Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Huh. So That's What That Looks Like.

Today I saw what every mom dreads. My kid was standing on the back patio scratching his head like crazy. I've been waiting for my turn to roll around since Wilmington Island seems to be experiencing a lice epidemic. I'm so thankful the moms who have been through it before me have been willing to share tips on what to look for and how to treat it; otherwise I may have assumed my little Pigpen just needed a bath.

I thought I would probably wretch or at least get a massive case of the heebies jeebies if it happened to us, but the first thing I thought when I saw the dreaded nits was, "Sh*@. There goes my run at the Y today." This thought was immediately followed by dollar signs flipping around in my brain as I tried to wrap my head around the cost of treatment, detergent, and new hairbrushes for all. I very nearly short-circuited once I imagined the energy required to physically hold down four children and treat them with foul smelling chemicals and then envisioned the endless piles of laundry.

My afternoon sucked a big fat one. There was one highlight where an angel in blue scrubs at the Walgreen's drive through pharmacy went and got lice spray for me to purchase through the window, which meant I didn't have to wake Scout up and haul her inside with her three extremely cranky brothers. All three boys have been given crew cuts at Mom's Salon. I am now well versed on what a lice bug looks like (something I have always wondered). I can't open the door to the laundry room because I am in the process of washing everything my kids' heads have ever touched (and basically everything else I own). 

I'm sure during the course of reading this you've wondered why the hell I would blog about my kids having lice. Believe me, my husband already walked into the office and said, "Please tell me you're not blogging about this." But the fact of the matter is every other mom I know who has dealt with it in the past few months is a clean, normal mom just like me (yeah, I consider myself clean but the normal part may be stretching it), and I'm hoping the stigma of lice equalling dirty kids is lifting. Do I really need to worry you guys might think we're nasty because my kid had head lice? I certainly hope not because if I've learned anything from today, it's that no one is immune to the pesky little critters. Well, and that my son was WAY too attached to his hair.

My oldest has been growing his hair out for a year in order to have "surfer hair," and he was way more devastated by the haircut than he was by the fact he had freaking LICE. He cried hysterically for over an hour, gave himself a migraine, and puked all over my kitchen floor. This, my friends, was the icing on today's cake.

I hope my Savannah friends won't start avoiding my calls or act like they don't see me when we happen to be at the Whitemarsh Island Wal Mart at the same time. I plan to carry around my lice spray for the next two weeks in order to calm my frazzled nerves and ward off any lice bug that dares to cross my very pissed off path. Be sure not to sneak up behind me because I'm so jumpy I just might spray you by accident.   

Monday, June 27, 2011

Media Relations

One of the biggest conflicts plaguing me as a mom today revolves around the media available to my kids. We have a DVD player in the car, three computers in the house, and a Wii. Experts will tell you these "luxuries" can eat away at the family dynamic and lead to attention problems in children. I say the lack of these items can eat away at my sanity and lead to a rather lethal form of PMS called Pissy Mom Syndrome.

The truth is I don't often abuse the engaging lure of or I try to limit each child to half hour morning and afternoon sessions of computer time because some of the games they play are actually educational. The DVD player in the car is normally reserved for car trips above and beyond 30 minutes. The television is turned on for downtime or as a special treat before bed. There are certain circumstances, however, that warrant exception. These are including but not limited to:

1.) I waited till the last minute to clean the house for a play date and now need to frantically vacuum and hide the unfolded laundry to preserve at least a shred of dignity that will later be ripped from me when one of my kids screams at their friends or throws a punch over a toy disagreement.

2.) Hudson is so irritated with the world that he's declared he hates the planet and hisses like a cat at anyone who comes close. (This may also be an indication of hunger induced devil possession.)

3.) Hudson and Lawson are kicking and punching each other across the space between their car seats and no amount of my threatening their lives from the driver's seat reduces their animosity. 

4.) Camden has torn through the house clapping his hands like a circus monkey screaming "Politoed" for the hundredth time and looked at me with a challenging gleam in his eye and whispered "Pikachu!" when I reprimanded him. (All of you Pokemon virgins who don't know what the heck I'm talking about may breathe a sigh of relief and count yourselves blessed.) 

5.) Scout has climbed on top of the table and spilled whatever liquid she finds up there. Again.

6.) Daddy has been left in charge. 

