Date Night and Guns...
“Okay; the dangly ones or the studs?” My sister-in-law responds favorably to the silver with pink stoned earrings. “The dangly ones it is!” I rush off to my bathroom and finish tweezing my eyebrows – the curse of my Eastern European heritage. Furiously plucking away I reflect, “Is it any wonder I feel as if I need to howl at the full moon?” With a clear path now running from my nose and forehead, I continue priming with the rest of my cosmetic arsenal. I step back to better scrutinize my countenance, “Well, this is the best it’s gonna get.”

Turning out the light and towards the cheval, I check the long view. Black slacks, dark gray turtleneck and black boots – a line from one of my estrogen baring children’s favorite Disney movies, Cinderella pops into my head, “It’s kinda old, but it’ll have to do.” My sister-in-law tries to boost my plagued by too many stretch marks ego, “You can’t go wrong with a classic look. You look great!” “Isn’t this stupid? I feel like I’m going out on a first date? It’s been so long, I really have forgotten how to act,” I tell her as I cinch my belt a little tighter.

The last time my husband and I went out, without our four children, was our anniversary back in August. We did the usual dinner and a movie. As it turned out, we had dinner that didn’t quite agree with me - two grocery stores and a Dunkin’ Donuts bathroom stop later, we were on our way home. We bagged the movie. My sister-in-law reassures me that, “It’s understandable, but you guys really do need to get out more often.”

No joke! Maybe since she’s staying the night and maybe since the kids are all healthy and adore their aunt and just maybe since we haven’t had “private time” in such a long time, maybe we’ll sneak away someplace romantic and private this time.

My husband and I collect our oldest from a birthday party and drop her off at home before heading off to our grand adventure. I find myself feeling warm and cozy and suspect that the half glass of red wine I sipped “just to get the edge off” during dress rehearsal had something to do with it. I drop enough hints that would set my mother-in-laws cheeks a blaze....I don’t want to be a mommy tonight. I want to be wined, I want to be dined and I want to be, well, wanton – damn it!

Dinner was great and the company was even greater. My husband works with a group of women who apparently are in the same place ecumenically speaking because it got pretty darn raunchy. We were, shall we say, loud and drawing some amused and some not so amused stares. Husbands were teasing wives; wives were teasing husbands; husbands teasing husbands, etc… Good, I think. If he doesn’t get it tonight, he’ll never get it – get it!?!

After wishing everyone well and a very Merry Christmas indeed, my husband and I begin the trek back to our car some many blocks away because it is Saturday night and it is freezing. I’m, however, feeling quite toasty and wrap my arm around my husband’s waist. “Wasn’t tonight just fantastic? We needed this, didn’t we? I’m feeling so good right now! I’m feeling really, really good right now!” My husband turns toward me and gives me a sweet kiss, “That’s great hon. I’m glad you had a good time.” He starts the car and I must have been rambling and totally unawares because the next thing I knew, we were pulling into our driveway. “Hmmm, the house is dark. You think maybe they’re asleep?” I don’t answer him. I can’t. I’m totally dumb-founded and totally not sure how I should take the snub to my libido. We did have a wonderful time. I just didn’t think it would be over so soon, so early and so not disheveled.

The next day, yesterday, I took my four children for their annual Christmas shopping for each other. My seven year old daughter wants to buy my four year old son a gun. After much debating and further lecturing on the evils of hunting for sport, he convinces me that, “C’mon Mom, can I get the gun? It’s only for pretend.”

We’re waiting on line and my son is literally beaming from ear to ear. I feel a pang of guilt. I know it’s a toy and I know that even if we didn’t buy the darn gun, he’d just build one with legos or something. I still feel the need to press my opinion and say, “Now, you know that once you shoot something, it hurts very badly and most times it will die and never come back again.” With a very straight face, he nods and says, “Oh yeah, don’t worry Mom, I won’t hurt any animals. Oh boy, I can’t wait to go home and shoot my sisters!”

It was obvious that the previous night’s snub was still on my mind when I quickly counter with, “After you’re done, can I borrow it to shoot your Father?”

Now I Remember Why I Don't Eat Brown Rice!
Now I Remember Why I Don’t Eat Brown Rice!

Now I remember why I don’t eat brown rice. It’s got this funky kind of chewy, fibrous texture – what I imagine a great big bowl full of soggy cardboard sprinkled with a little softened gravel would taste like. I’m choking it down while I sit here and take advantage of a very rare occasion – my 2 and 4 year olds have fallen asleep.

My 4 year old son is napping in the living room; his blond curly head is sticking out from the red checkered fleece throw and he seems lost among the throw pillows of our oversized sofa. My 2 year old daughter was more than happy to oblige my not so subtle hints of, “Hope my love – you need a little nap,” countering with her own, “No, Hopey take a big one nap!” I laid my little mini me down in her girly hued crib and gently pulled her favorite pink and purple quilt over her shoulders. “Mommmmmeeee kiss Lovvvveeeey!” Oh, after kissing her lovey, of course.

