Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grab Your Store Ads and Comfy Shoes...It's Time To Shop!

I can't believe that it's almost here. I look forward to this holiday all year long and when it is over, I am always just a little sad. It's a day full of togetherness, fun, and ...SHOPPING! It's almost Black Friday people! What? Did you think I was talking about Thanksgiving?

For about the last oh, seven years or so, my Mom, sisters, and I all brave the crowds and the store crazies’ to embark on our yearly Black Friday shopping extravaganza. I believe that Black Friday is like Las Vegas; everyone should try to go at least once in his or her lifetime. But all of the fun and the finding of great deals can be a little overwhelming if you've never done it before. Here are a few tips to get you through your first Black Friday experience...

First of all, don't even think about going out that early without a big ole cup of coffee. "But Amy," you say, "I don't drink coffee." I don't care. Coffee is a must to start Black Friday. It doesn't matter where you go, if you want cream and three Splenda, or you take it straight up black, but you are going to have some coffee because its part of the routine by God and no one messes with the routine. Got it? Good.


Don't go in with a list of "must haves." For example, "I must get Uncle Harry that nose hair trimmer that Sears has for 98% off!" I promise you that if you do, you will most likely have to duke it out with some little old lady who saw the last trimmer from across the store and Heaven help the shopper that gets in her way of buying it for her dear, sweet Melvin whom she loves with all of her heart, but can't look at one more damn day if he doesn't trim that disgusting nose hair that she has had to look at for the last seventy-eight years and is now so long that she fears it could strangle her in her sleep, and by God she has lived on this Earth for too long to go out like that, so give her that freakin trimmer girly! Now if you aren't opposed to fighting with the elderly, then by all means, go get you a trimmer, but I think that it is more fun to just stumble on the deals.

So you’ve done some shopping and even though you swore that you would never be hungry again after stuffing yourself silly with three helpings of Aunt Mable’s famous pecan pie, you actually feel like you could go for some lunch. This is important, you must get to the food court about a half an hour earlier than any normal person would fathom eating lunch because if you wait until a socially acceptable lunch time, you will find yourself scanning the jammed packed room overflowing with hungry shoppers all looking for an open table. But there are no open tables, and when you see an open table you will look up and notice another shopper eyeing the same table. Your eyes will lock and in both of your minds there will be a gunshot signaling that, “It’s on boys,” and you will both race at top speed for the table, taking out small children and stray shopping bags in the process, until one of you reaches the table first, throwing yourself on top of it and declaring, “Mine, mine, mine, mine, Sucker!” The “”Sucker” is important because what good is winning if you don’t gloat just a little, right? All I’m saying is eat lunch early.

Of course, at some point in your day you will require a potty break. All I can say here is to try to go early and then limit your fluid intake because the integrity of the bathrooms goes way down as the day wears on. You would have better luck finding a more hygienic bathroom if you hiked back to that gas station that you saw on your way to the mall that had the chalk outline on the sidewalk and the police tape around the front of the building. Now if you are a professional Black Friday shopper, then you have been training for the last three months with a rigorous squatting program and you now have thighs so strong that you could hover over the most vile public toilet on the universe. If that’s the case, then drink up and go often. This is what the last three months of training have been about.

Last, but not least, know when to get out. Eventually the stores will be so crammed with people that not even a door jam greased with Crisco will be able to allow one more person through. Even if you haven’t completed your list, just leave because by this point, you have been dealing with people for so long that you will have no patience left and your fuse will be so short that you will have no idea of what you will be capable of doing and before you know it your day will end with you making your one phone call home to see if someone will bail you out.

Happy Black Friday everyone and Mom, Ang, and Mal, I am looking forward to our day out just like I do every year. Ang, don’t forget the hand sanitizer!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Car Seats: Made By Graco...Engineered By Satan

Thursday night, after a colossal parenting misstep on my part, Elyse dumped half an Icee in her lap on the way home from Wal Mart. When I bought the Icee, I knew that it was a mistake, but Aaron was getting one and I couldn't deny my sweet baby girl of the frosty-blue goodness. I knew that a decision so reckless would come back to bite me in the buttocks and boy did it ever.

