Thursday, January 20, 2011

Elliptical Dreams

Does this elliptical make my butt look big?
I want an elliptical.  A nice, inexpensive, calorie-burnin’, exercise while netflickin’, slimin’ and tonin’ machine.  

I am convinced it is the cure for the extra donk in my badonkadonk.  

So I have been scouring Craiglist and the MoneySaver for a deal, and in my mind, securing this elliptical is the same as squeezing my badonk into a pair of skinny jeans. I know my thinking is flawed, but please allow me to have my moment of delusion.  I deserve that much.

It was in working through aforementioned flawed logic that I realized exactly the type of person I am.  

I am the person who thinks that buying a bunch of plastic bins and hanging file folders is as good as organizing my home. 

I am the person who feels that renting a post hole digger is the same as installing a fence.  

I am the person who believes that making a to-do list is just as good as checking it off.

I am also the person who prays for the invention of a calorie-free cheesecake, although that’s totally unrelated to this post.

So, I’m trying to be completely mature and commit to being all healthy and stuff before I find my magic elliptical.  And that’s why I’m currently thinking about committing to eating healthy and exercising before I actually find it, although that really sounds like just a lot of work.  Not like my magic elliptical which will make burning thousands of calories a day easy cheesy.  

By the way, I’m also on the lookout for a walking broom that will do my laundry and a unicorn that will help with yard work.  Thank you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why I Love Facebook

I have decided that there are half a dozen Facebook camps.  I could break them down into genus and species (one includes those closet farmers who long to live the rural dream), but I’m sure I’d lose about half my friends in the process.  

I’m in the unfortunate camp that believes Facebook IS a viable social life (currently my only social life, thank you very much).  This means I change my status at least once a day and comment on a handful of others before nightfall.  I know at least half the other camps will collectively roll their eyes at me, but to them I say, I y’am what I y’am, virtually.

So you won’t be surprised to discover that I had an imaginary conversation via Facebook this week with the 3-Day Weekend.   And this is exactly why I love Facebook.  I posted a fairly innocuous status:

3-day weekend,
May you include lots of sleep, pizza, recreational basketball viewing, and non-argumentative playtime with kids.
Pretty please?

It wasn’t even very creative, but in less than 20 minutes I got this response:

Dear Shauna,
More like ecstatic joy on Friday, grumbling about chores on Saturday, whining and sulking at church on Sunday, and then constant bickering with each other and the cry of, "But THEY'RE going to the movies, why can't WE?" until the blessed hour of bedtime. Just thought you needed a little reality check there.
Love, the 3-Day Weekend. *smooch*

In this comment, the 3-Day Weekend is played by my friend, Sharon, a classmate from my days at BYU-Hawaii.  She is so witty that sometimes my eyes sting just from reading her comments.  I wasn’t nearly as quick with my reply, which, now that I look at it, is lame-O.  

Dear 3-Day Weekend,

I'm just not that into you.


And the conversation continued until we both spontaneously combusted.  No, really.

Dear Shauna,
I'm always here for you anyway. At least, whenever the teachers at your kids' school decide that they can't stand your kids for ONE MORE DAY and take a vacay. I'm afraid I'll stalk you until your youngest is in college. Bwa-ha-ha-ha.
Love, The 3-Day Weekend.

Dear 3-day weekend,
I have yet to secure that type of commitment from a single man. Regardless of your perseverance, I find myself attracted to the Boys and Girls Club who open their doors to my fighting children when I am at wit's end (thanks to you). Unfortunately, they are closed on Saturday and Sunday, thus ensuring the grumbling about chores and whining and sulking at church. Read: you suck.

Dear Shauna,
Who do you think inspired the Boys and Girls Club to close on Saturday and Sunday? I have my ways of making people do what I want them to do. I am all powerful. Do not trifle with me.
Love, The 3 Day Weekend.

Dear 3-Day Weekend,
I'm very close to filing a restraining order against your stalking, delusional 72-hour self. We are going to have fun this weekend, whether or not it involves three little straight-jackets (note to self: check etsy for handmade straight-jackets in children's sizes). So there.

Dear Shauna,
Just be grateful that I do not call my cousins to aid me in demolishing your carefully constructed delusions. Spring Break and Memorial Day still want recompense for the joy you had last year. And don't even get me started on how much Presidents' Day wants payback. Remember--it's not the kids who are out to get you--it's us.
The Vacay from Perdition.

