Archive | April, 2012

The kid’s gone crazy

30 Apr

So I know we all feel like our kids are heathens sometimes; unruly, disobedient, the worst of the worst. And when, through some inexplicable turn of events, you find yourself to be the parent of the worst of the worst, well, there’s truly nothing worse. Unfortunately for the adult contingent, there are no rules when it comes to the parent-child standoff. No three steps in the opposite direction before turning to fire. No rules of engagement to reduce operational risk, or define appropriate constraints and stuff (thank-you Wikipedia).

Anyway, I’ve felt this way periodically since my first son was born, initially when he was screaming his infant lungs out at Target because I’d miscalculated his feeding time, then at the park when I pulled the “I’m pretending to walk to the car without you” move, and many times over in various parking lots, frozen food sections, and notoriously in the middle of a school assembly.

The only saving grace is that with my first son the operative word has always been “periodically”. There was always that “oh crap I forgot to change your diaper so that’s why you’re screaming” moment, or “oh right, you skipped your nap three days in a row so I’ll forgive your delirious headbutting” allowance. With number two, however, all rules have changed. His tantrums are chronic, decisive, and unwelcome accessories to our daily routine.

Take today, for instance. When I picked the little dude up from school all seemed well and good. He even reported that one of his teachers was out sick so he had to be Ms. Gina’s “assistant” in the classroom (Ms. Gina is apparently a saint). He ate a hearty snack in the car on the way to art class, and sat through the hour like a champ. He was proud of his finished picture and didn’t hit his brother or friend in the back seat on the way to hip hop. And for the first ten minutes of big bro’s dance class he even sat on my lap and watched like a benign and obedient four year old. I was seriously dewy eyed – and judiciously deceived.

We all know when our children are teetering on the brink of a breakdown. Today I made the mistake of ignoring the warning signs. The restless pulling of my sweater, twitchy inability to sit still, high pitched whining over the sub-par volume of the Fart app. These were all warning signs; ones that I know, but carelessly ignored. Until he headbutted me. And, as outlined above, all rules were out the window.

There’s more to the story, but it’s not really relevant except to say that we oscillated between peace and power struggle for the next few minutes until little dude was overcome by the apparent urge to sock me in the kneecap. For that he landed some hard “thinking time” in the car while I pretended not to hear him breathing fire at me from outside. And though he fell asleep on the drive home, I can’t justify the kid’s behavior because he was tired; he’s four years old and does this every-single-day between 3 and 6 pm. We call it witching hour, and it’s grating on my already over-taxed mom nerves.

So tonight I’ll do what I always do: pour a glass of wine and turn to the parenting books. You should see my bedside table. Really, it’s a wealth of psychological insight…and vampire romance. Both essential for effective parenting. At times like this I wonder if I’ve got it right, if my I’ll-show-you-by-trapping-you-in-the-car parenting is whittling my son into one of those teenage cat slayers. If all of his spitting, hitting, scratching, and biting are a sign that I didn’t hug him enough as a baby (he’s really snuggly…maybe he needed more?). Or maybe today he really was just…tired?

What I do know is that for all of his challenges that little bugger is worth the fuss. Contrary to how it seems at the moment (to both you and me, I assure you) the kiddo is overwhelmingly loving, he’s audacious, he’s 100% boy (except for that whole pink cake and puppy party thing). And although his brand of tantrum is twice the storm of his brother’s, I guess I kinda’ can’t blame him. After all, I know perfectly well who he gets it from 😉

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Puppy Party

28 Apr

As you may know little dude turned 4 this month, and today marked the arrival of his long awaited Puppy Party. I am remiss to say that this was his first solo birthday party (mean mommy makes him share with his brother…), but justify it with the knowledge that he won’t remember much of those years anyway. It’s how I live with myself.

