Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I've Got The Music In Me

My youngest son never ceases to amaze me. He seems so oblivious to his surroundings at times, especially when I've repeated his name for the seventh time, informing him that we were to have left five minutes ago! Today, he wasn't feeling well, I had the day off to be with him, I knew he was tired but fighting it, so we snuggled in the rocking chair to watch a "Fly Me to the Moon." During one clip, the "Blue Danube" waltz played. Kamrin sluggishly says, "That's the song in "Up," right mommy?"

It was. Well, maybe not, but it was close.Yes, he probably watched "Up" over one hundred and twenty three times, but it had been well over 4 months since he had seen it last. I didn't even catch it until he had pointed it out, and still had to stop a moment to think back.

He's always had a thing for music. I have a very old beat up (thanks to Hot Wheel cars and fighting action figures) piano in my living room. I learned to play when I was about eight. I have always had intentions to teach my children when they develop an attention span longer than six seconds. Out of the blue, Kamrin grabs some sheet music, places it upside down on the stand, and cranked out a tune. I'll remind you that he's four. It froze me for a moment, because it wasn't the fist pounding on the keys that is normal for that age group, but actually plucking of the keys with both hands. It may have been coincidence, but it sounded like a melody.  I now will ask him to play me something. Each time, he MUST have sheet music. He labels each piece with an emotion, a 'sad' song, a 'happy' song, a 'scary' song. Once in awhile, he'll add lyrics, not poetry necessarily, more along the lines of, "the zombie ate your brains...." Cute.

He dances as well, and not too shabbily. It's a step above the spin yourself around, or throw your self into the nearest piece of furniture. He shakes his hips and head.

I have a short video of him at about a year and a half, rocking out with a guitar. Yep, think he was born with music in his blood. Of course, most videos I have of him, his older brother feels a need to steal the spotlight.

He became enamored with a CD that his Papa had gotten him, it was bible stories. But it wasn't the stories he was interested in, because after the musical introduction, he would immediately ask me to go back and do it again. I thought it would be great to find some of that music on the Internet, so he could have something to listen to at bedtime. It was soothing. I think after several tries, we ended up with pan flute music, maybe Peruvian? I'm not sure.

He's open to several genres, country, rock, instrumentals, he doesn't judge, he just knows what touches him. I'm ecstatic about this. The sound of music can transport you back in time almost more vividly than any other medium. But being able to lose yourself in PLAYING an instrument is indescribable. For now, I'm happy to let him explore on his own, to not be aware of any "rules" when it comes to playing music, but just to let it move him...however that may be.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Only Temporary

I have a hard time sitting still. You can ask my family, they say I don't know how to relax. I didn't believe it. After I lost my job, I tried to keep my spirits up by thinking of all the free-time I would have, the alone, silent moments that remained beyond my grasp while I had a full-time job. I used to get home from a job that was deadline driven, thus very stress filled, and when I got home...well, the best way I've heard it described is this: "Being a mom is like being pecked to death by a bunch of chickens." 

Amen. So the idea of having the house to myself was welcoming...

for about a week.

So after dusting the tops of the door frames, and pulling out the oven to clean behind it, I had an epiphany. I needed something productive to do, outside of the home. While I'm waiting for the perfect boss, in the perfect job, with the perfect salary, I decided to enroll with a placement agency. They're going to help me find that elusive full-time position, but in the meantime, would I be interested in temping? Well, of course.

My first assignment was for data entry. That was mindless enough. With the aid of spandex, I sucked myself into the one pair of black dress pants I owned, which were by all rights, a size too small. Armed with a pencil-scrawled address on a piece of paper, a mobile coffee cup, and a freshly renewed attitude, a walked up to the large building wondering how far I was going to have walk before I found the right suite.

I was given my own, for lack of  a better word, entry card, on a lanyard with a name tag professionally printed up. Pretty spiffy for a temp! The supervisor gave me THE TOUR. The office was pretty impressive, if I ever remembered my way around. They were a 24-hour company, data entry around the clock. Their cafeteria (exclusive to card holders) had three, count 'em, three vending machines, one refrigerator for the stuff you brought in, and another full of frozen dinners and pizzas for those that may find themselves trapped there during a blizzard...a major concern in ND. They also had air mattresses with blankets and pillows for the same reason. In one corner sat (insert halo of light here) a massage chair. Wow!
$1 for 3 minutes of heaven.

This was a norm? What had I been missing out on? I really must have settled in my previous employment. They also had large baskets of suckers at nearly every corner. My guide informed me that anything that didn't have a name on it, was open to the community for consumption, that they regularly had potlucks, it was a very sharing environment. Okay, awesome. Apparently, if you walk the hallways all the way around the inside of the building, it was exactly one mile.

