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....


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.


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......


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.


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.


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.
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.

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.
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.
"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.

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.

She said she was scared of it.
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?"

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.......


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 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?

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.