You know how I know I’m older?

I blame NicoleandMaggie’s giggle-worthy post, I had a Midlife Crisis in Class Today, for this one. Read it! Then come back!

Just yesterday I was walking out of class and it just hit me out of nowhere– there is a LOT of skin on campus!! Holy crap. Tiny shorts and tiny tank tops and everyone wears flip flops! I swear to god it wasn’t like that the first time I went to college– was it? And then I couldn’t really remember and that made things even worse.

And then just the other day the kids and I were in the car and we were blah blah blabbing and somehow it got to me telling stories of things my brothers and I did as kids. And then it dawned on me the reason we sounded so much crazier than my own kids is because we had way less “easy” entertainment, i.e. video games, movies,internet, cable were not in my house until I was in the double digit years, so the 90’s. I was explaining about TV before cable and counted off the channels we had access to– all 7 of them. Eldest says, “Yeah but one of them was a kids’ channel at least, right?”

No, my child. I had to explain there were no channels dedicated to children’s programming, there were only time blocks dedicated to children’s programming– after school until the 5 o’clock news, Saturday morning until noon, and then on Sunday ABC would put on an ABC Family presentation in the early evening and it was usually a Disney movie or something like that. They were freaking out.

But they suddenly understood why we did things like play pranks on each other (I sprayed them with a hose from outside through the window screen when they were in the tub a couple times and I was notorious for rigging up buckets filled with LEGO pieces and Hot Wheels on top of their bedroom doors and then waiting patiently until I heard the crash and the screams of the bucket falling on their heads).

Or why we played lots of imagination-based games– like declaring the whole floor was lava and then proceeding to walking around the room by climbing on furniture and jumping onto bean bags or pretending their bunk bed was a giant pirate ship and we were stuck in a storm.

Or why we were always doing things outside like running in sprinklers, riding bikes and roller skates everywhere, climbing trees to hide and read in (just me), and playing football in the street.

Or why it seems we were always tangled up in some sort of physical assault. I’ll never forget the time I shoved my brother and he cracked his head open against the iron bars and my mom freaked out. Or the time he and I were fighting and he got put in time out and I didn’t and like the asshat I was, I went skipping up and down the hallway he was stuck in showing off my freedom when he kicked his leg out, tripped me, and sent me flying down the hallway. Well played MutantWino, well played. Or the times I’d go in and pull MutantWino off MutantPirate. Or the time MutantWino broke his finger chasing MutantPirate around the room. Or the time MutantPirate turned his eye all red and demonic looking by running into a bedpost while being chased after by MutantWino.

And I also realized why it always seemed to me that as kids we played with our toys more than kids do today. That never clicked in my head until that conversation. Answer: we DID play with our toys more often, because we had to.

So my kids and I talked about it and we decided this weekend, we are turning the clock back 30 years and living like it’s 1983. And the fact that was 30 years ago is enough to make me slightly nauseated.

And then, today I was watching the amazing video Google put out about Glass and actually got choked up! We have come so far, this was science fiction when I was little!

What about you? What recent happenings make you feel older?

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A Morning That I Like

trophy“Mommy?” a little voice woke me from my sleep. I raised my head from the pillow and peered at the door. I managed to push a “Hmmmm?” from my lips. No one was there. The door was closed. I fell back to my pillow and listened a little longer just to make sure maybe someone wasn’t calling me from their room. Nothing. I must have dreamt it. And once again I found myself awake before my alarm clock had gone off.

I have a rule about not looking at the clock if I wake up in the middle of the night. It never works in my favor. But lately I’ve begun to notice that I can tell if it’s close to the time I usually wake up. I was pretty sure I was close. I debated getting up or going back to sleep. The alarm went off at 5:50. I hit snooze because even though I was mentally wide away, physically I was still stuck to my bed. I finally got up at 6:05, collected my clothes, went to the bathroom and took a shower. I got dressed and padded to the kitchen. I looked at the clock and set the time for 54 minutes from then– or 7:10 AM.

