daily dose of WTF

Spring is ALMOST here and all our new years resolutions of saving money, getting in shape, writing more in our blogs or having a more Positive Outlook on life have hopefully sustained the last parts of winter.  With any luck, we have stayed in the gym past March 1 when 90% of the work out Resolutioners fall off the treadmill.  Optimistically, we enter the grocery store on the produce side and not the liquor side to begin shopping for fresh brussel sprouts and not fermented grapes.  Enthusiastically, we sit down at the computer with coffee and write something funny so we feel like our brain was used productively and not just to determine who did what to whom, why, how and why (then repeat). Willingly, we are keeping a swear jar so we really do save money quarter by damn quarter that may amount to a substantial total by years end.

We need to face up to these challenges of life and not be taken back down to the dregs of parenting and the The Daily Dose of WTF of having kids.  The one-thing, the “something” that happens everyday that makes you say: ‘really– did you seriously think that was a good idea’ while staring wide eyed at your child.  The “where-did-you-get-that-sharpie? I-hid-all-the-sharpies-and-that-isn’t-coming-off-the-dog-for-a-long-time” moment of daily parenting.  And if you truly are keeping that swear jar you can substitute “fudge” for your F.

With our Positive Outlook, we are working-out 4 days a week which is a mere 208 days/year (which is reasonable) and our point of view on life is spectacular except for the 40 min we spend on the elliptical thinking time as essentially stopped. We will get excited about the Farmers Market in the spring and all the outdoor activities warmer weather will bring.  We look forward to the Coach Purse we will buy by July since the swear jar is already half full.  But we lament about the Daily Dose of WTF from Parenting that comes 365 days/ a year with no way to stop it.  Now, maybe its just me  because I have 4 opportunities everyday of a WTF situation (or 1,460/year) but somehow I don’t think the WTF number is related to the sum of kids you have, just the fact you have kids.  That makes the Positive Spring Outlook look daunting and the the Swear Jar may need upgraded to a coffee can (two Coach Purses?).

I am not talking about the small facts like my kid is wearing mismatched socks or decided that he needed a new look so he stole hair gel and made himself a redonkulous “faux-hawk” 5 min before the bus comes.  Those are humilations he has to deal with on his own with his peers.  I am talking big ticket Daily WTF’s that require the statements: Are we going to do this EVERY DAY? or When are you going to LEARN?  Or possibly: You have to be shitting me! (which will cost you a quarter).  You can keep the actual “WTF” statement for situations like when you kid comes downstairs with dirty bedding and asks you what to so with said bedding.  You then reply “put it on the back porch” (oh,BTW, I speak fluent sarcasm- holding that for another blog) and he starts walking to the back door……..(WTF?!)……… but I digress…………….

The Daily Dose of WTF for me usually starts with getting them ready for school.  Now this is a routine, nothing changes, nothing new.  Get up, eat, dress, brush your teeth and pack your bag.  Simple, right?  Wrong.  My DD of WTF begins with the fact its 5 degrees outside and someone has lost their winter coat which is now my problem.  Someone is screaming because someone else is threatening to drop their toothbrush in the toilet and the 4th someone doesn’t know which lunch to pack even though there are 4 IDENTICAL lunches sitting on the counter.  This is where the phrase ‘Are we going to do this EVERYDAY’ becomes handy and the Positive Outlook looks grim. That’s scenario accounts for 3 WTF’s before the bus even comes……….. in case you were counting.

The DD of WTF comes the way of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.  At first the same day over and over and over seems somewhat novel and soothingly predictable but soon you are talking to a groundhog and dressed in a sombrero.  You look to mommy-blogs to keep your sanity to know that you aren’t alone.  There are legions of moms out there dealing with the Daily Dose of WTF and spinning their wheels right along with you in trying to teach what is right, moral and not horrifically disgusting (the disgusting part comes from having boys).   We combat the DD of WTF with reward charts, marble jars (this one actually worked for awhile, google it) and just good old fashion threatening but soon we find the gold stars have fallen off the charts  and the marbles have been scattered under the couch. You are then left with threats that you may or may not act on.  I tend to be generally consistent in acting on my threats but sometimes I do slack.  The slacking isn’t due to laziness on my part but it kinda keeps them on their toes– what WILL she do next?  A little bit of crazy spur-of-the-moment parenting will keep them thinking.

Now we all love our kids with our whole body and soul, but its the ones closest to us that usually make us the most nuts.   Other moms will try to blow off your rants of “there were 7 uneaten sandwiches and something that once resembled a banana but is now brown slime in the bottom of his backpack but he came home STARVING from school everyday, WTF?” with “well, maybe he’s just not hungry AT school” and you look at them like they have sprouted antlers.  You know if the slimy banana was on their side of the backpack it would be a whole different discussion.    So, ladies, when your friend starts in with the DD of WTF just let them go.  Let them get it out and don’t offer advice.  I suggest you only add your DD of WTF and get some good laughs in before the kids come home from school and  you get the note that you kid was teaching kindergartners how to eat worms on the playground.  Between venting and the following bullet points, you can then get back to the Positive Outlook:

  • get on the elliptical for “eternity” to burn off some mental confusion of why worms taste good
  • dream of the warmer weather to come where you can toss them outside and listen to Adele (or in my case Green Day) with out their whining
  • take your jar of quarters to the bank to get rolled into $20 sleeves (because you will be paying for the Coach Purse in quarters)
  • and, finally, put on your Sombrero for another battle tomorrow with the DD of WTF.

Much love from Only the Dog Listens and her 98 cal pour of Chardonnay!

 

 

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the airing of grievances

As you may or may not recall from 1997, the “Airing of Grievances” occurs during the Festivus meal where each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year. After the meal, the “Feats of Strength” are performed, involving wrestling the head of the household to the floor, with the holiday ending only if the head of the household is actually pinned.

In our house (circa 2013) it would appear as if this Festivus Tradition occurs on a daily basis.  According to my n-FLS husband, it is my way to have an Airing of Grievances at dinner everynight following by the folly of the boys wrestling instead of putting on PJs.  Everyday I try to put on a happy face and welcome my loving partner home from a hard day at work but everyday the dinner conversation seems to spiral down to my daily Airing of Grievances.  I am trying hard to understand my logic because it seems as if the AoG slips from my lips like a natural progression to our conversation.  I think somedays I need the AoG to ensure the following:

1)  I am not crazy but I could be any day now.

