The Slacking Blogger

I really dropped the ball on this blogging thing, huh? Having five kids in three schools and a myriad of after school activities, a few part time jobs and a slew of volunteer positions apparently causes that.

I promise not to slack on the blog again.

I also promise that that may be a lie.

Since the last post: The sweary, pantsless kid has started preschool. His teacher still seems to like me, so I am assuming that means he isn’t dropping too many F bombs in class. I am a bit afraid to ask. None of his classmates have nicknamed him Captain Underpants (yet), so I am taking that as a good sign that he isn’t dropping trou mid-storytime (not that this happens at home or anything…)

The big kid has started middle school. He loves it with every fiber of his being. He is weird. There is a school dance after school today, which he adamantly refuses to go to. When I asked why, I was told that the only reason that he went to the elementary school dance was because “You are on the PTO and you told me to get in the car…”

I have assumed the role of PTO treasurer. This also means that I have become the most hated customer at the bank. Tellers scramble to look busy as I walk to the counter with a screeching hyena (I mean…a stroller containing my toddler), a mountain of checks and a Tupperware container of ones. I joked with yesterdays teller that the next time I came, I was going to yell “make it rain!” and toss the entire deposit in the air so that we could dance under it. He looked horrified. He also looked my sons age. I am pretty sure he went home to his mom and told her that he met a real, live “Bad Moms” character at work today. I fear that he may quit if I go to his window again. We will see tomorrow.

I can’t decide if my lack of ideas for the rest of this post is because I am too busy, or too boring. Thus, I am cutting it off with a lack of writers flair, and will attempt to remember to update before my kid goes to college.

 

 

 

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Loading the Dishwasher With a Toddler: 49 Easy Steps

IMG_9133Company will be arriving in twenty minutes. The kitchen currently looks like a busy restaurant after the dinner rush.  A busy restaurant where all of the workers had a food fight before they went on strike and threw dishes over their shoulders as they ran out the door.

The dishwasher must be loaded. The following is an easy to follow guide to loading the dishwasher while parenting a toddler.

  1. Turn on toddlers favorite show.
  2. Slide off of the couch like an invertebrate while trying not to draw attention to yourself leaving the room.
  3. Silently fist pump once you have made it to the kitchen.
  4. Open the dishwasher door.
  5. Swear at the tell tale creaking.
  6. Glance up.
  7. Lock eyes with toddler.
  8. Beg toddler to stay in the living room.
  9. Remove toddler from dishwasher.
  10. Beg older children to entertain toddler.
  11. Haphazardly throw dishes into dishwasher.
  12. Remove toddler from dishwasher.
  13. Chase toddler into other room to remove wet dishes from his hands.
  14. Console screaming toddler, and place him in front of favorite show.
  15. Sprint back to kitchen like Usain Bolt.
  16. Throw handfuls of silverware into dishwasher.
  17. Remove toddler from dishwasher.
  18. Consider using only paper plates from now on.
  19. Remember how many children you have, and calculate that you would fill a landfill in approximately six days.
  20. Remove toddler from dishwasher.
  21. Contemplate bathing toddler in dishwasher from now on.
  22. Chase down toddler to retrieve forks.
  23. Consider hiding dishes elsewhere until company has left.
  24. Eye oven.
  25. Remember that time you tried to use oven as a breadbox, melted plastic to four loaves of bread and nearly burned the house down.
  26. Scrap idea to hide dishes.
  27. Pick up the dishes toddler has unloaded from dishwasher while you daydreamed.
  28. Mop up puddle of water from unloaded dishes.
  29. Remove toddler from dishwasher.
  30. Gag over curdled milk in sippy cup.
  31. Consider leaving bowls of water around the house for children instead of cups.
  32. Remember how often toddler dumps dog bowl.
  33. Scrap kid water bowl idea.
  34. Remove toddler from dishwasher.
  35. Load cups into dishwasher like cupstacking champion.
  36. Wonder why cupstacking is a thing.
  37. Contemplate new career as a cupstacker.
  38. Drop pile of cups, spilling water on toddler, who is sitting in the dishwasher again.
  39. Console wet, screaming toddler.
  40. Wrap toddler in towel, and place him in front of favorite show.
  41. Wonder where television remote went.
  42. Remove television remote from dishwasher.
  43. Realize you have three minutes left until company arrives.
  44. Remove toddler from dishwasher.
  45. Close dishwasher door.
  46. Forget about loading dishwasher.
  47. Make coffee for company.
  48. Commiserate over toddler/dishwasher love affair.
  49. Drink coffee out of paper cups.

