Friday, September 26, 2008

What I should be doing...

Tonight is the big debate, and as I write this, McCain and Obama are still hammering away at each other. Verbally, that is. I was actually looking forward to watching the debate, since I feel so out of touch with this election. I know where my initial gut instinct is leading me, but having a political opinion really needs some backup in this day and age. Simply saying, "I just have a good/bad feeling about so-and-so..." doesn't quite cut it. So, I watched the debate ... at least I started to. Obviously, since I am tip-tap-typing on the computer, my enthusiasm fizzled out somewhere around the time McCain accused Obama of not being able to distinguish between a war "strategy" and... something else. See how I tuned out there?

Have you ever balanced on the brink of preparation and impracticality? Where you think you're doing so well in planning ahead that you end up making a dumb decision? I nearly fell victim to that concept this morning while driving to work, when I passed a garage sale. Out in front was an Exersaucer, and as soon as I spied it I nearly hit the brakes. Then I realized this baby will be born in March, leaving quite a bit of time until he is ready to take on the rigors of the almighty Exersaucer. Considering we have little to no storage at the moment, my moment of preparation nearly had us tripping over a cumbersome plastic toy for the next year. Besides, I've owned Exersaucers before... and anyone else who has had one knows how gunky they can get, even when you are vigilant about cleaning up the drool, spit-up and cracker crumbs. Ick. What I should be doing, is finding my lost self-discipline when it comes to eating healthy. I have fallen prey to "if you crave it, eat it." Thankfully it hasn't been all fast-food choices; but to me, having a once-daily tall soy latte is pretty daring.

Tomorrow is our city's first-ever half marathon. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't green with envy over every last runner in the field. Not that pregnant women can't run. In fact, if memory serves, a British runner (whose name escapes me ... thank you shrinking brain!) won a major race just nine months after giving birth, and plenty of runners continue a scaled-back training schedule well into mid- to late-pregnancy. I, however, after running the 500 Festival Mini Marathon last May, gave myself a few weeks off. Then went to Florida to get married. Then had to prepare to move out of my old house, and close on the sale. Then plan a marriage blessing ceremony/reception. Then, TA-DAA! We found out I was expecting. Then came the weeks and weeks of nausea... Do I have to say my running shoes have had little to talk about in the past several months? It's disgusting, but true. And now, tomorrow morning when I hang out with a friend whose husband is running his first mini, I will have to keep my emotions in check. I will feel the excitement in the air as the runners take their places. My legs will almost ache with longing, and my toes will be wiggling in my shoes. And when the gun goes off, I will feel a surge of my own adrenaline, just as if I'm crossing the line, too. My race now, however, is a long one, spanning the next five months. I've already promised myself as soon as the OB gives me clearance to begin running, it's "GAME ON." Maybe what I should be doing is taking this break as a blessing; a time to prepare and reflect on everything that goes on each day.

Hmmm... wonder if that debate is still on.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back to the square...

Since this blog is titled, "Back to Square One," I guess I should at least address the topic, right? Otherwise, it's like ignoring a really big, orange giraffe in the room. At nearly 15 weeks, I have to say this pregnancy hasn't really come close to being anything like my previous two. My first was with twins. I like to think that says I'm something of an over-achiever or at least a great multi-tasker -- possibly even proof of a hidden talent. ("Hey! I can split an egg!") It's probably more the case of God showing that, along with His almighty power, he also has a really good sense of humor. Despite what people say, my multiple pregnancy wasn't filled with overly exaggeraged symptoms. I had a few waves of nausea and was really tired early on, but that was about it. I felt great, and spent almost an entire summer laying on the sofa in the A/C, watching HGTV. With my second pregnancy, I don't even think I had so much as a hiccup. The only problem was with how low the baby was, and the intense pelvic pain that caused near the end. This pregnancy, however, ... quite different. I'd say the first 10 weeks or so were spent in that area of queasiness where you either want to throw up or die. The problem is that you do neither one. Ick. Our family trip to Florida fell in this time frame. Good times. I managed to hold it together, despite one reeeeeeeeeally close call while grocery shopping at Wal-Mart. Of course, since things were so drastically different, I naturally assumed that meant this baby was drastically different from the others, meaning... a girl. NOPE! Apparently my hidden talent isn't splitting eggs, it's birthing boys. At least I won't be surprised by anything new. I'm used to dealing with the "outdoor plumbing," so to speak.
The big adjustment will be with the other five kids. Jeff and I were quite satisfied with being a family of seven, especially since the youngest, Sam, is six-and-a-half and self-sufficient (for the most part). We liked the idea that we could just pick up and go somewhere without having to lug around diaper bags, toys, a stroller, etc. We also liked the idea of fitting perfectly into the Uplander he bought. Seven people? No problem... seven seats! Now, however, we'll be a family of eight. And while it's a nice, even number (terrific pairings for roller coasters and go-karts) we just can't figure out which older kid is going to have to be bungee corded to the top of the car. Kidding. But we have faced the reality that if we want to go anywhere as a family, we'll be in two cars for the time being.
Personally, the adjustment will have to do with putting my body through another pregnancy (I hope it holds up!), nursing a baby around the clock, keeping up with the other kids and housework, etc. Luckily, in addition to being my best friend, Jeff is an amazing help -- he can run a houseold like no one's business, including cooking. Oh... my... gosh... can he ever cook! ButI digress... with both of us running the house, that leaves precious few minutes to spend together each day. Thankfully, we know how important that time is, and we treasure it so much.
But with all the changes, adjustments and juggling, I can't imagine doing anything differently right now. So, here we are... back to square one with a baby on the way. Remember what I said in the other post about facing these things with a sense of humor? Yeah. We're all about that right now. And you've got a front-row seat... lucky you! :) Sit back and enjoy the ride with us!

