On Holidays And Salmonella

October is quickly coming to a close, and while that means the anticipation and excitement of the holidays for most people (read: children and senile, elderly people), for people with small children, that only means one thing:  lots of shit to do, in a really narrow window of time.

November and December are always busy months around here, and not just because of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the festivities that come with those holidays.  In addition to those two major holidays, Leland and Mallory also have November birthdays, and my own birthday is in December, not that it matters, because I have major competition in the form of a guy who died on a cross to wash away the sins of all of humanity, so yeah, I would say I’m playing second fiddle.

The last few days have been spent mentally preparing myself, organizing my to-do lists, and hoping I don’t get a lifetime prescription for Xanax in the process.  Yesterday, we stopped at Publix, where I let Leland flip through the birthday cake catalog in order to pick his cake.  Of course, he chose the one theme that was out of stock: Ninja Turtles.  Mallory also chose Ninja Turtles, which I guess is the result of being the lone girl with two older brothers.

Before any of that, though, we have to get through Halloween.  Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, but now that I’m struggling to get flailing, sweaty limbs into cheap, polyester costumes, dragging them all over the neighborhood in the dark, trying to keep them from getting run over, and poring over candy so my kids don’t eat arsenic and razorblades, I’m really rethinking its existence.  Can’t we formally petition for October 31st to be “Drink Wine & Watch SVU While Eating Reese’s Day”?  That sounds like a much better celebration. Or maybe we can just petition for November 1st to be declared, “Eat Your Kid’s Halloween Candy Day.” I mean, if we have to go peddling from door to door with them, we should get a cut. Just sayin’.

The other day, I baked for the first time this Fall. I baked several dozen peanut butter cookies, and they were glorious. The kids kept milling around the kitchen, asking to help, and I’d let them help with little things. I always think these commercials that feature small children helping their parents cook and bake are kind of funny, because none of that shit ever looks that way in real life. If my real life experiences with baking with my kids are any indicator, the mom in the commercial should have flour in her hair, her nostrils, and her kids should look like vintage antiques, covered in a fine dusting of flour. There should be a screaming toddler somewhere in the background, due to the fact that she’s not allowed to crack an egg, because hello, salmonella?! Toddlers don’t understand salmonella.

For now, I’ll just listen to Bruce Springsteen and brace myself for the tidal wave that’s about to crash upon me in the form of baking, errands, cooking, and to-do lists. It’s all for a good cause. And on the days when I feel like I’m going to flip my shit, I’ll just pour some wine, and when my toddler inevitably asks me for some, I’ll tell them it’s got salmonella in it.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  What they don’t tell you is that a few of those words are probably four letters long and start with the letter ‘f.’

Today, we went to the JCPenney portrait studios to get holiday pictures taken of the kids.  This is our second consecutive year going to the same JCPenney photo studio to have portraits taken, and based on my cumulative experiences of last year and this year, I can say with certainty that it is always a shitshow.

This week started like any other, with a fair amount of hustle and bustle due to Carl’s school schedule, his activities, and keeping track of every other special dress day that his school declares.  Between Hat Day, Red Shirt Day, Yellow Shirt Day, Jean Day, Superhero Day, and every other day inbetween, I’m starting to think that maybe they’re just trying to drive me batshit crazy.  Or even more batshit crazy than I already am.  If that’s at all possible.

Friday was a rainy teacher planning day, so after an outing at the local indoor bouncehouse place, we made a trip to the store to pick up some nice outfits for their portrait session.  Everything fit nicely, they looked adorable, and we were all set.  This morning, we woke up, had breakfast, got dressed, and were on our merry way.

Admittedly, it wasn’t my kids who were a hot mess.  I’m not saying that because they’re my kids, either.  They surprised me pleasantly today and were very well-behaved despite having to wait a while to get called, and were totally cooperative during the photo session, leaving me with a tough decision, trying to pick between 5 different shots that were adorable.

Equipped with the knowledge I have of this JCPenney photo studio, I can attest that there is some type of mysterious force field surrounding the photo studio, and once a child crosses the barrier into this force field, they completely lose their shit.  Never in my life have I seen so many outwardly cherubic looking children, acting like Rosemary’s Baby.

Beautiful little girls in pristine white dresses tearing their headbands and hairbows out of their hair.  Darling little boys in sweater vests rolling around on the floor, wailing.  Adorable babies in tiny ties and argyle socks, clawing at their mothers and screaming bloody murder.

