Hello Thursday – why are you beating up on me?

I have sorely neglected this blog – – I have not written a word about my own little crazy town since last May.  Isn’t it ironic that the very madness that inspired this blog actually prevents me from writing it?

Well, today was one of those days that was begging to be documented.  I’m not sure it’s funny; some may find it tragic.  But it is in fact my every day nonsense and mayhem that I never knew I always wanted when I spent so long praying for some babies.

Here is my day – just a Thursday – nothing special – maybe it’ll help you feel better about your day. Maybe not. Here goes:

5:30AM

Wake up and enjoy the silence before the insanity begins.

6:30AM

Wake up the boys.  They don’t need to leave for school until 7:30, but my kids are way lacking in the hustle department so we need a good hour to brush the teeth, eat the muffins, and put the shoes on.  (Sidebar: I hope that one day I meet that special someone who can please explain to me why the putting on of the shoes always takes so very much longer than it should.  That person is my Yoda.)

6:40AM

Pack lunches/snacks/water bottles and sign and deliver all forms/permission slips to appropriate folders while boys eat breakfast. (Sidebar: My mother had 4 kids.  She did NOT have the amount of paperwork that I have.  I have seriously considered hiring an administrative assistant.  Or creating a mom-ternship.)

6:55AM

Check on Sofie – – she is supposed to wake up with her alarm at 6:45, but I have found that she often relies on her not so reliable internal clock.  She is fast asleep.  Wake her – tell her to hustle, knowing full well she does not know the meaning of that word.

7:10AM

Check on Izzi – she is supposed to wake up with her alarm at 7, which she usually does but I like to be thorough.  She’s awake, so I’m thinking it’s going to be a great day. (Cue Donald Trump yelling “WRONG!” into the mic in my head)

 

7:30AM

Take the boys to school.  Give myself an internal pat on the back – – You’re halfway there. 2 down, 2 to go!

7:40AM

Get home to find Sofie finishing her breakfast and Izzi nowhere to be found.  I’m told she’s in the shower and I relax because she will surely be coming downstairs any second to finish packing her lunch and to make and eat her breakfast before we leave at 8 because Sofie has to be at school by 8:10 for tutorials.

7:50AM

Izzi finally arrives.  She is absorbed in her iPad screen. Sofie does me a favor and finishes up Izzi’s lunch to ensure we can still get out on time.  Izzi moves like a sloth who has been drinking.  HUSTLE – I silently urge her with my eyes.  But, no.  It is clear that this is a lost battle as the clock alerts me it is now time to go.

8AM

Tell Izzi I’ll be back for her and get Sofie out the door.  Once we’re in the car, Sofie realizes she left her lunch bag. Tick tock tick tock. Finally, she is back and we are on our way.  I’m dreaming about coffee and naps when I realize I will have to wait longer than usual because I still have to head home, grab Izzi and head back to my personal circle of hell that is the middle school morning drop off line (insert silent scream here).

Thankfully, there’s no line at 8:10. Wish Sofie well.  And head back home.

8:15AM

Pick up Izzi and head back to the middle school.  Sit in dreaded drop off line. Sit some more. Wish Izzi well and head home.

8:40AM

Blessed coffee. I’m sure there is nothing better at 8:40AM on a Thursday than a quiet house and a cup of coffee.

 

9 – 11AM

Work on answering the eight million emails that have accumulated in my in-box since yesterday. Where do they all come from?  Begin working on a pro bono project for a local not-for-profit. Happily agree to volunteer to help with a middle school club, as if I have no recollection of what my days already look and feel like.

11AM-1PM

Go out to buy white dress socks for Dean because they are a vital part of his costume for an upcoming performance in the Aristocats.  I thought this would be an easy task, but it wasn’t.  Apparently – boys haven’t worn white dress socks since John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever days. But, I’m nothing if not resourceful. And if anyone tells Dean I bought him girls’ dress socks, I will deny it and you will no longer be allowed to read my blog.

Then head out to buy Izzi some black heels and tights, also necessary for her upcoming performance in the Aristocats.

Buy some groceries so we can have tacos for dinner and head home to care for the puppy and tidy up the house.

1-3PM

Clean the kitchen – walk the dog – run the wash – and it’s time to pick up the boys.  Realize I have not yet showered. I disgust myself.

3:25PM

The boys come out of school.  Dean is first – and he tells me he has terrible news and I will be very angry with him and may even punish him.  Fantastic.  Then I see Luca – except Luca is not wearing the clothes he went to school in.  When your 5-year-old ends his kinder day in his backpack emergency change of clothes it can only mean one thing: he had an accident.  While in PE.  While JUMP ROPING.  Yes, he did.  Teachers don’t make enough money.

3:30PM

Learn that Dean hasn’t been doing much of his online homework.  Talk to him sternly and firmly about how he will resolve this and then sit back and watch as my usually sweet-as-sugar first born son starts yelling at me. Of course I know it is only because he is angry with himself and afraid of what technology will be taken away from him.  But – it is still no fun.  Then talk to Luca about his accident, which makes him cry, which makes me feel like MOTHER OF THE YEAR! Why is this day not over yet?

3:40PM

Drive to the middle school so we can enjoy our 40 minute long ritual where we park around the corner and wait for our girls, and sometimes an extra, to grace us with their tween presence. All I could think about is Luca’s dirty clothes just sitting and festering in his backpack.  OCD mommy’s worst nightmare. Resolve to write a note to Luca’s teacher asking that his clothes be trashed or burned should he have an accident again. No need to send them home like a special surprise.

