Sunday, July 29, 2012

My spouse is seeing another woman and her name is Triathlon

My last posting was quite some time ago and since October things have changed quite a bit. The new baby is here (he's not so new anymore - 5 months have just flown by!) and the twinadoes (as I like to call them) are a whirlwind of activity and silliness. The tween is now "the tween formerly known as angsty" and the pets have seemingly forgiven me for bringing home a new pink thing. You know, as long as a promise not to bring home any more pink things. This posting, however, is not about me - per se - or an update on my menagerie.   That will come at a later date. This is about someone else and something else equally as important. Curious? Read on...

The New Year always comes with the feeling that we all have been granted a blank slate to start over again. For some reason when the clock strokes twelve and the calendar flips from December 31st to January 1st we tend to find ourselves with mixed feelings of regret and hope. Regret for what we perceive to be 365 squandered days full of "woulda, coulda, shoulda," 52 weeks worth of dust on all the books to be read, 12 months of wasted money on gym memberships or diet plans. I am sure this is why so many people drink themselves into oblivion; one beer isn't going to help you forget... 12 beers and a few shots will! It will also help you dance like a zombie on bath salts and make you forget where you left your pants/car keys/cat but at least no one knows you never used that Work Out World tag on your keys more than twice this year! But I digress... There is a point to this, I swear.

My husband - Bryan for those who do not know him - took this New Year seriously and announced he was ready to start getting back into shape. By March I knew when the boxes of P90X crap started showing up on the porch that things were getting out of hand. And it wasn't just that bag of Shakeology or vat of Muscle Milk that scared me. The crazy weights that magically appeared in the living room didn't seem so innocent anymore. In the hall, the door frame "hang-by-your arms-like-a-deranged-monkey" thingy mocked me if I tried to walk past it, thinking that it wasn't a sign of fitness greatness to come. The weird looking rainbow rubber bands with handles hanging from the glass slider's door jam was starting to make me sweat because I knew what this meant: I waslosing my spouse to exercise. And I was freaked.

Why would this freak me out? This was time, in my opinion, that could be spent helping me out with our twin toddlers, the new newborn, the 11 yr old, the dogs, the housework that was piling up, etc. etc. etc. I will admit that I felt that doing P90X was like having an affair. Bryan works ridiculous hours and is very rarely home as a result. For those unfamiliar with the break from reality that is P90X, this isn't JUST a full 90 minutes of redonk. You have to factor in the warm up, the cool down, maybe you add in the AB RIPPER X afterward (no, really, that is what it's called), the consumption of the recovery beverage (that looks, tastes and smells like crushed up Smarties or NECCO wafers mixed with water), the inevitable shower that must be taken after such an undertaking and at the beginning, when you're still a weak little baby-man, your muscles are screaming for hours afterward... it's WAY MORE THAN 90 MINUTES. It should be called P90plustherestofyourdaywillbejunkX.  Also, why does HE get to do something for himself when I spend every waking moment of my day doing things for everyone else? This is an irrational feeling, I know, but all you stay-at-home mom and dads know what I am talking about. This goes double for those of you with multiples or multiple kids under 2. I would give ANYTHING for 90 minutes to do something for me. For time to get rid of all this baby weight while he was dropping weight so effortlessly (it seemed, at least). Then it happened. The ultimate undertaking. The mistress to end all mistresses. The time vampire to beat all time vampires:

He signed up for a triathlon through Team In Training

I used to work for the LLS (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society []) and specifically, I was a campaign coordinator for Team In Training. I knew intimately what was involved in training for a triathlon. It meant thousands of dollars would be spent on bikes, tri clothing and other gear. Hours would now be spent swimming, cycling and running. Whole Saturday and Sunday mornings would be ripped from the family and given to his TEAM during the long runs and rides and open water swim training. And the fundraising. Oh, the thousands of dollars of fundraising. I was pissed. Come to think of it, pissed might be an understatement. I was full of resentment. I stewed for weeks on this. But then I had one of those "aha!" moments and this is where I get to the point of this is blog post.

