Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Positive Parenting

My first child has a bit of a flair toward the dramatic. A bump on the leg becomes a broken bone that will never heal. A cut on the arm controlled by a small band aid is reported to me to be a gaping hole requiring transfusions and skin grafts.

Maybe it's just a "first child" thing. But more times than not I feel like the town's people from "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." I eye him wearily and think, If he every REALLY has a serious injury I hope I have the senses to realize it and get him medical attention, and don't end up on the news with my stunned face plastered under the heading, "Stupid Parenting Allows Boy's Death."

Said child recently participated in a a flag football tournament. I was thrilled that he volunteered to do something that required physical exertion, since that is typically not his M.O.

The first day of practice brought on a slew of aches, bumps and bruises- some real, most imagined. Day two was worse. By the time the tournament was approaching, I wondered if he might actually die an imaginary death out on the field.

He came in, dragging his right leg behind him and holding his left arm delicately.

"Mom, I don't know if I should play," he ventured.

"Hmm?" I asked.

"I don't think I should play in the tournament. I'm hurt now and I've only played with my own team. I might really break something if I play against the other kids," his eye brows were knit together in a panicked line.

"Well," I began. Then I stopped myself. I shifted in my chair and faced him head-on. "You're right."

"Huh?" he asked.

"You are right. You shouldn't play. Every time you play you have some pretty serious injuries. Remember that cut that made you bleed so much? And look at your leg. If it's broken you really shouldn't play on it. You know, now that I think of it, you should probably call Matt and tell him you have to quit the team. I really don't think it's safe."

He looked at me stunned. "What??" he asked again, incredulously.

I gave him my most concerned mom look and said with big eyes, "Honey, I would hate for something to happen to you. I mean, look how much you're hurt already... You know, I just don't know that sports are your 'thing,' you know? In fact, I wouldn't play in the tournament or even in a pick-up game. It's just too risky," I looked at him seriously and asked, "Do you think I should talk to the doctor about having you switched out of PE to something a little... safer... like maybe another Math class?"

He was so shocked, he forgot to hold his arm or drag his foot.

"Mom! You aren't supposed to say that stuff! You're a mom! Moms are supposed to say stuff like, 'No, of course you should play. Your team needs you. And you're good at sports.' What kind of advice is, 'Quit playing?' That's an awful thing to say!"

I smiled broadly at him.

Realization dawned on him. He tried to look mad at me, but couldn't help but smile.

"You stink," he mumbled, as he smiled and walked away.

Needless to say, he did, in fact play in the tournament. And he did well. He threw a couple of good passes and caught the ball for a touchdown.

I don't think he's "cured" from his hypochondriac tendencies. But it was nice to not have to deal with the drama for a little while.

And who knows? Maybe this will inspire him to branch out more, take more risks. But just in case, I'm sure he has 911 on speed dial and the medical staff at our local hospital on full alert... Bless his heart...

Monday, September 22, 2008

HBD, Hubby!

Well, it has been a while since I have written an entry. I never imagined life could be so busy doing things that have absolutely nothing to do with me personally!

Laundry, cooking, dishes, cleaning, bathing, bedding, homework, practices, dry cleaning, grocery shopping, etc., etc., etc...

This past weekend was hubby's 40th birthday. I was incredibly tempted to put a big sign in the yard that said, "Lordy, Lordy! Look Who's 40!" and request that everyone we know wear a black arm band to show their condolences for the mourning of his youth.

But, I took the high road and planned a couple of nice dinner parties for him, and got him some speakers for his stereo system. Now, don't be too impressed. See, my 40th is 42 days after his, and I don't need to give him that much time to figure out how to "return the favor."

We had a BMW cake for him- big hit! And most of his gifts centered around the BMW, his job or "just for fun" stuff.

Again, I really wanted to give him two shirts: The first would be an XXXL with the words "Body by Beer" embroidered on it. The second would be a M or L with the words, "Body by BoFlex" on it.

(Back story: Hubby has owned a BoFlex which has resided in different areas of our garage and home for over a year now. Thus far, it has been a very expensive car cover holder in the garage, a central place to put the recycling, and, now, a centrally heated and air conditioned paper weight. To date, he has used it one time. But, we dismantled our guest bedroom and now have a very nice exercise room to show guests when they come over.)

It is not in my nature to let such opportunities for giving someone a hard time (in fun, of course) get away like this. It has caused me, at times, physical pain to hold my tongue.

But, my husband is absolute King of sarcasm and come-backs. And I know in my heart of hearts that my pay-back would be far worse than anything I could ever even dream of dishing out. So I gritted my teeth and smiled.

This weekend we leave for a short get-away with another couple who also happen to both be turning the big 4-0 this year. We are looking forward to sun and sand and sleep with the enthusiasm once held for a raucous party rave. We have books selected, our scrabble game packed, a couple of swim suits and the 50+ sunblock. Yep, wild times.

The planning required to shuttle around the kids and have someone be "me" for the four days/nights has been astonishing. I feel like I'm planning the President's Inaugural Ball, complete with foreign dignitaries, security detail and press.

But, as I bask in the sun, it will ALL be worth it: the busy-ness, the ability to NOT give hubby a hard time about being "old," the planning, and on-going celebrations.

We will enjoy that time as only someone "our age" can. Gone are the days of dancing until dawn. Yet, we may watch the sunrise a morning or two-- after sleeping.

We have a little more disposable income than we did in those days (not much...). We aren't on a fixed income (yet) so we won't be looking for the blue-plate special deals.

We will be enjoying our vacation in a way that is exactly right for US.

And when it is my turn to cross over to the next decade, I feel confident that hubby will respectfully resist the temptation to set up a coffin in our den for "visitation," or schedule a night out for me and the girls in a hearse.

At least he better... Because I have my shirts, embroidery machine and black arm bands at the ready if hubby doesn't "play nice," too...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nash-Vegas, Baby!

The other night when we went out to help those "sweet young things" celebrate their 21st, I compiled enough material to blog until I die. There was more "interesting" people out there than I could have ever imagined!

For starters, let me just say: Spandex is a privilege- not a right. And there are people out there who seem to think that Spandex is actually part of the Constitution, and is thereby their inalienable right to wear, no matter how dire the consequences. People, step away. Back up. Just say "no."

Secondly, is there some handbook that everyone else got that I missed for going downtown on a Saturday night? Because most of the people traveled in groups. We saw enough bridal parties/bachelorette parties to fill even a mega church full to the brim.

The bridal parties were easily recognizable because they distinguished themselves with matching clothes, sashes, veils, shirts with sayings on them, feather boas around their neck or sewn around the hem of their shirt, and various other matching props and costumes. Most of the parties were huge. I couldn't imagine ever having that many bridesmaids. And let me just say, these little bride's maids were not acting very "maid-ly". They were flat-out raunchy. Apparently bachelorette parties are a little different than when I got married. (Not that it's completely surprising, but still...)

And I have to say, bridesmaids these days are really getting the short end of the stick. In my day, they had to show up for a shower or tea or two, then wear the "ugliest dress on the rack" down the aisle. Their primary role was to keep the bride from puking on her gown before the wedding started. Then they were to hold her flowers and fluff her train and veil throughout the ceremony, photos and reception.

