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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Scale. You’re going down!

I stared it down, but it remained standoffish. It just sat there waiting for me to make the first move. It was ready. I was not. For two weeks, I had trained for this day. Eating better, exercising more, mentally preparing for this moment. I took a deep breath in.

I could do it. One foot at a time. Go on. Go on. Big exhale. Okay, time to man up and step up.

Da da dummmmmm!

Da da dummmmmm!

It’s going to be good. Open your eyes. Look. You have to look! Now!

You’re kidding me.

No Freaking Way!

Two weeks of extra effort. Two weeks of making conscientious food choices over my usual conscientious food choices and what do I get?? Two pounds up. UP! I was trying to lose a few pounds and have actually gained two! I am going to lose my shit!

Wait, if I lost my shit, maybe I’d lose a few pounds. That’s one way to go. Ha. Go. Get it? Go. Double funny.

But really, none of this is funny.

I was about three or four pounds up to begin with. What used to be my heavy weight had sat its fat ass down and refused to budge, thus becoming my new average weight. In the beginning, I fought for my old weight like it was the last tub of ice cream in the freezer aisle – okay, not the best analogy – but, really, I worked out more, ate less ice cream, the whole bit. Still, no matter what I did, nothing changed.

After a while, I kind of got used to it. With all the other stuff going on in my life, something had to give a little, and it was the number on the scale. Even though, I was secretly waiting for it to magically disappear like it used to, I did my best to accept. That was until my husband booked us on a trip to St. Thomas with some friends at the end of August.

Sounds fabulous, right? Did I mention all the women going are thin? Yeah. I’m embarrassed to admit I considered bailing on that alone. Apparently, I’m that superficial. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to feel comfortable with my body, and I can tell you the exact times and places where I succeeded. Hawaii, 2000. Costa Rica, 2001.

People might say, I net out on the thinner side, and that may be true, but I don’t see it. I don’t want to tell you what I see, but it has kept me from basically wearing a bathing suit for years. It helps that I don’t like the pool or the beach, and with sun tanning out of favor, well, it’s a good cover for my cover-up.

It might be that I’m over 40 and despite my inhuman mother, my metabolism ain’t what it used to be. But I’m not throwing in the towel. No. I’m going to keep at it. At least till the trip. What else can I do? Except, maybe just lighten up.

Ah, if only.

Isn’t it romantic…

7am. Cat is crying loudly for food, husband can’t find son’s baseball chest guard. Hello, morning.

8am. Finishing laundry, making breakfast and organizing our clothes for later. My husband and oldest son are already at the baseball fields.

8:20am. I’m pestering my middle son who doesn’t eat to eat something, while trying to get my youngest son dressed as he twists and turns in circles to see if I can ‘win’ the getting him dressed game. I blow a puff of hair that escaped the pony tail out of my face and focus. Aha! Got a leg in! But then, the pancake I tried to gently force into middle son’s mouth, winds up on the floor. You win some, you lose some. In between, I’m throwing some last minute items into our overnight bags that are set by the door. After we come back from baseball, we’re outta here.

8:40am. Ready to leave the house.

8:53am. Actually leave the house.

9:02am. Arrive at the local field, just in time to miss my son’s first inning pitching. Apparently 8:50am is the new 9am.

11am. Back at the house, collecting the overnight bags, washing up, grabbing some car snacks and heading right out the door.

Noon. Actually head out the door.

Noon – 2:30pm. “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

230pm. We arrive upstate. My three boys jump from the mini-van and head straight for the bungalow, where the grandparents and salamanders play. Also, present are my two nephews and niece. My sister and brother-in-law had dropped them off the day before for grandma and grandpa to babysit for the weekend because they wanted some alone time for their 10-year anniversary.

Anniversary… hmmm… that reminds me of something. What is it? Oh yeah, it’s my anniversary too. We’ve been married 16 years. Yes, same day.

4pm. With the initial bungalow gorging complete, my husband, three kids, two nephews, niece and I roll on over to the local pond to catch frogs. Baseball, long car ride with kids, frogs… could this day be any more fun?

“Why aren’t you guys doing anything special for your anniversary like my mom and dad?” My nephew asks.

“F*%! if I know,” I’m about to say, but before I do, my husband pipes in, “What do you mean? We’re with you guys. That’s special.”

Damn. That was a way more appropriate answer than mine.

someone's going in...

