Monday, September 29, 2008

5 Things I've Learned from Blogging

In (delayed) honor of National Punctuation Day, I am going to blatantly overuse and misuse punctuation in this post (like I don't do it in every post, hello) - be forewarned. But first: this is what Bubba should be for Halloween........

However, a quick search of froogle provided me with the sobering fact that the adidas suit is about $134, and the kangol hat is about $20. So there you go - no baby DJ costume for Bubba because, as cute and as old school as it might be, I refuse to spend that much money on a Halloween costume. Even if it does rock out loud. Anyway:

Aimee tagged me for this meme - 5 things I've learned from blogging:

1.) Writing is therapy. I can't tell you how many times I have drafted something, then read it over and been astonished by what was either blatantly there or tucked between the lines. Sometimes I can work my way through an issue just by posting about it, and then I don't bother posting about it at all. There's nothing like perspective.

2.) People can be nice. It's astonishing that people who are geographically so far away can become so close. And can be so nice! It's wonderful when someone across the country whom I've never met offers me an e-hug just because I was having a bad day. It makes you feel better when you feel completely wiped as a mother and nice person in general and someone that you've never met in person can commiserate and talk you down from the ledge where you are about to dive off and into a full bottle of red wine and a family-size bag of nacho cheese doritos.

3.) You people can write. I'm amazed by all the casual bloggers who just write so amazingly well - just normal, average, every day people, tearing it up with the written word. You're like some sort of writing superhero - "during the day, she is your average suburban housewife, but in the evenings (after the kids are in bed, of course) she becomes.......SuperBlogger!". I can't count the number of times I have perused my normal blog haunts and come away with tears in my eyes, either from laughing so hard or because I was emotionally moved.

4.) People can be nasty. And judgemental and thoughtless and downright mean. The two things people can be the meanest about? Religion and parenting, the two items that should inspire kindness. But nooooooo, people can get nasty if your beliefs differ even slightly from theirs. But oh well - sticks and stones, right?

5.) If you don't have anything nice to say.....well, you know. Many times I have entertained the notion of blogging about some nasty bit of business and then checked myself and taken the high road. Doing this always makes me think: if I wouldn't blog about it, what business do I have saying it at all? Helps me rein in my tendency to gossip. Well, somewhat. Not entirely, but I'm working on it.

I had better get my butt to work. Because this is my to-do list for today:

  • Work
  • Pick up Bella from after school care
  • Pick up Bubba from in-law's
  • Go home, rustle up some dinner
  • Baths and bedtime
  • A full hour of 'The Office' reruns on TBS - woo-hoo!

And my husband, who has been on a boat fishing since the wee small hours of the morning today, had better not get in my way with his smelly clothes and his scaly fish and all the other fun things he comes home with. And that is a threat and a promise, my friends. Because if he gets up in my grill around 9:00PM this whining about laundry and fish cleaning......he's gonna have problems. Not as bad as the problem he will have if he shoves his dirty, smelly, fish-blood covered clothes in with the other dirty clothes for me to find in two days (when I start wandering around the house asking, "What stinks in here?") instead of washing them as soon as he takes them off. Oops, wait, number 5, I need to remember #5. But he still better leave me alone while 'The Office' is on.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Please consider this to be my official notice of voluntary resignation

I quit -- or, at least, I quit trying to do everything. I am not SuperMom. For a week or so now I have been mulling this thought over, and I think I'm ok with it. I have good days, and I have bad days, but I'm not perfect and that is just how it is. I have come to accept it, and am slowly starting to revel in it. So I'll say it loud and I'll say it proud: I cannot do everything. I cannot do and be everything for everyone, and that is OK.

Perfect example: I forgot that Friday was 'Spirit Day' at Bella's school, and that she could wear regular clothes. And so that morning, when I dropped her off at school and every kid in the drop off line had on street clothes, she was crestfallen. I got the big "Mooooooom!". I apologized, but I didn't get my normal good-bye and 'love you', so I know she was upset. I will admit to fretting over it during the course of the day, but by the time I picked her up from school she was over it, only mentioning once that she could have worn regular clothes and then dropping the subject completely. On a side note, I went home that morning and placed a guilt-inspired, larger-than-usual scholastic book order that I rationalized with the idea that I could give her the books for Christmas. But then I realized that making the books Christmas gifts did nothing to alleviate the problem at hand, thus proving that reason and rationalization have no place in my derailing train of thought.

