Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Can 1 mom survive 5 kids for 50 hours?

My mother in law shouts out to me as I drive away, “You have alcohol right?”  My face winces as I begin scanning the fridge in my head… ,oh God.. no, there isn’t any wine left!?
My sister in law and her family have been visiting in Kansas City this summer, but they suddenly had to return home for a funeral of a very close friend. They were shocked and devastated, so we eagerly jumped to help out with their two girls. I volunteered to watch them the first part of the week, which equals 5 kids in my house! I thought- going from 3 kids to 5 can’t be all that bad, right?

For the next 50 hours I needed to entertain 5 kids ages 1, 2, 3 ,5 and 8. I know those of you with 4 , 5 maybe even 6 kids are rolling your eyes at me and to you I say roll em, because you are truly supermoms and I am amazed by you and your powers!

The first day was good, my husband and I were soldiers ready for combat. We wrestled them all into bed by 9:30 , patted ourselves on the back thinking we were pretty awesome.

Second day, my husband is off to work and all 5 kids are awake at 6 am. I shake my head at him, “I don’t think I can do this, you better not work late.” I said this really threatening, with my crazy tired eyes staring him down, daring him to really leave me. I never saw him rush off to work so fast. So much for never leaving a man behind.

My mind sprung into action, I needed a plan that would make all 5 kids happy. I read in one of those Mary Poppins-ish parenting magazines about a gung- ho mom who took her kids on a park tour, they visited every park and made a whole day of it. good ol' fashioned fun. This was my plan. I soon would realize that this was a plan of a crazy person.

I knew it was one against five, but I felt reassured that they had not figured it out yet, until I heard them in back of the mini counting each other, over and over “ one, two, three, four , five..” and then in unison they would all shout out “and ONE MOMMY!” like that was the funniest thing they ever heard, or perhaps it was their battle cry…

I’m not sure who thought of this park-a –rama idea but they did not have four kids under age 5 and an 8 year old obsessed with silly bandz and cartoon network. After two parks they were done and ready for more juice boxes, snacks, naps and air conditioning. They actually had a great time at the parks but when you’re done, you’re done. We were all so hot and sweaty that we just started stripping down in the car. I drove home in my bra.

My plan now became – just keep them busy and structured- kids need that schedule right? Time for dinner. I wanted so badly to make my nieces feel right at home, I told the 3 year old she could have whatever she wanted for dinner. Secretly hoping for a pizza request, she instead ordered “shrimp and edamame please” Sorry I asked. By chance when you said shrimp did you mean spaghetti?

The thing I noticed with 5 kids- someone is always eating, crying, fighting, whining, sleeping or being disturbed from all the above mentioned activities. Just the physical energy it took to bathe, dress, change, feed and buckle up was exhausting. I’m not even going to get into the amount of milk they drank. If you have 5 kids, do you just go to the store everyday?

Kids also tell you every single thought they have. My favorite was,“ Aunt Lara, your house looks old because there is spiders webs everywhere” My niece is obviously used to nicer digs.

 It was at the end of the hottest day of the summer, at the “lake” park, that I realized how amazing it was that all 5 children were smart, beautiful, funny and healthy. In the midst of a young father’s tragic death and the heartbreak that everyone was feeling, I was suddenly laughing at how carefree and full of curiosity these kids were and felt privileged to watch them be mesmerized by pond scum and minnows. And yes I survived. I got to be supermom for a day.

Hour 49 ½ : Your grandma is coming for you right?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who Let the Dog Out?...Who -Who... no really..let the dog out!

There is nothing like coming home from a warm and sunny Arizona vacation to a house full of dog shit. This is my life in a nutshell right now, really nice and relaxing and then Wham-O, hello shit storm. Just picture me and my husband Jason, at midnight after 8 hours of cars, planes and airport food, on our hands and knees, not getting freaky- deaky ( thank you Kelly Ripa) but scrubbing the life outta the carpet and picking out the 4 day old hardened dog crap. I don't mean just a few terds here and there, I 'm talking our carpet was Littered! Blanketed! Defiled! Not just in the living room, but every downstairs room.
You may be wondering if I just forgot to have someone care for our dog while we were gone. Oh I assure you I did and when I asked my texting, boy obsessed, preteen neighbor - what in the hell happened, she shrugged and in a perfect valley girl accent said, “Ummm …like your dog …like pooped a lot." Really. ya think. “Don't you know you've destroyed my house?” I screamed at her in my head. I couldn't even bring myself to really get mad and yell at her and somehow I ended up sort of apologizing to her for my dog's bad behavior. How am I so lame that I can't even go off on an awkward, tongue-tied 12 year old. She was both so pathetic and precious standing there twisting her hair and waiting for her 12 yr old boyfriend to call for Valentine’s Day.

