Friday, November 07, 2008
In October we moved in, after the two big trees in our front yard had vomited all their leaves in a thick carpet that lay, wet and slimy, on our grass. Shortly thereafter, we raked and we raked until our palms were blistered and some 20-odd garbage sacks were filled with tree waste.
Last year I discovered a leaf blower hidden in the bowels of my dry vac, and upon plugging it in, was delighted to discover that magical thing would blow all the leaves off my yard and into the gutter in no time at all. I was in love and, will admit only here, I may have had a few terms of endearment reserved for my beloved leaf blower alone.
This year my children decided to help me rake the leaves and created one huge pile in my front yard, after which they insisted that this chore, inspired only by their love and concern for me, should earn them each a dollar. Those cute little capitalists.
And then it rained. It rained before I had a chance to retrieve My Sweet Little Leaf Whisperer to disperse the leaves and move them to the gutter. And if you don’t know how rain can thwart the powerful magic of a leaf blower, let me tell you.
That pile ‘o leaves, which my children had so lovingly gathered together for me, had become a thick, immovable mass. My Sweet Little Leaf Whisperer blew and blew, and nary a leave budged. Okay, so that’s not true. There was some budging, there was some flipping and flopping (because that’s what wet, congealed leaves do after they’ve been composting in your front yard through a series of rain storms), but there was NO magical swooshing, where the leaves, as if commanded by something stronger than Nature herself, would dance their way to the streets.
So after two hours with My Sweet Little Leaf Whisperer (and two very numb feet), I still have a fairly large pile ‘o leaves in my front yard. Although I did unearth half a bag of Halloween candy, two rakes, one broomstick, one plastic snow shovel, and a handful of squirt guns. My cute little capitalists were obviously doing more than just raking leaves in my front yard.
If the rain stops, today I will find myself on another date with My Sweet Little Leaf Whisperer, once again trying to move that sopping leaf pile into the gutter.
A leaf pile, remember, for which I paid three dollars…
Saturday, November 01, 2008
The Dreaded Question: What do you want to be for Halloween this year?
When you ask it in September you give children more than enough time to consider elaborate, ornate, and eBay-able costumes. You also give them nine weeks in which to change their minds. Over and over again. When you ask it on October 15th, you run the risk of not being able to find their selections at Wal-Mart, however, at that point there are no taksies backsies and you have a definitive choice.
Upon being asked the Dreaded Question, Sport and Spunk, with boyish resolution, supplied one-word answers.
Decisive and to-the-point. Of course I had to Google them both later to find out exactly what they were, but no matter, I still had sixteen days to sort it all out.
Sis, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as concise. Upon being asked the Dreaded Question, she spun around in a circle and then, performing a deep plei, answered, “I want to be a ballerina princess riding a Pegasus unicorn.” What? This is Halloween, not Fantasy Island.
In seasons past they have all made more conventional, mass-produced selections like Tinkerbell, Elmo, and Spiderman. This year their imaginations had outrun Wal-Mart’s suppliers, and I was left to make a very difficult decision: to sew or not to sew. As mentioned previously, I chose crazy; I chose to sew.
The fifteen dollar costume is a beautiful thing, and only once before have I foregone the convenience of ready-made Halloween-wear. And that one time amounted to an entire week of late nights and pseudo swear words. This year would prove to be no different.
After 72 hours with a pile of fabric, two boxes of Rit dye, a beaded leotard, one iron-on, and a very tall stack of chick flicks, I emerged with three unique, hand-crafted, custom-made Halloween costumes. My children have never been more proud. Or more strangely dressed.
Which proves you can be whatever you want for Halloween.
Me? I’m Martha Stewart this year. Spooky, right?
Here's a picture of the "real" Avatar.
Here's a picture of the "Sport" Avatar. (Yes, we're the crazy parents who shaved our son's head for Halloween...)
Here is a picture of the "real" Robotboy (I know. I had never heard of him before either...)
Here is a picture of the "Spunk" Robotboy.
And because I don't have a picture of the "real" princess ballerina riding a Pegasus Unicorn, I present to you Sis riding a Pegasus Unicorn.
Friday, October 17, 2008
For years, my kids have used my jeans like tissue. Without a second thought, I’ll hold out my hand so my kids can spit out gum, snuck candy, or plain too much food. And in public places I’ve even cupped my hands as an emergency vomit bowel. Bodily fluid has become my specialty.
Motherhood is not glamorous, people.
Those of you with kids are familiar with the Public Vomit. You’re at a formal gathering (it always is, right?) with a child who has been incubating an illness for about 12 hours, although you, as of yet, have no idea. And then, at the most inopportune time, the percolating child blows. And by blows, I mean chunks—and by chunks, I mean all over the place. (And if you’re unlucky, like the Belknap family, some poor, unsuspecting and immaculately-dressed older women had been trying to entertain aforementioned urpy child.)
As Mother, you step in and begin the cleanup, using everything from the Taco Bell napkins you’ve been stashing in your purse to your new leather jacket. In fact, you may even use your own shirt to wipe any residue from your child’s pale little face.
After years of such sickly episodes, you would think I’d be more than ready to graduate my oldest son from the human vomit bowl to the toilet bowl. Call me crazy, but I’m not.
Yesterday, Sport was a grown-up sick kid. He drank his 7Up and ate his soda crackers without complaint, even when it made him throw up thirty minutes later. And throughout all his disoriented nausea, not once did he miss the toilet. He didn’t cling, he didn’t whine, he didn’t use my shirt to wipe his face. What’s a mother good for if not all those things?
So I’ve begun to sing the enjoy-them-while-they’re-young anthem of motherhood. No more diaper bags, no more ear infections, no more public vomits. But while I may no longer be the human vomit bowel, I’m still the homework nag. That counts for something.
And the sibling rivalry referee. They still need one of those, right?
Monday, October 13, 2008
I know. Leave it to me to be the bearer of bad news.
Just this weekend, it snowed here in Idaho Falls. Sunday morning we had about an inch on the ground and it’s currently 29 degrees Fahrenheit. I still have nightmares about last winter. The ice dams, the frozen pipes, the icicle tears.
So I decided to better prepare this year. And so far I’ve insulated the pipes and practiced building fires. I went to girls’ camp; you would think that last one would come more easily.
