The Sound Of Silence…

First off, it is colder than hell outside.  And while you may think that’s an obvious (and somewhat stupid) statement – let me just say that for some people (*ahem, me) being cold is a whole lot worse than being hot!  And yeah, I’m in Florida.  No, thankfully it is NOT snowing.  Yet, YES, I am still bitching.  I’m cold when it’s 80, you can bet your fluffy down comforter I’m freezing when it’s 30.

Anyway, I started off saying a first, so let me get to the second.  I’ve finally figured them out.  My kids.  Frighteningly enough, part of the riddle has been solved.  No, really, it’s actually pretty scary.

Oh, and yeah, third.  I’m back.  Again.  I’ve been remiss.   Yada yada… busy, busy.  Life and all that crap.  So, I offer no more empty “I’m back for real and gonna make this a weekly thing” business, because I’m being honest, and I honestly cannot guarantee when I’ll actually write anything.  But I’m writing this, so I’m going to go ahead and be happy with that.

Back to the second.  The boys.  My favorite Monsters.  Holy realization moment.  Kaleb is me.  Mase is totally Daddy.  And while they both have parts of us in some ways (I’ll man up and take blame for the road rage) – it isn’t the same.  Allow me to explain…

I need recognition for things I do well.  No kidding, serious verbal recognition.  I thrive on it.  I will keep doing the things you verbally recognize and appreciate I do.  If you don’t … well.  I tend to stop doing them.  Because I feel like they (and I, by extension) go unnoticed.  I need visual stimulation.  I need to be able to escape from reality though books, music and other such things when I get overwhelmed with life, because otherwise I end up over-thinking everything and my anxiety gets bad enough that I stop functioning like a normal person should.  I require step-by-step instruction when introduced to something new because otherwise I will totally go off book, and let’s be honest – that never ends well.

I don’t respond to hounding or constant reminders – that feels more like a piano hanging over my head by a string than a motivation to remember something.  My memory is lax when it comes to a lot of things because there is almost always something bigger and more imminent looming in the forefront of my mind, even if that particular thing seems small to anyone else.  Threats never work with me, because it isn’t real if it isn’t right there in front of me.

I know, to an extent, how much this sucks for the people in my life who want to convey important things to me.  Because while I can spend hours, days, or weeks consumed with fictional worlds, I cannot genuinely envision my life without the things that are already in it.  I forget simple tasks, silly things people ask me to do for them, things I usually start to do (because they mean a lot to people who mean a lot), and then I get bogged down by other things.  Those big important things that are consuming my thoughts like endless riders on a Merry-Go-Round.  Or I get overwhelmed.  I don’t know what to do first.  I start a million things at once and finish exactly… none.  I let people down constantly.  I let myself down constantly.  Because the minute my mind leaves one topic, another crops up, and the one that is right there is the one that ends up being most important.  I can’t imagine how petty and selfish that must sound to you.

Honestly, it sounds horrible to me, and I’m talking about myself.

But this is me on my most honest level.

***Okay, I know I said before that I need recognition – but not on this.  I’m not looking for validation here.  I’m looking to be brutally honest with myself as a person.  So the first person who tries to offer me an excuse for the behavior I have just admitted to will be promptly showed the door ***

I’ve been like that forever.  Ask my mom.  She could ground me for weeks.  I would shrug and walk away.  What did I care?  But to take my most prized things?  My books, my music… the world would all but collapse as far as I was concerned.  I was actually a decent student. I did my homework.  Every day… but I’d forget to turn it in.  Every day.  I’d forget to put it in my bag.  It wasn’t because there was something else I wanted to do; it was more because I would finish that task and move on to something else that was now a big deal.  But even then…when I’d really get in trouble (and believe me, I totally deserved it when I did.  I was a sh*t), I’d scream, and I’d cry – but to what end?  Did I actually do what I was supposed to have done in the first place?  Eh…. Usually not.  I had the kind of attitude that would send people running for the hills faster than you could say “Call SuperNanny!”

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Kaleb’s like that.  He’s stubborn.   He has a few interests that really encompass him.  And he has a few passing interests, ones he could do without, but they entertain him when all else fails.  He’s got an incredible imagination, and an admirable amount of determination.  Add that to his confidence in himself and his growing skill-set… in 20 years he will be a force nobody will want to reckon with.  But as a child…

I want to go back in time and pick up every hair I must have caused my mother to pull out of her head.

His attention span is exactly that of a dead gnat – unless what he’s looking at involves a book of LEGO instructions, Marvel Superheroes, or something that will piss off his brother.  He forgets to do something about five seconds after you tell him, unless it is either A. written down; B. directly in front of him; or C. beneficial to him in some very literal way.    Everything is a personal attack.  And I do mean everything.  It is your fault he’s screaming, because you told him to use his napkin and he didn’t want to use his napkin, so therefore it is your fault he’s screaming.  See the logic?

That’s the thing.  You have to actually see the logic to understand him.  His world consists of exactly two things, and two things only:  What makes him happy, and What makes him not happy.  I wasn’t quite that bad as a kid.  But, the more I think about how he thinks, the more I understand it.  For Kaleb, everything is immediate.  We can put him in a five minute time-out, but at the end of that five minutes, his mind has wandered all over the place, and he genuinely might not remember why he was in trouble.  Sure he can remember every name of every Spiderman Nemesis – but that is inherently important to him.  At least, it’s a whole lot more important than remembering to use a napkin.

Then again, there are the times he just screams – I mean really, really screams… I think that’s honestly just to make me completely crazy.  Mason had to have taught him that.

I keep asking myself how do I get through to him?

