Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Things I've learned today and an Elf party

You never save money on the cheap wrapping paper.

If you are going to buy rain boots from one of the bargain shopping sites, make sure you actually know your child's foot size.

Your child with impulse control problems will open all the windows on the Lego advent calendar if you are stupid enough to leave it where they can reach it.

Cats are better at unwrapping than wrapping.

No matter how well you keep track, you will buy two of the same toy at least once every year.

When the Elf decides to have a party in the middle of your family room, he should make sure it isn't on the day you are planning to do your wrapping, if that is where you wrap your presents.*

*Every time Noah left the room this afternoon I moved a piece on the board and changed the die. He couldn't believe more if Nelson stood up and started talking to him.

I LOVE this part of Christmas!

Messing with your kids minds for the win!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lightening things up with a visit to Santa!

Yesterday, we took the boys to Springfield Mall to see Santa. The mall offered us free pictures plus a very nice gift bag and some gift certificates so I jumped at the chance. I rarely have a chance anymore to take advantage of mom blog events, so I was thrilled we could do this one.

We had "fast pass" access (yes, I did feel guilty when I saw how long the line was), and it was awesome!

Noah pretty much raced up to Santa and plopped himself down right between his legs, leaving no room for Kiel. I got him rearranged and Kiel settled and then smiles and clicks and we had two photos to choose from. While I picked the pic, Santa asked what they wanted for Christmas.

Noah wants 50 pounds of bubble gum in his stocking. Pink. With red dye. Santa got a chuckle out of that one.*

Kiel wants Transformers.

After we recieved our pictures (again, thanks Springfield Mall for the full package, plus a $20 gift card to Shutterfly!) Rich and I split up with the kids to help them do their Christmas shopping. I took Kiel first and we quickly took care of his present for Rich. Then we wandered through several stores (including a dollar store and the Disney store where Kiel found lots of things he wanted so he thought they would be perfect for Noah). 

Eventually we ended up at Target, where we ran into Rich and Noah. Noah took me through the toy aisles to show me a few things he liked, then Kiel and I went back and I worked hard at steering Kiel to toys Noah liked, not toys Kiel wanted. I have some work to do with Kiel on what gift giving means. 

We finally finished our mission and Rich took everything to pay while I took the boys back into the mall to wait. It was insanely busy in Target in the toy area and I may have had a mini anxiety attack where I told Rich I had to get the f*&k out of there and got a little bossy about what we were going to do next. OK fine, the bossy part had nothing to do with the anxiety. I'm just bossy.

See behind the boys into the entrance of Target? I tried to take the cart out in my rush to get away from all the peoples. Alarms went off. Then the cart wouldn't move. Something in the floor(?) locked the wheels or did something so I couldn't push the cart forward. I got a little flustered. Noah saved me. 

Well, actually, I grabbed my purse and bag of goodies and pretty much shoved the cart to Noah to take back into the store. I was proud of him. He managed his mother well in her moment of crisis.

Yes, this is how I felt then. And no, the picture above it is not of the boys comforting each other while they waited for Rich to save them. I'm shocked you would even think that.

After that we went to Carrabba's Italian Grill for dinner. I had a blackberry sangria and life was good. Our waiter thought the boys were great (despite, maybe because of?, the shoe and sock that went flying out of the booth and the under-booth wrestling that followed I was too busy looking at the drinks menu to notice). He didn't even blink when I told him I needed something big and fruity to drink - just recommended the sangria.

Our dinner was great and both boys shared their chocolate sundaes with us at the end. 

Then Noah and I went to Macy's to pick out a tie for Rich (shhh...don't tell him, I want it to be a surprise). I had to explain to Noah that it might make his dad a little uncomfortable if he bought him a Christmas tie, considering he was Jewish. So then Noah decided to pick out a tie that looked Jewish. I don't quite know what he considers "Jewish looking," but he found several that he felt met the criteria. He has good taste. (I did have to tell him not to bother looking at the Don.ald Tru.mp table, because we were boycotting The Don.ald. He didn't even roll his eyes at me, he just moved on.)

On our way out to meet Rich and Kiel we went past the makeup counters. One of them had very loud music playing. I commented to Noah that I really must be getting old, because there was no way I could pick out makeup with music playing that loud. 

He laughed and said "Mom, you aren't old, you'll never be old. You can do anything." (And that Noah, is why you are my favorite child!)

It was a great afternoon and we all enjoyed ourselves. I'm very appreciative of Springfield Mall for the invitation and all the goodies. I don't think we would have taken the boys to see Santa this year (because I'm cheap about paying for pictures of Santa and will do anything not to go to a mall during the holidays) if it hadn't been for this offer.

*Santa better come through on this one. Noah still talks about the year he was three and he asked Santa for a Chick race car from the Cars movie. His request to Santa that year was the first we heard him mention Chick, and when we checked into it we realized Chick was the "mean" car in the movie, so we didn't get it for him. We got him a bunch of other cars that year, but not Chick. Who knew he would still remember that six years later. Just another awesome parenting moment. Oy.


