Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Pig, A Cat, and a Midget or Two

I am SO tired.

Like - I would KILL for the energy of an 80 year old tired.

The girls just yelled out,
"Mama! Pretend that you're the Mama and we're the babies and when we cry you come over and say, 'What's the matter?"

Pretend?
How is THAT a game?

Uh.
How about we play MOMMY'S favorite game of:
'Pretend you're trained masseuses and you rub my back and feet while I listen to soft music and then you go to bed?'

That's a good one.

Today wasn't a bad day.

It was actually pretty easy.

Well, as easy as it CAN be when you wake up before 7 and do daycare all day, change 15 diapers, cart all the kids to the preschool to pick up the four year old, work until 5:30 and then go grocery shopping before cooking dinner.
Oh yeah. While pregnant.

To truly understand what this sort of day is like,
I have created a training course.

What you will need to complete this course is:
An alarm clock, extensive weight training, multiple Legos and other small jagged toys, a pair of wild pigs, 6 cats,
and a death wish.

The night before training begins,
set your alarm to go off every two hours then drink 16 gallons of water.
You will now strap a 20 pound bag of dog food to your front.
This bag will not be removed.

Lay on a bed of nails. Flip side to side 60 times.

When the alarm goes off each time, get up and go to the bathroom.
In between those two hours, hire a midget to wake you up and tell you they had a bad dream and then carry said midget and hoist them into a top bunk because they are supposedly too tired to climb the ladder.
THEY are too tired.
Start to leave the room, then have the midget ask for "Itchy medicine."
Slather the midget with cream.
In the dark.
Take care to not get any cream on the midget's pajamas.
This midget has OCD and would require clean pajamas.

Place Legos along the path to get back to your bed and step on at least 3 with bare feet.
Suffer in silence.
Any hint of so much as a breathing sound will awake the midget and re-hoisting will be required.

After a combined total of 5 hours of actual sleep, get up for good.

Gaze for 2 minutes at your husband peacefully sleeping and wonder how it must feel to miraculously have night time hearing loss that allows for deep sleep no matter what the emergency.

Think about upping his life insurance policy.

But not for long,
because you must now immediately make a full breakfast for 6 to custom order.
This must be done no later than 3 minutes after waking and with your eyes taped closed.

Have aforementioned midget and two of his friends stand on your bare feet while you do this.
They will be asking for juice.
When you hand them the juice, they will ask how much longer till they eat.
While you are mid sentence answering that question, they will ask where their cartoons are.

Have a secret agent hide the remote the night before.
Search for the remote till you are sweaty.

Have one midget tell you you look gross.

Set the stove timer and microwave timer to simultaneously go off at the very second the midgets get angry because their cartoon is the wrong cartoon.

Now it is time to plate up.
Each plate is slightly different than the last.
You must have made a mental lists of who gets their waffle cut with syrup and who gets theirs with jam.
Think about which midget is allergic to peanut butter.
Think about where the Epi-pen is.

Have the midgets wrestle to determine their seating chart.
Check for bleeding.

After breakfast, release a pair of wild pigs into the house.
Attempt to capture both pigs at once with one hand, while wiping up a war torn table with the other, and bathe them.
Do this while resting your nose on cup of rotted milk.
Do not vomit.
*Vomiting = an F in the course and you will need to repeat your training.*

This is to simulate toddler diaper changes.

Have one pig roll in the rags you used to clean the other pig.

Re-wash this pig.

Repeat all pig steps up to, but not less than 15 times.

Now it is time for the cats.

Using only voice commands, guide all six cats at once into the family van.
It is time to get the preschooler from school.
There will be hissing and growling, but pay this no mind.
You are on a time table.

Spray all the cats with water, and then you must successfully strap all cats into the van in 1.5 minutes.
Warning: You may be injured.
Be strong, soldier.
The time is more important than possible Toxoplasmosis infection.
This 1.5 minutes is the amount of time left before you will be charged a late fee at preschool.

*Late fees = an F in the course and you will need to repeat your training.*

As you drive to preschool, you will be tested on which CD track is which.
Chim Chimney?
That's number 11.
It's a Small World?
That's good ol' 15.
You will be required to rapid fire off these tracks the entire way while being careful not to hit pedestrians and crossing guards.

Once you arrive at the school, release the cats into what is unfamiliar territory and again, using only voice commands, keep all cats together as you herd them, wide eyed, into the school.
Release a dog at the doors.
Attempt to keep cats cool and collected in the presence of said dog.
Have someone hide one cat in a classroom and carry all other 5, still soggy cats in your arms while you search for that cat.

Punch in your code to check out the preschooler with one hand while now holding all 6 cats in the other.
Allow one cat to poop.

Oops!
You forgot to pay tuition.
Write a check with your teeth.
Make the signature convincing.

Now go home.
Once home, run in a tight figure 8 pattern for a solid 3 hours.
Sort, correctly, several small items in 3 plastic bins without breaking your gait.

The moment you are done, have one of the midgets dump the bins out and then let a cat cough a hair ball on the mess.
Pretend you don't see the hairball and place your hand in it.
Sit with the feeling of warmth in your palm.

Never show frustration.

Remain in this mode until dark.

People will come to retrieve the animals.

You must now recount, in accurate detail to those picking up, everything each cat ate, licked, and looked at all day long.

Wish for death from exhaustion,
but only for a moment because now it's time to SHOP!

Gather 2 of the most angry midgets to go with you to the store.
For the best training possible, pick midgets who can't stand each other.

Place them in the cart and concentrate on a list while they box and bite and cause a scene.

Attempt to ignore the stares aimed at the angry boxing midgets.
Avoid all eye contact with other shoppers.

Write another check with your teeth.

Once home,
you will repeat breakfast procedure while all midgets scream and cry and stab at each other with pens.

Now yell something even YOU don't understand.

This course is complete when your third chunk of hair falls out and you have contracted a nervous twitch.

Now take a luxurious 12 minute break and then repeat all steps for 3 years.

Congratulations.
You have now graduated the course.

Your diploma will be mailed to you.

And yes.
It will be signed with my teeth.









Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Parenting Paxil

I had visions of lots of blogs while I've been pregnant.
I thought I'd really DOCUMENT this one.
Yeah right.

I Don't know who I was kidding.
She'll probably be lucky if she ever gets her picture taken.

Between daycare kids 40 hours a week and Alena's homework that practically requires a degree and breaking up cage matches over which Calliou episode to watch, I haven't had a moment to breathe.
Unless I look down, I sometimes forget I'm pregnant.

It's led to seven months that have flown by and an upcoming baby that I currently feel totally unprepared for.

I have ten weeks to go and whenever I think about how soon it's all happening, I almost have a mini stroke.

By baby four I'd imagine this is usually the case, though.
At least that's what I tell myself to feel better.

I remember with Alena I was on constant red alert.
I read all the books.
Googled everything.
It all had to be perfect.
Clean clothes at all times.
Stuffy nose?
911.
Crazed hyper-sanitization.

If her pacifier dropped for a split second, I would pull out a pot and boil it immediately.
If I was in public, I'd buy a new one.

By the time Tessa came around 10 years later,
as long as it wasn't covered in dog hair, I'd just lick it off and shove it back in her mouth and just keep right on going.
I didn't even blink.
As long as the stains on the clothes were clearly not poop or blood, we were all good.

Oh how things change....

I guess with natural progression, that means this one will get the pacifier back regardless of the dog hair situation.
She may be mistaken for an under-bridge dweller.

Maybe I should have a onesie printed that reads,
"No need to call CPS. I'm baby number four."

I guess it's normal that I still don't have any bottles or pacifiers or actual necessities.
Right?

Please tell me I'm right.

She'll probably come home wrapped in one of Justin's hoodies.
Her diaper fashioned from a sandwich baggie with holes for legs.
Car seat? Nah. We've got bungees in the trunk we use for camping.

I have not bought one solitary item for her.

When I see first time moms now, I just sit and smile at the neurosis.
It's the same knowing smile I give when a first timer says, "I plan on delivering naturally."
Uh huh. Sure you do, Hon.

I see the panic over every noise and gurgle.
The concern over dry skin patches and mystery bumps.
The bags packed to the nines with everything short of an emergency flare.

In my mind, the only things you ever really need for a baby are:
Three rags
Something wet - be it wipe or rag with water or rag with Mother's spit
Gas drops,
and a pacifier. Oh thank GOD for pacifiers.

And possibly some duct tape.

Anything else you need can be fashioned from a combination of these items.

We over complicate it.

I feel lost sometimes when I browse the isles of Target and see some of the stuff they have for babies.
The same babies who would rather eat cat food than sweet potato puffs.
The same ones who would rather play in toilet water than with their $70 Baby Einstein mat.

Einstein.
Yeah right.

When Alena was an infant, her very favorite thing in the whole wide world was a quilted watermelon patterned place-mat my odd aunt gave as a Christmas gift.
It went everywhere with us.
We'd be leaving the house and ask each other, before the door was latched,
"Did you grab the place-mat?" People overhearing probably thought it was code for something.

My friend Beth and I laughed the other day over how we'd morphed.
Both of us currently have 3 kids.

We'd come from late nights listening to rap music and being out late dancing to late nights walking the floor with feverish toddlers in just a few years.

