Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vacation Nerves

In three days we are leaving on vacation. It is our first vacation as a family of six that takes us away from home for more than one night. It is our first vacation as a family of six that takes us more than one state away from home. In fact, we are leaving New England and traveling to Pennsylvania. I am more than a little nervous.

Megan is the only one of our children who has traveled any distance by car. When I was 5 months pregnant with Drew our little family drove to Toronto. That was 5 years ago. Drew thinks driving the 20 minutes to the mall is a "really long trip". The kids don't have very good car behavior; they're very loud all the time. I absolutely cannot tolerate loud noises in the car, even when I'm not driving. The girls can't reach each other from their car seats, but Meg and Drew get awfully handsy back in the third row. It's generally not pleasant, even for a short trip.

I'm excited for vacation. I'm excited to see something other than the four walls for my house and maybe even the sunshine. I'm excited to see friends. But I have big nerves about taking my kids in the car for 8 hours (or more) to an unfamiliar place and expecting them to have fun. I tend to have high expectations about how things are going to go, and of course they NEVER go the way I planned and I end up disappointed, frustrated and angry with myself and the kids.

We did buy two single strollers for the girls (matching of course, to eliminate fighting) instead of the double stroller. We did this partially to save space in the van and partially because the girls fight with each other in both of their double strollers. In the side by side Annie is always leaving over Izzie's side smacking her in the face, and in the front to back stroller the person in the back is ALWAYS kicking the one in the front and/or pulling her hair.

We let Meg and Drew write a list of the toys/books/stuffed friends they want to bring and are allowing them to pack their bags themselves. We're bringing our portable DVD player, two Ipods and snacks. Of course I'm bringing my camera! But there are butterflies in my stomach.

This vacation is our test. It's our test to see if the kids can behave well enough so that we could even contemplate taking them to Disney sooner rather than later. The big age difference between Meg and the twins makes me want to go sooner, so that they can all enjoy the same things, together. So yes, I have really high expectations. Maybe I should lower them and just go with the flow. Oh but I have such a hard time doing that.

Ok this rambling post needs to end. Keep your fingers crossed that we all come back in one piece.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Alexander Graham Bell must hate me

When I was a teenager, I talked on the phone incessantly. Of course this was all before the invention of the internet, email, IMs, Facebooks, blogs, etc. You know, because I'm OLD. Ahem. I remember my parents finally telling my friends that called all the time that they were limited to a phone call a day. After all, we did see each other all day long at school, and for some of them on the bus too, so what the heck did we need to talk about?

When I was working, my phone literally grew out of my ear. I spent countless hours calling lenders for loan payoffs, for paperwork, calling brokers, buyers and sellers. I am certain I spent more time on the phone than I did actual "work". Lots of my calls were to automated systems, rarely to a real, live human being. Sometimes that was preferable to the real, live human beings I did have to speak with.

Now that I have Twitter, Facebook, my blog, email and a whole host of other computer related things, I almost never have a phone conversation anymore. My long distance bill used to be huge, but now I have unlimited long distance that I don't use. I'm not complaining though, because in all honesty, talking on the phone is a stressful event in my house these days. The minute I pick up a phone one of my darling cherubs needs something RIGHT.THAT.MINUTE. If I try to go into another room, they follow me, yelling for attention. Anyone who has attempted to call me during the daytime is usually treated to me talking to my KIDS more than to THEM. It's frustrating for everyone involved.

The same goes for blogging. Right now, my twins are screeching for my attention at the top of their lungs. Izzie is pulling on the computer cord and Annie is trying to sneak up the stairs. They both want "huggies" because I am occupied with something other than them for a minute or two. I keep reading blogs but my ability to respond is extremely limited these days given how the kids behave. It's very much like my parents limiting my friends' calls; all I can do is read but I can't comment, let alone write a blog post of my own.

Where was I going with this? Hmmm. Not sure. I had to put one twin in bed because she wouldn't stay off the stairs and I've been interrupted by the other 3 kids for various things. Anyway, I'm still here and I'm still reading (and sometimes writing) and if I haven't stopped by your blog in awhile, it's not for lack of trying. I need to carve out some more "me" time and then I'll be commenting away!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Miss Kitty is Pretty Kitty

This is Lira.

