Friday, December 30, 2011

Challenge Accepted

Wednesday night I tried an exercise class as a method of cross-training for my second half marathon coming up in February. I'm sure many of you are familiar with Spin classes. Some of you shudder at the very mention of the name as you see a brief flash of yourself sweating, gasping for breath, and fighting the urge to throw up---much like the image I see in my own head of myself as I attempted to make it through an hour of pedaling against burning muscles.

If I didn't know the instructor is such a godly woman, I'd swear she was a devil on a Spin bike pedaling furiously to the backdrop of heavy metal debauchery. And yes, I do believe that was a wicked smile on her lips as she bellowed at all of her sweaty subjects to turn it to a 7. What?! Seven?! I'm dying here on a 5, woman! At first I at least went through the motions of pretending to turn the evil little tension knob, but as the class progressed, I shamelessly abandoned my quest of maintaining appearances.

Instead, I concentrated on the sweat that plastered my hair to my face and ran down the length of my back and wondered why there was no trash can in the room in case I lost my battle with cycling-induced nausea.

See, here's the deal. I'll be back at that class every week until I can make it a minute and fifty-eight seconds while pedaling at 100% capacity on a 10. As Barney Stinson would say, "challenge accepted." (How I Met Your Mother fans, I salute you.) That Spin bike will not get the best of me. I will not go down without a fight. I'll be there sweating and hyperventilating each week because that sweat reminds me that I'm strong. It reminds me that my body was made to accomplish things other than having four kids. It reminds me that God put a fire in all of us that is meant to burn bright in many different areas of life once it's lit.

So, I'll be back. I just may bring a trash can with me next time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Doody! Doody!

Okay, I could spend my energy writing about our holiday trip to Carrollton, which was simultaneously a huge blessing and a huge source of stress, but instead I'm opting to start the post Christmas blogging season with a funny little glimpse into the mind of a 22-month-old kid just trying to figure things out.

Before you read on, here is my disclaimer. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN OR ARE EASILY GROSSED OUT BY DISCUSSIONS OF BODILY FUNCTIONS (I'm talking to you, Meghan), STOP READING NOW. If you like a good laugh or a frank discussion on the challenges of potty training, read on. Please forgive my Caddyshack reference in the title, too. I couldn't resist.

A few weeks ago, our daughter pooped on her little tiny toilet thanks to the bribe  promise of chocolate. What Jason and I were unprepared for was her reaction--sheer terror and horror when she saw her deposit (see, I can discuss this without being terribly crass). We've been trying to figure out the problem since and have tossed around numerous theories that include everything from her being afraid of a frog shaped tiny toilet to deeper Freudian musings on the anal stage of development.

We see that she's getting ready to potty train. She loathes being wet and as a result is constantly taking off her Pull Up and leaving it in random places. Who doesn't like a good scavenger hunt for a Pull Up with an occasional bonus of stepping in a puddle of pee? She also informs us when a number two is brewing and frets about it until she completes the job. (Who does number two work for?) What puzzles us is her absolute refusal to set foot near her potty to do any business other than reading a good book or taking a load off after playing.

This morning I think I found my answer. My daughter is scared of turds. I don't know how else to say it. She told me it was coming, so I hurried to bathe her. I left the room to go grab her potty, and I heard a whine that led to a shriek of terror. I dashed back into the room to see her scrambling from one end of the tub to the next trying to escape the floater that was chasing her. I pulled the drain and snatched a towel from under the sink while trying to reassure her that all was well.

"It's just poopy, sweetheart. Everyone poops--it's okay."

She was not buying it. As I reached to scoop her up, she backed away one more time with wide-eyed worry as the object of her anxiety inched its way near her. When she was safely nestled in my arms, she looked down at the tub and said "Bye, poopy." I guess every bathtub turd is less frightening when the two of you are not occupying the same space.

So there you have it. My daughter is scared of turds, and I'm at a loss as to how to handle this problem as we get ready to move on to the next stage of her development. Do we personify the little guys and try to make them seem more friendly to her? This method might get confusing once we tell her to wash the poop germs off her hands when she's done. Do we come up with a little story about how all turds are just looking for a drain to make it back to the ocean/sewer? She is a big fan of Finding Nemo.

We could go very technical and explain the digestive process. This route is what we took with the boys, who in turn made me read the part about how excess food turns into poopy and is pushed out through the rectum OVER and OVER and OVER. I'm sure it will come to us, and I'll be a bit saddened to put potty training behind us for the last time, hopefully without completely traumatizing our daughter. These are the days.

P.S. Honey, I swear one day I'll make a decent living at this writing gig, and all of your shame and embarrassment will be worth it. Don't stop believing, dude.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Here Ya' Go, Santa! Have My Entire Paycheck

I have sticker shock from the layaway receipt at Walmart. Rollback, my tail. Sure, clearly Walmart usually has the lowest prices, but isn't there anyone who can help a gal with four little kids who are still mastering the concept of greed versus humility? My seven-year-old is really starting to grasp the art of giving, but the other three are still little capitalists.

If we were better planners or had extra income we could tuck away each month, we wouldn't be caught looking like deer in headlights the second week of December. Huh? What? Christmas came again this year? What a surprise! I did not see that one coming. Yep, that's me. To borrow a favorite line from Elf, "That's shocking."

