Inner Child

What’s a good sign that winter has nearly overstayed it’s welcome? Well, generally its right around the time that I begin fantasizing about performing Stupid Mommy Tricks. Let me point out that I have never claimed to be completely normal. I’m just not. I’ve learned to embrace my inner-weirdo. Believe me, it has taken many years of costly therapy to come to the conclusion that I’m okay. Are you okay?

I’m the product of the late 70’s “feel good” vibe and the 80’s “Me Generation.” To sum it up, I’m all sorts of messed up. I’m a strange dichotomy of selfishness, but filled with love for my fellow man. I publicly joined ranks with Nancy Reagan and said “No” to drugs, but smoked huge bongs in my friend’s basement. I empathized with Allison but was more of a Claire… I thought that when I grew up, I’d drive a Ferrari, have a lucrative career as a super-model and miraculously sprout some boobies. Sadly, none of that happened. I have, however, somehow managed to tenaciously cling to my inner child.

Keeping Inner Child around to the ripe old age of none-of-your-damn-business has, at times, been difficult. Let’s just say that a career in the legal field, specifically personal injury and medical malpractice, put a damper on some of my more careless acts of stupidity. Skiinghas become a minefield of possible injuries, potential run-ins with orthopedic surgeons and their barberic tools of trade. I’ll admit that for awhile there, I became a bit of a buzz kill. A veritable Debbie Downer bent on presenting every possible tragic outcome of say…a walk down the driveway.

Just last week, as I procrastinated my exit from bed by feigning interest in the morning news, I was greeted with images of roof collapses and information about heavy snow load and pounds per square foot. Within moments, I conjured a visual of our house, complete with a caved-in roof and emergency personnel parked in the driveway. Surely, the snow up there was heavy enough to cause certain death.

Despite the fact that none of my neighbors were doing so, I climbed out of the guest room window and began shoveling snow from my roof. I gasped at the huge task ahead of me and it didn’t take very long to realize that I was never going to be able to tackle this chore on my own. Soon, my coat was unzipped and I paused to take a breather. As I paused, a neighbor drove past. Maybe I’m over thinking things, but when he slowed down to gawk at me on the roof, I suddenly felt very much like a displaced New York girl. I faked a confident wave and pretended to nonchalantly lean on my shovel until he drove away. After he rounded the corner, silence closed in and I finally paused long enough to see this…

and this…

I gingerly inched my feet to the edge of the roof line and peered over at the pile of snow that I’d shoveled onto the ground. It took just a moment to be transported back in time. I was standing in a 3rd story window of our “Big Barn” during haying season, watching the hay elevator carry bale after bale to that top floor. As each section of the enormous 3rd floor was filled with hay bales, the elevator would move down to a new window, leaving a pile of hay remnants behind. It was those piles of hay that would catch my 9-year-old body as I fearlessly leaped from the window and rode through the air in a joyful free fall. I’d quickly hitch a ride on the next hay bale being carried to the third story and jump out the window. Again and again, I would jump.

So Friday morning, as I stood perched at the edge of my roof, I recalled the exhilaration of my free falls. It’s true, this is no three story drop but it’s been awhile. Inner Child urged me to jump.

So I did.

Welcome home, Inner Child.

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Memories of Snow

I sat in the kitchen window seat with the girls this morning and together, we watched the snow fall. When I suggested that we should go outside to play, Gwen’s nose wrinkled and her eyes narrowed while she pondered the view, “The snow is too fast to go outside.” She adjusted her tacky purple tiara and slid off the window seat to adjust her princess dress, “Maybe later, mommy.” Her plastic high heels clacked on the hardwood floors as she left for the playroom. Kate followed, tripping over Gwen’s cast-off Cinderella gown, leaving me alone with my thoughts and hypnotized by the chaotic rhythm of the falling snow.

The vision outside the window pulled me back in time. When I was a kid, I thought, I played in the falling snow. I opened my mouth wide and caught snowflakes on my tongue. I scrambled to escape the confines of our farmhouse and the female specter inside. I would throw myself into the silence of a storm, walk into the field and let the heavy curtain of falling snow hide me from the world. From that angle, the farmhouse would nearly disappear. Behind a white veil of snow, it’s edges dulled to a softer, more obscure version of itself. That was as close as I could get to stepping away and into another world.

I remember sitting under a maple tree, it held the remnants of a never completed tree house, long ago promised and forgotten. The hiss of falling snow and the sound of wind wrapped themselves around me as I tucked myself into the notch of the tree. I nibbled on a snowball and examined the big white house. Despite the life it held inside, it looked dark and ominous. Was it the ghost or the argument I had witnessed that caused me to flee into the storm?

