Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trick-or-treating tonight? Yeah. Not so much.


So what kind of mom takes away trick-or-treating from her kids?

This mom.


But it had to be done.

Tough love sucks.

So...tonight is the "official" trick-or-treat night for most of the towns and suburbs here in our metropolitan area, even though it's only Thursday, October 29. Luckily, our suburb has trick-or-treating on the actual day of Halloween. Huh. Imagine that. Who would think to actually trick-or-treat on Halloween? Shocking, indeed.

My sister's nearby town has it tonight, so I told my kids that we could go trick-or-treating there for a little bit. They were more than excited for two nights of Halloween candy, and Bill and I were looking forward to spending some time with my sister and brother-in-law, since they are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first baby...oh...about any second now.

But then a shitstorm happened. And we had to shut it all down.

I try not to use obscenities or swear words in this blog. But sometimes, no matter how hard I try to search for the perfect word to accurately describe a situation, sometimes the perfect word just happens to be a swear word.

Thesaurus? Can you fix my potty mouth?

So yeah. A shitstorm happened. As in: a storm-o-shitty behavior that rips through the house like a hurricane. Or a tsunami. And threatens to destroy everything in its path with its colossal terribleness. Things may get broken or thrown. Kids are punished. It's a cacophony of tantrums, if you will. Just imagine if every child in your house (whether you have one child or 18 children) was on their worst behavior, all at the same time.

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, a shitstorm.

And we had a big 'un here tonight.

They're kind of like the apocalypse.

Well, not really. Now I'm just being dramatic.

Anyhoo, they don't happen very often, but when they do, I'm all, Calgon take me away. Like now. Pretty please?

I'm not sure what even started it. The kids were a bit grumpy and tired today anyway. Maybe it was because of the eight tons of crappy, refined sugars they consumed yesterday on George's birthday, a.k.a. Junk Food Day 2009. Maybe there's a full moon tonight. Maybe the earth is off its axis. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

I'll spare you the glorious deets. I'm sure you've been there. Bad behavior. Warning, warning, warning. Blah. Blah. Blah. Kids thinking you're bluffing. You reminding yourself that you have to be strong and stay consistent. You can't issue warnings you have no intention of carrying out. Don't go writing checks your ass can't cash.

All that I know is that I was fed. up. Bill was fed. up. He suggested that we pull the plug on trick-or-treating entirely.

One minute I was all, "Hey kids! Let's be good and get ready to go trick-or-treating at Aunt Cettie's! It's going to be fun!" (Kids fighting, screaming, calling each other stupid-heads)

Then the next minute I was all, "Well, hello there check, my ass has endorsed you, and is now ready to cash you."

And that, fair readers, was how Pre-Halloween 2009 got blown up. Shut down.

For reals.

I guess it was easy for us to make that decision, because it's not really Halloween tonight. We still have the real one to look forward to on Saturday. But it's hard sometimes to stick to my guns, and be the meanie.

But it had to be done.

And I don't regret it.

Bill and I don't mind being the bad guys, if it means teaching them a lesson. We love these kids. They are everything to us.

But still.

It sucks sometimes.

I wanted to have fun with them tonight. Instead, I'm the Mayor of Punishment City.

This job is hard.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Television is not the root of all evil and stupidity.

NEWS FLASH: Television done did made you're kidz stoopid.


You know, dumb as a box of rocks. A few sandwiches short of a picnic. The dimmest bulb on a Christmas tree. The dullest knife in the drawer.

I am warning you! If your kids watch television, especially before the age of two, you might as well forget college. Or high school for that matter. You'll be lucky if they make it through grade school.

And it's all your fault.

Okay. To clarify here, I'm talking about the recent news story that Disney is being sued for asserting that "Baby Einsteins" will make your kid a smartie.

They are offering coupons for Disney products, or up to $15.99 per video (up to 4 videos) if you want to return your Baby Einstein videos because...gasp...the video did not turn your kid into a genius. (For more info, click here.)

And to think that the "Baby Einsteins" videos were all part of our retirement plan. Bill and I bought the videos thinking that our kids would enter college at the age of 8, and then become a famous doctor/scientist/mega-genius who would support Bill and I into our old age.

Darn you, Baby Einsteins. I feel so used. So violated. So misled.

Do you remember the Saturday Night Live "Weekend Update with Seth and Amy" segment simply called, "Really?"

That's what comes to mind when I think of this topic.

Really? You really thought that a videotape could make your kid smarter?

Really? You might swim in the shallow end of the brain pool yourself, but you thought, "Mmmmkay. I'll just buy this here video, and Junior's gonna git into Harvard. 'Cuz it says so right here on the box. Even though it doesn't say so on the box. But the name has Einstein in it, and he was smart, so it must be so."

Really? You really thought that you could just plunk your kid in front of the TV for hours, with no interaction, and that was a good thing?

I am not questioning the validity of this lawsuit against Disney and Baby Einstein. I am not a lawyer. Perhaps there was a point to this class-action lawsuit. Perhaps somewhere along the way, maybe they did imply that if your child watched this video, his I.Q. would soar. Perhaps.

But doesn't this really come down to an issue of common sense as parents? And aren't we smarter than that?

What's next? Are we going to sue the makers of footballs and baseballs because they are making our children believe that they will grow up to be professional athletes?

Darn you, Louisville Slugger. There goes our other retirement plan.

Personally, I love the Baby Einstein videos. They were all the rage back in 2000, when I had my first child, Charlie. The concept is so simple, yet so entertaining. The music is sweet and soft, and the images on the screen are of little toys, or a picture of an animal, along with the word. They even have a video teaching them words from different languages.

I can still picture my little babies happily kicking their feet as they lay on the floor, propped up by a Boppy pillow, watching the video, or eating Cheerios in their Exer-Saucer while the images flashed on the screen.

It's now deep, dark, confessions time. I let my kids watch TV before the age of two. I also let them watch Baby Einstein videos. And...brace yourself...I occasionally let the television babysit (if that's what they're calling it) one or more of my children while I made a phone call, cooked dinner, or just needed a moment or two to regain my sanity.

Here's the worst part: I don't regret any of it for a single second.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has long cited statistics that say that TV can be linked to hyperactivity, lack of focus, and trouble with language. I have no reason to doubt many of these statistics. I trust the AAP. But I also think that with every statistic, there are many uncontrollable factors there that come into play.

