Laundry Saved My Day?

My husband is on vacation this week. It’s Tuesday and I’m already exhausted! I’ve always wondered if Mike thinks that because I stay home with the kids that I’m just hanging out enjoying a day full of free time. Well, this morning confirmed that yes, sometimes he does.

Yesterday was the first sunny day we had in southern Maine in about 8 days. This had us up and out of the house early, just soaking up the vitamin D. Add to that the fact that our town has an annual Memorial Day parade that my daughter’s school (complete with parents) marches in every year and we spent the entire morning outside in the sun. Sunshine apparently supercharged Mike’s batteries because he was a whirlwind of energy, ideas and activities. All day long.

This morning I woke up ready for a semi-normal day at home with the kids. I had to drop my car off to get the brakes done and as we were leaving the house, Mike suggested that we all drive over and spend the day at MacWorth Island since its so beautiful outside. “Okay, that sounds good, if you can help me with the 4 loads of laundry I also have to do today before we leave.” Mike’s answer was a sort of deflated “oh.”

Hey, I’m all for having fun. But this mama here is the one that still has to do all the housework once the fun is done and the kids are exhausted and hungry and don’t have clean underwear.

Mike took the kids out for a hike somewhere. I stayed home and did 4 loads of laundry. And finished reading my library book. And drank two cups of coffee while they were still hot.

Who said housework’s all bad?

Memorial Day

It was on Memorial Day in 2002 that I started to seriously think about joining the Armed Forces. I was hanging out in New York with my friend Shannon and her sisters to celebrate the holiday with the traditional family BBQ. But Shannon, whose father is a Vietnam War Veteran, has always been very passionate about the military and veterans and she had more than just a BBQ in mind for Memorial Day.

It was Fleet Week in New York, 2002. Thirteen U.S. Navy ships and their Coast Guard entourage docked in Staten Island and opened up some of their ships for tours. The pier was packed with people and I don’t think I can put into words what I felt, seeing those ships towering above us, flanked with men in uniform. It was eight months after 9/11 and the patriotism on that pier was tangible. I could taste it in the back of my throat.

We toured a Destroyer and I asked the tour guide if I could see the female berth (sleeping quarters). Because I was already imagining myself walking around that ship in uniform and I wanted to know what my sleeping arrangements would look like. Normally, that is not part of the tour, but I guess the guide saw my interest and asked a female sailor to take me into the berthing unit. It was awesome. There is just nothing like seeing the real deal up close and personal. It was small, and if you’ve ever seen Battlestar Galactica, they’ve got the racks depicted perfectly. I was mesmerized. I could imagine myself there.

Shannon had set it up that we would each “adopt” a sailor for the day and take them around New York as a way of thanking them for their service. So we met the three sailors that we would be showing around town and off we went. We had a BBQ at Shannon’s parents’ house where her dad brought out a photo album of his time in the Army. This astounded his daughters who said they had never seen this photo album and had never heard him speak of Vietnam. He told the sailors (I wish I could remember their names) about seeing his best friends dying right there next to him during a fire fight and I swear you could have cut the silence with a butter knife.

After the BBQ we went out for drinks, on us. I talked at length with the guys about their service and confided to them that I had always secretly wanted to join the Navy. In fact, I had talked to a recruiter in high school, but when she called my house, my mom told her I only filled out the post card for the free poster! Talking to this sailor, I started to feel like maybe joining up wasn’t such a huge undertaking. He told me that if I wanted to join that he didn’t think I’d have any problem doing it. His words lingered with me for two months before I darkened the door of my local recruiting office.

Boot Camp. I'm on the left.

Boot Camp. I’m on the left.

I wish I could say that my time in the Navy was of some service to my country. That is what I wanted it to be. Sadly, it wasn’t. But I walked away from it with a whole lot of positives. I met some great people that I still consider my friends. I met my husband, who I was able to support from afar while he served our country fighting in Iraq. And I learned something very important about myself. I can do whatever I decide to do. The only thing that prevents me from doing something is my own mind, my own insecurities. If I want to make something happen, all I have to do is do it and not give up. That is what being an American is all about, I think. We don’t give up. We stand up for what we believe in. We do what we have to do.

Today I am thanking God my husband came home from Iraq healthy and whole. Today I am grateful for the American men and women who give up a lot of their own freedoms and comfort to serve and protect us on a daily basis while we go about our regular lives. Today I thank the men and women who have died in service to their country – in service to us.

Happy Memorial Day.

