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Finding the humor in motherhood

Anxiety is the Devil

Two posts in one week is rare for me — but I’m giving up doing laundry this nap time because I just need to write this down somewhere.

This blog is all about finding the humor in motherhood – which most days is easy, if you’re looking for it.

Like the outfit I answered the door in just now, halfway between this morning’s MOPS meeting and an intended trip to the gym in a few minutes.

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I look like the offspring of Paul Bunyan and the Jamaican Bobsled Team, and the UPS man looked at me like I was crazy with a capital C.

And you know what, today I totally believe him. See, some days it’s easy to find humor in motherhood and then other days it’s really, really hard. Like when you have to mother through illness, or through a loss.

For me, it’s the anxiety that arrived along with my children that has been most difficult to coexist with, and I know I’ve talked about it before. But maybe it’s not talked about enough.

I say anxiety is the devil, and I mean that literally. It’s a little voice on my shoulder that competes daily with the far more rational and hopeful voice on my other shoulder. Usually logic wins out, but there are days that anxiety is just plain louder. And more shrill. And relentless. (A lot like my 4-year-old). And then it’s a battle of the thoughts, and the anxiety takes my thoughts and morphs them into something scary, something that if I dwell on could really take me down a rabbit hole. But it does it so quickly that sometimes it’s haed to catch.

Me: “I have a lot to be thankful for.”

Anxiety: “You have a lot that you could lose at any moment.”

 

Me: “I am a safe and careful driver.”

Anxiety: “Everyone else on the road is texting, especially the semi driver coming up behind you. Also you’ll probably have a heart attack at the wheel and drive off the road and into the one body of water along this entire highway.”

 

Me: “This steak is delicious.”

Anxiety: “Steak is easy to choke on.”

 

Me: “Lottie is fully mobile now so I’m doing a good job making sure I’m keeping the small toys off the floor.”

Anxiety: “You missed a piece of dog food under the couch, which she will definitely find and choke on.”

 

Me: “I’ve been blessed with a healthy family.”

Anxiety: “That can’t last forever. The other shoe is bound to drop at any minute.”

Then sometimes when it gets really bad, it actually turns physical. And my anxious thoughts have a field day with my anxious symptoms.

Me: “My chest hurts”

Anxiety: “Heart attack.”

 

Me: “I’m dizzy.”

Anxiety: “Passing out is imminent.”

 

Me: “I’m having trouble breathing.”

Anxiety: “Undiagnosed undeveloped lung. Passing out is imminent.”

 

Me: “My heart is racing.”

Anxiety: “Undiagnosed heart condition. Passing out and sudden death are imminent.”

 

Me: “My vision is blurry”

Anxiety: “Undiagnosed eye condition. Sudden vision loss imminent.”

 

I mean. It’s like whoever came up with the Debbie Downer concept for Saturday Night Live was inside my head.

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Except it doesn’t always seem that funny.

Luckily I have some really good tools in place to work through it. But some days it still catches me off guard, like this morning.

Eric and I were talking about something else — something that stressed me out, but certainly not to the point of tears — and suddenly I couldn’t stop crying. And I couldn’t breathe. I mean I had a complete meltdown in the kitchen, full of anxiety I didn’t even know was there at the moment.

My sweet husband insisted I do a breathing exercise with him, which I did. And it helped a little.

Then he told me I needed a visualization and a mantra to repeat all day. Which I did, and it helped a lot. Because I grabbed the first thing that popped into my head:

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I don’t think that’s exactly what he had in mind. In fact it’s probably so far from what he had in mind that it made me laugh. And that helped. Then I laughed a little bit more and that helped and little bit more until finally it lifted me right out of my fog.

There is a lot that comes with motherhood — and most of it is good.

But there’s also a lot that comes in on the tails of those postpartum hormones, and sometimes it sucks. So if you feel that, you’re not alone, not by a long shot. And maybe it doesn’t get better or go away, at least not immediately like we’d like. But it builds us some really strong character as we work through it. It gives us some good control as we constantly choose the more positive thoughts.

And maybe it sucks the energy out of us for the day so we  temporarily give up on caring who sees us when we’ve paired workout pants with a flannel button-down.

So in that sense, it gives us some ridiculous moments we can look back on and laugh, if we choose to.

