Tuesday, July 16, 2013

10 Things I Do As A Parent That I Know I Shouldn't But Do Anyway

I had it all figured out. I read all the baby books. I did the research on parenting methods. I was going to be the best mom ever and I had a perfect plan. And then I became a mom. I realized that baby books only tell you so much. I discovered through practical application that parenting methods are not one size fits all. My plan was riddled with holes. I am a mom that lives in the real world. To my surprise, the real world doesn't follow neat plans and schedules. The real world screws up good intentions. So, I improvise. My "parenting plan" has very few "I'll nevers" or "I'll always." My plan is fluid and evolves as my kids grow. I also do some things that I know I shouldn't, but I do anyway, just to make it through the day.

Photo Credit: www.someecards.com

1. I bribe my kids. We have a deal, the kids and I. If they get up each morning during the week and get ready without tantrums, constant reminders to brush their teeth or brush their hair, I give them a candy bar each Friday. I can hear the dentist cringe. While grocery shopping, I sweeten the deal with those free cookies from the bakery. I owe each kid a brand new car on their sixteenth birthday for potty training before they entered high school. I let them stay up late if they let me sleep in.

2. I talk about saving the earth and going green, yet I have been known to wash the same load of laundry four times in one week because I forgot to take it out of the washing machine before it soured. I've also re-dried the same load of laundry left in the dryer several times to get the wrinkles out. I used disposable diapers and I have failed to teach my kids not to use a whole roll of toilet paper in a single bathroom visit. I take long hot showers to hide from my kids when I have nowhere else to go.

3. Fast food for dinner? Yeah, we have it more than I care to admit. Something about the summer makes me not want to use the oven. Or plan meals. Or wash dishes. I swear I'll start preparing healthy, home cooked meals. Tomorrow. Next week. Eventually.

4. My youngest daughter learned to sing and read her ABC's by watching T.V.

5. I have yet to throw away a single toy that was not put away before bedtime. I have not followed through on lifetime groundings. The kids laugh at me when I tell them I'm selling them to the gypsies. We're still in the age where punishments include time out, early bedtimes, no TV... it's still pretty effective. I know. I'm lucky.

6. "When was the last time you took a bath? Nah, you smell okay. Just go to bed."

7.  I forget to bring a camera with me to major kid events. I only filled out a few pages in my first born's baby book. My second born's baby book is still wrapped in cellophane. I have boxes upon boxes of mementos taking up an entire closet.

8. I've had daydreams of confronting my daughter's summer camp bully and her mother. I'd put them both in their place using nothing but quick wit and sarcasm. In that daydream, there's a crowd behind me and someone slow claps when I have the last word. I've watched a lot of 80's teen movies.

9. I purposely brainwashed my kids to despise Barney, Justin Bieber, and Caillou.

10. I forget sometimes what it was like to be a kid. I hush them too often. I tell them I'm too busy to play when I'm simply not in the mood to play with them. I worry about the mess rather than marvel at the masterpiece. I threaten to run away even though I miss them the minute they leave my sight. I forget to count my blessings that my kids are healthy. I focus on the naughty behavior at home, yet take their best behavior in school for granted. I don't recognize as often as I should, just how wonderful my little monkeys really are.

I'm not proud of all of these things. But, parenting is not easy and can sometimes drive you to the brink of insanity. I've found the best thing to do is try to improve whenever you can and forgive yourself for not being the "best mom on the block." And I'll tell you... even the best mom on the block has her own list. She's just not sharing it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Most Okayest Summer Ever!

Since becoming a mom, I've learned a thing or two about summertime and kids. In the beginning, I started each summer with the expectation of bliss and fun and happy memories. I made "Summer Bucket Lists" and promised myself that I was going to make those long, lazy days the best days of my children's lives. I scoured mom blogs and parenting articles for inspiration. I collected craft materials to keep them busy during a pop-up thunderstorm. I scrolled through countless Pinterest pages for mom tested and approved activities. Each summer, I started off with hope. By the end, I was tired, disappointed, and relieved when the school bus stopped by our house. Our summers were filled with tantrums, rain delays, and let downs. It was my fault. I expected too much out of the kids, the weather, and myself. I was too excited and in turn, I elevated the kids' expectations. I placed so much emphasis on having the best summer ever that when "life" happened, it suddenly became the worst summer ever. So now, I set the bar lower, learned from the fails, and settle for the most okayest summer ever. It goes something like this:

Photo Credit: Someecards

Catching Fireflies

The Best: Giggling little children running barefoot through the grass and gently swooping fireflies out of the warm night air.

The Worst: Chasing after highly evolved fireflies that climb twenty feet over our heads resulting in tantrums and empty glass jars. Oh and mosquito bites. A lot of mosquito bites all over.

The Okayest: Do not plan a firefly hunt. If you happen to be outside and they are within reach, great. If not, move along. Do not talk about all the fireflies you used to catch when you were a child. (Trust me, it will only bring out your 3 year old daughter's competitive nature.) Wear bug spray.

Or you can catch this Firefly. This one is better.
Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefly_(TV_series)

Pool Days

The Best: Spending hours and hours at the neighborhood pool. Splashing and laughter and sitting in the sun.

The Worst: Not spending hours and hours at the neighborhood pool due to constant thunderstorms.

The Okayest: Keep the pool bag packed by the front door and bathing suits within reach at all times. Rush to the pool between thunderstorms so the kids can jump in a few times. Suntans are bad for you anyway, right?

Rainy Day Crafts

The Best: Content little kids sitting at the kitchen table creating little homemade masterpieces.

The Worst: "Her craft looks better than mine!" Paper cuts. Projects that should take hours are completed within minutes.  Craft kits that require more adult supervision than advertised. Glitter.

The Okayest: Give the kids a ream of white paper and crayons. That's it. No scissors, no glue, no kits that come with a picture of those damn model kids holding perfectly crafted potholders or sun catchers. Absolutely no glitter.

Same goes for cooking crafts.


The Best: A week long trip to the beach or Disney World, or some other awesome place and every moment is Facebook status worthy.

The Worst: Completely rained out beach trip, cranky kids and stressed parents. Or even worse, not able to take a vacation at all.

The Okayest: Take daytrips to local attractions that don't require waiting in long lines, paying for overpriced admission/food/beverages, or packing suitcases. (After reading so many posts about rained out beach trips, I think it was a good thing we couldn't take a vacation this summer.)

