May 31, 2010

What Goes Around

A while ago my husband had the flu. He then shared it with my 3 year old. When you have a sick toddler and you are the care taker there's a pretty good chance that you will get the bug too. I tried thinking that I was instigating the Mommy-protection-bubble on myself when I would pick her up and rock her. Then my teenager that jinxed me when he said "You know when you are that close to her you are going to get sick too right?" Yeah, I guess I should have just left her puke on the floor for everyone to step in all week too, just so I wouldn't get sick. But I made the sacrifice and cleaned it up anyways. Her room really stunk. Both the area rug and the mattress took a hit. So I bought some of that Febreze and now it smells like vomit laced with fresh outdoor linens. Big Girl has sprayed it liberally and I've found it induces migraines, so I hid it up high in the front closet. Don't tell her, she knows how to move a chair and get what she wants.

So, this weekend I took Big Boy to a movie (just the two of us) on his "date-night" (btw he hates it when we call it that, the rest of the kids get a "date-night" when it's their turn with us, but his has to be called an outing....LOL!) and about 10 minutes into Iron Man 2 I started to feel weird. I had mapped out the days and figured I better get the tomatoes planted that day just incase. Sure enough, just after Scarlett Johansen takes Robert Downy Jr's fingerprints I had to run for the bathroom. I told Big Boy I'd meed him in the car after the movie. That is one long movie! As I suffered through the exhaust fumes in the parking garage trying to get myself comfortable I had the wild notion that my teenager would be so appreciative of me letting him sit there happily watching his movie while I suffered for 2 hours in the car. What was I thinking? Teenagers? Grateful? He wasn't -and it made me mad. On top of being sick I was now mad.

But over the past few days I have had many others come to my rescue. Some friends took the kids to church for me and another nice friend brought some dinner in. My husband was out of town you see. It is nice to have someone around for me to show my appreciation for. And tomorrow we are going to have a memorable memorial day waiting to see who the next victim of this virus will be.... Is it bad if I say I hope it's my teenager?

May 27, 2010

25,000 Emails

Yes that is what I have deleted in the past 24 hours. Are you shocked? Do you think me irresponsible? I can only claim ignorance in the category of all things technical. I leave those things to my Mac-savvy husband. I was under the understanding that Gmail had a bottomless pit of storage space so why bother with extra key strokes always deleting? My goal is to avoid that push button disease that Jane Jetson had. But after all that deleting I have been up to lately I am surely on my way to developing such a condition.

The reason I have been doing this is that my poor lap top seems sick. It has been extra slow lately. Shutting itself down and freezing up. Not good! We have two other computers in the house but that one is my main computer. Because who wants to go into a messy playroom/office space surrounded by toys on the floor to concentrate? Plus that room is just too far away (said with a whine). The other laptop is T's baby and I feel guilty if I get a fingerprint on it. I can eat cereal at my laptop! Heck it sits on the kitchen table. It's really amazing it hasn't had more illness due to toast crumbs that fall as I read all the blogs I am shamelessly following.

I had a friend over yesterday who saw all the photos and emails clogging up my computer, and told me I really needed to cleanse. So in hopes of a full recovery for my poor 6 year old 'silver bullet' (I just barely named her that), I have been on a deleting frenzy. In the beginning I categorized the emails meant for the trash can. Took out all the facebook comments. Then, yes I took down the comments left on my blog. I figure they are saved in my blog itself right? (Except the one or two I have not published.) Hi Megan from AZ who thinks I am a beast! I know- my own troll. I am so pleased about that.

Then I got serious and decided to just start deleting from the oldest to the present emails. It was interesting to look at the emails as the flashed past my eyes 100 at a time. Like the view-your-life-in-a-movie scene from Defending Your Life. Lots of categories: Ebay, book club, church, play group, etc. People and places came to my present mind that I haven't thought about much since 2005. I am not sure how to feel. It's like I've erased a part of my past that I had never intended to recover. Maybe I should just feel grateful for all the things I have experienced, and all the amazing people I have met during my crazy life of moving around in the military. But I can't help but feel a little off balance after just flushing all that information out into space. I guess there's always the movie to look forward to.

