Even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with ya, honey

I run the finances at our house, and by that I mean that I track every single cent that enters and leaves our account. I have spreadsheets that would impress John Nash. It’s actually kind of a hobby of mine. I monitor our account so vigilantly that if The Husband makes a purchase, I’m usually texting him as he’s walking out of the store…

Me:  Whatcha doin’?

The Husband: Nothing

Me: Oh really? Are you sure you’re not leaving Walmart? Because someone just spent $14.17 there. Using your card. What did you buy? 

The Husband: ….deodorant and toilet paper.

So anyway, this week he decided to take Boy Two to see Transformers. The movie is apparently not even kid appropriate since Boy Two said there were “one thousand cusses” in it, but the cussing was not the main issue with the trip to the movies. The main issue was that it cost $38.10 for one adult and one child to attend a movie. Unbelievable. I wanted so badly to tell The Husband what a ridiculous expenditure this was, but I couldn’t.  Here is why:

Last weekend, against The Husband’s wishes, I threw a total (family friendly) rager complete with 101 guests, beer, a DJ, a bounce house, a little more beer, food, fireworks, etc. Typically I wouldn’t approve of such a frivolous expenditure, but I decided to loosen up just this once. Here was my thinking: Remember all of the times your parents said, “OK, well you go ahead and do that – when I’m not the one paying your bills.”? I do. And by that token, I should have been throwing huge parties for quite a few years now, but this was the first one. Because while my parents were going on about all the cool things that would happen once they weren’t paying my bills, they forgot to also explain that I would actually be the one paying them. They let that part be a surprise. Adulthood is the great deception of life.

Anyway, the party was big, but I was able to trim costs quite a bit. Everyone brought food, the fireworks and bounce house ended up being provided by a couple of benevolent guests, and the DJ gave me the family discount. It did, however, slightly exceed our standard monthly budgeted amount for fun, which is approximately two dollars.

The Husband was against the party from the beginning, not because of the expense, but just because he’s not into large crowds or big events (and he hates it when I get fixated on a project like this). He complained, but I wasn’t hearing it. This was my chance to prove that adulthood doesn’t have to be complete drudgery, so I forged on. And guess who was one of the last ones still partying long into the night, hours after most of the guests had left and I had gone to bed (a/k/a fell asleep on the porch). Yep, The Husband. He paid for it the next morning when we had to deflate the bounce house, wrangle it into its bag, and hoist all 7,000 pounds of it into his truck, in the hot blazing sun, still slightly inebriated, so that it could be returned to the rental place before noon to avoid additional charges. Welcome back to reality, folks.

Anyway, I got off track here so let me get back to my point. The movies are expensive. Don’t go there. Don’t pay $40 for your kid to listen to one thousand cusses. Wait until it comes out in stores. Better yet, find a way to download the pirated film online for free (plus attorney fees if you get busted). Or even better yet, cuss at your kid yourself, just don’t waste your money on the movies. But also don’t scold your husband for frivolous purchases just days after you’ve completely blown your budget out of the water for a big party that he wanted no part of – even if he did end up having a good time. Don’t do that because you don’t want divorced, but also because, if you do, you won’t get to do it again next year. And you want to do it next year – only bigger.

For that reason alone, I didn’t say a peep about the expensive movies. Instead, I used that time to start planning for next year’s party. I’m thinking elephant rides, a jumbotron, and possibly one of those t-shirt cannons.

 

Row row row your boat

So today is Father’s Day so I wanted to write a heartfelt post about The Husband because I’m so thankful that he made all of these beautiful children for me to love and care for. I wanted to thank him….even though I’m the one that had to carry them for nine months, ruin my body, go through the absolute terror of labor, and then do most of their day-to-day care….but yeah, I wanted to thank him for, you know, going through all of that trouble of spending five minutes doing something he seems to enjoy so that we could get all of these kids.  I wanted to illustrate my post with a photo of him with all three kids, exhibiting all of his stellar paternal attributes, but I couldn’t find such a photo because it doesn’t exist. Soooooo I decided to scrap all of that and write a post about something he truly loves: fishing.

