we justify greed, we justify addiction, we justify adultery, we justify corruption, and none of it is okay.  It's not okay.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." A-freaking-men.

We try to blame others, we try to blame our past, we try to blame our present, we blame our parents, our spouses, our teachers, our friends, our socioeconomic status - but you are responsible for the person you are and the choices you make.  Not anyone else.  No one can make you make a terrible and hurtful choice against your will.  At the end of the day, your actions are a reflection of the person YOU are.  They are not a reflection of anyone else.

And, if it's the last thing I do, I vow to be that voice for my sons.  If they do something in which they knowingly hurt someone else, you bet your sweet bippy I will say something.  I will tell them that they made a bad choice, that they knowingly hurt others and that's not okay, and that they need to rectify their mistakes and make better choices in the future.  Because, at the end of the day, I don't know that anyone else will.  And, I don't want my children to be so selfish that they devastate the lives of others without thought or care.  That they intentionally hurt other people because they're so selfish they make up some bullshit reason that half of their family and friends willingly believe.  I want them to make good choices, to work hard, and to not give up even when things are tough.  And, so help me if it's not the last thing I do on this Earth.

But most importantly, I want them to still have faith in people - to see that there is still a lot of good out there in the world.  But, I'm losing some of that faith myself as I see the selfish acts of others day in and day out, as I see so many people hurt unnecessarily, as I watch people make bad choices with no remorse or no acknowledgement or no desire to better themselves in the future.  Just excuses.

Well, that is my rant.  If you don't agree with me, I really don't care.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Take heed 'cause I'm a lyrical poet

In the past few days, I've been keeping track of some of the things Gavin has been saying.  Most specifically - words he mispronounces.  Because it happens at least four times a day.  Now, these aren't things that he just says once or twice.  No, no.  They're things he says all time. 

For instance, a few times a week we practice his handwriting.  I consider this a win-win situation.  His handwriting improves; he gets fruit snacks as a reward.  Everybody's happy.  Except that he doesn't call it handwriting.  What does he call it?

The other day, he asked me if I would help him find all of his "action chiggers."  I said, no, but I would help him find all of his action figures if he wanted me to.

In Toy Story, one of the character says, "Do you want a piece of me?"  In Gavin's brain, this translates to, "Do you want a piece of meat?"  So, I almost lost it the other day when he was messing around, got hurt, and promptly told me, "I pieced of meat myself."  Oh, you did, did you?

If I ask him to try a new food, and he doesn't like it, he tells me it's asgusting.  No matter how many times I try to tell him it's DIS-gusting, he says, "I know, it's asgusting."

Trying to explain the Olympics to him took some time, patience, and creativity.  It's hard for him to understand why the U.S.A. isn't in every event.  I don't think he gets it, though, because anytime a new even comes on, he asks me which person or team is "Captain America."  We always root for Captain America.

The other day, he said, "amicos."  I said, no, it's amigos.  He said, "No, it's Spanish."  Gotcha.

He's pretty obsessed with the Lion King, and often walks around singing the "Hakuna Matata song."  It goes something like this:
It means don't worries
For the rest of your days
It's our problem-free possumy
philosophy mossumy
Hakuna Matata

We're still trying to straighten that one out.

But, my favorite by far is this one:

Lately, he likes to watch PBS Kids instead of Disney Channel in the morning (which I don't mind because the shows are much more educational).  So, during every commercial break, they advertise their website at "P-B-S-kids-dot-O-R-G."  He says: P-B-S-kids-dot-OR-G.  And that's all I have to say about that.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I'll get you to stop picking your nose, but you might be scarred for life.

Today, after I picked Gavin up from daycare, he wanted to read a few books.  Since I'm tired of reading the same books over and over and over and over and over (get the picture?) again, I decided to pull out Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.  I mean, come on, who doesn't like funny poems?  Gavin's into silly and gross and funny things, so I thought it would be entertaining to pick out a few poems and read them to him (I made sure to pick ones that had pictures with them).

As we were flipping through, I came across this poem:


Inside everybody's nose
There lives a sharp-toothed snail.
So if you stick your finger in,
He may bite off your nail.
Stick it farther up inside,
And he may bite your ring off.
Stick it all the way, and he
May bite the whole darn thing off.

And, I thought, "Awesome!  A poem about nose-picking!"  I figured it would be a perfect silly poem because I probably tell Gavin 14,592 times a day to stop picking his nose.  Literally, I probably say it at least seven times per hour.  

So, I read him the poem, and then we discussed it.  I said, "See, Gavin, you can't pick your nose because there's a sharp-toothed snail that lives up there, and if you put your finger in your nose, he'll bite it.  If you're not careful, he'll bite it off."  I then proceeded to put my finger partway in my nose and then screamed when the pretend snail bit at it.  He laughed.  And then we moved on to the next poem.

As I read the next poem, he wasn't really paying attention.  "Mommy, pick your nose!"  No way!  I'm not putting my finger up there!  The snail might bite it off!  "You're just kidding, Mommy!"  Am I?  Put your finger in your nose and see.  See if there's a snail up there!  "No, you pick your nose!"  Not a chance!  That snail is not biting my finger!

Then, all of a sudden, he jumps up off of the couch.  He returns seconds later.

"Mommy, I just looked in the mirror and there's no snail in my nose."  Are you sure?

"Yes.  I didn't see one.  Pick your nose, Mommy!"  No!  There's a snail up there and if I pick my nose he might bite my finger.

 He gets very quiet.  He looks at me for a long time.  "Mommy, look up so I can see in your nose.  I don't see a snail."  Oh, he's way up there where you can't see him. 

Suddenly, his eyes start welling up with tears.

What's wrong?  "I don't want there to be snail in my nose, Mommy."

I was just kidding, Gavin.  It's just a silly poem.  There's no snail in your nose.

"You were just kidding, right?"  I don't know.  Stick your finger in your nose and find out.

More tears. 

And now, I'm laughing.

Gavin, it was just a silly poem.  It's fine.  There's no snail.  "Okay, then I'm going to pick my nose."

And because I can't resist: Okay, but be careful. 

"Mommy, I'm mad at you."  Why?  "Because you're lying.  There's no snail in my nose, and you're lying to me."  (Note: both hands are on his hips as he says this to me.)  So, at this point, I'm laughing so hard I can't stop, and he's just getting angrier and angrier. 

Okay, Gavin.  I'm sorry.  I was just kidding.  There's no snail.  It's all made up.  There's nothing to worry about it.  It was just a silly poem.

"But, Mommy, my nose is running!"  Then get a tissue!  "What about the snail?"

Sigh.  There's no snail.  It's fine.  Just get a tissue.

We went around about this for over thirty minutes.

But, you know what?  I never once saw his finger go near his nose . . .

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thank you for eating your dinner . . . in under two hours.

Gavin might be the slowest eater on the face of this planet.  I wish (for my sanity and my impending grey hairs) that I were exaggerating.  But, alas, I'm not.

Now, I know that I've mentioned before that he's a good eater, and he is.  By good eater I mean he eats a diverse selection of foods - probably more diverse than many adults that I know.  He'll still try new things, and he never really complains about what I serve him for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

It's just that it takes him two freaking hours to eat every single meal.

We went to a baseball game a few weeks back, and he ate a hot dog and chips.  It took him two and a half hours to eat the damn hot dog.  That's averaging one bit every twenty minutes, I think.

Why is he so slow?  A variety of reasons.

First and foremost, the child has to go to the bathroom twice at every meal.  I kid you not.  This is always guaranteed to happen when we're out to eat.  It goes something like this:

We order. 

