Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Little Liars

When I first started back to work, I wrote this post...
 The Facts of Life

Here I am about 7 months in and I'm still looking for that new normal.  That balance of employee, mom, wife, housekeeper, cook, event planner, and all the other jobs I'm too tired to name right now.

Blogging is so far down on my list of things to do.  I think about it.  I think about it all the time.  I think, remember when I just used to blog about little random things?  Remember when I used to tell stories?  Remember when I used to be funny or serious or emotional?  Remember when I didn't just post big things?  Remember when I posted every holiday or vacation or activity?

Well, I do remember.  But time is not on my side these days.  Right now, I should definitely be working.  I was just off for a week for Spring Break.  I tried to catch up yesterday since I'm in meetings from 9AM today until Noon on Thursday, but I barely made it through email and voice mail. 

But guess what, I have a story.  Just a small little thing.  But something I never want to forget.

My Freddie is four.  I had forgotten how much I love four.  Four is incredible.  It's definitely one of my favorite ages.  Freddie does four awesomely!  I love how four is stuck between a baby and a kid.  More than any other age - so far - it is very transitional.  Four year olds have big vocabularies, but still have lisps and pronunciation issues.  Four year olds are totally self sufficient...almost, if you don't mind milk on the floor or shirts on backwards or shoes on the wrong feet.  Four year olds can wash their hands and brush their hair, with a step stool.

But I love it.  I love the imagination that suddenly appears.  I love the questions from nowhere.  I love that little pudge hand in mine.  I love the constant conversation.  I love the energy.  I even love the little fibs, because how can you not laugh at someone so determined to mislead you, yet not mature enough to pull it off?

Yesterday we walked in the door and just like every day Freddie announced that he was hungry.  I gave him some cereal while I walked the dogs.  When I came in with Gatsby Freddie asked "Mommy, I'm still hungry.  Can I have some shochocolate?" (side note - I wish I could do justice to his little voice in writing...so cute)

"Not right now Freddie.  Maybe after dinner."

I come back from walking Brinkley and Freddie said "Mommy, I didn't have any shocholate."  I didn't ask, didn't accuse.  He just said it as soon as I closed the door behind me.

I turn around to this...


"Freddie, you have chocolate on your face."

He screws up his nose, cocks his eyes and says "What?!?!?!"

I nod and say "Yes, you have chocolate on your face.  So you did have chocolate?"

"No I DIDN'T have shocholate.  Mommy, that's just dirt."

Okay, well then, excuse me.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Freddie IV

Dear Freddie,


I'm finishing this today if it kills me.  I started this the day after your birthday...2.5 weeks ago.
I'm beyond late.






The other day you pouted your lip from your car seat and said "Mommy, Daddy hit me today."  You crossed your arms over your chest and "hmphed."

"He hit you?"  I responded and you nodded.
"Well, why would he do that?" I asked.

"Um, weill...he told me not to pee on the tree, but there was no terlit, so I peed on a tree."

"This happened today?" I asked

"No, at soccer.  Daddy says I can pee on a tree at soccer because there is no terlit.  There is a terlit but it is yucky and I don't like yucky terlits."

"But you said Daddy hit you today because you peed on a tree?  I'm not sure I understand."

You stared back at me in the rear view mirror.

"Mommy, what's for dinner?" you asked and the whole hitting-peeing on tree story is over.

I texted Daddy, he had no idea what I was talking about.



You make me laugh.  Everyday.  Your stories, your shy grin, your clompy run, your gruff voice...everything about you makes me smile.

You are such a boy.  I told you the other day that Cohen's first word was going to be either poop or penis and it was going to be your fault.  You giggled and fell to the floor because I said poop and penis.




You are so rough.  You turn everything into a weapon.  You run around pretending to be a cowboy or a Power Ranger or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, or most recently, a Jedi.

Your imagination is getting out of control.  I am astounded by the games you and your sister can come up with.  You know no limits.



Your hair is amazing.  Any girl would kill for your hair.  It's the perfect shade of blonde and full of wave.  Strangers compliment you daily.  Even the little old ladies who think you're a girl.




You are very sensitive.  Your feelings get hurt easily.  You have a giant heart, and it breaks easily.  You are shy and wary of strangers.

