Herding Cats at the OBGYN

Word to the wise: don’t ever take your three boys to an OBGYN appointment. Ever.

If you think you are going to have to drag them along, call me. I’d be happy to come and babysit for you.

I took my boys to the doctor with me on Monday.

Never again.

It wasn’t like it was an invasive appointment. It was supposed to be a simple in-and-out-I-may-have-a UTI check-up.

But some things can never be simple when you bring three little boys along.

After banning my two oldest to different couches on opposite walls of the waiting room because they wouldn’t stop fighting, we were finally taken back by one of the nurses.

It took at least six tries to get an accurate reading on my weight. Every time I stepped onto the scale, I had a little hand, foot, knee — you name it — weighing along with me.

Then we went to the exam room. It was pure chaos the moment we stepped inside. My 6-year-old headed straight for the plastic colorful female anatomy sculpture and stuck his hand inside.

When he asked me what it was, I lied and said I didn’t know. Luckily he decided it looked like an ear.

I had to fight my one-year-old off of the mini red biohazard trashcans that he kept trying to open and reach inside of.

My four-year-old thought the swirly doctor’s stool was his personal merry-go-round.

They scrambled through the room wreaking havoc within seconds. Then they noticed the blood pressure cuff and boxes of blue plastic exam gloves hanging on the walls.

It was all I could do to keep them away from pretty much everything.

I was worn out long before I ever made it to the restroom to give a urine sample.

That was another challenge.

I tried to sit my baby on the bathroom floor sandwiched between his two brothers to keep him from crawling all over the place. I positioned the three of them just outside my stall.

Bad idea.

My boys both tried to “help” hold their brother in place by squeezing and smashing him. I bet everyone in the entire clinic heard him screaming.

On the way back to the exam room I told my boys that they could quietly look around the halls of the office where the doctor has posted pictures of babies he has delivered.

That’s when they sprung into a mad-dash-“Where’s Waldo?” search, looking for the picture we sent the doctor of my youngest after he was born.

Again, mass chaos. I found the picture, pointed it out to them and dashed them back inside the exam room.

That’s where the PA asked me to hop onto the exam table. I sat up there and watched my four-year-old nearly strangle my one-year-old in a tight-thigh-death grip while she pushed on my stomach. Meanwhile my oldest kept begging to take home one of the blue plastic exam gloves.

It was exhausting.

The best part? I went through all of this only to find out that I am fine. My test results came back normal.

I’m not one bit sick.

Talk about a let down — all of that hard work for nothing. Especially after I had to pay a co-pay. We all know how much I love paying those.

Broken Fence, Broken Forgiveness

I tried to teach my son a life lesson but ended up freaked out instead. Here’s what I’d like to say to the scary man who treated us like dirt.

Dear Angry Man who rejected my broken-fence apology,

Thank you for keeping me from teaching my 6-year-old a valuable lesson.

I brought him to your house, despite his serious anxiety, to fess up and apologize for accidently knocking over a section of your decrepit cement-slab fence. He was scared to death as we waited on your porch for you to answer your door.

We told you he bumped into the fence a couple of weeks ago and part of it fell to the ground.

But you didn’t believe us. Instead of allowing us to apologize and help you fix the fence, you got angry and shouted at us to break the whole thing down. You snapped at me telling me you didn’t think he was the one who did it.

Do you seriously think I was the one who broke it? Then I blamed my child?

Anyone who has ever walked by your fence will agree that it looks so unstable that if someone whistled while walking by it would topple over.

Other sections of the same fence are missing. Surely he is not the only one to bump one loose.

I hesitated to make him knock on your door and admit to breaking the fence. But I wanted to teach him that he needs to admit to his mistakes and make them right whenever possible. We stopped by your house two times before to talk to you and you were not home.

Now I kind of wish we never talked to you.

Then again now that I think about it, maybe you did help me teach my son a lesson or two, or even three.

1. How not to be a complete jerk if someone accidently damages some of your property.

2. How to graciously accept an apology and an offer to help.

3. How to forgive.

None of those were the lessons I intended, but now they seem even more important than the one I set out to teach.

