Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Toy Commune

After talking with some friends last night, I was amazed at how different we all are. I have mentioned before that my cleaning skills lack a little something. But I had no idea how far off I really was!

I have friends, which for the sake of our friendships will remain nameless. But for simple identification purposes they will go by their initials: Jill and Kristy.

These two went into detail about the storage of their children's toys that was nothing short of awe-inspiring. I never realized that baby doll clothes must not be stored with Bitty Baby clothes. Nor did I know that Barbie and Polly Pocket must stay in their own ergonomically sealed containers, never to touch or play together. But most of all, I had no idea that Little People were not allowed to be stored outside of their appropriate venues. For example, the School Little People are not allowed be stored outside of the school. The Fire House Little People must be stored in the Fire House.

However, the thing that made me have the most concern was when they both admitted to dressing the Barbies, Bitty Babies, Baby Dolls and various other toys in their "correct" clothes, making sure they were buttoned, zipped, and hair nicely combed--- after their children had gone to bed. What?????

1. I don't have any Bitty Babies.
2. Baby Doll clothes are stored in their own drawer in my child's dresser- not in their own Baby Doll dresser.
3. Barbie & Polly Pocket are relatives. They play together; They share accessories; And, they are stored together in a large plastic tote.
4. Little People are cute, but we never really owned enough to have to worry about them going back to their own houses.
5. If my kids don't care if Barbie is naked, why should I?

I mean, there should be order, but I am the complete antithesis of OCD when it comes to toy storage. If it's out of the floor, it's put away.

My friends have a system- a very intricate storage system, which I would need a doctorate and a special decoder ring just to understand. They get great satisfaction from neat, orderly play rooms. I get hives just thinking about trying to keep everything that clean.

I explained to them that while they "segregate" their toys, I prefer the kinder, gentler storage system. We have a toy "commune", where toys live together in peace and harmony. Creativity reigns supreme when our few Little People sit in a "school" while Barbie "teaches" and Polly Pocket picks up the "kids" in the "car rider lane" with the Army jeep. Bitty Baby and the baby dolls are in the "church nursery" while we play the piano for "service" and have play dough "hymnals".

Fortunately, we are all dear friends- really more like sisters. So they overlook my "weird" habits and I overlook theirs. We laugh with each other - not at each other. And, we love each other and our kids. Despite our toy storage delima, we have fun together...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Whose Activity Is It?

There is a fine line between supporting and encouraging your child and pushing them to do things so you can live vicariously through them. I have been faced with this delima before, but none so much as with my girls and their cheer leading.

Yes, they LOVE it! Yes, they get up EVERY morning begging to go to cheer practice. Yes, they work really hard. And, yes, they really do have talent.

BUT- I have to admit I spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about my girls becoming the "perfect" college candidate. First, they are in a school for gifted students. So, if they can keep up their grades, get in some community service and school clubs, get some great scores on ACT/SAT-- then round it out by having super cheer leading skills: "The Perfect College Candidate." I'm talking free ride...

Granted, they could also round out by playing an instrument or playing soccer or running track. But (this is where the quandary comes into play) cheer leading is so much more FUN!

I was never a cheerleader. I was on the dance squad. And I had a BALL! The joy of working with a team and then winning competitions was priceless.

So, did I (unwittingly) push my desires on my children? Would they have preferred to been skate boarders? Or Barbie collectors? Or soloists at church? Do they love cheer because of me, having inherited my love of being excited and positive? Or do they love cheer for me, because they see how much I love watching them cheer?

As parents, where is the line between "proud parent" and "stage mom"?

I will grant you that I have been exposed to many things I would never have even dreamed of because of my children: My son enjoyed fencing (like Zorro and the Three Musketeers!). He is also an avid cartoonist; reading, drawing and watching Yu-Gio, Pokemon, and just about any other kind of Japanese cartoon. My youngest has nerves of steel- throws herself off of things, climbs up too high, thinks nothing of trying new things. And my middle child has a love of foreign language, taking Spanish, French and Chinese simultaneously.

All of those things are "their" things- as much a part of them as their smile or their eye color. So, is cheer leading the same? I admit that if I had a child that loved baseball, I would have a harder time getting excited about it. I would love watching them play because they were my child. But I don't necessarily love baseball.

Cheer leading is fun to me, and thus, fun to watch. It makes it far easier to want to get up off the couch and go sit in a gym for two hours, two times a week, when it's something we all enjoy.

And, to be fair, there have been some things I have pushed them to do because I wanted them to do it. But I promise you, the outcome was not nearly as much fun as cheer leading. Half way through soccer season, my youngest wanted to quit. We said "no" because we had committed to the team. For exactly four Saturdays, we bribed, begged, threatened and pleaded all the way to the soccer field.

I guess I'll quit worrying so much. I'm sure if they have something to say, they'll say it. Goodness knows they've never been much for a loss for words! Especially words like, "Go Team!"

Monday, April 28, 2008

I am NOT Nurse Mommy Barbie Today

Two out of three kids are sick this morning. My maternal instincts are NOT kicking in.

Right now I'm thinking, "I have tons of work to actually do at the office today. I've been out since Thursday with Kid I being sick. We went to the doctor. He has meds. He should be better. They should be at school. I should be at work. The doctor is going to be another $40, and they should have already fixed this. Who knows how much the drugs are going to cost? I HAVE TOO MUCH TO DO TODAY FOR YOU ALL TO BE SICK! Can't you fake it at school until 3:00? No? You don't love me, do you? Ugh!"

The Doctor's appointment is at 10:30. OK, beggars can't be choosers. But, why couldn't it be at 8:00 AM, so I could get them checked, drugged and back to school and salvage part of my day? Or why couldn't it be at 2:30 PM so I could at least scrap the day & go back to bed? Ugh.

The thought that keeps running through my head that makes this whole thing even better is that: a. Both kids have different illnesses, which means they can still share. b. Kid III seems perfectly healthy, and will probably remain that way until exactly 5 minutes after Kid I and Kid II are deemed healthy enough to return to school. Thus, keeping me home at least one extra day with Kid III. AND incurring more doctor fees & med. fees. Ugh.

