Posts Tagged ‘thegrillinfool’

Mama Said There’d be Days Like This

Today was picture day. Now before you get all concerned that my kids showed up at school in white polos already stained with chocolate milk and week-old bedhead, rest assured, I remembered. As a matter of fact, everyone was up at 6am, in the shower, had a delicious breakfast poured right out of the cardboard box with love and in the car with time to spare. I gave my final farewells and watched my handsome boys frolic into school not a care in the world. I also saw several of their classmates headed into the building holding picture order forms. The same order forms that were sitting in the basket of papers that I had no intention of looking at for at least six months. $h!+!!!

Living in a Jack Butler world of North to pick up and South to drop off, there was no turning around, so I had to head down the street and make a U-Turn. Upon my return, the parking lot was full and there was no way for me to sneak in and out without anyone noticing. Instead, I got to take Handsome #3 and Darling, still in her pajamas, through the obstacle course of senior citizens sure not to miss the early bird parking for 8:15 mass and the throngs of parents who couldn’t wait for their arguing children to finally get out of the damn car! We made it through to the school office where I grabbed the envelopes ready to place my order when I saw that they only take checks. Since I had just forged my husband’s signature on the last check from the book at soccer uniform pick up, that wasn’t an option. Instead, I had to take the walk of shame, envelope in hand, with my disheveled children and order my prints online. Thankfully, that part went off without a hitch.

Handsome #3’s school day starts 45 minutes after his older brothers’. We have a daily ritual that includes him refusing to eat the breakfast that I have just prepared, crying that he hates school and an absolute refusal to let me help with any shoes or buttons. We live less than five minutes from preschool and we are late every.single.day. Once we get there it’s all smiles and high fives and how are you friends? His performance at home and the entire way there should garner him a daytime Emmy.

We walked Handsome #3 to class, but there was no time to dawdle. Darling and I were in a hurry this morning. As I mentioned, it was picture day and Handsome #2 really wanted to wear his favorite black glasses. One slight problem, they were broken. I promised him that I would go to Lens Crafters first thing and get those quality crafted specs back to school in an hour, before he saw the photographer. Darling was strapped in, my coffee was still hot and we were right on time to be waiting at the door when the store opened. I put the key in the ignition a little sputtering, a few lights flickering on the dash, but the engine would not turn. Perfect. I called AAA and they said it would be 30-45 minutes before the technician would arrive. Even more perfect.

Darling was done being strapped into her carseat about 45 seconds into our stranded state, so out she went ready to explore the front seat. She did a dandy job pushing every button, pulling every knob, finding my secret stash of tampons, gum and expired insurance cards. By the time she was finished it looked like a tornado had ripped through the front seat. The AAA man finally showed up, replaced the battery and $129 later, we were on our way.

Due to our little bump in the road, there was no way I was getting to school on time, but I figured I’d get the glasses taken care of as long as I was out. Handsome #2 loved those glasses. They were his first pair and he was super excited to get them back. Well he would have been excited, except that they’re discontinued and unavailable in the state of Missouri. Excellent! Mr. Extremely patient Lens Crafters Man, who wanted to kick me through the window after 30 minutes of total indecision about new frames, and I picked out a perfect new pair. They whipped those puppies up in no time and we were on our way.

I had just a few minutes before picking up Handsome #3, so I decided to run into Aldi to grab a few essentials. One thing on my list that I have be meaning to get the last 10 trips is that $.39 container of salt. Remember that, it’ll come back to haunt me in the later rounds. There was a child losing its ever loving mind somewhere in the store, I never saw it, but the whole city could hear it. Thankful it wasn’t mine, I said a quick Hail Mary for the poor mother and headed out. Once again, we were back on track ready to get Handsome #3 from school.

Handsome #3 was beaming at dismissal, happy to see his sister and me. “He had a great day, ” called his teacher. Of course he did, he only puts on the spitting pea soup show for me. We got home, had lunch, watched a little Elmo and were all just ready to relax for a minute. It was peaceful and happy and serene. Like the perfect little family in an antidepressants ad.

Since the morning was such a train wreck, I figured it could only go up, so I got creative. Sometimes I like to think that I’m June cleaver in a modest polka dot dress with a half apron and plastic-covered furniture. Today was one of those days and I decided to take my stay-at-home mom game to the next level. Oh the boys would just love a pumpkin bundt cake as an after school surprise, wouldn’t they? Of course they would, I’ll just whip one right up!

I got out my pan, I preheated my oven, pulled out the 800-lb-Kitchenaid and gathered my ingredients. I opened the cabinet to grab my sugar and flour canisters when that $.39 salt appeared, clearly unhappy with its new accommodations. In what can only be described as a suicide attempt, the salt took a free fall directly into my face. Caught completely off guard by the incredible pain throbbing in my nose, I dropped the freshly-filled with 5 pounds of sugar container that subsequently broke into 6,000 pieces the second it hit the granite. I would have taken a picture, but I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of any of the 4,656,000 sugar granules that dispersed themselves throughout my entire kitchen if they didn’t make the shot.

I was on the verge of tears when Handsome #3 ever so kindly distracted me.

“Mom! Darling pooped and she stinks so, so bad!”

