Bad Good Days

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I went to my parents house today for a little family get together and early Fathers Day celebration.

After eating the requisite grilled meat and other cookout fare, we started a game of corn hole. It started out slow, with me showing off my excellent skills of throwing past the board. My 8 year old was my partner, and together we managed to end the game at 11 – 0. We did not win.

My parents then joined, my mom partnered with my brother in law, and my dad with my sister.

Since the parents were standing at the same board, they didn’t realize they were on different teams until about halfway through their game. Thanks to skills of their partners, that game lasted much longer than my 10 minute warm up session.

At one point I decided to go inside and start cleaning up so we could bring out the cake.

I watched my family from the kitchen window as I worked.  I saw my parents laughing, really laughing. It was the kind of laughing we took for granted before Joe died. That completely happy in the moment laughing that is so hard to chase down since he left us.

Of course, when I feel happiness, I feel Joe’s loss right along with it. I saw my family, and I especially noticed that I DIDN’T see my brother. He wasn’t laughing with us as we teased Dad about how he used to mix all the old cereal together when we were growing up. He wasn’t making fun of the parents with us as they learned how to navigate the game of corn hole. He wasn’t there. But his loss was there with us, always with us.

I probably imagined what Joe would say or do about something at least 10 times today. Him being there, and being healthy with us would have been so wonderful. And it hurts to laugh without him.

As I left them, my mom walked me to the door. As we said our goodbyes, she put my thoughts into words. She had felt his loss today, like every day. And because of that, every day is a bad day automatically. Today was a bad day and a good day, and we have to get used to this.

Cardboard Joe

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My brother has been gone for 6 months.

I still try to pretend it’s not true, but sometimes reality just smacks you in the face.

Like at Easter.

Joe made the punch for holidays at moms house. It was his thing, none of us knew how he did it, but somehow he mixed an awesome pink concoction with floating islands of sherbet just perfect for toasting over croissants and cheesy potatoes.

So, we made the punch because we feel maybe that not having punch would make us feel worse and miss Joe more. Having it gives us a chance to remember the good times with him, although the punch this year was definitely not on par with what he could have made for us.

And it makes us miss him anyway.

I used to say I wanted to get a life sized cardboard cutout of my brother. Just to have around. I really miss his smile, his personality, just him in general.

I think maybe sometimes it would be cool to have “him” in our holiday photos, posing with a cup of punch…. it would feel like he was still there a bit.

It wouldn’t replace him though. It wouldn’t talk or laugh back…. and I think the worst thing would be that it wouldn’t age as the rest of us aged. And I could never throw it away, it would feel like I was throwing my brother away.

So maybe no cardboard cutout.

Facing the harsh reality

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We just got back from a week long vacation in Mexico.

Like last year, we spent a week sunning, swimming, stuffing our faces, napping, and waking up to start the cycle all over again.

As is the case with all good things, it was over too fast.

Even though I had gotten to the point of just eating fruit for breakfast because I simply could not stuff myself three times a day for a whole week…. I still enjoyed it.

Coming home for me meant remembering how to cook, ugh. And before that, going to the grocery store and buying food to do something with at home.

The kids and I walked through Trader Joe’s in a daze, them asking why can’t we just live in Mexico, me trying to find that secret aisle that will have everything I need to make fast, easy, delicious, healthy dinners for the next week without having to THINK about it.

The 4 year old probably got hit the hardest since we’ve been back home.

It didn’t take her more than a couple days on vacation to recognize what “all inclusive” means in terms of eating options…. and before long she stopped going up to the buffet with me all together. Instead, she chose to relax at the table, and airily directed me to bring her back an assortment of things to try.

Today, on our first morning back, she is requesting sushi, chocolate pastry, and maybe a waffle if it’s not too much trouble.

The stark reality of cold cereal and orange juice left her looking a little shell shocked…..

 

 

 

Identity theft

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I’m sitting on the floor as Jenna paces around me, trying to get the boys to come up from the basement.

She yells for them to come up, they ignore her.

Then she has a great idea.

She whispers to me, “I’m pretending I’m you….”

Yells again:

“I’m momma!!, Come upstairs!”

Big smile on her face, this is definitely going to work.

