Monday, December 9, 2013


I don’t want to come off as a complainer or anything, but sometimes I just feel like gravity pulls a little harder on the Stien Family.

We are so very blessed to have a wonderful family, our health (for the most-part), great friends, and a lovely home that is filled with laughter on a daily basis.  Yet, somehow we always end up in these sit-com scenarios that leave me wondering if anyone else has this many calamities on a regular basis?

Last week was one of those weeks where everything seemed to go wrong and as I sit her Monday morning, the hits just keep on coming.  Last Monday I had just come off of a busy weekend helping plan a Santa 5k that was a huge success, but consumed my life leading up to it.  I went through my usual routine getting the kids off to school, writing my column for the magazines I write for, running errands and preparing for my cycle class that evening.  The kids also had karate, so I picked Maddie up from school, threw a snack in the backseat and she changed her clothes in the back of the minivan in the parking lot of the karate school.

When we got settled, I went to the desk to sign the kids up for the next session.  We had been doing a 2-week trial at a discounted price and I wanted them to continue on.  Colin has been going twice a week and Maddie once since she also has Religious Education and Figure Skating to fit in her busy schedule.   My eyes almost popped out of my head when they told me the grand total for a month’s worth of karate was $300!  That’s a car payment, people.  They also told me that the entire family could participate at that price.  Since Tom doesn’t get home from work until after 6 p.m. and I have the whole physical fitness thing covered with all my teaching, I told them that Tom nor I would be interested in participating. 

I decided that perhaps just Colin should take lessons since Maddie already has her skating.  Of course, explaining that to Maddie was no small feat.  Unfortunately, she had a bit of a breakdown right there at the karate school.  I tried to talk her off the ledge, but we both left feeling sad and my pocketbook a little thinner since even Colin’s lessons were going to run me $100 a month plus $70 for the uniform and necessary equipment, which they talked me into signing at least him up before I left that day.

I had that icky feeling tugging at me that the whole situation was not right.  Everyone was unhappy, even Colin because he doesn’t even want to go in the first place even though he needs it the most.  I got to the gym to teach and had to shift gears to be “on” for my class.  I actually felt much better after taking my aggressions out on my Spin bike until one of the girls from the childcare center entered my class just as I was finishing up.

Apparently, Colin had to go poop and didn’t quite make it to the bathroom in time.  He ended up peeing his pants and “touching cotton” leaving his underwear smeared with poop.  I raced into the childcare center where they had him quarantined in the boy’s bathroom and I tried to clean him up to the best of my ability. He was pretty upset and had already used half a roll of toilet paper to try and dry his pants and wipe his underwear and had left it in a pile in front of the toilet.  As least he didn’t put it in the toilet like he did the last time this happened and ended up almost clogging it up.  I got Maddie to sit with him while I went in the hall to call Tom to have him bring a change of clothes for Colin.  When I returned he had taken all that toilet paper and put it in the toilet.  Luckily I got there in time to retrieve it before he flushed it, which entailed grabbing wads of it with my hand and gradually flushing it. 

After thoroughly scrubbing my hands since I had just been fishing my son’s poopy toilet paper out of the toilet, I ran out to see if Tom had arrived with Colin’s clothes.  When Tom showed up with a pair of swishy pants instead of Colin’s preferred “soft pants,” I knew I would get push back.  Tom was able to handle this situation for me and we were finally on our way home to finally eat dinner at 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, I made the decision that if Maddie couldn’t also take karate, that it wasn’t fair for Colin to do it, especially since Colin’s was still going to cost me a pretty penny.  I did some research on the programs available at the other school Colin had taken his Little Ninja’s class at last year and I could have both kids take lessons once a week for $135 per month and their lessons would be on the same day at the same time. Not only did this alleviate a great deal of logistical issues, it also would prevent Wendy’s drive-thru for dinner.  Fast food dinners seem a bit counter productive when you are trying to instill a healthy lifestyle by participating in physical activities.

