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Monday, January 31, 2011

Oh, hockey games...

So, I ventured out into the big wide world this weekend for the first time since my surgery. My outings were to hockey games, go figure! Zach's team had three home hockey games. Home games...can you believe it? I was so excited. I haven't watched hockey in what seems like forever.

I also hadn't been out in the world in almost a week. It is strange how small your world becomes when it is confined to the walls of your house. I had to rely on others to provide me with outside entertainment. My world became very small.

Thank God for hockey this weekend. I got to interact with people, get some much needed fresh air and watch the boys WIN - not only win but win decisively. Three games and three shut outs! Way to go!

I love our hockey families. Talk about a great group of people. Hockey people get a bum rap. It's a shame. We can be loud. We can be obnoxious. We can get a little crazy. But underneath all of this insanity beat hearts of pure gold. There are some, as in any youth sport, who give all of us a bad name. Their behavior makes those of us who are "normal" cringe. I have said it before, hockey fans are not like other fans in all of the ways described above. But we are a loyal bunch. We put up with the total crazies because they are being the most loyal of fans to their own teams. Thank God for the crazies...they make the rest of us look GOOD!

Ah, you broadened my world this weekend. Crazy, you say? Yes, I say but we are in it for as long as my children love is for the love of my children

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Not the Newest

My license plate says it all. We are the TRVLN ZU. My car might not be the newest but it gets us from point A to point B quite nicely, thank you very much. The car is full of all of the trappings of a family who is on the road constantly. There are the gatorade bottles after practice. There are movies aplenty and usually snacks abound in the car. I have a Zoo. I do. It's a fun zoo but it's a zoo.

I think sometimes in life we get so busy...We are busy with activities. We are busy with school and work. We are busy checking out the stuff everyone else has. We just get too busy to focus on what really matters. We forget to look in at all the good "things" we have. I am not talking about actual things but the intangible things we have. Our families are tangible but the love we share in our families is intangible. It is so easy to look out at everyone else's stuff and be completelty dissastified with what we have, right in front of us. I think that is why we constantly want the newest, the best, the blingiest. People get busy and forget where to look to fulfill their heart's desire.

I try to remind myself to look within at what we have so I am not dissatisfied in my life. But I do sometimes find myself looking out at what others have and forget about both my zoo and my ZU. Both get messy. Both get dirty. One needs a new paint job. The other can always stand some buffing and cleaning behind the ears. Sometimes I want a new TRVLN ZU to get me from point A to point B. I want the newest, the best and the blingiest TRVLN ZU. I actually looked at new TRVLN ZU's while I was lying around in bed after surgery, but then I remembered the important stuff. I remembered how happy my Zoo makes me...dirt and all ~ for the love of my zoo!

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Ass is Numb

It truly is. I am not used to so much inactivity. The last time my backside saw this much downtime was when I was on bed rest with Zach. That sucked. This really sucks! I do not like be down. When I was on bed rest with Zach I was alert and could switch from position to position. I could lie flat. I could lie on my side. I could sit up. I could move around, in fact I wanted to move around because of the drugs they gave me to stop labor. But this down time is markedly different. I need to stay upright, so that means staying on my back side only. I need to sleep upright to minimize swelling, so that means staying on my back side. And really, I don't want to move. The drugs they gave me to help with pain have made moving like trying to swim through jello. So slooooooooooow.

Today is the first day I have been upright more than supine since Monday. I slept Tuesday and Wednesday away. Thursday I moved a bit just to prevent bed sores. Today I was truly up. I even drove Claire and her posse to dance. I haven't driven since,ummmm, Sunday? As I was getting in the car I whacked my head on the door of the car. I hit so hard I felt my teeth rattle....they could have rattled because they are moving, but the point is they rattled! I shook my head to regain a sense of normalcy. As I was shaking my head, Claire was prattling on and on about something or another and she repeated whatever it was she was talking about phrasing it as a question to me. I snapped. Do you remember Ally McBeal's secretary's line "Snappish!" Well, that was me in a nutshell! Snappish! Don't know if it was beacuse I rattled my teeth, Claire was going on and on or if I had enough of my ass being numb. I just know I can't sit still this long again or I will risk being Snappish all of the time...for the love children.

OK, Reality Check!

I may come unglued! Last night I had a mini-meltdown or as big of a melt-down as one can have when one's mouth only opens an inch! I confess, I don't get the kids. I just don't get them. They seem to think Mother Earth revolves around them. Last night, Stan fixed the kids' dinner while I sat on my numb back side and tried to not take prescription pain meds. (My jaw is very tender and my face feels like I have a massive sinus infection with a case of the mumps. But I want to stay away from the prescription meds.) The kids all ate and Stan left to take Lucas to hockey practice. This is where I fail to understand my kids.

I came into the kitchen to check things out. The kitchen was TRASHED! One thing I hate is a messy kitchen. To me a happiness is a clean kitchen, clean sink, clean floors, clean counters. The kids KNOW this. They also know exactly what their chores are after dinner. One kid has dishwasher duties. One kid has the responsibility of putting the leftovers away. One kid has to clear the table. And the fouth kid has to wipe down the counters and table and then swiffer the kitchen floor. Stan and I prepare dinner and they clean up. Seems pretty straightforward to me. The jobs change every week so no one feels like they have the "hardest" job --- forever! The kitchen scene I came into was unbelievable. The food was still out. The pots, pans, cutting board are all over the counters and not clean. The floors and counters have food and crumbs all over. I roll up my sleeves, start cleaning and growling all at the same time! ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!! If only I could open my mouth and yell! This is not how I wanted the evening to go.