Monday, September 22, 2008

09.22.08 -- Welcome, Autumn!

Happy first day of fall! Today marks the beginning of my favorite season. It's all about pumpkins, crunchy leaves and clear, crisp days from here on out!

If you've had a chance to peruse the two posts from my archives, I hope you're laughing and haven't decided to NOT read anymore. I learned a long time ago the key to getting through each day without pulling all my hair out was to laugh about it. If it wasn't funny at the time, give it a day or so, ... or tell a good friend. It'll get funny — or at least bearable. I promise. I am living proof. This is a great opportunity to give a shout of thanks to friends Jenn and Stephanie K. and Stephanie H. for being there either via email or in person to share kids' antics or vent about something until it becomes funny. THANK YOU, LADIES! :)

Last, but certainly not least ... I cannot post this entry without correcting a huge, GLARING error in my inaugural post last week. I was giddy with excitement at the fact I actually completed the task of getting a blog established. For me, this is like finding the cure for malaria or discovering penicillin. I'm technologically educated enough to be dangerous on a computer... as in, I'll likely do something wrong and accidentally wipe out my hard drive. Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I'm not far from it. But I digress... I was so excited to have a blog, and I'd written my little "Welcome!" message. I texted my husband to have him read it and see what he thought. When I received a message back reading, "Hmmm. It's missing something," it hit me immediately. Here I had mentioned all the kids and neglected to mention him by name. It wasn't a snub on purpose ... just me being, well... me. So, JEFF, this is for you. I won't even default to using the ol' "DH" ("dear hubby") in future posts, either, JEFF. You are much more than just a DH. JEFFREY, JEFFREY, JEFFREY... what would I do without you? You are my best friend, wonderful person, terrific dad... the list could go on and on, JEFF.

Are we getting the picture here? :)

Seriously, Jeff is a great guy, and deserved to be mentioned by name from the get-go. Sorry for the omission, Honey. I've learned my lesson.

Another good one from the archives

Poop-a-Palooza ’04 (originally published July 2004)