Not two seconds later, Gavin announces that he has to go potty.  I take him to the bathroom, he goes, we return, and all is well. 

Until our food arrives. 

I cut up whatever he ordered, and just as I'm about to get the second or third bite of my food into my mouth, he announces that he has to go again.  I sadly look at my food, sigh loudly, and take him to the bathroom AGAIN. 

It happens every single time without fail.  Without freaking fail.

Now, let's look at a typical lunch.  I try to make Gavin's lunch and then sit him down to eat while I'm feeding Kaleb (because, consequently, they're both hungry at the exact same time).  So, I'll make him, say, a grilled cheese sandwich with applesauce and carrot sticks.  I make him sit down, he picks up a carrot, and I commence feeding Kaleb.  Two seconds later, I look over, and Gavin's lying under the table.  I tell him to get up, and he says, "But I fell out of my chair."  Uh huh.  Right.

He gets back up in the chair, eats a spoonful of applesauce.  I work on burping Kaleb, and next thing I know, Gavin is riding his scooter down the hall.  I yell at him to go sit down, and he does, but only after he tells me something "really important" (i.e. "I.  Killed.  Mufasa.").

After a few threats, he sits in the chair for an entire five minutes, but only manages to eat one more bite because he's busy singing a new song that he's just composed.  Sadly, it's not about how he's going to hurry up and eat.

About thirty minutes in, I'm losing patience, and he's lying upside down in his chair.  Since I'm now done feeding Kaleb, I go sit at the table with Gavin, and he sees this as a prime opportunity to talk.  And he talks, and he talks, and he talks, until finally I have to tell him that I'm not going to talk to him until he's done eating.  That's okay, though.  He just talks to himself then.

About an hour in, the threats get serious (throwing away toys, removing his tongue, etc.).  And, somewhere between 1.5 and 2 hours, he finally eats the last bite.  And I kind of want to cry tears of joy while simultaneously choking him (not really choke him, but you get the idea).

And guess what happens not even 20 minutes after he's finally released from the table?

"Mommy, I'm hungry!"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Things that are really easy when you have two kids

Some people might think that when you make the leap from having one kid to having two, things get more difficult.  And, those people would be absolutely freaking right.  Almost everything becomes twice as difficult as it was before, but that doesn't mean that other things don't become twice as easy.  You see, when you have two kids (or even three or four or five), there are things you become really good at . . . and these things are incredibly easy.

For instance, it's really easy to:

- Empty the dishwasher . . . over a period of seven hours.

- Prepare delicious dinners . . . by driving through McDonald's or picking up a $5 pizza because as soon as you turn on the stove to start to cook, shit is going to hit the fan.

- Graciously accept compliments from friends and strangers alike.  (Wait, are you saying, "Oh, you look really tired," isn't a compliment?  Shit.)

- End up with bodily fluids all over you.  It goes something like this: you're changing a diaper, your four-year-old does something naughty, you pause to correct his behavior, and poo comes flying at you.  Literally flying.  

- Challenge the Guinness Book of World Records for the shortest period of time any human being has slept and considered it a night's sleep.  (For example, I slept for two whole hours last night.  Woohoo!!!!!!)

- Have patience . . . with almost nothing, including anything that makes a loud noise and threatens to wake up the kids you finally got to sleep after a two-hour-all-out-battle-in-which-you-were-the-victor-but-felt-defeated-by-the time-it-was-over.

- Get drastically behind on work and completely forget to pay bills.  And often, forget where the hell you are and what time it is.

- Lose track of what you're doing . . . thereby ending up with conditioner still in your hair after exiting the shower on multiple occasions.  And, sometimes, you don't even notice it for a few hours.  (I make myself feel better about this by pretending I was doing a deep conditioning treatment.)

- Consume a ridiculous amount of food in a short time . . . because you've been up for four hours but haven't been able to eat breakfast, so once you can eat, you just shove anything and everything in your mouth in a two-minute period.

- Change outfits multiple times throughout the day . . . not because you just have so many cute things to wear but because you've been spit up on three times, peed on twice, and had an entire juice box squirted all over your lap.  Oh, look, I'm on to outfit #7 for the day!

- Choose to laugh instead of cry because if you cry it will just make the headache you've had for 15 hours straight that much worse.

- Create a really long list of things you want to accomplish, and feel exhilarated when you actually accomplish one of them.  Or maybe even half of one of them. 

- Roll your eyes at people who tell you they're "tired."  Yeah, that six hours straight of sleep that you got must have been really rough.  I hope you can make it through the day.  Or, maybe you should just take the day off and stay home and rest up. 

- Leave your alarm clock unplugged for weeks, because, let's face it, you're always up.  Mine was unplugged two weeks ago and counting.

I'm certain there will be even more skills I'll be able to brush up on in the near future . . . especially once teething rolls around!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oh, is that so?

I think it goes without saying that Gavin has quite the imagination.  As he get older, and has more experiences, his imagination is growing (if it can actually do that?).  I watch him play with his toys, and I hear him incorporate different things from books we've read, movies we've watched, and things we've seen.  However, his imagination is slowly starting to creep into our everyday lives, and our conversations are becoming more and more interesting.

For instance:
Gavin: Mommy.  There something I don't want to tell you.
Me:  You can tell me anything Gavin.
Gavin: No, it's terrible.  I can't tell you this terrible thing.
Me:  It's okay, Gavin, you can tell me.
Gavin:  Big sigh.  One time . . .(dramatic pause) I got lost in the jungle.

Oh, yeah?  Glad you shared that with me.

Gavin: Mommy, bend down so I can whisper in your ear.  I have a secret to tell you.
Me:  It's okay, Gavin, you can just tell me without whispering in my ear.
Gavin: No, I have to tell you in your ear.
Me:  Okay, fine.  What is it?
Gavin:  I killed Mufasa.

Really, all this time I thought it was Scar . . .

Last night, he wanted to have a sleep over with his cousins.  He was excited about it, until bedtime rolled around.  I think the fact that I was still there and hadn't left yet was the deciding factor in his not actually staying the night.  Shortly after all the kids were in the bed, he comes downstairs crying.

Me:  What's wrong, Gavin?
Gavin:  I'm scared.
Me:  What are you scared of?
Gavin:  Bears.
Me:  Well, I'm pretty sure they got rid of all their bears a long time ago, so you can just go back upstairs and go to sleep.
Gavin:  No, Mommy, I'm scared of bears.

After repeated attempts to get him to lie down on the bed (knowing he'd pass out as soon as he did), I ended up taking him with me when I left.  When we were talking about why he didn't end up having a sleepover with his cousins, he again mentioned that he was scared.

Me:  There was nothing to be scared of, Gavin.
Gavin:  Yes, there was.  I was very scared.
Me:  There aren't any bears in Aunt Amy's house, Gavin.  That's just silly.
Gavin:  Not bears, Momma.  I was afraid there was going to be a space storm.
Me:  A space storm?
Gavin:  Yes, I'm afraid of space storms.
Me:  Well, we're not in outer space so I don't think you have to be too afraid of space storms, Gavin.
Gavin:  But, Mommy, Earth is in space.


As he has more and more experiences, I cannot wait to see what else he comes up with.  Or, maybe I should be afraid . . .

Sunday, June 24, 2012

That is such a great idea that I think I'll pass on it.