I made coffee. I packed lunches. My son’s alarm beeped at 6:30 AM and a few second later he padded over to the kitchen.

“Good Morning Eldest”

“Good Morning Mom”

“Time to get dressed.”

“I know, I’m getting my stuff from the PE bag.”

“I thought I told you to do that last night.”

“You did. I forgot.”

“Ah ok.”

I walked over to Daughter’s room.

“Time to get up!” Unintelligible noises rose from her as she kicked around. “No way, no tantrums young lady. Remember what happened the other day? We are not having a repeat of that are we?” More protests but much more subdued. “Where’s your PE clothes? I told you to get it ready last night.”

“You never gaaaaaaaave it to meeeeeeeeeee.”

“You didn’t aaaaaaaaaaaaaask me for it. I told you to get it ready, you’re the one who needs to get it and ask me for it if you can’t find it. Get up. Now.” I left her room and went to the PE bag and fished out her PE uniform. I took it back to her room. She was struggling to get out of bed, fighting with the blanket. I dropped the PE bundle on her bed. “Here you go. Don’t let it happen again. Get dressed, it’s time to go.”

I walked over to the boys’ room. “Come on Baby, it’s time to get up!” Some whining and I suddenly remembered it was Bike Safety Day and he wouldn’t have to wear his uniform. So I told him and fished out the requested blue shorts and red t-shirt from his drawers. “Here you go! Get dressed ok?”

I walked back to the kitchen and checked on Daughter who was dressed and fishing for socks in her drawer. Eldest had already started making his breakfast. Things were clicking. I love it when things click.

I fixed Baby and Daughter their oatmeal. I set Eldest to empty the dishwasher which he protested and I had to insist on. My mom popped in with some hardcore Sudafed for Stallion and me. I reminded the kids when the timer went off, they had five minutes to get into the car regardless of their state of hair, teeth, clothes, etc. I turned Daughter’s side ponytail into a side braid at her request. I sent everyone to brush their teeth. I went to brush my own teeth and put on my sneakers. When I came out, the kids were milling around the door.

“The timer went off,” Eldest informed me. “I turned it off.”

“Thanks. Next time, don’t turn it off though. I need to hear it. Alright, get your stuff and let’s get into the car.” I unlocked everything and let them loose while I went back in to say goodbye to Stallion, check on how he was feeling, and let him know about the medicine my mom had dropped off. We were on the road before 7:20. We beat both school zones on the way in because we were so early. We blasted music and sang and danced because I wasn’t stressed about traffic.

We got to school before the first bell rang at 7:40 AM. I unloaded the three bikes and the three helmets from the trunk that Stallion and I had loaded the night before. The kids rode them over to the track and parked them in the right spots. Daughter asked to get dropped off first because she wanted to be in class early. No problem. Eldest got dropped off next. Baby and I went to say hi to my Mom. One of the other moms stopped me and asked me about an event this Sunday we were going to. She was going to try and meet up with us. My kids love her kids and soon we’ll be related as her cousin is marrying my brother at some point. I got Baby into his seat in class and chatted with the other kids at his table. Gave him lots of hugs and kisses. Dropped off the payment to the Coach to cover the check that had bounced when my account got hacked. Got in the car and was pulling out before the second bell rang at 7:50 AM. I was at the train station and got on the 8 o’clock train and was at my desk before 8:30.

I felt like a champion. The week has been like that pretty much consistently although today was the first time I got to my desk early. Usually Baby holds me back until the last bell rings. He doesn’t like letting me go. But today, I told him I needed to see Coach before the bell rang and he was fine. Everything was fine. I love mornings like this. I feel happy and start my day on the right note. And I’m hoping it’s a sign that this weekend will be smooth as well as it’s getting pretty packed with stuff. As long as I keep things organized, we’ll be ok. Amazing isn’t it?

A Functioning Mutant is a Delegating Mutant

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I have vented a lot on here about my lack of organization, the stress with the house, and so on and so forth. A lot of you have chimed in with amazing ideas and suggestions and encouragement (as usual, because I have the best readers on the internets EVA).

