Thursday, January 31, 2008

Too Sexy for My Boots

Take a gander at Idaho Falls standard-issue winter footwear. Fabulous, right? Sexy, no?


Not at all.

I got these nearly a year ago after realizing that shoveling the sidewalk in fuzzy slippers wasn’t working for me. Those toes? Kinda like to keep ‘em. Call it a foot fetish.

But the other night at my parenting class (I’ll save that for another post) I saw a woman in fancy black boots, with heels. How she got from her car to the class without falling on her keister, I’ll never know. Me? I require Michelin-like treads on the bottom on my boots in order to make it up my front steps.

How do women manage to look fabulous in inclement weather?

Not only am I a jean-and-t-shirt kinda girl, I’m a clutz. So wearing heels of any kind, even in summer, becomes an exercise in staying alive. I avoid it. But maybe I could sport a more feminine boot next year.

One not so Sasquatch.

Any suggestions?

A view of an Idaho Falls' winter from my front door.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Broken Pipes, Part II

It wouldn’t be fair for me not to share the rest of this story, because it does have a happy ending.

About five minutes after I turned the water main off (the point at which I had decided the camel was indeed dead), the Primary President (Mormon Lingo Alert--MLA) called to ask me about my plans for the quarterly activity (MLA). I must have had that I’m-having-a-nervous-breakdown lilt to my voice because she asked, “Are you okay?” To which I immediately broke down into a weepy mess. Of course she asked if there was anything she could do. Of course I made light of the situation and told her I’d just call a plumber. (Note: she later brought me pizza and salad for dinner because, “what can you make without access to water?”)

About five minutes after hanging up the phone, it rang yet again. This time it was a member of the bishopric (MLA) who said, and I quote, “I heard you’re having a bad day.” Now this is what I know about women having bad days. When anyone asks how we’re doing with any amount of sympathy we cry (forgive me for the gross generalization). I don’t know what it is, but after having my pipes break I’ve decided it works much like a water main shutoff, only in reverse. I cried. He came over.

About five minutes after this bishopric member climbed into the crawl space of my home, we discovered that while the water could have sprayed anywhere, it did NOT land on the exposed sheetrock under the stairs. It sprayed up onto the stairs and then dripped back onto the concrete floor below. Not only that, but I caught the leak shortly after it had sprung, so there was very little water on the aforementioned concrete. All in all I was lucky. Or blessed, depending on your perspective (I’m going with blessed, because, gosh, it makes me feel good).

So this bishopric member was able to apply a temporary patch to my broken pipe so I could turn the water back on. He also called me once a day until Sunday to see if everything was okay.

Now on Friday I called two plumbers and left messages (apparently there was a rash of broken pipes in the Idaho Falls area, making local plumbers very rich. Er, busy. I meant, busy.). No one called me back.

Fast forward to Saturday morning when my friend and her husband show up to take a look at my broken pipe. After taking a gander he decides to go to Lowe’s, purchase a torch (and whatever else one purchases with a torch) in order to sauder my pipe into working order. They go to Lowe’s where they find an easy fix (cut off the pipe – because it just connects to an outdoor spicket we don’t use anyway -- and plug it with what’s called a “shark’s bite”). Now before they knew this project would only take 15 minutes to complete, they were willing to spend their entire Saturday morning torching and saudering so that I wouldn’t have to pay a plumber. Sweet, right?

What I’ve learned:

1. The Mormon grapevine is fast and effective
2. Nice people rule!
3. I’ll be looking for the opportunity to bless someone else’s life the same way, because really, it can make all the difference in the world.

So I guess that means my camel was just playing possum. I love it when that happens!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An open memo to the handsome Sonic drive-thru guy

First, I must say your customer service was impeccable. You were enthusiastic and friendly as you took my order for a Route 44. And even though it was not required, you still gave me a tasty mint to go with my drink. But, attractive and well-mannered young Sonic worker, as you man the window of this great American drive-thru, could you please not call me ma’am? I understand that my bumperless mini-van (yes, I lost the bumper shortly after Christmas, although patches of duck tape remain), permanent furrowed brow, and frumpy attire completely warranted this courteous greeting. But FYI, it totally killed my Sonic buzz.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Camel Is Dead

It was the pipe. And this is what happened.

I was taking Leah and Zack upstairs for naps when I heard what sounded like a fan. A hissing fan. A hissing fan with a bad case of rabies.

I looked at the wall curiously for approximately 5 seconds before I realized what was going on. That’s when I freaked. out.

