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Monday, February 28, 2011

If I Am Being Brutally Honest

I love being a mom but I don't always love being a mom. This is a thankless job that is exhausting (and the pay stinks).

An obvious one that I am sure every mom can relate to is that I love when my kids come up to me, hug me and kiss me (I love that they are so affectionate) and tell me, "I love you so much, Mom." I do not love when they stomp around, hit their brother or sister because they really want to hit me and yell, "I hate you!"

I love being a mom when I come home from being gone for a short time and my kids act like I have been gone forever and they have missed me so much. I do not love it when I am trying to get out of the house and they are all making it very difficult and I end up being late to where I am going.

I love being a mom when Nico plays catcher and throws a guy out at second, Tommy scores a winning basket or Isabella is out on that mat giving her all at her cheerleading competition. I do not love being a mom when Nico is kicking the dirt with his head hung low and throws his helmet after striking out for the second time in a row, Tommy is sobbing on the basketball court because the last five baskets haven't gone in or when I have to have someone in the room with me when I am combing Belle's hair before a competition so that if DCFS is called, they can attest that I wasn't beating her, I was just getting her ready for cheerleading.

I love being a mom when the kids want to cuddle while watching a movie. I do not love being a mom when everyone is fighting over bedspace while watching the movie.

I loved when Gia would wake up in the middle of the night and I'd feed her and she'd fall asleep on my chest (LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this). I do not love when she wakes up now at 2:00 in the morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed wanting to play and having no interest in sleeping on my chest.

I love being a mom when my kids say, "Mom, I have to talk to you" and they ask for my advice. I do not love being a mom when they say, "Mom, I have to puke."

I love being a mom when I am at conferences and the teacher says, "Your child is a joy to have and I wish I had a whole classroom full of them." I do not love it when the teacher says, "He's doing great but would be doing even better if we could just get him to listen and follow directions." (Newsflash...if we could just get him to do that, my life would be a lot less chaotic at home.)

I love being a mom when we go to church as a family (when I was younger and we were forced to go to church, it was looking at all the families and wondering what mine would be like when I was older that got me through the boring hour). I do not love it when Isabella, at 2 years old, yells to the priest, "YOU ARE TAKING TOO LONG! STOP TALKING SO I CAN HAVE MY FRUIT LOOPS."

There are many more that I can think of but I'll stop now and save the rest for later.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Parts of My Weekend That I Left Out

Saturday caused me to focus much of my writing on what happened that day but that was only part of this weekeend that I wish I could do over. The kids had off on Friday and I chose that day to cut my hair. Now this might sound like no big deal but anyone that knows me and if you have read previous posts, you know as well, that I have a very hard time parting with my big, 80's hair. So much so that whenever I bring pictures in to show my good friend that cuts my hair what I want my hair to look like, she always says in the nicest, most patient voice, "Um...your hair already looks like that." I feel bad for her because I always make her think I am ready to do something completely new and then I show up with a picture of the same 80's hair or a picture of Evangeline Lily's hair and say, "I want this" to which she answers, "Me, too" which is her kind way of saying, "These are scissors, not a magical wand." Anyway, I really did surprise her and now I have a grown-up hairdo of lots of long layers. If you read "One Step Forward", you know what happened next so I won't repeat that. I will say that after one dose of antibiotics, Tommy was running around like a madman so I highly doubt he has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. If someone is reading this that knows about it, I'd love for you to chime in what you think.

Saddest part of the evening was when Nico texted me: Hi, Mom. I did good. I had 13 points in the first game and 19 in the second. Sorry I couldn't pull out a win for you, though. Love you.

For some reason, Gia woke up three times in the middle of the night. I don't need to explain to all of you that love your sleep what that means for the rest of the day.

Today, Nico had practice at 9:00. He woke up and I was instantly worried about him because he was absolutely exhausted and I wondered how in the world he was going to do well in either of the sports he was expected to play. (How about, remembering that these are 12 year old boys and that just because they can wake up at the crack of dawn, throw a baseball around and then play three basketball games, doesn't mean it is a good idea.) Maybe if we want them to be enthusiastic players, we should consider sleep and rest as part of gearing up for their games. Sorry...I went off on a little tangent there but I worry that his health is going to start being affected by this schedule that is wearing him down.

Nico had a game at 12:15 in Geneva which is right in the middle of Gia's nap but Nico was also playing at 2:15. I got everything ready so that when Gia woke up, we could get in the car and go. While getting ready I had to deal with Isabella ranting because her hair "didn't feel different" and "no one even noticed I got it cut!" She got her hair cut as well but I brought my own issues to the table and wouldn't let her get it cut as short as she wanted. She is mad at me and it's my fault no one noticed her hair.

On the way to the game Leo texts me: Bring Tums. Nico doesn't feel well (I bet it was because he ate in 30 seconds before baseball and then at the concession stand after the first basketball game). I arrived at Nico's game thinking I got a great parking spot but that was because the door was all the way on the other side of the building (that was fun...carrying Gia and the backpack of all the stuff to keep her quiet at the game). I gave the twins each $5 to get something to eat (they were going to ask over and over again anyway) and I get to the gym just in time to see some kid take out Nico's legs as he went up for a shot. Nico landed flat on his back and didn't get up. He cried there until Leo went and got him and then sat out the rest of the game. Besides his back, his knee was hurting, he had a "massive" headache and his stomach was bothering him. I yelled over to him, "Are you okay?" He nodded yes. "Are you going to play in this game at all?" He shook his head no. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???? I had just busted my behind to get all three kids and myself to that game, walked a freaking mile to get to the gym and now he's not even playing? Gia fussed the whole game unless I was shoving fish crackers in her mouth AND we won the first game of the tournament (even though it was game 4 for us) so they had to play again at 5:15. A game which I was not going to be able to watch because for one, Gia wouldn't last and second, my mom was having Sunday dinner at 4:00. It was a delicious dinner, Nico played well in his game that I missed AGAIN, won and were champions in their bracket. Figures.


We got home and everyone freaked out about ISATs (which I absolutely HATE). Isabella kept asking, "What if I do bad?" Tommy told me 100x's that he needs a water bottle and healthy snack and Nico is upset because I have to cancel his appointment to get his braces on because it is in the middle of ISAT testing and God forbid students miss the testing.

Tomorrow my biggest plan is to get Gia to nap so I can sit around in my Tim Riggins sweatshirt and write scenes in my book (Oh, and I have to reschedule the ortho appt and make a specialist appt and wrestle Gia to take her meds).

Quick Post because the Oscars are on.

Having had a baby this year, I did not see one movie that is up for an Oscar. I watch the Oscars to see the stars and see who died because every year I say the same thing while watching the montage: "Aw...I didn't know he/she died" or "Wow...I thought he/she died last year."

I don't like watching the hosts for that year mess up or fail. I actually feel bad for them because I hate public speaking. I loved James Franco in Tristan and Isolde and in Freaks and Geeks and tonight he looks a little more like he did in Freaks and Geeks than in the movie he got the nomination for. Anne Hathaway will forever be from the Princess Diaries so I really hope that they do okay.

The whole time I watch, I think how cool it would be to write an Oscar winning screenplay. When I write my books, I see them as movies in my head so that is what makes me think of that.

It also makes me a little sad to see how old the actors I grew up with are getting (Tom Hanks) and how hot Leonardo DiCaprio keeps getting.

If for nothing else, the Oscars gives me a reason to get comfortable and eat some chocolate covered strawberries (especially since Tommy and Belle got themselves grounded and have to go to bed early. Before you ask...they woke Gia up from her nap and in this house, that gets the harshest punishment, which to them is going to bed early).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Remember when I made reference to the enemy coming against people that get too happy? That's the religious take and I am really starting to believe it. I have been walking on a cloud at the prospect of getting a writing career going that I, for an instant, forgot about this. Today (Saturday) we didn't have basketball games until 4:00. I told Leo that since I didn't get out this past week, I was going to wake up early and go to Barnes and Noble at 9:00 and come home at noon. I planned on working on my book for those three, wonderful, uninterrupted hours. I looked forward to it since I told Leo on Wednesday. Last night, Tommy started to complain that his legs hurt. By the time Nico's game rolled around (7:00), he couldn't walk and Gia was beside her self crabby. I couldn't go to Nico's game. I saw his face fall when I told him but told him I was for sure going to tonight's. I should know better than to plan on that. This morning, Tommy's legs still hurt him...enough to miss a party that he was looking forward to all week. I had to wait until 9:00 to call the doctor. I stupidly thought I'd still be able to salvage my day. At 9:30 the nurse called. I explained it and she made it sound like the doctor was going to call meds in for Gia and Tommy (they have done it before. I love my doctors). I told Leo that I was leaving, gave him the phone and told him if they wanted to see the kids, I'd meet him there but they were probably going to call in meds. I had one foot out the door at 9:45 and they called and told us to bring all the kids at 11:15. I hurriedly got the diaper bag ready and by 10:00, I was out the door. I was at Barnes and Noble by 10:15, got the largest sized caramel hot chocolate and sat down to write for a half hour. I got to the doctor's office at 11:15 and called Leo to see where he was. And where was he? JUST LEAVING THE HOUSE!!! So I am the one that had to go in the office and explain that my family was late. I mean...why was I even there? I take the kids to the doctor all the time without Leo there. This was my day. Why couldn't I pretend that I was at a full-time job that I couldn't leave and stay at Barnes working on my book? I know why...because I am the freaking mom! I hate the thought of my kids going through anything uncomfortable without me being there to help them through it. I know that if I was not there, Leo would have exaggerated parts and played off other parts and without me there to balance it, the doctor wouldn't have gotten a true picture of what was going on. For instance, the doctor asked if Tommy only feels pain in the morning and Leo said yes but he didn't know that I've been called from school several times because it hurts him in the middle of the day. Leo said that Nico's throat hasn't been hurting him but in reality, he complained twice that it did (Heaven forbid Nico can't play in the tournament).

