Friday, December 12, 2008

Odyssey

(OK.....I am seriously losing my mind. I have had this post sitting in "draft" for about two week and never posted it. So, just for shiggles, and because, with moving I really have nothing else clever to write about.....I'm going to go ahead and post this. **ATTN: MOM -- Andrew is not sick again......this post was written back when he was sick. Don't worry!!)


Saturday afternoon, Andrew's fever spiked to 103, despite the antibiotics he had been on since Tuesday and the children's Motrin I had been cramming into him for the past 24 hours. I've been a mom for 12 years. I've done this a time or two. And still those little fingers of panic ripple up my spine when my children are sick. Realistically, I know it's probably something viral and that's why the antibiotics haven't stopped it. I know it's likely that he's just got the flu or an ear infection or something run of the mill. But there is something about the sight of a normally exuberant and energetic child reduced to a nearly comatose state, with flushed cheeks and glassy eyes that strikes fear into a Mother's heart.

"Mom" he croaked, "My back hurts and my neck hurts and it hurts to move my eyes." Randall makes sure I know about every ache and pain that he has, real or imagined. I treat his complaints with a kind of concerned skepticism. But Andrew is incredibly stoic. He will rarely admit to being hurt or sick. Once, he had a splinter that got so horribly infected that he needed medical attention. I never even knew until he came to me and said "Um, I think I might need to go to the doctor." Indeed he did. So when he told me his back and neck were hurting, I took it seriously. And I began thinking scary medical things like "meningitis".

At 3:30 we set off for urgent care and I jokingly told Husband "Well, I guess we'll see you around ten o'clock." I would regret those blithely uttered words later. The first urgent care facility we visited had a sign on the door saying they were closed due to physician illness. Great. I called husband and asked him to locate the next closest urgent care facility. Drew moaned piteously in the back seat while we waited. After a few moments my husband called back and told me there was another one just down the road. We headed over there, and as I had anticipated, the parking lot was full. But when I got to the door, practically carrying my 100lb child, I was confronted by another sign that said simply "Closed". The lights were off, there was nobody within.

Swearing, I half carried, half dragged Andrew back to the van and called Ross again. He gave me coordinates for a third location. I asked him if he would call and make sure they were open, because it was quite a drive and I didn't want to get all the way over there only to find that they too, were closed. Andrew was begging me to go home. "Please Mom, I'm okay. I just want to go home and go to bed. I'm so cooooooold! I want my blanket." I turned the heat up full blast, handed him my coat to cover up with and cursed myself for not thinking to bring his blanket. When it was confirmed that the third place was open, we sallied forth once again. The parking lot of the third place was also overflowing. Naturally, all the patients who had tried the other two places had ended up here.

I took Drew in, expecting a wait, and resigning myself. I had a book, two bottles of water, and a granola bar. When we checked in, I noted that the waiting room was not quite as full as I had expected. I asked the girl at the desk if she had any idea what the wait time would be. She merely shrugged her shoulders and said "I'm sorry, I really have no idea. As you can see, we're real busy today." We settled down to wait. Andrew was very, very sick. He was clearly the sickest person in that waiting room. There was no place comfortable for him to rest. He tried leaning against me, but the wooden arm of the chair cut into his side. He tried curling up in the ridiculously small chair, but his feet kept slipping off the edge. He tried sitting with his head tilted back resting on the chair back, but he kept falling asleep and his head would drop off to the side, startling him awake. Finally, I pulled two chairs together to make a little bed, gave him my sweathshirt for a pillow and tried to make him as comfortable as possible. I got a few dirty looks for using up a chair, but I didn't care. I went into the bathroom to get a paper towel to make a cold compress, but there was only a hand dryer. I rummaged around in the cabinets until I found a package of rough brown paper towels. I wet one and took it back to Andrew. He moaned with relief when I applied it to his burning brow.

For an hour and a half, not one single person was called back. Every time the door opened, everyone in the waiting area looked up expectantly, hopefully. But invariably, it was someone exiting the examination area with a paper in their hand and a weary look on their face. If all these people were being discharged, why was no one being admitted? The girls at the desk bantered good naturedly. I started to get very annoyed with them for being so cheerful when all these people were miserable. Yes, it was irrational and unfair, but I was developing a migraine, I was worried about my child, and my ass was falling asleep from the torturous chair I had been sitting in for 90 minutes. Finally, one name was called. I thought the woman who was admitted was going to dance a jig, so great was her relief. The nurse who was ushering her back glanced at Andrew lying so deathly still in his makeshift little bed. His cheeks were bright red, his lips were cracked and his eyes were dull. The pulse that beat in his neck was disconcertingly rapid. I saw a flicker of concern on her face, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, she would go back and suggest to the people in charge that he needed to be seen right away. No such luck, however.

We waited another hour before his name was finally called. I consoled him with sips of water and fresh paper towels. When finally we were ushered back into the secret realm of all things medical, the nurse who attended us was very difficult not to laugh at. He was short, blonde and constantly said things such as, "like", "totally" and "dude". His speech had that curious half questioning cadence that you hear from adolescents and valley girls. Example: "I think you totally got the flu Dude. Like, what color is your snot?"

To me: "Like, you know when he coughs? Is it like, loose and pleghmy or all like....hacking and tight?" I swear he couldn't have been more than 15. But it was fine. He seemed to know how to use a blood pressure cuff and he was nice to Andrew. "I know you totally don't feel good, Dude. But we'll get you fixed up." He made Andrew snot on a big q-tip. That was interesting. Then he peered at it closely, getting his face way closer to my son's sputum than I would ever have dared, and declared, "Dude. I need some real snot. Really snork it on there, k?" Finally we had enough sputum to suit Valley Nurse, and he disappeared with the q-tip, which was now liberally dripping with my son's nasal effluvium.

There was more waiting of course, but not as long as I'd anticipated. The doctor came in, and told us Andrew had tested positive for the dreaded flu. "It's really brutal this year." he said cheerfully. After some discussion, Andrew agreed to a shot. I doubt we would have secured his cooperation quite so easily had he known that it would be given in his gluteal region. The doctor promised to send in his best shot giver, and left.

Several moments later, the shot giver entered. I was a little taken aback. He was well over six feet tall, as round as an egg and had bright red hair in a ring around his otherwise bald head. Across the top of his shiny pate, several fine fiery strands had been coaxed into standing straight up. He wore thick rimmed rectangular glasses the same color as his hair. His scrubs were nearly as flamboyant as his hair. He was truly something to behold. "Heeeeey ya'all, I'm Kevin. You know what I'm here to do, right?" Drew nodded morosely. "Alright. Well, I promise, I am real good at this, so I'm going to make it as quick as possible. Do you want some cold spray or are you going to tough it out without it?" "Cold Spray" said Andrew emphatically. His tough guy veneer would take him only so far. He did not scruple to ambivalence when it came to shots. "Alright big man, give me some bum then."

Drew looked at him blankly, but then, realization dawned on his face. "Uh-uh, no way. I'm not getting a shot in my butt!" "Two actually. But I really just need your hip-ish. Kind of near your butt, but not really your butt. All you have to do is unbutton your pants and pull them down a little. I don't need the full moon over Miami." Andrew sighed and rolled over. The man was fast, I'll give him that. And Drew was clearly pained, but did his best not to show it. He simply said "AAaaaahhhhhhh!" and clenched his teeth. It was over quickly and Kevin gave us our discharge papers, a prescription for Tamiflu, and exhorted us to practice dilligent hand-washing, because, he said ominously, he's already contaminated your entire house and you've all been exposed. Great.

When we left the clinic it was 8:30. I knew that most Walgreen's pharmacies stayed open until 9:00, so I drove like a bat out of hell to the nearest one, which was a good 20 minutes away. It was closed. I said some very bad words. I bought some more Motrin for Drew and dragged his poor flu ridden and now, sore in the posterior self, back to the van. I had promised him a frosty from Wendy's to secure his acqueisence to the shot, so we started over that way while I called husband.

"Find me a 24 hour pharmacy. He's got to get some of this stuff into him tonight and I don't know how much further I can drive." My migraine, which had been mild when we set out, had roared into full blown prominence and my night vision, which is already questionable, was made worse by the fact that each little pinprick of light was driving a tiny, brilliant shard of pain through my right eyeball into my cowering, quivering skull. He called me back while I was in the Wendy's drive through and told me that the Walgreen's on the corner of Random and Nevermind has a 24 hour pharmacy. We were, fortuitously, mere feet from it and I sighed with relief.

My relief was short lived, however, when I arrived at the pharmacy to find that everone else in the world was there too. The line stretched from the Pharmacy clear into cosmetics. There was one person working the drive-up window, and one taking care of everybody else. I eased Andrew into a chair and took my place in line. I mused, as I waited, that having a sick kid does have some advantages. Normally, if we have to wait for anything, Andrew bounces off the walls with impatience. He pesters, he fidgets, he makes me crazy. But tonight, he simply sat slumped in the chair sipping his frosty and generally looking pitiful. Several grandmotherly types clucked at him sympathetically as they passed. I turned in my prescription and was informed I would be called in 20-30 minutes. More waiting. SIGH.

I sat there people watching and people listening and marvelled at how we are all so much the same. All of us get sick, we all need comfort, we all need someone to care. Most everyone waiting was kind and considerate to one another, recognizing their own misery in each other. But there is always the random jerk-off isn't there?