Dear 3-day,
You and your inbred cousins can go pester all those families at Disneyland. Already we've had 2 meltdowns, 1 screamfest, 1 public brawl, and 5 'do-you-want-to-spend-the-rest-of-the-weekend-in-your-room?'s. It's only Saturday. I don't know what's in the 3-day weekend water, but it has possessed my children in a Linda-Blair like fashion. I have a dream, 3-day weekend, that my three little children will one day endure a 72-hour time span without teasing, whining, fighting, pouting, crying, or, heaven-willing, one roll of those sassy little eyeballs. Watch your back, Vacay from Perdition, because you have children too. And until we settle the score, all your silly little unofficial holidays will not be safe (yes, April Fools' Day, Grandparents' Day, and International Talk Like a Pirate Day, that would be you).

Dear Shauna,
I do have children of my own. I hereby retract all ill will heretofore either intentionally or unintentionally leveled in your direction and beg for your forgiveness. You are tougher than I am--I am merely a vacation and a lame one, at that. you are Mother. You are invincible. You will Win. My apologies to you and yours, and I will endeavor not to be a pain in the rear from here on out.
Love, Three Day Weedend

Dear 3-day weekend,
Ah shucks. Let's be friends.
xoxo, Shauna

I know what you’re thinking: here are two women with far too much time on their hands.  And to you I say, here are two women looking for a healthy outlet so they don’t place their children in strait jackets and run away to Jamaica.  (By the way, it was Sharon that once pointed out to me, via Facebook, that straight jacket was really strait jacket.  A true friend who also happens to be witty and brilliant.  Back in paradise, her mother was my grammar and semantics instructor, wouldn’t ya know  [Oh, and even after that poignant Facebook lesson, I still spelled it straight jacket in this exchange because I’m, you know, unbrilliant.])

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When Legos Come to Stay: A Photo Essay

Our home has been infiltrated by the Legos.

Like the eighth plague of Egypt, these sharp, minuscule pieces of plastic have assailed and prevailed.  They came in stockings, were disguished as gifts and stoawayed in backpacks and laundry bins on the kids' return from holiday visitation with their dad.  Impartial to gender, they came, fell apart and pierced our fleshy souls (as in the bottoms of our feet, not the metaphysical essence of our beings).  


Girl Legos are different from boy Legos, in case you were wondering (and no, the difference is not discerned by looking at their accessories).  Leah got a pink, white and orange set that can be built into a cute little Victorian home complete with a white picket fence and flower gardenette. 
And apparently, once your girl Legos have been assembled, you are to perform Lego Plays. 
In this story, a young Lego Girl longs for a pony.  

Lego Girl: Oh, Mama, I so wish I could have a pony.
Lego Mama: Well, dear daughter, you know I cannot afford to give you a pony.

Aside: This is called, Art Imitating Life.

Lego Mama: But your birthday is coming up and you do have a rich uncle.  Why don’t you write him a letter?

Aside: This is called Wildly Imaginative and Slightly Disturbing.

Lego Girl does write her rich uncle, and lo and behold, on her 8th birthday, she is given a pony named Patty, because “that’s a good name for a horse.”

Spunk watched the play with anticipation, because in his chubby little hand (how sad I’ll be when those hands stop being chubby) he held some Lego characters of his own, and they were itching for a role.  So when I jokingly said that maybe Sis’s Legos needed a Lego doctor, because they kept falling apart between scenes, Spunk saw his chance. 

Using his best siren voice, he pushed his Lego pirates and Lego truck onto the set.  Like the Marx Brothers, his swashbuckling pirates clambered from their perch, bumping into each other and losing limbs of their own. “We’re the ambulance guys,” they said.  And then, as an afterthought, “To the rescue!”

Because these guys are the rescuing type...
Sis was devastated, because, of course, this meant her Lego Play was ruined.  She retreated into the bathroom and wasn’t to be coaxed out, until, that is, we agreed to watch the production from the beginning and keep our big mouths shut.  
The pony is much loved.  Unfortunately, after some time (perhaps 15 minutes), Lego Girl begins to neglect Lego Dog, Skittles.  There is sadness and confusion.