She is the first pet I ever had (fish do not count as pets). Lira came to us 12 years ago, the day after I moved back to Maine after graduating law school. She was a tiny little fluff ball of a kitten. She was born in a barn, found by a family whose small child carried her around by the throat and given to us. She kept us up at night, meowing her little meow. When we allowed her into our bedroom, she jumped up on the bed and bit our arms.

We named her after Italian currency, since she's a money cat. But really, she's more of a Drachma or a Ruble. She's a gorgeous cat, with the personality of a really angry snake. Most people try to pet her, and she hisses, growls and slashes at them. We have a "warning, this house protected by an attack cat" sign, and people laugh. Until they meet her. She is about as friendly as The Joker in Dark Knight.

Before Meg was born my father-in-law suggested that given her nasty ways, we should give her up lest she hurt our new baby. Lucky for us, she is amazingly tolerant of the kids. She has enough smarts to walk away from them instead of using her claws (she's double pawed). She's moved with us 5 different times. She hates riding in the car and the vet. At our last vet, they wore large leather gloves in order to examine her. Chain mail would have been a better option.

Saturday night Doug notice that Lira's eyes looked cloudy. Very cloudy. A quick Google search had me concerned enough to call the vet as soon as they opened yesterday and the kids and I took her in today. She treated the vet to a session of growling and hissing, so he suggested we leave her and he'd sedate her to examine her. Before we left he listed off the possibilities of what could be causing the cloudiness: kidney failure, herpes, AIDS, leukemia or an infection. The vet called back a while ago and said that he believes she has an infection and we're going to treat it with drops. He said she appears to be otherwise healthy, although he's going to run blood work given her age. I'll take wrangling my cat to get drops in her eyes over explaining to my kids that she's dying at this point.

So in a couple of hours we'll go pick Lira up at the vet. She'll probably growl all the way home in her cage. Tonight Doug and I will wrap her in a towel, don the hockey gloves and mask and administer her drops. I wouldn't have it any other way. She was my first baby. Hopefully it's just an infection and she'll live another dozen years, or at least a few more. She may be cranky, but she's my girl and I love her.

Friday, June 5, 2009

First Born

I had this vision of what my life as a first time mom would be. I would spend time snuggling my baby, singing little lullabies and generally loving being a mom. What I got was a baby who HATED to be held, who pushed her little hand into my face and shoved me away when I tried to kiss her, and wanted nothing more than to lay on the floor. Little Miss Independent from day one.

Meg is my tough child. Not tough on the exterior, but tough in terms of parenting. She was an only child for 4 years and was, quite frankly, spoiled. It wasn't deliberate, but when you're the first grandchild on one side of the family and the first grandchild in 9 years on the other side, you get a lot of doting. She had our undivided attention at home. But she also had a temper. When Drew was born, the ugly side of her temper became clear. She was prone to tantrums, throwing things at me and Drew. She didn't want to share us with anyone. She still doesn't, even after almost 4 1/2 years of being a big sister. From a parenting perspective, the attitude has gotten old.

In my last post I mentioned that Meg had a meltdown over the vacation we're taking and some of you asked for me to explain. Meg has meltdowns quite frequently. She used to have them daily and they would take hours to end. She would scream, hit, tear her room apart, thrash about on the floor. Of course it was all for attention, and typically done because we asked her to do something like pick up her room. Now her tantrums are shorter, but they still include the thrashing about on the floor, hitting (she is 4 ft 6in, 100 lbs and I am her favorite target) and the screaming, and usually because we asked her to do something and she doesn't want to do it (mind you, unless it involves eating or watching tv, she doesn't want to do anything we ask her to do. Charming? No.) I digress. Sunday night we told the kids about our vacation so that we could do a countdown. We thought a vacation would be fun, especially since it's coinciding with the end of the school year and Meg HATES summer vacation. Instead, all we got was lip about how going away is scary, she doesn't want to go, blah, blah, blah.