4:10PM

Text the girls to remind them that Sofie has Student Council and their friend has an after school meeting so today, it is just Izzi. I hope she hurries.  I need to get to my washing machine and I need to throw Luca in a shower.

4:20PM

Izzi finally gets her sloth-like butt in the car.  We head home and just as I’m within spitting distance of home, my phone rings.  It’s Sofie.  Student Council is cancelled and I need to go get her. Sigh.  U-turn.  Back we go.

4:35PM

I have all 4 kids locked and loaded.  We get home.  I put Izzi in charge of Nunzio the wonder dog, while I tend to Luca.  I quickly realize his sneakers are soaked. Ew. Lucky for us – I have a new pair because last year, the sneakers were buy one, get one half off. I bought the second pair a size up and it was time to bust them out.  I told Luca to throw his pee pee PE shoes in the garage, I grabbed the dreaded wet clothes bag out of his backpack, taking great care to ensure nothing else was contaminated, and I threw his clothes into the washing machine and him into the shower.

5PM

Just as I feel myself relaxing, Sofie yells down that she needs me to pin her choir dress.  See, she is in choir and they had to pay for these black gowns that they need to wear to all concerts.  Great – except that the dresses apparently are made for Amazon girls with legs for days.  That’s not my Sofie.  So, she has been needing to get the dress hemmed.  I thought we should take it to tailor.  She thought she should sew it herself.  She has a concert on Saturday and her dress is not yet hemmed. So, now – in the midst of post-accident clean-up, dinner prep and homework, I must act as the tailor’s apprentice.

5:15PM

I’m done with Sofie – she is ready to sew.  I start getting my gourmet dinner (tacos) going when Luca walks over to me and says:

Ms. XXX told me at lunch NO MORE CANDY.

What? Halloween was 3 days ago. I pack my kid’s lunch.  No one is going to tell me that he can’t have candy. What’s that all about??!! I can’t even process it so I simply tell Luca:

Forget about what Ms. XXX told you.  I’m your mommy and I will decide what you eat. You will bring candy tomorrow. And Monday. And Tuesday. And so on.

Words that I just know will make me everyone’s favorite parent…

Are you tired? I am. And it’s only 8:10PM.  Seems like a good time for some good scotch as I try to find the merriment in today’s madness…img_0444

 

 

 

All The Things I Never Dreamed I’d Say…

I can’t possibly count how many times I’ve been on the receiving end of flattering yet embarrassing stares. As a mom of four – – ages 12, 11, 10 and 5 – – I can’t go anywhere (the grocery store, the library, the pediatrician, etc.) without all eyes falling on me. And I can tell the gawking men, women and children are all thinking wistfully, “Wow – she is so lucky. I wonder what it would be like to her for just a day.”

So, I have decided to give the people a treat. I’ve taken note of the Top 10 most bizarre utterances that came out of my mouth in recent weeks; utterances that truly capture the enviable life of a mom of four.

I hope you will enjoy this brief walk in my worn out shoes.

 

TOP 10 BIZARRE UTTERANCES:

1 – “Stop letting the dog lick your boogers.”

My little Coton De Tulear is not quite as fancy as his name suggests.  He is very happy to roll around in the grass; he spends far more time getting up close and personal with his precious parts than I ever imagined possible; and he has a taste for all things salty – including and especially boogers.  If you are having an allergy attack, or crying, or have a case of the sniffles – – watch your back.  He’s coming for you.  My daughters actually allow him full access to their noses – which is as disturbing as it is disgusting.

2 – “Why are you smelling my butt?”

This time, I’m not talking about my dog.  My 5-year-old boy has an unnatural attachment to my rear end.  He pats it, he holds on to it – and most recently, he’s become fond of coming up behind me while I’m paying at the grocery store or on line at the post office.  He buries his head back there and inhales deeply.  Thankfully – he typically finishes this ritual with the proclamation, “Your butt smells so good!” (which I think is because he’s really smelling my laundry detergent and fabric softener).

3 – “Of course Poopie can come out to dinner – – it is his birthday, after all.”

Perhaps you’ve read the entry about Luca’s imaginary friend – Poopie.  If not, you’re missing out – here’s the link:

https://madnessandmerriment.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/the-adventures-of-poopie-its-not-what-you-think/

Rest assured, we almost never leave home without “Poopie.”

4 – “You absolutely can not use your opera voice in the movie theater.”

Luca likes to sing.  For some reason, he enjoys singing in full opera style. And while his falsetto is something to be admired, people who are watching a movie would likely not be smitten with his performance.

5 – “No, your friends aren’t quite right. If Donald Trump wins, he won’t make EVERYONE leave the country.”

Please know – I am not a Trump supporter.  But – I’m also not a fear mongerer.  My poor 10-year-old son literally lost sleep because his friends at school informed him that some of them, and their parents, would be forced to leave the country if Trump won.  That indeed – Trump would make EVERYONE leave the country.  Now, maybe that’s just a campaign message I have not yet heard.  But I have to believe it would be very boring to be President of a country with population: 0.

6 – “I didn’t get to the store – have potato chips as your vegetable.”

Self-explanatory.

7 – “You’ll have to hold it in. I don’t care what it does to your colon, we are not using the bathroom here.”

