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Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Could Be In Some Serious Trouble

Yesterday I went to visit my orthodontist.  I am having crazy trouble with these new wires he put in my mouth.  The insides of my cheeks are red, raw and extremely irritated.  My tongue is tingly and numb.  My lips are swollen but dry and stuck to my brackets.  Eating is a painful ordeal and I needed some type of relief.  My ortho was asking to me to list my symptoms and one that I didn't mention above was that my tongue is not only tingly and numb, but for a while it was also white.

Now, before I go any further with this story, I need you to understand my relationship with my orthodontist and his whole office.  I have been in his office at least monthly, and there have been times I've been there three times in a month, for the past four years.  Lucas started there when he was in third grade.  I started shortly after Lucas and Zach joined the fun at the orthodontist not long after I did.  So, I've been there a lot.  I've developed friendships with the ladies who work on all of our mouths.  And the good doctor keeps us all entertained with his amazing memory, quick wit and wonderful sense of humor.  He is one fabulous, fabulous guy and he amuses me to no end.

Now, on with my story....

As I was telling him about my tongue and it being white he said, with a twinkle in his eye and laughter in his voice "So, are you still doing crack?"  Just as the words cleared his mouth I whipped up the sleeve of my jacket and said "Nope, see!"  And then I saw the puzzlement cross his face and I knew I screwed up.  He responded, dryly "Last I knew, crack is smoked."

I have NO clue about drugs, which ones are smoked or snorted or shot up or much about anything having to do with drugs.  I have never experimented with any type of drug...no marijuana, no nothing.  And I have to hope my kids never get involved drugs because I will be screwed.  I will be in some serious trouble, not really knowing what to look for or how to spot trouble if it comes knocking.

Dr. White's little joke about drugs brought stirred up some big fears in me.  I either need to get educated or continue on with my hope that they will never get involved in drugs.  Unfortunately, I think I need to get educated.

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

(And as far as my mouth goes, my ortho thinks I may be allergic to the nickel in the new wires he put in on my last visit.  I now have three small pieces of wire taped to my inner forearm, looking for some kind of reaction.)

Friday, March 30, 2012

What a Drag

Two days ago, I moaned that it was only Wednesday.  When Zach got into the car after lacrosse practice, his sentiments mirrored my own, saying the exact same thing "I can't believe it's only Wednesday."  This week was dragging by.

I know I shouldn't complain.  Time rushes by so fast most of the time.  I should be reveling in the fact that this week went at its own pace.  I shouldn't have focused one iota on the fact I was wishing week away so I could have another precious weekend, which will rush by so I don't know exactly why I was in an all fired hurry to get here.  So, yesterday morning I vowed to enjoy the slowness of the week.  I knew then I wanted to milk every last drop out of the week that seems to be crawling by.  I told myself ~  no more complaining about the week that has seemed to last forever.

Yesterday, I was talking to the guy who was in charge of building our deck a couple of years ago.  We were talking about how much my kiddos have grown in the time since he used to be at our house nearly everyday.  Talk morphed into how fast time flies and how quickly kids grow.  He told me how he and his wife got started a little later with kids so his are still young...six and eight.  And he was telling me how trying it is sometimes, with the rambunctiousness of young kids.  His boys are always on the go, ready and eager for some action.  He told me how painful days can be sometimes and that's when I said "The days are long but the years are short."  I wish I could have understood that a little more when my kids were young so I could have embraced the craziness of life with my kiddos a little more than I think I did.

This morning, as Zach was getting ready to leave for his day.  He said "I'm so glad Friday is here.  This week has lasted forever."  And that is when I told him how happy I was that it did.  Time goes so fast and I was thrilled to have it slow down, even drag out for just a smidge, just for this week.

Oh, for the love of my children...






Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Barf-Meister ~ Or Miss As The Case May Be

Do any of you have kids who barf their belongings all over the place?  I have one who does.  I always know where she's been or where she's going in the house.  She's kind of like Hansel and Gretel who left their trail of breadcrumbs to follow....all I have to do is follow the trail of destruction and BAM, there she is!

She walks in the house after school and plops her back pack in the middle of the kitchen. She pulls out her homework and spreads it out all over the counter ~ taking up the entire surface.  When her homework is finished, she kicks off her shoes under the counter and heads off in search of a snack.  The remnants of her snack are evident on the counters.  I know exactly what she has eaten and how much.  A banana peel, a knife, a smear of peanut butter or a Luna bar wrapper lying on the counter or a box of cereal and a bowl tells me exactly what kind of snack she chose.

As she makes her way out of the kitchen and into the rest of the house, I can trace her every move.  A hairband in the TV room means she was tired of her pony tail.  Socks strewn on the floor tell me that her feet got hot and she's barefoot.  I walk up the stairs to see clothes littering both her bathroom and her bedroom floor.  I can tell, from what I see on the floor, exactly what day it is...a dance day or a swim day.  If the bathing suits are out, I know it's swim.  The leotards are a giveaway for her dance days.  I don't think a career in espionage or counter-intelligence is in her future, the enemy will track her in the blink of an eye.

She barfs belongings as she goes....

Coming back down into the kitchen is yet another indicator of her daily activities...her dance or swim bag is propped up against her school backpack.  Both usually are open and have contents strewn about the floor surrounding her bags.  Her choice of footwear is on the floor beside

As I sit here right now, I notice a headband from her dance bag and her competition dance jacket lying on the floor.  A friend of hers joined her here after school so now I'm combating two sets of everything.  Two sets of barfed belongings are strewn about my kitchen at this very minute.

