Saturday, December 29, 2007

Zacky's Lunch Prayer

Zack: Please bless the two twins…

Mom: Dear Heavenly Father…

Zack: Mom, I can do it mysefff… Dear Heavenly Father, bless the two twins. Bless Aunt Nalalie and Uncle Jerumy. Bless that I can get Lightning McQueen and Doc for Christmas…

Mom: Bless the food…

Zack: I can do it myseeeeeeeffff… Bless that we can go to church and watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix…

Mom: ????

Zack: And please bless the food. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. Was that a good prayer, Mom?

Mom: Yes, Zack. That was a very good prayer.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Diapurse

2000 BC (Before Children) I used a strappy purse. You know the kind—the wallet on a rope. Everything I needed fit in that tidy number: cash, credit cards, pictures of friends and family, lipgloss. Never would I arrive somewhere and think, Dang, how could I have left the wetwipes? Or, please tell me there’s a Lightning McQueen in here somewhere. I was childless and streamlined, coming and going without much forethought. And then I had babies.

I was never much for diaper bags but being the sharp new mom I was, I soon realized my strappy purse was no longer going to work. So I upgraded to a Mother Purse that was big enough to carry diapers and sippy cups but not big enough to double as a beach bag.

Enter Purse Party. Finally I had the time and inclination to hand-select a bag that would carry all the stuff I was starting to accumulate as a frazzled and disorganized mom. This is the first purse I picked:

And then my mother gave me this one (recognizing that I was a little jealous of my beloved sister-in-law Erin’s diaper bag of the same style):

Adorable, right? Fully of personality and color. I love them both, but here's the problem. I use them to pack the most ridulous things around. That one above? It's been my bag of choice this entire Christmas season. And I only realized it's been loaded with too much stuff when I had to dump it out to find my cell phone. So last night I decided it was time to clean it out and here’s what I found (I call it Purse Vomit):

Things of note include: three Sonic straws (one without the sanitary paper covering), one loose WalMart receipt, a Radiator Springs Lightning McQueen (note: not Zack’s favorite), a clean diaper that—due to its long, rumpled journey—looks used, and one homemade invitation to a church Christmas party. How could I go from a wallet on a rope to a diapurse—that’s what I call this sad little hybrid between a purse and diaper bag. Catchy, right?

I’m just saying that I haven’t transitioned into my matured state of motherhood very gracefully. There are streamlined mothers out there, wearing fashionable clothes and carrying what they need (read: no Sonic straws or matchbox cars) in a tight little purse that matches their shoes. Me? I’m carrying a junk drawer in a bag (albeit a very cute one).

I’m going to have to work on that one in 2008…

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Because-I’m-a-Loser MEME

Over a month ago Candygirlflies at I Can Fly Just Not Up tagged with a meme I was actually excited to do (I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of the MEME). I realized it was the same MEME that Rachel at Like a Star tagged me with two months earlier (no, I didn’t do it then either). But I got a little sidetracked (I’ll blame it on getting locked out of my house shortly thereafter) and never did it. So in efforts to push the Collateral Damage post down a bit (as always, thanks so much for all your words of comfort and support) and to fulfill my blogging obligations, I will share 6 random facts about me:

1. I’m obsessed with Britney Spears.
Don’t ask me why. I was never interested in her life before it became a train wreck. Maybe it’s because regardless of what I’m going through I can always say, “At least that’s not me.” Or maybe it’s because we’re watching, in real time, what happens to a media darling who’s told she’s sexy before she’s old enough to watch R rated movies. It’s sad really. (Have you heard about her sister?). I know; I'm pathetic.

2. My front bumper looks like this:

Yikes. This has quickly gone from a 6-random-facts meme to a true confessional. The sad thing is I did nothing to deserve this bumper. I blame it on the cold Idaho Falls winters that cracked the plastic before it even had a fighting chance. And now, the poor thing, is held together with bailing wire and duct tape. True story. It’s also the laughing stock of Idaho drivers everywhere.

3. I love Bravo!
I don’t watch much TV but when I get the chance I’ll stay up past midnight catching up on Project Runway, Top Chef, and yes, blasphemous Kathy Griffin (what can I say, the girl makes me laugh…).

4. I’m canceling cable come January.
See #3. That and regardless of how much I try to restrict TV my children still know the theme song to Sponge Bob Square Pants.

5. I can’t figure out how to get my header graphic back.
I had my purty night-scene graphic displaying nicely at the top of my blog and then one day, poof, it was gone. Well, not really gone, but cropped and left justified. And I can’t figure out how to fix it. Help?!