Back story on Tommy's leg thing:A year and a half ago, Tommy started getting these red welts on his legs. They would come after a high fever. Each time he got them and he only got them when he was exposed to
Strep Throat, the pain would increase. The last two times, he could barely walk. This started when his idiot pediatrician (who wasn't even ours, he was just in the practice) who had a complete "God" complex wouldn't treat him for Strep. We are no longer with that practice and I wish I wasn't such a "play by the rules" person because I'd love to take his "God" complex and shove it down his throat. We have been to the CF doctor, infectious disease, Urgent Care and the ER and they all ran tests that came back normal and diagnosed him with Erythema Nodosum (which is painful red bumps on the legs related to but not always an infection. A common one is strep). He was tested for inflammatory diseases and they came back normal. Infectious disease tested him for auto-immune and they came back normal. When they came back normal, they said there was no need to see a rheumatoid specialist.

Back to today's appt:Now that they are back and progressively getting worse, we have to take him to a specialist. I don't want to. The doctor is pretty convinced that it is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and Leo was sitting there nodding and agreeing and saying, "This is great that we'll finally know what it is." I do not share Leo's enthusiasm. At all. The doctor left and Leo finally noticed I was having a hard time holding it together and he said, "What's wrong? This is good." I asked him trying very hard not to lose it in front of the kids, "Do you even know what JRA is?" "No. Is it bad?" "Well, before you tie it all up in a neat little bow, you should know that it is an auto-immune disease that can be debilitating and it is not the good news that you and the doctor think it is." The doctor came back in the room and Leo asked if it was bad and he said, "This is totally treatable. He'll just have to see the specialist and they'll probably put him on a regimen of meds...blah...blah...blah." Do you know what I heard? "Another specialist telling you that something else is wrong with your child and more meds that he'll have to take and more doctor's appointments." Are you kidding me? Tell me how it is okay that Tommy has Cystic Fibrosis, Asthma and now maybe Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis??? I mean, CF should be enough, don't you think? I don't want to see a specialist because I don't want him/her to tell me that anything is wrong with Tommy. I don't want him to battle anything else. I can't make an appointment until Monday and I bet the pain will be gone and Tommy will be running around again and the doctor will look at me like I am crazy because that is what happened before.

I went back to Barnes upset by the whole thing and tried to write but was compelled to look up JRA and it scared me because it sounds like what Tommy is going through. I couldn't talk to anyone about the appointment because I go to B&N a lot and I didn't want to be known as the woman that cries in the cafe. Leo called me a half hour after I left him and said he needed a DVD that was in his car that I had and was I going to Target so I could drop it off. I had to drive home, drop it off, pick up the meds and go to Target all before 3:00. As I type this, it might sound like I did this calmly. In truth, I swore like a truck driver at Leo for forgetting to grab the DVD, was near tears when the meds were taking a half hour and only went to Target to get more strawberries and chocolate because it was going to be one of those nights. I had to tell Nico that I couldn't go to his game and I was so upset by the appt and that I was going to miss his game, that I sucked and started to cry. I just couldn't hold it together anymore. He hugged me and told me it was okay but I hate that I couldn't be stronger. Total writing time: 35 minutes (Not enough wine in the world to make this day better.)

Oh, and did I mention that Gia tested positive for strep? All of the kids are on meds which should be fun for the next 10 days.

This whole thing has me thinking...is there such a thing as too happy? Do we always have to have one eye on the other shoe that might drop?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Fantasy Vacation That Wasn't

Before I tell this story, I want to go on record as saying that I know I am not going to come off well in it. I always told Leo that my fantasy was for him to arrange for a babysitter(at the time, we only had Nico), pack my bags for me and whisk me away to some exotic place. For my 30th birthday, we were in Wisconsin with my family and at midnight, when Leo said, "Happy Birthday" and I burst into tears (I was not in a good place at the time. I had been trying to get pregnant for two years and it wasn't working but that is for another post), he asked if I wanted to open my gift. I perked up because who doesn't like getting gifts? He paused and said, "Well, you already met Troy Aikman (at the time, that was the equivalent of meeting Tim Riggins/Taylor Kitsch) and in November, I have a surprise trip planned (so much for the whisking away part) and we are in Wisconsin with your family." Then he sat there staring at me until I said, "So basically, you have no gift for me to open right now?" He paused again and then as if saying and thinking at the same time, he said, "And also...a $200 shopping trip to your favorite clothing store." I laughed and said, "If you think I am going to let you off the hook later because you just came up with that, you are wrong. I'm spending it."

In October, Leo said I needed a passport for our trip. A PASSPORT!!! I was so going to Jamaica or maybe Mexcio! Maybe Italy!! November came and I had no idea how to pack (which is why I wanted that part to be included in the whisking away). When I asked Leo, he said, "Just pack for weather like it is here." I looked outside at the cold, wet dreary day and said I hoped where we were going had better weather (Jamaica didn't look like that) and he said, "Oh, yeah...not like that. Just pack summer clothes." I was sooooo going to Jamaica! We were going for over a week so I packed two little suitcases of summer clothes. Surprises make me a little nutty so I would try and get Leo to tell me where we were going. At the time, Leo LOVED watching professional soccer (so much so that he would give me suggestions of guys he knew I'd think were cute so I wouldn't complain. Love David Beckham) so when he suggested I pack an umbrella, I told him that a vacation to London to watch a professional soccer game would be his fantasy vacation, not mine. He laughed and said that wasn't it and stop trying to figure it out.

We were driving in the limo to the airport and Leo looked at me and said, "I hope you brought summer clothes." Like an idiot that didn't know where she was going for over a week, I said all excitedly, "I SO did!" I couldn't wait to sit by the pool, sip a frozen drink, listen to my music and read a beach novel in peace. Jamaica, I was on my way!! When we arrived at the airport, the first thing I saw was a single guy Leo worked with and I remember thinking how strange it was that he was going on vacation the same time we were. Then I saw another guy Leo worked with standing there with his wife that I had met once. Leo made fun of me that I still didn't know where we were going even though we were at the Virgin Airlines desk. How did I know the only place they flew was to London? I was going to Jamaica. When I looked at the flight board and saw London, my heart fell. Leo, all excited said in front of everyone who was waiting for my reaction, "So, do you know now? Do you know where we are going?" Then, I pulled off the academy award winning, fakest excited reply I could muster and said, "Oh, my God!!! We're going to London!!" Inside I was screaming, "Oh, my God!! We are going to London with people I don't know when I really wanted to go to Jamaica ALONE!" but with everyone staring at me, including the people at the desk that knew he was surprising me, I sat with a huge fake smile holding back my disappointment. Then he dropped the biggest bomb that ruined the entire trip for me. He said, like it was nothing, "So this is really a business trip and you have to fly home alone at the end of the trip and I have to stay for five more days." "WHAT??" I remember feeling pure terror because I had never flown alone let alone overseas. "Don't worry, E (the wife that I met once) is going with you." I was still shell-shocked when we got on the plane and I asked him in the most pleasant way I could, "Why did you say that about summer clothes in the limo?" "I wanted to throw you off and make you think you were going to Jamaica. It worked right?" "Yes, I REALLY thought that was where we were going." My tone was lost on him. "So did I ever tell you that I wanted to go to London?" I asked hoping again to hide that I was upset. He thought about it and said as if proud of himself for thinking this was a great idea, "No, you never did." And I thought to myself, "That's because I wanted to go Jamaica!" He gave me a book of things to do in London and I perked up and said, "All I want to do is visit the world's biggest bookstore, see the English countryside and ride the fast speed train to Paris (because when else was I going to get the chance to do that)?" There was a chance it could turn out to be a great trip.

