Category Archives: Holy Crap

Vow of Silence

No.  Not the one I apparently took 3 months ago when I stopped writing this blog.

A Vow to embark on a profound, life-altering spiritual journey.  My soul knows no bounds when it comes to stretching beyond its comfort zone into the far off places of ethereal and seldom explored energy.  I’m just that way.  Always have been.

Ever since I delved into the masterpiece, Eat, Pray, Love  (back when I had the time to delve into anything other than “Once Upon a Potty”), I too have wanted to leave my family and all those I hold dear, move to India and go within.  Flee to a world of Silence.  (Of course I would also like to eat my way through Italy first and gain an additional 15 pounds, because quite frankly, this year I am on a roll, but I digress.)

Silence

Silence – Meaning no speaking.

Not. A. Word.

I decided that this simply must be done to clear out the cobwebs that have clouded the nooks and crannies of my ever-so-chatty brain.  And what better time to do it than when one is the caretaker of a two and three-year-old who are not in any camp or school and therefore spend all of their time at home trying to kill one another  playing Candyland, painting, crafting and enjoying many other family activities to enrich the rapidly expanding mind. They don’t need a mother who speaks to them.  They listen to about 5% of what I have to say anyway. It is because of these wholesome practices that they have learned to be quite capable of going off and entertaining themselves in healthy, fruitful and non-violent ways.

So, it begins. Six days of absolute silence…My courageous act of Martyrdom.

Yes. Martyrdom.

Because I believe all shall benefit from the lessons I am about to learn from my walk into the far off depths of Solitude.  While the children spin, yell, fist fight and roll around me, I shall remain untouched.  Quiet.  Stoic.

And I tell you this.  Hear me and hear me well…

This choice has absolutely nothing to do with the two cysts that were sliced off of my vocal cords at New York Presbyterian Hospital while I floated in the abyss of general anesthesia and narcotics this morning.

Nothing.

It has very little to do with the strict Doctor’s orders to refrain from uttering as much as a word, whispered or non.  Nor does it have to do with the threat that I will never sing again should I decide to disregard these orders.

I do this for me.  For my soul.  For my Family.  And really, for the good of

All Human Life Everywhere.

Day one of the journey complete.

Don’t call to thank me.  I can’t answer the phone.

Motherfog Fact-Check – All statements are true and correct.  Except for the hogwosh about a spiritual journey.  Gotta shut-up, peeps.  And this stuff HAS to be documented for my children.  

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Holy Hell. What is happening to my sweet baby boy?

I called my sister and Mother last night in hysterics. One has raised five children, the other is raising six, and both are educators with masters degrees in child development and early education. Naturally, I felt that they should be the first to hear the news that I feel that my son needs a psychiatrist and may be headed toward a future as a psychopath.

OK. So that statement is ludicrous and far from any realm of possibility, but I do feel that we are at a pivotal stage in which our proper handlings of his recent behaviors are monumental in his understanding of what it means to make a loving and positive impact on society as a human being.

Zachary is pushing three and a half and spends one half of the day completely out of control. He seems to have two personas. The one that wakes up in the morning, happy, calm and perfectly lovely – “Mommy, I love you.” “Can I help you with that? I would really like to help today, Mommy” “Isabelle, would you like me to hold your hand?” This child walks with a steady gait and exhibits manners that would earn us a “Parents of the Year” certificate.

Then there is the other, who rips through his clothing and transforms our perfect child into the Incredible Hulk. This horrifying transformation is somewhat predictable, and while we do see glimpses of his green eyes throughout the day, he mostly lies dormant until around 4 pm. He tears through the house singing like a 70-year-old chain smoker in a way that causes polyps to grow on my vocal chords just by listening, tackles his sister to the ground in the name of “play”, grabs toys, barrels into us with a force that has knocked the wind out of us on several occasions, (or, has left my poor husband doubled over in the kitchen for at least ten minutes trying to ease the excruciating pain with happy thoughts that perhaps he is now infertile), and throws us all into a black hole while trying to get out the door to run errands. Dressing him is like trying to shimmy a unitard onto a baby donkey, and reasoning with him is like begging an intoxicated person to stop slurring his speech and bumping into walls.