I told the kids before my surgery that they were going to need to step up and make sure things got done so I didn't have to ride them all week. I guess they thought it meant I was giving them a "get out of work" pass not to do their chores! Nothing was done. Do you know how hard it is to yell when your mouth only opens ONE inch? Well, something must have clicked because I came into a kitchen that was nearly spotless! Thank Heavens! The little stinkers did a great job! But why do I have to growl (which is my jaw's translation of a yell) to get a point across? That baffles me. (I hated being yelled at when I was a kid. I would do anything to avoid being yelled at. My nose was dark brown.) At least they stepped up after I yelled. But why did it have to come to yelling? Why couldn't they just do the work they knew they were supposed to do?

After the kitchen it was off to study 175 vocabulary words with Zach for his English mid-term. A one inch opening in my mouth gets awfully tired, awfully quickly. Thank Heavens for Jan. He cleaned his room and it is spotless! Oh, for the love children!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another day, another tissue or two

I have been sitting on my rear since Monday and it is not a good feeling - my entire back side is numb. My last two blogs were done well before I left for the hospital on Monday morning. I didn't think it would be wise to write about our life in a drug induced stupor. This has been a whole new experience for me and I am sure it has not been my favorite life experience. There has been a lot of pain, a few bloody noses, lots of tissues and a table full of drugs. But it has not been the world's worst experience. My family has rallied around me, bringing me smoothies, soup and many hugs and kisses.

I am not sure, at this point, if I would go through this again. I am told I will be happy when all is said and done. I am sure I will. But I am ready for all of the pain and grossness to be over. I always tell my kids to enjoy the present and not wish their lives away but today I would gladly fast forward into March to leap frog through all of this discomfort. I understand, to some degree, the kids wanting to wish themselves into the future, they want to get on with the next phase of their lives. But they are not going to do it on my time. I am selfish with my kids. I will endure all the disgusting stuff from my procedure so I don't wish away my time with them. Who else would give me hugs and kisses as I sit here looking like a chipmunk with mumps?

I am truly blessed with the love of my children

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Confessions of a not so perfect Mama

Perfect. It used to be what I strived to be, as a Mama and as a person. Boy, is that a lot of pressure. Now I sit back and watch other moms strive for what I gave up. They are the moms who are constantly stressed, frazzled and freak out about the smallest details. I used to be there so I recognize all of the trappings of living life like that. My kids used to have to be dressed perfectly. The house used to be perfect, all day every day. God forbid one little thing was out of place in our house...what if a friend happened to stop by? The problem was, I was so stressed out at not having perfect kids, a perfect house or being perfect myself that I didn't have many friends. I was too intense and scary. I wondered why I didn't have friends. It was because I was the screaming Mama behind the scenes but the one who had a smile plastered on her face in public. Those two personas don't mix well. Think Sybil...

I am glad I gave up my quest for perfection. It is exhausting and life sapping. It takes all of the joy out of life. I may still be intense and scary but I think most of my friends will agree it's a funny kind of scary. I can laugh at myself. I still don't like a messy house and I apologize about the state of my house if a friend does happen to stop by but at least now I have friends. It is a much better place to be.

I had to give up the quest for perfection. It was killing me and hurting our family. What kid enjoys having their mom yell at them because they are just being kids and playing with the toys we have given them? I venture to guess not many. I know my kids didn't like it. I had to give up the quest for perfection because it was teaching my kids so many wrong things. Perfection isn't attainable and I don't want to create an environment where they believe that perfection is a holy grail. I want my kids to embrace life...warts and all. I think they understand that. I have not given up trying to be the best person I can be (I do fail miserably at that sometimes) but perfection is out of the equation. I still have high standards and hold the kids accountable. What has changed is my ability to say "Oh, well" when I have tried my best to make things awesome and I just can't get that one last little, tiny detail done. The one who has benefitted from this the most, I think, is Claire. Daughters are the ones most susceptible to having to achieve perfection. Society foists that on them but that doesn't mean I have to. I am the not so perfect Mama and that is OK with me.

Oh for the love of my children...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Having Some Fun...

Stan's having fun at my expense but that's fine. I am bringing this all on myself. This jaw surgery/going back into braces was all my idea. Not a medical emergency just a true pain to live with. Anyway, he is giving me new title ideas for my blog posts. I am sure you will see some of these titles as time goes on. The first title is "Spongebob Square Pants." That's coming soon ~ I think a centimeter of space in between my two front teeth will qualify me for full Spongebob status. How about this one "My Effing Mouth Hurts?" The time for that one is now. His third and final title (so far) is "Eating Corn Through a Picket Fence." Now that paints a charming picture! Hopefully, I won't be able to do that!

I do know through all of this it will help me be much more sympathetic to Lucas when he goes in for round two of his orthodontia and the again when Claire starts with her braces. Maybe that's why I subconsciously chose now to get this done. So I can sympathize with my children and for the love of my children.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Where the heck is Nana?

Today is it. Surgery day. Hopefully, they give me some good pain killers because I almost came out of my skin with the screw procedure...not sure what was worse, going in or coming out. I am so glad I changed my mind about them using the screws. That was a pain I never want to experience again. I had three babies without drugs, but that pain was UNBEARABLE! So hopefully, my doc will have something good for me.

The kids are prepared for the upcoming week, I think. I was telling Zach that I had everything ready for them so they could survive the week without me. I told him what was available for breakfasts and that Dad has dinner under control. As I was going through my spiel he interrupts me by putting his hands on my shoulders, looks down at me, ever so seriously and says "Whoa, whoa!!! Stop! What do you mean I have to fix my own breakfast? Where the heck is NANA?? She should be here taking care of us!" He doesn't want her here taking care of me. He wants my mom here to take care of HIM!