As soon as we got there, I realized I didn't have any clothes other than the ones I was wearing that fit the cold and rainy weather there. We had to take the tubes to go shopping for me and London and Leo got a taste of each other. Leo needed to find a bathroom and though they speak English, they don't speak "Leo". He mumbled to the young salesperson, "Where is the bathroom?" She didn't understand him. He mumbled again, "Washroom?" One of my pet peeves is Leo's one word commands and this girl said, "Pardon." Leo said louder, "Bathroom?" "Pardon?" "You know washroom? Toilet?" "I'm sorry, Sir. Pardon?" Then in a very loud voice, Leo yells, "I HAVE TO PEE!" She, not very happy directed him to a toilet that he had to pay to use.

If you know me, you know that I am NOT a city girl. Give me a strip-mall with plenty of parking and an easy way to get from here to there and I am happy. I am also a relaxing vacation type girl rather than adventure type girl. In London, we either had to walk everywhere or take the tubes (series of subway things) and there was no relaxing. The plan was to sight see everything and everyone else was so excited to climb 400-something stairs in some cathedral (not only was I not on a beach but now I had to exercise, too. This was vacation?). I did it all without complaining (ok, complaining just a little to Leo) and never did I wish that I was a beer drinker as much as I did there because there were a million pubs we went to. I would ask for vodka and get a dirty look and and a teeny tiny bottle of vodka and an equally teeny tiny bottle of giner ale. I wanted to scream, "Bring 12 more!" It was also great that every time we went to dinner, Leo had to order spotted dick because I was basically married to an eighth grader that laughed every time he said it.

At one point, Leo thought it would be okay for me to find my way back through the tubes to our hotel so he could go to a soccer game. I looked at him like he was freaking crazy and I am pretty sure it was at that moment that I told him what I really thought of that trip. All of that was done in front of the single guy he worked with who took my side when I started crying about finding my way back. We went back with Leo pouting about missing the game until I told him he could go the next day and I would stay back in the room and watch London soap operas and write in my books (might have been my favorite part of the trip).


We never did go to that bookstore, I never did see the countryside and we checked out the fast speed train but Leo didn't want to spend the money. I know I sound ungrateful and I don't mean to. If I had known I was going to London, I would have been better prepared and would have put my foot down about the three things I wanted to do and I probably would have loved it. Instead I spent the trip getting over not being in Jamaica and fearing the flight home (which was spent listening to the twisted fantasies of a woman I barely knew). So for my 30th birthday surprise vacation, Leo saw a soccer game, got drunk at pubs and ended up seeing the countryside after I left. So glad he got his fantasy vacation. Needless to say, that was ten years ago and that fantasy vacation to Jamaica has yet to happen. How much do you want to bet that when he does finally do it, it will be to Vegas?

Things That Shaped Me: Part 1

I get accused of living in the past a lot and it is true that I have a memory like an elephant. I have already admitted to being boy-crazy but really, I have only been in love a few times and feel very lucky for the experiences I had that led me to Leo. There were other boys that I dated that put a stamp in my memory but only a few put their stamp on my heart. I love the song "Back in the Bottom Drawer" by Chely Wright because it rings so true. Without the boys that got away, Leo and I wouldn't be where we are today. I learned from each of them and grew because of them.


The Rebel: He was the cutest boy (besides Leo) that I dated. He was outwardly, movie star cute. It is cliche but he was tall, dark and handsome. He was a wild child and a free spirit that loved to break the rules and I think loved to see if he could get me to. He made me laugh and was so fun to be around and still was there for me during some of the worst times in my life (car accident, when my Papa died) and because of that, he will forever hold a place in my heart. I think we broke up because after dating someone before him for a long time, I didn't really want to settle down and be serious and he was ready to be an adult and settle down. I learned how to let go and that it was okay to sometimes break the rules. I learned from him that I wanted to go out with someone smart b/c he was really smart and we had some of the best conversations and he showed me what it was like to have a guy tell you he loves you and not be afraid to show it.

The Friend: If the timing was right, we'd be America's Sweethearts. He was my best friend since junior high and I think we took turns liking each other. When I liked him, he liked my friend. When he liked me, I had a boyfriend. When I got in the car accident, he sat by my bedside for two days. He is such a good guy. I am glad we are still in touch. There is not enough space to list all that I learned from him but mostly that guys make the greatest friends.


The Rebound Guy: Leo and I were seeing other people b/c I thought if he didn't know if he wanted to marry me after 7 years, I deserved to weigh my options. I went out with Rebound guy. He was cute and made me laugh but nothing ever came of it. From him, I learned that I really, really wanted to marry Leo.

The two guys that I regret the most:

The Blonde with the great smile. Leo and I got in a fight with him hanging up with me saying "We're done." My sister, our best friend and myself went out and a friend of mine was there with a crowd of his friends. The Blonde was one of them. We flirted and danced all night. He asked me for my number and kissed me goodnight. The next morning, Leo called. I asked him why he was calling me and he said, "Why not?" I told him I thought we broke up...that he was done. He laughed and said, "I was done with the phone call, not the relationship." The Blonde called me a few times but I avoided his call and I regret that. He was a nice guy and he deserved better than me avoiding him (and he was so, so cute). I learned from him that I didn't need Leo. I wanted him but didn't need him.

Then there was the Italian. He was the tallest Italian guy at 6'4 that I knew. We would flirt and dance at a bar called Amnesia and one night he walked me home. He was so cute and so sweet. We talked about our families and how similar they were. He said he knew I had a boyfriend but that we saw other people and could he be the other guy I saw? I said I had to check with Leo first. He asked if he could kiss me and I again said I had to check with Leo first to make sure we were seeing other people (a good girl to a fault). I went to Leo's apartment where he answered the door in a robe (I swear! Who wears a robe in college except maybe Hugh Hefner) and black socks and flip flops. I asked him if we still saw other people and that was when he informed me that we did not. When the Italian called, I had to tell him no. If I am being honest, that is where the regret is. I mean what would have really happened if I kissed him? Hmmm...I would have married him and he would be a multimillionaire that opens mail and catches raccoons (a girl can dream). Or as a very good friend always says, "He could be a workaholic that cheats on his wife." I doubt that he is but she is cleverly telling me that it might be worse with him and she is right (after all, the guy in the robe doesn't open mail and the raccoon is still enjoying his home under our deck and he's the real catch). I'm not sure what I learned from him other than I should have made sure Leo and I were seeing other people before letting another guy walk me home.

I ask Leo all the time if he thinks about or has regrets with past relationships and he always says, "Not really." I don't believe him. You can't live the life we live (having given our children a fatally genetic condition) and not once in awhile wonder if we had married someone else, would this not be a part of our lives? I know that sounds crazy and it only seeps in during my darkest moments but then I look at my kids and realize, it is better to have Nico and Tommy here battling CF than not have them here at all and what a sad world it would be without them here. And Belle...the world would be a lot less sunny if Belle wasn't in it and Gia is living proof of answered prayers so luckily those dark moments are far and few between and have nothing to do with how much I love my family and everything to do with what CF threatens to take.

Enjoy the video and see if you can relate!









Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cleaning Ladies and DVR

Two of the luxuries in my life that I can't live without. I know that I am a stay at home mom and I struggle with us spending money on a cleaning lady when I am perfectly capable of cleaning the house myself. Capable but not good in that I hate it and when is the last time you were good at something you hated? I hate it for so many reasons. Mostly because it is never done. Whoever said (I think it was Phyllis Diller) "Cleaning house with kids is like shoveling while it is still snowing" was right on and it makes me a mean mom. For example, if I just cleaned the floor and Nico spills milk or I just cleaned the bathroom and Tommy pees all over the seat(if he even makes it in the toilet), I hit the roof. When I liked my house, when we first bought it, I actually liked cleaning it. I took pride in taking care of it. I thought, it takes care of me and I'll take care of it. My house no longer likes me and I do not like it. It shows me it doesn't like me by having a smoke alarm that beeps at odd times (usually just when I get Gia to sleep), having a setup that makes it impossible to ever change the furniture so I am stuck with the same thing, toilets that run, garage doors that get stuck and a whirlpool bath that I can't use because it leaks onto my kitchen table. So when I clean it, I am reminded of all of these things and it puts me in a bad mood. These are all minor and Leo says he'll fix them but that is for another post. Anyway, there are people out there that like to clean and paying them to do what they like and I hate keeps me sane and happy. I love my cleaning lady. I would go without food before letting her go and I often say that if was between Leo and her, I'd choose her. It's funny because I go crazy the night before or the morning of the day she comes. I run around the house making sure she doesn't think we live like slobs. I mean, she has to know that if I was any good at keeping the house clean, I wouldn't need her every two weeks but I don't want her to hate coming here.

