Saturday, February 22, 2014

Feral French Fry Children of the Pacific Northwest and Other Tales of Travel Woe

Brian tends to travel in spurts for work. Sometimes he travels a lot. Sometimes just a little. Sometimes he knows about the trips weeks in advance. Sometimes he doesn't.

When he tells me about trips I feel the panic start to rise in my throat. My neck veins get bulgy. I say bad words in my head. Sometimes I sit at home and ugly cry while the kids tear the house apart. Sometimes I can be proactive and plan as many activities as possible into the days I have to fill. This will also result in ugly crying, BUT, I will be tired, and so will the kids, so with any luck they will fall asleep faster which means I will have more time to watch Grey's Anatomy and each chocolate and ugly cry without an audience.

Some of the activities I allow my children to participate in might make you ugly cry. They might make you shake your head and think, "oh dear what is she thinking?" I'm thinking my husband travels/works a lot and I need a small amount of sanity.

Don't let yourself be shamed by the "parenting police." Go right on with your bad self and fear not the judgement of others.

Successful steps to solo parenting.

Step 1: 
Go to McDonalds. Before you get all high and mighty on me chill out. They have a free play area, PLUS the germs are free too. You can go when its raining and gross outside but your kids are all crazy and whiny and weird and need to run with a pack of feral children. Also they have free wi fi. Kids get their ya yas out and you can play candy crush without using any data.Win. Win.

Also strangely their coffee isn't too bad. Buy a cup and let the kids loose.

Step 2: 
Proceed to your local library. Allow your children who are now hopped up on french fries and buzzing with plastic slide electric static to peruse the children's section. While you are at it try and find a self help book for coping with feral children addicted to french fries. Note to self, write book about feral french fry children of the Pacific Northwest. 

If possible go to a library that you don't normally go to.  My kids know when I tell them we are going to the library with fish that I'm bringing out the big guns. The library with the fish tank is slighter bigger than our local one, PLUS it has fish. Never underestimate the power of three beta fish in a fish tank. Aquatic creatures + children= 30 seconds of uninterrupted silence. Mesmerizing I tell ya.

Let the kids check out some new books or maybe even a DVD to extend your sanity hours. Our library also has an evening story hour which we checked out once and it was nice. I should say it would have been nice if Wes didn't keep going up and trying to play with the story time ladies props.

 I mean, to be fair, she had puppets. Puppets, in full view of children.

Evidently the allure of puppets is entirely too much for my children. Wes heard their siren song and couldn't resist a good puppet romp. Story time puppet lady wasn't game. Lesson learned.

We are currently seeking a puppet free story time if you have any leads. Also we might be blacklisted. Note to self, research blacklist status for story time. 

Step 3: 
Go to a pet store. We go to Pet Smart a lot. We don't have any pets. I haven't even bought anything there, which up until now I hadn't felt overly guilty about, but I'm sort of starting to the more I think about it. I shamelessly bring my children into Pet Smart to view the animals. We check out the birds, cats, lizards, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs and then when we have had our fill of scales and fur we leave.

Every once in awhile Jack brings up the idea of a pet and I quickly remind him that Daddy is allergic to all animals. It makes things easier. Mostly I'm lying, but its a protective lie so it doesn't count. I'm protecting my floors, my lawn, and my sanity.

Maybe next time we are there we will buy some tennis ball dog toys for me to throw to the kids at the park and I won't feel so bad.

Step 4: 
Put children to bed. Engage in nonsensical yet seemingly necessary bed time rituals that border on OCD so that your children will go to sleep.

Everyone have their special blanket? Check.

Jack do you have 97 stuffed animals in your bed arranged in order of number of legs? Check.

Wes do you have 56 toy cars that will leave marks on your face while you try and sleep in your crib of hard metal wheels? Check.

Night lights on? Check.

Damn starry night turtle have batteries and on AND changed so that it projects ONLY blue stars? Check.

Everyone had the appropriate amount of kisses, hugs, pats? Check.

Everyone have water for all that aerobic sleep you intend on having? Check.

Go to bed. So simple it only took me three hours.

Step 5: 
Do not watch scary TV or movies. Maybe don't even watch TV. Maybe just knit or read a book or go to bed.

I know you won't listen to me and I know you will watch them anyway. Then like me you will awaken in the middle of the night and think you see a small person attempting to burglarize your home. You will reach for the nearest weapon which in this case happens to be the TV remote.

Why is it that this is the only time I can find the damn thing?

Armed with your remote, you decide you are too scared to do anything right away so you hide under your covers and make a mental note that you don't really have anything horrifically expensive. I mean it was a smallish person so they can't carry too much stuff right? Isn't this why we have renters insurance? Suddenly you feel pretty righteous for having made those payments on time each month. You are so smart.

When you can no longer breathe in any more hot blanket air, you ever so slowly peek out of the covers. The smallish person is still crouching in corner except now their head is bobbing around. Dear God, I have a drunken smallish person attempting to rob me.

Remote in hand, you ninja roll out of your bed and discover that the quite small person attempting to rob you is actually the vacuum and a small helium balloon the children have discarded.

 I don't know how to explain to you how terrifying it is to awaken to a smallish person with a bobbing head lurking in the corner of your room is, but its alarming enough to wish that your remote had a taser feature. Note to self, invent remote with a taser feature. Become a millionaire. Buy an island. The end. 

