Friday, September 28, 2007

Girls Night Out

"Mommy, will you play with me?"
My oldest daughter, the very undemanding child who knows how to entertain herself, asks me this at least a dozen times a day. The problem is, I don't say "yes" very often. Not because I don't want to (although, if I'm being honest, sometimes I don't want to), it just seems like there is never time. When I'm not doing homework, there's all those annoying chores.
And then there's that thing where you go to bed and close your eyes and lie very still. What is it called? Sleep?
Ugh. I never wanted to be one of those moms.
I fear she is suffering from the proverbial "Middle Child Syndrome" and I am suffering from "Chronic Maternal Guilt".
Not just guilt, but I truly want to be with her and do fun "girl" things.
So I planned a night for us, no boys or toddlers allowed. No interruptions. No "can you wait just one minute?" Just she and I. Full, undivided attention. We called it "Mommy/Daughter Date".
I secretly bought tickets to Disney on Ice's "Princess Wishes" and - hard as it was - kept it a secret.
Although Hubby let the cat out of the bag the day of, it all still worked out nicely.
She picked the restaurant for dinner, which was, lucky for me, Carrabba's, and not McDonald's.
Look at her. Is she not the sweetest thing ever?!
And just let me say (Kyle, you would be proud) the staff was so very friendly and attentive to her. They treated her like a young lady and made us feel very special. We felt as though we were the most important people in the room.
After dinner we headed to the show. She requested Van Halen and we listened to "Jump", bopping around the van and singing at the top of our lungs. Then we played a rhyming game, at which, incidentally, she is very good. She rhymed "canteloupe" and "antelope".
Am I being ridiculously biased, or is that a great rhyme?
And then we arrived (after 45 minutes of looking for a parking spot). She literally had me by the hand, dragging me as fast as her legs could go.
We were NOT disappointed. It was a spectacular show. At one point, the dragon from Sleeping Beauty actually breathed fire onto the ice and THE ICE WAS ON FIRE.
But the best part? My little girl was constantly hugging me and holding my hand. If I took my arm from around her to take a picture, she quickly put it back. I didn't have to stop to change a diaper or unload the dishwasher. I didn't have to think about anything but her.
On the way home I told her how much fun I had just being with her. And she said, "We should do this more often."
I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday

Got bows?

Since I have two girls (and a serious addiction to making bows) we have...a few.

Okay, 114. But who's counting?

While I realize most people probably don't have quite that many, this is still a good idea for storing them.

I painted a picture frame, without the glass or the back, and attached strips of ribbon (which you can't see in the picture) with a heavy duty stapler. I clip the bows to ribbon and VOILE! A handy bow holder. Then hang it on your wall and it also serves as frilly, girly wall art.

Of course it will probably only hold 25-30 bows. Ahem. Which is probably just right for normal, rational people.


It's official.

I'm old.

Today Hubby and I have been married fifteen years. FIFTEEN YEARS???!!!!! It can't be.

Fifteen years ago today I was a child. A month away from 19 years old. And I got married.

Luckily, to the world's most patient man.

Fifteen years and I have no gift. I've racked my brain for months, but how do I buy a gift for fifteen years? What do you give someone who has devoted fifteen years of their life to you?

A sweater?

Fifteen years ago I went shopping with my aunt, who was celebrating her own wedding anniversary. It was their twenty-third. We went to Hallmark and bought a card. That's it. And I remember her saying, "When you've been married as long as we have, it's just another day." That was a horrific thing to say to a newlywed.

Perhaps that's what happens when you've been married twenty-three years. But for me, today, it is NOT just another day. In a society where marriages are made and broken like cheap toys on an assembly line in China, I recognize the significance of another year we have kept our promise.

And we still like each other.

Actually, it's LU-UV. I love him now more than ever. Love in a way I never knew existed.

Do I need a gift? Nothing seems appropriate.

Unless I could find a 1963 Chevy Impala like the one he sold nine years ago so we could buy our house. For free. Anybody have one of those lying around?

Well, maybe this is one of those instances where the thought really does count.

The odds were against us. This could have been a disaster. At times, it nearly was.

But here we are.

And here we'll be for another fifteen...and more.

Happy Anniversary, Honey. Here's the rest of my life.

Sorry it's not wrapped.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

You'll be happy to know The Very Hungry Caterpillar is alive and well. We caught him Thursday.

Have you ever seen anything like it??!!

Baby brought it to me, proud as punch and oh, so fascinated. Of course, I have to admit. I was pretty fascinated, too. It was HUGE.