I have three babies that are my children by birth and one big kid who is my son in love. I have 4 kids who are the reason I get up in the morning, the reason I smile and (I feel) are the reason I was put on this earth. I would lay my life down for them and for their father without batting an eyelash. I have been blessed in so many ways, not the least of those blessings being that these are the healthiest kids I have ever seen and that I have a spouse who is willing to work those long hours I mentioned before in order to provide for us and allow me to drink in each moment with them every day. HE needed time to do something for himself, too, and I shouldn't attempt to hijack that just because I was feeling overwhelmed - he was probably feeling overwhelmed by responsibility, too. I felt lighter. 

I started to feel better about the whole triathlon situation. I needed to take a step back and think clearly. I needed to recognize that this wasn't a huge deal and that my resentment was more jealously that he had the drive to do this and see it through. I needed to understand that he was sacrificing, too. The training and the fundraising - he was doing it for a cause. Cancer research and patient support. Another "aha" moment was brewing:

Bryan is training for the LLS. What if one of my babies or my goofy 'tween developed childhood cancer? What if the cure was right around the corner and just ONE of the dollars Bryan raised was responsible for the development of that medicine? What if someone close to us needed financial help because their cancer treatments left them broke and Bryan's efforts were being used to keep that patient assistance fund afloat? What if it was a stranger who needed a spiritual booster and got it knowing that there were people out there pulling for them? I knew that if it was ME who wanted to train and raise funds for a cause, Bryan would support me. I needed to do that same. 

My anger and  feelings of betrayal we replaced by something else: pride and admiration. Hell, there was some envy, too. Swim, cycle and run. Yikes. When I run people wonder what scared me and if they should run, too. When I get on a bike I fear that it looks like my butt is eating my bike seat (at least it feels like it is after a while). Sometimes I hold my nose when I swim. Bryan makes tri training look easy. What isn't coming easily is the fundraising. So I decided that if I was able to do anything to support him with my limited time THAT is something that maybe I can do.

So, now that you have read this far I am going to ask if you will help Bryan in his fundraising efforts. We will be in Washington, D.C. in September for the Nation's Triathlon and all of us - babies and kiddo included - will be cheering Bryan on, watching with pride the realization of his goal and the result of all of these months of training and sacrifice. Give a dollar, give 5, give 50 - literally every penny will allow him to press on and make all of this worthwhile. If he can do the training when we can't, let us give to the cause instead. He has to raise over $3K and the dealing is looming. You will be helping save lives, guys!! And not just the lives of the patients struggling with a cancer diagnosis...

You would be saving Bryan's quality of life, too. I know how much he spent on that damn tri bike. I may have had an epiphany regarding his training but that doesn't mean I'm not still suffering from sticker shock over the cost of that stupid bike. People better donate because if he has to pay out anything due to him not raising his fundraising requirement I'm not necessarily going to kill him, but you can bet that I am sure as Hell going to make his life freaking miserable for a very, very, very long time. So donate. Do it for the kids, do it for the patients, do it to save Bryan's butt.

Here is the link to make a donation in support of Bryan's tri training (aka "Ensure Bryan's Quality of Life Fund"):

And on that note - I gotta "run!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An open apology to one and all

I have an apology that I feel compelled to make, which some may take a rant? I think I may post this to my blog, too. It applies to many of those new moms out there:

Hi, my name is Alicia and I am the mother of infant twins & a very jealous/angry 11 yr. old step-son. In addition I am currently pregnant & expecting the newest addition to the family in March of 2012. Add to that the fact that I am pet-mom to two pugs, a Great Dane & two cats. Did I also mention that my husband works so much to make this whole family thing work that I am in many ways essentially doing this as a “single mom?” Well, consider it mentioned.

You would think that this fact alone would get me a “buy” when it comes to being out of touch for weeks at a time. Apparently it doesn’t.

So, it has come to my attention that there are people in my life who feel that I am either purposely ignoring them or perhaps I am not available enough to warrant being considered a true “friend.” This is for you and for anyone who has a friend (or friends) who have children of any age or those who have loved ones to whom life has dealt some not so great hands lately.

