Torn linoleum, bed bugs, and a touch of poison ivy

Remember last year when I told you about our worst return home from a family vacation to Florida??

Just a quick recap…we pulled into our snow covered driveway to find our pet sitter stuck in a snow bank…our house was covered in dog piss, feces, and vomit. There was wet pee covered towels shoved in under clean, dry towels…and someone went rummaging through everything in my bedroom..

This return home from Florida was up there with the worst.

We had a great time in Disney…then Paul and I stayed a few days for a conference..At the conference things started to fall apart. I was having a hard time sleeping and got a head cold. I had to force myself to stay awake for the seminars and was too tired to do a lot of the fun stuff afterwards. Great!

The kids spent the weekend at a camp up north for a family reunion with my mom.

The first problem came on Saturday afternoon when the new pet sitter arrived. She noticed that the dog got locked in our bathroom. I usually leave the bathroom door closed. But since I wasn’t there, it was left open. Upon leaving, I am always the last one to leave the house to make sure the oven is turned off, etc…to make sure these types of things don’t happen.

This is what I came home to:

Someone left the door open and the dog trapped himself inside. Our dog tried to scratch his way out of the bathroom. He tore the linoleum and clawed up the door and trim pretty good. To think that all of my worry scenarios involved teenagers trashing my house, not a geriatric dog!! Seriously!!!

Great! Good thing my son had that flooring job for the summer.

The following day, my son contacted me about bites all over his body. My mom thought it could be poison ivy since he walked near some. My son thought it was bed bugs.

The next day, he was covered in a rash.

I blew off some sessions to make a doctor appointment. Then I had to stay on hold to give parental consent since he is 17, under legal age.

The doctor didn’t know what was causing the rash…she told my son to thoroughly clean his room. That was the best advice a doctor ever gave my kid.

My son bagged his bedding and vacuumed his mattress. He thought he saw bugs, but wasn’t sure.

Meanwhile, my mom called the camp they stayed at for the weekend to ask about bed bugs in his cabin. This prompted a visit to the camp from the health department with no signs of bed bugs there.

Then I blew off some more sessions to contact my friend who works for an exterminator. To make a long story short, tomorrow I have an appointment set up with someone that does canine inspections for bed bugs. I really hope it is poison ivy or spiders. Yes, I am starting to like spiders even more..

At least this time I knew what I was coming home to. Although that did not make it easier..

I felt so miserable being sick. I felt stressed out about everything at home. I wanted to take a nice long walk…at nighton the freeway…but instead I literally cursed my luck with a few 4 letter words..

Why me?? Why??

I have a feeling this workation is going to be a lot more expensive than we had planned. It already cost what little was left of my sanity…

 

Parenting from my horse and buggy

A few weeks ago, I received a text from another parent regarding my son.

Surprisingly, it was not a late Friday night knock on the door.

She told me that my son was driving 15 mph over the speed limit on the highway with her son in the car. She knew this from an app and suggested that I get the app too.

I decided not to.

When I confronted my son about his driving, he became upset.

His friend got a ride with him to the band concert because his parents didn’t want to attend. No one bothered to show up on his behalf. But they complained about my son’s driving.

My son said that if they have a problem with the way he drives, then maybe they should take their son and be involved in his life.

I don’t want my son to speed on the highway, but I have to agree with him. What good is constant nagging without being an involved parent??

I already have the app that tracks my children. I know where they are at all times.

I have the app that tracks their grades. I know about every missing assignment, every time they were a few minutes late to class, and every bad grade.

Every night could be a nag fest.

Did you turn in that assignment yet??

How is it going to make them responsible for their own lives if they constantly have mom and dad telling them what they need to do?? How can they think for themselves if we already have a solution for every problem??

Sometimes I think parenting was a lot easier when parents didn’t know so much.

I remember bringing my report cards home and the screaming and threatening only lasted a day or two. Sometimes I was even surprised by my grades.

I remember going to the library (where people smoked cigarettes) if I needed answers to questions. Shocking, I know. This comment should almost give my blog an R rating. The librarians had all the answers or knew where to find them, kind of like Siri.

I remember my parents saying that I had it made in my day because a bus picked us up for school. They had to walk uphill both ways to a one room schoolhouse that didn’t have indoor plumbing.

Every generation seems to think that the next generation has it so much easier. But is it really true with this generation?

When I was a kid, I spent my summers riding my bike around town from morning to night. Sometimes the chain fell off or I got a flat tire. Sometimes there was a storm.

