Four is the new terrible twos

“I’M NOT DOING ANY MORE SCHOOL WORK UNTIL MY BROTHER SITS NEXT TO ME AT THE TABLE!!”

Her little voice pierced my eardrums and grated on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Papers, pencils, and crayons scattered across the floor with a swift move of her fierce little hand. Next, she took aim at the battery for my camera and the charger it was connected to sent that to the floor with a bang.

DSC_3479For the last week, I had been laying my hand against her forehead to see if she was coming down with something, anything, looking for any reason for her Horrid Henry-like behavior. Since no fever was detected next on the list was to call the local Catholic Church to see if they still perform exorcisms in between press conferences to defend their innocence in abuse cases.

She was sitting with her head down on the table, her little feet dangling off the bench, kicking them back and forth as she revved up for her tantrum.

She was wearing the same outfit she’d had on for three days – a long sleeved dress and long pants with a brown leopard pattern. On Saturday she’d fallen asleep before I could negotiate a peaceful ending to the outfit change. On Sunday I knew we’d never make it to church if we stopped to let her pick the ten outfits she normally does before she gets dressed.  I promised myself I’d begin a peaceful settlement when we returned. Negotiations failed and I somehow let it go an extra day. So there she sat, her clothes probably caked to her now, while she started her new tactic of whining instead of verbalizing.

“Your brother is in the bathroom, I can’t make him sit next to you,” I told her, throwing up my hands in exasperation.

“I won’t do work ever, ever again if he doesn’t sit with me!”

I ignored her and went to the kitchen to start cleaning the pan for lunch.

Her brother came down and I asked him to sit with her but now she had worked herself up to a wail, the same wail she’d been sounding for almost a week now – anytime she didn’t get what she wanted, when she wanted, even though half the time she never said what she wanted, but simply cried and whined and kicked her feet.

I burned my hand in the hot water trying to clean out the cast iron pan to make lunch. It made me even grumpier.

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!” my screams were now matching her own and for good measure, I tossed a fork, which bounced off the counter and shattered the McDonald’s collection Garfield class I’d bought for my husband to replace the one he’d had as a child.

Now I was mad at her and myself. It was a standoff of uncontrolled emotions and suddenly I realized I had dropped my emotional maturity to the level of a 4-year old. A 4-year old who was still trying to figure out how to navigate her emotions, while I was 41 and supposed to already have it all figured out. I shouldn’t have a fuse as short as a preschooler and I knew it.

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“Let me hold you,” I told her finally, no longer caring what her original breakdown had been about. She climbed into my lap and leaned into me her little body warm and heavy against me. Tears were still rolling down her cheeks as I rubbed her back and absentmindedly patted her bottom as  I rocked her.

It grew quiet and she sniffed.

“Mama?”

“Yes, sweetie?”

“Are you patting my butt?”

“Hmm….um..yeah, I guess I was. I thought it was your lower back.”

She pulled away and looked sideways at me.

“Okay. That was disturbing.”

She climbed off my lap with her finger in her nose and shook her head.

She’s been skipping naps of late so when she passed out against my chest early in the afternoon, an hour or so after this. I texted my husband and said, with much relief, though a bit of regret, “she’s asleep and I have to pee.”

I held that pee in until my bladder almost burst because I had a plan to enjoy the last chapter of my book in blissful silence.  That hour free of preschool manipulation was certainly welcome.

And then my preteen began to extol the virtues of his latest video game discovery and the silence was broken, but, hey, that’s life.

 

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I was never pretty but sometimes I could write pretty words

Scrolling down through Instagram and there is the writer I could have had got to know better but chose not to, for various reasons.

And there she is promoting a friend’s book yet again. I look at her post and I wonder if  that book could have been mine if I hadn’t decided to step away from the author’s group, where I felt she taught people how to manipulate other people into buying things they really don’t need.

A part of me feels sad.

“Look at all the people she knows, all the places she travels, the experiences she has had and the success she’s reached,” I thought to myself.

