Kentucky Mom to Twins and More

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Seven years of twins


Girls freak me out. They scare me. They make me nervous. I've never been really comfortable around girls even though I grew up with three sisters. Let's be honest - they are drama. They are whiny. They are sensitive (a quality I feel I was born without). That's why I was scared as hell seven years ago, when I was staring at the OR ceiling of the hospital, open legged and about to give birth to TWO girls.
I was the mother of a 2-year-old boy then and all I wanted was another boy. I wanted my son to have a playmate.
BFFs
God thought he needed more. That, or he thought I needed more stretch marks.

I remember my heart racing as I pushed Mia out first, at 1:03 p.m. She screamed hard and her scrinchy face reminded me of someone I knew. She was the spitting image of her brother. I was in love.
Quicker than 13 minutes should feel, I was pushing out a second little 5-lb baby, another amazing little face that made me wonder how I ever lived without her.
I could tell that day would change us, and it did. From that day on, we were hooked. Especially their daddy. Those girls could ask their daddy for anything and he would cave. I am anticipating matching ferraris for their 16th birthdays - I'm telling you he won't be able to say no.

Mia was grouchier those first few weeks and months and Tèa was a dream baby who never fussed. Mia cried like a teenager with heartbreak. Tèa laughed and giggled with bananas stuck to her face 90 percent of the day.
Mia learned to walk first, ripping ornaments off the Christmas tree at 10 months and running like hell. Tèa was happy to crawl after the dog and have staring contests with her brother. Mia spent the first year of her life trying to bite her sister's arm off. Tèa would poop at every inopportune time or place, usually when I was out somewhere without a diaper or wipes. We had to warn anyone attempting to give her a bath -- she'd drop one in there every time.
Love at first sight

With each birthday, I look at their baby books and wonder where the time is going. The hours lag, it seems but the years fly. They are two completely different personalities, not one thing is the same except for their brown eyes.
Every year they grow to like each other more and I hear them tell each other they are "BFFs."
People always say, "I bet having twins is so fun."
Yes, I suppose constant noise, a saggy belly and tired boobs could be fun...
It's more work, mess and exhaustion.
They say if you can get through the first year with twins you'll be ok. Well we made it to seven today. Those little faces I was so scared of seven years ago are the same beautiful faces that scare the hell out of me today.
They are drama, they are whiny and somedays they drive me and each other nuts -- but they are the best two girls that have ever walked into my life. Happy Birthday sweet girls!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A tragedy we should never forget

Every year for the past four years on Dec. 14, I have said a prayer for the parents of 20 children I don't know and have never met. I vowed for the rest of my life on Dec. 14, that I will always pray for them on that day.

Four years ago today mothers just like me - fathers just like my husband - sent their kids off to school without a second thought, maybe even without a kiss or a hug. Those parents never realized what terror awaited them that day and how their children would be taken from them in such a monstrous, horrific way. The parents of children shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary never saw it coming.

Sandy Hook victim, via People Magazine
Four years ago my oldest son was the same age as the children they lost that day. My twins are 6 now, the same age as those children lost that day. My husband and I sent our son off to kindergarten that day and went Christmas shopping for our kids. We had their little homemade Christmas wishlists to Santa in hand, imagining the happiness on their faces come Christmas morning, when they unwrapped new bikes, dolls and Spiderman toys. Those parents had that happiness ripped out from under them and their Christmas memories would forever be nightmares of this tragedy instead.

Seeing the news of that day and what evil existed in the world to enable a massacre of 20 innocent children and several teachers made me so sick to my stomach and caused a pain in my heart that was indescribable. The scary part was the realization that if it could happen at all, it could have happened here, to my children, in my corner of the world. I kept thinking how they had to explain, probably to other children or siblings, about what happened. I couldn't imagine the gut wrenching task of telling my children about the horrors that took place inside that school. I couldn't wrap my head around the pain of losing a child that young, and actually having to live with that pain every day after. Every year I wonder how they can carry on and get through another Dec. 14.

Tragedies come and go. Life goes on and people tend to forget. We sometimes forget about horrific events we read about in the paper or online. We live with our blinders on. We do the stuff that gets us through another day. Sometimes I forget or am too hurried to give my children hugs and kisses in the shuffle and chaos of our morning routine. I don't laugh when they laugh, because I'm too "busy" folding laundry. I don't giggle when they put bubbles on their face in the bathtub because I'm preoccupied with wiping bathwater from the floor. I get aggravated and annoyed at some of the things my kids do. I spank and yell at them too much.

But every Dec. 14, I think of those parents whose children aren't there for them to kiss and hug, to laugh with, and even to aggravate or annoy them. Every Dec. 14 I look at my son and realize those parents never got to see their child at this age. I feel so much sadness in that thought. I pray not just for peace and comfort for them and their families, but for all parents, that we don't lose sight of our own miracles - the simple gift of being able to have, to see, to hug and love our children every day.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

The quest to spread f*ing Christmas Cheer

I got a gold star today.
The thing is, I'm miserable about it because I absolutely didn't deserve it.

