Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wrestling with Success

Being the best sets you up for someone else to try to knock you down.  I have always found myself much more comfortable somewhere on the periphery of "best."  Good but not outstanding.  In the outer ring of the spotlight.  Never one to toot my own horn, and never comfortable having others toot it for me...

Not that I didn't think I was good, know that I was good, but the notion of saying it out loud was paralyzing. 

Enter stage right, my Jersey-licious love.

He operates on a platform of  "I'm the best, go ahead and prove me wrong."

His machismo is one part rearing and two parts regional culture, South Jersey style.

He declares on a regular basis, "I think Mini Monkey should be moved up in school, she's too smart."
"Middle Monkey is gonna be a state championship wrestler."  "Monster Monkey is a stud."

While I may secretly agree, to say so out loud would be inviting others to challenge my proclamations.  In my head it would leave my Monkeys subject to criticism, open to attack.

Statements like these give me heart palpitations.

The truth is, our boys are really good at wrestling.  Not just good "in a mother's eyes" but legitimately good.  And this terrifies me. 

We traveled this past weekend to New Jersey, to the Alma Mater of the Monkey Maker so that our little grapplers could participate in a wrestling tournament.  This tournament was not a "novice" tournament as the others have been, where newbie wrestlers gather to tangle on the mat and hone their newly learned skills. 

No, this was a real, live Double Elimination tourney complete with brackets and seeds, and for this... I was not prepared.

And so it was that somewhere between pride and panic, I found myself cheering on our two rookie wrestlers.  Sitting mat side, confidently in their corner and making the brazen statement to the youth wrestling world that I believe my sons are good.  Really, really good. 

They wrestle and I wrestle too.

The bouts are matched evenly, confidence vs. cynicsism, faith vs. fear, resolution vs. reluctance. These contenders tussle in my mind, feelings at once both foreign and familiar, fighting for the "tech fall."

Faith won this time and that is a sure sign that I'm on the right track.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday with Monkey(s) - Entry #3 (Three Times the Charm)

Things in my world have been...well...busy. 
We are up to our eyeballs in potty training and wrestling practice.  It is a good busy but, hectic nonetheless.  So I was fully prepared to let this week slip by in the blogging world with nary a post to my name, however, my Monkey's were not on board for this plan.

I was awakened at 4:30AM by a trio of Monkeys who were raring to go, full of ideas to add to my blog.
Apparently I had mentioned that this would be a weekly feature appearing every Tuesday. 

Who taught these kids about the days of the week? 
I blame New Jersey. 
I know it sure as hell wasn't me:)

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Livin' on the Edge

I live on the edge.  I don't take a multi-vitamin, I drive through the empty spaces OVER the lines in parking lots, I eat uncooked cookie dough.  I am a certifiable BAD ASS.

I was thinking about this as I clung perilously to the outermost edge of my king sized bed and pretended to sleep last night. 

My sleeping space had been invaded by one very snuggly, very stubborn Mini Monkey, one equally snuggly, much more malleable Middle Monkey, and one snuggle-deficient, personal-space demanding, GINORMOUS Monster Monkey. 

I was also dealing with long limbs of the Monkey Maker that had drifted across the imaginary dividing line of the marital bed

And so, as is the case many nights, I laid there awake.  And my mind ran rampant.

I thought about the choices I made in my life.  The choices that brought me to my current edge-dwelling position in a bed full of Monkeys. 

Truth be told, there were many poor choices made along the way.  I really did "live on the edge" and yet against all odds, here I am. 

I suppose the Sunscreen Song is right, "Our choices are half chance, so are everybody else's."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Non-Breaking Spaces

I arrived in the parking lot of Kohl's armed with my 30% off coupon and $100 shiny dollars of Kohl's Cash. 

My love had the Middle & Monster Monkey's on the mats at wrestling practice leaving me and the Mini Monkey to enjoy a shopping excursion. 

Although there was nothing specific that we needed to purchase, I knew exactly where I was headed. 
You see, during one of my many shopping trips to purchase snow gear and new school pants for the ever growing Monkey's, there was one item that kept catching my eye. 

It was not an awesome pair of boots or a fabulously chunky silver  bracelet. 

It was this. 

