Shoes and Socks

November 30, 2016

I have to get something off my chest. I hate shoes and socks. I really wish someone had told me that half my parenting life was spent worrying about shoes and socks. From finding matching socks to putting shoes on wiggling little feet to the smell of shoes after a day of tween feet in the summer- everything about shoes is one giant parenting nightmare; and there is always a stranger around to remind me of the unspoken foot law.


Where in the history of mankind does it actually say that socks have to match? Perhaps there was a time when they all matched. Then dryers were invented: the anti-sock. Every time a dryer is run, a sock loses its twin. I have one athletic Puma sock from my college days. It lingers at the bottom of the missing sock basket, longing for the return of its mate-the same way I long for the return of my size 4 pant size. If foot law is ever studied, the day I became a parent has to go down as the pinnacle turning point for any established matching principle.

Why do socks always need to match? I answered that question about five years ago: they don’t. It starts with the pairing of similar socks. Two socks: pink at the bottom but different designs around the ankle: match. A black and really dark brown trouser sock: match. Two white socks, one adult and one child sized: match. It was a nice relief, just grab two socks and out the door. Not the endless pursuit for sock twins-which was to blame for most of my tardiness; most of it. If we are wearing boots and the socks don’t match who actually cares? About five years ago the Justice phenomenon happened. EVERYTHING Liv owned had to come from “Justice for Girls”. She would beg for those sparkly pull over shirts with bedazzled peace signs and a logo in bold sequins. Going to Justice with Liv was always stressful. She had a specific idea of what she wanted (banana earrings, monster high dolls, best friend necklaces, knee high “converse” looking boots with a blue leopard print and even more sequins). One day, she picked out a pack of socks. Unmatching socks. “Wait, you want to spend ten dollars for a pack of socks that don’t match? I have a whole basket at home. You can be the trendiest person in the second grade.” This was met with giant sad eyes so we bought them. I may have overpaid for that pack of socks, but as soon as that trend hit, they never wore matching socks again. Zebra on one foot? Watermelon on the other? So trendy and cool. How can we ever go back?


We are approaching winter, shoes season. The babies hardly wore shoes all summer. There was no point since they were always taking them off. I was perfectly fine with my loss on that battle. They were probably well known at the playground: the Barefoot Taylors. Don’t let your kids see; they will start to get crazy ideas about a barefoot utopia. Jackson was climbing the slide ladder monkeying his toes around the bars for better stability. An intently watching little boy began to take his off as well. “No No!.” his mom scolded. “We don’t take our shoes off. See. Mommy has shoes on. And daddy has shoes on. Sister has shoes on and brother has shoes on.” She condescended. The kid shrugged and ran off to the tire swing.

Just when I think I am starting to get this whole stay at home mom thing down; I get a little too confident. My plan: two stores and a drive through to the bank. First fail: getting them out of the door. I found at least four single shoes for Cece. In a rage of annoyance, I walked through each room. Looking in corners, and bookshelves and toy bins. Where is another shoe?! I put her socks on. She immediately took them off. Where is the other shoe? Jackson started taking off his pants. “No!” I yell. “Go bye-bye” I put his pants back on just as Cece follows his lead and takes hers off. Are you serious? I line up all her unmatched shoes. Hoping I was missing one possible mate. No luck. Jackson is running circles in the middle of the living room and crashing into the Christmas tree. Bulbs are rolling and I am still hunched under the couch praying a shoe will suddenly appear in the same place I have searched twenty times before. Finally, I find a pair of Jackson’s old shoes that are slightly too small on him and way too big on her. I tie them as tight as I can and load them in the car. Store 1: grocery store. Thanks to some free turkey at the deli, we somehow make it to the checkout with no meltdowns or sudden urges to climb out of the cart. Next stop: the bank to deposit cash. Fancy. I think as I slide my cash into the machine. “Error.” The screen reads, and only half of it comes back out. “Temporarily out of service” was the only explanation it had. I panic staring at the other half of my cash. I debate on whether it is enough to take Jackson and Cece into the bank. They are both sleeping and I am not prepared – I have no books, no toys, no candy and my phone screen is cracked. Cece remained sleeping and Jackson woke up and ran around the bank; pressing his face against the glass while people were meeting with bankers, trying to type on the computer in an empty cube, drawing pictures on the pamphlets. We had to wait to fill out some report. Luckily an extremely patient stranger let us go ahead of him. Last stop: Target – where toddlers turn into nightmares. Cece had one shoe off. I ignored any urge to put the other one back on. The good thing is that we only needed one item: the last of Josh’s birthday present. The bad thing is that electronics are located right next to toys. “Paw Patrol!!” Jackson kept yelling. “Get Skye! Get Rocky! Need pups!” We make it to the checkout since I caved and bought him a pup. He had the packaging open and the bar code was destroyed. While two cashiers were assisting on the pup crisis, the woman behind us entertained Cece. “Where is your shoe? She kept asking.