Next to us was seated a tatooed gentleman who was entirely bald and sported several wicked looking facial piercings. He joked continually with his companion, a thin girl whose low slung pants barely concealed her pubic hair, about the staff, the people in line, and the muzak. I couldn't help thinking that under his jocular veneer, which was so at odds with his menacing appearance, there was a real darkness of spirit. Where everyone else seemed genuinely compassionate and sorry for the woes of their line buddy, he seemed to harbor a contempt that his jokes could not conceal. He began to irritate me.

A family came in with a little boy who was obviously very sick. He cough was harsh and strained. His little face reddened with the effort to clear his congested lungs. He could be heard coughing all over the store and I felt myself tensing each time, waiting for him to stop coughing and take an easy breath.The jerk sitting next to me said, "Jeez, give that kid some Robitussin or something. He sounds like a friggin seal, hahaha!"

I don't know what posessed me. I guess that I had been patient, and reasonable and civil for SIX hours when all I wanted to do was scream for somebody to get off their asses and take care of my son. And my head hurt. Badly. So that's when I felt compelled to say, "Why don't you just shut your mouth?" He looked at me, clearly stunned. "What's your problem lady?" he growled. "My problem is that everyone here is sick, and tired and miserable. And idiots like you make waiting torture. So why don't you just do us all a favor and shut. the Hell. UP?" A man standing up adjacent to us gave a snort of laughter and clapped. The woman seated behind me said "Mmmmmhmmmmm." in agreement. The rest of the people in line looked amused, but clearly did not want to get involved. "Go to hell, bitch." "If it meant getting away from you, I would be happy to. Unfortunately, I have to wait here for medicine for my son." I motioned to Andrew behind me, who was, at this point, nearly done for.

Piercing guy got up and stalked off. His pallid girlfriend looked at me apologetically and muttered "Sorry." before rushing to join him. "Mom, you said the H word." croaked Andrew. "Yes, I know." "That was awesome." (is it wrong that I hoped the guy had a very painful and persistend std?) Finally our name was called. I paid an exorbitant amount of money for the Tamiflu and left.

When at last we reached home, it was 9:45 and I recalled the words I had spoken flippantly to Ross as we left. Unbelievable. The next day, Husband went to urgent care himself, since it became clear that the terrible cough and body aches he had been nursing for several days were probably the result of the flu. And I was lucky enough to pick up some sort of stomach thing whilst sitting in the germ riddled waiting room for three hours. We are all very hunkered. Except Randall, who said to me morosely, as I lay there trying not to jostle my aching head and/or spew the meagre contents of my stomach into the wastebasket next to the bed, "So, I guess we aren't going shopping for a new jacket today, huh?"

Infanticide. Is it any wonder?

So there is the story of my Saturday night Odyssey. Oh, the joys.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

13 things that start with A that describe me:

1. Articulate- I use proper speech, and text in writing. I hate grammatical and spelling errors, and I really hate "text" speech. I hate when people say or type the word "prolly" when what they really mean to say/write is "probably".....things like that.

2. Awesome- yes, indeed I am awesome. Because without ME it's just Aweso

3. Addicted… to blogging and energy drinks

4. Affordable- I don’t need expensive things, I am easy to please.

5. Agreeable- I am usually quite agreeable, although sometimes I agree just to avoid conflict.

6. Anxious- I tend to be a worry about anything and everything.

7. Active - as a parent. I am extremely active in my children's lives

8. Annoyed- I am quite easily annoyed at the stupid things people do.

9. Adventurous - with my life you can't help but be. I've been a million places and seen a million things, and there is so much more I want to do.

10. Antsy- I am usually feeling nervous about something

11. Annoying- according to Ross

12. Affectionate- according to Ross. But, wait- didn’t he just call me annoying?

13. Attractive- according to Ross, which still does not make up for calling me annoying… but it helps.


~*~Wow, that was not as easy as it sounded in my head. Go ahead. Try it for yourself.~*~

Monday, December 8, 2008

Open Letter To The A-Hole That Stole My Car

Dear A-Hole;

Besides not understanding the thrill of stealing a car at all, what would possess you to steal an 8 yr old Isuzu Trooper? It's not even a nice vehicle.

I want to thank you for completely distroying the small bit of Christmas spirit I was finally starting to muster amidst the mayhem that is my life lately. I want to thank you for completely demolishing the shred of faith I still had in humanity.

Thank you for taking away my family's only means of transportation less than two weeks before we are supposed to be moving away. Thank you for making my 4 year old cry because his favorite toy, his cherished Diego plush doll, was in the backseat of that car.

I hope that the police catch you and put your pathetic ass in jail. People like you really anger me. There is no excuse for your poor choices, and while none of us are perfect, you are so far at the opposite end of the spectrum, it's rediculous.

Rot in hell.

Sincerely;

Pissed Off Chick Without Wheels

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

13 Famous Quotes about Children

1. “Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” Lady Bird Johnson

2. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Dr. Seuss

3. “Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.” Anonymous

4. “Your children will see what you’re all about by what you live rather than what you say.” Wayne Dyer

5. “Children need models rather than critics.” Joseph Joubert

6. “Making the decision to have a child - it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone

7. “There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” Erma Bombeck

8. “You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.” Franklin P. Jones

9. “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.” Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

10. “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” James Baldwin

11. “Always be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your rest home.”Phyllis Diller

12. “A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer.” Author Unknown

13. “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.” John Wilmont

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm Just Sayin......

This is the one where the lurkers delurk and the hate mail rolls in.

Can we do ourselves a favor and stop diagnosing ourselves?? Please?? Pretty Please? I am over the 'I am so OCD' or 'A tad bit ADD' and 'I am anal'. (So go ahead, click 'compose' on that window you just opened.)

Really? Because you like your vacuum lines to read out the alphabet in Greek doesn't make you 'Anal'. It makes you quirky. So, you like your laundry room organized by product and height just means you like stuff orderly. Really, is it so odd to want to know where stuff is??

Since you like your clothes meticulously ironed and your stainless steel appliances to be free and clear of handprints doesn't mean you have some obsessive compulsive disorder. You like your home clean and tidy. Not so crazy. Now, if you pair that with a strong desire to turn all door knobs twice to the left and jump four times on the right foot then pick your teeth with the same toothpick since 1997......well, feel free to claim OCD for yourself.

So you have a hard time sitting still through the entirety of Waterworld....maybe you're just a tad off focus and need to find a more interesting movie? I mean, really?

Does anyone need more labels than we already carry? Mom, Dad, Sports Fan, Fat, Skinny, Working Parent, Single Parent, Brunette, Blonde, etc.Lastly,

(Type in songbirdmama@gmail.com in the 'to' area). Can we stop calling our daughters 'Princess' and 'Divas'? Am I the only person who sees that this is not the persona I would want my child to adhere to? Why would I want my daughter to feel as though she is better than anyone? Could this perhaps be a stepping stone in the 'Queen Bee and Wanna Bee' trend? We are pumping their tiny little ego's up so much they can't help themselves but strut like they are entitled to something more than polite respect. If I had a daughter, why would I ever give her the carte blanche to be a sassy 'diva'? She would probably already be 'sassy' enough without me crediting her with frivolous titles. Much less decorating her derrière with frilly sweat pants and glamorous words calling attention to both her backside and poor behavior. I can already hear the back talking conversation from the principals office while she is being reprimanded, telling the social servant of the school that it must be okay since her own mother tells her she is.It's fine, I can take whatever mean crapyou wanna say. But, I am just sayin'.

***disclaimer***Not perfect, not saying I am not a hypocrite to some degree. Admittedly, I can be wrong. And if you call that out I am not afraid to say I was wrong. And if you are someone who takes offense to anything I said, I apologize. This is just a rant. And you know what they say about opinions anyhow, they're like assholes-everyone has 'em and everyones stink.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Things Really Aren't That Bad

I spend a lot of time, though not as much as I should, writing this blog. Much of it is dedicated to all of the crazy ups and downs that come with being a parent. I am blessed to have three times the craziness to write about. My life is a complete mess sometimes. My house is a zoo most days. I have vomit and snot stains on more of my clothes than I care to admit. All my underwear have holes in them. I haven't had a decent haircut in 3 years. Sometimes I am so distracted that I wonder if my posts even make any sense. And, as you may have seen in some of my previous posts, I have been known to not so shamelessly leave the house in various stages of disarray.

And I freely admit all of these things to you on any given day. And you read about it. And you respond to it. You post comments, and send emails, and you tell me that you understand, that you commiserate, and that you care. I can't tell you what that means to me. I am so grateful to all of you.It is not easy to put your own shortcomings out for the world to see. To make a joke about the chaos of your life. But I can not tell you how freeing the experience of writing this blog has been for me. Nor can I express how grateful I am to everyone who has taken the time from their own chaos to read about mine.

With the holidays coming up, and the very likely possibility of me moving over then next month, I may not have as much time to post as I normally do. However, I hope that you will continue to read here, while in typical mommy fashion, I continue to do dumb things everyday and prepare my children for a lifetime of therapy visits.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saying Goodbye

So, after four years of living in the great state of Texas, we are finally moving home to Canada. It looks like the song "I'll be home for Christmas" really rings true for us this year. And while I have been longing to go home for a while, it's a little bittersweet really.

The boys have made some really great friends here, and it seems so cruel to pull them out of school half way through the year. And then moving during the holidays is going to mean that this is a VERY modest Christmas for them. Plus, this is truly the only home Ryker knows.

But then I remember the great things: the boys will be close to their cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents. I will too, be near my mom, siblings, nephews -- something I've been sorely missing.

