Sunday, July 30, 2006
Now, I didn't say I was good at all those things. I just said I like doing them.
So, when my husband made a simple (or so he thought) suggestion to put all three of our kids in one room and make one bedroom a playroom, I jumped on it.
Did someone say (gasp!) "redecorate"?! Be still my beating heart.
The right side of my brain kicked into artistic hyperdrive. I ran to the computer and started frantically doing searches for "shared space bedrooms". And of course, at the top of the list is the medivial theme.
Sigh. So romantic.
Princesses for the girls and knights and dragons for Brother. A castle theme throughout. But wait! We could turn the bunk bed into a castle!! And I could paint something beautiful on the wall! And the colors would be regal...gold, crimson, purple...
My head is spinning with ideas and I begin to feel whoozy with a good HGTV buzz going. I am cruising full throttle down the highway of dreams in a slick, red sportscar called "Creativity".
And then reality comes crashing in on my reverie and pulls the emergency brake.
What am I thinking??!!
When I am going to do all that?
I homeschool. I have a toddler. I have dishes, laundry and a million other things to keep up with. I am going back to school in three weeks, where I will be taking 12 HOURS!
And blogging. Let's not forget about that.
I need a week with a nanny, cook and a housekeeper so I can satisfy my creative muse.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Get a load of these adorable bows! I've been making hairbows for not quite a year, trying to perfect the basic bow.
But Shannon put up this link on her site.
And now I will never be the same.
The laundry is piling up. There are dirty dishes in the sink. I haven't made my bed.
And the ribbon...Dear God, THE RIBBON!! It's everywhere.
And now I'm trying to find creative ways to budget so I can order more.
Perhaps I could sell some stuff onEbay? Clothes? Toys? A kidney?
Gotta run. I'm in the process of digging through all my girls' clothes, finding outfits that don't have bows to match.
Somebody stop me.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Ah, that's better.
I'm friendly. I'm polite. I smile at people I don't know and chit chat with cashiers. I hold doors open for strangers. If I walk in front of someone I say "excuse me".
But apparently, that sort of stuff has gone out of fashion, along with corsets and parasols.
I made a trip to the library today. And yes, I had some things that were overdue. I'll agree, I am not the world's most responsible library patron. I got a card for my son so I wouldn't have to pay the fine on mine. And it took about 2 nano-seconds for me to rack up tab on his. I have lost a book...once. We always keep the videos longer than we should. And yes, there was that incident regarding Sister and a book in the bathroom. But after a Clorox wipe to the dust jacket, no one was the wiser.
In my defense, I keep that library afloat. They could build a new wing and name it in my honor with all the money I've given them.
They should roll out the red carpet for me.
But no. I get the cold, icy stare from the Library Nazi when I bring my hot, sweaty crew up to the desk with armloads of loot. "Would you like these all on one card?" she asks, in a monotone barely above a mumble. And that is all I get from her. She checks us out begrudgingly and silently. What is it about me that irritates her? Does she treat everyone this way? She hands me my long receipt with the names of the books and their due dates. "Thank you," I say, hoping for a smile, a grunt, an obscene gesture.
Next, the grocery store. That's always fun with hot, tired children. I am making my way down a longer, main aisle, next to the craft department at the Wal-Mart Super-make-me-go-insane-Center. Suddenly a speeding cart piloted by a grown man with three children zooms in front of me, narrowly escaping a collision. "Excuse me," I say, though he is clearly the one who should apologize. No matter. He doesn't even glance my direction. He's too busy pretending to be Mr. Cool Dad of the Year by turning the cart into a race car, complete with engine and screeching tire noises. And as if pulling right out in front of me isn't enough, he tries to run me over on his way down the aisle.
I seriously considered chunking my box of 80-count unscented baby wipes at his rude, obnoxious head.
I get through everything on my list and have one more stop. The deli. I've only had to say, "Stop that", "Don't touch that", "Don't sit there", "Don't run" about 700 times, so I'm really ready to go. I arrive at the deli counter and park my cart close to, but slightly behind the lady who was there first waiting for her order. There is about a cart's width between us. While I stand there, patiently waiting my turn, a sassy little twenty-something in a sports bra and gym shorts pushes her cart between ours and sashays her tight, little hiney right on up to the counter, in front of me. I don't say anything, thinking she surely will ask if I've been helped.
I mean, I'm standing right there.
I was there first.
I have three loud, hyper children.
I completely look the part of the tired, bedraggled housewife.
Not today. When the lady behind the counter asked who was next, she piped right up and took my turn. My turn.
HEL-LO!! Am I INVISIBLE??!!!
I push my cart out of there in a huff, hoping she notices, but I'm pretty sure she didn't.
That's it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. I've got the Library Nazi's number. See if she gets another smile from me. No more holding open doors. No more "please" and "thank you". I'm through being nice.
And tomorrow, I might just kick the cat, too.
You can believe it or not, but this is my first Works-for-me-Wednesday. The truth is I have no original good ideas. I am a copycat. However, I did manage to find a little tidbit you all might be interested in.
I save yogurt cups.
Earth-shattering, I know.