I completely agree there are times when I should shove my kids out the door to be "real boys" (like they're  Pinocchio or something). But there are also times when it's hot as balls outside and I'm on the brink of heatstroke trying to play with them in the cul de sac in order to feel like a good mom. Yes, we all benefit from my neglecting my appearance and risking a backne breakout from sweating when I'm pitching the ball to my little sluggers. I love it, and it makes me feel happy and connected to them. They love it because Mommy is trying to hang with them on their level. But if the house is an abomination, and I've made them turn their underwear inside out in order to avoid washing their clothes, they need other outlets for entertainment while I get my act together. Legos and Trio blocks are saving graces for us, but don't think I'm afraid to mix a little Mario Cart into the repertoire.

You, my dear readers, may loathe the computer and Wii. You may be shaking your head in indignation and condemning me for using them to my advantage. These are just possibilities I'm going to have to learn to live with if I want to restore order to a crazy day or to give myself a break from all of the noise (and wrestling) in my life. Don't worry--the mom guilt will plague me as my penance, and I'll spend some time today studying up on Pokemon abilities and moves with Camden, building marshmallow toothpick animals with Hudson, letting Lawson explain the proper rubbing tag qualities to me, and reading Dora Goes to the Beach to Scout over and over. When they lay their sleepy little heads down on their pillows, I'll remind myself it's not a bad gig.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Double Sided Tape of Genetics

Anyone who has ever wondered where I get my candor and inappropriate sense of humor should look no further than my Grandmama. She is one of the most influential people in my life. She has been the one I look to for guidance on how to most effectively embrace a zeal for life, how to better love your spouse unconditionally (sometimes by shaking your head in silent laughter at all of his little quirks), and best of all, how to turn a cartwheel, hula hoop, and burp like a trucker.

This morning I listened to a voice mail she left me wishing me Happy Anniversary. I'm always thankful to miss her call on these days because the messages she leaves are priceless and worth re-saving every sixteen days just to listen to and laugh at when I need to be reminded of home. Last year she called and sang a little ditty she made up that boasted a melody somewhere between Happy Birthday and Yankee Doodle Dandy. This year was no disappointment.

She started out innocently enough by telling me she loves me and wants to tell me Happy Anniversary. She then goes on to say how she wanted us to have a good time. The gist of the rest is an absolutely hilarious stream of consciousness that runs something along the lines of "Well, I guess you've already had a good time on other anniversaries because you have four kids, not necessarily on your anniversary but at some point in time." She not only started my day with a laugh, but she reminded me that my lack of pretense (and my slow internal filter) comes from good stock.

Grandmama is one of a kind. She has impeccable hair from weekly trips to her longtime stylist (don't ever expect to catch her at home on Thursday mornings), a fabulous suntan from working in her garden with my Grandpapa, and an enviable shoe collection. I feel more comfortable at her house and in her presence than I do most any place in the world, and Sunday lunches with my family are very near the top of the list of what I miss most about Carrollton. Lunch is never short on grousing from Grandpapa because we're five minutes late, flavorful southern cooking complete with fresh veggies from the garden, and unforgettable belly laughs. No subject is ever too taboo for discussion, and no one can ever show up to her table in a bad mood and leave it still grumpy. My friends love her as much as I do, and she rewards their love by spoiling them with dirt pie, which unfortunately is usually eaten by me before it makes it to them.

We all have positive and negative attributes we inherit from our families. My mother has the same goofy sense of humor as Grandmama and thankfully passed it on to me. My grandpapa and my mom are talented writers, and I like to think a sliver of their talent runs through my veins. My dad is very practical and level headed, and....well, clearly I wish I had inherited a little more of that. My kids have a conglomeration of chromosomes (uh huh, you like that alliteration, don't you?) that make them the intricately designed little creatures they are. I hope I can do the genes I contributed justice by teaching them to love themselves and to love where they come from. Both sides of the genetic gene pool are sticky, but they are purposeful and valuable. Thanks, Grandmama, for adding color to my day and inspiring me to laugh at myself and to try a little harder to be the best mom I can.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Eight Years and Counting

Jason and I will celebrate our eighth anniversary on Tuesday, June 21. I love thinking about our wedding because it was a GREAT day. The weather was absolutely perfect, and all the people I loved were gathered in one place to watch me marry a man who made me feel honored to be his blushing bride.