Once we got home and I got her out of the car seat, I began to access the damage. At first glance it didn't seem too terrible. I've seen worse messes. But after closer inspection, once I got the car seat out of the van, I realized that “this was no boating accident.” It was a full-on shark attack of the seat fabric and the protective padding underneath. Of course, that is after I struggled to undo the LATCH system that, while it keeps my precious cargo safe and secure in her seat, is an absolute nightmare to remove. Not just a regular I'm running from Bill Clinton, and my legs are made of Jell-O, and we're going up a flight of stairs kind of nightmare, but more like the epic if I could just find Bill Clinton and slay him with the bronze dagger, I could finally go back to my tribe where I will be queen of the cookie people and will live happily ever after in the castle made of fudge nightmare.

So I got the thing out of the car and into the house and found that all of the crumbs that had gathered under the padding mixed with the Icee and created a gelatinous paste. There was no doubt that the entire thing; padding, belts, buckles, everything, had to be removed from the car seat and thrown into the wash. Not exactly number one on my list of things that I really, really wanted to do at 7ish PM, but if I had let that crap sit until morning, not even Bill Mays' most powerful infomercial miracle would undo the evil that was the Icee/crumb mush.

Now, taking a car seat apart is a walk in the part compared to the "when was your last rectal exam" horror that is attempting to put it all back together again. In order to get it all right the first time you need a PhD. in Rocket Science and a strong background in Engineering. Since I have neither, and a Houdini I am not, I didn't put it together right the first time...A blunder that I only realized AFTER the car seat was back together and re-LATCHed into the van, AND I was trying to strap Elyse into it on our way to a meeting at church.

I kept trying to put the buckle together but the thing would NOT click. My first thought was that some of the Icee had gotten into the buckle, got all sticky, and wouldn't allow it to go together right. Then, after I somehow managed to remove just the buckle, ran it under hot water, and then put it back in the seat, I realized that son of a BLEEP I put the pieces that go into the buckle in backwards. Yeah, backwards. The only way to fix it was see where this is going right...remove the whole car seat, take it all apart again, and try one more time.

Finally, after some screaming from Elyse, threatening Aaron with canceling Christmas, and quite a few tears from all of us, I got the seat put back in the van the right way and we got on the road. That will teach me to buy an Icee.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mommy Word Problems

1.  If it takes twenty minutes to clean up one mess, and for every one mess that you clean up, the kids make three more, how long will it take you to clean the entire house?

2.  Your child has a doctor's appointment at 10:15 AM and you live 20 minutes away from the office.  How early should you leave your house to ensure that you make it to the apopoinment on time? 
  • Add an extra hour if you have a newborn.
  • Add an additional fifteen minutes for each additional child that is going with you.
  • If you are flying solo, cross your fingers and say a prayer.
  • How do you feel about speeding?
3.  If a train leaves the station at 2:00 PM going 45 mph and you leave the house at 2:15 PM to go to Wal Mart traveling at 55 mph, calculate the odds that your little princess won't have an apocalyptic meltdown in the middle of the feminine hygiene isle because you ventured out so close to nap time?

4.  You and your husband are planning a date night for this weekend.  You have two children and both of them have been perfectly healthy.  Determine the correct ratio that best reflects your odds of neither child getting sick the morning of your date thus requiring you to cancel date night.  Multiply that by 10 if it has been more than a month since your last date.

5.  Johnny has 5 toy trucks.  Timmy has 2 toy trucks.  If your playgroup last for 2 hours, how long will it take Timmy to throttle Johnny for an extra truck, thus requiring you to immediately leave the playgroup in shame?