Where is that maternal instinct that should be kicking in that would make me swoop around in high heels and a starched dress like June Cleaver, administering TLC, Tylenol and warm milk for my ailing babes? Couldn't I at least have the urge to cuddle up on the couch with the kids and watch kids' shows?

Instead, I'm tired, cranky and overwhelmed. Not exactly the picture of motherhood, huh?

Dear hubby escaped this morning after breakfast, blowing a kiss and giving that look of pity that said, "Hey, better you than me." Thanks.

Karma is a funny thing. When I do have the maternal instincts and dote over ill children, they recuperate better and everyone is happy. Since I'm being such a curmudgeon about the whole thing, Karma will ensure that both children are terribly ill and the doctor will be amazed that they were able to live long enough to come into the office. Recovery will be long and painful, and there will be ample whining involved. Ugh...

(Deep Breath)

OK, time to put on my big girl panties, get over myself, get off the computer and go love me some kids. Remember, they are only this age once. And this may be the time that proves priceless, as we discuss important world matters, or at least talk about why Johnny wouldn't sit next to them at the lunch table.

Then we'll go to the doctor, get 'em better & back to school tomorrow.

Tomorrow I'll get to deal with whatever I missed today at work.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Warning: Technology

I got a new cell phone/pda today! I am so excited. Too bad I don't even know how to turn it on.

During dinner it began making noises at me. Finally, I realized it was "ringing". Before I figured out how to pick up the call, it had gone to voice mail. Sadly, I will probably never know who called, or be able to retreive my voice mail if they left one.

My son, on the other hand, had the device in his hands for exactly three minutes before he said, "Cool, mom! You have solitaire!" Really? Huh.

Hubby is diligently trying to get my e-mail to work. E-mail? My other phone could text, but e-mail would be extra cool. Does it charge minutes? No idea.

Supposedly, when I get it going, I can put my calendar on the thing and be (sort of) organized! I'm actally quite excited about what the possibilities are.

What I should probably do, is leave it my son's hands for 24 hours and then have him teach me how to use it.

Simply by purchasing this new device, I feel I've aged at least 10 years, just because I realize how much technology has advanced- without me. I can remember looking at my parents with that same look that my children give me. It's the look that says, "You don't know that??? How do you even start the car in the morning without knowing that particular technological piece of information?"

Of course, I still tend to think of my parents as being in the stone age- even though they can work a computer quite efficiently and they know their way around a cell phone enough to text.

So, I suppose years from now, I will continue to have my children's sad looks when it comes to me and technology. Hopefully, by then I'll at least know how to work my new phone...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Did I Just Say That???

Since having children, there are countless numbers of things I would never in my wildest imagination think I would say. Some, because I swore I wouldn't be like my parents. All, because I had never been a parent. I've tried to collect the more unbelievable (to non-parents, that is) and put them together. Here are my (current) top ten:

10. "For the last time, quit playing with the fire!" (Why does this even have to be said, much less repeated?)

9. "Turn over and let me look to see if you wiped enough to get all the poo off." (Enough said.)

8. "Quit licking the dog." (Ditto.)

7. "If you don't buckle your seat belt right now, I'm going to blow up!" (That just makes them want to watch you blow up. They're thinking, "Cool. Like a balloon!")

6. "Stupid is a bad word for you because you're little. When you're a grown up, it's okay." (Said after being caught using said word in conversation with another adult, and being quizzed about it. Quite the logic, don't you think?)

5. "Quiet, honey. You need to ask those kinds of questions privately. That woman is NOT pregnant/ugly/a man. She's just heavy/having a bad hair day/wearing clothing that doesn't flatter her figure." (As the daggers shoot at us.)

4. "If you eat your vegetables, hair will grow on your chest." (Something my parents said to me to make me laugh and eat the vegetables, but didn't work. I tried it with my kids. Same outcome.)

3. "No, no, honey. Don't eat the candy off of the floor. It's dirty." (GAG)

2. "Did you just wipe your nose on me???" (yes)

1. "Honey, why on earth would you try to flush the cat down the toilet??? (True story. Cat was mad, but fine.)

There are many, many more I could add. And I will probably wake up in the middle of the night somewhere between laughing hysterically and sadly shaking my head remembering them all.

Anyone who is not a parent and does not believe me, simply borrow a small child for 24 hours, and soon you'll find yourself saying, "Because I said so," after patiently trying to explain the 400th "Why?". Or, you might think, "I am SO glad no one else heard that," when you hear yourself say, "Those dimples in my butt are just the way God made me, sweetie. I'm sorry you're sad you don't have them, too."

Children are magical because of their complete and utter unawareness of social faux pas and their unquenchable desire to learn. It's just we adults who sometimes forget that magic and specialness are what makes children so wonderful.

So, next time you hear a parent say, "Oh, honey, quit chewing on your shoe, please," just smile and know that's really only the tip of the iceberg!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fill 'er up

I hate to ask such an obvious question, but WHAT THE $#$%$$% IS UP WITH THE ^&&^%%^ GAS PRICES??????? I mean, we're at $3.50/gallon, for crying out loud! And it's supposed to go UP!

Why is noone having a sit in? Or a march? Or circulating a petition? Or going postal? Why are we all just saying "Oh my, look at that. I guess we just won't eat this week..."

And, since Gas controls just about every aspect of our lives, we are suddenly faced with grocery prices going up, clothing going up, everything going up, up, up!!! And the federal government's sollution is to give us tax money back to "stimulate the economy." Hey, I have an idea- why don't we find another fuel source???? Or tell those stupid oil hogs we won't be bullied by them???

As a mom, when my children are not sharing nicely, I put them in time out and take away privleges. I would think giving food and monetary support to countries with oil would be considered a privlege. And since we're having to make up our short falls in cash because of their oil prices, I think it's perfectly sensible to take those privleges away.

"Oh, but what about the poor, starving children who won't eat?" What about 'em? We're just a couple of dollars a gallon away from being poor, starving children ourselves!

My three kids are dying to fly in a plane. At this point, we can afford one of them to fly one way. While that is not entirely a bad proposition, I think Dept. of Children's Services would frown on that.

The way things are going, I'm truly deeply concerned about Christmas. Santa may only be able to fly half way around the world! If it comes down to it, I hope he skips over those stupid oil hogs!