I called the other karate school to cancel and told them that we thought it would be best to wait until to the New Year and revisit our budget.  To be honest, I didn’t really think the price tag would be any less of a burden, but was trying to avoid saying, “We Quit.”  I know they were likely shaking their head thinking that is why Colin is the way he is and his behavior will never get better with a mom like me.  The owner offered to let Maddie stay and extra month free of charge, but that would land us one month further in to the whole experience and make it that much harder to say no.  I’ve been in sales; I know how these things work.

I took the cowardly way out and emailed that we would not be returning.  I did however come clean that we would be attending a different school that was more reasonably priced.  Now all I had to do was go in and face them in order to get my credit card swiped to get my money back.  I got in and out of there as quickly as possible before the owner’s wife karate chopped me, especially since Colin was running around on the karate mats with his shoes on and didn’t even bow in and out.

I was relieved to have that behind me when Thursday rolled around.  I had to teach cycle that evening and after I did homework with Maddie, we headed out.  Tom was downtown for a work dinner and I had planned on grabbing dinner after my class at the café at the gym.  This kids cooperated leaving the house for once and we were actually on time.  I hadn’t forgotten anything where I had to turn around and go back home for something.  I wasn’t frantically looking through my purse for something while I drove, wasn’t texting or even talking on my phone.  I had just turned the volume on the radio up slightly so the kids could hear the Christmas music I was playing.  I was only a block from the gym when I suddenly saw a car coming at me on the passenger side of the car.  I couldn’t slow down or speed up.  Everything went slow motion and finally the car ran into us.  I immediately looked in the back seat to make sure the kids were O.K.   Everyone was fine, thank God.

I jumped out of the car and the woman immediately began making excuses until she realized she quite simply just ran right into us.  Another witness ran up to make sure we were O.K. and gave us her contact info saying she saw the whole thing and knew for sure it was the other woman’s fault.  I called 911 and waited for the police to show up.  In the mean time I began making phone calls to Tom, my insurance agent, my boss, etc.

Ten minutes later, the cops still hadn’t shown up. Colin suggested that perhaps they were too busy eating donuts at the donut shop.  I still can’t figure out where he learned about that particular stereotype.  I called the police back and they said that they weren’t even on their way and that we should just exchange information and come into the police station to fill out a report.  I was relieved and figured I could even make it to my class on time.

After the woman backed away from my car, I tried to pull away only to find that my front tire felt funny.  My front tire was pushed in and I had to pull off to the side.  I eventually made my way to the gym figuring either I turn in at a restaurant/ice cream parlor parking lot or go a bit further up to the gym and have people at work to help me.  I drove very slowly and eventually got there.  I taught my class, for which I was 20 minutes late, only to have one of the girls from the childcare center come get me at the end of class to tell me Colin was acting up.  Apparently he didn’t handle the stress of the accident very well.  I got him out of there and then began the process of sorting out the details of having the car towed, talking to police and getting home.

I was talking to the police on the phone, because thankfully the woman had gone straight to the police department to fill out the report, and trying to give my side of the story.  Colin kept yelling at me that his name was “Max” not Colin when I gave the officer the names of the passengers.  That is what Colin has changed his name to this week.  Last week it was Alexander.  The week before it was Carlos.

The police came to look at the car, the tow truck came and my friend came to pick us up and take us home.  Now, all I had to do was get a rental car the next morning so I could get to my 9 a.m. cycle class I was teaching.  I called Enterprise at 7:30 a.m., right when they opened, and they were able to come pick me up at 8:15 a.m. immediately after I got Maddie on the bus.  It gave me just enough time to rent the car and get to my class.  Of course, when I went to close my garage door, it wouldn’t go down.  It took five tries and on the last try I said, “Please God.  Let my garage close.”  And it did.

The Enterprise rental car guy was pretty impressed.