For example, for every 2-year old that watched television, and knew less vocabulary words than the non-TV-watching 2-year old, what was their environment like? Was the TV on all day, or just at intermittent times with great, high-quality programming like Sesame Street, Blues Clues and Dora the Explorer? Did the child also play outside at some point during the day? Did the child make a trip to the grocery store with a parent who talked with them about what they were buying, as in, "Look at the red apples Mommy is putting in the cart! Do you want to help Daddy find the orange cheese crackers?" Did that child have siblings to interact with? When the TV was off, was the child playing with blocks, puzzles and other toys? Did the child ever listen to music in the kitchen with Mom and have dance parties while they emptied the dishwasher together or set the kitchen table? Did they also take walks outside to talk about nature? Did they ever make a trip to the zoo?

Because my children did all of the above and more, aaaaaaand they watched TV. They still do.

And I would like to believe that none of them is a babbling idiot.

I try really hard to be a good parent. I strive to be creative, I want stimulate my kids' brains by taking them fun places, and doing things with them. But I am also a realist. I believe in certain things in moderation. And TV is one of them. (Candy is another. But that's a different topic for another day. Halloween is coming and I will let them eat junky, trashy, sugary, yummy candy. Just not all of it at once.)

If you are a mother who does not let their child watch any television at all, I am not trying to convince you to do as I say. However, I am very curious, and maybe somewhat in awe of you. How do you do it? How do you take a long car trip to Virginia Beach without a video or two? How do you fold and put away those five loads of laundry without the assistance of "Dinosaur Train"? How do you make that important phone call without seeking the help of Steve or Joe from "Blue's Clues"? How do you not go insane without a few moments of your children sitting in silence on the couch at least once in awhile?

I know so many wonderful moms. These are women who are caring, whom I admire, whom I look to for advice with this job. And every single one of them lets their child watch TV occasionally. And every single one of them is smart enough to know that a video will not turn their child into a genius. But we do know that high-quality television is not bad for our kids either.

The other day I was shopping at Target with Annabel, and we were looking at toys to buy George for his birthday. She really wanted to check out what was on the end-cap at the end of the aisle, but I was still busy looking at the toys in the middle. "Come on, Mom!" she begged. "Let's go Mom! Vamonos!"

Vamonos? Did Annabel just say, "Vamonos?" Yes she did! And she did not get that from me. She got it from Dora. And she used it in the right context too! See? Television can't be all bad, right?

But that said, I will still not allow television and videos to be my constant babysitter. My kids wouldn't allow it either. They like to play with toys too much. Besides, isn't interaction with our kids the key to stimulating their brains? The best parents talk to their kids, take them places, play with them, go outside with them, and television programs with their kids. How can that interaction with kids be all negative? I don't think it can.

However, I'm still a sucker for a deal, and $15.99 for up to four videos? I'll take it.

Maybe I'll use the money to take the kids to a museum.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nine-year olds are a hoot.

Nine-year old in the house!

Yesterday was Charlie's ninth birthday. A few weeks ago I approached him and suggested a small pizza and cake party here at the house with a few of his besties. But haven't you heard? Those kinds of parties are for babies. The slumber party is where it's at. For nine-year old boys at least.

I dreaded the day when the sleepover party invites started rolling in, because I wasn't ready for it. I'll admit I'm a little overprotective, and I offer no apologies for it. It's a scary world out there, and the thought of just handing over one of my kids to someone I barely know for a whole night freaked me out a bit. It still does. About a year ago, Charlie was invited to his first-ever sleepover party, but I was okay with it, because I knew all the boys attending and I knew the parents. I trust my boy too, and I thought it was time to loosen the apron strings a bit, and I let him attend. He was fine, there was no 3 a.m. crying pick-up call, and since then he's been to one more slumber party. So it was just natural that he wanted to have his own slumber party, which Bill and I finally relented and let him have.

He invited six boys, but only four could attend. I shouldn't use the word "only", because four boys + my three boys = plenty o' boys in my house. Plenty.

The boys are all great kids from wonderful families, with impeccable manners, and I heard many "pleases" and "thank yous". They had a fabulous time. But if any of the parents are reading my blog, I apologize if your son is a bit tired today. The boys all talked a big game, saying that they weren't going to sleep at all. They were going to stay up all night and talk, watch movies, play video games and tell ghost stories. Bill and I nodded our heads at this big-kid bravado, but we were both thinking, "Yeah right. They say that now, but they'll all be passed out by midnight or before."

Well call me a big, fat, chump.

Those boys have stamina and energy that I did not believe was possible. When I say that there was no slumbering at our slumber party, I mean that there was no slumbering at our slumber party. At all. Not a wink. No sleepytime. Nada. Not a snore. Not a drifting eyelid. Noth. Ing. Twinkle, no.

I will never doubt the declarations of a nine-year old boy ever again. I guess when they say what they mean, they mean what they say.

It was all very wholesome fun, so Bill and I didn't have to do really any disciplining, and we turned the TV and video games off around midnight, hoping the Sandman would be along soon to induce them off to dreamland. Didn't happen.

To say that we are bleary-eyed today is a huge understatement. Actually, I shouldn't complain, because I was able to sleep in my big, comfy bed and catch a few winks, but poor Bill slept on the family room couch so he could monitor the goings-on down in the finished basement area.

Therefore, we will be having lights-out at 7:00 p.m. tonight. Or at least trying to.

One of the best parts of the night was eavesdropping on the boys' conversations. It was like reading the most entertaining blog, or watching the most riveting reality show. It was that good. And that hilarious. The topics ranged from the death of Michael Jackson to the death of Billy Mays. Yes, my friends. They're nine. So the sum total that they know of Michael Jackson is that he was a bizarre man who died "after taking too many bad drugs." (I was glad they made this conclusion. Yes kids! Sing it loud and proud! Drugs are bad! Say "no!" to drugs! Drugs kill!) Then the imitations of Billy Mays came out of the woodwork. "KABOOM!" "Oxy-clean!" "The Billy Mays Sandwich Stacker!"

These conversations were golden. It wasn't even necessary for Bill and I to speak. We were happy to just listen and observe.

After dinner and cake, the boys retreated to the basement for a rousing game of "Super Mario Brothers Super Sluggers" on the Wii. They set up their sleeping bags, and George asked me to set up his little shark tent, in which he wanted to sleep. So picture this situation. Me, buried in the jaws of a huge canvas shark, trying to insert tent poles. Five nine-year old boys plus George and Henry, cracking each other up, taking turns playing a Wii game.

While buried in Jaws, I suddenly hear one of the boys say to Charlie, "Charlie! Look! I unlocked Tiny Kong! 'Member I was telling you about her? She's the one that is H-O-T!"