Our fair city is sprouting up like mint in a garden. We have houses popping up like mushrooms overnight in every vacant square inch. And we have retail establishments and restaurants sprinkled throughout to accomodate said growth in population.

I wonder how long it will be before the market is affected by the stupid oil hogs, and goes belly-up? Certainly, I don't wish that for us, by any stretch of the imagination. But, how long can workers afford the transportation to and from stores and restaurants before we have to pay them more, or they just quit coming? And if they aren't working, how long will it be before the government starts feeling a huge strain on its purse strings to support them?

We sigh, whine, and make budget adjustments. But, really, why should we have to? We are a competitive market. We are one of the leaders in the world economy. We have invented the light bulb, peanut butter and Microsoft. Why can't we come up with a better fuel source???

For now, we watch for a dip in the gas prices and then rush the pumps. Here's hoping tomorrow will be better!

Mommy Madness

I was having a fat day. So, to offset that, I wore cute shoes, on which I received several compliments. I don't know if the shoes really camouflaged the tummy pooch. But at least my shoes were cute.

I've heard that whatever you want- a position, a certain dress size, to be happy, etc.- if you act that way, you'll get that way. I've been trying to act rich and like I have the metabolism of a 20 year old pregnant girl. So far, all I've gotten is cute shoes & fat.

Tonight I'm supposed to be having family night with my hubby & kids. Kid I ran away to a sleep over. Kid II is playing with friend across the street. Kid III is playing with friend next door. And, hubby is cutting grass. I am alone at my own party. But, at least I'm the coolest person here!

I wanted to go to dinner, but several High Schools are having prom tonight. So the likelihood of finding a table at any decent restaurant is pretty slim. I'm sure hubby will figure something out so as not to have to resort to my cooking. It really irks him when I make a mess in the kitchen. So I've been given free reign on making sandwiches or cereal. Casseroles or any involved main course have been banned. Which, really, is fine with me.

Since I usually am very social, sometimes it is nice to not have any noise or people pulling on me. But tonight, it feels rather isolating. I think, "Wow, ok. I could clean. I could knit. I could read. I could exercise. I could leave and go shop. I could craft. But what I really am craving is social interaction..." Why do we always want what we can't have??? If I wanted a quiet evening at home, we would be combing the city for some elusive item dear hubby was in search of, or at a dinner party with bad food.

So, for now, the dog and I sit as I type and listen to the weedeater outside. Anxious for change, yet unwilling to get up and do something about it.

Such is the Friday night of a mom who has been alone with three children all week long- running, barely having time to eat or bathe. Now that I have silence, it just seems too loud...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

At Your Service

So I'm supposed to be a) mowing the grass or b) painting my son's room or c) cleaning the house. I have chosen d) none of the above.

I have the most horrible time with motivation. I can look around and see everything that needs to be done- and just not care. Well, that's not true. I love how my house looks and feels when it's clean and neat. But I just don't like being the one to clean it.

Sometimes I feel like I was actually destined to be royalty- or at least, very, very rich. I really need a full time maid, a full time cook, a personal assistant, a personal trainer and a chauffeur. (OK- I'd just settle for for a part time maid.)

I want someone to do dishes & laundry. Then I want to work from the corners in to clean baseboards, floors and fixtures.

My hubby says my "problem" is that I have inherited a gene that causes me to stack. I'd have to say he's kinda right. Papers, mail, boxes, books- all get stacked (neatly) on the kitchen counter, the bed in the spare bedroom, the office, the dining room, etc. I know exactly where everything is- until dear hubby "helps" by "cleaning". Suddenly, my stacks are shoved under and into things- leaving the space cleaner, but valuable information missing.

My dream would be to have someone follow me around and pick up and clean up after me all the time... Wait, that sounds familiar... Oh, yeah, It sounds like a mom... Oh, that's ME.

Oh, well. I guess I'll go back to my list above. I'll start with A and go from there... Maybe I'll get a maid for Mother's Day (hint, hint...). And maybe, hopefully, I'll even get some motivation...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Book stores, card stores, office supply stores and craft stores: what do they have in common? I am profoundly and utterly helpless in them. I wander around looking, smelling, listening and- most of all- touching.

Book stores feel so good with the whoosh of the heat/air system keeping the store at the exactly right temperature. The smell of the ink and the paper assaults the nose as you meander down aisles, looking at the colors, the titles, the book covers. Then, you pick up a book. The cover feels glossy and slick or matte and soft. Sometimes book covers have texture. The pages can be slick or cottony. The ideas from a thousand different books swirl around and make me want to take them all home.

Card stores usually have other gift items in them, so they smell like potpourri or candles. You wander through the aisles, looking at the titles of the sections: Birthday, For Him, For Her, etc. I love the humorous cards. I laugh out loud when I pick them up to look them over. I much prefer going to a card store with someone else. Because, truthfully, cards are twice as funny when they are shared. I've even been known to call a friend to read them a couple of cards that were too funny not to share!

Office Supply stores actually make my pulse quicken. So many gadgets & gizmos. So many paper choices and electronic equipment. Who knew there were that many ink pens from which to choose? Three ring binders come in at least 500 varieties, including different sizes, shapes & colors. And there are even three-hole punches and power staplers and daytimers and calendars! It's like playing school for adults. It must be what my sister-in-law (who LOVES to cook & who is EXCELLENT at it!) feels like when she goes through a bake-wear aisle.

Craft Stores. Wow. I don't know where to begin... For me, they are like the Mother of All Stores. Fabric. Ribbon. Yarn. Beads. Paint. Stamps. Paper. Oils. Patterns. And all the tools, needles, scissors, brushes, gadgets & gizmos to make whatever kind of project you want. I love the touch of all the fabrics, the vibrant colors, the muted hues. Scents mix together from fabric dye, candles and the silk plants. A million crafts come together in my mind in a rush of images. I go in for one item, but something else catches my eye. Suddenly the initial project is put to the side and a whole new idea has blossomed. Inspiration oozes from every item on the shelf. I am quite the craft store connoisseur. But I'm not a snob. The craft department in Wal-Mart will do fine in a pinch. Heck, the office supply department in Krogers has inspired some interesting items in my basket, making my husband shake his head.