Sometimes I just get so tired of the constant nagging and harping that I turn a blind eye.  I know I shouldn't but it gets so exhausting to be on her case constantly.  Her barfing is so pervasive that it invades nearly every nook and cranny of the house.  The barf sometimes even threatens to encroach on our room.  There are days she watches TV in our room, kicking off her shoes on my side of the bed where they are "lost."  She can't see them so she can't find them.  She is good at overlooking lots and lots of her things and they remain forever out of place.  I am a person who likes to have a place for everything (OK, so it doesn't always happen that way but it's a rich fantasy of mine).  It's a lost battle with her and I don't know how to win.  The nagging and harping aren't working.

I am hoping this battle is not lost forever.  I am hoping the barfing of belongings will come to an end at some point.  Maybe someday she will see the value in making sure to put things back where they belong so she always knows where they are.  But I don't hold out much hope.  She comes by it as honestly as Lucas comes by his ADHD.  She doesn't fall far from the one who just plops things wherever and then has to scramble to look for his keys or his wallet or whatever else he may have put someplace for the time being.  Although, I have to say he has gotten marginally better in the past 19 years of marriage.  So maybe there is hope for her yet.  There is a small glimmer of hope that she can go from being the Barf-Meister (or Miss) to someone who enjoys a tidy house sans barfed belongings.

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sassy

As most of you know through reading my blog, I like words.  I like rhyming words.  I like silly words.  I like bold words.  I'm not afraid of swear words.  I like words that put an image in your head.  I love words that are fun to say. I just love words.

Sassy is one of the words I just love.  A girlfriend of mine uses it and it always puts a smile on my face.  When we are playing tennis she will say "Oh, now there's a sassy shot!"  And I love it.  I love hearing her say it.  I love the word Sassy.

The word puts and image in my head.  A sassy girl.  A sassy skirt.  A sassy look.  A sassy tongue.  It brings images to my mind of a girl not afraid to speak her mind and wear what she wants.  I love that word.  It works to put images in my mind.

I know you are probably not going to believe this but I think I may have been a sassy girl at one point in time.  I'm pretty sure it went unchecked for quite a few years. I think the word sassy may even extend into present day Jenni.  I'm not completely sure but I'd like to think I'm just a little sassy.

And I'd like to pass that on to Claire but in a "not too sassy for her own good" kind of way.  I want her tongue to be quick but kind.  I want her thoughts to be her own but tempered with compassion for someone else's, possibly, different thoughts.  I want her to wear what is comfortable for her and not judge other people for doing the same.  I want her to dance to the beat of her own drum but be able to succeed within the masses.  I want her to be a sassy girl...in the best way possible.

Oh, for the love of my sassy, baby girl....


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Being Scared

There is not much in life I am truly afraid of...snakes don't bother me much.  I'm not afraid of ghosts, well only a little.  Rats are fine, we had three as pets.  I know some people are afraid of clowns but they don't do much to scare me.  I'm not afraid to stand up to bullies so I'm not afraid of them.  There is truly not too much that scares me.  Only spiders have the power to terrify me. And last night, for just one small minute.

Last night I took Claire with a group of her friends and their mamas (and two dads) to see "The Hunger Games."  We had a fabulous time.  Dinner was delicious.  The company was killer and the movie was marvelous.  After the movie ended and we headed back to reality, we saw the rain pouring down.  I did a small happy dance, knowing Claire, her friend and I would have to do a dash to the car in the rain.  I love running in the rain.  It's exhilarating to run through the rain on a warm night.  I don't care if my hair gets wet and messy.  My clothes can be washed, my shoes will dry and I won't melt ~ as we all know, I may be sweet but I'm certainly not made of sugar.  One of my friends tried to convince me to catch a ride with them to my car, but my mind was made up...the girls and I were running for it, through the night rain and to our car.  Good-byes were said, hugs were given and we were off and running.

As we approached the TRVLN ZU I pushed the remote to open the car and the doors so we could just slide in and get moving home.  It was 11 o'clock and I was ready to snuggle in for the night.  The driver's side of the car was facing us so Molly and I tumbled into that side and Claire ran around to the passenger side.  The buttons were pushed so the rear doors would slide shut.  Claire's side shut easily but the door for Molly opened midway through the cycle.  I pushed the button again and got the door to close all of the way.  It was then that Claire said "Mom, the rear window is gone!"  Gone?  What?  How??  I was confused but in a moment of clarity it hit me.  SHIT!  I turned around to see the window behind Molly shattered and gone.  SHIT again!

It was then I realized I was more than a little scared.  It was a very brief moment of being scared but it was there...because I was the one in charge.  I had the two girls' safety to worry about.  We were in a well lit parking lot, in one of the most populated areas in all of Richmond, with lots of activity swirling around us, but what if the person who broke the window was hiding somewhere?  What then?  I knew it was up to me to keep the girls calm.  Zach told me after the earthquake last summer that I was the one who scared the shit out of him when I told him to "get out of the house NOW!" as the ground shook violently and the house rattled ominously.  I knew I needed to stay calm this time.  My first task...call Stan.  My second task was to get out of the van to make sure there was no one lurking.  I'm not exactly sure what my plan was if I found somebody but I needed to know what I was dealing with...a little scared or not it was my responsibility to keep the girlies safe.

Maybe I took some bravado lessons from Katniss from "The Hunger Games" but I felt a sense of calm come over me and I knew I could handle the events however they would unfold.  911 was called.  Stan was on standby if I needed him.  But ultimately the situation was in my hands and I knew I could handle it.  The girls were in great spirits and kept the mood light, never knowing for one little second that I felt anything but in control.

I truly don't like being scared and I am glad last night's fear came and went quickly...now if I could just get over the absolute terror I feel when  see a spider.

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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Flying

Whew....I feel like time is flying and flying fast.  I can seem to stop long enough to come up for air and truthfully, I'm not sure I want to.  I am fully immersed in the day to day running and carting of my kiddos.  But I see this time quickly screeching to a halt.  Zach can be a fully licensed driver in two months and a day.  And then my time of being his beck and call mama comes to an end.  And I really don't want it to end.  I really want to hang on tight and stretch these last two months out.