I didn’t have a phone to call someone to pick me up. I had to solve my own problems.

I feel like some of that is missing in today’s world.

I wonder when we convinced ourselves that it wasn’t safe for our kids to ride their bikes around all day.

Parents worry about sexual predators, but somehow we convince ourselves that having our kids inside on the internet is safer than riding a bike around town.

To think we didn’t even wear helmets. That would be considered bad parenting today.

Now my kids can’t live without their phones. My daughter called me from her friend’s phone this morning saying that she forgot her phone at home and asked if I could bring it to school for her. I said ‘no’. I told her that I lived my first 18 years without a phone. I’m certain that she could survive for one day.

The kids of today have phone separation anxiety. They are bored or antsy when they have to be without the internet or their phones for more than a few minutes. They run up huge amounts of data on long car rides. They don’t know how to get anywhere because they never look out the window, yet they are lost without their phones.

What kind of life is that?

I think that my kids are wasting their young years watching everyone else live online. But yet they need to stay up to date on technology if they want to have a good career. We’re damned if we do. We’re damned if we don’t. We struggle with them and ourselves over limits.

We don’t know what to do. We can’t relate. We never had this. More often then not, we need our kids help to make technology work. It can be very frustrating.

There is such a huge technology gap between what I know and what my kids know. I would need them to set up the parental controls. Why bother? They are always 10 steps ahead of me. How can I adequately monitor them?

It will be interesting to see how the next generation of parents respond to these issues. I think it will be much easier for them since there won’t be as much of a technology gap between the generations.

Forget helicopter parenting! I feel like I am parenting from my horse and buggy. Meanwhile, my kids are driving the fast snazzy automobile of technology. I can never keep up.

For the first time in history, I think that our children are teaching us more than they are learning from us. This scares me..

 

Another nightmare…

Last night I had another nightmare…

I dreamed that I was pregnant.

As a woman in my 40’s (AND the mother of 3 teenagers!!!!!!!), that is my worst nightmare.

My 13 year old daughter is currently going through a rebellious stage. She currently hates me. Yesterday she mentioned that she likes her brother more than me. Trust me, that is bad! Seriously, what did I do?? That’s right! I breathe. I’m annoying. I wouldn’t understand.

She told me this past weekend that she is a psychopath because of something she read on the internet. Of course, from a very reliable source.  Oh, and a few of her friends are psychopaths too. WTH??

Her worry over it tells me that there is zero possibility. That and my psychology degree. That, my psychology degree, and that she couldn’t hurt a flea. Trust me, I know THIS..

I only know one psychopath, my best friend Cindy’s ex-husband. He started another family while he was married to her. His oldest son was born a few months before their first son was born. He did crazy things like drive into a tree so he had an excuse not to visit his girlfriend after his wife gave birth.

Thankfully, I only had the pleasure of meeting her ex once!

Maybe she should start a blog.

Cindy is happy now. She married a wonderful man named Ted. They had teenagers in the house when she got pregnant in her 40’s. My nightmare is her dream come true.

I have to remember that this will pass..

Maybe someday I will even laugh about it.

Yes, I’m certain that I will….when my kids call me someday with teenager issues…while I am out traveling the world..

 

Another late night visitor

I received another late night knock on the door this week. Surprisingly, it wasn’t for my son. It was the neighbor girl Abby who was crying bearing gifts of cookies and a handwritten apology note for my youngest daughter Arabella.

I found out there was a problem when I picked up the girls after school. Arabella wasn’t talking to Abby and Abby had no idea why. Arabella mentioned something to me later about the girls having friendship issues due to their extreme differences in body shape. Abby is in 7th grade and is very tiny. Some of the kids were teasing her saying that she looked like a kindergartner. Arabella is in 8th grade and is on the hefty side. I can see a future of her always struggling with her weight.

It is open to debate, Abby may or may not have said something about rather being small than fat. Arabella may have found this offensive.

Abby’s mom sent me a message wanting to know why Arabella was upset with Abby. I responded that they were having a discussion about body image. Abby’s mom replied that Abby admitted to saying some not very nice things to Arabella. In response Abby’s mom said, “I can’t believe this. I’m incredibly sorry. I’m just mind blown and upset. Abby has always been so sweet and considerate and I have no idea where this came from. I sincerely apologize.”

Then Abby showed up at the door crying offering her apologies.

Wow!

Abby’s mom was very stressed out by the whole situation. To be honest, it didn’t really phase me.

