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Friday, May 28, 2010

Me?... Guest Blogging??

I was all kinds of famous today and I totally forgot to mention it. What can I say? I can't keep up with things here. Life is really kicking my butt lately!

Anyway, you can catch more of my witty, pithy storytelling at Coloring Outside The Line. The Crayon Wrangler asked ME to guest blog for her this week, and after I picked up my jaw off the floor and verified that she was neither drinking nor on a controlled substance, I was happy to oblige. Check out my post by clicking HERE!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jus Chewin The Fat

This is a little bit of randomness just to clear the ole pipes of my mind. So much and a whole lot of nothing going on lately. Joe is a working madman. The kids are being their crazy, adorable, maddening selves, and I am skating by dangling by a precarious, slippery, fraying thread at times, but still holdin' on.

I was totally and utterly overwhelmed and warmed by all of the wonderful comments on my last post. Really, thank you all so much! I heart you all!

Now, for an abrupt change of subjects...

Do you ever have one of those moments where, in the course of your day, you feel like, "I got this. This being a mom gig. I got this down." I did yesterday. I don't even know why. I guess cuz the day was going by relatively smoothly and no major mishaps occurred. I found myself flipping my perfectly browned grilled cheese sandwiches and thinking, "I'm the sh*t. I got this."



NOTE TO SELF: The next time I feel even the slightest hint of that superiority complex, I need to beat myself in the head with a frying pan because placing myself up on that pedestal only opens myself up for a harder, further fall. And it was only mere seconds later that it happened. It was that horrible Linda Blair again. I hate that B. She just takes over my head and makes me act all kinds of crazy--and she comes from out of nowhere! I'm blaming it on the pregnancy hormones despite the fact that this has been going on since long before the pregnancy.

Another abrupt change of subject...

I heard 2 separate stories on the news last night about girls in my area being kidnapped/running away with people they met online on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. One girl was 14 and the other 17. WTH? The 14 year old was taken by a man from my area when he drove hours out of his way to meet her, brought her back to his house. Raped her. Wouldn't feed her, kept her against her will for a day and a half and then drove her all the way back home.

The second girl, the 17 year old, told her dad she was going to a girlfriend's house for the weekend. She never came home, so her dad went to her school on Monday to see if she showed up at school--which she didn't--and then received an alarming text from her (the news didn't release what the text actualy said.) As you may have guessed, this girl didn't go to her girlfriend's house at all. Her Facebook page said she was with a "friend" who was male. Soooooo, she obviously lied to her dad and now is God knows where with God knows who.

This is a wake up call for me. I so hope to build that kind of relationship with my kids where they feel they can tell me anything.

What do you think about social netwroking sites and teens? Is there a fault or someone to "blame"? The parents? The kids? The social netwroking sites? I'm interested to hear others' thoughts.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How NOT To React To Someone's News

Over the past 32 years, I have learned a thing or two about when someone shares news. Whether it's good news, bad news, exciting news, or "I couldn't give 2 craps less" news, there are some universal rules (in my esteemed opinion) that one should follow upon hearing said news.

I've gleaned this insight from years of reacting HORRIBLY to things that 1)I didn't agree with, 2) didn't find exciting or to be *good news*, and 3) thinking I was saying the right things only to realize later I wasn't. Allow me to share this invaluable insight with you all...

*When someone tells you something that you are sure is a big announcement to them, your only response should be "Wow! Congrats! How do you feel about [the news]?"

Period.


Now, you KNOW those other girls aren't happy that they didn't win, but look how they put on a happy face as if to say they are...They could be an inspiration to us all.

Please do not respond in the same ways that I myself have or in ways that others have responded to me:

*Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. Um, wow.
*Really?
*You're crazy!
*Oh boy, I'm sorry---a response NOT to be given when someone excitedly announces they are pregnant or some other wonderful (to them) news.
*Well, that's just great. (dripping with sarcasm.)

I have learned that even if I don't think something is particulary exciting or would be considered good news by me, the person making the announcement obviously feels it is a happy thing. My job, then, becomes to wish them well and zip my lip. I only have to listen from there on out...

Some people react so negatively because they wouldn't be happy to be in the same position. My response to them: So what? We aren't talking about you.

I find this to be the case when announcing a pregnancy. For those with more than 2 children, the reaction from family and friends upon hearing that more children are on the way is often less than positive. I had someone tell me yesterday that his mother told his wife and him that if they had more than 2 children, she wouldn't babysit for them anymore. I think that's ridiculous. It wasn't a matter of the woman's health, it was simply stated in a matter of fact, "I think 2 is enough" way.