I can’t help what happened, but I was willing to pay to fix the fence. Now maybe you’ll have to do what you suggested to us and, “break the whole thing down.”

Sincerely,

A tired, busy mother who is trying her best to teach her children manners

broken-fence-hi

Bargains

Surviving a trip to the dollar store with my two oldest boys and walking out empty handed is like surviving three hours of church with my baby and walking out without him pooping all over his Sunday best.

Neither happens very often.

For some reason my boys LOVE the local bargain store. They could spend all their time – and money – shopping around its shelves. I don’t know what they see in that place. I don’t know what they see in the toys they find there.

Me? I’d rather steer clear. Because if I get anywhere near that place I know I’m probably going to end up with a new cheap toy that will get broken, or worse, lost.

It doesn’t matter what I go to the discount store to find, the second we step foot inside my boys make a beeline to the back wall. They know that’s where they’ll find all kinds of realistically fake and desperately discounted treasures – knives, swords, guns, ammo, helicopters, dinosaurs – you name it. And all of them priced $6 or less!

I hate how I have to hustle down the aisle hot on their heels because I’m scared to death that they’re going to wreak havoc on the cheap made-in-China-plastic-99-cent bargain toys. Let’s be honest, most of the toys sold in dollar stores aren’t made to last. Well, they don’t last at our house anyway. But I would like to be able to have the chance to take them home before busting them. I can’t tell you how many of our swords split in half or our gun triggers crack.

But my children are more than willing to take the toy-breaking risk. They’ll pay good money for the stuff.

When it comes to shopping at our local bargain outlet, they never seem to run out of spare cash. I know they get money from their grandparents for birthdays and Christmas, but that only happens twice a year. I know that my oldest son sold a ladybug to the neighbor girl but he only took in $0.79 cents for that. Where are these extra $1 bills coming from?

Because the second I announce we are heading to the store I turn around to find my two oldest boys stuffing their pockets with cash.

Every once in a while it’s me who chooses to go to the dollar store. I like to go there to get little gifts for neighbors and friends.

Usually on these occasions I try to prep my boys and get them in the giving spirit. But it doesn’t matter how many times I tell them we are there to buy something for someone else, they don’t understand. Or they don’t listen.

I took them to the store last week to help pick out a little something for our friend. On the way to the store I told them at least six times that we weren’t going shopping for them.

Sure enough, less than 10 minutes later we all ended up in the far corner of the toy section butting heads about buying another cheap toy.

I stood my ground and we checked out buying only our friend’s gift. But we went back the next day to buy what they “had to have.” And according to my 4-year-old, “that was the best day of his life.”

I want to be able to take my children to the store to help pick out gifts for others, but I don’t want to fight them every time.

I guess it’s only natural for them to want to get something when they see that someone else is, but I’ve got to figure out how to teach them that it’s OK to give – even when they are walking out of the store empty-handed. Otherwise I’m going to go crazy with all these cheap, crappy toys.

Now if I can teach them that, and manage to make it through church one of these weeks without my baby’s diaper exploding, I’ll have it made.

Sick of Screaming – Ready to Quit

button4-tmCan I go 365 days without yelling at my children? Doubtful. But after stumbling upon The Orange Rhino Challenge website, I’m determined to try.

The woman who started the Orange Rhino Challenge has gone more than 400 days without yelling at her children.

If she can do it I can, right?

At first I had some serious doubts. Surely this woman’s children aren’t normal. Or she isn’t normal. Are they perfect angels who never make messes? Are they timid and shy – afraid to anger their mother? Is she doped up on vallum?

But then I started reading more into her blog and I think she’s real. Very real. And I think we would really get along. She’s a stay-at-home mom raising four young boys. Sound familiar?

When I scanned her “Orange Rhino” alternatives to yelling I could see myself doing those same things. Here are some of my favorites:

– Go to the bathroom and scream into the toilet, then flush it away (um symbolic?)

– Go through yelling motions but don’t let voice out (shocks kids and yourself that you didn’t yell, releases endorphins from pride!)

– Look at TV and pretend there is a hidden camera (fear of judgment works wonders)

Anyone who’ll admit to screaming into her toilet instead of at her kids is my type of woman.