Cute Kid Contest

Over TeachinForth's blog I entered my 7 year old daughter in a cute kid contest. Call me crazy, but I can't figure out why she isn't winning. Then I remembered that I am supposed to link you there and encourage you to vote. And here I thought it was for cutest kid not for blogger with the most followers. Admittedly there are some serious cuties. I think the boy with the glasses is going to be a front runner. But seriously- look at the face on entry G and tell me you don't think she's to die for in cuteness?

If you agree then swing by his blog and vote for her! The winner gets more photo ops and with a cute kid like Big Girl that can't be a bad thing right?

Okay, I know I sound like a braggy stage mom... I'll stop now and go donate money to NPR or something noble like that to redeem myself.

PS- You can vote once a day : )

May 21, 2010

Strange Little Man/Etc.

Big Girl has had her first staring role in a play at school. Before you think I'm bragging too much, I will just inform you that no parents were invited to this performance, line memorization wasn't required, and even the invited 5th grade classes took a pass. The class performed 3 separate plays for themselves and the 2 first grade teachers. Still she couldn't have been more thrilled with her role as 'Strangle Little Man' in the 4 page skit called Rumplestilskin. She was quick to point out to me that the strange little man was indeed Rumplestilskin making her the star! She couldn't have lost that front tooth at a more appropriate time. The stranger the better right!? I didn't see the skit but heard it went well. I have been having fun calling her 'Strange Little Man' all week. What I love about it is that she relishes the idea of being a strange little man. I think that shows character and will open up all kinds of doors to her in the future.

Speaking of strange (and some of you may want to stop reading at this point), my 3 year old walked in on me in the bathroom two days ago and asked me what kind of private parts I had. More to the point, she asked if I had a penis. There, it's out there. I have been asked this before by my young children at this point in their lives and I find it helpful not to bust up laughing (that is, until you are around the dinner table with the rest of the family). I just told her "no, only boys have those and seeing as I am a girl I got none." She then went about her business, satisfied with my answer. I feel a bit like explaining that a vagina is just as good as a penis if not better. I mean, why do they wonder with sadness why I don't have that specific part? It seems like a very sexist world from a very early age. Why does it bug me? Not sure. Maybe a conversation for another day though. Maybe a conversation for me and a therapist some day.

On to another random thing: My kids with the ADD are seriously funny. Does funny go along with attention problems? Is it a coping mechanism for the sadness of not being able to walk into a room without forgetting what you went in there for (EVERY TIME!), I forget-therefore I make up something funny. My 1sr and 3rd boys have a touch of the ADD and they really crack me up. Of coarse nothing funny is coming to mind right now. Just trust me.

Funny unrelated story about Little Boy. When he was about 4 years old he had a fascination with the Spanish language. He'd ask me while running errands how to say different things in Spanish. I'd make things up by just adding and El at the beginning of a word and an O at the end. Example: car is 'elcaro'... Works for me and my preschooler! So we are at the post office, and I ask him if when he grows up if he would like to take Spanish in school. He says "not when I get big, but when I get black" What the? I suddenly realize that he associates people who speak Spanish as those with darker skin. So when his skin changes he'll be fluent in Spanish. Logical. I inform him that his skin color isn't changing, but he can still learn Spanish. Then he gets all disgusted with the situation and just as an African American lady passes by within earshot in the parking lot he says in his loudest voice "You mean I am always gonna have this face and this hair?!" Like that is the worst curse ever. (He has red hair).

He's now 11 and his face and hair have not changed too much. He does have a girl at school with a major crush on him though (as evidenced by a pine-cone message on our lawn last weekend) so I think he's doing okay with the look he has going on.

May 18, 2010

Tennis Elbow Confusion

Tomorrow I go in for the 6th (an possibly final) appointment of occupational therapy for my tennis elbow. It has been an enlightening and painful experience. I am making slow but evident progress in the right direction but my faith in occupational therapists have taken a serious blow.

