Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh, Dream Weaver, I believe we can reach the morning light, but I'm gonna feel funky the rest of the day

So, some of my earliest memories are of nightmares I had as a child.

We all have nightmares from time to time, but during my childhood and my twenties, my nightmares were worse than most movies I've seen. When I was very young, the nightmares were innocent, more about monsters kidnapping my sister and I or a shark biting off my leg in a swimming pool than about pure evil. But as I grew older and learned more about sinister people and horrific circumstances, they became extremely violent, bloody and detailed. And they seemed to last all night long. Sometimes it could take me 30 minutes just to explain the whole dream to someone.

I can always remember my dreams and they are always in color, which made them all the more disturbing when I woke up.

When I turned 30, I began seeing a therapist (which everyone should do, in my opinion) - not about my nightmares, but just about living a better life in general. After seeing my therapist for a year and getting out everything I had wanted to say in my life but was too afraid to say, and discovering where my feelings of shame were coming from in the first place, the nightmares stopped. Immediately.

And I realized that I had all these horrid dreams my whole life because I never said what I really wanted to say. I never let myself believe that who I am is good enough. I wasn't living my truth. I was trying to be someone that I was never going to be, whether that person was a Metallica-loving goth girl or an aloof poet or a rebellious Indy rocker. I needed to just be me. And that is something I still struggle with everyday - being okay with me.

I completely stopped having nightmares for four years. Until I had kids.

As I have said before, being a parent of two little boys, one with sensory and hyperactivity issues, is sometimes quite overwhelming for me and quite exhausting. On top of that, my husband and I have had a rough few years financially, with other bumps along the way. I started having nightmares again when my first son was about 10 or 11 months old. My husband had just lost his job, I had a miscarriage, my husband lost 2 family members, and a few other things happened.

Now, my nightmares were back, but in a different way. No longer were they bloody and gory like a Clive Barker book, they were just sad or intense or frantic. I was always stressed out because of worrying about money, or Max's behavior, or his many therapy appointments, or Harry's seemingly constant illnesses. And I still have nightmares to this day.

I feel as if my husband and I have been running from one almost-tragedy to the next, barely escaping in tact, but always escaping at the last second, and trying to protect our sons at the same time. We haven't had a break to breathe in a long time. And that is where my nightmares come in.

I don't have them as often anymore because I have learned that life throws hard times at you and as long as I find a way to see it as a blessing in some way, then I can move on, almost unscathed, but stronger. I still panic, but my times of sheer panic are shorter and far between. I have learned that as long as we are still a family and my boys and husband are with me and we are all still laughing and unhurt, then what does the rest matter anyway?

But, I can't escape my dreams. And they always show me what I am truly feeling when consciously, I apparently have no idea.

This post is kinda long, so I will write about two of the dreams I've had lately tomorrow. I could write about this all day, but somebody has got to do my laundry. Unless someone else wants to volunteer. No? Okay, then I'd better go. I'm potty training and Max needs his Star Wars underwear.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Way to be there, Mom and Dad!

So, we've had a couple of accidents in the Clark family. And no, I'm not talking about accidentally eating half a bag of Butterfinger minis this weekend. Total accident. I was distracted.

No, I am talking about Max and Harry. Nothing biggie big, but a couple of boo-boos.

Last Sunday, we had a block party in our neighborhood. Max was already tired because he had been playing with his cousins all afternoon. By the time the block party started at 4 pm, he was getting sleepy-clumsy and falling down a lot. He had several incidents where he fell and cried, which is completely unlike him, but he was T-I-R-E-D.

Then, the big one. He was chasing the older boys, who were riding their bikes, with a foam sword. Okay, it kinda sounds like he was being bad, but the older girls were also chasing the boys and the boys were laughing. Everyone was laughing. Until Max was crying.

I'm not sure what I was doing when Max fell because everything flew out of my head the moment I saw my little 3 yr old with blood pouring down the side of his face, sitting in the middle of the street screaming. I ran toward him while one of the older boys helped him stand up.

Apparently, from what we could get out of him, one of the girls accidentally ran into him with her bike and knocked him down. But, we still aren't sure if he hit his head on her bike or a rock, a stick, or what. And no kids were giving out any deets. I'm sure someone was afraid of getting in trouble. Little kids live in fear of getting in trouble and they weren't about to give up any information. You gotta survive out there on the playground, man. No one wants to be the rat.

Whatever it was gashed his forehead open and blood was pouring out everywhere like a mafia beating. Okay, it probably wasn't everywhere like a mafia beating, but it seemed like it to me at the time.

He needed stitches, but it was a Sunday evening and going to the ER would have been more traumatic for him than necessary. So, after a long battle with him screaming that he didn't want us to touch his head, we finally got him to let us close the wound with a butterfly closure by giving him a small bag of M&Ms to eat while we did it. And we gave him a special toy.

A toy that we had been saving for one of his big accomplishments, like total potty training or giving up the paci. We went ahead and gave it to him after we bandaged him up. The toy miraculously made him good as new! It was a Carbonite Freezing Chamber from the Empire Strikes Back. He loved it!

All better! His boo-boo looks great now and has healed up nicely!

The other accident happened when we went to St. Louis to visit my sister this past weekend. And it was Harry instead of Max. My sister has stairs in her house, but there is a baby gate in front of the stairs, which her daughter, who is almost the same age as Harry, has never even tried to move.

Well, enter my boys. After 2 days of being there, Harry figured out how to move the gate and while all us responsible adults were eating something (again, all details flew out of my head the moment I saw my 1 yr old tumble down the stairs - I can't even remember if it was breakfast, lunch or dinner), he climbed up to the fourth stair and stood up.

When I saw him, I let out a little scream and started to run over to the staircase. Harry saw me and gave me a huge look-what-I-just-did-mommy grin. Then, he took a step toward me, into the air, and tumbled down the stairs, landing on his neck between the first step and the baby gate.

Luckily, he was fine. The baby gate kept him from hitting the hard wood floor. There was just lots of crying and lots of mommy beating herself up for not being able to run faster and dive over a baby gate like a circus performer dives through a ring of fire.

I am hoping for a boo-boo free week this time. I don't need our little Obi Wan Kenobi or Kermit the Frog to be on crutches for Halloween!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"If it's too LOUD, then you're TOO OLD!" Okay, well then, I've been too old since birth.

So, loud noise. It drives my son to put his hands over his ears and run the other direction. Or put his hands over his ears and scream. Or put his hands over his ears and cry. Or lash out. It is part of his sensory disorder.

But, you know, we all have sensory issues to some degree. Some people don't like the feeling of wool on their skin. Some people don't like slimy food textures, like mushrooms. Some people's senses don't work together efficiently in crowds and they become claustrophobic.

My sensory issue? Noise. Like Max, I can't handle noise.

When I was a child, I remember begging my mom not to turn on the vacuum cleaner because I couldn't handle the noise. And when she said she had to vacuum, I remember asking her to wait until I got to my bedroom and shut the door. I truly couldn't stand it. Just like Max.

I have never liked loud music (again, just like Max), so apparently I've been old since birth. Concerts and bands in bars have always been difficult for me to enjoy because of the volume. I sound like such a fuddy duddy, don't I? Well, I promise I am fun. Okay, at least I used to be fun before I had kids. (insert sigh) Now, fun for me is getting to go to the grocery store by myself and buying myself a treat, like a Dr. Pepper (gasp!) and a bag of peanut M&Ms (oh no! she didn't!), then sitting in my driveway in the dark like a psycho, eating my candy while hiding from my responsibilities.

Wait. That might have been too much information.

Anyway, construction sites and motorcycles give me anxiety and make my brain vibrate around in my head. Fingernails on a chalkboard and forks scraping plates make my teeth hurt.

I can't stand the sound of liquids pouring from one container to another, like when someone pours coffee out of the pot into a cup. I also can't stand the sound of ice rolling around in a cardboard cup, like fast food cups. Drives me nuts.