I like my time in the car with him, with them.  I like the chats we have while we are going to and from places.  I like the quiet and easy companionship those trips give us.  I like to see their faces brighten when I pull up to pick them up.  Simply put, I like being with them.

I know the time is coming for Zach to test out his wings a little.  I see him flexing the feathers, getting ready for his first solo flight.  I know it's inevitable but that doesn't mean I have to like it one little bit.  And I don't.  I would rather suffer the eye rolling when I'm a little late than to have a kiddo ready to experience a little independence.

I'm not old enough to have a 16 year old, I whine to myself.  There is no way he's ready to be a fully licensed driver, I groan inwardly.  But deep down I know it's true.  And deep down, I know I have to accept the fact that time has flown by and Zach is nearly ready to experience his first taste of freedom behind the wheel of a car....without me by his side.

Zach has earned it, though.  He is showing us day by day that he is responsible.  He is proving to be a good and conscientious driver, always maintaining his speed and being careful of happenings around him.  He is being a good big brother to both his sister and his brother...trying to teach them and not to screech at them when they screw up.  He is sticking to his curfew, always making sure to come home well before the time on the clock is anywhere near the time he needs to be home.  He is trying to show us that he is ready.

But I am not.

Damn, I think to myself, wondering why I didn't pay more attention to the little old grandmas who told me to enjoy every single second of time with my kids because time flies by so quickly.  The days can be long but the years are flying by.

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Where is Claire?

My little neighbor just came to my door and asked me where Claire and her sister were.  I was in a bit of a daze.  I have been working all day, plugging away at my mile-long, to-do list.  I was sitting here paying bills and I was in a zone.  I could not, for the life of me, remember where Claire was.  My neighbor said "Well, it's 4:25 and they need to leave for dance."

Ah, SHIT!  Leave for dance?!?  This mama went into panic mode and I immediately sent out the search parties to find the two wayward girls.  Next door, across the street, up a couple of houses...there was NO sign of the girls.  My mind was racing along with my heart.  I stop long enough to call my girlfriend, Julie, so I can tell her we're gonna be late picking up the other two.  She stops me mid-sentence and says "Jenni, they're at dance already."

Well, SHIT!  I breath a huge sigh of relief remembering that today is Tuesday and not Thursday.  Tuesday's dance is 4-6 and Thursday's dance is 5-7.  There is no need to call 9-11.  The girls are exactly where they are supposed to be but my mind was not.

I do not like heading into panic mode.  And I never would have been if my brain had been engaged rather than overwhelmed by my to-do list.  Thankfully, and yet again, I have Julie keeping me on the straight and narrow.  She knew where Claire was and knew that I didn't have to call out the cavalry to find her.  Panic mode averted thanks to Julie!

After "finding" Claire it took me a while to get my head back into the tasks at hand...my mojo definitely took a hit.  But it's OK.  I'd rather know where my kiddos are then have a smooth flow of mojo to knock out some stupid, mile-long, to-do list.

Oh, for the love of my children...






Monday, March 19, 2012

The Best Time

I love Lucas.  And I mean I completely and totally adore that kid.  He is one of a kind and he surprises me nearly every day.

Tonight as the two of us were sitting together for dinner he says "Why is it that the best times in life have to go the fastest?"  He was reading this "Zits" cartoon strip...
He was telling me how much it reminded him of Zach.  I went on to tell him he'd be there soon enough.  And he said "I'm looking forward to it..." and that's when he went on to ask me the question above.  I thought "Wow!" I never appreciated being a kid.  I couldn't wait to grow up.  But Lucas...he knows.  He gets it.  Being a kid is the best time!

I hope he always looks back on his childhood and teenage years with good and happy memories.  (Although, I know he'll have some complaints and gripes...who doesn't??)  But for the most part I am hopeful he will always know how much fun it was for him to be a kid.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bravery

I have to say I am very proud of Claire and her bravery today.  Today she made a decision that wasn't easy to make.  It's been weighing heavily on her mind for months and she didn't know what to do.  It was a decision between two middle schools for next year.

She could choose to go to our home middle school with most of her elementary school friends or she could choose to go to the school which offers the International Baccalaureate program.  If she chooses the IB program it would take her away from many of her elementary school friends.  But the IB program has many of the aspects of academic life that would suit her to a tee.  She would thrive there, immersed in all the school has to offer.  

And today, my sweet, baby girl made a very brave decision.  She decided on the IB program.  I'm proud of her and her courage.  It's not easy to leave the familiar and venture out into an unknown.  She's knows our home school.  She knows her friends.  She knows what to expect academically at our home middle school.  But she is brave enough to leave the familiar and go after a challenge.  And for that I am most proud.

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

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Smile and A Wave Good-bye

The other day when I was driving Lucas to school at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. I told him I was hoping I didn't have to walk him into school.  I know it's his school.  I know he goes there every day.  But it was still black as night out and it was a different situation.  I didn't know where exactly they teachers and kids would be.  Did I have to "check him in?"  I didn't know.  All I knew was that I didn't want to have to get out of the car...I was still wearing my slippers.  Now, in my defense, I was dressed.  I wasn't worried at all about the fact that my face was devoid of make-up or that my hair was pulled up into a pony tail, what concerned me were my slippers.  I did not, under any circumstances, want to get out of the car in my warm and fuzzy slips.

I have to tell you, this is a complete and total 180 from where I used to be in life, only worrying about being in public in my slippers.  When Zach and Lucas were just little guys and Claire was a newborn, I had to walk the boys into their preschool to both of their classes and Claire had to accompany us.  To accomplish this feat, every morning I would get up at the crack of booty, shower, dry my hair, put my full face on and get completely dressed for the day before stepping one foot out of the house.  People would marvel and say, "I just don't know how you do it."  What I never told them was that it nearly killed me every morning to get it all done.  But at that time I needed validation.  I needed to be thought of a supermom!