I've created a monster.  In an effort to find fun and different things to do with Gavin, I've spent a lot of time searching for great ideas.  When I would come across one, I would say to him, "Hey, Gavin.  I have a great idea . . ." and then tell him what exciting thing we were going to try that day.  Well, it didn't take long for him to catch on.  Now, he has "great ideas" every day that he shares with me.  I think, to this point, I've passed on 97.6% of them.

His most recent "great ideas" include:

- getting a pet snake

- building a pirate ship and taking it down to Florida

- baking chicken cupcakes and putting ketchup and maple syrup on top of them

- buying a real rocket ship and flying it into outer space

- have a luau

Now, I'd like to expand on the last one because it falls in the 2.4% of ideas that I haven't passed on (I just freaked you out with the math right there, huh?).  So, somewhere, Gavin got the idea that he wanted to have a luau.  And, me?  I was like, "Yes!  That's a great idea!  Let's have a luau!"

So, we had a luau.  It was a complete and utter failure.

First, the beach ball that we bought at Family Dollar had a hole in it.  (Shocking, I know.)

Second, we couldn't find any leis.  And, honestly, what is a luau without leis?

Third, we made fruit kabobs that looked amazing.  And 0.12 seconds later, Gavin dropped them all on the floor.

And then I had this idea that we would get a coconut. . .

So, first let's discuss false advertising.  This coconut had a giant label that said it was an "EZ OPEN" coconut.  That should have been my first clue.

Upon arriving home with said coconut, I actually read the instructions.

With an ice pick, poke a hole through the eye into the center of the coconut and drain the liquid.

Oh yes, let me go grab my ice pick.  It's right next to the duct tape and rope I keep in my serial killer kit in the trunk of my car.

Coconuts have eyes?  Where the hell are they?

Well, since I didn't have an ice pick, I used a nail.  But it wasn't long enough so only three drops of liquid came out.  So, I thought, "Hey!  I'll use this wooden skewer!"  This was a fabulous idea . . . until I realized that getting the skewer out was a lot more difficult than getting it in.  So, there I was with a coconut that had a wooden skewer sticking out of it - even after employing three pairs of pliers. 

At that point, I thought, "How much liquid can there really be?  I'll just open the damn coconut without draining it first."

So, following the instructions, I gently tapped on the score marks with a hammer - anxiously waiting for the coconut to magically open.  Twenty minutes later, I'm bashing the coconut with the hammer and breaking out in a small sweat.

Finally, the coconut bursts open, and I realized there is a remarkable amount of liquid inside of a coconut, and consequently on my floor and my counter, and my cupboards.

Sadly, the coconut itself didn't actually taste any good.

We did, however, make a surfboard out of cardboard and have a great Hawaiian-themed dance party.

So, damn you Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for giving Gavin the amazing idea to have a luau.  Damn you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Blog

In an effort to actually remember the infancy of my second child, Kaleb, I've started a new blog.  While I will still post funny and memorable things on this blog, my other blog is more of my way to remember all of the things we tend to forget when our children grow up so quickly.  If you're interested, check it out:

I Will Sleep Again One Day

I'm starting to wonder if I'm a tad bit overprotective . . .

Last night, I took Gavin and Kaleb on our first adventure together.  By adventure, I mean that I drove them to the ice cream stand, went for a short walk, and let Gavin play at the park for about 45 minutes while Kaleb snoozed in the stroller.  The ice cream part was uneventful - other than the fact that Gavin ordered what he wanted (Superman ice cream on a waffle cone) and then promptly ate more than half of my ice cream (chocolate and vanilla soft serve).

After we finished our treats, we strolled over to the park.  When we got there, we encountered a younger couple with their two kids - one boy who was around Gavin's age and another boy who was about 8 months old.  I can only think of two words to adequately describe the older boy, whose name was Sage: Spider. Monkey.

This kid was everywhere.  He was barefoot and dirty (as little boys should be), legs covered in scraps and bruises, skinny and sun-tanned, and climbing all over everything.  He was jumping off of the swing mid-air while his dad was pushing him, he was recklessly climbing all kinds of things that he should be, and I almost had half-a-dozen heart attacks just watching him.  I was certain that an ambulance would have to be called at some point, but luckily that didn't happen. 

In contrast, Gavin (who does have his fair share of scrapes and bruises) was overly concerned about getting sand in his shoes (until I threatened to chop off his feet).  When Spider Monkey Boy came racing over and pushed Gavin out of the way so he could get to the top of the slide first, Gavin simply walked away.  The two, however, did become fast friends and chased each other around for quite some time. 

Gavin and Spider Monkey Boy
In the meantime, the 8-month-old (Nolan) was crawling around in the sand while his parents, who were snuggled up on the grass, watched from afar.  Now, by sand, I mean dirt.  Mixed with a little gravel.  Every time he picked some up, I cringed, waiting for him to put the dirt in his mouth.  He crawled wherever he pleased, and on multiple occasions parked his diapered butt at the bottom of the slide while other kids came flying down unaware that he was there.

As I watched all of this go on, I probably said, "Gavin, be careful," more than a dozen times.  Be careful running in your sandals, you might trip.  Be careful because there's a baby at the bottom of the slide.  Be careful hanging upside down on that piece of playground equipment that I'm certain has a name I just don't know what it is.  Be careful standing on top of that very tall slide.  And on, and on, and on.

So, maybe I need to chill out a little.  But, I'll be damned if I would let my baby crawl around in dirt. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

I spy with my little eye something that's getting really old really fast.

Like most four-year-old kids, my kids talks.  And he talks, and talks, and talks.  From the moment he gets up, until the time he goes to sleep at night.  He talks when he's eating.  He talks when he's in the bath.  He talks when we're in the car.  He even talks when he's playing and watching television.  I wouldn't be surprised if he talks in his sleep.  He doesn't talk to himself or his toys - he talks to me.  Honestly, I can't complain too much because I would rather he talked to me all the time than not at all. 

Lately, however, we can't just talk.  No, instead, we have to play games.  Two games in particular - "I Spy" and a rhyming game.  At least five times a day, he asks to play "I Spy."  The problem is that he's not very good at it.  For instance, he looks right at the object you're supposed to be guessing.

"I spy with my little eye something . . . RED!"  Um, how about the stop sign that you're staring at?

Or, the other weekend, he wanted to play in the car during a thunderstorm.

"I spy with my little eye . . ."  You see something?  Because I can't see shit right now.  And I should probably really focus on driving, dude.

He also asks to play when we go for a walk in the woods.

"I spy with my little eye . . . something . . . GREEN!"  Um, we're in the woods.  Everything is either brown or green.  Trees?  Green.  Bushes?  Green.  Grass?  Green.  River?  Brown.  Rocks?  Brown.  Benches?  Brown.  There seriously are no other colors to choose from.

It would be so bad if he didn't want to play it all the time.  And, I mean all the freaking time.

The only thing that can detour him from wanting to play "I Spy" is  playing this rhyming "game" he made up.  Basically, he says two words and I say yes if they rhyme and no if they don't.  It's not hard, but it's . . . interesting.

"How about boat and goat?"  Yes, those rhyme.

"How about house and house?"  Well, they're the same word.

"How about moose and groose?"  Well, if they were both real words then they would rhyme.

"How about sucka and fucka?"  Um . . . yes, those rhyme, but let's not say them anymore.

"How about soap and rope?"  Yep.  "How about rope and soap?"  Those are exactly the same words you said two seconds ago; you just reversed the order.

Then  . . . the other day, as we were waiting for the ultrasound tech to come get us out of the waiting room FULL of people:

"What rhymes with dick?  How about Rick and dick?  How about sick and dick?"  Ok, let's move on.
"What about pick and dick?"  Okay, seriously, stop saying that.  Pick a new word.