But when my Superkids want to paint I put their paint in the yogurt cups. When they are through, I toss the cup. I don't have to wash anything. I don't have to despair over the pennies I wasted by throwing away a disposable cup I actually paid for. And they are the perfect size for a dab of paint for my little Picassos.
Admit it. Now you think I'm pretty smart.
Now smile and repeat after me, "Ah-ha! Yes! Supermom is a genius!"
So, it's not life-changing. I won't make a million marketing my idea to the masses. But, hey. It works for me.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Supermom, what did you do today?
Well, friends, I had one of those amazing I-am-a-domestic-goddess kind of Mondays. You know what I mean. That rare, almost mythical, Monday when you actually accomplish something...and it shows. I swear, my coffee was super-charged this morning.
I warned the kids ahead of time I had two loads of whites coming out of the dryer. Whites are theirs to fold. Towels, T-shirts, undies, washcloths, etc. Now, I'm not a stickler. They are seven and four years old. Right now I focus on establishing the habit. We can work on technique later. But I think maybe we need a review. I ask you, does this even closely resemble a folded T-shirt?
But I gotta give my kiddos a hand. They stuck it out and worked diligently with minimal whining and only a few reminders.
I'll tell you a secret. Flylady always says you should work for fifteen minutes at a time, then take a break. So I applied this with my kids. After fifteen minutes of folding, we would break for Freeze Dancing. Even Baby got into it, stopping every time I stopped the music.
People, it works. My kids almost forgot we were working. They even put on their Incredibles masks and pretended they were Dash and Violet, folding clothes and saving the world.
That Flylady is a genius. An annoying genius, but a genius.
Now I unloaded the dishwasher this morning, loaded it again and washed a full load. But I still had a TON of dishes. How did that happen? Then I had another mastermind plan. "Hey, kids," I yelled excitedly. "Come here! I have a surprise for you!" I ran soapy water in one sink, clean water in the other, pulled up chairs and said with a big, cheesey smile, "You get to wash dishes!"
And they actually fell for it!
You'd think I'd just told them we were taking the next plane to DisneyWorld.
Again, I'm not looking for perfection. I actually figured I'd have to re-wash some myself. I had a cookie sheet with baked on cookie goo in there. But those little Incredibles lived up to their name and got those dishes sparkling clean!
Are you believing this?!
After getting the kitchen clean we broke out the paints and the classical music and worked the right side of their brains. I even gave Baby a paintbrush!
I'm making myself sound like the epitome of everything motherly and wise. So to make you feel better, I'll tell you that I did not shower or brush my teeth today. I'm not even making that up, folks. It's the whole, disgusting truth. Scout's honor.
After lunch and some time to rest, I released the kids from their shackles and let them loose to play what they wanted. Then I cleaned the top of the refrigerator (ew), did more laundry, swept and mopped the kitchen and the living room, changed the sheets on my bed and made it, vacuumed, put laundry away and THEN, decided to do a little project in Brother's room.
Brother has bunk beds, but we only have one mattress. He wanted to be on top, so the bottom has been open. We've had a computer in there with all the kid's games on it. But the computer died. So I decided to take it, along with the desk it was on, out and make that space into something he could use.
The desk, however, had to be taken apart before I could get it out. Sounds simple enough. I know how to use a screwdriver.
Hey, they don't call me Supermom for nothin'.
Now, I'm off to take a shower. I smell.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Then along came my beautiful children...
However, I am trying to fit reading back into my schedule. I just got a copy of a new book called Arms of Deliverance by Tricia Goyer. (Go here to read the first chapter!) This is the summary from the back cover:
"Katrine, a Czech Jew, is so successful in her attempt to passas an Aryan that she finds herself dating a Nazi officer. Having convinced him of her genetic purity, the officer sends her to stay at a Lebensborn home - A Nazi breeding program in which children are raised and indoctrinated by the state.
Meanwhile, rival American reporters Lee and Mary land assignments on the frontlines of war-torn Europe --Lee joins troops sailing for Normandy, while Mary's destiny lies in the cramped quarters of a B-17 bearing down on Berlin. Before the presses roll, their lives will be indelibly marked by a caring American navigator, brave French resistors, and a maniacal Nazi officer. Arms of Deliverance is a story of unexpected redemption."
I may be making myself look stupid here, but I didn't even know there was such a thing as a Nazi breeding program. That alone interests me. And I think the artwork on the cover is gorgeous.
There I go...judging a book by its' cover.
So, what are you reading?
Saturday, July 22, 2006
3 Things That Scare Me
- Mommy getting too far away from me, unless I'm at Super, Mega, Ultra McDonald's. Then I want to run away from her as fast as my little legs will carry me.
- Strangers, because they may want to take me away from my Mommy.
- Mommy leaving me in the nursery at church.
3 People That Make Me Laugh
- The cat
3 Things I Love
- The Computer
- Belly Buttons
3 Things I Hate
- When Mommy leaves me in the nursery at church (See above, 3 Things That Scare Me).
- Not getting to go bye-bye when Daddy takes Brother and Sister with him to the store.
