Kentucky Mom to Twins and More

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

This Is Why I’m Having A Love-Hate Relationship With Back-To-School


I’ve been counting down the days. It’s getting close. I feel like I’m in a marathon race in which I’ve fallen on my face a dozen times, but I keep getting up because there’s a big prize at the finish. That prize likely consists of hours of alone time and possibly a margarita at noon, but it’s there. I’m salivating. I’m in the home stretch.

Back-to-school is almost here, y’all. For some of you, it’s already arrived. For some of us, there are a couple weeks left of summer break.

Summer bucket list item #27: the carousel
We’ve got just enough time to finish off that summer bucket checklist that I so optimistically posted in the kitchen back in May. You know the one, it has “TONS OF SUMMER FUN” on it. The Mary Poppins activity planner in me created it, thinking it would be a good idea to list countless exciting adventures like amusement park days, Omnimax Theatre trips, lemonade stands, pottery painting, pizza-making nights, crafts, and even hiking for God’s sake! She was fired around week three of summer vacation — yes, it was the pottery that broke her (pun intended).

At the start of the summer, we were all about our bucket lists. We were crafting the shit out of paper plates and pipe cleaners thanks to our Pinterest friends. We bought the kids all the candy they wanted at the matinee showing of Trolls. We hauled their beach towels, sand toys, sunscreens, and Capri Suns in our canvas totes over our shoulders every day for a week in Florida. We bared our muffin tops at the splash park. We did cannonballs off the diving board because the kids begged us to.

But let’s admit, summertime wears us down. The hot, sweaty days at the park, the whiny days at the pool, the sibling bickering from morning to night, the “I’m bored” chants from four little people who couldn’t possibly know what true boredom is, and of course, the mealtime preparations every day for 80 days straight. Summer has become an unbearable eternity.

So we count the days until they put on those brand new backpacks filled with freshly sharpened No. 2s and all the other school supplies you painstakingly gathered, and march them through those big double doors at school. The school that will keep them most all of the day for the next nine months. It means I will be able to sit at the pool alone for a couple hours on those last few summer days. It means I could probably schedule a massage on a Wednesday morning and stop for an iced mocha afterward. I could drink it alone. My heart just skipped a beat. It could possibly mean I could take an afternoon nap before the bus gets here, and I could listen to a completely empty house save only for the hum of the air conditioner.


All this sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is. Here’s where the love-hate part comes in.
We all know what misery comes with back-to-school, and it starts with a capital H.


I’m already having anxiety about the holy hell that will be the homework my fifth-grade son is going to bring home. It’s a lot of fractions and geometry and figuring out how many more miles Sally needs to go on the train to catch up with Paul, who left three hours ago with a sandwich he divided into 6/8 or something. I just hope for Paul’s sake he has wine for Sally.

I’m not ready to handle. Not only will it be impossible fifth-grade homework on the kitchen table, it’ll be two times the second-grade homework, which has apparently gotten a lot harder than it was in 1983. They are doing some serious wizardry in 2017 classrooms because I have to consult Google for every question in that math workbook. I only hope kindergarten homework on top of it all won’t send me over the edge.

I’m not ready to handle the 6 a.m. alarm clock buzz to drag four kids out of bed in order to get them dressed, fed, brushed, packed up, and dropped off for that 7 a.m. school bell. And packing lunches — for four kids every day for nine months? I’m hyperventilating at the thought.


We all know back-to-school also means we undoubtedly turn into Taxi Mom. Get those minivans cleaned out ladies because we are going to be living out of them for the next nine months. School pickup and drop-off, academic team practice, piano practice, soccer practice (make that four different soccer team practices), gymnastics league — I’m 1 or 2 miles away from running the minivan into a ravine some nights.

Baring it at the splash park
But I think the worst part about back-to-school — at least for most of us middle-northern-part-of-the-country moms — has got to be when cold weather shows up at our door. The nippy September mornings, cold and rainy October days, the frosty November mornings when you can’t possibly find the energy to roll out of bed, and the frigid, snowy December days when the last thing you want to do is look for four winter coats, hats, boots and mismatched mittens. I’m exhausted thinking about it.

I guess these sweaty park days and popsicles on the swing set don’t sound too bad right now. Yes, summer is dwindling down. We’re in the homestretch. We’re exhausted, yes, but there’s a fresh new version of exhaustion coming soon.

Soak in those 90-degree days. Sidewalk chalk the hell out of that driveway. Let them stay up to catch fireflies. One more cannonball. We need to finish strong, moms. Keep at the list. Eye on the prize.