The Husband doesn’t get to go fishing often because he has a job and a family and he enjoys fishing but not enough to get fired or divorced. But he does love it on those rare occasions when he gets to go. A few years ago, I decided to go for the Wife of the Year Award and I bought a fishing boat for his Valentine’s Day present. He thought it was pretty cool until he realized that I had financed it and he now had to work overtime for the next two years to make the payments. Happy Valentine’s Day, dear.

Anyway, he hasn’t gotten to use it much for the reasons I listed above (unemployment, divorce, mandatory overtime). I refuse to go on it because the one time I did,  it ended in him yelling at me while I helplessly drifted out on the lake because he failed to teach me how to drive it before he left me in it alone to go retrieve the truck and trailer.

So this weekend, he decided to go out for a fishing outing. I knew this was a recipe for disaster because he was just coming off of a twelve-hour night shift and he gets weird when he hasn’t had enough sleep (migraines, puking, talking crazy, stumbling around etc.). Despite my concerns, he and his buddy headed out to the reservoir. I don’t know much about boats, but from what I understand, this is what happened next:

Once they got the boat unloaded, the main motor wouldn’t work. They decided to use the “trolling motor” but then the wind picked up and it wasn’t strong enough to get them to where they were going. They then spent quite some time rowing (by hand) the motorized fishing boat across the 12,000 acre Salamonie Reservoir. Keep in mind The Husband hasn’t slept in about 26 hours at this point.  Once they got to their destination, The Husband spent some time trying to determine why the main motor wasn’t working – checking the spark plugs, etc. This went on for quite a while before they finally figured out the problem.  The boat has a kill switch that is supposed to be attached to the driver to shut off the boat in the event the driver is thrown from the vessel. This switch apparently has the added benefit of making the boat too difficult to operate for stupid people and/or people who have not slept in the last 26 hours. After quite some time of rowing and maintenance, The Husband flipped this switch, the motor started right up, and they were able to drive the boat right back to the dock without manual rowing.

So, The Husband celebrated Father’s Day weekend with 36 hours of work, two hours of rowing, and maybe ten hours of intermittent sleep if he’s lucky finished off with a to-do list a mile long to fill his days off. Happy Father’s Day!

Twenty-nine and life to go

My mom is my best friend, but we have vastly different ideas of fun. She always wants to go on these grand family outings (theme parks, bowling, movies), and I prefer not to take my children in public because there are three of them and it always turns out to be a stress fest. And yes, I said “fest” instead of “test.” Because if it were a test, I would fail every time. I inevitably end up irritated beyond measure, struggling to keep myself from breaking into tears and/or spontaneously cussing at a children’s museum or miniature golf course or similar venue inappropriate for mental breakdowns and cussing. I prefer to call it a stress fest. It makes it sounds less stressful. Almost fun.

Anyway, today her grand idea is to go to the zoo. I almost broke out in hives just thinking about it, so I managed to par it down to lunch at my house and a trip to the ice cream store. I should have known that mom’s idea of a trip to the ice cream store would involve going to a special, world-renowned ice cream store more than a half-hour away that people flock to in order to try every one of their 100 types of sundaes. It’s apparently a destination ice cream store. Guess what. That was everyone else’s idea too.

We waited in line for a life sentence. Without parole. Waiting in line forever with kids always sucks for the usual reasons, but it was especially bad at this particular place because, as I mentioned, they have 100 types of sundaes. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to get a seven-year-old to decide between vanilla, chocolate, or chocolate swirl, but even that decision is a whole process. This was that scenario times 33 1/3, for over an hour before we finally made it to the register. They changed their minds thousands of times, and the only thing  that Boy One knew for sure that he wanted was a banana split, which only came in a size bigger than his head and I would have had to sell one of the other children to purchase it. I refused at first, but after standing in line for most of my adult life, I decided I no longer wanted ice cream so I bought him the stupid banana split with the money I saved.

By the time I finally placed our order, Mom could tell I was getting stressed so she told me to go wait outside and she would bring the ice cream out.

Thank you. Since it’s your fault we’re in this mess.

