The Mad Mama Horror Show

August 15th, 2008

I do not sleep well. I blame this partially on my propensity toward insomnia, but I think the real problem is that there are things that go on in my house at night. Disturbing things. No, the walls don’t bleed Amityville Horror-style or anything like that. It’s much worse: Hubby snores like a damn chainsaw in a slasher flick. And the dog barks in his sleep like his life depended on it. He’s probably hearing hubby and dreaming that Leatherface is after him. (RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!) Additionally, Babyzilla has a tendency to wake in the middle of night and start chatting to himself loudly, occasionally even bursting into song. Once it was ‘Happy Birthday’. Another time it was Journey’s ‘Any Way You Want It’. This kid is going to be the life of the party in college.

The Olympics aren’t helping either. The other evening I stayed up well past midnight to watch the U.S. women’s gymnastics team have their perky little asses handed to them on a Chinese platter. My heart went out to the girl who fell during her balance beam and floor routines. How devastating for a 16-year-old, or anyone at any age for that matter. Whether it’s true or not, I’m sure she feels like she single-handedly lost the gold for the entire team. She certainly helped drive the final nail into the coffin and will probably be losing sleep over that for some time to come.

My own sleep problems have also been exacerbated by TMTD (Too Much To Do) Syndrome. My newly frugal self decided to join in on a neighborhood-wide garage sale planned for this Saturday, so pulling out all my old crap and trying to make it look like something someone else simply CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT is keeping me up late as well, crashing gymnasts aside. We’re also taking a trip out of town next week, and, as anyone with children knows, the preparation for going on a vacation with a young’un takes five times as much effort as it would with another adult. I’m looking forward to the airplane ride with as much enthusiasm as a Death Row inmate looks forward to the electric chair. Since Babyzilla completely lacks the ability to sit and color quietly like apparently EVERY OTHER THREE-YEAR-OLD IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, this will be our own horror movie in the making. I can hear the blood-curdling screams already. Babyzilla will probably get upset too.

So, my weary and macabre (‘cause lack of sleep makes my brain do weird things) apologies to anyone who might be checking in here on a regular basis, hoping for a fresh shot of Mama Madness and not getting your fix. I can’t guarantee a daily post right now, but I’m trying to keep up, much like an ax-wielding psychopath with a buxom teenager. That is, an ax-wielding psychopath who could really use a nap.

Recessive Jeans

August 5th, 2008

Oh, what a difference a year makes.

Last year at this time I was on a self-improvement mission. No, nothing as noble as spiritual or intellectual self-improvement. I’ve learned not to try for the impossible, Tony Robbins be damned.

I mean I was attempting to make myself look better. Not an easy feat when you don’t have a lot to work with, but I wanted to break away from being Dumpy, Schleppy Mommy and be Hot, Hip Mommy instead. Yeah, laugh all you want, but there are plenty of moms who pull it off around here. That’s the problem with Around Here: Too many Beautiful People. Too many rail-thin mommies who’ve popped out three or four chitlins and still look bootylicious in their hipster jeans, not to mention their flawless makeup and perfect hair. Or even worse: The ones that look spanktastic without flawless makeup and perfect hair.

Then there’s me. Everything about my face is BIG. Everything about my hips and thighs is BIG. Hot, Hip Mommy does not come naturally. But I guess there was something about seeing the light after those first really difficult years with my son, about wanting to feel a little more attractive after living in sweats and old t-shirts for so long, about needing to reclaim my life a bit… I knew I wasn’t going to magically transform myself into a supermodel, but at least I could avoid getting jumped at the mall by the producers of ‘What Not To Wear’.

So I was doing it all: Regular workouts, pedicures, expensive haircuts, plus a much-needed update to my wardrobe. In particular, I decided I needed to trade my high-waisted ‘mom jeans’ for some of those cool hipsters. Not that hipsters are a great style for my body type (flat butt, chunkster thighs), but my Relaxed Fit Levi’s 550s just weren’t cutting it in the hot-n-hip department, or even the I-live-in-the-21st-century department. Pre-pregnancy, the entire low-rise trend had passed me by, but now I was ready to join the party.

Shopping for the right jeans was about as fun as getting a Pap test, but I persevered and finally ended up with a couple pairs that I liked. Now, I’d never been very good at bargain shopping. I’d always operated on the adage of quality over quantity, or “If I want it that bad, who cares how much it costs?” Of course I had my limits. I won’t let myself go into credit card debt, and the fact that I don’t particularly like to shop has been my saving grace. That being said, one of the pairs of jeans I ended up with cost almost two hundred dollars. Two hundred dollars. For a pair of jeans. Crazy. Yet I bought them because somehow I decided that these jeans were THE jeans. The jeans that looked the best, fit the best. The jeans that would launch me into the Hot Mommy stratosphere.

