Mother’s Day Uncensored (or Stepping In It with Style)

FB_IMG_1494796346870Mother’s Day is bouquets of fresh flowers, the pitter-patter of little feet running through the house while Mama half-dozes, giggling outside the bedroom door, handmade cards, a mocha coffee delivered bedside, and a bagel brunch on the back deck with thoughtful gifts and sweet words. It’s lovely and divine.

But this year, I discovered the night before could also dish up its own spot-on, hilarious tribute to motherhood:

We were sitting around the table picking at the last bits of Chinese takeout, when my husband and I heard a small but persistent voice from the bathroom.

“I’m duh-uhn!”

“Just a sec, honey…” I said, as we continued chatting about our plans for the week ahead.

“A little help here?” the voice called out again.

And then, “Mama?

Finally, taking the hint, I joined my 4-year old throne-side.

“Um, I had a little accident, Mama… sorry.”

I looked down and saw his Super Mario briefs lying on the floor—looking remarkably accident-free.

“No problem, Sweetie,” I said, scrunching a handful of toilet paper into my palm so I could help him.

“You know what, Mama? I saved Lego bag number 3 so you could help me tonight since Papa already got to help me… and tomorrow, you can give me a bath because it’s gonna be Mother’s Day and usually Papa does that…  so tomorrow will be special.”

I smiled at his concept of Mother’s Day. As I wiped him, he continued to chirp away, using a tone most women reserve for the nail salon. “And I’m working on a secret art project but I can’t tell you about it,” he said, “because it’s a surprise and…”

I thought back to earlier in the day and my older son’s sad eyes when he heard that Mama wouldn’t be at his baseball game. My husband explained that I was going to take the afternoon off and go shopping, as an early Mother’s Day present. But one look at that face and I changed my plans.

“I’ll join you at the park,” I’d told him.

As it turned out, I never had to leave. En route to the park, his tummy started hurting. With vomit an imminent possibility, my husband quickly drove him home to be under the watchful eye of Mama.

20170514_123542“Mateo!” my husband called from the kitchen, rousing me from my reverie. “Don’t tell Mama everything.”

“I’m not, Papa,” he shouted back.

“I have a special, surprise Lego project,” he flashed his little imp smile. “That’s what I mean,” and continued his beauty shop banter.

“Ok, that’s it,” I said. “Time to flush and wash your hands, mon cheri,” and I stepped away to wash my own.

But as my foot came down, it suddenly slid in the opposite direction.

A delicate stripe of brown “mud” streaked across the floor.

Except. It. Wasn’t. Mud.

I managed to keep it together while reaching for the Lysol wipes.

“Sorry, Mama.”

“It’s OK honey, I’ll just clean that up.”

As I wiped the floor and cleaned out the grooves in the treads of my slipper, I heard the water running in the background.

“Here, Mama! I’ll help you, ” he said, holding a sopping wet hand towel—my favorite—in his little hands.

I couldn’t help laughing as I looked around. And that night as I snuggled on the couch with my boys and we watched the opening scenes of E.T. together, a favorite movie from my own childhood, I thought how lucky I am to have them.

When Mateo climbed out of bed long after he should have already been asleep because he was scared and wanted a hug, I thought how wonderful it is to be needed and loved and entertained by these little boys every day of the year.

This is motherhood. And though it can be exhausting and frustrating, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 

What a “romantic weekend” with kids really looks like…

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Whether you’re in a couple or living the single life, Valentine’s Day rarely lives up to the hype. But the next time you’re feeling bad, just remember it could be worse: you could be spending your romantic weekend with two kids under the age of five. Here’s a play by play of our holiday weekend…

5 pm – Finally packed and leaving for Atlanta! So excited.

5:15 pm – Oh, crap. Stuck in traffic. Just realized we left both boys’ winter coats at home.

5:20 pm – Decide to keep going. We’ll pick up some cheap coats somewhere en route. Yea, we’re on our way!

5:35 pm – Five year old asks: Are we there yet?

5:39 pm – Two year old asks: Are we there yet?

6 pm – Traffic is finally moving. Thank goodness. Hoping we can make it to the halfway point for dinner.

6:45 pm – 40 more miles to the HALF-WAY point? Oh, my God. No way the kids can hold out that long.

6:55 pm – We each sling a kid over our shoulder and run inside restaurant – it’s freezing outside.

7:15 pm – Two year old insists we all hold hands around the table because he’s on a new “let’s say a prayer” kick. Trying not to giggle. We probably fit right in at this BBQ joint…

7:40 pm – Emergency stop at closest store to get coats for kids.

7:55 pm – Mission accomplished. Kids now wearing only two winter coats still available at Walmart. Design comes courtesy of Duck Dynasty and Kenny from SouthPark.

8:15 pm – Kids are thirsty — quick stop at service station to buy water and some gas.

8:20 pm – On the road again and it’s my turn to drive! Groovin’ to some country station we just found on radio. Man, I love road trips!

8:25 pm – Hmmm, that’s weird. Gas tank is almost on empty.

8:26 pm – Realize we forgot to pump the gas we just paid for.