At my first appointment my appointed therapist instilled in me all sorts of faith. She seemed confidant and answered all my questions without hesitation. I didn't blink when she said stuff, I took her answers as the final word on everything. Then I came home and told my husband what she had said about this and that and noticed him raising his eyebrows a bit. The first cracks in her theories began there.

"She said that since I practiced dental hygiene for 20 years that it most definitely contributed to my problem... yeah... even though I had not a trouble during those years and it showed up 6 years after I retired... yes, that didn't make much sense to me either, but she said it-so..."

By appointment #2 when she messaged the heck out of my painful arm I had some doubts. That evening I was so sore I couldn't believe it. 'How can this be helpful?' I thought. At appointment #4 I was seen by another OT since my therapist had been called home early for an emergency. That guy didn't hurt my feelings when he told me that he wasn't a fan of deep tissue massage. Then he proceeded to tell me all the different schools of thought on how to get rid of tendinitis. Opinions vary from doing nothing and limiting elbow movement (impossible as a mother of 5 btw) to working out intensely with that arm to stimulate blood flow and healing, injecting plasma at the sight- yikes! He also told me to stop some of the things she recommended. I left feeling baffled.

I have been in the health care profession for a while and I feel that if you don't know something you should just be up front and say you'll have to look into it. Don't lie to an educated patient. It just comes back to bite.

So far my husband has been the best diagnostician in this whole affair, and I am convinced that the antibiotic I was on for my bronchitis in February caused my problem. Tendon rupture can be a side effect of Levaquin. I keep tracing my steps back to that fated day when I stood next to the wrong person at brownie scouts and caught that cough that let to bronchitis/pneumonia, sinusitis, and now tendinitis. I think next winter I will volunteer less for the sake of my health. In the mean time I will keep stretching, and keep my leery eye on that deep-massaging occupational therapist.

May 15, 2010

Jekyll and Hyde Mom

This morning at 6:15 my telephone rang. "Did I wake you?" my high-schooled aged son asked. "Why yes, yes you did" was my reply. "Yeah, so I need you to bring my AP test T-shirt to school for me so that I can be allowed to go to the AP tester's carnival today? Could you have it here by 12:00?" I mumbled that I would try. I got up, started my Pilates on the ball workout that is killing me! Half way through the torture my middle school aged son came down with my cell phone. A text had been sent requesting the T-shirt deadline be moved up to 10:15. This meant that I would need to cut my work out in half in order to leave enough time to shower and be presentable to walk into the high school after dropping off my kids at the elementary school. Because, who wants to be caught in front of teens without your make up on? Not me! Also I had another place to be from 9:30-11:30.

As I showered I thought to myself, 'am I one of those Moms?' You know the kind who are always running to the rescue if their kid drops the ball. Am I enabling my son? Teaching him to be irresponsible by saving his bacon all the time? Does it happen that often? Will he ever hold down a job? If not it will certainly be because I just had to bring him the AP T-shirt. Is it crucial that he attend the party? Would not being able to attend teach him a more valuable lesson? He'd thank me someday for being such a hard nose and refusing to give in to his every request right? He'd remember stuff and be more organized. He'd be thanking me in that college graduation speech of the future. Except, I thought about that Mom who just says "too bad for you kiddo!" and I didn't really want to go to lunch with her.

However the mom who just gives and gives and never complains... what's she like? Is she a pushover, or is she just really sweet? I kinda want to hang out with that mom, cause I think she's less judgy. I think her kids will be right there at her bedside when she's dying thanking her for all the forgotten lunches she rushed to the school before it was too late. Being remembered for too much kindness can't be all bad. Can it?

So I headed down to his room to find the T-shirt, still undecided. As I looked through his drawers I was horrified to see all the unfolded laundry that he had just shoved inside without folding. No wonder he folded so fast yesterday. He just didn't do it. I also found a drawer full of single socks. That would explain the mis-matching socks he wears all the time. I started feeling like a failure. I started to fume a bit. I found the wadded up T and headed upstairs. On our way out the door to school I still hadn't decided what I would do. Then I checked for my cell phone and it wasn't where it usually is. Not in my purse either. I seem to remember seeing it sometime this morning. I called myself... No answer. I checked downstairs where Middle Boy had been answering my text from before. No luck. I called again and this time I heard it coming from Big Boy's room. It was buried under clean unfolded laundry on top of his dresser. I suddenly made my decision. If I can lose my cell phone, then he can forget his shirt. We'd call it even, I thought as I drove to the high school. And later I treated myself to lunch.

