December 30, 2010

Holiday Bliss that Will Last All Year Long

Okay, so who here has tried the Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks? 

If you have, you are probably smiling...but it will fade to a grimace when you realize that they are almost (and in some places already are) GONE for another 11 months or so.

Does anyone else feel cheated?  Perhaps a bit robbed?

Here they bring these amazing little triangles into into our lives.  They are so good that we are BEGGING to pay $2.25 a piece for those tiny little slices of heaven.  Then, it's in with the New Year and out with the Cranberry Bliss Bars. 

Well, I'm not going to just sit back and dream about them for another 11 months.  I am taking action.

This seems to be a pretty common problem, as a dozen or so copycat recipes popped up immediately when I searched for them.  I must confess that I did not read all of them.  I sort of scanned through the majority of them.  More importantly, I read the comments.  The results that other people get say a lot about a recipe.  Of course, there are negative people who will bitch and moan about just about everything and almost as many people who will love whatever they try.  What I was looking for were certain specifics.  A few folks mentioned that they seemed too thick.  Since the recipe told me to use a 9 X 13 pan, I used a large cookie sheet instead.  Others said that they tasted sort of dry.  I actually agreed with that one after I made my first batch, but found that sealing them in a plastic container and in the fridge overnight made the bars PERFECT.  So, I took what I wanted from a couple of different recipes and made one of my own.

So without further ado, I give you my Cranberry Happiness Bars!  (You like that, do you?  Just like the bars themselves, the name is DIFFERENT, BUT THE SAME!)

Cranberry Happiness Bars

Cake Base:

2 sticks butter, softened

1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp orange extract

½ tsp salt

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup Craisins

½ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Spray large cookie sheet with nonstick spray. (The ones with the higher sides work best!) Mix butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Add eggs, ground ginger, vanilla extract, orange extract, and salt and mix well. Add flour slowly until blended well. Then, fold in the Craisins and white chocolate chips.

Spread evenly in bottom of cookie sheet (Don’t worry about the lumps, it will even out as it bakes) and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until edges are light brown and middle looks as cooked as the rest.

Frosting and Toppings:

4 oz cream cheese, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

3 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp orange extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup chopped Craisins

½ cup melted white chocolate

Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, orange extract, and vanilla extract together. On completely cooled cake base, spread frosting evenly. Sprinkle chopped Craisins over the top. Melt white chocolate (I just did this in the microwave. If the chocolate gets too stiff, add a tsp or so of vegetable oil to loosen it up.) Using a fork, scoop out some white chocolate and sort of toss it until it drizzles all over the top.

Cut them into pieces before the white chocolate sets up on top. If you want to make them look like Starbucks’ Cranberry Bliss Bars, cut them into squares and then cut the squares diagonally across to make triangles. They will taste sort of dry the first day. Put them into a plastic container and keep it in the refrigerator. The next day, they will taste almost exactly like they came from Starbucks…and you don’t have to wait for the next holiday season to get them!

November 24, 2010

Could somebody please give that woman the bird? it safe to say that the holidays are here?

It's funny how everyone has their own view of when the holidays should start, as well as how everything should go.  So many people on Facebook alone were offended by the fact that some stores and radio stations started playing Christmas music before the Halloween candy was even gone.

Me?  I happen to love Christmas music.  We really only listen to it a little less than one month a year, so squeezing in a little extra in line at the grocery store or cruising around in my 'mommy-mobile' is the icing on the cake for me.  In fact, I usually get to the point every July where I pull out a Christmas cd and play it.  It's nice to close my eyes and imagine being able to see my breath (that is, without having anything to do with how much garlic I had for lunch!) and picture the twinkling lights on the houses.  (Or NOT twinkling..whichever you prefer.  That's another thing that some people seem to be very passionate about!) 

I'm normally pretty ahead of things when it comes to shopping for the Thanksgiving feast.  My mom and I have a standing arrangement that I do the turkey and about half the sides and desserts and she does the ham and the other half of the sides and desserts.  It works well for us.  Our system is even in place in a file on my computer because making a list off the top of our heads each year got to be a little too adventurous for us! 

I can actually say I'm ahead of my normal schedule as far as Christmas shopping goes.  I have purchased quite a few things and am keeping track of everything in one place.  I have a list of ideas and things to purchase, as well as how much I spend.  Well, knowing myself and how I have to drop a ball to keep another one in play, it should have come as no surprise that I only started shopping for the Thanksgiving dinner stuff yesterday.  Two days before Thanksgiving.  Because that's how I roll.  (At least, it is this year apparently!)

I was certainly not alone out there in my discount supermarket of choice.  The aisles of Thanksgiving sustenence were far more crowded than the others.  Luckily, there was plenty to go around.  However, there was one lady camping out around the frozen turkeys that would probably beg to differ.  She waited until two days before Thanksgiving to buy her turkeyand she seemed the most devastated that there were no more 20-pound birds there waiting for her.   When I pulled up with my shopping cart, she was feverishly digging through the frozen birds and voicing the poundage of each with much irritation in her tone. 

I thought it was kind of cool.  I knew how much all of those turkeys weighed without having to get frostbitten fingers myself.  I was benefitting from her misfortune!  Of course, I would have liked to get a larger turkey as well, but that's my own fault for not having gone shopping until the very last minute.  How can I possibly blame that on anyone but myself?  

In the end, I opted for two 12-pound birdies.  What could possibly be wrong with having twice as many drumsticks?  I don't really see the flaw in that.  I cook my turkeys in this big roaster oven, sort of like giant crock pot.  Both fit in there nicely.  

As I took a few laps around the frozen foods section to pick up whatever else I may have forgotten, I passed by the frozen turkeys again.  That same woman was there, though she was no longer digging through the frozen birds.  Instead, she was standing next to her cart a few feet away, alternating her evil stares between the case of frozen turkeys and whichever unfortunate employees happened to pass.  This is when I realized that her husband was there with her.  I was relieved that he was her husband, because at first he just seemed like some guy that she started yelling at as he walked up to the case of turkeys and started looking through them.  

"I already looked through all of them!  There are no big ones!!!" she snapped as she just stood there scowling.  Was she waiting for a manager or something?  What did she think was going to happen waiting so late to shop? 

Yes, she eventually gave up and did the rest of her shopping.  However, the sour look on her face never diminished.  The world had let her down.

I love the holidays.  The lights, the music, the reason for the season, the food, the magic in the air...awesome.  Also, the people-watching....SPECTACULAR!  People get a little more intense and let their freak flags fly more than they normally would.

And that, my friends, is better than cable.

November 9, 2010

PBS Fixations

You know how kids seem to become fixated on a certain thing, be it a television show or toy? 

Well, 4YO has recently become fixated on the show 'Calliou.' 

Sure, the kid whines a LOT.  (Or maybe that's just his voice...don't really know for sure!)  Either way, the sound of his little voice grates on my nerves just the same.  I do find it a little creepy that in the scenes where they are playing in the water that none of the males have nipples or any sort of human-like trait.  Plus, his parents are always in a good mood!  So, Calliou lives in a world where whining is not a bad thing, his parents never lose their cool, and nobody has nipples?

