Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Latest Guilty Pleasure

I love the internet. My latest guilty pleasure is only in existence because of it.

I love Mugs in the News! You can see the latest mug shots, what the person was charged with, and then a link to the story about the criminal. Or should I say "alleged" criminal!

I am not that interested in the really bad crimes, but the silly ones. Like the prostitutes who were advertising on Craig's List. One looks like she has the plague and I wonder if she was doing a lot of business looking like that. And they were charging lots of money!

Plus, it's like driving past the porn shop...I'm half hoping and half frightened that I will recognize someone!

Check it out!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Roughing It

My family has made a conscious decision to take a step back from all the technology. We are making strides to become less reliant on technology and closer to living off the grid.

We have (gasp!) decided to let call waiting and caller ID go from our home telephone service!

In an effort to cut costs, I realized that we really don't use the land line very much. But because Jim is in the land line business we are keeping it. (And you should keep yours too!) Mostly we pick up the cordless phone and yell, "toll free call!" and then laugh maniacally as we listen to it continue to ring without answering it. That's our own little protest against the telemarketers of the world.

The first few days without caller ID were unnerving. Each time the phone would ring, we would all stop whatever we were doing and stare at one another like deer in the headlights. No one would move. We held our breath. Only our eyes moved as we desperately looked at someone else for direction.

Luckily, we've moved past this stage. We've learned the hollow buzz sound of the pre-recorded phone call and quickly disconnect. We're learning, "thank you, but I am not interested!" with a quick disconnect. (I like to say it in my Romper Room teacher voice, so the caller knows I am really sincere!)

Aaron is quite amusing because when he answers the phone, he yells, "It's a person!" and hands it off. I want to say, "who else would call, but a person?" But we all know about the computer calls.

Even call waiting is not being missed. If a family member calls home and gets a busy signal, a quick text message solves that. We all are in possession of our cell phones at all moments.

Now we need to work on general telephone etiquette. Aaron has been taking his phone into the bathroom. That's taking it just a little too far...

Happy Talking,
Your Favorite Techno Whore

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Smile

Quick...right now...smile! Smile again!

You think you look goofy sitting at your screen smiling, but I think we all need to smile more.

Don't worry about your teeth...your lips...your wrinkles. Just SMILE! Lots!

At water aerobics there's a woman who reminds me of those 40s movie queens. Bette Davis, mostly. She rarely smiles. I don't know her name or her situation. Once I saw her smile when she thought no one was looking and it was bright and broad and looked so right. When she smiles at me, her lips are pressed together and she looks awkward. I'm guessing she's self-conscious about something. I think she needs to let it go.

I've been on a mission lately to be more positive. This has been part of the Buddha Mom transformation of 2009. At first I consciously made myself smile at people and say "hello." It's now become habit.

I smile at everyone. I say "hello" and "thank you" and "Merry Christmas." I feel lighter on my feet. Happier on my skin. And I think I'm spreading good cheer everywhere I go.

Or people think I'm completely loony and are only responding out of fear!

Actually, I end up in lots of conversations because of this. People want to chat in the check out lines. They want to share something while we wait in the doctor's waiting room. There are stories to be heard everywhere I go. And I want to hear them all.

Go forth and smile! Be friendly!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lessons Learned at the Gym

Just a few of my observations from the past couple of weeks. I have faithfully been going to water aerobics classes! I am a graceful ballerina in the water and quite the athlete! Please, stop laughing!

Thongs...why bother? I've seen girls whip them on and wonder what thongs really do. I think you should just go commando and really go crazy!

Tankinis...bad news while working out. The top goes one way, the bottoms go the other. Body parts are falling out. Plus, it's hard to do an arm and leg exercise at the same time when you're constantly trying to hold everything in place.

Ill-fitting swimsuit...also bad news. See above.

Strapless swimsuit...doubly bad news. Today I saw a boob in the pool. I don't want to see boobs. I do not wear a strapless swimsuit.

I have a new exercise buddy. Nancy introduced herself on Monday and said she was going to use me as inspiration. I'm still not sure how to take that. Am I so pathetic that she is impressed that I am able to move my body at all. Or I am such a graceful ballerina, an aspiring synchronized swimmer, that she wants to be like me?

But being an inspiration is hard! I had to make sure I went this morning because I didn't want to let Nancy down! Then when she was late, I was wondering where the hell she was! I felt obligated to work out as hard as I could, pushing myself constantly, in case she was watching. You know, for inspiration. It's tough being a role model!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is the day we all take time to be thankful for all we have. Honestly, I try to be thankful each and every day for all my blessings. I am a very lucky woman and want God and the Universe to know that I appreciate all I've been given.

