Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This Christmas crap needs to go

I never understood why people would put up their Christmas trees in November and not take them down until practically Spring. I suppose some need to feel the Christmas spirit for as long as possible, but I can't handle the crap that ends up everywhere. It drives me bananas.

Now not only am I having to sit in the house with two very hyperactive, not-in-school children and expected to maintain my sanity, there's crap everywhere. There are parts of toy science experiment sets all over my livingroom carpet and the kids take particular joy in spreading these little pieces throughout the house never to be seen again. That is until I step on one a month from now and it goes through my foot.

Back to the hard as I try, I can't seem to keep it looking nice. I found Clifford under there the other day batting at ornaments like a cat. Considering all the torture the tree endures throughout the holiday, all the fallen ornaments end up hung back up wherever someone puts them.

Time to go back where you came from

If I can manage to survive the next few days with these kids, my ex's mother will be taking them for a few days so I can officially take leave of my faculties and drive up to New York with Richard for the New Year.

When we get back...the tree.

And I just used my last coffee filter.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I need a PHD to work this Kindle

The kids got Kindle Touches for Chrstmas. I'm unfortunately very used to the iPad so understanding the Kindle and how it all works is surprisingly difficult for me.

Did I miss something? How is it that I can work an iPad and not understand this thing??

Well, let's all hope that the kids don't spend all of my money without me knowing buying books with questionable titles. After all, what kid could resist owning a book titled 'Sweet Farts'??

Yep, just bought it for them.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy birthday to my nutbag kids

Woo Hoo!! We made it a decade. Shock and awe.

10 years ago today, two monsters came screeching into my life. Within the past decade I've managed to perfect being the resident maid, chef, professional stain remover, toy mechanic, exterminator of all thing creepy, nurse, surgeon (only a few times), garbage collector, ball of stress, money tree, and kick-ass mom to two crazy boys.
Boys are awesome....and clean

Happy 10th birthday, monsters! We made it a whole decade. Let's try for at least a few more....unless I die, then good luck to you.
Love, mom.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

People are out of their damn minds

Maybe it's me, but driving around this place has quickly become a total nightmare. The highways are constantly under construction, traffic is horrendous, and people are mean. Just driving down the Beltway in the middle of the day is about as safe as skydiving with a parachute packed by one of your kids. All while smokin' a cig and sippin' on lighter fluid. Those of you from the DC area know exactly what I'm talking about.

This has been a major source of stress for me for some time now. As I'm getting in the car in the morning before work, I find myself literally preparing to do battle with the idiots. People are so unapologetic nowadays and they seem to have forgotten that a simple wave of the hand- right after they've so rudely cut me off on the highway- makes a big difference. I feel TERRIBLE if I inadvertently cut in front of someone in the car, or any line I happen to be standing it. It's common courtesy to be apologetic and make it right! People don't. Because they're idiots.

Since all civility has apparently gone out the window, I've been looking at ways to stay sane since I have to share a space with these morons. My cousin Leigh suggested listening to books in the car. "That's the only way to quiet the rage", she says. She should know, her commute is way worse than mine. I should probably go with the books since I could get a lot of listening in during the hour it takes me to drive the 18 crappy miles between home and work. Until now, I've just been shouting obscenities at the idiots. Somehow that makes me feel better.

I need to get massages on a regular basis.

Monday, December 12, 2011

We lived through the birthday party

Last month I decided it would be a good idea to finally throw a birthday party for my kids, who happen to have been born three days before Christmas. Thanks a lot for making it so easy, guys.
Since they've never really had a real party where friends actually showed up, I planned it for an earlier day in December. Yesterday was that day.

Picture this--Richard and me dragging ourselves, the kids, and two EXTRA kids into DC in the 34 degree, blustery weather, finding parking, and getting everyone into the Spy Museum....on time. It wasn't easy, but we managed to make it happen.

The "guests" (all 9 and 10 year old boys) trickled in one at a time and once around those little gems, my boys went insane. There was giggling and screeching and for a moment I thought we might be asked to leave. But alas, we were escorted to the party room.

The young women who clearly pulled the short straw and were assigned to run our party were basically saints. They put up with the boys running in actual circles, talking about farts, and not following directions. It was exhausting to watch. About 15 minutes in I came to the conclusion that only booze could make that experience tolerable.

After a bumpy start and a desperate attempt on the part of the museum employees to explain the "mission" each team was to accomplish, the kids were off into the museum to completely harass every paying visitor in the place. I don't think I've ever apologized to that many strangers in such a short amount of time.

After all the missions were successfully accomplished, it was back to the party room for a debriefing, goodie bags, and cake. Lots and lots of cake. Which meant lots and lots of sugar. This took the insanity, and the fart jokes, to a new level. I was counting minutes.....

The only way I can effectively describe the ceremonial unwrapping of the gifts is to have you imagine you're standing alone in a very small, enclosed space. You have 14 loaves of bread...and the room is filled with seagulls. RABID seagulls. It was a free-for-all and I was somehow stuck in the middle. They were like wild animals! I struggled to make notes of who brought what while the kids ravaged the gifts leaving a trail of destruction behind them. I made the effort to clean up as much as possible because at that point I just felt sorry for those poor museum employees.

