Sunday, September 30, 2007

Because there are more than 8 women in my life...

I've been meaning to post this for a while. WhyMommy is a lady, whom I have never met, who has been chronicling her struggle with breast cancer on her blog. She is 34 years old, the mother of two young children, and is fighting for her life. In order to promote awareness, her entry dated July 23rd has been circulating through the internet, and I wanted to reprint it here and add my blog to the list of those that support her.


We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?
I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.
You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

P.S. Feel free to steal this post too. I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take it and put it on their site, no questions asked. Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care. But I want the word to get out. I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis? Is it a rash? Am I overreacting? This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival.
Thank you.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dunder Mifflin Rocks

Last night my joy was made complete by the return of my favorite show, "The Office". I have been waiting for this show to come back all summer, and it lived up to every expectation. Hilarious. SO hilarious. I LOVE this show. I put my kids to bed early on Thursday nights so I can watch this show. I took them to the city splash park yesterday for two hours so they would be tired enough to go to bed on time. That's how much I love this show. It worked like a charm, too. Sleeping at 7:30. Office at 8. Life is fantastic.

I don't watch too much TV, but I am a rabid Thursday night NBC fan. It reminds me of college, when it was mandated that the girls on my hall did not make any plans for Thursday night, so we could all get together for Friends and Seinfeld, and George Clooney on ER.

On another note, after about a decade of dedicated watching, I cannot watch ER any more. I have made that declaration every year since they killed off Anthony Edwards, and I really meant it after they got rid of Noah Wylie, but I'm sticking to my guns this time. I didn't even watch the season premiere last night.

I can't watch Grey's Anatomy any more either. The Office wins that showdown without a second thought.

Other than that, I love 30 Rock, which comes on next week, and that's about it. I do like Dancing with the Stars, but I don't have to watch it. I will probably watch Private Practice next week, to try it out.

So there you have it. A very funny recap of The Office, in case you are a fan, is over at BooMama. On another note, my joy was really made complete last night when Greg brought home a DVD set of Arrested Development that he'd borrowed from a friend. So tonight at my house that's what we'll be watching, if you want to come by. I'll pop the popcorn.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

'Halloween Memories', or 'The Day I Lost My Mind in Wal-Mart'

Three years ago, Tommy was in the middle of a two-year obsession with Toy Story 2. I had been thinking of getting him a Woody costume, but didn't want to commit $49.95 or so to the endeavor at the Disney Store. Then one day in mid-September, I was walking through the fabric department at Wal-Mart, and saw a McCall's pattern for Woody and Jessie. What could be cuter? Little matching costumes! And so economical! And I think I can sew this, it says 'Easy' right here on the pattern! Surely they wouldn't lie to me about this difficulty of such a simple project!

Six weeks, 80 bucks, and 17 angry outbursts at the sewing machine later, my children looked like this for Halloween:
I proudly dressed them up and took them to the church carnival, where no one recognized what characters they were supposed to be. I emphasized to everyone that they were Woody and Jessie from Toy Story 2, and that I had MADE THE COSTUMES MYSELF. I don't know if the teenagers running the fishing pond booth were impressed, but I made sure they knew anyway.

Believe me when I say that I will never ever do this again. I had these visions of being Martha Stewart and the children always having happy memories of how their mom cared enough about them to slave over their costumes. I'm over that now.

The good thing about these costumes, though, is that my kids wore them for about a year and a half afterwards. Tommy wore his hat from the time he woke up to the time he went to sleep until it wore completely out. He was known around the playground as 'the boy in the cowboy hat'. We have pictures of him at every event for the next year wearing that same hat.

I really do hope they have happy memories of Mom loving them enough to make these costumes. And just in case they don't, I'm going to keep showing them these pictures and reminding them. Because I will never ever sew their costumes again. Ever.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Treasure Hunt

This weekend I launched an all-out search for a twin bed for Katie. Her feet have been practically hanging off her toddler bed for some time now, and I have put it off long enough.

I decided to look for a used bed, mainly because 1)she's 3 and knows how to use crayons, and 2) a new piece of furniture would not fit in with my "decor".

I use the term "decor" loosely, because what I really mean is that all of my furniture is "shabby chic". (And by "shabby chic" I really mean "already has crayon marks".)