On the way home from your birthday party you said "Mommy, is it steill my birfday?"
I told you it wasn't, it was just your party.  You asked "Can we stop singing happy birthday to Freddie?"  You hate it.  You always have.  You don't like being the center of attention.



You are so smart.  I mean, you just pick things up so quick...I'm amazed at what you know and what you can do.  Your teachers adore you.  You are going to be that kid that everyone loves, even though you question everything and maybe get yourself in trouble.  It's impossible to be mad at you.  You have a reason for everything you do.

I love watching your little brain work.  You are curious.  You have an answer for every question and a question for every answer.



You asked me "Mommy, where is your frow up when you are not frowing up?"
"Well, buddy, you only throw up when you're sick in your belly.  So if you're not sick in your belly, the food stays in your belly," I answered.
'Ewww Mommy!  I don't eat frow up!" you yelled.
"Freddie, it's not throw up when you eat it, it's food.  If you have a sick belly, it becomes throw up."
You gave me that "whatever you say" look and said "That is yucky."

Something happens at 4.  It's like all the way through being 3, you're still this baby/toddler type person.  Then 4 hits and you're a certified kid.  I'm loving you as a kid.  If I were a kid, I'd want you to be my friend. You are this perfect mix of sweet and rotten, sensitive and loud, sweet and funny.  I am so looking forward to this year with you.




I have endless stories about you.  You are my little clown, my dirty mouth, my sweet cuddle bear.  So much of my happiness is wrapped up in your little hand.

I love you Freddie monster.  I can't believe you're 4.  I hope it's the most awesome year yet.

Love,
Mommy


Friday, February 21, 2014

That Time My 6 Year Old Asked About Same Sex Marriage

I think if you read my blog, if you know me, you know how I feel about same sex marriage. I think it's discriminatory and down right mean to assume that anyone can dictate who another can love or marry. So I am a supporter.

However...

I've never talked to any of my children about it. My kids are young. They watch a lot of Disney movies where a prince and princess meet, fall in love, get married. I honestly don't know if my kids are ever in contact with kids who have two dads or two moms. It has never come up. And I'm not really one to bring those things up. I figure all in good time. When they have a question, they'll ask.

I'm not going to lie. These conversations do make me nervous. I know that my kids will see this and experience this WAY more than I did as a kid. That's a good thing, I think. But, it still doesn't make it easy to explain. Don't get me wrong...I'm dreading any kind of sex/love/intimacy talk down the road. This just happens to fall into that category.

See, I have 37 years of life experience. My viewpoints are shaped by those experiences. To try and explain romantic love, emotion, sex, to a child who doesn't have any experience with that is difficult. When all they see are girl characters falling in love with boy characters, it's not easy to explain the reasons or the motivations. They see what they see, and they think that's all there is.

A few weeks ago we were home, probably because of snow or sickness or cold weather. Who knows. But we were all home, on the couch, watching TV, playing, reading...

Clif landed on a replay of the Grammys. Not sure why, we don't watch those kind of things. I think we both find them dull and indulgent on the part of the honorees. Maybe Tay-Tay (Taylor Swift) was singing. We do enjoy her in our house.

Whatever the reason, we were soon in the middle of the Macklemore/Queen Latifah/Madonna Same Love wedding ceremony. Before I could even make a decision as to whether or not I wanted to have this discussion with my children at that moment, there we were watching multiple couples joined in matrimony. There were heterosexual couples, interracial couples, homosexual couples. I'm sure you've seen it or heard about it.

And there it was, two men kissing on the TV.

"Mommy, did that man marry a man?" Ainsley asked.
"Yes," I replied.
"I didn't know a man could marry a man!" Ainsley said.
"Sure, a person can marry any other person. It doesn't matter as long as they love each other." I explained...in my head I was quickly trying to figure out how to explain this to her in terms she'd understand.
"So then if they have a baby, there will be two dads?" She asked.
"Yep," I said.
"Cool."

And that was it. She went right back to doing whatever it was she was doing before the wedding caught her attention.

I know this is the first of many conversations we will have about this subject, but know what struck me? How absolutely fine she was with it.

