Monday, August 28, 2006

Look! I Just Laid A Huge Rubber Ball! or Teletubbies Do Pilates

They make it look so simple. Slow, fluid movements to mellow music. No jumping. No running. No heavy breathing. Lots of stretching.

Stretching isn't exercise. It's...stretching.

So when a friend asked if I wanted to take Pilates with her, I was all for it.

I can so totally do Pilates.

Since I am a card-carrying college student, I can take full advantage of the campus fitness facilities for free. This means I can even take the exercise classes for no extra charge. So, this morning, after class, I ran to the nearest Wal-Mart and bought myself some stretchy workout pants. Cute little capri workout pants. I threw them in my gym bag with my Easy Spirit shoes and some deoderant.

Like I'm going to need deoderant for stretching.

Once there, I follow my friend's lead, since she has done this before. Outside the classroom we grab a blue floormat, some small weights and a huge rubber ball.

Honestly, when I look at those giant balls, in shades of blue, yellow and red, I think of cute, little Teletubbies, frolicking along astroturf hills, talking their weird little babytalk, happily chasing the big, fun, bouncy ball.

Just in case you're about to run out and join the next Pilates class, it ain't Teletubby Land.

Upon entering the classroom, I notice all four walls are mirrors. I notice it right away, because like I said, it is mirrors, and you don't just casually dismiss something like that. Especially when you're wearing stretchy pants.


We start out slow, stretching our arms above our heads. Inhale. Exhale. Lengthen your spine. Stretch this way. Stretch the other way.

Piece of cake.


We go through some different accessories like the hand weights and this nifty pole we use to balance ourselves on one leg while stretching the other leg out behind us. The instructor makes it look so easy. "Don't lean on the pole. Just lightly hold it and use your abdominals."

Abdominals. She uses that word a lot. Trouble is, my abdominals disappeared a long time ago. I'm not even sure I still have them. And why did she give me the pole if I'm not supposed to lean on it?

I follow her directions, wibbling and wobbling on one leg, sometimes falling back to both feet. But even that wasn't too terribly bad.

Then she tells us to put the poles down and get our "balancing balls". And like a true Pilates idiot, I thought it would be easy. Let me just point out something. Sitting on that ball is not as easy as it looks. We are supposed to sit down and roll forward, so that our lower back is on the ball and our feet are planted firmly on the floor, supposedly keeping us from rolling off and cracking our heads on the concrete.

But I could not escape the fear of falling off that ball. And what's funny, everyone else seemed to be just fine, gracefully executing each move. I think something must have been wrong with mine, because I was flailing about, rolling around on that huge ball, looking, in fact, like a Teletubby.

But the instructor knew what she was doing. She lulled me into thinking it was so simple by saying things like "Remember to breathe. Inhale. Exhale. This is only a breathing exercise."

If it's only a breathing exercise, WHY ARE MY THIGH MUSCLES ON FIRE?!

At one point, she tells us to completely lay back on the ball, basically doing a backbend on the ball with our heads hanging upside down.

A word of advice, if you're going to be hanging upside down during your workout, do not down a Vente Caramel Frappucino with whipped cream before class.

I thought I was going to hurl.

And what's up with the mirrors??!!! As if making a fool out of myself isn't bad enough, I get to see it all happen!! AND MY BUTT LOOKS HUGE!!!

After an hour of excruciating humiliation, were are finally finished...and my legs feel like Jell-O, as does my ego. I glance around to find the stand that sells the T-shirts reading, "I did Pilates - and lived to tell about it".

And I'm going back next week. Just call me La La.

Friday, August 25, 2006


If you happen to see this box in the freezer section of your local Wal-Mart and/or Sam's Club, avert your eyes and keep walking.

These seemingly sweet and innocent little sundae cups are evil. Evil sent from the pits of a fiery hell by the Dark Angel himself to lead us into temptation and spit us out on the other side, soul-less and devoid of righteousness. They will take you prisoner and suck any and every thought from your brain until all you can think of is the gooey, buttery caramel sauce underneath a dark, rich chocolate shell with tiny, little chocolate candies hiding within. You will find yourself hiding them from your children, and lying when they find them. (e.g. "These? Oh, you won't like them. They're filled with vitamins and carrots...and, uh...bugs. Yeah, bugs. Those are little candy coated beetles.) They will turn you into a mindless drone, shuffling around in your pajamas, with only one goal in have more.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Supermom Goes Back to School- Part 2

I know every Monday will not be so leisurely. I know I'm going to have to do some work. But today, just for today, I'm enjoying the time.

