a big ‘ol truck ran her over

Vacations are tough. Holidays are tough. Especially when they immediately follow insanely crazy school schedules and snow days. What you want most is some time to rest and recuperate but there is so much to be done still. All the Christmas preparations and plans for family and friends and parties. Hardly a dull moment around here. And, as should be expected this time of year, colds run rampant and children do not cover their mouths and noses and spray germs all over the place. Don’t worry, my children are equally as irresponsible as yours are.  So, I knew to expect everyone to get sick the minute Christopher started hacking away. Families are like petrie dishes, no matter how much Purell you swim in. Alexander’s cold was worse. His cough would wake him at night and reduce him to tears. Not much sleep for mother and son. After a few days we went to the pediatrician to rule out asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis. It was just a virus, he told me and he would not see me back in a week. I was given permission to give him purple (as opposed to the other colors) Triaminic to ease the coughing and congestion. We gave it to him at night time and he slept marvellously. (As did I!) Perhaps we were moving past the colds and sleepless nights. We were already a week into vacation and we were all getting more and more exhausted by the second! But when one can sleep the world looks rosy again. The only thing starting to concern me was that Alexander was still extremely congested. I worried about what this could possibly result in. But he was feeling and acting fine so that when we got another snow storm on New Year’s Eve we didn’t think twice about sending the kids out with their sleds. They all came in red cheeked and drippy nosed. They came in smelling like outdoors in wintertime. On Friday evening I saw Alexander holding his ear in that way that instantly sends chills down your spine and sets off the ear infection alarms. This was what I worried about. His congestion had no place to drain. Another ear infection was the only possible outcome. I immediately gave him some Motrin and we had another terrible, very restless sleep that night. Even though he was chipper and in great spirits the following morning I made an appointment to see our pediatrician. We got a 9:30 appointment which still meant that we could head out to Massachusetts for Christmas number 3, if Alexander was up to it. A prescription was called in for his double ear infection and we went home, changed and headed out the door.

I settled in to bed at around 10:30 that night and didn’t feel so well.  I didn’t get that much sleep that night either. And Alexander was in bed with me. I don’t know when he joined me but he was in bed with me. I wondered if his cold has manifested itself differently in me, or if this was something else I would have to look forward to him getting. By early afternoon my stomach seemed better but every bone from my head to my toes throbbed. Luckily I slept the day away and was awakened only by the need to sip gingerale every now an then or a small child sneaking in to steal a kiss!  I was so glad that yesterday was Sunday and there was someone to look after the children. I was also grateful that today was Monday so that I would not have to look after all three kids. Though, shhh, don’t let them hear me say so, I miss them like crazy! Alexander is content to play with his Dad’s tools and watch Noggin on television. As for me I’m a bit sore and totally exhausted but I know I will be OK. I may have needed a nap after the arduous task of stripping my bed, but I know I will be OK. I’m lucky and grateful to have such an easy going kid to keep me company. I am grateful for Noggin on TV and Disney on Demand as I too have become a huge fan of Handy Manny!

I would rather be cleaning or putting away decorations or even putting laundry away, but I can’t and snuggling up next to a rather cute 3 year old is nothing to complain about!

Addendum: Within a couple of hours of writing this Alexander too succumbed to the terrible stomach bug. Poor kid just can’t get a break.

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Excuse me, I seem to have lost my head! Would you kindly let me know if you see it anywhere?

