Sunday, December 20, 2009

How Charlie lost his shorts.

My son is "that kid." You know, the weird one who wears shorts even when it's twelve degrees outside. He wore them while we were camping and it was nearly freezing. He wore them to fifth grade science camp when it was freezing.

I am a believer in letting my children make choices for themselves and suffering the natural consequences. I think there is no better way of learning. So I've been letting this one go. On and on. It's December. And while I recognize that this is Texas, life is still a little uncomfortable in shorts and a sweatshirt (Oh, did I mention? He also refuses to wear a jacket.)

I console myself when we walk to school that surely people understand, that they aren't judging me, as my other two children are completely appropriately dressed for the weather, sometimes over dressed and usually not matching, but not cruelly dressed for the wrong season. I hope people don't judge. Too much.

And there was the day that Charlie came home from school explaining that he didn't like that people in the fifth grade put everyone is a box and labeled them and he was hoping to escape labeling by being too weird to categorize. Um weirdo category, anyone? Hellooooo. But, I felt a little better that day about allowing him to express his independence.

But yesterday. Yesterday. I reached the end of my rope. We were doing a trash cleanup along a creekbed. We bought our rubber boots for the occasion, the weather was expected to be a balmy 34 degrees. He had to wear his cub scout uniform. We had an old fashioned three year old style temper tantrum. All because he needed to wear pants.

And because I also believe that the punishment should fit the crime, he is wearing pants for the forseeable future. Until he can quit whining about it. His friend's mom noticed this afternoon, and said, "Oh, Charlie got new pants?" I said, "Um, no. He's had them for quite some time. That and another pair of jean, a pair of khakis and two pair of athletic pants. He just refuses to wear them."

The upside? Hand-me-downs in perfect condition.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ode to a minivan

Introduced my son to the joys of Barney music.
Had a Barney CD stuck in it, along with a penny, a dime and a calling card.
Brought two children home from the hospital.
Brought one of them back to the hospital again and again, sometimes in a hurry.
Had my first car accident.
And my second.
Went through the drive thru a million times.
Spilled french fries a million times.
Was barfed in.
Pooped on.
Stranded me on the side of the road.
Stranded me right near the fabric store.
Drove us to California.
And the Dakotas.
And Mississippi.
Only had one working window.
Had crayon melted in one seat and a milk dud in another.
Brought us to football practice (again and again and again and again)
Was only washed a handful of times.
Spent a lot of time in the shop.
Didn't have many original parts.
Used a quart of oil for every tank of gas.
Had 172,328 miles on it the last time I saw it.

That minivan has a new life now - it was likely an organ donor, but it's not mine anymore. As sentimental as I might seem here, I'm not at all. Except when the kids start talking bad about it, I feel a little protective, like someone's talking bad about an ex-boyfriend who you're still fond of, but you're totally over.

No need to be mean, kids, just because we've upgraded boyfriends.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I noticed something.

I haven't spent much time at Wal-Mart recently, but I took a little trip there the other day and noticed something about their generics.

Used to be that the generics looked as much as humanly possible like the thing they were trying to copy without any copyright infringement. But suddenly? When it's cool to be frugal and cheap? Their generic branding is starting to look a little like the plain yellow generic boxes of my childhood.

Because suddenly, we're all doing the right thing by buying generic rather than actic embarassed by it.

I don't know why all this "in this economy" blah blah blah makes me want to rebell and spend, spend, spend. Maybe all the reversy pyschology is working on me...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

There's an App for that.

My iPhone and I lost thirty pounds. Well, with a little help from the treadmill.

So recently I've finally lost all that baby weight. Only eleven years since I started putting it on, but honestly, who's counting. Oh, yeah. That would be me.

So the most often asked question is "HOW?" And while I think that most people are truly wanting to know, there are a few people out there who want me to bust out with my magic pill or surgery tales. Seriously? If I'd had surgery, I'd fire my surgeon for not finishing the job!

But here's the thing. It was painfully simply. And a little embarrassing as to how simple it was.

My iPhone. I love it. I have two free apps that I used and I love. One was used all the way through, Lose It. It simply tracks your calories consumed and used. You set your goals and off you go. And you always have it with you, so there's no excuses for forgetting that donut you had. The other one that I would have used all the way through had I discovered it, was a GPS. It keeps track of how far you are going and how fast, so you can go off and wander and still know your speed and distance, which is essential for calorie counting. And it makes life far more interesting than going on the treadmill day after day and looking at your unmade bed.

And then there was the not-so-free piece of equipment. The dog. Honestly, if you've ever had a workout partner who barks at your for an hour until you go for your workout, you know what I'm talking about. For the price of a little dog food and a can of tennis balls per week, I have a built in won't-take-no-for-an-answer workout partner. And he helps build upper body strength while walking every time we see a bunny rabbit. Which, in this neighborhood, is a LOT.