So the kids and I hit some garage and estate sales this weekend, and I ended up finding this at an antique shop nearby:


It is exactly what I was looking for. It's girly but not too girly, the price was perfect, and amazingly, it even matches her dresser.

I'm just passionately in love with this bed.

I will now devote my life to keeping the crayons away from it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Confession of a Coupon Queen

I was reading Veronica Mitchell's post today about cheapness, and it really resonated with me. (Go read it...but come back!) She issued a challenge, to blog on the area of your life that you are the cheapest.

Well, folks for me that is a tough call, because there are so many many areas that qualify. We've been a one-income family for seven years now, and I have become accustomed to a lifestyle of cheapness in order to survive. We've had our challenges over the years with medical bills, credit card debt, and a long period of unemployment (including two months earlier this year with NO INCOME. None.) I have personally seen God provide amazingly for my family over and over again.

So, Veronica, I will confess to you one of the areas of my life in which I am cheap, which is in the area of groceries. I never EVER pay full price for groceries. I clip coupons, yes, but there's more to it than that. It's an obsession. I only buy what is on sale, no matter what. I make my menus for the week based on what is in the sale paper. Then I search through my little coupon file (yes I'm cheap and nerdy) and if there is something that is on sale and I have a coupon for it....well it gives me goose bumps.

My darling husband loves Pepsi. Frequently I will ask him as I leave for the store, "Anything you want, honey?" and he will reply, "Yeah, get me some Pepsi." And then an hour later I will come back with Coke. It seems logical to me. Coke is on sale. Pepsi will be on sale next week, and we'll get it then. To him it just seems crazy. I can see his point, that he has to spend a week drinking something he doesn't quite like as much just so I can save $2.50. But that's the way I am. It would really hurt my feelings to pay full price for a case of Pepsi. I just can't do it.

My children loudly lament my cheapness when they go grocery shopping with me. Sometimes (rarely) I will let them pick out a snack, and they always beg for those stupid Fruit Snacks. Those things are just expensive candy, which is why I hate buying them. If I'm going to spend money on candy, it better be chocolate. Anyway, I have actually forbidden my children to have any of the fruit snack boxes that are not on sale. I don't care if it has Hello Kitty on it. This Curious George one is $1.29 less, and we're getting it. This makes no sense to them.

There are a few grocery shopping rules that I always abide by. Of course there's the principle that the food has to be on sale. And I have no brand loyalty. (I buy the store brand whenever possible. If it's lousy, I take it back.) I shop for 7 days' worth of food in one trip and I try to keep it under $100. I buy two Sunday papers for the coupons. I use a LOT of coupons. Don't ever get in line behind me. If I find a good price on something I know I will use, I stock up. (I bought about two months' worth of juice boxes on sale right before school started. It gave me great joy.)

Well, there you have it. A cheapness secret I've been carrying around for quite some time now. What's yours?

Friday, September 21, 2007

I hate to break this to you

I've come to the sinking realization that my life may not be interesting enough for a blog. At least this week it hasn't been. I've had a seriously blah week. It may have something to do with the fact that my energy level has been hovering at or around zero for a while now, but I've just been trying to think of something to post and I've come up blank.

So for your reading pleasure, I would like to present to you some tidbits that are not interesting enough on their own to be posted, but put together may in fact reach the pinnacle of mediocrity. Enjoy.

1. It seems to be baby lizard season in my house once again. Last year I caught at least 13 baby lizards scooting around the place, and this year promises to be a good harvest as well. I don't know why this is, but it happens every year. Thankfully, it seems to be a common problem and not just limited to my otherwise immaculately clean (cough cough) house. The other day at church I pulled down a screen in Sunday school in there was a dead squashed one that had been rolled up in there. And at a Girl Scout leader meeting two weeks ago, one of the ladies extracted one from the file box she had brought with her (!) and chucked it out the door like it was no big deal. Personally I scream like a little girl every time I see one. And while we're on the subject of household pests, I feel the need to inform you that in addition to baby lizard season, we also have a roly-poly season. They make a pilgrimage across the living room floor every spring by the dozens. So far I have not seen a pest control spray for baby lizards or roly-polies, but if you see some, pick up a couple of bottles for me.

