How do sleep while our beds are burning

Here’s one thing I know about kids: Waking them up for school is the worst part of any day. I don’t care if you end up with a flat tire, you’re late for work, your dog dies, and you get the flu all on the same day, the worst part of that day still would have been getting your kids up for school that morning.

My kids are particularly poor risers. We leave the house at 7:35 am. It takes them 15 minutes to get dressed and brush their teeth. Guess what time I start waking them up? 5:40 am. I wake them up a minimum of ten times every morning. Every time, I get the same response:

Colten: I’m stretching, just let me stretch. Please. I need to stretch.

Brennan: *Snoring*

If any other mom would have posted this five years ago, I would have scoffed. “Well, maybe if you would have taught your children to be obedient, they would get up when you tell them to.” or “Well, how late did they stay up?”

And I would have been an idiot for saying those things. 7-8 pm. They go to bed between 7 and 8 pm and it takes more than an hour and a half just to wake them up the next morning. These kids will never be able to hold a job.

To prevent them from being nocturnal, unemployed adults, I decided to try something new. I make their breakfast and deliver it to them in bed on a tray, Cinderella-style. You know, to give them time to wake up gently as they eat breakfast. Today, I even threw in “coffee” (a/k/a two tablespoons of coffee in a glass of milk) for good measure.


Here they are, enjoying their breakfast:


One kid even had the nerve to snarl and say, “I didn’t want a bagel, I wanted oatmeal.” I’m over it. I’m giving up on employment prospects. At this point, best case scenario is that I find unsuspecting young wives to take these guys off my hands. Otherwise, it’s looking like I’m going to end up with two adult basement-dwellers that just sit and wait for mom to bring the next tray.

Talking trash

It’s trash morning and I forgot to take the trash up (and by that I mean “I forgot to tell the boys to take the trash up”) yet again. This is a pain because our driveway is 1,000 miles long and the trash man comes at Dark:30. Normally, I would just forget about it and hold on to the trash for another week. That can’t happen this week because we just hosted a huge Thanksgiving and both cans are crammed to the hilt, so……

Which Mouseketools can we use to help get 123847 pounds of trash down the driveway?


We have a Jeep, two boys that have to be waiting at the end of the driveway for the bus at 6:50 a.m., wine, and the Mystery Mouseketool. That’s right! We can use the Jeep and the boys to pull the trash cans down.


Right now, you’re probably thinking I’m a genius. So did I. It probably would have worked if the cans weren’t so full that Colt’s feeble hands, which are rarely used for anything besides operating touch screens, couldn’t get a good grip.

So rather than me just walking at least one of the cans down the driveway myself, this turned into me gathering trash in the yard (twice, because he wanted to give it another try after the first failure) while consoling my eight-year-old on the injustice in the world as he has a nervous breakdown (“WHY DID I DROP MINE AND BRENNAN DIDN’T!? HE’S YOUNGER! IT’S NOT FAIR!). All at 6:49 a.m. In the dark. Under the threat of missing the bus.

The start of yet another great day.

Fly high, free bird

So I’ve been forced to share a bed with The Husband the last few nights. He typically sleeps in the partially-finished basement because he gets home from work at 1 am so he apparently does not want to be woke up at 5:40 am when the first of my 20 alarms goes off. I know. I don’t get it either.

Anyway, The Husband’s sleeping habits are the thing that nightmares are made of except that they don’t involve me having the pleasure of falling asleep to enjoy a nightmare. He’s up roaming the house every twenty minutes all night – using the restroom, getting a drink, checking thermostats, reading sports stuff on his phone, playing with the dog, turning on lights…. I could go on. I’ve been up since 4 am this morning just listening to him wander around.

That all sucks, but the worst part is the reason I’m being subjected to this. He can’t go to his room in the basement because it’s covered in hay. Why is it covered in hay? I’m going to tell you. He decided to raise a dozen baby chicks in our basement. It’s ridiculous that he’s raising barnyard animals in the same quarters that he sleeps in, but it’s even more ridiculous that he didn’t take the box of hay that held the eggs out to the trash once he put the eggs safely inside the incubator. I then had 20 kids at my house for Thanksgiving and – well, you see where I’m going with this. So his basement bed is covered in hay and he can’t sleep in it. I refuse to clean it because I did not (and would not) bring hay into the house.

So that all sucks. Hay in the bed, chicks in the basement, husband in the bed, but here’s the even more worse part: In addition to the dozen chicks in the basement, we have 10-12 adult chickens outside in the coop. Guess what grown chickens do in the fall? Nothing. They do nothing. They need their energy to grow winter feathers so they don’t lay eggs until they have grown enough winter feathers. Ever hear of multi-tasking, chickens? So after I had been up since 4 am because the chicks have ousted The Husband from his bedroom, he literally tells me I need to add eggs to the grocery list. I’m feeding and housing over 20 chickens, some of them even inside my actual home, and they are too busy making feathers to lay eggs, so I need to purchase eggs from a store. What’s next? Shall I prepare them an egg for breakfast and spoon feed it to them? Scrambled or over-easy, ladies? I just want to make sure you’re enjoying your stay here at the Swan B&B.

