Thursday, July 31, 2008


The two girls came home from cheer tonight exuberant. Amy had gotten the "Cheer Bear."
The "Cheer Bear" is a stuffed animal that is given to the girl on the squad who shows the most spirit that night. She takes home the bear, plays with it & adds "something" to it. It could be a necklace, a pair of sunglasses, etc. Amy gets to keep the bear until Monday at cheer, when it will be passed along.

Emma had gotten the "Cheer Bear" for her squad a while ago, added her "bling" and passed it on. She had been awarded for her ability to memorize a move before anyone else. She absolutely glowed with excitement.

We were sitting at the dinner table talking about the "Cheer Bear" for both girls when Amy announced, she was supposed to have a "Sports Bra." Huh??? She's six years old. She's on the "Mini's Team," for heaven's sake. What on earth do we need sports bras for?

Keith absolutely blanched at the word, much to Amy's amusement. Throughout the remainder of dinner, she would randomly mouth, "Sports Bra," to Keith, just to watch his reaction.

When I realized what she was doing, of course I made her stop. Keith was still aggravated, but relieved. I, on the other hand, was still deeply concerned about why a six-year-old needs a sports bra.

I began investigating at the gym. I was told that it was for modesty- so that if their shirts came up, they would still be covered. I questioned what a six-year-old would need to cover. They said it was just the practice of the gym.

I can see their side. We have men (and women) coaches working with the girls. It is nice that the gym would take precautionary measures to safe-guard the girls and the coaches.

However, I am all of the sudden thrown into a conversation I was so not prepared for yet. Now we're talking about the different bra styles, and why the girls don't need an under wire.

I don't even know where to purchase a sport's bra for a six-year-old- and quite frankly, I don't want to know. I'm certain I could probably get them at Limited 2, since the last time I checked they also sold thong underwear in her size (which I did NOT get!!!- and we haven't been back!!!). Or maybe one of the sporting good stores?

Why can't they just wear a snug camisole unless they "need" a bra? What's next? Will I have to shave their legs for competition?

Why is everyone in such a hurry to grow up??? My kids are over-the-moon over getting to hold on to a stuffed animal (the "Cheer Bear") for a weekend. How did we make the jump to bras?

I guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend: Emma, Amy, the "Cheer Bear" and I will be bra shopping. (That just sounds so wrong.) Maybe I'll find another solution that will provide modesty, but is a little longer than a bra- like a half camisole or something... Ugh...

How do you get a sports bra that matches the uniform, socks, shoes and hair bow? I guess I'll find out this weekend...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Home Again

Hubby dearest came home tonight. I love him dearly, but I have become rather accustomed to not sharing the remote, setting my own bed-time, not having anyone talk to me when I'm working on the computer and not having anyone snore in my ear all night.

He did mow the yard, which was on my schedule for tomorrow morning. So I was very appreciative of that.

But now I have one more person asking, "What do we have to eat? Eww. Is that all?"

I have another two loads of laundry. I have someone following behind me saying, "What are your plans for the day?" (Which translated means: "Are you going to do anything today of any redeeming value? Or are you just going to sit on the computer all day?")

I have someone else parenting the kids. "I told them they could watch television until 10:30. What's the big deal? It's summer."

I have someone else wanting to touch me and talk to me and pull on me...

When hubby leaves out of town, I have a huge void. My evenings had centered around him. Dinner was served when he was available and with what he wanted. We watched the movies he wanted to watch at night. I had virtually no personal decisions to make, because hubby either made them on his own, or asked for only my consultation before making a decision.

I hate trying to sleep when he's gone. I usually stay up until I'm cross-eyed and fall into bed half asleep, just to keep from lying in an empty bed.

I have a hard time being the only parent when he's gone. There's no one to be my team mate and show a united front. There's no one to be bad cop while I'm good cop, and vice versa. And by the end of the day, I have a hard time with anything other than complete silence and stillness. He's not there to buffer the kids from pawing me, whining and begging to sleep with me.

But after three weeks, I have gotten a little bit of a routine going for myself. I can swing the garbage out on the way to putting the kids in the car, let the dog back inside, throw the dishes in the dishwasher, and roll. Our usually divided chores are all on me, and I get them done.

I also feel less guilty about shutting down the house when he's gone. I feel I've worked really hard, and so have the kids, and we need some quiet time. I take the phone off the hook, put a sign on the door, and we snuggle and watch television.

When hubby's home, he makes me feel like I'm wasting time by sitting around- unless it's a television show he wants to watch, when he wants to watch it. He makes announcements as he stomps through the den: "I've done a load of laundry. The dishes are done. I'm considering building an addition onto the house by hand using only sticks and leaves I've scavenged from the outlying forest." (OK- I DID exaggerate the last one. But you know what I mean...)

I know lots of families have a parent (or two) that travels. I know lots of spouses feel the same way I do. And while it's nice to know I'm not too terribly crazy, it doesn't make me feel less guilty for wanting him home when he should be working, and working when he finally comes back home.

You would think after all these years we could have already achieved some kind of balance. And yet, every trip is a fresh reminder of what I miss when he's gone, and what I give up when he's back.

I would be completely surprised if he didn't feel sort of the same way. When he travels I'm sure he misses me and the kids. But when he's home, I would bet his mind wanders back to the paid dinners out, the quiet, solitary hotel rooms, and being in control of his own agenda, without reporting to anyone.

I know hubby. And I know he would deny any such thing. But I also know him well enough to know it's true.

So tonight we start the couple's dance once again, re-learning each other and re-learning the steps. We'll just about be dancing well- in time to the music, with grace and skill- when it will be time for him to leave the dance floor again.

Right now, I'm going to go get some sleep. Tomorrow I will be so glad he's here. But tonight, I just want quiet time to myself, and I want to sleep...

No Fair!

No fair, no fair, no fair! I'm mentally stamping my feet and poking out my bottom lip.

