Monday, September 26, 2011

Keepin' It Real

So, I often take to the blog to share how cute, lovable and all-around perfect my kids are.

Well, here's the flip side. They are total monsters. I often call them monsters in public and especially at school. Their teachers and total strangers stop me and tell me they are not monsters. I calmly explain to the teachers and strangers that, yes, they are monsters. Adorable monsters, but monsters nonetheless.

Here is my boy monster after 5 minutes of a play date with William:Yep, that is everything he owns on the ground. All the books, toys, trains, stuffed animals, even the rocket that hangs from the ceiling were on the floor.They were leaping from the train table to the bed. How they did not break both I have no idea.

After an hour of clean-up (and I still have not put that train track back together, that is a whole nother hour):And here is my girl monster from the back.Yep, that is a bald spot. My little monster refuses to sleep like a normal child and still sleeps in a chair. She has rubbed all the hair off her head in this one spot. It is completely, totally bald, not one hair. It is really, really ugly. So cute from the front, so crazy from the back.

Yesterday, I got to clean vomit off the bald spot because what Violet is really good at is vomiting everywhere. She goes through an average of 6 outfits a day. Laundry is a nightmare in our house. I smell like vomit every single day at work. I just try not to stand too close to people.

And Jeremy is on a mission to break all of our furniture, along with his head. He leaps around the living room without ever touching the ground. Flailing himself from chair to couch to ottoman as if he were avoiding bombs. Monster.They are total monsters, but I love that about them. Rooms are supposed to be messy if play dates are any fun. What is a couch for if not to be jumped on? Who needs hair when you are only 4 months old?? ....thinking...nope, no defense for the vomit - it is just gross. But, you know what? It is alright. My monsters are not perfect, they are real.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Weekend Fun: Forts, Dress Up, Books, and Letters

This past weekend, I really wanted to focus on my kids. And in a good way. Not my usual frantic I have to feed, bathe, dress, and throw toys at them while I am actually thinking about and doing other things. Actual quality time with my two favorite people. It is shocking how much fun they can be when I tune out everything else and just focus on them.

First up, Jeremy asked to build a fort. These photos do not do it justice, it was pretty cool. Our living room did not provide enough depth for me to get the full photo experience (it went all the way to the back wall and had an "upstairs" with the chair and a back door to the couch).Both kids loved the fort and we played in it for hours.

It was also the weekend of the annual slaughter known as the UT-Florida football game. BTW, I do remember a time when UT actually won this game. So, I decided to pull out some of the UT swag I have received from friends and co-workers for Violet. This is not even almost all of the UT stuff we own for this kid.Then, we dressed her up like Jeremy. He thought it was hilarious. She does look a lot like him at that age.Next, in my efforts to provide attention and not simply turn on the TV, we enjoyed some books together. I read at least 2 books every night for bedtime, but we have not been reading enough in our spare time for my taste. Jeremy's current favorites include Skippyjon Jones the Siamese cat who thinks he is a Chihuahua,all of the Smithsonian animal books like Alligator at Saw Grass Road and Ladybug at Orchard Avenue,anything and everything by Dr. Seuss of course, 1001 Pirate Things to Spot aka let's make cannon shot sounds,and many, many more. I love reading to him when the goal is fun, not going to sleep. Violet was also quite engaged in the books, which makes me super excited. I keep asking Brian if he thinks Jeremy is ready for a chapter of Harry Potter each night even though I know he is still too young. I just can't wait!

For our next activity, we did floor play with Miss Violet. She is not a big fan of being flat (on her tummy or her back), so we have been working on this. Jeremy showed her many times how to roll over, but though she got close a few times, she is not quite there yet. She did, however, recently discover her feet and loves to play with her toes.At bath time, I passed off Violet and worked with Jeremy on his reading. Again, bath time has recently evolved into dumping soap on Jeremy with one hand while I hold a screaming Violet in the other, so this was nice. We pulled out his old bath letters and worked on some words. He knows all the sounds each letter makes and he successfully sounded out/read a few words without much help at all: stop, go, no, fox, box, cat, hat, etc. He even began to create the words himself and when I needed to go get his bed and pajamas ready he declined the trains I handed him and wanted to keep making words. Love that kid.Oh, and look at how great his face is healing!

