Thursday, April 29, 2010

Maybe I'm Doing Something Right. Or Maybe I Paid Someone Off. You'll Never Know.

As a parent, have you ever found yourself in a situation where your child has to demonstrate their status as a functional member of society, and you think to yourself, "Crap, this is totally going to blow my cover?"

A preschool screening is one of those situations.

I mean, geezus, one minute you're telling yourself, "my kid will do great!" And then with no warning whatsoever they bust out that chart marked "Social Development Skills" and suddenly you're feeling really guilty about that day you let Blue's Clues babysit for three hours straight.

It began with the easy stuff. Which one of these is an apple? Point to the square. Point to the blue car. The Munchkin would point to something on the chart, the screener would nod, then flip the page. Question, point, flip. Question, point, flip.

I couldn't see the chart, so I couldn't give hints or frantically pantomime the answers like a crazed pageant mom.

I was totally doing that on the inside, though.

Luckily, she checked off one correct answer after another, while I sat filling out paperwork, resisting the urge to scream, "ISN'T SHE BRILLIANT? AREN'T I AN AWESOME MOM? I CAN HAZ VALIDATION, PLEASE?"

Then the screener upped the ante. "Are you ready for a riddle?" she asked.

My kid just nodded like, I don't know what a riddle is but I hope it involves Dora fruit snacks.

"This is shiny and has four wheels. Your mom uses one when she buys groceries. What is it?"

She pointed.

"Very good!" the screener said.

Mental fist pump. Mental fist pump.

Then came a list of questions directed at me.

"Does she re-tell a story?"

Yes. Again. And again. Ask her about the time the camel pooped at the zoo. Better yet, ask her about the time she threw up all over the doctor during one of Kitt's well-baby visits. I'd love to hear that one 47 times on the ride home.

"Does she play detailed make-believe?"

Judging from the number of fake giants who have chased her down fake beanstalks and been attacked by a fake pack of monkeys who rescued her and sent her into the sunset on a fake flying horse, I'd say yes.

"Does she ask, 'why?'"

Hang on, that word makes my brain leak out through my ears. Ok, I'm good.

She passed with flying colors. They'll never know that I sometimes crawl back into bed while she eats her breakfast.

Oh, wait...oops.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quick, Someone Waltz Me Across a Lilypad Before I Start Scaring Children.

You know you're starved for romance when you watch the latest Disney movie with your kids and think to yourself, "Dude! I want to be a frog!"

I need to get out more.

Things are quiet on the homefront these days.

Too quiet.

If he were reading over my shoulder right now, he would say that we have nothing to talk about. No common ground, aside from the kids. As for me, I've stopped talking because I don't get the sense that anything I say interests him much. It all ends up sounding like one more dumb story.

Hey! Kind of like this blog! BWAHAHA!

Ahem. Sorry. Making the best of it, folks, work with me here.

I suppose it's a measure of self-preservation and an act of denial. If we don't speak, then we won't fight. If we don't fight, then maybe things aren't so bad, after all.

Speaking of which, if one more of my Facebook friends posts something about how freaking great their husbands are and how they just don't know why they're so lucky to have blah blah blah flowers and chocolate and unicorns, I might kill their Farmville pigs.

Bitter and/or jealous? Nope, not me.

But every day it gets harder to ignore this gaping hole in my life where the happy marriage should be. I don't want perfect. I just want happy. That's not unrealistic, right? Help me out here, because I have completely lost my frame of reference. You could tell me that the secret to marital bliss involves a Spongebob costume and a trapeze, and I would totally believe you.

Come on, the Disney frogs made it work.

Why not me?

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Heard You the First Time, Fer Crap's Sake

A while back, I wrote a post about the Munchkin's repetitous phase and thought to myself, hey, some day I'll look back on this and laugh.

Oh, I'm laughing all right.

In the insane off-my-meds-and-losing-my-grasp-on-reality kind of way. Because, hello, the "phase?" IT CONTINUES TO SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF ME.

In the morning, for example, after I plunk down her bowl of cereal and blindly slam buttons on the coffeemaker until it turns on, she serenades me with "You forgot to give me juice. You forgot to give me juice. You forgot to give me juice."

Even as I stand there holding the cup of juice two inches from her outstretched hand, she continues, "You forgot to give me juice. You forgot to give me juice. You forgot to give me juice. You forgot to give me juice. You forgot to give-"

Is 7:00AM too early for whiskey?

Today a friend and I - in one of our more masochistic moments - decided to take our kids out for pizza. Kids who both love nothing more than the sound of their own voices.