Why do "girls" have to put up with all the symptoms of PMS, while "boys" get off virtually Scott-free?

I have NEVER seen my husband go absolutely rabid with a craving for french fries with extra salt from Wendy's AND chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup and dry roasted peanuts. I NEVER witnessed my father scowling at the scale and his wardrobe because he was bloated. My brother NEVER got migraine headaches, back aches, nausea, chills, cramps and exhaustion.

When the topic of PMS comes up, most people associate it with a bad mood and the physical outcome that involves multiple trips to the store and the bathroom. But really, that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the whole package.

The REASON we're in such a foul mood is because of all the extraneous "stuff" that gets thrown in: the pain, the cravings, the mood swings, the feeling of being ill, the exhaustion. PMS is WORK!

For years, men have tried to take away the severity of what women have to go through. In the past, saying the word "pregnant" in mixed company was considered to be appalling language, so any open or frank discussions about PMS were completely off limits.

As we moved through history, women have stood up for themselves, from being more demanding about their wardrobing choices to actually burning their bras. (Obviously, they did not pay the small fortune for their bras that we do today, or they would have seriously considered simply designing posters, rather than actually catching their bra on fire.)

Most recently, we have finally had the medical community really try to hone in on women's over-all health, including heart, diet and PMS. But there are still a number of physicians who will say PMS is "all in your head."

When I was pregnant with my second child, I asked the male physician in my OB/GYN practice, "I am not feeling very well. The baby seems to be squashing a nerve. Is there anything I can do?"

He looked at me blankly and replied, "You're pregnant. Of course the baby is squashing a nerve and you don't feel well."

Wow. Thanks. Incredibly insightful.

I found both solace and sound advice from my female friends who had already gone down my path. And I continue to rely heavily on my friends to give me advice on all childcare, medical care, and female care issues. They are usually the most forth-coming, least embarrassed/embarrassing and can actually relate to the problem in question.

I have shared things with friends I would absolutely physically die from embarrassment about if I had to utter the words aloud to my nurse or physician. I have gotten better ideas, cures and remedies from a five minute conversation with a friend than I have in all the years put together with my medical attendants.

But even though I have gotten ways to DEAL with PMS (and other female maladies), I have still yet to find a way to PREVENT PMS symptoms.

Wouldn't it be totally awesome to NOT wake up one day thinking, "Wow, I feel GROSS & GROUCHY & I want to EAT until I PUKE, or SLEEP until NEXT WEEK, or- actually- BOTH!" Then look at the calendar and think, "Oh yeah... PMS. Wow. That sucks."

We can send a man to the moon. We can make sure that men can "perform" well into their twilight years. We can keep an otherwise dead heart beating. We can suck fat out of our thighs, add silicone/saline to our boobs, put botox in our face, staple our stomachs, lift our butts and tan our pale bodies. So how come they haven't found a "cure" for PMS?????

I know the hormone replacement debate is huge. We worry that putting hormones back into the body will make it more susceptible to cancer and disease. But how about just adjusting the hormones to make the PMS GO AWAY????

I can tell you this for sure: If you took a huge, tough football-playing, gun-slinging, skirt-chasing, tool-wielding, fast-car-driving, beer-drinking, man's MAN and gave him PMS, he'd fold like a house of cards. Medical science would have a "cure" so fast, it would make your head spin!

No man would endure craving food that would make him bloat so he couldn't zip up his jeans. I defy you to find a man who would have cramps, muscle aches and exhaustion without either drinking heavily or heavily medicating or both. They just wouldn't do it.

So why do we have to? (I say in the most whiny, nasally voice I can muster.)

Because... we're "girls". (I frump.)

And "girls" are the tougher sex. We have babies out in the field and then go back to picking the harvest. We raise the chickens, kill the chickens, cook the chickens and then feed them to our families. We make sure the house, the clothes and the children are clean. And we do it all with high heels, pantyhose and lipstick.

Why on earth would we let a little thing like PMS get in our way???

Give me a couple of days and I'll have a little more bravado and a lot less sassiness. I'll be able to look at the whole thing objectively and realize that in the grand scheme of things, PMS is really just a drop in the bucket.

But for right now, I will continue on with my martyr-like behavior, believing myself to be absolutely put upon as a female. And I will have my chocolate cake and eat it, too- and I'll wash it down with a (big) glass of red wine, thank you very much... So there...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Time Out!

I can not believe that school starts up the 11th! What happened to Summer? It was just yesterday that I blogged about school getting out!

I've got so much to do before school! The kids' clothes need to be gone through. I need to find out what uniforms they lack, and then get them. We've got to get backpacks and lunch boxes. I've got to get the school supplies for the eldest.

Fortunately, I have nothing else going on (HA!) I'm still working two jobs and planning two parties at my house (one being the Sunday prior to school on Monday). We have multiple family birthdays and multiple birthday parties the kids have been invited to. We also still have Cheer three nights a week. ARGGGGGGG!!!!

When in the world will I get anything done? Oh, but that's OK. My dear hubby will help (HA!) He's traveling... again... Then he has Fantasy Football weekend this weekend, which means they have the "draft" Saturday (almost all day) then they play golf on Sunday.

So, see? I have it ALL under control...

Does anyone know of a store that sells time? I know that everyone would love time, money and the fountain of youth. But right now, I could really just use some more time. (Not that I would turn down money or youth...)

I know everyone has their own list that could rival mine. I know everyone is dealing with their own drama at the beginning of school. So how do we deal?

I tend to think I do exceptionally well under pressure. But how much pressure can we take before we break? (I guess we'll find out, huh?)

I've tried pairing down. I've said "No" to everything I can. But the stuff on my list is stuff that isn't an option. It's required. And, more importantly, the majority of it is for my kids, which is my whole reason for doing anything.

So the house won't be as clean, I won't sleep as much, and I won't be able to add another single thing to my plate. But hopefully, I will get my list done efficiently, effectively and without too much incident.

Then, school will be in full swing, and we won't stop again until after Christmas...