100 +3 Things About Me

I love lists! Others may not, but I’m following some guidelines here. One of them says you should have a list of 100 things about yourself. Really? Do people really want to know 100 random things about me? I guess so. Since you want to know me so badly, I wrote 103 things. So there.

  1. I don’t like to be told what to do.
  2. I like folk music.
  3. I also like mainstream pop music no matter how hard my “music” friends try to get me to listen to cool stuff.
  4. I had to switch to listening to a Christian Rock radio station because my daughter started making up songs about taking her clothes off.
  5. I’m addicted to Cape Cod Sweet and Spicy Jalapeño chips.
  6. I have 2 tattoos.
  7. I want another one. A BIG one on my upper arm.
  8. I don’t think I have the courage to get a big tattoo where people can see it.
  9. My favorite color is green.
  10. I want to learn to sew.
  11. I got married in Arizona, even though I’ve never lived there.
  12. I’ve lived in MD, PA, RI, MI, OH, ME, NY, IL (for 10+ weeks), CA and CO.
  13. The 10+ weeks in IL were when I was in boot camp.
  14. I was in the Navy.
  15. I got out of the Navy earlier than my initial commitment.
  16. Not fulfilling my Naval contract is one of the only things I truly regret in my life.
  17. I love to sing really really loud in my car.
  18. I grew up always having a cat for a pet.
  19. My husband hates cats so I may never have another.
  20. My parents named me Tamara so that they could call me Tammy.
  21. I chose the pronunciation of my first name when I was 2.
  22. It’s pronounced Tam-ah-rah.
  23. I hate it when people call me Tam-air-ah.
  24. I studied Russian in an immersion program in the Navy.
  25. My Russian name was Tam-R-ah (without the hyphens. Or the “h”).
  26. I don’t always notice when people call me Tam-R-ah since that’s all anyone called me for almost 2 years.
  27. I went by the name Tammy until I was 21 and I met another girl named Tammy who I didn’t want to be confused with.
  28. I’ve been using my full name ever since.
  29. You can tell how long a person has known me by what name they call me by.
  30. My eyes look blue in pictures, but they are really a blue-green hazel color.
  31. I say my eyes are blue on my driver’s license. Or any other form that asks my eye color.
  32. My husband’s eyes are brown, so I thought I would have brown eyed brunettes when I had kids.
  33. I didn’t. I had one blue eyed blonde and one hazel eyed brunette.
  34. I grew up always wanting 2 kids.
  35. Then when I was about 24, I decided I was too selfish for kids.
  36. I watched my friend give birth when I was 26 and decided maybe I did want kids after all.
  37. I had my first baby at the age of 32.
  38. I had my second baby at the age of 34.
  39. After my second baby, I wanted more kids. Maybe 2 more.
  40. I tried for almost 2 years to have my third baby.
  41. I had 4 miscarriages in a row.
  42. After that I decided that I was going to stop trying.
  43. After being checked by a fertility specialist to make sure I didn’t have any underlying health problems (I didn’t) he told me his theory was that my eggs were deteriorating.
  44. I’m 37 and my eggs are bad.
  45. This makes me simultaneously defensive (of my poor eggs) and sad (my poor eggs!).
  46. I met my husband in my Russian class when I was in the Navy. (He was Army.)
  47. No one in our class of 40 knew we were dating for almost 2 months.
  48. I dated my husband for 6 months before he asked me to marry him.
  49. We got married 5 months later.
  50. I have been married for 8 years.
  51. My husband, Mike, is my best friend.
  52. He is also still smoking hot and has the best butt I’ve seen yet.
  53. I used to work as a graphic designer.
  54. I drove the people I worked with crazy by making them play 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon with me while we designed ads.
  55. I get bored pretty easily.
  56. I’m a natural strawberry blonde.
  57. I’m 5’9″ and wish I were about 5’5″.
  58. I hope my daughter doesn’t grow to be as tall as me.
  59. My first job was having a paper route when I was 12.
  60. Then I bussed tables at a Country Buffet Restaurant when I was 16.
  61. Then worked at Wendy’s, Arby’s and a movie theater’s concession stand. In that order.
  62. I went to Hofstra University.
  63. I am still in touch with a lot of the friends I made in college.
  64. I met most of them my freshman year.
  65. I truly love my friends and would do anything for them.
  66. I studied Publishing so I could become a Book Editor and read books all day for a living.
  67. I discovered its a lot harder than that and it’s kind of boring.
  68. Instead, I went into the Publishing Industry working in Print Production.
  69. I interned at US Weekly when they were still just US Magazine.
  70. It wasn’t very cool.
  71. It taught me how to fix copy machines.
  72. One of my favorite books growing up was A Wrinkle In Time.
  73. I read so much now that I don’t know if I could pick a favorite book.
  74. I mostly read Science Fiction and Fantasy Young Adult Fiction. And Romance. Occasionally, I’ll throw a classic or serious literary fiction into the mix.
  75. I’m writing a novel – YA Fiction. I’m planning a trilogy.
  76. I daydream about becoming the next Stephenie Meyer (There are no vampires in my books, btw).
  77. I’ve already Pinned pictures of the house I’m going to build when I’m a zillionaire.
  78. I’m addicted to Pinterest.
  79. I tried to teach myself how to play the acoustic guitar, but it took too long for my fingers to callus and I got bored with it.
  80. I played the flute for 6 years.
  81. I downloaded Peter, Paul and Mary’s Greatest Hits to burn a copy for my mom for Christmas, but I really did it so I could listen to it. (Shhhh… don’t tell anyone!)
  82. My favorite Billy Joel song is in french and I still don’t know what the hell he’s saying.
  83. I used to play the song over and over again on my mom’s record player when I was a tween.
  84. Yes, I remember record players. And Eight Tracks.
  85. I cry very easily.
  86. I hate trying on clothes because I’m not a fan of my body.
  87. I’m overweight.
  88. If I had a wish from a genie, it would be to make me love to exercise and eat vegetables.
  89. I don’t like to exercise or eat vegetables.
  90. I hate sweating or being too hot.
  91. I force myself to eat vegetables.
  92. I’m gifted with the ability of spatial recognition. So if I’m at a store and I’m looking for a piece of furniture, I can eyeball it and know whether it will fit in the space I want to put it in.
  93. I like puzzles.
  94. I suffer from depression and anxiety.
  95. Sometimes my anxiety makes me uncomfortable leaving my house.
  96. I love Xanax.
  97. I need alone time to recharge.
  98. My favorite season is autumn.
  99. I always sleep best when its raining.
  100. I hate big government.
  101. I can easily pass up desserts like donuts, cake, brownies or ice cream, but chocolate candy? Never!
  102. I bite and pick at my nails. (It drives my husband crazy.)
  103. I’ve written 103 things about myself, but still feel like you couldn’t possibly know me just from reading this.

