Monday, July 30, 2007

Change Is Good?

A friend asked me the other day, "So, why did you decide to return to blogging?"

I can understand why she was curious to know. Especially since I had told her only a few weeks before that I might "never return to blogging".

It's a legitimate question.

So I tried to think of something smart to say that would make perfect sense and make me seem as though I knew exactly what I was doing. In the end, I had to give in to the truth.

I am flighty and indecisive.

Here's proof.

Remember earlier this year when I had this brilliant idea to move all three of my children into one room and make the spare room a playroom? And then I would turn their bedroom into a medieval castle?

Well, scratch that.

The girls have moved into the playroom and Brother has his own room again.

I don't know what I was thinking, putting two girls and a boy in the same room without any space for them to be alone.

Actually, I do know what I was thinking. I wanted to paint a medieval castle on the wall.

So, with Brother alone in the castle room, I had to rethink things. He certainly wasn't digging the princess on his wall. The easier, and perhaps smarter, solution would have been to just paint a knight over the princess and continue with the castle theme. But when have you ever known me to do things the easy way?

I had to repaint the whole thing, of course.

So, this morning, the top half of the wall is a nice football brown and the bottom half is sky blue. What's next?

Wait and see. It could be different tomorrow.

Friday, July 27, 2007

And the winner is...

Loni at My Little Blogging Home!

Congratulations, Loni, and thanks to everyone for participating. If you MUST HAVE the bow, visit my website,, where you find this bow on sale throughout the month of July. In August I will feature a new bow and this one goes back to regular price.

Thanks again!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I'm only kidding myself.

In an alternate universe, I scrapbooked. I filled three volumes within Brother's first year. Along came Sister and though I fell slightly behind, I still made time to get two volumes for her first year and two more for Brother.

Then we started homeschooling.

Then we added Baby #3.

Incidentally, Baby has two pages.

So a few weeks ago a friend, who also happens to be an avid scrapbooker, suggested we try to get me caught up before school starts. She began weaving this scenario - a beautiful lie, I know - and like a true junkie being faced with an old habit, I began to believe her.

I'm only four years behind. I can get caught up in a month. Totally.

She suggested we pick a day. I would get a sitter for my kids. She would take hers to daycare. We would rendezvous at her house - a veritable scrapbooking Mecca - and scrapbook.

Without kids.

All day.

I said, "SIGN ME UP!"

We set the date and I wrote it on my calendar. However, two doctor's appointments and four prescriptions came out of nowhere and my Scrapbook Day/Babysitting Fund was quickly depleted. I made plans to cancel.

But then, on a Sunday morning, three days before the Blessed Event, a young dad stood up and announced he was hosting a Mom's Day Out at his home.

On Wednesday.

The very day.

Free childcare.

I took it as a sign from above. A Holy Calling, in fact.

I must go.

So I went.

I spent the day - more like six hours - cutting, stamping, leafing through pictures, and shooting up the creative juices I thought I had long given up. She introduced me to new stuff, too. Stuff I'd never tried before.
Good stuff.
And before I knew it, I was sucked into the swirling vortex of scrapbooking again, giving myself over to the euphoria of creating pages of stickers and stamps and oh-so-adorable pictures. I got six pages done and told myself I could do this. I felt empowered...invincible.


That night I left my scrapbook supplies on the couch, because I was going to do more after the kids were in bed.
They were still there the next day.
And the next.
Finally I moved them to the middle of my bedroom floor, because I was totally going to do more.
It's been a week.
But I won't put them back in the closet. Because I'm going to do it. I will make more pages.
Really, I will.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

FBI or Mensa?

Yesterday morning I went to Sister and Baby's room to get shoes for my youngest. Lo and behold, all the shoes had been kidnapped from the closet! But a very brief search (just turned around, really) led me to the Barbie box, where all the shoes where standing at attention in nice, neat rows.

Good, little shoes.

Last night, while getting all the kiddie teeth brushed and ready for bed, I noticed Sister pulling out all the shoes from her pretend play stash and lining them up in the same neat rows.

Mystery solved.

