Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The road trip rules

Ah, 'tis the season for packing up and hitting the road. Hours in the car with small children have left me wishing for certain vehicle modifications that should come standard on minivans. They've finally started providing an on-board vacuum and a DVD player. Why haven't they installed a privacy window between the front and back seat (think taxi cabs and limos)? Or an electronic bucket line to ferry snacks to the passengers? Or dividers that deploy around the loudest troublemaker in the back? Or low-voltage shock in the seat controlled from the front for scofflaws? Until then ...
1. No pointing out anything outside the vehicle. Ever. Here's what happens: Someone shouts, "FIRETRUCK." Delayed reaction time plus 65+ MPH on the highway equals tears of "I DIDN'T SEE THE FIRETRUCK" for the next half hour.

2. Visit the pot at every stop. Period. We have one child who always claims she doesn't have to go at a rest stop. A half hour later, she urgently has to go. We stop. She doesn't go. We repeated this routine a few times before we wised up to these phantom pee breaks. I'm tempted to just put all the kids in Pull Ups. 

3. You are not allowed to ask "Are we there yet?" more than once an hour. I'm being generous here. But unless the car is parked in front of our destination, there's really no need to ask.

4. If you drop it, you've lost it. I am not surfing through the back seat at highway cruising speed to fish your apple or your toy car out from under the seat.

5. No one is allowed to look at, touch, pretend to touch, breath on, or talk to each other at a decibel level over 70db. (I have a sound meter on my phone and I will use it!) You'll be issued headphones for the in-flight movie. There is no need to interact with your siblings. At all.

Safe and happy trails, ya'll!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dear Judgy Mom on the Park Bench

I saw you giving me the stink eye as I sat on a bench playing Words with Friends. You think you know me, but you don't. You saw me at the park for an hour looking intermittently at my phone while my kids played and assumed that I am missing special moments with my children.

You know why I don't feel like I'm missing anything right now? Because I spend the other 23 hours of my day watching and talking and wiping and cooking and feeding and snuggling and laughing and teaching and cleaning and just being with my kids and creating that safe, comfortable environment in our home. The tiny window into my life that you glimpsed doesn’t give you enough information to offer “well-intentioned” advice.

Save your faux assurances that you think I'm a good mom. From the 1,000 word guilt trip you posted on your blog, it's clear you think I'm failing my kids by looking at my smart phone at the park or in the carpool line or whenever I have a spare moment and need a distraction from sticky, whiny kids.

Let me tell you why I'm not:
  • Play time at the park is for them, not me. It's a time for them to play independently, make friends, and learn new skills. I will be available as needed. They don't need me to hover over their every move. (And, by the way, thanks for asking my kid if he was okay when he tripped. It looked like a real doozy. I mean, he stumbled for a second and landed on his hands. Thank God you were there to acknowledge his experience.) 
  • Carpool line entertainment for mommy is not neglectful. This is usually the only time I can sit down uninterrupted during the day. What exactly should I be doing with my kids at that time? Singing the alphabet or reading the Constitution to them? It teaches them to amuse themselves while waiting. Not every moment needs to be filled with cognitive stimulation and parental fawning.
  • My kids do not need to see mommy give every last ounce of herself to their well-being. It is okay to tell my fairly self-sufficient 3 year old that I need a break. And guess what? My kids have learned from that. They learn that taking a break from people doesn't mean you value you them any less. They learn that they are not the center of the universe. They learn that you can't be everything to everyone at all times. It's never too early to lovingly teach these lessons. It seems to be working because my 6 year old knows that he needs quiet, alone time daily to be a better son and brother.
So if I want to sit my arse on a park bench for an hour while my kids play on their own, it is not a sign of neglect or misplaced priorities. It's sign that I have a balanced and healthy approach to parenting. And for crying out loud, stop calling me mommy. It just condescending.
(By the way, I can say all this without feeling like a hypocrite because it's been exactly two months since I've posted anything on my blog. I've been busy having an amazing summer with my kids, training for a sprint triathlon and getting my oldest settled into the new school year.)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I am not ...

I am not a tissue. Stop using my legs and shoulders as tissues. Speaking of tissues, they are conveniently located in the bathroom and kitchen.
I am not a trash can. Please put your used boogie wipes, gum, food wrappers, and other assorted refuse in one of the many trash cans conveniently located throughout the house. You know? The trash cans that you like to throw cups, plates and utensils into? Use those. Please.

I am also not a mobile trash can. Do not try to hand me trash while I'm driving. Please hang on to all refuse until we reach our destination. 

I am not a coat rack. Please stop handing me your coat when you are finished wearing it. And did you know that we have three, yes, three coat racks. One at each door. Four if you count the one on the back porch.

I am also not the maid. And since shoes don't magically walk themselves to the shoe basket, please escort them to the nearest shoe receptacle conveniently located by the side and back doors.