Today's bridesmaids go way above and beyond. Showers and teas are tame compared to these ladies going out en masse to behave in a way that is supposed to make the bride puke. They spend inordinate amounts of time trying to tease poor, unwitting boys, in order to feel like they've gotten out their last "hurrah." (I guess the boys should really know what they are getting into, considering the girls usually have some kind of labels on them to distinguish themselves as a bridal party...)

And here's the kicker: during the bridal parties of my day, the bridesmaids had one outfit of torture to wear during the day of the wedding. Some heinous poofy dress with dyed-to-match-shoes that made our feet go to sleep, that every bride gushed, "I got one that I knew you could wear again..." (OK- where??? Is there an annual "Ugliest Bridesmaid Dress Contest" I don't know about? Because there are so very few places to wear a bridesmaid dress... Kinda' like an ugly version of the bridal gown, actually...) Today's girls are subjected a minimum of two awful outfits: one for the bachelorette party, and one for the wedding. Truly, it's usually a toss up as to which outfit is worse...

Speaking of dressing badly, I would love to have been a fly on the wall at some of these people's homes when they were dressing for the evening. You wonder what was going through their minds as they chose the evening's ensemble. Many obviously had no mirror to speak of. And some people must actually believe that if you wear a bright enough, tight enough, small enough outfit, that it must somehow make you look slimmer. If you are one of those people, please listen to me: You do NOT look slimmer. And I would also like to mention that undergarments are not just about modesty and hygiene. They also provide support, which "generously curvy" figures can really use.

And, if you are a guy, wearing baggy pants that hang between your knees is not attractive. And watching the poor guys struggle with them all night, it doesn't look like they are very comfortable, either. And the shoes that are so big that you slosh around in them-- I just don't get it. But, I guess that's fair, because I'm sure you don't get high heels, either.

We were accosted by a group of about twenty matching (old) Elvis impersonators, complete with spandex and sunglasses (please see note on spandex above). We tried to be very cautious around the motorcycle gang with matching leather vests, chaps, boots, bandannas and tattoos. The group of Asian girls who were dressed in less clothing than my six year old wears made me worry for them in a very maternal way. And the group of young men who live the alternative life style had more eyeliner on than Tammy Faye Baker. (Hey, I'm not casting stones. I'm just saying, make up is designed to enhance, not make your face inches thicker.)

All of these folks mingled together peacefully, weaving in and out of clubs. The dance floors were small, so everyone looked like they had it a little more "together" just because they couldn't move very much and show their apparent lack of balance.

The handbook that I mentioned earlier must also include some sort of nightly race to see who can consume the most alcohol. Since I was designated driver, I was in very last place all night. I stuck to diet coke and water, which I actually got stopped for when leaving one of the clubs. The bouncer called out, "Ma'am," which I ignored, because "ma'am" implies "old woman" in downtown Nashville on a Saturday night.

"Excuse me," he tried again. This time I turned to him and said, "Yes?"

"I'm sorry, but you can't take that drink with you outside."

"Oh, I'm sorry. It's diet coke."

"Yeah, I know. But it's the rules."

"But it was $3.00."

"Yeah, I'm sorry."

So I slugged down the rest like a shot, probably making him suspicious of the "diet coke" explanation, because I was not going to waste a six ounce, $3.00 plus tip, filled with ice, diet coke. The bouncer looked at me sideways like he wanted to call me "ma'am" again.

I was immensely proud of the way our young ladies looked and handled themselves. We only had one small snafu. A man "selling" flowers solicited us and one of our girls took pity on him. As she was digging through her wallet in front of him (I really wanted to scream "Stop that! Put your money away! Haven't you ever listened to Kenny Rogers sing, 'The Gambler???'.") a twenty was poking hap-hazardly out of the top. Our flower boy snatched the twenty and dashed, leaving our young lady shocked, angry and upset.

Outside of that, our group was pretty tame. Our girls made everyone else look like they were trying out for MTV Mardi Gras or something. We only lacked the beads...

Nashville on Saturday night is quite interesting, to say the least. And seeing it through my (somewhat) older eyes was an enlightening experience. I'm sure the same scene is played out every Saturday night- and probably other nights, as well.

But, I'm totally okay with not being part of it. I'm to a point in my life that staying home and drinking a glass of wine while playing Scrabble is about as exciting as I need to be. That way I get to keep an eye on my kids and any of their friends that tag along. And I get to be with friends and family.

I have no need to "pick up" guys, or be picked up. Yes, it is nice to be considered attractive. But it is obvious that the Saturday night downtown scene is not about making "love connections." It's about "hooking up" and meeting some perceived base needs by coupling with complete strangers. Yeah- that doesn't sound like anything that is remotely appealing.

I feel bad for those who are in the "dating scene" and have this as one of their alternatives for meeting a potential spouse. To me, this would be about as effective as glasses on a bat.

But, our girls had fun. They officially welcomed "21." And we all made it home safe and sound. I guess that's about the best outcome one can ask for when going downtown to "party" in Nashville on a Saturday night...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chinese Fire Drill

Today was one of those days that made me wonder how people with more than three children do it. I think I went seven different directions all day.

I had to get lunch money to school before going to work. Then we played "Where's the cheer uniform?" up until we had to get Keith to flag football, right before piano lessons, and, finally, cheer practice. Yes, my head is spinning. Yes, I am ready for bed.

We have set up some new ground rules for scheduling. Hopefully, that will head some of the craziness off at the pass. But, really I kinda' doubt it.

Three kids, two adults, a dog, a hamster, three jobs, cheer, flag football, Titans football season tickets, church, school, PTO, Book Club, and all the other things we do make scheduling a virtual nightmare. But, it's also what makes it fun.

I love organizing and scheduling. Now, I have my own personal excel spread sheet for our family.

I hope that we can find our silly shorts before next week. I hope that Keith can pull together a flag football schedule that gives more advance warning than 15 minutes. And I hope we all can get some good sleep tonight.

Because today is only Monday. We've got four more days to go. And this is hubby's birthday weekend...

And I wish all parents with more than three children the best of luck. I can't even begin to imagine...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Party Like a Rock Star!

Last night my bff & I took her niece and four of her sisters/girlfriends out on the town in Nashville to celebrate one of the girls' 21st birthday. We figured we had someone who had ushered us into "adulthood" (at least in this regard) and we wanted to help these girls have fun and be safe. So we loaded into the Suburban and headed out for the night.

In my younger days, I can remember coming home from class and/or work, having dinner, then getting ready to go out. We would finally leave around 9:00 PM. (No descent party started before 10:00 PM.) We would roll back in sometime in the wee hours of the morning- sometimes ushering in the sunrise- and fall into bed for a few quick hours of sleep before getting up for the day.

Apparently, this is still pretty much the formula used by today's young adults. My bff and I, however, have converted over to the "mommy/parent" schedule. This involves getting up before the family to race to get things done before the kids can get up and distract us with their different needs. Then we run like race horses throughout the day, cleaning, driving, delivering, picking up, cooking, working, etc, etc, until we tuck kids into bed about 8:00 PM. Then we finish up chores and fall into bed, exhausted and mind racing through tomorrow's agenda.