I would have made a terrible SuperMom, anyway. My cape would have always been wrinkled, and probably tucked into the waistband of my pants or skirt. I don't exactly have the body to make anything made of spandex look decent, and I would need at the very least a good, supportive shelf bra (if not something with a formed cup) in my leotard to keep the girls in check.

The thought first occurred to me last Friday, on the occasion of Bella's school hosting a "Hispanic Heritage Family Fun Night". I had checked off that we would bring a dessert on our RSVP form, and around the middle of the week started dreading the event entirely. I didn't want to go, I didn't want to make anything to bring, I didn't want to keep Bubba out past his bedtime....I had a million reasons not to go, and one smiling sunshine of a reason to go - Bella was so excited about it she could hardly contain herself. I finally resigned myself to going, and to most likely staying up into the wee, small hours of the morning baking multiple flavors of homemade cookies, but my internal whining was interrupted by a rebellious little thought - why? Why kill yourself baking homemade cookies when you can just buy them? SuperMom was horrified at the idea, but EveryMom was all for it. So I did something that I have never done before in my school bring-a-dish experiences: I purchased store-made cookies. And not only did I buy store-made cookies, I left them in their store bakery boxes. And I left those bakery boxes in the plastic store bag. And I smiled the smile of a well-rested woman when I handed them over to to the real SuperMom - the PTA SuperMom.

You know the kind I'm talking about - she's the mom that attends every PTA event. She is on every committee - if anything goes on at the school, she is not only there, but she planned it and is actively executing it. Her kids are always well-behaved and immaculately dressed and coiffed, and her husband is always around and helping out. She always sets the example - she buys $200 worth of overpriced gift wrap and then tells you about. She bought $250 worth of Scrip cards and then drops that fact at a PTA meeting. She's a good woman with the best of intentions, and she obviously has her stuff together better than me. So I hand her my bag of store cookies and she says, "Oh, Wal-Mart cookies.". She then pointed out the two dishes that she had made and brought, and proudly told me, complete with perfectly rolled R's, the name of these Mexican-themed dishes. I just smiled and said, "That looks yummy." And then I went and found my seat and we had a nice time, and guess what? The world didn't end because I didn't bring homemade food. It felt good. And another little side note: I ran into PTA SuperMom on my out to the car. She was standing by her minivan, wearing a sombrero, smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer (staying true to the theme of the evening, it was a Dos Equis) that she had pulled out of a cooler in her van. Ole! I guess even PTA SuperMom needs a little help getting by sometimes.

I have since engaged in some decidedly non-SuperMom activities. For example: Thursday night I put both kids to bed early so I could watch the season premier of 'The Office'. I finished off a bag of Bella's gummy bears while reading (I have finished two books this week!) and ignoring the dishes in the sink and the towels in the dryer. I drank the last Capri Sun, ate the last snack-sized bag of Cheetos, and took the last watermelon flavored lollipop. I won't share my pink Flavor-Ice popsicles anymore, either, so don't ask. And to top it all off, last night I put Bella to bed at her school night bedtime so I could have a friend come over, and we had a good time. We shared a six pack of beer on the patio and giggled until even my loud twenty-something neighbors were giving us dirty looks. Forced inside, we laughed at silly TV commercials until I almost spilled my beer and said aloud, "Oh, man, I can't spill on the carpet, my husband freaks out about the carpet", and then we giggled again and engaged in a friendly game of "Oh, you think that's bad, well my husband......". Hey, you can love someone and still make fun of the way they fold towels. We decided that we should get together every Friday night, and call it "The Friday Night Whine Club". We probably won't, but it's a nice thought and it was a nice evening.

Of course, even though I am just your normal, average, everyday mom, I do have the occasional super moments. This morning, for example: I woke up at 6:30 and in the hours before I had to be to work at 10:00am, I saw two loads of laundry through to completion (folded, hung, and put away! that never happens), cleaned both bathrooms, emptied the dishwasher and reloaded it, steamed, pureed, and froze some sweet potatoes for Bubba, got both kids and myself bathed, dressed and out the door, took the kids to my sisters, actually remembered all the things I was supposed to bring there, and got to work on time. Hooray! I'm SuperMom!

