I had a mind once. Now I have small children.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Across the Plains

Aaaahhh, the family road trip. There really is nothing quite like it, is there? There is just something so magical about stuffing your entire family into a small space with 80% of your belongings and enough food for an army for several hours on end. Wait. Did I say magical? I think what I meant was completely insane.

We are lucky enough to do this family drive across the country several times a year. When I married Bowser, he insisted we move to his home town. Which just happens to be about 800 miles from my hometown. The compromise? We have to make the trek a few times a year to see my family. No biggie before we had kids. Now, I think he may regret the decision. You see, my family lives in a beautiful, lush, green part of the country and we live in a lovely mountainous part of the country. In between, however, is the MOST BORING part of the country. Which makes for a long drive. Especially with 3 young goombas. Even in a mini-van loaded with treats and portable dvd players.

Here is how it usually goes down...
We like to start at 3 a.m. I know that sounds crazy, but after years of doing this, we have discovered that this really works the best. It takes about 12 hours of actual driving time. Each child has added about an hour of stopping time. So, it takes us around 14-15 hours to get there. If we leave later in the morning, we don't get there til late at night, which means wired kids that have dozed in the car all day. Not good. So, we leave early, get there at a normal time and everyone goes to bed at their regular hour. And now that I have used up an entire paragraph on why we leave early, let's move on.

We leave at 3 a.m. The van is packed the night before. Bowser and I wake up, get ready, put the last of the stuff in the van and then get the kids up. The plan is always to wake them just enough to go to the potty/change diapers and put them in the car, but usually they are so excited that they pop their little eyes open and are wide awake. We load up, get snuggled into our seats with our loveys and blankies and hit the open road.

About 30 seconds into the drive, I realize I forgot something. We turn around, I run in the house to grab what I need and we are on the road again. I put some soft music on the iPod to lull the kiddos back to sleep. Yeah right. Before we reach the highway, Mario says, "So, how long is this trip going to be?" We tell him 15 hours. "So, we will be there before the sun comes up?" Ummmm....No. Longer than that. Much longer. Then Luigi yells, "I want Booful!" This is his favorite song ("Your Beautiful" by James Blunt) and I have listened to it about 3 trillion times. So, I lie and say that I don't have it on the iPod. First tantrum of the day ensues. Around this time, Peach throws her bottle at the back of Bowser's seat and then screams because she doesn't have her bottle. I climb in the back of the van the first of about 10,000 times for the day. We are not even on the highway at this point. Finally, after about an hour and a half, everyone starts to doze off, including me.

Fast forward about 2 hours. I start to wake up when Bowser starts throwing sunflower seeds at me. I can't understand why, but he seems to be a little ticked off that I just fell asleep for 2 hours while he was driving. The goombas sense that I have awakened and immediately begin to demand things. "I'm hungry!" "I want a dvd!" "Milk, milk, milk!" "Donuts? Where donuts, Mommy?" "I dropped my Blankie." "He's touching me!" "Waaaaaaaaahhh!!!" I don't know why I even bother to sit in the front seat with Bowser. I am about to spend the entire day climbing back and forth over the seats in the van.

People tell me we should play games to keep the time going fast. The problem is, all of those games you play in the car, like "I spy," or the "Alphabet game" don't work. Because there is nothing to look at in the middle of nowhere-flat-grassy-plains-mid-west!!! So, we resort to dvd's and listening to the iPod. And I climb over the front seat and pick up a blanket. Then over again to grab someone a juice box. Then again to pick up Luigi's toy that Mario threw to the back. And then once more to get the sunflower seeds for Bowser. The again because Peach lost her paci. Oh, and again because...well, I'm sure you get the point I am trying to make here. Finally the kids settle in with their movies and things calm down for a bit.

When we stop for gas, food and potty breaks, we try to find kid friendly places where they can run around and stretch their little legs. This is not easy on this particular stretch of road. We are lucky if we can find a restroom without poop smeared in the walls and one of the toilets overflowing. Finding one with a changing table is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Nearly impossible. We usually end up changing Peach's and Luigi's diapers in the van. Then I take Mario into the restroom with me where I scream in a strangled, high-pitched voice to "please for the love of all things holy, do NOT touch anything!" Then I douse them all in a gallon of Purell.