I already miss Summer...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Twilight at Barnes & Noble

When my youngest was much younger, we happened to go to dinner one night at Texas Road House, a local steak house. Andy the Aardvark is their mascot, for lack of a better term. And he spent the evening going around to the kids' tables and handing out Texas Road House Frisbees, cups and coloring books.

For Amy, Andy was love at first sight. She developed a mad crush on him as soon as he waddled up to the table in his huge foam cowboy hat. She was absolutely smitten.

When Andy left to join another table, she begged the waiter to have him come back. Naturally, the staff thought this was just too cute. So, they had Andy come back over. She wrote illegibly on a paper napkin and handed to Andy.

"Andy thanks you for this lovely picture," the manager translated to Amy.

"Oh, that's not a picture," Amy corrected. "That's my phone number."

As if that were not bad enough, my poor deluded child sat by the phone pining for days, certain that Andy would call her. I tried to reason with her: "Honey, he's a pretend character."

"No, Mommy. I saw him. I talked to him. He hugged me. He is NOT pretend. Why hasn't he called?"

It was a while before I could take her back to Texas Road House. First of all, I was concerned that Andy may have to take a restraining order out on his "biggest fan." Secondly, I could not knowingly contribute to my daughter's heartache like that.

When I was younger, I thought Speed Racer was soooo cute! (When they turned it into a movie with live actors, I was crushed.) I also thought Shawn Cassidy was so cute that I had him be my Barbie's boyfriend whenever I played.

As I got older, stars like Mark Harmon, Mario Lopez, Val Kilmer and even Tom Cruise (in his very early years) made me sigh when I saw them. But I don't think I ever developed such a fixation with anyone as my Amy did with Andy the Aardvark...

Until now...

A friend of mine told me about a book series about a vampire that was written for young women. The only word in that sentence that even seemed mildly appealing to me, was the word "book". I'm not a huge science fiction fan. And certainly monsters and gore don't do a lot for me. And, when I think of books for "young women," I think of "Little House on the Prairie," or other such classic titles. I couldn't imagine that I would want to spend any amount of time reading about vampires written for teen-agers and young adults.

Then my BFF and I decided to see what all the hoopla was about and made a road trip to Barnes & Noble. We purchased the book, "Twilight," by Stephenie Meyer, and she read it first. She was all aflutter when she reported back to me how wonderful it was. I was still doubtful.

I read "Twilight" in a matter of days. I couldn't put it down. The whole book was a race from beginning to end to see what was going to happen next. And the part that was the icing on the cake was the character of Edward.

Edward is a vampire. I don't think I'm giving anything away by giving you that detail. But it's important to understand that he is a fictional character in the most extreme sense of the word.

Yet, I, like Amy, would so "give him my phone number"! He's strong, handsome, infinitely considerate of Bella (his very human girlfriend), and he's immortal. Their love story is arguably as romantic as any ever written. They literally go against all odds and all common sense because they love each other.

My BFFand I rushed back to Barnes & Noble, giddy. We giggled and flipped through the next book, anxiously awaiting our next fix of Edward. I even got the third book in anticipation of the completion of the second.

We both holed up with our books and texted each other and/or called to find out where we were in the book, compare notes and swoon over our fictional vampire. I read the second book ("New Moon") in three days, and then the third book ("Eclipse") (over 600 pages) in only one day. Never have I been as disappointed for a book to be over. I wanted more love story. I wanted more Edward.

August 1st, the latest edition ("Breaking Dawn") of the series comes out. BFF and I plan to be at Barnes & Noble for the party, and in line at midnight to swoop up our very own copy.

We are trying to plan a Girl's Day August 2nd. Normally, Girl's Day would entail shopping and mani/pedi's. But August 2nd, we plan to hole up in a house together, with pizza, diet coke, red wine, chocolate and Edward. We have discussed what we think might transpire in this next edition, and what we hope the outcome will be.

We both fully realize that Edward could not be any less "real" if he tried. He's the "perfect" male: handsome, witty, considerate, charming, strong, rich, protective, communicative, and on and on. That alone pretty much disqualifies him as being a real person. But add to that the fact that he's an over 300-year-old vampire, living forever in a handsome, strong 17-year-old body- and well, there you have it: "the man that will never be."

Edward does have some qualities that I find in my dear hubby. Maybe not so much the rich part. Certainly not the vampire part. But there are many other real things that Edward and hubby share in common.

Hubby is definitely my most mad crush, and will be forever, for all the "real" men of the world. I sort of think that one of the reasons that Edward is so "perfect" is because there is no possibility of him ever being "real." Real life hardly ever turns out like fantasy- if you are lucky, it's even better.

But, that will not deter BFF and me from storming Barnes & Noble August 1st, giggling, swooning and sighing all the way to the check out lane. And it is not nearly a good enough excuse to cancel our August 2nd read-athon.

We have a "date" with Edward. And I do not want to let him down. I would imagine that making a vampire upset would be very dangerous. So, BFF and I will keep our "date" with our fabulously wonderful fictional vampire.
And I will try to take it easy on Amy if she develops a crush on Scooby Doo or Micky Mouse.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

This Movie is Rated: STUPID!

How are there so many movies made that just flat-out stink? Some movies can fool you into thinking they're good, or at least tolerable. But by the end, all you have is 90 or so minutes of your life gone.

I know that movies cost a ton of money to make. Someone has to write it. The equipment costs money. The actors are quite costly. There's sound, ward robing, extras, location, props, and on and on. Then, of course, there is the never-ending stream of money pushed into the advertising and promotion of the movie.

So, who sits around and makes these decisions that a particular movie should be produced and then actually get someone to pay to have it made? Why in the world doesn't someone have the common sense to say, "NO!!! STOP!!!! This movie STINKS!!!!"

And the movie process is a long one. So there are tons of chances for someone to mention that the movie is a bomb. How does it get pushed all the way to the point that it makes it into the theaters, on the television and in the papers? How does no one say, "OMG! STOP IT!"