That's it. Calorie counting. Exercising. I've never been one with any self discipline or self control, nor have I ever been a good dieter. So this? Nothing short of a miracle.

And now, now that I'm getting close to my goal, I so wish I'd taken before pictures/measurements. I was too horrified before, but now I wish I had it to look back at and remember every time I want to have ice cream for breakfast.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Evolution of the bald spots.

Shortly after I started this blog, I was admiring the three sweet bald spots in the grass under my children's swings. Sadly, the grass is mostly healthy and thick under their swings these days, save a little under the middle one.

The bald patches have moved. The two biggest ones are at home plate and the pitcher's mound, where much time is spent by Sarge and the littlest one playing baseball for hours every day. There are smaller bald patches in the yard around first, second and third bases for when the family baseball games are played.

And as much as I wish we had one of those golf course fabulous green grass backyards, I think I'll be sad one day when I do have it. I'll long for the bare patches in my backyard and the noise and laughter and fun that go along with it. Even now, under the swings, the thick beautiful grass makes me a little bit sad.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Setting the bar high.

My grandmother died this week.

But she did it in such a way that we were all left wondering, "Will I be able to do this so well?" Honestly, who ever admired the way that someone else died?


All six of her living children were able to drop everything and come to be with her in her last week. Grandchildren came from different parts of the country, just to tell her how much we loved her.

In her last week, she made us laugh. She laughed with us and at us. She gave us, even in the last day, stories to tell and laugh about. She could light up the room, even when she could do little more than smile.

She told stories and listened to stories, and in all her humility, she told us to stop telling her all those wonderful things about her, that we were making her feel uncomfortable. So we told her funny stories about mistakes she had made or funny things she'd said when she was frustrated. And she laughed and appreciated those stories more than any others.

And then, when her body finally gave way, she went peacefully and beautifully from this life to the next.

And, unlike my aunt, who wants to go up in a fabulous dramatic way, I want to go just like she did. With enough time to tell everyone that I love them, with everyone who loves me to come tell me stories about how I affected their lives. And then I want to go. Quickly and peacefully.

Even in death, I admire her. Extraordinary.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Avenge Yourself.

My grandma always had a needlepoint on the wall in her house that said, "Avenge yourself. Live long enough to be a problem to your children." Her children thought it was funny.

My grandma is 92.

I was a child of the eighties, and my mom was a working mom. During the summers, we would get shipped off to grandma's house. I know, feel sorry for me. Only don't.

My grandma taught me to knit. She was up before dawn every morning with her cup of coffee that she only drank from a china mug. She taught me to needlepoint, but refused to teach me to crochet (still bitter, taught myself. Pbbbbt, Gram.) She had a yarn closet built in her last house. She had little knitting projects at different stages of finished all over the house. Even on the back of the toilet. And she would only finish a sweater in the early morning, sitting by a sunny window.

She is left handed, and she takes such pride that she has one son, one grandson and two great-grandsons who are left handed. Both of those great-grandsons are mine. I always loved to watch her sign her name - she did it with such flair, and it was so pretty when she was finished.

We spent our summers going to the library, reading, playing cards, watching game shows in the morning and going to the beach in the afternoon. It's where I learned what the perfect summer felt like. And Gram always said, "It never rains at the beach." And she was right. I can still smell the freshly laundered towels from the Mauna Kea, where we swam.

The sound of golf cleats on pavement makes me think of her, as we would meet her at the pro shop after she'd golfed and my sisters and I had played either at the beach or at the pool. Her name is up on the wall at Mauna Kea, because that lady got a hole in one, which I've always thought was so cool. And at the pro shop, she would let us order iced tea, from a real glass and it always came with a slice of pineapple in it.

Once her dryer broke when we were visiting and we spent a lot of time playing cards at the laundromat. That's where I learned to make lemonade out of lemons. And once the cows got out near her house and got in her yard and she chased them with a rake.

She only made cookies in grand style. She would make four different kinds of cookies at a time of all her best recipes. She'd fill up those cookie jars, and we'd all try opening and closing them without making a sound. But she always knew. Always.

It didn't occur to me when I was younger, but she had to be extraordinary, because not only has she had a child or two of hers living in her house or next door as long as I can remember, but their spouses, too. And if you can live with or next door to your mother in law, you've got to be a pretty good mother-in-law. Which, if you're a good mother-in-law, you're extraordinary.

Oh, and my mom named our cat after her. And they are still on speaking terms. Extraordinary, I say.

She would come visit us and after my dad would get home from work, she would get a grin on her face and say to him, "Have a beer with me, Terry?" And so they would. When I was a kid, the only time my dad would have a beer was when my Grandma came to visit. And I think they both kind of liked it.