This blog post was published Aug. 15, 2017 at ScaryMommy.com, linked below:









Friday, August 11, 2017

Countdown til Back to School: 5 Survival Tips


If any of you moms are like me, the final weeks of summer leading up to that glorious return to school have got you feeling like you are running the longest, sweatiest marathon - a marathon in which there are no cups of water lovingly shoved in your face when you need refreshing. Some of us want to faint and give up - but we can't because we know the other runners will literally trample our bodies. That's what the last few days of summer can feel like for mothers of little ones.

The kids are bored. You know this, because they've only said it about eleventeenthousand times.

I know you are exhausted. Me too. So here's where we need to help each other. We need to ask fellow moms, sisters, our faraway Facebook family members whose kids are grown (the ones who tell us they'd "give anything to have their little ones back home)." Ok then, I'm asking you, tell me what to do with them. Because at this point, anything is better than the Nick Jr. marathons I find myself turning on during these waning summer days.

It's raining marshmallows: because let's face it - you're out of ideas
In the meantime, here are a couple of my own suggestions for anyone who might be struggling with ideas for the kids before we send them off to school for nine months. Here are my easy go-tos for keeping the kids occupied at least a fraction of the day when you just can't think of anything else.

Let's finish this marathon to back-to-school together, y'all. Pinterest, eat your heart out.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THESE FUNNY TIPS, PUBLISHED HERE, AT CINCINNATI MOMS BLOG:
http://cincinnati.citymomsblog.com/back-to-school-survival/

Saturday, July 29, 2017

I need to be in the picture

For years I hardly put myself in pictures with my kids. "I'm too fat," I said. "My butt takes up the entire frame." There's probably an entire decade of photos in which I'm only in a few.

I watched them play at the beach today - sandy butts and sun kissed hair - digging holes, finding shells, skimboarding - and I was reminded of how these days are going to be gone soon.
This time is going to disappear into a memory faster than our sandcastles melt into the sea at dusk. I want them to remember me. I want them to know mom loved getting buried in the sand. She loved getting knocked down in the waves. She loved hearing giggles about how they just peed in the ocean. She loved paying too much for ice cream waffle cones and letting them stay up a little late to watch terrible B-grade Netflix movies. 

Yes, my butt is still big and probably always will be, but I need to be in the frame. I need to be in these memories. I need them to know how much I love them here and now, in this picture, in this time. Hopefully no amount of time will ever wash that memory away.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

An Apology from Miss Judgypants


I owe a lot of people some serious apologies.
I'm getting to an age where I need to own up to some stuff and let it go. I am not saying anything here to absolve myself, I don't want a pat on the back for admitting anything here. I just know we all go through life meeting all sorts of people in different situations, from hella different backgrounds and we all have different baggage we carry around. There are surely going to be times when we don't identify with everyone we encounter... and sometimes we judge. Ok, many times I judge. I am a terrible Judgypants.

I am the last person who should be sizing anyone up, so here I am telling you all I'm sorry.
Where do I begin?

To the homeless man I encountered on the street while sightseeing in San Francisco last week - whose scruffy beard was unkempt and whose clothes were filthy - I'm so sorry I judged you, too. My first thought passing you on the street was the wonderment of how on Earth you let yourself get here, begging on this noisy street each day. I looked away when our eyes met, and I was saddened that you stand on this corner almost as invisible as the tattered trash can sitting behind you. It wasn't until my walking companion turned around and went back to give you money, that I stopped to see you a bit more. I saw there were drawings at your feet. People like me only see a dirty man begging for money, yet don't have time to see there is an artist inside you with just as much creativity as anyone inside the San Francisco Art Institute. The day I saw you there, the day that the famed Batman actor Adam West died, you had sketched out a quirky, colored pencil drawing of Batman against the Golden Gate Bridge, and with the most painfully beautiful, sad blue eyes, you asked me to take it for free. You smiled at me and I felt like I might hit the pavement begging you to forgive me for not seeing you as a person. Why couldn't I see this person who was once probably a very creative boy who got As in his art classes - that the dirty hands before me on this street probably once held his mother's grip crossing a street as a child. Blast you sweet-hearted homeless man for making my heart ache more than it ever did for any high school crush I had.

...I don't want to pass on the Judgypants baton to my kids, either. There is too much beauty in the world, too many good friends who could be lost to the girl who lives a life with her own internal gavel. Being a 41-year-old mother of four, I thought I had everything and everyone figured out. I think I'm smart enough to say I judged myself wrong, too.