I changed the diaper, put her down for a nap and came down to survey the damage. It was bad. I was defeated. Handsome #3 went to watch a show, Darling was sleeping and I needed my favorite rap playlist and a Diet Coke. I took a deep breath and tried to put things into perspective. I am thankful for my four beautiful children and a loving husband, who works his butt off, so that I can have these $h!++y days at home with our kids. I rolled my sleeves up, turned the speakers on high and got to work. “Hot n Herre” on my lips, I scrubbed the cabinets, the floors and the counters, and suddenly caught my reflection in the mirror and thought, Damn! I think my butt gettin’ big……..

My Barbies Taught Me How to be a Good Mom


When I was a kid I played with my Barbie dolls every day. I had Barbie and the Rockers, California Dream Barbie, I even had those knockoff Maxie Dolls. I was a Barbie Girl living in a Barbie world long before Aqua came around. My Barbies all lived in the Dream House and dated the New Kids on the Block and Michael Jackson, who were way cooler than Ken. I spent so much time with my Barbies that by the time I had children, I considered myself prepared for all kinds of things. As a matter of fact, Barbies taught me so many lessons I never even cracked a single What to Expect about anything book.

First and foremost I think we can all agree that you should not cut your children’s hair, right? This one is a given. We all took our Fiskars to that beloved blonde hair and thought for sure that she would end up with a chic bob afterward. Instead, Barbie was forever taking the walk of shame with a lop-sided reverse mullet. The same lesson applies to kids. Unless you have a license with your picture on it, your sweet little child does not deserve the psychological torture that comes from taking a whack at her bangs with safety scissors. We all remember that girl in the year book with the hat on because her mother was sure she could save $8, God bless her.

Let’s move on to number two, don’t leave your children unattended on the floor. Your mother always told you not to leave your dolls laying out when you left the room or the dog would eat them. No, I don’t think the dog will eat the baby, but the baby sure as hell will eat anything off of the floor if you’re not looking. I have screamed in slow motion watching my daughter eat the most minuscule speck of leftover wood chip that remained on the hearth from the winter gone by. I turned my back for one second and she was eating the most organic meal ever prepared in our house. Just like my mother said, we should always pack up our things, dolls and babies, and take them where they are out of harm’s way.

Next, we need to be super careful when we are dressing our children. Barbies came in two varieties, the ones with the smooth legs who could wear anything and the kind with the rubber legs that took forever to dress. So much time was spent pulling and stretching that half of my Barbies’ wardrobes went from high 80s fashion to trashy street wear in a single, way too hard tug. This is the same with a toddler who is lanky and one with a little more fluff. Don’t bother trying to stuff a 25lb one-year-old into some skinny jeans. Give that little girl some stretchy leggings and let her breathe! If you insist of having a mini fashionista on your hands, you’ll just end up pulling too hard, stuff will get ripped, and there will be lots of tears.

Let’s move on to the shoes, shall we? Barbie was loaded with heels, boots, and occasionally a pair of sneakers. Sometimes those shoes just didn’t fit right, causing you to jam them on leaving her feet to stick out kind of funny. A lot of times it was simpler just to throw them on the wrong foot. Have you ever fought with a three-year-old over just about anything when you are 20 minutes late? There is nothing better than talking to a child with his shirt on backwards, his pants inside out and his shoes on the wrong feet when you are headed to mass where you will certainly be judged by every old bitty in the church. No matter how prepared you may be to talk him out of his questionable attire with reverse psychology and bribery, it is a battle of will and more often than not, you are going to lose. Do yourself a favor and throw those Crocs on the wrong feet and the whole family is happy.

Remember when your Barbie’s head popped off and you totally freaked out for a millisecond but then remembered you could just put it back on? Apply that same logic with your kids. If their head pops off, just stick it back on. You know when I say head, I totally mean hat, right? If your kid’s hat falls off, just put the darn thing back on and keep moving. There is absolutely no need to have a complete and total mental breakdown about something that is fixable. We all spend too much time focusing on perfection for ourselves and our kids that we lose sight of the big picture. It will really all be OK even if your family isn’t a Norman Rockwell painting.

Sometimes the best listeners are those who remain silent. I encourage you to keep talking to your children even if they don’t talk back. I had more conversations about important things with my dolls than I have ever had with my husband. Granted he rarely listens to what I say anyway, but I don’t want to take a chance and let anything important slip. That’s why I tell my baby about my new shoes or the dress that I hid in the closet when my husband wasn’t looking. My son was 14 months old and the first one who knew I was pregnant with his brother. It is nice to share the most salacious secrets with your best friend who will never tell a soul.

And finally, love them more than anything. My Barbie dolls were my favorite toy growing up. I never wanted to let them go. But, I got older and it was time to put them away. No matter how old I get, they will always be a special part of me and hold some of my most precious memories.  I know that as my kids get older they will begin to outgrow me, too. Even if they don’t want me to, I will always clothe them, protect them, talk to them, and cherish them just as I did my dolls. But I promise I will never do to them what I did to poor Swedish Barbie’s flowing locks…..ever…..

I Want to Hold Your Hand

I was sitting at the kitchen table talking to my mom when my nearly nine-year-old placed himself on my lap.

“What’s wrong, bud?” I asked.

“Nothing, I just wanted you to hold me,” he responded as he leaned back and rested his head on my shoulder.