Are there possibly that many people who suck up to everyone involved that no one has the nerve to say "NO"?

So, hubby and I have resolved ourselves to only going to movies in the theaters when it's a sure "hit." Considering the price of movie tickets, concessions and babysitters, we hate wasting money on stupid movies.

Anything we aren't completely sure about, we wait for the DVD. Even then, sometimes the movies are too much to tolerate all the way through. We try to be optimistic: surely it will get better. When it doesn't get better, I can only wish I could turn back the clock and leave the stupid movie at the store.

I understand Hollywood is a strange land that runs a very strange business with some very strange people. But some of the movies make me question how far out of touch with reality either I or Hollywood really is.

I realize I live in the "Bible Belt" and that my outlook can sometimes be a little skewed. But am I that far away from California and Hollywood that our total belief system is the complete antithesis of Hollywood?

Really, how is it OK, or even "good," to actually show a rape scene, to have children say all manners of cuss words, to show torture, death, and numerous other absurdities, all in the name of "art"???? And then there are those movies that just truly suck without any help from gross plot or language.

We just watched a really bad movie. Some movie with Michael Keaton that involves baseball and theatre. It wasn't necessarily the worst movie we've ever watched; that would be the movie "Crash" with James Spader, Holly Hunter and some others. It was about people who got "turned on" by being IN violent car crashes. There was absolutely nothing redeeming about that movie.

I should probably keep a list of bad movies- if only to warn others. But truly, I just want to forget them. And I want all of the "yes" people involved in the making, production, distribution and promotion of each movie to be sentenced to watching their movie over and over until they finally stand up and say, "OMG! THAT IS AWFUL!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!!"

But I guess that wish can only ever be fulfilled in Hollywood... Maybe in a movie... sigh...

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Adult Onset Attention Deficit Disorder (AOADD). The condition by which, as an adult, you can not complete even the most simple of tasks due to a sudden change in thought, resulting in the abrupt discontinuation of one task in order to pursue another. In other words, "Hey look, it's something shiny," and that's all she wrote.

My ability to focus is something I have always considered a strength-- until recently. Over the past couple of years, parenthood has taken its toll. First, I am considerably sleep deprived. Secondly, there's only so much brain power that can be harvested from cold macaroni-n-cheese and partial chicken nugget pieces. Thirdly... oh, wait, what was I saying?...

As you can see, whatever kind of single-mindedness I had before has long gone out the window. I have a tendency to (more often than is comfortable) walk into a room and completely forget why I'm there. I stand several minutes trying to grasp at straws of thought, hoping it will come back. Usually I end up having to go back to where ever I was, re-think the mental conversation, figure out my task, and start again. It's very frustrating, not to mention very poor use of time!

I find myself repeating tasks like a mantra until I complete them, just to remember what I'm finishing: "Get stamps, get stamps, get stamps, get stamps..." I repeat over and over until I have stamps in my hand and am heading towards the envelopes, at which time I change my mantra to: "Stamp on envelope, stamp on envelope, stamp on envelope..."

I know other parents have this affliction. It is usually coupled with a hearing problem known as "Parent's Ear." This is a double-edged condition, that causes symptoms considered to be both positive and negative. The positive features include the ability to discern your child's voice above, in and around any other child, animal or noise, and be able to tell if their tone is angry, happy, scared or in danger from a mile away. The (somewhat) negative feature is that you are able to completely tune out your child, while they pull on your sleeve and say, "mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy..." at the top of their sweet little lungs. (The negative to this is that, in public, it is rude to allow a child to go on and on as such, but "Parent Ear" disallows the parent the ability to hear and correct the child.)

It's sad to get older and go looking for your keys, only to wind up two hours later having cleaned out your closet, rearranged a photo album, started cleaning a bathroom and canning some peaches, finally to think, "Now, what was I doing?" And yet, it happens with more regularity than I care to admit.

My poor children have been victims more than once to this. "Mommy can I have some milk, please?" might as well be spoken to the wind. I do acknowledge them and even get up to go get the milk. But, on the way, I have to throw away a stray napkin, answer the phone (always a problem for any type of consistency in a task) and look through the mail. Suddenly, 10 minutes later, my child is sighing heavily and rolling their eyes: "Moooom... milk???" "Oops, sorry, honey. I'll get it right now..."

I don't know of any kind of cure for this affliction. I can only assume that when I finally can't use my children as an excuse anymore, I'll be much older and able to finally just fess up to being senile. But for now, I need to go finish brushing my teeth (I only brushed one side) and tell the kids goodnight (even though suspect they are already asleep).

Then I have to go to bed myself to try to catch up on at least enough sleep to pretent to be conscious tomorrow. But, I'll probably end up brushing my kids, bringing my toothbrush to bed and telling my teeth goodnight... If I can remember that much for that long...
Oh, look, something shiny!!!...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Common Sense Goes on Vacation

When we began planning our family vacation, we were concerned about our budget because of gas being so much higher. We tried to cut corners where we could, planning out meals and trying to get souvenirs that were more practical. We packed carefully, taking things that in the past we would have purchased after our arrival, hoping to save money by not paying the big tourist trap prices.

We got down to the beach and began enjoying our time. One night we went out to dinner and ordered our dinner and drinks. As we happily sipped our tropical umbrella drinks, hubby stopped and in a moment of clarity began laughing.

"What in the world are we worried about gas prices for? We just paid $11 for one drink!"

Hmmm. Good point. Where is the common sense in that???

In fact, most of what we do during our beach vacation each year seems to be flying in the face of reason:

  1. We stay in a place that we want to make sure is spacious, clean and well air-conditioned- yet we purposefully go out to worship the 100+ degree sun and whine about the heat.

  2. We insist that our dwelling place keeps out rodents, animals and bugs- yet we go outside, spraying ourselves with toxic chemicals to keep the bugs away.

