Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Fought the Lawn and the Lawn Won

This evening, when the sun was beginning to set and it was finally cooling down, I went out to cut the lawn. Unfortunately, we only had the push mower at our disposal, so that's what I had to use. As I surveyed the yard, I determined the back yard was in much greater need of a trim than the front yard, so I decided to start there.

I began by mowing the corners and the edges. Then I made long sweeping passes in a circular motion. After the first two sweeps, I giggled at myself thinking I was driving in circles just like Danika Patrick in NASCAR. However, by the fourth sweep, I was quite winded and readily admitted that other than having dark hair and going in a circular motion, I was nothing like Danika Patrick. By the fifth sweep, I had to stop and catch my breath.

You know when you begin to hyperventilate and you start feeling like your head and extremities are kind of "sparkly"? I had that in spades. I looked out over my progress, seeing a mass of tall-ish grass in the middle of our yard. I wondered if I could just leave the yard as it was and tell the kids I did it on purpose so they could play a game.

After resting long enough to have the sparkles stop, I got up and started again. After three sweeps, the circles were getting smaller. But it really wasn't getting the job done fast enough. At that point I started dreaming of having a contractor come out and dig up the whole back yard, pave it and paint it green.

Then on the next pass, I quit breathing again. Oh my gosh, this was the most grueling thing I had done in forever.

I had a brain storm. Forget the YMCA membership. Forget the exercise videos. I could be a trainer. Then, I could charge people to come for a "work out" and pay me to cut my grass.

When it was done, I was glad to have it look so nice. I was a little discouraged because I knew that next week, I would have to start all over again. And I didn't even get to the front yard yet.

Never have I been so grateful for a shower. I put on my comfy pj's and climbed into bed. I took some ibuprofen because I know I'm going to feel like death-warmed over tomorrow. And I know I'll have to finish the front yard, too...

...Unless I can talk hubby into paving the yard for me... Hey, you never know...
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

All of Me

When hubby & I stood in front of a congregation of people in 1992 and vowed to love and care for each other for better, for worse, etc., we promised to love all of each other. Over the years, "all" of us has grown- and not just spiritually/emotionally. Unfortunately, we've also "blossomed" in our physical bodies, as well.

Today, hubby & I sat down with a "New Day: New Me" plan. We talked about how we would eat and how we would exercise. We planned everything out on a calendar and I began working on a spread sheet. We were going to do this thing!

So tonight we weighed ourselves after our first day of our diet.

The big reveal.

Hubby had already lost 2 pounds! Yea!

Of course, I expected he would lose faster than me; He's a man.

My turn.

I had...


Oh. My. Gosh.

I guess now hubby gets to love "all of me" even more...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Clean Room is a Sign of a Boring Person

Are there some traits and habits we are simply born with? I would have said I could go either way on that. But then I had Amy.

Amy is inherently messy. Like Pigpen from Peanuts, she is a cloud of mess. And she leaves a trail behind her like breadcrumbs. Wherever she takes off her shoes, there they sit. Her clothes are in a puddle right where she stepped out of them. I know what she had for lunch, because I can follow her cheese wrappers, apple core, juice box and bits of bread all the way out of the kitchen.

When Keith was a toddler we allowed food and beverages in other rooms besides the kitchen. That was until we found a sippy cup in his toy bin with milk in it. I guess I should really say "milk glob" because it had spoiled and congealed into a big smelly lump. Immediately we had a new house rule: no food or drinks outside of the kitchen/dining room.

This, I know, has kept us out of a world of trouble concerning Amy and her habits. I have visions of having all manners of bugs and creatures making a home in her room amongst her cast off sandwiches, soda cans, etc. If only I could convince her that containing a mess in the kitchen does not necessarily make it okay.

When she has wanted to go play with a friend badly, and been required to clean her room beforehand, she has been known to stash clean, folded clothes in her dirty clothes hamper. And I have found her toothbrushes in her shoe bin, the cat's food bowl, and the back seat of the car.

Don't get me wrong, I adore Amy. She is vivacious, funny, smart and generous. And I don't know that she enjoys messes. I think she just doesn't want to take a millisecond away from enjoying herself.