I automatically assumed that he felt bad or was starting to feel bad or thought he might feel bad, because this just never happens anymore. My baby, my first born, my Handsome #1, the boy who made me a mom, is beginning to outgrow me. He has friends and interests that I am no longer dictating. And in all reality, that makes things a bit easier. Often my attention is diverted in many other directions. He is the oldest of four with three younger siblings ranging in age from seven all the way down to a year. To say that my focus tends to be stolen by others is an understatement.

For the first two years of his life, it was us against the world. We would sing, dance, and play all day long. His white blonde hair and piercing blue eyes lit up the room. He was a very early talker and would readily strike up a conversation with any stranger that caught his glance. His playful grin and irresistible charm had me wrapped around his finger from the word go.

As our family grew larger, my focus shifted to the new babies as they arrived and he became my greatest helper. Being the oldest is a birth position that I share and completely understand. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being first. You have to set the example, you have to behave, and you have to be the one who grows up while everyone else gets to be little. That growing up happens so fast and before a mom knows it; her baby is not a baby, nor a big boy trying to get even bigger. He becomes a young man in a blink.

It use to be that I could pick him up and carry him up the stairs without a second thought. Today it would be a struggle, but one I would happily challenge myself with if he asked. Sometimes, I catch a look at his profile and see the same pointed nose that he had as a newborn baby. As he has grown, his chin has become more chiseled and his cheeks a bit thinner, but his eyelashes are still any model’s dream. If I brush his hair away from his forehead I can still see him lying in a crib.

Sometimes when he doesn’t even know it, he will grab my hand in a store and I get a little lump in my throat. I realize that time is fleeting and I want to hold on tightly for as long as I can. All too quickly he can feel my grip tighten and he is gone running down the aisle laughing, smiling, and carrying on the way that a nine-year-old boy does.

Bedtime routines have transformed from singing songs, reading books, saying prayers, and more hugs and kisses than I could count to a quick, goodnight and a, “Can you please close the door?” That little boy who wanted me to read his favorite book just one more time is now reading novels on his own. Occasionally he will ask me to stay and tell him a story. He likes to hear about when I was a kid and funny things about his grandparents. He will lay on his belly and let me rub his back as I talk. I take full advantage and even sneak in a kiss or a snuggle before he asks me to leave.

He no longer wants my help getting dressed and locks the bathroom door for added privacy. He has never been a high-maintenance kid, but there has recently been a shift in what he cares about. Brand names are important and so is his hair. He comes into my bathroom in the morning and asks me to style it for him. I breathe in his little boy smell and stare at him in the mirror. I quickly turn my head as the tears begin to well so that he doesn’t notice and grumble, “Mom! Please stop.”

As he begins to exert more and more independence, I am taxed with ensuring the he is making the right decisions. We are still in the, be nice to your siblings and don’t say bad words, phase. We talk about being kind, loving, and faithful. I reiterate that we should only treat others the way that we want to be treated. Soon our talks will transform to more serious subject matter like alcohol, drugs, and sex. It is mind boggling to me that I even have to consider these conversations, but the world that we live in necessitates the seriousness of our discussions because kids are facing adult choices entirely too young.

I want him to continue to love Minecraft and Transformers. I want his imagination to run wild about wizards and faraway lands. I pray that he will always come to me with his fears and concerns and not ever be too embarrassed to talk to me. I know that I can’t keep him little, and I don’t want to. He needs to explore every bit of the world that he can. But while he still wants me around and finds comfort in my arms, I will keep him close and safe and protected. Who am I kidding? If he wants me to hold his hand when he is 35, I’ll do it. By then, I will be well into my sixties and will likely be looking for a little help from his younger and stronger arm. I have no doubt he will extend it with a smile. But until then, I will hold his hand tightly and he will hold my heart.

My Mom’s Original Gangster Parenting Hacks Would Never Fly Today

My kids are coddled like every other child on the planet. They get participation trophies. They have gigantic water bottles so that they won’t ever dehydrate. They get stickers at Target for being in the cart, even though their behavior is so deplorable I often threaten to leave a few behind. That is the way of our world. We as parents have become soft. The second you attempt to assert tough love you are labeled an a-hole parent by the rest of the pearl-clutching mothers at pick up.

We thirty-something moms were raised by a different pack of wolves. If we didn’t follow the rules, it wasn’t about a gentle consequence like losing a marble from the good girl jar. Our parents pulled out the big guns. Today’s sweet and loving Grannies and Grandpas, whose grand babies can do no wrong, were not kidding around thirty years ago. They taught us lessons that we will never forget.

I am a mother of three boys and one girl, a mirror image of the family that I grew up in. Having four kids is often chaotic, but I guess because I am from a large family it isn’t the ginormous challenge that the world assumes it is. Having said that, I certainly have my fair share of, “What in the world have I gotten myself into?” days. But when I am at my worst, it is comforting to know that my mom was in the exact same place and somehow she made it through. I will often reflect on my own childhood experiences and think how lucky I was to have been raised in a loving family in the 1980s because if I pulled any of my parents’ OG child-rearing hacks today, I’d be in jail. Or at the very least, the confessional…..