As the girls were getting ready last night, my bff and I's bodies were winding down. But we were excited by the prospect of going out and dancing. Though this used to be a somewhat regular occurrence, it has dwindled down to less than once a quarter, so there was a certain energy and charge from the anticipation of being out on the town.

We got a bite to eat then headed downtown. The last time bff or I went downtown several things were different than this trip. And we took for granted we would have the same experience as prior trips. Well, we didn't.
  • Last time we went, we didn't pay any cover charges; This time we paid at least $35 by the end of the night for the various bars and clubs.
  • Last time, we got carded and the doormen were nice enough to look very closely to make sure we were old enough; This time they carded the girls, then smirked and waived bff and I on through.
  • Last time we had our hubbies with us and they fawned over us and bought us drinks; This time, we were not drinking and the only guys that looked at us looked like our grandfathers, car salesmen or ancient rock stars on their spiral down hill.
  • Last time, the clubs were a blast. We found several places that played great music and had a ton of fun dancing and giggled all night; This time we didn't find really any good music, good clubs and one of the girls got $20 lifted off of her by a homeless man.
  • Last time we went out about 8:00 and got home about 12:30; This time we got down town about 9:30 and got home about 2:00.

We did get to see and do some fun things that we didn't normally get to do. We saw an entire group of Elvis Impersonators. About 20 spandex-clad Elvis, complete with sunglasses and capes, stopped various bachelorette parties and groups of friends for pictures and laughs.

And we enjoyed each other. Some of the girls even took a turn riding on a mechanical bull. (Not me!!!) We saw every walk of life- beautiful, ugly, young, old, rich, poor.

But I have to tell you, I am NOT 21 anymore. I didn't really think I was, but if there was even the tiniest lingering doubt, it was squelched forever.

My skin was tingling from exhaustion by the time I got home. I smelled awful from sweat and being around all the cigarette smoke and smoke from the smoke machines on the dance floor. My clothes were dripping wet and wrinkled from dancing. My throat hurt from screaming over music to be heard. My feet were killing me from walking and dancing (I think we walked at least 10 miles and up and down 20 flights of steps). And I was thirsty (really, probably dehydrated from sweating so much) and a little hungry.

When I got home I stood in the shower with hot water pouring down me for about 10 minutes before I even bothered with soap. And when I climbed into bed, I don't remember my head hitting the pillow- but I did manage to set my alarm for Sunday School the next day.

My bff's and I had thought we would have a huge, blow-out "girl's night out" in honor of all our 40th birthdays. After last night's adventures, we're really considering a Spa Day with champagne and shopping, then going home for a nap.

When we were 21 we thought we had the world by the tail. We imagined that you got a job, got married, had kids and then just coasted until you died. Forty was insanely old. The women looked old and acted like big prudes. If they tried to act and dress "young", they just looked sad and desperate. Forty-year-olds were supposed to stay at home and do forty-year-old things, like sew and garden and talk about money and stuff.

Last night I still felt like the 21-year-old of yesteryear. But with some different ideas of what 21 looked like, and what 40 looked like. For starters, forty is still very young and vital. Forty-year-olds don't look and act like big prudes; they are just over trying to look like tramps. And for those forty-year-olds who do try to vamp it up, they do, indeed, still look sad and desperate- but maybe even more so.

Now 21 looks like children. Some of the young men didn't even look like they were able to grow complete beards yet. The girls looked like they had gotten into their mother's make up kits and gone completely wild. And that they had shopped at the junior's department for their wardrobes and forgotten to stop by and get undergarments. Most of the girls looked like their shoes could be categorized as lethal weapons, with stiletto heels that came to long sharp points. And I felt so maternal for most of them it really creeped me out a little. I just wanted to go throw a jacket over them and take them home to their mothers.

Our girls that we took out were dressed very nicely. Their outfits were sharp and trendy without looking like they were selling themselves on the corner. Their make up was tasteful and their hair was no-fuss elegant. My bff and I, despite all efforts to the contrary, looked like PTO moms taking our girl scout troop on a field trip.

It was hard saying goodbye to a past-time that I had so much enjoyed- particularly the dancing. But, it just isn't what it was, and it never will be again. And, truthfully, I wouldn't want it to. I don't want to go back to 21. I've been there and I've had my time there.

But I've always had a personal difficulty with grieving the loss of possibility. I don't want to be 21, but it makes me sad that it's no longer an option; I don't want to have any more babies; but there's a part of me that would still like to be able to say that it's a choice. I don't have any desire to live on campus and go to college classes; but I still dream about the time when the whole world of possibility lay in front of me waiting for me to decide.

I hope the girls had fun last night. I think they did. I know they don't know what all they have. Because you can't possibly know that until you don't have it anymore.

I try very hard to appreciate every single moment. I'll never get one back that has already been. But, even now, I realize how precious that time was when the kids were small. And I know I didn't capture every single second and use it to its fullest. But that's the thing: we never can. We can only try, learn from before and hope for tomorrow.

The girls got to have a night for their right of passage. And I know they will have many more fun memories to come. And I am happy and lucky to have been able to be a part of their evening. In the end, I think they may have even taught me more than I taught them...

What Kind of Juice is That???

Today the family asked for tacos for lunch. I was overjoyed. Usually they have no opinion whatsoever except for what they don't want. And usually they voice that opinion after food has already been prepared.

I was putting together the taco meat, the beans, cheese, sour cream, etc, etc, etc, and the kids were helping set the table and pour drinks. We were quite the little family putting together our meal.

As I began stirring in the taco flavoring packet, Keith asked, "Mom, will this be the same kind of taco meat as Taco Bell?"

"Yes," I said. "I mean, I guess. It's ground beef..."

"Well, can you put the taco 'juice' in it?"

"Taco 'juice'???"

"Yeah. You know, when you bite into one of their tacos, the 'juice' squishes out. It's really good."

"Keith, do you mean salsa?"

"No, mom. It's 'juice'."

"I'm not sure I... wait... Do you mean the red 'juice' in the Taco Bell tacos?"

"Yeah! I love that stuff!"


"What?" hubby piped up.

"Keith wants 'taco juice'," I said.

"Huh? What's taco 'juice'?" hubby asked.

"The taco grease," I said, disgusted.

Hubby and I squished our noses up at each other. Keith looked from one of us to the other and asked, "What?"

"Honey, that's the grease from the ground beef. It looks red because it has that taco spice in it. The grease is not very good for you at all," I explained.

"Well, it tastes good," Keith shrugged and continued putting forks on the table.

The mere thought made my stomach turn. Yet another reason why I refuse to eat at Taco Bell: taco "juice."

There are other bi-products of food that are equally disgusting, if not more so. Top on my list is hot dog juice, which is the liquid in the package of the hot dogs. All I can think is that hot dogs are not necessarily made from the best quality cuts of meat. So, the bi-product of the liquid must be even more gross. Reminds me of when we were younger and had the "What's grosser than gross?" jokes.

The family ate together and we enjoyed the tacos as much as the company. Keith got his taco "juice," and the rest of the family passed on Keith's personal delicacy.

Now, I will admit I have not always been the most health-conscious parent. And since Keith is the first, he was subjected to terribly bad habits the longest. However, I have been making much more of an effort to incorporate healthy foods prepared in a healthy way.

