Clearly, We Love Each Other

This past weekend was Flynn’s 10th birthday.  In my mind, 10 is a big one.  We have entered double digits and he is now only a few short years away from the dreaded teenage years.  I did what every mother does on their child’s birthday.  I asked myself the age-old question “Where has the time gone?”.   My eyes filled with tears as I  looked at baby photos. Look at this little cutie pie!

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Basically, I sent myself into a maternal emotional roller coaster that scared Flynn.  The morning began when I forced him to hear about the joy I felt when I became a mother and held him for the first time.  I could tell by the way he stared at the floor and continuously changed the subject that my story inspired him.  The poor kid couldn’t walk anywhere near me all day without me grabbing his arm and pulling him in for an awkward bear hug.

I love to taunt him when he is trying to avoid me.  One day he will learn that his life would be easier if he would just give me a decent hug without making me beg for it.

I have to say; I’ve become a good hugging coach.  ”Come on buddy.  Wrap your arms around your mom.  You can do it.”

If I am persistent, I can still get a real hug out of him but usually it’s a no-arm leaner.  Sigh.  I’ve been working on him for a decade and I’m not about to quit now, damn it.  I have dreams of him coming home from college and giving me a completely voluntary hug.  Is that sad?  Normal people dream about going to Fiji or winning the lottery not a good hug. Right?

Anyway, Flynn is a total guy.  If you ask him about his day he responds “Fine”.  He hates to be the center of attention and usually requests that I don’t surprise him at school with huge cupcakes and my famous tambourine solo (just kidding).  How does this child have my DNA? It has taken me 10 years to learn that planning a birthday party for someone who prefers not to have one is a waste of time.  So this year, I respected his request and kept his birthday simple but that didn’t stop me from being a big mush all day.  By dinner time he was rolling his eyes when I repeated “I can’t believe you’re 10!”

“Mom!!!  Stop!”  he kept saying.

“Aw, I’m sorry.  Am I annoying you?  Listen kid.  It’s devastating for a mother.  Pretty soon you will be too cool for me and you won’t hug me any more.”

He was so annoyed with me. “Mom!!”

“Just promise you will always hug me and I’ll leave you alone. Ok?”

“Fine!”

“And I want a picture of you with your cake today, OK.”

“Fine!”

Fast forward to cake time.  I don’t know what it’s like at your house but at ours, it takes a small miracle to get everyone looking at the camera and smiling.  I wanted a nice picture of Flynn and his siblings around the cake.  Armed with my camera, the drama began.

Me:“OK Flynn.  Smile.

He looked miserable.  So miserable that it made me laugh.

Ming: “Flynn.  Smile for your mother.”

Molly: “Dude.  Smile”

Flynn: (now angry and screaming) “I AM!”

Take 1

 

photo-15

Molly helping Flynn smile

Me: “Ok.  I need all 4 kids next to Flynn for a quick picture.  Maggie?  Where’s Maggie?  We just need Maggie and then I can take the picture.  Wait?  What’s going on? Teagan, why are you crying?”

Teagan: (screaming) “Flynn is pushing me!!!!”

Me: “Flynn!!!!  Leave her alone.  I mean it.  Since when do you push a girl.  Honestly!”

Flynn: “I’m not pushing her, she’s breathing on me.”

Me: “Breathing on you?  What are you talking about? Molly, look at my camera not daddy’s.”

Molly:  “Let’s hurry up and take the picture!  I am excited!  I love cake!  I want a big piece.  Can I please have a big piece?  Please. Please.  Pleeeeeaaase?”

Me: “Molly, it’s not your birthday.  Settle down.  Ok, if I could get everyone to stop crying and look at me, that would be great.”

Teagan: “It’s not my fault.  I can’t stop crying.  Flynn is making me cry worser.”

Maggie: “I can’t see.  I want cake too.  Can I have cake pwease?”

TAKE 2

Flynn didn't want Teagan to breathe on his cake

We are a happy family!  Very happy!

Teagan: “Flynn!  Mom said I NEED to get closer to be in the picture.”

Flynn: “No.  You are fine right where you are you little pip squeak.”

Teagan: “Mom?  He called me a pip squeak!” (more tears)

Me: “Oh my God.  Flynn, please let her in the picture.”

Ming: “Come on guys.  Let’s go!  Knock it off.

Me: “Ew Molly.  What are you doing?”

Molly: “What?  I like icing.  I just want a little lick.”

Flynn: (shoves molly) “Get away from my cake.  That’s disgusting!”

Take 3

Flynn is distracted shielding Teagan's breath and Molly sees an opportunity

And then I said the words that confirm that I am the world’s most patient and amazing mother.

Me: “Ok.  Nevermind.  Let’s just sing happy freakin birthday and get this over with. You guys really know how to ruin a perfectly good birthday.”

 

Clearly, we love each other and I am an amazing mother.

 

Which reminds me of one of my all time favorite Vine videos:

Click here to see a video

 

 

 

 

  

The Not So EZ Pass

Marriage is a funny thing.  Newlyweds seem to start off as two individuals learning how to live together and then over the years you find yourself merging like a bad traffic jam, sharing the same thoughts and quirks. Sometimes you don’t even realize that what you are doing is different or strange until an outsider lets you know.  Let me give you an example.  Years ago in our life before kids, my husband and I lived in a town house.  The most exciting thing about that town house was the fireplace.  We absolutely loved that fireplace!   We were young and we really couldn’t afford to buy tons of firewood to burn so we improvised.  We would go to the local grocery store and stock up on fire starting logs and burn them sparingly.  We would burn them one at a time never adding real wood to the mix.  When the starter log burned out, then the fire was over.  It was cheap, easy to clean and lasted just about the right amount of time.  It never occurred to us that our little habit was strange until one night our friends came over for dinner and laughed at our pitiful example of ambiance.  It was an embarrassing eye opener but I know we aren’t alone.  Couples all over America fall victim to weird habits of cohabitation.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO THE REAL STORY….

