Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy 13 Years


To me, the most romantic anniversary present ever. Happy Anniversary, Sarge -- here's to many, many more.

And because we're so romantic, we're taking the kids to dinner. My sister calls their anniversary the birthday of their family, so I guess we're taking them out for our birthday.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

All these toys...

And they've spent the last 24 hours playing their own version of hockey with wrapping paper tubes and some random ball they've had for years and years.

Next year? I'm buying a new refrigerator and giving them the box for Christmas.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas, y'all.

It doesn't feel like Christmas - it's like a hundred degrees outside. No worries, I'm sure it will be snowing tomorrow. That's just how we roll in Texas.

I think that Christmas was successful - I didn't get caught, but I didn't put the Elf away. I forgot. The elf? Y'all have got to get one for next year - the Elf On A Shelf - so cute holy moly my kids loved it! And seriously? They totally thought I didn't move the thing. For kids that are supposed to be so smart...

Next? Painting. I'm itching. I'm also itching to put away Christmas decorations, though my sister would have my head if she found out I wanted to put away Christmas before the end of December.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Changing Tactics


My daughter has been pretending she's a dog every day now for months. My method of operation has been to ignore it, hoping it will go away, or to tell her to quit crawling, she's getting holes in her pants.


Sarge and I had a discussion the other day about the way we (read:me) were going about it. We decided that it clearly wasn't working. So I tried something new.


I ran with it.


She has eaten her last two meals on the floor. She had milk on a plate this morning, and she's been eating Cocoa Puffs and Kix, because they look like dog food. I've been petting her head and haing her do tricks (though she does make me promise to do other tricks after 'play dead' before she'll comply). I didn't even get mad when her jeans got a hole in them after playing dog all afternoon.
I figure, it's bad now, but she'll get bored with it, right? I mean, who can eat cocoa puffs for every meal? Wait. Don't answer that. Gah. This could make for a very long holiday vacation.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Seriously? (Warning: PG-8 or 9)

I vividly recall walking through Hobby Lobby about four and a half years ago and the middle child asking me if the Easter Bunny was real. Because I won't ever lie to my children, I told her no. She promptly told her brother. She then asked if the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus were real. I delivered the bad news. She shared with her brother.

They both forgot this conversation when Christmas arrived, up until about three years ago, when the oldest figured it out. AGAIN. And I told him that now he was part of the grownups, getting to play Santa for the younger kids.

Well, now? They all act like they believe again. The youngest has no clue, the middle one is determined to believe and the oldest one acts like it's actually possible for Santa to come to that many houses all over the world in one night. I blame the Polar Express and all those darn bells they keep ringing.

Because, darnit, I want credit for all this shopping I've been doing. I've been in the toy store more often in the last two weeks than I've been in it all year, and boy, do I ever remember why.

GTG, I need to move the elf on a shelf.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New and Improved!

I have spent the last week or so changing my whole house around. Which, I really didn't have time for, but I really didn't NOT have time for, because it made my whole life so much better. SO MUCH BETTER.


I had finally convinced Sarge to let me have the play room. It was only a toy storage location and a place for the kids to make a giant mess in, then complain bitterly when it was time to clean it up, and so on and so on. So I took it.


We changed what was my sewing room, which is the first room you see in my house, into a sitting room. It is full of books and games, along with two chairs and a lamp. And for the last week, magic has happened there.



Magic like this:


And this:



And even this:



We are so excited that we are taking over the computer/treadmill/assorted junk room and turning it into a room with a table and chairs and a buffet. Some people might call that a dining room, but we're filling the buffet with games and puzzles, and we'll fill the table with fun. Sometimes dinner, but not too often.


Same space, very little money spent (so far!), and life is so much better. I love my new sewing space and don't have to look at it when I don't want to, and don't have to be overwhelmed by it as soon as I walk in the door. But when I walk into the space now, I mean business, and boy do I get a lot done. Phwew!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The last three weeks, in one horrible runon sentence

First, there was the fact that I couldn't stand my children, that I couldn't stand being a parent and wanted to quit, but I couldn't bring myself to write about it because of the guilt, oh the horrible guilt, but then I was walking home from school one day and there was my oldest child's bike right there in the middle of the road, but he wasn't anywhere to be found, just his bike until about two seconds later (which, incidentally, is long enough to go through about twelve of the worst case scenarios ever imagined) and my husband emerged from my house which was in view of the bike and told me that he'd fallen off his bike but he was totally fine just a little over dramatic which means that he was also totally himself but it made me realize that my children are like air - as much as I wanted to quit being a mom, all those worst case scenarios made me realize that I simply cannot live without them, although I was perfectly happy to drive them to Mississippi for a week with a hug and a toothbrush while I sat at home and watched sappy sad movies on Thanksgiving and ate a pumpkin pie - who needs turkey, honestly - while my husband worked, which was unfortunate because I got two dead husband movies and it didn't sit all that well with me, but I moved on and watched more sappy movies that made me cry until it was time to pick up my children again, (really, it was a week already?) and then decided that who cares that there's only three weeks until Christmas, I'm going to rearrange my entire house, which I did until the oldest child vomited all over the carpet and then I couldn't sleep for three days with the horrible, terrible fear that practically gave me an ulcer that someone else was going to start heaving and I hate cleaning up throw up more than I hate cleaning toilets but no one did, so I got a lot of work done in my new sewing room, which used to be the play room, and now Christmas is practically over, so I don't really need to put out Christmas decorations, do I?

Oh, my, I'm out of breath. I promise to get writing again. I like my children again, which is miraculous, because we just got home from the mall. On a Saturday. In December. Oh, and we went to the toy store.

Friday, November 14, 2008

If wishes were horses...

I was being the most terrible mother in the land today.

I made my son eat his soup. Well, I take that back. I told him if he wanted another piece of bread, then he had to finish his Butternut Squash Soup (Yay! Football is over! I remember how to cook again!). There wasn't much. He could walk away from the soup and be done with dinner.

Instead, he cried. And sobbed. And I set a timer.

"I just wish I didn't have taste bugs!"

Add that onto the dog refusing to lick my bowl, and I'm feeling pretty darn good about my cooking right about now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Twilight Zone -or- How I Thought My Car Was Going To Explode

Sarge went one quiet evening to take the boys to an event, while I was to take the girl child. He went to his truck. It wouldn't start. Weird, but whatever. The oldest child came in to get me, explaining that Daddy needed my help.

So I went to start my car. It wouldn't start either. Only weird because it happened on the same day as Sarge, but kind of par for the course for my sweet and adorable "experienced" minivan.

So we're left with two cars, neither of which work. I do what any girl would do. I call my Daddy. Well, first I had to call my sister, because I didn't have Daddy's work number, but while I was doing that, I ran to my neighbor's house and bugged her to let us use her car to jump start ours. And then I called my Daddy.

Meanwhile, Sarge jiggled a wire or two in his truck and while I was on the phone with my father, his truck miraculously started. Phwew. Never mind, sweet and generous neighbor - just wait another day, and I'm sure I'll need another favor.

So he went on his merry way to his event to go to with the boys, while I was able to walk to mine with our daughter. Settled, for now.

Fast forward a couple of hours, sun sets. We try again, thinking that we've both got to be somewhere tomorrow, and there's no way we're all getting up in the middle of the night to take Sarge to work. And by the middle of the night, I mean six in the morning. It won't start, so we start removing the battery.

My magical father calls again, I lament and whine, he asks a hundred and fifty questions. We reconnect the battery, as he tells me it can't be that dead, don't be ridiculous. But then comes the part where I thought my car was going to explode. I turned on the headlights, just to make sure it's the battery and not the starter. They came on, though dim. I turned them off. Well, I tried, but the lights stayed on. I start panicking now.

I was unable to turn the lights off. Until I could, but then, they were flashing on.off.on.off.on.off dimly. My poor father was trying desperately to understand what my babbling freaking out gibberish meant and was just trying to solve the stupid problem and get home from work already.

"the switch, it's off, but my lights, they're on. Ahh, I can't turn them off, it just won't work, do I need to get out of the car? Is it trying to tell me to get out NOW? Is it possessed? Should I roll it into the river?" And in my head, I'm deciding which dealership I'm headed to the next day to buy my new Suburban.

But then we reconnected the jumper cables and the thing started right up. I considered leaving it running, unlocked over night and hoping for the best, but alas, I decided to be practical and that my Suburban would have to wait.

And my father? He has a few new gray hairs, and I'm pretty sure he's avoiding my calls for the next little while, just until his heart rhythm goes back to normal. And Sarge's truck? He has to jiggle the wires every time he wants to go somewhere. And to think, that's our reliable vehicle.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Adventures in cup wearing

I am a girl. I am a girl with two sisters. You could say that I lack experience with this sort of thing.

So when we started this football adventure, one of the items that we purchased was a cup. And the underwear that went with it.

We called the cupholder-thingie a diaper. Because that's what the youngest thought it looked like, and well, I thought it was funny.

There was the time that we stayed after a football game to watch a friend's game. The oldest child was removing some of his gear and handing it to me. Until? Until he started to reach down in his pants in the stands. In the stands, in broad daylight, my nine year old child is reaching in his pants. And I knew exactly why, and said, "Oh, no you don't - you are NOT taking that cup out and handing it to me right here in public. It's one thing to hand me your helmet and pads, boy. Don't even think about it."

