Tag Archives: parenting

The Unexpected Leading to the Uncorked

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A pile of used wine corks.

I had an interesting experience this weekend with my two children, and as I flesh this piece out you will hopefully empathize a bit with me here.  To start with, my husband’s family lost an aunt a few days ago and we had to travel north towards St. Louis for the funeral.  It was going to be a short ceremony so the hubs and I figured it would be fine to let the kids come.  Other family members were going and they don’t get to see the kids much anyway, so what the heck, right?

Now, I don’t know how many of you out there have attended a funeral with children.  But let me just break it down a bit for you here.  My 9-year-old daughter had a thousand questions about it all, and my son was just wanting to know when it was over so he could talk again.  In actuality, I was very proud of my children and how they behaved.  I also thought it very intuitive of my daughter to be so inquisitive about the entire “death process.”  Neither of my children showed timidity when it was our turn to step up and stand next to the casket.  My son, who is 5, made a few loose comments and then just sat down in the front row and waited for the rest of us to do our thing.  I don’t think he really understood what was going on, to be quite honest.

My daughter, on the other hand, knew exactly what was happening,  Unfortunately, her life has already endured two funerals, both for her grandfathers, and they were under a year apart.  So she has a better grasp of death, and all the ramifications it has on a person, after watching my husband and I go through those experiences.  But this funeral was not like those, and she felt more open to ask questions and try to understand what this whole “bury the dead” entailed.

I chuckled a little bit to myself when I had to keep telling her not to touch her great-aunt. I mean, you don’t see that one every day!  “Mom, there is a bug that keeps flying around on her face!”  I told her just let it be and come sit down.  “No, mom.  I need to get it off.”  At this point I was gently grabbing her arm, trying to tug her in my direction towards the seats.  “Mom…”  Oh Lord, here we go again.  “Today’s April Fool’s Day, so are you sure this isn’t a prank?”  If I could insert the “smack my head” emoji here, I totally would because that is exactly how I felt.  I am pretty sure China heard her ask this question.  Suddenly my mind blasted a picture of this lovely woman, who was resting peacefully in her casket, sit up and yell out “just kidding!”  I guess that is what you expect when you take kids to things like this.  You go in holding your breath that nothing odd or disrespectful is said, but that gets squashed the first five minutes you walk in the door.

Just when I thought I had pulled my daughter away, she was right back up there by the casket, examining every nook and cranny.  Swiftly walking towards her I see her suddenly take one of the poor woman’s fingers and lift it up! Now I am almost running, in heels, towards my daughter while saying her name under my breath so it doesn’t echo throughout the room.  I didn’t want to be harsh because I know she was just curious, but heaven help me if someone saw her do it.  My husband saw it happen too, and he was closer to intervene.  Luckily at this point, we finally had everyone sit down so we could start the service.  Once we were graveside, my daughter then wanted to know about the pallbearers and how that all worked.  Then it was investigating the final resting place and the ground around it.  The questions never stopped and my husband and I tried to answer them as best we could.

In the grand scheme of things, it was a lovely ceremony and I have a feeling our aunt would have chuckled a bit at my daughter’s impertinence.  You just never know what you are going to get when you have children with you.  But I do know you have to just laugh it off and chuck it up as a good story to tell when she is older.  Parenting is such an endeavor and so hard, but also so fun and rewarding.  Stories like this remind me what fun children can be, and how innocent and beautiful their minds are compared to ours.  The tarnish of reality and age have not set in on how they view the world, and I find myself a bit envious of it all.

After getting through the day’s events, I thought it appropriate to open a nice bottle of wine from my dad’s collection.  I know he would have gotten a big kick out of the entire ordeal and all the questions my daughter asked yesterday.  I have this warm feeling that both my dad and my father-in-law are chuckling together in heaven, basking in the wonder of their granddaughter.

Once we made it safely home, I decided it was a great night to open up some wine.  Can you blame me on this one?  My head was still spinning a bit from the deluge of funeral and death questions.  I figured the wine I chose was going to be done Russian Roulette style.  The day had sort of held that theme.  I picked a 1990 Newton Cabernet Sauvignon from California.  It was delicious, and I am still drinking on it today as I compose this piece.

