About Me

My photo
WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW SITE!!! http://www.mommyhood-shivonne-costa.squarespace.com/ As of June 18, 2015, this is our new location. Please come join us!! I started blogging the week I got married. I thought it would be nice to blog the full first year, you know, to cherish those memories and share them with my family and friends. Little did I know, it was going to be my greatest coping skill for the craziness that comes with marriage! I found writing to be a fantastic way to reframe an ugly marital spat into a humorous event, allowing me to smile at the situation by the end of the post. And now, I am honored to share my struggles and joys of fostering, adopting, birthing, and raising 4 beautiful children. It's my hope that others gain laughter and new ways to see their own frustrating life situation through my writing. Because I love to write! PS, look for me on Facebook - "Mommyhood-Shivonne Costa"

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Things That Make Ya Go "AAHHH!"

     There are numerous behaviors that are not tolerated in our home. We certainly don't allow hitting or hurting people of any kind, swearing, stealing, lying, etc. These are parental rules that are probably common for most homes. We know that when behavior A occurs, then consequence B follows. These rules are ingrained into each of us without too much difficulty. Even when a child engages in one of these no-no's, they look to make sure no one saw them, because they intrinsically know these household laws.
     And then there are the things that aren't life-threatening. The behaviors that annoy each mother uniquely but thoroughly... they are the things that make you cringe deep down and want to scream "AAHHH!" at the top of your lungs. I've come to realize (rather passionately, I must admit) that I have many more "pet peeves" now that I'm a mother than I ever had prior to this stage of life. Even my husband's crazy, quirkish ways are being rivaled by these two, small nut-balls that pose as innocent children. These are my Mother peeves.
     Sand. The inventor of the sandbox is probably a second cousin to Adolph Hitler, because only someone with that much evil in their DNA would put a family through this grittiness. In fact, I'm pretty sure there's a special place spoken of in Dante's Inferno for any person that says, "Hey! I have a great idea! Let's put the beach into a box and keep it at YOUR house so that there's a handful of sand in every room! And I'm gonna charge you money for it!" Sand in the hair, sand in the eyes, sand down the pants, sand in the teeth.... No, Taylor, it's not ok to make sand angels. Nor is it ok, Cameron, to throw sand at your sister, let alone with her mouths and eyes OPEN.

     Using non-toy items as toys. The garden hose attachment is NOT a shovel. My make-up is NOT paint. The pool skimmer is NOT a sand sifter, bug catcher, or sword. If I would've known that kids didn't want real toys, I could've saved a bundle! Here's some old batteries, a broken rake, and an ice cream container. Go to town! Although I'm pretty sure that if I started filling cereal bowls with legos and using stuffed animals as dog toys, I'd certainly have to hear about it. But there's a small part of me that would rather get even.... I literally have had visions of putting a baby doll in the dishwasher, just to see what would happen. Or completely disassembling a DS and telling them to "Have fun" when they want to play it. Oh, it stinks to have your stuff messed up when you go to use it, eh? I never would've guessed.... maybe when Santa brings me a new remote control, he'll remember to bring you a tractor that still has it's wheels.

     "Why did you do that???" followed by an "I don't know...." If you didn't have a reason to do something, why in the world would you waste time getting in trouble for doing it? For once, I'd like to ask the question, "Why did you break that toy?" and hear "Because I was really curious to see what was holding this thing together inside," or "Because I'm angry and thought that I'd feel better by breaking something." I'm pretty sure if a police officer pulled me over for speeding and asked me why I was breaking the law, he wouldn't be alright with an "I don't know..." Learn to give a reason! Make one up, if you have to, but the next "I don't know..." will be followed by an "AAHHH!!!!" from me.

     Throwing socks away. Today my son actually threw his sock into a field. Why? "I don't know..." Seriously? After I made him go find his sock (which took quite a while, as we have quite a large field) he came back and "remembered" that he threw it in the field because it got dirty. Because that's where all dirty clothes go is in a field. (Duh.) And the countless socks and underwear I've found tossed into the garbage instead of into the dirty clothes hamper is truly incredible. I'm not sure if the kids think that new underclothes will magically appear in their dressers or if they just love throwing money out the window. Either way, I'm pretty sure I'll scream when I one day find that missing black sock of Cameron's in the wood pile out back or in the bottom of the recycling bin.

     Fingerprints on walls. If I wanted the finger-painted look throughout my house, I would've hired a team of 5-year-olds and set them free with a gallon of paint. However, I chose to paint the walls of my home solid colors, and the colors that I chose were not called "Dirty Grime" or "Crusty Booger". It's almost as if children feel that the wall will cease to exist if they aren't touching it at all times... feet, fingers, or entire bodies slide across my walls all day long. Had I known that children were like this, I would've bought stock in Mr. Clean's Magic Erasers years ago.

     What things make YOU go "AAHHH!!!" ?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Crazy Is As Crazy Does