I don't know what it says about me that I get that way over these kinds of stores. Most women glaze over in the shoe department or in Ann Taylor Loft. I've always liked stores that didn't require floor to ceiling mirrors. I don't get caught up in me- I get excited by the gifts I can create.

Now, there have definitely been some moments that were nothing short of religious experiences in a clothing store for me. And I have been known to revel in shopping at the grocery store if it is a solitary experience, unflanked by little hands grabbing at cookies and pop tarts. And I definitely have a weakness for the make up and fragrance sections of any department store!

But books, cards, papers & crafts are my Achilles Heel. We joke that my husband has JoAnn's on alert to call him whenever I walk through the door, so he can talk me down off of my craft-induced high, sure to cost a boat load!

If someone ever put all of those things together, I'd be toast. Oh, wait, there is a store that does that in an aesthetically pleasing way: Target. If you don't believe me, check it for yourself. If that doesn't convince you, check my checkbook ledger and see how many times Target is NOT listed- you won't find many...

Suffice to say, my trip to Barnes & Noble just this evening was enough to put a dent in the rest of the week's budget. Tomorrow, I'll have to pick up milk. So, I'll go by Target- and look around a bit while I'm there. If I'm really feeling like a "bad" girl, I may convince Jill to meet me at Hobby Lobby, and then I'll stop by Staples on the way home.

Ahhhh... the excitement never ends...

Magic Pill...

I want a magic pill...

And not just some silly diet pill that "curbs my appetite." -- It's not my appetite I want changed! It's my metabolism!

I want a magic pill that makes me process food like a nuclear Kitchen Aide. I want to be one of those women who say, " I just eat and eat, but I just can't seem to gain weight..." I want to eat my own body weight (that would be a slim, yet curvaceous 110-ish pounds) in anything I want. I want to eat pasta & ice cream after 6:00 PM and not gain 6 pounds for doing it! I want the LOADED baked potato at lunch and I want a WHOLE donut with my breakfast.

But mostly, I want to quit counting, quit budgeting, quit compromising. I just want to enjoy food for what it is- instead of continually searching for the "negative calorie" foods, or determining how many "points" are in 14 grapes, or locating the "glycemic index" of steamed broccoli.

I want to be obsessed over which bathing suit shows off my tan best- not which sandwich has more "fat grams". I want to enjoy moving my body in play and dance- not "exercising" to counter the cookies I ate.

Sometimes I wonder how far I am away from being a Medical Channel story with some chipper English voice-over saying, "The subject has not left her house for over four years- two of which she has been confined to her bed, unable to roll her enormous body over, without assistance."

Then I remember, oh yeah, I'm a mom. There's a "fat" chance I will EVER stay in my own house for an entire day- let alone my own room- unless I'm sick, dying or both.

Plus, my husband would eventually get to a point where he said something like, "Honey, that dress doesn't make your butt look big. Your butt makes your butt look big." (or something equally sensitive & compassionate.)

So, while I (hopefully) will never make "prime time" (or even "cable") on the Medical Channel, I still worry over calories in/calories out. And I (along with countless others) would love to just STOP! Just take a little pink or blue or purple pill, and have weight just melt away like butter too close to a hot stove.

Scientists may be working on it, but to my knowledge, are nowhere close to the strength I am looking for. So for now, I must at least attempt to retain my current wardrobe- instead of letting my "fat clothes" get small.

Maybe someday I'll shop for a wardrobe with a smaller number in the tag. But for now, I'll just cut out the tags of the clothes that fit, watch the food intake, try to jump around and shake off the excess sometimes, and pray modern science comes through for us all.

I mean, they have drugs to help alleviate allergy symptoms, fight off pain, decrease fever, help us sleep, help us stay awake, keep us happy, calm us down, keep our sugar regulated, help us have babies, help us not have babies, increase our heart rate, decrease out blood pressure or cholesterol, etc., etc., etc. They even have pills to help someone GAIN weight!!!!

Surely, my magic weight loss pill is just around the corner! I'll even be a tester for it! Listen, I have no problems being thin "un-naturally". I just want to look good in an outfit that doesn't require elastic! And I want to eat chocolate without shame or apology!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jimmy Buffet Groupie...

When we lived in Cleveland, Ohio, my theme song was "Boat Drinks" by Jimmy Buffet. The lyrics included such gems as, "This morning, I shot six holes in my freezer. I think I've got cabin fever..." And, "I've got to go where it's WARM!"

Today, our weather here in Tennessee was incredibly mild. The sun was out. The temperature was in the 70's. And there was a breeze that carried new spring flower petals across my window frame.

By all accounts, it was a picture-perfect day.

Except, that I should be in Mexico.

For the last three years, hubby and I have gone with work to Mexico- via plane or cruise ship. Either way, it was GORGEOUS (see actual photo taken at last trip above).

I loved the beach, the breeze, the sun, the margaritas, the lack of pressure... It was a true vacation in almost every sense of the word. (I say "almost" because the kids did not get to come with us; this made the vacation both better and worse for the exact same reason.)

Last year, I was agonizing over bathing suits and how many times to go to the tanning bed so as not to fry my "delicate" (read: pale, white) skin. This year I'm looking back at pictures of said bathing suit (with a little tan...) and wishing I had somewhere to wear it.

I'll grant you: Their Diet Coke tastes like Diet Pepsi (ick). Their unfiltered water has actual animals living in it. Many locals speak little or no English. There is little to no phone service (without a huge price) back to the states. And converting the US Dollar to Pesos requires math (hello? vacation????).

Despite those (and some other) obvious flaws, Mexico is full of tropical, rustic charm. I would never drink the water, or eat something that hasn't been boiled, cooked or fried (Montozuma's Revenge is not a good companion for vacation!). But I LOVE haggling with the locals for tourist souveniers. And the resorts in which we stay boast some pretty yummy margaritas, mojitos and daquiris. One resort actually had peacocks walking around and looking gorgeous. Quite exotic!

But, today, I sit in my living room- not on a plane with sunglasses, a passport and a jack and diet coke.
I love my family. I love my children. But, a girl can still dream, can't she?...

...And in my dream, I'm in Mexico, listening to Jimmy Buffet and the ocean waves, drinking a raspberry frozen margarita (with umbrella/sans salt) and basking in the tropical sun...