I can’t remember where I went first. To the garage where I could access the pipes and see the water flow? To the basement where I knew the water main shut-off was? Or upstairs to puzzle over which toiletry appliance was causing me grief? And this is when I started to swear. Sorry, gentle readers. I know you expect more from me. But I said the “S” word (if my kids were reading this they would say, “You said ‘stupid’?” Unfortunately, no. That’s not what I said). I said the OTHER “S” word. over. and. over. again. So really it sounded like I was saying “Sh-h-h-h-h-h-h…” [Aside: In case anyone has been performing research on whether or not swearing helps in stressful situations, I’m here to report. No. It does not. I will, however, have to explain why my youngest child shares this new word in primary on Sunday, telling his teacher that it means, and I quote, “the uncontrollable flow of water under the stairs in our house”.]

Back to the broken pipe.

I was finally able to turn off the water main and ponder this unpleasant situation. I thought, This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. But then I thought again, That camel’s back broke three straws ago. This is the fanny-pack full of quarters that killed the damn camel. Again, gentle readers, I apologize. But really, who needs a camel anyway?

My friend from church told me to pray for help. I told her I didn’t believe I qualified for divine intervention unless and until I repented for all that swearing. Or maybe that’s what she wanted me to pray about. (Now I have to call her back to find out.)

So the pipe has been patched. And I've called a plumber. And every moment since I've been begging forgiveness. –That and expressing thanks that the ex is not dating a model.

Because that would really suck.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

When it Snows, it Blizzards

Let’s say you’ve been having a bad week. Let’s imagine you freelance for a living and need a few hours everyday sans children to write. Let’s imagine the public school system and a good babysitter provide you with just that. Now let’s imagine that on Tuesday the wind chill factor is such that school gets cancelled. Now let’s imagine that because your youngest child throws up on the way to the sitter’s on Wednesday you don’t get much work done (now two days running). Let’s imagine it’s now Thursday and you are sick along with your little boy.

What do you imagine happens next?

a. Your other two children throw up at school and must come home.
b. The extreme cold causes a pipe in your home to burst.
c. Your ex starts dating a model.
d. You win a million dollars through Ed McMann’s Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes.

So what do you think really happened? While I’m not giving prizes to people who guess correctly, reading your responses just might cheer me up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Taking a Load off – 20 Loads of Laundry, To Be Exact

Last weekend my sister Denise and cousin Lusina came to help me paint my playroom. Only I had a nervous breakdown and they ended up doing my laundry instead. And I promise—I didn’t pull a bait and switch. For weeks I had been looking forward to a DIY girls weekend. But it had been a tough week and on the day they were scheduled to arrive I called my sister blathering on like a nutcase (I’m not sure she could even understand me—I couldn’t even understand me). And you know what? They came anyway. They came, they saw, they kicked my laundry room’s butt.

I once overheard someone say that one person could never make a difference in the world. All I can say is that although my sister and cousin didn’t establish world peace last weekend, spending 48 hours worth of their time and energy on my laundry changed my perspective and changed my life when I most needed it (thus positively impacting the lives of three wonderful children). And I am proud to announce that for nearly 11 days I have kept up on my laundry. (I now LOVE going into my basement where I can see the floor and make my way to the washing machine without taking out my repelling gear).

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference we can make in another’s life. Here are a few more thoughtful gestures that have eased my burdens:

My bishop (the ecclesiastical leader of our local church) gets out his snow-blower every time we get more than a couple inches of snow. He clears the sidewalk on his entire block, the block across the street from his house, and then the sidewalk in front of my house and my neighbor’s (on yet another block).

My sisters and mother got me a very generous gift certificate to ShopCo Optical so that I could get the new glasses and contacts I’ve needed for more than three years.

Realizing that today’s “snow” day (really more of a COLD
day—25-degrees-below-zero COLD) had left me with little freelance time, a friend
of mine came and took Kaleb and Zack to her house so I could write sans children.

A week before Christmas we opened our front door to discover that an anonymous Secret Santa had gotten all of us gifts (including a $50 giftcard to WalMart).

My ex husband’s great uncle has gotten us firewood twice this winter (without being asked or taking one penny in return).

I could go on and on. And I’m not trying to brag about how attentive people have been to my needs. I’m just grateful to all those individuals who recognized that I was going through a tough time and needed a little help. It also excites me that one person, in doing just one little deed, can make a world of difference in another’s life. I love the idea of Paying It Forward. Consider the impact those six great deeds have had on me and my ever watchful children? And if I can respond by reaching out to others, and they can respond by doing the same, imagine the ripple effect.

And I’ve yet to encounter a more supportive and generous environment than the blogosphere. So for those of you curious as to the nature of my next contest, it will have something to do with this post. Give me just a little bit more time to orchestrate a fabulous prize.

