Friday, December 26, 2008

The latest in "Bluetooth" technology...

Gingerbread men decorating took a colorful turn last weekend, when the boys got carried away with the blue icing. (And, so it appears,... green.)

What I envisioned for the evening was holiday music on the radio (check), freshly-made gingerbread men (check) and three boys still slightly damp-headed from their showers ready for some wholesome, Norman Rockwell-esque holiday fun (check). Then I realized that giving two 9-year-olds and an (almost) 7-year-old free reign to decorate said gingerbread men AFTER bathing was a completely insane idea. Luckily, a majority of the tinted icing affected only hands and mouths. Hands are always easily re-washed, and the teeth needed brushed before bed anyway. Crisis averted.

We ended up with some fairly, um... shall we say, uniquely decorated cookies. The boys also found it hilarious to actually name each cookie, based on its decoration. Example: the cookie completely covered from its head to toes in icing and then chocolate sundae sprinkles was named, "Brownie." No face. No cute, little buttons down the front. Just solid sprinkles. Whatever. They had a blast doing this, and that's what it was all about. Even Tyler (nearly 17) took part in the fun early on, decorating about five cookies, then retreating to his room to play xBox360. One of his gingerbread men wore sunglasses; another was a cyclops. Hilarious.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Busy, busy, busy...

Nothing hilarious or earth-shattering going on. Unless you count the ice storm that hit last Thursday night, the affects of which are still lingering. There are still several thousand people without power here. We barely had a flicker of the lights, and some people are resorting to shelters or hotels. Yikes. Our only casualty was the van -- now sporting a hefty dent in its roof thanks to a large tree limb. At least it wasn't as bad as I originally thought... at first glance it appeared to have gone through the windshield.

Yesterday, upon getting home from work and relaxing for a few minutes with a good book, my WH (shorthand for "wonderful husband," because "DH" can have some pretty unsavory connections) came to sit down next to me. He gestured toward my ever-growing belly, asking how the baby was doing today. All I could think to say was, "Busy."

This child moves non-stop. I'm sure there are momentary rest periods, but for the most part it feels like he wants out. Now. Which is waaaaaaaaaay too early for my comfort zone. Honestly, sitting at work yesterday, I felt like I had a bag of microwave popcorn under my shirt, with the various pokes, punches and kicks that were visible through the fabric.

I'm not complaining about the little tyke's seemingly high activity level -- just amazed. I hardly remember any of the other babies being so busy in there. Then again, the first two were packed in together, and I spent all my time chasing two 2-yr. olds when I was pregnant with the third. If memory serves, I had barely enough time to notice if my head was on straight most days.

So, with the baby being busy in his own world, it parallels the level of busy-ness we've got going with preparing for Christmas. Shopping is, for the most part, done; I have a few things still on my To Do list, but those should be taken care of today.

If posting doesn't happen again before Thursday, Merry Christmas to anyone who's reading. :) Have a wonderful time with your family and friends, and take a few minutes to remember what the season is all about!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Retraction... Clarification...

I have had a request to clarify something in the last post. The one pertaining to "The Great Toilet Paper Roll Experiment."

So here's the thing. You know the part where I mentioned the new roll was squished into the dispenser? And that Jeff said he'd done it? I need to make it crystal clear to anyone who reads this that he did NOT do that out of laziness. Quite the contrary, in fact. His frustration with the situation made him wedge the roll in there, hoping the five oblivious ones would take the hint. Something like, "Hey, you all DO realize this roll of toilet paper goes HERE, right?"

I commend him on his efforts. :)

And, just for the record, let me just take a moment to say Jeff has done a FANTASTIC job on our kitchen cabinet project. He would kill me if I took and posted a photo of the project so far, since the doors are still a work in progress. The cabinets themselves are up, but the doors are giving him fits and remain in the garage. It's a stain issue. But I love his dedication and perfectionism, and I know everything will come together beautifully.

Better, Honey? :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This is a test,... only a test

OK. So I was going to go all "high tech" and actually upload or download a photo to accompany this entry. However, Jeff opposed the idea, so I will not. But I have to tell the story (sorry, Honey!) so here goes.

A few days ago, the toilet paper in the main bathroom upstairs -- used by the five kids ages 6, 9, 9, 14 and 16) ran out. I noticed no one had ventured the 24 inches outside the bathroom door to the linen closet and reached for a new roll, so I did it. I must've gotten sidetracked, because I set it on the vanity and didn't replace it on the spool. By the end of the day, neither had anyone else who actually USES the bathroom. So, I decided to engage a little experiment. I told Jeff I was going to wait and see how long it took for someone to actually take 5 seconds out of his/her busy schedule to pop the cardboard tube off the spool and put the full roll of tp on. That was, like, Sunday.

Some time in the past few days, someone smooshed the roll of tp and wedged it above the empty cardboard tube. Classy. I pointed it out to Jeff and he admitted he did it. This was the photo I wanted to share with this post. Trust me,... it was worth a thousand words.

This morning, as I was getting ready in our bathroom (which shares a wall with the main bath) I could've sworn I heard the tell-tale "ka-chunk" of the spool being replaced in its holder. I popped my head out the door and asked Jeff is he'd heard that.
"What?" he said.
"I think Kate just put the toilet paper on the spool!" I told him.

The whole thing reminded me of an incentive program at the elementary school. Kids are spotted "doing the right thing," and nominated by teachers for a "Wildcat Award." They are announced in their class at the end of each week, then go on to be recognized in the cafeteria at lunchtime. It's a nice little program that seems to work well. I thought it might be a good idea to start that in the house -- if any of the kids are spotted helping out simply because they see something that needs done (rather than be nagged, um... I mean asked), they will be recognized/rewarded.

Two things I realized from my "experiment:"
1.) How sad is it that I pay such close attention to whether or not the toilet paper is on the spool, not to mention become giddy with joy when it's replaced, and
2.) I'm thinking a few boxes of SweetTarts could be great incentive! :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Crime & Punishment

You know that old saying, "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you"? Yes,... well, I'm feelin' the pain.