Someone’s going in…

4:10pm. My youngest has fallen into the muddy pond.

Yeah. It's me.

Yeah. It’s me.

4:45pm. We have a bucket full of fully formed, half formed and deformed frogs. Looking at the majority of one-legged/one-eyed deviants, you have to wonder if there’s a joint up here selling frog legs, an audition for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or if this pond somehow connects to Three Mile Island.

frogs

Don’t look too closely…

Regardless, we also have six giddy, muddy and gross children. I am just grossed out.

5:30pm. After some drama and a few frogs in danger of losing their only mode of jumping to children more jumpy than them, we successfully released the poor creatures back into their, uh, natural habitat.

Look out below!!

Look out below!!

7pm. My hubby and I go to our Anniversary dinner. The children are left in the care of grandparents. Ha. Good luck grandparents.

9pm. Anniversary dinner over. Back to the beasts.

10pm. Squashed in a twin bed with my five year-old, I am listening to my husband snore, comfortably alone in the bed across from us. I am not thinking warm anniversary thoughts.

10:30pm. My 8 year-old steals me away into his bigger bed. I’m not sad to leave snoring husband and five year-old who one moment throws his arm across my face and the next has flipped and kicked me in the stomach.

Luckily, 10 year-old is fast asleep on the floor, or that would have been the next stop.

11pm. Sleeping. Visions of one-legged frogs dancing in my head.

Well, there was dancing… and green is my favorite color. He knows me so well. Sigh.

beelee

I Scream for Ice Cream

I’m sitting on the couch in a sweatshirt and sweatpants shivering. “It’s so cold in here,” I complain to my husband. “Can you turn off the air?”

Husband, sporting shorts and a tee shirt, plops himself down on the couch. “It’s summer.”

“Not in here it’s not.” I pout.

“If you’re so cold, maybe you shouldn’t be eating ice cream.”

Really? Logic? Is that what you’re going with?

I almost stop mid spoon to roll my eyes. Almost. Any retort must wait until the Edy’s slow-churned rocky road with chocolate sprinkles melts down my throat. Ohh. That’s good.

He knows that for me, ice cream isn’t just a nightly treat. My attachment – attachment sounds so much saner than addiction or obsession – goes much deeper than that.

When I’m sad or stressed, ice cream comforts me. When it’s time to celebrate, it’s a party in my bowl, with happy sprinkles, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. Every day I find it emotionally soothing, a reward, a gift, but I’m also physically drawn to it.

I want it. I crave it. I must have it. I swap meals for it. I dream about it. I plan my day around it. I bribe my kids to go with me to score a pint. Watching vanilla and chocolate soft serve slowly swirl into a cone leaves me dreamy and relaxed. I carry cones in the side compartment of my car, and my own “mix” of toppings in my bag. I may or may not have picked a lost scoop up off the floor and eaten it. You have no proof.

What? Doesn't everyone carry their own container of sprinkles?

What? Doesn’t everyone carry their own container of sprinkles?

I think it’s genetic. My brother is a great consumer of ice cream. When handed a bowl of titanic proportions, he can be seen raising a mischievous brow and saying with a sarcastic lilt, “This all you got?” My father, basically lives on ice cream and cheesecake, and just might be the most unhealthy person still living.  My cousin, and soul sister, once told me that unless she has to sop up fallen ice cream and squeeze it into her mouth via sponge, she will eat it. And the late great, grand dame of the family, never concluded a meal without dramatically licking her lips before a bowl of chocolate ice cream.

Was there really any hope for me?

So when my husband rises from the couch to go to the kitchen for his own snack, I hand him my empty cup. “Could you get me a refill?” I ask. “And hand me that blanket.”

He rolls his eyes and pulls a sprinkle out of my hair.

Okay, I admit it. I have a little problem.

I’m cold. I’d like to lose five pounds. I’ve probably already had enough… For an elephant. But I can’t help myself. I love it.

Hello, I am Ice Scream Mama. And I am an Ice cream-aholic.

Please don’t send help.

love

love

 

I’ll be right here waiting

“Tyler. Come on, it’s time to get up.”

I gently shake my ten year-old. His strong, tan body is twisted in blankets, little stuffed animals cradled around his head.

“Wait,” comes his sleepy, muffled response, and I may or may not drop shorts and a tee-shirt on his head before giving up and walking, in a weird side step around his massive maze of cars, army men and dragons, from his room.