DVR...greatest unnecessary invention ever. I don't have time to sit and watch hours of television. Does anyone, really? I am a TV addict. I'm embarrassed at the shows that are on my DVR. Though, I am happy to say, I still have never seen a full episode of Jersey Shore. However, Rock of Love used to be a staple as is 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom 2. I have every Housewives series on there, Top Chef, American Idol, Grey's Anatomy, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, Law and Order and my favorite The New Adventures of the Old Christine. I bug everyone about that show but not since Seinfeld or Friends has a show made me belly laugh like that show. The best part is that anytime I need a laugh, I can go to my DVR and play an episode and instantly, I am in a good mood. How great is that? You can tell a lot about someone from what is on their DVR (thankfully, Rock of Love is off mine). The MTV shows make me feel like I am a great mom and really, really smart. The Housewives make me feel like I have no drama in my life. Top Chef inspires me to cook. Oh, yeah, I have Hoarders on there too. That makes me feel like my house is spotless but also inspires me to get rid of stuff. Friday Night Lights will be on there forever because it is nice to be able to see Tim Riggins whenever I want (he might play a teenager in high school but he is really 28, so it is okay). I love my DVR.


On a side note, if you have read any of the other posts, you'll appreciate that the whole time I was typing this, Tommy was asking me if one of his friends could sleep over tonight because Belle is going to be at a sleepover birthday party. And it wasn't just asking me once...it was, "Mom, can I have someone sleep over? Mom, Mom, can I sleep at Auntie LeeLee's? Mom, did you call someone? Mom, is that Auntie LeeLee? Can I have a sleepover? Hey, Mom...what do you think about me having a sleepover? Can I call Auntie LeeLee?"

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mornings and Chaos

Why do the mornings lend themselves to so much chaos? I don't care if everyone takes a shower at night (this really only works for Belle because the boys sweat so much while they sleep, they smell), if everyone picks out what they are wearing the night before or if I make lunches before I go to bed, my house is still a tornado of kids yelling, rushing and usually crying. Let's use today as an example. Nico had to go to school early to type a paper since our printer isn't working. Leo had to go to work early (and complained about having to miss basketball this morning. His argument would have been stronger if he hadn't just come from playing basketball) so he was going to take him. I told him Nico had to be there by 7:30 but true to Leo, he heard 7:45. They sound alike, right? Anyway, Nico and Gia got up at 6:30. He ate, I fed Gia, he had to do his treatment and vest and Gia cried to be held. At 7:05, Leo was still not up. After arguing about the time Nico had to be at school, he got up and got ready. I got the other two up (Isabella could probably sleep later but she is sooo slow in the morning). At 7:20, Nico was yelling that he was going to be late, I have no idea what Leo was doing, the twins came down and asked if they could have bacon, eggs and maybe pancakes and Gia was still crying in my arms. I got Nico and Leo out of the house, told the twins to put some PopTarts in the toaster (if they are Strawberry, it counts as a fruit, right?) and tried to find something that would make Gia stop crying so I could make lunches. Making them the night before doesn't work because, "the jelly and peanut butter get all smushy and taste disgusting." I wanted Belle to help me with Gia (who never found anything that was interesting enough to stop crying) but she needed to brush her teeth and hair while Tommy did his treatment and vest. I proceeded to make the lunches with one hand.

Belle finally came down and I kid you not...she looked like she brushed her hair with a balloon there was so much static. I informed her that I needed to do her hair which caused her to cry that "You never let me do my hair by myself and no one cares what it looks like and you are the only mom that does her kid's hair." I put Gia down to scream and told Belle that "boys don't like girls that have hair that looks like cotton candy with a bird's nest growing underneath" and I am aware that it isn't great parenting to pull the "boys don't like" card to a 9 year old but it made her quiet really fast (if you read my post "Love in the 3rd grade, you know why) and she stood still while I put it up in a ponytail. I would love to know why kids hate brushing their teeth so much because that was the topic of the next argument. After asking nicely a few times, I ended up yelling at them that for the rest of their lives they are going to have to brush their teeth unless they wanted to lose them all and to hurry because they were going to miss the bus. They came down the stairs and there was the usual moaning about having to wear their winter coats and hats when Johnny gets to wear shorts and Susie doesn't have to wear a hat.

Then, and this is when I know you will agree that I might really be the Queen of Chaos, I tell Tommy that he can type his Litter Critter paper when he gets home and we can send it to his teacher to print at school and he decided he wanted to do that right then. I explained that he had ten minutes before the bus came and he said, "I'll hurry. I want to turn it in early." I explained that he still had to make the legs and feet and type up the paper and it isn't due until tomorrow and he started crying that he was the only one that hadn't turned it in (I don't believe that for a second). I pointed out calmly that if he wanted to turn it in early, he could have worked on it this past weekend or even last night but instead he played with friends and played video games. This caused him to go through the house like Taz from the Looney Tunes trying to find straws and then attach them to the can. All the while yelling, "Where is the tape? Where are the scissors? I need more straws! Why won't this tape hold these dumb straws? Why do birds even have to have legs?" When he made a move for the computer to type and with five minutes before the bus, I stepped in front of him and said, "You are turning this in tomorrow because you don't have time to do it well right now. Because of the mess you made, you are grounded from playing today and no video games." Did I say this calmly or even nicely? No, I did not. Am I proud of the fact that he left for school crying and without kissing me good-bye? No, I am not. I will stew about this all day and think about all the things I could have done differently to have a happier outcome (especially while I am cleaning up the tornado everyone left). Then tonight, everyone will come home forgetting all of the events of the morning as the chaos of the evening takes over only for me to wake up tomorrow for it to start all over again.


Edited to add that Tommy came home and the first thing he asked was, "Can Jake come over and play?" Scares me how well I know him.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Parenthood

Best show on TV (especially with Friday Night Lights no longer on). I don't know anyone that isn't touched by this show. This show, week to week, makes me laugh, makes me cry and it is so right on that it is hard not to feel gutted by the time it is over. I am not a political person and I don't live in Chicago so it is frustrating to wait all week to see it and have it be interrupted by the new mayor of Chicago. I know it isn't politically correct but I could care less at this very moment what he has to say in his speech(maybe at some point, I'll care but not when I looked forward all day to hearing the theme song, Forever Young by Bob Dylan and hearing the song isn't the same as hearing it with the montage of all the characters). With the internet, couldn't his speech be on AOL, Yahoo or MSN?

Anyway, last week, like most weeks made me cry. When Kristina was planning Max's party and it turned out that the very strange man that Max wanted to host his party had Asperger's like Max, the look on her face...I knew what she was going to say. A fear, that as a parent of kids that have Cystic Fibrosis, I could relate to. "What if when he gets older, no one wants to hire him because he is the strange guy?" "What if a coach doesn't pick him for the team because he doesn't want to be responsible for a kid that has a medical issue?" "What if a girl doesn't like him because he has CF?" And then the party was chaotic and she looked so overwhelmed and what mom can't relate to that and then in the end, seeing him so happy and for that moment, he was just like any other kid. He was the star of his bug party. Isn't that what we parents want for our kids? To see them in those moments where they shine. It doesn't matter what it is...just something that makes them happy and that they are good at. Whether they are good at music, school, sports, being social, being political or even like Max, bugs. Just something that puts that fire in their eyes. You could see the turmoil in Adam and Kristina's faces. They were trying so hard to cling to what they thought the party should be like and then when they were in the midst of it, the pain in their eyes because it was nothing like what they had thought and then the acceptance of the fact that it was everything that Max had thought it was going to be so it was okay. That episode really nailed that we have a certain idea in our heads of how things are supposed to be and more times than not, if we would just let go of that and let things be, they might not be what we imagined but parts might even be better.

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Zumba

When I first saw the commercial for the Xbox game, I thought it was the stupidest marketing idea. Why would you put a woman working out in a half shirt, tank thing and tight jeans dancing to her tv? When she shook her behind like some Jersey Shore character, I was out. I was not going to buy it as a matter of principle because I don't know about you but if I am exercising at home, I am wearing the same shirt I dye my hair in and I'm lucky if I change out of my pajama bottoms into sweats. This woman's hair was all sexy, loosely worn in curls. My frizzy, bed-headed curls are tied up in a scrunchy. Anyway, one night when Gia was up in the middle of the night (I'll take dirty diapers over teething any day), I saw an infomercial for an expensive Zumba program and I'll admit, it looked like fun. It figures that the one time I put my foot down about not getting something, I am totally wrong. I bought it and am so hooked. It is the most fun I have ever had exercising and truthfully doesn't feel like I'm exercising at all. I was joking around that the next time my friends and I go dancing, (which I can't remember when the last time was or that I want to anytime soon because the thought of exerting that much energy voluntarily makes me want to take a nap) I was going to do a few moves on the dance floor. I wouldn't really do that but it does make you feel like you can be on Dancing with the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance. So I stand corrected and am now a Zumba addict but I still won't ever wear a half shirt and tight jeans to exercise and my hair will always be tightly wound in a scrunchy.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Sundays

I am not a "wave the Italian flag, Italian is the greatest nationality in the world and I've watched all of the Godfather movies 100x's" kind of Italian. I don't even speak it except for a few family words (and the curse words). I am more the "family is the most important thing, I'll hug and kiss you even though I just met you, I'll talk really fast and use my hands, and I am not quiet" kind of Italian. I am also and proud of it, a "Sunday is spaghetti day" kind of Italian.