Hot? Did someone just tell my son that a cartoon character was hot? I was intrigued to say the least. These guys are just on the cusp of starting to notice girls, (I am dreading the innocent years being replaced by the hormonal teenage years) so I wanted to see what they were talking about. I managed to extricate myself from the jaws of the great white, and I looked at the TV screen.

It was just in time to hear Charlie say, "Oh yeah! You're right! She is H-O-T!"

And here is our resident hottie:

I almost choked on my laughter. I was dying. Dy. Ing.

She's a monkey, people. With banana ponytails. And a sassy little midriff top. And an oh-so-gangsta streetwear knit cap.


I loved how they spelled, "H-O-T", too. Like it was something to be secretive about.

Ah...youth. the way, kiddos, Mom is 35. She knows a thing or two about spelling.

So there I was, pulling my head out of the shark, thinking I'm going to see this curvaceous hottie cavorting across the screen (well, as curvaceous as they get for a game rated "E" for Everyone) and I see a monkey. A monkey.

Oh, it was just too funny. But of course, I didn't let them see my laughter. On the outside, I was all cool-as-a-cucumber, but on the inside I was all busting out the laughs like it was comedy hour.

"So Char, what's that character's name?" I asked.

"Tiny Kong."

"Is she the H-O-T one?"

I couldn't resist.

"Yeah mom."

"Why is she H-O-T?"

"Well because she's all cute and teenager-ey."

Ah. Interesting. My son likes sassy older women. Good to know.

I thought the boys would go for the cute Princess Peach.

But maybe she's just too wholesome in her cute pink gym shorts, and shirt that actually reaches her waist. She doesn't give away the goodies for free.

Now this is the kind of girl you bring home to mother. Not that floozy, Tiny Kong.

Tiny Kong looks like she wants to cut you if you mess with her. But maybe that's the allure.


Welcome to nine years old. The tweener years are here.

What a ride it has been.

And still loving every minute.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The flu and other things I did today.

Remember that time you said, "Wouldn't it be awesome if I could just spend the whole day in bed or just lying around?"

Yeah. Not so fun.

The flu hit me on Sunday and I've just been laying (or is it lying?) around all day today. It's not the swine variety, it's just your garden variety icky, achy, fevery flu. Besides, didn't you hear? The swine flu isn't allowed in my house. I banned it. That little piggy went to market, that little piggy stayed home, that little piggy had roast beef, and then I banned him from my house.

Wouldn't that be nice?

We were in Michigan this weekend having fun with relatives, celebrating the October birthdays in our house, namely, Charlie and George. I started to feel like crap on our drive back on Sunday afternoon, and when we got home at about 3:00, I barely moved from my bed until morning.

It was great.

Well, minus the chills and fever and achy stuff.

For the rest of the afternoon and evening, I watched trashy DVR-ed shows, and two movies. Lifetime, baby. Who usually has time for that? Bill held down the fort on his own, and I only heard minimal crashing sounds and screaming from the kids. Of course the kids wanted to come in bed with me, because they thought they were missing out on something really exciting, but they realized quickly that Lifetime is no Disney Channel. Besides, Bill kept telling them not to "bother Mommy because she needs her rest to get better."

Love him.

But today wasn't as exciting. I was still feeling sick this morning, and fervently wishing my energy would come back. Unlike Sunday, today I didn't have the luxury of total unproductive laziness, since Bill was at work, and I still had to do the afternoon carpooling, homework duty, after-school snacks, and "CAN I GET A JUICE, PLEEEEASE MOMMY?!?"

Is it bad that I let George play video games and watch television all day? Is it bad that the television was also Annabel's babysitter for about 3 hours straight today? Okay. Who am I kidding? Make it four hours. Is it wrong that I let her sit in her poopy Pull-Up for about a half-hour after her nap because I just didn't have the energy to change it?

I'm sure I'm not the only mom with the flu that did that today.

No guilt trip here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's that time of year...

It's doctor appointment season.

All the yearly appointments for myself, Bill and the kids seem to always fall in October and November, probably because I don't think of it until the end of the year. That's how overwhelmed my brain can get some days. The end of the year looms and I realize I've gotta get on that.

My kids and I have spent our fair share of time in various doctors' offices and waiting rooms over the last few weeks. Good times.

I made appointments with a regular family doctor for Bill and myself. Bill went last week. I tried for an 8 a.m. appointment for me so that I could go by myself and Bill could watch the kids and take the older ones to school. No luck. The earliest appointment they had in the near future was a 9:00. Bill has to leave for work by then. No problem. I decided to bring George and Annabel with me.

This is a new doctor for us because we just moved to Ohio last year, and although the kids have a pediatrician, Bill and I delayed getting a general practitioner because life is busy. Like I said, my appointment was at 9 a.m., but I was supposed to arrive at 8:45 to fill out the paperwork. I arrived at 8:50. Shoot me.

The receptionist at the front desk was put off, to say the least. "Didn't you get the message that said you were supposed to arrive at 8:45?!?!" she greeted me. (Well hello there! It's nice to meet you! Welcome, New Patient!)

"I'm so sorry!" was all I could muster. Like I said, it was only 8:50. I was five minutes "late" even though my appointment didn't start until 9:00. Then I tried to break the tension and I lightly said, "It's always tricky getting out the door with kids!" At those words she violently swiveled around in her chair and spat out, "OH! You brought your KIDS with you?!?"

Seriously. She said it in the exact same shocked/exasperated voice that someone would say, "OH! You brought TWO GOATS AND A BURRO with you?!?"

"Umm....yeah? Sorry?" I said kind of meekly. Did I just apologize for bringing my kids with me? Is there a "No Kids" rule here at the office entitled: (blank) Family Medicine?

(big harrumph) "Well that is just not going to work. Can you do something with them? The doctor CANNOT be distracted during your physical!"

What do you suggest? Should I shove them in the supply closet for 45 minutes? Can they play behind the desk with you, Cranky Pants? I promise they won't spill coffee all over your lovely poo brown blouse and computer keyboard.

I was a little bit shocked, and all I managed to squeak out was, "I'm really sorry." (Enough with the apologizing, Clare.) "I sometimes have no choice but to take my kids to appointments with me, and they're usually pretty good," I said as I turned around and noticed George and Annabel chasing each other around the coffee table in the waiting room.

Okay. I did say they're usually good.

"I have four kids, so at least I only brought two of them with me today!" I chuckled.

She was not amused.

She continued, "Well, then can you call someone? This is going to be a 45 minute appointment and the doctor is not going to be happy about this."