Cough-Gag-Cough…man this stuff stinks! I should have gotten a drink while I was in the kitchen; sorry about that.

It was after one o’clock and I became a little hungry. I scanned my refrigerator for some healthy sustenance and wasn’t rewarded with much of a choice. “Let’s see…Cool Whip, Ready Whip….I sense a trend here. Maybe I could whip up something using half of an onion, ¼ bag of grated cheese and a flour toritilla?” I pondered the boring possibilities and come to the conclusion that I would have to bite the bullet and make a run to the grocery store sometime soon.

I checked our freezer and pantry only to find that we were stocked to the gills with what my four children, and I suspect most children, consider to be the major food groups: Chicken nuggets, hot dogs, mac and cheese, peanut butter, jam (grape not strawberry!) and any sugared cereal associated with a really cool commercial on TV. I guess I should further include basically anything off the kids’ menu at Friendly’s. Oh, and pizza. Not just any pizza and God forbid it is frozen pizza – it has to be Enzo’s pizza.

I push aside the close to empty gallon of milk and find a covered pot from last night’s supper. The Girl Scout Moms where gathering for a “meeting” at The Court Jester last night, which was then to have turned into a “dinner meeting”. I whipped up something from the adult menu for my husband – pork tenderloins, carrots and brown rice. I had to use the brown rice. It’s been sitting there and there are so many starving people in this world. Besides, he bought the darn bag in the first place. I wasn’t surprised to the find most of the brown rice still visible. Obviously, the word was out and my husband got the message loud and clear.

“Oh well, I had that huge burger last night and those sweet potato fries were really sweet,” I think to myself as I quietly warm the rice over a low flame and look for a clean fork. “MMMmmm – doesn’t smell so bad.” My mood begins to lift. This may actually be pretty good. So healthy – so non-guilt! I take the pot over to my computer table and place it to the left of my keyboard. I find the heat of the pot pleasant and think to myself, “This is not bad at all.”

I fork up a bite and – Yuck! - Now I remember why I don’t eat brown rice. The phone rings and it’s my sister-in-law confirming our weekend plans. She suspects that my little ones are sleeping made evident by my low-keyed and muffled demeanor. I don’t bother to tell her that I have a wad of brown rice squirreled away between my cheek and gums.

I wish her a safe trip, gently place the receiver back and look for a respectable place to rid myself of my organic burden – all the while wondering if there was any Miracle Whip left in the house.

Top Ten Signs That I Probably Need To Slow Down...
I’ve been betrayed by my body! Rather than be greeted by the joyous sounds of my children waking or the beautiful sounds of the birds singing the praises of a glorious winter morning full of sunshine and promise - I found myself waking to the bitter pangs of a nasty migraine.

I haven’t had this type of corpuscle exploding, mind shattering and bring you to your knees kind of headaches in a very long time. I suspect that my terrible eating habits, lack of sleep and ingesting huge amounts of caffeine related products was an act of betrayal on my part – alright, I’ll say it…down right neglect. I refuse to say it was stupidity, because I was very much aware of the how's and why's, I just chose not to do much anything about rectifying my habitual physical self-abuse. “I don’t have the time. I don’t have the patience. I don’t have the extra money. I know I have four kids to take care of for gosh darn sake,” would be my answers of choice whenever my husband would attempt to steer me onto the path of self-awareness and good health.

So, wham, bam, thank you ma’am, did I pay for it yesterday. I remember shaking my husband awake and that it was still dark out. I remember being reduced to weeping and telling him, “Bad migraine, 3 Advil please!” I don’t much remember anything else - no lie! I remember downing the Advil with some sort of cold beverage. I remember my husband asking me something about my Father and things pretty much faded to black after that. The next thing I knew, it was 4:00 p.m and my husband was checking in on me.

I saw an empty container of yogurt on the nightstand beside my bed, but don’t remember eating it. So, I suspected that my body did a total systems shut down and I then I became very disgusted with myself. I should have known better. I did know better. I just chose to ignore all the warning signs of an oncoming physical breakdown.

Thank God for my husband who had to resort to taking a portion of his work day off; he took my two oldest and the neighbor’s kid to school with my two youngest in tow; he took my two youngest to the bank and treated them to Burger King while he got some work done; he took our 4 year old on his field trip with our 2 year old in tow; he performed drop-off and pick-up duties at both the preschool and elementary school and even found time to make dinner. The poor guy was snoring by the time The Lettermen Show aired, deservedly so. I sat in my oversized chair, feeling angry at myself for wasting an entire day. I guess maybe I would have felt less miserably guilty if I were throwing up and feverish as well. Maybe. I don’t know. But I do know that it is a sad state of affairs when I, a Mom, feel guilty for being sick.