6. I could live off diet coke, microwave popcorn, and graham crackers with frosting.
Which is why, in 2008, I plan on selling my soul to the local gym. I’m hoping to barter with them. I write a monthly newsletter for free (in which I divulge my monthly weight loss stats) and they give me one free membership. I can’t decide if that’s gutsy or stupid. I’ll tell which if I ever get the nerve to call them.

So there you have it. The confessional meme. My apologies to both Candygirlflies and Rachel for not posting it sooner. And because it’s such a late response I won’t tag anyone in turn, but I do welcome any of your confessions. Please, gentle readers, don’t leave me hangin’ here. My bumper’s on display.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Collateral Damage

This year has been taxing on my little man, Kaleb. The divorce has been hardest on him, and in just a few short months he’s matured more than I’d like to admit. My toothless wonder is more reflective, thoughtful, and introspective.

Last week was the most difficult of my life. I won’t drag you through the details—suffice it to say that ending a marriage is a painful, difficult, and often, ugly thing. On Tuesday night I placed my kids in front of the TV and shut myself in the nearby empty playroom to talk with my Mom. It wasn’t long before I was sobbing uncontrollably, wiping snot from the faceplate while trying not hyperventilate. Kaleb walked in.

At that exact moment I realized that while my children have seen their mother cry (in a dainty, dab-a-tissue-at-the-corner-of-my-eyes kinda way) they’ve never seen me broken like that, incoherent and hiccupping with emotion.

He stood in the doorway, stunned. “Why are you crying, Mom?”

“Mommy’s just sad,” I said. (Why I speak in third-person like this, even to my six-year old, I don’t know.)

He continued to ask that same question, over and over, letting me know that being sad wasn’t answer enough.

Finally I said, “Sometimes mommy and daddy don’t agree about important things.”

There, I’d said it. In my least-rational, weakest moment I had told my child that his father and I weren’t currently on the same page, in fact, I was doubtful we were even in the same book. I got off the phone and we muddled through the next few days. Somehow.

On Friday the ex picked Kaleb up from school and asked how he could be a better father. His answer? Not, buy me a video game, let me have my own bedroom, or even play catch with me more.

“Don’t make Mom cry.” That was his answer.

And later, when I asked him how I could be a better mom he said, “Get along with Dad.”

Profound in a simple, innocent way.

And absolutely heartbreaking.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

An Undeniable Will for Chocolate

This week's column...

One parenting trend suggests you describe your child’s shortcomings in a positive light to avoid pidgin-holing them early in life. If that were the case I would say my daughter is selective, discerning, and astute. Unfortunately for her I don’t subscribe to that trend. Leah is a picky, persnickety, finicky eater.

If my daughter had her druthers, she would eat Honey Nut Cheerios, chocolate ice cream, and grilled cheese sandwiches everyday. Again, unfortunately for her, she doesn’t get her druthers much.

So dinner is a battle at the Belknap house. It doesn’t matter what it is, child-friendly though the meal may appear, the girl won’t eat it. Spaghetti? Nope. Tacos? Too spicy. Pork chops and mashed potatoes? What is this, Mom?

But I won’t budge. She has to have a bite of everything to get down from the table; her plate must be clean to get any dessert. And tonight’s piece de resistance is chocolate ice cream. The situation has now become a moral dilemma for my daughter. She must eat that ice cream.

If I were to tell you that a 5-year old could execute the most motivational monologue you’ve ever heard in your life, you wouldn’t believe me. But I was there; I witnessed it from my very own kitchen. My little Leah, with her gift of gab, managed to talk nonstop and still eat an entire plate of broccoli, little smokies, and macaroni and cheese.

It took an hour and went something like this:

“Dinner looks really good. Mhmmmm. It’s delicious. I’m licking it right now, Mom. Watch me lick the broccoli. I think we should eat this every night. Even for lunch. What do you think, Mom? This is even better than chocolate ice cream. It tastes like green chocolate. Yum! It’s amazing.”

At this point she wrinkles her nose and puts the broccoli in her mouth, working through a gag reflex until the broccoli has been safely swallowed.

“Wow. That was great. I only have three more bites and then I can eat ice cream. Do I have to eat the macaroni and cheese all gone? Every single bite? That’s a lot of food but I think there’s plenty of room in my tummy. Tummies are big. Big enough for broccoli, mini hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and ice cream. Lot and lots of ice cream…”

And she did it. In no less than 8,562 syllables my daughter ate her dinner. So while she may be persnickety I’ve got to give her one thing. She’s got gumption. Chutzpah. Moxie. And an undeniable will for chocolate ice cream.

She gets THAT from her mother.