For a wine that is 27 years old, it still holds up.  But I think I need to see if other bottles are lurking around because it needs to be drunk.  With notes of blackberry and vanilla, the wine smelled so good after I opened it.  On the palate, the tannins mellowed out and had a slightly bitter taste, but in a good way.  Something you would expect, perhaps, from a wine like this.  The only thing I found lacking was the taste finished very short, so that is probably why it needs to be drunk now.

It still amazes me how wine holds up after so many years, kind of like parents.  We get through the battles and have a few scars.  But in the end, we tend to mellow out and enjoy the wonders life has to offer.  Whatever life brings your way, I hope you can at least enjoy the moment, perhaps with a glass of your favorite wine.

Until next time,

Cheers!

 

 

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Parenthood is?

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Entering parenthood has definitely been an eye-opener for me, and for my loving husband. It is so close to those commercials you see where the boy and girl meet, fall in love and then you are thrown into the snip-its of their life together. It usually culminates in mother and father bouncing teary-eyed, snot-nosed children on their knees while looking on bleary-eyed and exhausted.

I sit on my couch laughing at the couple I see on television, only because I have been in that same position countless times. Bleary-eyed and living off strong coffee, it pretty much sums up the first several years of being a parent. Your brain doesn’t function properly and you find yourself putting the milk jug up in the cabinet instead of the fridge. I NEVER thought I would be one of “those” people. Oh how life can throw irony right into your face, dirt and all.

I have laughed, cried and yelled with other moms about the instances in my life as a mother that have literally made me want to pull my hair out or go run in traffic during rush hour. The other night, I caught myself saying something, and it made me think…what are the signs that scream “parenthood?”

After thinking on it the rest of the evening, I came up with a list that I felt fit the bill for my being a parent raising two fun-loving, crazy, wild and spontaneous children.

Here we go:

1.  You know you’re a parent when a trip to Target or the grocery store alone feels like a tropical vacation. Who ever knew I would take shopping at the grocery store for granted? I used to breeze through the aisles, hearing the kids screaming in their carts and silently thanking God it wasn’t my cart. The first time I snuck off to Target after having my daughter I was so distracted while ogling over the different paper towels I could buy that I failed to see the support post in the middle of the aisle. And I ran the cart full-force into that pole, oblivious to the pain I was about to experience as the handlebar of my bright red shopping cart violently pressed against my ever-expanding, milk-producing remnants of breasts. Remember, this was the first trip I had taken out of the house alone after having a newborn. Because of my blatant obtuseness, I had to stop in the aisle to catch my breath and pray I hadn’t sprayed breast milk all over the floor. Yes, shopping alone and wondering the aisles of my favorite store is definitely a quick trip to paradise, perhaps dairy-free next time?

2.  You know you’re a parent when your supportive, loving spouse opens the freezer to pull out yet another frozen casserole for dinner, only to find your freezer contains more breast milk bags than food. When our first child was born, I knew beforehand I was going to give nursing a shot. Whether it worked or not, who knew, but I had to try. Nursing the first time wasn’t as successful as when I nursed my second child. Maybe my body decided it was go-time or wanted to prove me wrong. But for some reason, my second delivery showed I was able to “reserve” and “store” extra bags of breast milk in our freezer. The best part was when you asked the friends who didn’t have kids yet to get something out of the freezer for you and then watch their eyeballs pop out of their heads. It’s a cheap laugh to have, but hey, parents will take them where they can get them. Let’s not tell them about the whole “pump and dump” scenario that goes along with having a night out and drinking some wine. That really gets them confused. No judgment, right?

3.  You know you’re a parent when, getting up from a table full of friends, you announce to all present you are “going to use the potty.” Parenthood’s arch nemesis has to be potty training a toddler. I am now in the midst of getting our 3-year-old son potty trained and it has been a haul of poop, pee and a lot of extra laundry. Boys are busy and feel okay with having crap in their pants instead of stopping their trains from delivering goods on the Island of Sodor. Seriously? Oh, it is so gross! And because I am full-force into potty-training mom mode, I found myself the other evening announcing (in a bar, yes, a BAR) to my gal pals in a sweet, child-like voice that I was “going to use the potty, can I take anyone?” Wow. Time for a martini with that one, extra olive, please.