After dropping my friend off at her car, I head back to campus to try and get my student ID.

It's a good thing pictures don't capture bad breath, because my french onion soup and iced coffee breath is very...fragrant.

The line to get IDs is behind a desk in front of the Fitness Center and it looks long-ish. I take my place at the end behind a woman with long dark hair and jeans. She smiles shyly at me and I take the first step in making Friend #2.

I make a stupid joke about driver's license pictures and mug shots and I find out her name is Rose. She has dark eyes and a few tell-tale lines on her thin face. Everything about her seems to tell me she has had a difficult life. She is in her 40's with three teenage boys. She decided to go to school to become a radiologist after working a factory job for years, putting rivets in appliances. She says she wants to use her mind.


I cannot believe this seemingly fragile woman has taken such a bold and courageous step. I am amazed by her resolve and I don't mind telling her so.

And then, the moment of truth. My turn to smile for the camera.

Ugh. I hate pictures. I was hoping to get my ID first thing this morning, when my makeup was fresh and my hair wasn't frizzed, but the machine has been broken. Now, my makeup is practically gone and I'm feeling less secure about the whole picture taking thing.

And when I get my ID, it isn't hard to see why.


I wish Rose luck, hoping I'll run into her again, and head upstairs to the bookstore. One more book to buy.

You're probably wondering, "Why didn't she buy it when she was at the bookstore earlier?"

The answer is simple. I am attending two different campuses and have to buy my books at the campus on which I attend.

Anyway, I have one more book to buy.

The dreaded class.

Dum da dum dum.

(gulp) Government.

I don't mind telling you, politics is not something of great interest to me. Anytime people start discussing politics, tempers flare and fingers wag and it just makes me all icky and uptight. I am not looking forward to this class. Not at all.

It would seem everyone else on campus had the same bright idea to wait until 5:00 to buy the book they need for their 6:00 class. The line is wound around to the back of the store. I quickly grab my book and get in line. No one is speaking. No one is looking around. Everyone is standing, silent and sullen, staring into space.

Granted, I've been holed up inside my own little corner of Suburbia, talking to people under the age of 10 for many moons. So, I may be a little out of the loop here. But why are people so gosh darned unfriendly? Do I look like a terrorist?

Well, based upon my student ID picture, that could be the case.

I stand in the line for 30 minutes before I finally get to the checkout. And the woman behind the counter has the same sadsack demeanor.

I go to the little cafe next to the bookstore to grab a quick bite before heading to...

Dum da dum dum.

...(gulp) Government.

I am greeted by a trio of lovely Lebonese people (family, perhaps?) who make me a delicious Rueben. Jalapeno chips and Pepsi to top it off, because the mint I had earlier made my breath a bit too minty fresh.

I sit down at a table overlooking the pond outside with the lovely fountain and begin to look at my notes.

"My what a good student she is!" you must be thinking. "Already taking notes!"

But, no. These would be my BLOGGING notes. I've been writing things down all day so as not to forget one teeny, tiny detail. Really, people. I know what's important here.

After scarfing down my dinner, I gather up my courage and head to...

Dum da dum dum.

...(gulp) Goverment.

When I finally find the class, I find it already almost full. I take a seat in the front row again, which is surprisingly empty. What's with these people? Aren't they afraid they might miss one tiny kernal of knowledge way back there in the back?

I take note of the room, very plain as classrooms go. In one corner is a map and projector screen. In the other corner is a wide, black metal cabinet. Next to it is the instructor's desk. I try to imagine what he might be like based upon his desk. It is cold, gray metal with only a computer on top. I imagine him to be dull and longwinded. A very no-nonsense kind of guy.

I am not looking forward to this.

To my left is a middle aged man, listening to an Ipod and reading, rather, devouring, his textbook as if it contained all the answers to life's mysteries.

Weird. I mean, who would ever voluntarily read such a book?

In walks a petite young brunette in torn jeans and sits to my right. She sips her water and bounces her foot so her flip-flop smacks her heel. Several more students file in, filling the desks one by one. And we sit.

In silence.

The door opens again and a man in a blue striped dress shirt and khakis walks in carrying a laptop case. No smile. No words.

That must be him. And boy, was I right. He is dull.

But to my surprise, he takes a seat on the front row, next to Smacking Flip-Flop girl.

So we sit some more, waiting.

Suddenly, the door swings open and a very loud voice booms "HOW THE HELL ARE YA?"

Meet my Goverment teacher.

