Monday, September 21, 2009

NO means "NO" - A Lesson In Self-Control

Pizza seduces me. It tempts me with its slightly browned cheese and its rich and nommable tomato sauce. It whispers, "Eat me" and without hesitation I do. I can't help myself.

I was having a(nother) piece of pizza at dinner tonight, despite the annoying little voice that said,

"No, Erika. Put that back. You don't want another slice."

I ignored that voice and went for the second helping:

"Add more crushed red pepper! Mama-Mia, I like-a the spicy pizza!"


Yes. In my fevered frenzy of seasoning, the smallest particles of (really) crushed red pepper caught the wind of the ceiling fan and...I peppered myself.


After about ten minutes of flushing my very sore, very red eyes under the bathroom faucet and cursing the employees of McCormick Spices and their offspring and their offspring's offspring and anyone who knew their offspring's offspring, I spent another ten minutes enduring watery eyes and an uncontrollably runny nose. I now understand what it is that pepper spray will do to an assailant.

I have learned my lesson. If I insist on forcing myself on the pizza, I MUST NOT ARM THE PIZZA. (Clearly, I was asking for it.) Better yet, I should steer clear of that Italian-American tease and never think of it again.

"NO" means "NO". I get that now.

I guess I didn't really want that piece of pizza after all. Now that I think about it, it probably had a parasite in its pepperoni.

(Ah-HA! Did you see what I did there? I rejected the pizza, it didn't reject me. I dumped it first, therefore I win. Humph!)

*quietly* Slut.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

There's No Place Like Home?

After seeing the musical Wicked the other night (which was a completely amazing experience), I'm stuck with multiple Oz-related references resounding through my cranium. But Dorothy's famous click-of-the-slippers catchphrase hits me much closer to home than the lions and tigers and bears that we saw at the zoo today.

I've been at my mom's house for three weeks. This weekend, I'm packing up the kids and returning home. I sorta have to, right? After all, I do live there. I have bills to pay and obligations to fulfill, my kids are enrolled in swim lessons at the local community center in August and will be starting school again in September...and oh yeah, my husband is there.

My marriage has been so emotionally tumultuous over the past year that I was on the verge of filing for divorce a month ago. I changed my mind when my husband experienced what seemed to be a genuine change of heart just before I left. My only explanation for his apparent turnaround is that he could tell how disconnected I was from the relationship, and it helped something click for him. I can't quite explain it, but he acts much differently towards me now. I can tell that he is feeling things more deeply and has gained some awareness of his own emotion.

He calls it a miracle. If it turns out to carry any sustainability, I might use the same word.

That should be a good thing, right? Honestly, the lack of any deep sense of connection between the two of us was one of the biggest voids in our marriage. And it seemed that all of a sudden, his emotional light bulb went on--but it felt more like a stadium flood light than a 50-watt reading lamp.

That's typical for him, though. He's a very extreme person overall. With him, there is almost never such a thing as a middle ground. His positive emotions are smothering and his negative emotions are crippling. And now, even though I can clearly sense that he feels things much differently than he has before, I am still very much aware that he is still the same highly intense person he has always been.

I want love to grow in my marriage, without a doubt. But it feels like his love for me has turned from a tiny seed into a mighty oak overnight, and any love I might feel for him is still a young, tender shoot that needs gentle and proper care--not a sudden blast of desert sun doused with a tsunami of water, but something warm, nurturing, and appropriate.

Although I feel ready to go back home and get back into my regular routine with my kids, I carry with me a sense of dread about the emotional roller coaster ride that awaits me. Caring for my husband is a hell of a lot of work. I hadn't realized how much until being away from him for a while. And ultimately, I've been much happier while not having to live with all that uncertainty about what my day to day life will be like.

Living with my parents can be difficult, for sure, but at least it's predictably so. I know my mom is anal about crumbs on the counter and dishes in the sink, I know my dad is rather silent and endearingly protective, and I know that my kids have to clean up after themselves around here or they'll send my mother to an early grave.

But I can always count on that, every day. It's secure. It's stable. It carries a vague sense of lunacy and a slight air of dementia, but those things feel comfy here because they have always been a part of this house. It's much easier than living with a person whose personality is so naturally volatile that he can seemingly turn from an arrogant bastard into a smothering emotional flood overnight.

I have been able to discuss some of these feelings with my husband over the phone, and I can tell by his responses that he is listening and understanding at least a portion of what I'm saying. But the conversations feel eerily vacuous when I lack the ability see his face or read his body language, and I can't feel confident that the person I will be living with when I get home will be at all receptive to my efforts to communicate with him.

I'm going home because I live there, because I want to give my marriage another chance, and because I know my husband needs me. But I wish I needed him as much as he needs me. I wish that I was going home with a sense of excitement and anticipation. I wish that I really missed my husband and couldn't wait to see him again. I wish that I could trust him to ask me what I need from him instead of assuming that he has already figured it out.

But mostly, I wish that I could be as certain as Dorothy that there's no place like home.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Can't live with 'em, can't sell 'em on Craigslist.

I've noticed a lot of my mommy friends are encountering the same stressful problem right now. Our seemingly delightful offspring are fighting more and it's bugging the snot out of us all. Summer is here and we're still trying to get everything done that we normally do, only now we've got all these little needy people in the house and no school to send them off to during the day...and they're BORED little needy people.

Planning things to keep them busy will work to cut the fighting down a lot, but I know I'm not always that on-the-ball. So when we fall asleep at the Parental Wheel and the fighting begins, what can we do to keep our cool?

There are a couple of quick and easy fixes, that I use myself, They really will work. I just need to remember them in my day.

Say this. Don't think about it, just say it.

"I charge a dollar a minute to listen to children argue. Solve it yourselves."

Then look at the clock. Those kids will skedaddle out of there faster than you can blink. If it comes to fisticuffs, so be it. They'll learn other ways of solving their disagreements without bringing you into it.

For those kids who have no sense and very few cents, toys can be easily substituted for cash. Only the most awesomely cool, most played with toys are confiscated. Then they have the opportunity to earn the toys (or money) back by replacing the energy they drained out of you in doing some extra chore(s).

One for the tweens and/or teens who need to be chauffeured everywhere is this little gem: "I'll drive you to (wherever) as soon as ____, ____ and ____ are done." If these ____s are not completed before it's time to leave, the kid doesn't go. Simple as that. Their friends' birthday parties are not a grade requirement.

Whatever you need to get done today, make your job less stressful by getting those able-bodied young'uns to help. They live there, too. Home is more than a place for them to eat and sleep and ask for sh*t.

These are actually a couple of techniques I picked up from Parenting with Love and Logic, and although I can't take credit for them, I can certainly tell you that Love and Logic really does work.

Even the toddlers can do this stuff! It keeps me ahead of the AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH Moments when I remember to use it.

I hope I've just made your day easier. If you like these, use them. If you don't, forget them. Just remember that we DON'T have to do it all. Really. Keep your cool. It's summer and it's a jungle out there.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spoiling Kiddo.

Kiddo is my little sister. I'm not quite sure how she got the nickname, but it stuck - even some of her teachers refer to her as Kiddo. Oh, and by little sister I mean my nearly 16 year old 5'9 or so sister who has curves in the right places and makes clothes look good. Did I mention I'm 5'5 on a good day? Her legal name is Nicole Christen.

Kiddo has been having difficulty with backstabbing faux-friends and assorted other high school drama. It seems to have peaked lately, with one girl telling my sister to watch her back. Ugh.

Through a state funded program, my sister got a job that pretty much teaches her how to work. It is, in essence a paid internship. She gets $800 for 4 days a week for 5 weeks. Not bad for a first job. She has her official interview tomorrow (even though she already has the position, and starts Monday). Until my friend Kate and I took my sister on a shopping spree at H&M, she had no clothes that I would deem interview worthy. The only caveat was that Kate and I had final say on her clothes - since I was buying, I thought it was only fair. We picked out everything for her, living vicariously through the skinny girl.

She left H&M with a black pencil skirt that falls right at her knees, deep charcoal semi-wide leg dress pants, and salmon colored skinny fit dress pants to cover her 'non-butt' as she puts it. She also took home a gorgeous deep purple top that fits her like it is tailored just for her, a nifty looking non-fitted black top with flowers printed at the bottom hem (to go with the salmon pants) and a turquoise sundress.

