Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Be Free Little Butterfly

One of the wonderful things about kids is that ANYTHING can be a pet. A rock, a shoe, a stuffed animal, even a little brother and sister. We have pets, a dog and three fish to be exact, although Momma is missing the melodious tones of purring, but I digress, the official statement is "We have enough animals".

I pick up the Divine Miss "E" from school and she promptly runs me over to her cubbie. Which of course is full with sweaters, sweatshirts, artwork and funny enough something quite large and shiny. Hmmm, what could she be working on today?

"Momma, I want to show you something."
What do you have?
"Look, look, I have a caterpillar! Can I pleeeeeasssse take him home?"
Viewing the 2 pie tin enclosure with a paper towel, one leaf and an inch and a half caterpillar, well sleeping I guess on the side. I think he would be happier here. We could let him go outside on one of the bushes, I am sure he will be happy here.
"No, pleasssssse I want to take him home, he is my pet."
Emma, you have pets, Daisy, the fish, your brother and sister.
"Momma please, I will take care of him."
Ok, but put the 2 pie tin enclosure on the seat in the back of the van and please do not tell your brother and sister. They can look at him at home.
"Alright Momma."

Everyone gets into the van, seat belts clicked, journey homeward begins. Now the 2 pie tin enclosure, and I am being very generous with this description, is in the lap of a very proud pet caterpillar owner.

It takes a half hour to get home, 25 minutes of an a Capella round house, punk rock version of "Sing, Sing a Song" by the kids, thinking wow, this caterpillar may make it into the house after all and not into the van.

Then I hear five minutes from home, the 26th minute of 30 minute trip home, "Momma"
"I need to tell you something"
What do you need to tell me. All the while knowing what she is going say.
"Uhm, I was sitting in my seat and I was holding the plates and well I dropped the caterpillar"

Free, one desperate caterpillar with one leaf for nourishment in the van planning his Steve McQueen Great Escape from the hole. I think I saw a little ball and glove on the floorboard.

The Simple Things

The daily grind of work, school, meals and bath time often numbs the mind to the more spectacular things in life. I recently found myself in the midsts of this trail blazing grind and was completely taken aback spellbound by my child's words. Wow, they can really take you for a spin, and what is truly amazing about these little people who have taken over my world is their unconditional love. That's right, unconditional love. I hear the words come out of my mouth but sometimes I wonder if I really know what that means. I have a strong suspicion a child has a better understanding of what unconditional love is than an adult. If ever I doubt my reason for living I just need to look into the 3 pairs of little eyes to get a reminder.

Getting back to the story, I was helping Emma get ready for bed, we read a story and as I was getting up to put her book away I hear the voice.

"Momma, I like your body."

I froze, turned around with a puzzled look. What? You like my body?

"Yes, Momma I love you."

I am stunned, and there it is laid out for me. She loves me, unconditionally. She does not care what I look like, she just wants to be tickled and hugged. She does not care I am not famous actor she just wants me to read to her in funny voices and pretend that I am Uncle Homer. The point of all of this is that my kids love me. They love me for the hugs and kisses, they love me for the meals, they love me for the baths, they love me for the running outside, they love me for the continuity of their schedule, they love me despite the discipline. They just love me, and I just LOVE them.

Sometimes the simple things are the greatest rewards.

Friday, September 14, 2007

If Only...

I wish I had her powers of cuteness. I would like to introduce my first version of the Abbie Twinkle Fairy Series. OOOOOH how I wish I had one kick butt computer at home! My goal is to make them look real.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

When did kids become an absolute?

Recently, and believe me it is still stinging my eyes, one of my kids was labeled to be sent home this week. Your question is "What happened?" This is my story, and granted this situation is not a dire as most but I am still mad as a hornet.

I brought the kids to school, all is well until a phone call at 2:30 in the afternoon stating one of my small children has had an BM episode which soiled his clothes. Why pretty it up? He had a diarrhea episode. You know those mystical moments where a child's body for it's own reason has expunged what ever it did not want. Usually only one and then he moves onto bigger and better things. Kids, you never know what to expect and least of all try to mom diagnose why it has happened. Mostly I have ideas or theories but no solid proof.

So back to the phone call......
Please come and pick up your child.
I say I can not, and the other caretakers are unavailable. What is the problem?
Well he has had a diarrhea episode and you need to pick him up.
Does he have a fever?
Has he been eating?
Is he playing?
Is his demeanor changed from his normal personality?
Is he drinking?
Has he had another episode of diarrhea?
So why is he asked to go home? I was told if the diarrhea continued after one episode the child would have to go home. What happened?
It is our policy to sent kids home if they have diarrhea, because they are sick.

That is where the absolutism has arrived with both feet on my throat. I ask various questions in regard to past policy, explaining I do understand the kids must be protected from illness, however if he is not exhibiting any signs of illness in the past two hours, he is booted after the first "infringement"? Unbending and relentless are they to have me take my kid home. Not only did I receive one phone call, I received a second phone call from an even less informed manager. Same questions, and she thought I was supposed to be there to pick him up. I said have you even walked over to see him? She says no. Have you spoke to the other manager? No. Clearly no communication is taking place other than me quickly becoming irate. Don't placate me, I want honest answers. Even those answers I do not like I will accept if you are not trying to placate me with bull crap. I don't believe I am that unreasonable.