I was finally escorted to my "pod". For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a group of computers, separated by every other group of computers by a half wall.
Kinda like this, but add seven.

A "group" consisted of about 8 computer desks. Now remember that this company works 24 hours. a. day. This means, that your space is not really completely and truly yours, because you share it with two other shifts.

My first task was to read through four pages of legalese basically saying that I would NOT tell anybody about anything I read. But it took four pages (front and back) to say that. I was handed a project, enter this document (which consisted of faxes, copies and scans) into the computer. I dove in. An hour later, I was bored. As most legal documents, I understood about 15% of it. It consisted of a lot of 'the aforementioned', 'hereasin', and dollar amounts spelled out and then numerically represented...the same amounts, over and over. They basically re-entered court documents, company merges, leases, and other legal jargon. This is apparently a 24 hour need. Who knew?

While waiting for my next 'project', I started to analyze my surroundings. The desk I was at had several upside down light bulbs (one end flat) that proclaimed, "you light the way." Obviously, some sort of reward to keep a person motivated. My area housed a very motivated person. Several nameplates littered the desk, an attempt to make the area one's own, yet compromising as one would have to switch them each shift. Some areas were noticeably lacking in any personal thumbprint, and yet, the one across from me was markedly shared by a cat lover. They had everything "cat" they could possibly have. Most with a Halloween flair. Cat calendar, pictures of their pet cat pasted to a small piece of cork board, cat salt shakers (who keeps salt shakers on their desk?), cat comics, a stuffed cat, just to name a few.

I came to realize that the people in my pod were dedicated work-aholics. Their noses were buried in their work, they didn't chit-chat among themselves, and most had headphones on (transcript-ers), they barely made eye contact with me. Suddenly, I overhear laughter and musings about the latest Charlie Sheen debacle, a good natured debate on the latest movies, and a detailed description of a fun night out from the next pod over. I slowly realize, I'M IN THE BORING POD! Nooo! I so wanted to be next door, adding my witty comments to their conversation. THAT was my kind of people. If I were to assign color, this pod was gray and the one next door was filled with palm trees and Mai-Thais. They must be the creative people.

PLOP! My next entry. This one, hand-written notes about a lawsuit involving a caretaker (living support staff) who was being fired for not treating the residents with the respect they deserved. (Not in ND, and I'm not allowed to say where.)

The first shift is from 7 am to 3 pm. Since I had to drop my kids off, I was allowed to come in at 8 and work until 4, thus, I saw the shift change.

There's game I play in my head when I have nothing else to do, it's called, guess-what-this-person-is-in-real-life-even-though-you-don't-know-jack-about-them. (It's fun. Try it.) The one guy who occupied the cat space came in. Here's my assumption. Gray, longer hair, reminded me of the video game player in "Monster House" but older.  (Or very similar to this guy from the Simpson's.)
Gray hair and more of it.

He had a MAT bus (public transportation) lanyard, so doesn't have a car...must live with mom. Baggy Dockers, only wears them because they're required, otherwise he'd be in sweats. Came in early so that he could check the latest update on the Sci-Fi computer at home. Didn't bother to check his email, thus no real outside contact. Played with his cell phone a lot, couldn't tell if he was secretly trying to take a picture of me. Ewww. Working the night shift, so I'm thinking he doesn't have much of a social life. No wedding ring, which enforces the live-at-home theory.

Next to him, a short petite Asian woman whose name is "Helen* (named changed to protect the innocent, but just as American)." Had a lot of questions spoken in broken English, so I'm guessing this could be a stepping stone? But she seemed well liked so can conclude she's been here for awhile. They actually talked to her.

By 1 o'clock, I was ready to hit the trail. How do people do this 8 hours a day? EVERY DAY? I'm not dissing those that do, it's just not me. I tried to interact, but they laughed nervously, obviously not used to cheery interaction. Not to be mean, but I would say that 80% of those people were larger than I was. I started thinking, is it because they sit at a computer all day? Or because of the awesome potlucks I had heard about? Maybe all the suckers within arm's reach?

I had to come back the next day, and spent the entire 8 hours inputting one legal case. My wrists ached, my back hurt and my eyes burned. My mantra became, "this is only temporary," over and over again. We needed whatever little money I could bring in.

Look at the bright side, at least temping in different environments allows me to realize what I DON'T want to do.

