Friday, December 14, 2012

Conversations & Nonsense

There are many times a day when I find myself saying things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Now some of these can be attributed to "mommy brain" or a major lack of caffeine at the time.  My sisters will remind me of a time we were talking in my parents' kitchen in the past year and I stopped and asked: "Wait- who said that? Me?"  And I was referring to something that had just been said...But really the nonsensical statements and conversations I am thinking about most today are the ones that actually make complete sense in the context and at the time they are being said.  Still I am positive that A.J. never has conversations with his coworkers like I do with my four little coworkers.  Today's prime examples all happened within the first hour and a half before we took Jimmy to school:
Me to Jimmy: "Stop bothering the baby with the spatula!!"
Me to Sawyer as I was getting him dressed: "What's that in your mouth? Baby Jesus?! Spit that out!" He had managed to cram the entire Baby Jesus from our Rubber Duck Nativity into his mouth.
Me to Jimmy as I was loading the boys in the car: "Stop standing by the exhaust pipe!" as he was standing there saying it smelled bad.

And there are so many other things that I say on a regular basis that remind me that my "job" has so much humor in it even if I don't find it at the time.
Me to Jimmy at least once a day: "Quit licking the baby's head!" This wouldn't be a problem if Jimmy's breath didn't smell like cat's breath.
Me to Josie: "Quit beating your brother with that (fill in random object here)!" The current object of choice is a hard plastic 2 foot tall candy cane, but really she can make use of anything within reach.  No need for self defense classes for that girl.
Me to Sawyer: "Please don't suffocate the baby under the pillows!"
Me to Bart: "Stop eating the (fill in the blank with some non-food item)!"  "Stop trying to electrocute yourself!  Get away from that cord!!" "Quit using your hair as a napkin!"

There are so many more mind numbing statements made everyday but not enough time to keep track and there's not a glimmer of hope that this mommy brain can remember them all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rocking the Vote- Somewhat Literally

So in my attempts to teach the boys about patriotism, I decided why not take all three goonies with me to vote yesterday.  Well really it was more a case of A.J. being back and forth between work and trying to go see his mom at the hospital and there really wasn't another option.  I strategically planned it so that we would get to our polling place right around 10:30 and true to my chaotic life, we rolled up about 11:30.  Bart had conveniently fallen asleep in the car so I plunked him in the stroller which is a Craigslist favorite find of mine- a green Phil and Ted's.  I didn't bother to attach the hitch seat for Sawyer since he usually springs out of it the moment I glance away.  The one good thing about schlepping all three boys with me was that most of the annoying campaigners out front took one look at me and left me alone except for the moronic "I'm out to save the world one vote at a time" twenty something male who got brushed off with a swipe of my hand.  In hindsight, I should have told him I would vote for his candidate if he would watch the boys while I voted...We make it in the door of the place and there are only a few people in front of me to check in and then a very minimal looking line to vote.  At the check in table, I am pleading with my eyes for the old Lady Liberty working the table to make this as quick as possible and instead the old bat informed me that my old address was on my voter I.D. card and they really should have sent me a new one.  I explained that I am sure they had when I moved FIVE YEARS AGO, but god knows where it is.  Next step, get in line to do the computer vote since I thought at first that this would be the easiest method with the goonies helping me.  Note- there was only ONE computer and then about six other booths where you could do the paper ballots.  In the first minute we were in line, Sawyer began leaping off the footrest of the stroller bumping into the woman in front of me and then he and Jimmy proceeded to try to escape out a window. The older woman using the lone computer was clearly not knowledgeable in any form of technology so we were stuck.  After Sawyer kicked the heel of the woman in front of us for about the twentieth time, I grabbed the boys and spun around to grab a paper ballot and vote at one of the open booths.  Now had I been up on the three or four additional measures to vote on for our state and county, it would have been a quick fill in the ovals and be on our way.  But trying to decipher legal jargon as Sawyer and Jimmy chased each other in circles around my booth almost knocking the booth next to me over with a gentleman voting at it was possibly more painful than taking the SATs.  Sawyer is a sly one and managed to leap out of my grasp a few times before I scooped him up and held him by the waist under my left arm and tried to complete my ballot.  This just caused him to release shrill screams and try to wriggle free.  Jimmy was in hysterics by this point trying to egg Sawyer on.  At last, I filled in the last oval and sprinted for the black box thingamajig to scan my ballot into.  Of course there was yet another technologically challenged old lady chatting up the older guy working this machine.  Hurrah!  She got out of there and my ballot was submitted, sticker on, we were out the door.  Sweet freedom!  Hope you exercised yours!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Goose May Be Heading South this Winter

So yesterday, the Gray Goose decided to start molting...literally on a pretty main highway which has a speed limit of fifty which means I usually go close to 65 or 70 depending on how late I am running.  The boys and I were heading to pick Josie up from school and had just merged onto Route 28 and the particular ramp we get on at is on the left hand side which meant that when I looked in my driver's side mirror and saw the long piece of metal flapping out from my car, I had to figure out crossing three lanes of traffic(safely) to pull over.  Miraculously made it over to the side and hopped out keeping my body planted smack next to my car as I went to rip the piece of metal off and continue on my way.  Then I realized quite quickly that this would not happen as the piece was being held on by large screws under the rear blinkers.  Despite the fact that I have a random mass of junk inside my car, no duct tape or item close to it to secure the metal flap.  Thus I threw on the hazards and continued on our merry way to the closest exit about a mile and a half down the road, praying that this metal "feather" would not come detached or come into contact with any of the much nicer cars on the road(which equals any other car). We wound around the exit ramp and began to merge onto one of the side roads as I watched in horror as other cars swerved further to the left lanes to avoid the Goose's stray feather.  I frantically called A.J. at work to go grab Josie and of course he didn't pick up.  Thankfully got in touch with friend who teaches there who may or may not have kept Josie in her classroom in the past for me;) I start to pull into the first gas station I see which is next to a place called Mr. Tire.  See a kind gentleman outside Mr. Tire as I pull in whose eyes bug out as he looks at my car and says:"Looks like you need some help." Isn't that the understatement of the year??  A huge thank you to John at Mr. Tire who immediately went and grabbed several tools and freed the Goose's feather for me.  Apparently this thin side panel had rusted out where it had been attached.  John carefully placed the metal piece in the back of my car amidst the bulky stroller, bags of give away clothes, and a baby bouncy seat on hold for a friend.  This whole process happened within a matter of minutes so I really could have grabbed Josie at second pickup, but she'd already headed to a classroom to wait for her crazy mother.  Thank you, Julie, for once again herding one of my monkeys!
A.J. informed me that hopefully we will be getting a new car for me around Christmas time.  Said car will most likely be a behemoth soccer mom Suburban to fit all the "stuff" that comes from having four goonies and an overweight coonhound.  In some ways, I know I will be sad to say goodbye to the Goose as she heads south.  In other ways, I am quite excited.  And in other ways, I fear I may need to attend some sort of truck drivers' ed.  I have never been a great driver or the most knowledgeable about cars(quiet down, family and friends, I hear you laughing already!).  Several examples to illustrate this statement:
- may have rear-ended a guy in highschool who I liked at the time because I was following a bit too closely
-may have also gotten my mother's '68 Camaro convertible wedged on a bank of snow while parallel parking on a side street by our high school.  It took about three strong guys to help push it off of the snow bank
-may have hit the bumper of another friend's car while parallel parking along same street another time
-may have "killed" our VW Scirocco my junior year of high school while making a left turn INTO a minivan...during morning rush hour....had to get out of car while in my Catholic school uniform as gawkers looked on and drove by.  One said gawker- my brother-in-law's brother who later told my b-i-l: "I think I saw Cami in an accident this morning".  Pete- thanks for NOT stopping!:)
-may have turned into another car in a metro parking lot while on the phone with A.J. when we were dating which caused me to scream and throw the phone which might have freaked A.J. out a bit at the time
-and A.J.' s favorite, the time the Durango may have caught fire on Gallows Road at rush hour(when I was heading from work to pick Josie up at my parents'), but was really just smoking, and I might have called 911 only to be talked down by the operator who I also may have apologized to afterwards for my freak out.  Happy now, A.J.?  It's out there:)

I didn't even include a few tickets here and there. I also think I may have forgotten some other "incidents", but there is not enough time in the day to mention them.
Bring on the next Goose if the gods feel it is time.  Til then, I will drive this car into the ground!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

You Know What That's a Sign Of?