What a week… what a bloody long and exhausting and draining week. We’ve been late to school almost every day. We’ve not managed to get our homework completed at night 3 out of 4 nights resulting on our needing to finish it in the morning. But we can’t get up and showered on time. We’ve had, on several occasions, three different after school activities in one day. There are three kids but only one of me. We’ve been home most nights at 7pm. So it is a mad dash to get homework done, showered and fed by 8:30. Of course the older two need quiet to concentrate. Of course this is when Alexander is at his noisiest. Of course I need to quiet him and help the other two. Once again I can not do three things at once. I am also trying to get the school wrapping paper drive settled. And pull off a wine tasting event in the middle of November. The venue and the date have changed many times already. And I had to chaperone a field trip to a fire station. And I had to go to a meeting on Tuesday evening at 7:30. And there was Back to School Night for the parents last night. And I had to meet with Christopher’s teachers at 8:00 yesterday morning. And tonight is Family Fun Night. It seems to never, ever end. I am exhausted and drained and at the end of my rope. I am pretty sure the kids are fried and frazzled now too. Yesterday, twice, I forgot to buckle Alexander in his car seat. I also forgot to put the car in Park at the top of the driveway. I could not, for the life of me, figure out why the car was beeping when the doors were open! I have been on the verge of a nervous breakdown more times than I can count.

So I am happy to report that it is now rainy and cold and gross out. I am happy to report that I hate the rain! I am happy to report that Alexander has no school today. So what does that mean? It means that we are now on my bed sharing a big bowl of popcorn. He is sipping apple cider and I am enjoying my Coke Zero. We made a great figure 8 track using the coffee table in my bedroom. If he wants to hang out all day I won’t mind in the least. Today I am not going to clean. Today I am not going to do any laundry. Ok, maybe I will do some, but today I won’t put any away! Today I am not going to tell Alexander what to do. Today I am not going to say no to television. Today we’ll cuddle up together and get cozy on my bed… maybe I’ll find time to soak in the tub… maybe we’ll even sneak in a nap… Let’s hope we don’t oversleep and forget to pick up the older two this afternoon. Today I might even just find my head somewhere. And if it continues to rain all weekend as it is supposed to do, we will hunker down and not go anywhere and not do anything but eat more popcorn and watch more movies and lounge in our pajamas. Hopefully by the end of the weekend someone will have found my head!

How long do I have to wait for this day to end?

It’s 8:52 and most school-aged children are asleep or at least in bed. Alexander is watching Blue’s Clue’s and the other two are upstairs. Any patience that I never had to begin with is shot. These days of single parenting are long and exhausting. Daddy came home on Saturday and was gone again on Sunday morning. Weekends are tough without him. The kids get at each other and start bickering. And then it never stops. I was fortunate to have been able to send Rebecca off to a friend’s house yesterday for most of the day. Unfortunately due to the rain Christopher’s soccer game was rescheduled for 4pm. It proved to be a long and tiring day. We went to the soccer game and all Rebecca did was whine and complain about how hot it was, how tired she was and how bored she was. She was a pleasure to sit with. Alexander entertained himself in the playground with all the younger siblings in yonder distance. We got home just after 6:00 and it was the usual crazy evening mad dash for showers, baths, getting clothes set for school, dinner, blah blah blah. Finally it was 8:30 and they were banished to their bedrooms. But no one was staying put. And then Christopher ripped the cover to his favorite magazine, my Pottery Barn Kids catalog. He is obsessed. It has Star Wars Bedding on the cover. He is obsessed with everything Star Wars. This is what he wants for Christmas. My kid wants sheets for Christmas! At 10:00 he came back down asking for a stapler! Request was immediately denied and he was shooed off to his bedroom. I followed suit right after… after locking, re-locking, and re-locking yet once more all the doors. I fell asleep listening to the local news, wearing my glasses.

This morning Alexander came in even before the sun thought about waking. It was tough. Brutal to be honest. But this is how our day starts. And has for 3 years now. I just suck it up… and complain! I got my coffee and his milk and I was rather grateful that he let me watch my morning television. Morning Joe is my program of choice when it is still dark out. Eventually he got restless and I put on Blue’s Clues on On Demand… Again! I wanted to shower. I needed to shower but I was just too comfortable in my bed. I could shower at the end of the day. So I did what I have been doing too much of these past few years, I shaved my legs in the sink and poured an entire bottle of baby powder on my hair to sop up all the oil. A white Lacoste shirt, some cute JCrew (outlet!) pants in a pretty blue and white pattern and I looked halfway decent!

