You aren’t even going to believe this.

We flew to Florida last night and the girls were … well, they were good.

No. They were GREAT.

Okay, let me back up.

The day did NOT start off well. We were only two days past the craziness of Christmas, and we were facing our second day stuck in the house thanks to the Blizzard of 2012. Let’s just say the girls worked together very well – tag-teaming to keep the Time-Out seat warm. Around 9:00-ish (am, everyone. am) Paige threw a 47-minute fit because she couldn’t reach her piggy bank.

Forty. Seven. Minutes. I wish I could say that was an exaggeration. (You’ve got to hand her this – she’s taking the weeks leading up to Oscar season VERY seriously. At one point, she threw herself across her bed and yelled “You don’t even love me! You just hate me!! I’m serious!!!!”)

Blair dumped her breakfast all over the floor. The kiwi was a pretty quick clean. The oatmeal, not so much. Ramsey, I never thought I’d say it, but I miss you. I’ve never had the vacuum and the mop out so much in 4 days!

To say my expectations for our 7:15 pm flight followed by an hour car ride were low would be a drastic understatement. I may or may not have made the following announcement at the beginning of the ride to the airport:

“Let’s just all keep our expectations for tonight as low as possible. That way, we’ll be pleasantly surprised if things go even remotely well.”

Well, color me surprised.

We got through the check-in process and security quickly. The girls even earned Junior TSA badges … which, come to think of it, might actually be an insult. They were being sweet and smiley, I promise.

Derrick and I took them to an actual sit-down restaurant. With menus and everything. And we didn’t draw stares. Not once. (Okay, they did both have iPads in front of them and headphones on, but honestly … we were going to do whatever it took to make this evening at least tolerable.)

At the gate, the girls sat on the floor and watched a movie on my laptop. I was pleased, but not optimistic. People smiled with that “Oh, look at those cute little girls” look on their faces and I just smiled back and thought “Wait for it, folks. You have NO idea how horrible these girls can make the next few hours of your lives.”

We boarded the plane with relative ease. Granted, we were in Business Class (thanks for the upgrade, Nani and Botsie!!), but still. At a certain point it doesn’t matter where your seats are located. You still have to tie down put seatbelts on two excited, tired, wriggling kids.

At the rest of the flight was uneventful. Even with Derrick across the aisle. Hand to God.

The girls had suckers during takeoff and gladly handed them to me with the promise of an iPad. They watched some ‘Doc McStuffins’ and ‘Daniel Tiger.’ And when Blair started getting restless, I put lullabies on my iPod and she quickly fell asleep on my chest (yes, this flight was brought to you by Apple).

Ladies and gentleman: I got to have wine. Not whine. WINE.

Paige watched ‘The Sound of Music’ for the rest of the flight, and we landed without incident.

Okay. This is the point in the story where you might start thinking I’m just making shit up.

After we deplaned, we were walking to the bathroom when a woman turned around and said “Oh my gosh. Your girls were SO well-behaved on the flight!”

Oh. My. God.

This wasn’t just any woman. It was the woman who had been sitting in the row directly behind us.

Folks – people say a lot of things to me about my kids.

So cute! Thank you. But don’t get too close – they’ll scratch your eyes out.
So funny! I know, they definitely make me laugh.
So much energy! Really? I hadn’t noticed.
So smart! Let’s hope they use that for good one day, and not evil.
So loud! Um, that’s not a compliment … but I agree.

But so well-behaved? Never. Never in their entire lives.

I wanted to cry.

Both girls slept the entire car ride from Tampa to Longboat Key, and quickly went to bed once we got to the condo. We were flabbergasted. Botsie, Nani, Derrick and I just sat around staring at each other. We kept saying “They were so good!” As if we had just discovered that the Smurfs were real or something equally as unbelievable (sorry for the spoiler, fellow Smurf Fan Club members – I too was disappointed to find out they were make-believe. Gargamel and Azraell, not so much).