And then there was the time that it looked like a balloon full of pee exploded all over my bathroom. MY bathroom. Why didn't he use one of the others? Because it was just my day. I'm pretty sure not even a drop went into the toilet. He says, "But Mom, it was hard to manage with my pants and my cup and I just couldn't get it right." Get it right? Are you kidding? My bathroom smelled like an interstate gas station bathroom!

So, yeah, I was pretty excited when I got to wash it and box it up with the rest of the football gear. I'm pretty sure that I'll feel nostalgic toward football season about the time it's sign-ups again. Just like childbirth.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

the most wonderful time of the year

She's on her second list. She says, after ten solid minutes of writing furiously, "this one is more reasonable, Mommy."

Considering the first list contained every single item in the American Girl catalog, I'm thinking that it must be more reasonable. But I doubt it's reasonable.

When I asked her to put the prices next to each item that she requested on her first list, her response was, "But Mommy, Santa doesn't have to pay!"

She just asked what she should put down for item number 54. I think that a discussion about greed may be in order.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sarge:2; Mouse:17

Except that Sarge's are the only two who count. Because he means business. I've avoided the garage today, except for tiptoeing through it to get to my car on the other side one time. Only once? Yes, because the car is now parked out front (the garage is in the back, don't ask, it's a Texas thing and you DON'T want to get me started on that, I promise).

But when Sarge came home from work tonight, he came in with the good news, "Hey, the mouse got lazy (or so fat that he could barely crawl because he'd eaten so much in the last few days) and he's in the trap! What's for dinner?"

So yes, two mice. I wonder if there's any more. I'm not taking any chances. The car's staying in the front, and I'm making the kids go in the garage for me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mouse traps: found

They were being hidden behind the pieces of wood where we thought they were. The mouse has cleaned them twice now, just this evening. I'm thinking that the mousy mastermind is left.

It's a battle of wills. I'm going to win. Although the youngest is apparently rooting for the mice.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Growing up

The oldest child rode his bike to school today. He had a responsibility at school where he had to be there about twenty minutes earlier than we normally get there. We've known about it and have been planning for it for a month or so. This will happen every day this month.

When I got to the school with the younger two, I saw him right away. He was standing at the curb in his reflective vest opening doors and helping kids out of the cars. He was smiling. He never smiles before 8AM.

After I said goodbye to the younger children, I sidled up to him. He couldn't help it - he was grinning. He said, "I want to do that every morning, not just on the mornings that I have safety patrol. Please?"

It was a little bit of independence. Enough for him. Enough for me. Baby steps. It makes me so happy. Almost as happy as it made him.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Experience

We recently switched insurance companies for our home and auto. Ordinarily, this isn't very interesting ( I guess - it's only the second time I've ever done it...), until I read my policy.

We qualified for a discount. Well, rather, I should say my minivan did. It qualified for the "Vehicle Experience Discount" Which, I suppose, means that they threw us a bone because my minivan is about to fall apart and isn't worth much. I'm guessing that they're pretty sure that it won't last much longer.

Is that like a senior citizen's discount for a car?

Sarge:1; Mouse:0

We actually called the mouse hunting expert, Green Tractor for advice after the last piece where we just fed the mouse a delicious meal.

We invited him back for seconds. We wedged the traps, I filled them a little fuller, squished all the good stuff in the crevices. And waited.

Sarge went back out, two traps were where we left them. Two were missing. Apparently he looked back to where we were pretty sure the mouse was hiding and apparently found it, because he came in the house and said this:

"Hey, you kids want to see a dead mouse?"

Cheers went up, my blood-thirsty children all waved their arms in delight and excitement to see the dead mouse, even after they were warned about how gross it was.

I sunk in my chair, not wanting to be asked.

They all came back in, the children totally calm and collected. I asked, "was it gross?"

The middle child, the same one who begged us to see a dead prairie dog in the road in South Dakota, BEGGED, said, "Nah, it wasn't gross at all. He just looked like this!" She proceeded to lay on the floor, on her side, legs and arms stiff out in front of her, with her eyes closed and her tongue sticking out to one side. Her younger brother nodded in agreement that her positioning was good.

Sarge came back in and told me that I shouldn't use the trash can between then and Trash Day. And that there was a little trail of blood that I should either avoid or ignore.

But here's the thing. We left the other three traps in the garage on the floor, unset, while we decided what we should do with them, if we should throw them away or save them for a mouse-y day or set them again, just in case. We both remember where the were.

They're gone. Missing.

I have a feeling that we're not done yet.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Savvy

There is still a mouse in my garage. Whether it is the one that we put in the trash can or his friend, I don't know. All I know is that the mouse is smarter than me, and all of my feelings of kindness and mercy are going out the window.

We cleaned the garage on Friday, as the mouse droppings were multiplying and the sonic noisemakers weren't effective. So we got to cleaning up. We uncovered the mouse. He ran. And hid. We uncovered him. He ran. And hid again. I was entirely useless, as my husband ran around the garage with a shovel in one hand moving things and shaking things. I'm sure it would have been funny to see, but I couldn't see much with my hand over my eyes while I was screaming.

We gave up after the garage was clean, but he was hiding in a stack of wood that I have for making cornice boards. Mercy? Going out the window. We set the mouse traps. Four of them. Peanut butter with a bran flake topping.

Not two hours later, I made Sarge go check the traps. All four were still set, but licked clean.

Mercy? Gone.

We reset the traps. More peanut butter, squished in the nooks and crannies with a bran flake topping. Replaced them.

This morning? We can only find three clean traps. I have to assume he took the fourth as a trophy to his pile of friends living in my garage.

I'm going to come after him with a shovel myself if this keeps up.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Enough with the viruses already!

But not the kind I usually deal with in the fall. But I can't say anything about that, because as soon as I gloat, we get something. Some sort of vomiting or random fever for a week - such loveliness.


Gah! I'm so over computer viruses. I swear, you can't even breathe near this computer without it getting something. If it started sneezing, I wouldn't be surprised.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Football

My kid is the one in white with his arms wrapped around the kid with the ball. That's why I love football. But I also love that this is the last weekend. For the year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Frustrated

When my husband decided to be a police officer, nearly eight years ago, he took a rather large paycut. It was a conscious decision, one that we didn't take lightly, but we took in the best interest of our family.

When we took that paycut, we obviously looked at our bills and our expenses and also took cuts. One of those decisions was to sell the house we were in, buy a smaller one close to where he worked. This not only lowered the amount that we owed on our mortgage, but also made it so that his old truck could make it a few more years.

Here's where my frustration lies. When we sold our first house, as soon as our lender found out that we were downsizing, she offered to find us a loan to refinance that house so that we could stay. No problem, she says, I can keep you in that house.

No, thank you, I said.

No.

Yes, I understand that your corporation is willing to lend us the money. Yes, I understand that we qualify for the loan. Yes, I'm sure that you have some 5-year ARMs are really great products. Yes, thank you, but I've looked at my budget and what I feel comfortable spending each month based on the salary that my husband has and I'd feel happier with a smaller house and a smaller mortgage.

Oh, you mean I deserve a bigger house? Oh, you mean I can just tell you an amount of money that my husband makes that may or may not be true? Oh. Um. Yeah.

Could I please just have the loan that I asked for on the smaller more affordable house? Yes, thank you.

I remember this conversation so well. Clearly. And I'm frustrated. Because I don't even get so much as a thank you note from the government.


Dear Fiveberries in Texas:

Thank you so much for paying your mortgage on time every month. Thank you for not taking an ARM loan that you couldn't afford when the interest rate adjusted. Thank you for not taking on a mortgage that you knew full well would stretch your family's budget too thin.

Thanks for not asking us to bail you out. Thanks for not demanding the government help you out of the predicament that you put yourself in. Thanks for not involving us in an agreement that you made with a private corporation that you'd pay them back the money you owed them.

Sincerely,

The Government.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

No changes

I have been driving the same car for nine years.

I have been living in the same house for two and a half years.

I have been parking that car in the same place for the past two and a half years.

I sometimes even park in in that place at night.


So HOW did I manage to take a chunk out of my fence with the side of my car? HOW???

We did assess the damage and neither were fatally injured. Which is fortunate, because I'd much rather admit to my husband what I did than admit it to my mechanic. Because it's difficult to watch a grown man cry. BECAUSE HE'S LAUGHING SO HARD AT YOU.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why nobody sews anymore.

Because they decided that they'd learn to sew by making their kid a Halloween costume. And then they never sewed again, because all that ended up happening was broken thread, wobbly seams, wonky stretchy fabric and a kid who cried on Halloween when they had the lamest costume on the block. And lots and lots of swearing. And maybe a little banging of the head against the sewing machine.

THE END.

P.S. If fabric stores were smarter, they wouldn't carry any of that awful fabric for Halloween costumes and encourage people NOT to start with the most difficult thing ever to sew. Because slippery knits? Fake fur? Shiny? NOT EASY. And then, THEN! they have the nerve to add a zipper to the costume. Yeah. I'd totally quit, too.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I screamed like a girl today.

I mean, I screamed. LOUD.

I'll start at the beginning. I was driving home from errands today, and decided that today would be the perfect day to wash the windows. It's been on my to-do list for, I don't know, two years? Two and a half years? You get the point. Today was the day.

I came in, informed my husband that it was going to happen, that I'd love to have his company. Which means, "HELP ME OR YOU'RE IN BIG TROUBLE, BUDDY." He got the point. He was finishing up his lunch, then was going to come help me. I went to go get started.