We talked about how it is taking our nervous Nelly husbands a little while to catch up with us on the concept of just relaxing with the helicopter parenting a bit.

She said the other day her husband came home to find her on the couch watching TV with not a kid in sight.
He said, "Where are all the kids?"
To which she answered,
"I don't know. They're SOMEWHERE in the house. I'm pretty sure I locked all the doors."

I told her that sometimes Justin will say,
"Aren't you going to check on them?! I hear Chloe screaming."
After which I tell him,
"Chloe is ALWAYS screaming. It's practically her regular speaking voice. If I got up every time someone was screaming, I'd never rest. If they're bleeding I'll check. And not just bleeding the microscopic amounts that they say needs a Hello Kitty band-aid. I mean REAL bleeding. Tourniquet style."

I guess I've just mellowed out.
If we don't have the bassinet set up by the time the baby is born, she can just sleep in Justin's spot.
That dude's practically Narcoleptic already. It doesn't matter where you put him.
I can only imagine how it'll be come February.
Me, shooting bitter glares in his direction in the dark room as he snores while I hold Paige for hours wishing for just a 10 minute stretch of rest.
If he falls asleep on the couch after dinner, I'll just leave him there instead of calling his name 8 times and shaking the couch to get him to come to bed.

What has happened to our culture as parents?
No wonder so many mothers are on anti-anxiety meds.
We're told we need ridiculous things like these:

I mean - WHAT THE HECK?!
and this:

For when the 60 squares of toilet paper your toddler pulls from the roll just aren't quite enough.
Or how about this:

Because, frankly, who has ALL that TIME it takes to labor over cutting up a frank?
Or this:

Because we'd rather people think that our child had a life threatening condition than that they EVER get a bruise on that precious little head.

Just see how many play dates you get invited to when you bring THAT thing.

RELAX, people.
You're losing it.
And that's saying a lot coming from me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Hormonal Hulk

Oh man I'm in a bad mood.

I think the dark cloud above my head has a smaller cloud above IT.

This is the thing with pregnancy.
One day you're humming lullabies and making little tiny baby hats with sparkles in your eyes and the next your jugular veins are sticking out of your neck and your kids are scared you'll eat their brains the next time you get hungry.
Which is, like, every four minutes.

I just can't control it.
It isn't for any tangible reason, really.
Nothing I can pinpoint.

I mean, the screaming doesn't help.
The fist fights aren't awesome.
Neither is the fact that 45% of my job involves wiping someone's butt.
Neither does the back ache or what feels like stumps for feet.
I'm not fond of hearing myself say things like,
"Russian Nesting Dolls are not for throwing at your sister's head."
It doesn't help my mood that Tessa's favorite thing to do in public now is to shove her little midget head up under my maternity shirts so the fabric stretches against her face like some creepy scene from Alien.
Or that when she does that it exposes the giant full panel of my lovely maternity jeans as I try to free her as she giggles.

Evil beast.

I'm not in love with the fact that at only mid way through my pregnancy I'm already getting comments like,
"Wow. Look at your belly! How cute. HOW far along are you now?"

I know what you're saying, people.

I know that you're really thinking that I look more like you did at 7 months than 4.
Need I remind that I was not a size 2 to begin with?
Need I remind this is baby number 4 and pregnancy number 7?
My body is more silly putty than elastic.
And if ONE PERSON asks me if I'm having twins or triplets this pregnancy, I am promising without a doubt that I am going to get violent.

I will be on the news.

A mug shot will happen.

By baby number four, you're over the La La Land of pregnancy and more in
Look at Me Wrong and You Die Land.

I mean, most days I wake up at 6:30 and am beckoned to IMMEDIATELY make breakfast for children who, Lord only knows how, ended up being morning people.
I am, and will never be one.
Before my eyelids can stay open on their own I'm toasting things and spreading things and looking for a sippy cup that doesn't have that wierd black stuff in the stopper.

Then daycare starts and it's a whole day of diapers and feeding and removing inedible objects from slobbery mouths.
Then there are the "Mamas" - THOUSANDS of them.
"Mama?! She hit me!"
"Mama?! I want Cheese-It's."

"Mama?! MAMA? MAAAAAMMMMMAAAA?!"
"WHAT?!"

"I love you."

My mom says one day she'll actually keep track of how many times they say it.
She loves to mention that , "Pretty soon you'll have ANOTHER one calling you."
This is when I make the half-mast eye face at her. The face that says,

"Thanks. I hadn't thought of that."

By the time the daycare kids go home then I start dinner and help with homework then Justin calls to ask what's for dinner.
I haven't even eaten lunch.
I have literally not even sat down since I sat on the edge of my bed choking back tears aimed at my alarm at 6:30.

This is when I dunk his head under water repeatedly in my mind when he sounds less than thrilled with "Tuna casserole" as an answer.

Then it's baths and bed time which consists of 6 gallons of water on the tile and more demands than two terrorists could dream up.

They need to go potty.
They need a drink of water.
Tessa's spitting her water at me, can you tell her to stop?
Cwowie's wooking at me.

They are hot.
They are cold.
They need their feet tucked under their blanket like some helpless shut-in.
I can't find Spirit. (the 2 inch tall Parrot that Chloe must have at all times - WHY oh WHY does it have to be so small and hard to find?!)
You didn't pray that I'd have angels around my bed while I slept.
Daddy only gave me a kiss. He forgot the hug.


Bed time takes so long and so many trips up and down the stairs that I should just strap on ankle weights and make it my cardio.
I've thought of hooking up Skype to their bedroom just to save myself.

This is about the time I become Mean Mommy.
A Mommy who snaps things like,
"If you call me one more time I'm going to sell you to traveling gypsies. Now lay down and go to sleep!"

Justin just sits blinking at me from the couch when I go back downstairs for the 15th time.
He hears it all on the baby monitors as he eats the aforementioned tuna casserole and watches sports.
Looks relaxing to come home and REST.
I wouldn't know.
I'm finding Spirit.

I see the judging eyes that wonder why I'm not more calm with our precious angels.
My look tells him that I dare him to do more than chew and stare forward.

But I FEEL that I'm being unreasonable.
I don't need to be told.
I feel sorry for the kids at the same time as I'm losing my mind and my patience.

Yesterday at church I got approached by a girl who asked if I'd please call her and let her come watch the girls every so often.
She was actually ASKING ME.
She said, "I just LOVE watching them. They're so cute. Do you want my cell phone number?"

For a minute I looked around for hidden cameras.
Was that even a real question?

How does every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and alternating weekends from now till the end of time work for you?
Yes. Yes I want your cell phone.
You might have to block my number before it's over.

My poor poor family.

There's a pregnant troll living under their drawbridge.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If Your Eyeballs are Bleeding from Stress, Press 2.

And then a flare was sent up through the boxes, followed by a weak, paint splattered hand shakily poking up through the ruins.

She was alive.

Barely.

This move has nearly killed me.
The next moving truck I go in will be run by a company called the "County Coroner" and the only thing they will be moving is my cold, lifeless body.

I guess it would have been easier if I were the type to be happy with stark white walls and no thought towards aesthetics, but I'm not.
I must paint.
I must create balance.
It's in my DNA.

I have taped off and painted and touched up and found studs until I collapse into the bed at night only to have nightmares of non leveled pictures after hours of striving.

Trying to get the girls settled in here has been a feat.
For the first two weeks, Chloe kept asking,
"Mama, when we're done here, can we go home?" - Which broke my heart.
Tessa cried a lot.
That's not like her at all.

It's hard explaining moving to children.

It's also hard explaining moving to OCD husbands.
"Sweetheart, it's very difficult to dust the frames if they're packed away in a box. I'm sure it can wait."

Justin spent the first couple of weeks here storming around with his nostrils flared.
He doesn't do well in chaos.
He doesn't do well with wall to wall boxes labeled
"Crap that was just left over."

Between the kids falling apart and his plummeting mood, I had
about had it.

Sure!
Let's just have pregnant, exhausted Mama be in charge of it all.
Let's have her make all major decisions. It's OK that her pregnant brain doesn't even remember how to make coffee correctly.
Who cares if she's dizzy?
Send her up the ladder to cut in the paint edges.
And go ahead and ask her if she got anything at all unpacked today while you were at work and she did daycare and made lunches. Surely she must have had a FEW spare minutes.
Just ask.

The doctor prescribed blood pressure medication for me.

And good thing,
because getting the AT&T Uverse hooked up here ALONE has been enough to send me to a five story ledge and question leaping.
It was like a two day repeat of "Who's on First" just trying to work that phone system.

I have now spoken to approximately 30 AT&T workers in 15 different countries.
I can sing 15 Muzak songs.
I have chatted online with 2 technicians.
I have a new friend named Shelly and a new enemy named Baharat.

At least that's what I THINK he said.
Who can tell with all that background noise of the Indian marketplace?

I maybe even heard a chicken.

It has taken a week of waiting and 5 hours of hold and department transfer time to get a technician out here to simply run a cable to one of our TVs.
First they only had our old address.
The technician complained he was knocking and knocking and no one was home.
No one was home somewhere else, if you know what I mean.

I won't go into full detail to save you all from pulling out your OWN eyelashes and eating them out of anxiety, (as I have) but let's just say I could have gone to school to become a technician and run my OWN cable in a quicker and more painless time than this all took.