  3. We are pale-faced, pale-bodied blobs, who look like vampires out in the sun- yet we slather up with #50 sunscreen so we don't burn to a crisp out in the sun.

  4. We work out at home trying to tame the fat and tone the muscles- yet we eat like it's our job on vacation, stuffing in all sorts of fattening, calorie-laden foods, until our stomachs ache and our zippers groan.

  5. We scrimp and save our money at home in order to afford our much-anticipated vacation- yet we think nothing of spending money on ridiculously priced food, drinks and tacky souvenirs.

To top it all off, I have calculated that I've taken over 450 pictures with my digital camera since we've been here- yet, I will probably only actually print 20 - 25 of them.

Moral of the story, we have an incredibly well photo documentation of how we spent way too much on stupid stuff, slather up with sunscreen and bug spray to go out of our well-air conditioned, bug-free, sun-free homes, and sweat outside in the sun and the sand, fighting off bugs and trying to stay hydrated... All in the name of "vacation."

If a friend told me they were going to do this, in this context, I would sincerely wonder about their ability to make decisions. But, this is something we look forward to all year. This is something we set all of our lives aside to do.

Because, no matter how much it just makes no sense, the fact is, we get to spend a whole week of (relatively) uninterrupted time with the people who matter most to us in the world: our family.

It's true: we can push each others' buttons better than anyone else. We have the baggage of all the family history working against us.

But, in the end, our family makes us who we are. The adults enjoy watching the children learn and grow and laugh and play. We enjoy playing games- the competitive spirit still very much alive. And we feel it's important to pass down the traditions we have been passed down from our parents and grandparents. Bottom line: we love each other and love to be around each other and love that our kids enjoy each other.

So, it may not make sense, but we sure have a lot of fun together on our expensive, hot, bug-filled, sweaty, sun-burned, fun-filled, fun-in-the-sun vacation! And I look forward to it again next year!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Does "No" really mean "No"?

I was sitting on the couch reading a magazine when I heard the kids conspiring over in the corner. Realizing they were up to something, I kept my ear on the conversation.

"Go ask her," Amy whispered.

"No, she's just gonna' say no," Emma mumbled.

"Not if YOU ask her. She will let you do anything, Emma," Keith retorted.

"Okay," Emma resigned, and crept over to me, smiling widely.

"Mom?" she began.

"Uh-huh?" I asked, not looking up.

"Um, well..." she floundered.

I put down the magazine and looked at her.

"No," I said, and picked up the magazine.

"What?" she asked incredulously.

I put the magazine back down, paused and said, "I said no."

"What did you? How did you? ..." she sputtered.

"Emma," I began, "Keith and Amy, you, too, come here."
"Guys, I know you want to have some cake, but we're having dinner in about an hour. So, no, you may not have cake. But you CAN have some fruit."

The three looked crestfallen. They walked away grumbling.

"How did she know?" Amy whispered.

"Because she's mom," Keith replied in an exaggerated whisper.

As a mom, I had no idea how often I would have to say "no." I think the only thing I say more than "no" is "I love you."

Just this morning I think I said "no" 728 times- per child.

"Mom can I have... Mom will you buy me... Mom can we go... Mom, please???"

No, no, no, no and no.

Sometimes they try to be tricky and make me say "yes": "Mom, you wouldn't say 'no' if we asked you for a coke, would you?"

"Yes. I would say no."

"Is that a yes or a no?"

"You may NOT have a coke. Got it?"

"Yes, ma'am," they respond, eyes downcast.

How many ways can you say "no"? I know I've said them ALL!

How much can they beg and plead for me to change my mind? I know I've heard them ALL!

By the end of the day, I'm often exhausted from the continuous banter, begging, pouting, stomping, griping, complaining, etc... I can only sigh as a response, instead of actually getting out a "no." But, that doesn't deter my persistent, determined children. Oh no. They see that as a sign of weakness, and will use that as an opportunity to drill me more, trying to break me. "If we keep it up, I know she'll say yes," I can almost hear them say to each other.

That's when I finally use successful ultimatums, or absolutely lose my mind. It's a toss up as to which way I'm going to go. It sort of depends on if I've had enough sleep, enough food, and how much they already badgered me earlier in the day.

Either way, by the time I go to bed, I feel like I've said "no" way too much, and "I love you" not nearly enough. I know, objectively, that it is not the case. But "no" doesn't come easily to me, and I can find myself feeling very guilty and inadequate for not having my children be blissfully happy every moment of the day.

Fortunately, hubby balances me out and backs me up. We're a "team" and we try to head off trouble before it comes to "no". But some things are completely unavoidable.

And so we face another day, filled with questions that are going to inevitably be answered by "no." Wishing we could always say "yes." Knowing there's no way we can, yet wishing just the same.

Someday, they will probably have the same issues with their kids. And we'll be grandparents. And then, we can smile broadly at our grandchildren and say "Why, yes, honey!"
And when our kids stare at us, mouth agape, and sputter, "Who are YOU? You would have NEVER told US yes!"
We can look at them with a gleam in our eye, and say, "Because they're our grandchildren!!! And YOU have to take them home!"...
Just like our parents do to us now...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beauty & the Beach

I know this is a pet peeve of mine that I rant about on a fairly regular basis, but I must confess, the beach adds an entirely new element to my obsession over wardrobing out in public. Mostly because there is so much less wardrobe to view.

I am all about being comfortable in your own skin, being proud of your body, and trying to be all you can be. However, there are still boundaries and some social modesty, which apparently totally escape a very large portion of the population.

I saw (literally) tons of gelatinous flesh straining against small bands of spandex. Who knew there was that much cellulite in the world? Much less on the small part of the Gulf Coast we were on. People would lumber over to a tiny lawn chair and plop down uneasily. Then, sit for hours, until they have to almost roll over on all fours just to get up.