Today was not a banner day for this mom. I made the 'Mommy Dearest' lady look like Florence Henderson. I scolded. I swore. I spanked. I time-outed. I told my kids they were terrible and that they didn't appreciate anything and didn't deserve anything. Ouch, I know.

The kids had off school today, and we know that every normal mother just takes their kids ice skating or does a fun holiday craft, right? Well, I'm not a normal mother, sadly. Nope, I had promised myself I was going to take my kids out into the world to do good today. We were going to spread some Christmas Cheer to somebody whether or not it killed us. I was determined to make people happy today. Ha! I'm one of those great moms teaching my kids about what the holidays are all about!

Yeah, no, I'm not.

The tension began in the morning when my 4-year-old didn't want to wear a coat... and it's 25 degrees out. I spanked her for not getting her coat and shoes on and not getting in the car when she was told. Meantime, the other kids were whining about having to get in a cold car, mumbling about why they have to go anywhere and why they can't just stay in jammies and play iPads. The yelling continued down the driveway as I told them we were going to surprise some unsuspecting people today with Christmas Cheer, so put on a happy face! I didn't really have a plan, but I couldn't tell that to four cranky kids at 9 a.m. on their day off from school.

My good intentions led me to Dunkin Donuts, where of course, munchkins are born -- and what poor stranger could refuse delicious, free munchkins from a cheery mother and her ever-so-chipper children? Well, I guess ALL the strangers, because the f-ing registers were down, so I left Dunkin (for the first time in my life mind you) empty handed. But hey, no computer glitch can squash my Christmas spirit! I headed to Panera on my quest to do good, all the while yelling at the children to behave, don't move, stay here, don't touch, get out of people's way!
We left with as many hot coffees as I could hold and a dozen bagels... and a mocha latte for me that fell on my lap two seconds after I got the kids, bagels and myself into the car. Now I'm cursing at myself, and this pea coat I have to wash, and I don't know how to wash shit so that's going to suck. Do pea coats even go in the wash? I don't know, I'll worry later because I have Christmas Cheer to spread.

My plan was to drive to a place where they take donations for less fortunate because I see old men with all their belongings sitting on those street benches. Maybe they'd like to have a hot coffee? But I get lost navigating one-way streets and couldn't find it. I get frustrated when one of the twins says she thinks we're driving in circles. The other one asks if they can be done yet with Christmas Cheer. I find myself back on the interstate going the wrong way, yelling at the kids in the rear view mirror that they need to shut up while I'm driving or we're going to end up in Columbus if I can't turn around.

Ok, yep, now we're downtown. The kids are unbuckled and tattling about who is touching who and one of the twins is laying across the back trying to kick her brother in the face. I scream for them to shut up and just look for somebody with a cardboard sign. Please, for the love of God, homeless people, show yourselves! I try to tell the kids, 'look how cold it is outside!' and 'aren't you glad you have a house, and heat and clothes and food to eat?' I tell them how terrible it would be to not have a family or a job to keep you busy all day. Brayden tells me he likes the sound of that. At this point, at least four of the Christmas Cheer bagels have been eaten. I couldn't find a homeless person right now if my life depended on it -- and it does because if anyone has driven with a distracted me, they know that a seatbelt and a prayer are their only bets for living right now.

We spend what feels like a Minnesota winter driving around downtown. Payton has no coat, socks or shoes on and is crying I think because Brayden breathed on her. I see a homeless person, I think, because he's wearing a puffy, navy coat and has a backpack. Please, God don't just be a Proctor & Gamble associate out here on a coffee break. No, he's clearly peeing on a concrete barrier - yes! He's homeless! I circle the block (for the fifth time) so he can zip up. The kids want to know if they can get out too, and give our guy some Christmas Cheer. Hell no, I tell them, 'are you crazy, it's freezing and dangerous in the city!' I park near the corner, grab my bag of bagels and a coffee and lock the kids in the car. I approach him like I've just arrived with a Publishers Clearing House check and this shit's going to change his world. After I gave him a couple bagels and a coffee, he mumbled a thank you and went on his way.

This cheer crap is hard, I think. The kids feel the same. They have now officially lost it in the backseat and everyone wants out. As if the last 25 minutes in the Sienna has been like Shawshank Redemption for them. I can't get anyone to listen to me or stop whining or complaining and so I start telling them about how happy I would've been to go on a ride when I was little, how excited I was to NOT be in school, on this 'adventure!' They better be good, or I'm taking away Christmas presents, I yell at them. I've taken away their dessert tonight, too. I decide to leave the rest of the bagels and Christmas Cheer at a Covington park where three men are smoking. They may as well have been city workers on their break, but they were happy to get a few cold bagels and a tired smile.

After more yelling and breaking up sibling fights by noon, I have become a volcano on the verge of erupting. I am screaming about how they should be good and loving to each other and if it were up to me, they wouldn't get any presents for Christmas! And I was thinking of getting you all a puppy! Ha! Take that ungrateful children!