I have long since shed most of my perfectionist tendencies.  I can go out without make-up or my hair done.  I can run errands in my work out clothes.  If you don't like me because of it...so be it.  The one thing I can't get do...I just can't get over going out in my slippers.  My one little hang up (alright, there are more but that's the one I'm using for this blog!) is that I don't want to go out in public in my slippers.

And as we were driving and I was asking Lucas if I needed to walk him in, I was hoping against hope that I didn't.  Lucas looked at me and said "Mom, it's OK.  I can take care of it.  I can walk myself in."  He went on to say "I think I'm the only one who wouldn't be afraid to go into a new situation by myself."  And he is right.  He's been able to turn and wave good-bye to me since the "perfectionist" mama walked him into preschool for the first time.  He's been able to do it when the other two clung to me for dear life, fearing I would never come back for them.  Lucas has always had the self confidence to stand up tall and say "Here I am world!!  And bye, Mom!  I love you!"  Which is exactly what he did the other day when we got to school.  This time he didn't even look back.

His self confidence and easy going personality were a blessing to me when he was little.  It made it easy to leave him at preschool when Claire was screaming, crying and demanding my full attention.  It made it easy on me when it was time for kindergarten and he was one of the few who just smiled and waved...although, I have to say, my heart constricted a little as I walked out the door and left.  It made it easy on me when we were brand new to Richmond and I could just walk him into second grade knowing he would smile and wave.  He was more than willing to go to watch the Christmas show at school by himself.  He wanted to see his girlfriend sing and I had more than I could handle at home, with Christmas right around the corner, so I asked if he could go alone.  He was game.  He said he was more than fine to go in alone and he smiled, waved and said "Bye."

But now, I'm not so sure I like him being so self-confident and able to walk into any situation now.  I'm not so sure I want him to smile and wave without a little glance back or maybe an extra hug or two.  It makes me sad to think that in the future he could be the one to smile, wave and walk away...making me wonder when I'll see him next.  It makes my heart constrict a little wondering how he'll be when he's a college student on his own, or newly out in the world.  Will he come back?

I have to say, I think he will.  As I sit here reminiscing about times gone by, I remember how my heart sang when I saw Lucas at the end of his first day of kindergarten.  He was at the head of the line and he flew into my arms when he saw me.  He scampered off the bus the first day of second grade and was so eager to fill me on how things went in his new school.  And while he was fine, saying he could go to the school Christmas concert alone, I think he was secretly pleased that I came anyway and sat a few rows behind him, making sure I was there for the whole thing and having a little laugh afterward about the fact that I felt guilty leaving him on his own.  So I think, and wish more fervently than he will ever know, that he will be able to smile, wave good bye and always come back!

Oh, for the love of Lucas...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Hate Middle School

Alright, maybe hate is a strong, strong word to use but I truly detest the middle years of school.  It's the polar opposite of how I feel about elementary school...I LOVE elementary school.

Yesterday reminded me of why I hate...alright, strongly dislike, middle school.  Yesterday my friend, Julie, and I took our daughters to orientation at a middle school here in the area so our girls could get an idea what next year is going to be like for them if they choose to go to there.  It was a great tour and the staff couldn't have been more pleasant, upbeat, cheerful, informative, you name it ~ they were it!  The school had other parents and students on hand to answer questions...everything was going great.  I couldn't have been more impressed until...we went to gym class and I was reminded of why I really, really don't like middle school.

The kids were listening to directions from the teacher.  She was telling them how this lesson was going to go and explaining that the kids needed to break up into groups of five to 10.  And then she blew the whistle and the kids went scrambling to find their friends and their groups.  I picked one kid out of the crowd immediately.  I knew he'd have no group.  He was tall and pudgy with frizzy, big hair and glasses.  He wandered through the groups, trying to find one for himself.  It didn't materialize on it's own.  And my heart went out to him.  I don't know what ended up happening, we were ushered out, to our next stop before I could see the end of his story for that day in P.E.  But my hope is that he found a group to work with.  My hope is the teachers saw what was happening and stepped in if he didn't find a group to be a part of.

Middle school sucks.  It's when cliques are truly formed and you, well, you better find a clique to hang with or you'll be that kid.  The outcast, the nerd, the geek, the loser, the loner.  You'll be the kid I saw yesterday.  Middle school sucks.

I know some of this happens in elementary school.  It happened to Claire.  She's been bullied.  But it was stopped before it could get out of control.  The teacher and school counselor stepped in and stepped up.  Most teachers in elementary school have a very special bond with their kiddos.  It just can't be that way in middle school.  There are too many kids passing through their rooms each day to be able to give all of the kids the same kind of love and devotion an elementary school teacher can give them.  Elementary school teachers are with these kids, all day, every day and they grow to love their students, at least all of my kids were treated with love and respect from the minute they walked into school until the moment they left to come home.  If they had a problem, the kids knew where to go.  Bullying and deeming someone and "outcast" may happen more in elementary school more than I know but I'd like to think the kids and the teachers are there for each other more than they are not.

I remember going to Zach's fifth grade "graduation."  I was sitting right behind some of the kids...mostly girls.  And I watched how they all interacted with each other.  They were kind and loving and helpful.  They were sweet.  They helped smooth each other's hair, tuck in stray tags and they made sure each and every one looked fabulous and put together.  And I know some of them weren't best buddies but they made sure to help each other.  They were like family.  And I got a little sad, knowing what middle school would have in store for the graduates.

