Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Potty Train Has Left the Station

Monday morning Andi woke up wearing nothing but a train conductor’s hat. Little did I know she had decided to board the potty train. We’d been laying the tracks for well over a year with comments like, “When you are ready, you can go potty like Sophia/Ella/mommy, too.” We’d bought pretty “underwears” of her choice and her self-selected princess potty chair waited patiently in the corner of my bedroom. Every now and then during the past year Andi would buy a ticket for the potty train, but it was usually the round-trip type of ticket that landed her back in the land of diaperly comfort.

It was hard for me not to want to grab the conductor hat from her and place it on my own head. Directing the potty train though, would have only ended in a power struggle and as a professional I knew better. But as a mom that was tired of changing diapers and spending money on them, the temptation to buy her a one way ticket on the potty train to the land of “underwears” was nearly overpowering.

Potty training really is about control and the tickets are not sold to parents – though some parents will hijack the station for a ticket, or even resort to a hostile takeover of the train Wild West style. But knowing Andi’s need for control (as well as my own), I planfully spent the last one-and-a-half years softly and matter-of-factly introducing the concept using language that always put the ball in Andi’s court. There were perks to boarding the potty train, of course, such as free M&M’s with each successful trip. Becoming a big girl was the glamour that came only with a one-way ticket.

With the twins, Sophia potty trained in one day. Ella, on the other hand, wasn’t ready at the same time as Sophia. With the pressure of a new baby arriving and the deadline for no-diapers-allowed preschool looming, I had grabbed the conductor’s hat from Ella. By the time Ella’s potty training was over, two things had happened. The conductor’s hat lay shredded and destroyed at our feet, and Ella asking – still to this day – “when do I get to ride the potty train?” As if it really is an actual train.

The red blinking lights warned us to stand back as the black and white guard arms abruptly lowered this past week at the train crossing, directing us to stand back from the tracks and wait patiently until the caboose goes by on it’s one way trip to the land of big girls, underwears, and diaper-free preschools. Andi was firmly in the conductor’s seat, even emptying her own potty seat into the big toilet. My only role has been to pass out M&M’s and wave good-bye as Andi sailed past us waving with not a white hankie in hand, but a diaper which we saw her let loose. It got caught in the wind of the quickly moving train and I saw it land in Babyhood Township just as Andi crossed over the state line to Big Girl City.

Next stop, Chuck E. Cheese for a celebration.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo. You can come, too, too, too. (Raffi song)

I thought I'd take a break from the whining, swearing, and bagging on Dave and post a few pics from our afternoon at Como Zoo.  Gram isn't feeling well and I wanted to send her a smile...I hope this helps. Feel better soon gramma....

P.S. Andi decided to start potty training yesterday.  She could hardly fall asleep tonight she was so excited about pooping and peeing in the princess potty.  She called mom and shared the good news.  Very exciting for her...Once she is able to go on an outing and stay dry, she gets to go to Chuck E. Cheese.  This just makes becoming a "big girl" all the more exciting.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Good-bye Hello

One of the therapists I work with said she doesn’t have a private practice citing that she can do therapy anywhere and if she was to open her own business, she’d want it to be something fun, “like making cupcakes.”

Moments of clarity stumbled upon are especially convenient for a busy working mom who doesn’t have time to sit and ponder her life’s goals in a therapist’s office. Deciding whether I would keep my private practice going had been on my mind lately. I wanted to close it down, but I hate “quitting.” The ultimate goal as I traversed grad school was to one day have my own private practice. Over the course of the last year that I ran the practice I enjoyed working with the parents and their children (some more than others – there are some really screwed up things parents do and it’s very hard to nicely say, “Your kid doesn’t need to be fixed. You do.”

A moment that sticks out in my mind, for example, was the dad of a toddler who kept hitting her sister. In the same breath he used to articulate his anger towards her unrelenting violence towards her sister, he stated his approach to disciplining his child, “I spank her. A lot.”

Still though, I liked the clinical work. What I hated, despised, dreaded, couldn’t stand was all the business-y type work. The advertising, the networking, the promoting of one’s own self and business. Please, I used to say to the universe, just send me the clients. I hated working with an anorexic, axis 2 nutritionist just to try to promote my business and sitting at an all day fair for pregnant women only served to awaken the PTSD I had recently been diagnosed with when it came to my own infertility, pregnancy losses, and trying high-risk pregnancies.