Now, I don't always notice these sounds - but if it is quiet, like in a movie theater, and someone is shaking the ice in their cup (my husband), then I want to rip off my irritated skin, jump up on my chair, and scream, "STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! YOU ARE RUINING THIS MOVIE FOR ME! STOP. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT.!" That's not crazy, right?

My ideal job is in a library. Not just because I love literature and reading and libraries and bookstores are like my church, but because it is quiet. I live in a small house with two little boys and a very lively husband. There is a lot of hoopla going on in my house at all times and I am not a "hoopla" kind of gal. Chaos stresses me out and that is basically all my house is - just one rectangle of chaos. With siding.

I told my husband that I want to work in a library when the boys go to school and he said, "A library? Why? That would be so boring! It is soooooo quiet!" As soon as the word "quiet" fell from his lips, our 3 yr old ran through the kitchen trying to hit our dog with a light saber and our 1 yr old started crying because he got knocked over. And I said, "Exactly. It's quiet."

So, all this makes me wonder. How much of Max's sensory issues are an actual disorder and how much are just genetics? Or maybe I have a disorder? Actually, me having a disorder is pretty possible. It would explain a lot.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Yesterday's Wordless Wednesday

So, okay, okay. I can't seem to get my not-so Wordless Wednesday posts up on an actual Wednesday, but I still have really cute pictures to share of my really cute family and my semi-cute dog. He would be a lot cuter if he didn't smell so bad. And if he didn't drink so much water and then vomit it all up on the carpet. I mean, come on. Know your limits.

Here we go:

Pig Sooie! Happy Hog fan!

My boys watching football while I did something else. Far, far away

Well, not too far away. I did take this picture.

Look at Steve and Max tilting their heads in the same direction. Those two are made from the same mold. Pretty precious.

Meeko wearing a t-shirt because his psychotic brain makes him scratch off his fur and leave it on my carpet.

The boys watching cartoons on the floor with all their blankets and all of the pillows off of all the beds in the house. Cozy! It was adorable for the 30 seconds that it lasted.

And, this is what happens when your 1-yr old refuses to take a nap all day - he falls asleep during dinner while eating his green beans and macaroni. And then wakes up in his crib 45 minutes later, crying and hungry, so you feed him a second time and then he doesn't fall asleep again until 10 pm.

And that was our week in pictures!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What is that white stuff around your mouth, son?

So, a couple of evenings ago, my husband was outside with our 3 yr old son, Max, swinging in the backyard, while I was inside with our 1 yr old, Harry. Harry was behind me, playing with toys, while I sat at the computer and checked my email. I had just changed his diaper on the floor and now, he was playing with his cars. I was also in the middle of cooking dinner at the time and might have been a teensy bit distracted. Ahem.

When I stood up from my chair to check on dinner, Harry looked up at me from the floor with a huge grin on his face. A huge, white, grin. Something white was all over his mouth. I freaked out because I thought he had thrown up again (he had just gotten over a stomach bug a few days earlier).

"Oh no! Poor baby!", I said. And then I looked a little closer, looked at what was in his hand, realized it wasn't vomit, and then yelled, "What the? What is that? Oh no!"

It was Desitin. He had been sitting on the floor sucking on an open tube of Desitin. I had forgotten to put the lid back on when I changed his diaper. Yipes! Desitin was all over him, his mouth, his tongue, the carpet, the ottoman, his blanket.

I freaked out again, looked at the ingredients, called my husband from outside, looked for the number to poison control, and then decided to Google "my baby ate Desitin" quickly. I mean, this is what we do these days - we Google before we call poison control.

Afterwards, I felt waaaaay better. Apparently, kids eat Desitin all the time. Tons of blogs and forums popped up on the screen with moms talking about how their toddler sucked up half a tube of Desitin, then the moms freaked out, called poison control, and the experts said not to worry about it - to just observe their child overnight.

So, that is exactly what we did. Like hawks. And Harry was fine. I don't think he ate much of the cream, but still, I was slightly panicked. My husband said not to worry about it because "they" wouldn't make a toxic product for babies because babies put everything in their mouths. True. My husband is usually the voice of reason when it comes to our kids and their health. I tend to panic. Just a little.

Harry had his one year well-child check-up on Tuesday morning and everything was fine. No Desitin poisoning. He is now 23 pounds - we thought he would weigh more than that because the child is ALWAYS hungry. I'm not complaining - it is a relief to have at least one of my children like to eat. We still have to bribe Max to eat.

Harry got one vaccine - we only allow our kids to get one at a time, every few months, since Max has had bad reactions to vaccines - and Harry handled it like a champ.

The doc said he is no longer anemic, so we get to take him off formula and give him whole milk.

Yay! And yet, not so yay.

We, unfortunately, weren't able to establish a good night night routine with Harry because Max was so young when he was born. I wasn't able to leave Max alone for very long to read and sing to Harry like I did with Max. So, Harry's bedtime routine was a bottle.

And now, as of yesterday, we have said bye bye to the bottle and Harry isn't handling it so well. He cried himself to sleep everytime I put him down yesterday, and he cried again today. I have started a bedtime routine with him of books and songs, but it will take time for him to get used to it.

We took his pacifier away over a month ago and I don't think he even noticed. But, taking away his bottle has been like taking away my sweat pants. Or my husband's bedtime bowl of cereal. Devastating.

Wish us luck.

Here is Harry with his new sippy cup:

My Memories Suite Scrapbooking Software Winner!

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#28...Penny Minding Mom!

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Following them on Twitter.

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Thanks to everyone who entered! :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Harry, Meeko and their ouchie tummies

So, really, Meeko's gas. I don't know what is up with his stomach, but it's killing me. He sleeps in our bedroom at night and now our room needs to be fumigated. Our dog's flatulence is poison and I think it gave me a disease last night. His gas is physically hurting me.

Here he is wreaking typical havoc in the snow. He looks like he's going to college.

That dog drives me crazy. He has to wear this sweater 24 hours a day now because he has a behavioral scratching problem and he scratches all his fur off. He clearly has some mental issues.

Let's move on.

Poor Harry is sick again. My sweet baby boy. He woke up crying last night around 1 am and I couldn't get him to calm down no matter what I did. He eventually woke my husband up, too, and he thought it might be teething pain, so he gave Harry Tylenol, which only made Harry scream louder. When I couldn't handle the screaming in my ear anymore, I passed him to Steve, to which Harry responded by throwing up all over my husband. And then he did it a second time.

While Steve was cleaning himself and the floor up, I held Harry again and about 10 minutes later, he threw up all over me.

It was HEARTBREAKING (and stinky)!! Harry is so sweet and precious and I don't know why he is sick so often. It isn't fair. Is his immune system really this bad? We try to keep his system boosted with vitamins and minerals, but he still gets sick all the time.

He is only 12 months old and so far he has had more sinus and ear infections than I can count, he had tubes put in his ears, he is borderline anemic, he has been on 7 rounds of antibiotics, he gets diaper rash in two seconds, he has allergic reactions to mosquito bites where the bites look like GIANT blisters that eventually pop and are painful, and the doctor told us that he has asthma. And I'm sure I am forgetting something.

I don't understand. Our 3 yr old son has only been really sick twice that I can think of, thank goodness, but it is just crazy how two children from the same parents, living in the same household, can have such different immune responses. The only thing I did differently in my pregnancies was I ate gluten free while pregnant with Harry because I found out I had celiac disease after Max was born. Could my diet have had something to do with it? Or is it just genetics?



with a little of Max thrown in.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kid-free hours. I had some.

So, Sunday, I got almost three whole kid-free hours. Kid-free. No kids. Not even the little one.

We had a birthday party to attend and my husband said he would take them by himself if I would clean the boys' rooms while he was gone. That was the condition. Then, I could do whatever I wanted. Ummm...done deal. I would have cleaned the boys' rooms anyway.