“Tyler,” I yell from downstairs. “Breakfast is on the table.”

“Wait.” He calls back. “I’m finishing my set-up.”

“Camp doesn’t care if you’re finishing a set-up. We’ve got to go.”

A small, distant, “wait” floats down to me. It is almost lost in the morning noise; a 5 year-old bouncing at my legs begging me to color for him, a Facetime conversation that my 8 year-old is having with a girl friend he’s had since he was two, the ding of the toaster, the beloved pour and sputter of the Keurig.

At the table, spooning in some, uh, organic Reese’s Puffs, I again encourage him to hurry, but he is busy with the comics and ignores me. “Read this!” He says, pointing to Zits. “It’s funny.”

Then he points to The Lockhorns. “I don’t get it.”

Amusing. He’s already identifying with the teenager comic and totally doesn’t get Loretta thinking her husband is more of a meatball than her meatball.

“Tyler, get your sneakers on. I told you twice already.”

“Wait.” He says off-handedly, heading toward his laptop. “I just need two minutes on this game.”

“Tyler…” I warn thru gritted teeth.

“Wait.” He says again, almost pleadingly. His eyes dart from me to the screen. “One more minute.”

Seconds from me slamming the screen shut, he triumphantly does a last tick on the keyboard and closes it down. “Done!” He beams.

It’s hard not to beam back at that face, but somehow I manage a small growl.

Finally, everyone has what they need, and has done what they have to. “Okay, ready.” I shout to the air, because no way anyone is listening. Miraculously, my two younger boys head for the door and walk directly into the screen that they are asked not to run into, every day.

My oldest has disappeared. I find him back at the computer.

“You’re kidding me, right?”

He opens his mouth, but before he can say anything I beat him to it. “If you tell me to wait, I might lose it.”

He smiles, nods mischievously, and says in his playful, patronizing voice, “Oh don’t worry, little mommy. I won’t say that bad word. It’s all good. See?” With exaggerated slowness, he shuts the laptop screen. “All ready.”

“Uh, baby, your sneakers aren’t on.”

Again, that sweet, goofy smile.

In a few days, my beautiful 10 year-old will be 11. Soon, he will be running out of the house, instead of me pushing him.

Suddenly, I’m not in such a rush.

“Wait!” I want to cry. “Wait.”

Hey mama, i'm waiting for you.

Hey mama, what’s taking you so long?

Why I won’t put my screaming child on the bus to camp.

Day one…

Although my 5  year-old had been less than enthusiastic about the start of camp, I pumped it up to sound like each day was nothing more than playing with puppies under rainbows while eating ice cream. Hell, a unicorn might just frolic by.

I can’t say he was sold, but by the first day, he was uncertain enough that when the bus pulled up and the doors opened, my child, momentarily flustered, just stepped on. It was only once he went to sit down that he actually realized what was happening. He was on a bus. Going to camp. That’s when the screaming began.

And the kicking.

And howling.

Before I could even start the bribery, my hysterical, snot covered son ran from the bus and cowered behind a bush on our lawn.

Day two…

After another failed attempt on the bus, I drove him to camp. Of course the entire way, he expressed how much he didn’t want to go. I told him that he needed to try it, before he could tell me he didn’t like it. Seemed logical to me.

Apparently, he didn’t care a lick for logic because when I tried to leave, he clung to me like a monkey with the claws of lion.  I bribed. I reasoned. I begged. I talked nice. I talked mean. I talked in circles for an hour, until finally I told the counselor to just take him.

She tore him from me. My heart ripped as well, as I walked away crying to the sounds of his screams.

At the end of the day, when I picked him up, I asked if he had a good time. He evaded me a bit, finally shrugged and said,“It was okay.” Almost immediately, hope lit his face and he asked, “Did I do good enough to take tomorrow off?”

Sigh.

Day three…

Repeat of day two.

Day four…

I try a different tactic. Maybe camp is too long. Maybe he needs a shorter day. Maybe he needs to feel some control. So together, we look at the schedule and decide that he’ll take the morning off and then after lunch I’ll drive him over. If he can walk in without freaking out like a rabid, trapped animal, I’d let him do this any number of days of the week. Seriously, I just wanted to see him separate without trauma for us both. He needed to do it for himself. And for me.

