Thursday, April 30, 2009

Breaking the News to Ryan

One night as we’re falling asleep, Callie says, “If I marry one of Ciara’s brothers, I’ll have to tell Ryan that I can’t marry HIM.” (Ciara is her new best buddy who has 3 brothers!)

I say, “I think he’ll be okay with that. Ryan’s probably going to marry God anyway.”

Callie: “He can’t marry God. God is a boy.”

Me: “Hmmm. I just meant he might become a priest. Then he can marry you and one of Ciara’s brothers.”

Callie: “Huh?”

Me: “Yeah, it’s confusing. Just go to sleep.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kool-aid Kocktail

I’m not a drinker; never have been. But lately I’m feeling hormonal and on edge and am raising my voice too much and I WANT A DRINK.

But I can’t have drinks. Rather, I WON'T have drinks. My life is crazy enough without growing a kid born with fetal alcohol syndrome and knowing it was my own damn fault. I like to keep my fetuses nice and healthy, if I can.

To have a healthy baby, I think my stress level needs to not be too insane. So instead of alcohol or pot or cigarettes or Valium, I turn to sugar. Sugar and music.

Chocolate chip cookies are always a good bet for putting me in an excellent mood. Same for a tall mocha coffee or a Mr. Pibb. And some rock and roll. Or some oldies. Or some current naughty pop music.

Lately I make up a batch of good old-fashioned grape or cherry or strawberry or orange Kool-aid in a tall Old Spaghetti Factory (cherish it if you have one of these restaurants in your town, you lucky dog) glass with lots of small ice.

What makes you feel better when drugs are not an option?

Aron will say, “go fishing.” Paul will probably say, “meditation” … which I’ve tried and I can’t seem to sit still. Ellen will say, “organize something.” Eva will say, “pray.” My dad will say, “go for a walk” and Mom might say, “watch a TV show where their lives are much crazier than yours.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I’m Gonna Be a Moving Girl …

… when my kids are all grown up. For some reason, the day I was home with my own 4 kids plus my friend’s 4 kids was the day I was able to move the couch, the big plants, the glider, the toy ottoman, and more. Thank God for nice weather so the kids were outside all day!

My friend thinks she really put me out by having me watch her kids for 2 days while she went to Chicago, so nobody tell her that I got so much done. The hardest part was playing Waitress and Dishwasher, but then when her kids left, it made my normal daily work seem like so much less! It also made me feel like a real a**hole friend for complaining about space when my friend has about half the space I do and the same number of kids. So I’ll be shutting up now.

Do you move furniture around a lot? Do you have a spouse or roomie who changes it back while you’re asleep (there’s a little of that going on in my home lately, but I am exerting my “Female Gene” for once)?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Watch the Preggie Move Furniture Part Two

Armed with the knowledge that Aron is NOT attached to the “breakfront” (short piece of furniture with a drawer for silverware, shelves underneath and it can open into a makeshift bar on top), I proceed to empty it and drag it out of the living room.

My friend Ellen is having a garage sale, and the breakfront is headed for it. Michael wants to know if we have to sell EVERYTHING*. I told him we’re getting rid of things that don’t work for our family anymore space-wise. Who else do you know who has to cram scrapbooking, homeschooling and a writing career into one corner of their living room?

*By “everything” he’s referring to the 500-year-old table we have by the curb with a “free” sign attached to it. Aron’s parents were getting rid of a much nicer coffee table (built by his brother [McLoughlin Stone and Tile … there, I advertised it], which means it will last forever), and we snagged it. Now we have to become the type of parents who yell at the kids all the time for spilling and jumping on the furniture. Or not. Then I’d just be a hypocrite who only WRITES about being laid-back.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Watch the Preggie Move Furniture Part One

I got sick of my living room looking so disorganized (dang, I wish my digital camera was working so I could post before and after photos). After all, it’s used for “living” and my office and homeschooling and scrapbooking and so much more, so there’s lots of papers and craft stuff and JUNK that I needed to go through. I’m trying to downsize.

By the way, why do so many homes have a FAMILY room AND a LIVING room also? A few years ago Aron re-did our family room and we lived in the upstairs living room for months and it was AWESOME to just all be on one level and have the TV and the kitchen and the dining room all there together. Now if only we could move the fireplace upstairs and … PRESTO! … change the family room into 2 bedrooms and a bathroom for the upstairs we’d never have to move our ever-growing family!

