Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring: Officially Broken In (part 2)

I had a feeling it was going to be bad when the older children went home early with their friends leaving me with five children under eight in my vehicle. I suspected it could be a very long three hours, but as I told the other moms the night before, "It's probably going to be fine. You know how you visualize the worst case scenario? That's probably what I'm doing, and in reality it's going to be fine."

It was worse than the worse case scenario.

Just getting out of town took 45 minutes. First we had to haul the garbage out as there is no garbage service at the cabin, which is really no problem except that one of the bags flew off the roof of my car. The good and bad of caravaning is that someone was behind me to retrieve it. Good for me, bad for them.

Next was a stop for gas. While filling up the cars, Erin informed us that her tire pressure light was on. Luckily I always carry a tire gauge (in the glove compartment, not my pocket), and after a quick inspection found that two of her tires were indeed slightly low. "Just pull over to the air station, and I'll put some air in for you if you want," I offered. I pulled in and parked, turning in my seat to field yet another request from the back seats.  When I, at last, turned back, wondering what was taking so long, I saw what I hoped I wasn't seeing...but, sure enough, Erin had backed into a little white car that had pulled behind her to fill a propane tank.  Luckily, his car was not damaged, but Erin's bumper had taken quite a little hit on the corner. There was a good five minutes when I think Erin temporily lost her mind: "I hate this car! I didn't want this car in the first place! Ethan is going to kill me! I have the worst luck in the world! My house flooded! Aaaaaaarrrrgh!"  (Jen and I refrained from mentioning that the house flooded 5 years ago.)  While Erin blew off steam, I stood mutely by while Jen thanked the gentleman for his kindness and understanding. When Erin had recovered herself--which she did in an admirably short time--she said, "Oh, forget the air! Let's just get home!" Unfortunately, it was going to take us a while.

We pulled into traffic and set our course.  By this time, as we had driven a total of 15 minutes, a child in the head vehicle was already carsick, of course. We pulled into CVS for a little Dramamine. Looking back on it, we should have insisted ALL the children take it, but we were under the scenario that the worst had already happened. Oh, little did we know.

Finally, forty-five minutes after beginning and 5 miles later, we hit the open road.  Fifteen minutes after that we were pulling over again.  Erin stepped out of her vehicle and I rolled down my window.  "Griffin says he's feeling really carsick and wants to ride with you."  She had graciously offered to take him in her car to help relieve me and had bribed him with video games, which is like crack to Griffin.  If he wasn't interested in a DS, I knew he was really not feeling well.

As he stepped into the van, he was ashen.  "Hey, buddy.  Are you alright?"

"I don't feel good."

"Okay, I want you to watch the road for a while.  Let's put this vent right on you and take some deep breaths okay?"  Looking around I spotted the Costco licorice tub.  I emptied out the last few pieces and handed it to him.  "If you throw up, do it in this, alright?"  He nodded, and we pulled back onto the highway.

Already tired of his car seat, my baby started to bellow. "Hey, guys. Guys! Guys!!!" One look in the rearview mirror confirmed that the children had fallen into a TV trance. They were glassy-eyed. Their mouths were hanging open. They were oblivious to the screams of a baby. "Logan!!  Logan!!!"


"Where's the baby's bottle?" I said trying to sound more gentle than I felt.

"I don't know."  She hadn't taken her eyes off the TV.

"Well, look."

"Here it is," she sighed.

"Could you give it to him?"

It quieted him for a moment. Only a moment.  The children have an uncanny ability to block out his wailing.  I do not.


"What?! Jeesh!"

"Honey. I'm sorry, but you are going to have to help me. I have to drive. Here," I said handing back a baggie of Cheerios, "give these to the baby--one at a time, please."

"Why do I have to do everything?" she muttered under her breath.

There was a whole string of things I was tempted to mutter under mine.

The baby was not going to be appeased.  The screaming continued.  The only thing left to do was to check his diaper, although I had just changed him before we left.  "Logan.  Logan!!"  She tore her eyes from the screen momentarily.  "Is the baby stinky?"

Her eyes drifted upward again, and leaning only marginally to the left she made a face. "Yeah."

