Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Everything That Can......Will

Chaotic. Frustrating. Overwhelming. In a nutshell, those words could be used to describe my experiences from the last week and a half. When daddy is gone everything seems to go wrong. It plagues me, really. Bad luck seems to lurk around every corner and in everything I touch. I fear I've passed that curse on to my children.

My family seems to thrive on bucking the currant. We are drawn to a path-less-traveled and always manage to stir up trouble. I yern for a boring day...one that leaves me searching for excitement and longing for adventure. But alas, chaos and confusion seem to follow us where ever we go and in everything we do. And in some of those moments, I confess my "whoa is me" moan was kicking and screaming and stuck on repeat.

This past week has been full of moments that threatened to break this woman struggling to muscle it all on her own. Many have offered help...friends, family, even mere acquaintances...but the recieving and accepting the help is my downfall. I am bound by "not just strong...Army strong"...even if I am not the soldier serving. It was the oath I took the moment I said "I do". It is a challenge I continually face.

I very much felt down and out this past week....a victim, of sorts. A victim to circumstances that lie outside my control. Regrettably, I chase that "control" as a puppy chases his tail. Control is a fleating facade...but I am comfortable when I falsley believe I have attained it. It's a security blanket, if you will...one that is continually being yanked away from me. But demand its presence in my life...I will. In turn, when it is unattainable those overwhelming feelings and frustrations surmount.

My vehicle decided to die in my driveway and resisted all attempts at a jump-start. My wrestler forgot his wrestling shoes and head gear in his classroom...and we didn't realize it until 14 hours before his match. My alarm failed to wake me the morning of the state tournament, and I barely got my son to his match to prevent a forfeit. I worked with the tournament staff to bring my computer and web cam to skype the championship match for my hubby...only to have it quit working 15 minutes prior to my son walking out onto the mat. And most of those events reduced me to tears...which truly only frustrates me more.

It was in those moments that blessings seemed to pour over me. A friend helped me get the van to a mechanic....where it was thankfully only needing a new battery. The father of another wrestler drove to the school and had a janitor help him find my son's gear which he then drove back to my house. My parents, who were visiting from out of town, were able to get the other 3 boys ready while I drove like a crazy lady across town to deliver my wrestler to his warm-up mat. I arrived with the rest of the family in tow to cry as they played the national anthem as my son stood on his mat with his hand on his heart. And I watched my 7 year old son, determined and strong, go undefeated in the tournament.

So...for every "wrong" there was a "right"...for every "down" there was an "up"...for every "trouble" there was an "answer". And those are the moments I need to remember and be thankful for. Maybe we actually do have a smidge of good luck afterall!

Entry fees for family to attend state wrestling tournament................$120
State tournament apparrel and memorabilia...............$80
Food and snacks to entertain kids so mommy can watch brother wrestle...........$34
Watching my son become a state champion...............PRICELESS

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

I can't get my head to clear...to find peace...to find calm. I can't. This 2 weeks of hubby being at pre-deployment training is breaking me down. It's practice for the real thing....and I'm afraid I'm failing. It's all coming down on my in an instant...what I thought I could handle, for what I was sure I was prepared...is turning out to be my undoing. The world became heavy and dark this week....and I can't seem to catch my breath. I'm on the verge of tears constantly...which I am forced to choke down. Once one escapes I fear I will be unable to deter the rest.

All of it right now is bearing down on me....the magnitude of a year, the weight of the responsibility, the reality of alone-ness and the increasing sense of solitude. And my mama-bear is ever growing...overwhelming my need to protect my boys. Too many have offered "words of wisdom" in regards to how to handle deployment and my children. But until you've walked in my shoes and have been faced with picking up the pieces after 4 little boys tell their daddy good bye for a year...then please don't offer words of advice. My sons do not have to "suck it up"; they don't have to "deal with it"; and for heaven's sake don't patronize them by saying "a year will go fast". None of that is true! And their reality is that there is no guarantee that their father will ever come home. This is a war....soldiers die every single day....and that is the reality that I have to face...and swallow...and answer when my 2 oldest boys look up at me and ask. As an adult, yes, I have to "suck it up" and "deal with it", but my boys do not.

