Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stage Fright

I have a terrible case of stage fright that may require therapy.

Serious.  Therapy.

Not that I have a problem being in front of people.  Put me on a stage?  You'll need one of those Bugs Bunny hooks to drag me off.  Hand me a microphone?  You're going to need to put some serious Ultimate Fighter moves on me if you plan to shut me up.  Clearly, I'm not afraid of actually being on a stage.

It's my son who has me breaking into a cold sweat and popping the Pepto pills.

Last year, all four kids were together at the same pre-school, getting ready to perform in the same adorable Christmas program.  Granted, the Thanksgiving program they'd been in just a few weeks before wasn't a stellar success.  My Indian Princess did great and the two little Pilgrims were sweet, but Ty the Turkey stood up on the stage and acted like... well, a turkey.  But for some reason, I thought the Christmas program would be different.  All four kids were going to be on the stage together: a perfect, once-in-a-lifetime, Christmas photo op.

Mom and I started planning weeks before the actual program, sewing these adorable green Christmas jumpers for the girls and Rudolf-themed overalls for Ty.  I was convinced that a sanctuary full of parents would be watching my kids on the stage (in a sea of 400 ), commenting on the creative mother who helped coordinate such cuteness.

I was half right.

Ty spent the entire time lying on the bottom riser screaming  "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" at the top of his lungs and kicking at any teacher who came near him.

I spent the entire performance slumped down in my pew, crying.

People probably thought I was upset about Ty's performance.  But I was really crying because after the show, I had to take that screaming child home with me - for an entire Christmas break.

I thought Ty would do better in front of an audience this year.  He's much more amenable to school now that he's three, and he loves singing in the car.  And at the dinner table.  And in the bathtub.  So at Grandparent's Day last week, I assumed he'd be fine.

Granted, the morning didn't start off great.  He wanted to wear his Superman costume to school and wouldn't hear of taking it off.  I was in the middle of typing out a sign to pin to his cape - "I dressed myself this morning" - when he finally decided to change.  Still, we were late to school.  When I dropped him off in class, he clung to my leg and cried.  It did not bode well.

Sitting in the sanctuary, I tried to think of all the worst case scenarios and their subsequent solutions.  (Pretty much every solution consisted of me pointing my finger and asking, "Whose kid is that?")  Meanwhile, the director was working the audience to find out which grandparent had traveled the farthest for Grandparent's Day.  Michigan and Ohio were the clear winners.

As it turns out, I didn't need to worry about Ty's performance on the stage.  The minute he saw me, he hurled himself into my lap and refused to budge.  An audience full of grandparents enjoyed this:

Ty's grandmothers got this:

That's a fake smile, but at least I'm not crying.  All I could think was, "I'm just relieved nobody had to fly in from Michigan to see this."

I also had some Pepto in my tummy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where Fish Go to Die

Last December, a friend of mine bought the twins a fish for their birthday.  The girls were totally stoked and named their new friend Sally.  My husband, on the other hand, was less enthused and couldn't believe that my friend would buy our kids a pet without asking us first.

"She asked me a few weeks ago.  You know how much the girls love animals.  I told her it was a fantastic idea."

I am an idiot.

Sally was in our home roughly 4 hours before Ty found - and dumped - a year's worth of fish food into Sally's tank.  I'm not sure how much the little pink fish had eaten by the time I found her, but she wasn't really pink anymore and her stomach was completely distended.  She was still trying to choke down - or spit out - one last pellet.

It was obvious from the way Sally kept floating to the surface that she was going to die.  I scooped her into a plastic cup and cleaned her tank in preparation for the new fish I'd clearly be buying the next day.  Then I told the girls to say goodbye to Sally.


After this convincing argument from my 5-year olds, I decided to dispose of the body after the kids went to sleep.  Of course, I forgot all about poor Sally once they were in bed and I was pouring my second glass of wine.

Lucky for Sally.

It turns out she survived the night's gluttonous orgy and managed to live for another 8 months before I found her once again floating at the top of her tank.  This time, I think she starved to death.  I'm pretty sure the twins stopped feeding her regularly after Month 4.

Sally's funeral was held the morning I found her, just before I sent the kids off to school.  The twins cried and said their goodbye's to Sally as I dropped her into the toilet.  Then, holding hands, they reached over and flushed the handle together.  Their teacher later showed me the journal pages they colored that morning: one showed a little pink fish floating at the top of her tank, while the other - also showing a pink fish - was scribbled over in black.

An art therapist I ain't, but my little girls were clearly grieving.  So I did what any (idiot) mother would do and bought them two more goldfish.

