Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Small Potatoes

My morning was full of poop.  I mean that both literally and figuratively.  About ten minutes after the two youngest boys and I got home from dropping Jimmy off, A.J. called to tell me that his grandmother had died.  It was not a shock as she had been put on hospice a couple weeks ago and the woman had just turned 106- amazing!  I am so grateful we were able to be with her for her birthday.  After I talked to A.J., I did what I always do when something happens whether it is sad or joyous, I called my mom and sisters. No one was answering, but I finally got through to my sister Nikki.  At the same time as I was crying and telling my sister about A.J.’s grandmother, Bart decided to take a huge poop which he had been saving up for two days- winning!  Nikki asked me if I wanted her to do anything and knowing I needed some cheering up she offered to call my cell phone and leave me a voicemail that Grandma had died.  While this may sound weird and twisted, it cracked me up and in order for you to understand why I need to explain as best as one can explain the offbeat sense of humor that my family has.
The end of March marks the tenth anniversary of when our grandma on my mom’s side died.   I was living at my parents’ when it happened and had the sad task of helping to call everyone to let them know that grandma died.  My father(Bobo to the grandkids), for those of you who don’t know him, is a big, loud guy who has been described as a bull in a china shop.  He does not always have the most tact and can have a bit of a potty mouth.  He has helped many of the grandchildren to expand their vocabularies- not usually intentionally…  Anyways, Bobo was the one who offered to call my sister Nikki to tell her about my grandma.  Nikki and her husband were out at the time, but when they got home they had this message on their answering machine: “Nikki, are you there? It’s your father! Pick up the phone! Nikki, your grandmother has died.  Nikki, damnit!” click.  It provided many laughs ten years ago during a very sad time for our family and to this day brings us into hysterics.  Later in the morning, my sister Yvette jokingly sent me a text addressed to my full name in much the same style my father would use if he even knew how to text: “Catherine, A.J.’s grandmother has died.” 
So after my initial phone calls to my family, I walked into the living room to make sure Sawyer was not busy leaving a path of destruction behind him.  As I was doing this, some very strange show came on Disney with a bunch of animated potatoes who were singing “small potatoes small potatoes” and then they went on to sing something about being one big family.  It is funny because after a long day like today that is what sticks in my mind, potatoes singing about family and being small potatoes.  And when it comes down to it, all these minor annoyances in my day like Sawyer spitting a mouthful of water and drool on our couch and using his freshly buzzed head to clean it up, are really small potatoes.  Later when I walked out to the living room from folding the same pile of laundry for the third time thanks to the boys, I found Jimmy sprawled out on the floor in only a t-shirt and his underoos laying on top of an enormous stuffed bear and stuffed penguin watching t.v.   Again- small potatoes. Trying to have a sane conversation with A.J. this evening while Josie swings from his shoulders like a monkey and Sawyer repeatedly slams my leg between the kitchen cabinet door and I try to make a dent in the dishes.  Small potatoes.   
All these small potatoes moments help me appreciate the sweet moments even more.  Like this afternoon while I tried to fold laundry and Josie was talking to me about her favorite Taylor Swift songs and talked about “Purple Daughter”.  After ten minutes of racking my brains I figured out which song she meant and that it has a line that says “careful daughter”.  Jimmy now enjoys entertaining Bart with his karate moves, but often comes a bit too close to the baby for my comfort level.  Sawyer still has the cutest toddler pudge when he hugs me tight.  Unlike Jimmy who told me the other day that “Valentine’s Day is over. No more hugs and kisses!”, Sawyer freely gives me a huge hug and drooly kiss on the cheek when asked.  For much of my day, I kept reminding myself of this quote on a magnet that my mom gave me a few years ago: “The best things in life are not things.”  So grateful for all the “non-things” in my life!  The rest is really just small potatoes.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend Glimpses of our Past, Present, & Future

Past:  Bart and I met up for brunch with four of my close friends from when I worked as a Child Life Specialist in the hospital.  It was awesome to see them and is a luxury that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but when we do get together it is as if no time has passed.  The girls joke because any get together with me can be much like a rapid-fire interrogation to find out all about their dating/newlywed lives or what is going on in our old department at work.  I love that they don’t mind this style of catch up because the way my life is right now, I need things to be to the point so as to maximize our time together.  I miss working with them, but am so grateful for their friendships.  These women have been there with me to experience some of the most intense moments of my life when patients we were close with received bad or good news, some got better or some passed away.  These women get it- they get what matters in life(family, friends, and our relationships with them) and have experienced it in a rare, beautifully heartbreaking way like me that not everyone gets the chance to do.   But our get-togethers usually don’t focus on such serious matters.  They do often involve me racking my mommy brain to figure out what eligible bachelors A.J. and I know who would be “just perfect” for the single gals of the group.  Someday one of these matches will work out!  Until then, thank you to all of you ladies and gents who continue to humor me and my setups.  After all, A.J. and I met in a very match maker style, but that is a story for another day.
Present: Scrubbing down the tiny pencil doodles that Sawyer so artistically rendered all over our white kitchen cabinets, stainless steel fridge and white recycling bin prior to pizza and watching “Bambi” on Friday night.  Sawyer screaming “Mommy!!” and practically breaking down the bathroom door yesterday morning while I tried to get ready for brunch with the ladies.  I came out to find him with a loaf of bread wanting a piece of toast.  And there was A.J. on the couch holding Bart watching ESPN.  Josie making silly movies of their playdoh sessions at the kitchen counter on her iPod.  The three oldest kids and A.J. playing in the yard, collecting sticks to burn, and having a fire in the fire pit on a cold late Saturday afternoon.  Josie crafting king crowns for the boys on a Sunday morning which led to the two middle boys drawing on themselves and the bunk beds(I just found out!).
Future: A.J. and I took all four of the kids yesterday to my nephew George’s basketball game.  The game was hilariously entertaining as most second graders are still learning the rules of the game.  The ref gave a running commentary of the boys’ antics including “watch out for the baby, boys!” since we were all sitting on mats around the very small elementary school gym and Bart was dangerously close to the court and the spot where the boys were bringing in the ball.  I don’t know how my sister and her husband juggle their three oldest kids’ weekend sports, but I know I will be learning soon enough.  I look forward to it!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Different Kind of Job Interview