The honest answer is…. I probably won’t.  I probably won’t be the one to do it.  For me, it was a couple of incredible teachers who banned together and changed a great many of my perspectives.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still a total shit when I was at home.  And my mom never stopped trying.  She never gave up on me, or the future she wanted for me.  I was just not ready to listen to her.  At the same time, for once she wasn’t the only one fighting for me.  I worked a bit harder for my future.  I responded to people differently.  I stopped forming so many arguments against my mom in my head and started listening to what she was saying, even though she didn’t know that (and still probably thinks talking to me is the equivalent of talking to a stack of bricks).

But as I pointed out in the beginning of all this – I am in many ways still who I was a kid.  I’m a more grown-up version, sure.  The problems have changed, they’ve gotten bigger, more challenging.  They aren’t just my problems anymore.  They’re the problems of everyone I love and care about.  Myself included.  But it’s sobering to realize as a parent, that there might be a lot more to that old saying about taking a village to raise a child.  Kaleb’s teachers get through to him in times when I can’t.  There are days when they ask me how we handle X, Y, & Z when all I want to do is ask how they got past A & B.

Then, there’s Mase.  Ooooohhhhh The Mase Bug.

It started off as a totally absurd Dora-Inspired nick-name.  The kind of thing that starts because it’s too late for the hospital to do anything but batten down the hatches and tell you to hold on.  An hour later you find yourself face-to-face with this little dude (who may just have the most expressive eyes on Earth), while silently still singing the song Dora sang to help the Mommy Bug-a-bug find her baby bug-a-bug in the episode you fell asleep watching with your toddler.  Or… maybe I wasn’t singing so silently.

Now, I actually think it might be a thingThe Mase Bug.  He’s cute.  He bats those ridiculous eyelashes over those big brown eyes and you want to smoosh his little cheeks.  He says goofy, silly things, and makes absolutely no sense, and you just adore it.  Despite the fact that he’s four, and has a perfectly functional vocabulary he is completely competent in using.

My curious, destructive, charming, deceptively smart boy.  He is his daddy’s clone.  He’s too smart, and too distracted.  By everything and nothing.  He may not being paying attention outwardly, but he is fully tuned in when you think he isn’t.  He wants everything his way, otherwise, well… you can just kiss that cute little butt of his and wish him safe travels – ‘cause he will cease existing in your world the minute you stop making sense in his.  Now, to be fair, both boys are very much like that.  But Kaleb lets you know when you’ve stepped off his planet (usually by screaming that you are wrong).  Mason just checks out.  He won’t return the key – I swear he’s a time travelling Muse for The Eagles.  He’ll check out any time he wants – but he won’t ever leave.

You can sit with him and talk and talk and talk to him until you are rainbow colored.  But unless what you are saying consists of certain key words or phrases, you could be talking ancient Greek.  ‘Cause he is not listening.  He’s thinking about a hundred different other things.  He isn’t building like his big brother.  He’s not dreaming of LEGOs or colored pencils.  He’s thinking about how one car went faster than the other, and he is wondering why.  He’s ripping apart brand new toys just to figure out where things are, where they’d be better suited, and why other things are missing.

He wants to watch me cook, because he wants to figure out what the difference is between a raw egg and a scrambled egg.  Start to finish, he has to understand the entire process or he is not satisfied.  He wants to know why the dome light comes on in the car when the door is opened but turns back off when it’s closed.  He doesn’t just want to know, but needs to know the how and the why.  He wants it faster, louder, and bigger.  And if he has to rip something apart to see what was different inside this toy, versus that toy – he will do it in a heartbeat.

He’s singled minded, and determined.  He’s brilliant, but stubbornly makes everyone show him how to do everything multiple times before he’s satisfied knowing he can do it himself.  He’s loving, but only to certain people at certain times.  He’s distant, but he feels so strongly for those he loves, it’s almost become a defense.   By all accounts – he’s just like Daddy. Smart, sweet, stubborn, with an insatiable curiosity, and a unique, yet disquieting way of viewing the world.

They are us.  Our product.  Both of them.  Beautiful.  Strong.  Stubborn.  Isolated inside a world filled with people that love them, but don’t quite understand them.  Sometimes angry at the hands they’ve been dealt, when they played so much better than everyone else at the table.  Loyal.  Fun.  Joyous.  Intelligent.  Underestimated.  Overestimated.  Such a delirious mix of light and dark.

I forget as a parent (a lot), how I was as a kid.  How singled minded I was.  How absolutely focused I got on the things that interested me.  The things that gave me joy just by doing them on my own.  The things that made me… “Me”.  I’ve become so focused as an adult on making my kids “well rounded” that I forget that a part of becoming an adult is honing those solo interests.  Screaming when you feel like you’re going to explode.  The tantrums and the fights about the fairness of life.  Those things that make me so mad as a parent – I honestly couldn’t count how many of those I put my mom through when I was growing up.  They’re a part of growing up.  You don’t just wake up one day and realize “I’m 4, I should be potty trained.”  Or, “I’m 7, I can tie my shoes.”  Those are things you learn as you go.  Things other people teach you.  Frustration, anger, sadness, confusion – that’s part of life whether you’re a child or an adult.  You only learn how to channel and process those things by watching the adults in your life.

Of course, no matter how much I kicked and screamed I still had to do my math homework – but I was a hell of a lot more prone to do it (and turn it in…) if that meant I got an extra 20 minutes to do something I genuinely enjoyed at the end of the day.  Some days that was watching Gilmore Girls with my mom (Yes, I just did totally out you Mom, sorry).  Some days that was sitting on the kitchen counter picking apples out of the pie mix Nana was making when (I thought) she wasn’t looking.  Or going upstairs and getting lost in a story.  Every day I was a different version of myself.  Some days I wanted companionship, some days I didn’t.  Even as a small child.  That’s an easy thing to forget.