All in all, we managed to survive. Although it was touch and go for a few moments. I have Richard, my Dad, his wife Patty, and her daughter Katie to thank for stepping in as chaperones and helping me keep 9 insane, rabid seagull-like 9/10 year old boys in check for two whole hours.

Looks more like the loser wall from the dance scene in Sixteen Candles

I still can't believe we weren't asked to leave...and to kindly never return.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Free at last! Swim lessons are finally over....

Clear back in September, I posted about enrolling the kids in swim lessons so they wouldn't drown. At that time they were excited to spend their Tuesday evenings splashing about in the pool, as they did all summer.

Not long after that things took a very quick turn for the worse when suddenly the water was just "too cold" and they balked at the idea that they "needed to learn to swim". After all, they already could! (WRONG).

Considering I paid more than $200 for these lessons, I was determined to get my money's worth. And I did that by forcing them to go to every. single. lesson. And it was a nightmare.

Screaming and crying and endless "I don't need to learn how to swimmmm!!!" from their rotten little mouths....for MONTHS. Never again. The end.

Let's be done with this crap....

Last night was the VERY LAST swim lesson and I couldn't be happier. I may be happier than the kids, now that I don't have to endure our Tuesday night ritual of complaints followed by threats of consequences for being a little snot. Ugh, the stress. And of course as the lesson was wrapping up, Clifford exclaims "Mom, I wanna be in swim lessons in the Spring!"


Friday, December 2, 2011

My kids are insane

...and I don't think I like them very much anymore.


There's something about this particular time of year when my otherwise mostly-lovable children are mysteriously replaced with demons. And the demons are taking over the house.

I know I've mentioned in previous posts that the kids are apt to fight...continually. But this takes it. They're about to pull each others' heads off from the moment they wake up in the morning until the moment they manage to drift off to sleep at night, which is usually about an hour after they were supposed to drift off to sleep. So the next day they are truly a joy to be around..

And the cycle of life continues.

And no, my kids aren't Asian, but they definitely do this

So, since everyone in the house is completely at odds with one another, it's a wonder I don't just pack up their stuff and put them on the curb. Someone will take them home, right?

It'll be a small miracle if we all make it through the holidays intact, and with all our limbs. I'm just hoping it doesn't all result in a Christmas morning where I find myself telling everyone to "take your @#!$&!!! gift and shut up".

I love this time of year....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black outlet for the crazy people

I've never been a Black Friday shopper.

Something about standing in the cold for 17 hours so I can be one of a thousand people fighting my way to a deeply discounted DVD that was relevant in the 90s doesn't sound so appealing.

And this year, the super crazies were out in full force. Shots fired in the parking lot at the WalMart, 20 people injured by a woman with pepper the WalMart.

I sense a pattern.

That DVD is 15 years old!!

I'm all for a good deal, I have two kids I have to keep clothed and fed. But the decline of civility in this country is mind boggling. I never understood why people felt it necessary to take an otherwise joyful holiday and ruin it by being mean to each other.

Maybe it's this area...maybe I need to move to a really quiet, sleepy, boring town where the nice people offense to the nice, bored people in the sleepy towns of this country, but seriously!

The holidays are stressful enough without all this nonsense. It's enough to bring out the crazy in all of us, or just the deep-seeded fear of the late-night WalMart crazies.

Happy holidays, y'all!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The holidays are here, so the toys must go

Richard's parents are coming for the Thanksgiving holiday....and they'll be here for a week.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE Richard's family, and I'm pretty sure they like me better than they like him, but I'm nervous. This will be the first time anyone has come to stay for an extended period of time, except my mother and she's so low maintenance, I hardly know she's in the house.

So in preparation, I insisted the boys go through all the junk that's in the basement rec room and decide what to keep, and what to donate. Not so easy for two ADHD children who have issues letting things go.

This past Saturday was the big day. I dragged the two of them down there, dumped everything on the floor, and started going through it all. Clifford immediately organized a protest and insisted that everything should be kept because ALL of it was played with on a regular basis. (Not true in the least). So I had to banish him to the living room due to impartiality.

Alexander hung in there and was quite helpful....for about 10 minutes, then he sort of drifted out of the room leaving the rest of the job to me. Story of my life.

About an hour later I had 4 large bags of stuff that was donation-worthy. I shoved it all in the trunk of the car, ushered the kids into the back seat, and said "Okay, it's time to go be charitable...whether you like it or not".
That was met with a few grinchy responses, but off we went.

Toys donated- CHECK
Kids all crabby about it- CHECK
Mom on the verge- CHECK

The bad news: Goodwill no longer accepts "small pieces" so now I have a trunk full of matchbox cars.


Friday, November 11, 2011

I have a birhday party to plan

Clifford was invited to a birthday party for a friend at school. A friend, he told me, who was making fun of him at school to the point he felt the need to go to the counsellor. Oh, but he still wants to go to the party....because he "really wants to go bowling". What?? No.