Here's to Single Moms Everywhere...

When I started this blog, it was with the intention of writing every single day. Then my husband started to to travel-- a lot!

Suddenly, I went from having two (somewhat) responsible adults in the house to just me. With three kids under 12. And I work.

I have become a single parent (for all practical purposes). I may have mentioned that I am not the tidiest housekeeper, but now I'm in charge of indoors & out. (Thank goodness for riding lawn mowers!)

The kids have helped pick up the slack some. My son is a professional dishwasher loader & "unloader" now. My middle daughter helps cook and work in the kitchen. And my youngest daughter is the dog keeper. They all put away their own laundry and keep the bonus room (relatively) clean.

Now, I won't say that everything is in perfect order. That would not hold true even if my hubby was home all the time. But I will say that the kids are doing their best- and their best is pretty darn good, as far as I'm concerned.

I do get tired of being the sheriff who has to lay down the law & be a big meanie. Then hubby comes home and all bets are off: the kids stay up late; they eat whatever they want; and hubby buys them stuff. So, daddy is "good guy" and mommy is... well, mommy is still the person they want if they have a cut or a bad dream. Mommy is the person who gets questions like: "Why does God let people die?" and "How do I know if I'm hitting puberty?" I think that has as much to do with accessibility as the fact that they know I'll tell them the truth (to their age appropriate level).

Being full time mommy/daddy/maid/cook/driver/employee/committee chair/etc. means I have very little time. (Today I actually had to tell a fellow committee member to let the committee know I would be two minutes late because I had to pee- because I hadn't for six hours.)

Unfortunately, because of my lack of time, one of the things I've had to forgo was my blogging on any kind of regular basis. That's not to say I haven't had anything to talk about. I've had GOBS of prime blogging material streaming through my consciousness- but no time to post. I thought about jotting notes on paper- to be entered later. Now I have a stack of paper with scribbles and random thoughts and no more entries than when I began.

So, as with all of life, I'm "picking my battles", "prioritizing my schedule" and "trying to create extra pockets of time in my day" by "multi-tasking". I'm "holding down the fort", "keeping things at status quo" and "minding shop" while hubby is out. And I'm trying to "make lemonade out of lemons" and keep the proverbial family boat afloat.

If you don't see any posts for several days, don't be surprised. BUT- if you don't see any posts for several weeks- dispatch 911 to my house immediately: I've either been tied up by the kids, I've run away, or I'm heavily sedated in a soft, quiet, white, padded room...

In the meantime, cheers to single moms everywhere! May you have rest and peace (without having to die to get it!).

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Energy of a Child

How many times have I thought, "I wish I could have that much energy. I would bottle it and sell it for millions!" when I looked at my young three children whirling around in action?

I've always been a little jealous of their ability to bounce off the walls until the wee hours of the morning, and then wake up again when their little internal clocks wake them. Of course, they are grumpy as all get out, but they are still young enough to listen to their body without question.

They quit eating when they are full. Mine aren't even tempted by french fries are chocolate, a fact I almost find unnatural.

They say what's on their minds- no fear of rejection or social stigma or even political correctness (If you don't believe me, ask the woman in aisle 5 in Krogers who heard "Mommy, is that lady going to have a baby, or is she just fat?").

They run and exercise for fun. They have no limit on their imaginations. (For a long time, I was concerned that TV was thwarting their creativity. Now, I believe, in the correct doses, TV actually inspires their creativity, giving them a base to start their own adventures.)

And when they are tired, they sleep.Now, mind you, it is not just a small cat nap, dozing in and out, waiting for the alarm to ring kind of sleep (like we, adults, often have from about 4:00 AM until we're supposed to get up). It is a full-fledged, snoring, flopped over like a rag doll sleep. And they sleep wherever they are. I've actually had my small ones fall asleep in the middle of a party (where cake was involved! that's just criminal!). And they actually get rested...So they can whirl around the next day!

Now, as an addendum to this little rampage about the advantages of being small (to which, I would have to add that they have no concept of poor or rich, no responsibilities of bills or meetings, and no worries as to the roof over their head, the food on their plate or the clothes on their back), I must say I think they really miss out in one department: naps.I have never met a child who enjoyed naps! They are almost veiwed as punishment to the extreme!

Mine have hidden toys and books under the covers, while flashing me the most angelic smile. Then later, I would hear Barbie having a tea party, or the Army marching across the bedroom. And when caught, the children are embarassed, and then defensive.

Whereas, I must say, naps are such a luxury. To be able to take a moment from my day and close my eyes, closing out the world, and just listen to the sound of my own breath, is so relaxing.

I like the idea of having a mandatory late afternoon nap nation-wide. Can you imagine how much more relaxed as a culture we would be? And I'm sure that we could find a way to make money off of it: special clothing, special bedding, special relaxing teas, etc. (which is the American way...)

I don't quite see it being a hot topic for the next ballet, but it's still a nice thought.

Until then, I'll continue to try to come up with ways to bottle the energy of my kids...

The Rich Woman

Once upon a time a very wise, stooped, older woman found an old lamp. She rubbed it, and a cloud of smoke appeared. As the cloud cleared, a beautiful genie was left bowing low in front of her.

"Madam, you have released me from my prison. I am in your debt. To show you my gratitude, I shall grant you three wishes."

The woman's tired eyes lit up and a smile began to spread across her wrinkled, weathered face.

"Before you wish, though, I must tell you: I can not grant wishes to give love, health or time."

The woman's face fell. "Young lady, what else is left to wish for?"

How blessed are we to have the gifts of love, health and time. No amount of money can purchase these commodities. But sometimes, even when we are quite rich with them, we can feel rather poor.

How many times have we wished for more and bigger? Yet, without love, health and time, more and bigger seem foolish and wasted.

I've seen a shirt that read: "Whoever said money can't buy happiness obviously didn't know where to shop."

Of course, I smiled and thought, "I certainly wouldn't mind trying to buy happiness..." But I know that it would be a hollow happiness- not the deep contentedness that we all seek.

Without someone to share with, without the ability to be free from pain, and without time to spend with the ones we love, we are truly poor. How ironic, then, that we spend so much of our time away from the ones we love, pushing our bodies beyond their limits & not caring for them properly, while trying to obtain more "things" for ourselves/our loved ones.

