Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spin the Wheel! Today's Tantrum is....

You know what I don't miss about having preschoolers?  Tantrums.  I'm so thankful that my boys have grown up and can carry on a rational conversation without all the hysterics and blubbering.  Oh wait, just kidding!  Apparently we have not yet reached that point where tantrums are a thing of the past.  As with preschoolers, the older child can surprise you with a tantrum that appears out of thin air.  You never know what's going to spark the crying and whining, so it's like a bad soap opera where one character suddenly goes psycho and you're left wondering if they're really the evil twin come to ruin everything.  (Cue suspenseful music: duh duh duuuuuuhhhh!)

This week's surprise tantrum topic was "the haircut".  I am not a stranger to this particular tantrum as both my boys have tried different variations when I've suggested a simple trim.  What is so horrible about a damn haircut I ask you?  Granted, I had episodes in college where I came home from salons crying and carrying on, but I paid lots of money to those hacks who clearly did not understand what the "Rachel cut" entailed (ie, it was not supposed to resemble a mullet).  Now, I'm a mom of boys and I just figure, "Eh, it's hair and it'll grow back eventually.  I can always throw on a hat."

When my boys were very young I would trim their hair while they napped on the couch.  Cause that's not creepy to wake up to your mother hovering over you with a sharp set of scissors, right?  One time Zack woke up when I was trying to coax him to turn his head to the other side... but then he wouldn't go back to sleep.  He walked around for a day looking like Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face) with short-cropped hair on one side and curly locks on the other.  I had to wait for the next day's nap to even things out.

As my boys got older we would plop them in a chair with a lollipop to try to make it seem like a fun little game.  They would have none of it.  After a while they were covered in little hairs, tears, and red candy slobber running down their little chins, while the DumDum started to resemble a fuzzy Tribble instead of a lollipop. I caved and took them to the expensive kids' hair places where you pay a lot of money for them to sit in their own little jeep and watch Thomas videos, but it was no different.  Except that I was out twenty bucks and I was resentful because I could've done a better job.

My older son likes to go to a sport-themed place because he wants the "MVP" where you get a shampoo, cut, and style, not to mention a hot towel (for a prepubescent face), and a neck massage.  And it's still a crappy job.  Back to cheap-ass mom's salon for you!  Why does neither kid agree to a quick, easy military buzz cut which takes the least amount of time?

When Logan was finished with his traumatic haircut, I told Zack that he needed a cut as well.  He looked nervous after all the crying and carrying on his brother had done, and noticing that I was not in the best of moods he quietly scampered away saying something about just wanting his hair "thinned out" and that I could take him to my stylist later.  Ha!  Yeah, right.  He's just putting off the inevitable.

Maybe I'll have my evil twin take over the haircuts.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Childhood Fears: There's Always a Monster Lurking...

My boys are getting older and I have not had to drag them with me to the public women's bathroom for many years.  I forget some of the trauma that created - for everyone involved really.  I had to try to corral them toward the restroom and make sure we could all cram into the one handicapped stall and then admonish them not to unlock the door while mommy was going number one (they needed to know this or they would repeatedly ask).  I'd settled in, bracing myself for the loud comments about mommy's lack of a penis while the other ladies in line snickered.  But those poor, unsuspecting bathroom-goers also had to endure the wanna-be-ninja, not-so-stealthy lurkers who suddenly appeared under the adjoining walls to quizzically stare up at them while they did their business.  Uh huh.  Who's laughing now?

I almost had a complete meltdown the first time I allowed my son to go into the men's restroom unattended.  Those two minutes stretched on forever and all I could think about were the pedophiles who hung out, waiting for helpless boys who were starting to get too old to visit the ladies' room.  I loved the idea of making my kids count the entire time.  (Nudging door open a tad) "Louder!  I can't hear you!"  "I can't tinkle when I have to say numbers!"

Yesterday as I was entering a restroom I saw another mom shepherding her son in front of her.  He stopped suddenly as the door opened and the mom instinctively knew to calm his bathroom-fears.  "Honey, there's not even an air dryer in here.  It's gonna be alright."  Oh my gosh, I totally blocked this from my memory.  You had to stake out each bathroom to find out if it was gonna give your kids nightmares because of the loud airplane takeoff that occurred each time someone decided not to just wipe their freshly-cleaned hands on their mom jeans.  I was thinking about that phase when I heard them discussing the next stressor.  Would the toilet suddenly decide to flush on its own?  Yep, it was an automatic flusher.  She kept reassuring him that it was alright while also praising him for getting the pee in (or near) the toilet.  As I stood up I heard the loud whooshing flush of my toilet over his little high-pitched squeals.  Oops.  Sorry buddy.  His own toilet monster soon came to life and he again freaked out, but mom was telling him the whole time, "It's fine honey.  See? We're all OK, right?  Nothing happened to us and you are fine."  You never know how long this bathroom avoidance stage will last, or what other events will trigger the same reaction.

