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I Guess I Bought The Wrong Flavor

Today was day sixteen of summer vacation.

It was the first really rainy day since the kids have been out of school, and after two weeks of sun and outdoor swim practices and a few late nights and a nine-hour-long 4th of July party the other day, we were all in need of a lazy, indoor day out of the sun.

So I was grateful for the rain.

On an unrelated topic, I  stopped buying a lot of processed foods a couple years ago.

At first I pretty much cut out everything. No cereal. No crackers. No chips. No Goldfish.

I started making stuff from scratch. Like real macaroni and cheese. Not the fake, neon mac and cheese from a box.

It was delicious.

But my kids acted as if I had presented them with a bowl full of flesh eating bacteria. Or poop. Or both.

So the kids were having Kraft withdrawals.

In addition, all adults in this house were not completely on board with the no-processed-food-at-all decision.

Plus, to be honest, I’m not organized and efficient enough to do 100% whole foods and stuff from scratch yet.

But it is still a goal of mine. One day I’m gonna get there.

So anyway, I do buy some processed stuff now. But not near as much as I used to.

A couple weeks ago, in a moment of desperation, I bought a big ass package of Kraft mac and cheese at Costco. There are like eighteen boxes of that garbage in that big pack.

When I got home, the kids saw it and exclaimed, “YES!!! THE GOOD MAC AND CHEESE!!!”

They seriously call that shit the good mac and cheese.

On another note, having all the kids home all day during the summer, not being able to afford a babysitter, and having quite a bit of work to do from home, I have had to get creative with how I make time to get anything done.

I normally get up fairly early, usually by 5:45 on school days, but for the last sixteen days, I’ve been getting up between 3:45 and 4:30 every morning. That gives me at least two hours every day before the first kid wakes up and before I have to get ready to go to swim practice.

Now that I’m used to getting up that early, I actually really enjoy it. It’s quiet, and I can enjoy a cup (or three) of coffee without being harassed, and I can watch the sun rise right out of my office window.

But I am definitely tired.

Today with the rain and nothing on the calendar in the afternoon for anyone (minor miracle), I decided I’d give myself the gift of a nap.

I had swim practice this morning until 9:15. By the time I got home it was close to 10:00.

I was soaked and cold from coaching in the rain, so I changed back into dry and comfy pajamas.

I did some laundry, cleaned up the kitchen, and did a couple other things around the house.

I had decided on taking a nap right after lunch. That way the kids would be fed and I’d at least eliminate nap interruptions because someone was starving to death.

I didn’t want to deal with a huge lunch production either, so I baked some brownies, made two boxes of everyone’s favorite, fake, chemically loaded mac and cheese, nuked some hot dogs, and pulled some watermelon out of the fridge.

Even if nobody actually ate it, the inclusion of an actual fruit made me feel okay with what I’d given them to eat, and nobody would complain about brownies, hot dogs, and mac and cheese.

They’d all be happy, eat a bunch of junk and hopefully a little bit of watermelon, and not need anything to eat for at least a couple hours.

When their mostly processed lunch was ready, I called everyone into the kitchen.

Number 6 saw what I’d made and immediately responded with, “I HATE THAT MAC AND CHEESE.”

What. The Fuck.

Somewhere in the last sixteen days, Number 6 had decided the good mac and cheese is now the bad mac and cheese.

In addition, he also now hates hot dogs which were on his list of Top 10 Favorite Foods up until about 47 minutes ago.

I told him that was what I’d made for lunch and he didn’t have to eat any of it, but I wasn’t making anything else until dinner time.

He ate a few bites of mac and cheese. Then he asked for a brownie.

I was so tired and I was so close to my nap.

In an effort to ensure at least a solid hour of sleep, I gave him a ridiculously huge piece of brownie. I knew it was more than he’d be able to eat.

He didn’t finish the brownie because he was full. Mission accomplished.

I told everyone they’d need to occupy themselves for the next hour and a half and not to bother me because I was going to take a nap.

I lay down on the bed and was asleep almost before my head hit the pillow.

It was magnificent.

For about 40 minutes.

That’s when Number 6 came barreling into my room.

“MOM!!! I’M STARVING!!!”

I repeated what I had said before. I wasn’t making anything else to eat until dinner time.

“WELL ALL YOU GAVE ME FOR LUNCH WAS MAC AND CHEESE THAT TASTES LIKE VAGINAS!” he yelled.

