Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Root Canals and Birthdays Just Might Go Together

December 31 is my birthday. December 30 I had a root canal. Poor planning on my part. I don't know what I was expecting, but I certainly wasn't expecting to be in horrible pain all day long. The root canal itself didn't hurt at all. However, once the anesthesia wore off and feeling was regained in my mouth it was horrific. Supposedly, this is typical for the first day or two. None of the pain meds my dentist gave me are providing any relief at all, so I spent the day beside myself with pain. I am just hoping that my birthday tomorrow is not spent in this same amount of pain. Turning 32 is painful enough for me!

My husband and I went out this past Sunday for dinner and to see a movie to celebrate my birthday. While I initially wanted to go out on my actual birthday I am now glad we did it ahead of time, especially if I am still unable to eat tomorrow. Anyway, we went out for sushi, one of our favorites, which was nice. Then we saw Up in the Air. It was good and George Clooney is always nice to look at. No complaints there.

Birthdays, for me, are just kind of depressing now. I mean as a kid you get these great parties and celebrations and everyone makes a big deal about them, but as an adult the same amount of excitement, by myself or others, simply doesn't exist. My parents and grandma always give me a gift as do my husband and kids. Then there is a meal of some sort with me and my husband, but inside I'm thinking, "What's really the point? I'm just another year older?" I don't know what my point is exactly, other than that birthdays just aren't what they used to be. And that is sad.

So, to everyone else out there....Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Booming Baritone Boy

The general noise that children make never really bothers me. I've gotten to a point where I tune most of it out, whether it is from my own children or others. The chattering, squeals, laughter, etc. is just part of the soundtrack of my life right now.

However, my son has no volume control. Everything is LOUD. And not just occasionally loud, but constantly at a level that probably doesn't register on any measurable scale. It is like he is constantly screaming at the top of his lungs, but doesn't realize it. It's his normal volume. He has a voice that is deceivingly deep for his 2 1/2 years of age and so half the time our house is BOOMING about EVERYTHING. His conversations with himself, with his sister, with his toys and stuffed animals. It is a constant, non-stop, running monologue that lasts every waking hour of every single day.

Lately, this has just about sent me over the edge. It started out as an occasional thing, but over the past month or so it has become his norm and nothing we say or do changes that. He's not doing it to be bad, disobedient, or annoying. When I finally snap, usually once a day, and tell him to stop he rarely realizes what he is doing. (Other times, the little demon that he is, he fully realizes it and does it solely for a reaction; this I realize). Our downstairs, where we spend most of the day, is all ceramic tile and as a result makes him sound even louder and harder on the ears than he probably really is.

Honestly, I'm about ready to start wearing earplugs, tune them out, and just hope they are able to get through the day without hurting themselves or each other. Any thoughts? Do you think this is something he will outgrow or is he destined to be one of those kids who can be heard in the next zip code?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Time

Our daughter on Christmas morning playing with her ballerina magnets.

Our son getting one of his presents from Santa from under the tree.

My husband getting our son's shoes on the Sunday before Christmas.
Our Christmas was fantastic. We attended church services Christmas Eve. My parents, grandmother, brother, and his girlfriend joined our family at our church. Afterwards we went out for our traditional Christmas Eve Dinner: In and Out Burger.
Christmas morning was a bit strange in that both kids slept in. On any given day the kids are up by 7:30 am at the very latest. Our son slept in until 8:15 and I had to actually wake our daughter up at 9 am so we could get the show on the road. The kids were uber excited and were able to play a bit with their gifts before we had to get ready to head up to my parents.
It was mass chaos up there with six kids buried in a mass of wrapping paper and boxes. All were pleased with their gifts and once the initial excitement wore off a bit the kids actually played really well the rest of the day. There were sixteen of us this year, a few less than usual but a good time was had by all.
When we arrived back home in the early evening I spent a couple hours picking up wrapping paper, boxes, finding homes for all the new toys, and most importantly assembling the toys that needed it, and of course then playing with assembled toys.
The only negative was that our son woke up once again pretty sick. He has steadily been sick on and off for the past few months now and it's getting wearing. So, tomorrow and the rest of the weekend we will lay low, stay home, and spend the time enjoying each other's company and all the new Christmas gifts.
How was your Christmas? What is your plan for the rest of the weekend?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

The decorations have been up for weeks along with the tree. The stockings are hung and filled with surprises for the kids on Christmas morning. Presents are wrapped and those not from Santa are set under the tree. It's finally relatively "cold" here so it feels a bit more like Christmas. Cookies have been made, frosted, and decorated and Christmas outfits have been purchased, washed, and ironed.