Daddy was home with us on Sunday and we survived Mass and watched the Titans win, then made cupcakes. Unfortunately, when we weren't looking someone defiled the cupcakes by licking off all the icing.It was a wonderful weekend. I don't stop and have fun with my kids as much as I should, and this was a good reminder of how great these two little people are and how much fuller my life is when I let go of my stress and give in to their smiles.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Best Friends

I do love a good friend. They are there for you when you are sad, happy, crazy, and nutso. Here are some best pals in our lives right now:

Jeremy and William
They have been besties since birth, both born in residence halls only 2 months apart. They are no longer in the same class at school, but they still have regular play dates to keep the friendship up!Jeremy and Violet
They really are friends. I am not kidding. Jeremy talks to her about his day, shows her things he is playing with, and genuinely cares about her. I was in the bathroom the other day and he came running in and said, "Something is wrong with your angel. You need to fetch her." No joke, that is a direct quote. There was nothing wrong, she had whined for one second and Jeremy wants her happy and engaged at all times.Jeremy and Mr. Moo
I don't want to beat a dead horse on this one. But seriously, their relationship is the cutest thing in my life. Here, he was having a conversation with Mr. Moo and Violet (notice they match). He spoke for both of them. They were talking about Robin Hood and Violet got overwhelmed with excitement. Weirdos.Violet and Red Bird:
This is Violet's first toy friend. She lights up when she sees him (I think, him? her? who knows?) and he can always make her stop crying. She grabs at toys now, so we'll see if there is a new best friend later, but right now she just loves to grab and chew on this one.Jeremy and Robin Hood:
As alluded to above, Jeremy has discovered the joys of 1973-vintage Robin Hood. We have owned this movie since before he was born, but he just tried it out and we have now watched it about 100 times in the last 2 weeks. I love old Disney movies. Jeremy now says things like "Oh that corpulent cleric!" and "I am a minstrel, you know, a folk singer."Finally, a shout out to MY bestie, Wendy, who is expecting her first baby next year!! She is the one who brought Mr. Moo into our lives, so the pressure for a good baby gift is pretty darn steep. Regardless, I foresee a new best friend pairing for Violet in a few short months...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shocking News

I have shared this with a few close friends and family already, because I quite simply needed to talk it out and get over the initial shock.

A few days ago...bear with me, this is hard...Jeremy was talking to me, and he let a bomb drop...are you ready for this...MR. MOO IS A GIRL.

Up is down, hot is cold, Brian hates books, Violet never cries, and Mr. Moo is a girl.

That's right. A female. I asked him a thousand times, and he calmly looked at me like I was insane and proceeded to tell me that Mr. Moo has always been a girl. He has always referred to Mr. Moo as a "she" or "her" but I thought he was just mixing up his pronouns like he does sometimes.

On my 247th time questioning him about this, Jeremy proceeded to give me a withering look with the matter of fact statement: "All cows are girls." D'uh Mommy.

Now I know. And I still love my transgendered 3rd child as much as a did before.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Thank You

Every couple of years I have these moments where I look around me and thank my lucky stars for the life I lead. Usually these epiphanies revolve around the work I do with college students: getting to know them both inside and outside the classroom, reading their papers, cleaning up their vomit, sending them to the hospital, evicting them from housing, giving them a hug, lending them goofy clothes for a party, watching them babysit my kids, seeing them understand, watching them step up to the plate when things are hard, writing them letters of recommendation for graduate school, celebrating with them when they get into medical school, and no matter what giving them the time to talk and learn from all their mistakes and experiences.

In recent years, I have grown to have the same thoughts about my staff. It takes a special person to want to work AND LIVE with college students every day. The student and professional staff members I work with are all so passionate, articulate, and earnest about making a difference in students lives. They spend 4 hours in the middle of the night searching through underwear drawers for marijuana, they respond to countless fire alarms, they are all handy with a fire extinguisher, they all can dress up and act like crazy people while lip syncing to Glee songs, they all drop whatever they are doing to sit with a student at 2am who just found out her grandmother died, they can all effectively disarm two roommates attacking each other with pots and pans, and they all wake up every morning after 3 hours of sleep to fill out paperwork, get yelled at by parents, and do it all again.

So, I have a few thank yous to hand out as I assess my life and realize how grateful I am for what I do and who I am:

