Category Archives: It Happens

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Because traumatizing poor Kiki with Santa Claus isn’t sufficient, I took her to see the Easter Bunny.  I thought it’d be a good test of her tolerance of adults wearing large, ominous costumes.  See her reaction below.

See Bunder's cheesy grin

Prior to placing her on the Easter Bunny’s lap, I asked her, “Kiki, will you sit on the Easter Bunny?”

She clung to me, shook her head no, and verbalized a very distinct negative.  I asked, “Will you stand next to the Easter Bunny?”

She shook her head vehemently and again answered, “NO!”

Therefore, I did what every other cold-hearted, holiday loving, picture craving mother does.  I ripped her from my arms, placed her kicking and screaming on the bunny’s lap, and danced behind the photographer cheering, “SMILE!”

I know I’m not winning any mother-of-the-year awards.  However, I think she’ll thank me when she’s older and has a funny picture to show her boyfriend.

Linking up with Just Write


Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

I remember teaching my third grade students to think like writers – to live like writers.  I encouraged them to see their lives through the eyes of a storyteller.  Oh, how I loved teaching writing.

I miss those students.  Some days I think teaching a class of twenty-two children belonging to other people is easier than managing a day with two children belonging to me.  I digress…

Just as I taught my students, a continual narration runs through my head regularly.  As I experience a long drive in the car with my kids, I imagine the parts I would tell you.  Certainly, I’d include this conversation:

“Mommy!  Mommy!  Open your eyes!  Mommy!  Mommy!  Open your eyes!”

“Bunder, I know you have lots to tell me, but Mommy really needs a nap.  Will you please be quiet while I sleep?  Watch your movie or color with your crayons.”

“Okay Mommy.  I’ll be quiet so you can sleep.”

“Thank you, Pumpkin.”

Ten seconds pass.

“Mommy!  Mommy!  Are you asleep?  Mommy!  Are you asleep?”

*********************************************************************

Sometimes, I’m so caught up in watching the story unfold, narrating it in my mind that I forget to react.  I forget to parent.  I know!  I’m that lady- the one sitting back all calm and reflectively watching my children wreak havoc on innocent bystanders.  Such was the case earlier this week.

All day Sunday and most of Monday morning, I built anticipation with my children to visit the Butterfly House.  “Oh, I can’t wait to see the butterflies!  I can’t believe the blue Morphos are back!  I wonder if one will land on me again this year.”

Why do I do this?  I’m not certain.  Is it to extend the fifteen-minute trip into a grander excursion than it really is?  Is it to encourage cooperative and obedient behavior prior to the journey?  Or is it my own twisted masochistic tendency?  I think the latter.  Surely, after this many years as a stepparent and parent, I should know better.  All too often circumstances outside of my control ruin my schemes.   Ah, the best laid plans of mice and moms.

Truly, I blame myself for Monday’s calamity.  After all, I stoked the fire of excitement for Bunder and Kiki.  I built the Butterfly House up so high, not even Godzilla could climb it.

I thought these thoughts as I watched my offspring kick and pound on the doors of the Butterfly House Monday morning.  Over their shrieks and cries, I attempted to read the sign to them, “Closed on Mondays.”

They didn’t hear me.  I stepped back and observed.  Dreadful to admit, I wished for a video camera to record their tantrums.  No video camera existed, so I pressed record in my mind – narrating the story as I watched.

Seconds, (okay maybe minutes later), I snapped out of my trance as other parents tried to console my kin.  I tried not to laugh (okay, I did laugh, but I tried not to – shouldn’t that count for something).

For the benefit of the bystanders, I said all the things a parent should say in such a situation, “Oh, I know you’re upset.  I’m upset, too.  I feel frustrated that the Butterfly House isn’t open today.  See the doors are locked.  We can’t go inside.   Don’t worry.  We’ll come back tomorrow.  Blah, blah, blah.”

I said all this while I half carried, half-dragged Bunder and Kiki toward the car.  This was not an easy task with a 25-pound toddler, 35-pound toddler, and 10-pound diaper bag.  But of course, I deserved it.  I was the nitwit who set up this disaster.

At least, we made it through the doors on Tuesday.


unBEARably Crabby

I lay Kiki down for her usual mid-morning nap, even though she doesn’t seem tired.  I shower while I listen to her babble in her room.  I think, “How will I ever shower once she gives up her morning nap for good?”