My reality is that our 7 year old son has worked hard enough to make it the state wrestling tournament...and he is ranked #1 in the state in his weight class! That's exciting and amazing and worthy of congratulations! But his reality is that his dad has been denied a 24 hour pass to come and watch and cheer and support and share the experience...which is now overshadowed with disappointment. That same little boy also has to go without a kiss or hug from daddy on his 8th birthday on Monday. He will go without his daddy on his 9th birthday because he will be in Afghanistan. Daddy missed his 6th birthday, his 1st birthday and his birth....all for the military. So please don't tell my child to "suck it up"....don't you think he has?

My reality is that my 12 year old son has been scarred from his daddy's first deployment. And he is struggling...struggling to make sense, struggling to grow up, struggling to be my helper, struggling to take care of his brothers, struggling to be strong, struggling to ignore the inevitable goodbye, struggling to be the man of the house when he is only just a boy. So please don't tell him he needs to "deal with it"....don't you think he is?

There is no instruction manual as to how to approach this situation. I am doing my best. And the only thing I know how to do is gather my cubs in my cave and attack anyone who threatens any harm. It might not be the best way...but it's the only way  I know. I'm doing my best....I'm trying to hold it all together....I'm trying to be mommy and daddy to my four boys...I'm trying to get them to every event they want to attend....I'm trying to teach and mold and correct...I'm trying to put on a smile and tell everyone, "It's ok. We'll be fine. I've got it under control." I'm trying...but this week I'm failing.

My heart is aching...for me, for my boys, for what my hubby will miss. My mind is racing...with unanswerable questions, with relentless prayers, with fears that keep me from sleep, with "words of wisdom" that leave me questioning my sanity, with bitterness and anger of which I cannot seem to let go. And with all of that...comes guilt. Because there are families out there that would love to have the option of sending their soldier back to war...only they didn't return after the first time. Who am I to whine and complain when I was blessed with my soldier's safe return, 7 years, and 2 more babies between deployments. We have a beautiful home and more than enough food....and yet I whine. So with all of the emotions that are drowning me, the cherry on top is guilt. I have no justification in feeling this way. My cup should be overflowing with gratitude and blessings.........................................but troubled waters run deep in my soul. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Treadmill Keeps Going

My treadmill serves an obvious purpose...to help keep me in shape. Physically you can see that it's working, but it also serves a purpose for me mentally. I use my time on the treadmill to re-focus, to think, to let my mind wander. I've solved some of the world's greatest problems while in the middle of a run in the privacy of my basement. It's gotten me back into pre-baby-#4 jeans, calmed my mind when stressed, eased my nerves over health concerns, and it's helped me work through my husbands' 5 month TDY (that's temporary duty for all you non-military readers) stint across the nation. My emotions on my treadmill are deep and wide....deep and wide indeed.

I get on my treadmill for time to think...time to breathe...time for my health...time for me. My mind goes where it wants...which can be good and bad. Sometimes I can't control what thoughts sneak in there. And when those scary ones rear their ugly heads and bounce around while I'm struggling to run and breathe...I feel vulnerable and weak.

Did you know that it's tough to cry, breathe, and run? My breath gets short and tight in my throat and my steps begin to lose their methodical rhythm. It's almost as if my body can't breathe deep, sweat and maintain "control" all in unison. Why is my oasis on the treadmill the time when the thoughts I am working so hard to resist come sneaking up behind me? I am unable to escape them as I run and run and run...and never get any further down the road away from them.

However cathartic my treadmill may be, it also leaves me open for unwanted thoughts and emotions. Goodbyes are hard; goodbyes that last a year...are even harder. The anxiety of the approaching day is growing more and more overwhelming, profound, and hard to escape. Fear, sadness, and anger all inundate my heart and mind and make it increasingly harder to breathe....both on and off my treadmill. But life keeps going...as must I.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hoping for Tomorrow

Her goal was to return to her classroom...but a single call changed her path. The students gave her smiles and strength..."policy" brought her tears. Fate gave her health scares and emergency surgeries ...God gave her hope.