Combine all that crazed repetition (times two) with the generally stressful task of Eating Out With Children. You know, that fiasco in which you spend ten minutes moving all the forks to the middle of the table so no one gets their eye stabbed out, only to turn around and find your baby gleefully waving a steak knife in the air.

Sounds like fun, no? Our lunch soundtrack went something like this:

Mine: I want pizza, Mommy.

Hers: I have a booster seat!

Mine: I want pizza, Mommy.

Hers: I have a booster seat!

Mine: I want pizza, Mommy.

Hers: I have a booster seat!

Friend: Son, could you maybe not pull that window shade off its brackets?

Mine: I want pizza, Mommy.

Me: Yes, it's on your PLATE. How's about you eat it? PUT SOMETHING IN YOUR MOUTH, SWEET JEEBUS.

As Kitt flung fifteen Goldfish crackers at our waitress's head, I looked at my friend and said, "Next time, maybe we'll just leave them all at home."

Seriously, when does it end?! Can it end now? Can it end now? Can it end now?

Sh*t. I'm becoming one of them.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Communing With Nature Is So Freakin' Stressful

In honor of Earth Day crap now I have to call it something else because I started this post two days ago and I'm late Earth Week, I'd like to offer you all these four great tips on how (not) to go hiking with your kids.

Trust me, I speak from experience.

1) Do not assume that a "stroller friendly" trail will be at all friendly to your stroller. The trail might be nice to your stroller's face, but it will totally talk about your stroller behind its back and make it cry in the bathroom during lunch. In other words, the trail is likely riddled with knots and roots that will give your child whiplash and make you wonder if you are causing any permanent brain damage.

2) Consider the weather history. Let's say a few weeks back, you had ark-worthy flooding from which you are still drip-drying. Keep this in mind and dress accordingly, so that your kid does not suddenly find both her sneakers enveloped in mud and start screaming about how her FEET ARE GONE! FEET ARE GONE! as you calmly reassure her that SHE IS TOTALLY FINE, except now you need some antiseptic for the claw marks she just left on your shoulders.

3) Know your cartoon characters. So that when your child starts to get tired and bored, you can explain to her with full confidence that she is on an adventure. She is an explorer. Just like -insert incredulous gasp - DORA. THE. EXPLORER. Isn't it great?! Doesn't it make her want to, uh, keep walking?! Yes, Mommy is Boots the Monkey. Sure, Kitt is Tiko the Squirrel. Just quit whining.

4) Celebrate nature responsibly. Meaning that, if you all make it back to the car in one piece before the sun goes down...and if you have returned with the same number of children you left with, proceed immediately to the nearest ice cream store and reward yourself for a job well done. Two scoops, please. Extra whipped cream.

Happy Earth Week, everyone!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dear Prince, Had a great night last night. Like, really great. Love, Cinderella

The Munchkin yelled for me this morning, insisting that she had something amazing to show me. Usually this means 1) she has decorated the wall with permanent marker or 2) she has cut the hair off all her toy ponies.

Yep, it's amazing, all right.

So, I ran downstairs sensing disaster, and found this:

Words fail me.

Apparently they served tequila at the ball. Poor Cinderella.

The weird thing is, I don't know what the kid did with the dress. I can't find it anywhere. You know what? I bet the Prince kept it. I bet he likes to wear it after midnight.

If anyone sees the fairy godmother floating around, send her this way. She's going to have to put in some overtime this week.

Monday, April 19, 2010

And Then She, Too, Pooped on the Floor. Just Kidding.

You are having kind of a rough night.

You feel yourself getting that sinus thing that seems to be going around, yet you still agreed to babysit for a friend of yours. Her two kids and your two kids are tired, crabby, not so well-behaved.

Her kids spit their food out at the table. They crawl on the table. One of them has a nasty-looking diaper rash, big red welts that migrate up to her belly button. Later, that kid says she has to go potty and when you take off her diaper, a ginormous turd splats onto the tile and you have to pick it up via Toilet Paper Glove.

That kind of stuff happens all the time, of course. But tonight, when it's someone else's kid, it just seems gross and you wish you didn't have to deal with it.

Then suddenly, you turn around and see your baby walking.

Your 15-month old, whom you thought would be chasing her big sister by 9 months, at least toddling around by 12 months, and who until this moment has GONE TOTALLY LIMP every time you stand her on her own feet, is on two legs, moving toward you like a real human.

She takes five steps with her legs spread wide, a bit of a bounce in each one, like a sumo wrestler trying to get jiggy with it. And you blink back tears because this, this is just what you needed.

All her life, she's had to share you. Every day she has to fight a bigger, stronger, louder sibling for your attention. But now, right now, it's just the two of you. She gets to have this moment with you. And you get to have it with her.