I am not your personal valet. You can actually get your own drink from the fridge or even pour it from the nifty Fiestaware pitcher we got for you guys. You also can reach the silverware drawer. Really.  

I am not a GPS. I do not know where your shoes are. Any of your shoes, actually. Did you try the shoe basket or the shoe shelf? No? They're not there? Really? By the way, I don't know where your cup, pants, cars, or stuffed animals are either.

I am not a storage unit. Yes, I know that I have pockets. So do you. Please stop handing me random objects to hold for you. I'm instituting a strict "carry in, carry out" policy.

I am not the fountain of wisdom. I'm flattered that you think I am all knowing and seeing. Sometimes the answer is "I don't know" because truly, I don't know. I don't know what the lady on the radio said while your brother was squawking in the back seat. I do not know what you saw out the window while I was driving.

Who am I then? I am your mother. I kiss boo boos, wipe tears, boogers, and bottoms, feed, read, clothe, cuddle and kiss, chauffeur, launder, and stock the pantry, fridge and freezer.

You're welcome. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013


It is rather ironic that I had more time to write this blog when my kids were younger. There's no shortage of material these days, but when they were younger, the sheer insanity of living with three little maniacs was just more jarring. I remember being in such a constant state of disbelief at what was happening. These days we are quite busy yet we're not one of those families involved in multiple classes, camps and sports. My kids are just busy and curious and talkative and have all sorts of ideas that I have to put the brakes on, such as:

Mom, let's do an idea. How 'bout we drop our shoes from the bathroom window? Fiona asks. Um, no.

Owen, you can't float boats in the toilet, okay, honey?
Why? I really had no answer for that one. It's a bowl full of water. Why wouldn't he float a boat in it? It was easier to explain to his brother a few years ago why dipping his hair in the toilet was gross.

Stop putting green beans in each others' noses, I tell Danny and Fiona.

Don't pee in the kitchen, honey, I tell Owen, who has pulled his little potty into the kitchen.

Owen? Where are you?
Mom, I cleaned the mirror with my [water] gun.

Stop shooting that thing. That thing being a penis. Really.

Mom, I have water on my tongue. I can use it to clean boogers off my shirt, Owen explains cheerfully.

I want mommy to be with me in my green NASCAR, Fiona declares. Sweet! Incidentally, Danica Patrick's car is green.

Do you need a napkin, Owen?
No, I'll use my tongue napkin, he says, licking his face and hands. Clearly, his tongue is so, so useful.

It's fun to play football in the house, Danny squeals. Um, fun for whom?

Where's your gum, honey?
It went down my drain, Owen replies. His drain is his throat.

Mom, why do you have big boobs? Danny asked and then laughed.
Because I had to feed all you guys, I replied as cautiously as possible. I thought maybe we needed to have a talk about our bodies until he followed up with Why do you have a big head? 
Because I have a big brain, I replied.

You can put your shoulder straps on yourself, honey, I tell Owen.
Well, you're three.
Because time moves on, kid. Ah, the age of why has begun.

Why does your leg hurt, mom? Danny asks.
Because I've been running. 
Then don't run away again, he replies.
Owen, you stink, dude.
No, YOU stink, he says, pointing his little finger in my face.

Dead worms are better. They don't squirm, Danny explains to me. The kids are obsessed with worms since Danny's kindergarten class had been studying them. In fact, they went on a worm rescue mission on a recent hike, but alas some were beyond saving. They skipped down the path, singing and pointing, Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead.

Okay, Danny claps his hands together. Potty and bed. I have a big day tomorrow. I have to go to school and I have to finish writing my book. He was writing a book about a NASCAR driver, of course.

Let's play tag, Owen says to the kitty who wandered into our yard. Later, he brought the kitty a football.

I know a new song, mommy, Fiona says. Twinkle, twinkle little poop. And she cackled maniacally.

Mom, Owen just bit me in the ear, Danny wails. It was only 8 a.m. and I have a little Mike Tyson on my hands.

What's two plus two, Fiona?
MOM. Dude, calm down. She doesn't know how to add yet.

Till next time ... hopefully sooner rather than later. Summer vacation is upon us and four days into it, I am exhausted.  

Monday, June 03, 2013

Before I forget ...

So if you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that I am often conflicted and cynical about the Christmas season. And, yes, I'm going to write about Christmas in May -- partly out of the goodness of my heart and partly in order to record for myself what's worked and what hasn't. (Because I guarantee you that I will forget and start listening to the committee in my head in November. Seriously, look at my December archive for any year and you'll find angst. Major angst.)

In six years, I've celebrated seven Christmases with small children. Not a Christmas has gone by where there wasn't a sick child or adult or a crying infant. I've spent the few days before Christmas in doctor's offices and pharmacies, up all night rocking sick children, toting a nebulizer around and even nursing a sick husband one Christmas Eve.