We then headed over to Old Navy where she got two nice dressy tee shirts (one is Pink and the other is Teal), followed by Famous Footwear where she found a really cute pair of black low heels (not too easy in size 11!) on clearance.

Lucky girl made out like a bandit. She looks like an adult, instead of a trend-worshipping teenage drone. I walked out of the mall nearly $200 poorer. I spent a portion of my tattoo fund on her. I don't even spend that much on clothes for myself, but without hesitation I bought her every single thing that looked great on her.

However, Kiddo deserves it. She's the baby of the family who got shorted on so much, because my parents had done so much for my brother and myself that there isn't extra to spend. Kiddo watches Connor whenever needed, without asking any repayment. She rarely complains about anything, especially the lack of spending money that her friends have. They're the annoying girls at the mall that I hate with a passion.

Back to my point - my sister is one of the best people that I know. She is selfless, she gives and gives without expecting anything in return. To see her reaction when she saw exactly how much I'd spent on her was priceless. She was shocked. And unlike most people in her generation, grateful.

That is why I love spoiling my sister.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Where did I go wrong?

My oldest son is 9 years old. He used to come and talk to me all the time. Then suddenly he wasn't able to talk to me about things. Now he comes and stands in front of me and just stares at me. If I ask him what he wants he puts his head down and talks so softly I can't hear him. If I ask him to repeat what he said he starts to cry. Sometimes he will write out his question, toss it at me and run away. The thing is I usually say yes.

This has been going on for a couple of years now. It is getting to the point where I just want to send him away as soon as he comes to me with that look on his face. I don't even want to try to deal with him because I know it would be easier to milk a bull that to get any information out of the child.

I know something has to change, but at this point I don't even know how to go about getting there. At the moment I am getting frustrated with him and yelling at him. I know that doesn't help the problem, but asking him nicely doesn't get through to him either. At this point I just want to scream.

I always hoped that I would have a really good relationship with my kids. I wanted to be the mom that all the kids came to. I want to be the cool mom. I feel like I am the mom that just yells at my kids and can't get them to listen or get through to them. I wanted to do 'do today' with my kids. My dad used to sit with us before bed and ask us 'what did you do today.' It was shortened to do today. I want that. I would ask my son when he got home from kindergarten what did you do today. NOTHING. I know you did something, what was it? Ever since then I can't get through to him. What happened? Where did I go wrong? At what point did I lose that little boy that use to tell me everything? I don't know. I do know I need to do something about it. I jsut don't know what.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Specializing in the removal of live things

"If it grows, it goes."

I'm forming a new landscape company, and the above is the company motto. Screw the careful delicacy of only removing weeds. Nevermind a well-shaped wall of hedgery. You want us to prune your trees but leave them standing? You need a different company. I and my mighty army of weed whackers, clippers, shears, hedge pruners and lawn mowers will remove everything in your yard to a close-cropped three inch height.

I'm done with having to choose what stays or goes in the yard. I give up on trying to remember if I planted X. Having to decide if it's a foxtail or something destined to be pretty. Should that random fig tree stay, or will it eventually wreak havoc on a plumbing line. Nope. Not gonna do it. I've spent my time in the trenches carefully nurturing what became a burr nursery. I once weeded a patch of the yard, convinced that I was yanking up a patch of soon-to-be ickery-stickery pokery things, and realized later that I'd removed the sproutings of a packet of Alyssum seeds. I'm plagued with tree of heaven rootlets everywhere, and the oaks I DO want to grow keep falling down.

Part of the problem I face is that I've got some of the best dirt on earth. The only place that nothing will grow is under my olive trees. (Really, what does one plant under a tree that oozes acidic oil 8 months of the year?) Anything that can grow, WILL grow, and when you're confronted with 18 varieties of "Well, it's green, it has leaves, and it's in the dirt", it's hard to determine what you've got. If it's all three inches tall, who cares?

I can't even kill what I do want dead. Two summers ago, I decided to intentionally kill a rose bush. It was in the most inconvenient of places; I'd fallen into it several times because it's right by a walkway, and due to its size, there wasn't a chance of being able to transplant it. In the middle of a Redding summer, I cut the thing to the ground, didn't water it for the rest of the year, and figured it was done for. The next spring, it blew back out of the ground bigger than ever. The only thing I'd managed to do turned out pretty impressive - I'd whacked the outer canes far enough down that they grew out as wild bright-red roses, and the inner portion of the rose bush spits out buttery yellow blooms.

Beauty, even in my failure.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Post-Consumer Waste and Impressionable Young Minds

Pondering jingles.

Yes, I was thinking of commercials and slogans and my brain wandered as it tends to do and it ended up here. I know you like to get a ringside seat to the craziness, so I decided to share.

I’ve been stuck on Band-Aids ever since I was a Toys-R-Us kid eating hot dogs…Armor Hot Dogs. I drank Pepsi before and after it became the Choice of a New Generation. I’ve celebrated moments of my life with International Instant Coffees. I filled it to the rim with Brim (of course I would’ve rather had Taster’s Choice, especially if Rupert Giles was likely to show up at my door).

My bologna had a first name. I made things last a little longer with Big Red. I soaked in it because Madge told me to. When I spilled a drink, I reached for the quicker picker upper. A sprinkle a day helped keep odor away! I had it my way at Burger King.

Now I’m tired and rambling. I digress…but WAIT!

Speaking of jingles and the like, what made execs approve the Juicy Fruit song?
“...Take a sniff, pull it out. The taste is gonna move ya when you POP it in your mouth...

(That’s pure pervy genius, right there.)

When I think of how simple some of those little song snippets were, I’m certain I have what it takes. After all, it’s probably so easy a caveman could do it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Need to Talk

Since the beginning of time, women have needed to talk. While passing the time while sewing, crafting supplies, or birthing a child- women have worked together. The idea of a village comes from the idea of women working together in order to make life happen.

Today, we no longer live in villages. We live worlds apart from even our families and friends. Women get up each day and make life happen for their loved ones. This can be a lonely job- rewarding, but none-the-less, lonely.

Women still have the need to talk, which is more than a well known fact. Cell phone companies and Internet networking sites are very much aware, as one of their largest target audiences are women. Places such as CafeMom have targeted the female audience because we are a shore win- give us room to talk... we'll have at it!

Even those of us with partners here in the home are privy to a well known fact: Our husbands may love us dearly, but they are not the same thing as a female friend. Men are fixers, and while this is nice when they use this skill to fix a leak, a broken toilet and even that weird noise coming from the basement... fixing is not what a woman needs when she has the urge to talk. The need to chat, to cry, to love, to vent, to scream or to just converse is merely a way of release for a woman- no doing is necessary, other than being.

CafeMom fills this need for many of us, which is why we are such "addicts." It gives us women something we need- each other. Simply genius, if you ask me. You do nothing but let women talk- something we all know comes so naturally. We can talk about anything and everything- and we do! This place is a wealth of information and misinformation, strong feelings and stronger emotions. It is both perfect and dangerous- and I hope it lasts forever.

I have been lucky to have found a great niche here in our virtual world. 30 wonderful friends that have grown together in ways real-life friends couldn't begin to understand. From one small commonality- we've become something life changing and unforgettable.

30 women have come together to share everything. We've seen love lost and love anew, the birth of a child and the loss of those loved, everyday triumphs and super life achievements, the joys and agonies of motherhood and most importantly- WAY too much information! :0) We've shared stories that would make a sailor blush, advice you wouldn't seek out from a normal play-date and held each others virtual hands during times deemed too much to handle.

There have been days that I have been late to the computer, yet still my thoughts have been on friends I know are going through hard times... times where my friends haven't been online and the rest of us have began to worry about where they are. When a person enters your thoughts during the day in worry, in joy and in happiness- and do not directly effect you or your being- this person is a friend. It doesn't matter if they are a part of your real life village or a virtual one. What matters is that we all have someone we can reach out to, someone we can talk to, someone that isn't trying to fix us... but rather just let us be the women we were born to be and the talkers that we are meant to be.

Thank you my friends... You are my village. :0)

Monday, June 8, 2009

If you don't like the weather, just wait.

The weather in Kansas is a very dynamic thing. It does usually get hot in summer by about mid June and stay hot until late September. By hot I mean 100+ temperatures. This year do far has been It has been relatively cool. Only one week do far of 90+ degrees. Usually in the summer the storms just make it more humid and sticky, but lately the storms have brought cool weather. It is nice after a week of 90 degrees to be back in the low 70's. I love having the house opened up and the cool air blowing in.

