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.

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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.

This Post Brought To You By The Yellow Angry Bird

Hello again! Hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend and are not being affected too much by the time change. I never really understood the purpose of changing the clocks back and forth, but what I do know is that the time change does not apply to children under the age of five. You don’t know the value of one seemingly silly little hour until that hour is one hour of lost sleep, or until you look at your clock and say, “oh wow, the kids slept until 6:30,” but it’s really 5:30. Not so silly then, is it?

I attended a bridal shower for a dear friend today, and I had a great time. I actually shaved my legs, did my eyebrows, hair, and make-up, and wore a dress, so I imagine that hell is probably frozen solid at this point. I drank too many mimosas and enjoyed catching up with a great group of girlfriends. It was great, and I didn’t make a fool out of myself or completely bust my ass in the super tall wedges I wore, so I considered it a success.

This morning, I stumbled upon an article that was posted on Huffington Post, and it discussed the detrimental effects of handheld devices in the hands of children. I read it, and it seemed pretty scientific and thorough, but it sure didn’t seem very practical. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure the person who wrote it is a parent. Lucky for you, I am a parent, and I am going to respond to that article, point by point, in order to refute it and highlight the positives of allowing your child monitored and limited access to handheld devices. My boys both received Kindles for Christmas 2013, and have used them daily since then. I don’t believe this is poor parenting, but I do believe that unless they have some downtime throughout the day, I will be up to my eyeballs in Play Doh with a sink full of dishes that go up to the ceiling and piles of laundry overflowing through the windows of the house. 

1) The first point explains that excessive use of handheld devices can lead to children developing attention deficit disorder, impulsivity, and tantrums. Carl and Leland have only been using their Kindles for about  2 1/2 months, and I can attest to the fact that they had tantrums and trouble paying attention way before they received those Kindles. Also, they are 3 and 4. For those who are unfamiliar with kids, tantrums are THE THING TO DO at that age. Moving forward. 

2) The second point discusses delayed development, which highlights an issue of poor parenting. Delayed development is not caused simply by overuse of a handheld device. Regrettably, the only delays my children have suffered are delays in picking up their toys when they’re done playing with them and delays in getting into the bathtub at bathtime.

3) This point discusses epidemic obesity. I wasn’t aware tablets had a high caloric content. Clearly we’ve got to cut down on tablet consumption. Stop eating tablets, kids. Onward.

4) Sleep deprivation. The only sleep deprived individual here is me. If my kids are going to be awake all night, it’s going to be for a damn good reason, and not because they feel like playing Fruit Ninja or watching YouTube videos of Peppa Pig in seven languages.

5) Mental illness. The topic of mental illness can be a touchy subject, and I can imagine that to many readers, there may be a sensitivity to discussing it. I would know, because I am driven crazy daily. However, I do not know much on the topic of Angry Bird Personality Disorder, therefore, I am not at liberty to discuss it. I do know that it can be incredibly difficult to overcome, particularly the personality involving the yellow bird, because he’s a pushy bastard.

6) Aggression. If you spent an hour under our roof, you’d know that the aggression levels here are directly proportional to whether or not someone just got a toy or snack stolen from them, which has very little to do with tablets.

7) Digital Dementia. Lack of an attention span due to overuse of digital devices. Like I said before, the attention span wasn’t that great to begin with, so let’s not try and blame it on the tablet.

8) Addictions. My kids are addicted to a lot of things. My kids are addicted to smushing Play Doh with their feet, toppling over huge Lego structures and leaving the Legos strewn all over the living room, ripe for the stepping, and they’re also addicted to macaroni and cheese. However, with monitoring and moderation, they’ve managed to not become addicted to their tablets. I’m still working on the mac and cheese.

9) Radiation Emission. In this case, I compel every person who owns any electronic device to put it away and forget it exists. *crickets*

10) Unsustainable. This point highlights that children who overuse technology do not have sustainable futures. I beg to differ. The overuse of technology is one thing, but being technologically literate and able to work computers and phones, have a knowledge of tablets and different types of software, is invaluable.

It seems to me the inherent flaw in this article is monitoring and moderation. The tone of the article implies that children should be banned from using these types of devices altogether, but it doesn’t give parents much credit. Parents wield a great amount of influence and control, but it’s up to them to use it. Besides, how else will I ever get those dishes done?

