Thursday, November 30, 2006

Snow Day

This morning Sister came and woke me exclaiming it had snowed. And sure enough, it had.

Only here can it be 70 degrees one morning and 24 with snow and ice the next.


I had the best laid plans to be productive today. We were going to carry on just like any other day. Business as usual. The kids were asking to go out and play and like a real Grinch, I was being firm. "No. School and chores first."

Then those public school kids had to go and mess it all up.

We had just barely made the beds and hadn't even sat down to do our lessons when the knock came at the door.

(Actually, due to the Christmas music we had blaring, it was more of a very loud, obnoxious pounding.)

Since the schools were out for the weather, the little neighbor boy down the street wanted Brother to come out and play in the snow.

What's a mom to do? I mean, it's one thing for your own kids to know how mean and hateful you can be. But it's clearly another for all the neighbor kids to know.

So I caved. And we declared it a Snow Day.

I bundled up the kids, which was an adventure in itself since I have yet to buy a winter coat and mittens for Sister. We layered jeans and a sweater over pajamas. We borrowed Brother's superhero knit cap and put socks on her hands. She didn't mind a bit.

The rest of the day was spent alternating inside and out. Playing in the snow a bit. Coming inside to warm up and dry off. Then back out to play. At one point we baked gingerbread cookies and had a tea party with Sister's ceramic tea set. Another time we snuggled under blankets on the couch and watched a video (while Mom caught a little cat nap).

No school. No chores.

Yet hardly unproductive.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Potty Talk

Sister is a very prissy girl. You may never come across a little girl more frilly, more poofy or more pink on the face of the planet. She loves dresses, jewels and tea parties. She is always kind to animals and prides herself on carrying her four-year-old self with grace and genteelity. Not only does she look the part of the perfectly prim princess, but she also has the sweet, bell-like voice to compliment the exterior.

However, Sister has recently developed a rather interesting little quirk.

She loves the word "poop".

Now, instead of trying to find ways to work her new favorite word into conversations using the correct context, she just inserts it randomly wherever she sees fit. For instance, when I ask her if she would like turkey or ham on her sandwich, she replies, "Poop and cheese, please," and then dissolves into adorable belly laughs, obviously very proud of her clever take on words.

At first, I reprimanded her, as any mother afraid of being embarrassed in public would do. "Sister, that isn't polite." But my obvious horror and disgust only served to spur her on.

While watching Dora the Explorer, she decided to invent her own dialect of Spanish, changing the words ever so slightly:

"Encada. That means POOP!"

Then she changed the lyrics to one of Dora's songs:

"Eisa turn the poop, turn the poop, Eisa."

So I tried a new strategy. When she used her fun little word, I simply ignored it. I didn't react in the least. And then I had a conversation with her about what we can say when it's just us at home and what we can say in public.

Did it work?

Well, she hasn't screamed it in Wal-Mart yet. But she still likes to throw it around now and then. Last night I tucked her in and turned to leave the room when I heard a soft, sweet voice in the semi, night-light-infused, darkness.

"I love you poopy Mommy." (snicker, snicker)

Well, you have to admit. That was pretty darn cute.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Martha Stewart I ain't.

But this time of year brings out the Martha in me.

So when Mom asked me to bring green bean casserole and a dessert to Thanksgiving dinner, my inner Martha stepped in and took charge. Her list looked like this:

Green Bean Casserole

Pumpkin Pound Cake w/Walnut Sauce

Apple Crisp

Homemade Bread

Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese

Cranberry Chutney

Spinach Dip

Apple Pie

So much for casserole and a dessert.

I jumped in with both feet this afternoon, spending about eight hours in the kitchen, peeling, mixing and chopping. Brother played football with the boys down the street. Sister was beside me in the kitchen, learning to knead and making a little concotion of her own, and Baby...well, Baby was doing what she does best. Finding trouble.