I hated running my private practice, but kept going rewarded by parent’s “ah ha” moments in how they could better parent their own children. “I guess I need to stop spanking my child if I want her to learn not to hit others.” Well, yeah…that’s a start.

I love being back to work – even if it is in a very corporate environment where sucking up seems rampant and taking breaks is looked upon as a luxury, not a legal right and more importantly, a way to keep balance. I just sit at my desk and the universe drops a plentiful amount of clients into my lap. Some wizard behind a curtain deposits a nice paycheck into my account every other week. And I don’t have to engage in any business-y type behavior.

Spending 40 hours per week at work has made me have to set priorities and has finally highlighted for me what I care most about doing. Besides having to parent, the small amount of time left is spent cooking, working out, writing, and going to zumba. Checking my practice email brings on dread and anxiety.  Please universe, don't send me any more clients.  I just don't have time...

I was afraid I would lose what was important to me when I chose to go back to work – I didn’t even know what was important to me – I just had this vague sense of fear and panic that time would be too short and how would I fit all I wanted to into life. Instead, I discovered what was important. Will I stay in this job forever? Absolutely not. It’s high stress to spend 40 hours per week being transferred call after call that a customer service agent tells me, “I have a caller for you, she is thinking of killing herself/someone else/is in withdrawl from alcohol and painkillers.”

But as I pull the plug on my private practice this week, I am one step closer to taking charge of my life and asserting/discovering what I do and don’t want. I haven’t felt this much clarity since I was a mouthy, fiery  teen/young 20-something.

Hello old friend, it’s nice to see you again…

Monday, January 16, 2012


Yes. The nanny has been found. After interviewing girls who couldn’t stay more than a few months, dealing with flighty nannies who cancelled or asked to rearrange interviews last minute, to managing multiple phone calls of a woman who called herself “Mrs. Doubtfire” but who more appeared to be a Mrs. Nightmare Bossy Pants, I have at long last found someone. 

She landed on our door step two days after the family she was with for two years terminated her suddenly.  The Dad lost his job and their bad fortune became our luck in hiring a nanny.

From the moment I spoke to her on the phone I liked her.  She seemed sweet, sincere, and supportive.  Her patient, caring, inviting demeanor will one day make her the perfect Child Life Specialist upon completion of her degree, but until then, she is my right-hand woman.  She had me at, “Besides doing the dishes we use and picking up all messes we make – which as far as I am concerned is a normal part of being a nanny – what else can I help you with? Dusting? Laundary? Or perhaps you don’t know, yet?  You can always just let me know what you need help with as things pop up.”

Are you kidding me?  Is she for real?  Isn't this too good to be true?

 I could have kissed her, hugged her, and then wept at her feet simultaneously asking her where she has been these past five years, and please oh please, don’t ever leave me until my children are grown and gone. 

She starts tomorrow.  I hope she’s everything she appears to be.  Dave said we wouldn’t find someone who has a floating umbrella, but during our initial meeting, my eye kept getting drawn towards her waist and the way the belt wrapped around her coat, leaving it gathered and puckered around her waist.  The gathers poofed out just enough to give the illusion that perhaps she had floated in from some far away land where nannies can be trusted with children and mothers can go to work in peace. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Losing Teeth: Why Must this Happen?

Now my other one is losing teeth.  Sophia has been telling me for weeks she has a loose tooth.  I'd keep my distance, pretend to watch her wiggle it, and then distract myself from the image of a loose tooth.  I really had no idea if the wiggliness of it was real or Sophia's wishful thinking.  She has been dying to have a tooth pop out after watching Ella lose two teeth, get $1 from the tooth fairy, and then shop at the dollar store, picking out whatever cheap, made-in-China treasure she desired.  

I'm not sure if I have a strong sense of empathy and over-identify with what others feel?  Or perhaps I have some sort of genetic mutation passed on from my dad who I'm pretty sure wanted nothing to do with my mom while she was giving birth.  Whatever it is, it causes me to have a dramatic response to simple bodily functions of those around me.  One time walking home from school with a dear elementary friend, I dry heaved because she kept burping over and over again as a form of entertainment  -- despite me complaining it was disgusting. 

Dave says about that story, "Like dry heaving is so attractive, too.  What a lovely pair the two of you were.  Neither of you must have had enough oxygen going to your brain."