I have decided that all my 2007 winter woes were the direct result of my inability to build a fire. The ice dams on the backside of my house? The fireplace is on the backside of my house. The pipe that runs under the stairs by the backside of my house? The fireplace – still on the backside of my house. There’s a definite pattern that you would think an educated women would have deduced before the third or fourth snowfall. But no, I had already abandoned my efforts of trying to make a spark with some steel wool and a 6-volt battery (kidding).
Firebuilding 101. There’s a fundamental college requirement for you.
More than the physical chill, I’m bracing myself for those heating bills. You think the feds might spring for those after they bail out Wall Street? I won’t get my hopes up; I’m buying a couple cords of wood and will continue to practice my fire-building skills. Yesterday I actually started one without having to use an entire newspaper (sports section and all). In fact, I’m moving through the newspapers so quickly I’ll have to use last year’s heating bills to fuel this winter’s fires.
So I’m bracing myself for what this winter will hold. Some people around here are hoping that, due to our mild August weather, we’ll be having an even milder winter. Being the eternal optimist I am, I think mean ole Mother Nature was just shutting down the sun early so that by Halloween the only kids who could survive trick or treating will be dressed like Sasquatch or Satan.
You better watch it, Mother Nature. It’s an election year and I just might vote for the Devil if you keep this up (still kidding!).
Thursday, October 09, 2008
I’ve joked about being Worst Case Scenario Mama. It seems a funny thing, a natural thing –something that prepares me for the worst possible outcome of a situation so that we are fully braced for all that is bad, ugly, and painful. I’ve done it for years to the point that it’s become as natural as breathing. Unfortunately, it has also made my life miserable. All that bracing is exhausting; it’s taken a toll on my spirit, making it difficult to embrace the good in life and celebrate joy.
I don’t talk about my beliefs much. When I first started blogging, it was simply an opportunity to tell my family about the crazy experiences I was having as a mother without calling them up, one by one, to share what they might consider the blathering of just another giddy mommy. But it soon evolved to be more than that, bracing me against the harsh edges of separation and then divorce, and then, encouraging me through the strange land that is single-motherhood.
But now I’d like to share another faucet of my life that I hope will grow to consume my experience, and that is JOY, something that I find inseparable from my beliefs as a Latter Day Saint (a Mormon).
Life is hard. I get that. I’ve braced for it, experienced it, and survived it (so far). I’ve learned a lot from difficulty. But life is also a blessed experience that should be full of hope and happiness. As I’ve thought about that idea, read lots of inspiring books and listened to the amazing leaders of my church, I’ve discovered (as many of you have probably already realized) that happiness is a choice.
This past weekend our church held its semi-annual general conference, where our leaders (men and women alike) shared powerful messages intended to inspire members to serve others, endure struggles, and capture joy.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s, second counselor to our prophet, shared a message (Saturday Morning Session) that was life-changing for me. He spoke of the infinite power of hope and how it has the ability to fill our lives with joy. The antithesis of hope is despair, which, as Worst Case Scenario Mama, I have often experienced. He explained, “Despair drains from us all that is vibrant, and joyful, and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward.”
“Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. …Hope upholds us. Hope raises our resolve. The brighter our hope, the stronger our faith.”
When I was in graduate school I despised the Pollyanna’s of the world, those stricken with a sickening optimism that seemed, to me, to have nothing to do with the realities of life—hardships, struggles, disabling disappointments. Now, however, I want to become a Pollyanna. Because, really, who enjoys life more? The Pollyanna’s of this world or the Negative Nellies? After years of being a Negative Nelly I say, take me to the bright side, the sickeningly sweet side, the side where I can smile at my children more and worry about the unknown future less.
In reading Marriane Williamson’s book, The Gift of Change, she talks about how we’re given opportunities to learn through joy. We encounter experiences and opportunities that enable us to learn, with grace and ease. If we refuse that opportunity, perhaps because we feel too busy, overwhelmed, or just not up to the task, it will pass and then return again. Each time it returns, it takes on an element of difficulty, forcing us to turn our attention to the curriculum God intends for us to master.
She explains, “It’s not up to us what we learn, only whether we learn through joy or through pain. But if we don’t yet trust that every situation is a lesson, we don’t bother to ask ourselves what the lesson is. And unless we do, our chances of learning it are nil. Then the lesson will reappear—with even higher stakes—until we learn it. We may as well learn it the first time, when the chance to learn through joy is still available.”
I can see that this lesson of HOPE has been returning to me again and again. I intend to learn the lesson this time and release the fear, the despair, and the darkness that has often suffocated me. It will require effort and intention, but it will come.
The last talk of general conference (Sunday Afternoon Session) was given by our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. He spoke of finding joy in the journey. For me there couldn’t have been a better message with which to close.
So while in the past I have easily spotted the storms, I intend to seek out the light, the uplifting and the hopeful more and more every day. I’m finding myself inspired by many who are doing the same and with them I will try harder to choose JOY.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
You can "almost" see her missing front tooth. *sigh*
Then we went to the dollar store and Spunk picked this:
I laughed out loud to see how much he loved the funny-man glasses.
And then, always combat-minded, Sport got fighting gear:
It's a little blurry, but all in the spirit of camouflage.
We're off to visit the cousins in Utah. Enjoy your weekend!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
And I don’t mean a part-time, occasional, periodic bellyacher, I mean a chronic, unceasing, will-you-please-lock-yourself-in-your-bedroom-until-the-end-of-this-millennium sourpuss.
He’s not the only one. Whining is highly contagious in our house, and when one child starts, it sparks a Whine Fest. I have literally run away from my whiny brood, contorting my face to mimic their nasty complaints as they trail behind, the decibels increasing the further ahead of them I get. You’d think only dolphins or humpback whales would be able to hear them.
My favorite of their complaints include:
- You must hate me to make me do chores.
- You’re the worst mom I’ve ever had.
- Why are you always bossing me around?
- If you really loved me you’d let me eat more marshmallows.
- You’re the only mom in the world that makes her kids do X.
- I want another mom. A nice one this time.
I blame some of my bad parenting tactics on the fact that I’m the only adult in the house. And being a freelance writer, I can go days without any adult interaction.