Summer was just beginning, and I found myself having a wee bit of trouble adjusting to my new schedule—no three-day-a-week-preschool activities to keep my two nearly 5-year-old boys happy and distracted from antagonizing their two-and-a-half year old brother. However, I embraced the thought that I’m perfectly capable of handling just about anything, if I could just find the humor in the situation.
One afternoon, I scheduled a trip to the park for lunch with another mom and her three-year-old twins sons. Turning five little boys loose on the playground is always a good idea.
We arrived at the park, had lunch and proceed to let the boys run wild. About an hour later, one of my twins has a slight "bodily function accident," which sent us packing for home in search of a clean pair of underwear. Both boys were fully toilet-trained by this time, however one had been experiencing a minor setback with his bathroom habits —he would find himself so thoroughly engrossed with playing outdoors that he would neglect paying attention to his "urges." It was our current mini-crisis, and we attempted to deal with it in stride, making it clear that his choice was unacceptable while cushioning his fragile psyche. But I digress…
We got that mess cleaned up (literally) and proceeded with our afternoon. My husband arrived home early from work to do yard work, so the boys and I headed out to the back yard to play. Soon, though, I noticed the “accident prone” son ostracizing himself from our happy little group. This, as I had quickly learned, is one of the tell-tale signs that he's shirking on his bodily responsibilities. I called him on it, and he immediately denied any wrong-doing, then began to cry which made me feel horrible. I mean, here I was, basically calling him a liar; I thought I’d hurt his feelings. However, I quickly discovered this was not quite so — he was crying because I was right.
Another fine mess… so to speak.
We handled that clean-up detail, and trooped back outside to play. My husband, in the meantime, finished the yard work, so I headed inside to get dinner ready. (On that particular evening, we were having "Family Burger"—which is a huge hamburger nestled in an equally huge bun, cut up into wedges for everyone to share. (You might be thinking, "And this is relevant…why…?” but the dinner menu plays into the latter part of this epic.)
So, I was in the kitchen, keeping an eye on the boys outside, when I noticed the two-and-a-half year old acting peculiar—lifting his shirt and trying to pull his shorts down. And it looked like he'd tried to remove his diaper without having removed his shorts. Very bizarre… even by two-and-a-half-year-old standards.
I immediately bolted outside. The last thing I needed was a naked toddler running around the back yard in front of God and everyone. Just as I got out the door, though, the other five-year-old came blazing up to me, "talkingthisfast.” I distinctly heard the word “poop” in his blurry dialogue. I walked out to discover his twin standing under the wooden playset, naked from the waist down, looking too guilty for words. It seems he’d had another "incident" and thought (in, I think, a brilliant manner for a pre-schooler) that he'd ditch the evidence in the grass. Something along the lines of, "Maybe Mom and Dad will just think it's the dog’s."
In trying to avoid losing my mind in front of the entire neighborhood, I ordered all children into the house through clenched teeth. I decided to leave the “evidence” right where it was for the moment, and deal with it after cleaning him up. A few minutes later, my husband came in the house and — not knowing what had just transpired in the back yard — let our rambunctious Yellow Lab, Mosby, outside. This dog — as if led by some kind of bizarre "poop radar" — zeroed in on the offensive material and dive-bombed it, smearing it from his furry doggy chin to his furry doggy chest.
Keep in mind, dinner is stuck in mid-prep stage.
After learning of his inadvertent transgression, my husband felt bad about letting the dog out, and promptly went out front to get the grill going for dinner. I find myself at this point trying to regain my composure, and desperately try to see the lighter side of this debacle.
It became blatantly obvious that I could not leave our poop-smeared dog outside much longer. He was yelping and barking, pleading to be let inside — undoubtedly disrupting our neighbors’ peaceful dinners. I had no choice but to fill a bucket and give him a quick, makeshift sponge bath on the patio. This is the only time he appeared even the slightest bit sheepish about the whole incident. As I cleaned him up, I realized he was still emitting an overwhelmingly strong odor. I removed his collar to discover a majority of the aforementioned poop lodged underneath the collar — sort of a "poop pendant," if you will. Completely grossed out, I made a mental note to buy a new collar.
OK... with a clean dog, I re-entered the house, thoroughly disinfected my hands and tried once more to finish preparing dinner. My husband, by this time, had taken the mega-burger outside to the grill. It wasn’t too long before he reappeared with the cooked burger… in about a half-dozen pieces. This was not his fault, and I had no idea why in the world it disintegrated. At this point, though, I could care less. We could still shove it into the mega-bun and eat it, which we did. About a minute later, however, we realized the middle portion of the burger wasn’t done. I do NOT do pink hamburger. I immediately whipped into a frenzy, snatching away the boys’ dinner plates. They were understandably confused, and probably completely convinced their mother had gone insane, as they watched me fire hot dogs into the microwave like I was standing on the free-throw line.
By now, though, they had lost complete interest in eating dinner—not because of the disgusting chain of events that had taken place, but simply because their attention spans simply couldn’t hold out that long. Instead, they created a moderate level of chaos, which occupied them enough to not notice the dog was systematically swiping hot dogs from their plates. How could he have possibly passed up a rare, self-serving opportunity such as this? He may have been damp and stinky… but certainly nobody’s fool.
Somehow, I finally found the humor in the whole afternoon as I knelt down under the table beside him, to gently dab ketchup from the corner of his mouth.

An oldie... but a goodie!

