Monday, August 15, 2011

Blessings from Tears...

I entered a contest with Real Simple magazine about an "unexpected friendship".... here is what I wrote.

When I first met Amy, I was immediately drawn to her warm personality. I admired her from afar for a long time, never really having an opportunity to connect. I felt like a silly school girl, longing to be the popular girl’s “BFF” but not knowing a way in. Last year on a chance meeting, she shared exciting news that she was expecting after trying to conceive for ten years. I was also dealing with infertility and we quickly realized how much we had in common. A friendship began to build.

Shortly after, I learned she had lost the baby. I remember wishing that we were closer so that I could reach out to her. I didn’t know how I would be received as just an acquaintance. When I saw Amy a few weeks later, she embraced me like we had known each other our entire lives. Our friendship continued to grow.

This year I found myself in a similar situation. I finally got pregnant but then lost the baby a few weeks later. I called Amy immediately. I knew she would have a warm hug, thoughtful experience and comforting words for me. Sharing this tragic bond brought our friendship to a new level.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times Amy has saved me. It was her words alone that brought me out of the darkness. She patiently listened and comforted me for hours. She never expected anything of me... in fact she THANKED ME! She said that I was the reason she was finally able to heal.

Our friendship is a true example of how something beautiful can rise out of your darkest moments. I never imagined that this woman, whom I longed to be friends with a few months ago, would become my everything today.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Worst part of the job...

I have had some pretty crappy jobs in my life. I started off working for my mom in her gift shop, which I completely loathed. Not that I ever had to do any real work or wasn't paid well, but having to spend EXTRA time with my parents when I was a teenager was utter torture.

My mom was less than excited when I "resigned" to work at a local pet store. Less pay. More work. Teens aren't always so smart, ya know. I spent my summer scrubbing fish tanks and cleaning puppy poo from plastic crates. It was very glamorous.

The next year I decided to move on to kids... because Hey, at least I wouldn't be cleaning up poop. Wrong again. I worked at an after-school day care and you wouldn't believe the number of "accidents" these little elementary school children had! At least the puppies never talked back.

I also worked in a factory that made generic medicines... for three whole days. Believe it or not, I am not cut out for manual labor or the night shift. Go figure.

Then there was insurance.... that held me captive for over six years. It wasn't a horrible job, didn't involve feces, screaming kids, or manual labor... but it was insurance. Not very exciting, not my passion.

But for the last four years, I have had my dream job.

About halfway through my pregnancy with Ryker, the hubs and I made a plan for me to be able to stay home. He got a great new job that offered a larger salary and amazing health benefits and we could not justify my working full time and paying daycare for FOUR kids. It didn't make sense. So at 7 1/2 months pregnant, I quit my job. So long insurance... it's been real.

I spent the next couple of weeks getting use to the idea of being a stay at home mom. I got up with the girls and got them off to school (and promptly went back to sleep), ran errands all day long (and napped in the afternoon), got the house cleaned to the highest OCD degree (then took a little rest), and had dinner on the table when the hubs got home (then went to bed at 8pm).

When Ryker arrived... sleeping was a distant memory. But I loved... no ADORED... every moment of it. I nursed him for the first year with no supplements (the child would NEVER take a bottle) and was never away from him for more than three hours. Again, I adored it. I got to see all the firsts, spend my days playing silly games with him, watching him take his 30 minute power naps... it was glorious. I also had the joy of being there for the girls when they got home from school instead of sending them to some sitter (who I typically never got along with).

It has been amazing, even though it does involve feces, screaming kids, manual labor and so much more.

In the last couple of years, I have treasured every moment of being able to be home with my kids. The special bond Ryker and I share is unbelievable... we are still attached at the hip even though he is now four. I love being able to sit down with the girls and do homework with them or be able to attend their special events at school.

Motherhood is by far my favorite job I have ever had.... hands down.

But sometimes it is not so easy...

Sometimes even I have to be the bad guy, which is very difficult because I am usually a total pushover, especially when it comes to Ryker.