Everything is ready. I love the weeks leading up to Christmas. They are filled with purposeful preparation and eager anticipation. I love going to church Christmas Eve and singing the hymns I've sang since childhood. I love the traditions that have carried over from my childhood, mixed with the new traditions my husband and I have started with our children. I go to bed Christmas Eve with the same excitement as my children, eager for what Christmas morning will bring.

I love coming down the stairs bright and early and watching as the eyes of my children go wide with surprise and rush to their gifts to see what Santa brought the night before. I love eating freshly baked pastries for breakfast, a treat that only occurs once or twice a year.

I love sitting in our pajamas as the kids play with their new toys and then we gradually end up getting dressed and head over to my parent's Tucson home where we do it all over again and then feast on a huge meal.

So, here's wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Legal Code

I'm a big believer of our civil rights as American citizens. I believe the fewer laws the better and I get a bit touchy when I feel laws are being made that infringe upon the rights I believe we as citizens are entitled to.

Lately, I have been forced to rethink my stance on that a bit. I now think that there should be a law against being an asshole. There are just too many walking amongst us.

Friday, December 18, 2009

When the Effort Doesn't Yield the Desired Results

As a child my parents were militant about brushing and flossing our teeth. We had to Plax and Act before and after every brushing. It was a built in routine.

My husband on the other hand was praised if he could remember to brush his teeth at least every other day. His first roll of floss was purchased after we were married.

I have quite a few cavities. He has none. (We both, thankfully, have straight --his thanks to braces-- and white teeth).

It seems like every time we go to the dentist I leave needing, at minimum, another filling and he leaves cavity free. Don't get me wrong, I am glad for him, but it just seems like if anyone should be getting the cavities it should be him.

I went to the dentist this past September for a teeth cleaning. I left having to set up appointments for three fillings, two crowns, and as of earlier this week one root canal. My husband visited the dentist yesterday and once again, no cavities.

My mother says that because she was so ill and hospitalized during her pregnancy with me that the doctors told her there may be problems with the development of my teeth (enamel not fully formed, "soft" teeth...whatever that means). While I don't doubt she was told that I have no first hand knowledge of its medical accuracy.

I still brush and floss every single day. Once in the morning and once in the evening. While my husband brushes every single morning, he forgets at night and I can't remember the last time I saw him floss. A few years ago???? So, why oh why am I racking up the dental bills?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Harshest Critic

There are a lot of things that my kids do that simply drive me nuts. Truthfully, I could make a pretty long list of things that annoy me on a daily basis (I could equally compose a list of great attributes and wonderful qualities that impress me on a daily basis as well, in all fairness). For example, they interrupt when I am on the phone, they pick on each other just to get a reaction, they jump off furniture after being told not to, they sneak the dog in the house when I prefer to keep her outside....the list goes on. But seriously, all it takes is for one of them to come over and give me a hug or want to snuggle on the couch or tell me that they love me and everything else that was/is bothersome disappears. It can't compare to their outpouring of emotion.

That's the great thing about kids. They can be hellions one minute and sweet as can be the next. The good moments far outweigh the bad and those good moments are exponentially more positive than the bad moments are negative. They just are, even on the worst day.

Kids are so much work and there are some days where I think I am going to lose my mind. However, there are so many good days, good moments that absolutely dominate those bad moments and bad days. It makes everything worth it.

Being a mom is the single most important job I will ever have and I want to make sure I do it right. There are plenty of instances that make me question whether or not I am doing it right or well enough. However, if I am honest there are so many more moments that should be an affirmation that what I am doing is right and best for them. I just need to pay more attention to those. I would venture to say that most moms are hard on themselves and question their parenting. I would also say that a lot of moms are doing a great job raising great kids.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Medical Expenses and Tax Deductions....All the Fun Stuff

When we set up our Flexible Spending Account this year with our health insurance we put aside an average of the medical expenses we have had for the past few years. In each of the past three years I have either had a child or our son has been hospitalized, thus increasing our expenses. While I knew we wouldn't be having a child this year I did figure on our son being hospitalized for more than a day or two just in case.

