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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The Munsters…

I’m baaaaaaack…

Though why I felt the need to make that sound like an ominous thing I have no idea.  Clearly, I’ve been gone for a while – and for that I apologize.  It’s been a simply insane 6 months.  So, today I’ll play catch up, and I swear I’ll do my best to get back on track with the Monster reports!

Let’s see, where should we start?

Oh!  I actually got married (those of you that know me are probably still pondering such a miraculous event, and those of you who were directly involved with the sanity *AKA Miss Lisa* are probably still sending thanks to the universe that it’s over)!  Growing up I never figured myself for the marrying kind.  I mean, let’s be honest here – I am a giant pain in the ass.  I’m stubborn, have an issue keeping my thoughts to myself, I absolutely loathe dishes and laundry (the two things that just never seem to go away), oh and then there’s the whole ‘crazy as a loon’ thing I’ve got going on too.  Somehow or another I managed to wind up with a man crazy and brave enough to want to marry me – and the fact that he still wanted to marry me in the midst of all of my fanatically insane wedding planning is a testament to either his own brand of lunacy, or the size of his you-know-whats!  So, anyway, here we are, married.  Eventually I’ll throw some pictures up for your viewing pleasure – after I finally pin the silly man down long enough to go through them.

So, now onto the more important things – the Monsters.

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Let’s start with the main man, Kaleb.

Oh, Kaleb.  My budding thief, word connoisseurfood snob *ahem, I mean critic*, scream king, master builder, tree house dreamer, beverage expert, and all around living breathing proof that insanity is hereditary.  First things first – it was time for a medication change.  After three years, we’d hit the limit with his current medication, and after his latest growth spurt (seriously, how freaking big is he going to get?!) it was no longer doing the job.  Allow me to explain that statement.  Kaleb went from a wily, crazy, creative, loud, messy monster to… well… the truth?  A total nightmare.  We couldn’t contain him.  And I don’t mean to sound like we didn’t try – because oh good golly did we ever.  But it so wasn’t happening.  He was completely out of control.  The violent mood swings and meltdowns increased 50 fold.  The ability to stop and listen long enough for words to sink in – completely vanished.  Grocery shopping turned into a marathon game of “get in, get out, quick quick quick before the screaming causes someone to kick us out”.  Dresser drawers destroyed, toys dismantled, books shredded, ear drums pierced.

Basically, it was time for a change.  Unfortunately, our family is more like the Musters than the Cleavers, and nothing ever goes right.  For starters, the boys’ insurance plans got changed in May (can we say pain in the ass?).  Which in turn, meant we changed pediatricians – something I’d been wanting to do for a while.  However, I clearly didn’t think through the consequences of changing doctors in the middle of a state-wide game of musical chairs.  Within days I had a call from Kaleb’s neurologist informing me that due to the new pediatrician, we needed an updated referral in order to go to our appointment the following week.  So, I immediately call the new doc, requesting the very simple act of faxing over a referral so we can go to his neuro to discuss the medication change.  And I was promptly informed that they wouldn’t do it without seeing him.  Which, due to the previously referenced game, they couldn’t do until October.  Ummmmm what?!  No.  Unacceptable.  Danger Will Robinison.  I cannot wait until October.  He needs his meds changed, and he needs it now.

He needs time to adjust before school starts.  We need time to decide the correct dosage, make sure there are no negative side effects (you know, like how he rabidly devoured anything with a hint of sugar within a five mile radius when he changed his ADHD meds last summer?), and you know – chill him the hell out!  So, now I had to play a new game.  Ring around the freaking rosy with the insurance company and every pediatrician’s office in the damn county.  After a week of frustrating phone calls, I threw in the towel and requested to be sent back to pediatric hell (AKA his previous doctor’s office).  Once done – quite quickly at that, I’m pretty sure the poor lady at the insurance company has started making signs to ward off evil every time she discovered it was me on the other end of her phone – I then had the delightful task of wrangling a referral out of the world’s worst doctor’s office.  Now, don’t get me wrong – it was never the doctor I had an issue with.  It was just everything else.  The fact that I’d show up fifteen minutes early for every appointment, yet never actually see anyone until two hours past my appointment time.  The fact that nobody ever calls you back – ever.  The fact that the dragon lady receptionist wouldn’t give you a straight answer if her life depended on it.