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

I’ve always been a pretty avid reader, despite the fact that since I’ve had kids, it’s been pretty difficult to find the time to read for pleasure. Mostly, I’m just reading children’s books or warning labels or articles on Google about how to remove a foreign object from the human body, because my kids have stuck something up their nose or swallowed something they weren’t supposed to swallow.

I’ve been trying my best to instill a love of reading in my kids, and the boys are pretty interested in being read to, Carl especially. I’ve already detailed the harrowing account of my library story time adventures, but I find those occasionally insane experiences to be worth it, because even though we look totally ridiculous and every person in the library is probably wondering where this tribe of heathens emerged from, I’m making books and reading available to my kids. Well, at least two of them. Mallory just mainly eats the books, which is fine, as long as she’s not doing that in 18 years, at the library at her college.

Carl’s school has been celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday this week, and Carl has expressed an interest in reading more Dr. Seuss books. We have a few of them, and I remember how much I loved them as a kid, so I was really excited to share that with him. They were having some really neat, fun activities at his school, like making Cat In The Hat hats out of mozzarella cheese sticks and cherry tomatoes. I was in charge of supplying the cheese sticks and the cherry tomatoes, and Carl was very vocal about his dislike of “salad,” so I told him he didn’t have to eat the tomatoes as long as he made the hat. That seemed like a pretty good compromise, even though he reminded me no less than eleventy thousand times that he was under no circumstances going to eat those fucking tomatoes.

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Leland has obviously taken a liking to Green Eggs & Ham, as he studies it closely.

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Who am I kidding? This child takes absolutely nothing seriously.

Yesterday, we read a few classics by Dr. Seuss, and last night after the kids had finally collapsed from exhaustion, I flexed my Supermom muscle (or what’s left of it, anyway. Some days I feel like it’s seriously crumbly), and scoured Pinterest in order to find some type of neat craft or baked good that was Dr. Seuss themed. I decided on the One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish cupcakes, and I was so pleased that they actually came out looking pretty good! Miracles never cease. They were idiot proof, which was great, because I have the tendency of being kind of a pretty big idiot sometimes.

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Don’t they look yummy? I can tell you based on the fact that I ate three, that they were. They’re devil’s food on the inside, and I used the colored Goldfish for the top. I mentioned to Carl that I’d made cupcakes that had Goldfish on them, and you can’t even imagine the look of disgust, was I seriously trying to feed him FISH CUPCAKES? No, kid. No. Not fish cupcakes. He should just be glad there weren’t any cherry tomatoes in them.

 

Toy Story

Before having kids, I never imagined that our house would become so totally infiltrated by toys. I mean, I know kids love toys and kids have toys, but the extent to which we’ve accumulated toys is pretty ridiculous and only kind of disturbing. Two years ago, we invested in an organizer with bins, but they’ve even outgrown that. Mallory’s playpen is so inundated by different toys that there is hardly a place for her to sit in there. I feel like some sort of crazy toy hoarder, even though I do periodically purge the toys, but only after they’ve gone to sleep, because heaven forbid I toss the doll that’s missing an eye and a leg and totally haunting my nightmares at night, because despite the fact they haven’t even cast an eye on it in over six months, “WE STILL NEED THAT!” I think I’ve seen less freak outs on an episode of Intervention.

Throughout the years, my kids have gone through dozens of different toys, and some of them have been completely, mind blowingly, ridiculously annoying, asinine, and downright horrible. I don’t know what the toy manufacturers of today are up to, but I truly and sincerely believe that some of them are just sitting up in their offices, designing toys for the sole purpose of annoying the shit out of the parents who have to shell out hard earned money to be annoyed. Because that’s essentially what’s happening here. You’re paying for your child to play with this toy, which will ultimately become an annoyance to you. You are paying to be annoyed. You’re welcome.

I’ve decided to compile a list of the most awful toys my kids have ever owned, and most likely still own, because it’s nearly impossible to rip a toy away from their cold death grip. I’m going to go in order from “eh, I guess we can live with that” to “oh my god get that fucking thing out of this house.”