Not really sure where I'm going with this post, and I know that is so not typical of this blog. But I'm really at a loss for what to say. There's a lot I will miss, but I'm so happy to be going home.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Thursday Thirteen


In honor of today being Thanksgiving here in the USA, I am going to list 13 things that I am thankful for.


1. God (and by extension Freedom of Religion) Because with out Him nothing is possible, but with Him nothing is impossible.


2. My children. Three of the absolute most wonderful boys a mother could ask for.


3. My husband, who is my best friend, my confidante, my sounding board and my protector.


4. My parents without whose love, guidance and patience, I wouldn't be the person I am today.


5. My friends -- girls who I swear are more like sisters to me than friends. People I know I can share, laugh and cry with about anything under the sun


6. Music -- it is such a huge part and a great influence in my life. How truly dreary this world would be without music.


7. My relatively good health and my recent desire to keep myself that way


8. My talents.....which I thank God every day for giving me and allowing me to share


9. My grandmother -- who although she passed away 9 years ago, is still a very strong influence in my life. She was an amazing, wonderful, strong woman. I only hope I can live to be half the woman she was.


10. My freedom -- to live, love, worship, think and BE any way I chose.


11. The power of forgiveness, repentance and the plan of salvation.


12. Technology, which allows me to keep in touch and reaquaint myself with family and friends who are not nearby.


13. Hope -- for without it there is no drive to achieve my dreams

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The (In)Humanity of Motherhood

Most of you know that my boys are no longer babies. These days, those tentative baby steps toward independance have become giant clumsy strides and the comfort of "someday" has turned into the realization of "all too soon". But despite that, I'm really, for the most part, enjoying the freedom of having semi-independant children.

I don't feel anything except relief when I see a young mother pushing a 400lb. stroller and carrying a diaper bag the size of a small frigidaire. I don't miss planning my life around naptimes. I do not remember those late night feedings with fondess.But I do miss certain things.

There was a time when my boys thought I was the cat's meow. They thought I had all the answers. And not just any answers...the right ones. They thought I could save the world. They thought I was invincible, immortal, omnipotent. I liked being adored. I did not like slipping back into the ill-fitting skin of ordinary. And now, I find, that my children can humble me without the slightest bit of effort or even, sometimes, awareness.

The other day, Drew and I were in the car running an errand. He was fiddling with my iPod to find a song by Chris Daughtry, for whom he has developed quite an affinity. Out of nowhere he asked, "You think he's hot, don't you?"

Why lie? I thought.

"Yep." I said.

He snorted.

"What???" I demanded

"Mom. He is SO out of your league."

I made a strangled sound of outrage. "Dude. That hurts."

"You're a MOM" he said emphatically, "You're not supposed to be hot."

"Hey. I? Am hot. I can get guys."

He snorted again and added an eyeroll to emphasize his point. "Yeah. Guys like DAD".

Gee, that's all right. I didn't need my self-esteem anyway. No really, I was done with it, seeing as how I was apparently rendered asexual by your birth.

Moms of toddlers...cherish their admiration. Because one day, your sweet, adoring child will look at you with embarassment, pity and chagrin. They will push you away, and then return; remorseful, hungering, confused. They will need you, and they will need you to let go. And you will never know at any given moment, which is the right thing to do. Inevitably, you will choose wrong, and find yourself hitting a glowering wall of resentment.

And sometimes, they will say horribly insensitive things without knowing how it twists like a knife in your guts, making you gasp with regret and longing for the person you thought you were; the person who can't exist in the same time and space as mother-you.

Do I really want to go back to the desperate, consuming symbiosis of infancy and toddlerhood? No. I really don't. I just want autonomy to hurt a little less. But I know that it can't and so I arm myself against the emotional arrows so carelessly slung by my children.

Someday, when my sons whisper their secrets to another woman, and walk through life with their hearts clutched tightly in the fist of their own child, perhaps they will see me for the woman I was underneath the motherhood. Mabye they will find a small measure of understanding for the joys and the heartaches of raising them and surrendering myself.

Until then, I exist in a weird sort of sexual limbo. Neither lover nor woman, but only mother. But that's okay. I'd rather be stripped of my sexuality than suffer my children to witness my nakedness, literal and figurative. I'd hate for them to see my funbags and my undercheeks on the cover of every gossip rag when we go to the grocery store. Can you imagine what Pamela Anderson's kids live with?

Then again, I don't suppose they dispute her ability to bag Chris Daughtry.

Oh, the humanity.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Wisdom of Floyd


The boys and I are huge YouTube fans. We love to browse for funny or interesting videos. Like any new internet venue, it's quickly becoming overrun with spammers and teenyboppers, er..I mean...tweenagers...but you can still find just about anything you could possibly think of...Schweatty balls, men in knee breeches, and nostalgia galore.


Last night after dinner, we were gathered around my computer watching our latest "can't stop singing that song" music videos. Mine was "1234", a choice that was not looked upon with favor by my boys. Andrew chose "Thanks for the Memories", a tune to which we all knew the words, and bobbed our heads in unison. When it was Randall's turn to choose, he asked to see the video for a song he had heard on the radio, but he didn't know the name, only the artist. Pink Floyd.


"How does it go?" I asked. "We don't need no education. We don't need no sound control" he sang. Then he quoted what was inarguably his favorite line in the whole song loudly, and with great gusto. "HEY TEACHERS! LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE!!"


I couldn't help but smile. If ever there was an anthem written for Randall, that would be it. I pulled it up and played it for them. And then the questions started. "Why are their faces like that?" "Why are they going to school in a factory?""Why are they jumping into a meatgrinder?""Why is he hitting that kid? Teachers can't do that!""Why are they breaking their desks?"


Pffftttttt. I tried to formulate a response that would satisfy their curiosity without overwhelming them with a lot of details they couldn't process or understand. I paused the video and launched into what I hoped was an accurate and straightforward explanation. "Well...you see...this whole video is just one big social commentary." I lost Randall right there, but Andrew looked intrigued."Really? About what?" he asked.


"Well, different people have different interpretations. Some people think the it's a metaphor for a tryannical government that wants to deny the people free will and the right to voice dissent.""Hmmmmm." he said. He still looked interested, so I gathered he was following me."Other people think it's about a society that values conformity rather than individuality, and how it encourages people to follow blindly rather than thinking for themselves. How it's completing squelching any inclination or desire to be different."


Randall piped in to ask once again why their faces were like that. "The masks hide their identity so that nothing about them is distinguishable from the others. It obliterates their humanity. They become, just "another brick in the wall". Randall didn't get it. At 8, he's still very literal minded. "Are their faces all burnt or something?" Andrew rolled his eyes. "Their faces aren't burnt, duh. Mom just told you why they're wearing masks.""I don't get it." he said, clearly nonplussed about it. "Honey...if you look at the bricks in a wall...are they different from one another? If you took the bricks out of the wall, and mixed them all up in a pile, would you know which one was which? I saw the realization hit his eyes. "OOOOHHHHHHHH! The KIDS are the BRICKS. They're mad because they don't want to be all the same. They have ideas and stuff." "YES!!" I exclaimed, startling him a little. "But it could be just about kids who don't like school, couldn't it?""


Sure. It could. Sometimes, a songwriter wants the the listener to interpret the lyrics in their own way." "I think it's about that." "Then it is."He looked extraordinarily pleased with himself. And so, in a manner that I'm sure Pink Floyd never really intended, (unless the pop culture academics are wrong and it really is about a kid who hates school) "Another Brick in the Wall" became Randall's ode to academic disillusionment and malcontent. For Andrewthough...it became something different. It became a really salient example of the undeniable power of such a medium. It appealed to him and impressed him.


"Damn" he said quietly. I gave him my best displeased mother look. "Sorry Mom. But geez....that's just.....brilliant."I assure you, he was in reference to the song lyrics and their metaphorical prowess, not my philosophical grandstanding. He got it. That's really cool. But it's also kind of bittersweet, because it seems like just yesterday that I had to explain to him why we don't eat boogers.


And I know that it won't always be so easy to answer his questions or impress him with my insight. Pink Floyd = Cake Walk. God help me when he wants to discuss Nietsche or Proust.



Disclaimer: The above conversation with Randall has been abridged in order to preserve the sanity of the reader. Let's just say, the kid knows how to pummel a dead horse with remarkable efficacy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Thirteen


Today I am going to share 13 tips with you. You will probably wonder how you ever lived without knowing about these before.


1. Peel a banana from the bottom and you won’t have to pick the little “stringy things” off of it. That’s how the primates do it.


2. Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.


3. Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating. Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.


4. Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.


5. For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt Andes mints in double broiler and pour over warm brownies. Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.


6. Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.


7. To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.


8. Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold.


9. Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy microwaved pizza.


10. When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.


11. To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.


12. Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.


13. To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Own Worst Critic

So, lately I've noticed the scale dwindling in numbers after climbing back up in the early part of the fall. This summer while I was up in Canada I lost almost 15 pounds. It was awesome.....until I came home and gained it all back. Well lately, the stress of our life, and not hving the money to eat out everyday, I'm back down another 9 pounds again. I should be happy right?

Sigh, I guess I really am a woman. After this latest "victory" on the scale, I stripped and stood in front of the bathroom mirror with a tape measure, trying not to notice that the phalanx of glaring lights illuminated every blemish, ripple and roll. I stared down at my toes to avoid looking at my midsection, and sighed in resignation as the dialogue of scathing self-criticism commenced.