It wasn't until after the kids were in bed tonight that I emerged from the exercise bike in the basement (ok yet another fail, as I was just SITTING on the bike watching Tootsie on TMC --sue me!) that I found the note. It was a small, gold paper near my toothbrush, on which Mia had drawn a star, 'to Mom.'
The tears came at my realization of how badly I failed today. Lord, I failed my kids, I failed Christmas Cheer, I failed at everything this season is supposed to be about. That love, the giving, the patience and goodwill - all that starts with ME, in my heart, in my home. I spent the day trying to cram it down everyone's throat but didn't realize I was the one who needed it! Who the hell am I to try and spread that crap when I can't even hand it to my own children? I wished right then that she was awake so I could tell her, tell all of them, that mommy was so sorry. I'm sorry I failed you today - and that yes, I should have just taken you all ice skating.

But Mia got it. She was so right -- it's about the star. Our love, our purpose and redemption here is in the hope of a star, the shining star and light of Christmas! It can only be shared and spread when we realize it in us. Without a light within us, how can we have life? Thank you Mia, my sweet girl, for showing your momma at the end of a miserable day that it's all about that star. THE star. He will bring us goodness and light!




Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Anniversary reflections: It was never about the dress

Well, we've hit mile marker 14. It's been a hell of a trip, I'm not going to lie.
We said "I do" on a cold South Bend Saturday in October, 2002. We had known each other five years, which seemed like forever. But thinking back, we really, truly didn't KNOW each other quite yet. All the real knowing came in those years following.
All I knew that day was this: I was marrying a handsome, smart guy that I was head over heels for  and I had on a killer dress.
I had the 'something old, new, borrowed and blue...' but nobody hit me with the real TRUTHS of marriage.
Ok, 14 years is nothing spectacular but it's enough time to have realized someone should have told me it's not about the poofy dress, it's not about that botched bouquet that came from the florist that made me want to cry. It wasn't about the songs they played at the reception or the pictures that had to be taken at every angle, and it certainly wasn't about that obnoxious four-tier, Italian wedding cake we served that cost almost as much as a Catholic school tuition for a year.

It was never about the dress
Nope, I know now more than ever, that a marriage means infinitely more  that true tears and love would come well after that day.

Marriage means staying when it seems there is no hope for reconciliation – when leaving would be the 'easier' option. It means forgiveness in the face of dishonesty and heartbreak.
It means having the dignity to show respect when the other has disrespected you.
It means empathy where there were devastating losses and words of love where your partner is disheartened and doubtful of the future.
It means several different marriage counselors over the course of 14 years trying to get that communication thing right.
It means apologizing when you are wrong (luckily my husband knows I'm never wrong).
It means laughter when you are completely out of other emotions  like when you're a new mother so engorged with breastmilk and your baby won't latch and the pump won't work and you beg husband to intervene (don't ask).
It's believing in your partner when he/she doesn't.
The cake was good but didn't last
It means having love for your partner in the face of weight gain or weight loss (ok, we all know the latter wasn't on my end).
It's about mustering up enough energy to love and care for four children, getting through one more page of impossible homework, or wiping one more poopy butt and still having enough in you to get through bathtime and teethbrushing. It's about having patience with each other during middle-of-the-night feedings with cranky newborns or months-long 2 a.m. nightmares when someone has seen too many Scooby Doos.

It's about resisting the urge to pretend you don't know your partner when she cheers at the soccer games.

It's about coping with and encouraging an anxious child, who you believe is the epitome of brilliance, but he doubts his abilities.
It's about sharing complete devastation and being a comfort when that cancer phone call comes.
It means caretaking and kindness  characteristics that you may think you lack – when dealing with your partner's sickness and despair.
It's about holding it together when feeding tubes and medicines make you want to cry. It's about knowing that the same healthy, beautiful and funloving person you fell in love with all those years ago is still inside of the person who stands in front of you today. It's feeling a love much stronger now than the butterflies you felt on your first date and deeper than the passion you felt on your wedding night (or maybe not because you might have drank too much to realize it, but who's counting amaretto sours here anyway?)
It's the joy in knowing you can't love anybody or anything more  until you look into the eyes of a child you created together.
It's knowing that those vows you took are truly what you are living today  despite all the bumps and detours and minor crashes along the way  that you both are in this trip together, in sickness and in health, good times and bad, all the days of your life.
That is what I know about marriage, and it is the only thing that matters.




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Night Before Fourth Grade



You're going to fourth grade in the morning.

I'm trying to hold back some serious emotion because it's going too fast. I know things are going to change this year and I'm freaking out. I remember fourth grade and it's when I started going boy crazy and got caught kissing Matty C behind the dumpster at recess. It's when I got into mischief with teachers (is stealing donuts from the teachers' lounge really mischief though? Seriously, who can resist sprinkled donuts?). Fourth grade was the year I did something so stupid that the principal suspended me for a day (note to kids, don't write "hey dude" on the principal's car, especially if he's watching you from the window). Fourth grade is when I struggled in math class because I was too embarrassed to wear my nerdy glasses. It's when I learned about the birds and the bees, albeit a disgustingly crude description of sex from my fellow 10-year-old classmate, but it saved me from having to ask my mom about where babies came from.