No idea where he heard it, or if he just coincidentally said it thinking he was making up the word, but everyone was staring at me. 

And, lucky for me, he stood next to me the entire time I was having my ultrasound, talking right in my ear, asking me if pairs of words rhymed.  The.  Entire.  Time.

So, it was a nice little surprise when he took a nap once we got home.  Because for an hour, it was absolutely quiet . . . except for the sounds of him kicking the wall as he slept.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Maybe calcium supplements are in order, but I think I'm doing fine.

After being ill over the weekend, I for some reason started thinking about strength.  Ironically, a friend posted something on Facebook last night about not feeling strong enough.  But, what does it mean to be strong?  In our society, we often thinking of someone who is fit.  We also equate strength with stoicism or apathy.  We look up to people who seem to never show emotion or fall apart. 

But, I don't want my sons growing up thinking that way.  Once you become a parent, strength takes on a whole new meaning, and it's demonstrated in various ways.  And, as you get older and experience more of the life's ups and downs, that definition also changes.

I want my sons to have a more realistic view of strength.

Strength is not stoicism.  Strength is not apathy.  It doesn't take strength to hate someone.  It doesn't take strength to be mean, unkind, or rude. 

Strength is being able to pick yourself up off of the bathroom floor after you've been sick for an hour in order to get a heating pad for your child who is having growing pains in his leg.

Strength is being at the end of your rope but somehow finding a way to take a deep breath and speak calmly to your child after they've just spilled an entire glass of milk on the floor (after you reminded them six million times to be careful).

Strength is allowing yourself to cry and then wiping away those tears and putting on a great, big smile.

Strength is not allowing other people to ruin your day, but instead, acknowledging that they've done or said something unkind and then moving on.

Strength is finding a way to be courteous to everyone, regardless of their attitudes and behaviors.

Strength is allowing yourself to see people for who they really are and not trying to change them - to just let them be themselves.

Strength is knowing when to say enough is enough - at work, in relationships, and when eating a disgustingly delicious brownie sundae (although that last one might be the most difficult).

Strength is not letting the actions of others be a reflection of you but understanding that it's merely a reflection of the kind of person they are.

Strength is stepping on a toy in the middle of the night and resisting the urge to smash it against the wall even though your foot hurts like hell.

Strength is having the courage to establish healthy boundaries with people who have hurt you and maintaining those boundaries when they're challenged.

Strength is finding your limits, recognizing your flaws, and working within those restraints to continuously improve as a person.

Strength is the ability to play I Spy 500 times in one day and not completely lose your sanity.

Strength is kindly ignoring people when they try to tell you how you should feel or what you should be doing - even though they have absolutely no understanding of your situation.

Strength is being able to stifle a laugh when your child loudly asks, "What rhymes with dick?" in the middle of a crowded waiting room.

Strength is being able to bite your tongue when you know the words you are suppressing would only be unkind and damaging.

Strength is allowing yourself a few moments to mourn what "should be" but isn't, and then moving on and making the best of what is.

Strength is not allowing your disappointment in others to affect your outlook on people in general.

Strength is trying when you know you're probably going to fail and not feeling like a complete failure because you gave it everything you had.

Strength is finding just one more way to keep your child occupied while you continue to wait and wait and wait at the doctor's office (and not strangle the receptionist if she tells you one more time that it will only be "a few more minutes").

Strength is being able to carry a child, a purse, a diaper bag, a backpack, two bags of groceries, a pizza, a sippy cup, and a latte and not spilling one single thing.  It's also a skill that is finely tuned once you have small children.  So, if you're not there yet, don't worry.  you will be.

read to be read at

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Motherhood IS my gift

There are few people out there who would argue against a day that celebrates every woman who is a mother.  Even fewer would say that being a mom is an easy job.  It is an incredibly hard job, but that's not news to anyone.  So, even though this is a day meant to thank all the moms out there for their selflessness, their unconditional love, and just the sheer amount of bodily fluids that they have cleaned up over the course of their children's lives, for me, it's also a day about celebrating being a mom.  Not everyone gets this life-changing opportunity.  And while flowers and jewelry and pedicures and lunches at fancy restaurants are appreciated, getting to be a mom is the best gift I could ever ask for. 

There are so many things that come along with being a mom that are priceless, that many other people don't get to experience, and some that only a mom gets to experience.  And I'm not talking about changing diapers, making doctor's appointments, going on field trips, remembering the snack for soccer, doing the laundry, cooking meals, packing lunches, surviving on a minimal amount of sleep, or any of those sorts of tasks. 

No, I'm talking about things like getting to carry another human being inside of you.  Sure pregnancy is uncomfortable and, frankly, pretty gross at times, but it is the most amazing experience that only you and your child share.  No one else gets to feel your child moving and hiccuping and growing like you do.  No one else gets to know your child like you do during those nine months - what makes your child wake up and move around, where his or her little feet are at any moment.  Of course, no one else gets the heartburn or stretch marks either, but I'd happily make that trade any day.

There's the magic that comes along with being a mother.  You know, the ability to take away the pain of any cut, scrape, or bump with a small kiss, the way you instinctively know exactly what your child needs from the minute they are born, how your body just molds to your child, whether you're rocking them or carrying them on your hip.  There are many, many times when your child is sad or hurt or happy, and at those moments, no one else but their mom will do. 

I cherish things like getting to tuck my child into bed.  Not because I'll finally have a little peace and quiet (that's just an added bonus) but because of the closeness we share in those few minutes.  We sing songs, we talk about our day, we come up with silly sayings and rituals that we repeat nightly, and we read books.  I honestly think that those ten minutes I spend with him are one of the main reasons he's comfortable talking to me about anything - even things as difficult as feelings.

I also relish in the few moments in the morning when my son climbs into my bed, even though we're both awake and ready to get up.  Again, these are some of the best times I have with him.  We talk about the things we did the day before, the things we'll do that day, or we make up silly stories.  And those moments are all mine. 

The pride and the joy I often feel when I see my son acting in a certain way or saying a certain thing is beyond words.  Despite all the doubts and uncertainties that come along with parenting, those are the moments that really make me feel like I'm doing something right - when people tell me he's kind and he's polite, I know I had a hand in that.

There are also those tiny, fleeting moments that happen all the time: holding his sweet little hand in mine, knowing it will never be this small again, looking at his face and thinking he's the most beautiful thing I've ever laid eyes on, the way my heart melts when he randomly tells me that he loves me. 

I could go on and on.  There are so many amazing little things about being mom that easily outweigh all the hard parts.  No matter what life throws at me, no matter how hard things gets, I look at my son every day and think I'm the luckiest woman on this planet.  Except maybe when I'm cleaning up puke.  I don't seem to be able to make myself feel lucky about that.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I need to make a phone call, so it's probably time for you to be super needy.

In my last post, I briefly discussed how I'm trying to spend a lot of quality time with Gavin before his brother arrives in a few weeks.  You know, give him some extra attention and do a lot of fun things with him before all of my spare time is filled with changing diapers and washing spit-up out of my hair and off of my clothes.  Oh, and not sleeping.  That, too.  He's definitely enjoying all of this "Mommy Time."  He's eating it up.  Unfortunately, he might be liking it a bit too much.  The kid is stuck to me like glue.  Not like Elmer's School Glue, but more like Crazy Glue.  He's like my black lab in a sense.  I could pet the dog all damn day, and he'd still act starved for attention.  Starved.