I have her feet. So does my daughter.

She always drove a little zippy car. And sometimes she would just get exasperated with her cars, because they always went too fast. It wasn't her lead foot, oh, no, it was the car.

When I came to visit, she always made sure that she had Kona Coffee ice cream in the freezer, just because she knew it was my favorite.

My mom said tonight that she says that the only thing about dying that makes her mad is that all her favorite people will be there and she's going to miss the party. Extraordinary.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mom was right. Again.

It IS impossible to get a decent picture of a ten year old boy.

He either A.) has his finger up his nose, B.) has his finger up someone else's nose, C.) is making a crazy face or D.) only half of his head is in the picture.

The best pictures I have of my son since his tenth birthday are of the back of his head. Here's hoping for eleven.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pipe Dreams

My daughter informed me tonight that she intends to be a street mime when she grows up.

She said that she even expected tomatoes to be thrown at her if she isn't good enough, and if that were to happen, she would move to another city. If that didn't work out, she'd move again. She intends to wreak havoc on all fifty states, then her backup plan will be all seven continents. Then, if tomatoes are still being thrown, she'll work in the desert.

Clearly she was trying to get all of her talking out of the way.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Tell me I'm not alone here. Could it really BE any grosser?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Observations from behind the mower

I mowed the yard today for the second time in my entire life. I figured out a couple of weeks ago how many calories it burned, and man, I was so on it. Today was the first day that I was able to get out there with Sarge and mow. Here's what I observed:

1. You earn every one of those darn calories. Every. One.

2. My yard has a hill. All these years I've lived here, I've always thought of my yard as flat. I'm here to tell you today that there's a huge hill back there in poo corner. HUGE.

3. No matter how well you think you do cleaning up poo corner, you always miss one. Or two.

4. I know why Sarge has a yard mowing pair of shoes. See #3.

5. I will never laugh at Sarge again for hitting the bird houses with his head every week. I swear, every time I cut his hair, he has a new gash in the top of his head from those things. I laugh and make fun of him, because, you know, haven't they been there for three years, in the same places? I managed to hit all three of them.

6. It's time for a mower redesign. I swear, it's the same design my dad used back when he used to mow the yard a LONG time ago. Push the button, pull the cord. Pull the cord again. Pull. Say a curse word. Pull twice more and go. And then the handle and the fence and the four fixed wheels, it's all just so awkward. MR. DYSON, I'M TALKING TO YOU AND YOUR BALL TECHNOLOGY.

7. Next time I'm totally going for a cool design in my grass like the baseball fields. Sarge says that I should just aim for straight lines, but I say shoot for the stars!

8. I smell like gasoline and grass. And I itch.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A day in the life

If you saw me in the last two weeks and it looked like I hadn't combed my hair or looked at my face, it's because I hadn't. There were noisy critters living inside my house above my bathroom and it was all I could do to get a shower and get out of there before I started screaming like a little girl and dancing like I had ants in my pants.

I love my dogs more than I love my dinner plates, which is a lot, and which is evidenced by the fact that both dogs are still alive even though when I came in from helping eradicate the giant bird's nest from my dryer vent there was a broken plate on the floor and not one speck of chicken anywhere around it and all the 342 pieces it was shattered into.

And it was birds living above my bathroom. I think I might like them less than mice, but maybe not. We'll see who's harder to permanently get rid of.

And thank goodness for the ten year old who came up with the idea for the rigged ten foot pole that we created to eradicate said bird's nest with two pieces of wood, a hanger and half a roll of painters tape. If only we could have found the duct tape...

And pre-view Marley and Me before you sit down with your children to watch it. Because you need to be prepared to answer questions about the entire cycle of life. Let's just say frisky adults, three babies, one nicknamed 'whoops' and a dead dog. It's ripe with questions from children aged 6-10. I'm just sayin'.

My dog has lived with us for almost a month, and he looked at me curiously when I was unloading the dishwasher, like he's never seen me do such a thing before. Weird.

I'd like to thank all my friends and family for being so sweet about me losing weight. And for biting their tongues for all those years when I was gaining it and not saying, "so, hibernation this winter?" or "worried about the food supply going away?" or "eating for two still?" Ahem. You know you wanted to.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Adorably quirky

When Sarge and I were first dating, I was living in an apartment in Boston with three other girls. We were in college, but for all of us, it was our first time with our own kitchen. We loved to cook and bake.

And of course, when my new boyfriend came over, I just LOVED to bake for him. Because, you know, that's what you are supposed to do. But it never failed, I always forgot an ingredient. And usually didn't discover that I didn't have the ingredient until I was ready to use that ingredient. Sarge would laugh and then trot down four flights of stairs to the convenience store and purchase the ingredient that I'd forgotten.