Data entry? Check that one off my list.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Visitation Rights

Well, we all survived my parent's visit this weekend, or I should say, they survived us. Maybe just barely. They arrived late Thursday night. Big K wasn't able to wait, which is fine, since he had school the next morning. Little Man looked out the window every 2 minutes and asked, "Are they here yet?" So everything started out well...and then went downhill from there.

I'm always excited about them coming up and we try to plan, over the phone, the different things we can do. But, by the end of the visit, I'm experiencing a mixture of anger, stress and disappointment. Not at my parents, at my children.

I don't know what happens. Is it the excitement of having more people in the house?  Maybe because we do things that are out of the ordinary, like shopping, going out to eat, getting the boys' haircut? Suddenly, the boys that I think are not perfect, but at least manageable, have become the mini monsters that are normally the children of those other parents which upon seeing, make me feel better about my parenting skills.

But within minutes, I have become THAT parent.

You may know what I'm talking about. THAT parent that dares to take their children to a semi-nice restaurant, like Olive Garden, and after spending a mere 15 minutes in the same waiting area with them, you pray to God that they are seated on the other side of the restaurant from you. Those children that insist on holding the little light-up thing that lets you know when you're table's ready and then proceed to drop it so many times, you're guessing that they'll never get a table because the thing is busted. You also feel sorry for the next person who handles the gadget, because you've witnessed the devise being licked...more than once. And what's with that kid's oral sensation anyway? He's got his fingers in his mouth and even licked the wall behind the bench that they're sitting on. And why does that parent even allow the kid take up precious space on the coveted seating bench when he spends more time under it than on it? At least the staff won't have to work so hard sweeping. By the time they're seated, the fight begins. THAT parent who spends more time fetching complimentary crayons from underneath the table, the one who plasters a fake smile on her face for the benefit of anyone looking their way (which they all are, because the children are screeching about who stole the crayon from the other.) THAT parent who's voice has become more and more strained between clenched teeth when one child complains that this is, "not what he ordered," and he's "not going to eat it," even though it looks just liked the picture he pointed to. The child is now seated with his back to the table and arms crossed in front of chest as he refuses to eat the best dinner he's had in a month and that his grandparents have graciously paid for. It's THAT parent who also orders the largest drink at the table.

I've become THAT parent, whose kids suddenly have this innate knowledge that they are able to do things they don't usually do...namely play video games, without their mother going ballistic on them. (It doesn't help that dad has found his own hiding place in the bedroom, where the video games are.) So now my mother is under the impression that this is ALL THEY DO. I do admit that they play more than they should, but why did they decide that this was marathon weekend? I've listened to my mother's subtle (and not so subtle) hints about the dangers of too much TV/video game time, including seizures, ADD and child obesity. She tries to be light about it...yeah, not really. I know all these things are true and try to assure her that yes, they do play with blocks, cars, action figures and occasionally draw.

I'm THAT parent that is actually excited about driving the grandparents to any store they would like to go to because A) You finally get a chance to be away from the kids and B) my mother pays for an update in my ten year old wardrobe that wouldn't be feasibly possible in the next 6 months, because you lost your job, and although I feel completely guilty about it..I SO needed some clothes. I'm THAT parent who will make two separate trips to Great Clips, because they have also offered to pay for haircuts for one boy who has pictures next week and another who needs the stylist to "fix" dad's last attempt at a home haircut for the same aforementioned reason. Humbling to say the least.

I'm THAT parent who, even AFTER the events at Olive Garden, agree to take the kids out to breakfast, because I apparently think things will be different. They aren't. Now, they just involve maple syrup. At least the waiting time was much shorter. But now I have become THAT parent who must now deprive themselves of any dignity whatsoever, and open the door to the men's room, check for any occupants, and grab their kid off of the sink to whisk him back to the table, to force him to eat more than three bites of the ginormous pancake with a banana smile and strawberry eyes that he insisted on ordering. Pancakes in a to-go box just don't work.

I'm THAT parent who must continually assure my dad that it is not the connection from the DVD player to the TV that isn't working, but the actual DVD player itself. He's just trying to be helpful, but we know our quirky outlets and the dang thing was working just two days ago. THAT parent who must constantly shush they kids or send them into another room (to play video games, I'm sure) so that we can actually hear what's happening in the movie. THAT parent who may fill their wine glass more than is sociably acceptable.

I'm THAT parent who mentally smacks herself in the head when her husband is the first one to compliment grammie on her weight loss, because I was so busy dealing with the kids, I noticed and forgot to say something.