Fishing Trips with Daddy

The Best: Two quiet and patient little girls sitting with their dad by the lake all day. Poles in the water and smiles on their faces. Bringing home a fresh catch for dinner.

The Worst: Impatient, noisy, completely bored little girls crying about empty hooks, soggy worms, and killing "Nemo."

The Okayest: Take the kids to a DNR "Catch & Release" stocked pond for a couple of hours max. Use hotdogs as bait. Bring snacks and bug spray. Lots of bug spray. Have a contest for the first fish, the biggest fish, the smallest fish, and the most colorful fish so even the littlest fisherman has a fish tale to share.

Don't worry. Everyone survived.

Summer Blockbusters

The Best: Kids sitting perfectly still through an entire animated film. Parents enjoying an hour of sitting in a cool, dark room.

The Worst: Multiple potty breaks, spilled popcorn, short attention spans. Other kids running around without parental guidance making your kids question your threats of movie theater cops who arrest disruptive kids.

The Okayest: See a movie a few weeks after the movie release day. Better yet, wait for the DVD.

Summer doesn't have to be a big production. In fact, the beauty of summer is to slow down and enjoy the little moments away from schedules. It took a few summer fails to realize that it's okay to not plan every minute of the day. It's okay to let things happen organically. Step away from Pinterest. It's okay to keep it simple. Give the kids an opportunity to enjoy a lazy day. Give yourself an opportunity to have a lazy day. If you must plan an event this summer, go easy on yourself if it all falls through. Some of the best memories happen when plans fall apart.

And use bug spray.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Because of my Father

Because of my father, I do not shy away from a DIY opportunity... especially when it comes to broken toilets.

Because of my father, I can spiral a football. I can also throw and hit a baseball. Unfortunately, I never mastered catching a baseball. Unless you count the time I caught a baseball with my face and landed in the emergency room with a broken nose.

Dad's lil slugger
Photo Credit: Edward Pauksta

Because of my father, I know a well written letter (love, complaint, or recommendation) goes a long way.

Because of my father, I dedicate myself to hobbies and enjoy them even though I know I'll never become a professional... no matter how many lessons I take, years of practice I put into it, or money I throw at it.

We don't have many pictures of Pops.
He was always on the other side of the camera.
Photo Credit: Edward Pauksta

Because of my father, I can turn an ordinary "Sloppy Joe" sandwich into a gourmet meal by calling it a "Sloppy Joseph" and draping a dish towel over my arm like a waiter at a fancy restaurant.

Because of my father, I don't try to ride my bike up a steep hill in the lowest gear. Yeah, it hurts more when I petal, but I get up the hill faster.

Photo Credit: Edward Pauksta

Because of my father, I read consumer reports and reviews. I make sure I know the return policy. I comparison shop everything. I always read the instructions first.

Because of my father, my college dorm room was wallpapered with "The Far Side" comic greeting cards.

Because of my father, I listen to and appreciate the musical talents of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Eric Clapton, The Police, and Leo Kottke. My kids are receiving the same education.

Photo Credit: Edward Pauksta

Because of my father, "floating like an empty beer can down a river" is an acceptable style of swimming.

Because of my father, I turned in the best school projects, I wore the prettiest dress at the senior prom, and I had the best Father of the Bride speech of all time.

Not a dry eye in the house.
Photo Credit: Edward Pauksta

Because of my father, I know the early bird gets to enjoy a cup of coffee in peace.

Because of my father, I know that I will never be able to learn how to drive a car with a manual transmission. If he couldn't teach me, no one can. I've accepted this fact.

Because of my father, I have bluish-grey eyes, thick dark hair, broad shoulders, and long fingers. 

They say I look like my dad...
Photo Credit: Edward Pauksta

Because of my father, I have a low tolerance for annoying neighbors and will most likely move to a place where there aren't many around when I retire.

Because of my father, I want my daughters to go fishing, walk up and down the aisles in a hardware store, work on a car, hammer a nail, hang out in the reptile house at the zoo, and play catch with their dad, too. Hopefully, they inherited The Hub's hand-eye coordination.

Photo Credit: Edward Pauksta

Because of my father, I love a good story.

Because of my father, I tell a good story.

I am who I am, because of my father.

Happy Father's Day! I love you Pops!
Photo Credit: Edward Pauksta

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Because of my Mother

Photo Credit: Edward S. Pauksta

Because of my mother, recipes are merely suggestions in my kitchen. Only a 1/4 teaspoon of cumin? Nah, I think it needs more. I also blame the recipe for any culinary disasters. It's not my fault! I followed the recipe!

Because of my mother, I build amazing forts out of old bed sheets.

Because of my mother, I use moisturizer with sunscreen.

Because of my mother, I read stories using different voices for each character.

Photo Credit: Edward S. Pauksta

Because of my mother, I can watch a movie though my eyelids. I'm not sleeping! I'm listening to the movie and resting my eyes!

Because of my mother, I know the secret to an amazing sandwich is to toast the bread.

Because of my mother, I take pride in little family traditions.

Because of my mother, I obsess about feeding people. Would you like something to eat? No? How about a snack? Are you sure? I can cut up some fruit for you. You're sure you're not a little bit hungry? Oh... alright... here's a sandwich.

This was the only way my mom could get me to eat when I was younger. 
My daughters do the same thing.
I guess acting like a monkey at dinner time comes from my side of the family.
Photo Credit: Edward S. Pauksta

Because of my mother, I take clues from my nightly dreams. I also believe I have a very strong sixth sense. I just know when something is wrong or someone is in trouble. I feel it in my bones and I dream about it at night.

Because of my mother, I notice everyone's eyebrows. I also know that one should never change their natural eyebrow shape too much. It'll make you look weird.

Because of my mother, I sing to my kids even though I can't sing.

Photo Credit: Edward S. Pauksta

Because of my mother, my kids know the extreme joy of jumping into my bed and pretending the floor is shark infested waters or molten lava.

Because of my mother, I know I fold my bath towels the "wrong way." The way she folds her bath towels so they hang nicely on the towel bar was ingrained into my psyche from an early age, but the way I fold my towels takes up less space in the linen closet. Either way, I think about my mother every time I fold a towel.

Because of my mother, I have a flair for inventing bizarre combinations of bad words when I am really mad.