Having just been awoken from a peaceful sleep, I was a little slow on the uptake.

All I managed to do was sigh heavily and roll over.

“FINE! I’ll go make something for myself!” he yelled.

And he stormed away.

So we have reached that glorious stage of vacation where meal times have turned to snack time, snack times have turned to mealtimes, hot dogs are inedible and mac and cheese tastes like vaginas.

Only 54 days until the first day of school.

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Mom Fail #4,783

One of the things I’m struggling with these days is that now that all the kids are in school full time, I feel like I should totally have my shit together.

And I don’t.

I feel like I should be totally organized (I’m not), the house should be pretty clean (it isn’t), and I should have the meal preparation and planning down to a science (I don’t).

I’m still rushing, I’m still looking for crap for everyone, we are still sometimes eating the same thing for dinner three nights a week, and I’m messing things up left and right.

Back in August when the last kid got on the bus and I finally had some time to exhale, I was sure I’d  be running the tightest goddamn ship this side of the Mississippi.

Ha!

Boy was I wrong.

So one of my problems is that when the first couple kids start  rolling in from school, I’m not always available to them. I’m trying to get one more thing finished up here  and one more thing done there, and the trouble starts.

I know this isn’t helping me, but I still continue to do it.

So it’s largely my own fault.

Today I have had the most productive and efficient morning I’ve had in a long time so that I can be present for the kids when they get home after school

Because goddammit, I am not going to have another afternoon like I did yesterday…

First, a little background.

Number 7 is on the winter swim team this year for the first time, but I didn’t get her a team suit because 1) I didn’t know if she’d actually make it through the whole season, 2) they are ridiculously expensive and 3) she is so small that the smallest size is still a little bit too big for her.

For the first time this year, the swim team is doing team pictures. Half the team was having them yesterday, and the other half will get them done next Monday. Of course, for the team pictures, you are supposed to wear your team suit. Number 4 and Number 5 each have a team suit, and then we have a third suit that is a hand-me-down from a friend and Number 4 uses that one as a back up.

So back to yesterday afternoon.

Number 7 is in kindergarten and she has a short day on Mondays, so she was home first.

Me: Number 7, today we have team pictures for the swim team.

Number 7: We do?

Me: Yes. You are going to wear Number 5’s team suit just for the picture.

Number 7: NO! MOM!!! IT DOESN’T FIT ME!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Hysterical crying fit for Number 7 commences.

Number 3 and 4 get home.

Number 4:  HI MOM!

Number 3: HI MOM!

Me:  Hi — I have to finish something upstairs quickly. I’ll be right back.

Number 7:WWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I’M NEVER SWIMMING AGAIN!

Number 4: What’s wrong with her?

Me: She doesn’t have a team suit. I’ll be down in a couple minutes. Maybe you can help Number 7 try on Number 5’s suit and convince her it’s not that big.

I run upstairs to send a quick email. One minute later, I hear loud thuds and possible dishes breaking from downstairs followed by Number 3 and 4 screaming at each other.

Me (running downstairs) :What’s going on down here???

Number 3 and 4 start to plead their cases, but I already can’t take it.

I tell Number 3 to unload the dishwasher, and I ban Number 4 who is protesting and Number 7 who is still bawling her brains out from being within 25 feet of Number 3.

I run back upstairs.

Number 4 manages to convince Number 7 to  try on Number 5’s bathing suit.

The crying ceases for 47 seconds.

And then it resumes.

But at twice the previous volume.

Number 7: IT’S TOOOO BIIIIIGGGGGG!!!   She gets onto the floor and gets into plank position. SEE MOM?!?!? When I do this, everyone can see my nipples! AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!

MOMMY!!!! EVERYONE IS GOING TO SEE MY NIPPLES WHEN I DO THIS!!!!!!!

Kill me now.

Me: I’m pretty sure the photographer isn’t going to ask you to do a plank for the picture.

Number 7: I’M NEVER GOING TO SWIM PRACTICE AGAIN!!!!!!!!!! I HATE YOU MOM!!!!!!

At this point it was almost time for Number 5 and 6 to get home, I still hadn’t showered, and I desperately needed to.

I hopped in the shower while Number 7 sat on my bed crying and mumbling about her nipples.

I took a three minute shower and threw on my clothes. I ran out to see what time it was and to see how long I had before I had to be on the look out for Number 6’s bus.