Again. This is (blank) Family Medicine. Surely they have seen a shorty or two in here at some point. I understand that I can't bring my kids everywhere. I'm not the type of person that insists my kids go where I go. There's a time and a place. But come on. It's a freakin' doctor check-up. All the before 8:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m. appointments are booked until January. My gynecologist has never balked about it, and that's way more....ahem...intimate. Surely my kids can sit in a chair in the room while they weigh me, take my blood and ask questions about my overall health.

I'm not a confrontational person, so I didn't say what was on my mind. Luckily I have my blog for that. But I thought about saying, "Well, our live-in nanny is at the grocery store right now planning tonight's gourmet meal, and then after that she has to fold all the laundry, so it's all me today, lady."

But I just apologized again.

And she harrumphed again.

Fortunately the doctor was able to concentrate with my kids present, because after the nurse took my blood work, (2 minutes) the physical took a whopping ten minutes. I was out of there by 9:25. And I don't think I'll be back again because the doctor also had the worst bedside manner I've seen in a long time. Clearly it wasn't just his office staff.

And they say we moms don't take care of ourselves. We make appointments to stay healthy, and then get yelled at for bringing our kids. Like it's a choice. Like we want to bring them with us. Like we want to walk around a tiny room with a gown that opens in the back while our kids sit in chairs reading "the Pokey Little Puppy" and squirming. Sounds like my idea of a good time.

On to the dentist.

Our new dentist is a very nice man, and his office is modern and comforting, but some dentists have a way of messing with a mom's self-esteem.

I said some dentists. Not all.

Bill took the kids to their 7:00 a.m. appointment, and then I met him there at 8:00 a.m., so he could go to work and I could take the kids to school. When I arrived, this dentist, who I had never met up until this point, looked shocked and said to Bill, "This is your wife? Nice to meet you Mrs. so-and-so." Now that I look back on it, after the news he gave me after I met him, I think he was just shocked that Bill did not have a wife from the back country with most of her teeth missing and rotted out of her head.

Because then the dentist pulled me aside and whispered to me that my kids' teeth look like crap.

And of course, it's always the mom's fault when there is a cavity. Or two. Or twelve.

Okay, maybe he didn't use the word "crap". But what he did say was, "Um...I need to talk to you about Charlie and Henry's teeth." Okayyyyy...Bill is right in the other room with the kids, but I guess this isn't his fault, so please, continue doctor. And I kid you not, he said, "' do I say this?'s really...bad." Bad? Bad? Like what are we talkin' here, doc?

And here's the part that cracked me up. He continued, "You know how a car can get rust and corrosion over time? Well, that's kind of like their teeth." had me at "rust" and "corrosion", doc. Moms LOVE when you compare their kids' teeth to an old clunker.

What do you say after that? How do you top that? How do you bounce back from "rust" and "corrosion"?

You don't.

Then he asked if I brushed my kids' teeth for them. I answered, "I help the younger ones still, but the big guys can handle it." But clearly, they cannot handle it. Because their mouths look like a '76 Dodge headed to the scrapyard.

And it's all my fault.

He looked surprised. "You have to help them brush their teeth! Kids cannot be trusted to do this properly on their own!"

Really? An 8-almost-9 year old boy can be trusted to shower and wipe himself, but I have to sit with him at night, and say, "Open wide for Mommy! Pretend the tooth brush is a train and your teeth are the tracks! Chugga chugga choo choo!"

As if.

Needless to say, the boys had a few cavities, like I'm sure most kids do, and they had them filled. Which will last until THOSE BABY TEETH FALL OUT. A dire situation indeed.

I learned my lesson, however, and went out and bought an arsenal. Agent Blue Cool Rinse is what they use before they brush, then they brush with real toothpaste (not the Spongebob kind), and afterwards they use Inspector Hector mouthwash and teeth flosser sticks.

Rust and corrosion be gone.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Battle o' wills.

Do you want to know how I do NOT want to spend my Saturday morning?

Locked in a battle of wills with my children. Specifically Charlie, Henry and George.

It all started yesterday morning. Charlie and Henry were enjoying another day off from school because of a teacher in-service. One of the boys' jobs is to tidy up the basement playroom. I didn't say it has to be perfection, but the floors must be able to be walked upon without the potential of serious injury occurring, i.e. errant Matchbox cars that can stab you in the foot with a tailpipe. My boys think that having to do this weekly job constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Get over it, dudes.

We have been very busy over the last few weeks, so the last time it was cleaned was over three weeks ago. I took a picture of it for you, just so you can get the general gist of why this battle of wills is necessary. Also, to show you that I'm not the unreasonable one in this situation.

And here it is.

I know. It's not that bad, right? Right? Really, it's been much worse in the past.

But this battle of wills isn't so much about the messy basement, because kids = mess, and that's okay. Fun is messy. No, this battle is about the attitude I got when I asked them to clean up the mess.

"Okay guys, let's just quickly clean up the basement this morning, and when we pick up George from school I'll take you to the indoor pool for an afternoon swim." I said casually yesterday.

"Okay!" they all assured me.

Twenty minutes later I looked down there and nothing had been moved even a centimeter, besides the toys they were currently playing with. "Start cleaning now, and if you make some good progress I'll come down there and help you finish the job." I coaxed.

I've learned not to help them from the beginning, because then I end up doing the whole job while they throw a few Thomas trains and tracks in a basket and say, "Wow! Look what a good job we did cleaning this basement!" After I issued my offer of help once they got it started, Charlie said, "No way. I'm not cleaning. I don't have to clean if I don't want to."

Oh no he didn't.

8-almost-9-year old attitude is buckets o' fun.

"Oh yes you are cleaning, Charlie, and if you give me more of that attitude, I'm taking away pool time from you later."

"So what. I hate the pool. The pool is stupid."

"Okay then, you can think of that as you sit in a chair on the side of the pool for 10 minutes."

"Whatever," Charlie spat out.

"Wanna make it 20 minutes, Charlie?" I retorted.

I know he got "whatever" from me. I say it all the time. I'm either tempted to swear in front of them, which I can't, or I say, "Whatever." It's a great way to sum up your frustrations, unless you hear it repeated over and over by your 8-almost-9 year old. Then it's just annoying.

Basically, the same argument went on all day long with the kids. I took away everyone's pool time because everyone refused to clean. Fighting and punching occurred. (Not by me, of course. Who do you think I am?) I was called "stupid mommy." There was no TV, no video games, and no playing outside. My offer to help them clean was taken off the table.

Bill got home from work and I snarled at him. Seriously. I actually growled my hello.

To say I was frazzled was an understatement.