The photo that perfectly sums up parenting


Thanksgiving Hangover

November 27, 2016

We pulled into our driveway. Back to our familiar little house, back to our familiar little life. The comfort was quickly replaced by screaming: toddler screaming. Jackson started yelling. “Kimmy house! Kimmy house!” He fell asleep in mid tantrum when we left my sister’s house, three hours earlier, and resumed as soon as we got home. He stomp-cried his way up the front steps as my hands shoved gently guided him through front door. This was met with more crying; as if he was in desperate despair and “Kimmy house” were the only words he knew. “He is hungry” I translated walking into the familiarity of my house. A house that nailed the mannequin challenge: everything still in a state of disarray created by trying to usher four children in the car. A reminder of that Wednesday morning was frozen in time, the drawers were half open in failed attempts to match socks and the dishes were stacked in a failed attempt to load the dishwasher. I sifted through our refrigerator and pantry for a quick snack and realized the reality of being out of town – no grocery shopping. After contemplating serving him Ketchup, I looked around for traces of his three approved meal options, mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, or cereal. His fierce loyalty to keeping his coat off made me hesitant to try anything else, but the only real food option we had was leftover thanksgiving dinner. I tried some mashed potatoes. “No! Peanut butter jelly!” He demanded, jamming his hood over his head as a cold reminder that he was in charge. “We don’t have any bread.” I reasoned. “How about turkey?” As if that was some secretly approved menu item no one told me about. “Go Kimmy house!” His back stiffened and he was slinking out of the chair. Shit is getting real – he is taking this tantrum to the floor.  I opened the pantry in my own quest to find Dory – the Dory themed box of mac and cheese. I see cereal, Chocolate Cheerios, and do a quick victory twirl. “Coco Cereal?” I suggest. The crying stops like a glimpse of sunshine over the gray clouds. “Jackson want coco cereal.” (Yes I am raising Tarzan). I empty the last of the cereal into his bowl and topped it with the remaining milk. He begins to devour the cereal and looks up at me. “Jackson want coco milk” he requests. I point out the newly formed chocolate milk in his bowl. He sips for a second. “Jackson want coco milk” he says again. “How about apple juice?” I fill one of his cups with juice and try to find a straw lid. He is partial to the straws lately over the sippy lids, one more step toward cup independence. I can’t find the straws. Damn, probably buried in the pile of dishes I have yet to load or attached to stray cups tucked under the couch, or bed, or any other random place I cringe to think milk is hiding. “No lid!” He yells as I had him the juice. He is kicking his feet against the table. I see a cereal spill in the near future and sit on the chair next to him, finally removing my coat and shoes – ready to reason.

Me: No Straw, lid. Do you want to sit in time-out?

Toddler: Straw! Straw! Straw!

Me. No straw, lid. Time out!

Toddler: Straw. Jackson want straw!

Me. Time out?!

Jackson: Go to Kimmy house!

 Finally, I removed the lid and he drank the juice.

 I like to refer to this phenomenon as a Thanksgiving hangover. We all had it. The sluggish movements, the desperation not to go back to normal conflicted with the need to be relaxed and settled at home while doing absolutely nothing. Thanksgiving is a time of indulgence. I am thankful for food on the table: so I eat so much food that it drowns my stomach in a gluttonous decadence; so thankful for family that we over indulge in the warmth and the buzz of togetherness. The good parties always result in an emotional hangover. When I have a good time, it is easy to feel a hesitation to jump back into normal routine. I just want to keep the party going. As a parent of a toddler, I know the price of any party and it is a multiple day hangover – the kind that used to come with epic nights of tequilla. In that moment, I realized what I was truly thankful for. In those final defining months of my working life, I couldn’t afford a multiple day hangover. It would have grabbed hold of me, around my neck so I was barely breathing. There were always deadlines, and schedules that weren’t mine. I am thankful for the moment we pulled in the driveway and I was no longer hung over. My home, my life- my little adventure of a life-now on my terms. We will be back to normal, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day. That night I ate two pieces of pie for dinner. After, I ran to the neighborhood convenience store and did one of my most normal tasks: I grabbed a gallon of milk and a bottle of wine.