Fast forward to December 15, 2009. While our son was kept over night they never actually admitted him which meant we got away with just a co-pay instead of the hospital bills. I've been healthier this year as has the rest of the family. All of this is great news, except now we have more than half of the money we set aside currently unspent.

Since I predicted some of this I started having some dental work done that I've put off for the past year (I need crown on two teeth). Two months ago I had the first crown done. The crown prep was fine, the temporary was incredibly comfortable and I've had no problems with the permanent crown. Then two weeks ago I had the crown prep done for the second crown. It was a little achy at first, which I expected but then the pain wouldn't go away. Add to that the fact I can't chew AT ALL on that entire side of my mouth and now I'm a bit concerned. I kept telling myself to give it a couple more days to see, but it's at the point where it throbs and aches so badly that it's keeping me up at night, the pain has radiated into my jaw and behind my ear and is causing (I think) horrible headaches.

So, I've told myself that I HAVE to call today. I have to have it looked at. (I won't get my permanent crown until 12/28). Yet, here I sit hesitating. I think I dread the possibility of a root canal. The only consolation is I have plenty of money left in our FSA account to pay for it, something that wouldn't have been likely a year ago.

I bet December is a big month for dentists and maybe optometrists too. People having dental work they've put off done or getting contacts and eye glasses just to meet the end of year deadline for tax deductible expenses. While that's usually not the case for us, this year it seems to be, in part due to the overestimation of our medical expenses and the surplus of cash we have to spend on medical treatment/supplies.

How about you? Do you make the rounds with your doctors in December?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What I Love About Christmas

Days spent in pajamas cuddling on the couch.
Christmas music.
Christmas tree and lights.
Carefully picking out presents.
Wrapping presents.
Watching the look of joy and pleasure and surprise on the faces of my children as they open presents on Christmas morning.
Baking and decorating cookies.
The smell of a fire to keep warm.
Apple cider.
Christmas hymns sung in church by candlelight.
The real meaning of Christmas.
I love Christmas time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Little Boys

There was a time in college, after our apartment was broken into, when I strongly contemplated purchasing a gun. I even went to a couple of shops, asked a bunch of questions, took a gun safety course, fired off a few rounds, and then ultimately decided against it. Honestly, I'm just not really a fan. My husband owns a gun, which is hidden safely away and hasn't been used in years. I don't have a problem with other people having guns, I just don't want one. I'm not anti-gun, but I am certainly not a "cling to my gun" type of gal.

As such, our daughter was not allowed to play with toys guns and until she was almost four she thought the huge super soaker at my parents house was a saxophone. When our son was born the same "rule" extended. We didn't buy him toy guns either. However, it was like a natural attraction. He saw his older cousin using a play gun months ago and the light went on. All of a sudden this big wooden "stick" he'd been lugging around had a purpose: to shoot. Pretty soon, everything was a gun: rocks, sticks, wooden spoons.

Honestly, I was a little torn. I don't really like the idea of shooting people as a game (and he now knows to shoot things, not people), but on the other hand I am a big believer in letting boys do what comes naturally to them. I don't want to squash any of that innate behavior. So a few months ago my husband bought him a toy gun that makes all sorts of electronic noises. He loved it for a few weeks, but ultimately liked playing with his swords more. The toy gun has been in the closet for about a month now and I figured the obsession had died down.

I was wrong. Today I took him to an outdoor sporting goods store where there were racks and racks of guns on the wall. I thought the boy was going to lose his mind. "Mommy, guns! I need a gun. Pleeeeaaaaasssssseeeeee!!!!" Then pointing at every single gun, "Mommy, look at that one. Mommy over here, look at that one." Honestly, it was a little embarrassing although the people in there seemed ready to sign him up for a lifetime membership to the NRA and Nascar tickets as a signing bonus.