During these bouts of complete and utterly painful chaos, there is absolutely nothing that works but waiting it out. We have tried time-outs, taking toys away, going into a dark room, away from stimuli and holding him, and deep breathing (the last one is for us). I have even gone as far as to lock Isabelle and I in her room as a way of removing ourselves from this behavior (because I can’t in good conscience lock him in his own room). While that does seem to be the only consequence that actually seems to bother him, it still doesn’t exorcise the demon. He falls asleep exhausted at 8:30, after umpteen “Zachary, you are too smart and wonderful, and have too much to offer the world for us to allow this behavior” talks (all of which go right over his head, of course. He’s three for heaven’s sake), and wakes up in the morning, fresh and lovely again as if his alter ego didn’t have his mother up all night crying the evening prior.

The obvious issue here seems to be that there is a food allergy of sorts. But anyone who has tried to pinpoint a food allergy causing something short of anaphylaxis, knows that this can be a wild goose chase of frustration and confusion. But, we will continue to look into this theory. The other is that he is extremely over-tired. Try as I may to get him to nap, he refuses. If we are in the car at 4:30 or 5:00, he is out within 30 seconds. But, napping this late and going to bed at 10:00 p.m. is not an option. We are strict about bedtimes and covet the post-8:30 hours that are OURS. We are not forfeiting those.

So, while I do encourage thoughts from all of you on this, I also encourage you to read this article that my blessed sister sent to my inbox at 1:00 a.m. This is comfort to anyone in the midst of the “half-years”, or anyone experiencing PTSD from living through them years ago.

http://planningwithkids.com/2009/11/17/characteristics-of-three-and-a-half-year-old-behavior/

This article describes my son to a tee, and gave me much comfort this morning as I read it and thought perhaps he is not going to become a mass murderer after all.

How many months until age four?

*Fact Check- All statements are true and correct….Unfortunately

Who Put the Bop in the Bop Shoo Bop Shoo Trash?

Even with all of our plans before the births of our children – (attachment parenting, on-demand breast-feeding, baby wearing, etc) they both became “Bop Babies”. For all those of you unfamiliar with Motherfog lingo, “Bops” are pacifiers. We don’t know where this name came from, but it’s become such a household name, that we are always confused when people have no idea what we’re talking about.

While we did follow through with all of the aforementioned parenting techniques, bops were thrown into the night-time mix to help pacify in between every two and three-hour breast-feedings.

But, when Zachary was around six months old, we made a steadfast rule that no bops would be allowed outside of the crib (or car if napping). This rule followed suit with baby number two and has been high on the short list of “brilliant parenting decisions” made by the Motherfog child-raisers. We have often praised ourselves for this family law, as so many benefits came from it. Not only were we free from chasing after pacifiers all around town, and being stuck with photos full of plastic-faced cherubs, but its practice encouraged a desire for “crib quiet time”. Both kids welcomed a couple of ten or twenty-minute stretches of daytime solitude in their own beds to steal some precious moments with their bops and a book or two.

However, we recently realized a fatal flaw in our plan. When the pacifier is only allowed in the privacy of the child’s bed, the courage and ambition to go through the agony of taking it away slowly wanes. It sort of becomes a little secret, free from judgmental glances from public onlookers. Unless you find yourself entertaining a playdate in your son’s room and the pacifier is spotted. In which case I have not been above quickly covering up with,

“Isabelle! What are your bops doing in Zachary’s room? Silly girl!”

But, before you know it, you’re looking at your three-year old, all dressed for bed, and he suddenly looks like a college kid dressed up for Halloween in a “Baby” costume with a pacifier hanging out of his mouth.

I happened to google the issue this morning, and was stung by the harsh critics on the web – critics, of course, being other mothers who I am certain are the images of maternal perfection themselves – once you agree to look past the glaring grammatical and spelling errors in their scathing comments.

But, lets move past my hurt feelings from judgments of those whom I have never met. Of course, they only ruffled me because it’s true. I am absolutely certain that Zachary is the only kid in his class that still uses a pacifier at night, but the decision to take it away has never aligned with what feels like the right time and place.