AT&T will not be receiving any Valentines from me.
They're lucky I'm a good Christian woman.

But as of this very moment - between the last sentence and this one, it is fixed.
Problem solved.
No more bulging carotid arteries for me.

Well, at least not from THAT.

And I do believe I deserve a medal, as I, Kerri Green, have not taken one single day of daycare off throughout our move.
I have made snacks and fed them from my cupped, clasped fingers when I couldn't find bowls.
I have wiped faces with my bare hands because the towels were packed.
I have caught kids just in time as they almost ingested handfuls of
"WHAT THE HECK IS THAT" that they found as credenzas were carried out and bare carpet was exposed.

There were north of 16 Cheese-Its found behind our entertainment cabinet when it was taken.
I have no idea how that even happened.
Especially since Tessa never usually lets a Cheese-It slip by unnoticed.

But now things are looking more like a home.
Most rooms are painted.
Things are hung up.
I'm in LOVE with our bedroom.
Next stop is curtains because I really can't handle the 6:00 am Chloe and Tessa alarm clock I have because their room is full of light.

It's almost like the sun is actually IN there with them.

All that's gone on in the last few months have made the idea of a new baby take a backseat. Poor thing. They way things are going, we may need to just save one of the empty boxes to use as a crib.
I still can't believe it's real.

My best friend Lisa asked me yesterday if I was SURE I was done this time and I probably scared her with how emphatically I answered yes.

Four is going to put me on the brink of insanity.
Five would have me so far past that, that the brink would look like an ant.
From a plane.

I already worry about making sure Tessa's never left alone with it.
Ever.
I can't even imagine how fast it would be covered head to toe in sharpie tattoos.

But what's one more set of hands prying my eyelids open at ungodly hours?

But also one more fresh-after-bath baby head to sniff......
How could I resist THAT?

I can handle it.

It can't be as bad as the last 2 days with AT&T.

If I can survive that, I can survive anything.











Thursday, July 28, 2011

Movin' on up

To appease the masses, I will blog.

Though the water is just about boiling and I can hear the kids upstairs fighting through Alena's open window. I'm sure it's nothing to climb the stairs over.

I'll let her deal with that.

SO much has gone on since I last wrote.
People keep asking when I'll write another blog and I tell them I will - Just as soon as I'm done breathing into my paper bag.

First of all - I'm pregnant again.

Holy God in Heaven help me.

It wasn't a complete surprise.
We were semi-trying, I guess. I had known I wanted another one and Justin - well - He didn't argue TOO much.

Even still, it was a shocker to go in to the doctor thinking I most certainly had a UTI then to come out with a slip for the OB.

I wasn't even late.

The girls are super excited.
Chloe pretty much thinks it's her baby and I'm just a surrogate.
She keeps telling me what it should be named.
Emily, Vine, Angelina and Milo have been suggested.
Today she actually cried real tears when I told her what we really would be naming it if it's a boy.

She wants Arthur.
I want NOT.

I don't know why we even gave it a second thought, though.
We all know it'll be another girl.
I have a theory that all my miscarriages were male babies. That my body actually physically rejects boys.

Poor Justin.
Set adrift in a sea of emotional imbalance and tearful mascara run stains on the pillowcases he's washing.

We have had moments of "Oh crap. Where are we PUTTING this kid."
But - not to fear - that concept was taken care of for us when we got news that the house we have been renting and have loved like our own is now in foreclosure.
We have to move.

Perfect.

Just what I want to do.
Dry heaving while doing actual heaving.

My first panic attack came when realizing that since Justin had to work and my mom is out of town all week long, the majority of the packing would lie on me. Irritable, allergic to dust mites me.
My packing strategy has bordered on throwing every single item away and starting completely from scratch.

After all, Who doesn't want to feel that they will throw up just from brushing their teeth in the mornings and then have to clean out a 12 year old's hoarded room complete with tins of dust and hair covered gummy eyeballs?

"But Mama! I was SAVING THOSE!"

True story.

On top of all this I've been doing daycare for an adorable little boy named Jaxson.
I love him completely. He's an angel. But even angels have to be kept out of boxes of the aforementioned hoarded pre-teen room.

I was already exhausted just from the hormones.
I now feel on the brink of death daily.
The bags under my eyes have bags of their own.

Even when I try to sleep at night, my mind goes a million miles an hour with thoughts of paint palettes and furniture arrangement, baby names and wondering if I could possibly LOOK as horrible as I feel.

I almost had a nervous breakdown last weekend.
I came about one "She hit me!" away from needing medical assistance.
Justin just kept blinking at me as the veins burst from my neck.
I had been on an emotional roller coaster for days over looking at places and thinking about moving, then not sleeping and all the mood swings. Not to mention the nausea which wasn't just in the morning. It was all day.
It got the best of me.

I did an actual fetal position on the futon for a bit and then felt better.
It really is a "thing."
My family was wild eyed from having their heads bit off all day, but I felt better.

But, now we have a place.



It's great.
We're excited.
It's not tan with brown trim. (gag)
Bonus.
The kitchen is bigger than that of a motor home.
The downstairs bathroom does not require a daily juice fast to get into.
And I am permitted to PAINT.
Glorious.

My mom had so lovingly reminded
- approximately 100 times -
that I may not be permitted to paint in a new place as I had been here.
I responded as any grown woman would by placing my hands over my ears and yelling,
"Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala" until she stopped talking.

I claimed The Secret and ignored all that negative talk.
I just can't handle white walls.
When I'm in a white room I feel like I need to be in khakis and a white button up shirt. Tucked in. With Mom hair.
What could be worse than THAT?!
Perhaps because I feel that I will be surrounded by them in the future,
So let's not jump the gun.

And maybe The Secret worked.
I am now ankle deep in wall to wall Behr paint samples.
I find a reason to go back to Home Depot almost every day for more.
It's almost an addiction.
(I don't know WHERE on EARTH Alena gets the hoarding from..........)

And poor Justin.
That guy is managing the stress as best he can, Bless his heart.
He's actually doing amazingly.

There have only been brief moments of corner rocking and so far
I've been able to talk him down from jumping from a high ledge over all the mounds of stuff in the garage.

Progress.

I do feel sad about leaving here in some ways.
I brought my babies home here.
We've had family holidays and birthday parties here.
There are tons of great memories.
I know where the creaky floor boards are. I can find my way around in the dark.

I've chosen to leave the little girls' room put together until we leave.
To not throw them off too much.
Chloe doesn't even handle moving her lunch time out 15 minutes - I can't imagine she'd do well sleeping on a plain mattress on the floor for a week.

I'm not so worried about Tessa. She'll be fine as long as the Cheese-It's are unpacked first.

I'm thankful we've gotten past the girls asking me, "Mama, why are you taking THAT down?" over every. single. item I took off the walls.
They have the memories of goldfish -
unless they are required to remember something like that I said maybe we'd get frozen yogurt tomorrow.
THAT they can remember.
Over and over and over.

I know that wherever we go, life will go on.
New memories will be made and thankfully they will NOT be memories of a kitchen so small you practically WEAR anyone else who is cooking with you. No one is ever a stranger in there for long.

And then there will be a new Green.

I'm scared of what THIS one could possibly be like.
When my mom asks me to imagine him or her, all I can do is practice my controlled breathing.
I am comforted only by the promise that God does not give us more than we can handle.

God must think I'm Superwoman.

But, what's one more patch of hair pulled out from stress?
What's one more worry line?
Why not add another scream to the choir?
What's the difference, really?
When you're crazy - You're crazy.

There's no insane-ER.

Might as well hold a newborn as I rock back and forth in the corner.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No. I See the Car Wash.




If I rated my patience level today on a scale of one to ten, it would be about a....well....

HALF.

I knew from the moment I woke up and could hear my heartbeat in my eardrums that it was going to be a long day.
My blood pressure had to be approximately 250/185.

I hadn't slept well.

It's hard to sleep well when every two hours you wake up to find you are sequestered to the right 1/6 of the bed because your four year old has snuck in somehow, AGAIN, and is taking up all the space.
Half of Justin's body was on the floor.

We have asked her before how she justifies laying diagonally for hours in a bed that is not hers and she just replied,
"That's just how I sleep here."

We carry her back.
She shows back up.
A preschool Houdini, of sorts.

And you never feel her get in.
She's a night time ninja.

I had to get up early to greet my new daycare baby Jaxson who comes at 7:15.
A perfectly acceptable start time for most humans.
MOST who are not of the opinion that morning should start at approximately 10:00am.

I just felt off

I was crabby. Snappy.

And coffee didn't help, either.
Then I was just crabby AND cracked out.

What about put me over the edge today was the constant eating the kids did.
Literally every 10 minutes I was being beckoned to find crackers or locate yogurts that weren't 'too cold.'
The moment I'd get settled from making one snack, they'd ask for another.

ALL DAY.

The list of things Tessa ate went something like:
* An entire adult sized bowl of cereal
* three bowls of bunny crackers
* a cheese stick
* a Greek yogurt
* a quarter of a watermelon
* 20 strawberries
* a turkey and cheese melt on whole wheat
* 3 graham crackers
* 3 cups of juice
* one glass of milk
* one glass of water

And that was all before noon.