Here is my list for 2009...

1. My husband and sons. Sometimes they each drive me mad, but I am so lucky to have them all. Jim is the greatest man ever--and I am not biased at all! My sons are kind and good-hearted. Often people will say they hope my boys appreciate all we've given them. I never think in those terms. I am thankful that they gave me the gift of parenthood. We didn't adopt our children because we were being altruistic. We were being totally and absolutely selfish in wanting to be parents. We just got lucky and got great kids!

2. My animals. All seven of them. Nothing makes me feel absolutely loved and adored than when all the animals run to greet me when I get home.

3. My house and my physical possessions. I live exactly where I want to live. Our community is great, our neighborhood pleasant. My house isn't the biggest, but it's home and that's what counts. I'm pretty sure when people visit that they feel welcome. It's hard not to feel welcome when all the animals are crawling over you to give you a wet and hearty welcome!

4. Health. We are all relatively healthy and sane! My health problems are negligible when compared to some other people.

That's enough of my list. No, it's not complete! I want to hear from you! Tell me what you're thankful for.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Way of the Buddha Mom

We are coming to that time of year when we need to call on our inner selves to channel peacefulness and tranquility into our surroundings. I thought we should have a short course on Buddha Mom-ism.

Remember, I am merely a student of Buddhism myself (I read a few books and visited some websites). I will share my interpretations of Buddhism and how we can apply them to motherhood and fatherhood. I do not have all the answers. Hell, I don't have any answers!

Buddhism asks us to let go of our egos. That means we should not label things as good or bad...they just are. We cannot live our children's lives no matter if we know best. We must take care of the Earth and those creatures who inhabit it (animals and humans and plants and insects).

Let's look at some examples of how to properly channel our Buddha Mom.

Example 1:
Jeremy is in serious danger of failing three classes this semester. Classes he cannot afford to fail. Failing puts him in jeopardy of not graduating on time and for not competing in track in the spring.

I mute the television and calmly say, "Jeremy, do you know I am worried about you?"

He says, "Yes." Note: his voice is not particularly Buddha-filled. He is pretty much labeling me "retarded."

I take a deep breath, "Do you understand that failing these classes means you might not graduate on time?"

"Yeah." Again, no Buddha in his voice.

"I'm concerned that you are going to feel awful in the spring when you can't throw."

"Yeah." He has gone from labeling me as "retarded" to labeling me as barely capable of breathing on my own, much less being capable of forming a coherent thought. I can tell by the snarl that is filling his voice.

I could jump up and slap his lips off (that's Kelly's favorite saying at times and I am stealing it), but I don't. I take a cleansing breath, grounding myself, and say, "I hope you can pull yourself out."

No yelling. No screaming. No slapping. No hysterics on either of our parts.

Of course, we didn't solve the problem either. He is still failing three classes. I am no longer worrying about it because his success or failure isn't feeding my ego. Yeah, sure.

Example 2:
Aaron wants to go play outside, despite the fact that it's 40 degrees and drizzling. I have repeatedly told him no. Yet, he continues to ask.

Aaron: "Can I go outside and play?"

Buddha Mom: "No, it's nasty out."

Two minutes later, we repeat the cycle. And two minutes after that. And another two minutes...

Aaron: "Can I go stand in the yard to see if it's still drizzling?"

Me: "I can see out the window that it's still icky out."

Repeat the above four or five times.

Now my Buddha Mom persona is seriously cracking. I want to tell him to go play in the rain and leave me the hell alone. But I can't do that. I don't want him sick for the weekend. I don't want to give in. After all, I am the parent. I am the stronger one. I cannot cave because what will that show him.

But I am wavering. Seriously, wavering. I wish I had some chocolate. Or brownies. Maybe a cake.

Then the cycle ends.

Aaron: "Can I go watch TV in your room?"

Me: "God, yes. I mean, of course! Make yourself comfortable!"

I don't really like him watching TV in my bed because he messes up the bed. He moves the remotes. He steals my chocolate because he knows where my stash is. The joke's on him though, because I depleted my stash last night!

But he gave me an out and I didn't have to lose my inner peace. It's just slightly shattered at the moment.