The dishwasher needed emptying, the other kids needed rising and breakfast. I looked around my fridge, some almost too old strawberries could be cut up… What would I serve with them? And then I got the brilliantest idea! I made the kids breakfast kabobs alternating strawberries, banana chunks and banana bread. They looked delicious and the kids looked happy to see them. They actually looked happy to see fruit!

Eventually we got everyone out of the house in the nick of time. Then Alexander and I headed off toward the playground at the beach. Not before stopping at Starbucks for a Cup of Heaven. Seriously the best thing I have ever had. If you have never had a Pumpkin Spice Iced Latte then run out to your local Starbucks and get one! (I usually get a regular Pumpkin Spice Latte but it was just too hot out today. Girls, I am going to make some of you blush when I describe this drink as an Orgasm in a Cup! Seriously… It is that good!

So, temporarily happy am I, we set off to the beach and the sandcastle playground — called so because it’s large wooden structures resemble a sandcastle with all sorts of hidden paths to climb and follow that lead to different turrets and steps and slides. It really is quite awesome. Of course as soon as we get there I start to choke and tear up. I haven’t been in such a long time — so long in fact that Alexander did not recognize the place. As he ran around trying to decide what to play on first my mind’s internal video camera turned on. Playing in front of my eyes were pictures of Rebecca and Christopher at the same age. I saw every laughter and squeal of delight. How is it that time passes us so quickly. I was momentarily saddened by this. When everything was still so exciting and new to them. When everything was so magical. And then I see my little blond boy emitting those same squeals and sounds of laughter and I am brought back to the moment and I want to freeze it. I want it to be like this forever. And while the age difference between Alexander and the other two (4 and 6 years) has proven to be very challenging these past years, I am so grateful — eternally so — to have a chance to experience the thrills and sheer delight of childhood at its best all over again. I had my coffee and I had my New York Times. I could have relaxed and enjoyed them both, stopping for moments here and there to watch and applaud my 3 year old but I didn’t. I got off my ever expanding butt (no thanks to Pumpkin Spiced Lattes) and ran and jumped and climbed and went down all the slides with him. We were frozen in time, in that wonderful moment, for two and a half hours. And then I just had to get out of there. I had had enough. I was exhausted!

Alexander fell asleep on the ride home and I managed to sit and enjoy a sandwich and a Diet Coke that I later chased down with a peanut butter cookie with pieces of Reese’s Peanut Butter cup. (Gee, could that be why my scale is “broken?”) I had a nice hour and a half to myself before I was summonsed to read to Alexander and then play the Birthday Party Game. We were about to play a third time when I decided to look at the clock. Holy Smokes! We were late for pickup!

So off we went (rushed) to get Christopher to bring him home, change him into his soccer stuff and give him a snack and bring him to Other Christopher’s house and then go watch Becca play her soccer at school and then take her to skating and rush rush rush. As we sit on the Merritt Parkway stuck in traffic we decide we won’t get there and back in time. (It would take half the time to lace her up!) Rebecca is disappointed but she understands.

We have a half hour at home to relax. I check my email and make sandwiches for their dinner. Then off to get the Two Christophers and bring the other home and then get back to our house. By this time it is a little after 7 and Christopher needs to be fed and agrees to, Thank God, leftover pasta and they all three need to shower and the older two have homework. I have two pounds of cubed steak that I have to cook This Instant because the meat expires This Instant. Ugh. I decide to brown it and toss the cooked meat in to the crock pot with salsa, tomato sauce, garlic, onion, and black beans. We’ll have it for dinner tomorrow. It’ll be one less thing I will have to do then. I am tired. Exhausted. Grimy. Dirty.