So early the next morning, Jason and I both had to dash off to work and there was no professional carpet cleaner available to do the job. So as our sitter is walking in, I am laying out blankets all over the floor so my kids don't have to be subjected to the poo carpet and all the chemicals I sprayed on it. What a great mom moment. The sitter acted like she understood but made a face that said “Are you seriously expecting me to stay here all day?"

Thankfully the carpet cleaner showed up the next morning and even he felt worried about the situation that or he was just so disgusted he was making the same face my nanny did. He calls out to me,  “ Uhhh I've got some extra pet urine treatment in my truck, you want it?”
“Yes please,” I beg “ How much more is it?”  (like that really matters at this point)
He waves his hand at me, “I think I’ll just give it to you for free.” Thank you for your pity carpet cleaner guy. I’ll take it.  Got any wine in that truck?

Does My Face Really Look Like That When I Yell?

Does my face really look like that when I yell? This is the question I asked myself this morning, as my reflection snuck a peek at me right at the moment I began shouting at my most strong willed child. Shouting just comes so naturally for me these days, I have to tell myself every morning, “I am not gonna yell at the kids today.”

I don’t have problems with yelling at other people, I actually consider myself to be a non- yelling type of person. But I always yell at my kids and frankly it’s starting to make me feel really guilty. You know that bad mom guilt that is laying there waiting for you to screw up every day. Especially when I saw my face as I was shouting, my eyes blazing and rimmed with last night’s mascara, smudged just enough to give me that Goth look I never appreciated. It took me by surprise to see my frown lines so deep and furrowed. It looked like I was the victim of a party prank and someone had drawn cartoon lines above my nose while I was passed out drunk. I spend so much money and time slathering on anti- aging creams that you would think I would just stop making that frown face that causes wrinkles in the first place.

After I finished yelling today, and believe me the irony of the therapist mom doing the yelling is almost too much for me some days, something my dad said to me over Christmas really resonated. It’s been stuck in my head ever since he said it, but not in a good way, in a way that has made me uncomfortable. My dad looked at me with such directness that when I looked back into his eyes, I felt like I was shriveling up into that scared 7 yr old I used to be, “Your children don’t have enough fear” he quipped. Fear. Fear? Is that what it takes for them to listen and obey? Is that what I am trying to do when I yell or am I just being lazy and not controlling my own emotions? Should my kids be afraid of me?

My dad continues to lecture that kids need to have so much fear that they don’t dare talk back and argue, they need to be too afraid to throw a fit because they know they are gonna get their butts spanked. Just like we did with you, he points his finger at me. As I rolled my eyes (yes I still do that at my parents) and began to defend my tough love and fear invoking abilities, my disheveled 4 yr old daughter, willfully stomped down the stairs at 10: 28 pm with her hand full of sheared Barbie hair and toothpaste smeared on her cheek like war paint. She melted into the stairs and cried "Mommy now you giving me a headache! I hate bed! I’M NEVER SLEEPING AGAIN!” I lose again. I exhaled out all my proud feelings of having been a semi- successful parent for the last 7 years, sat back and thought - there has got to be a better way.

Looking back at my childhood I was afraid of my dad and as a kid I didn’t dare talk back , sneak out of my room after bedtime or god forbid interrupt him at the dinner table. I was a pretty well behaved kid during those pre- teen years (teen years were a different story) because I was afraid not to be. However, that night sitting next to my dad on my couch, in my house with my 4 yr old screaming in protest, my feelings of uneasiness switched over to feelings of inadequacy. I realized my kids are certainly not fearful of me and seem to always push the limit. If the limit was a glass window my kids would be covered in stitches and gashes by now.

