Boy We Are Screwed

So I did something incredibly selfish this four day weekend and instead of feeling guilty about it,I’m going to gloat. My husband and I went away. Alone. Without kids. To another country. Yes, you heard me correctly. We said, to hell with the schedules, the practices, the dance classes, the driveway that needs to get redone…let’s just do something totally for ourselves. And we did. And it was fabulous and just exactly what we needed to not lose our ever loving minds with all that we’ve got going on.
And now that’s it’s over and we are back home with kids that we actually missed (until about 20 minutes after we got home, but still…), I’ve got to blog about this vacation.
We went to Sandals which is a couples only resort and that sounded absolutely lovely because when you don’t have your own kids, who the hell wants to deal with anyone else’s right? Couples only HAS to be awesome, right? Well, wrong.
Let me explain. Sandals was wonderful. The room was gorgeous, the view breathtaking and the food to die for. Seriously some of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. We’ve gone to Beaches which is Sandals’ family oriented resort so we were familiar with the whole all inclusive and stuff yourself silly concept. So I thought going to Sandals would be the same except for the fact that there were no kids. I was wrong.
I can’t believe I’m actually saying this but I think I’d much rather go to a resort with kids or one that is family oriented. No, I didn’t hit my head on a jet ski or anything. I may not have spent the weekend with MY kids, but I spent the weekend with Kids. The next generation, that is. That generation after my own infamously named Gen X, Gen Y, or the Second (Give) Me Generation. And holy crap, folks…we are screwed.
Now I am attached to my cell phone as much as the next guy. I have two kids and a firefighter for a husband so I naturally think the worst at all times and clutch the phone, expecting it to buzz with bad news. I have also been known to aimlessly scroll through Facebook and Twitter and check the latest stats for my book sales while laughing at the cute kitty on Pinterest. But one of the biggest draws for me this weekend was that I was going to be a thousand miles from all that nonsense and not have to worry. I could disconnect from the world and damn, I was looking forward to it.
Hubby and I giddily dressed for dinner that first night, tossed our cell phones onto the bed and strolled down to the nearest restaurant without a care in the world. We had to wait for dinner, but, no worries…we had all the time in the world and an open bar to just sit at and stare at the ocean and have a conversation without being interrupted by phones ringing, status updates buzzing or children whining about being hungry, cold, bored or all three. For 96 whole hours it was just us.
We sat at that bar and glanced around at honeymoon couple after honeymoon couple. (We knew this because they wore dopey identifying shirts and hats and flip flops that said Bride and Groom) And our mouths just hung open.
“What are they doing?” Hubs asked as he leaned in and whispered into my ear. The way he sounded you would have thought they were making honeymoon babies on the table. But this was worse. At least that would have been entertaining. No, they were all staring at their cell phones.
I shook my head. “I…I don’t know…” I leaned over and glanced at the couple next to me. “I think they’re posting status updates and tweeting pictures of their food!” I told my husband, horror evident in my voice.
“How do they have service?” Came his incredulous question.
“I don’t know. I guess they paid for WiFi or they’re roaming?”
“But that’s like a crazy mad amount of money!” He pointed out. We didn’t even want to use our cellular roaming whatever to call our kids to tell them we were alive. We figured they’d hear about it on the news if we weren’t.
I shook my head. “I know. I guess it’s worth it to them.”
I stared at these kids (yes, my 38 year old self called twenty somethings KIDS) and instead of being jealous that they could upload their Instagram pictures, I felt an incredible sadness for them. They physically could not unplug.
Maybe they just don’t get it yet. Maybe they don’t get the fact that peace and quiet is something that people with kids who have been married for almost two decades crave. Hell knows they didn’t get that I didn’t want to hear about their seventeen bridesmaids and the fact that they were married for six days, four hours and 22 minutes (when they actually lifted their heads up to see the people around them). One girl at the pool had a count down clock on her phone that told her how many days they had till her first anniversary. No. Seriously. These kids were planning and waiting and now continue to plan and wait and not look around and enjoy the MOMENT. Cuz the moment is fleeting. It’s gone quicker than you can imagine and all of a sudden you’re 38 years old and getting soft in the middle and wishing you enjoyed the moment more.
Maybe they’ll get it when they have kids, but I have a feeling they won’t. They’ll be too busy chronicling every minute of their future child’s life without actually enjoying it. Because they don’t know how to interact with other human beings socially, which is ironic because they cannot even last a blasted DINNER without social media.
So next time, even if we don’t bring the kids, we will be going back to the family style resort. Because just because you don’t have your kids with you, there’s no rule that says you can’t laugh at the parents with the screaming toddler and the sulky teen and mutter “sucker” under your breath. And really, that’s way more fun anyway.