With parties growing bigger and better every year in our neighborhood, I asked the little guy with trepidation a couple of months ago what he wanted to do to celebrate. He waffled for a week or two, as four year olds are prone to do, then stated definitively that he wanted a puppy party. And pink cake. So with the help of google I made it happen. When I had envisioned how today would look I dreamed of a throwback to the simpler days. The times when a birthday party meant some kids, some parents, and some cake in the front yard. Bam, done. So that’s what we did. Well, that plus 10 puppies.

On my end the goal was simplicity, and, hallelujah, Idunnit! I even had time to enjoy little dude’s buddies from school and a group of beautifully interesting parents, all wrapped up in one wholesome afternoon. And energy on top of that to share pics the very same day? Miraculous! I may even get to thank-you notes this afternoon…ah who am I kidding. I’m totally napping instead.

Still, this must be the kind of party that bears repeating, maybe even year after year. If he’s lucky.

The cupcakes

The candy

Gorgeous custom cupcake toppers by The Paper Perfectionist!

This makes me smile.

The party

Old fashioned refreshments

Pup-corn

Dog chow (aka: coco puffs)

Chew Stix

Hot Dogs

Bone-wiches

The puppies (look mom, no rabies!)

Mama painted faces. That’s one happy pup.

The Pup-cakes!

Four years old…really, so soon?

Birthday song. My favorite part.

Adopt-a-Puppy station

Love..to…snuggle. This is the little man in his happy place.

After party swim for the birthday boy.

Somebody put a fork in that kid – he is DONE!

So I have to give credit where credit is due and thank Val Marini, The Paper Perfectionist, for her wonderful cupcake toppers, banners, party favor tags (which went around the adopted puppies necks), and thank-you cards. And apparently my mom knows as well as y’all do that I don’t do dishes…so she did them all for me. Mom, you are really somethin’. Thank-you. And also my bestie who took the kids post-party for a sleepover. Whaaat? And another friend is picking me up tonight to head out to a really loud concert! My favorite kind.

Really, this could be the best day ever. Happy birthday buddy. I love you so crazy much.

What I didn’t do today

27 Apr

1) Pack lunches or take the kids to school (cue victory cry). In our house Friday is “Papa Day” which means that the kids eat a wholesome breakfast of cinnamon and sugar toast, get themselves dressed in 45 seconds, and have plenty of time left to watch Bubble Guppies before my husband drives them to school. But not before he throws me the snide “Don’t I make this look easy” look. Yes, honey, you do. You and Nick Jr.

2) Shower at the gym. Which proved to be a mistake since my quick dash out for groceries after yoga turned into 2 hours at 3 different stores…and me, the stinky mom in the bread aisle.

3) Go into the office. I admit it – I love working from home! Especially when it allows me to sidetrack and prep for my little dude’s 4th birthday party tomorrow. It’s a Puppy Party. With 10 real live puppies. Really, there’s a company that does that. It could be magical, or a child could end up with rabies. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

4) I didn’t not get a tattoo. That’s a double negative. Which means that I did! I actually got 2, which completes my half sleeve (happy dance!). I got a compass with the boys’ birth flowers behind it, and an anchor with Kevin’s birth flower and a banner that says “steadfast”. I’d post a pic but I’m swollen and in pain, so instead here’s a shot I snapped of the drawing. More pics next week!

Aren’t Fridays the best day not to do stuff! Try it next week. You’ll like it. Happy weekend, friends!

A legacy worth living for

20 Apr

A friend pointed out to me today that in numerous religions from varying parts of the world it is believed that after passing the soul exists in a waiting period for exactly 30 days. One full month, waiting, in that space between heaven and earth. Whether or not you believe in heaven isn’t relevant because what I’m getting at isn’t about religion or really about death even. It’s about life. My life and the lives of my children, about my husband, and how we will memorialize the life within his father’s 62 short years with every thought, every word, and every action we make from now on.