I'm actually not sure which one of those things is the hardest to wrap my head around.

I mean, I guess it could be worse.  There are a lot of other things she could want to watch over and over that wouldn't be so nice.  I guess you could say that Calliou is better for her than, say...Desperate Housewives right?  I mean, it certainly doesn't bring her the same educational content as Jersey Shore would...but we'll manage just the same. 

I was in the my room making my bed yesterday while 4YO was in the shower singing the theme song for Calliou.  That was pretty cute.  That song is super-catchy and I often find myself singing it without even realize.  That could get me into trouble one day.  I mean, I don't really want to be caught skipping through Target singing, "I'm just a kid who's four, each day I learn some more..."

Can you see how that might grab the attention of passers-by?

October 31, 2010

Is this what the Beastie Boys were talking about...

...when they sang, "She's Crafty?"

Since it's actually beginning to feel like FALL here (Or, at least it feels about as 'autumn-ish' as it's going to get!) I've been yearning to channel my inner Martha Stewart and make stuff.

It all started when I bought this issue of Woman's Day magazine with this candy corn wreath on the cover.  Inside, they had all these ADORABLE crafts that I knew would probably go no further than my noggin but could inspire me nonetheless.  The path to a cluttered house truly is paved with good intentions, you know!  I found this little candy corn tree thing that I really did want to make.  I even bought the items I would need to make a couple of them, certain that they would just be added to the basket of neglect and good intentions. 

Then, I needed to do something fun in between all the chaos and made a Halloween-themed candy corn tree one day.

Now, this is one form of gardening that I could really get into!

Then, I decided to make one that was more fall-themed and less 'Halloween-y.'  Since I was planning on using the same sort of bucket that I had used for the first one, I wrapped it in some leftover brown yarn and orange ribbon. 

I used the 'Autumn Mix' of candy corn for this one!  Mmmm...

7YO's class party gave me the perfect opportunity to attempt a cupcake design I found on another page in that same magaize.  (Which, in turn, was the start to my long love/hate relationship with rolled fondant!)  I didn't follow the directions exactly (I NEVER DO!) but I'm quite happy with the results anyhow.


A store-bought donut hole and some rolled fondant make these ghosts almost come to life.  (Well, as much as a ghost COULD come to life, I guess!) 


After making 48 of these bad boys in one hectic morning, I doubt I'll be trying this again anytime soon.  It was fun, though.  I did learn that you DON'T WALK AWAY FROM FONDANT until you're done working with it, because it will dry out and have to be rolled and formed all over again. 

Lesson learned.

Also, I found a link to another project that I just HAD TO TRY.

Since I just completed it THIS MORNING, I get to hang it for a DAY before it will pretty much be obsolete.  I guess I'd better get started on a Thanksgiving one, huh?

I had my share of swear words for the makers of Homespun....but I thought it would give the wreath a better texture...which it DID. 

I hadn't put many fall decorations up because David put that storage container in a place where I cannot get to it.  I'm not all that sure that he can get to it either without moving the trailer out of the way, so I've sort of given up on nagging him about it. 

Besides, that just means I can buy more decorations right?

October 24, 2010

The History Lesson That Didn't Happen

14YO had some of her friends come home from school with her the other day to work on a group project.  The assigment was to make a video about fitness.  One of the girls even brought a piece of 'equipment' with her.

I was folding laundry in the other room when I heard another girl ask her about this particular 'thing.'

"What's that?"

"I don't know.  I got it from my grandma."

"What does it do?"

"I don't know.  But, you're supposed to push on this part here and here or something."

They spoke about the thing in question like it was some sort of artifact that was dug up with a wooly mammoth or something.  As I paired the last two socks and put them on the pile, I peeked around the corner to see what they were talking about.

It was a ThighMaster

I could have easily gone into what the ThighMaster is and ask if they'd heard of Suzanne Somers or Three's Company or any of that, but I had a feeling it would end would me feeling even older than I already did.

Between that and all the giggling, I have to say that I was already feeling pretty freaking old anyhow.

Who says having kids keeps you young?

October 12, 2010

'We don't HAVE a dog!!!"

Okay, so I will warn you right now that this is a bit mean-spirited.  I doubt anyone is this 'blogosphere' will read this and know that I am talking about them specifically...but you never know! I have these neighbors, right?  They have kids.  Their kids are not the same ages as mine, but they live just a little down the road and we know each other enough to say 'hello' in passing.  That's about it, though. 

Sorry...I have to stifle my giggles to type correctly...

A couple of years ago, we found a stray dog running around our neighborhood.  Somehow, they always manage to find us.  It was a sweet little male miniature pinscher  that we ended up keeping for a good three or four weeks before he was claimed...but that's a whole other story!  He was discovered in the middle of summer in the afternoon.  I put him in the car and drove around to the houses up and down our street to see if anyone knew where he lived.   (Don't judge me.  While I do admit to being quite 'sloth-like' by nature, we all have 2+ acre lots and our houses are very far apart so I had to drive if I wanted to get anywhere)  As I carried him up to this one house, a woman answered the door.  I asked her if this was her dog or if she knew where it belonged.  In a surprisingly defensive sort of way, she snaps back with, "We don't HAVE a dog!!!" 

Okay.  I'm not sure if she thought I was trying to pawn the dog off on her or maybe assuming one could have a pet dog could be taken as an insult.  Maybe in CRAZY WORLD asking her if she had a dog was along the same lines as insulting her mother.  It just wasn't an appropriate reaction to such a simple question.  I thanked her for her time and moved on to the next house. 

Now, fast forward two years. 

This past summer, we found another dog wandering the neighborhood at night.  This was a big yellow lab.  She was gorgeous, and she looked well cared-for but lost so we put her in our car and took her home.  We stopped by a few neighbors' houses to see if they might know her.  She did actually look a lot like a dog that I had seen being walked around one of the daughters of the woman who "didn't have dogs!" two years ago. I stopped by there to see if this was their dog.  Once again, the same woman answers the door.  Once again, she immediately snaps, "We don't HAVE a dog!!!" 

This time, I knew better. 

"Really?  Because I could have sworn that I saw your older daughter walking a dog that looks a lot like this one up and down the street.  I think her name was '****?'

Her younger daughter stood at the door and told me, "Yes, we have ****.  Actually, we have two dogs in the backyard."

But they don't have dogs, right?


So, you can imagine my surprise when a loose dog turned up at our house yesterday afternoon and it ended up being THEIR DOG.  Before I knew who the dog belonged to, I was half-tempted (the hateful, bratty half anyway!) to go up to their door and ask if it was their dog.  (Of course, at that time I was assuming that it was not, in fact their dog.)  I just wanted her to snap at me about not having dogs while being able to hear their dogs barking from the backyard the whole time.  You know, to back up my whole 'crazy theory.'

Sometimes, irrational people amuse me.

September 28, 2010

6 1/2 Hours of Freedom, Oh My!