We are working on this. She sees the benefit of being organized to be able to find things- even if she doesn't want to take the time to do it. And she has a huge phobia of bugs. So she totally gets not keeping things around that bugs will want to come find.

She's eight. So I figure I have about nine or ten years to get her to change her messy ways before she goes off to college- so that she can be messy without me telling her she has to clean up after herself. In the meantime, we'll be a work in progress...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Living Loud

I always thought that when you were young your hearing was infinitely better than when you were, say, my age. However, I have recently began to rethink this theory.

Yesterday I mentioned my son's love for absolutely awful music- most of it rap. What I haven't touched on was the fact that he really only listens to it at a volume that can shatter glass.

Anything less than that and he says, "Mom, I can't hear it."

"Really? You can't hear that? Because the governor of Kentucky called and asked you to turn it down."

"Ha. Ha. Very funny, Mom." He replies with curled lip.

But it's not just his gosh-awful music that he wants to be loud. When he watches television, he pushes the sound through the stereo system AND the television. During fight scenes I'm tempted to duck and take cover because it sounds like the calvary has landed in my living room and are getting ready to storm the beach.

The thing that sets my teeth on edge most is the cartoon shows that he watches (loudly). All the characters talk in a high-pitched dopey voice that even make our dog squint. After one show I've got a major headache started and I'm telling him to turn it down or turn it off.

"That's not fair," he scoffs. "Emma and Amy get to watch whatever they want."

"Yes, but their shows have voices that register in a much lower octave. And they can watch their shows at a lesser volume. And, if it makes you feel better, I hate their shows, too. Their volume just doesn't annoy me as much."

"Fine." He snaps the tv off. "I guess I'll just sit here and watch the blank screen."

"Whatever makes you happy, Drama Boy."

"I'm not Drama Boy! The girls are far more dramatic than me!"

"Okay," I say.

After about 30 seconds of silence, Keith loses it. "Mom, can I please watch tv?"

"I never said you couldn't. I just asked you to turn it down."

"But I can't hear it. And if I can't hear it I might as well not watch it."

"Okay," I say again.

He only lasts 15 seconds this time. "Mom!"


"Please can I watch tv?"

"I. Said. Yes." I repeat slowly.

"With the volume up?"

I glare at him and sigh to show my displeasure. "Fine. I'll go upstairs and do some laundry."

"Don't go!" Keith says quickly. "I want you to sit by me."

I chuckle. "Keith," I say shaking my head, "I don't want to be assaulted by your whiny characters and listen to them fight ninja invaders from another planet at seventy seven thousand decibels."

"Mom!" Keith scoffs. "Barkly the Talking Dog and the Ninja Warriors from Planet Zircon are not in the same show. Duh."

"Okay. Well, if it's all the same to you, I really don't want to watch any of it. Maybe we could watch a movie together? How about Get Smart?"


We sit side by side and turn on the movie. Immediately the subwoofer in my stereo begins getting a work out.

"Keith, please, honey, turn it down."

"But I can't hear it."

"Maybe you need to go to the doctor."

"For what?"

"Your hearing," I say, exasperated.

"I hear just fine."

"Then why can't you turn the tv down, and your music down, and your computer down and, your I-pod down?"

"Because I want to make sure I hear everything. I don't want to miss any of the 'small' noises."

"Honey, at this volume, I don't see how you breathe well."

"Okay. I have a small confession to make. I actually like everything loud to drown out Amy."

I raise an eyebrow at him. I can sympathize just a little bit.

"But you are making your poor mother crazy. Please, please, humor me. Turn it down," I shout above the television.

He turns it down. I unbunch my shoulders and take a deep breath. We start watching the movie. Ahhhh... finally...

About that time, Amy starts singing - loudly - to her music upstairs. Keith and I look at each other. He has a distinct "I told you so" look on his face. Amy gets louder.

"Fine. Turn it back up," I concede, already rubbing my temples.

But hey, that's what they make Tylenol for, right?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Keys, My Car

My son, Keith, bless him, is a precious, precious boy. However, he is officially a teen, and by definition requires that the entire world revolve around him. He is actually very thoughtful of others- by teenaged standards, or anyone else's for that matter...