     This evening's blog asks one simple question: How do you refrain from passing your own neuroses on to your children? (And don't you dare answer that you are not neurotic, because even if you weren't while you were single, you certainly are now that you're either married and/or a mother.) My problem is this... my bad habits, fears, and obsessions are painfully visible to my kids. They see each move I make, copy each conversation that I have, and mimic me to a fault. Recently, both children have developed a nasty nail-biting habit, despite the fact that I have only relapsed twice in my disgusting fingernail addiction. They've seen the few times I've chewed and now they're hooked! I feel terrible having passed on my germ-infested, bacteria-ridden infatuation to these little monkies that ape my every action. But how do I stop it?
     Something that's even worse, however, is the bequeathing of my fears onto children that need to be fearless. There are four things in this world that absolutely paralyze me with fear.
     1) Drowning (burn me, shoot me, eat me alive, but for the love of God, don't hold me face-down in a puddle or I'll die of shock way before my lungs fill!)
     2) Needles (any sharp object used to penetrate a living creature, be it knife, needle, or power tool, makes me sick to my stomach. I remember Biology class in high school and the frog dissection that awaited me... not only did the smell ruin me for life, but the thought of me slicing open an animal didn't even have the chance to morally enrage me before I got sick with fear of the sharp knife... I dissolved into tears and I'm pretty sure I've never been the same since!)
     3) Being trapped (perhaps this goes along with the fear of drowning... but anytime I feel that I'm suffocating or can't get out of an area, I'm liable to throw punches. I'm the girl that needs the tranquilizer dart when the elevator jams...you've been warned.)
     4) Spiders (big, small, hairy, fat.... it doesn't matter. I'm actually shuddering and itching while typing this! I'd rather encounter the loch ness monster than find a spider within 100 yards of me. Biggest fear of my spider phobia? Having a spider lay eggs in my face while I'm sleeping and then having thousands of baby spiders emerge from a sore on my face. Naturally, these spiders would then eat me alive, leaving me feeling trapped, requiring surgeons to try to save me with needles, and then floating me out to sea when they realize the spiders cannot be stopped.... Yes. I know. I'm troubled and I cannot help it.)
     So, when my husband accidently-on-purpose locked me in the basement yesterday (for the second time in a week) with the giant, hairy wolf spiders, I literally panicked and broke the door handle trying to escape... which my son got to witness. Not only is that slightly embarrassing, but I realized that I'm telling my children there's nothing to fear, as I lose my ever-loving mind over insects in a basement. I can't be the only parent out there that struggles with passing on nasty habits or crazy fears.... so I ask you: Parents, how do you not transfer your neuroses to your kids?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Listen To The Mama

    Travelling with a family is difficult. Not impossible, but certainly not a bed of roses. However, there is one rule of thumb that I've discovered to make this challenging event a succes: Listen to the Mama. It's not that men can't plan a lovely vacation or getaway.... it's that they simply cannot plan at all. So, knowing this, I took charge of packing my suitcase and those of the children (layers for cool AND warm weather, as well as dressy AND casual events), I made the traveling schedule with very regimented break times (don't even tell me you HAD to have that coffee, which you and I both know will go right through you), and I included "car supplies" complete with games, toys, pillows, snacks, and the appropriate amount of fluids so that everyone would get their needs met without exceeding my scheduled break times.
     On our trip, Cameron was amazed at the new sights. "This is a pretty country here in Michigan...", he exclaimed as he peered out the car window. "Cam... we're in Ohio... it's not a country, it's a state... and we're in a construction zone. But I appreciate your enthusiasm," I answered.  Due to my impecable skills as a wife, mother, and overall human being (too far?), we made it to Michigan in 5 hours and 15 minutes with only one potty break. And let the record show that I forgot nothing.... now, the kids may have unpacked a few items after I already packed them in their suitcases... but that can hardly fall on my shoulders, now can it?
     Because we listened to the Mama and we left Thursday evening, we were able to spend Friday relaxing with family and friends without the stress of needing to unpack, or feeling too exhausted to visit after a long trip. We took our time socializing on Saturday before going to my cousin's wedding. This was the first wedding the children had been to. Both were extremely excited and had TONS of questions about the festivities...
     "Why are they not boyfriend and girlfriend anymore?" (Cam)
     "Because they're married now." (Me)
     "What's married?" (Cam)
     "It's when Jess and Jason go from dating to being a family." (Me)
     "Are we married?" (Cam)
     "Pappy and I are married and you and Taylor are our kids...we make up a family" (Me)
     "Why are they dancing together?" (Cam)
     "Because they just got married and this is their first dance together." (Me)
     "Looks like lots of people got married today 'cause they're all dancing out there!" (Cam)
     "No, Cam, only my cousin got married today... everyone else is just celebrating." (Me)
     "Why do those people have the same clothes on?" (Cam)
     "They're in the wedding party... they're here to support Jess and Jason." (Me)
     "Are they married?" (Cam)
     "No, just the bride and the groom." (Me)
     "What's a bride and a groom." (Cam)
     (Ah, shoulda packed a Valium...)
     "A bride is the girl getting married and the boy is the groom." (Me)
     "Huh?" (Cam)
     "When Pappy and I got married, he was the groom and I was the .......?" (Me)
     "Broom?" (Cam)
     "No, the bride." (Me)
     "What's a bride again?" (Cam)
     "Oh, look, it's time for you to go dance!!" (Me)

     And then my kids danced like maniacs for about 3 hours. Cam nearly knocking down a polka-dancing elderly woman, and Taylor having seizures to the beat of the music. It was really a lovely time and I was so glad to have the kids there. On the way home, some people weren't listening to the Mama (ahem, Cameron and Taylor) and some people ended up crying more than one time during the lengthy car ride (Cameron). And then some people proceded to be hyper and act out once they arrived home, causing the Mama to yell (just a little bit) and cry (just a little bit). I spent some time lecturing Cameron on the importance of listening and following my directions, because I was pretty sure that one day it could save his life (even if that means that I'll simply refrain from killing him myself at some point). BUT, that being said, I was impressed that we all survived the journey. And I'm pretty sure we all can agree that it was due to this gal's magnificent skills.
    Unfortunately, today I woke up sick, my car broke down, and I had to miss half a day's work.... BUT, because of my son listening to the Mama after our talk last night, he came home with the first good report from school in a long time and informed me that he was "ready to start listening better". So, despite the million-questions asked at the wedding, and the hitting in the car, and the broken candle holder once we got home.... despite all that, I count it all a success. Because my son learned the #1 rule: Listen to the Mama!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Trains, Weddings, and Birthday Parties