It became a joke. Ha, ha, what are you going to forget this time? I'd insist that I had all the ingredients. But then wouldn't have something essential. It always happened. Sarge, because it was all still fresh and new, found it mildly irritating, but I'm sure thought it was adorable. Because you know when everything is fresh and new, quirks are adorable.

Fast forward fifteen years. I have a kitchen of my own, which is usually well enough stocked, but I also have grown up neighbors that actually have eggs, not like the people in college who have beer and ketchup in their refrigerators. So he doesn't even usually know when I forget an ingredient anymore.

BUT. My cute and adorable quirk has transferred to my work. I can't get to a person's house to hang their curtains and have all the ingredients I need to hang them. Usually the item that I need is something that I knew I would need, just didn't manage to remember it before I got there. And of course, who do I call to rescue me? Sarge.

I'm pretty sure he doesn't find it cute and adorable anymore. He had to rescue me from myself twice yesterday. My client said to him, "She's very impressive with her skills with tools!" and he replied, deadpan, "She'd be more impressive if she could just remember them."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Time Flies.

We are officially step-stool free in this house.

There are three step stools, and they are all put away in closets. I'm considering freecycling them, but then I think maybe, just maybe, I could fit them into their baby books. Doesn't seem like they'd be lumpy at all.

And I never thought I'd feel sentimental about two IKEA step stools and one made from scraps of wood and stained blue that once held several pairs of underwear that were making my bathroom smell. But here I am, feeling just a little sad over the fact that all my kids can reach the soap from their own two feet. Now whether or not they actually do is another story.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Like an old married couple

They line up for the dinner buffet together before five PM.

They nap together in the afternoons.

They bicker, but one can't be found without the other.

He cleans off her face if she has a little dinner left, or he'll clean her ears whether they need it or not.
Two weeks. I never, ever would have thought.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bad habits my new dog will break me of

Leaving socks on the floor.

Leaving anything else on the floor.

Leaving shoes outside.

Not cleaning the muddy dogprints off the patio table.

Saying, "I'll just take the dog for a walk tomorrow."

Eating on the couch.

Eating anywhere except the kitchen table.

Wearing clothes with dangly strings.

Sitting down. Ever.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

the things that keep us up at night.

"Mom, what's spontaneous combustion?"

"It's when something explodes suddenly."


Then, "Do people spontaneously combust?"

"No. Now go to sleep."


"Are you SURE?"

Monday, March 30, 2009

Settling in.

Phwew. The dog. He changed. When he got here, he was all submissive and quiet and laid down every time you petted him.

Don't get me wrong. He's still sweet. He's still adorable. And he's helping me to keep my house clean. And he's breaking us of our "drop our socks on the floor wherever we are" habit. Ahem.

Because he eats things on the floor. Whatever they may be. And he can climb on top of the patio table. And he does. And when he's supposed to go in his crate at night, he'll roll over on his back and make it impossible to pick him up and put him in his crate. But once he's there, he just lays down and goes to sleep.

And in the morning, there's not getting up and lounging around. No way. One must play ball to get all the dog's wiggles out. Because otherwise you will find a dog jumping like a jumping bean in your kitchen. And I'm not getting any time to sit around any other time of the day, because he demands to be played with and petted when it looks like I'm not doing anything productive.

And Maggie? The old dog? She's coming around. She might actually like him, except for the annoying little brother aspect of him. They've come around enough where they follow each other around most of the time. Until he starts licking her ears and trying to get her to play with him by nipping at her. Which usually she throws her nose up in the air and walks the other way. Sometimes she'll play. Sometimes she'll tell him to go AWAY. But I think, in the end, they're friends. She certainly came around WAY faster than I thought she would. Thank goodness.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

And then there were seven.

The newest member of our family. His name is Oakley.

Because I'm a complete idiot and a glutton for punishment. That, and I didn't have anything else to keep me busy. Ahem.

My old dog doesn't like other dogs, so it's all about the fun around here. She's only drawn blood one time. Fortunately he's smart enough to stay out of her way. Most of the time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The youngest child cried tonight. He cried as he said that he was "just so dumb." And then I cried, too.

I told him that he shouldn't lie to mommy like that and tell things that aren't true. And then I went downstairs and we all discussed the impact of name calling. Because he had started to believe the names that they call each other. And that's not okay with me.

It's a habit that they get into now and again, and sometimes it gets to be just too much. And this time? Too much.

Some of their favorite TV shows involve a fair amount of name calling (Spongebob, I'm looking at YOU). And so, the TV shows are no longer allowed until they can get a handle on the name calling. And other consequenses.

But, oh, woe is ME that the electronic babysitter will not be so entertaining. And oh, woe that I will have to listen to all the tattling that will inevitably come out of this. But there is no woe that is worth my baby thinking that he isn't a smart boy.