Waiting

 

The last blog I started was called “The Prose of Patience”, and it has exactly 0 posts.

It was January of 2014 and I’d just miscarried our first child, and those first weeks afterward seemed impossibly long as we looked into our future wondering what the rest of our fertility journey would look like.

So I started the blog thinking it would be a good place to document any positives I could find about being forced into that kind of patience. For those of you who don’t know me well, this seems like a good time to tell you that patience is not in my nature. If you sat a 3 year old down in front of a bowl of m&ms, you’d see a better display of patience than you get from me in most situations.

Luckily for Eric, who has to live with me, the day after I started The Prose Of Patience we were incredibly blessed to find out we were expecting Evelyn, and that whole idea went out the window.

These days I spend a lot of time waiting in other, smaller capacities. For example — In the waiting room at dance class, with two younger kids to entertain, for 45 minutes. Also known as eternity.

I follow @busytoddler on Instagram, and it’s an absolute treasure trove of ideas on keeping toddlers entertained in just such a circumstance.

Of course I never quite get around to implementing, and instead pass the time trying to see how long it takes Lottie to realize there’s a wipe on her head.

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It was fourteen glorious and entertaining minutes, and I snort laughed so hard that I peed my in my pants. Not that that’s a shocking occurrence with a pelvic floor that has birthed 3 kids. I peed in my pants loading the dishwasher this afternoon, too.

My favorite of all the waiting I do is the 30 minutes we spend in the car twice a week while Evelyn is at speech. I throw some milk at Lottie and some trail mix at Alex and buy myself silence for 28.5 of those minutes.

Inevitably this turns into social media time, when I can scroll aimlessly through my various newsfeeds without “can I see!?” shouted directly into my eardrum.

And let me tell you, my newsfeeds are waiting for me.

You know how you’ll be texting a friend about something random like seasonal vests for your pet and then the next time you log onto Facebook, this ad is waiting for you?

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Mine does the same, except I haven’t been texting anyone about it. Facebook can just read my mind, and no sooner do my eyes hit that screen then ads for things that I MUST OWN start popping up.

Like these wraparound, HD, glare-reducing night driving glasses:

If you’re wondering where you’ve seen these before …

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… here they are on my 92 year old grandfather.

It’s like Facebook knew all about my driving anxiety and how it’s worst at night, and boom, served me up a trial I couldn’t pass.

They don’t work, by the by, and in fact it’s like wearing sunglasses at night and still seeing halos around stoplights and starbursts around headlights. They do significantly brighten up a cloudy day though, so I think I’ll keep them for the 153 of those we have coming up this winter.

One day I was wondering whether constantly cleaning my ears was contributing to my hearing loss. Next time I logged on:

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I bought it. How could I not?? I’m still waiting for it to arrive and I can. Not. Wait.

Other “impulse” purchases have been these tailgating gloves (for all the tailgating I do with a baby, a toddler and a preschooler). They have a coozy attached so you can hold your beer without it slipping from your hindered grasp …

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… and this Christmas tree for my kids to decorate, in the unrealistic hopes it will keep them away from the real tree:

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At 30% off how could I pass it up?

Sweet Baby Ray’s head is probably exploding right now as he reads this. “So THAT’s what the $9.65 charge to ‘Make Goodies’ was. Gotta say I’m a little relieved. ”

Facebook must know this, and they must know he’s a hunter, because they latest ad they sent my way was this:

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It may or may not end up under the Christmas tree this year (the real one).

I’m working hard on saying no to these ads, or at least limiting myself to $20 a month, which I in turn don’t spend at Starbucks that month. Not that I have the opportunity to go there often, anyway.

In fact the Starbucks line is one place I actually miss waiting. In silence. Alone. With a fully intact pelvic floor. I’ll be back there, someday. And until then, there are plenty of Facebook ads to keep me busy.

 

Mind Numbing

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted. I meant to write again sooner, but all of a sudden I woke up and it was mid-October and I still had 5 Halloween costumes to make, so I’ve been busy with that.

Sewing is a hobby I’ve picked up out of necessity. My kids go to bed early and Sweet Baby Ray gets home from work late, so that’s a lot of idle time in the evenings. And idle time means idle hands. And you know what they say about idle hands. Idle hands eat a heck of a lot of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

So here we are. I enjoy sewing, and I’m slowly getting better at it.