I am a supporter of same sex marriage. I'm a supporter of love in any form. But apparently I have my own preconceived notions. Don't we all? I expected her to ask so many questions and to think it was weird. But why would she? To her, marriage is just two people who love each other. We've tried very hard to allow our children to be who they are and not put them in boxes based on gender or race or eye color. I'm proud of us for that conversation. Proud that she saw no issue. It makes me very hopeful for our future. I think maybe our kids are going to turn around and teach us all how it should be done.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Fine Line

When I was a kid, I got to pick one thing to do.  I took ballet for a year, when I was very young.  I liked it, I can't remember why we stopped going.  I took piano lessons for about a year.  I hated it, I never practiced...I was horrible.  Same with the trumpet I tried to play for...about a year.  My mom's rule was that I couldn't quit.  If I signed up for something, I couldn't quit it.

Eventually, I found softball and that's what I stuck with.  I was always playing softball.  Fall ball, winter conditioning, spring ball, summer travel ball. If I wasn't at home, I was playing softball.

As an adult, I'm a bit regretful that I have zero musical ability, but as a kid I never felt sad that I stopped any of the instruments I tried.  It just wasn't me.  It probably still isn't, but it would be nice to sit down at a piano and play something every once in awhile.

Now kids are so scheduled.  My kids are all under the age of 7 and already we've done ballet, tap, jazz, cheerleading, swimming, soccer, and girl scouts.  Ainsley has asked to take gymnastics and ice skating lessons.

When you work full time and have three kids, it is tough to do everything your kids want.  I can't sign her up for a gymnastics class at 4 on a Tuesday afternoon.  We can't go to swim practices at 7 AM every summer day.  Most of our extracurricular activities happen on the weekends.

Since Ainsley was 3, we've had dance every Saturday morning.  She has loved dance.  Now, let me be clear...she's not the best dancer.  I see the other girls in her class, she is right in the middle of the pack.  There are girls who are just naturally good at it.  Ainsley is not naturally good.  But she has worked hard and always learns her steps.  The thing that Ainsley has over most of the girls I've seen her dance with, is personality.  She is a performer.  She has imagination and energy.  She may tangle her feet during a shuffle ball change, but she does it with a smile on her face and lightening in her eyes.

At least she did.

This year, things changed.  We had to go with a different teacher.  Same studio that is owned by friends, but now the owner was no longer her teacher.  The owner that Ainsley has just adored from day one.  The owner that was teaching ballet, then tap/jazz beginning at 4PM on Wednesdays.  We live 30  minutes from the studio and Ainsley doesn't get off the bus until 4:15ish.

Immediately I saw a change.  This teacher had a different style, one that I knew immediately was not going to work with Ainsley.  I wanted to give her a shot.  She was new, all of these girls had been dancing together with the same teacher for years and she needed to assess their abilities.  But as the weeks went on and I watched Ainsley laying down in class, twirling during instruction, and talking to herself in the mirror - I knew this wasn't working.

About three weeks in, it was a fight to get her to go.  That was in September.  I told her she had to make it to the winter show.  They had already started preparing and she had made a commitment and it wasn't fair to bail on her teacher and class.  She made it to the winter show, even though I felt like she had learned next to nothing.  She didn't know her steps and for the first time ever, was nervous to be performing.

After the winter show I spoke with her old teacher.  She thought maybe we could bring Ainsley to her class and just not attend the first hour of ballet, but keep her in tap/jazz.

We agreed.  Ainsley agreed.  It would mean giving up after school cheerleading, but Ainsley so bad wanted to be back in her class.  So now I leave work a few minutes early on Wednesday, pick up Cohen, pick up Ainsley and rush across town to get there by 5.

The first week we were 10 minutes late.  As we walked in the classroom, I could tell Ainsley was nervous.  And I could see that she was behind the other girls.

Last night, we were right on time, but as soon as I sat her down to change her shoes the tears started and she told me she didn't want to go.  She had been saying it all week, but I thought she'd be fine once we got there.  It took me and the teacher 10 minutes to convince her to stay.  So she danced, through tears at first, but then her smile returned and I saw her laughing by the end.

There is a fine line between quitting and knowing when its time to move on.

