Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mom's calendar can be exhausting

When I was back at school, I used to occasionally have something my roommates coined Sunday-night syndrome. You know, the nervous stomach, the fatigue ... that unsettled feeling.

It wasn't because I was a bad student, or I was dreading a test or anything. I would just look at everything I had to do that week and feel overwhelmed.

Little did I know how easy I had it back then - just me, work and classes. I can't believe I complained.

These days, I look at my helpful mom calendar/organizer on the bulletin board, and I sometimes wish I hadn't. School is back in. But then there's a day off. And here's an orthodontist appointment. And a doctor appointment. And jury duty for husband - where did that come from? And then there's a project due at work ... the one where no one's returning calls. Arrgh.

And there's lunches to be made, and bills to be paid. And sleep ... we all need sleep. No problem - I'm tired already.

But it's like we tell our kids,right? Just take it step by step. Pretty soon you'll be walking.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"C'mon TEAM, Let's GO, GO, GO!!!"

I don't think my husband has ever yelled at me. Not once, really. He's an exceptionally laid-back guy.

Until, of course, it comes to watching sports. Then his voice reaches decibels previously unknown in this household.

I don't understand it; I never will. Screaming at the TV? Yelling at your team? Maybe it's a guy thing; I don't know. It doesn't seem like fun to me, but since he's been doing it faithfully every season - football and basketball - for nearly 20 years now, there must be some appeal.

Of course, now that we have children, his vocabulary isn't quite as colorful. There's far more, "God Bless Americas!" and "C'mon now, guys!! and far fewer epithets then there used to be.

Actually, God isn't mentioned nearly as much as He used to be. That stopped the day after a particularly stressful Chicago Bears game, when my young daughter and I were driving to the store.

"Jesus Christ, mom, roll down a window," she told me. Dad and I had a talk later.

My husband says the team senses the enthusiasm. My little boy seems to get a kick out of it. As for me and my daughter, we'll just stay upstairs, watch movies and eat popcorn. Sans screaming, thanks anyway.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Time vs. attention can be a balancing act

We've played Apples to Apples four times already. We've watched old movies. We've drawn pictures with these cool markers that are filled with paint.

I've been pulling out the stops trying to make sure that the kids are entertained during their winter break - especially since there's been yet another blizzard and we can't really go anywhere.

But over the weekend, it hit me the kids weren't looking for entertainment. They were perfectly happy spending time with me, even if I was just loading laundry or making breakfast.

My son wanted to talk to me about his Mario game skills. My daughter wanted to giggle about these hilarious YouTube videos she'd seen. A few times, they'd put on little impromptu skits to make me laugh.

They didn't want my entertainment. They wanted my attention. They deserve it. But as any harried parent will tell you, that can be the hardest thing to give. So I'm trying. But it could be a long week.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"I don't need the money. I have enough."

He was waiting for me when I got out of the bathroom, and he was holding a tiny, bloody tooth in his hand.

"I just wiggled it a little bit," my little boy told me. "And it came out. I didn't even think it was that loose."

It was late, really late, but somehow, the tooth fairy managed to find him that night. At our house, the tooth fairy is pretty thrifty. I've heard tales where she leaves $5, even $10, even higher, but here, she just leaves $2. (He lost a tooth, after all - not a limb.)

The next night, the boy came to me, tooth fairy money in hand. "Mom, you had a long day," he said. "You can have this."

I laughed, assuming he was joking. "Honey, that's your tooth money. Put it away."

He looked puzzled. "But I don't need the money. I have enough." He put it in my hand and walked away. The next day, his school library started a book drive; Scholastic was matching any monetary donations with books to non-profit organizations. I gave him back his money, and he gave it to his school.

I think I could learn a little something from that kid.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spring can't get here fast enough for me

This afternoon, I couldn't wait to walk outside. It was, after all, a balmy 35 degrees.

Sure, it was a little chilly. But it was still about 30 degrees warmer than this time last week.

This winter has seemed endless. Maybe it's because it started snowing so early. Maybe it's just been too cold for too long. Or maybe I'm just getting wimpier as I get older. But I am more ready for spring this year than I've been in a long time.

I'm already dreaming of planting flowers and weeding my garden, and believe me, that is usually one scraggly example of back yard botany.

Every morning, as my daughter and I trek to the bus stop and shiver in the cold wind, we remind each other, "This is the route we'll take to the neighborhood pool."