Because of my mother, I nag my kids AND husband about bringing a jacket in case it gets cold.

Photo Credit: Edward S. Pauksta

Because of my mother, I trust my parental instincts.

Because of my mother, I know that sometimes I will screw up as a parent and it's okay. Kids are resilient.

Because of my mother, I leave little love notes on napkins in my daughter's lunch box.

Because of my mother, I am willing to try new things.

Photo Credit: Edward S. Pauksta

Because of my mother, I have natural red highlights in my hair.

Because of my mother, I can laugh at myself.

I am who I am, because of my mother.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Kids and the Zombie Apocalypse

Out of all the scary monsters, I like zombies the best. Many of you already know that I am kind of a chicken shit (re: My Dark Secret), but I'm learning to face my fears. From "Night of the Living Dead" to "Dawn of the Dead" to "Shaun of the Dead," The Hub and I have seen our fair share of cheesy and scary movies. We are die hard "The Walking Dead" fans. We've spent countless hours talking about how an outbreak could possibly happen. We also have a pretty decent zombie apocalypse survival plan. We've discussed what we'll need, where we'll go, how we'll get there, and who we want on our team. On the surface, we look pretty prepared. But, let's be honest here. If a zombie apocalypse ever happens, we won't survive. We have kids.

Top 7 Ways Our Kids Will Get Us Killed in a Zombie Apocalypse

1. Food: If I have a hard time convincing my kids to eat regular food, there is no way I'm going to get them to eat grubs and wild mushrooms once our supplies run out. "Honey, eat your squirrel before it gets cold." I can hear the whining already... and so will the zombies. Mark my words, I will be bitten while searching for the last remaining box of Cheerios.

2. Volume Control: Ever try to watch a movie with a 3 year old? How about sit through a family wedding with a fussy toddler on your lap? How often can you make a phone call in peace? Now consider what it will be like when you are hiding in an old abandoned house with a hoard of zombies near by and even the slightest squeak will call attention to your location. Do you really think a three year old will sit quietly for mommy? Not mine. Even if I bribe her with the last Twinkie on earth, my noisy kid will give us away.

3. Speed: It takes an average of 20 minutes to get the kids out of the house and into their car seats on a regular day. If we need to leave our safe house during the zombie apocalypse, our kids will still lose a shoe, forget their blankie or favorite toy (which will cause tantrums galore... see #2), or fuss about sitting in their car seats. A zombie could easily bite one of us on the butt while we're struggling to buckle a seat bealt. Some of you will say, "Forget the seat belts and get in the car!" With zombies crowding the streets, seat belts are of the utmost importance. Haven't you seen "Zombieland?"

4. Hiding: Both my kids are scared of the dark. They cannot go to sleep unless we plug in four nightlights and turn on the hall light. If we do that during a zombie apocalypse and we might as well hang a "All You Can Eat" buffet sign over our front door. We're so screwed.

5. Going Unnoticed: If my kids see a zombified neighbor stumbling down the road, they will yell out, "Hey Mommy! Look! It's our neighbor! Hey neighbor! Let's say 'hi' to our neighbor, Mommy!" They do that all the time to me in the grocery store, especially when I just want to get a gallon of milk and get the hell out of there without being seen in grungy sweatpants and with a make-up free face.

6. Agility: Kids fall down. A lot. I'm not sure why kids have such horrible balance, but I've watched my kids fall down while standing still. If we have to make a mad dash and our kids are running with us, I guarantee one of us is going down. You see it all the time in the movies: A cute klutzy girl twists her ankle and some poor chump goes back to save her from the clutches of the undead only to become zombie chow. Well, our kids are the cute klutzy girls and we're the poor chumps.

Photo Credit: www.makemelaugh.com

7. Combat: We went to a birthday party at a bowling alley/arcade this past weekend. It had a large room for laser tag and both girls wanted to give it a try. The Hub took the girls into the dark room armed with oversized vests and laser guns. Our younger daughter clung to The Hub's leg and screamed. Our older daughter became disoriented and got lost behind a neon painted partition and cried for her daddy. He was so distracted with finding his kids, he was unable to ward off the crowd of seven year olds shooting laser beams at the target on his vest. If the laser tag debacle is any indication of how our kids will handle a battle with zombies, bite me... it's over.

So while it's fun to daydream about surviving a zombie apocalypse and believing we are smart enough, strong enough, and brave enough to outlive the masses, I really hope it doesn't happen. But, if it does, I hope it doesn't happen for at least another ten years. The kids should be ready by then.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Our Flag Was Still There

I pushed the full grocery cart through the parking lot with my two kids in tow. It was close to 6:00 P.M. and I was mentally checking my "To Do" list which included cooking, cleaning, packing, organizing and other tedious whatnots. The day was getting away from me fast.

"Mommy? Why is it so low?"

My eldest daughter, S, was looking past the car at the large American Flag in the Kroger parking lot. It was at half-mast.

"Oh, uh... they lowered it for the bombing in Boston."


Okay, mama....This is one of those learning moments... try to give her a good answer. "Well, it's the country's way of saying that we're sad. Many people were hurt yesterday. Some people even died. We lower the flag to let them know that the country supports them."

My youngest daughter, B, smiled her mischievous smile and said, "I want to touch it."

Knowing she would attempt to climb the pole to touch the flag if I let her get a step closer, I said, "No, you can't touch the flag. But, you can put your hand over your heart and say the Pledge of Allegiance. You know the pledge, right?"

So there we were, in the Kroger parking lot, hands over hearts, saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

On the drive home, S stated that she knows the American song.

'You mean the National Anthem?"

She tilted her head back and sang, "Oooooooooh say can you seeeeeeeee by the dawn's early lightttttt! What so proudly we hail by the gleaming stars!!!"

"Close, baby. I'll sing it for you." And I started singing. Badly. And I'm pretty sure I messed up a line or two. But, I was trying. I've sung The Star-Spangled Banner at ball games. I had to sing it a few times when I was in the elementary school chorus when the music teacher was forgiving and perhaps a little tone deaf. It's a hard song to sing. My girls giggled from the backseat when I hit a few sour notes. I didn't mind and kept going. Then I got to the line:

And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

My eyes filled with tears. My voice cracked and I couldn't keep singing. I always get a little choked up when I hear that line and I could never figure out why. I guess I always thought it was the swell of the music and not the words that touched a nerve. But, today I finally figured it out.

