Saturday, July 31, 2010

What Free Education???

Today I bought the equivalent of a new wardrobe, some new skin care, new make up, shoes, a new hair cut & color and a new fancy coffee maker.

Except I got exactly NONE of that.

Instead, I got school supplies for three kids, new uniforms for three kids, new shoes for three kids, new lunch boxes for three kids, new water bottles for three kids and new backpacks for three kids.

Best money I've ever spent. Even if it wasn't for anything on my personal wish list.

Why? Because the kids, who have become delirious with boredom- despite the incredibly short summer- need. to. go. to. school.

Thank the Lord they do indeed go back next week. Wednesday is registration and the first full day is Friday. Woo Hoo!

Once school starts, I will be able to squirrel away bits of change here and there. Then one day while the kids are busy learning and stuffing their brains full of wonderful knowledge, I'll sneak away to get a mani/pedi with a friend or go shopping for something totally frivolous, like another tube of lipstick I don't need or some nail polish.

I'm sad to see the summer dwindle down to a close. The idea of getting back into the homework grind holds absolutely no appeal for me. On paper, it makes perfect sense that they practice newly learned material and hone their study skills. But realistically, it really cuts into evenings. And when it comes to my family, I am really selfish about our time.

But the kids are more than ready. And now they are also supplied to the hilt.

Bring on the school year!
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Thursday, July 29, 2010


Tonight, I'm... somber.

  • I have a friend whose two week old baby was admitted to the NICU of Vandy because she has a fever of 104 and they can't get it down.
  • I have a friend whose nine day old baby is in the NICU because she was born with a serious heart condition, and has already had the first of several surgeries needed to correct it.
  • I have a friend whose father-in-law went in for a check up before leaving on an extended trip and found out he had major to complete blockage. He will have double by-pass surgery tomorrow.
  • I have a friend who has announced she and her husband are filing for divorce. While this may have been something she has been struggling with for a while, this was the first I knew that there were any problems.
  • I have a friend who has had several maladies, which, in and of themselves are not so bad. But compounded, she has been very uncomfortable.
  • I was told we need to deal with a potential medical issue close to home.
  • I have a friend whose church is experiencing change that does not feel positive, and it is unsettling.

Usually I am the personification of Pollyanna, which I know is annoying to many friends of mine. But sometimes even my Pollyanna braids droop. Today is one of those days.

Certainly I keep these precious people in my heart, thoughts & prayers. Certainly I know that God hears all & loves grander and better than I could ever know. I am not without a smile. I feel warmth & hope. But I also feel the sadness, fear, anger, confusion and exhaustion of these friends who are caring for their loved ones.

Tomorrow, I hope to resume my Pollyanna attitude. And I will watch for triumphs, gains, successes and good news.

Thank you all for joining me in hope for a better, brighter tomorrow!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking

Auckland 2004 Yellow Pages booksImage via Wikipedia
My family loves the show, "Mythbusters" on Discovery. This evening we watched an episode they could actually emulate, AND it finally gave me something to do with the plethora of phone books that darken my doorstep, seemingly every other week.

Today they taught the kids how to tear a phone book in half. The kids were not quite able to pull it off, but they had a big time trying. And they got the skinny on how to technically do it, so with enough practice, they could get it down.

The second, more successful, phone book exploration actually involved a myth, stating:
If you take two phone books and face them, spine out, toward each other, and interweave the pages, one from each book at a time, they can not be pulled apart.

On the show, only two tanks pulling in opposite directions pulled the phone books apart. It was the equivalent of 8,000 pounds of force. They asserted that it was the friction between the pages that kept them interwoven so tightly.

We decided to perform our own experiment. We took two Real Yellow Pages phone books that said they expired in 2008 and put them together. We took a page from one book and layered a page from the other book on top of it. Thousands of pages later, we had two books interwoven.

Now the test: We pulled and pulled.  No luck. They wouldn't budge. They may as well have been super-glued together, except they didn't even rip.

We were sufficiently impressed, not to mention we had a great new party trick.

We send out a challenge to all who read:
1. Can you make the phone books come apart?
2. Can you tell us why they don't come apart?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Round and Round

You know all the childhood songs that tell a story in about forty verses, then start all over again? Like "There's a Hole in the Bucket," "Found a Peanut," and numerous other songs that make you want to poke your eyes out with a sharp stick?

That's what it's like trying to rationalize with my children.

I have always tried to be a parent who taught my children like they were people. As a pre-parent, I swore I would never use the answer, "Because I said so." Like most vows I made as a pre-parent, I have eaten those words more than I care to remember.