Ever since I can remember, Sundays were set aside as Family Day. My Nana and Papa lived down the street from us and going over there meant walking in the door smelling the gravy cooking, seeing my Papa on the couch reading the paper and setting aside the comics for my sisters and me, my Nana in the kitchen cooking and kids (all five of us and my three cousins) scattered in the "green" room or the basement. My Nana and Papa had the biggest, most comfortable couch and I remember either sinking in it and reading a good book or writing stories. The food that my Nana would make could feed an army. Spaghetti, meatballs, sausage, pork, beef...then the best was when she'd surprise us with fried dough or even better, we'd think it was time to go home and she'd bring out a platter of lunch meat or chicken and we'd stay for a few more hours playing or talking and laughing...there was so much laughing. Some of my favorite memories are from those Sundays.

As I got older, sometimes Sundays would be hard. I would want to spend them with friends or my boyfriend at the time. Instead of not going, my family would invite them to dinner. Not a lot of guys made it to that table. I think only three of them did and one was only a friend and another I married. My Nana used to say, "You'll get older and stop coming. Other things will be more important." I wanted to prove her wrong and I am so glad that I did. There were Sundays that I missed but I don't remember many (unless I was away at college).

Sundays are still Family Day but now they are spent at my mom and dad's house. My mom does a wonderful job of upholding the tradition. She makes enough food to feed an army (though fried dough hasn't been made in years) and she feeds more people than my Nana did. My mom and dad interact with all 11 of their grandchildren building relationships that my kids are lucky to have. I look forward to Sundays because my sisters and I get to come together with my mom and dad and catch up with each other. We talk on the phone 10 times a day but seeing each other, hugging each other and making each other laugh until our stomachs hurt is better than a phone call. I get to see my kids grow up with their cousins and I know it is a good sign when they cry that it is time to go home. There are obvious pros and cons to being such a tight-knit family. We know there is always someone to vent to or laugh with but we are probably too involved in all of our lives so when something happens to one, it happens to us all (more about that in later posts). I'm sure we are like other families and drive each other crazy sometimes and since we know all of our secrets, we also know all the buttons to push. Sometimes there is not room to allow for growth which can be frustrating. I am still the oldest sister that had to hide food because I'd want one thing that was just mine in a house full of seven (I haven't done that since I moved out. I even shared the chocolate covered strawberries). I wonder if my sisters feel that parts of themselves that they have outgrown still come up on Sundays? I am sad to say that Nico misses some Sundays because of his schedule (which means Leo does too) but luckily my dad goes to many of Nico's games so the family tie is still held strong. Nico also gets very mad when he misses a Sunday so I know that the "Family Day" concept is being instilled.

I tell my mom and dad all the time how lucky they are that all of their children and grandchildren always want to be with them (they appreciate the reminder so much) because I know a few people that have a hard time being with their families. I don't take for granted one bit that Leo loves my family and considers my sisters his sisters and enjoys my parents as much as I do. Getting to know my brother-in-laws would be a lot harder if we didn't see each other every week.

When I count blessings in my life, Sunday dinners are definitely on there and I hope that they remain a tradition for years to come (this reminds me that I have to get the recipe for the gravy).

No apologies

I thought maybe I was too harsh when I said I felt like I was parenting alone and was going to do an apology post and maybe at some point, I will. Not today. Gia was up a gazillion times last night and Leo, not without a lot of grunting and complaining, got up only to make her a bottle. At 7:45, when she woke up yet again, I asked Leo to get up with her. I get up with Nico at 5:45 every morning. Leo gets up at 8:00 to go to work. I would kill to be able to sleep until 8:00. He had the nerve to say that on Friday, he got up at 5:00. He CHOSE to get up to play basketball. That does not count. Anyway, he said no. The thoughts going through my head looking at him sleeping were not very Christian thoughts but I am pretty sure, Jesus himself would have wanted to stone him.

To make up for not waking up with Gia, he graciously offered to go to Target with me. Doing that meant we had to bring Gia and Leo invited Belle as well. I am not sure how him coming with me is a good thing since Gia cries the whole time, Belle asks for every single thing she has ever wanted on a Target trip, Leo takes forever picking out the most simple things like Hot Pockets and has an opinion on every single thing I put in the cart. Right now my most favorite thing is a Salted, Caramel Hot Chocolate from Starbucks and I especially enjoy it while walking the aisles of Target, buying all the things I need like milk, chips for lunches, diapers, and strawberries and chocolate for my late night snack after the children go to bed. Then I take some time to look at things that hold all the possibilities of a better life. For example, the laundry baskets that will magically help me do laundry faster, or the shelves to organize my books, or my favorites are the hair product aisle that will give me good hair days or clothes that make me look like I have actually gone to Lifetime recently. This trip was more like Gia screaming, me gritting my teeth and trying to be nice to Belle after she asked me if she could have a bracelet making kit because she really, really needs one and she'll just die if she can't have the bulk box of Chex Mix and explaining to Leo that we don't need 7 boxes of Hot Pockets to get a $5 gift card to Target. I gulped down my hot chocolate while admitting to myself that I already have 5 laundry baskets and it doesn't make laundry easier (since I still have about 7 loads to do), there are not enough book shelves at Target to help me organize all my books, I own all the hair products at Target and I still have big, 80's hair and there are only so many Target V-neck t-shirts one can own. However, I did buy the chocolate and strawberries and am going to enjoy them right now since Gia is sleeping and Leo and the kids are not home.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Leo's Schedule

I know I said that Leo and I alternate nights and that works for us usually. Weeks like this past week, it did not. He played basketball on Sunday night. He left at 7 and came home around 11:00. Tuesday, Nico had practice and then Leo played basketball. He left at 6:00 and didn't come home until 11:00(Leo, not Nico). Wednesday was my night. I was supposed to leave at 7:15 after Nico's baseball practice but Gia cried with everyone but me so I ended up putting her to sleep and then left at 8:00 (I know she has to get over this). I was home by 10:00. Thursday night he had Nico's practice until 9 (he did help me after I asked a bunch of times). Friday morning he left the house at 5:30 to play basketball again. Friday night he had poker club. I don't care how often he wins and he wins a lot, I hate the poker club. Going along with it was my attempt to support his dream of playing poker professionally. I went along with this like I went along with his fishing tournaments because he wanted to make money fishing. It was a dream that I felt, as his wife, I needed to support. I feel like it is the equivalent of me wanting to pursue writing. It is my hobby and I'd like to make money doing it but I don't get to set aside whole nights where I can do it. Maybe it is jealousy that has me so mad right now. He got to play basketball three times last week while I have a Lifetime membership where I am sure they think I have died, it's been so long since I have stepped foot in there. Looking at this, it, it's no wonder we'll go into debt before giving up family vacations. It's the only time we get any family time that isn't sacrificed for the kids' homework, their sports or Leo's schedule. When it comes to Leo's hobbies, I often say I want to die and come back as Leo (but only if I get to be married to me because I am not sure anyone else would put up with them).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Questions

When I was pregnant with Gia, one of my favortie things to do while going out with friends was ask deep-thinking questions to them while they were drinking and I was sober. Some good laughs came out of some of those discussions plus some that do not always share would share while drinking wine or beer. Although I do have two friends that after I would ask, they would think for a second and say, "Ooh, that's a good question, what's your answer?" Even though I can enjoy a drink with them these days, it is still one of my favorite things to do. I love stretching my brain a little to think of an answer (If you could have any talent what would it be?) or reflect on things that have happened in the past (What's your most embarrassing moment?). I also love that it helps you get to know people a little deeper than just the regular small talk. I think once in awhile I will post a question and if you want to share your answer, feel free. If not, I'll just use it as a time for me to stretch my brain. :)