I was his pregnant bride for anniversaries one, two, and three. I had a LARGE glass of wine on anniversaries four and five to commemorate the fact that I wasn't pregnant, and I was still shaking my head in wonder over a fourth pregnancy when number six rolled around. Our seventh anniversary came on the heels of the upheaval of moving to Savannah, and we celebrated with dinner at Tubby's with all four kids. Yeah, imagine the raised eyebrows and turned heads when we inadvertently walked our kids through the bar at happy hour instead of coming through the door to the dining room. A dinner with tantrums and greasy chicken fingers wasn't exactly romantic, but it was quite fitting for the hilarious challenges we face as parents.

I attended a Bible study this past week that dealt with God choosing to lead us through the wilderness rather than illuminating the easy road as a way to reveal undiscovered potential within ourselves. When the only door that opened after Jason's firm dissolved was in Savannah (at the time a metaphorical wilderness to me), I felt angry and grateful all at the same time. But over the past year, I have discovered a strength, confidence, and sense of independence (and thankfully a better sense of direction) I've never before experienced. When my dad visited in March, he was delighted to see I now even know how to parallel park.

Through everything my husband has been the one I lean on for familiarity and stability. He is a determined, studious kind of guy who balances out my balls to the wall approach to life. He never backs away from the challenge of bringing up four kids, and he is involved with them (and the housework) in a way for which I'm extremely thankful. I know I got lucky with him.

As much as it pains me to admit, I'm not perfect. To add insult to injury, my imperfections heighten Jason's and vice versa. I like to deal with conflict right away--never backing down from the challenge of confrontation. Jason likes to have time to process his feelings and evaluate the conflict without interference from me. I tend to share way too much with people (hence the blog that continually embarrasses my man), and Jason is a very private person. Balance for us on these issues is sometimes a struggle, but we continue to talk and put in the effort to grow in our marriage. Yes, we have a plan for achieving a lifetime together--work at it and laugh at ourselves whenever possible.

Anyone who thinks marriage won't be hard is in for a bumpy road. It's work every day. Hopefully you married someone you really like and who you count as your best friend. Finding that person extraordinarily attractive doesn't hurt either, but do be prepared for the possibility of four children if this is a factor in your marriage (another statement that will embarrass the mister, but he knows I'm right). I can honestly say after eight years, I not only find Mr. Jones delicious, I also count him as my best and most loyal friend. He pisses me off faster than any other person on the planet, but even when he drives me nuts, I still look forward to the moment we apologize and move on about our business of building our beautiful life. To my husband I say a sincere thank you for the best eight years of my life and for the promise of joy and laughter to come. Even in the wilderness, I am blessed to have your hand to hold.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Boys

I wanted to do a blog to put down on paper (er, computer screen) the funny things my little dudes say. Sometimes I feel like I have so many that I can't always dedicate my blogs to them equally.

Camden is a very bright, inquisitive, articulate kid with the nice added bonus of being all boy--athletic, messy, and endlessly energetic. He's always thinking (and talking but I'm not sure where he got that from). Sometimes when he declares things, he does it so matter-of-factly that I forget he's only six. He is quite obsessive with nature and God's creatures right now. Last month he collected several "pet" ladybugs, which I ultimately convinced him would fare better outside. As we were walking back in, he looked at me and said, "You know what they say, Mom. If you love something, you set it free." Really?! Has he been watching chick flicks or reading chick lit to learn that mantra?

I also had to inform him that his elementary school principal will be moving to a new school next year. He thoughtfully replied, "Well, being a principal is like presidents. You can only serve a certain amount of years." I'm thankful he made this connection and took the transition so well.

He does, however, remain very distressed that I don't know more about Pokemon. Pokemon is his new obsession, and I'm completely lost when he says things about Ash and Water Type Pokemon (what?). Lately he has been frustrated with my ignorance, so he keeps telling me, "You really need to brush up on your Pokemon skills, Mom." Touche.

Hudson is quiet, sweet, thoughtful, intelligent, studious, and socially reclusive at times. He also has a nice little silly streak and is a master at putting puzzles and Kung Zhu fighting rings together. I imagine his being the middle child is more difficult than he is able to express as he is constantly trying to assert his place among his siblings. (I never get to be first! Lawson got out before me! Camden has toys and I don't!)