What really struck me today was the amount of money that was floating around on the beach. While the Dolce & Gabanna bikinis that said D on one triangle and G on the other did make me think, "Wow, that is an expensive bathing suit," it did nothing to dissuade my eyes from the large, round belly, making the wearer look like she was about 68 weeks pregnant (topped off, of course, with a diamond dangle belly button ring). And, even though the European inspired speedos are indeed tiny and expensive, if you can't see them because of the man's over-hanging stomach, it really loses something.

Talk about some self-confidence! I like bathing suits that cover all the important stuff AND (at least I try to) compliment my figure. I ask the question again and again: Why does the fashion industry allow bikinis over a size 10? (10's are questionable, but can be OK on some taller women). (NOTE: I do not qualify for bikinis when I use this standard. And yet, I am not offended, as I realize this is not a personal affront, rather a common sense rule that should be made and enforced.) And why, oh why, do we allow speedos in America at all? Shouldn't that be confiscated at the border along with the fresh fruit and lighters?

These folks do make me feel extraordinarily attractive and svelte. No matter how "pudgy" I am, a size 16 woman in a size 8 string bikini with gold trim makes me look like a centerfold. Heck, a size 6 woman in a size 2 bikini makes me look good!
When people are modest and use social etiquette, no matter what their weight, race, sex or age, they look more beautiful.
Even the young, thinner kids don't do themselves any justice with a bikini that doesn't fit them. But, they do seem to have such a better grasp on what looks good on them.

Some would argue that "anything" would look good on them. Not true. I've seen beautiful, thin girls with a truly ugly case of muffin top going on. I've seen hot guys with speedos that make me want to throw a cover over them.

But, I simply can not understand how someone can look in a mirror hanging out of a bathing suit which is obviously three (or so) sizes too small and think, "Wow, I'm HOT!" No matter how big or little they are! An ill-fitting suit on the beach is just flat-out ewwwww!!!!
Long story short, I really think if we have life guards on the beach to make sure we don't drown, we should really have fashion guards to make sure we don't commit beachwear attire suicide. I would even go so far as to volunteer to train the fashion guards to make sure they use some modicum of tact when they go to assist these people who either don't know- or just don't care-that they are in major violation of pleasing beach aesthetics.
After all, if someone doesn't have a friend who will tell them the truth, that doesn't mean they shouldn't hear it... And I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't agree to having a more pleasant view.


Vacation is FABULOUS! Sun, sand, family. What a combination!

The kids are having a blast with their cousins. And I don't have to cook or clean (not that I do it that much at home anyway).

We have been down to Seaside for our yearly pilgrimage. We watched Sleeping Beauty (the play). What I wasn't counting on was having to learn a song and sing it back to them at their whim. Other than that, it was quite fun.

It was so hot today, that I actually had sweat dripping off my elbows and nose. But no one seemed to mind. We just swam around in the pool, enjoying the day.

We love watching my mom and dad with their decision-making- mostly because they are so bad at it. They sound like Chip -N- Dale from the cartoons: "No, you first." "No, you first." "No, I insist." "No, I insist..."

I've been very diligent about uploading my photos to my computer to keep my card empty & friends apprised of our vacationing. We sent postcards the first day to make sure we didn't beat them home.

Everyone in the family has gotten on the Wii, and I have the photos to prove it. Of course, my in-laws perpetually make us look bad by exercising for FUN several times a day.

Fortunately, Hubby & I round out the group to "keep us real". No exercising for us!!! I'll just sweat off of my elbows in the heat, thank you very much.

The kids got way too much sun today. They were absolutely wiped out by dinner. All my pictures prove it- if you can get over the fact that they almost look drugged. (Like we haven't thought of doing it before. But I can assure you, I wouldn't have photo proof.)

Tomorrow we will hit the beach again tomorrow. The kids will no doubt have fun. And so will we...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vacation Record!

Eight-and-a-half hours. It was a record. We have never made it from home to Florida in eight-and-a-half hours, even though that is the amount of time it should actually take.

Several years ago when the children were much smaller, and one was even potty-training, it took us thirteen hours for the exact same drive. So, you can see, eight-and-a-half hours was quite an accomplishment for our family.

However... I was ready to rip out some one's eyeballs before we ever hit the state line leaving Tennessee. Why, you ask? Were the kids fighting? No. Was hubby being ugly? No. Then, what? What was it that made you want to jump out of a speeding mini-van?

Well, for starters, Amy... Well, really- that's it. Just Amy. God love her.

She has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when she wants something. "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy," she sings, getting louder and more shrieky with each passing moment. And NOTHING will deter her.

"Amy, you can have gum AFTER we get in the car."

"OK," she said without taking a breath, "NOW can I gum?"


We had a knock-down-drag-out in the produce section of Wal-Mart. The looks I got plainly said, "Tsk, tsk. Poor girl. What a BAD mommy."

Would you like to know what we were fighting about? She wanted a plum that was bruised and I told her "no."

That was unacceptable to her. She wanted THAT plum. It didn't matter if it had bugs crawling out of it and it was on fire. She wanted THAT plum, and mommy was "mean" because she was withholding it from her.

OMG! Where is the open bar in Wal-Mart when you need it?????

There is no way to win this argument. If I finally relent and she gets the stupid bruised plum and eats it, she will be ill. Then I'm "mean" for not looking out for her. AND she's sick and cranky. If I don't let her get the plum, being a responsible parent, I'm "mean" for not letting her have her way.

Hubby was... less than helpful. His suggestion: "Get down to her level and look her in the eye. She'll listen to you."

"OK. Thanks. Since you've been around her two days out of the last thirty, I can see how you would be the expert." Would anyone notice me chugging down a case of beer in the peanuts and beer aisle???

I am SO glad and SO thankful to be on vacation! I have looked forward to this trip for 365 days. So, why can I not enjoy it???

Maybe some sleep tonight will help us all. At the very least, Amy and I are (figuratively) going to our separate corners to refresh before the next bell rings.