The rest of the weekend went on pretty smoothly despite the extra ten minutes it took me to get the kids in and out of the Ford Focus I was sporting.  Let’s just say I love and miss my minivan.  Sunday we all went to church followed by a pancake breakfast with St. Nicholas.  From there we went to Michaels so I could get some more ribbon to finish decorating our Christmas tree.  Mind you, I’ve bee decorating Christmas trees for three weeks now.  Every time I turn around, Tom decides we need another one.

Tom dropped me off in front of the store and he and the kids decided to stay in the car and pull around when I came out since it was snowing and we didn’t want to drag everyone in.  I was just finishing up at the checkout counter when I saw the kids and Tom walk in the store.  Tom informed me that the screw that had been stuck in his truck tire finally came out and now he had a flat tire. Then my daughter revealed it happened while dad was “doing circles in the parking lot.”  Busted.  Turns out he was doing donuts the parking lot…with the kids in the car…with snow falling.  His response was, “It wasn’t donuts.  We were just driving in circles.  The back end didn’t even spin out.”  Seriously?  I was gone for ten minutes.  He wonders why I didn’t want any more kids.  Three is enough.

I called AAA to get a tow truck while he called tire repair shops.  His spare tire was stolen off his truck years ago and we never replaced it because it cost $700.  Bad decision.  Tom’s parents came and picked up the kids and I, and Tom spent the next five hours waiting for the tow truck and for his tire to get fixed.

I went home turned on some Christmas music, made hot chocolate for the kids, coffee for myself and finished the tree.  By the time Tom got home I had also worked out in the basement and made dinner.  Tom wasn’t happy with how his day had turned out, but knew he had no one to blame but himself.

Monday morning rolled around and when Maddie woke up she sent she wasn’t feeling well.  Then she looked up at me and I realized she had pink eye.  I had some leftover drops from the last time they had pink eye and called her out of school.  She and I did some grocery shopping and then went to pick Colin up from school.  We got home and planned on having a relaxing afternoon.   I had to work later in the evening and had arranged for my father-in-law to watch the kids since I couldn’t bring Maddie to the gym’s childcare center.  I was doing some work on my computer when Maddie came to report that there was a major problem upstairs. Colin had waited too long to get to the bathroom once again and got poop all over the bathroom. 

I found him doe-eyed with shitty shorts in the bathroom.  The odor was intense and could only be a result of him getting it on the floor, the walls, the entire roll of toilet paper, his pants, and down his legs.  He also managed to get it on every layer of the toilet seat.  I scrubbed the toilets, the floors, and the walls.  I tossed the roll of toilet paper, emptied the garbage can, gave Colin a bath and threw a load of laundry in.

All these things that happened over the last week are just the icing on the cake of our chaotic life and general running in circles like dogs chasing their tails.   I often wonder why I always feel like I’m moving against the grain. I try to find ways I can change how I am in order to make it through the day without major calamity.  I feel like I am walking through quick sand half the time, despite the fact I am always running at a frantic pace.  I know that there are probably a million things I could do to be more efficient, better organized and less frazzled. Despite the fact that I sometimes just want to press pause or just want to crawl into bed into a little ball to avoid all of it, I can’t help but be grateful that these are our biggest issues.

I’m grateful no one was hurt in the accident, and that my marriage is still intact despite Tom’s parking lot antics.  Despite the fact crawling in the backseat of a car not made for car seats takes major flexibility and core strength, the worst part of my rental car is that I don’t have seat warmers and XM Radio.  Can you say spoiled rotten?  I am grateful pink eye, which is 100% curable, is what I am calling the doctor about.  I could seriously do without the poop cleanup, but at least he’s going and not holding it.  I lived a charmed life and perhaps all of these “issues” are just life’s way of reminding how good I’ve got it?

Of course, without all of these wonderful “hiccups,” what in Gods name would I write about?  And that, my friends, is the silver lining in all of this. 

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