Let me rewind a little with some backstory. The three youngest in our family are extremely high-spirited boys. Lovely, smart, funny, energetic boys. They are also competitive boys. And, sometimes, angry boys. When the latter happens (mostly with Jack and Charlie, the two 9-year-olds), I've discovered we're now in the troubled waters of actual physical fighting. But it isn't limited to a little nudge or slap here or there. We're talking full-on mortal combat -- it usually begins with a verbal altercation, followed by chasing. When the chaser catches up with the chasee ... all holy hell breaks loose. We're talking headlocks, clinches, fistfuls of hair being pulled, scratching, etc. It's disgusting and it completely breaks my heart as I see my two precious babies beat each other silly. I used to routinely step in and literally pull them apart, thus stopping the fight. Now, as they are growing stronger and taller, it isn't quite that easy. Case in point: last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. The kids had the day off school, so I was being all Suzie Homemaker and thought I'd scramble eggs for breakfast. In the 45-seconds between leaving them in the den and going to the kitchen to begin cooking some sort of problem erupted. Before I knew what was happening, they had completed one lap around the first floor (the chase, remember?) and ended their parade, literally, at my feet in the kitchen. It was a blur of grunting, punching and tumbling to the floor. I instinctively stepped in, grabbed the first child I could lay my hands on and pulled. Nothing. I pulled harder. Still nothing. At some point, I found a weak spot and managed to get the boys separated. In the process, managed to injure myself. Throughout the day, one of my fingers proceeded to swell and ache. By 10pm, I was convinced it was broken. Nice. See what I get for trying to keep my kids from injuring each other? And being six months pregnant, it now seems a bit more dangerous to put myself between them as they roll around like bear cubs.

Then, like clockwork, we had a similar altercation within the week. I'd had it. Once again, I managed to break up the fight, but I'd had it. I consulted my husband (who happened to be working at the time) on the situation and possible punishments. We came up with a one-day mega grounding: yesterday, when the boys came home from school, one went to their bedroom and the other to the den. There they sat quietly reading for about two hours until dinner. After eating, they were allowed to swap spots, and quietly read for another 45 minutes until we went to church for Advent service. Following our arrival home, they immediately took showers and went to their beds. Any remaining time before lights out (about 30 min.) was spent -- you guessed it -- quietly reading. There was no television, xBox, GameBoys, puzzles, drawing, etc. Just sitting and reading. Granted there may be some parents who feel this is a bit extreme. And there may be others who think it was too "cushy." Whatever. I'm not looking for approval. The point of the matter is that they hated it. These boys are very social creatures, and the constant reminder of their punishment as their younger brother strolled at will about the house, watched SpongeBob Squarepants and even went next door to play with a friend was enough.

The new rule: If you physically fight and hit anyone in any way, shape or form, you WILL be sequestered to the house to do absolutely nothing (except read, if you wish) for a day.

So, going back to the old phrase, how exactly does this hurt me? I hate punishing the kids. Plain and simple. Yes, life would be much easier and pleasant if I didn't have to be handing out punishments for breaches in civil behavior. But, as our much-loved pediatrician pointed out, "Children do not need a friend at this age... they need a parent. You have the rest of their lives to be their friend." It is truly sage advice that I've repeated to myself over and over again, after disciplining one of the kids and hearing them voice their displeasure. I even told the boys last night how much I absolutely hate (and we don't use that word often) punishing them. I told them flat out that I hate it because then we can't go do fun things if they're grounded. (They lost out on "Waffle Cone Wednesday" at TCBY last night because of their punishment.) And if they're in the house serving time, I have to be there to monitor them, unless I'm OK with the child nearest the den sneaking into the pantry to snack at will -- and I'm not OK with that.

Unfortunately, we're repeating the mega-grounding again today. This time it's Jack and Sam. Seems there was a slight problem getting buckled in the car last night, resulting in Sam hitting Jack and Jack returning the favor with a powerful slug to Sam's arm.

Ugh. This Christmas, if we can't have peace on Earth, I'd settle for peace in our house. :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Guilt Money

It's the news on everyone's lips: the recession. Or at least the "official announcement" that came yesterday, telling us the country is, indeed, in a recession. Call me crazy... but I'm pretty sure we all knew that factoid before the economists put their blessing on the news. Since this is the latest buzz, it isn't surprising that the related news articles are everywhere. One in particular caught my eye this morning titled, "Luxury shame: Why even the very rich are cutting back on conspicuous consumption" (by Johnnie L. Roberts, published in the current Newsweek). Intrigued, I read on -- then found myself fuming mad.

The whole article detailed how those with wealth well into the vulgar range are reigning in their spending because they feel a little guilty about said wealth. It began with some multimillionaire who collects high-end properties like Hallmark ornaments. "I collect homes because I enjoy it," he was quoted as saying. This is a man who has just one piece of property valued at $27 million. One property. ONE! And he does this because he enjoys it. The article went on to document (among other specifics) the fact that Lehman Bros. CEO Richard Fuld was raked over the hot coals at a Congressional hearing for his post-bankruptcy half-billion dollar compensation, owning several multi-, multi, MULTI-million dollar estates AND an art collection which was valued at $200 million. The article said all Fuld could muster was "sheepishness," and went on to state he had recently auctioned off $20 million worth of art. Unless I am missing something here, if he auctioned off part of his art collection, didn't that basically just liquidate an asset? I mean, it never said he donated the proceeds to a charity, or some other philanthropic move. So, did he pocket the cash, or what? And then there's AIG, who reportedly treated top-level employees to a $440,000 spa retreat AFTER THE GOVERNMENT BAILED THEM OUT, COSTING THE TAXPAYERS $150 BILLION. Ummm, excuse me. Where's my day at the spa?

Then, in what appeared to be an effort to show how the wealthy are trying to dumb things down and not be as showy, Roberts reported future First Lady Michelle Obama recently appeared on a late night talk show in a "$400 J. Crew ensemble, rather than a designer dress." With all due respect to Mrs. Obama, is that statement supposed to make the rest of us feel better? You've got to be kidding me. No one I know would/could drop $400 on an "ensemble" from J. Crew. Not long ago I was so proud to tell anyone who would listen that I spent a whole $75 dollars on a lot of 13 maternity outfits off eBay -- apparently "going cheap" to some people consists of shelling out $400 at J. Crew. (But for the rest of us who have seen --and choked on--the retail prices of maternity clothes, isn't that a STEAL?!) But I digress...

You know, with Christmas just a little over three weeks away many of us would rather not hear about how the wealthy are feeling guilty about having sooooooo much money. I'd love to say they deserve to feel guilty, when there are countless American families who are in tears trying to figure out how to buy gifts for their kids this year. However, it is not my place to judge. For those elite wealthy who are crying the "too much money" blues, at this point it isn't about the fact that you have all that money, but rather, what are you going to do with it? No matter how they came into the astronomical sums of money in the bank -- earn, gift, steal, etc. -- it is what it is now. You have it, and what you choose to do with it is up to you.

Just don't insult the rest of us by publicly airing how "guilty" you feel.

Monday, December 1, 2008

'Tis the Season... Officially

We got an early "Welcome to December" present yesterday with about an inch of snow on the ground. Despite it falling on November 30, I will take it for December 1, and officially herald in the holiday season. I'm not one of those early birds who readily accepts stores putting up Christmas decorations in mid-October. No way. With the calendar reading December and snow on the ground, I'm ready to begin shopping and assorted holiday planning.