I think maybe it’s time we all take a few minutes to remember ourselves as kids – our HONEST selves.  How we really were, not how we like to think we were, and try to imagine applying it our lives now.

Think about what motivates you now – what motivates your spouse – what motivates your kids…

And I don’t mean money, work, grown up crap.  I said think like a KID. A little kid.  Little kids don’t think about money – at least not in concrete terms.  They think about the abstract.  If you could do one thing at the end of the day for twenty minutes, what would it be?   What about your spouse?  Your kids?  Not a group activity – save that for the weekends or holidays.  Not some sibling activity to force your kids to get along (BTW, if you have one of those I am beyond open to suggestions).  Not something for someone else either.  Be selfish, be abstract.  Think like a child.  Find a true, free, honest reward for surviving the day.

I’d spend twenty minutes writing.  Or doing something to further it.  Research, outlines, whatever – something just for me.  I’d give Daddy twenty minutes of complete he-man time – no phones, no kids, no email, nothing but peace and the understanding that comes with a perfect match of man and machine (just for the record, if this wasn’t an abstract, I’d give him twenty minutes a day flying instead).  I’d give Kaleb 20 minutes of LEGO time.  I’d give Mason twenty minutes to talk about, throw, drive, or destroy any 3 toy vehicles of his choice.

If we all stopped looking at life like a race to be won, a battle to be waged – and started thinking about how to encourage the people next to us to be better, happier versions of themselves, instead of constantly trying to make everyone be like us, think like us, want what we want – just imagine how much better and happier we would all actually be…

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Father Of Mine…

Happpy Father’s Day!

I can honestly say I’m blessed to know a lot of amazing fathers, and I hope each and every one of them have an incredible day today.  But, more than anything, there are three men in my life who have completely shaped my vision of what makes a great father, and I’d like to take the time to say something to each of them today, since I’ll only get to spend the day with one.  First, of course is Daddy – who I am lucky enough to navigate parenthood with Monsters with.  Second, is Papa Clyde – AKA my father; and third is Poppy – my know-it-all (it’s true, he does know everything!) grandfather. Without these men I wouldn’t be the person, daughter, friend, or mother that I am.  Each one of them has influenced me beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Poppy 

Happy Father’s Day old man!  I haven’t called you yet this morning because I figured you might actually take advantage of the day and sleep in and I didn’t want to be the one who woke you up!  Mind you, I obviously have no problem doing this every other day of the year, but still.  It is Father’s Day after all.  I truthfully don’t even know how to write this.  When I look back at my life, and your role in it, I can honestly say you are one of the only people in the world I have always known, 100% was there for me, no questions asked.

For as long as I can remember you’ve answered endless un-answerable questions, simply to entertain me.  You’ve given me your love for a good baseball game, a cold beer, and a determination to learn how to do an Irish Step Dance (which we both know I will never be able to accomplish given my miserable failure at any form of dance).  More than that, you’ve given me stability, love, faith, and a sense of humor I would be lost without.  I have countless memories of conversations we’ve had while walking through grocery stores, or other public places – most of those memories are seared into my mind not because of the depth of them (not that we haven’t shared in some wonderful and serious conversations, because we certainly have), these memories stand out because of the looks on the faces of the strangers around us as they eavesdropped on the constant banter between us.

You have always been able to find a way to find the humor in even the worst situations, and I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to you for giving that gift to me.  Being able to not just find the good in the bad, but finding the humor in what should be a humorless situation has saved me on so many levels.  Knowing I can call you and no matter how much of my own hair I have pulled out over the antics of the Monsters, you will laugh so hard I can’t help but laugh with you.  It’s become one of the most important aspects of my life, and my number one coping mechanism when things get rough.

You’ve been a father to me through thick and thin, going above and beyond grandfatherly duties, and I’ll never be able to properly express how much that means to me.  I have never felt like I didn’t belong with you.  You gave me my first lesson in love being thicker than blood.  So, when you’re sitting in the pavilion next, drinking a beer and listening to the radio, have that flamingo at your side give you a toast from me.  Next month I’ll be able to give you a proper toast myself, and I fully expect to leave with a heart full of love and a belly full of laughter.  I love you Poppy, I miss you to pieces, and I hope you have the best Father’s Day yet.

P.S.

Kaleb says “Happy Father’s Day!”

Mason says “Why?”

Ha!  I love you,

Princess Flamingo

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Papa Clyde –

Happy Father’s Day Daddy!

I’ve had my fair share of father figures throughout my life.  But only when you came along did I truly get a Dad.  I know I have probably already said this a hundred times, for a hundred different occasions, but I’ll say it again:  Thank you.

Thank you for being my Dad.  Thank you for taking me as I was, and as I am, and loving me unconditionally despite my best efforts to make you do otherwise.  Thank you for standing by me, behind me, and in front of me as I navigated the world around me.  Thank you for being everything a father should be and more.  Thank you for opening your arms, your heart, your family to me and never letting go.  Thank you for rescuing me from myself when I needed rescuing, and letting me struggle when I needed to rescue myself.  Thank you for everything.

Through you I have learned so much.  I’ve always been stubborn (a trait we both share to a fault), I’ve always been a heard-headed girl, who wanted what I wanted and that was that.  You’ve taught me how to accomplish the things I want in this life, while building relationships, instead of burning them to the ground.  You’ve shown me how rewarding it is to teach others, and help those around me.  You’ve redefined compassion and loyalty, while encouraging me to continue to be as outrageous as I want to be.  You’ve given me independence, while making sure to be there when I needed someone to lean on.