Sleepovers

Okay, I am the weird mom that HATES sleepovers. This is so ironic because my mom let me have my best friend, Debbie sleep at our house every weekend, sometimes both nights. Now I know why we were always at my house. I hate when my kids are at someone else's house, not because I don't trust the parents. Most of them are dear and trusted friends but I don't even like when my kids are at my sister's or my parents or in-laws. Nothing good comes from a sleepover. I don't sleep, they don't sleep and the next day we are all crabby. Both boys usually cough all night long and that is when they are in their beds. If they are in the basement, it is worse. I don't want the boys to sleep anywhere but here because I don't have to worry about them keeping another family up. If their asthma is bad (yes, even though they have CF, they have asthma, too), they can't sleep in a house with dogs. Needless to say, a lot of the sleepovers are at my house which I also do not enjoy. When kids are at my house, I have to be "on" and that means when my kids do something they know they are NEVER allowed to do which inevitably happens because they know I won't yell in front of the other kid, I can't react the way I normally would. Instead I have to grit my teeth and while looking like I am smiling and say nicely, "Tommy, Honey, we don't pretend that the couch is a swimming pool and jump from the arm of it onto the cushion or Belle, Sweetie, you cannot play make-up using my make-up or No, Nico, you can't play ghosts in the graveyard on the prairie path." What I really want to say is, "Are you insane?? Have I ever let you jump on couches, use my make-up or play in the dark on the prairie path? No. So, why in the world would you think that I'd let you while I am responsible for Little Susie or Little Johnny?" Another reason why I don't enjoy sleepovers with Nico and his friends is that they are very big and they smell really, really bad. My basement needs to be fumigated after they all go home.


The thing that makes me flip my lid is when they either a)ask for one right in front of the kid or parent or b)plan one thinking that once I am faced with all the details ironed out already, I'll have no choice but to say yes or c)ruin whatever time we just had with their parents or them by asking for one (this is usually any time after 10pm). I said before that I don't have a poker face so you would think that my kids, knowing what my face is going to look like when they do this to me, would know this makes me mad and not do it. Nope! Tommy just did it to me last night and is now banned from having one this weekend. You don't get rewarded with a sleepover when you were sneaky enough to plan one without permission.

My kids are in no way deprived of social activities. We hang out with friends a lot and how many other kids do you know get to hang out with their friends until midnight because their parents are also hanging out? Why does it always have to be more? If they are with friends all day, they ask, "Can they stay for dinner?" If they have a friend over after dinner, it's, "Can they stay until 10?" If the friend is still here at 10, it's, "Can we have a sleepover?" Ugghhhh!!!!

Is it wrong to want my kids in their own beds so that I know the rest of the weekend won't be cashed with crabby, overtired kids?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sports Illustrated and Food Issues.

Let me start by saying I am in no way making light of eating disorders. I don't have one but I do have an unhealthy relationship with food(with 4 sisters, no one wants to be the fat one)and it is a serious concern of mine that I will be able to ignore my own issues and overcome the ones with Nico and Tommy having CF in order to help my girls grow to have positive body images.

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition showed up at my house yesterday. I thought Nico with his raging hormones would jump at the chance to look at it but all he said was, "If this is the swimsuit one, why are some of the girls not wearing tops or anything?" That was the same thing I asked myself. I felt a little dirty looking at it. This morning Tommy saw the cover and said, "Mom, there are boobs on this magazine." "I know, Tommy. It's the swimsuit one." "Why are her boobs saggy and her top so low?" Hmmm...I have no answer to that other than if he thinks that is saggy, he is going to be very disappointed after being married for 15 years and his wife has given him four children.

I can handle the questions and comments from the boys. Isabella's were tougher. "Wow, they are so pretty. Is this why girls want big boobs? I hope I look like her when I get older." I told her that they are pretty because they had a professional do their hair and make-up, not all girls want big boobs (my sisters and myself included) and most of the ones in the magazines aren't real and in real life, even she doesn't look like the one in the picture. They have people that change the pictures before they print them. I told her that she is prettier than the girls in the magazine and I hope she always remembers that the girls in the magazines are not realistic of what women look like. She looked at me like I had two heads, rolled her eyes and said, "Mom, you have to say I'm pretty. I'm your daughter." She then promptly looked at her Cream of Wheat in disgust, pushed it away and went to fix her hair. Keeping her self-image healthy is going to be a full-time job.

One of the hardest parts of raising two children with cystic fibrosis and children without it is the food issue. Nico and Tommy have to eat all the time. They have to eat high calorie foods in order to just maintain a normal weight. If they want three Big Macs, they get three Big Macs. If they eat dinner at 6:00 and then at 8:00 they want a sandwich and at 10:00 a bowl of cereal, they get it. I can NEVER say the kitchen is closed (another reason for chaos). Nico is a good eater. Tommy takes a little bit of work. Leo will try and get Tommy to have seconds of what we are eating and he'll say no and Belle pipes up that she wants seconds. At 8:00 on his way home from practice, Leo will call and say he's picking up McDonalds for Nico, does Tommy want something? Tommy says yes and Belle yells what she wants. She cries when Tommy gets Oreos and milk for snack and she gets apples and peanut butter. I can offer Tommy what she is having too but he wants the Oreos and they are more fattening than the apples so I can't say no. I have explained to her the difference in what is healthy for the boys and what is healthy for the rest of our family but all she does is cry that she wishes she had CF. That breaks my heart and though I tell her all the reasons why she doesn't really want CF, she is 9 so all she sees is that the boys get to eat whatever they want all the time.

Added to the CF issue is the fact that she and Tommy are twins. I have Tommy crying that he is smaller than Belle and I have Belle crying because she "feels fat" because she is bigger than Tommy. She is in no way overweight but she does weigh more than Tommy and doesn't understand that girls are bigger than boys right now and he has a hard time gaining weight. Thinking she might need to talk to someone down the line regarding eating issues is never far from my mind.

Before she saw the Sports Illustrated magazine, we were making progress. Her favorite show was The Biggest Loser (she became so obsessed with it, she isn't allowed to watch it this season) and though I didn't like the focus on weight loss (for her), I did like how they stressed living healthy. She and I joined forces to keep each other in check on whether we were making good choices and it was ALWAYS about health, not looks. I am 40 and I can't pass up certain foods even if it is 10:00 at night, so how can I can't expect it to be easy for a 9 year old? I am just going to continue to tell her how beautiful she is...inside and out until she knows I am not only saying it because she is my daughter.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tired of being a third grader

I admit it. When I taught second grade I was a big, big fan of home projects. I fought with administration to stay true to our homework policy which was study for spelling, read for 15 minutes and any unfinished work. When we switched math programs, a home link was added to that. I can't tell you how many parents complained that I did not give enough homework. I mean, even now that I am on the other side, were they insane??? Who asks for more homework? I hated grading it as a teacher and I hate helping with it as a parent. Home projects were my way of appeasing the principal and the parents. I would, at the beginning of the month, send out a calendar that had something small to do each day and then turn it in at the end of the month. In my head, I imagined the family sitting together each night doing the cute, little activity. Now that I am the parent, I know the reality. Maybe one or two families enjoyed the calendar activities and did them like they were supposed to. The rest of the families waited until the night before and argued the entire way through it. In our house, I DREAD the home projects. Even the best intentions end up with frustration and yelling. I am not proud of this. Even if we start the project the night we get it and it is finished before it is due, Tommy is FAMOUS for bringing it to me crumpled up or destroyed because, "It looks like crap." (Everyone fights their own battles. Use of the word crap is not one I choose to fight since I grew up watching my Nana flip people off when they made her mad and my mother can swear with the best of them. I tell my kids when I swear in front of them the same thing my parents told me. They are grown up words that you can use when you are a grown up. Then I add that it keeps me from hitting them upside the head.) For as creative as Isabella is, she is equally doubtful of herself so she can never decide what she wants to do until the last minute OR she does the same thing Tommy does but instead of calmly saying it looks bad, she sobs and stomps her feet and somehow I get blamed for not helping her. I am happy to say that now that Nico is in 7th grade, he needs minimal help but has sent me to Target on a wild goose chase to find materials he needs. At some point in whatever home project I am helping the kids with, paint or glue spills, tables get written on because the children are not working on the drop cloths and there is yelling at the impatience of the kids that ends up ruining the project which sends me back to the store to get more materials. Never once have I obtained that "sitting around the table, family bonding moment" and the only thing I have learned is that if I ever go back to teaching, I won't assign them.

Another reason I dislike home projects so much is Nico's 3rd grade state project. I called his teacher and asked if this was a project the kids were supposed to do themselves or if it was a project that parents were supposed to help with. She emphatically said it was to be a project the kids did themselves. Nico printed out pictures and glued them to a shoebox. He asked me to buy things to go in the shoebox. He wrote the speech and it looked like a 3rd grader did it. When I went to school for the presentations, I felt horrible for him. He stood by his project with a long face and all around him were PowerPoint presentations and projects that were clearly done by adults. I spoke to the teacher and she just shrugged. I didn't really like her as a teacher and after that day, I really disliked her. I tried telling Nico that he should be proud for doing it himself but he didn't care. He was mad at me and everyone else and spent the morning standing in front of his project. Hate, hate, hate home projects.