So, there I sat and muddled through watching the funny and the sometimes not so funny musings of David Lettermen, when I was inspired to create a Top Ten List of my own.

Top Ten Signs That I Probably Need To Slow Down

#10 – I can’t commit to anything before consulting four different calendars.
#9 – I am taking a shower, brushing my teeth and shaving my legs all at the same time – if I remember to, that is.
#8 – While driving, my children remind me to, “Slow down – you’re gonna crash us!”
#7 – During a conversation, I can’t finish a single thought without going onto the next .
#6 – I break another vacuum cleaner because, “It just can’t keep up with me.”
#5 – I demand that everyone, “For God sake, stop and let me do it!”
#4 – I leave the house wearing my slippers – again.
#3 – Everything out of my mouth ends with the words, “Damn it.”
#2 – I kiss my husband "hello" and "goodbye" at the front door, running off to another meeting or support group of some sort.

And finally, the #1 sign that I need to slow down is… I see stars and it’s not even night time, damn it!

Cheese Doodle and Chicken Heads, Unite!
I love living on the East Coast. I love the change of the seasons. I love the crispness of a winter’s day, prime for banana bread baking and hot chocolate sipping. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite holidays. Yep, I love winter.

I’ve rediscovered an exception – “Come on, people! Shovel your gosh darn sidewalks!

I found myself feeling quite irritated by the time I got home from dropping off my two elementary school children this morning. Let’s just say that by the time I hit the garage door opener, I was censoring myself – big time - since my son said the “S” word the other day after he didn’t like the picture he drew of Santa Clause and said, “This looks like “S”. Back to my censored tirade, “I can’t believe how flipping lazy people can be! What, anything over 4 inches is just too much for ya'? I almost hit that chicken head walking on the gosh darn road, because of cheese doodle heads who won’t shovel their blessed walks.”

Still mumbling something about not having the time to be lazy, I set my little ones up with crayons, pencils and paper asking them to, “Please make Mommy a Christmas picture while Mommy does a quick chore and then I’ll make you guys your toast, okay?” (Note: They had their first breakfast 30 minutes ago) Lucky for me that they are all too used to hearing my “quick chore” request and settle in comfortably at their workbench.

I enter my laundry room/play room/Daddy’s football viewing room, and quickly smell, sniff-sniff, something not very pleasant coming from my bedroom area. “Well, I gotta go there to get the laundry basket….” I hesitantly shuffle my way past the space heater (Who knew slate floors would get so gosh darn cold?) and into the household weigh station disguised as my bedroom. Shopping bags full of perspective Christmas gifts, perspective Christmas crafts for the kids, the vacuum cleaner that doesn’t work, and the early described loads of laundry. Sniff. Sniff. I immediately remember what I reminded my husband to do this morning, which he forgot to do last night. Clean the cats’ litter box. It reeks of feline maleness.

I pull the box out of its corner and now face the, well, once too many times used scooper. Further use of some potty words later, I bend down to grab the bleach and cannot ignore the overflowing trash can. I take the bathroom trash can out into the kitchen and empty it into the now overflowing kitchen trash can. I stop and change the kitchen trash can and take it to the outside trash can. I come back into the house and realize that I’ve added a big ole’ wet spot in the hallway floor now primed for little feet to slip on. I grab a couple of paper towels and sop up said wet spot. I go to throw the kitchen towel away, but first have to replace the trash bag. No trash bags. More potty words later (censored ‘cause little ears are within range again) I throw in a paper bag for the moment and allow myself to become so beyond irritated, I forget what the heck I was doing in the first place, but remember why I make a point of doing them right away, because my mind has turned to mush after years of Barney the Dinosaur abuse.

Oh yeah. Cat litter. Clean, deodorize and refresh cat litter and scooper. Now I have to get the vacuum that does work…back out in the garage. I vacuum. Ah, done. Nope, now I cannot help but notice a clear path of rug leading to the cat litter trail. I finish with the rug, hoping that vacuuming only the “exposed” areas of the rug saves me from being a total lunatic.

Back to laundry. I do a bait and switch and notice that it is now 10:00 a.m. and I still haven’t had my second cup of coffee or breakfast. My little ones are done with their pictures and I see that my littlest one managed to find the safety scissors and proceeded to cut “snow”. All over the living room rug. I rub my left temple and calmly ask for the safety scissors. Then, I stand there. In the middle of the orange snow covered living room rug, considering my next move.

My 2 year old construction paper guru stomps back into my line of sight – naked. Rubbing my right temple, I ask her, “Now, why are you naked?” She begins to dance, “Hopey has to go potty. Mommy help me, please!” I grab her and double time it back to the bathroom where she promptly does her business, in the potty! She purposefully got my attention. She told me she had to go potty. I am shocked. I am amazed. I am much relieved.