When A.J. and I bought our house, the market was still up and we had all sorts of ideas in mind and figured by this point, four years later we would have a big chunk of equity in the house and would have added on to create our dream home.  Instead we now have three more kids(I was pregnant with Jimmy when we moved here) and due to the mass quantity of stuff that comes with children, a lot less space.  But aside from this dream home, I had visions of the art studio of my dreams built in our back yard or built above our dream home’s garage.  Our neighborhood is an older neighborhood that is zoned in such a way that you can have a business out of your house.  So my grand plans for my “someday studio” are basically a large light-filled room with lots of windows, cozy worn wood floors, tons of funky cabinets and shelves to hold supplies, a vast amount of artist supplies, a sturdy table to work at with chairs and stools as well as some drafting tables and easels, and a large utility sink.  The style that I always envision offering classes here would be a sort of open studio fashion where people could come in and work on whatever their whim was that day.  And overall I want this studio to be somewhat special and different in that I want to combine my passion for art with my love for working with people and children who have or are affected by medical illnesses.  Not strict art therapy per say, but just to provide people with a place to escape using art.  I even have a name in mind for this studio, but that is something I am keeping to myself for now.  Of course the luxury of having this studio on our property would be that I could also use it for my own artwork.  Someday…
                For the time being my great plans are on hold or just in a very early- on, semi-related phase to the ultimate goal.  I have been teaching art classes to different groups- some to homeschooled children and also an afterschool program at an elementary school.  I also had been doing fill in work as a Child Life Specialist which I just recently temporarily retired from.  I thought I was scaling back on work over the past few months since Bart’s arrival and was down to teaching only one class a week.  Well now through word of mouth recommendations, I am starting to teach a second class and am now going to teach a couple mini art camps during spring break and over the summer out of my house.  The camps had been a thought rolling around in my head, but literally came into being just this morning.
                A woman looking for an art class for her daughter was referred to me by one of the moms of a girl I currently teach.  We emailed back and forth and discussed the possibilities of either private lessons or classes at my house.  So we set up a time to meet this morning.  Not a big deal except for the typical stumbling blocks that like to jump in my way.  I decided to forego my mass cleaning yesterday afternoon in exchange for a trip to the playground with all 4 kids and some of Josie’s friends and their parents and siblings.  I decided I could always clean some last night and then in the morning.  Smart decision based on this gorgeous weather we are having.  Complete fail when A.J. got home from work and told me that he had an early meeting downtown and I would have to take Josie to school.  There goes an hour of cleaning.  I am working on my Lenten resolutions of being on time and also having patience with my children.  Well the on time part worked out- Josie got to school with plenty of time to spare.  However, I was freaking out running around like a maniac with the boys once we got home for the hour and half before this woman and her younger daughter were coming to meet me.  As usual stupid thoughts popped into my head while I was rushing to give the main floor of the house a once over cleaning.  I discovered the toilet seat is falling apart- literally seems like the lid is only staying connected to the seat by one bolt.  Not enough time to go buy one, please do not have to use my bathroom, lady!  Cleaning the kitchen, look at the dog dishes that are both sparkling clean and empty.  Our dog was still at my parents’ place from when we went away last weekend until I picked her up tonight.  Will this woman think I am starving my dog?  Manage to get the main areas looking decent with five minutes to spare.  Look at the counter in the kitchen and realize that Sawyer has left a nice sticky film over it from his yogurt and whatever else he consumed.  Simultaneously realize that I can not remember the name of this woman’s daughter, the one I am supposed to be teaching.  I have never been the best with names, but since having kids of my own, it has gotten even worse.  Quick decision to make- clean counter or go look up kid’s name on my emails.  Thank goodness she was running a couple minutes late and I accomplished both tasks. 
The Interview: Woman arrives with her younger daughter(younger sister of the girl I will be teaching).  The woman is very nice and understanding of the fact that while we meet, I end up having to breastfeed Bart, prevent Sawyer from leaping off one of the barstools and inflicting an injury upon himself, reprimand Jimmy who is making scary faces and animal noises at her two year old daughter, and all the while try to sell myself as an awesome art teacher not just a harried mom.  College just doesn’t prepare you for these situations!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Things they don't teach you about in any first-aid and CPR class

Many expectant couples decide to prepare for their upcoming additions by taking infant and child first aid and CPR classes.  I whole-heartedly agree with this being a necessity.  I was lucky in that I had to maintain my first-aid and CPR certifications for my job at the times I had my kids and my employer provided the classes.  A.J. got the Clif notes version from me.  But no amount of training you do on any plastic “Annie” dolls can prepare you for the real life scenarios that your children will provide to you.  Let’s look back on this evening’s brief scare brought to you by Jimmy in my living room.  I was rushing to make a not so gourmet meal of meat sauce with ground turkey over pasta.  Bart was snuggled asleep in his bouncy seat.  Josie was daydreaming about growing up to be Taylor Swift while watching videos of her online.  Sawyer was down for a late nap.  Then there’s my Jimmy- clowning around on the couch, playing around with the ginormous heart-shaped, “Everlasting Love”- playing helium balloon that A.J. gave me on Valentine’s Day.  All seemed well until I turned to look at Jimmy across the kitchen/dining/living room and saw him starting to panic as he tried unsuccessfully to unwind the balloon’s ribbon from around his neck and was actually tightening it.  I frantically run across the room and manage to get it undone from his neck.  Once this crisis was averted all I could think about was how Jimmy will probably have a very well-defined red line around his neck and that people will see this and think that I have tried to choke him.  Yes, people, these are the thoughts that run through my mind.  I am sure many other parents will agree with me that aside from the hassle of having to take a child to the emergency room when he/she has inflicted some sort of injury upon him/herself, there is always that parental fear in the back of your mind that CPS will come hunting you down for being a horrendous parent and not properly supervising your child.  And there is also this tiny thought way in the back of your mind that this scenario may just be the ticket you need to take a much-needed vacation from your kids…
I really think that parenting is much like being on “Survivor” except that the goal is trying to keep your children alive.  My kids can create hazards out of even the most mundane objects.  No amount of child-proofing can keep your kids from the greatest hazard- their own little imaginations.  Pillows become missiles.  Bouncy seats become catapults(thank you, Sawyer).  Even something as random as a gum wrapper can become a hazard.  My oldest sister told me that she almost had to pull her car over on the highway yesterday when my three and a half year old nephew had decided to stick a wadded up gum wrapper up his nose and it got stuck.  To all my friends who are expecting or planning to become parents in the near future, save yourself some money, skip the parenting classes and just come spend a weekend with my children.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Traveling with children is like eating an oreo cookie- the middle is the best part