4.  Speaking of potty training, you know you’re a parent when using the bathroom or taking a shower without an audience is a rarity. This happens EVERY DAY, my friends. The only time I can have five minutes of privacy in the bathroom is when my kids are out of the house. I swear they are born with special radars that alert them when you disappear from the room and close the bathroom or shower door. Before I can get my water to the perfect temperature I have my son or daughter swinging open the door and asking me what I am doing. I just give them the “what-does-it-look-like-I-am-doing” look, and yet, they still stand there letting all the hot steam out and waiting for a response. Being a parent means I have truly lost my sense of modesty without having a say in the matter. My kids took care of that for me, they just barge on in and start asking questions. I need better locks on my doors…maybe retinal scans would work?

5.  You know you’re a parent when the kids are FINALLY in bed asleep and you collapse onto the couch, hoping to catch a recorded episode of Homeland or Downton Abbey before your body wins out with sleep. Feet propped on a pillow, blanket gently laid on you, and remote in hand, you go in for the kill. But the screen shows none of your programs.

“Wait, I know I set the timer on Scandal. Why didn’t tonight’s episode record?” you ask in a panic-stricken voice. “Oh my gosh! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

And then you hear it, the first couple of notes of “Thomas the Train” and it hits you. Your show was NOT recorded because a previous recording had been set and no one noticed when the TV asked you to cancel or switch your shows. My friends, when you become a parent, your DVR will always contain more episodes of Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse, Thomas the Train or Caillou than you care to admit to (and why does Caillou still lack hair at the age of 4?). Parenthood means your television no longer belongs to you when the “miniatures” are in the house.

6.  You know you’re a parent when you purchase items at the store simply because it contains a “Box Top for Education” label. Ah, the old “box top.” I used to pride myself on my shoe collection. Yes, shoes have always been an addiction of mine. But who needs designer heels and boots when you have Box Tops? I have seen these things plastered on various items in my home, ranging from Kleenex boxes to protein bars. But I never realized their demand until our daughter started grade school. So now, I am full-blown into box-top hunting. Forget the bow-and-arrow or 22-gage shotgun. All you need is a keen eye and a sharp pair of scissors to complete the mission. Do I need 20 boxes of zip locks or animal crackers? Well, yes I do if it has a box top attached! Once removed and nicely tucked away in one of those zip-lock bags I will have for the next 10 years, my child will think I am the hero because we collected more box tops than Little Susie or Billy Bob in the classroom. Oh, and before I forget, send me your box tops!

7.  You know you’re a parent when you eliminate the color white from your wardrobe. White, cream, pale pinks, pale blues and anything else that can be washed on “delicate” are usually weeded out after the first year of birth. I myself found this out one lovely day when our daughter, who was only 6 months old at the time, decide to vomit her entire lunch of sweet potatoes and green beans on my newly purchased white halter top (it was July). Needless to say, that garment ended up in the trash can after about 10 bleaches. Instead of these rather lovely pastel and clean palette colors, parenthood has you choosing more food and snot-resistant clothing like black, dark blue, dark brown, charcoal. Did I say black? Maroon can work to in certain lighting.

8.  You know you’re a parent when you base your lunch or dinner destination on how clean the play-yard is at various fast food restaurants. I love good food way too much to consider fast food a means of sustenance. But since having kids, I have had to get creative, but as clean as possible. That means I have staked out the few places near me that my kids can crawl, play and burn energy without picking up a case of Ebola. Yes, I am the mom that has stashed hand sanitizer in her purse, various places in the car, by the back door and in my children’s backpacks. Hey, every little bit helps, right? I knew I was a parent when I found myself sitting in the room of an indoor play yard while surfing Facebook or playing Candy Crush on my phone. All the while my children are climbing in bare feet (which isn’t allowed), running around and not eating the $5 kid’s meal I purchased for each of them. Oh, why can’t I be sitting in the tasting room of a Napa vineyard??

Those are just a few things that I found to define me as a parent. Parenthood has been full of wonderful moments, first words, huge hugs and lots of laughs. Parenthood has also shared some dark sides, such as yelling matches, time-outs and cancelled babysitters. But it is a role, a task that I have to respect because it shapes me everyday, like a child shapes a container of play-dough. I am far from being perfect as a parent, but I figure if I give it my all then I have to do something right along the way. For you parents out there, I know you have your own “you know you’re a parent when…” and I would love to hear your stories. Please share with me, so we can laugh together at what life has thrown us.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing your DNA reproduce with arms, legs and a brain that contains opinions, I hope you read this and laugh with me, because I am one of those people that have to laugh through life to drudge through all the muck and junk that comes with it.