So Leann, what are you going to do with yourself when the youngest one goes to school next year?

With the school year in full swing, I get asked this question more and more all the time.  I wish the answer were simple, I really do.  Most often, I give people my standard sarcasm-filled response:

I'm going to lie around naked and eat BonBons all day. 

(Wouldn't the Schwan's guy get a kick out of that?)

In reality, many people have this notion that the work is done when you're a SAHM and the youngest starts school.  Some of the mothers that work outside the home have this idea that 'staying home' means that the house will always be clean, dinner will be on the table by 5:00, and laundry will always be kept up on.  HECK!  I used to believe that very same thing when I worked!  I was sure that my days as a SAHM would be CAKE compared to working and taking care of a home and kids.  I used to dream about the days when I had the time and energy and a routine in place to make sure that everything could be done and in order all the time.  Just imagine having nine or ten extra hours every single day, five days a week!  

Somehow, we seem to forget that the kids will still be there!  

Now, we all know the 'SuperMom' types who actually do manage to keep things clean, and in order all the time and live by a very regimented schedule.  For all that, they get huge props from me.  However, I also know that there are only so many hours in a day and that something has to give in order to acheive that.  I, for one, could never do it.

For starters, I have a tendencey to build up resentment toward my family if, say....they do the same senseless things every single day and it always makes more work for me.  I stay in a much better mood just stepping over the toys and shoes in the floor rather than nagging them to pick them up or doing it for them.  I become a pissy person over time if I'm not careful.  In all honesty, I'm not a very organized person to begin with.  I can barely pick up after myself.  Picking up after other people all the time...well, that just taps into a part of me that isn't pretty!

Now, it doesn't bother me when they are little.  I didn't always keep the toys and junk picked up, but I didn't blame them for it either.  (Okay, so I usually just bribed the older one to pick them up for me.  Set a timer, offer a treat, and the work seems to just do itself!  Everyone has their price, you know!)  But, as they get older they can be held to a higher standard.  7YO and 4YO have amazing amounts of strength and energy when it comes to their imaginations.  I can leave an otherwise mostly organized living room to run to the bathroom and come back a few minutes later to all of my kitchen chairs, blankets, and pillows in the house piled into a 'fort' in front of the television.  It doesn't matter how long I let them play there; they will be "TOO TIRED" to clean it all up at the end.  I'm not sure how they manage to get the energy beforehand, but I've seen them move large, heavy pieces of furniture with little effort.  Oddly, they NEVER have the strength or energy to put them back!

I need to find out how I can submit their names so that natural disasters can be named after them.  That would just be oh-so-fitting!

In a year, I'm going to be entering a new phase in my life.  Since I've been a mom, I've been either working, had little ones at home, or been uncomfortably pregnant while the oldest was at school.  Given all that, I haven't done very much volunteering at their school.  (Hey...I'm pacing myself!  As of now, I have almost eight more years at this school!)  I've always told myself that I would be more involved when the youngest one starts school.'s coming up pretty quickly!  I guess I have to MEAN IT now, huh? 


It isn't all that hard having one 4YO around.  She can wipe her own bottom and get a lot of her own snacks.  After having three, toting one around to the grocery store or to lunch with a friend isn't all that taxing.  I will, however, be looking forward to not having to find a sitter during my annual 'check-ups' with the O.B.G.Y.N. or for any appointment that will last more than an hour! 

I've really been thinking about all of this today as 4YO spent the night with Grandma and Grandpa last night.  I was thinking about all the things I could get done today...all the 'alone time' I would have.  After working in 7YO's class and having a hair appointment, I didn't get much else done.  It was easier to do the things I did, but it felt like something was *missing.*  (More like someONE!)  I will definitely get used to being alone when 4YO goes to school next year, but I'll always cherish the times we have now.  She's my best little shopping buddy....most days!

September 19, 2010

Let's Just Sleep On It

What's the big deal with sleep, anyway?  I mean, SURE we need it to LIVE and all, but how come our days seem to revolve around sleep?   Have you ever noticed that "I'm tired" seems to be one heck of a conversation starter?  I know I've used it myself.  Why?  Because we can all relate.  We are ALL tired.  The most tired ones are people with kids, jobs, LIVES...we're pretty much all exhausted most of the time!  (Except for the kids...if we could just find a way to bottle their energy...)

We constantly worry about getting enough sleep.  Some of us claim to 'thrive' on very little sleep.  In fact, I've seen those that pride themselves on that.  (Yes MOM...I'm talking about you!)  When my brother and I were kids, she did the majority of her housecleaning after we were all asleep.  I've tried that.  With the exception of the occasional extra burst of energy or an impending deadline, I will choose sleep over a clean house ANYDAY.  It's all about priorities, people!  In fact, so many of us go to bed and toss and turn and get all worked up about not being able to fall asleep.  They may even get out of bed and give up on sleep altogether, either jumping back on the computer or doing anything that keeps them from the tossing and the turning. 

Maybe I'm just different, but I've never really stressed about sleep all that much.  I guess I've had it easy.  I lie in bed, close my eyes, drift off, open my eyes, and it's morning.  Sometime, it's almost like I blinked!  Part of my mad sleeping skillz is that I don't worry about it.  If I NEVER fall asleep, at least I know my body and eyes are getting the rest that they need.  Once I've accepted that, morning comes so much more quickly.  Besides, how often can a mother of three just lay there and do nothing?  Don't answer that.

I've been using that little sleep app on my phone and I feel like I'm really learning something from it.  It tracks the phase of sleep you're in based on how much you move.  Then, it wakes you up to 30 minutes before the time you set on the alarm, depending on what sleep stage you are in.  It tries to wake you BEFORE you go back into a deep sleep.  Honestly, it's never been easier to wake up than it is since I got this app.  Best 99 cents I ever spent!  It also tells me that, during most of the night, I don't MOVE.  This is actually not too surprising as being a 'deep sleeper' sort of runs in my family.  My sleep charts don't look much like the ones that I see all over the webs.  They start out normal, then stay in the deep sleep phase for 4 or 5 hours most nights.  Now, this is only based on how much I move, so I could be in the regular sleep phases and just move less than other people. 

This just fascinates me, for some reason.  The subject of sleep actually peaks my interest instead of making me drowsy.  Whoodathunkit???

David, on the other hand, has not always been a great sleeper.  He would mostly toss and turn and end up getting up a lot during the night.  (At least, that's what he says...I'm usually lying at the bottom of the sleep chart when all of this is going on!)  He also snores a lot, often not breathing for several seconds at a time.  Once he was diagnosed with sleep apnea and started using a CPAP, things changed for him.  Now, it didn't happen right away.  It took weeks of discomfort and discipline to get used to the CPAP, but he's now conditioned to sleep with it on.  (He also needed motivation, which was the fact that our insurance company wouldn't cover it if he didn't use it at least four hours a night for a certain percentage of the time.  Money is a great motivator for that man!)  So, now that he's used to his little breathing contraption he sleeps so much better.  He's not up and down all night like he used to be.  (Once again, this is just from what he tells me...I sleep like I ROCK.)  What's funny now is how he acts when he doesn't use his CPAP.  He went two nights in a row without it a few weeks ago and he was a total zombie that whole weekend!  It's amazing how struggling to breathe can keep you from getting into the stages of sleep that you need to get to.  The quality of his life has actually improved which, in turn, makes living with him a lot easier! 