8:46 pm – Tell kids to share the iPad and play a game together.

8:49 pm – Hear screaming from the backseat and repeated chants of “it’s not fair” coming from the two year old.

8:52 pm – Both kids now playing games on separate iPads.

11 pm – Woohoo! We made it to the hotel!

11:15 pm – Lose bet, so I’ll be sharing bed with the two year old.

11:52 pm – Husband and five year old asleep. Two year old and I are watching the final round of Chopped: Canadian Edition.

11:58 pm – Two year old outraged. He’s crying because I turned off the TV before Chopped champion revealed.

12:45 am – Whose foot is in my face?

2:30 am – Grab two year old, who is about to roll off bed.

4: 22 am – How can someone so small take up entire middle section of mattress?

5:35 am – Trying to pull some covers over to my side. I’m freezing!

6:48 am – Two year old is up and raring to go. I pretend to be asleep while hubby turns on Cartoon Network.

9:30 am – After kids sample every single breakfast buffet item at hotel, we head out to explore the city. Boys are hyped up from syrup and promise of a morning visit to indoor Legoland theme park.

10:45 am – We’re at Legoland. Kids are so happy!

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11:15 am – This is fun! Whole family on interactive ride where you “shoot” lego bad guys with laser gun.

11:16 am – Five year old sobbing. He thought those Lego skeletons were real.

11:50 am – Ordering lunch and two year old lies down in front of cash register. Has to be forcefully peeled from floor and bribed with Lego car from exhibit.

12:15 pm – Finally a break while the boys and hubby go watch a 4D movie. Ahh. This is nice! The carousel music behind me sounds so cheerful!

12:45 pm – If I have to hear that twinkling melody one more minute, I am seriously going to lose it!

1:15 pm – Kids loved the film. Chattering on about the cool special effects. We’re off to World of Coca Cola for some effervescent fun.

2 pm – This is ridiculous… Keep circling, trying to find a parking space!

2:20 pm – Hubby sprints through Olympic Park with five year old who’s doing the pee-pee dance.

2:45 pm – Two year old happily babbling about the Coca Cola Polar Bear that he can’t wait to meet inside.

2:57 pm – Two year old screaming. Totally freaked out by bear.

3:10 pm – Race through exhibit on History of Coke to try to catch up with family.

3:15 pm – Discover they exited at the beginning because two year old still crying about polar bear. Resident Coke “happy patrol” cheers him up by blowing bubbles and telling him there will soon be games to play.

3:28 pm – Where are the damn games??

3:35 pm – Ooh! 4D Movie. This is going to be great. Kids will love it!

3:42 pm – Wow, these seats sure move around a lot… getting a bit bumpy.

3:44 pm – Both kids are sobbing. Older one curled up in my lap. Younger one wails because he can’t keep his 4D glasses on.

3:46 pm – I give in. Let him wear glasses for the rest of the afternoon.

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3:52 pm – Two year old crying, “where are games? Where are games?” Husband begs to leave. Five year old wants to sample 100 flavors of Coca Cola.

5:15 pm – Back at hotel after driving 5 mph through Atlanta rush hour.

6:20 pm – Pants are totally soaked while refereeing the kids’ bathtub splash contest — don’t even care since they are really overdue for baths.

6:45 pm – Oh, how sweet! Hubby picked up dinner for the crew. Kids are eating pizza and watching TV while we enjoy a yummy Valentine’s dinner and pseudo-date from the writing desk across the room.

7:25 pm – This Crème Brûlée is amazing! Who needs date nights? We CAN have it all — even with kids!

8:50 pm – Both kids are in one bed and we’re in the other. Ahhh. Finally, we can rest.

9:43 pm – Two year old is moaning and thrashing in his sleep — probably a nightmare.

9:50 pm – We move the baby to our bed to comfort him and keep him from waking his brother.

10:13 pm – Husband earns purple heart: intercepts two year old’s vomit with his bare hands.

10:14 pm – We’ve moved our party to the bathroom, where pizza is making an encore appearance.

10:22 pm – Two year old seems totally fine. Change his clothes and get him back into bed. Now, we can finally get some rest.

2:44 am – THUD!!

2:45 am – ??!!!

2:47 am – Lift still-sleeping five year old back up from the floor.

8:30 am – Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Kids predictably underwhelmed by cheapo Valentines I chose for them but seem to like the M & Ms. Hubby doesn’t “get my humor,” disturbed by my card choice for him. This day’s off to a good start…

And with tantrums, more sprints to the bathroom, and wrong turns on the way: I’ll be glad when we finally arrive in Charlotte, 11 hours later. While en route, Hubby and I will reminisce about all of our favorite moments in our romantic history. And wouldn’t you know it, this turns out to be the sweetest valentine of all.

 

 

 

The Key to the City

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Sometimes the things you look forward to the most don’t turn out exactly as planned…  That was today’s lesson, as we stood shoulder to shoulder with a crowd outside of Charlotte’s Regal Park Terrace cinema, waiting for a fifty year old time capsule to be cracked open.

