tales from a stay-at-home mom of four boys

Archive for the category “Things I Won’t do Again”

Mom, her four boys, and the heinous, horrible, no good, very bad day

Of course there is poop on your shorts. Somehow, magically, there is poop on your shorts in my freshly cleaned bathroom, even though you are nearly 7 and haven’t had an accident of any sort in about 4 years. That’s just the kind of day I’m having. The kind of day where everything goes wrong from the moment you wake up. The kind of day in which you question why you had kids, let alone four of them. The kind of day you just want to be over, but everyone refuses to go to sleep despite being beyond tired. The kind of day you want to forget, but feel compelled to write about.

The heinousness of this day had been foreshadowing for at least two days prior to its arrival. That’s not to say that the two days leading up to it were anywhere near as heinous as today was, but it was definitely a “well, what did you expect?! You should have known this was going to happen!” kind of day. I had set my alarm earlish this morning, but it was a rare morning in which the kids didn’t actually both me for the hour leading up to my alarm and I was enjoying a blissful dream in which I had a totally different life, one way less stressful and kidcentric, one in which I actually got to make decisions for myself and eat warm meals. Apparently, immersed in this blissful dream, I’d managed to hit my snooze button not once, but twice, waking me 20 minutes later than I’d planned. I came downstairs to find the mess of toys I’d been yelling about needing to be picked up for two days now, still all over the floor. The boys were in different stages of undress and completely engrossed in a show that had more time left to it than we could sit in watch. They ignored me as I gave them the same two commands over and over while trying to get breakfast made for the four of them (despite the fact that two of them are perfectly capable of making their own). After about the 30th time of being ignored, I flipped the TV off and gave them the same two commands another 30 times. No one was listening and I felt like I was a ghost in the room that they couldn’t see or hear. I had a 10:30 class at the gym this morning and I’d missed every class I tried to get to so far this week because of the kids and last week we were on vacation, so I missed the gym completely, I wasn’t going to miss class today even if I had to leave to kids home to fend for themselves (okay, fine, I couldn’t do that, I’m pretty sure it isn’t legal).  We had about 30 minutes to get those who weren’t dressed yet dressed, brush everyone’s teeth, get the toys picked up enough for the cleaners to come today (yes I have cleaners, I couldn’t possibly keep up with the disastrous mess my four boys make all on my own. Don’t judge!), get four kids and myself fed, load the car for the day, and get out the door. This would be doable if my kids didn’t sabotage my efforts at every turn. There was the kid who didn’t like the breakfast he asked for and wanted something new, that same kid also peed on his shirt while going to the bathroom (personally I’ve never had that problem, but somehow it happened) ,the kid who kept returning to the trampoline to bounce after each toy he picked up, the kid who couldn’t tie his shoes, but wouldn’t wear his flip flops, and the kid who spilled his bag of Kix all over the carpet in front of the door just as I was about to walk out it.

Fortunately, we made it to the gym and I managed to get everyone into day care so that I was only 2 minutes late for class and there was still room in the corner for me to squeeze into class. I thought maybe this meant that my day was going to turn around, but boy was I wrong. After the gym, we had some time to kill before it was our time to swim at the pool. I needed to get the boys lunch, which you’d think would be a nice thing that they’d appreciate, but instead they just whined and complained because two of them wanted Panda Express and two of them wanted Taco Time. I took them to a local sandwich shop I’d been wanting to try. They all whined and complained that they wanted brownies and cookies and chocolate milk. Then the oldest messed with everything he could get his hands on to make a mess while my youngest darted for the open door and attempted to kill himself in the parking lot. We sat outside to eat where it was “too sunny,” “too windy,” and “too cold.” My youngest tried to kill himself in the parking lot again while the older ones chased him and encouraged him to run to his death. There were also food issues, crow issues, and sticky issues. I should’ve just loaded them in the van and taken them home right then, but no, I was determined to make this a better day.