Taco "juice" is, I hope, a throw-back from my less-healthy habits. I also hope that as we move forward, that taco "juice" will go the way of pop tarts for breakfast every morning, dessert at every meal (yes, even breakfast- think pastries and doughnuts) and bread or potatoes at every meal.

In fact, I am going to insist that from here on out- taco "juice" stays at Taco Bell... Now, if I can get them to eat vegetables... Is there such a thing as vegetable "juice"?...

Friday, September 12, 2008

With This Ring...

I understand that everyone comes from their own set of circumstances, their own backgrounds. So I try really hard to be sensitive to things that might be upsetting or be "trigger buttons" for someone, and avoid them, if possible.

Hubby is very sentimental about some things. He tends to hold on to furniture because it reminds him of someone, despite the fact that the piece goes with nothing in the house and that it's taking up space. He takes great pride in his yard and loves to tinker outside with various projects to beautify the property. And, with both parents deceased, he holds great reverence for things that were once theirs.

When we were dating, hubby gave me some diamond earrings that he had made for me from a ring his father had earned during his sales career. And my engagement ring's main diamond comes from a pendant his mother had.

We had our wedding rings made to match with sapphires and diamonds. And he still wears the St. Christopher medal I gave him on our first Christmas together.

So, when I began losing weight I was extremely concerned about my wedding rings slipping off of my fingers. Not only were they incredibly special to me, but to hubby they were a symbol of our relationship.

I broached the subject carefully.

"Honey, my rings are loose. I'm so afraid I'm going to lose them."


"So, I've been thinking about some options to make sure that doesn't happen."

"You mean like not wearing them? Because I don't really care if you wear them or not. You know, if you don't want to look like you're married- that's okay with me. Because I know you are!"

(Okay. So far, so good... NOT. Change direction...)

"Well, of course I'm going to wear a wedding band. You know that's important to me. I hardly ever take them off."

"So, what, you want to upgrade? Buy a bigger diamond?"


"No... "

"So should we get your rings sized smaller?"

"Uhm... well, I'm worried that will cost a lot. And I don't know how they'll look since we had the two rings soldered together for my engagement ring."

"So what do you want to do?"

"I thought about taking the diamonds and sapphires out of the settings they are in and putting them in new settings???"

"Hmph," he said and walked away, thus effectively ending the conversation.

Later on that night he came to me and reopened the subject.

"Honey, I really don't care what you wear. Really. You could wear a cigar band. The ring doesn't really matter." Awwww...

A couple of weeks later my bff invited me to private showing at Tiffany's. (Yes, Tiffany's, with the little blue boxes of sheer georgeousness!) I went with the intentions of picking up a bobble just to have my very own blue box.

I knew Tiffany's was expensive going in. But those little "bobbles" were high! I found a silver bracelet with a single charm that I thought was just the thing I wanted. However, $365 was more than I was wanting to spend.

BFF and I had a blast wandering through the store, rubbing elbows with the elite and uber-rich. We even got to be "models" in a jewelry fashion show they put on in the store. They draped beautiful jewelry on us and let us twirl around while an announcer talked about the rings, necklaces and bracelets we had on. It was quite the grande event! (And, yes, that is "grand" WITH an "e" because it was costly enough to afford the extra letter!) I think I had about $36K worth of jewelry on while I did my twirls. BFF's necklace alone was $38K.

When we got done, BFF insisted we needed to buy something to commemorate the event, our friendship, my (cough) 40th birthday, and anything else that would convince me to buy something. So, we looked and looked and looked.

As they were locking up (Literally, we closed down Tiffany's! What a hoot!) we spied a couple of understated, elegant silver rings. She fell in love with a simple single circle that had the T & Co. engraved on the side. I was drawn to a ring that was actually two circles intertwined. It had the T & Co. engraving as well, but the other side was just a beautiful, shiny silver.

I tried it on. This ring had so many things going for it, I don't even know where to begin. First of all, it was within my budget. So, that was kind of a big deal. Secondly, it was beautiful, original, like nothing I had ever seen. It was simple, elegant and didn't overpower my hand. Thirdly, I needed a size 4 1/2 in it. That was the equivalent of telling me, "Those jeans are too big on you. I really think you need a size 2." Fourthly, it was from Tiffany's. (little blue box included) Finally, it looked like a wedding band to me.

"I'll take it," I breathed happily.

BFF and I were like a couple of giddy school girls with our new rings. We felt like we had the world by a string (a Tiffany's white ribbon string, attached to a little blue box).

I got home and strutted over to hubby to let him see my wonderful new purchase. (I had used Christmas money I had saved, so all was well on the budgetary front.) He looked at it and twirled it around on my finger, examining the T & Co. and the way the bands connected.

"Why are there two rings?"

"That's how they made them. Plus, I like that they look like interlocking wedding bands."


"What do you think?"

"Are you going to wear them as a wedding band?"

"Yes... I thought you were okay with whatever I wore."

"So, you aren't going to wear my mom's diamond or the wedding band I gave you?"

"I can. But I'm afraid I'll lose them. They are too big."

"So what are you going to do with them?"

"Keep them, of course."

"But not wear them?"

"Uhm, no?" (I thought we covered that??)



"Well, if you don't want to wear the rings we gave each other when we got married..."

"Okay. Stop. You said this was OK. Is it not?"

"No, it's fine," he said with that tone that said he was pouting.


"Okay. I'm going to get ready for bed," I said, and made my escape.

Later as we were climbing into bed I stopped him.

"Okay. Look. No kidding, no being silly, no holding back. Are you OK with me wearing this as a wedding band?"

"I am fine with whatever."

"You're sure?"




"Okay," I relaxed and snuggled down into the covers.

"You know," he said in the dark, "I was thinking of having my ring re-done, too."

"Really?" I asked skeptically.

"Yes. I mean if you aren't wearing your wedding band, maybe I could wear something new, too."

I rolled over to look at him in the dark. I could see him smirking at me.

"You are a snot," I said.

"Yes, but you love me anyway," he replied, kissing me on the nose.

So I am now proudly wearing my new wedding band from Tiffany's and I love it! My original rings are tucked safely away. Unlike some of hubby's furniture choices, I will hang on to those rings. First, they are very sentimental. His family and he are laced through them in a very special way. He gave them to me. And those were the rings that the minister blessed when we were married. Secondly, they are beautiful. They look wonderful on my hand and I love watching them sparkle in the light. Finally, while I don't plan on gaining any weight back to be able to have them fit, I may take hubby up on either resizing them or resetting the stones sometime later.

Whatever he or I wear- or don't wear- we're married. And I think that's what is the most important, wonderful, thing!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Has it really been seven years? I can remember like it was yesterday. Hubby and I were taking the kids to Mother's Day Out and then going to work. I was pregnant with Amy.

When we got back in the car, the news was talking about a plane running into the World Trade Center tower. It was so unfathomable to me, I thought for sure it was a sick disc jockey trying to get attention.

The more I heard, the more it sounded real. I got a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Once we turned the channel and confirmed it was an actual event that was happening, I called dad at the church right away. He needed to know! There would be people showing up at the church just to be comforted.