This behavior from Sister is suddenly turning up everywhere. Sunday morning in church she arranged the crayons in a perfect sunburst pattern. Yesterday morning she spelled her name with dominos.

It's either creative genius or criminial mastermind.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It's A Freebie!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThis contest has ended, but go to to purchase a beautiful bow like the one you see here.

Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer is hosting a blog giveaway. (Yes, I know. She always has all the good ideas.) Problem is, I wasn't sure what I, the Bow Lady, who makes bows and has her own bow website and owns over 100 bows for her own girls could possibly give away. A book? A CD? After hours of agonizing contemplation and racking my brain, I finally I decided I would give away a bow.

Shocking, I know.

So, leave me a comment during the week of July 23 and on Friday, July 27, I will draw the lucky winner and ship them this lovely bow for free.

Yes, FREE!

So, leave a comment. Your little girl's hair doesn't like being naked anymore.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cleaning Is Overrated

This would be the glass on my storm door. I cleaned this glass today. For the first time in at least 6 months. I cleaned the sticky mouth marks and crayon scribbles from it. It was spotless. Crystal clear. As you can see it is no longer that way.

Wonder what happened? I greased up some kids with sunscreen and they made up a fun new game.

It's called "Stick Your Greasy Gut To The Glass And See The Cool Smudge It Makes On The Shiny Door".

Fun, huh?

This is reason 536 why cleaning is a waste of time.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Parenting In Absolutes

I before E, except after C...

It was a momentous day I realized my son could read, made even more amazing by the fact that I, without a teaching certificate or even a college degree, taught him. We started out simple, learning the letters by sight. Then we moved on to letter sounds, which became more complicated by the fact that some letters make more than one sound. And then we learned when paired together or put with certain letters in a particular word, those same letters make yet another sound. But then again, they could make a totally different sound for no good reason, defying all rules of phonics.

"But, Mom, why is the "i" in "kind" long when there's no "e" at the end?" And what about the word "wind"? You have to read the sentence and ascertain its context before you can know which way to pronounce it. Very tricky, indeed. Many words are not pronounced at all the way they are spelled phonetically and one has to learn them by sight and just know what the word is simply by the way it looks because...well, just because.

Where are the absolutes?

Sunday morning I had everyone ready for church, all set to leave right on time, without being rushed or panicked or snapping off their adorable little heads in the process. If any of you have tried to do this without the aid of a spouse (mine works all day on Sundays) you understand the miracle involved here. Brother has gone on out to the car and the girls and I are closing the front door behind us. Brother comes back up to me, breathless. "Mom, Tommy has lost his dog and he needs me to help him find it!"

"You can't now. We have to go to church." As soon as the words leave my mouth, something sounds a little off, but I'm concentrating on getting Baby down the front steps without dropping my armful of stuff.

"But, Mom, he's really worried and he needs someone to help him!"

"He's got sisters and a mom and dad. They can help him. Let's go." It just doesn't sound right. Am I telling him he can't help out a friend in need?

Brother is sounding desperate. "But they won't help him!"

I look up to find him walking off down the street, looking back at me to see if I'm going to stop him. He disobeyed me. He defied me. What am I going to do about it?

I'm going to let him follow his heart, that's what. Though there is a voice of reason telling me the most important thing for him to do is obey me at all costs, I can't bring myself to play the heavy when my boy willingly, even passionately, answers a call for help.

So often I look for the absolutes. Absolutes are easy. Do this and it will produce this result. But parenting isn't like that. No matter how many books are written, no matter how many doctors and talk show hosts give us the answers, there is no one right way.

How scary is that?

I get the girls in the car and drive down the road to pick up Brother. He sees me, comes over and opens the door. "You find the dog?" I ask.
"Naw," he answers, getting in. He turns to wave goodbye to Tommy, who is standing by the road, looking as though he's lost his best friend. Suddenly we see a shaggy black and white mutt come running out from behind the house, apparently lost in her own front yard. Tommy is reinflated and Brother closes the car door, smiling at the happy reunion.

"You know," I say, as we drive away. "I'm really proud of you for being so compassionate toward your friend. That was a nice thing you did."

"Yeah," he says. "Are we gonna be late?"


