Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Life.. InLivingChaos

Let me tell you a little story:

Once upon a time, there lived a young couple.. blinded by a thing called love, they had their first kid at 21 and 24. They had no money, bought a home at the peak of the market, and struggled just to make ends meet. They had baby number two somewhere in the midst of this, because, life, and before you knew it, they were in crisis mode.

The mother was a creative person with an entrepreneurial spirit, so when life dealt them lemons, she added as much sugar as she needed to sell lemonade to help supplement their income. The economy was crashing. The husband's job was cutting back on hours and pay, and the prospects looked bleak. Instead of worrying about the impending doom, the mother created whatever she could- pillowcase dresses, hair bows, whatever people wanted and sold them on her website- 4BabyAndMom. She made dresses and skirts for mothers, home made scrubs, tonics and beauty products, and she made dresses for kids. She made basic blankets, but hated doing that.. so she stuck with what was selling well. She did great with it and helped keep a roof over their head. Then the government launched the CPSIA act, and basically took away the ability to be an at home crafter and sell your stuff online without having it lead tested- especially if it was geared towards kids. The mother felt defeated. She turned her frown upside down, and decided to put an ad out to watch a few kids. She'd been a nanny before she was a mom, and kids loved her, so why not? She took on the care of two more children and had a blast doing it.

The economy began to crumble at a faster rate than before. One of the children she was watching cut back to only 2 days a week. The second, not a month later had an opportunity to move out of state and keep their jobs, or lose their job.. so they moved. Finances were getting tight. There was no wriggle room. The couple knew disaster was on the brink.

The mother had decided to keep a journal of life's events.. and one Friday, one of her mom friends asked her if she'd ever considered starting a blog. With no other options in front of her, she launched 4BabyAndMom- a blog that shared all of the gnarly things motherhood threw at her, with no pc bull, just real life. She worked with PR companies all over the globe to help promote brands she believed in, and used regularly. She never took on something or recommended something she didn't believe in 150%. That was one thing her readers loved.

The blog provided many christmas's and many birthdays for her children. Advertising helps supplement income, provide grace in their finances, and even allowed her to breathe occasionally. The couple went through trauma and turmoil- they lost a foster baby they were supposed to be adopting, the husband lost his job, their minivan was repossessed, and their house fell into foreclosure.. but you wanna know something? The family stayed together. They fought the valleys, and trudged through the mud, and they made it. They had hope. They had each other.

Since then, they moved two more times, went through more devastations (the loss of their parents), and are actively working at rebuilding their life. While speaking to a friend, very recently, they asked her why she stopped. She had no real answer, except the blog became too much. Too much PC, too much work, too many reminders of life before it crashed and burned.. just too much. After a lot of praying and thinking, she decided (one more time) to try to give it a go.

4BabyAndMom became "LifeInLivingChaos" a few years ago, but growth and consistency didn't happen. It just wasn't the right time. A year and a half ago, the mom went back to work. She took a job working in preschool.. something she did before having kids, but it was after 15 years as a stay at home mom. The last year and a half has been a growing experience beyond belief. The mother went back to school to further her education. Her kids are much bigger than they were when she started her blog initially- her oldest is in 10th grade, her middle kid is in 7th, and the little guy is in 1st. It's been quite the journey.

This year, life is changing again. We're looking at buying a house, (possibly building one) and I'm looking at going back for my bachelors degree. I've seen the rise of the internet, the crash of the internet marketplace, and the rebuilding of the American Dream via internet marketing. I'm excited and eager to share what I've learned, what I'm going through as a parent of a teen, a tween and a kid, and I'm nervous to start blogging again- but hopeful that someone some where will find insight in my words of wisdom.

I shared with one of my friends the other day, all the baby books prepare you for explosive diapers, rashes, colic, teething, walking, and all the stuff babies do-- but the area of parenting I've felt like I've needed the most help is NOW. So, I give you my heart on my sleeve, and a dose of my life-- crazy, chaotic, and non-stop. Welcome, officially, to Life In Living Chaos!