Things get ugly when you’re outnumbered by three children. I can spar with the best of them. Of course, I sound like a six-year old myself when doing it. I say things like, “No, YOU!” and “Whatever!”
This past week I tried to take a more enlightened approach. In my efforts to better apply the Law of Attraction I’ve been trying to vibrate at a higher frequency. The better the emotion the higher the vibration.
So when Sport began complaining on Friday I said, “You’re vibrating at a very low frequency, Mister!” You can imagine he changed his attitude immediately. Okay, so that’s not true. He looked at me like I’d sprouted a second head.
No matter. At least I know that as a seasoned whiner he has a solid career ahead of him.
He could offer political commentary.
Or maybe become a blogger, like his mama.
Friday, September 19, 2008
It’s was a girls night out and we had decided to see a movie. We were hungry but the movie was at seven so we decided to wait and have dinner later. For a reformed popcorn addict that was my first mistake.
We ordered the jumbo combo which included a refillable tub of popcorn without butter (wink wink). And then we got to business.
To say I daintily snacked on the popcorn while journeying to the center of the earth with Brandon Frasier would be dishonest. There were witnesses. I upended the barrel of popcorn and was back for a refill before the opening credits. I apologize to all the movie patrons surrounding me that might have been frightened by the display. I was on popcorn overload and cannot be blamed for my actions.
After consuming enough Weight Watchers points to power the Olympic swim team, the gals and I decided to go lite—we went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner.
The rest is all a blur. There were bottomless chips and salsa and fried tortillas smothered in cheese and sour cream, all atop rice and beans. I had to undo my top button just to look at the food. And it would be a lie if I told you I didn’t consider licking my plate after I had finished. Yes. I ate all that the night before my weekly weigh-in.
The next morning I awoke with a popcorn hangover. My tongue was swollen as were other unmentionable parts of my body. And the scale and I still had a showdown.
To make a long story short, we weighed in. And by some freak of biology my BFF and I had each lost one pound.
I formally apologize to the Weight Watchers facilitator who was conducting a meeting during our weight-loss miracle (and please don’t ask them to recalibrate the scales after that). We (and by “we” I mean “I”) interrupted her motivational speech by telling the entire group that we had fallen off the wagon by eating countless points worth of unbuttered (wink, wink) popcorn and Mexican Fundidos. And we were still big losers.
FYI, I did climb back on the wagon (without the Fundido). And no, they didn’t suspend my Weight Watchers membership, although after this post they just might.
Monday, September 15, 2008
My children, who now seem well versed in various statutes that apply to children in the state of Idaho, have become the leading authorities on authority.
First they told me I couldn’t leave them alone in the car.
“Not even if I’m running to Little Ceasars to get a Hot ‘n Ready pizza?” I asked.
“You’ll get arrested,” Kaleb said.
“Even if there’s no one in line and we park right in front?”
“You’ll go to jail,” Leah added, gravely.
Okay. I can comply with the law as delivered to me by my minor children.
But yesterday they detailed this law in a manner that left me questioning. I was gassing up the car. They all unbuckled and poured out of the van.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“You’ll get arrested,” Kaleb said.
“For putting gas in my car? I’m right here guys; I can see you through the window.”
“You’ll go to jail,” Leah added, gravely.
My dear children—always looking out for my greater good. They don’t want a delinquent mom. I get that. But really, gassing up my car?
And don’t get me wrong. I’m not one to abandon my children in the vehicle and go off gallivanting. Except for those few times I’ve gotten pizza. And returned movie rentals. But that’s it. And that will happen no more, apparently, as my children are incredibly invested in keeping their mother out of jail.
However, they’ve taken the law too far. And by “they” I mean “Zack” who, after listening to his ever-wise older siblings, has started sharing his own version of child protection laws with me.
Like when I went to the garage to grab my forgotten cell phone from the van.
“Mom!” Zack yelled from the open doorway. “You’re gonna get a rested!”
Or when I threatened to send him to his room: “The police are gonna put you in jail!”
It’s a tough rap, parents, keeping these kids in line. Not only will it stretch your patience, endurance, and mental aptitude, but it may just leave you wondering how many episodes of “Law & Order: Trial by Children” your parenting style might inspire.
Friday, September 12, 2008
You lose your first tooth.
You cross the monkey bars all by yourself and are undaunted by the resulting palm-blisters.
You play the kissing game at recess.
You practice ballet in real leather ballet slippers.
You don’t like pants with “buckles.”
You get upset and you get over it.
You share with your brothers.
You’re proud of your choices.
You’re innocent and lovely and amazing.
You’re my fantabulous daughter, Leah Lou.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
My new favorite book is called The Gift of Change by Marianne Williamson. In it she talks about replacing the fear in our lives (and in our world) with love. Not romantic love, parental love, or even neighborly love, but Godly love.
And we all know that I tend to get a little jiggy with fear sometimes. Like here, and here, and here, to name just a few posts. But I'm ready to release the fear and replace it with something intentionally fabulous rather than the negative runoff that was certain to flow from other areas of my life. Love sounded intentionally fabulous enough for me.
So Marianne has become my new best friend, and here's just one of the things she shared with me:
"We often build an altar to our disasters, giving them so much time and attention and energy. But do we do the same for our blessings? Are our minds truly disciplined to call forth and accept the good?"
Oh boy. Have I built an altar to my disasters!
If there's one tangible thing I can do it's to begin neglecting my disasters and focusing on my blessings. I've noticed that as I do, those gifts seem to multiple under my attentive gaze. And the disasters? Those spoiled little suckers shrivel up and slink away. It's miraculous in the simplest of ways.
My new goal is to become more positive. To look at my life and always see the blessings first. With enough practice I'm hoping that it won't take long before that's all I see. (All right, all right. So this is me we're talking about. I'll still gripe about a thing or two--but in a very positive and uplifting way...)
Tonight's blessing? All three of my children were in bed and asleep by 7:30 pm. Miraculous, no?
What are you grateful for today?
Friday, September 05, 2008
I have a small girl-crush on Sydney Bristow. If you don't know who Sydney is, and shame on you, she is the double agent played by Jennifer Garner on the hit TV series Alias.
