Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cussin' on the Way to Church

Originally titled Mass Chaos.

For some reason, Sunday mornings are always difficult. Maybe it’s because by their very nature Sundays are supposed to be lazy and relaxing. It is our Day of Rest in our family (we don’t spend money on Sundays and try not to work).

So making sure 6 people are ready for church (clean, wearing underwear, teeth brushed, wearing “acceptable” clothing, hair brushed, diaper bag packed, activity bag packed) can be stressful. Especially when I have a husband who insists on making a big breakfast AFTER he’s slept in.

Let’s just say I am ashamed to admit I do my best cussing on the way to church.

So one Sunday in November we are all settled in our pew (like Pepe Le Pew!). It’s time for the children’s part where they congregate in front of the priest for a second while he talks to them and then they go downstairs for a kid version of Mass for about 20 minutes. I’m seeing Joel will have problems on this particular day because there’s a 6-year-old girl who is jumping up and down like a kangaroo and putting her hands all over Joel’s head and face. I whisper to Aron, “That girl is screwing around again. Who’s going downstairs to help supervise?” He said he would do it since the baby was about to fall asleep on me.

So the baby crashes and Michael and Callie promptly get into a LOUD fight. Callie almost wrote on his notebook, which I told her she could do. Michael YELLS her name. She YELLS back. They tussle a bit on the kneeler. By now the baby has woken up and is fussing. I’m turning red and trying to figure out how to get them the hell outta there.

What would you do?

Public spanking = not only a bad option if you want to keep your kids in your own home until they turn 18, but also ineffective.

Gritted teeth/Crazy Face = not working as well as hoped.

So I put Eva on my left hip and grabbed Callie somehow around her middle with my right Popeye arm and swiftly walked to the back of the church and out into the hallway. I put Callie down, looked through the glass of the door, caught Michael’s eye and gave him my very best, “Get your butt out here NOW, little man” glare.

For those of you who must simulate this move, my only advice is NEVER make eye contact with ANYONE while you are disciplining your child.

So I turn around and who is standing there? A chick Aron and his twin used to date. Thankfully she is super cool and very understanding about my situation. Anyone with highlights of about 10 different colors is okay in my book.

Man, the blog for the month of November sure has made my kids sound bad. They really are great most of the time. I tell these stories mostly to amuse. The more these things happen to me, the easier it is to look into the future and see myself laughing about each situation (well, most of them, anyway … the ones where I kept my cool and still managed to put the fear of God into the kids).

edited to add: Today at Mass we got many comments about how great our kids behaved, how wonderful they are. Just goes to show things aren't always as they seem. We SEEMED to be all with-it today, yet about 25% of the time I'm carrying a tantruming kid out of church.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friends Who Are Like Sisters

So you all thought I was an only child, right? Well, biologically that is correct. But I do have someone who I always considered to be a sister and still do, even though we don’t see each other as often.

Our moms went to high school together and were best friends. Ambre and I were born a day apart (me in Germany and Ambre in the US).

We grew up side-by-side, as rivals, best friends, sisters. I used to hate our physical and verbal fights, but now I understand that’s kind of what sisters do sometimes. We used to beat the crap out of each other, pulling hair, screaming and crying. I can’t imagine I won many of those fights, being as how I’m a big baby when it comes to those things.

Sometimes Ambre’s mom Penny would babysit me, or I’d stay the night. They were the first people I knew to get Atari, and we’d play Pong forever. And watch the roller coaster scene from National Lampoon’s Vacation over and over. And her parents had a trailer at Jellystone Park, which we’d visit a few times each summer. Those were some of the best times of my life.

She got me in some trouble, too. One day we were going door-to-door in her neighborhood, trying to sell pamphlets that we got in Branson. Business wasn’t good that day, so Ambre got a new idea. She thought we should walk down to the Plaza by ourselves (we were like 9) and hang out. We paid a cab to take us a few blocks, got chocolate at Russell Stover’s, and took off our top layer of clothes to reveal our shorts and T-shirts. When our parents found us walking home in a dry Brush Creek in shorts in JANUARY, they freaked out. I’ve probably blocked out the spanking I got, but it was totally worth it.

As we got older we grew apart, went to different schools, got different friends. Sometimes we’d end up in the same school, like 6th grade at Westwood View. My elementary school had closed so I went to this borderline snooty school for one year. Thank God I had Ambre there to help me through.

Her mom was a caterer for rock concerts, which was SO cool. We got to sit on top of huge amplifiers just offstage from The Beach Boys. My dad and I got to see The Monkees and ZZ Top. And the Pointer Sisters signed my junior high yearbook.

We also went to high school together for a year and a half, then she dropped out halfway through junior year. I know I drove her nuts with how codependent/boy-crazy I was. I wish I had listened to her and stayed away from that long-haired mind-gamey guy.

It’s strange how things work out. We lost touch for many years when I was married to the abusive jerk and she was living in Hawaii and Mexico. Then after Callie was born and Aron was gone a lot, she was a lifesaver, bringing me leftover bread and other yummy stuff from where she worked.

Now Ambre works right across the street from my house, at the elementary school. Her daughter isn’t much older than Joel. They give us awesome hand-me-down girlie stuff for Callie.

Funny how none of the men in my life ever liked Ambre, probably because she could see right through them and always wanted the best for me. It’s very telling that Aron thinks she’s cool.

