Fly with the birds

Pittsburgh is seriously one of my most favorite places. It has incredible views, amazing architecture (can we say bridges?) and some awesome kid involved activities.

We’re very lucky to have the nations only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated to birds – the National Aviary of Pittsburgh. A lot of people who live here have never been – heck, have never heard of it! It’s tucked in a nice park area of the North Side, not far from Allegheny General hospital, the Children’s Museum and CCAC.

My dad is a volunteer there. In his semi-retirement, it makes the most sense. He’s been crazy about birds as long as I’ve known him, always pointing out the most random bird no matter where we were. His love for them was truly contagious. I’ve even grown to appreciate them more.

For Christmas, he promised all of us a personal tour of the Aviary. We waited until Claire was out of school, so she could join.

I’ve been to the Aviary many times, and I’ve always appreciated it, but I’ve never experienced it quite like I did yesterday.

First of all, going with a volunteer has its perks. We learned all the secrets, knew all the shows to go to and where to look.

photo 1 (20)We first went to the wetlands and fed birds worms and fish.

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I was pretty impressed that Claire touched the fish, though no one but myself and Larry touched the worms.

During the show, a bird named Thomas got too close to Audrey’s sippy. She reached out for it and screamed, “MINE!” Thomas didn’t seem to care and continued to hop along the tray further annoying the already annoyed baby.

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We went to an outdoor show where we got to have birds fly over our heads and my cousin got to have a parrot land on her hand to take a dollar, in return the parrot gave up a packet of flower seeds.

Then we went to feed the Lorries.

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Mae didn’t want to touch a bird, or have one land on her, so I held her nectar cup.

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One of the Lorries landed on Luca’s head, which startled him, and caused him to drop his cup of nectar. He wasn’t happy with the Lorries anymore.

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Claire, again, proved to me how brave she was and let the Lorries land on her arm.

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Claire learned she’s about as big as an Emperor Penguin.

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They let the African Penguins follow their hands.

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And Audrey made a new friend.

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Sponsor a lovie: Challenge – accepted

Yesterday my friend said to me something very wise. I was upset that I couldn’t adopt Julius. I love that dog so much, and I look around the house and see where he’d sleep or eat or play. But realistically, he’s just too much energy with having an 18 month old walking around. He met the kids last weekend, and did very well with them. Didn’t even pay them much attention. When Mae called him over, he came up to her, and gave her kisses, which knocked her on her butt.

Boy just loves too much.

Anyhow, Jen said to me, “Adopting isn’t the only way to make a difference for a dog.”

It’s so true, guys. How many of you out there are to the max with animals, or have allergies, or simply not enough time to devote to a furry friend. I get it.

So after I made my post about Julius, a very kind woman came out of the woodwork and offered to sponsor Julius, meaning, she would pay his adoption fees.

I know for a lot of people donating money is hard because you wonder, “Where does that money go?” I’m pretty sure that’s why, when we do fundraisers, people are more apt to buy things off of the Amazon wishlist rather than just give up cold hard cash. You know that when you click purchase, a dog or cat somewhere will be thoroughly enjoying what you chose to buy. Dogs will learn how to sit, through the milkbones you bought. Cats will not feel a hungry belly because of the food you sent. The cages will stay clean because of the paper towels you purchased and most of all, the dogs will have a nice comfy space on the concrete because of the old blankets you donated.

It’s really that simple.

So it got my mind spinning.

Did you know you could actually sponsor an animal at your local shelter?

You can.

(Cue Sarah McLaughlan sad music.)

Meet Charlie:

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He was originally adopted from the ARL, but his owners moved, and couldn’t take him. So he’s back. My dear friend Jen, who is one of the biggest animal advocates I’ve ever met, took a shine to him. But as she said, adoption isn’t the only way you can help the dogs. What does she do? She works with him – very hard. She is helping him to learn how to adjust to a new home life when his new family comes along to get him.

His adoption fee is 115 dollars.

Meet The Dude:

thedude

 

This beautiful boy found himself at the shelter because his family is moving, as is the story with a lot of these animals. He is also deaf, which makes his situation even more difficult. From the website: “Deaf dogs do require a special owner and we will be selective when deciding who can adopt the Dude. He will need a secure environment where he can not get lost or injured. When you come in to see him, the adoptions department can explain in more detail what is required when adopting a deaf dog. If you have other dogs and/or kids, you must bring everyone in to meet the Dude prior to adopting him. If you would like to inquire about The Dude, call the shelter at 412-345-7300, ext. 215. His adoption fee is $115.”

