Spring Fever Rages

When I think of the month of March, typically I think cold, rainy gray days. I think of the smell of water-logged, dead earthworms laying in the parking filling the air. At some point during the month where mother nature may give us snow one day, rain and wind the next, and the warmth of the sun the third – or possibly all three in one day, I sight the first robin of the season and smile. I notice the leaves sprouting on the trees and the daffodils poking up through the muddy ground and know the hope for warmer days is near.

This March, however, we in the mid-west have been blessed ( although some snow sport lovers out there may think us cursed) with unseasonably warm weather. And I don’t just mean a day above 50 degrees here and there, but we’ve actually had several weeks of high 70’s and low 80’s. Yes, we had 80 degrees and sunshine in the middle of March. It is heavenly! It makes me wonder if someone up there in weather land got there M months mixed up. It feels more like late May than mid March, but I am definitely NOT complaining and neither are my children.

The girls wore shorts to school today. They didn’t even take along their jackets. The flip-flops and sandals were dusted off weeks ago. Everywhere I turn, children are playing and riding bikes, people are walking their dogs, flowers and trees are blooming and the diehards out there are actually mowing their lawns instead of shoveling snow. I love it!

Spring fever definitely rages in my home and workplace. Co-workers and I walk to a local cafe for lunch not wanting to return to our florescent-lighted, windowless cubicles afterwards. Not so much because we don’t like our jobs, but more so because the sun is calling us, luring us to sit and just absorb its warmth and bake off the winter pastiness and dreariness of the past three months. When 5:00 PM rolls around, I have approximately two and a half hours left of warm bliss that I take full advantage of.

A few nights ago I walked with my daughters. Actually I was the only one that walked. The oldest road her scooter and the youngest her two-wheeler with training wheels. We had a wonderful time walking and rolling and talking and laughing until… Until the youngest got tired of riding her bike about halfway home. She was just too tired to go on, especially after she’d tipped it a bit when she went down an incline (you can’t really call it a hill). From that point on she walked and whined about calling someone to pick us up while I pushed the bike (which I’d vowed not to do – sigh). A few moments later a car came up fast behind us (we live on a country road in the middle of no where, so I don’t see why people need to go so fast especially when the can see us walking along miles or at least yards in advance). Anyway it scared my oldest daughter and she veered her scooter off the road and wiped out. She scraped her leg although to hear her tell it you’d have thought it was broken. So now, I’m pushing the bike and scooter, while they both whine about calling their Dad to pick them up (even though the house is only yards away.) Oh well…at least we enjoyed the fresh air.

Last night our endeavor out was much more pleasant. We headed to our local park. Typically these excursions find me pushing two girls on the swings, helping them across the monkey bars and then collapsing on the bench to watch them. Tonight I took a different approach. I became a kid too. While I still pushed the swing, I never made it to the bench. I went down the slide and across that slider ‘thingy.’ I tried to pull myself up on to the top of the monkey bars as I’d done in my youth, but couldn’t quite make it – I have a lot more “girth” to move than I did when I was 10. Next we tried to skip stones across the pond (try being the key word) and then switched to seeing who could throw the farthest. No one was fishing, so I figured no harm. The girls smiled and laughed. When the sun started to set, we raced to the car, I would have won too if it weren’t for my shoes.

Today we’re supposed to hit 84 again. I haven’t figured out what we are going to do tonight yet. I’d like to get the flower beds cleaned out, but maybe will just shoot some hoops instead. I do know we won’t be sitting in front of the TV. The next few days rain is in the forecast and the highs are only in the 60’s. I am trying not to be disappointed. I am trying not to get spoiled, but I am. I think I might cry if the temperatures dip back into the 40’s or worse 30’s. And if it were to snow again before next December, well, I won’t be happy. For now though, my winter coat and boots are packed and my shorts and sandals are front and center. I’m going to feed that fever for as long as I can!