So here we are. Tonight I gave you hugs before bed and you smiled. Your big, brown eyes so telling of your beautiful innocence. My heart aches thinking of the time someday soon when you'll be big and those smiles will be replaced by teenage angst or grumbles of, "mom, get out of my room."
There is still a stuffed penguin next to your pillow. Mac and cheese is your favorite meal. You just figured out how to do the Rubix cube and you think that it's the coolest thing in the world.
You still believe in Santa.

Just yesterday we took your training wheels off, it seems. You were pretty calm, even as I flailed behind you trying to keep up in case you fell off. I knew you could do it. But I definitely drowned in every possible emotion right there on the driveway that day - scared, proud, happy, fearful, nostalgia, love. Just yesterday you took naps after lunchtime, with your paci and stuffed piggie. You fell asleep some days in a cardboard box while watching your friends Elmo and Big Bird on TV. How can that same boy so quickly have become the big kid in front of me, who is probably going to be taller than me by the end of the year? Every day, every year, you make my heart grow.

Fourth grade big shot
You told me tonight you wanted to be an athlete when you grow up. I love that it's a possibility too, because you are good at all the sports you play. I knew it the minute you scored every goal in your first soccer game at age 4. I knew it when you could freakishly make baskets at age 3 in the driveway on the Fisher Price hoop. I know you see me cheer hard at your games (ok let's just admit, I'm downright inappropriate and loud) and it can be embarrassing for you, but I hope you know it's because I'm so incredibly proud to be your mom. I can't believe such a talented, smart, sweet and good looking kid is mine.

I hope you know you can ask me anything. I want you to be able to tell me anything or ask me anything. I will be honest with you, I promise. If you are curious, scared or just want answers about adjectives and adverbs, about rainbow flags, about why girls twirl their hair, about whether or not poop floats - literally anything in life. Ask me. I admit I don't know much about the penis thing, but I could probably figure it out - or at the very least I can check out every adolescent puberty book for you at the library. I know you are the only boy in the house with three sisters, but I don't want you to ever feel alone. Fourth grade is a big deal, buddy. But I know you can handle it.

So my dear firstborn, I pray tonight you stay sweet, that you keep being the same goofy boy that makes people laugh, but that you'll know when to use manners and behave. I pray that you keep working hard to be as smart and continue to challenge yourself and that you do your best in whatever sport you try. I want you to stand up for yourself and for your friends. Be a friend to someone who doesn't have any, especially to little girls in glasses who think they look nerdy. Be honest and brave. Be good and loving and accepting to people, more so than me or your daddy - we didn't have it nearly as complicated back in 1985.

I can't wait to see what you'll be someday. I can hardly wait, but then again, seeing your sweet face tonight makes me wish for it to take a lifetime.
Enjoy fourth grade son - steer clear of the donuts though, got it?

Friday, July 29, 2016

The hardest goodbye

Today has been a devastating day for our family.

We said goodbye to our dog Keeley after we found her in the garage this morning listless, panting and with a distended belly. A dog who normally would jump in the car at the words, "wanna go for a ride?" could barely walk. I lifted our beautiful 70-pound German shepherd into the car and piled the kids in, knowing all too well what might be happening. All of us have seen Marley and Me.

My son was very quiet. He is the most attached to Keeley because he knows this is a dog who has loved and guarded him since the day he was born. She has chased him around the yard, taken walks with him, tried to steal his basketball when he'd shoot hoops and greeted him off the bus the past several years (and I wish I could say fetched a ball with him but Keeley never was very good at playing fetch).

But she sure was good at loving us.
A boy and his dog, from the beginning.

She came into a rough world back in 2004, when we found her at the squalid-looking home of a "breeder" who advertised her for cheap because they "couldn't afford to feed the runt." This dog cringed at anyone touching or picking her up, so she may have been beaten there. We bought her on the spot, exactly 12 years ago this month - just for the sake of saving her from that filthy place.
When we took this sad, underweight puppy to the vet, he told us she had fleas, intestinal parasites and was probably a day or two away from dying.

It was her lucky day. Ours too.

We took her to our 50-acre farm, where she joined our first dog Kya, in living the good life - running in the fields, chasing mice, going on hikes and digging her muzzle in fresh snow each winter. She kept us company all those years before the mess of children came.


She was good at sitting with us. She sat at my feet the night my contractions started with my firstborn, probably knowing before I did what was up. She sat next to us when we watched stupid shows on tv (she'd bark at any animal on the screen), she'd follow us to the kitchen when we'd eat dinner, and if Matthew and I were in two separate rooms, that dog would sit in the threshold of both rooms in order to simultaneously watch us. Sometimes it was so annoying, and we'd get so frustrated that she wouldn't leave our side. She was just doing her job, now I see.

She was good at being funny -- specifically at howling. I think it's a German shepherd thing, but if you wanted Keeley to speak, she'd howl. If she heard a siren or a toy truck that made like noises, she'd howl. It was quite the party act for friends when they'd come over. It made us laugh. We got a kick out of the way she'd put her paw on you if you looked her in the eye. Almost as if she was trying to hold your hand. We joked that she always thought she was human.