Lilly made it three days and Sally Two survived for four.  Emily shed a few tears over Lily, but Evie skipped Sally Two's funeral in favor of breakfast.  That weekend, however, we were back at PetSmart.  This time, the girls picked out a large, male beta.  He seemed healthy enough to me, living in that little plastic container, so we took him home.  Along the way, the girls argued over names.  They ruled out Sally, on account of him being a boy, and asked me for ideas.  I suggested Max, Alfred, or Red.

"He's not really red, Mommy," Emily explained.  "He's more reddish."

Reddish lasted about two weeks... I think.  I couldn't say for sure, because I thought he was dead at one point, but then noticed his gills fluttering.  The next day, he looked like he was trying to swim.  The day after that, he was definitely dead, but I left him floating there for a few extra days just in case, and then flushed him while the girls were at school.  It's been nearly a month, and they still haven't noticed he's gone.

Not that there won't be at least one more fish funeral in our future.  Ella - not to be left out when we bought Reddish - talked me into a goldfish named Sarah.  Sarah's hanging in there, but last night I noticed an inordinate amount of food floating in her tank.

"Ella, who fed Sarah so much food today?"

"Oh, I did, Mom.  I went ahead and fed her extra so she'd have something to eat for breakfast."

Ella will not grieve quietly.  I might need to plan something a bit more dramatic than the small, dignified funerals we've been having.  Does anyone know where I can hire mourners for a fish burial?

Maybe I'll Google it just in case.  Sarah's looking a little peaked today.

Friday, October 21, 2011

TMI: Now in Pink

It used to be that October was about pumpkins, and leaves, and adorable costumed children out panhandling for candy.

Now it's about boobs.

Don't get me wrong. I am all in favor of raising breast cancer awareness. I'm alarmed by the number of women in my own personal life who have or are continuing to battle breast cancer. I'm just not in favor of all the pink. Pink ribbons and yogurt lids are one thing. But big, burly men chasing a pigskin down the field in pink shoes? I'm not sure sure it says, "Do your monthly self breast exam," so much as it says, "Tackle me, I'm wearing girl's shoes."

Personally - and this isWAY oversharing - those monthly exams don't take me very long. There's just not that much ground to cover.

I confess that I've tried to compensate for my lack of endowment once or twice in life. At first, I used those silicon inserts you can stuff in your bra. You know, the ones that look like chicken cutlets but are marketed as "Curves?" But then I started dating my future husband, and as things got serious, it felt like I was living a lie. I tried weaning myself off by wearing them every other date for awhile, and then just once or twice a month. Eventually, they disappeared. I never did ask the hubby what he thought of my incredible shrinking breasts, but I suspect he was a bit surprised. And possibly disappointed.

My Curves didn't come out of their box again until a few years into marriage. As the new JV cheer leading coach at my school, I was forced to attend the compulsory first-of-the-year pool party. The thought of all of those cute, teeny-bopper girls in their cute, teeny-bopper bikinis was too much for my pride, and - I  confess - I decided to break out the silicon again.

Too bad my bathing suit didn't offer the support for a B-cup, because when the varsity coach's son took a tumble into the pool, I dove in after him. Twenty minutes later, I realized that my boobs had shifted south - to my hips.

That was the last anyone saw of my Curves.

Once I trashed the cutlets, I decided to find enhancement with a bit more self-support. Enter the water bra. Looks real. Feels real. Comes with straps.

I pretty much lived in my water bra until I wore it to the Bon Jovi concert a few years ago. Just before the show, my sister-in-law leaned over to ask if I was hot.

"No. Why?"

She pointed to the giant sweat patch under my arm. It turns out my bra had sprung a leak. I spent the rest of the night living on the prayer that I could hide my deflated left breast.

So these days, I stick to basic padded bras to give me the boost I need. Although, having experienced the pride and the subsequent fall of pursuing cleavage, I'd probably skip the padding at this point. Unfortunately, they don't make non-padded bras in my size.

Unless I'm willing to wear a training bra.

Which this month, are only available in pink.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lunch Money

One of the things I love most about my girls being in school all day is knowing that I am no longer responsible for what they eat at lunch. 

I mean, I am, but I'm not.  I pack three lunches every night and send the girls off to school every morning confident that I'm providing a healthy, balanced meal for my kids.  But I don't have to watch them to see if they eat it.  If they want to eat dessert first, they can.  I don't care.  If Evie wants to eat all of her lunch, and half of Emily's, she can.  I'm okay if she's okay.  If Ella wants to complain to her neighbor that she doesn't like yogurt, or chips, or bananas, she can.  Because I'm not there to hear it.

But since the first day of school, the girls have been begging me to join them in the lunchroom.  After all, other kids gets to see their moms at lunch - and sit up on stage at the parent tables - so why shouldn't they get to as well?  (OK, I'm pretty sure they were more more excited about sitting on the stage than actually eating with me, but whatever...)