Of course, I will win. But I would like for us to get along and enjoy each other. I would like to be able to tuck her in at night, smile, kiss her cheek and go to bed and look forward to seeing her again the next day.

So, I guess I will try again tomorrow. And I will hope that I can find the "magic bullet" that will help her listen, hear, understand and react...

...Or at least a "magic pill" that will give me patience to wait for her to get there.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Peter Pan Loses His Shadow

As we were sitting at breakfast, my eldest son, who just got home from CHURCH camp, proudly announced he had grown arm pit hair. Fabulous.

Wow! Where did that come from? I thought puberty was supposed to make kids feel self-conscious. Keith is anything but. I'm afraid to think of the announcements that could follow: "Guess what, I kissed a girl, and I liked it." Wait- that would be bad for Emma and Amy, but natural for Keith. But, he's too young. Isn't he? Isn't a rising sixth grader too young for this stuff?

My youth is filled with memories of being both a late and early bloomer. I was the oldest (literally) in my class, so all the puberty stuff hit me first, much to my absolute horror and embarrassment. But my friends were socially (read: sexually) much more advanced than I. I thought boys were cute. And we used the term "going together" to describe sixth grade "dating". Although, if I actually had ever "gone with" any boy at that age, I wouldn't have known what to do with them.

Today, Keith is (relatively) at ease around girls. He is good at being their friend. But, at this point he claims to have no interest in "dating" anyone, unlike his friends. I get a running commentary of the soap opera of sixth grade boy/girl relationships from him about his friends. I laugh gingerly at the ridiculousness of the drama. I'm cautious about my amusement, because, in truth, I know Keith (Emma and Amy) are mere moments away from being knee-deep in the fray of "dating".

How does a mom (and dad) handle it? I am literally standing on the edge of my children stepping into the next phase of their lives. As I recall, this is when parents become "stupid" and they "just don't understand." This is when I began to realize that I really "knew it all" and the world shrunk to the size of just me. Everything that happened in my day was directly done to, about, and for me.

Am I going to be able to handle the self-centered behavior of teenager-ism? Am I going to be able to stand watching the mistakes they will inevitably make as they learn their way in the world? But, mostly, am I going to be able to live through them shutting me out, in the normal way that teenagers do?

I know the umbilical cord was cut (literally) years ago. But the metaphorical umbilical cord is becoming thinner than I care for. The days where I was the center of their world, and every art project was designed for me, and I was the one who could kiss away boo-boos, are slowly slipping away.

Who knew such angst could be inspired by arm pit hair? Hopefully, my worst fears will never be realized. I trust in the ground work that we have carefully laid in my children. And I believe that they will come out on the other side as people of whom I am very proud to know and love.

In the meantime, I will agonize over the conversations that will inevitably come up now that "arm pit hair" has been introduced to Emma and Amy's vocabulary.
And I will let hubby deal with Keith's actual arm pit hair when he gets home. After all, I wouldn't want to horde all the fun stuff for myself! Daddy should be able to join in the fun, too, right?

Procrastination and I Go on Vacation

Tomorrow we leave for vacation. I am soooooo excited I can barely stand it! We are going to be at the beach with our family for 7 whole days.

This is the trip we all look forward to beginning on the day we get home from the most recent trip. We have the trip marked on our calendar as "black out" dates for anything else that could possibly come up.

That being said, I have way too much to do, and not nearly enough time to do it. But, my old friend Procrastination has come and planted himself firmly on my couch. Therefore, I am currently doing Procrastination's favorite activity: playing around, aimlessly on the computer.

So far, I have updated my Facebook (very important), checked my e-mails, subscribed to some "free" offers, which I will no doubt regret later, and checked up on world news and celebrity gossip (sometimes one and the same).

I still need to, oh, um, PACK. To do that, I actually need to do laundry (or else pack dirty clothes- ewwww). And I need to clean the house so that I don't end up with nasty vermin moving in while we're out of town. And I need to mow the grass for hubby so he doesn't have to do it when he gets home.

But, Procrastination would like to take a field trip. He would like for us to go "out" somewhere- anywhere- just to avoid the house.

Once I get focused, Procrastination becomes quickly forgotten, even when he stamps his feet and tries to ferociously to get my attention by turning on the television or bringing to mind things like new nail polish (for my toes on the beach) or going to see a movie (because I'm sure they have no movie theaters in Florida) or going swimming (since we won't swim on vacation- ha).

Once I get started, I will work feverishly until the bags are packed, the beds are made and the house actually passes for clean. And I will barely stop for food or restroom breaks. And I get a little cranky when I'm interrupted by things like hungry children or breaking up sibling arguments.

But tomorrow, regardless of what I'm able, or not able, to accomplish today, we will be at the beach. And there, Procrastination will get to run amok, frolicking in the ocean, reading by the pool, playing miniature golf with the kids and taking spontaneous naps in the afternoon. We'll have a very loose schedule, that can be changed at our whim. And we'll smile easier and sleep better.

So, for now, I'm going to ask Procrastination to go away and pack his bags. He'll have his day in the sun tomorrow.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm Coming Home

Tonight we picked up eldest child from church camp. He had been gone all week. I missed him terribly. But I knew he was having fun.

Upon arrival, son waved, smiled and continued walking the other way. Had I been holding cash and his cell phone, I probably could have gotten a much warmer reception. But as it was, I at least got acknowledged in front of his friends.

We walked UP the biggest hill I've walked up in a long time. I really began wondering if there was a rope to repel on the way back down.

As if I didn't already know I was out of shape, this hill kicked my ever-lovin' butt and proved it. I heaved and huffed and sighed as I climbed up and up and up. Youngest child chattered incessantly next to me as she literally skipped up Mt. Saint Something to son's cabin to pick up his gear.

She did offer some encouragement when she saw me struggling. She said, "Daddy hated this hill, too." OK. Thanks.

We went in to the UN-AIR CONDITIONED cabin (read: I will NEVER, EVER attend this camp) to collect son's things. It was quaint. It reminded me of my summer camps as a young person: the hot, sticky days; the ice cold showers; swimming in the green lake; eating the camp food. Good times...