And all I could think was, "Please don't squeeze it. Please don't squeeze it."

Can you imagine the mess that monster would make?

But she released him onto the trunk of a tree, where he went on to eat his way through one apple, two pears, three plums, four strawberries, five oranges and various junk foods.

After that he probably made some hungry bird very happy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bedtime. Bah Humbug.

I'm going to buy my children new beds.

Hospital beds. With restraints.

Wonder if they make those in bunk beds?

Bedtime is going to be the death of me. Or them.

I have this idea that bedtime should be a time to unwind. A calm relaxing time, where everyone speaks in hushed tones and we read soothing stories and snuggle then everyone shuffles sleepily to their respective beds, where I kiss them, tell them I love them and drift peacefully off to sleep.

Instead bedtime is this:
"Brother, get dressed for bed. Sister, brush your teeth. Baby, bring Mommy a diaper. Sister, did you take your medicine? Brother, get dressed for bed. Brush your teeth. Get dressed. Diaper. Teeth. Dressed. NOW. BRUSH YOUR TEETH. DID YOU HEAR ME??!! I SAID GET DRESSED!!! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY IT??!! WHERE'S THE DIAPER???!!! NO STORY!!! NO KISSES!!! GO TO BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDD!!!!"

Then once they are finally in bed, Baby gets up at least a gajillion trillion times telling me she has a dirty diaper (she doesn't) or her Dora doll needs to be dressed (she doesn't) or the sky is falling (it isn't).

Please tell me your bedtime looks like this, too.

And tell me this - Why do my children bicker and/or ignore each other all day and suddenly, between baths and bed they are bosom buddies, frolicking and hanging from the ceiling together as if it were the most natural thing for them to be enjoying one another's company so completely?

Bedtime? What is that? Look, Mommy Dear! We love each other! We are adorable! You can't possibly think about bedtime now!

Uh, yeah. Watch me.

So, the beds. I'm thinkin' it's the best idea I've had all year.

And if the restraints don't work on the kids. I'll use them.

To hang myself.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Braggin' A Bit

Everybody thinks their children are beautiful. And I am no different.
But seriously, look at these pictures!
A friend of mine took these while the kids played at the park last week. He gave me a CD with about 80 gorgeous pictures. Wish you could see them all.
Thanks, Chad. You are a very gifted artist.
And of course, the subject matter isn't bad either.

A Story In The Making

Sunday in church the conversation centered around stories. Everybody has one. Everybody came from one. Everybody is still writing their own. Unfortunately, nobody gets to pick the story from which they came.

And then we were all asked to think about our own story.

Easier said than done.

I've been trying to get away from those beginning chapters and pretend my story starts in the middle. If I reread the beginning and bring it all to light, then there is some responsibility on my part to deal with it.

And I don't want to deal with it.

I'd rather be silly, crack jokes and hide behind humor and sarcasm, because then it will look as though I'm really okay.

But I wasn't in that room by accident on Sunday and I'm just going to say, I'm not okay.

My dad was not an affectionate man. He was gruff and abrupt. That's not to say he wasn't a nice guy. He could be very funny and approachable with most people. Just not with his children. He was critical, and found it difficult to say the encouraging, even the loving words. My entire life I wrestled with feeling valued and loved by him. This is not to say that he never had his moments. I do have a few very precious memories, but they are so small in comparison to the overall feeling that my father just doesn't have any desire to have a relationship with me.

The most recent blow came when the kids and I made a trip to see he and my mom one weekend. He holds his arms out wide to my children and is so happy to see them. And truly, whatever he lacked as a father, he makes up for as a grandfather. But when I tried to hug him he never even responded. His arms hung at his sides. And no matter how I try to rationalize or deny it, it hurt like hell.

Why am I blogging about this for the whole world to see? I've struggled with it all week. I've gone back and forth about posting it. It seems weak and whiney. But it is chasing me. Maybe this is the first step to turning and facing it. My dad crippled me in some ways. I don't hate him for it. I don't even blame him for it. But all I want in life at this moment is to move past it and have some resolution and to stop feeling like that needy little girl waiting for him to notice.

That's my story, in a nutshell.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monkey See, Monkey Do

I was just giving my girls a bath and gave them the neato little plastic measuring medicine spoons full of their allergy medicine, as allergy season is wreaking havoc upon us all. The medicine is a funky purple/gray color, but must taste yummy because they get all excited when I get it out. So I give Sister hers first and she downs it, leaving a little smudge of purple/gray schmootz on the tip of her adorable turned up nose.