So, stupid me, I took them back to the gym after lunch to get bands so we could swim. I’ve been promising to take them swimming at the gym for two months and we hadn’t gone yet, so today as going to be the day. We had a half hour to kill, so I brought mad libs to do with the boys, only I didn’t have a sharpened pencil with me. So the boys entertained themselves by running around like idiots, climbing on things, and the youngest tried to go up the stairs every time I looked away. When it was finally our time to swim, I told everyone to go to the bathroom before going to the pool. My four year old refused because he had gone after lunch. My two year old attempted to flush himself down the handicap toilet after escaping under the door of the stall I was in. I took the two older boys to do their deep water test so they could go down the water slide and play in the more fun section of the pool. Unfortunately, they wanted to boys to swim a lot further than their swim instructor had made them, so they couldn’t pass the test. I was then informed that you are only allowed to have two kids per adult that are “non-swimmers” and since my older two boys couldn’t pass the test, they really weren’t supposed to let us in the pool (despite the fact that both older boys could touch in all parts of the pool and were going to be required to wear life jackets too – I think it is a racket to get people to sign up for more swim lessons). I must have given her a “you’ve got to be shitting me!” look, so she allowed us to do it just this once, but we had to stay in the toddler section of the pool. Well that went over like a ton of bricks with my older boys who have been eyeing the water slide for two months now. I was instructed to stay within arms-reach of all four boys at all times while in the pool. Let me tell you how easy that wasn’t, especially since I only have two arms. It didn’t help that we had just returned from vacation where the two older boys swam all around the pool at the hotel and went down the waterslide without me needing for be arms-length away. Even my four year old was swimming all around the pool with his life jacket by the end of the trip. So these restrictions naturally lead my oldest to melt down and cry, partly out of frustration and partly out of embarrassment that they didn’t think he was as good a swimmer as we knew him to be (I’m sure he felt disappointed after working so hard at his swim lessons the beginning of the summer too). While he melted down, my two year old decided that he wanted to jump in unassisted, and my four year old decided that he suddenly needed to poop…NOW! I had to get all four boys out of the pool, but couldn’t convince the two older ones to come into the bathroom with me so I told them to wait outside the bathroom and not to go near the water. Of course, none of this was quick enough and my four year old and he crapped himself just before I could get him on the toilet. Luckily, my boys have a fear of wearing swim suits without underwear, so all the crap landed in his underwear, not his bathing suit, so I just threw them out. As I dealt with that crappy situation, my two year old decided that it would be fun to play with the soap dispenser in the bathroom and get it all over himself and wouldn’t stay away from it no matter how many times I pulled him away or yelled at him. When we were finished in the bathroom, I came out to find that my older two hadn’t changed their usual behavior of not listening to me and were in the pool. That was it for me! I told my younger two that they had three minutes and then were out of there, vowing to never bring them back. My oldest ran off to the locker room without his dry clothes, so I had to herd him back out and the three others into a private changing room so I could get them all showered off and changed. That was a fun experience, said no mother ever.

We left the gym all unhappy and angry. I looked at the clock and realized that we still had an hour and a half until the farmer’s market opened and it was too late in the day to drive home without kids falling asleep. I also felt bad that the pool had been such a disaster, so, still determined to turn this day around, I decided to take my kids over to the library for a bit because, you know, that’s where you take four, rowdy, pissed off, tired boys. That went over better than I expected. My oldest was actually good and took a real interest in researching computers and technology, take many books out on the subject. My six year old also found some good books and practiced his reading. I only had to yell at my four year old a handful of times not to run or scream in the library and my two year old only had two or three full on screaming melt downs.