I’m slowly gaining a new skill set while I’m quickly losing all my old ones.

For example:

A few weeks ago I attempted to look over and talk through a business plan with someone. I say “attempted” because I had to ask for clarification or repetition no less than twelve times. The reasons for this varied. A few times my mind had simply wandered to other things, like what time I needed to put that chicken in the oven or what the real lyrics to Mmm Bop are.

Mostly, I just couldn’t make my mind keep up. I used to be able to follow along with this kind of thing but these days terms like “cash injection” literally made my brain stop functioning in all other facets while I tried to comprehend what those two words meant.

I’ve never had much of a mind for finance to begin with — I’m better at creative things — but this was a new low for me. Even lower than having to repeat the same algebra class for three straight semesters in college, which for the last 15 years has held that record.

It’s like certain parts of my brain have just straight up atrophied since having kids. “You’re tired”, you say. “You’re stressed. You have three kids under 4, you have a lot on your plate.” Sure, sure, that’s all true. But I’ll tell you what the real problem is.

The real problem is this:

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I pulled this plastic propeller from the depths of my back seat  … Rescued it from certain death among month-old apple cores and forgotten crayons and broken dreams of a somewhat sanitary automobile. And I knew the minute that my fingers closed around it that it belonged to a bin of Magna Tiles my children received last Christmas, I knew who gave us those magna tiles, and that the propeller can be used to construct exactly two of the six different vehicles spelled out in the instructions.

The problem is this:

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This tiny, tiny white plastic shoe belongs to the Barbie that Evelyn got from Grandma and Grandpa for her birthday, and it had been missing since 4:16 on October 8th until today when it fell out of the depths of her car. Barbie and I have something in common afterall.

Maybe I know these things because I had to keep track for thank-you-note purposes.

Then again, I can also glance at this from across a room and tell you that it’s a seat for the Calico Critters school bus.

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I can tell you that the school bus is currently high on a shelf in Evelyn’s closet because it’s the toy that she and Alex are having an especially hard time sharing these days.

For that matter I could sing you the Daniel Tiger song about sharing, probably backwards and probably in my sleep.

I could pick these up blindfolded and tell you which belongs to Trucky 3 and which belongs to Lottie’s shape sorter. In fact I did, in a moment of severe naptime boredom/insanity.

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THIS is what I’m good at these days. This is what is taking up 97.8% of my available brainpower. This is what I have to contribute to adult conversation, which is why I don’t often have adult conversation.

This ability to correctly identify plastic junk is currently my most valuable skillset. Look out world.

At least I know it’s valuable to my 4 year-old who asks were the “sponge for that toy horse I got from that hardware store last year is” and I can recall with photographic accuracy that Alex stashed it here: (nestled on the leaf of a plant slowly dying of root rot because keeping plants alive has NEVER been a skill of mine)

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It’s also what’s kept that sponge from getting thrown away on multiple occasions along with the scraps I’m constantly cleaning off the floor.

Someday I’ll be good at other things again. Someday my vocabulary will extend beyond Love & Logic empathetic statements and FRIENDS quotes garnered from hours upon hours of mindless Netflix while folding laundry.

But in the meantime, in the off chance you catch me out without children and engage me in conversation, please don’t be offended if my eyes glaze over and I have to ask you to repeat the entire thing. It’s just that it’s so rare that I have a conversation not peppered with —  “Mom! Mom! Mom! I need to tell you something super important!” — that I’ve lost the ability to listen in intervals longer than 60-seconds.

I’m working on getting that back. I’m also still working on these Halloween costumes in hopes my kids will have something to wear trick or treating. That is one event I can’t have them missing. They’re under strict instruction to take only the Reese’s peanut butter cups.

BTS

“Back to school”, if you can still call it that in October, is hands down my favorite time of year. And not just because I love me some poncho weather and a good PSL. My favorite part of starting a new school year is that it’s a chance to start fresh. It’s kind of like another New Years, and mine is full of resolutions like “healthier meals” after a summer of hot dogs for dinner and ice cream sandwiches for lunch at the pool.

The problem is that, much like my New Years resolutions, my resolve lasts about a week.

On the first day of school, breakfast looked like this:

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By the second week of school, breakfast looked like this:

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Not only is this about the poorest effort you can put into breakfast, but I also ate half of Alex’s waffle before it even made it onto his placemat.