The next phase of this absolutism is the first manager trying to snow ball me into believing that she is not diagnosing my child as sick but when she smelt the odor from the diarrhea it smelt as though he was sick. I said you can't have it both ways, you tell me in the same breath you are not qualified to diagnose but you say it smelled of a sick child. At this point the kids probably should not sneeze for fear of going home. What happened to judgment? What happened to reviewing each situation for what it is? What happened to service?

As a parent of multiple children my workload ( I am not saying any other mom's workload is less, just different and just as important) is tripled, the necessity of having regular attendance at my job is important. I have no room for trivial or frivolous phone calls from caretakers who do not have the sense to look at the whole child and make a educated decision. Kids are not absolute in deed nor in health therefore policies in service industries should have a bit of wiggle room within reason. Look at each situation and evaluate, use the gifts that God gave you, well maybe I should say not everyone took the phone call that day when the sense was handed out, and learn about my kid. I do not bring sick children to school intentionally. I admit sometimes I miss the mark, but my point is every situation is different.

I am working up the courage to sit down with the director to voice my concerns as a parent and someone who pays a lot of money for service. I expect excellent service, not people who shuffle my children to others because they are bothered by the little surprises kids often leave for caretakers.

Anyway, this does not even come close to the whole story. Just frustrated and mad.

How can you let this little face go home?

This is him writing his novel.

Friday, September 7, 2007

I needed a good laugh today

My friend and I have frequent conversations about things that make us laugh. One of the many things are creative advertising. With all the garbage that is on TV today, there are very few things make me really chuckle, belly laugh, or for those who have the fortunate experience, SNORT.

So please enjoy.

Actually they are Pan Troglodytes

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

To All My Wonderful Mom Friends - and my Mom

A coworker sent this message to me. I do not know who initially wrote the passage but I feel it is very appropriate to share with my friends. So please enjoy.

To All My Wonderful Mom Friends - and my Mom

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte, With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.'

And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, Mom!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Just Kid Photos

They are my little joys.

Mini getaway

Well I tried. I am missing my Ethel (Ethel I am truly missing your smiling face, I need to get together with you, coffee?), so I tried to put my Lucy scheme into place by trying to put a beach trip for Emma, Ethan and Abbie together on the mother of all travel weekends, Memorial Day weekend.

Enter Scene. midday Friday afternoon, phone call to the husband

"Bri can you call some places and find us a room near Half Moon Bay, I know there is a crunch but if there is anything close, I really want to take the kids out of town and bring them to the beach."
"Sure, let me make some phones calls."
"Great! Thank you, I will see if mom would like to go."

End of day, home.

"Bri did you check the rooms?"
"Are you going to check the rooms?"
Exasperated sigh "YES!"

End Scene.

So the short of it is I looked for a room, booked a room, packed the kids, sort of packed myself, since we don't have a printer hooked up to the computer(it has been nine months) I took pictures of the confirmation number and directions with the camera phones, got up at the crack of dawn, no shower (others did take the time for showers), dressed the kids, feed the kids, put them in the car.

The physical items I gathered for the trip was brought to the front door by me and he packed the stuff in the van. The difference between these events is this, I had to go through and make individual lists of contingencies for clothing, sleep wear, how many diapers and wipes would be needed, food supplies, sleeping arrangements, tooth brushes, hair accessories, things for walking, things for playing, the list goes on and on. Once this stuff is gathered it is put into the van. There isn't a lot of planing involved, mostly arranging for space but solving that problem is much simpler.

Disgruntled by questions of "did you bring ______ (fill in the blank)?" Instantly I am defensive and feel if there is something you thought should be brought then I feel you should have made sure it made it into the van. All the while I am saying to myself just put it aside, this trip is for the kids, not me (well, a little for me), no fighting.

Things went pretty well for the first day and a half, we got to the hotel, a nice one I might add (Thanks Hotwire), found a grocery store, kids napping, beach fun ensued. Woke up the next day, got kids ready, ate breakfast, packed the car, made a plan to go to the zoo instead and low and behold the whole trip fell apart. Just as we were walking out the door, the kids were antsy and excited which to some people mimics being undisciplined.

I am here to say it is not, my kids are not perfect but they are disciplined. If you are a parent who is plugged into your kids you will know the difference. Where I failed in this process is making the other parent aware their perception of the behavior was not accurate. I am the voice for my children when others do not understand them. I failed in that duty and as a consequence my children did not get to experience a awe filled day with animals they will never see in their backyard.

The selfishness in thinking "I want these kids to be disciplined and stop crying or we are not leaving this room" and laying an ultimatum to small children who barely understand the concept of patience for anything is pure shite. It is selfishness, pettiness, and putting your tantrum above and beyond what is best for the kids. If you have a bone to pick with me, the kids should not have to suffer the tirade of one parent to another. This vacation was about them, not the parents, it was all about the kids. I am disappointed in myself as a parent that I did not defend my children's vacation. I am disappointed in myself as a parent that I did not defend my children's behavior adequately. I am disappointed in the children's other parent for putting himself before the children. I am disappointed in the children's other parent for not recognizing their behavior of excitement as being undisciplined. All I can say is plug into their lives in a positive manner.

After all of this is said, I do have some happy kid pictures I would like to share.