Monday, December 26, 2011

A crazy, bittersweet, and Grace-ful holiday

Christmas kicked my ass this year.  I guess it sort of does every year, but I really thought it was going to be a TKO this year.  

I'm trying to sort through the aftermath today, but I feel like I'm coming down from a 3 day bender.  I don't really know what that feels like, because I've never been on a 3 day bender, but I imagine that this is what it might feel like.  NO, it's not because I drank too much wine over Christmas...maybe I had a glass or 8 yesterday (throughout the day, thank you), but it's not that.  It's a Holiday Hangover.  So much energy goes into making it "the most wonderful time of the year."  I always want it to be magical for the kids, because it was always a magical time of year for me.  I've always loved the Season; the lights, the family gatherings, the gift exchanging... But DEAR GOD, it's so much work with the list making and party planning and shopping and multiple celebrations...

For the first time in years, and with a little help from some friends, I had the gifts wrapped before Christmas Eve. Thus, the morning of Christmas Eve did not bring with it its usual sense of urgency.  It did, however, bring with it some sad news.  My husband's grandfather, to whom he was very close, was in the hospital, and it didn't look good.  It's not my story to share, so I won't share it here.  I will say, though, that it wasn't sudden; we knew it was coming, we just didn't know it would be Christmas Eve.  

The hubs left to go be with his family, and I went about the business of making Christmas happen, waiting to hear sad news and worrying quietly for my husband in the back of my mind.  

It's a little surreal how life's mundanities are often juxtaposed with its most profound festivity and sadness can get all wrapped up in each other... Life marches on, though, relentlessly.  

There was baking to be done, commitments to be kept, and a family tradition to uphold.  I'm not sure this is exactly how it went, but here's what I remember...  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


We exiled the cats a few months ago in order to pacify my husband, who was on animal overload.

[Monday night]
Me: Honey, it's freezing outside. We need to make them a warm box with a heat lamp or something, or we need to let them inside. 
Danny: They're animals.  They'll find a warm spot in the garage and curl up together.  They're fine.

[Tuesday morning]
Grace: Mom, Daddy said the cats can come in! I promised I would clean the litter box. 

[Wednesday morning]
I didn't sleep half the night because a cat kept trying to sleep on my head.  But hey, Dad got to be the hero.


5 am

[boy-child slinks into bedroom]
Cole: I just puked.  [crawls into my bed]
Me: In your bed? 
Cole: No.  
Me: Is it on you?  
Cole: No.  

6:30 am
I discover where the puke occurred.  It's dried all over the bathroom floor, wall, door, toilet, rugs, etc.  He apparently tried to catch it, and it sprayed. You know, like when you put your thumb over the end of the water hose?  (What do you think the chances are that he didn't have puke on him when he crawled into my bed??) And clearly, the child is not going to school. Fuck me.

Wait, Danny's off today.  He's in charge of the puking.  Yay!

8 am
I attempt to work amidst the Holiday Hell in my living room.  Nope, can't seem to find the time to finish decking the goddamned halls...  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday cheer, delayed

I've been married to this man of mine for 11 years, with him for 12.  He is Mr. Scrooge.  Christmas music makes him twitch.  He white knuckles it through holiday events.  Every year, when I make him climb a latter and hang the icicle lights from the house he wants to murder me, but he tries not to let it show.  I always browbeat him through the Holiday Season, and he grudgingly allows me to.  He wants to not hate it, but he just can't shake it.  

Last week, we were laying in bed having coffee one morning, and a commercial came on the TV that reminded me... We really need some new yard ornaments this year.  We had some problems last year, I need to go get new strands of lights, the snowman is irretrievably damaged... And he's gonna be pissed if I go buy new stuff.  *sigh*

Five minutes later, he said, "I think we need more decorations for the yard this year.  I'd like to put some new stuff out."  

Wait, what?? 

It seems he's turning over a new leaf.  He wants to be into the Spirit of things this year.  All righty then, let's do it.  I'm in.  

So, Sunday was supposed to be Holiday Decorating Day. We were going to go to Garden Ridge, buy some stuff, come home, and deck the halls, baby.  And the yard.

That's how it was supposed to go.  Here's how it really went...