I don’t see her as much as I’d like. I want her to know that I love her dearly and miss my sister. And that she’s welcome to drop by anytime.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Confession

I’ll admit sometimes I’m a great big cliché, but today will not be one of those days. I’m NOT going to write some hokey post about what I’m thankful for. No offense to those who ARE writing those kinds of posts today; it’s just that (if you read this blog on a regular basis) you can TELL I’m thankful EVERY SINGLE DAY, for reasons I may or may not divulge later. Have to keep you coming back for more, don’t I?

Anyway, today, Class, you be learning about the Catholic Church’s Sacrament of Reconciliation, which my son Joel received on November 20. My friend Smoosh said she couldn’t wait to read all about this, and I told her there would be nothing to post unless someone acted up in church, which they didn’t.

Brief religious history of me: parents grew up Protestant and sort of rebelled, which left me, as I liked to say, “a religious nothing.” I went to a Bible church with one set of grandparents sometimes; a Presbyterian church with the other set. When I was a teenager I “got saved” at a Youth for Christ rally. For a couple of years that’s who I was. I didn’t cuss, I tried to be a good kid, I was all about the JC and was taught in a subtle way that Catholics were people who drank and sinned all Friday night and then did Confession on Saturdays to have it all erased.

Then I started to date at age 16 ½ and dumped JC. I was basically a Bratz doll for about 7 years. Met Aron, who was a lapsed Catholic. Eventually we started going to Mass together and I converted AFTER we got married. I’m now a self-professed happily Crunchy (cloth diapers, breastfeeding, homeschooling) Catholic.

So my little Joel is in 2nd grade now, which is the year kids receive their First Communion in the spring. But first they have to do Confession (Reconciliation). Yeah, I know it’s confusing to have 10 different names for things in the Church. But who cares? What’s important, I think, is to follow the 10 Commandments.

Digression for my non-religious/spiritual readers: I know that YOU know the 10 Commandments are just a bunch of common sense anyway. Except I know you’ll argue with me that the 3rd Commandment is a bunch of hooey, but that’s for another post.

Still, it got me thinking about how misunderstood the Church is. It was cool to watch my son do Confession. And NO, he didn’t go in a room alone with a priest. He sat in a chair for the whole world to see (but not to hear), facing a priest. It was quick and painless, and I couldn’t believe the happiness in the faces of the kids after they confessed.

I prefer to talk to God one-on-one and do that all day long. I don’t go to Confession very often, but when I do it’s like a mini-therapy session. I basically tell the priest that I cuss too damn much, that I yell at my kids sometimes and that I’m not patient enough with my saint of a husband and others.

Ya’ll feel free to list my OTHER sins in the Comments section down below.

Anyway, why do other religions like to put down something that makes people so happy after they do it (I’m talking about Confession here, not sex … let’s not wander too far away from my poorly-constructed argument)? How many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, agnostics and atheists are in THERAPY???? So what’s the difference between talking to a priest and talking to a therapist, except that the priest is FREE?

Any questions? If not, go out and have a GREAT weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Walking Home From Church

Earlier this month, we went to church as usual. And by “as usual” I mean I was rushing around to get everyone ready and we were running late and I was cussing. Just wait: there’s a post coming up Sunday about super-fun church-going.

So after church we’re walking to the parking lot and a friend follows me out to give me her new contact information. She saw me touching my belly because I was full from the Knights of Columbus breakfast and goes, “So. Kerrie. You’re expecting again, right?”

Me: “NO!” Believe me, I was not offended as I’ve never had a flat stomach a day in my life. Then I said, “I couldn’t be pregnant right now even if I wanted to be.”

Her: “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

Me: “No, I just mean I haven’t gotten my period back yet and there’d only be a very small chance of my getting pregnant right now, based on a lot of factors I won’t bore you with.”

Her: “Oh. Look! I see Aron’s giving the kids driving lessons. Are you walking home?”

Me: “Are you nuts? We live like a mile away and it’s November and all I have is my Yale hooded jacket. No way.”

Then what did I do? Like a good, see-all-sides Gemini, I thunk on it. And I started to walk home (telling my husband first, of course). Then I had 3 little followers (Eva rode home with her Da).

It was awesome. We talked, we crushed leaves, we found some milk-pod things, we threw tiny apples in the street to watch cars run them over, we found good sticks, we tormented dogs behind giant wooden fences, we cursed the house whose fence had fallen onto the sidewalk because nails were sticking out everywhere. We had some nice time together and got some exercise and fresh air.

Then we did it again the next weekend.

It’s nice for a Type-A personality like me to be able to slow down a little bit. Forget a bubble bath or a weekend away from my kids. All I need to be a calmer person and a “better” mom, it turns out, is a little walk with my buddies.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Church Babysitting

So I needed to make some money since the Scrapbooking Guidos had been at my door to rough me up a couple of times (just kidding!).

Actually, I felt bad because we’d never had credit card debt and I wanted to be responsible and pay the thing off since it was MY fault I’d spent too much on Creative Memories stuff.

So I’m at a La Leche League meeting one morning at a church and notice a sign on a wall on my way out. It’s asking for babysitters and you can BRING YOUR KIDS!!! Bingo! Perfect! Jackpot!

The first church job led to other church jobs. Soon I was working almost every day (either morning or evening), pregnant, with a husband out of town most of the time, and dragging my 2 sons everywhere with me. We lived on McDonald’s, frozen pancakes, sausage patties and chocolate milk, totally defeating the purpose of MAKING money to pay off the credit card. I think we ate about ½ of every paycheck.

The babysitting experience led to me writing a little piece for Mother and Child Reunion.com, which included how to do daycare in your home, which I also did some of at that time.

