Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day weekend takes on a whole new atmosphere when you live on a military base.  Yes, it's still the beginning of summer.  Yes, there are BBQs, beer and summer cocktails.  But it's also a sobering reminder that we have lost friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, neighbors, husbands and wives defending this country and the freedom that is our way of life, and the freedom to drive to New Hampshire for beer when all the stores nearby are closed.   

I never really thought much about Memorial day growing up.  The country wasn't engaged in any particularly large military action, all I knew was peace for most of my youth.  I can count on one hand the number of people I knew who enlisted or went off to any of the Academies.  There was the first Gulf War, and some action in Africa that was largely ignored by the general American public.  Then 9/11 happened and we've been at war for over a decade now.  A decade!  My children have never known the peace that I knew as a child.

We're blessed not to have lost a close friend or immediate relative, so instead this weekend we said our prayers for our friends' families who have lost a loved one.  Baby can't talk, but he does a great job of folding his hands while we all pray.  Chester is still pretty ignorant of what death means, and his prayers are a bit garbled about visiting people in Heaven, but he tried his best to give a good prayer for Mr. Shawn and the other soldiers in Heaven.  Pete gave a very touching prayer for Mimi, and added one for the soldiers too after some prompting.  When I explained that we were saying special prayers for the soldiers who died to protect us, he gave me a bit of a heart attack.  Pete gave an articulate prayer for all the colored soldiers in The Battle.  I was a tad dumbfounded until I figured out- childhood innocence here- he meant the Blue and Red soldiers from the Battle of Lexington and Concord!  We went to the reenactment on Patriots' Day this year with my parents.  (What an amazing history lesson, I highly recommend it to everyone in the area!)

So after watching the soldiers in different colors, he wanted to know if we pray for them all, both sides, all the colors?  And what's even better, is his innocence that there was just ONE battle that's kept us all free.  I hate knowing that someday he'll understand how many battles, and how many men and women we've lost.  I wish we could just leave it at the different colors at the battle, but I know that someday he'll understand.  Someday he'll hear taps, not as the song that meant bedtime, but as a the bugle call at a funeral with military honors.  As a mother now, my heart tugs more than ever before, knowing that each one of our fallen service members was an adorable, sweet, innocent child once just like my boys.

We'll be celebrating the start of summer.  We'll be at a BBQ.  Not sure if they'll play the call to evening colors or taps tonight (the base here seems not to play it on weekends for some reason) but I know we've already said and continue to say our prayers and our thanks.  God Bless you and keep you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Happy Mother's Day! Welcome Port and Starboard!

How did you spend your Mother's Day weekend?  Did your family serve you breakfast in bed?  Did they bring you flowers?  Did they forget entirely?  Did they give store bought gifts?  Did they draw a card with crayons and stickers?  Did they craft something at school?  Did you avoid the whole holiday?

Personally, I had a great Mother's Day.  My family left.  Now before you get all up in arms about loving and appreciating my kids and my husband:  I do love and appreciate my family.  I just really love the rare moments when I'm ALONE.  I used my precious time to read a book, do some laundry and play Farmville.  I'm the most exciting person I know. 

I was truly pampered over the weekend.  I got to shower.  Twice.  Without any small children interrupting me or destroying the room while I'm out of sight. 

My husband made breakfast, we ordered pizza and he made dinner too.  AND he did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen.  I was able to just sit and relax.  Truly rewarding.      

The boys made me some cards and presents. 

This is the plate that Pete made last year at pre-school.  It got set aside in our move last year, and only discovered months later when I cleaned out the garage.  Pete has asked me about the plate every day since.  Do you like the plate I made for you Mommy?  He also asks if I love the flowers they picked out for me.  I love orchids, they're beautiful!  Oh, no Mommy, I mean these flowers I made for you out of model magic:

Before you give Ryan the gold medal of Mother's day pampering, I would like to tell you that it came with a price tag.  The price tag of my sanity.  Sure, he took the boys for a few hours, but do you know what they brought home?  A turtle.  No kidding.  Actually two turtles.  Port and Starboard.  And three guppies. And a sucker fish.  If I was contemplating any more children, that pretty much nipped the thought in the bud. Since you have so much spare time to think about another baby, here are two little reptiles and some fish for you to remember to feed, and clean before they make the house stinky. 

And now my disclaimer:  I actually like the turtles.  I was thinking about getting the boys each a Beta, but hadn't really done my research yet, and now I don't have to.  We'll see if they keep the boys' interest for the long term, but right now, they will just sit and stare at the turtles.  They have built me Lego models of the fish tank.  They wish the turtles good night.  One threat of moving the turtles away gets the playroom cleaned in record time.  So I do love the turtles, but I will reserve the right to joke about them for the next year.  And I think for Father's Day, Ryan might be getting a beautiful Coach purse. 