So one night Aron was at religion class with Joel, and I just started moving junk. I dragged a bookshelf down the stairs. I dragged a smaller one up the stairs. I moved all kinds of junk and got rid of tons of stuff (thanks for having a garage sale, Ellen!).

Tresa has a good point: if you’re home all day long it’s good to be able to move furniture around for a change. We hadn’t moved our furniture in like 9 years. And Geminis like me normally like to change things up.

Don’t tell my ogre Neanderthal husband, but this “No Laptop = Clean House?” experiment may actually be working for us. And do you notice how I still post on this blog daily AND still submit to mags? Maybe everyone in my house can win, especially the kids, by having happy parents.

How’s YOUR home? Tresa is moving and dumping tons. Ellen has a garage sale when her husband can’t park in the garage anymore due to too much STUFF. Most people just stare at their junk and think, “My family can take care of it when I’m dead.” I got tired of staring at my messes and wanting to take a nap.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Finding Time to Have Sex as Parents

*Dad, you probably don’t wanna read this one.

Alright, married folks with kids. Or folks with kids. Or whatever. Man, I'm sick of trying to be all politically correct.

If you’re normal and want some alone time with your spouse, you put the kids to bed at 8 p.m. and grab your alone time in your own home while the kids sleep and before you are dog-tired.

Or you hire a sitter and go out to dinner and a movie and maybe sneak in that alone time in the car or somewhere equally exciting.

Then there’s us freaky Attachment Parent people. With so many kids plus kids in our bed at all times (and they all stay up too late), how do we find the time to make MORE babies and sneak in that “Mommy and Daddy Time”, aka “Alone Time”???

(Some of you at this point are saying, “Who cares?” and I say to you … “Go check out another blog, then, if you’re so dang bored” … and if you leave a crappy comment, I will hunt you down and breastfeed in front of your house … so there.)

Here are some ideas:

1. Fill Easter eggs and throw them into the yard. Tell the kids it’s Half Easter (like that stupid thing they do at schools now: Half Birthdays) and sneak in a quickie somewhere in the house while they hunt eggs.

2. In the middle of the day, in broad daylight, put on a movie for the kids and tell them you need to go talk about Christmas with Daddy (or their birthday or Kwanzaa or whatever). Sneak in some Quality Time with your man.

3. As the kids get older, nothing will work and they’ll be banging on the bedroom door bugging you no matter what you do, so you just have to scare them. I like to tell them, “We’re having SEX. Lots of it.” They don’t really understand what sex IS, but they know they want NO PART OF IT. That should buy you a good 10 minutes.

Don’t forget to wear your best sweatpants to entice your man and let him know you’re in the mood.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Think About It ...

Photo credit because I don't need more legal trouble: The Sun, January 2007, Martin Fishman

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shopping with Kids at Target

I promised myself I would not venture near Target for a month because I always spend too much money there. Alas, a couple of last-minute kid birthday parties came up (does nobody plan ahead anymore? One party was for the next day!), so I headed for Target since it’s close and convenient and easy to find stuff. Yes, I took all 4 kids plus the one I’m cooking in my belly.

FYI: This is the Target where that 18-year-old girl was taken and met her untimely demise, so why I even go there at all is beyond me. But Target is like my own personal heroin, and I can’t seem to stay away.

We grabbed some Bakugan stuff for the boy party and some art stuff for the girl party. Do you ever just want to forego shopping and wrapping altogether and just give each birthday party honoree kid $10 cash? I totally want to do that.

Why do they have bathing suits out in January yet no Crocs in March?

On the way out I pass a cute sleeveless retro dress and I say to the kids, “I could’ve worn that before I acquired my amazing Popeye arms that hold babies so well.”

I managed to find several things I “need” before hitting the checkout. I’m sure you know how that is, unless you are perfect and all Zen and crap. And if that’s the case, you probably don’t have little kids. So there.

Also on the way out, the kids are trailing behind me and I can’t even see them, yet I’m yelling, “Don’t touch that.” You have to keep up that “eyes in the back of the head” thing. I always said my mom had “detective ray ears” … now I know I just have a loud mouth!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Do You Eat at the Grocery Store?

The day before Easter I took Eva, Callie and their friend to the grocery store. I had a Ho-Ho craving, and got a box and dug in, giving each girl one and sharing 2 with myself. The little friend was incredulous and asked, “Can you do that?”