May 10, 2010

The Lanyard

found at:

(And is there a mother out there who wouldn't think it a fair trade?)

The Lanyard --Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

May 09, 2010

Belated Birthday for Little Boy

I have already mentioned that Little Boy's birthday is the same day as our anniversary. Things can get a bit crazy around here but we aren't so busy that we didn't celebrate it at all. Here's video proof that we aren't such bad parents. My favorite part is when Little Girl keeps singing after we've all finished.

I can't believe he is 11 years old. Time has flown by. He is such a joy in our family. He is a perfectionist and a worrier. Due to the fact that he's my 3rd boy he has always been swimming upstream to keep up with his brothers and that has turned him into a hardworking individual that I really admire. Happy Birthday (late) Little Boy!

May 08, 2010

Something's Coming

Remember the song from West Side Story where Tony is in the back of Doc's store singing his heart out about something great that's coming? I love that one too. In fact I love all the songs in WSS. I don't even care that the Jets sing about tobacco consumption and that my kids repeat the lyrics. My least favorite used to be 'Maria' but I grew up and now I love that one too. He's so romantic, that Tony. Why can't men go walking around in dark alley ways singing about their love like they did back in the day?

ANYWAYS, Big Girl has discovered at the tender age of 7 a love for musicals (just like her mother did, again... back in the day), and I just love hearing her walk around singing songs like'Shapoopi' from the Music Man or 'I Cain't Say No' from Oklahoma. And now, whenever she sees these lovely almost blooming irises in our front yard she will sing 'Something's Coming'. I admit that sometimes I start her off when I see them first. We back out of the drive take a look to our left and burst into song, just like in the musicals. "Something's coming I don't know what it is, but it is, gonna be great! The air is hummin and something great is coming"
Well finally yesterday, our something finally came and it was great, just like we knew it was gonna be! Don't you just love spring?
AND we got a bonus in that after several nights of abandoned extraction attempts by her father, Big Girl's front tooth finally made it's way out of her mouth. It came out all by itself in her sleep and was almost swallowed in the morning. Congratulations Big Girl for finally losing a another tooth so you can catch up to that snotty-pants-girl who's keeping close track of everyone's mixed dentition in your first grade class. And thanks for being a good sport when the tooth fairy forgot to pay you the first time. Good things come to those who wait! And now we have a whole new reason for singing 'Something's coming I don't know what it is but I think that it is gonna be a tooth!'

May 05, 2010

Trucker Flap Girls Won't You Come Out Tonight?

So I have been looking back at my experiences with my step mother lately (I can call her step mom on the blog because #1: she doesn't read it and #2: It's my blog), and all the memories are not bad. There was the time she really stepped up and came to help out when I had my 4th child. She'd never offered her services before because I had a very nice Mother in law who would come, but this time T's mother was ill and needed medical treatment that would prevent her from making it. Even though during their stay (my Dad came too), I felt inclined to make nice meals for them while I was a week postpartdum, it was overall a nice experience that I was grateful for. Then there was the time she told me how proud she was that I had finished college and had a great job. I about picked up my jaw off the floor.

There is one time that really sticks out in my mind though. We were on vacation driving to Mexico for the Christmas holiday. This was something our family had done with friends for many years. This was not JoAnn's idea of a Christmas vacation. It always seemed to me that she had a harder time when we were all cramped together on vacation. Vacations that we used to do with our real mother that held no memories for her. She had some of her worst moments with us on vacations.

