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. 

That which we manifest is before us

It’s the day after the marathon, and I’m tired.  Not just any tired, but third trimester with a ten-pound baby tired.  A dense fog has taken up residence in my head, and my once agile body feels as if it’s an old beater at the end of a demolition derby.

I lie on the bed listening to Kiki cry, “Mommy, Mommy,” from her crib.  Of all days, today’s the day she naps less than forty-five minutes.  Murphy’s law or is it mother’s law?

I take a deep breath and drag my body off the bed wincing at the pain in my legs.  Feebly, I pick up Kiki from her crib and settle into the rocker for stories.  Bunder cries.

“Seriously?”  I say aloud.

I struggle to stand holding the baby and meet Bunder in the living room.  I offer to read him stories on the couch with Kiki.  He throws himself on the floor, “No Kiki!  No Kiki!”

He protests the presence of his sister; he doesn’t want to share my lap.

Kiki notices his intent and starts to cry and scream in my arms, “No!  No!”

With one child screaming on the floor and another screaming in my arms, I slouch to the couch and try to keep the thoughts of self-pity out of my head.

“That which we manifest is before us,” I think of this quote from Garth Stein’s book.

Time to manifest something different, I decide.

Through tears from all three of us, I manage to load the kids, the bike, the stroller, and the dog into the car.  I hobble back inside for the kids’ snacks and drinks.

Minutes later, we arrive at the dinosaur park, a county park with fake rock formations to climb on, large dinosaur eggs to crawl through, and dinosaur fossils to dig out of a giant sand pit.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.

Total bliss.

I only wish Bunder would keep his hands out of his pants.

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.

The Case of the Mystery Poop

I returned from a run yesterday, and Mister, who was watching the kids, tells me he found a piece of poop on the carpet and can’t figure out where it came from. “Did you check Kiki’s diaper?”  I ask.

“Yes, and it was fine.  I asked Bunder if he pooped his pants and he said no.  I checked and his underwear were clean,” Mister continues, “I have no idea where the poop came from.”

The case of the mystery poop … one of many little anecdotes I hear upon returning home from a run.

Don’t worry; I’m not going to talk about running – not here anyway.  I started a new blog specifically for that topic.  Mister says, those who want to read about Mommy-world, don’t care about Marathon-world and vice versa.

I’ve pointed out to him, I do have a small following of mostly family who will read everything I write –God love ‘em!  I don’t even care if they chat about me behind my back – isn’t that the crux of blogging – giving people something to discuss.

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  I was talking about how I’m not going to talk about running.  Except to say, these past five months of marathon training have been wonderful for our family.  The kids have grown more attached to Mister.  They’re less dependent on Mommy.  I’ve made new friends through Rogue, the running group I joined.  And I’ve found a much-needed balance to my life in the Mother-world.

Let’s face it, we, stay-at-home-moms, are with our kids day-in and day-out.  We have certain ways of doing things, and we might just think those certain ways are the right ways.  This can be frustrating for the other caregivers in the household (so I’m told).  My running schedule provides quality time for Mister and the kids to play without my interference (as if I interfere – “Don’t throw her in the air – that’s bad for her brain!  Don’t swing him like that!  You’ll dislocate his shoulder!”)

Now, Bunder often says to me, “It’s time for you to go running, Mommy.  Bye-bye!”

When I wasn’t working toward a goal, the marathon, I found numerous excuses to stay home and not get out of the house.  In turn, I denied myself a much-needed break.  Doesn’t everyone perform better with regular time to reflect and recharge?

My advice to you, stay-at-home-moms, is find something – anything you’re passionate about that doesn’t directly relate to your family and foster that interest.  Sometimes, in order to be great at something, you have to take a step-back.  Thomas Merton said, “Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.”

Running has helped me find order within my family, but I’m not talking about running on this blog, so you tell me.  What gives you balance?  What do you like to do outside of raising your children to bring harmony to your world?

Mad Gab, the Toddler Version

Oh, what are the games that Baby plays

With those who love his baby ways? 