I don’t want to give away too much on this post because I’m mildly contemplating putting this in a book somehow because the people I encountered were unbelievable. There were the women at the Baptist church who ignored me and all the children and stood together talking about liposuction. The people who thought it was disgusting to drink water from the bathroom sink (same pipes, people). The women who shooed curious little kids away from watching me change a diaper.

And don’t get me started on the parents. I’m of the school of thought that says you need a license to become a parent.

Even when we didn’t need the money anymore, we kept babysitting because the boys loved it so much. But when I was pregnant with Eva, it died off. Who wants a babysitter with 4 kids of her own that have to be in the same room with their mom? Plus I knew homeschooling would be taking up a lot of time, and I was sick of always rushing out the door to another job.

Aron’s cousin has it just right: she has 2 kids and can make about $200 working just 2 days a week (2 ½ hours each day).

If you’re interested in doing this yourself, check out my piece at MotherAndChildReunion.com. (dang, Kerrie, quit pimping your measly writing portfolio!)

Anyone else have any bad business experiences? Any at-home selling?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Product Idea: Attachment Parenting Stickers

Okay, so back when I only had one kid I came up with an idea for a line of Attachment Parenting stickers for scrapbookers. I was sick of all the damn baby bottle stickers and pacifiers and cribs.

I thought there should be some cool cloth diaper stickers, some slings, some depiction of the family bed, a tasteful rendition of the nursing mother/baby couple, a Boppy pillow.

I researched and had a lot of fun dreaming of who would stock these stickers, who would buy them, who would use them in their scrapbooks.

Then I got pregnant with Michael and got tired. And decided to sell Creative Memories scrapbooking products instead. I became a Creative Memories CONSULTANT. Sounds hootie-ta (definition: uppity, impressive), doesn’t it?

Then I realized I couldn’t sell worth a crap. And that I was using up all the non-existent profits, which sent me into a tiny bit of credit card debt.

To digress: Can you imagine me being a chocolate salesperson? I’d have to sell the house and live in a trailer to pay off what I ate instead of sold.

Anyway, the credit card debt led me to the whole church babysitting thing. Which is another story.

And because you insist, I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

Friday, November 21, 2008

PMS Puppy Chow

Eva is almost a year old, which means I’m due for my period anytime now. It’s been like 20 months and I have NOT missed Aunt Flo at all. And don't even comment "too much information" cuz I KNOW that!

So here’s a recipe for something I can’t get enough of lately:

Puppy Chow (although the way I eat it, let’s call it Piggy Chow)

9 cups any Chex cereal (off-brand is just dandy)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1 t. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

There are many different ways of doing this, so I’m going to give you a couple of ideas:

1. Melt chips, peanut butter and butter in large pan. Take off burner and add vanilla. Add cereal and mix it all up, trying not to crush the cereal. Then add powdered sugar.

2. Put cereal in big bowl. Melt other ingredients in small saucepan, adding vanilla at the end. Pour mixture over cereal and stir. Then pour the whole she-bang into a big old Tupperware container, add powdered sugar and shake.

3. Do the same as above, but put cereal/mixture into large paper bag, THEN add powdered sugar and shake.

4. Do the same as above, but put cereal/mixture into large plastic 2-gallon resealable bag, add powdered sugar and shake.

The Chex people say to do #4, but I’m telling you I’ve done this before and the chocolate mixture MELTED THE BAG.

Maybe I’m just not cut out for this Domestic Goddess job.

I’m sure Step-Witch and Smoosh will have a comment for me on this one since they are the pushers who turned me on to this concoction in the first place.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Food Processors

So I went looking for a food processor at Target for Aron’s birthday. And yes, that IS what he asked for. He’s wanted one forever, and I’ve been too paranoid about the ultra-sharp blades in the company of children to ever buy him one. He LOVES to cook, makes spaghetti sauce, etc., so he really wanted a food processor.

The first thing I notice is Target doesn’t carry Cuisinart food processors. They only carry Kitchen-Aid (a reputable brand of mixer, to be sure), Oster (a good blender, right?) and Black and Decker (good tools).

I wasn’t sure what to do. I tried to call Tresa but got no reception on my end. So I had to use my bean. I could smell the smoke coming out of my ears from overuse.

Hmmm. The Oster and the B&D have a 10-cup capacity. The Kitchen-Aid only has 7. BUT the Kitchen-Aid is twice the cost, and don’t you get what you pay for? The Oster was on sale like ½ price, and I wondered why. The Oster and B&D floor models were trashed out and looked cheap.

So I went for the Kitchen-Aid.

What would you have done or what brand do you own and love?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When Are Kids Old Enough to Have a Pet?

We don’t have a pet. Sweetie the hamster died about a year ago, and the Grow-a-Frog died (after a very short life) this summer. Getting a dog freaks me out and here’s why.

I would have to pick up poop. I would have to feed and water the dog. I would have to remember to get it shots and tags. I would have to rearrange our lives and race it to the vet if it got sick. And if it got REALLY sick, there goes our modest savings account.

“But your kids are old enough to help,” you say. Sure, but WILL THEY? Without constant hounding, I mean. It would clearly be up to ME to keep the thing alive. I have FOUR people to keep alive on a daily basis plus myself. That’s plenty for now.

And if you’re wondering why I’m such a curmudgeon, let me give you my pet history. I had the requisite dogs and cats growing up, and they were lovely. I got to see cats make babies and the babies being born. When I was older, I had about 3 cats of my own, then a few babies came out of that. I had about 5 cats sleeping around my head on any given night. And I loved it.

I picked up a stray cat one night at a gas station, and Aron let me keep it at his apartment. She was a schizoid cat. Later, in searching for Aron’s lost male cat, we got another cat. They were fine until we started having kids. The schizoid girl crapped all over the place. They both scratched up the furniture. Joel ate their cat food and played in their cat box. It became a problem.