Ah, for the love of....My children!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sweet Comfort

I know I talk a lot about Zach and Claire in my blog. The reason is simple. They are the dramatic ones, the ones who constantly work me over, for good or bad. Lucas and Jan are the opposite. Lucas and Jan are the easy going ones, the ones who go with the flow. Thank heavens for them. They keep a great balance in the house.

Lucas the one everyone turns to for a laugh. He is quick witted and funny, when he doesn't try. He can get all of us laughing with his funny accents and general goofiness. Jan is so even keeled and easy going in our day to day operations. The only time he gets a little frazzled is when the boys go out of their way to scare him. Today, Lucas filmed him playing "Scary Maze" and his reaction was priceless. (Try it, if you haven't played it before.) All of the boys go out of their way to see who can be the scariest and get the biggest screams...makes for interesting mornings, let me tell ya'! I've seen them nearly lose their towels as they head form their bathrooms back to their bedrooms as they are getting ready for school. I think if they actually lose their towels it might just scar them for life!

It will be a different house around here when Jan goes home. Zach has said everything from "Jan is not going home," to "I don't know what I am going to do when Jan goes home. He is like a cool Lucas." Poor Lucas, not the cool little brother! But it goes to show how much Jan and Lucas are alike.

What a fun house we have...everything from drama to funny to scary! For the love of my children...I wouldn't change a thing!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ah, JEEZ!!!

These are not such simple times for Claire. Her competition dance team is getting ready for their first performance. Not so sure how she is going to handle the stress of this environment. There are so many moving parts to keep track of. She has her hat box, her garment bag, her dance bag and her makeup bag. In all of those bags she has little bits that need careful watch. For swimming she has ONE bag with three to four things in it...much simpler.

Claire nearly lost it yesterday as we were trying to get ready to go to dress rehearsal, eyes filling up with tears, quivering chin, shaking shoulders...nearly lost it. She is CERTAIN she has to wear her competition costume. I disagree...for the pre-dress rehearsal at the studio she is supposed to wear her black leotard. "I can't find one," she says, on the verge of Meltdown City. "I put them both in the laundry hamper," she tells me as she frantically digs through the hamper. Oh heavens, Claire, this is nothing to cry about! Crisis averted --- leotards found exactly where they should have been but Claire didn't look because she was too busy steering herself to Panic Highway.

As we were on the road to dance she tells me she forgot her dance bag at home. So we flip around to go get the stinking dance bag, all the while I am muttering a few choice comments under my breath! She is now 10 minutes late for pre-rehearsal. Gonna have to get a little more put together for this or it's just not gonna work!

I prefer simplicity. Swim bags, hockey bag....they may have a lot of parts inside them but it's all in ONE bag! Simple is not synonymous with dance so I am going to have to get ready for complex, but I will do it for the love of my daughter!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rescue Me!

Arrrrgggghhhh! My firstborn child is going to cause me so many gray hairs and wrinkles...oh wait, he already has!

With my chauffeur hat on I begin my daily rounds of pick ups and drop offs yesterday. I get dinner fixed in record time, meatloaf and acorn squash, a true comfort food meal for me.

Zach has a 7 p.m. meeting for his high school lacrosse team and from there he has to head straight to hockey practice. I go upstairs to check on him and get him headed downstairs for dinner. He is in the shower! In the shower! Why, why, why? He is headed to hockey practice! He says he smelled bad so he needed to take a shower. Again, I ask WHY, for the love of God, WHY? Call me crazy but I don't think it is necessary to shower before heading to hockey practice. I THINK he might get smelly there!

It is 6:40. The lacrosse meeting starts at 7. Zach hasn't eaten dinner. I think he might need some kind of sustenance to get him through hockey practice. He shovels some food in his face and goes back for seconds...the dinner plate is going in the car with us. As he is shoving dinner down his throat he reminds me he has hockey pictures tonight. He goes out to pack his hockey gear in between bites of meatloaf and I remind him he needs his dark jersey. We head off to the lacrosse meeting. Finished with the meeting, we head to hockey practice.

I do my favorite dump and run technique...kick him out of the car as I squeal my tires and peel away from the hockey rink. My chauffeur hat can be hung up for the night. Ah, sigh...but wait...why is my phone ringing and why is Zach calling? I just dropped him off, I think to myself.

"Mom, I have pictures tonight," he says.
"I know," I respond, "We went over that."
"I need my dark jersey," he tells me.
Deep through my nose, out through my mouth. REALLY? "Zach, I told you to remember your jersey." I am exasperated.
"You were rushing me out the door," is his lame response. You have to understand his jersey hangs right above his hockey bag in his locker. I say a few choice words to my brilliant teenager and tell him he will just have to borrow a jersey for pictures. "I can't. We have the team picture too." Well, crap! "Can you PLEASE bring my jersey? PLEASE?" Well, crap again! Beck and call Mama to the rescue!

Ooooooooh, for the LOVE children

Thursday, January 20, 2011


OK, first version of this stink, stank, stunk...let's try a little revamp!

My jaw surgery is Monday morning. I have been living in the land of denial until yesterday so now I hit full plan mode. Stan will take the day of my surgery off for but everything needs to be planned, down to a science. Dinners have to be done and in the freezer. Breakfasts are going to be the kids responsibility...normally I fix scrambled eggs and fruit smoothies, next week will be hard boiled eggs, fruit, Boosts or cereal. If they want anything warm they will have to fix it themselves. I have to make sure I have rides planned and kids covered for practices next week. It's like a battle plan and I need to get it ready to execute.

