When mornings are hard…

“Gimme my sandwich back, man!”

Life has been crazy… and I haven’t been here, because maybe some of you know I’m over HERE… and at work. And doing that kid thing… Like all of you, right? There is always so much going on, and sometimes I am not the best version of me as a result. (I actually think I’ve yet to be the best version of me. Though the version of me after two Manhattans is delightful, if you want the truth…)

ANYWAY.

I hate it when I’m mean to my kiddos, or short with them, or just not patient. When they’re driving me nuts I TRY to take a deep breath and imagine my house without them in it. No, not like that — I mean I try to imagine what life will be like in about ten short years. When it’s just me and my husband. When there are no Nerf guns being fired at my desk, when no one is singing the JT song “I’ve got this feeling…” and changing all the words to be about his balls… (or are those the real words? I honestly don’t know. I’m so hip.) But I think about how a day will come soon when I’ll miss them SO much, and the quiet won’t feel like a gift, and they’ll be big and they won’t want or need me constantly…

And those are the days like today when I’m too busy, but when Lunchbox comes into my office wearing a random paper crown, excited ‘cuz he has a field trip at school, and says “we should look at polar bear pictures on the internet,” I pretend I TOTALLY have time to do that, and call Turbo in. And then we spend five minutes looking at those polar bear pictures, and I narrate what those bears must have been thinking as each photo was taken, and the boys laugh, and so do I… and I try SO hard to hug them tight and NOT to think about how much I’ll miss them when they’re not here with me to drive me nuts every day. 🙂

Do you know what I mean?

The Revenge Poop

IMG_0684This is a true story. It is not for the faint of heart. I give you this warning while there is still time to turn back to wherever it is you came from.

Still here? Well then, read on for a story about Lunchbox, his impressive bowel command, and the evolution of a sacred rule that stands in our household to this day…

Once upon a time, the Mr. and I were going to go on a date. It should be known that the Mr. is pretty much always late. On this particular night, I’d gotten myself ready to go, was undoubtedly looking spectacular, and dropped through his office at about five minutes to babysitter arrival time to find him still doing whatever it was he did in his office on the computer.

“Uh, five minutes till the sitter gets here,” I told him. This statement was followed immediately by the doorbell. “Make that, babysitter’s here,” I amended.

He cast a guilty glance my way and then tried for a charming smile before bolting upstairs promising to shower quickly.

What happened next was told to me later by the Mr., since I then had to hang out with the babysitter and make uncomfortable small talk while trying not to feel like my lipstick choice was being judged by a nineteen year old who was way cooler than I’d ever be.

UPSTAIRS… The Mr. strips down fast, aware that he’s already in the doghouse for being late. The shower is heating up, and Lunchbox strolls in, naked as the day he was born.

Mr.: “What are you doing?”
L: “Taking a shower with you.” (This was during the phase where LB LOVED getting in the shower no matter who was taking it… It was cute, but it took more time than a quick rinse when your wife was already pissed at you downstairs).
Mr.: “Not tonight, buddy. I gotta hurry. Mommy’s mad.”
L: *Frowns and tries to get in the shower anyway.*
Mr.: “Seriously, buddy. Not tonight.” *Gets in and closes door.*

Lunchbox scowls and marches away, buck naked and angry. Minutes later, the Mr. is coming back into the bedroom to get dressed, and finds Lunchbox exiting his closet.

Mr. “What were you doing in my closet?”
L: (looking extremely proud) “I pooped in your closet.”
Mr. “What? No. Tell me you didn’t just poop in my closet.”
L: (smiling) “I didn’t just poop in your closet.”
Mr. “Better not have.”

The Mr. goes into the closet and switches on the light. There, laid in a perfect line in the middle of the walk-in closet, is a hefty brown turd, all fresh and new.

Mr. “LUNCHBOX!”
L: …silence

There were some words had after that, and we had to do significant cleaning up before we could finally go to dinner. That said, the Mr. was pretty sure Lunchbox would not be doing that again.

Until he did. The next day he pooped in his brother’s closet because Turbo wouldn’t let him play with his new plastic sword. And the next night he stood up and peed on the living room rug when I told him it was time to get ready for bed.