He spent close to an hour looking at all the guns, knives, and arrows. When I told him that he could not have a gun, he moved onto the knives, which I also told him he couldn't have, then to the arrows, which also were a negative. He settled for a sucker. It's nice to know that my gun loving, knife craving, arrow envying boy can still be bribed with a watermelon push pop.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All I Want For Christmas Is A..........Pap Smear?

I was watching TV last night and one of the commercials was a public service announcement from CBS where a man sits on a couch encouraging the viewing men to get their loved ones a pap smear for Christmas. Has anyone else seen this? I thought, for sure, it had to be some type of joke. Apparently, it's not. They run one for Christmas and Hanukkah. The Hanukkah one concludes with, "Give her a gift that will light up her Menorah." I'm not Jewish but I'm thinking it's going to take more than that to light my Menorah. The Christmas one ends with "Give her a gift even Santa can't deliver."

I don't know. I love my ob-gyn, so I may be a bit more receptive than most if I were to be given this. However, in all seriousness, if my husband handed me an appointment card for a pap smear I'd be calling the closest marriage counselor.

Am I alone in thinking these commercials are a bit creepy?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Good Tidings are No More

One of the things I love most about the Christmas season is the seemingly sudden uplifting of spirits. People seem to want to treat others nicely -- keeping with the spirit of the holiday season and all. At least that has been my general experience in the past. This year has been different. There seems to be a permeating rudeness and a lot of that previously displayed good cheer has been replaced with short tempers, confrontational demeanor's, and just a general lack of common courtesy or manners. And it bothers me. It's discouraging. I like the friendly, comfortable tone that conversations often take among strangers when there is a shared joy or sense of purpose. There's something humanizing about it.

I'm the first to admit that I will defend myself when challenged, will often respond when confronted. But I don't go looking for conflict and often, even with presented with one, I'll try to find a way out (I supposed I've tempered with age). What I don't take kindly to is when my children have been wronged. The protector in me comes out and I am unapologetically defensive.

This past week has been really upsetting to me in that there have been a couple incidents I've either been directly involved in or witnessed that have floored me. Just the sheer rudeness has been stunning. I've said for a long time now that unfortunately there are not laws against being an asshole and some people seem to take great pleasure in that.

Saturday night we took our kids to a local outdoor mall to see "snow" fall. We got there early and were sitting by a fire. These two boys (my guess is 7-9 years of age) were running all over the place, playing in the fire, running into people. In our opinions, a bit out of control. The grandmother and father stood off in a corner, engrossed in conversation, not paying one iota of attention to what these boys were doing. My husband and a couple other people made comments about the lack of supervision and general poor behavior.

My daughter and I got up to walk toward where the snow would be falling and as we were walking these boys came running, full-barrelled down the sidewalk. The bigger one slammed right into our daughter, sending her flying and hitting the ground hard. He too went flying to the floor, but honestly I wasn't really concerned about him. He was two to three times our daughter's size. Our daughter was hysterical, I ran over immediately, and the grandmother and father still hadn't a clue. When she finally realized something was wrong she came over and started yelling at me about her grandson being on the floor. Her exact words were, "What happened? What did she do to him?" I'm sorry, but any moron who looked at the two kids next to each other could clearly tell who stood the greater chance of taking the other one out.

My response was, "What happened was your grandchildren were running around out of control without any supervision." Probably not the best response, but I was so angry and so stunned that I said the first thing that came to mind. This set off a verbal back and forth with my point being that it is customary when a child hurts another child that that parent or grandchild apologize and check to make sure the injured kid is okay. Real rudely and completely insincere she screams, "Well, I'm just soooooooooooo soooooooorrrrrrrryyyyyyyyy. Happy now?" It was unbelievable. She then started yelling at my husband about how I have no right to talk to her like that and he better "control" his wife.

Long story short, we walked away while she stood there on the sidewalk like a crazy woman screaming after us. The mother then came out and while we couldn't hear what was being said the grandmother was clearly filling her in. As a mother, I would think at that point that she would want to find out what happened. Nope, not a word. They had to pass where we were standing so we stood there and as the walked by the grandmother turns to the two boys and says, "Now." Both boys turn, stick out their tongues, and point over at me. What a great lesson to teach. Obviously, as an adult I did nothing. Acted like I didn't even see it.

