You gotta laugh or you’ll cry

Did you ever have one of those days? I remember in college when “one of those days” involved a flat tire, or locking my keys in the car, or maybe running out of cigarettes. There was the day I locked my keys in the car and then got rear ended by a bus. That wasn’t a great day. But these days, one of “those days” is so much. . . grosser.

Today was already starting off on iffy footing. I didn’t get much sleep last night because Thomas was up coughing and Helen, who pukes anytime her temperature rises over 99.0, was up throwing up around midnight. And then at 4am we had giant, strange dogs in our back yard barking as if the world was coming to an end. It’s a little disconcerting to discover giant, strange dogs in your back yard at 4am.

So I finally get back to sleep only to be awoken by coughing and then fell back asleep again until finally waking for good at 7am. Which, two days ago, was 6am. So I’m tired.

But I had to go to the phone store, because the microphone on my new magic phone broke. Which means I can’t make phone calls. Which doesn’t feel particularly safe when I’m home with three kids.

So even though I know they’re not in tip top shape, I head to the phone store and hope and pray for the best.  We left just minutes after cleaning up a poopy potty training accident, so I figured the timing was good. With any luck, we could get there and back without a bodily fluid incident.

I already had my new phone, I just didn’t have the tricksy little device I needed to pop out the old SIM card so I could activate my new phone. Oh Verizon, the trouble that could have been saved if you’d simply included this tiny piece of metal with my new phone.

So I pack up the three kids and tell them to try not to cough too much in public because it makes people uncomfortable. Helen is wimpering because, God bless her, she really doesn’t feel well. Thomas is provoking Henry into playing Batman, and Henry, who really, really should know better, is playing along.

Then Thomas gets worked up and starts coughing. Okay, settle down, dude. And coughing. No, really, take a deep breath. And coughing. And, oh crap, gagging, and oh, oh no, oh, vomit. Crap. Catch it in his shirt. Wait there’s more. Okay. Oh shit. Okay Helen, Henry, you stay here. Don’t move. Carry Thomas to the car, catching as much as I can in his shirt. Oh good. Now it’s on my shirt. Oh and my jeans. Yay!

Out in the parking lot I get Thomas’s shirt off of him, without getting too much puke in his hair. I pull out the frozen diaper wipes to wipe us both up as best I can and thank God that, thanks to the joys of potty training, I have an extra shirt for Thomas in the car (no pants, we’ve used up all of those). All the while I’m laughing just a bit hysterically because, well, it’s better to be the crazy lady laughing with a half naked preschooler in the strip mall parking lot than the crazy lady sobbing with a half naked preschooler in the strip mall parking lot.

So we head back in wreaking of vomit to collect my two older children and my phone. As I walk through the door the nice man hands me the tricksy little device I need to pop out the old SIM card and tells me I can go ahead and do that and someone will be right with me to activate the phone. Oh that poor someone.

I really felt like I had to explain to the nice young employee why I smelled so bad. I’m trying to laugh and make the situation as natural as possible, but we smell horrible and there’s still vomit in my kid’s hair.

To his credit, this guy was really, really nice and didn’t act disgusted at all. I joked that not only was this not the first time I’ve been puked on in public, it’s not even the first time I’ve been puked on in public by this kid.* He said, “And I thought my job was hard!” I said, “Well, you have to deal with  crazy people like us, so yeah, it is hard.” He then told me, that we aren’t the crazy people. So now I feel really sorry for the guy.

The activation process was mercifully fast and we were free to take our odious insanity home for the day. Why, God, did I think I could pull off such an advanced parenting feat as taking three sick kids to the Verizon store? Kids. They’ll keep you humble.

 

Thomas the Public Puker
Thomas the Public Puker

 

*A short list of the places Thomas has puked outside of our home: the front porch of our house, Safe Splash Swim School – in the pool, the “dining room” at Wendy’s, Chili’s, the parking lot of the grocery store. I’m sure I’m forgetting one or two.

 

 

Perceptions

My sister sent me this link this morning with the note, “This video made me think of you.”

 

So of course I watched it right away.

And as I watched it, my stream-of-consciousness went something like this.

“Um. Ok. But I quit smoking when I became a mom. . . Does my sister really see me as that old and run down? I mean, I get that this is funny and I can see why it would remind her of me, but, it kinda stings a little. She could have maybe just thought of me and not told me about it.”

See, my sister is 8 years younger than me. Her first baby just celebrated his first birthday and she’s still one of those perky young moms. She doesn’t mean to, but she makes me feel really old.

Then the “yoga mom” appeared on the screen. “Oh good grief,” I thought, “surely she doesn’t mean this woman reminds her of me.”