Rebecca is struggling with her math. She is in the advanced section. (This she clearly did not get from Moi.) In 4th grade she has to round to the nearest tenth thousand, hundredth thousand or million. In Fourth Grade! I can barely handle this… Heck we all know I ain’t smarter than a Fifth Grader. Daddy calls, and he is able to help a little over the phone. But she is overwhelmed and tired and she misses him dearly. He decides he will come home to kiss the kids goodnight. I love this idea and I hate it at once. It’s late and the kids need to sleep. And now Rebecca has to get up early. I am not putting Alexander to bed because I would like him to see Daddy too. But there is nothing more than I want than my bed and a shower. I want him to stop by. But I don’t. I don’t want to have them up for one minute longer.

It is now 9:54 and Daddy has come and gone. Two out of three are sleeping. I want to finish this before I forget what I was going to say, which I have already done at least 47 times already. I have brought my wine and my laptop up to bed. I have on one of Daddy’s Tshirts. I still need to shower. It’s getting late and I wonder if I should do it now or in the morning. I have to get Rebecca up again at 6:00 and a new day will dawn.

“Buggie Report” Why I am glad yesterday is over but today’s not much better…

Yesterday was Alexander’s true Birthday but we celebrated it on Saturday because Daddy had to take off (for a month… yikes!) and Christopher had a soccer game in Greenwich and it was an all around too crazy kind of a day to try to squeeze in a Birthday party. So glad we had it on Saturday where he was able to be Prince for the Day and open his presents and have his cake and eat it too.

Yesterday was just a strange day. We should have been celebrating the Birthday boy but it just was not possible with everything that was going on. Don was trying to pack and get all his stuff together… our soccer games were on again, off again, on again thanks to the wet fields from Hanna. Alexander was in a rare mood. As was his older sister. My only saving grace was that Christopher was almost angelic all day. (I say almost because I am sure he had to have done something wrong!) My patience was tested on many occasions through the day. Rebecca did not want to go to soccer. She did not want to be at soccer once she was there. She was not at all quiet about that fact. Alexander found every excuse under the sun to whine and when he was not whining he thought I would be fun to cling to, climb on, jump all over. My name is Jessica not Jungle Jim… grrrr….

I did manage to take some simply breath-taking gorgeous action shots of my handsome little devil on the run and caught some magnificent soccer maneuvers. And then my heart sank 12 feet when I glanced down and saw that there was no CF card in the camera. Rebecca was hungry. Rebecca was hot. Rebecca was thirsty. This went on for nearly 2 hours.

The one respite was when someone kicked the ball out of bounds and Christopher came over to the sideline. He looked up for a moment and lost focus. He saw me there with his brother and his sister. The biggest smile came over him as he shouted for all the spectators to hear, “Hi Momma! Hi Owie! I love you Momma! I love you Owie!” He blew us a kiss and he was off.

To tell you the truth I don’t remember much past 5pm last night… I remember blocking out noise — screaming, hollering, etc… Then I remember crawling into bed exhausted and so very glad the day was over.

I woke up today certain that it was going to be better. It had to, really. And it was for a while. A short while. I took the older two to school and as soon as we stepped out of the car Alexander insisted on being carried. I was not about to carry him and so the whining began. And never stopped.

We returned home to bake his Birthday cupcakes for school tomorrow. Of course I had some cleaning and tidying and vacuuming and picking up to do before-hand. Because don’t you always feel the need to get everything spotless before you are about to make a bigger mess? Finally everything is ready and I go in to the fridge to get the necessary ingredients. I notice the fridge is a mess and start to go through and toss everything in sight. I placed a container of pasta salad on the counter. Well, someone didn’t put the lid on properly and the whole thing tumbled out of my hand and landed, splat!, on the floor. Arghhhh. After the fridge had been cleaned and the mess cleaned up from the floor we began our cupcakes. Like always Alexander needs sprinkles. In and on everything. Those too went a tumblin’ down… all over the floor! Finally the cupcake batter is made and poured in to the lined tins. I have averted further disaster and am left to clean our mess. Alexander wants to play with his new Play Doh ice cream parlor toy and I set him up at the table. 10 minutes later he is done. And teeny tiny bits of Play Doh adorn my clean kitchen floor. While I get down on all fours I see Alexander over at my desk from the corner of my eye. This is never a good thing. He is spinning my Rolodex. Index cards come flying out. Not in alphabetical order. Not in any kind of order. I love my Rolodex. I need paper. Electronics can let you down. Paper never does. Unless Alexander, of course, gets a hold of it. Arghhhh. It’s only Noon at this point. The day is young. Too young.

