Halloweens Gone By

Posted by ZenMom Saturday, October 31, 2009 2 comments

Its Halloween night and as far as we can tell, a good time was had by all. Two out of four kids are happily in bed, still clutching their pumpkins. The other two are on their way home, no doubt in good spirits.

This Halloween was downright peaceful. Unlike the days of old, there was no mad rush to find costume pieces or arguments over who got what pumpkin. The older kids were self motivated and calm. That, I have to say, was kinda spooky.

Then in a flash, they were gone -- at parties or friends houses. They were all in such a hurry to get to their respective destinations we forgot the annual ritual of pictures, amidst the usual chorus of moans and groans, followed by hamming it up in front of the camera

We were left with uncharacteristic quiet. And the Little Stinker.  The scene was totally surreal.  Two parents, one child, tranquility.  It was just plain wrong.

So us two parents headed out with the little guy and went door to door in the neighborhood.  While it was great spending two-on-one time with our youngest, I kept flashing back to when the older kids were little.  The neighborhood was different then.  Mostly young parents like ourselves and tons of  kids.  We would head out in packs -- including the requisite scary monsters, pretty princesses and those adorable little kid giggles.

That was then.  Now, we're no longer young parents.  And most of the little kids are growing up, leaving an eerie silence to the streets.  So tonight -- while very cute and utterly enjoyable -- something was missing.  I mourned those days gone by, not to mention my younger ones.  I couldn't shake the feeling of being old and out of place.

That's not to say the evening was without its moments.  The Little Stinker was dressed up as James, his very favorite Thomas the Tank engine.  That in itself was priceless.  So were his feeble attempts at saying Trick or Treat instead of just taking the candy and running.

At first he was pretty shy, not yet clear on the whole concept.  But being the quick study that his is, he soon was bounding down the street, dashing ahead of us screaming, "Coming through!" on his way to the next house.  Once there, he'd methodically described a scene from some Island of Sodor adventure to the poor soul handing out the goods. Classic Little Stinker.

By the end of the evening, his pumpkin was so full, he enlisted his dad to carry it for him.  As for me, I carried James, eyes at half mast, all the while pleading, "One more house Mommy,  I LIKE CANDY!"

Halloween Wonderland

Posted by ZenMom Thursday, October 29, 2009 3 comments

The snow continues to fall.  And fall.  And fall.  I think right now we have about 20 inches on the ground and by the end of the day we should have more. So here starts our second snow day.  Even the hubby is home.

This is pretty freaky.  Its like Mother Nature is playing her own Halloween trick on us.  I knew I shouldn't have gone cheap on the candy.

It is pretty, I have to admit. Too bad the beauty is being drowned out by the screaming.  And the whining.  Oh we can't forget the whining.   Six people cooped up in my humble home for two days has a way of rattling one's nerves.

I had this idealistic picture in my mind of how yesterday should have gone.  Hot cocoa, fresh baked cookies, harmonious dealings with the kids.  Yeah, that happened.

Instead we had kids camped out in front of the TV for hours.  Worse yet I let them.  The grayness of the day left me in drowsy and slow.  I don't think I got anything on my list checked off.  When my husband got home I was caught face down on our bed napping.  What can I say, laziness ruled.

I admit, yesterday caught me off guard. But today I'm ready. I'm hunkering down, resolved to survive another housebound day.  Besides, the kids are already gearing up for sledding and I think I see the makings of a snowman in progress.  Time to enjoy our little taste of Christmas in October.

If the weather forecasters are anywhere close to accurate (its a big IF, I know) then tomorrow fall will return, so all will be well in the world again -- until Halloween and the annual sugar rush hits.  Ahh, but that's another post all together.

Snow, Snow Go Away

Posted by ZenMom Wednesday, October 28, 2009 4 comments

No way!  I woke up this morning to six inches of snow on the ground.  How pretty.  How peaceful.  How Zen.

Not exactly.  Along with those delicate white flakes came the news I dread most.  A snow day.

IT"S ONLY OCTOBER.  This can't be happening. Not yet.

Then again, this is my life we're talking about. Why am I surprised?

At the moment I have two three four kids and one big dog on the bed with me watching the news. This is not a dream.  I repeat, this is not a dream.

You may think my reaction is a little extreme.  And you're probably right.

I usually LOVE snow days.  Everything comes to a screeching halt.  For just one day, we have to slow down and relax. We bake cookies, sip hot cocoa and head to the sledding hill. But did I mention its only October?  The time of year we jump in crunchy leaf piles, enjoy the changing colors and some wonderful Indian Summer.  Oh, what happened to my beautiful Indian Summer? 