So, how did I spend my time? First, I prepared dinner in the slow cooker. I know this isn't glamorous or even different from my usual daily routine, but believe me, to get to cook dinner without my 1 yr old pulling on my pant legs to be held and my 3 yr old demanding that I find his lost Obi Wan Kenobi doll was heaven. And enjoyable. I turned up the Carpenters (strange choice, I know, but all the CDs I have left that weren't stolen [see previous post] were in my car and my hubs took my car to the birthday party - plus, I secretly love the Carpenters - shhhh) and I sang as loud as I could - DON'T YOU REMEMBER YOU TOLD ME YOU LOVED ME BAAAAABY - while I chopped onions and potatoes.

Then, I thought about cleaning the boys' rooms, but decided to take a kid-free shower instead. But first, I peed BY MYSELF without my 3 yr old standing in the doorway explaining the Han Solo in carbonite scene from Star Wars to me.

Then, I took my time in the shower - usually my husband is rushing me because he has to leave for work or it's 10 o'clock at night and I'm exhausted. This time, I actually got to shave my legs. And I might have even danced a little.

Then, I decided to blow out my hair with the hairdryer. Usually, I have to let my hair dry by itself or I go to bed with it wet, so when I wake up in the morning, I look like a zombie from the 1980's. Shiver.

About halfway through drying my hair, I realized that I still hadn't cleaned the boys' rooms. And I only had a few minutes left. Oops. Where did all the time go? I must have stepped into some kind of Carpenters time warp and danced in the shower longer than I thought.

So, with my hair half-dry, I ran into Max's room and started throwing toys in the toy box. Darth Maul, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and about seven different Darth Vaders were flying through the air. I shoved his books in the bookcase, put his costumes in the closet (he likes to dress up like Spiderman, Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi). I put his 36 million light sabers of various sizes and colors into a bin and then ran to Harry's room.

In Harry's room, I got a tad bit distracted. This has happened to me a lot since having kids. Something about taking care of children all day has given me ADD.

I used to be extremely focused, able to become completely engrossed in a book, anytime, anywhere. I was a very good student in school with high grades. Now, I am so used to multi-tasking, I can't sit still long enough to read a book. I can't even sit still and watch TV without doing something else at the same time, like folding laundry or working on the computer. And I don't finish anything I start anymore. I am waiting for the day when I don't finish getting dressed and I realize in the middle of Walmart that I have forgotten to put on my bra. Or that the back of my dress is tucked into my panties. And believe me, after having two kids, no one wants that.

So, in Harry's room, instead of cleaning, I began pulling out toys for a rummage sale and making piles all over his room - piles of stuffed animals, rattles, and oh! let's pull out all his shoes and make piles of those, too!

And then! Oh no! Max rounds the corner. I screamed! Oh crap. They're home. And Harry's room looks like a circus clown threw up.

Luckily, due to years of pre-marriage/baby parties and heavy drinking, my husband doesn't have a short-term memory. He never said a word about Harry's room looking like a bomb went off. Harry had fallen asleep in the car, so Steve brought him in the room, stepped over all the piles of toys and shoes, put Harry in his crib, and we all went out to the den. I don't think he even remembered our deal. No short-term memory.

Thanks, Bombay Sapphire!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stop the trail of tears, already!

So, a few months ago, my CDs were stolen out of my car. That sucks. Not just because they were stolen, but because all of my favorite CDs were in the car. The songs that get me through, with lyrics I can relate to during my long days. Stinkin' criminals.

My absolute favorite artists of all time - the ones that were swiped from my car by a hoodlum who was hoping for rap, but got my girly love tunes instead and therefore, probably threw my music in a dumpster somewhere, stupid criminal - are: ahem, Tracy Chapman (my first love), the Indigo Girls (I give them all my lyrics-like-poetry love), Brandi Carlisle, Stevie Wonder, and Al Green. All gone.

You know that game you play when you are drunk at a bar where someone asks you if you had to be with a celebrity of the same sex (or opposite sex, depending on your original sexual orientation) for whatever reason, like you were held at gunpoint or someone will give you a million dollars if you do it - well, who would you pick? My pick was always Tracy Chapman. I don't know if she is a lesbian or not, I'm just saying, she's my choice when I play that game. Everytime. Love her.

Anyway, thank goodness for free phone apps like TinyShark - otherwise, I wouldn't be able to listen to my favorite songs because I can't afford to go out and buy my CDs all over again. It took me years to collect them all. I had every single Tracy Chapman and Indigo Girls CDs. And, I know, I'm an old lady who is behind the times and should just have an iPod with a docking station, but I don't, and they cost money, too, so I won't anytime soon.

My point is that I was listening to TinyShark today (which I can only get to work part of the time. Grrrr.), cooking dinner and singing along with my dear Tracy Chapman and Indigo Girls, when all of a sudden, I just started crying. Not a sad cry. Not a happy cry. Just crying. This music takes me back to years of my life, really tough but fun and carefree years, and I think I might have been grieving the person I used to be - someone with a life outside of the home - when I had time to sit around and appreciate what the music was saying and what the poetic lyrics meant to me.

These songs reminded me of myself, three years ago, before I lost myself in my motherhood role. I might have felt a tinge of sadness that I can't ever have her back again in the same way. But, I also felt hope that I can come back, better than ever, in a different way - still me, only with eyes in the back of my head and a mean don't-mess-with-me-I've-raised-two-boys attitude

I wasn't sad. I was just...letting go a little bit.

However, I've been emotional all day for whatever reason (and no, you men out there who might ask, it is not my time of the month). Earlier in the day, I was watching my boys playing in Max's room - they couldn't see me and didn't know I was watching. Max leaned over to Harry, hugged him, and said, "I love you, Harry." And then continued playing with his Star Wars figures, like it was no big deal.

I cried then, too, hiding behind the wall in the hallway. I cried because it was incredibly sweet and Max has come so far in his understanding of appropriate emotion - I am so proud of him, but I cried also because I thought for the first time in a long time, "Hey, I must be doing something right."

Then,(and this is ridiculous), when my son was watching Return of the Jedi, I actually cried at the end of the movie when the Ewoks are celebrating and Luke Skywalker returns and hugs Princess Leia and he sees the ghosts of his mentors and father.

Um, hello. Who cries at the end of Star Wars? Maybe lifers who go to Star Wars conventions, dress up like Darth Vader and do live action role playing, but certainly not normal, non-obsessed-with-sci-fi people. Something might be seriously wrong with me.

Though, on a somewhat lighter note, I read on a homeschooling blog today that Satan is who makes people send their kids to public school, which made me laugh, and then I felt better, because hey, at least I'm not batsh*t crazy, right?

P.S. Please enter my giveaway at the top right hand corner of my blog. It's my first one ever! :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Look at my Scrapped Kids! My Memories Suite Scrapbooking Software Review and Giveaway! Ends 9/27

So, I had grand plans of scrapbooking my oldest son's first year, his first Christmas, his first birthday, his first everything...but it never happened. After having my son, I suddenly had no free time to cut and glue and glitter and measure and browse crafting stores for supplies. Then, after my second son was born, well, let's just say I now barely have time to shower.

When contacted me to review their digital scrapbooking software, My Memories Suite, and give one away to a lucky reader, I jumped at the opportunity! I had never tried digital scrapbooking, so I was incredibly excited about this review.

Admittedly, as easy as this software is to use, I had trouble at first. I am not techno-savvy. At all. Not in the slightest. However, once I played around with the software and watched the demos on YouTube, I got the hang of digital scrapbooking and felt rather silly for not figuring it out on my own. This software really is easy to use! But, as all mommies know, it's hard to learn a new skill while your 3 yr old is screaming at you for chocolate milk and his Han Solo action figure, while your 1 year old screams because your 3 yr old just took the Han Solo action figure away. Ahem. Drama.

My Memories Suite provides many creative options for scrapbooking! You can create an album using one of the professionally-designed templates or you can make your album from scratch! You can also download paper packages and themed templates from the website, some of them for FREE, to expand your My Memories Suite paper and embellishment library.

A few of the other great options with this software include: printing your pages to make your own scrapbook, use the 1-click share option to turn your album into a professionally printed hardbound book, turn your scrapbook into a DVD, make calendars, posters and greeting cards, and finally, you can make a movie out of your scrapbook with narration, music and video!