We do the potty dance and I can’t help but laugh myself out of irritation when I hear her begin to sing, “Go Hopey. Go Hopey. Did poopy. It’s your birthday. It’s your birthday.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m going to make some celebratory toast, slathered with butter and jam, and have my second cup of coffee in the pleasant company of my four and two year old children, while I mentally begin to compose a letter to my town, asking them to crack down on some shovel phobic chicken heads!

The Big - Not So - Easy
My Father and I have shared a tradition since my second pregnancy, almost 8 years ago to the day. Initially to try and walk another little tax deduction out before the end of the year, but later more so for the private time I get to share with my Father. It is what I’ve come to call, “The Big – Not So - Easy”. The search for “just the right present” for my Mom. I systematically marked the date of December 1st with “Apu Xmas Road Trip”. He is mankind’s answer to Old Faithful. I, however, have learned to adjust to my four children’s schedule(s), especially during cold and flu season.

December 1st came and went. My parents stopped by last night to “get some fresh air” and braved the lousy traffic and even lousier road conditions just to drop off some of my Mother’s home made chicken soup. “The kids would miss the soup. Besides, the roads are fine. We’ll be fine.”

This is the usual response I get when exhibiting my concern for their health and/or well being. I can’t help it if I leave them feeling helpless, useless and all around less than the people I remember them to be. I guess my concern has morphed into down right distress – adding to my already full plate of neuroses with anxiety on the side, please. Experiencing the death of my Grandmother last October, a few months after the death of my Uncle, and my sense of loss is down right palatable!

We rescheduled for today and my Dad was knocking on my front door at 8:25 a.m. He’s already been witness to the confusion, stress and all around juggernaut of a typical school morning. So, today was no different and I felt comfortable placing a mug of coffee in front of him and continued my role as Monday Morning Maniacal Mom…

I return to the kitchen to check on Dad. I didn’t want the children making him nervous, especially my precocious and epitome of a two year old daughter. After all, my poor father retired over a year ago and has gone through a total knee replacement (on the exact date of his retirement), a gall bladder attack on the eve before heart surgery, heart surgery twice, gall bladder surgery once recovered from said heart surgeries, eye surgery and another eye surgery scheduled for next week. If anyone deserves a little break, he’s the man.

Nothing unusual is happening – he’s surrounded by all four of my children. Oh man, Heather is in his lap and crying on his shoulder. I drift back a bit and observe….

He’s speaking softly in his wonderful Hungarian accent (when reading, just think Bela Lagosi), “Don’t worry honey. I miss her, too. You shouldn’t be mad at God for taking Mamama. But, you are very lucky. All of you are very lucky. Do you know why? Because, you have all four Grandparents here on earth. And we love you very, very much. We have to live for who is around us. I never knew two of my Grandparents and lost my Grandfather, who I did know and loved very much, when I was a little boy. I miss him, but he’s really not gone. I’m 66 years old and I’ve kept him locked away in my heart for 60 years. No one can take that away from me. I still get sad. (My Father is choking up now and I am tempted to intervene, but I don’t dare…) When Mamama was very sick, and I know you remember when she was in the hospital, I asked God to take Mamama. She wasn’t happy. She was hurting. And God answered my prayer and took Mamama to heaven to become what she was here in life. An Angel. So, the next time you feel angry at God, angry and your brother or sisters or angry at your Mom or Dad; remember that our job is to love each other now, while we are all here together.”

My Father takes a deep breath and asks, “Who wants to go to school?” They all laugh and I enter into the fun…after kissing my Father’s balding head, of course.

Home from a very successful shopping trip at the mall, I sit with my Father once more and share another cup of coffee and some more conversation. I kiss him good-bye and remind him to drive safely. I close my front door and lean my head against the glass, “Oh, and thank you Apu. Thank you for making The Big – Not So - Easy part of life, that much easier – and fun.”

Shows, Trains and Automobiles
Along side the “24 Days Until Christmas” and the “27 Days Until Heather’s Birthday” you’ll find the “4 Days Until NYC” countdown – December 5th being the day we take our three oldest children to see the sights and attend a Christmas show.

The closer we got to the NYC date, the more wound up our three oldest children became. Glen let the cat out of the bag during supper the night before, “I can’t wait to go on our train ride tomorrow! Can you believe we’re going to New York City to see a show and the Christmas tree!?! Hopey, remember when we watched them light the tree on television the other night? Oh, yeah. Hope, you can’t go. We’re going to New York and you can’t go, ‘cause you’re too wittle!” Hope may only be two, but she got every word of “You Can’t Go”. It wasn’t pretty. Hope crying at the kitchen table, Glen crying in the time out chair and me in hopes that I will get through this holiday season alive, for crying out loud!