Looks at me, leans over and whispers again:

“Don’t worry….you’re still you….”

Whew!

Am I sick, or do I just hate everyone?

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Yesterday was supposed to be a great day. The husband didn’t have much going on at work, so we had “talked about” going to a mall across town with the little ones.

We’d stroll around, basking in our love of each other. Hold hands over pretzel nuggets in the food court. Find all the pants we could ever need for Sammy, the kind for skinny boys who need an adjustable waist but also very long legs. Find the perfect jean skirt for Jenna so she can wear her blue and white striped tights with red hearts on the knees.

Goals, I had goals yesterday.

Then, yesterday actually happened. I did my usual Sunday stuff. Cleaned, washed floors. Took Jenna shopping for groceries. Came back. Built a model of the Eiffel tower in toothpicks. Cured cancer…… all while the husband was……somewhere…….doing whatever he was doing in the house. On the phone with his family, on his computer, drinking his coffee…..

At 2pm I asked him, as he stood in his wife-beater and shorts, if he was planning on getting dressed today? He thought he might eventually. He always seems so surprised to find out the actual time after he’s putzed around for hours.

 

 

We didn’t get to the mall he wanted to visit, but instead he insisted on rushing to the mall close to our home to see if we could at least find pants for Sammy. Dreams of pretzel nuggets were dashed.

It didn’t go well. I was annoyed, as I often am when faced with someone who has different time management strategies than me. I DID find the jean skirt for Jenna that would have been perfect with her adorable striped tights, and a pair of pants for my tall, skinny boy.

Unfortunately, my black mood would not allow me to be courteous to the rude lady manning the cash register, and I chose to leave all the clothes behind in a fit of pique that only hurt myself as I walked away. The husband was wandering around in other departments at this time, and so without knowing it, was saddled with the burden of somehow being responsible for me not being able to buy the clothes I wanted as he wasn’t by my side to smooth things over with the mean monster lady in the kids department.

The drive home…silent. We had a dinner to get ready for and I was thinking of what I needed to do for me and the kids to make it on time. Also thinking about that jean skirt. And pretty much disliking everyone and everything in general. Ever feel like that?

It wasn’t until we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant later….  I realized that my crap feelings weren’t just psychological. I also FELT like crap. My nose was stuffy and getting stuffier, and starting to leak like a faucet. I had a weird feeling in my throat, like a pre-tickle…. just a little taste of something to come. My eyes were glassy…

I was getting sick!!  No wonder I felt like kicking someone. It all made sense, and actually made my mood better-as I realized I probably did still love my husband after all.

Whew.

 

 

Caskets of gems….

Moenich World Coin Grab Bag - 50 Coin Assortment

So last night, it was a stay up late night for me and the husband with the two little ones. Sammy had been playing his kindle, and I let him….. and then I checked my email before heading to bed around midnight.

I find 29. TWENTY-NINE amazon digital receipts… for things like “pile of gems”, “bag of gems”, “casket of gems”, and coins, all sorts of coins and containers of coins. “Unlimited energy”….. how much were these things? I opened the first email. $20.00!!!!!!   second email. Another $20.00!!!!!  Oh, wait!!  $53.99!!!   Gems are expensive!!!  Lots and lots of expensive gems, and coins, to the tune of over SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS. REAL dollars…. charged to my Amazon account.

Needless to say, bad words were said. Hands went flying…. Daddy intervened, saving a life I’m sure. My hands shook as I called Amazon digital customer service, who thank GOD are open 24 hours a day it seems. And miraculously, the guy on the phone, Luke, fixed it for me.

First he laughed. And laughed pretty much throughout the call. I told him I didn’t realize the kid could purchase anything because I had parental controls set, no purchases without a password!

Apparently, since I gave him access to the games he was allowed to play, he can STILL purchase apps within the game. And extra lives, coins, gems, all that good stuff. In one hour, he spent a total of $691 and change. Why? Because he wants to be better than his friends at this game.

The game by the way, which doesn’t exist in our home anymore. Kindle is on lockdown forever. FOREVER.

I would like to say that he learned his lesson…

I KNOW that I learned mine.

 

 

We like nuts

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The 3 year old is going to be 4 in a matter of days. It’s pretty exciting, especially since each of the ninja turtles has called her personally-so she says-and they are in fierce competition with each other to get her the best gift. I can’t wait!