The one thing I will try to tackle early is a New Year's resolution -- which would be to write more often, including blog entries. I have no idea if anyone (besides the three "followers" I have... THANK YOU, JENNY, ETHAN AND LINDY!) regularly reads this blog, but it sure is fun to write. When I write, that is. I've even given the page a little face lift. I like the color scheme much better than the old one... although I haven't yet figured out how the little "tool" icons popped up. Not that I'm opposed to being handy, but the wrench and screwdriver combo doesn't quite keep with my overall theme. (If I can even claim an "overall theme," that is.) Regardless, I like the fresh, new look. Maybe it will entice me back to post more often. :)

We have so much going on this time of year, and in our lives in general. Now we begin thinking of gifts to share with others. True, it's the season of giving to others, but it seems like a necessity to take a few minutes every day and recount the little blessings of the day -- it's like a little gift for yourself. It's a perfect chance to pause and be grateful for every last one of the day's moments. And I am grateful... beyond grateful most days. In fact, I was recently asked, "Are you happy?" At the time, I simply answered "yes," with a smile. The truth of the matter is that I am happier right now in my life than I have ever been... and happier than I ever thought I could be. Happy, content and eager to see what each day will bring -- good and bad. I have a wonderful family (both immediate and extended), and a few really close, true friends with whom I can share the good times, and find love and support during the bad times.

And what a priceless gift that is, too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sickness and Sadness

You know how you find yourself rolling along just fine and dandy ... things are going pretty well, other than the usual day-to-day hiccups. Then... BAM! You get smacked with a bunch of things at once? The kind of things that plant your feet firmly on the ground and bring you back to the reality of life.

There's a nasty flu bug going around, which (knock on wood!) I think we may have avoided. I've been giving the boys their daily vitamin and supplements, followed by a quick prayer that they remember to wash their hands well at school. The cousins have been knocked down by this bug, and Kate came down with it earlier in the week. It is not a virus to be taken lightly -- it will whip your butt if given the chance.

I have been on vigilant Lysol patrol, misting doorknobs, refrigerator door handles, remote controls, the phone, etc. Basically, if it cannot run from me, it gets disinfected. Germs fear me.

I got an email from a childhood friend, Missi, a few days ago with "horrible news" in the subject heading. That's never good. Seems one of our friends, Cory, committed suicide last week. Wow. Talk about reading something that takes the wind out of your sails for a few minutes. Not many details are known yet, but we all set out to notify other friends from high school. Sigh. I sat there, silent for a few minutes letting the news sink in. I felt overwhelming sadness. Then it occurred to me that I'd only seen Cory a total of about three times since we graduated 20 years ago. Two class reunions and a bachelorette party. How was it that I felt such a loss for someone I'd barely seen in two decades? I received a few more emails that night, one from another high school friend. He, unknowingly, answered my question. He wrote that no matter how scattered or removed we are from our hometown and the people there, they are -- and will always be -- part of who we are. He was so right. That town, those people... they helped form the foundation of the people we are today. Maybe we aren't in constant contact with everyone who hung out together in grade school/junior high/high school, but they are part of the fabric of who we've all become and the relationships we have today.

So, in remembering Cory, I will try not to focus on her tragic end. Rather, I will always remember her seemingly never-ending crush on John Hrapek in elementary school; riding the bus with her and Missi to school every day of junior high; being lab partners in sophomore chemistry, where we somehow decided we'd like to run for president/VP some day and came up with the slogan "'88 or '92! We don't care, it's up to you!" (OK, so we were a little off on the age requirement, being that we'd have only been 19 or 23 at the time of election. It was the thought that counted.) I will fondly remember my friend Pam and I being locker neighbors with Cory and Missi our senior year -- it's amazing how much drama and hilarity you can pack into 5-minute passing periods throughout the day. I will also never forget Cory, Missi and myself being the "chatty Bermuda Triangle" in creative writing class. And when we weren't chatting, driving Mr. Pinkerton crazy (in a good way), we would pass notes. They were hilarious. I kept them for many years, based on how re-reading them would make me laugh until I cried. I wonder if I might still have them. I will remember how much fun we had at Missi's bachelorette party in Chicago... and at our 10-year high school reunion.

The last time I saw Cory was a little over a year ago at our 20-year reunion. If she was sad/depressed at that point, I'd have never seen it. She was always laughing. And that's exactly how I want to remember her.

Goodbye, Cory. So many will miss you.
"I left my heart,... In Sam Clam's Disco..."

Friday, November 7, 2008

Just call me Monkey Bread

Well, well, well... look who's putting up another post! And within a week of the last one!

I was driving to work today, categorizing and prioritizing the various things I want/need to accomplish in the near future. (The "near future" being anywhere from this morning until ... ???) Every time I'd think of something and add it to the mental list, another one would pop into my head, weaseling its way in front of the last thing. I started having that feeling of being pulled in every direction -- sort of like Monkey Bread. You know, it's like a big blob of cinnamon rolls, and half the fun of eating it is pulling off individual pieces as you go.

Feeling pulled in a million directions isn't always fun and games. In fact, I've never known it to be ANY fun at all. I mean, it's nice to feel "needed," but when several areas of your life are needing things from you on a daily basis, it can become a bit too much. Two Thanksgivings ago, while driving to my parents house for the feast, I had an epiphany of sorts. As a single-parent then, I felt I needed to focus on things in my life that were important (my kids, extended family, work, etc.) eliminate everything in my life that was taking away from that. I realized that, in 25 years, no one would remember (or care, for that matter) that I served on such-and-such committee, or handled XYZ for some organization. What would matter was the time I spent with my boys... and what kind of relationship we had. Being too stressed out with too many things on my plate made me cranky, and being cranky when dealing with kids is a recipe for disaster.

Now, remarried with a seven- (soon to be eight) person family, there are a whole new list of priorities to order. I guess if I can just remember to keep who and what is important at the forefront of my mind, I should be good to go.

And the only Monkey Bread I'll have to worry about is the batch I want to make for Thanksgiving. :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cleaning before company comes...

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Nor have I been sucked into a giant black hole in the universe. Life just has a way of getting in the way sometimes. Sounds lame, I know... but true. How sad when a person doesn't even have 10 minutes to spare and ramble incessantly about life in general?

I just re-visited a friend's website. I hadn't been there in a while, and wanted to check her blog to see what she's been up to. Reading her update prompted me to dash off a quick email to her and check in. I told her about having started this blog, and gave her the address to come visit. Of course, I admitted I hadn't posted in ages, which was a good nudge to get me here and update things. I likened it to cleaning up before company comes over... so here I am. Sans feather duster, but here I am nonetheless.

Thankfully, all shreds of whatever fever/virus was visiting our home have left the building. At least I hope so. Now, in our post-Halloween sugar buzz, my main objective is to keep the excess sugar from completley depleting everyone's immune systems. I know, I know,... I'm just short of being the ultimate "Candy Nazi." But I'm OK with that. Seriously.