But this isn’t going to be easy. I’m a loud person.

Growing up to be a mere 5 ft. zero inches and 100-pounds I have learned that I am better heard than seen.

It’s not only that. I love my house to be clean, my boys to be calm and my plans to go uninterrupted. Couple all that with my quick temper and I’m a sitting grenade. You never know what will pull the pin.

But I’m sick of yelling at my kids. I’m sick of them ignoring me until I’m screaming in neck-vein-bulging tones. I think they don’t “hear” me anymore unless I yell.

Honestly I really don’t think my yelling impacts my boys. It’s like at the sound of my voice invisible earmuffs cup over their ears and my words fall upon deaf ears.

At this point I am pretty sure the only volume my 9-month-old thinks is out there is LOUD. He’s been mimicking my monstrous roar ever since he could utter, “da-da.” I don’t want him growing up thinking that’s the norm.

All my kids are going to have to tune in as I turn down my volume.

I’m tired of going to bed feeling guilty that I snapped – again. And I don’t want to apologize to friends and family anymore for growling at my kids.

I’m going to stop.

I don’t know how many times I’ll have to reset my counter on this challenge, but I’m not a quitter.

Per The Orange Rhino Challenge Details, I am allowed to use a potentially raised stern voice and I get an “oopsie” snap. Sounds like a piece of cake, right?

Right. I’ll put a counter at the bottom of each blog post so you all can see my progress or regress. Hopefully that will help me stick with this challenge.

Bear with me. If I can’t yell at my kids then Boogers on the Wall may features a lot of frustrated writing in the coming weeks. I’ve got to get it out somewhere.

And while I’m thinking of getting it out somewhere, are there any volunteers who’ll let me text them when I am on the verge of losing it? That’s another one of my favorite Orange Rhino yelling alternatives.

If you’re willing to be on call and will help talk me down when I’m going to burst, message me your number. But keep in mind I may use it often. I’m going to need all the help I can get.

Don’t Go Down There

home-alone-basement-7-copyI think my kids have an unhealthy fear of the basement.

My six-year-old is horribly afraid of being down there. Let’s be honest, he’s afraid of being alone anywhere in the house. But when I ask him to go downstairs he nearly hyperventilates.

My four-year-old is OK with going downstairs – until his older brother is around. He’ll be just find playing by himself down there while my oldest is at school, but ask him to go down after they are both home and they’ll sob uncontrollably.

I can sympathize. I don’t love the basement. I too was terrified of going into the dark downstairs when I was a child.

Sometimes my mom would ask me to go downstairs to get something. That’s when I’d make my younger brother go with me. Once I had grabbed whatever my mom wanted, I would book it up the stairs leaving my brother at the bottom crying. I figured if there was something dark and scary it could snatch him up first while I dashed away.

Sometimes when I had to go downstairs alone, I would sing at the top of my lungs in my best pop-star voice hoping that the robber/kidnapper lurking in the shadows of my basement would hear my beautiful voice and think twice before hurting me.

It all sounds so stupid now, yet at the time it helped me survive a scary trip downstairs.

My boys, however, aren’t scared of being snatched by a monster. They aren’t scared of being kidnapped by a robber. They are scared of something much worse – the furnace.

I should never have let them watch Home Alone.

I’ll admit, our old metal venting does crack and pop when the heat is on. And the furnace does roar when it is getting ready to blow hot air. But I don’t think it’s enough to terrify my two oldest children.

Recently, I was rushing to get ready for church while my 8-month-old was taking a quick morning nap. My two oldest were running around out of control (I think it has something to do with church clothes. I put them into church clothes and immediately they’re out of control).

Anyway, I told the oldest two to go downstairs. They wouldn’t. I yelled at them to go downstairs. They wouldn’t. Next thing I knew my baby was awake screaming and I had to tuck him onto my hip as I tried to slap on some make-up and twist a curling iron through a few locks of my hair.

I was furious. I knew that if my boys took their rowdy selves downstairs, I would have had much more time to get ready in peace and quiet while their baby brother slept.