When he turned one, I was five months pregnant, alone with him in Utah, working long hours, and attempting to star in a show. Not the best time…for me.

At 16 months, we brought a new baby sister home. Certainly not the best time.

At two, we were about to move across the country. Definitely not.

Last summer, just before he turned three, we planned to tackle the issue.

He broke his femur.

Need I say more?

So, while at the moment, we seem to be finding ourselves in some modicum of status quo (pardon me while I go ram my head into a two-by-four), it’s time to Seize the Day.

But, if we’re going to do this, why not go hog-wild and make it a bat-shit, bop-breaking bash, and take it from the 22 month old too?

This morning went like this:

Me “Hey, honey? How would you feel about getting no sleep for the next week?”

Husband “Why?”

Me “I think it’s time to ditch the bops”

Husband “Um. OK”

Three minutes later…

“Hey guys! Daddy and I have talked for a long time about this. We’ve decided it’s time to say good-bye to the Bops. You are big enough to sleep without them now and they are going away. It will be hard for a few days and we are here to give lots of hugs and snuggles, but we know you can do it!”

Let the Games Begin!

Blogger’s Note:

A friend has a story she likes to tell about her first encounter with me. Apparently, I was amusing a group of people at a party with a story, got carried away with my own exaggerations, and cut myself off with,

“That’s not true!”

She has never forgotten it. It is true. I do exaggerate. It’s a family trait. But, as I have stated before on this blog, I will always fess up, and usually within the same conversation (or post). So, I’ve decided to add a “FACT CHECK” at the end of posts.

*FACT CHECK

1.)The bops are not in the trash. That would be mean and heart-breaking. For me more than them, I think. They are in a drawer and will perhaps be bronzed like a pair of first baby shoes

2.)That was an exaggeration I will most likely not have them bronzed. That would be very strange, even for me.

Have a click!

He was a duck?

When I was five, friends and family members would often brace themselves for a lovable, yet piercingly resounding greeting. My Aunt Kath tells it best when she recounts numerous tales of her hyper-active and boisterous niece running up to her, placing her nose centimeters from her own and screaming at decibels that could knock the wind out of you,

“HI AUNT KATH!”

So, as fun and entertaining as this little quirk was, my parents simply had to tend to the blatant hearing problem in daughter number four.

Like many children, I hit the operating table for the tubes that would put an end to this endearing trait forever. As far as I know, I do not greet people by yelling in their faces, but it’s hard to say. Do close talkers know they are close talkers? Hmmm.

Leading up to this miraculous life-altering surgery, were many visits to the ENT. Although Dr. King has long since passed, I will never forget him or his office.

There was a book that my mother read to me at every visit. It was about a man who tries to get an ant out of his kitchen with a hammer and destroys his whole house in the process. I remember the last page had a picture of the ant crawling out from the rubble unharmed.

I’ve thought of this book umpteen times throughout my life. The concept, even at five, stuck with me as being an important lesson.

Every project I’ve poured hours into, in an effort to craft each minuscule detail into perfection until I hammer out any recollection of what the project actually was in the first place, has come with a warning bell to the tune if this old story.

“Stop now, before you ruin the whole thing!”

So naturally, I have been searching for this book for about 20 years. No exaggeration. The problem was that neither my mother or I remembered the name of the book.

I googled possible names:

“Crack the Ant”

“Mr. Fix it and the Ant”

“The Ant lives”

“Let the Ant Be”

“Put the hammer down”

Nothing.

My Mother even went into Dr. king’s office for the sole purpose of asking the staff if they still had it.

Just FYI, and I know this is shocking news, but most medical offices replace their waiting room reading material more often than every 20 years.

Each time I’ve gone to a children’s library or book store, it’s become a habit to scan the bindings across the shelves just to see if something jumps out.

Nope.

Yesterday, I was at the library to use their coveted internet to pay bills. (no one can figure out how to fix the damage done to the cable/internet lines on our block during ‘Sandy’) On a whim I walked over to the librarian to have the conversation I’ve had a dozen times with others like her.