Even though I spend the majority of the day giving Gavin my undivided attention, he still acts like I haven't given him enough.  Especially once my phone rings or I have to make a phone call.  The other night, we were sitting on the couch watching a movie together.  We were snuggled up under a blanket, watching the movie, and he was in a movie-watching trance.  My phone rang.  At the time, Gavin was so engrossed in the movie that he didn't seem to notice.  I quietly got up, went into the bedroom, and attempted to have a conversation.

Two seconds later, here comes Gavin, on his scooter, into the bedroom.  He doesn't just come in to see where I am; he suddenly has something super important to tell me.  And, he wants to jump on my bed while holding my hand.  Even though he didn't notice I was alive two seconds ago during an intense scene from the movie, he suddenly can't live without me at this very moment - this very moment when I'm trying to have a brief adult conversation.  I attempt to leave the room so I can actually have a conversation, and he grabs his scooter and follows me.  I loathe that scooter by the way.

If that's the worst his attention-seeking got, I would be okay with that.  But, it's usually much worse.  If I'm sitting on the couch trying to talk on the phone - like the day I was calling the cable company - he'll come over, climb on my lap, climb on my head, whisper in my ear, jump on the cushion next to me, pull on my hands, bark like a dog, or start crying over some fictitious boo boo he miraculously acquired. 

And, this doesn't just happen when I'm on the phone.  The other day, I was trying to listen intently to my doctor as he explained the general idea behind how upcoming c-section should go.  Mid-conversation, there's Gavin, pulling on my arm, crying because he can't get the Lightening McQueen coloring app to work on my iPhone.  I tried to ignore him, but it was quite difficult to do since he was ramming his head into my rib cage.

I've tried many times to explain to him that he needs to wait to talk to me until I'm off the phone unless it's emergency - you know, if he's on fire or something.  But, that appears to be going in one ear and out the other.  In fact, I'm not even sure it's going in. 

So, I'm thinking that when I suddenly have an infant whose needs will need my attention a majority of the time that things are going to get . . . interesting.  Very, very interesting.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mommy Guilt Revisited: Slightly serious with a dash of humor

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about the tremendous guilt I felt after Gavin was born with a birth defect, and how I eventually spent a lot of time working to somehow compensate for that.  At the time, I felt like a terrible mom.  I told myself that I had put my own goals and needs before those of my child and my family.  I was really hard on myself about not being to do all of the "mom things" I thought I should be doing with him because I didn't have the time or the energy.  Well, I'm rethinking all of that now. 

You see, part of the problem is that for most of my life, I've let the thoughts, opinions, and criticisms of others affect me more than they should.  It's something I've gotten much better with, but it's still a battle at times.  Directly or indirectly, others made me feel that the time I spent focusing on advancing my career was selfish - that I was only concerned about me.  And, I allowed people to shape my opinion of myself.  I felt selfish.  I felt that I had let my son down.  But, the truth is, I wasn't being entirely selfish, and I did what I did for my son regardless of what anyone else chooses to believe.

I knew I wanted to get a job at a community college so that I could have a more flexible schedule and earn a better living.  A more flexible schedule would finally give me more time to spend with my kids.  Better pay would allow me to provide them with more experiences.  I didn't want to make money just to make money.  I wanted to make money so I could take them on trips to Disney World, so maybe one day I could buy a small cottage up north where we could spend our summers making memories, and so I could afford things like a boat that would provide for hours of entertainment and wonderful childhood recollections for my kids.

I'm not saying I did it in the best way possible.  I'm not saying I wasn't stressed and cranky - believe me, I was.

But, you know what?  All of my hard work finally paid off.  All those years of working three jobs, not turning down the opportunity to teach night courses even though I was exhausted and tired, taking classes to advance my education - all of that ended up getting me where I am today.  Today, when I have an entire extra month of summer vacation.  A whole month that, this year, will be devoted to giving Gavin a lot of attention before his brother arrives in a few short weeks.  Today, where I have a job that allows me to only work four days a week without sacrificing any pay - an entire extra day I get to spend with my kids every single week.  People say, "Oh, it must be nice."  And, it is.  It is nice, and I worked my ass off to get here, and I made a lot of sacrifices. I get to reap the benefits now.

Now, I finally have the time to do all those "mom things" I felt guilty for not having time to do before.  I have time to create a whole alphabet out of animals with Gavin.  I have time to make turtles out of bread, to take him to the baseball field and hit "home runs," to make rockets out of left over cardboard, and to go on adventures with him.  And that's all I ever wanted.  That's been my goal from day one.

I'm not trying to be super mom, I'm not trying to be perfect, - lord knows I'm chalk full of flaws and I embrace them now - and I'm definitely not trying to make other moms feel bad or guilty.  I'm simply enjoying this time I have with my kids - this time I have because I worked incredibly hard to earn it.

And the guilt?  The guilt has dissipated.  I know now that I am doing what makes me and my son happy, and no other opinion matters.  I now know that my efforts weren't futile or selfish or completely misguided.  I feel like I'm doing a good job as a mom, and no one - not even the ever judgmental societal beliefs - can convince me otherwise.

On a lighter note, I'm worried that spending ALL this quality time with Gavin is going to backfire on me once the baby gets here.  Why?  Because now the kid is stuck to me like glue.  The other day, I took him to my office - where he's been dying to go.  I let him help me make copies and put things in binders.  We played with math things, and we walked around campus.  Then, we had a picnic and went to the zoo.  After that, we did alphabet animals and had a "dinner date."  Somehow, even after all of that, he hadn't had enough of my attention.  When we finally got home, I went to use the bathroom, and rather than playing with his toys or watching television, he laid outside of the bathroom door and talked to me.  And, I thought, "This can't be normal.  We must have some healthy attachment."  I guess we'll find out in ten years if he has a "mommy complex" or not. read to be read at

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Golden Rule or some crappy adaptation of it.

For one reason or another, the old saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," has been stuck in my head lately.  You know, The Golden Rule that we were all supposed to learn in kindergarten or first grade that basically boils down to, "Treat people the way you would like to be treated."  Yeah, that one.  I don't know why - though I have a few suspicions - but it's been playing over and over in my head for days now.  Once I stopped treating it like a bad 80's pop song that was trapped in my head, I got to thinking about this . . .

Do we really do this?  Do many people actually treat others the way they would like to be treated?  Or, do we simply treat others the way the treat us?  It may sound like the same thing, but it's not.  For instance, if I want my son to be patient, I should be patient with him.  Instead, I often find myself directing him to be patient, and then I turn around and tell him to hurry up.  (I counted the other morning - in one hour I told him to hurry up six times.  That's once every 10 minutes.  So much for patience.) 

I think we do this often in the various relationships in our lives, as well.  Well, if she can't make time to call me, then I'm not going to call her.  If he's going to be rude to me, then I'm going to be rude to him.  If she's mad at me, then I'm going to be mad at her.  If he can't listen to me when I need someone to talk to, then I'm not going to listen to him.  And on, and on, and on. 

And, honestly, where does that get us?  Now, we're all not speaking, and if we are, we're rude, angry, and not listening.  All because we're choosing to treat people the way they treat us, rather than treating them the way we would like to be treated.  So, we're all stooping to each others' crappy level.  Great. 

I thought of this the other day when Gavin hit me in the face with a stuffed toy.  I said to him, "How would you like it if I hit you?"  If I started hitting my kid because he hit me, I'd end up in some serious trouble.  "But, officer, he hit me first!"  I don't think they'd buy that one.  At some point, I have to be the adult, the parent if you will, and set a better example.  So, why don't we do this with the other people in our lives?