Four years of teaching 2nd grade brought joy and laughter...but with it came a hysterectomy, a benign tumor that stole her ovary, another tumor that damaged her bowel. Surgery after surgery that drained her strength...and left her health impaired. And three weeks ago, an emergency surgery at the Mayo Clinic removed a third tumor. Hope at returning to "her" classroom, "her"students, "her" job filled her thoughts.

But today...today, changed her path. Today, the ugliness of policy damaged her soul and left her broken. Her body too injured to cope, her emotions too raw to express, a heart too betrayed to comprehend. Just like that her classroom, her job...was taken away and given to someone else. Just like that.

Teachers, great teachers, are hard to come by. This teacher is a great teacher. She loved the students, cared about them, was invested in their blossoming future....and the loss breaks my heart. Selfishly, I want her there for MY kids. I want her there to love and care for MY kids; to teach and mold MY kids.

Her path has been changed. Her journey is not a journey of a teacher....but that of a mother. Four children fear for their mother's health. Four children pray as they wheel her to surgery. Four children cry tears of relief as she awakens in recovery. Four children....who need their mother.

No. It is not always our chosen path. Sometimes our journey is changed by that which is greater...more powerful...all knowing. In limbo, she waits while trust and hope battle fear and doubt. In patience, she rests while tears try to mend her broken heart and feelings of betrayal. Time passes slowly as her body heals...but time is her resting ground. She is broken...but perfect; flawed...but beautiful; vulnerable...but precious.

There is but a time for everything. This time, this moment, this path...demands for her to be still and know and trust and pray. Our path, our journey, our way is not always ours to choose. Sometimes the detour is scary and painful, heartbreaking and confusing...but tomorrow the sun will rise...and maybe the path will be lit.

This post is written and dedicated to my son's second grade teacher who's health has deteriorated and job was taken while home trying to recover. It is in response to the prompt: "write about a time when you took a detour. Where had you intended to go and where did you end up?" This is part of the Red Dress Club.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This- Mama Kat's Workshop

"Listen to your mother" is a common phrase that can be heard ringing through several American homes. The hubby/father comes home like clockwork from his daily commute to be greeted by a smooch from his exasperated wife and then a barrage of questions, reiterations by second-opinion seekers, and the occassional tattle-tale that resembles one of his children. And often times those inquiries can all be addressed and, frankly, dismissed with a "go ask your mother" or a "listen to your mother" blanket statement. At least, that is how the cookie crumbled where I grew up. Very rarely did we actually have to be disciplined or reprimanded by my dad. And he was seldomly saught out in the event of a teenage crises. Mom was our go-to gal!

My mom always told me that her mission was to raise her kids. And indeed she put her heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into our short time in her home. Whenever I had a challenge, my mom was in my corner. At every sporting event my mom was shouting "go sis" and encouraging me to do my best. When heartache occurred my mom held me while I cried. When we moved to a new farm in high school and I was missing my friends...my mom stressed the importance of family....that home is where ever your family is. And when I found out I was pregnant as an unmarried 20 year old...my mom embraced the joy of being a Grandma and taught me how to be a mommy.

Her devotion and dedication to my siblings and myself wasn't lost on me. She sacrificed much to ensure that moments big and small were shared with her. She taught me to enjoy the simple things, to laugh often, and to love with all of your heart. Hard work was a daily lesson as we learned to garden, helped work the cattle, and watched our mom make clothes, blankets, dish rags and anything else you can imagine. You name it...my mom did it. She was a farm girl through and through...raising her kids to be self-sufficient, reliable, and hard workers.

All of those are wonderful lessons, but I think the most important was the lesson she taught us regarding time management. When I first became a mother she told me to spend my time with my kids not with chores because "your kids will never remember if the house was clean; they will remember the time you spent with them". It's the greatest lesson she has ever taught me...and I'm thankful for her teachings.

I wrote this post as part of Mama Kat's writer's workshop. I chose prompt:
2) 10 things my mother taught me

Mama’s Losin’ It

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Military trend...Fashion Post

I love the military/camo trend that is everywhere for spring and summer. I think it's sexy-tough...not sure if that is an actual fashion term but just work with me here! Since hubby has been in the military since he was 17, we have lots and lots of military apparel around our house...green camo, dessert camo, digital camo...you name it, I've washed it!