So now after answering my first question of the day – yes my face does really look like THAT when I yell, the next question is, how do I get my kids to listen to me without yelling, demeaning or threatening them? Notice I didn’t mention bribing because – hey – that’s just smart parenting. Part of my frustration with being a parent and raising kids is that by now I should be an expert. I am a licensed therapist and have been counseling families and children for over twelve years, plus I have three fascinating children of my own, yet why do I have to repeat myself six times just to get them in the car so we can pick up the new mail key because one of them flushed the old one down the toilet. (I know it was you my little crafty 18 month old) Thus my yelling begins around the 7th time I have to repeat myself. Seriously, I just start to lose it. I’m standing there with a squawking baby on my hip, my foot in the wet dog bowl, screaming at my other two kids to stop fighting and just put a shoe on- any shoe! It was not supposed to be this hard, I don't know what I am doing and I have told countless numbers of families what they should to do- man is it hard to counsel yourself and practice what you preach!

One of my friends who is the kind of friend you can count on for Dunkin Donuts coffee at 8am followed by a beer at 11 am, said it best- We want our kids to enjoy us. Not be our friends or like us, but enjoy us. I wonder to myself, “huh- do my kids actually like being around me these days?”

I think I have to remember what kids who are fearful act like. From my experience, I know that it stifles their creativity, passions, and hilariousness. That’s not what I would ever want for my own kids. It’s not our destiny or that of our children to engage in a fear based life, to quote my favorite little green Jedi, "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering".

So my answer, besides just drink more wine (best answer ever!) is to focus on less talking and more action. If there is one thing I stand by, it’s less gabbing at kids and more praise and ACTION. I know that kids are not really listening to parents when they yell. If I want them to listen to me, I have to stop talking so much. So I am making check marks under the early bedtime chart and taking marbles out of the “special treat” jar. All without saying a word - aahhh to think of the energy I just saved.

I think I’m not the only one struggling here, as yelling, shouting and grimacing has taken over many households. I want my kids to keep that pleasure for me that they were given inherently. The kind of delight on my baby’s face when I get him up from his nap, (I wish I could bottle up his nap breath) he starts banging on his crib and jumping so hard he falls down and giggles. Nobody taught him that, I hope I don’t take it away. It’s something that is precious and that is often taken for granted because we know they’ll still love us; they have to because we’re all they’ve got. But what kind of love is a needy love that is there because it has to be. That’s not what I want to teach my children and it’s not the kind of love I wish from them. I don’t want them to need or love because they’re afraid not to, but because they want to.

The real answer is, it starts with me. I have to be the one showing patience and respect to them, even when I want to be lazy as I shout orders from the couch and hiss threats when I’m on the phone. It starts with me. So it’s time to look at my face again, how do I want my kids to see me and remember me? The truth is my dad was wrong and it’s ok because he was right about a lot of other things, but for me, part of figuring out how to be a good parent is knowing when your own parents were wrong or right. When I’m presented with a speck of truth I can either learn from it and make a change or spend my life running from it. I choose to change it. I hear my baby stirring from his nap- time to go practice what I preach.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

See Mommy Pass Out

1088th place is awesome.
 I finished my first 10k race today and it was miserable. I don’t feel proud that I accomplished it, all I feel is pain and exhaustion. It took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to finish, which is pretty bad and means that since I only beat 12 people out of 1100, a bunch of little kids and old men beat me too. I ran with one of my friends from college who I am indebted to because I would have quit if it wasn’t for her talking me through it and pushing me to keep going.

I was running so slow at one point, I actually forgot I was even in a race until the winning runner came whooshing by as he LAPPED me on only my 3rd mile. I was in awe of him. He was running about a 5 minute mile and was finishing up his 6th mile like he was out for a jaunt in the park. It was so effortless for him, he was just gliding by. I started to whine to myself, "why is everything so hard for ME, school was hard, being a good therapist is hard, being a good wife and mom is hard, this stupid race is hard, there is NOTHING I do that comes naturally easy to me."

I managed to hit mile 4 at 45 minutes and was feeling like I was gonna pull this thing off, until I took about 3 more steps and just hit my wall. The last 2 miles were me basically trudging  and Julie (my friend and who I blame for my current pain) puling me along. I must have taken a nap along the way without realizing it because those last 2 miles took me 30 minutes.