I've learned over the years that holidays and young children don't mix the way they seem to on television. Every time I saw a commercial with clean, well-dressed children without runny noses hanging an ornament or helping mom bake cookies, I wanted to throw something at the television. I instead settled on snorting audibly. The kids loved that. (And it occurs to me just now that's where my 6 year old may have gotten his recent snorting habit.)

This year was remarkably different. I've figured out what works and what doesn't from gift buying to cookie baking to holiday-related outings and simple religious traditions.

1. The problem: Baking Christmas cookies and other treats with small children around. Without losing your mind.
The solution? I commit to making a few treats that I've perfected over the
years. Our favorite are cocoa crinkles. These are super easy with lots of kid-friendly steps. They roll the dough into balls and then roll it in the confectioners sugar. While the cookies are baking, they unwrap the Hershey Kisses (and get to eat some). Once cooked, they press the candy cane kisses into the cookies. They look oh so fancy and making them with the kids doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out. Sugared almonds are another favorite, they make great gifts and I make them in my crock pot. One 3 lb bag of almonds at Sam's Club costs about $10 and yields about 9 cups of these babies. Yes, really. And for a bonus: the crunchy leftover cinnamon sugar that doesn't stick to the almonds is used in other goodies, such as cinnamon breads or oatmeal.

2. The problem: Getting kids to pick out presents for others in the family.
The solution: This year, I got smart. I bought little gifts here and there over a few months before the holidays. I bought most of the items used but in great condition at a local thrift shop. Some things were even brand new. On Christmas Eve I set up a "store" in our bedroom (because expecting them to keep a secret for more than 24 hours is unrealistic!). I gave them each a shopping bag and they picked out something for their siblings and father. They helped wrap and put the gifts under the tree. They were so excited about the process and I didn't have to take them to a department store, pay too much and deal with traffic, parking, and whiny kids. Even in May, they remember what they got from each other. This idea is a keeper, at least for now.  

3. The problem: How to create a meaningful celebration that balances religious and secular tradition.
The solution? Keep it simple. It wasn't until just last month that Danny began to understand our "three gifts" tradition. The way I see it, you're not getting more gifts than Jesus got. You're just not. And, yes, He did get gold, but you're not getting anything nearly that ritzy, 'kay? Now when Fiona starts dictating her Christmas list, Danny quickly reminds her of the three gifts rule. I also bought a simple, ceramic nativity that holds advent candles. The kids love lighting the candles each night and look forward to lighting a new candle each week. 

4. The problem: It seems that parties and outings are expected.
The solution?  They're really not expected. Parties and outings sap rather than enhance my Christmas spirit. I'm your typical introvert and so is most of my family. Santa at the mall? Hell no. Parties? What's that saying about a bull in a china shop? We drive around looking at Christmas lights. This tradition started when they were younger and we desperately needed some space. Belted into car seats was the best we could get. One year, we even came across a guy playing Santa in his front yard. Don't worry, it's not as creepy as it sounds. This past year, we started a new tradition. We went to Boone to visit my brother and his wife and pick out a Christmas tree. The kids got to see Santa and take a hayride on the top of a mountain. It was best weekend trip we've ever had with them.

It's different for everyone, of course, but if you're struggling with how to mix Christmas and young children without breaking out in hives, keeping it simple is the way to go. They won't remember if you don't have a dozen different cookies, but they will remember the simple things. I certainly do. If any of our version of keeping it simple was helpful, you're welcome.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Out of the wilderness

These days I feel as if I've just returned to civilization after the six-year long wilderness camping excursion that was my children's early years.

I now sleep all night long.

I shower several times a week and my legs are shaved with some regularity. I no longer sport a mustache. (You brunettes out there KNOW what I'm talking about.)

The kids leave me alone and play with each other for up to a half hour at a time.

I only wipe one child's bottom on a regular basis. 

My youngest turns three this week. I can see a diaperless, self-dressing future for him from here. Do you know what that means??? I will be able to leave the house without diapers and wipes. I will no longer have to wrestle clothes on a rabid porcupine hell-bent on just not cooperating.

This is a huge milestone.

For years, I've been too tired to maintain all but the most convenient of friendships: neighbors, church friends, family. For years, my appearance, fitness and general health have taken a back seat to my children's needs. For years, I've not made efforts to socialize widely because of the unpredictability of young children and the strong possibility that I'd fall asleep if I sat down anywhere.

My M.O. has primarily been to stick to a kid-centered schedule with as little deviation as possible to achieve the most peaceful environment for all involved, including myself. That has been my way of taking care of myself all these years.

Things are changing, though. At the beginning of the year, I was ready to quit my gym membership. The kids had had runny noses since Thanksgiving and it was impossible to take them to the gym. I thought my membership was up at the end of January. Turns out, it was up at the end of March. An employee there convinced me to stick it out until then and try some group exercise classes.