Me: Holy Crap, we have some wide-ass feet.

Myself: Hm. I don't believe we have ever seen anybody else with perfectly square feet.

I: Somebody should call Guiness.

Me: We probably shouldn't paint our toes that particular shade of coral, then.

Myself: It does sort of draw the eye downward, doesn't it?

I: Well at least that takes the focus off of our knee bulges.

Me: Those are hereditary!

Myself: Nods

I: Hereditarily FAT.
Me: I'm really more concerned about our saddlebags.

Myself: We were just born curvy.

I (incredulously): Those aren't saddlebags, those are freaking foot lockers. You could store rations for an entire platoon in those things.

Me: Well...at least our stomach doesn't look too bad...considering.

Myself: Noooooo, but it could use a little toning.

I: Ladies...navels are not supposed to be FLUTED.

Me: It's not FLUTED! It's just a little...tired.

Myself: Girls, girls, it looks fine. At least it's still an innie, that's something, right?

I: Sure, if you think that makes up for the fact that it's three inches lower than it used to be.

Me: Well, it doesn't matter, nobody sees it anyway. And hey...the girls still look pretty good for our age.

Myself: Yes, they really do.

I: You two do realize that headlights are supposed to point straight ahead, don't you?

Me: Well they do...mostly.

Myself: Except when we sit down.

I: Or stand up. Or bend over. When the headlights on the car point different directions like that Husband takes it in for an adjustment.

Me: You think we need an adjustment?

Myself: Like surgery?

I: No, certainly not. We're perfectly okay with wall-eyed nips, right?

Me: Well, we do prefer to age gracefully.

Myself: Right. We believe in women looking like real women.

I: Real women with fluted navels and wall-eyed nips. I'm sure it will be all the rage soon. Hef oughta be calling any minute now.

Me: Why do you always have to be so negati....HOLY FREAKING COW what is that?!?

Myself: It appears to be a whisker.

I: Why are you freaking out? We've been dealing with chin hairs since we turned 30.

Me: Yes, but that one is like FOUR inches long! How could you let us walk around like that??

Myself: It's not really four inches long. Maybe two.

I: Relax...one chin hair does not a beard make.

Me: Where is that damn TWEEZERS?? I swear if Ryker used it to fish legos out of the toilet again I'm going to wring his neck.

Myself: Here it is. Remember? We were plucking our eyebrows in the bathtub.

I: While we're at it, maybe we should do some maintenance on those nose hairs.

Me: Oh geez...not nose hair. Anything but nose hair.

Myself: Well, it's really only one nose hair. That shows.

I: It only shows when someone is looking straight up our nose. Get a grip.

Me: Well....I think we're being entirely too hard on ourself. Husband loves us unconditionally and he still thinks we are beautiful.

Myself: Yes, he does. We are very lucky.

I: Husband is blinded by love.

Me: He is not. He likes real women.

Myself: That's right. He doesn't like skinny plasticized women.

I: Riiiiiiight, he prefers fat kneed women with fluted navels and nipples askew. He's found his ideal woman, then hasn't he?

Me: Well, I guess the only thing left to check out is the caboose.

Myself, I (in unison): NO!

Myself: weeps gently

I: Really, haven't we had enough indignity for one day?

Me: Yes, I suppose so. It's not going anywhere.

I: Ain't that the truth.

Me: See...there you go again being negative.

I: I'm not being negative. I'm being realistic.

Me: Negative.

I: Realistic.

Me: Negative.

I: Rea-

Myself (still weeping): ENOUGH!! For the love of GOD enough! Don't you know what you're doing to us!!

Me: I think we need a drink.

Myself: I think we need chocolate.

I: I think we need to get laid.

Me: Veto. That requires getting naked.

Myself: I have to agree. We're demoralized enough right now.

I: Alright, alright. How about a pint of Rocky Road?

Me, Myself: Now you're talking.

I stepped away from the mirror wondering why I see nothing but imperfection when confronted by my reflection. I am confident in my worth as a thinker, a writer, a problem solver, a manager and a mother (for the most part). Why then do I judge my physical self so harshly? Why do I hold myself to an impossible standard? Why do I care so much? And then I thought...I am really in no mood for all this introspective bullshit. I'm going to go have some of that ice cream.

And I did.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Worth Wondering

People who read my blog with any sort of regularity sometimes say..."Wow, you've lived a really interesting/extraordinary/unusual life!" Yes, I have. But so have you. And so has the mailman. And the grocery store clerk. And that guy who puts weed killer on my lawn. And the homeless man begging at the on-ramp to I75. And the librarian who makes polite chit chat with me about the books that I check out.

My life is no more or less interesting than a thousand other lives out there. There is extraordinary in the ordinary. There is beauty in the mundane. There is nobility in the prosaic. There is heroism in mediocrity. We just have to open our eyes and see it.

I've always been a people watcher. It's my favorite pastime. I notice things about them and I invent entire lifestories based on insignificant details, such as a battered wristwatch on the arm of an otherwise expensively dressed man (It was his father's, whom he never knew, because he was killed in WWII when his plane was shot down. The watch was the only thing recovered).

And who's to say these fabulous things aren't true? It's not impossible. And chances are that something even more profound and wonderful than my imaginings lies within the real lifestory. Because life and the people who live it are that intereseting. Really. Online, as in real life, I have a very small, intimate circle of friends. And both of these circles contain people with amazing life stories, unimaginable courage and perserverence, and unshakable conviction when it comes to their principles, their beliefs and their passion. So have I just won the cool people and amazing friends lottery? Well, I'd like to think so. My friends are pretty special people. But the fact is...EVERYONE has something and is something worth celebrating.

That grungy guy panhandling on the Interstate could be a Vietnam vet. Maybe he saved an entire platoon from extermination, except one guy. Maybe he had to hide in the jungle and eat centipedes for a year before he was rescued and returned to his home. Maybe he still has nightmares about that one guy and wakes up screaming and that's why he can't hold a job. Maybe he's just now beginning to believe he is safe. Maybe that nondescript cashier at the grocery store has seventeen adopted children. Maybe the Mailman runs a soup kitchen in his spare time. Maybe that guy who puts weed killer on my lawn risked his life to smuggle an entire village across the border so they could have a better life. Maybe that unassuming librarian is a whip cracking Dominatrix when the sun goes down. You just never know.

So the next time you're tempted to think of my life as extraordinary because of the things that I've written about, just take a look at your own. Take a look at the people in it. Look beneath the surface and find the extraordinary. It's there. I guarantee it. Wonder about people. Because they're almost all worth wondering about.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Filed under "I Hate That"

I've been a Mom for about 12 years now, and I understand that kids are programmed to test limits, explore boundaries, and try things on for size. Most of the time, I accept this with the kind of resignation that comes from beating one's head against a metaphorical brick wall. Eventually one learns that brick is unyielding because it is brick, and that the end result of repeated blunt force trauma to the maternal psyche is one heck of an emotional headache.

So I roll with the punches. I answer questions that I've answered a thousand times before. I resist the urge to say "Because I SAID so" or "Because I'm your mother, THAT'S why". I try to encourage cooperation by respecting their need to feel that they have some control over their own lives. I give them options. I pick my battles. But sometimes, I just want my kids to do what I say, when I say, how I say. Yesterday was one of those days.

It has been an insanely busy and incredibly stressful day. We left the house at 8:00 am and when we finally arrived home, we were both emotionally and physically exhausted. We headed into the bedroom to change into lounging clothes, both sighing as we peeled the damp and binding denim from our middle aged bodies. We collapsed upon the bed and commenced a half-hearted debate about who was going to cook supper, knowing full well that we would most likely be prevailing upon one of the many wonderful establisments that will bring food and drink to our doorstep. The boys had been instructed to remove their filthy, sweaty clothes and hit the shower.

But kids have this kind of sixth sense that enables them to discern exactly when parents are incabable of enforcing a given directive. They know when we are enfeebled by life. They busily employed every tactic known to them in purposeful avoidance of said directive. Husband and I rolled our eyes at one another, but neither of us made a move to rise and deal with the situation. When the harmless dilly dallying turned to bickering over who would shower first, (a matter of great import, given the ferocity to which this argument escalated) I sighed, my lassitude turning to irritation. So without moving a muscle, I slipped into the barking efficiency of a drill sergeant. That is to say, I attempted to effect a response with the only faculty I was able to summon at the moment. "BOYS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Quit bickering this instant!! Randall...YOU go FIRST! You have TEN MINUTES to wash up and get out! DO NOT WASH YOUR HAIR WITH SOAP! DO NOT LEAVE THE SHAMPOO BOTTLE OPEN ON THE BOTTOM OF THE TUB! DO NOT LEAVE THE SOAP IN THE DRAIN! HANG UP YOUR TOWEL! DO NOT LEAVE YOUR UNDERWEAR ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR! Andrew, stay OUT of the bathrooom until it YOUR turn!!"

I turned to husband with a self-satisfied air, only to find him smirking at me. "What?" I asked. He opened his mouth and with perfect intonation that left no doubt as to whom he was impersonating, bawled,"RESPECT MAH AUTHORI-TAH!!"And darn him...I laughed. And he laughed. And I laughed even harder because he is such a dork that he doesn't even keep it to himself when he thinks he has said something very funny or clever. He has no problem letting everyone know he cracks himself right the Hell up. So pretty soon we were both laughing so hard we could hardly breathe and my irritation was gone.

He totally killed my bitch vibe.