Yesterday, The Hub called me when he heard the news about the Boston marathon bombing. It was still early and we knew less details than the little we know now. There were two bombs at the finish line. At the time, there were two deaths reported and many critical injuries which included severed limbs. This hit home for The Hub because he was born in Massachusetts. His entire family lives or has lived there at one time or another. When we came home from work, we ate dinner in front of the T.V. and watched the news reports. It was awful. It was scary. It was unreal. Once again, I had to explain to my little girls that the world is filled with evil people and sometimes bad things happen to good people and I don't know why. I fell asleep with fear in my heart again.

But, it was business as usual this morning. Get up, get ready, get the kids ready, get to work, do my job, drive home, get the kids, run errands and get ready for another day. Even though I listened to the radio shows talk about Boston and their feelings on the matter, I felt numb to it all. I suppose it was my way of moving on and "not letting the bad guy win." Maybe I didn't dwell on it because I was afraid I might jinx my good fortune for not being one of the victims. Maybe I just didn't want to believe that someone could wake up one morning and decide that today was a good day to hurt other people. It wasn't until I sang that line that it dawned on me why I wasn't scared to leave my house this morning and how I was able to keep on keeping on even though there was no way I could be certain that my world wouldn't end today.

Our flag was still there.

Francis Scott Key did not see the rocket's red glare and the bombs bursting in air as "the end." The light from the explosions lit up the night sky so he could see the flag. Every flash gave him a glimpse of hope. As long as that flag was there, we were still there. What a beautiful thought. Even in the most devastating moments, there is hope. The flag is a grand symbol of our county. The flag is also the grand symbol of us. The flag is the first responders who ran into the blast. The flag is the stranger holding another stranger on Boylston Street. The flag is a nation in mourning for the pain and suffering that was placed upon group of regular everyday people cheering on marathon runners and celebrating Patriot's Day. Whether it is a bomb burst, an airplane crash, a gun shot, or a freak accident, these tragedies light up the darkness and give proof that We, the People are still good. The flag is still there. As long as we stand together and help each other, we are still there.

I know our country is not perfect. There is a lot of feuding about what's fair and what's right. We are not in the best way financially and there are times when it doesn't seem like we're going to get out of the hole. Everyone has an opinion and there isn't a lot of compromise. We have a lot to work on.  But, we're a family. I love my family even though there are things I don't like about my family. But, heaven help anyone who tries to mess with my family. We might not be perfect, but we stand together when things get tough. The same brothers who throw punches at each other will band together and love each other. We are a big dysfunctional family and I am so very proud to be part of it. We will mourn the ones we lost yesterday. We will try to make sense of what happened and why. We will celebrate the heroes. We will try to find the bad guys and bring them to justice. We will carry on and remember what we learned from this horrific event. And with time, we will be fine.

To my brothers and sisters in Boston: We love and support you. We are still here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Letter to a Pound Pup

Dear New Pup,

Welcome to our home! I hope you like it here. I know this is a very exciting time for you. New smells, new people, new places to explore... I'm sure it can be a bit overwhelming. I'm going to be honest with you, I was a little nervous, too. With only a picture from the county shelter website and a brief introduction in the meeting area, we were really relying on first impressions and gut instinct. We don't know how you landed in doggie prison, other than you were wandering around in the wrong place at the wrong time. We posted your bail, paid for your spay, and promised we will take care of you for the rest of your life. By the way, we think you are about one or two years old so we're expecting to spend many years with you.

Doing hard time in the Big House
Bustin' out of the slammer

To make this transition easier for both you and the rest of the group, I thought I'd give you a heads up on the house rules.

1. Play with your human sisters. I know they are loud and run around like monkeys on crack, but they are good kids. They like to throw the tennis ball down the hall. Please play along and grab it. You'll get bonus points if you bring it back to them. Every once in a while, be sure to give them a lick. They love that stuff. I see that you've already claimed my youngest daughter as your favorite. My heart melted when you laid beside her when she had a little stomach virus this weekend and refused to leave her side. Good girl. You're a good girl.

2. I know you have a bad hind leg. We see the scars and the x-ray confirms you have pretty severe arthritis in your knee. They think you might have suffered blunt force trauma there at one point in your young age. Please be patent with us as we try to manage your pain and make the best decision as to how to make it better. The vet said we have a few options, but it's pretty much guaranteed that we'll have to amputate your hind leg when you get older. I know it sounds horrible, but you're already learning to not use that leg as much and I think you would really rock the tripod look. Whatever we have to do, we'll always place your comfort and quality of life as top priority. For now, we'll try the other options and see how that works for you.

3. With that being said, it looks like the couch and the end of our bed are off limits to you. I don't think it's a good idea for you to try to climb up on or off of those high places. Please don't think that because your older fur sister, Bailey Grace, sprawls out like a pampered princess on our furniture that she is the golden child. We love you both equally. Feel free to sleep in any room you wish. I'll move your bed around for you.

4. As soon as the staples from your spay are removed and we can take off "The Cone of Shame," be prepared for a really thorough bath. You still smell like prison. I want to wash the past out of your fur. Bailey loves baths and loves being toweled off even more. I hope you feel the same. If not, I'll be quick and avoid getting water in your eyes.

I pulled at my stitches. Now I wear the "Cone of Shame."

5. Be patient with Bailey. Even though she's almost two years old, she's still a stupid puppy. She lost her older fur brother, Malcolm Reynolds, five months ago and she really missed his company. She might get a little too rambunctious when she wants to play because he was twice her size and he could handle it. You are twenty pounds lighter than her so let her know when she gets to be too much. She might pout for a while, but she'll always look out for you, just like she does for her human family. Last night, you cried out in your sleep. Bailey jumped off the bed and laid with you until you settled down. Once she knew you were okay, she jumped back on the bed and fell asleep. She doesn't know what you went through to earn those horrible scars around your chest and across your back, but she'll be there to help you move on. P.S. She'll always give up her bone or tennis ball to you. She's kind of a wimp. Please don't take advantage of that. P.P.S. I don't get why she needs to sniff your butt as much as she does... if that bothers you, feel free to tell her to knock it off.

This happened for at least 3 hours the first day. Bailey, you're such a perv.