I want to teach my children to think and be able to talk to adults. It's a work in progress. And progress is v-e-r-y, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w.

Let me share an actual conversation:

ME:  I need you to put your dishes away, please.

CHILD:  But those aren't mine.

ME: Well, I need you to pick those up, please, and put them away.

CHILD:  I already put mine away.

ME:  Okay, but can you please put those away, too?

CHILD: But they aren't mine.

ME: I KNOW! YOU SAID THAT! Please put them away anyway.

CHILD: But, I put mine away already. I didn't even drink tea. And I don't like that kind of macaroni-and-cheese.


CHILD:  But, Mom, they. aren't. mine.

ME: If you don't put those dishes away right now, you are grounded for the rest of your life.

CHILD: If I'm grounded, do I have to put away the dishes?

ME: Yes. Yes, you will have to put away all the dishes in the world.

CHILD: That's not fair.

ME: Life's not fair. Just pick up the dishes and put them away.

CHILD: Why? They aren't mine.

ME: Because I said so.

CHILD: But I put my dishes away already...


Now do this a thousand times a day with each child, every single day of your natural born life. Then you will see why margaritas are Mommy's friend...

And you will also see that I have already blessed my children with "The Mother's Curse:"   "May you have children just like you one day."

Maybe one day they'll even pick up the dishes... *sigh*

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Mommy 1, Kids 0

Man, oh man. My thirteen year old son and my eight year old daughter have had a running battle going on since birth. Tonight their bickering and fighting got out of control. This was far beyond just sibling rivalry.

My son was being snide and egging on my daughter. My daughter was "poking the bear" and trying to tell my son he was wrong.

The "best part" was that my daughter had a friend over to spend the night. Every five minutes I was breaking up a brawl between my son and my daughter. I felt so sorry for the friend.

Finally I got my middle daughter to take the friend to her room and, hopefully, have the friend have a little bit of fun while she's here. Otherwise, I'm afraid she would have gone home feeling like she had been at a live taping of a reality show.

The topper, though, was when I called my two warriors down and very calmly explained to them that this fighting had to stop. Their eyes glazed over, since this has been my mantra for at least a year now, as their fighting has escalated.

My announcement got their attention, though: My son will be moving his bed into my daughter's room until they can learn how to get along. Until then, there will be no sleep-overs. And they will continue to room together until they can come up with a plan, write it down, sign it and effectively execute it.

My son told me I was a bully. My daughter wailed. I stood firm.

I told them if that didn't work, I would begin taking away more privileges, such as iPod touches, phones, toys, etc. My son had the nerve to roll his eyes at me.

Game on.

I told him (calmly) the air he breathes is a privilege in this house. And that I could make life way more miserable for him than just rooming with his sister.

Then I took it down a notch and told them how much it hurts me when they hurt. And when they are so ugly to each other that I can see that they hurt. I told them it is no longer acceptable to behave this way. And that if they wanted special things, like fun shirts from Abercrombie & Fitch or Wii games or extra snacks and goodies, then they needed to figure out how to be pleasant around each other.

Presently, my middle daughter and my younger daughter's friend are in bed. My son and my younger daughter are upstairs scrambling to come up with a plan right now, in hopes they won't have to actually share a room for even one night.

As for me, I'm done with them acting like this. And I'm not putting up with it for one more second.

They have yet to even see "mean mommy" yet. Here's hoping they don't ever, ever have to.

I will keep you posted as the drama unfolds...
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Call Me

When it comes to technology, I'll give myself about a C+.  I've figured out lots of software programs for work; but, I can't always figure out how to make the CD player feed show on my television (in my defense, it takes about six steps).

I have a Blackberry cell phone. I LOVE the fact that I get emails, texts and internet, besides having it actually function as a phone. What I don't love is the fact that it tends to seize up at least once a day, requiring me to have to yank out the battery and let it reset.

It usually has its seizure at the most inconvenient time, like when I'm lost and I'm trying to pull up Google Maps to find my way home. Or when I need to call someone right now, this very minute.

I'm up for a new phone in November. And while I don't want to wish time away, I am so excited for November to get here. I have my eye on a phone called a Droid X. The commercial is so totally cool! And I have visited it in the store. It's just waiting for Momma to come pick it up...

There has been much ado about the iPhone. And being a Mac fan, I love the idea of having the compatible phone. AND my carrier, Verizon, is rumored to be carrying the iPhone in January. Fabulous! Except I don't know if I can live with my Blackberry that long. Plus, I'm hearing things about the iPhone dropping calls randomly. With my limited technological ability, I don't need to take on any new problems.