Recently, Ming (the hubs) and I went for a little weekend getaway to Maine and we witnessed our friends Scott and Aviva displaying one of these weird quirks first hand.

For those of you already familiar with EZ Pass; please forgive me for a moment while I explain it to the rest of the group.  EZ Pass is a small device that drivers mount on their dashboard.

ez passIt’s about the size of a deck of playing cards and it’s designed to make life easier for drivers who use toll roads.  It is very simple to set up and automatically deducts money from your online bank account as you pass through a toll booth.

ez pass works

It saves time.  You don’t ever need to look for spare change while driving or bring your vehicle to a complete stop.  IF…you use it correctly.

Now where was I?  Oh yes…

Ming and I were in the backseat of Scott’s car.  Scott was driving and his wife, Aviva, was riding shotgun.  We were heading north through Maine when it happened.   There, on the horizon, was the first toll booth.   Tension picked up in the car as we got closer and closer to the toll booth.  Aviva made eye contact with Scott and you could tell by the look in her eye that it was game on!  She quickly opened the glove compartment and began fumbling through its entire contents.  Things were flying left and right as she searched for something specific.

Scott kept his eye on the road and carefully picked a lane.

“You got it Aviva?”

“Yes.  It’s ready to go.” she was a little short of breath at this point.

Ming and I watched in awe from the backseat.  We couldn’t figure out what these two were doing.

Then Aviva, now sweating, quickly unwrapped the EZ pass out of the original foil wrapper and held it up to the windshield.  She looked uncomfortable stretching in her seatbelt as she leaned all the way forward.  As we entered the toll lane Scott slowed the car to almost a complete stop and assisted his wife.  Together they held the EZ pass towards the sky as if it were a chalice of wine during a holy communion.

Please accept my EZ Pass!  Please accept it!  Please!

Please accept my EZ Pass! Please accept it! Please!

They waited patiently praying that all would go well.  Finally, the toll light turned green and they had confirmation that their EZ pass worked.  Success!  They gazed at each other the way couples do after a good therapy session.  They were on the same page, working together as a team.

“What the hell was that?” Ming whispered in my ear.

I shrugged my shoulders confused and in disbelieve.  “I donno.” I answered.

I asked Scott and Aviva the plaguing question, “Was that the first time you ever used your EZ pass?”

“Oh no!” they answered in unison.

This confused us “No?? Um what?” We laughed a nervous laugh trying to make sense of the scene we just witnessed.

Ming couldn’t keep quiet “Why do you keep the EZ pass in the original wrapper inside your glove compartment?  Please tell me the rationale behind that one.”

I thought this was a fair question and we listened intently.

“We don’t use it that much.” Aviva responded.

“Then why did you buy it?” asked Ming

“Because we used to need it quite often.” she answered with confidence.

Scott added his opinion as if it would clear things up “It never works right. We have to keep it in that wrapper so it doesn’t demagnetize.”

“Umm…demagnetize???  Like a hotel key?  What are you talking about?” I added.

“Yes”  Scott answered with confidence.  ”And we leave it in the glove compartment so the GPS can’t find us.”

Ming busted out laughing.  He couldn’t take it anymore.  “Oh my God!  You’re an idiot!”

Scott looked out the window pondering what he had just said out loud. He now wondered if he really was an idiot. The thought of spending the rest of the weekend with Ming suddenly felt like a chore.  He knew this was going to be a long day.

Ming continued to belittle Scott, “If you go to the trouble to register an EZ pass and to have it in your car, doesn’t it make sense to put it on your dashboard so that it’s easy?”

Without any hesitation at all and with great passion they both answered in unison as if his suggestion was a ridiculous one.
“NOOOOO!”

I chimed in “So, you two think it’s a horrible idea to mount your EZ pass on your dashboard?”

Scott defended himself. “Absolutely! I’m not mounting that on my dashboard permanently.”

Ming and I couldn’t stop laughing.  We couldn’t figure out why they were so against mounting the device.  It made no sense.

“Yes.  Why would one EVER mount something on their dashboard permanently?  Oh, the horror!”  I was laughing so hard at this point I was cracking myself up. “It’s not like it’s your high school graduation tassel.”

Scott continued to drive and ignore our bantering.

I continued “Ya know what Scott?  We should call your EZ pass the not so EZ pass’!”

Ming recapped their thoughts out loud for all of us. “So instead of mounting it on your dashboard like the rest of the world.  You find it easier to keep it inside the wrapper, inside your glove compartment and hold it up to the windshield every time you go through a toll booth.  Is that correct?”

“Yes!” they confirmed.

 

Well alrighty then….

Do you and your spouse have any bizarre quirks?  Please share! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Cleanzilla

For the most part, I have always considered myself a somewhat tidy person.  I am not by any standards a neat-freak but I seem to have a wall that I hit when things get too disgusting in my house.  This threshold has gotten looser and looser with each new addition to our family.   Let’s just say that by the time the fourth kid came along, my “clean” standards have dropped considerably.

Over the years February has become my mortal enemy.  For the entire month we are cooped up in the house.  Everyday it’s cold, dark and gray outside. Where does the sun go?  I mean, for the love of all sanity, make an appearance will ya?  Yesterday the queen of all things warm made her grand appearance.  It’s like losing a child in the clothes rack at Target.  Should I kiss her warm lips or spank her ass for hiding? Anyway, I tried to enjoy her presence. It was that late morning sunshine. So bright and delightful.  I closed my eyes and felt the warmth on my face.  It made me smile.  I took a deep cleansing breath.  It’s the way I would breathe if I ever made it to a yoga class.  I felt so relaxed.  All of my problems vanished for a moment and life was good.

