Healthy?

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I’ve been pretty stressed out lately.  With the move and selling the house and still not owning a new house, it’s been a tough month (or two).  My eating and drinking habits have gotten a bit out of control.  I wasn’t going to the gym very often either.  So, as I do every time this happens, I decided to start eating healthy and not drinking so much.  I hate it.  Also, I’m not super good at it.

I did replace one of my breakfasts this week with juice.  Juice made of kale, carrots, apples, and ginger.  Ugh.  It was not really very good but I drank the whole thing.  Tonight, I was too busy getting the kids’ dinners ready (it was leftover night) and didn’t have time to make my own dinner before 7.  That’s the cutoff.  No food after 7.  It’s 9:30 and I am really regretting making plates of food for the children since they ate two bites each of dinner.  

I wanted to drink more water and less wine.  I don’t really like water.  I don’t know why, but I’ve never been a big water fan.  Normally, I drink coffee until wine.  Lately, I’ve been drinking coffee and then water.  Sometimes, I put a lime in it.  Lime water.  That’s the stuff.  I still don’t like it, but it’s not 300 calories or whatever a delicious glass of pinot is.

So not eating as much and not drinking as much.  What I do eat, I’m not sure is actually healthier.  It’s just not as much.  Or as late.

Moving is the worst

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We’re finally moved into our new house.  Hopefully, it’s our new house.  Right now we’re just renting it.  We’re aren’t renting to own; we’re renting a vacant house that is owned by people who don’t want it anymore and stopped paying for it.  It’s a short sale, which means we are dealing with the bank, not the owners.  Banks do things in their own time, which is dumb.  We are hoping to own it by the new year.  Which basically means that I can’t paint, hang pictures, or do anything to make it “homey” until after Christmas.  

There was an issue when we moved out of our old house that we couldn’t take the “window coverings”.  We did.  They made us give them back.  I specifically told our agent I wanted to keep them, but he forgot.  He gave me $500 to make up for it.  It kind of did.  He first offered the $500 to the people who were buying our old house.  They wanted the curtains more than the money.  What kind of black-hearted assholes would rather take MY curtains than $500?  Add this to the fact that they made us replace a perfectly functional garbage disposal and I really dislike these people.  I know where they live and when I’m thinking about my curtains, I sign them up to get junk mail.

The only smooth thing about this move, was actually moving our crap from one house to the other.  Having been badly mistreated by movers before, I decided to go with an actual (expensive) moving company.  They were nice, quick, clean and came in under budget.  It was fantastic.  I was very happy about that part.  

I changed my address with my bank, on my driver’s license, and with the kids’ doctor.  I forgot to change it with Ellie’s gymnastics, my church and our Internet provider.  That meant two rejected automatic payments and 10 days without reliable Internet.  Thankfully, one of our neighbors doesn’t require a password for their network.  

The bottom line is that this is a great house.  It’s bigger than the old one and has a pool.  The bathroom situation is the same except now there is a half bath for guests, so they don’t have to see the babies’ bath toys.  Everyone has bigger rooms and there is a playroom and an office space.  I’m very happy with the house and the neighborhood.  I can’t wait until we can really make it ours.

More on houses

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So we listed our house to be sold.  It’s officially on the market.  There is a lockbox with my key in it and pictures of the inside of my pantry on the internet.  We are ready to go.

Until it is actually sold I have to keep the house basically spotless.  I remember doing that when we sold our house in Raleigh.  I had one 2-year-old boy and a full-time job.  So we weren’t home during the day and he went to bed at 7, so it was hard, but not super hard.  This time, super hard.  

Every morning before we leave to take James and Ellie to school, I put every dish in the dishwasher, make every bed, pick up every toy and clean every counter.  This may be what you do anyway, but this is not normal for me.  Usually we leave our breakfast dishes out until I get back from drop-off.  I am not really a bed maker.  Who cares about tidy beds?  Not me.  I usually do clean the counters, but not obsessively.  It’s been two days and I’m not sure I can keep this up.  The kids have been watching a lot of tv because I don’t want to clean up whatever mess they make with toys.  Let’s hope this doesn’t take too long.

This weekend we are planning on being out of the house a lot because my brother and his family are visiting and it is Jeff’s birthday on Saturday.  I am hoping it gets shown about twenty times and everyone who sees it makes us an offer over asking price.  Realistically, I know it could take weeks.  Weeks.  The thought of that sort of makes me sick to my stomach.