And also I'm not even kidding.

The neighbors probably thought I was doing some sort of child deprivation as I yelled out, "Don't even THINK of asking for another snack before lunch."

Then I had the GENIUS idea to skip nap time today and just put them to bed early.
After all, we were going to have to take Alena to the orthodontist at 3:00 anyway and why cut into their nap time to drag them out? Why not just let them stay up?

Bad, horrid, awful, wretched plan wrought with woe.

After the snacking, the whining started and NEVER STOPPED.

"Mama! Tessa won't leave me alone in the bathroom!"
"Mama! Tessa's trying to wipe me!"
"But I don't want to wear pants!"
"I want to squish the snails first."
"But I don't LIKE those shoes."
"Mama! Tessa's eating MY snacks!"


But all of these complaints, as silly as they sound, PALE in comparison to the meltdown of the day award that goes to Tessa for the fit about....drum roll, please......


WHO GETS TO TELL MAMA THEY SEE THE CAR WASH.

Beloved family game.

The girls play this game daily. Every time we're parked at the corner of Piner and Coffey Lane, one of them yells out, "I see the car wash!" and they giggle.
After all, car washes are quite hilarious, no?

Well today, Chloe saw the car wash first and was first to report sending Tessa into an absolute crisis mode. There was snot. There were tears. There were swollen, and I think possibly glowing red eyes.
She seriously needed some sort of hotline to call because that girl came unglued.

"CWOWIE!!! I WANTED TO TELL MAMA I THEE THE CAR WASH FIIIRRRRSSSSTTTTT!"

Pretty sure you could see the van rocking from behind.

And that's when I completely lost it.

"Tessa! Stop! I see the car wash! I ALWAYS see the car wash. As a matter of fact, I see the car wash before EITHER of you because I ride in the front. I see it every day. But say it! Say it now! Tell me again. Tell me a MILLION TIMES THAT YOU SEE IT, but after that NO ONE gets to tell me they see it. Only I get to say it. I see the car wash! I SEE THE CAR WASH!!!!!!!!"


And then that thing happened to me. That thing where you re-hear something you've just said and you cannot believe you just said it. You can't believe that ridiculous thing came out of your mouth. You hover above your own body for a bit.
I wondered how I had just had a nervous breakdown over a car wash, and had I REALLY yelled out "Don't even ask for another solitary crumb" earlier?

I daydreamed of a random safari truck screeching by and having a hunter shoot me in the carotid artery with a tranquilizer gun rendering me unconscious for at least two hours.

I thought about being drugged and abducted and put in a trunk and whisked away for ransom.

Both of these options lending a nap, at least.

I stepped on the gas.
Tessa's head spun around.
We pulled into the driveway.

She was still muttering some unrecognizable sentences as she vibra-breathed.
Something about a balloon. Something about shoes. Something about the car wash.

For a brief second, all I could think about was lemonade.

Then I hustled their little butts upstairs so fast there may have been smoke.

I helped them brush their teeth. I didn't even care this time that they only brushed for 20 seconds and most of that was spent sucking the toothpaste and trying to brush the cat with their spin brushes.

Jammies flew on.
I sang the worlds fastest and probably least settling lullaby.
Then I kissed them goodnight, threatened their lives if they called for me and pulled the door closed.

But not before Tessa meekly muttered,
"Mama.....Can I have a banana?"
Which I pretended not to hear.

Especially since she'd had two actual dinners. Full. With sides.

I know it may sound mean and unmotherly, but it was primal survival at that point.

I have few plans for tonight.

One is to lay flat on my back as far away from the kitchen as possible - well - maybe not. That would be Alena's room and a pre-teen's room is frankly scary.

Another is to watch copious amounts of TV. TV that does NOT include singing or dancing or animated penguins. Not even a HUM of Chim-Chim-Churi.

And last, I will google "Mini Refrigerators" so that I can fill one with perfectly proportioned cheese-its and juice boxes and who KNOWS what else. Whatever's on coupon, I guess. 6 for the price of 5.

Because I'm sure we'll end up on a talk show for SOME reason some day.

Might as well be that.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Two Trailer Park Girls



Today I took the crew to my friend Beth's house to meet her new baby boy.

Adorable, perfect, squish faced little boy.

It was great to meet him and see how her other two kids have grown.
Great to see her new home and her lovely life.
It was great to make fun of her for the extensive and very adult looking encyclopedia library she has in her also adult looking "sitting room."

It was even better to see her.

I don't know what happens to us moms when we have families.
We get so sucked in that we barely have time to pluck our eyebrows on the same day we shave our legs, let alone make plans for coffee with a friend.
But Beth is a good friend. One of the best, actually.

When the door opened and she was standing there, our eyes met with a look of glee/desperation that only another stay at home mom knows.
The look that says,
"Oh thank God you're here. Please never ever leave me."

She passed off the baby. The girls shoved through and
threw off their shoes, made quick introductions and then ran off to fight over whatever they could find to fight over.
Which was everything.

We almost had to reintroduce ourselves it had been so long.

"Hi. My name is Kerri. I like coffee, writing, cooking and ACTUAL ADULT CONVERSATION THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE ASKING IF YOU NEED TO GO POTTY EVERY 20 MINUTES."

It was great to catch up, and also funny, because when it's an old and dear friend, it really doesn't matter how much time or life has passed.
You slip back into friendship as if it were a favorite pair of house slippers.

We laughed about how life had changed and then both of us fogged over and were transported.
Suddenly we were taken back to a place and time before all of this.
Before the nursing bras and nap time meltdowns.

A happy place.

When I first met Beth we were in our early 20's.
I had been attending a Bible study at a friend's house and she started coming with her then fiance.
Then.
At first, I thought she was quiet and demure. Shy. Meek.
Nice enough to study the book of John with, but not my type of friend for actually hanging out and long conversations.

Kerri is to demure as oil is to water.

That winter, the Bible study group planned a trip to Tahoe to stay in a cabin and snowboard and ski. Apparently we were also there for sleep deprivation and laughing so hard that it caused actual physical pain lasting for days.
I remember having to rub my jaws for days after that trip because of laughing so much.

Beth came along sans fiance.
Something I thought nothing of, really, until 2 nights in when she ambushed me in the downstairs bathroom of the cabin when no one else was around.
I walked in unsuspecting.
She closed the door behind me.
Click.

We hadn't even talked before, really.
That apparently didn't matter.
She was scrubbing her face so hard I thought she would remove skin. Possibly even connective tissue.
Her eyes looked like a caged animal and I thought I may need to call for help.
I didn't want to end up on the news or anything.
I knew how things like this could go. I'd seen CSI.

I didn't say a whole lot as she barricaded the door, but then she just started unloading.
She must have taken a dose of Meek-Be-Gone, because she talked.
And talked.

And talked.

She bore her soul while I just sat there and blinked and then she asked for advice and I gave it. Thus began our pattern.

One thing I'm good at is opinions. It's a gift.

That weekend, as we left, I had a new friend for life and she had, well, broken up with her fiance.

And they lived happilly ever after
.

Thus began the pattern of us sequestering ourselves in small spaces and talking through major life decisions with ferver.
Mostly it was me listening as she told me all her grand proclamations and new plans.

The plan to buy her convertible.
The plan to sell her convertible.
The plan to get a dog.
The plan to get rid of the dog after it leaped from the aforementioned convertible onto a freeway overpass while she was driving.
The plan to drive across country with a boyfriend to live at a skydiving school in New York in a commune style tent and sky dive all the livelong day.

That one didn't last long.

It was a great couple of years.
Both of us single and carefree.
Years full of rap music and emailing back and forth when we should have been working.
We pierced our noses together.
She was the church secretary - which was hilarious in itself.

We used to barbecue every other day and stay out all night.
We once totally swept a contest on the radio for concert tickets by writing the most fabulous rap, ourselves, about why we should win.
We went out dancing.
We camped.

It was basically completely awesome.

...........And that's what we were both thinking as we sat there holding the babies.

Remember the days.....

They are days that are still in us, though.
We could never be the type to completely let that go in exchange for bouncy seats, sippies and bibs.

She even said to me,
"Ker, in your expert opinion..."
and then I held my breath for what she thought I was an expert in.
Sweat pants?
Banging one's head against the wall?
Best possible stain remover for dog vomit?

"Did my hair look better with highlights or how it is now - solid color?"

Oh thank GOD.
I have not lost it completely.
She is actually CURRENTLY looking at me and STILL values my opinion on hair.
All is not lost.

I'm glad, because there is a list of things that we vowed to never give up:
1) Good haircuts
2) Fashionable dress - at least 70% of the time.
3) Making SOME time for who we are. As women. Not just as moms.

Maybe it's something simple, like keeping a copy of Lucky magazine in the bathroom for you to thumb through while you wait for you toddler to finally go poop instead of just sitting there playing with the toilet paper roll.
"That's enough. I SAID that's enough."

Maybe it's just making sure the spit up is at the very least BLENDED into your hair so that the line of stiffness because of wax vs. stiffness because of vomit is too blurred to tell.

Maybe it's STILL doing cat eyes even if you ARE only going to Pinercrest Park for the 40th time this month. Even if you are also wearing yoga pants.

The Kerri I am now with my three kids and husband and spinning dog is my best Kerri.