Once upon a time I thought that would be me. I thought I’d travel the world and meet fascinating people and be liked by many.

I’ve never been pretty but sometimes I could write pretty words and take pretty photos. Sometimes I imagined that writing pretty and taking pretty photos would distract people from the fact I wasn’t pretty. I have yet to see an author or a photographer with a big following on any of the social media sites who isn’t pretty. That’s a deeper issue to delve into on another day.

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It’s weird how I once imagined I would do all these big and grand things but never did and now – it might you surprise you to know – I’m glad I didn’t.

Thank you, Jesus that I’m still just little me in my little house with my kids and my husband and my dog and cat and that sometimes I get to photograph sweet families and sometimes I get to write about neat things

It turns out I don’t need anything big after all.

Big means stress and rushing and running and I don’t thrive on any of that. What I do thrive on are quiet nights at home, a good book, a cup of hot herbal tea, a good, heartwarming show and slow, purposeful days where I can take time to remind myself where I am and who I am.

I’ll take the quiet life any day over all the stress I once thought I wanted.

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Winter wonderland? Not exactly. . ..

I won’t lie, seeing all the beautiful photos of winter wonderlands taken in a rural area after a snowfall always makes me a little jealous.

I live in a small town but it’s not really like one of those picturesque small towns in the movies, at least in the part of town I live in. This isn’t meant as an offense to my town because it isn’t the slums either. The people are nice and the area is quiet and fairly peaceful. The houses are pretty enough but there are also a ton of power lines, a school parking lot and a couple chain link fences around baseball fields interrupting the backgrounds of my photos.

To get to the more picturesque parts of our area I’d have to drive a little and if the roads are dangerous or the temperature is as cold as it was this past week I am limited to what I can photograph.

Before the Arctic cold set in and the heavier snow of this weekend’s storm set in we were able to go outside and Little Miss decided she loved snow. She ran up and down the sidewalk with her arms out, declaring “I love the snow!” I’m glad she does because I’m really not a fan of it. First, it’s cold. Second, it’s wet. Third, it’s slippery. All good reasons to not be a fan.

Since we don’t live in the country where we can photograph lovely scenes of trees and ponds covered in a layer (or two) of snow we are left to photos of the kids enjoying the snow with houses, telephone poles, power lines and the occasional snow plow or garbage truck behind them.

Still, I love the photographs of them enjoying the snow. I will deal with the lack of rural snowy images and hope that someday we move somewhere I can photograph a more attractive scene behind my children.

What’s the weather like where you are? And more importantly, do you have a good background to photograph in?

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Zooma the Wonder Dog takes over to lift the winter blues

It’s been a while since Mom has let me take over the blog. For those of you who don’t know who I am, I’m Zooma the Wonder Dog and from time to time I like to take over the blog so you have something actually interesting to read. Shhh…don’t tell Mom I said that. You can read more of my posts (you know, the good ones on this blog) here and here and even here and oh yeah..here too.

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You’ll notice I’m calling Mom Mom now and not “mommy”. That’s because I’m finally a teenager and my childish ways are behind me. Mom says my childish ways are not behind me since she’s caught me in the trash more than once and chasing the cat more than once, as well, but I ignore her because, well, I’m a teenager. I don’t have to pay attention to what my parents say.

I know, I know. Some of you may claim you saw me running around the yard the other day, being silly and acting like a young pup again, but you’d be wrong. I was simply working out to keep myself young and trim and looking good for the boy dog I saw walking by the other day.

Mom is such a killjoy. She says I can’t be around boy dogs until I’ve been spayed. I don’t know if she has a lisp or what, but I can’t figure out what being spayed has to do with me liking to bark a hello at the boy dogs walking by. I mean spaying is what they do to keep you clean right? With water and a hose? I don’t know for sure but Mom says I’m going to be spayed in a couple of days so I’ll find out then.