Pajama Mama

I’ve decided to be a little more serious about my blogging. So I thought I’d go read a bunch of other blogs to get inspired and maybe pick up some tips. I’m not sure if I’ve learned anything, but I do have some questions.

What’s with the fake names for your kids? I don’t know who T-Puzzler is or Prettybaby and I guess I just don’t care. Or are you cruel and you’ve named your kid something along the lines of Moonunit or Pilot Inspektor? (Come on Jason, you are so funny and I love your movies, but really? Pilot Inspektor?) Because if that’s the case, then, okay you are really using their names. But I don’t understand the need for the fake names. Wasn’t it hard enough to think up the first name you gave them? Now I have to come up with a cutesy nickname? Geez Louise, people. I’m going to be here all day trying to come up with fake names for my kids that won’t scar them for life. Should I not use my name either? What are the fake name rules here? Call me Mama, Pajama Mama. (Forgive me, I’ve been feeling completely geek-tastic all week.)

Do you have written stuff in reserves? With all the advice out there about how to become a successful blogger, the one I keep seeing is post something every day. Wow. Other bloggers must be super creative and possibly systematic, regimented people. Because I need to feel inspired to come up with something to write about. I don’t sit down every day and think, hmmm…what can I write about today? and still have the time and presence of mind to actually parent my kids. Maybe I should try to be a little bit more systematic, but the length of the blog posts I’m reading is telling me that other mommy bloggers are really taking some serious amounts of time to write every day. Or do you write a bunch of stuff in advance and then have stuff to post every day?

Do all my blogs have to be lists of something? I don’t actually mind this one. Lists are fun and easy for me. If the answer is yes, I’m going to be so stoked. But I have noticed that all the most popular blogs get the most hits and comments on their list-style posts. I think I need to go sit down and create some more lists.

Do mommy bloggers always have to blog about their kids?  I love my kids, and the entirety of my waking day is spent with them, so I will probably be writing about them the majority of the time. But I think about other things too and sometimes I’m going to want to write about them. It keeps me sane.

If you are a fellow blogger, what one piece of advice would you give Pajama Mama? (ooh, writing in third person feels so cool! Maybe I do like the fake name thing!)

