Archive | August, 2016

The Kindness in a Dollar

30 Aug

I walked into the battery store with a shattered iPhone (my son’s) and a four year old with a too-big flowered dress.  With a store called Batteries + Bulbs it didn’t carry anything my youngest would find entertaining.  But she was chatty and patient.  

An old man with a tattered baseball hat, clean Dickies denim overalls and shaky hands was in line.  He was the only other customer in the store.  The associate rang up his purchase which came to $16.00 and some odd change.  The old man said, “No, it was $12.67.”  Without blinking the associate turned back to his screen and said “let’s see what we can do” and began pushing buttons.

The man turned and smiled at my youngest and asked if she would be back in school this week.  My youngest is very tall for her age and doesn’t look four, so we talked again about how we are starting school when we get to our new house.  She told him about her purple flowers as the store associate said “There.  $12.67.” The man nodded.  I recognized the nod of satisfaction.  I’ve seen it before growing up in a small town with many rural people.  My own father would have that same nod as he would wave to each car he passed in the country where he grew up.

We waited as the man gave a twenty and pulled a plastic coin holder out of his pocket.  The same ones I remember car dealers giving as promotions back in the 80s.  In fact, it looked just as worn out as the one I knew was sitting in the junk drawer in my parents house.  I pictured it saying the name of the Chevy dealer we had to drive by nearly every Subday drive growing up.  “Let me see if I have the change” he said.  He held it out in front of him and the associate patiently took $.67 from that pouch.  He took his 8 dollar bills and dropped one on the counter.

Instead of putting that dollar bill in his wallet, he turned back to us and handed it to my youngest.  “Buy yourself a treat, honey” he said.” She did look back to make sure I was okay with that before she took it and said thank you.

This beautiful man with red, watering blue eyes, a wavering smile holding a carved black cane then talked about his grandchildren and how they were sweet too.  The oldest now in college.  Most of this conversation was between my youngest and the old man.  I smiled, my heart aching for the grandfathers I don’t have in my life anymore , but thankful my children are blessed with theirs.  We said goodbye and took our turn in line where the associate was just as kind and patient to us.  I love good customer service.  Some people just are amazing at what they do.  He was one of them.

I told my son about this exchange in the van.  He said the old man had walked out with a giant smile on his face.  Well, sir, that made three of us.  You made my day and my daughter’s day as well.  

She naturally wanted to immediately spend it on a treat and a purple slushee was the perfect thing.  But it was given to spend on a treat and that we did!  

Random acts of kindness do exist.  It’s our turn next and I can’t wait to share that moment with her.


Bad Mom

28 Aug

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I am a mean mom. Maybe a bad mom too. Probably.  Even this blog has four drafts sitting in it where I compile something sweet about my kids.

But the truth is, at the current moment I hate them.

My oldest spends his time on various video games or biking with friends. And then complains that the cat has pooped on his pillow.  By the way, since it’s his cat the cat boxes are his chore.  Das Booty and I slunk our way downstairs with my new one-handed laundry basket to wash sheets and I checked them.  

There was mold on the cat poop in the litter box.  So next time he tells me “yeah, I scooped the cat boxes” I’m calling absolute bullshit on that.  I’m glad the cat pooped there and I think he needs to use the allowance money he’s clearly not earning by snarling a “fine” to rotating the dishwasher only to put dirty dishes in the cupboard.  It’s a dishwasher!  It does the work for you!  I was his age washing dishes with a scouring pad and a sink full of Dawn dish soap.  You usually had to drain the sink because the water got cold mid-wash or oily.  Yet, my kid can’t be bothered to put the dishes away and set the dirty ones in a rack that you unwrap a soap pellet and push a button? 

My middle daughter doesn’t have many words to begin with.  But lately they have all been forgotten for the scream.  Or should I say scream(s).  The “do not go near me” scream, the “I want that right now” scream, the “no, I mean McDonalds-see right there where I’m pointing” scream, the “I don’t want to ride in the child seat I want to sit in the basket so you have no room to shop” scream, the “I won’t hold your hand in the parking lot” scream, the “I’ll go outside when I choose without telling you, what do you mean that’s not okay” scream, the “not this song” scream.  Even when she’s happy she’s screaming.  She’s swinging her heart out in our backyard.  Still screaming.

My ears hurt.  Redirection no longer works.  My voice seems to make no difference.  If I had a mute button I would make sure that I left that station on mute.  