The play is so engaging that Sport, passing by for a drink of water, becomes intrigued and watches the Lego Play.

Lego Mama confronts Lego Daughter and shares her disappointment in the girl’s behavior when…

Sport: So, is that, like, horse poo?

Sport, Spunk and I lean towards the brown Lego pieces.  I press my lips together because I can feel what’s coming.  But it doesn’t stop the explosive laughter. 

Lego Poo?  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Because I am that mature.

Our promise broken, Sis again retreats to the bathroom only to return to set up the final scene (which includes no lose brown Legos).

 Lego Girl and Lego Mama share a tasty brunch throughout which Lego Girl continually rolls her eyes at everything Lego Mama says.  The End.

Not to be outdone, Sport brings out his completed Lego set—a task that took exactly one day of seclusion in his bedroom.   
This assemblage is unaccompanied by any script or character arc.  It’s simply Endor ‘from that Star Wars movie with the Ewoks.”
And this is my favorite part—because that’s Lego Chewbacca!
And I know what you’re thinking.  What if Chewbacca ate Skittles before stealing Patty from Lego Girl so that he could use her Lego manure as fuel for his dying planet?  What a great sequel, right?  
Someone else will have to coax her out of the bathroom though, because she’s not listening to me anymore.

(I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the eyeroll is the tenth plague of parenthood.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What Medusa and My Naked Body Have in Common

There are some things you can never take back.   Swimwear from which you’ve removed the panty strip, the fruitcake your neighbor gifted over the holidays, that comment about your mother-in-law’s meatloaf and her family’s genetic propensity for lazy eye, and the image of your naked self irreparably burned into the retinas of your oldest offspring.  Yes, gentle readers, my son accidentally walked in on me naked this week, and he shall never be the same.

I think mine is the generation of teenagers whose parents all walked around in their underwear, at least that’s what I’ve gathered from informal research.  When I came home from a night out with friends, I’d have to stick my head in the doorway and call out, “Everyone decent?” before inviting people through the Barnes threshold.  My friends all have similar stories to share, of naked fathers and their robust dashes from the john to their bedrooms, of mothers accidentally flashing neighbor children when answering the front door in beltless robes, and countless potty breaks with gaping bathroom doors.  

All this probably explains my prudery.  Until this week, I’m fairly certain that my children have been spared any full frontals of their mother.  My dashes from the shower to the bedroom are quick and covered.  Any scantily clad trips through my own home are often made to the Mission Impossible themesong, as I duck under windows, peek around corners and hug the walls in order to maintain modesty.  

But sadly, all good things must come to an end.  In my defense, it was his fault.  He was tattletaling, and we all know there’s no reward for that.  Regardless, my 9-year old son walked into the bathroom as I was entering the shower.  In that frightful moment his face elongated around his gaping, oval mouth—I can now guess why Munch’s screamer was screaming.  Like Medusa’s head, my naked self seemed to have turned the kid to stone for a few awkward moments, during which time I cried, over and over again, “Shut the door, shut the door, shut the door…”

For that frozen second I caught myself thinking, This would have been so much better had it happened when you were thin.  To which I realized, can it ever be good to see your naked mother?  Only, I gather, in Greek mythology.

Finally, mercifully, the bathroom door closed.  I quickly put on my robe (secured the belt, of course) and followed him into the bedroom.   He fell on the bed and covered his head with the comforter.  At which point I thought, What do you expect to say, exactly?  “So, you saw me naked? Bummer.”  Or “That’s why you should always knock, mister.”  I bit my tongue on the tempting, “I can’t be held responsible for most of what you saw, because a lot of it is your fault, carrying you around in my womb and all.”

It’s done.  You can’t unring a bell, or in this case, you can’t unsee your naked mother.  He had a tough time meeting my eyes the remainder of the day, and I had a tough time keeping down solid food.  

For any of you that might be interested, his birthday’s coming up, and the poor boy could use a lifetime supply of therapy.  

To his future wife I say, “I have effectively lowered his expectations.” And, “You’re welcome.”

Sunday, January 09, 2011

New Year's Column

I know it's a little late, but here's my New Year's column.  I'm currently hatching this fabulous post about, wait for it, Legos.  I promise it's life-altering.  Until then, here's a post about resolutions and time machines because, really, how can you have one without the other? (I don't know what that means either.)