I have to sign off...I need to go buy blue paint to replace the one that Tommy spilled all over the dining room table (of course missing the dropcloth) while making his litter critter.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The reason I can't stay mad.

video

Just when I think I have had it, he goes and makes me laugh harder than I have ever laughed before.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In all fairness.

Since I just posted a not very nice post about Leo, I need to balance it with a good one. He came through with a good Valentine's gift. He gave me balloons, a beautiful card, a Barnes and Noble gift card and the Xbox game I wanted. I stand corrected. I read through my posts and obviously, I was frustrated with him and a little harsh. The truth is, he really does "get" me. It doesn't work for every marriage but I know he needs time away (sometimes he takes advantage) and so do I. We alternate and tonight is my night and I am so excited to be getting a break tonight. I am going to go to Barnes and Noble and shop, shop, shop. The other thing is that he knows I love to shop (Target, Walmart and Meijer) and only complains once in awhile. He knows I love to travel and he makes sure we do at least once a year.


I love this man. More today than I did 22 years ago. Do I sometimes look at him and wonder what the Hell was I thinking? Yes but two seconds later, he winks at me and my heart does a flip. Do I sometimes want to change the locks when he comes home late from playing poker? Yes. But then he gets up at the crack of dawn to coach Nico or Tommy and my heart swells with such pride to see him with all of those kids. Do I want to scream at him when he is trying to explain why he does what he does that makes me crazy? Yes but then we dissolve in laughter at the absolute craziness of our life.


So behind every post that I am complaining about something he has done or is doing is a love that runs so deep and so strong that it will withstand the chaos (and the bickering).

I am going to write a comic book.

It is going to be called Unreliable Man. I bet you can guess who would be the star. It makes me crazy when someone says they are going to do something and then they don't. I am at the point, after 22 years, where I no longer believe a single word that comes out of Leo's mouth. "Don't worry, Honey. I'll take care of the raccoon." The cage is still sitting outside buried under snow. The raccoon prints are on top of it. "Babe, don't worry. I'll be home in time for you to do the carpool to gymnastics and not have to take Gia out in the cold." Gia screamed in the car for the 20 minute drive to pick up the girls (had to take her out to get one of the girls and if you have ever had to put a child back in the carseat after they have been freed from it, you know it is not fun)and bring them to the gym. "I paid the bill." I got a phone call saying it wasn't paid yet. I have figured out that with reliability comes respect. Without it, it diminishes. Maybe, Unreliable Man, if you became Reliable Man, I'd be more sympathetic when you don't feel well. I'd be more willing to help you out when you are running late (being late is a crucial character trait in Unreliable Man and luckily for my book, Leo has never been on time in his life). That's another thing, time does not bend for this man. He thinks it does. The bus comes at 7:40, he thinks he is going to wake up at 7:45 and look for the gloves he told Nico he'd find for him. He actually said, "The bus will wait or it doesn't come then." I'm still holding out hope that I will be able to title the comic book Reliable Man but it is not looking good right now.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day

This is not my favorite holiday. I love Leo with all my heart but he is a simple, simple man who doesn't really take time for the grand gestures of love. Let's just say that nothing says romance like emailing your list of what you want the night before Valentine's Day. I told him a week ago what I wanted. Writing software (I've been asking for two years), Xbox game with volleyball, Barnes gift card, Amazon gift card or ebay gift card, Target gift card. I am an easy woman. I would LOVE a grand gesture but I am realistic. Let me give you an example of how much Valentine's Day has sucked since Leo and started dating. For the first few years, I got stuff from his mother's store. She owned a Merle Norman and if you know me, you know that I don't wear much makeup (Leo's mom told me once that I would be so pretty if I would just wear some eye shadow) so getting make up, rhinestone jewelry or purses was really not what I wanted. From there it was getting roses but the thing about roses is that I am allergic to them and they die. I did love getting them sent to me at work, though.

One Valentine's Day in particular stands out because we had been graduated from college for two years and I wanted to get married. We had talked about it and I was tired of dating (we had been dating for 7 years and after dating my high school sweetheart for 4 years, I vowed I wouldn't do that again and yet there I was). Anyway, we were going out to dinner but Leo wanted to give me my gift. I was very hopeful that this was the weekend he was going to ask me to marry him. He told me to turn around b/c he had to set it up. I could barely contain my excitement. I saw images of wedding dresses and rings and babies and houses. He said, "Okay, turn around." I did and there on the table was the movie Aladdin (I collected Disney movies) and three plastic dinosaurs. That's right...dinosaur figurine type toys. I picked them up and looked in their mouths and on their tails. There had to be a ring somewhere. I looked up at him and couldn't help myself and the disappointment that consumed me. "This is it?" "Yeah, do you like them?" "They are dinosaurs." "Right." "Why, in the world, did you buy me plastic dinosaurs?" "Remember you walked by that store and said you'd like those for your classroom?" My reply to that was, "I have walked by a hundred jewelry stores and commented on how much I'd like a ring. Why didn't you get me one of those??!!" He looked at me like I had two heads and said, "Oh, no...I wasn't even thinking about that." And yet...shockingly...I stayed with him for another 9 months until he really did ask me.

So do I have high hopes for tomorrow? Even though I am supposed to email him my list, not really. At this point I'd just be happy if he comes home earlier than 6:00 and gives Gia a bath.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I can't win.

Not feeling great so didn't get online yesterday. The thing with not feeling well is that when you are the mom, it does not matter. Leo comes home from business trips and is cashed so I still don't get a break. So, I am loading up on Advil and going about getting stuff done.

Nico had the last appointment at the orthodontist before getting his braces on and since he wants them so badly, I thought he would be happy but true to Nico, NOPE! Came out crying because he has to wear a head gear (only when he is at home) and isn't getting them on until March 2nd. I can't win with him.

I was right. Leo came home Friday night and slept until 1:00 in the afternoon. I am convinced that no judge in the world would convict me from stabbing him. I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get ready to go to a dinner party while he whined that he didn't feel good. I got a two hour break that was at Target picking out a Valentine's Day gift for Nico to his girlfriend. The one thing I have learned from the last few days is that I don't want to be a 7th grader anymore. I don't enjoy the homework and picking out a gift is too stressful.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

There goes that!

I don't know that I am a religious person in that I don't believe in organized religion. But I am a Christian that reads the bible and tries to go to church when I can. My faith is so strong that if I was called religious, I wouldn't mind. Many of my more knowledgable friends that are Christians, including my mother say that the enemy comes against you when you are happy, when you are faithful, when you are closer to God. I must have gotten too happy, too faithful or too close. I had two days where I felt alive and full of promise. Do not misunderstand me. I LOVE my family. I love being a mom more than anything in the world and that will always come first. There is a part of me that is separate from Leo and the kids. The writer. She was there before Leo. Before I was a teacher, before Nico, before the infertility, the CF, the twins, and Rocco. She was there and she came back. She has been there off and on for the last 30 years but this week, there was promise that she was back for good. That evaporated today when possibly the enemy came swooped down and stole the chance whispering in my ear, "Don't get too happy, too faithful or too close. I am right around the corner." Obviously, this is a topic for another time as it could fill a few pages.

Anyway, you are probably asking, "There goes what?"

First, Leo is still out of town. I had a meeting with the editor of the newsletter I contribute to and really wanted to find out if there was ever going to be an opportunity for growth (meaning could it lead to a job). Sadly, it never got to that point. Gia was a monster in the restaurant. The editor has no kids and cute, little maniacal Gia was probably the best birth control ever! The nurse from Tommy's school called saying he didn't feel good and his cough is bad. I could never play poker because I do not have a poker face (and think gambling is a waste of time). I was mad. They call me constantly saying his cough is distracting. He has Cystic Fibrosis!! He is going to cough. If he has no fever, there is no reason to miss school. So there I was as a mom on a mom's council looking like the world's worst mom because I didn't want to go pick him up. The meeting lasted 3 minutes and I couldn't even tell you what we talked about. She kept saying she understood but before I had kids, did I really understand how all-consuming kids are? Even as a teacher, the answer would be no.