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers out there.  Happy "we're rooting for you" Day to the Ladies who want to be Mothers.  Happy Mother's Day to all my friends with Angel Babies- you ARE still Mothers.  And finally Happy Mothers Day to our Mothers in Heaven and a big hug to the sons and daughters missing them. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pants-free part two

Any Mom will tell you that the best treatment for a diaper rash is fresh air.  How much fresh air you're willing to give the bum is dependent on your tolerance for the potential mess of a naked time incident.  For some Moms, this is the zero-infinity poop principle.  Close to zero chance the child will soil themselves without pants on, but infinitely disgusting if they do.  I've been desensitized to baby poop with at least one in diapers for the last five years, so the very small chance of a catastrophic mess doesn't bother me and we've had lots of fresh air naked time over the years.  Now that we're on Kowalske Boy #3, naked time isn't even reserved for diaper rash, but rather celebrated any time we don't feel like putting on pants. 

I promised the boys we'd go swimming before their lessons on Tuesday without checking the stock of swimmy diapers in the closet. Turns out, we were fresh out of swimmy diapers, which required a quick trip in the bike and trailer (I did NOT spend all that money on the bike just to drive the minivan to the store.  We WILL get my money's worth of this bike trailer!). One set of diapers, one set of squeezy ice pops and a great big hug from Miss Jessa and we were ready to ride to the pool for swim lessons.  Back from lessons and finished with dinner, we wandered outside to play.

Marek joined the ranks of the naked in the back yard at an impromptu party for our new neighbors Leah and Sam.  I was relaxing in their backyard after my long and arduous Tuesday, and when the baby blew out his pants, it was much easier to just clean the kid and release him in the backyard without pants instead of walking back to the house for a new diaper.  Okay, I'll be completely honest, it was all of 250 yards back to my house, but I didn't want to go.  I sent Chester for a new diaper, but he got distracted by an ant on the sidewalk.  I'm on the fence about whether the naked time was the result of a laid back parenting philosophy, or sheer laziness and besides, Marek was not concerned at all about playing in the backyard without pants.  In typical male fashion, he loved the attention from all the rest of the guests, flaunting his little toosh while playing fetch with the dogs.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Sam and Leah!  Hope my naked kid didn't traumatize you. 

How was your night?

This was actually back from April 30, but it's taken a week to get a few spare minutes to finish the blog! 

 It's been a rough day and my husband was kind enough to make me a margarita with my dinner.  And not just a margarita, but the most amazing blender full of fresh lime with just the right balance of tequila and crushed ice.  I had several glasses of the sweet stress-busting agave nectar of the gods before I remembered that I needed to drop off a check to Heather for my Pampered Chef order.  (Which co-incidentally enough was actually for Margarita Itty Bitty Bevs)

I could have walked over to drop off the check, but decided to make it a family trip on the bikes.  We recently bought bikes and a bike trailer from the adorable local bike shop Bikeway Source in Bedford and I've been looking for every opportunity to ride them.  So I packed up the two youngest in the trailer, popped on my helmet (safety first!)  and biked over to Heather's while wearing my super cute black linen dress (thank you Ashley!) with black canvas wedges (thank you Brenna!).

On the way there, we ran into Rachel and Abby, wondering what the heck I was doing biking in a dress and heels.  I stood there chatting with the girls and I sent Pete ahead to Heather's to drop off the check (LOVE having a big kid who can help!).  Meanwhile, Chester announced his need to pee.  I helped unbuckle him from the bike trailer, but before I could even direct him to the nearest bush, he peed in his pants.  Rachel is now laughing, as I am clearly tipsy, riding a bike in heels with a child in the trailer who just peed in his pants.  She suggested borrowing a pair of pants from Heather's boys but by now Pete had returned from dropping off the check and I just wanted to go home.  I've cleaned enough car seats to know the canvas in my brand new bike trailer would never be the same if I put Chester back in with his wet pants. 

Have you guessed how this ended yet? 

I biked home with a pant-less child in the bike trailer. 

Just wait for the second installment of pants-free Kowalske Boys- coming soon!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Emerging as a human being

In January, Marek celebrated his first birthday.  In true third child fashion, we didn't have a big party, but I did make him a cake, and I did have a few glasses of wine.  I might have taken some pictures, I'm not sure.  He'll discuss this in therapy years from now, and probably read this blog as proof I'm a terrible mother.  But then 30 years from now he'll catch up and understand we're all just doing the best we can.

This week, Pete celebrated his fifth birthday.  My little baby can ride a bike, goes to school, knows his letters and numbers, and as of Monday, he can play with little legos instead of duplos. 