I shouldn't be surprised.  After all, this is Colorado we're talking about.  I've lived here long enough to realize anything is possible.  Like white stuff all over the ground three days before Halloween.

The worst thing about it?  Today was my day.  You know, the day when not only the older kids were in school, but the Little Stinker had Lunch Bunch.  Its the day I look forward to all week long.

I had plans.  Grand plans.  Bills to pay, projects to be done.  And rest.  Wonderful, glorious rest.

Instead I'm looking at my entire clan confined within these four walls.  All day.  All night. I think I feel a panic attack coming on.

Ahh, the best laid plans.  Guess I'd better get the hot cocoa going and pull out the old cookie recipes. After I head down to the basement to dust off all that winter wear.  Ready or not, its time to get out there and enjoy the snow.

Of Mommies and Menopause

Posted by ZenMom Sunday, October 25, 2009 4 comments

Life can be funny. Seems it likes to play some pretty cruel jokes on me in particular. Its like being repeatedly Punk'd without having Ashton Kutcher come out from behind a wall or curtain or whatever it is he does. Darn the luck.

What could be so bad, you might ask? Just when I finally had all my kids in school, I got surprise number one. As my twins (come to think of it, they were surprise number one) were finishing up first grade, I found out I was pregnant with child number four.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love the little guy. He touches our lives in ways we never thought possible.  I couldn't imagine life without him. But getting him into the world was a tad problematic.

First of all, it was a big jolt to the system. You see, in my mind I was done. I gave away all the baby things, was thinking of going back to work and had just gotten used to my time alone. Silly me.

Second, I was not spring chicken. This all came to be at the ripe old age of 42. Do you know what its like walking into a maternity store where all the other customers are 20 years your junior? It was quite a trip, let me tell you. So was re-entering the wonderful world of diapers, strollers and bouncy seats.

Third is the fact that pregnancy most definitely does not become me. I know so many people who loved being pregnant. Who actually glowed. Me? I took on a funky green hue. I drooled.  Yep, you got that right, I actually freaking drooled.  I also had morning sickness from hell not only in the first trimester, but the second and third too. It got so bad, I ended up sporting a lovely combination of tubes and IVs before all was said and done.

Once the little guy was born, things improved.  Although I'm convinced an old geezer like me is just not meant to run after a highly-active, super-precocious child.  Or wake up twenty times a night with a newborn. This little engine ran out of steam just looking at the mountain.

Then the cruelest trick of all was played on my poor, abused body.  About a year after the Little Stinker made his arrival, my hormones decided to go on strike. Seems they had enough of this whole child-bearing thing.

When I was pregnant, I used to joke(the operative word being joke) that since I was such an old pregnant person, I was gonna go straight from pregnancy to menopause.

IT WAS A JOKE, PEOPLE!  Come on, I didn't MEAN it.

Too late to take it back, I'm left to suffer the natural consequences.  Damn, I hate natural consequences.  Like the fact that instead of being able to loose my baby weight, I added another 20 on for good measure.  I could feel the pounds packing on every time I just looked at something yummy.

Oh, I can't forget the hot flashes.  Those pesky things always hit right in the middle of a meeting, a party or some other public venue. And the looks?  You'd think I'd grown two heads.  The gray hair isn't too pleasant either.  But that's nothing a little box every month or so can't take care of.  There's no way in hell I'm going to get the grandma question in the kindergarten pick up line.

But I have to say, the very worst of the worst is the mood swings. You don't think you're crazy when they start.  You're being perfectly reasonable.  Then, right in the middle of your hour-long rant about the price of eggs it hits you.  Holy crap!  Just get me my straight jacket, hon...I'll go ahead and make the call.

So if you find me ranting from time to time, have no fear.  I'm really not that scary.  Not all the time at least.  And if you want to keep your distance I understand.  I'm not hard to miss.  I'm the one pushing a stroller with one hand, holding a cane in the other with a constant stream of sweat running down my face.  Ain't getting old grand?

Monsters Inc.

Posted by ZenMom Thursday, October 22, 2009 3 comments

Today was another crazy day. A house that would make junk yards look good, a to-do list a mile long. So being the woman of action that I am, what did I do? Took the little guy and went to the park.

What's the big deal with that?

The following bad parenting confession should clear that up: As you may know, our little guy is the youngest of four. I'm an older parent. And that's not the best combination for doing fun, kid-oriented stuff on a regular basis.

Unlike his siblings before him, we don't do playdates, he has no friends his own age, and his usual outing consists of driving his older siblings to and from THEIR activities. And the time we do have alone together is usually the only time I can run errands, go grocery shopping or clean house.

