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Happy Holiday Weekend!

I’d love to say that I’m enjoying a relaxing holiday weekend but truth be told, I have to work (a lot) and what little down time I have at home is pushing me to the brink.

Some of you may or may not know that I have reluctantly acquired my ex-husband’s dog, Jax. I already have a dog named Max. That in and of itself is so confusing, even the dogs are confused. If you call one, they both come. If we try to call each of them at the same time, to get them into separate  rooms, they cross back and forth before following each other in circles.

Now, I know that all sounds like such great fun, but the only thing that can possibly top that is throwing in some fireworks.

As I write this, Jax has not stopped barking long enough for me to even think, so feel free to comment that none of this post makes any sense. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Jax is barking so relentlessly, the kids are yelling for him to shut up, I’m yelling for him to shut up and my son, Marc, is yelling at me for yelling at the dog.

My poor Max is spending his weekend more like the dog in the photo below.

I can’t say that I blame him.

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All I can think is its only July 1st! I don’t know about where you live, but in Connecticut fireworks are plentiful and we like to stretch fourth of July out through the entire month.

So, before I lose my mind, yelling at my dogs who can not distinguish between the letter “J” or the letter “M” or screaming out the window at the neighbors to put the damn fireworks away…

I think I’m going to order these for the entire family.

Image result for images of dogs with ear plugs

Couldn’t hurt, I mean, it is almost August, right?

I Know That I’m A Handful…That’s Why You Have Two Hands…

As a small child, I remember waiting in anticipation as my mother tried to undo the child proof cap on my bottle of Flintstones vitamins. I can still picture myself spinning and hopping up and down on one foot as my mother struggled with the child proof lid. Eventually, she resorted to trying to pry a spoon underneath the cap.

I still remember being shocked as I watched my mother chuck the entire jar of Flintstone vitamins into the kitchen trash can and ask the universe, “Why am I even giving this kid vitamins anyway?”

Maybe it was at that moment that I realized that I was a handful, but let me tell you that it didn’t deter me from my active behavior.

My mouth and my honesty were just another thing that added to my hyper, extroverted personality. From the time that I could speak, I was speaking my mind.

When my sister, eight years my senior, had for some reason mentioned in front of me, that my future brother in law was an atheist, not only did I remember it… I announced it at a family dinner in front of both of my devout Catholic parents. My father almost choked to death on his food and my brother-in-law was as white as a ghost.

I’m sure you can image how smoothly that dinner went.

Fast forward to my current style of parenting and my relationship with John… I think you’ll be able to draw your own conclusions about the “lack of boredom” that exists in our lives.

But here’s the catch, you reap what you sow.

I am now the mother of three outgoing, opinionated boys that have propelled my entire existence into a tailspin.

Touche’.

Since my boys were small, strangers would approach me and say, “I see that you have your hands full.”

It was true.

It was even funny…until it became a theme that I just wanted to avoid.

I  have seriously often thought about making myself up a t-shirt that read;

“Yes, I know that I have my hands full. Please don’t bother to approach me and tell me. I’m completely aware.”

I guess that I never acted on it and had the shirt made because the sentiment was just too damned long, or maybe I was too afraid that it wouldn’t deter the large amount of the population that took pleasure in pointing this fact out to me on an almost daily basis.

Nevertheless, I am totally okay with who I am today. I also admire so many things about all of my son’s directness and sense of humor.

I’m the mother that has been called to school because my son Marc apparently is, “a chick magnet.”

I’m the mom that has been threatened with a lawsuit because my son Kevin made a video in detention that has taken on a force of it’s own and had the support of the entire school staff.

And yes, I’m the mom that had to go to Rocky’s defense when he wouldn’t remove his Penguin’s hockey hat at school because he was in dire need of a haircut and refused to take his hat off in class.

I’m a handful.

My kids are a handful.

I am well aware of where all of that stems from.

I guess that I’m just glad that God gave me two hands.

But for now, we’ll all forgo the vitamins, just to be on the safe side.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Kindergarten!