The boys and I went outside to wait and I realized that it wasn’t just me. The fellow ice cream masochists seemed to be on edge and very touchy. If you bumped into someone, they glared at you. No one returned a friendly smile if you made eye contact. Boy Two was jumping up around near a parked car and I reminded him to be careful not to touch others’ cars. Then a nearby man snarled and pressed the lock button on his key fob to “re-lock” his car, causing it to honk.

“This ice cream hell is really doing a number on everyone’s nerves,” I thought to myself.  “I’m right there with ya, folks.”

Our group enjoyed the ice cream and we headed home. It wasn’t until later that I learned that the others at the store were not actually on edge because of the chaotic atmosphere, like I was. They were angry because we had apparently accidentally cut in front of an entire loop of the waiting line. It really wasn’t marked very well. I had no idea, and I felt bad when Mom told me…..but, really though, thank God we did or I wouldn’t be writing this post right now because I would be in a padded cell and straight jacket waiting for the Ativan to kick in.

So if you are one of the people we cut in front of at the ice cream store today (and there’s bound to be at least one of them reading this since everyone in Indiana was there), I’m sorry, but you did a great service by allowing me to preserve one small shred of my sanity.

Mama, I’m coming home

So my grandma passed away a month ago. Today, we attended a memorial event at the cemetery that included a balloon release. I’d never been to a memorial balloon release. In case you haven’t either, this is how it’s supposed to go:

  1. Distribute one balloon per each loved one being memorialized.
  2. The family of the loved one writes a heartfelt message on the balloon.
  3. The crowd stands silently as each name is read and they release their balloon when the name of their loved one is read.

A balloon release is always a risky place to take children because, to a child, losing a balloon can be a traumatizing event, often resulting in tears and devastation. A memorial balloon release has all of that with the added expectation that the child stand quietly and respectfully.

There were a number of issues at the memorial balloon release. Since our group was only memorializing one loved one, we only got one balloon to split between three children. I managed to find an empty balloon string on the ground, which satisfied The Girl, but I still needed an additional balloon. I had two options:

  1. Kill a member of our group so we could get an additional balloon, or
  2. Dishonestly obtain a second balloon for our group.

I went with the less radical option – lying at a memorial service. Now that everyone had balloons (or balloon strings) in hand, we were back on track, and the boys wrote their notes on their balloons.

Boy One wrote a sweet note about how much we miss Nana:

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Boy Two, on the other hand:

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Yes, you read that correctly. “I love mom.” Other attendees looked on with pity at this poor, sweet boy who had apparently lost his mother. I felt like I should correct them, but who am I to say anything? I just lied five minutes ago to get the stupid balloon for him. Also, it doesn’t actually say his mother is deceased and it’s not really his fault if  others read between the lines. And finally, maybe he knew something I didn’t? The day isn’t over yet.

In the end, his fraudulent balloon message ended up being a blessing and here is why:

As the event wore on, the boys became more and more restless. As boys typically do, they started a game of hitting each other in the head with their balloons, which I was powerless to stop without reverting to Option 1 above. This resulted in Boy Two’s special balloon memorializing his mother coming undone and being released. You will recall that he had firmly decided that he would not be releasing his balloon so this was an issue. Luckily, a kindhearted stranger with a soft spot for orphans offered her balloon to him, but her balloon was red, not white. This was another issue. He proceeded to cry. Red-faced, gigantic tears crying.  I was mortified. This grieving woman gave up her balloon memorializing her loved one (who most likely is legitimately dead) and he’s crying like a spoiled brat because it is the wrong color. I managed to look up through my embarrassment and when I did, I found misty-eyed, sympathetic faces looking back. Then I saw what they were seeing: an innocent boy who had already endured the loss of his loving mother (probably untimely cancer or maybe a tragic car accident). Now he has lost the only thing he had to memorialize her. His whole life is just loss and grief. How much pain can one little boy endure?

Shamefully, I just went with it, although I did stop short of referring to myself as “Auntie” while comforting him and reminding him of what a wonderful person his mother was.