When Logan was 2 1/2 years old we went into a party store in early October.  Big mistake.  The aisles were festooned with creepy Halloween clowns, bats, and hanging dismembered mummies.  He was completely traumatized.  I had to leave the store and go back later without kids to pick up the paper goods I needed to donate to some school event.  For the next year or so he wouldn't go into ANY store without first having a top-rated, freakout tantrum.  He was expecting a damn troop of clowns to jump out at him from under an apparel carousel, or some ghost to come sailing down the cereal aisle and suck out his soul.  It took a good five years for him to go willingly into a Halloween store.  And then who was the one screaming when a giant, fuzzy spider jumped up on a motorized lever?  Yeah... it was actually me.  But the cashiers were very reassuring that most of the customers had been startled.  I'm sure they witnessed that same kind of ineffective hopping, coupled with a bleating yelp hundreds of times each day (I keep telling myself).  Good thing I could quickly run off to the bathroom by myself!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pets - They're So Relaxing

If you are a parent, you know how stressful it can be to manage your children, the household, and everything that entails.  When you're finally thinking you might have things under control and the ship is moving along swimmingly, what happens?  Someone decides that it would be a good time to add another pet.  Because we've obviously figured out how to successfully feed and clean up after small humans, so a dumb, furry animal couldn't be much harder, right??? 

You may have already read about our issues with the aquarium of horrors.   In the past we've had successive hamsters, hermit crabs, freshwater fish, and my sweet kitty, Toonces, who lived to be 19 years old (thus outliving his pop-culture name reference).We also currently house two guinea pigs and two dogs, who may or may not scheme to create horrific circumstances that try my sanity.  Those cuddly pets who know when you need a sweet, nonjudgmental, caring friend to stroke?  Yeah, those are not my pets.  These guys put me through the wringer.

Yesterday my 8-month-old dog was doing her usual wind sprints around the house when my younger son encouraged her to jump up on my nicely-made bed to wrestle with him (there are so many things wrong with this, but I'll just move on).  As she's hopping around and prancing all over, he asks "Why does she have redness on her paws?  Ohhhh, she must have gotten into my silly putty!"  What?  Really?  She's been tracking some blood-red goo all over my house?  Yep, sure enough, it's ground into the carpet in a few key places.  She also managed to wear some on her back as a badge of honor for the rest of the day because there was no way it would loosen its grip on her fur.  (By the way, she does not like anyone messing with the pads of her feet, so clean up was super-fun.)

Before we lost our minds and decided to get a puppy, we'd been living a relatively chaos-free life with just one dog for the past 6 months.  And the guinea pigs, but they don't really count so long as you give them some veggies and clean their cage regularly.  They only scream when I walk in the room.  Honest.  Have you ever heard a guinea pig squeal?  Snowfall has some aversion to me so she goes into a full conniption fit when I open the door.  Anyway, our deaf (and dumb) 14-year-old Australian Shepherd had been living the good life as the sole canine.  He thought he had earned a gold-lined walkway to the pearly gates, but now he has to contend with this manic German Shepherd who just wants to get him to play - even if that means she has to surprise tackle his arthritic hips and nip him to make him chase her.  Aww, aren't they cute playing in the backyard?  See how his lips are pulled back and he's frothing?

Just when we thought we'd fixed up the drip system from our last dog (I'm getting to that, bear with me) she has figured out that she likes the taste of PVC.  I saw her running through the yard with a sprinkler head in her mouth, trailing 3 lengths of drip system tubing, looking like a giant furry lobster with its antennae waving in the wind.

She's gotten to 3 of my shoes - from different pairs of course, and is currently working on our leather couches.  Here's my attempt to shame her into better behavior.

I'm sure we are far from the end of it, but I'm hoping to keep the destruction to a minimum. Our last dog, Timber, was the master of ruin.  Unfortunately after he attacked me he could no longer live here anymore.  My kids were more devastated by the fact that he had to go than they were about the fact that I had fatty tissue sticking out of the jagged tooth-shreds in my arm.  Before all of that, though, he worked hard to trash what he could around here.  He ate rose bushes, sago palms, screens, and baseball gloves to name a few items.  He routinely pushed over the trash cans and spread the contents around.  I won't add all of the pictures, just a snapshot of the mayhem he caused.
Didn't want to be outside in the rain
Before it was chewed in half
One of the many times I re-screened the doors

But my most memorable "What the hell just happened here?" was when we came home after spending a full day at an amusement park for my son's birthday.  It had been hot, and we'd left plenty of water and shade coverings for the dogs out back, but Timber apparently decided he'd rather be in the house.  He climbed up onto a hose box, pulled down the window screen, crunched the crap out of our blinds, and tried to get his big fat ass in through our kitchen window - where he would have landed in the sink - if he had been successful.