I have met him. He is such a sweet boy. He follows hand commands very well and is just an all around awesome dog.

Windy!

windy

 

“Windy initially came to the Animal Rescue League back in April and we have learned lots of wonderful things about this sweet girl during her stay. Windy is very eager to please and she is a quick study. She has picked up the commands for sit, watch me and down and does a nice job. Windy likes to take walks and walks nicely using an easy walk harness. She isn’t too fond of the hot weather though and sometimes needs a bit of extra encouragement (or a yummy treat) to help her along – She would rather sprawl out and sunbathe! Windy enjoys the company of other dogs. Recently, the shelter participated in a training about doggie play groups. Windy was the “helper dog” and was used to help other dogs! She also got along brilliantly with a volunteer’s dogs while on an overnight sleepover. If you were considering Windy as a companion animal, please bring your pup to the shelter so our adoption counselors could do an introduction! Windy is a very silly puppy too (She is only around a year old). She likes to chase lightning bugs! Windy loves toys and loves to show how grateful she is with kisses and tail wags. While on her slumber party, Windy really enjoyed snuggling on the couch and watching television. Windy has tons of love to give! Windy is a very sweet, mild mannered girl who can’t wait to be settled into a wonderful home. She is active for her age, but also likes to relax and settle in. For more information, please contact her volunteer friend, Jill at ljp0730@gmail.com or call 412-345-7300, ext. 215!”

Guys, they have play groups for the dogs. I mean, seriously. They care about these dogs so much and get them ready for a new home. I’ve seen it first hand.

Last, meet Venus:

venusI have personally run and worked with Venus. She is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. On the right side of her rib cage, she has a heart shaped patch. I’m telling you – it’s a perfectly shaped heart. If I had the opportunity to name her, I would have called her Lovie. She is just that. A love. She follows commands, she sits very pretty and offers her paw. She’s often overlooked because of her age (she’s 3) and that she’s a pit mix. Also, because she tends to lay just like this in her kennel instead of greeting everyone at the front.

Again, her adoption fee is 115 dollars.

Of course there are tons of kittens and bunnies that can also be sponsored.

So my challenge to you is, can you – or you and some coworkers, or you and some friends, or you and some family, sponsor an animal? I bet an office of 12 could easily put together ten bucks each.

What say you?

 

 

Didn’t stand a chance

I got a phone call today from a friend, that a friend of hers found some kittens abandoned behind a building, and asked what she should do. After a long session of texting back and forth, she agreed to bring them to the ARL and hope they could care for the kittens. They were maybe two weeks old, umbilical cord stumps still attached.

She said she would be there around six and when she called me at 6:15, she was near tears, saying that someone has to foster them by tonight, otherwise they wouldn’t fare well.

I looked at Matt and he agreed, we could take them for the night. They deserved a chance.

On my way to the shelter, I was stressed out. Taking kittens that little means waking up every 2-3 hours to feed them. I was willing to do it, obviously, but it’s still a lot of work.

When I got there, the vet tech told me they were being processed. I found my friend and we sat on the benches waiting.

Shortly there after, the vet tech let us know the kittens were positive for FIV (feline leukemia,) and we had a decision to make.

I had a kitten once, Silas, who was the animal love of my life. That cat meant everything to me. He had FIV. Some cats can live long, full lives with it. Some cats cannot. Silas, along with his brother Puckett, did not. Silas, my dear sweet boy, died on my pillow in my room, all alone.

I told my friend that it’s a tough decision, but ultimately, the most humane thing would be to let them go. After much debate, the decision was made to let them go peacefully.

It’s a hard thing to just shrug off. I had gone to the shelter with a cat carrier, completely expecting to bring five kittens home to nurse back to health, albeit stressed out. Instead, I drove home, alone.

I came home and saw Matt had begun to set up the crate for them. I literally lost it.

I hate that I care so much. I hate that I drove home in tears, and sat at my dining room and cried into my dinner. I hate this feeling.

While I know it was for the best, I couldn’t save them. There was nothing I could do.

My friend Jen texted me to make me feel better, and did a good job when she said: “Leukemia in cats is so awful. It causes so many terrible things. So if it’s any comfort, they won’t suffer. They didn’t get much of a shot in this world, but they were cared for and were shown love. That means something.”