So I know what hard work pets are. Who do you think cleaned Sweetie the hamster’s cage, maggots in the summer and all? Kept her fed and watered? Played with her? Carried her in a tiny sling while I did dishes?

If my kids were pets, Joel would be a Chihuahua. Michael would be a turtle. Callie would be a Siamese cat. Eva would be a bunny rabbit.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Self-Actualized Mothers

So tonight I have a market research thing that I’ve qualified for. It’s right down the street, should only last an hour and pays $65 cash for taste-testing something SWEET. That oughta cover my Urgent Care co-pay and resulting drugs! (If you’re in Kansas City, call 913-341-4245 to get in Q&A’s database and they may call you in the future to do studies … guys and all ages are welcome).

I plan on wearing sweatpants since the weather has turned cold and I have no jeans that fit that don’t have holes in the knee. If anyone so much as sneezes in my direction at Market Research, here is what I will rant:

“Listen, People. When I scheduled this thing, my husband was going to be in town. So tonight my poor mother is watching FOUR children at my house, including a very attached-to-me nursing/teething 11-month-old. Today I homeschooled, stripped wallpaper, wrote some stuff, changed lots of diapers, prepared 2 meals each for 5 people (McDonald’s was dinner; sue me), did laundry and dishes, picked up the house and have all kinds of crap on my mind, including but not limited to trying to be a good mother, wife, friend, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, cousin, granddaughter, niece, cousin-in-law, neighbor, playdate-hostess, scrapbooker, exerciser, blogger and budding freelance writer. The fact that I got a shower* today is a modern miracle. So bring on the sweet stuff.”

I expect applause to break out at this point for my raging honesty and I-don’t-give-a-crap attitude which everyone wishes they could possess.

*You HAVE TO link to this post. And you MUST check out the comments because total strangers were discussing my hygiene!

Written 11/6/08; Happy Birthday, Ree!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Last Period Was a Zillion Years Ago

Back on the 2nd of November I was nursing a nasty ear infection (always with the breastfeeding humor!) and couldn’t fathom waiting until Monday to go to my doctor. So my dad came over to watch the 3 oldest kids so Aron, Eva and I could go to Urgent Care, which is located at a shi-shi (I’m trying to say uppity or snooty here) shopping mall. Why take a baby with us, you ask? Well, because I wouldn’t want to leave my poor dad with all 4 kids, especially since Eva is not even 1 yet. Plus she’s quite attached to me, still nurses, you know the deal. I just felt better having her there. She’s like Baby Medicine.

So Urgent Care charges my co-pay before I even see a doctor (so I can’t bolt?). Then the chick tells me I can WALK AROUND THE MALL if I want since it’s going to be a while. Yeah. I don’t want to walk around the mall when I feel GOOD. Why would I be at Urgent Care wanting to WALK AROUND THE MALL?

Once in the exam room, the nurse asks me my favorite question besides, “Do you want some chocolate?” She goes, “When was your last period?”

I put on my Thinking Face, looked at Aron, and said, “Hmmm, I think it was March. Of 2007. Yeah, about 20 months ago.” The nurse looked at me like I had just told her to F off. So I started explaining that I had been pregnant (the evidence was in my arms), then nursing and hadn’t gotten my period back yet. I think I’ve only had about a dozen periods in 8 years, and that’s only because we decided to put some space between the girls.

Forget coupons; pregnancy and nursing saves TONS of money in feminine products! I’m hoping that when I die someone will give me an exact figure of how much money I saved my family by attachment parenting, cloth diapering and being cheap.

The nurse was probably thinking the blood buildup from no periods had gone to my ear and my brain was being affected.

Then Aron attempted to make a surgical glove balloon for Eva to chew on, but it popped … loudly. He had also dressed Eva in only overalls (with no shirt like a hussy), so the nurse told us how adorable “he” (Eva) is. I’ve gotta put a barrette in that girl’s hair.

As we drove to CVS clutching my new prescriptions, we discussed how we won’t buy the pain medicine if it’s one of the $50 drug co-pays. But then we decided they probably only charge the $50 co-pays on things like cancer patient medicine, meds for schizophrenics, and medicines old people need to live. Seems like something an insurance company would do.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Dental Incident

Yes, you may call me “Mrs. Cavity” or “The Root Canal Queen.” Even with my trusty Reach Access by my side and my Sensodyne toothpaste, I seem to have a new cavity every time I go to the dentist. Couldn’t be all the chocolate I eat, could it? And I used to be the Coke Queen, but it’s rare these days to find me with a soda in my hand.

Anyway, this is about the kids, not me. A year ago Joel had a crown and a filling. He was a champ about it. Then a couple of months later Callie had 2 fillings. I felt like a bad mother (still do) and will try to never again make fun of little kids with lots of fillings.

To even INSPECT Michael and Callie’s mouths, I had to hold them down and listen to them scream. Callie’s fillings weren’t so bad because of the wonderful invention of Baby Valium and Gas.

Recently we went to the dentist for Checkups. Joel did great and got through the whole thing. They even put “tooth vitamins” (fluoride) on him, which is a whole different subject.* Then it’s Michael’s turn. I can see him shutting down as they lay the chair down. So I had to hold him down for the Tooth Inspection. The hygienist asked if I wanted to hold him down for the cleaning. I said, “Uh, NOOOO! Let’s not TOTALLY mess the poor kid up!”