I've been a mother for five years now, and the time has truly flown by.  For the past five years, I've worn whatever fit my body at the moment (anywhere from a size 4 to a 14) and showered whenever I could squeeze it in, worn my hair in a ponytail more days than not and just generally let my physical appearance fall a little lower on the priority scale.  I spent two and half years pregnant, and another two and a half years nursing babies.  My body was squishy, my breasts alternated between perky and full and flat and saggy.  My belly and thighs are streaked with deep stretch marks, there's a gap between my abdominal muscles.  I wore yoga pants and flip down tops to allow access for the babies to eat.  There's nothing wrong with the squishy body and the sloppy clothes, it's where I was in life at the time. 

After three children, my body has stabilized (nowhere near my pre-baby body, but it shows the scars of having served a noble purpose and I'm pleased with it) and I'm starting to invest in myself again.  Buying shirts that don't have fold-down flaps for breastfeeding and wearing dresses with heels again.  I've even joined Premier Designs jewelry as a fashion consultant, serving others by helping them pick out jewelry for every occasion too.  After several months of success with Premier Designs, I decided to hop on the direct sales train, and I joined Mary Kay as well.  I'm using the cleansers and moisturizers, and trying to focus on saving three minutes for myself to toss on some makeup before leaving the house.  It's just three minutes, I don't use much but it gives me a polished look. 

I'm starting to re-emerge as a human being again.   I'm dressed in clothes that fit without an elastic waist.  I'm wearing coordinating jewelry.  I have a little powder and blush on.  I've been studying the Mary Kay eye makeup examples and experimenting with my makeup.  I've dried my hair.  I may not be a super model, and I may not achieve every one of these goals every single day.  There's still plenty of days I'm in sweats with a pony-tail.  But I'm truly starting to feel like a beautiful, put together woman again. 

Before you think that I'm pretending to be perfect, I should let you know that earlier this week, as I washed my face before bedtime, I noticed that I'd been wearing one eye of green eye shadow, and one of bronze, all day. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I'm baaaaaaaack. Maybe.

I've completely ignored the blog recently.  Well, for a long time.  There's been a lot going on.  I like to call it "life". 

What's been ridiculous recently?  Well, the first thing that pops to mind is poop.  I spend my days surrounded by an unfathomable amount of poop.

Having spent most of the last year in a potty training epic with Chester, we've been solidly potty trained for about 6 months.  It's to the point that I don't bother reminding him for a potty trip before we leave the house because he'll automatically go.  Nap time and bedtime are their own ball-game, though, so I scored a bargain on about 300 pull-ups and having finished the package of Spiderman pull-ups, he's wearing camouflage under-jams to nap time these days.  Considering he just turned three in February, I'm thrilled with his progress. 

Marek caught some sort of bug last week, or maybe cutting his molars upset his stomach, or who knows why, but the end result was about a week's worth of horrible poosplosions and refusal of solid food.  Thank God we're still breastfeeding because I'm not sure what else he would have eaten!  The poor kid blew out diaper after diaper, and even woke up one night to fill his diaper and whimper.  He hasn't done that since, well, about this time last year when he was just a few weeks old.

Pete tried his very best to take the first prize for poop related drama.  One afternoon as I sat and rocked the baby in the living room during nap time, I heard a great crash and a scream from upstairs.  It turns out that Pete needed to poop during nap time.  However, he didn't want to get in trouble, so he didn't tell me, but rather, he attempted to wipe himself.  (Please tell me your nearly 5-year-old can't sufficiently wipe himself either?)  Typically I check after he's wiped, but since he was being stealthy, he decided to check himself.  That's right, he climbed up on the bathroom counter to look at his butt in the mirror.  The crash I heard was him falling off the bathroom counter, grabbing at the towels, the curtains and the shower curtains.  They all crashed to the floor together, causing the huge crash and screaming.  For the record, his butt was clean.

The dog wins the poop prize.  Our house sits right at the curb but the next set of houses are set back around a courtyard.  Believe me, I understand it's a hassle to carry your groceries from your car back across the courtyard to your house, but I don't appreciate that my neighbor has taken to driving through my backyard to park in the courtyard by their front door.  Aside from the potential tire-tracks and damage to the yard, my dog and my KIDS play back there!  Today's poop prize goes to Killer, because I haven't bothered to pick up after him this week, and he laid bombs in just the right place for the neighbors to drive through the poop.  Their car smells, and I don't have to pick up after the dog. 

So there's just a quick glimpse of our ridiculous life recently, and perhaps now that the Baby sleeps in his own bed, I'll have time to write more frequently. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fake it 'till you make it!

Last few days have been light on the sleep and heavy on the coffee. 