     Michigan is my home state. It's flat, it's where my family lives, it's about 6 hours away, and my kids are utterly certain that the entire state is jam packed from border to border with trains. I'm not sure where they got this idea, but they must've overheard me talking with my parents on the phone a while ago about the fact that it would be nice for the kids to see a couple of the historic railroads whenever we come for a long visit. Keep in mind, my two can't remember how to clean their rooms, where their shoes go, or to flush a toilet. But they'll darn well remember that they once heard the words "Michigan" and "train" in the same sentence.
     We happen to be traveling to Michigan this weekend to visit my family, friends, and attend my cousin's wedding. This is the conversation I was priveledged to have with the kids in preparation for our journey:
     "Yay! We get to take the train to Michigan!" (Cam)
     "No, Cam, we're taking the car." (Me)
     "Are we taking the car to the train?" (Taylor)
     "No, Tay, we're driving all the way to Michigan in the car." (Me)
     "What car?" (Tay)
     "OUR car..." (Me)
     "Will our car fit on the train?" (Cam)
     "Listen very carefully, guys.... NO TRAIN. JUST THE CAR." (Me)
     "So we'll just see the train but we won't ride on it, right? Because we're taking our car...." (Tay)
     (Oh my gosh, seriously? I've had conversations with my grandfather, who has alzheimers, that sink in quicker than this.)
     "Taylor, look at my face.... we will not ride a train, look at a train, touch a train, hear a train, or even say the word 'train' during our trip. Do you understand?" (Me)
     "So we will just have to take the train home instead, I guess." (Tay)
     "I'd like to lay down in front of a train...." (Me)
     "Grandma Dora said there are trains by her house... why can't we go see them??" (Cam... getting whiney)
     "Guys, I'm not doing this anymore.... I know you love trains and we can go see a train on another visit, but we're only going to be going home for a short visit and will have no time for train rides." (Me)
     "What's a wedding?" (Tay)
     "It's a party where people get married." (Me)
     "Is it a birthday?" (Tay)
     "Nope, a wedding." (Me)
     "So will your cousin be married when we get there?" (Cam)
     "NO, we are going to watch her get married and then have a party to celebrate." (Me)
     "And then it will be her birthday?" (Tay)
     "Oh my.... Do you hear me when I speak? Ugh, go outside....Just.... Go, please!" (Me)
     "Hey, Cameron, let's play Birthday Party and get married!" (Tay)
     "Ew, gross.... I can't marry my brother!" (Cam)
     "SHE'S YOUR SISTER!!!" (Me)

     And this is why we are leaving for our 6 hour treck at bedtime and traveling through the night....

Monday, September 17, 2012

At Least It Wasn't #2....

     Ever have a day where you're pretty sure you'll scream if you see one more drop of urine? (Ever write a blog where your opening line is about urine??) When I get done with my job, I generally feel the urge to shower. Many of the homes that I enter throughout my day smell of urine, mold, garbage, or worse (and yes, it DOES get worse). So after touching and sitting on things in their homes for 8 hours, I have an overall feeling of Oh-My-Gosh-What's-Touching-Me!?!?!. What's bad, however, is when you get that feeling in your own home. After being coughed and sneezed on (numerous times) by all 3 sick members of my family, and spit on by Cameron's congested, slobbering mouth while I helped him with his homework, I was starting to feel a bit squeemish. But when we add the thrill of cleaning up (and stepping in) pee all evening, I realize it's no wonder so many parents self-medicate. (In fact, there's an allergy pill with a Nyquil chaser just calling my name....)
     Now, I understand that little boys have difficulty aiming while in the restroom. But I also know that my son is INSANELY lazy when it comes to all things bathroom related (the skidmarks in his drawers convinced me of that months ago, along with his ability to take a 30 minute shower without washing a single body part). Not only were there yellow trails and sprinkles all over the seat and the floor of our full bath, but it was also all over the lid and tank of the commode... I can only imagine the scenario that occured... my kid in there, probably trying to watch a stink bug fly around the room, all the while peeing on everything in his way as he turned his head to and fro. And if we're gonna pee on the entire room, there's obviously no need to flush the toilet.... afterall, it would totally take away from the experience if we DIDN'T have 10hr urine smelling up the house.
     And although he is "house broken"... Cameron still has the occasional accident at bedtime. And when it's an accident, I've assured him that I will not be mad, but that I need to know ASAP so that we can wash his clothes BEFORE he sticks them in the hamper and BEFORE he pulls his comforter up over amonia-soaked sheets. So, imagine my horror (and nausea) as I cleaned out his pajama drawer tonight and found a wadded up pair of pj bottoms that were still damp, the odor making me instantly toss them across the room? Picture a colony of asparagus-eating hippies all trying to save water, relieving themselves in a communal bucket. Yes. THAT is what my kid's jammies were marinating in.... along with all the other pajamas next to them in the drawer. So we spent the entire night washing our clothes, bedding, and drawers. (I won't even go into detail about how Pat or Taylor, not sure which, locked Cameron and myself in the basement while we were doing said laundry....and then left to go to the store.)
     But let's not leave the sweet little princess out of the fun! She does, afterall, feel the need to copy her brother at every turn, even if that means doing something utterly ridiculous (such as peeing all over the floor NEXT to the toilet when she "couldn't make it"). Now, it's not that I don't believe her, it's just that she has done this before.... and the timing was just too coincidental for me to really be convinced that this wasn't a planned event. Either way, intentional or unintintional, her apology to me and my wet feet after I stepped (AND SLIPPED) in the urine didn't make me feel the slightest bit comforted. I told her (again!) that if she has an accident she HAS to tell an adult so we can clean it up with bleach, not just smear it around with a wad of toilet paper.
     Ready for the kicker? She informs me that she DID tell.... she told my husband! Who then told the 4-year-old to go clean it up!! So, she can't consistently count to 10, but she has been promoted to Bathroom Aficionado for the evening, courtesy of her father. (Taylor can't reach the cleaning products, and even if she could, SHE'S 4!!!) His response when I questioned his judgement call on this one? "I thought she only dripped on the floor a little...."
     All I can say is that my feet didn't want to step in ANY amount of pee. But that's just me. And for the record, my dog just sneezed all over my leg. So, I'm going to bed before anymore bodily fluids can assault me. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Not The Mama