Recently my friend has gotten me hooked on the show by feeding me, one pirated DVD at a time, action-packed episodes. I didn't watch the show when it originally aired, and shame on me, over 6 years ago. And I thought I was living.
I realize now that my life won't be complete until I can obliterate someone with a roundhouse kick. If you've seen the show you know what I'm talking about. Sydney can disarm the burliest opponent with a powerful sequence of uppercuts, 360 kicks, and double back-flips, all while wearing these fabulous disguises.
My friend and I were so obsessed with fighting like Sydney that we went to a local dojo to see how many classes we would have to take before simulating a Bristow booty kicking. The smart woman at the front desk didn't answer the question, but she had the very handsome sensei on duty perform a 540 kick. Who knew there was such a thing? I nearly hyperventilated.My loyal readers (all three of you) will remember that I once wrote a post entitled "Mission Mompossible" where I divulged that I would never make a good secret agent. That still stands. If the enemy tried to extract national secrets using Chinese water torture, I would crumble within 15 minutes. Threaten to feed my children sugar before bedtime and I'd be done in 10.
But that doesn't mean I couldn't fight like Sydney. I also have to admit that I'm currently coveting some of her gear-especially the tranquilizer guns that became popular circa session three. Not that I would, but I have dreams of piercing my children in the fanny when they're embroiled in one of their more vicious living room brawls. Admit it. The thought made you smile. Just a little.
So until I can actually do a back flip off a wall after kicking a gun from the bad guy's hand, I'll just have to dream about it.
That and watch Alias reruns over and over again.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
I have discovered another unalterable rule of the universe, and it can be filed alongside the Law of Gravity and E=MC2. I call it Bathroom Science 911.
This is how it works. Every time I enter the bathroom for a moment of privacy, my children experience "emergencies." I, like many a parent, have defined emergency to my children as follows: any incident involving blood, loss of consciousness, and/or a house flood or fire. For whatever reason that definition does not work for my children. Allow me to demonstrate.
Just this past Monday I was taking a shower. Feeling especially empowered in my moment of privacy I shut and locked the door, because otherwise my children come in periodically to gawk at their naked mother and complain about their siblings. It's not fun for me.
I hadn't even washed my hair before one of my children began pounding on the door. "MOO-ooom! I need your help!"
I tried to be all calm and serene. "You'll have to wait until I'm out of the shower."
"WHAT?" the child screamed. "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
"I'll help you when I'm done."
"THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!" was the distressed reply. I ignored this child for a few more moments, determined to lather, rinse and repeat before leaving the shower, during which there was much door pounding and incoherent screaming.
Finally I opened the bathroom door, clutching a towel to my chest. Kaleb and Leah stood there looking at me, Kaleb's head cocked to the side as if viewing a new zoo exhibit.
"I can't pour the milk for my cereal," Leah said. Apparently that is a 911-worthy situation. I looked at her brother who has the strength, coordination, and brainpower to poor milk for cereal. Yet there I stood, dripping wet, hair unconditioned.
For whatever reason, my children do not believe in a mother's privacy. Mothers, it seems, hover somewhere outside the human realm, a unique species designed to meet their children's needs without nary a potty break.
However, anytime I walk into a bathroom in which one of them is otherwise "occupied" they yell, "MOM, I need my privacy!" Privacy, I believe, is earned by shutting the door and flushing when you're finished. Both of which I do with exactness. My children? Not so much.
Regardless, you can't argue with the universe. Which is why I'm lobbying to have the law of Bathroom Science 911 added somewhere between Einstein's and Newton's laws. Because, really, where else should they go?
Now excuse me while I run to the loo with my entourage…
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
When it comes to door-to-door salespeople, I’m a sucker. I’ve had my windows cleaned by a very ambitious Southern man, bought a magazine subscription from a drunk teenager, and just this week endured a 90-minute vacuum cleaner demonstration. How did I fall for that, you ask? Sit back, relax, and I’ll share.
In retrospect I realize that this was not your average salesman. This was a strategic three-man team designed to reel in prospects with an air freshener and hook them with a ludicrously priced, yet seemingly magical vacuum cleaner. I didn’t stand a chance.
First, they sent in the Headliner, the one charged with finding and securing Suckers. This particular Headliner was a dwarf, although I believe the politically correct term is “little person.” Either way, he blind-sided me, offering me an air freshener for my time and promising not to take too much of it. Before I even realized what was happening, the Headliner was introducing the Demo Guy, and then *poof*, he was gone.
Now I have a 20-year old kid in my livingroom, assembling a new age vacuum cleaner that looks like it might double as a jet-pack. His job is to shame me by sucking the dirt from my livingroom rug and displaying it on round little filters. Within 30 minutes he has collected at least 20 of them and isn’t slowing down. By the time he’s gathered about 45 dirt-encrusted disks he asks me to sit down for his formal demonstration.
I’ll admit. This vacuum cleaner was extraordinary. It had about 20 attachments and could do everything from clean your gutters to unclog your drains. But the only way I would pay $2400 for a vacuum cleaner was if it could turn my $30 throw rug into a magic carpet that would take me and my children to Disneyland. I’m sorry, but there’s not enough carpet in my life to justify a purchase of that magnitude.
But the Demo Guy’s job isn’t to sell the vacuum cleaner, it’s just to demonstrate it. After 60 minutes of being shocked and amazed by this simple household appliance, the Boss Man arrives. His job is to make the hard sell.
First let me say that any man wearing rhinestone-studded jeans shouldn’t expect to sell me anything. But, boy, did he try.
He informed me that him and his team had traveled all the way from Denver, Colorado, to the numbered streets in Idaho Falls to sell me this magical vacuum cleaner. Because apparently there are more suckers in this area code than in theirs.
I played the single-mom card and tried to look sad and pathetic atop my newly-cleaned livingroom rug (which, by the way, now looks fabulous). He practically rolled his eyes before cutting his asking price in half.
If only this bedazzled salesman knew what he was dealing with he never would have dispatched his team to my home. I am no domestic maven. And while I care about the health of my children (almost obsessively) I would expose them to all the dust mites in the world in order to put $1000 into their college accounts rather than buy his sterling silver, streamlined vacuum cleaner.
