Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Welcome 2014 and Welcome 35.

Birthday Lunch at the Schnitzlebank. 

Gifts that only a mother would love (and I really do): A half-empty hand sanitizer bottle that was wrapped in The Herald. A one dollar bill in an envelope. A paper of scribbles - Jack says it spells Happy Birthday. 

Justin says, "All right kids. Let's all go around the table and wish mom a Happy Birthday and say something nice about her. I'll go first. I love Mommy because she takes such good care of you guys, keeps our house so nice and does my laundry."

Well, that was nice to hear. I like this. Let's keep going.

Cameron says, "I just like having a mom."

My god, this kid is just grateful to have any mother at all. She's not hard to please.

Hadley says, "I like you because you buy me stuff. I don't have any money so I need you."

Ok. Valid point. Next?

Jack says, "I don't like you."

Shit. I should've just let him order the chocolate cake.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Rescue.

I crushed him. I  broke his tiny hero heart. I went too far. I yelled too loudly. I yelled one too many times. My patience was pushed to its breaking point and I broke him. His eyes spilled with tears and his head hung defeated. 

Jack is energy. Jack is creativity. Jack is motion. Jack is mischief. Jack is frustration. Jack is tears. Jack is love. Jack is my three year old son. All of that energy, creativity, motion, frustration, tears, mischief and love can be a lot to ingest, harness and comprehend on a daily basis. 

Jack is passion. His passion being emergency vehicles. He tells everyone. Everyday. Me, his dad, his sisters, his babysitter, the grocery clerk, his grandparents, the neighbors. He never misses an opportunity to tell someone "I love 'mergency vehicles."  And love, he does. He zooms his fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars all over his imaginary world to save the day. Jack is a tiny hero. His days are filled near tragedy and rescue. There is always a rescue. The rescue is the greatest part. 

Our weekday mornings are busy. Get up, get dressed, brush your teeth, do your hair, eat your breakfast and get in the van. In order for me to arrive at work on time, we need to be on the road by 7:30am. First we drop-off at school, then the babysitter. At my house, there is a weekday morning no nonsense policy. My toddler is all-nonsense.

On this particular morning, Jack ran to the back of the mini-van and refused to get in his car seat because he was busy clicking the overhead lights on and off. Yes, if I were to take a moment to appreciate how precious he was - how curious and energetic - I might have been filled with love and gratitude. But there was no time for me to marvel at his curiosity, unless I wanted my girls to be truant delinquents and I, unemployed.  He would not get in his seat. He could not be reasoned with, pleaded with or bribed. It wasn't happening. The minutes ticked by. I finally picked him up and forced him down into his car seat. He would scream all the way to school while Hadley shouted at me to help her review her time tables. 

I picked Jack up at the sitter at 3:15pm. He greeted me with a hug. This was the highlight of our day together. The rest would go downhill.

The girls homework was interrupted time and time again by Jack throwing fits, hitting, swiping, crying and being a grumpy toddler. He is usually manageable during homework time, but on this terrible horrible no good very bad day, he was pushing at me hard. Nothing seemed to satisfy. Nothing seemed to work. I felt like my toddler had his very own form of colic.

The afternoon turned into a rotten evening. Kids fighting, dinner burning, laundry overflowing and my head pounding.

I wanted nothing more than to go to bed, but in order to end the day and start fresh again tomorrow, I'd first have to get through bath time, and Jack was not going to take it easy on me. After repeatedly dunking his sister underwater and being scolded,  he decided to then take cups full of water and throw them full force over the tub. Water was everywhere. I was soaked. I was pissed and I let him have it. I screamed. I screamed LOUDLY. I scared him. I scared myself.

He cried but this cry was different. There are bratty cries, tired cries, hurt cries, and manipulative cries but this cry was none of those. I had hurt his tiny hero feelings. He hung his head, and whimpered, "I don't love 'mergency vehicles anymore."

And then my heart broke - into a million tiny pieces. I had never felt like more of a monster. In Jack's story -  in that moment -  I was the villain. 

I scooped him up from his bath. Got him dressed. Read him books and snuggled with him in bed. I then told him that I was sorry that I yelled so loud. I told him that I was sorry that I scared him. I then asked him what I was scared to find out the answer to.