     What a week it's been! I finally feel caught up on sleep after my horrid week on-call, we started gymnastics, we had our first soccer practice AND soccer game (Pat has no idea who won after watching the entire match.... men.), and we sat through an all-day training on the enjoyable topics of "common mental illnesses in foster children" with the added fun of "deviant and normal sexual behaviors in children". Although the information was very, well, informative, it wasn't exactly a bring-on-the-party-hats kind of day. But all of this has been for one thing....the benefit of the kids and to make them ours forever....
     Only there's one small hitch. I'm pretty sure the kids hate me. Ok, maybe they don't hate me, but I'm certainly not the love of their lives, or even the like of their lives for that matter. I'm nothing more than a stand-in mother they were given when all of their other mother-options were taken away. (I'm pretty sure it's not technically a pity-party if there's no cake involved....)
     Cameron got in trouble the other night after he blatantly lied to my face and then emptied half the bottle of shampoo out (after this being a REPEATED offense with REPEATED consequences). I scolded him, told him I loved him, but that it hurts my feelings that he doesn't even feel the need to apologize for lying to me. I also informed him that he missed snack while he was busy dumping out the shampoo and that he can try again tomorrow. This brought on gut-wrenching sobs that sounded like that "tired cry" I've heard tell about from parents with babies and small children. I figured he'd wear himself out and fall asleep.... but after almost 40 minutes of unconsolable weeping, he pulled himself together (well, sort of), came to my room and apologized. I hugged him and thanked him for making such a good choice. I told him I loved him once more. He left my room and returned minutes later to ask if he could move to a new foster home. (Ok, well that hurts.) When I asked him why he wanted to move, as calmly as I could muster the question, he responded that he just doesn't like being here and it makes him sad. I told him that all parents would send him to bed for lying and emptying the shampoo out, but that even besides that, this isn't a foster home, this is HIS home... the home where he is going to stay forever when we adopt him because we LOVE him and would be heartbroken if he left. Tears ran down his face as he said, "I just think I want to live somewhere else, ok?" I told him we were all tired and we would talk about it in the morning.... And then I cried myself to sleep.
     But at least I have Taylor on my side, right? Afterall, she's been super-affeactionate the last few weeks, barely talking about her biological family, and calling me "Mommy" fairly regularly. (Yes, I recognize it's selfish, but I do LOVE the title of Mommy.... I didn't have them call me that until I knew we were going to be keeping them, but it's been a struggle to make the switch to this new title/name, one that I wasn't quite sure how to broach....one that I apparently failed at.) Taylor informed me this evening that she hates calling me "Mommy". (Ok, seriously kids? Space out the heartache a little more for Mommy...oh wait, Shivonne.) When I asked her why she hated calling me that, she wouldn't look at my face. She told me that maybe when she gets big she will call me Mommy, but she doesn't want to now. I told her that's fine and that she could call me a different name if she wants.... Mama, perhaps. She thought about it for a second and gave me a "Maybe" that didn't sound very hopeful. She went the rest of the evening being completley un-affectionate and she didn't even ask for a tuck-in at bedtime (something that would normally induce an all-out tantrum if missed).
     So, after the last few weeks of doing nothing but pouring myself out for my two kids, I realize that my "Super Mom" efforts were in vain. Not only am I not a Super Mom, but I'm not even wanted as a regular mom. I'm the rule-maker, the woman that makes dinner, and the one that tells them to brush their teeth longer than 3 seconds.... I'm the person that spends so much of her time trying to heal their rejected hearts that she end up feeling rejected herself. (I know, tonight's blog needs a black box warning. Maybe we can all go scream at the elderly or kick some puppies to feel better, as my husband would suggest.) But have no fear, I will continue my efforts at winning over the hearts of my children.... such a task most mothers are blessed to never have to endure. It's the path I'm on and the one that I will continue to treck until we truly are one, big, happy family. In the meantime, maybe I can pretend to be a Mommy for Halloween.... gotta start somewhere, I guess!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Baby Athletes