I am sad my Blackberry has turned out to be such a big pain. When I first got my Blackberry, I thought it was the best thing since peanut butter on sliced bread. But I think I've added enough applications and other things that take up memory that the poor thing is frazzled.

The Droid & the iPhone are designed to allow several applications run at the same time. So I can talk on the phone even if my text and email are still "open." Blackberries function in a way that require you to only run one program at a time, which is very annoying.

Maybe a new form of Blackberry will resolve this problem. Maybe a more technologically advanced person could operate their Blackberry better. But my C+ brain just won't function that way.


So, for now, I'm counting down until I can get a phone that's more user-friendly for me. Until then, if you call and you are suddenly cut off, please know it's not you. In fact it's not really me. It's my phone. And I'm sorry. Maybe I'll be able to get a new phone even sooner... Well, one can hope...

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reality Bites

What in the world is our obsession with reality television? It is such trash. It's like Jerry Spring trying to pretend to have a plot/competition.

Hubby is currently watching one of the "music television" reality television shows. It goes something like this: an attractive person gets paid crazy money to "date" a gazillion people to see who they are most compatible with. The catch? The competitors/daters have to live together and spend a ton of time in cameos slamming on the other contestants. Then the producers show the competitors each others' video footage where they are talking badly about each other. The cameras set up, get the bleep button and the black blob to cover indecent words/images, and watch sparks fly.

Some competition reality is about people who compete physically, like "The Great American Race." Some are about food. Some are about modeling or fashion.

Some reality is about "plot." For example, "The Family Jewels" about the Gene Simmons family, or the Ozzy Osborne follow the lives of a person with the assumption that the people being followed are such wild entertainment, that no competition or set up situations are even necessary. Anna Nicole Smith never failed to produce a train wreck.

The other kind of "realty" plot is where the producers tell story to glean sympathy, like "Extreme Home Makeover." Basically they take a story about a family having overwhelming hardships and then they throw a ton of money into an outrageous house in order to "solve" all their problems.

In the end, all "reality" television is such an oxymoron to me. How many people do you know that could ever really survive in the real world channeling the "characters" they play on television? Who really has unlimited time and unlimited money to compete for a person or a position, or to provide experiences that make the viewing public drop their jaws in awe of the stupidity/hysteria/sadness/brilliance of the lives of someone?

To me, "reality" television is just another way to package a sitcom or drama. In mainstream sitcoms and dramas, the lines are drawn so that the audience knows there is a definitive script behind them. But they still promote a particular lifestyle, lifted up to be emulated or avoided. "Reality" television usually is more about activities and lifestyle choices that should be avoided. However, the glossy packaging, along with the unlimited cash flow, make it appear as though this is "the American dream."

I hope that the "reality" television fad will fade away and die with this generation (along with rap music). In the meantime, we continue to remind ourselves that all the cash comes with some serious emotional trauma and all sorts of fall out we will never see on camera. And that if this is the "American Dream", maybe we need to set the bar for ourselves higher. We need to strive for something even better. We need to look for "real love and peace set in a real person's reality." We'll let the crazy, beautiful, rich, totally wigged out nut jobs keep their "reality" on television. We'll stay firmly planted in the real world.
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tremendous Teens

When you become pregnant, there are a zillion resources for new parents: magazines, doctors, support groups, online chat groups, etc. And about eighty percent of the resources talk about the "heaven-sent little angel" as being the most wonderful miracle in your life. About twenty percent talk about the things that can go wrong. Less than one percent talk about the experience as being "bad" or "negative."

As the kids move from baby to toddler, toddler to child, then from child to tween, you'll find the same thing, but with the ratios of "good" to "bad" moving ever-steadily to about seventy-five/twenty-five. By the time we have tweens, the media has honed in to the fact that this group has more disposable income, so they have Hannah Montanna, the Jonas Brothers and all sorts of other Disney & Nickelodian characters and their media-driven products, at the ready. There are a few resources around for parents, but considerably less.

Then we hit the "Terrible Teen" years. Suddenly, the media can say nothing positive at all.  Headlines always include "troubled" in front of "teen." All the magazines, movies and propaganda are about Teen Sex, Teen Bullying, Teen Drug Use, Teen Cliques and Teen Suicides. And there are little to no resources available for parents that don't involve a parole officer and/or therapy.