As you can see, this whole Buddha Mom thing is still a journey. I don't believe I will achieve perfection, but I could have chosen someone else to emulate. I could have picked Joan Crawford!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mommy's Only Temporarily Deformed, Honey!

I used some of my Lifetime bucks (I got $100 for signing up in October to use for services at the club) to get a facial and pedicure on Thursday. The facial felt so good that I was planning on scheduling my next one very very soon. The pedicure was divine. I felt so pampered...so pleasant...

Until around 4pm. I asked the boys if I was turning red. The looks of horror should have been a clue. From my chest up--because a facial includes your upper chest, arms, face, neck, back, ears, hairline--I was tomato red. Powergirl fuscia. And that was the good part.

I took benadryl immediately after serving dinner to the family. I am such a good, self-sacrificing mother that I was worried about the nutritional state of my family over my own trek into fire skin. I couldn't take the benadryl sooner because it would knock me out. God, I wish it had knocked me out immediately!

By 9pm I was completely deformed. Not only was I red on all bodily surfaces from the chest up, I was also swelling. Swelling like I've never seen myself swell before. My eyes were slits. I didn't have bags under my eyes, I had a full set of hot pink luggage. Yes, I had rolls under my eyes. It was rather unattractive.

Jim offered to take me to the ER, but I said I would tough it out. And take more benadryl.

Jim was off work on Friday, so he took me to the convenient care. I couldn't get into the dermatologist until Monday and my internist didn't have an appointment until late afternoon. The convenient care sounded...well, it sounded convenient!

We sat for three and a half hours in a waiting room filled with sick people. Luckily the lady sitting right next to me just needed an antibiotic for her dermatitis, so she wasn't contagious.

First, the nurse was horrified at the amount of benadryl I was taking. I know that if two pills are good, three have to be better. She said three would make me never wake up. Frankly, as bad as I felt Thursday night the thought of being in some type of short-term coma was welcomed.

Second, the doctor I finally saw was chortling when she came into the room because the same exact thing had happened to her. She apologized for laughing, but that didn't stop her. She kept shaking her head and giggling. I was too weak to even smack her. Her prescription: more benadryl!

Dammit! If I knew I was only going to get benadryl, I would have skipped the visit. When this has happened in the past I've gotten a shot in the butt and a prednisone med pack. Seriously, my eyes were swollen shut. I deserved drugs!

I have quite a colorful (yes, pun intended) history of skin rashes. I have seen the best ER that Pittsburg, Kansas, has to offer. They provided shot and meds. Kelly and I have spent a drive on one of our adventures watching the skin on my arms turn red and dot up because of the sun. I no longer use Bath & Body Works products because of the rash they caused.

All of this has lead to the jokes about muumuus and burkhas. I mean, I can't go in the sun because I get a rash. I can take a shower because I get a rash. I can't eat spicy food because I get a rash. I am destined to wear the burkha and eat oatmeal for the rest of my life!

I am pretty much recovered now. I went back into the pool yesterday and nothing burned. I got my hair cut today and opted only for high lights. Hair dye would probably cause my scalp to bubble and cause baldness.

I just can't win! Thank God I find the humor in everything or this really might send me over the cliff!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cleaning

Do you want to know what I consider the absolute worst part about housecleaning? Cleaning the cleaning implements.

Today, I had to delay my load of laundry because I had to clean the laundry detergent bottle and clean the actual washer. Wouldn't you think an appliance called a "washer" could some how clean itself?! We've been buying laundry detergent in a big bottle and pouring it into a smaller bottle. And the smaller bottle is just coated with dried up soap. I think Jim has aiming problems...

Some days it seems I'm spending more time cleaning the cleaners than I am actually cleaning.

I just finished vacuuming and really should dust the vacuum cleaner. It looks awful. Every few months I have to slap all the various filters on the fence or sidewalk outside to get all the dust and gook out of it. That's a real pleasant task when someone has managed to vacuum over something wet--I'm not mentioning names, but I have some idea who does that.

Dr. Oz says the best way to clean your kitchen of evil food germs (think e. coli and other pretty bacteria) is with a spray bottle filled with half vinegar and half water. I've been using vinegar and baking soda for years to clean my stove top--that hint was from the Queen of Clean.

Kelly reminded me last week that you can use vodka as a cleanser. I came home and used it to clean off my remote, the mouth and keyboard. It was cheap vodka and smelled like rubbing alcohol when I poured it on to the paper towel!

If I was a drinker and liked vodka, that would be perfect! I could carry the bottle around, take a swig, clean something, swig, clean, repeat! But I'd have to invest in a better class of vodka!