I can't help feel like there was an opportunity to start on the path to make this dream come true and it flew away in the hands of my children. Why do some moms have no problem juggling their kids and a career and some crash and burn?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tiger Mother

This was the topic for the Wheaton newsletter that I contribute to. I answered the question but I could have said so much more. I don't like to debate but this topic lends itself to a huge one. If interested, you can go to www.wheatonpatch.com and click on articles to see the conversation. It led to parenting discussions and I still stand by what I said there. There is no one way to parent. I have no idea if I am doing it "right" but it feels right for my family. Sometimes I wish I wasn't doing it alone. Leo is like a silent partner in parenthood. We stand together on big issues but I feel like I am doing this alone a lot. I think he doesn't demand enough respect. He feels that taking the bread off of a sandwich is a punishable offense and spilling...well...nothing gets him yelling more than when someone spills. He is a great dad. He is an involved dad. Involved in all of their activities. He has coached them in everything and I know he loves them to death. The irony of Leo is that the things he yells at the kids for are the very things that he does that make me crazy. He yells at Nico for being lazy. He yells at Tommy for not listening and he yells at Belle for being stubborn. That in a nutshell is Leo!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Business Trips = Vacation

I might be in the minority but in my mind, business trips are the equivalent to a vacation. Leo is going to Canada for three days. I hate when he travels and I hate it more when he comes home with jet lag or tired from traveling because as far as I am concerned, if you didn't have to help with homework, drive anyone to practice, cut anyone's meat or wipe anyone's ass, you are on vacation.

Love in the 3rd grade

I was always boy-crazy. I was told this from as early as I can remember. I remember my third grade boyfriend, Marc. I remember the boy I liked in second grade, John. I remember the boy I liked in first grade, Rob and I remember the boy I liked in Kindergarten, Ryan. So, why then was I surprised that Isabella, who is in third grade, came home saying she liked a boy. Who is the boy? Tommy's friend. Why was I surprised when Tommy came home and said he liked a girl. Who is the girl? Belle's friend. At first the friends liked each other so I had two very sad kids on my hands. Then by some miracle, they broke up and asked Tommy and Belle out.

Now, let me interrupt here and tell you my stance on this whole boy/girl stuff in third grade. They are too young. It makes my head hurt a lot to think of having to deal with these issues so early. I told you about my third grade crush and I'll tell you that is the reason I am handling this the way I am. Marc brought me a locket, told me he liked me and asked me out. I ran home excited to tell my mom. She looked mortified, told me to tell him I was not allowed to go out with boys and give the locket back. I was devastated. I went to school, told him I liked him and put the locket in my desk. I liked him so much and I loved that locket. That was the last time until I was in junior high that I told my mom when a boy bought me something or when I was going out with someone and in fourth grade when James asked me out, I said yes and when he gave me a frog, I kept quiet and hid it in the garage. I do not want my kids to feel like their feelings aren't valid or that they can't tell me things.

Back to Tommy and Belle. Turns out the friends didn't really like Belle and Tommy and only went out with them so their friend wouldn't be mad. After some texts and letters with the boy saying he liked someone else, Belle was a self-esteem nightmare. I thought discussing this with her would be like discussing it with Nico. Nico liked a little girl in the neighborhood. After many discussions, he decided he was too young to go out with anyone but that it was okay to like someone. I tried this with Belle and she started yelling that I don't know anything and that no one would like her if she couldn't go out with boys. That it was too late, she liked this boy so much. I was unfair and she stomped to her room. I waited a half hour and tried again. It didn't go well. I ended up getting frustrated that she wouldn't listen to my logic of if a boy doesn't like you, you don't want to go out with him anyway (again...SHE IS 9). She said she didn't care. She liked him too much and didn't I know anything? "Girls don't break up with boys. Boys break up with girls." WHAT?!?! I quickly explained that was not true and be a strong woman! She cried, "I'm not even a woman, Mom!" I said, "Exactly! Which is why you are too young to be going out with boys!" She started crying again and stomped back up to her room. I waited and tried again a half hour later. She was still crying. I asked her why she was so upset. She said because this boy didn't like her. I told her that there were going to be plenty of boys (I even brought up Marc and pointed out that I didn't end up marrying him so she could see what happens in third grade doesn't always last) and that she was going to feel so much better when she was going out with a boy that liked her for her and not because he was afraid that Tommy was going to be mad. I told her that she needed to break up with him and she cried, "I am NEVER going to get over him. I like him so much." When I said I was putting my foot down and that was the way it was going to be for now, she turned on me and said, "If I can't, you better tell Tommy he can't either." LOVE having twins. Tommy came upstairs for was the funniest conversation I have had with my kids in awhile. It went like this:
Me: We're having some trouble with this going out with people thing.
Tommy (in a solemn voice): I know.
Me: I think you guys are too young.
Tommy: I know. I don't think I am feeling it.
Me: I think you should break up with her then.
Tommy: I...I don't know what I am doing. I don't know what to say.
Me: Just tell her you think you guys are too young and that you like her but think you should just be friends.
Tommy: Yeah, that's good. I...I don't even know why I asked her out. We don't go anywhere.
Me: You guys need to stop getting involved in the other's love life. No more finding boys for Belle or she isn't going to find girls for you.
Tommy: That's a good idea.
Me: Since you guys are so young, you can like people but no more going out, okay?
Tommy: I'm not going out with ANYONE for a long time. It's too stressful.
So much like his father it is scary.
Meanwhile, Belle was sobbing next to me.
Me: Belle...
Belle: I can't do it! I don't know what to say! He's going to hate me! No one is ever going to like me again! What if I like someone else and they don't like me?
Tommy: Want me to tell him?
Belle: We just said we weren't going to do that!
Me: No you have to tell him and just say you just want to be friends. Belle, he told two different people that he liked someone besides you. You are so special. You need to find someone that knows that and treats you better. Say bye-bye.
She runs to her room crying and I wonder if I damaged her self-esteem more. The next morning she went into my room and said, "You're right, Mom. I am going to tell him that since I know he likes someone else, we can just be friends and I want to break up." OMG!!! She finally got it! Something sank in!

On a side note to this little story I want to say that even though they are only 9, I really do believe that how they feel and how they handle or how we teach them to handle situations like this shapes how they will behave in the future or what choices they make. This whole thing led to a discussion on how it is better to be nice to everybody, girls and boys and you might start to feel stronger for one person over the others and that will naturally lead to going out with them. That is usually why it happens when you are older because it takes time for those feelings to happen. Like I said, I was boy-crazy at 9 and I have heard people say that if you let them have boyfriends and girlfriends at such a young age, that will lead them to be promiscuous and I strongly disagree. My mom, besides the locket episode, never made me feel like my feelings weren't real. She let me talk and talk about the boys that I liked all the while teaching me that I was worth more than what some boy thought of me. From an early age, I learned to respect my body and not give myself to a boy I liked because he said he liked me too. I pray that I can instill that in my kids. For Belle, if the self esteem discussion doesn't work, she has seen Teen Mom (on accident) and said, "Mom, I know that if that happens to me, you would still love me but you would be so mad and then when the guy leaves, it will be harder to find another one because they will have to love me and the baby so I am not going to do that until I have a husband." I think we are good for now. I talk to the boys about respecting girls and themselves enough to wait until they are in love and ready to make grown-up decisions. That and if they have sex before they are ready, their peeshes will fall off.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Have to do it.

I attended a school fundraiser this past weekend and after talking the ears off of some friends that I don't get to see very often, I have decided to start a blog. I am obviously in need of getting some of this stuff out (and apparently in need of adult interaction) so rather than monopolize their nights out, this might be a better solution. Then if I find a contest or writing job and they ask for a link to my blog, I'll have one to give.

My life is chaotic. I mean...absolute and total chaos. There are nights when I crawl in bed after midnight because I really needed some "non-kid time" and in order to get it, I have to stay up with reruns on Bravo TV because my kids don't go to bed until 10:00 (we'll get to why that is later). As I drift off to many rich housewives living extravagant lives, I try and think about what I have accomplished that day. I used to want to go to bed with the house clean, the kids tucked in their beds after I read them stories and helped with homework after they enjoyed a nice homecooked meal during which they laughed out loud a few times to reassure me that they were in fact happy. These days, I would be happy with just the laughing out loud part.

Why is my life so chaotic? I have 4 children whose ages range from 12 to 1 years old. Nico is 12, Tommy and Isabella are 9 (twins alone would make it chaotic) and Gia is one. Nico and Tommy are three sport athletes. They both play football and this year Nico played basketball for his school and for the high school feeder team. He plays travel baseball as well. Tommy also plays basketball and will probably be on two baseball teams this summer. Isabella is a cheerleader and is involved in cheernastics. Gia is still just a baby who requires much of my undivided attention. My husband, who I am sure most of this blog will be about, coaches everything but cheerleading, has a full-time job and several hobbies that I am not very supportive of. I am still madly in love with him, still find him the hottest guy I know in real life and he makes me laugh like no other but he has the ability to find my last nerve and be on it, makes me want to tear out my hair and think several "Ally McBeal" violent moments. Much of this blog will probably be about him because he gives me so much material to work with.

If I end up making this blog public, hope you enjoy the rollercoaster ride that is my life.