But then there was another morning this week that was absolutely dismal - Bubba woke up at 4:30 and decided he would wake up every 15 minutes or so after that until finally deciding to be up for the day around 6:15, I got sidetracked for time and ended up having to wake Bella up late and then rush her around to get ready, then I realized I didn't have cash for hot lunch money and had to hurriedly pack Bella a lunch (on mini-corndog day! oh, the horror!), we were almost late for school, Bubba pooped all over himself and his car seat, I wasn't aware of that fact immediately and he sat in it for a bit while I got stuff out of the car (I have a cold and my smeller doesn't work so well), Bubba licked an electrical outlet for some unknown length of time until I rounded the corner and caught him doing it, he almost fell in the bathtub, he hit his head on a chair, and screamed his head off because I wasn't holding him every second. When my husband got home from work I quickly tossed aside the reins of parental responsibility and went and hid in the shower in a blatant display of non-Super behavior.

There is always that humbling moment, you know, just when you think you have it all together, something happens that messes with your chi, blocks your flow, gets you all off course. But that's OK, because not every moment has to be perfect. And that's what I'm learning, slowly but surely. I also need to remember not to let those humbling moments detract from all the other good moments in my life. I'm a work in progress, darn it. I need a sign: "Please excuse my progress: undergoing renovations".

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sleeve Snot

Both kids are sick, Bubba more so than Bella. Bella is just kind of a coasting, functioning sick - not sick enough to stay home from school, not sick enough to keep her from her normal mayhem, just sick enough to wipe her nose all over the sleeve of her shirts. This sleeve snot, when mixed with dirt, forms an impenetrable stain. They should cover airplanes with this sleeve snot, because it could probably keep passengers safe in the event of a crash. Straight bleach does not work, and you can Shout all you want to, it ain't coming out. Oxy Clean (made into a paste that will destroy your fingerprints) combined with some serious elbow grease will get it out but takes a while.

I would love to talk to the genius who decided that the school uniform shirts should be white. I guess maybe that is so they won't be hot outside in the warmer months, but come on. In Pre-K, we had one PE shirt (because these white t-shirts with the school logo cost $22), so I spent a lot of time on stain removal. Last year, through the magic of hand-me-downs from a friend, we had three PE shirts. Three! It was blissful. No panicky, middle of the night loads of laundry because I forgot to wash the shirt since the last PE day. No staying up until 3AM and running the shirt through three wash cycles because stains wouldn't come out. Backup is a beautiful thing. This year we are back to one, that I got from the uniform exchange. It was in great shape when I got it, too. I showed it to her, explained that this was the only PE shirt she had, and we needed to try and take care of it. And with that simple statement, friends and neighbors, I doomed that poor shirt (and myself).

There must be something about the shirt that gives Bella an inner ear problem, because once she has it on, she becomes the clumsiest child on the face of the planet. She has fallen almost every PE day, she has spilled an entire container of chocolate milk on it twice - TWICE! - and, with her seemingly constant runny nose lately, it has been covered in muddy sleeve snot. It's almost become a game - "And now, ladies and gentlemen, it's time to play, "GUESS WHAT THAT STAIN IS!". And don't forget the bonus round, "WILL THAT STAIN COME OUT??!!". PE days are Mondays and Fridays. Mondays don't seem to be as hard on the shirt. There will be dirt, of course, and marker, and the other things first graders pick up over the course of a day. But Fridays? There is apparently something about Fridays that makes these children go insane, because on Fridays, without fail, she is filthy. She goes to after school care for a while on Fridays, and there has not been a Friday yet where I haven't gasped at the sight of how dirty her shirt is. I thought it was just her, but one Friday some of her classmates ran over to check out Bubba and I saw that they, too, were covered in stains. I don't know what the answer is - do they make Scotch guard for children? They should.

Yesterday, when I picked Bella up from school, her shirt was almost immaculate (except, of course, for the ever-present sleeve snot). I was astonished, and complimented her on how very spotless the shirt was. We got in the car, I handed her the Bug juice I had brought for her, and.....well, you can imagine how it ended, I'm certain. Red bug juice, I might add. It couldn't be a nice, thoughtfully clear juice drink, nooooo, I had to get the red bug juice. Sigh. Oh well. So, just in case you were wondering, I will be spending my Saturday night elbow deep in a ski-irritating Oxy Clean paste, scrubbing at her PE shirt with an old toothbrush and maybe watching a movie - a Harry Potter movie, yeah. I'm astonished that I don't have my own reality show, honestly - viewers would be riveted by the excitement in my daily life. "Oh, look she's.....Oh, my gosh, I don't believe it, I think she....yes, yes....oh, my gosh, she got the stain out!". America would leap to its' feet and cheer. No autographs, please.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Heyhey---a meme!