Yesterday at dinner, Ryker was given a piece of brocoli and a carrot to eat. We are taking baby steps here because they child has NEVER liked vegetables, all the way back to the strained variety. But we are trying to broaden his food spectrum and make him try new things. This typically doesn't end well. We have finally moved passed the point of him instantly projectile vomiting the moment he tastes something foreign in his mouth. Now we just cough and gag and cry.

Last night was no different. He was forced fed broccoli which he then spit into the cup trying to "wash it down". Then we made him eat the carrot. And here come the tears.

We tried every trick in the book... if you eat it, you can go outside and play. If you don 't eat it, you're going to bed early. Nothing worked. He sat there crying and gagging with a partially chewed carrot in his mouth. I was determined to make my point so I picked him up and carried him upstairs to his room for bed. More tears. I spent ten minutes in his room while he desperately tried to swallow the carrot. My heart is breaking at this point, but I can't turn back now. I spend another five minutes trying to get him to spit out the carrot so he can just go to bed. Finally he relents, spits out the carrot and crawls in bed sobbing.

I hug him. I kiss him. I tell him that next time he should eat his vegetables so this doesn't happen again.

He replies through his tears, "But Mommy, I thought you loved me."

Crushed. Being the bad guy, worst part of the job.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


This week I was so excited for Ryker to start his swimming lessons. He has grown by leaps and bounds this summer in the swimming department. He can swim a pretty decent distance under water without help, float on his back all by himself, and tread water a little bit. No more floaties or vests at the pool for him. Even still, I thought it would be good for him to be taught by a real lifeguard (and not just me throwing him in the deep in... sink or swim, son).

We had to be at the recreation club at 8:30 and arrived right on the nose. I signed him in and proceeded to head over to the benches to watch my little Michael Phelps in the making. I was immediately intercepted by the Parks & Rec director who told me that parents had to wait outside of the fence during swim lessons.

Of course, me being me, questioned the reasoning for this. She advised me that it is for the child's safety and to help the lifeguards instruct the class more efficiently. When parents are close, the children are easily distracted.

Ok, seriously... we are talking about a class full of four year olds. The pool is intimidating enough as it is without these little kids worrying about where their mommy is! They are suppose to jump in the pool, with an instructor they don't know?

Not wanting to cause a scene at 8:30 in the morning in front of small children, I hung my head and took my spot on the outside of the fence. Unfortunately the sun was rising on yet another scorcher of a day and beaming its sizzling rays where all the parents stood waiting... like little puppy dogs waiting to get picked up at the pound.

My son's class then moves to the opposite side of the pool where I can barely catch a glimpse through the chain links.

Forty five minutes of being exiled... standing in the dew drenched grass in flip flops, sweat rolling down my neck, and not being able to see my son's impressive dog paddle. And on being distracted? Ryker must have asked the instructor 20 times where his mommy was.

I don't know what it is about a pool, the heat and ignorant people (life guards or parks & rec directors) but I seem to black out and turn into Monster Mom.

I proceeded to express my unhappiness with the situation with the director after class was over. And since she had been standing in the shade the entire time, she was very sympathetic. Or not. In a pointless maneuver, I am revving up my argument and she stops me in my tracks, "Look Mrs. Simpson, its pool rules. Like it or not. You can come back tomorrow or would you like a refund?"

At this point I did in fact want a refund, but more importantly I wanted to argue. And rub my sweaty armpits all over this condescending bitch :)

But for the second time that day, I hung my head and stomped off to the other side of the fence to get in my furnace-mobile and go home. To the comfort of AC.

Ryker will now be taking private swimming lessons.... in the bath tub.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Enough already...

The last few days in Culpeper have been hell... literally. With temperatures topping out at 104 degrees and the heat index over 120 degrees, what's a girl to do? Especially a girl that is supervising five children?!

This week while my sister is basking in Bermuda's beautiful beaches (and significantly less humidity) I have been watching her daughters (plus two of my own). No big deal because I am super Mom and what is three more? Except these poor kids can't step outside without their little dirty faces melting off from the heat. Any attempted outside adventures have lasted less than five minutes and result in the need for large amounts of ice water and popsicles!

For the kid's last day together, I figured we would have a day at the pool (because you can't really feel the sweat when your swimming in it). Great idea... I gave myself a pat on the back for being such a great mommy/aunt and braving the heat to give the kiddos a fun day!