It's the one I've wanted to be since the time I was old enough to talk and tell people what I wanted to be when I grew up.
This has always been it. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

But I'm also Kerri who likes Hip Hop.
Kerri who likes driving with the windows down at night with my music turned up.
I'm Kerri who doesn't want to come in when the sun goes down.
Who likes black nail polish and girl time and not being beckoned before I'm good and ready.
I sometimes want a hoop where my nose stud is.
I like 8 Mile.
A LOT.
I like pool parties, and a good glass of red.

Today, bathed in children and burp cloths and memories,
Beth reminded me again of who I am, and that me is more than just one thing.

I'm a great mom - (Despite what Alena may have thought at the park on Saturday.)

But sometimes even moms need a good bass beat.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Just Keep Spinning

Today was Family Fun Day.
A title SOME members of our family feel is a loose term.
The sun was shining. We were all home. We had even woken up early - And if you know us, that is no small feat.

The plan was to go shopping at the outlet malls and then stop off at Leghorn Park in Petaluma.
The greatest park ever. State of the art. Fun for all ages.
At least, I marketed it as such.

The outlets were successful for the most part.
Alena needed new shoes for running.
Not that she normally DOES a lot of running, but it's something I'm trying to encourage.
Activity for more than just her thumbs, and the like.

She, Justin, my Mom and even Tessa found shoes.
Of course, Tessa ALWAYS finds shoes. They may not be in her size and they may look like they belong on a hooker, but she finds them and parades around expressing how beautiful she is.
She had three boxes strewn out at Nike.
One was a Men's 11.

I found sunglasses to replace the ones that Tessa had stretched so far beyond recognition that they almost made a straight line when you opened them up.
The ones that fall off my head every time I bend over.

We enjoyed the sun and almost pierced Tessa's ears, until I started thinking that I really didn't want the 14 year old girl at Claire's who was manning the registers alone to do it.
She looked busy enough with her gum.

So far so good.
I had remembered snacks and water and Tessa's pull up was still dry.
Overall good.

Our day was working out. No one was screaming. Tessa and Chloe were getting along. All beginnings of meltdowns were quickly stifled with bribes of the lollipops I had in the car if the girls were good.

I know. I know.
Questionable Parenting 101.

Then we loaded up our treasures and went to the park.

And that's where it all unraveled.

Within 2 minutes of being there, Tessa was crying. She had hit her head on the way down the slide, which was no wonder, being that it was shaped like a twirly straw and very very steep.

Alena handed me the coffee my mom had just bought me from the Starbucks on the corner and I promptly spilled it down her shirt.
Mortifying for any pre teen.

As I comforted Tessa and dabbed Alena, I looked closely at Chloe who'd been super moody all day to notice that yes. I DO believe she has pink eye.
Diagnosis confirmed by oozy bright red puffy eye.
Fabulous.
"Chloe. Don't rub it."
"I'm not." As she stood there - RUBBING IT.
"You are. You are right now, actually."
"No I'm not!"
Then she started crying.

During all of this, Alena stood quietly by. All was fairly well until she spotted the spinning cup and decided to try it out while we all had our backs turned.
After all, the child in it before her was only roughly 8 months old and THEY seemed to like it.

Hindsight is 20/20, Alena.

She got in and got it going and couldn't get it to stop.
Around and around and around she went.
I actually don't know how long she was going before I saw her there, but when I went over with my mom all we could do was laugh at her when she said,
"Mama! Help! I can't stop it." as she went around over and over again.

I dug for my camera.

SHE says I then said, "I'll help you, but I want to shoot a video first."

Something which I will neither confirm nor deny.
I did end up with a video, though.

I was laughing so hard at the whole scene that I didn't want it to stop.
Something in me wanted to spin it MORE.
I didn't, but I wanted to.

My mom and I were both crying we were laughing so hard.
My mom was doubled over.
I thought the rise in the tone in Alena's voice meant SHE was laughing, too, maybe.

No?
I couldn't really tell.
Her face was so blurry because of all the spinning.
It makes emotion recognition hard.

When I finally did stop her, I realized she was crying and even then I could not stop laughing.
It was sort of laughing because she was crying over spinning in a baby spin cup. Then it was laughing because I was laughing.

She was so embarrassed and mad at me that she kept crying, but she wanted to hide her face so she kept going behind me to try to bury her face in the back of my neck, I guess, but I kept turning to talk to her and she kept still trying to remain behind me, so she was, in essence STILL spinning, which made me laugh again.

She was saying between sobs, "I asked you to help me and you just laughed at me."

I couldn't tell a this point if the other families at the park were staring because they thought it was funny and Alena was overreacting, too, or if they thought I was the worst mother in the world and they were contemplating calling CPS.

Probably the latter, but I'm comfortable with my decisions.
She was literally falling apart.
So angry that she wouldn't look at me.

And maybe that was a GOOD thing for her because I did NOT look good. Multiple days of rain and then a sunny windy day make a perfect allergy storm. I had already sneezed about 400 times - and that's not even an exaggeration - and my eyes now looked somewhat like the Elephant Man from all the allergies and, well, LAUGHING.

To a random onlooker, we were probably both a sight.
We probably both looked like we'd been sitting on the park bench sobbing together. Add my mom bent over trying to catch her breath and Chloe's big swollen red eye and we must have looking like we walked right out of a Normal Rockwell.

The only way I got Alena to smile again was to sit on the bench with her, and tightly bear hug her, while I did the most loud and exaggerated sneezes on her possible.
Open mouthed sneezes.
All the other kids were staring with big wide eyes.
I finally saw a smile. A very short one.

When she was calmed, I called and unsuspecting Justin over to the spin cup and told him to sit in it and try it out.
Oh man. I wish I had gotten a video of THAT one because he almost had the same reaction as Alena.
I think he even tried to kick at me once as he yelled for help.

Later, he and Alena sat on a bench together looking like they'd both throw up.

My mom and I sat on another bench trying not to let them see we were still laughing.

Maybe I AM the meanest mom in the world. But why even HAVE kids if you can't laugh at them sometimes?
There have been TONS of times I've laughed at the kids' misfortune.
I'm just not one of those moms that swoops in every single time there's the slightest issue asking, "Oh, Honey! Are you OK?!"

I think our society is already full of complainers and the overly entitled and sometimes it's just reality that things aren't always perfect.

Sometimes you can't stop spinning.
Life lessons, by Kerri Green.

Alena thinks I just laugh at her, but she's completely forgetting that I laughed at Chloe the other day as she walked right into a glass door while we were all on the other side because she was looking to her left instead of in front of her.

Or the time Phoebe threw up and Tessa stepped right in it with bare feet and came hopping to me with her foot held up because it "had yuckies."

All good for a laugh.

I tried telling Alena that you HAVE to learn to laugh at yourself.
It's CRUCIAL in life.
You have to have a sense of humor or your insides dry out.
Why else would I have posted my own personal tale of thinking the doctor's office urine cabinet was a high tech automatic hand dryer and how I waved my hands under it for a full minute thinking it was broken before I saw the "Place urine samples here" sign?

Maybe it's genetic.
My Aunt Toni is known for laughing if she sees someone get hurt.
My mom still needs to see a counselor for her emotional wounds over Aunt Toni dying laughing as my mom cut her food on some metal and bled all over the basement.
She tells the story often as she stares off into the distance.

I'm not alone, though.
It's the whole reason America's Funniest Home Videos has existed for so long.

Sometimes it's just FUNNY.
I guess I just don't get it.

Maybe I'm too far removed from my pre-teen years to remember the agony.

The same way I don't get how Chloe, upon getting home from the park, cried actual tears when she flushed the potty and the
water didn't refill all the way like it should have.

CRIED.
She said she was scared of it.
What?!
Upon further review, I realized she's been scared of the toilet and flushing issues ever since I read her a children's book we have about a boy who puts too much water in the bathtub and then floats through his town, with his tub as a boat. There's something about fire and a police officer, too, but I don't remember...

I assured her she was not going to set sail in toilet water and told her to stop her fit.

Maybe I am just the meanest mom in the whole world. Maybe I've damaged her for life. I'm quite positive it's something that she'll always hold on to and will bring up one day when she's 25 and in therapy for all the other things I've done to her. Isn't that how we ALL are?
I remember things from my childhood that were probably equally as life altering to me at the time.
Forever changed my course and all that.

Later, after we got home and the girls napped, My mom and I drove to Target.
We rounded the off ramp and my mom said,

"Is it still in your purse?"
"Yep."


I pulled out the camera and we watched it again.
Four times.
I'm sure she'll hate me forever, but MAN that is funny stuff.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Graduate

It's official.
I am the mother of a Jr. higher.

I may look calm and collected, but believe me,
I'm scared.

It really set in when we arrived at Hessel Church for the actual graduation and I laid eyes on all the girls graduating 6th grade.
What had happened to them?
They all looked like Amazons.
Well, awkwardish, giggly, eye-rolling Amazons.
Which was funny because all the BOYS in the class looked like they'd just come from the Shire.



We sat up close for optimal photographic documentation.

That, and I wanted to be sure Greg Dabel, the World's Tallest Man, didn't sit in front of me again this year.

Chloe sat with anticipation at seeing Alena up front and at hearing the songs.
Her hands in her lap. Her eyes sparkling as she recognized other kids.