Regardless, there I was, making a very simple request – please send an updated referral to my son’s neurologist.  The very same one you have been sending once a year since he was 18 months old.  Not so difficult.  Or so one would think.  A full month went by with me calling the neurologist every three days only to confirm that they had not yet received the referral, then calling the pediatrician to once again request that it be sent.  Finally, the lady on the phone confirmed the doctor she was sending it to – who just so happened to be the sleep specialist Kaleb hasn’t seen in years – not the neurologist.  The next day we finally got to reschedule Kaleb’s appointment, wham bam thank you ma’am!  Of course, it was for three weeks away, pushing us ever closer to the start of school.  Now, we’ve got him on new meds – but of course we’re on the lowest dose possible to start, and have to wait six weeks to go back to increase the dose if necessary (which, it most certainly is).  In the meantime, Kaleb has been a busy boy – but more on that later!

Now, on to the Mini Monster…

Ah, Mason.  Little devil.  Seriously.  Yes, he’s cute.  He’s freaking adorable.  He’s melt-in-your-mouth-sweet when he wants something from you.  He’s inquisitive as all get-out, to an excessive degree.  I mean, how many times can one person hear “what’s that?” in a fifteen minute time span without starting the slide to complete madness?  He’s also stubborn, aggressive, picky, obsessed with cars (still) and deceptively manipulative.  Oh, have I also mentioned that the kid has an arm reminiscent of a child-version of Cy Young?  I’m not joking.  If you had any idea how many times I’ve been pegged in the head by that dead-on aim you’d end up with sympathy headaches.

Not too much has changed in the world of Mase in the past few months.  His vocab is better – strangers can almost understand him more often than not!  His fine motor skills… well, we’re working on that.  He still refuses to use utensils – not that he can’t, he’s just stubborn and lazy, and prefers the easy way (can you really blame him?).  He’s still obsessed with vehicles of all mode and make.  Trucks, cars, buses, emergency vehicles, trains, boats, planes, helicopters, you name it – if it has an engine and moves, we likely have a miniature version sitting somewhere in the house suspiciously positioned for maximum foot injury.  I have to get him a new copy of his “Things That Go!” Tag book for his birthday because he reads it so often it’s hanging on by a wing and a prayer.

Mason started full-day Pre-K this year.  Cue mom getting caught fist pumping and yelling “I’m Free!” in an elementary school parking lot.

All summer long we counted the days.  7 precious hours to actually accomplish something without having to drop everything every five seconds to prevent Monster 1 from strangling Monster 2.  Or Monster 2 from throwing a giant dump truck at Monster 1’s head.  Or the destruction of the house (massive fail on that one)… 7 chaos free hours, five days a week – imagine the possibilities!  Just imagine!  We certainly did.  Dreams of solo grocery store trips and actually eating my own lunch floated through my head like relentless torture.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my kids to death, and I’d do anything for them.  But holy crap.  Between Kaleb’s constant meltdowns and the two of them constantly at each other’s throats, it was just about impossible to even leave the house with them, let alone actually go do something fun.  Add in the cabin fever we were all experiencing by the end, and can you blame me?  I’m just proud I didn’t spend the entire first day of school curled up on the couch in my snuggy watching the freakin’ Vampire Diaries.

Anyway, back to Mase.  He’s officially a big kid now.  No, that does not mean he’s potty trained.  I swear the kid fluctuates between being convinced the toilet contains the devil, or determining the sole purpose of the device is to wash his favorite dinosaurs and matchbox cars.  But he is going to school full time now.  Now, originally, I was seriously skeptical.  Like considering getting a variance and driving him to and fro every day for the next two years to keep him in the school he was in instead of the new one.  Why, you ask?  Because he was being transferred to the school Kaleb was at 2 years ago.  The one that suspended him 17 times in a span of 3 months because the teacher quite simply (and this is a direct quote from her) “didn’t want to deal with him”.

Yeah, remember that?  Fun times.

However, I’ve got a whole lot more confidence this time around.  The reason?  There are actually a couple.  First, Mase isn’t Kaleb.  Was I worried about his brother’s reputation preceding him and making the road a bit bumpy?  Are you kidding?  I was terrified.  However, we finally got a lucky break.  When I went to the IEP meeting to discuss this upcoming year, I couldn’t have been more thrilled – he was getting a teacher I actually knew (not well, but well enough to have faith that things were going in a good direction), and liked.  I’d met her on multiple occasions while Kaleb attended the school, and I have a great deal of admiration for her – in much the same manner I do for Kaleb’s current teacher, who has turned into no less than a walking talking miracle for him.  So, that right there was a great big chunk of balm on my nerves.

The icing on the cake?  The administration has changed.  I don’t know where the old principal went, and quite frankly, I don’t care.  I don’t hate the woman, I’m sure she’s probably a generally nice lady who did her best.  However, I don’t take well to my child being treated like nothing more than a pest that won’t stop circling your head.  As much as I’d like to say she went out of her way to help him – it just isn’t true.  The VP at the school he’s at now?  I could, would, have, and will continue to say that he’s gone above and beyond.  It’s an insane comfort to know the people in charge of my child’s school actually care about the children – because I’ve met plenty that don’t in my short lifetime.  So, new administration, new teacher, new beginning.