Hiking in Texas

Honestly, we spent about twelve minutes in Oklahoma today. Well, more than that, but we were driving and driving and driving, because I'd promised the kids Oklahoma ice cream after our long hike. Because, you know, it's different from Texas ice cream. Whatever works, I tell you.

But yes, we spent the day in Texas, looking across the lake to Oklahoma. And my kids did great. I can't wait to make them do it again soon.

All they will remember is that they got Oklahoma ice cream (from a little freezer in a little convenience store on the side of the road - not actually different, for the record) and the middle one is sure to remember that she fell four times. She will not remember that she failed to bleed each time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Finding culture

This week is spring break here, in the land of spring break before spring actually starts.

So we are taking this week and doing fun stuff around town. You know, that thing that all the newscasts are talking about but the word is so unbelieveably annoying. You know what I'm talking about. That thing we were doing even when all the other people had plenty of money to go on real vacations and we were sticking around town, doing what fun stuff was close to home.

We went into the big city on Saturday and again on Sunday. We went to a giant quilt show on Saturday and to a museum with a big event on Sunday. And my kids? They loved the quilt show and the event at the museum. We wandered around a little, taking our time to get to the car each time. We stopped at the farmer's market and bought tomato plants. I made them stop reading (gasp!) and look out their windows.

I'm thinking that we should stay in the sterilized suburbs, though, because on Monday morning, my kids got busy while I was on the treadmill. They walked in to my room, dressed in funny hats, using a baseball bat and a giant candy cane as canes, scarves and carrying mugs. And begging for money. That I should put in their mugs.

So the city. Culture. Opened their eyes to new things. Just not quite the things I had intended. It's okay, though, because we're heading to Oklahoma tomorrow. I can't wait to see what they come home with from there.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Assorted Randomness

The youngest one has been having a recurring nightmare lately. He describes the creature and all I want to do is start giggling, because he's describing the creature to the left, almost to the letter. Points to who knows what movie it's from and what it's called. And if my sisters don't get this one, I'll freak out, because we watched this movie hundreds of times as teenagers. It keeps him up at night, but makes me want to laugh. Is that bad?
And I think it might have to do with the rabbit/mouse that I saw running through our front shrubbery that's got him worried. Remember, he's the one who's been afraid of the bunny rabbit who was living in my vegetable garden.
Speaking of which, that rabbit better watch out, I'm not going to be as nice this year as I was last. Take note, rabbit.
And I invited my oldest child to punch me in the stomach tonight (because I have rock hard abs, duh). After he obliges, he states, "You know, Mom, that's how Harry Houdini died. He asked someone to punch him in the stomach, but didn't have a chance to tighten up first." I didn't bother looking it up. I'm sure he's right. That's just the kind of thing he remembers. I hope it serves him well one day, and not just for playing Trivial Pursuit with my cousins.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Boys and Duct Tape: Nature or Nurture?

I have spent a good portion of the last few months with a small group of boys between the ages of eight and ten. We've been involved with a program called Destination Imagination. I lovingly call it competitive problem solving.

The kids are given a choice of challenges, for which they are to do all of the work, from the idea stage through the implementation stage. The challenges are extraordinarily open ended, and there is no right or wrong answers, only points for creativity.

So once the kids had decided what their challenge was going to be, I purchased and assembled a large assortment of products that I thought they might use. They had drawn a prototype of what they wanted, so I was able to purchase things that were in line with their imaginations. This challenge involved building two machines that had to travel, so wheels, wood, screws, nuts, bolts, hooks, eyes, magnets, sticks, paint, glue and at the last minute, I threw in some duct tape.

We drilled, we screwed, we assembled, we painted, we glued, we velcroed. No matter what, when one of the other methods of assembly failed, these boys went straight for the duct tape. Sometimes the staple gun, sometimes both, but usually the duct tape.

The props didn't stand up? Duct tape 'em. The magnets won't stay on? Duct tape 'em. The wheels fell off? Duct tape 'em. The axle broke on one of the vehicles? Duct tape.

Their go-to item in the large tub they were given, as well as my garage full of stuff, was always the duct tape. Which begs the question, was it born into them? Is this the way that boys are wired? Or should I just not have put the duct tape in the tub in the first place? I suppose we'll never know, but I do know that I'm creating a new generation of people who think that duct tape can solve anything.

And, for the record? Duct taping the axle on a car designed to hold two boys doesn't work. Neither did the velcro work for anything involving that many preteen boys. And power tools make all boys smile, no matter the age.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Craziest thing EVER.

Got out of the house tonight. Watched a girly movie with a bunch of girls. Didn't hear even one person whine. Laughed a lot. No butts to wipe. No baths given. All was quiet when I walked in the house. Weird.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Dieting with a daughter watching your every move.