Instead of running to the store and buying all the sexy camouflage apparel and accessories I needed (or wanted...potato/potahto) to outfit my closet for spring, I decided to flex my thrifty muscles and use what we already have. But, I am not always on the up-and-up with fashion...and that's where  two amazing fashionistas, whose blogs I follow, came to the rescue.

Modest Fashion Sense did a great post - using my hubby's camo jacket- including tips and tricks ( and pictures...which really help me!!) to look modest, sexy and pulled together for spring in the military inspired styles. She used really girly pieces and accessories with some great colors to make that jacket pop!! Since she is so crafty, she also included some tailoring ideas to spice it up even more!!

And Lulapalooza sent me a detailed email with several ideas to girl up my hubby's boxy jacket. She said you can dress it up or dress it down! Some of her ideas include wearing it with leggings or jeans and a patterned shirt and cozy cowl. Or pair it with a casual/floral dress and it will look "smashing". Use black, khaki, neutrals, soft pinks...almost any color will work. Throw on a belt to accentuate you waist. And when it gets warmer, pair the jacket with shorts, and gladiator sandals. If you're into the cowboy trend, you can wear it with a plaid shirt, roll up the jacket's sleeves and pair with cute western-inspired boots! Stripes are also good...mix it up! Plaid with a black and white scarf would be totally cute. Lace will give it a feminine touch. And any boots can be paired with the army jacket. Remember a little black dress is always a go-to item. Add long dangly gold earrings and platform shoes (or boots) and you are ready to go!

Those were her ideas not mine...see why I sought out her help?! She's a gem! Her ideas are awesome!! Here is just one of my interpretations, and I can't wait to try more (just need to wait for a little more sun and warmth before I break out my shorts, dresses and sandals). Plus, my hubby thought I was super cute and sexy (Bonus- my 12 year old commented on how cute he thought I looked...so that's gotta be good, right??) I paired my LC faux leather leggings (from Kohl's) with my sexy lace-inspired heels (from Target), with a pink lacy top (Kohl's) and brown belt (JC Penney). The necklace (it's tough to see) is purple, pink and black over-sized beads made by my mama! Add some feisty red hair, and I'm ready to rock it!

Now, go check out the camo post at Modest Fashion Sense...she has more great ideas with pictures! She is really awesome. And don't forget to also visit Lulapalooza....she is always posting great fashion tips, tricks, and idea!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

We Are The Champions, My Friends

I'm a super competitive person. Right, wrong, or indifferent...I want to win. Whether it's in sports, cooking, organizing, child rearing, arguments...you name it and I want to be the best at it. I actually struggle with being beat...at anything. So you can only imagine how difficult it is to sit and play board games with my boys and to LET.....THEM....WIN. It's part of the unspoken mom code....we don't get to win! I've played and lost countless games of Candy land, Chutes and Ladders, UNO attack, Bingo, Old Maid, Slap Jack, and War. It comes with the territory...but I don't have to like it!

For as long as I can remember I've had this unnatural desire to win. That is probably why I had much success in athletics. If you are going to compete against me, you better bring your "A" game because I don't believe in the mercy rule. You can say or think what you want about this behavior, but it is what it is. Of course, I've learned to control it...somewhat...but the fact remains that I am a winner...and I like it like that.

The problem comes into play when  my guttural desire to win gets in the way of reasoning and logical thinking. Now, I don't ever do anything dishonest, deceitful, or that which would be considered cheating in order to win. But I can get quite cranky when not on a winning team or if beaten by a respected opponent. I'm not angry with anyone but myself....ok, maybe a little bit at the other competitor or my teammates that didn't preform as expected.....but mostly myself! And I very often have to squelch my winning desire when watching my children compete. That can be quite the challenge. I have pretty competitive kiddos who have been blessed with the gift of athletic talent. And I want them to win! Even though we learn WAY more from losing than winning.....I want to win!

I've learned and perfected the art of being a graceful loser, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it. And I teach my boys that "winning isn't everything", how to handle a loss, and to be humble in a win...all because I now know better as an adult. And I don't want my boys to fixate on winning....although the high of an amazing win is somewhat addictive. I guess it's just part of growing up, learning lessons, and wisdom gained. But let's be honest...life is about black and white, right and wrong, winner and losers.

