Good Friday (Grateful Friday)

I’ve been super grouchy lately.  It could have something to do with the fact that we are still very much in the endless throes of winter here in Upstate NY — is it too much to ask for the thermometer to break 40F on Easter Sunday?  It could also have something to do with the fact that I got trolled hard in a mommy group on Facebook yesterday — why are virtual peeps so mean?  Or it could have everything to do with the fact that, after four years of sweet bliss, I am finally suffering from the girl flu again.  (But can I really complain about a four-year break?  Prolly not.  Thank you, back-to-back pregnancies and breastfeeding gods).

Regardless of my grump, today is Good Friday.  Now, I’m no religious scholar, but I’m pretty sure the “good” in Good Friday doesn’t have to do with good feels (because I googled it).  But, hey, I can take some creative liberties.  So, in the spirit of good-ness, and in an effort to boost my crappy mood, here are 5 things that I’m grateful for today:

  1. Easter is upon us.  Which means Easter candy is upon us.  Now, I told Hubby the same thing I tell him every year: all I want is a freaking peanut-butter-filled chocolate bunny.  Every year he forgets.  Every year I let it go, because come on, I have 32-year-old metabolism.  But this year … this year I was cleaning out some kitchen cabinets and stumbled upon it.  A peanut-butter-filled chocolate bunny that he must have purchased behind my back, and is hopefully saving to give to me on Easter morning.  I know it’s only March, so is it too early to award him Hubby of the Year?  (Please, for both our sakes, let the bunny actually be for me.)
  2. Zzzzzzz.  Because I have no regard for my well-being, I am going to go ahead and disrespect the sleep gods here:  Ever since last week’s bitch fest about Ell-Bell’s atrocious sleep habits, baby girl has been sleeping much better at night.  I mean you guys, last night honeyboo didn’t even wake up for the first time until 5:30 in the morning! What? Of course she’s just trolling me, lulling me into a false sense of security so that I fall that much harder when she wakes up 5 times tonight.  But still, I’ll take a few nights in a row of good sleep!
  3. Things are about to get romantical.  The in-laws are coming for a visit next week.  Ugh, I know, there’s nothing romantic about that.  But of course, the silver lining is that they provide free and relatively safe-ish child care, which means Hubby and I are about to go on our first date in four months!  I am way excited, and I don’t know if I’ve ever spent so much mental energy planning a 3-4 hour block of time in my life.  I’m thinking sushi and a movie, but my god, the possibilities are endless!  (Side note: can somebody teach me how to hire a real babysitter?  I’m guessing it would be a good thing to not wait four months between dates).
  4. I’m basically an Olympian.  Okay, I’m not, at all.  I am actually that mushy-armed person at the gym who only ever runs on the treadmill — the one who everyone looks at and says, “girlfriend, you need to get off that treadmill and do some actual push-ups.”  But hey, I’ve been back to running pretty consistently for the better part of a year now and I am feeling really good about it.  I’m getting faster, I’m running longer, and gosh darnit, I might even get brave enough to run outside one of these days.  I just need a babysitter real quick.
  5. I get to spectate all the sports.  I don’t care what you say, I like to watch golf on TV, ok?  It’s relaxing.  For me, April (snow) showers mean only one thing:  it’s time to watch some golf hotties navigate the Augusta greens at the Masters.  Of course, my in-laws will be in town during coverage because OF COURSE THEY HAVE TO COME during the Masters basically EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  But whatever.  I’m also giddy for NBA playoffs and more golf and tennis tourneys on the horizon, for those keeping track.  (Holler at me if you are also secretly in love with at least half of the men’s tennis field, we might have to be besties).

So there you have it.  What’s on your grateful list this Good Friday?  Wishing everyone a happy passover, Easter, or whatever else you may be celebrating in the next few days.

Until next time,

Vee

 

 

Sweet Dreams ’til Sunbeams Find You . . . or Your Daughter Wakes You Up

You know that moment you’ve been looking forward to since you first woke up in the morning?  That moment when you finally crawl into bed and relax under your covers after a long day?  When your head hits the pillow and you prepare to surrender yourself to sweet sleepy bliss?  When every muscle in your body starts to give in, and your breathing gets deeper, deeper, and your eyelids get heavier, heavier . . .

Yeah.  That’s the exact moment that my daughter Ell-Bell wakes up screaming.  Every. single. night.  And it doesn’t even matter what time I go to bed.  She manages to pull it off whether it’s 10 p.m., midnight, or anywhere in between.  What on Earth did I ever do to her?