After we collected everything, we got to carry it back down the hill to the car. It wasn't as exhausting going down as up, naturally. However, my gracefulness has been in serious question for most of my life. Going down a gravel, steep hill, carrying 25+ pounds of shifting luggage is never a good idea for a person who can't walk through a doorway without hitting one side or the other. Amazingly, I made it down unscathed, and we got the luggage to the car.

Then we got to watch the awards and the video of the camp. It did look like a ton of fun! Son was thrilled to have achieved so much athletically. And his highlight was to discover that he was a very good, natural marksman for shooting cans with bb guns.

I have nothing against guns. Particularly when being taught the proper, respectful way to handle them, as they were at camp. However, I must admit, I had never really thought of target shooting as being a Christian Church Camp activity. I amused myself for quite some time thinking of all the jokes and puns that could be associated with it; some a little tacky, I'll confess.

After the awards, several of the campers had made their profession of faith, and went down to the river to be baptized.
It was a really cool experience! Being outside with nature, on a hot evening, in a very secluded spot- virtually untouched by civilization- I imagined what it must have been like back in Jesus' day. There was no microphone system. The minister wore shorts and a tee-shirt (no robes or vestments). And the small children played quietly on the ground while the parents looked on. It was really meaningful.

We got to visit with friends and enjoy the evening before we plucked up our little campers and took them home.

When we got in the car, I realized that son was not just tired- he was exhausted. He had no voice. He looked like he had been out in the sun with no sunscreen for a little too long. His teeth appeared to have never seen a toothbrush, an observation aggravated by his braces. And he had some killer mood swings- from being really happy about his fun times to being terribly sad about all of the things he imagined could happen to his family and loved ones while he was in the dark in bed at night.

He didn't want to call anyone because his throat hurt. But he talked non-stop on the way home, which I took as definitive proof that he had a blast.

I miss church camp and all of the wonderful memories and fabulous friends. But if I were to go now, I would want to be in a Bed and Breakfast or a nice hotel with room service. I am a product of modern day conveniences, and I crave my creature comforts.

Cold showers, bad food and no air conditioning is an option for us. We are fortunate to have it be an option. It is a blessing to have all of the things we have. And I don't forget for a minute how other people don't have those options available to them.

But I don't feel the need to be hot, sticky and stinky to be with God. And I don't think He cares one way or the other. I think He's just glad to have us want to hang out with Him. And I know His heart must have been full-to-bursting this week with over 100 kids gathering together for Him.

My son will take this with him and it will stay with him for a long time. And next year he should be able to go to the church camp I attended (the one with air conditioning and hot showers and fairly decent food) for 7 years, and was a counselor for 3 years.

Traditions are wonderful. And I'm glad my son has had the opportunity to be a part of so many special traditions his friends have shared with him. I hope they will continue to share in the years to come.

And, I also, selfishly, hope for camps without as many hills...

Blessings & Peace

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"You" Time

When I was growing up, I spent countless bedtimes sitting with my mom asking about life. We had hours of conversations talking about something as simple as how bad the cafeteria food was, to something as complicated as what to do about someone I saw cheating on a test. Those talks helped shape who I am today.

I try to offer the same special time with my own children. But I can't do it at bedtime. First of all, they all sleep together. So private conversations are impossible. Also, by the time the kids are going to bed, I'm spent. My patience is gone. I'm tired. And I just want to sit down and have some quiet time for myself.-- Not exactly conducive to heart-to-hearts.

So, I try to make arrangements for each of my children to get to be an "only child" from time to time. Sometimes I take just one child to the supermarket. Sometimes I try to get two of the three children to spend the night away from home.

All of my kids revel in "only child" time. Even though they love each other dearly, they also like their individuality and their time alone with mom and/or dad.

My parents (their grandparents) try to do the same thing, themselves. The kids adore "only grandchild" time with Grandmomma and Grandaddy!

Recently, I had Emma in the car with me alone. She is the child who likes to please. While that's nice to have an easy child, it concerns me for her own sake. I would hate for her to ever give in to peer pressure, for even trivial actions, in order to please her friends.

I asked her what she would do if one of her friends asked her to do something she didn't want to do. She sort of shrugged her shoulders.

"Well, what if they said they wouldn't think they were cool and more and they wouldn't talk to you anymore if you didn't do it?"

"I guess, I would tell them I didn't want to do it," she said, unsure.

"Emma, if they really pushed you, what would you do?"

"Well, I don't know," she said quietly, looking up through her lashes.

"OK," I redirected. "Say, your best friend wanted you to steal a candy bar. And she said if you didn't steal that candy bar, she wouldn't talk to you ever again. And she said she would tell everyone that you were a baby and un-cool?"

Emma thought for a few minutes, then got a gleam in her eye.

"I would go to the store, buy the candy bar, and then just tell them I stole it," she said smiling.

Clever girl. While, ever the peace keeper. Ever the pleaser.

"Emma, would I ever do anything on purpose to hurt you?"

"No," she said emphatically.


"Because you love me."

"Would I ever ask you to do something that I knew would get you in trouble?

"No," she said again.


"Because, mommy, you love me!" she said, exasperated.

"So, if a friend is really a friend, would they ask you to do something they knew was wrong?"

She rolled this over in her mind as she picked at some finger nail polish.

Finally she looked up and smiled, "No?"

I smiled back. "So what would you do about the candy bar?" I asked quietly.

"I would tell them 'no!'," she smiled confidently.

"How did you get so smart?" I asked her.

She shrugged and smiled.

I know we'll have many more discussions in the years to come. And I can't wait to watch her turn into the amazing young woman I know she'll be.

All three of my kids are awesome- collectively and individually. I would feel like a piece of me was missing if I had only ever had one or two of my kids, instead of all three. With all of them, I feel whole. With each of them, I feel blessed.