Don't you want to be a winner too???? Do you enjoy the thrill of victory??? Or am I alone in my competitive tendencies???

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I've Gotta Mystery To Solve

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails....boys will be boys....the devil made him do it.

OK maybe that last one can refer to little girls too. I know they aren't full of sugar and spice all of the time. Plus, I had an in-home daycare full of little girls and, trust me, their halos are just as crooked as boys if not more so. Be that as it may, I have a lot of experience with the destructive ways of little boys. I have four of them...and one big one, but I digress! Tackling, jumping, diving, crashing, throwing, wrestling! The atrocities that my poor house has had to endure at the hands of the cutest four boys around are almost unmentionable.

I've confessed- complained really- before that having boys brings with it challenges all its own. My bathroom is assaulted daily. My couch cushions must have wronged furniture-royalty in another life because they are vandalized constantly. And I don't even want to talk about my carpet. Just the other day I watched my son (for the sake of his embarrassment I will not divulge which son) flick a booger across the room.....and then laugh and do a little pick-it, flick-it song and dance! I'm not sure if mama's of girls have to endure such torture.

That's just the assault of my home. My boys are a little rough on their own things as well....namely, toys! Good thing we have an over abundance of them because the trash-monsters are here to stay. Each of my boys has a "box of men" that they have received from "Grandma on the farm". Their boxes are full of rescue and army men about 3 inches tall. My boys LOVE them. They play with them constantly. You could dump any one of the boxes out and find men missing arms and legs, random heads, and broken body parts galore. We have trucks and cars missing wheels and accessories, puzzles that will never again be whole, and containers full of toys with missing or broken pieces. None of that seems to bother me...it's just how boys play. But I was shaken to my mom-core the other morning when I came out into the kitchen to start some much needed coffee only to discover this:
A half-a-Velma! People! Where's the rest of her? Why just Velma? What about Fred or Shaggy? Nope...just the smart nerdy one (I take offense to this....just so you know)...broken in half....laying haphazardly under my kitchen table....completely discarded. Boys....a creature all their own! I can't explain their nuances....I'm just trying to survive!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Red Dress Club: A Mama's Journey Through The Guilt


It comes in every size and in every color. It beckons to the imperfect and holds them captive. It knows no race or sex.....but loves to dwell in the stillness of a mother.

It weighs heavy on her heart. Brings her to tears. Shames her in the mirror. Every snarl, every short response, every grab that was harder than it should have been looks back at her...mocking her. Doubts echo in her head...in her heart....when she sits quietly in the dark. Every time her baby cried longer than he should have, every nighttime feeding that was met with a growl, every selfish moment stolen in the bathroom, every "just a second" as she put the child off to finish some other task.

At night, before going out with friends it laughs at her while putting on her "fancy" clothes and "good" makeup. And hangs on her as she tries to gracefully walk out the door...cries still ringing in her ear. During stolen secret moments it beckons her back as she checks her phone knowing that the child must need her.

It keeps her rushing home and through the door only to discover that the world didn't fall apart...not tonight anyway. It's what makes her tiptoe into the darkness of a quiet, sleep filled room to gaze at her sleeping angel. Her heart aches to read just one more bedtime story, to give one more rock-a-bye, to get one more kiss. The giggles of her young hold her heart captive. Their aches she feels, their joys she shares, their tears she holds. Every moment seared onto her heart. Even the anger of the child can't stop her from holding and loving.

But in the quiet, in the stillness of night, in the solitude that comes with motherhood...guilt rears it's ugly head. Will it cause you to do greater and better and more or will it hold you captive while choking your joy? Will it live and thrive and taunt you of your failures? Or will you admonish it's hold, standing up to its struggle and rise to call of duty.........as mom?

This post is written in response to a prompt from "the red dress club". Our prompt was to write about something ugly and find the beauty in it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Writer's Workshop: I Don't Know What To Say

This is a true post written as part of Mama Kat's writer's workshop.
1.) Write about a time a friend left you speechless.
   Mama’s Losin’ It

I heard it ringing as I frantically searched through my desk drawers and then purse to grab it before it stopped. I knew it was him. Time seemed to stand still, and I couldn't move quickly enough fumbling and fidgeting with every lock and zipper.