Background information to this story: My children are often little hoarders like their crafty creative-brained mama.  A couple weeks ago we went to the playground near Josie's school where they collected an ungodly amount of small pinecones and acorns which we put into two shoeboxes(without lids) in the Gray Goose.  Main reason was to appease them and get them into the car and stop the whining about leaving the playground.  And of course based on how often I clean out the car, they have remained there.  Except that last night after Josie's first time cheering on the pom pom squad for the little league football team, as I attempted to get Sawyer out of the car, he knocked one of the shoeboxes out and pinecones and acorns spilled out onto the driveway next to his door.  In the dark I gathered mostly just pinecones back into the box and put it back in the car.
Which brings us to this morning.  Jimmy has been sick the past couple days with a cough/cold/fever thing which seems to now be spreading through the minions.  Thus we have a more relaxing Saturday morning than our usual hustle to make it to Jimmy's flag football games.  A.J. headed out to grab us some Dunkin Donuts.  About a minute after he shut the door, he came back in and in a serious tone asked me to come out front with him.  I hesitated as I was still in PJs and no bra and he says to just grab Bart and hold him in front of me which I do.  I step out on the porch and he goes over near my car and points down at some stuff on the ground that looks like little brown balls or something.  He says: "Look at this!  You know what that's a sign of?"  I am squinting to see since I have my glasses on which need updating.  I take a random guess since we do live in a very "country" neighborhood with a lot of wild life.  "I don't know- deer." Thinking in my head that it's deer poop.  Then A.J. starts getting a bit more riled up and says:"No, those are nuts!  It's a sign of squirrels!  You probably have a squirrel living in your car!!"  Then it dawns on me about the shoebox spilling last night and I start cracking up and yell back to him: "Actually, it's a sign that Sawyer spilled the shoebox full of acorns and pinecones that your oldest two collected at the park the other week!"
The best part is I am pretty sure that the chain smokers who always walk their two dogs past our house twice a day while smoking witnessed this whole thing...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Dropoff & the Rats' Nest

So due to the fact that A.J.'s mom is in the hospital and his schedule is pretty much wake up at some ungodly hour, head to work then to the hospital then back to work, sometimes back to the hospital and finally back home, I am on Josie dropoff duty.  And being that Moxie has not completed her babysitting/first aid/ child CPR courses yet, the three amigos must join us.  After the usual painful loading process we make the jaunt to Josie's school.  In attempting to "put on my happy face" though I am so NOT a morning person, I do a lot of obnoxious car dancing/singing/arms flapping- like-a-crazy-woman to whatever semi-kidfriendly music I can find on the radio.  This morning brought about the newest dance move in my cardancing repertoire- "the chicken wing".  The judges gave it a firm thumbs down, but I do think Bart was enjoying it from the view of his baby mirror in the back.
Amazingly, we have been getting Josie to school on time which probably explains my need for a third mongo mug of coffee in the morning to fully function.  The way that Josie's dropoff works is that the cars weave through the parking lot around the perimeter of the school in a single file line to the side where all the 6th grade patrols and a few teachers are standing.  At this point you pull up along the sidewalk, a patrol or a teacher opens the car door and your kid must be standing ready to leap out of the car to keep things running smoothly.  Kid out, patrol shuts door and you file out the other side of the parking lot.  On more days than not, the patrols have some sort of funny notion that my dinged up Odyssey has power sliding doors.  Again this morning the patrol barely touched the handle waiting for the door to open much to the kids and my amusement as I yell:"It's not automatic!!" Patrol laughs it off and opens the door, Josie springs out as we shout our "I love yous!".  However, along with Josie, a pile of God knows what and a box of empty capri suns went flying out of the Goose.  Patrol nicely threw said trash back into the car, I thanked him as he shut the door and I started to drive away only to hear a bad crunching noise.  I put on the brakes as the little patrols are making faces that seem to say "OMG!"  Rolled down the window and ask if everything is okay because by this point I have created a traffic jam.  With an uncertain look, the patrol says "it's okay" and I drive away trying to figure out what I hit.
Then in order to cover my tracks I text my friend who just happens to be the teacher who is in charge of the patrols and witnessed the whole debacle.  Here are our texts verbatim:

Me: Not sure WTH rolled out of my car & I ran over but little patrol said it was okay & I didn't want to hold up line- sorry for the litter(insert tight smiling emoticon here)
Friend: Ha ha ha oh my God that just made me crack was a plate...emphasis on "was"! Ha ha ha
Me: (Insert winking emoticon)
Friend: I just swept up the pieces about 20 minutes ago!
Me: Sorry- was it plastic??
Friend: No I think it was worries its kind of funny now

Later I called A.J. to see how my mother-in-law is doing and to cheer things up a bit, I reiterated the story.  His reply was "Why don't you clean that rats' nest up?!"

Friday, August 10, 2012

Desperately Seeking Adult Conversation

The facts:  I love my children dearly.  I am grateful I get to be home with them most of the time.  I wouldn’t change my life a bit.  I admit that while I may complain about the school dropoff/pickup routine, sadly, I find myself missing it.  For one simple reason- adult contact and conversation and above all, commiseration. 
The evidence:
-Monday, chose to take all four children to lunch and shopping at Costco with my oldest sister and her five children.  Highlights: Jimmy and my nephew Stefan playing chicken with customers pushing their fullcarts out of the checkout lines while the rest of us scarfed down our pizza.   My sister witnessed two ladies cursing each other out in front of the food court area to the point the manager had to break it up.   Was it worth it?  Definitely- where else can you feed 9 children and two adults for under $15?!
-Wednesday, ended up sitting through an alarm system salesman’s close to one and a half hour pitch for us to upgrade our system amidst screaming children who were leaping around the couch while the dog barked at the lunch leftovers that were still out on the counter.  Highlights: I am fairly certain that the young whipper snapper of a salesman equated my life to when he ran an afterschool program at a YMCA in Boston; the other young guy who installed the upgraded equipment got to witness me plead with Jimmy to keep his shorts on because he wanted to “be naked” and then practically wrestle him to leave them intact as well as several other choice phrases/happenings that occurred during the time he was here.  Was it worth it?  Yes, we got some nice upgrades to the alarm system and can now control it all from our iPhones.   One of the freebies included was a camera similar to a nanny cam which we are still debating the best spot for- the entertainment value alone is priceless!
-Wednesday night, I went solo to dropoff dinner for a woman from our church who is homebound right now.  Highlight: I ended up staying over an hour to visit with her.  Was it worth it?  No doubt.  She led a pretty cool life and turns out she was an RN so I got to reminisce about my days working in hospitals.
-Thursday afternoon playdate at a friend’s house.  Highlights: I am pretty sure there were moments that Jimmy was yelling things about his “wiener” and the boys were running circles through my friend’s house by the end.  Was it worth it?  Always and I got some nice catch up conversation in with my friend.
-Thursday night, trying to get two oldest children to calm down and get sleepy while watching a show since A.J. was out working on his mancave.  I got a call from one of my best friends that a family member of hers is sick.  Trying to have a serious conversation with Jimmy and Josie beating the heck out of each other and hurling themselves across my bed where I had gone to get some quiet space.   Thankfully my friend is awesome and bears with the chaos while I try to be “present” for her and also “present” for any impending injuries. 
-Friday, after Bart’s 9 month appointment where all three of my older helpers came along, I rewarded the kids with a trip to A.J.’s office to see the cool fish tank and get some candy from the lobby.   Sawyer managed to open the door into a training session and the boys later started wrestling near the cubicles outside A.J.’s office.  Thankfully, the cubicles are stronger than the ones in “Office Space” and didn’t come crashing down like dominoes as Jimmy threw Sawyer into one.  Was it worth it?  Always enjoy seeing my Hunky in the middle of the day and seeing how all of the kids’ faces and his face light up when they see each other.  Plus I got to chit chat with some of A.J.’s coworkers on the sales team who are all very cool and let me interrupt their day with my four little goonies.
So a big thank you this week to all those people who humored this mom on some of the most mind-numbing days of summer and spent some extra time talking about nothing and everything!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Observations from the week of Breaking in the Barn