As I assessed the very real chaos unfolding around me, I have to admit, I gloated a little bit, since my kids were behaving pretty decently on the overall, and then I felt sorry for these presumably good parents, who only want to document this time in their children’s lives with a nice portrait, only to have their offspring basically take a hot, steamy dump on their face and flip them the bird.  Figuratively, anyway.  I didn’t actually see anyone drop a deuce on anyone else’s face, but that’s pretty much the only atrocity I didn’t witness at that godforsaken place today.

So, I’ve compiled a few tips on how to deal with your kids in the event that they morph into drooling Neanderthals at the photo studio this holiday season:

1) Keep the fancy stuff off until the last possible second.  Chances are, your kid doesn’t want to wear that adorable little accessory you just had to buy them- I actually witnessed a little girl whip a floral headband across the waiting room like a boomerang. Unless you want whatever cutesy little item you brought to accessorize with under your kid’s shoe (or under some other kid’s shoe), keep it off until you actually get in front of the camera.

2) This is the perfect time to utilize the iPad or Kindle.  Just trust me here.  At one point, the boys were getting antsy, and they started to horse around briefly, and Leland ended up with a huge scratch on his face.  So now, every time anyone looks at our beautiful holiday portrait, I’ll get to explain to them that he looks like Scarface because I forgot their Kindles at home.

3) Keep it short and sweet. This one’s pretty obvious, but I saw a few parents in there who had so many outfit changes, I was wondering whether their kids were getting ready to host the Academy Awards. Keep it short, keep it simple, do a couple of different poses, and leave before the meltdown begins.

4) Bring snacks. If your kids are anything like my kids, they beg for food more often than a dog or a hobo. Keep an arsenal of snacks to keep them at bay, particularly if you’re waiting. I made the mistake this year of not bringing a single snack since we left the house in a hurry, and I don’t think I’ve ever prayed so fervently for the heavens to open up and drop a bag of Goldfish crackers in my lap.

5) Book your appointment early in the day. My kids got up at 4:45 AM today. Four. Forty. Five. AM. Wrap your head around that, then proceed to feel sorry for me as you make me a pot of Cuban coffee. I was glad we had an 8:50 AM appointment, because they were still in good spirits, and the studio wasn’t crazy packed. We got out of there a little after 11 o’clock, and it was a madhouse. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many cute kids acting like drunk high school girls: laying on the floor, crying, and ripping all their clothes off.

I hope this post will help those of you who are planning to take your little ones for professional pictures! For those of you who are taking them this holiday season, good luck and Godspeed! For those of you who aren’t, congrats! You’re obviously way smarter than I am.

The Power Of Yes

I was tired.

Bleary eyed, barely awake, the sun wasn’t even up yet.  It was 5:22 AM and I could feel that I was already approaching the end of my rapidly fraying rope.  The kids were in the living room, arguing over the TV.  One wanted to watch Jake & The Neverland Pirates, the other wanted to watch Tom & Jerry.  I was in no mood to referee that fight, so I told them to knock it off.  The baby was clinging to my leg, whining for some milk.  I was ready for the day to end and it had literally just begun.

The day before had been a bad day.  I yelled more often than I’d have liked, let my anger and my abject need for control get the best of me several times over.   After I put them to bed, I felt an immense amount of guilt.  I didn’t want to feel like a bad mom, but shortly before bed, during a heated moment, Carl said, “you’re a bad mommy.  You never let us do anything.”  That comment, however immature and misguided it was, coming from the mouth of a mere 5 year old, stung.  That one sentence played in my head over and over… “You’re a bad mommy”.  It stayed with me the rest of the evening, and into the following morning, leaving me with a heavy, and, quite honestly, hurt heart.

Flash forward to the increasingly hectic morning we were embarking upon, and I reached into the refrigerator for the pancake mix after Carl requested pancakes for breakfast.  The word “no” danced on my tongue- how many times have I told him?  Cereal or a sandwich on school days.  I don’t have time for pancakes.  That’s too much work for a weekday morning.  As I grasped the box of pancake mix, relenting to the pancakes moreso out of guilt from the debacle of the day before than anything else, I felt a searing pain travel through my badly knotted shoulders and neck.  In that moment, that pain gave me perspective.  That was physical pain due to the strain and tension of all of the unnecessary battles I’d been fighting as of late.  Why do I need to control everything?, I thought to myself.

Simple.  I don’t.

So, in that moment, I chose to give myself over to the power of yes.

This doesn’t mean cookies before dinner or playing tag in traffic.  The rest of the day, I practiced saying yes.  To 90% of their requests.  Wanna color?  Sure.  Wanna pull out all the Legos, dump them out, and make castles all afternoon?  Let’s do this.  Wanna bounce in the bouncehouse?  I’ll set it up now.