2) Someone will actually listen to what I am saying and possibly retain said information for more than 30 seconds.

3)  To show the boys that parents do communicate and to reiterate the fact their behavior was not tolerated.

My n-FLS husband doesnt see it this way.  Apparently the AoG dissuades his illusion of his Ward to my June even though I have never worn a belted dress or heels to serve dinner.  He has had a long day at work and doesn’t want the catterwalling of my AoG day in and day out.  But for me the volcanic eruption of AoG is a release of much tension that has been building in the 4 hours of after school snack, doing homework and attempting to entertain without the use of the electronic babysitter.   Its 4 hours of containing the after school explosion of energy that happens everyday from 2:15-6:15 in which time I have had to spend some time making our nightly Festivus dinner in which I have the opportunity to Air my Grievances.

As annoying as the AoG is for my n-FLS husband it a chance for me to be heard.  For someone to truly listen to the spew coming out of my mouth.  Where I don’t have to repeat myself or ask for confirmation (Do….. you…. hear…. the…  WORDS …. coming…… out….. of my……. mouth?  Do…. you …… understand …… the ……. words?).  Its a time where someone might actually care what I have to say because no one really gave two hoots when I repeatedly explained what ‘the radius of a circle’ is and why its important to know in life.  Not to mention the phrase “get your fingers out of  your mouth” falls on deaf ears everytime it is spoken. When the AoG happens my n-FLS husband responds to what I am saying.  He will give the evil eye to the finger sucking offender.  That evil eye supports me and boosts my feeling of importance.  

Because my feeling of importance deflates when I drop the kids at school, walk the dogs then come home to see assignment notebooks, lunches and library books left on the counter.  So, as moms do, I pack up the neglected items and cart them off to school to be distributed to the appropiate classes.  Then when school lets out I say “did anyone forget anything today” and I get no, nope, nada and no.  Apparently the items magically showed up at school after they were forgotten in the morning commute.   Magically.   Magically mom looking out for your well being even though I wrote “this assignment notebook was left at home” on the page I signed the previous night.  This is why the AoG is so important at dinner.  It allows me (and any other mom who finds herself in an AoG situation) to say what I want and not just smile and giggle with the office staff on how 3/4 of my kids left something behind.  

The AoG happens because conversations like this take place on the walk home from school:

Mooooooooom, George says he is going to Nick’s house tomorrow.  Why does George ALWAYS get to have the most fun?

Uh, George– when did I say you were going to Nick’s house?  Did you get invited to Nick’s house?

Insert blank stare here.

We’ve talked about this, George.  You don’t invite yourself to other people’s houses, you have to wait to be invited.

Moooooooooom, you said I could go to Nick’s.

Uh, no I didn’t.  I said I talked to Nick’s mom and Nick is coming to our house tomorrow.  Remember, we talked about the playdate and how he was coming over to our house.

Mooooooooom, you said……… 

STOP! I know what I said and if you are disappointed in having a friend over I can cancel the playdate right now.  I can text Nick’s mom if you don’t understand …… the …… words…… coming…… out ……. of……my…….mouth.

Conversations like that:  wash, rinse, repeat.  Its why the AoG slips from my lips like goose poop on a linoleum floor.

The AoG is resolution for me.  Its my finale so I can toss the baton of responbility over to the n-FLS husband and take a breath.  A breath that is needed due to the lack of oxygen in my brain because I have attemped to contain after school energy while explaining the meaning of life (or at least the concept of the radius of a circle) onto 4 sets of deaf ears.  Not to mention resloving the lies and “miscommunication” that occurs due to the fact Mom doesn’t-know-squat.  Mom may not-know-squat because the Festivus dinner conversation goes like this:

Mom, I had to be at school 10 min early today to read the lunch menu on the “morning news” and I was late so I couldn’t practice. 

Uh, why are you telling me this at dinner?  Wouldn’t this information been more pertinent at breakfast? 

Mom, what’s permament mean?

But I do know something, I know who did what-when-how (but hardly ever why) and I am more than willing to share that information.  I am a maternal tattletail and I want to let someone — anyone — know that I was on the ball today despite the minions who tried to derail me.  I want to Air my Grievances to support a united Parental Front against the front line assult of the assignment-notebook-forgetting troops.    I want to wipe my daily slate clean of all the witnessed chaos before I let my n-FLS husband take control and I can decompress.  So maybe Festivus had the right idea.  Do a little Airing of Grievances and move on to a little more happiness for all– a daily dose of sanity after the reality of another afternoon motherhood.  Then the post shower PJ wrestling is Dad’s responsbility and hopefully he won’t get pinned to the floor.  Festivus of the Rest of Us. 

 

 

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4 kids, 2 dogs, 1 hamster and a fish.

In the world of Mommydom each of us has different experiences and different takes on parenting.  Some moms are drill sergeants while others patiently smile thru any temper tantrum like they are at the spa.  But the common thread we all have is this:  at the end of a busy “Mom-day” we are happy we put the same number to kids/animals to bed at night that we woke up with in the morning.  As the mom of 4 boys, 2 dogs, 1 hamster and a fish I am accountable for 8 lives on a daily basis be it aquatic, human, canine or rodent.  That makes for a busy busy busy day.

As the mom of 4 boys I count to that number multiple times a day.  Head count, 1-2-3-4.  Head count again, 1-2-3-4.  Oh, ok.  All present and accounted for.  Head count, 1-2-3…….. Where is #4? In the bathroom, ok.  How long has he been in there?  Alright, stop banging on the door he will come out when he comes out.  Head count, 1-2-3 + make sure the fan is on.