My Monday class ran longer than normal.  The students got their first exam back, and as expected, the grade distribution looked like a reverse bell curve.  There are students who care and work hard, then there are the students who don't care and don't work hard.  None of the students who routinely ask questions in class got worse than a B+, and suddenly in class on Monday, the students who failed wanted to ask lots of questions.  It happens ever semester, and every semester I warn the students that those who fail to do homework and ask questions on it in class will fail the first exam.  And every semester about one third of the class does just that.  Some of them drop, the rest suddenly ask lots of questions and try desperately to catch up.  After 140 minutes of cash controls and cash management, I headed home and got in bed after 10pm,  then fed the baby and put us both to sleep just after 11pm just two hours later than normal.  I try my best to be in bed by taps at 9pm each night.

Sleep deficit -2

Somehow Chester took off his diaper before bed or in the middle of the night, I'm not sure.  He wet his bed, and then came to the spare bed we keep in our room.  He then wet that bed.  He was up for the day around 5:15am, a full hour earlier than normal

Sleep deficit -3

The boys were crazy all day and though I can typically get them all to nap at once and catch an hour for myself, it wasn't going to happen Tuesday.  Chester and Pete had eaten an entire jar of mandarin oranges with their lunch on Monday.  And Monday night for dinner, they asked Ryan for more.  There's no way he could have known I already fed them far too much fruit, and because the boys are normally so picky, when they asked for more oranges, he happily fed them an entire second 24oz jar of mandarin oranges with their dinner.  So Tuesday things were a little.... loose for the boys and though Pete is old enough to use the bathroom himself, Chester's mastery of the potty is not yet solid enough to handle an upset stomach.  And when he was managing to hold it in, he was so focused on not soiling himself that he peed his pants about every 30 minutes.  So I spent a lot of the day cleaning.

Sleep deficit -4

In an effort to fake alertness, last night I was upstairs in my room at 6:30pm cleaning the bathroom after dinner and decided I should do my hair, put on a dress, and welcome my husband home with a smile and a beer instead of an exasperated frazzled sigh.  He was immediately on guard, thinking he'd forgotten some event I needed to attend, but did eventually accept that I simply wanted to pretend we'd had a good day, not a day filled with, well... crap. 

I should have skipped last night's debate.  I didn't learn a thing about either candidate that they haven't already said in multiple speeches and ads, and Marek was asleep from 8:30-11:30.  Coincidentally, he woke up right as I was turning off the debate commentary to go to sleep.  Last thing I remember the clock said 12:46. 

Sleep deficit -7
Chester was back up and crying, but not entirely awake right around 1:30am.  I debated between letting him fully wake up and come to our room vs. trying to slip out of my bed to calm him in his own bed.  I slipped my nipple out of Marek's mouth (yes, I am his pacifier all night)  and stumbled down the hall, successfully soothed Chester back to sleep and tucked him in his own bed and headed back to my bed, where I was greeted by a crabby baby wondering why his pillow and pacifier had abandoned him.  Knowing that Ryan's alarm goes off at 4am, I decided to head downstairs to sooth the baby.  Poor kid is definitely getting a few new teeth, and while he didn't want to eat, he was definitely tired and wanted to rub his face and his snot all over my shoulder and breast.  He was finally solidly asleep at 3:30am and I carried him back upstairs so I could fall asleep in my bed.   

Sleep deficit -9

I must have been dead to the world, because I don't remember Ryan getting up at 4am, and I have no idea when Chester rolled into his spare bed in my room, but I know about 5am I screamed at him to put his head on the pillow and lay still or I was going to make him sleep with the dog. 

This morning, as I could hear my oldest come into the room, I assumed it was still very early because it was still dark.  I told him it was still sleeping time and to come back later.  He sounded pretty confused, and for good reason:  It was already past 7am and my room was very bright, I just had my eyes closed and thought it was still dark.

Not entirely sure when the last time I showered was (maybe Sunday?), so I hopped in for a quick wash and then dressed the whole family and myself , including hair and jewelry, packed Pete's snack, filled his special me box for show and tell and managed to get us all down the street to school by 8am.  I dressed in my work clothes, knowing I wouldn't have time today to work out, so I was and I decided to get hair and make up and jewelry done first thing too even though I normally don't bother until 5pm when it's time for class, and hope that I could fake my way into a good day.  It hasn't worked yet, but I'm determined!

Final sleep deficit of Monday and Tuesday -8

And I imagine I won't make it to bed before 11pm again because I'm teaching another class tonight. 

I'm a much better mother when I'm well rested, but clearly this week is not going to allow for that, so I'll be helping myself to a large Diet Coke on the way to swimming lessons this afternoon and trying to prop my eyes open for the 20 mile commute to teach class tonight.

To everyone else on I-95 tonight, I apologize.  But even zoned out and exhausted, I'm still probably a better driver than most of these Massholes!