When Brian comes home we are all so happy and relieved to see him.  While I watch the kids clamber over him to give over due kisses and hugs, I feel a sense of peace and calm start to wash over me. With renewed spirits I look around and see shrunken helium balloons, dishes in the sink, stray french fries and children with no pants. "It's best to not ask any questions, OK?" He nods and just like that balance is restored to our universe.

Phew! We made it!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2013- a year in review

As 2013 came to a close I found myself, like others, oddly pensive about personal habits and urges to commit to changing them in 2014.

I think instead of reviewing the year and the subsequent thoughts that generally are of a self loathing nature one should reflect back on the wins.

There should be an award ceremony. Congrats you survived another year! You have succeeded!

In the Kelley family I would like to nominate several members for a rather stunning array of awards.

Most ER visits in one year-This award goes to Wes hands down. You nailed it kid. If there was a punch card yours would be full and we would have our 10th visit free. That's right kid you stuff all the purple latex gloves you want into those little pockets of yours because this visit is free. F-R-E-E. Take a couple of tongue depressors for the road.

Thankfully you have been healthier this winter than in previous years but we have our arsenal of steroids ready for you just in case you start to look sniffly and croaky.

Coming soon to  theater near you; its a bird, its a plane, no its a twenty five pound child on steroids! Able to climb the fridge in one leap, run laps around the neighborhood for seven hours, and survive on no stinkin' sleep! You have been warned!

Most likely to put a hole into anything-Jack takes this award by yet another clear landslide. The child has an uncanny ability to put a hole in a sock, pant leg, piece of paper, truly anything. You name it this kid can wear it out faster than you can scream shoot.

I put a patch on his jeans the other day and even went to the extra trouble of putting another patch on the inner part of the leg. I had double patches. Nothing could stop me. Jack wore the pants for 5 hours and had ripped a hole in the leg. Two patches down. Call for back up. I might start making him wear knee pads at all times.

Wes on the other hand can almost still fit in his newborn clothes and they are all in perfect condition. Evidently when you are a 25 pound 3 year old you can't destroy your clothing as effectively. You could do nothing but scoot around on your knees for days and have not even a thread displaced. This leads me to the next award.....

Most economical person in the family-I was going to announce I had taken this category as I do the household budget, pay the bills, sock away some for savings, pay down debts, and clip coupons, but I think Wes is giving me a run for my money.

 The child can wear things for multiple seasons. Each summer when I pull out the shorts and t shirts I rarely have to even check that they fit because they always do. The child has been wearing the same 12 month shorts for going on three years. True, they are starting to become a bit short but on the plus side he isn't running around with his shorts around his ankles on a regular basis.

So if you see Wes at the park this summer in his daisy dukes, judge not, for he is more than likely on steroids and can outrun you without his shorts falling off.

Most likely to launder something other than clothing-I win this category without competition. In the last year I have laundered:

a yellow balloon (no inflated)
a bullet
three metal cars
a pacifier
a handcuff key
867 tissues
3 grocery lists
approximately $2.32 in loose change
2 rubber bands
6 nerf darts

As a master laundress of items not intended for washing machines I can confidently tell you that I am thoroughly impressed at the durability of these items when put in the spin cycle. With the exception of the tissues and paper lists everything came through both the wash and the dryer unscathed. The lettering was still on the balloon and when I went to blow it up it worked like a charm. I might start accidentally washing more junk. Look out Martha Stewart, here I come.

Most likely to binge watch depressing Netflix documentaries- I win this one again. I can't help it. If there is a documentary about North Korea I cannot avert my eyes. Brian will come home from a business trip to find me bleary eyed on the couch and with a concerned look he asks me how many documentaries I have binge watched. I will tell him while ugly crying about deaf Auschwitz survivors and Korean death camp escapees who don't know what love is. He doesn't understand why I care to do this to myself but its reflexive for me. I can't NOT know about the blind and mute dolphins of the south sea and how they are being raped and pillaged by the local fishing community. Animals living in the remains of the Chernobyl disaster? Seen it. I CAN'T NOT KNOW! I saw a preview for next years upcoming Frontlines and they have devoted an entire episode to North Korea. Never before seen footage. This is like crack to a documentary addict. I might have been heard shouting, "Christmas has come early!"

Most likely to be wearing shoes at all times- Brian. Brian would wear his sneakers to bed if I let him. The man is always in shoes.When the rest of this family is lounging around in our pajamas well past 10 am on the weekend Brian is dressed as of 7 am and ready for action.  He claims that is is due to his collapsed arches and need to be prepared at all times. I claim its because he might be smarter than the rest of us.

When I step on a toy car land mine and writhe around on the carpet in pain, he just shouts, "this is why we should always wear shoes!" To me the incessant need to wear shoes appears as if he can never fully relax but I am assured that is not the case.

Whatever the case may be the man is literally unflappable so maybe the whole shoe O.C.D thing is working for him.

"Hey Bri, alligators have set the house on fire and have formed some sort of wild mob outside the house."

"Ok cool, no problem I'll just get the hose and ask them to politely leave."


 Me? Well I've seen one too many documentaries so I know how these things end.

May 2014 bring you health, happiness, and may it be void of alligator pyromaniacs, ER visits, clean yellow balloons, and holes. Now go get your shoes on.