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The 8 Mistakes of Amy Maxwell

8mistakes_coverPINK_FRONTwebuse

Critics are calling it “The Bad Mommy Diaries” meets Nancy Drew. Well, sort of. That’s exactly what critics would be calling my latest foray into novel writing if they were reading it. 8 Mistakes comes out Oct 10 and I am offering it as a presale for Kindle, Nook and Kobo. Follow the links below to get your advance copy and make the critics jealous that you got to read it first. Oh and be sure to post a review on Goodreads…we LOVE reviews. (Good ones that is…)

http://www.amazon.com/Mistakes-Amy-Maxwell-Book-ebook/dp/B00NOFDA8W/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1411314519&sr=8-4&keywords=heather+balog

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/477621

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-8-mistakes-of-amy-maxwell-heather-balog/1120374901?ean=2940046179989

Dear Family, Mommy is On Strike. Please Figure it Out Yourselves. Love, Mom

I’m warning you, this blog is a full on rant today. If you don’t want to listen to me rant, close out the screen now. No? You want to read about me losing my $hit? Ok but you’ve been warned.

My family is totally incompetent. For the last four, ten…seventeen years, I’ve been the “tour director” of this ship and let me tell you, this ship would sink if I wasn’t around. I’m not full of myself…I wish I were. I know this because I’m currently on strike. Sort of. For the last week or so I’ve been letting things go. My husband is always telling me to “let it go” (sometimes singing it to me in his off key voice) so now I plan to give him a taste of what me “letting it go” is like. The only problem is, letting go is causing me even more stress because I’m discovering just how helpless they really are.

For example, it’s not my job to do the dishes. It’s hubby’s job to load the dishwasher and the oldest’s job to empty it. I can be heard wandering around the house saying things like “please load the dishwasher”, “please empty the dishwasher” and “do you really think those f’ing dishes are going to wash themselves”? They are used to me getting so annoyed and exasperated at reminding them that I give in and do it myself. Well…not this week. I let it go. This morning I found my daughter sipping cereal out of a mug because there was no bowls or spoons. They were all piled precariously in the sink, around the sink, on the stove. We will run out of room soon and they will have to pile the dishes on the floor. TFB. I will wash my own. I’m being selfish.

I don’t cook. I can’t cook. The children would starve to death if I cooked. So hubby cooks or we go out to eat. Or we eat frozen pizza or mac and cheese. The problem is, hubby relies on me to tell him WHAT to cook. No, really, I’m serious. I have to make a menu and post it on the chalkboard in the kitchen. If meat is involved, I have to make sure I take it out of the freezer and defrost it at least two days beforehand which is extremely annoying because his “mother never used the microwave to defrost anything.” He absolutely CANNOT handle cooking if I don’t do any of those things. I seriously might as well cook myself if I wasn’t so horrible at it. I am so sick of planning meals with no input from anyone else and then dealing with “I don’t like that” or “can’t we have this?”. If I hear the words “what are we having for dinner?” one more time I may stab my eardrum with a fork. Needless to say, I did not make a menu this week. We went out to eat four times and the kids had mac and cheese twice. Yup. But we didn’t have any food in the house anyway, so there was nothing for him to cook.

Hubby, being home five days a week while I’m slaving away at work, does the grocery shopping during the school year. Actually, grocery shopping is a misnomer. He goes to the store and retrieves the groceries and brings them home. I make the list, cut the coupons, scout the sales, organize the dinners and put everything away. You know, the crap that takes thought. Any monkey can push a cart around and follow a list. Oh, and I literally have to tell him what day to go to the store (carefully working around his oh so busy schedule of golf and stock market trading). The fact that the kids are taking baggies of cereal and five year old fruit snacks for lunch is apparently not enough of a clue that we need to restock. So today I say, “hey, the kids have nothing to eat, here’s your list”. Because he couldn’t go yesterday, his day was jam packed with cutting the grass and…I’m not sure what else he did cuz that damn dish pile continued to grow. And the day before he was golfing. He looks at me incredulously and says, “But I have a class today!”

What?

“It’s ON the calendar,” he continues in a matter of fact tone. I go down and look on the calendar.

“That chicken scratch?” I ask, pointing to the blurred orange writing. (Our calendar is color coded so I don’t lose my frickin’ mind trying to figure out who has to go where) “What does that even say?”