The answers to life's questions aren't written on the wall. So many times I don't know how to teach my children the important things. I'm perpetually terrified.

But this I know.

Love God. Love others.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Innocence Found

I have often wondered if Brother has an overabundance of testosterone flowing through his eight-year-old man-cub veins. He's a large boy. Larger than most boys his age. He has a very deep voice for a child and a voracious appetite for sports, fast cars and all things mega manly.

This morning we got out and ran a few errands, enjoying the air-conditioned car during the midsummer heat. We were on the highway that runs next to our neighborhood, which has been under construction for what seems like an eternity.

But it's good. I almost sank my car in one of the potholes last year.

So, we're toodling along, being good law-abiding citizens, driving the 55 mph suggested by the signs posted amid the orange cones and barrels.

Okay, it was more like 60, but you go with the flow of traffic, right?

When all of a sudden, a bright yellow Mustang goes shooting past us, going at least 80. Brother rises up out of his seat and lets out a "Whoa! A Mustang!" He settles back once the car is out of sight and says, "Wow, that was sweet! How fast you think that was? 70? 80?"

I sit in silence for a moment, thinking there is no way in this lifetime I can ever let him behind the wheel of a car. I know this is a teachable moment and any good parent would use it to point out the error of Mr. Mustang's deviant ways. However, I also know that he is a boy - a young man in the making - and to expect he will never ever want to drive a car very, very fast because it just isn't safe is a bit naive. So I deliver the speech about how the driver of that car wasn't being very smart speeding like that on the highway in a construction zone and that he put himself and everyone else, including us, in danger. And then I tell him it's perfectly okay to drive fast if you are on a race track.

Yes, I know. My brilliance is astounding. But what's a mother to do?

Later on that day we are going the opposite direction on the same highway taking one of Brother's friends home. He and his friend are reading billboards and commenting on the pictures. We come to a billboard for a casino featuring a lovely, buxom young lady in a bikini swimming in a pool, smiling sweetly at these two innocent, young boys riding in my car.

Brother chuckles. "Hey, look at that," he says in amazement to his friend.

My knuckles tighten on the steering wheel. This cannot be happening.

"Yeah," says his friend, smiling.

What the heck??!!!

"You see that?" Brother asks.

"Yeah," his friend says again.

I cannot believe my ears. These little boys, seven and eight, leering like grown men right in front of me. I know I should say or do something, but I'm completely caught off guard. I need a Daddy...stat! Their conversation continues.

"You know what that is, don't you?" Brother asks.

"Yeah." Oh, no, here it comes. "A swimming pool!" comes the innocent reply.

"Yeah, a deep one, too! You think that's nine feet?"

"Yeah, or maybe ten..."

"Think you could touch in that?"

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Grape Undertaking

Don’t let the big baby blues fool you. My five-year-old daughter has the face of an angel and the iron will of Stalin – a perfectly diabolical combination. This was never more evident than two weeks ago Monday, when I dared to lay down an ultimatum, and having prepped her the day before, she braced herself for the impact.

“Honey,” I said on Sunday, “You are going to have to start eating more fruits and vegetables.” Sister has never liked fruit from the beginning. Even as a baby, she made it clear applesauce and strained peaches were not for her, no matter how many times I offered. She will eat the occasional apple slice without the peel and sometimes part of a banana, but other than that, fruit does not pass her lips. And as I am prone to doing, I picked another new habit that was sure to make life better for us all that would, of course, start on Monday, the magical day of the week where dreams begin. “Tomorrow we are going to try some new foods,” I tried to pick something palatable to normal children. “starting with grapes.” Sister hates grapes, or so she says. Truth is, she’s never actually tasted one. She likes grape juice, grape jelly, grape popsicles and raisins. Grapes seemed like the reasonable choice.

I fully expected a rumble -- some whining at the very least. Instead there was only silence. “Honey, did you hear me?” I asked, not sure what to do with this reaction. She nodded. I took this to mean she understood my resolve and was choosing to quietly submit to my authority, knowing full well Mommy meant business, poor, simple fool that I am.