I found the less controlling I was, and the more laid back I became, the more laid back they became.  It was such a welcome reprieve from the constant battle I felt I was fighting.  I felt like every time I said anything, they countered me.  Everything was a bartering tool or a bribe.  Everything was forced.  There was no cooperation, because I was being a dictator.  And nobody wants to be controlled.  They aren’t pawns, they are children.

I have been investing my attention and time almost exclusively into them lately, and it’s helping.  They are listening more effectively, fighting less, and behaving better on the overall.  I am giving them my entire self- at the end of the day, I am completely exhausted, but I feel good.  I feel like we are making progress in the right direction.  At the end of the day, I feel less like I’m completing a chore, and more like I’m being granted a privilege.  And I am.

The pain in my neck and shoulders is gone.  Oh, and the pain in my heart, too.

Caught In A Blur

I have heard people say, “man, it was such a blur!” when describing a time in their lives.  Whether it be moving from one place to another, switching jobs, drinking too much in college, I’ve heard this described to me many times by different people.  I can’t recall a time in my life that I can accurately describe as being a blur.  Well, I guess there’s a first time for everything.

Lately, life has really been a blur.  It seems like there’s always something else to do, another errand to run, another chore to finish, another phone call to make, another appointment to schedule, another ass to wipe- and mind you, none of those things are mine.  Not even the ass.  Well, I wipe my ass, but you know what I mean.

Today, I had the distinct privilege of spending the morning at the dentist with Leland, after shuttling Carl to school.  He’s been complaining about a tooth that sustained an impact last year-  I can remember the day like it was just yesterday.  Leland tearing through the living room like the Tasmanian Devil, and suddenly, he trips, falls, and mouth to corner of table collision takes place.  I can still hear the wailing, and I remember holding a wet washcloth to his mouth to stop the bleeding.  Eventually, the tooth turned grey, then black, and he affectionately nicknamed it, “mah black toof.”  We lived with the black toof for close to a year, but recently it’s become sensitive to temperature, and on Sunday, it started to hurt while he was eating a sandwich.  The dentist had previously told us that it wasn’t a big deal unless it began hurting, and that the tooth was valuable for its role as a space-saver for the adult tooth that would inevitably take its place.  Promptly after settling in at the dentist, filling out all the necessary paperwork, and getting called, Leland proceeded to completely lose his shit.

Imagine a wild, rabid animal, corralled into the corner of a cage.  Then imagine poking it repeatedly with a pointy stick.  Then you can imagine the level of cray cray we were dealing with at the time.

As I sat there helplessly, while the clueless dental assistant attempted to cover both of our wiggly, writhing bodies with the same x-ray apron, as I attempted to keep all of his limbs under the apron and away from the dental assistant’s face, I knew then what it felt like to wrestle an alligator.

When the x-ray was finally done, they graciously placed us into a large room with three dental examination chairs placed in the center of the room, where two children were sitting quietly and calmly, having their teeth cleaned.  I glanced down at the creature of the blue lagoon, who was dry heaving and had a spit string dangling from his lower lip.  I knew then that shit was about to get real, before it even started.

The clueless assistant attempted to coerce him onto the third exam chair, bribing him with stickers.  I think I could have probably covered him from the tip of his head to the ends of his pinky toes with every sticker in that place, and he still wouldn’t have gone willingly.  Finally, I resigned myself to the fact that we were going to have to do this by force, and I heaved him onto the chair like a sack of potatoes, and he proceeded to scream like I’d just lit him on fire.  At that point, the dentist decided to grace us with his presence, and Leland chose that very moment to make a great first impression by screaming, “GO AWAY!”

Once the assistant realized she’d have better luck extracting a tooth from a wild hog, she produced a device called a “Papoose Board.”  I don’t really know what a papoose is, but I think it should be more aptly named, “something you’d find in Buffalo Bill’s dungeon in Silence Of The Lambs.”  She strapped him into it, and he was totally restrained, from the shoulders to the ankles, looking just like a burrito, only if your burrito screamed relentlessly and wore blue Crocs.

The doctor proceeded to promptly inject the gums with novocaine, and quickly prying his mouth open with this metal contraption before extracting the tooth in less time than it took me to consider doing a shot of tequila right there in his office.  The dentist was up and gone before I could even ask if it was already over.  Vanished like a fart in the wind.

What also vanished was any trace of the demon spawn that had possessed Leland for the past half hour.  As soon as he was out of his restraints, he was supplied with a lollipop and two Doc McStuffins stickers, and promptly began singing, “I feel betta, so much betta, thank ya Doc, fa takin’ all mah ouchies awaaaaaay!”