Please read the rest of my post here at Cincinnati Mom's Blog:

http://cincinnati.citymomsblog.com/apology-miss-judgypants/

The street sketch of a true artist.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Uh oh. We got a DOG.


We got a puppy.
Coming soon... Juno
Ok, I know what you are thinking. It's probably has something to do with me not having time to care for anything right now because I've got four kids with endless commitments, practices and games, a husband battling cancer and days where I don't brush my teeth or shower til dinnertime. Yes, I know. My husband doesn't want a dog either and keeps telling me not to get it - but then again he probably never planned to meet and marry an obnoxious, compulsive, high maintenance Italian girl either, but look how that turned out for him. I swear he's close to divorcing me and kicking me out of the house over the decision I made about this dog, so I'm kind of holding my breath.
But hear me out. I swear I have good reason.
We lost our German shepherd Keeley almost a year ago. The days and weeks after that vet visit were heartbreaking. The kids were roaming the yard to find tufts of her dog fur - that they tucked away in their dresser drawers. One of the twins was so distraught she would lay on the dog bed, crying "WHY GOD?" (She is the most likely in the family to win an Oscar). They reminisced about playing with her and taking her for walks -- because even in her old age, she enjoyed walking up the street, sniffing (peed on) mailboxes and barking at neighbor dogs.
We actually missed finding her piles of crap in the yard.
The puppy who sold us.

This house was due for either a puppy or a baby, and since there was no chance in the bluest of hells for the latter - puppy it was.

I've decided happiness needs to make a comeback here. I'm aiming to get fun, laughter and smiles on leash and pull them all back into this house where they've been missing for too long. 

Please read this entire post at Cincinnati Moms Blog where it was published first.
  

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hey Cancer, You Suck.

I'm having a flashback. It's a good one. It was an energetic night. There was drinking and dancing and way too much fun for 30-somethings to be having. My husband and I met friends out for dinner, but one thing led to another and we ended up dancing well past the bedtime assumed for parents of four kids. There were probably a lot of inappropriate jokes told. There was definitely reminiscing about nights before kids. And then there was someone who laughed so hard she peed her pants but still didn't want to leave.
I'm remembering that side-splitting fun - when the smile on your face hurts so bad but you can't stop laughing. The laugh lines I acquired that night were so worth it. We were normal.

We didn't know your name back then.

I walked in this same bar the other day to pick up a sushi carryout; but I left instead with a memory of fun times so thick and heavy I could literally taste the sugar off the rim of those blue martinis I drank that night.

I look around at these people here now. Normal people. I remember that. I remember Saturday nights when we were people who went into a restaurant and ate good food, people who drank beers and Long Island ice teas. We were the kind of people that are here now, who talked and laughed all night.
Sitting there waiting for crab rangoon that I'd later eat alone, it hit me that we're not those people anymore and we never will be again. Almost two years ago, a big, royal jerk named Cancer sent us normal people packing.

Now we are sad people - angry people, depressed most days. We are people that do hospital stays, doctors appointments and chemo treatments. Feeding tube formulas and countless crushed up pills replace what once was a prime rib dinner with mashed potatoes and a Manhattan - his favorites. It's not hard to see, we are people that don't talk very much to each other, or we do so with tears in our eyes. We certainly don't laugh anymore. Fun is a concept buried far in the past.

My kids didn't know who you were. I hate you for making me have to explain it to them. I know they feel the weight of sadness in this house because of you - the fear and the doubt. Our kids, all under the delicate age of 10, feel the palpable sadness in this house each day. I am tired of telling them night after night that "daddy doesn't want to be sick," or "daddy wishes he could play with you." With terrible heartbreak, I listened to one of the twins tell the other she wishes she had her "old daddy" back.

I hate that I don't have the courage to tell them everything just yet. You'll probably force me to do that soon, though, I know.

Cancer, you took every last tear I had. I'm at a point where the sadness has turned to anger. I'm furious thinking of all the things you took from us. Laughter, happiness, time with our children - I can't tell you how many promises to our kids - Disneyworld, a camping trip out West, boat trips and future father/daughter dances to name a few - now all hang somewhere in a sad cloud of uncertainty.