This weekend we took our annual winter trip with my side of the family to Deep Creek Lake in the northwestern part of Maryland.  The first time I ever went there was to the ski resort with my oldest sister when I was 11 and it was my first time skiing.  Years later, I went camping in the summer at the Lake with my best friends, my oldest sister, her husband, and their friends when I was in college.  A.J. and I have been going to Deep Creek at least once every winter since we were engaged.  I even “taught” A.J. to ski there though he will tell you it also happened to be the same time I tried to kill him.  And he might try to tell some crazy story about me getting off the ski lift at the midway point up the mountain which he wasn’t prepared for and yelling for him to “just jump” and him leaping in skis from the lift about 10 or 15 feet up in the air, falling in a splat on the ground and the lift having to be stopped.  He might further embellish this tale by telling you that I had mistakenly taken him on one of the intermediate slopes instead of the beginner slopes.  I guess it is a bit different learning to ski at age eleven and learning to ski in your late twenties- my bad!
So now that we go there with my family and there are so many young kiddos(14 to be exact), we don’t usually ski.  Some of the group goes tubing and depending on snowfall, we might go sledding or walking out on the lake if it is frozen.  But really the weekend is about a whole lot of family bonding.  The weekends with my family started out as a Christmas present from my dad to my mom four years and five grandchildren ago.  Now there are 24 of us gathered in one house.
 Each year we have rented a different house.  This year’s house had a new treat- an indoor pool which thankfully came with an alarm that would go off if any of the kids had decided to sneak in without an adult.  Luckily this didn’t happen.  It was bad enough that Sawyer could not contain himself any time he was on the pool deck, he would just toddle on over and leap spread eagle into the pool.  Thank God for swim vests as well as my years spent lifeguarding at a wave pool.  All that was really missing was my whistle which would have come in useful for telling my father to stop trying to drown my nephew George by hurling him through the air into the deep end.  Or to stop Josie from running around the pool deck and wiping out as she rounded the corner, giving herself a very painful raspberry right next to her bottom- ouch!  For what it’s worth I had yelled at her to stop running, pretty much five seconds before she hit the concrete.  The injury led to Josie having an all-out meltdown for about an hour and refusing to wear any pants other than her underwear for the next twenty-four hours.  Once the wound was on the mend and covered in bandages, she agreed to put some sweats on though not without thrashing her body around as if she were possessed.  My father told me I should enroll her in acting classes.  I told him that Josie will be moving in with him and my mom for her high school years.  
Despite the lack of snowfall, we did manage to spend a lot of time outdoors, especially on Sunday.  The kids were content with whatever snowpiles they could find.  We had a fire in the outdoor firepit and roasted marshmallows and had s’mores.  In a stroke of genius, we decided to do this while it was still light out in the afternoon.  Maybe it doesn’t sound quite as picturesque as if it were night time, but trying to keep 12 children with sticks and fiery marshmallows contained is much easier in daylight especially when they decide it is time for a duel. 
The weekend was great.  I got some much needed down time to hang out with my fam and the Gray Goose survived another voyage to the mountains.  We have finally gotten the Goose at max capacity. If we take a longer trip than three days, we may need to invest in one of those bubbles that goes on the roof of the car.  Traveling with children is like eating an oreo cookie- the middle is the best part. By middle I mean the part from when you have actually arrived at your destination and unloaded your car of all its contents and all its passengers until the moment when you have managed to slam all the doors and trunk shut before heading home in such a manner that your car should have a label saying “do not shake: contents under pressure”.  One false move and the car might just explode.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

In Praise of Things Undone

I have decided to stop beating myself up today for everything that did not get done and give myself a pat on the back for not getting it done.  I also plan to cross off all those same things from my list with a nice new Sharpie.  You know why?   Because it feels great to draw a line through things you don’t really want to be doing anyways.  And I love Sharpies, something so powerful and permanent(ha ha!) about them.  I also have come to the realization that my productivity in terms of reproducing children has come back to bite me in the butt.  Somehow the more people I have living in this house, the less productive I am(at least by certain standards).  Much of my day is spent doing things which one of the four minions quickly undo and therefore I must redo.  It is a vicious cycle.  I was out paying bills in the kitchen on the laptop. Sawyer and Bart were snoozing and Jimmy was in his and Josie’s room.  It was perfect…until I went to see what Jimmy was up to and once he unlocked the door, I was overcome by the fumes of Josie’s fruity CVS brand Princess perfume.  Not only was he freshening the room with it, but Jimmy had also tried to clean their mirror with it.  Most likely due to the fact that it is a nice bright clear blue color and he had helped me clean the windows last week with a similar looking liquid- that’s right Windex.   Which reminds me I never did go back and clean that mirror.  I was with the boys later in the basement where most of the toys reside and trying to get the boys to help clean up the many play swords, guns, baseball bats, boxing gloves, etc. (Note to all my fb friends, sorry for the repeat story).  The phrase “boxing gloves and weapons go in the weapons container” actually came out of my mouth.  And I really wasn’t fazed by it.  There were plenty of other weird and random phrases that I yelled today including telling Sawyer not to “vacuum” the baby.  And even the baby adds to the undoing.  Bart or Barf as I sometimes refer to him as, has a penchant for spitting up on the kitchen floor.  Thankfully the dog is often nearby and helps to clean it up.  Sorry to all you PETA peeps out there, but the dog is clearly not allergic to dairy.  Josie’s favorite form of undoing is to take trash and make more trash.  Yes, I am proud of how “green” she is and it is wonderful how her creative little imagination leads her to make little houses for her tiny stuffed animals out of empty diaper boxes.   But the girl may end up needing an intervention on hoarders.  Lord knows she has the pack rat syndrome in her genes.
The real reasons I am proud to be the Queen of the Undone today are things 1, 2, 3, and 4.  I was able to waste time in the best way, with four of my favorite people.  Josie and I played around on my iPhone with Instagram- my new favorite time sucker.  I spent a few awesome moments just watching baby Bart as he layed playing on his mat, grabbing at the toys hanging above him.  Jimmy “styled” my hair while I fed and held Bart.  Sawyer outlasted the other three tonight and was still up chilling on the couch with me when A.J. got home around 9:30.  I am going to adopt a new attitude of pride in the undone.  You should too!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Potato Prints, Classroom Casanovas, & Walmart Lingerie