I know it's part of growing up but middle school really does suck.  It's hitting me even harder knowing Claire is headed there.  I knew the boys would hold their own.  Zach was so much taller and bigger than most kids in school, I knew no one would pick on him and if they did they would feel the sting right back.  At that point he had played hockey for five years...no one was gonna get the better of him.  And Lucas, well, he's a charmer.  He's got personality out the wazoo and he's not afraid to use it.  He lets things slide right off him and he's never met a stranger.  I wasn't worried about him.  And it's not that I'm "worried" about Claire in the true sense of the word but I am more anxious about her heading into middle school.  Girls are such little bitches sometimes.  I don't want her being one and I don't want her being the target of any.  I will come unglued if it happens either way.  I want her to feel safe and secure within the confines of middle school, like I know she does with elementary school.  And I will keep my feelings of middle school sucking to myself because she's already a bundle of nerves, not wanting to go to middle school really at all.

I hate that there are outcasts and kids who have no group to hang out with.  I know not every kid can be the super-star, the athlete or the one to be admired,.  But I wish every kid in middle school could have a group to hang out with or at least one friend to help them along.  Middle school is such a bundle of emotions as it is.  Hormones are kicking in, kids feel strange about the ever changing things happening to their bodies.  They need someone, a contemporary, to help them through.

I am thankful Zach has weathered the storm of the middle school years with nary a scratch.  Lucas, ahhh, he's holding his own but their could be changes in the future for him (another blog for another time).  Claire ~ I just hope she comes away from not ever knowing how much I hate middle school and why.

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

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stupid, Moron, Cigarette Sucking, Cell Phone Talking, Soda Swilling Drivers...

Alright all of you cigarette smoking, cell phone talking, drink swilling, tailgating, texting, can't maintain a constant speed drivers out there...you're effing pissing me off ~ especially when do you all of these things at the same time!  Maybe it's because in two months Zach will be able to drive by himself that I am noticing the incredible stupidity of some drivers on the roads.  And they are really making me angry.

Today, as I was enjoying the warmth of the day combined with my windows rolled down and my music cranked up I got cut off by a woman who had a cigarette in between her fingers while she was talking on her cell phone.  She cut in front of me as we were merging onto the interstate and then proceeded to slow down as we got on the highway ~ I guess so she could take another drag off of her cigarette and then wash it down with her soda all the while holding her phone to her ear.  I set my cruise control at the ever popular speed of 73 and passed her.  I have to assume she didn't like that very much because in the next few minutes she came flying up on my bumper tailgating me so closely that I thought she was trying to kiss my bumper, but what I really wanted her to do was kiss my ass.  I finished passing the car on my right and was getting ready to move over when she tried to fling herself into the right lane to pass me there...cigarette still billowing as she was still yakking away on her phone, not paying much attention to the road or other drivers around her.  Luckily, she saw my blinker and avoided a near collision at the last possible second.  I got over and she flew by me only to slow down as she got back in front of me.  My cruise control was still set and holding at 73 so I know it wasn't my lack of attentiveness or any type of aggression on my part.  Cigarette woman then decided to slow down to around 65 as she got in front of me yet again with her cigarette still glowing freakishly between the fingers which are still holding her cell phone to her ear.  At this point I was kind of hoping her hair would catch on fire and she would have to pull over but luck wasn't on my side and I passed her again.  I tried to put as much distance between us as I safely could and thankfully she stayed far behind me for good.  I got to enjoy the rest of my trip home with my music still cranked ~ the TRVLN ZU was rocking!

It was as I was driving the rest of the way home that I really started to get a little pissed off at all of the inattentiveness, lack of manners and complete disregard for traffic rules by some idiotic drivers out there.  I come home from dropping the kids at school every morning with a new gripe about something that happened either to or from their schools.  Drivers who cut in and out of traffic just to get one car ahead in the carpool line.  Drivers who don't step on the gas when the lights turn green because they are too busy texting or those drivers who floor it when the light turns yellow...squeezing lemons as the kids say.  Drivers who are rude, nasty, impolite and impatient really chap my hide and they're starting to worry me even more as I think about Zach being turned loose, by himself, on the streets of Richmond.  How will he handle the utter disregard for rules and common sense by some idiots to become one of the responsible drivers?

I guess it's up to us, well me anyway...Stan can be a Jersey driver at times.  He'll criticize what others do and then go on to do the exact same thing himself ~ pure hypocrisy, through and through and he admits it.  I'll admit, I'm not always perfect ~ shocker, I know!  I do screw up sometimes but for the most part I try to be courteous, maintain safe distances, obey traffic laws (mostly anyway...speed is the one area where I have a problem) and keep an eye on my surroundings.  I don't text while I'm driving.  I don't speed with friends' kids in the car.  I don't do u-turns in intersections where it says "NO U-Turn."  Well, you get the idea.  Hopefully, I'm setting a decent example so Zach will go on to be a safe and courteous driver.  I will work hard to make him a defensive driver and try my hardest to make sure he knows all the rules of the road.

But I know I'm going to throw up the first time Zach backs out of the driveway and pulls away from the house all by himself.  I nearly did wretch my guts out the first time I ever left him when we went away for the first time to Hawaii for five days when he was four and Lucas was 18  months old.  Stan had to pull the car over, my face was hot and sticky, bile was rising in my throat, I felt light headed and dizzy and I had to work hard to catch my breath.  This will be worse...he will be leaving the safe confines of me, not me leaving him within the safe confines of another mother's arms.  I will have my barf bucket ready and my boxes of tissues standing by on that fateful day...I'm not gonna like it one little bit.

I just hope those stupid, moron, cigarette smoking, cell phone talking, soda swilling drivers are off the streets for the first couple of decades my kids are learning how to drive without me in the passenger seat.  If they do anything to cause harm to my sweet, darling, new drivers I will personally rip them apart...limb by limb.  I'm not even kidding.

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

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Trade Offs

The other day I was in Target and I heard a mom telling her little one "No, you need to hold your pee pee.  You can not go pee pee in your pants.  DO NOT go pee pee!!"  And I thought to myself "I don't miss those days."  Potty training, rushing to the nearest bathroom when the alarm has been raised and the toddler need to explore every bathroom from here to kingdom come is not something I can honestly say I miss.