So far Mase seems to be loving it – though I do feel bad – nobody sees the Mase-train coming until it’s steamrolled over them a couple dozen times.

So, there we have it.  New school year, new meds, oh and we finally got a golf cart!  We then promptly destroyed one of the batteries.  Yep.  We’re definitely more of the Munster type of family on this block.

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A Kind Of Hush…

Mason, the murderous fish Monster has struck again.

And this time it was catastrophic.  7 dead fish.  Every single fish left in the tank is now floating in the bottom of a bowl.  Life cruelly ripped away from their glowy fins.

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And of course, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

I’m writing this from the quiet comfort of Granny K and Grandpa Dave’s house in Massachusetts.  The fish incident happened on Sunday night – as Daddy and I were attempting to pack everyone’s bags, clean the house, and make sure we weren’t forgetting anything of relevance.  As I sat on the floor in the office switching Kaleb’s clothes to a different suitcase (I am constantly forgetting how big he is now – therefore, I always forget how much room he needs for clothes), Kaleb did something he wasn’t supposed to do.  I can’t even remember what he did at this point.  What I do remember is yelling “Hey!” which was followed immediately by a sinking feeling in my gut when Mason was the one to react to the admonition.

His reaction was typical trouble maker Mason.  He squealed, he laughed with conspiratorial joy, took off across the house, and when he thought nobody was looking he pulled a 180 and went back to what he was doing.  I asked Kaleb to find Mason and then tell me what he was doing.  Daddy heard this and went to look for Mason as well. Before Kaleb could tell me Mason was playing in the fish tank, I could hear the vein in Daddy’s forehead yelling (telepathically of course, I do know that veins cannot speak) for me to get my butt in gear and get over there before he succumbed to a stroke.

For two minutes we just stood at the counter (after properly yelling at and shooing away Mason) staring at the fish tank, wondering what on earth he’d thrown in it.  Finally, it was Daddy who figured it out.

“It’s Ritz Bitz.”

“What?  It can’t be Ritz Bitz.  I watched him shove practically the entire bowl in his mouth not fifteen minutes ago.  Where would he have gotten more?”

“He must have chewed them up then spit them back into the tank.”

“Why??  Why would he do such a thing??  Who spits half eaten Ritz Bitz into a fish tank??”

The answer, of course, is Mason.  Mason drags a stool over to the bar where the tank resides.  Mason removed the lid from the tank.  Mason spit a loaded mouth full of chewed upon Ritz Bitz into the tank.  And in doing so, Mason sealed the fate of the fish.

Daddy left to get a haircut, and I got to work on the tank – all the while giving Mason an imaginary verbal lashing the likes of which he will likely never see.  I emptied the tank, scrubbed it out, scrubbed the rocks, refilled the tank, and dumped the rocks back in.  Only to have a couple hundred tiny pieces of Ritz Bitz float out of the rocks.  Oh, Come on.  Really?

Empty the tank, clean it again, scrub the rocks again, fill it back up, dump the rocks back in… and still there are Ritz Bitz.  You have got to be kidding me – I would be pulling out my hair if my hands weren’t prunes.

Empty the tank, clean it again, say to hell with it and grab the small back of spare rocks in the cabinet, dump those in the water – no Ritz Bitz!  Pull out the filter and throw it in the trash upon realizing it’s covered in a gooey, buttery cracker layer.  Open up the new filter and run it under the water for a couple minutes, put it back in the tank.  Treat the water in the tank and start up the filter.  Daddy comes home from getting a haircut.

Finally, we transfer the fish back to their nice clean home.  And one by one, they completely spaz out.  Twitching, spinning, slowly sinking to the floor.  some of them seem to react when they get close to the filter.  Some of them just act all nuts for no visible reason.  Until, fifteen minutes after taking them out of the yucky Ritz Bitz infested water – they are all dead.

Kaleb watched this whole thing happen – and it was a bit disturbing to see how easily he took the whole “the fish are dying right now as I watch” thing.  One by one we pulled them out of the tank.  They ended up sitting in the bottom of a bowl on the kitchen counter because I was sad and couldn’t bring myself to flush them (yes.  I am sentimental about the fish.  The fish I didn’t even want.).  I then catch Mason throwing popcorn in the bowl of dead fish.  Oh child.  What on earth is wrong with you?  Why would you torture the already dead fish??