Lunchbox is going to turn eight soon, and he doesn’t do this anymore. But no one in the house has forgotten the lurking threat of a good revenge poop. (And c’mon… you have to be impressed by anyone who can poop on command…)

 

It starts again…

Children portraitI know. It shouldn’t be a big deal. They go off to school every effing year around this time…

But things change, you know?

Two years ago, we sent Turbo off to third grade at a new school… and we watched him struggle. The funny thing was, he didn’t know he was struggling–or he did, but he pretended not to care, acted like he didn’t notice. His teacher figured out fairly fast that he was ‘active’–that he would be a distraction to other kids. She learned that he wanted to be funny, that he had a hard time controlling his impulses and that he often spoke when he shouldn’t. She found out fast that he liked to get up and move when he was supposed to sit still. She found out he didn’t really sit still. Ever. That wasn’t in his repertoire.

Turbo is social. And energetic. And funny.

But to her, Turbo was noisy. And distracting. And inappropriate.

And you know what? I get her point. He wasn’t the kid that teachers are relieved to see walk through their door. Instead, I know my kiddo was one of the ones the teachers warned each other about. From kindergarten through that hard third-grade year, I was on a first-name basis with the administration. I took a board-level position on the PTA at his first school to try to buy him a second chance in Kindergarten, for crap’s sake…he was going to be suspended. For teachers, and for me…he was a challenge.

He was a bright, shiny, energetic, little boy-shaped challenge. And some teachers don’t want a challenge. Every time I came to his third-grade classroom, Turbo was sitting alone. His desk was against a wall, or next to the teacher’s, even though I’d told her a few times I thought that exclusion was detrimental to his self-esteem. From grades K through 3, I had to listen to Turbo tell me he wasn’t smart, that he was a bad kid, that he couldn’t listen like the other kids did. He knew he was different…and so did we. But we didn’t know what to do.

For Turbo, being different like that made him mad. He spooled up quick if someone challenged him at school, and he always felt on the outside, so he was defensive. He was explosive at home, too. So we took him to a counselor to talk about anger.

And that led to a recommendation to have him “worked up.” I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew something was, and that was why I took that recommendation. It wasn’t easy. It took six months to work through insurance and talk to lots of centers and doctors that didn’t do neuropsychological workups. I was told no such thing existed. I was told I’d been mis-referred. And then we found the right place. We drove two hours to get there, and Turbo spent a day playing games and taking little tests…

And after another three or four months, we’d gotten the results and gotten placed with a center locally that treated ADHD with behavioral therapy and medication. And that was at the beginning of fourth grade. And that year? It was a whole different experience. Maybe it was the diagnosis. Maybe it was the 504 plan. Maybe it was the medication… but Turbo did well. His teachers worked FOR him instead of ignoring him or trying to work around him. And he excelled. We ended last year with good grades and a kid who didn’t call himself bad anymore. We ended last year with a kid who understood that he has unique challenges, but that he also has a family and a support system willing to help him navigate those challenges.

We go into fifth grade prepared. And for the first time since beginning elementary school, Turbo told me that he’s excited to go back to school.

We spent some time with friends tonight–an end-of-summer BBQ. It was nice, and a great end to summer. And I watched my two little boys jumping with their friends on a trampoline, watched them being little and relatively innocent–watched them on the eve of their fifth and second-grade years… and I was profoundly grateful.

We have challenges. I know we’ll have more. But for now, I was grateful that we’d stood behind our little guy, we’d given him tools and help when he needed it. And that made him confident enough to look forward at the new year with hope instead of dread.

I hope that you’re able to sort through the challenges your small people bring home to you. We’ve got other challenges, too… Lunchbox is a whole other can of worms, I assure you. Parenting is hard. We haven’t figured it all out, and I don’t think we ever will. But I’m going to appreciate this small win. Today I have two kids eager to enter a new school year.

Sleep tight, kiddos… who knows what the year will hold?