And then… I opened my eyes. That special bond I had with the sun was instantly over. The first thing I noticed were the disgusting, dirty windows.  And I am not talking about your normal dirty windows.  These were February windows.  It’s a combination of fingerprints, large amounts of dust and moisture that join together to form a sticky grime. The sort of grime you might find in a frat house.  Short of breath and embarrassed  by my own housekeeping, I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a full bottle of Windex and a banner of paper towels.   I sprayed and wiped in a frantic fashion until it was eventually clean.  How could I have missed this?  I look out of this window every single day.  Apparently the gray clouds of winter mask poor house cleaning.  In some ways it’s delightful and relaxing but when that first burst of sunlight pours through your home; prepare for the embarrassing reality. I feel the same way when I step on the scale after the holidays. It’s overwhelming. The paper towel went from pure white to army green as I made a welcome entryway for the sunshine that I have missed all of these dark, cold months.  I stepped back and admired my work.  It’s interesting how cleaning a window can make the whole room feel clean.

I talked to myself and made a promise to do that more often. I walked back into the kitchen and bent down to put the Windex back under the sink.  The sunlight followed me and magnified more grime.  There, along the baseboards, I saw splatters of all sorts. Apparently someone spilled a chocolate milk and what seemed to be an entire  bowl of spaghetti sauce but never thought to wipe it off of the baseboard. I grabbed some disinfectant spray and began scrubbing.  I shamed myself under my breath as I continued to work diligently.  What on earth?  How did I let this get so bad?  I scrubbed and scrubbed until the baseboard returned to its original white color.

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Again, I promised myself that I would make a point to look at those baseboards more often.  Thirsty from all of that scrubbing; I rewarded myself with a little water break.  I grabbed a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water.  I put it to my lips and just before I took my first sip, I noticed the spots.  Water spots on the glass. Tons of them.  What on earth is going on?  I’m a pig.  No maybe I’m just raising pigs. I’m not sure but I do know that I’m the only one who notices or cares.  Disgusted, I put the spotted glass in the sink and that’s when I noticed the hot chocolate and coffee stains all over the counter.  This is the moment when I felt myself losing it.  It’s as if I couldn’t move fast enough.  I cleaned the counter and then all of my actions became a blur.  I ran from appliance to appliance cleaning like a complete lunatic.  My eyes couldn’t find anything clean.  Every single thing I looked at was dirty. The refrigerator was decorated with hand prints, the oven door was brown, crumbs were all over the toaster, a bowl of spaghetti exploded in the microwave, water stains on the dishwasher, dust on the lights and the place mats were stuck to the table with syrup.  A demon took over my body and I have no idea what I was muttering under my breath when my daughter walked in to find me.  God bless her poor sweet, innocent soul.

With great caution she whispered; “Mom?  Are you okay?”

I snapped “No.  I am NOT okay.  Are you okay?”

“What happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened.  I just realized that I live with a bunch of pigs.  Disgusting dirty pigs.  All of you.  Did you spill a chocolate milk and leave it for me to clean up?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Either you did or you didn’t.”

“Well.  I did.  But I definitely cleaned it up.”

Then my head spun around a few times and I pointed to the baseboards. “You didn’t clean the baseboards!  I’ll tell you that!  They were filthy.  Totally gross! I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed them for 10 minutes.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think it..”

She stopped talking and looked at me like she was afraid to say another word.  I must’ve had steam coming out of my ears and devil horns on my head because she backed out of the kitchen slowly so I wouldn’t attack.  Armed with a disinfectant spray and an unbroken stream of nasty comments under my breath; I returned to my cleaning.

I heard my husbands footsteps coming down the stairs and heading toward the kitchen and I felt myself getting angrier and angrier.  I needed an adult to verbally abuse.  Why am I the only one who cleans?  Shouldn’t he be 50% responsible?  When will these kids be old enough to clean the right way?  He walked in the kitchen and was heading for the coffee maker when my 8-year-old stopped him in his tracks.

“Dad.  Don’t go in there.  I’m warning you.”

“Why?”

She pointed and stared at me like a monster “It’s not Mom.  It’s Cleanzilla and you don’t want to get in her way!”

 

 

 

 

 

  

What Would Mrs. D Say?

Dear Mrs. D:

I have a great guilt thinking that my 13-year-old daughter is a bitch.  Are these thoughts normal?  She is always right, always stirring trouble with the younger kids, expects me to drop everything for her, and refuses to help with household chores because “she didn’t make the mess”  My only thought that comes to mind is…what a bitch! -someone save ME!

 

-Can’t Stand My Teenager
Dear Can’t Stand My Teenager,
Rest easy Mama!  I think this is a normal phase for both a daughter and her mother!
Teenager ecard
My pediatrician calls this type of child strong-willed, independent and a leader (wink-wink).  Although she sounds tough to deal with right now; she already has some of the best survival tools for life.  Maybe she is suffering from “teenager-itis”.  (This is a word that I may have made up but I feel like I have heard it before.)  Anyway, it’s when teenagers are stuck in that awkward middle ground.  They become jealous of the younger kids and are too young to be called a grown-up.  Perhaps a little date will cure all of your problems and reset her brain to the sweet little girl she once was.  Take her on a daughter/mommy date and do something special together.  Let me know if it works.  If it doesn’t, I will hide under my desk.
-Mrs. D
Dear Mrs. D:
I am forced to listen to a fellow new mom whining because her 4 month old has been up once in the middle of the night for THREE WHOLE NIGHTS in a row?  My thoughts … I just want to scream — my almost 4 month old has been up once in the middle of the night since birth with no sign of that changing – am I tired? yes – do I whine about it? – no … so please shut the F-up and stop complaining!