But he came in the door, ready to tackle the problem. We let the kids come up from the dungeon for dinner, and then sent them back down again, full of food in their bellies and a renewed sense of motivation to get the job done. "We'll have a family game night and ice cream when you finish!" But by 7:00 p.m., Bill was snarling too. So much for the calm one. They got to him. "See? I told you," was all I could muster. I was glad that I wasn't the only uber-frustrated one.

The job is pretty easy too. There are specific boxes for cars. There's baskets for the play kitchen stuff. There is a spot for train tracks. And blocks. And video games. JUST. PUT. IT. IN. THE. BOX.

Finally at 8:00, we shut it down. WE SHUT. IT. DOWN. Everybody upstairs. Now. If you're not going to clean, you're going to bed.

Everybody in bed, and lights out at 8:00. On a Friday night. Wailing and crying ensued. "BUUUUUTTTT IT'S FRIIIIIIIIIIIDAAYYYYYYYY NIGHTTTTT!!! WEEEEE CANNN'T GO TO BEDDDD AT 8:00 ON A FRIIIIIIDDDAAAYYYYYY NIGHTTTTT!!!" was what we heard over and over.

Oh yeah? Well look what we just did. We put you to bed at 8:00 on a Friday night. Fancy that. Sucks to be you, kids. Someday when you are older, you will get to experience this power trip. I assure you, it isn't that fun.

This morning they woke up after a full 12 hours of sleep, we fed them breakfast, and now they are down there as we speak. Cleaning. Kind of. Hopefully.

Like I said, it's not really about the cleaning anymore. I could almost care less about a clean playroom. It's about Bill and I winning this one so they can't call us chumps.

They're trying to wear us down.

But they need to know we mean business. BIZ. NESS.

For reals.

Jo Frost, ("Supernanny")

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I partied like it was 1986, and other embarrassing things to report.

I had the funnest time last night.

Yeah, yeah. I know "funnest" isn't proper grammar. But I had some serious funnage last night. Like 6th grade type-o-fun. And "funnest" is a 6th grade word. So there.

I went roller-skating last night. At a roller rink. With disco balls. And enough Miley Cyrus music to make you sick.

Charlie and Henry approached me last week with a flyer in hand from school. Charlie said, "Mom, EVERYone goes to the school roller-skating parties. Can we go too?"

Roller-skating? My first thought was, "HELLS YEAH, bitches!" But then I realized that it's not appropriate to call my kids my bitches. Even if it is a term of endearment. Instead I said, "Sure! Sounds like fun!"

And boy, was it ever.

The brochure said, "Non-skating parents are always admitted free."

WHAT? Non-skating parents? That doesn't make sense. You mean there's actually parents out there who don't want to re-live junior high and strap on a pair of clunky four-wheeled skates and go around and around a wood floor for a few hours? Who are these people? Non-skating parents indeed. Psssh.

A few years ago some friends and I had discussed organizing a trip to the local roller rink just for us adults, but the idea never materialized past the discussion. So really, I've just been waiting for the chance to go roller-skating, and my kids are my cover. "It's all for the kids! They're totally dragging me to the rink. I guess I'll go because they twisted my arm."

Bill stayed home with George and Annabel and I took Charlie and Henry. It took Henry, with all his anxiety, about 45 minutes to work up the nerve to get out on the floor, but I let him do it in his own time. Meanwhile, Charlie heard a Jo Bros song pumping on the speakers and hit the floor immediately. He was quite cocky in the car on the way to the rink, talking a big game about renting the super-cool inline skates even though he's never attempted to roller-skate in his life. Needless to say, after going splat about 14 times in the first minute, he was content with the nerdier, but more stable four-wheeled skates.

There's nothing like strapping the sweat of a thousand teenagers onto your feet and hitting the floor. I only fell on my ass once too, which was quite impressive. As crude as it sounds, I say "ass" only because "butt" doesn't convey to you how hard I fell. "I fell on my butt," just sounds like I fell on my butt. But believe me, I fell on my ass. Hard. It was right out of a sitcom, minus the laugh track. I leaned back a little bit, my wheels betrayed me, and the next thing I know, I was splayed on the floor. Flat. My tailbone took the biggest hit.

It was awesome fun, and good times. The boys can't wait to go back, and it won't be too difficult to convince me.

But do you know what is not awesome? Flashing your boob at the mall. Unless you're cool with that. Which I'm not.

I know I'm all about over-sharing in this blog, a.k.a TMI. But I was mortified today and I had to share.

Because I'm a giver, that's why.

Anyway, Charlie and Henry have today and tomorrow off from school because of a teacher in-service. So we dropped George off at pre-school this afternoon and headed to the mall with Annabel. The boys need some new fall clothes, so it was fun to bring them with me to pick them out.

As we were getting ready to leave, Annabel was getting cranky. She's very headstrong and fights me lately about sitting in the stroller, so every time we go, I basically end up pushing an empty stroller throughout the mall, using it for a bag holder and yelling at her to stop running so far ahead of me.

This afternoon as we were walking through the main part of the mall, she was done. With a capital "D". I tried to get her to sit in the stroller but she just wasn't having it, and kept contorting her body and collapsing on the floor. So I told Charlie to push the stroller while I carried Annabel. I picked her up and walked for at least five minutes and Charlie kept nervously looking back at me. Finally he said, "Um, Mom? Um, showing. You might want to pull that...thingy...up." I looked down and was mortified to see about 83% of my left boob out of my bra and in FULL VIEW. And at the point I noticed it, we were right by the kids' play area, where quite the assembly of parents was gathered.

It's not like I have a huge chest that has a hard time staying put. But since I'm already sharing TMI, and I'm assuming that the majority of my readers are female, you should know I have the smallest chest in the history of ever. But today I happened to wear my Victoria's Secret miracle bra or wonder bra or whatever it's called. In my size they should just call it, "The Who The Heck Does She Think She's Fooling With That Thing?" Bra. Regardless, it did the job it was supposed to do, and my cup spilleth-ed over a little bit.

When I picked Annabel up to carry her, she was tired and fighting to not be picked up, and she must have pulled my scoopneck sweater down and exposed me because this stupid faker bra of mine pushes what little I have on my chest so far up. But more mortifying than being exposed to a bunch of strangers was the fact that my 8-almost-9 year old boy was the one who had to bust me on it. He seemed just as embarrassed as me to see my "thingy" just hanging out.


Yeah, it took me a few minutes to recover from that one. I stammered, "Oh! Woops! Thanks Char!" and then changed the subject.


Henry was all, "What? What happened? What thingy? What's a thingy, Charlie?"

Everyone be quiet. Keep walking.

I guess you didn't need to hear that last story, but if you had a crappy day, just remind yourself that at least you didn't inadvertently flash your son and a mall full of people. At least you have that going for you. Don't you feel better already?