6. Don't eat anything that is not food. Just don't. I'll keep the house clean to eliminate the temptation, but do me a solid and stick to dog food.

7. At least pretend to feel guilty about farting. We all know it was you.

8. Remember to suck up to the extended family, our friends, the vet, and neighbors. Show them that you are a good dog with a gentle disposition. (I've seen it first hand and I know that even with the abuse from your past, you still love people. I don't know if I could be that forgiving.) They will be the first ones to speak up against the media driven stereotype of pit bulls and the fear of rescuing animals from a shelter. You're our second pit bull and our third rescue from our county shelter. If more people witness what amazing companions you truly are, maybe more of your kind will find good homes. I will do my part to be a good owner and together we'll change opinions one good interaction at a time.


I know it sounds like a lot, but we'll work with you while you get adjusted to your new life here. I'm sorry I don't know your real name. The family decided on the name "Sidney Ray." We chose "Ray" for your middle name, because since you entered our home, you have been a ray of sunshine. Thank you for you sweet kisses and little grunts when I walk through the door each day. Thank you for loving my daughters and checking on them when they cry. Thank you for keeping Bailey company while we are at work and school. Thank you for making the decision to adopt another dog an easy one.

Your New Mommy

**Please support your local animal shelter. I bet you it's full and many wonderful animals are running out of time. You can adopt, foster, or donate. Sidney Ray was adopted from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA. Thank you to the Helping Animals at Gwinnett County Shelter
 facebook page for posting that picture of Sidney. You did more than just save an animal that day.

Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered. - Bob Barker


Friday, March 15, 2013

Week without Mommy? I Got This. (The Hub's Guest Blog)

Last week, I was away on business in Philadelphia. This was the first time I was away from my family for more than a night. A couple of years ago, The Hub was out of town on a work assignment for a month, so I know how challenging it is to suddenly become a temporary "single parent." Before I left, I made sure the house was in order and I laid out the girls' clothes for school for the week... just to make it a little easier in the mornings for him. We talked every night and The Hub would tell me the highlights of each day...all were good and reassuring. I can honestly say, I did not doubt his ability to go it alone for the week... and I was right to be so confident. I came home to find the house still standing, the kids were not sold on the black market, S did her homework, and B left the house with her pants on everyday.

Later, I learned that there were a few moments of complete chaos and rule bending that The Hub left out of our phone conversations... He didn't want me to worry. I asked him to write about his week alone with our kids. Enjoy!!


Getting Ready in the Morning

Two bathrooms plus three people, T-minus twenty minutes until the bus arrives. The math did not work that morning.

B: I wanna wear my Tinkerbell nightgown to school.
Me: Sure. Why not?

B's Daycare Teacher: B's hair is full of static! It's standing straight up!
(I walk over to the sink, wet my hands, and slick back her hair.)
Me: TA-DA!
B's Daycare Teacher: When does your wife come back?

B: Daddy, you need to put a ponytail in my hair.


 Working from Home
(I'm on an important business call with a client.)
Me: Yes. I'll get that proposal to you in 10 minutes.
B: (Walks into the room with pants around her ankles) Daddy!! Can you wipe my butt?!
Me: Make that 20.

S: Daddy! I spilled my drink!
Me: I'm sending out an email right now. Just put a paper towel on it and I'll clean it up in a minute.
(She used my work notes.)

Making Dinner

: What do you want me to cook for dinner tonight?
S: Happy China.
B: McDonalds.
Me: Okay.
The Kids: YAY!

Me: I'm ordering pizza tonight.
Kids: YAY! You're the best cook ever!!

The Bedtime Routine

The Kids: Daddy, we need to take baths tonight.
Me: (Give each kid a sniff check.) Nah, you're good.
The Kids: YAY!!

 (30 Minutes past bedtime and the kids are still goofing off in their room.)
Me: You better go to sleep or I'll call your mother and tell her to stay in Philadelphia FOR-EV-ER!
The Kids: Complete silence for the rest of the night.

I got this.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I was in the 3rd grade. It was the week before the start of winter break and I was already daydreaming about Christmas. The teachers were on auto pilot with our lessons. They were busy planning the student Holiday Showcase for the last PTA meeting of the year and anyone not in the showcase did busy work. I was not in the show. In fact, I had no idea there was a show until I saw my grade school best buddy, TC, walk into my classroom with five other girls. My teacher choreographed a “Candy Cane Dance” for a small group of 3rd grade girls and they used our classroom as a practice area. I know I should have kept my focus on long division rather than watch the girls twirl and curtsey while holding cardboard tube “candy canes,” but I couldn’t keep my eyes off of them, not to mention, I was a little jealous that TC was doing something other than long division.

This went on for another few days: Six girls tapping their toes and trying to remember their left foot from their right and I was faking through my math work. The song, which escapes me now, was burned into my brain. Then it happened. TC came down with a really bad cold and stayed home from school . I overheard my teacher tell the girls at the next practice that they would have to make due without the 6th person in the dance group. I don’t know what came over me, but I stood up and said, “I can do it. I know the steps. I can fill in for TC.” My teacher looked at me and said, “Are you sure? You know it’s in front of a lot of people.” I nodded, walked over, took a “candy cane” cardboard tube and preformed the dance perfectly the first try. That Friday, I danced for a full house... erm, cafeteria. I felt like a super star and completely confident. I didn’t mess up. I nailed it. I was made for the stage.

Fast forward a couple…okay, okay… almost three decades later. I’m two months into my new job. Less than two weeks ago, my boss asked me very last minute to go to Philadelphia for our company’s big conference to fill in for another employee. It was déjà vu. Over the course of the last week, my responsibilities grew and next week, I will be speaking in front of approximately 300 people. It’s been one crash course after another and I know what I have to do. I’m really honored. My boss believes that I can handle this even though I am still very new to the company. They trust that I’ll do a good job. I know the steps and my right foot from my left. My red and white striped skirt is now a business suit. My cardboard tube candy cane is now two laptops and a microphone. But, the audience will be less forgiving than the PTA and I’m not the confident super star 3rd grader I once was. I’m nervous. Like, I’m not sure my deodorant is working and I'm really gassy nervous.