An over-sized, metal Ampersand.  And it spoke to me. 

I have been seeking inspiration. Searching high and low for something to spark my interest, get my creative juices going. 

But nothing.  For days.  Nothing.

This is not the first "ampersand" I have purchased.  Strange but true.  I have a similar one in my office. 

The question is why?  Why am I drawn to this one item of punctuation?  This logogram that represents the conjunction word "and." 

Why does it speak to me?

The answer, in brief,  is that I am always seeking the "and." 

Something more.  Looking for the next, the newest, the best.  Beyond what I have, what I am, what I have already done.  Always looking for more. 


Someone has to stop me.

Help me see what I already have, what I've already done, what I already am. 

I am a wife & a mother & a teacher & a lover & a sister & a daughter & a Catholic & a Liberal &...

What else??? 

The "&" represents a non-breaking space.  It's functionality in HTML revolves around indicating when a space should NOT come, it tells a web browser when NOT to BREAK. 

I move seamlessly from mother, to wife, to teacher, to consumer, to daughter, to sister, to friend, to mentor, to blogger, to photographer, to artist, to author, to reader... 

I feel that pressure.  That message.  Do.  Not.  Break. 

And so I don't.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Furry Friends Edition

:) 2 Year Old
My NEWEST Neph"fur"ew

:) 2 Years Old
My NEW Sis"fur"

:) 3 Years Old
My Third Neph"fur"ew

:) 5 Years Old
My Second Neph"fur"ew

:)  6 Years Old
Our 2nd Furbaby

:( June 2006
Our first heartbreak :(

:)  9 Years Old
Our First Furbaby

:)  9 Years Old
Our Neph"fur"ew

:( September 2009
My Second "Furbaby"

:( September 2009
My FIRST Furbaby:)

:( March 2010
My Sis"fur"

:( February 2010
 My Broth"fur"-In-Law

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday with Monkey(s) - Entry #2 (Double Feature)

Today's entry is brought to you by snow and freezing rain.  Delivering two-hour delays to oversleeping teachers for countless years. 

Today's delay allowed for running, blogging with my boys, AND a much needed shower. 

This is a picture of Monster Monkey (blue) "playing" with Middle Monkey (red). 
The sentence is composed by Monster, using the Kid-Write Technique:)
This is a picture of me drawn by Middle Monkey.  I think the likeness is uncanny
as I do currently have "boy hair" and "willy willy wong wegs."

(I know I did:)

Monday, January 17, 2011

McFatty Monday - Week 3

It's ALL bad.

The good news...I have been running in the AM again - thanks to a little help from my cuz.

The bad news....I found four of the seven pounds I lost.  Shit.

The GOAL this week. 

  • Write down what I eat.  All of it.  Everyday. 
  • WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER - I got myself a pretty new bottle to drink my H2O out of...and
  • Run EVERYDAY:  I have my FANTABULOUS iTouch with my Nike+ running app and my Nike Running watch - I am READY to go...
  • Strenth Train:   I need to, want to, HAVE TO start strength training - HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO
  • Eat veggies:   I need to eat my veggies - just FREAKING eat them.  And not eat spoonfuls of peanut butter dipped in chocolate chips.  (yeah, I really do that)
So....Here we go again. 

Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Repost: The Most Mother's Club

"If he starts to choke, or his breath seems ragged just use the suction bulb to clear his nose and mouth.  It's up here in this cabinet."  She points to an overhead cupboard that may as well have been located in Milwakee.  "Oh, and while you have some time, you need to watch the warning video about Shaken Baby Syndrome and sign this waiver."

It is 1 a.m. and having spent the past 24 hours in labor and delivery giving birth to the largest child EVER, I have just now arrived to the "Maternity" floor.   Just moments before this woman arrived at my door with my baby in tow, I sent my husband home to get some sleep insisting that I would be "fine." 
"They are going to keep him in the nursery. I am just going to sleep.  Go home."
He reluctantly left, and would tell you to this day that leaving is one of his great regrets, regardless, I am alone and I am far from fine.

She pushes the little cart with the plastic bassinet towards the bed and says, "Are you breastfeeding?"

"I - I - I don't know, I want to....I mean...but...I-I-I don't know how." 