What a blessing to be able to look at the glass as half full, instead of comparing with others and feeling our glass is half empty and not the right color, size, shape, etc.

I am trying to practice counting my blessings instead of naming my shortfalls. Hopefully, I will never be the old lady, saddened by what she can't wish for. Instead, I would like to be the old lady for whom everyone says, "Wow, she lived a full, rich, loved life."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bleeding Ears...

When I was growing up, my brother and I fought as easily as breathe. My mother would rationalize with us, plead with us, make ultimatums, and finally get mad. We knew we had crossed the line when she would announce: "You all are making my ears bleed!"

We thought this was humorous. We would giggle, and it would definitely lighten the mood.

She would also complain about "bleeding ears" when we had our music too loud, when we were young and just would-not-stop-talking or when the cacophony of various teen aged noises reached glass-shattering levels. We, knowing everything as all teenagers do, chalked it up to her just being "old". Especially since mom managed to totally miss repeated requests for cash, sleep overs and car keys.

Little did I know that "bleeding ears" was an inherited gene that I would also get- in spades. Just today I was listening to mommy's little angels going back and forth with "Stop it." "No, you stop it." "You started it." "No, you started it." "No, you did... MOOOOOOMMMM."

I breathed deeply and began by trying to avert their attention: "Hey, guys, what should we have for dinner?"

"Pizza." "No, I don't want pizza. I want tacos." "I don't want tacos, I want pizza." "Mom, she always gets her way. I want tacos..."

I breathed deeply and tried again: "OK, please stop. Let's just listen to the music, okay?"

"Mom, can you turn on the CD?" "No, I want to listen to the radio." "I don't want to listen to the radio. MOOOOMMMM..."

Now, "PTA Mommy" has left the building: "You all STOP! Let's just get home and then we'll decide about dinner."

"Mom, I really wanted pizza." "But I want tacos." "But I want pizza." "You always get your way. I want tacos..."

Suddenly, I turn into my mother: "YOU ALL ARE MAKING MY EARS BLEED!!!!! STOP IT!!!!!"

First, the shock registers on their faces. Then the giggles erupt. Finally- smiles. And just a little glimpse of peace in the car... for now...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Run, Forest, Run...

Our school sponsored a 5K and 1 mile Fun Run today. All of my children chose to participate. I told them I would stay behind and help with administrative stuff (read: no way I was running!).

My son, whose previous running experience included exactly the length of one soccer field before saying "I'm tired", decided to sign up for the 5k. He ran the whole thing. I was actually quite proud of his persistance. My husband and I had doubts that he would complete it. Dear hubby even had car keys at the ready to rescue said boy. But he prevailed and crossed the finish line. He huffed, puffed and turned bright red. I rather expected him to be layed out across the front lawn of the school. But he held it together- if not for anything else than the fact that his friends had run the same race and were all ready ready to go run somewhere else.

My middle child ran the 5k, and actually beat my son (did not go over well with son). She came in 5th for her age division. Quite proud were her father and I. She was actually the first little girl to cross the finish line who didn't have on professional running pants and shirts. I don't really think she had on "regulation" tennis shoes. But that didn't stop her from trying & doing well!

Youngest daughter signed up for the 1 mile run. I am quite convinced she could have run the 5K without blinking. She managed to rope dear hubby into going along with her. He said she literally ran circles around him. She would have come in first all around in the 1 mile, except she said "I didn't want to win without you, daddy." (ouch)

Husband said he found the police escort on the first turn and offered them $20 bucks if he could climb in the back of the cruiser and have them drop him off a little ways before the finish line. They wouldn't go for it. So hubby hobbled the whole mile and has groaned nearly non-stop since.

Even a friend who served as one of our route officials came across the finish line before hubby. Not a good sign. But he made it- with daughter skipping across beside him.

The race, thanks mostly to our fabulous coordinator, went without a hitch. Ev eryone is eager for the next one. Even my kids are planning and strategizing how to train to get ready for next year. Who knows, maybe I'll even join them... Well, probably not. But it sounded like a nice gesture, didn't it?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Not Necessarily the Views of this Radio Station...

Let me begin by saying: I am not a degreed minister, nor do I have some sort of "holy" credentials that give me the ability to read the mind of God. I am simply sharing my beliefs and my suppositions. Now that we have that out of the way...

I think Adam and Eve must have been around 15 or 16 when they were kicked out of the Garden.

Let's back up: I fully believe that God created us in His image and that He gave us our family structure to expalin our relationship with Him. That's why we call Him "Father" and why He calls us His "Children".

So, I figure Adam and Eve were created as (figurative) "children". They trusted God. They loved playing in the Garden. They loved playing with the animals and marveling over creation. They delighted in riding ponies, elephants and camels. They challenged each other to see who could be the better impersonator of chickens, monkeys and who could howl like a wolf. They swam the oceans and streams and climbed trees and were happy.

Then Adam and Eve became teenagers and hit puberty. Adam started strutting around the Garden, challenging the lion to fights and being moody. Eve started looking around at the other animals and comparing herself to them.

God and the kids started having conversations much like we have with teenagers today:

EVE: "Dad, I'm BORED!!!"

GOD: "Go swim or put flowers in your hair, honey."

EVE: "(Raspberry) I did that already. I want to do something NEW."

ADAM: "Hey, Dad, can't this horse go any FASTER??? I want to go faster than the Cheeta and fly. How come I can't fly?

GOD: "Adam, you can go just as fast as you need to. And I didn't make you to fly."

EVE: "Hey, Dad, how come the monkeys can eat the apples and we can't? It's not fair."

GOD: "If all the animals jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?"

EVE: "No, DUH! But, I want an apple! Just one???"

ADAM: "Yeah, Dad, I'll bet apples make me go faster and You just don't want me to be happy. You just don't get me."

EVE: "Yeah. You've never been a teenager before. (Heavy Sigh)."

So, as you see, the serpent didn't have a lot of work cut out for him to persuade these "people" to want more than they had. And poor God was probably at His wit's end just trying to get them to keep the Garden clean.

Fortunately, mankind does get a happy ending- through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. Thank goodness God loves us!

