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Category Archives: Every Day Scoops

Life is Good

I was going to die.

I glanced over at the bright happy picture of my five and two year old sons and felt certain I would never see their gorgeous faces again. The tears began to well. It was all too much. Gripping the sides of my hospital bed, I took one last look at the children whose lives I was already mourning not being there for, gave one last push and brought my third son into the world.

That was seven years ago.

Seven years gone. Seven years lived. Seven years growing. Seven years of memories and moments. That baby is now a full grown kid; my 2 and 5 year olds now 9 and 12. How did we get from there to here? From diapers and midnight feedings, nursery school and little crawler gym classes to middle school and snark, multi-colored lacrosse shorts and sleepovers. Life is moving faster than one of my kids basketball games; racing from sport to sport to school to play dates – oh sorry boys, hang outs – and activities. We’re so busy trying to keep up that we almost don’t even realize the days, months, years passing.

It’s good being in the thick of it. It’s how it should be. But some days like today I stop and look around and see the wild haired boy with the mischievous smile who is my baby that is a baby no more. I see my older boys having grown as well – My 9 year old charming and wise beyond his years and my 12 year old on the verge of an amazing and frightening new time in his life for both of us. And I remember that day when in my panic I thought I might miss it all.

But here I am (puhpuhpuh), having been blessed to watch my boys growing and growing, their faces, bodies and personalities subtly changing, new expressions lighting up their eyes and mouths; thoughts and ideas opening like flowers in their brains.

One falls over in a pile of giggles, hysterical from his own hijinks, one decides to forgo the fork and shovels in his pasta with his hands and one decides to mastermind a complicated game of mazes, sport and points in the basement.

They are beautiful, unique and special. They are nothing alike and each one is perfect. How incredibly amazing to experience their humor, youth and innocence and see it changing moment by moment in infinitely subtle ways; to watch them grow and develop, rise and fall. Just to be a part of it all; a part of them.

I am overwhelmed by emotion and gratitude. I am so thankful to be here and see it; to hug them and be hugged by them. Today is my youngest son’s birthday, but just like his brothers, I celebrate him every day.

Life is a gift.

Good morning, birthday boy. Ooh that face!

Good morning, birthday boy.

 

 

Aw look, it’s a new baby Jeep

My husband stood outside in the sun, still flush with the excitement from the delivery of his beautiful new baby. The look in his eyes said it all. Love. Pure and simple.

He had waited for so long for this day and now she was here in the flesh, or um, in the chrome and steel. Yes, cigars all around, we are now the proud owners of a Jeep Wrangler.

“Hey boys!” He called out excitedly to our children, “Come look at the new car. Isn’t it so cool?”

But our boys are too cool for cool. My oldest barely raised his brow, my middle one shrugged unimpressed and said, “Eh. It’s alright.”

But my little guy eagerly ran over to his daddy who scooped him up and looked at him expectantly. “I know how to spell Gum!” He exclaimed.

But stars in the eyes cannot so easily be put out. “We’re going for a drive!” My husband yelled, refusing to hear the chorus of boos from the mini peanut gallery.

We all piled in and started to drive as my husband pointed out what button did what and all the beloved features of his new baby. He took a deep satisfying breath. “Smell that?” He asked, his eyes a glimmer, “Nothing like new car smell.”

“This is so boring,” My middle guy droned.

“Where are we going?” My oldest wanted to know.

“Mommy, I had three brownies at the party,” My youngest confessed.

We drove through the wealthy part of our town where Richie Rich Mansions overlook the sound; so close yet quite untouchable with its own police department. It is beautiful and mouth dragging, except to the chorus in the back.

“Why can’t we live here?” Middle demanded accusingly.

“Why are we here?” Oldest whined annoyingly.

“Can we go play at that one?” Youngest wanted to know, pointing to a massive home with a Bentley and a Rolls parked on the drive and surrounded by its own ponds with a rowboat sitting idle.

We in the front do our best to enjoy riding in a cool car without a roof, the wind in our hair and visions of our twenties spread out before us like an open road.

But it is hard to ignore those in the back driving us crazy.

With nowhere to off road or the possibility of leaving our kids by the side of one, we head home. The boys climbed out, grateful to be released from what was apparently ‘the most boring ride ever’ and ran in the house to engage in more stimulating activities like sitting on the couch and playing with iPhones.

“Are you coming in?” I asked when my husband lingered in the driveway.

“In a minute,” he said, his eyes fixed on the perfect form, beautiful coloring and shiny exterior.