When and why did we decide that we should measure someone else's level of happiness by what we would be happy with?

Just because you don't want to move or get a promotion or have a[nother] baby doesn't mean we shouldn't at least act happy for those who are.

So, having said that and making you wait through that preamble (you are still here, right?) I'm going to get on with it.

Most of the people in my inner circle now know that my whole blog will be changing soon. That header image I paid for at the top of the page? Obsolete. My Twitter name (MandyPMommyof4)? No longer accurate. The 'byline' for my blog (Wife to 1 and mom to 4 all under the age of 5. Lovin' life and laughin' at the craziness of it all"? Have to re-do. Have you figured it out yet?

This past Mother's Day, I found myself in a dirty McDonlad's public restroom holding a stick I just peed on-- and it had not 1 but 2 pink lines. We all know what THAT means, right? MandyPMommyof4 just turned into MandyPMommyof5! (Don't ask why I was in a McDonald's restroom. Long story...)

That still sends me into shock. (Notice I haven't been able to bring myself to say the word 'pregnant'  yet...well, until just now.)

My "favorite" reactions from others so far:

*"The Catholic Diocese is going to call you guys and personally thank you"
*One of you needs to get something stitched up"
*"I'm so glad you're having so many children since I'm not having any"
*"I guess you two haven't figured out what causes it yet"
*"Guess Joe doesn't work that much"
*"OMG You're crazy!"
*"Okay, 'Michelle Duggar'"
*"Are you guys trying to get your own show on TLC?"
*"Hope it's born in 2010 so you get the tax write-off"

And there were plenty of positive, sincere congratulations too. Our single neighbor across the street almost exploded. He likes to say things like, "You got all them damn kids."

My absolute favorite response? The only one that I think is truly accurate? From my mother-in-law:
She said, "It's none of my business how many children you have. That's between you, your husband, and God. I have room in my heart for 100 grandchildren." And the truth shall set you free. Gotta love that Sal!

My mom was also thrilled. I think most of our friends and family have kind of been waiting for the announcement (although we honestly had NO idea it was forthcoming.) Seems we make the "pregnancy announcement" about this time each year.

So, please send prayers our way. While it will make for great blog fodder, it's also sure to be stressful.

*Images compliments of Google images.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mother Of The Year...Um, Hardly

It has been CRAZY here lately. Just insane.

We've had some MAJOR news that has seriously rocked our world (more to follow about that later) and Joe has been working like a madman. We're talking 6 days, 12-14 hours a day. No fun.

Today I trekked to church. With the kids. By myself.
That it itself isn't really a huge deal. I take them by myself all the time. The surprise was when we arrived early. That's right....early. (For those who know me well, you know what a monumental task that is.)

We waltzed into church, head held high, rather than my usual frantic pushing the stroller at warp speed with kids holding on for dear life and tripping over the wheels.

I breezed the kids to their classrooms, took a phone call, and even hung a Macaroni Kid sign up sheet on the nursery bulletin board before making my way to church.

Afterward, I gathered the kids. Tried to visit with several people that I only get to see about once a week, but to no avail. The kids were like convicts on parole. They were wrestling in the aisle, getting fingers pinched in doors, blocking traffic, and being overall nuisances--you know, acting their ages.

I loaded them all in the car, made sure they were all buckled and then set off for home. It all went so smoothly, I couldn't believe it.

Once we arrived at home and I got everyone inside and started preparing lunch, it was a different story. It was like someone flipped a switch. My switch.

I swear I channeled Linda Blair and my head spun around. I yelled right in R's face when he wouldn't stop tantruming over something ridiculous (Oh the irony, right?) I threatened to spank L because he got out of bed to poop. (Really? Since when do we need permission to answer the call of nature?) and nearly vomitted pea soup over the phone when Joe told me his schedule is only going to get worse this week (Is that even freakin possible?--the schedule thing, not the pea soup.)

Then, to top it off, as I was giving R a diatribe about how throwing a tantrum and acting so ridiculous was, well, ridiculous, I noticed that I could see right up the leg of his shorts...where he obviously wasn't wearing underpants. Then it dawned on me that I had told him this morning that I would get him a clean pair from the laundry room--and apparently forgot to. I hadn't noticed until that moment. I hope his teachers hadn't either.

That was my dose of humility.

So, how was your day?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Help From My Bloggy Friends?

Hello all! I am coming to you today unabashedly asking begging for your help.

I signed on to be a Macaroni Kid Publishing Mom last month and I am SO glad I did.