I was dumbfounded.  I had some papers in my hand that I had somehow signed at some point, but had no recollection of signing, a happy child, content with stickers and a lollipop, and the assistant was smiling cheerfully and saying, “that’s a wrap!”

I had no clue how we’d gotten to that point.  My brain was still playing catch-up.

THAT, ladies and gentlemen… Is being caught in a blur.

Bad Blogger

Well… I guess I fell off the wagon.

By “fell off the wagon,” I really mean, “flung off the wagon with enough force to kill a man, then tossed down a steep ravine, never to be heard from again.”

Sorry, guys.

Things have been relatively (read: super) hectic around here, and even though Summer felt endless at times, it really went by remarkably quickly. It felt like one minute, we were celebrating Carl’s pre-k graduation with a pizza party and an adorable end of year show, then a week later, we were packing up his bookbag and laying out his uniforms. There were definitely days that I felt were absolutely, incredibly, mind-blowingly neverending, days I would’ve given my right arm for bedtime to be pushed up by, say, four hours, but we had a good Summer on the overall. Lots of lounging around, playing outside, being lazy, and not living and dying by the clock, which is all good in my book.

Now that school is back in session, we are back at the mercy of the clock, and it seems like my watch has become my very best friend. I look at that thing so often, you’d think there was a picture of Channing Tatum on it. The hustle is definitely back in full effect, and it seems like we are all feeling the crunch. As Carl eloquently put it, “school is tricky.” Yes, son, school can be tricky. He is enjoying it, though, and demonstrating that he luckily inherited my brain, because he is doing really well. I mean, I’m really good at Kindergarten stuff. Not trying to brag. Just saying.

I recently volunteered to become Carl’s Room Mom, and in the spirit of doing too many damn things at once, I also decided to restart my blog. Again. For the third or fourth or tenth time. Luckily, I only have like, seven readers, so I’m not disappointing too many people. I really enjoy writing, and with all three of these wackos running around and running me ragged, it is sometimes (read: always) difficult to find the time and energy to write. Hopefully I will be able to fit more blogging into my schedule. I have had a few requests to restart this thing, so let’s see what happens! Maybe I’ll stay motivated this time. You know what they say, the eighth time is a charm.

Sick Days

It seems like lately, it’s been an uphill battle to keep my kids from getting sick. I know they’re still little, and that little kids swap germs, drink from each other’s cups, and subsequently get sick often, but today, I visited the pediatrician for the third time in less than two weeks, and that seems pretty excessive to me.

For those of you who are regular readers, you know that the pediatrician’s office is probably my least favorite place in the world, second to the dentist, or perhaps, the ninth circle of hell, so as you can imagine, I have been less than enthused to frequent the pediatrician as often as we seem to have been frequenting lately. We were one of the few unfortunate souls to not have an appointment scheduled today, and wound up waiting FOUR HOURS to be seen. To a four year old, four hours might as well be four years. I always think those people who get all impatient and snappy at the doctor’s office are real assholes, but I guess I was a real asshole today, because after approaching the receptionist’s window as hour three of the four hour wait from hell commenced, I recall telling the receptionist, “wow, I think I’ve started getting grey hair since I got here.”

Once we were called in, one of the nurses mentioned that there was an abnormal result in a specimen sample I had to drop off for Leland earlier this week. I don’t know about you guys, but if you’ve never had to obtain a stool sample, consider yourself VERY LUCKY. I was mentally and emotionally preparing myself for obtaining the sample for hours in advance, and the specimen container comes with this handy little built-in spork for collection of the specimen. I WILL NEVER EAT FROM A SPORK AGAIN.

They informed me that due to the abnormal lab result, they’d have to obtain a urine sample and a blood sample from Leland. For those of you who don’t know, Leland is not potty trained yet, so they attached this ridiculous bag to him, and told me to “make him go.” Oh, okay. Let me just grab my magic piss wand and wave it at his boy parts. Wingardium leviosa. Did that work?

So after I “made him go,” AKA, kept repeating, “are you peeing? Do you have to pee?” and making swishy water noises with my mouth, they were satisfied with the sample, and then they took blood from him, which involved three nurses and myself holding down this 42 pound child, who for some reason, has been endowed with the strength of ten men, while Carl shouted in the background, “STOP DOING THAT TO MY BROTHER! SOMEBODY HELP!”

Shortly thereafter, they obtained throat swabs of both boys, and left me in the exam room with both of them crying, coughing, and Carl wailing, “why did that man choke me with a Q-tip?”