Abby is the oldest child. They are going through this whole middle school yucky time for the first time. Arabella is my youngest child. We have been down this road several times before. We have received worse knocks on the door.

Abby is a good kid. I didn’t want them to get worked up too much over this. I told them that sometimes people say things they don’t mean or that they regret later. No hard feelings..

I remember my middle school days. It is a terrible time for kids. It seems like everyone has to fit into the same cookie cutter mold.

When I was in middle school, I was the smallest in my class. One day I wore my green stretch pants to school and everyone called me frog legs. I bemoaned the fact that at 13 I was still asked if I was under 10. The adults all said that someday looking young would pay off for me (it did).

Some of my friends had braces and glasses. For awhile, I wanted that too. I remember walking around the house with a gum wrapper held on my teeth by an opened up paper clip. I also wore my babysitter’s glasses and looked at myself in the mirror which she said would cause me to need glasses. Apparently, she was wrong. (Why do I remember such crazy stupid things??)

I think the middle school years are the hardest. Especially if you are really short, really heavy, have a big nose, can’t afford to wear the right clothes, or are different in any way.

Woe to the popular kids too. They have to jump through a lot of hoops to stay popular.

I am soooo happy that this will be my last year as a mother of middle schooler.

 

Saying goodbye to Angelique Hope

It is finished.

I survived!

It wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be. 

The hardest part of dropping off my newly turned adult daughter at college was watching her say goodbye to her younger sister. They hugged. Angel told Arabella to call her if she needs any advice. She told her to enjoy having her own room. A few tears threatened to escape when they told each other how much they will miss each other. 

Now why couldn’t they get along that well before??

For the first time in over a decade, I will be actively parenting only 2 children!

We woke up before dawn to pack all of Angel’s belongings, including her beta fish, into our truck. It was an 8 hour round trip for Paul and I. I am totally exhausted tonight, so this will have to be quick.

It was an emotional day. 

Bittersweet. 

It was hard to say goodbye. Hard to keep things together. 

I wanted to keep her forever. Instead, I let go of her hand today. 

It was okay. I know she is where she was meant to be doing what she is supposed to do. She is happy, healthy, smart, full of faith, and makes good decisions. What more could I want?

It is going to take some time before I don’t expect a response when I call out her name. 

She is not here anymore.

But my house is not empty.

I still have other children to raise..

I know she will be okay.

I will be okay too.

The end – 911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

I called 911 once, but the call never went through.

I made the call from a big clunky cordless phone that sporadically worked. 

I am so glad the call didn’t go through. It would’ve been so embarrassing. I couldn’t imagine having to explain how my daughter’s finger got stuck in the toilet.

Well, it wasn’t exactly like that.

My mom gave Angel a toilet piggy bank when she was potty training. Everytime she went potty, she was allowed to put a coin into the toilet bank and it would make a flushing sound. Except on that one day when she put her finger into the bank instead of a coin. Her finger got stuck and I failed to get her finger out. I even failed at calling 911. It was terrible. Angel was screaming, her finger was swelling, and then she started to shake.

I immediately went into tunnel vision panic mode. My IQ dropped 50 points instantly. My daughter and I were hysterical. 

If you think that I am a nurse, doctor, or EMT…please stop….. Could you imagine?? Ha hahaha. 

I eventually discovered that I could release her finger by pushing down on the lever instead of trying to pull it out which locked it.

It’s a total wonder that Angel survived her childhood. 

Tomorrow we are dropping her off at college. We are saying goodbye to our firstborn for the first time. 

I have been anxious about this moment all week. Will I remain cool, calm, and collected as I wave goodbye for the last time? Will I be a weeping, hysterical mess of a person? I am afraid. I am not one for public weeping or making scenes.. Will I be heartless if I keep it together? Or will I be a slobbering raccoon eyed mess? 

When my kids were little, I told myself that I would keep a journal of everything that happened. 

I remember when Angel had many imaginary friends. One of them was named Volleyball. She was so upset when Uncle Luke told her that he got hit in the head with a volleyball. How could her friend do such a thing? Now I’m taking her to college…

Alex used to draw cute little stick people with big heads and eyes. He used to cry when he heard “monster” trucks go by because he was afraid of the monsters growling in the trucks. He was such a mama’s boy. Now all of his little drawing are put away in storage, he is driving, and he wants nothing to do with me…

Arabella used to drive us all crazy by pretending she was a cat. She would meow and crawl around on her hands and knees.. Now she is a teenager too.