She was good at chasing us. Man that dog could run. She thought it was all a big game of chase. Back in her younger days, she could tear around all the rooms in the house in seconds. She'd stop and hide under the dinner table with her butt raised and tail wagging - just asking for someone to come chase her. Her back legs almost looked like a bunny hopping, and she had the temperament of a bunny too - nowhere near as fierce as what she looked to many.

Always loving.
As gentle as she was, she sure was good at guarding us. We considered her the "alarm system" at our house. There was no way anyone was coming near without her letting us know. Whether it was the piano tuner (who learned years ago when he got bit), the UPS driver (who never got out of his car) or the garbage man (who fended her off with my trash can) -- no stranger came up in here without a warning from Keeley. But once she liked you, she liked you and you knew it, with licking and nudges to your hands and feet.

She was so good at making us feel loved. She was the one true pet my children have ever known and cared for. She taught them about responsibility and caretaking. She taught them silliness. She taught them loyalty.
But as my children hung onto her today, petting and hugging her for the last time, I realized that Keeley taught them love.
We held our old dog, cried into her fur and watched as she was sent off to a Heavenly place.
My daughter asked if she knew how much we loved her, and I told her yes, I think she knew it every day.


Saying goodbye to the best dog ever.




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

It's no vacation without daddy

I'm three days into a 10-day summer trip to Florida with my kids --without the help of my husband, who's back home working (but let's admit a house without four kids IS a vacation).

But without daddy, vacation is just a lot more work - we picked up our lives and moved them to a place with palm trees and added extra sibling drama (being in the sun all day causes bigger meltdowns) with a splash of sand in everyone's butt crack. Don't get me wrong, we're having some fun, but not without some scolding and tantrums --theirs and mine (who the hell sits on a beach right in front of a slew of kids and starts smoking a cigar? Not today buddy! Not in front of this mom!)

I don't know how single mothers do this crap alone on a daily basis, but I feel like a beaten, drown rat. I know I look like one. While I do have a sitter for a few days to help me on this trip, being a mom 24-7 without daddy to rescue me when I'm tired, exasperated or ready to cry really does suck.

Daddy is the good guy. He plays better. His temper isn't as short as mine. He can easily turn whining into laughing. He makes goofy faces behind my back to make them laugh and he shows the kids his sick (dorky) dance moves when they're in the tub. He fixes good sandwiches and pours us drinks right when we need them (around 10:30 a.m. beach time).

He also tends to remember minor things - like taking the suitcase out of the overhead bin before de-planing with four kids (note to mothers traveling alone with kids: the TSA agents in Fort Myers don't take too kindly to the hot mess mom who runs back from baggage claim flailing past that 'DO NOT TURN AROUND' tape as she proceeds to bang on the doors of the terminal yelling over the alarms about how her bag is still on the plane).
But the kids all got off the plane with iPads and backpacks, blankies and pink dolly, so that's a win for me.

He knows pointless things, like weather forecasts - which would have come in handy late afternoon before a brand new beach canopy was sucked up in a monsoon storm and spit out into the Gulf of Mexico before I ever got a chance to bring it in.

One of the twins reminded me how daddy made a little sandcastle with her last time he came to the beach with us, and it was apparently better than the drippy castle I made today because he found a feather for a flag on top. The kids miss playing in the water with him and how he takes them out looking for shells. Daddy doesn't slather on the sunscreen every hour like their mean mom (that's what one of the girls called me the other day) and Daddy probably wouldn't freak out when a little someone colored on the condo bedspread with orange crayon either!

He is the calm to my hyper. He is the breath of fresh air to my regimented fun. He is our laughter and silly on vacation. He completes the vacation. I suppose that's why it doesn't feel like a vacation without him. I suppose the best thing about being on this trip this week is realizing I'm thankful I have him at all, because honestly I'd either be in a looney bin or jail without him... probably missing those sandy butt cracks.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Can I just get a do-over?

The kids are all in bed. The day has been long - my husband left for a guys trip so it's single mother city over here.

Donuts never saw me coming.
My breathing feels heavy and my legs are almost numb. I'm realizing today's exhaustion is due to the fact that my body's intake today consisted of: a caramel hot chocolate, approximately three donuts during the breakfast / lunch hour, one slice of pizza at the preschool picnic this afternoon, my kid's leftover mac and cheese at dinner and a vanilla vodka martini with a splash of Baileys to celebrate another bedtime in the books. Ok, and a Toblerone chocolate bar.

But I go to bed knowing at least the kids are alive. I saw them eat a couple pieces of watermelon and at least three of them had bites of a carrot at dinner time, albeit covered in Hidden Valley Ranch. They thought I was mother of the year when I told them they could bring the classroom bunny home for the weekend (a bunny is a great distraction ploy for a mother who needs to get mounds of laundry and ironing done). I let them eat popcorn during the movie tonight even though they were not allowed on the couch with it.