My husband, the hero, came out with all 3 kids like he does for every one of my races and I could hear him cheering for me as I rounded into the 6th mile. I seriously started to well up; I just was ready for it to be over. As I headed for the finish line, I suddenly was renewed with energy and got my form back, this was coming naturally to me and finally it was feeling amazing! I could be like the 5 minute mile guy, I could be a good mom, wife and therapist and make it all look easy. Those thoughts were quickly dashed in the next second. As I ran past my family heading for the finish, my son yelled out, and I wish I was making this up, “You earned yourself a big Bud Light mom!” At least I ended the race laughing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

See Mommy Run

I just signed up for 10k and I’m starting to panic because the race is in 12 days.

So I started telling everyone I was running a 10k in hopes that I would then actually go through with it. My friend who is a physical therapist responded to my boasts “I love you runners, you all keep me in business.” Is there that much injury? I haven’t had more than just knee pain. So I researched running injuries and immediately had over 8 types of injuries to pick from. 65-85% of all runners suffer injuries. I doubt most sports have 85% of their athletes on the bench. Running is the one sport that people do with full gusto without any training or coaching. We just walk out our doors and start running.

I caught the running bug because I was desperate to lose the most stubborn of all fat, the stick to your gut and butt flab otherwise known as -third child baby fat. (Can I just mention real quick that my third baby weighed 12 pounds) It wasn’t coming off and running is the only activity I know that leaves you so beaten down and exhausted that I figured it had to do the trick. I don’t know if it’s all the numbers involved- run a 5k in 26:50- or just the anguish it causes, but in the end you feel so accomplished, like you are a real athlete!

After running about 10 miles a week and participating in six 5k’s this summer, I lost 22 lbs! However, that was August and now I am staring at January and 9 inches of snow on the ground. I won’t exactly be feeling the wind in my hair and the sun on my back as I trudge on a treadmill. I can’t stand running on the treadmill and so I haven’t run a step in over 3 months.

I started reading “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougal. If you like to run even a little bit, I highly recommend this book. It explains the phenomena of running, why some can run for hundreds of miles and others are sore after only two. It also was what I needed to get my mojo back, lace up those Asics gels, squeeze into that jog bra and head for the monotonous churning of the treadmill. This time around I am running because I want to run, not just to lose weight but because I like it and it’s now become a part of me. I just need to keep telling myself that.

When I got to the gym (please applaud because getting myself there was ¾ the battle) it was packed which makes it even that much more intimidating if you haven’t worked out in awhile. I’m so insecure that I had to give everyone that “Stop calling me fatso in your head!” look. I stepped on the only empty treadmill and used all my magic powers to just start running. It wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be, it actually felt good and I remembered I really do like running. Then I felt that annoying jiggling feeling– is that my butt? With all that shaking going on I think my pants were having a dance a party.

My form is so bad that I might as well start quacking because I run like a duck. I do this strange leg -kick move, leaving the insides of my ankles either bruised or muddied after each run. I focused on my form “Back straight”, I told myself, “head up, don’t fall off this thing and don’t look at your feet!” I covered up the panel counting my calories and played the “don’t look at the time” game as I focused on the 10 TV screens in front of me, danggit I got the TV with Ghost Whisperer. After watching Jennifer Love Hewitt hallucinate for the 3rd time, I started to feel a little winded, ok one peek at the clock- 6:32 minutes – that’s all! I finally did 1.5 miles in about 17 minutes- not very good but workable. Maybe.

The next morning I must have slept 44 years because I woke up feeling like I was 80. That old knee pain was back and screaming at me with each step down the stairs. And my back was so stiff. Why did I do this to myself? I have 2 friends who have both run marathons yet now they swear by Pilates and claim they have never felt so fit or strong. I needed to take a different approach.

I decided to take some nutritional advice from the book “Born to Run” and strengthen myself on the inside, apparently people who run hundreds of miles eat loads of the herb Chia and a corn meal called Pinole. So I sought out some Chia and Pinole. Chia: as in Chia Pet. As much as I’d rather have a chia for a pet than my carpet pissing dog, I opted for the $9.95 chia powder. Pinole is hard to find and some type of corn grain that acts as an anti-oxidant but since I’m not sure I have the commitment to plant my own corn field; I think I’ll skip it and buy new running shoes instead.