Anyway, I’m pretty sure we’re done with fish.  It was a nice idea.  In practice, it was traumatic.  Especially for Daddy, the fish, and myself.  I’m really glad we didn’t end up getting a hamster.

So, we are on vacation.  We’re spending one week with Daddy’s parents and family, and then we’re spending four days with my grandparents.  The last time I was up north Mason was barely a year old, and it was winter – so I froze my bony butt off.  But now… well, when I said earlier that it’s quiet – I certainly wasn’t talking about my kids (when are they ever quiet??), I was talking about the area.  We’ve lived in our neighborhood for a little over four years.  In that time I’ve becoming increasingly better at ignoring all of the constant noise happening around us.  But sitting here this morning, I listened to nothing.  Nothing.  I barely even knew what to do with myself.  There was no traffic, no planes starting up or flying overhead, no lawn mowers or any other kind of motorized noise.

It’s been so long since I’ve been around the quiet, when I first woke up I legitimately thought something was very, very wrong.  I knew I wasn’t deaf – I could hear Daddy snoring.  Zombie apocalypse?  Maybe.  But there are too many houses around for us not have heard some zombie-like noises throughout the night.  Nuclear bomb?  Well.  Really.  I happen to be really fond of myself, but even I know I’m not good enough to survive a nuclear attack that wipes out every other noise around me.

Of course, it was around that time that I fully woke up and realized it was just that quiet.  And as much as I relished it, a part of me was silently grateful when the kids got up and started running amok.  At least the chaos confirms that not only has there been no sort of apocalypse (after all, Mason needs at least three more years to finalize his plans), Hell has obviously not frozen over since neither of them were behaving.

Anyway, as soon as we arrived yesterday Mason jumped out of the car and headed for a mud puddle (it was raining).  Which he proceeded to jump, skip, and crawl around in with the kind of glee you rarely see on his face unless he’s making his brother crazy.  It will definitely be an entertaining week.

 

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I Fall to Pieces…

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Rollerblading while under the influence of alcohol is officially the most idiotic thing I’ve ever done.

I was basically abused by the pavement – and let’s just leave it at that.  My lack of grace, skill, and balance basically says it all.  It took me three days to get around to writing this, since I was unable to type with my left hand.  Whoops!!

Daddy came home Wednesday and, after the boys being on their best behavior for the first day, has gotten himself basically bitch-slapped by the reality of life with the Monsters again.  I’m so used to the screaming, the fighting, the constant back and forth, I forget how insane it really is.  They make me crazy and I’m with them 24/7 – I can’t imagine how high Daddy’s blood pressure must be after being thrust back into the Monster’s den!

There have been two poopcasso incidents – one that had me scrubbing inch after inch of Mason’s room with one hand.  That of course, was after Daddy walked in on the mess and I found him standing in the hallway with a look of utter horror mixed with absolute confusion on his face.  After a few “I don’t know where to start!” exclamations I sent him off to bathe the mini-monster while I put on my Poopcasso face and went to work.  I swear, the kid’s room is going to have a faint odor indefinitely, no matter how much we scrub.

In hindsight, this incident is what preceded our less than brilliant actions later in the evening.  Daddy decided he wanted to rollerblade to the bar in the neighborhood.  We called a sitter for the boys, and off we went.  Well, off he went.  I went down.  A lot.  And it was in no way graceful.  At one point I think Daddy was legitimately considering going back to the house to get me Kaleb’s bike helmet.  A few days earlier I had finally gotten a new phone, and my genius self had placed my shiny new device in my right back pocket.  The first time I fell, Daddy said my pinwheeling before I went down was something frightening to witness.  Most of my weight hit my left knee – successfully ripping a hole in one of my only good pairs of jeans.  After that, each tumble landed me either on my left knee, hip, or hand – because even in such a precarious situation one has to protect her phone.

While you sit there laughing at my clumsy and disturbing adventure there is something you should know.  Daddy got me rollerblades for Christmas.  This was primarily because usually while he uses his rollerblades I would ride my bike and he wanted me to blade with him.  Well that’s all great and dandy – I loved rollerblading as a kid.  I repeat, as a kid.  It had been 12 years since I’d been on rollerblades, and my fearless and effortless ability vanished when I realized that I was not invincible – at all.  Save for the day we got them, I have never been on them without something to hold on to.  The buggy I got a couple of years ago for the kids to sit in while I ride my bike came with an extra wheel so we could detach it from the bike and push it.  I’ve been pushing the kids around in the buggy while wearing rollerblades consistently for six months.  With their weight in front of me keeping it steady, I’ve never had a problem staying on my feet.