I remember it like it was yesterday…taking my first-born, Kevin, to his kindergarten entrance exam. I arrived on time with Kevin (5 years old) and my younger son, Eric (2 1/2 years old) in tow. Don’t be too impressed with my punctuality, the school was around the corner from our house. We filed out of the car and as I swung Eric into position on my right hip, I was struck with a wave of nervousness. I knew that Kevin was smart but I had no idea what they were going to ask him in the interview. I said a quick prayer that Kevin would pass the kindergarten entrance exam and headed towards the front doors of the elementary school.

Once inside, introductions were exchanged and Kevin was seated at a long table across from two teachers. Things started out well. The teachers handed Kevin a piece of paper, a pencil and some crayons.

A pleasant dark-haired teacher asked Kevin to write his name. Kevin followed her instruction and wrote his first and last name on the bottom of the paper. I beamed with pride.

Eric was already starting to get fidgety, as I pulled on his arm to try to get him to sit down. Before we left the house Eric had insisted on wearing a Superman t-shirt with an attached cape, a purchase we had made at Six Flags that summer. It hadn’t dawned on me when I dressed Eric that morning, but he had the full intention of getting his Superman cape to fly behind him and began circling the table in the small room.

The teacher moved the crayons towards Kevin and asked him to draw any picture he wanted. As Kevin went to work detailing a beautiful picture of a train, I chased Eric around the table trying to get him to be still. Glancing back at Kevin engrossed in his drawing, I tried to no avail to ward off his brother’s Superman distraction.

“Don’t worry.” the teacher stated, “The baby is fine. We’re almost done here.”

I tried to force a smile while I worried that all of the commotion had resulted in ending Kevin’s interview earlier than it should have. I quickly got back to Kevin’s side as the second teacher asked Kevin, “So, what is your brother’s name?”

Kevin sat quietly for a moment then took the crayon and wrote a large “E” in the upper right side of the paper. The “E” was backwards and I had to stop myself from saying “NO” out loud.

Kevin continued and wrote Eric’s named completely backwards and upside, right to left. I held my breath for a moment before I realized that Kevin had written Eric, mirror image and upside down, so it was facing the teachers and easy for them to read.

Both of the teacher’s mouths dropped open as Kevin slowly slid the paper across the desk toward the teachers and said, “That’s my brother’s name.”

I was still in shock as we walked out to our car.

I said to Kevin, “Buddy, that was really cool what you did with your brother’s name.”

Kevin shook his head yes and just replied a simple “Ya.”

Kevin. My film maker, my writer, my radio talent, actor, voice over guy…my rapper. There has always been something special and unique about my first-born son. I knew it when he was young and I know it now.

I love you Kevin and I can’t wait to see what you do with all of the amazing gifts that you have been blessed with. You make me proud everyday.

 

“I Tasted It With My Eyes And I Don’t Like It”

What is it about kids and food? They love it, they hate it. It makes them giggle with joy and anticipation, it makes them cry. There is nothing more frustrating than worrying about what your child does or doesn’t eat, or how much. When my son Eric (aka Rocky) was an infant he was such a picky eater, that every time I gave him baby food he would throw it up on his high chair tray. My concerned mother offered to babysit him and took the opportunity to puree all of his vegetables straight from the garden. Ultimately, he threw them all up on the high chair tray too. When Eric was a toddler he only ate graham crackers. We stocked the pantry full until, one day, he shook his head “No” to graham crackers. That was the beginning of the long list of the only “one food” that my child would eat until he became sick of it. I don’t get it but I have learned that it will all turn out okay in the long run. So for a few moments, put aside the incessant worry that your child isn’t eating enough of the right things or getting the proper nutrition and embrace the crazy ride.

Did you ever buy something just because you had a coupon? When Marc was four years old I picked up a bag of Tyson frozen Any’Tizers: Chicken Cordon Bleu…they came in a small appetizer ball, easy to eat. I followed the instructions, heated them up and served them as a side with our family dinner. Needless to say they were a big hit! Marc announced at the dinner table, “Can I have some more blue balls? I LOVE blue balls!”

Good for you, Marc. I’ll check back with you in twenty years on that statement. Enough said.