Usually, when guys go in for a procedure everything is taken care of by the Mama. When the Mama has to have a medical procedure done all ducks have to be in a row beforehand. At least, this is how it is in our house. I am not complaining or critizing. I am just stating a fact. Right now, my mind is spinning with all of the things I have to accomplish before Monday morning. I am not sure how long I will not feel like crap. But I don't like being held down by illness, injury or anything that knocks me on my ass. I am sure I will get moving too fast only to be knocked down again. The ortho assistant taking care of my braces and leading me forward in this procedure gave me all sorts of advice yesterday as she put my braces on. One thing she told me is to make sure I always have a tissue with me when I get up from lying down because I may just start dripping blood from my nose when I get up. UGH! This sounds worse and worse. I think I need to stock up on tissues.

But last night for the first time in a very long time I slept through the night and woke up with no throbbing jaw pain! Hallelujah!! I know there will be ups and downs is this whole scenario. Right now is a down because my cheeks feel like I ran a cheese grater over them. Next week will be on the down side too...something about having your palate surgically spread apart doesn't sound too good. There will also be the ups ~ I get to look like Spongebob for a couple of months and I may even get to be on the cover of "Hillbilly Weekly!"

This all takes careful oversight and preparation. How else am I going to get to sit around and admire my big, ol' gapped toothed smile? But plan and prepare I must...for the love of my children...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Everything's gonna be alright

Ah, so stinking sweet. That's what I think of Zach right now. We were talking about my braces and going back into them. We were talking about my nerves and how jangled they are right now. Zach says "Don't be nervous, Mama," going on to sing, ever so quietly, "Everything's gonna be alright." Awwwwwwww! Thanks, Zach. I know he will not be so happy with me telling this story but I can't help it. That kid is sweet and I am so thankful for him ~ and all of my kiddos. I think in our comings and goings, in the fast pace of life, we forget to focus on the sweetness of the day. I've been feeling a little grumpy lately but little things like that make the grumpiness fade away.

I thank goodness for the love of my children.

The Boys are Back

Whew! Casts came off! Lucas' is off, permanently. He has a splint to help keep that thumb safe during hockey. Zach's big, giant, mondo cast has been replaced by a short cast and he can now bend his arm at the elbow. Both boys have been cleared for hockey. Woooohooooo!!! Lucas can practice and play games. Zach can practice. Games will be allowed later. Thank goodness! That was a pain in the booty! Their level of activity was greatly reduced and I did not appreciate of their increased level of spazziness.

Both boys went back to hockey practice last night so the chauffeur hat came out of moth balls and is back on my head. The beck and call Mama is on the road, again. Thank heavens! I would much rather be driving them to and from activities than to have them sit in the attic addicted to "Lost." I know I have ultimate control over the whole "Lost" situation but I felt so bad for them with their broken bones I let them get away with it. No more "Lost" in the attic. Now, they can get out their pent up energy back where the engery the hockey rink!

We need to keep the bones healthy. I'm pretty sure the orthopedic surgeon would like to keep it that way; I know I would like to keep it that way. I don't need any more two for one specials when it comes to broken bones. I think I will hide the mountain board from Zach.

Oh, for the love children!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2 Hour Delay Followed by Early Dismisals

You have to be kidding!?! It rained last night (OK, maybe there was a LITTLE ice in the mix) so our school system decided the best thing to do was to call a two hour delay. I got the phone call at 5:44 - just as I was getting ready to get up. Now, don't get me wrong, I was thankful for the two extra hours of sleep. I'm not sure how I got back to sleep after the jarring ringing of the telephone but the important thing is I, amazingly, got back to sleep. It was blissful. I kept thinking of the Dr. Suess book "I Am NOT Going To Get Up Today" - especially the lines "My bed is warm. My pillow is deep. Today's the day I'm going to sleep." Ah, a little slice of unexpected heaven at the beginning of the week.

But then I got up and realized I have to pick up Zach and Lucas early so they can get their casts either shortened or off depending on which kid it is. I am picking Zach up at 12:30 so he can also get his new retainer now that his tooth is fixed - finally the hillbilly has left the building. He and I will grab a quick bite because he will miss lunch. Then we'll head over to pick up Lucas. The older boys left at 10 so that means I only have three hours to accomplish what I normally accomplish during the whole day. UGH! It's like having preschoolers all over again. Remember when we sent our kids off to preschool for the first time and thought "OH, JOY! I have a whole THREE hours to myself. What I am I going to do with all of my free time?" And then we quickly realized that three hours disappears faster than a toddler can throw a raging temper tantrum in the middle of Target because they are not getting the coveted sticky lollipop!

UGH! I sit here knowing every little thing I need to get done today but feel overwhelmed because there just isn't enough time. Maybe if I procrastinate long enough I can put everything off until tomorrow when I will hopefully have a full day --- makes sense to me!

Thank you Mother Nature and HCPS for messing with the Mama so early in the week! I have so much to do and so little time. As Young MC says ..."You run over there without a second to lose. What comes next? Hey, Bust A Move!"

Ah, for the love of my children....

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Eating Machine

Zach is an eating machine. He eats and eats. He eats like nobody's business. We went to a friend's house the other night for a party and he immediately went to the food table. He circled and swooped. He circled some more. He is a vulture when it comes to food. He started with at one end, worked to the other end and went back again. He tried everything. He tried it again and again and again. I asked him if I could take his plate and throw it away. His hands reactly instinctively and covered his plate. "NO, I'm going back!" Wow!