Obviously, I have learned I did not earn my confidence on wheels the way I thought I had.  At one point that night I was going down, and I knew I’d be going down hard, and without thinking I grabbed for Daddy to steady me – successfully bringing him down with me.  Of course, he was wearing shorts, so he got a bit cut up.  That was pretty much the end of that.  Well, kind of.  We took a trip through the neighborhood cemetery on the way back to the house (yes, there is a cemetery in the neighborhood, and yes, I’m odd enough to have really wanted a look at it).  At some point during this little detour my phone fell out of my pocket.  We were already halfway home before I realized this.  I had just taken Daddy down with me, and when I went to check and make sure the phone was good, I discovered it wasn’t there.

This was a big problem.  Daddy told me to sit where I was and he would go find it – and off he went.  After waiting for what felt like forever, I felt really guilty and attempted to go after him to help.  Thus falling twice more, the second time hard enough to jolt my wrist pretty badly.  Defeated, I took my rollerblades off and started to limp back toward him.  About two minutes later he came back around the corner, phone in hand.  He took one look at me and started laughing.

I’m pretty sure he’s still laughing.

Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson.  And even though I basically wrecked my left side for a few days, it was worth it.  Because by the time the Monsters are done with him, Daddy’s going to need that memory of me bedraggled and bruised to laugh at in order to ward off the men in little white coats.

There have been positives and negatives to Kaleb being home full time.  On the plus side, Mason will actually work with Kaleb, so his language is really starting to blossom.  On the down side, not all the language he is picking up is good.  “I said NO!”  tends to be a favorite amongst them both.  Or, depending on what it is they want “I said YES!”

Then of course is the constant battling between them.  Mason refuses to keep the door to the porch closed.  Kaleb closes it.  Mason screams.  Mason opens it, Kaleb screams.  The vein in Daddy’s forehead begins to throb visibly.

The living room is clean.  The living room is trashed.  Mason lines up his cars, Kaleb demolishes them.  Kaleb builds something.  Mason makes attempts to reach, eat, grab, kick, touch, knock over, or take it.  Kaleb screams.  Mason laughs.  Kaleb screams louder.  Mason laughs louder.  Kaleb screams at the top of his lungs and lunges for Mason.  Mason screams.  I’m pretty sure that vein in Daddy’s forehead has its own pulse now.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are a constant battle.  The dog is getting fat from Mason throwing him food, my ears are going to bleed, from Kaleb screaming over one particular issue or another – not enough ranch, asparagus is too mushy, etcetera and so on.

Poor Daddy left one war zone for another.

But boy am I happy to have someone here to join me in combat!

Since You’ve Been Gone…

Kaleb has taken it upon himself to become an informant on Mason.  By that, I mean every time Mason strips himself of his diaper Kaleb shrieks across the house “Mommy!  Mason’s Naked!”  And if Mason has opted to take off all his clothes he will shout “Mommy!  Mason’s Super Naked!”

Unfortunately, as much as this sounds like a blessing, it’s got some big downfalls.  Like Kaleb not going to sleep until Mason goes to sleep because he feels the need to run to Mason’s room every fifteen minutes to make sure he isn’t naked.  Neither Mason or Leah taking a nap because Kaleb is constantly running into the gate to make sure they aren’t naked.  Or this morning – this morning was the worst.  I woke up at 6am to Kaleb screaming.  He was screaming at Mason.  I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but Mason was still sleeping, so this was not cool.  As I made my way out to see what was going on, Kaleb stopped shouting and headed in my direction.  I asked him what he was screaming at Mason for – because Mason was sleeping, and it wasn’t nice to wake him up.  Kaleb’s response?

“I had to see if Mason was naked!  He wouldn’t stand up!”

Oh good grief.

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Okay, so I’ve been pretty absent over the last couple weeks – sorry about that.  There’s been a LOT going on.  I started writing this Thursday – today is Tuesday.  That seems to be the reoccurring pattern for the last few weeks, I’ve barely touched the computer.  In part because of the kids, and in part because I have a bunch of different projects going on at the same time, and I can only do them in bits and pieces while the kids are sleeping.  Which is typically when I write if I don’t get it done in the morning during breakfast time.

I mean, it’s actually gotten kind of ridiculous.  I have a bunch of save the dates to address (and don’t bother suggesting the printer, every time I have attempted to use that infuriating device I end up with a paper jam and ink everywhere), and I can only do a few in a sitting because after about five my handwriting turns to something so illegible even I can’t read it.  I have finally finished painting all of the tiny wooden letters for Mason’s walls (that took me almost two weeks after sorting them all out).  But, I still need to finish the shadow boxes and the canvases for his walls – which is a huge problem since every time I sit down with them I draw a massive blank on how I want to do them.  I have a cabinet I need to sand down and paint to replace the crumbling POS I’ve been using to house the kids’ artwork, coloring books, work books, etc.  I have to transport all of the stuff I’ve stock piled for a garage sale out of our garage before Daddy comes home and has a mini-stroke at the pile of boxes and bags in the corner.