Come on, share some cleaning tips with us!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gym Membership...Week 1

It's official, I have belonged to the gym for over 1 week. I have attended six water aerobics classes since I joined.

And I have no urge to quit yet! I actually am wondering, though, if water aerobics actually counts as exercise because I love it so much.

Hey, am I feeling an endorphin rush?! Is this that elusive feeling that I've failed to identify in the past?

I know water aerobics has made my muscles sore. So I'm guessing it does work.

But in the water I feel no pain...no struggle. I feel graceful and light on my feet.

Using the ladies' locker room has also been an eye-opener. First, I saw what boobs look like when you're young. OK, ladies, remember when your nipples pointed forward instead of downward? Yes, I have witnessed a set of these on a "regular" woman. It's been awhile and I had forgotten!

Second, I have seen what a "regular" aging body looks like. It has been ages since I've used a locker room. At my old clubs, I worked out and left to shower at home. I never saw an unclothed or partially unclothed woman at all. So it's been nice to see cellulite and saddle bags. Not everyone looks like a Victoria's Secret model under their clothes! They have sagging and bagging and look pretty good dressed.

Third, I have seen what makeup can do for some women. I've seen a blah looking woman sans makeup transform into a goddess with it. It almost makes me want to start wearing makeup on a regular basis!

I'm pleasantly tired from this morning's session of water aerobics. Maybe I'll go take a nap...

Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm Movin' On Up!

I'm telling my family tonight that I am moving out. I am taking up residence at my new health club.

Because I have much joint pain from my autoimmune disease, I can't walk on the treadmill. Heck, I can't even take a casual walk around my neighborhood on a gorgeous fall morning without hurting for days. I have decided that the answer is water. I can walk in water. I can do water aerobics.

Thus began the quest for the perfect health club with a pool. I thought we found it last weekend when we explored Schaumburg Water Works. It's nice. There's the lap pool. A diving pool. A fun, zero-depth pool with a kids' playground and water slides. It was clean and pleasant. Very kid-oriented.

Then I remembered Lifetime Fitness. The club's been in the area for a long time. But it had the reputation of being expensive. I crunched the numbers and it actually comes out pretty even with the other club because the classes are included in the cost. So I joined.

I was completely overwhelmed when I walked into the doors of this huge building. My previous health club experiences have been with Women's Workout World and the local park district club. WWW closed and neither that nor the park district club have a pool. Both were/are nice clubs, but small.

Lifetime is HUGE! The front counter is about the size of the park district fitness room. There's a salon (manicures, pedicures, hair cut and coloring, makeup application, and massages). There's a small restaurant (today I tried the Mango/Pineapple Smoothie) where the calorie and nutritional information are listed for each item.

The second floor is all exercise equipment. The salesperson who gave me the tour told me there are 500 pieces of equipment up there. Rows and rows and rows of treadmills, elliptical machines, stair steppers, weight machines and a free weight area. There are two gleaming studios.

Downstairs there are two basketball courts, racquetball courts, a gigantic climbing wall. The children's center has computers, tvs amd a kid's basketball court.

But it's the magical land also known as the women's locker room that has me considering sending in the change of address card. When I got the tour the woman joked that sometimes moms drop their kids off at the children's center and then go sit in the lounge area for a couple of hours. Instantly, I flashed into the summer months when I want to hide from Aaron and can't. But I could drop him at the children's center...and go to the locker room lounge area and enjoy the leather furniture, big screen tv, and free phone. No dirty clothes lying around. No barking dogs. No fighting kids. No game system cords to trip over.

Frankly, after seeing the lounge area I was in the salesman's pocket. He should have started the tour with that and we would have been done!

Today I took a water aerobics class in the warm water pool. There are two pools. The lap pool (which I guess is cold!) and the zero-depth pool with two water slides. (There is also an outdoor pool with water slides, but seeing as how it's late October, I've not experienced that.)

After the class I returned to the women's locker room (aka Paradise) and said in passing that I was cold. Seriously, I might not have actually spoken the words aloud. Maybe I shivered a little dramatically. Instantly the locker room attendant asked if I would like a warm towel.

A warm towel! Sheesh. I got a warm blanket when they MRIed my brain. I got warm blankets and a warm table when I got a massage. But a warm towel at the gym?! An actual towel that wasn't warm because I just yanked it from the dryer and was folding it?! That was the deciding moment.