He is a very tall man who looks like a cross between Willard Scott and W.C. Fields. His large, bulbous nose is red. His eyelids droop just enough to make me wonder if he is completely sober.

He picks up a wooden, tabletop podium that sets on the folding table directly in front of me and literally throws it on to the metal filing cabinet with a BANG! We all jump. He chuckles.

So, he's not Mr. Rogers. At least I won't be falling asleep in here. Anything to make the class interesting for me.

And interesting, it is.

He is very loud, very sarcastic and loves to sprinkle his language with profanity. But he is also passionate about politics and government, and there is nothing better than a teacher who loves what they are teaching. He held my attention. He made me think. And I enjoyed the class.


And that, friends, pretty much sums up my day.

It's been fabulous.

I feel so different, and I'm not even sure I can put it into words. Words like, metamorphasis and resurrection come to mind. That's not to say I haven't been happy staying home with my children. I have been satisfied. I wouldn't even think of giving that up. But I've been disappearing inside myself for years and haven't even known it.

Thank you, to my wonderful, supportive husband, who practically shoved me through this door. Who saw what was happening and intervened.

It's going to be an amazing journey. I simply can't wait to see what happens.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Supermom Goes Back to School - Part 1

Note: I don't care to read really long posts. This is a really long post. I am sorry for that. But today has been a very exciting day for me, and I am writing all of this down, more for myself than you. If you, like me, don't like reading long posts, you may want to skip this one. There wasn't much I could leave out. So I am going to post this in two parts.

Supermom here, reporting from the computer lab on campus, bringing an end to my first full day of college after thirteen years away.

Normally I would be posting from home, but Hubby called and informed me our computer got a nasty virus and everything - that's right...E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G had to be deleted from it. That means 9 months worth of pictures - gone.

Backup now. If you haven't done it to your computer, stop reading and do it now.

But on to happier things.

I began my day at 6:30 this morning, groggy, but excited. Hubby stepped up and gave me room to shower, dress and even put on makeup, keeping me apprised of the time. Which actually proved to be a bit annoying. But one must give credit where credit is due. I wasn't late.

All the kids stood at the door as I pulled out of the driveway in Hubby's little green Tracer, waving and blowing kisses. Baby stood there, too, her little mouth in a downward wail, mouthing the words, "Mama".

And these were the doors I walked through to my first class at 8:00 a.m. - Introduction to Psychology.

Luckily, I had found my classroom last week, so I didn't have to roam the halls like a freshman. Once there, I see the door is locked and there are students waiting.

They are all very young. I am, in fact, the mother of the group. Perhaps, even the grandmother.

We all stand quietly. I try to make eye contact, but everyone is obviously feeling nervous. A middle aged woman passes by, looking for a particular class. She passes us twice, with no one making the effort to help.

I can't stand it.

"Do you need some help?" I offer, in true motherly fashion. She looks relieved. I point her in the right direction and she heads off, while I return to the fragile silence there in the hall.

A handsome policeman comes to our rescue with keys in hand. He unlocks the door for us and we all choose a desk.

Me, being the over-eager suck-up I am, sit right on the front row. Everyone else? Against the wall.

The policeman sets his keys down on the folding table at the front of the class and says, "Okay, open up your textbooks to page 5."

Huh? A policeman is teaching us psychology? And then the bigger question... can I really concentrate on the subject with such a dashing young man teaching it?

He then breaks into laughter. "Just kidding. Your instructor is running a little late."


After he leaves, more silence. Then the three young, freshman boys in the back begin a conversation. I know they are freshman, because they are so...freshman. They are apparently friends. One of them takes a phone call from another mutual friend and informs one of the young men next to him that said friend advised him not to copy from them. That got a hearty laugh.

About five minutes after eight, a young blonde rushes in. She is tall and thin, with a tank top, cargo pants and flipflops. She is very pretty, and very happy the instructor hasn't yet arrived. She breathes a sigh of relief and plops down in the desk next to mine. She looks over and smiles.

As someone who loves to talk, especially to adults, I take this cue, because I am, at this point, starving for interaction. I mean, it's been all of half an hour since I really talked to anyone.

"Are you a freshman?" I ask. As it turns out, she is. Her name is Amy. She went to college four years ago right out of high school, but "didn't care about it then". We chat a bit and I find out she has a three-year-old daughter she is raising alone and works as a cocktail waitress at the casino.

The instructor arrives out of breath, coffee cup in hand. He is a small man, with good hair and lots of laugh lines.

A good sign.