You stand frozen with your hand clapped over your mouth, lest you scream with joy and scare the crap out of her. Then she looks up at you, throws her arms out, and falls forward with a happy squeal.

You catch her in your arms, laughing, both of you grinning with pride.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Think I'm Supposed to Kneel Now. No, Wait, I Should Stand. Nope, Sit Down. Nope, Kneel Again.

I hesitated to blog about this because, like a good Yankee, I believe religion is a private thing. Meaningful and beneficial, yes. But private.

The truth is, I'm in the market for a new church.

I grew up Catholic, attended CCD classes right up through high school and even had a Confirmation party. Because, well, that's what good Catholics do.

We got married in a Congregational church, but afterwords I used our military-induced nomad status as an excuse for the fact that we never went back. We're only here for six weeks. We're only here for a year. We are far too busy and important. What's the point?

Needless to say, the recent scandals in the Catholic church have sort of turned me off from that whole deal. I haven't attended church regularly in years. We don't even make the bare-minimum appearances on Easter and Christmas.

I know. We are SO going to hell.

So, why now, you ask? Well, have you the state of the world, lately? Have you seen Lady Gaga perform? I swear it won't be long before the Munchkin's fellow preschoolers are heading off to school in backless sequined halter tops and low rise jeans with their Tinkerbell thongs peeking over the top.

Also, as I'm finding out, kids are mean. They're mean, and they're learning how to be mean at ever-younger ages.

I need reinforcements.

I feel like my kids need a moral compass. Obviously, I'm going to do the best I can in this respect, but I am also sensitive to the fact that eventually, they are not going to give a rat's ass what I say.

Oh, wait, that's already happened. Crap.

So, I want that for them, but I also don't want them quoting the Bible as they go down the slide at the playground. I want them to respect all viewpoints on this particular subject, even if their new slide playmate believes that Jesus is a unicorn who visits in the middle of the night like the Tooth Fairy, leaving a hammer and a pile of scrap wood under your pillow instead of money.

I don't know where that middle ground lies.

Suggestions are welcome.

In the meantime, I'm going to go see if I can remember the kneel-sit-stand choreography, just in case nothing better comes along.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Because Three Extra Donuts Can Really Mess Up a Morning

Dear Dunkin' Donuts,

First off, let me say that I am a big fan. I relish the fact that you have three drive-thru locations within 2 miles of my current residence. How did you know?

However, you have a new policy that befuddles me. Why do you now only sell Munchkins in multiples of five?

I want two. TWO.

This allows me to dispense one treat per child from the safety of the parking lot, and not while operating a motor vehicle. It keeps them happy while I infuse my sluggish bloodstream with sweet, sweet caffeine. It keeps their sugar high in check, which prevents me from having to clean bits of their exploded heads out of the upholstery.

So, this five-Munchkin minimum does not work for me. Because you see, my kids? THEY KNOW.

Even when I crumple up the bag that contains the three extra Munchkins, throw it on the floor and act like it's trash, they somehow know I'm faking.

"The donuts are all gone," I say.

"No they're not. They're right there. In the bag."


Thus the peaceful silence is broken by repeated questions of what's in the bag, Mommy? Mommy, I fink der's more treats in dare. Where's the bag?! Don't frow it away! MOMMY, WHAT'RE YOU DOING??

Then the questioning turns frantic because dear God how could I show such disregard for those innocent donuts and despite my attempts to calm her and tell her that they're all gone you ate them all, okay fine there's more but I can't reach them because I'm driving and trying not to get us dead, okay fine I can reach them but NOW I WANT THEM, nothing works.

Then the little one starts whining because she senses that Mommy's pulling a fast one, then there's lots of screaming as they feed off each other's panic, and before I know it I'm busting out the "I will turn this car around so fast" line.

And I mean, sh*t, we're just trying to get to the library.

Help me out here, Dunks. Restore order! Bring back the single-Munchkin purchase! SERENITY NOW!

Ahem. Sorry. That got away from me at the end, there.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bring Your Good Times and Your Emotional Baggage Too

I don't plan to blog the gory details of our adventures in marriage counseling, but I just can't make this stuff up.

Last night we met with a new counselor, a kindly older gentlemen who reminds me a bit of Wilford Brimley. Trust me, it's an improvement. Our first one had a home office that looked like something straight off the set of Golden Girls . She told us not to show up too early because she might be taking a shower.

Anyway, as we sat in the waiting room filling out paperwork, Wilford came out and put a CD into the player.

You're thinking Mozart, right? Maybe Gregorian chants? Something relaxing and instrumental to calm the nerves?