I got them in bed with the minimum number of books before I crashed in my bed to a beckoning playlist of Modern Family episodes. No, I am not very proud of today. I definitely could have used a do-over at least by the time lunch rolled around. I pray I live to see the morning despite the fat grams I tore up today. I pray tomorrow will be better. It has to be - not just for my kids but at least for the sake of the Entenmanns ailse at the grocery store.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Kudos to all the moms just keeping them alive!

Happy Mother's Day to the hardworking moms out there. Or as I will refer to it here as Happy Keeping Them Alive and Fed For One More Day Day.

I was asked the other day about whether I felt like I was being a good mom. I appreciate my friend asking me this, because I realize I'm really not. I know it's all been done before and there are mothers doing this with far more children than me, but being mom to four is work. I feel like most days I'm trying to get through one more meal, one more piano practice, one more session of stupid third-grade math homework, one more bath/toothbrushing ritual. One more bedtime.

Another day with twin goofballs...
I see these seemingly wonderful, loving, crafty Pinterest mothers out there and I read blog posts that make me cry because they preach about these loving, gentle and humble days of being a mother... and it leaves me wondering what happened to me?
I feel guilty because honestly most days I'm counting down til 5 p.m. when it's ok to have a drink. I'm listening for the garage door to open at 6 p.m. when my husband comes home as my reinforcement for the night (at which time one of the kids may say, "ask dad because mommy's off duty.") I'm waiting for one of the other moms around here to declare a moms night out for (any milestone) which gives me an excuse to tell my husband I'm needed for $5 martini night at Bonefish.

Right now I'm finding my kudos in little things -- things most good mothers know automatically. Like we don't leave the house without wet wipes or Kleenex, because that would be stupid. We usually have a few crayons in our purse if we are out somewhere and our little people get restless. We carry snacks with us or in the car because you never know when you need to avert a noon-time hunger meltdown. We know that sometimes having a spare pair of kids socks in the glovebox is not bizarre, but an essential item that no doubt will be needed unexpectedly. We know that it doesn't hurt to bring our kids' teachers donuts on a random school day or bake them brownies (they don't call them brownie points for nothing, right?) We are able to make mental notes of things our kids freak out about - like how badly they want crap they see in a drugstore (Beanie boos) and we know to come back later to buy it as a birthday or Christmas gift to hide away.


One day last week when I was so exhausted and unmotivated to cook or do anything, I threw the kids in the car and took them out for chili hot dogs and frozen yogurt after. One of the twins grinned with ice cream covering her mouth and said, "this is the best night ever, mom!" Wow. My idea of a FAIL was a score for them. People tell me, enjoy the little moments. I know instead of trying to rush through my moments each day I should be smiling, laughing and cherishing them like those f-ing Pinterest moms. It's just hard when you're in it, when each moment demands all your energy. Especially when you're running on pbj crusts and a leftover Capri Sun.

I know we all have moments where the days run together and they are long and exhausting, but I'm realizing my reward is in the little things - someone telling me how polite my son is or how helpful the twins are to other children at school, or even how my little 3-year-old grabs my cheeks in church and says, "I just wuv you momma!"

So kudos to all you moms keeping those precious people alive for one more day! Now go fix a drink for yourself. It's 5 o'clock on Mother's Day.





Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The top 9 most annoying Facebook users

Let's talk about Facebook shall we? It's a love-hate relationship, we all know it.

There are a billion people all logging on here daily - we are liking, poking, sharing, posting, uploading fools.
This cat had me at Meow.
Most of us can't imagine a time when we didn't click on that big, blue 'F' to check in with friends or see family pictures or watch a stupid cat video (I hate cats but I laughed my ass off when someone's newsfeed showed this cat standing on its hind legs peeking out the window with the meme, "When a cop pulls up in your neighbor's drive.") LOL. Like.

We love us some Facebook. But with hundreds of friends in our newsfeed, can we just admit we all see repeated offenses that might be, sort of... kind of... just a bit... ANNOYING?
Let me just say I'm probably the worst offender of a lot of these stereotypes, I'll admit it. I might brag about my kid being smart and cute and post pictures of him that nobody on planet Earth except maybe my mom cares about - but I still do it! I might be brimming with that old Holy Spirit some Sunday morning and post a Bible verse that a majority of my friends' list finds trite or meaningless (I will pray for their evil souls... kidding!) but I still do it.

So I mean no harm, no offense in anything I say. I'm that brutally honest friend everyone wants to slap sometimes. I blurt out stuff, usually things people think but never let roll off their tongue. My mom calls it, "diarrhea of the mouth." I've lost friends over it, yes, but guess what? If you can't handle the truth... then go talk to Jack Nicholson or something, I don't know.

You'll note I have not listed the Facebook Political Poster. I think we all have politically charged posters on our newsfeed (I could probably wipe out half my friends' list if we were just talking politics) so let's tiptoe around that one and agree that Facebook should be fun. Let's not go shoving American flags up anyone's yahoo today.

Here are the top 9 most annoying Facebook users. Which one are you?