 

 

Today, I leveled up.

There are times when navigating the parenting journey that you step to the next level. Sometimes these are scenarios where you have faced your greatest fears, times you have accomplished things you didn’t think you had the capability of achieving, or….other.

Today was definitely an “other.”

It started out no differently from any other family outing. A trip to a local craft museum. My husband clinging to our preschoolers hand, lest he careen into a display of delicate glass sculptures, our older children happily prancing from display to display, our toddler strapped to my back in a baby carrier.

Our toddler, whom we had taken blueberry picking the two days prior.

Our toddler, who discovered a love for blueberries.

Our toddler, whose digestive tract did not agree with this new found love of blueberries.

As we walked out the door of the museum, my toddler began squirming uncomfortably, and to my absolute horror – I felt my back suddenly get warm. I had begun to silently beg for it to just be a leaking diaper when the stench hit me. I staggered to the car, nearly blinded by the haze of foul odor, and took my son off of my back. I placed him in the car, and deadpanned to my husband, “There’s poop. I need you to help me.”

As he rounded the car, glancing at our poop-coated toddler, relief emanated from his voice as he assured me that there was none on me.

I reminded him that our son had been on my back, and turned around to lift my cardigan, revealing the shirt underneath.

“Oh……..”

A few (dozen) wipes and a (rejected) suggestion to drive home topless later, we arrived at our house to shower off the stench of the day.

Sometimes, that next level of parenting falls under the “other” category: surviving things so gross, you don’t even want to imagine that they could happen.

Level. Up.

 

Things I’ve Said Today – First Week of Summer Vacation Edition

Summer vacation has officially begun! This means that I am home with all five kids, day in and day out, for roughly 74 days. Thus, I have begun my yearly descent into the summertime looniness caused by being constantly surrounded by a small circus of children. I have embraced this looniness by hanging an image of my spirit animal on my window, to keep me grounded.

unicorn

Yes, my self proclaimed spirit animal is a unicorn, jumping over a rainbow, in a sky filled with cheeseburgers and pizza. My kids have to get their looniness from somewhere, right?

Without further ado, I present to you – the first edition of:

Things I have said today:

Please don’t wear your pancake as a hat.

I need you to get your brother out of the dishwasher.

Don’t put your boogers back in your nose. Have you done that befo…no. Wait. Don’t answer that. Just don’t do it. What do you mean you don’t have anywhere to put it? TISSUES. That is what TISSUES are made for.

How did you get syrup on the inside of your shoe? No, you can’t put it in the dishwasher with your brother. Get your brother out of the dishwasher. Again.

Yes, you need to wear pants to ride your bike. Yes, even if you wear sunscreen.

Please don’t lick the iPad.

Stop trying to swaddle the cat.

**worth noting – I do not actually bathe my toddler in the dishwasher. Much to his dismay.

Happy Summer!

Today, My Son Graduates From Elementary School

Today, my oldest son graduates from elementary school. Some would say that in the grand scheme of things, an elementary school graduation is rather insignificant. I disagree. To me, elementary school graduation is the first big step on the stairway to adulthood.

My son has spent the entirety of his 11 years guiding me as I learn how to do this parenting thing. With every passing milestone, I follow his lead, venturing ginger, uncertain steps behind him as he marches forward with steadfast confidence. While I cling to the idea that he is still my baby, he forges ever forward in his journey towards adulthood, his every step setting the stage for the siblings who come after him. Together, my son and I navigate the path between “first time mom” and “seasoned parent.”

It feels like a lifetime ago that I first stepped through the doors of his elementary school. Overwhelmed by the sea of children, I clung to my boy, each of us teary eyed and anxious, surrounded by strangers, uncertain of what our future would bring. Minutes later, he was enveloped in the loving arms of his Kindergarten teacher, who assured me with a warm smile and gentle pat on the shoulder that it would all be just fine. Watching them walk off hand in hand, his steps becoming more confident as they made their way down the hallway, I once again took his lead. But this time, his lesson to me was to step back. To trust in those whose chosen life path was to educate children, my precious boy included. Six hours later, I met my son in the pick up line, and immediately noticed that something had changed. Teary eyes and quivering lips had been replaced by an exuberant smile. Uncertainty about school had been replaced by a lust for learning that has yet to wane.