He does have this "thing" that drives me up the wall though: he must have music playing 24/7 and it must be his music.

He has a computer, an I-pod touch, a cell phone and a stereo, all which play music. But that is not enough, it seems. He must also commandeer my car. And it's not enough to listen to the horrific junk that comes from the radio. No. He must also immediately eject all my CD's from my CD player upon entering the vehicle.

Today I called him on it. "Son, please leave my CD player alone."

"But you like Michael Buble'!" (pronounced as though he had just eaten a bite of raw chicken)

"Yes, as a matter of fact I do."

"Why can't we listen to your CD player? My favorite CD is (I'm paraphrasing) The Black Hole of Death that plays, what can be termed loosely as, music, which is actually just one note and one word played over and over again, specifically designed to make parents insane." Keith slumped down into his seat and frowned at the car in front of us.

"Um. No. How about you listen to the radio?"


"Okay... How about your I-pod touch?  With your earbuds?"

"That's so not fair! You always get to listen to what you want!"

"Oh, child. If you only knew..." I sighed. "I'm sorry I just really, really can't listen to The Black Hole of Death."

"Why? They're awesome!"

"Well, that's debatable."

"You just have no taste," he sniffed.

"Well, you are out of road." I pulled to our destination, stopped the car and let him out to go into the building.

Then I turned on my Michael Buble' and sang at the top of my lungs. I half-way hoped someone would stop me and ask me whose mother I was just so I could tell them that I was Keith's mother and that sometimes he listened to Michael Buble' in the car with me, too.

After I calmed down a bit, I turned on The Black Hole of Death and chanted along with their female-bashing lyrics and danced all the way to the store. After all, it is my car... Right?

Monday, June 7, 2010

When "Free" Ain't "Free"

So, occasionally I get coupons for free movies. Now, Red Box is only $1 a night. But really, how do you beat "free"?

Tonight I got a coupon on my phone. Keith and I were excited to go get our "free" movie, which almost always costs me more than it would have if I had just purchased it due to late fees from forgetting to turn it back in.

We went to the first Red Box, and low-and-behold it was broken. Being a problem-solver by nature, I called the 1-800 number on the box to see if they could remotely fix the problem. After being on eternal hold for long enough to hear their "commercial" loop six times, I finally got Ron. Ron was very kind, but could not fix the box.

Ron gave me a "free" movie rental for my trouble, though. Now we had two "free" movies, and no movie.

Next, we went to the Red Box in McDonald's, determined to get a stupid movie for "free." There was a line at this Red Box that was five people deep. I was ready to leave; Keith was not deterred.

The first people in front of the screen were like those people who only come out of the house once a year. They poured over the selections like they were studying for a test. In the end, they threw their hands up and left with no movie.

The second group had found "free" coupon codes online. They kept punching in codes, never actually getting a "free" movie. They left with a movie, happy anyway.

The next two were only returning movies, but seemed to have quite a few difficulties inserting the movie correctly. Keith did an excellent job of not ripping it out of their hand(s) and doing it for them.

Finally, it was our turn. We began making our selection. We scrolled through once quickly, then hit "go back to start" to put our movie "in our cart."

Suddenly, the computer shut down. The DOS screen came up and the cursor blinked. Then Windows flashed on the screen. Keith and I were laughing hysterically at this point.

Then, sadly, the error message from Red Box appeared on the screen. "This is temporarily out of order. We apologize for your inconvenience." Really?

So, now our score is: Two "Free" coupons for Red Box movies, Two Red Box stations, No movies.

Keith tried to convince me to stop at a third Red Box. I said, "Uhm, no. Not gonna' happen. If we have a third one break while we're around it, we may be banned from Red Boxes- no matter how many 'free' coupons we have."

So, we went home and watched some shows we had recorded on our DVR.

Maybe tomorrow we'll try our "free" coupons again...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Curiosity Kills the Cat- or the Hamster

As a parent, there are times that the situation calls for you to be very serious and a strict disciplinarian. But all you really want to do is laugh really hard and possibly even be a little impressed with your child's ingenuity.