1. The Facebook Pet Person. We all love a good dog story or the cat-in-lap picture and who can't keep from crying after reading about the two-legged, blind, rescued Cocker Spaniel who found his forever home? Ok, but at some point I'm thinking several pictures a day of your pet, your dog licking your kids, your dog chasing a ball, your dog catching a newspaper in his teeth -- whatever -- I love that you love your pet, but it's just too much. Now excuse me while I go post a pic of my dog who just crapped on the kitchen floor.

2. The Facebook Gym Rat. We know those people who feel an unquenchable desire to let us know anytime they have checked into the gym, how many deadlift reps (or whatever the term is), how many squats, how many miles or how many calories they've burned in 4.5 minutes. We get it! We are fat and on the couch and you are simultaneously lifting heavy weights balancing on an exercise ball and posting your progress via your miletracker thingie. Hans and Franz would be very proud of you, but it only reminds me that I'm out of shape, so stop it.

Nailed it!
3. The Facebook/Pinterest Poster. Guilty! This person thinks an entire friendslist is dying to know the recipe for anything that contains Nutella, how to make rainbow-food-colored spaghetti (just tell your picky-eater kid to eat plain spaghetti like a normal human), or how to grow flowers out of glass mason jars that you can also string lights through and hang for your September barn dance. In this case, don't stop posting you crazy dreamer. I continue to enjoy the fails of my many attempts at the recipes and crafts you pin.

4. The Facebook Vacationer. You are kind of cheating at the Facebook posting game -- we don't see or hear from you for weeks, months even. We wonder, "did I get unfriended?" But alas, you pop up. You are on vacation. You have a Corona in your hand and your toes in the sand. You are on a tropical island and it's 10 degrees and snowy for everyone else (or at least anyone who lives in Michigan) and you're pretty much just bragging that you are tan and we are pasty white. I get it. I've done it. Next...

5. The Facebook Lurker. This person has a page. It may or may not contain a profile picture from 10 years ago. It might list a place of work, but likely no pictures and no recent posts. We know you only come on here to stalk people you went to high school with or see what kind of Nutella recipe I'm posting. I know this because these people always know your business, and how would they know about the cat video I just LOL'd unless they were lurking on my page? Quit it, you're creepy!

The classic naked kid Xmas pic.
6. The Facebook Baby/Kid Poster. Before all you momma bears go roaring and thrashing at me, I'll admit that I, too, am guilty of this one. We are the worst! Pictures and videos of our adorable babies sleeping, drooling, singing, dancing, smashing cupcakes -- our kids playing soccer, hanging from the monkey bars, petting zoo animals, cheesing in front of the Magic Kingdom (it's not a small world anymore people, everyone takes this picture!) Despite people warning us of the pedophiles waiting to pounce on our naked kid pics, we do that too. I suppose the people on our friendslists who don't have kids are probably the most annoyed with these posts, and I imagine them silently scrolling through, but inside they are probably screaming, "I don't care about your kid's haircut and I can't even tell a difference!" It's ok, no-kid Facebook scroller, I've said it for you.

7. The Facebook Selfie Queen. This needs no explanation, but I will elaborate. If your profile pic changes more than you change your underwear (which I hope is daily) then you are an offender. If your selfie is of you in a bathroom somewhere (unless you have a really great poop story to go with it) please don't post it. If your selfie is of you in the car seatbelted in with your Kim Kardashian pout telling everyone how great your hairdo looks, please just stop. If your nose (or the nostril/underside angle of your nose) makes up 50 percent of the selfie, please save us from seeing what only a practicing ENT should see. Enough!

8. The Constant Facebook Status Updater. Ok again, I'm guilty as anyone. But this has got to be the worst offender. The world does not need to know every second of your life how you are feeling, what you are doing, what movie you're watching, where you are going, what restaurant you have checked into, what you are eating and when you arrive home (usually drunk). I think your posts would be helpful to us if you were a serial killer and we needed to pinpoint your alibi, but until you go murdering a couple people, please stop telling us every minute detail of your life.

9. The Facebook Holy Roller. Ok I'm a believer in God, too --I'd be scared NOT to be, because come Judgement Day, I'm going to need WHOMEVER is in charge to have mercy on me for all the things I've said and done (mostly the things I've said and done in my pregnancy/childbearing years from age 30-39). The comforting Bible scriptures, warm and fuzzy inspirational quotes with waterfalls and sunsets or the prayer requests for everything from finding a lost paci to praying for a T-ball win - it's all a bit much. This type of Facebooker may as well claim to own a selfie with John the Baptist. How about just once a week on Sundays? When we're all feeling that old Holy Spirit. Meantime, please pray for my judgemental ass so I don't go straight to hell, ok?


Saturday, January 30, 2016

The night I almost ran off with Billy Joel

It's been 20 years since that night.
The story needs to be told. Some of you have heard it before, and others may have laughed it off as fiction, but I assure you it's all true and it's probably my best memory of ever meeting a celebrity, and probably won't ever be topped (ok, unless I happen to find myself in a meet-cute with Justin Bieber).