“Class,” he responds with his duh, you are so dense voice.

It looks like it says “G square triangle cat S”. Apparently I married a man fluent in hieroglyphics.

“That’s CLASS?” I ask. “Why didn’t you TELL me about it?”

“It’s on the calendar,” he reiterates like I should give him a sticker for making it that far. “And I did tell you. Three weeks ago.”

Three weeks ago??? “Do you not see the rest of the crap on the calendar?” I ask pointing at the multi-colored nightmare that I face each day. “You needed to tell me yesterday.”

So now, my whole day needs to be rearranged. I need to hurry up and get ready because I now have to take the little one to school because hubs will be gone already. I have to bypass the shower because the older one decided to get up early to do the homework he had put off all week, so he was in the shower at the time I needed to be in the shower. Don’t these people realize how regimented this whole routine thing is? Throw one monkey wrench in it the whole thing falls apart. I have to grocery shop on my lunch but not before running home to turn the crock pot on because now hubby won’t be home to turn the crock pot on and we won’t eat until 10:45 at night. I’m going to have to rush to pick the little one up after school so we can rush across town to gymnastics by 4:30…I’ve got this!

And then…”I have to be at my friend’s house at 4,” my son tells me.

WHAT????? “I can’t get you there! I have to be on the other side of town, hell, three towns over, by 4:30.”

Thirteen years old he starts to cry. “But it’s for a project for language arts!” he wails.

Great. Now I have to figure out how to split myself in two. Anyone have a cloning machine?

Everyone’s got their own agenda in this house and nobody bothers to find out if their agenda is conflicting with anyone else’s. I’ve had it. My agenda is going to be take care of ME and let the rest of them sort it out. Eventually they’ll get the hang of it, right? Now if you’ll please excuse me I’ll be drinking a glass of wine out of the gravy boat.

Don’t You See My IPod in my Ears???

I don’t like other people. By “other people”, I mean anyone I have not gone out of my way to befriend or talk to. No, I’m not antisocial or an introvert or anything weird like that. In fact, hand me a margarita and I will be the biggest extrovert you’ve ever met. I have a blast with my friends at parties or dinners and my family at holidays. I just don’t like unsolicited socialization.
Maybe this stems from the fact that I work in a school with kids all day. I smile at them and make small talk with them and listen to them go on and on about their brother’s new gaming system, the riddle they just learned, and their mom’s new boyfriend that moved in when dad moved out. Since I am the nurse, I think everyone feels the need to share with me and by share, I mean OVERSHARE. I listen to coworkers tell me about yeast infections and anal fissures. I nod my head and smile and offer them sage advice while thinking TMI people, TMI. I go home and listen to my daughter go on and on and on about Minecraft and ask a hundred and fifty million questions about the way the wind is blowing. I listen to my son go on and on and on about the latest Jordans that he wants to buy and Bob my head up and down enthusiastically when he shows me his shoe app on his phone. I listen to my husband warn me to stop using the credit card and stop hitting the tires of my vehicle on the curb. I can’t help it that the driveway is so damn small.
All day I listen to people. So when I have a moment, all I want is blessed silence. (Or music on my iPod). But I am wondering, why is it people don’t take a hint? If I don’t make eye contact, why do you still talk to me? If I don’t look like I am going to say say something, why do you assume I am just waiting for you to engage me? I’m not shy! Believe me, I’m not. Why do these Chatty Cathies feel the incessant need to communicate with someone who clearly wants to be left alone? Not all of us have the desire to fill up every moment of our lives with meaningless banter! Especially those of us with small children. Silence is ok! In fact, it is welcome!
To the redheaded annoying lady at the gym; I don’t want to chat with you as I sprint at 7 miles an hour and can barely breathe. Don’t you see my iPod in my ears? Don’t you see me look away when you approach, hell bent on a conversation. Isn’t that a clue? No, I don’t care about the news story about the new respiratory illness hitting New Jersey. It’s not a big deal. I know you know I’m a nurse. I have no opinion about it while I’m running. I don’t care. This is ME time. It’s doesn’t happen all that often so let me enjoy it.
To the people who want to make idle small talk while we wait on line at the rabies clinic with our dogs. Talk to someone else. I don’t want talk about my dog. Yeah, she’s eleven years old. Oh my god, yes she IS so adorable! And yes, I know you can’t believe she’s that old! I know she looks like a cuddly little puppy. She’s not. No, I’m not going to ask about your Shitzu. I don’t care. I am just here for the free shot. We are not members of some exclusive dog owner club. The only reason I’m a dog person is because THEY don’t talk. I’m so sorry you last dog died. I’m sure it was heartbreaking. No, I don’t really want to see the tattoo on your butt..oh you’re going to show me anyway. Yikes, that’s awkward. Oh, by the way, your Shitzu is taking a Shit-Do on the sidewalk.
To the other parents at football practice. I have a book and I am sitting in my chair far away from you and your drama because I want to read it. In peace. It’s not a prop. I’m really truly reading it. I do not want to be your friend. I have friends in my book and their drama is resolved in 350 pages. I repeat, I do not want to hear about your drama. I do not wish to stare at the kids and bitch and moan about the coaches. They are the coaches. I am not a coach, nor do I want to be; people who don’t want to be coaches should shut their mouths. Which is what I’m doing. Maybe you should, too.
To the lady in the restaurant who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to allow her toddler to wander over to my table and put her ketchupy hand on my knee while boogers stream from her nose. I do not think your child is cute. I do not want to talk to her when I am having a nice relaxing kid free lunch with a friend (see, I told you I have friends). I do not want her staring up at me and making grabbing motions at my food while I try to eat. If I wanted that, I would bring my own children with me. Please call your child off. Make her sit at your table and behave.
To the old guy in the grocery store at 6:30 in the morning. What? Oh let me pause my iPod.Yes, I do have a whole lot of coupons. No, I’m not one of those people on that show. Yes, it takes me hours to cut them out. Oh, you like my organizer? I got it at Staples. Um, what….hold on…iPod again. Don’t you see that in my ears? Oh, I guess you don’t know what that contraption is. It’s my “please people leave me the hell alone” device. And it’s not working. Damn it, it’s not working.
Okay, so maybe I AM antisocial. But, you either like me this way or you don’t. And hey, if you don’t… you’re one less person I have to talk to.