When their dad got home he came up with a solution to getting them to spend more time acclimatizing to the basement. Now we have a new rule at our house – the boys can’t play or watch the Kindle unless they use it downstairs. If you read my recent post about my Electrical Breakdown, you could guess that I think this plan is brilliant.

I’m torn now, there is a lot less Kindle using going on at our house these days, but that also means my two little boys aren’t spending very much time in the basement.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to freak my kids out. I would never make them do anything to harm themselves or make themselves really uncomfortable. But I want them to spend more time down in the dungeon so they can realize nothing is going to get them – especially not the furnace.

Is that too much to ask? How can I help them not be so scared?

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I’ve never understood why people say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Because money is printed on paper, and paper comes from trees. So therefore money really is made or “grown” on trees. Right?

My kids don’t understand the saying either. Because for them money isn’t even made out of paper. It comes from plastic – a small rectangular thin piece of hand-held plastic to be precise.

They know exactly how the magic plastic card works. Just swipe it next to the checkout stand and viola! You’ve just paid.

They aren’t stupid. They’ve seen me do it a thousand times.

I put most of our family’s purchases on my credit card. Not because we can’t pay for what we buy, but because I have big plans to take my little family to Italy next year and am hoping to purchase our airfare with credit card miles. So I charge everything I can then pay my card off every two weeks.

I guess my children have been watching me closer than I realized. Last week I lost my credit card and if it weren’t for the “help” of my 4-year-old I never would have found it.

Now I have written multiple times about my stressed-out-OCD-I-can’t-lose-anything personality. So you can imagine my anxiety when my platinum card went missing. I was certain someone had taken it and was racking up my bill, skyrocketing past my spending limit.

Luckily I checked my account online and no new charges had been made, but I still couldn’t find the card.

I ripped through the house searching every coat, pant and jacket pocket that I own. I tore through my diaper bag and wallet praying I would find it shoved in the wrong spot.

After church on Sunday I stuck my head under each and every seat, nook and cranny in my van, hoping the card had slipped through a crack.

That’s when my 4-year-old spoke up.

“What are you doing mom?” he said.

“Looking for my credit card,” I replied.

“Have you checked my mission jar,” he said.

No. I had not checked his mission jar. Why would I check his mission jar? I never touch that jar – the glass-tile piggy bank he stores coins in. (He’s saving his coins to go on an LDS mission.)

I raced inside and snatched the jar. Sure enough, my shiny plastic card was tucked inside. I was so happy.

Despite my relief in finding my charge card, I still can’t believe he took it. And that he remembered where he put it.

But what I really can’t believe is how smart he is.

He told me he took my card and put it in his mission jar so he would have a way to pay for his “bills.”  You know as well as I that he doesn’t have any “bills.” But I guess it’s better to be prepared. Even if your emergency mission fund is a piece of plastic that comes with a 19 percent interest rate.

He’s as smart as the average American. When you need to pay for something expensive – like a mission – pull out the plastic.

It looks like we need to have a lesson on saving, and then another one on stealing.

I guess my card really was stolen. Luckily, it was taken by someone who isn’t quite old enough to use it – yet.

Out of curiosity I did some online research and found out that United States “paper” money is made of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen. I guess money really doesn’t grow on trees.

Electrical Breakdown

Two weeks ago I was an inch away from setting fire to my Kindle Fire.

After several days indoors with my kids during a three-day weekend I was at my wits end. I couldn’t take the whining, fighting and lying around doing nothing but staring at the black rectangular magic box any longer.

It was turning my boys’ brains to mush and there was a constant “When is it my turn?” hum coming from my living room.

No matter how much I begged they wouldn’t stop.

The Kindle must have known I was plotting against it and decided to give out on it’s own.  The jack where you plug it in to an electrical outlet came too loose and the device wouldn’t charge anymore.

We’ve been waiting for Amazon to send us a new one ever since and I have loved the break. I am amazed at how well my boys have played together without it.

They have lived as paleontologists scratching at rocks, desperately digging for dinosaur bones.

They have started secret workout routines in their bedroom as they prepare to be a new breed of ninja Power Rangers.

They have slid down our mini backyard hill and dug out an igloo-style snow fort in our front yard.