Instead, I've decided to dazzle both boys with a birthday party of their own, and save the money I would have spent on that other kid.

A little background:
The kids were cursed. As hard as I tried, I couldn't hold back and they were born 3 days before Christmas.
So sad.

And because their birthday is so close to Christmas, we've never been able to have a birthday party inviting all their friends because none of their friends would show up...because it's 3 days before Christmas.

So this year, Richard and I decided we should have a party for the kids since they're turning 10, we just need to have it a few weeks early so kids will actually show.

The choices:
1. Party at the house...upwards of 20 screaming kids in my house trashing the place because they can't be outside in the cold
2. Party at the local lasertag place...almost every birthday party the kids have attended has been held here. Not original, but reliable.
3. An awesome party at the International Spy Museum (!!!)...the kids would LOVE's just expensive.

So we're leaning toward option 2. But what I REALLY want to give them is option 3.

Is it wrong to have your own fundraiser benefiting yourself? Karma scares me so I think I'll skip that one.

Time to get creative....time to call Nana.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The goal: to make Mom lose it

Yesterday was the Fall season's LAST soccer game (hallelujah). We don't normally have games on Sunday afternoons, but this was a rain makeup game and it couldn't have been worse timing. It's not easy to drag two tired, crabby kids out of the house for a 4:00 Sunday afternoon soccer game when we just had a daylight savings time change, oh, and it's COLD.

Needless to say, Alexander threw an award-winning tantrum. You may think that kids who are about to turn 10 years old should be beyond the tantrum age, but when dealing with a child with ADHD anything goes.

And he went my response was to basically lose it. Alexander got his wish.

Clifford was very compliant, probably because he actually likes playing soccer, and was sitting peacefully in the car waiting out the nonsense that was going on in the house.

My solution to it all? Grab the kid and all the equipment and throw him as-is in the back of the car. TAKE THAT, CRABBY KID!

He calmed down during the 25 minute drive to the soccer field and I actually received an unsolicited apology from him for his behavior. And that's something that's as rare as me having a good hair day in 100 degree weather.

Nothing makes you feel old and exhausted quite like battling it out with a 10 year old, except maybe finding a weird hair growing out of your chin....which is exactly what I found a few minutes later when I was parking the car.

One foot in the grave......

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ghosts, goblins, and whatever that thing is

We managed to survive Halloween. And this year, it seemed to be a little less dramatic than in years past. As usual, the kids chose costumes that embody some sort of commando something-or-other (to the tune of $70) and last year's candy bags were still intact, so off we went into the dark with the goal of ridding the neighborhood of as much candy as possible. 


Our trip around the neighborhood can only be described as bananas as the kids, and two of their like-minded friends, bounced from house to house and street to street, and in no particular order. Richard and I tried to get them to stay together and not to skip houses saying "you're missing out on candy". But they were undeterred. Madness was apparently a necessary part of the evening.

About an hour into the bananas trip, Clifford, who had been eating almost as much candy as he was able to collect, wasn't feeling so well (shocker). He was dragging around, asking me to hold his candy bag, and being unusually whiney. 

IT'S HALLOWEEN!! What kid wants to go home when there's candy to be snagged?? And NO I won't hold your candy bag. My days as a pack mule are over, little man.

The timing turned out to be good as we suddenly seemed to be the only people still out which took us from Halloween Trick-Or-Treaters to creepy door to door solicitors in bad disguises. It was time to wrap it up.

Once home, we were surprised to see the bowl of candy I left on the porch for the passers by STILL HAD CANDY IN IT....Maybe it was the sign the kids left on the door...

Friday, October 28, 2011

All hail the 4th grade violin recital

2 weeks ago the kids came home with permission forms for them to "rent" a violin from school for $5. Apparently you have to play the violin in 4th grade. At least the school still has a music program.

So here I am thinking "I give them a month before one smashes that thing over the other's head" and then I'm on the hook for the $300 per violin replacement charge, which means Christmas is officially cancelled.

But to my surprise, both of the boys have proven themselves to be very serious about their new musical challenge so I wasn't too worried about the *recital* that was planned so early in their musical careers.

What started off as a demonstration of their talents turned into an ear-bleeding experience that only a mother can tolerate....and it wasn't because of my kids. Some of those other kids in the class are NOT cut out for this. Yikes. It was painful but it proved to me that my kids have a great deal of natural talent when it comes to the violin so I may have to push this one along....and try not to end up the obnoxious stage mom.

So now my completely overscheduled children have a new hobby. We'll see how long this lasts past the 4th grade

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

One foot in the grave

It finally happened. I turned 40 and I don't like it AT ALL.

I don't know if it's because there's no longer a 3 involved in the number or what but I have a really hard time saying the words "I'm 40".


Before I know it, the kids will be submitting the most unflattering picture of me they can find so it can be slapped on that jar of Smucker's Jelly and Willard Scott can butcher my name. On live television. BAH.