I'm moving in.

It's a 24-hour club. There's a restaurant with healthy food. I can sleep in the lounge. Shower in the locker room. Relax in the sauna--I believe I would prefer the wet eucalyptus sauna in the locker room to the dry sauna in the pool area. I won't go into a public hot tub/jacuzzi no matter how many times the salesman assured me they were completely drained and cleaned. I worked at the Y...I saw how dirty and gross a hot tub can get. I sometimes get a rash from toothpaste! Can you imagine what I'd get a hot tub?! ugh

I'll still visit my family. And we could always get a family membership so they could visit me.

But seeing as how I am still living on Norman (Bates) Lane (in honor of Halloween, of course!) I think I'll go find a towel for tomorrow. Too bad it won't still be warm by the time I need it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Let's Talk Food...Cupboard Soup

Ever have those nights where you need something for dinner, but not much? It happened Friday after the twins and I had lunch with Jim at Gino's East pizza. We were stuffed after lunch and didn't want or need a full dinner. Aaron was eating at a friends, so anything was fair game.

Voila! Cupboard soup was born! I'm calling it that because I had everything in my cupboard. Oh, and some in the freezer!

3 cans beef broth
1 large can diced tomatoes seasoned with sea salt
1 can dark kidney beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen green beans
1 cup baby carrots
4 cups water
4 beef bouillon cubes
1.2 pound tri-colored bow-tie pasta

Toss everything except the pasta into a large soup pot and cook on high until it boils. Reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately an hour. Raise cooking temperature to bring soup back to a rolling boil and add pasta. Cook until tender.

This would be great with a nice, crusty bread. I think it would also be a great way to use up those little bits of left over vegetables we have sometimes.

If you try this, let me know what you think!

(I just made a ham glaze with Catalina dressing, brown sugar, and diet cranberry Sierra Mist. I'll let you know how it works out!)

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Evil Scarf Revealed...
















it's to pretty to keep calling it evil! But it sure was a bitch to knit!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Knitting Knightmares

I am being defeated by hand-dyed silk ribbon and seed beads. Seriously, I thought I was stronger than this, but I am seriously mistaken. I've survived divorce, death, teenage twins (well, so far!), a precocious 10-year old, and it will be the hand-dyed silk ribbon and seed beads that finally get me!

Arrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

This all started about a month ago, the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Kelly and I detour to Richmond, Illinois, on our way to Lake Geneva. We are set on making one last try at this elusive yarn shop. It's been closed on all of the many other times we've gone there. I have, on more than one occasion, declared Wool, Warp & Wheel and the town of Richmond, dead to me.

But, to my pleasant surprise, the shop is open. It's a warm, cozy shop. There's a dog for petting, a bird for oohing, and an angora rabbit that did nothing for me because it was hiding in it's cage. Beautiful samples are hung and draped everywhere. It's a petter's paradise and I was tactically enthralled at all the different things to touch and caress--samples, yarn, ribbon, roving (that's the fiber for spinning). Yum!

Then my eyes fell upon this half-knit sample of a simple scarf. Oooo! Soft and shiny! The edges are scalloped with beads. The beads run through the length of the scarf. It's gorgeous and it's calling my name. And I buy it.

Let me start by saying that at this point, for my aggravation and pain, it would have been better for me to just buy a finished one. Seriously, even if it cost twice as much finished, it would have been worth the snarling, crying and bad words this scarf has brought out of me.

The hand-dyed silk ribbon is an array of luscious colors: emerald green, lime green, purple, deep blues. The colors meander along the smooth, silk strands. It feels good, it looks good.

It is evil. There. I've said it. I have purchased and am working with evil yarn! It saw me coming, muhahaha-ed to itself and sucked me in.

I started by putting the first hank of seed beads onto the silk. I didn't realize you should first wind the hank of yarn around the provided cardboard spool. (Yes, there was a small label suggesting you wind it around the cardboard, but no where was there a Surgeon General's warning that you must wind the silk around the cardboard!)

I start winding. Oops, some beads popped off! There they go rolling across the laminate flooring, under the furniture. Luckily the boys are home and they hop to retrieving the errant beads. I continue winding.

I am still unclear as to how I ended up with a hand-dyed silk ribbon gnarled mess. One minute I was winding, and the next it had all wrapped itself upon itself. Twists and Tangles. Tangles and Twists. I keep working at it. Then I put it aside...I need a break.