While I'm at it, let's not forget to mention our intimacy. Oh, do I hate you for taking that one. (Mom, look away). I'm a mediocre mother, I can't cook to save my soul and I'm an OK cleaner, but the bedroom thing was one aspect of marriage I was damn good at. Sure, we spent many years at odds over stupid stuff (what newlywed wife DOESN'T nearly burn down the house with an accidental basement fire?) but we loved each other like crazy.

I saw two old people walking together the other day and I got so mad. There's yet another thing you are taking. The doctors have told us we probably won't have that. I won't get to grow old with that guy I met at the altar 15 years ago. We used to joke about how terribly we'd get along when we are old and wrinkly. I've told him how I'm really looking forward to having him grimace at me putting a bikini on 70-year-old saggy boobs. He joked about my being late everywhere. I laugh, "I'll probably be late to my own funeral."
He reassured me, "Don't worry, I'll get you there on time."

He used to have a sense of humor - a sarcastic, dry one - but funny as hell. But you took that, too.
I'm mad that the nurses and doctors who care for my husband only see a frail, sick man - who some days is so weak he can't get out of bed. They don't know the person we knew before Cancer came calling. They will never see the Chris Farley impressions, or the dance moves when the DJ plays Rob Base... the guy whose biggest quirk in life was pinching cold fingers.

I'm ticked at you Cancer, that you're killing a man who was once known to breaststroke the length of an Olympic-size pool in record time. His name still hangs on a plaque at the local swim club for a record no one has broken since 1988. I'm livid that you are crushing the spirit of a guy who could drive a tractor and bale hay like a farmer but on weekends could manuever a speedboat practically blindfolded around Lake Cumberland. You have crippled that beautiful, blonde boy I used to know who could slalom ski like an X-games athlete and still tackle a diamond level course in the mountains of Breckenridge.

I'm angry that people who see him now won't know him for who he really is - the strong man who years ago kicked kidney failure to the curb and lived a healthy, active life for 20-some years with a transplanted kidney. He is the champion who held my hand through 12 hours of natural labor, encouraging me without fail until I gave birth to his firstborn son. They won't know the tears he cries now were once tears of joy when he held newborn twin daughters in his arms nearly eight years ago.

Cancer, you really suck.

Yes, I miss when we were normal people. I know he misses it too. But in this time of despair, we have found there are countless people who hope for us - because our hope is almost gone. We have school families who pray for us because there are days we have nothing to say to God. We have fellow moms and neighbors who help take our kids to practice or bring us soup. Those are the people who keep us alive - not the drugs or the painkillers.

They are the ones who help us in the fight to carry on for our children - children who still do normal things like ride bikes and play soccer, who laugh at burps and whine about homework and my crockpot dinners. And even though you have taken so much from us, I'm letting you know, Cancer, that you can't have these memories that are left. You can't have those awesome cocktail-soaked flashbacks of us out with friends. You'll never take my recollection of the night he first kissed me. You can't erase those moments of hilarity he had with his college roommates, when I first discovered I loved him. You can't steal the vision of his old smile or the sound of laughter so deep it's just snorts. You can't take away the picture of him wrestling with our kids on the living room floor or teaching them to swim. I'm keeping all those.

The only thing left I can give you is probably just my middle finger. I think that's what any normal person would give you.

This post was originally published 6/4/17 at http://www.scarymommy.com/when-husband-has-cancer/


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Enjoy that bikini now, girl


I saw you on the beach last week. I know you saw me. A couple of times we uncomfortably locked eyes. Both of us found ourselves lucky enough to be enjoying spring break on a sandy, white Florida beach. Yet both of us were worlds apart... or so it may seem. 
I am here to tell you - actually to warn you - we really aren't that far off.



You see, I was you just 20 or so lightning-fast years ago. I too, had that skimpy white bikini and long, dark hair that stuck to my sun-kissed back after I emerged from the ocean. My thighs barely touched, and I had boobs - pre-breastfeeding, non-fake ones that only exist in some unicorn fantasy world. I laughed, goofed off with my girlfriends, played beach volleyball and flirted with boys. 

...I know you only see a cumbersome mom of four pushing this beach cart with a mountainload of sand toys, umbrellas, towels, pool noodles and a tired attitude, but I wasn't always 'her.' It's cliche to say, I know, but it really was just yesterday that I was you. Some mothers wear the "mom badge" with pride - the belly, the stretch marks, the C-section scar - she will say she's earned all that. I agree, we did, and I wouldn't trade my kids for anything. BUT, I can't say that I wouldn't trade just one day to go back and be in your sandals again... 

Please read the rest of this blog post at Cincinnati Moms Blog