It's so hard to explain how tiring it is to parent a child that hates everything. We spend so much of our energies trying to anticipate her reaction to things. We never know when something will set her off and she'll start screaming at us. For the record, she does not act like this at school and people are surprised to hear how she behaves at home. Unfortunately, her attitude has carried over to the other children and we are seeing the exact same behavior in Isabelle. It's not just the tantrums. It's the attitude. She talks with complete disrespect most of the time. She refuses to do anything that she doesn't want to do. There are no ways to "punish" her; I can't put her in her room if she's misbehaving because I can't just pick her up and move her. There aren't things we can take away from her, as she almost never watches tv because of her horrible behavior when something is over, and she acts the same way after computer time. We've been to therapy, and it did nothing to help.

I wish I could say that I've figured out how to avoid this with the other children, but that is not the case. I work daily on manners for the kids, but in the end, my house is a total free-for-all. The kids talk through me when I'm speaking, they flat out tell me "no" when they don't want to do something, and they learned it all from their big sister. We've tried to explain to her that she needs to set a good example for the younger children, and her responses is always a vacant "ok", which is her way of saying "yup, shut up, I don't care". I hear from her daily that I don't love her, that I should just get rid of her. Trying to talk to her about anything is an exercise in total frustration.

In the end, it's very sad. I love Meg so much, but I'm so tired of trying to make her happy when she cleary doesn't want to be happy. I hope that some day she'll find a way to be happy. I'll keep working on finding a way to get through to her. And maybe we will have a nice vacation after all. I just wish there were more definites instead of maybes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Annie called me a "mean mommy" yesterday.

I was fighting to get the girls to take a nap. I had gone in their room several times and reminded them that cribs are for napping, not playing, etc. The last time I went in, I told them in a rather harsh tone to go to sleep, then I left. I stood outside their door, waiting for them to start jumping in their cribs again. Instead, I heard Annie say, not once but twice, "mean mommy" and then she went to sleep.

It broke my heart.

Sure, Megan and Drew have told me on numerous occasions that they hate me. Even Izzie walks around saying that she hates me. But she also hates the doors and walls, so I know she isn't aware of what she is saying (and yes, Meg and Drew know perfectly well what they're saying). But to hear my Annie say that I'm a mean mommy struck a nerve. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that being home with the kids lately has been torture. I only touched upon their behavior in my last post. Monday I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed because I was so angry I was afraid I was going to hurt someone. That is not the kind of mom I want to be.

Sometimes being a parent sucks. My kids don't want rules, even though they need them. I need them to need them. Unfortunately for my kids, I am not a calm, quiet mom. I yell. A lot. It obviously doesn't work to change things, but it's all I know. (I also know that being at home for 12 hours a day five days a week with almost no break is slowly killing me, but that's for another post). I just wish my kids would see past the "mean mommy" and understand I'm doing my best. Of course that little nugget of insight won't hit them until they're in their 20s or so.

I just want to be a good mom. Most days I do not feel like a good mom, or even an adequate mom. I think my exact words to Doug have been "a trained monkey could do a better job". I'm trying to do better. I want to do better. They deserve better.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Where did May go? It's June 1st and I last posted on May 19th. Here's an update, bullet-style.

  • Softball season is almost over. This week we have 3 games, a practice and the team BBQ at our home. Meg has had fun.
  • School is over in 3 weeks. Drew finishes this week, but Meg still has a month of learning to go.
  • My laptop monitor died a week ago. My dad is bringing me a new laptop this week. To say I've missed it is an understatement.
  • My children have decided that listening to me is NOT on their list of things to do each day. Things have not been pleasant here.
  • I have some sort of spring cold that renders me completely unable to smell or hear well. The children also have this cold. I cannot even count the number of boxes of tissues we've gone through in the past two weeks.
  • My husband's one and only vacation this summer is coming up later this month. We told the kids about our vacation trip. Meg has already commenced freakout. Staying home may be a better option.
I have so much more to say but if I leave the children alone for too long, they start scratching, hitting, pulling hair. Yes, you should be jealous. My life is awesome.