-New and Annoyed

 

Dear New and Annoyed:

People who complain about something that seems manageable to the rest of the world ARE annoying but try not to let them get under your skin.  Chances are high that the same mom who has a good sleeper  struggles with something else.  The grass is really never greener, trust me.

-Mrs. D

 

Dear Mrs. D:

People that constantly comment on the size my child annoy me.  He is tall.  We are aware.  His/her statement of this fact is by no way bringing it to my attention for the first time.  What the hell do they want me to do?  Startle and say “my god he is tall – thank you, thank you for pointing that out to me”?

-Mother of the Tall One

 

Dear Mother of the Tall One:

For some stupid reason people feel they need to state the obvious.  It starts with pregnancy and never really goes away.  I think you should come up with a funny reply like “Yeah…he’s a big boy. You should see the size of his penis?”  Ha ha ha!  That will get rid of ‘em.

-Mrs. D

 

Do you have a parenting question for Mrs. D?

Please write.  mrsdohertyunleashed@gmail.com

DISCLAIMER: Any and all answers are completely unprofessional and should not be taken seriously.  Don’t be an idiot.  If you have real issues, seek a real professional, not me.  Any question sent via email can be used on my website and/or social media.  Authors will remain anonymous. You suck.  Just kidding. I was making sure you were reading this very important message.  Don’t sue me. I hate that.  It ruins all the fun and then you really would suck.  My advice is random and solely depends on the amount of sleep I got last night.  Sad but true.  Peace out bitches.

 

 

 

  

Let It Go

Today I caught myself daydreaming about having a house full of boys.  Specifically, boys with short hair.  Here’s the thing, all my girls were born with bad hair.  It’s thin and tangles very easily.  It causes drama.   I hate drama.  I know I have complained about this before but I think I am officially throwing in the towel today.  I had what Oprah calls an “ah-ha” moment.  A light bulb went off in my head and I learned a very important mom lesson.  Here is how it all unfolded….

Let It Go

Maggie is only two and a half years old and is an absolute beast when I need to brush her hair.

“Mags.  Come here sweetie.  I need to brush your hair.”

I waited in the bathroom armed with a brush and some detangler spray and prepared myself for the worst. She politely responds from the playroom, “No thank you!”

“Yes.  Maggie.  You need to come to the bathroom please.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Maggie.  I’m counting to three.  1…2……………3!”

My threat did not work.  She didn’t budge; so I walked into the playroom with parental authority and took matters into my own hands.

“Did you hear me call your name?”

She stands with her hands on her hips and whines. “I don’t want you to brush my haaaaaiiiir Moooooommy!”

I change to my sweet mom voice; “C’mon.  It will only take a minute.”

“No!!”

Now, I’m getting pissed.  “Hey? You don’t tell mommy no.  Do you understand me young lady?”

Judging by her reaction; I don’t think she liked what I had to say.  She prepped her whole body for a dramatic toddler tantrum.  Her bottom lip started quivering and she made a fist with both hands.  Arms straight and stiff by her side, she screams.   If I had a video of this little scene, I’m certain that high schools all over America would use it as a form of birth control.

I attempt to bring her back to reality.

“Maggie.  Stop that screaming right now.”

We now have a full toddler meltdown. She is on the floor pounding it with her fists and kicking her feet.    The first time I saw my child do this, I was alarmed, horrified and stunned.  I wondered where I failed as a parent and questioned the sanity of my offspring.   But by the fourth kid, I laugh.  The amount of energy used to fight a hair brush is comical to me.  I pick her up and hold her.

“Maggie.  Shhhh, now stop that.  Mommy just wants to brush your hair.  It will only take a minute and then you can play again, OK?”

She stops crying for a minute to look at me.  She takes the brief moment to give me a nasty look and then returns to her stubborn tantrum.  Sometimes removing a toddler from one location to another is enough to snap them out of their funk; so I try it.  Gently, I sit her on the couch with a blanket and allow her some time to calm down.  I return a few minutes later.

“Ok.  Are we ready now?”

Through sniffles and tears she shakes her head yes.  Hooray, step one is complete.  She agrees to the “torture”. Together we walk to the bathroom and she stands on the step stool and looks at herself in the mirror as I begin to brush through the tangles.

There is a barrette sitting on the counter that distracts her 2-year-old brain.

“What’s dis?

“That’s a hair barrette.”

“Oh.”

Then she turns on the water full speed.

“Maggie, what are you doing?”

“I washing my hands.”

“Can you please wait and do that after I finish your hair?”

“But I gotta wash my hands.”

I quickly pull half of her hair into a piggy tail and secure it with a hair band as she reaches for the soap.

I turn off the water and return the soap to the edge of the sink.

“Maggie. I said no.”

She crosses her arm in defiance but quickly forgets she is angry when she sees a hairdryer on the counter.

“What’s dis?”

“That’s a hairdryer.”

“A hair dryer?”

“Yes, a hair dryer.”

Let the records show, that this simple line of questioning is making me dumber and dumber as the years pass.

I am consumed with putting the second piggy tail in when she turns on the hair dryer.  The noise scares her and she drops the hairdryer on the ground and starts crying.  I continue brushing her hair while she pushes my hands away.

I impress myself at this point.  It’s as if I am in a rodeo and I am tying a calf’s legs together.

“Hang on, don’t move.  I’m almost done.”  

“No Mommy. Stop it!”

Quickly, I finish and secure the hair band and throw my hands in the air like a cowgirl racing the clock. Yeeee-haw!

cowgirl 2

“OK, you can go now.  I’m all done.”

She runs away.