We are gearing up for a mid-month, early Thanksgiving celebration in Chicago with relatives. Actually, a bit north of Chicago in Crystal Lake. (Shout out to Stacy! "HEY!") We are calling it our "Festivus," but will have traditional Thanksgiving all together back in Indiana a couple of weeks later. Honestly, there is no such thing as too much Thanksgiving... or as I lovingly refer to it, "the kickoff of 'Pie Season!'"

The "little one inside" is growing healthier and stronger each day. This fact is perfectly illustrated by the repeated kicks and shoves he's giving to my internal organs. This is especially charming when he targets my bladder. Enough said. After joking with one of my co-workers today... some light griping about the pregnancy ... she asked in all seriousness if I was excited about it. Truthfully, I am. It's just that this came so out of left field, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that in a matter of months, we're going to have another child. Not just another kid to trek around to school and activities, but a newborn who will rely on us for every waking/sleeping need and want for a looooong time. We will be back to square one (Hence the name of this blog; clever, no?) when we were all set to sit back and enjoy the ride with five kids. With the element of surprise as a major factor, I find times when I still can't believe this is happening. Not in an "Oh-my-gosh-Why-me?" kind of way, but in a state of total disbelief that we would be blessed in such an awesome way this late in life. So, yes... I am excited. I would probably be more outwardly excited if I weren't experiencing some of the less glamourous accompaniements of pregnancy, but I digress. (Seriously. You don't want to know.) I will admit... I have two baby outfits hanging in my closet. Six-year-old Sam spotted them on a trip to Sam's Club one day, and begged me to get them. When I am reaching for something near those two outfits, I often stop... take one down and hold it out in front of me. Most times I will hold it under the arms, like holding a baby in it, and I just smile, marveling at how little it is. It won't be long...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Day Off...?

I had a day off work Wednesday, because one of the kiddos was home sick with a fever. It was one of those pesky fevers that would subside with Tylenol, but spike back up when it wore off. Despite feeling crummy, he was a trooper and put up with me pushing fluids on him all day long. We all have our vices. I happen to be a hydration freak. Bless his heart.

So, on my day "off," one might think I lounged on the sofa with the boy, watching movies and interesting shows on The Food Network, on say... ice cream. (Which we did, and now I'm craving ice cream.) Nope. Instead, I waged a full-force attack on the laundry piles haunting my sons' rooms. Then I marched boldly into the 9-year-olds' room, took a deep breath and opened the closet. To say this small space was a disaster is an insult to disasters everywhere. Catastrophic would be more the word. Clearly, they had about three times as many clothes in there than they wear on a daily basis. Where these clothes came from, I have no idea. It's like they were breeding in there. T-shirts, sweatpants, shorts,... ugh. Half of the stuff was partially stacked, the other half gasping for a last breath on the floor. The pregnancy "nesting" phase has kicked in, so I went to work. Picture the Looney Toons Tasmanian Devil cleaning a closet. In about an hour, I had most everything done, with separate piles on the floor for donating, eBay and passing down to their litlte brother. When all was said and done, I stepped back and texted my husband: "You won't BELIEVE how the boys' closet looks now!" I'm sure he'll agree it looks a ton better, but probably had to be there to fully experience the satisfaction and emotion I felt. How sad that a cleaning a closet fills me with such glee.

I did manage to sit down every now and then to rest, and give my legs a break. Just the day before, I discovered to my shock and dismay... varicose veins. In the past two pregnancies, I hadn't experienced even the slightest problem with them. Now, on the fast train to 40, apparently it's time. Waking up one morning and noticing a "bruise" on the back of my leg that looks like someone took to it with a lead pipe was a bit horrifying. The aching pain that has accompanied them is irritating at best. So, I brought basket after basket of laundry to fold and keep Jack company in the family room. We chatted. We watched a Harry Potter movie, and he was so inspired to pick up the last book in the series and begin reading. It was a dreary, rainy day ... and while I know I had a list of assignments to jump on at work ... I'd have rather been nowhere else.

So, yes -- my day "off" managed to morph into a day where I work myself silly at home. So much so, that at 8pm, after getting dinner around and cleaning the kitchen, I cozied up on the sofa with all the boys and found an interesting program on the science channel to watch. Whether it was a result of the day, or the fact that I wasn't charmed by the "rod phenomenon" (study of mysterious "rod shaped" objects caught on photo and tape for decades) I promptly fell asleep, waking at 9pm to get the boys off to their own beds. By that time, they had become enthralled with "Survivorman," and the fact that he fashioned the flame-blower from a hot air balloon into a defense weapon against predators on African plain. (Namely, lions.)

Now THAT'S a good day's work, as well!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Time Flies...

Where in the world has the time gone? My intentions of posting since the last one Oct. 1 have been there ... just kept getting sidetracked, distracted, etc. Go figure.

The two 9-year-olds started hockey recently, adding a practice to their weekly hockey time commitment. Another new element: early morning games. As in 7:45am on Saturday games. As in get-out-of-bed-and-be-in-the-moving-car-by-7am-to-be-at-the-rink-by-7:15-and-getting-dressed games. Good times. As we backed out of the driveway this past Saturday, one of the boys observed, "Hey, it's still dark out." My response? "Well, Sweetheart, get used to it, because you're doing this until the end of February, you know." Apparently my maternal sweetness doesn't kick in until 8am or until I've had my first full cup of coffee -- neither of which had happened at that point. At least I called him "Sweetheart."

In baby news, the little man (a.k.a., "Little Bubby" as his big brothers refer to him) has begun moving and kicking. The outward kicks are still barely detectable, but the shots to my tiny bladder are quite strong. More good times. I realized the other day that I will be 18 weeks along as of this Thursday. Wow. Another case of time passing quickly without really realizing it. Granted, not enough time has passed to completely forget the 6-8 weeks of nausea this little guy gave me... Still, though, it's strange to realize I'm almost halfway through this pregnancy. I met a friend at Starbuck's this past weekend, and as we chatted I noticed a couple come in with their small kids. The father was holding a baby boy, and suddenly it hit me. Oh, my... that's going to be ME in under six months! I just got used to being pregnant -- it somehow escaped my notice that the baby will actually come out at some point.

On a seasonal note, the boys and I hauled out the Halloween decorations the other night. There wasn't a lot in the two orange/black totes (conveniently color-coded for those of us who are organizationally challenged), but enough to give a little spooky spirit to the house. Sam (6) totally captured my heart that night. After dinner, I saw him lacing up his tennis shoes. "Where are you going?" I asked. He looked at me with those huge hazel eyes and looooooooong eyelashes and said very matter-of-factly, "Outside to decorate!" I had to remind him that decorating for Halloween wasn't like when we decorate for Christmas... when anything that doesn't run away from us gets either lights, a bow or a wreath attached to it. He looked a little disappointed for, maybe, five seconds; then he snapped the lid off a tote and began pulling out pumpkins and such. His big find was a headband with antennae topped off with little bats. He thought this was hilarious. So much so, he tried to get the dog to wear it yesterday. FYI, dogs don't necessarily enjoy wearing bat antennae headbands.