-Jimmy applies holy water as if it is aftershave
-my family & friends are awesome and still support me in my somewhat offbeat dreams
-babies love beer bottles, both to look at "ooh so shiny!" and to teethe on.   maybe I need to figure out a way to market a baby safe beer bottle teether.
-I have a really bad addiction to Craigslist furniture and thankfully a husband who supports this.
-on that same note, my sister's taste in furniture is a bit different than mine based on her reaction to my recent teal "vintage arm chair" purchase and me having to clarify that said chair did not come from A.J.'s grandma
-The clerk at Costco may have thought I had as many children as the Duggars as he rang up my two cart loads and asked how long that amount of food would last us...I had been the sucker who volunteered to do the Costco run for our family beach trip, but really my sisters were the  big suckers as they had the fun of keeping my 4 children along with their own kids while I went to Costco with only my 13 year old nephew.
-I have so much respect for moms who work full time outside of the house.  I am only working about twenty steps away and it has been a chaotic adjustment for all.
- I could never homeschool my children as evidenced by the major 'tude Josie likes to display in my art classes.  She was getting a bit feisty the other day and threatened to leave the class early then added that she "could" go to the house because she lived there.   She did have a point.
- black shingles really do heat things up...2 portable ACs, one ceiling fan, and two standing fans in the barn and the upstairs art studio got close to 90 degrees.  We're working on it...Until the heat wave passes, classes are temporarily being held in the mancave section of the barn and my children now correctly use the term mancave.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Moronic Move of the Day

Ah summer...One of the most fun parts of it is that I get to take all four children with me on most errands.  Today's brief trip to Safeway to pick up a prescription and grab a few things went something like this.  Bart was strapped to me(literally) in the baby Bjorn facing outwards so he could check out all the action, but since he is a bit of a chubbo I am pretty sure it looked more like the scene in Austin Powers where Dr. Evil has Mini Me strapped to him in a similar device.  Jimmy and Sawyer were in the car cart and Josie was dancing around the store ahead of me.  Jimmy chose to be seat belted- always my more cautious one while Sawyer was perched out of the fake car passenger window humming some song at the top of his lungs.  And it is such a cruel joke that every time I have to make my way through the store to get to the pharmacy I have to go through the wine and beer section.  Many bottles stood there taunting me with their pretty labels, but I resisted the 2 for $10 special of the day and was just thankful that none of my goons managed to send any of the glass bottles crashing to the floor.  However, if they had, I may have dropped to my knees and started lapping up "the nectar of the gods".  But before I sound any more like an alcoholic I will get back to our shopping adventure.  After grabbing the prescription, I made it my mission to see how fast we could grab the supplies necessary to give my sister Nikki a chocolate fix since she is hitting the one week postpartum point after my niece Sally's arrival.  We weaved through the store grabbing rolls of cookie dough and supplies for saltine toffee, would have been much faster had three certain small people not had the need to be "helpers" and put things in the cart for me.  Once at the line in front, we again provided amusement to the elderly lady in front of us as I let the kids each choose a push pop and argued with Josie that she could not have one of those stupid bottle pops because I could not deal with the powder(sugar) that is part of it for the kid to dip their pop in.  Sawyer by this point was refusing to actually sit in the car cart and was perched on top of it spread eagle just seconds away from some sort of injury.  Finally through the sliding doors and on our way.  I am fairly certain that once we cleared those doors, there was a great amount of applause on the other side by clerks and shoppers alike, but maybe I was just hearing things again...
In the car, on our way to our next destination, Josie hit me with the doozey: "Did Jesus have a girlfriend?" which led to one of the most long-winded, but trying to make sure I cover all the Catholic bases explanations in the world.  And by the time I was finished I think we were both lost.  This came after telling me earlier this morning that it would be so cool if "Taylor Swift was my older sister and then she would be Sofi's(my niece) and Annabelle's cousin".  Nevermind the fact that this would have meant that I gave birth to that "older sister" at age thirteen.  I lovethe carefree logic of six year olds.
We spent a large chunk of the afternoon at my parents' house where the children pretty much have free reign and cavort with some or all of their cousins on any given day.  Today there were only ten kids around to wreak havoc and create messes in every room that they touched.  The younger contingent of boys has a renewed fondness for wrestling so the matches took place in my parents "at one time formal" living room while forts were constructed in the playroom and playdough was scattered around the kitchen table.  As usual, there were moments of tattling and people ended up in tears.  Josie and her cousin Ava came running down from the playroom to let my sister Yvette and I know that a bunch of the kids were "naked" and singing "sexy songs" which turned out to be that the boys had taken their shirts off and were dancing around singing "Sexy and I Know It".  In trying to keep Bart occupied while I made up the toffee, I plunked him in the exersaucer with some crackers to teethe on.  In an effort to ease the cleanup of the crumbs, I handed Bart to my sister and went to shake the exersaucer out in my parents' front yard.  Hoisting it high in the air, I walked out on their porch and for whatever reason, most likely the various distractions(children), I blanked on the fact that there were two steps leading down from the porch. I completely lost my footing and wiped out in the biggest way, flip flops flying, exersaucer crashing and me landing in a huge splat.  I have never been so happy that my parents' busy body next door neighbor was not around as I was today.  And before I really collected myself I did that whole freak out scan the surroundings, dear God please don't say that anyone saw that thing.  I tried not to focus on how much it really hurt, but to pretty much hold my breath as I shook the exersaucer as quickly as possible and threw it on the porch before hobbling back inside into the kitchen where my sister Yvette saw my bloody scraped leg and then my other foot which looked somewhat like I caught it in a shredder. At this point I finally released the pent up "OOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!" that I really needed to get out.  Shockingly I didn't cry, but my sister commiserated with me just how badly the whole scraped knee/arm/whatever on concrete really hurts.  It is a sensation that stays with you from the first time you fall off your bike as a kid.  And it hurts just as much as an adult.  Sawyer, my niece Katarina, and my nephew Sam enjoyed playing nurses' helpers and helping Yvette put about twenty bandaids on my foot.
A little later, one of the kids yelled that he had seen Moxie(who is staying at my parents' while the barn is being built) trotting around out front in my parents' pipe stem.  I rushed to throw on my flip flops and ignore my black and blue toe which I am pretty sure is broken and go round up the dumb dog.  Luckily, my mother has clearly shown Moxie that food is love and that it is much more sensible to return to your foodsource and so Moxie was already heading back to my parents' front door when I went out to get her.  With the dog safely back inside, back to the wrestling matches I went, watching the boys hurl their little bodies at one another, my sister and I trying not to laugh as they seemed to reenact scenes from the show "Jackass" in my parents' living room.  Just another day in the life.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bribery, Banks, Bikini Diets & Beer