I said, “I just did.”

She said, “Will you get in trouble?”

I said, “I never have.”

She goes, “Are you going to pay for it?”

I said, “Of course! I’m many things, but thief is not one of them. We do it all the time. If I didn’t feed my kids while we shopped, there would be mass chaos and total meltdown on their part AND mine.”

So my question to you is this: Do you feed your kids while you shop? You know, open a box of Teddy Grahams when you first arrive so your kid will be happy?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lazy Legal Troubles

I swear I am not making writing mistakes just to amuse you! This one I made to save you from future legal battles, and it’s something I should have known better.

All I did was go to and searched for any book or e-book with “lazy” in the title since I figured I was writing an e-book and that’s all I needed to do. How flippin’ lazy of me :-)

Instead I found out from my friend over at Mrs. Hannigan’s Home for Girls AFTER I published my e-book called “The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Life” that there’s a web site called Lazy Moms: The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Life. I figured since only the “Lazy Moms” part had a TM by it, it was the only trademarked part and I went on with my life.

Then I got an email from a lawyer (I researched it a little and the lawyer shares a last name with one of the “lazy” moms … “lazy” in quotes because these women look too good to be one bit of lazy). Good thing it came on a Friday because I only have Internet access on weekends and he said something about time being of the utmost importance. Here’s the e-mail I got:

Dear Ms. McLoughlin:

I represent the owners of Lazy Moms and the Lazy Mom's website, My clients have claimed a proprietary interest, and corresponding intellectual property rights, in and to the Lazy Mom's concept, name and website. My clients have taken the necessary and appropriate steps to protect those rights and interests, including the assertion of trademark and copyright protections concerning the concept, website, site content and name which includes "The Lazy Mom's Guide to Life" and affiliated content as has been reflected, with all proper copyright and trademark claims, on the Lazy Mom's since mid-January, 2009.

My clients have become aware of a competing commercial interest under the name or title, "Lazy Mom's Guide to Life" that, through the internet, appears to have been written and marketed by you on your website,, and elsewhere (for example, - product added March 10, 2009). We believe this e-book and use of the lazy mom's name/concept are in violation of the clearly stated and properly-asserted intellectual property rights of my clients who have taken all necessary precautions to comply with federal intellectual property laws and make proper assertions of federal law protections for their site, site content, the "Lazy Mom's" concept and name.

I send you this e-mail on behalf of my clients as a courtesy, to ask that you immediately remove your e-book and any "lazy mom's" concept from your website (and any other web locations) to ensure no further infringement of my client's intellectual property rights occurs. I invite you to call me if you have any questions about this and to e-mail me with confirmation that this has occurred. Time is of the essence, and wish to caution you to fail not hereof under penalty of law.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
David H. Herrold

I had to take down the book cover and link from both my blogs and now will have to remember where else I pimped it. Then I figured out a new gimmick, a new title. And I Googled the hell out of it first.

I wrote the lawyer back and told him I’d work on changing my “lazy” ways, but that it might take some time since I’m growing a 5th human being and homeschooling in my spare time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Just Another Saturday

Okay, I had a lame post up about Portland Family Writer's Guidelines, but that's dumb since I'm working on an e-book of parenting publication writer's guidelines anyway. Plus it's boring for my regular readers. So I'm whipping out a random post here ... got to see the baby yesterday on the sonogram screen ... kicking like crazy already. It's always cool to see that, no matter how many kids you have. Joel's at his First Communion Retreat, and Aron forgot the unleavened bread I slaved over (yeah, right, I'm posting the recipe soon because it's so easy), so I'll have to rally the troops when they wake and run that up to the church. Short post, but anything's better than writer's guidelines, right?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Thursday Night

It’s 6:30. The baby has taken a late nap (on me, of course) so I’m just now getting to dinner. Aron called earlier to say he’d be home at 6:30. He’s not home.

I’m working on making tacos. Eva is pissy (mirroring her Pissy Pregnant mother perhaps?) and wants to be held, wants a drink, wants to be fed. I take care of all this. Joel asks if he can help. I consider doing the usual: asking him to feed the baby applesauce so I can make dinner without her 30 pounds on my hip. Every time I put her down, she squawks.

Instead I tell him, “Thank you for offering, but no. YOU didn’t make this baby, your dad and I did. It’s OUR responsibility to take care of her.”

Joel says, “But she’s my sister.”