6.  1 cookie has 250 calories.  6 cookies have 1500.  How many cookies will you need to eat to feel better about your disastrous trip to Lowes with your seventeen month old?  Multiply that number by 25 to determine your guilt level for having eaten so many cookies.  Now, take the number of cookies that you ate, factor in your guilt level, and predict the odds of you getting on the treadmill to work off those cookies.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Am Not A Control Freak And No, You Are Not Allowed To Disagree With Me.

The other day, Aaron brought home his second ever homework assignment which was to decorate a picture of a turkey over the weekend and then bring it back on Monday so that it could be placed in the preschool "turkey farm."  The note that was attached to the picture encouraged the kids to use any materials that they wanted and to get creative.  The turkey was supposed to reflect each student's personality.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Yeah, not so much.

When I was a student, I always put weekend assignments off until the very last minute on Sunday night and the thoughts of that unfinished homework tortured me all weekend.  I knew that this turkey deal wasn't a five page paper describing the origins of the turkey and how it has impacted society today...a project that I assume would require much time and research and Googling...but it was an assignment nonetheless, and I felt that it was a good opportunity to teach Aaron to do things right away and to not put them off.  So during Elyse's nap we got to work on the turkey.

I love art projects.  I love to color, and paint, and glue, and use colored glue as paint, get it.  So I was all over this turkey thing and I had all of these ideas for how we could make my Aaron's turkey unique, but all he really wanted to do was use glitter.  It didn't matter where the glitter went or what color it was, he just knew that glitter HAD to be part of the equation.  So I'm all, "Really, do we have to use glitter.  I don't ever recall seeing a sparkly turkey before."  But I could tell that he wasn't relinquishing the glitter.  So then I had this awesome idea to use felt on the turkey's body and my pinking shears would make it so look all feathery and stuff especially if we alternated layers of dark and light brown pieces of felt   Oh this was going to be good. 

Well, he was on board with the felt, but under no circumstances was I supposed to be the one to wield the scissors.  I was like, "But Aaron, look at how great this would look if you cut it like this and then glued it over here and..." and he was NOT buying it.  You know what he did?  He took his regular old boring scissors, cut two squares, well sort of squares, and glued them right on top of each other on the turkey's body.  I almost cried.

After that I figured I had lost all control and I just let him do it the way that he wanted, but honestly I really thought about tracing that turkey so that I could make one of my own.  Plus, I knew that the right thing to do was to just let him have full control because, well, it was his turkey.  I also knew that I would feel like a moron if he took in this perfect turkey that was obvious that he had a little "help".  I could see the look on his teacher's face now like, "Mrs. Hicks, are you really sure that you had nothing to do with this turkey's incredibly realistic feathers and fancy top hat?"  And I would be like, "Absolutely not!  Just what you are implying lady?"

So here it is.  Aaron's turkey...

Even though he took none of my suggestions, I still think that it is pretty awesome and I know that he is really proud of it which is the important thing, I guess.  Maybe when I take him in to school tomorrow I can smuggle an extra turkey out under my shirt.  I still have some great ideas.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How To Organize 1000lbs Of Crap...Short Answer...You Can't

I am currently in the middle of the most extensive home-purging project that I have ever conducted in my entire home-owning adult life.  If we haven't used it, thought about using it, or made plans to think about using it, then it's gone.  No questions asked.  No tears shed.  A bu-bye.

It started with the closet in the living room, the room that is next on the hit parade to receive a new coat of paint.  I really want to use this opportunity while things are crazy because of the painting, to take stock of what we are really using and toss what we aren't.  Plus, our home is in desperate need of some storage solutions and I figure that this is the perfect time to implement a new system.


I took everything out of the closet, a closet that is supposed to be a coat closet but is actually a landfill for shoes, coats, umbrellas, and toys, "great day in the morning," the toys.  There just isn't a way to organize that stuff.  Every time I look in there I see more and more crap and it's getting to the point that I'm not sure if we need to organize or find one hell of a plunger.