I still haven't played with all the options! There are so many!

My only complaint with this software is that the original software doesn't provide any paper or embellishment options for scrapbooking pictures of boys. You would have to download boyish paper kits and embellishments from the website. And while some of them may be free, I still would have liked some options provided in the software. However, if you are the mommy of girls, there are a lot of super cute girly papers and embellishments, like flowers, bows, ribbons, buttons, hair clips, pink shoes, polka-dots, and lace!

I can't even begin to tell you about EVERYTHING you can do with this software. So, I will show you a few of the things I created my first time amateur digital scrapbooking debut!

The first four album pages are from my son's first birthday party, which was a firetruck theme.

Next, I played around with making shapes out of my photos to put on my blog!
I also had so much fun making my own Holiday Gift Tags because Christmas is my favorite holiday! What a great way to save money during the holidays!

WANNA BUY IT: If you would like to purchase this software, I have a special coupon code for all my readers! This provides a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook Software and a $10 coupon for the store - a $20 value! To purchase, just go HERE and use the coupon code STMMMS16202!


WANNA WIN IT: My Memories has offered the My Memories Suite Scrapbooking Software to one of my lucky readers!

To enter, you must first provide the mandatory entry and leave your email address in your comment so that I may contact you if you win! After that, you can choose whether or not to enter the optional extra entries for more chances to win! Leave a separate comment for each thing you do! Winner will be chosen by

Mandatory entry: Visit and leave me a comment with your favorite scrapbooking kit or paper pack! Don't forget to leave your email address!

Extra Entries: (leave a separate comment for each!)

Follow Where A Woman Shakes Her Tablecloth via GFC
Subscribe to the MyMemories blog via GFC for one extra entry
"Like" the My Memories Suite page on Facebook for one extra entry
Follow My Memories Suite on Twitter for one extra entry
Subscribe to the My Memories Suite YouTube page for one extra entry

If you do all the extra entries, then that is six chances to win! Good luck to everyone! This software is worth it!

This giveaway ends September 27, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Look at My Canvas! Easy Canvas Prints Review

custom canvas prints

We just had family pictures taken in July by one of my very talented photography friends! We had never had a family photo taken with our children, cousins, aunt, mom - and my husband and I hadn't had a family photo taken since our second son, Harry was born, a year ago!

So, when Easy Canvas Prints contacted me to review a canvas with a photo of my choice, I was extremely excited. It was the perfect opportunity to review a great product and display our family photo!

In my experience, Easy Canvas Prints had me upload a photo of my choice, from my personal collection or a work of art from the internet, choose my canvas size (I chose 16x20), canvas wrap thickness, edit the image size, and choose a border style. Other editing options are color finishing (black and white, sepia) and image retouching for an additional fee.

I paid for my image to be retouched because Harry woke up with pink eye on the morning of our photo shoot. The Easy Canvas Prints Art Department removed the dark red blemish underneath my son's eye. Yay! Poor baby.

I was impressed with Easy Canvas Prints and their art department. Shortly after submitting my order, a member of the art department emailed to inform me that I needed to submit an image with a higher resolution. This person attached a proof of my photo so I could see how blurry it would print. They then provided me with appropriate pixel dimensions and told me that the best images are the original ones straight from your camera (the photo I originally submitted was previously color finished). This is fabulous information for someone, like me, who has no idea what a pixel dimension is or which photo would have a higher resolution. I know, I should probably take a photography class.

Anyway, I submitted the original photo and received another email letting me know the image would still be a bit blurry, again with a proof attached for my viewing. I decided that the minor blurriness didn't bother me and went ahead with my order, after the pink eye retouch.

And...I love it!

Here is the original photo with my youngest son's pink eye (you can see the redness under his right eye):

And here are a couple of pictures of the canvas, without the pink eye!

And a close-up of Harry on the canvas, minus the pink eye...

These canvas prints can be framed, but they recommend you get the .75" canvas wrap thickness if you plan on framing. Our new family photo will be framed and hung over our fireplace!

Overall, I was extremely pleased with Easy Canvas Prints and their customer service. I definitely, with confidence, recommend this company to my readers. The possibilities are endless and you can rest assured that this company won't rest until your canvas looks perfect!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brightly colored crack for kids! Yummy!

So, I'm sure you have heard about the evils of artificial coloring in foods. And I agree with it all. Artificial food coloring, especially red 40, can have a crack-like effect on children with ADHD, and perhaps most children.

We don't allow Max to have any foods in the house with artificial coloring because the resulting effect is one wild child who has no control over his behavior. And toddlers already have trouble with behavior control.

No Fruity Pebbles, no M&Ms, no hard candy, no fruit snacks (except Annie's - this company's products do not have artificial anything in them). It can be extremely frustrating for my son and me when he begs for Star Wars fruit snacks or Scooby Doo fruit snacks in the store and we can't allow him to eat them. It angers me that these food companies advertise a child's favorite movie or TV cartoon character on their packaging ,and yet, put damaging ingredients in their products. Grrr...come on, they could use beet and other juices, instead. If they cared.

Anyway, we will let him have artificial coloring at birthday parties and holidays because we don't ever want him to be the odd child out at school or a party, the only child eating an apple or some other boring fruit while the other kids get to eat brightly colored sugar and circus candy.

So, when we went to a birthday party a couple of weekends ago, I expected food coloring in the birthday cake icing. It is pretty much inevitable in a child's birthday cake. But, what I saw was nothing like I had expected.

There on the table were the cutest Elmo cupcakes you've ever seen. So adorable! But, they were red. And I'm not talking a little bit red. The entire cupcake was red. Red 40 everywhere. The icing on top was red. Then, on top of the icing, was a picture of Elmo's face made with red icing. The cake part of the cupcake was even dyed red. RED. Fine for most kids, but not my kid.

When I saw the cupcakes, the look on my face was like I'd just seen a cougar in my bathroom. Total fear.

I walked over to a nearby table and whispered to my husband, "The cupcakes are red. The entire thing. Even the cake part. Rrrreeeeeeddd." Now, my husband looked like he had just seen a cougar in our bathroom.

So, we got our things together - we wanted to be prepared in case all chaos broke loose and we had to leave the party early, which we are used to doing. The effect of sugar and red dye 40 are pretty much immediate in Max.

Sure enough, after cupcake eating time, the other children stood around and watched the birthday boy open his presents while our child did a cracked-out version of the Super Bowl Shuffle in the middle of the room.

He was yelling. He was dancing. He was laughing uncontrollably. He kept running out of the room at top speed, laughing while one of us chased him down.

We looked at each other and nodded. It was time to go. Party over.

The good thing about all of this is that I have learned over time my child's limits. Because of his sensory issues, I know he can't be in loud places for longer than 30 minutes before he begins to break down. I know he can't have artificial food coloring. I know he lashes out with aggression if someone, like another child, yells at him or if Harry cries. I know to automatically cut the tags out of his shirts. I know to keep him distracted, calm, and talking about anything if I want to keep him from throwing a tantrum in public. I know that I have to stay calm and not get overly excited or overly angry about anything if I want him to remain balanced.
I know that when he is tired, it ain't gonna be pretty.

Of course, he doesn't need red dye 40 to be hyperactive. Monday afternoon when I picked him up from preschool, I peeked in the window before going in - and while all the other children in his class were sitting in their chairs eating their lunches, my son was on the floor under the table pulling on people's legs.

That's my boy!

And although his hyperactivity can be exhausting, there is something special about Max that no one can deny. He has more enthusiasm and passion for everyday life than I have ever seen in any child or adult. Everything makes him over the top excited. I made popcorn one night last week after he had night terrors and couldn't go back to sleep, and he said, "Oh Mommy! Popcorn makes me so happy! Yaaaayyyy! I love you, Mommy!" And he gave me a big hug. I never want that enthusiasm to be extinguished.