It's been a madhouse around here, with tomorrow being the culmination of months of work for two different activities. If I build one more thing with a group of ten year old boys, I might scream. But. Other things.

My daughter. My seven year old daughter has had body image issues since I can remember. When she was getting ready for bath when she was about five, she would suck in her gut as much as she could, all her ribs showing, and her belly button practically touching her spine and ask me, "Mommy, what would you think if I looked like this?" Inwardly, I would cry, but I would always tell her that she didn't look healthy to me like that, that I liked to see more muscles and a strong body so that she could do anything she wanted.

And still, every time the school talks about health, there is my daughter counting calories and getting on the scale. One day, she got on the scale. Got off, ran in place for ten seconds, then got back on. One pound less. So she did it again, hoping for more. Again and again. It only worked the first time. She was disappointed. We discussed.

So all these year, I've been terrified to go on a diet, that I'm just sure that my daughter's body image issues will only get worse. I'd go on diets and act like I wasn't on one, but decided that secret dieting was probably worse.

So this most recent time, right now, I've decided that I'm not going to hide and pretend that I'm not dieting, but that I'll phrase it differently. Mom is getting stronger and healthier. And hoping that my daughter will see her mom losing all her squishy places and growing muscles. So yes, I'm counting calories, I'm watching what I eat. But when my daughter wanted to share her chocolates, I graciously accepted but quietly counted those calories, too. I want so badly for her to watch her mom do this body image thing right.

And so we celebrated when Mom ran a mile tonight. All of us. Because the oldest one needed to hear too, that here's something that Mom has NEVER been good at, but I've been practicing a lot and have been really working hard at it and is proud of her accomplishment. And the middle one needed to hear that her mom is getting strong, and will race her. And beat her. And they'll all watch their mom beat their aunt at a push-ups contest. That she doesn't know she's going to be in. (that's my strategy to win - not tell her to practice. See? Brilliance.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Adventures in having sons.

I cleaned the bathrooms today, which is an even in and of itself, but when I walked into bathroom #3, which is the kids' bathroom, I was pretty excited. I thought, I think the toothpaste on the counter is grosser than the toilet. This could be easy!

Although my toothpaste issues are well documented, this one did take the cake. The toothpaste tube itself was covered in toothpaste (and with as cheap as I am, you have to know it was disgusting, because though half full, I threw it away), and there was toothpaste splatter clear to the top of the mirror, and all over one sink, which documents their issue with one of the sinks, no one will use it, weird.

So, gross toothpaste. Check. I made it.

Then the toilet, which at first glance, was in pretty good shape. Until I remembered that I have two sons, the younger of which has decided that it's time to stand up to pee, which isn't a big deal to me, if he'd just lift the seat (!) but whatever, for another day. I have sons, I should probably look around the toilet. All around. And in the awful crevices that some brain surgeon puts all over the base of the toilet. And in the ground. And on the tile. And ON THE WALLS.

And it totally beat the toothpaste, even with my issues.

And when I was done, I decided that the kids are old enough to clean their own bathroom.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


My biggest boy is ten today. Just typing that sentence really kindof makes me want to cry. But. Ahem. This is about him, not me.

Tonight, he's having his favorite friends over to spend the night. There are five of them in my living room right now. And here's the thing. There was no elaborate party required.

These boys have spent the afternoon and evening playing a board game, having all out war with the nerf guns and other artillery in the house, jumping on the beds and eating boy-made pizzas, ice cream sundaes and trail mix. They are now watching Star Wars. They have plans to watch all six, but I'm pretty sure we'll start losing them to exhaustion around the second movie. Which is fine.

What is missing? Nothing. They haven't requested a fancy media room or surround sound. They haven't requested soda. They haven't needed any extra entertainment or magicians or shows or clowns. They are just together, with their imaginations and a little supervision. That's it.

It helps that they are great kids, but honestly, they don't need much more than that. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

When I met my husband, I was barely nineteen, straight out of California and confident that I was going to be a feminist, if I wasn't already. No one, NO ONE could tell ME what to do.

And then I met him. And he called me "baby." It was a term of endearment, don't get me wrong, but it rubbed me all kinds of the wrong way. "Baby?!?!?! No one calls me Baby. Don't you DARE."

And he tried. He really did, but he was from the south, and well, that's just what they do.

Eventually, I accepted it as a term of endearment, not that he was belittling me or putting me in my place as a woman. He called me that because he loved me and cared about me, and that's just what you do.

And now, fifteen years later, I use it all the time. I call him that. I call the children that. I call the children I see at school that. I call the dog that. It's likely my most used term of endearment. And I like it. I use it because I love these people and I want them to know that I'll take care of them. Or maybe it's because I'm a southerner now.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Things round these parts have shore been interesting lately. But not innerestin' enough to write about. Clearly.