But as I was thinking about life with my kiddos and realizing how quickly time has passed.  As we were sitting at brunch this morning, I realized we have just made some trade offs.

No, I don't have to pump breast milk or buy can after can of formula but I see the tremendous amount of food that goes into feeding these behemoths.  Zach had two full meals at breakfast ~ TWO.  Lucas had three eggs, three pieces of bacon and four enormous pancakes.  Claire, well, luckily she had a normal meal.

No, I am not bound to the house by nap schedules but I am still bound to a schedule but now we call it a curfew.  It's scarier now to think about "schedules" (aka curfews) and making sure the kids adhere to them.  If they ever miss curfew my concern would be exponentially greater than it was when I had to worry about a small child being grumpy from missing a nap.

No, I don't have to worry much about kissing boo-boos and comforting a little one after a nightmare or a bad ear infection.  Now I see, looming in my future, a need to offer comfort in the wake of a broken heart.  Luckily, we haven't had to go there yet and I'm really not looking forward to that road at all but it's one we'll go down, I am sure.  

There are trade-offs, to be sure...some good, some bad.  But all are a necessary part of raising kids and helping them to one day be able to fly on their own.  I have enjoyed each and every one of my kids' stages in life.  I will continue to savor the time I have with them as I continue to ponder the trade-offs of kids getting bigger, older and more mature.

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

Friday, March 9, 2012

Forgetting

Why is it I am so freaking forgetful??  I drive myself batty!!  Even with reminders and alerts I still forget to do things!

Case in point...dance pictures.  This was the week to pick up Claire's dance pictures.  I had my reminder set for last night.  I went to the studio to pick out the pictures I wanted to get for Claire.  I stood in line for as long as I could before having to bolt to go pick up Lucas from lacrosse.  I made a mental note to go back to the studio today to pick out and pick up the pictures.  I put it in my calendar and then it just went POOF....outta my brain.  I looked at the clock at 3 and did the mental head slap...SHIT!!!!  I totally forget to get back to the studio to pick up Claire's pictures!!

Now, I gotta do some quick thinking and fancy footwork!  Thankfully, I have Julie!  She's the keeper of all things I am not and she came to my rescue with the name and number of the photography studio.  Now, I can call them, covering my ass from having to admit to Claire that I forgot to go pick out her dance pictures.

I dread to think what I'm going to be like when I'm old ~ so does Stan.  This is not going to end well for me unless I can figure out some way to maybe attach some type of electrode to my body and deliver a jolt of electricity when I have something I need to do.  Other than that I may be screwed!

It's not like I try to forget things.  I really do try.  I have calendars.  I have my phone to alert me.  I just can't keep my shit straight but I really do try, I promise.

Trying to remember everything, everyplace and every everything I am supposed to be or do is for the love of my children....

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Responsibility

Lacrosse has started and with it a whole new schedule to learn.  Lucas' schedule is a bit, ummmm....loose, shall we say?  It starts at 5:30 but the end time is classified as "dark"...  That makes for whole lot of leeway in what time to pick your child up from practice.  For me, I thought the perfect time to pick up from practice was 6:45.  I couldn't have been more wrong about the schedule last night.

When I arrived, the parking lot was empty and Lucas was one of only four boys left on the practice field.  I was mortified.  I hate the thought of the kids wondering where the heck I am.  Lucas is the least concerned of the three but it eats at me because of what happened years ago.

When Zach first started playing lacrosse he played for a travel league that was about a half an hour drive from our house.  At the time Lucas and Claire were also practicing for summer swim league out at our pool which was about half an hour from Zach's lacrosse practice. It was one week while Stan was gone for business and I had the responsibility of getting Zach out to his practice, running Lucas and Claire to swim, waiting for them to finish and then heading back out to the lacrosse fields to get Zach.  For some reason, I don't remember why, I was running so, so, so late to get back to Zach.  I didn't have the cell phone numbers for the coaches and Zach didn't have his cell phone on him.  I didn't have the phone numbers of any of the other parents.  I couldn't call anyone to let them know I'd be late.  My nerves were jangled.  I hate being late.  I hate having to apologize for not being somewhere on time.  I came screaming into the parking lot on two wheels and was greeted with an empty lot.  Not a car in sight.  Not one.  Zach is there all alone.

Every single parent and coach left.  No one stayed behind to make sure that Zach was taken care of.  No one offered to let him use their phone to call me and see where the heck I was.  In the end it was my responsibility to get there on time but...did the coaches have a responsibility as well?  It's a fine line but I think there should have been some oversight; at least a phone call made to me, not just leaving my kid in an empty school yard with no way to call.  What if I had been in an accident?  Stan was out of town and there would have been no one to get Zach.  I made sure to talk to the head coach the next day and he was so very apologetic.  He said he didn't see that Zach was still there.  I let him know I was not happy with the how the situation was handled and he assured me something like that would never happen again.  And it didn't.  I made sure Zach always had his cell phone, I got the numbers of other parents and I made sure I was on time picking him up.

Last night was reminiscent of that night years ago, except for one small detail.  I stayed.  I was not going to let one kid get left behind.  I was not going to let one kid feel like Zach felt when everyone left and he was alone.  I took the lesson I learned years ago to heart.

Two of the boys got picked up within 10 minutes of me arriving.  The third and final boy was nervous and anxious.  He didn't have a cell phone so I let him use mine but he couldn't remember his dad's number.  My heart went out to him as he stood with Lucas waiting, for what must have seemed like an eternity to him, for his dad to come and pick him up.  Around 7:15 I see a car pull into the lot and Lucas' team mate picked up his gear.  As soon as I saw him head to his car, Lucas and I pulled away and headed home.  I am not telling you any of this for accolades or pats on the back.  I am telling you this because I felt it was my responsibility, as a mama, to make sure those boys were safe.