As the mom of 4 boys, 2 dogs, 1 hamster and a fish there is much to check and double check.  But there is a lot that goes unchecked and that’s not such a bad thing.  I am not the micromanager of backpacks.  I may look in a backpack every week or two if I am missing major amounts of snack sized tupperware containers but that really isn’t my job.  If you want to carry a backpack that attracts fruit flies because of the smashed banana at the bottom (yes, mom I LOVE bananas as a healthy snack at school– yah, right) then you will be the kid at school with the buggy backpack.  I have bigger things to do like make sure the toilet isn’t overflowing from the amount of time kid #4 spent in the bathroom or ensure that the 3 reserve gallons of milk are lined up in order of expiration date so that when I send a kid to the garage for milk he doesn’t come back with a gallon of cottage cheese.  Head count, 1-2-3-4 + a few fruit flies (and yes, that did happen– he had to clean the mess out himself).

Being the mom of 4 boys, 2 dogs, 1 hamster and a fish we routinely use the Natural Consequences form of punishment.  The idea of Natural Consequences in my house isn’t a parental concept derived from laziness, but from necessity.  There is no way I could possibly check and double check everything on everyday.  If you are silly enough to not wear underwear to school and don’t know how to properly tie up your sweatpants on P.E. day, well let that be a lesson learned.  I have said “always wear clean underwear” 1000x and if you choose to ignore those words of wisdom then you take the natural consequence of being called Full Moon Weitgenant until you graduate from high school.  I don’t need to be called by the principal about the incident because its not my butt that was shown.  I am a responsible parent teaching my kids responsible lessons and in no way, shape or form would I condone going commando in elementary school.  But if children who understand the words coming out of my mouth do not abide by said words…….. well let the embarrassing lesson teach itself. Head count, 1-2-3-4 + a full moon rising.

As the mom of 4 boys, 2 dogs, 1 hamster and a fish there is a lot going on at my house daily. There is alot to see, do, clean and keep track of- like the hamsters exercise day.  Everyone loves to see the cute hamster running thru the house in his little hamster ball.  As the mom its not my job to put him out for his exercise but it is my job to double check that hamster ball lid is on TIGHT because the dogs view hamster exercise day as a day for soccer practice.  Not that the hamster can’t handle a little friendly competition between the dogs on the hard wood floors, but we don’t need a missing hamster or a dog who is looking for a h’ourdouvre after a rousing game of soccer.  Head count, 1-2-3-4 + one hamster safely back in his cage.

As the mom of 4 boys, 2 dogs, 1 hamster and a fish I take the time to ensure everyone is happy and basic needs are met.  This includes the needs of the dogs.  Of course, I make sure they have food and water but I also have to make sure the backyard is clean and that they get the proper amount of exercise.  Granted, hamster soccer is fun but that isn’t quite enough for the active 2 dogs in our house.  They need walked and walked a lot.  Walking ensures there isn’t pacing and jumping on/off, on/off, on/off the bed all night.  Walking ensures a well deserved nights sleep for each and every member of the household, except the hamster who is basically nocturnal.   When I can, I meet my need for exercise with the dogs need to be walked and take them for multi-mile jaunts in the park.  My husband has never agreed with my power walking the dogs:  I say it wears them out, he claims I am just making them stronger and building their endurance so that they become some super canine walking nightmares.   But they LOVE the power walk, they have even taught themselves to pee within the slack time of the leash so we don’t break our stride.  That’s not the work of canine nightmare walking dogs, that is brilliance of a dog well walked.  Head count, 1-2-3-4 +  two tired canines.

As the mom of 4 boys, 2 dogs, 1 hamster and a fish the only one who doesn’t put demands on me is the fish.  Yes, his tank needs cleaned every few weeks and he needs a piece or two of food everyday but he’s the most self reliant being in the house.  He can even go a day with out being fed if the words “would someone feed the fish” fall on deaf ears.  Try that with a kid or a dog and see how it goes.  The fish is quiet and happy to spend time gently swimming up and down, back and forth with out any mention that he’s swum the same pattern in the tank all day everyday for the past 2 years.   He should be the motivational speaker of the house:  “hey you know that lady who sprinkles food in my bowl. Let her do her thing, she has a lot going on with you other 7 and you should just be happy swimming in circles until she remembers you are here.  Don’t complain about the flavors of juice boxes in the fridge, I have been eating the same stale fish nuggets for the past 2 years and I am thankful for them.  By the way, have you met my sister, Flo?” Head count, 1-2-3-4 + a crazy ass fish.

In conclusion counting to 4 all day long can be exhausting.  No to mention the power dog walks, hamster soccer games and conversations with a crazy fish.  So at the end of a day when I say goodnight to the fish, when I am listening to the nocturnal hamster do his nocturnal thing, and when I do that final walk thru to count 4 boys sleeping in 4 beds along with the 2 over walked dogs I think “I did it, I survived another day with the same amount of living creatures I started with”.  Then I look at the giant pile of unfolded laundry and think to myself “i wish that motivational speaking fish had hands”.  Head count, 1-2-3-4 + 2 dogs, 1 hamster a fish and a tired mom.

 

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making a statement

With all the chaos and destruction I have seen lately I am both confused and disgusted with people.  And its not just this year.  It seems that chaos and destruction are commonplace in the month of April:  Waco, Columbine, Hitler’s birthday –and now the Boston Marathon.  I don’t know what it is about the coming of Spring and “new beginnings” for whacko people in this world.  I can’t even fathom what “statement” the Boston bomber(s) was trying to make.  Even in my most remote imagination I can’t find the justice of revenge of killing or wounding innocent people.  And that’s exactly what those people were:  innocent.  Its nauseating to think that someone somewhere is smiling at the devastation they brought upon people that were merely enjoying a nice spring day.

Maybe it was a Patriots Day symbolic bombing that is a “down with the USA” statement but after Sept 11, 2001 people should know the Patriotic nature of Americans cannot be daunted or shut down.  And seriously, attack Boston? How much more Patriotic can you get than Boston?  Attacking that city is just going to bring for more Unification of Americans than anything– heck it almost ended the bitter rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees via Neil Diamond and if that ain’t unification I don’t know what is.  Plus, when Americans get unified and really pissed off — well, ask Afghanistan or Japan what happens.  It ain’t pretty.