3 Things I Don't Understand
- Why I can't eat butter from the butter dish with my fingers.
- Why I don't have my own blog. I know I could do it if Mom would just let me at it!
- Why not everyone loves having my cute, little razor-sharp fingernail jammed in their belly button. I think it's hilarious.
3 Things On My Floor
- "Mr. Brown Can Moo" by Dr. Suess
- plastic Elmo
3 Things I'm Doing Right Now
3 Things I Want To Do Before I Die
- Get on that computer. I'm dying to see what happens.
- Go swimming without floaties.
- Have my very own cell phone. And not one of those stupid toy ones they try to fool me with. I want the real deal, baby.
3 Ways To Describe My Personality
- Fearless (well except for that whole "mommy going away" thing)
3 Things You Should Listen To
- Garth Brooks' "Wrapped Up In You". It's my favorite! I can even sing along.
- My Discovery Toys car. It makes a really loud clicking noise when you push it. Great stuff. Mom loves it.
- The pager beep on the cordless phone. I love to push it when Mommy's not looking.
3 Things You Should Never Listen To
- "Don't Touch"
- "Come Here"
3 Absolute Favorite Foods
- puffy Cheetos
3 Things I'd Like To Learn
- How to talk.
- How to ride a bike.
- How to sneak Mom's cell phone without getting caught.
3 Beverages I Drink Regularly
3 Shows I Watch
- Dora the Explorer
- Sesame Street
- Thomas the Tank Engine
3 Babies I Tag
Friday, July 21, 2006
(And in this photograph I have a lovely shot of some mommy's backside. She'd be thrilled to know it's posted for the entire universe to see.)
So, why was I at the new Super, Mega, Ultra McDonald's, you ask? Well, I made a new friend today.
Shannon from Rocks in My Dryer! Turns out, we're sorta neighbors. How cool is that?! And what a time we had. Between chasing toddlers we got to know each other outside of Blogland. What a sweet lady.
I'll admit, I was a little nervous. I didn't sleep well last night. I thought, "What if we don't hit it off? What if our children hate each other? What if there's no 'click'?" Well, that and I drank a Pepsi at 9:00 p.m. so I had a good caffeine buzz going. I needn't have worried. The kids got along great and once I found out she has a Hairbow Fettish, too, I knew she could be trusted. It was like chatting with an old friend.
Not only that, but a cold front has moved through tonight, giving us respite from the blazing heat.
All in all, I'd say it's been a pretty great day.
Color me McHappy.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Sister has a history of violence with small, plastic people and often uses disguises to charm and disorient authorities. However, when questioned, she was quick to admit guilt. "I just wanted to pull it," was her statement in regard to the discovered head. So far, no formal charges have been filed, but she is expected to receive no more than probation and community service at the hand of her mother.
The Fairy Tale Prince could not be reached for comment.
Services for Barbie were held today at the Kitchen Trashcan.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
"Good, Sweetie," I replied groggily. That is my cue to rise and shine.
After dragging myself out of bed I shuffle to the living room on my way to the kitchen to make my coffee. I can't function until I've had my coffee. I feel something grainy on my feet. "What's this?" I ask. Brother informs me it is Ovaltine. Sister had brought it into the living room, for some reason. Probably to eat it from the can. Upon entering the kitchen, I find chocolate milk on the table and floor with Ovaltine sprinkled about.
Remember, I haven't had my coffee. I sigh. Sister is standing beside me. She had been so proud of herself, and now she was standing there looking so sorry.
Now, tell me, could you be angry with a face like that?
On the other hand, I did find this smeared on my bathroom wall:
Pray tell, Gentle Reader, might you care to guess what it is? Need a hint?
IT AIN'T CHOCOLATE MILK!!!!!!!
One of my children got a little "messy" while wiping one day and decided to wipe it on the nearest surface.
Help me. Please.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
We need to perform hardware maintenance on the photos system for Blogger. This means that photo uploading and serving will be down for approximately 1 hour starting at 5pm (Pacific Time). All photos previously uploaded will not be visible during this maintenance.Thanks for your understanding.
Update: This is now complete. Thanks for your patience.
So, do you see a photo? No?
Thanks, Blogger. Glad to know the problem is fixed.
So, since I cannot upload a photo, you will get to participate in a little envisioning exercise. It's good for you. It will stimulate your frontal lobe.
That's on your brain. Don't get too excited.
Imagine, if you will, a photo of a cherub-faced toddler with sky blue eyes and a perky little ponytail lying on the floor throwing a no-holds-barred, world class, raise the roof tantrum.
That, my friends, is exactly what my day has been in a nutshell. So sit back, and grab a Coke. Supermom is about to do some whining.
First of all, the heat outside is approaching Supernova proportions. Our little three foot swimming pool has been turned into a jacuzzi, offering no refreshment. It is so hot we can't even be outside and enjoy it. So we have become like hermits, holed up in our house with all the blinds drawn to keep the sun from burning holes in our brains.
You know what happens when you keep three kids indoors for too long, don't you? Mutiny. They are all conspiring against me to drive me completely and utterly insane.