Then it’s Callie’s turn. She doesn’t want to come even to sit in the chair and receive her new toothbrush. So I have to pick her up and lay her in the chair and hold her down while they check her teeth. Instead of calming down, she continues her meltdown. I had to carry her out of there kicking and screaming and struggle to get her into the carseat. Thankfully, Mom was there to help get the other kids to the van.

Please, Readers, keep comments to yourselves like, “My kid NEVER had a tantrum. You are a bad mom with too many kids.” Even if your KID has never had a tantrum, I’ll bet YOU have!!!!!!!!!! Come to think of it, maybe my kids get their Tantrum Tendencies from their mother. Hmmm. Worth pondering.

The upside: NO CAVITIES between 3 kids. WHOOPIE! And keep in mind these are the Sugar Mama’s kids! Take THAT, Sugar Nazis! Crap, I need to stop gloating RIGHT NOW or else the kids’ll have like 10 cavities in 6 months. Shutting up now.

Now, as reward for no cavities, let’s all go out for DESSERT! Ha Ha!

*Why do people say fluoride is a mineral? Fluorite with a T is a mineral. What the hell IS fluoride? And does it REALLY help teeth or do they deteriorate faster with that crap? Have we been fed a line of hooey?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Red Lobster Interrogation

So Aron got a special little bonus for traveling so much and told the kids we could eat out anywhere they wanted. They LOVE popcorn shrimp, so they chose Red Lobster (a personal favorite of mine, as well).

Toward the end of the meal, a couple of older people told us how well we are raising our children because they were behaving so great. I tried to tell them it was only because I wore their little butts out at the park for 2 hours before dinner, but they insisted I was Mother of the Year, so I basked in that.

Until the woman from the next table over (what is it about a large family that brings people out of the woodwork with opinions and questions?) chimes in with, “They ARE doing very well.” I thanked her, trying to return my focus to my family dinner and chocolatey dessert.

Then I hear, “I’ll bet you homeschool them, too.” Where the hell did THAT come from? I said, “Actually, we do. How could you tell? I’m not even wearing a denim jumper.” She said she was just guessing but wasn’t surprised. O-kay.

Again I try to focus on my wriggling baby and DESSERT, and the kids whose behavior is starting to deteriorate.

Then She asks me if I do it for religious reasons. I said, “Well, yes. I do it because Catholic school is too damn expensive!!!” She looked at me funny, so I explained my usual deal: I started it to keep them close, it made sense, it was cheaper, takes less time, allows us all kinds of freedom of education, field trips, spontaneous play and learning, lots of time with grandparents and other family members, we can cater to their individual needs, and because Aron travels and we get to go with him sometimes, which helps to keep our family a cohesive unit.

AGAIN with the dessert, which I am now cramming into a to-go box next to my garlicky shrimp pasta.

The she says, “My husband wants to know if you were a teacher before?” I said, “Nope. Only 2 years of community college, too. We use a packaged curriculum, but you don’t really even need to do THAT.”

“Are you in the homeschool association?” Well, there’s not really one, so I tell her I’m in about 4 homeschool groups and that the kids are practically OVER-socialized.

“I’ll bet they go to bed late.” I said, “Yeah, they do. Like 10 p.m. And then I wake them up at 4 a.m. with a bugle and make them do push-ups and jumping jacks.”

No answer.

Then we beat it out of there before she could get our license plate number and report us to The State. My friend Leigh always tells me I’m too honest, especially with people I don’t know. But I don’t like to blow smoke up people’s butts, ya know? I could’ve played Suzy Homeschooler and lied about bedtimes and such, but why? I’m not doing anything wrong.

And if you could meet my kids you’d see I’m doing a lot of things RIGHT. Jeez, call The State on me if I’m smoking crack in bed til 3 p.m. every day or leaving my kids at home alone. But HOMESCHOOLING? I’m not doing it because I’m too lazy to drive my kids to school or oversee their homework.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The WalMart Incident

*settle in; this is kinda long

This occurred in December of 2005, but it is still fresh in my mind. It taught me to not engage total strangers who think they are allowed to spew opinions about my life (that’s what FAMILY is for, anyway, right?!). It also taught me to not leave the house with a bunch of kids unless I am mentally prepared to deal with My Public.

So I take my 3 kids (ages 10 months, 3 years and 5 years) plus Joel’s girl friend Alex to WalMart. I was at the back of the store perusing, and Michael was sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle. Then someone pushing a shopping cart tried to get through and all hell broke loose. I now know I would MUCH rather look like Pushover Mom and ask the innocent shopper to go around the next aisle than have what happened happen.

INSTEAD, I tried to be the Mom Who Looks Good in Public and first asked Michael to move. Okay, any non-quirky (that’s my new word for what Michael is: quirky) kid would’ve said, “Yes, ma’am” and moved. But he wouldn’t move. Not out of defiance, but because he kind of shuts down. It’s hard to explain. Social stuff isn’t his thing.

So I gently moved him out of the way. And he LOST HIS MIND.

He went into his Fugue State with screaming and crying. I decided to beat it out of there. But not before I bought my stuff. Did I mention it was after Christmas and I had some AMAZING deals in my cart?

So I’m heading for the front of the store with Michael behind me still screaming. If I speak to him, he screams louder. So I did the logical thing and IGNORED him. Thankfully, he followed me instead of running off like some kids do.

Once in line, I hear a snotty woman one line over say, “Maybe she can’t HEAR him.” Instead of ignoring her like I should have, I chose to entertain her and the rest of the store. I said to Snotty, “I can hear him. What do you want me to do, Miss Child Psychologist?”

She goes, “TALK to him or something, at least.”