At the same time, we put an offer in on a short sale house.  Again, that process could take weeks.  Or not.  I’m more worried that we will have two houses than anything else.  I can’t sleep and have developed alarmingly bad skin in the last week because of the stress of it.  

All in all, buying and selling houses is just about the most stressful thing adults can do. Fortunately, our new house has a pool and stairs, which were James’ only criteria.  Knowing that I have made my son’s childhood that much better does help a bit.  Not completely, but a bit.

What is a good mom?

My friends and I have been pondering this for this last few years: am I a good mom?  It came up yesterday or today, but really, we’ve each been thinking about it since we became mothers.  Are we really doing a good job?  By what measure are we doing a good job?  How do we know if we are doing a good job?  Here’s the kicker, what if we’re doing our best, but it’s still not good enough?

I do not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day beyond wearing green.  I don’t dye the water in our toilet green and tell my kids a leprechaun peed in it. My Elf on the Shelf just sits wherever I remember at 11 PM to put him (or 5 AM).  He doesn’t party with Barbie and Ken.  I rarely, like for birthdays only, cut lunch sandwiches with a cookie cutter.  I have never made pancakes into shapes.  I don’t have daily craft time.  I don’t do flash cards (which is my husband’s measurement of awesome mom).  I won’t home school.  (Shudder)

I don’t beat them.  I don’t deprive them of food (they even have snacks half an hour before dinner!).  I don’t deny them sleep.  I don’t lock them in confined, dark spaces for hours on end.  I have never allowed anyone else to do any of those things.  

I lose my patience and temper.  I give lots of hugs.  I yell.  I kiss tummies.  I turn the tv on when I need quiet time.  I play Candy Land, Memory and Princess Cupcake Tea Party whenever asked (within reason).  I drive miles so James can go to school with his best friend and Ellie can do gymnastics.  

Am I a good mom?  Like everyone else, I am doing the best I can.  I wish I never lost my patience and that we all made Christmas ornaments for our family and friends together.  That is just not realistic.  That’s not me and that’s not them.  If I were a better mom, maybe they would be better kids.  But, they are mostly fun and I think I am mostly fun.  Sometimes they are naughty and sometimes I am angry.  

How do we know if it’s enough?  My measure is if my children are happy, positively contributing members of society.  Of course, I won’t know if I’ve succeeded for years.  That’s probably for the best.  I am not ready to know yet.  If James ends up a drug addict, unable to deal with reality; Ellie is a car thief looking for thrills and not caring about the innocent victims of her crimes; and Katie is a stripper trying to get attention from all the wrong places then I’ll know I’ve failed.  Maybe I’ll shoot for two out of three.

House hunting

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When we bought our current house we had one 2 and a half year old child.  Now we have three kids who are all totally mobile.  Five years ago, 1900 square feet was plenty.  We had an extra bedroom and an office and a playroom.  Now everyone has their own bedroom and the playroom has a cordoned-off area where Jeff’s desk, guitar case and amp are stored.  Not ideal.

So, we are looking for a house.  What I mean is, I check realtor.com and Zillow every thirty minutes for houses with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms with a bonus room and an office.  It’s not proving especially easy.  I have found a few houses that meet the basic criteria, only to find that I’d most likely be living next to a drug dealer or monster truck owner.  House hunting used to be fun, now it’s a chore.

We went to a few model houses last weekend.  Besides being hot and sweaty, it was discouraging.  The list prices for these houses are not even remotely how much they cost.  We were told to expect a 15-20% increase once we added all of our options.  Like walls and floors.  Helpful.  

To add to my frustration, we got a real estate agent this week.  He has sent me houses that are $25K more than we told him was our upper limit.  Thanks, dude.  Then, in retaliation for our rebuke, he sent us houses so far away it would take Jeff two hours to get home.  I’m sure we get it all worked out, but I’m not totally on-board just yet.  

I’ve been told by more than one person that it will all work out in the end.  Our house is fine for us for a while still (this is from people whose houses are 3000 square feet and no kids).  We shouldn’t settle.  Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Then it occurs to me that these are First World Problems, a term that I’ve heard about a billion times in the last few weeks.  I know I am being very “first world” when I demand each of my kids have their own room, I have a walk-in closet, a walk-in pantry, a laundry room with cabinets and a sink, and an eat-in kitchen with a perpendicular living room.  I should be happy with what I have and stop bitching.  Everyone is healthy, mostly happy (more on that later), and wanting for nothing.  