So my sis and I had the following text exchange:

“I honestly have no idea which mom in that made you think of me. Lol. I’m not sure I want to know!”

“The yoga mom, duh ;) lol”

“Well I’m flattered, but I’m really more the poo truck mom. ;)”

But before I texted my sister, I forwarded her text to my best friend. Who took an unforgivably long time to respond. When she did, we had this exchange:

“Lol!!! Which one are you??”

“Apparently I’m “the yoga mom, duh.”

“Oh!!! Of course. You and your yoga ways.”

Because see, my best friend, who has never made the mistake of putting me on a pedestal, knows that while I may have moments where I look something like the yoga mom,  I’m really more the poo truck mom.

So my little lesson for the day. Deep and profound so get ready for it. Even if you feel like the poo truck mom, there’s probably somebody out there who thinks you’re the yoga mom. And that yoga mom? She feels like the poo truck mom a great deal of the time.

 

 

February Burn Out

It’s that time of year. Christmas is behind us, spring seems so close and yet so far away. The winter doldrums have set in and we all feel restless. We want to shake things up. We want to breathe some life into the dreary surroundings. We want things to feel fresh and new rather than bleak and stagnant.

There are two things I always do this time of year – not intentionally, just as a result of a natural internal prompting. The first is to makeover my house. In the last couple of weeks I’ve bought a new (to me) couch, a new (to me) ottoman, a new rug, new (to me) lamps, a new shower curtain, and I’ve picked out paint colors and fabric swatches and on and on to spruce up my space. I love home makeovers on the cheap. The process revives me, and I always seem to go at it full force in January and February.

The other thing I always do in February, and I know I am not alone here, is rethink my home school. My oldest is in third grade now, and this is the first year this rethinking has not included the process of browsing local school websites.

I know lots of homeschooling moms come to February and start to think, “What am I doing? I am totally screwing this up. There is no way I’m teaching him everything he needs to know. We fight all the time. How do I know he’s learning what he needs to? I’m so tired of the daily battles! This isn’t what I thought homeschooling would be!”

I have so been there. And I will be there again, no doubt.  But since I’m not in that space at this exact moment, I want to share some encouragement for those who are – and for myself when I return there in the future!

So here are my words of encouragement to you, and to future me.

  1. You’re doing awesome. The sacrifices you are making for your children right now are huge and important and good. Homeschooling is an amazing gift you give your child even when it’s not perfect.
  2. School won’t fix it. Whatever “it” is, if your true desire is to homeschool, you can find a way to fix “it” at home. You may need to find more social opportunities – or cut back on social stuff for awhile. You may need to “buckle down” a little more with formal work – or you may need to take a break from the formal book learning and try a more relaxed, less schooly approach for awhile. You may need more discipline, or more fun, or more outside help, or to tune others out and listen just to your own voice for a bit.
  3. Sending your kid to school will not end the battles over learning. It will simply transform them into battles over homework. Do you have friends with kids in school? Do you know how much homework they have? Do you know how many projects they have? Do you know how many parent/teacher conferences, and back-to-school nights and socials and fundraisers and etc., etc., etc., you will have to attend?
  4. Even if you’re a bad teacher (and I promise you, you’re not, because if you were, you would never even have tried this whole experiment because you just wouldn’t have cared enough to suffer the headaches and heartaches), but even if you are a bad teacher, your kid is getting the benefit of one-to-one instruction. Do not underestimate the value of this! Do you ever feel torn because your’e trying to meet the need of 3 different kids? Imagine a teacher who has to meet the needs of 30 different kids. And then, in an hour, gets a whole new batch of 30 kids she has to teach. Think it’s easier because they’re all supposed to be learning the same thing? It’s not, because every single kid is different. And nobody knows your kid like you do.

If you want to homeschool, you can. You can. If you don’t want to homeschool, that’s fine. There are great schools out there! I’m not one to tell you that your kid will be forever damaged if you send them to school. I know school works for a lot of families. But you chose homeschooling for a reason. Probably for lots of reasons. If those reasons haven’t changed, and you still want to homeschool, don’t give up because you don’t think you’re good enough! You are good enough! You may need to change something, maybe just your thinking or your expectations, but maybe a new curriculum will help.

Almost certainly you need to be kinder and gentler to yourself and step back and realize that you’re doing an amazing job. Take a few minutes to write down everything you do with your kids and everything they’re learning. You’ll be amazed. Because you are doing an amazing job. I’m going to say it one more time. You are amazing. Because if you weren’t, you would never have even tried this insane experiment.

The Poor Third Child

My third baby.

I just came across a post on Scary Mommy on the difference between parenting a first and third child. It made me chuckle with recognition. But she left out a few things, so I thought I’d add my own.