I still can’t understand the “statement” being made by a cowardly individual or group in the Boston bombing.  That’s exactly what that act was– cowardly, stupid, senseless and juvenile.   If you feel so strongly about something then take action to fix it, not tear it down or piss it off.  History has shown us time and time again that when violence begets violence nothing is solved or resolved.  One violent act “deserves” retaliation that is bigger badder and better than the violent act of the primary offender.  This is a viscous cycle that doesn’t end because a small, cowardly person or group stays pissed off fighting a war they will never win.  Just ask the Irish Catholics and Protestants — they believe in the SAME PEACEFUL GOD and they still can’t stop the vengeance.

Violence never made sense to me.  Maybe because as a mom and a nurse I make a statement everyday.  I make a powerful statement that may go unnoticed but is never the less is the most important statement of my life.  I care. I care for my family, my friends and my community.

I care enough to give myself to raise another human being to be a good person.  I care enough to protect that person(s) from cold, hunger, illiteracy, bullying, and senseless violence.  I care enough to build the world from the ground up by raising a child as a self respecting, God loving, caring individual who will hopefully repeat the cycle I have taught.  The act of caring. 

I care enough to provide for and nurture my kids so hopefully they won’t feel the need to make a “statement” that would cause harm to the innocent and I do it day in, day out, 24/7, 365. Because no “statement” is worth the lives of people who are at work, at play or happen to be on the wrong street at the wrong time.  Nobody is proving anything with these “statements”.  You hate America — ok.  That’s fine.  Don’t live here, don’t accept our beliefs of personal freedom and individuality and don’t watch American Idol.  Do your thing to make you happy.  Wander the desert, climb a mountain, build a business or better yourself with prayer of the God you chose to be yours.  Don’t take your personal hatred  and cast it out to the world.  That’s senseless and it proves nothing.  The World Trade Center is rebuilt with technology to make it stronger than ever and the Boston Marathon will run again next year.  So whatever “statement” that was being made has fallen on deaf ears but the innocent had to pay.  The “statement” was senseless, stupid and downright cowardly.

The statement of caring cures more than the statement of violence ever will.  Caring will prevail.  Because in the wake of every one of these “statements” heroes emerge.  People find things in themselves they might not have known were there.  They may find themselves running TO the chaos rather than away because that is where they felt the pull and the need to go. They may save a life and that life may go on to do things far greater than any violent “statement” will ever make.  For every stupid senseless violent “statement” its the heroes that win — they are the limelight of the chaos and destruction.  The “statement” will never ever ever stop the heroes from emerging and showing way more caring than evil.  Even the survivors turn into heroes.  They turn into activists and build caring philanthropic organizations that, in turn, show caring to others who need a helping hand at a critical time.  And the dead, they turn into martyrs for anti-violence campaigns.

My statement of caring thru being a nurse and a mother may go unnoticed by most on a day to day, year to year basis.  Its a grueling task but one I am willing to burden.  Why?  Because I care.  I care more for the future of my kids than I do for a cause.  I have special needs kids who’s cause I could pour myself into for the better of the cause.  That could be my statement but I prefer to pour myself into the cause of my kids to make sure they are the ones who grow up safe, secure and free from any future senseless violent “statements”.  I do my caring personally and professionally day to day in my little corner of the world for the people who’s lives I touch so I can show the world that caring begets caring.  It may not be much, and it may not be World News but I prefer to pay-it-forward for the next generation so their lives have more of a chance of being “statement” free and peaceful.  Now that’s a statement worth making.

 

 

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Sesame Noodles with Spinach and Salmon

OK, now when I make this recipe I practically triple it but its the boys “second favorite” noodle dish and when we make it there are NEVER any leftovers.

SESAME NOODLES WITH SPINACH AND SALMON

2 tbls vegetable oil

8 oz salmon filet

black pepper/ salt

1 tbls minced garlic

4 tbls sesame seeds

1.5 lbs spinach roughly chopped

1 tbls soy sauce

1 tsp ginger (fresh or dried, depending on personal taste)

1 tsp sugar (I used brown vs white, you can use either)

1/2 tsp sesame oil

8 oz spaghetti noodles

 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt to it.  Add the noodles and cook until done. Drain and reserve noodles.

Put the vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat and cook the salmon on both sides (seasoning with salt and pepper) until nicely browned on both sides – about 6 min/side or until it flakes into bite sized pieced.   Removed salmon from skillet and place aside.

In a seperate bowl combine soy sauce, sugar, ginger and sesame oil.  Wisk well.

Reduce heat under skillet to medium.  Add the sesame seeds and garlic.  Cook stirring constantly until the sesame seeds turn golden, approx 1-2 min.  Add the soy sauce mixture and reduce the heat to low.

Add the drained/cooked noodles and spinach to the skillet, mix well.  Cover and allow the spinach to wilt, approx 5 min.  Flake cooked salmon with fork and sprinkle over the top of the sesame noodles.  Serve warm.

 

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Auto pilot

In the life of the typical mom we have a defense mechanism I like to call AutoPilot.  Mommy Autopilot takes over on mundane tasks, routine behavior infarctions and allows us to keep our sanity.  Let me explain:

Mommy Auto Pilot is helpful because kids are relatively predictable at each of the major events of the day.  You can bet they will slack getting ready for school, they are crabby after school, rude at dinner and won’t want to shower and/or go to bed.  Its these times that mom’s go on Auto Pilot and say the following canned responses.

What do you mean you can’t find your jacket, it should be hanging where it BELONGS?!

Why can’t you tie your shoes?  You are ____ years old (insert age here).

Do you have your homework? We have to do our homework before we play video games.

Can you wait 15 min for me to make a snack?  You will NOT die of starvation in those 15 min.

Sit on your butt like a normal person to eat your food please.  We don’t need to sit on our feet, squat or jump on/off our dinner chair.

They are vegetables, not poison.  Just eat them and grow up strong.

Get in the shower so you aren’t the “smelly kid” in class.

Its bedtime.  Its bedtime.  Its bedtime.  Get back in your bed.  Its bedtime.

And my favorite one that can be used anytime/anyplace:  We do this SAME thing EVERYDAY!!  Is it really shocking and appalling that we have to …….. brush our teeth, put on our coats, get to school on time, do our homework, feed the dog, wash our hands before dinner, so on and so forth.