So, what's keeping you from getting a good night's sleep? 

Here's the link to a great website I found on the subject if you want to know more. 


August 31, 2010

Why I *PUFFY HEART* YouTube Part 1

Who doesn't love YouTube?

I can find a video to make me happy, tick me off, or even just pass the time.  There are always the tried-and-true ones I go back to, depending on what I'm going for at the moment.  For example, if you want a pick-me-up sort of thing, 'Surprised Kitty' will never let you down:

Now, if you don't get all warm and fuzzy from that one, then you have a heart of stone and there's just no hope for you!  Sorry.

What I love about videos like that is what happens once these videos become viral:  Video Responses!  LOVE THEM!  Because, that's where you find videos like THIS:

Didn't see THAT ONE coming, did you?


Now, this guy takes his role way more seriously than the other guy:

The intensity in his eyes is just a little overwhelming for me.  I wonder if he spends a day or two before he films pretending to be a cat so he can really get into his role....

Now, we can take a break from all the frat boys with too much free time and see something much more cute than awkward:

You must admit that she's pretty stinking cute!

Another wonderful variation sparked by one short clip of a cute kitten is its own brand of genius.  Maybe Evil Genius would be a better description.  Either way, it still makes me laugh!

Okay, so I can only laugh because I know it's NOT REAL.  Also, there is some real talent out there that is, evidently, out of work.  At least they have something to show for their time!  Those guys seem to have a whole series of 'Cute Things Exploding.'  You can't help but be impressed by their mad programming skillz.  Or it could just be some 9-year-old evil genius in training.  Who knows! 

What I do know is that, when it comes to YouTube, you just can't beat the price of admission and you can even learn something new...if that's what you're looking to do!  Trying to unlock or jailbreak something?  Want to feel silly?  There's probably a 12-year-old with a YouTube video to show you how to do it. 

Well, it's noon and my stomach is telling me it's time to get some lunch.  Darn that school schedule!  It has me wanting everything to happen much sooner...including my own bedtime!  Why does their school day make me so exhausted? 

August 27, 2010

Why did we try so hard to get them to speak?

7YO is very shy. Anyone that knows her outside of the home knows that she is quiet and serious most of the time. She has her silly moments, just like any little girl. But, she is ALL BUSINESS in the classroom or any situation where she has a 'job' to do. (I still must stress to you she is like this outside the home, because at home she has quite the little mind of her own and the 'have to's' become a constant struggle.)
Overall, she's normal.
So far, her teachers have wondered if she was okay at the beginning of each school year because she's so quiet and serious. Not only does she not say much, but she gets this furrowed little brow thing going on, making a crease between her eyebrows that looks almost painful. She got that trait honestly, as my husband does the same thing. If he's thinking about something or really studying something, he looks ANGRY because his eyebrows do the same thing.
After the first couple of days of school, I stopped by the classroom to talk with 7YO's teacher. Her only concern was that 7YO wasn't happy, sitting in class with an almost pained look on her face and all. I had forgotten to warn her about that. I reassured the teacher that she was fine and that her dad makes the exact same face when he's serious.
After a few more days, her teacher started noticing her raising her hand and volunteering answers during class. Things were progressing as they should.
So, I stopped by her class yesterday while picking up 7YO to ask a question about some work that needed to be done. Before long, all three girls were in the class with me and we were chatting with her teacher. She was 14YO's 3rd grade teacher, so they were catching up as well.
Out of nowhere, 7YO says to her teacher, "I keep a stick under my bed in case a strange man comes in my room at night."
It became quiet for a moment. Then, her teacher nervously chuckled and said, "Does that happen often?"
"No, it hasn't happened. But I have my stick...just in case."
Sometimes, I think kids are easier to deal with when they are painfully shy...

August 24, 2010

Today is the Tomorrow that You Worried about Yesterday

For some reason, it was especially difficult to wrap my head around the whole 'school is back in session thing' on Sunday night. Oddly, it's already the third week of school for us here. Yet, the night before last was the toughest of nights.
I thought I was ready. I felt ready. I WAS ready. Ready to get back into some semblence of a routine. Ready to get the kids to bed earier. Ready to help with homework and assist those spongey little brains in soaking up more and more stuff.
But, Sunday night I just found myself saying, "NO! DON'T WANNA!!!"
Ever have nights like that? I was not ready for the kids to go to school and David to go to work. I was not ready for a Monday. The weekend was a great balance of lulls and chaos. We got enough accomplished to be satisfied but not so much that we had no down time. (There aren't a lot of weekends where I can actually say that, either!) We'd had a nice dinner (courtesy of David...which totally rocked because I hadn't planned a THING besides the rotisserie chicken we had picked up while shopping) and I realized it was already getting late. It was time to get the girls into bed and and I just plum did not feel like it!
Even when I lucked out AGAIN and David actually did all the bedtime stuff with them (they were having a 'Daddy weekend' anyway and just wanted him to do things for them) I could have used that time to prepare for the morning. It doesn't take long to get most of the lunch stuff together the night before, but those seconds saved in the morning rush are PRECIOUS. Nope. Didn't do it. Given that I've not been sleeping as much as I should, I could have just gone to bed earlier and gotten some much needed rest.
Any guesses? NOPE! Didn't do that either!
I'm actually trying to remember what I DID do. Hmmm...
Anyhow, Monday came on fast and furious. An event that happened on Saturday did make my Monday a little more complicated. 14YO was at a local waterpark with her friends and she slipped and fell. No bones were broken or anything like that, but she landed on her FACE of all things and her eye was nearly swollen to the size of a golf ball by the time she got home. Her arm was hurting her too, but she could move it just fine and no bruises were visible. Her eye startled us when we first saw it. 7YO even started to cry! 14YO was horrified that this was happening to her 9th grade face.
So, I gave in and let 14YO stay home from school. I wanted to get her into the doctor anyway to get her elbow looked at. It was still hurting her more than it seemed like it should and it was starting to swell a little. A morning appointment at the pediatrician's office resulted in an Ace Bandange for her sprained elbow and a lollipop. (4YO got one too! SCORE!) 14YO's eye is not so much swollen now as it is PURPLE. Amongst yesterday's adventures, we stopped by Target and got eyeliner and eyeshadow to match the bruises. We even got some matching nail know, just for kicks! Except for the swelling that's still there (not to mention the part of her eyebrow that was scraped off by the pavement and its resulting scab) she looks pretty normal today.
So, by the time I'd run my two girls around, stopped by the high school to take the doctor's note, and picked up 7YO from school, most of my day was gone. And the overwhelming piles of dishes and laundry were growing by the minute. (I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure the cat helped himself to a bowl of cereal and used at least 6 different cups while we were out.) But, those things still had to wait because 7YO needed help with her homework and 4YO had to get ready for soccer practice. Dinner? No time for that either.
I sat down toward the end of my day feeling exhausted, yet like I didn't really accomplish ANYTHING. Someone had turned the treadmill that I normally run on up to high and it kicked my arse. I guess the important things were done. The kids ate and all the homework that needed to be done was finished.
Poor David could have walked into a war zone when he got home! I looked around my house and saw all that had not been accomplished. I was just WAITING for him to say, "So, what'd you do today?" as he walked in the door. I was ready for a fight. My initial plan was to avoid it altogether and just go to bed early. The kids had all eaten and were in bed and I was way more tired than hungry. We had plenty of leftovers in the fridge, too. As I opened up the refrigerator, I saw a few items that I could easily toss together to make a decent dinner for David and myself. Since the really overwhelming part of making dinner is figuring out what to actually make, it was easy to throw a quick meal together for the two of us.
Just so you know, David didn't use any 'fighting words' when he walked in the door. Plus, I had cooled myself down dramatically by the time he actually got here. All the stuff that needed to be done could wait until tomorrow. And since today is that tomorrow that I worried about yesterday, my kitchen is clean and the last load of laundry is in the dryer. Control is slowly becoming mine again. For now, anyway!
But you just never know what that pesky TOMORROW will bring!