Today, we may (depending on the weather, now that fall seems to have returned) head out to an Amish farm to see what we can get -- corn stalks, Indian corn, gourds, mums, etc. I need/want to replace the dead mums on the front porch with something a bit more ... well, live. My first two attempts at owning mums failed because I neglected to water them. It wasn't blatant neglect; I just kept forgetting. I have promised myself that new mums will be dutifully watered and cared for. I know, I know... good luck with that. At least the group of six pumpkins sitting in the corner of the porch are still looking very much alive. I like a no-maintenance decoration.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Call me Grace(-ful)

You know how you sometimes forget small details of a situation until you are forced to either remember or relive them? I didn't see "Become awkward" on my list of things to do today, but realized it must be there when I was momentarily wedged between the door and the wall of a bathroom stall at work.

Good times.

I'll admit, my mid-section is growing. However, I didn't think it was THAT big. Maybe it was just the angle of the situation. Maybe I was simply in too much of a hurry and miscalculated the distance. Whatever the case, I'm sure the surprise and shock registered on my face when -- for just a second or two -- I couldn't budge. In fact, I wouldn't have been any more surprised to open the door and find Publisher's Clearinghouse standing in the ladies' room with balloons and a check for a million dollars made out to yours truly.

I quickly un-wedged myself from the stall and went about my hand-washing business, thankful there hadn't been anyone else around to witness my "proud" moment. That came later, when trying to get out of the car somewhat gracefully after returning from lunch. I believe an ostrich on Rollerblades would have been more graceful than I was. I think the problem lies in the fact that I'm driving a VW Jetta most of the time, and have to actually do some hoisting to get out. With my other two pregnancies, I drove a Jeep Cherokee and Ford Expedition. All I had to do was, basically, open the door, lean over and slide out.

I had forgotten how an ever-expanding belly can knock a person off balance or get in the way at times. I just hope from here on out I remember to at least try and look graceful as I lumber about.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Me first, me first!

It sounds disgustingly selfish -- "me first." Those who know me know my life is a whirlwind and it's rare that I just sit down for the sake of sitting down. My hectic lifestyle caught up with me last week, as I dealt with running a million miles an hour, battling a particularly intense episode of allergies (a new and exciting development as I approach middle age!), and... oh, yes... building a tiny human being. By Friday morning, my head hurt so much I could barely see straight. I took off from work a couple of hours early to try and fix the problem; later, I discovered it had probably been a "caffeine headache," as I hadn't had my daily allotted small soy latte. Saturday, I was up before the sun, to get our oldest to school (marching band competition) and then head downtown for our city's first mini-marathon. I wasn't running (despite a desperate longing to do so), but there to support a friend and her husband. He was running his first mini ever, and raising money for the American Cancer Society. (If anyone wants to see a truly inspirational story, visit and watch the segment titled "Man loses 100 lbs. to run...") Anyway, after cheering on runners for the better part of 90 minutes, I headed home, only to start experiencing noticeable Braxton-Hicks contractions. Nothing will make you sit up and take notice faster than an unexpected contraction when you know darn well you've been burning the candle at both ends. I rested, but still had a weekend full of places to go and things to do around the house. Late Sunday afternoon, after hoisting a full laundry basket upstairs for folding, I realized I had officially reached "overdone" status. I ordered myself to lay on the bed and do absolutely nothing for the rest of the evening except drink lots of water and watch TV.

I realized my standard operating procedure for everyday life had to change. As much as I'd like to think I'm able to handle anything thrown my, I have to admit I have different limits these days. I found myself so busy taking care of everyone and everything else, it apparently slipped my mind that there's a little one inside me who needs me more than anyone else right now. So, this morning, I let myself sleep in an extra hour. I enjoyed an actual breakfast (made by my wonderful husband) rather than grabbing a bagel from the fridge to eat at my desk. I got to work at 9 rather than 8, and the world didn't come to a screeching halt. Amazing.

Taking an extra 60 minutes out of a busy day to focus on myself is still an uneasy concept for me to wrap my arms around. But as disgustingly selfish as it sounds, it was worth every last precious second.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What I should be doing...

Tonight is the big debate, and as I write this, McCain and Obama are still hammering away at each other. Verbally, that is. I was actually looking forward to watching the debate, since I feel so out of touch with this election. I know where my initial gut instinct is leading me, but having a political opinion really needs some backup in this day and age. Simply saying, "I just have a good/bad feeling about so-and-so..." doesn't quite cut it. So, I watched the debate ... at least I started to. Obviously, since I am tip-tap-typing on the computer, my enthusiasm fizzled out somewhere around the time McCain accused Obama of not being able to distinguish between a war "strategy" and... something else. See how I tuned out there?

Have you ever balanced on the brink of preparation and impracticality? Where you think you're doing so well in planning ahead that you end up making a dumb decision? I nearly fell victim to that concept this morning while driving to work, when I passed a garage sale. Out in front was an Exersaucer, and as soon as I spied it I nearly hit the brakes. Then I realized this baby will be born in March, leaving quite a bit of time until he is ready to take on the rigors of the almighty Exersaucer. Considering we have little to no storage at the moment, my moment of preparation nearly had us tripping over a cumbersome plastic toy for the next year. Besides, I've owned Exersaucers before... and anyone else who has had one knows how gunky they can get, even when you are vigilant about cleaning up the drool, spit-up and cracker crumbs. Ick. What I should be doing, is finding my lost self-discipline when it comes to eating healthy. I have fallen prey to "if you crave it, eat it." Thankfully it hasn't been all fast-food choices; but to me, having a once-daily tall soy latte is pretty daring.

Tomorrow is our city's first-ever half marathon. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't green with envy over every last runner in the field. Not that pregnant women can't run. In fact, if memory serves, a British runner (whose name escapes me ... thank you shrinking brain!) won a major race just nine months after giving birth, and plenty of runners continue a scaled-back training schedule well into mid- to late-pregnancy. I, however, after running the 500 Festival Mini Marathon last May, gave myself a few weeks off. Then went to Florida to get married. Then had to prepare to move out of my old house, and close on the sale. Then plan a marriage blessing ceremony/reception. Then, TA-DAA! We found out I was expecting. Then came the weeks and weeks of nausea... Do I have to say my running shoes have had little to talk about in the past several months? It's disgusting, but true. And now, tomorrow morning when I hang out with a friend whose husband is running his first mini, I will have to keep my emotions in check. I will feel the excitement in the air as the runners take their places. My legs will almost ache with longing, and my toes will be wiggling in my shoes. And when the gun goes off, I will feel a surge of my own adrenaline, just as if I'm crossing the line, too. My race now, however, is a long one, spanning the next five months. I've already promised myself as soon as the OB gives me clearance to begin running, it's "GAME ON." Maybe what I should be doing is taking this break as a blessing; a time to prepare and reflect on everything that goes on each day.