Sure, I'd love to be able to play the piano...but know what?  There was only once that I wanted to quit softball.  I played for 11 years and only once did I entertain the idea of quitting.  I started at 7, played all the way through high school, tried out for the college team and that's when I knew.  It was time to move on.  I did and I don't regret it.

But with a 6 year old, how do you know?  It is a struggle to get her there.  It is something that I know nothing about, so I can't even help her.  I don't like seeing her cry.  I don't want her to think it's okay to quit, but I also don't want to force her into something she doesn't enjoy anymore.

Right now, I 'm pushing her into it because I know how much she once loved it.  I'm trying to view it like I view forcing her to eat broccoli.  I know what's best...but do I?  Or does she?

I'm hoping it gets better, that I see that big ole grin on her face even when she misses a step.  That she lights up the stage even when she's turning the opposite direction of everyone else.  She is not the best dancer.  She will not be a Rockette or perform with the American Ballet...but I do love to watch her love dance.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Brothers

I have a brother and a sister.  Me, Nathan, then Carolyn.  Nathan and I have never been very close.  We are very different people.  I love him, he loves me, but we lead very different lives.  I remember playing together as children, but the older we got, the less we had in common.

Carolyn is my best friend.  We are very close.  I've had lots of friends, still do, but I've never felt like I had a "best friend."  Someone that I could call no matter what, someone who could lean on me, someone I felt comfortable to bare my soul to, someone to do anything and everything with.  Funny, because she's been right there since I was 5.  But see, it wasn't always like that.  We weren't very close growing up.  There are 5 years between us.  That's a big deal when you're a kid.  One's learning to walk while the other plays dress up.  One's learning to drive while the other is playing Barbies.  The older we get, the more we seem to have in common, the more we relate to one another.

I always wondered how it would have been if Nathan had been the youngest, and Carolyn and I were less than 3 years apart.  If we would have "found" each other sooner.  But that was not the plan the universe had.

When I had Ainsley she became my whole world.  When the thought of having another baby entered my mind, I always pictured another girl.  A sister for my sweet baby.  Then came Freddie.  And when I again decided it was time for another baby, I still thought girl.  How can you go through life without a sister?  And there was Cohen.  Seems the universe has other plans for Ainsley, ones that don't involve a sister.

Brothers...something I don't know a lot about.  I remember a pesky little brother that defied my every word.  I remember rolling around on the floor punching each other in the nose.  I remember screaming matches and curses and throwing things.  There was a lot of fighting between me and my brother.  So I also wonder, what if Nathan had had a brother?  Since every girl deserves a sister, doesn't every boy deserve a brother?





My set of brothers are new.  They've only been brothers for 8 months, but already I see this crazy bond between them.  All Freddie has to do is walk through Cohen's line of sight and Cohen is on cloud nine.  Freddie is Cohen's favorite person, hands down.

Freddie sees Cohen and his whole demeanor can change in the blink of an eye.  He can be crying and throwing a fit when Cohen laughs and the whole world is right again for Freddie.

It's hard to imagine them fighting or picking at each other.  I'm not stupid, I know it will happen...but right now, they are just so in awe of one another.  Cohen pulls Freddie's hair and Freddie just laughs.  Freddie bonks Cohen in the head and makes him cry, Freddie cries with him.



This connection between them has surprised me.  If you had asked me last spring how I envisioned things, I would have told you that Ainsley would be the little mom and Cohen would cling to her because she would want to help with him all the time.  I would have said, Freddie's going to be jealous.  He's mommy's baby and I think he's going to be upset when my attention is split.

I could not have been more wrong.  Ainsley loves Cohen and she loves to help with him, but she is also very involved in her own play time and school and friends.  I haven't seen one ounce of jealousy from Freddie.  None.  It has shocked me.



Not that long ago, I watched as my rough and tumble 3.5 year old gently held and kissed his baby brother.  He stroked his hand and snuggled him close.  He stared at his face and said "Cohen?  Cohen?  I love you Cohen."   And I watched this little baby mesmerized as he pulled on Freddie's locks and giggled every time he heard his name come out of that little mouth.

I said to Clif, "Freddie just loves him so much.  He's so gentle.  I can't believe it sometimes."  And Clif said, "That's his baby brother.  That's a special thing."