Speaking of the air blowing, the wind is usually a constant thing here in Kansas. When the wind doesn't blow you have to wonder what is wrong. We do have some days with little to no wind, but it is much more common to have a steady breeze blowing at least 20 mph.

The big draw back of the ever changing weather is the storms. We get lots of severe weather, thunderstorms, hail, and the occasional tornado. We always hope there won't be one, but we get a tornado warning with almost every storm we get. Thankfully we don't always get a tornado.

Today I am going to enjoy the beautiful cool weather. I am going to take advantage of having the windows open and go for a nice walk. I may even play outside with the boys and work in the garden if the baby lets me. Enjoy your weather where ever you may be.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Good Sport

A shame it was about old Bert, they said,
A drinking man; a sport; a thoroughbred.
He'd never mean ill to beast or man or mind,
And seldom would utter a word unkind.

Forget, meanwhile, less-then-perfect Bert
Libido pert; ego-girted Bert
Attractive flirt; oh happy Bert.
Voracious dilettante; ah shallow Bert.

When Bert decided on a taste of grog
He'd shock the bar with cronies' eyes agog
He'd quaff his beer making gin a double-chaser
A glass of sherry made an ample bracer.

Fired with fuel, instead of heading home,
The wayward ways of wine tempt him to roam
The suburbs seeking fun, games and kisses
Carefree coupling robbed from married misses.

Unwise, he fails to see that trouble's brewing
His wife ignores his none-too-secret wooing
She's other interests sank while hubby drank
Unwitting, Bert was free to hanky-pank.

But, matrons flirty meet at eight-thirty,
And plan a trap to humble Bertie,
To catch him liquored and quick to bandy
They mean to prove that 'candy is dandy'.

Now Bert, in spite of sophisticated face
Is prudish, tense and straight-of-lace.
The missioner's position's rule of thumb
Is looser once upon some rum.

The party plans to nobble Bertie
To quell his drunken sprees by playing dirty
To catch him late with belly full from drinking
Bed-hopping Bertie seldom stops for thinking.

True to say Bert might never learn
Until he's well and truly burned
He hangs one on 'til pulses roll
Then heads for sunset matinee, still droll.

Stopping dead, he sniffs the air
As nymphs present their bodies bare
Some nude, some rude and dressed exotic
With hairstyles outrageous, makeup exotic.

First hot, then cold and funny, feeling sick
Bert suffers claustrophobia, panics quick;
Seductive ladies sing and belly dance,
Ringed fingers gesture, vulgar stockings prance.

A guild of giggling girls, a touch too tipsy,
Their heat and sweat and scent would scare a gypsy.
Enrapture Bert with wet and loveless kisses
And take his trousers down with loathsome hisses.

He's perfumed and painted and stands half-naked
No place for wowsers intimidated;
The multi-mirrored entrance hall reflected
Defective Bertie, bottom bared, dejected.

He shakes with fear and rage and shamed aghast
He finds his car and sobers up at last;
He races reckless, gray and looking queer
And hurtles off the end of the lofty pier.

'A shame it was about old Bert', they said,
'A drinking man, a sport, a thoroughbred'.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The child who would not be dirty.

My second son loves to get dirty, but to be dirty is another thing. One drop of water on his shirt, one speck of food on his pants, any dirt at all and he needs clean clothes. This makes for an awful lot of laundry. It get to be a challenge to keep him in the same clothes for more than an hour. Heaven forbid he gets water on his shirt. It's water! It will dry!

The last few days the boys have been playing in the mud. The younger one's shirt gets dirty he wants to change. I stopped to it today. Knowing full well he was going to go back out to play in the mud. By the time all was said and done both boys were pretty much covered. The front door was covered from all the splashing in the mud. My car had mud on it. Yes I yelled at the younger child for that one. No scratching Mommy's paint while finger painting my car. The house had also been finger painted in a few places. I can't get too mad at them. I always knew I would be that mom that let her kids get muddy. After all what are bathtubs and washing machines for if kids can't be kids. I think my next door neighbor is glas her child has snece enough to not play in the mud with my children. I can't wait until the baby is old enough to join them. My little girl will be a mud montser too. Oh the joys of being a parent.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Papa's Boy

When my father is home... nobody else exists to my son. I find it to be cute, and very endearing. Of course my dad loves it. I was Nana's girl when I was young, and my brother & sister were mommy's kids. So, Dad never really got the "Daddy's Lil Kiddo" thing. Well, Connor has my dad wrapped firmly around his little fingers. It is always "Papa Doooo Eeeet (think a French Accent on Eeet)" or "Papa hold You? (Hold Me)" or "Papa Game? Monsta Cuck!" If we put Connor's outside shoes on, he'll grab my dad's Sox cap and say "Papa Ouside?" until Papa gives in to the persistent blonde. Dad can be watching the ball game, trying to fix a car, cleaning the pool, or doing other puttering around the house type things and Connor will be right there beside him.

I think it is absolutely the most adorable thing!

I am so jealous!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Will I ever got to eat my food by myself?

When my second child was about 9 months old he finally decided that food was a good thing. By 10 months old he was eating all of his food and then eating off of my plate. That was fine and even cute when he was that little, but at 3 years old he really needs to eat his own food. Don't get me wrong we make both boys their own plate and feed them the same stuff we are eating. He just has to eat off my plate. He will go eat what he wants off of his plate and move on to mine. If I poor a bowl of cereal he will go get a spoon and help himself to mine. He doesn't ask for his own he just eats mine. I have not had a meal to myself, uninterrupted since the child was a year old. That was almost 2 and half years ago. Of course we have talked to him about. We tell him if he wants more we can get him more, but no. I am going to go crazy.

Why I can't lose weight I will never know. For example today I pored half a bowl of cereal and only got to eat half of that. I made a sandwich and only got to eat half of that. My meals are never my own. Some day, maybe when he moves out, I will get to put food on my plate and actually eat as much of it as I want. I still have the baby to contend with. I will not feed her off of my plate. She will get her own. I vow to not share with her. I will not I tell you I will not. Who am I kidding. I am sure I will share food with her too. One can dream, right?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dear Hulu. Thank you for the memories.

My daughter is a Hulu fanatic.

She loves being able to sit on her computer and watch shows. Kids shows, of course, its not like she's just surfing the web and watching any ol' thing. Most of the time. But the best part is, she isn't watching just any ol' kid shows- she's enjoying the very same ones that I remember watching as a child.

It started with Rocky and Bullwinkle. Sure, that is a show that was on long before my time... but I remember enjoying those same episodes with my dad. Next, she stumbled onto Woody Woodpecker. Remember him? He's obnoxious... and not really how I remember him- but I guess things are different now. Now that her and her brother are expert Woody laughers- it was time to help move her onto the next shows.

Felix the Cat, Pink Panther, Casper the Friendly Ghost, ... all great oldies. As I type, Fat Albert is Hey Hey Heying in the background. And she loves to mimic the funky words and phrases they use! It is rather comical watching my 5 year old daughter wander around talking like a male teen from the early 80's! Flash backs, man... flash. backs.

I'm going to throw in my own little promo here and say, if you haven't ventured onto the Hulu site before- now is a fine time to start. Think back to your favorite childhood memories and introduce them to your child. Who knows what great stories it'll bring back- but I promise... it'll be a great time.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Identity Theft

I volunteered in my son’s kindergarten class this morning. My job was to sit at one of the activity centers and work on an activity with three or four kids at a time.

I’ve volunteered a few times this year, and by now have gotten to know just a few of the kids. But often, the childrens' names still escape me, especially if it’s not one of my son’s friends and if I don’t know his or her parents.

Such was the case with Hannah Montana, the spunky brunette who showed up wearing a sequined pink tee with said logo. I figured that rather than ask her for her name, I’d be manipulative about dragging it out of her.

I was handing out the activity sheets and came around to her. “Here you go, Hannah Montana.”

I was met with giggles and huffiness. “My name is NOT Hannah Montana!”

“Sure it is. It says so right there on your shirt.”

“No, that is NOT my name! It’s just a costume!”

“But it SAYS so, right THERE! Stop being silly, Hannah Montana.”

The little brunette is now giggling profusely and her voice is escalating. “No, I said it’s just a costume! My name is not Hannah Montana!”

I sigh in exasperation. “Look, of COURSE that is your name because it is ON your shirt. Just like my name is on my shirt.” I point to the sticker from the front office that says “Volunteer” on it. “See? My name is Volunteer and your name is Hannah Montana. That’s so easy!”