All my facebook friends who have already turned 40 are going on and on about how it's not so bad blah blah blah......instead, this is how I feel.....

My name here

 Clearly age is simply a state of mind so I fully intend to NOT act my age. Ever. And the box of haircolor says I don't have gray hair. I listen to that.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Crabby kids, sibling rivalry, and the not-so-glorious holidays

Why is everyone in such a bad mood? The kids are yelling at each other, I'm yelling at them to stop, Richard is yelling at me to stop yelling at them to stop yelling. It's *awesome*.

For the past several years I've noticed that the time between Halloween and a week or so after New Years, we all seem to hate each other. The kids are NUTS and the more activities we jam into this time, the worse it gets.

Halloween usually kicks it off with giant bags of candy guaranteeing a sugar rush through Spring, Fall festivals, plays and recitals and other seasonal parties at school, food comas and house guests at Thanksgiving, the kids' ill-timed birthday 3 days before Christmas, Christmas Day itself, and then New Years Eve......vomit.

It's exhausting and it's no wonder the kids are completely overloaded and cranky, which means Richard and I want to scratch each others' eyes out. That's been the pattern for the past two years anyway.

This year I vowed would be different. Magic wand to make the kids mute? Maybe just inventing a way to teleport myself to Aruba for a few months, they won't miss me (until they get hungry or need money).

Still working on the master plan....suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tattoo Barbie? What??

I appreciate diversity, I'm a huge fan. I think it's important to teach our children to accept people for who they are and to 'live and let live'...


I saw on the Today Show this morning that there is now a Tattoo Barbie. She of course looks slim, and perfect, and completely unrealistic as the other Barbies out there, only she's covered in tattoos.

The decision to get a tattoo, or NOT to get a tattoo, is one that by law can only be made once a person has turned 18. (Unless you're my brother and you get a fake ID just to get tattooed before turning 18.) But I know this, it's not something that girls of Barbie-playing age should concern themselves with. This is one of those times I'm glad I have boys.

They grow up too fast as it is. My kids won't even play with toys anymore because the toys don't talk back or interact with them like video games do. So is it too much to ask to leave something as timeless as Barbies ALONE?

I'm fully aware of how old and crotchety I sound with this little rant, but I really don't believe that we need to have a tattooed Barbie for young girls to "relate" to. Let the innocence prevail for a while.

Just enjoy their childhood and prepare yourself for when they do turn 18 and they come home with their current boyfriend's name tattooed on their arm.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Halloween and food allergies

Halloween is always such a fun time. You get to carve pumpkins with the kids and hope you don't find pumpkin seeds in your DVD player in November. In turn they get to drag you around the neighborhood, sometimes in the pouring rain (2009), all to see how much candy they can score in the shortest amount of time.

There's nothing better than a kid with ADHD all hopped up on Sweet Tarts late at night. And by 'better' I mean WORSE. To add to the fun, balancing 25 pound bags of Halloween candy....and kids with tree nut allergies.

It's unreasonable to expect people to hand out only candy free of allergens, or books...(2007, and like a wild pack of dogs...or a lynch mob, all the kids yelled "What is THIS crap??") so I've had to come up with ideas to keep the kids from feeling like they've been robbed of 3/4 of their hard-earned candy when they come home.

The best idea yet? I'll trade you one for one.

When we get home, the kids throw their stashes down and I get to pick through it. More often than not, items made of chocolate are also "made in a facility that also processes peanuts and tree nuts". Much to the kids' dismay. So all of that gets sorted out and dropped into a bag that Richard immediately takes ownership of. So HE can eat it.

For every piece of candy I have to put in the "no" pile (read: the "Richard" pile) I give them one piece of candy I know is safe. The most common of the safe candy brands is Willy Wonka candies. They have a great website with very specific allergen info so parents can feel confident that they won't be killing their least not this year. Just click the 'Nutrition Info' tab at the bottom of the product and you can see the label.

So happy Trick-or-Treating everyone! And be sure to keep all the "no" pile candy for yourself. You'll be enjoying smooshed Reece's Peanut Butter Cups through Easter, I promise.

Monday, October 10, 2011

We started the day with Top Gun

I'm not exactly sure why boys are wired the way they are. I've raised my boys almost exclusively on my own, yet they still thinks farts are funny. I didn't teach them that....

So this morning as I was getting ready for work the kids were in the other room watching Top Gun. All I could hear was the endless chatter of the kids and the roar of fighter jets...and then I hear this:

Alexander: "Clifford! It's time! It's the big battle over the sea, it's not a training exercise, I repeat, it's not a training exercise!!"

Clifford: "You mean the one with the real rocket launchers??"

Ummm, what??

I've noticed over the past few months both boys have become more and more interested in things such as fighter jets and rocket launchers. They even bring home library books to study up. But my question is....did they just come out of the box pre-wired for this stuff?? I'd personally like to re-wire the parts of their brains that have them thinking farts are funny, but that may be a losing battle.
Especially considering my 32-year-old brother still thinks farts are funny.