His teachers through the years have done so much more than “just teach” him. They have nurtured his interests, comforted him in times of need, laughed with him in times of joy, shared with him inside jokes and life stories, and given him a community of trusted adults.

And so I thank you –

Mrs. Peloquin and Mrs. Brignolo

Mrs. Collins and Mrs. Farber

Mrs. Briggs

Mrs. Balutis

Mrs. Trochez

Mrs. Davidson and Ms. D’Intino

And all of the specialists, paraprofessionals, assistants and coaches too numerous to name individually:

Thank you for guiding Damon through this part of his childhood. For bolstering his love of learning, for showing him respect, for challenging him, for being there when he needed a listening ear, and for simply making him feel safe and loved.

And thank you for guiding me through. For teaching me to trust in others. For giving me the comfort of knowing that he is in capable, loving hands. And for allowing me to quietly tread the steps of being a first time mom, watching my baby grow up.

xoxo

Deanna

 

In Memory of my Grandma

In honor of my daughter’s upcoming dance recital, I would like to share with you an excerpt from a sermon I delivered a few weeks ago, in memory of my Grandma and my own dance recitals.

From “In Praise of Weeds”

I have two favorite flowers. One is the Peony. The reason for this isn’t exactly because I think it is the most beautiful flower, or the most fragrant. It is because of my memories surrounding it. You see, my Grandma Sophie grew a beautiful garden. It was simply amazing. My grandma loved that garden fiercely. She spent hours and hours each day pruning her plants and picking her vegetables, and then cooking with the vegetables she harvested. Her life essentially revolved around this garden. Another thing she loved fiercely was her family. She never hid her pride in my accomplishments. My grandma never missed a school event, a vacation, and most importantly, a dance performance.

Now, to say I danced a lot as a child is an understatement. I performed numerous times a year, and danced in competitions nearly every weekend throughout the winter, followed by national championships over the summer. My grandma never missed a performance. Not a single one.

For the big performances, the recitals, she would bring me flowers. White peonies from her garden. As a child, I wasn’t appreciative of this. After every recital, I watched all of my friends receive store bought bouquets from their families. Perfect flowers, wrapped in tissue paper and cellophane. My flowers, they didn’t look like that. They were different. Instead of colorful tissue paper and sparkly cellophane, they came wrapped in a wet paper towel covered in aluminum foil. And I was jealous. Envious. I never said anything to my grandma, but – I wanted store bought flowers. Like my friends. Perfect flowers.

Every year, I was jealous of these flowers, until a dance recital when I was about twelve years old. On that day, my grandma, my independent, strong willed grandma, was ill. Her headache was so bad that she didn’t think she could drive, but she wasn’t willing to miss the recital. So, my mom and I piled into the car to go pick her up. After the twenty minute trip, we pulled into her driveway, and I caught sight of her. Sick, feeling so ill that she couldn’t drive, yet – out in her garden. On her knees, crawling around in the flowers. When I got out of the car, she called to me she would be ready in a minute, she was just comparing. In her hands, she was holding peonies next to each other. Painstakingly choosing the perfect ones. The biggest ones, the ones with petals that weren’t bothered by bugs. And my mother whispered to me that this was what my grandmother had done for every dance recital. Every year, in scorching late June temperatures, my grandma crawled through her beautiful garden, painstakingly choosing the biggest, most beautiful flowers, her prized work, to proudly present to me after my recital.

Suddenly, cellophane and tissue paper around store bought flowers didn’t matter at all. Suddenly, my garden grown flowers, wrapped in wet paper towels and aluminum foil, were the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen. And I received those flowers with pride and love, well into my college years. Even now, when I smell something peony scented, I feel my grandmothers love. White peonies hold a special place in my heart.

Though I won’t bore you with the rest of my sermon, I will say that my other favorite flower is a dandelion. There is a huge difference between a dandelion and a peony, huh? Well, the dandelion holds just as special a place in my heart, for many of the same reasons the peony does.  There is nothing more beautiful than a child crawling on their hands and knees, comparing – painstakingly choosing the perfect yellow bloom to proudly present to someone they love….