I’ve read these lines many times over to Bunder and Kiki as the first page in the story, Play with Me by Esther Wilkin.  Somehow, these stanzas kept playing in my head as I returned to bed at 12:47 a.m.

At 12:39 a.m., I awake with a start to Bunder screaming from his bed.  Groggily, I make my way across the house to his bedroom.  The house feels cold compared to my soft, warm spot under the goose-down comforter next to Mister.

As soon as Bunder sees me, he begins yelling something unintelligible through sobs.

“It’s okay.  It’s okay.  It was just a bad dream,” I try to soothe.

“NOOO!!! “  He shrieks louder, “I wanna blah, blah, blee!”

I have no idea what he’s saying.  Therefore, I attempt to use logical reason based on experiences to construct my best hypothesis.  All of which is very difficult to do in the middle of the night with a two-year old bawling in my ear.  The game of Mad Gab –Toddler Version begins…

“You have to go pee?”

“NOOOOO!!!  More screeching and crying, “I wanna blah, blah, blee!”

“You want to brush your teeth?”

“NOOOOO!!!  Blah, blah, blah, blee!”

“You bit your cheek?”

“NOOOOO!!!  Blah, blah, blah, blee!”

“You want some cheese?”

“NOOOOO!!!  Blah, blah, blah, blee!”

Clearly, Bunder is winning this round.  I can barely make out the last word ending in a long e sound.   I throw in the towel, offer him a sippy cup of water, and pray he goes back to sleep.

Oh, what are the games that Baby plays

With those who love his baby ways? 

Kiki has a fun game.  It goes something like this…

Look what I found lying on the ground.  Is it an acorn, a berry, or dog poop?

Now you see it!

Now you don’t!

Oh, what are the games that Baby plays

With those who love his baby ways? 

A Black Fireman

“Look Mommy, it’s a black fireman!”  “Mommy, look!  A BLACK FIREMAN!” Bunder’s yelling this from the second seat of our double stroller as he points to the Fire Station Lego set he’s holding in his lap.  Kiki’s strapped in front of him.  I’m pushing the rig through the busy aisles of our local Target.

I start to panic.  I remember reading in NurtureShock, if I shush Bunder, he’ll think he said something wrong – or worse yet – he’ll think I have something against black people – which I don’t.  I love black people!  Well, I don’t mean anymore than I love white people or Asians or Hispanics.  I’m not saying I love them more – like their race is superior or like I have some weird racial preference.  Oh, my, I’m sweating.  This is all so not p.c.

The book said not to react in a negative way when children notice racial or ethnic differences.  It’s natural for them to notice these differences.   As parents, we should not pretend to be color blind, because our kids are definitely not!  I know what not to do, but what should I do?

People passing by start to do double takes.  As I rush past them, I see them turn to others and start to say, “Did he just say …?”

“A BLACK FIREMAN!  LOOK!  LOOK!  A BLACK FIREMAN!”  Bunder’s now singing it as if he’s just created the latest chart-topping hit.

I laugh nervously and pull into a vacant aisle.  Squatting next to the stroller, I say, “Yes, yes, I see the black firefighter.  You’re right – it is a black firefighter.  Do you see the dog?  What kind of dog is it?  It’s a Dalmatian.  See.  It has black and white spots.  And, OOOOH LOOK!  This Lego set comes with a fire hydrant and hose.  Oh, that’ll be so much fun to play with when we get home.”

Bunder studies the box and I race to the front of the store hoping to catch an empty checkout lane.  Just as we reach the shortest line, three carts deep, Bunder starts singing again, “A BLACK FIREMAN!  I SEE A BLACK FIREMAN!  A BLACK FIREMAN!”

I smile and nod to the crowd of gawkers as they start to whisper God only knows what.  I daydream about being a less conscientious parent – you know – someone who doesn’t try to read about doing everything right in every single parenting moment.  If that were the case, I could shush him, tell him to be quiet and threaten to take the Lego set away.  Instead, I listen to


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