He is practically vibrating with energy, and probably a bit too much caffeine.

Another good sign.

I decide I like him right away.

You know, I had this idea I might be distracted by thoughts of home, worrying about the kids, worrying about Hubby. But strangely enough, I wasn't. I was completely enthralled with this little man and his stories. I suddenly became very interested in Psychology and wanted to know more. Why do we do the things we do? How can I better understand people around me?

And only one, teeny, tiny, fleeting thought of home, that was quickly chased away by Dr. Dan's story of his cat, Bob, who threw up at 2:30 this morning.

The hour and a half flew by. Before I knew it, we were being dismissed.

Amy and I made a few rounds around campus, picking up various papers and parking permits. She asked me what I did. "Well, I'm a stay-at-home mom," I replied. "I wish I could be," she said wistfully. I looked into her hazel eyes, my heart sending up a silent plea for her, and said, "Maybe someday you will be."

She had to go to work and we parted ways.

I went on to the bookstore to buy books, where the nice, young man who helped me told me I had very pretty eyes. I throw that little tidbit in because...well, wouldn't you?

After buying books, cute pens and binders, I decided to head home for a little bit. And boy, what a welcome I received. Baby was the first, running as fast as she could to greet me, arms open wide. I picked her up as her little arms clasped around my neck. She held on tight, snuggling her head into my neck and softly patting my back.

And I thought, "This is why it is good for mommies to leave. How else could I experience the sweetness and joy of the reunion?"

Things at home were good, but not too good. Hubby was exhausted from working three back to back shifts over the weekend, averaging about four hours of sleep per night. I had an hour and a half before meeting a friend for lunch, so I offered to take the kids to do the grocery shopping and he could take a nap.

Ain't I a good, little wifey?

So, I packed them up in the minivan and we headed to the grocery store. On the way, the overcast day produced some sprinkles. Upon Brother's advisment, I take the umbrella into the store with us.

Thank God.

When we come out, the floodgates have opened and I have to make my way to the van with a grocery cart full of groceries and three children. Luckily we got a close parking space. Brother opens up the van door and quickly climbs in. Sister wants to splash in puddles and I have to get her in before Baby. I grab her arm and practically throw in her in while trying to balance this umbrella that is trying to carry me away like Mary Poppins leaving the young, English children. Since Baby spent the entire shopping trip trying to stand up and climb out of the seat in the cart, I figured she might stand up and reach out to me then, which would have been helpful since I was virtually single-handed.

But, no.

At that point in time she was perfectly content to sit, frozen like a statue, watching me try to keep us and all the bags of food dry.

Ever picked up a toddler with one hand? I'm here to tell you, it can be done. Especially when you are afraid your umbrella might act as a lightning rod.

I saved Hubby from a very exciting adventure. Take note, Sweetie. Next time, I won't be so nice.

After soggily delivering the children and groceries, I kissed them good-bye again and got back into the driver's seat of the Tracer. It was odd, going from the family vehicle, filled with car seats, and books on tape and nursery rhymes playing on the cassette player, to the little economy car, where the radio played Van Halan's "Hot For Teacher" and there are no toys rolling around on the floor. It was almost like going back and forth between alternate universes.

12:30 p.m.- Lunch with a friend, which actually turned into lunch with yet another friend, who happened to be there, too. I had French Onion soup, a turkey sandwich and an iced coffee.

And I didn't have to say, "Please sit down and be quiet" or "This is not a playground" once. Not even once.

I did mention I needed a bookbag, so we went shopping.

Just like that.

In the middle of the day.

With no children.

And at one point, I even wondered aloud, "What the heck am I doing?!"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Big Day

Well, tomorrow is the big day. Back to school...for me.

That's right. Tomorrow I go back to college for the first time in 13 years to finish my degree. And tomorrow is Hubby's first day as a stay-at-home dad.

Dum da dum dum.

Theoretically, Mondays will be my day to be away from the house for the entire day. I have class in the morning, and then will have the rest of the day to do homework, have lunch with a friend, walk in circles wondering what the heck I'm supposed to do with an entire day to myself, etc. So Hubby will be taking over the housework and homeschool duties on that day.

He sounds very confident.

He rattled off a list of things they were going to do tomorrow and told the kids to get to bed early. I mentioned I didn't go to the store and there might not be anything for lunch. "That's okay," he said casually. "I'll go to the store tomorrow."

He he he. Silly boy. He has no idea what adventures await him tomorrow.