I get to be a part of an awesome community of [mostly] moms who help one another out and enjoy writing.

What is a Macaroni Kid Publishing Mom (PM), you ask?

Well.....I search for, compile, and categorize the family-friendly events in my particular area. That way other families don't have to search high and low like I am.

Then, I send all of this info out in a weekly email newsletter to my subscribers.

The cool part--I get to do a lot of my own writing too. I get to write articles about stuff that interests me and what I think will interest other moms/families too.

There is ad space available in my newsletter as well. The beauty? I get to set the prices and keep every penny! $$$

I can also barter for services such as discounted or FREE classes for my kids at various places. For website/blog badges or printing stuff like flyers or business cards in exchange for ad space. It's really left to my discretion.

And. I. Am. SO. Excited!!!

So, what do I need your help with???

I need subscribers!!!!!!!!!

The more subscribers, the more attractive I am to advertisers.

And, yes, it is a "LOCAL" newsletter, but the articles and recipes are universal. I try to focus on things that affect us all as parents regardles of where we live. Things like car seat safety, raising daughters of integrity with strong moral character, stress, etc.

So...here's where you all come in. If you are interested in reading more of what I have to say (and who isn't , really, right? Ha! Ha!) simply CLICK HERE to subscribe to my weekely e-newlsetter. It's FREE. All I need is your email.

And if you help me out by subscribing...hugs all around! =)

Wanna find out more about becoming a PM? Then CLICK HERE.

Wanna see what the newsletter looks like (and see one of my bloggy BFF's who is spotlighted in the first article? Then CLICK HERE!

And, thank you!!!! I so appreciate you all helping make it possible for me to stay home with my babies and still contribute financially.

And my babies thank you too.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Caillou Is Dead

Google Images
If you have a preschooler in your house (or had one in the recent past) you know who Caillou is (Pronounced Kye-oo). You also know that Caillou is a cartoon favorite on Sprout TV.

My kids watch this show ad nauseum. E can be unseen and unheard from for as long as an hour while her fave Caillou episodes are on.

I got curious, so I googled the actor who does the voice of Caillou. To my complete and utter horror, I learned that the actress, Jaclyn Linetsky, who voiced Caillou died in a car accident in 2003.

I don't know why, but it's staying with me. Caillou is like a part of our family (we love that bald little guy!) and so learning of his (sorta) death is sad.

If you're ever bored (and what mom is, really?) Google some other kid show voices.

My kids used to watch Big, Big World on PBS. The voice of Snook always made my husband and I picture a long-haired guy smoking a bong. Here's what I found when I Googled him:


Peter Linz of Big Big World

I certainly don't want to draw unfounded conclusions, but it doesn't look like we were far off.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Like CREAMED corn? CREAM of wheat?

My little R is getting so big. He just turned 5 and tomorrow we take him for his "readiness" testing for kindergarten.

Pardon my sobbing, I'm just not ready for this monumental life change just yet.

I worry that he's ready, that he's mature enough.

Things like what he told me in the car the other day worry me...but moms of boys probably know exactly what I'm talking about...

I caught R doing a quick swipe and bite movement that involved his index finger, his nose, and his mouth. I'll allow you to draw whatever conclusions you'd like.

I said, "Ew, don't do that, it's gross!" And he said, "But I like them..."

I replied, "You LIKE them? Why?!"

And...are you ready for this?...he said, "Because they're creamy."

Could that be any more disgusting?

I'm packing that one away for the first date or the first prom, etc.

I will also NO LONGER be offended when he prefers to kiss me on the cheek over the lips.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My Casual Brush With Death

I was looking out the window the other day (you know, when you get caught in a vacant stare for a second) and I had a random thought pass through my mind.

When I was a junior in high school I had a young guy (probably late teens) come to my friend's house collecting donations for something. I think he was selling sub sandwiches. I chatted with him in the living room while we waited for the check to be written. His name was Shawn. I can't remember his last name. And for some reason it was taking a looooong time for that darn check to be written. I apologized that he had to wait so long, and he said...and I will never forget this..."No problem. I got all the time in the world."

Finally, he got his money and went on his way.

Then, about a week later I heard that he had been killed in a car accident. And what he'd said came back to haunt me. He didn't have all the time in the world. In fact, he'd only had about 7 days. He was so young. Did he get to do the things he'd wanted to do in life? Did he get to say goodbye to his family? How does someone in their teens/early twenties possibly prepare to say goodbye to people they've really just only met?

It's stayed with me for over 15 years.