I've always been a Billy Joel fan, I remember being very young listening to dad's vinyl records of The Stranger and Songs in the Attic among others, as they played on the living room stereo.
I knew every song by heart. I took all of dad's records and kept them in my room, studying the album covers. The first CD I ever owned was his Greatest Hits. (Fun fact: the first ever commercial CD released in Japan was Billy Joel's 52nd Street in 1982--you're welcome!) Billy's music was what I heard all the time - summer grillouts to The Nylon Curtain in the early 80s; middle school heartbreak to the Storm Front album, carefree in high school to River of Dreams -- it really is the soundtrack to my life! To this day, when I hear "Summer, Highland Falls" I will cry. And I will rock out like a teenager every time to the piano solo in "Angry Young Man."
Billy was like family to me. He was the reason I started piano lessons when I was 12. And he was the reason I broke up with a dreamy boy in eighth grade because he said, 'Billy Joel sucks.' I've been to a dozen concerts from New York to Cincinnati. I've been a Billy Joel groupie since I can remember.
I am mesmorized by his piano playing and have always admired that he also plays guitar, harmonica and accordian. Except for an occasional cover, he has written every one of his musical recordings (except a Beethoven song set to "This Night"). He is truly one of the greatest, most talented songwriters of our time.

BJ autographing this very picture in '96. My friend chopped his head off taking the pic.
Fast forward to Jan. 30, 1996 -- 20 years ago today-- I was a sophomore at Saint Mary's College, and friends and I got tickets to see him at the University of Notre Dame's Stepan Center. He used to tour colleges giving advice to music/theatre students (or crazed fans like me). So armed with only a Sharpie and a digital 35mm camera, we charged in and found seats probably 15 rows from the stage. He would occasionally take questions from the crowd, and somehow the musical gods were smiling down because I got a hold of the mike. Sweaty palms and pits aside, I think I did ok, with the first thing out of my mouth being, "I have loved you since I was in diapers!"
I told him I'd always been fascinated by all the names of the women he used in his songs, and I wanted to know who they were (this was, remember, before Wikipedia or searching on the Internet). Then I asked him why he hadn't made a song about 'Andrea.' At some point I also asked Billy if I was too young for him (apparently I wasn't, because his current wife would have been 14 at the time).
So Billy Joel politely laughed and answered who the women were from his songs (Rosalind was his mother, Judy is his sister, Leyna was a high school crush)... and he stopped and went over to the piano and to the tune of "Honesty" he sang, "Andreaaaa, is such a lonely word..."
The crowd laughed and I was pretty much set in life after having heard Billy say my name. After the concert, a couple friends and I waited at the back door near a parked limo, just in case we'd catch a glimpse of him leaving. There were a few other stragglers around, waiting and hoping too.

After maybe a half an hour, that door opened up and I was standing face to face with William Martin Joel. My Billy Joel. Everyone rushed for autographs - this was the pre-selfie era so none of us had iPhones, kids! My friend grabbed my camera and managed to take the last remaining picture on the roll of film before it clicked and rewound itself (millennials, ask your parents what that means). Unfortunately she centered the viewfinder on my head and cut off half of his.

As he was autographing the picture (that I tore off from the Billy Joel calendar in my dorm room) I scrambled for something to say to him. Now, only because my friend had just been telling me about how Bonnie Raitt's hands were insured (Bonnie plays a mean Fender strat you see), the first and only thing that came to mind that I blurted out was, "So, are your hands insured?!"
I don't even remember his answer partly because his bodyguard was urging him into his limo (likely away from the bizarre girl about to bite his hands off?), but mostly because I couldn't believe Billy Joel was right in front of me.

So my friend and I manage to follow him up to the limo, where I'm completely starstruck and in awe of the man whose songs hold every piece of my heart. The door to the limo is wide open because the bodyguard guy hasn't closed it yet, and we are asking him where he's headed (150 miles west to Chicago) and we are trying to smile and keep up this banter and Billy Joel is sitting in there just staring at us and kind of gives us this look-- this "so, are you coming in?" look.
Now here's a very famous man who was recently divorced from Christie Brinkley and probably was having lots of fun on the road, especially visiting all these colleges (again, it was the pre-iPhone pics and video era) so some no-strings-attached company for his two-hour trip to Chicago would have been cool for him, I'm sure. In that moment, I thought maybe if I hop in, perhaps we'll just chat all the way to Chicago, part ways like old friends with a hug, and I'd be chauffeured back to South Bend to retire to my cozy dorm.

Nah. We all know what kind of shenanigans would have gone down in that limo and my naiive ass would have been sitting alone on some Chicago street corner with nothing but an autograph and a lot of shame.
So guess what I did that night? Yep, I smiled and waved goodbye to Billy Joel as the car door closed and he drove away.
I loved Billy Joel and I love him still, but I couldn't go there. For me, it will forever be, The Night I Could Have Had Billy Joel's Love Child. I guess to everyone else it's just a story about a really sad excuse for a Billy Joel groupie. However, he is coming to town in April... perhaps I'll have to wait outside the back entrance after the show. This time I'll bring a Sharpie and an iPhone.