I've nearly had to run out of zumba and throw up because someone in there keeps...tooting, as the girls and I politely call what little boys call "farting." To avoid making a scene, I try to hold my breath, but that class is so demanding -- 700 calories are usually shed in one hour -- that by depriving myself of breath when I most need it, I grow dizzy and see spots. 

When I was six, I vomited all over the speakers of my mom's 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme after watching my infant brother throw up as we drove home from the doctor office. 

I've passed out having my earrings changed, and I've gotten woozy at the pediatrician office every time they give one of the girls a finger prick and I have to sit and hold them because the little cowards won't sit still on the table without being held, thereby forcing me to have to pretend I'm a caring, nurturing, protective mom when what I'd really rather do is run screaming down the hallway to the nearest exit.

I do hate to wish away my children's young childhood, or display a lack of excitement for them when they are giddy with the hilly-billy smile they have achieved by losing the baby tooth that only five years ago made us exclaim, "LOOK!  A tooth! She's getting so big!" Now with the shedding of that very same tooth we exclaim about her smile, "Look!  No more tooth!  She's getting so big!"

And then I turn away, and quick -- focus on anything I can, distracting myself from both the swirl of the room and the emotions.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Who Are You and Where Did You Come From?

We've done the math.  Okay. Dave did the math.  I can't do math.  I tried to do a 1st grade math problem one time (as an adult) and it took me five minutes -- I'm pretty sure that is five minutes longer than it should have taken.

In our mathematical story problem, we took nearly the top rate nannies seem to be going for around here -- $18/hour -- and compared the cost of a nanny to putting Andi in a daycare center and adding in afterschool care for the twins.

A nanny is $300 per month cheaper.

So of course I am going to go with the option that allows my children to be less exposed to germs, have more personalized attention in their home atmosphere, and who can pick up where I leave off when I have to go into work. Not to mention someone who can stay with my sick children so that I can go in to work. 

The process of finding a nanny is not a fun one when you are on a very short time line; however, if we can make it through this marathon search for a nanny, I think it will pay off and end up being the ideal childcare arrangement for the situation we are in.  I am doing a search on my own through various websites, but if that doesn't work, a nanny agency is scheduled to come out this week and take over the search for me.  I am running out of time since I have a 50 hour week coming up at work.

So far, I have two elementary teachers coming for an interview and a graduate student in marriage and family therapy.  I have tossed aside anyone who appears flighty, doesn't have a four-year (or more) degree in a child development field, has a penis, is bringing their own children or has listed their hobby as "Jesus."

Call me picky.  Call me a snob or a sexist.  But I don't have time to dick around here and I know what I feel comfortable with.  And I intend to find that vision.

Last time I hired a nanny, I was overly nice and it ended up biting me in the butt.

As I listen to myself talking to these women on the phone laying out my expectations for them in a kind, but firm voice, asserting what I do and don't expect I can barely recognize myself. I find myself asking the same question Andi so oddly asked of me one day not long ago when I snuck up on her and knelt down to whisper something in her ear.  "Who are you and where did you come from?" Andi asked of me.  What was that about, I wondered?

It was an odd question that she asked of me, but one that I am now asking not only of these nannies, but of myself.  I do think children are very insightful and observant about life's goings-ons and perhaps Andi wasn't just echoing some random line off a TV show, but was picking up on the fact that mommy is doing a lot of transforming lately. 

Back to the hunt.  The interviews commence tonight. We have to have someone selected by Weds in order to complete the background checks and have time to fit in 1-2 orientation/get to know each other gatherings before she starts working in just over one week.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I Love Brown

I am not a native Minnesotan and I hate the winters here.  They don't sit well with my mood. I didn't realize how much I hated them until this winter.  It has been mostly brown and temperate as far as a northern winter goes.  With brown all around, my mood is less blue compared to the white winters of recent past.

The lack of snow this winter helps me feel less claustrophobic.  Less anxious.  Less depressed from feeling trapped on a frozen tundra hell.  We have a few more days of warm left, and then I hear that we are diving back down to the teens.  At least there is no snow coming in the near future...knock on wood, if the creek don't rise, cross our fingers hope to die, and God willing. 

Who'd have thought Andi could test-drive her Christmas present in January.

24 Hours of Christmas 2011

I've been mostly posting from work.  In my spare moments I dash off a blog entry as quickly as I can before another crisis call comes in.  Tonight at home, it is my mission to take a break from the angry-crazy-woman rants and get a wholesome family blog entry completed.  I finally had a chance to get the computer on and upload all the pics. 