Also the fish tank in that picture hasn’t been cleaned since. Dory is still kicking in there, but if I don’t do something soon she is going to suffocate her own fecal matter.

Another resoltion is “structured and meaningful activities”, after a summer of turning on the sprinkler for the brats while I settle into a lawn chair with a margarita. Like meals, this goal has also taken a nosedive this week.

I have two younger kids to entertain while my eldest is at her various activities. On the first week of said activities, I was making “busy boxes” for them, full of favorite toys and activities to stimulate their little baby/toddler imaginations.

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Fast forward to today at Evelyn’s dance and Alex was practicing his somersaults and his megaphone impression in the lobby where other grown-ups were trying to work, and Lottie was chewing on a Tampon because I forgot to bring her teethers along.

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Furthermore, the child we were there for, who three weeks ago was appropriately clad for ballet, came out of her class looking like this:

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I’m no dance expert, but I think that gaping hole that she BIT through her tights is not going to be acceptable.

Both my younger kids get dragged along to Evelyn’s activities, but Alex is finally at an age this year where he should probably be getting some educational activities of his own. And that was my original plan — to spend some time working on things like the alphabet and his colors with him while Evelyn was in school.

Instead I’ve dragged him with me on errands and thrown Lindt truffles at him to keep him quiet.

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I DID tell him his hands were brown, and that brown starts with a B.

Whatever. I’m good at other things.

It’s not like this all the time, I think we’re just having a week. Alex is being a jerk and no one is sleeping and we have a birthday party coming up this weekend and so my “busy-box-making” time has been spent cleaning and baking and Dollar-Store-Favor-shopping and contemplating whether or not a piñata is a terrible idea.

Next week will be better. Sunday I’ll make brand new resolutions, and I’ll be glad I documented this week’s parenting low, because there’s nowhere to go from here but up.

For now, I’ve poured myself a little glass of wine and will be spending tonight recovering from today.

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Cheers.

Balance

Last week, in a bold attempt to get my children to eat any sandwich other than PBJ, I served them a car dinner of Roast Beef sandwiches. As I should have predicted, when we got home and out of the car, I found that Alex had consumed 100% of his bread with mayonnaise but I found 95% of the roast beef discarded in his carseat.

I didn’t think much about that other 5% except that maybe he’d tried it and didn’t like it. It didn’t occur to me at the time that when Alex doesn’t like something, he takes the offensive food back out of his mouth and throws it somewhere out of his direct eyeline.

It finally occurred to me on Sunday, when we got into the car after it had been parked in the sun and it was immediately clear to me that the discarded roast beef is still in there somewhere. Three sunny days later I cannot for the life of me find the meat, and the smell’s only getting worse. This is what I get for trying to introduce a more balanced diet. Maybe I’ll just leave my windows down and follow the flies.

The smell doesn’t seem to bother Lottie, who is going through a growth spurt and will not be deterred in her quest for food by even the foulest of odors.

At least I’m assuming it’s a growth spurt, because last night she was starving for dinner by 3:15. She spent the better half of the car ride home letting me know.

Believe me, I’m all about making my kids wait and setting the schedule for them, not letting them dictate it to me, blah blah blah. But last night Lottie was just. Not. Going. To. Wait. Not for anything — there wasn’t even enough time for me to get a bib on her before the free-for-all started.

She consumed an entire can of mandarin oranges, a half cup of Cheerios, 25 blueberries, 13 raspberries, a sweet potato-apple pouch, and a full serving of (puréed) beef & broccoli.

She reminded me of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, if the Very Hungry Caterpillar got high and wound up in front of McDonald’s dollar menu.

She reminded me of Templeton at the fair.

She reminded me of myself at an all-you-can-eat ice cream buffet.

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She looked like a tiny bride participating in a “trash the dress” photo shoot, and as it turned out I did have to trash the dress. There wasn’t enough stain remover in the world.

Anyway, it’s safe to say she at least got a balanced meal. Meanwhile I was so busy trying to keep up with her appetite that I threw some Double Stuff Oreos and raspberries at my older kids and called that dinner.

My parenting may not be as consistent as I’d like, but at least it seems to balance itself out nicely. Part of the time I’m an attentive and engaged Mom who initiates educational crafts and historical field trips, and other times I’m the Mom who lets them watch 3 straight hours of TV because I just want to go through the mail and cook dinner (and okay, scroll through Instagram and pee) in peace.