It means everything, to be honest. Those kittens, while short lived, deserved that love and attention. And they got it. That’s all anyone can ask for.

Finality

I hit a butterfly with the car today. I was driving on a back road on the way to take Claire to her first tumbling class, and no one was on the road, so I tried to slow and turn away, but it was a butterfly and has no control and died. As I looked in the rearview mirror, hoping that it just flew under and was fine, I thought to myself, Is that all it’s for? To do all that work to grow into a butterfly and just die by the front end of a Volvo?

The gym I primarily work at was sold. No one knows any details and the people who have been staff there for 20 plus years have no idea what will become of it. Will they still have jobs? What will they do for a living? So close to retirement, yet so far. Now what?

The rest of us instructors don’t even know if we will have a job to come back to come September 1 when they turn over to new management and a new franchise.

It’s the unknown that scares me so much sometimes I can hardly breathe. While I’m not type A, I do have some of the tendencies and when I’m not in control, I freak out the most.

I have no control over what may or may not become of a gym I’ve called home for nearly six years. I don’t know if I will be able to continue to instruct there, or if they will rid of the Les Mills umbrella and let us all go. I can just hope it stays the same.

Today I had to be at two places nearly at once. I taught BodyPump in Monroeville, about twenty minutes away. I left on time, but it seems every stop light had it out for me, and when I showed up to teach, I was already five minutes late.

Because of starting five minutes late, I was five minutes late finishing, and that put me ten minutes late to Mae’s dance class.

And as I’m trying to leave to get the kids from daycare, so we can quick rush out the door and drive back to Fox Chapel for dance, a few of the members came up to tell me what a wonderful experience they had with me as an instructor and that they wish I had a permanent class there. I smiled and thanked them, but couldn’t linger, because I had to go, and while I do love a nice compliment, I thanked them profusely and ran out the door.

Only to find I left my phone, making me later.

On the way from the gym in Monroeville to Mae’s dance class, I got so frustrated because, as we know, I was running late but mostly because I couldn’t stay and talk to the nice ladies who were simply grateful to have a positive workout experience. They wanted to revel in their successes and I wanted to encourage them to continue to take classes, but I couldn’t.

And because, again, I was hitting every single red light in town. Even more, because they decided to start a new construction zone right in front of me on the turnpike. So as we drove down the highway, going 35 MPH with a flashing arrow truck in front of me, I snapped. I started saying please, over and over and over again to the construction truck in front of me. No construction was happening. No cones were out. But the truck was blocking us and time was ticking away on the clock making me later and later for Mae and her dance.

Right before I started to swear, I turned on the radio, and one of the kids’ favorite songs was playing, “Love Somebody” by Maroon 5. They all started to sing.

So while I was in the driver’s seat, stewing in frustration, the kids were singing, “Woaaaaah! Ooooooh! Oh, oh, oh!” and I stopped to smile for a brief moment before I went back into anger mode.

When I got within a few miles of dance class, I noticed my smoothie cup had spilled and what small amount I was unable to get out when I was drinking it many hours prior, spilled all over the passenger seat.

Seriously.

Little thing, after little thing, after little thing continued to build and build, until I drove up to dance class and ran Mae in and shuffled her into the door, apologizing profusely to her instructor who smiled and didn’t even seem to mind.

Neither did Mae.

And so when I sat there and was telling one of the other dance moms my morning of woe, I suddenly felt so silly.

None of the members minded I was late. They were simply thankful someone filled in for the regular instructor who was on vacation.

The kids didn’t mind that I was running late to dance class, most of all Mae. She was just glad she got to go.

And the kids also thought it was hilarious when they saw green goo spilled all over the passenger seat. So there’s that.

I built all this up in my head.

So the gym is going to be sold. In a few months, I may or may not have a job there. There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m sad, yes, but who knows. Maybe there’s other opportunities for me elsewhere. Maybe I can push more to have a regular class at the gym in Monroeville. I’m proud to say my instructing status is positive and is being discussed amongst the members, and that’s who it matters to the most.

Maybe there’s a gym out there I’ve never been to before that I could end up teaching at.

I have no idea.

So this morning, I thought I was that butterfly destined for the grill of a Volvo, because I put everything on my shoulders, and the weight of it was crushing me. But this evening, looking back on the fact that I: taught BodyPump, took Mae to dance, went to the Y to coach, took Claire to tumbling, taught RPM and met a friend for dinner, all while Matt is out of town on buisness…I got through today.