So here's hoping for some sanity while I wait for the next household tragedy.  It could be lurking right around the chewed-up wall.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

In Honor of Mother's Day

It is that time of the year again.  The one blessed day of the year that we take a moment to gaze in wonder upon all of the "Mom" figures in our lives who have helped to shape us into the wonderful, competent, amazing people we are... or at least kept us from dying in oh-so-many horrible ways. Thanks to pressure from card companies and restaurants, Mother's Day has become an overblown event that threatens to rival the new crop of independent music festivals springing up everywhere.

Buy your tickets now!

Honestly, my favorite things about Mother's Day are the heartfelt hugs, the handmade crafts and jewelry, and the few moments when my boys try to pretend that they love and care about each other.  Oh, and any times when there is complete silence and I'm by myself.  Because, really, do you want to spend all day with your kids attached to you?  No.  It's Mother's Day.  A simple brunch, some flowers from the garden, and a card are plenty of celebration.  Then I want to pretend that these monkeys don't exist.  Come on, you know I mean that in the nicest way.

I was reflecting on all of the things that make me a mom (besides the horrible jeans anyway) and I started ticking off some of my inherent "mother" traits that I never thought I'd show to the world.  Here's a list of some of my Mom confessions: 
  • I delight in embarrassing my kids in front of their friends.  You should try it.  Pull up to school singing Fun's "Carry On" at the top of your lungs and see what color they turn!
  • I say the weirdest things and they sound sane to me at the time.  "Don't you dare stick your head in there!  And if I hear you roll your eyes at me again, there will be buckets of heck to pay!"  
  • I will (grudgingly) give up my favorite foods if my kids give me their patented sad-puppy-eyes and I won't even stab them with a fork to retrieve said food.
  • On the other hand, I mindlessly eat the cold, picked-at remainders of their meal when they don't want any more.
  • We bought a bigger car for the sole purpose of driving carpools with even more kids.
  • I expect to find dirty clothes everywhere in my house... and then I usually find items in places I never would have expected.
  • My oldest used to suffer from reflux and seemed to vomit every time we'd try to go out to eat.  I could tell when he was about to throw up at a restaurant and I would just shove a receptacle in front of him with one hand and keep eating my own meal with the other hand without losing a beat.
  • My idea of fun is to watch kids run around a field playing their favorite sports. (Although, I have to admit it is more fun talking with friends and sipping special mommy juice while watching the sports.)
  • I will watch the same movie over and over and over again if it's the one my kids are currently obsessed with.  Notice, I didn't say I enjoyed it.
  • I make up strange word combinations to try not to swear.  My boys loved it when I stubbed my toe and yelled "Fudgy poop!  Holy sh...ugar.  Gosh darn!"  Sometimes they try to help me out:  "You know, you can just say 'Son of a biscuit' instead!"
  • Some of my most cherished artwork was made with acrylic paint and a tiny handprint.
  • Poems about kids growing up make me cry - every time I read them.
I hope that you have a mother to cherish and shower with attention, or that you are a mom who will receive much love and affection.  Just remember, after the initial celebration, let mom relax with a good book and a tasty drink, and some solitude.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Acupuncture Visit - Hello, hello????

For the past five years I've been struggling with vertigo related to Meniere's Disease.  Coupled with constant ringing in one ear, I've become a confused, dizzy mess who says "Huh?" a lot.  I recently had an extreme episode of vertigo (including vomiting due to a motion-sickness effect) while at work.  Parents of patients in the ICU might not feel so confident in their nurse when she is sitting hunched over a pink, plastic basin in the middle of the unit because she can't move anywhere until the spinning subsides a bit.  Just guessing.  So I decided to seek alternate treatments to combat these debilitating attacks.

Our insurance covers a certain number of acupuncture visits per year, so I turned to the list of local providers.  I researched a few and called to make an appointment with one of the best-reviewed people in my area.  I have an appointment for 2 weeks from today - and the assurance that they'll call me if anything opens up in the meantime.  So I called number 2 on my list and got an appointment for two days later.