So now that it is all out of the closet, where in the world am I going to put it?  Obviously it's been stashed away in there because there IS no other place.  I doubt that a new storage option is just going to materialize out of thin air and I have already Macgyvered the shit out of every other available space in the entire house.  Now what?

That's when I turned to the family room.  Now there is a small cabinet area down there, but it was filled with a ton of other stuff that we have been holding onto for the sole purpose of playing the "But what if we need it" game.  I decided that that game sucks and so I pulled everything out of there in order to have a place for the newly sorted toys and games from the "coat" closet.  Honestly, I have wanted to tackle that cabinet for a while, but...., oh do I even need to explain why I haven't gotten to it?  I mean, you get it, right?  The laundry, the dishes, the regular cleaning, oh yeah, and the children; add it all up and it's a wonder I even dressed myself this morning. Besides, at that time we were still enjoying ourselves with the "This Could Come In Handy One Day" challenge; it was my turn and I was debating Mike on the usefulness and versatility of poly-fill doll stuffing.

Long story short, (too late, right?) now I am on to all of the kids toys that they just don't play with anymore in order to make room for the new stuff that Santa is going to bring to further clutter our already over-stuffed house.  The sad thing is that never am I happier than when I have stuff to organize and sort.  I mentioned this once before and to put it simply, organizing is my cocaine and I'm a big ole crack whore. 

So I am crazy into making lists and trying to decide if Rubbermaid makes enough storage solutions to accommodate the insane amount of stuff that I still have to find a home for or otherwise smuggle out of the house with out the kids noticing. I just hope that Aaron doesn't ask me why that garbage bag is singing the Diego theme song because I'm not good under pressure, I'll have no excuse, and I will have to give them back all of their stupid crap.

PS  Hi Tim! I hope you enjoyed the "Great day in the morning" shout out  : )

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Moments That Remind Me Why...

I don't think that it is any secret that motherhood has been a little more difficult for me than I had thought it would be before I had children. I had a skewed, idealized vision of what I thought it was like to be a mother, but anyone that actually is a mother can tell you that no book, blog, or television interview with the Supper Nanny can prepare you for how completely it will change your life, how intensely difficult it can be, or the fact that it is the most painfully wonderful experience that can challenge, break, and renew you all at the same time. There are a lot of times when I question if I am doing a good job or if I can do it at all, but then there are moments that remind me how amazing being a mother truly is and how in spite of all of the frustrations, tears, and meltdowns-both mine and the kids, no matter how hard it gets, even when I want to throw my hands in the air and hop the next flight to Abu Dhabi, I wouldn't change my life for the world because these two babies are my world.

It's moments like watching Elyse laugh with her whole body over the funny face that Aaron is making, or hearing the two of them giggle so innocently (sometimes not so innocently) at a joke that only they get.

It's seeing Aaron turn to Elyse for a hug when he is upset and watching her embrace her brother until he has calmed down. She is so small and yet she has one of the biggest hearts that I have ever seen.

It's the excitement in Aaron's voice when he announces that Elyse is awake and the eagerness with which he runs to her room to be the first to see her in the morning. It's only matched by the smile that takes over Elyse's entire face at the site of her big brother.

It's watching the two of them playing together, meeting Mike's gaze across the room, and knowing that we are both thinking, "Can you believe that we made them?" They are only here because of us and what a crime it would have been to deprive the world of two such amazing little people.

When I'm knee deep in the trials and tribulations of motherhood, it can be difficult to see these moments and to fully appreciate them, but they are always there waiting to remind me of why I wanted to be a mother in the first place. They're what keep me going and they are the reason that I wanted to start this blog; to capture the moments that might have otherwise been forgotten. I will never forget how I felt on the days that they were born, and the moment that I saw them for the first time, but there are memories and moments that are just as significant that might have gotten lost in the day to day routine had they not been written down for me to come back to one day to remember, to relive. Like the other evening when I was getting Elyse dressed for bed and she was mesmerized by my mommy necklace. She looked at it for a long time breaking her gaze only to look up at me with those huge blue eyes that sparkle when she smiles. When I stood her up she hugged me and said, "Pretty Mama."

