headabovelaundry

Three kids, two dogs, one husband…keeping my head above the laundry pile one load at a time…

Who’s On First

I’m in a bit of a bad mood this week. I’m in a bit of a funk.  And it’s things like this that just push my “irritation quotient” a bit too high: 

6. Obsessions— Be it a clean house, germ phobia, paranoia, hoarding, eating, or even exercising.  The rituals we obsess about will bump our husbands from their rightful spot as first on the priority list. Identify it, and seek professional help.

This blog post was a Top Ten list of ways to push your husband away.  It’s from a blog I subscribed to because it provides some thought-provoking and insightful messages.  Sometimes.  A bit too religious for my taste, but I use a filter and pick and choose what works for me.  Sometimes I take away some positive things.  Other times, it makes my blood boil.

Today it made my blood boil.  My husband’s rightful spot is first on my priority list?  Really?  First?

Maybe my blood is boiling because this is the second time this week that I’ve read something that says because I am a wife and mother, I should come last.  This particular post says my husband should come first and foremost in my life.  A few days ago I read a blog post that said as a mother, I should set aside my wants and needs to focus on my children.  That they are my sole reason for being.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and my children.  I do.  But the fact that I should spend my time putting all of them first and foremost in my life is wrong.  Just wrong.  There has to be a healthy balance.  And this is not healthy.  At least not in my eyes.  I think in order to be at least an adequate wife and mother, I need to focus on myself a bit, too.  I think my sanity should be first and foremost.  Because a sane, happy woman is a better wife and mother.  I’ll make myself (more of) a crazed lunatic by putting everyone’s needs ahead of my own.

Maybe I’m just a self-centered woman.  I sure hope not.

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I Get By With A Little Help From My Kids…

I’m trying to teach my children a little more responsibility.  I’m trying to encourage them to be productive members of the household.  I’m trying to teach them skills that will one day help them find a woman who would want to marry them.  (Well, one woman for each child, not one woman for the three to share…I may be reading 51 Shades of Grey, but I really don’t want my children living that much of an alternative lifestyle.  But I digress.)

So, in order to help make them marriage material, I’m trying to teach them some basic manners and give them chores around the house.  I’m not ready to turn over the laundry duties yet.  I’m a bit of a freak regarding organized closets, and if they put their own clothes away I would probably have a heart attack (or panic attack) every time I would happen to glance into their closet.  So, I’m starting small:  unloading the dishwasher.  Seems easy enough.  It’s pretty straightforward regarding dishes, cups and silverware placement.  Not hard, right?

I have one drawer in my kitchen set up for lunch supplies (all three kids bring their lunch because our schools don’t have cafeterias or hot (or cold, for that matter) lunch service).  The drawer is filled with sandwich containers, Thermoses and other supplies.  After a few months of the kids unloading the dishwasher, this is what the lunch supply drawer looked like:

 

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The day I couldn’t get the drawer shut is the day I had to re-take control of my life, starting here.  This is what the drawer is supposed to look like:

 

 

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Some people need Xanax, others meditation.  For me, I need a well organized lunch supply drawer to find my happy place.

And yes, I have the special cupcake holders so the frosting doesn’t get smushed and I have the Tupperware banana holders so the bananas don’t get icky in the lunchbox.  Don’t judge me.

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What’s In Your Backpack?

 

 

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I vaguely recall Ryan mentioning that he needed to clean out his backpack.  He said there was quite a bit of junk in it.  I think that was last night.  This morning, after being a royal pain the ass like only an eleven year old going on sixteen can be, he stormed off to school  After he left, I walked in the family room to find all this crap on the couch.  He did need to empty his backpack.  And he did “empty” it, by dumping all the contents on the couch and leaving for school with a now empty backpack.  Let’s see, what did he leave me?