I say, “Yes, and you help a lot with her, and I appreciate it all. You carry her down the stairs when she wants to be with you guys. You play with her so I can make meals. You entertain her in the van. You are a great brother and will make a great dad. I’ll always need your help around the house and with the kids, but it’s not your responsibility to care for the other kids.

When I ask you to babysit them when you are older, I will always pay you. I never want you to feel like their 2nd father. Just be a kid. And if I forget and slip into making you do too much (like after the new baby comes), remind me of what I just said. I’ve known too many women who wouldn’t let their oldest kid go do anything because the oldest kid was ‘too much help to [the mom]’. I think that’s wrong. My opinion is that people should not have kids if they can’t care for them themselves.”

So I didn’t have time to make dinner very well, but I could darn sure stop to give a soliloquy to my son with the baby on my hip.

Edited on 4/18/09 to post comment response:
Eva ... we will just have to disagree on this one. As an only child I was given an allowance and had many responsibilities, and as the kids take on more responsibilities around the house, I give them allowance so they'll know how money works in the world. You work = you get paid. Too many people don't get that concept! They certainly won't make big bucks to babysit, and mowing is gonna be part of their chores/allowance. I do agree kids are given too little responsbility these days, though. BUT I don't want my kids NOT wanting kids because they had to parent their sibs. When I babysat for families around the neighborhood, I got paid. That's why I think my kids should get paid to watch their siblings ... even a couple of bucks. I just think too many parents abuse the "help" of their older kids and end up only seeing those older kids as "the help." I've seen it too much, and it makes me sad.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I’m a Gumball Machine

I thought I was a Walking Baby Oven, and my answering machine message says our house is the McLoughlin Baby Factory, but a recent Anonymous commenter on the blog said something about people like me spitting out kids like a gumball machine.

At first the comment pissed me off, especially since they live near me and are one of my Facebook “friends” (thank you, Sitemeter!) and went on to say some pretty rude stuff. They obviously don’t know me at all. But I’m letting the negative comments roll off me because I think that’s my Life Lesson this time around: to not worry so much about what people think of me and to be my damn self (cussing and all).

Anyway, the more I thought about and pictured the gumball thing, the more I laughed. I wish my husband could quit his job and work for The Kerrie Show full-time like’s husband did (can you say $40,000 per MONTH?) because I’d ask him to do an illustration of me as Human Gumball Machine.

While I’m pushing in the delivery room this fall, I’m pretty sure I’m going to say something to my doctor like, “Somebody put a quarter in my mouth. Is the gumball almost out?”

My friend Ellen said, “When you call me from the hospital to let me know the sex, just say it’s a pink gumball or a blue gumball.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Skincare for Women in their Forties

It sounds so “Housewives of Orange County,” doesn’t it? But, trust me, I would never seek out a facial on my own. My thoughtful husband pampers me about every year with something like a facial or a massage. I think my last one was in January.

I kindly asked him to stop getting me gift certificates for manicures unless he’s going to do the dishes and cleaning for about 2 weeks. Otherwise, it’s just wasted money.

It’s nice to be away from the house for 1 ½ hours, which is rare. I enjoy my facials … ah, the soothing music, the darkened room, the aromatherapy, having my face touched and all the gunk cleaned out of my 37.5-year-old skin. I don’t know how much the facials cost, but the Facialist (not a word, I know) gives me a sheet at the end to show the items I need to purchase to keep my skin all tuned up. This is AFTER she roughs me up by telling me all about my age spots and rosacea.

Here’s the rundown (none of which I buy because I love my L'Oreal stuff):

1. Lavender Cleansing Milk ($20) … or breast milk with purple food coloring?
2. Sea Cleanse ($23) … use sugar or sand from the kids’ sandbox instead!
3. Hydrating Essential Oil ($36) … use olive oil instead?
4. Eco Protective Cream ($30)
5. Purifying Cream ($32)
6. Anti-oxidant Balm ($50)
7. Nutrient K Plus ($54)
8. Glycolic 5% Pads ($30) … what is this???
9. Lip Balm ($6.50) … glorified Chapstick?
10. Eye Contour Serum ($40) … which burned my eyes and made me cry for 10 minutes, so why would I want to drop the equivalent of TEN mocha lattes on it?
11. Hydrating Mask ($19)

For a grand total of $340.50. Probably twice a year.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t even have the TIME it would take to apply all this crap day and night. I don’t even remove my mascara before I go to bed, and my poor teeth don’t get flossed all that often. My mom still looks great, and she’s 21 years ahead of me, so I have hope that I’ll age okay. Still, if I can grow as a person and be good INSIDE, I’ll be happy.