So, if it takes many, many challenging and exhausting days for me, then that's okay. If his enthusiasm has to go hand-in-hand with his hyperacitivity and overstimulation, then I can handle it. I never want that smile, that over-the-top enthusiasm, to leave. I will do anything to keep him feeling happy and cozy. Anything. And if that means making popcorn in the middle of the night, then heat up the oil and put the lid on the pot! We are making popcorn!

But, we'll keep the red 40 out of it. I don't need my son running naked through the streets, screaming at the top of his lungs just yet. He can wait until after a long night of drinking gin in college - like his dad did.

On second thought, I never want him to know that story.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hey, all you bad moms out there! This is for you! (but don't worry. It's okay! - apparently, I'm a bad mom,too)!

So, I was doing some blog browsing last night on my phone in between light saber fights with my 3-yr old, and I found a couple of blog posts that I felt to be quite irritating and stifling.

Internet blog wars aren't really my thang, so I won't mention the blogs. I'm not here to piss anyone off. I am positive these women writers are wonderful and kind ladies - I just don't agree with their antiquated ideas on motherhood and child-rearing. Oh, did I say antiquated? Was that judgmental? Oops. How careless of me.

Basically, both posts were these two womens' opinions on being a good, Christian parent and if you are one of the mothers who look forward to the time when your child goes to school in the morning or in the fall, then you are a terrible person who doesn't enjoy her children and you don't deserve to be a mother.

Does anyone else have a problem with this? These women are making sweeping generalizations about an entire population of mothers. And I believe it is sooooooo wrong to judge other mothers. Aren't we mothers supposed to stick together? When did it become wrong for a woman, a woman who is not just a mother but also a WOMAN, to need a little time to rejuvenate and recoup? When did it become wrong for a mother to not only play the role of mother, but also of a living, breathing woman with needs?

The women who wrote these posts have no idea of another mother's situation and how dare they make a mother feel even more guilty than she already does. Every mother struggles with guilt of some sort. Why would one mother want to make another one feel even worse? As one commenter of the post wrote, what if the mother has chronic pain or an aging parent to take care of? She may need the time to rest.

In my case, my husband works most of the time, so I am here with my children all day, every day, seven days a week. If my children are awake or home, I play with them. I'm not doing housework (anyone who comes to my house can attest to that). We play light sabers, play with action figures, finger paint, color, read books, play outside with the neighbors. I am not doing anything for "me". In addition, my 3 yr old has a sensory processing disorder and he, through no fault of his own, can be a challenge some days - he gets easily overstimulated, has texture issues, has night terrors, he is hyperactive, and can be aggressive.

Do I look forward to the time when my 3 yr old goes to preschool for that 3 hours in the morning, three days a week? You bet I do. Do I look forward to nap time? You bet I do. Not because I don't enjoy my children, but because I need that time to do laundry, dishes, mop, EAT, go to the bathroom, take a shower, talk to an adult on the phone, catch the news, pay a bill, go to the grocery store, wrap birthday presents, start dinner, maybe even get to shave my legs or maybe even SIT DOWN for once during the day. Does that make me a bad mom? Hell no. It actually makes me a better mom because I can recoup, accomplish, and keep from feeling overwhelmed.

What is wrong with needing some "me" time, again?

One of the posts actually said that we, as the older generation of women, need to encourage our young girls to be homemakers and not be whatever they want to be when they grow up. Really? Really? Is this a joke? One of the commenters of the post even said that as a good Christian mother, you are supposed to deny yourself and only do for others. That is what God wants.

I know that this is off subject, but this way of thinking makes me CRAZY.

And if I'm not mistaken, you aren't supposed to judge others as a good, Christian woman, either.

I am a homemaker, but if I had a daughter instead of sons, I would encourage her to reach for the stars. You want to be a stay at home mom? Great. You want to work corporate or be a research scientist? Great. You want to dress up like a princess and sing at children's birthday parties? Fantastic.

So again, all you moms out there, don't let the judgey moms make you feel like a bad mom. You're not. If you love your kids and let them feel that love everyday, then you are doing just fine.

And you know the question that these ladies might be surprised to know the answer to?

Do I look forward to the time when my son comes home from preschool or wakes up from his nap?

You bet I do. There's nothing better.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


So, two of the things I hate the most are cleaning up other people's pee and poop and raw chicken. Why insanity set in and I decided to tackle them both in the same day, I will never know.

Potty training and cleaning a raw chicken - two of my worst fears. My third worst fear is not the government or earthquakes or high fructose corn syrup or fluoride. Not even cancer. It's taking away my son's paci. More terrifying concept than starvation. Haven't tackled that one yet.

Anyway, this morning I woke up insane and decided to put my son in big boy underwear and rinse and de-skin a whole chicken in the sink for the slow cooker.

At first, potty training was going great. I took him to the potty every 15 minutes and finally he peed in the potty (he had also peed in the potty twice two days before)! Yay! He stayed dry for the first hour. Then, it all started to go downhill (and down his legs) very quickly.

First, he peed on his bedroom carpet. No big deal, I thought. I expected accidents. Nothing we have done with Max has been easy. I expected several bumps in the road. So, I continued to take him to the potty every 15 minutes.

But then, I had to put my 11 month old down for his nap and while I was gone, he peed on the bathroom sink (okay, I need to explain this one - we are remodeling our front bathroom, so the sink is lying on our living room floor behind the couch).

No big deal. Meanwhile, I am trying to clean my whole chicken. I have an intense fear of raw chicken. I think I might have died from salmonella poisoning in one of my past lives. I am really afraid of raw meat with no tangible reason for my fear.

I put on my gloves. I put the chicken in the sink and take it out of its packaging. So far, so good. I rinse. Then, I get freaked out. The sink starts filling up with pink water because the packaging is clogging the sink drain. I plow through my fear and take out the innards. I change my gloves.

The recipe says to de-skin the chicken. I get my knife and start to de-skin, even though part of my fear is that a piece of raw chicken juice will splatter and hit me in the mouth.

I keep working and eventually realize that I have no idea what the hell I am doing - I've never de-skinned anything before, so I just put my mutilated chicken in the slow cooker and add the spices. With a new pair of gloves, of course. (You all must think I'm insane for real now. My husband already does).

Meanwhile, my son pees on the living room rug, even though I had just taken him to the potty five minutes before.

Then, the big one.

I could tell my son had to go #2 because he always hides when he does it. I saw him hiding behind the curtain in the den, so I rushed him to the potty where he sat there for 20 minutes, looking at a book and doing no pooping. I told him that the poo-poos needed to go home and see their mommy and daddy, so he had to let them go. He understood. He really wanted them to see their mommy and daddy. He tried. And tried. And nothing.

After 20 minutes, I tell him that we will try again in 10 minutes. I could hear my other son yelling from his crib to be let out after his nap. And in the five minutes it took for me to change Harry's diaper and walk into the living room, Max had hidden behind a chair and pooped in his underwear. Sigh.

Now, I had a sink full of pink contaminated water and squished poop all over my son's legs to clean up. I won't go into the details here, but let's just say this particular changing of underwear wasn't a pleasant scene.

I was exhausted and thoroughly grossed out and out of clean underwear, so I put Max back in his diaper for lunch and naptime.

And now, I smell poop and stinky chicken everywhere I go - the smells are permanently burned into the hairs of my nostrils and I can't tell the difference between the two odors anymore. And frankly, at this point, I don't care if Max is wearing diapers at his sixth grade graduation.

Before his nap, I told Max what a great job he did practicing using the potty and that we would try again later after he woke up. That is what I said. But, what I really wanted to say was, "I don't understand! Are you trying to torture me? I know you know you are supposed to go on the potty! It's easy! Why won't you do it??? This is so GROSS! AAAAAAACCCCCKKKKKK!!!!"

But I didn't, of course. He was trying. I think. And he was awfully cute sitting on the toilet "reading" his There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly book. I had to restrain myself from taking a picture and showing it to everyone. Not sure he would appreciate that as a teenager.