What turns on your lights

The Husband planned an elaborate belated birthday date for me, which was supposed to take place today. We were going to ride the train to Chicago, have dinner at Giordano’s, and finish out the evening with a walk through Millennium Park. It was going to be great. We were going to laugh and enjoy each other’s company, walking hand-in-hand through the park. I was going to lay my head on his shoulder and fall asleep on the train ride home. A fellow passenger, probably a sweet elderly lady, was going to smile and ask if we were newlyweds. We were going to giggle and say, “It sure feels like it, but no. We’ve been married five years!” Like I said, it was going to be great. It was way out of character for The Husband to plan something so thoughtful. I should have made a big deal about it, went on the date, did the hand-holding and snuggling and giggling, but….I started thinking about all of the other things we could do with the money….and that’s how I ended up lightbulb shopping for my birthday date. Read on.

Last night:

Me: So I’m really excited about tomorrow. And I really want to do it. Seriously. And it’s totally up to you, but should we consider spending that money on some lumber to start framing the basement? Like either way is fine with me. Both would be fun. But I am really anxious to get started on the basement….
The Husband: 😐

Now some of you may be feeling bad for him right now. He planned this fantastic date and I’m just kind of politely declining, but you should know that the reason he wants to do the date instead of buy lumber is not because he wants to have a romantic evening with me. It’s because we’ve done enough home improvement projects together for him to know that taking me on an expensive date is one of the billion things he would rather do than start another project. Right next to hack off his own leg with a dull knife, sleep on a bed of scorpions…

When we do a home improvement project, I believe we’re like Carl and Ellie from the movie, Up, lovingly fixing up our dream house, writing our names in a heart on the mailbox. In his head, it’s probably something more like a scene from Roots:

The Husband: *sweating, dirty, breathing heavily, grabs a glass of ice water and collapses in the chair while reaching for the remote*
Me: Oh, you already got it all done?
The Husband makes up some obscure tool that he needs so that I can’t force him back to work: I need a fligeradoo before I can do anything else.
Me: Well can’t you do another step until we get the fligeradoo? Like start hanging the drywall?
The Husband: No. I can’t hang the drywall before the studs are up to hang it on. Unless you want me to hang it on air.
Me: Fine. Just watch TV then, I guess.

I’m awful, I know. Anyway, we went back and forth on whether or not to go through with Chicago date night, but because he loves me:


Soon enough, we’ll have the extra bedroom done and I can stop listening to the boys complain about sharing a room, I thought. Chicago would have been great, but this will be really great.

The Husband had made a shockingly long list of light bulbs we needed (27 bulbs to be exact) and we decided to grab those first. An hour and a half and nearly $100 later, we left Lowe’s with nothing more than 27 light bulbs and a new broom. Who knew that so many light bulbs would be so ridiculously expensive!? And how in the world did we need 27 light bulbs!? Had I just gone along with the original plan, we would have been leisurely strolling through the park right now. Instead, we’re at home changing light bulbs while all three kids scream their fool heads off. Sometimes I’m disgusted by my own practicality. But the good news is that the security lights that I didn’t even know we had are now functional. Happy birthday to me.

I can’t complain because it’s my own fault, and I must add that he did insist that we at least eat at Cracker Barrel, where he talked me into buying a few swan trinkets that he knew I wanted, but was too cheap to buy without the extra encouragement.

So thanks for planning a fantastic birthday date AND for actually taking me on a mediocre one, dear. Sometimes it really is the thought that counts.

Forever young

So I hit a milestone birthday today – 30. I think I’m on target for a thirty-year-old: married, three kids, stable job, nice house. I grocery shop regularly, match socks, and drink Chardonnay (also regularly), just like a real mom, but so far I hate thirty. Here is why:

Every other year, on my birthday, I think about all of the big things that will happen to me that year: my wedding, a baby, college, a new job, a new house… If something big like that happens this year, it is probably the result of a mid-life crisis. All of my big excitement is over and now all I have to look forward to is the secondhand excitement of my kids. When they start actually doing things like getting married and making grandkids, that will be exciting, but right now we’re at potty-training and multiplication tables. Not very thrilling.

So I’m sitting here, thinking about how depressing thirty is, when I have an idea: Wait a minute! This is easily fixed. I just need to have another baby! 

The Husband: No.

No discussion or explanation. Just “no.”

Responsible Me: Umm, yeah, he’s right. I’m pretty sure that the cost of delivery, another five years of childcare, formula, diapers, stronger anxiety meds…would be enough to cause you to end up homeless and/or divorced. Then you get a new baby, a new (dilapidated rental) house, and maybe a new husband (if you make a quick turnaround) this year. Cue that midlife crisis you mentioned above.