Let’s just say I’m pretty sure last night was my double rainbow. My 4-leaf clover. My winning Powerball ticket. My … well, you get the point. I’m certain this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

And I’ll take it. My belief that I was a good mom was restored, albeit for a fleeting moment of self-satisfaction.

Never fear. Ive been brought back down a few notches today. They’ve been decent, but Paige has already been in Time-Out more than once (she remembered where it was from last time) and Blair didn’t nap.

But for that one, brief, shining moment we were THAT family.

And my girls were “so well-behaved.”

Merry Christmas!

Well, we survived Christmas 2012, and are now hunkered down hoping to survive what they are calling ‘The Blizzard of 2012.’ Call me crazy, but I’m actually looking forward to a day or so of being stuck inside. I can pack for our trip, take down decorations and clean before we leave. The kids can play with all their new toys.

Wait, and fight over their new toys. And ‘unclean’ all the cleaning I’ve done.

Seriously. Call me crazy.

Anyhoo – back to Christmas.

That sneaky old elf Santa brought me an extra-special gift on Christmas Eve – the flu! Wasn’t that sweet of him? I didn’t have a fever, but spent most of the evening/night enjoying the other flu-like symptoms (My Mamo had a very polite, very Southern word for it: upchuck.)

Still, we powered through and brought Christmas to the Feldmann house. So, so much work leading up to this one day. And yet, our morning played out like this:

  • 6:12 am: Paige begins yelling that she would like to get out of bed to see if ‘Snanta’ ate his cookies.
  • 6:20: Still yelling … really just one, long continuous yell.
  • 6:30: Derrick goes to get Paige out of bed, as she has yelled to let us know her clock has turned yellow. (She was not allowed to get out of bed on her own today, because she had to wait to see everything until Blair was awake).
  • 6:31: The suggestions of “Let’s go wake up Bear” begin.
  • 6:40: The hazing is successful, and we finally wake up Blair.
  • 6:45: The girls come downstairs, run to check to see if Santa ate his cookies, then race over to see their gifts.
  • 6:55: Gift opening is complete.
  • 7:00: The girls are playing with toys they already had, some of them since Paige was a baby.
  • 7:01: Paige begins asking when she’s going to see her cousins.

Yep, I’d call that a success. I guess?

Since I was still feeling horrible, I decided I’d take a hot bath. I was hoping I would be able to relax enough to start feeling a little better. I slipped into the water and grabbed my book “Raising Your Spirited Child.” Perfect bathtime reading, right? Welcome to my life.

Then the bathroom door opened, and Paige walked in. The following conversation occurred:

P: “What are you doing, Mommy? Are you in the bath? Why are you in the bath? Can I take a bath with you? Pleeeeeaaaasssse?”

M: “No, honey. Mommy is just trying to feel a little better. Remember, I don’t feel very good and sometimes a warm bath helps.”

P: (touching the water) “OH, MOMMY!!! That is WAY too hot! Look! The circles say ‘HOT!'” (pointing to our non-skid stickers that also have temperature warnings. Yes, the temp warnings work. No, the anti-skid does not. Ironically, they slide all over the place and I’ve almost ‘shang-haied’ it multiple times while showering.)

M: “It’s okay, honey. Grown-ups can have their water a little warmer than kids.”

P: “Mommy, your book is going to get wet. That is NOT safe. Here.” (She takes my book and tosses it. I’m beginning to feel less better, and a little bit bullied.). “You know what? I’m just going to sit here and watch you, okay? Then you will feel better and be safe.”

M: “Thanks, honey. Nothing makes a bath more relaxing than having someone sit on a stool and watch you” (luckily she doesn’t yet sense all the sarcasm).

(After a few minutes of me closing my eyes and pretending to be alone while Paige stares at me and continues to touch the water to make sure it’s cooling down, we hear someone on the stairs. 

Enter Blair – pushing the door open so hard that it bounces off the wall.)