I ran into the mudroom, and he was sitting on the floor.

Me: Who got you off the bus?

Number 6: Number 4 did.

Whoops. Thank God for Number 4.

I ran into the bathroom to dry my hair before Number 5 got home.

I walked out of my bedroom just as she walked inside. Number 7 was trailing behind me, still convulsively crying.

Number 5 (glaring at Number 7): WHO’S SUIT IS THAT?

Fuck. 

Me: Um… Yours?

Number 5: AAAAAAAHHH!!!! WAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! MOOOOOMMMMMYYYYYY! NOW I CAN NEVER WEAR THAT SUIT AGAIN!!!!!

Me (in a tiny whisper):

why not?

Number 5: BECAUSE NOW IT HAS HER VAGINA GERMS ON IIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTT!

So now Number 5 is crying hysterically, Number 7 is crying hysterically, Number 3 is complaining about  having to clean up in the kitchen, Number 4 is complaining because she wants to make her lunch for the next day and I won’t let her go anywhere near Number 3 in the kitchen, and Number 6 is skipping around the house chanting  Vagina germs! Vagina germs!

It was now 4:15, and we had to be at the pool in fifteen minutes. No one was ready, and everyone wanted to kill each other.

Oh. And it was my husband’s birthday yesterday, and I had made him a carrot cake so it would be waiting for him when he got home.

And through all the vagina germ and nipple crying, I forgot about the fucking cream cheese icing.

I threw some powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in a bowl and started beating the shit out of it.

All the kids: EWWWW! WHY ARE YOU PUTTING CREAM CHEESE IN THERE??? GROSS, MOM!!!!

It was now 4:25. We had to be on the pool deck in five minutes.

Now they were all screaming, ‘MOM! THANKS SO MUCH MOM! THANKS FOR MAKING US LATE BECAUSE YOU HAD TO MAKE FROSTING! AND IT’S NOT EVEN GOOD! GOOD JOB, MOM!

It took every ounce of self control to not  completely lose my shit.

The ran out to the car.

I slapped the icing on the cake and ran out after them.

We got to the pool seven minutes late.

Number 7 had that post-cry red nose. We all looked a little worse for wear.

Not exactly how I wanted the kids to look for their team pictures.

In the end, it didn’t matter. We didn’t even take the team picture.

Because Number 4, 5 and 7’s team picture day isn’t until next Monday.

Just in case you think you’re the only one fucking up…

You’re not. 🙂

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Mom, just don’t be boring.

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine who is a high school teacher was looking for a speaker to come in and talk to her Intro to Psychology class.

This is a section of the population I don’t have much experience speaking to.

I’ve spoken for groups of moms and dads. I’ve spent plenty of time speaking with younger kids as both a teacher and a coach.

But the high school crowd is uncharted territory for me.

So I jumped at the chance.

I want to build up my public speaking resume, plus any opportunity to speak is good practice.

So I jumped on it.

My friend asked  me to talk about parenting and discipline.

Much to my disappointment and like I often do, I waited until kind of the last minute to really think about what I wanted to say.

I thought I’d have most of last night to really think about it, and then on a whim, I decided at the last minute to take Number 4 to watch the girls high school Class M state championships because our high school had a shot at winning for the first time ever.

We didn’t get home until after 11 pm, and then I had to get the kids to school this morning and be at the high school at 8:45 for the presentation at 9.

I was on a panel with three other men.

One was a doctor who worked for DCF. One was a pediatrician. (Another doctor). One was the principal of the school. (Another guy). And then there was me.

The presentation was in the library, and the four panelists sat in the front of the group seated behind two tables.

I was on one end of the panel.

The doctor from DCF  was sitting on the other end, and he spoke first about what he does professionally and how he has to handle discipline with regard to the clientele he has to work with.

Then the pediatrician spoke about himself a little bit and what he does in his job, and he addressed the child development stages kids go through, and what it’s important for parents to remember about where teenagers are developmentally.

Then the principal spoke, and he focused mostly on discipline with respect high school students and his job as principal.

And then it was my turn.

I’m not a doctor. And I’m not a dude.

I wanted to be taken seriously, but I also wanted to be interesting and engaging.

Last night on the ride home from the swim meet, I was telling Number 4 how I had to speak to a bunch of high schoolers this morning and I really had no idea what the heck I was going to say.