What happened to my 3rd grade bravado? I do "brave" things all the time. I speak in front of people. I introduce myself to groups of strangers. I sing karaoke... badly. I say YES when a comfortable NO would suffice. But, I now find that I regret jumping into the scary and question why I put myself into these situations. I usually come out okay in the end with a good story to tell, but the anxiety that plagues me the minutes, hours, days, and weeks before the event is almost too much to bear. I've lost my natural ballsy attitude somewhere along the way.

As a mother, I have to be brave for my kids, so in turn, I can encourage them to be brave and try new things. I have to show them how to take bold steps. I have to fly away from the nest to show them how it's done before I kick them out. Yes, the 300 pairs of eyes starting at you are scary, but you'll be amazed at how good it feels to survive a good scare. Try the spinach. Yes, it looks like snot, but you might actually like it. Introduce yourself. Show off a talent. Take a trip to a strange new town by yourself. Take on a huge responsibility. That is how you grow. That is how you live.

I'm putting on a brave face for my family. I'm honest about being nervous, but I back that up with "but I'll be okay and you will, too." The Hub is more than capable to handle the monkeys while I'm gone. I'm almost ready to board my first flight in 6 years. I'm ready to experience a whole bunch of unfamiliar. I'm ready to do a fantastic job.  I'm ready for a quiet night in a hotel room where I am sole master of the remote control. As long as I remember my deodorant and underpants, I'm sure I'll be fine.

Picture Credit: http://themetapicture.com/

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Happy Birthday Little Blog!

Dear Fine Readers,

One year ago today at 7:18 P.M., You'll Be Fine. I Promise. was born. Look at how much we've grown! We learned how to make dinner with children and debated the pros and cons of taking kids to restaurants. We shared our fears, our dreams, and our little quirks. I gave you some pointers on how to shop with your kids, how to keep your kids entertained on the cheap, and how to understand your child's emotions. I told my silly stories about naughty dogs and goofy kids, but I also opened up about love, loss, and struggling with the trials and tribulations of parenthood. It's been a fun ride and I hope you'll join me in another year of laughing at ourselves and learning to take it all in stride. I mean, really, we're just raising the next generation... no biggie, right?

When I started this blog, I was a stay at home mom. I was able to write once a week. I spent a lot of time with each story. I shared each post like a new mother shows off her newborn's pictures. I would obsess about traffic numbers. I would check to see where I was ranked in Google searches. I had visions of what my blog will look like when it grows up. Now that I'm back to work and the blog is a toddler, I find that I'm lucky to steal a moment to check the comments and type out a post every other week. I still love my blog. I still talk about my blog and want everyone in the world to read it, but I've slowed down on the "new mommy" habits. I realize that my little blog is growing everyday and one day, I'll look back and say, "Look how big it is!"

To celebrate the first birthday of You'll Be Fine, I decided to buy my very own domain name. I wanted to make this blog official and all professional-like. Well, it turns out, it's not easy to buy your very own domain name and transfer a blog. In fact, I think it's safe to say it's easier to change a toddler's poopy diaper in the backseat of a two door car than buy a domain name and transfer a blog. Like a tired yet determined mother baking a birthday cake for her child's 1st birthday party, I tried to set this all up last night. Around midnight, I shut down my computer satisfied with the fact that I now own a domain name AND I did not actually delete all of my posts when I accidently hit the "delete blog" button. With a toddler stride, I hope to get everything transferred over and start on a redesign soon.

My daughter, S's 1st birthday cake. It was Curious George.
It was also my very first cake baking experience.
I stayed up well past midnight the night before her party trying to get the icing face just right.

I am so thankful for all of you and that you read my blog. I love hearing from you. If you haven't already, become a Fine Friend on the You'll Be Fine. I Promise. facebook page. I post extra goodies and special announcements on there and I encourage everyone to join in conversations and share their stories. You can also follow me on Twitter and Pinterest. As my daughters say: "Hey other kid! Let's be friends!"

Happy birthday little blog. (Damn, I should have baked a cake so I could make a wish...)


P.S. Which YBFIP post was your favorite? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Robbing Peter

Alarm rings at 5:00 A.M.

Hit snooze about 5 times. Make that 6.

Oh God. I'm exhausted. Where did the night go? Didn't I just go to bed? I dreamt about work. That should count as a full day's work. I think I'll ask the boss about getting time and a half for REM Sleep work. I really should get up. I've got a long day ahead of me. I need to let the dog out, feed the dog, take a shower... did I put the laundry in the dryer last night? Damn it. Okay. There goes my charcoal gray cardigan option. I think my black sweater is clean. I'll wear that. Did I set the coffee maker to auto brew last night? YES. Thank you me from last night. You're the best.

Roll out of bed. Start the morning routine. Walk around the house in the dark to avoid waking the kids. Step on the dog's chew toy that squeaks. Might as well been an air horn. Youngest daughter, B, wakes up and starts crying very loudly like she does every morning since the second day of work. I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL MAMA!

Rush, rush, dress, dress, brush, brush, search, search, pack, pack, nag, nag... Where the hell are my keys?!

Drive to work.

Seriously, people! What happened to Atlanta radio over the last three years? There are five stations and they all play the same bubble gum Taylor Swift song at the same time. I'm only in the car for 15 minutes so I can't hear the results of the morning show DJs' riveting debate on the pros and cons of breaking up with someone via text message.

Type, type, answer call, answer call, double check the numbers, type, type, staple, copy, type, type, call, call, ask question, delete, type, report, repeat.

Drive home from work.

Damn you, Taylor Swift!

Meet older daughter, S, at the bus stop. Get a big hug and "guess what happened today, Mama!!" Try to follow the latest First Grade drama. Attempt to steer the conversation to focus on what she learned that day. Climb back into the car to pick up B from daycare. Get the warmest welcome from B. "MAMA!!! I MISSED YOU!!!" Try to follow the latest daycare drama. Attempt to steer the conversation to focus on what she did that day. Arrive home and get mauled (lovingly) by lonely dog. Check the house for carnage the dog left behind after 8 hours of being home alone with only the sound of Animal Planet on the TV.

Snack, homework, reading, play time for the kids, play time with dog. Bill pay, answer personal emails, light housework, and start dinner for me. Wait for The Hub to walk through the door. Sneak off with The Hub to chat about our day while the kids are playing. Have to cut conversation short because one kid did something to make the other kid mad.

Eat, clean, baths, books, kisses, feed fish, good night.

Go to sleep girls!
I mean it!
If I hear one more peep come from that room, you're grounded forever.