First things first. I needed to find the window stuff I'd bought a year ago, with the intend of washing said windows. I was sure that it was right there in the middle of the floor of the garage right under that pile of plastic bags to be recycled.

I picked up a bag full of bags to toss to another part of the, ahem, well organized garage. It felt heavy. Weird, for a bag full of empty plastic grocery bags. I looked inside.

This is the part of the story where I scream like a girl. And then go running in the house, yelling for my husband that I need help, and I need help right now. He, I'm sure, thinks that someone is attacking me or that I've broken my leg, except that I'm running in the house. He came running. I managed to finally speak the information he needed.

A MOUSE.

I was unable to speak further, only point at the location in question. He removed the bag in question. The mouse is now living happily, I'm sure, in my garbage can. My husband kindly pointed out that I never put anything in there anyways. I assured him that I certainly won't this week.

The good news is that not only are the windows clean, but the garage has been cleaned out, too.

I'm not sure I'll be sleeping again until Monday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How I got my job.

My sister asks:


"How did you get into the sewing/draperies business? What do you love the most about it?"


I started making drapes shortly after the oldest child was born. I made them for my house. I made them for my neighbor. I made them for her friend. I made them for her friend's friend. It snowballed from there.

I have been working only on referrals for the last nine years, without a break. Well, except for last summer when I didn't take on any new work for three months. Even though I never did get a break.








I love my job for a million reasons. I can make my own hours. I can go on field trips with my children. I work while they sleep. Heck, now I can work while they play. I never had to put them in daycare, but could still make enough money to help my family. Those are the practical reasons why.



But the other reasons? I get to work with fabric. I get to make things for people that I'd never otherwise do. I get to be creative - I can walk into a room and design a window treatment that I think will set off a room. In my head. I get to meet people that I'd otherwise not ever have met. I create something beautiful (almost) every day.


I am able to stay at home with my children, yet I have something for me that keeps my mind moving in directions other than bodily functions and cleaning. I solve problems every day, but I get to use my inability to think in straight lines to work for me, rather than against me.

I believe that my job is a gift that was given to me, for me to succeed at or to fail at. But, through hard work and honesty, I have been able to be successful, and to get better and better at it with each day. I am grateful for it in so many ways.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What would life be like if I wasn't a wife and mother...

Green Tractor asks:

"Any idea about what you'd like to do as a profession if you couldn't be a wife & mother?"

There are two ways that I think of this question. What would me life be like had I not started down the path I started? And, if I am who I am now but wasn't a wife and mother?

So if my 20 year old self didn't marry Sarge, where would my life possibly have gone? You mean after the hopeless disastrous mess of sobbing and pining for the one that got away? I'm not sure I would have ever gotten past that. Ahem. You mean if I would have.

I think without Sarge, I would have gone on some soul searching adventure, like Teach for America or some such volunteer-ish adventure. I don't think that I would have stayed in Boston, but I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have gone back home to California either. I think. I'd like to think that my adventures would have led me to some non-profit organization or teeny-tiny profit organization where I could live on a shoestring in some sort of place where you carried mace with you all the time. I actually spend a large portion of my time as a teen volunteering for all kinds of organizations with all kinds of people - I'd like to think that I would have continued that, were it not for a wonderful man who got nervous when I would head out to all kinds of parts of town with nothing more than a train token on me. Practicality. Harrumph.

However, if the me who I am today were to get a job that I could get without worry of a ten year gap on my resume or a very strange job history or, oh, I don't know, qualifications? And I could do anything I pleased without worry of practicality, childcare or health benefits? Oh, my. A National Park Ranger? Alternative Energy? Shrink? Auto Mechanic? Farmer? Fabric Creator? Ice Cream Taster? Foster Parent? Bridge Builder?

Things that would NEVER fall on the list? Personal Trainer. Cop. President (they go gray so quickly). Computer Programmer - sorry dad. Housekeeper. Anything with the word "hospitality" in it. Anything that involved bodily fluids. Professional Organizer. Wal-Mart at Christmas. Sales. Anything that required precision. Hmm. I think this list might be longer.

I'm sure I could go on and on. I think that all of the things that are on the list have a common thread. I'm not terribly interested in making wads of cash. I want to create things or at least leave the world better than I left it. I would love to make alternative energy a real and viable resource for more people. I would also love to create fabrics - there are so many that I think I should be able to find that just don't exist. And, at the end of college, one of my professors planted the seed that I should become a shrink, and it's always interested me. But don't tell Sarge - he thinks that shrinks are quacky.

The ice cream tasting job - that would be for pure pleasure. I'd have to live at work, though - after a month or two, I wouldn't be able to fit out the double doors anymore. But can you imagine the job satisfaction rate for that kind of position? Or the competition for the job?

But, practicality always plays into it for me. I have an awesome job that I love (that explanation's coming - promise!) that provides me a creative outlet that I so desperately need and it gives me the flexibility to work around my family. But I work for the meanest boss. She makes such ridiculous demands and deadlines and makes me stay up until all hours of the night. If she weren't me, I'd have quit years ago.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

An easier, less deep question answered

My sister asks:

"If you could go anywhere on vacation (with or without kids... you choose), where would you go, what would you do, etc (if cost weren't an issue!)?"

Short answer: Everywhere. Anywhere.

As I think I've written about before, we want our kids to see all fifty states before they are adults. Mostly because my husband and I want to, and because we both like complete sets of things. It wouldn't suit either one of us to have seen 49 states. Even if the state left behind were New Jersey, we'd make the effort, simply to have a complete set. It's just an obsession we both have (I never thought I'd find anyone like me in that regard!)

So, yeah, I'd start with our country, just because there's so much of it. We are trying to decide if we want to head to the Carolinas this summer or if we're ready to hike in Colorado and Utah. I think we're leaning toward waiting one more year for Colorado and Utah, even though we're both dying to go there.

HOWEVER. Lately, I've been itching to get away just for a weekend with Sarge to a random big city, not rent a car and just take public transportation everywhere and hit all the little random restaurants that can be found in a four day period. The public transportation thing limits us a little, as does my complete lack of desire to go to NYC.

Every place we go, we always try to look at from the perspective of what it would like to live there. We have a difficult time being simply tourists, though we did a pretty good job in Tennessee (mostly because we decided pretty quickly that we wouldn't want to live near where we were visiting, that it made a much better place just to visit).

I used to think it was irresponsible to travel to a place where you didn't know the language, which pretty much limited me to the U.S., some parts of Canada, the parts of Mexico where they speak Spanglish and England, though I'm pretty sure there would be a small language barrier there, too. But I'm maturing, I guess, or becoming more of a Stupid American and deciding that I would love to see more of the world as an adventure. So maybe Paris. Because that's so cliche.

Still, the short answer and the long answer remain the same. I want to go anywhere. And everywhere. I want to see all the National Parks. I want to see all the beauty that this world has to offer. And I want to see how other people live. But heck, I'd even be glad to get away for a weekend to Austin. Or even Fort Worth. I'm not terribly picky.

Shameful:Shameless



Allowing the pictures that your children drew in the dust to collect dust : Posting pictures of it on the internet

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Why I hate computers.

Green Tractor asks:

"How did it happen that computers never really caught on with you? You certainly were exposed to them earlier than most of your peers. I sure hope it wasn't your experience with NULL pointers in pascal. I guess I always expected that there would be at least one computer nerd among you three."

Again, my dad has other insight here. I can't even explain properly here what I did to my father's computer when I was in high school. I was in an AP Computers class, and if I may date myself, we were programming in Pascal. To those who are also not computer geeks, Pascal = dinosaur era programming. I think it went something like this:

"Let's see if my program works this time!"

"Um, Dad? Could you come here a second? The computer just belched and smoke started coming out of the hard drive. Is that bad?"

There was muttering and mumbling from my father, I think something about how he was hoping that my career as a computer geek would someday pay for his old folks home and then some swearing, but mostly a lot of "you need to go tell your mother this is why I save all the floppy disks for recreating the computer as we knew it before you ran your program. And all the books too, while you're at it."

Short answer: I am not a linear thinker.

I can create and think and dream up problems and their solutions but then can't follow through with the daily monotony of actually seeing the problems through to their solutions. If it weren't for my husband, there would likely be days that the children were sent to school without their shoes on.

For example. The children were sick. I researched and shopped for the vitamins and other things that they would need to actually get out of the house and stop going to the doctor every week. I purchased said vitamins. I gave them to them for a week and counted it as a success. We would still probably have those original vitamins were it not for my husband following through and actually giving the children their vitamins every day.

I can't do a job that would require me to have a predetermined set of tasks to complete each day. And for computer programming, that would require using quotation marks and brackets in the proper place at the proper time. I seem to recall some shouting at the computer when I was trying to make it do what I wanted, "BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT I WANTED IT TO DO!!" And my dad would patiently tell me that computers always do exactly what you tell it to do. But the machine I work on would be required to do what I intended for it to do, not just what I told it to do. Because that's just frustrating.

My dad has a habit of answering the question that we ask, but not the question that he is completely aware that we are asking him. "Dad, what's up?" Yes, my father will answer "Satellites" or "the ceiling". I think it's because my father is part computer. Or just trying to get us to think like programmers. Whatever it is, it certainly incited lots of eyeball rolling from teenaged daughters.