Santa and his elf, Holly June, left a very long note about things we did well...and things he hoped we would work on in 2012. (He also left chocolates disguised as coal in our stockings.  Does that mean we were naughty? Or nice?

Kelli got her amazing Cowardly Lion doll.  I can't wait til she gets the Tin Man doll for her birthday next month.

No Christmas evening at GreatGramma's house is complete without a jumping-on-the-bed-party.

Andi and her great-gramma

Soon-To-Be Big Sister, formerly known as The Only Child.

Oh geez mom...she's always stirring things up and making things crazy.  That's why the girls say, "Bobo's crazy!"

You know you've just experienced 24 hours of Christmas when you fall asleep after only one sip of a slurpee -- with the straw still in your mouth....

Friday, January 6, 2012

Watch Me Unravel

If you love to watch train wrecks, you have come to the right blog.  As my stressors are piling up, my boundaries and ability to filter what I say are going down. Not only am I the newest inductee into the Husband Haters of America Club -- which is a surprisingly large club filled with nearly every women I know -- but I am now on the hunt for a nanny.  I have less than two weeks to find someone who will not molest or kidnap my children, subcontract her duties out to a television set, or view her employment with me as PRN.  

One nanny already broke one of my RULES.  She no-showed for the phone interview. 

I have three rules that if you break them, you will be fired. I've fired a nanny before, and I'll do it again.  Passive little Shannon with no balls who "just wants to be nice and make friends" has apparently left the building and I have no idea if or when she will return.  Do I miss her? Sometimes.  But back to the rules as formulated by Don't Fuck with me I've Had All I can take and then some Shannon.

1.  No playing on your damn little cell phone. You are at work, you are to be plugged into my children, not social media.
2. Show up. Every day. On time.
3.  There was a 3rd RULE, but thanks to my high level of stressors that are popping up, I've forgotten it. 

Which brings me to the issue of my memory. I realize that when stress is high, memory is going to fail, but it is still unsettling that I left meatballs in the oven cooking for SEVEN hours while I took the kids to the zoo and then out for dinner.


What is more unsettling is that despite the fact that the house smelled like it was going to burn down, Dave didn't notice or think to ask me when I called to check in with him, "Is there a reason it smells like something is burning?"

I scheduled three appointments for Monday at 10 AM.  Maybe I need to use a calendar.  Maybe I need to remember to check one of my three calendars.

To my credit, I did remember it was recycling week, but still the recycling didn't get put out despite me blocking Dave from parking in the garage because I placed the recycle bin in the middle of the garage.  He has two responsibilities I count on him for besides earning a paycheck.  1. Unload the dishwasher.  2. Put the trash out wkly.   Instead, he left his car in the drive, left the garage-door open all night, and now we will have to wait two more weeks for the recycle guy to come.   Frick. (And he didn't unload the dishwasher. Not that I'm keeping score.)

It seemed like I had so much more to write...but I can't remember any of it right now.  Really.  

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Yes. He failed the test. But I knew he would.  I'm not being negative or a pessimist, I just know who I'm dealing with.

When I arrived home, he was just screwing the light switch plate back on stating he had taken the plate off to look underneath.  I'm not going to say a damn thing about either of these to him...I'm just going to wait and see how long it takes him to fix these things.  If it is all done by this time next year, I'll be surprised. 

Actually, all it will take is one trip up here by my dad.  Dad swoops in on weekends and takes care of everything I can't figure out how to handle.  Feeding him beer, pizza and bbq is cheaper than paying a handyman and less frustrating than trying to motivate Dave-- which I have failed at -- which is why dad has to fix everything.  The gutter above our sliding door that dad installed after me waiting for Dave to do it for FIVE YEARS is dripping at a seam and Dave has been tasked with fixing's been seven months.  We have the supplies to fix it. It will take all of five minutes.  I'm still waiting...

Why don't I just do it myself? Why do I sit here and unhappily bitch and complain?  I suppose it's stubborness. Or perhaps a desire to be petty.  Maybe it's because I like power struggles?  Maybe my dad is a superstar and Dave is just a regular guy?  Or maybe because I am set in righteousness and martyrdom that "I do everything else" while Dave is tasked only with unloading the dishwasher and getting himself to work.

I just really wonder why I can get so much more done in a day than he can.  And is it because of this that he slacks off? Or is it that I have learned to become super efficient because I live with someone who is disorganized, less than motivated, and a fan of napping, sleeping-in and mediocrity?