I nodded and left the two of them alone. I had a feeling he would be spending a lot of quality time with this new baby, the one who didn’t talk but purred.

Right now I think it’s his favorite.

Proud papa

Proud papa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let The iBeatings Begin!

I want to beat my children. Wait, did I say that out loud? Please don’t call child services. I don’t really want to beat them in the literal way, just figuratively. Figuratively, I want to beat them silly.

Why? I don’t know. Maybe because they’re spoiled and deserve a good figurative beating. Because maybe, I’m tired of the word, “Wait” when I’m asking something like, “Do you want vanilla or chocolate?” and their video game can’t be interrupted; or maybe because they remember they need special molding clay at 9pm for a diorama due the next day. Or because I make three different dinners for them to say, “I’m not hungry” but five minutes after everything has been cleared away, find them attached to my waist, devastated by hunger. Because I sit and help patiently with homework only to be told that “It’s fine” with an eye roll of disdain, even when it’s not, and they haven’t figured out yet that they should say bless you when I sneeze, or offer to help when I’m schlepping in 12 grocery bags instead of throwing their knapsack on top of the bags. That’s why. I could go on, if you need more.

But it’s no longer the 70’s when beatings were just as acceptable as lack of supervision and random light drug use. When I tell my children I’m going to beat them – an entertaining threat that I somehow picked up watching the hysterical skit from Bill Cosby Himself – they roll their eyes. “Oh funny, mom.”   Yeah, I have them quaking in their furry crocs.

Ooops.

Ooops.

I need something to show them that I mean business. I probably would get more of a response if I threatened to beat their devices.

That’s it! They would cower in fear. I would have them at my mercy. I can hear them now…

“NO! My iPhone hasn’t done anything wrong. Please, beat me! Just leave it alone.”

“But, it’s taken me so long to get to that level!”

“Not my contacts!”

“Take the DS! Or the Wii. Just leave the X-Boxxxxxxx!”

phone death 3

Gee, what’s that doing there? Mwahahaha

Or, maybe we could create a new app – iMomfia where I control all the apps on my kids’ devices. If one of the children doesn’t behave, I could make one of their apps just disappear. They’ll never know which one.

I would hold their complete submission in my hands. I would have them doing their homework, putting their dishes in the sink, taking showers without hassle. It’s genius. Or blackmail. Same, same.

Somehow technology has become the only effective method of bribery in my house. For the past few years I’ve used it as a carrot, dangling before them. “Do well in school this year and I’ll get you an iTouch… Show me how helpful you can be around the house and maybe you’ll earn yourself an iTunes card…”  So, I guess it’s partly my fault that it’s become the most important thing to them, but I prefer to blame society.

Yes! It’s society’s fault that I own them in the first place, and now just to get my children’s attention, I may have to beat a device worth hundreds of dollars.

Ouch.

This is gonna hurt.

phone death

*No children or devices were harmed in the making of this totally humorous post.

My five year-old is no longer five

“You’re the best mommy,” my still officially five year-old son for ten more hours and two minutes, says as I sit with him in his bed at night. Because of the L word that cannot be mentioned, he is hugging around my waist while I am bent up against his head board, my hair wrapped in a tight mint-sprayed bun.

We are clear, I think. I mean, I’m pretty sure. Once you get L, you might never feel confident or clean again. I have been officially cleared twice by professionals, have treated myself none-the-less and combed out my hair every night, pulling so much that soon, I will have no hair left to worry about. Still, I feel them crawling on me and scratch at my head like a crazy person, which obviously, I am.

I have spent the week torturing my entire family. Checking and combing, freaking out when one sib’s head interferes with another sib’s personal head space, yelling for head checks, denying play dates. A few days ago when my 8 year-old went to bed early, I pulled my fine tooth comb through his hair in the dark at least five times before he woke and yelled at me.The casual hug is a thing of the past. Now my head tilts awkwardly so as not to touch anyone else’s hair. Snuggling in bed is also off limits. Until tonight, I wouldn’t even have sat in his bed. But tonight is the last night he will be five, and after days of begging me to snuggle, I can deny him no longer.

It’s been a difficult week for many reasons and now thinking that I am holding on to the last moments of my baby being five, I am heavy with the thickness of my emotion. I could fall over right now and cry myself to sleep. But of course, I can’t, because then our heads might touch.