I am still sputtering, trying to remember how to form words when the nurse says, "Well, he's hungry, and MOST new mothers want to bond with their babies."  She lets the "most new mothers" bit hang in the air for a moment. 

In the six years that have passed since this particular night I have learned many things - not the least of which is that most SMART mothers gleefully send their infants to the nursery and relish a few hours of precious sleep. 
However, with the current situation unfolding as it was I possessed none of this knowledge and therefore, terrified of being a "bad mom," and fearful that some error of mine would "ruin" this perfect little person, I accepted the plastic bassinet and watched in horror as the nurse turned to leave. 

My son looks up at me, pensively.  He too is worried, as I clearly do not seem qualified to be caring for a newborn.  He is only six hours old but he is sure that mothers are not supposed to be so frightened of their children. 

Where is that big guy, he wonders?  Now that guy had his act together.

The kid was right.  I was a mess and it took me a good seven months to get my "sea legs" under me.  Thank God my husband was a natural parent, never batting an eye.

I did eventually get the hang of it, the whole "mommy thing." With each subsequent child I have given birth to, I have become a progressively more confident parent but when it comes to Riley Henry, my first born, there are a lot of times when I still feel like that frightened girl.  Stuttering, stammering, trying desperately to do the right thing but clueless as to what that might be. 
Even after six years I am still staring at this fabulous kid, wise beyond his years, complex, mutli-faceted, and creative, wondering, "Am I doing this right?"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Scary Genius

I came home from work yesterday all a flutter.  I had the ANSWER.  The SOLUTION.  The parenting concept that would make our lives PARADISE.  I had it and I couldn't wait to share it.

I sat my love down on the sofa in the living room.  I positioned my laptop in front of him and directed the browser to the genius herself, Scary Mommy . 

"What's this?" he asked warily.  "You want me to read it?  All of it?"
"Yes.  Read it NOW."

As he read, a smile played on the corner of his mouth, slowly working into a full grin.  His sleepy eyes lit up and shifted to look at me.

"Are we going to do this?" He asked.

"Oh, we are going to do this...we are going to do this ALL. NIGHT. LONG."

We called the monkey's together in the living room and explained that for one hour, Mommy and Daddy were going to spend time together and they were going to "play."  They could do anything they wanted with the exception of TV, Wii, and any other technological devices. 
"My brudder hitted me."

They were rather excited by the challenge of this assignment.  After a few clarifying questions from the Monster Monkey, who needed to be SURE of the RULES, they were off to parts unknown.

They spent a portion of the time plotting about how they would "spy on us." The Middle Monkey even stole my camera and snapped a few photos of us sitting on the couch talking, however, they quickly deemed us "completely boring" and moved on. 

"It's my dollhouse and I'm the police princess!"
A few times the Mini Monkey came to report some harm that had befallen her at the hands of her "big brudders" but after we refused to respond with our usual interventions she scooted back into the thick of things and delivered some interventions of her own.  We could hear her yelling the rules of playing with "her dollhouse."  Instructions to the big boys, who of course promptly obeyed.  

They laughed and squealed, they giggled and screamed with delight.  They had a BALL and the best part was that by 8pm, which is thier normal bedtime, they were BEAT - SPENT- EXHAUSTED.  "Playtime" had moved upstairs to the bedrooms by the time I went looking for them around 8 o'clock.  I found three sleepy monkey's snuggled into the Monster's bed while he read to them from a Leapster book. 

Ignoring your children is a brilliant idea.  Giving them enough room to just. be. kids.  Genius.  I wish I had thought of it first but I have to give the credit back to Scary Mommy and also to the generations of parents before us who knew when to say, "Go play."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Bathtime Edition

During the long winter evenings the bathtub is the best back-up plan in the world.  My monkey's sometimes spend hours during bathtime.  The small room, close quarters, and warm water create a soothing environment where my children find magical worlds to explore.  A can of shaving cream, some foaming soap and you can sit back and let the good times roll. 

Bathtime is one of my favorite times.  So as the snow falls softly outside, I thought I'd share a few pictures from baths gone by. 


Stay soapy!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday's with Monkey - Entry #1

I am so happy to introduce a new feature to my little corner of the Blogosphere. 