She’s growing up, uses the word “actually” a lot.

Like last week…. I picked the two youngest up from school and she is dying of starvation in the back seat. Begging to eat right now. NOW! So I decide to take them to a local place and eat with them, then bring dinner home for their dad.

As we get our food, I say to her “….and you were crying about being so hungry….”. she tell me, “actually, I wasn’t crying. I was whining.”

Touché.

She makes me laugh, and I’m enjoying it and also sad because this age is so awesome and goes so fast…… and she’s the last one, the last one!!!

Today though… takes the cake.

She’s reading, at the point where she can read simple sentences and is learning rules about letter sounds. She got how “SH” together make the sssshhhhh sound, and “TH” have their special sound. Today was a very special lesson about the importance of the silent “E” at the end of some words.

Her teacher sends some books home for her to read each week, I laughed at the title of one of them “We like nuts”. Of course, that’s just my mind in the gutter…..

She’s reading to me today, as I cook dinner. Sounding out her words like a champ. She gets to the nuts book….. opens and starts to read.

I hear “I lick nuts….”

!!???!!

We talked about the silent “E”.  How it makes the “I” have the long sound…. because we LIKE nuts….we just like them. that’s all.

 

 

 

Sweet rewards of parenting

 

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My teenage son has contributed to the vast majority of my gray hairs, and although I love him a crazy amount, he also makes me crazy.

From his special ability to only see things from his own viewpoint, rendering himself the victim in every possible scenario….. to his disregard for a clean organized room and bathroom which is all I really will ever want from him for Christmas….

It is sometimes quite a challenge.

And, you know, he’s a teenager. So multiply everything by 5 million because if those two chin hairs are any indication….hormones are raging, and rational thought is out the window.

Something is happening though…

Here is an example of something that kind of gives me hope that he might come out the other side of puberty in a good place.

He was at his dads house Monday, because that’s one of his nights with his dad. I get a call from him, around the time I need to put the little ones to bed, asking if I can iron some clothes if he brings them over because he forgot he needed to dress up for school.

“Don’t you guys have an iron??”

He doesn’t want his dad to iron his clothes, and he doesn’t want to….because neither one is capable of doing it well, not as well as me.

This is true….but also designed to inflate my domestic ego so I can’t resist demonstrating my mad ironing skills.

It works. He comes over and hands me a shirt that looks like-and probably was-balled up somewhere before it was fully dry, and a pair of pants with questionable history of cleanliness.

I iron them both, he takes them and leaves.

Later that night, I get a text.

Good night mom, love you. Thank you for everything you do for me. By the way  you need to step it up, you’ve been slacking lately. JK, love you but for real pick it up get your head out of the gutter, JK love you. Tell Gasan to keep up the good work, he’s been ballin lately.

Interpretation: I love you mom. I’m 15 and on the verge of being a man, but still kind of a little boy and I know maybe I’m hard to deal with but I’ll never actually admit that…but we can both just “know it” and I’m going to cover up any expression of feelings with little odd remarks about you not doing your domestic duties well enough and a nod to your husband for being a cool guy.

Progress people. I’ll take what I can get.

 

 

 

Juggling

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I’ve been going through an adjustment the past month or so, some changes in the office that have required me to take a LOT of work home with me. Instead of sitting up at 1am thinking of good blog topics, I’m typing away, bleary eyed, preparing for patients the following day.

The last few days, something occurred to me.

I feel like I can breathe again…..

It’s what happens when you don’t have a choice but to tackle the obstacle in your path. You adapt whether you want to or not. Things find a way to settle in, and you get used to it.

Not that I love the extra time I’m spending….. but at least it’s not overwhelming anymore.

And then I think about what I do in a day, in a week…geez, it’s a lot!

Get up early, shower and get ready for work before I force the two youngest out of bed to get dressed, fed, and out the door to school. We leave by 7:30, which still causes some internal crying and gnashing of teeth, but I act like I love it.

Drop kids off, and depending on the day I may go to the office, or a facility to see patients. Or I may stay at school for an hour and help with a project before rushing off to work. Driving usually to 2 places, timing myself down to the last second so I see enough patients yet get out in time to pick up the kids after school.