 

 

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Introspective Blah, Blah

An undeniable restlessness lies within me, keeping me from complete contentment. I struggle to break free from everything and everyone that threatens to steal a piece of me.  The chasm between the woman I hope to be and the woman I am grows larger every day. Longing to run and run and run without looking back, searching for what’s missing, I falter. What am I searching for? What is it I am missing? Who am I kidding? I couldn’t run around the block without getting a major side cramp!  A little too deep even for me, sometimes my introspection gets a little out of control.

Although on the morning of my forty-second birthday, I can’t help reviewing the past, while hoping for what the future might bring. My past experiences, my past decisions all played a part into bringing me to this moment. They shaped me into who I am now – good or bad. If I had a do-over, would I make the same choices again? If I could go back in time as the person I am now instead of the person I was then, probably, but then I wouldn’t be who I am now. So…where does that leave? It leaves me in the present moment of right now. It leaves me struggling to be satisfied with who I am at this precise moment in time. It leaves me impatient. It leaves me wanting to be that better me right now, yet nostalgic for the past that has swept by remarkably fast. The minutes sometimes drag on forever, yet the years fly by so quickly I can hardly keep up. I only have to look at my children to realize that. A morning of clothes flying, insults hurling, and little girls screaming seems to go on forever. Yet it seems like only a minute ago I was cradling them in my arms as newborns.

So while I have set my goals for the next year in my life that I will strive to fulfill, my biggest challenge is to live in the present.  To embrace the woman I am right now, knowing that the “me” I am today is “enough” and through God’s strength nothing is impossible.  

Potty Talk

Poopy head. Pee-pee pants. Booty butt. Are you laughing yet? Does anyone find any of these phrases completely and utterly hysterical? Apparently my four-year old daughter does. These are three of her favorites these days. She’ll say them over and over and well over again. Much to the chagrin of my nine-year old and anyone else who happens to be in hearing distance. The more the nine-year old complains, the louder the four year gets. She turns the words into a song as she dances around the room.

I’ve tried to get her to stop without much luck. No sooner than the words “big tooter” or “booger girl” escape her mouth someone else laughs at her antics spurring her on. She finds herself to be quite a comedian. If she’s in the shower and water’s dripping off her arm or her sister’s chin, all of a sudden it’s peeing. If she peaks into the bedroom while I’m changing, she bursts into the “boobies” song. Yes, she has a boobies song. Don’t ask me. I know for a fact though that mine did not inspire this particular song.

The other day we were watching a movie. In this particular movie a dog, let a loud “fart” rip. She laughed so long and so hard I thought she was going to fall off the couch. It really wasn’t that funny. However, just listening to her laugh is contagious. She gets herself going and she can hardly breath. I always thought bathroom humor was a ‘boy’ thing. Not that it really need be; its just growing up I had a cousin, who happened to be a boy, who also had a fascination with all things pee, poop and belch. She hasn’t really spent much time with this cousin, but it does have me wondering if maybe instead of a gender thing, its genetic.

I don’t really find body noises or outputs particularly hilarious, I never have. I’ve learned to ignore my husband’s foray’s into this type of humor. If he farts loudly or belches, I pretend to ignore him. It only encourages him if I look at him in disgust or disdain. But with her, it is much harder to ignore. The ability to laugh that loudly and unabashedly at herself is a true gift. So the other morning when asks what me would happen if she blew a big fart that l loud on my bed, I hate to admit I encouraged her in her fart talk. I told her it would probably blow her all the way up to the ceiling. She doubled-over laughing, “that would really be funny, wouldn’t it Mom!” she asked. I agreed, it would be pretty funny indeed. So while you won’t hear me sing any songs involving pee, barf or burps anytime soon, I figure once in a while it’s better or at least more fun to join in the potty talk and have a good laugh than to crush her spirit with a timeout. Now if I could just get her to limit her songs and jokes to home, I would be all set! The only consolation I have for now is at least she doesn’t find the Three Stooges to be any funnier than I do.

Sleep Interrupted

“Are you going to sleep the whole day away?” I smile thinking about those words my late grandfather once uttered. I’d just rollover and put the pillow over my head and go back to sleep.  As a teenager and college, I could sleep for hours on end. It was nothing to stay out until one o’clock in the morning and sleep in until noon. These days I had to fight to stay awake just to ring in the New Year and sleeping in is 8 AM.