Like I said, I'm a giver.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mrs. Calm-Cool-and-Collected I am not.

So once again yesterday morning, I was the bad guy. Or gal. Whatever you want to call it.

But honestly, I really don't give a flip that Charlie was mad at me. Sometimes someone has to be the bad guy/gal. And this time it was me.

Allow me to explain.

Charlie will be 9-years old in just a few short weeks. He is fiercely clinging to his independence and his desire to do things on his own and for himself, which we happily oblige. As much as I want to cling to the baby and toddler years because they are so precious, I can't wipe their butts and noses forever. I love this "tweener"age Charlie is at right now, even if he is a tad moody at times. He's funny, I can trust him to do things on his own, he helps me out, and he doesn't need me constantly. But then again, he's also not too cool or teenager-ey yet that he doesn't need his mom once in awhile. I still get plenty of hugs from him.

So it's no biggie that in the mornings, Charlie and Henry wake up with their alarm clock, take showers in their bathroom, get dressed and head downstairs to get their breakfasts every morning without assistance from Bill and I.

And no, I'm not languishing in my bed all morning reading the paper and getting breakfast in bed while the older boys help themselves. I'm usually showering, getting myself ready, and then helping George and Annabel get ready for the day. Besides, I still make their lunches and help them scramble to get their backpacks ready. I'm just saying that I don't hold their hands all day long anymore.

I'm very okay with Big Kid independence.

As great as my guys have gotten with their morning routines, Bill and I have learned that it's best to keep things light and airy in the morning. The littlest thing can set off a temper tantrum on those crazy busy school mornings, so it's best to avoid the heavy topics or anything potentially upsetting. We have to be all, "Oh, so you want to have the orange juice in the big glass and pour it yourself? Even though I know perfectly well that you will take 3 sips of it and then leave it sitting there? Sure. Go ahead. Whatever it takes to get you out the door happy, fed and ready to learn."

It's kind of like eclipses. You know how eclipses are awesome and cool, but they say you shouldn't look directly into an eclipse or you will burn your retinas? You're supposed to shade your eyes and let your eyes dance around it without ever looking directly at it. And in this analogy Charlie and Henry are the eclipse. An Bill and I are the not-wanting-to-be-burnt retinas. We happily dance around the potentially bad stuff or avoid it altogether just to make the mornings go smoothly.

Sorry. Bad analogy. You get the idea.

Well my Charlie enjoys his bagels and english muffins occasionally in the morning, so at the age of 8-almost-9, I'm okay with him pulling out the toaster, plugging it in, and toasting it himself, even if I happen to be upstairs and busy.

But we have this toaster. It's a sad little toaster. He's (yes, I assign gender to my appliances) missing a handle, it takes him way too long to toast a simple piece of bread, and he makes this buzzing sound every time he pops up. Actually it's more like an electric ZAP. But he still works, so I have resisted replacing it. A new toaster costs what? $20 for a basic one, up to $100 or more? So it's not price. Maybe I'm just attached to it because it was a wedding present. Maybe I'm El Cheapo. Who knows why I haven't gotten a new one yet? It doesn't even sit on our counter though, so as ugly as it is, we only see it when we pull it out of the cupboard once in awhile.

But 11 years of dedicated hard work and toasting is a lot to ask of him. He is clearly asking us for retirement every time he ZAPS up another piece of bread. ""

And here he is. Quite the sorry-looking fella isn't he?

Now before I get to the next part of my story, let me take a detour in the Land of the Calm People, aka my husband, Bill. I have said before that Bill is a very calm man. And as you know, I am most definitely NOT a calm person. I'm okay with that, too. I'm definitely not the overbearing mom that micromanages and spazzes out around every corner, but when a crisis happens, I embrace my inner spazz. Sometimes it works to my advantage, sometimes it makes things worse. But as Popeye says, "I yam what I yam."

Remember during the 2008 Presidential Election and the media loved to reference the fact that Barack Obama was a very calm man? He was rarely rattled. As much as people tried to get to him, he was all, "Mr. Easy-Peasy." But if they had a Who's the Calmest? contest, a "Calm-Off" if you will, Bill might squeak by Barack by a nose. (And this has nothing to do with politics, either. I don't DO politics in my blog. This is a happy place where all are welcome.) Bill's very much a "rationally-think-things-through-and-then-let-it-roll-like-water-off-a-duck's-back" kind of guy. Bill would be all, "Nuclear missiles coming at the US? I'm thinking on my feet. No need to get upset about anything. Oooohhhhmmm....." But I would be all, "HOLY S***!!! MISSILES! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! GRAB THE KIDS AND DUCK AND COVER!" It's not that I'm bragging about his calmness either. Believe me, it gets on my last nerve sometimes that he's Mr. Calm-Cool-and-Collected in a crisis, and I'm all Spazzy McSpazzerson. He lets it roll and doesn't think too far ahead, and I obsess and overthink. But he's the yin to my yang, and we balance each other out, because who really wants to be married to a version of themself? I don't.

Off on a tangent again.

Anyway. Back to Charlie, the toaster, and me being the bad gal.

Charlie was toasting a bagel yesterday morning and I was chatting with him while the rest of the house was relatively quiet. Bill was in the shower, George and Annabel were sleeping, and Henry was still getting dressed. I was emptying the dishwasher and enjoying a little alone time with my oldest child. He opens up and talks to me a lot more when we are in these little moments, and I treasure them.

As Charlie stood there, butter knife in hand and cream cheese at the ready, and waited for his bagel to pop up, we suddenly heard the familiar ZAP of Old Trusty Toaster. I turned my head, and I noticed that this time the bagel didn't pop up. It was all ZAP, no POP. And then I saw Charlie, my sweet, first-born child, take his METAL BUTTER KNIFE and ALMOST reach into the STILL PLUGGED-IN toaster and ALMOST try to pry his bagel out.

And Spazzy McSpazzerson was in the house.


My boy threw his butter knife on the ground, burst into tears, and ran to parts unknown in the house. I could hear him wailing, but I just couldn't see him.

Did I feel bad that I spazzed out? Absolutely not.

Bill came running, spurred into action, thinking there was a crisis, and CALMLY said, "What's wrong? What happened?"

So I gave him the recap, and Bill said, "Well Clare, now he's all upset and he's not going to eat breakfast, and we're going to be late. Was it really necessary to scream? Why didn't you just calmly ask him to not stick the knife in there?"



"Yes, I think it was totally necessary to scream at him. I don't give a flip that I scared him. He should be scared. He won't be attempting to stick any metal knives in any toasters anytime soon, will he? I did it because I love him and I didn't want him to be hurt, and/or dead."