I am sweating.  Isn’t that pitiful?  I sweat doing hair.  I picked the hairdryer up off of the floor and took a deep breath.  Phew, I did it.  Toddlers have an amazing ability to make the most simple tasks difficult, don’t they?  I planned my daily schedule as I wiped the spilled water off the counter and put the hair accessories into the drawer.

Maggie was quiet watching TV when I walked by the playroom and noticed.  There she was, sitting in front of the TV watching Dora.

She was content.

She was quiet.

And she had a new hair-do.

Her piggy tails were gone.  She ripped them out. My jaw dropped in total shock.  How dare she undo my masterpiece!

In her defense, she is a girl who knows what she wants.  She tried to make it clear to me that piggy tails don’t excite her; but I did not listen.

I felt defeated.  I lost a battle with a 2-year-old.  I sat watching her for a few minutes.  I actually considered putting those piggy tails back in her hair.  Sure, I could win this battle.  I am bigger and stronger but what was the purpose?   I mentally listed the reasons why I thought redoing her hair was important to me.

1. Because I said so

2. Because it looks better

Suddenly, both reasons felt stupid and a huge waste of energy. It was in that moment that I decided hair was not a battle worth fighting.   I got her dressed and brought her to the store with the messiest hair in the world.

It took four kids for me to learn that a beautiful smile was far more important than messy hair.   I’m smiling too because today I learned to let it go.

 

 

 

  

We’re Gonna Miss The Bus

Holy crap!  This morning was what classy moms call “a real shit show” at our house.  I am drinking my coffee in celebration as we speak.  Yes, I am celebrating.  Celebrating that all three kids got on the bus and I don’t have to look at their faces for the next 8 hours.  Is that wrong?

Sounds so simple doesn’t it?  The school bus arrives at 8:11am and my only job is to get them on safely.  Piece of cake right?  Yeah, not so much.  Let me break it down for you.

7:23 am

Flynn (age 9) enters the kitchen after his shower with soaking wet hair, shorts and no shirt in a panic “Mom?  Please tell me you washed them.”

Me: “Washed what?”

Flynn: ” My favorite black sweat pants”

Me: “They are soaking wet buddy.  I just switched them over to the dryer.  Sorry.”

It sounded like a small animal was dying a slow death when he heard the bad news.

Flynn: (fists clinched) “Ahhhhhmeeeeyaaaahhh…..Moooooom!  I NEEeeeeD those!”

Me: “Cut it out, will ya?  Wear some jeans. You’ll be fine.”

Flynn: (As if I asked him to wear a dress or something.) “Jeans.  Nobody wears jeans.  I don’t even have any jeans.”

Me: “You have at least 6 pair of jeans.  Go find them and put them on so you can eat breakfast.”

Flynn storms off like he has a terrible life muttering God knows what under his breath.  I pester him, like all good moms do, from the bottom of the stairwell. “That’s why I asked you to lay out your clothes last night!  So this doesn’t happen.”

Flynn: “I hate jeans!  I’m not wearing jeans!”

Me: “You’re going to look funny getting on the bus without pants.”

I hear dresser drawers slamming.  Apparently Molly (age 8) is awake and out of the shower because I can hear their conversation.

Flynn: “Don’t look at me, Molly!”

Molly: “Geez, Good Morning to you too!”

(Flynn’s bedroom door slams)

Then Molly chimes in “Mom?  I just got out of the shower. Do I have any clean jeans downstairs?”

Me: “No.  Find something in your closet.  You have a bazillion choices.”

Molly: “None of these jeans fit right.”

Me: “I’m in no mood Molly.  Find something.  This is why I asked you to lay out your clothes last night.”

Molly: (feeling defeated) “Fine. And by the way, Teagan is in the shower now.”

Me: “Okay, thank you.”

7:46 am

Flynn comes downstairs for breakfast still wearing shorts.

I give him a disapproving eye and he defends himself “I really, really, REALLY do NOT want to wear jeans.  Please Mom.  Can we just wait and see if the sweat pants dry?”

Me: (I’m already exhausted.) “Fine.  Just eat your breakfast please.”

7:55 am

He eats his breakfast as the dryer tosses his sweat pants in a rhythmic fashion.  Molly enters the kitchen dressed and ready for school.  She sits at the kitchen table directly across from Flynn and stares at him.  He glares at his sister and arranges the cereal box to block her view.

Molly: “Good morning mom!”

Flynn grunts in disgust at her positive attitude.

Me: “Good morning!  You need to eat quickly so you have time to blow dry your hair.  It’s soaking wet.”

Molly: Ok, what’s HIS problem? Why is he wearing shorts?” (pointing to Flynn)

Me: “Mind your own business and eat.”

Flynn: “Yeah Molly!  Mind your own business.”

I yell upstairs “Teagan are you coming down soon??”

Teagan:(age 5) “I’m getting dwessed Mom!  This skirt doesn’t really fit me.”

Me: (Now I sound like a broken record.) “That’s why I asked you to lay your clothes out last night.”

Teagan :(aggravated) “Uggghhh…it’s too big for me!”

Me: “Come downstairs, I will help you!”

7:58 am

Teagan comes downstairs with soaking wet hair, holding her skirt so it doesn’t fall off of her. I approach her and adjust the butttons inside the skirt.

Me: “Ok Sweet Tea.  Eat your breakfast quick.  The bus will be here in 12 minutes.”

Teagan: “What?  I can’t eat that fast.”

Me: “Eat!”

8:04 am

Flynn gets up and opens the dryer “Mom.  They’re dry.” I walk over skeptically to see for myself.

Me: “No, they are damp.  You will freeze if you wear these. Go brush your teeth and give them some more time.  Actually, can you please just wear jeans?”

He ignores my plea to wear jeans and bolts upstairs to brush his teeth. Molly follows close behind him to do the same.