And that’s okay.

 

I hope I never see him again

On Saturday he didn’t seem himself. I don’t know if he had had a bad night or if the shelter life was getting to him, but when I went to take him out for our run, he sort of moped along, obedient, but not his usual dopey, happy go lucky self.

I told myself that when I came back the next day, he and I were going on a road trip.

See, I volunteer for the Animal Rescue League in my spare time. (Ha!) My title is Dog Jogger. My role is to take approved shelter dogs out and run with them so that they get enriched, learn running etiquette and are more conditioned to home life. It’s been so rewarding, I can’t even explain it. Along the way, I fell in love with a dog named Julius. He’s been at the shelter far too long, at least 2 months. Here’s our story.

Sunday I went and got Julius out of his kennel and he was happy as I remember him. Maybe it’s because he recognizes me, but he was so happy he was wagging his whole body. I brought him outside where I had him pee and he expected us to head up Hamilton on our usual route, but this time we went to my jeep and he jumped in without a second thought.

We rode with the windows down and he sniffed every last bit of air that came flying into the jeep.

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And he sneezed.

We got to the river, parking just outside the Heinz lofts on the trail side and we got to running. He did so well, even as the trail was heavily congested with runners, bikers and the Sunday strollers. He ignored everyone. Even the guy walking his pittie. And still the lady walking her chihuahua.

But as we were heading back to the jeep, there was a faint rustling in the trees and out of nowhere a goose come charging. That poor goose took one look at Julius and took off, Julius not far behind. I stopped him quickly and laughed because I’ve never heard him whimper or even bark before, but by god, lady, there was a goose! And Julius needed to be friends with that goose. He didn’t bark, but he squeaked for that goose.

I got him back under control and we continued running up the trail, but not a few feet on our jog, did a lady on a bike pass us by asking, “What was he going after?” with a laugh. I told her, “A goose,” and she laughed harder.

Julius.

When we were done running (2 1/2 miles later,) I got his water out and sat down in the gravel next to him. He sat up tall and I put my arm around him. He rested his head on my shoulder.

I told him, “If someone could see us now, you’d have a home for sure.” He just lifted his head and re-rested it on my shoulder, knowingly. Calm.

Our drive home was quiet. Reflecting. He didn’t sniff out the windows. He just rested in the back seat somewhere between sleep and dreams.

When I dropped him back in his kennel, he immediately flopped down on his cot and fell asleep.

Why he’s still at the shelter is beyond me. If someone can just look past his huge amounts of energy, his pittie face and his strong body, somewhere is his perfect home. He just needs time and patience and a friend who loves to run.

Every time I go to the shelter, I hope I never see him again. While I’d love to see him again, away from the shelter, he deserves a home.

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As I walked away I thought, “Maybe tomorrow will be your day. Just maybe.”

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Hey Mae, what did you think of the beach?

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Every day I danced in the waves.

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I got a harmonica and played it for anyone who would listen.

008I know I’ve seen him somewhere before…

084Oh yah!

I’m big!

I tried to give Mama a heart attack.

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I climbed a huge sand mountain! I was so strong!

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It was a really good time! I liked that I could run super fast and kick the waves! And then it would knock me on my butt!

031Bye, beach!

 

 

 

Hey Audrey, what did you think of the beach?

At first I hated it. But then it wasn’t so bad.

 

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But then you put me down and walked away.

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And other people tried to pick me up and that wasn’t okay.

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So as long as you held me…

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I was fine.

 

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Tour de Gyms

Taxes are going to suck to do next year. I have filled out more W-2′s in the past five months than I’ve done in my entire life leading up to this.

A few months ago I sent out my resume to tons of local gyms asking that if they needed a sub for body pump, to contact me. I didn’t expect much from it, but putting my feelers out there gave me a sense of accomplishment.

When I got response after response, I was sort of nervous. How was I going to do this?

Alexander’s is my gym. It will always be my gym, as long as it’ll have me. But the few classes a week I was teaching just wasn’t enough for me. I love to teach, and if I could I would all day, every day. Obviously that isn’t feasible with having all the children and such, but a few extra every now and again would be nice.

I started with a gym in Lower Burrell, about a 15 minute drive from my house. I’m there at least twice a month. There’s another in Sarver that I’m at in clusters, when their regular instructor goes on vacation or has conflicts. There’s the one Matt lovingly calls the “Super Gym” that is a full service gym, which has a spa, indoor/outdoor pool, tennis courts, soccer fields, and every kind of yoga you can imagine. Lastly, there’s a YMCA a few towns over that I was asked to summer coach at for kids.