Valentine’s Day is yet another day that highlights how much my life has changed since my kiddos came along.  The first Valentine’s Day that A.J. and I were dating was filled with all the quintessential surprises of love in the early stages.  It happened to fall on a Friday which was perfect.  The day started out on a high note with the gift of a silver Tiffany bracelet with a heart charm on it.  I was teaching art at an elementary school at the time and joked to A.J. that I wanted him to dress as an ape and deliver flowers to my classroom.  Well, he came pretty close- he did have flowers sent and along with them was a cute little stuffed monkey.  They came hand delivered by my principal to my classroom door.  The school I was teaching at was a Catholic school and I was one of the younger teachers so everyone got a kick out of seeing me in dating mode especially after hearing about several of my dating disasters prior to A.J.  I was on floating through my day.  We concluded our first Valentine’s Day with an awesome romantic dinner at a steak restaurant capped off with a bottle of red that cost more than our dinners combined- that was a big OOPS!  A.J. still reminds me about it to this day.  In my defense, it did taste pretty good when the waiter brought us a sample of it.  How would I know how much it cost?! 
Now let’s fast forward time nine years, one dog, and four kids later.  I went out to dinner Monday night with some girlfriends for a much needed Mommy escape.  Spent the later part of that night finishing up Josie’s and Jimmy’s home-made Valentine’s for their classes.  They had done the artsy part of the cards earlier that afternoon with me(potato prints) and I was doing the labeling.  Got up extra early yesterday to assemble the kids’ Valentine’s bags from me and A.J.  Then got the kids up to rush them through opening their shirts which I think I was more excited about then they were.  Let’s be honest- all that was on their minds was CANDY!!!!  My short-attention-spanned Sawyer even acted surprised when he opened his card which he had picked out the day before with me and Bart at Walmart.  The kids fought over who got to hand A.J. his presents and cards.  They managed to lose the card I had gotten him.  We wasted ten minutes looking for it until I saw the white of the envelope poking out from under the stove. 
Note to my mom if she should read this, skip ahead to the next paragraph at this point!! I tell A.J. he will get one present later- this being a cute lingerie set I bought at Walmart for myself.  Yes, I said Walmart.  I got it when I had Sawyer and Bart with me on Monday and I guarantee the lady who happened to be shopping next to me was thinking to herself-“lady, lay off the lingerie and find the birth control!”  She really would have thought this if I had the oldest two with me.  Yes, gone are the days of spending exorbitant amounts of money on super silky lingerie at Victoria’s Secret though the thought crossed my mind.  Then the reality of taking at least two children with me into that store popped into my head, visions of bras and panties being hurled like missiles across the store, and the decision became crystal clear. 
Jimmy kept asking “where is your gift, Mommy?”  To which I replied “I am sure Daddy will be bringing it later.”  To which A.J. replied “I thought we agreed we weren’t doing any gifts this year.”  Ah still the romantic I fell for!  I then had to rush Josie through signing all 24 of her Valentine’s before school, stuffing them into envelopes, and packing it all in her backpack.  You or I could sign our names in about a few seconds per card.  Getting a six year old to sign her name in purplish pink marker twenty-four times with the distraction of her brothers around her and the taunting of a bag of goodies on the counter next to her is as painful as it gets.    But it got done.  And I managed to get a cute picture on my phone of my little love Monkey before she bolted out the door to school.  I don’t think I could have gotten any more hearts on that girl’s clothing if I tried- heart tights, hearts on her little monkey shirt, a rainbow pattern of hearts on her skort.  And the colors...She would have given Madonna and Cyndi Lauper a run for their money back in the eighties.  Do the usual assembly line of getting my goonies(the boys) ready to take Jimmy to school.  Being the crazy facebook obsessed mom I am, I attempt to get pics of all the boys in their Valentine’s shirts, Bart in his onesie.  Because we all like to show off our kids and facebook is the ultimate redemption for spending so much time finding the cute little clothes we force our kids to wear. 
Later in the morning, my mom and I take Bart and Sawyer to Jimmy’s preschool for his Valentine’s Day party.  Get a frantic call on our way from my mother-in-law who is supposed to be meeting us there that the road is blocked heading into the school the way she comes due to the rescue squad needing to medevac someone from some sort of accident.  Mother-in-law had been re-routed and was having trouble figuring out which way to go and then ended up heading out towards the next big town.  Try to be polite and not cut her off, but am running late myself and just need to get to this party since the classes always do the cute singing thing first and I have missed this on one or two occasions because of my perpetual lateness.  Make it to preschool party and they delayed singing songs because of the road block issue anyways.
Spent the rest of the preschool party being informed by not one but two mothers of girls in Jimmy’s class how smitten their little girls are with Jimmy.  I had been forewarned about Jimmy’s charms as his teacher told me during our conference last month that Jimmy is the Classroom Casanova. The one mother seems a bit overzealous about her daughter’s love for Jimmy and sounds like she is ready to arrange a marriage- stalker much?  One of his teachers tells me that earlier in the school day before the parents/grandparents came, the kids were saying what they “loved” and one of these two little girls said “Jimmy”.  The boy refuses to talk when I am there- not sure where this animal magnetism comes from?  Though it does make A.J., a past prom king, quite proud.
The rest of our day is status quo with a smidge of extra sugar on top.  Okay, a ton of sugar.  My serenity arrives home a bit late with carryout from a little Italian place nearby, grocery store roses, a Whitman’s sampler, and a three foot wide heart-shaped balloon that plays “Everlasting Love”.  The kids stay up a bit later than usual due to all the sugar and two exhausted parents.  We end the evening watching a Valentine’s rerun of “The Wonder Years” followed up by a random rerun of “Family Ties”. 
Here’s to hoping your Valentine’s Day was filled with the simplest things that can bring you the happiest heart!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Inside the Mental-List Making, Multi-tasking Mind of a Mom

It’s 10:27 on a Sunday night and while the rest of my house is quieting down, well aside from the jungle noises of apes and chimps on the kids’ sound machine anyways, my mind is going about a hundred miles a minute.  And no, it has nothing to do with the large mug of coffee I consumed around eight o’clock this evening.  I’m not sure what it is about being a mom, but it forces the multi-tasking part of your brain to go into overdrive.  And overdrive hits overdrive on Sunday evenings as I race through the mental check list that I have been compiling all day in my mind of things that need to be done for the week, things that need to be done for tomorrow, and things that needed to be done last week.  There is often no sense to this list which can be proven by listing verbatim what I typed on my iPhone earlier this morning while I was feeding Bart.  This list-making while breastfeeding only further illustrates my point that moms multi-task.  Sorry all you La Lechers who might feel I should spend the 20 minutes of feeding him, just gazing at his sweet baby face and bonding.  I do admire his chubby little cheeks and twinkly brown eyes and I do hold his little fingers wrapped around mine while I feed him.  But I also make lists and lists and lists. Okay maybe I check facebook and some blogs too.   I have found that when I actually write or now type my lists(so much more earth friendly!), I accomplish things that need to be done.  So back to this list: “dishes, church, grocery store, Valentine’s stuff, tax stuff, kids’ room, auction email, find check from art student’s mom, sign up for Child Life conference, call woman about donating stroller”.  Then throughout my day, as I am running back and forth between whatever items on the list are pulling me towards them, I end up with at least twenty to thirty more items to add to the list or just to be placed on the neverending list in my head. 
I watched A.J. today as we both went about doing stuff around the house and with the kids.  I know it sounds like such a stereotype, but men really do focus just on one thing at a time and compartmentalize things they need to do.  Case in point, A.J. offers to hold Bart so I can do something.  That is all he will do…well hold the baby and watch t.v. or check his email on his phone or surf the web.  The other kids bounce up and down around him and walk their pretend tight rope that is the back top part of the couch.  The phone rings, the dog needs to go out, etc. He won’t get up to do those things.  Unless I am not home, but I have my doubts that he gets up even then.  I think part of the reason that moms are forced to multi-task is that you are constantly dealing with interruptions.  Whereas A.J. can just choose not to answer calls when he is at work and in the middle of something, I don’t have the same choice.  Unfortunately, my four little and loud interruptions don’t have a silence button.  Since my everyday routine involves wrangling at least 3 of the 4 kids for most of the day, I can’t just sit there and hold the baby.  Believe me, I wish I could!  So the baby gets put in the bouncy seat and I am able to tend to the chaos around us.  In terms of cleaning, A.J. uses his same approach- focuses in on one specific area and stays there until he gets that one thing done.  I am trying to adopt more of this methodology, however, my cleaning is usually an all-encompassing effort.  Grab the full laundry basket and start heading down to the basement to put it in the wash.  Put basket down at the top of the stairs when I notice the dog has no food or water, fill her dishes.  Go to pick the basket up, but am interrupted by one of the kids yelling that his/her butt needs to be wiped.  Go to attend to fun task in the bathroom.  Notice the trash is full in bathroom and take it out.  Go to put another plastic bag in the trash can, but am stopped in the kitchen because one of the kids needs a drink right that second.  Finally back to putting a new bag in the bathroom trash can.  Realize that the rug is soaked from when I gave the boys a bath and grab the rug to add to the laundry pile.  Put a clean bath rug down as A.J.’s family is coming over for dinner.  Get back to the laundry basket and the load of laundry actually gets started this time.  Start to head back upstairs when I see that there are stuffed animal innards scattered all over the rec room.  Thank you, Moxie!  Scoop up the fluffy white stuffing and the deflated stuffed duck carcass and toss them in the trash.  Get started on the dishes and as I am washing them and putting some in the dishwasher, I make notes of other things I need to get done like sorting through all of Josie’s and Jimmy’s school papers and art projects which are piling up in Sawyer’s room.  Then there are the two bins of baby clothes that need to be either stuffed in Sawyer’s closet or taken down to the storage room.  And well, it would be great if I managed to put away the clean laundry that has also managed to get parked in Sawyer’s room.  Thank God the kid only needs to sleep in there!
All the while that I am going about these mom jobs, I also have a habit of composing emails in my head that I plan to get to….at some point, most likely when I am feeding Bart.  I am so used to writing emails in my head, that I have on more than one occasion actually forgotten to type and send said emails.  Yes, this is pretty pathetic.  But I know that many of you can relate.  And if not, I will gladly loan you things 1, 2, 3 , and 4 for a weekend.  I’ll even throw in the husband and dog as added on bonuses!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Coffee: Cami's Cure-all for kids, chaos, and Caillou