When Amy was little we had a cat named Cocoa. Cocoa was a very good cat overall. She tolerated Amy dressing her up in doll clothes- when Amy could catch her. And she even allowed Amy to lay on top of her.

At some point, Amy decided she wanted a dog. Hubby, in his ultimate wisdom, told Amy that we couldn't get a dog until we didn't have the cat. Any mother will tell you that you must give more perimeters to such a statement, or your children's little imaginations will take it and run.

A day or two later, I saw poor Cocoa come streaking through the den, mad and wet. I followed the water trail back to the bathroom, where Amy proclaimed she was trying to get rid of the cat so we could have a dog- by flushing Cocoa down the toilet. She truly did not mean to hurt the cat. She merely used her problem-solving skills to come up with a way to get a dog.

This story has become legend  in our family and amongst friends. I imagined it could never be topped. This weekend it was.

A friend of ours has a very cute, precocious young boy, (I'll call him Bobby) with too much intelligence for his own good. He has been known to pick locks like Houdini in order to escape and go play with friends. He also has done many other things that will ultimately make his parents gray at a very early age- if they are able to keep from pulling all their hair out.

Bobby's sisters had hamsters, whom they loved very much. Bobby loved playing with them, too. But he was always looking for how things work and how to entertain himself.

Apparently, one of the sister's hamsters wound up in Bobby's closet, nesting happily in a pile of his clothes and toys. The rodent was only found after discovering a trail of hamster pellets that led the family to the closet.

The other sister's hamster was not nearly as fortunate. Bobby needed to know if hamsters could swim. And he had a fascination with the toilet and how things seemingly disappeared into a circular water slide. Hamster Number Two met his untimely death by being sucked down into Bobby's toilet. The rodent is gone.

Now, when my friend told me this, I understood inherently that I was supposed to be shocked and appalled. That is no way to treat animals. They are not supposed to be harmed in any way by us humans, who have taken them on as pets, and should treat them kindly.

However, I had to slap my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing. Why? Because it is so surreal and so dang funny. NOT that the hamster died, of course! But that this little blond ball of cute boy so innocently wanted to see how the toilet worked. And that he was able to retrieve the hamster undetected. And that the hamster didn't just swirl around the bowl- but actually was sucked down, not to be found ever again.

My poor friend. I feel her pain. Amy -and hubby and I- will never live down poor Cocoa (who is now happily living on a farm and chasing mice to her heart's content). My friend, her hubby and Bobby will never live down "the Great Hamster Event of Summer 2010."

I think my friend is getting Bobby's sister a replacement hamster- and a lock for sister's door.

Bobby got in big, fat trouble. But he's exactly the kind of kid who grows up to build priceless inventions. At least, I hope...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

You Can't Get Married Without My Children

I'm in a grumpy mood tonight? Why?

I just came back from a beautiful wedding. It was an outdoor venue set in a beautiful garden.

The service was lovely. The bride was exquisite. The food was scrumptious.

So, what's the problem?

Well, all of the invitations contained the specific request by the bride and groom that no children would attend. Hubby and I made the effort to find child care for our kids and went to the wedding.

When we got there, we were more than a little shocked to find that apparently we were the only ones who respected the couple's wishes. They had all brought their children- of all ages- anyway.

How rude!

I guess they decided that if, as a guest, they had decided to honor the bride and groom with their presence, and bring a gift for them, that they had the right to ignore their specific instructions.

I am completely over people and their sense of entitlement! (That belief that the world must revolve around them, and that whatever they deem to be acceptable to float around in their universe was okay. All else must shuttle off to some other dimension.)

It's not just at weddings, either. It's the man who cuts people off in traffic because he feels like his business is more important than anyone else's, so he has every right to cut in front of everyone else. Or the woman who believes her home, food, car, schooling, health insurance and everything else should be paid for by the government- indefinitely- just because she had a baby.

They go hand-in-hand with the people who believe that nothing could ever be their fault. "I killed my friend because my dad beat me." Oh, well, okay. That makes total sense, and I think you should totally be excused. NOT!

Some years ago, a woman spilled hot coffee in her lap and sued McDonald's. It created a landslide of stupid people who continue to blame the world for their stupidity. And now it's filtered down to the fact that nothing is anyone's fault anymore, and everyone is entitled to whatever they desire just because they breathe air.