To my parents
  • THANK YOU for making me share a room with Cheri and then with Danielle. I never attacked my roommate with a skillet, and I credit that to your training.
  • THANK YOU for teaching me the soup and sandwich song. Let's face it, a career as a higher ed administrator will never make me rich, but who needs a steak dinner when grilled cheese and tomato soup come with a song and a dance?
  • THANK YOU for realistically teaching me about drugs and alcohol. I never needed a friend to hold back my hair or woke up not knowing what I did last night.
  • THANK YOU for dressing up in costumes, throwing theme parties for no reason, and being the "fun" parents. I use the energy and creativity I was raised on daily in my job as I work to keep students motivated and enjoying their time in college.
To my husband
  • THANK YOU for listening to me vent almost every night. It is wrong to scream at students and staff or smack them upside the head when they do something stupid. Thanks to the outlet you provide, I don't have to succumb to my primal urges.
  • THANK YOU for understanding what I do. How many husbands would happily spend their first two years of marriage living in a residence hall? And help out the freshman girls by killing harmless moths for them as they scream in utter terror.
  • THANK YOU for showing me the power of one on one student interaction. I am still humbled by the work I saw you do with your students, spending so much time with them to force them into realizing their potential as writers.
To my staff
  • THANK YOU for loving what you do. So many of us fall into this profession by accident based on a mentor who helped us along the way or the experience we derived from helping a student in need. I could not do what I do if I worked with people less dedicated or passionate.
  • THANK YOU for being more flexible than Stretch Armstrong. Our jobs are nothing if not unpredictable, and you simply cannot be successful if you do not embrace (or at least tolerate with good spirit) 4am fire alarms and crying students interrupting your dinner plans.
  • THANK YOU for teaching me something new every day. Literally each day brings a new situation we have never handled before, and you all bring such creativity and intelligence to the table as we find solutions.
To my students
  • THANK YOU for bringing me into the 21st century. Seriously, one of the RAs was shocked that I did not have tab browsing. I didn't even know what that meant. He just laughed, updated my computer, and showed me how totally out of date I was.
  • THANK YOU for reminding me of my own journey. I do many of the same activities in my freshman class each year, and seeing their faces light up as they at first tentatively then proudly share their stories is so inspiring.
  • THANK YOU for making mistakes, both big and small. I do not enjoy evicting people or sending them to the hospital or giving them an F or terminating them from their jobs. However, I know that in doing so, I am helping them to grow, take responsibility for their actions, and become better people. Too often, I do not see that growth take place, but in the few times I do run into these students later and get a thank you of my own, I know that the hard decisions I made were the right ones.
I do not love my job every day. Sometimes I hate it, particularly when people are down, overworked, and lost in the sea of red tape. But there is always a reminder of why I chose this profession, and for that, I say thank you.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I hope I don't have to title many more posts in a similar manner. Jeremy had his surgery on Monday to fully excise the mole from his face. As I stated in an earlier post, we had the mole shaved and tested a few months back and it was just concerning enough for the doctors to want it fully cut out. They told us we had "months, not years" to take care of it before it became something to really be worried about. So, we took a few months to have a baby and pre-approve the insurance, and here we are.

The entire experience can be wrapped up in one thought - my baby is actually a brave young man. I was way more traumatized by this than he was. We had to be at the hospital early, so we took both kids straight out of bed to the car, and something about seeing him in his little pajamas at the hospital made me so nervous. I took him back to get prepped while Brian did paperwork and baby duty. Jeremy met the nurses, got weighed, had his blood pressure taken, and watched cartoons all with a smile. He made conversation with the ladies and did not act scared at all! It was not until he realized they were going to take him away from me that he started to panic. It was like a scene from a movie - he is frantically grabbing me and the nurses pull him away while he screams my name, arms outstretched, legs kicking. I almost cried. Luckily, even though I could not go back with him, Mr. Moo was allowed to go along to offer the protection I could not.

After he woke up from the anesthesia, the nurses came and got me and said he woke up in a panic and was shaking, screaming, and could not catch his breath. They thought having me there would help. What a sight to see my little man wrapped up in a blanket, huge bandage on his face, tubes coming out of his arms, being cradled by a nurse as he simultaneously moaned, screamed, hiccuped, and gasped for air. Mr. Moo in a virtual death grip with one hand, while the other tried to pull out the IV. Oh, the emotions of being a mom.

As soon as I had him in my arms, though, he began to calm down. I told him I loved him, and he looked at me through his tears and between hiccups said, "I am a very brave boy. You so proud of me." It took about 10 minutes, but we got his breathing under control, the tubes removed from his arms, and some sprite and graham crackers into his tummy. And, literally, the minute he calmed down, that was it. He looked at me again, tried to slide off my lap, and said, "Whew. I all better now. I need to calm my body and now I all better." We got home and even though he was a bit wobbly when walking, he went straight up to play trains, then to watch his new Cars movie from daddy, then refused a nap, and played all afternoon and evening like nothing had happened. He even took his medicine without complaint and never once touched or made reference to the big hole on his face or the bandage covering it. Big boy.Dr. Becker said they got it all out, he needs to keep his fingers off of it as it heals, and he should have a small 3 cm long scar on his cheek when all is said and done. Right now, the wound is about the size of a quarter, but since we used a plastic surgeon, I am confident the scar will look great once all the healing has taken place. The nurses said he was incredibly well-behaved and brave after the initial panic of being taken away from me to head into surgery. He was complimented by everyone and I have a feeling we did not really need the 12 nurses gathered around him cooing about how cute and sweet he was. But, I do appreciate their kindness and care. Especially when they told me that despite rules to the contrary, Jeremy was allowed to keep Mr. Moo wrapped in his arms the entire time.

Funny how that raggedy old cow provides so much comfort for us both.