How Was YOUR Weekend? (originally published June 2007)

Let me begin by saying I hope everyone had lovely weekends, because you are about to embark on a voyage through my own living hell. I've discovered if I share these things with people who understand the tragedies and traumas seem to take on a more humorous slant. It may take a while for my brain to accept it, but it helps the process. So, grab a cup of coffee or snack. Here goes.

The boys and I had a really rocky end of the week. From about Wednesday (when we picked up the new car), it's like we've all been tap-dancing on each others' last nerve. If it isn't Jack and Charlie pummeling each other, it's Sam in their faces instigating problems. Of course, all of these situations do nothing for Mom's mood. In an effort to promote some positive, goodwill between the four of us, I sprang for Dairy Queen after their game Friday night. Saturday dawned with the promise of a new day and new, ice-cream bribed good behavior.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

I spent a majority of the morning cleaning like a crazy person, simply because I'd neglected to keep up with everything late last week. We had a graduation open house to attend @ 3, so around 2, I hopped in the shower so we could get there (reasonably) on time. I am just out of the shower when Sam comes up to tell me "there's something weird going on with my car." Sam's developed this quirky little game lately, where he tells me something is "wrong" then when I go to check it out, he gives me "Ha-ha, gotcha!" So, as neglectful as it sounds... I blew it off. The second time he came up with the same line, I threw on my clothes and ran my dripping-wet head downstairs. I heard him mumble something like, "I'm sorry I broke your window." Then I notice he's on the verge of tears; yet still I run to the garage, telling myself that any minute, he'll give me the "Ha-ha, gotcha!"

Again, I couldn't have been more wrong.

It appears “stone-throwing” was on his agenda for the day. And somehow a stone got thrown waaaaaaaaaaaay too close to the car. And shattered the back windshield. We're not talking a point of impact and cracks radiating out... nope... it's actually shattered into a million little pieces--held together (thankfully) by the safety glass film. Having had a stressful few days already with the boys, I immediately burst into tears and ran back into the house. Sam, seeing me do this, also bursts into tears and runs into the house, not stopping until he reaches his closet where he chooses to hide out for a while. I think I hyperventilated for about a minute-and-a-half before I could finally pull myself together. I found Sam and assured him I still loved him very much, but Mom was very, very upset at the moment. Now we must fast-forward a couple of hours or so to the point at which I allowed the boys back outside (once it w as clear we weren't going to be able to drive anywhere safely). I had given them explicit and specific instructions to stay away from the window, the car in general... they were to leave it all alone. I believe my words were something like, "Don't look at it, don't touch it, don't breathe on it... don't even think about the car. Just stay away." Then I hear a noise that sounds very much like a car door shutting. I heard it a few more times as I headed to the garage, and found young Charlie opening and slamming the back passenger door, in (what I believe to be) an effort to get the shattered window to crumble and fall into the car. Of course, he's performing this fantastic trick for not only his brothers, but two neighbor girls. Amazingly, I ordered him into the house and avoided turning into a screaming banshee. That was around 5 o'clock, and he proceeded to follow me around the house for the next 60 minutes pleading to go back outside and play -- in a variety of formats: whining, crying, shouting, etc. Needless to say, he didn't see so much as a blade of grass the rest of the evening.

So, today, I woke up thinking it's got to get better, right? Do I even need to say it? Sure, what the heck... I couldn't have been more wrong. Yet again.

We dealt with each other marginally well most of the day as I finished some cleaning chores from yesterday (of course, we didn't make it to church since even the lightest rainfall would have wreaked havoc on the car window). Right now, though, as I look around the room, it doesn't even look like I did any cleaning since we were sequestered indoors all day. In desperation, I bought a movie on PayPerView, which kept them quiet and occupied for a while. While I was upstairs putting laundry away, I heard Charlie in the kitchen, and quickly shooed him out since he's developed a nasty habit of trying to steal my beloved diet Cherry Coke. A little while later, I opened the refrigerator only to find a little brown puddle on one of the shelves, which has trickled down to the shelf below and collected in a HUGE puddle under the produce drawers on the bottom. Apparently, Charlie was caught in mid-heist of a DCC, so he put it back in the box. Unfortunately, he'd already started t o open it, and when he put it back in the box (horizontally) it slowly emptied in the fridge. I made him help with the clean up. Good times.