We play some stretching games, run a couple of relays, and pile back into the car. This part requires serious gymnastics and contorting of the bodies to climb through the massive explosion of mess in the van. Then it is back on the road and another round of climbing over seats, arguing over dvd's, throwing cookies and goldfish and Bowser ignoring it all in his happy little driver's seat.

Finally, after 14 1/2 long hours we arrive. Woo hoo! We all jump out of the car as fast as we can, and leave the doors and windows open. This step is essential. When you cram 5 bodies (2 that wear diapers) into a confined area for that long, you are going to have some serious smell issues coming from said space. Zaza and Papa smother everyone with kisses and the children run around like maniacs. Papa will thrust a glass of scotch into Bowser's hand and start in on some quantum physics thing like the "ham sandwich theory." (By the way, I just want to throw in the fact that my Dad is super smart. Probably one of the smartest men in the universe. Not kidding. He is like Stephen Hawking, only smarter. And, he totally didn't tell me to say that. I love you, Daddy!) Zaza says, "Sit down, rest for a bit," as though I haven't been sitting on my ass all day in a stinky, crumby, moving prison cell.

We always enjoy the next few days of eating too much, drinking too much and hanging out with Zaza and Papa. Then, before we know it, it is back in the van. We've usually had just enough time there for the van to air out a bit so that we don't choke on the noxious odor on our long drive home. And we do it all again heading the opposite way on the highway. For some reason, the drive home always seems to take longer. But, I won't get into that this time. I might still be recovering from our last trip. But, you know what? We are making some great family memories and I wouldn't trade it for the world. :)


Monday, April 26, 2010

My Bleeding Heart (or, Dinner with the Vaccuum Salesman)

It is no secret that I am a people pleaser. It is probably my biggest weakness. I have been told that I have a gift to make people feel at ease and welcome when they are around me. I think maybe a little too comfortable, as this story will show you. What I am about to tell you is a TRUE story...

One cold December evening, Bowser and I were chatting while Mario played with his cars. (This was pre-Luigi and Peach.) The doorbell rang and standing on our porch was a young man, probably 20 or so, that wanted to sell me a vacuum. I am terrible at just saying no to these people and slamming the door. Bowser came over and told the young man, sorry, we are probably not going to buy. "Wait!" said the VacMan. "Please, just let me show you our pitch. I have to do at least 1 more house then I can be done for the day." Bleeding heart that I am, "Well, sure! come on in."

VacMan bounded through the door--I truly mean BOUNDED--through the door with lots of energy and enthusiasm. He must have really wanted to finish for the day, because right in our front entryway, he started pulling pieces of vacuum out of his big box, while talking a million miles a minute about this wonderful tool for the home. I swear to you, the kid was actually sweating and panting, he was going so fast. Before I knew it, the vacuum was all put together and he was pushing past me to find an outlet. At one point I had to ask him to slow down because he was making me dizzy. Mario just sat on the floor staring at the strange, loud, appliance wielding man that had taken over his living room. Next thing I know, VacMan had spread baking soda all over the lower level of the house and was sucking it up, while still talking at about 95 words per second at the top of his lungs over the sound of the machine.

When the poor kid was done with his speech, his face was red, his shirt was damp and he was struggling to catch his breath. I almost felt bad telling him that we weren't interested in buying his fancy dirt sucker-upper. But, as amazing as his vacuum was, we just couldn't (and still can't) spend more than our mortgage payment on one small appliance. The kid sloppily packed the pieces back into the box and thanked us for our time and out the door he went. Bowser and I shared a good laugh, I made dinner and we sat down to eat.