Me: (yelling upstairs) “Will you bring Teagan’s toothbrush downstairs for her please?”

Molly: (as she is brushing) “I will.”

8:06 am

Me: “Thank you! (I turn my attention to Teagan and pull her chair away from the table) You’re done sista.  The bus will be here in 5 minutes.  We need to dry that hair.”

Teagan: “but…I’m NOT done eating!”

Me: “Bring your cereal into the bathroom so I can dry your hair.” (Eating cereal while someone does your hair is totally normal, right?)

8:07 am

Molly runs down the stairs, slings open the pantry door, grabs a snack and shoves it in her backpack.  Then she sits down to put on her shoes.

8:08 am

Flynn literally knocks me over as he runs to the dryer.  He opens the dryer, grabs his damp sweat pants, takes off his shorts and puts them on.

Me: “Those are NOT dry Flynn!! (I turn to Teagan) Now brush your teeth please.”

Flynn: As he throws a snack in his backpack “Mom.  I promise, they’re fine”

Molly: (sticking up for her brother) “Mom!  Flynn is right.  All the boys wear those.  They don’t wear jeans.”

Flynn: (he high-fives Molly) “See!!!!”

Me: “Oh. Well, I’m glad to see you two like each other again. ”

8:10 am

Me: “The bus will be here in exactly one minute.”

Molly: “Mom!  My hair.  Can you put it in 2 braids?”

Teagan finishes brushing her teeth and I slap a barrette into her hair.  I call Molly into the bathroom and start braiding her damp hair at lightning speed .

Teagan: (devastated) “Mom?  I don’t have my snacks!”

Flynn: (Waiting with his coat and backpack on)”We’re gonna miss the bus! Hurry up girls!!!

Molly: (confident and unfazed) “As soon as Mom finishes my hair, I’m ready!”

Teagan tries to rush and ends up running into the bathroom door.  She bumps her head and is now crying.   Flynn comes to her rescue and grabs any ‘ol thing out of the pantry and throws it into her backpack.

Teagan: (Still crying) “Mom? I don’t like those snacks Flynn picked…AND.. I have to write my name on them. My teacher says so.  It’s a rule!”

Me: (I finish braiding Molly’s hair and instruct her to get her coat on) “Teagan bring me the snacks you want and a marker.”

8:11 am

Flynn: (screaming) “Mom!  It’s 8:11.

Teagan:(yelling through tears) “We know Flynn!  We are trying to hurry!  Stop yelling!”

Flynn:(yelling louder now) “We’re gonna miss the bus!”

He walks outside and slams the door.

Maggie: (enters the room crying) “Where the big kids going?”

Me: (I’m writing Teagan’s name on her snacks) “Good morning Maggie.  The big kids are going to school.  Molly, go outside with Flynn.  Teagan, put on your coat and backpack…HURRY!”

Maggie: (drops to the floor in a full tantrum) “Noooo!  Why they go bye-bye?”

Our chocolate lab,Ted, licks Maggie to comfort her.

Molly steps over Maggie and Ted like they aren’t even there. As she turns the doorknob to head outside Flynn flings the door open and screams at the top of his lungs,  ”The BUS is HERE!”

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All 3 kids run full speed out the door and down the driveway.  I leave Maggie and Ted behind as I chase after Teagan.  Somehow I manage to throw her snacks in her backpack and dry her tears on the fly.  Who says I’m not athletic?

Teagan (as she is running away) “Thanks mommy!  Love you!”

Me: “Love you too!  Have a great day! Be careful, you’re running so fast!”

Teagan; “I’m ok mom!”

As they get further and further away I silently pray that nobody trips while in route.

Somehow everyone makes it on the bus without a hitch.  We all wave goodbye and I can finally take a deep breath.  I can’t believe they actually made it.  I have to say, sometimes I impress myself.

I dreamed about a nice quiet cup of coffee as I made my way back towards the house; but instead I was greeted at the door by a two year old, holding a blanket and sobbing.

8:14 am

Maggie: “Why you leave me Mommy?”

Me: (Picking Maggie up) “Aw, don’t cry. I would never leave you.  I had to get the kids on the school bus, that’s all.”

Maggie: (Settling down)”You not leave me.”

Me: “No Maggie.  I will never leave.”

Maggie: (grabs my cheeks and kisses me.  She is suddenly smiling and happy.) “Thank you mommy!  I’m glad you’re home!”

Me: (giggling) “I’m glad I’m home too!”

 

Our home is crazy but I wouldn’t change it for the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Dear Grandchild

Below is a letter written by my mother to her 11 grandchildren.  My kids had fun trying to guess which memories were about them.  I hope this letter makes you smile as much as I did.  A letter from the heart could be the best gift on earth.  Thanks mom!  Love you!

Dear Grandchild:

The tiny glass hummingbird in my window filters sunlight and reminds me of you, a dancing flicker of light, never still.   I’m thinking of you today, and I miss you.  The day you were born, we whispered, “Praise God”, and still feel that way.  So many memories:  mountains of bubbles in your bath, walks to search for birds and flowers and seashells, and the sun rise on a dark beach.  With our aprons on, you and I made spaghetti sauce and salad and cookies.  Your artwork touched me– bright flowers, the sun, autumn leaves and a light shining in the window. There were treasured phone calls from you singing Happy Birthday, and reciting the alphabet and Pledge of Allegiance.  Over the years your tech skills impressed me but nothing pleased me more than watching you read from a book that needed no batteries.  When I overheard your conversations with imaginary friends, they became my friends too.  I was thrilled to watch you race after a baseball, a soccer ball or football, then pass it to a team-mate who made the score.  Teamwork is beautiful.  I watched a NASCAR race with one of you, and both our favorite drivers finished in the top five!