Am I the only one who would almost prefer my kid pees/poops in his/her pants rather than take said child to a public restroom?  Whatever.  I’m OCD and I’m proud.  If I can hold it in, so can they!  Future digestive issues be damned!

8 – “I do not have favorites – – just sometimes, I like her better.”

I love all my children exactly the same.  But, if you have more than one kid, you know what I mean.  On any given day – in any given hour – there is a child I like better than the other ones.  He/she is the one who in that singular moment is not repeating my name, or yelling at another sibling, or leaving dirty underwear on the floor, or leaving the toilet unflushed, or looking at his food with disdain, or doing any other thing in the infinite list of things that annoy me.

9 – “Wear these socks. I know they don’t match – consider it a fashion statement. Tomorrow’s laundry day.”

Again – self-explanatory.

10 – “Don’t brush your teeth naked.”

Why do I even have to say this?

So – there you have it.  And yes, it is as awesome as it sounds. Be jealous.

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If You Build Your Kids a Swing Set…

If your husband builds your kids a swing set, they’ll enjoy all the swinging and sliding and climbing – – until you have to move, and the lady buying your house wants the swing set too.

When you get to the new house, your kids will repeatedly ask for another swing set.

But, you live around the corner from the neighborhood playground – so you convince the kids they can live without a backyard swing set.  And life is good…

Until you have another baby.  (Did anyone not see that one coming?) Then, you realize you NEED a backyard swing set to keep the 3 bigs entertained while you tend to the new little in the comfort of home.

So, your husband will build them one.  And they will have fun swinging and sliding and climbing.  But you live in Texas, so it won’t be long until they ask for a pool.  And you will want one also.

While the pool is being dug and plumbed and plastered, you’ll have to temporarily remove the swing set.

Once the pool is complete, the kids will wonder aloud when they will have their swing set back.

So, your husband will build it again – – but this time, it will be in a different spot in the yard. There is no room for the slide, but it is still a rocking swing set.

When you show the kids the newly redesigned swing set, they will pout about no slide.

But, there are new easy-to-climb stairs that Hubby reworked for the little guy, who also loves swinging, and soon all the kids are enjoying the slide-free play structure.

But, just as the little man is learning to swing on his own, the 3 bigs now have more fun riding bikes, shooting hoops, and playing football in the front yard.  And when the 3 bigs are in the front yard, that’s where the little guy wants to be too.

So, you realize that you probably don’t need the giant swing set taking up half your yard.  and you decide it’s time to take it down.  But, when you talk about taking down the swing set that nobody’s using – the little guy pitches a fit.  He will miss his swing set.

So, you decide to make a small playhouse in place of the swing set:  something that will take up less space and provide a comfy lounging area for all 4 kids to play games, do crafts, and eat snacks outside.

You spend countless hours on Pinterest to find exactly what you want your playhouse to look like.  You sift through lots of nonsense about melted crayon art, and triple story tree houses until you find inspiration on thehandmadehome.net; your husband draws out plans and your kids start giving input (“NEED a chalkboard; WANT a table; MUST HAVE be achy decor”).

Because you’re environmentally friendly (or frugal), your husband uses all the wood from the swing set to build a beautiful playhouse, cabana style, for the kids.  There is much drilling and sawing; hammering and sanding; painting and staining; shopping and accessorizing.

It looks amazing.  Hubby even wrangled up authentic nautical stuff from his childhood and early adulthood on the water in New York.

You’re the envy of all of your friends and neighbors.  And when it is finally time to hang out in the playhouse, the little guy says, “It’s cool, but I wish it had a slide or a swing.”

So, when you build your kids a playhouse, be careful!  They’ll probably ask for a swing set to go with it…

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Picture Day – my personal circle in Dante’s Inferno

I can’t speak for other families, but there are reasons why Picture Day in my household comes but once a year:

1 – Color Scheme Angst

No matter what you and your kids look like on a daily basis, for Picture Day you have to put your Professional Stylist game face on.  My oldest daughter may wear a Texans jersey everywhere she goes – – but she WILL wear something pretty and feminine for Picture Day.  My second daughter may love her cozy t-shirts and wacky socks, but she too will be girlied up for Picture Day.  I’m not talking about pink tutus or frilly dresses – – just something that makes them look a little less sports bar/hobo and a little more HOLIDAY CARD worthy.  My oldest son may enjoy his George Costanza sweatpants; he may cry when he tells you AGAIN that nothing else is comfortable.  But, for Picture Day, he will wear something with a button – – even if it’s there only for show, hiding the fully elasticized waistband.  My little guy may occasionally don a pink hairband and pair it with a striped t-shirt and plaid shorts.  But – for Picture Day, he will match.

So, I hit the store and try to find four outfits (2 boys’ and 2 girls’) that will be tolerable to my completely not fashion-minded kids – – and the outfits have to be in some sort of pleasing color palate that looks nice together, but they mustn’t be too matchy matchy.

Are ya kidding me?