Hanging with Papa, Blue and some friends. No wonder he didn’t want to leave. xoxo

Perfectly imperfect

November 21, 2016

There are days when I feel like I am damn near perfect. A day when everything just goes my way. I got the closest spot at the grocery store. My kids were only mildly needy. I am wearing a beautifully accessorized outfit. The toddlers were actually wearing shoes and their socks match. My preteens asked me for advice. I am on top of my game. Life-nailed it. Then there is every other day. The one where a diaper exploded so much that I threw away the pants rather than try to wash them. The day when even my favorite jeans just didn’t fit right. I have been trying to make a lot of positive changes lately. I am eating healthy and working out. My steps are in and I am getting up earlier. Mostly, I am allowing myself to fail and setting myself up for success by eliminating the notion of failure. This aura of perfection I created is not going to happen. I am not going to have the perfect kids, or job or body or house it is just too exhausting. I am perfectly happy with being perfectly imperfect – sounds perfect. (Yes, the over emphasis perfect was intentional) To enforce that, I am sharing a shining moment of imperfection. Since it is such a cold and dreary day, I figured I should share a story from warmer days

I ate the Cake Pop. The day was hot but the Farmers Market remained busy; knowing it is best to get there early, we struggled to get out the door by ten. It was either a morning of needy toddlers or the effects of a few hours of good company, live music and tequilla the night before. Either way, it was hard to put on clothes that morning. Everything that wasn’t my ratty pajama bottoms just hurt, both physically and mentally. With subtle vainness, I put as much stock into what I wear to the market as Josh does trying to find the perfect heirloom tomato. I obsessively get the babies ready while darting into my room to add or change something about my outfit until I get that whole “I really put no thought into this outfit” Saturday morning vibe. (This outfit brought to you by Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). Here’s the thing, the more put together my outfit is that day, the more like myself I feel. Every detail is a reflection and I just don’t feel quite right unless I have some way of putting it all together. These days, my body is showing the effects of the birth of my fourth child in my mid thirties and the three Gs of getting old have taken over: gravity, gluttony and grays. When the hell did my arm skin start to drop? Why is my belly button four times bigger than its original size? Same with my ass? Will I ever lose that last twenty pounds? Point being: I need all the self-esteem boasters I can get. Luckily I usually wear Cece to the farmers market to allow Josh to have full agility. Baby on the front hides all the tummy flab, strange side boob flab and even ass flab (a little stretchy on that one). It doesn’t hurt that she is cute as shit, so she is basically the perfect accessory.

As always, the market is busy,people are everywhere, and it is really humid. We get to the first stand and Josh gets a giddy spring in his step. He is eagerly deciding between springtime and fall honey while feeling up tomatoes and carefully selecting the best cuts of meat. As always, I hang back and people watch while piling more canvas and plastic bags on the stroller. Somewhere between the Kimchi and gluten free cupcakes I inherited the following jobs: stroller pusher, the holder of all bags and the maker of silly faces to keep babies entertained between stands. I am used to it by now, but at that first stand I could feel Olivia beginning to singe with impatience. “I wish I would have brought some water” she said. Translation: I am going to make a sad face until you buy me a drink. “What are we having for lunch?” Translation: You will feel my eyes burn the back of your skull until you feed me. I am becoming more fluent in preteen these days. When I saw her oogle a cupcake at the bakery stand I knew she wasn’t going to make it. Josh shrugs and hands her ten dollars. “Get a treat for your brother too. She quickly chooses a brownie and I grab two cake pops.

We saunter through the crowd and find Josh cradling a basket of peaches. I hand Jackson and Cece their cake pops and continue to weaved around people. Josh was stocking up on garlic and handmade pasta and chattering about what we were going to make this week. Stuffed peppers. Mmm. A bowl with the cilantro pasta and muddle some honey and fresh blackberries with tequilla for a fresh margarita. Damn, I am hungry. I glance back at Cece. Her face is covered in chocolate. She mashed a piece of the cake pop into the strap of the carrier. I have been meaning to wash that carrier anyway. She just moved that task to the already crowded to do list. Sorry scrubbing grout in just got bumped back, again. I really wish I had breakfast. One random tidbit about the early years of parenting: there is no breakfast. Here we are going on lunch and I have yet to eat. I turn my head and take a quick bite of Cece’s cake pop, somehow managing to avoid the spot she has been sucking on. The frosting sticks to my mouth with a slightly fudgy consistency which is what is causing it to linger. It is amazing. Holy shit. And the cake. Yellow cake. So moist. That bite of cake cured a whole week of stress. It was like bakery angels playing the harp. Yeah, I was that fucking good. Or I was just that hungry.