Food

First Kid: Introduced one food at a time waiting three days in between each new food to make sure there was no signs of allergy. No sweets until his first birthday. On his second birthday he asked “can I have cake again on my next birthday?”

Second Kid: Introduced nutritious whole foods as she seemed interested in them. Didn’t worry too much about a cookie here and there.

Third Kid: Let him grab food off my plate whenever he wanted. Cookies are a perfectly acceptable breakfast, and if he whines for the “whole bag” of Doritos, well, so long as it keeps him quiet, why not?

TV

First Kid: I was totally neurotic about his exposure to television. If I watched TV while nursing him to sleep, I did it with the close-captioning on. He was not exposed to television at all until he was 2. Isn’t that what the AAP recommends?

Second Kid: She watched whatever her big brother was watching whenever he was watching it.

Third Kid: On the nights he wouldn’t sleep, I’d let him watch Weeds with me.

And speaking of sleep. . . 

First Kid: I had a very strict schedule for him. Not that he ever followed it. And man would it stress me out when he didn’t fall asleep at 9am for his nap. If it took me until 11 to get him to sleep for his morning nap, what the hell was I supposed to do for his afternoon nap? I was clearly a failure as a parent because my kid did not sleep by the book. And if you happened to be the unfortunate fool who woke up my napping baby? God help you. (Sorry, Dad. You were recipient of my wrath on more than one occasion.)

Second Kid: She was just naturally a better napper than the first. Whether it was experience (mine) or temperament (hers) this just went much more smoothly for me the second time.

Third Kid: He’s just as bad a sleeper as big brother was, but it doesn’t bother me nearly as much. In fact, having to be home for naps is rather inconvenient. You don’t want to nap? Fine. We’re going to the museum. You don’t want to sleep at 7:30? Fine. Play in your room with your trains until you do want to go to sleep.  Just don’t make too much noise. Mommy’s watching Fringe. (Hey, I still have some standards – that show is way too scary for a 2 year old.)

Gluten Free/Casein Free Experiment Day 3 (And a paleo meatball recipe!)

So far we haven’t had any complaints about our change in diet. I made sure to fully stock the house with favorite “safe” foods so no one would feel deprived, and it seems to be working.

Some of the behaviors I’m noticing that I’m hoping will go away. Henry’s shirt chewing has increased again this week as has his back talking, neediness/clinginess, and fixation on Minecraft. Thomas was particularly fussy today. We have compounding factors with Thomas – in addition to the diet change we’re also night weaning.

On a related note, I slept through the night last night for the first time in over two years! Woo hoo!

So here’s what the kids ate today.

Breakfast
Sausage, strawberries, dry chocolate chex cereal.
Once again, Helen ate everything. The boys just ate the sausage.

Lunch
Grazing on ham and fruit.
Mini Egg Pizzas from Eat Like a Dinosaur.
Helen (it’s so nice to have a good eater in the house!) gobbled them up, the boys wouldn’t even taste them. Which is too bad, because they really did taste like pizza and even had a pizza like texture. I will probably make them again and hope the boys will give them a try.

Snack
Peanut butter Chocolate Apple “Cookies”
These were great. Cut apples length wise so you have apple circles. (I know I should have pictures, but really anyway you slice the apple is fine.) Spread with peanut butter (or seed/nut butter of your choice). Top with “safe” chocolate chips. This felt like a huge treat!

Dinner
Paleo Meatballs and pasta sauce
Quinoa pasta shells

Dinner was a huge hit with everyone. I’m so glad I made a huge batch of meatballs! I cooked half of them with marinara sauce for dinner and the other half I cooked in some chicken broth and froze for future meals. Here’s the recipe:

Paleo and Kid Friendly Meatballs

1 cup almond meal
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt 
6 oz tomato paste
3 eggs
1 lb ground chicken

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
oil for frying
marinara sauce or chicken broth

Mix almond meal, coconut flour, garlic powder and salt. I used my stand mixer to mix everything up. Add tomato paste and eggs and mix well. Add meat and mix till everything is well combined.

Heat oil in a large pan until it sizzles when you drop something in it. Form meatballs to desired size. I used a one inch cookie scoop. Brown meatballs for a minute or so on each side and then transfer them to your marinara sauce or chicken broth. Simmer for 30 minutes or more until they’re cooked through. For our marinara sauce I used a jar of my dad’s homemade sauce, a jar of store sauce and about a cup of white wine. Is wine paleo? I don’t know or care. :)

The meatballs were awesome. They held together well and were delicious. Even with the big eaters gobbling them up, this made enough for at least two meals.  I’m sending a few of the sauceless ones in Henry’s lunch tomorrow.