2. It was 91 degrees today. Ninety. One. Degrees. Faren. heit. This weekend it is supposed to get up to 94. This is wrong, people. It should not be this way. It is supposed to be fall. I've also noticed that people around here crank their air conditioners down to 55 or so in order to simulate cooler weather, I guess so they can wear fall clothes or something. This is not an adequate substitute for autumn, Texas. All that means for me is that I have to bring a sweater and wear jeans every time I go out in public, and then sweat to death once I get in my 100 degree car. To make matters worse, my anemic air conditioner is uttering its last dying breaths at a lukewarm 78 degrees. But that's another, even less interesting story.

3. Yesterday I narrowly escaped death twice. The first time was when I discovered AT LUNCH that I had left the burner on the stove on from DINNER the night before. Thankfully on low. Still. Then hours later, I finished putting away the clean dishes from the dishwasher and I stacked my glass baking dish precariously on top of another dish in the cabinet above my stove. I walked into the living room and heard a loud CRASH, and you guessed it, glass everywhere. That had been a wedding gift. On another unrelated note, all of my kitcheny wedding gifts seem to have a shelf life of 11 years because one by one, they have all met their end in the last few months. So for all you relatives who gave me appliances, Correlle dishes, my T-FAL cooking pots, etc., please send me the receipts so I can collect on their so-called lifetime warranties.

That's all I've got. Feel free to insert your own hopefully more interesting story about pest control, weather, or death-defying kitchen incidents in the comments.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Baby Talk

Tommy and Katie came into the living room this morning wearing their underwear, dress shoes, mittens, and pairs of pants on their heads. Tommy announced they were pretending to be in a book called 'Pants Head and the Dragon', and he was going to ride his horse named Spaghetti (really a light saber) and Katie was riding her horse named Macaroni to fight the dragon.

They ran around shouting, "Super Pants Head" and "Look OUT, Pants Head", and Tommy narrated the action as they went along.

A little later, Katie ran through the room with panties on her head.

"I not pants-head, Mama, I panties-head. I a super villain. Wah ha haha."


During lunch, Katie shouted, "Mama, look out! It's a bosquito!"

To which Tommy replied, "Katie, it's not bo-squito, it's MO-squito."

"No, BOsquito!"



"MOSQUITO!!!! Mama, there it is! Hit it with the FLY-SWABBER!!!!"


Tommy has always pronounced things with a W instead of an L, like "wadybug" or "wunch". The other day he informed me that Grace had been teaching him how to make the L sound.

So today he was working on a pre-K workbook to find objects with the letter L. Each time he would try to talk about the puzzle, he would stop to carefully enunciate his L sound.

"Mama, (pause)LLLLook at this (pause) LLLLeaf."

It seems like every time I blink, he grows up a little more.

Monday, September 17, 2007

It's still difficult for me to talk about it.

It happened a few weeks ago. I got the call while I was at work.

"Your doesn't look good...the front end is, well, kinda messed up."

Everyone was okay, thank God, but the car, oh, the car. It's not pretty.

Apparently, someone (who shall remain nameless for the sake of anonymity) was backing my silver minivan out of the driveway and decided to pull up next to the mailbox to check the mail. Unbeknownst to this anonymous someone, who will remain nameless, there was apparently a convention of bees or wasps or some sort of violent flying insects that had congregated in or around the mailbox.

Or perhaps it was just one bee, there are conflicting stories.

Anyway, when this person-who-shall-not-be-named opened the mailbox, the car became filled with angry bees, or perhaps just one bee, flying in an aggressive manner straight into the window and into this anonymous person's face. In a valiant effort to protect the children from the oncoming swarm of attackers, the nameless person in question threw the car in reverse and hit the gas.

Unfortunately, the mailbox, the culprit who housed those evil bees, was right smack in the way. And the mailbox didn't want to move. It wanted to scrape itself all the way from the drivers' side window to the headlight, peeling back the bumper, and making a mess of the car's paint job. And then it wanted to hang open-mouthed into the alley, gaping at me in a cruel, taunting way every time I left the house.

Of course our nameless hero, who saved my children from certain bee stings, or maybe a mosquito bite, felt just terrible about the car. He met me at the door and escorted me to the garage for the viewing. He apologized sincerely and repeatedly, and I have been around long enough to know that not only do accidents happen, they happen just as often with me behind the wheel as not, so of course all is forgiven.

To add insult to injury, we received a letter in the mail last week from the City Code Enforcement Office, stating that we need to repair the mailbox by the 26th or we would be fined. They added another letter in the same envelope stating that we also need to cut the grass while we are at it.