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Today, I was a moron. Chemical burns + Contact lenses= not good.

I've worn contact lenses for 16 years. Without them, I joke that I cannot see. I can, technically, *see* however, I cannot distinguish the big, blurry shapes in front of me very well.

I'm up north, visiting a friend and helping her recover from surgery, and I left briefly today to have brunch with friends of mine. While waiting in front of the diner for our other friend to arrive, my eyes started wigging out. My contact lens was NOT behaving, and I knew that if I didn't get drops in them NOW, I was going to lose my lens. I couldn't remember if I had packed my extra lenses, just in case, and when my eyes started tearing to the point I knew I couldn't wait anymore, I asked my friend to zip over to the Walgreens on the next corner.

I couldn't see much of anything at this point, everything was blurry from my eyes watering non-stop. We went to the back wall, I asked my friend, (who has never worn contacts in her life) to help me find one with a travel case. She grabbed one, and it was by a brand I'd used before, but not in  a really long time. It was cheaper than most of the others, so it was even better!

We trek up to the counter, pay for it, I pop my lens out, place it in the vertical case, which I commented was so cool, because I'd never seen one like that before.... and head outside.

My friend and I sit in the car and talk a few minutes while my lens soaks, and then I take it out, rise it off and pop it into my eye.


I thought I was dying.


It was like pouring boiling hot acid water into my eye, and stabbing it with a flame engulfed dagger, straight from the pits of hell!!!!!

My eyelid clamped shut, tighter than Fort Knox, and I screamed holy hell.

My friends motherly instinct kicked in, and asked what she could do to help, as I pull the lens (finally) back out of my eye, to which I yell at her to run into walgreens and get me SALINE, NOW.

Any brand, she asks.

RENU. Just RENU. Any RENU. RENU the size of my head!! GO!!!

She takes off like a bat out of Haiti, and I writhe in agony. As soon as the stars leave my other eye and I can semi focus, I realize that I now need to go into walgreens and flush my eye ASAP, before I go blind. Because I'm blind enough. I really need to be able to not totally go blind.

I turn off the car, grab the un-holy water that I put in my eye, and go into walgreens as my friend gets up to the register. I pay, and ask the lady where the bathroom is, and bolt there. The other lady unlocks it, I stick my head under the sink and begin to flush it.

Then, after what felt like a minute, and an hour, all at the same time- I feel a little relief. My eyeball stops rolling.. and I look at my reflection. Aside from the fact that my makeup is now gone, my eye looks like a tomato, inside and outside- all around it!! I open the RENU and squeeze the crap out of the bottle, forcing sterile saline into my eyes like a flush station from my old high school chem class. While I'm flushing my eye, I ask my friend to read the bottle of the "un-holy" water.

It's hydrogen-peroxide cleansing solution that is made to be used overnight, at least 6 hours while it neutralizes, before the lenses re-enter your eye. It says on the label not to put it into your eye directly, or not to wear lenses before the solution neutralizes in 6 hours, but who the hell could read that when my eyes were tearing like they were when I first entered walgreens to begin with?! Definitely NOT me!! Holy Moly!!

It was literally right next to the stuff I normally use, and being that it was cheaper one, according to my friend, I just grabbed it and left!!!

Now, this was at about 10am. I went to the diner, my eye tearing, but feeling 150% better... but no where near where it should have been..

I go back to the house I'm staying at, and my eye just doesn't stop tearing. We decide to head to the local walmart, because I know that they took my insurance in Florida, so I'm hoping they do in New York, too.

They don't but whatever, I need to be seen. The eye doc sees me, I explain my stupidity to him, he applauds me for my quick thinking (flushing in the bathroom sink and with the saline) and then tells me he's going to flip my lid and flush me again. Holy crap. The second time was a LOT more painful. He did a full exam told me that I definitely have a chemical burn, but my quick acting made it less than it could have been (WHAT?! It seriously feels like I got prodded with the devil's pointy tail STILL) and offers me some antibiotic drops so I don't get an infection. He puts a numbing drop in it before I leave, and I try to bribe him to let me keep those... because I felt relief almost instantly. While he's amused by me, he doesn't allow me to take the numbing drops.. and I leave with a pout.