8) Shape sorters: you buy this toy thinking it’s going to be a stimulating, educational toy to help your toddler learn his/her shapes and stick them in the corresponding holes. However, what you don’t realize when you’re naively paying for this toy, is that it comes with more components than a space shuttle, and you’re about to put it in the hands of a toddler. I guarantee at least 85% of the pieces will be MIA within one week, and your toddler will have an empty little box with differently shaped holes all over it to throw all over the house as they weave their path of destruction. Lucky you.

7) Nerf guns: I didn’t think I’d actually ever utter this sentence, but every time my kids are playing with these things, I almost always say it: “DON’T DO THAT, YOU’LL PUT YOUR EYE OUT!” Every single time that sentence comes flying out of my mouth, I feel like an old lady with a little purse full of butterscotch candies, but I can’t help it! It’s so true! Those little foam bullets COULD VERY WELL TAKE YOUR EYE OUT. Of course, it’s only fun if someone gets shot in the face or groin, so my kids always aim for those locations, which is great, because if they are ever in the military, they will have that important experience under their belt. No pun intended.

6) Talking toys: these toys are actually pretty neat. When Carl was a baby, he was given a talking puppy that actually said his name and sang songs. We liked it a lot, and so did Carl. Until the batteries started to die. I have seen the Chucky movies, and I know what that shit is all about. When it started to talk really slowly and its sentences started to drift off into the most eerie fucking silence ever, that friendly fellow got thrown right the fuck into the closet. I am not being murdered by a little green dog. No.

5) Play kitchens: play kitchens are actually pretty fun at first, despite the fact that it took my husband and I nearly three hours to build it, and we had screws left over. Oops. We were so excited for our kids to make all kinds of fun play food, until they started making all kinds of fun play food. I swear, I think some days all I “eat” is play food. How many times can I pretend to eat this pancake? Am I supposed to sip from this empty cup all day? Stop making me eggs. I don’t want anymore eggs. But I don’t want to hurt your feelings. Give me the damn eggs.

4) Legos: at first, you buy your kid a set of Legos, and you think, “wow! This is going to be incredible, we’ll get to build this Lego City together, and have a great time, and it’ll be an awesome team effort, and quality time to bond with my child! What more could any parent want?!” First of all, these Lego sets are priced at just the right amount in the event that you’re a Rockefeller, and second of all, I’m sure I could probably read hieroglyphs before I could adequately interpret the enclosed instructions. Carl and I built a SpongeBob Squarepants Lego boat about a year ago, and it literally took an hour. Who builds these things?! Oh, that’s right. Assholes.

3) Easels: everyone wants their kids to be creative and have the tools to express that creativity adequately, so what better medium than good old paint and paper, right? Wrong. So wrong. You are so wrong right now. The minute you introduce paint to children, the entire world becomes an easel. I have never spent so much time scrubbing paint off of stuff paint isn’t supposed to be on, including my face. The worst part is, I don’t even know how the paint got on my face.

2) Hot Wheels cars: every little boy loves Hot Wheels cars, and for good reason. They’re cool looking, fun, and come in all different styles so that every time you stop at the store and pass the strategically placed Hot Wheels display, at the very end of the cookie aisle, because damnit Publix, you people are fucking clever, you can harass your mom incessantly until she just grabs the Hot Wheels car from your grubby little hands and throws it on the counter to pay for it, before her bloodshot eye twitches. These are great to keep a kid entertained, until they’re thrown all over your living room and you end up stepping on one and your leg slides out from under you and you fall and almost twist your ankle. Not that I know anything about that. Moving on.

1) Musical instruments: a few Christmases ago, someone who really hates us gifted our kids a musical instrument set, complete with a trumpet, a drum, a tambourine, and maracas. I don’t know who gifted this to them, because if I knew, I wouldn’t be on speaking terms with them anymore. Despite the fact that I’d love for my kids to be well rounded and musically inclined, I’m pretty sure the noises that are created with that godforsaken instrument set have the ability to make a deaf person hear again. So go home, doctors. We’ve cured deafness.

If you need me tomorrow, I’ll probably be donating these toys to Goodwill.

Three Beefs

It’s not easy to stay indoors all day with three maniacs.

Apart from them getting cabin fever and destroying the entire house until there’s nothing left but the foundation, it’s not fair to keep them indoors all day, either. As much as I absolutely despise packing everything up like we’re getting ready to go on a two month expedition across Egypt, on foot, it’s necessary to get myself and the kids out of the house to do fun, kid-oriented activities, lest we kill each other if we stay indoors together too long. Anything to stay out of that orange jumpsuit and off the 6 o’clock news.