Get the $&%# Out of My Room and Go the Hell to Sleep! (Please?)

My kids are 9 and 13; we are insanely busy but hey, there’s gotta be some sorta trade off. I don’t have to monitor my kids brushing their teeth, remind them to wash their hair in the shower or worry about interrupted sleep, right???
WRONG. Hence why I am writing this at 2:00 in the morning.
Yup. Good old 2 am. How you doing old friend? Haven’t seen much of you since I gave my life to fighting with my kids to do homework and not bringing their phones to the table. But lately, you’ve been visiting with me more and more…
I’m almost 100% my rekindled friendship with 2 am is largely in part of my kids sleeping until 11:00 every morning in the summer. Now as we are trying to wind down summer in preparation for school to start, they’re realizing…they’re not tired at 10 pm like they should be. Or 11 pm. Or like last night, 2 am. And somehow, that’s MY problem.
This is just not fair. My body is confused. It wants to go to sleep at 11, 11:30, the latest. And it does. Only to be jolted awake 3 and a half minutes later by the feeling that I’m being stared at.
“Mommy?”
I leap out of bed, certain there is an intruder in my house that I must kill with the Stephen King novel on my night stand. Instead, I find my 9 year old is standing there looking pathetic, pouty lip and all.
“Jesus! You’re gonna give me a heart attack doing that!” I scream at her, clutching my chest.
Her lip quivers and she starts to cry. Of course. It’s her favorite defensive play. It’ll work on some poor suspecting boy in the future, but I’m immune to it.
“I can’t sleep!”
“Of course you can’t sleep. You’re standing next to my bed. Go lay down and you’ll fall asleep.” Duh.
“I can’t sleep with HIS light on,” she informs me, jerking her head towards her brother’s room. His light is a blazing even though he was supposed to be asleep hours ago. I’m sure he is under his covers with his phone.
“Turn your light off!” I shout at him. He ignores me. He can’t fall asleep without his light on and I usually go on and on about the electric bill, but right now I have that heart palpitation thing going on from being woken up out of a sound sleep and I just don’t give a rat’s ass about the light. I just want to go to sleep.
“Put the eye mask over your eyes and you won’t see his light,” I tell her smartly.
“Can you lay with me?” She begs.
“Absolutely not.”
Yeah, yeah. I’m mean. But if I lay with her tonight, she will want me to lay with her tomorrow night, the following night, etc., etc. It will NEVER end.
“Puleeease…” She pulls out the lip again, but I’m burying my head under my pillow.
“Go away.”
She storms off only to return 92 seconds later.
“I tried laying down. It didn’t help.”
“I doubt that highly. Try counting sheep.”
She wrinkles up her nose in disgust. “Why? That’s dumb.”
I agree. It IS dumb. But at…whatever time it is….I’m not thinking too clearly. I just want her to go away. I pat my husband’s side of the bed, hoping to wake him up so he can deal with this nonsense, but I find that his side of the bed is empty. Splendid!
“Hey, your father is still up…go bother him,” I tell the lip trembling kid who should have been asleep two hours ago.
“I don’t want him!!! I want youuuuuuuuuu!” she wails.
Of course. God forbid. The only time she ever wants him is when she is in the mood to share her ice cream or something fun. When she accepts her Academy Award she will probably thank him and leave me out.
“Please?” I beg. “Please, please, please!!!”
“I want you to lay with me!”
Just then, I hear the sound of banging coming from my teenager’s room. Exhausted, I haul myself out of bed to see what all the commotion is.
He is standing on his bed, bat poised over his head. Then, he smacks the wall with the bat.