So, how did it all turn out? Well, I forgot two key ingredients for the Spinach Dip, so it never materialized. The Apple Crisp had to be crossed off. My bread didn't all. And the edges of my pies got a little dark. Far from perfect.

But what fun.

Tonight it feels good to sit and rest my weary feet. The house smells of warm butter, yeast and sticky, sweet cinnamon. And it's all wonderfully satisfying. Tomorrow we will gather around the table with family, who is also far from perfect, and feast.

Imperfection is good. It means we have reason to keep trying. And trying means another chance to enjoy the process.

Enjoy the process this holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Give In To Giving

In a society where people are getting shot over a video game, this story moved me.

About six years ago, when Brother was a baby, I had been talking to Hubby about installing a dishwasher in our kitchen. It was an old house, and didn't come with one. We had done some research and had decided we could get one for about $100 and install it ourselves. We waited for Christmas, when we knew we would probably get money from our parents.

About two weeks before Christmas, I went to check the mail and found an envelope addressed to us and from us, though I knew I didn't send it. With trembling fingers I opened it to find $200 in American Express gift checks and a note attached:

"To buy appliances"

No signature. No clue as to who sent it.

I cried.

And I still get misty when I think of it. I think of them every time I wash dishes in my beautiful dishwasher. I hope in some way they know how very much it means.

I still don't know who sent it, but whoever it was, touched our lives in a very powerful way. Too often we give with expectation. Christmas is literally steeped in this tradition. But what happens when we give without reciprocation...without recognition?

Let this inspire you...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hindsight smells so good this morning.

After having a record-breaking nearly eight hours of sleep last night, I am feeling a little silly for allowing myself to get so worked up at my classmate.

Can I blame sleep deprivation?

In retrospect, I don't believe he was trying to be mean or petty. I think he was only trying to joke and have a little fun with me. I may, in fact, have to issue an apology to him. I think he probably felt bad, too.

The reality is, I love school. I don't see it as a drudgery, although sometimes I really hate having to roll out of bed so early to study. It may honestly be easier for me. Not because I'm so great and wonderful or super intelligent, but because I enjoy it. He is probably not in the same place.

I really don't want to whine about it, because this is a great time in my life. If I had to drop out of school tomorrow, I would be devastated.

Funny how coffee suddenly makes everything crystal clear.

And stains your teeth. But I still drink it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Music Therapy

I have about a 20-25 minute drive home from class on Monday nights. I enjoy this time. I usually find something good on the radio and crank it. Then I sing and bop around the car like a complete buffoon.

I call it Music Therapy.

Tonight, after getting all riled up at Mr. Whiney Government Man, I was in the mood for Angry Girl Music.

You know...Kelly.

I flipped through all the stations, thinking surely something could help me purge the Angry Girl.


Bon Jovi.


Rod Stewart.

I love all this on a normal day. On a normal day it would make for a great therapy session. But tonight it wasn't scratching the itch.

I keep flipping.

I land upon a lovely musical selection played with a dulcimar.

This only fuels Angry Girl.


Dear Santa,
For Christmas I would like a CD player for my car so I can listen to Kelly whenever my Angry Girl so desires.

So, feeling angry? Join me in some music therapy. Bang your head and scream the lyrics. If you do it right, you will feel better. If not, kick the cat.

Die Another Day

I have never, ever, in my entire life been in an actual, physical fist fight with anyone.

Well, there was that incident in second grade where I bloodied Randy C.'s nose, but that wasn't really my fault. I mean, I told him to leave me alone.

However, tonight I came as close as I ever have been to clocking Mr. Whiney Government Man.

As I entered the classroom tonight, these were his completely ignorant, devoid of thought or common sense comments to me:

"Hey, I've got my grocery list with me! If you've got time to make a 94 on a test, you've got time to run to the store for me!" (insert insipid chortling here)

I'm a nice person.

I can take teasing.

But this...this made my blood boil.