Hmmm... wonder if that debate is still on.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back to the square...

Since this blog is titled, "Back to Square One," I guess I should at least address the topic, right? Otherwise, it's like ignoring a really big, orange giraffe in the room. At nearly 15 weeks, I have to say this pregnancy hasn't really come close to being anything like my previous two. My first was with twins. I like to think that says I'm something of an over-achiever or at least a great multi-tasker -- possibly even proof of a hidden talent. ("Hey! I can split an egg!") It's probably more the case of God showing that, along with His almighty power, he also has a really good sense of humor. Despite what people say, my multiple pregnancy wasn't filled with overly exaggeraged symptoms. I had a few waves of nausea and was really tired early on, but that was about it. I felt great, and spent almost an entire summer laying on the sofa in the A/C, watching HGTV. With my second pregnancy, I don't even think I had so much as a hiccup. The only problem was with how low the baby was, and the intense pelvic pain that caused near the end. This pregnancy, however, ... quite different. I'd say the first 10 weeks or so were spent in that area of queasiness where you either want to throw up or die. The problem is that you do neither one. Ick. Our family trip to Florida fell in this time frame. Good times. I managed to hold it together, despite one reeeeeeeeeally close call while grocery shopping at Wal-Mart. Of course, since things were so drastically different, I naturally assumed that meant this baby was drastically different from the others, meaning... a girl. NOPE! Apparently my hidden talent isn't splitting eggs, it's birthing boys. At least I won't be surprised by anything new. I'm used to dealing with the "outdoor plumbing," so to speak.
The big adjustment will be with the other five kids. Jeff and I were quite satisfied with being a family of seven, especially since the youngest, Sam, is six-and-a-half and self-sufficient (for the most part). We liked the idea that we could just pick up and go somewhere without having to lug around diaper bags, toys, a stroller, etc. We also liked the idea of fitting perfectly into the Uplander he bought. Seven people? No problem... seven seats! Now, however, we'll be a family of eight. And while it's a nice, even number (terrific pairings for roller coasters and go-karts) we just can't figure out which older kid is going to have to be bungee corded to the top of the car. Kidding. But we have faced the reality that if we want to go anywhere as a family, we'll be in two cars for the time being.
Personally, the adjustment will have to do with putting my body through another pregnancy (I hope it holds up!), nursing a baby around the clock, keeping up with the other kids and housework, etc. Luckily, in addition to being my best friend, Jeff is an amazing help -- he can run a houseold like no one's business, including cooking. Oh... my... gosh... can he ever cook! ButI digress... with both of us running the house, that leaves precious few minutes to spend together each day. Thankfully, we know how important that time is, and we treasure it so much.
But with all the changes, adjustments and juggling, I can't imagine doing anything differently right now. So, here we are... back to square one with a baby on the way. Remember what I said in the other post about facing these things with a sense of humor? Yeah. We're all about that right now. And you've got a front-row seat... lucky you! :) Sit back and enjoy the ride with us!

Monday, September 22, 2008

09.22.08 -- Welcome, Autumn!

Happy first day of fall! Today marks the beginning of my favorite season. It's all about pumpkins, crunchy leaves and clear, crisp days from here on out!

If you've had a chance to peruse the two posts from my archives, I hope you're laughing and haven't decided to NOT read anymore. I learned a long time ago the key to getting through each day without pulling all my hair out was to laugh about it. If it wasn't funny at the time, give it a day or so, ... or tell a good friend. It'll get funny — or at least bearable. I promise. I am living proof. This is a great opportunity to give a shout of thanks to friends Jenn and Stephanie K. and Stephanie H. for being there either via email or in person to share kids' antics or vent about something until it becomes funny. THANK YOU, LADIES! :)

Last, but certainly not least ... I cannot post this entry without correcting a huge, GLARING error in my inaugural post last week. I was giddy with excitement at the fact I actually completed the task of getting a blog established. For me, this is like finding the cure for malaria or discovering penicillin. I'm technologically educated enough to be dangerous on a computer... as in, I'll likely do something wrong and accidentally wipe out my hard drive. Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I'm not far from it. But I digress... I was so excited to have a blog, and I'd written my little "Welcome!" message. I texted my husband to have him read it and see what he thought. When I received a message back reading, "Hmmm. It's missing something," it hit me immediately. Here I had mentioned all the kids and neglected to mention him by name. It wasn't a snub on purpose ... just me being, well... me. So, JEFF, this is for you. I won't even default to using the ol' "DH" ("dear hubby") in future posts, either, JEFF. You are much more than just a DH. JEFFREY, JEFFREY, JEFFREY... what would I do without you? You are my best friend, wonderful person, terrific dad... the list could go on and on, JEFF.

Are we getting the picture here? :)

Seriously, Jeff is a great guy, and deserved to be mentioned by name from the get-go. Sorry for the omission, Honey. I've learned my lesson.

Another good one from the archives

Poop-a-Palooza ’04 (originally published July 2004)