I tried to find fun things to do. I suggested we fold laundry. That didn't work. I said we could do worksheets. No takers. What's wrong with these kids?
So I brought out the big guns. We'll go grocery shopping. AND we'll buy cookies.
Am I great mom, or what?
And that was a lot of fun. So much fun that I had to come home and eat a dozen of the two dozen cookies we bought to alleviate my (ahem) fun.
All day long my children have been disobedient, rude, obnoxious, whiney and...well, I can say it now...bratty. Yup. They've been bratty.
They've been fighting with me, fighting with each other and it has been all I can do today to not scream and throw things across the room. Seriously, folks. I am stressing OUT. All I wanted to do was veg in front of my computer and have them leave me alone.
I know. That sounds terrible. I've been guilting myself all day for feeling that.
Now I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I am a very "hands on" mom. I rarely leave my kids with other people. And I normally love to play with them. I pride myself in that. But lately I am feeling the need for a break. I just need some distance. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's the hormones. Maybe it's the pressure of being the sole parent in the household for what feels like 24/7 (even though that's not really true). Or maybe it's all of the above. But I can't find the energy in me to suck it up and take my Supermom title seriously.
I think I need a hiatus. Maybe Alaska. Maybe Siberia. Maybe Antarctica.
Tonight Baby and I made the rounds, tucking in Sister and Brother before I put her down. She climbs up into Sister's bed and gives her a hug, laying her head on Sister's chest. We say goodnight to Brother, on the top bunk of his bunk beds and I turn to leave the room. She starts to cry and reaches around for him. I lift her up to him, where she throws her soft little arms around his neck and he kisses her chipmunk cheek.
That kind of makes up for the tantrum.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and your sweet words. It is amazing to me how you have all reached out to me when I've never even seen your faces (well, there's a few I have). This silly little blog I started as a journal has taken on a life of it's own and brought me such incredible friends (can I call you that?).
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Several years ago my parents moved in across the street from my sister. Hubby and I would go down almost every weekend. My sister, her husband and children, my brother, my parents...we would cook and play and eat and take naps and play games. It was a bonding ritual patterned after those sweet childhood memories.
But things changed. My sister's husband got very sick and we all watched him wither away and die. It left a giant hole in our family. And because none of us handled it well, that giant hole became a chasm. The relationships suffered. And I have hated it. I have wanted the closeness for my own family. Children should know their grandparents. They should know their aunts and uncles. They should have those wonderful memories to comfort them and bring them a smile in life.
I have wanted it for myself, too. I need the support of my mother and older sister, who have gone this way before me. I want the relationship we can have now that I am an adult. My soul has been empty of that. And I have suffered because of it.
But today was like old times.
I took the day off from church and went to my sister's house. Mom and Dad came. My brother, too. We cooked together. We ate together. We laughed and reminisced together. My children ate too much dessert. Today all the walls were down and we just spent the day complaining about the heat, snapping at each other now and then, and doing nothing, but doing something. It was like rain on my parched heart.
Just before I started home, my sister helped me bathe my kids in her big, whirlpool bathtub, which the kids loved. As she dried Baby, she said, "It's been almost like normal today. I haven't really thought about it."
And I hadn't either.
But now I am. Tonight I play pictures of today in my mind. I see my sister holding my children, kissing their little cheeks and saying, "I love you. You know that, right?" more than once...more than twice. I see her stealing a kiss from her new husband and exchanging a knowing glance. I see her tapping her foot and humming a hymn. I see her joking with her boys and laughing around the table.
I feel her embrace, which feels so true and so overwhelmingly full. I hear her words in my ear about how much she loves me and my heart breaks. And I feel myself pull away inside. I want so much to be close to her, but now I fear the ending.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Hubby and I had Poet and his family over for dinner a couple of weeks ago. However, he failed to mention beforehand that he wasn't a fan of Kelly Clarkson.
He doesn't think she has anything to say.
He likened her to Britney Spears.
Okay, Poet. It's ON.
So, just for my friend, Poet, I am posting this musical treat by the always entertaining, Ms. Hilary Duff. It's an infectious melody with haunting lyrics. The bridge is especially thought provoking. How does she do it?!
But the best thing about this song, is how it stays stuck in your head once you hear it, playing on a continuous loop all day and into the night. So, Poet, that is my gift to you. Enjoy.
Click here to see the video.
Friday, July 14, 2006
My parents came over early this morning to treat the kids and I to breakfast and find some garage sales. I come from a long line of garage sale fanatics. It's what we do on the weekends during the summer. The kids ran up to the car as soon as it pulled into the driveway, practically knocking my mom over in the rush to give her a hug. Her and dad were all smiles, getting that special look that grandparents get when they see their grandchildren. I stand back and observe, as I love to watch it. When the kids have sufficently smothered MeeMaw and PawPaw with chatter and affection, I go to give mom a hug. She sighs.
"Ann's in the hospital again," she says, speaking of my aunt. "She's got a blood clot."
"Oh, no," I say, giving mom a kiss.
"And your sister has a problem."
I look at mom's face, thinking I know the problem and wondering if I'm right. I thought there might be trouble between Teresa and her new husband. But Mom's mouth quivers and her eyes become moist. "She had a colonoscopy done. They found a mass..."