On the outside, one would observe a quiet demeanor and a coy smile as I calmly took my seat, never raising my eyes to look at him because in actuality they might shoot real honest-to-God flames and incinerate his juvenile, condescending ass.*

Inside I was screaming and throwing desks. I was grabbing him by the throat. I was...well, it wasn't pretty.


I manage to take a deep breath, unclench my fists and repress the twitch I feet in my left eye. This man needs a lesson in decorum and couth. I use this opportunity to tell him, in no uncertain terms, exactly with whom he is dealing.

"Well," I sigh, and say with a smile, "let me just give you the low down. I have three children. I homeschool. I own my own business. And I am taking 12 freaking hours. I don't have the time. I MAKE the time." And I give my desk a whack, just for emphasis.


Hmph. No response.


I sit through the rest of the class, trying desperately to focus on what the instructor is saying, but I'm livid. I am even more embarrassed when the instructor asks me a question and I have no reply because though my eyes have been on him, I didn't hear a word of what he said.

I feel my ears turn red.

When class is dismissed, I walk by Whiney Man's desk, not about to look his direction.

"See you next week!" he says cheerfully.

I keep walking.


I turn.

"Good job, girl. I'm proud of you."

That's all I needed. I am validated. Whiney Man gets to live another week.

Lucky for him.

*Those of you who know me personally may be surprised, perhaps even offended, by my use of profanity. It is not something you are likely to ever hear from my lips. And you have never seen me write it here. However, I do sometimes curse in my head and this situation was absolutely curse-worthy. I figure if I think it, it must be okay to write it. So either I am growing up or spiraling downward into a dark, sinister black hole of evil. Maybe both.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Why, why oh why do my children bicker nonstop 24/7? Why? If anyone has this secret, I will pay you big bucks for it.

Okay, I'll pay you $1.50 for it. Cold, hard cash.


The Accidental Hospital Tour

My friend had a baby Tuesday.

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, this seems so commonplace. So normal. But I am here to tell you, there is absolutely nothing commonplace about it. Babies are nothing short of miraculous.

I stopped by the hospital on my way home from class Wednesday morning. As I was entering from the third floor of the parking garage, two women came out. One of them looked up at me with tears running down her face and then looked back down at the ground while the other put her arm about her shoulders and whispered something in her ear. Once inside the doors, a larger group of people, perhaps somehow related to the two women, were crying and comforting each other.

They had obviously received some bad news.

And I walked past, unaffected by their suffering. It struck me for a moment how close I was to their pain. How I could almost reach out and touch it, but my life would not be altered by it. And it seemed odd that I could be happy and excited while they were grieving...odd and not quite fair.

I looked around a bit and found a volunteer working at a desk and asked her where the maternity ward was. She directed me to the sixth floor. I loaded the elevator and pressed 6. A surgeon walked in behind me, wearing a very glum and not at all friendly expression. Then we were joined by a lady on a gurney and her attendant. This young man looked very young. Like barely-out-of-high-school young. And he kept looking over at me, which made me somewhat uneasy.

We arrived at the sixth floor and everyone filed out, including me. The young man asked me, "Can I help you find something?" He has a slight accent. Australian, maybe?

"Yes, I'm looking for Maternity," I answered, wondering if I had the correct term. I've only had three babies. I should know this information.

His quizzical expression fades to a knowing smile. "Oh, you're on the wrong sixth floor." There's more than one? "This is surgery." No wonder he kept looking at me funny. "Go back down to five, then cross the bridge to the north wing. Then go back up to six."


Back to the elevator.

I follow his instructions and find, what I believe to be the elevators in the north wing. It dings and I go on alone up to six. It's a short ride. The doors open and I am quite surprised to find the floor completely demolished. Power tools are whining and men in hard hats are all over. I step off, not quite sure if I should or not. One of the hard hats comes to my rescue and immediately sends me back down to five. Apparently the north wing is a little further north.

Back to five, heading northward.

This time, I think I've got it.