2 – Hair

My kids and I (and at some point, my husband) have all been blessed (cursed?) with incredibly thick and wavy/curly hair.  This creates a Picture Day nightmare as it means we all (except Big Daddy, bless his shiny cabeza) have to make a coordinated trip to the salon to be professionally coiffed so that we look less Monica-from-Friends-in-Bermuda and more Monica-from-Friends-Everywhere-but-Bermuda.  I won’t spend a lot of time on this – – for more on why Hair Day is no fun, you can visit

https://madnessandmerriment.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/how-to-take-4-kids-to-the-hair-salon/

3 – Moods

There is nothing like a professional photographer armed with a camera to instantly turn my kids into the worst versions of themselves.  Does this happen to anyone else??  My kids are *generally* happy, outgoing, photogenic small people.  But then it’s Picture Day and it’s as if I have four little Jekylls and Hydes.  They can’t smile.  They don’t know how to stand, or sit, or function.  They are angry about EVERYTHING.

Anyway – all of the above reasons make it very clear to me that Picture Day is only to happen once, typically in October/November, to create some beautiful images that are worthy of sending out to 200 of our closest friends and family.  And – we’ve been lucky enough to be blessed with a photographer who is somehow able to capture such great shots of my crazy stinkers that I always print a bunch of giant collages which I can stare at lovingly.  Much like childbirth, when I look at the products of Picture Day, I often forget about the pain.

Bonus Picture Day

But recently, my in-laws came to town.  When your in-laws come to town; and they are celebrating birthdays and soon to celebrate their 51st anniversary; and the blue bonnets are in bloom – – – you again are lulled into a ridiculously false sense of security and calm when you book your wonderful photographer for a bonus photo session.

I told myself it would be super casual; I would not go on a shopping spree to hunt for the perfect apparel.  I would not even fret when our Hair Day had to go down days before Picture Day, leaving us frizzy and frazzled.  Because it wan’t about flawless images this time; it was about capturing moments with Grandma and Grandpa.

So, I worked it all out – – I told the kids this would NOT be like other photo sessions.  We would simply go to our lake; do some fishing; feed the turtles; maybe have a fun “jam session.”  Our photographer would be there to capture some spontaneous moments.  The kids seemed on board.  Until…

They realized quickly that the fishing poles were not hooked or baited.  That was it – – no “fake fishing” for my little evil Hydes.  Let the meltdowns begin!  And they were going to feed the turtles on the side of the bridge where there were the most turtles – – even if it meant that their backs were to the camera.

Ok – – plan B.  Take out the instruments and let’s get these kids singing before I throw them into the lake the entire session is a bust.

Ok – – it’s working.  Everyone’s singing.  Dean is on box drum; Izzi is on tambourine like a boss; Sofie’s got the cabasa; Anthony’s on guitar; Luca is armed and ready with a single maraca.  But then – Luca loses it.  Apparently – he can only play the maraca if he sings a song he made up.  So, naturally  – we cut ourselves off in the middle of a U2 jam and we tried to play along while Luca launched into a 7 minute rendition of his own original song that he is clearly making up as he goes along.  And then, Izzi started losing it because she wanted a song we all know – but she couldn’t think of a single song she knows.

I saw that our lovely and brave photographer remained completely unfazed by the Madness she was witnessing as she kept snapping away, and I could’t help but wonder why I dragged us all into my personal circle of Hell known as Picture Day on this, Grandma and Grandpa’s last night in town.  What was I thinking?  There is no such thing as a super casual, easy-going, laid back Picture Day.  And while I have TONS of confidence in my fearless photographer friend, I can’t imagine how any good pictures would come out of this mess that I am single-handedly responsible for.  But then – just two days later – she sends me a little preview.  And just like that, I forget about the pain and I can’t wait till the Fall for more exquisite images of my amazingly quirky and unpredictable crew.

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The musical Madness and Merriment – as captured by the talented Wibben Photography

 

 

 

How to take 4 kids to the hair salon…

OK – – first tip:  if at all possible – just don’t.  Ever.

Now that we have that critical piece of advice out of the way…

CALENDAR CHECKS:

If you are ever in the completely  and beautifully blessed yet logistically unruly position of being a mommy of four, chances are that at some point you will simply have no choice but to examine all the collective calendars and coordinate a haircut extravaganza afternoon (or morning). You need to carefully consider school calendars, other appointments, school-related extracurriculars, extra extracurriculars AND you’ll want to try to ensure that the hair appointments are all taking place on a day when it is financially worthwhile to have all four kids looking their best.  If you want an extra special challenge, go ahead and make an appointment for yourself too!  The salon is just never quite so relaxing as when you get to station hop across the room to ensure every stylist knows what he/she is doing with each child and every child is behaving and keeping his/her head still (because crooked hair cuts are not cute).

MAKE THE CALL:

Next – now that you have an afternoon in mind (the perfect afternoon because you have decided to do some impromptu family pictures that day) you get to call the salon to schedule the appointments.  Please make sure you leave yourself at least 20 minutes for this call, and have a strong cup of coffee glass of wine nearby.  Why?  Because Heather, the chick who is working the phones, rarely has to coordinate more than one or two stylists and clients at the same time.  When you give her 5, you have to allow time for her to try and understand you, get it wrong at least once or twice, get it right but then realize she forgot to “plug it into the system,” and finally redo it all thanks to wine-induced careful and patient guidance from you.  I’m not exaggerating at all when I say you deserve a fancy cupcake after successfully making this call.

ROLL WITH THE CHANGES:

You’ll feel great until a few days later you find out your amazing photographer is not available on what my family affectionately calls “HAIR DAY.”  Ok – you talk yourself off the ledge.  No big deal; you’re not rescheduling because – well, see above.  So, you simply reassure yourself by noting that you all need haircuts anyway and the impromptu pictures will look much more impromptu with neatly trimmed hair that hasn’t been professionally styled that day.