"Jack..." I began. "Do you still love emergency vehicles?" 

I held my breath waiting for him to answer. 

He first laughed and then said, "I love 'mergency vehicles. I love the ambulance, the police car and the fire truck. Will we see a fire truck tomorrow?"

I'd been given a pass. His spirit was still in tact. I had been given another chance. A chance to do better - be better. I would have to mine more patience out of my hurried heart. My son needed it and for him, of course, I would find it.  

Jack is forgiveness. Jack is a teacher. Jack knows and now I know, there is always a rescue. The rescue is the greatest part. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Family Fitness: A Tale of Two Sisters.

"Amy! Look I'm doing it! I'm doing it!
Snap the damn picture! Snap the picture!"
My sister is an exercise lunatic. She's been that way her entire life, and if my memory as an 18 month-old child serves me correctly,  I am 100% accurate in this assessment.  When my mom brought my new baby sister home from the hospital, she promptly began bicep curling her bottle and she hasn't stopped curling, twisting or lifting since. 

She was always flipping outside in the yard, while I was inside eating Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips and waiting for Growing Pains to start. Sure, I would occasionally join her in her outdoor antics, but I'd stop as soon as I felt remotely uncomfortable. Sweat, insects, dirt - yeah, all of those things made me uncomfortable. So, I'd turn a few cartwheels and head on in for a weekly dose of Kirk Cameron and his shenanigans as Michael Aaron Seaver. Yes I know his First, Middle and Last Name - I had his posters all over my room. Kirk Cameron was dreamy. 

In high school, my sister dove, cheered, ran and swam. I gave it all a whirl, but eventually decided that my time would be better spent cruising the whip and trying to illegally buy cigarettes. 

In college, get this- she worked out. What the hell was that about? Physically speaking, isn't the whole point of college to put on a few beer and pizza pounds? Well, not my sister - this girl regularly attended the IU's SRSC and of course, majored in Exercise Science. I majored in Journalism, and I certainly did not work out, but I could tell you when 25 cent beer night was going down at the Bluebird.

I visited IU's SRSC just once. Even its acronym was intimidating. SRSC?  What did that even mean? I think it roughly translates into: Fuck exercise, it sucks.  

Whatever, it meant, I didn't fit in. In order to attend, you had to be in really great shape, wear full make-up and flaunt super cute workout clothes. I wasn't in great shape - I was hungover and flaunting my too-tight poly-blend high school gym shorts. The SRSC made me about as uncomfortable as insects and dirt, so I'd head back to the dorm for some candy and 90210. Luke Perry was dreamy. 

My sister's honeymoon photos featured her and her husband mountain climbing, kayaking, and bike riding. On my honeymoon, Justin and I rented a pontoon boat and took it out about 50 feet before we decided that it required way too much effort and returned it. We are clearly the perfect couple as we were in total agreement that peddling that damn boat in the ocean was ridiculous when there was a minibar to play in. Her pictures were filled with adventure. My pictures were filled with food from the buffet.

I avoided all sorts of working out, until I had children and realized that if I didn't whip myself back into shape after the babies, I'd be all sorts of morbidly fat for life. So begrudgingly, I took up the elliptical and Jillian Michael to keep myself in just enough shape as to not totally disgust myself.

So, when Amy, my dear sister, invited me to her TRX class, I said I'd go along mainly because there was nothing good on TV.

I wasn't entirely sure what TRX was and her description of stretchy bands was a little misleading, or more likely, I wasn't paying attention. I should have Googled it. I walked into some S&M looking chamber with ropes hanging from the ceiling. I'm pretty sure I read about things like this in 50 Shade of Gray. What the hell was going to go on in here? Leave it to Amy to find the most horrible form of exercise on the planet and enjoy it. 

Shit. Now what? All these weirdo exercise people looked excited to get started. I was terrified - pretty sure I was about to be bound and gagged and not in a sexy Christian Grey type way but more in a move my body in a painful, Biggest Loser type way. 

Then it began. We pulled the bands with our biceps, our triceps, our quadriceps and all of the other important 'ceps. It wasn't so terribly bad, 'cep when it came time for the ab work.

My sister knew I was in trouble. She looked at me in a panic and said, "Abbie, just don't do it. Really - just don't do it."