Clean up, or else

Today’s child has a chore chart on the wall outlining their daily responsibilities with a corresponding magnet that they can move from one side to the other so as to earn their daily sticker and, ultimately, a prize at the end of the week. In the 1980s you had the, “I swear to God if you don’t clean up this room, I am throwing all of your crap out the window,” method. Parents didn’t just threaten, they followed through. The entire contents of my brothers’ bedroom went flying from a second story window and when my mom said she wouldn’t pick one thing up, she meant it. No,the family’s dirty little secret was never shared with anyone; but the lesson was learned and nothing took flight again. Today, the neighbors would whip out their iPhones to capture video, post it on Facebook and my mom would end up on Dr. Phil defending her boot camp-style parenting.

If you want to leave, go

If a child today threatened to run away, parents would have a mental breakdown. Why are you unhappy? What can I do better? Is there something that we can do to improve your living conditions? When I was a kid if you wanted to move out, your mother would help you pack. As a matter of fact, if you were lucky, she’d grab the gigantic Samsonite from the basement. There were no wheels of course, but it was nice and hard and made a great seat when you needed a rest. She’d pack up all of your clothes, something fancy for church on Sunday, perhaps a swimming suit in the summer, and you’d be on your way. It’s unlikely that you’d make it too far past the front stoop carrying all of your worldly possessions. However, you’d have plenty of time to think the plan through, just as your mother had intended.

You will eat this or starve

If you were a kid in the 1980s you probably had the pleasure of culinary delights like Chicken Tonight, Manwich or if it was a special occasion Bagel Bites and Totino’s Pizza Rolls. No matter what was placed on the table, that was the only option. No one was concerned that you didn’t like the way it looked, smelled or how it felt in your mouth. Dinner was served. And if you were hungry, you would eat it. If you refused, you would be forced to sit with your cold chicken and dumplings, under dimmed lighting, while the rest of the family went to watch ALF without you. If you didn’t eat said dumplings, there would be no other food offered until breakfast. You would legit go to bed hungry and live to tell the tale the next day

Do as I say, not as I do

Going out to dinner was a luxury when I was a kid. Sure there were plenty of fast food joints with outdoor play places that caused permanent scarring from their metal joy rides, but a sit-down meal was a treat. When dining out, party manners were expected, and so help me God; you had better never let anyone know how old you were. Even if it meant keeping your coat on for the entire meal to hide your blossoming chest or ducking down really low in your seat, under no circumstances should the establishment ever question whether or not you were 10 and under. There was no kids eat free with an eligible adult in the good old days. Everyone had to pay their own way, but fathers in the know had a plan. Children were prepped in the car. You are never older than the age limit for a kid’s meal. Is that clear? You will graciously accept a kid’s menu. Do you understand? Only water and soda have free refills. Don’t even think about ordering chocolate milk. Got it? Once you were clearly too old, your father became “Mr. I look so young for my old age” and would start ordering off the senior citizen’s menu to balance things out.

Don’t make me turn this car around

Vacation was a time for the whole family to pack into the station wagon and hit the open road while your mom yelled directions from that, “damn Rand McNally,” she could never fold, while your dad took long angry drags from his Salems. There were no five point harness personal utopia’s containing tablets preloaded with educational videos and apps. You played the license plate game and beat the hell out of one another for a window seat. You’d hope for a quick nap in the car before you checked in to the hotel and spent the next six nights sharing a double bed with all five of your siblings. Vacation came with no itinerary, no day trips or jaunts. Your trip consisted of the hotel pool, third-degree sunburns, bee stings and you cried when you left because you couldn’t wait for next summer.

It was a simpler time with fewer distractions. Families were big and weird and so many of them were unbelievably happy. And aside from that one summer when my brother fell from the brand new swing set and probably broke his foot, but we’ll never know because it was the 4th of July and no one was going to the ER because, “it would be loaded with idiots who’d burned themselves with firecrackers!” I think that my parents and the rest of the neighborhood moms and dads were really on to something…….

Guess What kids? It’s not my fault!

kidsYour baseball uniform is still damp because I forgot to put it in the dryer last night. It’s time to go so I hang it out the car window on the highway for a little line dry action, that is my fault. You have to take your lunch in a plastic shopping bag from Target instead of brown bagging it because I didn’t buy them on my last trip, you can blame that on me. Your oatmeal mixed with paprika instead of cinnamon, I am responsible for that. I will not; however, take credit for any of this.

You are exhausted

“Well, mom, if you just put us to bed on time I wouldn’t be this angry and crying every morning!” Oh my little Handsome, how quickly you forget that I sent you to bed on time last night, and every other night of your whole life because when the witching hour arrives I am ready to jump out the window. You decided to laugh and wrestle and do everything else you weren’t supposed to be doing with your brother for an hour and a half while I yelled from my bedroom to go to sleep. You didn’t listen. Not my fault.

You are covered in something

“Mom, I have toothpaste all over the back of my neck!”  Well, when you insist on sitting on the toilet in the downstairs half bath, even though there are three other bathrooms in the house, while your brothers are also brushing their teeth in said bathroom towering over you because, why would we ever not be together in the smallest bathroom in the house? Someone is probably going to spit on you. Not my fault.