Her talking fades, quiet ensues, and I linger through the process of dressing.  Ten to fifteen minutes later, I hear a shriek, then another, then a “MAAAAAAAA-MEEEEEEEEEEEE!  MAAAAAAAA-MEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

I wait a few minutes, knowing she had not and will not nap this morning.  Ahh, the all too familiar dance – two naps are too many- one nap’s too few.

Our day continues, and I notice her heavy eyes before lunch.  I rush through the meal and attempt an earlier naptime for Bunder and her.  Alas, I’m the only one sensing this urgency.  Bunder and Kiki conspire against me.

Can’t you just see them – whispering in the corner?  Bunder saying something like, “Hey, Kiki!  You know what would make Mom really crazy?  Let’s run around acting wild, screaming from room to room, and when she calls us or asks us to do something, let’s ignore her.  When we sense she’s finally had enough and she picks us up to put us in bed, let’s kick and scream some more and flail our arms accidentally hitting her in the face.”

I can see Kiki listening to her big brother’s words, nodding her little head, and solemnly agreeing to the plan.

All right, maybe my imagination has the best of me, but haven’t you ever thought your children were hatching a secret plot to destroy your last shred of sanity?

By the time I place Kiki in her bed, she shows all the warning signs of being overtired.  She fusses a lot before falling asleep, sleeps for only an hour, and wakes like a big, Mama Grizzly, unBEARably crabby.  (Stupid pun – I couldn’t resist – too much Dr. Seuss these days).

Nothing makes her happy: no binky, no cup of milk, no lovey, no dancing on my hip.  She cries and cries.  I take her temperature.  She cries some more because I won’t let her eat the thermometer.  I begin to dread the clock.  “How am I going to make it the rest of the day?”  I think.

I wake Bunder a little early, usher him to the bathroom, dress him, shoe them both amid protests, and head outside for a walk.

Instantly, everyone’s running and laughing.  Mother Nature is one of my favorite besties.   Spring is pretty awesome, too.  Thank God for sunshine and warm weather and flowers!


Pooping in Public

Kiki pretends to bite Bunder who sits next to her in the shopping cart.  Bunder screams hysterically, “She’s going to bite me!  She’s going to bite me!”

Sometimes Kiki does bite Bunder, but only when she deems necessary (e.g. he takes her toy away, bonks her on the head, pushes her down, etc.)  In the shopping cart, she’s doing it to experience Bunder’s fun reaction.

I distract them with snacks, mini Nilla wafers and yogurt raisins.  They eat quietly, while I attempt to find juice with the least amount of arsenic in it.  “Did Consumer Reports recommend Mott’s or was it Juicy Juice?  They didn’t test the H.E.B. brand.”  Bunder distracts my thoughts with the one sentence all moms in public places dread to hear…

“Mommy, I have to go poop.”

Because I’m trying for the mom-of-the-year award, I attempt to talk him out of it. “Are you sure?  We’re almost done shopping.  Don’t you think you can wait?”

He refuses.  I sigh and ask the closest sales associate for directions to the restrooms.  Of course, they’re on the exact opposite side of the store.

Approaching the restrooms, I look for a family room.  “This will work,” I talk to myself.  “I’ll just push the cart with Kiki into the bathroom like I do our stroller.”

Oh, wait.  My cart is full of food and my options are “Men” or “Women.”  (Recently, in my foggy Mommy state, I took Bunder into Men’s room thinking, “Okay.  He’s a boy.  Gotta go in the boys’ room.”  I saw the urinals and snapped out of my daze).

I throw my huge diaper bag over my shoulder, because I don’t dare leave my wallet, iPhone, and snot rags in the middle of the supermarket aisle.  I unstrap and heft Bunder out of his seat.  Then I do the same for Kiki hoisting her on my hip while balancing the diaper bag and holding Bunder’s hand.

“Don’t touch ANYTHING,” I hiss at both of them.

Inside the restroom, I gag at the smell.  Bunder instantly drags his fingers across the metal stall doors.

“Don’t touch!  Don’t touch!”  I scream.

I choose the largest stall and try not to retch at the sight of the less-than-clean toilet.  I glance around at my options for placing Kiki.  I can’t hold her and hold Bunder on top of the four-foot high toilet at the same time.

I cringe as I set Kiki standing on the ground next to me.  “Don’t touch anything,” I warn for the umpteenth time.