I’ve got picture frames with plastic instead of glass to paint with chalkboard paint, then convert into daily schedules for the boys.  All of the other projects I’ve had going on for a while and have been trying to balance them with all our other activities.  The schedules are a new project, and have planted themselves pretty firmly at the top of my list.  Our house has always been pretty loosely controlled chaos.  I want the kids to be able to adapt to sudden change and the unknown.  Now, that’s not to say we don’t have a routine, or we just throw the kids into potentially meltdown-causing events without warning.  When we know something big is coming (such as an upcoming trip up north) we talk about it constantly, so they can be ready for it.  I know how well Kaleb does with routine and structure.  Sometimes I feel like I’m cutting of my nose to spite my face with the whole “life is chaos” theory.

So, I’ve decided to try to balance the two a bit better.  We used to have picture boards and schedules all over the house.  Until Mason started eating them.  And Kaleb started having meltdowns because Mason was eating his pictures.  So, since Mason had no interest in using the pictures, and Kaleb no longer needed them to communicate, we took them down.  I’m going to make each kid their own daily schedule – on the chalkboard so I can adjust the times each day as needed.  I want to set it up so we have a few hours spread out through the day for “school work”, as well as separate time for me and the boys individually.  However, the schedule will not be the same every day.  I’ll change it up each day, moving around the activities and times – sometimes we may have adjust in the middle of the day.  I still want them to be able to adapt to chaos, but I also need to prepare Kaleb for his first year of kindergarten and Mason for his first year of pre-school.  Anyway, we’ve been busy doing other things as well.

First off, after a week of nothing but play and nonsense, we’ve been attempting to get the house back in order.  And what I mean by that is – I’m trying to clean while the boys have metaphorically superglued themselves to my backside and proceeded to fight and argue with one another while making a mess behind me.  I still don’t know why I try.  I remember a time when my house was clean.  It is not clean any longer.  In fact, it looks like a herd of bulls ran through it.  Bulls with sledge hammers.  Costumes from us playing dress up and going on treasure hunts strewn everywhere.  Potato head body parts launched like rockets through the living room.  Doll houses, furniture, cars, and people.  Puzzle pieces scattered.  Alphabooks strategically placed in locations designed to make me slip and break my neck.  Dinosaurs, dragons, and legos hidden everywhere.  Kaleb’s stories, books, and assorted artwork on every surface… it’s a giant mess.

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Then again, the fun parts are totally worth the mess.  Both of the Monsters love music of all different genres and styles.  Classical music helps Kaleb calm down, but put on some Adele and the boy will be singing “Rumor Ha-Ha” with every bit of passion he has.  Mason is the kid who likes to dance though.  I have come to realize I’m going to have to put him in a dance class of some sort since it appears he has inherited my unfortunate rhythm (or lack thereof).  But he loves to dance.  We don’t watch a lot of ‘typical’ tv with them around – it’s usually Disney Jr., movies, or music.  However, one of the few shows I love to watch with them (aside from Jeopardy!) is So You Think You Can Dance.

I can’t dance.  I know this.  It is a well documented fact, and if for some reason you should see me attempt to do so you should either knock me out, shield your eyes, or run in the opposite direction.  I have no hopes of ever being a participant on this show.  The boys however?  Different story.  Every time we watch it Kaleb asks me if someday we can go there with all the dancers.  Mason doesn’t ask anything – he just dances.  I have been trying to capture video of this forever, but he’s elusive, that kid.

Anyway, Nigel says “Cue Music” and Mase moves his little body all over the place.  He usually tries to mimic whatever he sees on the screen – which is 100% of the time really entertaining.  He goes from ballet to jazz to hip hop and back again – it’s absolutely hysterical.  Especially when he’s pretty much naked pretty much most of the time.

On the less humorous side of things, we had a meeting the other day to determine Kaleb’s placement in kindergarten next year.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around the entire meeting and the decision that was made so that will be a post for tomorrow (or whatever day I’m able to sit here for more than five minutes without being attacked by my Monsters).  I would however, like to ask anyone who knows anything about EBD to share thoughts and feelings on it, because I’m still trying to decide how I feel.

Hopefully I’ll actually be back to posting regularly after this – we are cleaning the main part of the house today.  Well, we’re going to try.  Well, I’m going to try.  Oh, who am I kidding?

I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you what a disaster my house still is.

Make it Stop…

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Mason really needs his own warning label today.