And then the youngest.  My sucubus.  The little girl who refuses to be quiet and will continue to scream at  me “mom!  I said I saw a blue car!” unless she hears my acknowledgement of this amazing piece of knowledge I have no idea how I survived without.  Forget sitting.  She’s on my lap, climbing on my boot or snuggling up to my shoulder.  Cute, yes, but when you hear “mom! Arm!” because I’m not snuggling right I’m done. 

So, yes, I’m sorry dear children, but mommy doesn’t want to hear “it was my turn!” or “but I wanted to hug you!” I don’t want to hear you scream and I think anyone who throws his bread crusts on his bedroom floor deserves to have the cat pee on his pillow.

But I’ll probably love you again in five minutes.  Or twenty four hours.  It all depends on you.

Whatever Gets You Through 

22 Aug

I love walking.  I love when I can get a runner’s high on the elliptical and I love how I feel when I work out.

This summer that started slipping.  My “free” time (any time not tending to one of the million things my kids need during the day) was spent cleaning for house showings and packing for relocation.

And then suddenly it began to be painful to walk.  I thought tending to my kids was tough before, but trying to chase Nyssa back in the house when she escapes or walking downstairs to my washer and dryer…impossible.  

Until Das Booty.  I’m the proud owner of a sleek nylon orthopedic boot that squeaks when I walk, but I can walk.  I’m even more awkward than I was pre-orthopedic boot and I suddenly have no use for my left shoes.  My husband and I named the boot and to keep the loneliness of commuting at bay I share pictures of wherever Das Booty and I go.  We aren’t very busy.  Some Target runs, the library, the post office once and Das Booty did travel to Milwaukee over the weekend to spend time with college friends.

Today I took it to the gym.  In fairness I wanted to last Friday, but that particular rainy day my sassy special needs lady could not be in the same room as her sister without hitting her.  I couldn’t trust her with other kids in the childcare room, but today she managed!

But the stationary bike is the only cardio I can do without pressure on my foot.  I hate the stationary bike.  I read as I pedaled away, tried a show on Netflix, tried running music, but it wasn’t the same.  Honestly, I hated it.  But I trudged through just aiming for my 30 minutes.  

Around minute 25 I hit my wall.  I was about to throw in the towel and limp back to the childcare.  I was stopped by a squirrel.  It jumped up into the window pressing its forefeet into the glass.  I made eye contact with the furry critter and laughed.  A fellow biker and I watched this squirrel as he tried to dance in the window, then brushed his tail to the side as he climbed the side of the building.  Minute 28 I was still pedaling, but instead of thinking “I can’t stand this” I was laughing.

I finished my 30 minutes thanks to that squirrel and made sure my husband got a photo of Das Booty before I hobbled out the studio.  And thanks to my 30 minutes I kept some of my patience when the youngest threw her sister’s ball across the street, the middle smacking her sister to steal the purple beads from her neck even though the matching pink ones were around her own.  And the teenagers sigh as he complains about watching Zootopia again.  

Whatever it takes to get you through the day.

Shopping With Three

16 Aug

I like small amounts of shopping.  I’ve never been someone to spend an entire day browsing through stores, buying bag upon bag of stuff I want.  Usually I’ll scour the clearance racks, make a lap through the areas I’m in the mood for and I’m done.  

Don’t ask me to grocery shop.  My husband does that as I rarely plan an actual meal out of it and end up with lots of impulse buys and can easily spend $100 on food.  But no gallon of milk or loaf of bread in the mix.  Which then requires another trip.

But now…it’s summer break.  And my husband is gone 13 hours a day for work.  That’s a heck of a lot of time to entertain my kids.  Eventually we all get sick of the same off white walls in our half packed house.  And we go buy a sprinkler.  Or Popsicles.  Or yesterday headphones for the oldest.

I may have mentioned I’m gimpy this week.  A random (injury?) of my left foot makes it challenging for me to walk.  Well, OK, it’s painful and challenging.

And I swear my middle daughter uses this to her advantage.  I limp through the store bearing my weight on the semi carts.  I call them semis as they’re impossible to steer.  The cart in front of the two seats where your toddlers can happily ride.  Or in my case, argue over who had what side, dive off to try to put something they want in the cart.  All while trying like hell to avoid crashing into other people, the carts of empty boxes that employees are reshelving Lysol wipes and shampoo.  That are never pushed to the side, but blocking the whole aisle.

By minute five  my foot is throbbing, my girls have tried pushing each other off the cart, and I somehow limp to the shampoo aisle, changing my pathway twice to avoid hitting a pregnant woman and shelf stockers that stare at me as if I am the inconvenience.  Only to find…they don’t have my shampoo.