Am I embarrassed that my 15-month-old is still not sleeping through the night?  You betcha.  Do I feel guilty that I’m still nursing that sweet little demon back to sleep because it’s all I can do?  100%.  Is the end in sight?  God I hope so.

I remember with K-Man, we were sheepishly admitting to the pediatrician that he was still waking up in the night at his 18-month check-up.  But then a few weeks later, he miraculously started sleeping through.  And it was everything.  (Well, it was everything for four months, and then we had another baby.  That was dumb.)

So maybe my life is about to get a whole lot better?  I can do this for three more months, right?

Until next time,

Vee

Oral

My son K-Man was not an oral baby. I mean, sure, he was obsessed with his pacifier, but he was never one for putting foreign objects in his mouth. Which, I now realize, was a blessing. I never had to fuss about what potential choking hazard or foul object might be lying within his sticky little grasp.

Safe to say, I was not adequately prepared when my daughter Ell-Bell basically came out of the womb eating things off the floor.  She is orally fixated to the max and will try to put anything and everything in her big fat gob.  It’s cute, of course, but sometimes can be annoying as fuck! Like that time at 5 months old, when she pulled a pile of tacos off the table and onto my lap, because she was trying to snag a spicy bite.  Or that time (all the time) she was obsessed with her big brother’s super ball and carried it around in her mouth like a dog.

Or that time at the playground, yesterday, when I couldn’t let her roam free for one second because she insisted on trying to put every single wood chip from that wood-chip-laden plot directly into her pie hole.  It was exhausting chasing after her, prying wood chips out of her fists, and scolding “no no, icky, that’s not food!”

As I tiredly pulled my two chunks home from the playground in their little red wagon, I thought to myself, “maybe I could blog about this issue?” But alas, I resolved there wasn’t a ton of there there.

That all changed just two hours later.

Fast forward to dinner time. I let the kids run a little wild while I put everything together. As I was dishing up some baked chicken, rice, and flaccid broccoli stems (anybody else constantly duped by the luscious-looking broccoli florets on the cover of frozen produce bags?), I suddenly noticed that I hadn’t heard Ell-Bell for at least 45 seconds. Wuh oh.  I quickly sashayed towards the living room–where I thought she was–but a shadow caught my eye as I passed by the bathroom. I backed up — idiot! Of course she’s in the bathroom!

There she sat on the bathroom floor, next to the kitty litter. One hand holding a small brown object. The other hand batting at her tongue. A pile of other small brown objects scattered across the floor. Brown smudges all over the corners of her mouth. Do I need to say more, you guys? She was eating fucking cat poop! “Holy shit!” I thought as I scooped her up and batted the turd out of her hand.  I frantically grabbed about 200 wet wipes, crumpled them into a ball, and smashed them repeatedly against her face, tongue, and hands.  After texting with Hubby to confirm that Ell-Bell was not about to die, I set her down for dinner. What else was I supposed to do?

So what do you think, do I win the Mom of the Year award?

I guess, in spite of everything, there are some upsides to having an oral baby.  For instance, Ell-Bell absolutely devoured those broccoli stems at dinner.  That could have been a desperate attempt to wash the kitty poo taste out of her mouth, though. Who knows.

Until next time,

Vee

I Almost Started a War

I think I have gift PTSD.  As I’ve documented here over and over again, my mother-in-law’s gift-giving leaves a little something to be desired.  I’ve realized over the past few weeks, as my son’s third birthday approaches, that I am starting to dread present-receiving opportunities.  How sad is that?

Lately, the in-laws have developed a habit of sending Amazon gifts for birthdays, without any gift receipt included to identify who the package is from.  No shame in the Amazon game, obviously, but the gifts they choose to send are just weird and inappropriate.  Case in point, my poor sister-in-law (whose Amazon wish list is abundant with cute ideas, by the way) received a stuffed Teddy Bear from her parents via Amazon for her 35th birthday.  Oy.

So for weeks, I’ve been steeling myself for the inevitable Amazon package containing some random present for K-Man’s third birthday.  And yesterday, when I opened the mailbox, there it was.  A big fluffy Amazon envelope addressed to my son.  I groaned as I carried it inside, groping it all over in an attempt to decipher its contents.

After a few deep breaths and a shot of tequila (just kidding), I ripped open the package.  And pulled out … a pair of pruning shears.  And a thirteenth-century theological treatise written in the form of “a dialogue among allegorical figures who represent the nature of the relation between the soul and God.”  No receipt of any kind.

My blood ran cold.  And then very, very hot.  I couldn’t be sure who the package was from, but come on.  Obviously it was some kind of sick joke from the in-laws, because my father-in-law loves to garden, and my mother-in-law is a classicist.  Some kind of sick joke, or they were going senile.