"I'm gonna miss it! Wait! Wait" My heart was beating so hard I could hardly swallow, and before I even grabbed that darn powder-blue phone there were tears burning my eyes. Everyone in my office was standing up listening to me curse and fumble and choke down tears as I tried to get to my phone...watching me struggle to maintain some kind of composure while my hands shook, my face turned red, and my breath was tight in my chest.

It had been 15 months. 15...long...scary...with-very-little-contact...months. And all I wanted to do was to find that stupid phone and hear his calming voice. Who else could possibly be calling? I work all day...nobody calls me. It had to be him.

Ring! Riiiiinnnng!  Rrrrriiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnggggg!!

"Hello!" I practically shouted as I finally, finally put the phone up to my ear.

And there it was. The sweetest sound my ears have ever heard. "Honey. We're in the US." And that was it. I crumpled to the floor at my desk and cried sweet tears of relief, silently listening to my husband breathe American air for the first time in 15 months. Unable to speak anymore. Unable to comprehend what was to come. Unable to put my love, my prayers, my hopes, my fears....my relief into words.

He said "hello".......and the silence has never been so sweet. He said "hello".....and we cried quietly together listening to the others breath.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Let's Get This Party Started!

Happy, happy birthday
To me and not for you!
If it was your birthday
I'd serenade you too!

Yay!! It's the anniversary of my 30th birthday!! Woop! Woop!! 30 isn't going to know what hit it....again! Anyage, it's my birthday (as well as Liz from a belle, a bean, & a chicago dog so go wish her a Happy Birthday, too!) so you have to play by my rules. In our house, mama's birthday is an event (as mandated by the reigning Queen) so I am expecting great things from my day (ie: gifts...yes, that's plural). And since hubby will be deployed for my next 30th birthday....we have to go big! Unfortunately, it will probably go a little something similar to "business as usual" complete with a load or two of laundry, cooking, picking up toys, wiping butts, and the bathrooms are screaming for a little TLC. But even if I am expected  to "carry on" I can still rock a pink Happy Birthday crown all day as I go about my business. It's only my day for 24 hours...so I have to make the most of it! I'll keep you posted as to what transpires on "Crystal-palooza"!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Channeling Harold and The Purple Crayon

Graffiti scatters the walls throughout my house...both upstairs and down. It is the markings of the much dreaded and very often feared toddler that has left nary a wall unscathed in my humble abode. The unwanted hieroglyphics can be found on anything and everything 3 feet and lower, and this particular tagger prefers to vandalize using the color green.

 Scribbles, scrawls, and swirls all evidence of my sneaky artist who seems to move quickly and quietly throughout as to leave his markings....a quiet reminder that I am, in fact, NOT in charge.

He hides behind a quirky smile and knowing grin with eyes that sparkle with the facade of innocence.Yes, he is a hard criminal to catch in the heat of the moment...always two steps and three giggles ahead. Unsure where he finds his art supplies, the rest of us are baffled by his resilience. His medium of choice is Crayola but any random pen, pencil or marker will suffice just as long as he is able to tag his desired target!

Innocent? I think not. His eyes may say sweet, but his demeanor says sneaky!!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Back With The Living

Our house has been germ mania. Last week I was channeling night of the living dead. Fortunately, I awoke to a new found zest for the living.... I can smell! I can breath! My lungs don't ache, and my eyes don't burn! Thank goodness for drugs and sleep! The infestation of germs has held my family captive for 3 weeks now...each week someone else falls victim. Looks like this week my 7 year old has been targeted. Poor little dude! It's like "spin the bottle" at my house, only instead of a kiss you get smacked with strep, mono or influenza! Anybody want to play with us??? No?! Well, in lieu of dwelling in the house of the sick, we have kept our spirits high. They do say laughter is the best medicine....good thing my dudes keep me laughing!