After becoming a mother, I now treasure and savor the precious commodity called sleep. Eight hours of uninterrupted Z’s? Pure bliss.  An afternoon nap? A slice of heaven. So when given the choice: Sleep or sex? Sex or sleep? I choose, sleep. Yes, most definitely sleep (sorry hubby, don’t take it personally; and I’m sure any male readers who might be reading this are glad they aren’t married to me).  In fact, I’d wager a lot of mother’s out there would concur that sleep wins over sex, diamonds or maybe even chocolate.  And it’s not that I don’t like those to other things, I do. I don’t want to sleep my life away by any means. It’s just that I get cranky when I don’t get my eight hours in.

I’d guess it’s been more than ten years since I’ve actually slept eight hours straight more than one night in a row (my oldest is nine and half and the sleep interruptions began when I was pregnant).  Chronic tiredness gets, well, tiring.  I hear the words “you look tired today” (AKA “you look like crap today”) more often than “you look smoking hot today” (not that I’d actually hear those words even if I weren’t tired, but a girl can dream). Yes, I know I look tired; I am tired. No amount of makeup can cover up the dark circles under my eyes.

Some of you may remember my quest to become a morning person. In doing so, I make sure I’m in bed by ten every night and I get up at five every morning. I know that’s only seven hours, but still better than before. In fact, after a few weeks, I actually felt less tired during the day; I was getting more done during my two hours of morning quiet and feeling pretty proud of myself.  Unfortunately my oldest put a kink in my morning-person quest. She’s developed a fear of sleeping alone. Having her sister in the room is not enough. It has to be an adult. It has to be me. Daddy isn’t good enough.

While most would think, her tactics a ploy, I can truly empathize with her fears. She recently saw a scary movie (at a church activity no less). I’m sure most kids wouldn’t find this particular movie that scary, but my nine-year old is sensitive. She sees a show on tornadoes; she can’t sleep.  She sees a show about a fire; she can’t sleep. We had to leave many a G movies because it was too scary for her. About an hour before bed she starts to feel sick to her stomach, anticipating being alone in the dark.  By the time its time to turn the lights off, she’s in full-blown panic mode; racing heart, hysterical crying, nausea, cold sweats.

I know what that feels like all too well. I’d do must anything to avoid those feelings myself. So when what alleviates her fears and gives me the opportunity to sleep myself (as opposed to fighting with her all night about sleeping alone), is to sleep with her, I do. I know she should be able to sleep by herself. I’ve tried leaving a light on (she can’t sleep with a light on) or checking on her every ten minutes, but the nights drag on and on and neither of us get any sleep. So now the compromise is, I lay with her until she falls asleep and then I move to my bed. Of course this shoots my whole in bed asleep by ten all to hell as she takes forever to actually fall asleep. When I try to sneak out, she immediately sits up and begs me to stay.

So my sleep-deprived self just wants to say what difference does it make if I sleep with her all night? Why does she have to sleep alone? Is there really a point to forcing her to sleep alone? She’ll outgrow the need for me to sleep with her eventually. Right? Is it wrong to just want to get some sleep anyway I can?

Of course my husband wants her sleep alone, by herself, in her own room as soon as possible. He wants me to sleep with him for some odd reason. So, I’ve come up with the perfect solution…we get a bigger bed and we all sleep together!  Sigh. Somehow I don’t think he’ll go for that. Back to the drawing board and dark circles…

2%, 1%, Skim – What’s the Diff?

A couple of weeks ago, my four-year-old started complaining about the “yucky pink milk” at her preschool. Pink milk? I thought. Had the school suddenly started serving strawberry milk or something? Not likely. They don’t even serve chocolate milk. Maybe they switched brands or something. Or maybe my daughter is actually a milk connoisseur and her young palate could actually discern the intricacies and nuances of various flavors and brands of milk… Nah, she’s probably just going through some non-milk drinking phase or maybe the school just got a “bad batch” that week.