Talking with my husband later we were both just incredulous. Our kids have been run into before and our kids have run into others. The first thing those other parents or we as parents have done is apologize and make sure the other kid is okay. Even in this case, while the kids were out of control, the actual contact was an accident. The boys obviously didn't mean to hurt our daughter. Had the grandmother come over and said, "Oh my gosh. What happened? Is she okay?" it would have been a completely different outcome.

I suppose I am just so flabbergasted at all the anger and so much of it misplaced. I understand times are trying. We have our own set of circumstances and frustrations but we do our best to not let it seep into other aspects of our lives. The thing that makes me most mad is in the span of a week our children have been exposed to some horribly ugly behavior and it was completely out of our control as parents. Even in this most recent episode while we were walking away the lady was yelling out horrible things that my daughter then repeated and asked about later. It was clearly upsetting to her.

I take my job to protect my kids very seriously, as does my husband. We limit their exposure to people, experiences, etc that we perceive to be damaging or questionable. How are we supposed to protect them when without any warning people behave like assholes? Even in trying to just walk away from these situations we can't control what others will say or do in the meantime.

I am just truly discouraged and sad that this is what our world has come to. I realize it's just probably been a bad week, but at the risk of sounding old, I miss the good ol' days where people didn't accost you in parking lots or scream at you for being concerned for your child. What happened to the days when people treated each other with kindness? I miss those days. I guess that's what I want for Christmas.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Venus and Mars Part II

The difference between girls and boys? Decorating the Christmas tree I gave each child a handful of tinsel and showed them both how to put it on. My daughter carefully and diligently pulls single strand by single strand out of her handful and carefully applies each evenly to the tree. My son takes two handfuls, throws it on the tree, stands back with his hands on his hips, admiring his work and says, "Perfect."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Venus and Mars

Some of the behaviors I love most about my son are also some of the same things that drive me crazy. He is such a free spirit and while I admire the independence the stubborn streak and at times just outward defiance is frustrating and embarrassing.

He is one of the sweetest, most sensitive and affectionate little boys. He tells me fifty times a day how much he loves me. If I leave the room, when I come back he tells me how much he missed me. He's full of hugs and kisses and he's like this way with his sister, his father, his grandparents, and his "favorite" cousin. I love this about him and can't get enough.

So, it's amazing how this same little boy can be filled with such a mischievous streak (and that's putting it nicely). It's not that he's mean-spirited at all. He just pushes the envelop as far as he can and truthfully consequences mean nothing to him. It's almost as if he weighs the options in his head before he does it and then does it anyway. I swear he's thinking, "I know if I hit my sister and then run away from my mom I am going to get in trouble, but it's worth it to know I upset my sister and my mom." Or, "I know my mom is going to be upset if I run away and hide from her in the store, but it's funny to see her panic thinking she lost me, so I'm going to do it anyway." The thing is that a lot of the behavior is not discipline-worthy, just frustrating. Example: trying on shoes and trying to make sure they fit and instead he puts the shoebox on his head and takes off dancing down the aisle saying, "The box is my hat."

I love that he's funny and can make anyone laugh and I love that he knows that he is funny. He performs for the reaction. But at the same time I am graying by the minute. He's a wonderful child and in truth, I'd take ten more just like him but he is such a boy and I mean that in the best possible way. I love having a daughter and I love having a son. I love them the same amount, but it's a different relationship with each. There are things that are specific to them that need nurturing and attention and boys and girls are just, by nature, so incredibly and wonderfully different. Nothing points that out more clearly than healthy, hyper little boys.

I want my son to be kind, compassionate, sensitive, caring and attentive. Those are qualities that I feel will one day make him a great husband and father. But I also want my son to be manly, rugged, rough, independent, and self-reliant. There's a tendency in our society to squash some of that natural beauty that is inherent in boys. You see it in school systems especially. They, at times, try to make boys into girls ( I mean that in a behavioral sense in that girls statistically have a longer attention span, are not as physical, etc.). So, I try to walk a fine line between disciplining him for inappropriate behavior but also letting him bask in his natural maleness (as I refer to it and as my husband mocks me for). Sometimes I get it wrong and let him bask when he should be disciplined and vice versa, but it's a learning process.