I then inadvertently walked into one of the toughest classes in the gym, kettlebell twice a week, with a Golden Gloves boxing champion for a trainer. I didn't think about how intimidating it would be to walk into a class alone for the first time. Right away, a few women approached me and encouraged me through my first few weeks. I didn't feel judged or inferior. I didn't have to hide my sense of accomplishment.

Since then, I've become more mindful of my eating habits using a fitness app called My Fitness Pal. I've lost 12 pounds, 7 inches off my waist, 3 inches off my hips and 2 inches off my thighs. And when kettlebell started to get easier, I increased my weights. When that got too easy, I started running.

Now, I used to tell people that if they ever saw me running, they better run, too, because something was chasing me (and it was probably a snotty child). I also used to sit in the breakfast nook in early January watching the newly resolved joggers going by and telling my husband "I wish I liked running."

Well, guess what? I don't like running. I love running. I want to do it every day, but I'm taking it slow to avoid injury. I'm using the Couch to 5K program and listening to podcasts that tell me when to run and when to walk. I'm on week 3. I've run three minutes in a row and didn't feel like dying. I am even considering doing the Rambling Rose Triathlon in October with my best friend and her daughter. Oh, who am I fooling, I will do this. I can do this. It will be special. (Jen, I'm all in!)

All this has opened my eyes to the process of change. Change often happens too slowly for my taste. But the good thing about blogging the way I do is the opportunity it provides to see where I've been, physically, mentally and emotionally. So in the spirit of recognizing change, I give a blast from the past ...

Screaming Uncle (yeah, it's as bad as it sounds!)

Till next time!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


What's it been? Six weeks since my last post? Yeah, I'm getting lazy. Or as a friend pointed out this weekend, it's hard to write when the bucket is empty. Nothing seems out of the ordinary enough anymore to write about. Until suddenly it does.

One day, my sweet daughter came in the kitchen all excited and breathlessly explained to me in about 200 words that she had changed the toilet paper roll all by herself.

All of a sudden Fiona can hit a baseball and Danny can catch a football and Owen, well, um, he's kind of a pain in the bum. So some things take a little longer to change.

Owen is a handful these days. He's loud and belligerent. I've had to wrestle him out of the public eye and into the van, kicking and screaming (him, not me), all the while afraid someone will call the cops thinking the poor child is being abducted. He also truly believes that anything he has touched within the past 30 days belongs to him and no one is allowed to touch, look at or play with that item. Danny summed it up best.

We're having a bad Owen, Danny says. Indeed. I want to remove my eardrums.

He's also exploring the potty. Since he's my third child, I am not touching potty "training" with a ten foot pole. I'm just letting him figure it out. In the mornings and evenings, he often just sits on his little potty which sings when he pees in it or when you push the little button under the pot.

Pee not coming out. I push button and pee will come out. He then proceeds to push the button under the potty fully expecting his pee to come out. Oh, if only it were that easy!

We've also had two more rounds of the stomach bug. Owen was the first to fall.

Look at this, Owen exclaims after throwing up in his hand. He'd never thrown up before. At least he was perky.

I want a marshmallow for dinner, Fiona says after a day of throwing up. I think my stomach can handle a marshmallow.

You have frog in your throat. We got to get it out, Owen exclaims. He was coming at her with a back scratcher. Toddlers are so literal.

Here's a phrase I never, ever thought I'd utter ...

You two stop shooting each other with your penises, I tell the boys. They were running around naked after bath time, wrestling and, well, you know.

And another ...
I going to eat on trash can, Owen tells me as he stumbles around the kitchen with a big bowl of refried beans that he sets atop the trash can.
Don't eat on the trash can. You're not a hobo, I tell him.

And another ...
Stop flipping my flip flop around with a spatula and get in the bathtub. Don't even ask me why there was a spatula on my bedroom floor.

And still another ... 
I swear if you don't settle down I'm going to tie you up. (Hey, I was desperate. My husband was working a double shift on a Saturday and the kids were jacked up.)
Why you going to tie me up, mommy? Owen said sweetly.

I also once threatened to glue their bums to the grocery cart if they didn't stay seated. I think they understand hyperbole better than most children.

Hey, there's popcorn on those trees, Danny says. The white flowers are coming out on the trees. I will probably call them popcorn trees forever now.

What is she saying, mom? Danny asks about a lady on the radio.
I don't know, honey. 
No, you're supposed to know. You're an adult. You know more, he says belligerently.

Look, mom, Owen says as he and Danny are watching the Dukes of Hazzard on YouTube.
No, she doesn't have to look, Owen. It's not her thing, Danny replies.

My kids are obsessed with poop ...

Owen, stop climbing the windows please. (Yes, I actually had to utter that phrase.)
Yeah, that's what I don't do because I'm six and I pooped, Danny explains. I have no idea how poop came to be mentioned here. His brain is such a mystery to me.

I just had one little peanut come out of my butt, Danny informs us. That's weird. I poop peanuts now.

She's going poop. [Fiona] did her poop dance, Danny tells me. 