I'm also THAT parent, who, on the morning of their departure, must drag both kids from the bedroom (still playing video games) to say goodbye to their all-too-generous grandparents. The one who feels guilt and shame, because I want to believe that they understand that games are games and grandparents don't last forever. THAT parent who stands alone, waving goodbye in the driveway, feeling like schmuck, because I am alone, waving goodbye.

But as I am waving goodbye, I also realize that I am THAT parent that cherishes every moment that I am able to have another adult to talk to, no matter how briefly, about my kids' problems and know that the answers come from someone who knows my children almost as well as I do. I'm THAT parent who looked over and saw her mother hiding the same laugh when Little Man yelled, "Leave me alone Kaiden, you little...TWIT!" THAT parent who is amazed when her husband contributes to conversation over coffee, because it reminds me that he can be insightful and humorous at the same time. He told the kids if they were good, maybe, just maybe, they could have TWO weeks at grammie's instead of ONE this summer.

I'm THAT parent who knows, that even though they may not show it at the time, my kids love their grammie and papa, look forward to their visits and talk about the things they did with them after they leave. I'm THAT parent who knows life is short and I must memorize every moment, no matter how difficult it may be at times. I'm THAT parent who is exhausted at the end of the visit, but still wishes it could be just a few days longer...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gone To The Dogs

It never fails. After the whirlwind, we call breakfast, and the Tasmanian Devils have been dropped off at daycare and school respectively, the hubby and I plop ourselves down at the kitchen table. After prying syrup laden plates off its surface, cringing while scooping soggy rogue Mini Wheats into the palm of my hand and then into the garbage, and after half-heartedly swiping a damp rag across the table, we have a moment of peace. This is when we both wrap our hands around our lukewarm second cup of coffee and figure out what each of our schedules will be for the day, make comments about what the latest headlines and the weatherman has to say. In one of those comfortable pauses that married couples have, I notice two chocolate eyes staring at me from just over the edge of the table. They stare at me and then quickly dart to the right and back at me. I return the stare. The eyes dart again. I slooowwly turn my head and yes, there is a minuscule piece of waffle, quite nearly teetering on the edge of the table. The eyes belong to our dog. He's trying to let me know, that if I'm not in the mood to wipe up that piece of food, he'd be more than happy to help me out with it.

I elbow Shawn and nod towards the dog. The head doesn't move and the eyes continue to hold my gaze, but suddenly his tail swish, swish, swishes. Shawn will do it first, "Hey, I don't mean to interrupt, but, ummm, there's a piece of waffle right there. I mean, RIGHT THERE. And umm, I'd be happy just to slide my tongue across that little area, and it'll all be good." Thing is, he says it in a voice that's somewhat of a cross between Patrick Star on Spongebob and Hugo, the abominable snowman. (I will love him, and pet him and squeeze him and call him George.)
This is old school. Loved him!

We all create voices in our heads for our dogs (oh yes you do, don't lie!), and that one is Bo's. I don't know why we make him sound stupid. Wait, I take that back, yes I do.

Shawn had Bo when I first met him. Found him on an adoption site with floppy ears and a big pink nose.
Blurry, but still cute. And his nose is pink, just doesn't look it here.
He's part Lab and part we-don't-know-what-the-heck-he-is. Some say it looks like Collie, or maybe even greyhound, or maybe a wild combo of several canine breeds. He's a puppy trapped in a small horse's body. He's as lovable as they come. He tolerated the kids pulling his ears, tugging on his lips and catching a crack the whip ride on his tail. But he's dumber than a box of rocks. Oh we love him, trust me. He's just not that blessed with doggy sense. Some examples:

He uses his nose to push through his doggy door, but will sit and whine if "trapped" downstairs because the door is only open three inches.

He'll suddenly bark at thin air, bowl you over on the way to bark at the thin air through the window, yet remained mysteriously quiet when our car was stolen out of the driveway.

He sits thisclose to you while you're in the bathroom doing your business, not for affection, but because he's waiting for you to remove your butt from his watering hole, even though there is a fresh bowl of water in the kitchen.

He once spent the whole day on a throw rug, because he didn't want to walk across tile.

The minute the garage door is open, he'll shoot out to go exploring, but he won't jump the 4 inches of fence that is still protruding from the snowbank he is standing on in the backyard. (Yes, the snowbanks were that high.)

One time, Shawn had to get up in the middle of the night to the sound of whimpering. He followed the sound out into the kitchen, flipped on the light, and found Bo had managed to climb completely on top of the kitchen table (for a scrap of waffle, I'm sure) and stood frozen on four shaky legs because he couldn't get down.