Tough love ain't easy.

Eventually Charlie came out of hiding and I hugged him and told him that I loved him. He spat out, "You don't always have to tell me what to do, mom! I'm not stupid! I KNOW you don't stick a knife in a toaster! I'm not a baby! You don't always have to tell me what to do!"

Once again.



Crisis averted. Little boy is safe and sound. Mommy spazzed-out but doesn't regret it one bit. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

But there were two things that stuck with me about yesterday morning.

1.) We are getting a new toaster. He ZAPPED instead of POPPING and therefore, he almost hurt my little boy. Buh-bye Old Trusty.

2.) I obsessed about the incident a little bit too much when I finally got a chance to lay down in bed last night and think about it. No, I did not regret my reaction. What I obsessed about was the What Ifs. I said to Bill, "What if I wasn't standing right there talking to Charlie? What if I didn't turn around in time? What if I was upstairs and came down to the kitchen to find him laying on the floor, electrocuted?"

Bill doesn't DO What Ifs. He hugged me and said, "But nothing bad happened. It's okay. You can't think about that stuff."

For all the positives of Big Kid independence, there's the whole wondering if I'm preparing my guys enough. We do all the, "Say No to drugs" obvious stuff, but I mean, it's not like things like this just come up in normal conversation. "Hey Char, by the way, if you're ever toasting a bagel and it doesn't pop up, never stick a metal knife in there. Because you might die. Mmmmmkay?"

But we can't hold on to them forever. I know I'm doing the right thing by encouraging the older two boys to slowly become more independent. I want to prepare them for adulthood bit by bit while still being their mom and doing stuff for them. After all, the world does not need more young adults who can't make decisions or do things for themselves.

We did pull back a little bit though. We became lax about it after awhile, but we just went back to the old appliance rule: "No operating anything that plugs into a wall without Mom or Dad present."

Besides, I'll happily toast them a bagel anytime they want.

However, I might make some concessions when it comes to laundry.

I'd totally be okay with them learning that skill.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Not going to let anything get to me. At least for today.

I had a great weekend.

Nothing majorly earth-shattering happened, but it was great nonetheless. And aren't uneventful weekends sometimes the best kinds of weekends? No packing, no traveling, no long car trips. Laziness was the order of the day.

How I love you, sweet, sweet Laziness. I miss you sometimes.

If you read my whining rant last Thursday, you might have picked up on the fact that I wanted a big, fat break. But don't we all once in awhile?

I woke up Saturday morning, ready and excited for some much-needed alone time. I had no major plans. I just wanted to drive, wander, and shop. For myself. Not for groceries or anything useful. Just me.

But there was one small problem. I woke up Saturday morning with a screaming headache. It was a migraine with a capital "M". My neck felt like it was on fire, my temples throbbed, and I was so nauseous that I felt like I was not only going to lose the breakfast that I just forced down my throat, but dinner from the night before as well.

I felt like complete and total yuck.

Bill gave me a little neck rub and encouraged me to relax and take it easy. "Stay in bed," he said.


Normally I just take it easy when I have a migraine. I move only if required to move. But I thought to myself, if I don't get out of this house by myself this morning, then that's it. It's another busy week around here, and every weeknight is filled with either a practice or a meeting of some kind. My chance for some alone time was rapidly diminishing right before my throbbing eyelids.

Migraine, schmigraine. I'm getting the heck outta Dodge. Like right now.

So I dragged myself to bathroom and showered, put some clothes on, firmly affixed my sunglasses to my eyes, (even though there wasn't much sun in the sky, the world was just a little bit too bright for my liking) grabbed the keys for Bill's car, (a.k.a a sportier, smaller car, and NOT the messy, large "Stinkmobile" that I drive on a daily basis) and headed out the door.

Ouch. All that movement hurt my head.

My first stop was Starbucks. First of all, I HATE coffee. I hate the way it smells, and I hate the way it tastes. When I was a kid, I thought it would just be one of those things that would magically start tasting better to me when I was older. Nope. Still gross. So I go to Starbucks or a coffee shop maybe less than a dozen times per year. And I always order hot cocoa. I envy you sophisticated people that walk into Starbucks and order your, "Grande Mocha Latte Skinny Chai Tall Espresso Whip Spice With Extra Foam." Or whatever it is you people say. Because I just say, "I'd like a small hot chocolate with no whipped cream, please." Usually the barista quizzically looks at me and probably thinks, "Small? whipped cream? What an amateur. This chick does not speak Starbucks-ese." I have now learned that what I want is called a "Tall Skinny Hot Cocoa No Whip". Even though "tall" is a total misnomer. It's just Starbucks' misleading way of charging you $3.10 and having you think you're getting an adult-sized drink, even though my kids' sippy cups are bigger. But I digress.

Starbucks in hand, I got back in the car, and headed toward the mall.

Ouch. My head is still killing me. And chocolate is reeeeeally bad for headaches. And it even hurts to turn the steering wheel. And accelerate. Can we just put a shade over the sun for a little bit?

When I finally got to the mall, I just wandered. And wandered some more. I picked up sweaters, pondered them and put them back. And then I tried some things on. I bought a few items of clothing for myself. And, as promised, I pitied all the parents with their loud kids. I especially pitied the parents with kids who just wanted to run. And run. And hide under clothing carousels and scare their mommies, thus making the mommies' hearts stop momentarily, and almost have to alert security because they think their sweet little ones are lost or have been kidnapped. Until the kids jump out from the carousel and scream "BOO! MOMMY!" I've been there. Many times.

It was a deliciously boring day.


The two best parts of my Lazy Saturday: 1.) My migraine quelled to a dull throb around 4:00 p.m. and 2.) Bill and I had scheduled a date night for Saturday night.

Ain't no migraine depriving me of the chance to get dressed up to get my eat and drink on.

And alcohol is reeeeeeallllly good for migraine headaches.

I let Bill pick the restaurant this time because I always pick it. And my head still hurt way too much to think too hard. Of course, he picked a trendy sushi restaurant downtown that he has been dying to try. In addition to coffee, I also HATE sushi. The sliminess, the rawness, the blandness. It's all yuck. Besides, it's all just so uber-trendy to say, "Oh! Sashimi! Sushi! I love it all! I ca-rave sushi! I could eat it every day! Sushi! Sushi! Sushi!" I just don't get it. I have tried it at least five or six times in my life, and EVERY time I think that THIS will be the time I fall in love with it. THIS will be the time that the beauty of sushi will sink into my head, my heart and my stomach, and I will start craving it. But no. It's still disgusting. It's still slimy. When the white rice is the most interesting part of your meal, then that's just sad. The waiter also sneered at me and I know he was thinking, "What an amateur," (just like the Starbucks barista) when I ordered a hot chicken dish that was akin to Chinese sweet and sour chicken. What can I say? I consider myself an adventurous eater, and I will try most things once, but I can't promise that I'm always going to like it. Maybe the next time I try it, sushi will taste good to me, right?