The oldest's ear drum ruptured. Again. He gives me no warning. Just, "my ear hurts" then two hours later screaming in pain, then relief in the form of bloody pus pouring from his ear. It's quite lovely. Then he jumped off the slide playing tag and hurt his foot. I almost didn't want to take him to the doctor for fear that the report of another child being hurt while playing tag would mean a ban from tag on playgrounds nationwide. Newsflash: children get hurt while acting like children. It happens. Get over it already. Anyhow, I think he'll be fine. Just a little limping.

The littlest one lost his first tooth. He's been sporting a set of shark teeth now for about a month, so I'm glad to see at least one of them go, though he's a little worried that when he shows people that they won't know he's lost a tooth because the new one's already there. And, good news! He doesn't have any broken bones! I just thought I'd state that for the record, because he always seems to have one. But never fear, baseball season's right around the corner!

The girl child went to her first daddy-daughter dance. She had a fancy dress with sparkles that she loved because it left a trail of sparkles wherever she went. And, reportedly she refused to do the chicken dance, apparently with a look of mixed horror and disgust at the people doing it. Her father's daughter, that's for sure. And I'm thinking that he loves her more than me, because he'll actually dance with her. Though at bedtime, she did report a pain in her toe, due to the fact that contact was made by her father's shoe on her foot, so you know, maybe there's a reason we don't dance.

And me? I'm in a heated competition with a few family members to see who can lose the most weight before April. And I'm in a competition with another family member who doesn't know she's in competition with me to see who can do the most pushups at the family gathering this summer. And I'm not telling her so that I have a snowball's chance in, well, you know where, of even coming close. Because I can do eight in a row. NOT ON MY KNEES. HAHAHAHA. Ahem. Yeah. And I'm a grownup, too.

And I'm celebrating the fifth anniversary of my 29th birthday today. And next week it will be fifteen years that I've known my husband. Well, I didn't know he was going to be my husband, but you get the picture. And you know what? I'm still totally smitten.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sick Sarge. Poor Me.

I can handle sick. I can handle throwing up, I can handle ruptured ear drums, I can handle breathing treatments. I can handle the flu. I may not like it, but I've got it covered. As long as it's the kids.

But. This week? Sarge got the flu. Down for the count for a week. Four days, then just sorta here for another three.

And, confession time. I was a terrible wife. I hated every minute of it. I threw the box of tissues at him when he needed them, I brought him medicine, but with a scowl. Water? FINE with a hint of overdramatic sigh. I hated it.

Not that I couldn't handle the house or the household duties by myself. I am perfectly capable. I can get the kids off to school, take out the trash and bake a cake, all while standing on one foot and balancing a stack of plates. Under control.

He wasn't so sick that I needed to worry, just pick up your own darn tissues and wash your hands every time you get up and DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING. But. I hated it.

I like this life better with him in it, present. He was there, taking up the whole couch, but he wasn't there. We couldn't debate the newspaper or laugh at the children or roll our eyes at them. We couldn't discuss anything really, because he was just not well enough to even hold his head up, really.

So, if it's any consolation, Sarge, that's why I'm so terrible to you when you're sick. It's not that I'm mad at you or that you're too much work, I just like life better when you're in it, right next to me, forging ahead together. So maybe next time you'll feel a little better when I throw the box of tissues at you.

Monday, January 26, 2009


The youngest child has been under the weather this week, and just started feeling better on Saturday. Good thing, too, because his birthday party was on Sunday.

I made him take a nap on Sunday afternoon before the party, because I know he was still recovering. Nevertheless, he spent the first half of his birthday party bouncing like a maniac and the second half in my arms. That baby didn't even eat cake. Or pizza.

It was seven o'clock and he was ready for bed. B-E-D.

He did perk up when he got the cake topper, Luke and Darth Vader with light up lightsabers. But otherwise he was exhausted.

Later, as I was putting him to bed, I said, "Buddy, I'm so sorry that your party was kind of a bummer."

He looked at me like I'd just told him that Santa wasn't real. "Mommy, my birthday was the funnest EVER."

And there you have it. A fun party where you won't look at your friends for half the party, and the memories are only good. I'm so grateful.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Note To Self

Remember that the children put a fake mouse in the pantry. Somewhere. Please, please, please remember that it's fake.

Thanks, self.

P.S. I bought the children a little prank kit. Fake boogers, a fart whistle, funny glasses. The whole bit. Clearly there was also a fake mouse in there. And the roach I found in my water glass. I'm not sure I would have bought it if I'd a known that I was going to be the victim.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Underwear stories.

I was disappointed today to find that there were no used underwear under the step stool in the bathroom. Because it would have so much more easily explained the smell in there.

This is what my life has come to.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm TOO good. Lucky Me.

When I came home late Thursday night, I kissed my sleeping children and went to sleep myself.