Nope. "Celebration" by Kool & The Gang.

"Is he trying to be funny?" I mumbled to the BassMaster. He shrugged.

You'd think it was a bad omen, but for some reason I kind of like this guy. Maybe we share an affinity for inappropriate humor.

Next time we'll be sure to pack our disco ball.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Here's to Five More Years of Having Nothing to Write About

Don't look now, but this past Sunday marked the fifth anniversary of this blog.

No, really, don't look. The early stuff will make you want to gouge your eyes out with the nearest spatula.

See, I started this blog because I was getting too lazy to keep a written journal, (sadly, I did not start it to bring about world peace, end slavery or protest fur. Really, I was just lazy.) the posts tended to go something like, "Dear Diary, OMG, my life is so hard and to top it off, I am hungry."

Come to think of it, nothing has changed.

Except for the fact that one day I lost my mind, decided to have babies, and suddenly had nothing else to talk about. Nowadays I keep a spin dial marked with the words, "poop," "tantrums" and "boobs." I sit down at the computer, spin the wheel and ta-da! Blog post.

I'll admit, I cringe a little when people say, "You have a blog? About what?" Then, as I stuff half a sandwich in my mouth I'll mumble, "mmph, is'sa mommy blog, I guess."

Gah. Mommy blog. I don't even like that term. It reminds me of that Mommy Animal/Baby Animal game that kids always love. I just know one of these days the Munchkin is going to say, "Let's play! I'll be the baby blog and you be the mommy blog..."

However, I do like the fact that in writing about my kids, I've met so many other people who understand that motherhood is not all fluffy puppies. I like knowing that even though I love my children, it's okay if I sometimes want put them outside with a "TAKE ME" sign taped to their foreheads. I take comfort in the fact that somewhere out there, another mom is hiding in the bathroom because it's the only way she can drink her coffee in peace.

Case and point: in the time it's taken me to write this much, I've gotten both girls dressed, changed one explosive diaper and played 14 rounds of peek-a-boo with Kitt. Should've gone to the can.

See? My life is so hard. Who's hungry?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Don't Even Want to Know What Happens at Midnight

The BassMaster and I are headed out to a Navy Ball tonight. We haven't been to one in three years.

I've never had to get ready with two kids chasing my ankles.

I just put my dress on, and now I'm dodging them and yelling, "DON'T TOUCH MOMMY. NO TOUCHY!"

Also, I may have misapplied my mascara. My eyelashes keep sticking to my bangs.

Oh, and I made the unfortunate mistake of putting on said dress while the BassMaster is in the shower. Now I have no one to zip me. Now the sitter's going to show up and I'm going to be standing there looking like I just got lucky.

I did not just get lucky.

But, I am a bit out of practice with this whole Cinderella thing.

But, hey, it's fun.

Gotta run now, the kids are beelining for me again.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

My Hips Don't Lie. They Say I'm Just As Good As Cloris Leachman.

My salsa lessons are becoming yet another situation in which my brain says, "Do this," and my feet go, "Screw you."

Same thing happened to me with ice skating, soccer, ballet and water skiing. And possibly bowling.

However, salsa? It is FUN, even if you're not so good at it. You should do it.

In my first lesson, I got the basic rhythm down. And after my instructor dragged me around the floor like a roped calf for twenty minutes, I also figured out how to follow her lead instead of trampling her shiny ballroom shoes. I even elicited a few encouraging comments from her which, in different words, amounted to, "You don't suck as much as I thought you would."

I also stared at her boobs the whole time.

I couldn't help it. She told me not to look at my feet. And I couldn't bring myself to look lovingly into her eyes. Not on the first date. I mean, shouldn't we at least have dinner first? Maybe make out in the back seat of her car?

So, can't look up, can't look down...boobs win.

When I found myself doing it again during my next lesson, I called myself out.

"I'm really sorry I keep staring at your chest," I said.

"It happens all the time," she replied.

Good thing I don't have a tall male instructor. That could get really awkward.

Anyway, I trip, I lose my timing, I step on toes. But the salsa lessons are giving me some quality time off the mommy clock. I normally focus all my energy on two tiny humans and their relentless attempts to overthrow me. Now I actually have someone focusing on me, in an activity that reminds me that I am not just Wiper of Butts and Opener of the Applesauce.

Although, I specialize in both.

So come on, feet. Work with me here and baila, dammit! BAILA!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Looks Like It's Ham and Cake For the Next Ten Days

Have I ever mentioned that I excel at making life difficult for myself?

For example, I can’t just say to myself, “I need a dessert for Easter,” buy a box of cake mix at the store and be done with it.