I’m off to the insufferable treadmill and am running up to about 3 miles again, I’m ready to push myself and keep going, even when it’s the last thing in the universe I feel like doing. I guess running is a lot like anything else in life –uumm yea this is where I have some great insight, but right now I’m just trying to sit here without my back spasming and my legs cramping up- I’ll get back to you after the big race! Wish me luck you fellow runners of the world.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I have to admit that when I first heard about the earthquake in Haiti I thought to myself, “I hope we help all those people out.” When I said we, I meant our government, not really so much me.

For whatever reason ( maybe it was my kids fighting over the princess bed at 3 am) I woke up this morning really irritated and decided it was because I hate the paint colors in my house and needed to paint the whole downstairs. I worked myself up into a minor depression just trying to figure out which color, what hue and what trim color would match the floral curtains- that I hate- that have been here since we moved in- and the faded green couch that also doubles as the dog’s bed. Totally overwhelming when you are already mid break down. So like lots of other things I start, I threw the paint chips on the floor and picked another target. Maybe we just need new carpet and a new couch, that should do it.

Minutes later my husband comes down the stairs with 2 of our 3 kids and they are all dressed for church. Really? We are going to church today? Can’t you see I’m busy with my Pottery Barn catalog? I just don’t even want to deal with what church entails nor do I have the energy to even dress myself.

An hour later I am sitting in church and my pastor says this – pretty much directly to me- “when you hear yourself saying – somebody should do something for those people- its God saying YOU are that SOMEBODY!” In other words- get over the preoccupation about all that is wrong with my perfectly good and standing up right house- and help out others - who don’t even have a house to paint.

In the past during Katrina and other tragedies I have given to the Red Cross, I was good with that but there were lots of reports that my money wasn’t really going toward the Katrina relief but just Red Cross in general. I’m not at all saying don’t give to the Red Cross- but it’s hard to know who to give to or if your money is really going to the actual cause. So if you are interested in giving to an organization other than the Red Cross, many of our local churches are giving to The Global Orphan Project an organization that is already in place in Haiti and already providing services. It was also pointed out that while rebuilding homes is crucial, giving aid to the thousands of children who have just been orphaned is also a great need. Here is a link to The Global Orphan Project ,if you want to check it out:


I think this is a good resource to donate to because it builds homes and gives aid to Haiti’s orphans but mostly because they are already there on the ground, in Haiti and 100% of my money can go directly, right now, to orphan care and relief.
Just what is on my mind today.

Monday, January 11, 2010

How much milk did we drink?

I woke up this morning to a row of emptied milk cartons, all lined up waiting to start their new life in the recycling bin. I counted four cartons and then frantically checked the fridge. Whew! Two more gallons left waiting to be glugged down. Good Lord that’s a lot of milk and it’s only been five days! Well five days of being snowed in- it’s been a cold and snowy winter here and as much as I would love to impart you with fabulous creative activities to do with your children on a snowy day , the most interesting thing I did was watch my kids eat and eat and drink milk.
 I started to log in my head how much food we were wolfing through. Since we’ve been basically snowed in, I have been “cooking” (peanut butter and jelly sandwich is to cooking) all the meals .Here is a rundown of what my family of 5 ate in just one week:

8 chicken breasts
2 boxes of waffles
3 lbs of beef
Entire jar of peanut butter
 2 dozen cookies
 9 bananas
1 box of oatmeal
2 loaves of bread- plus the 2 I baked
 3 boxes of granola bars
 0 bottles of wine (what a nightmare!)
 One bag of chicken nuggets
 18 Diet Dr. Peppers
 1 ham
 And drum roll please… 4 ½ gallons of milk.

The milk consumption started me thinking- why not buy the cow and get the milk for free? At $2 .49 a gallon- that’s $ 9.96 a week, adding up to $517 a year- just for milk. I actually Googled- “how much is a dairy cow” and in .31 seconds I learned that I can buy my very own milk cow for about 500 bucks. That is a 17 dollar savings! Save money and piss off the neighbors, where do I sign the cow adoption papers?I could hook the cow’s utters up to a hose that connects right to our fridge’s water dispenser, my kids could just stick their faces under there and drink milk straight from the spout. Not to mention all of the money I'll save on butter and cream. In the end, I get a new pair of leather boots out of the deal. Just kidding I wouldn’t do that – maybe just a little purse.

This may seem extreme to you or maybe it sounds all too familiar - would love to know!!