It's when no matter how many games we've played, or how long we have been outside, or how many train tracks we have built, Aaron still wants more time with me. It's only been recently that I have realized that that means that somewhere along the line, even when I have thought that I was a complete failure as a mother, I have been doing something right.

I don't know that I will ever completely feel like I have a handle on this job. I think that there are always going to be times when I question whether or not I was really cut out to do this, but no matter how much I doubt or how often I question, I know that I will see it in their faces, and I will hear it in their laughs so that one day when I look back at these moments and relive these memories, I will know that yes, I was a good mother.

Friday, November 6, 2009

This Is The Job That Never Ends...Yes, It Goes On And On My Friends...

No, I will not do it. You can't make me. I absolutely refuse. No! No, no, no, no! There is no way on God's green earth that am doing another load of laundry. You're going to have to figure something else out because I am finished. Hire a Mistress of the Laundry whose only purpose is to wash, dry, and fold. Find the least disgusting laundromat, save up your change, and haul that crap to the location of your choice. Load up a wagon, trek down to the river, and beat your clothes on a rock. Whatever it takes to ensure that you're clothes are clean and you don't look like a hobo because my laundry days are OVER!

Well, that's what I would like to say to the family, but we all know that I am way to neurotic to allow them to go without clean clothes. What would the people think? You know the people. The ones with eyes, that look at you, judge you, always watching. Those people. It's just that I am so tired of doing the laundry. It never ends...ever. Even when I think that I am caught up and that there is no more dirty laundry anywhere in the house, I find something. Maybe it's a sock, or a pair of pajamas, something that sits there, dirty, mocking me, laughing, and that is all that it takes. That one stray article of clothing mutates into two stray pieces and before I know it, I am buried under a mountain of dirty clothes thinking to myself, "But I was just caught up. Where in the hell did all of this come from?"

We are a family of four for Pete's sake. We're not the Duggars. How can two adults and two children make so much laundry? It's a mystery to me, but I know that I have had it. Currently I am on load number two of what will most likely end up being six or more, and the saddest part about that is that I had done four loads on Tuesday. Three days ago. This past Tuesday. So if I don't post for a few days or you don't see me for a while, please send a search party because I am most likely buried beneath a gigantic pile of clothes and my only food source will be the gum and Chapstick that I discover in Mike's jeans.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Riddle Me This...

In our house, Aaron is known as the Riddler. No one can compete with his ability to ask a ridiculous amount of questions in a very minuscule about of time. Sometimes his questions are interesting and well thought out like when he wants to know how a stream came to be in the woods. Other times they are so off the wall that they render me speechless for a good six seconds until I can regain composure and come to terms with the unbelievable amount of brain cells I am going to lose by trying to come up with an answer to such an unbelievable question like when he asks, "Why do we eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner?" Uhhhhh....

This was our conversation on our way home from preschool today:

Aaron: Mom, snake starts with a "C" huh.
Me: No, it starts with an "S".
Aaron: Nu Uh, it starts with a "C".
Me: No Aaron, snake starts with an "S".
Aaron: NO IT DOESN'T!!!!
Me: Yes it DOES! S-N-A-K-E, SNAKE, Snake starts with an "S"!!!!
Aaron: "X"?
Me: No "S".
Aaron: "X"?
Me: NO, "S"!
Aaron: Mom?
Me: What Aaron?
Aaron: Did you forget to take those things into the house?
Me: What things?
Aaron: Those...The paper towels.
Me: Oh, yeah. My hands were full and I couldn't carry everything.
Aaron: Well, Daddy can carry everything. Can you believe that?
Me: Well, Daddy's all that.
Aaron: Mom...?
Me: Aaron, if you ask me one more question I swear I am pulling over and leaving you on the side of the road.