Even though you’re reading this after Christmas, I’m writing it just before which means I’m currently experiencing Pre-Christmas Bloat which is followed by the New Years Eve Binge and then, finally, the guilt-induced Great Weight Loss Resolution.  It’s the circle of life, people.

This has been a stressful year for me.  I have prepared a house for the market (and it still hasn’t sold), moved my family to a different state, experienced BFF separation anxiety, and witnessed the death of our family vehicle, fondly referred to as that Stinkin’ White Mini Van Missing a Front Bumper.  All this means one thing: I have gained approximately 30 pounds.   

As a result, I had to unpack my big-girl pants, and it wasn’t a happy moment for me (not to mention, I hadn’t kept many of them in the first place).   It reminded me of the first few years of my kids’ lives.  My oldest and youngest are exactly three years apart which means we went through boxes and boxes of clothes.  In fact, every six months I’d travel to the attic where I would retrieve the next set of clothes big enough to fit my three toddlers.  Will I forever be keeping a spare wardrobe of clothes like that?  Boxes of skinny jeans or boxes of fat pants? Or, heaven forbid, bigger fat pants?  Let’s hope not!

So I’ve made a decision.  I will build a time machine and travel back to the Victorian Era when chunky was voluptuous and exercise machines were nonexistent.  There.  Problem solved.  Except for the pesky little part about the time machine.  

Maybe, ladies, we could band together and change society’s view of beauty.  Let’s bring voluptuous back!  Let’s boycott the waifish look and thumb our noses at washboard stomachs and buns of steel!  Let’s celebrate the female form that’s, say, approximately 30 pounds above her healthy weight range.  Pretty please?

Or, and this is a good one, we could bottle and sell Spunk’s metabolism and eat cinnamon rolls for the rest of our lives.  

Okay, okay.  So it’s probably easier to lose 30 pounds than it is to accomplish any of those things.  The only problem is I don’t wanna.  I don’t wanna count calories.  I don’t wanna stop eating movie popcorn.  I don’t wanna perform cardiovascular activity three to five times a week.  I also don’t wanna keep wearing my big-girl pants.  So I’ve reached an impasse.  Although the big-girl pants are more deplorable than the rest, which brings me back, once again, to the Great Weight Loss Resolution.
In my stocking, Santa gave me a pedometer—and for the record, you know something’s wrong when the Big Man implies you need a little exercise.  So I guess moving is part of that resolution.  As is eating fewer cinnamon rolls and more fruits and vegetables.  And doing things I don’t wanna until I feel like I do.

Unless someone can pass me a time machine.  Anyone?  Anyone?

Happy 2011, everyone.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Miscellany of Digital Reflections

This past Christmas my brother-in-law drew my name, and as a result, I scored.  I’m certain my sister, Jen, helped him pick out my new fabulous digital camera (because we all know I needed one), and now it’s itching for better subjects than what I’ve found thus far.  But until I get my babies back, I’m stuck with my sister’s cats (no offense, Kronk and Hudson), an overturned chair and hijacked shopping carts.

I snapped this chair two days after New Year’s because it was a metaphor for how I felt about getting back to work, namely, turning my computer back on and returning to the digital world after a nice, long break.

When I saw these shopping carts I had flashbacks of a subzero Idaho Falls day when we got stranded at Sam’s Club and had to walk back home, me pushing all three of my children in a shopping cart.  I realized we all have days when we have to push the shopping cart home.  That’s a life metaphor, right?

There are some things that kids hafta do, like pop bubble wrap, laugh when someone burps, and clog their nasal passages with pussy willows.  And because of that, I never missed my kids more than when I saw these frozen puddles.  Because cracking the ice in frozen puddles in something kids hafta do. 
I was also incredibly pleased when my full weight didn’t even crack the surface of this here puddle.  Simple things, people.  That’s me being happy about simple things.

I did this so that you’ll be grateful when I start posting pictures of my kids, because, heh, they’re much cuter than frozen puddles and stranded shopping carts.  

You're welcome.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Fresh Paper Notebooks and Other New Year Metaphors

I was the crazy kid who loved getting new school supplies more than clothes every year.  Pencils, rulers, erasers and pointy crayons, but most especially tablets of paper with clean crisp sheets of paper.  Maybe it was the budding writer in me, but those new pieces of paper were full of promise and possibility.  And that’s what a New Year feels like to me—a fresh ream of paper just waiting for a new story.  