So this is my hot Friday night, blogging on the laptop on the couch while attempting to get the middle boys to fall asleep while watching “Caillou” for the millionth time today.  I have a love/hate relationship with the on demand feature of fios.  Finally was able to get Bart to give in and fall asleep.  A.J. and Josie are at their first Daddy/Daughter Dance.  I texted A.J. a couple minutes ago to ask how it was going and he texted back that he had just finished chatting with our pastor “while Sexy and I Know It was playing”.  Then he added that Father Jim was out doing the jersey pump with some of the older girls from the school.  And because I am so old and out of touch, I tried to google what the jersey pump is and this was a huge mistake as the first definition to pop up was from the urban dictionary and it was NOT describing the dance move. 
Today was a good day.  Chaotic and crazy and hectic, but good.  It was a Friday so no matter how slow the day could have gone, there was always that glimmer of hope….Hope from knowing that my partner in battling these beasts of children will be home to help for two straight days.  I woke up excited to be meeting with some of the other kindergarten moms for coffee.  Adult conversation equals pretty damn awesome in my book.   A friend was also bringing her two younger kiddos so I decided to bring Jimmy and Sawyer along with me and Bart.  Now everyone knows that my natural time clock is always running about 10 minutes late, give or take.  Add to this pulling the two older boys away from some fascinating “Caillou” episode.  Yes, that’s right, we started and are now ending our day with “Caillou”.  On top of this, add the baby having a blow out just as we were two steps from the front door and he was packed snuggly in his carseat.  Finally in the Gray Goose and off, praying that these people will at least still be chatting by the time we get there.  Fly into the Panera parking lot, unload the goonies and put Bart’s carseat into the snap n go base and race in to meet these ladies.  Jetting through the restaurant to their table I feel like we are this whirl of commotion, sort of like a tornado breezing through.  Only this tornado has a couple pairs of grubby little hands that are just inches away from other customers’ tables and hot coffees.  We get to the table and it is always that initial sensation like I have been carrying about ten large loads of laundry in my arms and have just plunked it down on the seats.  Ah I can breathe.  The woman who organized the get together stands and introduces herself and I actually give her a huge hug.  I am a hugger by nature, but really at this moment, it was kind of like, “Halleluia! We made it!  We’re here!  This is so exciting!  I don’t get out of the house much.” I try to casually escape to the food counter to get my coffee and stuff for the boys, but Jimmy stays glued to me.  Sawyer notices we are gone and bolts for me.  One of the other moms makes sure I see him clambering towards me around the tables.  Gather our goods and go back to the table to join in the conversation.  It was wonderful to be with a group of ladies who really get me and my life.  Their lives aren’t exactly like mine- not many peoples’ are.  But they know.  They know that while I often seem like a bit of a loon, I am trying and I am real and genuine.  My kids are my life right now, but there are other parts to me too.  And I got to talk a bit about those parts too.  Granted, I may have been talking a bit fast which can be attributed to the fact that this is my second helping of coffee for the day.  And my portion control can best be described as a lack of control.  I was not quite to the jittery point, but I may have given one of the other women a synopsis of my career life in a two minute span which is pretty much impossible since I have held so many jobs in my pre-mom life.  Despite my spastic conversation style I could really relax with these ladies.  By relax, I mean, just chill out and not freak out that the kids were being disruptive.  Maybe it was the glorious coffee coma I was in or it was just the way my new found friends step in when needed.  One held Bart when he was getting fussy so I could hold Sawyer on my lap.  Another saved my coffee from Sawyer’s tight grasp after he had swigged a few gulps down.  Side note: I blame Sawyer’s coffee affection on my mom and my mother-in-law, both of whom have found it funny in the past to give him a little taste.  Now whenever I have a mug of coffee near him, he dips his hand right in and licks the coffee off.  Jimmy stayed entertained with his army men and played a bit with my friend’s son.  The kids may have been scattered around other tables or under our table, and Sawyer may have been standing and staring at the women at the table next to us(for about five minutes before I noticed), but at least they were quiet for the most part.   Success!  I have gotten to know some of these friends even better and also made a couple new friends.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fighting a February Funk