We had a lovely morning, drawing and playing. Then, after lunch at Dunkin Donuts, we drove over. I was feeling optimistic. Even if he went to camp just afternoons and I ditched the bus and drove – even though my middle son was getting on it every day – I was willing to do that for an easy transition. Oh, what I wouldn’t do for an easy transition!

As we pulled up I heard his low mutterings. “I don’t wanna go.”

I grit my teeth and sang. “You’re going baby. And you’re not going to cry. Right?”

No response.

Uh oh.

By the time we got in, it was clear that any deal that was made beforehand was now null and void. He immediately backed away from the camp director and rooted himself to me with both arms and legs.

I had been duped.

Again we negotiated. Again we talked sternly. Again we bribed. And again my child screamed bloody murder and refused. The director looked at my wild-eyed beast and said, “I’m not going to physically take him again. I don’t think I can do it again.”

My child sensing victory, started slowly scooting on the floor backwards toward the exit door.

The director, obviously over me and my difficult child, dismissed us with, “I really think you need to just put him in the bus in the morning. We’ll take care of him from there.”

My child bolted for the door.

The whole ride home, with my giddy, chatty child, I thought about what the director and camp instructors said. What some of my friends and family said. Had actually been saying since the beginning. Get his little ass on that bus, no matter what.

They say it so strongly and convincingly, as if there’s nothing more normal or acceptable than to strap your child against his will and then wave him off like some Stepford mom for a fun day at camp.

Is it me or does this go against the object of camp, which is for you to pay too much money for your kids to go happily and willingly and spend the day having so much fun they can’t wait to go back. That they actually like it because… they like it.

Going through all this stress to get my kid to camp to have fun seems contrary to the point.  I know what people say, they’ve got to get used to it. But really, I don’t completely get that. If they’re having fun, what’s to get used to? Maybe they’re not having so much fun if they’re dying to stay home. I can assure you, accompanying me to the supermarket should not trump swimming and playing sports.

Or maybe, five is not ten, or even seven. It’s five, and at five years-old, some kids are not prepared for a day of activity with strangers away from home. Many kids love it. Many more, just have those personalities that willingly accept their situations and make the most of it. You know, when faced with no choice, most will naturally assimilate. But some, well some, are mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore. Like my son.

I keep wondering if all the people telling me to just get him on that bus, screaming or not, would put their own kid on. Would watch them scream and flail with a look a terror and betrayal in their eyes. I know my old pediatrician would. She’s the one who recommended ferberizing to the point of vomiting. “That was how I did it with my kid.” She almost bragged. “I just stripped the sheet and left him. They have to learn.”

What exactly are they learning? That they’re on their own? That they need to get this independence thing? They tell me, I can’t let him manipulate me. He must go to camp. And while I’m sure there are control issues here as well as separation, I really don’t think of it as manipulation. I think he really doesn’t want to go. That if I force him, eventually he’ll suck it up, and probably in spite of himself, have some fun, because he has no other choice.

But is that really what camp is supposed to be?

Not if you ask me. Because if my kid isn’t happy going to camp, then I’m not happy sending him.

happy camper

Happy camper

Unhappy camper

Unhappy camper

 

There’s no crying in baseball!

I know a thing or two about being a Golf Widow. My mom, for example, is a seasoned pro, for many years, giving up countless weekends to the cause. With a house upstate that her husband frequents, she is regularly left to her own devices from Thursday thru Monday, April thru November. Yeah, it’s like that.

Of course, it has its advantages. My mom is an independent creature who loves her routine. She’s perfectly content with her alone time, but there are some weekends where I know she would enjoy a Saturday night date, or having a partner to grandparent with, or simply appreciate being placed above a small ball and a little hole.

Many years back, my husband was almost lured into the golfing cult by a persuasive friend named Big Big. My husband, not as big as Big Big, was simply referred to as Big. Weren’t they cute? So Big and Big Big would sneak off in the wee morning hours, sometimes driving well over an hour to get in a round.

As it turned out, they never truly got beyond the golf honeymoon stage. Children entered the picture and then Big Big and his little wife moved to wealthy suburbia where he commuted from NY to Toronto for his big job.

But I do understand Golf widowhood and at the time felt lucky to have avoided it, until I realized what was in store for me would be much more life altering and all-encompassing .

I am a Little League Baseball Widow.

I should have seen it coming. My husband was captain of his college baseball team, a lifelong baseball fan and now is the father of three littler leaguers, I mean, boys. All that pent up baseball energy, harnessed for all those years working in the real world, has finally been released in the form of a highly regarded, extremely vested, little league coach.

