Gentlemen…!

Despite how I refer to the Terrors here on the Blahg, in real life, when I need to summon them I yell:

“Gentlemen…!”

I’ve had a few people comment, mostly family, who thought that was really sweet. Of course, my tone often means the opposite, but I say it anyway.

My goal has always been to raise gentlemen, so I thought it couldn’t hurt making them assume they already were gentlemen, so they damn well better act like them.

As all of you with kids know, they save their worst behavior for us. That makes it hard to gauge how they are doing in the manners department.

When our lovely bus driver came up to me the other day I was worried for a moment. We’re they screaming obscenities? Which one was the problem?

She told me a story about the Rookie, who is often accused of hitting his oldest brother on the bus. But this story was about his behavior with his seat mate.

Apparently, he sits with a kindergardener most days. The bus driver explained that every day, when the little heathens start to stampede off the bus, the Rookie steps out into the aisle. He stops the heaving throng and makes sure his friend gets into the aisle and off the bus without getting trampled. The bus driver assures me that in all her years she’s never seen a kid that young display such manners on the bus.

Fist pump

Yes!!

My Two Cents

My friend brought an amazing blog about motherhood to my attention: A Letter to My Pregnant, Child-Less Self. I was laughing so hard, I almost peed myself (due to my compromised pelvic floor).

Since I know someone about to enter the motherhood club for the first time, I thought I would add a few thoughts of my own.

1. You are fucked. No decision you make will ever be right again. It doesn’t matter how trivial you think the decision is, someone else will think you should be turned into DFS for it. Don’t have that glass of wine, runny cheese or sushi at dinner, because you could do serious damage to your abdominal hitch hiker. Women in Japan and France have those every pregnant day – you are over-reacting. Drug free labor? You are a masochist. Epidural? You are doping up your precious baby. If you breast feed people at the restaurant will complain about your lack of modesty. If you bottle feed, passers by will make snarky comments about how selfish you are. Haven’t you given them solids yet?/ ITS TOO SOON TO BE GIVING THEM SOLIDS! In the end you have to just remember that the only person the kids will blame for being messed up when they’re older is you, not the woman at Target who swore you can not under any circumstances give them a hot bath. Make your decisions and stick with them.

2. Be ready to get wet. If there is one thing babies are its viscous. Fluids ooze out of every available orifice with alarming frequency and speed. The little buggers can poop out their body weight, sending it up their back out their collar and down through their leg holes. Baby wipes will be the most important thing in your world. I still have them in the house, and the Rookie is eight. They poop out, spit up, vomit, urp, pee and drool, sometimes all at once. No amount of modern chemistry can make something to contain it all. Don’t buy any white clothes and stock up on burp cloths. Don’t get the cute skinny embroidered ones either. Invest in the largest, most absorbent ones you can find. I think they should make ponchos out of the stuff, but nobody asks me.

3. Don’t bother sleeping now. It’s not like chocolate, you can’t hoard it and save it for later. The only thing sleeping as much as you can now will accomplish is make you miss it more when its gone. What might be useful is practicing getting no sleep. Try to go forty eight hours with three hours of horizontal sleep, three separate 20 minute naps in a seated position, and one snooze while standing at the sink. Practice makes perfect, right?

4. Get the DH involved. He won’t do it like you do. He won’t put the diapers on right. Why would anyone hold a bottle like that? Those are not the pants that go with that onsie. Why is the baby in the Bjorn backwards? Of course your spouse (and I’m picking husband because of personal experience) won’t be nearly as devoted a parent as you are, in your mind at least. Its easy to believe your own press on this one, and Lord knows all new moms could fill up tomes with complaints about their partner in conception. Yes, it is often easier and faster to do it yourself, but make Daddy at least give precious a bath once and a while. Sure, the water will be too hot, he’ll use too much soap, and you’ll just have to bathe the little ooze machine again as soon as Daddy isn’t looking. Even though he is doing it wrong, let him do it. Everyone involved will (someday) be glad you did.

5. Listen to everyone’s advice. Ignore most of it. Learn to smile and nod and never try to defend what horrible mistake you are making (no stocking cap? In JULY?!). They never have to know you are ignoring them. But do listen. Every now and then a kernel of something worth knowing will pop out of the least likely person. One of my best mommy tricks came from – no, don’t say it – my Mother in Law.

No one does this perfectly, we all just do the best we can. Relax, keep your hands and feet inside, but do enjoy the ride.

The Comfort of Boys…

I have been a bit stressed lately. It is nothing major, just me over-reacting to things going on in my world.