So, I have been tweaking things around here. Little things. And some of it, is actually working. Stuff like…

Child Labor

I force myself to delegate more and more household chores– especially to Eldest who is beyond old enough to start carrying around a bigger load of responsibility. But also to Daughter and Baby. What have I had the kids do? Well on top of the usual things they already do I have had Eldest empty out the dishwasher with the assistance of Baby and/or Daughter. I’ve also had him load it if anything happened to be in the sink while the dishwasher was full of clean dishes. Daughter is now fully responsible for feeding the cat. I made two changes to make sure she could do this easily. 1) I put a plastic cup in the giant bag of cat food so she could just scoop out the food instead of carry and pour it out. 2) I switched the wet food to this stuff by Meow Mix called Pate Toppers. Why? Because the containers are plastic with foil lids that peel right off. Much easier to do, and safer, than the metal cans. Also, the plastic is recyclable. I have them help me fold laundry, especially socks which I hate doing. I aim to clean while they are present and then delegate appropriate tasks. Wiping down surfaces with a Clorox wipe for instance. Cleaning the place mats. Running the vacuum cleaner. Emptying the bathroom trash cans. I have also employed them more often in meal prep– especially breakfast and occasionally lunch and seldomly in dinner or dessert. Eldest is especially good at this one but Daughter is as well. Baby is good at setting the kids table settings and getting cups of water for everyone.

Google Calendar

Where have you been all my life? I have toyed with Google Calendar before but recently I have made it a point to really abuse it and have gone so far as to set it up properly with settings I prefer (Pop Up Reminders FTW) and even shared it with Stallion and set Stallion up with one so I could better track his work schedule which always changes and is a nightmare to keep track of mentally. I still keep a paper calendar in my purse because entering things in my phone is a pain in the booty-bum and my Nexus 7 has a knack for not being in my purse, not having a charged battery, and/or not being in a wireless hotspot when I need to enter a reminder. I also like that I can email events to people as I’m entering them. So, for instance when I updated my calendar to show Eldest’s upcoming Track and Field meet, I also had it dash a quick email to MutantWino, MutantPirate, and MutantDad since they have all shown interest in attending his meets and have even made it to one already.

Prep

I have been working really hard on getting things taken care of ahead of time. I prep lunches the night before, except mine and I don’t know why I do that. I make sure the uniforms are prepped. I put everything that needs to go out the door with us the next day clustered together on the dining table (one day when I’m financially stable, I will be doing some work on my entry so that it is an awesome Home Base area thing). And when I add reminders to my Google calendars, I try and set the time for evening hours– earlier if it’s something the kids need to do and later if it’s something I need to do. I am also prepping food-wise as much as possible. I haven’t really done another formal meal plan but I want to. And I do try and at least somewhat think about what I have food-wise and what to make with it when. On Sunday, I hard-boiled ten eggs and put them in a tray in the fridge so we’d have access to them all week. It’s been a great extra to throw into lunch boxes and my kids LOVE them. It’s easy to do and so this is something I will do more regularly. I have also started purchasing more snack food. I know it’s more expensive to buy the little bags of cookies individually packaged but I am just not going to package them myself. I’ve learned this the hard way.

Grilling

About a month or so ago, my family had another Grand Round of Shuffling Objects. My aunt and uncle were downsizing, Mutant Pirate bought his first home, and Mutant Wino is settling down with a fiancee into a house they will be purchasing from her mother soon so he is expanding. Anyways, things were shuffled around and I ended up with my parents gas grill. I have never grilled anything on a BBQ in my life and now I’m wondering what the hell took me so long (besides cash flow to actually purchase one of course). Almost every single thing I have put on that grill has turned out heavenly (except for the one time I wanted to char the Tandoori chicken I had cooked in the crock pot and then forgot about- doh!) and there are no pats and pans to clean and there is no cooked food smell in the house and I don’t even lose my appetite after cooking! It’s the best thing ever!!! I have made burgers, steaks, fish, even pasta on the thing. It’s fast and it’s easy and it gives me a reason to be outside of the house where I can’t hear the screaming of the children.