By now I wished I had the scooter cart, but trying to keep my daughters near me is impossible.  I have to choose between comfort and my little lady with an extra chromosome who if she is not in a cart will find it hysterical to run off and play hide and seek.  It is not funny.  In the least.  Especially when she doesn’t reply to her name and I have no clue if she’s still even in the store.

But my kid got his headphones.  My girls got shampoo (with Dory on it!) and no one ran away.  

But one adventure was enough yesterday.  And still enough for today.  As one kid tried jumping on the couch, one has been giving the dog milkbones every time she’s in the kitchen, I’m sure I need to entertain them again today.  I say everyone grab a book and read today!  (Think it will work?)


14 Aug

I’m not a morning person.

At all.  My husband can attest to that.  My kids can too.  In order to be somewhat functional I need coffee.  

During the school year I would try to get up a good hour before anyone else.  And pray the Keurig didn’t wake up the youngest who’d be waiting to climb in my lap.  That is my face when I’m given the gift of quiet time.  Because that is the only time during the day I get to myself.

I love my family.   Love them, love the hugs I get and I do enjoy the fact that my tall, lanky four year old loves to cuddle with mommy.

But I also need peace.  I remember when I was a kid I would hear my mom making coffee at some absurdly awful time of the morning.  Like 5 am.  I would roll over and go back to sleep always wondering why she would get up hours before she needed to.

I get it now.  The delicious black liquid slowly warming me and giving the little caffeine kick that helps me forget getting up to change a diaper, check to make sure my diabetic kiddo is just thirsty and not sick with ketones, or being trapped under a little body after consoling her though a bad dream.

The silence of my house, the only sound is the tiny click of my cat’s toenails as she jumps to the recliner arm.  She purrs softly as she knows this is her time alone with me too.

I accomplish nothing during this first half hour or hour of the day.  Chat online with my lovelies, my dear friends that met online.  For one it’s the middle of the night, the others mid-day.  No matter what time of the day it is chances are someone is there waiting for the others.  I game on my phone, or read.  Or both.

That early hour of the day is my magic time.  As an introvert I love spending time with and chatting with friends and family, but desperately need the solo time to unwind.  This early hour makes it worth getting up for.  As a kid I could close my bedroom door and read and write for hours.  As a parent my life now revolves around these littles.

So my morning coffee is vital.  And if I’m lucky I get a few minutes before I fall asleep as well. Because their needs are important, but so are mine.

To Wear Underwear or Not

8 Aug

No, I’m not talking going commando here, but I’m glad I got your attention.  Nor am I talking about my own drawer.  In this case I’m talking potty training.

I have three kids.  Kid number one was a boy.  Boys are supposed to be hard to train, at least that is what everyone told me when he was little and we were putting Cheerios in the toilet and letting him earn stickers on a potty chart.  Quite frankly, he was pretty easy.  I swear I snapped my fingers and one day he said he was wearing underwear.  We went to Target and bought a few packs of Lightening McQueen underwear.  I honestly don’t even remember many, if any bedwetting scenarios.  But life also got more challenging after that with the entry of kid number two, so I may have forgotten.

Kid number two has Down Syndrome.  Our pediatrician and I had short conversations about potty training yearly at well-checks.  Neither of us thought much of diapers.   At two she said typically children with Down Syndrome are often trained between 4 and 9.  I remember thinking. Nine?  Really?  That’s a long time, but no worries, she’ll be trained before then.

So we had diapers.  And diapers.  And diapers.  Thankfully she wasn’t fussy on which ones so we could get the cheapest ones for daytime use. She went to daycare in diapers, still had no desire to try.  Went to early childhood still in diapers.  Again, still no desire there.  But we’d also had Kid number 3 during that time, so she was also distracted by life’s events.  And we didn’t push it as we were busy with that third kid.

Then Kindergarten happened.  That was a new school, mommy was suddenly an uncomfortable stay at home mom, so while she would go once in awhile, the diapers would stay wet.  Again, big life change so perhaps not now…But we were outgrowing size 6 diapers.

What does one do when you don’t fit in a diaper anymore and aren’t potty trained?  Stores didn’t have bigger than a six.  If you look on Special Needs supply websites the bigger diapers looked like adult diapers.  She was way too small for those.  And I won’t even mention the price. So we tried overnight pull ups.

And bought those and changed those daily.  Clearly age 4 wasn’t working.  Age 5 didn’t.  Neither did 6.  Or 7.  First grade we tried harder.  No luck.  Still buying overnights.  Which worked okay, but almost always leaked overnight.  And, without too many details, I can tell you overnight pullups are designed for small liquid messes.  Not solids… ( I do a lot of laundry.)