All is well until the morning of HAIR DAY when child #2 informs you that she has a school club meeting that she refuses to miss. (How did this fly under my calendar check radar?) Ok – – breathe.  No big deal.  She has very long hair anyway – no one will notice if she misses a trim.  She will go to her club meeting; haircuts for everyone else.

Except – now you have to make sure club girl has a ride home, so please always have at least one close, reliable, amazing friend you can lean on.  Call her or text her – and make sure she can handle the post-club pickup while you handle HAIR DAY.

Keep breathing – you’re almost in the home stretch.  Now you simply have to call back Heather, or whomever else may be covering phones that day, and cancel just one of 5 appointments.  Be careful – make sure she cancels the right one or it’s just total anarchy.

GET TO THE SALON!

Go to school to handle all kid pick ups (except for club kid).  Guess what?  Club is CANCELLED!  The teacher couldn’t be there and now you’re back to four kids needing haircuts, with appointments for only three.  Put on your mellow Coffee House satellite radio and chant SERENITY NOW to yourself the entire ride to the salon as you hope and pray that the cancelled appointment has not yet been filled.

Bad news: the stylist we had on tap for Club Kid is now booked; but good news: they have someone else available.  It’s a HAIR DAY miracle.  If you want your salon time to be extra fun, make sure to have four stylists come at you all at the same time because they’re ready – for everyone.  Insert silent scream here.  You now need to have your hands ready to accept the four pairs of glasses that are chucked in your general direction as all of your kids are whisked away for shampoo.  Careful – because there’s two hair bands, an iPad and a book coming at you as well.  Cat-like reflexes are very important on HAIR DAY. Explain apologetically to your stylist that she just has to wait while you tell the other three stylists exactly what they will be doing to your children’s heads.  Try not to have a nervous breakdown when you are taken to a shampoo sink that may not be near your 5-year-old as he gets shampooed.

Have your hair washed and try to focus on the calm and relaxation whilst you can hear one child explaining to his stylist that he can’t be touched with clippers because his friend had a bad haircut yesterday, and your other son is talking to his stylist – whom he is sharing with his older sister – about his imaginary friend, Poopie.

LET GO AND ENJOY THE SHOW

Finally, just accept the fact that while you are in a chair, covered in a large black cape, with scissors hovering around your head—you are completely helpless and whatever happens now to your children’s heads is absolutely and unquestionably beyond your control.  Use every ounce of self-control you possess to not leap out of your chair when you hear your youngest child- the one with the beautiful curls and long side-swept bangs – yelling “SHORTER!! SHORTER!!!

Good thing it’s not impromptu picture day…

PS:  fun fact I learned today from my littlest man—The Wooly Mammock is ExStunkt.

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Pretty Izzi post HAIR DAY.

 

 

Just a typical day…

We have some family visiting from out of town.  They are super excited to spend time with the kiddos…

#1 – When they arrived, my little man thought he had to be fancy so he opted to don a pastel pink headband and assorted bracelets.  More on this here:

https://madnessandmerriment.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/sometimes-you-just-wanna-be-fancy/

#2 – I had to leave for a bit with my sweet Izzi, and I left the relatives with Sofie and Dean, while Luca helped Big Daddy start building an outdoor playhouse.  Sofie, Dean and Visiting Relative X had decided to play Scrabble.  Great – -or so I thought.  When I arrived home, I innocently (naively?  inanely?) asked, “How was the game?”  The answer:  “I can NOT play with your kids!  Dean tried to fake a word because he had bad tiles; Sofie wouldn’t stand for it; Dean threw a fit; Sofie wouldn’t budge.  It was very TENSE!  They are very competitive, Tammy.”  Um, yes.

#3 – Little man Luca- – aka child #4 – – wanted to take everyone to the indoor playground at his preschool.  Last month – he took another family visitor there and fun was had by all, except for Dean who had declared himself claustrophobic and afraid of the dark.  Dean – who went on the newly dreaded “BIG SLIDE” many times at age 4 when he attended the same preschool – refused to even so much as climb the stairs to what he “knew” would be a pitch black, tiny, blood-curtling hall of frights (because that would fit in perfectly in a building designed for 2-5  year olds).

So, this time – Luca brought a flashlight along for his big brother to carry, thinking it would be the key to Dean’s ability to conquer the “BIG SLIDE.”  It wasn’t.  Dean stayed away as long as he could.  When it was almost time to go, I bribed Dean with books (how great is it that my kids will work for BOOKS?) to try the slide.  He got close – – but then he truly started hyperventilating.  For real.  So – I upped my bribery game:  “2 books.”  That got him a little closer – but then he couldn’t do it.  After much poking and prodding, he finally acquiesced and ascended the stairs of horror, while doing his best yoga breathing.  When he finally made it to the death trap (** BIG SLIDE**) – he shouted to us that he could not, would not make it down.  He was stuck in indoor playground limbo.  The grown ups were not prepared for a search and rescue operation so I used my stern mommy voice to order him down.  And down he slid.  “Wasn’t it fun?” I asked.  “No” was his brief and hostile reply.  We convinced him to go again – – and by the 4th time, he actually enjoyed it.  I had no idea we’d be having a complete desensitization therapy session at the indoor playground.