Which, if I really think about it, this really just proves that I would make a great manager of programmers. I can think up the problems, then think up the solution, then tell someone else to do all the minutiae. And then tell them they did it wrong and to do it all over. And then go look for new programmers after all those ones quit because I'm so aggravating.

I certainly wish that computer thing would have caught on with me. I wish I could program these stupid things. I have all kinds of dreams for great websites. And what they'd look like. Just not the skills.

Answer some more

Green Tractor asks:

"MY GOD, WOMAN, WHY DO YOU NOT HAVE A JOB????"

or some variations of that.

But I'll answer first, "I've wondered why you didn't get a teaching credential after college. Teaching is certainly a rewarding (and valuable to the community) career. Teachers are usually in demand so a job is available in most places. Pay is OK."

He has a little inside scoop, since he knows that I was an early childhood education major at Boston College, with a double major in human development. With a hint of Spanish in there - there was a minor -- I tried to be an overachiever and triple major, but decided to get out in 3-1/2 years instead. Latin American Studies or some such. It wasn't a realy Spanish minor, but it involved something like that, I can't actually remember. Sad.

But the short version to the question of why I didn't go on to have a teaching career is this. All the teaching that I did in college took the hope and optimism that I had and crushed it. Squished it. Gone.

Here's the long version. I was one of the shining stars in my graduating class. I did very well, I served the school in a dozen other ways and knew lots and lots of people. Therefore, they gave me the best and most experienced teachers to do all of my teaching coursework. I taught for three semesters, once a week, then in my last semester, I spent every day in a classroom. I spent a lot of time listening. Even when they weren't directly trying to teach me something.

There were two that stand out in my memory as being life changing. The first was in the poorest section of Boston - I was in a Kindergarten classroom. The children were charming and adorable and I loved them dearly. The teachers went on strike. They wanted better benefits - I have no problem with that. But I asked what happened on the days that the teachers refused to work. My teacher responded that many children were sent to school anyway - and waited on the school grounds, unsupervised until they were picked up after school hours. The children were five, and this was not long after my teacher had pointed out the man across the street was one of her former students and now supplied drugs to much of the community, doing the bulk of his work within sight of the front door of the school. Oh, but the children who didn't get left on the school grounds while no one was there were left at home. While Mom was at work.

The teacher I was with had been around a long time. She had accepted this as something that she could only do so much to change. I was still young and optimistic and had hope that I could change things as a teacher. But I saw these teachers as having given up, and not doing what was in the best interest of the children. I didn't want to teach with these women, even though that was a setting that I felt called to.

The second time was the full practicum teaching experience. It was with a woman who had been teacher of the year for the state of Massachusetts, who had been teaching more than 25 years. It was in a wealthy suburb of Boston. She was exhausted to start the school year, having had to change classrooms and was dealing with a Lupus flare-up. About a week into the school year, she told me that this was the most challenging class she'd ever had, save one class when she was a new teacher. But the challenges? Weren't the students. Most of them were from the families, from the damaged goods that we were given each day when the day started.

She managed to get one family in therapy, which did amazing things for all of them. One boy had such terrible anger issues and frustration - he reminds me now of what my oldest could be if we didn't work so darn hard every day. But his family wouldn't do anything to help. I think in the semester I was there, I saw his mom one time and never his father. There was another family, who were the nicest people you'd ever met, but their son was so far behind - he was in third grade and couldn't read - but not for reasons you'd think. You see, they were Jehovah's Witnesses, and therefore didn't celebrate holidays, which meant that for each and every holiday or party in the classroom, he'd stay home. He wouldn't do spelling words or homework that celebrated the holiday or went against their religion. Mine was the first teacher, who at the beginning of the year said, "I'll modify curriculum for him. We'll make this work. Please, just send him to school. Work with me, I'll work within the parameters you set." I left halfway through the year, my term was up, I think when we were at the lowest point with that class. I didn't get a real practice teaching experience, because we were so hard a work dealing with the problems that I became her assistant, mostly because she needed someone so badly, there were so many learning differences in the classroom. It was at the height of mainstreaming ALL children.

So when I left, I left without much hope. Because when you are 20 and you want to be a teacher, it's because you intend to teach the world to read, you intend to change lives, and because you know that you can overcome just about anything. And suddenly, I knew that I couldn't. And instead of doing my best, I chose to get out.

I wouldn't join a union. I saw what it did in Roxbury, I heard stories of teachers sneaking into classrooms during a work-to-rule strike. But when I taught preschool at a private school, I hated it so much.

So I left, and I moved on to other things. Would I go back to teaching? Maybe, but it would be for completely different reasons than my 20 year old self. But I think that between my husband's job and teaching, that I would pull all of my hair out knowing what people actually do to children behind closed doors. And in the suburb that we live in, some of it's the awful stuff that you think of when you think of child abuse, and some of it is the living vicariously through the children, and some of it is giving children so much that you are creating disabled adults. I'm not sure that I can see all of that as a teacher, hear all of the things that my husband sees and deals with and still be a reasonable parent at the end of the day. Because currently? My most important job is creating adults. Three of them.

I warned you it wasn't a short answer - and it's all connected to the other questions you have, Green Tractor. But I have a cramp in my typing fingers.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I think I'll start with the easiest one.

Anonymous asks:

"And them kids of yours are smart little puppies. How'd you get em that way? I read once that a pattern of super smart kids is that they were read to, sung to, and talked to while still in the womb. Maybe that's your secret? I dunno, just something about sitting with a guitar and singing Kumbayah to a person's tummy doesn't seem right:)"

Clearly, not a long time reader, not knowing that the only thing that I overachieve at is underachieving. ;)

When I was pregnant with the oldest child, I had one of those jobs where I had to be there at a specific time every day. You know, like most people. And so I would time my getting into the car with a set of songs they always played at 7am. Every day. It was not classical music. And I blew out my speakers in my little car with this daily project. And once or twice, I worried that I was doing damage to my child by letting him listen to AC/DC every day, but then just turned the music up a little louder.

And then, there was all of the dropping on the head for the middle child. I left most of it out of the baby book, so as to not give her more ammunition for her therapist to blame me. But when she was a newborn, the oldest was holding her - it was so sweet - and then he decided he was done and rolled her off his lap onto the floor. From the couch. Lovely. I'm sure it was one of my first days home by myself with the two of them. And I'm sure I sobbed and ate chocolate. But all I remember is the dropping on the head part.

To add to my list of fabulous parenting, there was the day when I was at least 15 months pregnant with the third child and we were shopping at Target. The middle child was notoriously bad about sitting in the cart. You see where this is going, don't you? She reached for something, I kept going, she lost her balance and fell out of the cart, directly on the top of her head. So there I was, four year old standing there, I'm sitting on the floor in Target, threw my purse randomly somewhere behind me and sobbing while clutching my screaming child. I'm sure that was a lovely sight. She wasn't bleeding, her pupils were the same size, I was a disastrous mess, but at least 10 Target employees gathered around and offered ice and water. You know that you did something bad when the Target manager calls you the next day to check on your kid.

And all that was in the midst of the time when my belly was so big and my little girl was so little that I would knock her down with my belly because she would get right under me and I couldn't see her and she could barely walk.

So, Mr. W, my children are smart in spite of me and my careful, careful by-the-book parenting.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Daily Randomness

1. Changing my tire is no longer fun and exciting. It's getting tiresome (Har!). Apparently I can now do it in less than twenty minutes. Lovely.

2. Why is it that when you don't need help at a store, no less than 12 people ask if they can help you. And when you actually need help? They are busy swarming that other poor woman who wants to browse in Home Depot. Because I'm sure I'm not the only woman who browses in Home Depot.

3. Seriously? Ask the berry? I thought I'd get easy questions, like "what's on your ipod?" and "what did you eat for dinner last night?" or "Fake or Real? (Christmas trees, of course, what else were you thinking?)" You people are making me think! Yikes!

4. Seven hundred photos of a two day PTA event might just be too many. I think. And does anyone know how to scrapbook? I think I might be in over my head.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ask the berry

So my sister complained. But I've got nothing, except how immensely tired I am of football, how I have more than five hundred pictures on my camera of our PTA fundraiser, and there's still one more day to go, and how I actually feel like I have a hand in teaching my five year old to read, unlike his brother and sister who taught themselves.

So, the bar is open. I'll answer (almost) any burning question you might have. And no fair calling me. Ask in the comments.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Play-date-a-palooza

First, the shirt came home in one piece. He's been saved from another day of button-shirt misery.

Second, holy playdates, batman! It's gotten to that stage in our lives where it's so much easier and fun to have six children in the house rather than the three that live here. I never, ever thought that I would say that, but I didn't lift a finger the whole time. It was fabulous. And, now there's no arguing about who had more friends over or who's turn it is or it's not fair blah blah blah...

But now, I just need to finagle a way for all the friends to respond in kind all on the same day. Because that would be lovely, wouldn't it?

Experimenting with scissors

The youngest child is apparently having a Kindergarten heyday with the newfound freedom of scissors without supervision. And by supervision I mean hovering mother.

On Monday, he came home with two little slices in the neckline of his undershirt. At least he had the presence of mind to not cut his favorite Tony Romo jersey. I mentioned to him how disappointed I was, but didn't impress (on his rear end with my hand) upon him how disappointed I was, apparently.