     I'm utterly amazed that by keeping our kids busy to the point of tears, we have greatly reduced their ability to get into trouble, simply because they haven't the time nor the energy to do so. Yesterday, Taylor had her first gymnastics class (pronounced gin-nash-tik). She was so nervous that she had a belly ache and she bit every teeny bit of remaining fingernails clean off! Yet, despite her nerves, she followed the rules, showed surprising flexibity, and she didn't look any less coordinated than the rest of the little girls. (In fact, she was the only one that didn't pick her nose, thank God, or randomly start spinning in circles with an Ecstasy look on her face.) After only 2 bouts of tears on the baby uneven bars and about 30 wardrobe malfunctions (Daddy put her loose fitting shorts on her before we left, so myself and the other mothers spent an hour admiring baby-buttcrack), she came out beaming and ready to tackle the world! Taylor was so confident playing at the playground afterwards that she was like a brand new child. She also sat through an hour and 45 minute PTO meeting with me that same night without incident.... (thank the Lord Jesus for smart phones and dress-up apps!) On the way home, I told her how insanely proud I am of her for being brave and being so good today. You know what that little nugget said to me? She responded, "You know why I was so good today? It's because I love you, Mommy!" (Ok, ok, I'm not crying.....too much....ok, just a little....) 
     And then today, Cameron had his first day of soccer practice. The boy was terrified. TERRIFIED. He refused to put his ball down and kick it, so he carried it around the field on his hip for the first 20 minutes (looking ever-so-slightly flambouyant). And there was a brief melt-down when he buried his head in my stomach and cried because he was scared. I reminded him that this is FUN and that he was going to be AMAZING if he just went out there and did his best. But this kid has never known the confidence that comes with doing something well, nor has he been shown how to let go and have fun without becoming a nervous ball of stress. So as I watched him digging in the field and unearthing a golf-ball in the dirt when he was supposed to be learning drills (which he was way more thrilled with than his soccer ball), I didn't get too excited, because he was at least out there, with his peers, and NOT holding the ball! And everytime he came over for a water break, he made sure to check that his golf ball was still safe and sound in his jacket pocket.... because you never know when a golf ball theif could be lurking at the local soccer fields. This boy also had a wardrobe malfunction when he couldn't figure out how to put the scrimmage jersey on.... neck through arm holes.... luckily the nice girl on the other team re-dressed my kid in the middle of the match so that he didn't have to look like a totaly wreck.... while I sat there video-taping him and poking fun (yes, I'm that kind of parent). But when he got done with practice, he literally ran over to me with his fists balled and a huge smile on his face as he shook with pride. He couldn't wait to see the videos I took of him "playing with soccer". When I saw that sweaty, big grin running at me, I had to blink back a few tears, because I was so happy that he (didn't fail?) overcame his fear and felt a surge of confidence.
     And now it's my favorite time of day. Bedtime. But not for the same reasons that it was over the summer, or even last week.... because before, I couldn't wait for them to go to bed so that I could get a break! Some relief! Time to mentally erase the arguing, handing out of consequences, and screaming of my name! But this week, there wasn't even time for punches to be thrown or tantrums to be had.... they were both too tired, too excited about the new things they've learned, and too.... well, HAPPY! This week, bedtime is my favorite time of day, simply because I'm just as exhausted and happy as they are.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Making Friends 101

     Taylor's first day of school was a success! In fact, she informed me this evening that she thinks she's going to continue going everyday... as if this were an option of sorts. Nevertheless, I'm glad she's on board, so I told her it was a good choice to keep going. So, I asked her all of the normal school questions: What did you do today? What did you eat for lunch? Did you make any friends? What were their names? It was the answer to the last question that left me wondering if we need to get her hearing checked. Taylor announced that she has three best friends and that their names are "Lucash, Zuke, and Leven". Now, unless her classroom is filled with hobbits, this seems highly unlikely to me. But since they are her "best friends", I will not judge... even if they ARE short with large, furry feet.
     Cameron, on the other hand, is not only neglecting to learn his classmates names, he's neglecting his classmates altogether. The fact that he is continuously being held back from recess due to not being able to stay quiet when he's supposed to be listening or because he hasn't finished his assignments, probably isn't helping matters. (Begin tirade: My kid's impulsive.... he's going to talk. Maybe consequencing him by taking away his ONLY talking and running time isn't the best solution.... And since he has problems reading and he will always take longer to get his work done, is it fair to punish him? Cameron's NOT the "problem student" that I fear he's being labeled. He was in FIVE Kindergarten classes last year because of his awful family situations.... he has no idea how to make friends because he's never been anywhere long enough to learn.... he got behind academically and he has the lowest self-confidence a 6-year-old can.... have some compassion and let the boy play for 20 minutes! I anticipate parent-teacher conferences requiring Xanax and a box of tissues.... End tirade.)
     Anyways, to help him make friends, and to improve his self-esteem, we decided to sign Cameron up for soccer (a few weeks past registration, so I literally know NOTHING about his team, where the field is, or who the coaches are.... best mom ever, right?). However, it didn't exactly occur to us that he wouldn't know what soccer is.... or that he is completely uncoordinated. So this could utterly backfire and make him feel even worse about himself (bring on the Xanax and box of tissues, again)! If only there were a sport or team-building activity that would allow him to dig holes, play with bugs, and look at tractors, all the while playing Angry Birds. Then he'd kick some 1st grade can! But until we're able to enroll him in John Deere school, we're going to give soccer a try and hope for the best. Feel free to come out and support our team (whatever our name is)... we're apparently the ones wearing green shirts this Saturday. I'll be the mom death-gripping her travel mug, chanting "please run the right way, please run the right way" and screaming like a maniac if my kid makes contact with the ball. GO TEAM!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

And The Grossest Child Award Goes To....