After all the lab results were returned, we discovered that all the suffering we all endured during the blood and the urine tests were both in vain, because everything was normal, and only Carl tested positive for strep throat. Prescriptions in hand, I promised the boys ice cream cones for being such good sports after all that poking and prodding.

As I waited at the receptionist’s desk to make a follow-up appointment, I noticed a woman waiting nearby, smiling wistfully at the boys. I smiled and told the boys to say hello to her, at which point Leland said, “HI, BOOTYHEAD!”

Seriously, I HATE THE PEDIATRICIAN’S OFFICE!

Solid Ground

Have you ever wished you could loosen your grip sometimes?

I find I have a very real issue loosening up and letting things just flow. Sometimes I attribute it to my personality, other times I attribute it to the fact that I’m a fucking basketcase. Either way, it’s not a pleasant feeling to always feel like I need to be in twenty different places, or else the entire world will crumble and explode. Sometimes, these feelings can have an effect on my temperament and my mood, and if things aren’t “just right,” I can kind of be a snappy little meanie.

I’m trying to be less snappy, and feel less like I need to have absolute control over what goes on around me, because when you’ve got 3 kids 4 and under, “absolute control” doesn’t even exist. I find the more controlling and OCD I become, the harder my kids rebel. It’s a very frustrating thing for me, because when the kids are throwing their toys everywhere, causing a huge ruckus, and turning the house into a circus, it is very anxiety inducing for me. When I feel like I’m losing control of the situation, I feel very overwhelmed, and I’m trying to overcome this.

In an ideal world, my kids would pick up all their toys, place their dishes in the sink, and listen when I talk. But since I’m realistic, and I know that my children are far too young to do those things, and even as they get older, will probably still not do those things, my brain understands that’s far too much to expect from them. However, I wish someone would explain those thoughts to the crazy anxiety that I suffer from when things are not in order, and when my kids are running around like Neanderthals.

I find that I tend to come across as a very relaxed, easygoing person, and I am, when I am not in an overwhelming situation. However, I hide my anxiety very well, and even when my brain is telling me, “oh my God look at this mess Christine look at this mess and they’re just making a bigger mess and now they’re throwing things Jesus what’s next is someone going to take a bath in the toilet what the fuck,” I tend to look very calm and collected on the exterior. It’s a very frustrating and exasperating thing to explain to people. And when I do, I’m often told, “well, just calm down.” And I’m like, “well, I just KIND OF CAN’T.”

Trust me, I wish I could turn it off like a switch, but if it were that easy, would I be on this blog typing this? Hell to the no.

I’m trying to be happy, easygoing mom. I’m trying my best for my kids to remember me as fun, happy, and carefree, and less like Joan Crawford holding a wire hanger. For my own sake, and for the sake of my kids, I feel like I really need to loosen up. I think it would improve their lives, and vastly improve my state of mind, because some days I feel like an atomic bomb is going off in my head about seventy different times.

I’m going to try to sweat the small stuff less, and get upset less. I tend to let things really upset me, and once I’m all wound up and upset, I start jumping to ridiculous conclusions and getting myself all worked up over something that could easily be dealt with in a calmer, more relaxed manner. I don’t like feeling so tightly wound, and I feel like sometimes I’m wound so tightly that I’m fraying at the ends, not unlike a badly laid weave.

When my kids reflect on their childhood, I want them to remember a happy mom, who always was ready and willing to engage them and be there for them. Some days, I feel like I’m crazy or something. Do other people feel this way? Is this normal?

So, HELP ME, OH INSIGHTFUL READERS! I need tips on how to unwind, relax, and decompress in a healthy way. I want to feel less like a robot and more like a human, and I need help with that. Some days I feel like a shell, going through the motions, and if my motions are interrupted, all hell breaks loose. I want to feel less like I’m on a high wire and more like I’m on solid ground.

The Rules To Naming Your Baby Right & Not Ruining Their Life

Every single day, I am eternally grateful I don’t have to work in a doctor’s office or a place where I’d need to call out a person’s name regularly, particularly because some people out there have some jankyass names.

Naming your baby is always a fun and exciting part of pregnancy and having a new baby, and it’s typically encouraged that parents select a name that they feel is suitable and appropriate, as well as one that appeals to them. However, many people don’t realize that these parents may also find other things “appealing,” such as hot pink spandex, mashed potatoes that come in a box, and Walmart brand hot dogs. Sometimes these people are not in the position to make the kind of decision that will bear a great amount of influence on the life of another human being. I mean, think of how important your name is. You are known by this moniker. It’s up to your parents to bestow this upon you, before you’re even born. This involves some thought. And I don’t trust anyone who eats store brand hot dogs.