My kids love the playground, the library, and they love this indoor bounce house place we have nearby, as well. While all three are great, effective ways to get the kids out of the house and keep them entertained, stimulated, and happy, I have a serious beef with each one of these places. As much as I love to see my kids happy and enjoying themselves, each one of these places has aspects to it that make me want to stab myself repeatedly in the eyeball.

Last week, when we went to the playground, it was a beautiful, breezy day. Sun was shining, kids were pumped to be at the park, and I was glad that they were going to burn some energy. I’m kind of a helicopter parent, so I like to stay within 8-10 feet of them, making sure they’re not getting hurt or hurting anyone else. They were running around, having a ball, and I was just relishing a moment of peace.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not a caveman. This is not the stone age, I do not hunt and forage for my own food, and when I leave the house, I put shoes on, and keep them on my feet until I’m back at home. I’m thinking maybe there was an invisible sign at the playground that day that said, “TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES, KIDS. PUT THOSE NASTYASS MONKEY TOES ALL OVER EVERYTHING IN THIS PLACE! GO ON!” I certainly did not see the sign, but everyone else must’ve, because damned if every kid in the place wasn’t barefoot. I watched my innocent fifteen month old child grab the corner of a step, then stick her hand in her mouth. She might as well have been sucking on somebody’s toe. In related news, I just threw up all over my laptop.

I guess it could be worse. At least she wasn’t actually sucking on somebody’s toe.

We also like to attend library story times. When we attend these events at the library, I sometimes wonder if I’m some type of sick masochist, because getting Leland to sit still for a story is the equivalent of getting a wild goat from the side of a mountain and trying to read it a book. Usually, it’ll be me, corralling Leland in a corner, with Mallory in the Baby Bjorn, dangling there like a giant sack of screaming potatoes, and Carl attempting to listen to the story, while he and the rest of the children stare at the traveling circus that I’ve bestowed upon this story time group. Then you’ve almost always got a craft afterward, and did this library employee smoke crack before we got here? You think these kids are going to sit through your entire lame story about a caterpillar, then want to cut and color some caterpillar you printed off the computer five minutes before we walked in here? After I pick up the confetti that was once a caterpillar cut-out, I usually let the kids pick a few books to check out, and by that, I mean, walk to the check-out counter with 38 books, give the clerk 34 books to put away, and then fly out of that place like a bat out of hell with four books, half a caterpillar, and none of my dignity.

The biggest beef, though, has got to be with the indoor bounce house center. Every time I go there, I say a little prayer to the god of bounce houses, that some random kid didn’t leave a surprise in the form of a bodily function in one of those bounce houses. I’m just waiting for one of my kids to stumble upon a freshly laid turd, at which point, I’ll have to attach a fire hose to a vat of Lysol and just douse us all. Also, this is my second use of the word “turd” in two consecutive blog posts, so I’m thinking that deserves an award of some sort. In addition, this place allows kids up to the age of 12 to play in the bounce houses, and I’m not sure if any of you have seen the 12 year olds of today, but if you look old enough to have a driver’s license and a mortgage, get the fuck out of the bounce house. I’ve seen mosh pits that are less insane than some of the shit I’ve seen there. My oldest bounced out of the top of one of the bounce houses there once, and we had to take him to the hospital, but we obviously still haven’t learned our lesson, because we still frequent the place, but only on Tuesdays because that’s when it’s half off. And if I’m not in the damn mosh pit, I’m not paying full price.

A Day In The Life

Recently, I was at the grocery store (because hello, where else do I go with three kids in tow? Nowhere, duh), and I was in line to pay. While Carl and Leland “helped” me load the groceries onto the belt, AKA, threw everything on there as loudly and haphazardly as possible, in an effort to garner the attention of every shopper within a fifteen foot radius, the woman behind me looked at me and smiled. She had a baby sitting in the cart, and he didn’t look like he was mobile yet, so it was safe to assume she knew nothing of what was in store for her. She said, “you’ve got your hands full. How do you do it?”