Picture Retakes

I took all the kids in to get their pictures taken at the school. And after getting retakes for Kaleb and Leah, they have returned. Thankfully they turned out pretty durn good. They're cute, right?

Kaleb, or as we like to call him, "No Teeth"


Zack, Zackers, Zacky, Zackerino

Monday, December 10, 2007

Leah at Church, Again...

Yesterday, Leah sat next to me in church (sound familiar?), cross-legged on the pew with her dress covering her legs. She was concentrating on her notebook, painstakingly placing stickers (thanks, mom) all over the cover. When out of nowhere (and in the stark silence of the chapel) she let loose the biggest piece of flatulence that congregation has ever heard. And at first I had to look back, expecting to see a gassy elephant sitting behind us. But no. It was my dainty daughter, acting as if letting one rip in the middle of church was completely natural. And not to be gross, but it had a noticeable flapping effect and was long. Long enough for me to look back at the pew behind us, not see an elephant sitting there, and then turn back to my daughter and say, “Stop, Leah,” to which she responded (yes, still flatulating), “But, Mom, it’s my toot. I CAN’T stop that.”

Why, of course!

And that’s when the man sitting in front of us looked back (expecting to see an elephant) and laughed out loud.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Project Playroom-Makeover, Part One

Sit down, people, this is going to be a long one (but totally worth it, I promise).

I had quite the weekend planned. The ex had the kids and I had a list of Honey Do’s (yes, I call myself Honey) longer than Santa’s naughty list; and my list had nothing to do with Christmas.

I had decided, in the middle of the most hectic time of year, to prep the playroom for a makeover. My in-laws recently moved out and the room was nearly empty so, I said to myself, why not paint it while the painting’s good? I know—these monologues of mine are nothing but trouble.

Sooooo, if you’ve ever done a home improvement project you know that before you can accomplish said project you must do 20 other things first. It’s a rule or something.

Here’s my list in reverse order so it makes more sense (stay with me—the good part’s coming):

10. Paint playroom
9. Prime playroom
8. Sand-down baseboards and window casings
7. Empty playroom and put books in my bedroom
6. Move beautified bookshelf into my bedroom
5. Paint knarly pesticide shelving unit in garage
5. Decide I can’t afford to buy a nice new bookshelf for the books I must move from the playroom to my bedroom
4. Realize I must move all my books from the playroom to my bedroom
3. Forget to take a “Before” picture
2. Look disdainfully at dusty, littered playroom
1. Get the brilliant idea to perform Project Playroom-Makeover

So late last night I had cleaned off and primed the knarly bookshelf. I was excited about this pre-playroom prepping task—I felt all HGTV and stuff. It was nearly midnight when I decided to apply the first coat of black spray paint in order to get a jump-start on my long Saturday To-Do List. I went into the garage, shut the door behind me and DIY-ed my heart out. Then I tried to go back inside.

You got it. I locked myself out. After midnight. On a snowy night in Idaho Falls.

I admit it. I panicked a bit. For about 30 minutes I circled the house, pounding on windows and doors as if the cats would open up and let me in. Finally, I broke some screens. Three to be exact. And I wasn’t all clean and burglar-like. I got a little wicked with a screwdriver and bent them past repair. I still didn’t get in the house.

That’s when I decided to scale the roof and try to break in through my sons’ room. Yes, it was snowing. Yes, we have a steep metal roof that was certain to provide no traction whatsoever. Yes, I am a little portly with no athletic prowess. Yes, I am the same person who refused to get on a ladder to hang some Christmas lights for my dewy-eyed children. But it seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. That is, until I stood beneath the roof, yellow rope in hand, and realized I couldn’t easily lasso the chimney. Damn.

I circled the house again, swore a few more times, and decided the garage wasn’t that cold. At least, it hadn’t seemed cold until that thought flitted through my head. It WAS cold and my fingers were numb after all that screen-breaking and failed chimney-lassoing. But did it really warrant waking the neighbors?

Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending to this story (there’s got to be right? I am typing this post – ten fingers intact). I realized my MIL lives just two blocks down (I blame this delayed epiphany on the hyperthermia). To make a long story short (too late, right?), I trekked to her house in my PJs and slippers and then she drove us both to the house where she tore the weather stripping from the garage door and jimmied her way into my house using her Safeway card. I hugged her. And cried. Just a little.

The good news is I can check items one through seven off my list. And I have a sleek new bookshelf in my bedroom. But don’t take my post for it. You be the judge:

Totally worth it, right?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Deck the Halls, Not the Children

This week's column...

Because I’m now the only adult in my home, I’m frequently outnumbered on things like food preferences and movie picks. That’s why on the 26th of November Christmas decorating commenced at the Belknap house.