The way my husband and I worked it out, he got to name our first child, I got to name our second, and we both happened to stumble upon a name we both liked for the third. Carl is a family name, and one that was very important to my husband, so it was also important to me. During my entire first pregnancy, I expected to deliver a child using a cane and holding a handkerchief in his back pocket, because the name “Carl” struck me as an old man name. However, now that he’s almost five, I can’t imagine him being named anything else.

The second time around, I’ll admit that I heard the name “Leland” from the show Dog, The Bounty Hunter. I am a huge fan of this show (I even dressed like Beth for Halloween once), and occasionally, when I tell people what Leland’s name is, people will say, “like that guy from that bounty hunter show?” … Yes. Like that guy from that bounty hunter show.

Now, I laid a few rules down before we picked any names for anyone. I think everyone should apply these rules when naming their children, because they’re good rules, and because I am a genius. Here they go:

1) No excessive use of the letter “y.” You may be thinking, “what’s wrong with the letter ‘y’?” I’ll tell you: everything. In almost every instance a “y” is used, an “i” can be more practically used. Unless it’s the last letter of the name, “y” is almost always ridiculous. “Lyndsay,” “Krysty,” “Dyana” … Really? Is that necessary? How about we just spell the name the way normal people spell it? Is that too much to ask? Or are you too busy spellyng everythyng else wyth a y?

2) No creative or confusing spelling. Later on in life, after your child is done confusing every teacher they ever come across with their creatively spelled name, they’re going to have to put that abomination on a resume for potential employers. When an employer is calling a potential employee for an interview, the last thing they want to do is hire a linguist to analyze the proper pronunciation of your unique little snowflake’s unique little name. Keep it simple, stupid.

3) No nature names. Whenever I meet someone whose name is “Sky,” “Willow,” or some other name based on nature, I automatically assume they’re going to offer me some marijuana. Don’t stigmatize your child with that. I realize they’re not all potheads, but when was the last time you met a kid named Mudslide? Tsunami? Poison Ivy? Yeah, never.

4) No apostrophes, hyphens, accents, or other such nonsense. What is the point of this? It doesn’t matter how many funny little symbols you throw into your kid’s name, unless you’re going to sound out every pause an accent every time you speak it, it’s irrelevant and ridiculous. Also, this is a name, not a set of Egyptian hieroglyphs, so please, quit while you’re ahead, Cleopatra.

5) No hooker names. I realize it’s not nice, but when I think of “Buffy,” “Bambi,” or “Ginger,” a giant light goes on in my head, and that light says “LIVE NUDES.”

6) NO NEVAEH. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I KNOW SOMEONE OUT THERE IS BEING PUNISHED RIGHT NOW FOR TAKING THE WORD “HEAVEN” AND FLIPPING IT BACKWARDS TO TURN IT INTO A NAME. Whoever came up with this idea deserves to be taken out back and whooped, because heaven backwards is hell. Good job. You named your kid Hell. I know you had to be the damn devil to name an innocent kid Nevaeh.

Back In Time

Have you ever wondered what you’d do differently if you could go back in time?

I don’t think I’d do anything differently, because if I did anything differently, things today might have ended up differently, and I wouldn’t change anything in my present life. Things may not always be perfect, and things may go woefully wrong some days, but on the overall, I have a great life. I have awesome, healthy, happy kids, a great husband, and an amazing support system. I really couldn’t ask for more, because I have everything I need and most of what I want. I realize I’m very lucky in that regard.

However, some days, I wish I could go back in time, and visit the 22 year old pregnant girl I was, the jittery and nervous first time mom-to-be. I wish I could go back and give her a great big hug, and tell her that everything is going to be okay.

I look back on how high strung and scared I was during my first pregnancy, and the struggles I dealt with during and immediately afterwards, and I feel sorry for that girl. I had such high hopes for things to go exactly how I planned. After having my heart set on a completely natural birth, I was informed by my doctor that I’d have to go through with a C-section. I was devastated, and I felt like I’d been robbed of an experience. C-sections seemed so impersonal and sterile. Laid back on the table, covered in IVs, tubes, and a drape to block you from the entire experience. I remember shaking uncontrollably while being wheeled into the operating room, crying the second I felt the prick from the needle in my spine, suddenly feeling like my legs weighed a thousand pounds, totally numb from the chest down. The anesthesiologist said, “this is happy! Don’t cry!”, and I couldn’t control the tears, pouring from my eyes, and pooling in my ears. This wasn’t my plan. This wasn’t what I wanted.