I feel like I pretty much just blinked and June is about over.  This week the oldest two kiddos are in Vacation Bible Camp in the mornings.  All has gone smoothly except the drop-offs for Jimmy.  He is my more sensitive guy who takes a bit longer to adjust to new places and faces.  The start of preschool last year was only difficult for the first day or two so I figured since he’d mastered that, that this would be a piece of cake.  WRONG!  Picture lots of kicking and screaming and tears on days one and two of this week.  That brings us to day three.  I had upped the ante from day 2’s reward which was a triple push pop and the big time bribery for today was getting ice cream and also a trip to the pet store to see the fish(side note: Jimmy pretty much dislikes all other animals). The 2 youngest and I walked Jimmy to his classroom for dropoff with me chanting over and over“Fish and ice cream! Let’s have a good drop off, Jimmy!” sounding like a lunatic.  I handed him off to one of the teenaged leaders as the main adult in charge was busy helping someone else.  Teenage leader sees Jimmy and yells to the adult leader who happens to be her mother: “Mom, Jimmy’s here!”.  Adult leader turns and says: “Oh Jimmy’s here!” and goes into Operation distract Jimmy mode and immediately turns her attention to him.  There were no tears today as I did my best to bolt from the building with Bart and Sawyer.  At pickup, the adult leader informed me that things went better today- hooray!  We hustled to get Josie from her group and headed to Petsmart.
I am a magnet for “helpful people” and as we swarmed the fish section, a clerk overheard me and just popped over to say that she guessed we were “just looking”, but could help if we needed anything which somehow translated into a lesson on several of the fish we like looking at and the proper size of tank.  And now Santa will most likely be bringing an aquarium to our house.  Yes, it’s June…After our thorough inspection and lessons in the fish section, we peeked at the hamsters and guinea pigs on our way to pick up a new collar for Moxie.  As I waited in line, the oldest three ran over to watch at the window of the dog grooming area.  Sawyer as usual was bouncing off walls and the clerk actually asked him to calm down because he said Sawyer “was making the dog nervous”. 
Onto Friendly’s we went to pick out tubs of ice cream- much easier in my mind than eating it there with the four kids by myself.   Ice cream for lunch- why not?  So I am continuing on with my bikini diet.  Last night, the kids and I made a double recipe of chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips in them which went so well with my coffee this morning for breakfast.  I really am adopting the motto that it is really all about the illusion.  For instance, yesterday, I decided to give off the impression that I work out by wearing my yoga/workout capris and a t-shirt.  Reality is that the last time I worked out other than herding children was when I hiked up a mountain for our annual fall family festivus when I was less than a month away from popping out baby #4.  I do think I will be purchasing more yoga pants- they are just so incredibly comfortable and stretchy which is a huge benefit for my current diet…
Apparently I am my own subject in a twisted Pavlovian experiment to train mothers never to take their children to the bank with them as proven by the fact that I have done this twice in the past week while attempting to get my business account in order for my art studio.  My bank goes above and beyond to cater to clients with children.  In addition to the customary lollipops, they also give kids a token to use in the enormous gumball machine which actually dispenses squinky-type figurines.  And if you get there early enough in the day, there are fresh-baked cookies in individual bags on a table near the lobby.  Clearly this should occupy my children for at least five to ten minutes.  But then Jimmy whined because he didn’t get a “boy squinky”.  Josie was fascinated by some sculpture on the wall.  Bart was repeatedly squealing his super high pitched happy baby scream.  Sawyer and Jimmy tried hanging from the elastic line dividers.  As soon as I diverted their attention with blue lollipops, Sawyer plunked one in his mouth and started using the lines as a runway and I had to grab him by the collar of his shirt…literally to the amusement of the young bank teller.  As I got in the car with them to head home, I genuinely felt a strong urge to come home and pop open a nice cold bottle of beer.  Not so sure how it would have looked to the electrician or our builder who are working on the barn/art studio/mancave.  But on second thought, they’ve both been around my children long enough to understand my plight.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Twirl Test

For me, a big part of writing this blog is so that I have a place to process everything that is going on in my family’s life, especially when I have weeks like the past couple where I can’t catch my breath, but for a brief moment.  This past Friday was Josie’s kindergarten graduation which in Catholic schools like hers is a big to-do.  I love that her school makes it so special and memorable for the wee ones of the school and it brought back a lot of good memories from elementary school for me.  But I definitely could have done without the parental stress that comes with the end of the school year.  It really comes down to the fact that all these minute tasks that I am sure many prepared people had thought out much sooner than I had, managed to coincide within a one week time frame.  All these tasks really focus on one common goal- celebrating the end of the school year.  Two tasks that weren’t on my list, but that added themselves on were getting new rear brakes for the Gray Goose and going to the doctor for a sinus infection. One big task that was on the list was outfitting Josie for her graduation mass/ceremony.  Two days before the big day, she and I went out to buy teacher gifts and find just the right dress.  The gifts came easily, the process of convincing my six and a half year old that she had found a perfect dress, not so much.  She settled on one by 9 something P.M. which should stand for Past Mental because that is how I felt when we walked in the front door from shopping.  I practically had to force Josie to officially try the dress and shoes on before her little exhausted self was allowed to go to bed.  It was very clear that this dress just wasn’t “it”.  And the quick shoe try on with Josie sitting in the cart was a huge mistake as they slid right off her heels when she walked in them in our hallway. So the next morning, as we drove Josie to school, I asked her what colors she might like for her graduation dress. 
Later on the boys and I headed to Marshall’s where apparently they have decided to “shrink” the carts to be more mod and hip which meant that there was barely room for the baby’s bucket seat and the other two boys had to walk.  Or in their case, run and dart in and out of racks and dodge other shoppers and wipe out on the shiny linoleum floors with their determined, but done mother muttering all sorts of things at them while trying to find a dress and pair of shoes for their sister’s special day.  As luck would have it, there were all sorts of cute dresses in Josie’s size that must have just been stocked and they were crazy low prices $8.99 and $9.99.  I grabbed six of them reasoning that surely she would like or hopefully love at least one of them and that I could either return the rest or convince my husband that since she is my only daughter, she should get to keep the dresses.  I also managed to find a dress for myself despite the boys’ attempts to get us escorted out of the store.  I guesstimated on the shoes which bit me in the butt later since Josie’s toes were stretching off the front of the sandals, but I was able to easily exchange for the correct size without all the kids along later that evening.
Once Josie hopped into the car at pickup, I brought out the bag of dresses for her to look through.  Her impish smile and the way her eyes lit up when she saw the dresses more than made up for my mommy misery at Marshall’s with the boys. When we arrived home, Josie put on quite the fashion show for me.  The best part of it all, the moment I will savor forever like a snapshot in my memory, was the way Josie looked in the hall mirror and did her little twirl test after putting each dress on.  And when she had decided on “the dress”, I can not even describe how happy I felt. 
Now in contrast to my six and a half year old’s twirl test, I had my own sort of dress test.  One that is common to most women- “does this dress make my butt look big??” as I tried to contort the upper half of my body around to see enough of my rear view to be completely assured that the dress kept my butt in check.  And Josie definitely did not ask anyone the next morning when she put her dress on if her panty lines were showing the way I asked A.J. about mine.  Based on how she was climbing the playground in Chik-fil-a with her brothers and cousins after graduation, Josie clearly doesn’t care who sees her panty lines…or her panties.  Note to self- that girl needs to wear shorts under her uniform next year!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hope for the Humor

This was a snippet of texts back and forth between a close friend and me this morning-
Me: I can’t wait til your little boy is four and a half and comes in the room and tells you such profound things as “Mommy, I just farted outside” or “Mommy, I’m going to fart on the baby’s head” Gotta love boys!
Friend: I’m sure this will come as no surprise, but that actually sounds great
Me: It actually is greatJ
Over the past few months, several friends have announced that they are expecting and one of my best friends had her second baby.  Other close friends are in the midst of the adoption process eagerly awaiting a sibling for their little boy(Side note: if you know anyone who is looking for the most amazing set of parents to adopt her baby, please let me know. Adoption is awesome!).  Last weekend when I was at the Child Life conference, not one, but two of my friends from my past life announced that they are expecting(one with her second child and one with her first baby).  Said friend who is expecting her first caught me so off-guard in my usual sleep deprived state as I was grabbing a coffee that it took me a little longer to notice the cute “I’m pregnant” sign in the photo she was showing me.  Upon noticing the sign and mind you this was the second announcement by a close friend in two days, I was so overcome by emotion(and yes, to all friends and family who know me, I know I am a big crier), I teared up.  There are so many obvious clich├ęd reasons to tear up in joy after a friend or family member announces that they are having a baby or adopting a baby.  But there are also so many teeny tiny, seemingly inconsequential, but incredibly joy-filled reasons that evoke the crybaby in me upon hearing such happy news. 
Above all, my favorites(and there are too many to count) of these reasons, involve the way that having a child in your life instantly cranks the humor notch up a billion times.  Kids are funny.  Whether it is something they do that brings about the laughter, your own reactions to them, or the sheer “I really couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried” aspect of it all, you will laugh so much once these creatures are in your life.  Those moments of laughter are what will get you by in the midst of times when poop is literally hitting the wall(trust me, it will) and you just want someone to give you some RESPECT(it comes slowly but painfully).  A big part of why I am writing this blog is so I can go back over my days and say “oh yeah, that day really sucked, but looking at it now, it was hilarious”.  That didn’t sound so convincing, but if I couldn’t look back and laugh, none of this would be worth it.  And it is worth it and then some.
The moments getting me by this week:
Realizing after several days of being on the receiving end of Josie’s latest retort “Seriously?” in the most snippy of tones, hand on her hip, eyes rolling, that I am the person who taught her that.  Apparently that is my word choice upon one of the kids making a “bad choice”.  Time to find some new vocabulary…
Jimmy’s dance moves that look like a combo of Martin Short’s character Ed Grimley and Elvis(lots of hip action)
Sawyer mimicking the Octonauts’(a Disney cartoon) marching routines
Baby Bart finding his “voice” and his squawks for attention over the roar of his siblings- this child is quickly following in the footsteps of his LOUD sister and brothers.
My hope for all friends and family with/having kids is that they are blessed to find that each day holds hundreds of humorous moments.  Some days you just need to use a really large magnifying glass to find them!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sweet Freedom & Bart's Visits to the County Courthouse