Until then, sweet dreams!

My Daily Dose

Karen over at Pediscribe has nominated me for this fabulous award!

Xander, creator of this award, had this to say about it: This little award is called The Daily Dose - and here is all the important info to tell you what it is about and where it came from. This is a tribute to all the blogs that you’ve discovered that you can’t possibly live without. They make you laugh, cry, think and feel connected every time you read a post. They give you a thrill as you see them loading into your browser and you get an equally satisfying thrill when you see that they have commented on your blog.

Thanks so much for that, Karen. It means a lot to know I'm someone's daily dose! And now to spread the love. While I've been a deliquent blogger of late when I do sit down to blog I have a few daily doses of my own. Many of you have become good friends and I feel like reading your blog is like checking in, having a chat, learning something new. Here are my daily doses:

  • Life in the Nuthouse -- aside from being my sister-in-law, Erin's just darn funny!
  • Like a Star -- I'm not sure how I stumbled on Rachel's blog, but she's great and I love to hear what's going on in her neck of the woods.
  • Gustogirl -- Gustogirl is Rachel's sister, so I know how I found her blog, but she has kids about my kids' age and I love hearing how a rational woman parents (I need all the help I can get).
  • A Life of Triggers -- Eileen is such a sweet blogger and I have to check in to see how she's
  • I Can Fly, Just Not Up --Heather has become a BBF (Best Blogger Friend). She is genuine, warm, and compassionate. The girl doesn't just post comments to my blog, she emails
    to see how I'm doing!
  • The Daily Knack -- I've recently become a regular to Lindsey's blog. And if you really want a laugh, visit her husband's blog the Daily Rebuttal.

There are sooooo many blogs I love to visit so I hate narrowing it down. So go spread the love, ladies--everyone should be a daily dose!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A little court-ordered fun

Yesterday I went to a court-ordered co-parenting class with my soon-to-be ex-husband. And lest you suspect otherwise, it was actually quite pleasant. Like taking a nice warm bath. With a blow-dryer.

For those of you unfamiliar with divorce in the state of Idaho (May you always stay that way, amen.) all couples with children who are getting divorced are required to attend this co-parenting class. Not only that but you are scheduled to take this class together. So imagine, if you will, a room full of divorcing couples. And not just a room, but a courtroom full of divorcing couples (because apparently, the classroom they use for traffic school is unavailable). Needless to say there was nary a warm-fuzzy in that place.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with registration because you must first stand in line to pay for this court-ordered co-parenting class. That’s when amidst the giggles issuing forth from the conversation behind us I heard the most unusual pickup line ever:

“Is this your first time taking this class?”

The couple was obviously not familiar enough with one another to be getting divorced. The only alternative was they were flirting in the registration line. I have just one thing to say about that: Ew.

Okay, back to the class. Let me just say if that class had a prom, the ex and I would have been voted King and Queen. Not because we were the most attractive couple in the room, but we seemed to get along the best. We sat together and everything. I know; we’re fabulous. But honestly, how tough could the competition be? At break there was an argument between a couple because one had opted to sit apart from the other. After which one soon-to-be ex-spouse gave a passionate monologue about the ridiculous nature of a co-parenting class in which the couples are required to attend together.

Can’t we just all get along?

So you can see, it wasn’t that bad. Add to that the video where Carl Malone gave parenting advice and you have an evening totally worth the $35 registration fee. That and the ex and I are feeling pretty good about ourselves right now.

All things considered, does that mean we passed?

Monday, January 14, 2008

And the winner is...

You guys are good, I gotta say. And I had lots of favorites, including (but not limited to) Zellmer's "See Dad. I told you this Power Ranger shirt is a chic magnet." Rachel's "Ladies, ladies. There's enough man here for everyone." Eileen's "KALEB STRIKES GOLD IN SAN FRANCISCO." And how could I not like Shawn's "DAD !!! How can you even THINK these girls are prettier than MOM???" But I have to say my absolute favorite was Candygirlflies':

"HELP ME!! My sister's barbies have COME ALIIIIIIIVE!!"

So Heather, I'll be emailing you to get you your Amazon giftcard.

Thanks, everyone, for playing. This was a lot of fun and it's gotten me thinking about another great contest I'd like to try -- so stay tuned for the details.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Up in the Night's First Contest!

I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. I got this idea from Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and I think it’s a great way to let all of you know how much I appreciate you reading my lil o’ blog. I’ve got this picture and I want you to write a caption for it. While I may not be able to give you a $500 gift certificate to Best Buy, I can offer you a $25 Amazon card. Yippee!