Stand by me

Every mom blog has at least one post about the horrible experience of shopping with kids so I’m just going to get that out of the way right now:

The 18 Minute Rule: I have exactly 18 minutes, seat belt to seat belt, before my kids start acting like complete idiots on a shopping trip. I work with this by creating a carefully thought-out list, which is organized according to the layout of the store, so that I don’t have to think about the items I need, search for them, or backtrack to retrieve a forgotten item.  There’s no time for any of that. All energy must be focused on maintaining control to ensure we make it the full 18 minutes.

Over the weekend, I decided I wanted to purchase four ferns and one flat of flowers. There were a few things in my favor on this particular trip: 1) My items were in the outdoor garden area, which eliminated the time it would have taken to actually enter the store, and 2) Shopping outside makes the kids seem less loud and abrasive to other shoppers. Plus, who doesn’t love the sight of the sun shining on a beautiful child’s smiling face against a backdrop of colorful flowers? This should have been an easy trip, but I went ahead and did my usual pre-shopping pep talk, just for good measure:

Don’t make me look like an idiot in this store or I will *insert whatever random creative threat seems most terrifying at the time*

I even embellished it a little bit since it was Mother’s Day weekend:

Seriously guys, please be good. Do it for me because it’s Mother’s Day weekend.  

They nodded their heads and pledged to be on their best behavior. For me, because it’s Mother’s Day weekend. But then……

As soon as I get The Girl situated in the cart, Boy Two decides he wants to ride as well. I try to explain that he’s too heavy and I can’t maneuver the cart with him in it. I’m sure he just didn’t hear me because he went ahead and started climbing over the side despite having just promised to behave less than two minutes before. I decide to pick my battles and let that one go. Fine. Ride in the cart.

So now, because the entire cart is filled with Boy Two, we have to get a wagon to load the ferns and flowers. Boy One is charged with the coveted responsibility of pulling the awkward wagon through the poorly arranged, crowded greenhouse area. I apologized to the first two people he ran over. After that, I just acted like I didn’t notice. I had bigger things to worry about at this point. Boy Two decided he wanted to forfeit his spot in the cart to pull the wagon. Yes, that would be the cart I told him to stay out of in the first damn place. I refused to let him out. He got in the cart against my wishes, so I am not letting him out of the cart. I don’t care if I have to install bars over the top of the cart to keep him in. He’s staying in the cart. Because that’s what he wanted two minutes ago.

He continues arguing with me, gradually becoming louder and more insistent, and Boy One continues running over people with the wagon. I haphazardly select some droopy, brown ferns and the first flat of flowers I can grab. I’m starting to get flustered because my 18 minutes of shopping are apparently more like 5 minutes today. Even though it’s Mother’s Day weekend.

I’m still holding Boy Two captive in the cart and it’s a test of wills at this point. He wants out of the cart. He will not stop arguing with me about it. I want him to shut up. I kind of need him out of the cart because I have nowhere to put two of my ferns. I try to hang them on the handle of the cart, but then they are touching The Girl’s legs and that is completely unacceptable to her and she starts shrieking. It’s causing a scene and I could end it all by letting Boy Two out of the cart and putting the two ferns in his place, but I am not letting that kid out of that cart. Plus, that would open up a new conflict over which boy is going to pull the wagon. He’s staying in the cart and we are making a quick exit.

Then, along comes a well-meaning stranger. She asks me if my kids saw the bird’s nest that is apparently in the corner of the greenhouse.

“It has real birds in it.”

I smile and tell her we will check it out then turn around to continue trying to maneuver the two ferns to a position that allows me to push the cart while not touching The Girl’s legs, all while keeping my captive restricted to the cart.  While I’m doing this, Stranger continues the bird conversation with Boy Two. The next thing I know, he is climbing over the side of the cart and following her over to the bird’s nest. I literally growl at him.

“GET BACK IN THE CART.”

My voice sounds like Cruella de Vil’s evil sister who makes coats out of the skin of little boys instead of dalmatian puppies. Boy Two puts on his sad blue eyes and sweet voice.

“We’re just looking at the bird’s nest, Mom.”