Despite loosing 401K’s for college funds instead of designer shoes, or becoming obsessive compulsive over the wipes being out after your kid’s massive explosion, parenthood is a truly off-the-cuff experience. Perhaps this is why you find so many self-help books at the library. In the words of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, A.K.A. Will Smith, “sometimes parents just don’t understand.”

I would offer a wine tip, but in my brutal honesty as a parent, you just have to find a wine (or drink of preference) you enjoy to help you unwind from the day of telling little ones “no,” or “stop that,” or “I said no kicking!” I am not going to judge or dictate on the wine or drink of choice. Just take what you need to wind down from one of the tough days at the “office of parenthood.”

Until next time, cheers.

The “Annabelle-ism”

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My daughter, the first-born child in our family, is known to be a little dramatic at times.  Okay, that is a bit of an understatement.  She is EXTREMELY dramatic.  In fact, during one of her “fits” I often find myself saying out loud, “Annabelle would like to thank the Academy….” She doesn’t think it is very funny.  Oops.

When Annabelle first started talking and putting thoughts together, I decided to start a continual document on my computer called “Annabelle-isms.”  I record every single funny, embarrassing, out-spoken thing this child has said in her short six years on this planet.  And I absolutely love going back through them, reminiscing on all the face-squishing moments this little girl has caused me over the years.  But one story in particular I feel the need to share because it still brings tears of laughter to my eyes when I read it.

This story takes place when Annabelle was a little over three years of age.  I did not have Addison, our son, at this point in time.  Just Annabelle-and believe me, she was enough to handle.  The day was pretty typical for the two of us, visiting the gym, running errands and getting groceries before heading home.  Naptime was quickly approaching, but Annabelle and I had made it all the way through the store without a major meltdown (thanks to me opening up a package of Oreos).  Now, I don’t know about your grocery store, but our checkout aisles are junked-up with magazines, candy racks, gum and the occasional cigarette lighter paraphernalia.  I pick an aisle that had as little as possible for little hands to grab.  Annabelle continues to sit in the front of the cart eating Oreos as I begin to load my items on the conveyor belt.  All of a sudden she starts to yell, “Mommy, Mommy!”

Now, for you moms out there, I know when you hear the word “mommy” you let it go in one ear and out the other unless it has that specific “tone.”   The one which lets you know the child is hurt or in trouble.  It is the difference between a whine and an actual call of alarm.  This specific “mommy” Annabelle was saying over and over had the tone of “I want your attention, and I want it now…but my limbs are still intact.”

I glanced up at Annabelle to give her my attention when she started pointing at all the miscellaneous things in our particular aisle.  “No Annabelle,” I began.  “You can’t have the Pez candy dispenser!”  This is where it gets good.  “No Mommy, I don’t want that.  I need my lighter.”

“Your what?”  I ask her, stopping in mid-air with my unloading.  “Your lighter?”

“Yeah, my lighter,” she continues in this innocent voice.  “I need it for my cigarettes.”

Oh. My. Gosh.  The first thing that pops into my head is how does she know lighters and cigarettes go together.  Oh wait, my mother is a smoker.  There you go…insert literary eye roll.

Now, as the words so eloquently come out of her mouth I notice a nice young gentleman behind me waiting to check out.  And I make the mistake of locking eyes with him.  I see scorn and judgment in them.  Sweat starts to form at the base of my neck.  This guy seriously believes my kid knows what she is asking for right now?  Has he ever heard the phrase “kids just say the darnedest things?”

I give him a nervous laugh-you know the one I am talking about, right?  The kind of laugh you used when you had to explain to your parents why the car had a busted light or why the vodka bottle was filled with water.  It was one of those laughs.  He continues to just stare and judge-Mr. Personality.  Meanwhile, my devil-of-a-daughter is still yelling for the cigarettes and lighter!  Oh Lord, help me now!  I see a “coming-to-Jesus” session with my mom over this one.  Can the floor just swallow me up right now?  I wanted to scream at the man behind me, “I don’t smoke, it’s my mom who smokes!  Yes, I give my kid high fructose corn syrup, but not nicotine!”

By this point in time I was basically hurling my grocery items towards the kid who was starting to bag stuff up.  I desperately needed to get the heck out of dodge.  Annabelle’s rants were starting to draw more attention around me.  I looked at Annabelle and said in what I hope was a calm and orator-like voice, “Honey, stop.  You don’t smoke (oh really?) and you don’t have cigarettes (another genius statement, Samantha).”  I continue on as if I’m scolding a teenager caught smoking under the school bleachers.  “No one in our house smokes.  Let’s go.”

