Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 3 Christmas Gifts 2013

1. Baby Alive
    A special thanks goes out to my sister (who has two boys and vicariously experiences the joys of having a daughter through me) for this little bundle of joy. If you haven't seen this it can most easily be found on the Target aisle labeled "Biggest Mistakes and Future Regrets". This thing opens its wide eyes and yells "MOMMY I'M HUNGRY" about every 23 seconds. At which point RJ, who is 4 and isn't qualified to do much alone, tries to mix the tiny pouches of powdered "baby food" with exactly 3 teaspoons of water. Inevitably this has led to artificial green pea smears on my white bath mats and orange goo dripping down the side of my sink. Throughout the feeding GingerBread House (as RJ fondly named her) will suddenly shake her head back and forth refusing the food and spitting it out saying "NO MORE MOMMY!" As soon as we begin to clean up the food she will then giggle and say "Just kidding Mommy, I'm hungry!" This provokes screams of frustration from RJ who then will run to me complaining "I just fed her and she said she was done and now she wants to eat again. AAAAAAGH!! I JUST CAN'T TRUST HER ANYMORE"
   As per the instructions after each feeding we must force feed an entire bottle of water into the doll by squeezing her tiny pink bottle to get the liquid out. As it would happen RJ doesn't quite have enough hand strength to squeeze the hard plastic bottle so this becomes my job. Shortly after Ginger will inform us  "I'M STINKY MOMMY!" And again I am forced to intervene as RJ has yet to master this skills of diapering a baby. Although, in her defense, this thing is quite difficult to diaper and it takes me at least 10 minutes to complete the task because of her stiff plastic non-moving/bending appendages.
   Once a day we must also "flush" the doll by stripping her down, holding her over the potty at a 45 degree angle and forcing another bottle of water through her system while she drains all the leftover goo from the days feedings into the potty. This too is a task for yours truly.
   Oh and as an added bonus I now have to purchase Baby Alive brand baby food and diapers for the newest addition.
   My husband says that as a special thanks for this incredibly life-like doll we will be fedexing one of our dogs to my nephews in Missouri (preferably the aging one who suffers from incontinence, has an autoimmune disorder that requires a human prescription for an immunosuppressant [READ: $$$$], and barks without ceasing from 5:30 am until 10pm.)"You're welcome boys!!"

2. The Rainbow Loom
   Nothing will jolt you out of bed at 5:30 am faster than hearing the ear-piercing scream of your 4 year old saying "MOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYY HELLLLLLLLLLLLP!" As I fling myself out of the bed (please bear in mind I am 5 months pregnant and not quite so agile anymore) I bang my knee on the dresser and catch my toe on the doorframe. The pain is blinding but I know I must rescue her. I make it to the stairs as her wailing continues. I clamber up the stairs taking 2 and 3 at a time but losing my balance and end up half jumping half crawling on all fours. As I round the landing I struggle to see through my sleep blurred eyes what tragedy has befallen her. I can't make out any blood at first but there is some kind of apparatus she is clutching to her chest. As I wipe the sleep out of my eyes and reach the last stair I realize it's her rainbow loom and through the sobs I make out the words "I [sniff] can't [sniff sniff] make [sniff] the looooooooops [wailing now] pleeeeeeease hellllllllllp meeeeeeeeee." And thus I find myself at 5:30 am surrounded by the tiny multicolored rubberbands trying to manipulate a crochet hook to make a rubber band bracelet.

3. Xbox One/ Call of Duty combo pack
   I've heard of "golf widows" but I have sadly (at the young age of 33) become a "COD widow". Every spare moment the hubs has he sneaks into our bedroom (which he has converted into a cave), dons his Turtle Beach wireless/Bluetooth/rechargeable/noisecanceling/overpriced headphones, and plugs in.
   I should be used to this though. It happens every November for the last 7 years when the new COD game is released into stores. I have begun to put the release date on my calendar in anticipation of my foray into single parenting. It also happens every time the "new maps are released" whatever that means. I spend weeks, sometimes months, alone with calls of "FIRE IN THE HOLE" echoing down the stairs.
   However this year it's not just a new game. Its a new game AND a new console which has allowed him to sink his teeth into this obsession with a vengeance. He has hooked it up in the bedroom as our gameroom is currently being remodeled into a room for baby #3. I will say the headphones are a nice upgrade as I no longer have to listen to the screams of dying men as they are bombed. And with a 2 YO, 4 YO and a baby on the way I am far too exhausted to feel lonely or neglected. So here I am curled up in my bed (hubs in his gaming chair on the floor at the foot of the bed) trying to sleep amidst the flash of machine gun fire and the blinding light of the airstrike.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas a la RJ

"Mommy I know all about The Jesus," she begins matter-of-factly on the way home from school.
Stifling a snicker I reply calmly, "Oh you do?"
"Yes. Christmas is the time when we sell a break the earth of Jesus."
It's getting a little harder to maintain my composure.
She follows up with "The red in the candy cane is December of his blood."
And then, "Mommy? Why are you laughing?"
"Because you are just perfect," I reply.
"Mommy? Do you know about the Bible?"
"Well, I know a bit about it," I say.
"Well, I know more about it than you," she retorts confidently. "What is your first question?"