I do mix up the autopilot parenting sometimes by making up consequences for the repetitive infractions on Daily Manners.  I do this on the spot and most of the time the consequence is an epiphany that spews from my mouth like molten parenting lava.  Like when we had a rash of gaseous emissions nightly at the dinner table.  I understand in some cultures this is a compliment to the meal, but with 4 boys the gas became noxious and oppressing so one night I blurted out “the next one to emit gas from any orifice will be the one cleaning the kitchen after dinner”.  The table suddenly became eerily quiet and there wasn’t a burp to be heard for days.  Then when one would sneak out I would be like “aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh, nice one.  the dishwasher is full and if you need help arranging the plates in the dishwasher I will supervise but not touch any dirty flatware or dishes”.

I don’t really prefer to be on Auto Pilot for parenting but if I began to care about the daily tasks and issues I might lose some (more) sanity.  I have done about 1,000,000 fixes to get the kids more organized and on track, but I am usually met with opposition and disgust. Lockers were placed in the laundry room so they had a place for back packs and shoes and I wouldn’t have to autopilot harp on where things should be kept.  However the shoes still end up piled by the back door.  There are enough coat hooks in/around the house for an entire football team to adequately hang up their gear.  But yet the coats are on the floor underneath where the coat hooks are placed.  Socks are separated from underwear and each is put away in the SAME drawer every time laundry is done but no one can ever find socks and underwear.  Long sleeve shirts in one closet, short sleeve in the other and I constantly find them in front of the short sleeve closet saying “Mooooooooom where is my long sleeved Darth Vader shirt”?   I could sigh and yell but instead I simply say “wrong closet” on autopilot and they seem to get the point.  Mommy autopilot allows for these (and more) daily infarctions to roll off our mommy backs like water off a duck.

Autopilot is a mom’s sanity check.  We kinda zone out for awhile but we are still productive.  Clothes are still getting folded, dishwasher is still getting emptied and groceries are still being bought but its done practically subconsciously on autopilot.  So when we kick back into reality after a blood curdling scream from the basement (he cheated at air hockey) the chores can seem to magically be done.

One of the best auto-pilot times is at the grocery store (sans kids, of course).  Moms have the layout of the grocery store is rooted into our minds like Indiana Jones memory of the map to the Holy Grail (Harrison Ford and Sean Connery in the same action film– yum).  Sorry- I digress; moms on autopilot in the grocery store are prevalent during the hours of 8a-2p, M-F– prime school hours.  We can been seen skillfully maneuvering the isles and packing our cart like a complex game of Tetris. We move left to right, front to back because we can keep the bread & bananas in the child seat while stacking the cereal on the back of the cart to make a good, solid foundation for things to be stacked in front of that.  Keeping in mind raw meat and the 3 gallons of milk need to be on the bottom of the cart as to not squish or contaminate the other groceries.  The beauty of moving in the grocery front to back, left to right is that you end up in the wine isle last.  So you can buy that decompression stress release bottle at the end of the auto pilot journey you just undertook. At the end of the trip you get to put that Pinor Noir on the top of your cart like a cherry on a milkshake knowing as soon as those kids are in bed you will be able to savor a nice, quite glass of red.

The only glitch in going on autopilot to the grocery is when an odd item pops up on the list. Something you don’t buy day in, day out.   It temporarily wakes you up and makes you think:  is the corn syrup I need for that dessert in the baking isle or with the other pancake syrup?  Where are those big boxes of matches and are straws in the soda isle or with the plastic forks?  Its those days that autopilot gets put on hold for a few minutes until you find said item and imprint it into your Holy Grail road map of the Jewel.  FYI:  corn syrup is with pancake syrup, matches are next to the paper plates (really? safety first) and straws are found both next to the soda on those little hangy things mid isle AND with the plastic forks.

I guess that’s what mom’s are for.  To know where each and every important item is in the house, grocery or car (the seat belt cutter/window smasher in under the passenger seat while extra socks for the spur of the moment bounce house trip are in the glove box) and we can do it on auto pilot.  We have developed a road map to the mundane for each and every thing in a 5 mile radius to our house (plus everything IN our house) and its embedded into our sub-cortex.  We can find lost homework, matching socks and favorite yogurts stashed in the back of the fridge.  We know bread and cereal are in isle 2 with the generic brands mid isle, chest height and we can do it with one eye open/coffee in hand.   We don’t even have to think about it.  We just know: thanks to mommy autopilot!  Carry on moms, carry on. 

 

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Surviving Winter

While Winter poses some very real fun such as skiing, sledding, snow man making and lotsa hot chocolate it can also be a time of much frustration and woe.  Long gone are the days of “go outside and play” while locking the door behind them and telling them to pee on the tree.  Because in the winter there is real threat to life and limb with that ever dropping wind chill/temperatures.  And forget peeing on the trees, they can barely get themselves INTO snow clothes to begin with so asking them to de-mitten and figure out the snow pants while having to pee is an insurmountable task.  The only option is Depends which has actually crossed my mind but then I remembered how hard we worked at potty training — why undo all that praise, love and reward for going-on-the-potty? Just because you don’t want snowy boots tromping thru the living room on the way to “I have to go NOW”.  Well, its still a thought.

Winter is a time for family board games (Candyland, anyone?), card games (teaching the kids Cribbage) along with some good old Pass the Pigs.  But that only lasts so long before they are boooooooorrrrred and need something more fun to do.  I do unfortunately use the electronic babysitter more than I would like in the Winter but sometimes SpongeBob can offer 30 min of sanity.   Winter is also a time of Resolutions – a time to lose weight, save more money and by-all-means Get Organized! We have the time to tackle all those organization projects that never seem to get done in the summer because in the winter its too damn cold out to spend much time “having snowy fun”.  Long gone are hours at the pool or park.  Enter the fact that sometimes it takes more time to find the mittens and lace the winter boots then the amount of time actually spent outside playing.

Winter Organization includes: Filing bills, framing school pictures, seeing what has collected behind the dryer and paroosing cookbooks to make weekly healthy menus so that weight loss goal might also be in sight.   But if you have kids of any age you know that they have an inherent way of thwarting organization in any way shape or form.  They don’t even realize they are being counter productive to your attempt to let your OCD run wild by making binders to track the heating bills, putting the DVD’s in alphabetical order or organizing spices by World Region.  But they are.