"Great."  I muttered.  I phoned Jen in the car ahead.  "Hey, sorry, but I think I've got to pull over and change a diaper."

"There's a town coming up in about a half hour.  Do you want to wait 'til then, or--"

"No.  He's really screaming.  I'm afraid if he's poopy he might be getting a rash."  I needed a second opinion.  "Just a minute, Jen.  Hey, Griff!  Griffin!!"  Then back to Jen I complained, "I swear!  Nobody is listening to me."  I moved the mouthpiece away from my lips.  "Hey, Griffin!"  He finally stirred.  "Is the baby stinky?"

He, too, did not make eye contact.  Leaning slightly to the left, he muttered, "No."

"Oh, boy.  I don't know what's going on, Jen.  Just a minute."  I was getting irritated now.  Yelling over the baby I said,  "Hey!  You guys!  Look at me for two seconds!  I need to know if the baby is poopy."

No answer.  No movement.  To hear Jen tell it, this is possibly where I lost my mind.

"Somebody put your head down there and smell the baby's crotch!  Smell the baby's crotch!!!"

They never did come to a consensus, and when we pulled over and I unstrapped the baby and tugged him out of his seat, no poop.  None whatsoever.  If my children read this as adults, they may want to consider writing Jen a thank you note for her sense of humor.  It may have saved their lives.  So as not to waste yet another stop, we made everybody use the outhouse at the rest stop.  We were determined that we would cover more than 20 miles before we stopped again.

(to be continued...)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring: Officially Broken In

When I look back on Spring Break this year, I smile.  Mostly in that hindsight-is-20-20 sort of way, but I still smile.  I think we, the four crazy moms that agreed to take 16 children (including 2 babies) to a cabin in the snow for 3 days, saw things going a little differently in our minds.  Maybe a little less chaotic.  Maybe a little less work.  Maybe a little more down time. 

I packed a book.  I didn't read a page.  Like I said, I saw things going a little differently.

What I did do?  I did hold a baby the entire time because my independent, fun-loving child became possessed for three days.  He was so out of sorts that I didn't recognize him, even when we were bouncing for 45 minutes at 2:00 in the morning.  I did try to help push a suburban out of the snow.  I didn't succeed but I tried, and I did get a chest full of spun out snow/dirt/mud down my shirt.  That was awesome.  I did change a thousand kids in and out of snowsuits, coats, gloves, and boots at least a million times.  And then I spent countless hours looking for said snow equipment.  16 sets of gloves is a lot to keep track of.  I did carry a baby a half mile through slush and snow to go sledding.  (I'm actually not sure you can call the last 200 yards carrying, though, as I just wrapped my arms under his and let him dangle.)  After that I did lie in the snow and consider the possibility of dying from a heart attack at the age of 39.

But it is the trip home--oh, the trip home!--that really tells the tale.

(to be continued...)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Joining the Club

This is an idea I can get behind:  The Happy Wives Club.  I noticed it on a friend's blog and was so intrigued by the name I had to check it out.  I like this woman's thinking, so much so that I wish I would have thought of it myself.

In a press release from the site, it says:  " was founded on February 4, 2010 for the sole purpose of showing the "other" side of marriage. The viewpoint conveniently missing from nearly all forms of media -- that of a woman in love with her husband and in a healthy and fun marriage."

I wish I had thought of that, but since I didn't, I'm joining the club.  She's looking to find one million--that's right, I said one million--happy wives in six months.  Can she do it?  I sure hope so.

If you're a happy wife, consider adding your name to the list, and saying loud and clear that marriage can work.  It really can.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Ugh...and a Little Fear

This morning:

Logan:  Oh, no.  Not a bow!  Mom!  Why do you have to put a bow in my hair?

Me:  What?  It's cute.  You don't have to wear it if you don't want to.

Logan:  Well, I'm doing my best to look like a 10 year old, and the bow isn't helpin'.

Me:  (gulp...She's making me do that a lot lately.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ugh for Two Different Reasons

Monday Morning:

Me:  Griffin!  Go get dressed.  You are going to be late.