A young mother arrives at the same time I do, pushing her toddler girl in a stroller. She turns to reveal a very pregnant tummy. The little girl is adorable. And I fight the urge to hand her a business card and tell her how sweet her girl would look in a bow. Instead I smile at her and ask how old the toddler is. Turns out she is turning two just a couple of weeks after my Baby. The mommy is having her new baby the following week and is there to tour the facility.

I feel a pang of envy. Just a little one.

I love babies.

So, I must be heading the right direction, given the pregnant mommy is going the same way...right?


After arriving, again, on the sixth floor, a nurse directs me to the ninth floor.

All I want to do is visit my friend and her new baby. Does ANYONE know where they keep the babies in this friggin' place?! I mean, they do still have them here, don't they?

After meandering around the hospital for about half an hour, I finally make it to the right place.

I'd better get to hold that baby.

The new dad greets me looking tired but very happy. I find my friend with the lactation consultant, learning to feed her precious baby boy.

And I tear up.

I just can't help it. Newborns make me cry.

He is so incredibly small. And so breathtakingly beautiful. And I can't believe mine were ever that tiny. If they were, it was only for about two seconds. It must have been.

When I finally get to hold him, I feel that pang again. You know, that envy thing. I am absolutely happy for my friend. Ecstatic. But sometimes I'd like to go back and relive that magical moment when you meet your baby for the first time. To go to that sacred place when a new life makes its entrance into the world. To stay in those sweet, tender, brand new moments for a little while longer.


He's exquisite. I cradle his tiny head in my hands and nuzzle his downy hair. He is perfectly still in my arms and seems to be completely aware of everything going on around him.

My maternal instinct is in hyperdrive. Seriously. My friend should consider herself lucky I didn't take the baby and run.

Instead I give him back to his rightful mommy, who is already hopelessly in love with him, and make my way home to my own babies, who are sure to get some extra snuggling when I get there.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

To the Whiney Man Who Is In My Government Class:

I realize you have been through a very difficult time. Losing your wife to cancer had to be devastating. For this, my heart goes out to you. If ever you want to talk about this, I am all ears. You have my complete sympathy.

However, should you ever comment about my grades again, I may have to, in all reality, take you down and slug the living daylights out of you.

It is quite possible your job keeps you so busy you can't find the time to study. I am sure taking 6 credit hours is draining for a single man whose children are grown. There are probably many extenuating circumstances of which I am unaware that prevent you from doing what is required.

But, please, please do not make comments that make it sound as though I am a lady of leisure who can pull off an "A" with the flick of my wrist. Do not make it seem as though you could do better if you had "the time" I do. I will pretend your attitude does not insinuate that because I do not have a "job" I have an abundance of free time to dedicate to my studies. For you are, in fact, ignorant of my schedule and know nothing of my life. It is that, and only that, that keeps me from tearing your arm from your body and beating your balding head with it.

I will not mention that I often get up at 5:30 a.m. to have quiet time to study. I will not tell you I did 10 loads of laundry on Saturday. Nor will I bore you with the details of the three and a half hours I did find between watching soaps and eating bon-bons to study for the test of which you speak.

I got a 94. And I worked for every friggin' point. Do NOT make light of that.

Next time you feel so inclined to comment on my grade, a simple "Good Job" will suffice. If you know what's good for you, you should probably include a superficial compliment or ask me if I've lost weight. Until then, I must seriously consider moving to a desk across the room from you and away from your whiney attitude.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It Was A Good Year

So last night, while doing my annual "Rummage-Through-the-Kids'-Halloween-Candy-After-They-Go-To-Bed" ritual, I made a delightful discovery.

Mmmmmm...lots of good stuff.

To all my neighbors out there who opted for chocolate this Halloween instead of the old standbys of Skittles, Dum-Dums and Starlight Mints, especially Ms. Cindy across the street who gave us full sized Hershey bars, I thank you.

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.