Anyway, when I stress out, I don’t eat, and I don’t sleep. And if you know me you know that these are two things I normally do with fantastic ease and gusto. The eating doesn’t bother me so much, but the lack of sleep is KILLING me. I am a bit grumpy on a good day, without sleep I am like a loaded gun. I’m snapping at the kids, flying off the handle at the smallest provocation. Fun for the whole family.

Last night I did much better. I give all the credit to the Terrors.

The last week or so I’ve been up until the wee hours of the morning in that silent mind-racing dialogue that makes one crazy. I was unable to nap during the day, so I was quite the peach, let me tell you.

Last night Big J was still awake when we headed up to bed. The DH invited him in to watch a little tv before going to bed. I noticed right away that I was calmer. Maybe it is something about needing to be stress-free for the kids, or maybe it was just having someone awake to engage with while my body got used to the idea of going to bed. All I knew was that I slept like a baby, falling asleep before 11:00 for the first time in a while. I would have made it through to morning if it weren’t for the wee-hours arrival of the O Man. He hopped in and even though I was so smooshed I couldn’t even roll over I fell right back to sleep. The Rookie, not to be left out, got up super early and showed up only to be turned away for lack of space. Perhaps they could sense that I needed some supplemental snuggles. Perhaps my stress was making them stressed as well, so they couldn’t sleep. Perhaps it was just a happy accident.

The DH HATES it when the kids sleep in our bed. He hated it when they were infants and he would stress about rolling over on them. He hated it when they were munchkins and there was a risk of bed-wetting. He hates it now because the Rookie refuses to sleep under the covers, J is like sleeping with a furnace, and the O Man is both a snuggler and a sideways sleeper.

I LOVE it when the Terrors snuggle up to me for the night. There is nothing better than hearing them try to pad silently into the room. They stand at the side of the bed and give me those puppy-dog eyes and ask in their most pathetic voice “can I sleep in here?”. If they knew how much I loved it they would just wait to hear the DH’s snores and all pile in.

I see it as something that is slipping away from me more and more each day. They already won’t abide public hugs or kisses. I see the private displays of affection getting less palatable for them as well. It is a necessary transition on the road to making them little men, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Now that I appear to have an excuse to have them in the bed, I’m going to run with it for a while. The DH will grumble and moan and wonder why HIS presence in the bed isn’t enough to calm me. But I’m going to run with my new sleep aid…after all, it’s cheaper than an Ambien prescription…

 

I’m Beginning to Think It’s Me

For reasons I don’t quite comprehend, my clothing are up and disappearing on me one by one.

First, it was a pair of grey pants. I loved those pants. Not enough to realize they were missing until I saw another pair just like them, but now that I remember them, I miss them a lot. I have checked the closet, the bookcase and the pile on the floor under the chair.  Nothing.

Before those pants were discovered missing, I lost a brand new still-has-the-tags-on-it shirt. It wasn’t particularly expensive or impressive, but I put it on the “not dirty but not exactly clean either I’ll get to it later” chair, and it is gone.  Poof. Like it never existed.

The last straw was this morning. All of the lycra had disintegrated out of my former lap suit (may it rest in peace), so I bought a new one. Nothing fancy, just a suit from Costco because I want an Ugly Suit but am, as of this writing, too expansive to fit into one.  The Speedo was to be my stop-gap. Go to throw it in the gym bag this morning and it is nowhere to be found.  Immediately I blame the DH, but he honestly hasn’t seen it.

I don’t know if there is some rave for clothing raging in an undisclosed location in my house, but I cannot for the life of me find my missing clothes. I can’t imagine anyone else wearing/taking them because 1. they wouldn’t fit anyone else and 2. the rest of the household are all male (especially this one for the bathing suit).

So now I will be forced to go through all my clothes: the entire bookcase (yes, I keep my clothes in a bookcase, think about it and it makes way more sense than a dresser), the closet, the children’s closet, and the dresser (for things I don’t like to bother folding). While this might be a boon for Goodwill, it means hours of toil for me.

Bugger.

At least the DH is home to help me cough, cough, cough.

 

I’m Back

Can’t blame anyone who had given up on me.  Sorry for the huge gap.  It isn’t as if nothing has happened:  O-man took a misstep in his spelling bee (spelled howl beautifully, but the word was hobbled), J had his very first orchestra concert (not as cringe-inducing as one might have thought), the boys made dinner one night (fried bologna, scrambled eggs, strawberries, carrots, and pistachios), and the Golden Globes were on (have not watched them yet, so don’t tell me who won). Then there was also the ground-swaying news that you are no longer supposed to put two spaces after a period. I am struggling. Struggling!