Thinking this might be a turning point, I took the boys to the park for a bit before the farmer’s market opened. I was feeling renewed hope by the time we walked up to the market. “This is it! We are finally going to have the nice day I’ve been striving for all day. We’ll get food, have fun, make good memories that will overshadow the rest of the day, and then head home for an early bedtime.” I mistakenly thought. It quickly became apparent though that these kids desperately needed food because they had only pretend eaten at lunch. So as I waited in line for quesadillas for some of the kids and then walked my six year old to every food stand trying to convince him to pick something, my other kids dug ice cubes out of the drink coolers at the food stands and threw them at people. Once my six year old finally decided to get dumplings (which were only supposed to take 5 minutes, but took 20 to cook), I got my kids seated to eat their quesadillas, only now they all wanted dumplings. As I went back and forth to the various food stands we had bought our food at, picking up the food, my kids sat quietly in the grass. No, that didn’t happen at all. What happened was, they chased each other, threw shoes at each other, and eventually my four year old threw a container of soy sauce at my six year old and got it all in his eye. I’m sure the people who were sitting not so close to us were all thinking that my kids had just escaped from some wild zoo exhibit. My oldest, who ate most of his own quesadilla, then circled the six year old like a vulture once he finally got his dumplings. The cries for dumplings from those who got quesadillas began again, so I ordered more dumplings for them to split. When they were finally finished eating, they all acted surprised and indignant that I wouldn’t let them get some Hawaiian shaved ice, like their shoe and soy sauce throwing behavior shouldn’t be held against them.  Despite everything, I still braved more of the farmer’s market with the goal of being there late enough that it would be okay for the littler ones to fall asleep on the care ride home. So we wandered the venders while the kids touched things they weren’t supposed to, ran off on me, whined more, fought over popcorn (yes I bought more food), and were just generally exhausting and irritating. I knew it was time to go when the two year old melted down for the 97th time that day. We made one last stop at the bathroom, which I had to force my four year old into and good thing too because he clearly needed to pee, braved the gauntlet of the parking lot, and made it to the car. The kids were given strict instructions that it would be a quiet ride home. Knowing I had them all at least temporarily contained, I took the long way hope and silently prayed that at least two would fall asleep and stay asleep once we got home.

Two kids did fall asleep before we got home, but fate was not kind enough to me to allow them to stay asleep for me so we could have an easy bedtime.  Instead, my six year old began talking loudly the minute we got hope and then the UPS truck made a loud noise as it put out a ramp to deliver several packages to a neighbor. I finally managed to get the youngest back to sleep and sneak out of the room so I could deal with the other three, but by then, the other child who was sleeping was awake and hungry. Then the other boys were hungry too despite eating their weight in food from the different food stands at the market! It was as I doled out snacks to those awake that I heard the six year old call me from the bathroom to inform me of the mysterious poop smear on his shorts. At that point I about completely lost it, but I held it together just long enough to herd the boys upstairs and hear the youngest wake up.  Perfect, just perfect!


I’m sorry, do I know you?

Have you ever been to a store and pretended that you didn’t know your own kids? That was me today at Costco.

I almost got away with a trip to Costco with just the baby, but I pushed my luck, hoping for a little extra time with my oldest, and convinced him to come. At the last minute my second oldest decided that he would come too. I hadn’t exactly asked him, but I didn’t want him to feel like we were excluding him. I really just wanted to take less kids with me, but I guess technically three out of four kids is less kids. Plus, I thought it might be a good chance for the older two boys to bond more since they will both be going to school together next year. Unfortunately, they bonded in a way I hadn’t really expected.

We started the trip with all three boys in the cart, which I knew wouldn’t last long. I was lucky enough to keep the baby entertained enough to keep him from whining until checkout by giving him a frozen yogurt to make a mess with. The other two, however, found their own form of entertainment and took off running by the time we were past the snack aisles at the front of the store. They devised several games over the course of the trip which included a racing game, chasing game, fighting with bananas and cucumbers game, a rolling on the floor wrestling game, and a punching game. I’m sure there were a few others I didn’t pick up on because once they got to the chasing game I began to pretend I didn’t know them. 