This isn’t the first time someone’s asked me this, and I kind of inwardly chuckle anytime someone does ask me that, because my first thought is, what’s the alternative? Hide somewhere and totally neglect them? They’d find me. Sometimes I think they can smell me. I mean, I shower daily, but I think they can locate me via scent, like puppies. Or my other alternative would be to start smoking meth and have CPS take custody of them, which some days seems like a good idea, except for the whole crazy meth face. Have you ever seen Faces Of Meth? Google it. It’s scary shit.

Anyway, so the lady asks me that, and I tried to think of something witty to say, but I did my best impression of Forrest Gump instead and said, “I just… do.”

In an effort to not sound like Forrest Gump anymore, I’ve decided to detail a typical day for me, from beginning to end, to show exactly how I do it. So next time someone asks me that question, I can just direct them to this blog post. How clever of me.

5:30 AM: hear rustling on the monitor from the boys’ room. Someone’s up. Shortly after that, Mallory starts moving around. Good morning. I’m up before the fucking roosters. As usual. Roll myself out of bed and sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies as every bone in my godforsaken body cracks as I start hobbling to the toilet like I’m 85 years old.

5:45: make the beds and gather the clothes for the day. Argue with Carl about what color shirt he’s going to wear to school that day. Of course, he wants the color that’s dirty. When he discovers the shirt he chose is dirty, he decides he won’t be attending school that day. Think again, little friend.

6:00: we’re downstairs. First order of business is coffee, then breakfast for the minions. Nobody can decide on what they want for breakfast. This isn’t a five star restaurant with an extensive menu, and none of you people like anything I cook, so let’s keep it simple. Sandwiches or cereal.

6:30: everyone’s eating, and by eating, I mean, pushing around whatever’s in front of them like they’ve just been served hot turd stew. I repeat “eat your food” no less than 39 times, then end up throwing away 75% of everyone’s breakfast. Cool. Hope you’re all full.

6:45: the boys ask for chocolate milk in lieu of the breakfast I just threw in the trash. My eye twitches.

7:15: after chocolate milk, it’s time to get dressed and brush teeth, which to an outsider might look like a rodeo event. After I wrangle everyone into their clothes, I brush their teeth, which usually takes 3-5 headlocks depending on how cooperative they’re being that morning.

8:30: off to school. I load the entire troop into the car and we drop Carl off. They watch Toy Story in the car on the way, and if Joan Cusack ever croaks and they need someone to voice Jessie, I am the prime candidate, because I have that entire fucking movie memorized.

9:15: get home with the younger two. Do some cleaning and complete lunch and dinner preparations while Carl’s at school, then attempt to spend quality time with them if I don’t have errands to run. Usually, Mallory just claws at my face and yanks my hair while Leland asks for snacks every ten minutes. After eating everything in the kitchen, he dumps all his toy bins out, then claims he’s “too tired” to pick them up. My brain explodes.

11:30-12:30: loading back into the car, picking up Carl, coming home for lunch. Dragging Carl out of school kicking and screaming because he “wants to eat lunch with his friends,” but they’re eating chicken and vegetables and he doesn’t eat chicken or vegetables so get in the damn car before I flip out in front of all these people at the preschool pick-up and then the nice welfare people come take you away.

1:00: lunchtime. Usually consists of leftovers or macaroni and cheese. Usually, I have liquid lunch, my second cup of coffee. You guys thought I meant alcohol when I said liquid lunch. Wishful thinking.

2:00-4:30: I attempt to do fun activities or crafts or outings with the kids. This usually blows up in my face in the form of someone gluing their fingers to their face, someone pooping their pants on the way to the park, or the baby projectile vomiting like her name is Linda Blair. We also do Carl’s homework in this window of time, which usually turns into a shitshow, during which he claims he’s “exhausted.” Yes. I can’t imagine the level of exhaustion you’re enduring after all the sitting and breathing you’ve done all day.

5:30: dinnertime. Usually, it’s a repeat of lunch, where I offer a variety of delicious, homemade options, and they opt for the blue box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. After dinner, it’s time for me to list all of the dessert selections. I start to feel like a slave, until they decide on the creamy and delectable Jello chocolate pudding. Good choice, masta. While they are finishing that, I stand in the kitchen and secretly shove chocolates into my mouth as fast as I possibly can.