I get my rx from the pharmacy, head back to my friends house, and a few hours later, sit here on the couch typing this blog post, with tears streaming down my right eye like Niagra Falls. I had a video chat with the kids, and my daughter told me I looked like popeye.

Right now, I'm over it, and really, truly pretending that my water is wine!!!

I go home in about 12 hours. And I may lock myself in my bubble for quite some time. Especially because there's wine in my chaos at home...


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Unexplained health problems; could it be toxic flooring?!

One of the reasons that we took such a massive break is because our family was having a plethora of unexplained health issues. Of the five us, my son's asthma was the worst it ever was and he had developed an unexplained rash, but my daughter was the one who truly suffered the most.

My daughter was having severe migraines and pain in her eyes and throat. She was constantly raspy, and would complain of pressure on her upper chest. She would vomit unexpectedly, and with no warning, rhyme or reason. A headache where she grabbed her head and rocked, crying in my arms usually followed, and several times I resorted to driving her to the Emergency Room. She went to the children's hospital, to the hospital where she was born, and to a brand new (at the time) hospital with state of the art technology. Several specialists and neurologists saw my daughter, but nobody had any answers for me. I followed up with one of the best neurologists in our area.

As a mom, I felt at a loss. I documented foods she ate, activities she did, how much water she drank, etc. Nothing ever seemed to connect. On top of that, nothing correlated to her brother's symptoms, either! I watched her sleep, afraid to leave her side because she hadn't had "an episode" in a long while, and I didn't want her to be afraid or alone if she had one that night.

My husband thought I had gone crazy. My "allergies" had gone crazy, my contacts and eyes were always itchy and uncomfortable. My mood suffered, my sleep suffered, my relationship suffered.

Tonight, I couldn't fall asleep. I watched a program on our dvr, and afterward, the Dr. Oz show was starting. If you're not familiar with the show, it starts off by telling you what's coming up.. and I damn near fell off of the couch.

"Toxic laminate flooring" was one of the main topics. I watched in awe, as all of my family's symptoms- from nosebleeds to the breathing issues- were discussed as affecting many families across the US from toxic formaldehyde leaching from the floor boards. The headaches weren't mentioned on the episode, but after doing more research on exposure to formaldehyde, I learned that it may be a symptom, along with rashes and skin irritations, too. If you'd like to learn more or see the episode yourself, click HERE.

We moved out of that house 2 years ago, and had our follow up about 8 months after our move. At the neurologists office I made the correlation that my daughter hadn't had an episode since we moved out of the old house. The doctor and I thought it was a different, unknown environmental allergy or sensitivity, but now, I'm willing to bet that that was the reason we were all so sick!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Am I screwing this up? Thoughts on Parenting..

When you have kids, nobody gives you a training booklet or a manual on how not to eff it up. They should, but they don't. Okay, in reality, I know that there's no cookie cutter "one-size-fits-most" approach to parenting, but the bottom line is- sometimes the job just sucks.

There are definite seasons of parenting, too. One season, you look back at it, and say, this was a great season in parenting.. our kids aren't schmucks, they didn't argue with each other a ton, and nobody at school was bit, hit or kicked. You smile, and pat yourself on the back a little, and move into the next season, hoping it can only be as successful.

Little do you know, you're about to walk into the most hellish experience of your life. Your teenager talks back, got his first 2 cavities, and his first F on his report card. Your 10 year old {who is normally well behaved and follows directions} decided she wants to see just how much attitude she can dish before mommy pulls out her own hair, and the toddler. Oh, the toddler.

Because he is potty training, you have to stop at every single potty, at every single public place you stop for several weeks.  This is your third time potty training, so it shouldn't be "new news" but somehow, you don't recall it being *this* bad. I know if that's my only complaint, I should rejoice and be glad, but I'm really tired of taking the tour of local public potties.