Now if I come home tomorrow to find an immaculate house, happy children and a satisfied dad, I'm gonna be ticked. I expect utter chaos. Chaos, I say! And I'd better darn well get it, or heads are gonna roll.

Stay tuned folks. This is gonna be good.

*Editor's Note: I am most proud of my man and wish him the best of luck. I will only be a teeny bit disappointed if they all survive without me. Really. Honestly. I'm not kidding.

Tornado Alley

Can someone tell me how a tornado can literally come into your home and leave such chaos? Because that must be what happened here. No self-respecting person would allow their children to wreak this kind of havok. No parent of any intelligence or value would step over this on their way to the computer. I can't imagine any stay-at-home mom worth her salt would tolerate her home in such disarray.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Dancing Queen

There is a group of young women at my church who like to go line dancing.

They are very cute and very hip.

Some are single, some are married and some are even moms. But not your average, everyday mom.

They are very cute and very hip.

Oh, I said that already.

So you can imagine my surprise when they asked me to go with them. Me? You mean, I can do that?

I laughed. I could see me wearing my capris and Easy Spirit sneakers tearing up the dance floor with my "moves". I haven't been on a dance floor in 14 years. The only dancing I have done is bopping to the Wiggles in the safety of our living room.

Me. Go dancing. Yeah, right.

In a surprise twist, my husband was literally threatening me if I didn't go. His exact words, "You're going...or else." I argued that I didn't have a thing to wear. I was pretty sure they would turn me away in my mom clothes. And then he said the magic words. The words that are music to a woman's ears. The words that soothe the beast within.

"Go shopping."

Well, if you insist.

As I mentioned earlier this week, my shopping trip was a disaster. I came home virtually empty handed. But something kinda weird happened. I found myself actually wanting to go dancing.

I know. A very non-mom thing to do.

So, I gathered up my resolve and hit the local consignment shop, determined to find something to help me get my groove on. Now, don't panic. I shied away from tube tops and hot pants. But I came away with two very understated, slightly mom-ish shirts (hey, it's progress) and a very cute, yet very uncomfortable pair of black heels.

Perfect for dancing.

So, last night, I fixed my hair, I put on makeup, donned my heels and went dancing with the girls. And you'll never believe this...

...but I had fun.

I didn't drink. I didn't smoke. And I didn't dance with strange men. (And believe me, there was no shortage of them.) It was just us girls, out there being goofy, laughing at ourselves trying to learn the steps. Being loud. And being young.

That's right. I said YOUNG. Because we are. I am. Even though I forget sometimes.

Thank you to the girls who saw me through those eyes and asked me to come. You reminded me of someone I used to be and today I didn't wear my Easy Spirit shoes.

So, when are we going again?

*Blogger wouldn't let me uplaod the #!$%* pictures, so go here to check out the girls and my cute shoes.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Black Hole

I paid 50 cents for it at a garage sale. It is huge.

And it holds huge amounts of crap.

Exhibit A.

Exhibit B.

Since the box of crayons and the cup of Cheerios had spilled in the bottom, I figured it was time to clean it out.

For the record, I never carry toys in my purse. All of those toys and books were things my children decided they must take with them on a two minute trip to the grocery store, bank, etc. and they inevitability ended up in the Black Hole.

How does that happen?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Make Me Over

I'm no fashion plate. This may come as a surprise to you, but Paris Hilton doesn't call me to find out what's "in" for the coming season. That doesn't mean I don't know, it only means I won't be wearing it, whatever it is.

See, I can tell you what's fashionable on someone else, or on a twig-like mannequin, or hanging on a hanger in your local department store. I've got an eye for it...really. But when it comes down to wearing it on my person, the odds are more likely I'll be struck by the North Pole...riding a Mars.

This became glaringly apparent yesterday as I began the hunt for "non-mom clothes". I have a look. A "uniform", if you will. And it screams "mom". Actually, it screams "tired, run down, doesn't-have-time-to-comb-her-hair mom". It screams it and waves a bright, neon green banner. It yells it out in flashing neon lights on the jumbo-tron.

The problem is, in my mind, I should look something like this, but the reality is more like this. I love the new styles for the fall. The leggings, the skinny jeans, the Flashdance-esque shirts, stilletos and jeans. I would totally wear it all...if I were a twenty-year-old stick.

But I'm not.

I spent two hours at the mall yesterday looking for a miracle outfit that would instantly transform me from Supermom to Superbabe. Two hours. And what did I get?

A tank top.

To sleep in.

I think I must be out of practice.