They have transformed my tiny kitchen into the Energy Solutions Arena while practicing bounce passes.

They have unrooted themselves from my living room couch and played more on their own in the past two weeks than they have in a long time. And although I have had to help them clean up a lot more messes – I nearly lost it one afternoon when they dumped every one of their toy tubs out in their room – I have been thoroughly enjoying our Kindle-free life.

I don’t know how other mothers feel, but I feel like my children lazily reach for an electronic device for entertainment. It’s easier for them to zone in to Netflix or tap at an Angry Bird than it is to run around the house finding each other in hide and seek.

I know there are amazing things that my children can learn from the Internet, and it’s fun for them to sit down and try out a new app, but this mom is going to draw up some electronic limitations.

I don’t want to cripple my kids in this electonics-based society. I realize that they will use sophisticated electronic tools throughout their lives.

But I’ve got to find a healthy balance that suits our family.

I am sure that once our new Kindle gets here my children will continue to get plenty of hands-on playing time, but I’m still going to make them unplug, power down the device and play for real.

Sick?

I hate going to the doctor. Not because I hate modern-day medicine. But I am a tight wad who hates paying an unnecessary co-pay. And I am really bad at predicting whether an illness is doctor-visit worthy or not.

My youngest son was really sick this week. He was up all night a couple of nights with a really bad fever. Nothing I did could soothe my poor, miserable baby.

After a couple of sleepless nights and I-can’t-stay-awake-for-the-life-of-me-afternoons, I broke down and called the doctor.

And what happened? Absolutely nothing.

I took him in and he was fine. No ear infection. No sore throat. No croup.

Although that is extremely great news, it frustrated the crap out of me.

I can’t tell you how many times my children have been extremely sick during the night and early morning hours, only to make a miraculous recovery right before I take them in to the pediatrician.

I half wonder if my cell phone is magical. It seems like whenever I call to make a doctor’s appointment my children immediately start feeling better.

Then I go back and forth thinking should I cancel the appointment or take them in? It’s like playing physician roulette. .

Normally my guilty conscience talks me into taking them in. That’s what happened on Tuesday. I kept thinking, “What if he really does have an ear infection? What if his ear is burning with pain? What if his eardrum ruptures all because I want to save a buck and keep him home?”

It’s too bad my 6-month-old can’t tell me how he really feels or what really is hurting.

Someone needs to invent a Should-I-Take-Them-To-The-Doctor? kit for moms. It should come with one of those magnified stick-up-the-nose-or-in-the-ear-and-shine-a-light-inside tools. That way I could scan my son’s ears before assuming his new grabbing-at-the-lobe trait is an infection.

It’d also be nice to have a tongue depressor/flashlight combo. Then I could force open his mouth and see how red it really is way back where.

I don’t know how they could do it, but I also would need an is-it-appendicitis? type tummy scanner.

I could use the kit before paying someone else to spend 5 minutes glancing at my child and diagnosing them with a common cold.

I love my kids and I want them to be healthy but I hate feeling like I just gave a doctor $20 for them to tell me to give my child more Tylenol. I am starting to form an opinion that if the doctor can’t fix it, I shouldn’t have to pay.

Especially because usually before I take my kids in, I have already given them Tylenol for two days straight to no avail.

I know that isn’t realistic and deep down I am extremely grateful for my pediatrician. I just get frustrated when one of my babies is really sick yet there is nothing “wrong” with them.

Luckily we are a healthy family who doesn’t visit the doctor very often.

Binky Blues

We are down to one binky at our house. Which means I’m always franticly looking in every nook and cranny for the soothing mouth-sucking device. soothie

I’m constantly on the search for the green hospital-style Soothie that keeps my 6-month-old pacified.

And we all know how well I do when I lose things.

I need to invent a special microchip to plant inside the plastic lining of all binkies. Something that is activated when a baby starts to fuss, sounding off a major alarm and bright flashing beacon, honing all mothers in to the exact location of the life-saving tool.

Of course I’d have to make a different silent-locating system for nighttime. Because although the binky has got to be within a 6-inch radius of my baby’s head, it’s nearly impossible to find in the dark – especially through zombie-style, bloodshot middle-of-the-night vision.