The Boss Man, dejected and annoyed, left the poor Demo Guy to clean up his mess, literally. And before the Demo Guy ducked out my front door, his magical vacuum cleaner in tow, he asked that I return the air freshener. Because apparently I sucked more than their vacuum cleaner and their sales practices.
Friday, August 15, 2008
When I first started dating, MTV really played music videos and Aqua Net was the most sophisticated hair product on the market. A lot has changed since then.
To find out if a guy was interested you either passed him a note or sent a girlfriend to ask if he was dating anyone. These days it takes about as much effort to find out if a guy is single as it does to file your taxes. I’ve decided that the late 30-something single male is about as rare as a three-headed unicorn. Where are you guys hiding out?
I decided to take the search online and became more interested in usernames than I did profiles. Did I really want to approach 2hot4u? lazyman, lonesomeloser, and stillluvmyex apparently hadn’t read the instructions on projecting a positive image. And kilzoranges, stalkingcupid and itchyscalp distracted me from my original purpose all together.
I hear that women my age must be more aggressive in order to “attract” a man. It’s a competitive market, and ladies, we outnumber the men about ten to one. Unfortunately for me, I become a little dumbfounded in the presence of an eligible bachelor. Remember how I exposed my forearms to show the beautiful pediatrician, Dr. LoveMonkey, my eczema? I’d make a great reality show but not a very good first date.
And speaking of dates, in the six months since my divorce I’ve been on one. He asked me if I played tennis or badminton or basketball—I’ve since forgotten the details. I answered, “Do women my age play organized sports?” Yeah. He didn’t ask me out again.
So I’ve taken to looking at men from afar. And in my “studies” I have seen the Idaho Falls Fire Department and am here to say they represent. I’m just saying.
Early this summer I became transfixed when a truck of firefighters came to our alley, examining a stray branch that had fallen on a power line. My family, visiting for the weekend, were startled when I rushed into the kitchen. “Can someone help me start a quick house fire? Really. I’m not kidding.”
A little desperation can turn a level-headed, single woman into a serial arsonist.
Not that I’m desperate. (Technically my username is desperateinIF.) Because I’m not.
I am an attractive SWF looking for a freakishly SM for possible LTR. Must love kids, employment, and WWE (women with eczema).
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
This is just so everyone appreciates how hard it is to get three children looking in the same direction while smiling.
More appreciation please...
This is the last one of these...I promise.
Here's Kaleb in all his seven-year old, toothless glory.
Leah's my favorite subject because she's the only one who loves to stand still while getting her picture taken. "Cheeeeeeeeese...." (5 years old)
And my toughest subject, but still dang cute: Zackers! (4 years old)
Tada! A picture that makes it look like my children actually like each other...
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
I am thin.
I am fabulous.
Those are affirmations intended to make me, well, rich, thin and fabulous. I say them every day. The Law of Attraction tells me my life is a reflection of my thoughts so lately I’ve been thinking very generously. From what I hear the Universe will honor my positive thoughts and return all good things to me. Like this: my children are freakishly well-behaved.
But I’ve decided that another Law exists, and it needs some attention. It’s called the Law of Distraction and it goes something like this: if you think one itsy bitsy negative thought, the Universe will multiply that thought by the number of children you have and return it to you. Hence, the last time we went to Sonic, all three of my children spilled their fry sauce in the back seat of the van.
And that’s not the first time the Law of Distraction has manifested in my life.
Hypothetically speaking, let’s imagine you go to an important event, like, say, a wedding reception. Let’s say you’re alone with your children and they’re all acting out. Let’s say a timeout in an isolated classroom at the church doesn’t work so you take your children to the car, threatening to leave. Let’s say all your children lock you out of your car so you can’t get back in.
What happens next? Well, let’s break it down. You have three children. For the last two hours you’ve had very bad, bad thoughts. It’s obvious. The car alarm goes off, alerting the entire wedding party that you are a horrible mother. In addition, it takes 30 minutes to coax your oldest child from his seat to unlock the door that disengages the car alarm and allows you to make a getaway.
3 children x bad thoughts = embarrassing public event
Thus I’m trying to think positive, affirming thoughts as much as humanly possible. And it seems to be working. Aforementioned “hypothetical” event may or may not have occurred nearly three years ago. And I have yet to encounter another such monumental parenting mishap.
Unless, of course, you count that time we got locked in my sons’ bedroom this summer.
Okay, so I don’t know how the Universe works, but I’m going to pretend that it honors my positive thoughts. And yours.
So repeat after me, “I am enjoying this post more with each passing word.”
See? You’re enjoying this experience more already. Now go on with your positive self.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I can’t throw an empty can of tomato paste away without my children knowing about it. I can mix my colors and whites, clean the bathroom naked, and drive to swimming lessons in reverse and my kids won’t say a thing. But if I toss a Spiderman-themed candy wrapper in the garbage, I’m going to hear about it.
Just last week Leah removed a flower arrangement from the trash. Just plucked it from the top of the can and placed it in front of our house like a sad little monument of my anti-domestic prowess. Unfortunately, the arrangement was from my birthday, which was nearly two months ago.
So when I toss something that I’m afraid might get discovered, I hide it under the empty soda can full of bacon grease, behind the junk mail, or, if I’m smart, in a Walmart plastic bag, tied in a double knot at the top.
But I have to admit, I’m usually not that smart. And I’ve managed to throw some cherished items away in that heartless, mean-mommy manner of mine. Things like completed homework assignments, an empty Pepsi can with Indiana Jones on it, hair ties covered in dust found under the living room couch, little plastic weapons, a half-eaten bag of melted Skittles, the DVD case for Leah & Stitch that’s been missing its DVD for three years, broken Happy Meal toys, a rainbow-colored shoelace, and one Barbie leg.
You wouldn’t believe the drama that ensues once I’ve been discovered. Wailing and hiccupping they ask, “Why, Mommy? Why would you throw my Barbie leg away?” There’s no reasoning with that. I’m evil and that’s all there is to it.
But as I write this I have a nagging feeling that dumpster-diving is a dominant gene that just may have come from me. The only difference is I have yet to throw my stuff away. Because as I look around I notice that in the pass-through between my kitchen and dining room I have three, count them—three bowls full of change, keys, business cards, paper clips, a handful of marbles, screws, nails, and an assortment of washers. At what point did one bowl stop being enough to hold all that stuff? And how did I justify allowing the overflow to fill two more?