Multiple phone calls to different facilities, patients families, my own personal business as I’m driving….

Getting homes means homework with the 1st grader, reading with the preschooler, dinner, cleaning up, all the household stuff like pesky laundry that can’t figure out how to wash itself…..

millions of little things like stop at post office to mail the rental contract that I just co-signed so the oldest can rent a house with some friends at college next year. And not worry at all about my credit being ruined if no one decides to pay…….  Call the insurance company about some missing social security number, email the teachers to coordinate time to come in and paint with the kids for the school project that’s due next month…….

And then after kids are in bed, I can get started on my own “homework”, reviewing prescriptions refill requests, and loading patient data for the next day. Maybe having some tea and cookie. Or six. Going to bed around 1:30am, trying to stay awake to read ’til 2…..

Does it sound terrible?

Honestly, I know I’m not unique at all in my busy life. Most of us are juggling all day long, right?

But I don’t know what I’d really change right now. Overall, I’m happy. I’m lucky to have my kids, my home, my job (s), even though I think waking up early is crap, I just count down to the weekends, and summer…..and look forward to being 76, because surely by then I will be sleeping in every single glorious day.

So for now, I will post when I get time to breathe, usually at odd hours when I’m sitting quietly in my home and world is asleep all around me. Also, because as everyone knows, Twix and snickers are magically calorie free during the hours of 12-2am.

 

 

 

Apples, Hay, and Tacos

My plans for a playdate are not usually very exciting, so I have my friend to thank for the idea of taking the kids somewhere new today.

I may have been apple picking as a child…. I have vague memories of paper bags and apples on the ground…but no sense of whether I enjoyed it or not. Today I got to try it with the kids at Hillcrest Orchards.

It was a perfect day, sunny and in the low 70’s, and the place was big enough to accommodate everyone without seeming crowded.

Of course there is the requisite hay maze……

As well as the farm-themed cut out boards for the kids to pose as animals, farmers, or pumpkins…..

We finally headed off to the orchard to put the kids to work, getting there on a rickety tractor pulled wagon of course.

We picked honey crisp today, and at first I thought the rows of trees were just baby saplings. I was shocked to see them bearing fruit, an amazing amount compared to their tiny size. Super sweet, we were allowed to eat them right off the trees. Bonus that the kids found that irresistible. Jenna was shocked to find seeds in the middle of her apple….because she has only ever eaten her apples sliced on a plate before. Eating food from it’s original source, off the tree in this case, instead of from the fruit bowl seemed to stimulate their appetites. I wonder what she would do if I pointed at a chicken and told her that’s where her chicken tenders come from??

There were more things for the kids to do, like a track for go cart type bikes. I can’t show you a picture because I spent my time there pushing Sammy on his, or riding Jenna on the back of mine. GREAT workout, but not fond of the unattractive panting after I was finished.

 

More acceptable ride that doesn’t require mom to exert herself…

 

Didn’t mean for this to be freaky…but reminds me of “The Ring” and if she had started crawling on the ceiling I would have left her there…

 

And the day would not be complete without dried corn stuck in everyone’s pants

 

And finally. The best part. The grand finale of my trip. The reason I will definitely more than consider going back……..

Before we left we wanted snacks. There was a little eatery inside with cider, water, apple cinnamon donuts and cookies.  There was a food truck outside, with a menu posted on it’s side.

I was amazed at the selection of food…. and please, please forgive me for not having a picture of the actual menu. I can recite a couple things by heart…. such as the all beef hot dog in toasted pretzel bun, complimented by apple chutney and cheddar cheese….. or how about the rosemary parmesan fries, complete with garlic aioli dipping sauce? Or my personal favorite….. drum roll please….. butternut squash and black bean tacos. Oh my god. I’m so glad I ordered them, because they were amazing. Not what I expected from a food truck at this farm out in the boonies.

I did not take photos of my food because 1. I didn’t want to look weird and 2. I ate it way too fast. But I checked Pinterest and found something close to just give you a tiny idea….

fries

Trust me when I say the tacos and fries I ate today were so much better looking and tasting than these examples, but you’ll have to trust me unless you check out Hillcrest Orchards yourself.