This morning he had a dentist appointment to fix the broken tooth. The dentist didnt' realize the severity of the repair so he asked us to come back an hour later so he could make sure he had plenty of time to fix it and fix it right. So we took the hour and went out to breakfast with Stan, Lucas and Claire. Zach and I got to Boychiks Deli before the others so Zach perused the menu and figured out what he wanted. After Stan, Lucas and Claire arrived our waitress came for our order. Zach ordered first. He asked for a Taylor Ham, Egg and Cheese bagel, a bacon and cheese omelet with home fries and a plate of sausage gravy with biscuits. He ate it - ALL. The waitress was stunned. If I wasn't so used to the vast quantities of food that are consumed in this house on a daily basis I would have been stunned too. Unfortunately, it doesn't faze me. But at least his tooth is fixed.

Oh, for the love of...our children!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Uh oh, boredom has set in...

I came home today after running errands to find the longest, saddest face sitting in the kitchen. It was a pathetic sight and my heart hurt for him. I wrapped my arms around him and asked what was wrong. "I don't know," he responded. "I just feel out of sorts today." I prodded a little further and here is what he told me. "I am bored! I want to be driving to hockey games. I want to be watching the boys play hockey. I don't just want to be sitting here! I am BORED!" Yep, that was Stanley! Stan did get to drive Jan to a 7 a.m. hockey game this morning...I thought that would help ease the pain of being away from the rink. The boys have found other activities to fill their days but for us it's taken quite a toll. The boys go to sleepovers. They walk to Five Guys Burgers. They go to the gym or hang out at the mall. We, however, are at a loss. We are so used to going, going, going all weekend long when we are idle, it's not normal.

All of the sporting activities filling the kids' days and weekends also provide us with friends, fun and fellowship. Now we have to actively search out things to do and for parents who are used to having activities planned for us this is quite a difference. Luckily, this time is coming to an end soon. Lucas' cast comes off on Tuesday so he will be playing games again next weekend. Zach gets his short cast Tuesday so he will be back to practicing with his team and cheering them on during games. Our time in hockey exile is coming to an end. We still have Claire's swim meets and her dance but the combination of all of the sporting activities is what makes it all so fun.

Ah, never mind, we may never get back Zach into the hockey rink...he was out in the back yard "shredding" down the hill on his mountain board. He fell, hit his wrist and his ribs and now has ice on his other wrist. He may never get healthy again...especially if I catch him going down the hill in a cast! We may be bored away from the rink but life is never boring in our house.

Oh, for the LOVE children!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Losing sucks

Remember the other day when I was talking about the boy's hockey teams and how I wished I could combine the two teams to take the talent from Zach's team and the heart from Lucas' team? Zach's team is so blessed with so many talented players but sometimes doesn't step up to the challenge of the tough games. The boys left last Wednesday for Michigan to compete in International Silver Sticks. They are coming home today after losing three of three guaranteed games. They had to win to stay in. Not only did they not win, they lost ~ decisively! Totally sucks!! (Zach did not go with the team because of his broken arm and we didn't feel it would be good to miss three days of school for him to go watch his buddies play hockey.)

Hockey Mamas are not like other Mamas. I think we do things a little bigger, a little louder and a little more intensely than Mamas of other sporting kids. And I feel like I am one crazy Hockey Mama. When the boys win there is no bigger champion than I am. When they lose --- well, I can go a little nutso, especially when they lose to teams who have no more talent than they do. When they work their butts off and are just out played I get it. But when they play and don't try it drives me CRAZY! Last year the boys were in the playoffs for league champions and they just stopped playing. They didn't try, they weren't skating, they didn't care. I lost it. I became one of the craziest Mamas ever. It's a story maybe only another hockey mama would get but I broke my wedding ring banging on the glass trying to get the boys motivated and working...yep, BROKE my wedding ring! Stan's "pride" was evident as we realized I lost four rubies and collapsed the entire setting. Lesson to me, don't bang on the glass to get 'em doesn't work.

I feel we spend so much of our lives shuttling these kids from city to city the least they can do is to play the game they came to play and play it to the best of their ability...every time! As Herb Brooks says "You can't win on talent alone." That is evident.

Oh, for the love of....our children!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fridays from Hell

Claire is getting involved in competition dance and I am not so sure how I feel about it. She loves, loves, loves to dance. Her feet are in constant motion but I dont think I am keen on the whole kit and caboodle of competion dance.

First, every Friday night for the past three years Claire has had dance class. It cuts into so many aspects of our lives ~ selfish, I know but it is how I feel. Second, there is the whole image thing to consider...make up, hair, perfection. Third, there is the whole "stage mom" mentality. I've seen women who I think are pretty cool absolutely lose it at recital time. Stress levels ratchet up about 50 degrees during a recital. I can't even imagine what it is like at a competition when there is pressure from judges and other dance teams.

We live in an area where the kids are constantly being pushed to do more and more, be better and better. The competition at school for grades, awards and scholarships is fierce. The competition in sports is just as wicked. Sports is now about how early the kids start competing ~ the earlier, the better or they might lose out on valuable training years. Sports is also about how much they practice and how far they travel. When I was a kid sports was about fun and exercise. We played kick ball out in the front of our house. Now, we travel to Michigan, North Carolina, New York City and wherever else we are told to go to watch our kids compete. When I was a kid traveling for sports was for the super elite athlete. Now travleing sports are becoming the norm.

Competition dance throws in another element to the travel sports issue, which I touched on above, and I think this is where I am least comfortable. To me, dance has to do with beauty and trying to make sure every element of your costume, hair and make up are perfect. What is this teaching the girls? It is teaching them to constantly strive for a perfection which does not exist? Or do I have it backwards? Is it teaching the girls to be comfortable with themselves as they are and then enhance their beauty only when necessary and for a short period of time? I don't know what the answers are. I just know I am being pulled into this by the force of my daughter. We'll see how it goes...this year.