Sadly, I couldn't come up with a question about The Jesus or The Bible because I was too busy trying to stay on the road while I convulsed with laughter. At least I know she's paying attention to someone.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Bubble gum.....

So recently Big Daddy started letting SK eat bubble gum.  Now, I questioned this as she might accidentally swallow it.  But instead, he told her, "we don't swallow gum because it will clog our booty and then you can't poop".  I looked at him with a "why are you telling her that look" and his reply was, "well it worked on me as a kid".  So fast forward a few days to last Wednesday night.  Big Daddy is working and I'm home with both girls.  SK was eating a lollipop with gum in it since she had a great day-(sure we bribe her with candy-our dentist loves it.) 

So I'm cooking dinner and suddenly she comes hysterically running into the kitchen and is holding her throat dramatically crying," I SWALLOWED MY GUM!!!"  I very calmly said, "we told you that you have to be careful".  Frantically she runs out of the kitchen screaming.  I realize she's gone to the bathroom and is sitting on the toilet screaming at me saying, "I swallowed my gum and it's not coming out!!!  The gum has clogged my BOOTY!!!"  Which of course is then followed with, "I'm NEVER gonna be able to POOP again!!!"  Now, of course, I'm trying to keep my serious mom face through all of this and explain that it will, in fact, be okay.  But she gets off the potty and is running to me screaming and hysterically crying, "I CLOGGED MY BOOTY!  IT WON'T COME OUT! and then with complete drama...." I HAVE to call Daddy" (of course all the while holding her throat).

So we call Daddy, and I calmly say, "so SK needs to talk to's important."  And she follows with huge tears and sniffles, "Daddy, I swallowed my gum and it's clogged my BOOTY!  I tried to go potty and it won't come out because it's CLOGGED MY BOOTY!"  So now, I'm really trying to hold  a straight face and he's trying not to laugh on the phone as he calmly tells her, "it's okay.  We all make mistakes, we just can't do it again".  The good news is that she has since used the bathroom so the crisis was averted :)  and we finally were able to distract her and calm her down but we learned a lesson-be careful what you say to try to threaten your child....


Monday, December 9, 2013

My Christmas tree is trying to kill me

Black Friday is probably my favorite day of the year but not for the sales. Our family tradition is to decorate for Christmas. Now I am one of those die hard "we are cutting down our own tree" people and drag my family out to the tree farm every year to search for the perfect tree. Well, actually the 2 perfect trees because I put one up in the playroom for the kids to decorate with colored lights and all their ornaments.
I put on my favorite Christmas album (Christmas with the Rat Pack) and blast Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra through the house all day while we munch on homemade sugar covered cranberries and drink hot chocolate while we decorate with a fire burning in the fire place. The funny thing is that living in South Carolina  about every other year it is 80 degrees and I still insist on the fire and the hot chocolate- even as I'm sweating in my tank top.
Well this year was no different and we piled in the car and headed to the tree farm. We easily picked out the downstairs tree but had a hard time finding a smaller tree for the playroom. All the trees were so big. We searched and searched and finally found the smallest tree on the farm (which was still about 5 ft tall). We cut it down, bagged it up, and headed home. We spent the rest of the afternoon decorating the big tree downstairs and thankfully this year it was cold enough to warrant my obligatory fire.
The kids were upset that we ran out of time to decorate their tree so I plopped them in front of a Christmas movie with some dinner and snuck upstairs to hang the lights on their tree.
 Now I will say that the lights part is definitely my least favorite part of decorating the tree. The cuts and scrapes from the pine needles....ugh. I was steadily working with my sleeves pushed up and was about halfway through when my hands and arms began stinging. I tried to power through but it was just getting worse. This was not the normal stinging. This was intense and just kept getting worse. As I pulled my arms from the center of the tree I realized I had thorns imbedded in my hands, knuckles, and arms. About 150 thorns.
I quickly began pulling the thorns from my skin. As I pulled the last thorn out I looked up at my half lit Christmas tree and knew what had to be done. I pulled my sleeves down over my hands, gritted my teeth, and began to finish the tree. By the time I was done (and had to pull another 150 thorns out of my shirt) my hands were throbbing. I tried to wash them but this only made it worse. I then had the brilliant idea to try putting some lotion on it to "seal" the wounds I thought. Well, I may as well have just poured acid all over my hands as the burning/throbbing intensified. I was sure my skin would melt off as I frantically splashed water on my arms- to no avail.
That night every time I moved my hands I was awakened by the excruciating pain. Even the slightest twitch of a finger would jolt me awake to 20 minutes of throbbing. When morning finally came I dragged myself into the bathroom and as I flipped on the lights I looked down to see my hands, knuckles, and arms covered in huge swollen pus-filled blisters. My right hand was so swollen I couldn't bend my fingers and both arms were still throbbing.