You can’t find your shoes

“The last time I wore them, I put them away.” Your Grandpa loved to use this one on your uncles and me when we were kids. It’s my favorite. I share this little tidbit with you every single time you can’t find your Nikes. They are supposed to go by the front door so that we can avoid being 15 minutes late, instead of our traditional ten. Of course, you ignore me and throw one upstairs the other in the basement and have no memory of either. Now you’re wearing penny loafers and gym shorts to Mass. Not my fault.

You are starving

“Um, what is that? It looks basgusting.” My cooking may not be on par with Julia Child, but give me a break! I can crack open and thoughtfully prepare that jar of Ragu that you asked  for a mere 30 minutes ago. The fact that you have decided that anything red will induce vomiting and there is absolutely no way in hell you will touch the fork that I put in the bowl instead of on the table takes crazy to a level that I am not prepared to deal with. Not my fault.

You are not ready for bed

At the end of the day you need a drink of water, another hug, one more kiss and a short story. Bedtime is here and you need to go to sleep. And even when I am the most tired that I have ever been, there is nothing like little hands on my face and little lips whispering, “Goodnight, mom. I love you.” I don’t want these days of you needing and wanting and loving me more than anyone to end. So, I indulge those last little requests because from the moment you were born, you stole my heart. Not my fault.

8 High Hopes I Have for My Girl

Handsome #3 stood on the deck in nothing but his Underoos, his chubby little belly protruding and a big smile on his face.

“Look at him. He is so sweet and happy, letting it all hang out, not a care in the world. Can you imagine having that kind of self confidence?” I asked The Grillin’ Fool.

“What do you mean? I do!” He said with a smirk.

He was only half joking. If he didn’t think anyone would call the cops, he’d be on the deck in his underwear too. But instead, he parades around the house in his boxer briefs and a t-shirt with his bird legs dancing and doesn’t think twice. I, on the other hand, feel like I should have on Spanx under my nightgown just in case the door bell rings in the middle of the night.

My husband has no shame when it comes to his body. He’s a forty-something with four kids just trying to make it through the day like every other man supporting a family. He purchases zero self-care items and will use any bottle in the shower. He has never in his life looked at a nutrition label for sugar, fat or calorie information. As long as it doesn’t smell too bad he will wear it. He is so happy in his own skin, that nothing phases him.

I have birthed three sons who are exactly like him. Handsome #1 is thin and lanky. He loves to brush his hair over to the side and lather himself up in body wash. He doesn’t care one bit about what his clothes look like and will let me pick whatever I want from his closet. Handsome #2 is a bit more of a fashionista. He has a very particular opinion about what to put on,and will fight for a win. Even if that means a sweater vest and a pair of athletic shorts. He’ll wear that combination proudly. Handsome #3 has more confidence in his little finger than the rest of them combined. They are precious, perfect little boys and I want to be just like them.

For years, I worried about what would happen if God ever gave me a daughter. How could I possibly set a good example of body image and confidence if that is the one thing that I truly struggle with on a daily basis? For my first seven years as a mom, I parented my three boys knowing that their father would have a profound impact on the type of men they will become, but not worrying that my self image would affect them.

Then a surprise pregnancy brought the biggest surprise of my life, a daughter. I was thrilled beyond thrilled, but equally terrified that I would screw her up. I am the one who she will look to for strength and guidance. She will come to me for advice and help. I will be her example of self confidence and womanhood. I want to do it right.

DMT

Thankfully, she is only a few months old and I have some time to get my act together. Gone are the days of looking in the mirror and listing all of things that I hate about my body and face. The insecurities that have plagued me for years have to die before they begin to rear their ugly face in my daughter’s eyes. When I look at her, I feel inspired to be better. She is innocent and pure and beautiful. She is so beautiful. I never want her to doubt that. I do a lot wrong, don’t we all? But, there are a few things that I have picked up along the way that I hope that she might think are worthwhile nuggets of advice.

1. Laugh- Laugh Loudly and raucously even if you are the only one who gets the joke. Most importantly, laugh at yourself and know that everyone makes mistakes. Make others laugh and know that there is no better medicine. I would also be extremely proud if you were the third generation class clown at a certain all girls Catholic high school, but I will not put unfair pressure on you to be anything that you are not.

2. Fall Hopelessly in Love with a Boy Band- There is nothing better than covering your bedroom walls with pictures of the men that you are certain you will marry one day. I will happily download all of their music, buy crazy expensive tickets and sob with you when you see them in person for the first time. Trust me, you will want to keep your t-shirts, earrings and every overpriced accessory you can even when you think you are over that part of your life. I will gladly help you hoard them, and hide them from your father, so that when your favorite band goes on tour in 20 years, you can squeeze your postpartum body into that shirt and feel like a kid again.

3. Be a Friend- Not just to the cool kids or the popular people, be a friend to everyone who needs it. The shy little girl in the back of the room wants to play in the game too, invite her. Always be the nice girl, not the mean girl. Years from now people will remember the slightest bit of kindness that you have shown them. I’m sure at some point, you will feel the wrath of a mean girl, and it will hurt, but please do your best to be kind, to watch your words and to walk away with a smile on your face, it will make you stronger.

4 . Listen- This is a tough one, because you come from a long line of people who love to talk. But, trust me as much as you may want to speak, wait your turn and let others talk. It isn’t always about what you have to say, sometimes it is about what you don’t say and the time that you take to hear someone else that makes all the difference.