Part of the reason, in my opinion, is because it can be exhausting at times.  It's hard to feel like you're putting a lot of effort into treating someone a certain way,  or investing a lot of time and energy into some sort of relationship/friendship, and there's no reciprocation.  It's defeating, and I'm not saying that we should continue pouring effort into being incredibly kind to people who are unkind to us, or investing a great amount of time in people who won't invest time in us.  That's just silly. 

But, if you're constantly putting forth a great effort to be kind, and someone is continually apathetic or even rude, it doesn't mean you have to be apathetic or rude back.  In fact, I've found that I often feel really shitty if I'm rude to someone who has been rude to me.  I don't feel justified; I don't feel vindicated; I just feel like I sold myself short.  Instead, I just decrease the amount of effort I put forth while remaining polite and courteous.  That seems like a better option to me.

Again, I think this stems a lot from my (often idealistic) ideas of raising my kids right.  What kind of people will they turn out to be if they continually witness me stooping to the level of others.  What will they be like as adults if I color on their arms after they color on mine?  If I bite them back when they've bitten me?  If I break one of their favorite toys because they broke a vase I really liked?  Pretty sure they might end up in jail.  Or a psychiatrist's office.  Probably both.

So, that's my philosophical rant for the day.  Or maybe it's just my justification for trying to remain true to the person I am, and the person I want to be, in spite of the actions of others.  Or, maybe I need another hobby.  Or a beer.

Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm going to have to get back to you on that.

Gavin has always been an inquisitive child.  He began asking "why" well before his 2nd birthday, and he never stopped.  Normally, his questions are things I can either answer or provide a reasonable guess to.  Usually, I can answer, "Why?" with, "Because that's just the way it is."  But lately, his questions are becoming increasingly difficult to answer for a variety of reasons.

The other day, in the car, I told Gavin he couldn't put his window down because it was too cold and windy.  His response: "Where does wind come from?"

Uh . . . .

"Does it come from the blue clouds or the white clouds?"

Um, well, the blue is the sky.  So, I guess it comes from the white clouds.  Sounds good to me!

Seriously, how are you supposed to explain wind to a four-year-old?

While discussing babies one day, he asked me, "How do they get the baby out of the mommy's belly?"

Um . . . well, the doctor opens up the mommy's belly and takes the baby out.  (Not a lie.  Gavin was a c-section baby, so I was telling the truth.  I just left out the part that some babies get out of their mommy's belly a different way.  Honest omission.)

But, he didn't stop there. . .  "How does the doctor open up the mommy's belly?"

Really, you want me to go into detail about this?  Because it's pretty gross, kid.  So, I'm either going to go with, "Magic!" or "Very carefully!"  That works for me.

Clearly, Gavin wasn't satisfied with my answer to the question because the next day, he informed me of exactly how he got out of my belly:

"The doctor didn't take me out of your belly, Momma.  You downloaded me off of the computer, and then I came in a box.  You opened the box and since I didn't have a mommy, you got to be my mommy."

Okay, I'll buy that.  Works for me!  Awkward and uncomfortable questions averted.

For today.

Or at least for the next hour.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's not like it's rocket science . . .

I'm often amused by the articles I see flashing across the screen on sites like MSN.  Attention-grabbing headlines promise new and revolutionary information, but then you start reading, and you see that it's just more of the same old information being recycled in a different format.

The other day, I happened to see in the headlines an article entitled, "10 Reasons Why it's Hard to Lose Weight," or something similar to that.  Honestly?  Someone needed to write an article about why people have a hard time losing weight, as if this is ground-breaking, earth-shattering information that no one knew about until this very article was written, enlightening us all and forever changing the health of millions of people across this country?  Do people honestly not know why they have a hard time losing weight?  Because if they don't, let me offer some insight.

Reason #1: Donuts
People have a hard time losing weight because donuts are incredibly delicious.  So is cake.  And danishes.  And ice cream.  And brownies.  And cookies.  And pizza.  And hot wings.  And cheeseburgers.  On top of that, none of these things are very expensive to buy.  You can get cheap, deliciously unhealthy food everywhere.  And, you can disagree with me all you want, but there is no way a spinach salad will EVER taste better than a slice of New York style cheesecake with a chocolate crust that's been smothered in a delicious berry sauce.  Never ever.

Reason #2: Restaurants
I love going out to eat.  I actually enjoy cooking, but there's just something about the atmosphere of a restaurant that makes me feel all warm and cozy.  The biggest problem with eating out is that most places give you about two-and-a-half times the amount of food that any normal person should ever consume in one sitting (or in a single day for that matter).  On top of that, they usually give you bread, chips and salsa, or something else to eat BEFORE you even attempt to wrangle the elephant-sized portions of food they're about to serve you.  The worst part is that it usually tastes so good, you just want to keep eating . . . and eating . . . and eating until there is no way you could fit one more morsel in your mouth.  Now you're stuffed, and you're feeling quite ill, but damn was it good.

Reason #3: Too many channels to choose from
Most people would probably spend more time outside going for a walk, riding a bike, or playing with their kids, but it's hard to find the time when you have 12 new episodes of Glee to catch up on.  And, when you're done, you have 6 episodes of some other show, and 4 of another, and on and on.  (I honestly can't think of any more shows to name because I may be one of the rare few who don't actually watch TV unless it's sports . . . or Cupcake Wars . . . because cupcakes are delicious, too.)So many TV shows to watch, so little time.  And, let's be honest, it takes WAY less energy to plop your butt in front of a TV than it does to go for a walk.

So, if you want to lose weight (and I warn you - this is about to be EARTH-SHATTERING information), eat healthy, avoid things like donuts and cake whenever possible, and exercise.  I know this is new, and you'll need some time to process it, but I think it might just work if you try it.  I'm almost certain.  You're welcome.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Inspiration has struck, but, beware, it's serious.

Lately, I've been uninspired.  Frankly, life has been trying and exhausting, and my energy has been spent just trying to sort it all out.  Most of my writing has been in the form of text messages to friends and family or emails to my students and co-workers.  Occasionally, I'll vent a good five pages worth in my journal.  But, other than that, I've had nothing I felt was worthy of sharing.  Gavin hasn't done anything exceptionally naughty, hilarious, or cute.  I mean, he's always cute, but nothing worthy of a 500-word post. 

I also know that most people like humor.  People don't want to listen to me preach or shout from my soap box.  But, sometimes, what I'm inspired by is, unfortunately, serious.  And so, I've been inspired and feel the need to share.

Lately, I've been again reminded of how short life can be.  We take so many things for granted without realizing that we're doing it.  The other day, I was worried about my highlights.  Too blonde.  Gotta get them fixed soon.  Too much upkeep.  And then, I got on Facebook, and saw that one of my high school classmates had passed away after a battle with cancer.  And I thought, really?  Here I am worrying about my hair when someone else just lost their life?  I can't imagine anything more ridiculous.

It got me thinking about how much time we waste worrying about all these incredibly unimportant things.  So much energy is spent worrying about picking the right paint color, finding the perfect pair of jeans, fretting about a snide comment someone made, or feeling bummed because Starbucks was out of our favorite flavor of latte.  The truth is, if we choose to, we can find dissatisfaction in a lot of things in life.  Nothing ever really goes according to plan, and if it does, we never take the time to thank our lucky stars.