We entered the cold produce area and I began make my way around the square area of vegetables when I heard a mom yell at her child with the dreaded triple name call and scold her for attempting to play chase around and around with my boys who we in full on rambunctious, but not destructive mode. I heard her explain to her child that she was absolutely not allowed to act in such a manner as she looked around for the terrible mother that was doing such a horrible job of being responsible for these out of control children.  I just looked at her, looked at my two boys, and then looked back at my mess, but well behaved baby and pretended like he was the only child I had. I was careful to not yell at the boys until she was well out of earshot so as not to blow my cover. From that point on, I continued to walk through Costco pretending I didn’t know my own children unless one of them was about to run into someone, break something, or they exposed me by addressing me directly.

I really didn’t think I’d spend an afternoon in the same location as my kids pretending I didn’t know them until the were at least Tweens or teenagers and begged me not to acknowledge them so they wouldn’t die of embarrassment. I’m thinking that when the tables are turned, a few years from now, maybe their father and I should run around like idiots as pay back.

No good deed turns out the way it should when you have three boys

Fridays are a shorter day for my kindergartener and it has rained a lot this week, so I decided to try to do something special with the three boys this Friday. I saw that the new movie “Free Birds” was playing at the local theater about a half hour after school gets out, so I decided that this would be a nice treat since we don’t go to the movies much.

I arranged to pick my son up from school and headed over to the theater for some fresh popcorn and a relaxing afternoon. Unfortunately, upon arriving, we were informed that a scheduling conflict had arisen and that showing was canceled. The boys were upset and I had promised them a movie, so I looked up the next showing at the next closest theater and saw it started in two hours. In the meantime, we headed home for a snack and the boys went next door to play with the neighbors while I got some stuff done. When it was time to pick the boys up, I locked the front door and loaded the boys directly into the van from next door. We arrived at the movies with just enough time to use the potty, get popcorn, and find some good seats before the previews. That’s when I was first notified of the problem.

As we were unloading the car and putting on jackets, I was notified, first by my middle child and then confirmed by my oldest, that my oldest didn’t have his shoes with him. I didn’t believe it. How did he lose his shoes between the neighbor’s house and the car? I repeatedly asked him where his shoes were as I searched the van in disbelief that we had gotten all the way to the movies only to find out he didn’t have shoes, but they were no where to be found. Apparently, he didn’t want to wear his boots, so he left them on our porch and got into the car with no shoes on, never once mentioning this to me or asking me to let him change into his sneakers. I was furious! Beyond furious! I had half a mind to load them all back in the car and turn around and go home, but that wasn’t fair to the other two boys or me, who really just needed a break. Luckily there was a Marshall’s across the street, so I hurried the boys over to it, one in stocking feet, to look for some cheap shoes. Of course all the shoes were $20 or more and none were his size. So I made him buy shoes that were a size or two too big so that at least I didn’t feel like I was wasting money and he could wear them when he got a little bigger. I rushed all three kids to wait in the way too long of a line, finally purchased the shoes, threw them on his feet, and attempted to rush us all over to the theater. At this point the previews should have been starting (secretly my favorite part of the theater going experience), but that was fine, we just needed to quickly use the restroom and grab some popcorn. Of course, nothing is quick with three young kids. Once in the bathroom, everyone wanted to use the potty, including the one in diapers who is never interested in the potty unless we are in a rush. At the concession counter, we got in the shortest line, which ended up being the wrong choice. The woman and her two kids weren’t sure what they wanted and ended up ordering entire dinners off the menu (I didn’t even realize that was possible). Forty dollars later and fifteen minutes into the movie, I finally managed to wrangle my three boys, our four coats, my purse full of water bottles, and an $7 bag of popcorn into seats to watch the movie. I was able to relax and enjoy the movie until the popcorn and hidden snacks ran out, about 30 minutes into the movie, and then spent the rest of the movie telling my oldest to sit down and leave the seats in front of him alone, and chasing my youngest up and down stairs and across aisles.

For he record, the movie was actually really good and funny, which I hadn’t expected, considering I really didn’t know anything about it. I would recommend the movie, I just wouldn’t recommend you take an almost 2, 4, and 6 year old, and I’d definitely recommend that you check that all your kids have their shoes on before you get to the movie. That is not something I’ll be doing again anytime soon!