Fast-forward to the present. Gas is expensive. Food is expensive. The economy sucks, whether they want to call it a recession or not. Hubby and I are doing ok, but things are definitely tighter, and we’re a one-income family, which can be scary in times like these. I think about those jeans –-the jeans that ultimately turned me into Hot, Hip Mommy for about five minutes and just aren’t practical enough to wear on a daily basis –-and consider how much better the money could’ve been spent. Sure, they were a splurge that helped me feel better about myself at the time, but over the past year, I have become much more frugal. I clip coupons, shop sales, hunt for the best deal, or simply don’t buy much. I’ve given up pedicures. Expensive haircuts are few and far between. I’m not pinching every single penny, but my habits have changed a lot.

The funny thing is, as much as I disliked scrimping in the past, I now feel good about it. It’s kind of an engaging challenge to figure out ways to save and ways to help support the family. And I know there are so many others out there trying to do the exact same thing. That’s why I love the suggestion made by Kristen over at Motherhood Uncensored to make August ‘Blog The Recession Month’. She proposes, “If you read blogs, then for the month of August, make the “pledge” to click through from your feed reader. No obligation to leave a hilarious comment or send a long stalkerish email….. Just click through to the blog (not on ads unless you are so led) and if you’re feeling generous, click around to their older posts.” For a lot of bloggers, page views=revenue. This post is my pledge to help out my fellow bloggers and start clicking away. Why don’t y’all join in on the fun?

As for me personally, my latest scheme is to sell everything in sight –-garage sale it, eBay it, whatever. (Hubby had better hide his power tools.) I even considered selling those jeans, just to help out with our own personal recession. But deep inside, there’s still a part of me that aspires to be hot and hip. Frugal, but hot and hip.

Let’s blog the recession, people!

Professional Wino

August 1st, 2008

At my suggestion, our little clan (Laziest Dog On the Planet included) took a nice camping trip last weekend. I felt it would do us all good to get away, breathe some fresh air, eat chili dogs, and lie in the dirt. Plus camping is one of Hubby’s favorite activities, so being the thoughtful, selfless wife that I am, I insisted we go, willing to endure being eaten alive by mosquitoes for his happiness.

Actually, that’s a bunch of crap. It was just an excuse to get us up there so I could participate in a wine tasting competition at Greenwood Ridge Vineyards, a mere six miles from the campground! How convenient!

I figured I had as good a chance as anybody at winning a wine tasting contest. After all, I’ve been a Professional Wino for years. The winery had the competition divided into three levels: Novice, Amateur, and Professional. ‘Professional’ in this case meant those who actually work in the wine industry, not those that support it single-handedly, so I entered myself at the ‘Amateur’ level. I even called the winery just to clarify the difference between ‘Novice’ and ‘Amateur’, and the nice lady I spoke to explained that ‘Novice’ was supposed to be for those who generally weren’t very familiar with wine at all. I’m so familiar with wine, I don’t even mind walking around naked in front of it. Amateur all the way, baybee!

I arrived at the competition, scoped out the crowd, and felt a little nervous but sure I could at least give these people a run for their money. I even allowed my thoughts to stray momentarily to the “winner” fantasy, the Oscar moment where I stand at the podium, clutching my golden wine bottle trophy: “I’d like to thank Beverages & More and The Bottle Barn……”

Then the other competitors started talking about the hint of cedar you get in this wine that you don’t get in that, the purple color of one varietal in comparison to the really purple color of another varietal, the subtle differences between wine barrels made with 100-year-old oak cut down by French unicorns during a full moon as opposed to 101-year-old oak cut down by the Keebler elves at precisely 06:57 GMT on the third Saturday of any month starting with the letter ‘J’. I’ve always gone by the more pedestrian, “Yep, that tastes like a Cab,” and “Yeah, that tastes like a Chardonnay.”

Needless to say, I got my friggin’ ass kicked on the first round. Out of eight varietals (Cabernet, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, etc.), I got one right. ONE. On the last two, there was the opportunity to guess the year, region, and winery as well. I didn’t bother to check, but I’m sure I wasn’t even close. The other tasters assured me that this was a particularly difficult round. As it turns out, they had all done this a gazillion times before. Regardless, I hung my head in slightly-buzzed shame. My Big Adventure In Winoland was over.