Responsibility is for the love of all of our children...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Doing Things Right

Today I decided I was only going to count the things I did right.  I was gonna breeze right past all of my mistakes.  If I did something wrong I vowed I was going to shrug my shoulders, say "oh, well" and move on to something I did right!

And I have to tell you how very liberating it's been.  Mistake? "Oh, well! Let's move on and focus on something I did well and right."  How fun is that??  

This doesn't work in every circumstance nor for every day because we all screw up, make mistakes and sometimes need to make amends.  But I have to tell you, it's working for me today.  I can't tell you one little thing I've done wrong (well, actually I can I just choose not to today!).  I can tell you a whole lot of what I did right, though, but I'm not going to bore you with the mundane details of my day.  

Today has made me realize how much I need to implement this way of thinking to my kiddos ~ pointing out the positive.  I think I started it just a little the other day...

The other day I was rearranging furniture in our newly appointed guest room to make it cozy and welcoming for an upcoming house guest.  I was pushing, pulling and tugging the dresser, the desk and the new beds all around the room when Zach came by and said "Mom, can I help you?"  Unsolicited help?  Are you kidding me???  I gladly took him up on his offer.  He and I had a good time rearranging furniture (a "good time" might be a stretch but he didn't even complain when I wanted to rearrange it again because I didn't like the way it looked the first time around).  For his "reward" I took him to breakfast at WaWa...unsolicited help gets rewarded.  He did something right.

As Zach was sitting at the kitchen counter enjoying his Sizzlies from WaWa, Lucas came by and asked why I didn't take him to WaWa for breakfast.  I explained the power of asking someone if they need help before they can ask for it themselves.  I was trying to point out the positive of doing something right to both Zach and Lucas.  Zach was sitting with his reward and Lucas was standing with a handful of nothing.  I hope it sunk in, even if just a little...doing something right get praise and a "reward."

I hope I can keep up with the focus on doing things right.  I hope I can translate it to my kids...focus on the positive.  Positives are rewarding.  Negative feedback to yourself and others only seeks to bring you down. So I'm going to keep my focus on pointing out doing things right for the love of my children.... 


Monday, March 5, 2012

Fantasy Versus Reality

Today was our first snow day of the school year.  Last night I posted on Facebook that I needed a snow day.  What I really meant was, I needed my fantasy snow day.

I needed a snow day where life revolved around me.  I wanted a day where I could sit in front of the fire, with my feet up, watching the snow fall softly to the ground.  I longed for a day full of steaming hot mugs of tea, baking cookies, a movie marathon,  followed by a good ol' snowball fight and finished off with warm, chocolaty cup of cocoa with marshmallows bubbling over the side of my mug.  What a beautiful fantasy.

What I got was large amounts of wet clothing piled at the foot of the dryer, causing it to run nearly non-stop, interrupting my day of laundry.  The snow was heavy, wet and nearly gone by this afternoon.  It was not good playing in the snow kind of snow.  Today I found so many kids trooping in and out of my front door I couldn't keep track of who was here, who was not and how many extra kiddos I had.  Today I was treated to a throng of boys roaming rambunctiously through the house.  At one point, I had to wonder if the ceiling was going to come crashing down and those boys would fall through to floor below.  Today I had girls who were sitting quietly, trying to hide their boredom by playing games, baking brownies and then going on to getting a bit snappish with each other as their boredom grew.  The house was loud, filled with activity, energy and loads of noise.  It was reality.

While I did get a snow day today, it just wasn't my fantasy day.  I need to remember I have plenty of time in the years ahead, when the kids are grown and gone to have my fantasy snow day.  Today was reality, and for now, I need to remember to embrace the reality of life while it's still here smacking me in the face and today was one of those days....full on reality ~ warts and all.

Oh, for the love of  my children....

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tell Your Story

The other day I was at Trader Joe's picking up a few things.  It was around 5 o'clock in the afternoon, pouring down rain outside and completely packed inside.  The lines were full of customers, like me, who were picking up things for dinner.

I found the shortest line and settled in for a long wait.  I love nearly everything about Trader Joe's, the customer service, the food, the variety, the wine, the prices...the only thing I don't like are the long lines but it's a trade off.  The checkers are so committed to making sure the customer who is at the front of the line is their top priority they move a little more slowly than I would like.  And so I have learned to wait patiently for my turn to feel like the only customer in the store when I get to the front of the line.

As I waited for the person in front of me to finish up, I started reading the racks of cards that are positioned right in front of the cash registers.  Most were lined up neatly and set in rows of coordinating cards but there was one card that was in the wrong spot.  It was the only card that was out of place and it immediately caught my eye.  It said...

"Tell your story

Believe in Healing
Honor Your Intuition
Take the Journey Back to Your Self
Wear More Skirts
Begin Today
Embrace Vulnerability
Do The One Thing You Didn't Think You Could
Quiet the Inner Critic"

This card called to me like nothing I have known in a while.  It needed to come home with me.  It is part of my life and my story now.

I spent yesterday afternoon with a friend of mine, driving to a lacrosse game.  And in our drive time we shared many stories.  She was so very curious about my braces and the story behind them so I told her all about my path through surgery and she said "You must be one of the bravest people I know to be able to undergo such an experience."  It is the second time in a couple of weeks I have been called "brave."  I have never really thought of myself as particularly brave but I guess there is a little bravery beating within me.  In embracing the compliment of being called brave, and having the card above "talk" to me, I realized it's time to tell my story and in doing so I hope to be able to tell others' stories as well.

Tomorrow my story will be published in our Perfect Mamas Confess website.  It is called "I Am a Survivor."  It is was not an easy story to write.  It may be hard to read so it comes with a caution.