On my dining room table is a laundry basket filled halfway with unmatched socks. It’s not a new basket, but one that I’ve carried to and from the laundry room for about 6 months now. I don’t know where the mates have gone, but they’re obviously not coming back.
As I mentally travel through my house I’m quickly realizing that I have enough garbage displayed inside my home to fill two garbage cans. And believe me, these things are just as valuable as Barbie legs.
So this weekend I will purge my home of all trash, trying to encourage my children to do the same.
That, or we’ll have a yard sale.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I’m no Super Nanny or Dr. Spock, and not even on a good day am I Brangelina minus the entourage and airbrushing. That knowledge drove me to Professor D’s parenting class about 6 months ago. And not to point fingers or anything, but he was the one who told me I could send my oldest child to his room and lock him in if he chose not to stay there himself. Which is why, 6 months later, I found myself locked in that same bedroom late one summer night with all three children huddled around me.
I won’t bore you with the ugly details. But I will say that in a moment of parenting desperation I switched the bathroom door knobs with the one in the boys’ room in order to have ultimate parental control by locking the door from the outside. I am mama, hear me roar.
And in my defense, I only had to lock Kaleb in two times before the lock was no longer necessary. Which was why I completely forgot that the boys’ room locked from the outside until Leah accidentally locked us in on her way back from getting a drink.
I shook the door handle. I tried to jimmy the lock with a wire hanger. I even began removing the hinges only to realize I would have to break the door frame in order to get past the lock.
And when I turned around Kaleb was sitting on his bed, arms folded and eyebrows raised. “Trust me,” he said. “We’re never breakin’ out of here.”
No one likes it when bad parenting comes back to thumb its nose at you, and in front of your own children.
“Are we going to die in Kaleb’s room, Mom?” Leah asked, blinking her dewy eyes at me.
No, I thought. We’re going to call Professor D and asked him to get us out of this mess. Only, I didn’t bring my cell phone to tuck my kids into bed.
So I went to the window and looked down the long slope of my metal roof. You might remember that 7 months ago, at Christmas time, I was locked out of my house and stood at the base of my roof trying to determine whether or not I could climb back in.
I took out the screen and straddled the window sill, thinking how much like a slide my metal roof appeared. Getting down will be a snap, I thought. That is, if I weren’t barefoot with a very thick application of Bath & Body Works sheau butter on my feet. This was not an escape plan but a new Olympic event.
I sat there for a few minutes, pondering my options, while Leah stood beside me, gasping periodically and saying something about having to rethink our family fire escape plan.
It was then that I noticed our neighbors, chatting pleasantly in their gazebo. I realized I had two options. One, I could slide down my roof, providing someone the opportunity to take great footage for America’s Funniest Home Videos. Or two, I could ask my neighbors to spring us from our Spiderman-themed prison. It may seem like a no-brainer, but I had to think about it for awhile.
Finally, I called them over.
Five minutes later my lovely neighbor was unlocking the boys’ bedroom door from the outside. She told me my house smelled nice and added, “It’s weird that the door locks that way.”
Weird enough that I lulled my children to sleep that night to the sound of door knobs being put back where they belonged.
And I could swear Kaleb wasn’t snoring but laughing in his sleep.
I’m guessing so were the neighbors.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
This week my doctor took me off Google. That’s right. I am no longer allowed to search the internet for ailments and their freakish causes. And I’ll tell you why.
First, let me preface this column by acknowledging that I have issues. The truth is, if you’ve read more than two posts, you are acutely aware of this fact and have probably laughed unabashedly at my expense, grateful that there are people out there in need of more therapy than you. That’s okay. I’m totally at ease with my dysfunctional self. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. Right, Dr. Phil?
So this is my big issue: I have the tendency to worry. Excessively. Now for some people that would simply be a character flaw. For me it’s an occupation.
For example, just two weeks ago I took Zack to the pediatrician, again. He had been having headaches and instead of assuming it was caused by bad vision, child migraines or even dehydration, I jumped to the frightening conclusion that it was a brain tumor. It wasn’t, but I was more than willing to pay a $20 co-pay to have a doctor say as much.
And while we were there I asked that she check his urine. Frequent trips to the bathroom during church had me assuming, you got it, he also had juvenile diabetes. Not a urine infection or excessive hydration, but juvenile diabetes.
I fondly refer to myself as Worst-Case Scenario Mama. Give me a problem or a symptom and I immediately imagine the worst-case scenario. I’m good at it. If only there were a game show.
My most recent self-induced scare involved a numb toe—my numb toe. For nearly two years the big toe on my left foot has been numb. For nearly two years I had chosen not to worry about it (I was a little preoccupied). But for whatever reason I decided to start worrying three weeks ago. And by worry I mean Google.
Worse than Google is wrongdiagnosis.com. It’s a breeding ground for hypochondriacs. All the worse-case ailments I had imagined were there as well as a handful of conditions I hadn’t even considered. I was in Fright Heaven.
After much internet searching I diagnosed myself with a nearly fatal disease. And regardless of the fact that I’ve never had any medical training, for two and a half weeks I grieved, begging God to let me raise my children into adulthood.
You laugh, but it’s true.
So this week my doctor told me I have a compressed nerve.
“You mean I don’t have a nearly fatal degenerative nerve disease?” I asked.
She cocked her head. “Uhm. No.” she said.
And that’s why I’m no longer allowed to Google my symptoms.
Or my children’s symptoms.
Or the symptoms of my neighbors, friends and family.
Which makes me wonder—what does excessive worrying cause? I bet Google would tell me…
(And no, that doesn’t count. It’s preventative…)
Friday, June 13, 2008
School has been out for approximately 20 days here in Idaho Falls, 19 if you choose not to count Memorial Day. Is it just my children, or is summer a whiny wasteland for all little people under twelve?
I have great kids. Really, I do. But the three of them, together, have bad chemistry. If they’re not fighting, they’re scheming which is never good for me, the lone adult outnumbered by her children. At least when they’re fighting I know where they are and what’s going on. It’s when things become quiet that I start to worry.