So one morning a few weeks ago, I finally broke down and announced to the girls that I'd be joining them.  The only problem was, I didn't have any lunch fixings at home, or the margin in my day to hit the grocery store for food.

"Don't worry, girls.  I'll bring you something special for lunch today.  But it'll be a surprise!"  To all of us.

Fifteen minutes before I was supposed to be at the school, I whipped through a Chick-fil-a drive-thru and picked up 3 packs of chicken, 3 cups of fruit, and 3 milks.  Since the school offers ice cream at lunch, I figured I would top off the feast with an ice cream treat. 

Mom of the Year.  That's me.

When I arrived at the school, though, I realized that I had NO idea where to go or what to do.  I asked the woman sitting at a desk near the front door if she knew the what the check-in procedures were. 

"I need to scan your driver's license.  Are you in our system yet?"

"Um, I'm not sure."

"Then you probably aren't, so I'll need to take a picture for your visitor badge."

"Oh, okay.  Where's the cam..."  Click.  "Never mind."

"So here's your  visitor badge.  It has your picture on it, as well as a bar code for you to scan when you're ready to check out."

I was about to ask if the Secret Service had been by recently to review the school's security measures, but was interrupted when the woman pointed to my rather conspicuous Chick-fil-a bag.

"Are you not aware of our school's Wellness Policy?  We don't allow parents to bring any fast food into the school lunch room.  We're trying to promote a healthy environment for our kids.  Plus, we don't want anyone getting jealous that your kids got something different to eat."


"Gosh, I had no idea.  I'm, um, not sure what to do, though.  Lunch is starting now and this is the only food I have for my kids.  Could you tell me what's being served in the cafeteria today?  Maybe I could just buy their lunch in there."

"We're offering a choice of corn dogs, nachos, or PB&J.  We also have ice cream available for an additional fee."

I rarely speak my snarky thoughts aloud, but I literally had to bite my tongue on this one.  It was pretty obvious to me that the "Wellness Policy" could just as easily been called the "Give Us Your Lunch Money Policy."  Forget the bullies on the playground.  Clearly, I was going to have to watch out for the lunch ladies. 

"Um, you know what?  Is is possible for me to sneak this in just one time?  I've already spent money on all this food, and what with the economy being what it is..."

These days, it's never a bad idea to play the Economy Card.  The security guard front-desk-lady actually let me in, with a reminder not to bring fast food bags again.

You know what?  I won't.

Next time I'll transfer the nuggets and fruit into plain brown lunch sacks.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Does It Need To Be This Hard?

I love those "demotivational" posters by  It must be my snarky sense of humor, because they always make me laugh.

Especially this one.
(I expected times like this - but I never thought they'd be so bad, so long, and so frequent.)

Yeah, that pretty much sums up where I'm at these days.  Sure, I knew there would be challenges in raising four children so close in age.  But is it really supposed to be this hard?

1.  Ty still isn't potty trained! 

He manages to get his liquids in the right place at the right time... most of the time. 

Except for yesterday, when he peed once at school. 

And twice on my clean kitchen floor.

But the real challenge is getting him to make a sit-down deposit.  Most days, he poops in his pants, takes off his pants, puts the offensive matter in the toilet, cleans himself up, and puts on a clean set of cloths... by himself.  I keep trying to convince him to cut the middle man, but so far, he hasn't taken my advice.

Although today he did he poop in the yard, pull up his pants, and skip clean-up altogether. 

I didn't realize what he'd done at first, but I also knew for absolute certain that we don't own a dog.  Ty confessed while I was scooping up the fly-covered pile.

2.  Since we're talking about potty troubles, I might as well tell you that Ella wets the bed pretty much every night.

Ty might be able to manage his liquids for the most part, but Ella can't.  Or doesn't.  I haven't really decided which it is, yet.  All I know is that I've been washing sheets a minimum of four mornings a week for over three years now.

The problem is, Ella - like Ty - tries to clean up the mess on her own.  She strips off her wet clothes and crawls into someone else's bed (sans proper undergarments) and falls back to sleep.  Suffice it to say that no mattress has been left unscathed.

Including mine.

3.  My children whine.  A LOT.

I know, I know.  All kids whine.  But people who've spent extensive amounts of time with my children?  Well, let's just say that they're all quite diligent when it comes to birth control.  In fact, I'm thinking about renting the kids out to our local schools. 

Talk about "scared straight."

Although I still can't figure out why they whine so much.  It's not like I ever cave to their demands.  I suppose that I do torture them rather frequently... by making them eat my homemade buttermilk pancakes...

... or telling them to wear socks...

Oh, the horror.


I could probably spend plenty of time listing out more of my pitiful complaints, but honestly, I'm tired.  I need to get some sleep.  I suspect I will face a lot more challenges tomorrow which will require my perseverance.

(The courage to ignore the obvious wisdom of turning back.)

Or not.