     I have decided that kids are gross. I'm not sure if other mothers have come to this conclusion about their kids as well, but mine actually triggered my gag reflex (twice) today. This morning, Cameron had an issue with hitting (again), so after a firm talking to (him being utterly yelled at for the regularly repeated offense) he was mopey and sent for a nap. Well, the nap was not going to happen apparently.... but alas, he emerged an hour later a much happier little boy. He came into my room holding something behind his back, telling me that he had a surprise for me. Awwww, apparently my horrific tantrum towards him didn't damage him that badly, yay!
     "Hold out your arm," he said with a toothless grin. I put my arm out in front of me as my child began to secure a bracelet made of thin rope, beads, and lego tires to my wrist. But something was very wrong....
     "Cameron.... why is the bracelet dripping wet?"
     "Well, I had to wet the rope to get the beads on," he answered.
      Now, I know that he hadn't come out of his room to use the sink, as my room is directly across from the bathroom....so I know that this cold, damp, stickiness is one of two things.
      "Um, exactly what did you wet it with, Cam?" (Cringing as I awaited the answer.)
      "I just put it in my mouth to make the rope soft," he said proudly.
       Gag reflex #1.... because ordinarily, spit grosses me out. But CAMERON'S spit smells like week-old, raw sewage that's crawling with maggots and beginning to decay in the middle of July. I tried my hardest to think about other things as he spent the next 10 minutes working on making the bunny ears to get this stinky shackle tied onto my wrist. I thanked and hugged him for my gift and waited as long as I could for him to tell me a story that seemed to take an hour to finish..... but I could wait no longer. I told him I had to use the bathroom, and as I shut the door behind me, I began to scrub my arm with sudsy water as quickly and thoroughly as I could, dry-heaving into the sink. I COULDN'T get the smell out.... so I added febreeze, which helped a little, but not enough. However, he was so happy that he made me jewelry, I just couldn't take it off. So for the rest of the evening, anytime I put my hand near my face I felt queasy all over again.
     Gag reflex #2 was set off by my daughter in the car on the way home this evening. We were all minding our own business, having a lovely time, when we caught a sudden whiff of skunk which seemed to be coming from INSIDE the vehicle. We actually had to roll all of the windows down as we sped along down the freeway. With eyes burning and shirts over our noses, my husband tried to hold back his laughter as he demanded to know who the repulsive culprit was. I turned around as Taylor answered, "It wasn't me!" while her index finger was about 6 inches up her nose. But I could see the traces of a smirk and I knew that a smell like that could only mean one of two things.... either she has a skunk down her pants, or we have the grossest children ever in our family. (It was the latter.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Kissing Hand

     Today was Taylor's first day of school ever! For her first day, the teacher wanted the parents to come and sit in with the kids all day to help them adjust. Afterall, it is a big deal to go from being at home all day to 5 hours of school, rules, and new foods! So, I took the day off of work to meet with Cameron's teacher and to be with Taylor in her classroom... (since I really can't picture my large, Italian husband perched on the edge of a kiddy chair for 5 hours without something catastrophic happening.) It was seriously one of the best days I've had with the kids since they've been in our home. I was still extremely tired, but the only thing I had to do in that moment was to be present for them.... no work, no cleaning, no papers to fill out, just straight attentiveness to the kids.
     The other benefit that I found was socializing with other parents. Did you know that ALL kids are crazy? It's not just mine! In fact, today Taylor, who is usually lazy as a sloth, was the best cleaner-upper in the class AND she asked to take a nap! There must be magic in the water at school (or benefits of having her mom home and attentive to her all day) because this is a brand new child! Riverside Head Start will be getting a hefty donation if they can also get her to stop picking her nose.... 'cause that habits a-gotta-go!
     One of the activities they had the kids do with their Mommy's was to make kissing hands (Cameron's teacher did this with the kids last week, but I hadn't read the book, so I had no idea what it was for!). The teacher read a story about a nervous raccoon that had to go to school and was terrified of missing his mom while gone. So she kissed the palm of her baby's hand and told him that her love will never wash off, and that if he gets scared at school, he can place the kiss on his cheek or his heart and he will know his mother loves and misses him. (Awww, right?) So, us mommies and kiddies traced our hands on construction paper, cut them out, drew a heart on each one, and then kissed the paper hands. Taylor keeps my big hand at school, and I keep her little hand with me at work. This way she can pull it out if she misses me.
     Now, my kid has attachment issues and I figured there's no way in this world that she's ever gonna give one more thought to my hand. So, about a half hour later, my on-call phone rang and I had to slip out of the classroom to answer it. Taylor was busy with another little girl and I figured I wouldn't be all that long on the phone, so I left without telling her where I was. However, when I returned to the classroom just minutes later, I was greeted by the teacher and my little girl, face stained with tears, holding my kissing hand to her cheek and choking on her sobs. This is the first time my heart broke and rejoiced at the same time. I never want her to feel sad.... but I sooo desperately want to feel love from this baby of mine. I picked her up and hugged her tightly and I thanked her for missing me.
     But have no fear, she repaid my classroom absence by embarrassing me thoroughly at McDonald's after school. But let me back up. This morning, we were on our way to school. She was nervous, I was nervous, and we both have nervous tummies. We were almost to her building and I knew I needed to let out some "steam" before going inside for the next 5 hours. However, as I did, Taylor looked out the car window and yelled, "ARE THERE FIREWORKS AT MY SCHOOL?!?!?!?" I couldn't play it cool, I couldn't hold it in. I laughed out loud in embarrassment. I explained that no, her school is totally awesome, but it doesn't have fireworks. That was just Mommy passing some gas. (Fast forward to McDonald's for an after-school sundae.) We just got our ice cream (great idea for a set of nervous tummies, eh?) and we were walking past a table of old men when Taylor chuckled and said (yelled), "Hey Mommy, remember when you farted and it sounded like fireworks in the car?" Maybe Head Start can work with her on this, too.....