Most of the times, it always works out that I’m not over booked, but this Saturday for example, I was asked to sub at three different gyms. I can’t do any of it, because I already have plans with my sister. But what are the odds?

I was most upset that I couldn’t do the full time summer coaching at the Y. It was a conflict with daycare. The program runs from 12-2, and daycare only stays open until 1. But today I was able to be a coach the first hour, and it was a blast. I got to heckle some kids, cheer them on, and run around in circles at the gym. It put me in such a great mood.

Today is an exceptionally busy day. I taught my regular pump class at AAC, then headed to the Y. We got home at 1, and at 6:30 I teach spin at the “super gym”.

I’m about to eat a whole bag of kettle cooked chips. (Don’t worry, they’re the TJ’s Reduced Guilt kind. So only sort of bad.)

I have been teaching at the “super gym” as a sub for two months now, and I average two to three classes a week there. It’s fun being a sub, but it’s hard sometimes, because it’s not my class, it’s someone else’s and I’m just a fill in. But now the members are getting used to me, and some even say they look forward to seeing me, so it’s something I really look forward to.

Next week, we leave for vacation, so I sent out an email to the instructors at the “super gym” letting them know I won’t be available and three of them wrote back saying, “That’s too bad, I needed you for xyz day!”

It’s nice to be needed. It’s also kind of nice to be able to say no because I’ll be sitting on a beach all day.

The kids have been super good about it. The older ones love the different gyms. I have to say I love the Y daycare the best. They sat on the floor with the younger girls and played puzzles and actually engaged them. That’s helpful when I left them there nearly two hours.

Basically, I’m a mom, yes, but I’m also doing something I love. The kids need to see mama work. My job isn’t solely to be their slave. They need to see how life works and how hard I work to keep sane, happy, and healthy. If they don’t like to work out, that’s cool. I won’t shame them. But in the meantime, it’s good for them to see that it makes me so very, very happy. They’re along for the ride.

I’m having a great time, and so I try not to think about it too much. I just put it in my calendar and show up where I need to be, when I need to be there.

And I smile all the way.

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Here are a few photos from Mae’s recital and rehearsal:

In full makeup, doing selfies:

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Full make up and full costume. She wouldn’t let me get a normal shot of her because she was too busy taking it all in. It was really fun watching her watch the other performers. You can tell this is something she loves to do.

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The whole crew awaiting their turn on stage. I die from the cute.

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Last, this is her rehearsal version of her dance. She did a MUCH better job at the big day, but I will say she did a fantastic job this day! She’s directly to the left of Miss Kathy.

 

pushing through

I’m a stubborn person. This isn’t news to anyone. I frequently push the envelope because it’s just in my nature. I don’t know really how to go at speed normal.

It’s really not going to change any time soon.

Anyhow, I’m sick. No big deal, just a cold, but when I have ten million things to do, I don’t have time for this nonsense.

Matt’s been sick for a week or something, and I thought at that point I had evaded it. But when Saturday hit, and I looked at my calendar and I had five things scheduled for the day, my throat started to hurt.

Ugh.

Saturday was very busy. I started by running a 5k with Claire. It was her first, and she managed to place second in the 15 and under age group with a time of 32:51. After we got a victory breakfast, then got home, I quick changed and went to the Animal Rescue League. I met my friend, who is piloting a volunteer program called a Dog Jog where we physically jog with the shelter dogs. I had to go over my working orientation by going through the motions and paperwork, and learning how to actually get the dogs in and out of their kennels, because that’s a treat in and of itself.

After that, I quickly got home, changed AGAIN, and brought Claire to her two hour Taekowndo practice for her upcoming demo presentation, this Saturday. Luckily, it was a beautiful day, so the instructors opted to have class outside at the Riverside Park. But as I sat there, I felt the cold settling in my throat, my sinuses, my ears.

When I got home, I sat in my chair and tried to read, but ended up falling asleep for five minutes.

I think Matt laughed at me.

Then I had to get Mae ready and in full makeup for her recital.

It was beautiful. She did such a lovely job. I can’t wait to be able to buy the DVD.