We’ve grown together – you and I.  We’ve both had some of the stubborn stripped away in light of things that we couldn’t see coming or control, and we’ve learned from those things.  In all the battles I’ve had to wage, with myself, my kids, my family – even you – you have always been there to find the light at the end of the tunnel with me.  We’ve been through awesome times, and we’ve been through hell, and no matter what you never lost faith.  You’ve made me crazy, and I’ve made you grey, yet still you stand proudly by my side and introduce me as your daughter.  You’ve shown me what it means to have not just a father, but a Dad; proving once more to me that love is stronger than blood.  I couldn’t imagine what my world would be like without you, and I never want to.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy, I will see you this evening, and I’ll raise as many toasts as I can to a man who changed my life for the better, forever.

I love you,

Your pain in the ass daughter.

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Daddy 

Happy Father’s Day Love!

Of course you know I had to save the best for last 😉

Oh where do I even begin?  We have the luckiest kids on the planet – because they have you.  But they aren’t the only lucky ones, I am as well.  In the last five years we have gone through hell and back more times than I dare count.  We’ve made each other laugh, and cry, and yell, and curse the heavens – but through all of it you have been, and always will be, everything.

You are my constant (I am perfectly aware of how completely unstable that must mean I am!), my rock, a beacon for everything that matters in this world.  You have taught me so much, and continue to do so each day.  You’re honest to a fault (seriously, no girl actually wants to know if the dress makes her look fat), your integrity and ethic is unparalleled to anyone I have ever known.  But those aren’t the reasons I love you.  Actually, half the time, those are the reasons I want shake you!

I love you because you are you.  I’ve never been more aware of how lucky I am to share this life with you than I am right now.  Our boys get to grow up with a father who teaches them that life isn’t easy – but it’s worth it if you work for what you want.  They have inherited the best of you, and for that alone they will grow up to be forces to be reckoned with.  You sacrifice daily for this family – for me, for them, for us as a whole – and you don’t get nearly the amount of acknowledgement that you should.  You spend months away from us to ensure we are able to do the things we want to do.  To give them the life that we want for them.  To give me a life I could never have dreamed of, and we will never be able to fully make you understand how much you mean to us.

Each and every time life throws us a curveball you take it and make it work to your very best ability.  You miss so much, yet without you, there wouldn’t be anything to miss.  You come home to chaos, and crazy, and you accept and love every single bit of it.  You chose us – and we are so incredibly lucky.  We are lucky to have a man who knows when to push and when to wait.  We are lucky to have a man who is patient, compassionate, understanding, faithful, and just as insane as the rest of us.

I’m sorry that you are missing Father’s Day.  But you’ll be home in just a few days now, and we will make up for it as best we can.  I know it’s hard being gone.  I know it isn’t easy to have to miss out on so much, I can’t even imagine how hard that is.  But what I also know is how much we love you.  We go about our daily lives while you fight tireless for us to have them, and we could not be more proud of you.  You are the strength in this family.  The foundation of the life we are building together.  I can look back at the last few years and know with an absolute certainty that we can face anything.  We can make it through anything together.

I cannot wait to start the rest of our lives together.  I cannot wait to marry you.  And I love you all the more because you’re crazy enough to actually want to marry me.

You are an incredible father, (future) husband, and friend.  You deserve an amazing Father’s Day – and when you get home, I will give that to you.  Once and for all you have proven to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that love is thicker than blood.  I love you more than words can express, and I will see you soon.  There will be cold beer, warm pizza, and a house of Monsters waiting for your arrival.  Have a wonderful day Love.

I love you,

The insane mother of your children, and your future wife.

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***There is a side note here.  Because I probably won’t be writing tomorrow, I need to say this now.

This is a bittersweet day for me.

Don, one year ago tomorrow you left this world, and all of us in it that loved you.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you.  For 364 days I have looked down at the pirate band on my arm I have thought of you. I hope wherever you are, you have the peace that was sometimes so difficult for you to find in life.  I hope you’re playing beer pong and listening to music loud enough to make everyone around you crazy.  Most of all, I hope you are happy, and I hope you know how much you were loved by so many people.  We miss you.

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Can’t Repeat…

I’m currently sitting on the floor in the boys’ hallway glaring at a pair of mischievous imps whose selective hearing skills are more impressive than that of a Roman God.

Wanna know why?

It all started like this…  Kaleb, Mason and my niece were playing in Mason’s room.  They were behaving, so I didn’t think much of it.  Until I heard Kaleb yell “No Mase!”  My ears perked up, I waited a second, and I heard Mason say “Why?”

However Kaleb responded, I couldn’t hear it from the kitchen.  Another minute goes by and the exact exchange occurred.  Now I need to know what is going on, so I start heading their way.  Almost immediately I hear Kaleb yell “No Mason!  Stop that!  You can’t get naked!”  Followed immediately by the “Why?” that will forever make me think of smeared poop.  I turn the corner to find Mason mostly sans pants – he’s got one foot stuck, in the process of stripping off his diaper.

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Ughhhhhhhhh again??

This is mean.  This is spiteful trickery and I do not appreciate it.  I know you aren’t ready to potty train.  You know you aren’t ready to potty train.  So why do you want to pee on your carpet SO badly??

Annnyyyyway…

We move on, make dinner, and do secret silent happy dances cause Daddy can finally start painting the color on Kaleb’s walls.  Which means we only have a few days left of Kaleb sleeping in our room.  < Insert imaginary fist-pump here >

So, we eat dinner – and it’s kinda like eating in the middle of the Twilight Zone.  Mason actually used a spoon (okay, it only happened once – but once is enough for three imaginary fist-pumps), my niece actually ate – it wasn’t much, but not much is still an improvement from her falling asleep with her face on a plate full of food she refused to eat for dinner.  And Kaleb not only ate all of his dinner, without a single complaint (he actually complimented it!  Can you believe this?!) – but he did so while being all around wonderful (and yeah, he totally got cake for dinner).