This is where the story would end for most people. But, not for me. As I walked from the kitchen to the table, I glanced out the window and saw that VacMan was still sitting on our porch. Just sitting on our steps, like he was waiting for someone. It creeped me out a little, so I sent Bowser out to see what was up. He came back after a moment and told me VacMan was waiting for his ride. Apparently, these companies like to get a van full of young salespeople and drop them off in a neighborhood for a couple of hours. Ok, how long could it be, right? Someone must be coming to get him any minute.

Twenty minutes later, VacMan is still sitting on our porch. Keep in mind, it was winter out. It gets dark early. Also, where we live, there is usually a week or so in the beginning of December that is absolutely frigid. This was that week. My bleeding heart started tugging at me again. I couldn't just let him sit out there in the freezing cold. So, I told Bowser to go invite him in.

VacMan followed Bowser in and mumbled a thank you. He told us that his friends and his boss should be back any minute to get him. After a moment, I caught him staring at the food I was starting to put away. So, I offered him dinner. It was, after all, dinner time and he had been working all day. He chowed down that chicken and rice almost faster than I could get it on the plate for him. Since it isn't often that I ask a door-to-door salesman to dinner, I had no idea what to say. Bowser prowled around the kitchen close to the cutlery, just in case VacMan was actually a psycho killer. I tried making small talk. He said that he was in school and selling vacuums was something for him to do to make a little extra money. VacMan also kept looking at his cell phone, probably wondering where in the world his friends could possibly be.

Finally, after about an hour, his friends called and said they were on their way. I noticed then, that he was eying the cookies I had baked earlier that were sitting on the counter. I asked him if he would like a cookie and when he mentioned the other college kids he works with I ended up packing up half the batch into a ziploc baggie for him to take. Bowser just looked at me like I was insane. I also offered for him to take some of the leftover chicken with him. I don't know what got into me. I guess I was thinking back on my old college days when anything other than a pack of ramen noodles was a real treat. He took the cookies and the chicken and went out to meet his friends. He thanked me for the dinner and offered us a "great" deal on a vacuum. I figured I had already fed him for the evening, so I didn't feel quite so bad when we passed again on the vacuum.

And there you have it. I like so much to make people happy, that I will even feed the door-to-door salesman peddling vacuums. Bowser still makes fun of me and every time a solicitor comes to the door he asks if I want to invite them in for dinner. But, you know what? Maybe VacMan went on to do a good deed for someone else. Maybe right now, as we speak, he is inventing something amazing and when he makes millions he will come looking for the kind woman who offered him shelter and dinner on a cold night. Or, maybe he just tells all his friends about the crazy lady who forced her cooking on him and still didn't buy a vacuum. Either way, it made me happy to do something nice for someone.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

Sometimes, as a SAHM, I really need a night out. Time away from my darling little angels. These nights can be hard to come by. So, when Bowser presented me with an opportunity for a night out downtown, with free beer, without the goombas...how could I resist? Sounds great, right? Free beer, no kids, get to dress in something other than my mom jeans and a t-shirt... Then he dropped the bomb. "By the way," he says, "it is at my National User Group Conference this week." Uh oh. Geek Fest. You see, my wonderful husband is a computer nerd. Remember that guy on Saturday Night Live, "Nick Burns, Your Company's Computer Guy?" He is sort of like that. When he and his techy friends get together, they tell each other weird jokes about "TCP's clouding the interface of the ECH and everyone's hard drive crashed." Then they all laugh wildly as my eyes glaze over and I start daydreaming about my own personal McDreamy.

But, you see, I was desperate. The children had been particularly crazy the past few days and Mama needed some grown-up time. Plus, all my nice clothes and shoes were collecting dust in my closet and were begging to be taken out of solitude. So, we called Grandma, dropped the kiddos off, and headed into the city.

This particular evening of the conference was a Micro-Brew Reception for clients and employees only. So, my sly Bowser borrowed his friend's badge and made me a replica with my name on it. Wouldn't want to look out of place at the Nerd-party, right? I put my badge on while Bowser warned me to please not actually talk to anyone about anything having to do with computers. I nodded my head and started looking around for the closest keg.