Please keep the following in mind: This is specific to MY situation but feel free to apply it to anyone else you may know. This is not my fishing for kudos or complements but is simply this: my attempt to let you all know that there is a pretty damn good reason why I may not be able to do any or all of the following:

  • - Make a phone call
  • - Return calls for weeks at a time
  • - Respond if you see me on Google chat/Facebook chat
  • - Send newly minted emails or replying to an email with a response >160 characters which you may send me first
  • - Respond to a text message in a timely fashion (yes, even to ones that I may have initiated)
  • - Visit if you live more than 30 minutes away

Now, I understand what some of you may be thinking. I would like to answer those thoughts in my own special way. Since I seem to love lists (as you can see from my previous blog posts):

- Really? How hard is it to answer a phone when it rings?

o Let me tell you something. It’s really f&@*ing hard. Please follow these easy steps to experience what it is like to try to answer the phone with two infants whom you must keep an eye on and 3 dogs who are pissed off you aren’t paying attention to them:

· Call ahead to the local neighbors and ask them if they would mind listening for your phone to ring and choose that exact moment to walk past the house. This may seem like an unnecessary detail but trust me on this one.

· Turn on the TV and set the channel to Handy Manny or Yo, Gabba Gabba!

· Find two howling chimpanzees with excellent pincher grips and great prehensile tail control

· Take the howling chimpanzees and Velcro one to your chest and one to your legs

· Call your house phone and let it ring just enough to alert your neighbor it’s time to start walking by the windows and to get the attention of the chimpanzees.

· Commence fighting off the chimpanzees, yelling at the damn dogs to “SHUT UP – YOU KNOW THE NEIGHBOR LIVES NEXT DOOR!” all why trying to allow yourself to be heard over the cacophony of insanity and the children’s programming that is playing in the background.

· While applying First Aid, silently pray for a successful naptime to return the call. You know, because you probably forgot that you were calling yourself in the midst of all this craziness.

· If the friend you are questioning has toddlers, please multiply the chimpanzees by 2.

- Ok. So you can’t answer the phone. What’s so difficult about returning calls?

o In theory, returning a call should be easy. Simply wait for when the twins take a nap, have a seat on the ole sofa, dial and chat for an hour or so then say “Ciao, talk tomorrow!” as you hear the cherubs stirring in their cribs. Repeat during the afternoon naps. See? Easy.

§ This is easy ONLY is you have a child that actually, you know, naps. Now add in the fact that I have two VERY different babies, neither of whom really naps. One falls asleep right away and then wakes up screaming after 20 minutes. One takes 20 minutes to settle down and falls asleep just in time for their sibling to start screaming. They may sleep through the screeching but wake up after their own 20 minute cat nap - usually as I am halfway down the stairs with the first twin awake. Oh, and it’s never the same child who has this kind of schedule – I swear they compare calendars when I leave the room and decide who is going to do what when. And it doesn’t matter if it’s morning or afternoon nap time. The game is always the same. And during that 20 minute reprieve I am trying to wash breakfast pans, unload the dishwasher, reload it, take the dogs outside, run into the basement with a full hamper, sort and start a load of laundry, run back upstairs to let the dogs in, fill water bowls, check cat food level, wipe down counters from Dane drool and mysteriously appearing cat fur… the list goes on and on. You’d be amazed what I can fit into 20 minutes – problem is, a phone call just isn’t something I can handle in addition to everything else.

- Facebook chat and Google chat show you online all the time. You really can’t take a second to answer me back when you’re online?

o I can’t tell you the last time I logged into either FB or Gmail on a real computer. Instead, I have a (not so smart) phone which makes it look like I am constantly online. Texting a chat response is almost as impossible as talking on the phone because one word answers are never enough for people. One word, consisting of 2 or 3 letters is about all I have time to respond with before little hands are grabbing for the phone and putting it in their mouths or wailing because I have an object of power I am refusing to share with them. More often than not I never actually see the chat message/request because I am:

· Feeding my short roommates.

· Doing another diaper change for the umpteen millionth time today.

· On the floor working on sitting up or crawling skills.

· Trying to put away laundry while entertaining my charges

· Sneaking out of the room for 15 seconds to go to the bathroom with the door open and therefore fending off pug requests to be petted and loved while I am in the “executive lounge.”

· Doing the chores the 11 yr. old who lives here either “forgot” to do, lied about doing or did incorrectly. Either way, I have to do it.

· Watching an 11 yr. old do his homework while keeping the twins entertained

· Attending yet another parent/teacher conference dedicated to the poor behavior of said 11 yr. old.