How often do you wake up and think, "I am so lucky that I woke up this morning and, despite the small pain in my lower back, I'm incredibly healthy!"?  How many of us take a few moments each night before we go to bed to recount all the good things we have in our lives, even if life isn't remotely close to what we imagined it to be?  When were constantly engulfed in worrying about things that don't really matter, it's hard to gain that perspective.  And that's when life steps in and does it for us - gives us that perspective we've been needing.

Just over a year ago, a former student took his life at the young age of 21, and it got me thinking.  I came to the conclusion that we spend too much time on things that don't matter.  We expend so much energy being angry, holding grudges, and fretting over materialistic things when we could be using that energy to show love and compassion to the people who are important to us.

And, in the midst of a chaotic time in my life, I needed that reminder again.  So, once again, I turn my focus to the things that I think will matter most when all is said and done.  Most importantly, my children.  Every moment I have with them is precious.  And while there is still laundry to be done, bills to be paid, and sleep to catch up on, I am committed to savoring as much of my time with them as I can - putting down the cell phone, turning off the television, and giving them my undivided attention - even if it's only for an hour at a time.  At the end of my life, I want nothing more than for my kids to know how incredibly important they are to me.

Instead of wasting my time worrying about the opinions and choices of people who have hurt me, or don't deserve my attention, I'm going to use that time to invest in the relationships I have with the people who truly love me and want the best for me.  Rather than fretting over the gossipy co-worker, I'm going to take a moment to catch up with the co-worker who has been nothing but kind and compassionate towards me.  The fact is, I can't change the way people think, the way they act, or the choices they make.  And, the more time I spend trying to change them, the less happy I will be.  I'm happiest when around people who make me happy, people who care about me, and when I'm returning kindness to those who have shown it to me. 

Rather than dwelling on the past or losing sleep over the future, I should do my best to enjoy what's going on right this moment - reality.  It feels great to take a moment to just stop and enjoy how the sunshine feels on my face, so why don't I do it more often?  Why don't I take a few more moments to be thankful for what I have?  To cherish the people who love me?  To enjoy what's going on right this very moment?  To find something incredibly wonderful about my life, even if it feels like a lot of things are wrong?  To say, "Today might have been really shitty, but man am I lucky to be healthy!"?

When my time is up, I want to be remembered in a certain way.  I want my kids to be incredibly proud of who I was, the choices I made, and the way I treated others.  I want them to know that I loved them more than anything on this Earth and that I considered their well-being in every single choice I made.  I want them to say that I enjoyed life - every last second of it.  So, I continue on my path to try to live the life that would allow my children to one day say those things about me.  It's not an easy road, it takes a lot of effort to stay on track, but I only get this life, and I don't want to waste any more of it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This is the part where I stare at you blankly.

As any teacher will tell you, the job has its moments.  There are times when it's very rewarding, and there are times when it feels like you're bashing your head against a brick wall repeatedly.  Near the end of the semester, it's often more of the latter.

The semester is winding down, so consequently, students are beginning to panic.  They panic about their grades, final exams, and various other things.  So, on a daily basis, students say things and ask me things that leave me no other option but to stare at them blankly - not because I'm trying to be rude, but I'm so astounded that I literally don't know what to say.

Example #1:
Last week, a student raised his hand and said, "Do we have to take the final exam on the day that it's scheduled?"

My response: "Yes, you do, unless you have extenuating circumstances that prevent you from taking it at that time on that day."

Student: "Well, I was hoping I could take it early because that's my birthday."

My response:  Blank stare.  Blank stare.  Blank stare.

And then, I realized he was serious.  I had to stifle a laugh.  It didn't go well.  I laughed really loud.

I then explained that by "extenuating circumstances" I meant you were deathly ill or had to have major surgery. 

His response: "Oh, so you're saying I can't take my exam early?"

No, you can't.

Did I mention that the exam is at 10:30 . . . in the morning?

Example #2:

Today, I was approached by a student who has missed three times more classes than she's actually attended (even though attendance is required).  When she does come to class, she doesn't take notes because she's too busy trying to keep her eyes open despite the four Red Bulls sitting in front of her.  She doesn't do her homework.  She's missed 4 quizzes and 1 test.  Most of her test and quiz answers are "IDK" (I don't know). 

Student: So, um, I wanted to talk to you about my grade in this class.  Um, I'm not sure if I'm going to pass or not, but, like, do you know if I studied really hard for the final could I pass?  And, if I'm not going to pass, what are my options?  I mean could you just withdraw me so I don't actually fail if I'm going to fail?

Me:  Blank stare.

Student: Or, like, is there some extra credit I could do so that I can pass?

Me:  Blank stare.

Student: So, um, do you think there's a chance I could pass or bring my grade up?

The final exam is in a week-and-a-half.  12 days.  You haven't passed a test or a quiz yet.  So, yes.  Yes, you can still pass.  You study really hard, I'll make the final exam worth 1 million points.  I'll also give you 2 million points worth of extra credit.  And then you can pass.

Me:  Have you looked at your grade?

Student:  No, I haven't.  I also haven't picked up a lot of my tests and quizzes because I've been gone and stuff so I don't really know how I did on them.

Well, considering that you put IDK for 90% of your answers, how do you think you did on them?

Me:  Well, the first thing you need to do is see what your grade actually is.  Remember that the final exam is worth 25% of your grade, so if you did well, it would help but not an enormous amount.

Student: Oh, yeah, well I'll totally do that.

And then I pounded my head against the wall because, frankly, it just seemed more productive.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

But, he always redeems himself . . . .

The beginning of the week was a little rough.  On numerous occasions I thought, "Wow, Gavin's going to be lucky if he makes it the few short weeks until his 4th birthday."  Monday morning started immediately with tears upon his awakening.  Why?  Who knows, but there were a lot of them.  Granted he had spent most of the weekend playing with his cousins and having a ball, so I'm certain he was tired.  But his tiredness just translated into him being pretty damn pathetic.

He cried about getting out of bed.  He cried about what he wanted to eat for breakfast.  He cried about which cartoon he was going to watch.  He cried about what he was going to wear to school.  When I told him that he needed to go put his socks and shoes on (just as he does EVERY day), he laid on the ground and told me he didn't know how.  He had miraculously forgotten how to put socks and shoes on overnight.  I informed him that if he couldn't be a big boy and put his socks and shoes on then I was going to throw away his "big boy" toys.  So, he promptly sat down, put his left shoe on his right foot, and then tried to put his sock over his shoe.  He looked at me and said, "See, I can't do it." 

This game persisted for at least five minutes.  I spent most of the time rolling my eyes at him behind his back.

Daycare drop-off was another source of drama.  He wanted to take his blanket to daycare for nap time (fine).  Then, he wanted to wear the blanket over his head as we walked into the room (not fine).  When I wouldn't let him, he threw himself on the ground.  When I threatened to take away his iPad privileges, he got up, but he refused to open his eyes or detach himself from my leg.  When I tried to leave, he clawed at my legs, grabbed my hands and arms, and did everything he could to physically attach himself to me.

And that was only the first two hours of Monday morning.  During the next 48 hours, he also did things like wipe his chocolate-covered face on a white t-shirt that was lying on the ground, lick my cell phone, and smear his spaghetti sauce face all over the wall.

At that point, I was fairly certain he would spend at least six months in timeout. 

But, he always redeems himself . . .

Poor little Arnie beagle isn't doing well.  The vet is ruling out a bulged disc, but something has happened that has made it almost impossible for him to move his back legs.  The other possible diagnoses don't look good.  When I went to sit on the floor and pet Arnie, Gavin said to me, "Mommy, you need to be careful.  Arnie is very sick.  You have to pet him very gentle.  Don't touch his legs.  Just pet him like this."  He promptly walked over, gently rubbed the dog's head, gave him a kiss, and told him, "Good boy, Arnie." 