She instantly walks to the door and grabs for the latch.  “No!  No!”  I scream, “Don’t touch!”

I wipe off the toilet and examine Bunder.  “I guess I have to remove at least one shoe.  Otherwise he won’t be able to straddle the toilet,” I think.

“Okay, Bunder, Mommy’s going to take off your shoe.  No!  No!  Don’t sit down!  The floor’s dirty.  No!  No!  Don’t grab the toilet.  Hold onto me for balance.”

I set Bunder on top of the toilet in an awkward position.  It looks as if he’s doing the splits over the toilet and about to topple into it head first.  I squat next to him holding his torso to steady him, but he grabs the toilet in between the toilet seat where I didn’t wipe.  “No!  No!  Don’t grab that!  Put your hands up here,” I move his hands to the seat.

“Uh-uh!  What’s Kiki doing?”  I think as I glance behind me.

“No, Kiki!  Don’t touch the floor!  What’s in your mouth?”

We finish, and I take turns holding each of them up to the sink.  I try to balance them on my knee while scrubbing their little hands.

We make our way toward the back of the store, as I daydream about showering them with disinfectant.

When will I learn to quit grocery shopping?

Just Write


Big Adventure in the Ambulance

Sometimes I worry about the HUGE pile of laundry waiting to be folded.

On occasion, I worry about the dirty dishes cascading out of the sink. (Usually I wait until Mister does them. He’s pretty good at dishes.)

Sometimes I worry about the nasty smell coming from the refrigerator. (It’s probably the chicken gone bad.)

Now and again I worry about Bunder’s demands to dress himself.  (He refuses to wear anything I suggest.)

Note the swimming trunks and Halloween hoodie.

Occasionally, I worry about the unidentifiable, green blob stuck in the tiny crevices of the highchair.

Other times I worry about the long list of e-mails I have to send, or phone calls I have to make, or errands I have to run.

On Wednesday, I caught a glimpse of REAL anxiety. I worried about something infinitely more important than the meaningless list above.


We’ve all heard the sayings, “They’re only young once.” “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” “Put things in perspective.”

I lived those clichés this week. I watched my son turn terrifyingly pale and limp in my arms as he struggled to breathe. Without a doubt, it was the scariest moment of my life. It even topped Bunder’s entrance to the world when the surgeon screamed in the midst of my emergency C-section, “Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Get Dr. Hayes STAT!”

Thankfully, we were at Dr. Joe’s office when Bunder’s breathing problems escalated . I cannot begin to describe how amazing Dr. Joe and his staff were during this most petrifying time. Everyone stayed calm, did exactly what needed to be done, and moved like a well-practiced team. I can hear Dr. Joe saying, “Well, of course. That’s our job.”

It goes beyond that – Nurse T grabbed my car keys, ran out to my car, and retrieved Bunder’s car seat, after dumping the animal crackers and raisins from it. (Did you know they use car seats inside ambulances?) Nurse M and Dr. Joe attended to Bunder and reassured me all while completing his chart and updating the paramedics.

Once at the hospital, Dr. Joe, called me and called the doctor on call. Nurse T drove my car back to our house with Kiki’s car seat in it, so Mister could pick us up from the hospital. (Can you imagine? A doctor’s office and a car service all in one?)

Bunder’s doing much better. His spirits are high (partly due to the meds he’s taking). He keeps asking me, “Mommy, do you remember our big adventure in the ambulance?”

As if I’ll ever forget! I realize in the coming weeks, the daily tasks of a stay-at-home-mom with two toddlers will overwhelm me. I hope in those moments of anxiety I can stop, say a prayer, and remember what’s truly important.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble,” Matthew 6:34


Grocery Shopping Hell

“To err is human; to forgive, divine,” Alexander Pope once said.

As a mother, I’m no stranger to errors.  I make mistakes ALL the time.  I lose my patience and raise my voice when I don’t need to.  I squander my time in e-mail and find Bunder, Kiki, and my expensive Italian Paisley duvet covered in Vick’s Vapor Rub.  I give in to tantrums in public (sometimes – I’m trying hard not to).

I make mistakes as a wife, a stepmother, a sister, and a friend.  I make mistakes all over the place, but some mistakes cost a lot more than others.  Last Saturday’s mistake scores an eleven on a ten point scale of painful.  Horrible, no good, awful mistake.