Stopped Caring

About the money that is. Sort of. I have been driving myself absolutely crazy trying to keep everything afloat financially. Counting pennies to make sure I have enough to pay this, that, and the other. Hounding Child Support Enforcement. And so on and so forth and then I just STOPPED. I gave up. On everything. I gave up on paying off my debts. I gave up on tracking my spending. I gave up on the idea of ever seeing child support again. I even gave up on the idea of paying every single bill on time. Yup. Just. Stopped. Caring. I recognize this is not a healthy way to live. I know that I cannot and will not sustain this for a long period of time. And I also know the way I was living before was just as unhealthy and just as unsustainable and finally everything cracked and fell apart. Credit cards are loaded up again. I’ve had some late bills I completely forgot about or flat out didn’t have money for. I had a bounced check. I even had one of my accounts cleaned out by credit card fraud. Someone got access to a nasty adult website at the cost of $90 of my precious money. I just felt like the more I kept fighting the money thing, the more ferocious it got. It was like a hydra. Cut off one head and eight more grow back in its place. So I stopped cutting and settled for lamely poking and some lazy dodging. Funny enough, a random child support check for $100 showed up (two days before my $90 was stolen so there you go). Does it mean things will be turning around soon? Maybe, maybe not. Do I care? Not yet, no.

I believe that each of us has limits and that includes limits on the number of things we can consciously dedicated time and energy to. Because life shifts constantly, these things need constant re-evaluation and re-prioritization. Right now, my focus is on 1) Organization, 2) School, and 3) Relationship Strengthening (romantic, family, kids, friends, and with myself). And that is all I can handle in a serious, dedicated, and consistent manner. It’s not that everything else gets thrown to the curb, it’s just that everything else gets handled as well as it can with whatever energy and other resources I may have left after dealing with 1, 2, and 3. As one of those becomes easier to handle and needs less and less of my attention, other priorities can ease up and absorb me some more. But right now, these are three biggies and they win, period end of story.

So, that’s where I am. And that’s where I am going. Thanks again for your suggestions. I have been trying them out here and there and it’s been nice knowing I have such a great team of cheerleading readers. But I’m curious– what do you think of limits as far as priorities go? Do you shift things around constantly or do you stay focused on pretty much the same things all the time? If so, do you find you need to shake things up now and then? Do you know what your limits are? What are you focusing on big time right now?

Pole Dancing vs Pole Fitness

Pole Dancing vs Pole Fitness

There’s been this big hullabaloo in the news lately about some school in Canada offering pole dancing classes for kids. I wasn’t going to comment because I thought it was a really silly thing to get worked up about but… a week later and it hasn’t gone away.

I’ve taken pole dancing classes. They are a total blast. So the big question is: Would I put my kids in pole dancing classes?

It depends on the instructor. I could sit here and try and explain it to you, but I really need a visual aid for this one. Watch the video below and I think you’ll understand. The girl in the green outfit could easily teach children. The girl in red should definitely teach adults. They are both insanely flexible and strong as hell. They are both seriously amazing to watch and induce many open mouthed expressions of awe. But they are very different in their styles.

Cirque du Soleil has a professional pole dancing champion on their cast and I saw a Cirque Eloize show that incorporated a pole dancing routine with a man and a woman. You can catch a glimpse of the man’s portion at about 1:08.

What do you think? Is there a difference or is pole dancing just plain dirty? Is the issue what adults project onto it?

What a Weekend: 13, 14, 15, 16, 17/52 Photos

 

It was the kind of weekend that grabs you and yanks you right through it at breakneck speed and you’d just better hang on and enjoy the ride and you do except when it’s over you’re suddenly beyond exhausted and at the same time overwhelmed with contentment.

My house is wrecked. It is wrecked in the special way homes are wrecked when a mother is just too tired and gloomy all week to do much of anything and the kids seem to pick up on this so they are extra active, destructive, and defiant but then Friday comes and suddenly the mother decides to do a lot of baking and cooking and then there’s activities all weekend and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights find everyone not just tired but at that special point of fulfilled collapse.