It melted my heart, and I instantly forgot about everything naughty thing he had done up until that point.  Even when it seems like the devil has possessed him, he has the ability to be the kindest kid I have ever met.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Charlie Part II

It appears that Charlie has returned to our home . . . in a reincarnated form so to speak.  In case you don't remember, I got Gavin a puppy, who he named Charlie, over the summer.  And then I had to give him away a few months later.  Gavin still talks about Charlie all the time, even though he cried a lot and whined about Charlie when he was living with us.  He clearly remembers only the positive aspects of their short-lived relationship.

The other day, I took Gavin to see the butterflies at the Fred Meijer Gardens.  He was more interested in the gift shop than the butterflies, but he still had a pretty good time.  Upon leaving, he wanted to get a stuffed butterfly . . . I talked him into getting something else.  He picked out a small, stuffed dog that he decided to name . . . Charlie.

Gavin has a lot of toys.  He has quite a few stuff animals.  But, I've never seen him take to one quite like this one.  In fact, I'm a little concerned that he thinks the dog is real.

Charlie goes everywhere with us.  He rides in the car with us all the time.  (Gavin tells me that Charlie likes to look out the window.)  Charlie goes to work with me since he can't go to daycare (or at least that's what I tell Gavin - I really just leave the toy dog in the car).  Charlie goes on walks and on bike rides as well.  Charlie eats breakfast with Gavin (he really likes cereal), and snuggles up with him in bed every night.

Don't be fooled - there's training wheels.  You just can't see them!

When we went shoe shopping for Gavin, we had to look for shoes for Charlie as well (even though I told him dogs don't wear shoes.  But, apparently Air Bud wears shoes, so . . .).  Charlie gets sick and has to lay on the couch for a little while.  He always feels better after a short rest, though.  Sometimes Charlie's naughty and has to go in timeout.  (I'm not really sure what he does to earn a timeout, but it must be pretty serious). 

I had to put my foot down when it came to taking Charlie swimming, giving Charlie a bath, and letting Charlie go potty in the toilet.  Charlie is a very affectionate dog (considering that he's not alive).  He gives kiss, likes to be pet (but don't pet his eyes), and loves having his tummy rubbed. 

I'm not sure how long will Charlie receive this vast amount of attention for, but if he starts trying to sleep in my bed with me, he's going to find himself in the dog house pretty quick.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Public Service Announcement: Naming Your Child

As a teacher, I often find myself saying, "What the hell were his/her parents thinking?" as I scroll through my attendance lists.  Usually, when I take attendance on the first day of class, I make kids say their names aloud because I'm bound to royally screw one up if I try to read the names off the list.  In an effort to be "unique" parents take a simple name like Mackenzie and modify it to something almost incomprehensible like Mykhenzee.  It's great that you want a "unique" name for your child, but they're going to hate you when they learn how to write their names in kindergarten or when people constantly spell their name incorrectly.  And, I often wonder if parents realize that it still sounds exactly the same.  So, when I call out "Mackenzie" or "Mykhenzee" in class, there's still confusion as to which person I'm talking to.

But, that's not really the big issue I have.  Choose whatever messed up spelling you want for your child's name if that makes you happy.  What I'm more worried about are what I like to call the "What the F&*! Names."  Take, for instance, the birth announcement I saw in the doctor's office the other day:

"The proud parents would like to introduce you to Gangster Storm Stewart."



You named your kid Gangster?


And you thought that was a good idea because:
1.  When they get a job at McDonald's they get to wear a name tag that says "Gangster" and everyone will think it's a joke?
2.  For the rest of their young life, the entire classroom will snicker when the teacher calls out, "Gangster?"
3.  You thought it would make a really good lawyer/doctor/engineer name when they grow up?

I can't even make this shit up.

My advice to parents who are choosing a name for their child:  Choose wisely.  You might think it's "unique" and "different" but remember your kid has to have this name for the rest of their life, or at least until they turn 18 . . .

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Weird things that suck about parenting

First, I want to preface this post by saying that I don't think parenting sucks.  I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a parent, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.  Even on the days where I've been awake since 3:15am, unable to sleep for some unknown reason, and Gavin comes into my bed at 5:45am, just as I dooze off, jumping on the bed yelling, "It's time to get up!  It's time to get up!"  Or on the days where he's colored on the walls with a Sharpie while I was in the shower.  I wouldn't even trade it then.

When you get ready to have a child, you know there are going to be some things that are, well, less than pleasant.  You know you're not going to sleep, you know you have to change really disgusting diapers, and you know that you'll get puked on at some point.  You know about those things, you hear about those things, and you're prepared for them.  You're prepared to be a parent 24/7, except for the few times you're lucky to get a sitter for a few hours.  You're even prepared to have to get up at an ungodly hour to take care of a screaming child after you've knowingly indulged in one too many adult beverages, and you know it's going to suck.  You're prepared for its suckiness.  But there are some things that suck that you didn't think about when you were anticipating the arrival of your bundle of joy.

Things like slivers.  Not slivers in you, but slivers in your child.  They suck.  They really, really suck.

Today, the weather was gorgeous.  Every last lingering pile of snow melted, the sun was out, and it was warmer than it's been in a long time.  This, of course, meant that there were piles and piles (and piles and piles) of dog shit in the yard that had to be picked up before I could enjoy any sort of outdoor activity with Gavin.  (Not because I never pick it up but because my dog needs to go a minimum of three times a day for some unknown reason).  As I was searching for doggy doo-doo landmines, Gavin decided to get out his wheelbarrow and push it around the yard.  Less than two seconds later, he came running up to me, holding his hand, crocodile tears in his eyes, lip quivering, and showed me that he had a sliver.

"No big deal," I naively said.  "We'll go in the house, get the tweezers, and it will be out in no time."


I sat him on the bathroom counter, grabbed the tweezers, and before I was even six inches from his hand, he pulled it back and screamed, "Ouch!"

"I didn't even touch it yet."

"Don't touch my hand.  Don't touch my hand.  It hurts.  Don't bend my fingers back."

I explained to Gavin that I would get it out quickly and then we could finish playing outside.

He shook his head no.

"Fine.  If I don't get it out, it will get infected, and then it will hurt more.  And, you'll have to go to the doctor."

That argument was enough to convince him to allow me to at least look at his hand, and touch part of his arm, but I wasn't getting any closer. 

I bribed with a popsicle.

I gave him the popsicle as a distraction.

He was not distracted.

I endured 30 minutes of: "I want you to get it out.  Don't touch it, though.  It hurts.  Don't look at it.  Look at.  Don't touch it.  Get it out.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I want my daddy to get it out.  I don't want it in there.  Just leave it in there.  Stop, you're hurting me.  Ouch.  I want you to try to get it out in the kitchen.  I just want to go in the living room.  Don't bend my fingers.  I don't want to watch.  I want to watch."  And, it was all to no avail.  I was not getting within two feet of that sliver anytime soon.

No matter what I said, no matter what I did, I was not going to be getting that sliver out with tweezers, my fingernails, or anything else.  There were tears and tears and tears and a whole lot of frustration on my part.  There was no rationalizing with him.

So, now we're soaking the sliver, urging it to come out on its own.  I hope it listens.  If not, I'm not sure what I'm going to do to get it out.  One thing I do know, however, is that I never expected so much drama from a tiny sliver.  Slivers suck.