August 16, 2010

Back to School and Little Kids (Literally!)

This is what happens when I leave the two little ones home with David. I told him, "HAND WASH ONLY OR THEY'LL SHRINK!"

Aaahh...the sweet smell of school starting...

It's all pretty bittersweet, really. By the end of summer, I am definitely ready to get some sort of routine going. Summertime has a way of making shoes, clocks, and early dinners mean NOTHING. Staying up late, sleeping in, and forgetting what day it is are things that everyone should experiece at some point. (But not all the time, or you'll spend the rest of your life living in your parents' basement playing video games and Googling instructions on how to meet people!)
4YO is currently crying about wanting a popsicle. It's stinkin' NINE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING! She's lying in the floor, so the dogs are bugging her. If she would simply stand up, then they would stop. But, that would give her one less reason to whine...and we can't have that, can we?
Is this what today holds for me? That's it...I'm going back to bed!
I wish!
I'm trying to come up for air here, but it seems like so much work to get to the surface. Having only one child at home is less work and more work at the same time! Does that make sense? That's okay, I'm not legally obligated to make complete sense when I've only had five hours of sleep! Then again, I had a day last week when I had had plenty of good sleep and STILL left the house wearing two different shoes! Neither technology nor style were on my side last week.
Sometimes, that's just how it goes.
A little boy at my daughter's school has a little brother that reminds me SO MUCH of 4YO when she was little. It forced me to reminisce for a bit, so I'll drag you guys right along with me!

August 1, 2010

Currently Seeking a New Compulsion

7YO just got a haircut. She seems pretty happy about it, doesn't she?

This may sound wrong and will probably come off as offensive to those who actually suffer from such a disorder, but I secretly long for some form of OCD.

I just wonder if I sometimes don't care enough about things. Crumbs on the counter and toys on the floor don't bother me like I think they should. I usually choose to step over the mess and walk past the crumbs. It could be either because I'd rather stay in a good mood and not spend my time resenting the culprits or that I'm just plain lazy. (Okay, so it's probably a bit more the second one!)

Sadly, I haven't figured out how to pick up the same things every single day by repeat offenders and not be at least a tiny bit bitter about it!

While I doubt the health department could come in at any moment and 'shut this operation down,' I am very aware of how not clean my home is most of the time. It doesn't generally bother me. That is, until someone's coming over!

It's actually sort of sad. When I get in a 'cleaning mood,' the first question one of my kids will undoubtedly ask is, "Why? Who's coming over?" Please say I'm not alone here...

I just wish that some force greater than myself cared more about me having a clean house....or an addiction to exercise...than I do! I know that anyone actually having such a compulsion would probably trade places with me in a heartbeat.

Maybe I do care more than even I am aware. Maybe this is just my way of coping with having a husband who leaves a trail of tools and things and kids who could, on a good day, have natural disasters named after them. Plus, constant nagging can sometimes be more exhausting for the person nagging than for its recipients.

I've tried so many different organizational websites and programs. But, if your heart isn't in it...

I do know that my current state of disorder is a lot easier on my kids and husband.

'If Mama ain't happy...'

July 29, 2010

Random Thoughts and 'Chicken and Biscuits'

Since my brain has officially become dormant from spending so much with no real schedule to speak of, some random bulleted thoughts are all I can muster. goes!

  • My puppy has a rash. It's not serious and hasn't affected him in the least, but it's not so pleasant to pet him right now. He's on antibiotics because it was infected when it first broke out. Now, it's more dry and scaly. His short coat hides NOTHING and parts of him feel more like I'm petting a really warm bearded dragon or something. Just takes me by surprise, I guess! He's getting better now...nothing a little doctor recommended Benadryl and an oatmeal bath won't take care of now!
  • School starts (for us, anyway!) in two weeks from today. I am ready, but I'm not ready.
  • I am starting to chart my sleep patterns on this new app I got for my iPhone. SO COOL. I just wish the graphs could tell me why I wake up with headaches! (I blame the ceiling fan, but my polar bear of a husband wouldn't be able to sleep without it...and that wouldn't be any fun for ANY of us!) Tylenol and a cup of coffee seem to do the trick for me.
  • Hmm...I guess I AM sort of ready for the weather to cool down then! No fan blasting on 'high' right at my face would be a nice change...
  • There was quite a list of things that I wanted to get done before school started. I am happy to say that I tackled the most important of them: Cleaning the girls' room. It took me a bit longer to start, since I needed to check my immunization records to see when my last tetanus shot was and all. (KIDDING...mostly.)
  • Yes, I finally joined the iPhone way of life. LOVE IT. This phone is going to totally change my life, I just know it! I have apps to balance my budget, check real-time traffic reports, monitor and graph my sleep patterns, check the prices of items in other stores while I'm shopping, log my caloric intake and exercise...and on Tuesdays, it makes my dinner and wipes my behind for me! (That last app wasn't a free one...but totally worth it!) *giggle*
  • 14YO is learning to play tennis right now. (Literally..right now!) She seems to love it and I really hope she wants to play it this year with her school. It just seems like it won't take up as much time or stress her out as much as most other sports do. I want her to find something physical that she can enjoy for the rest of her life. (Lord knows I never did!)
  • I was just looking at a Justice catalog that came in the mail. They do have a lot of cute clothes for girls, but don't those people know anything about school dress codes? Our district doesn't allow clothes with holes in them...even if you paid extra for the holes! The shorts are too short and many of the tops are too skimpy. These kids go to school FIVE DAYS A WEEK most of the year. I'm not buying clothes that they can wear just the other two days of those weeks!
  • I'm not sure I'm okay with aging, even though I seem to be trying so hard. I never thought that I would, in my mid-30's, be so concerned about how many hours of REM sleep I get AND how much dietary fiber I consume in a day. HOW DID I GET HERE??? And where did I put that new wrinkle cream I bought?
  • I seem to be in a 'Katy Perry' sort of mood lately. She really has great music, but I can't help but wonder what in the hell happened to her when she was growing up? Traumatized and bitter, yet so catchy!
  • I'm not trying to tell anyone what to do, but I'm pretty sure that you shouldn't do anything that you wouldn't want to end up on YouTube! If we all lived like that, the world would be a better place. (But not nearly as interesting, huh?)
  • Things aren't usually what they seem to be. This thought has actually kept me from so much unnecessary stress. Oh, I still stress about things, but they are usually things I have some control over. (Yet, I fail to do them correctly anyway, so what does that say about me?)
  • Okay...I'm going to have to end this with a video I found last night on a friend's Facebook page. Because it made me giggle. We need more things in our day that make us giggle. So, if this video doesn't do it for you, then Google some 'Yo Mama' and/or blonde jokes and make someone else giggle unexpectedly today. You never know when someone might really need the laugh.