I honestly felt sick to my stomach.  This was a new low for them.  My sweet little son is turning three and actually understands what it means and is excited about presents, and they send something that I literally can’t even give to him? What the fuck? Do they secretly hate him?

I shot off some angry texts to Hubby and my sister-in-law, looking to commiserate.  Hubby groaned along with me, though he was excited about keeping the pruning shears for himself.  We briefly discussed instituting a “no more presents” rule that only applied to his parents.  And we agreed that we would go out and buy K-Man one more present to replace this mess.

My sister-in-law expressed genuine confusion, and couldn’t believe that her parents would actually send this garbage to a child.  She suggested we check with them and confirm that they sent the present, since there was no receipt.  Fair enough, I guess, but who else would possibly stoop so low?

So when Hubby got home from work, we called the in-laws.  My heart was racing as he dialed the number, but of course as soon as we got on the line, my mother-in-law dominated the conversation for 10 minutes straight.  When Hubby finally was able to ask whether they sent K-Man a pair of pruning shears and a philosophical text for his birthday, my MIL burst out laughing.

“I knew it,” I thought to myself.  “She thinks this shit is funny.  It’s not fucking funny.”

More laughter.  “That went to your house?” She asked.  And then more laughter.  And then it slowly dawned on me, just as she was eking out her own explanation.  Yes, the in-laws had purchased these items.  No, they had not intended to send them to my son.  Their Amazon default address was apparently set to K-Man from a long-ago purchase, and they forgot to change the default before ordering themselves some gardening tools and what sounds like the worst book I will never read.

Holy heck.  Was this some crazy conspiracy to give me a heart attack?

So this time, I must admit, I was wrong.  My in-laws did not give the worst imaginable gift.  Not yet, anyway.  And as much as I’m still reeling from that emotional roller coaster, I am relieved to know that their gift-giving awfulness knows some bounds.  Thank the Lord.

Until next time,

Vee

I’m Just Going to Leave This Here . . .

In case any of you were wondering what was inside the wrapped presents my mother-in-law left behind for Christmas, well, I’m just going to leave this here:

img_6544

Yes, it seems to be some kind of purse creature.

No, it is no longer breathing.

Yes, it has both black and brown carpeting.

No, I will not be wearing it.

Yes, I did throw it directly in the trash immediately after taking this picture.

No, I did not think it was an appropriate item to inflict upon the Good Will or the Salvation Army.

Maybe she knew I would die of laughter when I opened it? Maybe the laughter was the gift? Because the laughter was amazing.  I almost needed a cigarette after.

Until next time,

Vee

 

 

Resolved

New Year, New me!  Or that’s what I would be saying if I was a basic bitch, anyway.  Which I’m totally not.

But seriously, I always go over the top with New Year’s resolutions.  This year, as always, I have a ton.  Lose 15 pounds.  Eat less chocolate.  Eat less cheese.  Drink less alcohol.  Spend less time on my phone around the kids.  Plan more activities for the kids.  Get K-Man to eat at least one bite of one vegetable.  Clean the kitty litter every day.  Call my grandpa more.  Shower more.  Figure out what I’m doing with my life.

But if I achieve nothing else this year, what I really, truly want, is to be nicer to my kids.  You see, before I had kids, I never in a million years thought I would be a “mean mommy.”  Because though I can be a huge, passive-aggressive “B” behind someone’s back, I’ve never been confrontational.  If anything, I thought I would be too meek with my children, let them walk all over me, let them get away with things left and right.

But here I am, almost three years in, mean as fuck.  Let me be clear up front: I love my children hard.  And they know how I feel.  They get snuggled, loved on, praised, adored.  I’ve never been one to hold back affection.  But, boy, do I lose my patience.  I am not a patient person, and my poor kids are the unsuspecting victims of my inability to keep it together in moments of stress.  I yell, growl, glare, and flail my arms around like a stupid idiot.  It’s a disgusting, embarrassing display.

Even worse, sometimes I lose my temper.  Because when K-Man gets violent with his little sister, I run hot instantly.  I’m ashamed to admit I’m not above picking him up, or holding him sternly by the shoulders, and yelling in his face.  Ugh, I don’t even like to anonymously admit that to the blogosphere.  I just get so frustrated, and I really need him to understand that his behavior is not ok, and in that moment, I can’t think of a better way to accomplish that.

When the moment passes, I feel sick, and I hate myself.  I don’t think I’m crossing any hard lines about how to treat children, but I know I’m crossing my own lines about what I am comfortable with in the abstract.  And I know that violence breeds violence.  I know that I am the way I am, in part, because when I was a kid my dad picked me up and held me against the wall to yell in my face about what I’d done wrong. And I know that if I’m not careful, my kids will be doing the same things to their kids.