When the surgery was over, I was in recovery, scratching my skin raw. They said that itchiness was a common side effect of the anesthetic, and that only made me resent it more. I couldn’t stop the itchiness. All I wanted to see was my baby, and I was being held hostage in a recovery room until I could move my toes. All I could do was cry and scratch. I felt like an animal in captivity, only I was being held captive in my newly empty, itchy, numb body.

When I was finally reunited with my baby, I was so looking forward to breastfeed. I had been researching the benefits of breastfeeding my entire pregnancy, and couldn’t wait to get that skin to skin contact, and start forming the bond I’d read came with breastfeeding your baby. However, no matter how long I held him to my chest, he wouldn’t latch. Nurses and lactation consultants came in with breast pumps and strange contraptions I’d never heard of to latch onto my boobs. I was confused, exhausted, and my baby was starving and screaming hysterically. Finally, hours later, a nurse said, “maybe we should give him some formula until the breastfeeding is sorted out.”

Looking down at my brand new, hungry baby, with tears in my eyes, I accepted. I unpacked the tiny bottle from the small box, and watched him drain it almost completely. He was so hungry. I couldn’t fulfill the most basic requirement of being a mother. I was no good at any part of this motherhood thing, it seemed. He fell asleep, belly full, and I cried for all of my well laid plans. I cried for all of the uncertainty that laid ahead of me, for having to take this tiny, helpless baby home with me and care for him full-time, when nothing seemed to be going right. I cried for the ugly wound in my abdomen, and the even larger wound in my heart.

I wish I could go back to that hospital room and hug that girl, and tell her that motherhood is a learning curve. I wish I could walk in there and tell her that there will be something new to learn every month, every week, every day, sometimes even every hour, about our children. That no one is perfect, and that there are no instructions. That we all wake up, do our very best all day, and go to sleep feeling like we could’ve done better. I wish I could hug her so very tight, so tight that she felt that every single piece she felt was broken inside of her that day were put back together. I wish I could tell her that motherhood is capable of eliciting the greatest feelings of triumph and joy and the lowest feelings of depression and frustration. I wish I could tell her that even though that day she felt like an absolute failure, there would be days where her kid’s smiles would let her know she wasn’t. She was good enough, and she deserved this baby.

I wish I could tell this to all new moms who feel scared, tired, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I’d tell them that the journey that lies ahead is fraught with so many emotions, and that if she just believed in herself long enough, she’d find that her child thinks she hangs the moon. If only I could go back and ease that young girl’s mind, wipe her tears, and tell her that in five years, she’ll be a mom of three, juggling everything and writing a blog about it. She would’ve never believed me.  

Our First Family Vacation Recap!

We are home! In one piece! And I am back to being bloggy, and it is glorious. I really missed writing, even if it was only a short break. I’m glad to be back, annoying everyone immensely. I’m sure the feeling is mutual.

We had a wonderful trip, but my chief concern since we’ve been back is, how the hell did the five loads of laundry I just did when we got home fit into those suitcases? I could’ve sworn I only packed 3-4 outfits for each of us, and for some reason, it feels like I had to wash every stitch of clothing we owned when we got home. Ridiculous.

For those of you who didn’t know, we spent last Thursday through Sunday at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando, and we also went to LEGOLAND on Sunday. The kids had a wonderful time, but to be honest, if I could re-do the entire trip, I never would’ve even bothered with LEGOLAND. It was cool, and the kids liked it, but the kids would’ve been happier to just spent the entire time at the resort. That place was amazing, even though I was so totally saturated by Nickelodeon characters that I was seeing SpongeBob and Patrick in my dreams. That place has everything any kid could possibly want out of a vacation, on premises. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s vacationing with kids, even though the chicken wings there must’ve come from a golden chicken chosen and anointed by the good Lord himself, because they were a dollar each. Jesus.

I’m going to tackle this post in a play-by-play, bulleted form, because I really don’t know how else to do it. We’ll go day by day.