B: “Maaaaaammmmaa!!! Ba?” (pointing to the water). “Ba? Bebe, ba?” (This loosely translates to “Mommy? Bath? Baby bath? She now refers to herself in the third person when she wants something. She’s totally “that girl.”)

M: “No, no baby. We’re getting ready to leave soon.” (Come to think of it, I call her ‘baby’ a lot. Maybe she thinks her actual name is Baby?).

B: “Bebe ba!”

And she jumps in. Headfirst. In her jammies. And her diaper.

And then Paige, who is already dressed in her Christmas outfit, runs into the hall, yells “Daddy, I’m getting into the bath with Mommy and Bear,” undresses faster than I’ve ever seen her undress (seriously, this process usually involves at least two fits) and jumps into the tub with us.

And that’s how my relaxing Christmas morning bath turned into a VERY full tub (we live in an old house, and our tub was crowded already with just me). We all played for a bit and got squeaky clean.

And, you know what?

I actually DID feel a whole lot better.

It was a FULL day with lots of gifts, laughs and love, even though I didn’t feel great. And the day ended much the way it began.

The girls, Derrick and I were all in our jammies in our big bed. The lights were off, the small Christmas tree in our room was lit, and I was showing the girls a few scenes of ‘The Sound of Music.’ They were mesmerized. And I was practically purring I was so happy.

A very, VERY Merry Christmas indeed.

Ho, Ho, … Eh

I’m pretty sure my girls have called Santa’s bluff. (Or, ‘Snanta’, as we call him in our house).

Don’t get me wrong. They LOVE the idea of Santa. Paige stops dead in her tracks every time he pops up on TV in a book. And Blair can “ho, ho, ho” with the best of them.

Paige knows he’s magical, and that he arrives inside our house through our chimney. She knows he is the one who fills the stockings, and that he LOVES milk and cookies (so she obviously knows he’s not an idiot – who doesn’t love milk and cookies?!?).

She has written her letter to him, and asked for a pink bike (sorry, Paige – Santa only made purple AND pink bikes this year). Oddly, she said that Mommy and Daddy want new computers. Poor Blair only wants a candy cane, which I’m guessing Paige would probably take away from her and eat anyway.

She also knows that in order for said gifts to arrive, she must be a good girl. She knows there is a ‘Naughty’ list and a ‘Nice’ list. And, she has been told MULTIPLE times over the past few weeks that her name is probably going back and forth between the two.

Here’s the thing. She doesn’t care. Seriously doesn’t give one sh… well … you know.

We have taken her gifts away, and she is well-behaved just long enough to earn them back. Then she starts the ‘losing them’ process all over again. I’ve talked to Santa on the phone with her in the room, and she has the nerve to throw a fit within his earshot. She’s even pushed her sister down right in front of Rudy, our Elf on a Shelf.

Get this: the little punk even lied right to his face and told him that she had been a “really good girl” this year.

She’s got balls – I’ll give her that.

Maybe ‘4’ is the age where the threat of Santa starts working on behavior? Perhaps ‘3’ is too young (never mind the fact that she will actually BE 4 in less than a month)?

Let’s hope, because I’m pretty sure Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. NOT the most let’s-see-how-angry-we-can-make-mommy-because-her-face-looks-crazy-when-she-yells time of the year. (As I’m writing this Paige just sat on top of Blair and elbowed her – and Blair retaliated by ripping her glasses off her face. Such a sweet relationship.)

As for Blair … well, let’s just say the “ho, ho, ho” part of Santa is the ONLY part she is interested in this Christmas.

Yes, they are wearing Halloween jewelry – this was at a meeting celebrating the success of the Haunted House … and just to confuse my kids a little more I had them wearing Halloween stuff while they sat on Snanta’s lap. I am SUCH a good mom …

Here’s looking at you, Christmas 2013.

A Mother’s Tears

I don’t even know where to start.

I wasn’t even sure I should write a post about the events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Because I think that whatever I write will only express a sliver of the grief I am feeling. A tiny amount of the anger. And none of the fear.