"Tuesday's with Monkey" will feature the ingenious introspection and clever creations of my very fabulous six-year old son.  I am sure that most of his entries will center around Super Mario Brothers and other Wii games and that is fine with me.  I, for one, think this blog could use some good video game content. 

This is original artwork by Monster Monkey. 
He authored and wrote the sentence by himself (without ANY help) and was very pleased with his work. 
This is a portrait of Mario and Luigi in a race. 

This idea is the brilliant brain child of Momma on the Rocks.  She calls her endeavor "Project We" and I think it is just fabulous.

She, like many of us, suffers from "Lackoftime Syndrome" which is a devastating disorder seen most commonly in women with children however, it can affect anyone. 

The disease is characterized by an uncontrollable desire to do more things than are humanly possible and associated guilt feelings with those things that do not get done.

Lackoftime Syndrome has varying levels of severity.  Mild cases are often mistaken for disorganization and poor time management and can clear up without treatment.  Symptoms include fatigue, disorientation, and at times complete bitchiness. 

This disease ha been been prevalent for generations but has only recently become the focus of attention in the mainstream media thanks to afflicted Bloggers who have given it a voice.

There are many treatments that will improve the symptoms of Lackoftime Syndrome.  The most effective treatment is complete isolation for a period of two days accompanied by large amounts of cheese and chocolate.  Multiple good books and a strong Wi-Fi connection are also essential to this treatment.

There is limited access to the isolation treatment for most women afflicted with the disease.  Other treatment programs have been developed to improve quality of life for those living with Lackoftime Syndrome.  These include "blogging therapy," wine, coffee or other "happy juice"  and pleasant interactions with the small people who make mothering worthwhile.

I think that Momma on the Rocks developed this feature as means to treat her Lackoftime Syndrome. 
"Project We" allows her to spend time with her son and share the fun of blogging.  I think she is really on to something.  This morning as Monster Monkey and I positioned ourselves at our respective workstations and set about creating we definitely had the "vibe" going.  He was drawing and coloring, I was writing and photoshoping.  We might be separated by years and gender but we are truly two peas in a pod. 

I hope you enjoy this feature half as much as I enjoyed making it.  And if you don't....well, tough turkey:)

Monday, January 10, 2011

McFatty Monday - Week 2

aahhhh....yyyeeeeaaahhh...soo...I'm a fresh-start failure.


The eating was good this week.  I officially lost 7lbs BUT I have not stayed true to my running and lifting goals. 

So....I'll make this post short and sweet.

I have been WAY off my game.  I need to get back on track and into a routine.

I honestly don't know how to make myself get up and run in the AM - but...I am going to try, AGAIN. 

So...wish me luck.

Maybe I'll have something more profound to say later. 

Love, ER

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I fell in love.

I was sitting on the floor of my daughters room and playing babies with her last night.  This is not a new activity or out of the ordinary in any way.  Her entire world really revolves around "babies." 

Anything can be a "baby" if you cover it with "blankie."  A shoe, a Transformer, a carrot. 

On this particular evening, however, the baby in question was actually a baby doll.  The Baby Alive doll was a gift from Santa and makes drinking noises like a real baby.  This was a fact that was overlooked on Christmas Day in all the excitement so you can imagine how excited she was to figure this out.

She is such a good little Mommy to her babies. Feeding, diapering, and brushing their teeth, she tenderly kisses each on the forehead.

As I watched my beautiful little girl lovingly feed her "baby" it occurred to me in a way that I had never before truly appreciated, that I have a daughter.   A little girl who will likely someday be a Mommy herself. 

I was flooded by a wave of emotions.  Images of my own mother watching in awe as I held my first born flashed in my mind.  I was suddenly aware of what an amazing gift it is to have a daughter. This daughter. 

Tears streamed down my face.  She turned to me and asked, "Mommy, why you cry?" 

"Because," I answer her, "I fell in love."

Monday, January 3, 2011

McFatty Monday - Inaugural Post

Today is Monday, January 3rd, 2011.  It is the first Monday of the new year.  Fresh start.  Clean slate.  Yadda Yadda Yadda.