So here’s the backstory. Mid-summer, shortly after the soon-to-be exHub and I separated, he took Kaleb to California to watch a couple football games. After returning he handed me the digital camera and lamented that he hadn’t taken many pictures. I forgot about said pictures until uploading the frozen pumpkin to my computer. I found this:
It was the first of about 5 pictures and was by far the most interesting. It represents my son’s first encounter with cheerleaders—and San Francisco 49’er cheerleaders, nonetheless. So here you go—post your caption for this picture in a comment to this post by Sunday the 13th, noon (MST) to get a shot at the Amazon gift card. Anyone can enter and one lucky blogger will win! I feel all Publisher’s Clearinghouse…

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

In which post Shauna gets over it

Okay, so not really, but it was good to vent and now I’m moving on, post-wise that is. Thanks so much for all the great advice—it has been incorporated into my action plan. Following my dear mother’s suggestion I put my kids to bed early Sunday night, took a long, hot bath, and got a little me-time (see Suburban Correspondent's comment). Meds (St. John’s Wart chased with some B complex—for starters [thanks, Carrie and Karen from Pediascribe] – as suggested by my lovely pharmacist sister, Jen) to commence on Wednesday. If that doesn’t work I’ll be trying the stronger stuff. Thanks Tola (Mom and my brother Jason) for volunteering to help me fold laundry--there are no better friends than those willing to brave my dirty clothes. Thanks also to the exHub who brought me a Diet Coke and chocolate after reading the post in which I vented and felt sorry for myself (How's that for amicable?) And I do so solemnly swear to move forward one 3x3 inch square at a time (thanks, Shawn).

You couldn’t be more fabulous, dear readers. I’m trying to think up some way to show you have much I appreciate your fabulousness. Stay tuned!

And just a few things that have made me happy as of late. My sister Jen sent me these:
Aren’t they beautiful? All yellow and cheerful (with lemon slices in the vase—appropriate, no?).

And here’s the new purse my mom got me for Christmas—proof that she picks the best fabric for my purses (I LOVE IT, MOM!).

If any of you are interested in these purses visit Designs by Jamie who made all the purses showcased here and here.

And that’s it for today although I started a “Parenting with Love and Logic” class last night which I’m sure will inspire many a future post. Kaleb also got glasses so I’ve got to share the before and after pictures. But Leah’s home sick today so I’ve got to mother and stuff.

Thanks again, everyone. You’re a force to be reckoned with; you did indeed help me better manage my stress and depression.

Love to you all!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

In which post Shauna vents and feels sorry for herself

Sorry, folks, but I gotta to do it, and I’m warning you now so you can click the back button before it gets ugly. There. I said it. Carry on if you don’t want to hear my sorry whine. It won't hurt my feelings. I promise.

Being a single mom sucks. A lot. Surprised? Of course I knew that going in, but the energy required to parent my children alone in the quiet corners of the house, make money to pay bills, and live through some days without talking to one adult is tiring. The silly thing is I knew all that before my very-very-soon-to-be exhub and I separated. But it’s been 6 long months of living it and I’m flirting with a nervous breakdown. Most days I feel like I’ve got it together, but every now and then I’m begging someone to fit me in a straight jacket, load me with meds, and place me in a padded cell for 6 weeks.

The holidays were hard. And that seems an odd statement for me to make because it was a great time. The exhub and I shared a very pleasant Christmas and New Year’s with the kids, but a part of me was wishing I could catapult myself from my own life and land nicely in someone else’s.

I’ll own all my choices. I still believe they are the best ones for me and mine. I freelance from home because it affords me the ability to be with my kids as much as possible. What this job doesn’t provide me with is sick leave and vacation time, insurance benefits, or a guaranteed check every two weeks. So maybe my little pity party right now is directly proportional to the days I tried enjoying Christmas break with my children. The days I didn’t make as much writing.

And have I mentioned that I’m a worry wort? The two things that preoccupy my days are my children and my freelance. It seems I can't manage much else. My basement is full of unwashed clothes, my dining room table is lined with exactly 6 bins of clean, unfolded laundry, and I can't keep two rooms of my house clean at any given time. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always had what I consider a domestic disability, but now I’m messy-squared and that can wear on a woman balancing on the cusp of a police-escorted ambulance ride to the local psych-ward, a la Britney Spears.

So there you have it. Four paragraphs full of Shauna’s very own private (okay, not true) pity party. Sorry guys. It was either that or I was going to wave down Mr. Crazy and ask him to stay at my house for awhile. So far this has kept him at bay.