Around age 7 to 8 Kid number three (who was 3) was ready to start.  She too, was out of diapers as she’s my tall kiddo.  Off the charts tall for her age meant pull-ups.  She too, decided (finally) she was ready.  And we now own stock in Disney Princess and unicorn/horse underwear.  It means we have to buy the bed liners because she will still have accidents sometimes.  (Too much water?  Bad dream?) But for the most part, Kid three was fairly easy.

But Kid 2, at 9 is still in pull-ups.  They’re the size large to extra-large overnights.  And she doesn’t seem to mind them.  But in the past year she’s learned when she needs to go.  Goes most of the time in the bathroom (I cannot fault her for the fact that there’s five of us in this house to share one bathroom—it’s a rule if one of the girls has to go the person in there hurries.  If an accident happens then, well it happens).  She’s discovered that she should change her pull-up when it’s wet.  For awhile, that meant dropping it on her bedroom floor and Mommy or Daddy hitting that spot with Lysol and showing her where that thing goes.  But now it’s usually in the vicinity of the garbage can.

Suddenly, she’s started waking up in the morning and actually going straight for the bathroom.  And sometimes those changed pull-ups in the garbage (thankfully, she’s figured out they go there now!) are dry. And we all cheer when she goes number two in the bathroom.  (Some of us may giggle uncontrollably while thinking of the Austin Powers scene “who does #2 work for!)

It means, dare I say, she might be ready.  After nine long years.  With back to school sales I bought a massive supply of Hanes or Fruit of the Looms (does it really matter?), but I still have her in those pull-ups.  At this point, I look at the pull-ups and I look at the underwear.  Is it me that’s still holding her in the pull-ups?  She’s not 100 percent here on using the toilet.  But if she had underwear, perhaps she’d be more motivated?  

But what if she pees on our couch? Or in our mini-Van?

But then I remind myself what my other two did.  When they were fully ready they let me know.  They switched to underwear.  Just like that.  So, today I am washing that bulk pack of underwear and putting them next to her pull-ups in the bathroom.  She still isn’t very vocal.  But she lets us  know what she needs or wants.  And I think when she’s ready for those underwear, I will be too.  She will just put them on instead.

I think I’ll be ready.  I think…Maybe?


They’re Just Kids

3 Aug

My son spontaneously asked if he could have a sleepover tonight with a couple buddies.  They’re thirteen.  

Those were the days my sleepovers were rampid.  My best friends and I would drink Koolaid and play Truth or Dare where we spilled our guts on which boy we’d consider kissing or with a dare run upstairs and steal a pea from the hot dish that was served for dinner.  (The part that made that dare-worthy is the dad slept in his underwear and you might have see that.)  

The fact is, those sleepovers are some of my best memories from growing up.  Thanks to social media I can stay connected with those friends and we share memories of the time we summoned ghosts with the Ouija board (not really as one of us may have been gently guiding that plastic piece.  Truthfully, what ghost would want to answer who would be going with us to the dance) or ice skating late in the evening.  Or doing The Macarena in our pajamas.  They were great times. 

So when my kid asked me I said yes.  Even though tacking on two 13 year old boys in my three bedroom ranch didn’t sound like fun to me, it did to him.

Throughout the night there were a few wardrobe changes as someone hosed another one in the front of their shorts.  They got their exercise cruising down the hill on their bicycles and playing Pokemon Go.

When I finally managed to get the girls to sleep (as what sleepover wouldn’t be complete without a pesky little sister trying to follow you around), I tried to ignore the banter and giggles coming from my living room.  And did manage to fall asleep.

Until I hear a loud pop, then the sound of three boys dashing inside my house shutting off the lights.  And then a man outside swearing about threatening to call the cops if you kids were up to no good.

Sigh.  First I had to find out what they were actually doing (shaking a full Pepsi can and then throwing it on the ground so it exploded).  Again.  They’re still kids.

Then I had to go chat with mr threatening with his cell phone ready to dial and his viscous dog that came to me tail wagging and kisses on my cheek.  

I murmured my “I understands” to him, listened politely as he complained about Pokemon Go and all the people driving slowly in the neighborhood.  And how the city is going to Hell quickly as I scratched his dog.

He walked off and so far I haven’t seen the police, but my message that they’re just kids seemed to have pacified the swearer.  

Now these boys can share the “remember the time the cops almost came and my mom had to go outside in her pajamas?” story.