The first person we stopped to talk to was one of Bowser's co-workers. Imagine, if you will, the ultimate computer programming dork. Yes, that's him. The men started talking about work related things. I was still scanning for the nearest bar area. Then Co-Worker said to me, "I would love to show you something. Come check it out." Now, I am a very polite person. I enjoy making people feel comfortable, so I obliged. Then he said, "Ok, this is going to be cooler than words!" And he proceeded to show me a bunch of tables on the computer screen that looked like some kind of foreign language. Then he and Bowser laughed wildly and my eyes glazed over.

Next stop...Beer! And it was appropriately named, "Mama's Little Yellow Pill." Mmmm...good stuff. Then we started to wander. I'm not sure if it was the beer, or just the giddy excitement of being around other adults, but I actually started to have fun! I played ski jump on the Wii and won first place. Although, I wasn't allowed to accept the prize, since I wasn't supposed to be there. Then we walked around collecting all the free paraphernalia they offered at each booth. If there is one thing in life that I love, it is FREE LOOT! Yes, I realize that most of it is crap, but ooohhh, it is so much fun to walk around collecting it. Water bottles, keychains, cooler bags, cups, pins, pens and more! And of course, every 5-6 booths we had to stop to refill our pint glass. Before I knew it, I was speaking the language (Linux for all you computer lovers out there) and making friends with people at companies I've never heard of and probably will never hear of again.

And so, I will admit it. YES. I had a blast at the Nerd Convention! Thank you, dear Bowser, for sneaking me in. Thank you also, for not being embarrassed when I started throwing out random computer terms (that weren't even accurate) to random people. Thank you for standing by patiently while I ski jumped about 15 times just to get the highest score. Thank you for keeping my glass full all night. Thank you for not letting me get in the money booth. And most of all, thanks for being MY geek. :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Guilty Pleasures

As Mommies, we give up a lot of things for our kids. We don't mind it, we just do it. But, somewhere along the way, we have to pick up a few guilty pleasures to keep us going. Here are some of mine....

1. Every time we sing "Where is Thumbkin?" I totally crack up when we get to Tall Man. I realize this is very immature, but come on. It is funny! Now, when I am squabbling with Bowser, I just politely give him the "Tall Man" and we both laugh. I also giggle when Word World does rhyming games with words like cart and duck (pretty funny if I do say so myself!) and when the Wiggles sing about "parties," because their Australian accents make it sound like "potties."

2. Magazines. I think I have subscriptions to 12 different mags. I love them. There is something about little nuggets of information that makes me so happy. I read every magazine I get from cover to cover. I love the graphics, the stories, the sidebars, the ads...all of it. I have even been known to read insanely boring magazines like "Scientific American" when I have read all of mine. I think it might actually be a sickness.

3. Naptime. I realize that I should be using the kids naptime for doing things like laundry, and picking up messes and cleaning bathrooms, but I just can't do it! I LOVE naptime. The house is so peaceful and quiet. I don't even turn on my darling friend the television during this most sacred time of day. Bowser does not like this. He says that adults don't need naps and that I should be more productive with my time. After I showed him the Tall Man, I explained to him that chasing children all day isn't easy. And not having a full night's sleep for the past 7 years really takes a toll on your body. So, dear Bowser, you will just have to live with the fact that when the kids nap, I nap. It is a guilty pleasure that I refuse to give up.

4. Facebook. On the days that I do not actually nap during naptime, I love to stalk people on Facebook. Old friends, new friends, frenemies, old boyfriends, Ashton Kutcher, the "perfect" mom in the pickup line at school..... And the games? So many games! It makes me feel like I am "hanging out" with someone other than the small people that ask for milk 37 times in a row by screaming "MMMMIIIIIILLLLLLLLKKKKK NOOOOWWWWWW!!!!!!" at the top of their lungs.