The day arrived. Friday morning, Glen was so excited that he woke up, came downstairs and into our bed and asked, “Is it time to go to New York City?” I peeked from under my eyelids and saw that it was still kind of dark, “No buddy, put your head down. You could stay here and sleep with Momma before the alarm goes off.” We snuggle in and I breathe a sigh of relief because I didn’t get to bed until midnight or so, and I needed at least another hour of down time. Just as I nestled deeper into my pillow, “Beep, Beep, Beep, bloody Beep!”

I was ever so proud of us – 8:00 a.m. and we’re actually minivan ready. We always seem to run late… Grandma and Grandpa arrive at the precise agreed upon time and we head off to the train station. I can’t seem to get Hope’s pleading out of my head, “Hopey go with you, Momma! No, Hope no stay home, Hopey go too!” It broke my heart, but I know that, in the long run, taking a 2 year old into the city during the Christmas holidays would have been equal to asking for a heart attack, please.

The train ride went without a hitch and we got into Penn Station right on schedule, with an hour to kill. A quick visit to Dunkin’ Donuts and I was ready to rock. Then the snow hit. It came out of nowhere and accumulated just as quickly. I said a silent prayer and hoped for the best. The show was great. The crowd was not. We came out into the gray day and bundled up our crew for the long walk from 33rd street to 50th street. Around 49th, I lost the feeling in my toes, my eyebrows and lashes were caked with snow and I pretty much knew I looked like a total sissy…stuck in the suburbs for too long. That’s when my husband goes, “Oh, oh. I made a mistake. You know how I said the restaurant was on 50th?” I attempt to shield my face from the horizontal falling snow and say, “MMmmm” ‘cause my lips and lower jaw are frozen solid. “Well, it’s actually on 57th!”

Five minutes later, I attempt to get the blood to run back into my lower extremities while listening to the wonderful musings of a New York City taxi driver.

We arrive at our culinary destination and the food was actually really good – expensive, but really good. The kids had a great time and are begging for another taxi ride home. We settle for the nearest subway station and I soon remember why I hate going into the city during the week, during the Christmas season and especially during rush hour. The crowds, quite frankly, sucked. I had to thrust my body between Glen and Heather to save them from being pulverized by one umbrella toting, briefcase reeling, cell phone dialing and totally oblivious to what’s around him/her commuter after another. I soon found myself feeling very claustrophobic and blurted out, “What is wrong with you people? What are ya’, a bucha animals? We got kids walkin’ here! The last line being said in total New York fashion and ignored just as fashionably.

“Oh my God! I can’t believe how much snow fell!” Looking out of the windows in our express train home, my husband and I were stunned. “It didn’t look this deep in the city. Better call Dad and check in.” We come to learn there’s about 6 inches or so waiting for us at home. Dad braves the snow and arrives at the station the same time our train does. The place looked like a winter wonderland, but my festive trance is quickly broken with a motorist yelling at one of the freshly disembarked commuters, “Ya’ better move it or I’ll slide right into ya’!” Happy holidays to you…

Once in the minivan, I ask my father-in-law, “So, how it go with Hope?” He gave me a weary sideways glance and answered, “Hope was Hope.” I think to myself, not good. He fills me in, “It was a typical day – she jammed a tape in the VCR, locked up the computer a couple of times and spilled somebody’s cranberry juice on the quilt on your bed.” I nod in sympathy but still can’t help in thinking, “Well, that’s not too bad. It could’ve been worse. We could have gotten stuck in NYC.”

You Should Write A Letter!
This past Tuesday morning was like any other Tuesday morning at my house. The children are either gathered around one of two televisions or at the kitchen table enjoying a bowl of cereal and listening to our favorite morning radio station WPLJ 95.5 or both.

The morning show with Scott and Todd runs a series every Tuesday called, Beat The Brucer. Brucer is one of their producers whose name happens to be, you guessed it, Bruce(er). Brucer, I mean, Bruce has the reputation of having his head filled with all sorts of trivia type things. On Tuesdays, one can attempt to outwit Bruce and win a trip to some island somewhere. Apparently, he's good. Real good. His current record is 69 wins and only one loss which happened just a few weeks ago. The guy is a Savant.

Back to this past Tuesday, Bruce was whipping yet another would be Savant's butt. The poor guy asked for a question worth 1 point (they are worth 3, 2 or 1 with 3 being the most difficult). The questions was, "What is the largest desert in the world?" Without hesitation, the guy answers, "The Sahara!" Scott and Todd announce, "You're right!", to which Holly whips her head around and yells at the radio, "NO! No, you are wrong! The correct answer is Antarctica. A desert is any landform that gets less than 10 inches of water! They made an error!" Spoken like a true Thompson! I stink at trivia, unless it's anything related to the movies or television, but seem to remember helping Holly study for a test that had the same question. "By gosh, you're right Holly. You should write a letter!"