Tessa - not so much.
Tessa found a hymnal and rifled through the pages. LOUDLY.
Tessa climbed on the backs of the pews like she was on a rock climbing wall.
Tessa pulled her pants legs up to her thighs.
Tessa drew on my skin and cheek with a pencil.
I never thought I'd hear myself say, "We don't draw on Mommy with pencils."



The program began in its usual way.
With the Pleasant Hill Christian School hand bell recital. Gloves and all.
And Yes.
Hand bells still exist in this century.

This particular hand bell recital was even MORE special, however, because it required audience involvement to "imagine" the F sharp.
That particular bell had somehow gone missing;
An event that caused a 5 minute delay and awkward facial exchange between the teacher and the smallest student.
(Who happened to look strikingly like one of the Sister Wives - but that is a whole other story.)

Through the whole recital, Justin kept drawing large imaginary question mark symbols on my back with his finger - Something we do when one of us doesn't understand what on earth is going on and we aren't in a place to vocalize it.
I kept wiggling free and telling him to stop.
That people behind us could see him doing that and "What if that's THEIR child you're question marking about?!"
He question marked the boy in chest high pants.
He question marked the hand bell teacher's homemade music note vest.
He question marked various odd parents.

The graduation followed suit with the standard collection of songs and dances.
If you can call what Jr. highers do singing and dancing.
It's more blushing, looking at their peers and hair flipping.

I was beginning to think the wad of toilet paper I'd grabbed in the bathroom before hand when I couldn't find a box of tissue wasn't going to be necessary.

But then the real stuff started.
PHCS always gives kids awards for academic achievement and for character trait.
This year Alena got an award for reading and for encouragement. I was very proud.

Then the teacher announced that they would now be giving out the President's Award for Academic Excellence - an award that required an A average for the previous 3 years straight.
The award would only be going to two, and those kids were.......
Nathan Flood and ALENA SANTORINEOS!

Whistle.
Scream.
THAT'S MY DAUGHTER!



I pulled out the toilet paper.
Good thing I hadn't lined my lower eyelids.

That was my kid.
I had bred genius!

At least ONE of them was safe, I thought, as I looked over at Tessa who was now trying to eat an offering envelope.

Then when I looked at Chloe she leaned to me and whispered,
"I farted. Can you smell it?"

Oh well.

One at a time.

Next they showed the slide show of pictures spanning from when the kids were in kindergarten to sixth grade.
More tears.
That was my baby up there with her chin length A-line and excited brown eyes.

Justin leaned over to me to whisper, "Are you CRYING?!" and when I looked at him to shoot him a dirty look, I realized he was smiling and crying, too.

So now she passes from child to pre-teen.
From a world of fun and fancy-free to boy drama and frustrations.
If she's anything like me, learning the various rock formations will take backseat to things like if no one commented on her new outfit or making sure every.single.hair. in her bangs is perfectly side swept.

It doesn't matter if her fingers constantly on them make them look like an oil slick - At least they're all to the right.

I just can't believe I'm old enough to have a Jr. higher.

True, I did start earlier than most of my peers, but still - I feel like I'm just NOW getting the hang of the adulthood stuff and even THAT is hit and miss.
I have no earthly clue how I'm supposed to guide a young mind solidly through the mires.

Most of the time the instructions I'm giving were pulled out of you-know-where and I just say them in a way that make me SOUND like I know what I'm talking about.

The lower and firmer the tone, the more you know.

Most of the time I have to google her homework questions.

Basically - It's a crap shoot.

But apparently, my aim is good, because she's turning out rather well.
She is beautiful, helpful, caring, and respectful.

The other two - Well - That remains to be seen.

We'll have to wait to see if Chloe can make it through school without falling apart over every imperfect grade or if, heaven forbid, someone else gets to take the class pet home for the summer. I can just see her lunch sack doubling as an anti-hyperventilation tool.

We'll have to hold our breath and just HOPE Tessa doesn't get expelled for reckless endangerment of other students or graffiti and arson.
How many notes will get sent home?
How many teachers will seek early retirement?

I just know, as I've said before, I'm getting what I deserve, as most all my report cards said something along the lines of:
"Kerri is a very good student, but needs to work harder to stop bothering other students during class time. Likes to talk a little too much."

But what did they know.
They weren't so great.
What kind of REAL teachers suspend a second grader for "witchcraft" because she tells some kids on the playground that she has a secret potion that can make you shrink back at home?
Isn't that just a KID thing?
Pshhh.

In our house mischief equals spirit and spirit equals endless possibility.

So reach for the stars, girls.

We Greens are bred for greatness.

Even if greatness is picking its nose.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

To See or Not To See

It's amazing to me how two children with the exact same parents -
Exact same genetics -
can be so vastly different.

This was already obvious to me with Chloe and Tessa.

Chloe - The princess. Hesitant. Skeptical. Moody.
Tessa - The biker chick. Adventurous. Independent. Comical.

But what has made it the most obvious is something I never would have expected.

Owls.

Right now there is a family of Great Horned Owls nesting in a tree located beside the swimming hole at Spring Lake. It's been newsworthy. In the paper. People are talking.

My friend Wendy told me about it and I thought it would be cool to take the girls to see them.
I pushed past my own personal and possibly irrational fear of birds and thought that it would be good for them to experience nature up close.

Two days ago I announced my plan of owl adventure to them and the reaction I got was completely unexpected.

Chloe's expression went from calm to terrorized in 3 seconds.
Her knuckles were white.
Her skin was clammy.
She pressed her body deep into her chair almost as if she was hoping it would open up and swallow her whole and she would never have to discuss an owl ever again.


"Chloe. What's the matter?"
"I don't want to see those owls."
"Why not?"
"I don't like them. I don't want them to fly out in the air and come by me."


I decided to drop the conversation, until Tessa came screeching into the room shouting,
"I want to thee them! I want to thee those owls! I'll come with Mama!"
and then started for her shoes.

I explained that we were not going right that very SECOND, and she started to cry. She really really wanted to go.
I stifled her with some watermelon.

I thought it was sort of over for the day until five seconds later when Chloe said,
"Mama, when you go see the owls can I stay with Daddy?"
"Mama, I don't want to see owls at night."
"Mama, I don't want to see owls in the morning."
"Mama, Who else will go with you to see the owls?"
"Tessa, you and Mommy are going. I'm staying with Daddy."
"I don't like the owls."


When we left our friend's house later that night, as I buckled her into her car seat she said with sleepy half opened eyes,
"Mama, NOW are you going to see the owls while I stay at home with Daddy?" This was hours and hours after the initial conversation.
Enough with the owls.
I wish I never mentioned it.

That night, before bed, we said her usual prayers with a special request that I pray that no owls would enter her room, or her dreams. That God would miraculously erase all owl awareness from Chloe completely.

To no avail.

She spent the entire night in our bed from 2:30 on because she was having
"owl dreams" and didn't want to stay in her bed.

I couldn't figure out what the problem was until I realized that to a four year old the name Great Horned Owl could actually sound pretty frightening.
Her little mind imagining some 30 foot monster with horns and a sharp beak coming at her in the dark and swooping her up then coughing out her skeleton.

I wouldn't want to go see that either.

Tessa, however, was the exact opposite.

When people would call on the phone, she'd ask to talk and one of the first things she'd mention were the owls she was going to see.

"Hi Auntie Witha. We going to thee owls."

Basically, Chloe wanted to picket for complete eradication of all owls worldwide and Tessa wanted to change her name to Owl Green.
That's how different they are.

I have illustrated this difference.
This is what Chloe thinks when she hears Great Horned Owl:



And this is what Tessa thinks:



I guess it's the same in many families. I just think it's so funny.

My brother and I were no different.
He was smart and sciency, drawing blueprints for inventions on napkins at restaurants and I was doing, well, COOL things.
Fun things.
Things that didn't get me thrown in school trash cans by thugs named Branch.

But really, I wouldn't want them to be the same.
Two Chloe's would be more mood swings than one family could handle.
Two Tessa's and no man would be left standing.

Our differences are what make us unique.
Special.

Today we drove to the Lake.
I got the girls out of the car while Chloe yammered off questions.
"Where are we going?"
"Have we been here before?"
"What's that big hole?"


I told her we were going to look at the lake.
When we got close to the lake, I told her we were going to look at a tree.
When we got by the tree I told her that we were actually CURRENTLY seeing the owls and "See - That's not scary."

I held my breath.

Then she smiled at me and said,

"I wasn't scared. I was just kidding. When can we come back?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bloodhound Retirement

I have figured out that it is a reoccurring theme in my life to be forced to look for something that someone else lost.

Today, It was Justin's wedding band.
This morning he came downstairs with a worried expression saying that he had just realized that after he (and this is where my confusion started)
"let Tessa play with his wedding ring last night"
he never got it back.

I stood there for a second soaking it in.
Trying to work out in my mind why on earth you would give a two year old something that cost $500, is a symbol of your vows, and is also the size of a quarter.
I don't even give her more than 20 raisins at a time because I don't trust what she'll do with them.

I flashed to the Everybody Loves Raymond where Ray loses his ring in a motel room because he took it off to spin it. Yeah. Spin it.
But I don't want to be Deborah, so I told him we'd find it, that it couldn't have gone far, etc. and promised to help.