Next Baby takes hers and follows suit. Just as she finishes, she glances over and sees Sister's nose. She then takes the spoon and rubs it on the tip of her nose.

Then she hands it to me.

All done.

The Non-Monday Blues

It's not Monday, but it sure feels like it.

We play this really fun game in our family. It's called Automobile Russian Roulette. Because we are students living on one income, we are not in the position to make car payments. Instead, we buy and sell used vehicles every few months in the hopes that we will one day end up with a keeper.

Oh so fun.


Just last week we traveled a couple of hundred miles to get a Honda Odyssey. A really sweet deal.

Love it.

However, Friday night on our way home from a birthday party, the wheel bearing broke. And we had to have it towed to our mechanic, who was, of course, closed for the holiday weekend. So we left it there for them to discover this morning and, hopefully, repair today.

So we are down to one car. One very old, very large Lincoln Town car, belonging to my husband. It is like steering an ocean liner. Had it not belonged to his father, it would have been long gone, but we keep resuscitating the poor beast. Joy of joys, I get to drive it to school today.

Allow me to switch gears and tell you about my Tuesday and Thursday morning ritual. I meet a couple of friends for coffee at 8 a.m.-ish and we chat until I have to leave for class at 9 to get there at 9:30. It's a very short little burst of socializing to get me through till my next fix. Not to mention the butt-kicking caffeine shot.

This morning I'm feeling way behind and dog-tired and my head is heavy and allergy-laden. I have so much homework and I only got about 3/4 of the way through it. My Brit Lit assignment was reading "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight", translated from the Old English, but still pretty wordy and quite long at 50-some pages. I have about 14 left to go.

Now, I actually like Sir Gawain and have enjoyed the story itself immensely. But that nagging little troll called Time has been elbowing me in the ribs and reminding me I will never get through it in time for class, not to mention the mind-numbing, excruciatingly painful Algebra homework weighing on me like a ton of bricks. And, oh yeah, those other two classes I'm taking.

But that's another post altogether.

I'm really very sad that I haven't finished Sir Gawain. I sincerely want to and I feel cheated.

I get to my coffee appointment around 10 after 8, and I'm grumbling about those precious 10 minutes I lose with my homies, but glad to sit and chat with them and a cup of super strong coffee and pretend like I'm going to read 14 pages of Old English poetry in the next 50 minutes.

I have about 20 minutes left of my morning solace when I realize my husband has been trying call me and I've missed him. 3 times. I call him back only to find he has forgotten to leave the key for the mechanic and needs me to take it by.

Right then.

I have to leave my friends and my cup half full and drive all the way back to the mechanic's shop which is by my house about 10 minutes away, the opposite direction of my class. However, I should have just enough time.

But I'm not happy.

So, off I go, to be a responsible adult and do what has to be done, begrudgingly, all the while trying to cheer myself up by telling myself what a good wife I was for not whining and complaining to my husband or berating him for forgetting the key, even though I really wanted to. I arrive to find two other men waiting in front of the shop for them to open. One is a very friendly, little elderly man, who greets me with a warm "Good Morning!" I return it and think to myself how very sweet he is and how he actually made me feel better with his smile. I place the Honda keys in the key drop and head back to the Beast.

I get in.

I turn the key.

The Beast is dead.

This can not be happening.

I try again.


I remember that we had a little problem like this earlier and my husband showed me a neat little trick under the hood to rectify it. I pop the hood and try the trick.

It doesn't work.

The sweet, little man comes to me to try to help, but he cannot. I call my husband and tell him the good news, even though I know he can't do anything because he his home with the kids, without a car. But I need him to be the voice of reason before I have a nervous breakdown right there in the parking lot and ruin this sweet, little man's day.

He walks me through a couple of other tricks, but alas, nothing works. He talks to me calmly and helps me understand that being late to class in this case is not equivalent to murder and it will not throw the universe into a catastrophic state of supernova proportions.

I am frantically searching my book bag for my syllabus with my instructor's number to alert her to my situation. I do not want to be lumped in with the slackers who can't drag their hungover selves out of bed for class.

I know this would not be the case, but one must remember I am not thinking rationally.

Just in the nick of time, Ward, our mechanic, saunters up to unlock and sweet, little elderly gentlemen tells him of my situation and he comes over to take a look.

He uses that trick. You know, the one I tried?

And it works.

Apparently I needed the car in park, not neutral, in order to perform the trick successfully.