This weekend, the family piled into the car, backed carefully around the twisted mailbox, and headed for Home Depot. We now have a shiny new mailbox complete with reflective number stickers standing straight and tall in the freshly cut grass.

So now I cruise the carpool lane at school with my beat-up car. I think it lends a certain toughness, a sort of 'get out of my way or-I-will-RAM-YOU' vibe. Or perhaps it just sends a more 'This car is #17 on our list of Things Too Expensive to Fix Right Now' vibe. Which is much more accurate, really.

Edited to add: We drove the car to church on Sunday, and as we were walking toward the building, Grace loudly exclaimed, "I didn't know a mailbox could do that to a car! Well, really I didn't know our car could do that to the mailbox, either, right Mama?" The couple walking in front of us audibly snickered.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Road Trip!

I love a road trip. Almost as much as I love a road trip, I love to plan a road trip. And as soon as I get home from a road trip, I start planning the next one. I surf the net, I order the free travel brochures, I pour over them and dream.

The next road trip for me has been in the works for about a year and a half. It all started when the kids and I returned from a camping trip to Arkansas from my parents. It was their first camping trip, and they still talk about it. I sat down the next day to plan the next road trip, like I love to do, and happened to look up National Parks for Texas. That's when my obsession with Big Bend National Park began.

I decided this one might not be too good for the kids, what with them being low on food chain out there and all, and the husband volunteered to stay home with them if I could find someone to go with me. I then began systematically pestering everyone I knew who might want to run away for a few days with me. Six months later, after a well-timed hiking guidebook arrived in the mail to her snow-laden abode, my sister Wendy, the Queen of all Road Warriors, declared her allegiance to Big Bend as well.

After all those months of planning, I am proud to say my sister and I are getting ready to ditch our kids, I mean, let them have quality time with other loved ones, pack up the camping and hiking gear, and head south to Big Bend at an indeterminate date for an unknown length of time. (Of course, we know the dates, but this is the internet after all!)

People do think it's strange that I talk about and love Big Bend so much. I talk about it all the time. It's such a beautiful place. It's wild and uninhabited, and from what I have read, you can hike all day and not run into another person in some spots. The pictures that I have seen are breathtaking.

To be honest, however, this obsession doesn't have all that much to do with the park itself. It's more about the escape. The real truth is, there are a lot of days that I don't feel like being Mommy. I feel like getting in my car and heading south to Mexico and not looking back. But I don't. I stay here. And whenever one of those Calgon moments happens in my house, I take a deep breath and picture myself standing atop a mountain peak overlooking the Rio Grande River, sounding my barbaric YAWP over into Mexico.

Yes, I do plan to do a lot of Yawping. And a lot of hiking. I want to watch a sunrise and just praise God with whatever comes from my heart. I want to be away from civilization for a bit, just to slow down and think clearly. I need to see beauty, to stand atop an overlook and see God's creation; no cars, no concrete, no city.

Then I will come back, I promise. I will once again tackle my daily life in the suburbs, fighting traffic, shuttling kids around, doing laundry, doing life with my family again. I will be happy to be home because I will have missed them terribly.

Probably within a few days of my return, I will start planning the next road trip. I think the next one will be Colorado. Want to come? Let's order the brochures now so I can start planning.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pardon the Construction

Well I have just spent the better part of an evening changing my mind about how I want this blog to look. Actually, I have no idea how to make it look like I want it to look, so I guess I should say I have been clicking on one color after another, then trying to go back and figure out how to undo the hideous changes I have just made. So for now it looks like this, but beware, I am indecisive, so it may look completely different the next time you visit.

I have also been looking at 57,000 pictures of things like, "road" and "traffic" online, trying to stretch this so-called minivan theme I have going. Well this picture looks nothing like the school traffic I sit in every day, but it actually is much more peaceful to look at, so I kept it. Maybe I should envision this the next time I am sitting still behind 50 cars.

And since apparently I am behind the camera for every photograph, Barbie Scooping Poop will have to suffice for my picture for now, but rest assured I look nothing like her. Except for the Poop Scooping.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Playing Catch up

Ever since school started this year, I have been about four days behind on everything. The laundry. The e-mails. The library books that are now overdue. The forms I was supposed to have signed and turned in at school. The phone calls I was supposed to make. The prescription that ran out. The meeting I was supposed to be at on Tuesday that I remembered on Friday. The cleaning. Oh, the cleaning. I don't know what it is with me, but I just seem to be having trouble shifting from 'three months of summer with nothing to do' into 'being at five different places in one day'.