My father came home the night before and I was happy to see him again. He stood in the kitchen doorway wearing his suit and smiling at me while his blue eyes sparkled. I was startled by my mother who was suddenly slamming cabinets and banging pots a bit too loudly. Her mouth was set in that jaw-clenched position that told me she was angry. I wanted to tell her to stop. Couldn’t she see that he was happy to be home? I was afraid that her anger would drive him away again. They forgot me as she yelled at him. I felt the wind of a thrown object brush against my face and jumped when a pot connected with the wall behind me. Perhaps the years have caused me to place a memory in the wrong spot, but I remember him crossing the yellow and cream linoleum and embracing her. She tried not to laugh and I skipped from the kitchen, happy that they loved each other again.

Of course, he left again the next day. I was always told that his job required time away with the Governor. Some time after he had gone, my mother lunged at the liquor cabinet and jerked the doors open. Her face was stony a mask as she gathered the bottles into her arms. I followed her into the kitchen and watched as she poured the contents of a Johnny Walker bottle into the sink. I knew that he’d be gone for days now and for the first time, realized that the contents of those bottles posed a problem for us all.

Lately, I’ve discovered that I like dirty martinis, but the years haven’t dulled the memories of martinis I hated to see shaken, not stirred. The sound of ice cubes tinkling in a glass still conjures a vision of my father in his favorite chair, a glass of amber colored scotch absently dangling from his right hand. I thought of these things this morning as I watched the snow that was falling too quickly for Gwen to play. I understood that she felt warm, safe and loved here in this house full of life. She didn’t feel the need to escape behind a curtain as I once did. Perhaps because my martinis are an occasional indulgence that I drink with the knowledge of my past still haunting me.

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Perfectly Insane

The monster snowstorm is about to descend upon us. This morning’s news blared that the “biggest snowstorm in 40 years” has begun to lay its deadly blanket across the country. Soooo…Mr. News Anchor? Is this one going to be much worse than the other 30 “Storms of the Century” that have occurred over the past 10 years? Just wondering.

I’ll admit it. I’m kind of excited to hunker down tomorrow because chances are, David will be hunkered down with us. Please God, dump enough snow on us to keep him home tomorrow. I beg of you, have pity on me. Don’t leave me here alone with these children for another snow day. Should that happen, I’m quite sure that I might finally lose my faltering grasp on sanity. Can’t you see that I’m already teetering on the edge of  lunacy? One more single-parent snow day is going to make me crazier than bat shit. Clearly, a few screws have worked their way loose.

Last week I stood outside marveling at the beauty of our freshly fallen snow and wondered if I had finally plunged into the pool of insanity. Normally, I despise anything cold. I was comforted when, an hour later, I was back to cursing the slushy roads.

Yesterday afternoon I realized that I’ve been humming ‘Sunshine and Lollipops’ to myself for days. It’s true. In moments of stress, I’ve taken to singing it out loud even though I don’t really know the words. I can only imagine what it sounds like, my off-key and slightly psychotic version of ‘Sunshine and Lollipops’ sung over and over and over again. Scary.

Evidently, not scary enough to effect the children because they continue chipping away at my patience and testing the strength of my hold on lucidity. Faithful readers, you know I don’t feign perfection as a parent. I’m far more likely to blog about the latest calamity than what goodie I baked yesterday afternoon. Sure, I bake with the kids. Sometimes I even manage to capture a few photos that provide the illusion of an idyllic afternoon. But that would be lying. I would never attempt to deceive you with contrived photos of squeaky-clean children smiling and filling their bellies with warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies. The truth is, one or all were probably picking their noses or sneezing over the bowl while I murmured ‘Sunshine and Lollipops’ over and over and over again and fantasized about showering.


Perfection

I’m sure that there are vast amounts of women for whom life is just perfect. Let’s pause here and take a moment to reflect on their perfection. Their children are angels and they bake cookies together every day while their latest snowman glistens outside in the winter sun. Their macaroni replicas of the Mona Lisa are drying in the craft room and later, they will all hunker for a nap in the family bed. Well, kudos to you perfect women (insert hand-clapping here)! Keep blogging about it, because I am positively riveted. I can’t help but wonder what really goes on at your house. 

Reality


Here’s a snapshot into the reality of our house over the past few days.

Dave carelessly left a poop-filled diaper on the window seat in the kitchen whilst running to the aid of another child. Stella, that cute and fuzzy Jack Russell Terrier ate it. Here she is post-poo consumption. Notice that Gwen seems to take delight in Stella’s choice of gag-inducing snack. Stella looks ashamed. Remind me not to let her lick anyone. Ever.

Kate has decided that breakfast is best eaten in the aforementioned dog’s crate. I don’t know why. Perhaps she’s giving Stella a preview of what’s to come. Maybe she’s waving that half-eaten pancake in the dog’s face and saying, “Hey dog, you can have this later, but not until I’ve digested it.”