I go, “Okay, watch this … Hey, Michael, are you okay? What can I do for you, Baby?”

He screams louder.

I say to Snotty, “GREAT idea. Got any more?”

She turns to her friend to make more snotty comments. I reach out and touch her arm to get her to turn around and finish this. She shouts for Security, who comes running over. Since I didn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve in jail, I backed off.

I unloaded my craptastic (Zee! I TOLD you I’d fit that word into the blog somehow) deals onto the conveyer belt, Michael STILL screaming and crying. Snotty was STILL talking smack the next aisle over. I’m betting she has exactly ZERO kids of her own.

So I make it out of the store and to the van. It is then that I am visited by the Three People of New Year’s Eve (like the 3 Ghosts of Christmas, get it?).

As I’m struggling to get Michael into his carseat, my brother-in-law Ray comes up to the van just to say hi. I wish to GOD he had been in WalMart when I needed him because he’s a tall, strong guy and would’ve scared the pants off Snotty.

Next (do I have a sign on my van that says Open For Visitors????) comes the woman who offers Michael M&Ms as he’s screaming. I told her, “Go ahead and try to REWARD his bad behavior, but he’s not going to want them … he’s in an alternate universe right now.”

And did the M&Ms work? Let’s see. His MOTHER said they would not work. His MOTHER who is with him 24/7 and knows him better than anyone in the world. WHAT DO YOU THINK? (Sorry to yell at you, Reader)

Michael is STILL struggling with me about the carseat issue, still screaming.

The final Person of New Year’s Eve is a child psychologist. She goes, “I saw what happened in there. You did everything right. Ignoring versus beating him is a much better alternative. That woman in there was just mean. You’re a good mom. Keep it up.”

Isn’t it strange who God sends you when you are at your lowest point? Just a few simple encouraging words, and I suddenly had the strength to buckle that carseat and be on my way.

Updated 4/20/12: We now believe Michael has a touch of Asperger's. It's so mild and not a problem that we are choosing not to get him an official diagnosis, which of course meets with opinions from everyone we know, but I'm done defending us ... he does not have meltdowns like this anymore and is doing great and is a smart, sweet boy who is on a fishing trip with his dad, brother, uncles and cousins this weekend :D

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Kids Eating Poop

A conversation between my daughter and I when she had just turned 3:

Me: Look at that big poopie, Callie!

Callie: You like it?

Me: Yes! I can dump it right into the toilet from your potty chair.

C: You want to eat it?

Me: Yes!

C: On bread?

Me: Sure. Why not?

And recently, her dolls and stuffed animals have become my "grandbabies" and I have to babysit them. Here's a shot of my grandbabies in their stroller while their "mother" sits next to them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday to Aron/Woodworking Projects

Today my super-sweet and hot husband turns 42. So I’m doing a tribute to his woodworking skills. Of course, if you see a piece you like, he can make it for you. The TV stand, for instance, would retail for about $500. It even has adjustable shelves and slam-proof doors. Callie told him, “Oooh. This furniture here is beautiful.”


No, I’m serious. You should see how much love and time and energy and perfection he puts in to each piece. I wish to God I had that kind of dedication to something. As you can tell from my recent typos (which my parents and cousin Zee tell me about) in this blog, I’m kind of in a hurry to pop out my opinions and move on to the next 463 things on my list.

Here’s a shelf he whipped out so I could put things by the door so I wouldn’t forget them (like the kids ... haha):


This isn’t actually woodworking but shows how cool he is; on two levels he put double banisters so shortie kids can use a handrail going up and down stairs.


And here’s one of his two speaker stands, which are a bitch to dust:


Here's the cool table he made for me:


And a neat-o set of end tables, one of which is below for your viewing pleasure


And, of course, the deck, which he designed and built himself (with some help from friends, brothers and dads). Oops, never mind on the photo of that one. Don’t need more stalkers coming around.

He also cooks, cleans, dances, fixes plumbing and electrical stuff and works on my car. And never forgets a holiday or special occasion. And lets the kids put mud footprints on the ceiling.


And NO, you can’t have him or even rent him. HANDS OFF. (This little rant doesn’t apply to his cousins who read the blog cuz that would be just gross.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

One of My Other Original Blogs – “Travel Widow”

This is the second blog I tried out, alongside “Attached.” I thought I could write about Attachment Parenting in one, then I could have a blog griping about my husband being gone a lot. Woo hoo. It has a total of 4 posts and now is in hibernation mode.

So, enjoy. And try to stay awake.

February 2, 2006 titled Back in the USSR
Actually, my beloved is in Edmonton Alberta Canada (how do you punctuate that?). Again. The upside is that he's only gone Monday through Friday this time. The downside is that he is gone.

It's Thursday, and the kids and I have been staying at my mom's all week. Tomorrow night we make the airport drive. Going to my sister-in-law's today so we can get out of the house. She's got 2 kids (one in Kindergarten) and will be watching her sister's 2 today, so things should get lively. The baby is nursing and sleeping on my lap, and M. has a rancid poopie cloth diaper that needs a changin'.

I have a husband; I definitely also need a wife! She would watch the kids while I scrapbooked, exercised and went out on dates with A. She would also cook and clean so I could REALLY play with the kids and be in the moment.

I think I'm on to something here.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Original Blog – “Attached”

My original foray into blogging was … well, I’m just going to say it. It was BORING. There. I also was scared to let anyone read it, so only 2 people ever visited it and I’m pretty sure they fell asleep while reading.