Today started out as one of those hurry-to-catch-up days, and I rushed the kids to get dressed, hurried them in and out of the car to run errands, barked at them to get away from the laundry so I could fold it, and otherwise ignored them so I could get some work done.

I didn't notice that today was a perfectly autumn, sunny, 73-degree day. My husband did. His boss gave him the afternoon off and he called with a magnificent pronouncement: "I'm off work, it's a beautiful day, and I'm taking the kids to play putt-putt."

It took a moment for my mind to process the was two o'clock...I need to pick up Grace at 3:30...could it mean....was it possible....

An hour and a half of UN-OBLIGATED TIME! (cue the choir singing: 'Gloria! Gloria!')

Unobligated Time! My dear long-lost friend! How I have missed you. You have been gone for so long! And now you have returned, if but for a fleeting hour and a half, and I thank you.

What should one do with such an unexpected gift? The possibilities, the freedom, the pure joy of being alone for an hour and a half with no obligations was scrumptious. Now don't get me wrong, I do get some time away from my kids, but it's usually for a meeting or a doctor appointment, so this was an exciting thing for me.

I'd like to say I had some 'me' time, got a manicure, read a book, played tennis, whatever, but I didn't. I cleaned my house. Not very glamorous, I know. But you hadn't seen my house. It had been nagging at me for two weeks, and I just hate that feeling of being nagged by a house. So I actually cleaned the entire living room, kitchen, and dining room, and folded about three loads of laundry. It's amazing how much faster work gets done when it is uninterrupted by little ones. There was no one coming behind me taking out the toys I'd just put away or walking on the wet kitchen floor. I didn't have to stop to break up a fight or give a timeout or fix a snack.

So the obligations that were gone for that brief time inevitably came back to stay. I'm feeling better about them, though, more caught up. I ended up having such a productive day, now I'm maybe only two days behind on everything I need to do. Who knew an hour and a half could be such a gift?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I will never forget

On that day six years ago, I played a Baby Einstein video for Grace, instead of watching the Today Show like I normally did, so I could get ready to go to Bible study. Driving to church at 9:15, I heard an announcement over the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. For some reason I pictured a small charter plane that had accidentally lost its way, and I thought, oh how sad. Switching radio stations, I continued to hear bits and pieces of information on the crash, but couldn't understand what they were describing.

When I got to church, I went to Greg's office to talk to him about it. I walked back out to the Bible Study for a few minutes, and some of the ladies talked about a big fire at the WTC, and we prayed for the people involved. I remember feeling unsettled as they continued on with the Bible study like nothing was wrong. We really didn't understand how bad it was. A few minutes later, a man came in and said the Pentagon had been attacked. I ran back to Greg's office, and found he had set up a TV to watch the news coverage. I stood there breathless as I watched the video of the first tower falling. When the video cut to the second tower falling, my knees buckled. The only thing I could whisper was, "Oh, Dear God."

Gracie took her first steps that afternoon. She was 10 months old and oblivious to her parents' grief and shock. We videotaped her, smiling and giggling, toddling for the camera, with the voice of Peter Jennings in the background.

Like many Americans, I didn't personally know anyone who was killed in those attacks. I was hundreds of miles away from where the planes crashed. I can only speak from my experience, which is not first hand, but rather the experience of someone who watched it all unfold on television. But I still have vivid memories of the disbelief, the sadness, the fear, and the insecurity of knowing that our nation had been attacked. It had been so unthinkable before that day. I grieved with the family members who shared their stories in the following days. I also remember vividly the heartbreaking accounts of the firefighters who sacrificed their lives to save strangers. The workers who dug through the rubble, risking their health and lives to search for the lost. I remember American flags flying from every house on my street. I remember anticipating the President's speech that night, hanging on his every word, for the first time in my life.