I don't remember her exact words. But they believe the mass to be malignant.
My sister is 42. The mother of four boys. A widow of cancer. A newlywed.
She will have surgery next week. We will know more then.
It's difficult to put words to the emotions. I'm not sure I can. I am asking everyone to pray. For what? I don't know. My faith is stretching thin, but I know God is sovereign, and it is only in Him that I have any hope at all.
My first thoughts are selfish. But this is far-reaching. Teresa's boys are our greatest concern.
Pray for them. Pray for her. Pray for my parents. Pray for us all.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I've said it before. My house is small. About 1100 square feet. Usually, we make it work just fine. But today...today has been different. Could it be the discovery that Baby has grown 2 3/4 inches since January?
Sad, but true.
This morning I was having my slaves, I mean, children help with the laundry before we started school. Brother and Sister were in the living room folding the whites. I heard the buzzer on the dryer and walked to the laundry room to empty it. You've seen pictures of my laundry room. There is about a 12"x12" square of floor to stand on. I stand in that spot, lean over and grab a huge armload of laundry to dump on the couch for the slaves, I mean, children to fold. Apparently that little patch of floor is a prime location for eating bananas because Baby decided to do just that right next to my feet. As I turn to deliver the armload, which is blocking my view of my feet and the floor beneath me, I trip over her, knocking her over and almost killing myself in an effort to keep from squashing her like a cute, little bug. Clean laundry falls on a not-so-clean floor. Re-wash it? Of course not! Pick it up, dust it off and deliver it to the couch.
Phase two of our productive morning: Table Time. This is the hour in the morning we spend on "book learnin' ". We do our workbooks, worksheets and other things that involve writing or drawing. With three people calling my name and needing my attention, most of this time is a blur. But one part I remember vividly is Baby fussing about being at the table with us. After trying to appease her with various things, I finally let her down to get into whatever trouble she is sure to find. Brilliant move on my part. She is toddling around the kitchen and wanders into the laundry room. Then she comes back into the kitchen and I hear a thud. She is standing there rubbing her eye, but not crying. I'm thinking she bumped her head or her eye or something, but since she's not wailing I give her a quick "Aw, are you okay?" and try to control the Play Doh chaos that is erupting at the table. Pretty soon she scurries up to the bench with Sister and Brother and starts clamoring for some Play Doh. They're all playing and making a grand mess when I turn and notice Baby's face. There is something red all over it. At first I thought she had tried to shove red Play Doh up her nose. But upon closer inspection I discover her nose has been bleeding and she has smeared it all over.
10:00 a.m. and we're rockin' and rollin'.
Fast forward to lunchtime. I make the kids bean burritos, serve them and they begin eating. Then I make my lunch. By the time I sit down, Brother has downed his and wants another. I hop up and start to make him one. He gets up and comes to stand on top of me...I mean, right next to me.
"Hey, Mom, where's my Kool-Aid?" he asks.
"It's in that pitcher in the sink. I just have to finish stirring it."
"I'll do it." He begins to stir.
There are just enough beans left to make Brother's burrito.
Sister chimes in from the table, "Mommy, I want another, too!"
"I don't want to stir anymore," says Brother. He spies me stealing beans from his tortilla and putting some on half a tortilla for Sister. He is right up next to me, sticking his face in it all. "Is there enough?"
I'm feeling a little irritated. "Yes, go sit down."
"Are you sure? I'm really hungry."
"Yes, sit down." I take his to the microwave which is located in my spacious laundry room. I stand on my little square of floor space and lean over the laundry hamper to pop it in. Brother, being the inquisitive and very obedient child he is, is right there, observing all the incredibly interesting details of microwaving canned refried beans and a little cheese on a tortilla. Fascinating stuff.
"GO SIT DOWN!" I say sweetly. And he promptly does.
I return to the kitchen to pour them Kool-Aid and he is right back up, invading my space.
SPACE!! SPACE!!! MY KINGDOM FOR SPACE!!!
I finally get Brother's and Sister's second helping finished and sit down to eat my lunch, when Baby, who is finished eating, is crying, reaching for me and saying, "Na Na!", which means "night-night" or "I want to go to bed NOW!"
I scarf down my lunch with Baby on my lap, whining and trying to lift up my shirt. All you nursing moms know what that means, right? And I dream of wide open spaces, where my children can scream and yell outside the 3 feet circumference around me.
Who am I kidding? It wouldn't matter how much space I have, they are going to be underfoot for a while. And really, I guess I'm glad for that.
But in the meantime, maybe I can get Ty What's-His-Name with the washboard abs to come makeover my house, Extreme-style.
Dear Ty and the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Team,
I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of three very large, very loud,
very energetic children and wife to a man with huge feet. We are
squished like sardines. Please come build us a really, really big house
1. our children grow more and the house actually explodes
2. I am forced to check myself into the nearest looney bin.
P.S. Never mind. I think the looney bin sounds wonderful. I'll
have a private room, right?
Monday, July 10, 2006
C'mon. Be honest. You do it, too.