I felt hypocritical telling her to just drink her milk, because it is “good for you.”  Especially, when I myself am not an avid milk drinker myself. Sorry diary farmers of America – I do enjoy yogurt, cheese and ice cream – it’s just milk I’m not fond of – unless of course it is over a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles or Count Chocula.

“Why don’t you ask for some water or juice instead?” I advised her.

“They won’t let me,” she pouted and stomped.

“Just take a ‘No Thank You’ sip,” I offered another solution.

“No……..” she wailed as we made our way to her classroom. The tantrum was about to begin. I smiled to myself after leaving her in the capable hands of her teacher. At least I wouldn’t have to deal with her mood for now.

However, after a few days of the milk ordeal, I finally asked the teacher what was up with the milk. “Did you guys change milk or something?” I asked.

Sure enough, they had. After the last state inspection, the inspector informed the director that the milk laws had changed. The school couldn’t serve 2% milk to the preschoolers any more. The new regulations called for either skim or 1%. They started off with the “pink” capped milk, which equated to skim milk.  No wonder she didn’t like the pink milk. White water. The teacher explained that they have now switched to the “purple” cap or 1% instead. The kids are much happier as it tastes almost like 2% (I guess – I’ve never had a milk sampling).

So, the reason for this milk law change? According to one of the teachers, they changed the milk standards to fight childhood obesity. Huh. Who would have thought 1% would make that much of a difference? Maybe cutting back on the candy, cupcakes, cookies, chips and chicken nuggets might, but milk? Really?

I don’t think 1% milk even existed when I was a kid. If only I’d been able to drink 1% as a kid, I wouldn’t be struggling with my weight now! I could have prevented the weight gain that came along with having two children, and well life, if only I’d had 1% milk as a kid. I could be super-model thin, if it weren’t for 2% milk. Lucky for my kids, that won’t happen to them! Now enlightened about 1% milk, they can be assured to avoid obesity! The 2% is now banished from our fridge. From now it is 1% all the way! It is only a matter of time before I am the envy of all my friends – wearing a size 3. But wait…I forgot…I don’t even drink milk. Too bad for me. I guess…I’ll  have to go back to the less food, more exercise method for weight loss. Big sigh. If only it were as easy switching to 1%.

Clowder Troubles

Clowder? No that isn’t a typo. I didn’t mean chowder. I actually meant clowder. What is a clowder, you might ask? A clowder is a group of adult domestic cats. How do I know this? Why Google of course.

We have six cats in our clowder. And no, I am not one of those eccentric cat women that has multitudes of cats running a muck in her home. In fact, up until a couple of years ago, I never particularly even liked cats. I was always more of a dog kind of girl (meaning that I liked dogs, not so much that I look like a dog although there are some who may disagree.) Growing up, we always had a dog. We never had a cat, ever. My mother had a fear of them, and I may have inherited that fear from her. Cats have always had a devious, evil look in their eyes. The kind of look that made you think they’d eat you if you were smaller than them. They slunk around, stalking and pouncing.

In fact, I remember one the first dates I had with my husband back in the day (way back). We’d gone to dinner and went back to his place to talk (And yes, we actually were talking. I wasn’t that kind of girl either). As I sat back in a chair I let one of my arms dangle over the edge. I remember being nervous, but I was just starting to relax a little when out of no where his cat Claude attacked my arm. I jumped out the chair to find the inside of my wrist scratched and bleeding. It stung, a lot. My husband (prospective boyfriend at the time) was very apologetic. He thought it was my perfume that caused the unwanted attention from his beloved pet. Thinking back, maybe it was a sign… I didn’t let his cat scare me off… But, from then on I was very wary of his cat and stopped wearing perfume.

That experience along with a couple other interactions with a couple of other deviant cats (you know who you are:)) had always made me leery of cats. The weird part is, it seems that cats can sense my fear or dislike of their swarthy breed and seem to swarm me. If I’m at a cat loving friends’, it never fails I find their rubbing on my legs or sneaking up next to me, waiting for me to put my guard down I think.