Friday, I was let out of work early. I stopped and did groceries, went home, and finished reading devouring Bloodfever. I don’t really understand why I’m fascinated with this series because it is some seriously over the top camp but it’s addictive camp (she’s totally in love with a werewolf, isn’t she? NO! DON’T TELL ME!). Then I decided it was time to get in the kitchen and make these Whoopie Pies I’ve been fantasizing about for days. They advise making the cakes a day in advance so I figured if I made them Friday night, Saturday would be the day to make the filling and all would be well in the world. So I made the cakes, but I also was craving something sweet now so I made these cupcakes with this chocolate buttercream frosting (with the almond extract option) while I made dinner—kingclip filets in foil packets served with a side of cheesy garlicky mashed potatoes. At some point during the cooking and the baking, my parents brought the kids over as they’d taken them to the beach that day since the daycare and school were closed. To give you a sense of time, we sat down to eat dinner after nine o’clock. After dinner, I iced the now cooled cupcakes and my kids got to work decorating them with Easter M&M’s. They each ate one and everyone was really tired. Actually, I should note that Baby passed out on the sofa after baths before we got to the cupcakes. We all collapsed in our beds at around 11.

My Dad called me at 8:30, realized I was asleep, and quickly hung up. We all woke up for real about an hour later to the sound of music. I realized the park across the street was doing their annual egg hunt after all. I rounded everyone up, got them all dressed, armed them with shopping bags, and we headed over. We hunted for eggs and my friend found one of the six golden eggs so the kids were really excited about that. After the eggs were gone, they were starting to whine about wanting to eat and wanting to drink and wanting to sit so I took them back home and got them breakfasted. After, I cleaned the kitchen and got to work making the Whoopie Pie filling. The kids tried playing outside again but the heat was scorching. Oh, we dyed eggs. That was an adventure. And I made them bathe. I’m pretty sure they mostly ran around being destructive from the state of the play room. Well, Eldest read Fantastic Mr. Fox but the other two destroyed.

At some point, they ate the Whoopie Pies which were a huge giant mess. Recipe evaluation: Cake recipe is meh. I think I need to try it again and make them flatter. Taste was right but they were too moundy and not very discy. This meant there was a LOT of cake in each bite. The filling was a disaster. It was just melting all over the place. I tried to compensate for the melt factor by putting in not as much filling but that just backfired because of how dense the cakes were. I’d give it 2 out of 4 stars/forks/spoons/mutants. I do want to try it again though. I feel obligated to get Whoopie Pies right although I have no idea why I have this strong urge at all. Cupcakes = Win. Whoopies = Meh.

Later that day, we went to a baseball game. My university sponsored this big Family Night event at the stadium and each employee got a free ticket with hot dog, chips, and soda plus you could buy three more tickets with food at $1 each and a discounted parking pass for only $8. I bought them last month and was so excited even though we got Upper Level seats. In the second inning, a lady approached me and asked if I was with the university (we WERE decked out in school colors) and she had us come with her. They upgraded us big time- Lower level, third row. We could have had a conversation with the first baseman. I’ve never had seats that great to any sporting event. I was actually nervous because we were totally in the line of fire for those line drive fouls they sometimes nail. I was shocked the kids actually sat there the entire time and had a blast. The weather was gorgeous. They had a bunch of activities for the kids like free face-painting and bounce houses and even a salsa concert afterwards. It was a total blast.

 

We got home just before midnight and they went to bed totally amped up. I had to wait for them to sleep. And wait. I quietly filled eggs and then when all had been silent for a while, I checked on them. Asleep. Finally. I brought out the baskets and hid them and then laid out a trail of eggs from each basket to each of their beds—blue eggs for Eldest, pink eggs for Daughter, and yellow eggs for Baby. Baby’s was easily hid, right under a table. For Daughter, it was under a laundry basket but I made her crawl through a tunnel to get to it. For Eldest, it took him at least five minutes to figure out the trail ended at the laundry closet because his basket was in the dryer. I also gave the kids the crocheted toys I made them and they were REALLY happy with those.