* our 7yo came running upstairs very excited with something to tell us. Obviously it was important because in his hurry to impart us with some knowledge he neglected to dry himself off from the shower. His jammies were pasted to his body and water was running down his skin. "I know how many hours are in a week! 208!!" Daddy and I quickly did the math in our heads (because who really knows that kind of information...and it's 168 for all of you doing the math right now) and delivered our dude the sad news that, "No, buddy, that isn't right." He slammed his little hands on his sides frustrated with us and said, "But I did the math in the shower!" I can definitely say that I have NEVER done math in my shower!

* During some family TV time we saw an advertisement for "Black Swan". The boys wanted to know how ballerinas "walked" (yes, I know it's actually dancing....but we are dealing with 4 little boys here!) on their tippy toes like that. Our 12yo in all of his middle school wisdom decides he will explain it to his inferior little brothers and states that "they have magic shoes". Sorry buddy.....maybe you need to leave these questions for mom and dad.

* while our 12yo was home from school with his bout with our germs, our 4yo seemed quite concerned. He rubbed his big brother's head and in his sweet voice said, "I hope you feel better yesterday, Ty-guy". Me too, buddy. Me too.

* My boys' new favorite movie (read: we watch it every...single...day) is "Over the Hedge". An oldie but a goody. At the end of the movie all kinds of crazy is going on with the lady swinging around a weed-whacker and the man flailing some kind of electric shock tool at the wild animals. Our 4yo, who has some hearing issues and basically lives in his own little world, starts giggling and yells, "don't touch the weenie whacker (which is what my boys refer to their penises as) or the zip-zapper!" It may be his own view on the world....but I tend to agree!

* We were playing a family game of Zingo and every one of us needed the same tile. Ty (12 yo) grabbed it before everybody which frustrated TJ (4yo). He glared at his big "drudder", "I needed that damn piece!". I may or may not be guilty of introducing the usage of that word.

You know what they say, "a family that laughs together, stays together". Or is that "the family that's sick together, sticks together"? Not sure...either way, I think they are keepers!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friends? Friends? Where For Art Thou Friends?

I was a social butterfly in high school. As the non-designated daily morning greeter, I took it upon myself to grace every student and teacher with a chipper and louder-than-necessary "good morning" and toothy smile as I passed them in the halls. I loved people, life, school and all-things-social. Even in college, I "good morning"ed everyone on their way to an 8am class with my glistening smile. My thought was maybe I was the only one to offer that person a smile that day...so it better be big and sincere. I never really seemed to be super down-in-the-dumps...I was a genuinely happy person; high on life (not drugs!). I thought I had great, loyal friends...friends whom I would share our milestones in life together, laugh until we pee-ed our pants, and offer a shoulder if we needed to cry.

But somewhere in the middle of meeting the guy I KNEW I would marry ( I had to convince him I was a catch!) and being a mama for the past 12 years....I've lost some things. I've lost my love of people, the joy found in all-things-social, and my gaggle of friends. I no longer greet the morning with song and dance  (I used to bellow "Good morning! Good morning! It's time to rise and shine. Good morning. Good morning to you!!" all the time...annoying? Heck no...endearing, lovable, and cheerful!!) When informed that I must attend a function, parent meeting, party, military family gathering, I take on an air of defiance, crankiness, anxiety. I don't have any need to meet new people, socialize with others, or painfully make small-talk. The thought actually gives me a negative physical reaction.

I could go into great detail and maybe I will at a later time...but right now I'd like to defend my abnormal behavior. I've been let down...repeatedly. People let you down. It's a fact that I carry with me...deeply rooted in who I now am. My then-boyfriend and I got pregnant in college...unmarried and very young. Very few friends stood by me, offered help, or stayed to share in my adventure. By few I mean 1 maybe 2 that I can remember. I became a mama at 20 (and 3 times more since), sent my hubby to war at 24, and will send him again at 33.....all without a friend beside me or in my corner. My now-hubby was, is and has been my only lasting girlfriend. I don't have a friend to call when something great happens. I don't have a friend to call when something terrible happens. No circle of girlfriends to see the latest chic-flick or grab appetizers and wine. I go shopping rarely because trying on clothes in a dressing room full of little boys is far from enjoyable. These are the things for which girlfriends are made.