I was trying to get a cute video of my son in his plastic swimming pool, and upon playback, see Bo wander in the background to lift his leg...for a solid 3 minutes!

You get the idea. When we met, I also had my dog. His name is Ripley, because he is a Shar Pei. He seriously looked like a manatee when I first got him.
I fell in love. (I find that the uglier the dog, the more I love it...bulldogs, pugs...that kind of cute, not the cute only a mother could love like Chinese Hairless with no teeth and bulging eyes.) He's totally opposite of Bo. He's dark, Bo's light. Bo has a beak and Ripley's snout nearly touches his eyes. Ripley has a deep baritone bark, and Bo's bark causes a streak of light to blur my vision. Bo is tall and big, Ripley is short and stout.

Getting them together wasn't easy at first, but they've learned to tolerate each other...somewhat. Ripley's "voice" is a bit higher, but probably just as dumb sounding. Bo is kind of a bully. He gets let out and then waits for Ripley at the foot of the two stairs, just so he can pounce on him before heading outside. He feels a need to 're-mark' his territory. Where ever Ripley pees, Bo must pee in the EXACT same place, sometimes he doesn't wait for Ripley to move before he does. We have the bowl of food in two separate bowls, because, like my children, they can't share. But once both bowls are filled, Bo will hover between the two. If Ripley picks one, Bo will run over to it. Ripley will move to the other one, and suddenly THAT'S the bowl Bo wanted. Sometimes he won't even eat, he'll just make sure Ripley doesn't eat either, until I have to step in and break it up. Even when they do play, Bo's long beak-like nose can reach places that Ripley's flat face can't. I've had to treat some pretty serious wounds.

Bo craves attention, all the time. "If I sit right here and stretch my neck, I might get petted. Almost there, almost!" (Voice again.) The problem is when you pet him, he gets so excited he'll feel a need to stand on his hind legs to give you a big hug, one giant paw on each shoulder. I would pet him more if he just sat there, but the minute I start, he leans in to it, rolls across my feet and leaves a small pillow of hair on my pants.

Since I've had time at home, I realize all they do is sleep. Bo moans like an old man when he switches position and Ripley snores louder than a freight train. I do notice one thing though. Before each of them find their spot for the night, they will each take their turn, walk into each child's room and walk up to their bed as if they are checking on them to make sure they are okay. They good dogs. Even if once in awhile they'll eat a box of crayola crayons. Makes the yard look like the Easter Bunny ate some bad Mexican.
They are loved.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Let's Review

It's been an interesting week with highs and lows, summits and valleys, clouds and sun.

Kaiden was talking to a girl from his class on my cell phone. He had it on speaker. He had mentioned that this was the first year that Santa Claus hadn't heard him right and didn't get him what he wanted for Christmas. (I'm sure Santa is feeling the budget crunch that we all are and had to make cuts in his elf workforce as well.) Anyway...she replied with, "You know Santa isn't real, right?"

Me: "Time for supper, hang up the phone."

Nice save. After we had eaten and the kids had gone to become TV zombies, Shawn asked me, "So how are we going to tell him?" What? NO! I do not want to be the one to pop that magical bubble. Shawn had brought up that he didn't want Kaiden to be teased because he is the only one left among his peers who still believes. I, of course, try to approach with logic. If Kaiden knows, well then there goes the Easter Bunny, leprechauns and the tooth fairy. Plus, he has a younger brother. Ever try to get a 6-year-old keep a secret? Good luck. I give it 42 seconds, a minute at the most. Feeling I needed allies on this one, I posted the question on Facebook...should we tell him or not? The overwhelming response was in some form or another, "No." Some had already been down this road. The suggestions ranged from belief in the 'Spirit of Christmas', helpers, and just redirecting the question back at them. And then there was this from my friend Stacey in CA:

My 9 year old (4th grader) asks me "Mom, I need you to tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?". Me: "No, Thomas, there isn't, it's Mom and Dad". Thomas begins to sob uncontrollably. Me: "Thomas, I'm so sorry but you asked me to be honest and I thought that's what you truly wanted." Thomas: "I did but I used to have a little tiny hope, and now I have absolutely no hope. None". Yeah, good parenting moment.

We're choosing to let him believe.

I've decided to combat my newly-at-home boredom with a new Wii workout regimen. I was getting bored with Wii Fit and ordered, EA Active, Personal Trainer. It's awesome. I actually was sweating, and I don't mean just damp hair, I'm talking running down my back, off my forehead, needing a shower afterwards kind of workout. It's been 2 workouts on the 30 day challenge so far. Today, it took me 30 minutes to carry a load of laundry up from the basement. Hello thighs and glutes.