To my surprise, I felt more like a Charlottean than ever before as sixties music filled the air and people browsed through a display of artifacts from the era — a local phone book from the ’50s, a vintage Battleship game, an air raid protocol poster, old records, a retro TV, a viewmaster, and more.

We all wondered what would be inside this box buried in front of the theater the same year The Beatles came to America, during the height of the Civil Rights movement and as the Vietnam War raged on.

Some people around us reminisced about when the movie theater first opened or spending Saturday mornings there as kids in the ’60s and ’70s. Others remembered an even earlier time when this land had simply been an empty lot, before the Park Road Shopping Center’s arrival in the late ’50s — when it became the first outdoor shopping center of its kind in Charlotte and the largest in the region spanning from DC to Atlanta.

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It didn’t matter that we are not orignally from Charlotte. My husband and I, like so many residents, are transplants from other places far away. Having lived in Charlotte for almost eight years now, we have our local memories too: celebrating a belated St. Patrick’s Day over a pint of Guiness at Sir Ed’s days after the birth of our first son; family dinners at The Flying Biscuit; watching the kids test the goods at Toys & Co.; hearing my young sons squeal “cookie, cookie” as we dash into Harris Teeter for some groceries; listening to community members read Dr. Seuss books at Park Road Books; and of course seeing great independent movies on those too rare date nights at the Regal Park Terrace.

Suddenly, today, I realized that we really have become Charlotteans. Just by going about our everyday lives we’ve set down roots in this place. We are a part of this city and just like everyone around us — the young and the not-so-young —  we hoped that we would discover some missing piece, some clue from our collective past when the time capsule would be opened.

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And what did they find inside the sludgy, muddy interior? Pieces of decayed newspaper, a mysterious reel of film, the binding from a now disintegrated notebook, and a key to the city.

Some people were disappointed. They called the event a “bust.” But I don’t see it that way.

The half hour before the ceremony was magic for me: chatting with the people around us, sharing stories about the past and the present. We hugged our kids, admired the vintage car parked next to us, and mouthed the words to classic songs.

The joy for me was in participating in this scene — experiencing a strong sense of community, even though we were mostly surrounded by strangers. The anticipation before the opening and the chance to revisit the past collectively were a unique gift. I realize now that it really didn’t matter what was in the box.

Ultimately, it’s a shared vision — imagining possibilities and commemorating our past — that binds us together. It gives us a sense of belonging. It’s the true key to the city.

Something to dish about…

 

"Oh, no! Soiled again..."

“Oh, no! Soiled again…”

 

Last month my husband issued a surprising challenge: could we go one week without using the dishwasher? He was fed up with finding bits of tomato sauce clinging to an occasional dish and wayward Fruit Loops spooning with spoons — not to mention sick of constantly empyting water-logged tupperware from the upper rack. He maintained that with handwashing we’d actually have cleaner dishes in the same amount of time or less.

He’d come up with this theory that the dishwasher is actually the ultimate procrastinating machine,  tempting us with its bubbly mantra: “why wash now what you can rinse and stack for later?” Though it poses as a time-saving device, he argued that the time it takes to empty the dishwasher and recheck the dishes actually make it a time drain.

I begrudgingly decided to play along but only after the terms were fixed: he would handle all of the dinner plates, pots, pans, etc. I’d take care of the rest of the day’s dishes.

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After he posted it on Facebook, something interesting started happening. We began receiving phone calls and emails from worried family members.

“Are you crazy?”… “Do you need a new dishwasher?”…

“Are you being forced to wash all of the dishes by hand (while barefoot in the kitchen)?”

“Have you tried using a rinse aid?”…

“No, really, Sis: Do we need to take up a collection to get you a new dishwasher?”

I couldn’t believe what a stir it had caused! But I was even more surprised by what happened to our kitchen and to me that week:

1.) We never had any dishes piling up in the sink.

2.) We never ran out of silverware.

3.) We became noticibly more frugal in our use of water glasses.

4.) I actually felt happier — washing the dishes after every meal was sort of… well, cleansing. I had an odd feeling of productivity that carried into other tasks around the home and even in my professional work. (Save us all.. ME — a Domestic Goddess?!)

5.) I had the feeling that my husband and I were both sharing the burden of housework.

6.) The difference in time, if there was any, was negligible. It was just spread out throughout the day rather than in one grand emptying/rewashing ceremony.

7.) I learned the true secret to a happy marriage: while it’s ok to loudly critique the dishwasher’s inability to get all of the gunk off, a little more tact is required when assessing your husband’s handiwork.

The following Monday morning I noticed my husband — out of years of habit — load his coffee mug in the dishwasher. I didn’t say anything. After all, the competition was officially over.

But that didn’t stop me from feeling a little guilty later on when I scooped up the rest of the breakfast dishes from the sink and plopped them into the “procrastinator.” I needed some sink space for the lunch plates!

Somehow the magic was gone… but while it lasted, it was grand!

I guess my husband was right. Quelle surprise! (And by the way, so was my mother: I started using a new dishwasher detergent with a rinse aid and those dishes are sparkling again — even if they do sit for a while in the machine.)

There’s one thing I know for sure: No freaking way my sweet-talking hubby can convince me to take the same challenge with our washing machine.