When I spoke with him, he already knew. We both spoke in stunned, hushed tones. Even in the half-knowledge of what was going on that day, we understood the gravity of the situation and the need to be reverent and prayerful.

Hubby and I watched every minute of every bit of footage that could be splashed up on our television screen. Each time, the news people sensationalized the tragedy just a little more, making sure the home viewers could see the people jumping off buildings and out of windows to plummet to their deaths.

We watched as each tower fell in a puff of gray smoke and ashes. We worried about all the people. How could anyone survive? What kind of person does this? What was the government doing? Were our President and his cabinet safe? What was next?

Hubby and I sat in stunned silence. We wondered if we should pick up Keith and Emma and get them home. Rumors flew that Knoxville was a target and Atlanta was next. There was a sense of panic and confusion.

I cried. What were we doing bringing another life into this messed up, crazy world. If we went into war and we died, what would my baby be like in Heaven?

All I wanted was to gather up my children and my family and hide away. Where was God in all of this? Surely He must be mourning the wastefulness of all of this. And He must hurt to see His children in such pain.

The radio continued to talk of heroes and tragedy. The television had every analyst in the free world trying to decide what the meaning of all this was. The President looked tired. But he was strong. He spoke of safety, retaliation and prayers.

Finally one night, Keith crawled up on my lap. His big brown eyes searched mine.


"Yes, darling?" I asked, holding him tightly.

"Can we please stop watching the buildings fall on the people?"

It was like a slap in the face. My child's perspective made my stomach do flips.

We immediately snapped the television off. We haven't turned it on much sense, either.

We listened to the radio when the kids weren't around and learned that many of the people responsible were found. We heard from friends and family that were from that area. The world slowly shifted back to a safer place.

But it would never be the same. The hysteria that followed made us wonder if there was any place in the world that would ever feel safe again.

Today it has been seven years. Amy, who was still in my belly seven years ago, is obvious about her concern and compassion over what happened before she was even born.

Keith still remembers the "buildings falling on the people." Emma was so young she doesn't remember much. But, even so, she is very reverent about the subject.

I hope we will never have to see anything even remotely like this again.

I wonder if there's a next time if we will be able to avoid a World War? I think many Americans would have been in favor of an all-out war. But too many people couldn't stomach the idea of killing people for no other reason than where they live and with whom they associate.

Fortunately, we have people on both sides of the fence. One side keeps us safe the other keeps us sane.

Hopefully, together we can build a better tomorrow for Keith, Emma and Amy, their friends and their children.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bless Your Heart

I am a pure Southern girl, born and bred. I know the Beverly Hillbillies would suggest that we are a shoe-less, possum-eating, overall-wearing, uneducated bunch of hicks living off road kill and milk fresh-from-the-cow. However, that is simply not the case.

As a rule, most Southern ladies (true ladies, that is) love their fashion, their shoes, and their cuisine. Growing up in the South in the 1980's, I would say we had a way with "big hair" that rivaled the New Jersy girls. In fact, if you look at photos of different parts of the country, you will note that Southern girls still have a very distinct look: great hair, bright smiles, tanned bodies, cute clothes and great shoes. We have a fresher look than our West Coast friends, and a softer look than our NorthEastern counterparts.

Our fashion is notably different than what's in Vogue or Elle. But it's beautiful all the same.

One of the things that will always be a trademark of the South is our hospitality. We have an easy-going style that is punctuated by our accent and our unique vocabulary. Nothing says "Welcome Home" to me more than hearing, "How are ya'll today?"

Due mostly in part to the hospitality of the South, we were Politically Correct (PC) long before the term even existed. We didn't necessarily go so far as to require people to say, "That person over there has an appearance that is pleasing to me." We still say, "That girl over there sure is pretty," and no one is offended by that.

We understand that Women's Lib and Southern Hospitality can co-exist, without intruding on either side. One of the ways this is possible is by a little phrase that is as much indicative of the South as "ya'll".

Southerns can say just about anything about anyone and follow it up with, "Bless his heart," and it erases any maliciousness perceived by the preceeding conversation.

For example, an actual conversation you could hear in the South might go something like this:

"Melba and Johnny are havin' troubles again."

"Oh, I hate to hear that! Is he cheatin' again?"

"Lord, you know his is. That boy couldn't stay faithful to a woman if she shackled him to her ankle and put blinders on him, Bless his heart!"

"Oh, I know. And you know, it's not like Melba's really a looker or anything anyways. She really could wear something other than a housedress every once in a while and it wouldn't kill her. And I can't believe her sister works over at Flo's House of Hair and lets her walk around with that mess on her head she calls hair. But that don't excuse Johnny none for cheatin'. Melba's got a sweet soul, Bless her heart."

"She is just about the sweetest thing around. You hardly even notice her lazy eye or the fact that her right leg is a little longer than her left leg, Bless her heart."

"Yeah, good thing that Johnny likes her money. That should keep him around for a while. Despite his gambling' problems and his drinkin' problems, I think he truly loves that girl, Bless his heart."

See how that little phrase just erases all the "stuff" beforehand? It's the way Southerners have stayed civil for centuries.

Now, as a note, there are true instances where "Bless his Heart" means just that. When you feel genuinely bad for a person, sometime that's the only phrase that fits. And when said with reverance and sincerity, it packs a whollup.

"My mama's havin' troubles sleepin'. She's all worried about daddy and his job. Bless their hearts, they don't deserve such troubles. They are such good peoples."

It is well known that the English language is notorious for taking words and/or phrases and having multiple meanings, which are only discernable in context. As a matter of point, there is one more way that "Bless his Heart" is used in the South on a fairly regular basis: It is a substitute phrase for "He's so stupid," but it sounds nicer.

"Johnny went out four-wheelin' the other day and found him a grizzly bear up in the woods. That boy tried to get a picture of him and the bear with his cell phone. His funeral is Monday, Bless his Heart..."

The South has many fine institutions of learning, fine art centers, and other high cerebral places for high minded people. We have come a long way from "barefoot and pregnant." And a large part of that evolution is due to our phrase "Bless his Heart."

It allows us to be PC, feeling, concerned, a little catty, and extremely hospitable all at the same time. I don't know of any other culture that has all that with just three little words. That's just one of the many reasons to love the South, Bless Ya'll's Hearts...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What Day is It?

Love hubby. He is a good man. But sometimes, I must admit, he's a little thick.

Last night he came in pulling off his tie and dumping his wallet, cell phone, keys, notes, etc. on the kitchen counter. He was beat.

"What's the plan?" he asked half-heartedly.
"The girls and I are getting ready to head off to cheer," I reported, scooping up my purse and keys.


"Yes, why?"

"I didn't know you had cheer on Monday nights," he said, rolling the idea over in his mind.

I looked at him hard.

"Honey," I said, wearily, "we've had cheer every Monday night for four months. It's Monday, Tuesday and Thursday."

"Huh. I only thought it was Tuesday and Thursday," he mused.

"Nope. Well, gotta' go. Love you," I called as I bolted out the door.

As I pulled out of the driveway, my cell phone started ringing.


"Hey, it's me (hubby). What time do you get home?"

"Eight- like every time we go to cheer," I reported.