Post divorce I was a real cynic.  I had decided that New Year’s was, as Mark Twain once said, “… the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”  Resolutions, sm-esolutions, I thought.  Who am I to pretend that a handful of goals can change anything?

I’ve had three years to settle back into myself, and I’m not that cynical person anymore.  Now the New Year is back to being what it should be—a long ribbon marking the beginning of a new adventure that I can, in fact, influence.  Imagine that!

So, without further ado, I will unveil my big resolution: 

Be present

That’s it.   

And while it sounds simple, for me it’s a challenge because that same little girl who loved school supplies more than clothes has been in her head for the majority of her life, thinking, pondering, planning, imagining, constructing, worrying.  All this while the earth continues to rotate and life lumbers on (and maybe life skips, but who am I to say? I haven’t really been paying attention—hence, the resolution).

While shopping with my sister last week, I indulged in an impulse buy.  I bought the January issue of Real Simple.  The theme was to ‘be happier this year.’  And who doesn’t want to be happier?  As I read through all the articles and columns designed to help readers become happier, I noticed a theme—be present.  The magazine’s editor explained:

A few years ago, I came across the following quotation, attributed to William Butler Yeats: “Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which stained him through temporary periods of joy.” Yeats knew that happiness inevitably disappears, which is why we all must grab onto those fleeting joys as fast as we can.  How?  Think small, and just look around you.  Take off your high heels and put on your slippers.  Eat a piece of chocolate. Watch a funny TV show. Read a short story.  Hug a spouse or a child or a parent—anybody and everybody.  Wipe the crumbs from the kitchen counter. Sit down and do nothing for once in your life.  This is happiness, each of these things.  And if you incorporate enough of them into your day—and hit Pause when they come, if only for a moment—you might just find that you know exactly what it means to “be happy.”

By being present, I’m convinced that I will enjoy the smaller moments in life and, in turn, find myself more attentive, more grateful and more joyful. And that sounds happy to me.  I think it’s what makes Kelle Hampton’s blog, Enjoying the Small Things, so appealing.  In fact, it may be the secret to many a Pollyanna’s unnervingly positive perspective.

It will definitely take some practice.  I’ll have to really live in that moment when my kids need help with homework instead of traveling somewhere else in my brain (unfortunately those imaginary excursions aren’t very exotic—I’m usually standing in an intimidating mental foyer with lots of stone columns, fretting over a gargantuan to-do list).  But, thankfully, it also means I can truly be present while reading to my kids every night, making my bed, drinking a cup of peppermint tea, folding laundry and reading in my Snuggie.  I’m guessing there’s also power in sitting through difficult emotions, truly enduring them well so I’m better equipped for the next Joy-ride.

So, see?  I have a selfish ulterior motive and it’s called Operation Make Shauna Happier This Year.  I do have other resolutions, and they’re called Operation Make Shauna a Better Person.  It’s my life experiment to test the theory that a handful of goals can make a difference.  

I’ll let you know how it pans out.   

But until then, I’d love to discover the simple things in life you enjoy. Do share.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year!

My kids aren’t with me this New Year’s, so I’m going to use my blog to wish them the best 2011 possible.

May 2011 be filled with the ideal balance of difficulty and joy, enabling you to recognize the difference between the two while valuing them both for the gifts they are.  

May your challenges strengthen you and demonstrate the strength that already exists within.  

May you run hard, play harder and laugh so shamelessly that it echoes around you and makes your throat hurt.  

May you recognize the good within yourself and others, and make friends that value you enough to tell you when you’re wrong.  

May you not only feel loved but cherished by many, many good people.  

And may you always hold strong to what’s right and true, having faith that regardless of the cost, your integrity can sustain you through anything.  

I love you 10 times around the universe!
This year I saw Sport become a kid again, laying down some grown-up burdens he should never have felt obligated to bear.
I wondered if Sis’s heart would outgrow her body as she tried to be loving and respectful to everyone she met.
And finally, Spunk proved once again that big personalities come in little packages and that, perhaps, I can pretend that he’s my little boy forever (as long as I don’t say it out loud).
Thank you, kiddos, for a great 2010!  Can’t wait to see the changes in store this year.