But I’m finding that my level of parenting not only varies from day to day, but from kid to kid.

One kid gets engaged in an age-appropriate activity while the other two are left to fend for themselves. It’s just the nature of having multiple kids I guess.

Monday I took Alex to his gymnastics class and left Evelyn and Lottie to sit by the wall while I tried in vain to convince him that participating would be fun. Five minutes later I turned to find that Evelyn had joined a “Little Ninja’s” all (older) boys class and was getting ready to attempt the American Ninja Warriors Course, and Lottie was holding her bottle upside down and completely emptying it into her carseat. Add that to the list of delicious smells in my car.

Or, yesterday I woke up and decided that we’d all look presentable … so I threw a little energy into dressing the kids in cute outfits, but by the time I’d finished with two the third had already dressed herself in a pioneer bonnet, big sister t-shirt, tutu and water shoes.

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I actually hope she keeps this up — if so, she should easily achieve Eric’s dream of her not dating until she’s 30.

If then.

Today at the playground I was focused on feeding Lottie and also shooting laser eyes at an older girl who was being mean to Evelyn, and while I was doing that it turns out Alex was over by the slide casually stuffing his diaper full of wood chips. Those were fun to retrieve.

I think it will be good for them in the long run, right? At least that’s what I like to tell myself on days (or in moments) like this. They’ll grow up able to entertain themselves, fend for themselves, dress themselves (in Civil War era garb) and feed themselves.

Just as long as what they’re feeding themselves is Peanut Butter and Jelly.

 

Embarrassed

Young kids are good at a lot of things. Few of these things are productive, but they can sure be entertaining.

One of the things they’re best at is embarrassing you. Or so I hear. I don’t embarrass easily, at least not at the hands of my kids. In fact the only thing that I’m regularly embarrassed by is any “On this Day” Facebook memory that pops up from 2009.

“Melissa Milne is watching Miss Congeniality!!!” “Melissa Milne hates tequila!!!” “Melissa Milne thinks anyone cares to know this!!!” Melissa Milne used too many exclamation points.

I’m frequently embarrassed when I think about pretty much anything that 20-something Melissa did or said. But it’s pretty hard to make 30-something Melissa blush.

Take last week, for example.

The last few times we’ve been to the pediatrician, he’s been running late. It’s probably the crowds of other patients in the waiting room, but another theory is that he knows the list of inane questions he’s about to walk into with me and finds reasons to dawdle.

I mean it, I’m ridiculous. Last time we were there I asked him no less than 17 questions about Alex alone, including but not limited to “he’s got a bruise on his shin, do you think he has Leukemia? Can you throw in a test for that?” and “He’s pretty repetitive and gets super attached to routines. Does he have an addictive personality? Do you think he’ll struggle with substance abuse when he grows up?”

He’s pretty good about laughing my questions off but I think I caught an eye roll or two the last time. I managed to schedule Evelyn’s 4-year, Alex’s 2.5-year and Lottie’s 9 month for the same day in October, and I’m in the process of securing his personal address so I can send him an encouragement card beforehand.

Last week was Lottie’s 6-month appointment and it was the first time in documented history that I didn’t have a SINGLE question for him. Not one. This was a huge deal. It felt like sitting down for the ACT’s and knowing without a doubt that you’re prepared. Or at least I assume it’s a similar feeling, as that was never the case with me and the ACT’s. Is a 600 a good score?

But last week, I had it together. I was excited to pleasantly surprise the doctor with my silence.

But then he walked in the door and Evelyn hit him with a question of her own.

“I need you to look at my Other Butt. It has LOTS and lots of scratches.”

“What do you mean your other butt?” he asked her.

“You know, my bagina.”

This would have been my moment to be embarrassed. I opened my mouth to apologize, or laugh … but then I closed it again and then joined her in looking expectantly at him.

I was actually pretty curious myself. She’s right. She’s constantly scratching herself. I mean constantly.

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That last one is at church. When she’s scratching herself in God’s house it’s time to draw a line.

She says she itches constantly … but I’ve checked and found nothing. The doctor checked and also found nothing. “Throw some Vaseline on it…” he suggested. “Maybe that will help?”