· Supervising tooth brushing and other basic hygiene topics for the same 11 yr. old.

· At one of many doctor’s appointments for myself or the other children in the household.

· Driving.

§ Oh, and any FB posts & responses to posts are usually done on the fly. I respond to things and comment on pictures to let people know I am still alive. It’s kind of like my version of a smoke signal.

- You have a smart phone? There goes your sending/responding to email excuse!

o I don’t think so. Akin to texting are emails. They take time and thought. I have no time to put much thought into anything that doesn’t involve diapers, feedings, supervising an 11 yr. old who does anything and everything to pull what little attention span I have left in his direction and keeping up after the sundry critters in my household. There are lots of things I don’t have time for:

· Eating more than 2 bites of anything at a time

· Showering

· Taking care of my OWN basic hygiene, never mind the 11 yr. old

· Wearing something that hasn’t been worn for the past 4 days in a row

· Putting on shoes

· Eating

· Sleep

- Texting it easy. Just send one.

o I do. Often. I just can’t respond right away when you send me a response. You’ve read this far – CUT ME SOME SLACK! Usually I will send one back when the babies are distracted by something shiny, in those first 20 minutes of naptime, or at midnight when I finally fall, exhausted, into bed. I hate sending the midnight ones because I am always afraid that I will wake you up. So I say to myself “Self, you’d be pissed if someone did that to YOU, right? You’ll have time tomorrow to send a txt back.” Then tomorrow comes with its chaos and the next thing I know it’s midnight again and a full day (or two, or three) has gone by with no response from me. I’m sorry.

- So just drive. The kids can sleep in the car, right? No big deal!

o This works if you are roughly half an hour away. If it’s more than that I need to pack the whole car for a damn weeks’ vacation with all the gear I need. Also, remember that angry/jealous 11 yr. old? He gets off the bus at 3pm. It’s kind of funny – it doesn’t matter where I am, I know when it is 3pm because my stomach gets tied in knots and my head starts to hurt. At 3pm in addition to the little bit of crazy we experience here during the day I now have to deal with:

· Homework supervision. And I do mean supervision. If I don’t watch every move it doesn’t get done.

· Chore supervision. (See above)

· Starting the evening meal and trying to finish it without meltdowns from either the twins or the boy

· Feed the twins and the boy while trying to get some food in my own mouth (it often doesn’t happen)

· Getting the boy to stop dragging his feet and get ready for/take him to karate twice a week

· Get the twins and the boy in the car to take dinner to the husband so he has a chance to at least see me and the kids awake during the week

· Come home to commence the evening arguments over getting ready for bed-is your homework really done-why did I get another note in your agenda from your teacher about you not doing your work-did you really take a shower-did you really brush your teeth-do both again, I know you’re lying to me all while trying to bathe/change put to the bed two wiggly little weirdoes that I love dearly.

- So why can’t you do all of this at night? They do sleep at night, right?

o Yes, the tradeoff for not having nappers is that I am blessed with babies that actually go to bed at 7pm and sleep until 6pm. No wake ups. I have a step-son who goes to bed at 8:30 in theory but usually, by the time we finish up with the chore/homework/bathing issues it’s closer to 9pm or 9:30pm by the time I say goodnight. Now, because those silly babies don’t nap I don’t have a chance to do really anything housework-like. That leaves me from 10pm to midnight to finish housework, finish the laundry that I started in the morning and forgot about in the washing machine/dryer, track down the laundry the 11 yr. old has created, verify chores have been completed, do the dishes, vacuuming, cleaning out the fridge, and work on my own “to do” list. I am guessing that you really don’t want a call from me at midnight, which is the only time I have to breathe. It’s also the only time I have to sleep and, well, 6am comes really early in the morning so sleep usually wins out.

So there is my apology/rant. I am sorry that I just don’t have time to chat. Please don’t take my lack of availability for lack of interest, though.

I miss my friends. I miss my girl’s nights out and my phone calls with long distance friends. I miss being able to just jump in the car and drive 3 hours to visit people and come home the same day. I miss being a part of everyone’s lives. But right now, I have little people who need me. I have a house that needs caring for and pets that feel neglected. I also have no problem throwing the babies in the car, getting a sitter for the boy and being at your doorstep should you have an emergency (hell, did it this weekend when I drive to Long Island with my mom because my Great-aunt had a stroke) and need me there for you.