Aimee tagged me for this meme, which I will gladly do because I love talking about my kids.

1. Post a picture of you with your kids. Oops, can't do it. Technology and its' quirks prevent me from doing so. Be assured they are quite adorable to behold, while I look tired and haggard with dark circles and bad hair.

2. How many children do you have? 2, a girl and a boy.

3. What are their ages? Bella, age 6, and Bubba, seven months

4. What do you eat for breakfast? Bella eats cereal, Bubba fruit and a homemade brown rice cereal that he hates but will begrudgingly hold in his mouth, then spit out and fingerpaint with it. I eat bran cereal because.....well, why does anyone eay bran cereal? Not because it's yummy, that's for sure.

5. Do they watch TV? Yes, alas. I am about to institute a 'TV Ticket" program that will give Bella so many tickets a week and she will have to budget them accordingly. She watches TV to the point of utter distraction. Example: the other night she was watching cartoons, and I walked by with the trash, stopped in front of her and said, "Bella, I'm going to take the trash out. OK?" She replied, "OK, mommy". I walked to trash to the dumpster and when I got back to the house she was frantically running around, sobbing and calling my name. I had to calm her down, and she said, "You just left and didn't tell me where you were going or that you were gone!". That is sad. I not only made sure (I thought!) that she heard me, I actually got a reply, and she was so into TV that she didn't remember either. Hence the TV tickets - I think they are a nice (if not somewhat hokey) way to get some balance.

6. What are their favorite activities? Bubba enjoys putting things in his mouth, crawling, and climbing into places he can't get out of. He also likes eating, smacking things, licking the sliding glass door, pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. (ha!) Bella seems to enjoy everything. Her favorites seem to be painting, playing outside with other kids, she enjoys reading, singing (especially in the shower), and plunking around on her little toy keyboard. She likes cooking and baking, too.

7. Do you get a break from them during the day? Yes - Bella is in first grade, so she's out of pocket until 3:00pM, and I work part-time during the week and full time hours on Saturday. I miss them terribly but appreciate the break. Actually, the break also makes me appreciate them more. Given the opportunity I would love to stay home with them,, you know how it is.

8. How do you end your day? Cleaning and housework, mostly. My husband works overnight sometimes, so I also try and make sure to savor the quiet once he is gone and Bella and Bubba are in bed. And now that the weather is getting cooler I'm really loving it. With hubby gone, and Bella and Bubba tucked away for the night, I love sitting on the patio with a cold drink and enjoying the breeze (it's been in the high 60's at night here lately! somebody get me a sweater!).

9. What is your best parenting tip or advice? Whatever it is, it can wait. Since I work during the day, I try and accomplish as much as possible when the kids asleep or away or whatever. I have been known to let dishes sit in the sink, to ignore the trash that needs to go out (unless it's particularly smelly), and allow dust bunnies to build up, all for the sake of spending time with my kids. The dishes will hold another hour or two until bedtime, but Bella will only want to spend time with me for so long, and Bubba will only be willing to snuggle for so long, so I need to do all that now. It ain't a new concept, I know, but I have to remind myself all the time.

I don't think I'll tag anyone right now, so if anyone wants to pick it up and run with it, feel free. Or apply it to a pet, or personal belonging you are particularly fond of. I have to go prepare for my first girl scout meeting, which is another post entirely.

I'd like to thank the academy.....

Aimee at The Mother Load gave me my first ever blogger award! Thanks, Aimee! This is a big day for me. First I'd like to thank God, and my kids, and blogger......oh, nevermind. It's a big deal to me and no one else. But hooray! She gave me this:

And now I have to give it away to five people - four regular readers and one person who is new or far away. So I proudly bestow this award to my dear sister Teresa, my dear sister Jen, the always charming T of T With Honey, and Mike (who possibly might not count since he doesn't really blog anymore, but who could blame him with everything he's got going on. So Mike: blogging or not, you are my buddy). And since it would be darned difficult to get much further away, I bestow the far away award to the lovely and talented Jen over at the Southern Jennisphere. And I would give this back to Aimee, if I could.