Griffin:  (dawdling)

Me:  Griffin.  Go get dressed!

Griffin:  (distracted by something shiny)

Me:  Griffin!  I swear, if I have to tell you one more time!  Go--get--dressed!

Griffin:  (disappears into his room)

(Much time passes.)

Me:  Griffin?


Me:  Griffin!


Me:  (yelling downstairs)  Is Griffin down there?

Griffin:  (Walks out of his bedroom--completely naked.)  Sorry I didn't answer you.

Me:  Griffin!  What have you been doing?

Griffin:  Getting dressed.

Me:  (Walking him back into his bedroom.)  No, you haven't.  I've told you a million times to get dressed and you're still naked.  What is taking so long?!

Griffin:  (pointing with wide eyes.)  This book.

Monday Night:

Logan:  Mom?  Did you ever have a crush on someone when you were my age?

Me:  Oh, sure.

Logan:  Who?

Me:  Rod Winland.

Logan:  Was he a nice boy?

Me:  Of course.  He was my very good friend.  We even shared the same birthday.

Logan:  Why didn't you marry him?

Me:  Well, he moved away and went to a different school, and things were different when we got older, you know.

Logan:  Oh...well, if I had a crush on a boy would you help me know how to get him to like me?

Me:  (gulp)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekend Highlights

On Friday Mr. Wicke surprised me with tickets to "The Light in the Piazza" at the Phoenix theater, a musical I've been wanting to see for five years. We are lucky enough to have 4 of Mr. Wicke's brothers living near us, and luckier even still that one of them and his cute wife agreed to spend their Friday night watching our kiddos. I did warn my kiddos that if they ever wanted cousins by said aunt and uncle they should be on their best behavior. By all reports they were angels.

Mr. Wicke and I headed into downtown Phoenix where we dined on delicious Thai food, one of our favorite cuisines, at The Wild Thaiger. Mr. Wicke ordered the Tamarind Shrimp and I munched on the Pad Thai. Predictable I know, but the waitress suggested it, and I always believe the wait staff. Always. She was right. It was the best Pad Thai I have had in recent years. And speaking of the wait staff, the service was super prompt and friendly. Having only about 30 minutes to make it to the theater in time, they assured us that they could make it happen. They did, splendidly. When we go back, and we will go back, I plan to dine on the outdoor patio, ordering the Dragon Eggz and the Holy Basil Chicken, and, if I have room, dessert. It will be an event!

Then it was off to The Phoenix Theater, which, amazingly, has been in existence for 89 years! Arizona had only been a state for 7 or so years when they first opened, and they have been running ever since, a wondrous feat to anyone familiar with the theater business. It is a small equity theater, so there isn't a bad seat in the house, and the production quality was absolutely excellent. If you live in the area, I would highly suggest taking in one of their shows.

On Saturday, we spent the day visiting with an old college friend and his two children.  This friend and I have known each other long enough to speak a sort of short hand language, and we did a lot of that as our children climbed, chased, dug, and tagged.  So much fun!

Later that night, after the children were in bed, Mr. Wicke and I curled up on the couch and watched Rain Man, a classic in our book, and despite Charlie Babbit being an undisputed ass throughout the first half of the movie, I have to admit that when he pulls the car to a screaching halt and throws a roadside tantrum full of kicking, screaming, and cursing out of frustration, I understood him a little bit.  "What difference--what, what what difference does it make where you buy underwear?  What difference does it make?! Underwear is underwear no matter where you buy it!  Cincinnati or wherever!"  I've felt like that.

But not this weekend, because this weekend was good.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Art of the Well Written Note

The tooth fairy is my least favorite of the magical characters.  She's a bit forgetful, and not very prompt.  Sometimes she shows up a couple of days late, at least around here.  And her demanding those teeth?  C'mon.  Doesn't she know that six, seven, and eight year olds lose everything?  How in the world are they supposed to keep track of those miniscule teeth?

The phrase "I lost my tooth!" is always accompanied by tears.  We should know.  I don't think Griffin has gotten any of his first four actually under the pillow.  Instead he has had to settle for a note of explanation which he hoped the tooth fairy would honor.  She did. 

