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A big worry in the new parenting realm for me was the state of my spine.   I have treated the symptoms (but not the cause!) of my back problems for years with the altogether fabulous trifecta of pain pills, muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories.   Just saying muscle relaxer makes me soft and smiley.

Then came the practice back pack trip at Black Creek, MS, wherein I attempt to carry significantly more than I ever have in preparation for a much longer harder higher trip scheduled a  month later.  And the back goes out.  Way out.

The ensuing year and a half is a blinding blur of extreme pain, Cirque du Solame contortions to get out of bed, a full body brace “positions everyone!” whenever a sneeze approached, wonderful physical therapy with diagnosis (thanks Fred and Crane PT),  that ended with the epidural.  That’s right ladies.   epi.  dural.

That word does continue to freak me out, but y’all, they put pain meds right where it hurt, right on it!  I don’t really do major medical procedures (Lasics vision correction, which Jim watched from the hallway, doesn’t count).   The nurse took my blood pressure, did the eyebrow raise and immediately recommended the fast acting xanax, so I don’t remember much of the procedure at all.  Jim still talks about how we went to McDs after,and I ate the egg mcmuffin AND the hashbrown.  He’s still not over it.  But I was over my back pain and able to strengthen instead.

So now, I am extremely pleased to report that I have had no back problems whatsoever in the two and a half years since becoming a parent.  Turns out all the extra activity of bending, picking up, running around, chasing flailing arms is good for my back.  It was my sedentary lifestyle that was the culprit all along.  As if I didn’t know that already.  No time for television, no time for stiff as shit.

What I am constantly protecting from pain are my breasts.  The elbows, the twisting bodies, the climbing over and over and over, the head jerks without warning.  I love it that the kids are on me all the time.  It’s an unexpected perk of parenthood, the constant feedback of touch and skin is well documented and leaves an aura of euphoria about you all the time.  The worst is when Clifton uses my breast as leverage, when he’s slipping off my hip or trying to reach to something above his head.  The pain.  I spend a good part of my time with my hands over my breast like Mike Myers’ verklempt Linda Richman

Here’s a poem I wrote about Rio our cat and my breasts a few years ago.

In the quiet river

of our sleeping bed.

Slip-covered bodies sway

and roll from shore to shore.

Rio, the yellow tabby cat,

uses my nipples

as stepping stones

to get to the other side.

Ow!

Fuck me!

Ow Ow!

I could write a similar poem about the kids and the last three lines would be the same.

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… says the magician from Frosty the Snowman, Professor Hinkle.

Says we, the parents of very active kids.  Here are some things we do to keep them busy and organized on the weekends.  Variety, newness and structure are key.  Inadvertently slip into unstructured play time and and you’ll soon find yourself pulling dvd’s out of the chandelier and asking rhetorical questions like Why are you standing in the sink and Why are all 16 puzzles mixed up on the floor?

Saturday AND Sunday mornings

Cartoon watching starts around 6am. (from the bottom of my sandy eyelids I worship and thank you, cable television)

Jim makes pancakes and eggs as witnessed by the bountiful array of dirty dishes, pots, pans, drips and schmears as far as the eye can behold.

If I’m not on FlyLady time, then scummy floor maintenance, laundry, and repetitive pick up activities.

Out of the house by 9 or 10am.  Sometimes our back yard.   I’ve been getting lots of great backyard art activity ideas from Play at Home Moms.

Colored rice with Grannie

Playing with shaving cream and colors – Clifton

Sometimes one of the parks in our neighborhood.  Art likes to do my pre-park speech now:  “No running away; when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”

  • Peters Playspot – walking distance to our house, bring balls and bikes and then fight over them
  • Danneel Park – two-parent park as it is so spread out and higher than other parks
  • Wisner Park – almost perfect size and variety, also can bring Bucky (4th needy man-child in house)
  • Washington Square –  lots of good shade and usually run into someone we know here.

Home by noon for lunch (ask Art what it’s going to be:  hot dogs, carrots and apple sauce)

Wrestlemania – aka naptime struggle from 12:30 – 1:30  (for night time we let them work it out on their own, but naps are critical to the rest of the day’s happiness to let it go to chance)

1:30-2:30 – sweetness sleepytime snuggle boys – continue to nap with me in recliner, watch non-kid tv, read, play with toys

3:00 – 6:00 – Get out of the house again!  Lots of options in our fabulous city

  • Children’s Museum (“shopping park”) – totally worth the membership – different favorite activity every time we go.  I love seeing how they learn and what they’re interested in.
  • Zoo – totally worth the membership and we haven’t even gone to the aquarium & insectarium yet
  • Children’s Wading Pool in front of zoo – free!  (“swimming in the ribber”)
  • Monkey Room – should get a membership here – good for 1.5 hours plus a few snacks
  • Parenting Center (boo hoo – grew too old for this wonderful play area)
  • Library, Children’s Resource Center – only last 15 minutes here, but it’s up from 10!
  • City Park – Story book Land ($3), or mad chaotic playground with one contraption that you have to sprint half a mile around to catch your child dangling from the bars.  Also, don’t look away or attempt a conversation because there’s a big lake.  with ducks.

Dinner out!  Picnic at the fly or restaurant one night a week, only these places

  • Chick Filet in Metairie – clean play area and good food
  • Piccadilly on Jefferson Hwy – strap them into the high chairs on wheels and roll them down the middle aisle away from the food selections.  In the oncoming traffic pretty much.  Get help bringing cornucopia to table and get things you like to eat too.
  • Dat Dog on Freret Street – the new location is so loud nobody notices the screaming kids
  • To go!  Cafe Nino on Carrollton (aka Portion Control Problems), Ted’s FrostTop on Claiborne, Reginelli’s pizza on State Street, one time Greg brought us sushi but I think he was scarred by the experience as he hasn’t offered again.

bath

books

bed

….. for everyone.

My youngest son turned 3 years old today. His name is Clifton, and I love him simply to pieces.

Razor sharp smile

Current nicknames: Glommy Bear, Troublemaker, Lokiface, Dr. Destructo, Cottontail, Sweetloveangelboy

Likes: whatever his brother is currently playing with or reading or eating, everything sweet, cereal bars (‘nack’), all cats (meow meow), tickling (‘gilly gilly’), nasal orifices, announcing emergency bathroom issues once fully buckled into the car seat

Dislikes: just sitting down and eating a meal, speaking in low volumes, wearing clothes, loss of skin to skin contact, any request not in the form of a game

The look

Day 1 – when we first met in Russia – September, 2010.

We call this “The Look.”

Wild ChildJanuary, 2011 – first week at our house.  Aptly labeled here.

Sweaty playground

A few months later and he’s an adorably sweaty playground urchin.

Silly cowboy

And a totally silly cowboy

sweet love

I love this photo as it shows his constant affection.

(ps – Don’t I look deliriously happy?)

Quantam of Solace

Early days – Mommy’s Wild Child …. sleeps.

It’s a blurry early morning, and the boys’ bedroom door bursts open. Clifton comes stomping through the kitchen carrying the over-sized red train book under his arm like he’s been up reading for hours.

He’s two, almost three, and he’s wearing the red Spider Man print pajamas: long pants, button down top with long sleeves. His hair is sticking straight up, and he gives me the biggest smile as he walks past to the family room.

Have I ever been that happy at 6:00 in the morning?

Oh yeah, that would be today.