That said, I don't know what got into me today. After leaving SuperCuts I just didn't want to go home to my growing mound of work. It's a beautiful day (compared to the snow two days ago) and the sun was shining. So to the park we went.

The little guy's reaction kinda surprised me. Suspicious and unbelieving, he kept asking, over and over again, "Why?"

That's when the mommy guilt really hit. Note to self: I've got to get out with him more often.

Now this wasn't the normal, sit-on-the-bench-exhausted-while-the-little-guy-runs-around-like-a-banshee type outing. Contrary to my usual MO, I was right out there with him, sliding on slides, swinging on swings and yes, I even did the monkey bars. Some of the teens ditching class at the local high school looked at me as if I was certifiable, but today, nothing could stop us.

The best part was the game. My highly imaginative little man wanted to play Monsters. Tickle monsters, scary monsters, Frankenstein, mommy monsters --  you name it, I played it. And the corresponding giggles could be heard 'round the world.  His were pretty loud too.

To sum it up, a good time was had by all.  This is one of those days I want to hold onto for a long, long time.

The moral of the story? Get out with your kids more. Not only does it do wonders for their disposition, but it might just make your day.

Do Tell

Posted by ZenMom Tuesday, October 20, 2009 3 comments

Today, I have a bone to pick.  And a confession to make.  Boy, I think I confess more to you folks than my priest. Actually, I know I do. Well here goes the confession de jour:


Now I know that I'm still pretty much a newbie at this whole blog thing, but come on. Everywhere I look, I see great blogs. Ones with hot designs. The coolest gadgets. Witty prose. Not to mention a zillion and five followers. To develop blogs of this magnitude takes work.  Lots of work.  Or sheer genius (and since I'm darn sure I'm not in that category we'll just leave this one be.) So that leads me to my query:

Where the hell do you find the time?

I don't get it.  Most of you out there are moms like me. And, unlike me, some of you even juggle family life with full time jobs.  So how do you find the hours in a day to get this all done?

It takes everything I've got to get a post out every other day or so, let alone research HTML and CSS to make clever tweeks to my sidebars or get the newest widget.  Don't get me started on the whole social networking thing.

And although I love all the comments and good wishes that have been posted along the way, I'm usually too scattered to reply to each one.  I'm ashamed to admit, that right now I have two awards that were graciously given to me by fellow blogging friends and I haven't gotten around to passing it on -- or even posting about it. A fine image I'm painting, don't you think?

Maybe I'm just not in the know.  Hey, it wouldn't be the first time, and probably not the last either. So what am I missing?

The thing is, I like this new world I've entered.  I want to be a part of it.  And I want to be good at it.  But you, my friends have given me some pretty hard acts to follow.  So, tell me.   What are your secrets? What tips and tricks allow you to balance your real-world lives and the cyber alter egos we all create?

Can you tell?

Pumpkin, Pumpkin on the Lawn

Posted by ZenMom Sunday, October 18, 2009 3 comments

This weekend was absolutely glorious.  Blue skies, warm weather with soft breezes.  A perfect time to head to the pumpkin patch.

Luckily we have one right in our backyard.  Literally.  Our property happens to back up onto one of our area's premiere pumpkin spots.  Every fall my kids watch out our back windows, anxiously awaiting that first hint of orange.  Then the mantra begins.

Are we going yet?  Are we going yet?  Are we going yet?  Mantra, questions, what's the difference?  Whatever it is, its incessant.

So on Saturday, the annual trip was made.  Each child combed the fields, taking great care to pick just the right one.  Its a painstaking process, but the results are well worth the effort.

That's why this morning was such a disappointment.   We woke to the sound of my son.  Nothing unusual there.  He's our normal weekend alarm clock, the kind that uses you like a human trampoline, all the while asking if you're awake yet.

But this time, there was something decidedly different.  No jumping, just panic.

"Who did that to the pumpkins?"

Turns out our brand new pumpkins, plus the one my son grew himself, we innocent victims of some sick suburban vandal.  As a result, our lawn sported a lovely shade of orange. Seems our beautiful display was now in pieces all over the place.

At first I wondered why we were targeted.  Then I looked down the street to see the same warm hue on the neighbors' lawns.

As for my kids, they were dumbfounded.  They just kept asking, "Why would someone do this?"

As adults, we know it was probably some teens getting their kicks by destroying seemingly disposable items.  But to my kids, I think a bit of innocence was lost.

When I asked if they'd like to go back and pick out new ones, they replied, a little deflated.

"Nah.  Let's just get some at the store."

I Promise Not to Kiss You

Posted by ZenMom Friday, October 16, 2009 3 comments

The last couple of weeks have been pretty low key around here.  What?  My house quiet?