Then of course, the real trouble sets in.  Daddy’s preparing the paint, I’m folding laundry, Kaleb is playing with his Legos.  I saw the two little ones go in to Mason’s room, so I didn’t think much of it.  Until Daddy found them – playing in the fish tank – again.  As much as Mason loves that fish, I’m really beginning to wonder if he is trying  to kill it.  Not three minutes go by before they are in the tank again. And in serious trouble.  Enough is enough – you both get to go to bed ten minutes early.

Aaaaaaand problem number three sets in – now they both get naked.  Drama, drama, “Keep your diapers on!” drama.  Six minutes later – they are naked again.

So here I am.  Watching Daddy paint in one room, while telling those little minions to get their butts back in bed every sixty seconds in the other room.

I feel like a broken record – and I cannot stand that.  I seriously cannot stand repeating myself.  It’s one of those absurd idiosyncracies I picked up when I was young and I just can’t shake it.  I don’t mind repeating stories (or maybe I do – maybe that’s the subconscious reason this whole blog exists – just so I can tell everyone the story one time), but I do not like to have to constantly say the same things over and over again.

Get in bed!  Leave your clothes on!   Stop pushing on the screen!  Stop smearing poop!  Don’t throw food to the dog!  Eat your food!  Get out of the dog’s face!  Stop jumping on the couch!  Don’t touch the fish!  Get that out of your mouth!  What is that??  Where did you get that?  Give that to me – take it out of your mouth!    

These are the things I have found myself saying so many times over and over again I feel like there’s a new circuit board in my brain, just programing automatic responses to certain situations.  It feels sometimes like all I do is holler the same phrases over and over and over again.  And not just with Mase.  With Kaleb.  With the dog.  Hell, I’m pretty sure half the time the only person in this house that listens to me is me.  And that’s pretty sad considering I’m just now learning to start taking my own (pretty awesome) advice.

That isn’t really true.  Daddy listens for the most part – sometime I can’t blame him for tuning out – sometimes I talk so fast I can’t keep up with myself either.  Then again, sometimes I’m just downright insane and I find myself meeting the kind of glazed-over, “you can’t be serious” look – usually when he can’t figure out if I actually am that crazy, or if I’m just having a moment.

So, I get easily frustrated when I have to constantly repeat myself to the same people over and over again.  Especially my little Monsters.  Though, I’m pretty sure they do it on purpose to make me as crazy as Daddy sometimes thinks I am.

But I discovered something that might help with that.  Okay, that isn’t exactly true.  I was all but dragged from the comfort of my pajamas Saturday morning to go to a Yoga fusion class that was holding a fundraiser for our walk.  I can’t thank my friend enough for that.  Because, as much as I despise working out, this yoga thing ROCKS.  For the first time in three years (well, until now, this floor is kinda doing me in) my hips didn’t hurt.  And I was relaxed (for almost ten whole minutes!).

So Mommy is doing something that is simply, strictly for her and only her.  I’m going to go to Yoga once a week.  I’m actually going to get up at the crack of morning, put on real people clothes, grab the mat my kids have been using as a play toy for years, and go take Yoga classes.  And I’m going to stick with it.  That’s why I’m telling you cyber-people.  I need to be held accountable for actually following through with this – unlike every other harebrained idea I’ve come up with (seriously, why did I think it was a good idea to join a gym for the first time when I was pregnant?).

The plus side to this lunacy?  Not only will it help my completely out of control arthritis, and give me a least a few moments of actual peace once a week – but I’ll actually be exercising without being miserable.  Plus, I’ll look super by the time next May rolls around and we actually get married!

Win, win, win!

Mason still hasn’t given up the fight – so I’m off to go give him the “Mean Mommy Eye” (I don’t think that’s a real thing – but it’s reassuring to think I have one).

 

A Little Bit Stronger…

You may have noticed I’ve been kind of MIA over the last week or so.  It wasn’t intentional – but it’s been a whopper of a week.

First of all, I’d like to share a conversation that just took place between Kaleb and myself.  As a prelude to this, Kaleb has been trying to understand the concepts of sons and daughters.  For some reason he’s having a really difficult time grasping this, no matter how many times or ways Daddy and I explain it.

“Mommy, you can’t have sons because you’re a girl!”

“Kaleb, it doesn’t matter if I am a boy or a girl, I can still have sons.”

“But sons are boys and you are a girl!”

“Right.  So, I am a daughter.  And I have two sons.”

“No.  You have three sons.”

“What?”

“Daddy is home now.  So you have three sons.”

“Daddy isn’t my son buddy.  He’s my partner.”

“Nooo.   Daddy is a boy, so you have three boys.  So you have three sons.”

Speechless.

Anyway, Kaleb had his extended EEG Monday – Wednesday.  I’m probably going to break this down into a couple of different posts, because it’s a lot to tell, and if I try to put it all down in one post I’ll never get it up.

MONDAY

I had been told I would receive a phone call around 9am Monday morning, letting us know what time to be at the hospital.  We were going to one of the Children’s hospitals in Orlando, and it would take us around an hour or so to get there, depending on traffic.  By 10am I hadn’t heard anything and opted to call.  Turns out, the beds were all full and they were waiting for someone to be discharged – I was assured that a couple of children were being discharged, it was just a matter of what time they would actually be leaving.  By 1pm I was frustrated.  Kaleb had been in his button down jammies (you don’t even want to know what a nightmare those were to find) all day, and had been anxiously following me around the house with his backpack asking if it was time to leave, while I paced around the house staring at the phone (productive, right?).