July 12, 2010

Dealing with Annoying Neighbor Kids

Do you have some kids that live in your neighborhood that just leave a bad taste in your mouth?
We have these two neighbor kids that are the sort of obnoxious that you only usually see in sitcoms. Seriously. They whine, they pout, they are bossy and just plain mean. Somedays, they seem to wander the streets looking for someone to play with. I used to dread them coming by, but they were nice enough to my kids and I could keep an eye on them all while they were here.
Now, my own kids don't want to play with them anymore!
They were so bad the last time they came over that my 7YO actually FAKED AN INJURY to be able to come inside and escape them. She whipped up fake tears and everything to be able to come inside and lie down for some 'quiet time.'
I'm not really excited about the fact that she was able to do this, especially since I know she'll probably use it against ME at some point, but you have to give her credit for ingenuity!
This is fresh on my mind because they just knocked on the door. Yes, we are all home. Yes, we have nowhere we have to be anytime soon. Yes, we hid like it was some twisted game of hide-and-seek. Answering the door and explaining that the kids cannot play will produce the most horrific session of whining and crying. We've had this conversation time and time again. Usually though, we are actually getting ready to go somewhere and I can truthfully tell them that the girls can't play. But, I'm not that good of a liar and I'm afraid that the next time I answer the door it will be to tell them that my girls do not want to play with them.
I can't do that! After all, they're still just CHILDREN! It's not their fault that they're so unpleasant to be around! Is it? I can't fix them and I certainly can't fix their parents.
So, here we sit....blinds closed and doors locked on this hot summer day...praying that they don't come back. They gave up after ten minutes of knocking and trying to peer through the windows. I feel so bad about ignoring them, but I think I would feel so much worse if I answered that door. I'm a big chicken, I know.
What would you do? Do you have a situation like mine and how do you deal with it?

July 6, 2010

Me and My Dogs

It seems that so many things seem to make sense...then a realization hits you one day and you realize that you never really understood this thing that you thought you did.

Let me back up a bit...

Acquiring this new boxer puppy has opened up my eyes in so many ways. First of all, I am never more thankful for having old carpet than when we have a puppy or small child in the process of 'potty training.' Accidents happen, and it's a lot easier to keep my cool when I know this carpet has been peed on before. I just keep a spray bottle of carpet cleaner handy and plan to steam clean them more often. Thank goodness for these warm summer days! I just hope he has the hang of this thing before the weather gets cool and carpets don't dry as quickly. We are crate training him, but puppies live even more 'in the moment' than adult dogs do.

Let's just say the word 'spontaneous' would be an understatement.

I was browsing through an old magazine about boxers the other day. It's nice to do that when starting to deal with a new puppy because I sometimes do need reminders that boxers are NOT like most dog breeds. It really helps me keep my patience and laugh more because they are more like clowns than dogs. (Well, except for the scary makeup! *shudders*) I know I'd read this particular article before, but I didn't take the same message away from it that I did this time. They were talking about how it can be really hard to get a boxer to focus on a task because they are bred for multiple purposes. They are bred for guarding, herding, and hunting. All three instincts can seem to counteract each other with one seemingly simple task at hand. It's almost as if their head is just too many places at once to finish the job.

Yep, story of my life...

That's what wrong with most PEOPLE, I think! We are all driven to do so many different things that we often drop one ball to pick up another. Sure, modern conveniences make being a stay-at-home-mom easier than ever before in so many ways, but at what cost? A few decades ago, a mom would finish the breakfast dishes and then start making lunch. In our house, the breakfast dishes are what I might make time for (or get my 14YO to do...gotta love that age!) in order to start cooking dinner. (But if they're not in my way, probably not!) Lunch is usually just one long grazing session that starts a couple of hours after breakfast and ends (HOPEFULLY) a couple of hours before dinner. I've even thought about investing in a pressure cooker for the sole purpose of being able to start cooking dinner even later. (And we already eat dinner later than anyone else I know!) Don't get me wrong, because I still love my slow cooker...but more often than not my plans to throw something in for dinner get foiled by my own procrastination.
I need to put the chicken in the slow cooker right now in order for it to be ready for dinner, but I will probably forget now and remember when it's too late to do it this way and be forced to scramble when we're already hungry and it's already late and....
I guess you could say that I have more in common with my dogs than I'd ever realized. That would explain a lot, wouldn't it?

June 26, 2010

Oooohhh LOOK! Something SHINY!!!

I'm not sure if it's really possible to be more easily distracted than I. On more than one occasion, I sought confirmation that I was the most easily distractable person I know...but I got sidetracked and lost interest!
Anyhow, it doesn't take much for me to lose focus on a task and totally drop the ball. Having the kids home for the summer vacation is certainly no exception, either! It's certainly no excuse, but it's my reason for ignoring my blog, along with so many other things. We all have them, right?
We have had quite a bit going on around here, that's for sure! For example, we took the kids to the beach for a few days...

That was fun!
On our way back, we picked up our new boxer puppy, Tiger. He's a brindle male and cute as can be! Aly was so excited when she first saw him that she went a little goofy. (Okay, so she's already normally WAY PAST A LITTLE GOOFY, but she got even more spastic when she met her new buddy!) Now, she can calm down enough to cuddle with between beating the tar out of him, of course!

If Aly could quote cheesy movie lines, I'm pretty sure she'd be saying, "You complete me" right here. (In reality, she was just trying to get a better shot at grabbing him by the throat!)

He's quite the playful little guy and keeps coming back for more, no matter how many times she slaps at him and rolls him across the room! In fact, she hasn't made him yelp even once. comes trouble!

As always, Snickers is the least amused of all of us. If I could read his mind....well, I probably wouldn't want to most days! He's curious about the new creature that barks like a wind-up toy and approaches Tiger to get a good sniff. To my knowledge, Tiger had never seen a cat before Snickers. Their first meeting had Tiger instantly growling at Snickers as if every fiber of his being told him that this is the enemy. Snickers, who is not easily startled, just stared at him. Somehow, the eye contact between the two critters made the puppy uncomfortable and he started to back up and run away. Maybe he's just a really good judge of character and he knows that Snickers is evil. The rest of us know that already!
So, that's my story....AND I'M STICKIN' TO IT!