Friday, I noticed that something was amiss with the oldest child. He wasn't quite himself. By afternoon, I was pretty sure, and went ahead and made him an appointment with the doctor. Who said it was just a virus and move on with your life already and quit wasting my time. Come back in ten days if he's still sick. It's just a little fever, quit worrying already.

His weekend agenda?

Saturday: He laid on the couch. Took a bath. Put himself to bed.
Sunday: He laid on the couch. Took a bath. Put himself to bed.
Monday: He laid on the couch. Took a bath. Put himself to bed.

On Monday afternoon, I talked with a friend who was recounting her husband's bout with the flu. It was eerily similar to what the oldest child was dealing with. Pretty sure if I'd have waited a day, we would have done a flu test. But I was too early. I looked in my baby's eyes and knew.

I should have asked. I should have thought of it. I should have waited?

Just like tonight, when I looked in my youngest baby's eyes and knew. Tomorrow? I'm totally asking. Because I'm so tired of sick kids.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stuff is just Stuff without a story

I recently had the opportunity to dig through lots of Stuff that wasn't mine. My parents recently moved, and I offered to help them unpack boxes as a way of pretending to help them, but really to take a break from my children. Ahem. Anyways, I was saying.

So much of what we own and save for the sake of saying really is junk. It's just old junky stuff that we can't bear to part with. BUT. It has memories. It has a story. It has a story that we recall each time we think of it and each time we touch it. The things that we save are the things that make us feel warm and good and loved.

I rescued from my mother's house the following: a thirty year old teddy bear that has a dimple from some scissors that, um, accidentally came in contact with her cheek and a bandaid where she has a hole. A stuffed bunny, a thing that might be called a mouse, but the seventies were a cruel, cruel decade for style and some needlepointed and embroidered pictures. The pictures were done by my mother and they hung in my childhood house as long as I can remember. They say "home" to me. They aren't hip or cool, and I don't know if they'll hang in my house. But each time I think of them or touch them, I will smile.

Now, if when I am old, my children were to come across such treasures from the hippest decade of the twentieth century, they would likely say, as I did to my mother this week more times than I can count, "UGH, MOM, WHY??? Why on earth did you keep this crap?" And I will tell them the story, like my mom did so many times this week. And then maybe, just maybe, they will smile when they see them, too.

I think oftentimes the story is far more valuable than the actual thing. The story is better than the ratty old baby bonnet with only one string. But you need the thing to remind you of the story. And so you should keep your stories.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Paying it forward.

There I was, three children. The airplane was decending and two of them fell asleep. The baby and the middle one. The oldest was just over four years old. I had to make it down the aisle of the plane and the jetbridge until they gave me my stroller back. I had enough stuff to keep three children clean, un-smelly, fed and occupied for four hours. That means I had enough luggage for a normal adult for a month.

Two children were asleep - that was at least fifty pounds. I had at least three bags and a four year old who was unwilling to go far without a hand held. I needed help, plain and simple. The state of humankind? This was the moment where I was going to find out.

And find out I did. I sat. I watched people get off the plane. I was going to wait. I had no idea what I was waiting for, but I knew I couldn't do much of anything at that moment.

While I sat, I had no less than five offers of help. Young men, business men, grandmothers, business women. So many people offered to help. Being the independent soul that I was, I refused at first, then realized that my daughter was not going to wake up, and there was no way I could carry them all, so I relented. A couple, probably on vacation, helped - one carrying a child, the other carrying all my bags. I had a baby and a hand to hold, that was it.

I cried. I was so grateful to them, and to all those who offered. I vowed to myself that when I had the opportunity, that I would do the same for some other overwhelmed mother of young children traveling. So Monday? If you're traveling, I'm ready. I'll be the one with the ipod, the trashy magazine and the giant smile. I'll help you. You just have to be ready to accept the help.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Seven Frivolous Things I Love

Because any other list would have to be all sappy and stuff with my wonderful husband and children, and I'd probably make someone mad because someone else was higher up on the list than the other (which reminds me, the oldest child asked the other day if it was really, really true that parents didn't pick favorites - he asked only at a moment when I was the least exasperated with him, coincidentally)

1. Dr Pepper. Who's list is this not first on?
2. Fancy fringe with beads AND tassles, because one OR the other simply isn't enough.
3. My iphone. My gosh how did I live without it two weeks ago and all the rest of my life???
4. Deal or No Deal. There is no other show in the world that has caused me to be late to pick up my children from school.
5. A fire in the fireplace. And not only because it means the children aren't home. It's just magical.
6. My haircut. Mostly because it's about darn time I have an adorable haircut.
7. My painted rooms. I just keep walking into them and staring with my mouth open and drool hanging out. They just make me so happy.

So there. Seven things that I can absolutely live without, but I just don't wanna.