  • One empty Altoids tin (evidently for the days when he “forgets” to brush his teeth – don’t get me started).
  • One Mounds Easter Egg candy wrapper (wait.one.minute.  Those were mine – all mine!).
  • One dirty sock – just one!
  • Various flash cards from last week’s science test on phases of the moon and eclipses.
  • One roll of grey duct tape.  Duct tape?  Yes, duct tape.  I’m not even going to ask.

 

ARGH!

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Nerd Alert!

While I was in Illinois visiting family over March Break, my mom gave me and my brothers some of our old games from our childhood.  It was a trip down memory lane for the three of us.  Very few of our games required a battery, precision screwdriver, or charging device.

As we divided the games between us, it was pretty easy to figure out who was the owner of the game in question:

  • Was it a “cool” game, i.e. one that required a battery and lit up/made noise?  Those belonged to my youngest brother, Jeff, who is 9 years younger than me.  Yes, he had the uber-cool Merlin (that still works, by the way), the small arcade-style Caveman game (that also still works), and Operation.
  • Did it in any way involve nature, the outdoors, wildlife, building?  Those belonged to my other younger brother, Mark, who is 4 years younger than me.  He was also the owner of a hand held electronic basketball game.
  • Was it a nerd game, i.e. one that involved spelling, writing, life, career?  Those belonged to yours truly.  Boggle?  Mine.  Ad-Lib?  Mine.  Scrabble?  Mine.  Life?  Mine.  Careers?  Mine.  Payday?  Mine.  Verbatim?  Mine.

From the stack of games I brought home with me, it appears that I spent most of my childhood trying to be a grownup.

I think this is my favorite game box~

The recommended age for this game is 8 and up, yet the photo on the box shows two brandy snifters and a set of pearls. I know the drinking laws were a little more flexible when I was young, but an eight year-old drinking brandy and wearing pearls?

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Updated Job Description

I have some issues with my Mom Handbook and Mom Job Description.

In the last twelve hours, I have disposed of a very dead Beta fish (rest in peace, Fishy) and cleaned up doggie diarrhea in the living room (the only good thing is that the guilty dog had the grace and foresight to poo on the hardwood floor in the living room, not the Restoration Hardware rug in the family room…for that, I thank him or her).  Nowhere in any parenting handbook have I ever read anything about disposing of a dead fish or cleaning up doggie do-do.  Maybe it’s because my attention was diverted by the arts and crafts projects.  The glitter must have distracted me.

After taking care of both of these smelly issues, I spent the rest of the day trying to cleanse my nasal palate of the horrific odors.  Alas, the Party Lite lilac votive is no match for a doggie’s stomach gone wild.  [In fact, it brought to mind a joke my uncle told when I was about 8 years old.  The fact that I can remember this joke, but not what I had for breakfast this morning, is a bit disconcerting, but alas, it pretty much sums me up.  I know you are dying to read the joke, so here it is:  An Avon lady is riding alone in an elevator when she passes gas.  The smell is a bit “unpleasant”, so she reaches into her sample bag and pulls out the Avon Evergreen Air Freshener Spray and sprays it liberally in the elevator.  Soon after, the elevator stops and a man steps in.  He takes a few sniffs and makes a face.  The Avon lady asks what he thinks of the fragrance.  His response?  “Smells like somebody sh*t a Christmas tree.”  I know, I know, corny as can be, but I laugh a little to myself every time I smell a pine scent.]

As sad as it may seem, my mommy day is not done.  I must tuck in the two youngest and then turn my attention to the icky black gunk that has formed in Maggie the dog’s ears.  Another entry in my revised Mom Job Description.

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New Old Yeller?

On our way home from lunch to celebrate K3’s (Kid 3’s) birthday, we were discussing the type of dog we would like to get. Yes, we already have two dogs – Frosty, a Yellow Lab and Maggie, a Golden Retriever – and no, we aren’t planning to get another dog any time soon. But we do talk about having another dog in our parallel universe (the one where we don’t have vet bills, dog food bills, or poop patrol).