Thanks for humoring me. I’m sure things will look better in the morning…

Friday, January 04, 2008

One Mother’s Conspiracy Theory

I don’t want to be an alarmist or anything, but our children are plotting to take over the world. Or maybe it’s just my children. Either way, you should be very, very afraid.

Just today they conspired against me in the grocery store. We were there for an hour, and for 45 minutes they were complete angels. And I’ll tell you why. If they behave themselves while I’m grocery shopping, we’ll go down the toy aisle before we hit the register. It’s my rule, and it’s always worked for me. Until today.

Those little devils waited until we were walking away from their reward to turn on me. That’s right. Like one of those game simulations that changes strategy based on your choices, these kids were organized, conspiring, and downright tricky.

I had followed Dr. Phil to the letter. I discovered their “currency” (i.e. toy aisle) and used it to leverage the situation to my advantage, only to be bamboozled in the last 15 minutes of our errand. I tell you—today the grocery story, tomorrow the world.

The real mutiny began at the checkout and didn’t end until we reached the van. One or more of them did each of the following: man-handled the bank displays, took a ride on the merry-go-round that is WalMart’s bag dispenser, shoved a baby bottle pop up their nose, threw up outside the store (three times), tried to ice skate in the parking lot while holding onto the shopping cart (only to upend the cart and run over her baby brother who screamed like his toes had been severed in the process).

Not to get all Chicken-Little on you, but I’ve decided children are conniving and smarter than us. Or maybe they’re just smarter than me. Either way, I am very, very afraid.

How many of your children could hack a computer faster than you could pay your bills online? Or skateboard through the mall before you could pull up your nylons? Or text three chapters of War and Peace before you could figure out how to program your VCR?

So while everyone’s trying to decide who to elect for president, how to go green or establish world peace, I’ll be keepin’ my eyes on the little buggers.

The world, people, I’m warning you.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Pumpkin's Slow, Cold Death

I may not have hung Christmas lights this year, but I left some of our Halloween decorations out to compensate. Here's Kaleb's poor Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pumpkin. We will miss you Leonardo.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Post Christmas Day Crash, or as I like to call it “Good Riddance 2007!”

Yep, that’s right. That says “crash” not “bash.” Because Christmas wasn’t exciting enough for the Belknap family, I had to get into a car accident two days later. Here’s how it went down.

I was taking Kaleb to the dentist. The van was nearly out of gas and I was less than 5 yards from Conoco when I tried to slow down.

Let me pause for a moment to describe the Winter Wonderland that is Idaho Falls. For those of you dreaming of a white Christmas—your dream came true—in my area code. Over the Christmas break I’m going to estimate we got approximately 6 feet of snow (and for those readers from Idaho Falls, you and I both know that number’s probably closer to three, but we’re going for effect here, people. Run with me on this one). And in spite of all this snow, by December 27th few of the side roads had been plowed, and the main road I was traveling had probably not been plowed as much as it had been talked about in the plowmen’s breakroom (effect, people!).

So back to my story. When I went to slow down for that gas station, my brakes locked and I began to skid into what looked like a 2007 Ford Taurus, color Merlot. Now hindsight is 20/20 so I can tell you now that I should have either 1) hit the Ford Taurus (Their bumper looked pretty hearty and could have withstood my 10 mile/hr skidding speed – although my bumper would have done neither of us any good). Or 2) turned into the curb to my right. Of course I went with #3, or as I like to call it “stupid”; I turned into the left lane.

Lucky for me the left lane was NOT oncoming traffic, although there was someone clipping along at an insane speed who WASN’T watching for stupid drivers picking option #stupid in their first skid of the winter season. He hit my door, right at the hinge and knocked out his headlight in the process. (At least he was in a '91 Toyota Tercel...)

That’s when Kaleb perked up from the backseat. “Were we just in an accident?” he asked. “Did we just crash? Wow, that was cool. Lucky I was in my seatbelt. I could have died!” He was far more excited about the event than I, let me tell you.

The kicker is, in the time I spent idling in wait for Mr. IFPD, my van ran out of gas. I coasted into the gas station and had to be pushed up to the pump. As if getting in a car accident, holding up traffic for 20 minutes, and having my son narrate the entire experience wasn’t momentous enough, I had to top it off with an empty gas tank. Brilliant!

It’s been less than one week since we “survived” said accident (at least that’s how Kaleb’s describing it) and I have to tell you, while not pretty and definitely not my year-end of choice I have to say it suits 2007 well.

Bring it, 2008. Because you and I both know you’re bound to be a helluva lot better than last year.

Happy New Year, blogworld!