Sure, sure, let’s draw more attention to the area. That sounds like a good plan.

It’s been getting a lot of attention lately, as I’m hell bent on teaching her to wipe her own butt. (I feel like that sounds like an obvious answer to the issue right there, but I really don’t think the two are related. The doctor agreed, after in a shocking turn of events, I questioned him about it.)

There are pictures I could share of all the toilet paper that seems to get … wedged … but suffice to say we’re not quite there yet.

And if you don’t believe me, you could ask anyone who may have happened to see us today at the farm where we went raspberry picking.

I sent Evelyn into the Port-a-John alone — a huge mistake, as she came out a few minutes later with her dress hiked up and her underwear around her ankles. She casually sauntered up to me where I was standing in line to pay, immediately assumed a lineman’s position and demanded that I wipe her butt.

If I’m going to let my kids embarrass me, that would have been my moment, hands down. Literally hands down.

But I just happened to have a wipe in my hands, as I’d just finished cleaning the pound of chocolate-covered-rice-krispie-treat off Alex’s face, and the situation was resolved in about 30 seconds. Although, the woman behind the counter did put gloves on before she accepted my $20 bill, and I can’t say I blame her, but embarassed? Nah.

THIS is embarrassing:

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It was a really deep question that obviously required multiple opinions before it could be answered. *palm to face*

I hope my kids prove equally difficult to embarrass, because God knows I’m going to rival Beverly Goldberg for humiliating my kids when they reach middle school.

Though I’ll draw the line at that last stunt.

Let it Go

If you know me, you know I’ve got a little control freak in me. A little meaning that on a scale of 1-10 I’m at about a 75.

It shows up in all aspects of my life, but most obvious in my daily routine is how I feel about the state of my house and the children in it.

These pages from my calendars the years/months the kids were born have been hanging at the top of the stairs and it drives me NUTS that Lottie’s page is a different size than the other two and therefore that I can’t (or at least I refuse to) hang them in chronological order:

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Another thing that’s been difficult for me to look past is the fact that there are currently three beds in Alex’s room while we prepare to transition him into his big boy bed.

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There’s no mattress on the top bunk, no good place for his chair, and the rug can’t be centered … which I guess at least distracts from the fact that his trim still hasn’t been painted.

I’d like to simply think of myself as “orderly”, but it can definitely verge on excessive, and “excessively orderly” turns out to be the definition of anal retentive. Which is a term I’ve always thrown around loosely until the other day when I actually looked it up.

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Am I the only one who didn’t know this personality trait developed as a result of toilet training? Given the use of the word “anal”, I probably should have put that together years ago.

I just don’t have the mental capacity to put things together anymore though, because, ironically, all my energy has been going into toilet training toddlers. Which is apparently giving them a complex.

And while I’m busy giving the kids a complex, they’re actually serving mine well. Cohabitation with them means I’m finding a need to loosen up in a lot of areas. (Knowing the genesis of “anal retentive” suddenly gives “loosen up” a whole new meaning that I’m not entirely comfortable with). So in the words of Elsa, lets just say I need to let it go. (Also doesn’t sound right now…)

Laid back. There we go. I need to be more laid back.

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Like with broken closet doors for example. Before I would have preferred a working closet door. Now I just have to admit to myself that it’s not at the top of our budgeting priorities and let the kid use it as a fort. (Just kidding, it was immediately removed from her room).

Now for clothes. If I had my druthers, my children would be dressed like Prince George and Princess Charlotte all the time. They’d also be as poised and well behaved as those two seem to be. Can I get a Royal team to help me in that regard?

Anyway, that would be my choice … lots of courdoroy, knee socks, ditsy prints with a nice crisp Peter Pan collar.

My kids of course have different choices, as I knew they would eventually:

And if that’s how they’re going to present themselves in public, then I’ll choose to do the same:

E658E849-6F06-41BA-A53A-74A8C577E190That hat and that sweatshirt and that makeupless face will pretty much be my uniform, until my kids can shower and dress and feed themselves in the morning and I can resume showering anytime other than 11 pm.

Chores are another thing I’m going to have to let go of a little.