5. Pray-Every single day of your life take a moment to talk to God. Thank Him for what you have, who you are and where you are going. Ask for forgiveness and guidance. Your faith will guide you in life’s most difficult times. When all else fails, close your eyes and whisper, Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in thee. This has gotten several generations of women in our family through tougher times than I could ever imagine.

6. Wear Red Lipstick- Wear bright lips, shabby overalls, plaid high heel shoes, or pink gloves. Your friends may tell you that it is too bright, or too bold, or too much, but if it makes you feel good, do it! If it makes you feel pretty, then wear it, use it and flaunt it often, no matter what it is. You will develop a signature style that screams your name, make sure to scream it back.

7. If You Can’t Do it in Front of Me, Don’t Do It- This isn’t a threat, and it isn’t meant to be scary, it is just something for you to always think about. I learned this from my own mother many, many years ago. And to this day, it still rings true. The older you get, the more time you will spend on your own and you will be faced with challenges and choices to do things that you may not feel right about. If you would be comfortable doing it in front of me, you are golden. If not, it’s probably not the best idea.

8. Be Happy With the Skin You Are In- You are not fat, not today, not tomorrow, not ever! You are gorgeous and perfect and exactly as you were meant to be. Don’t ever let anyone dim your sparkle, especially not someone who wants you to fit in to some kind of mold. They aren’t worth your time if they think a single freckle on your nose needs to change.

As I read over my words, it was very clear to me that this advice is just as important to my boys as my girl. All I want is to raise children who are kind, loving and respectful members of society. Each day I try to be a good mom and I realize that parenting will never end, it will never get easier, it will always change. And it is the greatest challenge I have ever accepted as it forces me to set an example and thoughtfully work to be a better person. To my children, I am so grateful and I love you.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What’ca Gonna Do?

I have learned all kinds of things in my last eight years parenting boys. Frogs, bugs and reptiles are a regular part of conversation and I am expected to listen intently and care about the stories being told. Clothing will be filthy by the end of the day and no amount of hand washing, wet wipes or napkins on the lap can prevent it. Boys will beat the crap out of each other one minute and hug it out the next and there are never hard feelings, at all. No matter how much I preach about lifting the seat and aiming, my bathrooms, despite an inordinate amount of bleach and vinegar used, will always have a slight uriney smell. I have come to accept, albeit begrudgingly on the urine thing, all of this. It is a way of life in my house and that house is filled with happy, handsome men….and a couple of girls.

For the most part, my Handsomes are well behaved, have decent manners and do what they are told without much trouble. Sure, they all have their moments, but I can honestly say that I don’t worry too terribly much about how they will act when I am not around. I am not a huge list of rules kind of person either. We have the basics, be kind to one another, don’t talk back, put your dirty laundry in the basket, please don’t pee on your brother while you are both in the tub, all that kind of stuff. But, there is one thing in our house that my sons will unanimously announce as being the ultimate don’t cross mom on this one or she will lose her mind rule. I can handle any of the aforementioned and hand out a quick, knock if off, but when it comes to the Golden Rule in Come on Colleen land, there is no exception.

Picture if you will a lovely breakfast, lunch or dinner table. You are perfectly famished and could eat just about anything. Thankfully, there is a delicious spread before you, the company is equally as divine and you are feeling just delightful! Then, out of the corner of your eye, you spot a man at the table in a tank top. He could be the richest, kindest, funniest and most handsome man on the planet, but the second he lifts his arm to reach for the rolls, you see it. His sweaty, straggly, nasty armpit hair is dancing in the breeze. Pieces of dried deodorant are hanging on like the last bit of snow on a rock after the weather warms up. No matter how hard you try, you can’t look away and now you have completely lost your appetite and are resisting the urge to barf all over the table. Just, me? No, probably not any more…….

Did you get your tickets for the gun show? Nope, no way, not at my table. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. The Handsomes know that they absolutely must have a shirt on when we are eating. Often times they sleep in their underwear so that they can be like their idol, The Grillin’ Fool, who incidentally is the only person in our house with actual armpit hair, and will wander down the steps blurry eyed and half naked. I don’t even have to say anything. A victory in and of itself, I have mastered, “the look” that sends them scurrying in to the laundry room to find coverage.

And before you get all, “But Colleen, Handsome #1, your oldest, is only eight years old, he doesn’t even have peach fuzz in those pits.” I gagged just typing that. No, you are right, he sure doesn’t, but, I wouldn’t hand him a Salem Slim Light and a Budweiser, two of my old favorites back in the days when I was fun, so why let him engage in other risky behaviors that could lead to his mother’s premature passing from gagging on her on vomit at the table later on in life? Just not worth the risk.

This rule is infallible at our home. As a matter of fact, even when I was potty training my youngest boy, opposition was quickly squelched my by eldest.
Me- Boys, you know the rule, you must put on a shirt before breakfast.

Handsome #2- Why? Handsome #3 isn’t even wearing any underwear!

Me- No, he isn’t, but he is also tucked under the table and no one can see that.

Handsome #1- Why are you even arguing with her on this one? You will never win.