Only now I'm actually starting to believe it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kids, moms, dads - do the Potty Dance!!

I just found out about the Potty Dance. I'm still laughing. It's so silly. And I have to wonder: If my mom had taught me to do a little dance every time I went to the bathroom, would I still be doing it today?

The Potty Dance, if you're new to this too, is this little routine made up by the marketing folks at Pull-Ups to reward kids for using the potty.

At least I think it is. Because at first, I'll admit, I was very confused. I saw this commercial where this mom and her daughter are at a park and the little girl says, "Mom, I have to go potty."

Now, in real life, the mom would get really frantic looking because she knows she has about 30 seconds before the kid blows. She'd grab the kid, pick up her gigantic purse,(in which she has likely stashed a roll of toilet paper or some wet wipes from the last time she was at Applebee's) and start looking desperately for a semi-clean bathroom or a big tree.

But no. This mom smiles. And makes her kid dance. What the ...? So, see, at first I thought the Potty Dance was some cruel and unusual punishment foisted upon a kid who has to go to the bathroom. But I'm pretty sure I just dozed off or something.

Because then I found out it's a little reward dance. A NINE-STEP reward dance, so it must have been quite a potty, but still. I'll just have to check it out. Of course, my kids are already potty trained. So I'll need to do the routine myself.

What? Why should kids have all the fun?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fitness fest foiled by the Hamster Dance

Stupid Hamster Dance.

Why, if it wasn't for that song, I'd probably be a dancing queen by now.

See, I'd mastered Party in my Tummy, and I was grooving with Funkytown, but there was this one little bend and shimmy in that evil Hamster Dance that made my hip pop so loud my husband, reclining on the sofa, started into a sitting position.

"Whoa! What was that?!!" he exclaimed. "Was that your HIP???"

We were, of course, doing our new fun Wii "Just Dance 2" game, which consists of choosing songs and doing dance routines. Well, okay, we were actually doing the "Just Dance Kids" version, ostensibly because our kids were dancing with us, but in actuality so mom - not exactly in prime fitness condition - wouldn't keel over in front of the family and ruin the fun.

We just got the game, so my husband hasn't quite decided whether to participate. Of course, after hearing my hip pop like the top of a Pepsi can, there's a good possibility he may never be seen in that TV room again.

Aside from minor bodily injuries, though, it's pretty hilarious - even if I'm just singing along as the kids shake their little booties to "It's Raining Men."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What if one day, mom just said, 'No?'

The other morning I was lying in bed in that blissful half-asleep state, and it was cozy and warm and quiet, when suddenly I heard it. The unmistakable scrape of the snow plow coming down my street.

I should have been happy, I know. I'd actually be able to get out of the driveway. But I wasn't. I was sick of winter, tired of being cold. And as I awakened and thought of all the chores the day had in store, I briefly - for just one, crazy moment - thought about just saying "No."

I wouldn't get up. The kids would stay home from school. Those projects at work? Well, someone else would do them, I guess. The laundry would stay in its overwhelmingly high pile, and the groceries that we needed would still be needed tomorrow.

We'd just all take a break from life - from winter, specifically. We'd stay warm and snug inside, watch cartoons, read books, eat leftovers, nap and simply not answer the phone.

It didn't happen. I got up - of course I did. Any mom knows it's not that easy to just stop - there's far too much momentum to put on the brakes that fast. But for a moment ... for just a minute there ... isn't it tempting to think about?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Keeping the dark away during the storm

Outside, the snow came down relentlessly The giant blizzard that had been predicted for days had finally arrived.

Inside, my son stuck to my side like glue. And he's an independent little guy. So it took me awhile to figure it out. I just knew that even with books, Wii games, DVDs, tons of toys and even his sister around, he wouldn't leave my side.

As the sun set and the snow continued to fall, he wandered with me into the bedroom. I noticed then he was carrying a small flashlight. It was for when the power went out, he told me. To keep away the dark. Then I understood. My husband and I hadn't been the only ones hearing the dire predictions from the weathermen. My little boy had been there, too, wondering and waiting.

So we curled up in blankets, he and I, and talked. I told him a blizzard doesn't necessarily mean the power will go out. Yes, storms can be scary. And yes, it was freezing outside. But we'd be just fine in here, warm and together.

Later, when I tucked him in, he handed me his flashlight. "Hang on to it," he told me. "Just in case."