I hate that.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Okay, so I know I'm a day late.............

For some reason, I've been a day behind all week. So, I know it's Friday, but here is this weeks Thursday Thirteen:

Thirteen Things That Bother Me (LOL -- You can tell I'm sick today)

1. When people don't use blinkers.

2. Putting on make-up while driving. (I am not talking about freshening up your lipstick, although that is probably not too safe either, but about full make-up application) People who read or eat while driving bother me too.

3. When people turn right on red while I am trying to turn left into the same lane and I have a left turn light.

4. When shopping carts are left in the parking places.

5. When people carelessly take up more than one space. (I promise the other day someone had pulled through to the front space so they were "backed in" to their space and managed to take up 4 spots. I kid you not, why didn't I take a pic???)

6. When someone drives in the left lane at slow speeds.

7. When customer service people do other things while checking me out.

8. When people are rude to customer service or wait staff. (The second is not smart, I worked as a waitress long enough to know that you should not be mean to the last person to see your food before you do. Please note that I never did anything gross to anyone's food, I don't have it in me but there are plenty of people who do.)

9. When people are habitually late for no other reason than they can't leave on time. My time is as important as yours! (Grrr…..hubby is bad for this one)

10. When someone does not thank you for holding the door open for them.

11. When someone does not wave or nod or some form of kind gesture when I let them over in my lane or stop so they can pull onto the road in front of me...Must be a Canadian thing.

12. When people do not respond to the RSVP or please reply or Regrets of an invitation.

13. When people think that they are entitled (this one is probably a Thursday Thirteen of it's own but I will leave it at that for now.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dear Poptart Singers:

I'm not really a fan, but I am familiar with your work. In most cases, I find you pleasant enough to listen to. However, I do have a small request to make. Respectfully, if you cannot sing in that key, reach that note, remember those words, or otherwise perform Christmas Carols exactly as they were written and as they have been performed for decades, and in some cases, centuries....DON'T MAKE A CHRISTMAS ALBUM.

I am a traditionalist, you see, as are, I believe, most folks when it comes to Christmas carols. I do not believe these songs are improved by dubious vocal acrobatics, impressive though they undoubtedly are to your masses of adoring tone deaf fans. I do not believe that speaking, shouting or shrieking the lyrics to these songs is "innovative". Let me do you a kindness and clue you in to the fact that you are not fooling anyone by changing the arrangement or the key. We are quite aware that the "fresh new spin" you put on our beloved carols is to disguise the fact that your voice is not up to the task of performing them. Not that there is any shame in that. O Holy Night is an incredibly difficult piece to perform. Only people with true ability and competent instruction can pull it off, and let's just be honest...that eliminates about 98% of contemporary artists.

For an example of near perfect execution, please listen to John Berry sing O Holy Night. Really, his entire Christmas repertoire is flawless.





THAT is how to sing a Christmas Carol. Those little bumps on your skin? Those are goosepimples. Thank You,

Sincerely,

A woman who is typically completely moved by Christmas carols and who is not amused when they are bastardized by adolescent Poptarts.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Dreams May Come

The night before last, my eleven year old had a horrible nightmare. He appeared at my bedside and simply waited for me to become aware of him. It only took a moment. We mothers have finely honed spidey sense that is uniquely adapted to intuiting the distress of our offspring.

"What's wrong, babe?" I asked in a mumbling sleep slur. "I had a bad dream." It was a statement, not a plea. Because eleven year olds are actuely aware that they are eleven years old. He stood there, pale and trembling. He hadn't done that in a very long time. "Do you want to sleep with me?" He climbed in without a word. When he was in the bed, he slowly, shyly backed his behind up to mine. And it was enough. He slept.

We've all had those nightmares that are so real that they cannot be banished by merely waking haven't we? Even as adults, those dreams haunt a person. They compel us to seek out the company of others. To turn on lights. To check under beds and inside closets. To keep away from windows. To avoid turning our back on a darkened room. Recently Ryker had been sick with a really bad cold and RSV-like symptoms (you know.....wheezy breathing, gurgling sounds in his sleep), and I had a horrible dream that he drowned. The sick feeling in the pit of my stomach didn't leave me for a week and I was hyper vigilant to the point of being obsessive. I couldn't touch him enough. I needed to assure myself that he was still there. The terror, the grief, the feel of his cold limp little body in my arms as I begged nameless faceless people not to take him from me...it was so very real. I just couldn't shake it.

Another time, after hearing a news story about a toddler lost in the woods, who ultimately died after wandering in circles so long the feetie pajamas he had on were worn through, I repeatedly dreamt about being lost myself. *I* was that toddler, crying for my Mommy, wondering why she didn't come. I was so cold, so alone. That was probably five years ago, but I still remember the stark terror of that dream. I can remember the chill in my bones and the feel of the snow underneath my torn and bleeding feet.

As a child, I'm sure I had many nightmares, but there are a few that stand out for their vividness. One involved the bathtub drain. I was old enough when I had this dream to realize I was way too big to be sucked down the drain. But the dream was so very real that I couldn't bring myself to take a bath. Instead I showered standing as far as I possibly could from the drain. I was also old enough to realize that was unbelievably silly. Ashamed, I never told anyone. But I showered that way for quite some time.

Last night, Drew resisted going into his room. He did his homework at the kitchen table instead of at his desk. He asked to use my computer, instead of using his own. I wondered what was going on, but frankly, I haven't completely figured out this almost a teenager but sometimes still a kid phase yet, and so I left it alone. I had forgotten the nightmare. But he hadn't. It was still haunting him. When it was time for bed, he reluctantly and sheepishly admitted that he didn't want to go in his room. Now, Andrew tends to be a bit melodramatic, so Husband looked at me with his brows raised. "Go get in my bed" I said. Husband's brows raised a millimeter higher. But as an adult who still can't bear to sleep with the closet door open, I am sympathetic to the fears that plague the child in all of us in those lonely hours between dark and dawn. And I never underestimate the power of a dream. The relief on is face was a testament to that power. "He had a nigthmare" I said. Husband shrugged.

This morning, Drew said simply, "Thanks Mom." Sometimes, parenting is really hard. And sometimes, it's almost ridiculously easy. A safe place to sleep...the comfort of Mom, who is, of course invinceable, and can certainly banish any foe, real or imagined with just her...Momness...

I can do that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Legacy Revealed

I am a Mom of boys. This suits me just fine, as I have little patience for female histrionics, melodrama and backbiting whether it be from girls or grown women. But I cried when it was revealed that my oldest child was a boy. As a 20 yr old female, I felt completely at ease with the thought of mothering girl children, but I was gripped by the fear that I would be woefully inept at raising a boy.

That fear evaporated of course, the moment he was laid on my breast, tiny and squalling. I would learn. Years later it's funny to reflect on that. I can't imagine life with girls. We do pretty well my men and me. But because of gender differences, it's hard to see myself in my boy children and sometimes it makes me feel a little sad. I would have liked a girl to remind myself of me. I would have loved to hear people say that she is the spitting and image of me, as they say about my youngest son and my husband. Or that she is a little Mommy like I was at that age. Or that she can't keep her nose out of a book. For that reason, I really miss the girl child that I will never have.

Late the other night as I sat in front of the computer bleary eyed; really too tired to write, but determined to take advantage of the rare moment of absolute peace and quiet, my oldest son stole down the steps and timidly called out to me. "Mom?"I was annoyed at having my solitude disrupted. With ill-concealed impatience, I snapped at him. "WHAT??"

There was a moment of silence, during which I assume, he was contemplating whether it was prudent to continue. "Ummmm, Mom, I can't sleep. Can I come down and talk to you?" I softened a little. I've been an insomniac for years and I can relate to the torture of lying in bed unable to sleep; body willing, but mind awhirl. "Come on down and tell me about it." I called.

He traipsed down the stairs and appeared before me squinting in the lamplight, blonde hair sticking up in riotous disarrary. I pulled him onto my lap, ignoring the fact that at 11 yrs old he is almost as tall as I am and his legs dangled nearly to the floor. Since we were alone, his dignity was not affronted and he did not resist, but settled against me with satisfying bonelessness.

"What is it Drew?" I asked as I tried to smooth the peaks and whorls in his hair. He sighed heavily, and replied, "Well...I've been thinking about my story...."He's been working dilligently for weeks on a very detailed story chronicling the adventures of a valiant Knight and his evil nemesis. "I keep thinking of things I want to write and I'm afraid I won't remember them in the morning. I feel like I want to write them down right now. I'll never be able to sleep if I don't."

In that moment, I saw myself in my son. I felt connected to him. I saw that some part of me would live on. I imagined a nameless faceless young descendant far in the future, earnestly scribbling his or her first story, being told..."You know...your great great grandmother Erin always wanted to be a writer." I hugged him hard enough to make him grunt, and said, "Go work on your story. You have 30 minutes."

He grinned and scampered off, mindful of every second. And when I tucked him in thirty minutes later, his eyes drifted quickly shut, his mind at ease; divested of the words that burgeon within him unbidden.

That's my boy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Customer Disservice

As most women do, I spend an inordinate amount of time in retail venues of one sort or another. There is food, clothing, entertainment and edification to be procured, and as the household steward, it falls to me to provide them. My role has led to a startling observation regarding customer service, which is, quite simply…nobody cares, least of all the managers who are charged with the running of these establishments.