Along came Monday, soon followed by lunchtime when I asked my crew, “Who’s ready for lunch?” There came a rousing “ME!” from all three and I set to work preparing three lovely plates with half a turkey sandwich, baby carrots and grapes on each. They soon came running eagerly, Sister heading up the rear. While the other two clambered to the table, ready to dig in, Sister stopped short of the table when she saw her plate. “I didn’t ask for those,” she said, eyeing the grand total of three grapes I put next to her sandwich as if they might jump up and eat her.
“Yes, I know,” I answered, “but today you’re going to try them, remember?”
“Uh, I’m not hungry,” she said, almost convincingly.
“Oh,” I replied, not missing a beat. “Well, come sit down and eat your grapes and then you can be finished.”

And then came the whining. “I don’t waaaaaaaaant grapes. I don’t liiiiiiiiiiiiiike grapes. I haaaaaaaaate grapes.”


Tantrums I expect. Resistance I can handle. But that cold, calculated seemingly submissive silence is just a little too Children of the Corn, you know? I nonchalantly pointed out that there were only three grapes and went on about my business as if Sister had been eating grapes all along.

Then came the tears.

But I was not to be moved. Even though I knew all the child psychology experts would say it was wrong. Even though I knew forcing your children to eat certain foods would scar them for life. I was out to prove them all wrong. "Just eat those three and if you don't like them, I'll never ask you to eat them again," I said and went on pretending I was the Queen of Stoicism.

12:17 PM - Sister is crying at the table.

12:32 PM - Sister is still crying and asking to go lay down and take a nap. Brother and Baby have finished their food and I have the brilliant idea to offer them Pringles, Sister's absolute favorite, in an attempt to lure her into eating the grapes. "If you eat your grapes, I'll give you Pringles!" Bribery. Another big no-no. This makes her cry harder.

12:53 PM - Sister, still crying, is puffy and splotchy and can't breathe through her clogged up nose. I offer her a tissue and she asks again to lay down and take a nap. "Sure, honey. After you eat your grapes."

1:05 PM - I offer to cut up the grapes and let her use toothpicks to eat the tiny pieces, a fun alternative to eating a grape whole. She thinks this is a splendid idea and I oblige.

1:23 PM - The grapes sit untouched.

1:30 PM - The drama catches up to her and she takes a nap at the table.

1:34 PM - Hubby calls. I tell him the situation and ask him if he thinks I'm wrong. His answer: "You know what Dr. Phil says? Don't EVER enter into confrontation with your child. But if you do, never lose." Great. Another parenting infraction. Eye of the Tiger begins playing in the background. It's the point of no return.

2:16 PM - Sister awakes, refreshed, and ready for round two. She seems to think setting the timer will help her. I am skeptical, but set it for ten minutes.

2:36 PM - The timer beeps. At this point, I'm beginning to think we should all just cut grapes out of our diet completely. They must contain some kind of toxin only she can detect and perhaps she is right to not eat them. She picks up a toothpick with a tiny sliver of room temperature grape and brings it slowly to her lips. "Watch me, Mommy," she says and I feel a glimmer of hope. Slowly, slowly it nears her mouth. I hold my breath. She pulls the grape slice gingerly from the toothpick with her teeth.

I wait.

No gagging. No tiny grape particles flying across the room.

She chews.

Dare I believe what my eyes behold? Can it be?

Her little mouth screws slightly to the left. "Mmmmm, I LOVE grapes!"

Angels sing.

She chokes down the rest, none too quickly, trying the entire time to convince herself that grapes must be her favorite food. For days afterwards she declares to anyone who will listen that she does, indeed, LOVE grapes.

Has she eaten them since? Heck, no! And I'm not pushing it.

That would be wrong.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Horrific Discovery

Three weeks ago I bought coffee at the grocery store.

This morning I made a horrific discovery.

I've been drinking decaf.

That would explain the headaches and irritability.

So not funny.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Pre-Adolescent Pains

Once upon a time he wore white canvas sneakers with frogs and lizards and carried a bear made from drapery samples and mismatched buttons. Then he followed me anywhere, trusted my every word and told me in no uncertain terms where it hurt.

Now he's eight and I hardly remember that little boy.