I try not to be obvious, though. I stand in front of Better Homes and Gardens and pretend to care about doing my own home improvements or whether or not I'm raising spoiled brats, but I'm actually looking out of the corner of my eye at the Star magazine caddy corner down from it and wondering which mystery celebrity is wearing that bikini and cellulite on her thighs. Yikes! Is that how Cameron Diaz looks without makeup? And don't even get me started on Star Jones.
Now those really stupid stories, like alien babies and 7,000 pound people don't interest me at all. I'm no idiot. I mean, I know the difference between reality and a plain, bald-faced lie. I'm an intellectual, for cryin' out loud.
What?! Lindsay Lohan was spotted with a new tatoo while shopping for cleaning products at Target with Johnny Depp and his secret love child named Nissan?
Now there's a story.
I was in Barnes and Noble the other night with a friend. We had gathered up tons of books on writing, getting published and the like. We sat in the cafe, sometimes chatting, sometimes sitting in silence, soaking up the written words like a Bounty towel on spilled Kool-Aid. During one of our conversations the subject matter turned to children. Imagine that. She began to pour out her heart about the struggles she's having with her pre-teen daughter. I sat listening intently as she described the pain and angst of life with a hormonal girl. At times, even tearing up with emotion. Suddenly, in mid-sentence, her gaze fixed over my shoulder and her jaw dropped. "Oh my gosh!" she exclaimed.
What? A spider on my shoulder? A 7,000 pound man? What?
"Jen and Vince are getting married?!" She jumped up from her seat and ran to grab the magazine with the jarring headline, bringing it back to the table to devour every seedy detail. She flipped through quickly, anxious to get the skinny on the wedding plans.
I couldn't believe it. Her. My smart, bookish friend with wisdom beyond her years. Honestly, I couldn't believe she even knew who Vince was. Here she was, pouring over the article as if her very being depended on knowing this juicy bit of gossip.
As it turns out, it was all a hoax. The article was just a sneaky way to get you to pick up the magazine. And she fell for it. Hook. Line. And sinker.
"You want to read it?" she asks, handing it to me.
"No," I snort haughtily. As if I care about Jen and Vince.
"But I do want to look at the fashions at the beginning. You flipped through those too fast."
Seriously. Did you see what Keira Knightly wore to her movie premiere?
Sunday, July 09, 2006
It's a hot Saturday and I'm broke. Hubby is at work. The kids and I are home, cleaning up around the house. The kids are whining about staying home and doing chores. It's not really what I want to be doing either. I'm trying to think of something fun and thrifty we could do and weighing the cost of gas against everything. The kids earned coupon books from the Library's Summer Reading program for all kinds of free stuff. So I promise to take them to the candy store where they can redeem their coupons for free ice cream cones. After lunch we make our way to the Candy Castle at the mall.
I park in front of Dillard's because Candy Castle is right next to it inside the mall, and I don't want to have to walk through the rest of the mall to get there. The air conditioning cools our sticky skin and the smell of clean and new tickle my nose. I stick out like a sore thumb in my worn T-shirt and no makeup and I feel as though I've been transported to another dimension. I lead my three, hot children through the aisles of clothes, jewelry and shoes without having to stop and say "Don't touch!" even once. I suppose they are preoccupied with more exciting things, like a cold, sweet treat and riding the escalator. Whatever the reason, I am thankful.
We make it to the candy store without incident and order the cones. Strawberry Swirl for Sister. Chocolate Swirl for Brother. And Baby and I share Orange Swirl in a cup. We decide to sit in the cool food court and people watch while we eat our ice cream. Radio Disney has a stage set up surrounded by parents and kids. It seems they are playing games and handing out prizes. Brother wants to participate. We move to a table closer to observe. They play a few more games and have a mini-concert with three young, teeny-boppers singing about being true to yourself and following your dreams. A nice little "freebie" we didn't plan that added a bit more fun to our outing. The ice cream is soon devoured and close by are mechanical cars and trucks requiring quarters. So I give Brother 50 cents to ride once and Sister 50 cents to ride with Baby. After the short rides have ended, we make our way back to the van.
Since there are no distractions to keep them from it, the kids decide to stop, look and touch practically everything on the way back through Dillard's. In trying to focus them, I too, get caught up in looking. I wonder what it is like to come to this store and buy something. Not because it's 75% off, but just because you like it. Because it's flattering. Because it makes you feel good. Discontent creeps up on me and I try to bat it away. We almost make it out when Sister spots the fairy dresses next to the door that she had somehow missed on our way in. "Oh, Mommy! I want one of those!" The dresses are flowing and sparkling in pink, blue and mint with pictures of fairies on the front. A prissy little girls' dream. An older woman walks in the door and says to her, "You look just like one of those," pointing to a fairy. Sister smiles and I see her imagination spin a sweet, little dream of glittery wings and silken gowns. She would look every inch a fairy in one of the dresses. "Not today, Sweetie," I say and steer her out the door.