Now they’re all into the game. “Your name is NOT Volunteer!”

“Wait a minute. I know my name, man. How can YOU tell me that my name is not Volunteer when I say that it is? And besides, see? On my shirt.”

Three of them answer, in unison.

“Because your name is Samuel’s Mom!”

And that is how my identity was stolen.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beer Pong - Poison Your Peers

*in affected Martha Stewart voice*

Hosting a party that will have you waking up with a bad case of the Oh-No’s is a time-honored college tradition. Bored, underage and irresponsible drinkers the world over have played drinking games for years, because alcohol poisoning is so entertaining. The secrets of success are massive amounts of alcohol and reckless abandon. You can get your friends drunk, or you can get your friends DRUUuuUUuuNK. What better way to do this than to play Beer Pong?

If you haven't got your own table, a cherry-wood closet door can be transformed into a wonderful Beer Pong Table in just a few short hours.

First, acquire a cherry-wood closet any means necessary. I got this one by inviting myself into the home of a friend with cherry woodwork, knocking her over the head with my chartreuse Everyday ball-peen hammer and lifting it while she was passed out. *wry smile*
Once you've gotten it home and wiped the fingerprints off the hammer, remove the hardware on your new cherry-wood door.

Next, simply paint circles on the top surface of the door at the appropriate points with a sable brush and acrylic paint. I use a simple, antique compass I found at the most pretentious shop in Turkey Hill. I find if I use it without being inebriated myself, I make the most perfect circles.
Now, lacquer the top of the beer pong table, making sure the strokes go with the grain, of course, for a better rebound.

Once the finish is dry, I find that a grosgrain ribbon attached with decorative upholstery tacks really brings the whole thing together, adding that special touch.

Everyone should have a table like this at their next drunken gathering.

The Beer Pong's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where Do We Learn to Mother?

I know that many who would argue that mothering is a natural skill, inborn rather than learned. I agree - but there are necessary skills and sage wisdom that every mother acquires. Hence, my question - Where do we learn to mother?

Much of mothering is trial and error. It incorporates every general field of education, in an interesting harmonic balance. Management, Bookkeeping, Cooking, Medicine, Fashion, Music... to name a few. However most mothers have "mommy inspiration", a picture in their head of what their ideal version of motherhood is. Some of this probably comes from observing our own mothers, or the mothers of our friends. I am willing to bet that it is equally through both positive experiences ("That was great! When I have kids, I'll do that!") and negatives experiences ("I would Never do that to MY kid!"). That is where most of my parenting inspiration comes from. Television cannot be overlooked, either, though. How many women of a past generation looked at June Cleaver as a role model? Watching shows like "Jon and Kate Plus 8" and "18 Kids & Counting" or other parenting related shows, is relevant here as well. I don't want to emulate either Kate Gosselin or Michelle Duggar but I've learned things from them that I would consider to be essential! Experience dealing with children before having one of my own, I consider to have been an essential part of learning to parent.

I was entrusted with the care of four little boys ranging from 2, 5,6 & 9 years old when I was 16. The oldest was a great help to me. He was very levelheaded and enjoyed helping out with grownup tasks. The middle two both had mental issues - ODD, ADHD and the 5 yr old would later be diagnosed as Bi-Polar. The baby was just that - a toddler. He was the light of my life. Little did I know that from then on, I'd help my best friend raise him, while their parents were pursuing a musical career (not famous, but really talented - they teach now). They weren't the best parents, but they're far from horrible. I don't necessarily agree with all of their parenting choices, but that is part of the reason they influenced me so much. Who leaves two 16 year old girls alone for a weekend with 4 little boys!?

I learned to cook, do laundry and clean - it was expected of me. I also learned better manners, and actual proper table manners. They held their children to a higher standard than my parents did. Respect is a major thing in their household - "Yes, Ma'am, No Ma'am...etc". I learned not to slouch, let my mouth sit agape or talk over people - unacceptable behaviors that my parents ignored. I also learned an important lesson - how to behave in a manner contrary to your personality if that is what is expected of you. They also taught me when to hold my tongue, how to manage a household, and how to care for a very sick child. When the littlest one's appendix nearly burst, and he had complications from surgery I had to pack his wound with gauze and change the bandages when I cared for him. It made me love him even more.

My adopted parents were not afraid to bring up any topics with us. My best friend and I were often engaged in thought provoking conversations about politics, sex and other adult things - not lecturing, but conversing. They challenged us to think for ourselves. This definitely helped me become a more mature person (as if being thrown in charge of a household, didn't!) and to define who I am. They didn't hide things from us, but instead used real life lessons (no matter how awkward, difficult or painful to discuss) in order to educate us. I love and highly respect both of my friend's parents. From the time that I became an extended part of their family, they treated me more like an adult than my parents do even to this day. I hope to have a similar relationship with my son.

The children themselves taught me the most lessons. The oldest boy was mindful and smart, but he let his grades slip when in High School because he was lazy. As a team, his parents, elder sister, "adopted" brother (another friend who'd been taken in) and I found a way to encourage and motivate him to bring his grades out without threatening him (at least not too much!), and he did. The middle boys have been a struggle to deal with for years - testing their parents' patience. I gave them much more leeway than their parents would like, but the boys respected me more. Hrm... The youngest, he is a treasure. I can't believe he'll be twelve in July. They say that you can't love anyone the same way that you love your own child. The love I feel for that little boy comes very, very close. I watched him grow up, from a cuddly lap warmer into a kind, thoughtful young man. He's got an amazing imagination, and the drive to do whatever he dreams. I know that he will be successful. During summer break, I helped him understand the importance of legible penmanship - we wrote a story. After school, I taught him tips for remembering his spelling words, and challenged him to come up with more complex sentences.

There are some days while watching Connor run around and play, a memory pops into my head about the little guy that I watched grow. It melts my heart. I smile, but on the inside, I cry. Some things I do, the way I react - on first thought, it was an instinctual thing but upon reflection, it often turns out to be something I've experienced or observed before.

I love my parents. My mother drives me nuts, though. She's a cleaning nut. She loves to organize and re-organize. I like having a house that looks lived in. She likes perfection. I'm rather relaxed about dishes (isn't that what the sink is for?) and dusting (forget dust bunnies, I have a dust Zoo). My mom has always been supportive of me, but she has never shown genuine faith in me. There is always the shadow of a doubt behind her smile, and a hint of disbelief when I state that I believe or plan on doing something. I generally disagree with her parenting style. That probably is part of the reason that I respect my friend's parents more. Nevertheless, how she raised me shaped who I am.

Where did you learn to parent? Who do you cite as a mommy-inspriration? Where do you get your tips and tricks from?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

As I was looking up information to write a great Memorial Day post, I came across this poem- I do believe that in honor of today, it says more than I could ever.

His uniform, it gathers dust,
And yet she keeps it, as she must.
For since she heard the word, bereft,
It's all of him that she has left.

His many medals, multi-hued,
Recall his image, love renewed.
With pride and sorrow, in his stead,

They form a pillow for her head.

Her love was spilt across the sea
To answer calls for liberty.
Though he's been gone for many years,
His memory still ties her to tears.

Parades may form, and troops may march,
Processionals of neatest starch.
And they salute the sacrificed,
Who gave beyond what could be priced.

She'll line her walk with flags again
To honor all the fallen men
And pray for loved ones left alone
With nothing by a granite stone.

She'll lay some blossoms by his name,
Her loyalty thus to proclaim,
And hold his empty hat again
Until she joins the freedom train.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Out of line?

My daughter is in the first grade. There are children in first grade that have boyfriends and girlfriends. These are normal baby crushes but don't add up to much.

Where I think it is getting out of line is when parents start to encourage actual dates.

Recently we had a school auction. One of the mothers won a trip for her kid and three friends to go see a live performance of Cats. She had her son invite the little girl that he likes. Then she invited two other first graders that liked each other so they could have a double date.

She purchased a corsage for her sons little boy, had him walk to the door to pick her up, open the car door, and take her to the door when it was done. She said this was to teach him how to treat women.

The next week the boy thought it was okay to kiss the girl on the playground. He kissed her on the lips.

I may be a prude but this is not okay for first grade. If they start this behavior in first grade what will be left for teen years?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Birthdays are a Matter of Perspective

Today should be a good day. All I want to do is snap at people. Maybe it's the weather; maybe it's because I'm still sick.