I’m telling you this story in hopes you can learn from my mistakes.  (Cliché – I know.  Deal with it.)

Typically, I prepare menus and a grocery list for the upcoming week on Friday.  Then, on Saturday morning, after my long run, I grocery shop – by myself.

Well, this past week, I didn’t go for a long run – in fact, I didn’t run at all, because I was recovering from the marathon.  Since I wasn’t running, everything was out of sync.  I didn’t prepare a grocery list, and I didn’t make plans to go to the store without the kids.  Before I knew it, it was late Saturday afternoon, we had no fruit, no milk, no cheese, nothing for dinner, basically nothing at all, and it was my turn to watch the kids.

“No biggie,” I thought.  The kids have enjoyed riding in the racecar shopping cart the last few trips to the store, so this’ll be fine.  Mister offered to take the kids, but I declined.

Lesson #1

When husband offers to watch the children, NEVER – I mean NEVER say no.  Furthermore, if possible, do not take children to the grocery store.  Make every attempt to leave all or one at home. 

The parking lot is full – I mean jammed full of cars and people and dogs and cats and monkeys and gorillas…

So full, I drive around looking for a spot to park.  As I drive, I notice the absence of the racecar shopping carts.  Lord, help us, if we don’t find a racecar shopping cart!

I’m in luck!  I spot one, lone, red racecar.  Quickly, I pull into a spot (far from the store), jump out, lock the kids in the car, and run two rows over to snag the last racecar cart.  Swiftly, I push it back to the car, disinfect the seats, handles, and steering wheels with Clorox wipes.  I load both kids, strap them in, hand them snacks and drinks, and race to the store.

Except the racecar cart isn’t racing.  “What the heck?” I wonder.  I have to use all my might to keep it moving in a straight path toward the store.  It doesn’t want to move forward.  It keeps pulling to the side.

The cart is broken.  Do I switch out the kids to a regular shopping cart amid screams and protests or do I make myself suffer?

“It’ll be a nice workout,” I decide hurrying into the produce section.

Lesson #2

Don’t settle for a broken shopping cart.  What seems like a nuisance in the produce section will be an all out nightmare in the milk and eggs. 

Inside the store, I carefully evade the numerous shoppers and pause to fumble for my impromptu shopping list.  While I’m digging to China in my huge diaper bag, Bunder pulls an apple off the shelf and starts eating it.

“Oh, no!  Don’t eat it!  It hasn’t been washed!”  I yell pulling the apple out of Bunder’s hands.

He screams for the apple and Kiki screams for her own apple calling it a ball.  I try to distract them with their snacks.

The saga continues throughout the store.  Bunder screams for something he sees.  Kiki follows suit.  I run into not one but THREE people with my broken cart, because it’s next to impossible to turn and the store is SOOO crowded which brings me to

Lesson #3

Grocery shop during the week – preferably early in the morning or late at night to avoid crowds. 

Literally, an hour later and halfway through the store, Kiki starts shrieking and crying inconsolably.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out what’s wrong.  “Is she hurt?  Did she bite her tongue?  Did Bunder poke her in the eye?”

I read the stares of the countless people in my same aisle, “What’s WRONG with that lady?  Why can’t she comfort her kid?”

I give up, unstrap her, and pull her out of the cart.  – BIG, SUPER BIG mistake!  She’s happy as a clam; which makes me realize she just wanted out of the cart but now…

Lesson #4

Never take your child out of the shopping cart unless you plan to keep them out of the shopping cart the remainder of your visit. 

She won’t go back in the cart.  Every time I start to set her down in the cart, she arches her back and screams bloody-murder.  I give up and settle her onto my left hip.

Picture this, I’m now holding my toddler in one hand, attempting to maneuver a broken racecar shopping cart with the other hand, and a two year old screaming for watermelon and cantaloupe and other ridiculous things.  Welcome to grocery shopping hell!

Lesson #5

To make your grocery shopping more efficient, write out a list according to the store’s sections. 

I started sweating.  The baby was slipping off my hip with every push of the cart.  I couldn’t find my list, but I knew what I wanted to do with it – and it wasn’t cross off another item.   I headed straight toward the checkout.