Once in the van, Brother asks me to drive by the movie theatre so he can look at the posters posted on the outside. But I'm hot, Baby is tired and I just want to get home. "No," I answer. "I'm going the opposite direction to avoid traffic. They're doing construction that way and I don't want to have to wait." Brother is angry and doesn't mind letting me know it. He slaps the seat in front of him, furrows his brow and crosses his arms. I feel the anger rise up to my ears. I begin my lecture. "Why is it that every time I try to do something fun with you, you have to find one little thing you don't get your way and get upset about it? You need to control your temper. When we get home, you're going to bed." This upsets him further and he keeps trying to push back. I am hurt by his ungrateful attitude and don't understand why he would treat me this way. It feels like I can never do enough. Like my gifts today, though small, were insignificant.
This morning at church I was so glad to be in worship. My heart was loaded down with feelings of hurt, anger and abandonment. Feeling like my God had abandoned me with a husband and three small children and not enough to give. But in worship I could give all those feelings back and not think about the emptiness my own discontent has brought.
Afterwards, one of our members gave a slideshow presentation from a mission trip to New Orleans. A group from our church went with Samaritan's Purse to help hurricane victims. There were video clips of the devestation that took me by surprise. I've seen it on the news. I know what happened. And yes, it is sad. But it has been too easy to keep it all at a distance and not really consider the horror of it all. Seeing those pictures broke my heart. Pictures of homes and businesses swallowed by water. People sleeping outside on the ground. Babies being given bottled water to try and satiate their hunger and keep them hydrated.
I began to cry. I cried for all those faceless, nameless people I had claimed to care for, but never bothered to consider their circumstance. I cried for their pain and their struggle and their loss. I cried for those children and their parents, helpless to do for them what parents ought to do. And I also cried out of shame. I thought of my hurt at Brother's reaction to all I had tried to do for him. And I realized my own reactions to everything God has given me was very much the same. I have a home, with a roof and air conditioning. A bed inside. My children have clothing. We have hot food. We have each other. And my focus lately has been on having more. In my heart I've been slapping the seat in front of me and wondering why I don't have everything the way I want it. There are people in New Orleans who have had all those things taken from them. God forgive me.
So, this is a long way to saying I am thankful for the everyday things like four walls, a roof and a safe place to sleep. I have reprieve from a hot sun. I have clean water to drink.
I am thankful for the haven of home and family.
Friday, July 07, 2006
A couple of weeks ago Sister earned a little Cinderella doll complete with microscopic shoes and two little mice (Jack and Mary). Even more than Cinderella with her rubbery finery and accesories, Sister loves these two little mice. She plays with them all the time. Remember that.
Okay, it's 7:45...we're nearing the home stretch...bedtime. Everyone is clean, teeth are brushed, toys are put away and I am ready to get everyone tucked in. Brother decides he need to go to the bathroom just as the phone rings. I am sitting in Sister's room when I answer it. Baby is playing on the floor and Sister is trying to talk me into playing with either Jack or Mary mouse. Brother is doing his business. The voice on the other end is someone with blah-blah financial blah-blah interest rate blah blah blah. Sister decides to ask Brother to playwhile he is on the toilet. While I am trying to get rid of the blah blah lady Sister comes back into the room and says Brother dropped Jack into the water. "Okay, honey, just a minute," I say. Then I peek into the bathroom and see Brother standing instead of sitting. "I dropped Jack in the water, " he says as he gazes into the toilet.
Wait, it gets better :-)
I take the phone with me into the bathroom to find Jack at the bottom of the toilet right next to a giant turd. Blah blah financial lady is still chattering away so I finally hang up and am grossing out because Sister wants me to get him out. Well, there's no way I'm going in after it, so I announce that Jack will be flushed. Sister immediately starts crying and lamenting her darling Jack.
So here I am with a decision...fish or flush.
Jack is now swimming in a cup of bleach, where he will remain until morning when he will make his way to the dishwasher for further disinfecting. All is well in rubbery Cinderella-land.
No, really. Are you? If you aren't, then sit. Now.
Seriously. You need to sit down.
Are you ready?
I finished painting my living room.
It's true!! Look at the lovely white trim, the door, which was previously primer gray and my beautiful Nutmeg Brown walls! It took me three entire evenings of staying up until one and two o'clock in the morning, but the peace I feel when I enter my living room is well worth it. It's the first time in the eight years I have lived here that my living room has been entirely painted. I even hung up the window toppers I bought on clearance in December. It's coming together to make a nice, little room.
You didn't think I'd do it, did you?
Of course, the rest of my house had to suffer:
But you'd just be jealous if every room in my house looked great. It's okay. I like to do my part to make everyone else feel better about themselves. Keeps me humble.
Party at my house tonight to celebrate.
Of course, you have to stay in the living room.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Everything about her is neat and tidy. Her house, her clothes, her hair, her children, her Suburban. Always put together. Always has the appearance of complete control.
But that isn't what bothers me.
What bothers me is the many occassions she has tried to impose her tidiness on me, even going as far as to make fun of my inability to control. I can take a joke, but she's not joking. She really sees me as not living up to my potential, whatever that means.