Did I mention the teenager got an "F"??? What class did he get an F in? Oh, you know, just 'Business Tech', the class that when he started and they handed out the syllabus and it said, "In this class we will learn how to use Power Point, Excel, and sharpen our typing skills", and your son is the smart ass that interrupts the class to say, "I've known how to use those programs since 1st grade." Yeah... that's the class he failed.

Now, I'm an "old lady" by my kids standards, but it wasn't too long ago when I was in 7th grade. I had straight A's and busted my ass to get them. I was afraid if I didn't my parents would kill me. Still to this day, I have no idea if that was something they said to me or instilled in me somehow, but what I would do to instill it in this boy!! He is SO smart- "gifted" actually- but sometimes he acts like the dullest crayon in the box, if you know what I'm saying. He's taken his autism diagnosis and truly made growth in leaps and bounds.. With the help of his ABA and his counselor, his behavior at school has improved. When the ABA is here, he generally does well, but when they're not, he becomes an entitled little shit.

The disrespect is what kills me the most. I try to raise all of my kids not to be disrespectful.. I have no idea if this is "the age", "the autism", or just my son. Either way, it sucks.

I know from experience that it is just a season, and that "this too shall pass", but for the love of God, it's nothing but chaos! I sent a snap to my friend on snap chat last night and said... "there's not enough wine in the house for this...." and it has never been more truer.

Please someone who has an older son, or daughter, tell me that this is just a phase, too???


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Potty Training Is the Devil.

As a mom of three kids, you'd think I'd be a pro at this potty training stuff.

For the first kid, I had him shoot Fruit Loops like a game.. he thought it was the coolest. Then his sister was born, and he went back to being in pull ups because the accidents started happening again. Eventually, he was trained and life was well.

For the second kid, she saw Elmo or something say they had to go to the potty, and she asked for the potty. We got all of the potty training stuff, and she sat on it religiously. It seemed to take forever, but she got it, too. 

The third kid. Holy moly, the third kid.
So we were walking through the store, and he saw the potty. We had talked about when he "was a big boy he got to go on the potty", but that day he exclaimed, "I want to be a big boy and go on the potty!" 

"You do?!"


So we bought the potty. And the potty insert that he had to have. And stickers for the chart, and surprises for the treasure box.

We got home, set up the potty, the chart, the treasure box..... and nothing. I asked him if he wanted to try. Nope.


So, the potty sat. I asked and prompted, and even tried to bribe him, but still, the potty sat untouched for months. When I convinced him to sit on it and try, he'd sit on it for HOURS if I let him, and then would scream for a diaper. He would get the diaper on and immediately pee or poop.

I went away last month to help a friend recover from surgery. I heard stories from my babysitter about how she can't stand the smell of his poop. I came home and had to clean the first poopy diaper in weeks. Dear God. It was awful.

I declared that he was going to be a big boy. Today. That was it. No more diapers.. Mommy couldn't do it anymore.

You would have thought I told him I was cutting off his arm, just because.


Yes, you know when you have to go potty, and you don't like sitting in diapers, it's time. End of discussion. Do not go pee pee or poopy on my floor because you'll have to clean it up with mommy. Okaaaaaaaaaaaay *sniff*

I put underwear on him, and did not falter. He went on the potty ALL DAY LONG!!! He had a minor accident that night.. but since then, he's been fully potty trained. He even wakes up in the morning with a dry pull up!!! WOOOOOHOOO! The only down side {three weeks into this} is that every single public place we go to, magically, he has to use the potty. Now if I could get him to NOT touch the floor when he bends over to wipe after he poops, life would be grand. Until then, I will carry a boat load of disinfecting wipes/gel/etc.

Okay, so I may have exaggerated a little, and potty training might not exactly be the devil... but it is pretty chaotic. How did you potty train your child(ren)?


Monday, April 4, 2016

Weekend Staycation- Orlando Style

This weekend was the epitome of "Life in Living Chaos". When I tell you I don't think we could have fit anything else into the weekend, I'm not exaggerating.