I also know why prisoners are so buff. They're BORED! 

I had to turn in 1/4" worth of paperwork to get my kids discounted health insurance. After collecting proof of the children's actual existence, finances, daycare costs, a paycheck stub and a blood test to testify that I AM actually from Earth (okay that's pushing it), I must pass through a metal detector to even enter the office. I awaited my chance to approach the receptionist who reminded me of the human version of the undercover secretary, Roz, on Monsters, Inc. 

"Mmmm, can I help yoouuu?" I told her I needed to hand in my paperwork. "Staple it together and put it in box #1." I merely took a step to get a clearer look at the box, when the deadpan, nasal voice addressed the person behind me with as much enthusiasm as a wet dishcloth. She didn't let me tell her that I had a letter in my hand which said I needed to fill out an affidavit of identity and she had to copy my birth certificate. I took one look at that people behind me in line, one holding a squirming screeching toddler with snot running down his face, and trudged back to the end of the line. Now I know the need for the metal detector. The box, by the way, was some random brown box with a rugged hole cut in the top and #1 written on it with a Sharpie®.
Wow. Professional.

There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WORTH WATCHING ON DAYTIME TV. Maybe it's a blessing, maybe not. I can't do my step aerobics to drivel. I need something to keep my attention away from my burning calves. Although, apparently, people in Texas are totally clueless to the fact that you can't abandon your dogs/cats/lizards or whatnot when you move and you cannot keep a herd of horses in the backyard of your trailer home. Or at least that's what Animal Cops Houston would have you believe. (No offense intended, I have several relatives in Texas.)

My youngest son, having finished his business in the bathroom, yelled for someone to help him. My oldest, in a rare moment of trying to get on my good side, said, "I got this." I looked questioningly at my husband. He shrugs. Kaiden makes a big show of coming back into the room, shaking his head with a big sigh, he squirts hand sanitizer into his palm, (he needs to make sure that everyone is aware of his good deeds.) "I had to help him wipe his butt," he sighs. "And why did you do that?" I inquire. "Because someday I'll have a baby and I need practice doing these things." Which actually translates to, "You grounded me from video games, and every brown-nosing opportunity I have, I'm going to take in order to get me back into good graces." I see right through you buddy, but you go ahead and believe because I need the garbage emptied too.

I have re-established that I am a good cook, but horrible baker. Let's just say that mint can be overpowering in the minuscule of doses.

I was overjoyed to see 40 degrees in the 10-day forecast, but I've lost all faith in my local weatherman, so I'll believe it when I feel it. That's the last time I will put any sort of hope in a rodent, groundhogs in particular.

But all in all, my ups and downs were reduced to their actual scale when I woke up to the tragedy in Japan. Just further proof that no matter where you are, what you're going through, happy or sad, the world keeps turning and we must revel in the small joys in life.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Body Image

I normally try to write about the humorous side of being the mother of two boys, but I want to take a moment to address something more serious, a little closer to my heart. Because, bloggers, friends and family, you are my source of information and advice. You are not afraid of telling it like it is, whether it's Mother of a Monster and Twins, Fine, How Are You, Letters for Lucas or being some of my favorite fathers out there (and Beta Dad, Mental Poo, My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog, and others, I'm talking about you.)

I've always told myself I like surprises, but I don't. On both sides of the fence. If someone tells me they have a surprise for me, yeah, I'll act all nonchalant and such, but really...I want to know NOW. I also blame this trait for my procrastination on buying Christmas gifts, because the minute I buy the gifts, I can't WAIT for people to open them. Thus, the reason I HAD to know the sex of my first child the moment I was able. Sure, I'll tell you it was because we had just bought a new house and I needed to paint the nursery, but really, I just had to know. When I found out I was having a boy, I was happy. I've never been the girly-girl type and I hate pink. I hate to shop, I have no fashion sense, and it takes every fiber of my being not to bite my nails (which are never painted). My second pregnancy, Shawn was really hoping for a girl (he's the youngest of 6 boys - can you blame him?). When they announced that my little apple had a stem, I was silently relieved. Two boys! No princesses, no fashion issues I would screw up, no awkward silences when it came to petty cat-fights between other girls, no, "I'm too fat," discussions...or so I thought.

Before (if) you continue reading, I want you to know that my son is six. That's first grade, about the time you learn to read, girls are just "friends," you play with 'guys' and spit a lot when you make all the hitting noises, and you blush if the word "sex" is spoken on TV (and I consider that ahead of the game).

