Going off the Rails…

Snow days = Fast Track to the Mommy Crazy Train

There is rarely a day that the kids and I don’t leave the house.  So when there was a storm recently, and the preschool that Buddy goes to closed, it didn’t take long for our scene of domestic bliss to degenerate into bedlam.

Typically, on Tuesday and Thursday one of the twins spends the morning in preschool while I stay home with the other two kids.  It breaks up the day well.  But I admit that when I saw preschool closed, my first reaction wasn’t fear.  My first reaction was acceptance.  Okay, it will be nice to stay home all day for once and stay in jammies until bedtime, I thought naïvely. Fear would have been better.

That was at 7am.

By 8:30am the first biting incident had occurred.  Bear, of course, chomped Goose’s arm… I don’t know why.  I didn’t see it.  I suspect that Bear had a toy of hers (that she probably hasn’t played with in weeks) and she snatched it from him… you know… because it’s hers even if she wasn’t playing with it, and he, in turn, made a dental impression in her skin.

I split them up.  Declared time outs.  They went back to playing.

9:25: same scenario plays out with Buddy instead of Goose, same dental impression on a different arm.

Split them up again, declared time outs, only this time I sent them downstairs to the playroom.

9:52am: Buddy is screaming from the playroom.  I run downstairs and see Buddy backed into a corner, still screaming, holding back the charging Bear, whose jaws are gnashing wildly.  Buddy has his thumbs over Bear’s eyes with his palms on bear’s forehead and he is using his whole body weight to keep Bear from actually making contact.

I pick up rabid flailing Bear.  I ask what happened.  I get no satisfactory answers.  I decide not to interrogate them; I’m too tired already and it’s not even 10am.  I opt instead to carry the freak-out baby upstairs and leave Buddy and Goose to play alone…. that was the most peaceful 45 minutes of my day.  Bear, without siblings to compete with, played independently with his toys.  Buddy and Goose played together so nicely and so quietly in the downstairs playroom that I was certain they must be playing with matches or something treacherous, but I didn’t dare go down to see for fear of disrupting whatever thread of peace there was in the house at that moment.

When I called them upstairs for lunch, I peered down the stairs  not sure what I’d find, but they were actually playing together all friendly-like.  It was very sweet.

Of course, it was followed by fighting over lunch, and refusals of naps until mommy lost it completely….

“You will take naps.  I don’t want to hear another sound or you will be in big big trouble. Am I clear?  Mommy needs a nap!  One more sound and you’re toast!”  Because idle threats are always useful.

5 minutes later, heard over the monitor: “Buddy, you better stop talking or else you’re gonna be in big big trouble on a toast!”


They did eventually go to sleep.  I did get a short, much-needed, nap.

The afternoon looked much like the morning had, but was marginally easier to deal with given my short rest.  At the end of the day, all I could think was, “Hurry spring!” and “Thank goodness they have school tomorrow!” because if my kids tried to script me through one more scenario about I don’ t know what, I would have absolutely lost my mind.

“Mommy, you are the museum lady.  Say: ‘Would you like a ticket to the museum?’ Say that.  Say that, mommy.  Mommy.  Mommy. Mommy.  Say that.  Say: ‘Would you like a ticket to the museum?’ Mommy? MOMMY!”

So again, I say, “Hurry spring!”

This mommy can’t handle another snow day.

Up All Night, Can’t Sleep All Day

I vaguely remember a time when I might tell a friend that I was “up all night” and it could only mean one of two things.  Either: I was up studying, or I was out having fun.  Now, it is universally accepted that “up all night” means that I have a sick kid.

I worked an evening shift last Tuesday and when I returned home, hubby said, “Buddy’s acting a little off.  He keeps saying he doesn’t feel good and that he wants his mommy.”

Awwww…. poor guy.  So up the stairs I go to peak in on him.  He is sleeping soundly.  I adjust his blanket and kiss him gently on the forehead.  He stirs.  He sits up and vomits, and the screaming commences.  It was as if he saved it just for me.

Without being overly graphic, his bed and clothes, my clothes, and the bathroom rugs were all in need of a thorough washing.  Buddy spends the rest of the night in bed with us, alternately sleeping and hurling.  Awesome.  Miraculously, Goose slept in the same room through the initial puking, screaming, and the lengthy cleanup.

At 3:15am, Goose starts to cry.  It was a very sad cry.  Apparently she has just noticed that Buddy isn’t in his bed, and she is deeply troubled.  I climb into her toddler bed with her (yes, I did) and explain that he has a sick tummy, and that he is in mommy and daddy’s bed.

“Whyyyyy?  Why is he sick?  Why can’t he go to school?  Why can’t he be in his own bed?”

I explain again.  She expresses her plans to make him a “feel better soon” card like the one he made her when she was sick.  I stumble back to bed where Buddy has made himself as large as possible, such that there is very little room left for me.