When you gave up your bedroom during our visits, it touched my heart.  When you hurried to find my shoes without being asked, you made me smile.  Traces of you were found all over the house when you left: fingerprints on the windows, a candy wrapper on the floor, a half-finished Coke on the table, a block under the sofa, Cheerios on the high chair and a mysterious pile of acorns in the back yard.  I remember your baptism, your birthday, your game and your graduation and loved every minute.

Over the years, you made me laugh and cry and inspired me to write stories and poems about you.   So now I’m offering a bit of advice even though you didn’t ask for it.  Don’t worry so much about tomorrow that you forget to see today.  Love your family and all the things they do for you; they are the best friends you’ll ever have.   I just wanted to say you’ll always be special to me. I believe in you and pray that your dreams come true. I love you very much… even when you ask why I have stripes on my face!

Hugs and kisses,  

Grandma

Written by Ruth Varner

  

 

  

Happy Holidays

Every year I send out a holiday card to all my friends and family.   I try to choose a good photo that sums up the year.  This year was no different.  In early December I started brain storming.   I searched through the hundreds of photos that I snapped throughout the year.  Nothing.  They all seemed so boring. To be honest,  I wasn’t sure if a card would ever happen this year between all of the kids activities and hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

The Birth Of Our Card

We decorated our Christmas tree one quiet night in early December.  It was an unplanned moment that unfolded into a great memory with the kids.   The older three are finally old enough to actually help and 2 year-old Maggie was in awe as Christmas unfolded in front of her.  She couldn’t stop staring at the lights and sparkly ornaments. Her innocence brought a smile to all of our faces.  The hours snuck away from us and before we knew it, it was past their bed time.  I sent everyone upstairs to put on their pajamas.   I used those few kid-free moments to clean up some of the mess strewn all over the family room.  The hubs made a cozy fire and we were definitely feeling the Christmas spirit .  There is something very satisfying about crossing “decorating the tree” off of my enormous holiday to-do list.

One by one the kids made their way downstairs to kiss us goodnight and then Maggie entered the room.  She was butt naked, carrying her pajamas and diaper in her hands.   To say that it caught us off guard is an understatement.  We laughed our sides off and through the laughter I  informed her of the obvious,  “Maggie!  You forgot your clothes girl.”  She ignored me, dropped her pajamas on the floor, walked right up to the tree, put her hands on her hips and BOOM…our Christmas card was born.

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No skirt on the tree = proof that I didn’t stage this photo

Snapped with an iPhone.  It is imperfectly perfect.  I can’t think of a better photo to sum up our year.  This is totally my life.  Just as soon as I feel like things are going well, something crazy and unplanned happens.  I think this is true for just about everyone I know.  Life is a constant roller coaster ride, so hang on.  You can either laugh or cry.  I choose to laugh.  After all, laughter is the best medicine on earth.

Happy holidays to all of you from my crazy home to yours!  May 2014 be full of prosperity, good health and happiness for all of us!

Love,

Mrs. D

  

All Rise, The King Has Arrived

Flynn (age 9): “Mom, Um…remember you said we could put Christmas up today.  Can we?”

Me: “Geez..I’m so tired, Flynn.  I spent all day taking down the fall decorations.”

Flynn: (very disappointed) “Aw, really?  That stinks.  You promised Mom.”

Me: “I know I did.  I’m sorry.  I’m exhausted! Can we do it tomorrow, please?”

Flynn: “What if I help? I promise I’ll help.  C’mon. I’ll get all the stuff out of the attic for you.”

Molly (age 8): “Me too, Mom.  Pleeeeaaase.”

As a parent, I try to have some integrity and let’s be honest; I’m always exhausted.  I feel like I could fall over from exhaustion every…single…day. The ever present mom guilt gets the best of me and I reluctantly agree.  I’d rather be a zombie than a liar.

Me: “OK, let’s do it.  Go get the decorations.”

They take off for the attic and Maggie (age 2) and Teagan (age 5) are holding hands chanting  “It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas!”

The giant bins of Christmas decor make their way down from the attic.  Every year I have to mentally brace for the most exhausting month of the year.  The last one.  December.  It’s the way I would imagine mile 26 to be in a marathon if I ever got off my lazy duff and ran one.  Exhausting, long, and busy yet fulfilling in some demented way.

Flynn: ( looks at the eight plastic bins full of Christmas decor )“Alright.  Looks like we have everything. Can we open everything up now?”

I realize that it’s just me with four excited kids.  Someone is missing from this “family” scene.

Me: “Wait. Everybody slow down. Where’s Dad?”

Flynn: “I donno.”

Me: “Well, we aren’t decorating without Dad.”

Molly: (screaming) “Dad!” (louder now) “Daaaaad”

Maggie: (Running in circles clapping her hands)  “Daddy!  Daddy!”

Teagan and Flynn run to the top of the basement stairs and scream together “On three.  Ready. 1-2-3  DDAAAADD!!!”

Me: “Can you please go look for him rather than scream?”

Ming: (annoyed) “What?  Why is everyone calling my name?”

Flynn: “Mom says we need you.”

Ming: “Why?”

Flynn: “We are putting up Christmas decorations and Mom says we can’t do it without you.”

Ming:“Alright.  I’m coming.

They hear his footsteps walking upstairs and they can hardly contain themselves.   “Daddy is coming!  Daddy is coming!”

announcing royalty

Ming opens the basement door and all of our offspring cheer like royalty has entered the room.  Let the festivities begin, the king has arrived!  Ya know what’s annoying?  I set him up for that entrance and I didn’t really mean to.  I suppose I could have decorated without him but I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the “Let’s Be A Perfect Family” handbook; Christmas decorating is in there and daddy contributes.  Anyway, Flynn and Molly rip into the organized bins and quickly turn the room into a disaster zone.  There is tissue paper flying and fragile ornaments being man-handled by an eager 2-year-old.  I have an incredible tolerance for chaos but this was too much.