Upon checking out, the bagger couldn’t find a place to put my 12 pack of Diet Coke on the broken down racecar shopping cart.  I guess all the yelling, sweating, and whining (plus the commotion coming from the kids) distracted him, so he precariously balanced it on top of the rest of the groceries.
Still holding Kiki, still listening to Bunder whine about something, I push the broken cart through the crosswalk toward the parking lot and think, “What else could possibly go wrong?”

Halfway across the main drag, in the middle of traffic with cars lined up waiting for me to cross with my entourage of screaming children, the twelve pack of soda falls off the cart.  Soda cans roll down the street in every direction.

Lesson #6

Boycott supermarkets.  Eat out instead. 


Smashing Bubble Guns on Valentine’s

Usually I buy books as presents.  I love books – especially new ones.  (Reading “Dump Trucks and Diggers” one more time will definitely test the limits of my sanity).  However, this Valentine’s day, I bought bubble guns instead.

The inspiration came from a recent Superbowl party, where the kids had the best time with the family’s bubble gun.  I shopped our local Target and couldn’t believe what I found – an entire aisle devoted to bubbles, bubble blowers, bubble guns, and bubble machines.

I took a stab at comparing styles and prices, but Kiki kept spilling her popcorn on the floor (on purpose) and Bunder kept screaming, “MOMMY!  Kiki spilt her popcorn!  LOOK, MOMMY!  Kiki made a mess!”

Of course, this made Kiki laugh and repeat the procedure, which in turn made Bunder yell louder and with more intensity.

I grabbed the $4 guns, thinking, “Can the $8 guns really be that much better?”  All the packages read something similar – spill proof, drip proof, extreme bubble fun, etc.

The night of February 13th, I laid out what was left of the kids Valentine’s gifts: bubble guns and miniature tin hearts.  (Kiki found the big stuffed dogs in the back of our walk-in closet a week ago).  I double-checked the seal on the tin hearts to make certain the dog couldn’t open them and eat the chocolates like she did the chocolate bunnies out of the Easter baskets.

At 5:30 the next morning, the kids squealed with delight at the sight of the new presents on the living room floor.  The squeals turned to screams when they couldn’t open the packages.  I tried to tear open the bubble guns, but had to race into the kitchen for scissors.  Back in the living room, I opened the packages causing two AA batteries to fall out – choking hazards for Kiki. Quickly, I whisked the bubble guns and batteries back to the kitchen with two whining toddlers following me.  I searched the cabinet for the miniature screwdriver I use to install batteries but couldn’t find it.  Luckily, I found it in the second place I checked, Mister’s desk drawer.  Carefully, so as not to lose the tiny screws, I unscrewed the back of the bubble guns and fitted the batteries.  I waited to attach the bottles of bubbles.

Bunder seemed content to blow things with the bubble gun as it produced a soft fanning of air.  Kiki couldn’t care less about the bubble gun; she wanted chocolate.  I promised as soon as the sun came up, we’d test out their bubble guns in the backyard with the bubbles.  Oh joy!

An hour later, I began changing the kids into warmer clothes (it was barely 40 degrees out).  I found their coats, hats, mittens, socks, and shoes and attempted to dress them.  Kiki cried and tried to escape.  Bunder threw fits not wanting to wear his coat, hat, or gloves.  “It’s not cold out, Mommy!  It’s hot out!”  He yelled.

Finally with much sweat and tears, we made it outside.  Kiki wandered off to play in the sandbox.  Bunder and I attempted to use the bubble guns.  “Attempted” is the key word.

I don’t know what kind of crack head created the descriptions on the package, but my idea of “extreme bubble fun” is not waving around the bubble toy, shaking it, rinsing it under water, blowing on it, and feeling cold bubble fluid drip down my arm and pool near my elbow.

Drawn by the outrageous Mommy dances and the wild screams of Bunder, Kiki ran over to whimper at my feet and watch the action.  I felt crazy inside – how could a sweet Valentine’s present turn into such a nightmare?  I imagined smashing the bubble guns on the concrete patio, stomping on them, breaking the cheap, stupid plastic toys into a billion bits, all while shrieking like a banshee and waving my arms like a monkey.  I wonder where Bunder gets his temper?

After much trial and error, I was able to get one bubble gun to blow a few intermittent bubbles out by pulsing the trigger and holding it at a distinct 45-degree angle to the ground.  Much to Bunder’s dismay, he couldn’t repeat the process exactly, so he never did get to blow bubbles with his gun.

Next year, I’m buying books.


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