Later, their Uncle MuantWino and his lady friend picked them up for a big Easter hunt and party with the lady friend’s family. It seems they are “serious”. They actually live together and they keep trying to mix the families at these sorts of events. It’s weird to me. From there, they went straight to my mom’s house with the kids while I stayed home and after I’d filled eggs for THAT egg hunt, and showered, and dressed, and stared mightily at the destroyed house for very long periods of time, I went to her house too. Daughter had brought the doll I made her and so between the cupcakes and the crochet everyone was trying to come up with some sort of business I could go into. I just drank a superbly delicious rosé (it’s good to have Winos in the family). Everyone had fun playing Marco Polo in the pool (I watched) and hunting for eggs and eating yummy arroz con pollo and desserts like the cupcakes which I brought from the house in a most dangerous and reckless fashion as demonstrated below.

Do NOT Try This at Home

After everyone left, the kids were happily watching TV and I passed out cold on my mom’s couch. I mean, coma-like. I’m pretty sure I was snoring on some level and likely drooled. My mom woke me up to let me know they were going to get their evening coffee and my brother was watching them so I could stay sleeping. But I was awake at that point. Got up, picked up all of the stuff the kids had gotten as presents and stashed it in the car, and got the kiddos into the tub much to their collective chagrin. My mom let me know the oldest two could stay with her since they still don’t have school so it was me and Baby back home. After he passed out, I half-heartedly picked up some of the living room before giving up and joining him in LaLa land.  

I’m happy to have had such a great and crazy weekend. When I have weekends like this, I feel like all is right with the universe. We made so many good memories—specific and general ones. Maybe they’ll remember decorating cupcakes, or dyeing eggs, or eating Whoopie Pies half-naked, or going to a baseball game, or looking for their baskets, or hunting for eggs three times in one day, or that their Mom made them dolls, and maybe they won’t. Maybe all they’ll remember is they sure had a good time when they were kids. And that’s all I care about. I was sorting through all the eggs and the gifts last night and remarked to my friend, “They don’t know how lucky they are.” “Nope,” he said. “They really don’t. But one day, most likely through someone else’s experiences, they’ll probably realize it.” And that made me smile because that’s how it is for me. I have close friends that had some rough childhoods. When we’d sit and talk about what it was like being a kid, I remember feeling confused and guilty because my friends mostly had bad experiences and yet what I mostly remembered from my childhood was that exuberant feeling of innocent joy. I really do remember my childhood that way. If it was a color, it’d be yellow—bright and happy and sunny. Now that I’m older I don’t really feel any sort of confusion or guilt anymore when we compare stories of growing up, but I sure do feel a whole lot of gratitude and an overwhelming desire to pay it forward starting with my kids and hopefully one day finding a way to stretch it outwards from there.

Bringing My Childhood to My Children

After an interesting epiphany this weekend, I have begun to consider some goals for my family life. I really do miss the kids when they’re gone. At first, and I am just not ashamed to say it, I really didn’t miss them. There was simply so much I wanted to do, even if it was doing absolutely nothing, that I welcomed the few days they were off with their father. I mean, I really welcomed those days. Sometimes, I looked forward to them so much, the guilt would start to creep in and the shame. But, I just got worn out so badly when they were with me that every other Thursday I was pretty much useless, highly irritable, and practically distraught. Fridays would often be a complete haze. But, I’ve realized for the past few weeks, this hasn’t been the complete case. Yes, every other Thursday is tough to get through. And every other Friday I am a bit molasses-like. But, I have found myself surprised when it’s been ExMutant’s turn to get them. And then, I think about them all weekend– not so much in a “I wonder what they’re doing now” because that tends to take me down a dark path, but more like “I bet MutantBaby would love this. MutantDaughter would look so pretty in this. MutantEldest would think this is so cool.”