Eric would only eat spaghetti…any other kind of pasta became a negotiation…”But Eric, penne pasta is spaghetti’s cousin…” all to no avail. Eric only liked spaghetti. One day at my parents house, my mom made stuffed shells for dinner. She thought nothing of reaching over to cut Eric’s stuffed shells in half so they would be easier for him to eat. Once Eric saw the ricotta cheese inside, he was mentally done with the meal before he even started.

“Eric, eat your dinner.” my father stated

“No.” Eric replied

“Why won’t you eat it?” my father asked

Eric said, “Because I don’t like it.”

“How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t even tried it?” my father inquired

Eric replied, “Well, I tasted it with my eyes Papa, and I know I don’t like it.”

Maybe we’ll never understand what is inside of the mind of a child when it comes to food. What I have learned is to take it all in stride and laugh out loud when the situation presents itself…before you know it you will be shopping for and feeding a teenager that lives to work out and consumes a protien only diet.

Can I interest you in a Chicken Cordon Bleu Ball…I have a coupon?

 

 

 

 

 

Another New England Snow Storm

All of your friends in other states are laughing as they send photos of the beach and sunny skies. Part of you says, wouldn’t that be nice? What are we doing here, still in New England? You know you dread the frigid temperatures, the shoveling, the treacherous roads…

Yet, deep in your heart you secretly love the snow day. You loved it as a child and you embrace it as an adult… the unexpected, random day off, the silenced alarm clock, the weight of the warm covers and the chance to sleep in.

You’ve done the footwork, watched the weather channel, grocery shopped for what seems like a months worth of meals in preparation and Googled the school closings. Yes, there is shoveling to do but the beauty of the snow glistening on the barren tree branches takes your breath away as your hands clasp your steamy cup of morning coffee.

Your kids are so excited that they race outside laughing and playing, light of heart, while your dog barks with a snow-capped nose as he chases after them. Without a doubt, a huge pile of wet clothes, hats and mittens form on the floor next to the dryer…only to be ignored due to the hot chocolate topped with whip cream and a batch of warm toll house cookies straight from the oven.

A lazy day…

A fire…

A board game…

A nap…

A snuggle…

A long conversation…

A family movie…

Whatever it is that makes your snow day special, have no doubt that it IS SPECIAL. It is all of these things that make beautiful memories. It is also one of the many things that I love about being a New Englander.

In fact, I wouldn’t trade it for the hottest beach or the sunniest sky.

Not My Kid…

Let’s face it, all kids get into mischief no matter how hard we as parents try to prevent it. It seems commonplace today that the majority of parents proclaim their child’s innocence and defend them, no matter what the extent of their child’s transgression.

Just for the record, I am not that parent.

When the middle school called and began to explain in great detail, how my son, Marc took the opportunity to climb the stage, grab a microphone (that was inadvertently left plugged in) and address the entire fifth grade student body during his lunch wave, I wasn’t at all surprised. I didn’t argue. I didn’t defend. I know my son, I live with him.  Apparently Marc felt the need to publicly confront an issue regarding the teachers inability to really listen to the students. I took a deep breath and rolled my eyes. Of course the school did comment that Marc was very articulate in expressing his views and he did get a standing ovation.

“Marc!!!” I yelled, as I hung up the phone…that kid I’m going to kill him!

I have certainly been there before…When we lived in a community with a home owners association that maintained the grounds, the community pools and the rules, my children certainly found a way to butt heads with them. The association complained about my boys playing roller hockey in the street. They also complained about Kevin playing the drums in our garage during the day, on a Saturday. Neither sat well with Kevin or any of my boys for that matter.

Returning from work late one night, I drove by the pool at the entrance of our complex. As my headlights hit the welcome sign (Encased in plastic with snap in letters), it no longer read “The Annual Meeting of the Home Owners Association will be held May 4th at 7:00 PM.” as it had when I left for work.

I stopped and sat in my car as I reread the sign again.

“The Anal Meeting of the Home Owners Association will be held May 4th at 7:00 PM”

I had to laugh out loud before my anger started to rise.