Tonight, though, I really thought we had it.  He managed to get home from school with it still in his pocket.  After he dropped it on the back patio, we were able to locate it.  When he misplaced it after dinner, he was able to find it.  But then, just as he was brushing his teeth before bed, I heard the other shoe drop in the form of heartbroken sobs.

"What happened?" I asked as I hurried toward the bathroom.

He met me outside the door, tears streaming down his face.  "I lost my tooth."

Man, we were so close this time.

"It went down the drain!" he cried.

"Oh, no.  Were you trying to make it nice and shiny?"  I guessed taking in the wet toothbrush, puddles of water, and copious amount of toothpaste covering the vanity.

"Yes.  And then I dropped it, and it went down the drain."

"Don't cry, honey.  We'll see if Daddy can get it," I said.

"Yeah," Logan comforted.  "And if he can't we can just write a note."

We're good at notes around here.

Mr. Wicke did find it, but if somehow Griffin loses it between the bathroom and his bed, we've got it covered.  Take that, Tooth Fairy!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

These Things me

My grandmother lived to be 102.  And she lived well.  Sharp as a tack right up until the end.  It wasn't until the last couple of years that her care required a nursing facility, where Mom would visit every day.  On vacations home, I would accompany her, spending hours in my grandmother's room, visiting, playing cards, and one particular summer, knitting.

That summer I also met one of my grandmother's friends whom she had come to know at her new residence.  Dorothy was a ray of sunshine, and I was immediately taken with her.  She would scoot along on her wheelchair as regal as a queen, topped off with jewelry and hair done immaculately, "Hello, Duchess," she would say to my grandmother as she wheeled close enough to kiss Grandma's cheeck.  I loved that greeting.  I took a mental note to add that to my personal salutations after age 70.  I think it's that neat.  In fact, as I got to know Dorothy, there were many of her attributes I found worth adopting.  She was delightful, ebullient, and quick-witted.  I always looked forward to chatting with her.

One day, as I sat with my bare feet propped against grandma's footstool, one leg crossed over the other, my knitting resting on my knees as they jutted upward, Dorothy made her appearance at the door.  "Hello, Duchess," she smiled.

As she scooted toward Grandma, I noticed my shoes lying directly in her path.  Not wanting to impede her, I moved quickly to retrieve them.  She, too, bent forward to move them, and somewhere between her movement and my unwinding limbs, the unthinkable happened:  I kicked poor Dorothy right in the face.  I did.  In slow motion I saw my foot connect, her head rear backward, her hand moving to cup her nose.  I can only imagine my eyes--big as saucers, I bet.  A nightmare, I tell you! 

"Oh, my gosh!  I am so sorry!!" I erupted.

And to her credit, Dorothy was as graceful in this moment as she was in any other.  "Oh, that's alright, dear," she said.  "You just got me across the bridge of the nose."

How was I to recover from such an incident?  There is no etiquette rule written in regards to kicking an old woman in the face.  I've checked.  And so I was left to my own devices, which is never good. 

I was so horrified I started to giggle.  I could not stop, try as I might and despite my mother's glares.  As Dorothy and Grandmother visited, I giggled, chortled, and snickered as silently as I could manage bent over my knitting.  The entire event was beyond reason.  I was so far off-script that there were no words to convey my humiliation.  Just fits of uncontrollable laughter, also to my horror.

I don't know exactly what happened after that.  Dorothy left as some point.  I'm sure I apologized at least 100 times.  Then I asked Grandma and Mom, "Can you believe that happened?" another 100 times more.  I hoped and prayed Dorothy wouldn't awaken with two black eyes.  And then, that night, when I spoke to Mr. Wicke by phone, he asked, "How was your day?"

" won't believe it," I started.  But he did.  He believed the whole thing.

And sadly, it didn't take much convincing, because these things me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Roll Call: Most Embarrassing Moment

We all have them.  I've shared some of mine here.  Like this one, or this one, or this one...the list is lengthy.  I still have one (or a few) that I haven't let out of the bag, but before I do, I was just wondering...