Dandelions and peonies…..maybe not so huge a difference. After all, weeds are simply flowers we have yet to discover the virtues of.  Flowers that haven’t followed the rules, and sprouted in the wrong place.

dandelion

“Do I Have To Wear Pants at Preschool?”

I registered my fourth kid for preschool yesterday. My older three have gone to the same preschool, and it has been a wonderful experience. I am looking forward to messy handprint art and wobbly attempts at writing his name. My expectations for this son are the same as the ones for the brothers and sister who came before him – ABC’s and 123’s, learning to socialize with new friends, learning to follow classroom rules….

I do have some additional hopes and dreams for this kid though. Hopes and dreams that I didn’t have for the others.

I hope he develops a love for reading. And pants.

Specifically pants. Though seeing the aptly nicknamed Captain Underpants conduct his daily life in his skivvies is (at the low end of) acceptable here, I am fairly certain that preschool isn’t the place where my kid should stage his “it says nothing about PANTS on that sign” protest.

Screenshot_20170512-092443

He wasn’t thrilled about the idea of wearing pants to the screening appointment, but to my relief, I won that fight, and he kept them on the whole time. He made up for this by streaking through the neighborhood in his underwear once we returned home. I would like to say this doesn’t happen often. That would be a lie. So much of a lie that last week, my neighbor questioned why my son looked so different, and came to the conclusion that it was because he was wearing pants.

I hope he develops a love for language.

CLEAN language. For the love of all that is holy, I pray that my foul language loving kid develops a love for four letter words like shiP and Duck. I hope that my kid, who picks up on foul language like a heat seeking missile, chooses to say “How the HECK is that story going to end?” and “SHOOT, I dropped my pencil.”

Screenshot_20170512-100115

 

Oh, and ARE-YOU-THERE-GOD-IT’S-ME-MARGARET, please don’t let him use any of the (cough, cough) loving nicknames he calls his siblings when he turns into the tiny blonde Hulk with his sweet little classmates come September, ok?

I hope he starts using real words.

When he gets nervous, he becomes goofy. He does silly things, and uses baby talk. Yesterday, he bearwalked from the perimeter of the playground to greet his new principal with an enthusiastic “GOOEY GOOEY!”

Which I suppose is better than the aforementioned alternative.

Perhaps the baby talk isn’t so bad. After all, it covers up what he is really saying when sweet ladies get too close while talking to him in the grocery store.

Yes, lady. He certainly loves ducks and ships. A gooey, gooey day to you. Screenshot_20170512-100528

Perhaps we should cut to the chase here. My kid needs to skip preschool altogether and go straight to college. He will make an awesome Frat boy one day.

Have his #@$^&* toga waiting.

That Time We Found a Tick. Or, That Time My Kid Nearly Got Eaten By A Monster. Whichever Title Works Better For You

Before yesterday, I thought ticks were gross. I had a rather rational level of disgust for  them, but didn’t think much of them beyond “Shoot, I am about 7 decades behind in putting flea and tick stuff on the dog, I should get on that…”

And then yesterday happened.

My kids become practically feral once the temperature reaches 40 degrees. Yesterday was no exception. I saw them for approximately 6 seconds after school, and then the front door slammed in a whirlwind of blonde hair and discarded school supplies.  Eventually, I wrestled the girl-child into a leotard, and sent her off to dance class with a friend. An hour and a half later she returned home, plopping down on the couch next to me as she excitedly started to tell me about her dance costume.

And there it was. As my daughter mimicked the layout of a tutu, this THING was doing it’s own little dance through her hair, it’s 7.5 million little legs waving disgustingly as it stumbled through her curls.

“And it has a red apron and a skir….”

I calmly interrupted my daughter.

“GET OUT OF THE HOUUUUUUUUUSE! It’s in your hair, it’s in your hair, go into the yard, GET OUT, now, now, now! GOOOOOOOOO!”

Once outside, I reacted to the tick like a mature, rational adult. This entailed swatting wildly at my child’s head with a paper towel, yelping like a hyena.

Once satisfied that the beast was removed from her head, my daughter wanted to look for it. Pointing to minuscule dots on our front walkway, she yelled, “I see it!”