"You better go to sleep or I'll send mommy in there!!" - The Hub

Make lunches, lay out clothes for tomorrow, pack school bags, set coffee machine. Crash on couch and flip through the channels and doze off in the middle of The Big Bang Theory. Where did the day go?!

I really should be writing...

That's pretty much my day during the week now. I know employed parents out there are nodding their heads in agreement. Maybe even shaking their heads and saying, "Girlfriend, you have no idea what I have to do everyday." Some of you crazy people can add sports practice, music lessons, Girl or Boy Scouts, gym workouts, baking homemade bread, reading Tolstoy, working a second job, belly dancing, tweezing your eyebrows, and breathing. (How the hell do you manage it?) I know what it's like to be a stay at home mom. This is also my second round of being an employed mom. Both lives are challenging. Both lives have perks. Both lives are good and hard in their own way. I just didn't expect the transition from one stage of life to another to be so... well... exhausting.

I'm struggling to find my balance. I still want to do all the things I did when I was home all the time, but I also want to do well with my new job outside of the home. I'm not used to being "ON" all day. I have to be pleasant and professional even when all I want to do is lay on the floor with my daughter and watch Dora the Explorer. I can't believe I just wrote that. I can't stand Dora the Explorer. I have to be focused when I want to zone out. I want to do housework during the weekday, rather than on the weekends. Okay, let's be honest... I don't want to housework anytime. Oh, and the laundry piles up in record time now, not because I haven't done it, but because I am wearing different clothes everyday. I seriously considered wearing my PJ's to work. I miss wearing PJ's all day.

The simple fact is, we need the second income. I am so ridiculously grateful for the job and I like it 95% of the time. I think I'm pretty good at what I do. I have my "kick ass" moments at work. I still have my "kick ass" moments at home... they just rarely happen on the same day. I feel that in order to get everything done, I have to rob Peter to pay Paul. To get more time with my family, I let the house go. When the house gets messy, I get antsy and we have to play "find the kids' shoes" when the bus is coming up the street. To get my house in order, The Hub and I do housework on the weekends. I even try to do a little bit of housework each night to lessen the weekend chores. By Friday, you can't even tell I cleaned on Monday. I feel like I have to schedule every minute of my week. I'm not good with schedules. I'm motivated by mood. I do things when I feel like it. I don't have a internal clock and it takes so much self discipline to do what I have to do. It also takes self discipline to slow down and do things I want to do without guilt. Like read extra bedtime stories. Snuggle with The Hub. Play with the dog. Lay on the couch and do absolutely nothing. Write.

I know it's only been a month. I know I'll pull a Stella and get my groove back. It took a while for me to get used to being a stay at home mom. It'll take some time to get used to being employed. Tonight, I will set up the coffee maker, pack some lunches, lay out clothes, and set my alarm for 5:00 AM. I might wake up and attack the day with gusto. I might wake up and join B in a good cry and yell, " I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL MAMA! Either way, it'll be fine.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Crying Wolf

I've been a mother for over seven years, but I still don't really know my kids' cries. People say that when you become a parent, you'll learn that your child has different cries: A tired cry, a hungry cry, a sad cry, a fussy cry, a scared cry, a dirty diaper cry, a bored cry, a pain cry... the list goes on. When S was born, we jumped at every noise. If she sighed a little differently while sleeping at night, The Hub and I hovered over her and watched her chest rise and fall, just in case that particular sigh was her last breath. Morbid, I know. But, these are the scary thoughts that plague the minds of new parents. With time, you're supposed to figure out the different types of cries. Each baby is different and each baby produces unique sounds. I'm here to report that it's not always that easy. Somehow, I failed to acquire the ear for cries.

S would cry everyday about something. She would cry if she woke up too early or too late. She would cry if she didn't like the meal we served her. She would cry if someone looked at her too long. She would cry at the end of her favorite cartoon. She would cry at bath time and bedtime. It was like living with a toddler with PMS. I'll admit, I'm an emotional person, but even in my lifetime, I've never cried as much as she did those first three years. During one especially emotional month, I asked her pediatrician if she needed Prozac. He assured me it was "just a phase and she'd grow out of it." He was right. Around the age of four, S stopped crying everyday. 

The problem now is that her cries are inconsistent with the cause of the cry. If she has a serious crash on her bike, she might shed a few quiet tears. If we turn off her cartoons, S will reenact Sally Field's cemetery break down from Steel Magnolias. I just can't judge the severity of the problem based on her reaction. Recently, S was running down the hall with our dog, Bailey. Bailey is a 65 pound pitbull who truly believes she is a little lap dog. 
Me: Stop running down the hall, S.
S: Bailey and I are playing chase and having fun. I'll be careful.
Me: Seriously, stop running. You'll get hurt.
S: I won't get hurt, mom. We're just playing.
Me: Fine. Don't come crying to me when you do!
S: (calmly) Mommy? I fell down and hit my face.
Me: See?! Told you so. Go sit down.
S was really quiet and I started to feel bad for not checking on her. So after a few minutes of gloating in my mommy wisdom, I checked on S. It turns out that Bailey suddenly turned in front of S mid run and tripped S. S fell forward and smacked her face against the door frame. The few minutes I left her alone on the couch, a goose egg bump formed on her cheek and within a few hours, she had a dark purple bruise that covered her eye and half her face. S barely cried.

My younger daughter, B, (age 3 1/2) has one cry. On a scale from one to ten, it's an eleven. It doesn't matter if she's a little moody or seriously injured, her default cry is that of a wild animal being skinned alive. She will tilt her head back, close her eyes, open her mouth, and wail. I believe she is part banshee or we have a Death Metal frontman somewhere in our blood line. It's a blood-curdling noise and will turn your hair white. No joke. I really should buy stock in Nice and Easy 118 Natural Medium Brown. 

Basically, B "cries wolf." Every "bad" situation is an emergency. Every moment of discomfort or pain is of epic proportions. It's go big or go home. I can only hope that B will turn off the daily waterworks around her fourth birthday. 

That is why I can't figure out my kids' cries. Or screams, for that matter. When they are playing in the other room, I'll hear some serious shrieks and a desperate call for MAMA! I'll jump up and run to the room, half expecting to see blood or an exposed bone. 