At the grocery store, I am met at the checkout by a sullen gaze and stony silence which is broken only to bark out a total. My eggs are packed beneath a pound of flour and a bottle of Juicy Juice. My bread is sandwiched (pun intended) between canned goods, and my chips are ground into greasy smithereens by a box of laundry detergent. And nothing, but nothing is quite so maddening as arriving home to find that a small much needed item is missing from the bags, but not the receipt. I have taken to packing and carrying my own groceries and will forcefully discourage baggers from approaching with a malevolent glare. Groceries are too expensive these days to risk such destruction and it galls me to have to tip someone who has blithely mangled my cantaloupe.

And what about clothing stores? I remember the days when salesladies would gladly fetch a hopefully smaller size, suggest a matching top or accessory, and offer honest, but kind opinions. Nowadays they simply lurk in the aisles, glancing around balefully; watching with eagle eyes as you enter the dressing room, but not venturing near enough that one might mistakenly assume they are there to offer assistance.

What is to blame for this decline in industry standards? I think it is the industry itself, which has become like the discount warehouse stores we frequent so gleefully. There is anything one would ever want in every size, shape and color one could possibly want it, but no window dressing, no amenities. The pride that once came from ownership is now swallowed up by the corporate bottom line. Customer service takes a backseat to profit margins and fiscal concerns.

I live in a large Metropolitan area. The phrase “urban sprawl” is woefully inadequate to describe the relentless development that occurs here. In such a place, mom and pop businesses are hard to find. When I find one, I patronize it with single minded loyalty as my own personal screw you to big business. I am under no illusion as to the impact this will have on Walma......er, um, Bigger Better and Cheaper Mart, but it makes me feel marginally better about the state of things.

I like being called by name. And I don’t mean in that I just read it off your credit card way. I like being thanked for my business. I like it when a store owner or clerk recommends an item because they remember me and they remember what I like, not because the computer gave them an itemized list of my last 47 purchases. Is that really so much to ask when I am handing over a disconcertingly large percentage of our hard earned money? I don’t think so, but apparently Bigger Better and Cheaper Mart does.

Still, I suppose Bigger Better and Cheaper Mart serves it’s purpose. I guess those who drop out of high school because they got the head cheerleader pregnant have to work somewhere. And I suppose that all those children in Columbia would just be out on the streets doing something shiftless like…playing if they weren’t working in sweat shops turning out more affordable crap for the American consumer. And who would clear all that irksome forestation that clutters the landscape with unsightly greenness if not for places like Bigger Better and Cheaper Mart? Yes sir, they are an important cog in the Capitalist wheel. And hey, who needs meaningless pleasantries when you can get your heart’s desire for $9.99 or less?

Friday, November 7, 2008

In Support of Soccer Moms

I have something that I would like to say to those who sneer at so called Soccer Moms and Coach Dads, and who imply that encouraging and supporting our kids in these pursuits is nothing more than a means of achieving personal glory by forcing our kids to fulfill the dreams of our own disappointing youth.

Screw You.

Yep. You heard me. The only reason I can think of for a person to villify parents who take an active role in their kids' sports activities, or any activity for that matter is to justify their own disinterest in doing so.

As the Mom of boys, I get involved in martial arts, soccer and basketball because it's their "thing", and because there is no hope they they will ever be interested in retail therapy or anything that involves setting foot inside a beauty salon. There are some non-sporting activities that we enjoy together, and I cherish them. But libraries and museums simply don't hold as much appeal for them as a freshly chalked soccer field, or the sound of a basetball being dribbled against the hardwood. Whether I like it or not, these sports are where it's at right now. If I want to spend time with my boys, I have to take an interest in boy stuff. It's really that simple.

And I learned that when my boys were young and I tried valiantly to provide them with gender balanced playthings. The Queasy Bake Oven sat unused until my son realized that you can melt crayons and plastic soldiers in it. The gender neutral (read: not pink) kitchen set was upended and used as a citadel. The disturbingly asexual "friends" that I bought for them often ended up as prisoners of war, and were treated accordingly. And play-doh, more often than not, was launched, shot, or catapulted from various makeshift weaponry. The vacuum was a hit for a while, until the motor broke. Silent, it was nothing more than a glorified broom, and therefore, exceedingly uninteresting. I tried. But nature clearly outweighs nurture in the case of my boys, regardless of how desperately consistently the nurturing was applied.

Now, if someone can explain to me how encouraging, supporting, and becoming involved with an activity that gets my kids outdoors, away from television and video games, and which has been shown to reduce the risk of substance abuse and criminal activity is a BAD thing...I'm all ears. But if you're just going to spout a bunch of ignorant drivel about misspent youth and glory unrealized, you'll have to pardon me if I put my fingers in my ears and sing "Kiss Off" at the top of my lungs. But you know, it doesn't have to be sports. It could be anything. Find your kid's passion and then help them live it, breathe it, dream it. And let them know that whatever that dream is, you will be there to help him or her achieve it. Make them think you believe with all your heart and soul that they could be the next Mumenshantz. Let them know you give a darn about the finer points of competitive soap carving or interpretive clog dancing. I want my kids to look back one day and realize that I was at every game. Every match. Every whatever. That I sold hotdogs in the rain and washed cars in 40 degree weather so their team/troupe/band could go the playoffs or whatever it is that represents the pinnacle of achievement and prowess for their activity of choice.

It matters. And if you think it doesn't, you're fooling yourself.

That is all.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday Thirteen


Thirteen Confessions to My Mother


1.Without looking in the mirror, I can tell when my face has an expression exactly like yours.


2. You are the bravest person I ever met.


3. Every piece of your advice that I've rejected I've now given to someone else.


4. The inside of my bathroom drawer looks exactly like the inside of your bathroom drawer.


5. You were right about the eyebrow-plucking thing.


6. You were right about "what's his [their] name."


7. When something great or terrible happens to me, you aren't always the first person I tell, but your always the first person I think of.


8. Nothing anyone has ever said to me matches the power of one look from you.


9. I wish I could live one day over with you when I was five, ten, fifteen, and twenty years old.


10. The fact that you have such a good relationship with God has always made me feel safe.


11. Even though you know me better than anyone in the world, I still clean the house before you come as though I were trying to impress a complete stranger.


12. I love that you never ask what happened to the hundreds of articles of clothing that we spent thousands of hours choosing, altering, trying on, discussing, and coordinating.


13. Your twenty-four-hour motherly hotline means more to me than Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, Caller ID, and voice mail combined.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

So, do I inhale or exhale?


This morning when Drew woke up, his eyes half open and still sleepy, snuggled under the covers, he quietly asked in his groggy morning voice, "Did Obama win?"When I told him the outcome, he sat up, made a fist and said, as if it was his own triumph, "YES!"

That's the tone I want to be able to savor as we move forward from the eight years of disappointment and worry this country has been through, eight years of deception and greed, eight years of losing ourselves.We've survived one of the longest and most emotionally taxing elections in memory. And I want to feel that elation that my son showed this morning, but I'm still hesitant. Not because I have any more reservations about Barack Obama, but because I have reservations about us as a country.
We did something truly amazing last night -- something I never thought I would see in my lifetime, and I don't just mean the election of the first African-American President.I didn't think, given the state of divisive politics, personal attacks and gamesmanship that had become the status quo of our political world, that I would ever see red and blue truly become purple. But last night, as the states were being turned colors on the news network's maps, the red and the blue did begin to blend together. And although I am not an American, and may not live in this country much longer, I started to weep. I feared for my children growing up in a country where it had become accepted practice to attack politicians' families, to mock people's education and intellect, and to believe it was alright to say and do whatever it took to win a vote, regardless of the consequences, be they tangible or moral.
This morning, for the first time in many years, I have hope that this nation is on the road to recovering its political soul. I'm not letting Barack Obama off the hook. I will be there making sure that our new administration takes seriously the issues of equal pay for equal work, that it makes sure that our sons and daughters have quality day care and health care and that, on some level, we acknowledge that we are our brothers' keepers.
If we have learned nothing else from the last eight years, it should be this -- if we continue to allow our government to throw its hands up and say "It's not our responsibility," we are doomed.Thank goodness doom is not the feeling I have this morning, just joy tinged with a little pragmatism. Because the words and the spirit of being one country again are wonderful, but the work that needs to start today to keep that going will be hard and frustrating at times.This morning, I can exhale because voters stood up to the politics of deception and division and sent a clear message -- we are done with that. I can inhale because there is fresh political air blowing today. And its breeze feels wonderful.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Remorse

Sometimes, I feel like a big fat loser in the Mom department.

This week has been one from hell, with hubbys business folding and not knowing if we're going to be able to sell things off to have enought money to ride it out until the school year is over.....or if we will have to pull the boys out of school at Christmas break and head back up to Canada. I am stressed and anxious and my patience with the boys has worn thin. The bickering and tattling make me want to put my fingers in my ears and chant LALALALALALALALA...I can't HEEEEEARRRR yoooooooooo!" Some behavior issues with my youngest have me worried and frustrated and conflicted.

Their father has been away for hours at a time trying to get deals closed and equipment sold off, and sometimes doesn't even see the kids at all before they go to bed at night. I'm getting a taste of what single motherhood is like, with none of the benefits. The result of all this is that I've been a grouchy, impatient shrew of a woman this week. I've complained about my kids to anyone who will listen and I've carped at them about one thing after another. If bitchiness was an illness, I would require an IV drip of nice. Yes, that bad.