“Hey! What the $&@*# are you doing???”
He doesn’t even look at me as he mutters, “This spider is like Iron Man or something. It refuses to die!”
“You’re trying to kill a spider with a bat?” What kind of sadist am I raising here? “Put the bat away and go to sleep!”
He shakes his head. “No can do. Can’t fall asleep with the spider here.”
Groaning, I trudge downstairs to locate the Killer of Spiders, Re-locator of All Things Scary and Gross…the hubby.
I find him in his man cave, head lolling to the side, drool pooling in the corner of his mouth. I unsympathetically kick the chair, jolting him awake.
“Huh…what? Where. When…..” He’s quite confused. I don’t care.
“Get up. The children won’t go to sleep again.”
He moans with annoyance and reluctantly follows me upstairs. Where the 9 year old is now painting her nails. At midnight.
“Why aren’t you sleeping?” He growls.
The lip starts to quiver. “I can’t sleep, Daddy….”
“I don’t care. Go to sleep.” He storms into the bedroom. I stare at him, my mouth hanging open.
Seriously?!?
I follow him into the bedroom where he is already snug under the covers. The 9 year old follows me. We hear him snoring. I want to cry. The teenager joins us.
“Is Daddy going to kill the spider?”
I shake my head. “No, it’s fine. Go to sleep.”
“What?” He looks horror stricken. Now both my kids are on the verge of tears.
“Just go to sleep,” I hiss as I glare at my sleeping husband with all the jealousy I can muster.
I climb back into bed only to realize that they are both still staring at me.
“I’m gonna sleep on the couch,” the teen informs me. Honestly I don’t care if he sleeps on the side of the road next to the Turnpike. Get the hell out of my room, kid.
The girl child still has not moved. I ignore her. If I lay perfectly still maybe she will think I’m dead and leave me alone. No luck. She is now tapping my shoulder.
“I can’t sleep.” You don’t say?
“I can’t do anything for you. Read a book or something.”
“Yes you can. You’re magic. Lay with me. Please, please, please!”
This is the point at which I normally give in. But I don’t want to give in tonight. Because I gave in last night and the night before and if I don’t stand firm I’ll be cuddling with her till she goes to college. And I just want SLEEP!
“Mommy needs to go to sleep, honey,” I implore her. “I have a very busy day and I….”
“But I neeeeeeeeeed you!” She insists.
The hubby makes a brief cameo at this juncture and let’s me know in no uncertain terms that if I don’t get her out of the bedroom he is going to break every single Lego that she owns by putting them in the blender. The child sobs louder.
At this point perhaps you are wondering why I don’t just dope her up with Benedryl and send her on her merry way. Well you see, there are two types of reactions to Benedryl. One is a sleepy, cozy feeling and the other is a bouncing of the walls like a Ping pong ball on crack, drinking water out of the toilet bowl like a puppy kind of reaction. The 9 year old has the latter reaction. You don’t make that mistake twice, let me tell ya.
But I’m so tired….oh so tired. I look at the clock and realize if I fall asleep now, I’ll get a solid 5 hours of sleep. That’s doable, right?
I drag my tired ass of bed and accompany the now skipping child to her room. I lay down on the bed (and am poked in the ribs with at least 3 Beanie Boos and 1 American Girl Doll hand) and will myself NOT to fall asleep. After all, I want to sleep in my nice climate controlled sleep number bed with my snoring husband. Not on this stuffed animal infested mattress that smells faintly of pee….
I wake up four hours later on the floor with a crick in my neck. So much for standing my ground. I guess there’s always tonight, right?