Besides, how much of a turn-on would that be to my husband if I said, "Honey, how about we put the kids to bed early, and order in some sushi?"

Oh yeah, that line would get me far. I'm saving it in case I ever need some brownie points.

But the atmosphere was funky and fun, the company was wonderful, I enjoyed tasty sake-tinis, and my kids were happily being entertained and fed by someone other than Bill and I. So it was all good.

I felt so refreshed after some much-needed time away that it didn't even bother me that much when the cranky lady in front of us at church today harrumphed my family several times, glared at us through her bifocals, and then eventually picked herself up and moved five rows up and across the aisle at 10:30 mass this morning. Seriously. My kids are not perfect at church, but how passive-aggressive is that? Making a point to pick up yourself and move waaaayyyy across the aisle, just because my kids are kind of fidgety and singing, "Taste and See" a little bit too loud? And out of tune? And maybe Henry did whisper to George to "Stop touching me!" about 83 times. But really.

It was surprisingly a good morning for my kids at mass too, so I'm not sure what she was complaining about. They weren't too loud, they were mostly paying attention, they were mostly whispering, they didn't whip anything at her head, and they didn't even poke her in the back. Chillax, lady. Besides, don't we sing that song at church, "All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place"? That includes us, right?"

But I didn't let her get to me.

Because I felt recharged after a good weekend.

And I'm looking forward to a good week ahead.

Besides, how can you not find the smells and the sights of autumn exhilarating? I love it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Do not disturb. At least for a little bit.



I am very much looking forward to this lazy weekend ahead of us. Well, as lazy as it can get with four kids.

I am looking forward to a little quality family time.

But paradoxically, I am also looking forward to a Saturday morning by myself, since I can't remember the last time I was alone.

Well...there was that time I went to the bathroom at around 11:53 a.m. on Tuesday and nobody opened the door or screamed my name.

Ahhh...sweet bliss. To pee in peace.

No, I'm talking about alone, alone. Like leaving the house with no one in tow. Like walking around town and having people think, "Look at that young lady jauntily skipping through the streets without a care in the world. She must not have any children or major worldly obligations. If only I could be so carefree as she."

As if.

I was at the end of my rapidly fraying rope two nights ago. Not sure why. Just because. Probably because my house looks like a bomb went off. Probably because my kids had found yet another reason to complain or fight about something. Probably because I'm 35, with a college degree in teaching, yet I was baffled over a second grade math worksheet. Probably because I'm worried about my M-I-L.

Bill asked me what was wrong, and I bitched kindly pointed out to him that I couldn't remember the last time I was alone. He was all, "Honey, but you took that relaxing bubble bath last night." And I was all, "Yeah, you mean the one when Annabel and George busted through the door and started taking off their socks thinking it was pool time? Yeah. As relaxing as that was, it doesn't count."

I don't need to write the whole disclaimer paragraph where I state how much I love my kids and my husband, blah, blah, blah...because you already know it. I'm a firm believer that it doesn't make me a bad wife or mother if I think, "I have to get the eff out of this house all by myself, even if it's only for a half hour."

Wait. Wasn't that just a disclaimer paragraph?

Can you tell my batteries need a big, fat recharge? With our crazy, hectic schedules lately, I can't remember the last time I even went to CVS for tampons, "all by my lonesome," as my grandma says. A girl should be so lucky to go on a tampon-buying excursion by herself and not have her child, (ahem...George) say loudly, "Mom, why you gotta buy more of those things that you stick up your butt?"

Hey there, cranky blogger. Back away from your keyboard. You're starting to sound shrill.

Sorry, but I need to get this out. It makes me feel so much better.

Bill is a strong advocate of my alone time, and goes out of his way to make sure I get it when I need it, because he is well aware that if mama ain't happy then nobody's happy.

But he didn't quite understand why I was so cranky. So I bitched calmly explained to him that it's because he is alone all day. "But I'm not alone. I'm at work. I'm around lots of people." he insisted. "Oh yeah you are alone," I bitched kindly insisted back. "You drive all alone in that isolation chamber of a car, listening to anything you want to on the radio. Then you walk all alone from the parking garage to the office. Then you go sit in your office all by yourself. You don't have to announce where you're going all the time. You get to have riveting adult conversations with your colleagues about something other than bowel movements and why it's important to have them in the toilet instead of your pants."

I wouldn't want to switch places with Bill. At all. He has a stressful career, but does a great job balancing home and work. I know how lucky I am that I don't have to work outside the home. I know that I will miss this someday. I know that someday I will be in my empty house all by myself and think how unnervingly quiet it is.

Blahbity blah blah.

If you are one of those moms that has no idea what I'm talking about and could spend every single second of every single day with your angels, then yay for you. Truly. But I ask you, a.) what are you smoking? and b.) is it legal? and if the answer to b is "yes," then c.) can I have some?

I know. I know. I sound like such a whiny complainer. I'm horrible. I'm so lucky. I should appreciate my kids more. I know. I tell myself these things all the time. I agree with you.

But please. I ca-rave alone time, even if it's just once a week so that I can stay fair and balanced. Like Fox News. And a gal needs to pee and bathe and shower in peace. So Bill reminded me that we have nothing going on Saturday morning, so why don't I go to the mall by myself?

Why yes, I will, thank you. It's not that I haven't been shopping recently. I have. Many times. But always with a purpose, and always with a child. Or two. Or four. So if you see me at the mall this weekend, I will be silently pitying all the moms there that are chasing their kids around and warning them by counting to three. Maybe I'll get some Starbucks and just sit on a bench. Maybe I'll take the little purse this time, instead of the big-ass tote bag purse that doubles as a diaper bag, even though I don't have a child in diapers anymore. I won't have to ask anyone every ten minutes if they have to pee, lest they pee in their pants and it drips down their leg and lands on the industrial carpeting at Waldenbooks. (True story.) Maybe I'll take a stack of clothing to the dressing room and try it all on, and buy nothing. Or something. Maybe I'll start my Christmas shopping early.

And then I'll come home fully refreshed and ready for a big group hug from my crew, and I'll jump right back into the craziness of our house, and appreciate it once again.

Because life is pretty darn great around here.