There were many of suggestions:  Beagle, German Shepherd (vetoed by me), Black Lab, Chocolate Lab, Pug, Dalmation, another Yellow Lab, another Golden Retriever.

After considering several different breeds of dogs, K2 (Kid 2) announces that when we do get a new puppy, we should not take it to get a rabies shot.

WHAT?!

“I want the dog to have puppies so we can keep two of them and sell the rest.”

K1 (Kid 1) rolls his eyes and says “It’s a babies shot, not a rabies shot!”

Just enough knowledge to be dangerous, that’s what those two boys have…

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What’s For Lunch?

When I asked the boys what they wanted to pack for lunch this morning, K3 requested macaroni and cheese. (The Annie’s Organic Microwave kind.  It’s the best.  Try it, you’ll like it.)  Since I’m always trying to be Super Mom (actually, always feeling guilty about yelling too loud or being too impatient), I told him I would bring it to him at lunchtime.  Mac and cheese that sits in a Thermos all morning gets a little too gooey to eat.  It’s so much better fresh out of the microwave.

Because Super Mom has some short-term memory issues, I asked K3 to write me a note to remind me to finish fixing his lunch and bring it to school.  Sure, I could have written myself a note, but if I ask him to do it, I distract him from annoying his brother and buy myself a bit of peace and quiet.

Here’s the note he left for me:

Some kids have Mac AND Cheese. Owen has Mack OR Roney.

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Dad’s *Great* Idea

Here’s this morning’s breakfast conversation:

Alex:  “Hey, Owen, it’s only eight days until your birthday!”

Me:  “Actually, seven days.”

Alex:  “It’s eight if you count today.”

Me [to self]:  ‘What kid counts today in a countdown to a major holiday?’

Me:  “OK, fine, eight.  So, Owen, what do you want to bring to school for your birthday treat?”

Don [from left field – the couch]:  “Ice cream cake!  Ice cream cake!”

[For a visual:  He was bouncing around like a five-year-old, so excited about his great idea.]

Me [doing my very best 1st grade teacher impression]:  “OK,  one, DON, I was talking to Owen, not you.  And two, it’s a class treat, not the home birthday party.  Owen’s teacher would kill me if I brought in an ice cream cake.  Who would serve it?  What about the mess?”

Don:  “You could go in and serve it.  I don’t see a problem here.”

Me:  “Me?  Go in and serve it?  To a class full of 20 second graders?  I don’t think so.  No.  No way.  Again, Owen, what do you want to bring?”

Owen:   “Ice cream.”

—–

What will Owen be bringing in for his birthday treat?  Whatever the heck I bake for him to bring in….it will not be a DQ ice cream cake.  But thanks for your input, Don.  Next time, keep reading your Blackberry and stay out of the conversation.

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Teddy Love

This is something I wrote for my Momoir class.  The topic was about first love, or something love-related.  I tried to step out of the memoir box and write from a different perspective.  I hope you like it.  And if you  love and/or enjoy writing, I highly recommend The Momoir Project (www.themomoirproject.com).  It is an online class that helps you grow and develop as a writer.  Cori Howard, the founder, is a fantastic teacher and guidance counselor.

Thanks for reading!

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His mom retrieves me from under his bed, blows off a few dust bunnies that cling to my arm, adjusts the sleeves of my Clone Trooper outfit, and sits me in my rightful place – front and center of his Star Wars pillow, with Yoda to my left.

—-

I first came into Ryan’s life when he was a wee child, barely nine months old, and I had recently been lovingly stuffed by his Uncle Jeff and soon-to-be-Aunt Rhonda at the St. Louis Build-A-Bear Workshop.  We rode down the aisle of a beautiful church in a lace and satin covered red Radio Flyer wagon, pulled by Ryan’s second cousin, Samantha.  Ryan was the ring bearer and I was the ring bear.  He was bedecked in adorable black velvet overalls and I was sporting a black tuxedo.  We were a dashing duo!