The most recent thing to happen in my world was baseball signups. Every year, in the bowels of winter, the OPYB/S association makes us haul our collective asses to a park district building, utility bill and birth certificates in hand, to make sure the Terrors all get a spot on some poor, unsuspecting Coach’s roster.

The older boys had to choose between try out ball, and the “non competitive” league. That always makes me laugh, because if there is one thing all baseball is, it is competitive.  The nice thing about the “n-c” league is that when J said he wanted to try catching last year, his coach let him catch.  That would almost NEVER happen in the try out league.  So, I prefer they play ball for fun.  Plus, this will almost guarantee that they’ll be on the same team.

The real surprise this year was the Rookie.  I was asking the older Terrors which league they wanted to be in, and he proclaimed that he wasn’t playing tball this year.  He was playing soccer.  After the older two revived me I had a nice little talk with the Rookie about how it would be the same Coach, and almost all the same kids.  I gave him a rousing pep talk and he said he would play this year, but that was it.

How he can share my genetic material and not want to play baseball is beyond me. It is America’s game.  It is the hands down best reason for being outside with a beer and a hot dog. And for every time it breaks your heart, it lifts you up again. Soccer…not so much.

The real problem with the Rookie skipping t ball is that I would miss my friends. I look so forward to seeing all the Moms and Dads that it would break my heart to know that they were watching and socializing without me.  What if the soccer Moms looked down on bringing sangria to the evening games?  What if all of them only cared about watching the game?  Who would I talk to?  I don’t know squat about soccer, and I worry I am too old to learn a new sport.  I simply couldn’t bear to have one of the children know more about something than I do, not yet.  No, that must not happen.

I talked him into just the one last year of t ball.  I know it was selfish.  If you could see me now you would see my head hanging in shame.  But in the end he won’t even remember he wanted to play soccer. And it means so much to me.  Aren’t I worth it?

The Magnificence

The lovely women who photographed my brother’s wedding (Emily Takes Photos) has put up a year end montage of her favorite pictures on her blog.  There are several from my brother’s beautiful wedding.  But there is one in particular that caught my eye:

In case you don’t recognize it instantly (as I did), that is the O-man’s ass.   Needless to say, he was not as thrilled as I was to make the highlight reel.  I tried to point out that he is in his best pair of pants, and that he obviously has amazing bocce technique, but  he wasn’t buying what I was selling.

I have starting referring to his most glorious ass as “The Magnificence”.  To make matters worse, I am, of course, showing all of you and pointing out to whom it belongs.

Hey, if he can’t take a little good natured ribbing…

A Lack of Tradition

Shine is having this “become a mom guru blogger” contest thingie and I thought for a second about throwing in my two cents.  I am a mother.  Sometimes people ask me for advice.  Why not?

“Write a blog post about one of your family traditions”.  I racked my brain and then collapsed from exhaustion.

We do a lot together, my terrors and I, but no traditions intentional or otherwise leap to mind.

I tried taking a picture of them with the same stuffed animal every year to chart their growth.  That died when the dog ate poor Dopey.

I used to buy them new PJ’s every year for Christmas Eve.  Now, however, they prefer to sleep in just their boxer briefs (which I have to say I prefer as well).

We all pile into my bed when the DH is out of town.  But I hate to think that my only family tradition excludes a very important member of my family.

The moral of this story, if you could consider this a story, is that we don’t really have any traditions.  I refuse to feel guilt.  I would rather have a rain barrel full of spontaneous memories anyway.

Why Do They Keep Calling Me “Mom”?

I will never win Mother of the Year.

hand up in the “Stop! in the Name of Love” position

Please…please, stop protesting.  Hear me out.

I am well aware of my limitations as a mother.  That is probably a good thing, since that way I can try to get better at this whole parenting gig.  I know that letting them play video games for 4 hours straight is probably pushing the bounds of proper.  I realize that telling my sons to “grow a pair” isn’t necessarily a good thing.  But isn’t the first step to solving a problem admitting you have one?

All of this brutal honesty has been brought about by a three martini play date.  There were some moms I knew there, but had never really talked to before.  I admitted to said moms that when the boys begin to make me insane, I will often indulge in a babysitter day.

This is not when you actually call a babysitter.  Hiring someone to watch your children while you putter around your house is expensive and, frankly, a little embarrassing (unless you have multiples or 7 kids or something).