At another point of the afternoon, Jack and Sam got into a scuffle, and Jack stood there repeatedly smacking him. I then asked him if he thought Sam liked being smacked, and asked how he liked it as I repeatedly swatted him on the arm (not hard, naturally, but I'm sure it was annoying). He looks at me and says, "You're abusing me!" My immediate "thought bubble" was "Oh, no you di'int." I very quietly, calmly but sternly informed him he has no place to make that kind of accusation, and he will never utter those words again. Thankfully, he sought me out about five minutes later, and apologized for what he said. I said, "Jack, you know the difference between what I did and abuse, don't you?" He said yes, and was like, "I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry." That's all I need right now.

After dinner, I finally let them outside. The girl from next door was out playing with the granddaughter of a couple across the way. Both girls are about 9 or 10 and very sweet -- and I give them credit for putting up with the boys and their often-obnoxious behavior. About a half-hour later, I see the boys run through the screened-in porch and come in the house. I noticed it was raining, and figured they just had the good sense to get indoors rather than playing in it. Then the doorbell rings. It's the grandmother from across the street. She asked to speak with me outside for a minute, away from the boys. We've gotten to know each other a little bit, and she's very nice, so I wondered what was up. She told me the girls were really upset/crying because one of the boys said something mean to Alexis (who happens to be half African-American)... something along the lines that he "didn't like her because she's got dark skin." I was absolutely mortified. I mean, where the HELL did he come up with that? We talked for a few minutes, and she was so sweet about it; she said she knew he didn't mean it, but it still hurt Alexis' feelings and she thought I'd want to know. I thanked her for telling me, and assured her this was completely unacceptable behavior from the boys. Meanwhile, I hear the boys running around the house, whooping it up and having a grand ol' time while I was standing outside. This, of course, adds to my embarrassment, because now not only do I have a neighborhood-known vandal/juvenile delinquent, but also a pint-sized racist living with me, and they're showing NO remorse for their transgressions. I came back in the house and lined the boys up on the couch. Of course, they're all like, "We didn't do anything!" but when the full story came out, the girls had initiated a "game" where they asked the boys to choose who they liked better of the two. Charlie happened to choose one girl (our neighbor) and the other asked him why he didn't choose her. He answered her with, "I don't know... because you've got dark skin." I think he was just randomly choosing a difference between the girls, who happen to be about the same size and wear glasses. He simply had no idea what kind of statement it made. I mean, the boys have played with both girls a zillion times last summer, and race has never been an issue they even know about. After we were done talking, I marched them across the parking lot so they could apologize to the girls. The grandmother was out there too, and after they mumbled their apologies, I told them all that Charlie didn't mean what he said at all, and that he didn't realize how bad it was to say that.

I wanted to die. I mean... bring on the huge, gaping hole in the earth and swallow me right up. Please.

Somehow I managed to live, and got through the remainder of the evening without another incident. I drowned my sorrows in a bag of popcorn and Diet Cherry Coke after they went to bed. My splitting headache had pretty much gone away, and I headed to bed myself with the Sunday crossword puzzle to relax before passing out from sheer exhaustion.

I forgot to mention, on Saturday (prior to the car incident) as I was knee-deep in laundry downstairs, Jack came down and announced quite matter-of-factly, "Charlie just said 'f**k.'"

After I re-started my heart and picked my jaw up off the floor, we had a lovely conversation, during which I discovered one of their school buddies had been teaching them new and interesting words yet again at recess. Charlie had no idea that not only was this a bad word, it just happened to be the GRANDMOTHER of all bad words. Let’s just say he’s now up to speed on where we stand on dropping the “f-bomb.”

Come to think of it, it's pretty ironic that he made his debut saying the word just hours before I was mentally screaming it after the window was smashed. You know, I’ve often quoted Clark W. Griswold from "Christmas Vacation," following his Christmas Eve tirade against his cheapskate boss, but it's always so appropriate..."Halleluja, holy shit, where's the Tylenol?" This was such an occasion.

The next morning, in an effort to keep my wits about myself, and further learn to take things in stride, I brewed a cup of tea from the Tazo line, called "Calm." The copy on the teabag pouch reads... "A single cup of Tazo Calm has been known to have the same effect as sitting for 45 minutes in a mountain meadow on a sunny day with your shoes off." I’m thinking of asking them to change it to, "A single cup of Tazo Calm has been known to have the same effect as throwing back 16 tequila shots in the middle of the afternoon as a more socially-acceptable alternative to beating your children who have succeeded in shredding your very last workable nerve over a span of several days by fighting, arguing, cursing, causing rampant mass destruction on innocent vehicles and throwing out errant racial slurs to unsuspecting little girls while you wait for a giant hole in the earth to swallow you up and take you away from the misery... with your shoes off."