And, having been a teenager once myself, thank goodness my parents love me! And, as the circle goes on, I will love my children, even as they progress to their apple-eating stage. And I will celebrate with them as they come out the other side- more world-wise, but more respectful for it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Knitting Makes Me Happy

Today I have been extra distracted because I have a new knitting project. I know that may not sound like great fun to some people. But to me, it is how I relax.

Some people exercise (a habit I wish I could aquire). Some people eat (a habit I am trying to break by knitting). Some people shop (can't afford it). Some people clean (don't want to). I like to craft. And my favorite relaxation craft at the moment is knitting.

There is something therapeutic in weaving the yarn into something beautiful. The needles get into a rhythm and I feel my shoulders relax. The yarn has color and texture, vibrant yet soft. It moves across my hands and my fingers as I knit and purl.

It does require some thought: in particular, counting. But even that has its own rhythm that makes my breathing deepen and my pulse slow.

But when I'm done, instead of having to take a shower, wish I hadn't eaten so much, hide bags from my husband or smell like Clorox, I have a beautiful creation. They are wonderful gifts or mementos for myself.

But, for now, I must go and begin my new project, so I can drift off peacefully to sleep when I'm done.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Joy in the Every Day

The other day my six year old said something that absolutely amazed me. She said, "Mommy, when someone goes up in space and they are up there for a while, how do they get back home, if the earth is always turning around the sun?"


All of my children have said amazing things over the course of their lifetimes that makes me think, "Wow! My kid is amazing!"

That's not to say they haven't said things that were erqually frustrating.

When I told the same six year old that she would need to rinse her hair after washing it, she looked up at me and said, "Duh!" I wanted to pinch her nose off. But instead, I just smiled and said, "Let me know if I can help."

I love watching them learn and grow. Seeing their papers come home from school, each day a new progression, is so much fun! My six year old was actually reading in church today. I never thought that day would come!

It's hard watching them make mistakes. Sometimes it's a choice they make regarding behavior; sometimes is a friend they choose or don't choose. But I know each lesson helps them as they journey through their life.

I hope they never lose their desire to learn new things. I hope they continue to grow and I hope they are always blessed and grateful and full of joy and hope.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Politically Un-Correct

I have just got to get something off of my chest. I am sick & tired of being "politically correct". This has been coming for a looooong time. But it really came to a head when I started hearing about this man in Oregon who is pregnant (because he's not really a "man"- he's a woman who wanted to be a man, but kept his/her reproductive organs implicitly to have a baby).

I was disturbed by this enough until, low and behold, Oprah practically threw them a baby shower on tv. Apparently, she is now not only one of the richest women in the world, a famous talk show host, and a savvy business woman. She has also swooped up the honor of getting to be this country's moral compass. "Well, Oprah said..." is how so many people today begin a sentence they are wanting to give credentials to.

Well, I'm hear to tell you: I'm tired of EVERYTHING being OK!!! And I'm tired of being judged for thinking that. And I'm tired of feeling like I need to "tread lightly" around "sensitive" subjects for fear of hurting someone's feelings, when really, THEY should be concerned and ashamed of their actions.

"It's not his fault he killed all those people and ate their eye balls; He was abused as a child." "He can't help that he raped that little girl and chopped her up in pieces; He was raped by his uncle." "We really shouldn't judge him for being a woman who got surgery to be a man but then got pregnant with his remaining female parts; We should marvel at the couple's marriage and love for each other and this baby."

Well, I'm here to say: People are responsible for themselves and their own actions.

If you kill someone, insanity is not a defense; it is a given. No one in the public sector kills for any other purpose than having at least a moment of insanity.

I'm all about "live & let live"- and if you want to fall in love with a man, woman or house plant, I really don't care. But you should not involve children with your lifestyle or preference or whatever it is.

This country was founded by people who didn't agree with what was going on in the world, so they left to find a better place. Then we had a tea party to renounce our allegiance with the old world with whom we did not agree. Then we even fought each other because we knew that making others do our bidding in the form of slavery was inhumane.

Since then, we have moved forward and made so many strides: medicine and technology has enabled us to save lives and have our quality of life be better than ever. Our ability to communicate makes the world smaller every day.

However, in our zest to accommodate everyone and "accept" all people, we have swung way too far in the wrong direction. Your "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is great- so long as it doesn't impede on my rights.

I'm frustrated with the ACLU who looks for reasons to sue people and companies who are not a minority. Why is it OK to have special government loans for minorities like African Americans or even women, but white, middle class men have a better shot at getting hit by a bus?

I'm tired of having to look around and whisper when I want to discipline my child in public for fear of it being misinterpreted as "abuse". Why can a crack addict have a premature, crack-addicted baby, cost the public tons of money, not even prove they are "clean", but be able to take home the baby. But when a loving, capable couple want to adopt said baby, they are denied, because of the "birth" parent's rights.

I hate that I pay for prisoners to watch cable television and have gyms when there are people in our town who can't afford the YMCA. Why does a prisoner get a roof over their heads & three square meals & free education & conjugal visits (for goodness sakes!) without having to work or shed one drop of sweat??? Why can't they have self-contained prisons, where they have to grow their own food & make their own clothes? Since when is it cruel & unusual punishment to have to work???? I have to work! Does that mean I can sue the government for impeding on my civil liberties?

There are sooooo many things that just do NOT make sense to me!!!! And the thing that scares me the most is that I have seen the candidates that have been presented to us that are supposed to lead our country forward in history. I don't have faith in any of them to help the country make moral decisions.

But I guess that's how the government was founded: It is not up to any politician, entertainer, newscaster, or any other entity to tell us what is "right" and what is "wrong". It is up to us to govern ourselves in these matters.

So, when we watch the television, look at the Internet, read the papers, or even talk to one another, it is up to us to discern and decide. We need ask the hard questions and talk with people we respect and admire and, I'm going to say it, PRAY! That's where the best discernment of all comes!

So, I hope you will not feel obligated to be silent if you disagree with the craziness of the world. Stand with me, speak your piece, and may God bless us all!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Say What?

You know when you're waiting in the school car rider line, and you are just staring blankly out the window with the heater blowing at full blast, reveling in the last few minutes of peace you'll have for about 14 hours? Today I was pondering the important questions of the universe, and I started wondering about accents. Like the accents from how we talk. Like Northern versus Southern accents.