I was hoping to sleep in more than an hour-and-a-half today, but I was the only one who heard Bella screaming, "Daddy!" with an urgency over the monitor. (She'll be 14 and we'll still have it in her room, I swear.) So, I awoke from my slumber to take her potty and we climbed into Mommy and Daddy's bed for weekend morning cuddles. This didn't last for long; she kept saying, "I hungry, Maddy," which is her own word for both "Mommy" and "Daddy."

She gets all set up in her chair this morning, and it's obviously I'm barely coherent. My mother says, "I know you just woke up, but would you wear this?" and she holds up a hideous-looking sea foam green shirt. I said, "Uh, no," and proceeded to fix Bella's breakfast. I'm really not one for talking first thing in the morning.

Dishes in the dishwasher this morning were clean and have been clean, but nothing was emptied from it; the sink was filled with dirty dishes. I emptied and filled it. I'm tempted to do something with the bathroom as well, but why? It's my birthday, so why should I do anything productive?

On a lighter, happier note, the hubs and I are going to see Star Trek once Bella goes down for her nap this afternoon. We have to do it then so that my mother can "watch" her and take care of her invalid asshole husband (he had foot surgery on the 13th and is a huge pansy for pain of any kind).

Bella's playing in the background and SpongeBob is even further in the background.

Happy 28th Birthday to me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

They're already broken

As parents, we all fear that we are constantly doing and saying things to our kids that will inevitably screw them up for life and cost them millions of dollars in therapy to recover from.

I say that we should stop worrying. They’re already screwed up before they even squeeze through the expandable tunnel to enter this cruel world. Or at least mine are.

You see, they are missing the brain cells responsible for telling them that public butt scratching is not okay. And they are also missing the brain cells responsible for determining that poop is no laughing matter.

Last month, the kids and I spent Easter weekend at my sister's house. My daughter brought her favorite stuffed duck with her, who we'll call Duck and who has a zipper on his back for obvious reasons. After all, with wings instead of hands, how else are ducks to carry things around if we don’t provide them with built-in storage?

By introducing this toy to my sister’s sense of humor, Duck was soon undergoing “surgery.” (He had a tonsillectomy.)

But before long, my son had moved from surgical humor (which I find rather amusing) directly into potty humor (decidedly less amusing) by hiding tiny Lego people in the duck’s body cavity and laughing hysterically as Duck “pooped Jedi warriors.”

This was so funny to him that he brought the humor with him the next day to our Sunday morning Easter service, then picked the most inappropriate moment possible to loudly declare that Duck poops Jedi warriors. Except that it sounded for all the world like he was saying “Jedi lawyers.”

I presume that Jedi knights make good defense lawyers? That lightsaber is surely a good negotiation tool.

As for the butt scratching, it all began with a case of the itchies brought on by the darling new dress my daughter was wearing in honor of the occasion. But my daughter was having a hard time reaching this particular itch, which she announced to every single person in the room, one at a time, via a simple request:

“Will you pweease skwatch my bottom?”

To which only my 17-year-old niece, Grace, had a really great answer. “You should ask your Auntie Therese. I bet she’d love to do that.”

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Hordes of RatDom - Confessions of a Packrat

My husband and I finally realized that a family of five living in a two bedroom house is good way to lose our minds, so we are now in the process of getting our house ready to sell. It’s been home to us for almost thirteen years and to our offspring, who are 10 and under, it’s the only home they’ve ever known. This is a strange and exciting time for our family, to say the least.

In thinning out some of the (for lack of a better term) crap I’ve kept over the years, a truth has been discovered. I thought I was frugal. This is not so. I am a packrat.

The proof showed itself at every turn. Each room I went through, trying to rid some of the clutter, I unearthed…

*echoing voice* The Hordes Of RatDom!

Did I really need to keep three pairs of Just In Case I Need the Material for Something Jeans that no one will ever fit into again?
And what about the Assorted Threads and Buttons that came with shirts I no longer own? Do I really need to save them if I didn’t care enough to keep the shirt?

I have twenty pieces of Rubbermaid and/or Tupperware. I don’t need twenty plastic containers, do I? I think not.

True, some of the things I’ve “collected” over the years have been little pictures my girls have drawn for me. So I should get a folder for each child and put in that folder only the pictures that make me smile when I think of how young and sweet they were when they drew it for me. I don’t need to keep each book report and spelling test.

Boots that fit no one, a lonely shoe that hasn’t seen its mate in eons, and part of a board book that I thought I’d repair if I ever found the cover are all going bye-bye. I believe it’s also time to say so long to Jaws since the last pages disappeared long ago and the shark never bites it in the end. Can you say cliffhanger?!

What about these boxer shorts adorned with “Get me to the Church on time” that my husband wore for approximately seven hours on our wedding day nearly fifteen years ago and never wore again? They served their purpose. Buh-bye, boxers! *toss*

After long consideration, I decided to give my tiny hotel shampoo collection the boot. I hope someone at Goodwill can appreciate those little bottles because I’ve just gained a cubic foot of closet space!

Whoa, look at the space we have in this place now. Maybe we don’t have to move after all.

“Mom! Tell her to get off my third of the room!”

Oh yeah, we do.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Forgive me, Father, for I hath sinned

Those of you who are or have been Catholic will recognize this as the traditional opening line for confession. That’s the thing where you go into the little Superman booth with the voice box that lets you hear, but not see, the priest in the adjacent little Superman booth who will listen to you spill your guts about all of your most horrific, guilt-inducing sins, then tell you what prayers to say how many times before granting you divine absolution from The Things Of Which You’re Most Ashamed.

I grew up Catholic. And I can honestly say I’m thankful for the fact that my parents raised me that way, because it provided me with at least two vital components of my adult life. The first one is an ever-present belief that God is real, though my version of who He is has changed many times during my life and is still evolving even now. The second, and equally important, reason is that it gives me great blog material.

For example, the other night, as my husband and I were on our way to marriage counseling, I made a confession.

“I feel like I’m going to confession.”

He was puzzled. “Confession?”

I frequently have to remind myself that his dad is Anglican (not that I know what that means), so he does not share my childhood images of priests, tabernacles, and altar boys of whom I was always envious because why on earth is it fair that I don’t get to wear the ridiculous white garb and stand up in front of everybody and be on the Holy Altar and ring a bell just because I’m a girl?

So I explained that I was experiencing the same feeling I always had as a child going to confession, the one about trying to remember all your faults and flaws and things that make you feel like crap about yourself before admitting them to somebody else with the hopes that your life will somehow be better for it in the end.

Turns out, I was wrong. Compared to marriage counseling, confession is a cake walk. “So, you pulled the dog’s tail, talked back to your mother, and didn’t do your math homework, again? Those things are not good. You should stop that. That’s ten Our Fathers and five Hail Marys. Now go in peace, and sin no more.”

But somehow, the admonition to “sin no more” never worked, because I would inevitably do something else for which I was ashamed and then feel guilty about walking around with the resulting black mark on my soul while I avoided the little Superman booth in back of the church for a few more weeks.

Marriage counseling, at least the kind I am getting, is a totally different experience. It starts in a similar manner, where you have to admit that you didn’t do all of the things you knew you should have been doing since the last time you met and vow to do better. But then you have to sit there, look at the face of the person to whom you just spilled your guts, and listen to them tell you why that’s wrong and what you must do to improve upon it. What makes that much worse is when you’re telling them about something that you are positive is your husband’s fault and not yours, and then they point out to you that had you responded with a tad less attitude, you might have been able to avoid fighting about it.

And when you leave, there’s no Insta-Cure involving a rosary and some uncomfortable kneeling in a pew. You can’t make things better by reciting anything from memory over and over. But you still get that sense that you are to “sin no more,” except that this time, you actually have to work at the avoidance of said sin, in a way that involves a monumental amount of effort every day and not ten minutes of quiet meditation in the back of a church.

Because when you go back there again, if you haven’t put forth any of that monumental effort, there will be no virtual slap on the hand followed by a series of Hail Marys as a consequence. Instead, you will be further along the road towards the disintegration of something that you swore would last until death do you part. And instead of living with the guilt-inducing image of little black marks on your soul, you could end up living alone.