I called back, was given the same line as before, and went back to wearing a track in the floor (I’m genuinely impressed that Daddy hadn’t tied me to a chair at this point – the pacing was probably driving him insane).  We had everything packed.  And by everything I mean everything.  I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the kitchen sink.  Tablet, laptop, kindle, phone, ipod, chargers, clothes, toys, books, games, paper and markers, dvds, food, etc… there was a lot of stuff.  Most certainly more than we actually needed.  But you can never be too prepared with Kaleb (and in retrospect I’m glad I packed most of it).

By 5pm I was pulling my hair out.  Now we’re both wondering if it’s even going to happen, or if they’re going to put it off another day.  If they do that, I may as well pop cotton in my ears and brace for the screaming.  Kaleb was ready.  He was prepared, he understood where we were going and what was going to happen, and he wasn’t fighting me.  There was no guarantee this would be the case if we pushed it off a day.  And then, just as I was getting ready to call and probably make someone very irritated, the phone rang.  We’re good to go.  Finally!!

Throw the bags in the car, say our goodbyes to Daddy, Mason, and Milo, and off we go.

By 7pm we were lugging our bags across the hospital, ready to get checked in as quickly as possible.  Of course, it would have helped if I hadn’t walked right past registration – thus having to turn around and drag our stuff back to the other side of the hospital.  By 8pm we were in Kaleb’s room.  He was agitated because it was past “quiet time” (aka bed time), and “We are supposed to have quiet time at home!”  I had him flipping through the DVD book to try to distract him – which was working – until the nurse came in to get his vitals.

For some reason I have yet to figure out, both of the boys HATE the little red light being put on their fingers.  They don’t mind the blood pressure cuff, they don’t mind the stethoscope, or the thermometer (as long as it’s under the arm or on the forehead), but they hate that little red light.

On top of all the other nonsense we brought, Kaleb also brought a Lego bin filled with random toys (the stethoscope from his Doc McStuffins kit, a Mr. Potato Head, a beaded necklace, etc…).  He was quite upset with the nurse for the little red light being stuck on his index finger, and as a result, demanded she hold still so he could check her blood pressure.  She was a great sport, and acted like the perfect patient for the Monster Man.  She went and grabbed him some milk – another problem.  The milk was in little cartons like at school.  We aren’t at school, we’re at the hospital.  So now he refuses to drink the milk.  Again, I play the distract and calm game, and he seems to be doing okay.  By 9pm the tech still hadn’t come in to hook him up and Mommy was starting to get agitated.  The kid was exhausted, overwhelmed, and the later it got, the more difficult he was going to be.

Finally, around 9:30 the tech comes in.  And she’s wearing a face mask.  Kaleb freaks out – “She doesn’t have a mouth!” – oooh great.  The tech explains that she has a runny nose, but Kaleb isn’t buying it.  She doesn’t have a mouth and that’s that.  She’s not getting anywhere near him.  I know from his previous EEGs that the tech will need a few minutes to set everything up, so I jump back into distract and calm mode.  When a voice started asking me questions from the ceiling I just about had a little heart attack.  Forgot for a minute that the entire stay was being monitored and recorded by mystery people in the ceiling.  Kinda also forgot to mention that to Kaleb – so I have to answer ghost guy’s questions while still playing distract and calm.

Fifteen minutes or so pass by and the tech is ready, but before we get started, she walks me through what she’s going to do.  Once again, I’m expecting this to be routine.  Put gel on his head, put electrode on gel, cover in gauze square, repeat – wrap head like mummy.

Once more I’m surprised.  She tells me there’s a new skin glue they use.

Um, what?

She applies the gel, then the electrode, then she dips the little gauze square in glue, puts it on the electrode, and then uses what looks like a little mini air compressor to blow the glue dry.

Oh, S**t.  This isn’t gonna be good.

And it wasn’t.

It was a complete nightmare.  Not as bad as the time we had to have the MRI and they tried to sedate him – but bad nonetheless.  He was fine with the gel.  Fine with the electrode.  Not fine with the cold wet glue.  Even more not fine with the air.  Really, really not fine with her blowing the glue dry with her little air gun.  By the time she was halfway done I was sitting on the bed, my legs across Kaleb’s chest – holding down his right wrist between my ankles, holding his left wrist in my hand, and holding his head with the other hand.  It’s taking most of my body strength just to keep him on the bed – it was pretty much impossible to keep him still.

He was worked into such a state that there was no talking to him.  No reasoning with him.  No explaining that the more he struggled the longer it was taking.  Not happening.  I had to reposition myself a time or two – to get one of my legs under his, keeping his butt from scooting down the bed any further; the other leg on top of his to keep him from kicking me in the face, arm still pinned between my ankles… and back to the original position again.

There was no keeping this kid still.  And he was screaming.  Between great, heaving, sobs, he was screaming.

“No!  Stop!  Don’t break me!  Stop breaking me!  I said stop!  X!  I said X!   That means you have to stop!  No!  Don’t do that!  Mommy make the lady stop!  You’re supposed to be nice to me!”

At this point I’m just repeating that he’ll be okay over and over again.  What else can I say?  He’s not okay – not right now – and I’m not going to try and tell him he is.  But he will be.  We’ll be done soon.  In the meantime, my heart is breaking.  I asked her how many more she had – 12.  Okay, start counting.

Just 12 more kid, and you’re done.  Just 12 more.  Okay, okay, look – only 11 now.  See?  Only 11.  I know 11 is a lot – but it’s less than 12.

With five left to go he starts screaming that he has to pee.  Oh no, seriously?  You can’t get up right now!  Just 5 more!  Now he’s fighting with renewed vigor.  Twisting and squirming and screaming.  By this point the tech is going as fast as humanly possible (which was evident two days later when I was trying to wash the glue out of his hair and the entire right side of his head was basically plastered in it).  Finally, we’re done.  Kaleb is shaking like a leaf, and clinging to me for all he’s worth.  She cleans up all of her equipment, puts a little mesh sock looking thing on his head, and puts the bed back to it’s original position.