Where did the time go?? I feel so bad that I never did write in my journal like I wanted to. I could’ve filled it with so many things.. Memories that are now fading or forgotten..

I did the best parenting job that I could. I don’t have any regrets.

Trying to get clean – 911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

It always seemed strange to me that my kids schedule has always been misaligned with mine.

In the earlier years of parenting three little kids, I was in my 20’s and still longed to sleep in. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to sleep in until 9 AM! But my kids were always up around 6 AM or some crazy hour!

Then the middle childhood years hit and for a brief overlap, our schedules entwined. No one got up particularly early or stayed up too late.

Now I am in my 40’s and the mother of three teenagers. I can’t seem to sleep in much past 6 for the life of me! It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed. My teens like to stay up until all hours of the night. They ask what time they need to be home at night. I always say 10 PM. Why?? Because that is the time that I want to go to bed! I seriously need my beauty sleep because the older I get the earlier morning comes. This is another thing I never thought would happen to me.

Where am I going with this story??!?

When my kids were little, I didn’t want to get up at 5 AM to take a shower. So if I was lucky enough to take a shower, I would sometimes try to get it in during nap time. Yes, there were times I had to have my baby right next to me while I showered. I remember being a nursing mom with a crying baby outside the shower next to me. It wasn’t very much fun and seemed counterproductive.

That was my reality in those days.

One day I decided to take a shower at nap time. After stepping out of the shower, I thought I heard a noise. I wrapped in a towel and opened the door to explore. Sure enough, I saw Arabella open the front door and run out of the house. My 2 year old was heading towards the road. I chased her down the driveway in nothing but a towel screaming like a banshee. What a fun game mom is playing today! My shrieks got louder as Arabella approached the street which stopped her in her tracks.

When I see new moms walking around grocery stores in their pajamas, I understand.

When did showering and self-care become an act of selfishness anyway??

Of course, those days are long behind me now.

Pick your poison- 911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

Today we are going to talk a little about potential poisons a.k.a. reasons I had poison control on speed dial.

Maybe I should be happy that my kids were never picky eaters. Until recently, that is. Alex seems to have an aversion to anything green and particularly vegetable looking. He has an affinity towards junk food. Ah, teenagers…

My kids were always into trying new foods. Maybe it has something to do with Paul being a good cook. What worried me was that they were also into trying non food items as well.

When Angel was a little girl, I caught her nibbling on a house plant at my grandma’s house. It didn’t look all that appetizing to me. Maybe it was because I was lacking foliage. You see, I have a black thumb. Houseplants were taboo which might have made them alluring. I called poison control. What kind of plant did she eat? Well, how do I know? My house was the scene of many houseplant homicides. Thankfully, grandma left the identifier tag in the plant. Not poisonous! Phew.

Then there was the silica, the bag of little white beads in a shoe box. Why do they put that in a shoe box anyway? I’ve always wondered. Why would you need to preserve the freshness of shoes? They should make them so they stay fresh and don’t wear out after buying them not before. I can see how silica could look like a little bag of candy. Yum! Not poisonous, I called.

Then Alex ate a big handful of anti-bacterial foam soap. I admit, it does look a little bit like whip cream. I know that kids in history got their mouths washed out with soap. That was not a worry. What I didn’t like was that it was anti-bacterial soap which previously gave Angel a fierce rash. I called poison control. Not poisonous.

Arabella ate an Asian Beetle. It bit her tongue which swelled up a little. Not poisonous!

The kids broke out in hives from their antibiotics. Not poisonous!

I thought the dog got into a bag of dishwasher detergent. Phew, turns out that he didn’t. He did eat ant poison. He also ate a candy bar. Despite my fears, it didn’t poison him either.

Then the kids got older. They no longer were tempted by non food items. Then I started worrying about other things. I worried for a long time that they would choke on food when they were home alone. My mom told us of the time that she almost died choking on a grape when she was a kid. Worry.

Then I started to worry about them using the stove to cook meals. Would they leave the burner on and burn down the house??

It seems like children (and pets) bring on worries. They aren’t the same ones as when they were younger though. Are the kids eating enough? Too much? Enough good foods? Too much junk food? Can they afford to take their significant other out to eat? Hmm, that was a little pricey don’t you think? Maybe they should cook at home. Will they clean up the kitchen after themselves?? Will the dog get into their garbage?? And when am I going to stop spending so much money on food??

 

 

Off her rocker-911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

When I entered the bathroom alone that day, Angel was on her little rocking chair playing quietly. A few seconds later, when I came out, it was an entirely different story.