Well, we've had our reasons.  As I posted before, my oldest son came home with the Swine Flu a couple of weeks ago.  After a week, it looked like it passed over the rest of us.  Pheww!  But by a cruel twist of fate, the incubation period is 7 to 10 days, and on about day 9, the swine hit the fan.

The two girls got it, followed quickly by me and then my husband.  The little guy is the only one in the clear right now.  Not to be outdone though, he got an ear infection from hell instead.  It threatened to rupture, but so far, so good.

The worst part for him has been the medicine.  Because of the severity, the doctor prescribed a new antibiotic.  Not the normal pink, bubble gum flavored kind, lets just say it didn't go over too well.  The first time I tried to get the syringe into his mouth, he happened to pull back just as I squirt it into his eye.  I'm pretty sure that wasn't in the little directions packet that came with the bottle.  The second time (and third and forth and fifth for that matter) it got into his mouth, but was quickly launched across the room as he spit it back at us.

You try telling a three year old to drink something that tastes like crap.  All the "but it will make you feel betters" in all the world won't make a lick of difference. Its gross and that's that.  We even tried mixing it with some chocolate milk.  It worked once, but now he'son to us yet again.  So right now, we've back to the drawing board, trying to find new and ingenious ways of sneaking the smelly stuff past him.

If this wasn't enough, I found out a couple of weeks ago that I have mono.  That's right, the Kissing Disease.  The problem is, with all the bugs going around here, nobody's been kissing anyone.  How do you like that?  If I'm going to end up with the stupid ailment, you'd think I could at least have some fun doing it. Oh well, such is my life.

What I'm left with is a fine combination of fevers, chills and the unrelenting urge to go back to bed.  Come to think of it, my eyes are feeling a bit heavy as I type, so time to sign off and say Good Night -- or Good Afternoon or Good Morning.  Whatever.

Night. Night.

Conferences Anyone?

Posted by ZenMom Wednesday, October 14, 2009 2 comments

Wondering why I haven't posted in a while?  Well, I spent the better part of the last week at teacher conferences.  And being the glutton for punishment that I am, I sat through three different formats for three different children at three different schools.

Now these meetings are a far cry from the ones I remember as a kid.  We'd spend a good week drawing pictures, cleaning out our desks and printing our names as neatly as we could in preparation for the big day.  The babysitter would be called and my parents would leave for the evening.   At school, my parents would visit the classroom, talk to my teacher and look at all my work. Back at home, us kids would wait nervously, hoping and praying that Mom and Dad would come home happy.

Fast forward more than a few years and my kids conferences come in several varieties.

There's the Let's Talk as Fast as We Can While Flashing Worksheets in Front of You until the Timer Goes Off variety.  For these you have exactly 20 minutes (and woe to the parent who goes over their allotted time) to go over how your child is reading, writing, adding and playing with others.  All the while Junior's teacher has a fake smile plastered on his/her face, conveniently leaving you about 30 seconds for questions.  This format usually ends with the "your child is right where they should be" line.

Then there's the Take a Seat in the Gym and Wait in Line to Talk to the Teacher Who Has No Idea Who Your Kid Is kind..  Rearing their ugly heads in middle school, these conferences (I use the word loosely here) has all the warmth and charm of a trip to the DMV.  The teachers all sit at tables lined up in the gym or cafeteria, while us parents wait patiently (or not) for our turn to confer.  When you finally make your way to the front of the line, you get the pleasure of an oh-so-intimate conversation while the growing line of equally impatient parents breathes down your neck.  All this trouble to speak to an educator who fumbles for your child's name, and basically regurgitates the same information you found on Infinite Campus earlier in the day.  But its all worth it when you here them tell you that your beautiful child is "right where they should be."

Now my personal favorite is the We're Gonna Let Your Kid Run the Show and Tell You How Great We're All Doing conference. Affectionately known as the Student Led Conference, your sweet angel sits in front of you, flashing that sweet, sweet smile. She'll show you her work, reads you her list of goals (dictated by the teacher earlier that day) and tell you how much she enjoys her class.  And if little Suzie's not doing so well?  Are you going to be the one to break her little heart by pointing it out?  Nope.  And the teacher knows it.  So there you sit, when to your horror you hear the words leave your lips. "That's great, kiddo. Looks like you're just where you should be."

So here I sit at the end of a long week scratching my head.  I realized that after hours spent at school  I still have no clue how my kids are doing. To top it off, my search for that elusive place where everyone is magically right where they should be has been a total flop.  Maybe if I kick my heels together three times, or sprinkle some fairy dust, Iit will magically appear.  In the meantime, I can't get my mind off that big elephant present at each meeting, trying desperately to get someone to notice it.