Total mom fail

I’m no bento box lunch making, Pinterest goddess mother, but I do try to give my kids healthy lunches. My oldest started full day kindergarten this year, so I’ve had to venture into the world of sack lunches with him. Despite my planning and prepping, I’ve been far from a stellar lunch-making mama.

Ok, so the first week I was pretty good, with cutely cut sandwiches and a serving of at least one protein, two fruits, and one veggie, along with fun pictures draw on the baggies the snacks were stored in. I even had a bin of prepped snacks to pick from for him to make lunch making easier and quicker. By the end of the first week though, he’d grown tired of sandwiches every day, so I started to mix things up with things like “ham rolls,” but then I decided that he was eating too much ham and too much deli meat and needed some healthier variety. Of course, I also decided that I was tired of all the constant meal prep and that making three meals a day for everyone, often at five different times during the day, was becoming more than I could handle. I started to look for quick but still somewhat healthy fixes at about the third week. On really tiring days, I started just throwing some prepackage peanut butter crackers in as the protein and calling it a day. Then I felt guilt and figured I better up my game a little. That’s when my son mentioned hummus and I thought I found my new quick fix solution, but with more nutritional value; something I could feel good about. So last night, I packed my son some red pepper hummus with little baby carrots, crackers, and green olives in a Tupperware container. Then I threw in some apple sauce and of course a special treat. I felt pretty good about that lunch, despite not feeling great about the Tupperware that barely fit in his lunch box and was secured with a rubber band to ensure it stayed closed.

When this morning came, my son was having a rough morning and was cranky. I couldn’t wait to get him out the door, but I really hoped that his day would get better once he got to school. I even emailed his teacher to give her some warning about his mood. I tried not to worry about him during the day and figured all was going fine. Then he got of the bus, in the pouring rain, with no rain jacket. I gave him mine and dashed home. Once we got home, I did what I always do, I opened his backpack to check his folder for work and and lunch box to see how he ate. My heart sank as I opened the lunch box to find hummus everywhere and the food still in it. I asked him what happened. He said the hummus was all over everything when he opened the lunch box, so he couldn’t eat anything (except the Kit Kat of course). I felt so awful. Then I found a note in his folder that we owed 40 cents for “emergency lunch = milk.” So all the poor kid had all day was a milk and a Kit Kat bar (not even full size, just a snack size one). I felt like the world’s worst mom. My son’s day had started off rotten and instead of it turning around once he got to school, it only got worse thanks to my fail of a lunch! The only way I could’ve been a bigger failure was if I’d forgotten my kid’s lunch all together and never realized it until he got home.

So after I fed my son a sandwich, I went right to work on tomorrow’s lunch, to ensure I got this one right. As requested, I made just a regular sandwich, in a plain plastic bag, that seals. And of course, just to make up for today, I threw in an extra treat. At least if his lunch somehow explodes in his bag tomorrow, he’ll have a Kit Kat and some candy corn to eat.

Weekend Costco run

Go to Costco with three kids on a Saturday afternoon. Need I say more?

Oh, but I will just add this. I think Costco needs to add directional and brake lights to their shopping carts.

Add this to the list of things I won’t do again.

So I’ve decided that I need to start a category called “Things I Won’t do Again” and today’s activity will be on it.

Like any good SAHM (or at least one that wants to stay sane), I try to plan activities and outings for my kids, especially during the summer. Today was going to be a Pacific Northwest “hot” day (into the mid 80s). Having just spent the last 12 years in the desert of the Southwest, I wouldn’t call it hot, but I thought it would be a good day for an outing to a spray park someone had told me about. So I fed the kids lunch, packed up all our gear for both the water and the park, slathered sunscreen on the clan, wrangled everyone into the min van, and headed off for a fun day, so I thought.