Without further adieu, here is my issue...Kaiden thinks he's fat. My SON thinks he's FAT. I thought I would have to deal with showing women respect, instill in him that opening doors for a woman (girl) was gallant (not how loud you could burp or fart) and I would deal with frogs, bugs, dirt and peeing everywhere but in the toilet, but fat? I'm not prepared. Yes, Kaiden has a belly, and yes, he is about three to four inches shorter than his peers, but he's growing. He's not gaining weight, and he's getting taller, so it will all even out. Does he eat more than he should? Maybe. But he's a growing boy. His brother is nearly underweight and eats anything and everything and still looks like he should be adopted for less than a dollar a day.

How do I know that this is an issue, besides the fact that he's told me he's fat? He won't wear a sweatshirt that doesn't have a zipper because if he has to pull it over his head, he's afraid his stomach will show when he takes it off. I wanted to get him involved in wrestling because his dad was a state champion, but when I asked him if he wanted to enroll, the first question was if he would have to take his shirt off, and then the answer was no. He refuses to be involved in sports that require anyone to touch him. When buying him school clothes one Fall, he checked under the dressing room stall to make sure there was no one who could see him and he made me double check that the door was locked before undressing.

As a mother, the first question is, "What did I do to make him think this way?" I think that I look inward because I have always had a weight issue myself, but really not a weight issue, but a body issue problem. Did I subconsciously make him feel that how much you weigh is a problem?

I always considered myself fat. I wasn't. My first year in college, I weighed 98 lbs. No kidding. If I only knew then what I know now. I was depressed. I thought I would assert my independence by moving 5 1/2 hours away from home, away from my boyfriend of 2+ years (a big deal at 18), and go to college where no one knew me. I wasn't miss popular in high school, but I got along with everyone. For some reason I thought that moving so far away would force me to not be one of those people who stayed in the same clique and wallowed in the glory days of high school. It backfired. I was lonely, I knew no one, I confined myself to my dorm room and didn't go out..not even to eat. Just to classes.

But this is not about me. I'm just giving you some background so that you know I was UBER aware of not wanting to pass those issues along. My husband is overweight. He hates it. But he hates losing his hair more. We don't say, 'fat,' at home, we stress eating 'healthy.' We try not to compare the boys on any level, good or bad. We believe they each have their own unique qualities which make them special in their own way.

When this subject first came up, I asked Kaiden if someone at school had said something. No. Was he teased? No.

I'm lost. He's well liked. Girls call him (yes, at six!), boys call him and the teacher says there is no problem at school. So if he isn't being teased and we don't say anything at home, where is this coming from? Do TV ads affect him? Does he see a 'perfect male' in commercials with a six pack and wonder why that isn't him?

I have assured him, he is wonderful the way he is. He's smart, cute, funny and has lots of friends. I've also tried to go a level further and try to explain (in a Dick and Jane sort of way) that he is constantly changing. I'm including a picture so you can offer your unbiased opinion.

So, I'm reaching out to all of you. Do you have any suggestions? How do I help him be more confident? Has anyone else experienced this? If so, how did you handle this? My boy is a good-looking kid with the biggest heart, he loves his family, school and a good knock-knock joke. Someday, he will have a female tell him he has beautiful eyes, a great smile, a wonderful sense of humor and he will treat them better than 90% of the other males they come in contact with.

The manual doesn't have anything on this. Any advice is appreciated. I don't want him to ever have anything hold him back from everything that he is capable of...especially body image.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Funnies - Naked Grandma

As I have mentioned before, Shawn and I have been spending a LOT more time together lately, and I must say, we're discovering the lighter side. I've noticed more laughter and just plain outright silliness. Enter my world for just a moment. I'm checking my emails, sipping on some coffee when suddenly, Shawn yells, "Nekked Grandma!" I nearly shoot coffee out of my nose. Insider's joke. For those of you who are able, here's where that humor stems from:

For those of you following on Kindle or who just don't want to click on the video, here's the setup:

Family Feud, buzzer time.
Steve: Name something a burglar would not want to see when breaking into a house.
(Slamming of button)
Redneck #1: NEKKED GRANMAW! (You have to say neck-id)
Steve: Nekked-huh?! (Throws cue cards.)
Redneck #2: (shrugs shoulders) I don't wanna see that either. (completely straight face).
Steve: I know your right, m-kay, no one wants to see a nekked grandmom, but what are the chances (pause) of me breakin' and entering your house and runnin' into your naked grandma?

And so it began. Funniest thing? It's the second most popular answer on the board. (resident/occupant, not naked grandma).