I didn't provide links because I'm too lazy, you can check my sidebar for links (all except to Mike's) and you should check them out because the aforementioned people, including Aimee, are some funny, thoughtful, uniquely wonderful people. Thanks, y'all!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fairy dust wands and suction cup arrows

Gustav gave us a couple of days of windy squalls - very bi-polar weather. Wind and rain, then some brief sunshine, then pouring rain, and so on and so forth. We escaped unscathed, for the most part. Thankfully, the worst of it was being stuck inside on a holiday weekend. We were very lucky.

I was at my sister-in-law's house last night, visiting on my own (I know! Without the kids!) and was talking to my sister-in-law about my kids and their magical ways. I was speaking fondly of Bubba and his personality and how very different he is from his sister. Bubba is easy to describe, and it isn't just because he is a baby - he has a big personality for a little guy and he puts it all out there - he doesn't hold back. At the ripe age of seven months, Bubba is big, boisterous, bouncing baby boy. He is fearless and curious and into everything he can reach and a few things he can't. He's sly and sneaky and, for such a loud kid, can be awfully stealthy when he wants to be.

Bella's personality is not that easy to describe. She was an enigma as a baby, as well. You never knew how she was going to react to a situation (except you knew eventually she would act shy and scared). She was an explorer, too, but a safe and predictable one. She was always tentative in her exploring, usually telling on herself by looking for reassurance as she tried to get into the dog food or something else. She was a very easygoing baby (except for being shy) and has grown into a rather easygoing kid.

All that to say this: I was trying to describe my Bella and kept contradicting myself. I would say, "Well, she is a princess" but then I would remember her propensity for wrestling, burping and transformer toys and then I would say, "Or a tomboy" but then I would remember the huge container of dress up outfits in her closet and her growing affection for purses and shoes. Then I started to say, "She's a quiet kid" but remembered how very shriek-y, shrill and insistent she can be. But "She is so loud!" wouldn't cut it either, because she still has that tendency to be shy and hide her face. She still acts like a kid (as she should, at 6, at least IMHO) in that she shuns live action shows in favor of cartoons - there's no Drake & Josh, Camp Rock or Hannah Montana (except that one 3-D concert) around my house - just SpongeBob, Chowder (one of my favorite cartoons ever, I must say) and other animated friends. But she is growing up because she thinks she needs a cell phone and wants to shave her legs (um, no to both, thank you).

So I went home, still mulling over Bella and how I could possibly describe her, and decided that I just can't. Not in just a couple of words or phrases. And then she drove that point home. Almost at that very moment she emerged from her room wearing blue camouflage football pajamas (I got them on sale - pajamas are pajamas, right?) with a pink tutu. She was wearing a tiara and clip-on Dora earrings. Around her neck she was wearing a lovely dice-themed mardi gras bead necklace and a toy police badge. In one hand she was wielding a marabou-feathered princess wand. She had a suction cup bow and arrow set slung over her shoulder, and sticking out of the back of her shirt was the butt of a toy shotgun. She was carrying a pink purse with purple marabou trim that was full of little plastic army men and the missiles from her transformer.

And what type of footwear does one wear with such an ensemble, you might ask? Well, I don't know what you would wear, but Bella, my lovely little fashion plate warrior, opted for a very fashionable brown mule with a small heel - very tasteful and understated. Since the rest of the outfit was so....colorful.

I laughed and asked her what she was doing, and she answered that she was just playing. I complimented her outfit and she thanked me, very seriously, and followed that up with, "I choose to wear this, mom. Is that OK?" I assured her that her choice was OK. But I wanted to take a picture of her and capture the moment (if the camera hadn't been in my husband's car) just so I can always remember how very magical she is.

She is big on the word 'choose' right now. The other day she had her black t-shirt tucked into her jeans and her jeans pulled up to just under her chest, grandpa-style. I giggled and suggested that she untuck the shirt, and she said she didn't want to. "I choose to wear this shirt tucked in" she replied, before heading to her room to find her pink monkey ankle socks with pom-poms and her black knee-high boots.

I love her for the way she is so uniquely, unashamedly herself, and I hope she stays that way forever. I know I could learn a thing or two from her. So here's to Bella - may you always choose to wear what you want to because it's comfortable or you like the way it looks, no matter what other people's thoughts, opinions and comments may be. I hope she always feels free to wear football pajamas with a tiara (although she could lose the toy shotgun and I'd be OK with it), or carry a purse full of boy toys. She is full of love and finds joy in everything she does, and I love her so much my heart aches. To my Bella: rock on, baby girl, mommy loves you.