Tuesday, at dinner, I noticed that there was a small slice in one of his better T-shirts, right on the belly. I was, to say the least, annoyed.

I sat on it a little while before I decided his punishment. And then the most evil plan of all hatched in my brain. I would make him wear a collared, buttoned shirt. To school. He hates those things. Backwards, you say? A little, but the idea of having to wear one of those every day until he can learn not to cut his clothing might just be what he needs to make the temptation go away. If we run out of collared buttoned shirts without cuts in them? He wears the ones with cuts in them.

BUT. I'm thinking that today will be the only day that he wears a "button shirt." I'll know in an hour. Or so.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Speaking of Laundry...

So today I folded three baskets stuffed full of laundry.

So how is it that when I walked into my bedroom tonight, there were three more baskets of laundry, ready to be folded and put away? HOW???

Monday, September 29, 2008

Warning which should be in all caps on the instructions


We've been tie-dying and I'm thinking that the thing about wearing the gloves? Should have been a little more emphatic. The color will wash out of my hands about the time the children grow out of their tie-dyed shirts and socks. Oh, and don't ask why. It was just another one of my brilliant ideas.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

quick thinking saves face

At the oldest child's football game, the cheerleaders gave out blue horseshoes with bells on them to the crowd to make noise with. Each of my children were the recipients of such fabulous noisemakers.

At one point the youngest child dropped his horseshoe on the metal bleachers. It made such a loud racket that even the obnoxious noisy parents in front of us turned to look. My baby, who's been able to blush since the day he was born, blushed and started to hide his face. Then, in his "outside voice" says, "Mommy, why do you keep droppin' that?"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Woopie misunderstandings

My youngest child had a request that we make his new cousin some Woopies.

So I did one evening while the children were in bed. I laid them down in my place where I put finished projects (read: on the floor) and promptly forgot about them. So in the morning, nearly the first thing out of that child's mouth was, "You made the woopies for my cousin!" Apparently I also installed woop-radar.

I was in the other room and mumbled something in return like, "I know, YAY!" then demanded to know if he wanted Cheerios or Shredded Wheat. STAT! Until about two seconds later when his little sad face came close to mine and said, "But Mommy, I thought when you made them that they would smell like a woopie."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Girls weekend

I took my daughter with me to California this past weekend for a baby shower/girls weekend with my sisters and mother. I learned several things about my daughter this weekend.

  • She'd be happy to get her haircut. As long as her aunt suggests it, not me. Oh, and a dog on her lap helps, too.
  • She only likes the idea of an airplane ride, not the actual ride. It's "boring."
  • She falls asleep like a dream as long as you wait until after midnight to put her to sleep.
  • She doesn't argue with anybody, as long as her brothers aren't around.
  • She likes me well enough, as long as I don't disagree with her.
  • It would be easy to raise an only child, provided that you never had to tell her no, and there were a plethora of other loving adults to take care of her at a moments notice, when, for example, you might want to get your hair done. For two hours.
  • She doesn't like it when people stare at her on the airplane when she sobs noisily for over an hour because she doesn't want to go home.

Monday, September 15, 2008

We're all playing football now.


The pig is now a member of the five year old flag football team. He'll be playing offensive line.
No, we're not obsessed. Not at all.
And, in my defense, the flags were placed on the pig by the five year old. Apparently he needed a teammate.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

This is TEXAS.

Hurricane? Tropical Storm? High winds? Driving rain? Pshht. Who cares, people, this is Texas!

And so we play football. Even when we are nine. And you know what? The boys have far more fun playing in the rain than the parents do watching.


I'm not cut out for this.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More food issues

Issues? Maybe just a little whining.

My best eater has suddenly become the world's pickiest eater. She would eat anything - she was so adventurous and would try it all and loved some pretty unusual things.

But now? I asked her this morning to name four foods that she likes. She had a very difficult time. She came up with rice, alfredo pizza (then tried to come up with 'cold pizza' but vetoed that one as a third food), then finally decided on black beans and olives.

Oh, and ice cream. So at least she's not a complete freak.

I'm mourning my child who used to request a tortilla wrap with spinach, grated cheese and italian dressing. I'm mourning the child who would eat grilled chicken. And peanut butter and jelly. And fruit. And vegetables. And chips. And yogurt. WHERE HAS SHE GONE AND HOW DO I FEED THIS NEW CREATURE???

Thursday, September 11, 2008

So THAT'S what they'll remember

When we went to Arkansas and Oklahoma a few years back, the two things that the kids remembered were the pool at the hotel in Oklahoma City and sleeping in the car when the tent started leaking because it was raining so hard in Arkansas. Never mind the adventures we had - mining for diamonds, seeing a bear, hiking, gorgeous views, museums and the zoo. Culture, gosh darnit, and all you people remember is the hotel pool and sleeping in the car? Definitely one of my prouder parenting moments.

So fast forward a few years, and I'm hoping that we can really make an impression and get our children to remember the national parks and wildlife that we see and all that Culture! Ahem. Apparently not.

We're in the car (obviously) and my daughter says to me, "Someday soon, I think that we should go back to Tennessee."

I was so excited! We made an impression! Culture! Fabulosity! Pat self on back! WaHoo!

"I want to go back to Ripley's mini golf and see the mouse who says, 'where's my cheese?'"

Oh. So that's what you remembered. Now I know. I'm thinking that we could probably not even leave the city and have a vacation of a lifetime with this kind of audience.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Death of the Family Dinner

Seriously, I don't think I've had a decent meal in weeks. It's not pretty.

Our schedule runs a little like this:

3:00 Pick up kids and walk home
3:10 Snack
3:30 Homework
4:30 Dinner
5:00 Get ready for practice
5:20 Leave for practice
8:00 Leave practice, snack in car
8:30 Arrive home, bath and stories
9:00 Bedtime

Honestly. Dinner at 4:30? I can't even force them to eat awful food and demand that they eat or go hungry, because they have to run for hours and hours. I can't send them to practice hungry. So I have to play short order cook and feed them all sorts of randomness that must serve as a meal for the next seven weeks. And me? I just eat scraps in between preparing the meal and getting everything ready for the Next Thing To Do.

But by then I will have forgotten how to cook. Or how to fight with them over how many bites they must eat before leaving the table.

And my husband? Yeah, he's on his own when he gets home from work...

Brilliant dinner ideas? My ears are open...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Children playing with guns (toy guns! yikes!)

I allow my children to play with guns. Toy guns only, however. Which puts me into a category of parents labeled, "terrible" but I do it anyway.

While they are allowed to play with guns, there are some rules. But different rules from some houses. Because of my pet peeve.

When my children are using a toy gun, they are usually playing the good guy. Soldier, police, whatever. So when they demand that someone surrender and put their hands up when that person is at gun point, they are not allowed to shoot them once that person has surrendered. Period.

Now, sometimes, when I'm told to surrender, I put my hands up. Sometimes I run away or run toward them. So they never know when they will be allowed to shoot.

But, when we're at a park, and we are playing with kids that I don't know, or might happen to be unsupervised (one of the unquestionable joys of being a football parent - not) - and they encourage my children to play with them and their toy gun and tell them that they are going to play "cops" while running around pointing a gun at all the other little kids, saying "Say your prayers" we walk away. We choose to not play with those kids. Well, really, I choose for them that they aren't playing with that child, in that manner.

So while so many parents reluctantly allow their children to play with guns but tell them not to point it at anyone, I rebel (surprise!). But we follow rules when we point that gun. Because lets face it - we have handguns in my house. They are locked up in a safe, high on a shelf in a closet the children have no business being in, BUT, chances of my children shooting a handgun in their lives is high.

So I will teach them. From the beginning. Instead of being scared and hiding our heads in the sand, we will embrace the danger and give them all the knowledge they need so that guns will be boring, a tool to be used in a specific setting. Kind of like a toilet brush.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Missing them.

I miss my children.

Yes, they are all here. Sleeping soundly, in fact, something that I should be doing, also, but this thought keeps entering my head. I just miss them.

Each morning, we wake up before seven, they dress, eat breakfast, pack lunches and I walk them to school. I have seven glorious hours that fly by before I can get done even half the things I think I should while they're gone.

As soon as they come home from school, they have a snack, do their homework, play for about seven minutes, until it's time to eat a light dinner, get dressed for practice and then off we go. As soon as we get done, it's bath, stories and bedtime.

I feel like every time I speak to my children, I'm directing them to their next step. We're not spending time just being. We are going and doing, and even when we're not doing at the moment, I'm contemplating the time, how much time we have, how much time we need and how I'm going to get them to do the next thing on our agenda.

I'm just not an agenda gal. My pediatrician used to ask me how often my newborns ate. I never knew - I just fed them when they were hungry. He asked how long they nursed. I never knew - they stopped when they were done. I quit wearing a watch when my first child was born, because I thought it wasn't comfortable when I was snuggling his soft little head. I've never worn one since.

I miss listening to them play, having casual conversations with them about things that are important to them, not just demanding they list the things that they did at school all day and directing them to their next step. I'll be glad when football season is over, though I'm pretty sure we'll just be heading on to the next sport. I just want my children and our non-schedule schedule back.

I hope I don't have to wait until summer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Confessions

Since I've been a terrible blogger of late, and I now need to pay my father for his Network Administrator services in blog posts, I really need to get cracking, as I think I must owe him at least twelve.