When I got home after the wedding I gave my kids a couple of hugs each. I told them how much I appreciated them allowing mommy and daddy to go to the wedding and how sorry I was they didn't get to go.

They shrugged it off and said it was no big deal. They were actually happy they didn't have to go.

You know what? I bet all the kids at that wedding probably felt that same way. But their moms and dads taught them that the world owed them this wedding because they were cute, or funny, or just because they were the son or daughter of their parents.

Maybe the bride and groom should have invited the kids and asked the parents to stay at home.

Everything else aside, I wish blessings and happiness to the bride and groom. I offer my apologies on behalf of all your rude guests who decided they were more important than you today. I pray you will be blessed with friends and family who will learn to put aside themselves for you. And that you will continue to teach your children the value of respect and accountability.


Friday, June 4, 2010

With a Bow on Top

We are officially in the thick of what I call, "Gift Season." It starts at about Mother's Day and doesn't stop until school starts back. We are buying gifts for moms, then grads, then weddings and babies. And none of these gifts are cheap.

Actually, though, with having kids, our "Gift Season" is pretty much year-round. We have birthday parties upon birthday parties. And each one of them require a gift. We should buy stock in Justice. And Target. And, now, with the older kids, I-Tunes.

Every once in a while we have someone who insists they don't want gifts. Instead, they want donations for a charity. I think this is so wonderful and commendable.

My own Emma has done this, asking for money to go to the Ronald McDonald's House, for families of children who are having serious medical problems, and have been displaced for medical treatment. I was particularly happy to not have all the extra toys and do-dad's. But I also could not have been more proud.

In the "Official Parenting Brochure," they should mention the gift thing in the "Expenses" portion. Figure $20 - $25 per gift. Then figure at least one birthday party every other week. Multiply that by the number of children you have. Then figure in some weddings, Mother's Day, Father's Day, baby showers and other miscellaneous gifts.

Oh, and don't forget that your children will need Christmas and Birthday gifts. And those aren't $20 - $25 a piece. And, generally speaking, they do not appreciate donations being made in their honor in lieu of gifts.

I hope you are all having a good "Gift Season." My your obligation and generosity not exceed your wallet.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Green, Green Grass at Home

I went to a friend's house today and fell in lust with her beautiful, open floor plan. I was ready to go home and stick a sale sign in my yard and sell the whole house- contents and all- and buy hers.

Not only was the floor plan fantabulous, it was about 1,000 square feet larger than ours. I had visions of the children being able to spread out, and Keith having a room bigger than a coat closet. She has four bathrooms. I don't even know how to tell you how excited I would be to have that many bathrooms available at any given time. Granted, we have three. But four? That's beyond awesome!

Her kitchen had an island in the middle. The stove top was flat so no little crumbs or pasta or sauce of some kind go under the burners where they turn into stinky, charred ash. And they had a three car garage- a three car garage!!!! We could actually park our cars in our own garage AND have storage room, instead of having to choose one over the other.

I got misty-eyed thinking of it all. Especially when I considered her hard wood floors and the new carpet in the front family room (not to be confused with the family room off the kitchen or the den upstairs). I was in love.

Then, my Achilles' Heel reared his ugly head... cleaning.

I am not a cleaner by nature. It's not that I don't like things to be clean. As a matter of fact, I enjoy organizing and putting things into a neat, clean, orderly fashion. 

My beef is with the fact that cleaning is a routine- an endless, mind-numbing, time-sucking, repetitive, thankless routine. No sooner is the laundry done, folded and put away than there's another load waiting to be washed. When opening the dishwasher reveals a cavernous, empty square, dirty dishes are sure to be piled in the sink awaiting their transfer. It never, ever ends.

As I looked at my friend's home with fresh eyes, I winced. All of those bathrooms would have to be scrubbed. That extra toilet, bathtub, floor and sink would require extra elbow grease. The island would be sure to be turned into a storage facility for everything that didn't already have a home- and even some stuff that did have a home, but that people were just too lazy to find.

Three family rooms? Really? Isn't that really just two extra places to have to vacuum, dust and pick up. And a three car garage... Meh... Just another place to store hubby's over-priced, professional-grade sports equipment he never uses. 