Summer was just beginning, and I found myself having a wee bit of trouble adjusting to my new schedule—no three-day-a-week-preschool activities to keep my two nearly 5-year-old boys happy and distracted from antagonizing their two-and-a-half year old brother. However, I embraced the thought that I’m perfectly capable of handling just about anything, if I could just find the humor in the situation.
One afternoon, I scheduled a trip to the park for lunch with another mom and her three-year-old twins sons. Turning five little boys loose on the playground is always a good idea.
We arrived at the park, had lunch and proceed to let the boys run wild. About an hour later, one of my twins has a slight "bodily function accident," which sent us packing for home in search of a clean pair of underwear. Both boys were fully toilet-trained by this time, however one had been experiencing a minor setback with his bathroom habits —he would find himself so thoroughly engrossed with playing outdoors that he would neglect paying attention to his "urges." It was our current mini-crisis, and we attempted to deal with it in stride, making it clear that his choice was unacceptable while cushioning his fragile psyche. But I digress…
We got that mess cleaned up (literally) and proceeded with our afternoon. My husband arrived home early from work to do yard work, so the boys and I headed out to the back yard to play. Soon, though, I noticed the “accident prone” son ostracizing himself from our happy little group. This, as I had quickly learned, is one of the tell-tale signs that he's shirking on his bodily responsibilities. I called him on it, and he immediately denied any wrong-doing, then began to cry which made me feel horrible. I mean, here I was, basically calling him a liar; I thought I’d hurt his feelings. However, I quickly discovered this was not quite so — he was crying because I was right.
Another fine mess… so to speak.
We handled that clean-up detail, and trooped back outside to play. My husband, in the meantime, finished the yard work, so I headed inside to get dinner ready. (On that particular evening, we were having "Family Burger"—which is a huge hamburger nestled in an equally huge bun, cut up into wedges for everyone to share. (You might be thinking, "And this is relevant…why…?” but the dinner menu plays into the latter part of this epic.)
So, I was in the kitchen, keeping an eye on the boys outside, when I noticed the two-and-a-half year old acting peculiar—lifting his shirt and trying to pull his shorts down. And it looked like he'd tried to remove his diaper without having removed his shorts. Very bizarre… even by two-and-a-half-year-old standards.
I immediately bolted outside. The last thing I needed was a naked toddler running around the back yard in front of God and everyone. Just as I got out the door, though, the other five-year-old came blazing up to me, "talkingthisfast.” I distinctly heard the word “poop” in his blurry dialogue. I walked out to discover his twin standing under the wooden playset, naked from the waist down, looking too guilty for words. It seems he’d had another "incident" and thought (in, I think, a brilliant manner for a pre-schooler) that he'd ditch the evidence in the grass. Something along the lines of, "Maybe Mom and Dad will just think it's the dog’s."
In trying to avoid losing my mind in front of the entire neighborhood, I ordered all children into the house through clenched teeth. I decided to leave the “evidence” right where it was for the moment, and deal with it after cleaning him up. A few minutes later, my husband came in the house and — not knowing what had just transpired in the back yard — let our rambunctious Yellow Lab, Mosby, outside. This dog — as if led by some kind of bizarre "poop radar" — zeroed in on the offensive material and dive-bombed it, smearing it from his furry doggy chin to his furry doggy chest.
Keep in mind, dinner is stuck in mid-prep stage.
After learning of his inadvertent transgression, my husband felt bad about letting the dog out, and promptly went out front to get the grill going for dinner. I find myself at this point trying to regain my composure, and desperately try to see the lighter side of this debacle.
It became blatantly obvious that I could not leave our poop-smeared dog outside much longer. He was yelping and barking, pleading to be let inside — undoubtedly disrupting our neighbors’ peaceful dinners. I had no choice but to fill a bucket and give him a quick, makeshift sponge bath on the patio. This is the only time he appeared even the slightest bit sheepish about the whole incident. As I cleaned him up, I realized he was still emitting an overwhelmingly strong odor. I removed his collar to discover a majority of the aforementioned poop lodged underneath the collar — sort of a "poop pendant," if you will. Completely grossed out, I made a mental note to buy a new collar.
OK... with a clean dog, I re-entered the house, thoroughly disinfected my hands and tried once more to finish preparing dinner. My husband, by this time, had taken the mega-burger outside to the grill. It wasn’t too long before he reappeared with the cooked burger… in about a half-dozen pieces. This was not his fault, and I had no idea why in the world it disintegrated. At this point, though, I could care less. We could still shove it into the mega-bun and eat it, which we did. About a minute later, however, we realized the middle portion of the burger wasn’t done. I do NOT do pink hamburger. I immediately whipped into a frenzy, snatching away the boys’ dinner plates. They were understandably confused, and probably completely convinced their mother had gone insane, as they watched me fire hot dogs into the microwave like I was standing on the free-throw line.
By now, though, they had lost complete interest in eating dinner—not because of the disgusting chain of events that had taken place, but simply because their attention spans simply couldn’t hold out that long. Instead, they created a moderate level of chaos, which occupied them enough to not notice the dog was systematically swiping hot dogs from their plates. How could he have possibly passed up a rare, self-serving opportunity such as this? He may have been damp and stinky… but certainly nobody’s fool.
Somehow, I finally found the humor in the whole afternoon as I knelt down under the table beside him, to gently dab ketchup from the corner of his mouth.

An oldie... but a goodie!

How Was YOUR Weekend? (originally published June 2007)

Let me begin by saying I hope everyone had lovely weekends, because you are about to embark on a voyage through my own living hell. I've discovered if I share these things with people who understand the tragedies and traumas seem to take on a more humorous slant. It may take a while for my brain to accept it, but it helps the process. So, grab a cup of coffee or snack. Here goes.

The boys and I had a really rocky end of the week. From about Wednesday (when we picked up the new car), it's like we've all been tap-dancing on each others' last nerve. If it isn't Jack and Charlie pummeling each other, it's Sam in their faces instigating problems. Of course, all of these situations do nothing for Mom's mood. In an effort to promote some positive, goodwill between the four of us, I sprang for Dairy Queen after their game Friday night. Saturday dawned with the promise of a new day and new, ice-cream bribed good behavior.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

I spent a majority of the morning cleaning like a crazy person, simply because I'd neglected to keep up with everything late last week. We had a graduation open house to attend @ 3, so around 2, I hopped in the shower so we could get there (reasonably) on time. I am just out of the shower when Sam comes up to tell me "there's something weird going on with my car." Sam's developed this quirky little game lately, where he tells me something is "wrong" then when I go to check it out, he gives me "Ha-ha, gotcha!" So, as neglectful as it sounds... I blew it off. The second time he came up with the same line, I threw on my clothes and ran my dripping-wet head downstairs. I heard him mumble something like, "I'm sorry I broke your window." Then I notice he's on the verge of tears; yet still I run to the garage, telling myself that any minute, he'll give me the "Ha-ha, gotcha!"

Again, I couldn't have been more wrong.

It appears “stone-throwing” was on his agenda for the day. And somehow a stone got thrown waaaaaaaaaaaay too close to the car. And shattered the back windshield. We're not talking a point of impact and cracks radiating out... nope... it's actually shattered into a million little pieces--held together (thankfully) by the safety glass film. Having had a stressful few days already with the boys, I immediately burst into tears and ran back into the house. Sam, seeing me do this, also bursts into tears and runs into the house, not stopping until he reaches his closet where he chooses to hide out for a while. I think I hyperventilated for about a minute-and-a-half before I could finally pull myself together. I found Sam and assured him I still loved him very much, but Mom was very, very upset at the moment. Now we must fast-forward a couple of hours or so to the point at which I allowed the boys back outside (once it w as clear we weren't going to be able to drive anywhere safely). I had given them explicit and specific instructions to stay away from the window, the car in general... they were to leave it all alone. I believe my words were something like, "Don't look at it, don't touch it, don't breathe on it... don't even think about the car. Just stay away." Then I hear a noise that sounds very much like a car door shutting. I heard it a few more times as I headed to the garage, and found young Charlie opening and slamming the back passenger door, in (what I believe to be) an effort to get the shattered window to crumble and fall into the car. Of course, he's performing this fantastic trick for not only his brothers, but two neighbor girls. Amazingly, I ordered him into the house and avoided turning into a screaming banshee. That was around 5 o'clock, and he proceeded to follow me around the house for the next 60 minutes pleading to go back outside and play -- in a variety of formats: whining, crying, shouting, etc. Needless to say, he didn't see so much as a blade of grass the rest of the evening.