I went to a gelato place  on Sunday that also serves panninis and pizzas. Yes I absolutely swooned over the pepperoni brushetta wondering at the amazing flavor. I struggled to not inhale my proscioutto pannini so fast I wouldn’t completely savor it. I died and went to heaven with every lick of my Bacia gelato cone. And I decided I simply must bring the kids here right away. I fantasized about how my little family and I could become regulars, after all it is oh so close to my house. Surely MutantDaughter’s eyes would bulge at the pink strawberry gelato. And MutantEldest will love the challenge of reading the Italian flavors. And MutantBaby just loves to eat so that’s a no-brainer.

Rewind to Saturday night when my friends and I were talking at Girls Night (a goal I am loving sticking to) about our childhood memories. One said something that jumped at me– “Yeah well it’s the really bad stuff that sticks with you”. That immediately set the Mom Guilt swirling and scolding me for all of those times I’ve lost my patience with my children and been oh so very mean. But then I thought, “Wait a minute. That’s not my experience.” And although I did not directly contradict my friend, I did share my own random memories from childhood and what struck me from them was how ordinary they were. While I do remember some not-nice things, my memories are far from being all not-nice. I remember a lot of fun things actually, mostly fun ordinary things like: 

  • I remember playing in the yard with the sprinklers and hose.
  • I remember playing pranks on my brothers, especially the middle one.
  • I remember how my grandfather’s (my Dad’s side) work van had no seats in it and we’d “surf” in it while he swerved all over empty streets to knock us down.
  • I remember playing Pirates on my brothers’ bunk beds when there was a thunderstorm outside.
  • I remember playing hot lava in their room and scrambling across the tops and sides of the furniture in a hilarious attempt to not touch the molten lava floor.
  • I remember my Dad taking us to TCBY or Baskin Robbins for ice cream.
  • I remember sleepovers at my grandparents on my Mom’s side so my parents could have date nights.
  • I remember my parents piling us in the car every night so they could go and get their Cuban coffee at the window of the cafeteria while we went absolutely wild all over the car.
  • I remember reading books everywhere I could prop myself up– in a tree in the front yard, in my bed, on the sofa, against a door frame.
  • I remember my parents would go to a regular meeting for couples and we’d get to play with the other couples’ kids.
  • I remember my grandmother on my Dad’s side teaching us table etiquette at McDonald’s.
  • I remember how we’d all help my Mom clean the house on the weekends and it was actually fun.
  • I remember my grandfather on my Mom’s side telling us fairy tales and riddles in Spanish and marvelling at how different they sounded.
  • I remember my dad taking us to McDonald’s for breakfast or Happy Meals later in the day.
  • I remember all the road trips we took with our pop-up camper, then our larger pop-up camper, and finally a trailer.
  • I remember sailing on my grandfather’s boat.
  • I remember my Mom teaching me to match and roll socks together and that being my favorite chore to do.
  • I remember how we’d crash Hot Wheels cars down the hallway.
  • I remember my grandmother on my Mom’s side fitting me with dresses and being so excited about a new dress but so worried a pin would pinch me.
  • I remember making brownies and truffles with my Mom.
  • I remember my baby brother sneaking into my room to sleep with me, or at least on the floor next to me.
  • I remember my Mom sleeping with me when I was sick.
  • I remember when my Dad would go on retreats, we were allowed to sleep in their bed with my Mom.
  • I remember when he wasn’t on retreats, we’d jump all over them on the weekends in the morning.
  • I remember my Dad making us smiley faced chocolate chip pancakes. Or sometimes he’d spell our initial.
  • I remember him making us eggs in a basket.
  • I remember learning to ride a bike and the crash into a shrub that upset me greatly and made me give up but then returning and the thrill of figuring it out.
  • I remember trips to the roller rink and the bowling alley.
  • I remember going out to family dinners at places like Red Lobster and Sizzler.
  • I remember playing Barbies with my youngest brother and that many times it was at his insistence, not mine.
  • I remember crayons and watercolors, my Lite Brite and Colorforms.
  • I remember the ice cream truck.
  • I remember sticking our plastic pool at the bottom of our swing set’s slide and hooking the hose onto the slide to create our very own water slide.
  • I remember when I graduated from Kindergarten, my parents took me to Pizza Hut and my mother presented me with a gift of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit board books.