I think I want to go back to confession.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Baby's First Kiss

There are so many moments in a mother's time that stand out. First step, first word, first full night's sleep... I, as a mother of three, have loved them all. However, I will openly admit that I have a favorite- a first baby kiss. Sadly, yesterday I received my last first baby kiss.
My littlest child is 19 months and has been a loving/cuddly child since birth. He has always loved getting super-nomming monster kisses. You know the kind- you start with a kiss and then muah-muah-muah into their neck to make them squeal with fits of baby giggles. All my children have loved that- but the littlest guy, he'd always slam his face into yours asking for more... to which you must oblige with tears of pain, but those darn giggles are so worth it!
Back to the kissing... After diaper changes, I have always given kisses. Usually whilst pulling up the pants- that is a good time to pull them close and steal a quick smooching. Yesterday, I changed a diaper- pulled up the pants and said, "Gimme a kiss." Suddenly, his adorable little self walked right up to me and gave me a kiss! Not just a cheek for me to kiss- but a real baby kiss.
I melted.
Then, he gave me a high five, a another kiss and ran away. He was rather proud of himself... but he'll never know how he made me feel. 100%, without a doubt, that moment right there made it all worth it. That was one of those moments that really proves that motherhood is the best gig- and though I'll never have another "first" kiss, it only reminded me that the rest of his firsts (as well as those of the other two children) are too quick to come. :0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When Titans Fall - Role Models and the Age of Steroids

By now, most Americans are familiar with the steriod scandals that have been plaguing Major League Baseball for the past several years. Since the early days of baseball, players have been the real life superheroes that little boys (and girls) admire and look up to. In a child's eyes they're beloved, held in high regard and virtually worshipped. From the time that they can toddle, many little ones swing a minaturized bat at a ball resting atop a rather short Tee. Some of their first words are baseball related. Baseball is America's game - a tradition, a part of our heritage.

My son is a born and bred Red Sox fan. I stopped nursing him, and turned him towards the television to watch the Red Sox win the World Series in 2007. Connor was born in August, so he was a little over three months old. He's got a Red Sox board book, and can identify most of the tools related to the game - helmet, bat, ball, glove, etc. He loves hitting his little wiffle ball of the tee we got him, however he hasn't mastered the concept that he needs to hit the ball horizontally not vertically. More often than not he is bedecked in a Sox related shirt, sometimes it is a specific player tee, at others it is just a team related shirt - my favorite says "Yankees Yuck." My little boy is going to grow up as a card carrying member of Red Sox nation. Should he decide to root for another team as an adult, I will not disown him... but I won't watch a ball game with him either!

When Manny Ramirez left the Sox I tossed his shirt in the donation bag. I'm glad that I did. I am also glad that my son is young. I don't have to explain, as many parents do, why his favorite player has been suspended. Why his hero is a failure and a cheater. The impact of the Age of Steriods, to steal a term often used by commentators and players alike, affects not only the ball clubs, the players or the management. The people most affected by the scandal are the youngest fans. I realize that this brings up a teachable moment about the usage of drugs, but the question that begs to be asked is - why?

Why is it that so many of baseball's great players have tainted the integrity of the game by acting in such a selfish and irresponsible manner?

My theory is fairly simple - Greed. Look at the salary budget of teams like the Yankees. Oh yes, Texiera is a good player, but not $170 million good, at least not to the Sox. Certain players seem to have an inflated sense of self worth. Free agents shop themselves around, trying to get the highest price possible for themselves - a strange and somewhat convoluted version of prostitution. Never mind looking at factors such as team compatibility and the overall atmosphere of the ball club. Money does not a championship team make! Having a working, cohesive team on the field and properly ordered in the batting line up are the two factors in how games are won.

What needs to occur in Major League Baseball is that players need to realize that it is not, indeed, all about them. Once they realize across the board that they need to focus on the fans. The kids who want to grow up and be just like them.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Birth though five

I have been asked several times to write down the story of my youth. This will be a condensed version because I understand that this a blog and not a novel. Today's post will be birth through five. Five through nineteen are colorful too but it is too much for one post.

I was born into a large family. My mother had 5 of us total, 1 boy and 4 girls. Each of us were conceived on a different type of birth control. I was an IUD baby. My mother promptly had her tubes tied following my birth. Five children by the the you are 28 is a blessing and difficult at the same time.

We were very poor. My father and mother worked at a used car dealership. The were able to provide our basic needs but we never had extra. If we did they would spend it frivolously. They had no idea how to save.

My mother took me everywhere with her. We were joined at the hip. She knew that she was having no more children so she wanted to enjoy me. She even had me glued to her while she worked. My siblings were all about a year apart but I was 2 1/2 years younger than my sister.

I only have a few memories of my father. I do remember my siblings hiding me from him. They would put me on shelves of the closet. They would hide me under covers. They told me to be very quiet or he would hurt me and bruise me. Mostly I was with my mother so this was rare.

My mother had 4 of us in the house. My oldest sister was living with my dad's mother in Houston. My mother had to get a babysitter. Her name was Niki. We called her Niki the hooker but I wasn't sure why. (now I know)

The biggest memory I have of my father was the night/morning that I was asleep in the bedroom. He came in and sat on the bed. The jostle woke me up. I pretended to be asleep because I did not want to get in trouble. He pulled the crotch of my panties to the side and I wondered what he was doing. I knew it felt wrong but I didn't know what to do. He put his fingers on me and his nail hurt me. I screamed. He ran out of the bedroom. (it happened other times but this was the time I remember and the time I reported it)

I told my mother and Niki. They got me out of the house. I was 3 so all the memories here are jumbled in my brain. I remember waking up at my mom's office and ants crawling all over me and it hurt but took my mind off of other things. I am not sure if this is the same day or not. I remember being scared and not knowing what to do.

This is the event in which my mother became aware of the sexual and physical abuse that my siblings and endured.

I remember going to a foster home for a little while. There was a nice couple with 3 foster kids including me. They told me to call them Nana and Papa. They where so cool. I remember getting ripped from them and back into my home. Apparently I had taken a bath with a 4 year old boy and I was 3.

I was glad to be back with my mother. We had a super strong bond. She had left my father and was taking care of us. She had to get sitters for the older ones when they were home from school.

She liked helping others although she didn't have much. There was a boy named Richard that was 15 years old and homeless. She took him in, gave him food to eat and a place to live. He offered to help watch us while she worked and the older kids were out of school. She took me with her. He ended up raping everyone (but me) including my brother and making them do things together. She got rid of him quick.

My father ended up in prison for raping 2 kids in Kansas. My mother had to do something and took my brother and sister with her. I am not sure exactly what that something was. She arranged for her sister and mom to take the other two of us. They were poor too so she used all the money she had to get them a car and set them up in an apartment. She was going to be gone a week. (she didn't want to repeat any of the sitter problems)

When she returned she came to pick us up. They said they wanted one more night with us and my sister too. She told them a one night sleepover was okay. They kidnapped us and ran.

We were running from the state and my mother for a year. We lived in a car, in homeless shelters, and in strangers homes for that year. I picked up the measles, bed bugs, and lice. I was taught how to hide from the cops. I also learned that the government and my mother were evil.

I was abused by my aunt especially but also my grandmother. I remember my grandmother telling me that I was an evil sexual deviant because I liked to lay my head on my mothers breast while I slept. She told me that that was a sexual act that I should be ashamed of. (I later learned she was bi-polar woman who was married something like 10 times)

My grandmother and aunt had a big falling out and we went to a motel. My sisters and I were left in a motel room by ourselves while our aunt went to work. I was 5 and the other two were 7 and 8.

I would hate to have been the cops on the day they found us. There was a knock on the door. Someone told us to open the door, and that it was the law. We hid in the closet as we practiced for the last year. The cop had the manager of the motel open the door. They looked all around and even looked where we were hiding. They were about to leave and they said something about thinking we had gone out a window. They decided to take one more look in the closet and there were were. We were huddled up in a corner, shaking in fear.

When they got us in the car we spilled our guts. We told the poor policeman our whole story. He kept telling us to wait to tell him when he got us to the home. We wouldn't stop talking.

We lived in a children's home before being placed into foster care. That was where I was adopted. I will save the tale of that adventure another day.

My story is not a story of pity or sadness. It is a story to tell you where I have been and how far I have come.

I am a strong and happy woman now.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Just a SAHM

Hello, Mrs. Jones,
I've just called to say,
I'm sorry I cried when you phoned me today.
No, I didn't get angry when your call came at four,
Just as eight muddy Cub Scouts burst through the door;
It's just that I had such a really full day.
I'd baked eighteen pies for the PTA;
And washing and ironing and scrubbing the floor
Were chores I had finished not too long before.
The reason I cried and gave that big yelp
Was not 'cause you phoned just to ask for my help.
The comment that just about drove me berserk
Was, "I'm sure you'll have time because you don't work."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

So glad I'm not a tweenage girl...