Last weekend, I attended the annual Child Life Council conference in Washington, D.C.  Based on how excited I was about seeing several girlfriends from my past “hospital life”, one would have thought I was heading off to some tropical island.  A.J. took part of the day off to watch the munchkins and his mom came that first day to assist with the Bart-man who still prefers a boob to a bottle.  I love my children with all my heart and then some, but was at a point of needing some “me” time even if I had to attend a conference to get it. 
The other exciting luxury of the weekend was getting to drive A.J.’s car the whole weekend.  I soaked in the clean crisp scent of the leather interior- a smell so foreign to me.  Anyone who has had the lucky chance to catch a ride in the Gray Goose can pretty much confirm that my car has the scent of wet dog, dried spit up, and stale cheese, and that is on a good day.  I also had to adjust my senses to just how easily the car accelerated unlike the Gray Goose that begins to shake when you reach about 60 miles an hour.  Winding up Rock Creek Parkway was a blast in A.J.’s car.  The teeny tiny spots in the hotel parking garage were not so fun especially since I actually cared about this car getting a ding.  My car- well too many dings to notice.
Loaded up on way too much caffeine, I made my grand entrance into the conference during the lunch break and the minute I laid eyes upon my gaggle of gals from my past life, I leaped through the air, kicking one leg out in front of me and headed in their direction.  In my head, the leap was as graceful as a gazelle.  In reality, I am pretty positive, I may have looked like I was trying to jump over a hurdle and at the same time having a full on seizure.  Add to this picture me screaming my head off and both arms flapping awkwardly to balance my large purse on one arm and the conference bag on the other arm.  I lost all modesty once I became a parent so my reward of hugging some of my most favorite ladies anywhere was worth the spectacle. 
The spectacle continued briefly as I had a moment of panic when I sat down in my first session next to one of my friends.  I thought I had lost my phone.  This was so not cool.  Four kiddos at home with my husband and his mom.  There is a past history of one of our children sustaining an E.R.-worthy injury when I was working and A.J. was watching the kids.  The place I happened to be working that day, the actual E.R. where said child came to be treated.  But that’s a story for another time…So I went on a search mission that led me back down to where the conference luncheon was.  The waitstaff captain offered to let me use his phone to call my cell phone.  Of course who answered my phone?  My friend who I had been sitting next to in the session, the session that had started five minutes before.  The phone was in my bag the entire time.  Even without my four little interrupters, I still create an interruption.  I did later apologize to the presenters of that session.  The weekend of the conference was overall great, but exhausting.  A.J. and I both gained a newfound respect for each other’s “jobs”. 
Now back into the grind of the end of the school year and trying to launch my art studio and camps and finishing up my Wednesday art classes.  I spent a nice chunk of time yesterday visiting the Loudoun County health department with the help of my three goonies.  Contrary to popular belief, none of them have any sort of plague.  We were there to get a special form because of our well.  And because nothing is ever simple in my life, this form required both A.J.’s and my signatures and had to be notarized, taken back to the clerk of court, a fee had to be paid, and that receipt had to be brought back to the health department.  With all three of my helpers along yesterday, I made it as far as getting the form.  In the brief half hour we were at the health department, Sawyer and Jimmy managed to rummage through every possible pamphlet on lyme disease they could find and scatter the rest around the room.  Jimmy is still quite excited to show his “tick book” off to anyone who gives him a moment of attention. 
Bart and I took a nice hike back out to the Loudoun County courthouse in Leesburg and the health department this afternoon.  We made not one, but two treks through the courthouse because I did not have any checks left in my checkbook and I was literally $7 short for the fee for having this form filed with the clerk of court.  A little jaunt through the courthouse may sound simple if one does not know about the extra steps- locking your cell phone in a locker before entering the metal detectors.  Emptying pockets and loading everything on the conveyor belt.  The polite deputies allowed me to push Bart through the metal detector in his stroller and did not require me to unharness him, thankfully.  But again, I really felt like a bit of a spectacle as I was doing my best to expedite this entire process and failing miserably.  I pretty much held back tears upon getting all the way up to the clerk’s office on the second floor and finding out that I had to go all the way down and outside the courthouse a block down to the ATM to cover this fee.  We took the elevator to go back downstairs, went one floor down too many and said hello to all the lawyers, defendants, and prosecutors outside the actual courtrooms.   I quickly grabbed my cell phone from the locker and assured all my new deputy friends that I would be back in a few.  Rushing with a stroller in downtown Leesburg is pretty much an oxymoron as the streets and many sidewalks are old brick. I did find an ATM.  Cash in hand, I sprinted back up to the courthouse to repeat the process we’d just been through.  Through the metal detectors once again and wand waved around me and Bart again.  Up to the clerk’s office, form recorded, fee paid.  Flew down and out of the courthouse to the government offices across the street to say hello to the ladies of the health department again and drop off my receipt.  Looking at the time, I realized I would barely make it to get Josie at school.  But the Gray Goose didn’t let me down, got there with a few minutes to spare which allowed me to feed my very hungry Bart.  Now breathing a sigh of relief and praying that getting the rest of my ducks in a row for this barn goes a bit more swimmingly than my day today.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Calls from Cleveland & Mommy's Moments of Mortification

(I wrote this one a few days ago, but never got around to finishing it completely til now)
Last week was one of those weeks when by Thursday, I finally felt like I had gotten into my groove and I could check off the week as a success.  I felt great.  I was keeping it together and accomplishing a lot.  Hooray!  I was conquering this mom thing and if I had an annual review, it would have been stellar.  Juggling a ton of stuff, but managing not to drop any balls.  The three amigos(Jimmy, Sawyer, & Bart) and I were finishing up our jaunt through Wally World(Walmart) and for once, they stayed fairly calm throughout the entire store.  My phone rang with some bizarre Cleveland number and I ignored it and turned the ringer down.  Twenty minutes later as we were in line and I was unloading items onto the conveyor belt, the same number was calling.  I actually answered it this time and heard a voice on the other line: “Hey, Cami.  It’s Julie.”  I paused for a long moment trying to figure out at first which Julie.  One of my best friends “Julie” lives in California and as far as I knew she was not on any trip.  Another of my “Julies” organizes the group of homeschool girls who I teach.  The mom of one of Josie’s best buds at school is another of my “Julies”.  Then this Julie continued: “I have Josie with me” and it dawned on me that this was yet another of my “Julies”- a friend from high school who happens to teach computer at Josie’s school.  Ding! Ding!  Then she continued to tell me that Josie did not actually have Daisies and she had been trying to get a hold of me that she would just keep Josie with her in her classroom until I could get there.  And the third DING!  TKO.  Losing mommy moment.  I felt mortified looking at the time and realizing it was already a half hour after school got out.  What felt like a ball pit worth of balls in the air all came falling down to hit me on the head.  I babbled a million apologies and thank yous and promised to hurry on my way.  Then Josie’s teacher called to make sure I had talked to Julie.  Again, profuse apologizing and thanking.  Then the painfully SLOW cashier took an eternity and a pack of light bulbs fell off the conveyor belt and shattered into thousands of pieces behind me on the floor.  It was a nice touch to add to the freak out I had going on inside my head.  I had already been debating if I should just leave all the stuff and go back later, but could not deal with any more stress and knew that my friend would understand that since I knew Josie was safe and with people she liked, I desperately needed to pay for these diapers and other non-exciting kiddie items.  It is pretty much a given for anyone in the D.C. metropolitan area that the moment you decide you need to get somewhere quick, there manages to be as much traffic and as many red lights as possible.  Thus a half hour later and an hour plus after school got out, I made it to pick Josie up.  I had thought about bringing a six pack bribe for said friend, but that most likely would have gotten broken by the goonies.  I actually ran up and hugged my friend before I hugged Josie- probably seemed funny, but Josie was fine and I was just so happy to have someone who gets my flaky moments and pitches in to help me.  I did scoop my Monkey up and give her a huge hug right after.   Mommy’s note to self- always answer calls from random numbers if any or all of the four children are not attached to me at the time!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Perfect Peace & Potato Chips