Kevin. That kid, I’m going to kill him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying By the Seat of My Pants

As a mom, I’d like to say that I have it all together, but I know that most days, I’m just flying by the seat of my pants. I consider myself a seasoned multitask-er, in fact, I pride myself on it. Yet try as I may, It’s hard to pinpoint when I went from handling all of the challenges of home, work and kids to just winging it.

If I’m being honest with myself, I’d have to say I lost a little ground with each beautiful life that I brought into this world. Sleep deprivation is a tactic used on prisoners of war and also a staple of motherhood. After my first son was born, I thought I was doing great. The house was clean, laundry was folded and vacuuming the rug was next on my list. I spent 40 minutes looking for the powdered, shake on carpet freshener that I loved to apply to the carpets before I vacuumed. I eventually gave up looking for it, chalked it up as a lost cause, and (cringe) vacuumed the rugs without it. It wasn’t until the baby woke up for his next feeding that I found the carpet freshener perfectly chilled next to the baby bottles in the refrigerator. Could I really be that tired?

Fast-forward to raising teens,  and I’m pretty sure that I had slept more during the infant stages of my sons’ lives. Now, I pace the floor, lie in bed staring at both the ceiling and the clock, all the while repeatedly calling their cell phones, unanswered, until well past 1 a.m. Am I ever going to get any sleep?

On one morning in particular, (which is just one example of a day in my life) I woke up to Eric’s groaning announcement, “Mom, I puked in the tub!” What better way to start your day at 6 a.m.?

But wait there’s more…

There is always more.

The usual morning argument with Marc has begun as I am trying to call the high school to report Eric’s absence.

“Mom, I missed the bus! Can you drive me?” Marc yells.

“Okay, you have to wait a minute. I’m on the phone with Eric’s school,” I reply. I then finish cleaning the puke, wash up, throw my hair in what I call a “mommy clip” and grab a fresh pair of jeans from the clean laundry basket that I’ve yet to fold.

On the heels of my third consecutive night of work, I am up at sunrise and once again making the twenty-minute trek to the middle school. I drop the grouchy “morning Marc” off saying, “I love you honey. Have a good day!” and drive the twenty minutes back home.

Just in the door, my phone rings. It’s the school. Are you kidding me?

“Mom. I forgot my gym clothes,” I hear Marc say. “Can you bring them?”

“Yes, Marc.” I say while thinking just the opposite.

Driving back to the school all can think about is lying down. I have to work again tonight. I just want a little rest.

The only parking space available at the middle school is a block from the front door. I shiver in the cold the entire way until they buzz me in. I make a stop at the security desk, sign in and am greeted by a security guard who, of course, knows my name.

“How are you today?” He chirps.

“Living the dream,” I reply.

I enter the main office and I am warmly greeted by the secretaries and the school principal who instruct me to bring Marc’s gym clothes to the nurse’s office.

Back in my car, I glance at the clock. No sense in lying back down now. Maybe I’ll stop and get a cup of coffee at the corner gas station near my house. I am counting down the hours until I have to be in work while I’m factoring in all of the things that I need to get done today.

While I’m at the coffee station preparing my fresh, hot cup of morning java (my first of the day), a man walks in. I notice that he’s looking at me. The morning bustle at the store begins to peak at the coffee station and I have the unsettling feeling that all eyes are upon me. “Should I feel uncomfortable or flattered?” I think, as yet another man gives me the once over, looking me up and down.

Maybe I’m just rocking this no make-up and mommy clip thing, I start thinking…

Until…I glance down at my leg and notice that I have a hot pink pair of satin and lace panties stuck in the cuff of my pant leg, and static cling against the front of my shin.

All eyes are still on me (and I’m pretty sure that my face matched the shade of my lace panties) as I attempt a discreet peeling of the panties from my leg and stuff them into my purse.

Maybe they were all thinking that I had a  night of unbridled passion or an amazing one night stand.

I’ll just let them keep guessing. I know that I’m just flying by the seat of my pants…

…and those pants just happen to be satin, lace, and hot pink.