He's moody, emotional and I struggle to maintain a connection. I can't find the balance between giving him liberty to be his own person and drawing those lines intended to protect him. I can't communicate truth to him. He doesn't believe me.

It was he and I against the world, my firstborn. At six months old he lay next to me, head on my shoulder, smiling as if there were no happier place for a boy than right there with his mom reading Paddington Bear and Stop That Ball. And then in that moment I knew I could do it right. I never dreamed there would come a day when we would spend so much time in conflict and I would feel so completely out of control.

He comes to me when I reach for him. He falls into my embrace, even wondering aloud sometimes why I can't carry him anymore, though he knows good and well. But I wonder often why I have failed to give him more security and if he will grow up to be honest, kind and happy. Or is he destined to always be angry and obstinate?

Is it every parent's dream to raise a child perfectly primed to fit into society's nice little niche? Does anyone else worry they're raising a misfit?

Can I turn him?

Should I?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Evils of Drinking

I'm a pretty straight-laced gal. I've never really been one to bend the rules. I've never toilet-papered someone's house. I have my kids in bed by 9:00 pm most every night. I eat my vegetables. I've never smoked a cigarette.

But Wednesday night, this good girl got a little crazy.

We'd been hanging out with some friends pretty much all day at our house - the kids and I and my friend, Mickey, her two kids and an extra she was sitting. Five-thirty snuck up on us and before I knew it, it was time for me to take Brother to swimming lessons. While rushing around trying to feed everyone, get their shoes on and find Brother's elusive swim trunks that I know I had just seen an hour earlier when I didn't need them, Mickey offers to take my girls to her house while I take Brother to his lesson.

Actually, truth be told, Baby said something to the tune of "I wanna go with you" to Mickey and she couldn't say no. And of course, if you take one girl, you gotta take them both. So, feeling a little guilty that my girls had suckered her into it, I reluctantly agree and tell Mickey I will come pick them up when we're finished.

As promised, Brother and I arrive at Mickey's around 7:20 only to find her just getting there herself after taking everyone to McDonald's and spoiling them senseless. I see my little girls hop out of the van and make a beeline for the house and I'm thinking if they go to Mickey's daughter's room - a veridable Dora shrine - I will never get them out. But alas, I cannot park the car fast enough and they are inside, shoes off, dragging out all the toys before I can protest. Brother follows suit and all the boys are magnetically drawn to the Playstation like drones in a hypnotic trance.

"Hey, guys, we need to get going," I say, but only half-heartedly, as I know my words might as well be bubbles blown to the wind. Mickey, who has spent the better part of the day with five kids, says, "I need a drink. Want one?" She's not listening to me either. She starts putting a Dora video on in the girls' room and I resign myself to the fact that I'm outnumbered and we are obviously staying.

"Nah, I'm fine."

She starts walking to the garage where they keep an extra fridge. I follow. "No, you HAVE to try one of these wine coolers."

Oh, that kind of drink.

She doesn't realize what kind of goody-goody she's asking. I had never even TASTED an alchoholic beverage until I took a tiny sip of champagne on my 27th birthday. Scout's honor. I've tried sips of a few other things before, but I just hate the taste. Everything tastes like cough syrup. Even when they say you can't taste the alchohol, I can taste the alcohol. And beer...I could never get it past my nose.

I giggle. "Hey, I have to drive my kids home."

"Well, don't drink the whole thing." She swings open the refrigerator door to reveal Gatorade, Hi-C juice boxes and Schmirnoff. "Green Apple or Raspberry?"

Aw, a sip won't hurt. Just like every other drink I've tried, I won't like it. "Green Apple." She hands me the chilled bottle, slippery with condensation.

We peek in on the kids who are busy demolishing the bedrooms and I continue to follow her upstairs to the gameroom. She turns on the Jimmy Buffet CD and racks up the balls on the pool table and turns to me with a grin. "If we can't go to the bar, we'll just pretend."

This is not something Supermom would ordinarily do. I mean, it's close to 8:00 and my kids aren't in bed and they need baths and Baby missed her nap and who will watch the kids?