I am fast learning that having more than one child in school for the month of May means the crazy busy schedule goes up exponentially.  Add to that the stress of my husband’s work hours starting their climb as the summer approaches and me attempting to get my art studio and barn built from the ground up- ha ha!  It’s good to throw in puns now and then especially when I find I am taking myself way too seriously.  But back to my point, I look around and see most of our relatives and friends going through this very same May mania.  It is like everyone is moving at such a frenetic pace.  Carpool line conversations seem rushed on all accounts.  It’s like people can’t catch their breath.  I was thinking back to when I was a kid and wasn’t the one wearing these “parenting” shoes.  I remember how much I loved May.  It had that feeling of anticipation in the air.  And for a kid who loved swimming and swim team and the beach and the pool, there was so much to look forward to.  Obviously there is so much to look forward to in the summer as an adult as well, but between now and the last day of school, I feel like there will be many late nights.  But I am also trying to remind myself to calm down, it will all get done, and to take a breath every now and again because there are so many tiny moments that are so worthy of me taking a pause.
One of those really really rare moments happened Saturday morning.  I had fed the baby around 6:30 in the morning and could not fall back asleep.  Every other member of the family had no problem snoozing away and they were all packed like Saturday morning sardines in our bed.   With the exception of Moxie, who has discovered there are way less cramped spaces in which to sleep than with two adults and three kicking kiddos in a king sized bed.  I carefully tucked Bart in next to his siblings and kept checking in on him from the hall as I went out in the kitchen to make myself a ginormo(one of my new favorite words thanks to one of our awesome pediatricians- she used it to describe the size of Bart’s melon) cup of coffee.  I also snapped some sweet pictures of my monkeys in slumber.  All of them completely still.  A.J. caught me doing this and I honored his request of keeping him and his apnea mask out of all the pictures.  The sun was shining, the house was still quiet and it was going to be a great day. 
It is funny the things you tuck away in your memory.  I know that what I will remember from this Mother’s Day weekend are a few random things.  The highlight of my Saturday after my quiet cup of coffee to myself was going to Michaels all by myself.  Yes, I am truly an art geek whose favorite stores are any sort of arts and crafts store as well as Home Depot and Lowe’s.  I love the smells that make me all nostalgic and I love when I can escape to one of these places all by myself.  Perusing art supplies or home improvement supplies with one, two, three or all four children IS NOT RELAXING!! It is a race against the clock to make it out of the store before one of the goons impales him/herself on something or manages to create some sort of disaster, cleanup in aisle 5 situation.  So the luxury of A.J. keeping all four kids home so I could spend an hour buying some art supplies needed for Mother’s Day gifts for our moms and my classes was an awesome gift.  Now, my actual gifts from the kids and A.J. are memorable as well: a classy honey badger t-shirt(Sawyer’s nickname) and earrings and a necklace handpicked by Josie.  The jewelry gift is two-fold as anyone will tell you that when you wear the gift, the excitement of your child and her pride in seeing you wearing it, is priceless.  And despite the fact that sometimes I get cranky with so much going on, I am grateful for the gift of time together with both sides of the family- A.J.’s on Saturday night and mine on Sunday. I am lucky to have family who all get along and have fun together. 
So these special moments I keep tucked away and I know that I need to remind myself of these.  Especially when Sawyer is throwing an unopened bag of potato chips across the couch and jumping on it spread eagle over and over until it explodes all over the cushions.  Or when I feel like my main job is short order cook to my three oldest kids whose current diets consist of way too many fruit-by-the-foots and mac-n-cheese.  Or when Jimmy asks me to help him unfasten the button on his shorts so he can go potty.  Then he leaves the shorts on the floor and runs back outside in his t-shirt and boxer briefs and pees in the bush.  Because after all is said and done, I love these maniacs and am so happy to be their mother.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Signs Signs Everywhere Signs

This one's for you, LM!
Yes, I did like the song by Tesla back in the day.  But lately I feel like I am getting all sorts of little signs when I need them the most.  And this post will probably end up sounding a bit hokey, but it’s been one of those weeks where every day feels like I have a case of the Mondays and the weekend can’t come soon enough.  So I don’t have the energy to wrack my brains to write out all the hundreds of debacles my children have managed to get themselves into this week.  I can tell you that currently Jimmy is terrorizing Josie and our neighbor(who is also the same age) by punching their dolls with his boxing gloves.  I just went down to tell Jimmy to behave and play nicely if he wants to stay downstairs with the girls and his reply was “No, I want to play mean!”  Now Jimmy has come up to bother Bart and is telling the baby he is going to chop his head off while holding out a playdoh knife.  And now he is sawing my leg with a fake saw from his tool bench.  This should explain to any person who actually reads my blog why my thoughts seem so scattered sometimes.  There is always an interruption.  
So now over twelve hours later, I am back to writing this and back to my belief in signs.  I am sure you could argue that of course I will find signs in anything if I look hard enough.  But I find comfort in them and know so many people who would agree with me on that one.  Around the time in March when I went to the memorial service for a patient I had worked with several years ago, was when I started to feel this compulsion to get our barn built so I could start my art studio.  I can’t fully explain it other than that after going to that service and seeing so many people I had worked with years ago and who had touched my life, I felt like I was getting this message from God that now was the time to launch my art studio.  Of course, lots of people who don’t know me and also many who do know me would say: “Are you crazy, Cami??  You have four little kids!”  I have that thought about a hundred times a day.  I have come to this conclusion.  Yes, I must be crazy, but I am also very lucky.  I have so much support from my husband and both of our families.  And I am really lucky in that all of our friends and even friends I have just run into again after years, are willing to spread the word and help my business grow. 
The signs I have been getting seem to be showing up in two main ways: numbers and birds.  For the past few months, I kept looking at the clock and it would always happen to be a time like 11:11 or 12:12.  Now any of you who are as superstitious as me know that 11:11, make a wish.   If you google it, you of course find all sorts of New Agey websites and some kooky beliefs, but some that I found were just a bit more simple that it can be the “universe tapping you on the shoulder” or a “powerful confirmation you are on the right track” and one of my favorites that this is a “prompt” from angels to let us know they are here.  I haven’t really even shared this with anyone and I am sure I will sound crazy for putting it out there like this.
And now that you may agree that this post is for the birds…Ever since my Granny passed away ten years ago, my family and I joke that she pops up in the form of little birds here and there.  Granny loved birds, loved watching birds and feeding them.   She even had them as pets.  Her last pet bird “Goldie” still lives with my parents and has been known to peck at Sawyer who gets a kick out of screaming at the poor bird and poking his chubby fingers in Goldie’s cage.  My aunt Linda had given us a birdhouse a couple years ago that sat on top of our old kitchen cabinets.  I finally hung it outside last spring after we had redone our kitchen.  We put seed in it, but never attracted any birds.  A year ago, we were seriously considering moving and even met with a realtor to start the process.  I looked at the lack of birds coming to this birdhouse as yet another sign we should move.  Just in the past month, the cutest little sparrow(at least that’s what I think it might be) has built itself a cozy nest inside this birdhouse.  The past couple weeks when I have been driving Josie to school, I have actually seen an oriole hanging out on the guard rail of the exit we have to take off of the main highway to get to her school.  This is by no means a quiet place for a bird to perch as the highway is four lanes and divided and not far from the toll road and airport and there is always construction going on.  I have never seen an oriole in my life other than the baseball team.  This bird is for sure an oriole- black color with the orange markings.  I mentioned it to A.J. and he told me he has also seen this oriole in the same spot when taking Josie to school.
On Tuesday morning, I was just having one of those days.  I labeled it “Annoy the Crap(excuse my language) out of Cami Day” and told my sisters there was a contest to see who could win.  As I unloaded my two youngest boys out of the Gray Goose to head into the grocery store, I saw a sweet little old lady with her cane being led across the parking lot to the salon(or “beauty shop” as Granny called it) by her daughter who looked to be in her fifties.  This was such a regular routine for my mom and Granny.  Then after the fun of dealing with Sawyer leaping in and out of the car cart throughout our shopping trip, we got in line behind another cute old lady who was wearing a canvas jacket that had seagulls painted in a pattern all over it.  It was a bit amusing as each bird was about six inches large, but it was so “Granny”.   She loved to sit on the bench on the fishing pier at the beach and toss bread crumbs or whatever food she had saved in her pockets to the seagulls.   It gave me a moment to just stop and laugh and take a deep breath because all the stress of the week is minor.  And the stress of getting this barn built and getting the art studio is “good stress”, but only temporary.  I have a lot of “angels” both in heaven and on earth supporting me on the way.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Gophers & Candy Canes