5. Fantasizing about the Physician's Assistant at Peach's orthopedist's office. Ooooh, he is like my own personal McDreamy. *sigh* His eyes, his salt and pepper hair, his beautiful smile..... Plus, he is a nice guy and great with kids. And he is a fantastic dresser. Actually, I am pretty sure he is gay. Which makes him even more perfect! A gorgeous man that doesn't want anything from me except someone to go shoe shopping with. I mean, isn't that fantasy EVERY mom's guilty pleasure?

Of course I also rely on the staples: chocolate, beer, glass of wine, pedicures, etc. But, these 5 are my favorites. Without these things, I would lose myself totally in a sea of dirty diapers and splattered applesauce. Oh, hey! I just got a new magazine in the mail....and my kids are singing "where is tall man"...and i have to get ready for Peach's appointment tomorrow...


Friday, April 16, 2010

What I Think I Might Know For Sure....Maybe

Since I am still fairly new to the Blogosphere, I am taking advice from others on what to write. Some sweet friends said, "write what you know." So, as my own little homage to the Lady O and her magazine column, "What I Know For Sure," I bring you.... "What I Think I Might Know For Sure....Maybe." Here goes....

1. I know for sure that I can be having a lovely afternoon where my children are playing peacefully, Bowser is happily reading a magazine and I am getting something done, but as soon as the phone rings, all hell will break loose. It's like some kind of Pavlovian behavior. Phone call for Mommy = crying kids, needy husband, spilled milk, broken toys. And then, as if by magic, the instant I hang up the phone....all goes back to normal.

2. I know that some battles are just not worth fighting. When Luigi is kicking and screaming to wear his Thomas the Tank Engine pajama shirt for the 17th day in a row, does it really matter? Probably not. Will wearing that shirt make him happy? Yes. Will it hurt anyone? No. So, I let him. I'm sure other moms think that poor Luigi only has one outfit, but that is ok with me. Because if he is wearing his Thomas shirt, it makes doing the more important things (like washing face and hands or eating a good breakfast) easier.

3. I am pretty sure that I will never sleep through the night again. I thought I was finally done with waking up once Peach started sleeping all night. WRONG. If it isn't Peach, it is Mario having a nightmare or growing pains, or Luigi wanting to play at 3 a.m., or no one making any noise at all, which of course means something must be wrong. And from what I hear, it won't get much better. Because one of these days, they will be teenagers that go out with friends *gasp* without my supervision! And I'm pretty sure I will be wide awake every night until each one of them is home safe and sound in their beds. So, for now, I will just enjoy knowing that they are only a few steps away and I will continue trudging across the hall a few times each night to give a hug and tuck them in.

4. I know for absolutely sure that an ice cold beer at the end of a long, nap-less, tantrum-filled day makes it all better. Once the kids get in bed, I can pour myself a cold one and hang with my best friend, the television, and all is right with the world again.

5. Speaking of my BFF, here is something I am pretty darn sure about. Those crazy doctors that make up the American Academy of Pediatrics obviously do not have kids. No tv at all for children under 2??? Are they serious? Wait, please don't misunderstand. We most definitely put limits on our television time during the day. But, NONE at all? Apparently none of the pediatricians in the prestigious Academy have ever really wanted to try to get a quick shower before they have to go somewhere important (like Target) with 3 small children underfoot. They have also never tried to make dinner, do laundry, carry in groceries or take a potty break all by themselves with several small but merciless goblins always trying to "help." I'm just saying....pretty sure a little tv never killed anyone.

I would like to say that I know more than these few things, but really, I'm not that sure anymore. Ever since I had children, it seems that everything I knew about life was turned upside down. Sometimes I know one thing one day, and the next day it is totally obsolete and I am starting over again. (Potty training, anyone???) Then again, when it comes to children, is anything ever for sure? Probably not. So, I will keep learning right along with my little goombas--just don't tell them! After all, if I knew everything for absolutely sure, where would the fun in life be?


Thursday, April 15, 2010

This is my very first blog attempt. Well, technically not my first, because I did post a special guest blog for my lovely friends at "Rants From MommyLand," but, this is MY first blog post. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Daisy and I am the mom of 3 beautiful babies; Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach. My husband Bowser and I raise the family in a lovely little town, just outside of a lovely big city. And yes, that is my nice way of saying I live in the suburbs. So, I love my family more than my own life, but I have to admit...I think they are going to eventually send me to the Looney Bin! No, really. Every day I find myself closer and closer to the edge of sanity. Let's meet the little Goombahs now...