My two youngest fell asleep in the car, which you would think would make for a pleasant 20 minute ride, however, my oldest was still awake, so it was not. When I got off the highway, I went through a drive thru for an iced tea to keep me going. At this point my oldest informs me, from the very far back, that he wants ice water. I tell him that I brought water in our thermos. Unfortunately, my oldest has become obsessed with all water needing to be iced water (a requirement I had while pregnant with my third child) and unless there is visible ice in it, it is not cold enough. I told him that I had just filled it up and put ice in it before we left so it was plenty cold. This led to my oldest son complaining, whining, and screaming that he wanted ice water. So naturally, I turned up the volume on the radio to drown out his 10 minute long triad.

Once we got to the park, I loaded up all our stuff and attempted to wake the two sleeping, cranky children who did not wish to be disturbed. I then pushed my full sit and stand stroller, with two kids in it and one in my arms, maneuvering around the many families strewn about until I found a spot to plop our stuff. The spray park itself wasn’t wonderful, but it was adequate and had a play park right next to it, so it seemed like it would do the trick and kill several hours of another long summer day in which my husband would not be home until late. My middle child began to come into consciousness and immediately noticed the lady across the way from us eating popcorn and decides that this is simply something he must have. “We don’t have pop corn. I brought other snacks.” So now, we must all sit and have a snack, even though we eat lunch just before leaving the house. Once we’ve all had some snack, I send the older two on their way as I dress the baby in his water clothes and lather him up in sunscreen. I’ve just finished getting the baby ready when the oldest returns to say he wants to go on the playground area. “Fine, go. I can see you from here.” Then the middle child wanders over, greedily eyeing the food of everyone around us. He’s still hungry, and he wants popcorn. “Oh well, have some more cheddar bunnies.” He apparently threw more of his lunch at his brothers than he had actually eaten. Then he runs off to join his brother on the playground. I try to bring the baby over to the water to show him and let him get wet because it is getting warm sitting in the sun and, well, that’s what we had come here for. He screams and runs away. Ok, then.

We go back to the blanket and the oldest is there again. He wants to get dressed, he doesn’t want to go in the water anymore. I try to tell him that he is better off staying a little wet while he plays otherwise he might get hot. No, he wants to get dressed. “Fine, but if you put your dry clothes on then there is no more going in the water. I’m not putting your bathing suit back on and you can’t get your dry clothes wet because it is the only set of dry clothes I have for you.” He still wants to change. So I change him and he returns to the playground. Then the middle child returns again still looking for popcorn. He notices that his older brother has changed out of his bathing suit and now he wants to too, even though, only moments ago, he was splashing in the water and appeared to be making friends. I go through the same thing with him, but of course, in the end, he ends up in his dry clothes. We’ve now been here for almost as long as it took us to drive here and everyone is already done with the spray pad part of the park and are now playing on the normal playground part, something we have lots of 20 minutes closer to home. Fine, whatever, they are entertained and I can look a a catalogue from a few days ago right, nope. Now my oldest comes back complaining that he’s done, he wants to leave and go home. I tell him to go play some more and we will leave in a little bit. He then proceeds to return every 2-3 minutes to whine at me that he wants to go home. Now I’m the one bargaining to stay a few more minutes at the playground, because I don’t want to have to go into clean up mode only minutes after finally settling in. Then the middle child returns, still hungry and looking for, you guessed it, popcorn.

Finally I cave, partly because I’m just done, but mostly because I now have to pee from my giant iced tea. I remember seeing a farmers market up the road and tell my middle child that we will stop there to get a snack and see if they have popcorn before heading home. I dress the baby back in his regular clothes and start to clean everything up. At that moment, my oldest comes over and declares that he wants to put his bathing suit back on because he’s going back in the water. Instead, I load all our stuff into the carriage, including three children, one who is throwing a fit, and attempt to maneuver towards the car. It is at this moment that I decide to start my list of “Things I Won’t do Again” and add this at the very top.

On the up side, the farmers market did have popcorn and a bathroom.

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