This one’s for H.G.;)
(Disclaimer: No Baby Barts were harmed in the making of this blog)
It has been the kind of week where I feel like there has been a full moon gazing over me the whole time chuckling. Not necessarily bad, just crazy. This would explain why there are currently six two foot tall candy cane decorations and a singing gopher(think "Caddyshack") in our living room and earlier there was a horse on our dining room table. Not a real horse of course, but an American Girl sized Target brand knock off horse of Josie's that Sawyer likes to ride around on occasion.  I had put it on the table so that I'd stop tripping over it. Jimmy figured out how to unwind the sparkly red rope from around one of the candy canes and entertained himself for a good hour this morning by fishing with it off the couch. This week I also added some new phrases into my mom dictionary: "Sawyer, stop sticking that to the wall and eat it!”  The "that" and "it" to which I was referring - a slice of cheese from dinner.  Then there was: "Sawyer, quit sharing your frozen yogurt with the dog!" though for all intense purposes, he was at least sharing and that right there is progress. As usual, it should come as no surprise that most of these random statements are directed at Sawyer. 
After a day with the boys that was both productive in ways and totally painfully unproductive(laundry-I’m over it already) in other ways, we headed to pick Josie up at school.  Now that the weather is shaping up, I take the boys out of the car, therefore unstrap all three of them from their carseats and boosters to walk across the lines of cars to get Josie from her class’s line(this is required for all the younger grades).  While this is a real pain in the neck logistically, the boys consider it quite a treat.  A friend whose car was next to ours helped me out by carrying Bart for me.  We chitchatted and said hi to other parents as we both waited for the kindergarteners.  I wrangled Sawyer and Jimmy off the bumper of a complete stranger’s car which they had become enamored of.  Finally Josie’s class came out- last as usual and she was one of the last kiddos in the line.  Teachers who were clearly working for the weekend began to hustle students and parents to get into their cars so the lines could start filing out.  I hurried my oldest three along zigzagging through the parking lot as we were in one of the furthest lines of minivans.  Almost to the car, I realized I had just left Bart in my friend’s arms as she was getting her son.  I turned around and couldn’t see her anywhere.  Then looked to her car and she wasn’t back at it yet.  I practically threw my older three inside our van as a teacher asked me if I needed help because clearly this looked like a disaster and just as I started to say that I needed to get my baby from my friend, this teacher said: “Oh, there’s another one!” and laughed as I scooped Bart out of my friend’s arms.  Now I understand why women in other cultures just strap their babies to them in those baby wraps…What a way to end the week!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Used to Be a Morning Person then I Fell Back to Sleep

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am definitely not a morning person.  I try my best to fake it because we are now at the point where my kids are in school and need to get there relatively on time.  The evolution of my sleep life is something like this.  I was, way back when, at one time, a morning person.  I remember being the first one up after my dad and playing with toys with my younger brother in the family room until my mom and sisters would wake up on Saturday mornings.  That pretty much ended once I hit junior high and found that it was quite refreshing to sleep in on weekends.  In high school, weekend mornings were a great time to catch up on sleep and I attempted to break all sorts of records by sleeping into the afternoon.    In college, I learned that when you’re young you can pull all sorts of crazy hours, can get by on a couple hours of sleep some nights as long as you have a break between classes and can take a nap.  You can thoroughly enjoy all the social aspects of college because you can “catch up” on your sleep on the weekend.  And for my early and mid-twenties, my friends and I pretty much had a great routine perfected where somehow we still drank from the fountain of youth and could go out Wednesday through Saturday nights and were still functioning Thursdays and Fridays during the day at work.  We would also manage to go out Friday night, crash at a friend’s apartment in Arlington, get a couple hazy hours of sleep, roll out of bed or off our friend’s couch or just plain old roll off the blankets that were on the floor and go play in one of our social league soccer games.  We’d grab some sort of super “healthy” brunch or lunch food afterwards, go back to our friend’s apartment and lounge all day, going in and out of naptimes, then get ready to go out again Saturday night.
Now move ahead in time about ten years and you have me in a constant state of sleep deprivation.  While most nights and weeks are not so bad on the sleep-o-meter, every once in a while there will be a week that leaves me in my zany, manic,  I-feel-like-I’m- talking-too- fast, I-need- more-coffee, but-that-will-only- make-the-situation-worse state.  And don’t get me wrong.  I have four, make that five(gotta count my first baby Moxie), wonderful reasons for not getting sleep.  If I didn’t, I would have definitely gone way more bonkers by now. 
A sure-fire way for any bystander to measure just how little sleep I have had the night or week before is to have a conversation with me.  The more nonsensical the conversation, the less sleep I have gotten.  Friday morning was a perfect example of this.  The boys and I were heading to a coffee date with some of the other moms and siblings from Josie’s class.  I called my sister Nikki as we were heading out of our neighborhood.  As we were driving, I passed Jimmy’s preschool director and waved and told Jimmy to wave also.  Nikki said to me: “I thought you were meeting people from Josie’s class.”  My response: “We are, but Jimmy’s preschool is in our driveway so his preschool director was on her way.”  As soon as the sentence came out of my mouth, Nikki and I both burst out laughing.  His preschool is close to our house(2 blocks away), but not actually in our “driveway”.  Another time, about a year or so ago, the kids and I were over at my parents’ house.  I was talking to my mom and sisters in the kitchen and in the middle of the conversation actually said: “Wait a minute!  Who said that? Me?”  I can’t even remember the exact conversation and my sister-in-law may have also been there to witness this insanity, but I can’t remember details either.  These moments humble me and give me a good laugh that lasts long after the annoyance of having to get up in the middle of the night with any or all of my kids.
My techniques to combat lack of sleep or rather having a negative attitude towards it used to be much more reward based and thus not so good for my budget: treating myself to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts coffee on the way to work.  It was an instant gratification method to put me in a positive state before starting my work day.  I also used to hate hate hate having to talk to anyone in the morning before I had about an hour of peace to shower, have a cup of coffee and listen to some radio in the car on the way to work.  Once the kids came that changed because obviously you have to “talk” to people when attempting to get these little creatures moving and ready in the morning.  So starting back when Josie was maybe a little over two and we had her in a Little Kickers class(a mommy/daddy and me soccer program), I started a different technique to get myself and my people motivated and moving in the mornings.  I began singing annoying little diddies that I would make up related to whatever we needed to get to.  Thus “It’s Soccer Saturday in the (insert last name here- keeping this private since blogs are public) House!” rang out and was repeated every Saturday we had soccer.   Since then we have substituted other words for “soccer” like “cleaning”, not quite as fun. I also like to force other horrible renditions of childhood camp or church songs or nursery rhymes upon my family members’ ears(think “This Little Light of Mine”, “Rise and Shine”  “Moxie- do your ears hang low?”).   I used to be able to get Josie and A.J. to sing along, but now they just tune me out.  I even have a greeting that I yell to our neighborhood as I am opening all the curtains in the living room and kitchen and letting Moxie out in the morning.  “Good morning, (insert our neighborhood’s name here- again keeping it private!)!!”- this is said in the same tone of voice and manner that Robin Williams said: “Good Morning, Vietnam!!!” where he held the last syllable extra long and loud. 
These techniques are truly annoying to my little ones and husband I know.  And I swear I have even seen Moxie bury her head under a pillow from time to time.  But for whatever reason, they help me to fake it til I make it which really means Mommy seems like she is in a really great happy mood until the coffee does its trick.  And while I would be mortified if anyone outside of my little family actually witnessed me exercising these techniques, in the confines of my own home, there is no shame.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Holding Cell