Her words of advice?

Well, I’m not a parent, so I don’t really know what to tell you. But you need to be cool. Well… not really cool. But, you know…. You can’t be boring. Just make sure you aren’t boring, Mom.

So when my turn came, I thought about what Number 4 said the night before.

I briefly explained a little bit about myself… 7 kids. Swim coach. Former teacher. Blah blah blah.

Then I talked about how being a parent is challenging because the longer you are a parent, the more stuff you realize you don’t know. And that if you really want to be a good parent it’s not about not failing, but it’s about constantly having to self-reflect, and to evaluate what you are doing that is working and continuing to do that while also figuring out what doesn’t work and then working to change that.

That self reflection piece is hard. And exhausting.

Because it never ends.

And then, I thought about what Number 4 said again.

Just make sure you aren’t boring, Mom.

I explained that one of the reasons discipline can be so challenging is because you are always confronted with situations you’ve never been in before, and there is no specific manual explaining how to deal with them in a healthy, respectful, and effective way.

(By the way, the way I’m writing this now is coming out much more intelligently and fluidly than the way I actually said it today).

Anyway, I thought of this story which happened recently at home. I shared it on Facebook a couple days ago, but sometimes Facebook doesn’t show stuff to people.

It was a great example of how you can never be prepared for all the things your kids are going to do and say:

So I don’t know about your kids, but my kids can really get on each other’s cases and they are relentless, and it drives me insane.

It seems to happen most often when they are sitting to eat.

One thing I started doing when they really start to go at it is take a “compliment break.” I give each one of them a complement, and it kind of diffuses the situation, and I’m not losing my shit on anyone but modeling being kind, so it’s a win-win.

Very often, they will give me a compliment back. If I’m really lucky, they will also decide on their own to give each other a compliment!

So today Number 4, 5 and 7 were sitting at the counter in the kitchen eating their lunch, and Number 5 and 7 got into it. And they wouldn’t stop.

And this is the conversation that followed:

Me: You know what time it is?!?!

Number 7: NO MOM! IT’S NOT COMPLIMENT TIME!!!

Me: It is for me! Number 4, you did a great job at middle school swim team try outs today. Number 5, you waited really patiently on the pool deck this morning. I know you were hot and it was boring. Good job! Number 7, you are so good at tying your shoes now! I am so impressed with how quickly you learned to do that.

Number 4: Thanks, Mom. I have a compliment for you…

You are really good at making grilled cheese!

Me: Thank you, Number 4.

Number 7: OKAY MOM! I have a compliment for Number 5.

Me: Great! What is it?

Number 7: Number 5! You are really good at being A PENIS, A BUTTHOLE, AND A VAGINA!

Upon hearing Number 7 ‘s compliment, Number 4 snarfed grilled cheese and apple cider out of her nose, I involuntarily burst into uncontrollable laughter, and Number 5 ran out of the kitchen crying hysterically.

Sometimes the compliment thing really works.

Other times? Well, other times, yeah.

 Not so much.

All I can say is that as far as the high school students went, that little scenario was a crowd pleaser.

Big time.

When in doubt, go with the penis, butthole and vagina stories.

Professionally speaking, I don’t know what the two doctors and the principal thought about it.

And I don’t know if I taught anyone anything about discipline.

But there are a couple things I do know for sure.

One, I think I might be the first mom to yell out the words penis, butthole, and vagina in that library. Or in any high school library in Connecticut, for that matter.

And two, I did what Number 4 said.

And I definitely wasn’t boring.

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Ten Words I Never Thought I’d Say To My Daughter

It’s Friday, and it’s been a long week, and I need a break from my kids, and I need to go to bed early, so here is a Flashback Friday story.

If you are having a similar Friday night and could use a laugh, here you go.

*   *   *

I’ve said a lot of things I never dreamed I would say since becoming a parent.

You know, like

We do not smell each other’s butts.

and

Why is there a tampon in the Christmas tree?

and

Is that poop on the refrigerator?

But yesterday I said something that I never in a million years imagined would come out of my mouth.

Two and a half years ago,

when I gave birth to my little baby girl,

and looked down at her sweet little face,

and I envisioned all the fun things we would do together,

and all the mother/daughter conversations we would share,

I never dreamed that one of them would begin with the sentence:

You don’t try to put golf balls in your vagina.

NUMBER 2  SUCKS!

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