I know that teenagers suddenly morph from this baby/child we have cared for and loved- into an alien that is unfamiliar to us. And sometimes those changes are not changes we can endorse or approve. But the teen aged years are also a time when a person begins to sort out who they are. And the years begin anywhere as early as pre-teen (like six in the case of one of my children) to way into the twenties for some.

But they are still our children. They still want our love and approval more than anything else in the world (even if they deny it). And they still need and desire rules (whether they admit to it or not).

The media would have us believe that these teens want to raise themselves with unlimited money and unlimited freedom. But that is simply not true. Rules, love and affection make us all feel safe. And if we can show teenagers how to live and love in a healthy way, they will feel secure enough to realize that drugs to make you "feel" happy don't make you really happy; They will realize that you can have healthy physical affection that doesn't involve sex; And, they will be able to be "normal."

Now, as with anything, "stuff happens." Good kids do bad things. But it just bugs me that when a teenager does a good thing it's totally unnoticed or considered completely out of character.

I'm planning to have fun with my kids as teenagers. I will treat them with respect, since that's how I would like to be treated. I will enforce rules. I will entrust them with responsibility a little at a time so that they can earn it. And if they prove irresponsible with something, I'll retract that privilege until they find a way to earn it again.

I look forward to watching them work through what they are learning, to form their own beliefs and opinions. After all, I'm raising people, not clones or robots. I plan to look at them as special people in the next phase of their lives- not "troubled teens".

Will there be bumps in the road? You betcha'. Will I eat these words? Oh, but of course. But I will also come back to these words, again and again. I don't plan on having "troubled teens"- no matter what the media and/or the world might say. I plan on having "tremendous teens"! That is one of the best gifts my parents gave me. And I believe it's definitely a gift worth passing on- no matter what the world may say to the contrary!
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Friday, July 23, 2010

The Teen-Aged Years

Today my hormonally-charged son got to see the girlies (in uniform) training at the new restaurant "The Tilted Kilt" in Hendersonville. He was... impressed.

The girls wear... well not much... stiletto heels, a very tiny tartan plaid skirt, a matching very tiny tartan plaid bra & a Brittany Spears-like white "shirt" to "cover" the bra. They have bright red lipstick and tramp tats.

Basically, it's Hooters set in Scotland. But the food appears to be better, as well as the drink menu. My friend is completely fired up about a cold meatloaf sandwich, which is debatable in the "good food" category. But she seems happy. I'm pretty excited about the garlic butter french fries in parmesan cheese.

Since (thankfully) The Tilted Kilt is still not open, we went to dinner at another restaurant, and then walked around the Streets at Indian Lake. My son and his friend walked around with us for as long as they could stand, then I allowed them to walk by themselves for a little while. I might as well have said, "Release the hounds!" They walked around with perma-grin, happy to be out from momma's skirt tails.

This is one of the beginning glimpses I've had to the world of teenagers, as it relates to my child. I'm a little frightened. But at the same I am so very excited for him.

I remember standing at the threshold of being a young adult, one foot standing firmly in childhood, the other foot standing in the world of teenagers. I was suddenly terribly aware of fashion, hair, body shapes and boys. It was when I became focused on "me," and not so much on anything else. But it was also a time when I was able to begin to clarify my own values and ideas and figure out who "I" was and who I would become.

As a parent, I fully expect to have times that make me want to push him in front of a bus. But I know that even those times are simply a means to an end: a wonderful, God-fearing, productive member of society.

As a teenager, I know my son will have times when he wants to be driving the bus that would run over me. But hopefully, we can one day look back and realize it was all worth it.

I am not planning on taking him to The Tilted Kilt, Hooters or any other such establishment. As he gets older, he may go with friends, which I suppose is rather normal. But I just can't consider it responsible or normal to go with your mother.

Welcome to the big, wonderful, wild, wooly world of Teenager. On the plus side, I'm thrilled he will shower without being asked!
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mourning the Divorce of a Friend

In what has become an all-too-familiar theme in life, I found out another friend of mine is getting a divorce. As is common in these situations, I had no idea and was taken totally off-guard. Not that all my friends have to keep me in the loop of their most private details, but you would think I would have some sort of clue, right?

I know all relationships have their ups & downs. Goodness knows hubby and I have had our share of both. But what, at the end of the day, is the "final straw" that makes a relationship die? It's a lot of hard work to keep a relationship afloat. But, especially when there are children, divorced parents still have to maintain some kind of relationship with their ex-spouse. That can't be easy. And there is a considerable amount of work that has to go into dividing up a household. Where do you even begin? And how do people afford to be divorced? We seem to barely be able to afford to work together toward the budget!