On Sunday, Gwen was enjoying a much needed bath in our Jacuzzi tub, and why not? Someone should use the Jacuzzi tub since I rarely have a chance to relax in it. I momentarily left the room to grab some clean towels and re-entered to find that Kate was now flopping around in the bubbles as well. “What’s Kate doing in the tub?” Gwen’s gaze sufficiently expressed her belief that I might be slightly idiotic, “Well,” she said. “She needed a bath because her cooter was stinky.” Oh…my…God. I have nothing else to say about this.

Sunshine and Lollipops. Sunshine and Lollipops. Sunshine and Lollipops.

Please God, give us enough snow to keep David home from work tomorrow.

p.s. Could you please send a bottle of pinot grigio? I don’t think I’ll be able to get to the store.

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Snow Day!

There was a time when the words “snow day” elicited such joy in my little heart. Don’t you remember the thrill and anticipation of climbing into bed on the eve of a big snowstorm? Your eyes would close to magical visions of freshly fallen mounds of snow, perfect sled runs and piping hot cocoa. A mid-week gift from Mother Nature, she’d provide children everywhere with an undisputed day off.

On waking, we’d lay in our beds wrapped in the warmth of our blankets with fingers crossed, listening to the radio and waiting for the name of our school to be called. Other than the endless drone of the bored DJ reading closures, the house was silent. We were all doing the same thing – waiting for the DJ to round the alphabet and reach the right letter. I would hold my breath and silently pray as he neared the spot that should rightfully hold our school district’s name. As soon as it was read, the silence would be broken with a collective whoop of joy and the sound of feet hitting the floor as covers were thrown back and we ran to congratulate each other on our good fortune.

Those days were wonderful. Those days were the ones where my family was forced to stay home together and play in the snow. We were blissfully clueless to the effect of the snow day on the adults in the household. 

Here in Maine on this Tuesday evening past, we all drifted to sleep with the thrill and anticipation of a snow day in our future. It’s true. Even the grownups sensed that Mother Nature was going to provide us with the rare gift of a mid-week day off. Dave and I woke at 6:45 a.m. and turned on the local news to determine whether or not school attendance would be required. In reality, one look out the window told me that we had a freebie. My heart skipped a beat and with great joy, I envisioned a perfect snowy fun-filled family day.

7:30 a.m.
Gwen insists that breakfast must be bacon and eggs. Evidently, anything less than bacon and eggs (for example, oatmeal) isn’t at all appropriate for snow day breakfast. Ooooookay.

7:50 a.m.

Gwen cries because she doesn’t want to eat the bacon and eggs. Despite eating absolutely none of the food she demanded just 20 minutes earlier, she’s “stuffed”.

8:30 a.m.
Kate, operating under the assumption that the Wii remote is also a nunchuck, swings it and delivers a loud and deadly blow to Joe’s right eye.
8:31 a.m.
Joe sits with a frozen bag of peas on his eye and tries to stifle his sobbing while telling Kate that she’s an “A.S.S. ‘cuz if you spell it, it isn’t a swear.”
9:00 a.m.
Dave finally determines that he’s not going to make it down the driveway, let alone the unplowed road in his Saab (Uh, duh?). He makes the grand and unheard of announcement that he’ll be staying home from work today. (Oh really? What a shocker.)
10:00 a.m.
Gwen locates a new Netflix envelope on the kitchen counter and announces that she is dying to watch “Avatard”. I spend the next five minutes slowly pronouncing the word Avatar for my four year old. “Say it with me Gwen, Avah-TAR.” No dice. I switch tactics and start calling it the ‘Blue Alien Movie’ and hope she bites.
10:05 a.m.
Gwen requests a snack. She’s starving.

10:06 a.m.

Joe requests a snack.
10:06:45 a.m.

Kate points at Joe and Gwen’s snack, screams and wildly gestures to her mouth.

11:30 a.m.
Joe locks himself in the dog crate and won’t come out unless we leave the house RIGHT NOW and buy him a Pillow Pet. I spend the next five minutes fruitlessly attempting to point out that, even if we wanted to go randomly purchase a Pillow Pet for no good reason, we couldn’t because we were snowed in. He refuses to come out of the crate.

11:35 a.m.
It dawns on me that Joe is LOCKED IN THE DOG CRATE. I walk away and let him sulk in the cage.

11:38 a.m.
Vague cries of, “Can I get out now?” are heard coming from the direction of the kitchen.

1:30 p.m.
Joe enters the room and informs us of the following observation, “Did you know that when I touch Kate in the fist form, she cries?” You don’t say! How very interesting.

And on it went for the better part of the day. No one wanted to go sledding and to tell the truth, when the snow is coming down sideways and the wind is howling at 40 miles per hour, I can’t say that I blame them. We simply settled in and attempted to hear Avatar over the howling.

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