Does Botox freak anyone else out? YEESH! Sure, it would be nice to instantly get rid of my worry line in the center of my forehead, but didn’t I EARN that line worrying about my kids? Just like I earned my cute little stretch marks and my ever-changing boobs.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Holy Thursday of Easter Wek

Sometimes I feel like we are a Crazy Family. Let’s take Holy Thursday as an example.

So Holy Thursday was also Michael’s birthday this year. We woke up and got ready to go to a homeschooling friend’s house who also has 4 kids. To make it special since it was Michael’s birthday (and since we were bugging my friend over lunch hour), I called ahead to a McDonald’s to make sure they had 10 small fries, 10 double cheeseburgers and 10 orders of chocolate chip cookies. Yes, I CALLED AHEAD to a fast food joint. What a dork! Grabbed the food, realizing later that they shorted us 2 of the cheeseburgers. Then I had to run by the bank, then to my friend’s.

We spent 3 hours at my friend’s house, which ROCKED because we have much in common homeschooling-wise, and I checked out her Saxon Math and decided to buy it for the boys for next fall’s schooling. She doesn’t have to clean her house for me, and we love that about each other.

Raced home so we’d be here when Tresa brought her puppy for us to babysit for the weekend. After Tresa arrived I saw that Eva’s diaper was off and her legs were brown. That meant bathtime for her. Tresa couldn’t stay (sleeping kids in the car), so as soon as she left I threw dinner in the oven to turn on later, then Eva crashed on me nursing. Forgot Aron is off work on Good Friday and also took ½ day off Thursday to deal with boat issues (the boat = his mistress!!!), and I noticed the laptop shining in the kitchen and beckoning to me. Rigged it up somehow down by the couch so I could type and check email while I held Eva and the kids played outside and watched cartoons.

By the time she was awake, Aron was home and dinner was ready. Shoveled in dinner, then off to church at 7 p.m. Lately I spend most of Mass in the entryway with a restless toddler, which is cool. This night was no exception, and it was an almost-two-hour service … I got to use lots of my Spanish since it was also the Spanish Mass and there were tons of parents with toddlers in the entryway with me.

Home around 9 p.m. Aron gave the boys haircuts. I took a shower. Then I gave the boys baths. Then Callie got a bath. Then the kids colored Easter eggs with Aron. Then it was 10:30 p.m.

We are for sure freaky baby-makin’, stayin’-up-late Catholic homeschoolers!

And it works for us. We’re all healthy and smart and happy and kind (except for me, who goes on mean, selfish, whiney pregnant rants sometimes).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday, Michael!

My sweet, smart, kind Michael is 6 today! He is the long-suffering younger brother to Joel, and he puts up with a lot! I woke on the morning of his birth having some contractions, but they weren’t too bad. We headed to the hospital around 9 or 10, and I was in no pain. Then labor came on heavy (I was dumb and had my water broken to hurry things along), and he was born around 2 p.m. Man, that kid had big lips! He still does, and has huge eyes to go with the luscious lips.

His favorite color is orange. His favorite animal is the hippo. He used to say he didn’t want to ever get married, but now he’s changed his mind and has even added kids to the mix!

Something very telling about Michael is that he doesn’t want everyone to know his good deeds. We babysat a tiny dog for a week, and Michael jumped up on a chair every time the dog came around. But right before it was time for the dog to go home, Michael HELD it. When I bring it up, he denies it. Also, sometimes I catch him being so sweet and playing with a younger kid. When he sees me watching, he stops doing it!

This picture is of his new Weeblz in the butter dish in the fridge. This is the kind of silly thing he does. He’s also quite an artist and makes up his own jigsaw puzzles and rebuses and dot-to-dots. He’s amazing. And I'm not posting a picture of him today because it would drive him nuts.

I love you, Michael!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ongoing Organization Battle

I had a burst of energy the other day while I was in the basement doing laundry. That’s where all my old journal stuff is stored, and there is a LOT because I process EVERYTHING through writing (anybody I’ve written about over the years: I was just venting and I still love you, I’m sure). I’m working on an essay for Mothering Magazine where I pour my heart out about my tandem nursing experiences over the years, and I need to hunt for journals from 2003.