This was just a day and a half of the madness and merriment that our visitors have so far endured! Good thing they love us!

A St. Patrick’s Day wish for all my friends and family – near and far:

May you always be fancy; may you always win; may you never let your fears ruin your fun and most importantly – – may your cocktail glasses and your hearts always be full.  Cheers!

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Sometimes – – you just wanna be fancy.

In case you’ve not been reading the blog (GASP!  THE HORROR!), or you don’t know me or my family at all – let me catch you up really quickly and easily:  my kids are a unique bunch of personalities:

I have a 12-yr-old daughter who looks like a future supermodel and who loves and lives for football.  FOOTBALL.  (if you know me at all, you know why that is extra odd).  She doesn’t just watch the games, or own a jersey.  She has being a salary capologist as her life’s ambition and as such, she is intimately familiar with all football stats dating back to – – I don’t know – dating really far back.  She also knows salaries, players’ worth, and she is well-versed in college up-and-comers so she can plot drafts accordingly.

Then I have an 11-year-old daughter who is just as beautiful as her sister in a more dark and exotic kind of way; who still loves playing with dolls; who skips through life as if it is all rainbows and unicorns – in fact she once created an imaginary world known as Sofie-ville where there were unicorns who pooped rainbows, and free brownies for everyone; who sings ALL THE TIME, much to her older sister’s chagrin; and who has exhibited early signs that she may be a future featured story on HOARDERS.  More on that in another future post.

I have a 10-year-old son who has such intense anxiety that once, when my car wouldn’t start after we had all buckled up inside the garage, he practically had a heart attack because he was certain we’d perish as we had no way out of our vehicular coffin – – until I opened the doors.  PHEW!  He is also a very old soul.  In fact, I often joke that he has the soul of an 80-year-old Jewish man.  His recent work on pick-up lines (Read more on this here: https://madnessandmerriment.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/random-roundup/ makes me think it may be the soul of an 80-year-old Jewish gigolo, but that’s neither here nor there.  He runs deep.

Then – I have a 5-year-old son who is an enigma.  He proposed to his girlfriend at age 4, and he asks me almost daily when he can have the wedding.  His best friend is an imaginary poopie named: Poopie.  For more on this, you can read: https://madnessandmerriment.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/the-adventures-of-poopie-its-not-what-you-think/

He sings; he dances; he thinks he knows EVERYTHING.  You can tell him a certain fact like “Luca, ya know the world is round like this globe.”  And he will respond with, “That’s YOUR opinion!”  And sometimes – perhaps more often than you may think – my 5-year-old son just wants to be fancy – as seen in the youtube video below:

I love him as I love all my babies.  He just may be a little more fabulous than I had previously imagined.  And who doesn’t need more fabulous?

So – there ya have it.  It’s a short post today – but it needed to be put out there.  If you’re still needing more Luca, here’s a weird version of “HELLO” that he made up on the spot, apparently combining Adele’s version, the Star Wars version, and his own take on Star Wars – which clearly involves mean sheep who are trying to take over the Earth.  Happy Thursday!

 

Random Roundup

What is a random round-up?  Exactly what it sounds like – – I have no cohesive point today (some may argue that has been the case from the get-go); instead – I will share some fun bits and pieces that have happened at the Mad and Merry Marino Manor since I last posted:

My 10-year-old’s odd diversion:

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about my DeanO.  He loves hanging out with friends, playing basketball, soccer, football – -whatever.  But – he also is a bit of a quiet genius (or as he calls himself, “Dean-ius” – get it?).  Whenever he is not outside playing, he can be found WRITING.  Writing poetry; writing short stories; writing (and illustrating) comic books; writing music.  He is the writer I have always WANTED to be – – the amazing creations that come from his little head are incredibly poignant, eloquent and inventive.  I love sneaking peeks at his works in progress when he casually drops them at all possible locations across the house and minivan.  Oh yeah – – he is even writing while in the minivan, on the way to/from school.  It’s quite impressive.

His latest “piece” took me a bit by surprise however.  I’m not sure why – truly NOTHING should ever shock me anymore.  But there he was, in our mudroom, just frantically scribbling away.  Tongue out and licking lips – so I knew he was in deep concentration mode.  I asked him what he was working on – – his reply:  “I’m making a list of pick-up lines.”  I swear to you – this is what he said.  And sure enough, he began to read a few to me:

“I want to rearrange the alphabet – – because then YOU and I can be together.”

“I need a fire extinguisher – – because you set my soul on fire.”

“I need an oxygen tank – because you take my breath away.”

I don’t want to give his best lines away, but that’s likely an ample sampling for you.  Fellow mamas, I apologize in advance if he uses a line, plus his undeniable charm, on your daughter(s).  I promise – he’s a delightful little catch!

A Weekend of Performances:

Friends – – I spent years and years, and lots of $$$, energy and time devoted to the trying out of many, many activities.  Soccer – or as we call it, “LOOK! A pretty flower!”; Tae Kwon Do – which we call, “If I can’t practice on my brother/sister, I’m not doing it.”; gymnastics – aka “we like it because we get skittles at the end.”; dancing – or “we’re only doing this because mom made us.”; art class – “the same thing we do for free at home”; baseball – “the ball hit my hand and I have now declared my retirement.”; swim team – where we were known as the family whose kid throws up before class; etc.