So this year, I want to be better.  To practice patience.  To practice calm.  To remember to breathe when I recognize the anger rising.  Wish me luck (and give me pointers!).

Until next time,

Vee

 

 

The Kindness of Strangers: A Christmas Story

‘Tis the season of sugar highs, long lines, and–miraculously–somehow also the kindness of strangers.

Allow me to set the scene.  It was Christmas Eve Eve Eve (yes, that’s a thing).  The second of four days in a row that Hubby would be working leading up to Christmas Day.  And I had dragged the kids out in a nasty wintry mix so we could do some last minute shopping for Hubby at Barnes and Noble.

If you don’t know, Barnes and Noble is a fairly kid-friendly bookstore, with lots of toys for sale, and usually some kind of train table in the kid section for open play.  So I let the munchkins play with the train table for a while before picking up my gift for Hubby.

At one point, K-Man started to do the potty dance, and said he needed to pee.  So I picked up Ell-Bell, the diaper bag, all of our jackets, and marched him over to the bathroom on the other side of the store.  And when we got there, that little stinker refused to pee, said he didn’t need to go.  Ugh! So, we walked over to the toy section — again, with me juggling all the things — and played around for a bit.  K-Man could not move two feet without knocking a cascade of things off of the shelves.

I was starting to get kind of flustered, so I picked up Hubby’s present and started to wrangle the kids and our things so we could go check out.  Before we got very far, though, K-Man again announced that he had to pee.  Well duh!  Back to the bathroom we went.  After much coaxing, little man did his business and we went up front to pay for our things.

As it was Christmas Eve Eve Eve, there was a long-assed line.  And the line was littered with towers of things for sale, teetering precariously at every turn.  So stressful.  K-Man insisted on playing with a pile of Beanie Babies, dragging them all over the dirty floor despite my tired pleas.  Ell-Bell started losing her mind and didn’t want to be held anymore.  As I was trying to adjust her and the diaper bag and the jackets and the things I was buying, I managed to knock a few items off a display table.  Ugh.  “Gee, thanks for all your help,” I thought grumpily to myself, feeling the stares from other people in line as I picked up my mess.

Finally, finally, it was my turn to check out, so I dragged my brood of people and things up to the counter and started to exchange pleasantries with the clerk.  The lady behind me in line huffily rushed up next to me and waved one of the Beanie Babies in the air.  “Seriously?” I mumbled, thinking she was going to complain about how K-Man was playing with it.

And then the lady said, “Excuse me, I would like to buy this toy for her.”  And she gestured towards me.

Oops. I’m a terrible person.  I profusely thanked her, and she commented that she had five kids (wow), that she knows that some days are better than others, that it is the season of giving, etc.  And then she explained to the clerk that she was covering my whole purchase.  I tried to protest, because you guys, it was a $50 bill! A complete and total stranger wanted to buy me $50 worth of things because it’s Christmas and I was having a hard day!

I eventually let her go through with it, but I felt a little awkward and couldn’t thank her enough.  I was even moved to a few tears, which was super embarrassing.  (To be fair, I was pretty close to tears before the nice gesture…)

I was so overwhelmed with emotion, in fact, that I failed to realize that the clerk had rung up one of my items twice, thereby charging this kind lady an extra $15.  Oof, I really wish I had noticed that at the time!

As I drove home, I reflected on the kindness of a stranger, and how it had turned around my day.  This season is so beautiful to me.  I know I talk a lot about shopping and presents, but I really do love the less tangible facets of Christmas.  Kindness.  Giving.  Love.  Cheer.  I love how Christmas brings these emotions forward.

Christmas is picking up someone’s bill to brighten their day.

Christmas is humming carols out loud at the grocery store, smiling as you pass someone doing the same.

Christmas is my heart exploding as I watch my kids bathe together before bedtime, both silently sucking on their toothbrushes in unison.  Dorks.

Christmas is Hubby’s attending sending him home 4 hours early today so he could spend Christmas Eve with his children.

I know this time of year isn’t easy for everyone.  For some, Christmas is about longing for what they don’t yet have, or missing what they don’t have anymore.  For me, sometimes the holiday just highlights the loss I still feel so keenly for my own nuclear family, the one that crumbled when my parents divorced 7 years ago.

So if you’re not feeling all warm and cuddly and spirity this Christmas Eve, please accept my virtual hug.  And know that if I was behind you in line at Barnes and Noble, I would totally pick up your bill.

Merry Christmas to all.  Until next time,

Vee