24 hours later and Buddy was as good as new….  But Bear was a little cranky….  And then….  Repeat.


And of course, every parent knows, that when you’re up all night with a child, there is no “sleep all day” tomorrow.  Instead it’s more like: walk around zombi-fied and muddle through the day courtesy of a steady caffeine supply.

Life is a Highway: The Car Chronicles

I recently enjoyed a splendid evening in the company of dear friends, during which, we discussed some of the cars we’ve had and loved over the years.  It’s been on my mind since, so I thought I’d chronicle here my current and past vehicle relationships.

There’s a bond between a girl and her car that runs deep and often transcends reason.

I’ll start at the beginning with my very first car… It was 1992, I was 16, and the car was a 1985 (I think) Chevy Cavalier Type 10 hatchback in an off-white color, standard transmission.  She had a name, but I cannot recall it.  It’s driving me crazy for 2 days now.  If any of you knew me while I owned that car and can recall her name, please share.  I would sleep easier if I remembered.

This car was special.  Not just because it was my very first taste of freedom and independence, but because it was such a giant piece of crap.  Let me start by pointing out that there were large patches of Bondo on both doors.  Really very attractive.  I never locked it.  And if a friend thoughtfully locked it for me, I couldn’t get back into the car because the only key that I had did not fit the locks.  No worries, though.  You see, the latch on the hatchback was also broken and could only be opened by way of a carefully placed screwdriver, so I carried one always.

My father worried by my inability to lock my car on campus and holes in the interior door panels in an attempt to “fix” the problem with the locks.  Unfortunately, the locks remained a problem, but whatever trickle of heat the car put out in winter could easily escape through the wind sucking door-holes.  Thanks.

The radio… Ahhh, yes… the radio, the most important part of the car to my 16 year old mind.  It was intermittent.  But most of the time, a well placed knock on the dashboard would have me singing along again without missing more than a few lines.

The horn?  It sounded alternately like a dying animal or flatulence, then it finally quit altogether.

She ate tires every few months.  I just kept buying used ones, over and over and over, because they were all I could afford.

She had radiator “issues”… as in: I kept antifreeze and stop leak in the back seat next to the spare quarts of oil.  It’s really impressive that she carried me back and forth to college for as long as she did.  I loved that car… but by… hmmm… maybe 1996? Was it?  I was ready to move up to my 1991 Pontiac Grand Am.

Sadie.  She was blue and an automatic.  She had a sunroof, which would eventually leak.  That car saw me get married and buy a house, but she didn’t have much personality.

Then there was Pearl, a used Plymouth Voyager.  Yes, I really did own a mini van in my early twenties, well before I had kids.  Why?  I was active in greyhound rescue at the time and used it to haul dogs around.  It was very practical and I wasn’t the least bit embarrassed about driving it although I probably should have been.

Then there was Camilla, the hand-me-down Corolla, who also had no personality.  And she was followed by a pair of Mazda Protege 5s.  A pair, you ask?  Yes.  There were two of them.  It’s a traumatic tale but I’ll give you the shortest possible version.

Mona was my very first brand new car.  A black Protege 5.  I was very excited to have a new car.  Something that only I have ever driven.  Mona was also the first car I had that never slept outside.  My husband cleaned out a garage bay just for her.  I can’t remember the year anymore.  Must have been early in the 2000’s.  I took good care of that car.  I think she was about a year and a half old when I took her to a dealership for warranty service.  She had to stay for a few days.  I told the shop manager that she needed to sleep indoors.  He thought I was mad.  I probably am.

He called me the next day asking if I had taken the car.

“Ummmm…. no.  You have the car.”  I said.

“Okay, ma’am.  Don’t panic, but I have no choice but to call the police and report this car stolen.”

“I’m sorry…. what???”

Yes.  An unscrupulous employee had stolen my car off of the lot and taken it for a joyride.  It was found later that day, 200 miles later, in a seedy part of town.  There was a bottle of sunscreen in the backseat (that was not mine) and some greasy hand prints on the hood from when the perp was arrested. Ewwwww.  I couldn’t drive it again.  Over dramatic?  You bet.  I was not driving that car again. Period.  So the dealership gave us a good deal on another new one.  It was silver because that was the only new one left on the lot.  I called it “Kestrel”, but we never bonded.  It felt like a tainted relationship from the outset.