Stranger looks on with wide eyes probably wondering why I have such an issue with him getting out of the cart when he is clearly too old to be in the cart to begin with. Because I don’t want her to think I’m a complete psychopath, we follow her over to look at the stupid nest. She can see I’m still struggling to carry the ferns so she holds her hand out as if to help me. For a brief second, I feel guilty for letting her see my Cruella side. Then she takes the ferns and hangs one of them on the cart, right on The Girl’s leg. The Girl gives her a death stare. I quickly snatch the fern off of the cart to prevent what I know is about to happen as the stranger tries to hang the other fern.

“Oh, here, your hands are full. These will just hang right on the cart.”

The shrieking starts and I’ve finally had it. Time is up and I really just want to pay for my items and leave yet here I am, messing around with this bird enthusiast, trying to present myself as a kind and sane mother as my children use her as a pawn to defy me.

“I CAN’T HANG THE FERN ON THE CART. SHE DOESN’T WANT IT TOUCHING HER. Thanks.”

And I turn to leave. Of course the check-out line is a million miles long. Why wouldn’t it be? Now that Boy Two is out of the cart, the fight over who will pull the wagon has broke out and quickly escalated to the level of physical violence. Now all of the people that Boy One accidentally ran over with the wagon are watching him purposely ram it into Boy Two’s shins. The Girl never recovered from the second fern assault so she’s screaming. I have at least 10 more minutes in line and we’re quickly heading toward a physical injury with this wagon, so I get my Cruella voice back out and lean over to whisper at the boys.

“If you guys do not stop this, I will cancel the Mother’s Day cookout, take your tablet, and you will spend the rest of this weekend in your rooms. Be quiet and stand by me.”

I straighten up and put a smile on for the benefit of the other shoppers as if I was just whispering a secret to the kids, perhaps about a surprise ice cream treat or something. I’m sure they couldn’t hear my threats or see my crazy eyes. The boys start up a few more small arguments and I just calmly and firmly repeat, “Stand by me.” It presents an illusion of control to the other shoppers and my theory is that, by using that catchphrase, it will refresh their memory of all the things I just threatened.

It doesn’t work.

These jerks continue fighting all the way to the car. And actually even all the way home in the car. On Mother’s Day weekend.

We do what we can

So Mother’s Day is today, girls. That’s the day we get recognition for all of our special maternal achievements over the past year.  Don’t forget to also pat yourself on the back for all of the things you did over the past year just to get by. Give yourself a pat on the back for every time you:

  1. Sat your kids in front of a questionable video game so you could take a two-hour bubble bath.  Extra points if you made them share their bath water so you wouldn’t have to wait on hot water.
  2. Used your diaper bag to lug in the 1.5 liter bottle of cheap wine that you plan to drink over the next week – or two days.
  3. Drove around the block twice before pulling into your babysitter’s driveway so you could finish listening to that song that you can’t listen to with them in the car.
  4. Gave them the answers (or just straight up forged their handwriting) on a homework assignment because you couldn’t face the painstaking task of watching them complete it. (Hint: Use your left hand)
  5. Safely righted your vehicle after precarious swerving caused by flailing your right arm in the backseat hoping to swat someone (anyone) in a futile effort to make them stop fighting.
  6. Picked them up late because you had to run by the pharmacy to get that much-needed refill on your anti-anxiety, anti-depression, anti-psychotic, anti-whatever-it-takes meds.
  7. Had the following conversations:
    1. Did you use soap? Are you sure? Then let me smell you.
    2. Onions? Absolutely not. Those are just spices.
    3. Are you seriously pooping right now? Why now? You’ve had all morning! I don’t have time for this!
    4. If you don’t eat those pizza rolls, you’re not getting any chips.
    5. Yes, we do brush our teeth on Fridays.

I’m also patting myself on the back for having the foresight to take a vacation day tomorrow and, yes, I’m considering being that mom that still takes the baby to the babysitter even though she’s at home.  I’m thinking absurdly long bubble bath, fried food smorgasbord, day drinking and binge-watching Netflix, finished off with a nap.

Happy Mother’s Day to me and all moms.  We do what we can.