After a less than stellar report for the day, Danny informs me: It was dad's fault. He gave me sugar for breakfast.

Till next time.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


The Kindergarten Follies edition

Danny has had an interesting couple of weeks at school. We get a report every day. Smileys. Frownies. Straight faces. Color commentary such as the following:

1. Had to warn him twice. Wouldn't stop sniffing children.

Danny, why were you sniffing kids?
I wanted to know what they smelled like. 

2. Pulled pants down and showed girls his bottom.

Did you talk to him about it? I asked Jim. 
I told him the same thing my assistant principal told me in kindergarten when I pulled my pants down in the library. 

Um, excuse me? This information should really have been disclosed before we had children, dear.

Jim asked him, Would you do that in church?
Would you do that in the grocery store?
Then don't do it in school.

3. Drew freckles on his face.

You have freckles, Danny. Why did you draw freckles on your face?
Because Brandon did it.
Well, why did Brandon do it?
Because he doesn't have freckles.
So if Brandon jumped off a bridge, would you?
Oh. Why not?
Because it's dangerous. 
He was silent for a moment and then said: 
But we can do it spring. That's how we cool off. 

So, basically he would jump off a bridge, but only in the springtime. Lovely.

4. Rang the magic bell. Wanted kids to look at him.

Now, the magic bell belongs to the teacher. She rings it. The kids are supposed to stop what they are doing and look at her. When I've been in the classroom and she's rung the bell, Danny freezes and looks. If I'm not doing the same, I get scolded. By a six year old.

Moooooom. You just have to look, he whispers.

A few from the awwwww file:

Want to listen to Jack Brown, Owen says. I had just turned on Pandora. He knows that mommy loves her Jackson Brown!

Want two more [carrots], Owen asks.
For you?
For brother and sister. And this is why I will hurt those two if they are mean to him.

Ow. My back, I say.
I'll go get backscratcher, Owen says. He is so sweet. He also goes and gets ice packs from the freezer whenever anyone gets hurt. It's hard to believe he's the same child who runs up to his siblings and just punches them. (I'm just waiting for him to get them an ice pack after he punches them.)

As for Fiona, she's still with us. She whines so darn much lately that I have NO IDEA what she is saying half the time. All mothers need a whine translator.

Till next time.

Friday, March 01, 2013


The February Plague edition

There really has not been a dry nose since Thanksgiving around here. When I mentioned the lingering illnesses to someone recently, they asked what the kids had.

Um, this week? Let's see ... stomach bug, runny noses, fever, coughs, ear infection.

Yep, I'm pretty sure we have the plague.

Sunday night I lost count of how many times I changed the girl's sheets and pajamas. There was even an emergency bath.

Monday and Tuesday I was sick. Thursday Fiona came down with an ear infection. I had Owen checked for good measure but the doctor couldn't even get enough wax out to see his eardrum.

He probably can't hear you very well, she commented. This explains so much right now. I couldn't tell if he was deaf or just exceptionally stubborn. And he's loud. Really, really loud.

That afternoon, I went to pick Danny up alone while my dad hung out with the other two. It was a nice change and chance to hang out with Danny alone. You never know where a conversation with him will go, though.

Owen has so much wax in his ear that he can't even hear us, I tell Danny.
We should yell at him, Danny replied. Well, that wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I had just called the doctor for an appointment.

And since Fiona did have a stomach virus earlier in the week, it lent some credence to constant, literal belly aching.

My belly hurts, Fiona tells me. She doesn't want to finish her dinner.
Does it hurt too much for a cookie?
No, no, I can eat the cookie and then throw it up.
Honey, that's called bulimia.


What was that [noise]? I ask, finding Danny atop a blanket that was a tent and the puzzle basket on the floor.
I tried to balance on [the blanket]. I just laughed and laughed.
How'd that work out for you?

Later when we told his father about it ...
That's not a good place for a tent, he wailed.
Um, Danny, that was not a good place to walk

You're halfly bald, Danny tells his father.

Owen did it, Fiona yells whenever something goes wrong. But usually, it's Fiona who stirs the pot. Case in point ...

Danny was hysterical (and rightly so) after his sister smashed his art project for no apparent reason. Really, I don't know what to do about her. She's a master tormentor. Danny had some ideas, though.

We should call her stupid for the rest of her life, he wailed.

When are we going on vacation? is Danny's constant question these days. He's been packing his craft tool box that his aunt and uncle gave him for Christmas.
Oh, no, my silly band broke, Danny wails. Get the hot glue.
You can't fix a silly band with hot glue, Jim says.
'Cause that would just be silly. 

Later on ...

See, I fixed it. I turned it into a duck, Jim says.

You guys are having little donuts without me? Jim says when he finds the kids scarfing down Cheerios.

If you throw a penny into water and make a wish, you will get it, Danny reports. This is big news to a 6 year old. I know because Brandon wished for a popsicle and he GOT IT.
Did you get one? Jim asked.
I didn't put in a penny.
Well, then it must work. 