When I decided to start blogging again last July I thought I’d better get over myself and not write every detail of my waking hours (that’s all in my journals, my friends!). I thought that if others enjoyed it, that would be a bonus, but that I’m writing it for me and for the kids. Later I guess I can use this blog for World Domination. All in good time.

Here are samplings of posts from early 2006:

Thursday, January 19, 2006 titled No Access
So I'm starting a blog, and I don't even have Internet access at home. Plus I have 3 small kids, so having a thought and typing it at a remote location like the library or a friend's house is next-to impossible. But here goes nothing. My biggest problem is going to be writing this for myself ... and for my kids to read in the future. So I can't worry about what my dad would think or what my conservative relatives would think or of what people who don't like me would think. This is harder than it sounds, even for an outspoken b**** like me. Right now I'm at my mom's ... J. is bugging me to look at Littlest Pet Shop animals online, and M.'s cloth diaper keeps coming unsnapped because he is big for his age and not potty-trained, and C. is still awake and cruising along the furniture.

February 2, 2006 titled When the Children Cry
Pop Quiz: What do you do when all three kids under the age of five cry at once?

Option 1: Comfort the baby first. She's just a baby, for God's sake. Pick her up and change her, feed her or whatever. Then comfort the two older boys, who are probably crying because they were running around and bonked their heads together. The boys need to learn that you always show compassion to a baby. They will realize that you also showed compassion to THEM when they were babies and will feel warm and glowy.

Option 2: Comfort the boys first. All they need is to have their heads rubbed and kissed, and they are usually on their way. The baby can wait and won't remember this day in time and how insensitive you were.

Option 3: Comfort yourself first. Head for the nearest chocolate, Coke or baked good.

February 2, 2006 titled Money Money Money Money .... Muuuhhhhhneeee
Sometime I need to figure out how much money I have saved our household over the last 4.5 years by breastfeeding nonstop, using (and, yes, washing) cloth diapers and rarely buying actual baby food. I'm not bragging; I'm just cheap and my husband is an environmentalisty-type guy.

February 2, 2006 titled Lord, I Was Born a Ramblin' Man Part 1
My husband travels too much. It stinks. We all hate it. But it is a job. Money comes in. We have bills. We like to eat. We like to live in a house. We like to drive around in our minivan. We like to have electricity. We like to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We like to have insurance on our cars, lives and health. He and I love kids. We want more. They cost money.

February 15, 2006 titled Oh, Canada
Well, this is called ATTACHED, so let's talk attachment parenting. I wonder what others who stumble into this blog think it might be about ... like some obsessive woman who is Fatal Attraction-ing some guy? No, nothing that exciting.

It means my kids are, like, attached to me at all times pretty much. And I'm generally cool with it. Except now, when I am typing and nursing at the same time and my oldest son is bugging me to come to the king-sized bed, where his sick brother is already sleeping. At times like this I don't do well with the whole non-violent communication thing. I do pretty okay when A's gone, but then I get antsy and think about scrapbooking and WRITING and how I'd love 20 uninterrupted minutes to do those things. Then I feel guilty and selfish. These times will pass so quickly and I am loving them so much. As I live my life I am aware that these sweet kid times are fleeting and it makes me wistful.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Converter Box

I told you about the ordeal of BUYING the converter box, but not how I feel about the addition to my home.

All I want to know is: How did the government know I needed yet another remote control? I now have a grand total of FOUR, and that’s because the $100 one is lost.

Hooking it up was no problem. I even did a happy dance because we get EXTRA channels! Kid channels, no less, like Qubo 24 hours a day! It’s like getting more free babysitting! Then you realize that if a channel doesn’t come in PERFECTLY, the whole screen freezes. Not like the old days, when if the rabbit ears weren’t positioned well you could still kind of see your program.

“Why don’t you just get cable, you cheap [fill in the blank]?!” you may ask. Well, first of all, I AM CHEAP. Have you not met me? Are ya new to this blog? (If you ARE new to this blog, I apologize for yelling at you, but you may as well get used to it.)

Plus if I had cable I wouldn’t have time to entertain YOU with this blog because I’d be watching TV about 10 hours a day … cooking shows, news shows, etc. I don’t need all that extra crap in my poor small brain! My mom tapes a very elite group of shows for me, which I can take or leave depending on how much time I have.

Which brings me to taping shows using a converter box. Yes, you read that right. I typed the word TAPING. Anyway, I can’t set up to tape anything anymore because:

1. The converter box automatically shuts off after a few hours.

2. How does my old VCR know WHICH Channel 19 to tape (there are 4, named 19-1, 19-2, etc.)? It is confused.

Y'all yell at me for being stuck in the ‘90s, but I’m telling you I like being different. Mark Twain said that whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Kids as Little Salespeople

The link is defunct, so below is my opinion piece published in The Kansas City Star in January of this year. I am dying to know what you think because the next kid who asks me for money for his school is going to get a CHECK made out to his school instead of me ordering over-priced wrapping paper.

And yes, I DO realize my topic is too broad. It’s mostly about kids taking responsibility for their own sales, but the bigger issue is that they even have to do this crap in the first place. They barely have time to do their homework, yet they also have to fit fundraising into their schedules. No wonder the dropout -- and homeschooling -- rates are so high. Again with those pesky mixed messages.

My original title was “Here Comes the Tiny Sales Force,” but the Published title became “Kids: Do Your Own Fundraising”

“I have taken a vow. I will not buy any school or organization fundraiser item unless the mini salesperson contacts me personally.

School just started, and already I have gotten three solicitations. Many more are on the way. Some of the items for sale my husband or I actually need, like trash bags or chocolate. The problem is that the kids aren’t the ones doing the soliciting — their parents are.