So, I've exposed myself to the latest sensation of Twilight. Patrick and I watched the movie, not expecting much, and we were pleasantly surprised. As soon as we were able, we picked up all four books. I began reading the first one the week before last and enjoyed it greatly; I couldn't put the damn thing down.

The following week (the one we just finished), I read New Moon and finished it in two days. I couldn't start on the third one, Eclipse, because it was still out on loan. I begged (okay, just simply asked) Patrick to run to the store and get another copy of the third one for me (I wasn't able to leave the school for longer periods than 20 minutes; duties). He calls me to say that Wally World only has the first one. Damnit.

Instead, he finds a book by the same author called The Host.

The Host is very different from the Twilight series. Twilight is paranormal romance and The Host is more sci-fi. I'm not as addicted to it as I was the other series, but I'm giving it a chance. So far, so good.

However, since I've finished the first two books, I've been wanting to put in the movie. There just hasn't been the time for it, unfortunately. I'm going to try and start reading multiple books at once, again, and hope I can get more from the experience. I miss reading. I have a couple of Christine Feehan books and hopefully those will tide me over as well until we get the third book back.

Love Under the Stairs

I have to confess that living on the cheap has become a matter of pride with me. I’ve always been thrilled to not be a slave to the Frappuccino’d machinations of Starbuck’s. I re-use plastic grocery bags as garbage can liners, and while I use disposable diapers, I don’t pony up the money for the Huggies or Pampers, but instead clad my children’s dimpled little butt cheeks in the store brands of Target and ShopKo. The “How to Live Frugally” articles are read through carefully, and their suggestions are often met with a “...but I’m already doing that!”

Sadly, this mindset is not blending too well with the planning of the upcoming nuptials.
I’m less-than-thrilled that it’s 75 bucks for the local government to grant me a marriage license. It took the clerk two minutes to type the papers up; considering what she typed, that license ran about 50 cents per keystroke. Of course, she did give Killian two squirts of the antibacterial hand sanitizer that The Small Thing finds so interesting. (It’s cold! It’s wet! It’s neat!) With the way the bidding process for government supplies works, that hand sanitizer very well could have cost $37.50 per squirt.

I’m not having to pay for a church or a reception hall, thanks to my best friend’s parents willingness to have their house invaded, their backyard turned into a wedding chapel, and their game room used for a reception hall. Shawn and I could have been married at the county clerk’s office, but I saw a wedding take place there while we were picking up the license, and even my non-sentimental heart cringed at getting married under a stairwell with the utility closet door as a backdrop.

The wedding dress acquisition proved for some entertainment. Craigslist was a gigantic fail, as that website seems to be overrun with people who missed the day in school when “cheap” was defined. $450? Yes, ma’am, I recognize that you paid $750 for the dress, but that was ten years ago, and no, that enormous stain from the cake smash your ex performed against your wishes is probably not going to come out no matter how good the dry cleaner is. I hit up the secondhand stores, but apparently the only people who donate wedding dresses are either a size 2 or they got married in 1973. My bacon was saved by a local dress shop owner, who chose to have her moving sale the week I shopped for dresses. I even found two I liked, but the one left hanging on the rack made me look like a Coke ad, where the lady is dressed like it’s 1902 and she’s dangerously close to spilling not her soda, but her breasts. It’s hard to pull off bride-like innocence when your cleavage is erupting like Mt. Vesuvius. The victor cost a whopping 40 dollars, and I WILL bring that up in 30 years when I’m trying to foist the dress off to Killian or Adria for their wedding.

We originally had a grand total of 13 people for this wedding, but caved to the pressure of parents and invited siblings as well. We’ve now got around 30 people (where did all of them COME FROM!?), and ohcrap they should all be fed. Double up the tri-tip and chicken boob plans, and pray we don’t run out of propane. ...-pane, -pane, -pagne, CHAMPAGNE! Awww, dangit! Even if we go with Andre for all, and four glasses per bottle, that’s still eight bottles of bubbly to buy. Bubbly, bubbly, bubbles, BUBBLES! Really should buy some bubbles to keep the kids occupied, but don’t get the little bottles they sell as wedding party favors because those suck. Party favors, party favors, party favors, PARTY FAVORS!? Awww, hell. I should give some sort of memento to the guests. Let’s see, no Jordan almonds as those are a dentist’s wet dream. Too little time to splurge for M&Ms with our name on ‘em. Uhhhh, howzabout a little tea candle in a glass with some sand and seashells? We’ll use the sister-in-law’s Cricut to do some fancy-dancy tags and tie ‘em up with ribbon. Ribbons? Yeah, we should get some to dangle oh-so-fetchingly from the arch. Arch? Shitfire, I need an arch. I wonder what I ever did with the one that was in the front yard by the roses?

Oh, yeah.

The dogs knocked it over and dismantled it during a particularly high-spirited game of what-can-we-wreck-today. Stupid ass dogs, and now I should find an arch. At least flowers aren’t a monetary concern, as I’ve got roses up the hoo-hah around my house, and I’m more than willing to strip my bushes bare. I’ll take it as a sign that even Mother Nature approves of this wedding, as my Sterling Silver rose bush bloomed this year for the first time in three years. Won’t those petals look pretty scattered over the top of the wedding cake? Cake, cake, cake, OH CRAP! I need to buy a wedding cake!

Y’know, a wedding under the stairs may be all I’ve ever hoped for...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ode to a cell phone

Oh cell phone, how amazing you are. You bring good new and bad. You relay information. The little one plays with you. The older one hates you. You have been dropped oh so many times. Pieces have broken off and yet you still work. Now I get to use you to send messages to my friends and family. Though texting without a keyboard is not a fun thing to do, communication is so important. Dry hands, slippery covers. These things do not go well together. Poor cell phone you have been dropped in a cup of milk. Obviously you are not that important, cell phone. We laughed hysterically for a good couple of minutes over the fact that you are now all wet and milky. Ah poor cell phone your front screen no longer works. Oh well. You are now two years old. New contracts will be signed, new phones will be had. The life of the cell phone is short and sweet. Poor, poor cell phone, your life is coming to an end.

Update: the cell phone lives.

CSI: Mommy

As a Mom, I have found myself doing things that I never thought that I would do. Things like arranging the food on a dinner plate so that it looks like an alien in order for my child to eat it. Or marveling over my child's fascination when he farts in the bathtub and produces bubbles. Even things like feigning amazement when my boy-child describes in rather technical detail all of the deadly features of the latest Bionicle he's created.

The one thing that stands out above all the rest in the category of "I can't believe I'm doing this", is my natural proclivity to identify the ingredients in my childrens' feces and vomit. I mean, c'mon! Who does that? Moms. That's who does that.

Last night at exactly 2:18am, I was awakened by my 4-year old who was sobbing and carrying a handful of puke. It didn't even occur to me to cringe. I ushered him into the bathroom, and because there was no toilet paper in there, I didn't hesitate to use my own hands to wipe away the icky and wash it down the sink. It did occur to me, however, to try to identify what the vomit consisted of. Seriously. Here I am, bleary-eyed with a nose full of eau de puke, and I'm studying the nutritional make-up of the recent contents of my child's stomach. Oh, Motherhood!

I recall the shock I felt when my son recycled an entire can of green play-doh. I'm here to tell ya that when it comes out the other end of an 18-month old, play-doh looks no different than it did before entering that child's mouth. Color and all. I didn't realize how acutely I usually studied the contents of his diaper until I was seeing Kelly Green poo, and couldn't possibly identify what he could have eaten to have that effect on his feces. I used the front of the diaper to smear the poop to see if there were any solids in there. I smelled it - yes, I did. I held it up to the light at an angle for no discernible reason. I had no reason to think that it was play-doh at the time. I thought that maybe his daycare lady had fed him unnaturally colored cookies, or concentrated kool-aid, or... or... It was then that I realized how much I base my childrens' overall health on what they secrete. The smell of those secretions. The appearance and consistency of those secretions. I felt like a goddamned blood hound. I learned about the play-doh after my daycare provider searched her house and found an empty container under a table in a corner with traces of Kelly Green inside.