No, I have to make the cake and decide it looks puny and sad. Then I have to realize, hey, I have second box of mix, I’ll be needlessly ambitious and make a layer cake. Who cares if I have never layered a cake before? That’s why we have You Tube.

Then I have to Google 574 recipes for various cake fillings. Then I have to decide I don’t like any of them because none of them use anything I have on hand and dude, I am not driving all the way the store to spend $20 on a bottle of kumquat extract only to use half a teaspoon and never look at it again. So I have to pull a totally different filling out of my ass.

Not literally.

Then I have to Google things like, “how to level a cake,” and “fix hopelessly lopsided cake,” and “shit, I broke off a chunk of my cake, can I use frosting to glue it back in place?” (Answer: Yes.)

Then, after frosting the now-monstrous double-layer cake with approximately 13 lbs of Cool Whip, I have to decide it looks boring. It looks like a bar of soap.

Now I must decorate it.

I’m not so good with decorations. I like things to be linear and symmetrical, anything else makes me twitch. Ask me about the Thanksgiving that I tried to design a snowflake out of raisins on my rice pudding and accidentally made a swastika instead.

They didn’t invite us back.

Anyway, decorations. I have to consider spelling out “Happy Easter” in maraschino cherries, but decide they might look too much like drops of blood in the snow, which might ruin appetites. Easter, spring, what’s spring-like? Flowers. How the eff to I make a flower? And of course, I can’t have just one flower, because THINGS MUST BE LINEAR AND SYMMETRICAL.

Five hours later, my simple dessert has to turn into this behemoth:

I think it weighs more than Kitt.

But, it was actually pretty good. I'm not much of a recipe poster but if you need to feed a small army and would like to know the recipe, feel free to drop me an email. I will reply with, "Lisa's Can't-Leave-Well-Enough-Alone Easter Cake Recipe."

Or, you can just gank my flower idea. Eat your heart out, Martha.

Happy Easter, everyone. Anyone want some leftover Cool Whip?

Friday, April 02, 2010

I Can Cut Those Pigtails Off and Make it Look Like An Accident

Forget about the May flowers. Here in my new hometown, the recent April showers have brought Miniature Heinous Bitches.
I took the girls to the park today to celebrate the end of three days of rain and wall-climbing. The Munchkin beelined for a row of animal ride-ons in the back corner. Two of them were occupied by girls in long blond pigtails. The third one sat empty.
As the Munchkin approached, both girls put their hands up and screamed "NO!!"
They looked almost identical, sisters separated by maybe a couple of years. The younger one had bluer eyes and a cuter face. In a few more years I bet that'll really stick in the older one's craw, hehe. (Aaaand I'm officially being nasty to total strangers. Cut me some slack, THEY WERE MEAN TO MY KID).
Where was I? Oh, right, the screaming.
"NO!" they both screamed again.
I looked at the Munchkin's crestfallen face and felt the mama bear oh-no-you-didn't fury starting to churn. I resisted the urge to ram them with my double stroller.
"My goodness," I said to them. I really wanted to say, "What the f*ck is your problem," but, my kid? She repeats everything. You know that one would come back to haunt me. Probably over Easter dinner.
"We're not friends with her," one of them said. "We're waiting for our friend to come."
This would not happen down south. Not only are people just nicer (or maybe just better medicated), but if we'd encountered these girls below the Mason-Dixon line, you can bet their mama would have stormed over with a Bible yelling, "Kendall/Harper/Parker/Savannah!! Don't you know that mean words make baby Jesus cry?!"
Their mother was nowhere to be found, at least not within earshot. I glanced around trying to find the right person to give the evil eye, but all I got were sympathetic looks from the bystanders.
"Hey, girlies. You like those pigtails? 'Cause it'd be a shame if something happened to them,"I said as I pantomimed a sawing motion with my car keys.
"How about if we play on this one until your friend comes along?" I asked. Diplomacy, Lisa. Show the Munchkin that you need not scratch eyeballs out in order to resolve a problem.
"These rides are ours!" one of them yelled.
The Munchkin eventually got bored, found another playmate who had the same name as her (which is The Coolest Thing Ever to a 3-year old) and played on the slide.
I silently hoped those girls would trip and and get a mouthful of bark mulch.
Here's the kicker: ten minutes later, those same exact girls were helping the Munchkin get down a ladder, holding her hand and running with her as if they'd been best buddies forever. Their mom appeared, saw them all playing, and said to me, "Awwww, your daughter is beautiful," thus ruining the "You Have Mean Girls" speech I'd prepared.
Oh well. I'm sure I'll get to use it someday.