And then, a few years ago, I helped organize a "community day" that involved having the local fire department on hand to give tours of their fire truck. Three firefighters were there that day. Two were seasoned and one was a rookie. He was young (and good looking! Sorry, honey!). I got to talk with all three of them and get to know them a little.

And then a couple of months later I found out the rookie firefighter had died in a fire.

It bothered me. I had just talked to him. Again, just like with Shawn, I had communicated with him and he was so ALIVE. So young. So full of life and possibilities. And it ended in a moment.

Maybe I'm just hitting that age where I fully realize my own mortality. Especially with having kids who I know depend on me. But these stories are haunting to me, for whatever reason. It's not like I didn't know others who died, but they were so young, and the circumstances were so unexpected.

It just makes me realize that time really is fleeting; our lives really are a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things. I don't write this to be a kill-joy, but to really hold onto every moment that we have. Because we aren't guaranteed another.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I Need Your Help

I know that Mother's Day is supposed to be about honoring our mothers and all that they have done for us, but I'm posting about something different.

Do you remember when I told you about a mom who had cancer and she had children that she might not see grow up, graduate, get married, have babies?? Well, I learned about that family from Supah Mommy. She's am AMAZING person that I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the past few months. She's super cool. funny, smart, quite the entrepreneur, and she has the biggest heart of anyone I know.

Now, here comes the hard part. Get a Kleenex.

There's another family on her blog tonight. My heart broke just reading the story. There's a precious 16 month old little girl who will melt your heart with one glance at her photo. She was just diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. It's  the same hateful, merciless disease that little Jaden Duttine (who lives in my neighborhood) was diagnosed with and fights so courageously every day.


Did you get that Kleenex. Have it handy, cuz here she is:







Isn't she gorgeous? They call her "Monkey." Did you gasp when you saw her precious little face? She has NO IDEA what she is about to go through. I am a wreck as I type this, and I don't even know her personally. It doesn't matter. I know what it's like to hold my baby and want so fiercely to protect them from anything and everything.

And so do her parents. Only they can't protect her from this.

Not only will they be ravaged in the wake of this disease being introduced into their lives, but their whole world as they know it is about to be turned upside down (more than it has already.) Treatment is not cheap. Every penny they have should and will be put into fighting this disease so that they get one more day with their princess. Won't you please help them?

If you are anything like me, when you read these stories, you just want to click on to the next page and forget the bad stuff. "I don't have any money" "I have issues of my own" "What difference could my donation possibly make?"

Let me tell you-it could mean 24 more hours her parents get to hold her. Kiss her little cheeks. Tuck her in at night. Feel her little hand touch their face.

Pleaase go to Supah's site and read the story there. CLICK HERE.

Please pray. It doesn't matter that we don't know their real name or where they live.
God does.
Please pray.
I will be.

Mother's Day Musings

Mother's Day is this Sunday. Tell me, moms, now that you have a little one (or a brood, as in my case) what are some words of wisdom or gems of knowledge you've picked up over the days, months, and years of being a mom?

I'll tell you what I learned.

Probably the single-most important piece of advice I could give a new mom would be....lighten up!

Of course that's SO much easier said than done.

My friends and family can tell you that I was a pain in the you-know-what with my first. You almost can't help it. Suddenly (and it doesn't matter that you get 40 weeks to "prepare") you are entrusted with this tiny, fragile, wiggly, demanding, little human being. Their every need is in your hands. They rely totally and completely on YOU.  That's daunting. And you instantly love them, so you WANT to take the very best care of them.

You read every book, magazine article, and message board you can find. You compare your baby to others to see how they measure up as far as length, weight, head size, abilities, etc. You worry day and night that you are taking care of them properly. You actually sterilize their bottles, use that "nursery water" and never re-use a jar of food that you double-dipped out of. You want to do it right.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, there are so many other parents who could stand to take a few pointers from that new mom.

But, something invaluable that I've learned (and actually am still learning) is that all moms do it differently. While there are some core issues that remain the same (feeding, clothing, changing, loving) there are different ways of going about it. We will not always agree with each other on the methods we choose, but that's not the important thing. The important thing is that we respect the others' way of doing it, even if, inwardly, we roll our eyes and think, "Oh brother."

To be fair, I certainly don't have it all together yet, (and probably never will enitirely) but I'm trying to get better. I'm still struggling with sending R off to kindergarten. I don't wanna do it. Period. I'm not ready. Some moms-those who have already surpassed this milestone- probably roll their eyes at me and think I'm ridiculous. And that's okay. Because I'm the only one who has to answer for how I choose to raise my son.