And Clif would know.  He is a big brother, with a baby brother.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Over. IT.

I started a post this week called "Brothers."  I haven't finished it, because this week?  Was not my most stellar.  So today, instead of finishing that very sweet post I was writing, I'm writing a rant post because I feel like if it doesn't come out in a healthy way I'm going to explode and take people with me.

What am I over exactly?  Name it!

Snow days? Over it.
Too cold for school days? Over it.
2 hour delays? Over it.
Taking away already scheduled days off because of previously mentioned issues? Over it.
Runny noses? Over it.
Coughs? Over it.
3 hours of sleep at night? Over it.
Sinus headaches? Over it.
Stomach bugs? Over it.
Middle of the night vomiting? Over it.
Working from home with kids that are too sick for school but too healthy to be miserable on the couch? OVER IT.

I think I could go on, and on, and on...

I am in a serious funk.  January has been rough.  I've been off of work or working from home way more than I've been in the office.  I'm feeling overwhelmed.

Working at home is nice...when my kids are in school.  When I'm working from home out of necessity - you know so I don't use all my days in a 3 week span in the middle of this SH**TY season - and 1, 2, or ALL of my kids are home with me.  That freaking sucks!

I spend all day in a gut wrenching, stress filled, ADD tailspin...

While I work, I'm thinking "I really need to strip the beds.  I'm pretty sure Ainsley threw up in her bed last night. Didn't she ask me for crackers an hour ago?"

While I clean, I'm thinking "I really need to give Ainsley a bath.  Seriously doubt the 4 AM, half-assed, hair wash in the sink is cutting it."

While I attend to the children, I'm thinking "I really need to get back to my email.  I know that report is due in an hour and SHIT, I'm missing a conference call."

And so it goes, round and round, and round again.  It's a vicious cycle.

I actually looked at our budget this week to see if I could afford to quit my job.  Because even though, I know we can't afford it and I seriously doubt I could deal with winters as a stay at home mom...it's got to be better than this feeling of being split in half.  Not giving my full attention to anything, being half a mom, half an employee.  It's got to take this weight off my shoulders that is dragging me through the mud.

I know I'm not the only one.  I know all working moms feel this way.  But when you're stuck in your house for the 3rd day with slightly sick, almost healthy children, and you've missed a deadline, and the kids are fighting over who gets to have the pirate cup, and your house is a wreck, and laundry has to be reproducing - has to be because no chance you own that many clothes, and you only got a few hours of sleep last night...it sure does feel lonely.

Then last night as I'm putting Cohen to bed, I read this article called "Are you wishing away what others are missing?"  And it's a very sweet article about different places in the parenting spectrum, told from a woman in my shoes with little ones and a woman with grown children.  And how the woman with little ones wishes it was easier to get them in the car, but the other misses their car rides together because those were the best conversations.  And the woman with little ones wishes the baby would walk so she didn't have to carry her everywhere, but the other misses the way she looked with a baby on her hip.  And you get the picture.

Well didn't that just make me feel like the biggest jerk ever after yelling at my kids all day because they are bouncing off walls and I am stressed and they are fighting and I need to get things done.  I do get it.  Look at the positive.  Find the good side.  I try...really I do.  I gotta say, there's not much good about a kid slipping in her own puke at 4 AM.  I'm not sure I can find the good side of that. 

Alright rant over...I'm back at work today.  Kids are back in school today.  Hopefully the nastiness has left our house and we can get back to normal.  And on the bright side, winter is half over.  I'm always less over things when the air is warmer and the ground thaws out.  So for now, I will just keep my sights set on Spring and the thought of walks to the park and sidewalk chalk and bike rides and children who actually get to use all this pent up energy that God "blessed" them with.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Middle

I love all of my children.  However, if someone tells you they love their children equally, that's not true.  I mean, I love them all...a lot.  And I could never pick one over the other, so in that way, I do love them equally.  But each child requires a different kind of love. 

I treat them differently.  Not in a Cinderella/Evil Stepmother/Bitchy Stepsisters kind of way, but you have to treat them differently.  All children are not going to respond the same to all forms of love, discipline, praise, etc.