I suppose that should be my first confession. My father is my computer-go-to-guy. How embarassing is that for a thirty three year old woman? And sadly, once he becomes obsolete, er, I mean, IF he becomes obsolete, then my kids will be my computer go-to people. I hope. Because otherwise I'm hopeless.

But this leads me to my next confession. When I was in college, in the mid-nineties, I thought the internet was dumb, a passing phase, a silly thing my roommates wasted their time on, that I couldn't be bothered with. This from a girl who's sister invented internet dating. We had this cute service at our house! It was called Prodigy! We could communicate with other people over the phone line! My sister met a cute boy from across town! They dated! They broke up! THIS WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE INTERNET AND I WAS A PART OF IT. AND TOTALLY MISSED IT. Please, don't ask me to forecast the companies of the future - tempting, I know.

And this, leads me to my next bit of breathtaking stupidity. People would always make the comment "The days are getting longer" or "The days are getting shorter" Hmm. I always thought they were all twenty-four hours? The clocks - how do they know? Even the cheap ones know to shorten the seconds and minutes? Weird! The most embarassing part? I was in college before I figured it out. Don't tell my children, they still think I'm smart-ish.

And then, because you've had enough of my complete idiocy, a bit of an idiosyncracy. Well, issues. It's toothpaste. The lid must go on after use. I can't use a tube of toothpaste that's all sticky and has globbed up toothpaste all over it. I'm actually not anal about much, but if my husband refused to cooperate with this one, he'd totally have his own tube that I would refuse to use. I'd rather clean toilets with my eyelashes than touch a tube of globby toothpaste. Well, maybe not, but you get the idea. Let's say it together - ISSUES.

And then last, a problem. A rather large problem. I can't eat around old people. I don't know where this one came from - maybe from all that volunteering I did as a teenager feeding cauliflower puree to old people who smelled like week-old pee and bingo cards, but I just can't do it. Bigotry? Ageism? I don't know, but maybe it will be my next diet secret.

So there. Most of my deep dark secrets and admissions of idiocy and discrimination, all in one post. And all thanks to my dad for getting my internet connection back up and running. I'm not sure that we have much to thank him for, after this bit of frightening-ness, do we?

Friday, August 29, 2008

perspective

We had an additional five year old in our car tonight. While we were going where we were going (football practice - where else would I go on a Friday night?), the middle child was acting completely normally.

Well, normal for her.

This extra five year old, no joke, turned around in the minivan, looked her in the eye and said, "Why are you acting like that?"

I nearly ran off the road with four precious bodies in my car I was laughing so hard.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Plans.

My sister told me that I should have a specific plan for the first day that all the children were at school.

My plan so far: Sob like a baby, fret over the dog (because there's noone else to fret over), snivel on the couch while watching soap operas, then pick up the children from school and wonder why on earth I missed them.

Sound good?


I'm only half kidding - I haven't shed a tear - I hid behind my camera at the Kinder-mom breakfast, citing my job as PTA Historian as my excuse, but I am worried about my dog - what dog only eats half her breakfast? She must miss the children, too. If she dies while they're at school they'll never forgive me.

And I'm spending part of the day resisting the incredible urge to run back to the school with the binder that my oldest child forgot. With everything in it. But he's in fourth grade now, and these are the rules, right? You don't bring him his stuff? Right? Right?

Oh, and I filled out paperwork until my fingers bled. And now I'm going to fold laundry, put it away and then sew. I'm currently avoiding the treadmill, which was technically on my plan for the day, but I may have used up that slot fretting over the dog. While eating bon bons. But whatever.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Isms

The little one only had school for an hour this morning, so in honor of his last day alone with me, here are a few of his words in the last few days.

"I hate itches I can't reach."

"Do all robbers have gold teeth?"

"I used my golfing stick to turn on the lights!" You mean golf club? "It's my golfing stick!"

"Can we go home now?" That was after about ten minutes of Kindergarten.

"Do squirrels have a penis?" "Really?" "That's weird!" Giggle.

"Do I have to wear my puffy thing to football?" He was referring to his large piece of batting that he wears over his cast to protect the other players. We call him the Michelin Man. He's not terribly fond of that, but he'll do just about anything to play football.

But the best came from his teachers - she was explaining the required footwear for PE, and was telling us that they couldn't wear gators to school - there was giggling, "you mean CROCS?"


Sorry, that's all I've got today. I've got two in school and one more to go. We're headed to the doctor today to re-x-ray his arm. Fingers crossed for a new non-smelly short cast!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Just when I was starting to get excited...

We got a form from the music teacher. Fourth graders begin to play the recorder. The recorder sounds annoying and screechy when played by someone who knows what they are doing. I'm thinking ear plugs. And headphones.


P.S. If the words are tear-stained in the next few days, please, just politely look away and pretend you didn't notice. I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to be okay with having a fourth grader, a second grader and a kindergartener.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Confessions of a PTA Mom

When my oldest child started Kinder, and in First grade, I was the most anti-PTA person I'd ever met. I had to keep it quiet - I thought that it was a way for people with no lives to get control and power in a setting where they didn't have to get hired and couldn't get fired. I thought it was the most inane way to spend one's time.

Until. Until my oldest child begged me to get involved with the PTA when we changed schools. So I put my pride and convictions aside and did it for my kid. And mostly because I knew it was a way to get to know the school - really get to know the school. And maybe I could get up on my soapbox and complain about how no one there had a life. I was bitter about the times when it took me away from my family - I'd say to my husband "Why would I be involved with something that claims to be for my children but actually takes me away?" This is ridiculous! And I may have stomped my feet. Or not. But probably.

But then I jumped in with both feet, figuring that old saying must be true - "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." And lo and behold, there I am in the middle of the biggest fundraiser of the year.

All that money! Our PTA was able to pay for a lot of extras for our school - things that the kids didn't necessarily NEED, but some great things for them. Programs - at assemblies, special science programs, BOOKS and more BOOKS, benches for the front of the school, benches and shade at the field, trees!, lunches for the teachers, extra supplies for the teachers, the list goes on and on.

None of these things were imperative. But all of it makes my child's learning experience better and their teacher's happier and better able to do their jobs. So I've done a complete 180 degree turn from where I was four years ago, and I'm so happy that I did.

A moment

I had a moment today. The children and I were out running errands - we were coming out of the post office and we were laughing and joking. We were having fun, despite the mundane nature of our errands. They were helpful and working together. It was a moment, for sure.

I said to them as we walked out, "You know, I'm going to miss you guys next week - you're great companions and I enjoy being with you. I might even be lonely next week when you're in school."

My heart was full.

Then they started to argue over who was the most helpful and lovely.

And I asked, "Did y'all do that on purpose? Start arguing so I wouldn't miss you next week and just shove you in the door of the school? Because I'm thinkin'..."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Becoming an obsession

The football pants.

It's been more than a week of practices, and regardless of whether or not I wash the pants the minute they walk in the door, they look no different when I take them out of the washing machine.

The ladies sat at the sidelines of practice today, and instead of talking about crockpot meals and potty training, the conversation turned to the dreaded white pants. One boy hides them from his mother and doesn't allow her to wash them - the smell and filth apparently are a source of pride. And the fact that one boy's pants were pristine. His mother admitted to spending hours on them yesterday, to get them clean.

Guess what? Ten minutes into practice? Covered in mud.

So I started not feeling so badly - I mean, who cares, right? But I had an idea. What if I washed them once, then took a scrub brush and some Spray 'n Wash and scrubbed, threw them back in the wash. So when we got home, I tried it. It didn't take too much time - less time than it will take him at practice to get them muddy again, provided that he doesn't trip on the way from the car to the practice field.

White. The pants are white. Mostly white. I was so proud. SO PROUD. I'd redeemed myself! I am a Proper Football Mother now! And a Woman.

I was so proud that I told my sweet nine year old boy that I'd managed to succeed at making his pants white again, regardless of the copious amounts of rain that is making the field a giant puddle of mud for him to roll around in.

And he says, "OH, NO! The coaches were making fun of the kids who's pants were too white!"

Um. Oh. Now I know.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Complaining about the wrong thing

The middle child has been complaining and complaining that the little one is getting so much attention because of his arm. Honestly? He's getting a little more than he usually does, but not as much as I would think a kid with a broken arm would ordinarily ask for.

I've spent a lot more time sitting on the couch than I normally do, but sitting with both of them. She's getting more attention by default that she normally would because they're not off playing and ignoring me.

Until this morning. I figured out what she really meant when she wasn't getting enough attention. She wasn't getting enough attention from her brother. When she asked him to play with her, he'd actually turn her down, which he NEVER does. EVER. He wasn't running off to play "Johnny and Petunia" with her or even play Barbie with her.

He was in a fair amount of pain yesterday, so he spent a good portion of it sitting still, which he never does. But today, he's felt better, and they've run off to play together for a good bit of the day, and lo and behold, she's not complaining about the lack of attention, even though she's gotten less today than she did yesterday.

The older two even went so far yesterday as to say they wish they'd broken their arms so they could get attention. I'm pretty sure the littlest one would be perfectly happy to have had it happen to them instead of him.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Highlighting the need for better American schools

It's tax-free weekend here in Texas, meaning that if you want to buy specific back-to-school items, but, obviously, not including paper, pencils, crayons and backpacks - because, duh, why would anyone buy those things this time of year? -- you don't have to pay tax.