I'm feeling desperate to lose the mom look. I want to leave the house with hair fixed and a killer outfit. I want to throw everything in my closet out and start over. I want to feel confident and beautiful instead of trying to blend into the shadows so as not to be noticed. I want to wear stilletos instead of sensible shoes.

So, all you fashionable ladies out there, give me some advice. Before I die of blunt style trauma to the head.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Bevy of Bows

Okay, a person can only make so many bows for two girls.

The lid on our bow box won't close. I mean, it will, but the bows will be smashed and squashed like pancakes. These are only the french clip bows. The alligator clip bows are hanging up.

Yes, I have a problem.

So, I've decided to take the plunge and open my own online bow business. I will keep you posted about where and when. I'm hoping to have it up and running by October.

These are my latest concoctions:

Actually, I noticed the picture of the brown and blue one is upside down, but you get the gist.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Politics As Usual

I know right away when a telemarketer calls my house. It's the last name. It trips 'em up every time.

So when What's His Face from the Blah Blah National Committee called to solicit money for his policital party today, the jig was up.

"Hello. May I speak to Mr. or Mrs. (fumbles for the right pronunciation)...."

I don't offer to save him. I simply sit and wait.

"...uh, how do you say it?"

" (Insert tricky, awkward to pronounce Czech name here.)"

"Oh! I'm so sorry. I'm terrible with names."

"That's okay." It's really not.

Then he goes into his speel about how important it is for his political party to win and how in order to do that, they need funding.

There it is. The magic word. Funding.

"Could we count on you for a contribution of just $75?"

"No. I'm sorry. I can't."

"Well, how about $50? And you wouldn't even have to pay today."

"No, I'm sorry. My husband is a student and we have small children. I really can't."

"(slight chuckle) Well, even I can afford $50, and I have two kids in college."

"Yes, but you probably make more than $9 an hour."

"No, ma'am. I'm a volunteer."

"Good for you. I'm not giving you money today. I'm sitting here because I can't afford to put gas in my car."

"Yes, the gas prices are impacting everyone. I'm just doing my job..."

"Look, genius. We are broke. Perhaps you would rather I give you $50 instead of pay my electric bill so my children and I can die from heat exhaustion in the 102 degree heat. Maybe I should give you $50 and feed my family with the can of green chilis sitting in my pantry and a boiled egg. I know you hear 'I can't afford it' all the time. It's a cute line people use to get you off the phone. But it is, in fact, my reality. And no, you are not 'just doing your job', you moronic low-life, you VOLUNTEERED to call and harass me for money!! I HAVEN'T HAD MY ROOTS DONE IN EIGHT WEEKS!!! If I had $50 to spare, I'd donate it to my hairdresser!! If you're lookin' for money, call the CEO of Exxon. I hear he had a GREAT year!!!!! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!"

Now, what I really said...


I like the fantasy version better.

Tiny Clothes

I cleaned my room today.

Don't faint.

I've fallen off the Flylady bandwagon with my room being dragged through the dust and dirt behind. Granted, it's not as bad as it could be, because Flylady has brainwashed me just enough to keep me from letting complete chaos set up residence again. And I feel convicted about setting the example for my kids.

Kids. Who knew they could act as built in self-control radars?

Anyway, for a couple of months I've been going through all of my baby things, seperating the very cherished from the lesser cherished and readying myself to part with them. It's been a somewhat sad process.

Okay. It's been an emotionally gut-wrenching process.

So while I was cleaning my room today, I found a plastic Target bag with a few of the very cherished items in it, waiting for me to file them in the cedar chest. It contained Brother's blue fleece teddy bear baby blanket, Sister's tiny, newborn bunny slippers and Baby's white cotten onesie with embroidered lady bugs. I lifted out the onesie, so soft and small. It was a newborn size and still looked pristine, as Baby, like every baby, didn't wear it long. I hugged it to me, pretending it still held that tiny, delicate creature and took a deep breath, feeling a little rush of nostalgia. Wishing it still had that sweet, baby smell. I rubbed it on my cheek and remembered the way it swallowed her at first. I couldn't find clothes small enough without resorting to preemies. She was so small and so alert and so utterly and unforgettably beautiful.

It is hard to leave those days behind. There is a part of me that longs to fill my house to the rafters with babies. But I know it is time to move on.

I folded it neatly and put it back in the bag with the others. I'll put it in the cedar chest another day. I can't close the lid on it today.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Calling All Homeschoolers

For any homeschoolers out there, this is an excellent bargain! The proceeds go to help this family pay to have a water well installed on their property, so it's for a good cause, too. However, it's only through August 8th. Check it out!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Dora the Baby Whisperer

"Recognizing the negative effects of television on children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children 2 years and older watch less than 2 hours of television per day and that children younger than 2 years watch no television."