I know this and it makes sense.  I have three different personalities, I should treat them three different ways.  The problem is, this all causes me massive anxiety.  Though I can't love and treat them the same, I worry that one day one of them will feel slighted.

Like for instance, I suck at baby books.  But I do have baby books for Ainsley and Freddie.  I don't have one picture in them and they are about half complete, but I have them.  Do not have one for Cohen.  Then there's all the knick knacky items.  When you have your first baby, people send you a ton of stuff.  So Ainsley has framed pictures with her name engraved in them.  She has hand prints and foot molds.  Ainsley has more Christmas ornaments than I do and I have been given 1 every year since the year I was born.  I believe I counted this year and she has 8 "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments.  Freddie and Cohen have none of that.  I did an announcement for Freddie, but not Cohen or Ainsley. 

And sometimes I think about this blog and realize I have been writing a lot about Cohen, but not the others.

So the other day I decided to write about Freddie, but I got behind and never made it happen.  But last night, he gave me an awesome story.  So here is a post about the middle child, my Freddie.  Who, I only have one picture of, by himself, on my phone and it's from Christmas morning - I will say, that this is not all my fault.  He is a monster and won't let me take pictures of him these days, unless of course I'm taking Cohen's 7 month pictures then he wants in on it so he cries and then you get sad face Freddie pics with Cohen.  But those are on the real camera and I haven't downloaded the pictures yet...for another day :)



*******************************************************************************

Normally, I pick up Cohen or Ainsley first.  It depends on how quickly I leave work, how miserable traffic is, if I feel like having 10 minutes to myself in the car while I play Candy Crush.  Picking Freddie up first is nearly impossible.  He's 10 minutes from the house and I just get nervous that I won't be able to get him out of his classroom, into the car, and to the bus stop before Ainsley's bus arrives.

But yesterday was Monday.  On Monday's Ainsley gets out of school early.  My aunt picked her up and she didn't need me home right away, so I decided to pick up Freddie first.  He rarely gets one on one time, and really that is when he is at his most manageable.

I casually talk to his teacher, walk him to the car, and strap him in.  No rush today.  We can chit chat while we drive to Cohen's daycare.

Freddie: Mommy, did you stay home today?
Me: Nope, I went to work.
Freddie: Ohhhhhh, I want you to stay home.
Me: What would I do at home all day while you're at school (am I kidding!!! what couldn't I do at home all day while my kids are in school?!?!?!?)
Freddie: Ummmm, I'm sinking (thinking).  You could watch a kid show.
Me: Well, I only watch kid shows with you and I have to go to work.
Freddie: But Westin's mom stays home.  Pease can you stay home.
Me: I can't Freddie, I have to work so we can pay for our house and cars and food and toys.
Freddie: But Westin's mom stays home, I want you to stay home.

He holds his hands together begging.

Freddie: Pease, pease, can you stay home.
Me: I can't Freddie, I have to go to work.  Anyway, if you're in school, you won't even see me.
Freddie: No, sometimes I will stay home with you.
Me: Oh, well, sometimes we do stay home together, just not every day.
Freddie: But I want you to stay home every day.
Me: How would I get money for food and toys and stuff?
Freddie: Hmmm (he folds his arms across his chest and thinks some more), I KNOW!!!!!
Me: Yeah? (please give me an awesome idea for earning money while sitting my lazy rear on the couch all day)
Freddie: I will aks one of you friends to work for you.
Me: Oh one of my friends will work for me?  Who would do that?
Freddie: You know, one of you friends at work. Dey will work for you.
Me: But how would I get the money?
Freddie: Mommy!  I jut told you, I will aks one of you friends to work FOR you.
Me: And then they'll give me the money?
Freddie: Yes.
Me: Wow, I have some nice friends.  I don't think that will work buddy.  Plus, wouldn't you be sad not to see Miss Tiffany or your friends anymore.
Freddie:  Weill, dey will miss me.  Miss Tiffany will miss me so much.  But I will see them on Fridays.
Me: So you'll go to school on Fridays.
Freddie: No, I will stay home and watch kid shows with you, but you will take me to school on Fridays for cookie day and then I will say hi.

That's my Freddie, always has a plan for goodies and TV!


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