Of course, when I put it like that, I just feel worse for being so selfish and lame.  It’s a no-win situation.  Awesome.

I am THAT blogger now, thanks to my kids

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I am writing this from the Starbucks in a Barnes & Noble.  I have become THAT blogger. It is 6:12 and I have abandoned my children to the care of their father.  He will hopefully be explaining to them that their behavior today caused to me to quit their presence the minute he walked in the door.  I had to get away from them.  Immediately.

The day started promisingly.  We went to the gym and had plans to go to the library and a splash pad.  Our plans were quickly derailed.  Katie, who has been suffering from some mystery little kid stomach thing, had explosive diarrhea.  Like, it was dripping from her diaper onto the floor.  They had to wash her shoes.  It was so gross.  Besides having to leave the gym, we couldn’t go to the splash pad.  The other children couldn’t comprehend the reality of the situation.  “Can’t we leave her at home?”  “She can watch!  She loves to watch me play while you hold her!”  “She hasn’t pooped since it was dripping from her pants.  She can come now!”  They were furious when none of their arguments proved persuasive enough.

After her nap, we decided we needed Gatorade to help her feel better.  A trip to Wal-Mart, which is the closest store to us, used up my patience.  “I want to ride in the cart!”  “I want out!”  “Can you carry me?”  “Watch me touch everything in this aisle!”  

Unfortunately, the library really couldn’t be put off.  We had books due.  I could have just put them in the drive-thru return.  I should have done that.  But, I pushed it.  I wanted another book.  I’m on a reading kick and I want to continue it.  After a stern admonition to be quiet and just look at the super cool doll house in the children’s section, I went to the fiction section with Katie.  Within a minute, maybe two, I heard Ellie’s screams of joy reverberate through the library.  She and James were playing tag around the doll house display case.  I ran, awkwardly in flip-flops while carrying Katie, to them and dragged them out.  I really couldn’t have been more embarrassed.  It was so terrible.

Okay, so we’re home.  Katie and Ellie nap.  James is sent to his room to “think about how he can improve his behavior and set a better example for his sisters.”  Instead, he decides to pretend he is Nik Wallenda and walk across his windowsill.  He falls, of course.  He landed on his cushy Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair (thanks for that purchase, Mom!  Still using it, albeit not for its intended purpose) and was fine.  Except that he managed to pull down his curtains and curtain rod in the process.  To his credit, he immediately confessed.  Before I saw the damage we discussed how even though the curtains coming down was an “accident”, walking on the windowsill certainly wasn’t and he can’t really claim no fault.  After I repaired the damage, which was minimal really, I told him he wouldn’t be able to play his new Indiana Jones 2 Wii game.  You’d have thought I told him I was going to take a hammer to the whole game system.  Then he said it.  “You’re the worst mom ever and I hate you.  I’m going to tell all my friends that you are the worst mom.  They are going to hate you too.”

He’s said he hates me before.  I’ve been called the worst mom before.  This time was not totally different.  But after taking the whole day of crap, pun intended, this was the last straw.  I cried.  I cried a lot.  I didn’t get mad when Katie had the grossest diaper in the history of Mountainside Fitness (their words) (not that I would blame her for having intestinal distress, but I wasn’t even mad about the situation, I was so calm!).   I didn’t yell when they were running up and down the paint aisle at Wal-Mart yelling for an employee to open the spray paint cage.  I didn’t yell in the library, just snatched them up and quickly escaped the disapproving eyes.  I thought I’d actually been a pretty good mom today.  I guess not.  I was the worst.  I am hated.

So, I’m here.  In the B&N Starbucks.  Blogging.  Ugh.  I want to slap myself.  At least I’m the only one doing it.  I’m not in a group of bloggers, blogging about bloggers.  That would be almost as embarrassing as my kids playing scream tag in a library.

The Husband

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I’m going to do something I very rarely do.  I am going to complain about my husband in a public forum.  I joke about him, sure, but I hardly ever actually complain about him to anyone other than my closest friends.  But he is doing something that I can’t keep to myself any longer.  He is leaving the toilet lid up.

Okay, I know this a common fault of many men.  And, until recently, I really hadn’t cared at all that he did this.  I always felt like it was no big deal.  I think it’s sort of gross, but I keep my toothbrush very far from the toilet, so whatever.  But then Katie started becoming interested in the toilet.  Now, we have a problem on our hands.