My parents call me Sidetrack for a reason (and my husband calls me Flit). I get sidetracked easily and flit on to other things, leaving the previous mess behind. I remind myself of my destructive toddler.

Of course, you know how organization goes. Before I could think about the huge task of organizing my old journals (think spiral notebooks, Daytimer pages, loose sheets of paper, napkins, folders, etc.), I HAD TO organize my Celebration Shelf. This is the shelf that has items to regifts, things I’ve bought for future birthdays, tons of gift bags I save so I don’t have to buy any OR wrap anything, a few birthday tablecloths I found a good deal on, etc. I FINALLY put away Christmas wrapping paper.

When that was done, I stared at the Homeschool Shelf for a while, then got tired (conveniently using the Pregnancy Excuse) and the baby got clingy, so I went upstairs.

This exciting saga will have to be continued. In the meantime, how organized are YOU? What areas do you struggle with? Any tips?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009 Dropout

A friend of mine makes great money doing online writing. The lucky (and talented) chick doesn’t even have to venture into the local parenting pubs because she does so great at so many online places. So when she suggested I sign up at, I got right on it.

You have to do a bio, including your education and experience (professional and otherwise), plus link to all the websites or pubs you’ve written for plus include 2 600-word samples. I reworked my 2 pieces I keep recirculating and made sure they were not in first person.

They gave me all these reasons why maybe I wasn’t going to work out. One was that I had too many grammatical errors. Nope. One was that I didn’t have enough experience. Probably not. I mean, I don’t have more than 2 years of college, but unless you’re a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer, college doesn’t necessarily mean a lot anymore (read John Taylor Gatto and tell me you disagree!) besides a big fat school loan to repay.

My friend says they probably get too many applications for writers in the parenting/family category and were just full (I also applied in the personal finance and freelance writing categories). She’s so kind. Actually, I was bummed for a second but then remembered how she told me you have to crank out 4 articles a month plus they have real editors who ride your butt PLUS you have to know how to put the right keywords with your articles (so people searching for an article on your topic can easily get to it from, say, Google) or they hunt you down and beat you (just kidding!). I’m thinking it’s called “101” because it’s like a writing class for writers and if you do well, you make money.

Then I realized I don’t even have time to work on all the stuff I really need to be doing, so why was I signing up for yet another thing to take up my time? If I could come up with 4 articles per month, I’d better be sending them out to the big parenting pubs and then the littles. I know you get residuals for life from online writing, but I’m happy with $25 for an article that I can resell again and again for $25 more.

Anyone have experience with Suite 101? Think you’re good enough to sign up there and get accepted? I hope so … do it and let me know how it turns out.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Merging Blogs

I have met my breaking point. I am officially admitting that I am a human being and that I have limitations. Instead of trying to manage two different blogs (one regular and one about writing), I’m merging them. I’m hoping this gives me more time to write for publication and to stare in amazement at my kids.

And to stop making crazy mistakes, like almost getting myself sued because I didn’t Google book titles and webs sites before I named my e-book. And to attempt to stop offending people SO badly (although I’ll still offend a little bit, I can promise you that).

If you have an e-mail subscription to Mother Writer, please re-sign up at The Kerrie Show on the right-hand side. If you get an e-mail from The Kerrie Show that is about writing and makes you yawn, just delete it and check out tomorrow’s post. If you’re a writer and get a post about my kid’s snotty nose, just move on.

This is certainly not a tightly focused blog … it’s definitely a variety blog. I hope you get a good laugh now and then or maybe even some writing inspiration. Look for lots of Pissy Pregnancy stories and Writer’s Guidelines, as well as excerpts from my newly titled “The Laid-Back Mom’s Parenting Guidebook”.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Christ Renews His Parish Follow-up

Aron came home “normal” from his secret religious weekend and did not drink the Koolaid. The organizers kept the guys up til midnight then woke them Sunday at 6 a.m., so Aron came home and took a nap. The luggage thing was that they drove over to the church in the blizzard so they could sleep there so they’d be warmer. (addition to this post: he was annoyed when they DEMANDED ... not asked, like he's an adult or something ... his watch when he walked in the door. And my husband is not easily annoyed; just look at his wife!)