In the last two weeks one of more of my children has been grounded for five years, sat on timeout for a total of 164 minutes, flooded the toilet, flooded the bathtub, run down the street in their pajamas, ridden the cat like a donkey, watched Barbie: Mariposa 14 times, quoted inappropriate lines from Monty Python: In Search of the Holy Grail, eaten dirt, gotten lost in the grocery store, started a collection of potato bugs, released and/or killed his sister’s collection of potato bugs, and wacked her brother on the head with a broom.
In response to the list above, I have said each of the following at least once in the last 20 days of summer:
Don’t hit/kick/bite/scratch/pinch/touch/look at/spit at/tease your brother/sister.
Go apologize to your brother/sister.
Give that back to him/her.
Don’t talk to your brother/sister that way.
Don’t talk to me that way.
Sit on timeout.
Do you want to go to your room?
What did you just say?
What’s in your mouth?
Don’t roll your eyes at me, Mister!
We don't go outside naked.
You don’t know where that’s been.
Flush the toilet.
Parents, it's gonna be a great summer! All 49 and a half days of it.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and thanks for reading!
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Yesterday was my birthday. I know, I know. Happy Birthday to me. But this post isn’t about how old I’m getting (hallelujah!). It’s about the most bizarre and disturbing experience I’ve had…ever, I think.
I was picking my kids up from my MIL’s house when they informed me I wasn’t allowed inside yet. They were still preparing my “surprise” party. So I stood outside and held Zack, swaying him back and forth while singing in his ear.
It was then that this old man approached us and started talking. I couldn’t understand what he was saying at first; it was obvious that he had a senility thing going on. I just assumed he was telling me how adorable my son is, because, well, he is. See?
But that’s not what he was trying to say at all. He began speaking with more urgency, and after this awkward moment where he told me I needed to call the duck, he found his words and began terrifying me beyond belief.
This is where I need to stop, mid-story, and explain how utterly Panic-Happy I am. Yes, Panic-Happy is a condition and I have it. If I, in one weak moment, can imagine something bad happening, I make it my divine responsibility to start worrying about the possibility of the bad thing happening. For example, Zack has been having headaches lately. Perhaps four in the last 6 weeks—not a huge amount, but enough to get this Worse-Case Scenario Mama on task. I’ve imagined all the horrible things that might be causing aforementioned headaches. I won’t list them here because typing them out may cause me to hyperventilate and pass out before completing this post. On with the story…
By that time my MIL had come outside and was trying to help me end the conversation with the crazy man. Come to find out he didn’t want me to call a duck; he was insisting I call a doctor, because, he informed me, Zack was dying. And he didn’t stop insisting. He had remembered all the words necessary to tell me, over and over again, that God had informed him my son would die unless I got him to a doctor, immediately. He followed me into the house and my MIL called the police.
This is where I must interrupt, yet again, to say that this is the point at which I began to have a panic attack. What if this guy could read Zack’s energy and knew something I didn’t? What if the death sentence he envisioned was somehow connected to those disturbing headaches? What if all those movies with the slightly insane yet incredibly prophetic characters who could save countless people if they could only get past the slightly psycho exterior were being replayed in my MIL’s livingroom? I actually considered picking Zack up and taking him to the emergency room right then and there, leaving my MIL to deal with the crazy man. But what would I tell them? “This crazy man said my son’s dying and I need you to look into that for me.”
After about 10 agonizing minutes with this man insisting on Zack’s death and frightening Kaleb and Leah beyond belief while I stood between them shaking uncontrollably, the policeman arrived.
Long story short, the policeman got the crazy man home and his caretakers promised to suspend his walks. And I finally stopped shaking.
But for whatever reason, having someone tell you that your son is dying, even if that someone’s presence of mind is questionable, is a disturbing experience. Last night was long and uncomfortable. Thankfully in the light of day the old man seemed less prophetic and more lost. And Zack, I’m happy to announce, is still very much alive.
Mama? She be needing some therapy.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
After seven weeks in Weight Watchers I have lost a total of 20.2 pounds. Fabulous, right? The only problem is that my face, which was once pudgy and prime, is slowly deflating. At first this wasn’t a problem until I realized that the fat had actually been stuffing my wrinkles, eliminating them altogether. As the skin settles closer to my skull, it’s beginning to pucker and sag. I’m becoming svelte, slender, and shriveled. It’s hugely disappointing.
I first noticed this while driving my car. As I looked into the rearview mirror I noticed a distinct line between my eyes. I thought it was a stray eyebrow hair and immediately tried to remove it. It was no hair. It was a deep-set wrinkle! You’ve heard all those smartypants newscasters warn about how stress causes premature aging? Turns out they’re right. All those years I furrowed my brow with worry and anxiety have permanently scarred my forehead.
When I lived in Japan my friends used to slap my forehead whenever I furrowed my brow. They warned that if I did that enough, like crossing my eyes, it would eventually stay that way. You don’t believe things like that when you’re 21. But I tell you what—it’s been fifteen years and I believe them. If only they’d wacked more sense into me.
My friend told me that some women scotch-tape their foreheads when they’re home to prevent brow-furrowing like a poor woman’s Botox. Sadly, for me, it’s too late for that.
But it turns out that happiness causes just as many wrinkles. I curse my mother for extolling the virtues of a healthy smile. I now have jowl lines and crow’s feet as evidence of all my virtue– a thing that didn’t preoccupy me much before I began losing weight. I’m just praying my skin still has enough elasticity to bounce back. That or I’m counting on modern science to develop the technology where the skin from my children’s buttocks can be grafted onto my face. Considering all the skin they’ve stretched out in other areas, I figure they owe me a cheek or two.
I guess the moral of the story is, keep your expressions consistent. Either furrow or smile, but don’t do both. And apparently you shouldn’t sleep on your face or put your eye makeup on with your pointer finger—it’s too strong. The ring finger is best suited for that, being weak and all. I know, I’m learning all these beauty tips a little late in the game. But 20 pounds ago, I could apply makeup with the palm of my hand and sleep with all three children on my face. The sacrifices you make to be thin.
So I’m opting for old. That’s all there is to it. And if my skin doesn’t bounce back, at least I’ll have my skinny jeans (okay, okay—size 11 jeans). That and I’m still banking on the skin-grafting.