So I guess he should be getting in about any time now. We really weren't that far from the house.

*Ok, so I made that last part up, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really thinking it.*

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oh Really...

Since Aaron has started preschool, I think of him very often when he is not home and I try to imagine what his day is like. Is he having fun? Is he working hard? Is he behaving himself? When he comes home, he offers very little information no matter how hard I pry, despite all of my most serious attempts to drag even a small piece of dirt out of him. Sometimes though, you can learn a whole lot just by observing and today I learned an interesting little tid bit that he so interestingly managed to leave out.

In his class, the teacher uses a behavior system in which there is a classroom tree and everyone has a monkey in the tree. If you misbehave, your money comes out of the tree, and you don't get to "feed" him a banana sticker at the end of the day. Each week, if the students have behaved themselves, they should have four stickers and then they get to pick a prize out of the treasure chest. So far, Aaron has always had all four stickers at the end of the week, but last week when I went to pick him up on Wednesday, he seemed off. When I saw him he looked upset about something, but when I asked him about it he said that he was fine. The next day was the day of his Halloween party and while I was helping the other homeroom mom set up, I noticed that Aaron didn't have a sticker for Wednesday. I didn't think much of it because since he leaves early, I thought that maybe the teacher had just forgotten to give it to him before he left.

Fast forward to this morning...

The teacher was having all of the kids line up to "feed" their monkeys because they had forgotten to do that since the party was so crazy. So Aaron got his banana sticker and hung it up and the teacher didn't say anything about the fact that he only had three out of four stickers. When he walked away I said, "Did he get his monkey taken out of the tree?" She said, "Yeah, he was running in the classroom with another boy." Well now it all makes sense. I thought that it was really funny because it wasn't like he was beating up another kid or anything, he was just running which is SO Aaron, but I found it interesting that he didn't tell me about it. I would think that that would be something that would stand out from the goings on of the day or perhaps it stood out so much that that is why he seemed upset when I got him on Wednesday and he was too embarrassed to tell me.

When he came home, I asked him if he had his monkey taken out of the tree last week and he got this grin on his face that screamed BUSTED! He said that he did and when I asked what happened he very matter of factly said, "I was running." Just like that, "I was running." I just laughed and said, "Well, let's try to get all four stickers this week ok." I didn't want him to think that he couldn't tell me when these things happen for fear of getting in trouble again at home because I think that having the monkey taken out of the tree is all the punishment that a running offense requires. Now if he had gone all Ralphie on some Scott Farkas type, then I might have to discuss the matter a little more in depth, but if running is his only offense, I think he is doing pretty well.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

May The Force Be With You...Oh Yeah, and Trick-or-Treat and Stuff

So Saturday night we took the kids trick-or-treating and they had a blast. Last year Elyse was only four months old and so she stayed behind with my mom and napped while the rest of us took Aaron around. This year though, she trick-or-treated like a pro. She held her little pumpkin out to anyone that would give her candy and she thanked them all with a huge, adorable smile; every single person.

Aaron is all about Star Wars this year and he went as Darth Vader. In keeping with the Star Wars theme, Elyse was Princess Leia. They were so darn cute I wanted to gobble them up.

Halloween is by far the worst holiday for Aaron where his peanut allergy is concerned. It seems so unfair that we have to take half of his candy because it either has peanut butter, peanuts, or was made in a factory with peanuts. He is really good about it though. Whenever he would get something that was questionable he would go, "Is this peanut free?"

Walking around I couldn't believe how big Aaron looked. It seems like yesterday that he was just a little guy that could barely walk in his monkey costume and now he was Darth Vader, running full speed ahead of us, wishing that Leia would step up the pace.

So Halloween is over and the world has turned their focus towards Christmas. Didn't we just take down last year's tree? All I know is that this year, not even one who is strong with the force will be able to keep Leia from tearing down our Christmas tree. I must consult the Imperial Senate to see what can be done.