Even separating markers from crayons is impossible (and tossing all the markers sans caps that are dry and useless).  Because the second they see you with your fresh fun plastic tubs and label maker (CRAYONS / MARKERS) they want to color.  They need to color.  There is nothing more fun in their little lives than coloring.  So you sit with them, still attempt the separation of felt vs wax and explain:  “lets keep the markers in a different tub from the crayons so we know where everything is and we can keep it nice”.  Then you walk out of the room to get more coffee or pee.  When you return not only are the crayons/markers stuffed into a big Ziplock bag (we couldn’t FIND the plastic tubs and we were BORED with coloring) but the floor is a kaleidoscope of art products. 

So you take a big, hot swig of coffee as to occupy your mouth from saying/screaming profanity while taking time to feel the slight burn of the caffeinated goodness that dissipates your increasing need to bang your head on the nearest wall.  This is when “go outside” is the go-to catch phrase but first you have to check the temps and the wind chill to see if its suitable.  Chances are you are out of luck because the home weather station has a cloud frowny face saying “dangerous frostbite warning cold – you would like to see them graduate from high school with 10 fingers and 10 toes”.   Dammit.  So you dump the Ziplock bag of newly discarded art funness,  find the labeled plastic tubs (they were on the table the whole time) and begin the task at hand while you hope and pray SpongeBob is teaching a moral lesson that day.

Surviving winter means surviving the closeness of an entire family confined to one space.  And somehow that spaced gets smaller on a daily basis.  Even by banishing kids to certain floors of the house for awhile so when they reunite its more of “I missed your face” vs “get out of my face” doesn’t seem to work.  They still have the ability to shout/hurl insults between floors w/ out actually being within visual sight of one another.  Every attempt at directing activies is met with distain:  I hate playing “Sorry” – he always targets my pieces and I never EVER win.  I don’t want to bake cookies, it takes too long and I don’t even like snickerdoodles (that statement, in itself, is blasphemy because there is nothing more delectable and pure than a fresh baked snickerdoodle).  It seems like every organized indoor activity slowly degrades to the lowest common denomonator of games:  throwing balls at each other heads in the basement. 

No matter how the kids are seperated (why don’t you two go play air hockey now while I have the other two sort Legos from Tinkertoys!) somehow they all migrate to the basement for a full round of indoor dodgeball.  Where the laughter is soon replaced with tears from someone really taking a soccer ball upside the head a little too hard.denom This is where you take another hot swig of coffee to quench the profanity and you once again check the home weather station for a glimpse of the possible Go Outside go-to.  Nope, the gray cloud is saying its 35F and with freezing rain which not only means you have to de-ice the drive in the morning but going outside is an impossiblity.  So you suggest a reading contest:  lets see who can be the most quiet and read the most pages in 30 minutes!  And you get the blank stare of “are you serious” while THEY go check the home weather station to see if they can go outside.  However, the ever present discussion you have had of the difference between rain and snow is 32F has long since exited their brains so WHY CAN’T WE GO OUTSIDE.

This is where winter chores come in handy.  The ever present basket of socks to sort looms over their heads like a destiny of misfortune.  You take yet another swig of coffee and start to mumble “find something to do or I will find you something to do” while holding the Laundry Basket of Doom.   And they scatter like roaches when the light is turned on.  For awhile you have some peace and quiet until you notice the basement door is ajar and you hear the slight bouncing of balls while one is warming up waiting for the other sneek downstairs. In your ever existing gray clouds overhead coffee haze you attempt to tackle another winter organization project: this time it making sure all the games have the proper game pieces. 

You have them scour their rooms carrying old Jewel bags looking for each and every battleship, red/white peg, UNO card and Monopoly property because your mantra of “the game is only fun and useful if you have all the pieces” has fallen on dodgeball injured deaf ears.  What they come back with is a myaid of things that you don’t even want to acknowledge festered in their rooms for God-Knows-How-Long.   And that leads you to yet another cleaning/organization winter project that may or may not require the use of Haz-Mat suits.   This is when you check the home weather station only to see a normal temp of NEGATIVE 5 not even taking the wind chill into account.

And you once again hope and pray SpongeBob is teaching a moral lesson that day.  Then you reslove yourself to a Spring Cleaning organizational spree and go take a nap!  Happy Winter!

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The Christmas Letter

With the Holidays upon us and the annual Greetings that are sent, I am always in awe of the infamous Christmas Letter.  That mere 8×11 sheet of paper that captures the highlights of the past 12 months of life.  The tidbits of wonderfulness that are shared across the miles with boastful parents and happy little stories of adventure and achievements.

I enjoy these letters for the mere fact I could never ever write one.  Because my letter would be more reality based and would add more comic relief to the Joys of the Season than wonderment of my families achievements.   I can’t really sugar coat the lives of those 4 boys to make it an awe inspiring story vs the baffling events of daily life. Below are examples of the letters I would get vs the letter I would write:

Letter Received:

Happy Holidays from the &^%*$ Family! This year has been such a fun one that its hard to contain our excitement on this small sheet of paper.  This year we took three dream vacations to Machu Pichu where we had a spiritual awakening, Vancouver where we skied/snowboarded with Shawn White and he gave the kids private lessons for free, plus we took a Disney Cruise where we dined with Captain Mickey every night and got to steer the ship.

Our kids are in several activities:  our 6 year old just got his black belt in Tae Kwan Do and also has a modeling contract with the Gap.  Our 9 year daughter was asked to be on the Olympic Gymnastics team but turned down the offer to concentrate on perfecting her violin.  She has been asked by the NYC Orchestra to be guest 1st chair at the annual New Year’s Day concert.  We couldn’t be prouder.

One small glitch in our year is that our Yellow Lab — Sadie — only got 2nd place in the US National Pier Jumping Competition.  She was only 3/4″ off the leader and her Silver Medal is prominently displayed next to her picture with President Obama’s dog Bo with who she is BFF. 