Oh, what we do for the love of our children...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Admin Day

Eight pounds of peanut butter, check.
10 loads of laundry, check
One pot roast, check.

It's been a busy, busy kind of day. Yesterday was my day to visit Auntie Mame. Wednesdays are great days, visiting Auntie Mame. Not a lot gets accomplished around the house, though (which is why I missed blogging yesterday). So today I caught up on my admin duties. I am almost all caught up...or at least I am temporarily caught up until tonight when everyone puts their dirty clothes in the laundry hamper and it starts all over again.

Stir crazy...two words that come to mind when I think of Zach and Lucas. They are both going stir crazy. Zach far more so than Lucas. They have begun having "cast wars". I'm not so sure the orthopedist would approve. Zach chases Lucas around the house, yelling as he goes. It is like have two two year olds all over again.

As a way to refocus them tonight, I asked all of the boys to take the recyclables out to the curb. Lucas comes in to get me and says "Mom, come here! You HAVE to see this!" I walk outside to see Zach sprawled on the ground with one foot in the strap of one of his mountain board, the other foot twisted behind him, his casted arm up over his head with his eyes closed. He is not moving. Panic starts to creep in and I say Zach's name, fairly sharply. He starts laughing. He thinks it's funny. I think it's awful! Messing with the Mama like that is just plain WRONG! I know this is just the beginning of his messing with me. But GEEZ, now?! Broken arm, broken tooth and he tries to go skate boarding?!? This is getting to be a bit more than this Mama can handle.

The thing is, I know we are past the "easy" part of parenting. Parenting babies and toddlers was physically exhausting, to be sure. But parenting teenagers is emotionally draining. When they were babies and toddlers you were responsible for their safety, which was very scary. Now we are supposed to entrust these kids with their own safety, which is downright terrifying! When they were babies and toddlers you KNEW when you tucked them in they were snuggled down for the night. Now they go to bed after we do and we need to trust that they remember the rules we laid down for them. We need to trust that we taught them well. As the kids get older and go out more and more on their own I know we have to trust ourselves and the kids but BOY is it a bitch!

Oh, for the love children!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You have GOT to be kidding me!

Last night I went to a hockey board meeting and came home to this greeting from Stan, "Did you know Zach broke his front tooth?" Uh, NO I didn't know...I was sitting in a board meeting! BROKE HIS TOOTH! REALLY?!?!? Two broken bones and now a broken tooth. Dagnabbit!! How did this happen, you wonder?! Hockey? Goofing around with the siblings? Running into a wall? All good guesses but all are WRONG! He dropped his iPod on his face while watching TV! Say it isn't so, please?

So I take him into to my dentist this morning because I know he does fantastic work on fake teeth. My dentist is a retired Air Force dentist who is about 60 years old. He comes to me and say "You know, I have to say he looks like a bad ass with a broken tooth and his cast. I wouldn't mess with him!". Well, gee thanks Doc! Just what I want, a 14 year old bad ass! Zach thinks it is awesome!

On top of all of this the kids had a "snow day" today. No snow, it rained. Glad we got to stay home for rain.

Oh, for the love of my children

Monday, January 10, 2011

The winning weekend that wasn't...

The hockey boys didn't see a single win this weekend. Lucas' team came closest with a tie, other than that his team got smacked around by the competition and the coach. Luckily, the boys didn't turn on each other. Lucas' team is interesting. There is very little talent on his team, they haven't won a single league game, the coach doesn't teach them any hockey skills but the boys have hearts of gold and rarely give up trying---leading them to a great time together.

Zach's team is on the complete other side of the spectrum. The team is brimming with talented players, they win often, the coach teaches them the skills they need, they have a blast together but the burning desire for the win sometimes gets thrown to the wayside in pursuit of a good time.

If we could just combine the good from both teams we would have the makings of another "Miracle" team. I wish there was some middle ground for these two teams. It's a fine line to walk with kids' sports. As a parent you want the team to be successful but at what cost? Do you want the coach to take all of the fun out of it to make it a "win at any cost" team? Or do you want the kids to have a great time, play some hockey and move on after getting their butts kicked? The answer lies somewhere in the middle and when I find it I am going to patent it and become rich!

These next weeks will become more and more interesting as the boys watch their teams play without being of any help on the ice. Lucas is almost being driven insane by the fact that his doctor told him he could play with his cast on but we are not letting him. I don't think we need to take any unnecessary risks. Zach is feeling angry right now. He got off of the bus mad as a hornet. It was interesting to hear his perspective on what happened with his team over the weekend and why they couldn't put any W's on their score sheet. Zach's frustration began when he watched his team get cocky with a two point lead and then just stop playing because they had the lead. I asked him why he didn't say anything to his team and he said "Teenages don't listen to anything other teenagers have to say. They only listen when their coach starts screaming at them." Interesting.

Jan had his first ever hockey game here in the States yesterday. He got worn out, checked into the boards, did some checking of his own and had a blast....even with the loss. Stan says he quite a shot. I am sure with a few more games under his belt he will light up the lamp by putting the biscuit in the basket (cheesy, I know, but it made me chuckle).

Thank heavens Claire had a successful weekend, otherwise it would have been full of - Oh, for the love children!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 7...Addicts in the Attic

Some of you may remember the the book "Flowers in the Attic" well, I don't have flowers in the attic, I have addicts in my attic. The boys are addicted to the program "Lost." Over Christmas break they watched 30 episodes...don't know about you but to me that seems to show a little addictive type of behavior! All three boys sit up stairs watching, watching, watching. When they come down to reconnect with the real world they are pale and jumpy. I don't know if it's because the program is a little creepy or if it's because they are in a dimly lit attic or if it's because they are going through withdrawl. Crazy boys!