Shootings seem to be commonplace anymore. Yet I remember being in the senior wing of the Alpha Chi house at IU when Columbine happened, and I remember watching the coverage with my roommates. It was the first time I had seen anything like that. The first time it ever even entered into my consciousness that something like that could happen at all. All I could think about was the kids and how scared they must be.

But now I’m a mom. Of small kids. And I’m not saying that Columbine or any other shooting is at all LESS tragic than this. But … I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just different for me this time.

I have been feeling sick to my stomach because all I can do is imagine various scenarios that must have been happening at Sandy Hook. All I can think about are the moments in that Kindergarten classroom – the sounds of those small children. All I can think about is what those innocent babies – the same age as my sweet, sweet niece Natalie – must have experienced. All I can think about are the siblings of those children who must have been in other classrooms of the school. All I can think about are the hours that must have seemed like days to the parents waiting in line to pick up their children.

And the parents who no longer were able to pick up their children. The fact that those children probably already have wrapped Christmas presents under the tree. That the lives of those families are forever empty, and their hearts are forever broken.

Derrick keeps getting upset with me because I am watching coverage of it on the news (or, rather, have the news paused for hours at a time because I refuse to have it on while the girls are in the room). But, I tried to explain to him it’s not that I WANT to watch it. It’s that I feel like I have to. I feel like burying my head in the sand and pretending like it didn’t happen would be a grave disservice to the people who lost their lives, and to the parents who lost their babies.

And I feel like ignoring it is what got us into this mess in the first place. We cannot keep pretending that mental illness is a taboo topic. Or pretending that the we don’t recognize when someone we love is on the precipice of a meltdown. Or looking the other way when someone is sick and in need of help, even if we don’t know what to do.

We cannot keep pretending that it is okay for people NOT in the military or law enforcement to own automatic weapons and carry guns into public places. I understand you want to hunt animals with your rifle. Please do that in the woods, which are far away from my home.

When will people understand we are not trying to take away their rights? We are trying to PROTECT OUR FAMILIES. I am trying to protect my children.

It is not fair that I am scared all of the time. Not “typical” parent fears: that my child will get lost, that my child will make poor decisions, that my child will fail, that my child will have her heart broken. We now have to fear that our children’s lives are no longer safe. Not in the company of their protectors – their parents and families. Not in any public place. Not even in school, the first place we ever send our children out ‘alone’ into the world.

This is an unexpected, and upsetting, part of parenthood. A part that generations past did not even fathom would ever exist. Our generation of parents are unprepared for this. We were not told this would be part of the deal.  Those of you who know me know that I am an anxious person by nature. I am literally a medicated person to help control this anxiety. When Paige was born, I was scared to take her out of the house. I was scared of everything from slipping on the ice while holding her to hurting her when I gave her a bath.

Those fears have faded, and instead I am now scared every time I take my children into a crowded place. My stomach knots when we walk into a mall, and it is difficult to enjoy things like “Christmas at the Zoo,” because in the back of my mind I’m wondering if something horrible will happen.

I know this post is rambling, and I know it is far from uplifting. I promise a lighthearted, Christmasy post soon – maybe later today if I can get my act together. But this blog also serves as my own personal journal sometimes … mostly because the people I spend my days with are of the toddler/preschooler persuasion, and they don’t “get me” all the time.

I woke them both up from deep sleeps during their naps on Friday. I squeezed them tightly as my tears fell onto their sweet-smelling heads. Neither of them even noticed I was crying (which, actually, is a bit concerning, right?). I just kept telling them how much I loved them. So, so very much. That they are my entire life, and that nothing else in the world will EVER matter to me as much as they do.

Then, after we decided to head into the basement and play on the slide, Paige took my face in her hands. She looked at me with those big eyes and said in her sweet, raspy voice, “Mommy, I love you so much it breaks my heart.”

Oh, sweet Paige. If you only knew.