I will tell stories for the love of my children....


Friday, March 2, 2012

Kids I Don't Know

This afternoon, as I came home from running errands in the pouring down rain, Lucas asked me if he could go ice skating with friends.  I was cold, wet and a little grumpy as I came trooping in from the car, my arms loaded with groceries.  I wasn't in the best mood and it probably wasn't the best time for Lucas to ask me if he could go skating from 8 until 11 tonight.  All I had in mind for the evening was a pair of yoga pants, a blanket, a glass of wine and a good movie...hunkered down in the house, not out running kids to and from the skating rink.  So my first response was a knee-jerk "NO!"

And then I looked at his face.  There was something a little shifty going on in his head.  I could see the wheels spinning as the question sprang forth from his lips "Why can't I go?"  Alarm bells were going off in my head.  I don't know why, but something seemed wrong about his demeanor.  My question was in response was "who is going?"  The response I got sealed the deal for Lucas not going skating tonight..."I don't know, Mom.  Just some kids from school ~ kids you don't know."  That's not the type of answer this mama likes to hear...especially when it comes to Lucas.  I need to know his friends.  I need to trust his friends.  And after looking at his face today when he asked if he could go to the ice rink I need to know that his friends will be a good influence on him.

It's not that I don't trust Lucas.  I trust him to tell me the truth.  He's a bean spiller.  He always has been and hopefully he always will be.  Case in point...we had ordered new skates or a new stick for hockey and Lucas was waiting and waiting and waiting for it to arrive.  UPS was the carrier and everyday after school Lucas would wait on the porch hoping that his new piece of hockey equipment would arrive.  After about a week of waiting, with nothing arriving, he got frustrated and he flipped off the UPS driver as he drove down the street.  I never would have known he gave the UPS guy the bird.  Never.  But Lucas came to me and told me exactly what he had done...he was mortified and very ashamed of his behavior.  I almost couldn't contain my laughter.  I am sure my eyes gave away the fact that I thought his confession was funny as hell.  But I gave him a stern talking to and made him promise to never flip off the UPS guy again!  He promised.  And he still comes to me with little confessions so I think I can trust him to tell me the truth.

What I don't trust is his judgement and common sense.  Last night as we were coming home from lacrosse practice he begged me to stop at 7-11 so he could get something to drink...he was dying of thirst, he told me.  He forgot his water bottle at home so I had pity on him and stopped.  I sent him in with $2...more than enough for a gatorade or water.  He comes sauntering out with a giant can of Arizona sweet iced tea...REALLY, Lucas???  I shook my head and sent him back into the store for something more appropriate for an after practice thirst quencher.  The common sense was not there.

I know there will come a day when I will have to loosen the apron strings a little.  I know Lucas will have friends I don't know but for now, while I can, I'm going to keep him in friend lockdown...only letting him go places with kids I know.

Oh for the love of my children...





Thursday, March 1, 2012

A New Normal

I seem to get a bit blindsided when it comes to my kiddos sometimes.  When Lucas was diagnosed with ADHD, I was convinced he was a normal little boy with a rambunctious personality.  I had completely dismissed, from my mind, the possibility that he could be anything but a normal little boy.  So I was completely blindsided when the child psychologist came back to us and said "in my 13 years of testing kids for ADHD I have never seen a kid test as far off the charts, in every area, as Lucas has."

The other night when I picked up Claire from swim practice, her coach requested that I come inside to talk for a minute.  I asked Claire why I needed to go in and she said it was because she had a "full blown asthma attack."  My first thought was "that's crazy!"  I went on to think that she just got herself all worked up because it was Tuesday, her tough practice day filled with both dance and swim and she hates Tuesdays.  But I did what the coach asked and went in to the pool area.

To me, Coach Drew embodies a fantastic kids' coach.  As we approached, he put his hand on Claire's shoulder and said "I just wanted to touch base with you, face to face, and let you know about Claire's very scary incident at practice."  He told me how they were doing a fairly light practice, just a kicking drill ~ nothing overly, strenuous when Claire came to him with trouble breathing.  She couldn't catch her breath, she was wheezing, and she was scared.  Drew told me how he took her outside, into the fresh air, and worked with her to get her breathing back under control.  Once he had her calm and her breathing was normal he asked if she wanted to finish practice with a water polo game, which she did.  It was his way of  letting me know there was no further cause for alarm during practice.  I left Coach Drew with my thanks and reassurance that I would have Claire checked out at the doctor.

Yesterday, I took Claire the doctor fully expecting a clean bill of health, with the shortness of breath being caused a fluke panic attack, type of thing.  I was not expecting the doctor to say "Based on how she blew in the peak flow rate, we have to assume she has asthma.  She should be blowing at least 460 and she can only blow to 325...that's not good."  I was not expecting to have Claire learn how to use an inhaler much less expecting to leave the doctors office with prescriptions for multiple inhalers. I was blindsided.

We left the doctors office with a new normal.  Why it's taken us 11 years to get here is anybody's guess.  The doctor thinks Claire just never knew any differently when it came to how she could breath or not.  It was her own normal.  Now we know and we move forward working to understand all aspects of asthma so we can help her figure out her new normal.

When Lucas was diagnosed with ADHD I did exactly what I did yesterday.  I researched.  I hate feeling that I was blindsided so I go the opposite direction and try to learn everything I can.  Yesterday I picked up the phone to pick the brain of one of my friends whose daughter also swims and has asthma so I can know exactly where we need to go from here.  We will make appointments and follow-ups and ask the questions that need to be answered so we can have a healthy, happy Claire who doesn't have to fear another attack where she couldn't catch her breath and was scared.  I don't like to think about how scared she was at practice...mama guilt sets in.  I don't like to think that she's still scared of having another attack.  I want to know everything so I can help empower Claire with her new normal.

Oh, for the love of my Claire Bear.