With hubby as my only girlfriend, he is the one I ask about fashion advice (I can hear you laughing!), he is the one I talk to when I am sad (or I just deal with it in my own head full of voices), and he is the one I desperately try to have adult conversations with in the evenings (I'm sure he hears mwa mwa mwaaa mwa mwa mwa mwa). As a guy, all of his words are used up by about 4pm...so conversation is dry at best with minimal grunts, ugg's and nods from the peanut gallery.

Even now, I struggle to let potential girlfriends through my defensive wall that has been built up over years and years of friends letting me down. Part of it is my own crazy which is best left for a moment all its own. But part of it is that life is busy for all of us...potential besties and all. So, in my mind, it's better to "go it alone" than to try and delve into a friendship for which neither of us have time. But, I admit, when others talk about outings and events with their girlfriends I get sad, lonely, jealous. I'd love to be lumped into that "girlfriend" circle...but I'm not the one they call. So until I can figure that part out...my posse includes me, myself, and I...and a crew of dudes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I've Fallen For You

I think I've mentioned before that I am not the most graceful debutante at the ball....but that has clearly never left me being one of the lonely wall flowers. It's my charisma that draws them in...not my clutsy that sends them running! I convinced my hubby- then just another boy on our University track team- to accompany me to the track party. He tells the story differently, but I think he was so enamored with my awesomeness that it took some persuasion on my part to convince him that he should attend afore mentioned party on the arm of an older girl. No accidents happened that night, but in the woo-ing weeks that followed I managed to inflict much injury. A hurdle-ing crash that caused whiplash ( I kid you not...ouch!) and one that left my delicacies bruised from front to back (more ouch) were apparently all part of my master plan. My overall charm and hilarity left him smitten (and just a little cautious)...and the rest is history. We've been married for 11 years and have joined our DNA 4 times!

He was quite the doting hubby during pregnancy #1. Always worried about what and when I ate, made sure that HE cleaned the house so I didn't breathe in any chemicals, rubbed my feet without complaint, and made sure he followed orders to-a-tee when we were decorating our home (this was most assuredly because he wanted to keep me off chairs and step stools). I had it so good...I'm not sure what I did to change this desired behavior, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.

With pregnancy usually comes unsteadiness, what with our blossoming belly, boobs, butts...all things 'b' seem to expand, widen, and bloom! However, I had a pretty uneventful 9 months.  Maybe pregnancy and increased hormones actually added to my slim-to-none levels of gracefulness. One can dream, right? I thought I was pretty invincible...class all day, supper for my man once he got home, and then we set out for our 3 mile "walk"...hubby says it was more like a sprint....potato, potahto. Pregnancy shmregnancy! I wasn't going to turn into that incapable pregnant lady, and I was bound and determined to fit back into pre-baby clothes at record pace. Hence, our walks needing to be daily and intense!

The night before our due date was cold and blusstery in northern South Dakota but walk we must. I was still under the impression that I could walk that baby out (or drink enough raspberry tea, or take a hot enough bath, or ride in a bumpy car....you get the idea) so I demanded that hubby (actually, we weren't married yet....sooooo....baby daddy) bundle up and escort me on my walk. He reluctantly lead the way as I gracefully-burgeoning tummy and all- trotted behind him. We lived on the third floor so stairs were a daily chore. As I went to skip down the stairs my foot slipped, and I bounced all the way down and past baby daddy who totally forgot to catch me! Think Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory....that's how round I was with baby #1. So you can imagine how gloriously my body bounced down those stairs. The sight....hilarious. But my backside begged to differ! Hubby-er- baby daddy only giggled a little until common sense kicked in and he realized his uber preggo baby mama just fell down a flight of stairs! In his defense....I probably would have laughed at him if the shoe was on the other foot. Falls are funny! Except when it's a pregnant lady!!

Baby and mommy were fine....albeit, my ego - and backside- were quite bruised...and my tailbone was broken! However, that bumpy ride did not encourage our precious bundle to make an appearance anytime soon. That little dude hung out for another 10 days until we forced him out with friendly fire! My hubby now loves to re-tell my falling down the stairs fiasco (wait....haven't I fallen down the stairs into hubby another time????).....and I love to remind him how he failed to catch me (again)...as is the duty of all expectant fathers!