I was born and raised in the south. And I spent most of the first half of my life trying not to sound like it. When I got married and my dear husband drug me to the "great white north" no matter how hard I tried, every single person in Cleveland, Ohio, would say, "Are you from the south?" (Which, upon confirmation, was followed by, "But, you are wearing shoes..." NO COMMENT.)

Then when we finally got back south of the Mason-Dixon border, everyone I spoke to would say, "Wow, you really picked up a northern accent up there." Despite the fact that in my early years the idea of sounding "northern" was exactly what I was striving for, I still kind of ruffled when friends and family from home thought I didn't sound like "me" anymore.

Today, I've relaxed my standards quite a bit. But I still cencor my children when they try to say "Meeeeendeeeee" instead of "Mindy" (as my father did to me). But "ya'll" is officially part of my vocabulary, and it is interchanged regularly with "you guys" (heard through the nose).

Now that I'm older and have more of an expanded world-view, I wonder if other languages experience the same kinds of distinctions in accent. I know in "My Fair Lady", the professor spent the entire play trying to get Eliza to sound like a "lady". But I can't really imagine the French being able to be internally snobby; they put so much effort into being rude to everyone else...

Does Russia have accent barriers? Do they consider some accents to be smart, and others to be backwards & uncultured? What about Iraq? Do they have slang words indicative to a particular region that sound stupid anywhere else? Are there assumptions made about the people who live in Northern Australia versus Southern Australia?

You know, I guess it's human nature to try and make ourselves feel better by pointing out others' differences in a derogatory way. But sometimes, we really show our own ignorance by buying into stereo types and assumptions. So I promise not to believe Northerners all drink too much beer and are rude, if you promise not to think Southerners stay barefoot and pregnant. But I can't promise "ya'll" I'll wear shoes this summer...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happy Home

I think it's normal to compare yourself to other people- just to get an idea how you are doing in general. We compare ourselves to others' homes, appearance, money, jobs, children, cars, "toys," clothes, jewelry, music, who we know, what we know, friends, clubs, extra curricular activities, spouses, religions, politics, etc. So I don't feel too out of line by saying that I have compared my marraige to that of friends, relatives and aquaintances.

By most comparisons, I would say my marraige is strong and healthy. I feel confident that I can say that the biggest reason for this is that my husband and I are best friends, and we treat each other as such.

You don't expect your best friend to read your mind- you tell them what you want/need. You don't punish your friend for what they should have done or didn't do- you forgive them and move on. You respect your best friend, and treat them accordingly.

We were required to go through pre-marital counseling for our minister to perform the ceremony. One of the most valuable tools given to us during these sessions were the statements "I feel.." and "What I hear you say is..."

When you say "I feel..." it is not a blame, like when you say "You did this or that." It is the ability to accept responsibility in a situation and the willingness to try to resolve the issue. For example, I might say, "When you don't get home when you say you are going to be home, I FEEL like you don't value our family time together."

When you say, "What I hear you say is..." it is showing the other person you are listening and you "get" what they are saying. For example, he might say, "WHAT I HEAR YOU SAY is that you feel my being late is a reflection on how I regard our family time."

When we have discussions, past discussions are off limits, because they should have already been resolved. Also, we don't name call (would you do that to your best friend?). ABSOLUTELY NO physical arguments (should go without saying). And, very importantly, we both go into it with the desire to come to an agreement- instead of just being "right".

That's not to say we haven't had some very heated discussions. It's not to say we haven't had rough spots in our marraige. But like any strong friendship, we value each other and choose to continue to be together. And we put aside our pride and our selfishness in order to do that.

Women are always complaining that their husbands don't talk to them. And men are always saying their wives talk too much. But the problem is, they aren't talking to each other, they are talking at each other. And not listening near enough!

There has to be a desire to be together and to continue to find things in common- just like there is with a best friend. To me and my family, that is what helps make a happy home.

You may not be able to get facials with your husband, or get your nails done. He may not want to suffer through a shopping trip. And you may not want to talk for hours on end with him about the playoffs. But there were things that attracted you in the beginning. There was a reason you wanted to be together. Look for those things again.

And remember, if you wouldn't say it to your best friend, you shouldn't say it to your spouse. If you would give your best friend the benefit of the doubt, you should do the same for your husband.

Fairytales are the opposite of real life. In the fairytale, the prince and princess have to work & fight to be together. Then they live happily ever after. In real life, we usually have no problem "falling in love". But we have to really work to live "ever after." And you really have to plan on "fighting" for happiness!

May your homes be happy & your lives be full of joy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Crafty Mama

My husband has a thing for cars. He and I can be in mid-conversation while going down the road, and he'll take in a sharp breath and begin to salivate when he sees a BMW or upper scale Lexus.

He knows their model numbers, how fast they drive and how much they cost. He assures me this should not concern me. However, I'm smart enough to realize that an innocent enough hobby can quickly turn into a costly obsession.

Take my craft "hobby" (aka: obsession). When I go into Joanne's, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, or even the craft and fabric section of Wal-Mart, my pulse quickens, I get a little light-headed, and I begin crafting all sorts of projects in my head.

I have tried numerous times to turn this love affair into a full-time job. I can make it through exactly one season of local craft shows before I realize I am better suited to coordinate a craft show than be a vendor.

My problem is, I love crafting for the sake of crafting. I love being creative. I love the learning process of perfecting a craft or learning a new one.

The monotony of having to make the same thing over and over again is depressing. But I can always convince myself that "THIS craft is different!" So, I have accumulated more craft supplies than any one person should ever have. I could effectively open a craft store and/or make enough crafts to fill an entire craft fair.

I've gotten better about considering my crafting a "hobby" instead of a "career" as I've gotten older. Well- at least I've gotten smarter at recognizing when my OCD starts kicking in.

I don't know that I will ever stop wanting my crafting to be my "job" because I love sharing my creations. So, I'll continue my crafting quest. For example, check out for my soy lotion candles. I LOVE these things!

And, my husband will continue his love affair with cars. I just hope he remembers how much more expensive his hobby is than mine- or else my hobby budget will be severely compromised!