Several people have told me that the thirties are the best, but I find that hard to believe:

  • I’m too old to pull off a messy bun without actually looking like I just forgot that I have hair altogether. It’s not the hair so much as it’s the combination of the forgotten hair with the eyebrows that I forgot needed waxed, the nails that I forgot needed trimmed…I have three freaking kids, okay? I consider myself lucky if they all make it out of the house fully clothed and free of hazardous debris like feces. My personal grooming takes a backseat. It’s fine, I can’t pull my hair up anyway because the sides are a nice shade of Dorothy Zbornak gray.
  • I have to practice bad habits, like tanning and drinking energy drinks, in secret. Thirty-year-olds worry about skin health and they drink black coffee, or some type of vitamin concoction, or perhaps some type of direct sales fad system like Thrive or It Works. Maybe that is why thirty-year-olds are so tired. Stick with what works, people. Come back to the Monsters. Anything that comes in a metallic black can and contains a million times the caffeine of a can of pop is going to be the right choice to give you energy.
  • My main objective in life is my futile effort to keep the house clean. Not pursuing higher education or a career aspiration. Not finding my soul mate or dream house. My long-term goal right now is simply to be able to pee without first having to check the seat for dribbles. I’m most proud of myself when guests ask if they need to remove their shoes in my house. The answer is no, but the fact that I somehow got the house to a state where it appears that they should ask makes me happy. This has only actually happened once.
  • The Husband is getting old too. He’s tired and hairy and the sexiest thing you’ll hear during an encounter between us is “Put your glasses on.”

Thirty has all of the worst parts of being old without any of the benefits, like Medicare and a mortgage-free home.

So, for all of these reasons and many more, you don’t impress me so far, Thirty, but it’s only been one day. You have 9 years and 3 months to change my mind. If I still feel old, sad, and bored by then – baby it is.

Oh what a birthday surprise

Two years ago at this time I was just hanging out, being pregnant. I wasn’t due for a couple more weeks so I had no clue that I was actually in my last few hours as a mother of two. Had I known this, I might have used those hours a little differently – catching up laundry, sleeping, finishing the crocheted dress that she was supposed to wear on her birthday. I had no idea that I would be in labor in just a few hours and, judging by the length of my labor with Colt, I certainly had no idea that The Girl would be in my arms before morning.

All moms treasure that photo that was snapped in the delivery room the very first moment their baby was placed in their arms. They are at their worst in that photo: no makeup, exhausted, sweaty, disheveled, and sporting a huge floppy hospital gown that, despite the fact that the inspiration for its design seems to have been a circus tent, still does very little to hide the fact that the poor woman’s body is now the thing that nightmares are made of. Every mom looks terrible in that photo, but it’s still her favorite photo of herself. They all have that same look of complete, unadulterated joy and love as they stare into their precious new baby’s unfocused, beady little eyes.

Well guess what? I didn’t get that photo with The Girl. No, ma’am. I got this one:


You can tell exactly what I was thinking from looking at this photo: Well, crap, I guess we’re starting this already. I completely blame her early and quick arrival for ruining our first mother/daughter photo.

As you can see, I did finish the dress. Once I realized she was on the way, I panicked and got right to work, still figuring I had another 20 hours of labor to finish it. I actually had to stop crocheting in the middle of a contraction and hand it to my mom to attach the bows and buttons.

Anyway, she came when she felt like it, she wore the dress, she got her picture taken with her mom, and even though none of it went according to my plan, it all worked out and this girl has given me joy every single one of the 730 days since. Happy birthday, Punky.

Cut my life into pieces

As you may have figured out, Boy Two sometimes has a bit of a problem with impulse control (or lack thereof). He sees a button, he’s going to push it. He sees a ledge, he’s going to jump off of it. This natural inquisitiveness could translate into several productive careers – inventor, detective – but in elementary school, it’s somewhat of an issue.

I always cringe as I make the annual purchase of the “Fiskars student scissors.” I’m sure you can figure out where I’m going with this post. If Boy Two has a pair of scissors, he’s going to cut.

The teachers mandate that the scissors be Fiskars because they are safe for students but still nice and sharp. Nearly every article of clothing Boy Two owns has at least one v-shaped snip mark in it. I got mad the first 20 times. Now I don’t even care.

He’s also given himself a few haircuts during school with the Fiskars. I’m just waiting for the day that he has scissors in hand when he spies that long pony tail on the girl sitting in front of him.There is absolutely no chance he’ll pass up that opportunity.

Last year, his teacher sent home a sandwich bag holding his shoe strings with a note:

I’m sorry, but he cut his shoe strings off during reading. By the time I saw what he was doing, it was too late.

SHE apologized to ME for my crazy kid cutting his shoe strings off. If I were her, this is how my note would have read:

Your psycho kid cut his shoe strings off during class today. Who does that?! What is wrong with this kid!?

And that’s why I’m not a teacher.

Anyway, Fiskars is a solid brand of scissors. They will cut through any type of fabric – even denim. That no longer surprises me but this does:

Mom: Did you pop that big pimple he had on his forehead?

Me: No, I didn’t see it.

Boy Two: Oh, I took care of it. I cut it with my scissors at school.

I would not have guessed that Fiskars scissors would be useful in a pimple extraction, but he got it done. Way to go, Edward Scissorhands. Always a good idea to start cutting up your face with scissors.