BEST Easter Dinner (or any dinner, really…)

Oh HI there… sorry I have been… oh hell, no excuses. I have been distracted. And frankly a little down. And it’s hard to write about amazing inspiring things when I’m not feeling amazing and inspired.

I don’t want to get into all the crazy details of why life’s been more blue than turquoise for me lately. I think we all go through those phases, don’t we? I think it may be somewhat unique to my individual makeup that I constantly ask myself what my place in the world is meant to be. I thrive on accomplishment and achievement–I was the girl who always wanted the gold star and got made fun of for being teacher’s pet. And I haven’t had a lot of gold stars lately. I’ve had a lot of…well, a lot of what feels a lot like failure. And that’s hard for gold-star girl to handle.

But I’m trying not to quantify myself by the number of “things” I’ve racked up. I’m trying to quantify life by moments instead. Trying to pay more attention to the small wonderful details, the times between the events. I’m trying to measure my life based on the way my six-year-old glows and giggles when he reads a book by Sandra Boynton (oh how I love these books!) I’m trying to estimate the size of things based on the sheer joy I see on my eight-year-old’s face when he swims…by the smell of their little messy heads when they wake up in the morning, by the way they still fit curled up in my arms, by the eyes that still hold vulnerability and wonder and a fierce determination to become independent. I’m trying to remember what’s important.beef prime rib roast crusted with herbs

And that’s part of why I’m so excited to be spending Easter Sunday with my whole family together — at least my side. I’m going to meet my one-year-old niece for the first time! And my parents will get to see all three grandkids in one place for the first time… It’s just one day together, but I’m really looking forward to it.

And I’ll be honest. One part of my enthusiasm has to do with dinner. Since my brother has a newish baby in the house, I didn’t think they’d want to go crazy cooking just because we’re in town. So I suggested my newest favorite recipe–only for very special occasions. Prime Rib! I’m not the biggest red meat lover on the planet, but I am telling you, this recipe is so easy and the meat is literally the best meat of any kind I’ve ever had. I’m not kidding. I made this at Christmas and my husband says he has dreams about that dinner.

So I ordered a prime rib to be sent to my brother’s house. (There are lots of places to get em online. We ordered from Kansas City Steaks (this is not an affiliate link!) And if you’re going to make it, you just need to allow lots of time for it to cook, but there’s almost NO work to do. Here’s the recipe I use at Food Network.

 

Appliance Love

Sometimes you end up improving things you didn’t realize needed improvement.

Well, in this case that wasn’t really true. We bought this house a year ago, and the appliances in the kitchen were not exactly top of the line. That said, they were functional, so plans to upgrade them fell WAY down the list. The dishwasher worked pretty well. But the thing sounded like a freight train coming through the house. We couldn’t set it and then go to bed. It would keep me awake for an hour. And then there was the water leaking… Finally it just quit. We had it repaired once, and the Major fixed it himself twice. When it died again the day after Christmas, we gave up on it, and ordered a Christmas present we hadn’t planned on.

And I tell you, I’m in love.

But nothing is easy, right? We pulled out the old dishwasher and rolled the new one in, ready to install it. But it was too tall. By about an inch. Wouldn’t fit under the granite.

After several “oh crap” moments, we agreed to chip out the tile that extended beneath the dishwasher. And learned that the tile had been laid on backer board (of course) on TOP of linoleum. (Surprise). And under that? Mold.

I thought the sub floor was rotten, and dollar signs began to flash through my mind… but it turned out that whoever had installed the original appliances had laid down a piece of plywood first. We cut that out, and the mold went with it, but the original subfloor was damp, so we had to wait for it to dry before the new dishwasher could go in.

Two more days of washing dishes by hand and having a dishwasher in the middle of the kitchen. Oy.

wet floor under dishwasher

So this is what we had for the whole weekend… Until yesterday, when we dropped in the new dishwasher! I didn’t know I could feel such strong love for an appliance, but this one… let me tell you. 🙂

Bosch dishwasher

It’s the Bosch 500 series, and it is SO quiet! And it cleans really well, and it is intelligently designed — a utensil rack up top! I really do love it, or maybe it’s just that great an improvement over the old one. Either way, Merry late Christmas to me.