"Well, what about dinner?"

Okay- has this man not been living in our house? We have had this same routine for at least four months. And every Sunday night I review the week's activities and include this as part of my calendar. We always grab-and-go on Monday nights. There is no such thing as "dinner." I'm floored that he's having such problems grasping this.

"Well, honey," I begin. "We usually grab sandwiches and then the girls have a snack when they get home."

"Oh. Okay," he said. After a pause he asked, "So, did you fix Keith and me some dinner?"

I didn't answer.

"I guess that's a no, huh?" he asked.

"I'll see you at 8:00," I sang as I hung up.

This morning I came up with a complete calendar for the man. Then I e-mailed it to him and asked him to sync it with his calendar.

We'll see if he remembers cheer tonight... After all, it is Tuesday...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Clean Up Your Act

The inevitable happened this weekend: Amy ate soap.

It was an ugly, ugly thing. But we all knew that one day she would have to pay the piper. And the piper was officially paid Friday afternoon.

On the way home from school, Amy was so keyed up that she bit her cousin. I was incredulous. I couldn't really believe she did it. She's in FIRST GRADE!!!

Keith immediately sent up the flair: "Amy bit my cousin. She gets soap in her mouth. And she loses television for a week. And she has to sleep in her own room for a month."

(Remind me never to make Keith mad...)

I tried to regain some control. No dice. Finally, we dropped of cousin and headed for home, Keith and Amy waging war in the back seat.

When I stopped the car in the driveway, I sat quietly until Amy and Keith took a breath and realized we were no longer moving and I was looking at them. Keith went for the kill.

"Mom, you said if Amy bit again she would get soap in her mouth..."

"No she didn't. She keeps the soap for if the bathroom doesn't have any," Amy ventured.

Emma stayed quiet in the very back as if to say, "I am not involved. I have a slumber party for which I need to get ready. I could not care less as to how this evolves. Let me know if you need me. I'll be over here."

"Let's talk inside, Amy. Keith, thank you for your concern. I think I've got it from here," I said firmly.

Once inside I got eye-level with Amy. "Amy, did you bite your cousin?"

Her bottom lip poked out and huge tears pooled in her eyes. She nodded slightly. Then she wailed, "I'm sorry, mommy! I promise I won't do it again. I'm really sorry!" She continued to sob and suck in air.

I looked at her with compassion and asked, "Amy, if I promised you I would take you out for ice cream and I didn't, what would you think?"

She puzzled and cried simultaneously. "I-would-be-mad," she puffed out.

"Yes. You would be. I would have lied to you. You wouldn't trust me, would you?"

"No," she sobbed, "Are we getting ice cream?"

"No," I shook my head. "I told you if you bit or said bad things, I would wash your mouth out with soap to make it clean, didn't I?"

"Yes, but mommy please don't. I'm really sorry!" she begged.

"Yes, I know you are. And I appreciate your apology. I believe you are sincere. But Amy, if I didn't put soap in your mouth now I would be lying to you. And you couldn't trust me."

She tried to come up with an argument, but she's smart and she knew she'd been out-smarted. If she could have I feel certain she would have said, "Well, crap." But she knew she'd get extra soap for that. So she settled for a huge sigh.

I went to my purse and got out the Warm Vanilla Sugar she had selected a couple of weeks prior. I unscrewed the top and poured a scant amount on my finger.

She was in full-tilt emotional mess phase. But she stood her ground, and bravely held out her tongue.

I swiped her tongue with the liquid soap. (Note: liquid soap stays around longer than bar soap in the mouth. Makes a longer impression. Emma's biting phase ended abruptly after having tried bar soap and moved to liquid soap.)

Amy spat and rubbed her tongue fiercely with her hand. She ran to the kitchen and got water, which activated the liquid soap and bubbles even more. For a full ten minutes, she looked like I did when I accidentally sprayed perfume in my mouth instead of on my wrist (long story).

Finally, she settled down, quit crying and composed herself.

"Mommy, I am very sorry I bit. I promise I won't do it again," she said somberly.

"Thank you, sweetie. I know you won't. And I know you won't say ugly things, either. Thank you for being such a big girl," I answered.

The rest of the weekend has gone without a hitch. In fact, that night she stayed at BFF's house instead of in the midst of Emma's slumber party.

BFF called at 9:30 that night to report that Amy was the most perfectly behaved child she had ever seen. Now- I am so glad that she behaves well for others. And I attribute some of the "above & beyond" angelic behavior to soap. But, I would be lying if I didn't say that there's a little part of me that gets really put out that she can be so good for others and act like a demonically possessed poltergeist at home.

I guess I'll take what I can get. And, she definitely believes me when I tell her a consequence now. But, I'm still carrying the soap in my purse, just in case...

Mr. Clean's Chart

I think I made a deal with the devil this afternoon. I negotiated allowance terms with my kids. They combed through each detail like professional lawyers on a case for a pre-nup loophole search. I don't know the last time I heard so many If/Then statements...

But, it's done. And now I have some amunition to keep someone else on top of housework besides me. We'll see how long it lasts. But to squeeze a little more juice out of the project, I put up a chart on the refrigerator with the promise of stars.

They are as programmed as they come to be goal-oriented, competitive little people. The idea of a sibling earning more stars than himself/herself makes each child squirm.

AND I also get the added bonus of being able to say, "You know, I think you should pay for that with YOUR money..." Killer bonus, huh?

Tonight, the chart was clear and void of any stars. Tomorrow, I'll begin to poke the bear a little and see if I can get a rise out at least one of them. After the first star, the race is on.

I get a clean house, a money escape clause, and the kids get a sense of pride in their work and begin learning the value of a dollar. Sounds like a great thing, doesn't it? What could possibly go wrong?

Well--- I'll let you know...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Morning After

My poor, poor dog is laying in an exhausted puddle on the couch. She was the main attraction for my 9 year-old's slumber party. Every child wanted to hold her. She was passed around all night long, and sometimes even tugged in several different directions. Through it all, she was a good sport and allowed the nine 8 & 9 year-olds to pet, tug and "love" on her all night long.

My 9 year-old had a blast! She and her friends had a slumber party. First, let me say that "slumber party" is a complete misnomer! There was little to no "slumber" involved. In fact, I think the main goal was anti-slumber. Regardless, they had fun.

The theme this year was "Chinese New Year." So we had fruit set out to munch on while we ordered Chinese take-out. Then we had Chinese buffet, complete with chop sticks. We had present-opening. We decorated flip flops, then it was time for "sweet sushi."

Sweet Sushi is made with rice crispy treats, fruit roll ups, twizzlers, zingers and twinkies. The girls smashed and rolled and smushed until we had cute little sushi rolls, worthy of Martha Stewart (well, almost). We stuck a candle in a twinkie roll and sang "Happy Birthday," complete with "cha-cha-cha's."

I settled the kids to watch Loonie Tunes. As awful as it is, none of the kids (save mine) had watched Loonie Tunes. They had a vague idea of whom Bugs Bunny was. But they had no clue about Yosimite Sam or Marvin the Space Martian. What kind of sad world do we live in that children aren't raised on Loonie Tunes??? I, for one, am doing my part to change that. Starting with Emma's slumber party...