Tom has been hard at work in the Food Additives department as his job.  He has perfected an additive to be sprayed on asparagus to decrease the horrible smell your urine takes on after eating it. The additive also adds a rainbow sparkly hue as you pee.  I have been busy caring for the elderly in my free time while also volunteering at the kids school and working full time as a Chef to the Stars.  Now my job isn’t as easy at Tom’s since those celebrities can be temperamental.  That salmon has to be seared for only a 1/4″ on each side and it has to be more Lemon that Butter for AJ while BP just prefers steak.  My-oh-my it can be a challenge to get those dishes to perfection for the perfect people I work for (can’t name names, hence the initials).

Since we have so much love to give we have adopted an orphan from a 3rd world country and as it turns out she is a chess prodigy and is currently on a US Tour.  We found her an Au Pair that speaks her native language to travel with her to make the adjustment easier to the Land of Opportunity and we look forward to having her home for Christmas.  She flies in on Dec 24th and thats when we will present her with her own gold plated chess set.

Other than that our lives have been bland.  We had to endure Ty Pennington remodeling our house which was a challenge because Tom said he didn’t “keep his shirt on enough” but I wasn’t complaining about that!  Our house is so much more EcoFriendly and cozy now since we generate our own power from the windmill out back.

I read all three books of “50 Shades of Grey” and lets just say Tom was happy I did!  Wink wink! :)

That’s about it from the &^%*$ Family!  We wish the best of the best to you and yours this Holiday Season.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

PS:  We snuck in the picture of the unicorn we found while hiking in Peru, but don’t spread the word they are real.  We would HATE for anything bad to happen to that wonderful animal.  He led us thru the mountains and taught us how to walk on clouds!

Letter Written:

Seasons Greetings from the Weitgenant Family!  We hope this letter finds you in good spirits this Holiday Season.  We are happy to say that we have had few run ins with the law this year and none of the kids have been held back in school.  We are on grade level expectations with academics and we are mastering Madden 13 on the Wii.

We haven’t taken any vacations this year due to the fact the boys drink about a gallon of milk every other day and our vacation fund goes straight to the Jewel on a bi-weekly basis.  But they are healthy, eating machines so we are happy to provide them substance.  We have gone camping a few times and we took up Geocaching as a free, fun hobby to enjoy.  We just hope that we find more Letterboxes than used condoms when traipsing thru the woods!  Don’t want to have to explain that during our fun Geocaching experience. 

We have caught more fish than had fish hooks caught in appendages so that’s good.  Actually we have stayed out of the ER most of the year dispite the constant infighting, tree climbing and brutal dodgeball games. 

Jen read all three books of “50 Shades of Grey” but still can’t stay awake past 9pm to put any of that knowledge to good use.

We still have our two dogs who are relatively good and only dig out about once a week.  We know alot of our neighbors from the mere fact they have brought our dogs home on several occasions.  We also found out that Animal Control isn’t active on the weekend in our community so if there is a dog on the loose its the local police who bring them home.  That was a tidbit of information that was new to us.  And as much as we love them and clean up after them we have at least one child who has a poop magnet on the bottom of his shoes…….. needless to say the steam mop is heavily used and if you are smart you would buy stock in Clorox and Lysol.

Both our jobs are going well.  Jeremy is looking to be promoted for his great work in the area of chemistry and I found my dream job.  I am currently working as a clinical research nurse and have found a job where my OCD can run wild.  Its a refreshing job for the fact that I don’t have anyone coughing Influenza in my face or puking on my shoes anymore.  I don’t feel the need to strip my clothes off in the garage and throw them in the washer on HOT the second I get home from work. Plus I don’t have to decontaminate myself with Fels Naptha soap in a scalding shower at 2am after an ER shift. 

Jen has been quietly obsessed with the Mayan Calendar and the End of the World as We Know it.  She has been intermittently spouting theories from Solar Flares to UFOs to the fact the Mayans probably ate alot of Psychedelic Mushrooms.  But her and her friends have hatched a half ass Doomsday Plan in which each person has a specific role to play (the roles secret and will not be revealed).  She plans on having the gas tank full and her bags packed by 1700 on Dec 20th.

The house is standing and the walls have fewer holes that were created by “Not Me” than last year.  The carpet need replaced for reasons we won’t mention and the birch didn’t die in the summer of multiple 108+F days (despite what the pushy TruGreen guy was spouting).  We took our first Family Road Trip and the only casualty was a green Lego Ninjago guy which we take as a successful Road Trip.  One main reason it was successful was the fact we have boys and we kept an empty milk jug in the back of the car. 

That about it from the Weitgenant House!!  We wish you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  If we see 2013 then we look forward to letting you know what’s happening with us!!  Hugs!

I would hope that by being truthful and honest we would be starting a trend in the yearly Christmas Letter.   It would be much much much more interesting to read what people have REALLY been up to over the past year than the glossed over highlights.  Its nice to know you aren’t alone when grocery shopping in your PJs or passing off mediocre weekend outtings as “vacations”.

Its nice to know that not every kid is being scouted by MLB at the age of 12 to be the next Cy Young and that sometimes you walk in the house with dog poop on your shoes.  That the highlight of your year is developing a system for folding clothes that cut your total laundry time down by 1/4 of what it used to take.  THAT’s the type of stuff we should be writing and reading.  To quote one of the our favorite classic Christmas Movies:  “its Christmas and we are all in misery”.  Much love during this Real Holiday Season!

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Christmas Memories, by Victoria Weitgenant

Our memories derive 
From what our family has given
and what lessons we took away. 
 
I would pray the utmost prayer, 
That I can give the same to my children
Someday. 
 
Cheated are the Children, 
Who see visions of boxes, 
Instead of joy. 
Wronged were they in youth, 
for getting every toy. 
 
For never will I remember 
What lay beneath the tree, 
Who got the biggest box,
Or who Santa’s favorite would be. 
 
Department stores and superficialities, 
Fade to the abyss. 
Sausages and eggnog 
Are things on which I reminisce. 
 
Singing beneath copper lighting, 
With echoes of hopeful choirs ringing in my ear, 
Looking into the face of Christ,
Realizing why we are all here. 
 
Numbing toes amidst the pine, 
While grandmother picks the perfect tree,
Being sure to take her time, 
as Santa wreaks of whiskey. 
 