Danny had his very first field trip this week, too. His class went to a local art museum. We asked him what he did there.

I didn't touch the pictures, he said. His father and I both howled with laughter. Danny was too tired to know what we were laughing about.

Here's hoping the plague lifts.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


There are times as a parent when you are just baffled. One day this week on Danny's behavior report we got this little gem: "Pulled pants down at little recess and showed his bottom." So, essentially, he mooned some kids on the playground.

When we asked him about it, he said:

I forgot to not show my butt. 

Yeah, I hear you, kid. Sometimes adults forget not to show their butts, too. We have no idea where he got this idea. Just another day in the life of an impulsive 6 year old boy, I guess.

Then there are the time when you are completely blindsided. It's particularly frustrating when you think you've been consistent and fair. Another day this week, I had given Danny the five minute warning to finish what he was doing and come help set the table. At the end of five minutes, I got teeth gritting, toy throwing, coffee table traversing and trampoline jumping. All in an effort to avoid stopping his activity, which he had stopped to put on an epic display of defiance. By the time he got to the mini trampoline, I continued calmly repeating my instructions.

NO. NO. I need to get exercise mom, he practically whimpered. I tried really hard not to laugh.

Speaking of exercise, we've continued with our Sunday hiking outings. This past weekend, we hiked on the Eno River again. The kids love running around in the woods and we even went off trail for a bit. (Don't worry, it's impossible to get lost there.)

Look at all this nature, Danny exclaimed when we got there.


Don't juggle your hamburger, Danny. Really.

Now I have a staircase in my mouth, Danny says after he lost another tooth. The lost tooth was right next to a growing adult tooth.

This is fun. Can we do this all day? Danny asks. Guess what they were doing? Cleaning their grimy little fingerprints off the railings and door frames with Clorox wipes. Excellent.

Five more minutes guys, I tell the kids while we're at the museum.
I want to stay, Danny whines.
You can. For five more minutes. A few mommies nearby snickered.

I want to watch TV, Danny whines.
You can watch the TV all you want, Jim replies. We're just not turning it on.

Until then, the kids had been playing nicely, making a community with the train tracks in the playroom. Owen's contribution was a natural disaster.

Tornado coming! he screamed before knocking over trees and buildings.

He's really just darling these days. When Danny got in the van after school, Owen asked:

How was your day? (heart melting!!)

And then we have incidents like this. I asked him to put a napkin at everyone's place at the table. He lowered his gaze at me and said:

Don't want to. Oh yes, he did. It used to be cute, but he's approaching 3 years of age. His life is about to get a little tougher.

Something else he doesn't want to do right now?

Do you want to poop in the potty? I ask him. He tells us when he's pooping or when he has poop.
Nope. Don't want to fall in, he says. Great.

Fiona is rather emotional and easily frustrated lately. She often loses her temper with inanimate objects and then the object goes sailing across the room.

It wasn't listening to me, she wails. While I can identify, I find it very hard to sympathize with that sentiment.

Till next time ...

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


As you may know, I took a little break from blogging over the holidays. I usually publish an Overheard column on a Friday. However, I'm overflowing with Overheards that I've collected over the past two months.

January has come and gone. We celebrated Fiona's birthday with go-cart riding and pink-frosted cupcakes and lots of Tinkerbell and Hello Kitty. I gave up on trying to have a party for her since her first three birthday parties were cancelled due to illness or snow. We took her to Frankie's to ride go carts and play in the arcade.

We've also started a new Sunday tradition: Hiking. Yes, hiking. With three kids in tow. Even when it's 45 degrees out. It started with a hike organized by the wellness committee at Danny's school on the first Saturday in January. It was a gloriously sunny but chilly day. We took a thermos full of hot cocoa and hit the trail with other families from Danny's school. Since then we've been hiking every weekend that weather permits. Sometimes it's cold other times it's unseasonably warm. The hikes are usually between 1 and 2 miles long. Owen starts out strong, but usually starts whining halfway through. Danny absolutely loves it. Fiona takes her time and is often bringing up the rear.

You know the wild animals pick off the last animal in the herd, right? Jim tells Fiona. She picked up the pace a bit.

What about this baby? Is she going to bed, too? I ask fiona, pointing to one doll who was sitting in a rocking chair.
No, she's the mommy. She'll stay there all night to watch the babies. Right. Because that's moms do.

Look, mom, I found a raccoonship! Fiona squeals. Um, what?
Oh, you mean a bakugan!

I threw the raccoonship into the bathroom and it didn't go in the toilet, Fiona reports. Lovely.

Now Fiona, do you see how clean your room is?
Let's try to keep it this way. 
She looked right at me, cocked her head and said, But, mom, I have to play. 

I'm tired from talking, Fiona wails. And she's only four. Just wait till your a mom, baby girl.