But I'm feeling a little reckless, a little tired of the goody-goody act. And my friend is obviously needing some time with an adult. It's summer. I twist the top off my drink and take a gulp. "Hey!" I'm genuinly surprised. "This is really good!" Yikes. REALLY good.

We spend the next two hours playing pool (another first for me), drinking our fruity drinks (I drank the whole thing) and listening to Jimmy sing about margaritas, cheeseburgers and Mexico all the while wondering if I can really get away with this.

Supermom reinvented.

Even though I didn't even feel tipsy, I give myself a little time before hitting the road. Finally, I gather the kids and their leftover Happy Meals and we head home in the dark, way past bedtime. I'm toodling along, windows down, quite happy with my new grown up self. We are almost home, just around the corner from our house, and I see the lights.

That's right. Lights.

Lights of the flashing red and blue variety.

I'm getting stopped.

Now, I'm a rookie. I've never been drunk. Never even buzzed. But wouldn't I know if the drink I had much, much earlier in the evening affected me? Wouldn't I feel something? I wasn't weaving. I wasn't driving over curbs. Did the Stay-At-Home-Mom Gestapo catch wind of my actions this evening and rat me out to the cops?

I reach for my license and insurance verification, suddenly feeling as though I'm being punished for my sins and right now with no makeup and my hair pulled up and my tired, ragged girls in the backseat eating cold McDonald's cheeseburgers barefoot at 10 o' clock at night, I must seem the perfect candidate.

He shines his flashlight in my eyes. "Hello, ma'am, may I see your license and verification, please?" I have it ready and hand it to him, hoping he sees my preparedness as a sign that I'm not a drunken, neglectful parent. His flashlight beam skims over the kids faces, eyes wide and mouths agape, and he drops the stern cop mask for a split second to say hello in a more kid-friendly manner, as I suspect they were wondering if poor ole' ma was gonna be sent to the pokey.

He takes my information back to his car to check me out with dispatch and make sure I'm not a deranged criminal who has kidnapped three kids in a stolen car on a nationwide crime spree wanted in three states for murder and drug trafficing. Or, for all I know, to get the breathalizer. I swear, officer. I've never drank before in my life. I don't keep my kids out after bedtime. I don't feed them McDonald's for dinner on a regular basis. I'm a good mom, I promise.

Luckily, I check out and he issues me a written warning for going 33 in a 25.

As I am signing for my reprimand, he asks me the ages of my kids. I relax a bit, thinking he's being friendly...making small talk. He probably has kids, too. "Eight, five and two," I reply proudly.

Chatty, he is not.

"The five-year-old still needs to be in a booster," he says, in a voice that is a combination of Dudley DoRight and Batman. Authoratative. No nonsense. A tad condescending. "It's for her own safety."

"Okay," I answer, caught off guard that I'm still being corrected. I left the booster in Hubby's car. Bad mom.

"And how tall is he?" he asks, motioning to Brother who is in the passenger seat beside me.

I don't know. I really don't know. "Uh, I don't know." Is it worse to not know how tall your own child is or to pretend you do? "Uh...42 inches?" That's wrong. I know he's taller than that. But I know I heard that number sometime on one of our recent pediatrician visits. Could have been Sister's height. Could have been the number of times I had to tell Baby to leave the Doctor's instruments alone. It was the first number that popped into my head. Bad, bad mom.

"Well, he still needs to ride in the back." He makes eye contact. He is very serious. "Again, it's for his own safety."

Yes, officer. Perhaps you'd like to point out that my toddler's bangs are too long and are hanging in her eyes because she pulled her hairclip out. And maybe we should talk about how bad fast food is and that I'm putting my children at risk for heart disease and obesity by letting them eat it. Did you know my kids didn't get naps today AND they are out late tonight? I also yelled at my son earlier today and let them play in the mud last week. IT WAS ONE DRINK! GET OFF MY CASE!!!!

I nod politely and accept the bright yellow slip as he tells me to have a good night.

I pull around the corner and steer wearily into the drive. I get the kids in the house with no baths, no tooth brushing, barely even in their pajamas and put them to bed. Brother, in fact, slept in his clothes.

Just say no to wine coolers, kids. It only leads to trouble.