That's all well and fine, but someone needs to explain this to Baby. She's recently made a new friend named Dora and I don't think she will give her up because she's under 2.

I didn't mean for this to happen. I mean, I knew what the AAP had to say on babies and TV. But Sister brought home a Dora DVD from the library and Baby, who had never shown an interest in TV before, was transfixed. It's not like I sat her down and said, "Here, Baby, sit in front of this big screen TV and stare at it like a brainless zombie until your brain turns to mush." After seeing it once, she began to ask for it.

Now she calls for Tico and Backpack. She even tries to say "calliente" at Dora's prompting. Heck, she practically has it memorized. She stands up right before Dora sings the "We Did It!" song, anticipating the music, then breaks out in dance, mimicing her spanish-speaking friend perfectly.

It's adorable.

So, tell me, you've just found a way to keep your toddler occupied for more than 30 seconds. What do you do?

You take advantage.

If she is whiney or extra obnoxious or throwing a fit, all I have to say is, "You wanna watch Dora?" Suddenly she forgets everything else and hotfoots it to the TV.

There goes my Mother of the Year award.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I Never Shower Alone

There was a time in my life if I wanted a shower, I took one. And I didn't have any company in there with me, unless they were invited. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

But that was another time. Another place. And today taking a shower is about as easy as performing brain surgery on a gnat. It requires so much planning and effort, I'd almost rather stink.

I said "almost".

I have been trying to take my showers at night, because morning around here is far from leisurely. I hit the ground running. And finding a good time to break and practice some hygiene can easily take a backseat to things like breakfast, chores and just your basic, run-of-the-mill craziness.

However, the evening is my "me" time. I usually blog, read blogs, make hairbows, blog, blog, watch TV and blog in that time. And I find myself enjoying that time so much, I never want it to end. It isn't unusual for me to look bleary-eyed at the clock and wonder why my head is bobbing only to find it is 1 a.m. And by that time, if I shower, I may fall asleep and drown.

This morning I could stand the smell of myself no longer. I had to shower. I was starting to draw flies. Brother and Sister were playing well together, so I put up the baby gates to keep Baby contained to the playrooom and the bathroom.

That was my first mistake.

When I got in the shower, Baby was amusing herself by terrorizing her siblings. I figured that would keep her busy for awhile.

That was my second mistake.

Brother and Sister soon figured out they could climb over the gates, leaving Baby in her own little prison while they played freely on the other side. Seeing they weren't interested in being terrorized, Baby decided to see what I was up to in the bathroom.

(insert foreboding, horror film music here)

She begins by pulling back the shower curtain - the fabric one, not the plastic liner - and yells, "Mama!" as if to say, "What the heck do you think you're doing in there without my permission?"

Okay, it's cute the first time.

"Hi, Punkin!" I say sweetly, with a smile. "I see you!" She laughs and closes the curtain. Then she yanks it open again with a grin. Obviously she interpreted my response as an invitation to play. "Go play with your blocks," I say, not quite as sweetly, but still smiling. She closes the curtain and toddles off.

Soon I hear the water in the bathroom sink running. I peek out to find Baby standing on the toilet, splashing joyfully in the water. "Get down!" I say. She is oblivious. I step out of the shower, dripping puddles on the floor, grab her arm and and put her down, giving her a little push toward the door.

Back in the shower, I hear arguing and then Sister yells, "Mo-m! Brother tried to hit me!" "Be kind to each other!" I yell back.

But wait, I'm not alone.

I discover Baby, who has taken my towel, wrapped it around her shoulders like a cape and appears to be leaving with it. "Hey, bring that back here!" I say. She turns and holds it out to me. "Dada!" "No, that's mine. Put it back, please." And she does.

You know that place on the toilet between the tank and the rim? Where the seat attaches with those screw-like things? That place little boys can't seem to miss? That place that always seems to be a little crusty?

That's where she put my towel.

"Thank you, honey."

Now I'm attempting to shave my legs, which is fascinating stuff to a curious 20-month-old. She has pulled the shower curtain back again, this time getting the plastic liner so water is spraying out onto the floor. With shaving gel all over my hands I grab the liner and pull it closed. If I don't get my legs shaved, someone is bound to mistake me for half grizzly and I'll end up on the cover of one of those tabloids you see at the supermarket checkout stand.