My new kick has been, "Feeling like you're getting screwed? You should write a letter! Wrong in some way? You should write a letter! Unhappy with the world in general? You should write a letter!" Holly's English class has been studying the correct way to compose a letter and one of her assignments was to pick a company that they would like to write a letter to. Holly didn't hesitate with her choice...Burger King. She's been annoyed with BK since the summer. She orders the same "plain" double cheeseburger and has gotten a "fully loaded" double cheeseburger the last three times we've gone since then. "I'm writing Burger King!" The benefits of living in a capitalist/Democratic society....I'll get the pen.

Imagine her surprise, and mine for that matter, when Burger King actually responded with a letter of apology, $5 worth of Burger King Bucks and a complimentary ticket to something I just can't remember now, but it excited the heck out of Holly. Her sister Heather was annoyed, "Oh man! That's not fair. Holly got all that stuff!?! I'm writing a letter to McDonalds!" I try not to laugh and quickly explain how that is just not how it works, etc....

"Better yet, send an email. I have their email address!" Holly is hesitant at first, wondering whether Scott or Todd or Bruce would be angry. She decides to set the record straight. She composes a very sweet letter introducing herself, her school, her teacher's name and the error.

We really didn't think about it much after that until Wednesday afternoon when a friend of mine at school during pick up excitedly says, "We heard Holly's name on the radio this morning!" I grabbed the sides of my face in disbelief! I missed it!?! How could this be? Then the realization that Holly must have missed it as well. Oh man, the disappointment is going to be great. How should I handle this? I was pissed, so Holly's going to be livid. I'll watch for her and see what happens.

The next moment, Holly bursts through the school doors and in the most animated I've seen her, ever, says without taking a breath, "A teacher in the teacher's lounge had Scott and Todd on at 7:30 a.m. and they heard Mr. B's name mentioned and they got my letter and they said my name and they said that I was right and the teacher ran up and told Mr. B. and I said that I did send it and yes I did tell them that they were wrong and everybody in my class couldn't believe it and asked that when I get rich if they could borrow a million dollars and then the other people in the hallway hear it and can you believe it? I'm famous!"

I am so proud of my little girl who now I fear we've turned into a poison penned monster. I also fear for any and all business or service related establishment either in the past or immediate future that Heather comes in contact with!
It's Just The Little Things - Really!
It’s just the little things that can drive me to the brink of insanity. To that bad place somewhere in between an anxiety attack and going absolute ape sh*t over what are just the little things, really. I’m thinking of changing my name to Sybil. Ooops, I am dating myself as Baby Boomers will understand quicker, unless you’ve seen the movie during a late, late, late version of the late show. In summary and for the benefit Generation Xers, I find myself suffering from a multiple personality type disorder when all is said and done.

I often say to my husband, “You just can’t imagine how many little fires I put out during the course of a day.” I can’t say that he hasn’t got a clue, because it’s not unusual for him to walk through the front door at the end of the day and find his four children in various states of emotional, mental or physical anguish and me hanging to the ceiling by my fingernails, ready to pounce with the slightest facial or verbal gesture of an unsympathetic nature.

Last night we were at the precipice of Hell itself. I was scheduled to work my four year old son’s preschool, which normally is quite a pleasant experience. My 2 year old daughter was in a good mood, much to my relief and, I trust, to my babysitting in-laws as well. My four year old insisted on wearing his new Spider Man snow boots because we had maybe 10 snowflakes stick. His snow boots on, I then do my own insisting that he wear a hat. Now, this may seem very mundane to anyone who has children living, staying or visiting in their house during the winter months. This, however, is Glen. He can be very difficult in most anything that requires a decision. This somewhat selective (okay, picky) trait, as well as his good looks, he gets from his father. Enter in my mistake, numbering now in the thousands, of suggesting he wear his hat from last winter. “Nooooooo. I hate that hat!” Enter in a total and unreasonable melt-down which has now made us late for our helper status arrival time.

We made it to school and he’s not wearing the hat, but we’ve made a compromise with a hooded sweatshirt underneath his winter coat. I am both relieved and yet hindered by the fact that half his class is feeling just as anxious when given the choice of using crayon or chalk on the craft project I am supervising. Poor little K. just about went ape sh*t (Sorry, I seem to have an affinity for that phrase today) when I helped her write her name. She told me that she couldn’t write it and asked that I help. It was very apparent to me and the whole class that I had committed mistake number thousand-something with her screaming, “I wanted my name on the top of the paper, not the bottom, you moron!” Mrs. G., with a calm and reasonable manner that can only come from years of working with children who have gone ape sh*t, explained she could certainly come back in 5 minutes and use another piece of paper if she’d like. I, on the other hand, felt as if I wanted to slap the sh*t out of little K.