And for once it’s not because he’s in a mood.

However, he is a walking hazard to himself today.  If he keeps going the way he has been all morning we’re going to end up in the E.R.  It’s actually a minor miracle we haven’t already.

First he got into the cabinet where we keep the bulk canned goods and such.  He pulls out a giant can of soup, and starts trudging across the kitchen with it.  When I tell him to put it back he opts instead to drop it.  On his toe.  Oooooh catastrophe.  He’s screaming, and hopping (honestly, if he weren’t hurt I’d have been laughing hysterically) around the kitchen.  The poor kid really did a number on his toe – though he won’t let me touch it long enough to get ice or a band-aid on it.

Twenty minutes goes by, and he runs to jump on the futon – and smacks face first into the back of it.  He jumps up to pitch a fit over his head, but trips on his leg and smacks his toe.  More screaming and hopping.

I put some bacon on the stove so I can make BLTs for lunch, and I go switch the laundry.  I walk back into the kitchen to find that Mason has dragged a chair over from his little table, and is standing at the stove watching the bacon cook… Come on!!!  You’re going to burn yourself!  Or fall and crack your head!  Or who knows what else could happen here – get down!!

He has since tripped, smashed his toe, bonked his head, or fallen down more times than I can count.  I know he has issues with his proprioception – but this is just insane!   And there he goes – he just tried to lay down on the couch and rolled right off it.  And on to a plastic picnic basket.  My word kid, should I cover you in bubble wrap??  Would that keep you safe?

Fast forward two hours – I put him down for a nap.  He takes off his diaper, I put it back on.  Repeat.  11 times.  Finally he seems to be winding down to sleep.  Then I smell something.  I drop what I’m doing and take off for his room.  AWESOME.  He’s removed the diaper, pooped on the carpet, smeared it around with his feet, and for the second time this week has shoved it inside the hole on his bed where a headlight was (which has since been taken since he opted to dismantle it).

WHY??????  Why must you do this??

“Poo!  The Poo mommy!  The Poo!”

“Yes, Mason.  I see the poo.  Thanks for pointing that out.”

Bathe kid, clean poo, dismantle headlight case, clean more poo, put case back on, place kid in bed – sit here next to the door where I can see him and guard from further poo incidents.

I really don’t care for Poopcasso Jr.  I’m cool with Mase being a manipulative little maniac.  Really, I am.  I know it’s going to give me grey hair and possibly be the cause of my vacation at the mental hospital – but I’m cool with it.  I’ve made peace with that probability.  But the poo has to stop.

For serious.

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Oh, and by the way – the meeting we had at Kaleb’s school on Monday went okay.  I don’t really know.  I guess we’ll see if anything changes and then figure out what to do from there.

 

Attitude check…

rottenecard_2490462_kgvjp4px2mI have discovered the origins of the phrase “He’s full of piss & vinegar”.  Only it’s wrong.  It should be “he’s covered in…” instead.  Grrrrrrr.

It’s been a busy week.  Lots of running around, attempts to get the house back in order (failed attempts btw, we weren’t even a tad bit successful), and of course, then there’s the Monsters.

Kaleb has developed an attitude worthy of a 13 year old girl.  I’m not even joking.  I look at him sometimes and think you can’t be for real.  But he is.  How do I know it’s the attitude of a 13 year old girl you ask?  Because I was a 13 year old girl back in the day.  And I remember that attitude well.  It was responsible for a vast majority of the time I spent (unwillingly) in my room bitching to myself.  But here’s the thing – I didn’t develop that attitude until around that age.  Not to say I was a darling little kid – I was a pain in the butt who was constantly falling out of trees, wrecking my bike, and psychologically torturing my sister (she deserved it – that kid was violent to the max – I was too much of a pacifist at that age, I was much better at terrifying her).  I drove my family insane.  But it wasn’t until I was a bit older that I developed the I-know-better-than-you-and-will-do-what-you-just-told-me-not-to-do-as-soon-as-you-turn-your-back attitude.

My five year old has managed to acquire this attitude from some unknown source – and it’s going to drive me straight to the nut house.

Meh.  Blah.  HMph.  Meh meh meh.” this crap is leaving my child’s mouth and I’m still dumbfounded.  Tongue out.  Spitting.  Blowing raspberries.  And with this little attitude comes the smirks, the whatever-mom-like-I’m-going-to-listen-to-you laughter, and a steady increase of my blood pressure.A1990F-zoom

 

In the world of Monsters we have good days (rare), and bad days (considerably more common).  Sometimes we have good days that turn into bad days, and every blue moon we have bad days that turn into good days.  Mason lately has been a complete combination – good to bad, funny to infuriating, sweet to Poopcasso Jr.  Kaleb has been coming home from school in an okay mood – only to turn into Captain Attitude within an hour of the bus fading into the distance.  This is not helped by Mason’s insistence that everything is his.