“I know this is a long shot, but I’ve been looking for years for a book. If I describe it, would you maybe know what it is?”

“You can give it a shot!”

“Its about a man who destroys his house trying to get rid of an ant.”

After 30 seconds of typing into a database, she said

Henry’s Awful Mistake? By Richard Quackenbush? It’s about a duck.”

“A duck? I don’t remember a duck. Can I see the cover online?”

“Oh my gosh! I think that’s it! The man is a duck?! Do you have the book here?”

“We sure do!”

She walked me back to the aisle and I immediately recognized the first illustration after the title page.

Astounded, I thanked her profusely and told her 17 times that she was my hero and had ended a 20 year search. I checked out the book and read it to the kids in the car on the way home. Zachary has asked for it at least six times since then.

This can only mean one thing. My son is a perfectionist with a freshly implanted warning bell.

Remind me in 30 years to ask him if he remembers the guy being a duck?

Yours Truly,
Relieved that I can now move on with my life…and so can my mother.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did you want that on?

Here’s the power story.

I called PSE&G, New Jersey’s power provider, about eight times yesterday. With my calls, in addition to those from my five neighbors without power, we were surely heard.

We were told repeatedly that power would be restored by 11:59 p.m. last night. At around 10:00 p.m., I made another call to make sure that was still the case.

We have all been “sleeping” in rooms that are 45 degrees. I use quotations because none of us have slept in days. All on our block with no power have small children. I will say with conviction, that an extended power outage is extremely hard no matter what, but with little ones? Forget about it. Crazy sauce in a pot of non-boiling water. There is no ability to make it an adventure by pretending you’re on “Survivor”. By hour three, the novelty has worn off.

This 10:00 p.m. phone call was different than the rest. The woman told me that all seven tickets under my phone number were showing “resolved”. It would seem that the visible air coming from our mouths was a figment of our imagination. I looked at the clock to see if it actually displayed the time, indicating that we just forgot to turn on the lights or heat.

Nope. The issue had most definitely not been “resolved”.

She assured me that we would still be up by midnight, two hours away. This sounded fanciful to me, but for my own heart and soul, I needed to believe her.

We went to bed feeling like it was “Power Eve” and dreamt of men wearing yellow fluorescent vests and hard hats jumping down our chimney with magical power-restoring tools.

At 3:00 a.m., I woke up to the kids crying and cold.

At 7:00 a.m., I made call number nine to PSE&G and could no longer get through to a human. We drove around the neighborhood searching for power company vehicles and found none. Giving up, we got in the car and drove to friends in Philly to borrow their generator.

We pulled into our driveway six hours later, armed with the generator and two full gas tanks. Lo and behold, our yard was scattered with those magical yellow-vested and hard-hatted people.

Apparently, while we were on our generator mission, my next door neighbor also went driving around in search of help. She found some men in PSE&G trucks and asked them to come to our block, but they knew nothing of our area and were not authorized to do anything. She begged for someone in charge, explaining that all of us, herself included have small children. They finally told her to search the neighborhood for a red truck and a guy named Bob. He would have answers.

She actually found this red truck and Bob himself! Although he had strict orders to not leave that area, he took pity on her and followed her car to our houses. Within minutes, he had a whole crew looking for the problem.

Our house lit up before we had the generator out of the car.

What was the problem?

During the snow storm that followed
Sandy, our power was shut off for repairs on another line. When these repairs were complete, they forgot to flip our switch back.

All of us went without power for days because of a switch.

The dozens of phone calls did nothing because they did not consider us a large issue, and according to them, they restored our power after Hurricane Sandy. Which was true. For all of 30 hours.

Although, we still have no internet or cable, and most likely won’t for weeks, I am happy and warm, my children are asleep in their beds without seven sleepers and four blankets, and all is right and cozy in our house and those surrounding it.

The moral of the story?

Look for Bob. He has the answers.

Our SANDY Story

I’m Leaning against a wall in the basement of a nearby church. The kids are running and playing with the preschool’s toys, adults are charging phones and other electronics and we are all warming our toes, decompressing from the chaos. I have no access to live news, but from limited cell service I have heard of the widespread devastation that has occurred throughout the northeast.