It’s a very long list – – and you may read it and think I’m a Tiger Mom.  In fact, quite the opposite.  I truly just wanted the kids to figure out their passions, and I thought the way to do that was to try many, many things.  I had all but given up on extracurricular activities of any kind when I offered up drama to Izzi.  She decided to give it a try, and it was the greatest thing we could’ve done.  She finally found one of her passions (her others being all things NFL, and art)!  She has since been in quite a few shows; she LOVES being on stage and her theatrical experiences are truly allowing her to grow as a public speaker, as a singer, as a dancer, and as an all-around empathetic person (as acting requires you to step into someone else’s shoes, if only for a little while).

Of course, my other kids couldn’t stand being left out of all that fun so Sofie and Dean both decided to explore drama as well, with Izzi’s permission of course.  Dean loved being in ELF with Izzi and lots of other talented kids this past December and last month it was Sofie’s turn.  She auditioned for and landed a role in Shrek.  This past weekend was the show – and it was fantastic, as expected.  

But 2 weeks prior to showtime, we learned that Sofie’s National History Day project – a performance based on Mother Teresa – had qualified for the regional NHD competition, which was to be held on the same day as Shrek.  Yikes.  UnTiger Mom that I am, I tried to convince Sofie that she didn’t need to compete in regionals for NHD – – she could just stick to Shrek; accept her lovely grade on her NHD project and politely decline to register for the next level of competition.  Sofie was befuddled; “why would I NOT compete?”  My answer – – because I’m the best, most supportive mom EVAH, “Honey, you’re not going to advance to State level, so why make the weekend more stressful for yourself?  You already committed to Shrek – stick to that.”  Sofie wouldn’t hear of it.

Luckily we were able to work out the timing.  And she went and did her Mother Teresa project before coming home and getting herself ready for LONG day of two Shrek performances.  We couldn’t stay for the awards ceremony at the NHD regionals.  While on our way to the theater for Shrek, the texts started pouring in:

“Sofie won 2nd place!!”

“Sofie’s going to State!!”

Honestly, I’m still in a state of disbelief.  I’m so very proud of her.  And I’m obviously feeling incredibly guilty that I tried to convince my own child not to bother trying.  I vowed silently never to do that again.  Until I realized that the State competition would be held in Austin, the very same day that Izzi will (hopefully) be in a play and Dean will (hopefully) be performing elsewhere.  [insert silent scream here]

Stay tuned for more Madness and Merriment!  Thanks so much for reading, and sharing, and following! 

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Dean – after using a pick up line on a donut.

 

 

 

 

 

“Why is Your Butt Growing Bigger Every Day?”

Those of you who know me well are very aware that exercise and I are not friends.  Diet and I don’t really get along either.  Chick-fil-a Cookies n Cream ice dream shakes and I?  Best buds.  Binge watching HGTV while snuggling my puppy on the couch?  Yes, please.  Go for a run?  Sure – – if there’s something large and ferocious chasing me.  Cut out carbs?  Absolutely – as long as that doesn’t include pasta, potatoes or cake.

This standard of living typically suits me just fine, but on occasion, I become suddenly and inexplicably motivated to change it up; to improve myself; to slim down and/or buff up for swimming pool season.  And such an urge struck me a few weeks back – – but I knew I wouldn’t be joining a gym or attending a class so I did what any suburban mom does: I posed the question to my Facebook friends.  What exercise DVD do you do at home that is fun and easy? (Obviously if it’s fun and easy, it’s got to be TOTALLY effective, right?)

I got a bunch of recommendations for Shaun T’s “Cize” – but I wasn’t feeling the $80 investment in something I may/may not follow through on (history would dictate “may not” was much more likely).  But I found a couple of other older Shaun T workouts for less money on Amazon – and I began my latest exercise journey. (Maybe “journey” is misleading – a “journey” implies a trip of great length and meaning; perhaps “overnighter” may be more apropos.)

Here’s the great news:  I actually really really like Shaun T.  Unlike Jillian Michaels and her 30 Day (Dignity) Shred, Shaun never yells at me, or says snarky things like “soon you’ll look just like her, right? [sarcastic smirk] Suuure.”  No no.  Shaun T. says things like “You’re cute.”  And “I’m gonna make you fly!”  Ok Shaun – let’s do this!  Oh yeah – and it doesn’t hurt that he has crazy abs and does all the workouts shirtless.  Amen.

So – I have been RELIGIOUSLY doing my Shaun T routines.  I am grooving my Rockin’ Body.  I am working my Hip Hop Abs.  Stop laughing at me – I am digging DEEP here.  Luca is unfortunately often put in the position to shut off Mickey or Miles from Tomorrowland for a brief while so mommy could get her groove on.  He’s been pretty patient about it.  And – he even started paying me some great compliments.  One time last week he said my tummy was getting so skinny that it might get as “skinny as paper.”  It won’t – – bless his little kind heart.

But then came yesterday.  I’m doing my Disco Grooves, feeling fairly proud of myself and impressed with my newly rediscovered dance moves.  I’m totally getting into the final combo – when I have to take all the moves and put them together into an amazing, sweaty,  high-energy dance routine.  And right then – I hear Luca say, “Mommy – why is your butt growing bigger and bigger every day?”