I may have talked about this before, but a babysitter day is when you let yourself off the parenting hook and just be with your kids for a day.  You might think that you do that a lot, but you don’t.

For me it involves relaxing the rules and pretending that long term goals are for overachievers.  It means letting them eat sugary snacks without worrying about whether or not I am ruining them nutritionally for life.  I don’t monitor their Wii time.  I don’t care that they are outside in their boxer briefs and peeing in the backyard.  Basically, I ignore them unless a trip to the ER seems imminent.  I putz around on the computer, I dilly dally, I might even take a very short nap (with all the doors locked and strong assurances that no one will leave the house or try to use the stove).

It can be wonderfully recharging.  Sometimes I am my best mother self when I am actually letting myself be the babysitter.  Babysitters don’t have to pay bills, drop off dry cleaning, organize the photos, fold laundry or tidy up, do they?  See where I’m going with this?

So make it a plan.  One day this summer break, just let yourself be the babysitter and see what happens.

Disclaimer:  I am not saying that I think babysitters are slackers.  I have Kathrine the Wonder Sitter, and I am sure she does more with my kids in four hours than I do in a week.

Happy Mother’s Day

I usually just post the “Boys Taking the Picture” YouTube clip for Mother’s Day.  This year, however, I’m going to mix things up a bit.

The DH came home the other night after having drinks with a friend.  We had brunch with her once a few years ago, so she had not only the pleasure of meeting me, but the terrors as well.  The DH said that she had just quit her job.  She wanted to be more at peace with her life and her role and responsibilities as a mother.  “Y’know, just like your wife.”

Sorry… wiping away tears of laughter.  The LAST thing I usually feel is “at peace”.

So in honor of Douglas, my neighbor who kept me from killing the children when they were young by sharing his back yard and pumping me full of Diet Coke and pizza I am rerunning one of his favorite posts:

MOTHER OF THE YEAR NOMINATION FORM

To:  The Mother of the Year Nomination Committee

Thank you for forwarding me the nomination form for Mother of the Year.  I can’t imagine what you were smoking when you decided to send this to me.  But since the children are not in the midst of killing either each other or the dog, and the chilli mac is simmering for its 14 minutes on the range, I will go ahead and humor you.

NUMBER AND AGES OF CHILDREN:

I have three boys.  Yup.  Three.  Boys.  I am sure you are making that face…the one that expresses your shock and awe that a mere mortal could handle such an affliction.  That is usually followed by the “I feel sorry for you” head tilt.

Their ages are old enough to be on the potty but not old enough to drive.  Which means this award should really be for Chauffeur of the Year.   I had all three of them within the span of 4 years.  I am a reproductive overachiever.  My husband and I won’t even share a toothbrush anymore.

TELL US YOUR GLORIOUS BIRTH STORY

When you push a ham through a sausage casing we’ll see who thinks “glorious” is still a good adjective.

WHAT IS YOUR MOTHERING STYLE

Whatever is working that day.  I have tried the naughty chair, the time out, bribery, appealing to their sense of fair play, yelling, hollering, and benign neglect.  None seem to work.

WHAT IS YOUR DAILY GOAL FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN

Survival.  If they all go to bed alive I celebrate with champagne.

TELL US SOME OF YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS AS A MOTHER

Well, there was the time the oldest stepped on the youngest’s hand with his ice skates on.  Or the time the middle child opened the oldest’s head with a launched Hot Wheel.  He walked through the house with blood running down his elbows because I didn’t believe he was really that hurt.  No, I think my favorite was when I threw a pair of socks in anger and pelted one of the boys with them.   Oh wait, I forgot about the time  I closed my oldest’s thumb in the door, and then slammed the door harder because it wouldn’t shut.  But then there was also the day where they had McDonalds for lunch AND dinner, because I was just too lazy to cook.

Speaking of cooking, there is all the shameful crap I feed them on a consistent basis:  pop tarts, fruit roll ups, donuts, potato chips, soda, Kid Cuisine, frozen waffles, fast food…the list is really endless.  I have one that won’t eat meat or starch, one that won’t eat anything but meat and starch, and one that likes chilli for breakfast.  If you know any good organic nitrate-free recipes that will work for this lot, feel free to forward them to me so I can ignore them.

HOW DO YOU TEACH YOUR CHILD(REN) SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS

We put change in the Ronald McDonald House charity box.  And when people come to the door to ask us to save the whales or impeach the president, I have taught them to wave no and walk away.  Never answer the door, never!

WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL BEST DAY AS A MOTHER

Babysitter days.  I have always believed that a babysitter has earned her money if I return and the house is not a smoldering ruin and the children are alive.  And there are days when that is all I can manage as a mother.  These are usually my best days because I don’t worry that the back door is blocked by a mountain of laundry.  I don’t care that they are eating olives for lunch.  The little one wants to wear shorts even though there is a winter storm warning?  Why not?  They aren’t my children.  At least not today.

SUM UP WHY YOU THINK YOU SHOULD BE MOTHER OF THE YEAR

If you are looking for the home-schooling, organic buying, saving the world through her penny collection type of mom, well, I don’t even come close.  I slog through each day with the resolve of a platoon leader.  My mother says: “the years go by so fast, but the days can last forever.”  Never were truer words spoken.  But if you want someone who loves her kids with the aggressive fire of a momma bear, who can’t wait to teach them how to throw a curve ball, and will watch and discuss Star Wars ad nauseum…I’m your woman.

Well, the chilli mac is boiling over and the children are playing “let’s try to punch each other in the penis”, so I gotta run.  Good luck with your search.

The Birthday That Wasn’t

For those not in the loop, the DH surprised me for my birthday that shall not be named with a weekend getaway to Paris.  Yes, that Paris.

Mom and my sister and her kids all mobilized to watch my three terrors so DH and I could stroll the streets of Gay Paris.  The DH made it all the way to last Monday without telling me.  Then he wimped out, not for fear that I wouldn’t be ready, but for fear that there would be no food in the house should I need to leave unexpectedly.  Well, the joke was on him, there was no food in the house when we left regardless.

The plan was to escape Friday afternoon, arrive in Paris on Saturday morning, spend two full days enjoying the sights, but mostly the food and wine, and then jet home on Monday.  Easy, right?

We were late getting off to the airport because The Rookie decided not to take the bus the one day I really needed him to.  I couldn’t bare the thought of shoving off overseas without saying goodbye first.  So we waited for Grandma to collect him, gave him a quick snuggle and smooch, and off we went.

Things at the airport went remarkably smoothly…which should have been my first warning sign.  We breezed through security, had a quick bite to eat and boarded exactly on time.

This is where the wheels fell off.  After receiving complimentary champagne… Oh, did I forget to mention that the DH got us upgraded?  We were sitting in our “it will turn into a bed when you are ready” seats enjoying a complimentary beverage, when the captain announces a slight mechanical problem.  Shouldn’t take too long.  Just sit back and relax and we’ll keep you updated.  Great.

One hour

Two hours

Captain says we are shoving off!  A ripple of excitement washes through the plane.  We all refasten our seat belts.  The little vehicle pushes us back from the gate and then

Nothing

The plane won’t start.  You didn’t even get the satisfaction of hearing the starter motor turn without igniting anything.  There was just silence.  DH, a very experienced flyer, noted that we were probably going to need a new plane.  After a half an hour the captain comes on and says that they are going to get us a new plane.  Something has gone horribly wrong and he has never had two unrelated mechanical problems on the same plane before , but holy cow if there isn’t a first time for everything.

Upon exiting the plane, we were given food vouchers.  Again, a bad sign.

Our entire flight ended up at the bar, which couldn’t accept the food vouchers, and we all sat and watched as a line of thunderstorms began its Eastward march towards O’Hare.  Needless to say, the mood was a little dour.

We were told we would board a new plane at a new gate in 45 minutes.  Said gate had not been determined.  Our flight was no longer even listed with the departures on the big screen.

At this point the DH and I are thinking about the hours ticking away in Paris.  If the flight left when they said it would, we would get to the hotel at 1:30 in the afternoon on Saturday.  And there was no way in God’s green that the flight would leave anywhere near the time they said it would.

After much discussion, cursing, phone calls, and more cursing, it was decided that we were not going to have nearly enough time in Paris to make the whole boondoggle worth it.  We would call it a weekend, and try some other time.

The airline managed to find it in it’s heart to give us a refund.  They assured us that we would again see our bags.  We walked out of the airport and headed to a French restaurant downtown.  A night in a hotel and we came home, on my birthday, to pick up our lives where we had left off.

We went to two little league games, we went out to a lovely dinner.  I got a little wasted on Mojitos and the night ended uneventfully in my living room watching SNL.  Not even a cake.

I’m not going to feel sorry for myself.  I have a DH who went through the trouble and expense of planning an amazing weekend for me.  I have a family that is willing to screw around with their lives so that I might enjoy being whisked away.  And as a “consolation prize” I got to spend my birthday with said family and the three terrors that I love more than anything in the world.

Paris, schmaris.