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Working Mother Woes

     Not only have I completely stopped striving for sanity today, but I've lost my ever-loving mind. It's not that my kids hid my mind from me today (although my husband's looking a bit harried after the afternoon with them), it's the rest of the world that's taking a toll on this woman. Unfortunately, my kids don't understand the words "Mommy's on-call this week so she can't make plans with you" or "Mommy hasn't slept for 3 nights and is too tired to play a game" or "Mommy's heart is beating out of her chest like a bongo player on speed, so please stop asking so many questions or Mommy will stroke out".
     "Haha," (that's Cameron) "Why are you talking so funny?" (This from my little one that sounds like he's gargling marbles and can only make the sounds of half the letters in the English language.) "Cameron, I don't know.... Pappy's truck broke and we need a new one, I have to work extra this week and answer calls in the middle of the night and then I don't fall back to sleep, and then Taylor wet the bed and I had to get up again... so I'm tired and I begin stuttering when I feel this way." (I'm not even sure at what point my kid became the therapist and I became the client.)
     "What's stuttering?"
     "It's what I just did that made you say I was talking funny."
     "Why did you stutter?"
     "Because I'm tired, remember?"
     "Can I stutter?"
     "No, Cameron... reach for the stars, man, not stuttering.... it's not a good thing."
     "Then why do you do it?"
     "Because I'M TIRED."
     (10 seconds passes) "What's stuttering again?"
     "Oh look! It's bedtime!"
     As a working Mama, I'm feeling the strain of not accomplishing anything well.... when I'm home, I'm too tired or pre-occupied to be 100% there for my family. When I'm at work, I'm too stressed to be 100% there for my clients. And if I get the chance to make it anywhere other than home or work, consider it nothing short of a miracle, worthy of celebration (no, seriously. If you see me out and about, I expect to be fed chocolate cake immediately). I'm physically drained, on the brink of an anxiety attack, covered in hives (for over a month!), and now apparently in search for a new vehicle for my husband (do NOT bite your nails, do NOT bite your nails, do NOT bite your nails....) I thought school starting would make things better, but now there's PTO meetings, all-day classroom events that you can't go to unless you take off from work, kids that need help with each and every step of their homework, and now a fundraiser... on the SECOND week of school! They couldn't have held out to rob us blind for a few more weeks? There are literally small candles in this catalog being sold for $18. I know that our thriving metropolis of Western PA can be mistaken for New York and all, but this is a bit ridiculous. What kind of hoity-toity wax costs that $18? But all is not lost, because if Cameron sells 20 of these magical candles, he wins A DOLLAR. Keep the dollar... just kick him in the knee cap... six in one, half a dozen in the other.... I digress, my apologies......(I really do have school spirit, I swear....)
     So, how do you other stressed-out, financially bogged down, working Mamas out there survive? Have you found the miracle trick to spending quality time with your kids, even when you're beyond busy and "talking funny"? Is there some kind of medication that could remove the need for any amount of sleep so that I can actually accomplish my to-do list each day? Maybe Michael Keaton was on to something.... cloning has to be legal somewhere, right?



Monday, September 3, 2012

The Evil Back-Handed Compliments

     It's interesting just how much little ones keep you on your toes.... emotionally, that is. I know that kids "say the darndest things", but since when do they know how to make back-handed compliments? Are they teaching it in school these days or do my kids just have a knack for this? (Oh, I sincerely hope that this is not the only talent they have, because I don't think they hand out medals, badges, or trophies from this particular sport....) I remember the first full day that Cameron and Taylor were with us. They were both mesmerized as they watched me put on my make-up before I left for work that morning. There were plenty of "What's that?"s to go around, and a good helping of "Can I wear some?"s. It was in that first day that my guard was completely down and I assumed that compliments from children were all sugary sweet and heartfelt.... Taylor informed me that I looked soooo pretty with my make-up on. I beamed and thought, Aww, what a sweetie pie she is! She paused (do 4-year-olds pause for effect?) before adding "But you look really ugly without it." Yikes! Where did that one come from? Little snot-nosed, insolent child....
     So this evening, we sat down to dinner. Plates full of sloppy joes and cheesy broccoli. Apparently the children had been served filet mignon and lobster at their prior home, because they looked down their short little noses with disdain at their plates. "What IS that?", Cameron asked. I responded that it was a sloppy joe, that it was good, and that he should eat up. So he plows through half of his sandwich before looking at me and saying, "Um, this sloppy joe is really kinda gross." Which didn't smart half as badly as when Taylor told me, "You know, you are not a very good cook today, but I bet tomorrow you'll be better." (Said with a smile that was probably meant as encouragement but that I, guarded as I am now, took as mocking glee!) You're primary-school pallets are that advanced? Really? Taylor, I watched you eat a booger just yesterday.....
    Sometimes the sneaky little creatures REALLY like to throw me off my game by double-whaming me with not one, but TWO insults in one day. After a long shift at work, I went to the store and bought a bunch of new bedroom items for the kiddos that would reflect their individual likes and interests. They make mention of toys and whatnot that they used to have with their family that they had to leave behind. Knowing how difficult that must be, my husband and I wanted to make sure that we began to replace some of those items that were precious to them. Additionally, I thought that by making them feel super special in their newly decorated rooms, it would help them feel fully settled. So we spent the entire evening hanging items on the wall, moving furniture, and redecorating.
     Cameron was thrilled. "I love you sooo much!!!", he told me with his big, toothless grin.
     Taylor, on the other hand, stated very matter-of-factly, "I care about you a whole lot."
     Cameron's mouth dropped open as he said, "Taylor!! (pronounced Tay-loh.... due to the toothless thing again) Don't you love Shivonne and Pappy for getting you a new Dora bedspread and pillow?"
     Taylor simply answered, "Weeellll, I would've loved them if they'd bought me the Dora sheets, too...."
     Of all the greedy little stinkers I've known.....
     Cameron must've noticed my slightly deflated stance, because he told his sister that she was being very rude and that she should say "thank you". (At least that's what I think he said.... he really is hard to understand with that speech impediment!) I waited for a few seconds to see if a negative remark was to follow.... but nothing! Taylor thanked me for the bedspread and pillow, along with the other items for her room before going to bed happy. Cameron turned into a spaz because he simply can't control himself when he's excited, and he went to bed very happy. And because I feel that maybe, just maybe, my kids learned a simple lesson this evening, this mommy will go to bed happy as well.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Morning Pep Talks