By the time I woke up Sunday I felt awful. But it was Father’s Day, and I’d be damned if a cold was going to ruin the kids’ plans. Claire had written up a menu for him to choose his breakfast off of, and he got to sit in the comfy chair and read Twitter while the kids helped me prepare his chocolate chip pancakes with bananas and honey. Claire boiled the water for tea, Luca mixed the pancake mix and Mae sat there and ate chocolate chips.

After I cleaned up, I got our picnic lunch ready, and we headed off to the West End Overlook for a picnic lunch. Matt and the kids played soccer and I sat in the sun, eating chips.

My body gave me the finger.

We got home a few hours later, and I went straight to bed and took a nap. Feeling somewhat refreshed, I watched the kids throw water balloons at Matt and then he chased them with the hose. We got ice cream at Emerling Ice Cream where Matt got a free cone for Father’s Day, then the kids swam in the neighbor’s pool.

I was still somewhat upright.

Yesterday morning I had to channel my inner bad ass, because on my schedule was two spin classes (one in which I was the substitute) and grocery shopping.

I unceremoniously got through the day, pride intact. I ate delicious chicken enchiladas with guacamole and was very happy when Luca surprised me and ate two. I sat and watched 24 after the kids went to bed, and that’s when it all hit me. My joints ached, my head pounded.

Matt knows me well enough to not lecture me. I’m an adult and I’m going to do what I’m going to do regardless of what people tell me to do. I know I should rest. I know I should relax. I don’t want to, and I won’t. So with the not resting or relaxing, I try to keep my complaining to a minimum. Or at least, I hope I do. While I know I’m super hypocritical at times, I honestly try not to complain when I’m sick.

I woke up this morning feeling just fine. Snotty with a cough, but fine. Personally, I think the spinning helped move it through my system faster. Maybe it’s denial, whatever. I feel fine now. I’m thankful it was short lived, and most of all, I’m thankful I got it and over with before vacation next week.

Silver linings.

 

Treading Water

Many times I have written the honest to god truth about parenting, and this one won’t be any different. In short, it’s hard. Most of the time I feel as if it’s my lifestyle and not a job, because I chose this and I just go from hour to hour, minute to minute of living that life. The story always goes – I don’t get paid, I don’t get time off, and I don’t have a moment to think. Cliche but true.

Most of the days I’m fine. In fact, the majority of the time I really enjoy being a mother. It’s pretty neat to see your kids learn something new or go off into the world without you and come back unscathed and even better off for it.

Most of the days I look forward to our day ahead and lunches and naps and books.

Most days I have pretty interesting conversations and love showing Luca how to write words and Claire how to show her work for math problems. I love watching Mae dance and sing her songs.

But those days haven’t been around for a while, and I’m left with feeling as if I’m constantly treading water.

The kids have been a job lately, and I hate admitting that. I hate to talk about it because it makes me feel completely ungrateful and cold.

I suppose most of all, it’s frustrating when I’m constantly unheard. The days have been alright up until it’s time for bed. I swear each and every one of my kids puts a cotton ball in their ears and scream, “LA LA LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Moreover, Matt does, too.

I like order, I like control. I’ll be the first to proudly admit it that I’m a control freak. I like things a certain way. It may not be in the form of organization, trust me on that one, but I have a system.

What completely irritates me is that every night we do the same thing, yet every night, everyone conveniently forgets. While I get that Matt hasn’t been around the kids all day and likes to take his time to see the kids and talk to them and all that jazz, I’m spent. I tell him every day, “Just please, get them in bed, then you can chat away. Just let me get them into bed.” It’s almost pleading, and it’s sad. But how many different ways can you say, “Brush your teeth, brush your hair, wash your face, go pee”?

How many different ways can you say, “Rinse your plate, THEN put it in the dishwasher?”

How many different ways can you say, “No more talking, it’s time for bed,” before you sound like a complete unloving bitch of a mom?

I guess that’s what it comes down to. I’m tired of feeling like an unloving bitch of a mom.

I don’t have to sit here and explain myself. Anyone who has met my kids knows how much I love them. And while I love them dearly, I realize that loving them simply isn’t enough. They need responsibility, boundaries, discipline. I’m not their friend, nor will I ever be. I don’t want to be, and frankly, they deserve better.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my mother it is that kids will have a million friends. I’m their only mother. I will do friend-like things, such as keep secrets, or teach them about super private, personal things. I’ll share stories about my growing up and I’ll listen. But I won’t cross that line into let’s be friends. I won’t. It’s not fair to the kids.