I have read that kids with Sensory Processing Disorder, like Max, have a tougher time with potty training because they tend to have more trouble "sensing" that they need to go. This potty training stuff may be my greatest parenting challenge yet...

well, that and trying to determine whether I am smelling poop right now or just the chicken cooking in the crock pot. It's a toss up.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I know why I'm not drunk. How about you?

So, sometimes I wonder why I'm not drunk everyday.

I really wish I had more time to blog. I could write a daily blog post about my mishaps if only my munchkins could learn to use the oven and do their own laundry.

I must enjoy my reality to some extent because I do nothing to try to escape, relax, or self-medicate. I just plow through, popping ibuprofen for tension headaches and laughing at my own expense. And, of course, I do enjoy my reality - my kids are part of my reality ... just not ALL parts of my reality.

For instance, I really didn't enjoy it two nights ago when I caught my 11 month old, Harry, sitting in his highchair, playing in his own poop (and having a blast, by the way) because his diaper had exploded during dinner. Then, when I took him to the bathroom for a bath, I found TWO dirty diapers ripped to shreds by our dog that my husband had left in the bathroom trash from bathtime the night before. Those tiny urine-filled crystals from inside the diaper were EVERYWHERE (slimy!). Then, when I finished his bath and went to clean the kitchen, a block of shortening fell out of the refrigerator door and splattered all over the kitchen floor. Ugh.

And yesterday, I really didn't enjoy it when my 3 yr old, Max, took his new Darth Vader light saber and hit my 11 month old in the forehead with it. On purpose.

And I didn't like it when I told Max to stop jumping on the bed, but he didn't listen and almost immediately lost his balance and performed a perfect horizontal spin off the bed and onto the hardwood floor, hitting his head on the way down. Or, when Harry threw a monster temper tantrum because I wouldn't let him eat his brother's shoe, so he catapulted his whole body backwards, hitting his head on the hardwood floor. (I think the moral of these stories is that hardwood floors don't mesh with little boys and helmets are hightly recommended).

However, my boys do provide some comic relief.

For example, yesterday at Lowe's, my husband and I had to hang out in the grout and caulk aisle for 10 minutes because Max said he was pooping and we couldn't leave until he was done. So, he hid behind a pole and finished his business while I prayed that the woman standing behind him didn't smell anything suspicious.

Or two nights ago when I told Max that if he wants to sleep in mommy and daddy's bed, he can't talk because it is sleeping time. So, he hummed instead. And then whispered to me that he had tooted. I guess I should have been more specific.

And, in addition to the laughs, my boys do provide some "awwwwww"s, too.

Like, when Max kisses Harry. Or he goes to Harry's room to bring him a blanket or a toy. Or like yesterday when Harry slept in my arms and cuddled with me in the morning before anyone else woke up. Or when Max can't control his excitement about something I take for granted, like popcorn or staying up late, and he runs up to me, hugs my legs and screams, "I LOVE YOU, MO-MMY!"

If I was drunk everyday, I'd probably miss those things. Or at least not remember them the next day.

I guess I'll just keep popping the ibuprofen and laughing at my own expense.

Because I never, ever want to forget these days. All too soon, my boys will be grown up and these days will be gone. And while I could do without the diaper explosions and the temper tantrums, I could never do without the sweet smiles, hugs, sleepy eyes, "I love you"s, the small hands holding mine, and the whispers in the night, telling me that my son has tooted.

I love you, boys!

(by the way, today is Max's 3rd birthday, so I might be feeling a little nostalgic. And sad that he is growing up too fast. And co-dependent. And tired. And brain-fried. And over the moon that my oldest baby is turning 3! But still a little sad. I was already crying by 8:30 am. Stop growing!!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chuck E. Cheese, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways...

So, my brain hurts. Not from over-thinking, but from under-thinking. I have done nothing for three days but play with light sabers, look for lost light sabers, watch light sabers in a Star Wars movie, attach light sabers to action figures with tape...I have been hit in the back with light sabers, smacked in the finger with one, and had my hair pulled because I wouldn't play light sabers. I would be so happy if I didn't see anything related to Star Wars again for a long, long, long time and if I could stay far, far away from any and all light sabers or things that look like light sabers. Ahem.

Please, somebody, call me and tell me about a book you are reading or tell me what is going on in the news or just call me and blurt a bunch of swear words so I feel like I am still an adult with a brain who can react intelligently to information besides what the Bubble Guppies are eating for lunch and whether or not Sam and Freddie are dating on iCarly.

Man, I am all about run-on sentences today...but I can't help it. I'm really reeling from a lack of educational and intellectual stimulation - I'm losing my grammar skills.

Yes, my son's 3rd birthday party was this past Saturday at Chuck E. Cheese and he got Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace as a gift from his grandparents. And that is ALL he has done for the past three days is watch the Darth Maul fight scene over and over and over and over and over and over and ask me to play light sabers with him and then get upset when I have to stop and give some attention to our OTHER child...and my brain hurts.

I have to say, though, that I will never have another birthday party in my home again (okay, except for Harry's 1st birthday party in a few weeks, but after that! I'm done!). It is SO MUCH EASIER to have the party somewhere like Chuck E. Cheese. They do everything for you! They even cut the cake! I was actually available to TALK to other adults and smile and SOCIALIZE! I had forgotten about socializing. All I could remember about it was what I have learned on Yo Gabba Gabba. Don't, don't, don't bite your friends! and You have to wait in's only fair to wait right there!

The party was still exhausting, but I was WAY less stressed. I was almost relaxed. Well, not quite. But almost.

Here are some photos from the big day:





Thank you, Chuck E. Cheese, for keeping me from stroking out this weekend.

And, by the way, today is MY birthday. I am turning 27. I mean, 32. Er, I meant 35. Crap, fine, I'm 37. But, I have the maturity of a MUCH younger woman, so I've got that going for me.

Let's see if I can get out of changing any diapers for the entire day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mr. Grumpy Pants

So, I've got a grumpy one today. I know we are all entitled to our bad days and our baby fits, but man, a toddler in a bad mood is way worse than an adult in a bad moood. Way worse.

From the moment he got up this morning, he has been a Mr. Grumpy Pants.

"Mommy, I want to watch TeeVeeeeeeeeeee."

"Okay, what do you want to watch?"

(a commercial for Special Agent Oso comes on the Disney channel)

"No! I don't like that show!"

"Yes, you do. And besides, this is a commercial, not a show."

"No! I don't like that show!"

"Okay, do you want to watch Mickey Mouse?"


"Do you want to watch Phineas and Ferb?"


"Do you want to watch Jack's Big Music Show?"


"Toot and Puddle?"


(geez - so, I turned on Jake and the Neverland Pirates and he was happy for about 2 seconds)

"Mommy, I want some chocolate milk."

"Okay, what do we say when we want someone to do something for us?"


"Nope, that's not it. What do we say?"


"It starts with a "puh" and ends in a "lease"."


"You aren't getting any chocolate milk until you say the magic word."


About 10 minutes later, after he finally said "please", I brought him his chocolate milk - he took one look at it and threw it over his shoulder. Moody!!

"Mommy, I need help. Put Darth Maul's light saber on him for me."

"You can do it. I know you can!"

"NO! I CAN'T!"

"Yes, you can. And I am driving, Max. I have to look at the road. I can't do it right now."


"Just try, Max. You are going to have to do it yourself."

So, finally, he tries and does it himself.

"Mommy! Look I did it! I put his light saber on him!"

"Yay! Good job! See, you are such a smart cookie!"


I have accepted that I am not going to win today.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Motherhood is difficult, no matter how you slice the Xanax

So, I have never pretended that motherhood is easy for me. Motherhood is the biggest challenge I have faced and no adult could ever scare me again after surviving day to day life with a hyperactive, aggressive 2 year old and an infant.

And really, my blog is about my struggle with being a stay-at-home mom. I can't read the sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows motherhood blogs where every post is about how much they love their lives and love being a mom and how ADORABLE their children are and how cute it is when their son puts the TV remote in the toilet.