So why might I have six cats? Well its really not my fault in the least. You see over the course of several summers, I new kitten has adopted us and become part of this clowder that mouses the barns and fields around my home. A sucker for the sweet meow and two little girls that adore kittens, we have allowed them to adopt us.

The first appeared almost five years ago. Named by my oldest daughter, “Alice” after her favorite show at the time “Angelina Ballerina.” Alice being Angelina’s best friend. A big fluffy gray tiger, he rubbed up against my daughter’s legs and purred.

“Can we keep her, Mom?” she asked. I sighed. It was early spring and still snow on the ground.

“She probably has a home somewhere around here,” I said looking around to a couple of houses in the distance. “If he’s still around tomorrow, we’ll give her some food.” Of course the cat was still hanging out by the garage the next day and the next. So, we bought a couple bowls and some dry cat food. My husband decided that if we were going to feed the cat, we should also get it vet care as well. The cat was limping a bit as well.

At the vet, we found out the Alice was actually a boy cat. Go figure. But, his name had already stuck. He was already Alice. I know, I know, how could I not tell the difference between a boy cat and girl cat?  You see the thing the private parts of a boy cat don’t seem to be as obvious as say the boy parts of a horse or a dog…

Over the next few summers our group of cats grew. It seemed a new kitten appeared. It didn’t make much sense to me as each new one came, the girls would coddle and cuddle them. My husband would insist we take them to the vet.  And so all but the one cat in our clowder we cannot catch, have been fixed and have their shots. (Hmmm. Maybe the vet is tipping people off that our road is good place to drop off stray kittens…) We have (lucky) Penny, Groucho (who has a groucho-like mustache), Perry the Catypus (the uncatchable one, who has had two litters this past summer although only one kitten survived (now called Two Socks)), and Kit Kit (the beloved, lovable kitten that stole everyone’s hearts two summer’s ago.) Kit Kit also turned out to be a boy cat as Perry who we thought was a boy turned out to be a girl (as evidence by her propensity to get with kitten even though all are boy cats could not possibly be the dad.).

Kit Kit is super-friendly and loving. My youngest carries him around by his tail, his head and  any other place she can grab him. She pets him and pushes him around in her stroller. And he let’s her. Without a care in the world. He just lies there and goes limp. He doesn’t run when he spots her. He comes up to her and rubs her legs.

So the trouble began earlier this week on my way to work. Imagine that icky sick feeling you get when you see something unpleasant. That is the exact feeling I had when we pulled out of the driveway and I saw a furry lump lying in the road. My heart sank along with my stomach. It looked like Kit Kit from a distance. The girls immediately started to go hysterical as I turned the van back around.  The wind was blowing and a slushy snow was pelting down. I pulled over to the side of the road and cautiously. Made my way to the lifeless lump. It was a black and white cat that looked a lot like Kit Kit or Groucho. They look a lot a like except for their faces. Great. I gently move the cat. He was still warm. Ugh.It must have just happened. “Who is it” I could her the girls crying.

“I’m not sure,” I called back. And I wasn’t. The injury to the cat made it impossible to see the markings on his face. Great, I thought. I was already running behind and wasn’t quite sure what to do. I mean it was obvious the cat was already dead. But a glance back at the girls, I knew I couldn’t just leave that cat lying in the road to get run over again and again. So I carefully pick the cat up out of the road. Yes, I couldn’t believe it myself. I was actually picking up a dead cat with my bare hands (thank God for hand sanitizer) and moved him under some bushes out of view.  It was then out of the corner of my eye that I saw Kit eating the kibble on the driveway. That was quite a relief. It had to be Groucho.

The mood in the van was somber. Poor Groucho. My oldest daughter lamented over the past cats we have lost, including the one that I accidentally ran over in the garage. I silently thanked God I wasn’t the cat killer this time.

“I even prayed to God last night to keep my family and the cats safe,” she continued. “Wait. Oh No,” she said. “It was the rabbits I prayed for. I forgot the cats!”  I reassured her that her omission didn’t cause poor Groucho to get hit. He’s a barn cat. Stuff happens.