Parenting for me is an internal struggle. I hear myself say something that I probably shouldn’t, and I tell myself that it was dumb or cruel or hurtful, but I don’t stop. When I say, “What were you thinking? Why would you think that is OK?” or “Are you kidding me? Are you seriously kidding me?” I hear it. I see my kids’ faces changing into a sad combination of “Oh shit” and “Why does she yell” all at the same time. Then, after it’s all over and I calm down (because obviously you see I have a short fuse) I hug them and apologize.

Now here’s the issue that I constantly battle in my head. Should I be more patient or is it good that my kids see me flip out and hear me apologize?

Please don’t paint  picture of me constantly yelling, even though some days I feel like that’s all I’ve done. Keeping four kids in line is a lot of work, and it’s mostly with verbal cues. I’m constantly telling them what to do and how to behave and explaining why something wasn’t a very smart thing to do. I don’t spank, hit, or do anything physical to them. (However, I will smack a hand out of the way of danger or park their butts at an alarming speed in the timeout chair.) So I rely completely on their listening abilities.

Which right now, for the past few months have been awful.

So awful.

Just today, for example, as we were leaving the library, I told the kids not to hit the handicap button for the doors. There were two sets of doors and all three hit the first one like a mad dash, and as I was saying, “DON’T YOU DARE HIT THE NEXT ONE,” Luca did.

I was over it. I parked his butt on the bench outside the library in time out and put the girls in the car and made him sit there. People walked in and out and he had to watch them. While he sat on his hands.

The girls got a mighty nice talking to in the car, and we drove home in silence.

While I know to most, that seems like such a minor offense, trust me, it was like if someone was poking at you with a stick over and over and then all of a sudden the stick snapped, but they didn’t stop poking.

STOP POKING THE BEAR, KIDS. STOP IT.

So I’ve entered into the phase of every little thing is making me lose my ever loving shit. When 7:45 rolls around and the kids are supposed to be getting ready for bed, and Matt’s only been home for 45 minutes, and I’m all, ‘LET’S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD, GUYS! MAMA’S DONE!” and they’re NOT, I’m done. Matt kind of looks at me sympathetically and then gives the kids the face that says, “I know she’s crazy, but you’re not doing a good job of keeping her sane,” and he starts to take over.

But guys, Matt’s slow. He’ll admit it. And it’s so painful. I can get the kids ready for bed, and tucked in in under 10 minutes. For Matt it can take upwards of 30 minutes. I have no idea why. I go to take a shower (because most nights I teach at night and sit through dinner a sweaty, stinky mess,) and when I get out of the shower, they’re all still in the bathroom doing god knows what.

I see Matt’s side to the story. He wants to see the kids. He hardly sees the kids. And I’m fine with that, but JUST GET THEIR BUTTS IN BED then say good night. Or read a book. Or dance or whatever it is he does. When there’s this constant chaos I want to rip my hair out of my head and parade around the cul de sac in my underwear.

Can you tell I’ve lost it?

It’s that constant noise. That constant chatter or buzz or whatever it is that’s always in the air. It’s getting to me.

Another example: every day Luca (and now Claire because she’s out of school) have quiet time. From the hours of 1-3, it is to be quiet and I get my free time to read, write, lay, pass out, whathaveyou. But EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Luca and Claire will come down multiple times to show me something or ask me something or they need a snack. Mind you, they are in their own rooms, so when they come down it’s one at a time, multiple times and I’m left looking like a meanie when I say, “Get your butt back up into your room.” I’ve been nice about it and I’ve been patient. I’ve explained it. It’s like trying to tell the tree outside to stop growing. Or the birds to stop chirping. I’m completely unheard. And when I get mean about it and firm and say, “No, it’s quiet time, you know the rules, show me later,” they look at me with those faces. You know the ones I’m talking about – and they sulk back upstairs like I’m so mean.

Maybe I am.

I’m ranting.

But I know I’m not alone. I can’t be.

I expect a three year old and a 16 month old to have zero listening skills. I expect them to be annoying and I’m prepared for that. But when a six year old and a five year old constantly do their own things and don’t hear me, I get upset. Perhaps I have the bar set too high on expectations, but is it really asking too much to be heard and respected?

I didn’t think so, either.

So now that it’s summer, the kids are back on chores and discipline central. Sorry, not sorry. Things are going to be turning around real quick.

Rant, over.

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