This was never a problem with James.  He wanted nothing to do with toilets as a toddler.  Ellie got into the toilet once or twice.  I screamed my disgust and she didn’t do it again.  Katie is a different story.  She doesn’t seem to be be overly bothered by my screaming.  I think it entertains her, to be honest.  She loves putting her hands in the water and dropping things in it.  She also likes to flush it.  She just giggles with delight.  It would cute if I weren’t gagging.

The easiest solution to this gross problem is to just put the lid down.  She can’t lift it, so there you go.  As I ALWAYS put the lid down, I thought it would be no big deal for Jeff to do likewise.  Oh no.  Somehow he cannot be bothered with the simple task of lowering the lid.  He can’t even be troubled to drop it or slam it down.  

I am not a nagging wife.  I think he’d agree that I haven’t nagged him about much in our 15 years together.  But about this, I am willing to win the all-time best nagging wife lifetime achievement award.  It is just so super gross!  I have asked nicely.  I have yelled.  I have cursed him loudly while slamming the lid down with such force that it rebounds and has to be slammed a second, less-forcefully, time.  I have tried to lay out logical arguments as to why he must comply with my totally reasonable request.  I have demonstrated acceptable techniques he can employ with very little effort.  At the very least, he can shut and lock the door behind him, as I ALWAYS do.  All for naught.  He cannot put the lid down.  Or will not.  

He says he just forgets.  He apologizes and promises he will try to remember next time.  He seems to feel bad about it, especially when I point out that she’s done it again.  Yet, no changes in behavior.  In fact, he seems to be entertained by my various attempts at re-educating him.  

Hmmm, did you notice that?  He and Katie seem to be on the same wavelength here.  So I guess the only solution to my problem here is to wait until they both mature.  I think Katie will outgrow her desire to play in the toilet before Jeff learns to put the lid down.  In which case, he’s off the hook.  I suppose that’s his master plan.  Wait it out.  Awesome.

Mom’s mid-life crisis

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When I was a kid I wanted to be an ambassador.  I wanted to travel the world, learn about other cultures (provided they ate well and used indoor plumbing), and be important.  That plan carried me through college.  It hit a wall called French 202.  I was abysmal at French.  I thought I had mastered Spanish because I took it all four years of high school.  I decided college was the time to become trilingual.  My French teacher actually asked me to start over with 101.  I transferred my goals to domestic government.  No big deal, they still travel.

Lowly staffers who answer letters from disaffected Alaskans about the encroachment of Russian boats into US fisheries do not get to travel internationally.  I did get to visit Alaska, which was wonderful.  Alaska is like another country.  But, they speak English (mostly) and it wasn’t that exotic.  I certainly didn’t get to go to Paris, London, Cairo, or any of the places I’d dreamed of going as a kid.  After I left the Senate I realized that I’d probably never get to travel to any of those places unless I became independently wealthy.

That’s when my focus switched to the lottery.  I come by this fantasy honestly.  My mother purchases lottery tickets fairly regularly and has a plan for what she plans on doing WHEN she wins.  Also, I am a Pisces and we are dreamers.  I don’t buy tickets all that often and I am genuinely disappointed when I don’t win.  I even went as far to sign up for Publishers’ Clearinghouse.  $5k a week for life sounds pretty good.  I would definitely get to travel with that money.  Once, I won my $2 back on a ticket that matched the Powerball.  That’s the best I’ve done.

I have a handful of Facebook friends who live abroad.  I love looking at their pictures of ancient castles, ruined temples and their new favorite London restaurant.  But there’s a pang of jealousy that keeps me from being as happy for them as I should.  I feel like it should be me posting pictures from faraway places and enjoying fun European adventures.  

Let me clarify: I am not unhappy with my life.  I love my husband.  I love my crazy kids.  I am very thankful to live close to my parents and in-laws so they can have a strong relationship with their grandchildren.  I don’t mind being a stay-at-home mom, really.  

I just thought I was supposed to be more special than a mother and wife in a suburb of Phoenix, AZ.  It just sounds so mundane and boring!  Jeff has pointed out to me that being special has its own hazards and being humble is more important, spiritually speaking.  I’m sure he’s right, and I’m sure that I am not overly concerned with what is important, spiritually speaking.  

I suppose this the a classic mid-life crisis.  I haven’t lived up to my potential.  I haven’t done anything I really wanted to do.  I made decisions in my early 20s that have prevented me from being who I thought I wanted to be.  Where’s the line I’m supposed to stand it to get my sports car?  