I saw a dog get spayed on TV on one of those shows Plaything 2 watches and that dog had soap and warm water so I hope I get spayed like that. I’m not a fan of baths, or soap, but being spayed with water might be fun. I’ll let you know what I think about it all in my next post.

Since moving here I’ve grown pretty fond of – I mean, I’ve grown accustomed to living here with my human family. Mom and Dad are pretty cool. Dad is grumpy sometimes when I wake him up early to pee but then he’s even grumpier if I let him sleep and pee in the living room. It takes a lot to make him happy it seems. Mom doesn’t like when I rip toilet paper up all over the bathroom floor or the backyard and she keeps telling me to leave The Beast alone.

The Beast has started to love me. She has. Don’t let her tell you any different. She misses me when I’m gone – like when I went to Grandpa and Grandma’s for something everyone called Christmas. There was a lot of food there but Grandpa and Mom were the only ones who gave me any. Grandma kept reminding Mom of that time Mom said it was bad to feed me from the table.

Now I know where Mom gets her fun-killing attitude. I can’t imagine why it’s bad to feed me from the table.

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The new human Kim was nice and if I didn’t love my current family so much I’d have gone to live with her. Of course, I decided going home with her wouldn’t be so much fun since the other new human (who Mom called Butthead, but I don’t think that’s his real name), said they live with a beast even bigger than The Beast and that it would rip my face off. I don’t want my face ripped off. Then  I couldn’t sneak food from Plaything 2’s plate when she leaves it down, which is always, because she’s almost like a teenager, like me, and doesn’t listen to Mom and Dad.

Wait, did I say I love my family back there? Um…yeah..well..I know I’m a teenager, but I guess I sort of do love Mom and Dad and my human brother and human sister. And of course Grandma and Grandpa. Mom says Grandma isn’t really a “dog person” but she is now because of me. That makes me proud. I’ve clearly charmed her.

Just don’t tell my family I said I love them.

Talk to you soon.

Can’t wait to tell you about the spay and if it really makes my fur feel better or not.

Keep singing me that song, sweet girl

dsc_0620“Mama, I have something to show you,” you said while I was trying to cook dinner one night.

“Um..not now, honey. I have to cook dinner,” I told you.

“But moooom…” you sighed and rolled your eyes with your head tilted back like you had been doing a lot lately.

I sighed myself, without the eye roll and set the chicken aside so I could sit in the kitchen floor with you.

“Today is a special day to tell you how to feel, in my own way,” you sang with the song on the app and slid into my lap. Your voice was tiny and sweet.”I really want to tell you Mom, I love you so. I love you so. You take care of me and help me grow. When I am sad you always know. When you teach me things I feel so proud. You pick me up when I fall down. You pick me up and keep me safe. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be, than wrapped up in a hug from you, ’cause I love you and you love me.”

You leaned against me and looked up at my face as you sang and somehow I think you knew what would come next. Tears. From me. Not simple little …. tears but big, full-on ugly cry tears.

You continued to sing and sway a little in my arms. Supper was later than usual that night but it was worth it. It was even more worth it when your dad came home for supper and you sang him his version of the song. Apparently I’m not the only one who ugly cries.

Every once in awhile, at least once a week you come into the kitchen with the phone and you hold it up to me and push play. Each time we sit next to each other and I hold you close and you sing the song to me.

Sweet girl, please never stop coming to me with that song.

Never stop asking me to let you sing it to me.

Never stop looking at my face to see if I’m crying again.

Never stop waiting for those kisses on the cheek and the gentle squeeze as I pull you against me.

I know I can say it, can ask you to always sing this sweet little song to me and love me when you’re older as much as you do now, but I also know one day you won’t sing to me anymore.

One day you’ll rush off to play with your friends, go shopping, or rush to practice and simply wave at me over your shoulder on your way out the door.

You may one day very well forget how much you wanted your mama to know you loved her, but your mama will never forget it and I will also never forget the feeling of being the center of your world.

May I never take for granted these days that can sometimes seem so long but are rushing by so quickly and may I never take for granted your love for me.