By the time I was done looking around, I was ready to put up a sign in my front yard all right. But I wanted to down-size just so I wouldn't have to clean as much!

Honestly, we could get by with one and a half bathrooms, don't you think? And really, can't the girls share a room? Keith is lucky. He only has enough room to keep the stuff he really needs. So he doesn't get bogged down by a bunch of unnecessary clutter.

After I had a chance to drive home (and start yet another load of laundry), I had come back to center: that place where I am incredibly grateful for exactly what I have. 

There will always be greener grass in the pasture on the other side of the fence. Fortunately, life has taught me that many times that beautiful, lush, green, carpet-like grass I'm eyeing is concealing a nasty smelling septic tank.

So I will keep my beautiful home in which I currently reside. We have lovely memories here. And its size, floor plan and location fit our life. Besides that, I have already priced out maids for this location. And someday, I'll be able to afford to pay one to come clean for me!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gone to the Dogs

My dog's groomer charges $38 to get her looking (and smelling) beautiful. I just bought some professional-grade trimmers to help Keith keep his hair buzzed for football, and I thought, "What the heck? I could save some money in this area of my life, too."

So, I (foolishly) fired up the trimmers and tried valiantly to groom Dixie (my 6 lb maltese/shih tzu mix).

An hour and a half later, I decided my groomer was not asking nearly enough. I was covered from head to toe with her soft, fine hair, itching like a camel with chiggers. I didn't even get to giving the little beastie a bath. Nor had I come anywhere close to doing whatever they say they do to the doggies' "glands". (Don't ask.)

However, I did get my "Jane Fonda" work out. My timid little puppy became a wriggling, yipping, fur-flying, mess of a greased pig, while I tried to calm her by saying, "Good puppy," over and over again in a soothing voice.

Oh, yeah, my groomer needs to charge a million dollars a dog.

The kids kept telling me I was being mean to Dixie, and that she was mad at me. They tried to rescue her. But once I was half way through the cut, I couldn't very well let her be six inches in the front and three inches in the back. Besides, I wasn't hurting her. She was just being difficult and grouchy. I know I wasn't hurting her because I kept accidentally running the trimmers over my fingers/hands/arms/legs, and it didn't hurt; it just made a lot of noise.

I think (as my professional position as family Dog Whisperer) she was embarrassed that I was exposing her tummy, and she is ticklish on her underarms. And I think she didn't like having to sit still while I kept running the trimmers over and over the same place, going different directions so that all the fur was the same length.

Either way, she's as groomed as she's going to get by me. She may get a bath tomorrow. I'm not touching her "glands."

Maybe next time it will be easier... Or maybe I'll just fork out the $38 and call it a day...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

When You Grow Up

If a person could grow by pure will, Keith would be six feet tall. You've never seen a person focus with such precision and intensity on something they have absolutely no control over.

It's funny how we equate certain things with happiness and/or success. With Keith, it's his physical height. With someone else, it may be whether or not they have a certain professional position or a certain status in a group. With many people it's about money.

There are some things over which we do have control. How we behave at work or in a group can determine our success. How we perform can effect how much money we earn.

But there are some things we can't control at all. For example, someone who wants to be an international singer, has to have some natural talent. We have no control over what kind of talent we're born with. We can try to hone our skill. But ultimately, we can only work with what we've been given.

If I could, I would stretch Keith out to make him tall, and then some. But unfortunately, all I can do is try to help him accept who he is, and love who he can become.

I guess that's the way it is with all of us. We all have our limitations. I'll never be Mrs. America, with the figure of a barbie doll. I'll never be Stephenie Meyer, with her mega multi-media hit series, "Twilight." I'll never lead bible studies for millions and millions of people, like Beth Moore.

But I am the mom of children whose very breath makes my heart beat with love. And I am the wife of my best friend. And I get to write in various forums, such as this blog. And I get to share my theological beliefs with some great kids in our church's confirmation class.

Keith may never be six feet in height. But he will always be huge in character. And he is and will continue to be a great role model to younger kids. I hope and pray he will see that, too- no matter how tall he ever stands.