Soon the cupcakes are out and need to be cooled. The banana bread (because I couldn’t bear to throw away any more bananas) is ready to go in. The banana bread should be bananas muffins but the muffin tins were full! Eventually the afternoon passes on and relatively easily. Until I remember the dead mouse at the end of the driveway. The dead mouse that somehow needs to be moved. Off my driveway. And Daddy is not around to help me. I need to put on my big girl panties, suck it up and do it. The Country Mouse and The City Girl. I’ll take Manhattan. Anytime. Eeeeek!!! A mouse! Alexander accompanies me to the garage. We get an old metal shovel. A really heavy one. The kind that could do serious damage if it landed on someone’s head. I went down the driveway with a determination. But the mouse wouldn’t slide onto the shovel the way I thought it would. I could feel it’s solid dead weight. At one point I asked Alexander to get me a big stick. I used the big stick to help nudge the mouse on to the shovel. Finally I had it. There. What next? I hoisted my shovel over my shoulder careful not to let the mouse fall off and walked over to the edge of the property and flung! I screamed. I screamed a lot. Alexander laughed. Alexander laughed a lot. At me!

It’s 9:52 and the kids are in bed. I have just made a delicious marscapone and cream cheese frosting with a little hint of honey in it. The kids will get to have some in the morning on top of their warm banana yogurt bread. I will go to bed dreaming sweet dreams knowing that all three kids will be in school tomorrow. About me missing Alexander the other day? I’m so over it!

the sweetest thing

By late morning I was getting irritated with all my kids. Rebecca decided that nothing was going to make her happy and she did nothing but whine about anything and everything. Clearly there would be no pleasing her today. Alexander is the most un-self sufficient kid out there — and was expecting me to do everything for him. Don was grumpy-grouchy and being a jerk. We had no plans for the day and I, myself, was seriously wondering how we were going to get through.

I was about to write my
List of 10 reasons not to have kids.

1. I would answer to no one!
2. I would take no orders from people under 5 feet tall
3. I would be able to go to the store and back in 5 minutes flat instead of it taking half a day
4. No more Cartoon Network
5. I would have complete control of televisions and remotes, all of them!
6. I would be able to go to the bathroom without everyone wanting to pile in on top of me
7. Clean toilets!
8. No more rooms looking like they have violently vomited toys all over the place
9. I would never have to hear “But thaaaaaaaaaaat’s nooooooooottttttt faaaaaaaiiiiiiiirrrrr!”
10. peace, quiet and sanity….

(Okay, that’s 12 things!)

So Alexander was starting to annoy me and Rebecca was irritating me and I knew that I had to get out of the house and away from them. Well, I ended up being successful on one front… I got out of the house! They both wanted to come with me to the tomato farm, herb farm and bakery. So I let them. (I couldn’t bear the thought of the whining that would ensue my firm “No!”) And, admittedly they were really pretty good while we ran our errands. When we came home I made a nice lunch of salad, sliced tomatoes, French bread, cheese, salami and hummus. They even behaved fairly well through the meal.

After our little picnic was over (we ate outside — had to as it was so glorious out there!) I pitched some balls to Christopher as I had promised earlier in the morning. The problem is I am a terrible pitcher and he is a pretty good hitter. But not good enough to make up for my terrible pitching. We weren’t doing so well today. He hit a few great ones, but he also had quite a few strikes, many foul balls and many complete misses. I told Christopher that he should really play with Daddy or use his pitching machine. (I couldn’t get away fast enough!) But Christopher didn’t want his father. He didn’t want his pitching machine either. “It’s okay, Momma,” he replied when I told him I was terrible (read sucked!) at pitching. “I just want to be with you!”