Monday, May 19, 2008
You know how I can tell it’s spring? Whatever has been rotting in my van all winter long begins to thaw out and smell. Very bad. And the longer the winter the worst the smell. So I’m sure you can imagine my van is very “ripe” this season.
Unfortunately there’s been more hibernating in my van than a foul odor. The floor is littered with backpacks, winter coats, Happy Meal toys, fruit rollup wrappers, empty DVD cases, and dirty, wadded-up socks, to name a few things I can identify. I won’t ruin your day with descriptions of what I can’t.
We could travel across the states and my children would have a set of clothes, a lap full of toys, and enough stale French fries to make it to Nebraska. Not to mention each time the door would open and close we’d leave something behind, a sorry cross between the Clampetts and Hansel and Gretel.
And I’ll blame it all on my seven-year old son who sits in the backseat alone, eating leftovers from his Superman lunchbox and apparently wadding up his dirty socks and throwing them on the floor. Is he the only culprit? Of course not, but do you think I write this blog to take ALL the blame?
It’s not as if we haven’t tried to clean the van. In fact, to our credit, it’s been clean on several occasions. It’s stayed clean all of two hours, but it has been clean.
Sadly we are not the only ones who have had to tolerate our messy van. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I babysit my friend’s daughters who are expected to clear themselves a seat and endure drives to and from the elementary school. One of the girls has taken to asking her mother everyday if she’ll be traveling in my van because she needs to mentally prepare for the ride.
My friend informed me that my vehicle isn’t the only one that disgusts her daughter. But does that really make me feel any better? Okay, maybe a little.
I find that after I clean my van I become militant mom, ordering kids to leave their little toys and treat bagies at home. But once a fight erupts I’ll allow them to drag anything in there, short of a llama (and even that’s negotiable), to ensure a peaceful drive.
And lest you think the inside of my van is the only thing lacking, let me explain to you what one cold winter did to my bumper. The poor thing cracked and then started dragging on the ground. For an entire year we had the only minivan in Idaho Falls with a bumper held into place with duct tape. You remember that, right? Thankfully I ran over a really big rock (ahem!) and the bumper fell off. My friends and family all agree my van looks much better without it.
So in our family we celebrate spring by fumigating our minivan. And this year we were able to cap the celebration by burying our bumper.
Maybe next spring I can drive the whole thing to the dump and leave it there.
Really. Will they let me do that?
In my defense, this post was written before I cleaned out my minivan. My family is visiting this weekend and I couldn’t stand the thought of my mother feeling obligated to clean it while she was here. And it’s sad, really, how accustomed my children had become with minivan squalor. Since cleaning it out last Friday, every time Kaleb gets in he will pet one of the seats in admiration and say, “Mom, the van is so clean,” almost with the same reverence as “Mom, it’s a miracle.”
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
We’ve spent considerable time teaching our children their phone number and address in case they ever get lost and have to tell the nice policeman where they belong. And just last week my daughter demonstrated acute recall ability when she began handing out said phone number to little boys in her kindergarten class.
How do I know this? One of said boys called two afternoons ago while my daughter was with her grandmother. Our conversation went something like this:
Little Rico Suave: Hi. Is Leah there? This is Little Rico.
Me: She’s with her grandmother.
LRS: Could she play at my house later?
LRS: I’ll call back later.
Me: 10 years from now would be good.
When I confronted my daughter she informed me that Little Rico wasn’t a boyfriend. And as any child springing from my loins is wont to do, she turned the conversation into a semantic debate. She explained, “I took the word ‘boy’ and ‘friend’ apart. I told Little Rico that he’s my friend who’s a boy. Not my ‘boyfriend’.” Does she think I fell off the turnip truck? Like that excuse wasn’t around a kazillion years ago when I was in elementary school?
I reminded her that she wouldn’t be talking to boys, distributing her phone number to boys, or going over to play with the Little Rico’s of the world until she was twenty three. Reasonable, right? She pouted.
That night I called Little Rico’s mom and told her that I had not intended for my 5-year old to give her phone number to little boys. The mother agreed, bemoaning this fast-paced generation where kids hook up over their preschool snacks. Apparently she wasn’t so keen on my daughter giving her phone number up so easily. Did she just call my daughter a floozy? No matter. This would all soon be in the past.
The next day I asked Leah if she had informed Little Rico Suave that she is not allowed to give her phone number to boys. She told me she had but complained, “He said he didn’t care what you say. He’s going to call again anyway.” I imagined this five-year old boy defending his love for my daughter passionately, calling outside her window, “LEEEEE-ah” in a very Stella-esque manner.
A warning about this had not been distributed in my parenting materials.
I told my daughter our address wasn’t up for grabs either.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Here’s what happened:
This morning I went to drop my kids off at school, determined to remain calm regardless of the chaos that is “get ready for school.” Kaleb and Leah began fighting over who would open the door. Kaleb opened it, Leah closed it and tried reopening it only to be cut off by her brother. And since I couldn’t reach the door myself, this happened one more time before the car behind us honked. I told my children they needed to get out. Now.
Disoriented by the honking, both my dear, dear children seemed to forget how to open the van altogether, so I opened my door, walked over to their side and opened it for them. By this time a string of cars had backed up behind us and the Honker was giving me the exaggerated shoulder shrug. I sent my kids off, finally, and went to get back into my car.
Guess what? It was locked. And all my knocking on the window didn’t rouse Zack from his car seat. I looked back at the Honker apologetically only to be given the I’m-not-going-to-kill-you-now-because-we’re-in-public look . Finally the girl I babysit undid her seatbelt and opened my door to which the woman behind me revved her engine. I was tempted to go back and check for her tread marks.
Really. Why the impatience? Is the car honking, fist shaking and general glaring really necessary? Did she think I was watching TV and eating breakfast in my van, thumbing my nose at her and all the cars waiting behind her? I understand that people are in a hurry, and I’ve had my own hasty frustrations, but can’t we just assume that people are doing the best they can?
Or it is my turn to feel bad for her because, apparently, things upset her fairly easily. That or she was having a bad day, only exacerbated by the hold up. So this is where I take my lesson to the Honker and turn it back on myself. I'm just going to assume that she was doing the best she could, and let it go.
Okay. Now I'm over it.