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Perfect hospital corners pale in comparison to the life skill Evelyn will develop from having to make her bed herself every day, right?  At least that’s the mantra I repeat to myself every time I walk into her room and see this on top of what was once a nicely made bed:

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When questioned, Evelyn said her lovies were at a concert. Those music boxes in the middle play Fur Elise and the Beauty and the Beast theme, so it must have been a real rager.

I would MUCH rather have the laugh I get out of seeing the way her little mind works than a perfectly orderly house, and I’ve come a long way in loosening up a bit.  Maybe too far:

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One sock is missing because I used it to wipe up a milk spill this morning when there was no dish towel handy and my two year old was about to run through the puddle on his wiggle car. It was then thrown on the laundry pile but I forgot to remove the other one and walked around like this for close to an hour.

Is using a sock to clean taking loosening up a little too far? Perhaps. Looks like I’ll just need to work on finding a balance, like in every aspect of my life.

For now that means eating a cheeseburger for dinner since I had a salad for lunch.

And maybe soon moving Alex into his big bed, so I can go back to fixating on the unpainted trim … and therefore maybe finish that project.

Cluck Cluck Cluck

You know that saying, “Shoot for the Moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”?

Well, this week I shot for the moon. And you know where I landed? Among the stars. Specifically these stars.

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My goal this week was to interest my kids in chicken in ANY form other than the nugget.

Let me back up and say that my original parenting plan included kids that would eat anything they were given, anywhere, at any time. My kids were never going to order off of the children’s menu. They were also going to listen 100% of the time and be reading independently by 2.

Then reality set in. For starters, I began to notice that most food, children’s menu or otherwise, went untouched. And I wasn’t about to pay $12 for a blue cheese burger off the adult menu instead of $5 for a plain burger off the kids menu, when 3/4 of either one was going to end up in a doggy bag for Pippa.

Second, we bought a fixer upper and did most of the fixing up ourselves. We had six weeks between closing and move-in, and about 8 weeks worth of projects to cram into it. Therefore I spent almost all my time driving the kids between the two houses — to the new house in the morning and home to the old house for afternoon naps. Then, immediately upon moving in, we fell into a schedule that also included drives that cut it way too close to nap time.

Some might think that Shark Diving or Skydiving or cliff jumping in those ridiculous flying squirrel suits is the riskiest thing you can do, but they’d be wrong. The riskiest risk of all risks is to take a thirty minute drive with two toddlers at 11:54 am. You’ll never find a higher high than succeeding in keeping them awake for this, because it is so very rare that you do.

The solution? Car lunch.

Man, do we rock the car lunch. And the car dinner. And sometimes the car breakfast.

I have tried my best to be committed to these car meals being as healthy and nutritionally diverse as a home meal would be. Unfortunately this has resulted in my carseats looking like this:

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That’s a years worth of peanut butter, yogurt, cheese grease, fruit juices and broccoli crowns mashed into that thing. It smells exactly like you’d imagine. I didn’t think it was that bad until my sister all but gagged when she saw it. When a fellow mom of preschoolers thinks it’s bad, it’s bad.

But the alternative has landed me in my current predicament. The easiness and non-peanut butter-smeariness of chicken nuggets has proved so tempting to me as we race from activity to activity that my kids have turned into monsters. Monsters that won’t eat anything that isn’t a white carb with cheese and/or breaded and fried.

So this week I put my foot down. It was high time to re-introduce chicken in other forms, darn it.

Monday’s attempt was a roasted chicken submarine sandwich for lunch. YUM, right?!

Alex disagreed. First the cheese was removed from the offensive sandwich, and then consumed alone while everything else on the plate remained untouched.

Next it was maple chicken sausage with breakfast. YUM, right?!

“What in tarnation did you just put in front of me, Woman? Let me put this dog food back where it belongs before it touches my shredded cheese.”

Evelyn’s my more adventurous eater, probably because at 9 months I was feeding her pureed lamb curry at our dining room table while at 9 months I was feeding Alex a GoGo Apple squeeze and french fries in his carseat. But even she was above the chicken sausage, trying a bite and then immediately spitting it back into her hands as if there was a starving baby bird in them. I decided to spare you the picture of that. You’re welcome.

Clearly something else had to happen. I could have waited, persevered, but I’m bad at that. Instead I came up with a different plan.

The intensity with which my kids protest when I try and take 30 seconds to do something like pee alone has led me to assume that they love me more anything. Except for maybe Ranch, which they’d lick off the floor if I let them.  I’m 130% sure they would trade me for a lifetime supply of it without even blinking.