Kids: Oh Hi, mommy!
Me: What is going on? Why did you yell for me like that?
B: We're playing Monster Attack and S is the mommy* and I'm the baby and S is trying to save me from the monster.
S: Yeah, mom. Why are you so upset? We're playing nicely like you told us to.

*Due to the high frequency of confusing a cry for the pretend mom with a call requesting me, I added Rule #264:
Whereas, We have taken into Our Royal Consideration the need for active imaginations and play to further our offspring's overall development, let it be known from this day forward, all imaginary maternal guardians will be addressed as "Mother." Her Majesty The Queen of the Household (your real mother), shall only acknowledge and respond to "Mommy, Mom, Mama, Ma." Any person in violation of said rule will be hung from their toes and given cold oatmeal for breakfast.

In order to make sense of my kids' cries and screams, I have devised this chart which shows the appropriate cry/scream for any given situation. Before anyone decides to have an emotional reaction, they must first refer to this chart and adjust their intensity accordingly.

Terese Lavallee
There better be a Honey Badger in that room or you're all in big trouble!
(Click on chart to enlarge)

I know that once the kids become more proficient with the English language and learn to better articulate their feelings, I will be able to decipher their needs with ease and accuracy. I encourage the girls to "use their words" and calm down when trying to explain what happened to make them so upset. It takes time and patience... something that I still work on everyday. I have learned to not react to every cry and scream right away. Unless I hear glass breaking, smell smoke, or worse, complete silence, most times, my kids are okay. We have health insurance so when the inevitable trip to the ER happens, we're covered. Like their bodies, they are growing into their emotions. I try to remember what my pediatrician said whenever our household is in the midst of emotional chaos: It's just a phase and they'll grow out of it.

... Until they become teenagers.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I Am Wolverine

B was the first one to get sick.

On Saturday, January 5th, just after her first two days at daycare, B woke up with a low-grade fever. She was laying down on the couch and not being her usual monkey self. The Hub and I decided to cancel our plans to work in the yard and make it a "lounge around the house" day. Suddenly, she started coughing really hard and then vomited all over herself, the couch, and the carpet. Oh hell... Here we go with the daycare germ sharing. For the next few hours, we battled her fever and she slept. By 5 P.M., B was jumping around and energetic as ever. We thought we had dodged a bullet. Little did we know that was just a preview of the horrors yet to come.

It started on Wednesday, the 9th. I was sitting at my desk at work and I felt a tickle in my throat. Then I started coughing. I thought it was from the dry and dusty office air. Thursday, I felt a little more tired than usual. I just couldn't get going. Getting up at 5 A.M. was taking its toll on me, but again, I shrugged my shoulders and had some more coffee. Driving home that afternoon, I got the chills. That evening, I didn't feel like eating dinner and all I wanted to do was go to bed.

Eight days into my new job and I came down with the flu.

Friday morning, I had a pretty high fever and felt awful. B woke up with another fever, too. I emailed my co-workers to tell them that I was staying home that day, wrapped myself up with several blankets, curled up on the couch, and watched cartoons with B. The Hub attended S's awards day ceremony and then worked from home that afternoon. Just like the Saturday before, B felt fine by 5 P.M. I was not so lucky. My fever spiked and I couldn't move. I was coughing and congested. The Hub practically carried me to bed that night and there I stayed for the next 48 hours.

I'm not too clear on the sequence of events during that time. At one point, I woke up convinced some mad scientist filled my bones with Adamantium.

Me: My bones are filled with hot metal.
The Hub: Oh yeah?
Me: I am Wolverine.
The Hub: Do I need to take you to the hospital?

I swear to God, they turned me into Wolverine.
I'll prove it once I figure out how to get my claws to poke through my knuckles... 

Photo credit: 

I woke up another time, walked into the hall and yelled, "It's 95 degrees in here! Who's fucking with the thermostat?!" I pushed a bunch of buttons on the thermostat and went back to bed. The Hub walked over to the thermostat after I left. It was 72 degrees and I didn't change a thing.

It had been such a long time since I'd felt that sick. It was the kind of sick when you wish you were a little kid again and your mom could take care of you. My body ached and I cried a few times when it felt that I would never be well again. The Hub would bring little plastic cups of NyQuil and Tylenol. He would fill my water glass and rub my back and legs when I swore someone snuck into the house and laid heavy cement blocks on my body. He corralled the kids to the living room and not once did I hear, "Mommy? I need _______!" He even did housework. I didn't have to worry about anything other than my hot metal bones. I fell in love with him all over again that weekend. 

My fever finally broke Sunday night. I was dripping with sweat and thirsty as hell. I couldn't get enough water. It was the first time that I was able to sit upright since Thursday night. It was also the first time I wanted to eat. I warmed up some chicken and noodle soup, took a few bites, and proceeded to vomit. I could not keep any solid food down. But, my fever was gone and I was grateful that I wasn't hallucinating anymore.

From Monday until Wednesday, I would get up each morning, take a shower and get dressed for work. I never made it out the door. I tried. I really tried. But, I still was unable to keep anything down and I was incredibly weak. S woke up with a fever on Monday, but like her little sister, she was fine a few hours later. I believe one of the hardest parts of parenting is trying to take care of a sick child when you, yourself are sick. I guess The Hub felt left out, because he started to feel sick Tuesday afternoon. He stopped by a Minute Clinic and tested positive with the flu, but the doctor prescribed Tamiflu and he was fine the next day.

I lost 10 lbs over the course of eight days. One would think I would be stoked that I finally lost my baby weight from my pregnancy with B... ahem, three and a half years ago... but I looked sickly and I was weak. My first meal was cucumber slices, soda crackers, and ginger ale. My second meal was three chicken nuggets and edamame. So far, I've put 2 lbs back on and I'm sure by next week, I'll be back to my normal weight. Sigh.

By Thursday morning, I was determined to go to work. I was no longer contagious and I was finally able to keep food down. My co-workers were extremely compassionate and even helped me with the work I missed the four days I was out. I was able to go back to normal life slowly. No one expected me to be at 100%. It was lovely. I was able to catch up on everything and finish out the work week.

I attacked the house with Lysol, bought everyone new tooth brushes, and washed all the bed sheets and pillow cases. I restocked the medicine cabinet with multi-vitamins and I am pushing frequent hand washing like a drill sergeant. I battled the mutant virus and came out alive. I am Wolverine.

Still waiting on those damn metal claws...