That is not cute to me - now the remote doesn't work and so you have to get up to turn the channels but what mother has the energy to do that, so you have to disinfect the remote and wait for it to dry out and now you can't watch TV and escape from the fact that your child won't stop asking you the same question every five seconds.

My blog is more of a stabbing chest pains, upset stomach, and throbbing stress headache type of motherhood blog. I have no shame filter (anyone who has ever dated me could tell you this after we broke up and they caught me driving by their house with my head ducked down to see if I could catch a glimpse of them - and don't judge, you know you did it too), so I will tell you just about anything. I have no feelings filter either. My heart is smeared all over my sleeve.

Now, I love my children just as much as the sunshine, lollipops and rainbows moms (we will call them the SLRMs) - I can't imagine my life without them. But I have trouble giving up my entire life to my kids, husband and dog. I like eating my food while it is still hot. I like peeing without an audience. I like watching the news. I like talking to adults. I like getting a chance to make my coffee before noon. I like using words besides, "no", "quit", "stop" and I like saying sentences besides, "Stop hitting your brother", "No, I don't know where Darth Maul's light saber is", "If you hit me with that light saber one more time, I am going to take it away!" and "Don't get out of bed again, please." I like getting dressed without a toddler stealing my makeup brushes and using them to paint his Star Wars action figures. I like getting to take care of myself when I am sick. I like reading a magazine or a book and actually making it past the front cover.

Sometimes, on the motherhood side of things, I understand why Sylvia Plath put her head in the oven. Although, I'd probably be in there looking for cookies. Being a mom is tough. No matter how much you love your children, it is so tough. Cookies can help.

I guess what I am trying to say to all you moms out there who are having a hard time is: Don't let the SLRMs make you feel bad about your ability to be a good mom. It is okay to not always enjoy motherhood. It is okay to wish your kids would go away for awhile so you can breathe and sit down. Sometimes, you've just gotta go crazy, be silly and sing, dance...although my toddler always screams, "DON'T DO THAT!" when I dance, so I'm back to eating cookies out of the oven.

Just remember, you aren't alone. Give me a call or send me an email. I'm probably crying, too. Or at least chewing ibuprofen while looking for the corkscrew.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Birfday Farty

So, we have a lot of birthday parties coming up in the family. My son is having his 3rd birthday party in 2 weeks and it is pretty much all he talks about. And he's driving me crazy.

"Mommy, I want to go to my birfday farty."
"Can we go to my birfday farty now?"
"I want to go to Chuck E. Cheese for my birfday farty."
"I'm goin' to my birfday farty now."
"Daddy, I want to go to my Star Wars birfday farty at Chuck E. Cheese."
"I want my Star Wars cake now."
"I want to eat Yoda farty cupcakes."
"I want my birfday farty cake to have Luke Skywalker and Darf Vader with Luke Skywalker hanging off like this:" (then he hangs from the side of the couch or the TV stand or Harry's crib)
"I want Darf Maul on my birfday farty cake."
"I WANT TO GO TO MY BIRFDAY FARTY NOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!!!!!" (and then some fake crying)

He asks about his birfday farty at least 10 times a day. And really, if it wasn't for the adorable fact that he can't say his "p's" or "th's" and uses an "f" instead, which always makes me laugh inside, I might go insane.

Three days after his farty, I will have my 3oth birfday farty. Okay, okay, it will be my 37th birfday. Whatever. Then, 5 days after that will be Max's actual 3rd birfday, so we will want to celebrate again. Then, 11 days after that will be Harry's 1st birfday (small family farty) and then we will have a bigger birfday farty for him 2 days later.

I'm tired just typing all that.

I am going to be all fartied out by mid-September.

But then, oh then, I will have my husband's 40th birfday farty to plan in November. I have trouble believing I am old enough to be married to someone who is going to be 40 years old. And that my 20 year highschool reunion is next year. And that my phone says it is 109 degrees outside.

I need a nap.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Yellow. How you haunt me from the seat of my toilet.

So, I love yellow. It is my favorite color. Yellow is full of joy. Yellow is soft and kind, strong and full of heat! Yellow is happy. Yellow is the color of the sun, the ruling planet of the fierce and loyal Leo woman (I'm a fierce and loyal Leo - or at least a stubborn one). And yellow looks good on me (of course there is a little bit of vanity thrown in...I mean, I am a Leo. Olive green makes me look sick and atrocious, therefore, olive green is not my favorite).

There are times, however, when a color will haunt me - with its brightness, for example (any neon color), or putridness (like olive green - again, not my favorite - funny, olive green is my husband's favorite color - go crazy with that you marriage counselors) or what a color represents.

This is one of those times.

Yellow has become my enemy because of this:

and this...

Our bathroom.

Go ahead and make icky, pukey faces. I do it every time I walk in there.

Now, I've had a yellow bathroom before. In my single lady days, I lived in an apartment with my best friend and this apartment had a canary yellow bathroom. And I LOVED IT. The color would have been a little much for most people, but that color sang happy songs to me every morning when I took a shower. Almost made up for the fact that the landlady didn't tell us before we moved in that two people had been murdered in our apartment a few years before. Almost.

Anyway, my husband and I bought this house three years ago and my husband remodeled most of it. However, we couldn't afford to remodel the bathrooms. So, both bathrooms look like abandoned subway bathrooms. I think even a homeless person would turn his or her nose up to my bathroom. No thanks, I'll bathe in the sewer system. It looks like it smells better.

This bathroom in particular has been the bane of my life for three years. I dread taking showers because the bathtub is so old and porous that it always looks stained and dirty. There is a window in the shower with a wood sill that is rotting from the moisture. The shower is encased in cheap, yellowed, plastic panels instead of tile. Mold and mildew grow on the caulking at a rapid rate and we can't keep re-caulking it. The flooring is a pattern straight out of the disco in Saturday Night Fever.

I cringe when someone comes over and and asks to use the bathroom because I don't want its appearance to reflect negatively on my family. We really aren't swamp people, but if you judge us by our bathroom, you would think we are filthy pigs. Or that we at least have a drug problem.

Sitting on the toilet is the worst. There is nothing to do on the toilet, besides the obvious. So I sit and stare at the dirty color of the bathroom until my disdain for the cowardly wood paneling becomes so great that I finally pull out my phone and play Bejeweled so I don't have to look at it anymore.

Now, psychologically speaking, this bathroom represents things about me that I don't like and have tried to change over the years...blah blah blah...which is one reason I am so embarrassed and frustrated by it.

In my family, I have been perceived as the unorganized, messy member and I have tried very hard to change that perception of me in recent years (although, since having 2 boys, I've pretty much given up on ever being organized or clean again). Second, my embarrassment of it obviously brings up some self worth issues. And, I don't want the bathroom to ever affect our boys. I want it fixed more than anything before they get old enough to be embarrassed by it, as well. Also, the continued presence of this ugly bathroom has just been a constant reminder to me that we can't afford to fix it. It represents financial strain and failure. And emotional exhaustion.

Now. This is all about to change. Look at it now!

Ta Dah!

Okay, so these pictures are a little anti-climatic. The bathroom actually looks worse, but these pics are signs of progress! And progress is gooooood...

This past weekend, after a few sincere, fed up, and embarrassed tears from me, my husband ripped out the shower paneling, then found that there was moldy sheet rock underneath, so he ripped that out, then found horrendous 1960's aluminum pink tile underneath that, so he ripped most of the tile out. Then, he thought he might as well get rid of the bathtub too, so he grabbed an axe and a sledgehammer and busted out our cast iron tub.

Now, we have no real plans about what is going to happen next. This was kind of an impulse demolition spurred on by emotion and a need for change. My husband loves me and didn't want to see me continue to be upset, so he crushed that ugly bathroom like an ant.

And I have complete faith that this will work out. Don't know how or when, but the progress in itself has given me a great feeling of hope and excitement. I never have to look at that rotting window sill or moldy caulking again. And that makes my smile really, really BIG.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Crazy-making Car Talk

The scene: Trapped in a hot car with my 2 year old, driving anywhere, most likely to 2 year old's occupational therapy session at the Sunshine School.