And may you always know the love I have for you.

 

 

Wrestlers, degenerate reporters and a president on this week’s reading list

This post is part of the Sunday Salon, which is a group of bloggers who join together one day of the week to share what they’re reading, watching or simply what’s up in their life, although it’s mainly about what they are reading.

I’m finally finishing some books I started months ago and either wandered away from when a new and shiny book caught my attention (squirrel!) or simply filed away in the Kindle because it didn’t hold my interest.

shawnFirst up this week to finish was something I don’t normally read – the autobiography of a professional wrestler. Shawn Michaels, also known as the Heartbreak Kid, or by his real name of Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (no, really, that’s his real, non-showbiz name), wrote this second autobiography, “Wrestling for my Life: the Legend, The Reality, and The Faith of a WWE Superstar” several years after his first (that’s what you write when you’re too lazy to look up the date of his first autobiography)  and after becoming a Christian.

The book goes into some detail about how Michaels got his start as a wrestler, but not as much as a first autobiography would. Instead, this book is more about how his faith changed him and became the focal point of his life, seeping into every pore of his being, including professionally.  He writes about his struggles to learn what it means to be a man of faith, the stumbling steps he took toward kicking an alcohol and pill addiction and becoming a better man for his devoted wife, a former wrestler herself, and his children.  This is definitely “light reading” but as a practicing Christian myself, I see a lot of depth in Michaels’ words about his Christian walk.

lincolnA book I’m still plowing through, but haven’t yet finished is The Last Trial of Lincoln, which is about – ummm – the last, um, trial, of Lincoln. Hence the name.

But seriously, it’s a book about the final trial Abraham Lincoln served on as defense attorney before running for president. The basic plot is that Lincoln is defending a young man accused of murdering another man during a knife attack. The question is if it was premeditated or accidental. Much of the book is seen through the eyes of scribe Robert Hitt, the real-life scribe to the trial, whose handwritten manuscript of the trial was discovered in 1989 and is the basis of the book.

The full name of the book is actually “Lincoln’s Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to The Presidency.” The author is Dan Abrams, chief legal analyst for ABC News and the book is often as wordy as his book titles (according to Amazon his last book was titled, “Man Down: Proof Beyond A Reasonable Doubt That Women Are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers, and Just About Everything Else.”)

The book is good, but it’s so chocked full of words and legal jargon and flashbacks that help to paint the picture of who Lincoln was as a lawyer, that I’m finding myself needing breaks from it to rest my poor, less-intellectual brain. I don’t want it to sound like the book is so deep it is unreadable, however, because it is actually entertaining. It’s simply that there are so many flashbacks that I am halfway through it and wondering if we will ever get to the end of the trial before the book ends. I’ll let you know if that happens or not.

A book I just started and read when I want something a little lighter, with quick to the point sentences, is the second book in the Fletch series, Carioca Fletch by Gregory McDonald. Technically, according to my husband, who really should be writing blog posts about books, this is not the “second” Fletch book but it is the book that follows the first book chronologically. In this book, Fletch is in Brazil, having escaped from his past adventure with his life and some money (I won’t spoil that book for you) and is confronted by an old woman who believes he is the reincarnation of her late husband, who was murdered. Now Fletch’s new Brazilian friends, if not Fletch himself, want Fletch to solve the murder and release the soul of the already deceased man.

Since I just started the book, I’m really not sure where it’s going to go but I have a feeling, based on the first Fletch book, it’s going to be a twisted tale where Fletch’s lack of empathy and humanity is going to be showing.

The people in it are pretty sad and without feeling so far, but for some reason, I can’t tear myself away, maybe because Fletch is a crooked journalist and I worked with a few of those during my time as a small town newspaper reporter at four newspapers in Pennsylvania and New York.