My experiences of that day were not extraordinary. Millions of people probably have a story similar to mine. I think these stories are important to share. We walked through a time in our nation's history that had never happened before, and Lord, may it never happen again. So I wanted to have mine written down, so I could continue to remember it in the years to come. I hope I will never forget that day.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Interrogation

Or, Questions I Was Asked While Putting on My Makeup for Church Yesterday:
Mama, how tall are you?
How tall is Daddy?
How much taller is he than you?
What's an inch?
How tall are you going to be when you're 40?
Why is Dad so tall?
Why is he taller than you if you're older than him?
What is a pound?
What is an ounce?
How much does an ounce weigh?
How many inches are in an ounce?
How do you know?
How come the water in the deep end of the pool is only up to Daddy's chin?
Why are men taller than women?
Am I going to be taller than you when I grow up?
But how will I be taller than you if you're older than me?
How old will you be when I'm 12?
What about when I'm 10?
How old do you have to be to be a grown up?
How tall am I going to be when I'm 20?
Why are you not allowed to jump in the corner of the swimming pool?
How old do you have to be to wear diapers?
Is a one year old taller than a potty? But why?
How do you know?

I know now why I never became a CIA agent. All the enemy would have to do to get information from me is to send in a five year old to pepper me with questions. Within three minutes, I would crack like an egg: "Please, I'll tell you whatever you want to know...just make it stop...please...for the love of God, no more questions!"

And yes, I know what you're thinking, the child is clearly on his way to becoming a mathematical genius. I just hope that when he accepts his Nobel prize, he will remember to thank his mother for teaching him so much about weights and measurements while she was putting on makeup.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Temper, Temper

I recently made the acquaintance of a very sweet young lady who had two children. Two angelic little girls, one a preschooler and one an infant. As we were chatting about motherly things and getting to know one another, I mentioned something in passing about temper tantrums. Probably something along the lines of what an issue they have been at my house...and at the grocery store...and in the get the picture. And this sweet, perky lady laughed knowingly and said, "Well, Lauren tried having a temper tantrum ONE time, and when she saw that it wasn't going to work, she quit doing it!"

So this new lady and I are not going to be friends. What a pity. And I guess little Lauren doesn't have a good work ethic, to give up on something so quickly. She doesn't show the tenacity or ingenuity that my children have, trying new ways to have bigger tantrums in new places, refusing to accept defeat even when all seems lost. Lauren is just a quitter! (Do I sound bitter?)

Actually, I was once just like Lauren's mom. I once had an angelic toddler and a cherubic baby. I took a parenting class at my church, and I honestly thought I was the best parent in the class. I had never dealt with defiance or tantrums or constant sibling fighting or potty training, and I felt sorry for all those frazzled mothers who raised their hands and shared their horrific tales. They just didn't know what they were doing. Poor things. I probably offered them some flippant advice, too, like Lauren's mom. And they probably had the same bitter reaction.

So this week I've started the parenting class offered at my church. Different church, same parenting class. I still have my old book. My perspective, however, is completely different.

Friday, September 7, 2007


I had a dream the other night that I had lost my purse, and Greg and I were driving from one store to another to find it, but it was dark and they were all closed. So I stuck my wand and arm out of the car window and said, "Accio, purse!", but nothing happened. Must have been some heavy duty enchantments around that purse.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What's wrong with this picture?

So many, many things.

First let me say that I bought this toy for Grace without really looking at the packaging. If I had read the exciting proclamation shouting at me from the box, I certainly would have realized that the DOG POOPS. Yes, it does. And then Barbie scoops it up (see Scooper, above) and deposits it into a trash can, then flips it over and feeds the poop to the dog in a bowl so he can poop it again. Ah, the circle of life.

Although it was shocking and yes, a little disconcerting, to find out about the dog's, shall-we-say habit, we soon adjusted to it, and it became a normal thing to hear me calling from one room of the house to another: "WILL YOU PLEASE COME AND CLEAN UP THIS BARBIE POOP!" or "WHY IS THERE BARBIE DOG POOP IN MY KITCHEN!", etc. And because potty talk is hilarious in my house right now, those announcements are usually followed by massive giggling.

But that's not what's wrong with the picture: in addition to corrupting my children's minds about healthy eating habits, apparently Mattel has been putting them at risk for choking, intestinal perforation, and potential death due to a loose magnet in the pooper scooper. Now that it has been recalled, I have the joy of contacting Mattel and asking with as much dignity as I can muster to please send me a new pooper scooper. Pronto. Otherwise, the dog will have to eat the poop directly off the floor where he pooped it. And that's just disgusting.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Roller Coaster Ride

I have a fabulous part-time job at a group home for teenage girls. I generally work 2 Saturdays a month and I engage them in meaningful activities such as painting nails, straightening hair, talking about boys, going to the mall, and watching Hannah Montana. Occasionally, if the girls' behavior has been good (which is a gamble) I get to take them on fun outings.