 

After the wedding, I rode back to Massachusetts in my little cardboard abode, while Ryan’s mom nervously navigated their return trip from Illinois.  This was her and Ryan’s first journey away from home by themselves.  The trip had went fine so far, and the return home went well, too.  Once back in Massachusetts, I took up residence in his bedroom.  I was propped up on the pillow of his not-yet-ready-to-use big boy bed, nestled amongst a collection of stuffed bears, dogs, bunnies, and even a pig.

 

It was here I sat, waiting and waiting, until the fateful night when I became “Teddy”.  Ryan’s mom and dad were watching the movie “AI:  Artificial Intelligence” while Ryan happily played with his Thomas the Tank Engine trains on the floor, seemingly oblivious to the movie playing on the TV.  In the movie, the human child-like robot, David, is befriended by a robotic teddy bear named “Teddy”.  The movie was very sad and Ryan’s mom still had tears in her eyes when she carried a sleepy boy upstairs for a diaper change and wardrobe change from play clothes to pajamas.  As his chubby feet were being stuffed into the sleeper pajamas, he looked around and I caught his eye.  “Teddy!” he said, and he reached over to grab me.

 

From that moment on, we were the best of friends.  I slept with him every night.  I accompanied him on trips to Home Depot and Stop & Shop.  I rode in the monster cart at Target, sitting right across from him, strapped into the toddler seat of the shopping cart.  His mom would shop for all the necessities while he would sit, usually quietly, slurping down the blueberry freeze Icee from the Target snack bar.  While I never got to taste it, my fur was frequently covered in drips and spills from his cup.  We went to the Build-A-Bear store and bought me some casual outfits (a bear can’t live in a tuxedo forever).  I went with him on visits to his grandmas’ houses in Illinois.  Sometimes we traveled by plane, sometimes by car.  But always, always, I was with him.

 

I survived the arrival of two new baby brothers and two puppies.  I was kept safe from being chewed on by all four of them.  Puppies can be dangerous…I have been witness to Frosty and Maggie chewing the noses off several of my stuffed comrades.  Babies can be dangerous too….they drooled on me, they dropped me, they hid me.  But I survived.

 

One year on Christmas Eve, Santa snuck into Ryan’s room and ever-so-gently removed me from Ryan’s arms.  Santa knew he had to be very, very careful.  Ryan had tried to hard to stay awake to listen for the sleigh bells on Santa’s sleigh or the tip toeing footsteps of his mom putting the gifts under the tree.  He so wanted to believe that Santa was real, but he kept hearing stories from his little friends at school, telling him he was wrong, that Santa wasn’t real, that Santa was really his mom.  Ryan wasn’t able to stay awake, but Santa was worried that he wasn’t sleeping very soundly.  So he carefully extracted me from the sleeping child’s hug, and brought me downstairs to the Christmas tree.  He brought Ryan’s brothers’ bears down, too.  He dressed each of us in Star Wars outfits:  I was a Clone Tooper, Alex’s teddy was Darth Vader, and Owen’s was Luke Skywalker.  Boy were those boys surpised when they came downstairs Christmas morning and found us under the tree!

 

As Ryan gets older, I find I am not needed as much as I used to be.  I am no longer invited to sleepovers at friend’s houses (except his best friend, Jack’s….Jack sleeps with his Froggy and thinks it is perfectly ok to have a stuffed animal to sleep with).  I still go with him to Grandmas’, but sometimes I ride in the suitcase instead of on the seat next to him.  I stay in his room almost all day now, and I never go to Home Depot.  I don’t get blueberry freeze Icees dripped on me anymore.  Ryan now prefers McDonald’s Frappacinos, and since he is older, he hardly ever drips or spills (unless his pesky little brothers bump his arm and make him spill).