It is my first edition of McFatty Monday, a GENIUS idea that I am biting off of one of my bloggy faves, Spilled Milk.  She gives the credit to creator Heir to Blair.  I suppose with a genius idea like this one there is plenty of credit to go around. 

I am DEDICATING myself to losing weight and shaping up.  For real.  I want to leave the house sans black fleece zip-up vest, which has become my "uniform" due to its ability to hide the GIANT spare tire that has settled comfortably around my midsection.  See in the vest I almost look normal.

But I'm not... and so, here we go.

My Eating Plan:  (Week 1)
  • Eat Fish & Lean Chicken - MORE MORE MORE
  • Eat Processed Meats - LESS LESS LESS
  • Eat fruit & veggies - MORE MORE MORE
  • Eat chips & crackers (empty carbs) - LESS LESS LESS
  • Drink Water - MORE MORE MORE
  • Drink Diet Soda - NONE NONE NONE
  • Drink hot tea w/ lemon instead of eating after 7 pm.
  • Break the sweet tooth.  I'll snap that b!tch right off,  God help me!! 
  • Coffee with skim milk & only serving of sugar free creamer.  (I can't - CAN. NOT. - live without my coffee and I'll kill anyone who tries to make me.  I swear I'll kill them. In a nice way.)
 My Exercise Plan:  (Week 1)
  • Monday - Strength Train
  • Tuesday - Run 3 miles
  • Wednesday - Run 2 miles
  • Thursday - Run 3 miles & Strength Train
  • Friday - Rest
  • Saturday - 30 mis Cross Train (Wrestling Matches = chasing 2 year old around a sweaty gymnasium for six hours)
  • Sunday - 4 mile run
I digress.

Stats:  +30

Mood:  HUNGRY, Hopeful, Happy, Hippopotamus

A New Day

I can't say I'm sorry to see 2010 go.  It was a year of ups and downs to rival the greatest roller coaster.  I wish I could say that in my memory it will be the year that my monster monkey lost his first tooth and the year that my middle monkey saw the Harlem Globetrotters with his best friend.  I wish I could say I'll remember it as the year that my littlest monkey grew big girl pigtails.   I wish I could say that, but I can't. 

2010 is the year that I almost lost everything that ever mattered to me.  And that is how it will stay. 

But.  2011 is a new year.  A fresh start.  A clean slate.

And so here are 11 things I would like to accomplish in 2011.

1.  Honor my boundaries.  The boundaries I set for myself and the boundaries that we establish for our children.  Boundaries like spending only 1 hour per day on the Internet/ DS/ Computer/ Wii.

2.  Fit into my pre-pregnancy clothing.  Yes, my mini monkey is 2.5 years old and most of the clothing in reference here is no longer in style but that is beside the point.  I would like to know that I can, if I am so inclined, wear a middle rise, dark denim wash pair of boot leg Gap Jeans from 2002. 

3.  Attend Mass 52 weeks in a row.  I am Roman Catholic.  I married a Roman Catholic.  Growing up both of our families attended Mass weekly, without fail, for 20 years.  I can't figure out what seems to be our excuse.

4.  Finish my blogs in the morning or not at all.    On the days that I don't finish my blog in the morning, it drives me to distraction for the rest of the day and I spend every extra moment on the computer forsaking my job, husband and children to complete a blog that only matters to six people.

5.  Keep my morning routine.  If I wake at a consistent 4 AM then I have time to fit it all in.  I thrive on routine and schedules.  Everything goes to shit without it. Nuff said. 

6. Drink more water.

7.  Complete a Tough Mudder on April 11th with my husband.  Dear GOD, I am heartily sorry for having place this item on my "Things To Do List"  - Please don't make me...Love, Erin

8.  Register and run in the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia on May 1st, 2011.  10 miles. Easy Peasy.

9.  Register and run in the Harrisburg City Half Marathon in September.  Oh. Dear. God. 

10.  Organize my files.  This includes files on my school computer, my laptop, my home PC and all of my photo files.  See you in 2020.

11.  Prioritize my time commitments, keeping my family #1 ALWAYS. 

So there it is.  My list of things I want to do in 2011. 

Looks like I'll be busy, but in my spare time I'd love to read what's on your agenda.  What's on your agenda?