Then we have Claire who is absolutely addicted to eating ice. She has a cup of ice with her wherever she goes in the house. She leaves cups everywhere. If there is a cup with water in it somewhere around the house you can be sure at one time it was full of ice!

I guess there are worse things for them to be addicted to so for the time being I will count my lucky stars that it is only "Lost" in the attic and cups of ice/water all around the house!

Oh, for the love of my children...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Beginnng the weekend with a bang!

This morning saw us trying to get three kids in three different directions. Lucas had to be at a friend's house to be on the road to Greensboro at 7 a.m. Zach had to be at the ice rink at 7 a.m. to be on the bus to Pittsburgh at 7:30 and Claire had to be at the pool by 7 a.m. to begin warm ups for her meet which started at 8a.m. Nothing like having to get three kids to three different locations all at the same exact time!

Luckily, Claire won all three of her heats today and now LOVES swimming...ahhhhhh, thank goodness!! She and I had a long talk about swimming and learning to see the signs of her anxiety before it causes her to want to quit something she truly loves. I think she understands.

After all of the chaos of the morning the day turned out great. I spent time with a fantastic friend. Stan and Jan went to play hockey. Claire went to a movie. The frosting on the entire day, though, was the date I had with Stan. The movie was cute, the dinner was tasty (and cheap-ish...$60 for dinner wine! Those are like prices from long, long ago!) but the company was out of this world!!

We returned home to another round of chaos unleashing with the craziness of hockey parents...if we just took the adults out of kids sports it would be so much better. The drama that is created when parents start making mountains out of molehills is insane. I think I will make a movie entitled "The Hockey Parents Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain" or maybe I can get a network to pick up a new soap opera called "As The Puck Spins." Crazy!

Oh, heavens, what we do for the love of our children...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Day 6...kickoff to the weekend...

Claire has a swim meet in a little while. She is beyond nervous about her 200 IM (for all of you non-swimming folks that stands for individual medley. She will swim 50 yards of each of the four stokes). She has told me repeatedly this week that she wants to quit swimming next year. She does this at the start of every meet where she has an event that freaks her out. She has never tried to swim a 200 IM so as she sees it, she's gonna fail! Drives me nutso! She is a beautiful swimmer who does well in nearly every event she tries. Her weakest stroke is freestyle...go figure! When she announced to me that she was quitting I was in my drug induced stupor and in no state to fight back. Gotta keep working on her so she can overcome her fears without wanting to quit every time something gets a little scary. Isn't that what holds a lot of us back, the fear of failure? I don't think I have ever heard someone say "Ohhhh, I can't do that. I am soooo afraid I will be such a success!" Success comes from failure. I am here to help my kiddos learn something I never learned.

The boys are different. Ever since Zach started hockey he has taken it as a personal challenge to get better than other players on his team. He would pick out one player on his team and say "See that kid? I'm gonna be better than him someday!" Lucas just bulls his way through and always seems to land on his feet with a smile of his face. Jan is competitive and knows his strengths. He is willing to try something different and get better and better. He took up lacrosse as soon as he got here. With limited English skills (at the time)he figured it out and became a respected member of his team.

Boys are wired differently, to be sure. And I think society as whole, fosters the competitive streak in our boys more than we do girls. But I don't think boys are as afraid failing as girls are. Am I wrong?

Well, I'm off and running. Gotta get the boys to the gym, Claire to her swim meet and then to her dance classes. Oh, for the love of my children...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day 5...a series of mini blogs

Arrrgggghhhh! The discomfort from these screws in my mouth is awful, much more than I anticipated. But I was told by my wonderful friend that the pain is worth it in the end and to hang in there. Thank you, Kathleen!!

Had fun grossing Lucas out this morning, though. I let him see all four screws. He cringed and told me I made his legs feel all weird! This Mama doesn't get to gross out the kiddos very often so when I do I am going to take full advantage of it.

In a little while I have to be up and at 'em for Claire's rescheduled Holiday party...gotta love a Holiday party after the Holidays are over! I hope I make it through. I promised Claire I would be there so I need to make good on my promise. (I stopped taking the hydrocodone so at least I can drive. It didn't help the pain anyway, just made me loopy and tired). I know she will want me to stay for lunch. I don't think I can make it through the noise in the cafeteria. It will be defeaning and with my face feeling like I am being hit in the head with a bag of hammers---on top of four screws in my mouth...well, you get the idea.

More later...

Claire's party is done and I made it. She was so happy I was there so it made every bit of discomfort in my head from the shrieking, cheering, happy kids worth it. Next stop - carpool! Gonna rest for now.

It's a light night for carpooling. All I had to do was pick up Claire and her two friends, Emma and Sophie, from swim practice and is it fun to listen to three 4th grade girls talking in the car. Those three are a trip! They talked about school-which middle school they (and their friends) want to attend (even though it's a year and a half away). They talked about boys and not liking them. They talked about Beezer, a girl in their swim group who seems to be a little more emotionally mature than our girls...hmmm not sure I'm ready for this upcoming life with girls and all it entails! They talked and talked and talked. I listened and listened and listened. They make me smile.