I’m sorry that I can’t be as available as I used to be. It’s only going to get harder in the next few months when the newest member of the clan arrives and then I will have a newborn, two toddlers and an angsty 12 yr. old on my hands. Never doubt that you are always in my thoughts, my heart and my words. And any time you feel slighted or neglected or upset that I am not around just remember this:

You don’t have chimpanzees strapped to your chest or legs. That means that you have nothing but time for me to find a moment to take a breath and reach out to you to see how YOUR day is going. I’m not going anywhere, trust me. I hope you don’t, either.

PS – it took me ALL DAY to write this.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mini-van life. It hurts.

Wow. Has it really been over a year since my last (and only) posting? Yes. Yes it has.

Since August 2010 the twins were born (January 2011) and now are 9 months old. We are currently expecting another addition to the family in March of 2012. Oh yes, we're doing it all again. Only a single baby this time. Talk about a surprise! I found out I was expecting again when I asked my husband to take me to the hospital because I thought I was dying. Heh.

I am now a SAHM and trying to juggle babies, dogs, cats, my step-son who is a 'tween, the household and a new pregnancy. I am also struggling with the fact my cool card went totally out the window when the Mystery Machine (mini-man) arrived the weekend the twins came home. I was still recovering from the c-section and therefore too weak to really comprehend the gravity of the mini-van situation. And it's heavy.

There is nothing cool about mini-van livin'. You can try to convince yourself otherwise but the truth of the matter is you are still driving something akin to a refrigerator on wheels. It's like when I was in the middle school band and I tried to convince myself that that playing the clarinet was cool. That was a questionable argument, too. There are things I have tried to do to elevate the mini-van into sexy SUV status. While amusing to some they have all proven futile attempts at rad-ness in the face of soccer-mom-ness. Here are my top 5 things to try and my prayer is that they work for you better than they have for me:

1. Buy the biggest sunglasses you can find in an attempt to be trendy
When I say big I am talking HUMONGOUS. Big ole sunglasses that make you look Mary-Kate and Ashley waiflike. The bigger, the better. Who cares they are so big your entire face becomes a blind spot? No one ever said being cool was easy. Or smart.

2. Download ├╝ber-trendy music on iTunes and blare it with the windows down.
It doesn't matter that you have no idea who the lastest pop peeps are; what matters is VOLUME. Just be careful what you choose and keep it current or culturally relevant. Blaring anything sung by a recent or current Disney or Nickelodeon star will get you labeled as a creeper. TuPac or Eminem will get you tailed by the po-po. Barry Manilow will get you giggled at.

3. Sticker the windows.
So I thought I would take the "green" route in my stickering by putting a "I <3 My Farmer" sticker on my rear window. You know, because I legit (heart) my Farmer. But let's be honest here: I am driving a vehicle that makes a Hummer look fuel efficient. This sticker is a slap in the face to our dirty hippie/farmer hugging friends. The "member of the NRA" sticker that some guy who lives here slapped on the back window next to my farmer sticker doesn't really help me make many friends, either. But that's ok - I have a "Breastfeeding is Natural" sticker that will be going on a certain someone's Mustang GT when they are not looking.

4. Get your ride in a cool color.
FYI: White is not in the cool color spectrum. How do I know this? My father owned a white Dodge Caravan, circa 1991. I now own a white Dodge Grand Caravan, circa 2011. See? I know things ad have seen things you can't even comprehend.

5. Spinning Rims.
I haven't tried this one yet. I really want to see someone else try it, though.

And for the record, even though I like to complain and poke fun at the Mystery Machine it can be fun to watch the looks on people's faces as I fly past them on the highway. I love that "was I just passed by a mini-van?" look on their faces. And though I do rock a van, I have resisted the need to wear mom-jeans. So far.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Things that people don't warn you about when you get pregnant, but should.

So, I am roughly 14 weeks pregnant (or starting my 4th lunar month, y'all) and I starting thinking back on the whole early pregnancy process - getting preggers, finding out, alerting the peeps in your surrounding area, etc. - and it struck me that there is no really good manual out there for what to REALLY expect when you get that positive hCG test.