Today I found out that two people I know are facing the possible loss of their children; one due to leukemia, another due to an AVM in her brain. Another acquaintance was recently told that her baby has died in utero at 20 weeks. And -- wow -- how I want to take it all back. All I can think about is the fact that if one of my children died tomorrow, their last memories of their mother would be pretty dismal.

I'm sorry boys. I love you like nobody's business and my life would be so very empty without you. I would be destroyed if anything happened to you.

Hug your children today. Tell them that you love them. Apologize if you need to. I did.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Failing our Children

(This is a long one...you might want to grab a cup of coffee or a Diet Coke. Or, you could just skip it. It's just a bunch of rambling about one of my pet issues. But if you have kids who will one day be publicly educated, I implore you to read on.)\

Last week was conference week at Randall's school. I did not expect to get a glowing report on him, though he is exceptionally bright. Yes, I know every parent thinks that their progeny is the next Steven Hawking, but I actually have documentation to substantiate my claim. And yes, that sounds just as pretentious when I say it out loud.

But my children think "outside the box". They learn and process through experimentation, manipulation and sensory stimulation. They are extremely creative and hunger for visual and tactile sustenance. Public school does not know what to do with my children, and so, they are compartmentalized within the very narrow definition of "gifted" and farmed out a couple days a week to harried accelerated learning specialists who have too many students and not enough resources. The rest of the time, they must fend for themselves; technicolor thinkers in a black and white world.

During my second grader's conference, the very timeworn issue of "lack of focus" came up, as it always does. The teacher, who is actually exceptionally well suited to her job and infinitely more patient with my child than I am, slid a worksheet accross the table with lips pursed and waited expectantly for me to comment. The front of the sheet you see, was utterly pristine. There was not one pencil mark upon it. The back however, was completely covered in graphite...a riot of shapes and shading that upon closer insepction revealed a very detailed and richly embellished medieval battle scene. This is how my darling 8 year old spent the morning, while his classmates dilligently filled in the blanks on their worksheets. The problem then was not lack of focus, but that which my son chose to focus on.

Randall has art instruction once a week, and obviously, this is not enough to slake my child's thirst. He was simply seeking another outlet for his creative energy, worksheets be damned. Anyway, it was quite clear that she expected me to be as outraged by this as she was. Try as I might, I simply could not summon the kind of indignation that I knew any conscientious mother would should be feeling. Here is why:

Since the dawn of time, man has used the arts to communicate, to create a tapestry of the human experience, and to give meaning to his existence. In the ancient world, a civilization possessed of a strong artistic culture was thought to have a citizenry superior in intellect and inventiveness.Unfortunately, as our world becomes more technologically oriented, with great scientific advances and medical marvels, emphasis on and interest in the arts has waned to the point of being deemed almost inconsequential. Sadly, only 36% of American students receive the recommended minimum of one hour per week of art instruction, despite the fact that the benefits of arts education are well documented.

Numerous studies have shown that a comprehensive arts education helps children:

Learn more effectively in all areas of the school curriculum, including math and science.

Experience greater understanding of what they learn

Score higher on all aspects of the SAT.

Acheive higher levels of academic success in college.

According to research by Professor Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University, young people who practice the arts are:

Four times more likely to win an academic award

Eight times more likely to receive a community service award

Three times more likely to win a school attendance award

Four times more likely to participate in a math or science fair.

Public schools are failing our children. As funding becomes increasingly scarce, and more and more emphasis is placed on standardized testing, our children are becoming one dimensional and creatively stunted. Classroom learning is tailored to those who are "normal" or "average", and those who fall above or below that designation are left to swim against the current in the vain hope of making it to shore. They either dog paddle in place, placidy treading water and waiting for their peers to catch up, or they are dragged beneath the waves and held there while the rest of the school swims effortlessly by.

Parents, wake up. Other developed nations are surpassing us at every level of education. Their children are more well-rounded, more intuitive, more able to compete in a global marketplace because they are provided with artistic, literary, musical and theatrical instruction as part of their everyday curriculum. If we don't take a page from their book, our kids will soon be absent from the pages of history. If we cut physical education programs, our kids get fat. If we cut enrichment programs, our kids get flat. It's really very simple.

(Yes, I got a bit long winded. Forgive me. It's one of my passions and it's important.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday Thirteen


Thirteen affirmations to live by ~ by Louise Hays


1. I am not responsible for others. I am under the law of my own consciousness.


2. Each day is a new opportunity. Yesterday is over and gone.


3. I am neither too little nor too much, and I do not have to prove myself to anyone.


4. I give myself the gift of freedom from the past and move with joy and into the NOW.


5. Love flows through my body, healing all disease.


6. I drop habits that no longer serve me. I feel good!


7. I appreciate the abundance that surrounds me.


8. I am grateful for all that I have received in life.


9. I follow my higher instincts and listen to my heart in all that I do.


10. I give myself permission to be happy and healthy.


11. I am so much more than I give myself credit for. (This is a tough on for me to remember sometimes)


12. The more love I use and give, the more I have to give, the supply is endless.


13. In any given situation, I know that I have a choice between love and fear. I choose love.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Mother's Prayer

Dear God,

When you gave him to me, I tried to be philosophical. Really, I did. I tried to believe that there was some reason I had been chosen to mother a "spirited" child. I mean...I know I got a little sanctimonious when the first one turned out to be so well-behaved and I'm sorry. I realize now that the credit lies with his easygoing nature, and not my superlative parenting skills as I might have implied once or twice...or, every time I saw my friend with the serial biter.

And I completely understand and accept that my patience level was not where it needed to be in order to parent such a resolute child. Worms in the pocket, matchbox cars in the toilet and grooming the dog with my hot rollers and a lint brush were all valuable exercises in that regard. Thank You.

I can honestly say that my patience with and tolerance for such behavior has increased tenfold. I could have done without finding him perched atop the play structure, but I realize it was for my own good. So I have tried to be humble and accept that you are testing me, challenging me, encouraging me to find new and better ways of parenting with my second son, who has shattered every preconceived idea I had about myself and parenting in general. I have tried to appreciate that I was being given an opportunity to learn and grow. But after nearly 9 years of doing it your way, I have to face the truth of the matter....

You're just messin' with me, aren't you?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Thirteen


(Me and my cousin, Julie......I'm the one in the blue)
Thirteen Things I Remember Doing As A Child In The Summer


(I don't think alot of kids even do this anymore.)


1. Leave the house after breakfast, on our bikes and be gone for the whole day. The rule being that you had to be home at 5:00 for supper. We would bike forever.


2. Water balloons, dodge ball, Red Rover with all the neighborhood kids.


3. Take the portable tape player outside in the yard and listen to music


4. Walked barefoot all over the place, and the ashphalt used to sink in when we stepped on it.


5. Sleep overs in the neighbors or cousins tents.


6. Ride our bikes all the way to the pool, or walk depending our mood.


7. The corner stores and the Merc used to take our empty bottles back, our parents gave us two glass litre size bottles to take back, and we'd buy candy with it.


8. We took all the patio furniture out into the grass, and make huge forts with sheets and clothespins.


9. We would actually spend a whole day at a playground, making up scenes. Every kid in the playground was involved.


10. Bridge jumping.....nuff said.


11. Sit around on blankets in our bathing suits, reading Archie comics.


12. Skipped rope; I remember how we could get a ton of girls together, and skip all day long. Believe it or not I could even double dutch, cant remember how now.


13. Ride our bikes to Fast Eddie's for ice cream.


Boy after going down this memory lane, I wish I were a kid again. We had way more fun than kids today. Now a days, they're inside, cuz its too hot. Playing video games and watching tv.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cliche? You don't say!

I have always been befuddled by explaining things that don't involve words. Specifically to my kids. I can show my kids how to love, but I can't really tell them how to do this. As each person displays and receives love in a myriad of ways. I can tell them not to run into the street, but I can't explain how to be gentle to all people.There are some things that can only be shown.

But in the meantime, it seems as if this mom is losing her patience.I am going on a limb here-but when William Shakespeare said 'to thine own self be true' he wasn't speaking about being a parent.How do you 'stay true to yourself' at the same time leading by example? May not be possible, I say.

I came to this troubling conclusion a few weeks ago, as Randall is getting to where he pushes the envelope. I don't like the term 'sassy' as I view that in a different light than what he is up to. No, no, I am not watering down my issue with him. That is SO not my bag. I mean, I know kids always push envelopes-and then you go through phases when they are placid an easy going. It is the eternal roller coaster ride.Upon close evaluation, I notice Rand isn't (always) trying to get mouthy with me. Alot of time he is trying out his hand at sarcasm. A personality trait he learned by watching his parents. (tee hee)

But this is a fine line and one to be walked in shnazy shoes. With a sharp point matching that sharp tongue. I am all about my children learning how to be quick witted and enjoy dark humor. I am also a big fan of respect. We definately don't tolerate back talk. Not for a millisecond. And we have a laundry list of words and phrases that are unacceptable in our home. 'Shut Up', 'Stupid', 'Hate', 'Dumb' just to name a few.

Then how do you explain in simplified terms what respect is? You can't just outline it with a sentence(which is all the focal time I get in one sitting with my kids). I get that you have to display it and 'lead by example'.....but thats the other cliche.How, pray tell, do you get the point across that sarcasm coming from a youth's mouth can sound tiredly disrespectful without discouraging their want to come off humorous like their parents?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Things I Just Don't Get

My creative juices have dried up in the face of a small personal crisis, so what you get today is a short list of things I don't:

Anime.
This is art? In my humble opinion, it is eerily childlike, blatantly sexualized, thinly disguised pedophiliac fodder.