He was clearly frazzled.
A fact that was not aided any by him following this confession of loss with an attempt to make a smoothie and having the blender blink "error" repeatedly after one pulse.
He unplugged it. Plugged it back in. Unplugged it. Plugged it back in.
He then pushed 18 buttons at once like a crazy person and then
he gave up and decided to drink it half blended with big chunks of ice still in it. This is when he found that he had forgotten to add the protein powder.
Gag.
It was just milk, ice, bananas and a glob of half mixed peanut butter.
Justin doesn't do well with things like this.
This "ring/smoothie incident" could possess the power to ruin his entire day, which would then ruin MY entire day.

He was storming around the kitchen randomly opening drawers for no reason, and when he gets like that I take it upon myself to bear the burden of coming to the rescue.
I tie on my cape, put all half smoothies in airtight containers and freeze them, and then I make it my mission to find the ring and save the day like Wonder Wife.

I searched all morning to no avail. I mean SEARCHED.

I then got the brilliant idea to just ask Tessa.
This would have been genius if she were three or four, but she's two and asking a two year old to remember that a booger is not a suitable snack is next to impossible, so asking them to remember the occurrences of the previous day is a fool's game.

"Tessa, do you remember when you had Daddy's ring yesterday?"
"Yeth."
"Where did you take Daddy's ring? We really need it back."

Then she shrugged.

"Did you put it somewhere?"
"I put it on Phoebe's eye." Phoebe is our dog.
"No. That's not it. Where did you set it?"
"I put it under my bed."

This sent me on a wild goose chaise because she had, in fact, NOT put it under her bed at all.
I only found that out after practically turning the crib on its end and shaking it with the strength of the Incredible Hulk.
Wow. I'm strong when I'm on a mission.

"Tessa, It's not under your bed. Can you remember where you put Daddy's ring?"
"It's ..........around."

And then she stuck her finger in her nose, asked for grape juice, and walked away.

As I scoured mixing bowls and dog dishes and crawled on my knees through the entire downstairs looking at toddler level while I prayed that no one was looking into my house through the outside, I thought again about why you would give a toddler a wedding band.

But then I moved on.

I checked the couch cushions. Something that I will never do again without proper hand protection.

It's like a sheep dog did a science experiment in there.

On the up side I DID find the other Snow White figurine that has been the cause for many a battle and now the girls can stop fighting over the one we DID have. I hope.
I felt along blindly.
Is that it? No. That's a bobby pin. Is that it? No. That's some popcorn kernels.
Is that it? No. That's a....um...a....what IS that?!

I had just gone through this a couple months before when my mom took off her watch to wash the dishes and then couldn't find it after that.
We looked everywhere and my mom was on repeat with the same phrase over and over daily said in a wistful voice while she gazed off into the distance.
"What do you think became of my watch?........"
Daily.
Same phrasing.
I was so glad when we could put that behind us.

REALLY glad we found it.
Or, Chloe did, actually, in the entertainment cabinet with the Wii remotes.
Where all watches should go.
I'm sure Tessa was responsible for that one, too.
That, or we need to have my mom tested for Alzheimer's....

And Alena is also CONSTANTLY losing stuff.
Her issue is more because she has mounds of stuff everywhere like a hoarder and it IS kind of hard to find a small hoop earring in piles of paper and silly bands and happy meal toys from 6 years ago.
I'm forever hearing, "Mama, have you seen my __________________." To which I reply,
"Have you checked the bottom of your level 5 hoard?"

My search help even goes back to childhood when it was a regular almost weekly event for my dad to misplace his checkbook.
The whole family would have to drop everything they were doing because undoubtedly he had an appointment somewhere in 5 minutes, stop and look for it like some sad Easter egg hunt where all you get are some grass allergy welts from wading around the field in chest-high grass looking for a wallet that MAY have been dropped while on a horse-back ride.
Only to find it after you give up and it's getting dark somewhere in the house.

I just don't personally lose things very often.
I have a place for things and that's where I put them.

This afternoon we still hadn't found the ring.
I looked through my jewelry box for a makeshift one for now for him to wear for when he goes to the gym.
I like him to have a "hands off" symbol, at least, even if I have to draw one on with Sharpie.
I've seen the way some of those girls at the gym parade about.
I don't trust anyone who comes in full makeup and leaves with it still in tact.
I'll take them out ninja style.
Anyone who knows me knows this is truth.

I didn't find one, though.
I didn't think he'd want to wear one made of abalone shells or a 3 inch turquoise stone.
That might be hands off for the girls but you never know what that might do for some of the MEN there....
Justin has been known to attract his fair share.

I got the kids down for their nap and I resumed my looking. Driving myself CRAZY trying to find it, all the while getting more and more upset that he'd given it to her in the first place.
Meanwhile he slept on the couch as I broke into a sweat scouring, dumping, sorting through bins and bins of tiny plastic toys and figurines.

Both of our mouths were open.
Mine because I was panting,
his because - well - that's how he sleeps.

WHERE COULD IT BE?!

The doorbell rang. A daycare mom to pick up her child.
I let her in and then he appeared with sleepy glazed eyes holding up - HIS RING!

Wait. What?
I had looked everywhere.

"Where on EARTH did you find it?!"
"When I woke up from my nap and stood up, I stepped on it."

Standard.

Standard of me to spend almost my entire day looking for that thing making myself crazy over it while he practically finds it in his sleep.
The next time that ring leaves his finger his flesh better have decayed to just bone.

I am glad he found it, but I have also penned a poem:



Here is a compass.
Here is a map.
Mama's done looking.
Find your own crap.

I crawl my knees bloody while you lay there sleeping
all because you lost something and started moaning and weeping.

I felt bad for you and made your pain my own.
You counted sheep.
I went into "The Zone."

Dumping and rifling, I made myself dizzy
while you didn't even TRY to remotely look busy.

I was just short of descending from the chimney covered in soot
then you just stood up and it stuck to your foot?!

I'm over.
I'm done.
Put things where they go.
Because then when you need them, their location - You'll know!

It's a novel idea. I'm glad your ring's found.
But it's retirement time for Mama Bloodhound.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Appropriate Way to Pet a Chicken


Oh good. I have a few minutes.

The kids are laying around the livingroom rug in a pre-diabetic coma from all the sugar over the weekend, and I realize that's at least good for something.

Yesterday was Easter.
The weekend was full of fun and fatigue.

It kicked off Saturday with the church's annual Easter egg hunt.
Every year it's the same with us bustling around the house in a frenzy, hoarfing down scrambled eggs and combing the girls' hair while walking out to the garage in order to get there on time.
It always starts at 10:00, and anyone who knows my family knows that us getting anywhere earlier than 11:00 might as well be getting there at 5 a.m.
Nearly impossible.
We rushed to get there as it started, only to have the entire thing be basically over in 3 minutes.

I think they make the eggs too visible.

There's not much "hunt" involved when there's a 10 egg maximum and you basically step on and crush 6 upon opening the door to the room.

I could find 10 if I was blindfolded.

Parents everywhere can be spotted slyly taking the eggs their toddlers find and re-destributing them around the room so the kids don't go over the limit.

I guess it IS easier to just fling eggs willie nillie than to actually HIDE them anywhere...

It always seems like the kids don't even care that much about finding the eggs anyway. In my experience it's the parents saying, "Look up here! What is this?! Can you see it? Get it! Get it!" while the kid eats plastic grass or cries because they're overstimulated.

At the end of the egg hunt there's always a pen of some sort of animal, be it chicken or duck or bunny.

That's always a favorite.

There's always a brief discussion with our girls about what is and is not the appropriate way to pet said animal.
Tessa has been pulled aside for refresher courses every year so far.

Because chickens' eyes aren't supposed to do that when you touch their heads.

The girls seemed bored through the actual hunt. They put up with the picture taking by the giant carrots and trees with dangly eggs.
But once they caught sight of the bounce house and craft table they ran to get through, taking out several poofy dressed toddlers.

Big burly Joe sat at the exit like a bouncer waiting to count the eggs and remove any extras that were trying to be smuggled.

Of course Tessa had too many.
When he took her 11th egg, I saw a look pass that I thought nothing of, really, until later when I couldn't find her and realized what she'd been thinking.
Where was she?...........

Then I caught of glimpse of her yellow dress.....

from under Joe's chair.

That little sneak had formed a plan in 2 minutes that belonged in a spy movie.

No one had seen her slip under his chair.
No one was really watching as she grabbed the eggs he discarded before they even landed, opened them like a Capuchen, ate the candy out, then replaced the eggs into the basket.
Sneaky, yet BRILLIANT.

She'll show THEM an egg limit.

And I guess it makes me a bad parent that that kind of action, rather than send me over to scold, only made me smile.
I have to feel SOMEWHAT happy to know that should the world be one day, as my reoccurring dreams make me fear, be taken over by a zombie envasion, my children will have skills to survive.
Nothing if not resourceful.
My little Mini-Me.

I did feel bad, though, when my friend Brian came over to his wife Katie and requested she discipline their daughter because
"she's been grabbing the discarded eggs and eating the candy out."

Tessa had created a prodigy.

I apologized and told them not to go too hard on her. That it was Tessa that had taught her.
Brian just said, "I know." and walked away.