In my experience, the friends on whom I've always kept one eye, believing that I might very well expect a divorce announcement at any time, continue on through the rough patches and stay together. Fighting and disagreement seem to be an assumed cue for couples who are in trouble. Even my children become tense and paranoid when hubby and I share cross words. But fights don't necessarily earmark the divorces I've witnessed. In fact, in several cases, the couples whom I have believed to be strong, virtually impenetrable fortresses are the ones who have crumbled with no apparent warning.

How do you divorce-proof your marriage? Well, I am certainly no expert. But I'll tell you the main thing that I've heard from the people who I know who have gotten divorced: "We quit making each other a priority."

From there, they've "fallen out of love," "fallen in love with someone else," "worked too much," "quit talking to each other," "just weren't the same people we were when we got married."  The last one, to me, is a given. Hubby and I have been married seventeen years, and we dated for five before that. Neither of us are the same people we were twenty-two years ago (thank goodness!). We are certainly not infallible, either. But he and I have the same priorities: 1) God, 2) Each Other, 3) Our Children, 4) the rest of the world. (If he ever put the children in danger in any way, or put something else in front of them, I would have something to say about that.)

Death is sorrowful. The death of a relationship through divorce is disheartening and sad. I continue, as always, to keep my friends in my thoughts and prayers as they make their way during this difficult transition in their lives. I pray they come through happier and healthier on the other side. And I use this as a reminder to myself and my spouse that "but for the grace of God, there go I."
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Nothing makes me nostalgic faster than music. So today when we were listening to the radio, "Jenny"came on and I sang every word. My kids sang along with the chorus. (It's not that hard to learn.)

During the lyrics, the song says, "For the price of a dime I can always turn to you." My kids didn't know what that meant, so I was going to explain it to them. I had to start with the fact that there used to be phones that were attached to the wall. That blew their minds.

I took it to the next level when I told them that there were no cell phones. (I also pretty much sealed my fates as being viewed as part of an ancient civilization with that one.) I had to explain there were pay phones, which they related to Superman. Then I told them that they were set up to take a dime for a phone call. They cocked their heads to the side and looked at me like I was sprouting a propeller out of the top of my skull.

After the song, the kids excitedly asked me to tell them more about the "good old days." So I pulled up my walker and told them how I used encyclopedias for research papers. I almost lost them when I told them how we had "boom boxes" instead of MP3 players and iPods. They were horrified to learn that my first television had no cable, only four stations (with rabbit ears) and no color. "What did you do???"they asked, eyes wide with shock and dismay.

"We played outside, played games, played with friends."

"Did they have movies?"

"Yes!" I said, offended.

They sighed in relief. "What else?"

I told them about our first microwave, which was as big as an oven, our cameras that only used film that you had to have developed and that at least half of the cars on the road were stick shift cars. They sat with their mouths gaping open.

Satisfied they were properly amazed by my vast amount of knowledge and experience, I smiled and continued driving down the road. Keith promptly changed the radio station to one of the pop music stations and they started singing along to a Katy Perry song, my history lesson long forgotten...

I, on the other hand, sang "867-5309" for the rest of the day and reveled in the memories...
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Well, That Was Fun...

Virtually, just a minute ago I loaded up the car with all the end-of-school "stuff." We had notebooks, party favors, lunch boxes with some very scary science experiments, winter coats and all sorts of "stuff." We brought everything home, sorted it out and either threw it away or found it a home.

That was how we kicked off our summer. That day we had visions of a long, luxurious summer that would stretch out forever. We planned to spend our days sleeping in, then swimming in the sun until we got hungry. Then we would go in, eat something and then either take a nap or go back out to catch some more rays.

Today, other than a week of vacation at the beach, we have (sadly) yet to catch a single ray. And I have begun gearing up for the new school year: We start tonight with a parent meeting for football. Then my calendar becomes crammed up with all sorts of things like purchasing school supplies, sports physicals, dentist appointments, haircuts and more getting-ready-for-school things.

Since we are gearing up for a regular schedule (gag), I thought it was time for me to fire up the blog entries again, too. You have missed some funny stuff this summer. And for this, I apologize. But I will try to catch you up with anything noteworthy that you missed. And I'll try to pack my entries with lots of fun & interesting stuff that make you unable to sleep due to the anticipation of yet another stellar MommyBarbie article. (LOL)

As to Summer... Ah, well... It was fun while it lasted...
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