But Baby is determined to help. She opens the curtain again, but this time has my pajamas, which I left on the floor and is trying to throw them in with me. "No, no, honey. I don't need those right now," I try to explain. But she's sure they belong in there with me. Finally, I take them. "Thank you!" She flashes me a grin, satisfied she has fulfilled her duties and goes back to yelling at Brother and Sister over the baby gate. I toss the pajamas back to the floor.

Finally, I am able to finish the task at hand, with only a few knicks. I think I got it all. But at this point, who cares? Exfoliation? No way. Deep conditioning hair treatment? Get real. I got wet. I got a little soap on me. And I shaved my legs...or shaved at them, rather. At this stage in life, it's the most I can hope for.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Reaching In

I heard a radio ad for a church today.

Does that seem odd to anyone else but me?

Okay, ads for used car lots, Mexican restaurants, plumbers, lawyers and grocery stores...obviously, those are legit. But a church?!

So, you might ask yourself, "What does an ad for a church sound like?"
'Softest pews on the planet'?
'Holiest pastor'?

Well, you're not far off. This particular mega church touted "dynamic preaching and teaching" and "inspiring worship" as a way of "reaching out" to the city and the surrounding community.

Reaching out?

Sounds to me like reaching in.

Suppose I am a homeless begger, driven to life on the street by my addictions, or perhaps, just my circumstance. Or maybe I am a wealthy, suburban wife whose husband just left her for another woman. Or maybe I am a person who, on the outside, has it all together, but can't seem to find a way to fill a gnawing emptiness that is eating me alive. Suppose I don't know God or how He fits into this equation called "life" at all.

Am I looking for "dynamic preaching" and "inspiring worship"?

The people looking for that are consumeristic Christians, looking for a church that meets their needs. Because, after all, isn't that the point of church? To go and be "fed"? To have your "cup filled"?

Call me crazy, folks, but I'm thinking we've got this whole church thing backwards.

Is the begger better served by a Bible or a hot meal?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Saving Innocence

She is my dreamer, with an overactive imagination. She is the epitome of femininity and everything frilly. She loves animals, chocolate and rock and roll. She is (almost) always willing to share and is quite skilled at using charm to get what she wants.

She is the middle child. And the one most often looked over.

Before Baby came, I spent a few minutes every night in Sister's bed snuggling, singing and talking with her. Then along came this colicky newborn who demanded all my attention and those precious bedtime moments got lost in the shuffle.

I wonder sometimes if she remembers that.

Needless to say, I feel guilty. Brother gets a lot of one-on-one time because of school. Baby gets a lot because...well, because she's the baby. I never get it with Sister. And I miss it.

This morning Hubby took Baby and Brother with him to run some errands so Sister and I could have some time together. Just us. She wanted to go the candy store at the mall. So that's what we did. I bought her M&M Minis at 10 a.m. and let her eat every last one. We looked at books in the book store, candles and picture frames in the gift shop, toys in the toy store. Whatever her little heart desired.

Toward the end of our outing I noticed the 70% off sign at JC Penney's. And though she was very adament about not wanting to look at clothes (wonder how long that will last?), she was very sweet about letting me.

Ladies, I don't know about you. But for me, Happiness is the clearance rack at Penney's. I do my best to buy clothes out of season for the next year. Clearance? I'm there!!

I went directly to the toddler department, because that's what Sister is...a 4T.

But next year, she will wear a 5.

And this, my friends, is when the realization hit me like a ton of bricks. Size 5 is in the Girls Department. I won't be shopping for her in the Toddler Department anymore. She's moving up.

So, with much sadness and a bit of shock, I found myself browsing in the Girls Department. But where are the poofy dresses? Where are the frills and bows? These were all mini-women clothes. This cannot be. Why, oh why can't we keep our little girls little longer? I don't want her wearing a T-shirt that says, "I'm perfect, so stop staring." I don't want her wearing camisole tops and hip hugger jeans. I don't want her wearing running pants with words like "Cute" and "Angel" on the butt. I don't want her to look like a miniature version of the next big Teen Pop Princess.

I want her to look like a little girl. But more importantly, that is what she wants, too. She loves swirly, twirly dresses. And I will break out the sewing machine (as scary as that sounds) and sew her a wardrobe before I give in to Penney's and all the rest who say my girl needs to grow up.

I bought nothing. Instead we rode the glass elevator and I reveled in the magic of my beautiful baby girl and all that is pure and sacred about childhood. I cherish these days. I'll not waste a moment wishing them away.