Now I’m not a Type A personality. In fact, I’m more like Type C, if there is such a thing. My house is not meticulous, Mt. Laundry looms in my basement, and my children believe cooking simply requires a can opener and microwave. So you’d think I’d be easy-going when it comes to Christmas decorating. Not so much.

I’m not sure if it’s because the majority of our decorations are breakable or I’m just a grinch, but as soon as I popped the seal on our Christmas tubs I became Martha Stewart preparing for a party at the compound. I was barking orders, telling children to stop touching things, and finally made everyone sit at my feet to watch me place everything “just so.” Yes, someone should nominate me for the Christmas Spirit award.

When we set up the tree a few days later I was determined to make it a more kid-friendly activity. I gritted my teeth through the light-hanging while all the bulbs and ceramic decorations were Zack-handled. Once finished I sat on the couch to let my kids go at it. After a half-hearted attempt to channel Martha and give hanging instructions, I finally gave up and watched the rest of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” while the bottom two tiers of the tree were loaded up with every decoration in the box.

So my house is officially Christmas-ready, although my children reminded me that we had lights hanging from the roof LAST year. They even volunteered to hold the ladder while mother risks life and limb stringing up those bulbs of horror. I told them it was a dangerous job, and Kaleb explained to his sister, “Yeah, Leah, Mom might fall on you and break your arm. Or leg. Or kill you.” Thanks, son. Either way, I believe we’re all in agreement that we won’t be decorating the outside of our house this season.

But we’ve been able to enjoy the decorations that went up early this year (I would call you all overachievers, but I might offend half my readers—all five of you). There are the inflatable Santas and snowmen and elaborate light designs, but so far the prize goes to a house just two blocks down from us. The entire front yard is dedicated to an ice sculpture including a heart, a cross and a frozen ladder. It requires a daily spray-down. My mind cannot wrap itself around the scrupulous planning and maintenance of such holiday cheer. But kudos to those of you who can because it satisfies my children and keeps me off the ladder.

So back to the song. Halls decked? Check. Gay apparel donned? Check. Joyous singing altogether? Sing with me now, people: Fa la la la la.

Let the Christmas celebrations begin. Happy Holidays, Bloggers!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hawaii, my Ku'uipo

Last night I found the Israel Kamakawiwo'ole CD, "Alone in IZ World," and played it as I fell asleep. Ever since I've been homesick for Hawaii, my sweetheart, my Ku'uipo. So in honor of Pink and Blues Girls Flashback Thursday I'm going to indulge myself a bit and write this lovepost in honor of the place I once called home and am missing dearly today.

Have you ever had that odd sensation of coming home? I don't mean returning home from college for Christmas break, although the feelings are similar. I mean landing in a place you've never been before and feeling like it was the place meant to be the setting for your life? And like a tuning fork your heart resonates whenever there? Hawaii was that for me. It's the only place I still have reoccurring dreams about, and when I wake up I feel melancholy and apart.

But enough of that. On to the good stuff. As I closed my eyes last night and listened to the very local Hawaiian music I remembered so many things:

  • I could hear the ocean through the open louvers, either in my dorm room or my bedroom off-campus, and didn't realize just how loud it was until I returned to the mainland.

  • The airport smells like a flower fest with the scent of carnation, plumeria, and orchid so strong you carry it back across the ocean with you.

  • Polynesians raise their eyebrows intermittently throughout a conversation to let you know they're listening.

  • POG (passion, orange, and guava juice) is thicker and sweeter than your average juice.

  • No matter how long I lived there, poi still tasted like kindergarten glue paste.

  • However, the taste of breadfruit grew on me and for the longest time I couldn't imagine eating chicken without it.

  • When you're a starving college student there's nothing like being invited to a traditional wedding reception complete with a luau (which includes a double breasted buffet line with real Kalua pig).

  • McDonalds has a special Hawaiian menu that includes the teriyaki burger (yum!) and rice as a side dice.

  • Oh, and since I'm talking about food, my favorite thing to eat at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) was the Spam roll (like a California roll only with Spam).

  • My favorite job EVER was as a Japanese tour guide at the PCC.

  • Every evening as I walked from the cafeteria to the library I was serenaded by the loud music blaring from the PCC night show.

  • Pulling my hair up in a bun with chopsticks was considered uber-cool.

  • Every slack-key guitar or ukelelei song sounds like love to me.

  • The hula. Ah. What more can I say?

Like a love-sick girl I could go on and on forever, but I'll spare you. Still, I hope you've caught the Aloha spirit from this one little post and will have a better day because of it. And here are my pictures. 1)BYU-Hawaii, 2)The LDS Temple as seen from Hukilau Beach, and 3)Hukilau Beach

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Calling all readers...