Came home and made tacos for dinner. I had soup. I really wanted tacos - my mouth didn't. But I made the tacos for the kids because I knew they would be in heaven. Oh, for the love of my children...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 4 ---

Not too much for today. I had four screws implanted in the roof of my mouth today to head back into braces and the pain is much more than I was warned about! The kids have been fantastic and loving...guess the love is reciprocated! Claire was so upset she forgot I had "surgery" today she started to cry. Don't even want to know how she is going to react at the end of January when I go in to have my palate widened through true surgery. That should be fun to witness!
This is what is returned for the love of my children...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 3 - Fun from the beginning

As we were talking about my blog last night our exchange student, Jan (pronounced yahn) told me I would probably be blogging about him today. Boy was he right! Last night he mentioned wanting to go play hockey after school. There was another subtle hint about wanting to get his gear to school. Then he asked (yes, I did say asked!) if I could drive him to school the next morning so he could bring his gear with him, that way he wouldn't impose on his friend to bring him home, get his gear and head to the rink. I told both boys it would be fine to drive them to school, knowing I was driving to Alexandria to visit our favorite Auntie Mame who rcently suffered a stroke. I planned the morning around an 8:20 departure when Jan comes strolling down saying he just got a text from his friend, at whose car he needs to drop his gear, saying he needed to get his gear to school by 8:10---that means moving up departure time by 20 minutes. I don't know about you but I don't have a spare 20 minutes built into my morning schedule! I run a tight ship in the morning with the precision of a drill sergeant. This throws a complete wrench in the morning's schedule! Arrrgggghhhh!!!!! Luckily, Dad came to the rescue! He drove Jan. I drove Zach. Yep, you read that right...two boys, same school, different departure times and different drivers. Crazy, loco parents!
It gets a little crazier! Both both have broken bones but they also have hockey practice. Guess where they are right now? Yessirree, they are at hockey practice. Zach has a full cast on his arm so he is just going to check in with his team. Lucas just has a small cast on his arm so he can practice with the rest of his team. Can't rest those legs. Gotta keep 'em strong! The season is in full swing. They wanted to go, so off they went! Again, crazy, loco parents! Thank goodness we still have two with all of their bones in tact---knock on wood.
What a whirlwind, what a life. Never a dull moment when it's for the love of my children...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day 2...oh, what a day!

As I predicted, yesterday the boys "asked" me for a ride to the gym. Gotta love teenage boys (or girls for that matter). God love 'em, the world revolves around them! The two oldest (we have a fabulous Czech exchange student with us right now) came down and announced they were going to the gym. No asking, just announcing. So, guess what I did? Yep, you guessed it...they went to the gym. I just wanted to hang out in my comfy clothes on the last night of winter break, but instead, I was the beck and call mama.

I look at this time as a time of wanting to have no regrets when the kids leave home. Is that wrong? Sometimes I think so.

 Take today for example. Zach, the oldest, had an orthodontist appointment. Lucas, our blond child, had a skating lesson with his coach. And Claire, the baby, had to be picked up from swim practice. As any reasonable mother would, I dropped the oldest at his appointment so I could take the blond one to his lesson. According to Zach, the world should have stopped for his orthodontist appointment. I should have been at his beck and call to get him AS SOON AS his appointment was over. Goodness forbid I have another child in another location! It is all about making sure the teenager is happy! But I am trying for no regrets. Thank heavens teenagers sleep a minimizes exposure time so we don't kill them...

As Zach was telling me that I needed to be there to pick him up he reminded me of how different life would be---if only he had his driver's license! This time is coming to an end far too fast. As much as I moan about driving them and picking them up and being at their beck and call, I love it. I love being a mom. I love being with my children. I can't imagine life without this chaos.

Oh, for the Love of My Children...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A day in the life!

Last week I watched Julie and Julia and it inspired me, as I am sure it has countless others, to begin a 365 day committment to blogging. I am undertaking this as my oldest child comes to a milestone...his driver's license. These are scary new days! It seems like just yesterday when I was helping him take his first steps, watching him learn to run, helping him learn to ride a bike and watching him learn to play hockey...

Up until this point I have had the pleasure and pain of driving him and his two siblings absolutely everywhere and anywhere they want to go. It has been a pleasure because the rides to and from practices and games are the times when this Mama gets all the dirt, either from the kids confiding in me or because all of the kids are talking, forgetting I am in the driver's seat so I get the dirt by default. It has been a pain, well-because, I am their beck and call Mama! "Mom, I want to go to the gym." "Mom, can you drive me to the party? I don't know what time it ends so just be ready to get me when I call." The requests come fast and furious. I am here to honor their every beck and call. Isn't that why Moms were put on this earth, to answer all the needs and desires of their little darlings?

I will miss these days...not that they are over yet. I still have between six and nine months before the Holy Grail of "freedom" comes into our lives. Trust me, though, I am not going to hand the keys over to my newly appointed driver and say "Go!" There is trust to be built.  There are rules to be followed.   And there is money to be earned for gas and insurance. Our new driver will be under careful watch and one little slip up will result in big consequences.

I want to take time, in this milestone year, to document my feelings, my thoughts and my reactions to my kiddos growing up.  I feel like life is flying by so quickly and I want my all of my kiddos to be able to look back on this time and understand, just a little, how much they are loved always and maybe they will also come to understand the hows and whys of life while they were growing up.

My goal with my new blog is to write as truthfully and as honestly as I can about my life with my kiddos.  Sometimes, it seems to me, we take life with kids far too seriously, never wanting to admit any imperfections ~ but isn't that what life is all about?  Living with and through imperfections?  For me, my goal is to create a blog that is not so serious and "perfect" but a place where I can poke fun at myself, my parents and can engage you, my dear reader, as we move into this year full of milestones! At least this is my hope and I would love for you to come along for a peek into a not so perfect life, but one which is full of love, laughter and heart.

So, here we go---Oh, for the Love of...My Children!