No matter how many times I sweep the crib for the little sucker, I never find it easily. Half the time it’s tucked under my baby’s double chin.

The most frustrating part? Hearing my baby cry while I search for the stupid thing. Because I’m never looking for it while he’s happily playing on his own. I seem to always notice it’s lost when he’s screaming.

And for some reason, it’s virtually impossible for me to crawl beneath furniture and rapidly scan secret corners of my house while I’m carrying around a 20-pound screaming bundle.

It’s a double edge sword. I can put him down and hopefully find the thing much quicker, knowing he will scream at the top of his lungs the whole time I’m searching, or I can run around stressed out with him on my hip while I try to soothe him and search at the same time.

In my defense, the rounded style of the outer part of his binky makes it roll very easily. I could drop it on a flat surface and find it 30 feet away. I do have to admit that 90 percent of the time we find it in one of three places – my pocket, my diaper bag or shoved down in one of the couch cushions.

Why don’t I buy some more? Honestly I don’t know. But deep down I have a sneaking suspicion that no matter how many binkies I would buy, I’d still always be searching for one.

And for some reason my son only likes one particular brand.

I have four perfectly clean, nice, brand new other binkies. But he doesn’t want anything to do with them. They are too short and stubby for him.

A couple of weeks ago I got him to gag on one for an afternoon. I lost his favorite green one in the morning and refused to run to the store for a new one. I thought for sure the green guy would turn up.

I had high hopes that he was starting to adapt to the new style of pacifier. But he was just teasing me.

Once bedtime rolled around, he wanted his favorite one back. He wouldn’t take the new type at all during the night.

It was horrible. I survived the night by acting like his human binky, letting him nurse whenever he made a peep.

Luckily my husband found the old favorite in a toy box the next morning – undoubtedly put there by my four-year-old who helps me lose everything.

I don’t know what to do. I probably should break down and buy a 20 pack of his favorite Soothie kind and stash them in every pocket, bag, bed, blanket, etc.

Although I complain about constantly losing the binky, I wouldn’t want to live without it. That’s why I search like mad when it’s lost.  He doesn’t take it all the time, but when he’s really tired it helps calm him enough so he can sleep. And I definitely want him to sleep.

Deep down, part of me wishes that he were a thumb sucker. I definitely would have a hard time losing that.

How do you spell what?

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I am living in a never-ending spelling bee.

My four year-old son’s new obsession with letters, their sounds and word creation has catapulted all of us into an eternal how-do-you-spell _____________? game.

Sadly, I am slowly going insane.

The questions never cease. I can’t go an hour without him asking me how to spell something at least three times.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I were spelling three-letter, one-syllable words for him.

But it’s not just simple words. It’s not even just one word. Sometimes he asks me to spell complex sentences like, “I like playing with my Furby,” or “Luca is my favorite brother.”

It doesn’t stop at wanting to spell. He’s eager to read too. What does __ __ __ __ say? Is quickly becoming his second favorite phrase.

He’s noticing writing on everything – street signs, cereal boxes, clothing tags, you name it. He wants to know what the whole world is saying.

And deep down I am thrilled.

Luckily the spelling/reading is not falling on deaf ears. He’s soaking it all in like a sponge. He’s also regurgitating 90 percent of it back in verbal or written form.

He’s always toting a notebook and pen, ready and anxious to jot something down.
From hate notes to bad guys, to sentences about Spider-Man, he’s on a writing spree.

And although I am thrilled, sometimes I lose my patience. My brain is tired from spelling the title of every piece of furniture in our home, every type of food in our refrigerator and every character on my son’s favorite television shows. Twice.

But I have devised a plan. Now that he recognizes the alphabet, all 26 letter sounds and how to write each letter, I am going to teach him to spell. Then I’m going to teach him to read.

He can already write, “I love you,” as well as all of our family member’s first names. At Christmas time he learned that S-A-N-T-A spelled Santa and every paper I owned was tagged with the jolly man’s name.

He’s interested, he’s excited and he’s ready.

I figure teaching him is the only way I am going to end this real-life endless spelling bee.

Wish me L-U-C-K.

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