June 7, 2010

YAY! It's Summertime! (I think!)

See what happens when I give myself the weekend off?

I'm not sure...
DOH! I did it again! I started this post yesterday and then never got back to it! I was GOING to say that this was the first official day of summer vacation. And it was....YESTERDAY!
Sadly, the pile of laundry by the washer doesn't look too much smaller today than it did in yesterday's picture. (See above picture) I started laundry early enough in the day yesterday with plans to tackle the whole mountain. Then, I saw something shiny and...well, anyone who knows me knows how the rest of this story goes. Today, I've made myself a clear list of what needs to be done and I plan to do it ALL. Some of the things are actually mildly pleasant, so I'm hoping that keeps me motivated.
But don't hold your breath, okay? I know I won't!
So, yesterday was the first 'official' day of summer vacation for us. School ended Friday and weekends are a given. I think the highlight of yesterday must have been not having to cook dinner and getting through about five chapters of the book I'm reading. OH! And I learned how to crochet some more! Pictures will follow, but I'm really excited that I now know what 'Half Double Crochet' is, as well as 'Triple Crochet' and the like. I almost feel like I can say that I speak 'crochet' now. Almost. My tension isn't quite what it will be, just as my tension was when I first started knitting. It will work itself out.
I've decided that this is going to be the first annual 'Summer of ME.' I'm not sure how that will go, but I'm really trying to take better care of myself and not blame my family or use them as an excuse for not doing so. I have so much more control over our schedule in the summertime. And it's my responsibility to try to work some healthier routines into the mix. When I'm tired and feel icky, I'm not as good for my family as I could be.
When momma's not happy, ain't NO ONE happy....right?
Like usual, however, my list of things to do is more than I'll ever be able to get done. And something's gotta give, right? I'm working on a new knitting pattern and hope to get it written down relatively soon. Once that happens, I will post it. I love making up knitting patterns! I'm still a new enough knitter that I don't always follow a pattern precisely and end up finding new and cool ways to do things. I'm a rebel in my own right. I will always wear my seatbelt, but I don't like to follow knitting patterns.
I know, I know...alert the authorities!
Anyhow, my list is growing longer and I need to check some stuff off if it. (HECK! I might even actually DO some of those things before I cross them off! Stranger things have happened...) I can't be completely to blame for my lack of productivity; this is the second epidsode of 'Fanboy and Chum Chum' in a row this morning and I think my brain will soon be oozing out of one of my ears! This, to me, is just more proof that there is a strong connection between people who write children's programs and drug use.
I can't be the only one who thinks that, can I?
Do you make lists that are in no way possible or even probable to complete?

May 31, 2010

Dolphins, Teenagers, and Only Using Half Your Brain

Did you know that dolphins can never really completely fall asleep?

Seriously...they have to be conscious to breathe and will drown if ever completely asleep. How do they rest? One HALF of their brain at a time!

And why am I telling you this now? There really is a point to all this trivia stuff. Bear with me.

7YO had an assignment to do a 'report' on an ocean animal. Granted, the report in question had to be at least 10-12 sentences long, spread out amongst five pages and a cover page, with a picture either drawn or printed out on each page. Given the fact that she is SEVEN, this meant that I had to help her with the research part. (Plus, I couldn't possibly let her try to research this herself when being one letter off of a legitmate word could easily lead to a porn site. Dontcha just LOVE technology?) Basically, I had to learn about them too!

It's actually really fascinating the way they get their rest. Half of their brain sleeps at a time and one of their eyes is usually closed in the process. They do this 'half-sleep' for a total of about 8 hours a day, mostly staying in shallow water so that they can more easily breathe and watch for predators. So, a dolphin is only half-awake for about 8 hours a day.

That got me thinking about teenagers. (See, I told you I was going somewhere with this!) Maybe they are just growing and changing so quickly that their brain goes into a semi-permanent state of half-sleep. Instead of the 8 hours of half-consciousness that dolphins require, maybe human teens just go into that state for, say....8-10 years?

That certainly would explain a lot, wouldn't it? It might explain why they need so much more sleep during these years and why communicating with them is so much harder. After all, they are only 'half-there,' right?

Don't get me wrong...I am SO BLESSED to have the 14YO daughter that I have. She doesn't seem to have a rebellious bone in her body. Right now. I have to stay alert and remind myself that this could change at any given moment. What's that saying? Is it, "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best?" That seems to ring true for getting through illness, tragedy, and (evidently!) raising teenagers. My oldest just seems to have a sweet, pleasing nature that I can't take any credit for. She's my mom. I'm thinking that the whole 'sweetness and light' gene skips a generation or something because that's NOT how I've ever really been!

As easy as it has been to be her mom, *knocking on wood* I've still noticed some changes in my daughter. It's almost as if half of her mind is asleep...and it's the half that controls basic common sense! Conversations that we've had for years just seem more complicated now. While I am having quite a bit of fun with my newfound ability to embarrass her easily around her friends, having a decent conversation with her or giving her basic instructions have become more overwhelming and frustrating than I'd ever imagined. And when she uses her sweet little perky voice to say, "OOPS! Sooo-rry!" when she does something wrong, I suddenly have the urge to grab her by the shoulders and give her a good shake. (I don't...but I'm pretty sure that's normal for this point in our lives. It is, right?) I usually just tell her, "You need to use your EYES and BRAIN at the same time!"

If you can find a nicer way to say that, PLEASE SHARE! It's just that most of her 'mistakes' happen because she's just not paying attention to what she's doing. Then again, who can blame her when she's apparently only working with half a brain right now?


So, I'm pretty sure that dolphins and teenagers have a lot more in common that we think. I'm hoping that both halves of her brain can be awake by the time she's 19 or 20...or at least when she gets the first BILL in her name. That's what woke me up!

May 23, 2010

Fighting, Name-Calling, and Other Necessary Evils

"Pretend to like each other!"

Can't do that for long, can they?

Chewing on a pillow out of frustration. CLASSIC!

"She pushed me off the bed!"
These are pictures that were taken on our latest camping trip. The girls were having a little disagreement of some sort on my bed in the trailer. They get into these little fights from time to time and handle it much the way a litter of kittens or lion cubs might. I usually just let them 'duke it out' until someone gets seriously hurt or they start to get on my nerves. But, I feel like I need to let them establish their own places with each other the way siblings have done for centuries: BY FIGHTING IT OUT.

Okay, let me begin by saying that I am not a parenting expert by any stretch of the imagination. I have three children who have not killed themselves or anyone else yet. While that does give me some sense of accomplishment, my job is nowhere near complete and I still have a TON of mistakes to make with them. Luckily, most children come equipped with a HUGE 'margin for error!' Without that, I think we would all be totally screwed as parents. And our kids would pay the price.