So, today, I woke up thinking it's got to get better, right? Do I even need to say it? Sure, what the heck... I couldn't have been more wrong. Yet again.

We dealt with each other marginally well most of the day as I finished some cleaning chores from yesterday (of course, we didn't make it to church since even the lightest rainfall would have wreaked havoc on the car window). Right now, though, as I look around the room, it doesn't even look like I did any cleaning since we were sequestered indoors all day. In desperation, I bought a movie on PayPerView, which kept them quiet and occupied for a while. While I was upstairs putting laundry away, I heard Charlie in the kitchen, and quickly shooed him out since he's developed a nasty habit of trying to steal my beloved diet Cherry Coke. A little while later, I opened the refrigerator only to find a little brown puddle on one of the shelves, which has trickled down to the shelf below and collected in a HUGE puddle under the produce drawers on the bottom. Apparently, Charlie was caught in mid-heist of a DCC, so he put it back in the box. Unfortunately, he'd already started t o open it, and when he put it back in the box (horizontally) it slowly emptied in the fridge. I made him help with the clean up. Good times.

At another point of the afternoon, Jack and Sam got into a scuffle, and Jack stood there repeatedly smacking him. I then asked him if he thought Sam liked being smacked, and asked how he liked it as I repeatedly swatted him on the arm (not hard, naturally, but I'm sure it was annoying). He looks at me and says, "You're abusing me!" My immediate "thought bubble" was "Oh, no you di'int." I very quietly, calmly but sternly informed him he has no place to make that kind of accusation, and he will never utter those words again. Thankfully, he sought me out about five minutes later, and apologized for what he said. I said, "Jack, you know the difference between what I did and abuse, don't you?" He said yes, and was like, "I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry." That's all I need right now.

After dinner, I finally let them outside. The girl from next door was out playing with the granddaughter of a couple across the way. Both girls are about 9 or 10 and very sweet -- and I give them credit for putting up with the boys and their often-obnoxious behavior. About a half-hour later, I see the boys run through the screened-in porch and come in the house. I noticed it was raining, and figured they just had the good sense to get indoors rather than playing in it. Then the doorbell rings. It's the grandmother from across the street. She asked to speak with me outside for a minute, away from the boys. We've gotten to know each other a little bit, and she's very nice, so I wondered what was up. She told me the girls were really upset/crying because one of the boys said something mean to Alexis (who happens to be half African-American)... something along the lines that he "didn't like her because she's got dark skin." I was absolutely mortified. I mean, where the HELL did he come up with that? We talked for a few minutes, and she was so sweet about it; she said she knew he didn't mean it, but it still hurt Alexis' feelings and she thought I'd want to know. I thanked her for telling me, and assured her this was completely unacceptable behavior from the boys. Meanwhile, I hear the boys running around the house, whooping it up and having a grand ol' time while I was standing outside. This, of course, adds to my embarrassment, because now not only do I have a neighborhood-known vandal/juvenile delinquent, but also a pint-sized racist living with me, and they're showing NO remorse for their transgressions. I came back in the house and lined the boys up on the couch. Of course, they're all like, "We didn't do anything!" but when the full story came out, the girls had initiated a "game" where they asked the boys to choose who they liked better of the two. Charlie happened to choose one girl (our neighbor) and the other asked him why he didn't choose her. He answered her with, "I don't know... because you've got dark skin." I think he was just randomly choosing a difference between the girls, who happen to be about the same size and wear glasses. He simply had no idea what kind of statement it made. I mean, the boys have played with both girls a zillion times last summer, and race has never been an issue they even know about. After we were done talking, I marched them across the parking lot so they could apologize to the girls. The grandmother was out there too, and after they mumbled their apologies, I told them all that Charlie didn't mean what he said at all, and that he didn't realize how bad it was to say that.

I wanted to die. I mean... bring on the huge, gaping hole in the earth and swallow me right up. Please.

Somehow I managed to live, and got through the remainder of the evening without another incident. I drowned my sorrows in a bag of popcorn and Diet Cherry Coke after they went to bed. My splitting headache had pretty much gone away, and I headed to bed myself with the Sunday crossword puzzle to relax before passing out from sheer exhaustion.

I forgot to mention, on Saturday (prior to the car incident) as I was knee-deep in laundry downstairs, Jack came down and announced quite matter-of-factly, "Charlie just said 'f**k.'"

After I re-started my heart and picked my jaw up off the floor, we had a lovely conversation, during which I discovered one of their school buddies had been teaching them new and interesting words yet again at recess. Charlie had no idea that not only was this a bad word, it just happened to be the GRANDMOTHER of all bad words. Let’s just say he’s now up to speed on where we stand on dropping the “f-bomb.”

Come to think of it, it's pretty ironic that he made his debut saying the word just hours before I was mentally screaming it after the window was smashed. You know, I’ve often quoted Clark W. Griswold from "Christmas Vacation," following his Christmas Eve tirade against his cheapskate boss, but it's always so appropriate..."Halleluja, holy shit, where's the Tylenol?" This was such an occasion.

The next morning, in an effort to keep my wits about myself, and further learn to take things in stride, I brewed a cup of tea from the Tazo line, called "Calm." The copy on the teabag pouch reads... "A single cup of Tazo Calm has been known to have the same effect as sitting for 45 minutes in a mountain meadow on a sunny day with your shoes off." I’m thinking of asking them to change it to, "A single cup of Tazo Calm has been known to have the same effect as throwing back 16 tequila shots in the middle of the afternoon as a more socially-acceptable alternative to beating your children who have succeeded in shredding your very last workable nerve over a span of several days by fighting, arguing, cursing, causing rampant mass destruction on innocent vehicles and throwing out errant racial slurs to unsuspecting little girls while you wait for a giant hole in the earth to swallow you up and take you away from the misery... with your shoes off."

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Well, hello. If you're reading this, you've made my day. This has been a long time coming, getting a website (or at least a blog) up and running. Who knew it could be so easy?!

This blog, "Back to Square One," was originally supposed to be about being a mom to three energetic young boys: Jack (9), Charlie (9) and Sam (6.5). Then, I got remarried, adding my new husband's two children, (Tyler (16) and Kate (14) to the mix. With five wonderful children, involved in a variety of activities, we thought, "Isn't life grand? Let's enjoy these great kids and their activites!" Then "the stick" turned up with a bright purple "+" and we found ourselves,... you guessed it,... right back at square one. Our son is due in mid-March 2009.

With the aforementioned five children, and one on the way, you can imagine our days are filled with a little bit of everything. I've discovered throughout my near decade of parenting, many chaotic moments and crises are handled well with a good sense of humor. Even if you don't realize it until later. Much later.

My hope is that family and friends -- new friends are always welcome, too! -- will enjoy reading these posts about our lives... as crazy as it all may be.