     Am I the only parent that fakes sleep when their kids enter their room in the morning? It has to be breaking some sort of parental rule somewhere.... it's definately deceptive and surely my kids know that I can't possibly be that sound of a sleeper. Although, I'm pretty sure they take it as a challenge... a game, if you will, to see who can Wake-The-Mommy the fastest. The winner always receives a 1st place screaming and a boot out of the room.... but have no fear, there's a lovely consolation prize of tears (theirs AND mine) and a "Get to your room!" trophy. (And I'M the morning person in our family!) So far I've had my face poked, my nose picked, my arms and legs shook, and my name shouted into my ear. I sometimes throw out a fake snore before rolling over. I'm pretty sure they're on to my antics.... But I do honestly dread the thought of not having my first few waking moments to myself. It's like I need to give myself a morning pep talk....
     "Good morning, Self. I know you've only had a few hours of sleep, and I may be the only one that will acknowledge or even care that you look like a stroke victim due to exhaustion, but the troops are getting rowdy and are beckoning you from just beyond this closed door. You can only fake a coma for so long before they will learn to dial 9-1-1, so you better pull up your big girl pants and face the energized beings that are trying to peak under the door. Are those fingers I see?... Anyways, you can DO this, girl! Remember, they are just kids. Even if they stand on each other's shoulders, you are STILL bigger than they are. If they smell your fear, they will attack, so toughen up, eat your Wheaties, drink your coffee, and give them their first assignment of the day.... Wait, why are they singing? It's 6 freaking 30 on a Sunday morning! WHY ARE THEY SINGING ABOUT STRAWBERRIES AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS?? Are they trying to communicate with the outside world or something? NO, no, no... control your anger. Take a deep, cleansing breath... that's right... nice and easy. Remember to ask God for patience today, and for strength, and for whatever just crashed and broke in the hallway to be something that wasn't valuable. I know you have a busy schedule today, but remind them that you love them and tell them at least one positive thing they have done today... and don't worry, that's not a "I'm hurt" cry, so I'm sure Cameron didn't punch her as hard as she's making it out to be right now. And also remember to look yourself in the mirror and.... Crap! Are those gray hairs in my eyebrows?? You've GOT to be kidding me! Wait, wait.... look in the mirror and remind yourself that you're human, you're doing the best that you can, and that if you commit murder, this will be the last piece of glass the prison guards will let you see for a long time. Go get 'em, Tiger."
     And then the day begins. I open the door, and I see two smiling faces beaming at me, promising me in tiny voices that they're really going to try to be good for me today. The promise was broken more times than I cared to count; but the intention was heart-felt and tomorrow another day will begin with the same pep talk, a "God Help Me!", and a hearty dose of caffeine.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bipolar Mommy

LOST:   Sane, successful working woman; Smart, Organized, Reliable, Put- Together, Trendy, Fun

FOUND:    Older, rundown look-alike invader; Probably a woman, but hairier and disheveled from lack of attention to basic daily needs; Altered speech, unable to complete full sentences- prone to rambling; Chaotic in thought and action- loses things, forgets names, locks keys in car, at times deodorizes only one underarm. Scowls at loud noises and twitches when name is said in high pitches. Unable to spell F-U-N.

    Either I'm too insane to realize it, or I'm sane enough to know that I'm heading toward insanity. Not that one is better than the other, but I'm almost hoping for insanity so that I have something to plead when I am finally committed to the institution of my husband's choosing. These, you may say, are the words from a loving mother? Shame, shame, shame!! Perhaps I'm still too new to Mommyhood to understand the "pure joy" and "unequivical satisfaction" that comes along with parenting two precious little gems. Or perhaps the rest of the population is raising a generation of perfectly trained robots that follow one's every command. Or maybe it's that I am choosing to verbalize the things that we, as mothers, feel we are not supposed to say for fear of looking like failures. But let me start from the beginning...
     For almost 2 years, my husband and I have been trying to have a child. (Awwww...) After many successful attempts (thank you, sir!) yet unsuccessful conceptions, we chose to foster children. With both of our advanced degrees in working with kids, mental illness, and "the system", we figured we'd be good as gold as parents. Five months ago we were blessed with two little ones (Cameron-6, Taylor-4/45). Instantly, we were hooked. Our caseworker informed us that these children would probably be up for adoption and they would like us to take them. Thank Jesus, our prayers had been answered! We were a ready-made family... put together a little sloppily and hastily, but a family nevertheless.
     And then the attachment issues set in. And the behaviors escalated. And we found ourselves trying to love kids that we only just met, that struggle to love us back, and that make us want to play in traffic (at 5pm on an interstate). As an informed therapist and God-fearing woman, I try desperately to curb my seemingly Bipolar swings that range from loving to hating children on a daily basis.... but I've found myself falling short. In fact, just today I've grounded the children to their rooms 4 times (so far), locked myself in my own room twice, threatened to take away all their toys and give them to the neighborhood kids, and I all but promised to disassemble their beds and reassemble them in the yard if they touch that poison ivy one more time 'cause GOD KNOWS YOU'RE NOT COMING INTO MY HOUSE WITH THAT STUFF!!!! 
     Sorry about that, I thought I was talking to the kids for a second! So.... where does this insane, frazzled existence leave me? Well, it leaves me writing this blog, telling the world my flaws, and rejoicing with other parents (come on, you didn't think I was gonna exclude daddy's from the mix, did you?) who feel this same way and who may or may not be feeling successful for the day! Your own funny stories, parenting mishaps, and insane moments are unabashedly welcome at this blog. If you're a parent that cannot possibly understand why putting beds in the yard is the only possible solution to poison-ivy-fondling, then this blog may not be for you ;)


Striving For Sanity