Then, a miracle happened. The wine gods smiled down upon the gustatorially impaired (i.e., the guy running the competition decided to go easy on losers like me), and I was advanced to the next round! I still had a chance at delivering my carefully prepared winner’s speech! The golden wine bottle would be mine, all mine!!

Actually, I went into the second round thinking, ok, I know I ain’t gonna win, but I’ll just have fun with it. I had gotten to know some of my competitors, and those people knew how to have a good time. (What Professional Wino doesn’t?) Well, I don’t know if it was those couple of glasses of wine I had during the break that, in my professional opinion, were essential for keeping myself primed for tasting, or if I just got lucky, but somehow I managed to guess six out of eight varietals! This round also had the option of guessing the year, region, and winery for every wine, and I got two of the years and one region. I had been redeemed! I was back, in all my alcohol-infused glory! Of course I didn’t win, but I was able to claim a rightful place among my fellow tasters. Once again, I could proudly hold my head high and declare, “Step back, everyone. I am a Professional Wino.

Step back, everyone…..

Honey, I shrunk the toilet.

July 5th, 2008

I am afraid. Afraid of what Hubby is doing in our bathroom.

He goes in there with tools. He makes a point of shutting the door. I hear scraping. I hear grinding. I hear banging.

He comes out grumbling, heads downstairs, and goes into the garage. More grinding. More banging.

After a few minutes, a pungent odor, like that of something on fire, wafts from the bathroom. I do what any rational person would do in this kind of situation –go downstairs, sit on the couch, and turn on the TV.

I’m ready to evacuate when necessary.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to marry engineers.

Hey, he ain’t gonna be drinking it!

July 2nd, 2008

At what age is it ok to teach your kid how to make cocktails?

Mad Me (to Babyzilla): Could you make Mommy a cocktail, sweetie?

Babyzilla: A cocktail?

Mad Me: Yes, a cocktail.

Babyzilla: Is it cold?

Mad Me: Heck yeah, I want it cold!

Babyzilla: What kind, Mommy?

Mad Me: How about a Cosmo?

Babyzilla: A Cosmo?

Mad Me: Yes, sweetie.

Babyzilla: Ok, Mommy.

Bless this child.

School Daze

July 1st, 2008

Well, my son’s first day of school went… ok. Apparently, he cried for a while but eventually settled down and was able to enjoy at least some of it. That sounds like pretty good news, but I can tell he’s rather agitated by all of this. He was very hyper when he got home yesterday, and last night, he woke up about an hour after going to bed, asked if it was a school day, and then asked why he had to go to a new school. Ouch. This morning he asked again if it was a school day, and when I said yes, he got pretty upset.

We did go through this when he was attending his old school, but eventually he really started to thrive and have fun there. His last few months were particularly good, so it’s unfortunate that he had to leave. Poor little guy –-I really feel for him. It broke my heart to drop him off this morning. He held it together in the car, although he was close to tears, and by the time we got to his classroom, that was it. Crying, begging me to stay. Of course I had to remain upbeat, but I got teary as I walked to the car.

Now I’m questioning everything. None of his friends from his last school moved on to this school. The majority of them are attending a different school, a school my son was accepted to but which I ultimately declined because his current school was our first choice. I had my reasons, of course, but now I’m second-guessing myself. He would’ve been with his friends at the other school. He would’ve had the option to attend fewer days, as opposed to the five days that the current school requires. Five days may be just too much for him.

And I’ve read (on the Internet, of course!) that if kids cry when they go to pre-school, then they’re just not ready for it. Yet he had been doing so well at his old school. Yes, it was rough at times, but he also benefited from it immensely. Would isolating him at home really be better? I never could’ve taught him all the social skills and independence he learned there, nor would he have experienced all the pride in his accomplishments or met the wonderful kids who became his buddies and gave him a sense of belonging. The pre-school nay-sayers insist that a child can gain all this just by being around their parents, but I feel I have to beg to differ. Like our pediatrician told me when my son was a baby, with a kid like this, it takes a village.

Either way, I feel extremely conflicted now. Should I have sent my son to the other school with his friends? Should he be in school at all? Am I putting him off of school for life by pushing him into it too early? Why does all of this have to be so damn hard??

Changes

June 30th, 2008

Nail-biting time. It’s my son’s first day at his new school. For the past year, he had been attending a nice little pre-school with a wonderful, talented teacher, but the age range only went up to 3 1/2. He turned 3 1/2 a couple of weeks ago, so that necessitated a change. Obviously, he’s not new to going to school, but he’s shy and rather sensitive, so changes, new people, new places can be very difficult for him. Unfortunately, when he gets nervous or uncomfortable, he acts out by being obstinate or, worse, by hitting.