2 year old: Where'd Daddy go?

Me: Daddy went to work.

2 year old: I want to go to work, toooooo.

Me: Well, someday you will get to go to work and you can make lots and lots of money and take care of Mommy and Daddy.

2 year old: I want to go to work noooowww.

(2 seconds of silence)

2 year old: Where'd Lindley go? (she is the neighbor across the street)

Me: She is probably at her house.

2 year old: Where'd Lindley go?

Me: I just told you. She is probably at her house.

2 year old: Where'd Lindley go?

Me: (breathing deeply and starting to go crazy) I don't know.

2 year old: Where'd Daddy go?

Me: I already told you. Daddy went to work.

2 year old: Where'd Daddy go? I want Daddy.

Me: You can see Daddy after Sunshine School.

2 year old: Where'd Sunshine School go?

Me: Same place it was on Tuesday. We are driving there right now.

2 year old: Where'd Harry go?

Me: Harry is at home with Grandma.

2 year old: Where'd Grandma go?

Me: She is at our house with Harry.

2 year old: Where'd our house go?

Me: (Ohmygosh please stop talking!!! I am about to pull this car over and put myself in a ditch) Our house is where it always is. Still sitting on our street.

2 year old: Where'd our street go? Where'd Lindley go?

And I couldn't wait until he started talking because people always talk about how kids say the darndest things and aren't they just adorable? Clearly I was misinformed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What the H-E-double toothpicks am I doing with two boys?

So, look at me writing three posts in a row! The world might be coming to an end.

And if it does, well, that would have been fine with me this morning because I was mortified. By my 2 year old. Totally embarrassed.

For those of you who don't live in our area, there is a great place for toddlers called Boingo Bounce. It is just a big room with bouncy houses and blow-up slides. You would think the perfect place for toddlers to run like mad and not get hurt.

That is until my 2 year old walks through the door. He might as well have been carrying a stun gun and one of those clobber sticks with the spikes.

You see, as great as Boingo Bounce is for kids, it is also very loud. Children are screaming, the music is at rock concert levels, there is the constant whir of air pumps blowing up the facilities. So, if your child has a sensory disorder and is prone to overstimulation like mine, then this place is like the Wild West. Limited law and order, children drunk with bouncy house fun, parents running to and fro trying to find their children in the chaos. For someone like my son, it can be crazy-making.

At one point, I was carrying Harry, my 10-month old, around the room trying to find Max. And then I saw her. Another mother lean down to a boy I couldn't see (he was behind a plastic palm tree) and ask him who his mother was. I walked over to the palm tree, praying that she wasn't talking to my son. The other mother looked up and said, "Is this your son?" As I looked around the palm tree, I was still praying. Peering, peering around... Crap. It was Max. My heart sank.

She told me, in a very sweet way which I very much appreciated, that Max had been pulling other kids down the stairs to the slide and had scared two little kids so much that they were afraid to play on the slide anymore. I was appalled. Embarrassed. Mortified. The other mother was kind and not rude whatsoever, but I wanted to sink into the floor.

And then I looked at Max. I know what he looks like when his senses are starting to spin out of control. His face was red, he was hot, his eyes were glassy, he couldn't focus on what I was saying, he couldn't think straight. We had been there for 45 minutes and it was time to go.

Now, I realize that this episode was my fault. I know better than to not supervise Max at all times. Steve and I have never been able to visit with other parents at birthday parties, BBQs, neighborhood block parties, etc. because Max is not one of those children who can be in a party atmosphere and not get overstimulated and aggressive. His senses can't work together efficiently enough to keep him balanced in loud environments. We always have to leave parties early.

But, I guess my excuse is that for once, I wanted to be like those other mothers I saw sitting on the floor of Boingo Bounce, playing with their babies and having adult conversations while their older children played in the bouncy houses. I wanted to sit down and actually get to talk to the mother of the little girl we came with. I wanted to have an adult conversation. I wanted to enjoy myself, too. I stay at home all day everyday with a toddler and a baby and I just wanted to talk, too. It's a poor excuse, I guess, but it's the truth.

I now know the sitting-on-the-floor dream of mine will remain a dream for a while. And that's okay. But really, what in the H-E-double toothpicks was God, the Universe, doing when He decided it was a good idea to give me two boys? And what were my boys thinking when their happy souls decided to come back to Earth and choose me as their mother?

I know nothing about boys. I didn't have a brother and all but one of my cousins are girls.

I am not hyperactive.

I am not aggressive.

I don't like loud noises.

I don't like sweating or dirt.

I don't like woodsy areas.

I don't like bugs.

I don't like sports.

I don't like camping (this kinda goes hand-in-hand with the sweating, dirt and bugs thing)

I don't think poop and boogers and farting are funny (okay, sometimes farting is funny).

I don't like peeing outside.

I don't have a well of energy that never dries up.

I like to read. I like quiet. I like poetry. I like being still. I like Barbies.

What were they thinking?

Maybe they were thinking that I would love them, which I do more than anyone I've ever loved before. Maybe they were thinking that I would try my best, which I do, everyday, although sometimes I feel like it isn't good enough. And maybe they were thinking that despite my shortcomings, missteps, and imperfections, I would be a good mother. And I hope I am.

And maybe someday, I will get to sit down with the other mothers, too....but, we'll see. Let's not get crazy, now.

My Sick (cough, cough) Baby Harry

So, Harry. My precious 10-month old baby. This is him on the Fourth of July in his red, white and blue. And his snotty nose. And his pink eye infection.

Another picture of him with his mysterious pink eye - no idea where he got it because he doesn't go anywhere, but he sure did pass it on to his little 8-month old cousin, Cardin!

Since January, Harry has had one sickness after another. If it is common and he can catch it, he will. As you all know, he had a constant ear infection from January through April, so he finally got tubes put in during the last week of April. He has terrible environmental allergies, so he continuously has a runny nose, which inevitably turns into a sinus infection every time. In his short life, he has been on so many different antibiotics.

Then, a few days before July 4th, he woke up with his eyes crusty, red and swollen (we were having family pictures taken that day, too). The next day, both eyes were glued shut. Naturally, it was a Sunday and a holiday weekend, so we had to call the after hours clinic and the doc called in eye drops and told us it was most likely conjunctivitis.

As his eyes cleared, his nose got snottier and he began to pull at his ear. On Friday morning, his right ear started oozing brown goo, so I took him to the doctor and he determined that in addition to another ear infection and sinus infection, Harry has asthma. Fantastic.

So, off we went to buy an inhaler and a chamber mask. And more antibiotics. He is just beginning to get used to the mask. He hated it at first, but I have let him play with it so he isn't as afraid of it.

Over the weekend, he started getting better. Yesterday was his 9 month well-child check-up (even though he is 10 months old. We are a little behind due to a couple of snow storms at the beginning of the year). At the 9 month appt, the nurses prick their big toe to check their iron levels, and wouldn't you know it. Harry is borderline anemic.

I swear! This poor child can't seem to get healthy! It is hard to watch your child feel cruddy so often, not to mention all the money we have spent on doctor's bills, hospital bills, medicine, anesthesiologists, etc. My husband is going to have to get a third job just to pay for it all (Steve also had a bone graft done that wasn't covered by insurance and I had a cervical biopsy done that wasn't covered because my endometriosis and history of abnormal pap smears are pre-existing conditions - don't you just love insurance companies! :))

Despite it all, Harry is always in good spirits! He is an inspiration to me. Your kids can teach you a lot. He has been sick for almost 7 months straight, but he still giggles and smiles and enjoys every minute. And yes, I am aware that he hasn't had a chance to be jaded or hurt or fearful of what lies ahead, but that is what I love. He doesn't worry about the next minute or the next hour or the next day. He feels safe and he knows he will be taken care of. He just wants to have fun.

I want to be more like that. I want to find that feeling of safety and peace. I work for it, I strive toward it. I search ...I am always searching for it ...

I'll find it!