Thursday: I set my alarm the night before for 4:30 AM, but when it went off, I knew I couldn’t peel myself out of bed at that hour, so I laid there, like the lazy heifer I am, for another 45 minutes. Finally, Mike and I hauled ourselves out of bed and started dragging every single thing we own into the car. Word of advice to those who have never traveled with children: if you are planning to travel with small children, be prepared to transport the entire contents of your home. Finally, after Carl and Leland asking us if we were ready to go about 65 times, we were ready to go. We headed out, and the trip was pretty smooth, except for Mallory expressing her total disapproval of the entire trip by screaming her head off for almost an hour straight. I hopelessly stroked her leg, attempting to comfort her, and at one point, I thought maybe my arm was going to be stuck in that position, and I’d have to explain to all the people at Nickelodeon Suites that I’d been disfigured for life because my daughter wouldn’t stop hollering in the backseat. Finally, she fell asleep, and the rest of the ride was uneventful. When we finally made it to the resort, we had a poor, unsuspecting bellhop unload our car, and he must’ve been cursing us the entire time, because we had a ton of shit. Once we got settled into our SpongeBob Squarepants themed room, we decided to check out the splash pad area. It’s a shame we were totally unaware that the Orlando area was experiencing a coldfront that day, because after about twelve minutes, my kids were shivering like they were in the middle of Siberia. We hightailed it back to our room, where we ended up ordering room service- one dollar chicken wings and your firstborn for a plate of pasta.

Friday: we woke up to a balmy 48 degrees, when I promptly realized I’d packed not a single top for myself that had sleeves. Upon that rousing revelation, we trekked to the local Sizzler for a breakfast buffet that was about as nasty as you’d imagine a Sizzler breakfast buffet would be. After we enjoyed that culinary delight, we came back to the hotel, and while I thawed out, the boys watched some TV and Mallory napped. Once the weather got warmer in the afternoon, we went down to the arcade, where we spent $40 in coins for the kids to accrue enough tickets for two whoopee cushions and a lollipop. We returned to our room, where Leland promptly popped one of the whoopee cushions by throwing himself on top of it like his life depended on that fart noise. Once the weather warmed up, we visited the waterpark area again, where we spent the better part of the afternoon, before we met up with SpongeBob and Carl ran away like he was on fire because he was terrified of the giant SpongeBob trying to give him a hug. I got my people watching on while the kids played in the splash pad, and it seems I’m out of touch with the fashion of today’s youth. Since when is it acceptable for a teenage girl to wear a string bikini at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort while she’s on vacation with her family? And how many 9 year olds in this world have iPhones? Is this real life?

Saturday: Carl had been talking non-stop about getting slimed, and since I’m a 90’s Nick kid, I was all about it. They have mass slimings a few times a day, and when it was time to get slimed, Carl sold me up the river, and I ended up getting slimed by myself with Leland and Mallory. Be not so foolish as I was: that slime is not the slime of 90’s Nick kid lore. That slime was just water with green dye in it, and it was COLD. AS. HELL. I ran out of there like someone had ripped my arm off, screaming like a wild banshee, before I realized I’d left Leland there, pissed as all hell. Luckily, Mike got this entire ordeal on camera. I bailed on poor Leland, who was frozen solid, covered in green shit, wailing. After I ran back to get him, he wouldn’t stop screaming at me, and then he just sat there the rest of the time, wrapped in his towel, looking pretty hostile. I guess I lost my mom of the year award after that stunt.

On Saturday, we attended a mini family reunion with my husband’s side of the family who live in the Orlando area and nearby. It was a really nice get together, with lots of delicious food and good company. Even though Mallory got pretty fussy at one point, and I was pretty sure she was in need of an exorcism at another point, we all had a great time catching up and seeing a lot of people we hadn’t seen in a while. It was really great. And I forgot Mallory’s shoes, since I’m obviously brilliant and genius. So she was barefoot the whole time. I’m telling you, I’m destined for People of Walmart.

Sunday: Sunday, Sunday! Sunday was LEGOLAND day, and also the day the boys chose to beat each other senseless before 7 AM. Once we were on the way to LEGOLAND, they seemed to settle down a bit, and the weather was beautiful when we got there, so we were all stoked. It’s incredible how Carl was chattering up a storm the entire way there, talking about all the rides he wanted to go on, and things he wanted to do. When we got there, he was suddenly uninterested in the rides, didn’t want to do anything, was too scared to get on anything. This is the same child who was too scared to take a picture with SpongeBob, too scared to get slimed, but had no hesitation flying like a human projectile down a 40 foot waterslide at the Nickelodeon resort. Go figure. We mostly walked around and looked at Lego exhibits, and ate at this pizza buffet, where Leland ate a plate of “salad,” which was really just a plate of Ranch dressing with four pieces of lettuce on it. Finally, around 2:00 in the afternoon, we called it a day and headed home, which was a fairly pleasant ride, except for when Mallory started fussing again, and I used my amazing bubble gum blowing prowess to keep them entertained for a good half hour. I am a lady of many gifts and talents.

I have never been more grateful to be home than I was when we got home. To sleep in my own bed, to have all the little extras that we take for granted on a daily basis, is all so wonderful. But the best part, above all, is not dreaming about SpongeBob and Squidward.

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