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Picture

I don’t care what anyone says, it’s hard work potty training boys. Sit, stand, aim. Boys just seem overwhelmed and uninterested. I tried everything… a sticker box and glossy chart to go with it, m&ms as a reward, and the old tried and true, Cheerios in the toilet.

By the time my first-born was off to preschool, I desperately tried to entice him with a shopping spree for “big boy pants” all his own. In the store, we both in stood amazement staring at the vast selection. Immediately, Kevin fell in love with the Spider-Man four pack. That was easy, I thought. Each of the underwear had a small picture of Spider-Man on the front, a large Spider -Man scene on the back, and all were trimmed in different primary colors. Kevin was so excited! I was excited too, but for the reason of putting the expense of pull-ups behind me. At the time, I was also paying for Pampers for his brother Eric.

After a trial run over the weekend, the novelty of the new “big boy pants” hadn’t worn off. When Monday morning arrived, Kevin took pride in dressing himself for school. I encouraged his new-found independence, giving his snap close jeans and Spider-Man T-shirt a once-over and a quick and prideful expression of approval.

“Kevin, I am so proud of you!” I said with delight.

Kevin beamed a smile back while we were on our way to his preschool. In the car, I explained about wearing “big boy pants”, using the potty (like we had at home), and of course, the importance of washing your hands.

“I’ve got this!” I thought, feeling like the best mom ever.

As soon as we entered the classroom, I discreetly let the preschool teacher know that Kevin had a great weekend potty training and that he was actually wearing underwear. I think I was as proud as Kevin was. Feeling hopeful that I had finally conquered the potty training battle, I left for home to catch up on the laundry and house cleaning.

Hmm. Not a call from the school. Kevin must be doing great. I knew it. One down, one to go and I’d be well on my way to financial freedom.

When I returned to pick up Kevin, the teacher was busy with another parent. I thought, well, no news is good news. We drove home, got out of the car and went inside for lunch and then a well deserved nap.

Kevin was playing in the family room with some toys when I called to him that lunch was ready. It was then that I noticed that his jeans were unsnapped. “Kevin, you didn’t snap your jeans. Come here and mommy will fix it for you,” I said.

Kevin came running over. I pulled his jeans together but was unable to snap them. I tried again. They were too tight or there was just too much material. It was then that I noticed that there was definitely too much material. I could see the bands of color from his big boy pants…red, yellow, blue and green.

“Kevin, how many pairs of big boy pants do you have on?” I asked.

Kevin matter-of-factly replied, “All of them.”

I asked Kevin, “Why did you wear all four of them?”

“I couldn’t decide.”

I pulled at the material bulging out of the fly of his tiny jeans. Sure enough, there were all four pairs of Spider-Man underwear. Looking more closely, I could see the large colorful scene from the back of his underwear. He had them all on backwards.

“Kevin, why did you put all of the underwear on backwards?”

“I wanted to see the big picture, Mom.”

I chuckled, but little did I know that Kevin would grow into a young man who always seeks the big picture in life and in turn never gets hung up on small details.

Maybe, that is a lesson for all of us.

 

 

 

 

 

A Serene Life

I always imagined a serene life. Sure, I wanted the white picket fence and plenty of babies. I like so many of you,  oohed and ahhed over the tiny shoes and adorable onesies. I always wanted to be a mom. In fact, I think it was all I ever wanted.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that motherhood would give me the God-given ability to put together with ease, sentences like, “Hold on a minute mom. GET THE SPATULA AWAY FROM THAT CAT! Sorry, you were saying?” or “What is this RUBBER MALLET doing in the bathroom towel basket?”

Little did I know that this was only the very beginning of the craziness. I have so many funny, as well as exasperating stories of raising my small brood of three boys. (Just for the record, three kids feels like ten kids. Trust me on this.) Part of me doesn’t even know where to begin, as the stories compile daily, and sometimes by the hour.

I promise, I will make you laugh until your sides hurt…and just maybe, you’ll find the strength to get through what you’re dealing with on any given day.

Stay tuned! And most of all, my greatest piece of advice, don’t ever lose your sense of humor!