We stop at Garden Ridge.  They have aisles and aisles of holiday decor that is somewhat picked over but still lots to choose from.  As I start to put things in the basket, I start getting questions from Negative Nelly...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Having a voice amidst the Christian cacophony

Apparently this is offensive.  

Is it the word penis?  Unless you're a nun or a female minor with no male siblings and no father to accidentally walk in on in the bathroom, chances are pretty good that you've seen one.  If you're male, you have one.  If you're female, your father/brother/husband/son has one that you have mostly likely seen at some point.  My 8 year old daughter knows what a penis is and knows how to use it in a sentence without any qualms.  (Cole, you just went to the bathroom and probably touched your penis. Wash your hands before you eat.  True story.)

Okay, so...since a penis was involved in the creation of just about everyone in one way or another, certainly we can't be offended by the word penis.  Granted, the above statement does mention whipping it out in public and waving it around, but it's prefaced by the words please don't.  So that's okay, right?

Hmmm... PLEASE don't try to shove it down my children's throats.  Well, yes, okay... that's some pretty evocative imagery, true.  But again, it's saying PLEASE don't.

Maybe it's the comparison of religion to a penis.  But then that only works if you attach negative connotations to the idea of a penis.  Not me.  I happen to have a certain fondness for them.  The idea of a penis evokes acts of pleasure, acts of love, and acts of creation.  I think the world would be a sad place without penises.

I also happen to have a certain fondness for religion.  All of them.  Spirituality in general fascinates me.  I know God, and I even think Jesus was a pretty cool guy.  But...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Animal house

Why do we have all these animals??

I should never ask this question out loud.  I never like my husband's answer.  He likes the dogs, but he also likes to blame their existence on me.  That's fine; that just means that I don't ever get to complain about them without the requisite you're-the-one-that-wanted-them response.  

I found myself asking it again last night, though. 

First, let me introduce you to the dogs...

Golden Retriever
Age: 13
Dog years: 91

Sweetest dog you'll ever meet, seriously.  No leash necessary, ever, because she just wants to be wherever her people are.

Previously thought to be a Saint Bernard
Now suspected she may be a Pyrenean Mastiff
Age: 5
Dog years: 35 (but still acts like a big giant goofy puppy)

I refer to Izzie as "the retarded one." She means well but doesn't have the sense God gave a goat.  Leashes are extremely necessary. She's like the dog in Up... "Squirrel!"  

Jimmy Choo
aka Choo Choo
aka The Chooch Pooch
Chihuahua (from BonBon Chihuahuas)
Age: 1 year
Dog years: 7

Cute and snuggly, but for God's sake don't open the front door in his vicinity.  He's officially the girl child's dog. Leash is mandatory, and has to be crated if front door is going to be opened.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Suck it, Monday

6:30am: Wake up 30 minutes later than I like to.  Lay there, try to convince myself to be alive.  Husband says, "Did you remember to buy coffee?"

"No.  Did you?"


Dammit.  "Starbucks?" I say hopefully.  Yeah right, his look says.

So, no coffee.  Great.  Haul myself out of bed and try to remember what I need to do first.  School clothes.  Do we have them picked out?  Do they need to be ironed?

Ask the girl child.  Spend some time arguing on wardrobe.  Attempt to find school shirts (an increasingly rare commodity for the girl.  I think she eats them).  Iron school shirt.

Dad feeds kids.  I make school lunch.  Dad finds one coffee K-cup and makes me a cup of coffee.  My hero!

 Snack in backpack.  Water bottle.  Book.  Folder.  Okay, she's ready to walk out the door.  Except--

7:07am: Shit, there's the school bus alarm, time to go to the bus stop.  "Grace, I haven't fixed your hair yet!"

Find her in my bathroom with goop glopped on her head.  A pony tail it is, then.

Spray her hair.  "Go get a pony holder.  Hurry!"  I'm still having some crackpipe delusion that she's going to make the bus.