Mario: Mario is 7 and is in the first grade. He is very smart. I know all Moms say that, but can your 7 year old read a map and give you directions to and from anywhere in the world? I didn't think so. Other than map reading, Mario loves to play the Wii and his DS. Actually right now his entire life pretty much revolves around anything having to do with Super Mario Bros. (hence, the naming of my family) I swear this child can tell you everything you have ever wanted to know about any one of the Mario games. I have started dreaming about the plumber brothers because he talks about it ALL THE TIME. He is my sweet boy and although he can be a little overly dramatic at times, he is a fun-loving kid and a joy to be around.

Luigi: My dear sweet second son. Luigi came to us through adoption and I wouldn't have it any other way. He has a smile that will melt your heart and a mischievous streak that will drive you to drinking. There is not a doubt in my mind that he will someday be the class clown. His favorite thing is to make people laugh. And once he gets you to laugh, he will do it over and over and over and over.....well, I think you get the point.. Luigi is the kind of kid that can find his way right into your heart, even while doing something like picking up the cat by the tail for the 100th time that day. My little man makes me smile every day and our family would never be complete without him.

Princess Peach: Our surprise baby. I was told by a doctor that I would not be able to have any more children. So, we adopted. When Luigi was 6 months old, SURPRISE! I found myself knocked up. I would be lying if I told you I wasn't secretly hoping for a girl. I love my boys, but come on, you can only have so many cars, trains and dinosaurs around the house before you start to feel a little loopy. The truth is, I would have been happy with another boy, but I was actually giddy when the doctor pointed out the lack of "twig and berries" on the ultrasound. Peach is my sweet, cuddly, kissy little girl. She has her Daddy and her brothers wrapped around her little finger. And when she bats those eyelashes at you, well, watch out because your heart is about to melt into goo.

Bowser: I met Bowser at college. He was the cool senior, and I was but a lowly freshman. He asked me out 3 times before I finally said yes (it only took 3 times because i was already dating someone else). But, his persistence paid off and we have been together ever since. We were married right after I graduated and we moved to his home town. 18 months later, we were blessed with our first baby. Bowser and I have our ups and downs. We are complete opposites and that doesn't always necessarily attract. He is a homebody, I am a socialite. He likes neatness and order, I pretty much thrive on chaos. He is a logical and thoughtful human being, I am an emotional and impulsive trainwreck. But, somehow, in the end we manage to balance each other out and our life together is a mostly happy one. Bowser works from home. Please, don't be jealous. I assure you that, although it has its great moments, it is not all it is cracked up to be. However, that will be another story for another day.

As for me: Well, you already know about the mom and wife thing. I wish I could say that I was more exciting than just that. The thing is, I remember at some point in time, that I did have a life. A FUN life! I loved an adventure. I was a graphics designer for a ginormous beer brewery. I watched the news and kept up on current events. I had other things to talk about besides my children. Now I find myself babbling on and on to people about Mario's map reading skills, Luigi's 2-year-old antics, and what Peach ate for lunch. Instead of the Today Show, I watch The Wiggles and Word World. Instead of designing advertising for beer (which I still think is God's gift to mankind) I fill out invitations to birthday parties at Chick-Fil-A. Would I trade this life for my old one? Not for a million dollars and a night with Ashton Kutcher. Do I sometimes look back and miss the old me? Well, I would be lying if I said I didn't.

And so here I sit, 7+ years into my life as a mother, teetering precariously on the edge of insanity. This emotional rollercoaster of life is hard enough to navigate sometimes on your own. Throw in the fact that 3 little lives depend on ME to make them normal, happy and productive members of society, and well...frankly, it just keeps on pushing me ever so slightly closer to losing my mind. Then again, what is life without a little craziness?