My five – for nine more hours and fifty seven minutes – year-old is my youngest, but he really is no longer a baby. He’s now strong and agile, joining his brothers in school and on the field; a mischievous charmer, filled with sass and silliness.

Yet, he still randomly misuses bigger words, saying things like, ‘Happy university’ instead of anniversary, or telling me to use the ‘constructions’ to put something together. He still tells me secrets from his ear to mine, basically making it impossible to hear his little whispers. And he insists on cuddling with me in bed. My 8 year-old and 11 year-old do as well, but not with the same need as my 5 year-old, who will not stop calling until he has his due.

At this moment, his little upturned nose and the full curve of his cheek make him look almost cherubic in profile, so close to a baby. His hair is still damp from his shower, the unstoppable waves pressed against me. If I move just a little, he will hug me tighter, afraid that it is time for me to go. But I’m in no hurry tonight, because there are only nine hours and fifty-two minutes left of my baby being five, and we’re going to hug till he snores.

“Tomorrow’s my birthday.” He announces, as if we haven’t been counting off the days for months.

“I know.” In nine hours and fifty minutes.

“I can’t wait.” He says and snuggles closer.

I can.

“You’re the best mommy,” He repeats softly, drifting off.

“You’re the best baby.” I whisper.

And then I can’t take it anymore. Imaginary lice be damned, I lean down and kiss him on the head, pulling him to me.

I love this boy. And that’s the only L word that matters.

Who's cooler than him?

Back when he was  just five.

You have to read to understand

Spoiler alert: This post reveals plot secrets from The Fault in our Stars.

Last night I lost someone dear to me. He was young, not yet 18 but cancer doesn’t always care for age, or for charm or for a life worth living. I spent only a week or so getting to know him, growing to love him. His name was Augustus Waters, a boy fashioned from runaway words and grand gestures, who taught me that there can be an infinity of life in only a few breaths of time, to see the vigorous green of grass, the beauty of a blind man tossing eggs at an ex-girlfriends car, and that the loss of limb doesn’t mean you lose the sparkle in your eyes.

I admit I never actually met Augustus. I only got to know him in my head, a voyeur on a life I wasn’t really a part of, eavesdropping on private conversations and inner thoughts. But I loved him, because really, you don’t have to meet someone for their story to touch or move or change you.

Today, I still think about Augustus because he was so special, but I have new lives to distract me. Lenke and Josef, who met and married before WWII, lost each other and have somehow, through the unexplainable beauty of the universe re-found themselves in the golden years of life.

I am just getting to know them, but soon, they will be rounded out and real enough to hug. I will learn their full story, and I will cherish them as I have Augustus and so many others. Because each book I read is a secret window into another world, with some fascinating people but often with ordinary ones, but always ones who capture my affection and my imagination.

I don’t know where I’d be without the comfort and joy of books. They are a gift in my life that sheltered me when I was young from the shouting in my house and the noises in my head. From the first, my palette was insatiable. Truly, I cannot be without a book. It makes me edgy, not to have a place I can run to and hide or fly or laugh or cry.

I open a book and I open my life. So thank you Madeline L’Engle , Judy Blume, Jonathon Tropper, Herman Hesse, Ayn Rand, Larry McMurtry, Jean M. Auel, V.C. Andrews, Sydney Sheldon, James Michener, Ken Follett, Jane Austen, John Green and so so so many others for creating stories and lives that inspire and engage me; for lifting me up and bringing me down just when I needed them, for making me see the world through someone else’s eyes, challenge my mind and grow my heart.

I know the sun will rise and fall on every life someday. We are just breaths of air, but pages are breaths filled with cinnamon and spice that draw you in and make you want to take their face in your hands and kiss them, whether on each cheek or full on the mouth.

Even when I turn that final page, I carry you all with me.

Augustus has died. Long live Augustus.

fault in stars

Sometimes, you just got to take a shot

“Get your shoes on. We’ve got to go.”

This is the way it has to work. No explanation. No sweet talk. All business.

My three boys casually ignore me, focusing on SpongeBob.  Sometimes, I really want to wring that sponge.

“Ahem!” I say loudly. “Let’s get a move on. Now!”

My “Now” sounds like it looks, all exclamation points, but amazingly, they don’t hear it that way and slowly amble toward their shoes.

“Where are we going?” my oldest asks, but I brush off his question.

“No questions. Time to go.”

My two youngest race out the door.

“So where are we going?” My oldest persists, and because he’s eleven and has showed progress and maturity these past couple of years, I tell him.