I ask Kaleb if he wants to go potty – nope.  Not a chance.  He is not moving.  The tech explains that the cords will reach to the bathroom, but tells me to try and keep him from moving in and out of bed too much to lower the risk of him yanking out any of the leads.  I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.  She goes to leave, stops, turns around, and thanks me.  I must have looked as baffled as I felt.  She elaborated to say she’s not stranger to being yelled at by parents when the kids get that upset, and she appreciated my help with keeping Kaleb as still as I could.  I was a little stunned.

After she left, Kaleb finally fell asleep, still shaking like a leaf.

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What she said had me thinking though.  After four years of one test, evaluation, meltdown, nightmare adventure after another – I definitely see things a bit differently.  She was just doing her job.  It’s not her fault Kaleb reacted the way he did – that’s just him.  But had that happened three or four years ago – I’d have lost it.  Because I would have needed someone to blame.  I would have needed to point a finger and say “this is your fault”, instead of being able to accept that it was an upsetting situation and Kaleb was going to react how he was going to react regardless of who was applying the glue.  The same way he’d have a giant meltdown if his PopTart broke, or his tower of blocks fell down.

The realization that I didn’t feel that need – the need to blame his pain on someone else – made me feel a whole lot stronger than I have in a long time.  I’ve always loved and accepted Kaleb for who he is – but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been as willing as the next person to point fingers.  Especially in situations where I feel like I’m failing him, and am afraid the fingers should be pointed at me.  It’s not a pretty flaw, but it’s a real real one.  Recognizing in a tough situation that I didn’t feel the need to blame anyone, especially myself, was pretty huge.

So, anyway.  I’ll write about Tuesday tomorrow.  For now I’ve got laundry to do, Mason’s room looks like it was struck by the Toys ‘R’ Us Tornado, and I have to go buy our Easter supplies so we can start our Spring Break festivities tonight!

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas…

Merry Christmas Eve!  Okay, I apparently forgot to actually publish yesterday’s blog, so yep, I’m looking a bit silly, but it’s all good.

Today is Christmas Eve and I cannot wait for tomorrow!!  Mostly because I think we got the kids some super cool gifts, and I’m stoked at the idea that they might actually like one of them!  Also because it’s Christmas, and Christmas is my favorite day EVER!  Kaleb however, well…

He’s excited about Christmas – then he forgets Christmas and is mean, pushy, yelly (yeah, deal with the made up word), abrasive, and downright not good. Then I remind him that Santa is coming.  Then he tells me Santa is not coming for another three days.  I inform him that Christmas is, in fact, one day away – tomorrow.  To which he replied (the first time we had this talk) “GASP!  Oh no  Mommy we have to hurry!  We have to make the pies before Santa comes and it’s too late and it’s Christmas FOREVER!”  Now at this point, I’m not sure what he means by that.  Yes, we do have pies to make – but mostly because I’ve been dying to make pies with him since my Nana gave me the pie tins I used as a kid.  Christmas forever??  Well, I could see certain parts of that being awesome.  Then I think about my insanely unpleasant excursion to Walmart this morning, and think nooooo.  I’d end up hating shopping – and I love shopping (for anything but jeans).

We went shopping yesterday to get our last minute items (I don’t know why, but Mason is so much easier to shop for this year than Kaleb – and we needed to even them out).  Toys R Us wasn’t terrible – yeah, the place was a disaster, and a virtual mine field of shopping carts, but people were generally being pleasant, so it wasn’t awful.  Sam’s was much the same – though we did dawdle quite a bit.  We opted to put off Walmart until this morning seeing as how we only needed a few grocery items, and it was getting late.

The next thing I know, it’s 10pm and the boys’ Grandma called because she couldn’t find one of the gifts on Kaleb’s list – a really cool one at that!  So, a bit of Google and a few questions later and I’m on my way to Target.  Where I end up on my hands and knees, half inside the bottom shelf of a rack digging to get the very last one that some unfortunate soul tried to hide.  Mission accomplished and it’s home to build Mason’s super cool new Power Wheels.  Of course, every year one of my favorite traditions is watching Daddy put together whatever the “big” gift is – usually with a camera in one hand and a beer in the other.  This is largely because my “Man’s man” likes to skim the instructions (though 99% of the time he really does know what he’s doing – that’s why he is doing it and not me – I’d have sat there all night long scratching my head going whaaaaat?) – and it just so happens that each Christmas gift that requires building is always screwy in some way.

Take, for example, the fact that last year Daddy and Grandpa had to go back to the store many times because the bicycle they had gotten for Kaleb was a virtual disaster (halfway done building it, I ask where the seat is… and then we realize it didn’t come with a seat.  Seriously).  So this year’s problems were small – especially compared with Kaleb’s Jeep – that thing was a nightmare (again, for him, I’m really not much help in this department – I just do the shopping).  Two backward tires (don’t ask, but I’m still laughing to myself), and too many left over screws fulfilled my need for holiday entertainment!

Now, I’m off to give my walking disaster of a 5 year old acrylic paint so we can finish our ornaments, bake some pies, throw a going away party for Watson (our Elf), eat dinner, open Nana & Poppy’s presents, put out cookies, milk and carrots, and off to bed!  Of course, we still have to do, but the kids will be dreaming of… well, who knows what, as long as they’re asleep!