I was driving my son to school, he's complaining that the Velcro on his shoes is worn out and doesn't keep his shoes on his feet. (Yes, he's in first grade and doesn't know how to tie his shoes yet. Dang Velcro-everything! And lazy mom without the patience to teach him.) The shoes are not even worn out yet. I used to wear my shoes until they were tattered. Anyway...I decide it's time he learns to tie. So in my mind, I'm thinking I can make a quick trip to Wal-Mart and get him some "trainer shoes." I'm talking about training to tie, not to run, here. So I ask him, "What size are your shoes?" Without a blink, he answers, "The same size as my feet." Thank you Captain Obvious.

Scene: My kitchen, it's after 10 pm. I'm trying to finish an article on graphic design, which, contrary to popular belief, actually takes some thought. Hubby volunteered to tuck the boys in over an hour ago. (Translation, "I lay next to the boys so I have an excuse to be asleep myself before 9:30). It worked for Kaiden, but here Kamrin is. Asking me for water, for a snack, for a blanket, to watch cartoons. Every. Single. Ten. Seconds. Exasperated, I snap, "Kamrin! Why aren't you in bed?!" His answer, "It's the way I roll mom."

Hopefully a quick smile to start your weekend!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Can't Drive 55

Today celebrates the third week of unemployment for me. I've discovered several things about myself and my surroundings that I may not have known had I not been forced allowed to slow down and take a hard look at things.

I really don't know what to do with myself when I am not going 100 mph on a daily basis. When trying to look at the bright side of things, I embraced the idea that I would have time to do all those little things I had wanted to do and had had no time for. I think I was done after two days. Of course, there is the constant cleaning, that at least seems to be never ending, but after inhaling cleaning product fumes (although that could provide some amusing highlights to my day) and massaging cracked cuticles, I've had my fill. Nothing like scrubbing a kitchen top to bottom and seeing it return to its former self within 15 minutes of the kids coming home from school.

Laundry has been reduced to about 1 or 2 loads a day, but dust reappears in a half hour.

I have come to terms with the Wii and exercising, but all the good that I do for myself in that 30-45 minutes is offset by the will and determination I must conger up to not eat out of boredom throughout the rest of the day.

I find myself wandering.. a LOT. I wander from room to room, not really knowing what I'm looking for, if anything. It's just hard to sit still.

I have enjoyed the fact that my husband and I can have lunch together and have a conversation without being interrupted. But I find that we tend to talk about the same things over and over. We get nosier about each phone call, text or appointment the other has, just grasping for some iota of information that would bloom into a full-blown discussion to fill the silence. Thanks, Charlie Sheen, for giving us a day's worth of back and forth of incredulous statements of disbelief about your narcissism. Problem is, when the silence hangs there for more than 3 minutes, my husband finds this the perfect opportunity to make weird faces at me, tell knock-knock jokes (not good ones), or imitate the kids' "mom, mom, mom" mantra in case I was missing it. It was cute for the first week, maybe, now I kind of dread him being home for more than an hour at a time. Good thing we will never be able to retire!

I've become addicted to my laptop. The first thing I do in the morning is check the online job offers and see if I have any emails from the companies I've sent my resume to. (Come on people! I'm a great addition! I promise!) Hitting 'refresh' over and over does not make emails magically appear. I devour all the blogs on my reading list and follow the webs of links to more and more reading material.

My dogs are genuinely concerned about my mental health. They must be, they follow right at my heals to ensure I do nothing to harm myself. If I lower my arms, one of the two furry heads are right there to offer ears to be scratched or to give a reassuring sniff. I can now translate head tilts, blank stares and restrained barks. If I suddenly change direction, I trip over them. Also Ripley applies the "snooze you lose" theory to his favorite spot on the couch, which is MY favorite spot on the couch.

Mornings are so carefree and laid back, my children will be rendered immobile when I must return to my Drill Sargent self once I must actually be somewhere by 8 am. The mommy they now love and joke with will once again return to her grumpy harried inner monster. (Although I am enjoying this new morning mom as well, and will try to drag her along for the duration).

I think I wouldn't consider this such a jail sentence if I weren't worried about the financial aspects. With gas getting more and more expensive every day, I'm nearly terrified to drive anywhere outside of my daily routine. I told Shawn to, "Stop guzzling the milk! The kids will need it for cereal. Don't you know how expensive that is? Drink water." He gives me the evil eye has he walks out of the room. What? No lame jokes now? Sheesh!

Well, better go check my email...again. Hey, hon...what are you doing? Nothing? Oh. Me? Oh, nothing.