And it is just an approximation, but I would have to guess that Tessa ate about 14 pounds of candy that day.
Again, Bad parent.
FUN parent, but also somewhat questionable on that day.

That sum total was second only to what would be the sum total of the NEXT day.

They bounced, they made crafts, they ate hardboiled eggs in between chocolate ones.

A thought that makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

And while they did that, Alena sat on the stairs to the stage with her head in her hands and made that face.
That pre-teen one.
I knew without asking she was feeling depressed about the fact that she was deemed too old to hunt eggs this year by the youth leaders.
Too old for 10 eggs.
As if she needed the candy with the bucket o' Nutella she eats nightly...

And, we had guests this weekend.
They showed up Saturday afternoon after the egg hunt as the sugar highs faded and craziness ensued. Perfect timing.
Welcome to our home.
Please don't call the authorities.

They are college students from my mom's choir in Oakland.
They came all fresh faced with their texty thumbs and cute clothes.

I felt like I had friends over and tried not to ingest a bottle of pills when I realized, no, I was actually 10-15 years older than they were and in some countries I could be their mother.
A fact that I later bemoaned to Lisa about over the phone.

They were the best kind of guests, too.
Clean, quiet, helpful.

The girls' pupils were the shapes of hearts all weekend.
Well, the little girls over THEM, and Alena's over their i-phones.
She said that's what she decided she wanted for her birthday.
I told her she'd better also ask for a JOB for her birthday, too, then, because
until Mama has more than a $70 pay-as-you-go phone, Alena will not have a phone capable of being one's life partner.

I was just surprised we didn't scare the girls off.

They may never want children after that.
I'm sure they were a bit surprised at the game of Run Around Buck Naked that the girls played before bath time.
The scary part was it wasn't a special show for the guests, it is just a thing we do.
Every bath night.
1) Take off clothes
2) Run in circles naked
3) Bath
4) Bed

Too bad they didn't also get to witness the new favorite game of
Step on Eachother.
We actually could have played that as a group.

They were also brave guests, as they are from Georgia and are die hard Braves fans.

They just happened to be here the weekend the Braves had a series against the Giants and ended up completely sweeping the Giants.
They knew to keep their mouths shut as Justin dove into depression and cried into his ham.
I almost expected him to bring out his grass skirt and cannibal pot to make Georgian Soup, but he was on good behavior.

Easter morning was hectic as well with a repeat of the previous morning.
All that extra hair curling and pinning.
Dusting off the iron and remembering how to turn it on. It probably hadn't been used since last Easter.
Yet another plus of yoga pants and layered tank tops. No ironing necessary.

Posing the girls for a picture where they're all three looking at the camera takes a good 20 minutes in itself and I have even then given up having one where Tessa is doing a normal smile.






I was surprised we got to church on time.
Actually, I always am when it happens.

The service was great.
As was the baby holding and the chatting with friends that feel like family.

We took pictures at church. Justin got razzed about his purple shirt.

And then I proved my theory about tights having the same life cycle as a fly as Chloe ripped holes in the knee of hers when she biffed it chasing bubbles and Tessa came around the corner looking like she'd changed the oil in the van in hers

(It's still a mystery what happened there.)

We had a great lunch that included my famed creamy polenta with mushrooms and mascarpone cheese. My brother called me "Rude" on the phone for making it at a holiday where he wasn't here.
Even the Georgians ate it. I was afraid they'd think I desacrated their beloved grits with the addition of Californian hippie food.

We hid eggs in the front yard and laughed as Tessa repeatedly dropped them on the concrete until they were completely smashed and the air was wafting of boiled egg.
I told Justin his egg salad was going to be full of grass and snails. He gagged with flashbacks of the year he ate 4 giant egg salad sandwiches in a row and swore off egg salad forever while he did those weird puffs of exhaled air he does when he's too full.

We found out Chloe doesn't like the smell, I guess, as we brought out the eggs and she kept saying, "EW! Phoebe!" because she thought the dog had bad gas. Again.

All in all. Great weekend. And now we're back to the daily routine with the addition of telling Tessa she actually can NOT have chocolate with her breakfast.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

No burrito for you. One year.

I get it now.

I must have been doing it all wrong.
All this time I've thought that being completely incapacitated by illness was enough to maybe buy me 2 hours of rest, but I now know it takes a virus AND a bacterial infection to get your point across.

I have been SO sick.

So sick that I had to call my mom, in Oakland, Friday morning at 6:20 and beg her to take the day off of work and come home early to just help me SURVIVE.

I was envisioning being beckoned to pour bowls of Lucky Charms as I sat on the bathroom floor throwing up into the toilet. Tiny hands shoving sippie cups into my clammy hands asking for grape juice.

Of course she came.
She always does. Mamas are good for that.

The sickness started Thursday afternoon with a general feeling of blah, and went full blown by that evening as I sat drinking my Weight Watcher smoothie - Something I'm now afraid to ever drink again.

I was up all night.

I will spare you the details.
Let's just say that I sent the bathroom floor a friend request and it hit "accept."

Justin, Master of Sleep that he is, slept through the whole thing without moving, and when his alarm went off, he rolled over and stared at me with his annoyingly well-rested eyes and said,
"Are you OK?!"

Uh.
No.
I've been fighting back death all night.
I'm surprised you didn't hear the Grim Reaper tap tap tapping his scythe on the tile.
Didn't you feel the bed move every 15 minutes as I got out and then in and then out again?

No. I've definitely been better.

Justin was getting up that morning to go have his first orthodontist appointment.
He's getting braces finally.
Something he's wanted all his life. He was excited and springy. He wondered where his singing woodland animals were.
I wondered why he couldn't have showered in the dark and oh gosh - I couldn't handle the smell of his body wash.
I was willing him to leave faster with my mind powers.

He did leave, and thank goodness my mom showed up just in time as the girls were waking up.

I could hear them starting to stir in their beds through the baby monitor and I froze in fear of having to even TRY to lift my fevered head off the pillow.

Mom saved the day with ginger ale and toast.
(which Tessa and Chloe took turns licking before I got to)

The whole day passed in clips.

I remember Tessa carrying off the two liter ginger ale bottle like an ant at a picnic.
I remember telling her, "No. That's Daddy's toothbrush."
I remember Chloe coming in and asking for band aids and saying something about Tessa's knee while she pointed to her elbow.
I remember that the chiropractor called saying I'd missed my appointment.
I remember feeling worried when I saw Tessa eyeing the thermometer like she was forming some sort of plan.

Then I remember Justin calling and responding, "Are you OK?" when I answered in a weak voice.

Again. No. Remember the Reaper?

What is it with men and their inability to call into reference all the man colds and splinters and boo boos they've had at times when they're wondering why on earth a 102 fever means you don't feel like you can cook dinner?

I mean, do you even WANT someone cooking your dinner who's had their hands on, or within 2 inches of a toilet for the last 12 hours? Aren't places shut down for that?

Seriously, Regis Philbin could have been standing in my bedroom holding out a check for a million dollars yesterday and I wouldn't have had the strength to stand up and grab it.

I got myself into the doctor's office, though, to have her tell me that not only did I have the flu, but I had a UTI and, oh yeah, they wanted to get me in for an abdominal CT scan this week to rule out appendicitis.


Don't be jealous.

I rested the rest of the night -
Well - Rested and watched the Celebrity Apprentice I've had saved on the DVR where Meatloaf just about rips Gary Busey's head off.
Something worth prying my eyelids open for, let me tell you.

Gary Busey's ramblings were like medicine to me.

This morning, however, I learned that one single day is the allotted time for a mother to get over two sicknesses.

Which makes sense, I guess, since a HALF day is what you get if you have just one.

Motherhood Math.

The girls woke up and started screaming that so and so was in their bed or so and so scratched them with a leapster game and crazy ME, I just assumed that since everyone had been informed of my diagnosis, I'd be given a pass on being the peacemaker and the breakfast maker.

No.

Apparently all that sleeping the night before had made Justin, well,
tired -
or something.
He didn't even hear the girls.
Or he was ignoring it and pretending to sleep.....Reverting back to the days when they were newborns, and needed midnight feedings, I guess.

Finally I got up and dragged my stiff, achy body in there with a walk that looked like I'd just finished a three day trail ride on a horse made of roofing nails.

I changed a poopy diaper.
I answered enough preschooler questions to make up for the ones I'd missed the day before.

Then I went back into our room and threw open the shades on Justin before I layed back down in the bed.

He got up for work and went into the bathroom to shower.
In my mind he clicked his heels together, but that's probably just my imagination.

"Hey, Ker? Could you pack me a burrito for lunch?"

Surely, this question was a viral hallucination.

"What?"

"Can you pack a burrito or something for me to take for lunch?"

I wanted to tell him that the only thing he'd have packed was ice on his swollen black eye, but I didn't.

I packed the stupid burrito.

But on TOP of that burrito,
with my pale, shaky hands, I placed a napkin.
And on that napkin I drew a picture of me sticking my stomach virus infected tongue out at him.

Was this action the type of action that would be given the thumbs up by a marriage counselor or pastor? No. But sometimes you just have to go for it. Let your croaky self be heard in some small way.

Hope he enjoys his lunch, because there probably won't be any dinner again tonight.