In the words of Julia Roberts.... Big mistake. BIG! HUGE!

We arrived at the pool right at 11AM (because last week I was turned away when the pool was "At Capacity" and I wasn't about to miss out today). I was a few minutes early so it didn't alarm me that no one was there yet... you know how employed teenagers are these days. And I figured the lifeguards were still recovering from a Monster energy drink binge from the night before.

At 11:15 more people were arriving and we were all huddled under a small bit of shade the club house offered.

11:20 - Getting more annoyed. I put a call into the property manager. No answer, left voicemail. Sent email.

11:30 - I have now sweated off about 12 pounds and the kids have drank every bit of liquid I brought for us. Surely they would be here soon. Surely the manager would call me back. Surely.

11:55 - Why have I stood out here for so long? The kids are dripping with sweat. I keep thinking I have bugs crawling up my legs but its actually the sweat running down my legs. I have a brief argument with the receptionist at the property managers office who swears that the manager is in but just isn't picking up the phone.

Me- Are you in an office setting... can you go find her?
Snooty Tooty - I'm not allowed to leave my desk to do that.
Me - Is your office air conditioned? Because this sidewalk isn't and I would like to know why NO ONE is here and why I can't get in touch with ANY ONE!
Snooty Tooty - Would you like to hold Ma'am?
Me - No. I would like to swim. Can I talk to a supervisor?
Snooty Tooty - I'm sorry Ma'am, this doesn't constitute an emergency and our supervisors are to be contacted for emergency's only.
Me - It will be if I don't talk to someone.
Snooty Tooty - Please hold.

And I leave another message for a supervisor (although the bitch probably put me through to the janitor or something)

Noon - Drag the crying, whining, slick with sweat children back to the car because I am officially DONE!. And they cry and whine more because they are hot and want to swim. I relent and agree to wait 10 more minutes in the comfort of the 95 degree car on the leather seats that have now reached hot lava status.

12:15 - Carol calls from the property management company (and claims she is a supervisor but I'm pretty sure she was a janitor still) and apologizes - like it matters at this point. Both guards simultaneously called out at 10:45 and new lifeguards are on their way and should arrive in a few minutes.

Furious, annoyed, demonic... these are all words that only briefly describe my state of mind at this point. But seeing as I have waited for an hour and a half, what is a few more minutes. I call an order in for pizza since the kids haven't had lunch yet and resolve to make the best of a crappy day.

And so we wait.

And wait.

A little after one, I am ready to explode. Again, why am I still waiting? I think it was a matter of pure stubbornness. I refused to take these sweaty little kids home without submersing them in some type of water. I refused to deal with tears and disappointment of five kids who needed to get in that pool as much as I did.

I call the property manager for one last bitch fest... and luckily for them, they closed at 1pm. Convenient.

At 1:30, I lose all hope and am ready to forgo the pool, the pizza, the day! And then a little angel car pulls up and out rolls two red-suit-clad lifeguards. And the pool company manager that is unforunate enough to encounter me, who has now been waiting for over two hours. Again, why did I wait that long? Oh yeah, now the pizza man is here.

Evidently, there are no lifeguards they could call locally and had to dispatch them from Alexandria. Which by the way... the darling supervisor/janitor knew at 12:15 when she called me and told me the would be here in a matter of minutes.

The gates of heaven opened up... well the pool gates actually and after waiting another agonizing ten minutes for them to test the water, we were able to swim. We all jump in feet first anticipating the refreshing relief of the pool... too bad it was like warm bath water.

We all swim for a while. Breaks are agonizing because the moment you get out of the water, your skin begins to sizzle. The kids complain they are hot. I lovingly respond, "Deal with it. Swim and like it."

By four o'clock, we all have sweated and swam long enough.

Thank goodness for the comforts of air conditioning... walking into the house was like an oasis of wonderfully blessed COOL!

But again today, heat indexes up in the 120's. And me? I'm comfortable in the AC and any ideas of the pool have long escaped me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Any other day...

Today is my Dad's birthday. He would be 63 today.

But for me, it was like any other day. I woke up this morning and immediately remembered what today was... but as usual in my house, I'm never able to sit still long enough to really let difficult things sink in. I went about my day, running the kids to camp, to a doctor's appointment, the grocery store... always busy. And the weight of the day escaped me.