Friday, while the big kids were at school, I did some running around {grabbing necessities like toilet paper} then had to race back to the house to get ready. I had to help set up a vendor show that my team was working, and grab an extra outfit to change into so I could go see my niece before her senior prom {see the post before this one}.

I got back to the house 15 minutes after the babysitter got there, 10 minutes after my oldest got home, and just in time to grab all of my stuff, throw on some makeup so I didn't look like the Living Dead, and then fly out the door. {In fact, I left so quickly, I later almost had a coronary attack because I thought I lost my wallet, when indeed, I left it at home.}

Anywho. It was windy as heck when we got to the show, and on top of that, someone pulled the alarm at the school we were at, so it was super fun pulling up to cops and dogs sniffing the campus. We set up the tent, I helped set up the table, {prayed to God it wouldn't blow away} I wished my team good luck, and I took off like a bat out of Haiti. I made it to my sister's house in record time, just before the rest of the chaos ensued. After I helped talk my sister off the edge of a mental breakdown, I came back home and enjoyed a rather hilarious game of Head's Up with my crazy best friends.

My son is the trumpet player in the middle, looking at the camera!
Saturday, my son marched in his first marching band performance. He and his classmates did an AMAZING job. The two littles, the hubby, and I watched the majority of the parade, and then we decided on an incredibly spontaneous moment to drive out to Orlando and see his friends who were in Disney on vacation.

Dinner & a movie!
After the 2 hour ride {yay traffic} we made it to Disney Springs. Oh. Em. Gee. It was INSANE!!! Like, people on top of people, insane. But, we got to see his friends, enjoy a boat ride, had a nice dinner {pizza} & a movie at one of the resort restaurants, and even shop a little.The kids built lego cars and raced them down the ramp at the Lego Store, and we even got to enjoy some Italian Ices and watch the volcano at the Rain Forest Cafe erupt from across the lake.

Before we knew it, it was 10:30, the kids and I were shot, so the hubby asked if we could find a hotel to crash at so we didn't have to drive the 2 hours home. I found a great deal online, at a 4 star hotel {with breakfast in the a.m., SCORE!} so I booked it. We ended up saying goodbye to our friends at almost 11:45pm, with three exhausted kids that we knew were going to sleep good.

Now, the only problem with a spontaneous staycation is that NOBODY had clothes for the next day. So, on our way to the hotel, I decided to stop by Walmart. I figured I could grab a few cheap-o touristy shirts, swim trunks for the boys, suits for me and Abbie, and sundresses, and call it a day. $92 later, and no dress or pants for Abbie {I hate walmart, they wouldnt sell me the item I picked for her, they said it was "invalid"} I ended up leaving the store. It was now almost 1a.m.!!!

We got to the hotel, checked in, and went up to our room. Praise god the room was clean, bug free, (it's Florida, even 4 star hotels can get bugs), and the bed was like a cloud of marshmallow fluff. The laundry room was right across the hall, so we put on laundry, set the alarm and went to bed.

Sunday morning, we woke up and went to breakfast. That's when I was really happy that we decided to stop at 3 kids. There were so many kids there that *I* started feeling overstimulated. Never mind my Autism-Spectrum kid, and two other sensory kids... The breakfast was hard boiled eggs, biscuits and sausage gravy, fried chicken patties, make-your-own-waffles, yogurt, or oatmeal. Yikes.

I ended up making waffles, with one iron that had a handle that kept rebeling and rolling down.. and the other iron that , no matter how you much conditioning spray you used, wouldn't keep the freaking batter from sticking like you crazy glued the s.o.b. to the metal itself. I really think the food workers were just messing with us and truly using superglue in the pump bottle.

Like, I can imagine the conversation behind the door..

"How many hungry kids are we going to make cry today?" Liz asks as she smirks at her co-worker.

" Oh gee, Liz, I have no idea. I just want to watch the moms try to pull the waffle out of Ol' Bertha, without spilling their granola all over the floor, and then get all flustered because the kid behind them is hacking up a lung."