So I got the extraordinary pleasure of watching the news about it yesterday, and the reporter had a whiteboard in the shoe section of Target, explaining that the experts say that if you spend $100, the average person will save approximately $8. On a whiteboard. She wrote the two numbers, $100 and $8.

Um? The tax rate? Approximately 8%. She picked a hundred dollars? And felt the need to put this on a white board? And quote the experts? What experts - my calculator? my nine-year-old? Or wait, my five year old?

Honestly. I'm a little ashamed. And a little embarassed. And a lot scared.

Friday, August 15, 2008

NOT what I intended.

I've been quietly praying for months that I would be able to handle both boys going to practice and the schedule that entails. Once I found out that all three of the littlest one's practices were on the same nights as three of the four of the biggest kids' practices, I'd been praying even harder.

I've been trying to be patient, knowing that things would work themselves out. The first week, Sarge was able to help. Tomorrow morning was going to be my first test - Sarge was to be at work and the boys were practicing across town from one another, both ending at the same time. I had to be in two places at once.

So, this evening, I tucked my pride between my legs and asked one of the other moms who lives near us to help - to drop the oldest one at the littest one's practice field when they were done, which was on her way home. She so very graciously said that of course she would help, and of course she wouldn't mind. I let the coach know that I would be leaving the oldest in the morning, and that I would leave him my cell phone, and not to panic if the police show up to watch practice.

But then. But then. The children were off playing on the playground together. Until the middle one ran up to me saying that the littlest was hurt and needed me. I ran.

My heart perked up a little when I saw him standing up - I could see the back of his head, and thought, "that little stinker isn't even crying and I ran all the way over here!" But no, I got to him - he was covered in dirt and was holding his arm. HIS ARM.

He wouldn't move it. I carried him over to where the grownups were and got him a juice box to chill his little arm. He refused a cookie. We decided that we needed to get him an xray. Because we all know there's something wrong with that kid if he doesn't want a cookie.

So we did. And it's broken. His left arm. His throwing arm. His writing arm. School starts in a week. But I don't have to be in two places in the morning. Even though I'd rather try to be than to have another broken arm on that baby.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Emphasizing my womanly shortcomings

Apparently, along with never having learned how to change a tire, I am completely inept at getting out grass stains.

One football practice, two grass-stained knees. WHY DO THEY WEAR WHITE PANTS???


GAH!

The fashion sense of a stick.

I made the mistake of purchasing super-hip plaid shorts for my oldest child. They're very "of-the-moment" style. And I loved them.

What I didn't know is that he would pair them with a bright golden yellow T-shirt. And black socks, pulled up to his knees, with fish on them. And very old ratty sneakers.

It may have been spite, because he wasn't terribly excited about the shorts. But I'm honestly afraid that it wasn't. Just the fashion sense of a sixty year old man (sorry, dad.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

VictoREEEE!

I did something this afternoon that I thought was not possible.

It was something I'd never done before, nor had I ever been taught.

It took courage.

I was sure that I'd do something wrong and cause major damage or bodily harm to me or my children.

Wanna know what it was?

I CHANGED MY TIRE.

I know, I know, I can't believe it either. And it didn't even fall off when I was driving down the road!

I got ready to leave this evening to go to a fun event with the children. My neighbor's mowing man flagged me down as I was backing up out of the driveway. I thought, "oh, Dear Lord, please don't ask me if I need yard service. And please don't yell at me, because I know I was close to you, but I totally saw you there. I was not going to run over you." But, alas, the nice young man said, "your tire - es no good." Me? Wha? Surely you're joking.

I pulled back into my driveway, hopped out, and sure enough, I couldn't even believe I'd gone an inch without noticing - flat was an understatement! So I stomped a little, then tried not to cry a little, then I did what any American woman would do. I called my husband. And begged. He wasn't terribly happy about coming home.

My argument was this: "you do it for perfect strangers all the time, but not for your own wife? Boo Hoo Hoo." His response," Yes, but they're usually on a major road or in the way or in danger. You're in the driveway. I'll be home in ten minutes. Grr."

As I waited, I told the childen to get the chairs out and make themselves comfortable, because there's no point in changing the tire if you're not going to have an audience. And I got to work. I got out the jack, and began to jack up the car. I had a little help from some smaller people. I lowered the spare. By the time Sarge made it to the house, I was standing on the tool to loosen the lug nuts, because, my word they were tight! I was on number three when he arrived, and by that time, I had something to prove - I was not going to let him take the glory for all that work I'd done loosening them!

And I completed the task. Took the flat tire off, placed the spare on and replaced the lug nuts. In the right order. All he did was add some man-muscle to the nuts to make sure the tire didn't fly off. Lowered the jack and was on my merry, very late way.

Next on my list? Learn to change the oil. Because my dream job? It's totally a mechanic - even though no one believes me when I tell them that. But I took the first step, right?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Disaster Area

And I'm not talking about my house. Well, I could be. But I'm not.

I woke up this morning, thinking there was something in my eye. Upon closer inspection, I discovered there was not, but my eyeball still hurt. And it has all day.

Then, I was working in the garage and stepped on a nail. Ouch. And no one was even around to hear my wails and pity me.

After I hopped dramatically to find Sarge, who got me the alcohol and a Spongebob Band-Aid, I got back to work. Sarge decided that he would leave, as I was using power tools and my track record wasn't very good for the day.

I survived, broken and battered, hopping and winking my way through the day. Here's hoping that tomorrow will be better (especially since it involves ladders and more power tools and making holes in someone else's house!)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I made it.

Phwew. I made it through our first morning of practice. Oh, the boys? They did fine, too.

I did not immediately come home and start spraying and teasing my hair. I did not cheer or yell from the sidelines. I think I managed myself just fine, and even participated in a conversation about what gift we should make for the cheerleaders. I'm even bringing my pinking shears on Monday.

However, I may have negated all that with my sideline bets on when my child would fall. And my subsequent cheering when he did fall, because I totally could make some extra cash over on the sidelines.

On a side note, the littlest one has been wearing his practice pants ever since he came home. I may have to hide his jersey so that I can wash it. And the oldest one is a little surprised at how much work it all is.

Friday, August 8, 2008

C'mon, hit me! Hit me!

Football starts tomorrow. It's this giant thing here, where no one's allowed to practice before tomorrow, except for the cheaters who practice in the coach's backyard with a "pickup" game.

All over this town, every park, every field will be filled with kids from five to twelve. And their rowdy, overzealous parents, wearing bedazzled tshirts with their sons' names on them.

We're a little excited, and by "we" I mean the children. We've been conditioning for weeks now, playing outside with all the gear on, in the sun for as long as we can bear it (about four minutes) and then every evening with Sarge the kids have been playing some kind of sport in the backyard. Because, you know, it's August, and it's Texas. Which means the only time it's bearable outside is between the hours of three and four in the morning.

But today, I pulled out the last piece of equipment that we've not been practicing with. The dreaded CUP. Being a girl with only sisters, this is a new thing to me, which evokes highly mature giggles.

I suppose that I shouldn't have fallen on the floor laughing when I pulled out the apparatus for holding the CUP in place, and the oldest child said "That looks like a diaper!"

And I guess I shouldn't be calling it a diaper, lest the other children hear us talking about a child who is nine wearing a diaper to football practice. Because I might not be the only one laughing. But yet I still find myself calling it the diaper.

But there was nothing greater than when he put on his diaper with the CUP and put on his padded pants, and exclaimed in the middle of the kitchen, "HIT ME IN THE PRIVATES! C'MON, EVERYONE HIT ME! HIT ME ANYWHERE BELOW THE WAIST! IT WON'T HURT ME!"

But his father? Wouldn't hit him. Not even a tap. Must be a guy thing.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Not-so-hired-help

Lately, I've been eyeball deep in fabric. Gorgeous bedding, both of the adult variety and of the pre-teen girl variety, complete with silks and velvets and ruffles lots and lots of ruffles. And curtains, dozens and dozens of curtains, all being delivered at the same time to a newly completed house.

Literally, you have to do a dance to reach the front door, and jump over a series of fabric hurdles to reach the computer. There was a pile of fabric and gorgeousness at the bottom of the stairs. I've taken over the guest room with piles of completed-yet-to-be-delivered work. And don't even get me started on the actual sewing room. It's not pretty. Well, it's pretty, but not because of anything that's permanent.

Finally I've hit a stride, able to deliver some of the work (but of course forgot my camera) and am plowing through a house full of fabulous window treatments. Feeling good about my work, and the amount I've accomplished and the four square feet of carpet I can finally see in my sewing room, I got to work tonight.

Apparently I've uncovered a little too much of the floor in the sewing room, because the dog decided that there was a dog-sized spot right there in the middle, between the ironing board and the cutting table. And I found myself doing a dance around the dog.

I'll console myself with the fact that she's actually sleeping on carpet, not attempting to sleep on curtains.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How Delilah got me a speeding ticket.

I've had four tickets in my adult life, (not including all those parking tickets I received in the two months that I had a car in Boston, ahem), but the confession is that two of those tickets came while my husband was in the police academy.

There is a perception among my friends that I will never get a ticket. I'm here to prove that wrong. In fact, I got one in a neighboring town from an officer that had just gone through a training class with my husband. And let's just say my last name is a memorable one. And the two during the police academy? How do you bring that up gracefully?