What were some of your children's most frustrating qualities or behaviors that also happened to be some of their most admirable?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tis the Season

The Christmas season or maybe the stress of the economy seems to be bringing out the worst in people. Today, leaving a store with both my children, we were in the car about to pull through the parking space to exit the parking lot. As I was pulling forward a big work truck came in an attempt to pull into the space I was pulling forward through. I stopped, expecting him to back up since I was already halfway through the space. He didn't but instead kept coming at me, so I put my car into reverse and started backing up. I raised my hands with my palms upward in a gesture like, "What the heck?"

The man jumped out of his car, ran up to mine screaming, "Are you serious? Are you seriously going to get mad at me for trying to park?" I said, "Well, I was halfway through that space but whatever, it's not a big deal, so forget it."

He FREAKED. I don't know if he forgot his meds, escaped from the mental institution or what but he was screaming, "No, I will not forget it. F*&$ you, b&%ch. You can go to hell. F*%#! you" over and over again. I was so stunned, not to mention a little frightened. I pulled away but had to pass where his car was parked. I slowed down to write down his license plate number and the name of the company on the truck. While stopped a couple walked over to me who had witnessed the altercation encouraging me to not let it ruin my day, he was a jerk, they couldn't believe he did that, etc. I thanked them and was waiting to pull out of the parking lot.

The guy came back out of nowhere, smacked my car with his palm and screamed, "Can I help you?" I told him that if he said or did one more thing I was calling the police. He put his hand on my partially rolled down window and started screaming in my face how I was a b&*$# and to go f&*# myself.

I pulled out as quickly and safely as I could and called the police who came shortly thereafter. He had already left. I filed a report, but ultimately there isn't much they can do. There is no damage to my car or to me, thankfully and while he crossed the line it would be hard to prosecute.

My kids were scared and my daughter kept saying, "That is a bad man to call you that bad word. You are not a b*&$%, you are my nice mommy." I was so stunned I couldn't even come up with a response and really with kids in the car I didn't want to say anything to provoke him or show me in a negative light. The larger question is what is wrong with him to freak out over something so minor. While I was aggravated with him, it would have never occurred to me to jump out of my car and chase him down twice and I was the one in the right.

After the adrenaline wore off it scared me a bit to know that there are people out there, that look normal who are so easily triggered over something that happens tons of times a day in parking lots all over the world.

He mentioned something to me about calling the number on his truck, which led me to believe that he was the owner of the company. When I got home I did a little searching and discovered that he is in fact the owner, so there's no real recourse I can take there in terms of complaining about him. Oh well. Ultimately, I am just glad that he wasn't armed because he'd be the guy to open fire over something like this. I am rather bummed that my 4 and 2 year olds learned a new word that they've repeated quite a few times telling my mom, grandma, husband, anyone who will listen, "This very bad man told mommy she was a b*&$%."

So, how about you? Any altercations lately?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Elf on the Shelf

All holidays are pretty big in our house. We make a big deal so that the kids enjoy it and really feel like they are in the spirit of each holiday. As such, like most, we have encouraged their belief in Santa Claus (I realize some don't because they think it's tantamount to lying to their kids, but whatever...we do). Both accepted this pretty easily because hey, what's the complaint when some fat, jolly dude is going to bring you presents?

About a week ago I started talking to my daughter about Elf on the Shelf. The general idea is that one of Santa's helpers, the elf, sits on your shelf in the weeks leading up to Christmas, watching and then reporting back to Santa about whether your behavior has been good or bad. That night, the diligent parents, hide the elf in a new location for the kids to find the next morning and the myth continues. I thought this might be something the kids would really get excited about.

My daughter's first words were, "It's a stuffed elf right?"
Me: Right
Daughter: So, it can't talk.
Me: Well, it magically comes alive at night and can talk to Santa.
Daughter: But if it's a stuffed animal it can't talk. It can't just come alive. It's pretend.
Me: Uh, well this is a special, magical, elf...yada yada yada

Pretty soon I had concocted this new entire story about the elf. All the while my daughter sat there looking at me like I had lost my marbles. She finally interrupted me and said, 'Yeah, I don't think so, mom." Apparently, this elf is just a bit too far fetched for her. She's good to go on Santa, though.