It’s been that kind of day.  Turned the alarm off so we could catch some extra zzzzzzs, reassured by A.J. that he had his alarm set to go off a short while later.  His alarm never went off, but thankfully he woke up with just enough time to do one of those frantic rushed routines where you make it out the door just in time.  Only these days, he has to make it out the door with our Monkey in tow.  She did her part to get ready in a hurry.  Despite downing a half a pot of coffee, I never felt like I woke up this morning and was feeling a bit grumpy about having to go teach a class.  The overcast snow heavy-looking sky did nothing to improve my mood.  My mother-in-law was late and waltzed in with her Starbucks coffee and newspaper which only added to my grouchiness.  Unfortunately you can not complain when the daycare is free.  Get a text from A.J. to call him as soon as I get a chance, just as I am getting to the house where I will be teaching my little group of homeschoolers today.  Call him and find out that they have put his grandmother on hospice. Blah!  Try to push sad thoughts from my mind and heart and focus on the group of girls and complementary colors.  Arrive back at home to my mother-in-law, Sawyer, and Jimmy.  Mother-in-law does something later that makes Jimmy cry- not really her fault just that he has been overly sensitive as of late.  Later I head out to warm the car up before we have to leave to get Josie.  I come back into the house to Jimmy crying and my mother-in-law comforting him and of course Sawyer grinning his wicked smile.  Sawyer had hit Jimmy with one of the wooden blocks they had been playing with.  We hustle to get out the door to get Josie and this is when I see the actual injury- it looks as if there is a mini donut under the skin on Jimmy’s forehead, a donut that is now turning purple. Sawyer must have beamed the block right smack in the middle of Jimmy’s forehead, pretty much directly between his eyebrows.  I knew an injury of this sort was coming soon as Sawyer’s favorite thing to do with them is to hurl them through the air or knock towers of them over.   Apparently, when “Mrs. Claus” picked these cool blocks out to give Sawyer at Christmas, she was blinded by the nostalgia of the blocks and did not think through to all the injuries that they would bring.  Grab an icepack from the freezer and wrap it in a towel and convince Jimmy it will help him feel better.
We pick Josie up and I am determined to pull myself out of this funk.  So on our way home, I decide to take the kids past “the Crazy Christmas House” which is actually now “the Crazy Valentine’s House” and has at other times been “the Crazy Fourth of July House”, “the Crazy Halloween House”, and so on.  I have never met these neighbors, or even gotten a glimpse of them, yet we stalk their house.  Each and every holiday known to all you Hallmarkers, these people cover every inch of their yard, every tree, every shrub, every shutter, every doorway with decorations and lights a plenty.  It is tacky and gaudy and crazy and AWESOME!!  When my kids get a bit bigger, this is my goal to go all out for every holiday.  These neighbors have no idea how happy they make my kiddos and me.  Okay starting to feel a little better.  Continue operation funk away.  Call sisters and mom to chit chat.  My sister Nikki says she is a fellow funkette when I tell her I am just in a funk this week.  Ah someone to wallow with!  My sister Yvette talks about all the wine she bought at Trader Joe’s for her book club and how she’s pretty sure they won’t drink all of it so we will have plenty left for her and me when the whole family heads to Deep Creek Lake next week.  Watch the snow falling and it finally reaches that pretty point where the flakes are huge and fall in a sort of dance.  Still wishing for a snow day that we won’t be getting and my sister and I remind ourselves that while a snow day would be nice, it would require us to deal with suiting up the kids over and over to go out and play in it.  Boy, am I a grump or what?!
I accept that maybe I just need to let myself feel this funk.  And of course, the evening plays into it as well.  My six year old drama queen has a major meltdown and manages to land herself in her room not once, not twice, but three times in about the span of an hour and a half.  Sawyer and Jimmy continue their scuba dives in the tub.  It is a miracle the floods have not caused our 50 plus year old floor to cave in through to the basement. 
House slowly quiets down except for tonight’s noise from the noise machine- the jungle.  I futz around on the internet, find some cool mid-century modern couches on Craigslist that would look so cool in my living room despite the fact that they require a couple thousand dollars in cash.  Remind myself that the beat up leather sectional we got for a steal on Craigslist last year is perfect for the messiness of my little monsters and the muddy paws of my pooch.  Decide to blog to clear my head. 
Thanks for humoring me by reading my posts- it feels good to have people to relate to the everyday ordinariness of lifeJ

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pickles and other children's non sequiturs(Gratitude for the everyday part 2)

I had originally planned to blog last night, but then I fell asleep while laying with the oldest two trying to get them to sleep and was barely coherent when A.J. woke me at eleven to move from the bottom bunk bed in Josie’s and Jimmy’s room to our bed in the next room.  Though in hindsight he really should have just let me stay in the kids’ room since around 1 AM Jimmy woke up screaming from a bad dream or something and Josie woke up yelling for us and they both ended up in our bed.  Couple hours later so did Sawyer.  Not really the most restful of nights. 
But anyways, my goal is to write about everyday things that I am grateful for on Mondays.  It’s Tuesday so I am not that late.  Yesterday afternoon was really nice.  The boys and I picked Josie up from school then went to the mall to meet an old friend from high school with her kids at the play area.  She and I have not seen each other since graduation or beach week I am pretty sure.  And if we have run into each other after that, I am pretty sure it was in my single days out at one of the popular bars and I was most likely too drunk to remember- just kidding…well sort of.  No comments from my peanut gallery of close friends and family!  The mall adventure went so smoothly yesterday -well aside from the end of the adventure when my credit card was denied when I tried to pay for my kids’ $7.49 worth of candy at the candy store, but I digress.  I was able to use another credit card thank goodness. My friend’s kids and my kids actually interacted with each other and my Josie is eager to hang out with my friend and her children again so it was a success!
The loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong evening at home with my kids until A.J. got home right before bedtime was “annoying” said in my niece Katarina’s perfect pitch that really does the word justice. Sawyer decided to be a nice young gentleman and went to sleep easily once placed in his crib in his dark room with the fan going.  Bart-man was fast asleep in his bouncy seat so I was able to go lay down with Josie and Jimmy in their room and do our old bed time routine which I haven’t since Bart’s arrival.  I really needed it!  I should clarify though that I was lying on the bottom bunk, full bed with Jimmy.  I was not squished on the top single bed of the bunk with Josie.  I do not think anyone wants me to test those weight limits!  We get the noise machine going- used to use one of those cheap little fans for noise, but it gave out last week from being thrown or kicked by the kids one too many times.  We have had the noise machine since Josie was a baby, but still can not figure out how to get this cheap hunk of junk $15 dollar machine to stay on instead of timing out.  So lately the kids have taken turns choosing which “noise” to listen to.  I seriously don’t understand how anyone finds the jungle or camping forest noises so relaxing.  To me they are a bit jarring.  So tonight, Jimmy chooses the crashing waves of the ocean option.  We decide to say a “Hail Mary” for our nightly prayer and Josie informs me that “Daddy usually forgets to say prayers with us.  He just falls asleep.”  Say our prayers and good night I love yous.  Josie tells me a bit about puzzle day at school.  She is midway into talking about it and Jimmy bursts out yelling “Pickles!”.  This cracks us all up.  Where does Jimmy come up with this stuff??!  Sure enough once the laughing dies down, he says it again.  Same response.  Now time to get them back into calm mode.  “Okay, guys, enough.  Time to go to sleep.” 
I lay there and think about how kids use non sequiturs all the time.  On many occasions it is some body part that they yell out.  “Butt” is a favorite of my kids.  Wouldn’t it be great if adults could do this in the work place?  It would lighten up so many tense meetings.  Imagine sitting there, bored out of your mind or aggravated by whatever one of your bosses or coworkers are going on and on about.  Then you just interrupt with “Pickles!” or “Butt!”.  I don’t think you would elicit the same response from your coworkers as my kids get from their little cohorts,  but it sure is nice to dream. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sometimes you really can buy happiness...I just got some at Target yesterday