That night I took a deep breath as the children and I slowly walked up the stairs. We stood in the playroom looking at the lit but naked tree. I steeled myself against the pain, picked up an orange glitter covered fish, and hung it on the tree. With each ornament RJ hung on the tree she would shriek with pain.
Halfway through the box of ornaments she looked at me with tears in her eyes.
"Ok," I sighed. "I'll finish it myself."
This is a picture of one of my knuckles on day 4.

By day 6 the blisters had turned into scabs covering my hands and arms. And now, 10 days out, there are only slight scars to remind me of the horror of that Black Friday.
Merry Christmas everyone.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The mom funk....

I admit I've been kind of MIA for a few weeks.  I haven't felt like writing.  I felt like I had nothing funny to say or really nothing meaningful to say.  I've been bogged down with some really stressful and emotionally challenging kids at work.  One of which has challenged me to the core as the student is dealing with the loss of a parent and the remaining parent refuses to acknowledge the child's grief.  The child is completely broken and sad and the parent refuses to allow them any type of help to deal with it.  All of that has hit too close to home for me as I've been forced to examine my own grief in the process.  The baby is in a growth spurt and eating every two hours during the night.  Big Daddy works at night so I've been by myself with both girls, trying to cook dinner so needless to say I've been struggling tremendously with balancing it all.  Trying to be the best mom, wife, daughter, and friend I can be.  All of this has left me coming home ready to fall asleep on the couch at 7:30pm. Just ask Big Daddy-this morning we were emailing trying to set up a lunch date even though we live in the same house. When I asked him why we were emailing, he replied, "because you go to bed at 7:30pm". Ouch.  So as I sat trying to come up with a topic to write about, it hit me.  Ashford and I started this blog because we felt like we were always "hanging by a thread" or stuck in the "in between" moments of life.  We moms struggle with "mom guilt" and trying to please everyone.  It seems like we place pressure on ourselves to do it all and do it all well.  Pinterest tells us how we should make the perfect thanksgiving cookies out of pretzels, or we should have the most immaculate house with perfectly placed table settings.  But at the end of the day, I think we should cut ourselves some slack.  So what if the dishes don't get done and we eat hamburger helper for dinner.  I might pull clean clothes out of the dryer each morning after I've pushed the button to fluff the clothes.  While I do admit I like my girls to look cute in their cute matching/coordinated dresses for church, deep down I know those are tiny specs in the big picture of what really matters.  What matters is that my girls know that they are loved and valued and that their daddy loves me unconditionally-even if I fall asleep at 7:30.  I want them to see that there are no conditions in our love.  I want my girls to know that I'm imperfect, emotional, and some days I'm just not easy to love-and that's okay.  The irony is that it seems our kids know way more than we ever could.  Just last night SK grabbed my face, stroked the hair out of my eyes, and said in a very tender voice, "mommy, you are beautiful and the best mommy ever.  I love you".  With tears in my eyes, I replied, "i love you too." 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Lesson

So tonight we are learning a lesson.
And I am heartbroken.