So I woke up feeling I had to get a shower, do my makeup, do my hair and get my house spotless. Oh, and run some very important errands and tend to my children, as well. But everything was working against me from the beginning. For starters, I woke up to find the box for the Special Addition Superman granola bars with blue and red chocolate chips in the trash. Not a big deal, except I just bought them yesterday. When I questioned Brother, he admitted to eating the eight - Count 'em. Eight. - remaining bars for breakfast this morning. And it just went downhill from there. By lunchtime Brother had a stomachache (shocker!) and I wasn't able to accomplish anything I had set out to do. While putting Baby down for a nap I found myself feeling like a miserable failure and the tears began to flow.
"Stop crying, you idiot!!" I scolded myself. "Answer the door with red eyes and a splotchy face so she can ask what's wrong. That's all you need!" I tried to suck it up. But my eyes were like two leaky faucets, unable to stop dripping. So I decided to let it out. I could always lie and tell her my allergies were really bad.
What is it about me that delights in other's struggles? Don't get me wrong, I don't want to see anyone really suffer. But I would have loved for her to show up on my doorstep completely disheveld saying, "Man, the baby didn't sleep at all last night and I didn't even have the energy to shower. I left a dirty diaper laying on the kitchen counter and my bed unmade. Do you have a Wal-Mart sack so I can clean out the trash in my car real quick? Oh, yeah. Can I borrow a maxi pad?" I might have kissed her perfectly manicured big toe if she had. I just need to see some reality now and then.
After a nice little breakdown, my head cleared a bit and I was able to put some perspective on the situation. I couldn't believe I had let myself get so worked up about something so silly. This is who I am. Flighty. Unorganized. Compulsive. Completely out of control. Every day I work toward being better. However, I will never be one of those women who keep it all together in a lovely, little designer package. Why have I let her put pressure on me to be something I'm not? Or maybe I'm the one who's putting on the pressure.
I got up, dried my eyes and didn't even dab on concealer. I moved the laundry basket from the couch to my room so she would have a place to sit and let the rest go. Not even a Clorox wipe to the toilet.
Monday, July 03, 2006
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Each time something doesn't go his way, he sees fit to turn around and run off, usually spewing something over his shoulder like, "You just don't want me to have any fun!" or "You're making my life miserable!"
It's like a scene from Lizzy McGuire. Or so I've heard.
This morning after church a group of his friends and their parents were going out to eat lunch. I have a twenty in my wallet for gas and that is it. No extra for eating out. Apparently this was a lunch of particular signifigance in his social life, even though he had just spent three hours "hanging with his homies". Never mind that. His fun quota hadn't been met yet. Once I dared to tell him we were going home and not out, he ran away from me into the kitchen. I followed and ordered him to come with me. "I want to be alone," he said sullenly, pulling off a pout that would make Greta Garbo green with envy. "I need some quiet time." "Well," I replied. "You can have all the quiet time you want in your room at home. Come with me. NOW." And in case he still didn't get the picture, I put on my best crazed, maniacal mommy face, lest he think about storming off again. He hops up and I turn to make sure my other two children are present and accounted for. I grab the girls, my stuff and head to the door.
Wait a minute.
Yup. The third, has gone AWOL. I ask other people standing around if they have seen Brother. No one has. I assume he has gone ahead to the van, since he wouldn't dare hide from me. I go out to the parking lot, where the hot sun is beating down on me and I'm balancing books, bag and children. I see the van, but no seven-year-old sillouette in the window.
Brother has a death wish.
So we trapse back to the building - did I mention it was hot? - where I almost rip the door off the hinges. As I walk in I see Brother hiding out in the prayer room, looking very guilty. I speak two words.
And it's all I can do to not go postal. I inform him he will be receiving a spanking at home. We go back out to the van and get loaded up, where I give instructions for complete silence. I hit the road like a Nascar driver with a severe case of road rage. And no one spoke a word. Probably feared for their dear little lives.
We make it home in one piece and Brother takes his place on my bed, where corporal punishment is administered. By this time I have cooled down and don't want to have to follow through with my promise. But I don't have a choice. He gets one swat and falls to pieces.
My heart breaks for him. We have had to say "no" a lot lately, and I know he's frustrated by that. I'm frustrated by that. Hubby has been working and taking summer classes and he's not home enough for any of us. I know that plays a part in things, too. But what can I do? I take him in my arms and tell him I understand how he feels. I tell him I love him. And I tell him he can never, ever, under any circumstances hide from me again.
I know there are difficult times on the horizon. I see a day coming when my embrace won't soothe the hurt. And I'm not ready. I know my job is to see him through this journey to become a man. But why does it hurt so much? Why is it so hard? On the one hand I want him to grow up a bit and learn to handle his disappointments. On the other hand I just want my little boy to stay small enough to snuggle up in my lap and love Thomas the Tank Engine forever. Unfortunately, he doesn't fit in my lap very well anymore and Thomas has been replaced by Batman and Superman. He grew up when I wasn't looking.
We are struggling, he and I, with the changes that are happening to and around him. I don't have the answers. But perhaps it has more to do with just being here for him. To let him know I understand his frustrations and his fears, even if I can't solve them.
And I will give him hugs. Lots of them. Because for today, it did the trick.