I went to the doctor's office today, checked in right on time, filled out the paperwork, and proceeded to wait.  Because you know that no matter what you're being seen for in any doctor's office, you must wait.  That's why they've spent big money for a waiting room, complete with mounted flat-screen TV showing Inside Edition. So already, I feel a bit violated.

Forty minutes (40) after my scheduled time, a slight, forward-leaning Asian lady bustled in through the front door... and a few seconds later my name was called.  I was shown to a back room which I swear is mostly used as the filing/storage room.  It was large, with ample space for the typical massage table, but there were also stacks of crates, a mail bin, and an abandoned-looking desk.  She obviously did not have time to read the paperwork I was required to fill out.

- Why you come?
I get vertigo and ringing in my ear, so I wanted to try something new.
- Let me see your tongue.  You stick out. (She demonstrates.  She also reaches to check my pulse)
- Your heart boom boom.  Very strong.
Yes, I have high blood pressure. (Thinking, I wrote that down 3 or 4 times on the questionnaire)
- I know.  I feel, very high.  You sleep well last night?
Yes, sure.  It was fine.
- Really?
Uh, yep. (Now I'm worried my cover-up has failed and I look extremely tired)
- You undress and put on gown.
- Yes, everything.
(Seemed like overkill, so I left my underwear on because I'm a rebel... and also shy and uncomfortable in this back room)

She proceeds to start right in on the needle poking.  No preamble, no description of what she's doing or why, or what I'm supposed to be getting out of it. Just various needles sticking out of my forehead, tip of my nose, around one ear, my shins, wrists... It's not really uncomfortable, just weird.  During this time one or two office workers sneak in to go through to another area, or get more copy paper or something.  I don't know.

- You have headaches?
- Really? No?
Um, nope.
- How your lobac?
- Your lobac? Lobac! (She pokes me on my side)
Oh!  My lower back is fine.
- Really? Hmm. You want live long life? You need lose weight.
Yes, I know.
- You too big.  Make blood pressure too high.  Bad for you.  You need lose weight.
Got it.  All my life. (I'm thinking if you can jab a needle somewhere to help me that'd be great.)
- You close eyes now.

I close my eyes, listening to the ringing of the phone, the humming of some generator near this back room, and her shuffling around the room.  She's picking up the needle wrappers and rearranging things in the overstuffed, ancient doctor's bag she brought into the room.  She accidentally kicks something that goes skittering across the floor.  More ambling around and the zipping of her bag.  I'm waiting for some explanation as I crack an eyelid just in time to see her little arm sneak in as the door is closing behind her, and she flicks the switch to turn off the lights.

Now, this is no spa-like room with low lighting and relaxing music.  The only light source is the digital display on the phone, and the annoying blinking lights showing people who might be on hold to make an appointment with this insane little woman who has just left me in this room.  Is she going home for the day?  I can't very well get up with these needles in me to call for someone.  If my phone was closer I'd actually call the office to ask if she's still in the building.  As the minutes pass and I'm becoming more and more uncomfortable and stressed I start to wonder how this is helping my already horrible blood pressure.  Not good for long life.  Is this a Seinfeld episode?  All I know is, if she has indeed left me in here because she forgot and got sidetracked, surely one of the office workers will come in soon to restock and he or she will rescue me.

Finally, about 10 minutes later she returns and suddenly flicks on all the too-bright overhead fluorescent lights.

- I give you more time for your blood pressure.  (She proceeds to remove all the needles and then poke me with some pointy device.)
- I no see these moles before.  I should have put needles here.  (More pressing of the poky thing onto the moles on my face.  Back and forth between two particular ones.  She pokes around down by my feet, then grabs my ankles and sort of shakes me back and forth, causing me to jiggle.  Remember, no bra under the gown)
- You feel better now?
Uh, yessss.  Sure. (Just get me out of here!)
-Good.  You feel so much better?
(If I agree, she'll let me go)

Somehow, I'm finally done and she tells me that I should come back in a few days - you know, because of my dangerously high blood pressure.  I'm not sure if she's expecting me to get thinner in that time as well.  Another worker knocks on the door to see  if she's almost done with the room.  All I can think is they must have some furniture that needs to be moved STAT.  I go out to the receptionist as I'm leaving because she still needed my copay.  She explains to me that they only have one phone line for the fax and credit card machine so they can't run the card when receiving a fax.  As I reach the comfort of my car, I look in the mirror to check whether I appear any more tired than usual.  There's a bright red drop of blood on the tip of my nose that the receptionist neglected to mention during our conversation!

As for my symptoms?  Well, I still have the ringing in my ear, just as loud as before.  I haven't had a vertigo attack yet... but I definitely think my head is spinning!