When I really need light reading, I turn to something very simple and lighthearted that doesn’t require any intellectual capability at all and for the past few months that has been the Paddington Bear series. Thank you, Michael Bond, for transporting me into a second childhood late at night when I’m trying to take my mind off of the screaming outside word. I’m currently on my third Paddington book – Paddington Abroad.

x400Writing this I am now realizing I’m, again, reading about a British bear, though the other book (Enchanted Places, the autobiography of Christopher Milne) wasn’t necessarily about the “bear” but the boy who was a friend of “the bear” (Winnie the Pooh). I guess there is something comforting to me about bears and the British, maybe because I still have the Teddybear I had as a child and … I have no idea about the British thing since I have no British family members.

So how about you? What are you reading this week? What’s inspiring you? What’s comforting you? What’s making you think?

The teachable moments of parenting fails

DSC_1871“I’m hungry.”

It’s not WHAT she said that drove me crazy, it’s WHEN she said it.

It was midnight.

Bedtime had been stretched out insanely long for months now, something I hoped to remedy soon, and my last straw was being asked to get a snack at midnight.

By a 3-year old.

By my 3-year old.

Right then I acted like a very mature, 40-year old woman and flounced out of the room and told her if she wanted a snack she could go get one BY HERSELF!!!

I was done with dealing with hungry toddlers whining at me in the middle of the night. I was done with 11-year olds staying awake way past when they were supposed to be and being grumpy the next morning. And for that moment I was done with never seeming to have a break and dare I say it? With being Mom.

I shut the bathroom door and pouted in the dark for maybe two minutes before she opened the door and I remembered we still hadn’t got a lock for that blasted door.

She was whimpering at me in the dark and looking pitiful and of course I felt even more guilty about it all so I led her to my room where I knew there was one of those applesauce squeezable packs, tucked away in my purse for those days we are out somewhere and she says she’s hungry (this child is always hungry). I gave it to her, reminding myself she’s just a little girl and she can’t help it if she gets hungry at midnight. Even I get hungry at midnight sometimes.

It also wasn’t her fault that her mom hadn’t stopped her and her brother’s playing and told them it was time for bed much earlier in the evening than I had.

I took her to bed, telling her I loved her, and then I laid in the dark after she was asleep and felt guilty for yelling at her and her brother right at bedtime. I kissed her head so many times I’m surprised I didn’t wake her.

5a4c8-dsc_5772Then I tiptoed into my son’s room, where he had already fallen asleep, and kissed his head. Suddenly, in that darkened room, a sliver of light from the street leaking in, he wasn’t 11 anymore in my eyes. He was still five and innocent and little and all I wanted to do was scoop him up and hold him against me.

But he’s too long now and I knew if I attempted to scoop him up I’d fall over backwards and drop him and I on the floor, cut open his head and we would have to call an ambulance. That’s how the brain of a mom works – we take a simple idea and blow it into the most scary outcome we can imagine.

Being a parent is hard. Harder than I ever imagined. We all have tough days and boy do we blow it sometimes. Even when we blow it we love them and they love us. We all make mistakes and fall right on our faces in this parenting journey.

Maybe you feel you have failed as a parent too. We know we are not alone, yet we often feel we are alone because parents fear sharing their fails. We fill our social media feeds, and even our personal interactions, with images and tales of our children’s accomplishments and our successes. We rarely share about our blunders.

No one wants to admit when they have made a mistake and certainly not to other parents who we think have it all together. The truth is, no parent has it all together – no matter what their highlights may show. Maybe as parents we need to be a little more public with those moments we fail in, be brave and show other parents they aren’t alone in their struggle.

What makes us good parents is that we recognize we are not perfect, we apologize when we need to, and are not afraid to admit our mistakes. In fact, maybe not being afraid to make those mistakes makes us even better parents.

When our children know we can admit mistakes then they know that, yes, mistakes are always going to be made, but we can always learn how to improve from them.

And when we admit our mistakes to other parents we can learn from each other.

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Adventures of Zooma the Wonder Dog: The Escape

This is part of a series about Zooma The Wonder Dog. You can find the first post >>>>here.