Many 4 year old moods later, I was happy to be home and dealing with my, what briefly feels like much fewer in numbers, four children. It’s a Girl Scout night. HM will have to rush through homework, wolf down dinner and if the Gods of Motherhood are with me, her Dad will get home in time to run her to the meeting – saving me the trouble of bundling up three other very unwilling children. At the girls scout meeting place, I walk my four shivering and dazed by yet another rush out the door (no, Dad didn’t make it and, quite frankly, won’t ever get a chance to make it if he keeps this up). I am certain I look every bit as frazzled as I felt at the moment and I leave chanting, “He better be ….got to go food shopping….thinks I’m taking the baby tomorrow…..another thing coming!” A friend of mine and I make the universal “I am on my last nerve” eye contact and I rush back out into the cold while making a mental note to remind my husband to let the cat, which ate one of the Christmas ornaments and was leaving little packages of his own all over the house, out of our bathroom.

Back home again and an hour before pick up, my husband walks through the door and finds me, well, remember four paragraphs back? I give him the baby, grab my keys and quickly say, “You’re late. HM at girl scouts. Going food shopping. Got list. Will get HM on way back. They ate.” Rushing through Shoprite somewhere in between the diaper and cleaning product aisle, I realize that I’ve forgotten to mention about the cat. I finish loading the last bag at precisely the time I should be picking up HM. I race over to the meeting place and was happy to learn I wasn’t the last of the parent pickup crew. A friend of mine’s husband made a very characteristically witty and empathetic attempt at casual banter by saying, “I can’t believe YOU are so late!?!” I turn my head faster and probably uglier than that of any Exsorcist I scene and respond, “Oh, Shut Up!” Sybil kicks in and I quickly follow by saying to his daughter, one of HM’s very good friends by the way, “Now, of course you know I was teasing Daddy and that you should never say that word, because it’s very rude!” I doubt very much that I or my child will be invited over very soon and I don’t really blame them, either.

Getting home with HM and groceries intact, I make a third trip during unloading and see one of the bags on the ground surrounded by a pool of something. It was the apple juice I painstakingly sought out, that I normally don’t buy because it is so expensive, and was on sale at half price. The kicker to the breakage is that the bottle of juice was plastic! Enter my husband into our driveway where I am going, you guessed it, ape sh*t…”Blankety blank, blank cheap ass bottle! I hate today! Today sucks! Where’s the Tylenol!” I leave my poor husband to deal with the rest of the bags, the pool of apple juice and wondering who’ll he be going to bed with tonight.

Baby It's Cold Outside - No Presents For You!
It's gotten cold. Real cold. I heard on the radio this morning that the George Washington Bridge is frozen. Literally, frozen by the band of snow squalls that have run into some really humid air way up there on the GWB. There were numerous accidents reported in the counties surrounding our little neck of the Bayshore region of Jersey. I shook my head in dismay...

I love the winter, but hate driving in it even more. Not that I hate driving - it's driving with other people on the road, at the same time that I'm driving, that I hate.

Dropping off my two oldest girls this morning, I heard gasps of horror from the benches behind me. We were appalled to see that one of the school buses collided with a car right in front of what I always thought is a very dangerous entrance to our school. I reassure the children that it'll be okay. A police car has just passed the, what is becoming a very long line of anxious minivans, suvs and various other forms of families with children, traffic jam. The unfortunate, and probably now tardy for wherever he or she was headed, owner of the vehicle with the mashed front end is fine and calmly chatting with, who I swear is probably an ex-Navy Seal, crossing guard and school bus driver.

Again, for what probably won't be the last time today, I shook my head in dismay and said, "Tis the season... everyone has to be in such a God-awful rush. Leave your houses earlier! It's 25 mph, not 52 mph you dope! Gotta get ahead of the next person, don't ya'!?! Nobody has any manners anymore!" I don't consider whose fault it is because the drivers now represent the people I constantly run into (no pun intended) in my travels of never-ending rant goes on and on and on.

I'm sure that the children are not listening to what probably seems like my constant droning. They are too busy watching the commotion out their respective car windows because I hear, "I wonder if anyone I know was on that bus? Look, they all have to get off and walk the rest of the way to school! Cewl!"

We manage to bypass the commotion before the intersection is totally closed off...thank goodness for small favors. I let my precious bundles of bundled up joy out of the minivan and send them off with a kiss. I can still hear their excitement, "Wow! Cewl! I wish we could ride the bus to school! Those kids are famous..."

Back home again, I do a quick cleanup. My in-laws are coming over for noontime to baby-sit my two year old, while I am the parent helper at my 4 year old son's preschool for the afternoon. I sit down at the computer and begin to take advantage of some free shipping offers and early (early for me, anyway) Christmas shopping, when I glance out the living room window and yell for my son, "Hey, look! It's snowing!" My son and daughter race to the window and can't keep back their excitement, "Hurrraayyyy! It's Christmas!"