People, I need your help. Seriously.

I’m about ready to tackle the task of sending out Christmas cards, but I’m a little stumped. Generally I try to write a light-hearted newsletter that tells people what we’re up to. But how do you share the earth-splitting news I’ve got to share (i.e. divorce) without putting a damper on the Christmas spirit? I’ve considered not sending anything at all, but then lots of people will just be confused next year when I return to the ritual. I’ve also considered just sending out the picture postcards and signing it “Shauna and the kids.” Is that enough? I welcome (and beg for) your advice and/or suggestions.

Monday, December 03, 2007

My Day Spa, or more appropriately titled, I Have Strep

Today I went to the doctor to get a throat culture (Yes, people, the Belknap’s have strep), and I was a magazine whore in the waiting room. I’m guessing this is what happens when you confine a woman in a room without her children (and her laptop), forcing her to sit quietly by herself for nearly 20 minutes.

First I raided the wall rack, snagging a Good Housekeeping, a Country Cottage, and a Redbook with Kelly Ripa on the cover. I binged, flipping through pages furiously, trying to get as much mindless magazine-ing in as possible. The other lady in the waiting room looked up from her Newsweek with raised eyebrows and then back down as if embarrassed for me. I read magazines I never would pay for—People’s issue naming the sexiest men alive, and then the one about that guy they think killed two of his four wives.

When the nurse called me in I scowled at her. I would have waited for an hour. or two. I’m probably the only person who views a trip to the doctor for a throat culture akin to a relaxing spa getaway. Unfortunately, my appointment was short-lived. The nurse said my uvula and tonsils were extremely swollen and inflamed. (Uvula. So that’s what that’s called… I had been calling it a goiter, or to mix it up – the do-hickie at the back of my throat). Within 15 minutes I was diagnosed, prescribed, and sent on my merry way. Viola.

Two doses of amoxicillin for ten days and I won’t be reading another magazine until my next checkup. Unfortunately, that’s an agonizing 6 months from now.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bye Bye Bling...

I can’t afford therapy so I’m writing in my journal, religiously. It sits on my bedside table and sometimes I stay up until one in the morning, writing down my feelings and reflections, trying to figure stuff out and make myself accountable for changes I’m trying to make.

Recently I’ve been made acutely aware of how much I worry about what other people think. Does anyone else struggle with this? When I’m at church, with my family, talking with my ex, and yes, even publishing posts to this here blog. It’s been something I’ve struggled with since high school. Before that I remember being a carefree child who could care less what anyone thought. What changed that?

Junior high. At least that’s when I realized that others’ judgments could impact me in a very public way. There was this popular pack of boys who would roam the halls before school, circling the 8th grade wing and bulldozing anyone in their path. I remember having my locker closed on me, being goosed while trying to drink from the fountain and watching a friend get shoved out of someone’s way. I went from being a strong girl to feeling powerless and very vulnerable. That carefree child retreated and I began spending time in the library, waiting there with a group of friends until the bell rang.

But that was so many years ago and I’m an adult now. Stick and stones, right? Not only that, but I’m a mother and I don’t want to model this perception to my children (I know, if this is how I perceive the world I already have modeled this perception). So I’m trying to move beyond this, making the best choices I can regardless of, irrespective of what others might think.

I’ve been lucky as I’ve moved through this divorce. There have been countless individuals who have stepped forward to offer their love and support, including so many of you in the blogging community. And for that I’m extremely grateful. But every now and then I encounter a mean-spirited judgment that sends me reeling. And I feel that urge to justify my choices, explain my situation, and divulge information that is private and personal. But I’m trying to remember that my only concern is how one entity regards my choices. When I acknowledge that I’m baffled that some are presumptuous enough to think they can pass judgment on me and mine, or anyone else for that matter (I’m also baffled that I’ve been presumptuous enough to pass thoughtless judgments on others as well).

So I’m trying not to worry about what anyone else may think about my life. I’m also trying to remember how important it is to refrain from judging others, to reach out to those who need understanding and generosity of spirit. Really, we’re all trying to learn here and I believe we each have experiences tailored to our needs. Those of you who share your very personal experiences on your blogs enrich my life and demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit and how we’re all just trying to do the best we can.

I hope I don’t offend any of you by removing all the bling from my blog. I have been giddy over each and every award but I’ve gotten to the point where I worry too much about how “popular” I am here in cyberspace and that’s just a silly. So I’m going to write from my heart and not worry about the numbers, awards or anything else. I’m just going to enjoy my blog and the great community it’s nestled in.

Thanks for reading!