What in the world? I'd made it this far. What was she scared of? That I'd fart?

This particular maneuver was, indeed, beyond my capabilities as it involved holding myself in plank position with my feet in the bands and then moving my feet inwards toward my head. Sound complicated? Well it was. I felt like a fat sausage on a rope.

What made me feel better was that my sister couldn't do it either but only because she couldn't stop laughing at me. This is why it is so much more comfortable to eat chips and watch sitcoms - you're the one laughing and potato chips are delicious.

After class, I returned home and bicep curled my own bottle - a wine bottle. Girls gotta work her 'ceps.  Would've been nice if Amy could have joined me for a glass, but that lunatic was out running or cartwheeling around her neighborhood. I would've joined her but Grey's Anatomy was on and Patrick Dempsey, well, he's McDreamy. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Finger On The Bus Goes Up & Down.

Good luck, moms. Very soon we will be off to the races. And don't kid yourself — it is a fucking race.  From August until May, you better have your wits about you or you will either lose your damn mind, start beating your children or become an alcoholic.

Here it comes. The permission slips, the homework, the lunches, the special projects, the class parties, the school programs. With joy and fear in my heart, I humbly approach the school year and pray to God that I make it until Fall Break, before I start forgetting to pack lunches, losing backpacks and killing class pets. 

This year, though, I’ve decided to make it a little easier on myself.  

Last school year, I would get off work around 2:45 pm and race to pick up my kids by 3. I was always late and when I finally arrived, they weren't exactly happy to see me but rather riled up and ready to go at me for my tardiness. 

"You're always the last one to pick us up!"

"Why are you so late?"

"Why do we have to wait so long?"

What they were really saying is…..

"Why do you suck so bad? A better mom would be on time to pick up her kids."

I've heard it said (maybe on Grey's Anatomy or some other equally compelling prime time drama) that "If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation."  Well, Amen. 

I'm sick of listening to it. I know I'm late, but I've heard that the school bus is always on time. So I'm making good on my threat. I'm throwing those girls on the bus. Dun. Dun. Dun.

Once upon a time, back before I knew better, I vowed that I'd never put my children on a school bus. Why? Because on Southwest Dubois County School Corporation's Bus Number 2, I didn’t just get a ride home, I got an “education.”

“Hey Kid!”

That kid, yeah, that would be me —  6 years old, carrying a Pound Puppy backpack complete with matching lunch box.

“Kid! Do you know which finger is the bad finger?”  Do you know how to use it?”

I didn’t know there was a bad finger. If there was a bad finger, was there also a good finger? This was thoroughly confusing. Was this a “This little piggy went to market type thing?”  Did I also have a finger that ate roast beef and went "wee wee wee" all the way home?

“Hey Kid!"

Yeah, again, that kid was me.  

“Kid! You don’t believe in Santa do you? HA! Kid — You. Are. An. Idiot!"

Idiot? Huh? I wasn’t even sure I’d heard that word before - so you can imagine my surprise when F-bombs started flying around the bus come spring.

Santa? My parent’s couldn’t be Santa, how could they fit the presents down the chimney?

I was six, confused and just flat freaked out by the bus and its giant acne-ridden teenage riders.

Seeing that the girls are now 6 and 8, I've deemed them old enough to learn about F-bombs, and Santa. It's time they grew up. They can learn the down and dirty facts of life on the school bus just like their good old mom did back in the day while they go riding "wee wee wee" all the way home.

And if they don't like it, well, when they get home...I'm sure they'll give me the finger. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back to School

Yesterday I set out to do some back to school shopping with just one thing on my list:  A toaster. 

During the proceeding school year, I would stand at the counter cursing my toaster for not toasting fast enough and then curse myself for having a toaster with space for just two slices.

When I'm trying to get all of us to school by 8am, every minute counts and with each of my girls eating two waffles each - my poor old toaster was just not getting it done. 

Every morning I would vow to buy a faster toaster that would hold 4 frozen waffles - yet each day, week, and month passed with the same old toaster on the counter. 

So yesterday, I finally made it happen. I bought myself a new toaster - one that is super speedy and holds 4 slices. Yes. Yes. All of my dreams are coming true.