Dad is in the hall, girl child is not coming back with the pony holder, I go to summon her, and I can see her past her dad.  Then she looks at her dad's feet and screams.  I think her brother has thrown something at her.  I look down for the offending item.  It's a roach.  I scream and turn tail back to the bedroom.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Living with children

You always hear about the exhausted years of parenting babies and toddlers... Even if you don't have kids, it's easy to imagine life with babies and toddlers. You're sleep deprived, covered with spit up, changing (and, if you're like me, washing) dirty diapers, you own every child proofing device known to man in order to try to maintain some hold on sanity, and you have a little velcro monkey attached to you all the time...

As they get older, much of that just magically dissolves into the ether, pushed back to the back of your memory like the vestiges of a bad dream.  You know, the ones you wake up from remembering that something disturbing happened but not quite recalling the details?  That's what it's like when your babies outgrow babyhood and toddlerhood.  You know it was challenging and there were bad days, but you somehow don't recall most of the details.  

Ah, but then... 

Then, you're living with these little people.  They become little invaders; they live in your house, they eat your food without permission, they invade you head and take away your ability to form a complete thought, they force you to become a referee, they make new kinds of messes... sports equipment, dance gear, school work, craft projects... When they're babies, quiet is good.  Quiet means sleep.  When they're older, quiet just means trouble. You walk into your kitchen and realize that you've either been visited by a flock of evil fairies... or your 8 year old daughter did a "project" with glitter without asking and then just walked away, seriously believing that you might not notice that she spilled gold glitter... everywhere (not just in the kitchen anymore, because the dogs have helpfully tracked it all over the rest of the house).

Having older kids means never having paper in the printer when you need to print something.  

It means that all of the envelopes in your blank envelope box are either gone or have writing on them.  

It means that a roll of scotch tape will not last more that about 6 hours in your house; then, it either mysteriously disappears or, better yet, gets put back in the drawer empty of actual tape.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Truths that piss me off

I came across this in my Facebook feed originally posted from here.  

Truths that piss me off (in no specific order):

Sugar makes me fat.

Carbs are not my friend.

Ignoring poor behavior is not an effective parenting tool.

Marriage is WORK.

Being right doesn't matter.

I don't always like my kids.

My parents are just people, too.

Smoking smells bad and gives you lung cancer.

Not everyone thinks my kids are as cute I think they are.

I'm not a good housekeeper.

Everyone has money issues from time to time, but nobody talks about it.

There's no cure for stupid.

What other people think about me is none of my business.

Nobody else really cares what you want them to do; if you want something done, do it yourself.

I need degrees in psychology, medicine, nutrition, and education just to raise my children.

Worrying that something might happen actually increases the likelihood that it will.

I don't spend enough time with my friends.

My dogs like me more than I like them.

In order for someone to love me, I have to love myself.

Kids are mean and judgmental, and so I can't tell my son to just be himself.

I said "I'd never," and then learned the taste of my own words.

Being a mom is and thankless job.

It's impossible to house train a chihuahua.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Hi, is this Cole's mom?": the Halloween edition

It's 2:45 p.m., and my brain has turned to mush.  I have about 20 minutes before the girl-child gets off the bus. All I can think about is a shower to wash away last night's Halloween festivities and today's brain cobwebs.

I turn on the shower and make it nice and hot.  I find my towel and place it nearby.  I evict the dogs, even, from my 15 minutes of sanctuary.

I step into the shower, and the hot stream hits my back.  I sigh and move to submerge my head under the wonderfully hot water, and-

Rrrrriiiiiiiiinnngg.  Rrrrriiiiiiiiinnngg.  I freeze.

WTF?  Seriously? *sigh*  I'm not answering it. Who is it?  God help me, it's the boy-child's school.

I pick up the phone with a sense of foreboding as my hot water continues to flow in the background.

"Is this Cole's mom? Hi, this is Mrs. [Teacher That Always Gives Your Son Conduct Marks]."  

Crap crap crap.

I turn the hot water off in defeat.

"Cole isn't having a good day.  He's been with me since 1:30 and he's already gotten 3 conduct marks.  I can't get him to stop talking in the hallways. He did bring us candy today, and I was wondering if maybe he had some of it."

Well, of course he did, because I expressly forbid him to do so, caught him in the attempt, and reiterated my directive not to take candy to his teachers or anyone else.  So, why not?  Never mind the money I spent on sugar free candy to replace the Halloween haul.