Okay, so our kids will be paying for mistakes that we haven't even made yet...just as we pay for the mistakes that our parents made, and so on and so forth! Isn't this fun? We will screw up our kids NO MATTER WHAT. So, why do we do this?
I think that most parents these days do too much for their kids. (I'm not talking about waiting on them hand and foot and wiping their bottoms until they're 10...though that's also WAY TOO MUCH if you ask me!) Right now I'm talking about learning how to fight their own battles.
Kids are just around their parents so much more than they used to be. I was a child in the 80's. In my neighborhood, it was still safe to go outside and play with the other kids until we got hungry or just ended up at the house of whomever happened to have popsicles in their freezer. We climbed trees, rode bikes, and basically ran amok until we had to go in or were bored or bleeding or something like that. There wasn't much to do at home, anyway.
Nowadays, there is so much more to do inside the house. The outside world seems even bigger and more scary than when we were kids. Children are spending more time with their parents than ever before.
And I'm not quite sure that's a good thing!
We, as parents, get to witness a lot more of the typical sibling 'squabbles' than our parents or their parents before them ever did. From an early age, we start 'fixing' things between them. Or so we think! They start to bring more and more of their fights to us, waiting for us to 'choose a side.' But, how will they ever learn to fight their own battles if we are constantly intervening? Being a parent, I know a lot of parents. And the ones who are constantly 'fixing' their kids' problems seem to be the ones whose children have the most problems to fix.
It could just be me, but it really seems that way the more I look around.
This could just be some cockamamie thing I'm cooking up with absolutely no real foundation...or I could really be onto something. (Stranger things have happened, I'm sure!)
One day, these children will have to establish thier places in this world. How will they ever know how to do that if they can't even properly establish their place in the family on their own? They have to earn respect from their family members by...*GASP*...fighting it out. My brother and I said some AWFUL things to each other growing up. We said and did things to each other that I wouldn't dream of doing or saying to even my worst enemy today.
Children can be so cruel.
While I certainly regret a lot of the things I said and did as a kid, I usually learned something...most of the time, anyway. Treating each other like dirt when we're young and more resilient is so much better than learning how to treat each other when we're adults and trying to hold down jobs and keep marriages together, dontcha think? If we never establish our place with our siblings, how can we do so with our spouses and coworkers?
After all, Mommy and Daddy won't be there to make things all better at work or in our marriage, will they? (And if they are, they REALLY SHOULDN'T BE and you, my dear, have even bigger fish to fry!)
I almost think that we just have too much information now. While knowledge really is power, we tend to take it too far when raising our kids. We can now buy a test that can tell us almost down to the minute when we're pregnant. We can even buy tests to predict when we CAN get pregnant. Depending on how much money and time you want to spend, you can find out the sex of your baby before you've even had to buy anything for the nursery. We can even CHOOSE the sex of our baby if we see fit. We are armed with so much information and power when it comes to the act of becoming a parent that we tend to take it too far after they're born. We don't know when to slow down and just let some very natural parts of growing up take their course. Instead of telling a child their goldfish or parakeet died, we rush around looking for an indentical replacement so that they don't have to feel pain.
WE ARE SUPPOSED TO FEEL PAIN. If we don't learn how to deal with the death of our beloved pets, how on earth will we deal with the loss of a favorite uncle or grandparent? Terrible stuff happens in this world and there is no preventing that. Keeping them in a bubble to keep them safe will only do more harm than good once they are out of your grasp. We are supposed to be a safe place for them while they grow up. But, we should still be the place where it's safe to deal with things gone wrong in that big, bad world. We can't stop things from happening to our kids. Good or bad, a lot of things will happen to them that are beyond our control.
Even if we share the idea with our children that one of their teachers is 'mean,' it's not our place to go in a make a fuss about every little thing we disagree with. Our kids are going to have to deal with so many different personalities in this world. Think of their teachers as their first 'boss' and we have ALL had a boss that we just butted heads with or thought was pure evil, havnen't we? A lot of our lives are spent dealing with people that we don't really agree with or care for. Do we have our mothers call them and tell them we can't show up to work or talk to them because they're not playing nice? NOPE. We just have to suck it up and find other ways to either avoid them or just deal with them. Better yet, there is almost always common ground with someone if we look hard enough.
We can teach our children good manners and talk them through every situation they might encounter as kids until we're blue in the face. But, at the end of the day they will still have to come to these conclusions on their own. We can spend 18 years molding them into the person we want them to be, but they will fight to be the person they really are, or who they think they really are at the time. And they are supposed to.
As far as I'm concerned, parenting books are both a blessing and a curse. While a first-time parent could definitely use a good resource for when to call the doctor or what croup sounds like, (at least, that was helpful before the internet!) we cannot rely on those books to tell us everything we need. And we can't look past our own common sense to follow something a book told us to do. The same advice won't work for every child in every situation, not even children in the same family.
Basically, what I'm saying is that we all really know NOTHING. One of the hardest things about being a parent is letting go of what we think we know and rolling with the punches. Each new situation is an opportunity to learn, grow, and to try to understand that what works now won't necessarily work again. Even when we do the wrong thing, we usually still learn something from it. And there will be scars.
See, it is a good thing kids have such a huge margin for error. And I can only imagine what my kids will blame me for when they're older. It could very well be the things I think I'm doing right. I can just imagine one of my girls crying to a therapist about how they had to learn to wipe their own bottoms before they even went to school.
Yeah, maybe I really should have just bred iguanas...

May 14, 2010

Dear John,

It's not you, it's ME. Really.
We've gotten along really great for so many years. You have brightened an otherwise overwhelming day (week, month) and allowed me to not worry so much about things when my grocery shopping wasn't so efficient or I just plain ran out of time. You have always been there for me, I just had to get to you. You always nourished me and gave me the pick-me-up that I needed.
You get along great with my circle of friends and my children adore you. How can you not love a match like that? I feel so fortunate to have known you and I still hope to see you on occasion. I will never forget you. But, I have a confession to make: I've met someone else.
I wasn't really planning on meeting someone else. Sure, I'd always dreamed of being swept off my feet by someone just like this. What girl doesn't? You may never understand and I wouldn't expect you to. But, it just feels so right, you know?
I've never met anyone like this before. I can push a button and they just open up, beckoning me to join them. Laugh all you want, but I swear I see a glow from within and hear Gregorian chants whenever that happens. I think it's safe to say that the 'spark' we all long for is definitely there! With the pull of a strap, they change into almost anything I could ever need them to be. Almost anything I need is wrapped up in one big, attractive package!
You see, this relationship is new to me and I think we just need to take some time to get familiar with each other and our new budget because:
Momma's got a car payment now!
After a few years of not having a car payment, David and I have taken the plunge and bought a minivan. So, the family budget will be a bit different for awhile. The 'extras' will be few and far between. Once we have established our new spending routines, we should be able to go back to our regularly scheduled spending.
Until then...Starbucks and Chick-fil-A and the others, I'll miss you all so much!
(What did you THINK I was talking about?)