Yup. I'm pretty certain it went something like that.

We sent the three kids to the arcade room while the hubby and I debated where to go. I really wanted to go to Universal Studios, because in a few weeks my son and I are going to go to Disney with his middle school band.

The husband vetoed the trip and tried to get me to say yes to a fanboat ride. They were closed. Then h suggested Kennedy Space Center. I didn't want to drive that far. Then we were going to go to Old Town, but I pointed out how we ALWAYS go to Old Town.

We were almost out of options. We are the only family that cannot find anything to do in ORLANDO. What is wrong with us?! So, after some googling, we decided to do some light shopping, and then head to Friendly's for lunch, since breakfast was something of a disaster.  We had an amazing time there.

I know, that sounds like an oximoron. We had an amazing time there... because the kids sat next to each other {almost} the WHOLE time, without arguing, hitting, kicking or teasing each other. Until the very end, {when Zackie just lost balance and bumped his head} it wasn't that bad. I wish we had a Friendly's that was closer to where we live!!

After Friendly's we drove to this beautiful park, and went to the splash pad area of it. We paid $1 each to enter it {score for the cheapskate mom} and for $5 had such a blast. It was a chilly day {for Florida resident standards} so we didn't spend too long there; just long enough to wear the kids out. We tossed around the frisbees the kids got from the parade while the sun dried them off, they changed, and we drove home.

We got home, ate dinner, then realized my son had 3 math assignments that were due this morning... so he stayed up a little later getting them done.

All in all, our evening to visit our friend cost us a lot more than we anticipated, but it was worth the chaos making memories, right?!


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Time Flies Fast Enough to a Senior Prom..

Almost 18 years ago, I remember my sister's swollen belly, feeling the kicks of her first born while she was still safe and sound, away from all of the chaos the world has to offer..

After she was born, Samantha Joann became the most incredible tiny human that ever walked the face of the earth. She became my own personal baby doll. I got to feed her and dress her, and sing preschool songs (mostly The Wiggles or Barney)and swore that the reason I stayed fit was because I was dancing with Captain Feathersword, and chasing after her every weekday! When I wasn't with her, I was at school, and eventually working. At the time, one of the seasonal jobs I picked up was at The Children's Place. Oh my gosh... I remember that year on Easter, Auntie-Easter-Bunny went a little overboard and purchased the ENTIRE new spring line, and displayed them in a basket the size of an ottoman. 

I loved being a part of her life, and her sister's (who was born several years later) so much when she was so little... I was sad when she got older, and just because of distance (I lived in Florida, her family lived in New York) I missed a lot of the fun Elementary school stuff.. 

The best news was hearing that my sister and her family decided to move down to Florida, too!! When they moved down, I was excited to know that I could be a part of both Sammy & Brooke's lives again. 

So, life happens.. and well, Aunt Lauren isn't as cool as friends, and boys, and the mall. So, I stayed busy with my three kids. I still saw the girls as often as I could, and we share some holidays together, but there were no longer 3 hour Wiggles-Dance Parties happening. She had a permit, and was cheer captain, and homecoming court, and just got accepted to Florida State University! It all seemed impossible.. she was just 5!!! 

Fast forward a bit.... Then, one day, I got a phone call, asking if I wanted to come over before HER PROM to take pictures with her. UM. Prom?! I wouldn't miss it for the world!

Holy hell! My niece has officially become a young woman! She went with a friend from school and a group of really fun kids. They all looked dashing in their outfits, and even while stressing about how exactly to pin the boutonniere without stabbing her friend, she maintained poise, and just emanated beauty and grace.

In a few short months, she will be graduating and off to college... and I will get to go through the same denial and reflection trying to wrap my head around the fact that Sammy's baby sister, the two year old flower girl at my wedding, is going to prom.

It's a funny thing... life, how it just seems to fly by. When your a teen, it seems to drag out so slow, and you can't wait to be an aduult.. now, what I would give to have one extra hour.. to have one more three-hour-Wiggles-Dance-a-thon.



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