So today I marinated two tiny chicken breasts in an entire bottle of Hidden Valley in an attempt channel their Ranch obsession directly into chicken.

Now if I could just channel their obsession with Mommy into chicken …

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Done.

This is Sweet Baby Ray’s go-to Halloween costume every year. He throws some blue painter’s tape on top of it and an extension cord on top of that, and voila. Chicken “cord-on-blue.” If I hadn’t already been in love with him when I first laid eyes on it, that definitely would have done the trick.

Today I was hoping it would have the same affect on my kids, while also somehow sidestepping the whole “but if we love chickens then why do we eat chickens” question.

Evelyn was completely unaffected, in that she stumbled out of her room after nap and casually asked if it was Halloween today.

Alex on the other hand was thrilled, and kept yelling “Mommy’s a duck!” when I walked in to get him. We’ll have to work on his barnyard poultry identification.

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But, he DEVOURED his Ranch bottle chicken, so something worked. (Though can I really call that a win?)

It’s a step in the right direction, anyway. We’re still heading for the moon and we’re on our way to leaving the star (nuggets) behind.

 

 

 

License Plate Game

Becoming a parent has done a lot of things to me. For example – I feel things in ways I’ve never felt them before — my highs are higher and my lows are lower. For another example – my weight is higher and my IQ is lower.

So many things.

Parenthood has also turned me into a raging hypochondriac. Last week I called both the pediatrician and my skin doctor to make emergency appointments for what turned out to be a scratch and a bug bite, respectively. I was sure both were some deadly form of melanoma.

In my defense, smack in the middle of the back is a weird spot for a scratch, no?

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“Better safe than sorry,” I told myself that day as I emailed my kids doctor for the third time that week and all but asked for his home number in case I needed to reach him at 3 am on a Saturday. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m trying to start something up with him. Although the baseball hat and unbrushed teeth I wear to every appointment would suggest otherwise.

Another thing parenthood has done to me answers to the name postpartum anxiety, and is good friends with my hypochondria. It’s barreled into my life with the fury of a thousand suns and I remain decidedly unenthusiastic about welcoming it.

It first showed up after Alex was born in 2016. Therefore I’ve made an executive decision that he alone will be responsible for caring for me in my old age, which will probably come early if this continues.

I’ve found various ways to deal with it. Mostly it manifests when I’m driving, usually on the highway. It’s taken some trial and error to figure out what will help stave off panic attacks behind the wheel. Some things that didn’t work — Yanni, Lavender oil, singing The Wheels on The Bus, and deep tissue massage. I’m convinced this last one would have worked if I could have hired someone else to do it for me as I drove. Attempting it myself, in fact, made the situation worse.

Some things that do work — listening to Podcasts (Oh how I ❤️ Mike Rowe), giving up caffieine (at the stage of life I need it most, oh how I despise that) and various distraction techniques. When my kids are awake, playing referee is distracting enough. But when they’re alseep I need something else, so I’ve taken to playing a license plate game with myself.

Most Wisconsin license plates have three letters in a row, so I’ll take the license plate of every car that passes me and make as many complete sentences out of those three letters as I can before the next car passes.

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Little Daddy Zebra. Loud Daddy Zebra. Loving Daddy Zebra. Late Daddy Zebra. Laughing Daddy Zebra.

Turns out this game also stands to help my vocabulary, as I seem to get stuck on certain words.

To that end, there are an awful lot of V’s in license plates. And there are only so many sentences I can make with Vacation, Victoria and Virginia before my mind goes to the obvious V word I’m omitting. Twice now I’ve seen the unfortunate license plate BHV. Do with that what you will.

This leads me to another thing that parenting young kids has done to me — it has put some anatomically correct verbiage at the front of my mind and vocabulary.

We spend a lot of time identifying body parts. Recently we’ve also spent a lot of time lately reading Little House on the Prairie – which is why last week when I was giving someone our insurance group number over the phone — a group number that starts with FV — I rattled off “F as in fiddle, V as in vagina” so casually that it wasn’t until the woman on the other end started laughing that I realized what I’d said.

**hand to face**

Omg my forehead feels hot. Could be a fever. Could be imminent death. Better call my doctor just to be safe.

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