Back to last night. After cleaning up Little Man and getting him comfortably back to bed with clean sheets, clean jammies, and a hopefully settled tummy, I returned to the kitchen. He had emptied his stomach once again, from over my shoulder, when I thought he was done puking. So, I had puddles of vomit specimens to study under the glare of the kitchen lights... at 3:00 in the morning. I saw last night's dinner splattered all over the floor - egg noodles, watermelon, and though I know he ate a PB&J, I saw no sign of it. Oddly, I wondered why my two dogs who voraciously consume kitty poop, had not cleaned up the puke puddles while I was upstairs tending to the child. I realized that I was hoping that my canines would slurp up the mess while I couldn't see or hear them doing so. So, I studied my fifth puke specimen in under one hour. As soon as I realized that this specimen was made up of the exact same stuff as the specimen which I had earlier studied in the palm of my hand, I quit examining it, and cleaned it up the best I could. I did order the dogs to remove all traces of it that I may have missed, however. Apparently, they were awaiting my permission. They attacked the scene with forensic-like precision, ensuring that the grout between the tiles would hold no evidence of the mess that occurred there. Bless those dogs.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why do we potty train them?

I know that sounds like a rhetorical question. But seriously, I’m asking. Why? Is it because we expect them to become self sufficient in all things excrement related? Or is it because we still expect the universe to hit the pause button on its expansion in honor of potty-related events, and understand that we are merely transferring our financial investment in poop-related products from the diaper industry to the toilet paper industry?

I contemplate this often, because my daughter’s potty needs are a much higher priority now than ever they were during the diaper stage. A wet diaper was not the end of the world to my toddler. She would deal with it until I completed whatever important mommy task I was involved in, then I would take a break, change the diaper, and life would return to normal.

But my potty trained three-year-old is an entirely different creature. She has what I call Baby Walnut Bladder, which apparently becomes excruciatingly full upon every third swig from the sippy cup. This sensation of fullness causes her to abandon all tasks great and small—everything from princess dress-up to Play-Doh—and launch into full-blown emergency mode:

“Mommeeeee, Ineedtogo potteeeeeeeee!”

I pause to consider. Is she capable of taking off her own clothes? Check. Is the bathroom completely equipped with a stool and all the child-friendly potty accessories imaginable solely for her comfort and convenience? Check. Does she understand what toilet paper is for and how to tear off an appropriate amount? Check (though her willingness to tear off only enough for one wipe cannot be relied upon under any circumstances).

So with all these factors in place, as I stop and look at my darling little girl who has developed the art of jumping, bouncing, and squirming about while holding her hands between her knees, I ask myself why she insists that she cannot go potty without my help. My guess is that it’s a form of manipulation that gives her the upper hand. She knows that potty needs take priority, and she’s using it as a way to gain control of me by forcing me to pay attention to her needs.

I finally managed to work out a deal with her. If she has to go that bad, as in rightthisinstant, she runs off to do her deed and I’ll come along shortly to help her wipe her bottom. I am still willing to assist with this task, as I figure that her days for asking me to wipe her tushie are numbered. All too soon I suspect that I will miss the sight of that bare little behind.

The other choice that she occasionally opts for is to hold it until I’m ready to help her. Those are the times when I realize that it’s about much more than potty assistance or the capacity of her wee walnut bladder (which is way stronger than she’ll let on). It’s about her wanting my attention. So we talk while she sits, and we giggle together, and I give her a courtesy wipe followed by an up-with-the-pants and an arm-tight hands-free hug, and we have fun splashing in the soapy bubbles together, and suddenly, I realize that we just bonded over a pee break.

And then I understand why us women always go to the bathroom in pairs. It’s bonding time—minus the courtesy wipe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

It turns out that today is my day to blog. Why did I pick today? Don’t I know how busy I am? Do I ever take that into consideration?

Aaaand I’m arguing with myself. Again. At least this time I’m not doing it out loud… or is it worse that I’m doing it here, in red text, on a public blog?

Ok, so. I should probably get down to this blogging business. Get serious. Write something really good. Meaningful. Deep. Beautiful. Poignant.

Or I could… not… and say I did. Let’s all pretend.

So this is what I’m currently doing. Today I’m writing a ten page research paper on polygamy. So far, it’s going well. I’m on page four. I had a previous six pages written that I wound up scrapping and starting over; the writing was bad. This is worth 20% of my grade. So yeah. It has to be gooo-ooood. Lucky for me I’m a good writer, right?


I read some good books, and am currently reading The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. SO GOOD and definitely worth checking out if you like historical fiction.

I need to mop my floors, but that shall wait for another day.

I feel like this has been the lamest post in Blog Like Ninja history, and I apologize for that. My head is full of polygamy. I need to get back to that paper.

 kungfu cat


Sunday, May 3, 2009

What I learned today - Where's the BEEF?!

Today I learned that if you leave a beautifully prepared filet mignon on the counter where a furry, soon-to-be-dead member of the animal kingdom can reach it, while you run an extra plate out to your husband, the Almighty Meat Griller, he will be nomming down on it in less time than it takes you to come to your senses and run to the kitchen, screaming "NOOOOOOOOO".

What did you learn today?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sick Ninja - *hack* *cough*

April 24th plus sick ninja equals an anniversary that could have been better. Patrick and I went for massages (first time since August) and then Lonestar for dinner. This ninja could barely breathe throughout the massage (needed kleenex 3-4 times in a span of 50 minutes), not to mention dinner. Lighting up the cigarette for post massage and dinner was ridiculous.

Before bed, a DayQuil was taken. If this ninja takes a NyQuil, she's out for 18 hours. Not so good when one has to be at work by 3pm.

There was anniversary nookie to be had. Details will be spared.

The BellaMonster was awoken by Daddy this morning and then brought in by Daddy (after potty time, of course) to wake up Mommy. Feeling a little better today; I can breleathe through my nose again.

There is a question. Why is it that when I'm sick, I don't mind not kissing my husband (I really don't want to get him sick) but Bella is irresistable?

Today is not much of an interesting post. Today is rather boring for me. This ninja apologizes for not having something more.. fun to read.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hot, in 2 ways!

Recently, my family moved into our first home. Actually, we’ve lived in many homes- but this one is special, as it is our first owned home. We’re really excited! It is a great house, sitting in a great town and located in a wonderful cul-de-sac.

When you look out the front window, you see many more gorgeous homes. They are of similar style but all made to look individual. Each home sits on a good chuck of property, and each and every one of them are beautifully maintained. Except for mine, of course.

The best part is that you hear and see children everywhere, playing basketball in the street, riding bikes, using sidewalk chalk... and being kids! Since we’ve moved in I had been watching the kids looking for suitable playmates for my darlings. Sadly, it seemed all the kids were older than my brood of 5, 3 and 1. Our neighbor confirmed my suspicion by telling me that her daughter was the youngest of the area at 8.

However, being a rather close knit neighborhood, it wasn’t long before the kids starting scouting us out as well. I noticed lingering looks down the driveway. Staring when they thought no one was looking. Finally, one brave set of little girls came up and introduced themselves. They were 9 and wanted to play.

Our house is a construction zone. Carefully, I directed them to the “playroom” and then to our daughter’s bedroom. Happily, they sat right down and played with my 5 year old daughter for an hour. They spoke nicely and treated her well. They were definitely older and wiser to the world than my little baby girl, but they were good sounding girls.

The next day, they came back. They asked if my daughter could go with them to their house. My husband looked panicked, but I took a deep breath and said, “yes.” (I’ve met the mother, a nice lady.) Off they strolled away, 4 houses down to the right. My baby girl was walking away with friends. She was a part of the “gang.”

I do believe that was one of the most exciting part of moving into our new house, thus far.

Later that night she told me that she was going to change her clothes because she was hot. She said, “Mom, I am so hot- in 2 ways!”

Say what?

And then, with her adorably forward self asked, “What does that mean anyway? My friends said it but didn’t tell me what it meant.” I laughed. They might not have known either!

I explained that it meant you are hot, temperature wise, but also that you are hot, cute wise and that some people used the word hot to mean “cute”. She thought about it for a second and asked, am I hot?

“No, love-bug, you are 5. You don’t get to be hot until you are a teen-ager. But you are adorably cute.”

Ok, then I’m only hot in one way- mom.

She walked off to change her clothes and I shook my head. I have a feeling with older friends; I’m going to be explaining a lot. Hopefully some younger kids will move into the house for sale next door… that would just make the neighborhood perfect!