After that fiasco, when it came time for a new car, I knew exactly what I wanted.  And I got it.  Her name was Lorraine.  She was a red Camry with all the bells and whistles.  That car made me happy. Crazy happy.  Brand new and beautiful.  I called her Lorraine because it was a grown up sounding name but still a little bit sexy.  And that’s what this car was to me.  Hubby and I were talking about starting a family and Lorraine would be able to accommodate a child too.  I was in love…. except when the child finally arrived, there wasn’t one, there were two.  And while Lorraine could carry them, she couldn’t carry anything else.  There wasn’t room for a bag of groceries between the car seats, the stroller and the diaper bag.  She just wasn’t big enough. *sigh*

So we bought a minivan.  Only this time I was embarrassed.  I hated everything about having to drive a minivan and every soccer mom cliché that it represents.  I wanted a black one.  I figured that if I had to drive a minivan, it should at least be black so I could pretend I was part of the A-Team.  I contemplated getting a red stripe added on later…. except that the one we bought wasn’t black.  It’s green.  Pea green.  It’s hideous.  This did not seem like a fair trade to me… my Lorraine for this… icky green van.  It’s just so wrong.  I’m too cool to drive a minivan.

But it is so practical.  Even though I want to hate it, it just makes sense.  I hassle my husband about it all the time, how I gave up my beautiful Camry for this van and the injustice of it all.  I’ve claimed that I would never name it because I have no attachment to it whatsoever.

But it has grown on me…. as shown by the frequency of swagger wagon references (I still want spinners).  And don’t tell my husband, but I call her “Joanie”.

And I Ran… Not So Far Away

Happy New Year!  Smoooooch!

Sorry that I’ve been away so long, but the holidays will do that.

Here’s the end of year synopsis: Party 2 (for my company) was a smashing success…. but the hoopin’ never happened. It was too hectic and too crowded to get a good hoopin’ going.

Christmas: we had guests in town.  I love them, but I cannot stand people in my house for more than 3 days.   I just can’t.  I go berserk.  I’m slightly antisocial.  Everywhere I went, someone else was already there.  I run into this without house guests (including myself, there are three adults, and three children, normally), add two more adults and it’s more than I can handle.  It’s a personality defect; it’s not their fault.  But I feel much more stable now that they have gone home.  Sadly, when I checked my fish tank (which is in the room they were staying in) after they left, I realized that Goose’s fish is missing and presumed to have been my tiger barb’s lunch.  So far, she hasn’t noticed.

My children received an excess of gifts. It absolutely makes me crazy.  We purchased two gifts per child to keep things reasonable, but the grandparents went overboard as usual.  I will need to cull the toy herd before the new semester starts and I become too tired to care that I’m being slowly suffocated under a pile of toys and whatnot.  On one hand, I’m happy we can give them everything they need and much of what they want, but on the other hand, they have so much and others do without food let alone a considerable bounty from China.

Tiny Blue Tree

Tiny Blue Tree

Next year, they will get necessities for Christmas: clothes, books.  No toys.
The grandparents do enough of that. We will find a place to volunteer or buy gifts for people in need instead of more junk for this place. We gave to Toys for Tots, but I know we can do better.  It seems like it becomes a circus regardless of how hard I try to make it something more significant.   I’d like to skip Christmas altogether next year… maybe just celebrate the change of seasons or something.

There’s a picture of my silly blue plastic $20 tree.   I really love it.  It’s silly enough to make me happy, in spite of putting up a tree when I would rather not, just to keep the grandparents off my back.   I know, I know…. “Bah Humbug”. I can’t help it, and the harder I try to like the holiday, the more I don’t.

Don’t worry, the kids had a fantastic time opening their loot (even without any of the Santa stuff), although they still haven’t played with everything. We had dinner at my brother’s in Connecticut. We had a lovely time visiting family and over stuffing ourselves.

So, how did I bring in the new year?  Bowling.  I am soooooo exciting, right?

2011: It’s off to a rough start.  January 1, I spent running software updates at work… epic badness.  They failed so fantastically that I had to restore the database and reinstall a former version of the software.  Since then, the phone system has malfunctioned and a print server died.  Lucky I’m not superstitious or I might think this is an omen for the rest of the year.

On Sunday, frustrated from the previous day’s mishaps in server-land, and encouraged by the reasonable warmth of the day, I ran for the first time in two months.  Granted, it was only two miles, but it felt great!  2 glorious miles of me, alone with my thoughts and some Black Eyed Peas in my iPod, running along slowly…. or maybe it was more of a jog then a run.  Does anyone even say “jog” anymore?  Seems like everyone runs and no one jogs these days.  Wasn’t it the other way around a decade to two ago?

Anyway, as I said, it felt great!… That is, until I returned home and promptly stepped in a giant pile of dog  excrement. Poo. Poo on my running shoes.

Oh well.

This year:  I’m looking forward to warmer days for more running (I’m too wimpy to run if it’s too cold),  maybe I’ll finally run a 5k, get another couple of semesters under my belt toward my MBA, complete some great projects at work, and spend some quality time with my family.  Those kids of mine are getting too big, too fast.

There’s much to do, but if I’m not busy, I’m bored.

So, bring it on 2011… and bring your gremlins and your poo, too.