MckMama said it best when she said that we moms are all just figuring this out as we go. We need to stop judging each other and start supporting each other-even when our methods are different--and seemingly unnecessary-- sometimes.

Happy Mother's Day to you all. I hope you have a wonderful, restful day with your family and enjoy every minute of it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Marathons, Umbrellas and Bombs...Oh My!

It's over. And we all survived it.

I say that both jokingly and in seriousness.

Joe finished the 2010 Pittsburgh Marathon with a time of 4:30! (It's a wee bit longer than last year [4:05], but with less training and a constant drizzle, we're thrilled!)

So my fears of his collapsing and having a trained team of medical professionals franticaly seraching for me through the crowds was all for naught. The day wasn't without stresses and scares, however.

Let's start with the 5 AM wake up call I got to get everything ready to be downtown by 6:30 AM. Did I mention I'm not a morning person?

The night before I had packed enough drinks and snacks to feed a small army for a week and got the diaper bag ready with diapers and changes of clothes (E's like a sieve and pees through her clothes EVERYWHERE we go!)

I still had school work to do so I was up until 2 doing that.

We got everyone up and out the door (aided immensely by sleeping the kids in their clothes so we didn't have to wrestle with sleepy ones to get them dressed.

I laid everyone's coats over the banister and said, "Don't forget these!" to myself. Well, wouldn't you know it, I forgot them. That pleased Joe to no end when we got about a mile away and had to turn back for the coats (and BOY am I glad we did since it poured ALL day!)

Joe and I have this "thing" where we spend the morning of a race (especially a big daddy race like a marathon) anxious and hateful toward one another. We exchange angry barbs and there's lots of eye rolls and exasperated sighs. By the end of it, though when I see him cross the finish, it's always forgotten.

So the highlights of the event:

*It rained constantly
*We had to park 5 million miles away so I couldn't take the kids back to nap like last year
*It was almost impossible to navigate the strollers easily anywhere (with 16,000 runners, it was PACKED with spectators)
*With all the rain came LOTS of umbrellas--umbrellas that dripped water on us while we stood under a bridge to keep dry and umbrellas that poked us in the head and the face as they passed by.) <--didn't mean to make that rhyme!
*E indeed peed through and I had to change her standing up-in a crowd-but luckily no one noticed because there were so many people.
*THERE WAS A BOMB SCARE! Apparently, a microwave with an "alarming device inside" was found close to the finish, so the military and the police diverted the race course. That meant that the prime locale we had secured to watch Joe cross the finish was all the sudden not even on the darn course! CLICK HERE for a cool slideshow of the whole dramatic process.


There's what's left of the offending microwave after the bomb robot blew that sucker up.
*Image found at KDKA.com

People SWARMED where we were standing to cut between the barriers and cross the street. That meant M and I got penned in (with M in his stroller) and my sister-in-law Leanne and I were separated from our kids for a few terrifying minutes (they were on one side of the barriers and we were on the other. With a mass of strangers separating us. Talk about a heart attack. I couldn't break free from the herd of people pressing me and M up against the barriers to get to them and Leanne couldn't either. We almost got into a throw down with some people, but it makes for good stories later, right? And the kids are FINE BTW. They had no idea what was even happening.

M was SOOOO good all day. He smiled like this through everything!

*We were chatting away when we heard the explosion from the bomb squad blowing up the toxic microwave. and I yelled out to my Lord. Granted, it was more out of being startled than in prayer--and I regret that--it was just a reaction. The crowd fell silent for a second. But wouldn't you know the MC didn't miss a beat?!

*We waited agonizing minutes until we FINALLY spotted Joe. There were some false alarms where we saw people that looked like him. I broke into a cheer and started jumping up and down...all to realize it was someone else. Oh well, that guy probably felt pretty special for a few minutes. =)

*I got to meet a local celebrity: Alison Morris from KDKA. She was SUPER nice and accommodated a picture with me and some of the kids. (Notice L on the far right...he did NOT want his picture taken!)


Could Alison & I be any further apart? Ha Ha!


*Joe crossed the finish and we were all so filled with emotion. You would have thought he was returning from the war the way we all teared up and cheered. What an awesome experience for him and us!


He was so quick all we caught was his ear...you can tell he's smiling though!

I want to run next year. Not the full marathon...let's not get carried away! I think the relay or the half. We'll see...

This is my man. So proud of him! xoxoxo


Joe with our kids and the nieces and nephew.
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