A long day and I am putting off my “homework” which is to prepare a paper mache sample for tomorrow’s art class.  After another very sleepless night for over half of the family, I accepted my day’s fate and resigned to take Jimmy to the pediatrician for what was likely another ear infection.  I seriously am starting to think I have some sort of jinx on me that every time A.J. goes out of town on a business trip, one or more of the kids gets sick.  Taking Jimmy also means taking Sawyer and Bart along for the ride.  We made it to the pediatrician’s office still in the window of time for clinic hours.  The assistant at the front desk took pity on me and my plight to not acquire any extra germs in the process of attempting to achieve a healthier status quo for this family.  She said it would be alright if we waited in the teen waiting room instead of the sick room.  Jimmy had not had any fever otherwise I wouldn’t have pleaded my case to be in one of the “well” rooms.  The teen waiting room is about half the size of the other two waiting rooms and has pretty much a direct view through the window in the door across to the nurses’ station.  There is also a carpeted bench that runs along the edges of three sides of the room. Thankfully we were the only ones in this eight by eight holding cell.  We did our usual routine where the boys stayed mild mannered and behaved for all of thirty seconds while I glanced at something on my iPhone and then all hell broke loose.  The boys literally climbed the walls- well benches really and I tried to keep my voice fairly low as I reprimanded them about a thousand times.  They got louder and louder. Sawyer was dancing around in his drunk little frat boy style in his cargo pants.  Jimmy started singing right in Bart’s face.  I tried to stay calm and resist all urges to yank the boys and shake them quiet knowing the nurses would see me and then I would have ended up in a real holding cell. My voice got louder and louder and then by God’s grace some baby getting a shot or strongly disliking his exam began to wail and it canceled out all the chaos of my boys. 
Then Jimmy told me he had to poop.  I lugged Bart in his stroller and Sawyer out into the main hallway to right outside one of the world’s smallest bathrooms.  Due to its tiny size, there was no way we could all fit inside so I left the door cracked for Jimmy to let me know when he was done and I waited against the door in the hall with the other two.  Sawyer was by now pulling a full on WWF performance and hurling his body against the wall at the giant flowers painted on it.  As I am herding him back near me, one of the doctors came walking by to get a chart from the front desk and asked me if I needed any help going so far as to add “I have another five minutes before my first patient arrives.  I can watch the baby for you.”  Clearly we looked like that much of a disaster waiting to happen and thus a liability for him.  In my not enough sleep and definitely not enough coffee mind, it took me about five minutes to figure out how to explain to the doctor politely that I was waiting to wipe my son’s butt.  But thanks for the offer.
One quick exam later with one of the other doctors and we were headed to the pharmacy to get Jimmy’s medicine.  Someone in the marketing department for Safeway sure knows about strategic placement of items in the store.  You have to walk right through the wine and beer section to get to the pharmacy.  I held myself back, but it took a lot of restraint.  In the parking lot, I saw possibly one of the funniest things I have ever seen in terms of bad drivers.  Someone even more eager to get out of there than me gunned their engine not realizing that they were in drive instead of reverse.  She managed to park the front half of her camry over the cement median.  She got out, looked around to see that yes someone did notice that did just happen.  She didn’t make eye contact as she checked her car out.  I was speechless, not knowing if I should ask if she was okay which would surely have embarrassed her more or to just stay quiet.  I stayed quiet, but could not help but watch as she got in her car and gunned it in reverse to get the front half back over the cement median with a large crash.  She hopped out and checked for any damage that was visible, saw that there was none and then sped off.  I did see her engine drop out a block away.  Just kidding.  But I am pretty sure her car was messed up underneath.
Due to our surprise trip to the doctor’s office, I had to cancel a meeting with a contractor about our barn.  Another contractor who we had a call into, got back to me after we were home from the morning’s adventure and ended up coming by to give me a quote.  I had high hopes that this meeting would not go so badly. Sawyer was taking a nap.  Bart had been fed and I managed to get Moxie out in the back yard.  For most of the time, it was calm.  Then after we had gone out back to see the location we are hoping to put the barn shed on, Moxie followed us back in.  And firmly planted her beaky snout in the man’s crotch and refused to move.  Bart reached his point of needing to be held because how dare I put him down for ten minutes.  So I was bouncing him on my lap and trying my best to negotiate prices.  I walked the contractor out front and Jimmy followed.  We chatted about some more ideas and aspects of the pricing.  Jimmy sort of flitted back and forth.  Then I heard the front door open and shut and he came walking towards us and his jeans were undone.  I asked if he had gone potty thinking he had just come from our bathroom.  Jimmy proudly yelled that he had just peed in our bushes with a huge grin on his face.  I muttered an apology to the guy who was cracking up as I swore to him that we weren’t a bunch of rednecks.  Though in reality we are building a barn and my son just peed in our front yard. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Barn Shopping, Random Drives, & Dinosaur Land

So now that A.J. and I have decided we are going to have a multi-purpose mini barn built, we dedicated Saturday to driving out to one of the barn/shed sales places.  The closest one that was open on Saturday was an hour and half away.  Since we had already made this our main plan for the day, I wasn’t worried too much about time or anything until about 11:30 when we were still not out the door and A.J. told me that the place closed at 2:00P.M. on Saturdays.  When I had looked at the website I just quickly gleaned the hours 8-5, but that was Monday thru Friday.  As is typical in my life, I am never fully prepared and the Gray Goose was pretty much on empty.  Add to that, our hungry kids who we had promised drive-through goodness on the way.  To kill two birds with one stone, A.J. grabbed an assortment of chips and drinks when we stopped to get gas.  While we were at the gas station, I called the barn guy who informed me that even if the shop was closed, all of their barns and sheds were open  so that we could at least walk through them.
It was go time and A.J. and I debated the best route of the 3 suggested routes on my iPhone because everyone who lives in Northern Virginia knows that certain roads like 66 tend to be hell on Saturdays.  We went with option 3 of the routes.  Over the course of our life together, A.J. and I have always had a habit of taking random Saturday drives.  We did this a lot more when we were house hunting when Josie was the only kiddo around.  And we don’t take them too often anymore because really there is nothing too relaxing about driving around aimlessly with four kids who are strapped into their seats fighting to get free.  Spring is definitely a great time to take drives out towards the mountains in Virginia.  The weather, at least in the earlier part of the day yesterday, was beautiful.   We drove through a couple very quaint little towns and just as I commented to A.J. what a pretty state Virginia is, we both caught sight of a dilapidated trailor with a crumbled down house next to it.  Oh well…Somehow we overshot one of the roads- navigation systems are great if you know how to use them and if you don’t get sidetracked.  I personally blame it on Dinosaur Land which caused quite a stir in our car when the kids spied it in all its kitschy glory when we were stopped at a red light.
By some miracle, despite one bathroom stop and our detour a bit further west than necessary, we made it to the barn/shed shop with five minutes to spare before the owner was heading out.  This place was like heaven for my three older kids who had been cooped up in the car for over two hours at this point- picture a parking lot with a tiny shed(the main office) in the center surrounded in a crescent formation by about twenty or so other sheds and mini barns that were all unlocked and open for you to roam into and out of.  The gentleman who ran the place was so kind and stayed for almost an extra hour to humor this crazy couple and our four kids.  The kids’ excitement was contagious and as we looked around and explored these sheds and barns, I got even more and more excited that hopefully one of these big bad barns will be ours soon.  Climbing the stairs in the largest model(the one we are hoping to get), brought me back to many childhood memories in my grandpa’s barn in Connecticut.  His barn was much older than this obviously, but I remember climbing up to its second floor to explore with my dad and sisters and brother.  Not even sure my grandpa knew we were up there.  Anyways, the kooky artist in me really believes this barn has good karma and I can’t wait to get ours built!  It is funny because A.J. and I have been researching all different types of shed/sunroom options and while there are definitely more stylish ones out there, we keep coming back to a barn.
While I had this poor salesman cornered to answer all of my million and one questions, A.J. escaped to the port-o-let leaving me and kind salesman with my four goonies.  Oldest three decided to play with the large chunks of gravel.  Not a problem until Josie, my girl with a major league pitcher’s arm and a blind man’s aim, decided to beam a piece of gravel directly at the salesman who had one of the quickest reaction times I have ever seen and ducked as the gravel bounced hard off the shed directly behind us.  He later told me he used to be a state trooper in Maryland.  We made it through the remainder of the barn shopping experience without causing or sustaining any injuries. 
After stuffing down some fast food a town over, we made our way to the afternoon’s reward for good behavior: Dinosaur Land.  This place looks straight out of the fifties or sixties and was essentially a very large gift shop with an entrance to a large yard with about thirty or so enormous dinosaur replicas placed throughout.  Sadly, as soon as we got there, it started pouring rain.  We appeased the kids with toys from the gift shop and old-fashioned candy.  The older couple who ran the place were so friendly and patient with my munchkins.  I look forward to venturing back there for a full on dino exploration with the kids. 
I will end this post on a cheesy note because cheese is good and everyone can use some.  I will forever cherish the memories of this day with my husband and kids.  It had so many unexpected moments of fun and humor like passing a place called Gooney Creek Campground- we must go back.  Days like this one can’t be planned and they also can’t ever be forgotten.  They are the best kind of days.  Random drives together as a family.