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Crazy Little Thing Called Love…

I know that the boys have a secret bet between them to see how far they can push me before I end up in the loony bin.  It’s not as secret as they think it is.  I see the devilish twinkle in the eye when dinner gets dumped in the dog’s water bowl; I recognize the crazy that calls to me when I give an order and find myself being laughed at wildly while simultaneously being ignored.  I have resigned myself to a lifetime of their crazy little attempts to get me in a nice white jacket.  However, in the midst of all this, I’m fairly certain they’re just straight up trying to give their father a stroke.  Here’s the difference between how they act for each of us separately…

Mommy

I’ve finished making the boys dinner, and sit them down to eat.  Meanwhile, I have a phone call to make, and I have to make dinner for us (we can’t eat with the kids – it’s a catastrophe every time).  In the course of my fifteen minute phone call, while my hands are covered in pizza dough and cheese, the chaos that ensued would have been comical if it weren’t happening to me.  Mason gets up from the table – Kaleb screams at him.  Mason moves the table, Kaleb screams at him.  Mason takes his plate of food and dumps it in the dog’s water bowl, laughing all the while.  Kaleb and I both scream at him, I remove the dog’s bowl, empty it, clean it, dry it, refill it, put it back.  Mason drives two buses and a matchbox car through ranch dressing.  I remove the cars, put them in the sink, clean his hands, and scold (all while still on the phone and covered in pizza dough).  Mason starts finger painting in ranch dressing, realizes I’ve spotted him and am coming for him, and takes off to try and paint the couch before he is cleaned.  I catch him just in time… just in time for Kaleb to start losing his mind because he’s just now realized that since Mason dumped his dinner in Milo’s dish the only ranch dressing he has access to is Kaleb’s… overall it’s a disaster.  Yell for help before ranch fingers can smear his masterpiece on my clothes and Kaleb goes Hulk and upends everything in the kitchen.  And now you’ve gotten a preview of what it’s like when the Monsters eat dinner, one of these days I’ll tell you about the adventures we encounter while actually cooking dinner.

So, eventually we did get to eat dinner, I managed to escape without getting pizza dough, cheese, or ranch on my clothes, and the kids started screaming that they were hungry as soon as the kitchen was picked up.  Now, here’s why I think they’re trying to give Daddy a stroke…

Daddy

On an average day, the kids manage to break at least one thing.  On top of their natural magnetism to disaster, Daddy generally has a “to do” list for himself a mile and a half long (seriously, it’s like the sprinklers are always broken).  This usually is a mix between things he wants/needs done, my “honey do” list, and the kids’ broken, ripped, torn, stepped on, snapped off mess of toys.  Even when he’s sick the poor guy can’t get a break.  You may recall from last week that the toilet in our bathroom got clogged.  You may also recall me mentioning not once but twice this week that I caught Mason dumping matchbox cars down the toilet in the boys’ bathroom.  Well, now it’s got the clog from hell.  I mean, really, like break two “professional grade” toilet snakes clogged.  We don’t know what is clogging it.  If it was a matchbox car, how the hell did it get that far into the drain?  If it’s not, what else could it be??  So, Kaleb goes to the bathroom last night and starts yelling that he’s out of “bums” (evidently this is now what we call toilet paper).  Todd goes to help him out, and realizes the toilet is overflowing.  And of course, it doesn’t help that once a day Kaleb just dropped a monster in the toilet (too much info?  oh well).  So, I’m in the kitchen making dinner and the next thing I know, I hear splashing, yelling, a bit of mostly kid friendly cursing, and I’m thinking Oooh there is no way I’m going anywhere near whatever that is.

After doing whatever it is that he’s doing to try and unclog the toilet, he manages to break the snake he just bought last week for our toilet (Daddy’s potty tool!).  So now he’s got to go to Lowes and get another, bigger one.  Kaleb pitches a fit, because he wants to go to, and he wants to get something to build.  However, Kaleb will not, under any circumstance, use our toilet.  He will only use his toilet.  Getting him to go to the bathroom in a new place is a 20 minute affair, and when we’re talking public places, forget about it.  Those aren’t “safe potties”.  Last year after he potty trained he went the last four months of school without peeing at all while at school.  He’d hold it till he got home.  Anyway, Daddy really needs to get in and out so he can fix the toilet, or Kaleb will not pee.  Doesn’t matter how bad he has to go, he won’t go.  And it’s bedtime, so this needs to get fixed and quick.  While he’s gone Kaleb and I plug in all the Christmas lights and light all the candles – about which Kaleb remarks “Gasp!  Mommy!  The fire dances!”  and I quickly think oh now, please don’t become engrossed in fire.  I really don’t want the house to burn down.  Please!  Daddy comes home from the store with a new snake and we make our back to the bathroom to help/watch.  It’s getting late, so I ask Kaleb what he wants to watch (he gets t.v. on non-school nights), and I got set up his t.v. for him.  I go back to the bathroom, and Kaleb comes back down the hallway, says something about something not working, but I’m not paying attention.  A few minutes later he says it again, and this time I’m listening, but I can’t quite catch what he said.  The third time he walked into the bathroom and yelled “That fricking thing is not working!”  Daddy and I both stop dead in our tracks and look at him.  Before I can register what happened, Daddy asks him to repeat what he said to make sure we heard correctly, and Kaleb takes off to bed.  I go hot on his heels and explain that that is not a word he is allowed to use until he is 18 and bigger than Mommy (which will probably be in two years, so I have to throw the age in there for good measure).  We make this a rule, and that is that.

Meanwhile, Daddy breaks the new snake.  Eventually he did manage to get it unclogged (we think).  Of course, by that time Mason is in bed, with a doll house, a dinosaur that bounces balls, and who knows what else.  The clearing of the bed becomes a scream fest, again.  The night before Daddy was up until after midnight trying to get the little Monster to sleep.  The kid refuses to sleep at night.

So, basically, the kids are trying to send him to the hospital, and me to the psych ward.  It’s probably working.  But they sure are cute when they wanna be.  Mostly.

Pirate Party!