Kids and farts- 2, Mom- 0

Friday, October 7, 2011

For the last time....GO OUTSIDE!

I just don't get it. It's gorgeous outside. We have a day more beautiful than we've had in what seems like months and the boys want to stay in the house.


They're like indoor cats, so I basically bored them to death.

Me: I'm working so I can't be outside enjoying this amazing day, if you're in the house you can't do anything. Nothing.

Them: There's nothing to doooooo!!!

Me: Too bad.

They finally got sick of it after a couple of hours and left. Amen.

To quote the great Steve Martin in 'Parenthood'-- "My whole life is 'have to'".  Well said.

I don't usually get to do things I actually want to do anymore.
When I was a kid I would leave the house in the morning (because I wanted to) and my mother would have to come looking for me at dinner time (because she had to). I suppose with today's technology and constant entertainment it's not as exciting to go play kickball until you drop. It's a shame really.

And I ran out of wine.....bah. I don't even want to go get more.
I believe I'll be outsourcing that one to Richard. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I knew I would be recognized eventually

So according to The Bloggess, National Mental Illness Week is THIS week. (!!)
Now I don't want to make light of the serious mental illness that some people are so unfortunate to be plagued with, BUT I'm convinced that having almost 10-year-old twin boys could easily qualify me for a holiday, especially this week.

Megan would agree with me.

And I'm super excited that I get to work from home tomorrow (yay flexible work arrangement!) but what makes it *super* exciting is that the kids are out of school due to one of their WAY too many teacher work days so they get to be home with me ALLLL DAYYYY. Sensing my sarcasm? Hmm??

So National Mental Illness Week seems to be MY week, at least right now.

I'm almost out of wine, better go take care of that...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Why do they always smell so gross?

No matter what I do, no matter how clean they are when they leave the house, the kids always manage to come home smelling like stinky, wet dogs.

What is that??

They're just sitting in a classroom all day with a few breaks to go outside throughout the day. Hardly a reason to smell so disgusting. Maybe it's because they're boys? Who knows.

Today they have soccer practice. Can't wait to experience that one.
If you're looking for me, I'll be Febreze-ing the kids.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Comcast makes me crazy

There's no reason cable should cost THIS much. Our last bill was almost $200 and my OnDemand only works some of the time. Total madness.

Unfortunately the back patio, the only allowable location for a dish, is not Southern facing. See ya later, DirecTV. The neighborhood is not wired for Fios, so we're stuck with evil Comcast. Ugh.

Enough to make me want to spit tacks.

So today I called to see if I could "talk them down" a little using a stern voice and some crafty negotiating skills. (riiiiight). Long story short, I ended up on a call for almost 20 minutes with a personality-free Comcast representative, a call which consisted of almost nothing but silence. Weirdest thing ever.

After all that excitement, 'Personality-Free' came back with an offer to apply a $20 credit to our bill every month for 12 months.

As Megan says, "Better than nuthin". So true.

Here's a tip for y'all...agree to get a call back afterward to take the brief survey. That might improve your chances of getting someone who's willing to work with you, personality or not.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Energy is wasted on the youth

This weekend was a tough one. It turned sharply colder out, 40 degrees. And for early October in Northern Virginia that's COLD. Especially considering it was 80 about a week ago. No wonder we all get sick every change of season.

The kids unfortunately had a soccer game early Saturday morning. 
Here's the quick math:
Cold + rain + wind + crabby kids = mom wanting to run away. It was miserable. And did I mention it was cold??
Huddled like penguins only their beaks aren't as sharp
That basically set the tone for the rest of the weekend which was not pleasant...for anyone. The kids were bouncing off the walls and Richard and I were nearly dead.

What resulted was a barrage of screaming matches between the kids, feelings of cabin fever on my part, and a great desire to just move myself to an island somewhere...alone. And I wouldn't mind trading places with Demi Moore for a minute, just sayin'.

Back to my real life.....

Friday, September 30, 2011

Who wouldn't laugh at posts from The Bloggess??

I try to share the funny stuff I come across on a day to day basis with anyone who will listen to me and was compelled to share this link from The Bloggess. This stuff manages to make me laugh out loud in an embarrassing way on an almost daily basis. Enjoy, y'all!

The Ambush Makeover-- thanks for the insult?

During the 10:00 hour of The Today Show, there's a segment where the hosts choose someone out of the crowd outside on the plaza to give them a complete outer-appearance overhaul, known as the Ambush Makeover. 

Here's something I never understood....EVERYONE who is chosen looks absolutely thrilled, most likely because they get to be on TV and get their hair and makeup done for free. But the fact they were chosen in the first place is because they didn't look okay as-is. 
Why aren't they insulted?? I would never want to be the subject of an ambush makeover because it says to me "hey, you're a hot mess and you shouldn't be walking the planet this way, we can fix you right up".

I'm all for fun talk show segments, but maybe the 'subject' of the makeover is really okay with the way they look now. What if they don't want to change their appearance? Do they really need to have a "beauty expert" who has obviously had his cheeks done tell them that they aren't looking their best?
I'm pretty sure they know it...maybe?