As usual though, when you ignore something it tends to come back and kick you in the ass with a vengeance. After running at max speed through the grocery store, I hopped in the car in a rush to pick the kids up from church. The radio starts playing "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away".

....cue the tears....

I miss my Dad. But more importantly I hate all the things he has missed.

I wish more than anything he would've had a chance to meet his only grandson. I wish that adorable little stubborn boy of mine could have known his Papa. I can't even imagine what Ryker would have meant to my Dad. Or all the fun and experiences they would have shared by now.

I honestly believe that even though they never met, they share some type of connection. Ryker has a small birthmark on his arm, and we have always told him it was an "angel kiss" from Papa. Ryker talks about my Dad like he knew him and he tells me all the time how he misses him.

Everyone does... my sweet baby girl tears up every time the topic of my Dad is brought up. She was only two when he passed but she has retained memories of him to this day.

My Mom still cries for my Dad. I know she is lonely and missing him all the time. I can't not imagine the heartache she feels from losing her best friend and partner.

Tonight, five of his grandkids sent up balloons to Heaven. We stood in my back yard and sang Happy Birthday. It wasn't long before Papa caught the balloons and we could no longer see them.

It melted my heart to see them looking up to the sky, loving and remembering him.

I just hope he knows, that no matter how busy life gets, we have not forgotten him.

Happy Birthday Daddy...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stuck in a hole.

Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I may not be... how should I say this... the absolute best driver. I tend to bump into things here and there. I get it honest though, my mom's van has seen more bumpers than a NASCAR vehicle!

I am also terrible at parking and backing up. Luckily my van is equipped with back up sensors that I am sure have saved a few pedestrians and mailboxes. I try though, honestly I try.

Yesterday I decided I would park behind the store because I had no parking pass and was already slapped with a parking ticket last week (oh, the joys of a small town). Doesn't sound too dangerous right? Well behind the store there is an alley and two spaces that are flanked by two very ominous brick walls. I had a hard enough time getting my van (which by the way is the widest on the market) into the space and straight. I honestly didn't have a clue how I was going to get it out.

When it was nearing closing time, I opened the back door to take stock of my situation.


The tenant above the store that owns the other parking space had slipped her SUV in (I have no clue how) at some point.

Remember now, there are walls on either side of us and a nice brick wall on the other side of a VERY NARROW alley. And let us not forget the fact that... well HELL... I'm not a good driver!

So while I am debating how I can airlift my van out or maybe just sleep in the back of the store for a night, a friend stops in to say hello. I show him my dire situation. And he laughs. Pretty much at me.

And after he is done laughing, he agrees to help try to rescue my wide-ass van from its tiny hole. And he spends about 10 minutes and completes what I believe to be a 94 point turn.

And voila... my van is free! And will never be parked back there again. Go ahead Town of Culpeper... feel free to ticket my illegally parked van that is comfortably situated in a VERY open space with no brick walls or oppressive SUV's!

Monday, July 11, 2011

I. Hate. The. Dentist.

So much that I haven't been in two years.

It is funny how much time can make you forget. Like after childbirth, you forget all about the agony you just went through when you look at that little smiling pudgy face.

I am writing this so I DO NOT FORGET. I hate the dentist. It is agony.

It is a sick and horrible chorus of drills and suction and scraping. It is the nauseating smell of latex gloves. The headache you get from squinting from the either the spotlight they shine on your mouth or to dodge the water sprays. The horrible taste of blood in your mouth. The white knuckles and numb toes from gripping within an inch of your circulation.

And it is the hygienist that smiles and politely asks while digging and prodding and making you bleed if you have been flossing. No bitch, that would be why you are scraping my soul out from between my teeth.

Thankfully the dentist pops in for a 60 second interruption to tell me that I have to get my wisdom teeth pulled. How does she manage that and make the big bucks? What exactly is it that the dentist DOES?!

The hygienist finishes by brushing my teeth with peppermint flavored sand and after a quick spray and suction I am "Good to go until next time... "

Next time? Nope, I have documentation now so I will not forget how much I. Hate. The. Dentist.