Hey, mom, I put my shoes in the shoe basket for to find them better, Danny squeals, apparently delighted that he is just now figuring this out.

Danny, do you know what they do to adults who hit?
They put them in jail. He pauses and looks at me for a few seconds.
But what if they're doing karate?

No chainsaws in the TV room, I tell Owen who has shattered the room's quiet.

You're getting good at writing small, I tell Danny who has written a tiny 's' inside a circle.
Yeah. You're bad at writing small, though, he replies.
Oh, how so?
You write big, he says pointing to the chalkboard wall.
Um, I do that so you can see it.
I can see that tiny 's', mom.

That stupid old chair. I'm going to sit on it, Danny cries. His brother had just hit his head on the chair. Finally, a child who willingly sits on a chair.

Stop looking at me, Fiona wails to Owen over breakfast.
I'm not looking at you, he replies in his toddler staccato. I'm looking at my foot.

I've wanted these my whole life! Danny got a Polar Express train set for Christmas.

Fiona's kitty doesn't shoot laser beams so she won't destroy our house, Danny says. Fiona got a FurrReal pet for Christmas. It was as close to an electric Hello Kitty as we can find. Three year olds who don't watch much TV are not easy to buy for.

There's a bump in the floor, but we can still live here. Oh, good.

I found a worm, Fiona squeals.
Yeah, worms are good. They eat dirt and poop out more dirt, Danny replies.

Hey, the moss bounced off the house. The house must have to poop. I often tell him when he has to poop that his belly is so tight he could bounce a quarter of it. 

Mooommmm, Owen's looking at me.
Are you looking at Owen?
Yes. Um, well then ...

Danny comes home from school with a half dozen sheets of paper with drawings of cars. So a photo of a different sort are something to talk about.

So your house has a car right up here? I ask Danny, who showing me his picture of a house.
How do people get in your house?
There's an invisible door. Oh, of course.

I'm hot, Fiona wails from the backseat of the van.
Well, there's hot air coming out of your mouth, so if you keep your mouth shut ... , Jim hints.

Mom, where's paradise on the map? Danny asks. Awww.

Danny, get over here. What is this in the hallway? I ask, eying a pile of folded toilet paper squares on the floor.
I was making paper airplanes. With toilet paper. Of course you were.

Till next time.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Diary of an Omniturnal Mom

The morning rodeo, er, routine

The last time I wrote an ominiturnal mom post, all three kids were at home. While it is slightly less hectic with only two, mornings are a three ring circus. 

6:48 a.m. Mommy wakes up in a panic and realizes that she is driving the boy to school this morning, then going straight to a friend's house for a play date. There would be no throwing kids in the car with pajamas on this morning. They leave in a hour.

She does some mental calculations and determines that the best way to get three breakfasts, three vitamins and three drinks on the table and one lunch for the boy and two snack bags for the others ready is to NOT wake the kids up just yet. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. She pulls on clothes straight from the laundry basket where her clean clothes live these days and checks to be sure the shirt is right side out. It is, she decides.

6:55 a.m. Mommy turns on the lights in the kids' rooms. Two out of three are fast asleep. The school boy is humping a pillow and peering through the bedrails at her. Creepy. She lays out clothes on the beds of the younger two.

"Good morning, sunshines," she sings, then quickly leaves, knowing they won't get up for at least another five minutes. Surely she can get cereal and juice on the table in that time and dole out the vitamins (2 multis and 2 fish oils per kid) in the proper colors and shapes to arrange the perfect pattern. (Have I mentioned my son likes patterns? Every morning, the vitamins must be put into a pattern and he eats them in a pattern while I am reminded with each one he pops into his mouth to WATCH MOM WATCH. Now he has his sister doing the same thing.)

7:05 a.m. Fiona appears first, actually wearing the outfit she's been dealt. Normally, girl face goes through three different outfits, throwing the rejects (clean) into the hamper. Mommy twitches just thinking about this. Owen follows closely behind holding his clothes and whining something about getting dressed. She tells him to fetch a diaper to buy herself more time to throw together lunch and snacks.

Mommy throws a bag of crackers, a hunk of cheese, a few fruit rollups and oranges and two water bottles into a bag. Done. Lunch for Danny? Leftover meatballs, a cheese stick, crackers, salad and cottage cheese; a granola bar and apples; and an Easter egg full of chocolate covered raisins. Done. A small voice in her head says she could probably have done all this the night before instead of staying up late playing Words with Friends and watching TMZ. Mommy tells that bitch to shut the hell up.

7:10 a.m. Danny wanders down fully dressed but wearing Spiderman slippers and no socks. Fine. Just come to breakfast, kid.

Now, getting a child with ADHD to eat breakfast in a short amount of time is often a maddening and somewhat hilarious prospect if you can keep your sense of humor. Instead of chanting eat at random intervals, Mommy decides to use Danny's love of patterns to her advantage. Sipping a cup of coffee across the table from him, she tells him, "Danny, here's a pattern for you: two bites of food, one drink, and repeat."