Yesterday I woke Daddy up even earlier than the other day. He was grumpy but told me it was OK because I’m just a baby and eventually I’ll let him sleep in.

I laughed.

He’s pretty clueless sometimes.

He passed me off to Plaything One and went somewhere he calls “work” or “the job”. Plaything One’s eyes were barely open and he stumbled to the couch to turn on that box with all the noise.

I spent my morning eating anything and everything I could find off the floor and barking at Beast, as I have come to call it. It mainly sits and scowls at me but today it slapped me several times in the head when I chased it in the yard. Beast slips through the opening in the back door while The Humans grumble and say things like “Dang it, cat!”
Cat.

That’s a funny word.

Caaaat. I don’t like it.

Sounds like a dirty word I shouldn’t say so I don’t think I will.

Today I chased Beast all around the yard and she smacked me a lot.

It was hilarious.

She doesn’t know it but she’s my buddy. I just know she’s going to love me one day.

DSC_5247I slipped through the holes in that big thing with the white poles a lot today.

Every time it happened Mommy said, “Zooma” in the same tone she speaks to Plaything Two when it climbs up on a stool to get down the scissors Mommy keeps “hiding” in the cupboard.

But Mommy can’t reach me because she’s too chunky and old to climb the white thing and there isn’t a door on that side so Plaything One has to climb over and try to catch me while I run and laugh.

On Saturday I slipped the fence several times and decided to head toward that noisy place that Mommy calls a road. She yelled and waved her arms and said something about “no…road…stop…” but I saw a dog over across that noisy place and I knew if I just escape mommy I could find it.

Mommy is no fun. She scooped me up and put something on me she called a harness and said I can’t go outside without it until I’m fat enough not to be able to fit through the fence anymore.

I ran so much on Saturday that I fell over in the middle of the kitchen floor and fell asleep, not even waking up when Plaything One and Plaything Two stomped back and forth with mud all over their feet from digging a huge hole in the side yard.

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The Adventures of Zooma The Wonder Dog: The bunny

I’ve been sharing little stories on my personal Facebook page about our new puppy Zooma from her perspective and thought I’d start sharing them on the blog as well because I think Zooma would think “it’s hilarious.”

May 3, 2018

This morning I woke daddy up at 6 a.m. by licking his face all over with my tongue.

Mommy says my tongue feels like wet air because it’s so tiny.

Daddy wasn’t very happy with being woke up but took me into the backyard so I could do my potty time.
Back inside Daddy wanted me to go back to sleep but I knew it was time to explore, lick, dig, run and slide across the floor and then chase that big, fat, black and furry thing with the sharp things on her feet. It’s fun trying to see how close I can get to her before she tries to claw my tiny eyes out.

I spent the morning listening to Daddy grumble about how tired he was and how much he needed something called coffee and then I ran up the stairs to find Mommy and my playthings.

DSC_3610_1One of them likes to squeal and scream when I nip at it’s legs. It’s hilarious. The other one shouts “No! No, Zooma! No!” Also hilarious.

When the taller Plaything took me in the backyard for another potty time I found fur and some squishy stuff that tasted good and was fun to roll in.

This resulted in Plaything One flailing and screaming and chasing me around the yard yelling “That’s so gross! Drop it! It’s a dead bunny! Oh my gosh! Zooooommmaaa!”

Plaything One stole my treat and it was back in the house to chase big, fat black beast again while Daddy staggered around with a cup of that coffee stuff and a scowl and then left to clean up the fur and squishy stuff so I couldn’t have it anymore. I heard him tell Mommy he felt awful because he’d apparently run over a bunny nest with the lawn mower. I hope he does that again. That treat was fun and tasty.

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I spent the rest of my day napping off and on, because I’m just a baby and I like to sleep, with a few moments of ripping paper and dragging it around the house in between while Mommy and the Playthings tell me to “Drop it. Drop it. Droooooooop it.”

It’s hilarious.