 

He doesn’t need me all the time, but he still needs me sometimes.  His mom says she can tell what kind of day he has had by where I am.  If I am sleeping with Ryan, held in a “deathgrip”, he has probably had a bad day.  If I am tossed at the foot of the bed or, even worse, dropped on the floor to be used as a pillow by Maggie the dog, he has probably had a pretty good day.  If I come down to breakfast with him, he has probably had a bad dream or a restless night of sleeping.  When his family moved from Boston to Toronto last year, Ryan had a really bad time, and I was back to being his constant companion.  I went with him everywhere, even snuck in his backpack at school.  While it was a dream come true for me, it made me very sad that I could only be there for him, but couldn’t do much to make him feel better.

Tonight I can hear his friends’ laughter float up from the basement.  He’s having a sleepover for his eleventh birthday, and he’s definitely too cool and grown-up to sleep with a teddy bear.  His mom hears the laughter too, and as she readjusts my Clone Trooper outfit, she whispers to me.  I feel a little bit better.  “Love is being there when they need you….and being there when they think they don’t need you….”

 

Later in the night, as the grandfather clock strikes 11, I hear tip toeing footsteps in the hall.  This time, it’s Ryan, not Santa.  He comes in the room, plucks me off the bed, and carries me, football style, down the hall.  He stops at the door of his mom’s bedroom and whispers “Night mom.  Love you.” and heads downstairs to hang out with his friends.  Yes, his mom was right:  love is really being there for someone whether they need you or not.  Because, really, they always need you.  They just don’t always know it.

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Dad In Charge (Like Charles In Charge, but not)

Today I needed to go to school early to decorate for the Rockin’ Rodeo Dance-A-Thon (more on that another day), so I left Kids’ Dad (I’ll call him KD from now on because I really don’t like the DH nickname – although DH could stand for so many, many things besides “Darling Husband” – but I digress) in charge of the morning routine  Let’s see how that played out, shall we?

  • I remind the children to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth and put their agendas in their backpacks.  I ask Ryan to watch his time because he gets distracted easily.  And he was immersed in something Star Wars on the computer….which can make time fly (it’s like me and Pinterest….what seems like 5 minutes is actually an hour).
  • Cell phone rings while I’m at school.  It’s Alex, looking for his class Valentine’s.  I had them with me because when I asked the boys if they wanted to take them to school or if I should, they responded “yes”, which I interpreted to mean “yes, mom, you take them to school”.  They meant “yes, they would take them.”  Perhaps I should have turned off Sponge Bob before asking them this question.  Instruct them to meet me in the foyer when they get to school.
  • Bell rings, no one meets me in foyer.  Assume KD has also lost track of time and boys are late. Go to their classrooms to see if they are there.  Both boys are taking off their boots and not late.  WINNING!  Then, I notice what Owen is wearing.  Today is the Rockin’ Rodeo and they are supposed to wear something with a western look.  Owen is wearing his hockey jersey – that he wore the night before at hockey practice, which involved lots of sweating.  Worse yet, his PAJAMA shirt is under it!  “Did your dad see you before you left the house?”  “Yes.”  Not WINNING!
  • Finish decorating and return home to assess damages (and frost some cupcakes for the bake sale).  I see Ryan’s trumpet on the floor.  Check Ryan’s schedule.  Yep, band this afternoon.  Guess who’s going to be calling at lunchtime.
  • Ask KD about Owen’s attire.  “I asked him if he was all ready and he said yes.”  “And you believed him?”  I ask incredulously.  “Rookie mistake.”
  • Also see only one cereal bowl on counter.  Simple math:  three children + one bowl = two children didn’t eat breakfast.  “Did the boys all eat breakfast?”  “Yes, I put away the cereal and the milk.”   “So that means they all ate breakfast?  Why only one bowl?”  (I’ve watched every season of Law & Order, I know how to question a suspect.)  “Well, I put away the cereal and cleaned up the table.”
  • 11:27, phone rings.  “Mom, can you come pick me up?  I forgot my trumpet.  And half my lunch.”

Next time I leave KD at home in charge, I am going to have to leave a VERY detailed list of what to do.   You would have thought it was his first day on the parenting job.

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