As of yet he hasn't caught on to the fact that we find every opportunity we can to get him to say the word "caterpillar." He reverses the sounds so that it comes out like "cal-uh-pitter," which is one of my favorite funny words right now. He understands the life cycle of the "calepittar" very well, so he never minds explaining it to me. Eventually he'll realize what I'm doing and self-correct (like he did when I made him say "thirty" over and over because he used a Boston accent). What a sad day that will be.

Yesterday he scared the life out of me by jumping off the side of the Y pool while I had my back turned putting Lawson's life jacket on (Hudson was next in line). The lifeguard was quick and pulled him out, and when his shaken up mommy asked him why he did it, he simply replied, "Dodge said he could do it, and I just wanted to be brave like him." Sweet boy. He perked up two seconds later and said, "Mom! I've never been saved by a lifeguard before!" At least he had an easier time seeing the positive in the situation than I did.

Oh, there are so many things I can say about our youngest boy. He's devilishly, mischievously handsome. He has the absolute cutest little speech patterns EVER (chair is "shair" and "thirsty" sounds something like "stirsty". Oh, and "I think" is "I stink"). Overall he's just an easygoing little dude. He's quiet until he can assess a situation, so you may seem him sucking his thumb and rubbing his "wubbing tag" while he draws his conclusions. He's also very funny without really trying to be. His constant attempts to aggravate his brothers drive me absolutely insane, but he always says something hilarious or flashes his toothy grin to get out of trouble.

I did manage to document one particularly indignant exchange he had with Hudson last month. While climbing up on his stool to brush his teeth, he slipped and borrowed a line from Tangled. "Mommy, my smolder's broken!" Hearing him, Hudson said out of the blue, "You're never going to fall in love with anyone!" Lawson didn't miss a beat in stomping his foot and saying, "Yeah-huh! With Mommy!" How could I not smile about that?

Last week he asked me where God lived. When I pointed up to the sky, he scrunched his face up and asked, "In the clouds?" "Sort of," I replied. He thought for a few seconds and then inquired very directly, "Which cloud is it?" It appears I'm going to have to expand my explanation a bit.

I promise to detail Scout's vocabulary at a later time. This blog is already so long that you guys will take one look at it and decide you don't have time to read it right now. Plus she's not really saying much other than Mom, uh-oh, and Dora, Dora. Wait, I take that back. She does converse fluently in her own little Scout language. I'll try and capture it on video for you.


Monday, June 6, 2011

School Daze

This morning I attended the second graduation ceremony of the season for my little dudes. Two weeks ago Hudson and his pre-k class matriculated in high style for five-year-olds, and this morning I watched Camden trot proudly across the stage to receive his kindergarten diploma. Every ounce of frustration I've felt with my kids the past few days disappeared in those minutes, and I found myself teary-eyed at the warp speed time travels. The past six and a half years have gone by in a blink, and the times I feel flustered, I try to remind myself they're only mine to nurture and love within my own home for a short time.

At both ceremonies all the children sang songs and posed for pictures with proud smiles on their faces. I sat wondering how each little spirit would grow and speculating on what marks they'll make on this world as they navigate life's challenges. Their innocence is amazing to me, but even more amazing to me is the individuality God grants each of us even from such a young age. My boys' classmates and friends have endearing, quirky qualities that are each their own, and learning their personalities and appreciating them the way I try to in my own kids has been a fun challenge for me as a mom to school-aged kids. I've found myself praying lately that each of my four kids learns to love and accept others no matter what challenges or personalities their peers may have and hoping God gives me the strength and wisdom to instill this quality.

I am a proud mommy who will hopefully draw calming patience from the reserve of deep emotions I experienced watching my babies go through one of life's rites of passage. In reality I know it will only be a matter of time before I'm fighting the urge to put my head in my hands because Camden is telling me the same story for the fifth time in a forty-five second time period. Hudson will inevitably push me to the brink of tolerance with his emotional outbursts. Lawson will start a fight by elbowing his brother on the fly and playing the victim when his brother ultimately retaliates. And my sweet Scout will crawl out of her new big girl bed and into the kitchen five times before finally giving in to exhaustion.

All of these stresses are part of my daily routine, but there is also great joy in knowing I'm privileged to watch them grow, to appreciate their individuality, to hold them in my arms when they slow down enough to let me, and to cheer loudly and embarrassingly when they graduate from any grade. I hope I remember every day that their "school days" go by in a "school daze" and take a moment to regroup enough to soak up as much time as I can.