In the short time, Angel turned her rocking chair upside down. She was lying face down wedged uncomfortably under the two rungs on the bottom of the chair stuck and crying.

I had two choices. I could either yank her out by pulling on her back or I could grab her legs and try to get her chest, head, and neck through the two rungs. The second option wasn’t ideal as I didn’t want to trap her head and neck in the chair. So I tried to yank her out from her back. She wouldn’t budge since I couldn’t get her butt past the rungs.

Next I did what I thought was the best. I freaked out! I called my husband at work. He tried to calm me down and walk me through it. He told me that I needed to put cooking oil or something slippery on her in order to slide her out. Seemed kind of obvious, but in a panic my IQ drops 50 points.

After I calmed down, I ran into the bathroom and found some anti-bacterial soap. I pulled down her pants and applied globs of soap to her butt. After that, I was able to slide her out of the chair.

But the story doesn’t end there. Angel broke out in the biggest fire red bumpy rash that I have ever seen right on her rear. I was worried that people would think that I had taken to beating her. It certainly looked like I did.

Looking back, the whole experience seems kind of funny now.

It is so hard to believe that in less than two weeks she will be packing her bags and moving out. I am happy for her, but mostly I feel sad.

Drowning, my fears – 911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

I, myself, have never been afraid of drowning. Maybe I would’ve been if my brother drowned that warm spring day.

It is a topic of conversation that never goes away. Why did my mom let my dad talk her into leaving the 6 year old me in charge of watching my 3 younger brothers alone in the water? Was I always the protector or did I become that way? 

A few weeks ago, my brother told me that he has nightmares of me watching him drown. How can he remember? He just turned two. I remember everything that happened that day. I stood on the dock paralyzed with fear watching my brother gulping water and gasping for air. As he flailed his arms, my 3 year old brother exclaimed excitedly over and over that he was swimming. My autistic 5 year old brother stood in the shallow water flapping his hands oblivious to the surrounding peril. 

I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t seem to move. My mom came back to check on us and saved my brother. I knew that I failed because I couldn’t protect him.

I never was afraid of drowning. I was afraid of watching others drown.

Fast forward another 6 years to when I was 12. I watched my baby cousin in their swimming pool while her mom was at work. She was sitting in the water on a pool chair. She fell off the chair backwards into the water. I grabbed her leg and pulled her out. I was so happy that I didn’t panic and let her drown. But everyone else seemed so angry. My uncle got scolded from his wife for letting me watch my cousin in the pool. No one seems to remember that I protected her, that I didn’t let her drown.

Fast forward another decade after I had children of my own. We were told as new parents to never leave your baby unattended even for a few seconds in the bathtub. If the phone is ringing in the other room, let it ring. I suppose this is not a problem anymore for the new generation of parents.

Then my kids got older to the age where I didn’t need to sit and watch them bathe. I could go in every few minutes and check on them. One day I checked on Arabella in the bathtub after there was an unusual period of silence. I opened the tub door to find her floating in the water fast asleep. For a brief minute, as I gazed at her motionless body, I was terrified that she drowned. It was the most horrible anxiety ever. I thought that I failed to protect her.

After that happened, I worried that my children would drown. I never liked my kids taking showers when I was gone or asleep. I mean, they could slip on a bar of soap, hit their head, and drown. I don’t let them go swimming alone. I feel the need to keep an eye on them when they are swimming in water.

Even having my 3 kids swim together at the beach in front of me in shallow water wasn’t enough. I looked away for a minute and then there were 2 kids. My youngest wandered off from her siblings and couldn’t be found. It was a large beach with a lot of people. In just a few seconds they got distracted and separated. I ran up and down the beach combing the water until she was found safe. Another terrifying moment. 

So I worry. Worry makes me feel like I have some control, that I will be prepared for the worst that could happen. I worry about the things I can’t control. I feel like I am responsible for everything that happens. I am the protector. Sometimes I even try to control when I need to let go. It leaves me a nervous wreck. 

Within this last month, my daughter became an adult. My son turned 16 and got his driver’s license. Sometimes I can’t even tell anymore if my worries are rational or irrational. I don’t know anymore. 

People that don’t worry tell me not to worry, to worry about things I can control, and that I need to trust God more. Believe me, I wish I was a carefree person. I have an extreme fear of failing to be a protector. When something goes wrong, I blame myself.

I want to relax. I want to let go. 

But sometimes the worry drowns me.