Bend It Like Beckham? Not Exactly

Posted by ZenMom Saturday, October 3, 2009 Comments

My husband is an avid soccer fan. He's been playing since he was a little kid and absolutely loves the game. Unfortunately at times its a very one-sided relationship, with the game selfishly not showing the love back.

This was evident after his last indoor game last night. As I came down to breakfast, there he was limping. A stoic kind of guy, he said it was nothing, just a few hard hits. But as the damage was assessed, we discovered he took a blow to the back and one to the ankle, the worst being the ankle.  It was swollen up like a balloon and sporting a lovely shade of purple.

This is not his first stint on injured reserve, mind you. In the last couple of years, he's had his share of back issues, at least one broken finger, a broken bursa sack and some pretty good bruises.  Now we can add -- as the ER doc told him in technical medical speak -- a "doozy" of a sprained ankle. Not to mention the chronically bloody knees and  aches and pains.

And here I used to think that soccer was such a civilized sport. Not as bad as football or hockey. I guess it can be, as long as you're not the goalie. A good one at that. My husband takes more dives and slides than most baseball players. He gives it 110% and then some.

Its this very enthusiasm that gets him in trouble. While his mind is definitely up for the challenge his body is in major revolt. A revolution that until this point he has chosen to ignore.

Overall, he's hanging in there, but it might be time to take one out of the Master's play book. Don't worry hon, even Beckham is slowing down a bit these days. Those old bones ain't bending like they used to. Maybe its time to take up a nice, serene hobby. Golf anyone?

You Swiene!

Posted by ZenMom Friday, October 2, 2009 3 comments

Confession of the Day:  I'm a rabid fan of anything Pink Panther.  The original, Peter Sellers version of course.  And just like one of Cato's surprise attacks, our nice pediatrician blindsided me this morning -- informing me my son now has the swine flu.  But instead of immediate dread, my first visual was of our dear friend, the Inspector.  Hey, it made me chuckle at least.

Unfortunately, my amusement has quickly given way to fear.  My Pond Boy may be the only one to come down with it so far, but I know its only a matter of time before the rest of us fall like dominoes.  That's just the kind of family we are.  Generous to a fault.

My oldest daughter has already been complaining of symptoms and the little guy was an amazing grump today. As I type, he's face down on his bed, fast asleep.  He went up there all by himself, and that's never, ever a good sign.  Peaceful, yes.  Comforting, no.

So right now I'm bracing myself for a very long weekend.  As soon as I finish typing, I'll start disinfecting   Then I'll be stocking up on the Echinacea and all things antioxidant. Oh crap, who am I kidding.  We're doomed.  You swine flu.

If I Only Had a Brain...

Posted by ZenMom Thursday, October 1, 2009 3 comments

I've been whistling this classic from the Wizard of Oz all day long -- with a skip in my step and a smirk on my face no less.

Lately, I've been feeling even more scattered then usual.  My addled mind cannot
seem to remember the smallest of details (which my kids take immense pleasure in reminding me, over and over again)  Focus has been non-existent, as well as planning, cleaning, cooking -- you get the idea.  I was beginning to wonder if something was seriously wrong with me.

Then today, like manna from heaven, a beautiful gift dropped from the sky.  When I saw the sign at the Little Stinker's preschool announcing their "Lunch Bunch"  I almost knocked the other moms out of the way to sign up.

Whoever came up with this little perk was a bonified miracle worker. They sure didn't have it when my older kids were little.  Basically, instead of rounding the little guy up after the whopping 2 1/2 hour session is over, he gets to stay for lunch and play with his friends.  The result?  Five glorious hours to myself.

I haven't had this much time to myself since school started.  Come to think of it, I haven't had this much time to myself since I had my little guy.  I ran errands, did chores around the house and even went for a run with the dog.  I was quick, efficient and productive.  Its amazing what a block of time without any interruptions will do to you. 

Its during this time of uninterruped thought that I had a personal epiphany.  I CAN think.  I CAN concentrate.  I CAN accomplish something .  OK enough of the CANs -- I'm having visions of the Little Engine That Could.  And that can't be good!

Whoops, I digress.  Back to my point.   I realized today that I don't have ADHD or Alzeimer's afterall.   I just have kids.  And the four of them have a way of distracting me into oblivion.
So for all those days when I wondered where my brain had gone, I realized it was here all along.  Just like our friend the Scarecrow.  I just needed a little peace and quiet to coax it out of exile.  Way to go Lunch Bunch.  And to my much maligned mind -- I look forward to seeing you again next week.

Zen and the Art of Motherhood

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