Yes. A victory. I won! I won! I won! I felt so validated. They respect me and love me and know that this is important to me and a firm rule in our home. My handsomes are allowing me to mold them into strong, respectful and respectable young men that will make me proud. I was on cloud nine for exactly 11 seconds and then I got this series of pictures from Maurmi. Remember that whole, I don’t really worry about their behavior when I’m not around bologna? Well, well, well, apparently at my house the minute I leave it’s a great big, naked, let your arm pits hang out all over the place buffet……

 

wow

 

They are lucky they are cute…….

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah……Stayin’ Alive…..

“Yep, the test is positive,” the doctor said to me with sad eyes.

OMG, I thought. This is all I need right now. I have four kids and I don’t have time for this! Ugh, no! I am not pregnant, God help us all.  Strep. Handsome #2 tested positive for strep. The nasty little bug that for my children means not only a high fever and sore throat, but we get the added bonus of vomiting….awesome! Perhaps I should have believed him when he said he didn’t feel well.

I cannot go to school today, said Handsome #2, Hooray!

I left the pediatrician’s office to grab Maurmi, Handsome #3 and the baby and headed to the pharmacy to pick up Handsome #2’s prescription. We made it past the checkout line when all of a sudden I heard the horrifying screaming.

“Ouch. Oh. Ouch. I am so hurt. Ahhhhhh! I have too much blood!”

I looked down to see Handsome #3 on the floor and huge droplets of red all over the bright white tile.

“OMG! What happened?” I screamed.

“Maurmi hurt me so bad,” He blubbered as tears poured down his cheeks and blood ran from his finger.

“Colleen! I would never hurt him. OMG, my baby. Never. I would never hurt you.”

Duh.

He got the finger caught in the cart, how, we may never know, and somehow ripped a ginormous piece of skin in the process. I thought that we were headed to the ER, I mean, So.much.blood. I always react well in emergency situations.

“Jesus, mom! OMG. What do we do?”

“Colleen! He is hurt.”

“I realize that. What am I supposed to do?”

“Colleen! He is hurt!”

“What do I do?”

This game of moron who’s on first went on for much longer than it should have, extremely loudly and neither one of us really doing anything. Maurmi took off to grab napkins when a helpful young man in uniform appeared to inform me that they had a first aid kit available in case I needed it. Nice offer, but I needed something immediately as my child was becoming more and more hysterical.

Maurmi returned with her contribution to the ER effort and I ran to the pharmacy area to grab a box of Band Aids, hoping that he would sit still long enough for me to put them on. As I returned to the scene with a box of Paw Patrol bandages, there stood a big man with a walkie talkie acting very important.

“Yep. I’ve got them. I am here. Yep. Blood. There is blood. Yep. Yep. Got it. Bring on the clean up crew.”

By the look on his face, I was certain that there would be a hazmat team approaching soon. Maurmi did her best to wipe up the floor while big red stood there doing a whole lot of nothing.

“Excuse me,” I said trying to get to my baby.

“Ma’am, we have a first aid kit for these kinds of the things.”

This is now the second time that the first aid kit has been offered, but nothing has been produced. Perhaps they wanted me to sign some kind of permission slip, but instead I ripped open the box and started to tend to the wound. Thankfully, my baby boy sat still and I was able to attach the bandages tightly enough to stop the bleeding.

“Oh. Ewe, gross,” Said the walkie talkie man.

Thankfully for him, I bit my tongue and went on about my business. I wanted to get Handsome #2’s medicine and get the heck out there. I headed to the pharmacy, still covered in blood myself and looking like a serial killer, and requested the prescription. Not ready….awesome…. Since the bleeding had stopped and I needed a few more lunchbox items, I pressed on with my shopping.

We wandered through the toy department, the grocery area and the baby section when I noticed that Handsome #3 was starting to act funny. His eyes were drooping and he was nodding off.

“Colleen, what is the matter with him?” Maurmi asked.

“I don’t know. This is really odd, ” I replied.

“My God, did he hit his head? Or is he in shock from the pain?”

“Handsome #3, wake up! Wake up!” I demanded.

“Stop talking to me. Don’t look at me. I am so hurting,” he screamed.

Certain that he had some kind of concussion, again, I started to panic. Maurmi and I stood next to the cart discussing our next course of action, but neither one of us touching him, not wanting to disturb him. Had we reached out to comfort him, perhaps we could have saved the conspiracy theories and realized a few minutes sooner that he was hotter than a firecracker. God help us, another one bites the dust. Strep is ugly and mean and contagious as hell!

Thankfully he had tried to amputate his finger a few minutes earlier and we were still at the store so that I could call the pediatrician and get his medicine called in before I left. I checked in at the pharmacy to make sure they had received the new order and grabbed Handsome #2’s medicine and gave him a dose right there in the store. The sooner we attack the bug, the better, right? Ten minutes later, Handsome #3’s medicine was ready, so I dosed him up too and we headed to the cafe for a quick drink and a pretzel.


The fever had taken its toll on my buddy and he had enough trauma for the day, so we headed home to get everyone comfortable and in bed. As I unloaded my bags to put away the groceries I found that I was one bottle short. Handsome #2’s medicine was somehow left at the store. Come on! Seriously?!?!!?

I waited until the Grillin’ Fool got back from work before I headed back to the store, with Maurmi of course, to pick up the newly ordered medicine because no one could find it in the store. Maurmi looked through every cart.