“No!  My!  No!  My!  Nooooooooo!  Myyyyyyyyy!”

Which of course sets Kaleb off like a rocket.

“Everything is not yours!  We share!  Mommmmmyyyyyyyy!”

Of course, this gets switched around every hour or so, where Kaleb is screaming that something is his, and Mason is screaming for mommy.  Mommy could clear every single thing out of this house and they’d fight over a spot on the carpet.

Then there is Tattletale Kaleb.  This Kaleb has me torn.  Do I encourage him tattling on his brother (which helps me cut Poopcasso Jr. off before he can really get going)?  Or do I try to curb it since “nobody likes a tattletale”?  Then again, in Kaleb’s world he can’t do anything wrong.  Mason Starts screaming.  Why is Mason screaming?  “I didn’t do it!”

Well, that’s nice.  I didn’t ask if you did it.  I asked what happened.

“I don’t know!”

Bull.  You were sitting right here yelling at him ten minutes ago.

The blankie goes over the head, and I am successfully ignored for the next ten minutes – save for the sticking out of the tongue, and the hmph.

The problem is – I have to ask Kaleb what happened – because his brother is so maddeningly manipulative, there are plenty of times he starts screaming and crying just so Kaleb will get in trouble and he can have whatever it is that Kaleb has and Mason wants.

They are so very different – and they are so very similar, and they are going to make me utterly mad.  Anyone up for a tea party?

So, Kaleb has spent the last few evenings being Captain Attitude.  Mason has spent the last few evenings being Captain Instigator.  And I have spent the past few evenings pulling my hair out.Funny_Quotes_Funny-attitude-quotes_f_improf_448x448

Which leads back to last night.  It was trouble, trouble, scream, cry, whine, trouble from 4pm on.  Finally bed time rolled around and I’m thinking maybe I could actually sit down and get a few minutes of quiet.  Yeah.  Right.  Have I mentioned that I don’t have delusions of grandeur – I just have good old fashioned delusions of peace.  Those little threads of hope are more torturous than the three + years of Poopcasso artwork.

~~~ As a side note to this, a friend called me up the other day and said “That flower you were talking about the other day?  I talked to a guy today, he said it’s called a Picasso.”  I responded with “Great.  I’m never going to remember that.”  To which she asked how on earth I could forget it – it’s Picasso for crying out loud!  And my immediate response:  “Every time I hear the name Picasso I think of crap.  Literally, I think of crap.  I like that flower.  I’d rather not associate it with crap.”  This statement was followed with gales of laughter.  Thanks for that Miss Lisa.~~~

Anyway, Kaleb must have shouted “Mommy!  Mason is naked!” no less than 17 times last night between 7 and 8pm.  I’m starting to worry I’m going to make myself bald.

Stop.  Getting.  Naked.  

Stop taking your diaper off.  Stop smearing poop on things.  Stop laughing like it’s funny that you’re smearing poop on things.  Stop it.  Just stop.  Please.  Calgon Take Me Away!!!!   Your room is going to smell forever.  It’s permeating the walls.  It’s permeating my nose.  Cut it out!

The first time – I see him.  Naked.  I smell poop.  I don’t see poop.  He hands me the diaper (gleefully).  I ask where the poop is.  He points.  Where is the poop?  A bit more frantic this time.  He starts walking, I follow.  He yanks back the curtain.  Terrific.  There are three giant globs of poop slowly sliding down the window.

I quit.

Clean the kid, diaper the kid, clothe the kid.  Remove poop from window, clean the window, sanitize the window.  Scold again.  Insert child in bed.  No more poop!!!  Yeah, again, delusions.  Well, not really.  He doesn’t poop again.  But he is naked every five minutes.  Naked naked naked naked.  Eventually Mason stops getting naked and falls asleep around 9:30.  I am insanely grateful for this, as I am exhausted and really want to go to bed.  I check on him one last time before I go to sleep – yep, he’s out like a light.  Awesome.  I fall into a near-dead sleep.

I wake up at 5:30am as Kaleb comes shuffling in our room – to tell me that Mason is naked.

You have got to be kidding me.

Sure enough, he’s naked.  He’s also sound asleep.  In his bed.  Soaked.

Evidently he got up at some point throughout the night, took off his diaper, crawled back into bed, and went to sleep again.  Naked.  Now it’s not even 6am, and he stinks.  His room stinks.  Wanna guess what it smelled like?

Yep.

Piss and Vinegar.

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