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!