Jason and I are still not completely sure of the details of Santa's spread. Gone are the days when we can lay out an arsenal of inexpensive little gifts and see their eyes light up. I'm relishing this Christmas with Scout because it's only a matter of time till she puts "iPad" down on her wish list (which, by the way, I had a pre-k student do). The boys did beg me to select a child from the Angel Tree at the Y, so deep down, I know the lessons life has taught us since we moved here are not completely lost. Good luck shopping, all you fellow Christmas elves! May the force (and a good deal) be with you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Kid Can Get Your Kid to Pee on Furniture...and My Other Kid Will Tattle on Him

Last Saturday, my rockstar friend Cindy invited me and three out of my four kids to eat dinner at her house. The plan was to let the kids play and to enjoy some much needed and hard to come by time hanging out with a good girlfriend. God bless her husband, who not only cooked burgers and hotdogs, but also endured a noisy dinner that involved getting up multiple times and chewing our food to the backdrop of fart jokes and fake burps.

After dinner we migrated to the backyard, where a fire pit sat popping and waiting for eager little ones to roast marshmallows. When the kids emptied the first bag and retreated inside to play, the grown ups broke out a second bag along with a pack of graham crackers and the largest chocolate bar I've ever laid eyes upon. I was bulldozing my way through my third s'more when Lawson burst through the screen door and declared his friend had peed on the couch.

What?! As the Pre-K teacher of Cindy's son, this little story seemed highly unlikely. Cindy's husband went upstairs to investigate, and I warily did a mental checklist of which Jones boy might have inspired this new development. When her husband returned, he detailed pee puddles on their couch and chair upstairs. When we asked in shocked voices (well, mine was really mock shock because I had already braced myself for what was coming) why he did it, the explanation was simple: Hudson and Lawson told me to do it.

I took the march of shame into the house to call down my little instigators. When I posed the question, "did you tell you friend to pee on the couch?" Lawson looked me squarely in the eyes and said no. Hudson, on the other hand, looked squarely at the spot on the wall above my right shoulder and answered the same way as his brother. Seeing an opening, I admonished Lawson for telling his friend to do such a thing, to which Hudson adamantly responded, "Lawson didn't say anything!"

Lawson was off the hook, so I posed the same question to Hudson. With wide-eyed indignation and a firm hold on his innocence, he declared, "I didn't tell him to pee on the couch! I told him to pee on the stairs!"

Sigh. Not only did my second born child inspire his buddy to do something totally out of character (which by the way is also totally out of character for Hudson), my third son felt it was his civic duty to march downstairs and totally rat him out. Their buddy got a time-out, and my little man will be working on an apology note to his friend this week. I can't help but find humor in the situation, but I know I do so at the risk of undermining the hilarious inappropriate nature of the offense. Needless to say, I will host the next gathering so that any errant urination is at my expense. It's the least I can do.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Just Life, and It's a Good One

The holidays so far have been a hodge podge of meaningful moments, stressful disagreements, and sometimes hilarious plans gone awry. We decided to decorate our Christmas tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but a delay meant that my blaring of holiday music and menagerie of Christmas ornaments directly conflicted with the Georgia game. The perfect, poignant family afternoon I envisioned in my mind was tarnished by my husband's diverted attention, and after my complaints started escalating toward an argument, our decorating was delayed half an hour as a compromise. He finished the game, I turned the cheesy Christmas music back on, and decorating (translation: my favorite annual walk down Memory Lane) resumed.

I'd like to say from the outside looking in that it was a Norman Rockwell painting waiting to happen, but in all actuality, ornaments were broken, Scout wandered off to roll her baby stroller through the house instead of admiring the tree, and I glued two of my fingers to Camden's favorite homemade ornament in an attempt to salvage it after I dropped and broke it. The chaos was ultimately what gave the day its poignancy, and for a moment, I tried to memorize every detail of the excitement on the boys' faces, the concentration in my husband's eyes as he worked to repair his Lincoln Memorial ornament, and the swelling love I felt in my heart for my little zoo crew.

Yesterday we set out to see Santa at Bass Pro Shop, but we were once again delayed by a football game (in his defense, he missed the game the weekend before to watch the parade of boats down River Street). We rolled out of the driveway at 4:20 in an attempt to make it to the south side by 5:00. Seriously, we never stood a chance, but we had to show the kids we tried. My gas light came on before we even made it off the island, but I was determined not to stop. At 5:03, we rolled into the parking lot at Bass Pro Shop with only one, very unhappy kid awake.

We formed a plan to see Santa next weekend and compromised by agreeing to take them to Toys R Us. At that point, gas was a critical factor in the equation, so I found the nearest Parker's. Tension was running high, and as the hubs stood waiting at the pump, I frantically dug for my wallet--which of course was sitting on the kitchen counter back on Wilmington Island. Jason, who almost never leaves home without his wallet and his keys, managed to pull out pocket lint when he reached for his.

So, we sat at the gas station coming up with a third plan with our new goal being simply to find a way out of the south side (no offense, Georgetown friends) and back onto the comforts of our island. Publix! I had a checkbook! As I got out of the car in the Publix parking lot with my checkbook in hand, it suddenly dawned on my I had no I.D. After digging through the car hoping ten bucks would magically materialize from under the seats, I marched determinedly into the store and told a haphazard, funny tale to the kind gentleman behind the counter, who promptly laughed, took pity on me, and let me cash a check for twenty bucks.

As I pulled out of the parking lot in triumph and prepared to head back to the gas station, I hit the cart return with my van. I could only dissolve into giggles at that point, though Jason found it far less entertaining. The one thing I've learned in five years of driving a mama mobile is to let the vanity fly out the window. It's a kid carting machine, and it serves its purpose well. That cart return never stood a chance against my old girl, and she emerged with nary a scratch.

Our life is a series of perfect mishaps and unexpectedly touching moments of chaos. I often wonder if Jason and I will be bored when our tenure bringing up such extraordinary little creatures is complete and our house is quiet. This blog has given me an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a family and realize that when you're in it for the long haul, there is no such thing as a wrong turn--just opportunities to learn and grow and laugh at yourselves. This Christmas, the imperfection of my life is what makes it the best kind of life to have.