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.