They rest of the day my heart was heavy thinking about the prospect of going home and burying one of our best mousers. As I pulled in the driveway, our clowder was waiting for us to feed them.  There was Alice, Kit Kit, Two Socks and Groucho! If that was Groucho and Kit Kit, then who was that cat under the bushes? Only Penny and Perry were missing. Not Penny I thought.

I went to take a look. Because of the rain and fur, it was really tough to discern. The cat really didn’t look like either one of them. Hmmm. We’d have to wait until my husband got home. We cover the cat in a towel and place him in a cardboard box. I brought the box into the garage because it was getting dark.

Later that night, my husband and I stood around the box. He took one look at the laid out cat. “That’s not our cat,” he said.

“Really?”

“Really. It is probably that tom that kept knocking up Perry,” he said.

We went inside to tell the girls the good news. We at least the good news for Penny and Perry. Not so good for the unnamed cat in the garage.

As the week has passed, we have accounted for all our cats, except Perry. I haven’t seen her around nor have the girls. My husband claims he’s seen her, but I kind of wonder… I’m keeping my eye out for her. Maybe she is just out and about find a new lover. I’m sure we’ll find out this spring.

And that is the end of my cat troubles for now. I never thought I’d care about a bunch of cats, but somehow they have become part of the family.

Alone At Last

The house is quiet. No one is whining or arguing or screeching. The TV is not blaring, nor is it even on. No music, no vacuuming, dish washer hum or clanking of the dryer, the wind isn’t even blowing. The only sounds I hear are the permanent ringing in my left ear, the taping of my fingers on the keyboard as I write and the occasional car drive down my desolate country road. More bliss. Alone at last with only my thoughts to keep me company.

It had been over four months since I last found myself in this wonderful predicament. And now for the second time in three days, I find my self totally and completely alone in my own home. Yeah me!!!  Thursday I took advantage of the fact that the girls still had one more day of school before the holiday break and my husband had to work, and took a vacation day. What did I do with my short-term freedom you might ask? Did I sleep until noon and then take a nap at 3, stay in my pajamas all day, read the next romance in the series, take a luxurious,soothing bath, dance naked through the halls singing Jingle Bell Rock (sorry for the visual there), eat chocolate ice cream as I painted my toenails pink? Sigh, alas I did not, but I could have, if I wanted to, and no one would be the wiser.

Instead, though I finished the last-minute Christmas shopping, bought groceries and wrapped all the presents. You might not think those three things would take that much time…but after I dropped the kids off at school at 8, it was almost 11:00 by the time I got done running errands. I did at least indulge in some cinni-minis from Burger King. After putting the groceries away, I started the daunting wrapping task. I drug all the presents, paper, ribbons, tape and scissors into the living room. What a pile it was. At this point I almost did go back to bed for that nap! But to encourage myself, I popped in the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie (at least I would have Jack Sparrow to keep me company) and went about the task.

Even though I had two pairs of scissors, three rolls of tape and a couple of pens it seemed I was always searching for one or the other. How they could manage to hide and move was beyond me – I think my daughter’s “Elf” may have been messing with me. In the end though, the wrapping was done and so was the shopping. I glanced at the clock and realized it was already almost 4 o’clock. I had still had to stop by work and pick up the last of the online presents I bought due to be shipped by the end of the day and then get the kids. Damn-I hadn’t even started my cleaning frenzy…

And thus my alone time end. So, today I find myself with a second chance at aloneness. The kids spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s and my husband went hunting with his dog.  Hmmm…what to do, what to do. As you can tell by now I have not started my cleaning frenzy yet nor am I sleeping in. I am procrastinating by blogging instead… I know I should vacuum and dust and mop and clean the toilets, but well as my daughters would say…”That’s not fair!” Why should I have to do all the cleaning, while everyone else is having fun. The house can stay dusty for one more day, week, month, year.

I think I will dance nak… Just kidding, I can’t even subject myself to that, but maybe I will stick Just Dance into the Wii and do a little clothed “Hammer Time!”  Can’t Touch This….

Happy Holidays!

S