Then there was the follow-up meeting Wednesday night, because obviously an ENTIRE WEEKEND was not enough and they can only celebrate their faith weekly with other guys. They met to discuss when the WEEKLY meeting would be, and I was a bit incensed because aren’t we BOTH in the Raising-Small-Children phase of our lives? I’m a pretty low-maintenance gal, but as he left he said he “had to” go to weekly meetings with these guys, and I was pretty mad.

The leaders of this group are going to say crap like, “Well, your husband needs a weekly time with other men of faith so he can be a better person and grow in his faith. We’re all busy.”

I say PHOOEY. Well, actually, I say a different word akin to a type of cow pooping, but I’m trying to keep it clean on this site. We can BOTH do all that stuff when the kids are older and much easier to leave. I’m just saying I’ve seen too many people neglect their family in the name of God (Adoration, retreats, Bible studies, being at church constantly, volunteering at church constantly). Some of this is great and nourishing to the soul. Some of this is merely a way to escape family life, obligations and responsibilities. Very sad. Let’s get lost in church and just call it “God’s time.”

So here are THREE WAYS in which we are a different family than anyone else he’s going to meet at these weekly meetings, THREE WAYS in which I think Aron earns an exemption, and if he won’t let the people at church know this, perhaps I have some e-mailing of this blog post to do:

1. We homeschool. It isn’t too crazy right now, but it’s going to get that way the older the kids get. Aron will have to take over the hard math and science, as well as teaching them how to change the oil in a car and do woodworking. As a homeschooling mom who is home with a bunch of kids all day and who RARELY asks for time to herself, I need a break every now and then. A weekly commitment really cuts into family time (unless it’s a date night, and I’m working on that!).

2. We have more than 2.2 children. They take a lot of time and love and attention and teaching. They are mentally and physically exhausting and worth every second. I’m pregnant and would sure love to cash in my gift certificate from Christmas for the scalp massage.

3. Aron travels. Sure, he’s home right now for a stretch, but then he’s gone for weeks on end. I think when he’s in town, he should be with his family that he chose to make and supporting his wife. I’m demanding, I know.

I am NOT saying my husband should not get time to himself. He gets plenty of time in his workshop alone, and plenty of times I take all the kids out of the house so he can be by himself. Hey, I think he’s lucky to be at work all day, where he can pee without an entourage! Trust me, I don’t have a short leash on this man.

So in a week or so he’s going to go to ANOTHER meeting to possibly DRINK THE KOOLAID and SIGN something saying he’s in for SIX MONTHS of meetings at one night per week at 3 hours per night, which comes to a total of 72 hours (plus driving time) away from home. I bet he could finish a few of his 100 house/boat/van/truck projects in that time. AND he's decided he wants to start going to his Saturday morning group as well (which means another nap for him!!!) Guess I’d better suck it up, quit whining, and learn how to remodel a bathroom by myself!!! (*amendement to this post: he's thinking about NOT signing the deal and NOT going to these meetings, so there is hope here!)

I’m a loose cannon, people. If you’re smart, you will NOT approach me about any Bible studies, retreats, weekends, scrapbooking crops, Mary Kay parties, etc. I have my hands full, but at least I know it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

“The Laid-Back Mom’s Parenting Guidebook” E-book Excerpt

Someday I'll get the whole e-book overhauled so you can order it without me getting sued. Should be available by the weekend. Thanks for being patient with me! In the meantime, here's a tiny teaser ...

From the section called Laid-Back Pregnancy:

This frustrates me to no end. I’m too lazy to keep track of what kind of seafood I am “allowed” to eat so I don’t end up with a 4-headed baby. If I were smart instead of laid-back, I wouldn’t eat ANY fish, seeing as how our oceans and rivers are used as toxic waste dumps more often than we will ever know. But I’ve enjoyed shrimp, canned tuna, salmon and assorted other ocean fish during every one of my 4 pregnancies, and my kids seem okay … so far.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Humane Son

The boys tied a rope to the ceiling fan in the dining room, then tied one of their Littlest Pet Shop mice to the end of the rope. Then they turned the fan on HIGH and watched the mouse spin.

Joel came up to me later and said, “Mommy, I let the mouse down so he could puke.”

I told him that was very humane of him.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Living in Poverty ... on Purpose

I got this as a Christmas letter; it is written by a homeschooling friend named Erin Schmidt.