“Oh.” He says anxiously, eyes wide.  “Do they know?” He gestures toward the happy faces climbing over each other in the minivan.

I shake my head no.

“Can I tell them?” He asks, eyes glinting.

“Wait till we’re closer. The less crying I have to hear the better.”

He nods happily. We’re in cahoots now.

During the seven minute drive, the secret spreads like a low hum across the car, reaching my youngest as we pull in, his eyes alight with panic. While the other boys wait, I patiently try to coax him from the car.

“Come on,” I plead. “It’s so quick. You didn’t even cry last year.” Uh, except for the half hour preceding it, of course.

He backs away, deeper into the third row.

Realizing negotiation was futile, I not so patiently pick up his flailing, twisting body and carry him. Once inside, he calms some, until the doctor appears smiling, with his Tweety and Sylvester tie and a syringe. It is a semi-creepy combination.

Oldest boy goes and takes it in arm like a pro.

Middle boy goes and barely bats one of his ridiculously long lashes.

Youngest boy… where is youngest boy? Sigh.

I pull him out from under the patient table and talk gently to him as he struggles to pull away. I show him how happy his big brothers are and he kicks at the doctor. I promise him treats when he’s done, but he is like a rabid baby bear covered in butter in my arms.

Finally, I restrain him enough for the three seconds it takes the doctor to insert the needle and it’s over.

My boy takes his time breathing heavily, recovering from his experience. “See, it’s really not that bad,” I coo, petting his curls. “It’s over so fast. You were very brave.”

He looks up, baby brown eyes still moist with tears, and utters two words full of indignation, “Toy store.”

I nod in agreement.

“Then treat!”

The kid may not be good at taking shots, but he’s certainly good at calling them.

Just hold still. This won't hurt a bit.

Just hold still. This won’t hurt a bit.

What’s really wrong with men

My head is cloudy. My body aches. I’m a drippy, stuffy mess, but as mom, there’s no time for that, no time at all. Children must be corralled, lunches made, activities organized. So even though I’d like to lie down, close my eyes and nap, I’m moving and shaking, although the shaking might just be from the chills.

My husband comes downstairs, a look of exhaustion fixed on his face.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, busy doing what needs to be done.

“I can’t breathe,” he says. Can you hand me a tissue?” He looks at me pleadingly, like a little boy.

“Here,” I say annoyed and hand him the tissue box. Can’t I have this sick day? Can’t being sick even be about me?  “Would you like a sticker now?” I ask sarcastically.

“Maybe some juice?” He makes puppy eyes, but at the moment, I just think he’s a dog.

I try to take a deep calming breath but my nose is stuffed, so I just swallow a little mucus and choke, but no one notices. If I wasn’t so weary, I might have something snarky to say. Instead I just hand him a cup of juice, but I do it with a scowl.

Because if he has a cold it seems like pneumonia.

If he’s nauseous, he’s hacking in the bathroom some inhuman sound reserved for dying animals.

If he’s under the weather, it’s a blizzard in Minnesota.

So  while there’s definitely something wrong with my husband, mainly he just sucks at being sick. And if I’m not feeling well, his symptoms somehow worsen. Not that I think he does it consciously, but…

Me- I don’t feel so well.

Him – Me either.

Me – My head hurts.

Him – Mine too. And my throat.

Me – That’s weird.

Him – Yeah, I’m really achy.

Me – Really?

Him – Yeah, In fact, I think I need to lie down. Could you make me soup?”

Apparently, women aren’t allowed to be sick. Ever.

And it’s not just my husband. I’m prepared to throw all men under the bus here. According to women everywhere, men just can’t handle the pain. They wheeze and whine, they moan and complain, they need lollipops and cool compresses, while the wives nurse the baby while standing up, cooking dinner and overseeing homework, all with a 103 temperature, a broken leg and three broken arms. Yeah, three.

It makes me re-think some of the turns of phrase I randomly use without thinking, like “Take it like a man” or “Man up.”

How did these become part of the vernacular? I think ‘Take it like woman’ is more appropriate and from now on I’m telling my boys to ‘Mom up’, because if there’s something we know how to do, it’s suffer.

Don’t bother passing me the tissues, I’ll just get them myself.

sick

Marital Disclaimer: Just to be clear and not because he’s reading this, my husband is very manly. He’s the coach of everything, he kills spiders, climbs ladders, fixes stuff and likes nothing more than chips on the couch and sports on the TV. In fact, my husband can beat up your husband, unless of course he’s sick.