I thought I would steal 15 minutes of tranquility.  Ha.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Jumping through hoops, in vain...

I hate fundraisers.  This may not be the first time I've said it, and it certainly won't be the last.

My son participated in a fundraiser that had a sales contest in which, if you sold X amount items, you would win a pizza party at CiCi's pizza.

Have I mention my son is gluten free?

So, fine... Yes, I will sign the permission slip for the limo ride that I don't really even agree with so that my son can go to the pizza place where he can't even eat.  And yes, I will make the goddamned gluten free pizza so he won't feel left out.

So, that's what I did.  I got up this morning, got both kids off to school, and attempted to make a pizza.  Lo, and behold, I did not, in fact, have the jar of pizza sauce I thought was in the fridge.

 Crap.  I'll go to the store.  No, don't have time for that.  So, that's fine... I don't need any jar of store bought pizza sauce, I have tomato sauce, I'll make my own.

So, I did.  I made sauce, assembled gluten free pizza, cooked it, cooled it, wrapped it, and took it to the school by 9am.  (Yes, putting me over an hour late on actually working.) He retrieved his pizza and said, "My teacher doesn't think they'll let me bring it." WTF? He can't eat their pizza, so why not? I assure him it will be fine, but I'll call just to double check.  So, I called, and sadly, Teacher was right.  No outside food.  It's a food safety issue.

But no worries...  He can eat salad.  I'm sure he'll be thrilled.

What becomes of my gluten free early morning creation?  God knows... Hopefully he gets to eat it at some point.  I'm pretty sure 10am is too early for wine...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Safety first

I'm sort of a safety nut.  I'm very serious about car seat and seat belt issues - proper installation of car seats, use of booster seats, proper wearing of seat belts in the car...  (Yeah, I don't care if your mom lets you put the should strap behind your back. When you're in my car, you're gonna wear it the right way, k?)

When the cheerleading ladies held a meeting about Cheer Competition, we were told the girls would be going to competition in a limo.  Another mom raised her hand and asked if the limo would have seat belts.  They said no, that they had asked, but since law doesn't required seatbelt use in limos, the limo wasn't equipped with them.


Now my daughter is going to hate me, because she's not riding 45 minutes away in a car full of unrestrained 4-8 year old girls, most of which shouldn't be in a car without a booster seat, much less without a seat belt.

I discussed it with her father.  He agreed with the safety issue, but thought that she should be allowed so as not to be left out.  I wasn't going to budge from my position, though.

I broke the news to her the night before the competition.  She wasn't very happy.  I had read this post the week before about a dresser falling on a 3 year old.  I told Grace the story, and I asked her what if something happened, and that were me, and what if those people were saying to me, "You could have said no to the limo."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Picture Day

Here's nice tidbit from last week...

Grace, today is picture day.  Was there a form I needed to turn in, or is this one that I buy later?

 I don't think so, I didn't get any form. 

Are you sure?

Yeah, I think you buy them later.

[fast forward about 9 hours]

[in a huff] Guess what Mom, he took my picture for the yearbook, but I'm not going to get any pictures because you didn't send any money!


Friday, October 21, 2011

"Hi, is this Cole's mom?"

Oh, Friday. I'm always glad to see you. Lately, though, you've been bringing with you some not-so-fun phone calls from teachers. I may reconsider my position on Fridays if this doesn't change soon.  

"We're just calling to let you know that Cole got 6 conduct marks this week. He already had a lunch d-hall to serve this week, but he managed to find someone to talk to during lunch, so he's going to have to have a do-over on that one, and he's also going to have to serve an after school detention next week. We can do Monday or Thursday, which do you prefer?" 

Um... Can I choose none of the above? No? Oh, well okay then, I guess Thursday looks great for me.  

Oh, this child of mine.  

Yes, he has Bipolar Disorder. Yes, he has ADHD. Yes, he even has Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  Oh, I did I mention he's gluten, sugar, and milk free, also? Life is not so easy on my poor sweet son. But we work so hard to make sure he has no barriers to success. He takes medication from the doctor, he takes whole food supplements from the BEST chiropractor, his diet is modified to exclude food that is detrimental to him. But still, there's only so much we can do. Clearly.  

So, back to this afternoon...