Not wanting to alarm her, I refrained from telling her that the tick was slightly larger than those dots.  Somehow, I don’t think “No dear, the bug in your hair was the size of a small chihuahua….” would have gone over so well.

I glanced up from monster hunt just long enough to catch the eye of our neighbors adult son as he gawked at me in bewildered amazement while getting into his car. I am pretty sure he left to submit the paperwork for my Mother of the Year nomination. I mean, I clearly handled that situation like a BOSS.

Since that ghastly, Cadillac sized beast attempted to scalp my kid (well, I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. I guess he could have been trying to French braid her hair. But, for the sake of my fear mongering little story here, let’s just agree that he was a monster out for blood, mmmmm-kay?) Anyway, I digress. Since he hitched a ride on my kid’s head, I have been itching non stop. Every piece of hair that touches my arm is certainly a tick. Wind blows? Tick. Strange creaks that I used to attribute to the house settling? Monster sized ticks. Door bell rings? Polite ticks. They are everywhere. My Facebook feed was full of articles and comments about them. Texts and messages came flooding in. Friends began finding traveling hairdresser ticks in their own hair (perhaps in solidarity?).

Nothing bad actually came of our tick encounter. Well, except for the fact that I may itch my own skin off. But, who needs skin anyway?

In all honesty, the giant monster tick population this year is apparently a gazillion times higher than it usually is. So, be aware. Check yourself, your kids, your pets, and be careful answering the door in case they are going door to door selling whatever the heck ticks sell. If you need to learn proper tick removal techniques, I will be starting a class soon titled “Smacking Your Kid On The Head With A Paper Towel Like A BOSS. Tick Removal 101.”

If there is a silver lining, it is that I am now hyper aware. And that my pets have been flea and tick treated.

Thanks for the reminder, Facebook!

“Congratulations on the anniversary of your engagement!”

Well, that is not something you hear every day. Especially when your engagement was 5 kids, 2 cats, a dog, 60 pounds and 14 years ago.

But, Facebook, the all encompassing tool, wanted to remind me.

Even though Facebook was still a few years away from it’s own inception, it wanted to remind me of that day, 14 years ago, at the Franklin Park Zoo. That day when my boyfriend searched the entire zoo for the monkey exhibit, planning to ask me to spend this rest of my life with “this monkey” – only to realize at the last possible second that the monkey exhibit was closed, and that he was running out of zoo to propose in. That day, when he would say (ever so romantically) as I jumped on some stepping stone type rocks leading to the exit, “Hey, can you get down off of those rocks so that I can ask you to marry me?” That day when I would say yes while gazing over his shoulder at the last exhibit of the zoo, a giant, looming Condor who seemed to want to join in the excitement. Or have a newly engaged couple for lunch.

That day, which was pretty much a premonition of the years to come.

Our home is essentially a zoo. “Stop climbing on that” is repeated like a mantra. And an hour before dinner time, I can gaze over my husband’s shoulders and still catch glimpse of those vultures, circling with the hope of dinner.

By the way – I’d still say yes. animated-vulture-image-0009

Happy First Day Back from April Vacation!

Sunday night/last night of school vacation Deanna: “I have all of the school stuff organized, the kids are in bed at a normal time, and tomorrow morning is going to go smoothly.”

Monday morning/first day of school after April vacation Deanna: “Fnjiuagntfneuhagft.” (this roughly translates to: “Why do you get out of bed at dawn during vacation, but suddenly need beauty sleep on a school morning? Where did the backpacks go? How do you only have one shoe!? Yes, I need to do your hair, you look like Don King. Where is the bab….GET THE BOX OF CEREAL AWAY FROM THE BABY BEFORE HE DUMPS…someone clean up the cereal from inside the couch. Did you change your underwear? Yessssss this has to be done DAILY. Why is there chalk on the dog?”)

On the positive side, I am certain that I dropped the right ones off at school. Slightly less certain that they were all wearing socks, but – you can’t win them all. As long as the girl child doesn’t remove a sneaker and take out her teacher with the stench of her feet – I count it as a successful school drop off. (And if she did take off a shoe….well, I am sincerely sorry. And I owe you air fresheners.  And potentially therapy.)

I did get a chance to stop and smell the flowers this morning. Yes, actually. Fleeting reminders that life is beautiful. Even when it does involve stinky feet.

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