Is this how marriage is?  Should I just shut up and put up? Will it get better when the kids are older?

Is it not the marriage per se that is the problem, but me or my personality?  If Dave wasn't the target of my eye-rolling (that is so severe I've nearly sprained my right eye,) would something else be?

Do I have too high of expectations? Am I a narcissist?

Or are we just not a good fit?

This is an ongoing life pattern, as therapists like to say.  During my grad school days, I worked, cooked, cleaned, did laundary, and the grocery shopping. Dave worked. 

Adding children and an actual house with a yard has only expanded the my responsibilities ten-fold.  

During Dave's grad school and law school days he went to school.
And I worked, cooked, cleaned, did laundary, and the grocery shopping.  I made him go get a job by his 2nd yr of law school when I got pissed that I worked during grad school to keep us fed and perhaps, I thought, so should he.

Are these complaints I am having outweighed by the positives?

Are there positives?  I feel like I can't even see straight?

Was it the severe stress multiples bring that the doctors warned us of when we did IVF? If there weren't children involved would I walk away? Or would I even have to because perhaps I could tolerate his child-like behavior because I didn't have three little needy sparrows underfoot already?  Do I stay because I'm afraid to be alone -- am I afraid to be alone -- it seems like a welcome relief...a break.  Am I allowing my materialism and awareness that I need a $15k surgery (hence his income and help with the kids) in the near future dictate my choice? Two corporate career incomes is far more powerful when directed into supporting one home versus two homes. 

In the midst of writing this blog, I pause to listen to the older and wiser (ages 50-70) women around me who have divorced Asshole, The Laziest Man Alive, and Can You Believe Him?.  They are all complaining about the very things I have just written of -- two of the women left powerful men who supported them in mult-million dollar homes, another example that money does not buy happiness.  Odd, the timing of their conversation with my writing...(Are they looking over my shoulder?) 

Is it that we are all therapist's and have little tolerance for caring for husbands when we care for people all day long? Are our graduate degrees a sign that we are strong, educated women with high expectations for our partners? Is it that we are trained in human behavior that has something to do with our inability to tolerate our husband's behaviors?  Does being a therapist have nothing to do with our situations and we are a common reflection of greater society?  Does our caretaking personality attract us to men who need to be fixed? But really, who doesn't have something about them that needs fixing if you want to be technical about it...and is it really fixing?...that sounds so pathological.

Obviously, I have more questions than I have answers for.  But the one question I will not ask of Dave one more time is "when are you going to fix it?"  Because he will have not answers for that.

Stomp, stomp, stomp.

Happily I Pass the Baton to My Brother

I remember back in the day... Back in the day when we wanted kids...when our lives revolved around appointments at a fertility clinic and fear of having one more dead baby.  It's amazing how much an attitude can change.  I used to be afraid infertility and loss would haunt us forever.  What if I wanted more kids, but couldn't have them?  As it turned out, having twins...and then a surprise baby more than cured that.  My fear that I'd never really feel like I'd know for sure I was done having kids, or have the CHOICE not dictated by infertility, is not going to be a problem...

You know you are done having children when:

1. Someone announces they are pregnant and your automatic thought is, "Why are you so excited?  Life is gonna suck for you and I'm really glad I'm not in your shoes right now.  It's not gonna be rainbows and sunshine...or even close to it."
2. You pass by the baby stuff at Target and get a headache versus the "ohhhh that's so cute" reaction.
3. You see pregnant bellies and think, "I'm so glad I'm not doing THAT to my figure." Again.
4. You see pregnancy and children as holding you back from a career. 
5. You panic at the very thought of having to give up real workouts at the gym.
6.  You get grossed out by a drooling messy baby.
7.  You actually really don't want to hold the newborn the mom is dangling in front of you for you to hold. Then...
8.  You feel stressed and anxious while holding the little darling, mixed with a bit of unexpected resentment -- and great relief when you get rid of the baby.
9.  Newborn babies crying in public annoy you -- when did I become THAT person?  (I promise P & H, I will not be annoyed by your baby.  Or grossed out.)
10.  You don't experience a second-thought or a bit of guilt when your big-blue-eyed children say they'd like another sister and you automatically, firmly, without a second-thought tell them NO.  No frickin' way in hell...and in that moment realize that life has brought you to a decision you didn't even know you were trying to make.  How convenient.