You don’t hear about LLBW’s often, maybe because technically we’re not always left alone. A LLBW is, by the circumstance of being Mom, drawn in to support and help. She’s in it, whether she wants to or not.

So I guess it’s more like being a Little League Baseball Sacrifice. Yeah, that’s exactly it.

Not sure you’re a Baseball Sacrifice? Let’s find out.

1. When your husband asks you for a cup, do immediately head to the underwear drawer?

2. Is your floor littered with all sorts of baseball paraphernalia – gloves, bats, balls, bags, cleats, etc? Kind of like this…?

Actual hallway

Actual hallway

3. Does a night out with your husband somehow wind up near stores like “Dicks” or “Sports Authority”?

4. Does your husband’s nightly routine include watching baseball, while talking baseball, while checking stats/writing emails about baseball?

5. Do you spend more than 3 days a week driving to games or practices?

6. Is your house referred to as the one where the dad is always on the lawn throwing balls to his kids? Even at night. In winter. Or rain?

7. Do you have five or more of these items on your lawn – pitchbacks, hitting tees, bases, bucket of balls, swing corrector, bats, helmets?

8. Do you spend endless time sifting through laundry for the UnderArmor and uniforms that need to be hung dry?

9. Do you respond to every attempt for plans with, “I’ll have to check the baseball schedule.”

10. Can you get out of your house in under 10, with a cooler, distractions for your other kids, lawn chair and a fully uniformed player equipped with baseball bag, the right cleats and water bottle?

If you’ve answered yes to 3 or more, you may be a Baseball Sacrifice. If you answered yes to 5 or more, you probably are, and if you’re like me and answer yes to all of them, well, I wish I could tell you greener grass was ahead.

But it’s only AstroTurf .

baseball rainbow

 

 

Jumping in… one toe at a time

It was like the queen coming to tea, or somewhat more relevant to this generation, like New Direction visiting all girls school. There was cheering, wild waving and gap-toothed grins. Unbelievably, Mommy had entered the pool.

It was 90 degrees on July 4th, and we were pool squatting at a friend’s, meaning, they were on vacation and we were, uh, making sure the pool was okay. It was just us and their oasis of a yard.

pool

My kids quickly jumped in and started thrashing around like just caught fish on the deck of boat, except in water.  My husband also joined the party. In fact, he might have been the first fish in.

With the kids engaged and a parent on duty tossing them around the water, uh, supervising, I was free to read my book and relax. To the sounds of splashing and giddy laughter, I positioned myself on my friend’s comfy outdoor couch and opened my Kindle.

I was reading Me Before You. It was turning out to be the kind of book where in every spare moment, I hungrily and guilty sneak in a few finger page flips, like when I’m pretending to make lunches for the kids, or those brief minutes between giving the kids some water guns and someone crying.  Now it seemed I had a good, relaxed hour of just me and my book, without feeling like an adulterer whose husband was about to walk in. Bliss.

I was about a page in when I heard my eight year-old yell, “Look at me!”

Even though he wasn’t speaking to me, I glanced over at the pool in time to see his skinny, white body clutch his knees and cannonball.

I returned to my book, but was again distracted by my 10 year-old shouting, “My turn!”

“Me too! I can too!” I heard my five year-old squeal.

I tried to ignore them, but I couldn’t concentrate. No one expected me to participate. They knew Mommy didn’t like water or swimming, since Mommy definitely shouldn’t have seen Jaws at 5 years-old, and possibly had drowned in a prior life. No one was bothering me at all. But I was bothered.

cannonball

I placed my Kindle on the cushion. I was sitting in a pool of my own sweat anyway.

Slowly I made my way toward the pool and tentatively put a foot in the water.

My five year-old stopped mid jump, looking confused. “Mommy’s going in the pool?”

My two older boys, started cheering and chanting, “Mommy’s going in the pool!”

On doggie paddles and floats, they waded over to me. I was barely in, my anxiety rising with the water around me, deepening with each submerged step. I was in over my head, and I was only up to my knees.

They swarmed me, laughing, splashing, pulling me further in, jumping on me.  They were circling sharks and I was fresh meat.

It was kind of a blissful torture. I was so happy to be in there with them, to take part in a family moment and memory. But if they’re expecting a repeat performance anytime soon, they shouldn’t hold their breath.

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