I am very fond of the childhood I had. Now that I’m a parent, I’m able to appreciate that my parents gave me such a great childhood. And I want so badly to be able to do the same for my kids. See, I grew up experiencing first-hand that great adventures didn’t require fancy destinations or even airplanes. I experienced a childhood mostly without cable television as my mother hated it. I remember going to the movies but it was a big deal when we went– not a regular thing. I remember excursions to Lionel and Toys R Us as even rarer occasions but oh how thrilling to come home with a new Barbie or My Little Pony. When I reflect on my childhood, I really do see it as a simple and happy one. And that is all I want for my kids.

I think the key to this is not the cost of an experience but rather the frequency of it. That seems to be the key to my memories. There is a healthy mix of ritualesque memories and special occasion ones too and even though the special occassions were hardly out-of-this-world types of things, my parents did a good job of making it clear they were special occasions. So I’m going to try and make some sort of goal, or set of goals, to consciously bring a piece of my childhood into my children’s lives in a natural, simple way.

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

It's a tear my hair out day.

Starting Tuesday J's pretty much been wrapped up in this insane conference his company's been doing and so he's been a ghost. Last night I don't know what time he came in. He says 2:30. My experience has been to add anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to his answers. I guess the difference this time is that I am PMSing HARD and really I'm just not in the mood to be Single Mom. My house is beyond words disgusting. I mean seriously, you guys should see the leaning tower of clothes in my room. How it's still standing is beyond me but it's spilling onto the dresser and spreading all over the floor. There is crap EVERYWHERE. And the dishes have been untouched since Sunday night I'm pretty sure. So finally I got tired of the stink and shoved everything into the dishwasher. And I just can't will myself to do ANYTHING. I'm really shocked I did the dishwasher thing. I'm pretty sure my grandmother and mother think I'm either very ill, pregnant, or severely depressed because they keep checking on me and I know pity when I see it tattooed on your forehead.

I hate that.

Hate's a strong word. I really don't like that.

This week, I have also been really scatter-brained. I mean it's really in a bad way. I just can't focus on anything. I'm a mess at work and I've had to do the whole tunnel vision thing and go Man-Brain because every multi-tasking attempt on my end has been epic fail.

Burned out is an understatement.

And I'm really distracted by photography all of a sudden. It's strange. It kind of came out of nowhere although I'm sure it came from somewhere!

The thing that has me most distracted is Baby. He's been having these insane spells of stomach pain since about the end of January. And all they've been able to say so far is "Constipation!" but I just don't buy that. Today I just got so worked up about it I really almost did go across the street to the Children's Hospital. We went there in February. This time I was ready. I was gonna say, "My baby's sick and I'm not leaving until you tell me what's wrong with him and so help me if you tell me it's a cold because you are an overpaid snotty LIAR" I sweartogawd THIS close.

Instead I called the pediatrician's office and they were just closing up and the poor girl who answered my phone call kinda freaked out when I told her what had been going on and I think she could tell that I was really close to crying and she told me to bring him in first thing tomorrow morning so the doctor and I could work a new plan of action.

I don't understand why these things take DAYS or WEEKS. My baby is in PAIN. PAIN. Not uncomfortable. Not cranky. He's in freaking hardcore ohmygod face turns red PAIN. I videotaped an episode of it last night. Because I just don't think they believe me. Or that they understand me. It's hard to watch.

I feel really defeated today. Like if I was in a boxing match and the round just ended and I'd be in my corner I'd be telling my Coach that look really I'm done with this fight. Next fist that makes contact, I'm hitting that mat and I'm not waking up until tomorrow. Or maybe next week.

Last time I went to the psychologist she asked me again if I wasn't interested in some medication to even me out.

No thank you.

But maybe… no. No thank you.