Our bags were full and we were walking toward our car. I was lost in a gaze at all the different treasures offered at the market. Home made soap. Beautiful cut flowers. Breads and cheeses and dips, oh my. It is impossible not to feel hungry. “wait. Wait. Wait” the cross walk signal jolted me out of my trance. Then we were crossing. Not the most attentive, I was the last person to cross. I turned to look at the road and in the very corner of my eye, I saw the cake pop. Cece was shaking it and it came loose and bounced right off the stick and into the crosswalk. I hesitated and looked down. “Oh no, Cece”. I said mainly because anything told to a baby makes you sound ten time less crazy. We wouldn’t want anyone to get that on their shoe. I quickly picked it up and scurried back into the flow of the crowd. Looking around, I could tell that no one was paying attention to me. Just another mom wearing a baby at the farmers market. I hardly stood out. Using this to my advantage, I ate the cake pop. And it was so damn good that I didn’t even feel I twinge of shame. Well maybe not right away.

Toddler Savings Time

November 9, 2016

I hear crying. I am confused. It is still dark out. “Let Jackson out!” then more crying. “Let Jackson out!”. It is starting to register. “Fucking 6:30,” I mutter as I look at my phone in disgust, as if Jackson’s early awakening is its fault. My eyes are struggling to open, partly due to darkness but mostly due to last night’s mascara I forgot to remove. This is why Moms don’t get a night out. I grumbled as I finally rolled out of bed to get Jackson before his yelling woke his sleeping little sister. Open the door and he is sitting on his bed crying. “Living room! Living room!” he yells, immediately squashing my inner instinct to lay in bed with him and hopefully get another hour.

 We lay on the couch as he nestles up against me. I give him an encouraging kiss on the head; still hopeful this isn’t our official wake time. “Watch Paw Patrol” he insists. I look at the TV; then the remote; the TV is closer but both involve getting up so I switch on the TV then flop back onto the couch. I resume controlling the Nick Jr. app from my phone. After a series of menu prompts, I get to Paw Patrol and switch on the first episode that comes on. “No No No” he demands. “Monkey! Monkey!” there is an episode where the pups save a monkey. It is his favorite one. I can’t see enough through my mascara glue glasses-less fog. This one? No! This one? No! This one? No. His cuddling has turned into flopping and his cold toes keep hitting my bare legs. We finally find the monkey episode and resume calm cuddling. I can feel my eyes start to close, drifting off into Mom sleep –soft, light, but still aware. He starts whimpering and presses his face up to mine. “Appe Juce” he whispers. Huh? “Apple Juice!” he yells. “Apple juice please. Mom” I correct as if any polite courtesy is going to make up for me having to get up again. “Appe Juce Peese” he says in a sweet tone. I got him some juice and gave up on getting anymore sleep.

It was Sunday, the first day of daylight savings. Our physical clocks had been changed, but our mental ones were still confused. It is jet lag and no vacation. Every six months, the god of time decides we need to shake it up. Would you like it to be dark at dinner? Yes. Do you already have trouble being on time and going to bed? Let me make it worse. I struggle to be a routine adult. I am usually late, never organized, last-minute planning, no schedule sort of stuff. I can’t always do and feel the same thing every day: motivation. Some days I am a machine -I clean, organize, write, exercise, even shower. Some days I give into the blah and enjoy some needed laziness. I spent a lot of time thinking there was something wrong with me for that. When will I become a responsible adult? Creeping into my late thirties, I assumed this is something that would happen by now. Being a mother of four has forced a schedule on me. I have come to realize toddlers need structure. They seem to eat and sleep better that way. Sigh, I probably should have read more of those mother hood manuals. Maybe there would have been a chapter on surviving daylight savings time. “How to save daylight and sanity: the double toddler edition.”