Our time here is precious. And when it ends for someone you love all wind is lost; your breath, the breeze, the atmosphere. Space and time implode and never will return to the way you knew them to be just one small moment ago. Days pass, then weeks, and somewhere in-between you realize that the world is still turning, that it has a momentum which will move on with or without you. So you hold on…or you don’t. Some hours are easier than others. Then more are easier than not. You wonder if maybe someday what people say will be true for you too, that your life will return to some semblance of normal – never as it was before – but normal. At least that’s what they say.

And to that I reply…I guess I don’t want things to be normal. Now or ever again. Because what I found in the 30th day after my father-in-law’s passing must be something he wanted me to have. It’s something I’ve been chasing for years, from the moment I became a caffeine driven business owning mother of two, maybe. Something that I ached for and tried to grasp at for years but could never seem to possess for long before letting it slip through my hands. With as much as I strove for, it was the one thing that consistently eluded me until now. And I have him to thank for it.

Last week I canceled two of my son’s extracurricular classes. I didn’t schedule new ones, or fill the time with more “to-do’s”. This means that for the three days in the middle of the week, I am free to bring my boys home from school at 3:10 and spend the entire afternoon with them. No agenda, no plans, no expectations. Just time. Time together. At the risk of revealing my dark underbelly, I will admit that I struggled always just to “be”. In a park, at the beach, and yes, even at home with my children. Multitasking was not just a tool, it was a compulsion. Checking e-mail on my phone, tapping at the keys of my laptop, nose stuffed in a book. With all of the commitment that I had made for my physical body to be present for my children before and after school hours, my mind  was oftentimes preoccupied, stuck in a cloud, otherwise engaged.

Until, suddenly, I returned. Present. Intent only upon the seconds that I have been afforded in this day; acknowledging that no touch is more valuable, no word more meaningful than the ones we share this minute. I wish I could identify the switch that’s been flipped or bottle a tonic to cure the human condition I was suffering. I wince to think of the hours of thought and analysis it would have saved me. But I guess that it’s fitting, coming from the girl who needs to feel it herself to know it as truth.

I’m so sorry that it took the loss of a loved one to make me believe in presence, in pace, in peace. But I thank him for a gift and a legacy that will touch the lives of his grandchildren. A gift which I swear to pass onto them, through them.

Rest in Peace, Raymond Edward Perrault. Your legacy is safe with us.

Dog days

16 Apr

I willingly risk contempt by admitting that I have this serious – nearly inhuman – aversion to posting adorable animal pictures online. Myself, I mean. I can smile and laugh heartily all day at other people’s cats batting at lasers and invisible hot air, it’s just I just can’t bring myself to forward or facebook anything pet related. Until now.

See, my dog is ridiculous looking. Just sitting there he’s pathetic enough to be kissed. Behold, “The Tooth”.

What, might you ask, inspired this sudden burst of pet picture posting? Well, I’ll be honest. It was guilt. Guilt over the fact that my beautiful SLR camera and stunning lens are, much to their disdain, forced to reside in the AUTO setting most, well, all of the time. That and I’ve been recently inspired by my amazing photographer friend Alice, and the super informative camera tutorials of one of my faves, Ree Drummond.

Combine inspiration with a little technical know-how and those awww-that’s-cute-wish-I-caught-it-on-camera moments can turn into kinda’ halfway decent snapshots.

And a dog wearing a hat is funny too, yes?

With Elvis as my first (unwilling) test subject I am already on the road to becoming a better version of my earlier snap and shoot self. And since I did take more than a few photography classes in art school forever ago I might as well act like it and take the camera off of the blessed AUTO setting once in a while. Look at those eyes. They’re begging for a close-up.

I would highly recommend picking up your camera – SLR or otherwise – and taking a peek to see if there are any buttons you’ve yet to press. Then consult your trusty user’s manual and see what there is to see. I, surprisingly, recommend taking some pics of your pets. Or your kids. And if you can manage to get them both in the same shot then yay you!

Try it. You’ll like it.

Here’s one more. Elvis says goodbye:

PS. I made dinner AND did the dishes tonight. Had to document it publicly just in case someone ever insinuates I never did anything for him….as out of character as that would be.