Wordy Wednesdays

Because in my house, there is no such thing as a Wordless Wednesday. Oh, I could post pictures of what we’re doing today on this rainy, cold day in Maine. But that would not accurately portray my life. And I’m nothing if not open and honest about my life.

The only moments of silence in my house are when I am the only one here, or when I am sleeping. Although, my husband does occasionally talk in his sleep and my across-the-street neighbor and his son are into dirt biking. So sometimes it’s not even quiet when I’m trying to sleep. (Did I mention that my dirt biking neighbors have friends that show up in a motor home filled with people who all also have dirt bikes and seem to think its acceptable to ride said bikes before the sun has come up?) Yeah, I don’t get a lot of quiet.

From sibling fights to telling tall tales, reading out loud to answering a million questions a day, I would say that all my days are pretty wordy. My daughter has been very interested in how babies are made. Understandable since her auntie just had a new baby and two of her friends at school have welcomed new siblings since the beginning of the year. So when she has asked me in the past, Mom, how does the baby get in the mommy’s belly? I always answer, God put the baby there. End of story. That always stops the questions. But then my husband has to go and throw a wrench into this perfect answer. We live a very short walking distance to a horse farm. A horse breeding farm to be exact. While Caylie and her dad were watching the newly born foals being all cute and awkward on their spindly legs, Caylie turns to Mike and says, So God makes baby horses, right? And Mike, answers her with, Well, technically, horses make horses. Thanks a lot, Mike! Because Caylie thought about that one for a while and then turns to him and says, So does that mean that people make people? Mike, Yep. Now, I keep getting asked, How do they do that? How does the baby get in there? I’ve tried the seed growing in a garden metaphor but my very clever 5 year-old merely comes back with, but how does the seed get in there?

My son, thankfully, is more interested in his new baby cousin’s umbilical cord. Yes, you read that right. I swear I need a degree in how to answer my kids’ questions! Upon seeing the new baby, Chase immediately pointed to his belly button and yells, What is that? Poop? So I tried to explain the umbilical cord. Good luck to me. Chase finds this new information fascinating and can’t stop asking me about it.

This Wordy Wednesday has been no different from any other wordy day this week. After spending an hour cajoling my daughter to get dressed, brush her hair and brush her teeth, we left the house with me already exhausted and Caylie wearing clothes, with her hair in a mess and bad breath. Chase barraged me with questions about baby Paul and his cord and how does food actually go through it while Caylie interrupted by telling Chase she was looking out his window. A fight over who can look out which window ensued until I finally got to the school. What a long 8 minutes it was.

It is now 3 o’clock. I’m all worded out. So here’s my daily dose of whining. Hope you have a better Wordless Wednesday than I did!

Apocalypse with Children?

My latest obsession is reading post-apocalyptic fiction. You would think, with all the books I’ve read on the subject, that I would be an expert on how to survive the apocalypse. I’ve realized that I’m sadly lacking in preparedness for this event. And surviving with kids? I need to get my butt in gear. This one’s a toughie!

1. I need emergency rations. Whether it is from a plague, environmental collapse, a cataclysmic event from space/nuclear weapons, a zombie outbreak or alien invasion, the one thing I’m sure of is that everyone needs to eat. And I’m not talking about the zombies here. We need a stockpile of non-perishable food. And fresh water. Since the water that comes out of my tap is practically Poland Springs (Maine is awesome) I’ll need to start bottling it. I wonder if my kids will eat MREs? Since my kids complain about everything else I make that is not a chicken nugget, I’m sure meal times will be just as pleasant after the world has ended. Remind me to ask for a food dehydrator for Christmas.

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2. Can someone teach me how to hunt and field dress small animals? Hunting for fresh meat seems to be a big trend in post-apocalyptic plots. So I need to start Googling how to make snares to catch small game. I figure we can probably survive for a year on the fat squirrels in my yard alone. The kids can collect the acorns to bait the snares. I’ll tell them the acorns are for the fairies’ inventions. It’s how I got them to pick up the acorns last fall. It should work again, right?

3. I need an underground shelter. Every time I watch an episode of The Walking Dead, I think, “If only they had an underground bunker! The walkers would never get them in there.” (No one better say anything here about WD Season 3! If you spoil it for me before I watch the entire season when it comes out on DVD, I will find you. I will.) I read on grist.org that some developer is building and selling underground luxury condos in case of a doomsday event. Maybe when I’m a zillionaire, I’ll get one of those. Until then, I think I’ll break out the kids’ beach shovels and the kids and I will start digging in the backyard.