We already have body image issues, wardrobe malfunctions, and general beauty insecurity to deal with in our everyday lives so who's to say what "pretty" is? 
All the subjects of the makeover are always very happy with their new looks and I think it's wonderful to give someone a chance to see what makeup can do.

But why the heck are they so happy being chosen in the first place??

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sibling rivalry-- something finally clicked (other than my clenched jaw)

Kids do weird things.

If you'll recall from one of my previous posts, my 9-year-olds are suddenly like oil and water. They can't stand being around each other for longer than 5 minutes.

In an attempt to put an end to the screeching and bring peace back into the house, I have robbed both kids of TV and video game privileges "until morale improves". Of course that gave them something else to screech about, but it seems to be marginally effective.

Since mornings are usually when most of the nastiness occurs, I naturally expected the worst when I first heard them stirring at 6:30 this morning. The stirring I heard was actually Clifford wandering into my room to inform me that Alexander was already downstairs and hadn't gotten dressed yet. Alexander used to be the town crier, but it appears that he has abandoned his post and Clifford has wasted no time assuming the responsibilities.

I call down to Alexander to have him come get dressed, per morning routine. His response? "Mom, I can't be up there with him".
What?? Are you a robot like that kid from Small Wonder?

We all want our children to grow up well-equipped to make good decisions. This one far exceeded my expectations of a hyperactive 9-year-old boy. He knew he would fight with Clifford, so he just went downstairs, sat on the couch, and waited.

I can only imagine that this impressive move in his part has more to do with his desire to regain access to the computer than with his ability to remove himself from potentially disastrous situations involving his brother. But I'll choose to believe he's bright beyond his years, that's what moms do. And I'll hope this ability remains with Alexander when Clifford tries to convince him to do something really stupid. Because we all know that's coming....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And off we go...the dreaded food challenge

After yesterday's insanely long post about my kids and their allergies, I was able to finally get the results of their latest Rast (blood) tests. Turns out we get to play allergy roulette with Alexander. Or, thanks to a good friend at work, we can now commence with the aptly named "Operation: Deep Sea".

Alexander has managed to almost completely grow out of his fish/seafood allergies. Good news for him! However, now I have to test it out on him. Hopefully Operation: Deep Sea won't become Operation: Deep Six.

Here's how it goes- I give him salmon in 20 minute intervals. If he lives, then I move on to tuna, also to be given in 20 minute intervals. The final test is codfish.
If everything goes well then we can officially consider him fish/seafood allergy FREE! (We hope)

Of course I can't breathe a word of this to him because he'll be all suspicious of me when I'm trying to sneak salmon into something he's already eating without him knowing. If I tell him anything he'll freak out. The same way he freaked out when it was time for the peanut food challenge 2 years ago. He accused me of trying to kill him.

Next step: search for "how to hide salmon in your kid's meals" recipes.
All suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My kids have food allergies....

....and I found out the hard way.
4 years ago, I gave Clifford some pistachio gellato and he started coughing. Richard and I didn't think anything of it considering Clifford was getting over a head cold at the time.
The next night after dinner, Clifford asked for some more, so we gave it to him and he had the same response. I thought he was getting sick again.

After throwing some cough syrup at the issue and putting him to bed, I noticed that he was very lethargic but he wasn't complaining, so....carry on.
About an hour later he wandered down the hall to my room saying his arms were hurting. The kid was COVERED in hives. He was also wheezing like a life-long smoker.

Knowing that it was likely a reaction to the pistachios, I gave him some chewable Benedryl for the hives, got him dressed, grabbed the gellato, and we headed for the closest urgent care.
I didn't have a very strong emotional reaction to my child not being able to breathe well, and that was on purpose. I knew that as soon as I got upset, Clifford would flip out and it would be a nightmare. I stayed calm, therefore he stayed calm. I highly recommend this approach.

We arrived at the urgent care center, walked up to the intake desk (where you usually sit for 47 hours waiting for someone to acknowledge you) and I said aloud, "I have pistachio gellato and a kid who can't breathe. Could be a possible nut allergy".

The next thing I knew, Clifford was being whisked away to be pumped full of meds. That's when he got upset.
He calmed down quickly when he realized I wasn't going anywhere without him, and he enjoyed the focus being on me as I was peppered with questions from the doctors. They quickly confirmed that it indeed was an allergic reaction, and likely to treenuts.

Here's where it gets a little squirrely....the urgent care doctors gave him oral Prednisone. Now for those of you who either have children with food allergies, or have them yourself, you KNOW that when anaphylaxis (breathing difficulties) is involved, the only sure way to treat it and stop the reaction is through an injection of Epinephrine. That's why we have to carry Epi-Pens with us everywhere.
This is something I did not find out until months later when we got in to see an allergist who knew her stuff. Clifford got lucky in that the Prednisode happened to stop the reaction.

Fast forward 4 years, several rounds of skin and blood tests, countless Epi-Pen prescription refills, and major diet changes....I have two kids who have significant food allergies.