Me: “Whooooooa!  Everyone stop!”

They all freeze and stare at me like a pack of deer in the headlights.  I can’t believe they actually listened to me.  The only sound that can be heard is Ming stirring his coffee in the kitchen.

Me: “I want this to be fun but we need to have a system.  I don’t want all of these ornaments to break, do you?  Now, everyone line up and pick one ornament at a time.”

They quickly filed into a straight line the way big families do. Youngest to oldest and nobody disputes it.  Maggie looks up with a big smile and eagerly points to the one she wants.  She is quite pleased that she picked one with a little puppy on it.

Me: “Good girl Maggie!  That’s perfect for you!  Now go find a special spot on the tree to hang it.”

She waddled over toward the tree and hangs it on a branch that already has an ornament on it.  Her ornament is squished and barely on the branch.  Every single bone in my body wants to move it to a new branch but I resist the urge and tell Maggie “great job!”

Teagan’s turn now.  She picks her ornament and finds a spot on the tree.  Oh look.  Somehow she managed to squeeze one more ornament on the exact branch that Maggie picked.  I want to get up and move it.  I want to tell her it looks terrible but I don’t.  I say “Great job Teagan!” like a big liar.  Then in a passive aggressive motherly sort of way I remind Molly to “spread the ornaments all around the tree.” I say it loudly so Teagan can hear. This is the way I have to deliver my message while keeping peace.  If I told Teagan directly, we would have tears and the night would be ruined.  There are a lot of logistics to decorating with four small children. Ming;  however, is completely oblivious to all of this.

He enters the room with his cup of hot coffee.

king chalise

 

He sits in his favorite chair…

ThroneAnd he watches the show.  Christmas is unfolding before his very eyes. The holidays must be very enjoyable for my husband.  The royal treatment begins on December the first and continues for the entire month.  He watches the tree getting decorated.  He enjoys the cookies that are baked for him. He eats the delicious meals that were carefully planned.

the king meal

 

He watches the children unwrap the pile of gifts that Santa Claus researched, purchased and wrapped.  He smells the aroma of various Christmas candles placed strategically around the house.  He exclaims “You’re Welcome” when guests thank him for the perfect gifts he didn’t know he sent.   He smiles when he learns that his annual Christmas Card made it into the hands of relatives that he hasn’t spoken to in years.  His robe is always clean.  He walks down a red carpet that has been vacuumed daily and drinks his hot coffee from a clean chalice all season.  This season I am leaving a message for all of the kings loved both near and far.  Remember, you’re only as strong as your people. That is all.

  

It’s Going To Be A Great Day

I have my alarm set for 6:45 a.m. but I don’t know why I bother.  Everyday it’s the same routine.  First, I hear his nails on the wooden floor and his tags on his collar jingling.  He stretches his front paws as far as they go and does his canine yoga and then he props his sweet little face on the edge of my bed.

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The hair whisps around my face gently blow from his breath.  I am especially tired this morning; so I ignore him.  “Maybe he will lay down and give me 10 more minutes”, I dream.  I know better though; he was not born with a snooze button.  He makes little bear noises to wake me up without disturbing the 2-year-old who made her way into my bed in the middle of the night. How does he know the right volume?  Loud enough to wake mommy but quiet enough so daddy and Maggie can sleep.  It’s our alone time together and he knows exactly how to get it.  My eyes are closed but I can feel him staring at me.  At some point I mentally decide that he is right, I better get up. The list of to-do’s for this morning started scrolling through my head.

As soon as my eyes pop open he gets excited and starts high-stepping with his paws like a miniature Clydesdale.  I glance at the clock, 6:26 a.m. “Good Morning handsome!  Right on time!  Teddy Bear, such a good boy!”  I whisper to him the way dog owners do.  The smile on my face is genuine.  I  love to rub his ears, they are as soft as velvet.  He looks up to remind me to scratch under his chin.  His eyes close and leans into me when I do that.  I slowly climb out of bed and throw on a sweatshirt and my warmest boots.  He watches me from the edge of the closet doors as his tail whips from side to side with excitement. “Are you ready buddy?”  He answers me by racing down the stairs and waits by the back door.

It’s a cold, brisk morning.  The cold air feels good on my face as we both make our way to the edge of the woods where he does his business.  I secretly think he feels embarrassed when I watch him so I look around like I don’t notice.  Now I’m getting cold.  “Hurry up dude!  Who pee’s that much anyway?”  I love him with all my heart but I don’t want him taking advantage of me.  A little nagging goes a long way.  He apologizes for his large bladder with his chocolate-brown eyes. “All right.  Ya done?”  He confirms that he is comfortable by sitting down next to me.  He stares up at me waiting for some love.  How can I resist?  I crouch down next to him and wrap my arms around him.

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“You’re a good boy!  A real sweetie.  Do you know that?”  He licks the air next to my face. He has already figured out that I don’t appreciate a true tongue bath the way daddy does.  “All right.  Let’s get breakfast inside where it’s nice and warm.”  He trots behind me and eventually we make our way inside.   I fill his dog bowl with fresh water and food and he inhales it the way chocolate labs do.   I could go back to bed but I opt to make a cup of joe and cuddle on the couch with my newest family member.  He props his head on my lap and closes his eyes.  I rub his soft ears again and slowly sip my coffee.  This is it.  This is happiness.  I, like everyone, am surrounded by chaos and stress.  I need these moments. Thank you Ted.  It’s going to be a great day.

 

I dedicate this blog to the lab rescue organization where I found Ted.  

http://lowcountrylabrescue.org