6:00: bathtime, or as I affectionately like to call it, time for me to get totally soaked, then wrestle slippery, wiggly bodies into pajamas. I let them watch some TV until…

6:30: BEDTIME! PRAISE THE LORD AND JESUS CHRIST! HALLELUJAH!

Wow. I almost caught the Holy Ghost there. You might just see me in church on Sunday.

The Unofficial Handbook For Preparing Yourself To Be A Parent

It’s been pretty difficult to ignore the influx of pregnancy/birth announcements and newborn baby pictures on my Facebook feed. I get it, people- everyone’s having babies! Except me. Thank God.

I always scroll through all the cutesy posts about pregnancy and new babies kind of wistfully, particularly if it’s a first time mom posting it. It’s definitely sweet to see all these women so excited about bringing forth new life to the world, and I was totally there at one point, as well, but it’s hard to not wonder if these women truly know what they are in for. That last sentence sounds a little crappy and jaded, but I’m serious! Do they really know the kind of atomic bomb that’s about to land right on their heads? Methinks not.

So luckily, I’m here to piss on your parade and write the Unofficial Handbook For Preparing Yourself To Be A Parent. I’m not a parenting guru or a specialist, I’m just a lady with a big mouth and three wild hellions. So here we go.

– In preparation for a new baby, after you’ve prepared your mouthwatering, sorely needed cup of coffee in the morning, set it down on the counter, then walk away. Walk back to get it two minutes later. Bring the cup to your mouth, then put it down and walk away again. Twenty minutes later, walk back and finally have your first sip. Then walk away again for another half hour. Repeat until coffee becomes too cold to drink. Put it in the microwave and repeat until you’ve had to reheat it four times.

– Set an alarm to wake you up every two and a half hours throughout the night. Each time the alarm goes off, stay awake for thirty minutes. Attempt to stay awake and totally alert in a dimly lit or pitch black room. When you’ve finally gotten into a comfortable position, get up again and walk around the room for twenty minutes, singing a lullabye and saying “shhh.” Think about how delicious your bed would feel right now.

– When you serve yourself a plate of food, before you’ve eaten any of it, take half of what’s on your plate and scrape it into the trash. That’s the portion your child will eat off your plate after they’ve had breakfast, lunch, two snacks, a cup of chocolate milk, three pouches of fruit snacks, a pudding, and an entire school of Goldfish crackers.

– Watch Nickelodeon or Nick Jr. 24/7. If there is a show that interests you on, set a pack of wild hyenas loose in your living room, and attempt to keep them under control while you try to pay attention to your show.

– For a trip to the mall, gather the necessities. Make sure there are adequate snacks and drinks for everyone, in addition to diapers, wipes, a change of clothes for your potty training child, your baby carrier, your stroller, toys in case the baby gets restless or fussy in the stroller, and everything that could possibly keep your children satisfied, happy, and entertained while you’re out. On your way out, forget your coffee on the counter, and forget to go to the bathroom. Try not to piss yourself, because what the hell are you going to do with all those kids while you’re answering the call of nature? The last thing you need is to be on the news, explaining your children were kidnapped while you were peeing like a racehorse in the handicapped stall. You’re not even handicapped.

– When you’re in the shower, wash your entire body and hair in less than thirty seconds. Showers are no longer for relaxation. Think of yourself as a NASCAR racecar at a pit stop. You’re just in there as long as you need to be, then get the hell out and get back into the race. There’s macaroni and cheese that needs to be made.

– While you drive, make sure you reach into the backseat no less than seven times every three minutes to hand someone something, break up a fight, or take something from someone who’s beating someone else over the head with it. Try not to go flying off the road while looking into the rear view mirror almost the entire time you’re driving.

I hope this post has helped some of you who are new parents or soon-to-be parents look forward to the true joys of parenthood! I bet you guys are just jumping out of your skin with anticipation now!

In other news, follow me on Twitter. I finally got a Twitter account at @LosinChronicles (no G on purpose- it wouldn’t fit, haha). I’m thinking of creating a Facebook for my blog, but I’m still on the fence about that. I’m trying to expand my social media presence in the hopes of creating a larger readership. In other words, I’m just trying to expose more people to my mental diarrhea that flows through my fingertips and onto this blog. Spread the word if you enjoy reading, and thanks so much to those of you who do read along about my crazy life. I really appreciate it! 🙂