At first I was insane. I was printing off and reading the entire Arlington County Public Schools menu ingredients list, I was calling school administrators, I was listing out all "off-limits" foods for every family member and emailing them around. I was terrified someone would end up accidentally killing my kids. It was a very helpless feeling.
Since then, I've calmed down. The kids are much better at reading labels and knowing their limits. They've grown up quite a bit. And what's even better is they have grown out of quite a few of their allergies already so their diets are not as restrictive, and I'm not as much of a nervous wreck when it comes to eating out. It's been an adjustment, but we're living with it.

Here's how we started out 4 years ago:
Clifford: Allergic to peanut, treenuts, sunflower, sesame
Alexander: Allergic to peanut, treenuts, sunflower, sesame, fish/seafood

My thoughts? "Well, I guess these kids can kiss all Asian cuisine goodbye. Poor little guys".

Since that time they have both grown out of the peanut, sunflower and sesame allergies. Thank goodness! Being allergic to sunflower meant no more Goldfish Crackers. Those are a diet STAPLE when you're a kid. Needless to say, the kids were very pleased.

Random things I've learned in all this madness:
1. For those with treenut allergies...Watch out for things like Cetaphil skin products. Wonderful for eczema, but they contain macadamia nut oil (a treenut) and will likely cause a skin reaction in the highly allergic.

2. Check for pesto in the pizza sauce- A lot of restaurants have "cheese pizza" on the kids' menu. I have yet to run across a restaurant that actually uses pesto in the kids' sized pizza sauce (pesto = pine nuts = treenuts). However, I still ask every time because you never know.

3. Coconut is considered a fruit. For a long time we avoided anything containing coconut oil because we thought it was a treenut and would kill the kids. Turns out it's a fruit so it was safe for us. As always, be sure to check with your allergist before handing over those SpongeBob fruit snacks.

4. For those with fish/seafood allergies...When eating out, ALWAYS inquire about the restaurant possibly having dedicated fryers for people with allergies. I have on several occasions asked to speak directly to the chef because the waitstaff couldn't tell me if the french fries were also fried in the same oil as the fish. You'd be surprised at how few restaurants have dedicated fryers, so always ask.

5. Fast food websites usually have very detailed allergen information, so do your research before you go! It turns out that out of all the fast food restaurants we've visited only McDonald's has dedicated fryers separating the fish and the french fries/nuggets. All others fry their nuggets and fries in the same oil as the fish, so be careful when considering ordering the chicken nuggets, or anything else that's fried. Poor Alexander spent years without a single chicken nugget until we found out McDonald's was safe.
Places like Chick-fil-A are fine because they do not serve fish, but watch your peanut allergies. Even refined peanut oil can cause a reaction in a severely allergic child, although it the restaurant claims it's safe, so check with your allergist first.

For parents who are just entering this crazy world of kids and food allergies, the best information resources available (in my opinion) can be found on the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network website. This site cleared up a lot for me and made it all far less overwhelming.

More posts to come on the crazy adventures of my kids and their food allergies....
In the mean time- any questions? Feel free to email me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

For more on parenting little devils.....

If you're looking for some great parenting advice, or to feel better knowing there are others suffering right along with you, I highly recommend ill-advised.
It's what you were always thinking, but just haven't had the nerve to say out loud....yet.

Moms should get paid....a lot

I love it when my good friend Megan comes over and tells me that coming to my house is the best, and cheapest, form of birth control on the market.

She's right, my kids are a handful. And, for example, after yesterday's solid screaming match between the boys about who gets to play on the computer first, it's not uncommon for me to think how awesome it would be to just put them on the curb with the recycling. Not that I would actually do it because that would be illegal, it's just fun to think about.
Don't judge, I know I'm not alone.

Parenting is hard, and parenting twins is ridiculous. I particularly enjoy the response I get from childless, female twenty somethings when they find out I'm raising twins...."OMGEEEEE!! I WANT TWINSSSS!!!! IT WOULD BE SOOOO FUNNNN!!!"
Really? Come to my house. Better yet, ask Megan, she'll knock some sense into you. It's not for the faint of heart.

It's wonderful and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but don't be fooled, young twenty somethings.... it's the most thankless, painstaking job out there. And it doesn't pay squat.

Unless you count being paid in petrified Skittles stuck to the back seat of your car.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I'm not sure why I agreed to this

Yesterday we decided to go into DC for Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play. Probably the worst decision. Ever

Error in judgement #1- We drove. 
Richard wanted to drive, I wanted to take a cab, Richard won. 
It was insanity. I don't even understand how they actually fit that many people in one place. So after an hour of listening to Richard almost lose his mind and after parking several blocks away, we were finally headed to the event.

Error in judgement #2- Not going until 3 hours after it began.
By the time we got there all the water and food was long gone. The only thing that remained were bottles of Diet Coke. Surprisingly poor planning on the part of the event coordinators considering there were still 3 hours left. 
So the kids got a treat....and the caffeine made them nutty. Which in turn made Richard a joy to be around.