I then had this coversation with Justin:

ME: I finally bought a new toaster. I'm so excited - it really will save time in the morning.

JUSTIN: Abbie, can you imagine if you lived in a time where you had to make breakfast from scratch each morning?

ME: Why would I want to imagine that?

JUSTIN: I'm just saying that having to wait for your old toaster to make the waffles was not exactly a hardship. You could be waking up, collecting eggs, and grinding wheat to make breakfast for us.

ME: Well, back then - whenever it was that people did that - it wasn't exactly a hard thing to do.

JUSTIN: Why was that?

ME: Well, I think it'd be pretty easy to get up at dawn to make breakfast if you weren't up all night drinking wine and catching up on The Real Housewives.

JUSTIN: You. Are. Incredible.

ME: Thank you.

JUSTIN: I'm not sure I was complimenting you.

ME: You seem grouchy? Did you not eat breakfast? Maybe you could use a waffle? I can make you one right up - In fact, I can make 4  and this little company called Eggo has already done all the wheat grinding for me. I think that's pretty incredible. 

JUSTIN: Okay, I'm done.

I'm just getting started! 

This school year is going to be the best yet. This new toaster symbolizes a fresh start. This is the year I make it look easy. 

This is my favorite part of the school year - the very beginning - where optimism lives. 

Good lucks moms! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Uh-Oh. Mom Cussed.

"Hadley. THAT'S IT! Quit being an asshole."

Whoa. Shock. Silence.

Had I just said that? Did I really just call my 8-year-old an asshole? Sure, I've referred to her as an asshole behind her back, but had I really just said it out loud?

I must have. Everyone in the van was now quiet.

Uh-Oh. Mom cussed. She means business.

Shit. This was a new low. I felt terrible. Now I felt like the asshole. I couldn't believe I just called her that. What kind of a mother says that?

Was it justifiable? Probably not. Yet this is how it happened.

The hour was past lunch and though the children had been fed, I had not fed myself so I suppose low blood sugar could have been a contributing factor.

The weather was 100 degrees; however, with the humidity, we were near the throes of hell.

The location was the mini-van. Enough said.

Hadley had invented a game to play with her sister that went something like this: Hadley made up math problems that were beyond Cameron's comprehension and then awarded herself points when Cameron was unable to solve them.

The hunger, the heat and cruel game was a recipe that brought my blood to a boil.

Though she had been warned to stop, though she had been threatened, Hadley kept right on going with her game.

"Cameron, what's 20 plus 10?"

"Um, 18?"

"No! It's 30, which means I have 30 points and you have zero."

Cameron wisely quit the game, and Hadley began to tease her. 

I'd had it. That was enough. I let it fly.

"Hadley. THAT'S IT. Quit being an asshole."

Whoa. Shock. Silence.

Damn, now what? Now, I'd really done it. Now all of my kids were probably going to start calling each other assholes - or worse, other people's kids assholes. Perfect.

For a good few minutes, no one spoke. This is unheard of in my mini-van. It is quite possible I will now curse at them every 3 minutes in order to keep the peace.

Finally, I had to say something.

"Hadley, I'm sorry," I told her. "I got frustrated and I said something that wasn't very nice. What you were doing to your sister was wrong, but I was wrong too and I'm sorry."

"It's OK mom." Hadley said. "I'm sorry too. I was being mean."

Wow. What a mature response. I was proud of her apology and confession, though I was still ashamed of myself.

A few minutes passed and then there was this:

"Hey Cam! Let's play! What's 15 plus 12?"

 I'm pretty sure that answer equals asshole.


Dear Hadley,

There will come a time when you read this post and when you do, I hope you find this to be true...

You were, indeed, being an asshole  - but more importantly,  I loved you enough to call you out on it. 

 - Mom

PPS. Be nice to your sister. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sharking Her Pants

My poor kid's breath stunk. Like really stunk - like made my toes curl gagging stank-ass stunk. The putrid smell coupled with her nausea and sore throat brought forth a diagnosis that any seasoned mother could make on her own, yet I had to make a trip to the pediatrician's office for the official verdict: strep throat.

This marks this kid's 5th bout of the strep bug this school year, the last one being just 4 weeks ago. So, she is now a strep throat pro. While she used to be incredibly freaked out by the back-of-the-throat swab, she now doesn't even put down her iPod while they go at her with the giant q-tip.