Vacation

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We just got back from vacation.  We spent last week at a vacation cabin in Heber, AZ.  It was as relaxing as a vacation with three young children can be.  Although it was not our first vacation with all three kids, it really hit home for me this time how not-vacation-like our vacations are now with kids.

Last year we went to Legoland.  It wasn’t relaxing, either.  It wasn’t supposed to be.  We were at Legoland.  It was a death march of fun, as Jeff calls them.  We were there three days.  We woke up, we ate breakfast, we went to the park, we went back to the hotel for naps, we went back to the park, we came back to the hotel for dinner, we collapsed.  Repeat that for three days.  It was exhausting.  I hate the saying, but we did need a vacation from our vacation.

This year it was going to be different.  We went to a spot where there is nothing to do.  The most exciting thing we had planned was fishing.  The big draw for me and Jeff was the lack of activity and the hot tub, which was to be used after the kids’ bedtime.  This was “our” vacation.  No cartoon characters, no $100 entry fee.  Just quiet, cool, and relaxing.

Before we even left, I realized how flawed our plan was.  Katie woke up the day we left with a fever.  Just teething, right?  No big deal.  I’d bring some baby Advil and we’d be good.  We’re still a go.  I felt deep down we were in trouble, but I ignored that little voice.

I knew the two twin beds and the play yard we brought for Katie to sleep in would be in a loft that was open to the living room, but I hoped it wouldn’t matter too much.  This is proof that I am optimistic to the point of insanity.  An open loft where three kids are sleeping together?  Oh yeah, Lisa, that’s going to work out just great.  Are there kittens there too?  What about a sno cone machine? No one even attempted sleep until well after 9.

Remember that little teething-related fever Katie had?  She was up most of the first night.  I couldn’t leave her in her bed because the other kids were right next to her.  Now, they are pretty sound sleepers, but I can’t take that chance.  So, she and I were up from 1 until 3.  The next night was better, but not much.  She was up from 11 to 1.

Wednesday was really the last straw.  Ellie woke up at midnight with a fever too.  I guessed her fever to be around 103, Jeff concurred.  She was miserable and restless.  She ended up in our bed with me and Jeff slept on the couch.  I suggested her bed, but he is more cautious than even me when it comes to potentially waking up kids.  All day Thursday she was cranky and sick.

Everyone slept just fine on Thursday night.  Finally.  Just in time to leave at 10 AM on Friday.

Let’s recap the other action.  We did hike, but mostly it was me carrying Katie the entire mile and a half and Jeff carrying Ellie most of it.  Fishing was fun for James but the girls bored easily of it.  We tried to go to some vista points, but Ellie was too cranky and James was too nervous.  James and Ellie did “swim” in the hot tub but Katie wasn’t allowed and that really made her mad.  Let’s just sum up the down time with “thank goodness for satellite tv”.

It was more relaxing than Legoland.  It was not as relaxing as staying in a cabin in the middle of nowhere without three kids.  I guess I have to re-evaluate my concept of relaxing and vacation.  Vacations for the next few years are just not going to be for me or for the purpose of restfulness.

Leave Me Alone

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Whenever our work-outside-the-home mom friends or husbands complain about their jobs, stay-at-home moms have the perfect comeback, “Yeah?  And how many times did you go to the bathroom ALONE today?”  I have gotten into the habit of locking the door when I go to the bathroom.  That just assures that one or two children will think I will go faster or change my mind about barring their entrance if they bang on the door as hard as they can.  They also yell at me from the kitchen demanding that I hurry because they NEED milk NOW.

Going to any store is a nightmare.  Katie has discovered that if I don’t make the buckle in the cart super tight, she can stand up.  Of course, if I make it tight, preventing escape, she screams about the injustice of it.  On the rare occasion that I am able to grocery shopping alone, I feel like I am vacation.  That’s so pathetic!  Being alone is like a vacation?

I told Jeff that for my next birthday, I’d like a 24-hour period when no one is allowed to touch me.  It’s not that I dislike physical contact.  I love getting and giving hugs and kisses.  I love cuddling with my kids and my husband.  It’s just that, generally, that’s not the contact I get.  I am usually being grabbed at, hung on, poked, bit (Katie’s a biter!) or tugged at.

Right now though, just a potty break without interruption would be heaven, a solo trip to the store a vacation, and nap time paradise!