What's your most embarrassing moment?

C'mon.  Cough it up.  Make me laugh.  Brighten my day.  Let me know I'm not alone out here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Warning: Good Read Ahead

Really.  Do yourselves a favor, and do not read this book if you:

1.  want to get enough sleep.

2.  or do anything else.

Because you won't be able to put it down.  You just won't.  I couldn't.  And I have the dark circles under my eyes to prove it. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Male Pattern Bonding

These guys have a real love affair going on.  So deep that it may have made me exclaim, "This breastfeeding thing is a load of crap!"  Maybe, I said that.  But the irony is not lost on me that this child, the only one born of my womb and fed mother's milk, is the only child in this family that wants nothing to do with me.  As it turns out, breasts have nothing to do with bonding.

All of my children have been crazy about Mr. Wicke, and rightly so.  I think, even a little proudly, that I have had something to do with that.  I make Dada a very big deal around these parts.  It's the first word I try to teach them, and it's always a celebration when he walks through the door.  "Dada's home!!!  Yay!!!  We love our Dada!"  Some of the best advice I got as a new mom was to help create a relationship between your children and their father.  Very wise, I believe.  But secretly?  In my heart of hearts?  I was very content knowing I was "The Mama."

I was the one that they wanted when they were scared or hurt.  I was the one to snuggle them, to kiss their boo-boos, to give them comfort.  Me.  The mom. 

Not with this one.  Nope.  Baby Lincoln is most content in Daddy's arms, and he spends a lot of time there.  A lot.  Mr. Wicke is capable of holding him even while mowing the lawn.  He carries him as comfortably as a football.  But there is something magical going on here, as well.  Something I can not explain nor comprehend. 

Like last night when the baby awoke unusually at 3:00 AM.  After only having fallen asleep an hour and a half before due to a little thing called insomnia, I begged Mr. Wicke to get up with him, to which he kindly obliged; but in the time it took for him to get the bottle and warm it up, the strenuous crying drew me to the baby's room.  Arriving only seconds after Mr. Wicke, we soon discovered the source of the trouble:  The fire alarm in the room beeped rudely signaling a need for a battery change.  (Why do they only do that at night?)  Now, because in our marriage fire alarms fall under the realm of all things Mr. Wicke, I took the baby from his arms freeing him to deal with the grating noise.  Unfortunately, the minute he left his daddy, the baby's screams only added to the cacophony.

"Baby.  You're okay.  You're just fine," I soothed in his ear, bouncing gently and kissing his cheek.

"Dada!  Dada!" he wailed.

"Dada's right there.  He's not going anywhere."

"Dada!"  He was somewhere nearing hysteria.

I've never had a child I can not soothe, but this one would not have any of it.  It wasn't until he was back in his father's arms, belly against his chest with his face snuggled into Mr. Wicke's neck that his sobbing turned to ragged breathing and finally the sniffles subsided altogether.  I, feeling quite useless, trodded back to bed. 

There, alone under the warmth of my down comforter, I had to admit, I didn't like that feeling.  Maybe I liked being numero uno more than I thought?  But isn't the job of the mother to mother?  That's my job title!  Doesn't this little one know that?  Stupid breastfeeding!  These  thoughts kept me awake until I heard the baby's door close, and I again began to hear him wail, "Dada!"

I pushed back the comforter and padded through the dark to find Mr. Wicke standing outside the baby's door, waiting to see if he would settle down.  "Go back to bed," I nudged him.  "He just wants to play with you."  I opened the door and moved to him quietly.  He continued to cry as I lifted him from his crib, his face still looking hopefully toward the door.  I pulled him close to me, and as we found our bouncing rhythm, he leaned back into my arms.  I snuggled his cheeck and his neck, whispering in his ear.  "It's okay.  Shhhh, baby.  Mama's here."  And soon he quieted.  I laid him in his crib, smoothed the blankets around him, making sure the fringe he likes to toy with until he sleeps was available, passed my palm across his brow twice and then walked out of the room, closing the door behind me.


As I climbed back into bed, Mr. Wicke said, "You're good at that."