I finally trudged upstairs and got ready for bed around midnight. I stood at the top of the stairs a couple of times issuing warnings and threats for the noise level. Finally, all was quiet.

Until 6:00 AM. Emma has some friends who are apparently very early risers. I got breakfast going and the girls continued to play and have fun.

From 9:30 - 11:30 friends started leaving. Each girl was hugged tightly and all the girls left behind called after them, "Goodbye! I wish you didn't have to leave!"

Over-all, I would say it was a complete success.

Keith spent the night with his cousin, and thus avoided the insane amounts of estrogen in our house. Amy went to Hannah's house, so to not be banished to her room for the night by the "big" girls. Only hubby and I (and the dog and the hamster) were left to fend for the house against Emma and her friends.

Keith and Amy both (independently) offered gifts to Emma this morning (her actual birth day). Keith had made a great card. Amy gave her some toys she knew Emma liked, and even some toys that were already Emma's. But Emma was gracious and thanked them both profusely.

This afternoon we are trying to recover a little before we head off to another birthday party and then a wedding. Tomorrow we have church, hubby has a football game, then it's time for the family birthday party for Emma.

By the time this weekend is over, the dog will, hopefully, have recovered. For now, we're leaving her alone on the couch- very happy to be by herself.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mommy Power!

Quick addendum to last post:

Why am I the only one in the entire house that knows how to operate an alarm??? Yes, I suppose I could put down my foot & say "forget it! you are on your own!"

But, truly, it would be more trouble than it's worth. You see, if they woke themselves up-- well, it just wouldn't happen...

My parents instilled in me a healthy fear of discipline- from them or other authority figures. Some days I think I've done a pretty good job on that with my kids. Then on mornings when I roll out of bed to get EVERYONE up (yes, even hubby) I think I haven't done a thing.

Don't get me wrong- my kids go ape if they think they might be tardy. But they haven't connected the dots yet to see how what time they get up directly impacts their ability to be on time. You can lead a horse to water... Right?

And you know what? As long as I'm griping- how come I'm the only one who can manage to put the dishes the 12 1/2 inches from the sink to the dishwasher? Do I have some special wave length that makes the vacuum cleaner work that no one else has? Do the children really believe that the food on the counter will magically grow legs and help themselves back up into the pantry? Why am I the only one who can plan and make dinner? (Left to their own devices, they would either have pizza, fast food or cereal for every meal- I'm not kidding. I did an "experiment" once and that's exactly what happened.)

I can tell when I'm not around for a while. I must give him "props", hubby does a magnificent job of keeping the house tidy. But not necessarily clean. And certainly not "organized."

"Honey, where did you put the hair brush?"

"The black one sitting on the counter?"


"Uhmmm. I don't know... I remember seeing it when I was 'cleaning' (aka: stashing stuff into corners to make the room look neat). But I don't remember where I put it... Did you try Keith's clothes hamper?"

Fortunately, no one seems to mind the permanent state of pandemonium that comes with living in our house. The "yuck" seems to come in waves- we do a massive clean up for a particular event (a birthday party, a cook out) and then it slowly piles back up until the next time we believe that other people than our family may grace our door step.

So- if I don't go get every one up NOW, we may be dressing in the car on the way to school...

Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Mystery Ailment

Our home is full of secret and mystery. In fact, I just learned this myself over the last little while. I mean, I did suspect something. But I could have never imagined the truth until I found it out for myself.

Apparently, the city water gets additives put in it that come in to our homes. I don’t know if it is a derivative of something else, or if it’s intentional. But it’s the only explanation I have for everything in my house. And my friends have complained about similar situations in their home, too.

When children are first born, they don’t have enough of – whatever it is – built up in their systems, yet. They are eager to learn and try new things. They enjoy independence and strive to make their own way.

However, as the children age, a build up of this – stuff – (which I will call “can’t”) actually penetrates their immune systems and takes hold. Then the “can’t” runs rampant in their bodies, getting worse with age.

My son, Keith, had a nasty break out of it this morning. I asked him to go get his allergy medicine, and he looked at me blankly. I pushed a little harder. Finally, he responded, “I can’t.”

I was curious about this break out. I couldn’t pin point the catalyst for it. So, I started investigating.

“Why ‘can’t’ you?” I queried.

Keith made his eyes big, splayed his hands out, pulled his shoulders up to his ears and said, “I don’t know where it is.”

“Oh, that’s easy to fix,” I sighed with relief. Maybe the cure was easy enough… “It’s in the cabinet, honey. Why don’t you get it, please?”

“I can’t,” he repeated. Oh my. A relapse so quickly…

“Why?” I asked.

“I can’t reach,” he explained.

“Really?” I asked, surprised. Keith is almost as tall as I am. “Huh,” I puzzled as I reached up in the cabinet and pulled out the medicine.

“Well, here you go,” I handed it to him and resumed my lunch-making project.

“Can you get me some milk?” Keith asked, still holding the bottle of allergy medicine.

“Well, I’m working on your lunch. Can you get yourself some, please?”

“I can’t,” he replied, assuming the same stance as before. Wow. This little virus just does not give up, does it?
“Why, honey?” I asked.

“I don’t have a glass,” he said, playing with the bottle.

“Can you please get one?” I asked, smearing peanut butter across a piece of bread.

“I can’t reach,” Keith complained again.

“There’s some in the dishwasher. The dishes are clean,” I responded, gesturing with my peanut butter-laden knife.

“I can’t pour my milk,” Keith continued.

“Why?” I asked, sort of exasperated.

“It’s too heavy,” he replied.

Deep, heavy sigh. “Okay, here you go,” I said as I whipped out a glass, slung in some milk and stuffed the carton back in the refrigerator.

Hubby came down stairs.

“Honey, can you get me the stuff off of the printer in the office?” he called as he strode across the den.

“Me?” I asked, since I was standing on the other side of the house from the office, and he had just passed the office.

“Yeah,” he said, with a tone that said, “DUH.”

“Well, I’m fixing the kids’ lunches. Could you grab it?”

“I can’t,” he replied. “I’m running late.”

I threw the sandwich into the baggie, into the lunch box, zipped the lunch box, set it by the back pack and walked quickly to the office. There was no paper on the printer.

“Honey, it’s not here,” I called.

“Oh. Can you print it out again for me?”

“What is it?”

“That letter we talked about.”

“Okay. Could you print it out while I brush Emma’s hair? Then I’ll bring it out to you?” I asked.

“I can’t. I have to leave right now,” he said, rushed.

“Okay,” I sighed. This bug was completely out of control. It had taken over my entire family!

Amy climbed up in my lap while I was trying to find the document on the computer.

“Amy, please get down so mommy can get this for daddy,” I asked.

“I can’t,” Amy replied.

“Yes, you can. And I need you to put on your shoes, please,” I countered.

“No, I can’t. Will you help me?”

“As soon as I finish printing this off for daddy.”

Gracious day and stars and ketchup! Is there no relief from this awful “can’t” virus??? Is there no cure???

Apparently, the virus is pretty wide-spread and affects almost every area of everyday living. It makes children unable to take baths, brush their teeth, clean their rooms, put dirty clothes in the dirty clothes hamper, eat their vegetables, clear the table, finish their homework, mow the grass, turn off the television when asked, write thank you notes, and the list goes on and on.