This is just our story. I know that many others have experienced worse.  I need to write this to comb through events from the last 48 hours.

Many of you read my poem “Twas The Night Before Sandy“, which I have been tempted to delete from this blog altogether due to the glib nature of it.  I’m choosing to leave it up  to show how unsuspecting we were before the storm hit. I know we were not alone in our assumption that the media was hyping up Sandy’s potential impact. But, I’m glad that we decided to take the encouraged steps to prepare for such impact. We thought we would just return all of the unnecessary survival items.

Monday morning, I ran to the store to grab some last-minute things before shutting our door for what would be a cozy and exciting 24 hours of good old-fashioned family time.

At around 3:00 pm, we saw lights behind our yard from the next block over. The first tree had uprooted, splitting the roof of a house. That was our first clue that we might be in for more than we had anticipated. The storm had not even fully touched down on our coast.  Twenty minutes later, the same house got hit from behind with another oak. Not their day.

 

 

 

 

We moved the toddler bed to the basement, set up a pack n play, and covered the futon with sheets. We still thought we were being overly cautious, but went ahead with “Operation Family Slumber Party”.

 

 

 

 

At around 8:00 pm, the opposite side of our street went black. Our side is on a different township’s power grid and as this happened last year, it was planned for.  During Hurricane Irene, our street made the evening news because of all of the extension cords strung across the street to power dark homes, and we all agreed to be ready to repeat that.

We were upstairs on the front porch, stringing our cord for the neighbors while the kids watched Kipper in the basement. Before we got them up and running, a large branch blew into their car windshield and a gust of wind threw our door open, slamming it against the wall. All went black, rendering our extension  cord useless. Out of luck, folks. So much for being neighborly.

The kids screamed from the floor below and I ran my shin into a chair rushing to grab them. Zachary had somehow made his way to the top of the stairs in the dark and my knees hit his shoulders. I was able to catch him before he tumbled backwards and we both found Isabelle crying by the bed. With one kid on each hip, I felt around for the flashlight.  Thankfully flashlights are thoroughly fascinating to a 3 yr old and 21 month old.  (And, I might add, just as fascinating to a 35-year-old. Those gadgets are handy!)

Within seconds, I heard my husband upstairs.

“Oh my God! Where is my phone?”

Just up the stairs from our underground haven was the back door. Beyond it lay three 50 foot evergreens. One across our garage, one leaning on the next door neighbor’s roof, and the other on the ground in front of us, our power box ripped out of the back of the house, snapped, sparking and flaming, inches from the garage.

 

 

 

 

In a complete panic (and not one that was heroically masked from my children to make them feel safe), I scooped them up, ran out the front door, and over to our neighbor’s on the other side.  The sky was glowing in sparks of grey and white as transformers and power lines exploded.  Branches were ricocheting around us, and trees were moaning, creaking and falling with eerily hollow thuds. I banged on their door as if I was part of an angry mob and tucked the kids’ heads under my chin. Finally they opened the door and we tumbled inside.

Moments later, my husband outside with the fire department, an enormous tree across the street ripped through sidewalk cement and crashed onto the house behind it.

 

 

 

 

My neighbor bounced her 9 month old in the Ergo carrier while her three-year old slept unaware upstairs.  Her husband, an ER doctor, joined mine outside as screams echoed from down the street.  She took over for me, keeping my kids calm while I went to get our dogs.

I ran around our house, fetching whatever I could for the night, thankful for the emergency vehicle lights blinking and lighting up every room. The crate, the dogs and the iPad. That’s it.

Returning to my children, I paced with my neighbor as we waited for our husbands to return. With every wind gust, wood moaned and we braced ourselves. Normally one would think the odds of a tree falling on your house are quite low, but this night it seemed those odds were flipped.

Her husband returned.

“Where is my husband?”

He answered too slowly, eyes glazed from his recent tour on the set of Armageddon.

“See that tree that just fell?  It just….”

“Where is my husband?!”

“Oh. Sorry. He’s right behind me.”

“Ok. Now what about the tree?”

“That whole roof is gone.”