The main goals for the weekend were the same as they always seem to be- get through all of the laundry and put it away as well as cleaning the rest of the house since A.J. was home and could help manage the maniacs so I can make some headway.  We also had a couple smaller goals for the weekend one of which was for me to take Josie to Target to exchange a pair of jeans she got for her birthday and so that she could spend a gift card a friend had given her.  Despite the fact that my blue-eyed Monkey always measures out to be smack in the middle on the growth charts at her annual check up, she wears anywhere between a 4 and 6 in clothes depending on the brand or if it is a hand-me-down.  There really is no rhyme or reason and I am sure this frustrates all relatives and friends who ask me for her size before they buy her any clothes only to find out the items don’t fit.
So yesterday afternoon, Josie, Jimmy, and I head to Target and go straight to the returns desk- the cashier checks and supposedly the store has one pair of the exact jeans we need, but the girl points out they could be anywhere.  Not a problem, we’ll see if we can find them where they are supposed to be.  We head over to the girls’ section and are distracted by racks of winter hats and gloves for sale.  Josie picks out a somewhat crazy looking fleece hat with stars and peace signs of course and a pair of pink leopard-print gloves.  Jimmy is appeased when I tell him we will find him some as well.  We find the rack of polka dot jeans and I scan the remaining three pairs left hanging there, 10, 10….thank you, Lord, there is a 5!! Woohoo!  Can my shopping trip be this easy?!  Throw them in the cart and head for the boys’ hats and gloves.  Jimmy refuses the hats that would look somewhat decent and match his winter coat, instead choosing a pair of glow in the dark skeleton hand gloves and a Darth Vader winter hat.  I grab a pair of the skeleton gloves for Sawyer knowing he will want them as soon as he sees Jimmy’s and a silly fleece camouflage hat with a mohawky thing on top.
Jimmy for his part stayed very well-behaved in the cart as we went to the toy section for Josie and headed on to find a shelf for the bathroom for me.  Josie was another story.  Not sure what amount of sugar she had consumed yesterday prior to our shopping trip, but my oh so non-coordinated daughter came very close to being run over 4 times and that was just between the toy and bath room sections.  Finally while I was picking out some baskets for our new bathroom shelf/cabinet, and Josie was running her hands across every very breakable object on the shelf, I went into stern mom mode and very firmly told her to stop it RIGHT NOW!  Not a problem until I saw the look on some woman’s face as if to say I shouldn’t have raised my voice so much.  I’m sorry, lady, this is Target, not the library! 
Survive the rest of the store and get home.  A.J. was Mr. Fixit for me yesterday and hung curtains in the kids’ room and then went right into working on my cabinet for the bathroom.  Unfortunately for him, inside this fairly small shelf box were also about two hundred wood screws, bolts, hinges, and even wood glue.  He was a good sport and finished the entire thing in one sitting. Our very outdated bathroom tiles and strangely configured towel rack provided some amusement as A.J. had to remove the bar from said rack to fit our new shelf/cabinet thing around the toilet.  He went to yank the towel bar and with it came the one end of the rack and a large chunk of tile.  Thankfully the new shelf hid the hole. 
 The kids were meanwhile running amok, entertaining themselves with their new hats and gloves.  Who knew that such small cheap items could bring them so much pleasure?!  Actually I am sure every parent or person who is around kids much will tell you this.  Big ticket items obviously bring much excitement, but kids thrive on the small random everyday objects.  Their silly games last night kept my kiddos occupied for close to three hours.  And this morning, what were the first things they were looking for?  Their hats and gloves. 
And my new bathroom shelf/cabinet thing has made my week.  It is somewhat pathetic that this ordinary object is what I am getting so much happiness from.  But now I can see our 1960s gold flecked bathroom counter top again.  I got these cute little baskets for hair brushes and hair products, etc., to fit on the one shelf. Finally after four and a half years of going to grab these items out of the hall closet and everything spilling out, we are sort of organized.  And it looks great- even trendy if I dare say so.  Small victories, people.  I will take ‘em!  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Self Medication with McDonald's

Looking around my house this morning, one could easily surmise that this week had been that kind of week.  The house pretty much looks like a bomb went off, laundry piles are spilling out of our room and there are two baskets of clean unfolded laundry sitting on chairs in the dining room.  Art supplies from my class also rest on another chair.  No wonder we usually eat at the island in the kitchen.  Today I was determined to get all three boys to church for Josie's weekly school mass since it is Catholic Schools week.  We make it to mass, a half hour late, pour into the cry room and take over the front row where the boys line up their assortment of army men, Star Wars figures, and Super Heroes.  Sawyer only makes one attempt to break out and all seems well.  Mass ends, but turns out this week they are celebrating the feast of St. Blaise so they will have the blessing of throats.  For those of you non-Catholics, you line up and go up to the front of the church and a priest holds two candles crossed by your throat and says a blessing.  This is said to help keep you healthy from all illnesses of the throat.  Being the superstitious Catholic that I am, we head to the back of the church to go to get in line to get our throats blessed.  As we are waiting in the lobby I see a friend who teaches at the school and we chat as I am trying to keep the boys wrangled and to stay in a spot where I can see Josie and wave to her to prove that Mommy did come to her school mass today.  Sawyer practices his football runs back and forth across the church lobby.  Jimmy helps the cause by chasing him.  I try to detain Sawyer as quietly as possible.  Unfortunately for me, the lobby doors which would help keep my son's screams quiet from those in the church are now propped open.  Josie passes by once her class is done getting their throats blessed and they are heading back to school.  The lines seem to be getting shorter so we make our way into the church and I bless myself with holy water, the boys of course follow suit, Sawyer double dipping his entire chunky little hand in.  No, it did not scald him...miraculously.  We make our way slowly to the front of the church, Sawyer squirming to break free from my hold.  I try to entertain him by saying "Look there's Jesus up there!"  pointing to the crucifix.  Then the little boy behind us asks his mom if Bart(who is tucked into his snap n go) is the Baby Jesus to which his mom replies no and I agree saying "especially not if he is anything like his older brothers".  We get up in front and the priest takes one look down at all three of my boys and says :"Oh my goodness! We'll just do a group blessing!" I know he is really thinking "Holy s***!"  Okay our throats are blessed and I am also imagining that all demons are exorcised from my wild boys- well I can hope anyways.
 Now all that is left to do is make our way to the car and wait in line to pick Josie up as it is a half day.  Once outside I am having to drag Jimmy who has decided to go completely limp except for keeping his knees bent, almost kneeling/surfing across the concrete sidewalk.  Add to this mental picture, my other hand attempting to stay firmly grasped around Sawyer's hand as well as the baby's stroller handle.  Now add to the picture an entire class of 4th/5th graders lined up on the sidewalk who have seen this major debacle and are now chanting "Go Jimmy!  Go Jimmy!"  Not difficult to imagine how they figured out his name.  I attempt twice to just let go of Jimmy in hopes he'd get up and follow, but no luck.  This only causes me to lose my grip on the other two and due to the slant of the sidewalk the stroller takes off on its own.  The students are now cheering even louder for Jimmy. "Alright Jimmy!  Go Jimmy!"  Then I realize that because it is a half day there are already cars pouring into the parking lot.  And anyone who has ever been in a school parking lot at pick up knows that some of the most distracted drivers are parents.  Catch hold of Sawyer and the stroller with Bart before it heads into the parking lot.  Jimmy now has himself wrapped around my right leg like a koala bear.  Get to the car and Jimmy decides to have a tantrum because he doesn't want to get in.  Just as I am yelling more and more at him to get in, the same 4th/5th graders come walking by and a couple of the girls start chanting "Go Jimmy!  Help your mom!".
We wait the half hour for Josie's dismissal- me trying to appease the two older boys with half eaten bags of cool ranch Doritos.  Feed Bart in the front seat with my fashionable breatfeeding cloak draped over me and him.  Wrestle to get the boys into their car seats.  Bart and I go grab Josie from her line.  She gets in and is immediately whining about being hungry and this keeps escalating as I have no food aside from some stray fries and a nugget on the floor... from our road trip to see A.J.'s grandma two weeks ago.  Sawyer is freaking out because he has decided he wants his socks back on and has thrown them somewhere out into the vast universe of junk on the floor of the Gray Goose.  That's it.  I am done. It's not even noon.  Off to McDonald's drive thru for some self medication.  Oh and to get the kids' lunch too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