I pushed the cart Annabelle was sitting in towards the bagger so he could load our groceries.  Then I planned to pull a Florence Joyner and sprint out of the store.  The entire situation was embarrassing and hysterical, all in the same moment.  A typical Off-Broadway satire that only a mom could truly appreciate.  I am sure anyone who witnessed the entire scene was left scratching his or her head in confusion, wondering what the heck just happened.  Oh, and did that kid really ask for cigarettes and a lighter?

And for the guy behind me in line with the dagger-shooting, disdain-filled eyeballs (who obviously didn’t have kids), I have this to say.  One day you will have a child, girl or boy, and in your mind you will have a vision of how this child will carry his- or herself in public.  And this said child will completely pull that figmental rug from under your feet, wrap it over your head, then proceed to perform a “Dutch Oven” on you (if you don’t know what is, look it up and laugh).

So there you have it, one of my best “Annabelle-isms” to this day.  But I am sure as time rolls on and she learns more vocabulary words, witnesses more inappropriate cable commercials and acquires new “habits” from her school friends, my Word document will just keep getting longer and longer.

Now, if I have to compare my daughter to a wine in this world I would have to choose something with pepper and spice.  What better wine to serve such a purpose than a red Zinfandel?  Don’t confuse this wine with the light pink version on the markets.  Yes, that wine is made from the same Zinfandel grape, but it has been mixed with white varieties and sweetened up a bit.  The wine I am speaking of is robust, not anywhere close to light-bodied or sweet.

I am new to the world of Zinfandels, but when I had some a few months ago at a tasting I fell in love with their spicy undertones.  They completely surprise the palate, hinting at blackberry and currant when you first sip, but then blasting your tongue with a bold spice that could stand up to any meal you serve on the table.

Zinfandels have their biggest presence in California, but you will also find some from southern Italy and even Australia.  I would go to your local liquor store or wine shop and try a few different bottles, compare their likenesses and differences.  You don’t have to break the bank to find some good labels.  If you want to try a trusted name, Rombauer (California) makes a Zinfandel that would cost you around $30.  One label I have had is Quivira (California).  Their Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel will only cost you about $20, and it held up nicely to this particular grape’s heritage.

Until next time, cheers!

Toddlers are…

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July 24, 2011

*I wrote this piece two years ago with the intention I would publish it.  Better late than never, right?*

Having a daughter is an interesting experience….one that changes on an hourly basis.  One minute she is sitting in my lap telling me how much she loves me and saying things like “Happy Mother’s Day,” or “Happy Birthday,” to only be talking back and yelling “NO!” at the top of her lungs.  *sigh*  Does it get any easier??  When does this crazy yo-yo attitude even out a bit?

And the kicker to it all?  I have another child coming in October….What?  Oh boy.

You know what my biggest fear is about having another child?  I feel as if I am failing at raising the one I already have, so what business do I have bringing another person into the world?  Okay, maybe not completely failing, but I do feel as if I come up short a lot of times as a mom.  My problem is trying to keep up with what all the “smarties” out there trying to tell me what to do with my child.  Have her learn this, make sure she knows that, yadda, yadda, yadda.  But you hear that stuff enough and you start to believe it.  Like drinking the Kool-Aid.

Well, let’s just hope that God gives me an extra dose of patience for this next child, or maybe for just the one I have now.  I certainly will need it while trying to nurse, change, and play with a new baby while keeping a toddler entertained and feeling loved.

For you moms out there wondering how you are going to make it to the next day, here is my advice.  Take a deep breath and remember Rome was not built in a day (sometimes it helps to have a glass of Italian wine in hand to really believe this statement.)  And for you moms who seem to have this gig under control?  Give me some pointers, and quick!

As for Italian wine?  Well, my favorite reds tend to come from the Piemonte region, which is located just at the base of the Swiss Alps.  Look for wines from Barolo or Barbaresco, or wines made from the Nebbiolo grape.  These wines age very well, over decades, and have a spicy fruitiness that holds them unique to the region.  Don’t be afraid to try one, most wine and liquor store owners can guide you towards a bottle without completely breaking your budget.

Until next time, cheers!