It works. Until he gets to the repeat part, looks around and says, "I have freckles."

Face palm.

Mommy verbally recites the pattern several times as he complies. As soon as she stops reciting, he stops eating and turns to the window.

"Look mom, a bird."

Smacks forehead.

Meanwhile, the two year old is randomly roaring at his brother and lunging from his seat.

7:20 a.m. He's eaten about as much as she can get him to eat. She sends him off for shoes and socks.

"Socks and shoes, mom," he corrects her.

Whatever. It's not like he'll actually remember to do it.

7:35 a.m. She finds him up in his room playing with paper airplanes on his floor. Startled by her presence, he gets up and starts downstairs.

"Do you have socks on?" she asks.

"Oh, I forgot."

Of course you did.

7:40 a.m. Mommy tries to corral the two year old to put on socks and shoes. She calls him and tells him to sit. He runs circles around her three times before climbing clumsily onto the chair and thrusting his foot into her leg. Meanwhile, the only child who is doing as she's told is the girl, who came down fully dressed to the socks and must now only find jacket and shoes.

7:45 a.m. "Jacket Danny," Mommy calls out.

"I left it at school," he says.

Of course you did. You bring home a half dozen sheets of paper filled with car drawings and massive sculptures made from scraps yet forget just why you're freezing your toucus off waiting for dismissal.

"Shoes Danny." Mommy finds that he responds better to short bursts rather than long, loud sentences (otherwise known as mommy flipping her lid).

He sits IN FRONT OF the door to puts his shoes on as we're all trying to get out the door. Thank you, Captain Oblivious.

7:50 a.m. Miraculously, all are in the car, ready to go. Mommy totally rocks.


9:30 a.m. After school drop off, they head to her friend's house. Upon arrival, Mommy realizes her shirt is in fact on inside out.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I haven't written much lately.


I can't blame it on being too busy or not having anything to say. I have plenty to say and I've seen busier times. It's just that my subject matters are older with more complicated problems that deserve a certain level of privacy.

But it's not only that. As they've gotten older, I've gotten wiser. With each new challenge, I have a bank of resolved challenges to reassure me. I used to need to talk and write about my kids' issues and my thoughts in order to process them. Now it seems I just need to be quiet and go with the flow.

Since July, when my oldest began school, we've all been on quite a journey. We've all changed, good, bad and neutral changes. My son has ADHD. There. I've said it. I no longer doubt it. I no longer fight or challenge it. I also have no need to cling to the label or use it as an excuse for apathy or defeatism. It's just a tool to help us and others help him manage his behavior. If I know what works for most kids with ADHD, we at least have a place to start. And really who cares if other people don't believe it's a real disorder? (And if you don't, I have a 6 year old I'd like to lend you for a few days.)

When he began school, I would sit in the car pool line every day with a knot in my stomach waiting for the daily verdict that is his behavior plan. Some days he'd have a horrific list of infractions, other days he'd have all smiley faces, still others would be a mixed assortment of praise and concern. Within the first three weeks of school, he'd been sent to the principal's office, been written up for being a danger to himself or others, and I'd gotten a call from the principal himself. I had to get off that roller coaster.

Things slowly got better. He responded beautifully to positive reinforcement and rewards. The rewards were something I had always steered away from because I didn't want my kid doing something just for the reward. Apparently, this is something that works very well with many ADHD kids. We developed a reward system for him based on the number of smileys he got each day on his chart. He gets one penny for every smiley he earns and nothing for a frownie. When he has 10 pennies, he can trade them in for 15 minutes of computer time or lamp time at bedtime or game time with us. He's not as vigilant or attached to the reward as he was the first half of the year. Some days he even forgets to bring his chart home.

He seems to thrive on checklists. We have several strategically placed on chalkboards throughout the house. There's the upstairs morning routine and the downstairs morning routine; the after school routine and the bedtime routine.

We also provided many crutches for him to get through tough periods of the day. At quiet time, he was allowed to listen to music with earphones. At dismissal, I had the teacher provide him with an extra snack. He has spent time on and off in alternative recess, a special, smaller recess with the resource staff to help with social skills. He no longer needs most of these things, at least not on a daily basis.    

Part of the struggle for me these past months, though, is the guilt and resentment I often feel at having a child who sucks up so much time and attention and worry. I feel the other two children get less of me and less attention and a more stressed environment. For a while, some of the energy needed to help him was wasted on the useless thought, "Dammit, why can't this kid just behave himself?"  It's not been a struggle I want to write about either; just something to sit with until it goes away. I've realized recently that it affects the other kids in as much as I attach myself to Danny's problems. I don't have to intervene every time he starts to get agitated. I can just let him whirl and if the whirling gets out of hand, I can banish him with good cause. When I can detach from his issues and make him own his behavior, I am more available to the other kids.

So we're just coasting along here. I'd like to say I'll write more. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't.