Maybe it's the hormones or maybe it's the realization that I cannot protect my baby girl. Whatever it is I cannot shake it.
Yesterday RJ went to the dentist to get her teeth cleaned. She did amazing. She sat still and didn't complain and was the picture of perfection. As a reward at the end of the appointment she got to pick two prizes out of the treasure box. She picked a beaded bracelet and a slap bracelet (I cannot believe they are still making these things). She was so proud to wear them back to school and tell all her friends about her trip to the dentist.
When I picked her up yesterday she immediately burst into tears saying she lost the beaded bracelet. As we retraced our steps it came out that she had dropped it and another child picked it up and declared it was hers.
Well, I did what any self-respecting parent would do. I immediately called the dentist on his cell phone (granted the dentist happens to be my father) and explained what happened and asked him to grab us another bracelet before he went home for the day and we can get it from him on Thanksgiving. No problem. Mommy saved the day. Right?
Well, this morning RJ was insisting on wearing the slap bracelet to school.
"Baby I don't think it's a good idea to take the bracelet to school today. Remember you lost the other one yesterday?" I tried to reason with her.
"Well, if I lose this one we will just call Papa Roo and he can get me another one!" She matter-of-factly replied.
And there it was. I realized what I had done. I had inadvertently taught her that there are no consequences in the world.
So we had a big talk about the harsh reality that when we lose things they can't always be replaced. In the end she made the decision to still wear the bracelet to school.
Well tonight as hubs and I were putting her to bed she burst into tears saying she didn't have her bracelet. Apparently one of the children at school had told RJ that if she gave her the bracelet then she would "be my best friend". And so because RJ really liked this little girl she immediately handed over her prized possession in hopes of a friendship. When the sun had set though she realized what she had done and was devastated that she no longer had her beautiful shiny rainbow slap bracelet.
I held it together in her room and we discussed the important lessons to be learned.
1. If someone will only be your friend because you give them things then they are not really a friend
2. When we give things away they are no longer ours
3. If someone asks us for something (or to do something) we are not obligated to say "yes" and we have not only the ability but also the right to say "no"
4. There are consequences for our actions
She went to bed heartbroken. I came downstairs heartbroken. Every fiber in my being wants to fix this. How easy would it be to run to the dollar store tomorrow and buy her a pack of 50 slap bracelets? But I know I can't or the lessons will be lost only to be learned again at a later date. And who knows what the stakes would be next time. We are probably getting off easy with just a slap bracelet.
And so I sit here and I write this and I am sobbing. So what are my lessons?
1. I have to let the world hurt her
2. I cannot protect her and shield her from everything
3. This is building character
And I wonder how much worse this will get as she gets older and enters real school? How in the world will I ever be able to handle the real heartbreaks that I know are coming?

Monday, November 25, 2013

The MOM-ent

It started with a Facebook post by one of my friends. I had just gotten started at work when I decided to quickly check my Facebook account. I noticed a video with a title saying " What made this strong mother cry". My friend had shared the video with a note saying "all my mom friends need to watch this". I decided to tune in to see what it could be. It started as interviews of several different moms asking them what they wished they did better as moms. A lot of the answers mentioned having more patience or spending more time with their children. It tapped in to every insecurity and regret that I have about being a mom. It felt like each one of them could have been me.
Once they had interviewed a handful of moms they then started to interview their children. The question posed to the kids was something along the lines of "What do you love the most about your mom?" The answers were astounding. The children saw none of the shortcomings or flaws that their own moms thought were so glaring. They didn't feel unloved or uncared for. They simply loved their mothers for the beautiful human beings that they were. Well by this point I was starting to tear up a little bit (pregnancy hormones not helping at all at this point).
Then, to top it all off they brought the moms back in and  showed them the videos of what their own children had said about them. At this point all the moms were melting into puddles of tears and I was uncontrollably sobbing. My mascara was running down my face and I could barely breathe. It took about 15 minutes for me to regain my composure. I tried to salvage what I could of my makeup and was able to finally focus and get back to work. (Duly noted that I will have to be more careful with what I watch on FB from now on.)
I couldn't stop thinking about the video though. I kept thinking about how hard we are on ourselves always striving to be the perfect moms and how we can never reach our own standards. It's sad that we place these unreachable expectations on ourselves and constantly live our lives feeling like we have failed in one way or another. I wondered if my children could see what a failure I was or if they just saw me as their beautiful, loving mother.
So the next morning on the way to school I decided to chance it and see what RJ really thought about me and my parenting skills.
"Baby, why do you love Mommy?" I bravely asked.
She thought for a moment while she formulated an answer. (I held my breath wondering what she would say.)
"Well," she said. "You do so many things for me."
My heart swelled. My mind raced. She noticed! All these thankless tasks, all my heart and soul poured into everything I do for her.....she really did appreciate me!!!
As my eyes welled up with tears I pushed it farther.
"Like what kind of things do I do?"
"You take me places and make me things like dinner." She paused for a moment.
A single tear began to trickle down my face as I began to embrace my success.
"But Mommy?"
"Yes baby?"
"Sometimes you really need to calm down and just do what I say.....that would be better."
And in a flash my moment was gone and I began to laugh at the absurdity.

I realized that one lost temper or missed soccer game isn't enough to scar my children. They don't think twice about the things that I obsess over (lose sleep over even). They know that Mommy loves them and cares for them and does her best. They've never even questioned it. So why do I torment myself over every harsh word, every perceived failure? We are all so hard on ourselves- the condition of being a woman I guess. But maybe just maybe I can remember this moment and put it all back into perspective.
They get it. Why can't we?