I thank him and my elderly friend quickly, but sincerely, and speed away to try and make the half hour trek in 18 minutes.

Hubby finds my instructor's number online and I call her from the car. Of course, she doesn't answer, but I leave a very apologetic voice mail and decide I've done all I can do. I will go to class late and homework incomplete. I will face the music. I will survive.

But I still drive fast.

And I still want to cry.

Several times I blink back the tears and wish I could start this semester over. I feel overwhelmed and disorganized. Instead of having certain blocks of time I can devote to school, I feel as though I've been forced to squeeze in a little here and there between the cracks and I HATE it. It has to even out. The madness has to stop.

I call a friend I left at the coffee shop and tell her what has happened and ask her to say a prayer for me.

If I can make it through the day without crying, it will be a miracle.

And miracles do happen, as I made it to school with about 30 seconds to spare, but not a minute late. I breathe a little easier and rush to class, only to find the door locked and the light out.

And a little sign posted:

Labor Day Holiday"

I thought I might actually collapse with relief.

So I have an hour and a half before my next class. Time to do homework. Time to blog.

And what makes me most happy?

Time to finish Sir Gawain properly, without being rushed.

I'm such a nerd.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Too Good To Be True

I am not what you would call "well-versed in the fine art of potty training". I am potty-phobic. Potty illiterate. Deficient in potty training skills.

All of the above.

My first two potty training experiences were nightmares. I started Brother a couple of months after he turned two. He finally got it at about age 3. I waited until sister was well over three. She finally got it at 4 1/2. It was a full excruciating, frustrating year for each.

And all those moms that told me how they potty trained their children in a week, a weekend or even a day?

I wanted to hurt them.

Seriously. Hurt. Them.

If you are one of those moms, save the success story. I don't wanna hear it.

So this last time around, with Baby, I've said I was waiting until she was five. Until her curiosity was so piqued she was begging me to let her use the potty. I mean, I homeschool. I could TOTALLY get away with it.

However, she has been asking me to sit on the potty lately and being the sweet mommy I am, I have indulged her. In fact, on one occasion, I had to pry her from the seat kicking and screaming so I could put her to bed.

She is nowhere near five...not even three. We are NOT potty training.

So today, I saw her assume the position. You know...the squat, followed by the quiet, intense stare of focus and concentration. I left her alone to do her business and returned a few minutes later to do mine.

"You poo poo?" I asked, grabbing a diaper and the wipes.

"Uh, huh," she answered. But when I checked the diaper, it was clean. Nothing there.

"Baby, do you need to poo poo?" I asked again.

"Yeah, on the potty!" she exclaimed and ran full throttle to the bathroom. I followed and allowed her to put the Blue's Clue's potty ring onto the toilet seat, take off her diaper and climb aboard, as though she were an old pro. Sister sees her and, feeling it is her duty to impart all her worldly wisdom of five years unto her little sister, asks if she can bring her books.

"Bahbie!" says Baby. (Translation: Barbie.)

Sister brought her a Barbie book and a Sleeping Beauty book and brought over the stepstool next to the sink for Baby's feet. She told Baby what a big girl she was and I tore myself away from the heartwrenchingly precious scene to avoid the pressure...

On me.

I'm feeling a bit nervous. I know this is a pivotal moment. I know she is practically saying, "Mommy, please teach me!" Could it be that I actually have one of those fabled children who practically potty train themselves? I don't wanna mess it up. It's my last chance for redemption.

I return to find Baby hard at work. I sit on the bathtub beside her and watch. A few seconds later, we have success, and Baby looks to me with her face so small and beautiful and expectant, radiant with accomplishment.

I want to cry.

"Baby, you poo pooed in the potty!" I squeal, in a voice about three octaves higher than normal. She smiles proudly and Sister, hearing the merrymaking, joins the celebration. We clap. We dance. We hug and squeal some more.

"I do more!!" Baby announces resolutely and resumes her station.

We wait in silence.

Then comes the telltale "plop".

Again with the dancing. There's a party in the potty.

Just before bedtime, as I was changing Baby into her pajamas, I asked if she'd like to go potty again. She jumps up and runs to the bathroom, as though I've just handed her the keys to the candy shop.

More success.

How do I feel? Shocked. Elated.

So so proud.

Of her.

Maybe tomorrow we'll break out the underpants.

Knock on wood.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I have this light colored comforter on my bed.

I thought it was ivory.

I washed it today.

Turns out it's white.