Yet today, something threw her for a loop.

DR: Well child, I think we need a stronger antibiotic.

Child (whose name is being protected for the sake of potential adolescent humiliation): Uh huh - ok.

DR: You're going to have to be careful with this one. Do you know what a "Shart" is?

Um, did he just say that? 

Is "Shart" a term he learned in med school? Is a "Shart" recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics? Where did this guy go to med school? Did he even go to med school? Was he a real doctor? For god's sake, how was I going to explain a "Shart?" How would that conversation go?

Well, honey, a "Shart" is a fusion of the words shit and fart - you put them together and you have a "Shart." The doctor was basically telling you not to fart and shit your pants.

But I didn't need to worry. My daughter had this one handled.

Child: Yeah - a shark - it swims in the ocean. I saw one in Florida when we went to the aquarium. I got a real shark's tooth as a souvenir.

DR: No, that's not exactly it...

ME: It's ok - I'll explain it later in the car.

That wasn't good enough for Dr. Shart. 

DR: If you sneak out a fart, you might poop a little in your pants.

Well that did it.

Later, it took me 45 minutes of pleading to convince her to take the first dose of her antibiotic.

Child: Moooooooooommmmm! Nooooooooooo! I don't want to shark!

For god's sake, maybe the child thought actual sharks were going to come flying out of her ass.

ME: You probably won't have any sharking so just go ahead and take it. You need to get better.

Child: Nooooooooooo Mom - he said I'll shark in my pants.

And so it went for nearly an hour before she downed the shark-inducing antibiotics. One dose down the hatch - only thirty more to go.

It's been a few days now - a few looooong days, where three times a day, we have to have the shark conversation, and while there have been no incidents of sharks in her underpants, I'm fairly certain she'll never, again, want to visit the aquarium.

However, I've been thinking I'll mail Dr. Shart a present....her empty bottle of antibiotic with her souvenir shark tooth right inside.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Huffington Post Pick-Up

Well this is fun! The Huffington Post published my blog post entitled High Hopes on the front page of their Parent's section. You can read it here on The Kids Made Me Fat, or if you're feeling adventurous, you can wonder on over to the Post and check it out!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day.

The day after Hadley was born, there was a moment in the hospital where I allowed myself to imagine her growing older. 

The idea was unbearable, and I started to cry. Suddenly this 6lb baby girl seemed incredibly heavy and holding her was like holding the weight of world in my arms. 

I loved her. Really really loved her.

I loved her so much and I was instantly terrified. I was afraid. 

I feared for her and all of pain that she would inevitably feel -  the pain of name-calling, the pain of being picked last in gym, the pain of a broken heart, the pain of disappointment, and just all the pains of being human. 

I couldn't bear that she would feel any of it. I wanted nothing but joy for her - anything else seemed unacceptable.

Justin took a picture of that moment when I was holding my daughter and crying like a banshee.  When he showed it to me, I said it would never see the light of day - I looked hideous. Well, motherhood is the cure for vanity.

I recently came across that picture on our hard drive and, I wasn't horrified by my puffy face or my streaming tears but felt lucky to have that momemt captured on fim. That was the moment that my heart opened up to love her - my new daughter. That was the moment that she became a piece of me.

Happy Mother's Day. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

There Goes The Neighborhood

Justin and the children examining The Hole.
So, we're building a house. No, I mean we're not building it - can you imagine? Justin and I with hammers and 2x4s? We'd probably beat each other with both before we ever managed to assemble any sort of structure. We struggle to assemble a nightly meal. So I suppose a more accurate statement would be: We're having a house built.

I lovingly, and accurately, refer to it as the hole. As it stands today, it is a hole in the ground....soon it will have walls, a roof, a porch - but today it is a hole which is quite fitting as I feel, perhaps, I am falling into a hole - an uncertain future - perhaps one containing divorce and foreclosure. Or perhaps, this hole will be our happily ever after. But today, it is a just a hole and one that is completely overwhelming me.

Today, after a big budget breaking bomb was dropped in my lap, I  thought seriously about calling the whole thing off. Could they just fill the hole back up? Could I change my mind? I'm really fine where I am...there's a roof over my head - what more could I want?