You brought Baby Bart to a brewery?! Pre and post four kiddos me

Up until I had Josie I was working full time.  After Josie arrived, I cut down to three days a week.  And so with each child I have cut down more and more on the career I went through school for and focused instead on the career which I have dreamed about since I was little, but in no way could completely prepare for and there really is no school for except the university of experience- full time mom.  I know that I will someday go back to my job in Child Life(at least in some capacity) and that for now, I am just temporarily retired.  But there are certain things I find that I miss and I am sure most stay-at-home parents would agree with me on these.  I miss having concrete tasks that when completed produce tangible results.  With parenting there is such a large sea of gray and it seems that every choice has so many variables to take into account and ultimately there are a thousand different outcomes.  The decisions you make as a parent are not all as simple as what to feed your child or what diapers to buy(though you learn quickly that some just don’t hold the poop in!).  The bigger, more challenging decisions leave you wondering two things: “Is this the right choice?” and “Am I screwing my child up forever by doing this?”  The other thing I miss is feeling relevant- outside of the realm of mommy and wife, being able to relate to other adults and still feel in the know with the world.  Thus when opportunities present themselves to me where I can interact more with adults and accomplish specific tasks, I leap at the chance.  If they happen to incorporate some interaction with my children where I get to do something special with/for one of them, then all the better.
Josie’s school holds an annual auction fundraiser and each class is in charge of creating a basket which will be auctioned off as well as a craft project.  The room mother who is the mother of one of Josie’s best school friends was having trouble finding any takers for the job of craft and basket coordinator.  I have wanted to volunteer in Josie’s class forever, but cannot commit to a regular gig due to wild boys 1, 2, and 3.  So this is perfect as I only have to go in a couple times to the classroom, but I will get to see my Monkey in her new world of kindergarten and in the school she will be at for the next several years.  Email sent back to the room mom who asked if I was sure I knew what I was getting into.  Of course!  Well then we need to come up with a theme for the basket ASAP since it was due yesterday.  I rack my sleep-deprived brain and decide I will search through my list of friends on facebook to see what people have connections I can use.  Also make a frantic call to one of my best friends who seems to know just about everyone in the D.C. area and is an event planner so she is sure to have some ideas.  Send a couple shameless emails to friends who may be able to help me out.  Remember a friend from high school is starting a brewery around here so call him up.  Timing is off for his brewery, but he hooks me up with the owners of another brewery nearby.  Thankfully breweries have hours conducive to crazy moms’ schedules and I get hold of one of the managers there and she is awesome and says she thinks we can work something out for a donation of either a tasting party or something along those lines.  Get forms sent to her and email some of the guidelines.  All hell is breaking loose in the house since this is all happening yesterday evening around 6 and it is probably the worst time to do anything involving sane phone calls or emails that actually make sense.
This tangent leads me to explain how Bart and I arrived at a brewery at lunchtime today.  I have been emailing and emailing the main basket coordinator to get a final okay on the theme and also realized late last night that I have to send a letter out to the parents in Josie’s class today.  Let’s put it this way, it will be a day late!  I can’t send the letter until I have the final okay from the brewery owners.  The house I am teaching art at today is not far from the brewery and I will only have Bart with me since my mother-in-law watches the other two while I teach.  Awesome!  After class, we will pop by the brewery just to expedite this whole process.  Alright I may have been the one who wanted to go, but Bart really looked like he thought it was a great idea too!  Of course as luck would have it, all three of the appropriate people to speak with about the auction were out when we arrived at the brewery.  But they were supposed to be getting back soon.  Bart and I hang out with one of the employees and I am eying all the growlers just waiting to be filled and the line of taps at the bar where I am standing.  MMMmmmmmm beer!(to quote “the Simpsons”).  So I end up buying two growlers, get one filled with a lighter ale for me and one filled with a stout that is Bourbon infused for A.J.  Bonus is that I got a tasting of the stout! 
Stand around a while waiting for one of the owners, praying that Bart will stay calm because it would be pretty awkward to have to breastfeed him here at the brewery despite the fact that my best friend who I have been texting thinks that tactic would definitely get me some sort of donation!  Finally one of the owners arrives.  He is very cool and happy to help out with this fundraiser.  Though there are a couple technicalities I will have to work out- thank you Virginia ABC laws.  I leave Bart with the brewmasters as I load my growlers in the Gray Goose promising I will come back to get him. 
Bart and I head home, growlers next to me in the front seat, the sun is shining and life is good.  Til I remember I am heading home to my wild ones and mother-in-law….thank God for beer!
Big shout out to everyone at Lost Rhino Brewing Company in Ashburn, VA.  Please check them out and patronize them!  They are awesome and the beer is delicious.  Check out their First Wednesdays- very cool concept.  www.lostrhino.com