If you just spit out your coffee, whether from laughing or disdain, wait.  It gets worse (better?).  I immediately froze.  No cool down for me today, Shaun T.  I paused the DVD.  Panting, sweating and a little dizzy, I turned to Luca, who was in his tool bench pajamas and for some reason – a pink hairband, laying on the couch, cuddling his MiMi (a stuffed lamb that has been with him since Day 1) and sucking his thumb.  He looked so sweet; not at all like the devil-spawn who just asked about my expanding posterior.  I said, “What’d ya say?”  Because maybe I heard him wrong – or maybe he misspoke, like a verbal typo, and he really meant to say “SMALLER.”  But it came out pretty much the same way – only stronger.

“I said – your BUTT is getting BIGGER and BIGGER EVERY DAY!!!  WHY???”

When I finished laughing (or crying. or some mixture of the two), I said, “Is it bad that my butt is growing?”  And he didn’t miss a beat.  He jumped up off the couch, stood behind me – seemingly checking it out before deciding on his answer – and then he came around with a sweet smile and said, “No – I like it!  It’s easier for me to see you now.”

So, my Rockin Body and Hip Hop Abs are giving me a paper thin belly and a homing beacon butt.  Good thing Shaun T is fun to watch.  Pass the Haagen-Dazs!

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When Siblings Attack…

As a mom of four, I’ve learned that I should truly NEVER feel completely comfortable and at peace.  If you’ve got 3 or more kids, you totally get me.  “Calgon – take me away!”  Nope.  Not if you have lots of small people.  Even the most luxurious of baths can’t ease your constant and necessary “at-the-ready” tension.  In fact, I’m often most tense when I need to take a shower.  For some reason, as soon as I’ve shampooed – and I’m reaching that perfect full lather – it is always right then that I’m convinced I could just barely make out the sound of a child tumbling down the stairs, or one sister ripping out the hair of the other.  On the worst days, I’ll hear sirens and assume one of my children needed to call the police/fire department/ambulance or all 3.

So – it didn’t come as much of a surprise when my son’s small at-home birthday celebration on a lovely, sunny and 65 Texas late winter afternoon became fraught with peril – – – and all it took was a game of two-hand-touch football.

I feel the need to preface the picture I’m about to paint for you with a few words about my crew.  My kids are amazing and they feel all things profoundly.  They love deeper and stronger than anyone else I know; they hurt longer and they empathize more for others; but they are also fairly quick to anger over even the slightest injustice.  You can likely almost imagine the ups and downs in my house if you truly grasp even a bit of the emotional intensity within my children.

It started off great – – a handful of friends, a couple of cousins, sunshine, karaoke, chips and sports.  We enjoyed a shirtless rendition of “Final Countdown,” as performed by my 80s music loving 10-year-old.  We giggled at the interpretive dances going on behind my 12-year-old’s “Beautiful,” by Cristina Aguilera.  My niece’s version of Sia’s “Chandelier” brought to mind the mellifluous sounds of mating cats.  I may or may not have delighted the crowd with my karaoke “Ice, Ice Baby.”

The kids enjoyed some free play and soccer and pizza and cupcakes.  Then – it was time to move the party to the street for a “friendly” game of two-hand-touch football.  A friendly game would have been the perfect way to end the festivities.  But our game?  Not so friendly.

The birthday boy himself became very hostile almost from the very beginning when his friends decided not to throw him the ball when he was open.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen DeanO yell at anyone before – but he really shouted at his teammates, killing the friendly atmosphere at once.  My husband, bless his little heart, was playing the part of referee.  My brother-in-law, bless his little heart, was playing the part of that belligerent player who questions all calls and gets up in the ref’s face.  I think there was even a hat pulled off and thrown down.  My niece came over to me and said,”What’s with all the tension between my dad and Uncle Anthony?”  Football, Maya.  Football.

Then, my husband the ref thought it best to help the birthday boy’s team win by going particularly easy on the calls against Dean’s team, Los Pollos Locos (The Crazy Chickens).  At one point, Isabella – captain of the opposing Teletubbies team – indignantly pointed out to the ref that several crazy chickens were shirt grabbing the Teletubbies when they were out of bounds.  The ref stated “If it’s out of bounds, I’m not calling it.  It’s ok if it happens out of bounds.”  Stop me if you know where I’m going…

My Isabella is nothing if not a rule follower.  So, the next chance she had – when Dean ran out of bounds – Isabella saw it as the ideal opportunity to turn the tables and show Los Pollos Locos AND her father, the ref, how wrong it is to not call “late hits.”  She grabbed her brother by the shirt and threw him down to the dirt.  Hard.  No mercy.  When siblings attack.

Thankfully, this nervous momma didn’t actually see the late hit of all late hits.  I likely would have called all the kids’ parents for an early party pick up so I can take my son to the ER to be x-rayed everywhere – just for my own peace of mind.  Instead, I watched as the football game that was meant to be the crowning jewel in Dean’s party, started an unrecoverable downward spiral.  The ref ordered Isabella out of the game for her unsportsmanlike conduct.  She argued – perhaps correctly? – that what she did was out of bounds, so as the ref earlier stated – it was totally ok.  So, she refused to get out of the game.  Thankfully – a few short (and yet painstakingly LONG) moments later, the kids’ parents started coming to pick up their kids.  The game was over.  The party was over.  The fun in my house – – just beginning.  The lesson?  Never let your husband referee a street football game between two teams captained by opposing siblings.  OR – have all kids’ parties at the local gymnastics place where other people are in charge and there is no competition.  You’re welcome.

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