“As we mentioned in last year’s Christmas letter, in hopes of understanding poverty better, we planned to experience it by living at the poverty level ($21,000 for a family of 4) in 2008. The year is almost over, we’ve managed to stick with it, have learned a lot and would like to share some of our experience with you.

Our poverty experiment turned into more of a reality when Dave was laid-off this spring. We experienced the stress of not having health insurance, how much red-tape and time it takes to obtain it – and how expensive it is to simply “continue coverage” through Cobra - $900/month for our very healthy family – or over half of our monthly poverty-level budget. We had our first ER visit – the bill for a 2 minute glue job on a cut totaled $1,800 (luckily still insured). Erin needed some meds which cost us $100 (being uninsured) – whereas her Dad got the same meds for $5 with his insurance. A pharmacist told us that folks without insurance pay a premium amount to make up for the loss incurred by the insurance company’s low rates. We are now aware of the hardships placed upon a person living paycheck to paycheck who needs medicines and/or medical assistance. We’ve become resourceful. When Lucy had a big gash above her eye, we said many prayers, sealed it up with steri-strips and avoided the ER completely.

When you’re living in poverty, it’s doesn’t take much set you back to a point that is very hard to recover from. Often, there's barely enough money to cover your basic needs and little to none is left for any accidents or savings. For us, the unexpected included a traffic violation, a parking ticket, medical bills, and damage to our van. Many things are put on hold longer than they should – like a brake job on the van, trips to the dentist, eye doctor, annual physical, fixing the vacuum cleaner, etc. These things usually end up haunting you in the end – that brake job that you put on hold due to finances, could end up costing you an accident in the future that could cost much more than the brake job. The poor are sometimes viewed as “lazy” or “irresponsible” – for some, this may be true – but most are likely dealing with only the most urgent needs, and “just keeping their head above water”.

To achieve our poverty level budget, we had to cut out all extras: no eating out (bummer), eating cheap food (hello Aldi), no treats (pop, sweets, gum, juice, beer), learned to can abundant food (jellies &; pickles), home hair cuts (yikes), no vacation bible school, swim lessons, sports, music lessons, summer camps, trips to the swimming pool, (sigh), no summer vacation (sob, that’s the highlight of our year), no garage sales (Erin’s favorite hobby), no field trips/outings that cost money (darn), no renewing memberships (Costco, adoption & homeschool support groups, science city, etc), no babysitters (good-bye date nights), no coffee shop visits (a weekend favorite). We tried to keep our energy bills minimal by keeping our house cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The combination of an uncomfortable house and of not having creature comforts made it awkward having friends over and made us feel less hospitable. We calculated the cost to travel (using $.42/mile to include gas & wear/tear) and were amazed how quickly it adds up - a round-trip to the suburbs can quickly add up to $20. We only traveled to see our family when something big was happening this year. Needless to say, it would be easy to get depressed if you didn’t see an end to it. Our situation is different - yet we still had these feelings occasionally.

Poverty is not just about money. We began learning about poverty by reading A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne. She defines poverty as a lack of resources: relational, spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, financial, etc. We experienced financial poverty only; had we been lacking other resources, it would have been a very tough year for us.

Through the year we’ve been trying to be with the poor, to the extent we can by working among the poor at soup kitchens and food pantries, attending discussion groups, learning from those who work directly with the poor, and talking to people on the street that ask for money. It helped soften our hearts, wash away our quick judgments, and recognize that these people are human and like all of us, they have a life story. Our Catholic Worker friends introduced us to the term, “personalism” – which loosely means to make society’s problems your problems or to take on, in some personal way, someone else’s problem and help them work it out – to help work for justice.

Our experience was just an attempt to understand. It’s impossible to replicate a poverty situation, and we acknowledge that we didn’t and couldn’t come close to fully experiencing it. The year was productive though, and we’re glad that we saw it through. We learned that we can live with less. We realize that we were lucky in that we didn’t have any major issues, medical conditions, accidents or other things happen this year. We also have a greater awareness and appreciation for the resources we do have – our family and upbringing, our education, our values, good health and intellect. Thanks to those of you who inquired about our journey throughout the year. It was a year of growth, learning, understanding, and compassion. If this has sparked your interest, you should try it for 3 months, 6 months, or a year!”

Do you think YOU could do this? I know I COULD, but WOULD I? It would be a great lesson for the kids, and we could sure pay off our house a lot faster if we put the “extra” money toward that instead of fast food and a toasty-warm house in the winter.


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