Hummers.
Let's bring this down to the lowest common denominator, shall we? Show me a guy who drives a Hummer and I'll show you a guy with a small one. Guaranteed.

Football.
I have no comment. Grown men in tight pants pummeling one another defies explanation.

Sushi.
I'm as gastonomically adventerous as the next person. But seriously, have you seen some of the stuff Japanese people eat? I'm not too keen on following their lead when it comes to epicurean delights.

Those haircuts with the back all messed up.
People go to school to learn how to do this?

Children's beauty pageants.
All children are beautiful. Quanitfying that beauty is truly tastelss and sad and servers only to illuminate the superficiality and hubris of those exploiting their offspring for commercial gain. Ick.

Spam.
Get a real job you pathetic loser. Nobody buys the "Prince from Dubai" schtick.

Penis enlargement products.
Is there really anybody gullible enough to believe these claims or insecure/desperate enough to actually pay money to avail themselves of these methods?. If so, chances are, they drive a Hummer.

People who create computer viruses.
Get any job, and stop being a blight on mankind you pathetic loser. Anybody who uses their brilliance for such malignant purpose should be horsewhipped.

Paris Hilton.
Being vacuous, ill-bred and easy is apparently enough to gain one a measure of celebrity these days. Perhaps I should change my ways. I could use the money
.
Lip plumping products.
Look, either you have lips, or you don't. Everybody knows if you're faking it.

Bullies.
Really...how insecure, embittered and misanthripic does a person have to to derive pleasure from hurting others?.

People who write without using paragraphs, capitals or punctuation.
I guess I missed the memo about these thing being phased out of the written language. Or perhaps they have simply become optional, to enable those who actually speak without breathing or thinking to write the same way. Who knew?

Natural beauty.
Simply put, unless you are thirteen, there is no such thing. Do everyone a favor...get your brows and stache waxed and put on some lipstick. And a bra wouldn't hurt...those puppies don't come with anti-gravity boosters.

That's all for now, but I will edit to add more that come to me. And I'm sure that more will come to me.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Darn you, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Darn your overly caffeinated/bouncing-off-the-walls Ty Pennington (and darn him for being so annoying, yet oh so yummy).

Darn your toothy, too-much-time-in-the-tanning-salon designers.

Darn your slap-you-in-the-head-with-an-anvil product placements (yeah, Bissell, Craftsman, Panasonic, we get it already).

Darn your Pottery Barn-perfect homes (I'd like to see what those places look like 3 months later).

Darn your country music guests (can't we get some relevant pop or rock artists on that show?).

Darn your worst-case-scenario/horrific tales of hardship, barely skirting the line between exploitation (for Kenmore, no less) and charity.

And double, triple darn you for making me cry. Every. Single. Episode. How the heck do you do it? And where the heck are my tissues?

Darn you, now my nose is all stuffed up.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Health of Mothers Makes No Difference To John McCain

I thought I had heard it all in presidential campaigns. But John McCain really took the cake Wednesday night when he decided to mock all women with this little snide retort:




Did you hear me scream when he said that? WTH doesn't even begin to cover it.Was he really suggesting that there are women who make up fake maladies to be able to procure late-term abortions, as if they were just sitting around in the Lazy-Boy until they hit their eighth month and then decided they just weren't in the mood to become mothers yet? No one in their right mind could really believe that, so all I can assume is that John McCain is truly out of his mind.

Either he let that little gem rip for effect, which didn't go so well, or he really meant that women like to feign physical problems to get medical attention. I suppose that could be based on some personal experience, but none of the women I know go around faking any sort of health problems, no matter what they're related to -- they don't have the time.

All I can say is this -- I hope none of McCain's daughters ever find themselves in a situation where their doctor has to raise the possibility of a late-term abortion. Because it doesn't sound like they'll be getting any sympathy or help from dear old dad.And don't even get me started about the fact that McCain apparently doesn't even know the difference between Down Syndrome and autism. *Sigh*

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ho, Ho, Ho!!!

I wish I still believed in Santa.

The facts don't lie. Every year I have to do Santa's job for him. I buy the gifts. I wrap them up. I put them under the tree. And he takes all the credit. If there really is a Santa, he owes me $12,234.67, and I want it.

I am pretty sure there is no Easter Bunny either. Who goes out and buys bags of yummy little chocolate eggs? Me. Who gets up at the crack of dawn and packs jelly beans and little bunny candies into plastic eggs for the egg hunt? Yep, me. And who puts up with the wads of Easter grass that continue to surface around the house until Thanksgiving? Me, that's who. So, Easter Bunny, if you too are out there, you better run, because I'm coming for you and I've got Elmer Fudd with me. Oh, and run the vacuum next time you swing by.

I am just down right positive there's no tooth fairy. Who's kidding who here? If this chick is for real I definitely want a refund of all the singles I have slipped under the pillow. What does she think I am? A stripper?

But kids, ahhh kids, they believe. Do they believe because we tell them to? Or is it inherently within them to believe? How nice it must be to be pure enough in mind to believe that anything is possible. Can you even remember when you could believe the existence of a big old fatty cramming gifts into a flaming chimney in the middle of the night? Can you recapture a time when you actually believed that a winged tooth swiper would fly into your room and trade parts extracted from the human mouth for cold hard cash?

Ahh the beauty and innocence of youth. So my question is this: At what point do we pull the rug out from under our kids? When exactly are we supposed to burst their bubble of innocence? You know, when do we tell them that Santa or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy are not real? Now I know a few of you may be scratching your heads, squirming in your chairs, saying "what do you mean the Easter Bunny is not real?", but I am here to tell you if you don't already know, that these things are all just a part of the magic of childhood. And someday, probably through no fault of our own, but rather from some whiny, snot nosed, little spoil sport at school, your kids too will find out that you've been conning them since birth.So is it best to tell them before that a-hole little Timmy does?

My question remains, when are we "too old" to believe in things like this? At what age is our youthful innocence mistaken for being a "baby"? I ask this only because recently my middle son, lost another tooth. He is 8. I dutifully shoved the money under his pillow after he was sleeping. When I went back to my room I thought "how much longer will this go on?" He seems so excited and elated to think that the tooth fairy would be flying in later that night. I wish that that innocence never had to fade. I wish that I could hold him in that moment forever. I wish that I could count on him not to rat me out to his younger brother when he finds out the truth. So, how about you? Do you believe?

(This post was inspired by Sam's Club. Why the heck do you have Christmas Decor out already?????)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

11 years? Already??

So yesterday the hubster and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary.....and if you crunch those numbers, you'll realize, that I have spent just a bit over a third of my life with this man. Amazing when you think about it like that.

No I’m not living in a fairly tale. My life is not all roses and champagne. Ross does plenty of things that really get under my skin. But some time ago I realized I married him for some pretty good reasons and I need to learn to pick my battles. Is it really that big of a deal if he leaves the butter sitting out on the counter after dinner? Or that sometimes his laundry doesn't quite make it to the hamper? Is it worth a screaming match? No.

I don’t know about you, but for me I like to be in control of things. Unfortunately, Ross doesn’t like to give up all of that control. Sometimes that leads to an argument. If he would just realize I am always right, things would work out so much better. But since that’s probably not going to happen any time in my lifetime, I’ve decided to take a new approach. We compromise. And instead of constantly nagging about all the things that drive me crazy, I’ve decided to be more conscious of the things I love. Every now and then I like to just do a little reality check and write down all of the reasons I’m in love. So, in no particular order, below are some of the reasons I love my husband:

*He always calls in the delivery orders when we're having pizza or Chinese food For some reason I don’t like to call and order take-out. I don’t know why. I never claimed to be a perfectly normal person. So Ross always does it when he’s home. And if he’s going to go out and he knows I want take out, he orders it before he goes so it’s on its way before he leaves.

*He helps with the grocery shopping. I almost never have to go to the grocery store alone. (Because we all know from my recent other post how much I LOVE grocery shopping alone wit the kids.....not!!)

*He always buys me candy at the store even when I don’t ask for it.

*Even when he’s comfortable, he will get up to get me a bottle of water or glass of juice when my glass is empty.

*When I came home from a month long trip to Canada, he met me at the airport with a dozen roses and took us out for a nice dinner.

*He sends me e-cards to remind me how much he loves me.

*He lets me sleep in every weekend and he gets up with the kids.

*He likes to cuddle in bed. In fact he tells me it’s hard for him to sleep when I’m not there. He likes to touch my leg with his foot or my back with hand. Just a little reminder that I’m still there. Or is it a reminder to me that he’s still there? Either way, it’s very nice.

*He massages my feet or my legs when they cramp up.

There is so much more, but I don't want to bore you all. Ross is not perfect, but he’s all mine. And I consider myself to be pretty lucky to have him. Sometimes with our busy lives, we forget to stop and smell the roses. I know that’s an old cliche, but have you ever actually stopped to smell the roses? And do you remember how beautiful the sun is as it sets? You’re envisioning it now aren’t you? We tend to forget about the beautiful things until somebody actually points them out to us. Well you live 24/7 (for the most part) with your spouse. Nobody knows him (or her, for you gentlemen readers) better then you. So it’s up to you to remind yourself of the good things. Remember why you got married and why you stay married. Remember why you get a big smile on your face and why your heart skips a beat when you see him at the airport after a few days away. Don’t forget to appreciate the little things. And don’t forget to recognize the reasons you love your spouse.