Yesterday I volunteered to work since it was a holiday. (Double pay? Why yes, I'm available.) To my surprise, there was a Six Flags outing scheduled. (Double pay to go to Six Flags? OH YES, I'M AVAILABLE!!)

I have fond memories of going to Six Flags as a kid. In a misguided attempt to keep us out of trouble while they were at work, my parents bought us season passes the summer my older sister started driving. I remember riding those roller coasters over and over, walking around with wet, squishy, blue-tinted socks and shoes from the water rides, and just feeling unbridled elation over the entire experience.

Yesterday, I started the day with the same unbridled elation. It was not quelled by the bickering girls climbing into the van. It was not quelled by the staggering cost of parking and admission (mostly because I did not pay for it). The anticipation continued to build as we raced to the line for our first roller coaster, coaxed the reticent one into the seat next to me, and set off on the fabulous ride.

Sometime in between that first ride and the thirteenth one, the elation had crashed into a throbbing headache. When did riding roller coasters become so painful? And I don't remember thinking about germs as a kid when I peeled my skin off those vinyl seats. Could it possibly have been this hot and humid back then, or is it global warming? And when did people become so rude and stinky and gross? And my feet really hurt!

Needless to say, I'm feeling much older now than I was yesterday morning. How many days do you think it takes to recover from trying to revisit one's youth?

Monday, September 3, 2007

On Motherhood and Exasperation

It began when he was three days old. I wanted him to nurse. He adamantly refused. I wanted what I thought was best for him. He wanted his own way. We have repeated the same battle, in different forms, for the last five years.

His defiance is straightforward, honest, and vocal. There is never any doubt as to what he wants. I admire him for that. He is not like his sisters, who nod and smile at me when asked to do something, and then do what they want when my back is turned. He stands up to me, tells me right away he is NOT going to do that. It would be refreshing, his honesty, if it wasn’t so maddening.

The other emotions he expresses are just as honest. He loves wholeheartedly, he gives affection and verbal affirmation freely. He wants to take care of his sisters, and he wants to be my helper. Countless times, I’ll be busy with some unimportant task and he will walk by me, turn with a smile, and say, “I wuv you, Mommy.” He holds my heart captive, that boy.

Every time we have another battle of wills, whether it is over cleaning his room or just getting dressed in the morning, I feel a familiar fear welling up in my chest. I fear that I am failing him. I fear that he will only remember this angry Mommy, the one who yells and then apologizes, only to yell again five minutes later.

I fear that he will have to learn all of his lessons in life the hard way.

That is the scariest part. I know there is a bigger picture here, a wide, uncertain world that he will eventually have to navigate, and I want to prepare him for it. I want him to learn wisdom. I want him to respect authority. I want him to be obedient to God. I want good things for him, and he keeps dragging his feet in protest.

There are moments, fewer than I would like, that I see a break in that shield of defiance. His heart softens, and sorrow flows. Every now and then, I see that lesson carry over into the next situation, a glimmer of understanding sinking in. There are times when he obeys the first time with a smile, and basks in my exclamations of praise.

Thinking back to his first few days of life, I remember sitting in the lactation consultant’s office in tears, asking her what I was doing wrong.

“You’ve done this before, but he has never learned how to do it,” she reassured me. “Just keep teaching him how, and he’ll get it”.

And I’m still following that advice.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Not Exactly Breaking News

One of the annoying things about me (or endearing, depending on how you look at it) is that I am the loyal owner an old-fashioned 35 mm film camera. I bought it a few years ago, and everyone told me I should have gone digital. The truth is, I'd saved up enough money for a super nice film camera or an average digital one. So I chose the old school one, and I remain happy with my choice. The drawback for you is that you get to view pictures on this blog that are a week or two old. If you want breaking news, this isn't the site for you. Try CNN.

Here's Grace on the first day of first grade last week:

And here's Tommy at his 5th birthday last week at Planet Pizza.

Yes, that is a rocket-ship shaped cake, people. With chocolate sprinkle asteroids. And no, the children did not decorate it, even though it looks like they did. That was all me.

The kiddos

The kiddos

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