Friday, December 14, 2012

When reality goes beyond the imaginable.

Today started out like most Fridays. Kiel snuggled in bed with me until my alarm sounded, telling me it was time to make sure Noah was ready for the school bus. A quick shower for me, a final check of Noah to make sure he was clean, grabbing clothes for Kiel to change into before we leave for his speech therapy. And then, the bus comes and I tell Noah I love him and to have a good day as I gently steer him out the door. Blowing kisses to him and waving as the bus pulls away. Knowing I will be there at 3:35pm to great him when the bus brings him home.

And the bus did bring him home at 3:35pm and the three of us rushed off to get the boys hair cut in preparation for our visit with Santa tomorrow.

But as I sat and checked email on my phone while the stylist cut their hair, I read about the tragedy in Newtown, CT. It suddenly hit me that there were families (20 if latest reports are correct) that did not get to pick up their children from school today, or greet them as they climbed off the bus.

It is beyond my comprehension. It makes me physically ill to even consider something like that happening to Noah or Kiel. It's like my brain won't let me think in that direction. Road block constructed. Don't go there!

But we have to go there don't we? As parents we have to think about these things? If we don't think about them, if we don't consider how we can prevent things like this from happening again, it could be our kids that don't come home the next time.

We must have better gun control. I believe in the intent of the 2nd amendment, but I also believe we can have common sense gun regulations. You are going to have a very difficult time convincing me that anyone in the general public needs access to a semi-automatic weapon. Or that 20 more kids wouldn't be alive today if someone with two semi-automatic pistols and a civilian version of a military rifle never had access to those weapons. It doesn't matter to me, or to the families of those 20 children I bet, that those guns were legally obtained by someone other than the shooter.

I am sickened, just sickened, tonight as I see people on Facebook adamantly denying that there should be gun regulations. The fact is guns kill people. Guns are designed to kill.

It saddens me that this will again become a political issue. This isn't a political issue. This is a safety issue. A life issue. Guns do kill people. Period. And it is never too soon after a tragedy like this to start the discussion, because it can't continue like this.

(As an aside, this is an interesting article about the lack of available guns in Japan that was written last summer. FYI - I haven't "fact checked" it.)

And as important, maybe more important, we also need better, more comprehensive, and more accessible medical mental health care. Have any of the shooters in our recent history not had a psychiatric condition that someone was concerned about somewhere in their past?

I worry about Noah's mental health every day. Any time a tragedy like this occurs I can't help but think "what if it was my son." And as much as I worry that it could be Noah or Kiel in the wrong place at the wrong time, I mean, what if it was my son that did something like this? What if I'm not getting Noah enough help? I have had to fight for every piece of assistance we have received, and I'm not convinced we have done enough. What if we didn't have the strength to fight for the help we have received? Or the knowledge to know how to do it? 

Tonight Noah was mad at Kiel for something, and mad at me because I turned off the TV and separated the two of them. He went to his desk and started to loudly draw. I asked him what he was drawing. Killing people he said.

I'm still finding it hard to breathe.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

Pharmaceutically optimized

Last summer I had lunch with one of my favorite "out-laws," the wife of Rich's cousin. We try to get together for at least one lunch every summer the last couple years. It is such a treat to spend time with her.

During our lunch I mentioned how much better I was feeling since I started seeing a new psychiatrist and adjusting my antidepressant meds. Next thing I know we were joking about how great it was to be "pharmaceutically optimized" and what a great term that was.

Well, it's still holding true for me. Emotionally/mentally I'm feeling good. Actually, I think I'm feeling normal. It's just been so long since I've felt that, if I've ever felt that, that I'm not completely sure I am able to recognize normal.

One thing that has me realizing I'm doing well is that I'm actually cleaning my house. I think it's fair to say since Kiel was born I really haven't put much effort into cleaning at all. There are many areas of the house that are out of control. To the point where I am embarrassed to have people over.

Last spring my friend Bella helped me do an emergency cleaning of Kiel's bedroom (still the guestroom at the time) and the bathroom and laundry room, because of my parents visit.

At Thanksgiving I decided I needed to get control of the main floor of the house since we had invited friends over for a Hanukkah dinner in a couple weeks. And I am! Which is pretty huge for me. History has shown me complaining about the mess, making a start to clean it up, and never quite finishing it. With one or two fits during the process about how no one helps and I'm sick of having to be responsible for everything.

I've made my way 3/4 around the family room, all through the dining room/formal living room, breakfast nook, and am now sorting through the office. I still have to deep clean the powder room and try to repaste some wallpaper to the wall. And I have to do the kitchen, which is the part that has me a bit overwhelmed.

My goal was to have it all done before next weekend when our friends are coming for a Hanukkah dinner. I'm not going to get it all done. I need to be OK with that and just be happy with how much I have accomplished. And proud of getting off my ass and actually doing it.

It feels very good to look around and see less clutter and more shining surfaces!

The crazy part is trying to do this at the same time I'm trying to get ready for Christmas with all of it's responsibilities.

Now, if only I could get the boys in my house to buy in to the good feeling of having a neat house.