I mean, sure, there are plenty of "What To Expect When You're Expecting" books (way too overwhelming for those of us who don't have time to read a dictionary/encyclopedia. If I did have the time to read the equivalent of the owner's manual to my car I would have gone to Med School LONG ago) and "Pregnancy Journal" books (not so useful if you're not the journal type, just sayin'. Hi - have you seen how long it's taken me to put a first entry into this blog??) but no "Dude, we need to sit down and chat because this is the sh*t you're really going to experience" books. But don't worry. I'm on it.

Welcome to part one, which I will call "Top 10 list of "Sh*t You Should Be Prepared to Deal With At The Beginning." **Please keep in mind that some of my experiences my be a bit unique, but I have a feeling you'll still know what I'm talking about.

1. Seriously be ready for people to ask if you've been trying to get pregnant.

No, really - they are actually asking if you and your spouse/significant other have been actively having sex. And try to hold back the look of "are you kidding" that will flash across your face.

Also might want to rethink laughing hysterically and responding to the question with a sarcastic "No, I'm 32 and have been married for 4 years. I fell down in bed and OOPS - I'm preggers! Totally unplanned." That response won't win you many friends.

2. Morning sickness is not inevitable.

That being said, what IS inevitable is people giving you a blow by blow of how sick they were during their pregnancy, complete with times/frequency/consistency/and all things related to their own personal vomit fiesta. If you didn't feel like hurling before this, you will. Trust me.

3. People will ask you on a daily basis "How are you feeling?"

Do not answer honestly or you will be faced with the scenario mentioned in #2. Best thing to reply with? Tired. A "fine" response will only get people saying you're lying. Even if you're not tired, say you are. You can also respond with "I'm feeling pretty good, but so was that guy in Alien just before, you know..."

4. Brace yourself for the "Tired? You'll be tired for the next 20 years or so! Get used to it" hilarity that will result. Just roll with it.

5. If you are blessed enough to be pregnant with twins (as I am) people will ask you if they run in the family.

Now, for some of us it's the miracle of modern science that has allowed us to be with child at all (thank you, IVF!). Therefore, twins do not run in the family. You don't need to give people an honest answer here. I find that responding with "No, but hairy, Siamese circus performers run on my husband's side" is a great way to get out of having to go into any further detail.

6. Regardless of how far along you are, you're going to hear "Do you know what you're having yet?" Feel free to use any of my favorite responses listed here:

  • Yes. Baby humans.
  • An epidural.
  • A lifetime of heartache and pain.
  • About $600K in college loan payments.
  • No chance for retirement.
  • Pugs.

7. You're going to have a heart attack when you see the price of baby related items.

It does you no good to register early - all that does is give you extra time to dwell on the 2nd mortgage you're going to need to take out to furnish the new baby-pad. Forget it if you're having twins - you'll have a full on heart-a-stroke. That is way worse than a mere heart attack.

8. Related to #2 - beware the "Oh crap, it's 2pm" sickness.

This is way more sneaky than morning sickness. You'll just feel car sick for the rest of the day until you go to bed (or are ordered to go to bed because being catatonic on the couch by 6pm is no way to entertain company). Problem? No car to get out of.

9. Related to #8 - the thought of grocery shopping will make you want to throw yourself from the moving vehicle on your way to the store.

But don't worry - this passes. Soon that feeling will be replaced with wanting to throw others from the moving vehicle on your way to the store. Which brings us to #10.

10. Mood swings. Ho-ly mood swings.

There aren't the usual PMS mood swings you may have dealt with prior to the whole being pregnant thing, or the mood swings you see mentioned as an aside in your baby book. Oh, HELL no. These are more like mood demolition derbies. Examples:

  • Cotton commercials will make you cry.
  • You'll find yourself yelling at the dogs for breathing too loudly.
  • The couch will irritate you.
  • You accuse the laundry of mocking you.
  • It will be hot outside to spite you.
  • There will be meltdowns in the dressing room upon realizing that yes, you have to buy bigger pants at 3 months because you're having twins. "I don't look pregnant, I just look FAT!"

Hope this helps you newly pregos out there. As you can see it's been an interesting 1st trimester and this is only my top 10 - there are plenty of other gems to share. To that i say: Bring on the next 3 months!

-- A