We retraced our steps, searched the aisles and shelves, but it was nowhere to be found. I returned to the pharmacy for the third time and promised not to lose it, even putting it in my mother’s purse to ensure it would stay with me.

As we left the store to head home, we walked past the scene of the crime and noticed there was still a bit of blood left. Interestingly, the large fella with the walkie talkie was also still there, still hooked up to the walkie….Having a snack…..

 

If only I had Listened to My Mother………

ltyn

I love to write. Love it. Love it. Love it. I truly believe in the fact that God gives each of us very specific gifts and talents that He wants us to use. He happened to make me a pretty good storyteller, a talent that I certainly inherited from my mother, and I chronicle those stories on Facebook and here on my blog. I have often been told to write a book by friends and followers and nearly daily by my mother. They tell me how much they love my stories and would absolutely buy my book and share it with their own friends and family. This is where my crippling fear takes over. This is when my complete and total lack of self confidence comes in to play and I immediately second guess myself and want to run and hide. Surprised? Don’t be. That’s the real me.

I know that I make you laugh. I know that I have made you cry. I know that I have made many of you feel better about yourselves by living vicariously through my misadventures. Throughout my journey on this site, social media and sharing my life with you, it has always been easy for me to hit post and then hide. While I know many of you personally, I don’t interact with you face to face very often. I love to read your comments and reactions, but if you see me in person, you will often find that I become very embarrassed by the attention. I have a total and complete lack of self confidence that has plagued me my entire life. This may come as a surprise because I put on quite a show, but the fact of the matter is, I always feel like I am just shy of being good enough.

Recently, I took a plunge, a leap of faith. And I did it in complete and total secrecy. I had read about the Listen to Your Mother Show on Facebook the last couple of years and thought that it was an amazing opportunity. I envied the storytellers with their confidence and moxie. I just didn’t have it. I stalked the website and knew exactly what it entailed, but I never could pull the trigger. The procedure was simple enough. All I had to do was submit a story about motherhood, that I had written, to a panel to be reviewed. If they liked it, I would be called to read my story at a live audition. Certainly I would never really be called upon to audition, so what is the harm in sending an email?

For those of you thinking, wait a minute, aren’t you the same person who was in like 100 plays in your lifetime, often playing pretty big roles? Yep. Why in the world would this be a problem for you? True, I have had a life-long love affair with the stage. I have never had a problem speaking in front of a crowd. I haven’t gotten particularly nervous, it has always come naturally. But never in my life have I actually presented my own work. Something that came from inside of me. Something that I was allowing total strangers to read and then decide whether or not they thought it was good enough. The thought was truly terrifying.

I didn’t dare run it by Maurmi or The Grillin’ Fool because I knew that they would instantly encourage me, which would make me even more uncomfortable and resistant. Instead, I penned a tale about a truly stand out memory from my own childhood that depicts exactly the kind of mother I want to be and I hit send. Not expecting to hear a thing. A few weeks went by and then this………..

“CONGRATULATIONS!!!! We are thrilled to inform you that YOU have been selected to AUDITION your written submission piece for Listen To Your Mother, St. Louis!”

Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph! They wanted me to read. They wanted me to tell my story in person. They wanted me to audition….at 37 weeks pregnant…..this would be no problem…..no problem at all?!?!?!?! I could no longer keep it to myself, so I shared my excitement with my mother, who sadly was attending the funeral of Justice Antonin Scalia, in her kitchen, at the time and may have been caught a bit off guard.

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Once it hit her, she was thrilled and encouraging and insistent that I follow through. I scheduled my audition and promised that she could come along if she swore on her life that she wouldn’t say a word. I didn’t want her telling anyone because I was certain that it would be a bust and I didn’t want to not be chosen and have to explain it to anyone. Plus, since the story was about her and what may or may not have been, probably was, a total nervous breakdown during her mid thirties, I thought it only fair that she hear it first hand.

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We arrived at the auditorium, I signed in and was immediately taken in to read. I hadn’t been to an audition since college, but it just felt right. Despite the fact that I was reading my own words, I felt comfortable. I felt happy. I was at home.The producers laughed and they cried and they clapped. For the first time in a very long time, I felt really, really good about what I had done.

I walked out with my head held high truly believing that no matter what happened, I had accomplished something big that day. I had a fingernail’s worth of self confidence and it felt great. But I can’t lie, I wanted it. I wanted it badly. I wanted to be a part of the cast to prove to myself that everything that I had been hearing was true. That I am good enough. For the next 10 days I agonized over the silence. I checked my email over, and over, and over again. Nothing……..

I had decided that it was a lost cause that it was time to give up and then the email arrived.

“CONGRATULATIONS!!! We loved your story on “AIRING THE DIRTY LAUNDRY”, and you have been chosen for the cast of the 4th annual Listen to Your Mother St. Louis. Whoo Hoo! We applaud you for having the courage to share your story with us, and you are one of 13 people in the cast this year. We promise, it’s going to be an experience you will never forget!”

I cried. I cried big ugly tears. This is really happening. This is huge. I feel so honored. This has ignited a fire inside of me and I cannot wait to write more stories and to share them with the world. This is all happening because I listened to my mother. I just wish that I would have done it sooner.

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