Handmade stockings and hidden pickles,
Feel cosy by the fireplace, 
While bear claws bake and women complain, 
about not hesitating to stuff their face. 
 
Driving down to Florida, 
Excited before the sun. 
Crammed into a minivan, 
Trying to create our own fun. 
 
Reindeer food in Nana’s yard, 
and Papa jolly as ever. 
Thinking we are all-grown-up,
Because we got some wine at dinner. 
 
Pressing a rifle into my shoulder, 
With Father supporting behind. 
Sneaking cookie dough with mother,
Who has Holiday Inn on rewind. 
 
Smells of fudge and goodies, 
Trigger a comfort somewhere deep, 
Playing Euchre with uncles, 
while they play dirty and cheat. 
 
My memories are of family and friends, 
Swapping stories and laughing aloud.
Entertaining guests, 
Or all together going out. 
 
Movies and Hot cocoa, 
Carols and sparkling lights. 
Snow forts and balls of dirt, 
Parents reading Twas the Night. 
 
Though we all have split our paths, 
And trains now bring us together,
Home will always feel the same. 
Holidays anywhere else, 
Would fail to ever be better. 
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Transitions

Its been awhile since I touched on RAD so I thought I would share.  We see RAD everyday in every way and its not just “normal kid behavior”.  RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) is a common condition of adopted children or children who have had early childhood trauma.

With a RADling consistency is the key.  Same thing, everyday, no changes, no surprises.  Get up, go to school.  Come home, do homework, eat dinner, shower, go to bed.  Nothing else can upset the delicate balance of the day or–(to put it honestly– all hell can break loose (toy breaking, temper tantrums, pants wetting or sibling hurting).  Even the common occurrence of a weekend can throw a loop into the daily routine and cause RADness to rear its ugly head.  No plans on a Saturday?  Whhhaaaaaaat?  No matter what reassurances are done or even if you write the schedule on the white board, its not a “normal” day and curbing RAD behavior can be a day long endurance race.  Add in a birthday party and over stimulation and the entire day can be chucked as RADalicious.

Now most of us know life isn’t stagnant.  It flows, it ebbs and it moves with the tides.  But for a RADling these things are terrifying.  Their RADness can be based on neglect or inconsistency or fear.  Or All Of The Above.  Not knowing what the day is going to bring can cause so much anxiety that the entire family has to suffer the wrath of RAD.  Now, add in the Holidays……….

The Holidays can be stressful for the most well adjusted, normal person (if there is such a thing).  For the sake of argument lets just assume there is such an entity of a “normal” mentally healthy person– Your Average Joe/Jane.  This person is in stark contrast to a RADling.  The over stimulation, the pressure, the traveling, the non-routine can throw a RADling into a full blown meltdown — on an hourly basis.

No matter the preparation, the discussions, the forethought the RADling is hardly ever ready for the Holidays.  The sights, the smells, the large family meals…… its horrible for the parents to watch them suffer thru this time frightened and flailing.  The regression of a RADling from age appropriate behavior to that of someone half their age can be progressive or instantaneous.  And for the helpless parent it is heartbreaking to watch.  There is very little reassurance in the world that can help and that means consequences — yes, a form of “punishment” for the RADness which only adds fuel to the fire and the downward spiral of Holiday RAD behavior.

There truly is no way to curb it- we can prepare and prepare but it the RAD seems inevitable.  The RADling has their own agenda of RAD behavior and their own fears/anxiety.  And the rest of the family just has to ride the RAD roller coaster and hope the ride ends up more fun that scary.   Every year the family hopes the RADling can cope and every year the family endures while the RADling regresses to a point at which they are comfortable; which is usually around the emotional age of 2-4.  The height of the “needy” years (yes, sometimes complete with potty “accidents”).  It doesn’t matter the chronological age of the RADling, they have an emotional spot they are most comfortable at and this is the emotional spot they end up.  Its heartbreaking for both the RADling and the parent.

The Holidays are a slippery RAD slope but even the Daily transitions of life throw the RADling for a loop.   The transition of school to home is one of the most brutal times of the day for the RADling.  Even if the home life is structured and calm the transition from school to home causes issues, problems and behavior issues.  Normally coming home from school, kicking off your shoes and just chilling is a nice time of day.  A day to think of all the fun stuff that you learned at school during the day.  But for a RADling they have been putting up a “front” most of the day.  The anxiety of school builds then when they get into the comfort zone of home all the anxiety lets loose and they vent.  If possible, let a RADling run outside and really get that energy/anxiety out before any other activities (like homework).  Let them take the day of putting up a brave face and put it into a full blown game of Tag or Football or anything physical that will let that energy out.  That will help calm the mind and the body.

For us explaining everything helps the transition a bit but I have found myself saying things like “Yes, I will make snacks when we get home.  However, snacks don’t instantaneously show up on the table.  They take approx 10-12 minutes so please allow for that time frame”.  Because we if get home and that snack isn’t already waiting, look out!!  It would then be a LONG 10-12 min because an instantaneous banana ain’t cutting it, the the RADness starts early and starts strong as soon as we get home from school.

We hope and pray that the RADlings sees that the transitions of Daily Life aren’t scary thru repetition but it really is a daily battle.  Moving thru the day can be easy sometime and other days its like walking on eggshells.  For most of us going thru our day is a mind numbing experience we don’t even take a second thought to, but for a RADling any changes can be filled with anxiety and dread.  We have to remember that the RADling has real fears and real anxiety due to early childhood trauma.  They don’t necessarily know why they are upset so, as parents, we have to keep cool and coax them back to the here and now.  And its hard because what scares a RADling is something a “normal” person doesn’t even think about most days.  Just making a split second decision to hit the drive thru for coffee and all of a sudden “where are we going, this isn’t the way we should be going, why are we getting coffee, we don’t get coffee everyday” can start a downward spiral for the day.

So, with all that said, if you are in a family with a RADling please don’t judge the parents during this Holiday Season.  They do the RAD dance everyday and handle it to the best of their ability.  Undermining them or telling them they are “overreacting” just adds to the daily guilt a  RAD parent feels.  Now everyone go hug your kids and appreciate them for all they are and all they can be.

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