Error in judgement #3- Going in the first place.
It was hot, it was muddy thanks to all the rain we've gotten, and it was crowded with crazy people. People who seemed to have no concept of personal space. Maybe I'm just getting too old for this? I used to have no problem with crowds, now I don't want anyone near me. I sound like a crabby old man.

Even the kids were getting snarky. Alexander started making comments about being "claustrophobic" and Clifford was pouting about being too short to see the event stage so it was time to get Well as fast as the insanely dense crowd would allow. 

So we headed for the a nice quiet pizza place, where the nuttiness continued thanks to the Diet Coke.
Just about the most exhausting 3 hours of my day...and I didn't really even do anything. 

old, old, old

Saturday, September 24, 2011

And the bickering continues

Nothing says brotherly love like Clifford telling me, in no uncertain terms, that he would like Alexander to suddenly disappear. They seem to be at the age now when getting along peacefully is not nearly as desirable as a nice slap across the face or punch to the arm. They fight over what show to watch, what snacks to eat, what games to play, what the weather is like....bicker, bicker, bicker. Have you ever seen those chickens that can't be in the same pen together without pecking each others' eyes out? Yep, that basically describes my children.

I suppose I should add "Referee" to my extensive list of qualifications. 

It's a challenge, and anyone who has children embroiled in daily episodes of sibling rivalry would surely agree. But the worst part of this never ending challenge is when you're in the midst of breaking up the 74th argument of the day and one of your 9-year-olds blurts out "HE'S ANTAGONIZING MEEEEE!!!", displaying the vocabulary of a near-adult. In that case there's nothing left to say but "KNOCK IT OFF!!" 

Kids-1, Mom- 0 

Friday, September 23, 2011

There’s no way I’m going back in there

This Fall I finally enrolled the kids in swim lessons. After spending several summers watching them paddle around the neighborhood pool and sink like rocks, I thought it was time they learned the proper way to swim.
Sinking or floating?...Jury's still out
The first class proved to be an interesting life lesson. There I am sitting on the bleachers of a very noisy, very hot indoor pool watching the kids flap around in the water when all of a sudden Alexander pops up and announces he needs to go to the bathroom. I point to the men’s locker room and off he goes.
A few minutes later he comes back out with a look of surprise and terror on his face. He walks up to me and says “Mom, there’s no way I’m going back in there!”
Knowing that there were likely several older boys in the locker room after their swim practice, I said “Oh, is it crowded because of all the boys from the swim team?”
 Alexander, in his 9-year-old voice, loudly shouts for all to hear, “Not boys, MEN!”
Now I don’t know about you, but I didn’t think that the crowded indoor pool was the best place to attempt to explain to Alexander that he possessed the same equipment as those “men” and he shouldn’t be concerned about going into the locker room.  So, sensing the audience of other parents waiting for my response, I instead offered to take him into the ladies locker room with me.
His look of complete disgust was answer enough.
See, Alexander? There really are worse places than the men’s locker room.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Operation: MuffinTop, and other questionable decisions

Ahh, freedom. Freedom of choice, freedom of speech, and freedom from your kids for 10 whole weeks. That’s what I was so fortunate to experience this past summer. Although I missed my children dearly, it’s rare that I get a moment to myself, let alone 10 WHOLE WEEKS. My ex husband and I have always lived in different states so when he offered to take the kids for the summer, rather than have them go to summer camp here, I said “sure”. But what I was thinking was “PHEW!”
I needed a break, and Richard and I needed to get away to try to remember why we are in a relationship in the first place.
Fast forward 10 weeks and I am suddenly 10 pounds heavier.
All that freedom to eat out whenever I wanted, freedom I had been without since the kids were born, resulted in my unworn, now ill-fitting favorite jeans lying neatly folded in my closet…mocking me. And I was exhausted! I was so excited for the kids to come home so I had an excuse to NOT go anywhere.
So my latest quest…to rid myself of these 10 horrid pounds. Thus, Operation: MuffinTop.
UPDATE: Day four of my attempt to eliminate sugar, gluten, and dairy from my diet is going well.
I caved and ate pretzels for dinner last night, by the way. Stay tuned.

You know what you can do with that balloon...

So in a few short weeks I will be turning 40. *WHATTT?* That’s just not funny. There’s NO WAY this can be happening. I’m young! I feel like I just got out of college, and sometimes act like it! And I’ve spent the last 9 years making absolutely certain I definitely DO NOT look like a mom. But alas, I am. And I’m about to turn 40.
My parents have both said on separate occasions that they cannot claim ownership of a child who is “my age”. My response? “I have no idea what you’re talking about”. But every time I think about it I get slightly nauseous.
“It’s no big deal”, they say. They being the friends around me, who just so happen to be YOUNGER than me. Just you wait.
I say whatever. I choose to remain AT MOST 28…in my mind. Although, my kids have every intention of divulging my real age every chance they get. To all their friends and their friends’ parents.
Thanks a lot, guys. I plan to tell everyone I know you’re about to turn 10.

A picture I plan to show all future girlfriends