I call them over to the computer and say, "Well, it'll be Christmas soon enough. Want to help me shop for some Christmas gifts?" My son says, "Yeah, 'cause you're not getting any presents." I'm confused, which isn't a revelation by any means, "Huh?!?"

Half looking at me and half looking out the mini-snow storm happening outside he says, "Well, you've been Naughty. No presents for you!" I must have been visibly shaken because he follows with, "Well, you yell. All the time." "I do not yell all the time. Why would you say I'm on Santa's Naughty list?" Now he's obviously becoming frustrated with my ignorance to Christmas protocol, "Mom, you yell at me. You yell at the baby. You yell at the girls and you yelled at the poor guy who got into the car accident today. No presents for you!"

Okay, I may speak with emotion and use my hands a lot, but that's due to my European heritage and not because I'm a raving shrew. I can be a raving shrew, especially during a full moon and God help the recipient of my shrew-ness during that time of the month, but still, Motherhood has certainly taught me, if anything, self-control and patience. I try to salvage some of my eroding self-esteem and say, "Well, I'll promise to try and stop yelling so much, if you promise to help me - since you're on the Nice List and all. Okay?" He shakes his head in agreement and gives me a hug and says, "Okay. But Santa might not believe you! I'll write a letter and explain it to him."

Better yet, send an email!

The World According To Mom's Temper...
My four children and I have a little ritual every first day of the new month. We all stand in front of our wall calendar, either pleasantly reminiscing over the activities and events of the passing month or, if it was a particularly rough month as this past October was, we kiss it good-bye and say hello to a month full of promising new days. As far as my children are concerned, December is probably the creme-de-la-creme as far as the year goes, along with their respective birthday months of course. Yesterday, we began decorating for Christmas and I swear our kids are as wired as the house is at this time of year (I could probably extend the extension cords used two towns over). I guess I’m quite the instigator to their much illuminated moods, loving the holidays as much as I do.

My hacking, bleary-eyed, pasty-faced, stuffed up 10 year old and 7 year old daughters are home from school today. They’ve succumbed to the sinus infection and cough that has plagued their school for weeks. I am probably one of a handful of people who are happy to learn that the cold weather is supposed to return this week. Warm in combination with a wet winter is not a good thing to a house with four children, three of which attend a stuffy classroom full of little less than symbiotic carriers. Having a virus in the house could easily mean weeks of share and share alike. What, no fever and I still kept them home!?! With tickets already purchased for one of the Christmas shows in New York City for this Friday; you betcha!

So, the two older girls are cranky, quick tempered and craving attention – pretty much like a Pre-PMS thing, really. The baby is cranky, quick tempered and craving attention – pretty much like every day, really. The boy is oblivious to their moods and has been non-stop instigating a fight with his sisters – pretty much like a man, really. And I sit here wondering when, if ever, will I be afforded the opportunity to be sick, cranky, quick tempered and craving attention while oblivious to everything around me?

Having vacuumed the carpets and washing the floors in an attempt to keep down the amount of bronchial irritants, I began to prepare lunch (my breakfast) but I am soon run a foul once more as I realize that there is no bread, eggs or milk in the house. So, is it a wonder that my Christmas mood had dropped, threatening to hit an all time, “Bah! Hum bug!” low? I gather my sick and probably soon to be sick hoard into the car and head over to our blessed drive thru market which is much appreciated by this spent, frazzled and feeling a bit unsocial at the moment Mom. The fresh air does me good and I begin to think about my earlier fast declining mood…

Once home I think, “Oh, well, there is no use in feeling sorry for myself – nothing good could come of it. So, snap out of it!” I get to the business at hand - being a Mom. I begin doling out the doses of cough medicine; continue escorting trips to the bathroom, and giving hugs of sympathy and kisses of reassurance. After a few chants of, "You'll miss this one day...ohm...they'll fly the nest before ya' know it...ohm..." and I am at peace once more. I begin to get our dining room table ready for some Christmas crafting time when I come across a drawing made by my 10 year old - probably during the trip to the drive thru market as I seem to remember her furiously looking for a pad and pencil while I yelled, "C'mon Holly! The quicker we leave, the quicker we get home!" Her picture is titled Mom’s Temper and it’s a pretty good current dipiction of me wearing jeans, a t-shirt and chunky belt. I notice some a type of graph running along the left of my full-bodied portrait - starting at the top of my head and running down to my feet are the following levels of my temper, according to Holly:

→ Punishing
→ Starting To Scream
→ Yelling
→ Starting To Heat Up
→ Okay
→ Nice
→ Sort Of
→ All Right
→ Low

Once more, I sit here wondering when, if ever…

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