Parents: if your kids are old enough to be handed sales sheets and promised prizes for high sales, they can make calls or visit neighbors personally (with you in tow, of course). Selling isn’t fun or easy. Plus kids are easily intimidated. So you send out a mass e-mail, you make calls, you put out a sign-up sheet at your job in the lunchroom.

What about when they don’t want to do their homework? Will you do that for them because it’s easier than haranguing them and teaching them responsibility? How about their chores? When does it end?

School fundraising as a general issue chaps my hide anyway, especially since the kids start as early as preschool. What’s the point in buying these wares when only 50% (if that) of each dollar goes to the school? And where do private schools get off having fundraisers? Why expect me to help buy each classroom a flat-screen TV or sports equipment? Just raise tuition or fundraise within the school or church. Or, God forbid, lower the salary of the higher-ups.

There is a sweet little girl in my neighborhood who comes to our house every year to sell Girl Scout cookies. I make sure to order as many cookies as I can fit into my budget because I appreciate how hard it is for her to deal with a semi-stranger.

We’ve all encountered too many “adult children” who don’t know how to make change or spell. Do you think maybe their parents cleaned their rooms for them, made their lunch every day, fought their battles … did their fundraising?”

Please try to enlighten me WITHOUT calling me names. I truly want to understand the insanity.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Animals in Strollers and At Work

So you already know I have a “problem” (meaning I don’t really care all that much because it doesn’t hurt me none) with animals in strollers. But what about kids who are, like, TEN years old in strollers?

I don’t even want to get into the whole pacifier-at-age-four thing OR the nursing kids til they are 47 months old because I personally sucked my thumb until the double line showed up on my pregnancy test when I was 29.

I’m talking about consistently seeing older kids who can’t walk-and-rest like the rest of us. Most of the time my head is up my butt, so the reason I even NOTICE these kids is because they are usually having a full-on hissy fit of some variety. Hmmm, don’t act like a baby, kid, yet sit in a stroller til you move out of the house.

And what’s the deal with my “dependent” kids being insured on my medical policy until they are 25 years old? Does “dependent” mean they live at home or that I am footing the bill for their whole life OUTSIDE of my home (college, parties, transportation)?

First of all, no wonder insurance is so expensive if a kid is a kid for 7 years longer than it used to be. Second, why are we trying to get our child through their Master’s degree before kicking them out of the house, off the boob, and off insurance? Get a job like I had to, child! Starbuck’s offers insurance!

So we are taking care of our kids until they are a third of the way through their life, yet at the same time letting our daughters wear short-shorts with words like “princess” and “hot” on their ass. Oh, and they get cell phones, unlimited Internet access, cable TV in their bedrooms and $100 portable video game machines when they are like five years old now. Good Lord, how confusing is that?

And don’t even TALK to me about how I nurse too long or how I smother my kids by homeschooling them. We are ALL guilty in some way, no?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dads Who Travel and Travel Widows

Aron has to leave town for a measly 3 days this week , but it still disrupts our world. My saint mother (I can hear my dad laughing right now) is going to come over Thursday so I can do a market research thing for an hour that night. She’s watching all 4 kids. She’s spending the night. WOW.

Then Friday is the Dental Appointment (I always have cavities no matter what I do, and YES I am aware that I eat too much chocolate). Aron was supposed to join me on this appointment and have his own, but TRAVEL intrudes. I have had to reschedule his appointment literally 5 times. Mom is also coming to THAT with me … the kids like to play in the waiting area so they can hear me screaming (just kidding).

Last time he traveled was a tiny trip to Chicago. Before that it was ALL SUMMER because some moron quit (again) so MY man got to leave every Sunday night at 5 p.m. and return every Saturday at 1 a.m. for about 10 weeks or so. It was like Chinese Work Torture. Just stay gone for 4 weeks and be home for 4, for God's sake.

I'm not supposed to complain. My dad says it's not like he's digging ditches. I say it's not like I'm staying sane.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Questions and Laws

1. What time do you usually start trick-or-treating? Even if your kids are grown, please answer this question for the past, Mamas or Papas. I view Halloween as a candy-getting sport, so I like to be at it around 6 p.m. Yeah, so Daylight Saving Time is throwing the sunlight off, but who says it has to be pitch-black to get candy?

2. What time do you call it quits? I'm saying by 8 on a regular night; maybe 8:30 on a weekend. Some kid showed up at our door WITH HIS PARENT at 9:45. How uncouth!

3. Do you just want to throw eggs at the cars that race down the street, almost hitting your groups of kids who are crossing in the crosswalk? I didn't have eggs, so I threw my best "Don't mess with a Mama Bear" look and then yelled at the guy that he was "brilliant." (Sorry, but I have a nasty ear infection and was pretty grumpy to start with).

4. I may have to shut you out of the blog if you answer "yes" to this, so think carefully before commenting. Do you ever DRIVE your kids around a normal neighborhood? By "normal" I mean not a swanky neighborhood where the houses are 10,000 feet from each other. Oh, and did I mention the weather was GORGEOUS last night, as well? I saw people pulling up to only the houses with lights on as their kids (and not tiny ones, either) got out to trick or treat. Please enlighten me if you do this, because in my book this is (a) lazy and teaches your kids (b) to be lazy and (c) to be greedy. If I hafta work for MY candy (oops, I mean MY KIDS' candy), you hafta work for yours.

5. Don't you hate when someone's porch light is on and they don't answer? Or when their light is NOT on and they hear you coming and chase you down the street because you didn't come to their house?

Anyone else have any other Halloween peeves?

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