Yep, I had a ‘hitter’. It started about a year ago and peaked when he began attending his last school. Everyone who observed him agreed that he wasn’t being purposely aggressive or malicious –-a lot of it was based on social anxiety and just needing a certain amount of personal space. Sometimes it appeared to be a maladjusted attempt to interact with other kids. We all worked hard with him, even enlisting the help of his teacher’s college-aged daughter as an extra assistant at school for a short period of time. Any hitting at home earned an immediate timeout. If we were somewhere else, like the park, we would leave immediately.

Everything I read and everyone I consulted advised that consequences had to be immediate. Stopping the infraction before it happened was even better. So I basically shadowed my son in any situation that merited it. Believe me, this was exhausting. No kicking back at the park, chatting with the other moms. No playdates or parties where he wasn’t directly supervised at all times.

How I envied all those parents who barely had to watch their kids! Not to mention that it was mortifying when my son walloped another child. Most parents were, thankfully, understanding, but not all of them. Usually it was the parents who had more than one child or had a ‘hitter’ themselves who took it in stride. But the parents who had one sweet angel, they were the ones that shot daggers at me with their eyes and assumed I was The Worst Mom In The World. We stopped going to Gymboree. I stopped leaving him at the gym daycare. Parties were a trial. Playdates were a dicey prospect. I felt like The Worst Mom In The World.

As frustrated as I would get with my son, I still felt very protective of him. Yes, he can be difficult, but he’s also a sweet, loving, exuberant child. And I can see how much he wants to fit in and how much he wants the other kids to play with him. The hitting is like an impulse that simply overtakes him when he gets overwhelmed. As a mom, it’s my job to help him gain control over that impulse and let all his wonderful qualities shine through. For all you parents out there that think my son wouldn’t have been behaving this way if I were a better parent, please don’t make assumptions until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes. When a mom could obviously use a little support, judgments are isolating and hurtful.

Slowly, my son’s behavior improved, but it was hard for me to gain trust in him. Unfortunately, it seems to take a long time to break bad habits in spirited kids. And the process was cyclical –he would improve and then regress again. A year later, the hitting is nothing like it was, although my son will still lash out when he’s frustrated or anxious. Big changes can cause regression, so as I sit here and write, I can only hope that he has learned how to cope better, that somehow my guidance has helped, and that he is doing ok on his first day at his new school. Mommy’s thinking of you, swee’pea.

R-e-a-d My L-i-p-s

June 27th, 2008

I love how being a mom affords you those startling “grown up” moments, like when you realize you are behaving exactly the same way your parents did. These are the things that send you running for the liquor cabinet.

Actually, it can be pretty amusing being on the dark other side….. unless you’re not a particularly fast speller. Case in point: I enjoy the fact that my three-year-old son, Babyzilla, is still a pre-speller. I can talk about things in front of him, and as long as I spell out all the key words, I’m totally incognito! Nifty! I learned to spell at a fairly young age because this is the kind of crap my parents would pull on me. The only problem is, Hubby occasionally has a hard time keeping up. What can I say? He’s an engineer. Engineers aren’t paid to know how to spell particularly well. Or even to use correct punctuation. (Oh, the run-on sentences this man can write!)

So, a recent conversation during Babyzilla’s bath time went something like this:

Mad Me: Did you see that coupon in the e-mail?

Hubby: Huh?

Mad Me: There’s a new T-h-o-m-a-s coupon. T-o-y-s-r-u-s sent it out. It’s good for one of the T-h-o-m-a-s t-r-a-i-n-s.

Hubby:
Uhhh….. Oh, ok.

Mad Me: So, I figured we’d want to choose between the R-h-e-n-e-a-s e-n-g-i-n-e or the musical c-a-b-o-o-s-e. What do you think?

Hubby: R-h-……… ???

Mad Me: I’m thinking R-h-e-n-e-a-s, since you-know-who likes him. But the c-a-b-o-o-s-e sounds pretty cool.

Hubby <<grabbing for a bath crayon to work it out on the tile>>: R-h-c-b-s…..

Mad Me: Yeah. Let’s get R-h-e-n-e-a-s, ok?

Hubby:
Uhh….

Ok, so maybe ‘Rheneas’ wasn’t really a fair word to throw at him, even if Hubby is more alarmingly familiar with all the Thomas train characters than I am.  And this type of communication is a bit awkward.  Gives me the odd sensation that I’m verbally text messaging him. The nice thing was, we were able to reach an agreement about which train to get without much discussion at all.

Heh.

I wonder if this would work for a pair of bitchin’ Jimmy Choos.

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