One day while driving south of the border, my sisters and I must have been in a silly mode (not uncommon and probably irritating- as a Mother myself I see that now). Anyways you know the trucker wheel flaps with the silhouette of the hot chick sitting to the side with her knees up? She's wearing some Daisy Duke outfit (or possibly not), and has long hair and great posture. You know the one? She's probably caused many truckers to stray from their wives while on the road. Well when you are driving for a week you see her everywhere. I made the comment that someone is making a killing on that image and I was all burned up about it because no one ever asked my permission when sketching me in that side pose. I should really be getting some royalties. I am sure this probably offended her. She didn't care for my overconfidence. But perhaps something told her to take a different approach. Instead of rolling her eyes she joined in. She told me she thought she'd posed for that sketch and that she should be getting some pay back for all the trucker-flaps sold across the country. We laughed hysterically. And for the rest of the trip we had our own running joke. "There we are again! sigh!" "When are we going to see that paycheck?" "Where can we find a good lawyer about this!" We were united over a slutty trucker flap.

So I am seriously considering this as a mother's day gift for her: A set of girly trucker flaps and maybe a fake royalty check. Don't you just think that spells out a step daughter's love and devotion? 'We didn't share a lot of love but at least we imagined that we both had the smokin' hot body of a trucker flap chick. Happy Mother's Day!'

May 03, 2010

Mother's Day?

Something like 21 years ago my family drove home from the dollar theater. The movie we had just seen stared a young Elijah Wood. I believe the title was Avalon. A pretty decent movie for a dollar. I remember the scene where Elijah dances in the hallway outside his classroom. Seems like it was because he had to pee. Or perhaps he was just glad to be out of class. Anyways there was dancing in a school hallway to be sure.

So as we are driving home from the movies there is some discussion between my parents, my sisters and I about the movie. What parts we liked, etc. The conversation turned awkward when my new step mom (who we weren't allowed to call 'step' due to the implication that she may just have an evil mirror hidden somewhere that she consulted with regularity), pointed out that the family was Jewish. Due to my limited experience as a 20 year old, I hadn't caught on to the nuances that make a person Jewish just yet. Ask me now however, and oy vey can I ever tell you what makes a person Jewish. I lived next door to Rabbi Anemer for 4 years! At that time, just after Avalon, my Jew-spotting-skills were pretty much bupkes. I vocalized my surprise that they were Jews. Her reaction was insulting. "How could you not know that they were Jewish!?" I responded by stomping in the house and slamming my bedroom door behind me. We hadn't lived in the same house together for more than I month and I already knew I'd have trouble with this relationship. She probably sensed the same thing.

Over the years things improved the the point where I could appreciate that at least this woman made my father happy. I was truly grateful for all the things she did for us. But there were always generous portions of criticism, and her own self importance. She was in a tricky spot being compared to my own perfect mother who had died 4 months before she entered our lives. I have tried to have compassion. But she made it difficult when she did things like give away my clothes to charity without consulting me, (and one of my favorite sweaters ended up walking in the door one day on her daughter's back), or telling my new fiance that he'd better beware, or making my kids feel uncomfortable upon breaking a glass at her home... on and on it goes. There's always another JoAnn story for us to laugh about while on the inside we are thinking why. Why does it have to be this way?

And now it's coming to a close. She is in the end stages of cancer. My poor father has had to endure this with 2 wives now. I am a mix of emotions wondering how to deal, and how to feel. How much effort does one make to improve relations when someone is on the way out the door? Is it considered foxhole nicety? I have had my kids send her notes in the mail with pretty artwork. Is that enough? I have talked to her on the phone, but not too long. We are considering a trip to visit one last time this summer. Too much? I guess I am feeling a bit of guilt for my part in our shallow relationship. It's almost too late to repair it. Maybe it isn't meant to be repaired. Am I a bad person if I can't wait to have alone time with my Dad? I can't wait to talk on the phone to him on speaker (the only way he does it these days) and know that it's just the two of us talking and I won't hear her chiming in back there. I've already told my Dad he can come and stay with us in the future for as long as he likes and I will totally set up a room for him with a large TV blasting FOX news 24/7. And if you know how I like my politics these days you know that is an ultimate testament of my true love for him. Maybe that is all the penance I need to do to make up for not loving his wife they way he envisioned....