4. I need to be able to make useful items out of junk. This sounds like a craft project to me! Maybe the kids and I should head over to the dump and see what kind of life-saving useful inventions we can create with people’s old appliances. I’ll have to see what ideas I can find on Pinterest. DIY Doomsday Crafts? I’m making a new board now!

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5. I need a weapon. How else can I properly protect my littles from hostile invaders? Personally, I think I’ll do a Daryl and shoot a crossbow. No bullets to run out of and I’m sure that after the kids and I turn an old oven into a communications device that making some extra arrows will be a walk in the park! Or, in keeping with my daughter’s latest defense, I could just strew a bunch of Barbie shoes and crowns all over the ground to incapacitate any would-be personal space invaders.

6. I need to study botany/emergency medicine/canning. What plants can we eat? How do I keep zombie bites from getting infected? And how the hell can I save these fresh berries for the winter season?

7. I need to start running again. I’ve always said, I only run when chased. Well, if I have to outrun a zombie hoard intent on consuming my plump, plump flesh… I’ll be zombie chow. Guess I need to start training. Mike runs all the time, so he can strap our 50 pound 5 year-old to his back. I’ll take the 35 pound 3 year-old. Did I get rid of our jogging stroller? I tell Mike all the time, you never know when you might re-use something. He calls me a hoarder. I call me a realist.

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Full Nest Syndrome

My husband and I were chatting it up last night about all the things we want to do when the kids move out. Since my kids are 5 and 3, I think we have a pretty long wait in store for us. And I secretly hope that my son never moves out. But don’t tell Mike that. I’m sure I’ll change my mind once the teenage years hit. Here’s what we came up with:

Go to the movies. This may sound dumb since there are inventions like the DVR out there, digital cable with a bizillion channels, satellite TV, streaming video and all that jazz. We’re not big TV watchers. We don’t have cable. We don’t own a DVR or have satellite TV. We have Netflix and even then, we only watch one 40 minute show maybe 3 or 4 times a week. There is just something about sitting in the movie theater, watching it on the big screen. I still try to convince Mike to make out with me in the back of the theater, but he gets embarrassed and tells me he’s too old for that. Whatevs, I’m 2 years older than him and I hope I never feel too old to make out! The new Star Trek movie came out this week and we live less than 5 minutes away from the second oldest (still operating) drive-in in the country. Hence, the desire to go to the movies. And while some may stuff their kids into the backseat and take them along, we don’t roll like that. My kids can’t handle a PG-13 movie. And the whole point is to go do something without them. Unfortunately, we don’t know any teenagers to call at the last minute to babysit. And we don’t have the extra money for it either. Do you know what babysitters charge these days?!

Travel (aka Take a Vacation). Traveling with young children sucks. It does. If you have traveled with your kids and you think it was easy and do it all the time, well, good for you. You’re either a liar, medicated beyond the point of caring or you have the best behaved kids in the whole world. No matter the reason, I hate you. My kids do not travel particularly well. They can’t stand to be still for very long. The longest trip we have taken since having our second child is a 7 hour car drive to visit my parents in PA. We make the trip once a year. Then we spend the next 11 months recovering. My husband is from San Diego and we haven’t been out there in 5 years. One, because its too expensive to buy 4 plane tickets, rent a car, get a hotel for a week, etc. and two, because the idea of being on a plane/in the airport for 8 to 10 hours with my wound-up kids gives me hives.

Browse. This one is mine. Last month, my friend Heather drove up from MA to hang out for a few days. I asked friends to babysit while Mike was at work and for the first time, I went out without my husband on a non-anniversary non-holiday to do something non-doctor appointment related – just for me. It felt weird. Heather and I spent the first whole day shopping. And browsing. I had forgotten what that was like since nowadays I only go to a store if I have a list of the things I need. And then proceed to purchase said things as quickly as possible before the whining and/or the “I’m bored” phrase rears its ugly head. I don’t just walk around a store and look at things anymore. It was so nice. I’m tempted to add some more o’es to the word so, but I’ll add some extra exclamation points instead!!!

Eat at nice restaurants. Cause let’s face it, you don’t take your kids to fancy places to eat out. You want to enjoy your meal. You want to enjoy the atmosphere. You want to have a nice conversation without being interrupted or having to pick a fork off the floor 100 times or dodging greasy little ketchupy hands that are sure to land directly on the front of your nice new blouse that you only wore because you’re eating somewhere that uses fabric napkins.

These things seem so simple as I re-read them. And I’m sure as my kids get older, we’ll be able to do these things as a family without me having to take a Xanax. But until then, I’m just going to look forward to it. And try to find some cheap babysitters.