 Once the morning disruption was ironed out, the day continued in the longest and most delightful way possible. A weird, extra hour Zen seemed to wash over the town. Maybe it was the sunny, seventy-degree fall Sunday…in Ohio November that made morning stress melt away. It was only an extra hour right? I cleaned the house. The girls cleaned their room-with minimal eye rolling. Laundry is done and the kitchen sink is (gasp) empty. We went to the library, then the playground. At the playground, Jackson walked up to a little girl and knocked her over. But guess what? The mom was actually cool about it. It was almost blaringly too good to be true. I just knew there would be a payoff for this. “All magic comes with a price.” I muttered, thanks Once Upon a Time.

 The evening was the revenge. As soon as the sun started to set, Jackson started to turn- like a toddler werewolf. I was sitting in my chair, taking a minute to relax when the turn started. All of a sudden Jackson became Tigger. His top was made out of rubber, and his bottom made of springs. He was bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy. He wanted to sit on my lap then stiffen his body so he would roll to the floor. Then he wanted to yank the “recline” button on my chair, causing a surprised reaction as it flipped out. Then he wanted to run and throw himself on the couch. Then he climbed up on me like a dog -who sniffs my hair and licks my face. Then he stood on the arm of the chair. “Get down!” I threatened. I tried to grab him but he jumped. As I attempted to resume a conversation with Liv, he jumped back on the arm and then on the back of the headrest and started to flip on the lights. I grabbed him off the chair and took him downstairs to play. At least then he could jump all over the furniture and land on a carpeted surface.

 We made it to early evening  before all hell really broke loose. Josh made burgers in some hipster chef way that involved two thin patties with some caramelized onions in the center. Yes, it was pretty damn amazing but Jackson didn’t agree. I put his burger and tater tots in front of him and he curled himself under my chin. “Jackson scared”. He said. Lately he is afraid of everything; trains, alligators, kids at the park, and on and on. “What is Jackson scared of?” He didn’t respond. I grabbed his burger and pretended to take a bit. “Yum. Jackson’s burger.” I said. “No! No! “Snakes in there. Bugs in there. Spiders in there. Jackson scared.” He yelled. “There are no snakes in your burger.” I promised. “No! Bugs in there. Jackson want a treat.” By treat, he was referring to the Halloween candy. About a week old, we were somewhere between eating all the good stuff and ignoring the rest, causing it to remain until next Halloween. His favorite was Nerds, and we had enough left to keep him up for a week. “Eat your burger first.” I said, knowing I was already loosing that battle over a fictitious snake. He kept yelling about the treat. “No.” I kept saying more firmly; I threatened going to bed, time out and even kicking his ass. (The last one in my head of course..). He was in meltdown mode. Flailing all over the ground like something out of a horror movie. He stood up and threw himself at the TV console table. He wasn’t close enough and landed splat on the ground. The anger intensified as he wound up again and made contact with a bedroom door. BAM! He hit his head. His crying was confused. Pain? Anger? “Are you ok?” I asked. He responded by throwing himself back on my lap. Josh and I both had our recliners out; eagerly ready for bedtime. He tried to climb on the table between us. “No!” I said. He threw himself at Josh’s recliner and missed, hitting his head on the bar holding the chair out. This cry was all pain. He ran right back to me as I inspected his head. “Band Aid” he yelled. He is in the Band-Aid for everything phase and buying Thomas the Train ones wasn’t the best idea. He followed me to the bathroom as I retrieved the Band-Aid- hoping to get a Percy one since we always get a little chuckle out of his mispronunciation of “Percy”. (Look Mom-Jackson got “Percy” on my arm). “Jackson do it!” he declares. “Ok. Fine. You do it”. He immediately puts the Band-Aid on the wall. Then peels it off. Then puts it on his arm, then the door. As he peels it off the door, the corner sticks together. I knew this wasn’t fixable but did my best attempt to try to pry the corner off the rest of the Band-Aid. He is on tantrum fire and his continuous stop; drop and roll isn’t working. I give up. Guess who gets to watch a bunch of other kids play with toys on YouTube for the next hour? Good thing he is cute- see below

 It was the final part of the game (insert cliché sports metaphor here). I was losing to day light savings. Here’s my comeback story: they were both asleep before 9. Victory. Ready to savor in my victory in true mom style fashion: I poured a big glass of wine. I had a drink for all the changes I have endured lately and for the ones I am trying to conquer. I had a drink for all the Moms out there that are struggling to wrangle in toddlers after their demise is easily set by a lost hour.