It makes husbands unable to complete simply household chores*. (*Note: sometimes a strain of “can’t” comes along that allows hubby to do the chores, but makes him unable to restrain himself from telling you what a hard job it was and how much you should appreciate it.) It makes husbands unable to work a phone to call you back, sort out whites and colors for the washing machine, watch TV without holding the remote control at all times, or go into Lowe’s or Home Depot without purchasing a minimum of $30.00. It also makes them unable to pay a service repair man for the initial problem, therefore costing much more when he comes to fix that problem, plus any that hubby added trying to “fix” it.

From what I can tell, the only person(s) immune to this virus is mom. Mostly because, like any other illness, we just don’t have time for it! There have also been rare cases of dads who are able to remain resistant.

I would bring this to the medical community’s attention, but I’m afraid they would end up naming the virus after us, as they usually do for all new discoveries- good and bad. At the same time, though, I hate to be responsible for a delay in the discovery of the cure.

But, alas, I seem to have not washed my hands enough after being around the kids and hubby. Why, you ask? Well… because I can’t…

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Old Enough

Amy's teacher contacted me last week to discuss a concern she had. Apparently Amy and another little girl were stirring up trouble in the entire First Grade by talking about dating and boyfriends and who was dating whom.

Long story short, Amy got the whole class completely out of sorts when she said she was going to go to the movies with a particular boy. The class was disturbed because they were under the impression that another little boy was her boyfriend.

Yes- I did say FIRST GRADE. The teacher tried to be understanding, but I still couldn't help but feel like she was thinking, "What on earth are you teaching this child???"

And I thought back, "Gee, I have no idea. Have you MET Amy??? It's not like I really teach this child anything. She finds it allllll on her own!"

I sat down with Amy and began with a sigh- the way I expect I will began many conversations with her over the course of her lifetime.

"Amy," I began, "did you and some of your friends talk about going to the movies with some boys?"

"Yeah- but we decided not to," she said nonchalantly.

"Okay, good. Because you are a little young to be dating, don't you think?" (Always better for her to think it's her idea...)

"Yes," she agreed. "I really don't want to be tied down this young."

I sighed again.

"I think some of the girls were concerned that they were too young to date and that their parents would be upset," I ventured.

"Plllbffff. Yeah, I know. Leeah is SO dramatic!" she proclaimed.

I sighed again.

"So, we don't need to talk about dating anymore at school, okay?"

"Oh, no. I won't. I told my teacher I was sorry that it had interrupted her class."

Wow. Okay. Didn't see that one coming.

"Well, that was very thoughtful, Amy. I'm proud of you," I praised.

"Yeah, I know," she said, studying the bottom of her shoe.

I went on about my life assuming this case was closed- at least for a while.

Then while we were up visiting in Illinois, I overheard her talking to Hannah about the whole thing. She told the story pretty much as I understood it. But this time, she had added a new ending:

"So, I know I'm too young to date and go to the movies and stuff like that," she said. "So, I think I'll wait until next semester..."

I sighed... And then e-mailed the teacher to give her the head's up...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Over the Line

Today proved to be the day that was just over the line. The kids and I had gone to Illinois with BFF and her kids. Hubby went to S.C. for a car show (I'm not kidding). And we were going on approximately hour number 125 of being with the kids 24 hours a day.

BFF is so easy-going with her kids. I sound like a drill sergeant compared to her soft, polite urging or her oh-so-enthusiastic pep talks. Her kids seem to always look at me like, "Wow, she's crazy."

While in the car on the road from Illinois to Tennessee the kids did a fairly good job of entertaining themselves. However, none had enough sleep over the weekend. And all were at the point of being around each other just a little too much. Keith was barking at the kids to try to get them to do whatever he wanted them to do. Emma sat quietly in the back, only once saying that she really would like for Hannah to quit imitating her. Amy sang along to every song that she knew. Hannah sang and watched Emma carefully out of the corner of her eye. And Thomas played his video game non-stop, much to BFF's chagrin.

A small-scale war broke out over a box of Chocolate Peanut Butter Corn Pops. Okay- first of all, ewwww. C&PB Corn Pops??? Seriously??? Certainly this fits nowhere into the food pyramid- unless things have changed A LOT since I studied it. Secondly, the kids had no rules what-so-ever when it came to food since they had been at BFF's mom's house, and Grammie refused to let her grandbabies (or their friends) have a mili-second of unhappiness. So, for anyone to dictate the eating habits of another was futile and unwarranted.

"Mooooooooom," Amy sang in her best tattle-tale voice. "Keith won't let me have the Chocolate Peanut Butter cereal stuuuuuuuffffff..."

I was driving the car, and could not turn around to give Keith the hairy eyeball. He was directly behind me and trying desperately to ignore me.

I grabbed a Cheez-it from my stash and winged it over my back shoulder. Keith yelped.

"What was that for?" he asked, offended.

"GIVE AMY THE CEREAL NOW!" I demanded, tired and aggravated to have to moderate yet another stupid argument.

"But, we're just about to eat dinner," he protested.


"No, ma'am," he mumbled, handing over said cereal.

I growled and grumbled some more as BFF snickered.

"Stop laughing," I warned. "Or I'll throw a Cheez-it at you, too."

Now she laughed out loud.

"Okay, fine," I groused. "Next time YOU can be the warden."

"No," she replied cheerfully, "You seem to have it all under control."

Realizing the delicate balance of loving mom and OCD crazy person, I addressed Keith:

"Honey, I appreciate your trying to help. But really, I have it. 'Kay?"

"Yes, ma'am," came the forced reply from behind me.

I sighed. Maybe tomorrow will be better- after we all get some rest, I thought as I pinched the bridge of my nose.

BFF turned and looked at Hannah & Thomas.

"You two need to quit eating now. We're going to have dinner soon."

Keith sighed, exasperated, behind me.

"Thanks," I hissed under my breath at BFF.

"No problem," she replied cheerfully, as she smiled like the cat who just ate the canary.

"Hey, Hannah, Thomas?" I called behind me.

"Yes?" they responded.

"Let's call Grammie and tell her that Mommy is breaking the rule of 'no food rule'."

BFF turned and looked at me, eyes narrowed.

"You wouldn't," she challenged.

"Okay!" Hannah & Thomas called out happily.

It was my turn to look to her and smile smugly.

"Oh, my bad," I said, very insincerely.

"Okay- EVERYONE- let's put up the food for right now. We'll eat dinner in about 3o minutes," she called, still glaring at me.

She was met with a mixture of groans and mumbles. But the cereal got put away.

I smiled as I drove, watching the road.

BFF glared at me some more, then threw a Cheez-it at me.

"Hey!" I yelped. "What's that for?"

"You cheated," she pouted. "I'm supposed to be the good mommy."

"Huh," I retorted. "I think you just wanted them to eat all the cereal so you didn't have to take home that gross stuff."

She smiled up sheepishly. "Yeah, okay. You got me."

"Hey," I said. "Let's 'accidentally' pitch it in the trash when we get to dinner."

"Deal!" she said enthusiastically and smiled.

We were almost home...