But there was one that I must blame on the cheesy radio DJ Delilah. It was totally her fault. My children were little, so little that there were only two of them, and I was off working one evening. The ride home was about thirty minutes, and I was REALLY enjoying my peace and quiet, not really in a hurry, because I wanted to make sure the children were asleep so I could continue enjoying my peace and quiet.

So there I was, driving down the road that wasn't one that I usually traveled, listening to one of those gripping stories that her listeners tell that ALWAYS make you cry (well, at least, when you're me). Next thing I know, there are lights behind me. Her story was so engaging that I wasn't paying attention to the sudden drop in speed limit.

I totally should have sued. I mean, if her story hadn't been so good, I would have slowed down, right? And, to add insult to injury? I didn't hear the end of the story. Whatever it was.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

ch-ch-changes

It's been pretty quiet around here of late, in case no one has noticed.

Here's the thing. Each time I've been pregnant, I've known that there was a change coming, but wasn't quite sure how things were going to change. I just knew they would. I had plenty of time to deal with it, plenty of time to get ready for it. And each time, most of the time, I was excited about the change.

In the last week or so, I've begun to come to the conclusion that I'm about to have a pretty big change coming up, but it's kind of blindsided me. I know, I've had five and a half years to think about it, to know it's coming. I've known, but it's not occurred to me until recently that things are really going to change around here.

My baby is going to kindergarten. I will drop off all of my children at 7:45 in one place and I will pick them all up at 3pm. I have known this for quite some time now. Some may have even heard me gloat about it. In theory, it's really quite lovely.

I've had five and a half years to plan for this, prepare myself for it. But here I am, three weeks away, and suddenly, I'm not ready. There's a breakfast on the first day of kindergarten for the moms. They call it a "Boo-Hoo-Ya-Hoo" breakfast. I've been laughing with my friend for a year, bragging about how I'll be the one skipping in and shouting for joy. And she would laugh at me and say, "you're such a liar - you know you'll be off in a corner asking for a second package of kleenex."

Three more weeks of summer, three more weeks. I've been so busy soaking it up that I've not had a chance to reflect on it. That, and I'm a little sad about the whole thing.

Monday, July 28, 2008

irony

An unopened box of Swiffer cloths found in my laundry room surrounded by cat sized balls of dust.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Moments captured in the heart

I wanted my camera today at the pool. I was taking a break from being a human floatie, sitting and watching my children play together in the water.

The younger two sat on the edge of the pool and were saying something to the oldest. He got up out of the pool and sat between them and put his arms around their shoulders. I first wished I had my camera, then realized that it was one of those beautiful moments that my heart would remember. I closed my eyes and tried to capture it for when they were older.

They were adorable and so loving and sweet.

And then the oldest pushed the other two in the pool.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Just so my sisters will quit asking when I'll blog again.

Since we returned from vacation, I've not been able to get my act together. Clearly, there is no routine and I can't get myself moving. How is that abnormal, you ask?

For example, groceries. Obviously, when you go on vacation, your refrigerator and pantry are emptied for the most part and either taken with you or given away or trashed. But, when we returned, I felt like I was going to the grocery store every other day and still couldn't get all that I needed. Part of it was that when we returned, the children did not, so the groceries were different - more sun dried tomato pesto and less chocolate milk. And now that they're back, there was a need for more goldfish and less gouda. Back to the store I went. Again. And again.

For example, blogging. Clearly, my subjects were gone, and were giving me nothing to write about. Heck, they barely even talk to me when they're at their Granny's. And then it's only because she pities us and bribes them with popsicles.

And work. My goodness, that's one thing I've gotten a lot finished, but the problem lies in the fact that it's all in my front hallway and piling up fast. I have to check for the dog and make sure she's not buried underneath. It's a rather large pile of some rather fabulous curtains. That all need to be delivered in one day. Ish.

And honestly, there are only four weeks left of summer for the children. And while the minutes sometimes go slowly, the moments are precious. And I'm enjoying most of them. But then, come another week from now, my life as I know it ends, and I become the ever perky, ever cheering FOOTBALL MOM. Erm. Yeah.

We've started our "conditioning," which for us, involves playing outside in the mornings, going to the pool in the afternoon and playing outside again in the evenings. It's a hundred degrees out there. The boys aren't the only ones conditioning to the heat - apparently I need it, too, you know, for all that cheering. And watching of endless practices.

Friday, July 11, 2008

indulgences

I'm not one to indulge myself very often, and certainly not in the typical Texas suburban woman sort of way. It's been a year since my last haircut, in fact, the last time my children went to their Granny's. I've not had a pedicure since my sister's wedding. It's just not the sort of thing that I do very often.

But there are other indulgences that I do enjoy, that I've been able to enjoy since I dropped off my children at their Granny's and ran as fast as I could before she changed her mind.

The other day, I started a library book at about midnight. Let's just say Oprah would never choose it as a book club selection. Yet, when I started the book, I knew I wouldn't be able to put it down. So I didn't. I stayed up until about 4 in the morning, just reading this book, doing something so indulgent that I couldn't do it if the children were around, planning their early morning trouble-making.

And, I've been dragging my husband into home decor stores. Not the kind that I usually shop in that double as craft stores and grocery stores, but the kind where I can't actually afford anything, so I can't bring the meddler who would no doubt break something. It's a wonderful way for me to get inspiration for my work and my house and to reconfirm the fact that we both want a house that can be lived in, not a showcase sort of a home. It's nice to know that Sarge would actually choose the style that I've created for our home (minus about 90% of the clutter).

Not very exciting, I know --heck, none of it cost a dime - but my kind of thing to do when I have a week to do nothing useful at all besides spend time with my husband and work, work, work. Like that life that I had before children. That I just never fully appreciated - the peace, the lack of whining, the ability to not only keep up with laundry, but stay ahead of it - oh, my. I'd better go get my kids before I get used to this.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Essentials

For every trip, I forget something essential. You would think that I would eventually make a list, or at least borrow my mother's List Of Everything, but no, every year, it's like a package to open in those first five hours of a car trip, going through in my head all of the things that are in the van and all of the things that aren't.


This year, I forgot soap. And shampoo. And a backpack or anything besides a laundry basket to carry water and snacks in when we hiked. And our camping journal, a notebook of all the places we've been on our road trips, the things we ate, the things we cooked and at the end of each day, everyone's favorite part of the day. Another thing that needs to be transcribed from crumpled up napkins that I'm still finding in the crevices of my minivan.


But there is one thing that I didn't forget, that I didn't forget on every hike we took. It's something that I actually carry in my purse all the time. It's a travel Q-tip container that has been emptied of it's Q-tips. Inside, I carry little alcohol wipes, some neosporin packets and assorted Band-aids. It's a perfect size, and it has the ability to halt crying children in their tracks simply by pulling it out.


Each person in the family had a chance to benefit from my little tiny first aid kit. Sarge was first, when the mean rock at the aquarium jumped out from behind a fish tank and bit his knee.
Then the middle child, then the youngest. The oldest got two bandaids and cream when fell in the water, hurt his pride, his foot and dislocated his baby toenail from it's rightful place. I explained each time that true adventurers always had bloody knees.
It was also then that I told them that they were to stop hurting themselves, that I was almost out of alcohol wipes. Fortunately the trip was almost over when I maimed myself while trying valiantly to rescue a mini-golf ball. It was a heroic effort, and the news was nearly called, until I discovered that they'd probably rather interview the guy who rescued the same ball from bouncing across the parking lot. Or Sarge, who rescued the ball the second time from the parking lot. We won't say who had the runaway ball, because it's my blog and I'd like to protect my image, thankyouverymuch.
I highly recommend my rescue kit to all with children. It saves lots of pain in your ears AND extra emergency trips to the bathroom to wash owies.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Memories

As we were hurtling down I-40, I was quietly listening to my children playing and laughing in the backseat. I believe I took notice because it was unusual that they were all getting along and not begging to go pee or eat or get there already. So don't think that it was all lollipops and roses - unless they were the everlasting lollipop kind, then I'd have been all over it.

But it struck me that we were making memories. And that they could have been doing it at that very moment. I'm sure each parent who takes their children on a trip hopes that they'll remember the fun they had and all of the cool things that they did, and not remember the whining and crying and the "why, oh why would my mom not buy me all those souveneirs?"

But you never know what they will remember, and who will remember it. I think I'm unusual in that I remember so very little. Fortunately I have a sister with a memory for everything (fortunately for me, unfortunately for our mom...) so she makes up for all the millions of cool things that we did as kids that I've forgotten.

I think that it went along with a conversation that I'd had with Sarge the week before the trip - both of us realizing that we remembered the Olympics from the year that we were nine. I remember 1984 and Mary Lou Retton, he remembers 1980 and that whole hockey thing. We both remember being mezmerized by them and watching them whenever we could (of course, that was back in the day when that's all there was on - that or the Oliver North trial). And we realized that we needed to make an effort to expose our children to the Olympics this year, because this was the year for our oldest, that maybe, just maybe, he'd remember something special.

So these are the times in the lives of my children. The summers of fun and innocence, the summer family road trips before the ipods and eyerolling. The summers that coloring and playing board games with your mom and dad are still fun. The summers where we can still surprise them with fun things that they've not ever seen or done before or had a friend who had a friend who did it and said it was totally lame, dude.

The bad part is that I have to wait 20 years to see what they remember. And hopefully they won't only remember whats in the 662 (if only that were and exaggeration!) pictures I took.