An attempt to soothe my bruised mommy ego?  Perhaps, but I appreciated it enough to say, "Yeah, well, he doesn't care if I leave the room."

Mr. Wicke chortled as he laid his hand on my thigh.  As his breathing turned to soft snores, I embraced the truth.  My baby prefers him.  At least right now.  But the real truth is that I chose this man because he would be a fantastic father to my children, and I am so glad he is.  So very, very glad.

And this mama can settle for number two behind that.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sad Songs Say So Much (ooh, la-la-la-la, ooh, la-la-la-la)

Baby Lincoln turned one yesterday, and although he has since grown out of the "harmonica phase" as it will be forever known in our house, we enjoyed it while it lasted, which undoubtedly proves the twisted sense of humor we share.

Happy birthday, Baby Boy, and may music always touch you deeply--but perhaps not so painfully.

p.s.  yes, that is the paint I'm talking about.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

PMS and Scheduling Conflicts

I'm a little blue, and when I get a little blue I question things.  Poor Mr. Wicke may feel like he's taking part in the Spanish Inquisition at moments like this.  But it doesn't matter.  Not to someone who is a little blue.  So last night, while I reclined on the sofa in front of the TV and he was in the kitchen making hot fudge sundaes for both of us (because the only answer to PMS is chocolate) I say:  We don't seem to be really connected right now.

Mr. Wicke says:  Well, he doesn't say anything really.  (When my non-hormonal, non-PMS-ing brain is in charge, I am fully aware that men don't really know what to make of words like "connection."  Did I mention I'm a little blue?)

Mr. Wicke tries to respond:  Hmmm...

So I say:  Are you having an affair?

To which Mr. Wicke:  laughs.  Uproariously.

To which I say:  What?  What's so funny about that?  You could, you know.  And then I'd be one of those women whose husband's sneeking around and I wouldn't even know.  (Except that he works from home and I see him, like, 20 hours a day.  But STILL!)

Mr Wicke responds with:  I can't even imagine the time it would take to organize the details of such a--

Me:  So!  ('Cause now I'm really on a roll.)  You're saying that your faithfulness to me has nothing to do with love but is more of a scheduling problem?

Mr. Wicke:  laughs again.

Me:  Like...if you had more time you would be all over that?

Mr. Wicke:  (handing me a bowl full of ice cream heaven) You are ridiculous.

Me:  So, if the day ever comes when you actually have a hobby, that's when I should worry?

We laughed a little bit more and then turned on 24 because every happily married couple knows the real secret to staying connected is watching Jack Bauer save the world.  The hot fudge and couch snuggling did the trick, and I went to bed a happily connected wife. 

Then, this morning I say, as per our usual discussion once the kids are out the door:  What's on your agenda today?

Mr. Wicke responds:  Well, surprisingly, it looks like the afternoon's kinda' freeing up.

Nobody knows how to cheer me up like he does.  Chocolate and humor are cures to all that ails me.

Color Me Blue

So here's the delio:  I'm in a funk.  I'm a little blue.  A little bummed.  A little down.  I'm hating things.  Lots of things.  Like my hair, my clothes, the paint on my walls.  But, oh, the paint.  The paint on my walls is really, really bugging me.  I've become a little obsessive.  I can't quit looking at it and hating it.  I'm feeling suffocated by the paint.  I've been waiting to see if that would change along with my funk because I know the funk will not last.  But so far, I'm still hating the paint. 

I don't want to hate the paint because that will mean me painting.  And I really don't want to do that.  Again.  And so I was waiting, for a sign, maybe.

It came yesterday at the dentist's office.  First of all, both my kiddos have no cavitities.  But that wasn't the sign.  No, that was just really good news.  The sign was the color of the walls.  I think they spoke to me.  And so I spoke to the dentist and asked him what color they were.  Luckily, he is a friend.  Well, the husband of a friend.  But he still looked at me a little weirdly.  But I wasn't kidding--to the extent that he had to go in the back and check out the cans of leftover paint.  He wrote it down, and that little piece of paper is tucked tightly inside my purse...

...waiting, along with me, to see if it this too shall pass.

Monday, March 1, 2010