“What did the fire department say?”

“They left.  They can’t put the fire out because the wire is live. They said to go back home, keep constant watch and call if it catches the garage.”

Lovely.

We collected our babies, furry and human, and thanked our neighbors for the shelter. We felt safer in the basement of our own home anyway. Other than the pesky little fire right behind it, it was the safest place, a fortress from falling trees.

The winds raged outside while we each held a kid and in unison, sung them to sleep, glancing repeatedly at the staircase, looking for shadows of spreading flames across the banister.

Once they were tucked in their beds, we stood upstairs and watched as the wire flared and went dark with every gust and drop of rain.  It wasn’t spreading, but wasn’t stopping.  Sleep was not an option.

At 2 am, It was my husband who remembered the propane tank from our grill, stored in the garage for safety purposes, now sitting three feet from the ignited wire.

I called 911 again and informed them of the potential explosive, and they sent the fire department back.

While we waited, I fumbled around our house with a candle, packing a suitcase with random things. Birth certificates, passports, photo albums, and baby books – No clothes or material things.  As I set the suitcase by the door, the fire department pulled up a second time.

They climbed through the downed evergreen and into the leaning garage, returning with the tank.

“Here ya go. You still have a gas tank and a lawn mower in there, so you’re not in the clear, but if this makes you feel better…”

“Wonderful. I do feel better.  So much better.  Thank you.”

“Look. If the garage catches on fire, it’s far enough away from you, it will most likely burn to the ground. It’s ruined anyway. Just let it burn.”

Recently moving from Southern California where you could sneeze at a match and set a hundred acres ablaze, they had to explain to me the difference in foliage.

I still wasn’t convinced. The response most of us got that evening was to stay put even in unsafe conditions.  The alternative of venturing out held more danger than unstable homes or ignited electrical lines, but we were far from safe.

By midnight, all was dark and quiet. Sandy’s wingspan still stretched for miles across our county but with much less strength and ferocity.  Candles burned out down our block while people tried to sleep  – many under cracked and leaking roofs.  We stood at the top of our basement stairs and watched the flames glow in our yard until the dawn brought all of us out of hiding.

We congregated in  the street, surveying the damage and offering assistance in any way we could. Those that still had power brought out hot coffee and offered warm living rooms, food, and a place for kids to play.

Orange cords are zig zagged across the street and through debris as single houses power as many appliances in nearby homes as they can.

Halloween was rescheduled in the state of New Jersey, but we joined together on a front lawn for a costume party for the dozen or so children that live on our block.

 

 

 

 

People we have passed by several times with merely a nod have become our friends and now feel like family.

Most of our town is without power until at least the 9th of November but we are safe, and surrounded by amazing humans.  Other than a heater and some major attention to the climate change issue, who can ask for anything more?

‘Twas The Night Before SANDY

The trains have all stopped.
In our houses we wait.
The Mayors have spoken:
“Emergency State”

We’ve bought some soup cans,
And crackers and such
We’ve stocked up on wine
Perhaps just too much.

We’ve diapers galore
And wipes by the case
If your heinie is dirty,
Then you know the place.

We’ve rolled up the rugs
On the basement floor,
In case of a flood,
When the rain starts to pour.

We’re told of these pumps
That drain water on cue.
But our knowledge of sumps
Is much less than of poo.

There is a hole in the floor
With a cord just above.
I guess that could be
This pump people love?

It might just be wise
To remove all the clutter
Stacked up six feet high
On top of that gutter.

If you’re watching the news,
You know that we’re headed
Straight for the apocalypse
Our Mayans have dreaded.

So what if it’s not yet
December twenty-one?
That error is slight
In the work that they’ve  done.

The kids are in bed,
Asleep in their nooks.
The candles are lit.
We’re reading our own books.

Now that was a lie.
There was no better rhyme.
We haven’t read books
Since 2009!

The TV is on.
The power remains.
We’ll soak up what we can
Till Sandy stakes claim.

To all of you others out there hunkered down,
May you stay warm and safe
When she reaches your ground.

P.S.
May this poem seem just as silly in three days.  Be safe Northeasterners…