But I think it's full steam ahead, and with any luck, my mind and budget will stay on track. Framing starts next week.

Today I went to check out the hole and met our future neighbor. Nice guy. Talented guy.

ME: Where do you work?

NEIGHBOR: Oh, I'm a mental health professional. So is my wife.

ME: Oh hot damn! Are you serious? When can I get drunk and come over? I have a few issues.

NEIGHBOR.......Silence. Followed by a worried stare. 

I might have scared him off  - for now -  but I'm super stoked. I've got my own mental health professional right in my backyard - this has got to be a sign that God, does, indeed, provide.

Say I do actually lose it and decide to throw myself in our hole? Well, maybe the neighbor, if he's feeling at all neighborly, can just talk me right off the ledge.

Later, I found out that not only are the new neighbors mental health professionals, but one of them specializes in children.  Hot diggity dog, we have hit the new neighbor lottery!

Its about time I got some professional help raising these kids.

The neighbors will now be my ace-in-the-hole threat.

"Really? Another tantrum? That's it. I'm sending you to the neighbor's. He'll talk some sense into you."

I think I might have to bring this lovely couple a baked good of sorts and welcome myself to their neighborhood. I also think I'll give them a card - signed as follows:

"So nice to meet you and we're so happy that we're going to be neighbors. If you hear any loud screaming - don't concern yourself too much - my kids do that - often.  Speaking of the kids, if one happens to get loose, you can return them or keep them for awhile - whatever works. Hope you're ready, because here comes crazy."

Yours - The Rumbach Family

Monday, April 22, 2013

High Hopes

A lot of scary, awful shit goes down in our mini-van. There's yelling, there's arguing, there are sippy cups being thrown, there's the complaining....Oh, the complaining - it's too hot, too cold, we're never going to get there, my seat belt's too tight, the van smells bad - the list goes on and on. 

In regards to the van smelling bad - yeah, I'd like to complain about that too...I'm not sure what in the world the kids do in there but they're gross and they make my van stink. 

However, every now and then the girls have actual conversations while we're cruising down the road, my favorite among them being "What are you going to be when you grow up?" 

These conversations are so filled with hope and promise my heart nearly bursts. They are going to be dancers and singers and doctors and teachers and fashion designers. There is nothing out of reach. Nothing they can't do. Everything is possible. These are the conversations I try to burn into my memory so when I'm old, feeble and sitting alone in my nursing home, I'll be able to recall their tiny voices - their tiny voices and big dreams. 

Was there ever a time that I felt like this? A time where I felt I could do anything? If such a time existed, I can't remember having it nor can I remember losing it - yet I miss having it - that feeling - that feeling that I could be anything - do anything.

Long gone are the days of my childhood dream where I thought I could be an Olympic gymnast. That dream was crushed by my inability to throw my ass over my head in any sort of graceful way. 

However, the girls childhood dreams are alive and well and on any given day they can be anything. 

Yesterday, however, Cameron grew anxious about her chosen profession as a fashion designer. 

"What if I change my mind," she said. "I wrote I was going to be a fashion designer on my paper at school but is it okay if I change it later?"

I assured her that she could change her mind. I told her that people evolve and their interests change and she could grow and change with them.  I told her that I, myself, was still deciding what I wanted to "be" when I grew up. This blew her little mind.

"But Mommy, you're already sooooo old," she said.

Concerned about my career path, or lack thereof, Hadley offered a suggestion.

"Mom," she said. "I think you should be a waitress. Yes, a waitress. That would be a fun job." 

Cameron said, "Oh Hadley. That is not a good job for Mommy. Mommy could not EVER handle that job."

Well, shit. I get it - being a waitress is damn hard, but she's clearly missed the part of her life where I've waited on her nonstop for 6 years, either that or she really doesn't think I'm very good at it. 

So I'm left wondering, what will I "be?" What is my dream? 

Is it possible I'm living it? I might be. Driving the smelly mini-van down the road listening to the girls dream out loud - yes, this could be it. It's quite possible I've arrived at everything I've ever dreamed of and it smells like baby poop and has automatic sliding doors. Yet, dream big girls. Mommy is counting on a super sweet nursing home.