I show my tangled mess to Kelly. We sit in The Studio (aka the garage) for over an hour, untangling the yarn. I had to resort to cutting it in places. So the one-piece hank ends up in about 50 pieces. Kelly announces she cannot spend the night and must get home to her family. I think I silently sobbed as I watched her leave.

Jim comes home to me and the snarling ribbon sitting on the chair. Tentatively, he asks what I am making. I know I was a little snarly when I said, "A babushka!" and draped the snarling, evil ribbon yarn over me head. We chuckled. I thought about killing myself to end my misery.

I do get the ribbon untangled that evening and happily start knitting. Knit, knit, slide some beads, knit, knit. Oops! I didn't notice I came to the end of a piece of the once-whole ribbon and some seed beads went flying. Tinkling over the laminate, rolling under the furniture, kids scrambling after it. What fun ribbon and seed bead knitting is!

The scarf of knit in two sections, from end to middle on both pieces. I finish the one end and am slightly concerned that it is very short. I am a short, but rather plump person, so I require more than 24 inches in a scarf. I ignore my feelings of distress and knit on. I transfer the second hand of seed beads to the ribbon. Knit, knit, slide some beads, knit, knit.

I do encounter problems when I come to the ends of pieces, because I have beads where they shouldn't be. I surgically transfer them from ribbon piece to ribbon piece with a floss threader. (Thank you Dr Karas, my beloved dentist for these samples!) It's tedious, but it gets the job done. I only lose a few of the beads. But now when the beads tinkle across the floor no one eagerly jumps up to get them. There are snarls and grumbles from the boys.

I finish knitting the beads on the second half, as just as I suspected, the scarf is nearly Barbie-sized. I decide I will just knit the rest. I contemplate a complicated lace-stitch, slap myself upside the head and knit on.

Yesterday, I finished the second half! It was done! It's gorgeous. If you don't look too closely you will not see the yarn joins. I only have to join the two pieces using a three-needle bind off. I search through my knitting books to find the instructions (the actual instructions that came with the kit are long gone, having been disposed of during a rabid living-room clean up where I assumed all loose papers on the floor were the boys). I finally find it in a Stitch & Bitch Nation book. It looks simple enough.

A half hour later, after dropping and retrieving stitches numerous times, I am tearing my hair out. How could something that looked so simple on paper be so freakin' difficult?! It's got to be the evil, devil-spawn hand-dyed silk ribbon. I put the separate pieces away, yes, with some seed beads flying! I greet Jim, tell the boys what to do for dinner, and go sit in front of my computer and sob.

Yes, two hanks of iridescent seed beads and a hank hand-dyed silk ribbon have reduced me to tears. To sobs. Real tears! Mascara smearing, racoon eye making, red-eye inducing tears. Luckily my family does not notice this because there's no way they would understand why I was crying over knitting a scarf. (Honestly, though, I am a little concerned that I was crying at the desk and no one noticed....are they freakin' blind?!)

I swore when I was done that I was DONE! No more knitting that scarf. I don't care if it cost a great fraction of the grocery budget for a week. I don't care that I have worked on it for a month. I don't care that it's gorgeous (oh, is it gorgeous...and it even feels good!). I just want it gone. Out of here!

And everywhere I go, there are lone seed beads mocking me. In the powder room (which has been swept and scrubbed numerous times in the last week) there's one. On the stairs going up to the second floor, there's one...and another. They are taunting me. Teasing me. I hate the freakin' seed beads!

But during the night I came up with a way to salvage it. I will use a big-eyed needle...and some scrap yarn...I'll lose a few rows, but it'll be worth it! There will be pictures...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Need vs. Want

Experts will tell you that my recent questions of need vs. want are part of this economic down-sizing. That it's a natural result of having to tighten our belts as a nation and reassess where we're going.

I'll tell you I've been doing it for years. When I no longer worked outside the home and became the full-time COO of Kline Industries, I started looking at the things inside our home. I started watching organizing shows. Neat and Clean House are my favorites. I read books. "It's All Too Much" by Peter Walsh is my favorite.

We, as Americans, accumulate too much stuff. We've passed this message on to our children. More is better. New is better. You want something new even though the old thing is fine? Get it! Fill the landfills!

This is why we have become the parents of the Entitled Generation. Kids who don't want to work for anything. Kids who expect things to be handed to them without question. Kids who believe every activity, every sport should be theirs for the asking. Just because.

We didn't live like this when we were kids. You got games and you took care of them. Because no one was going to buy you another game until next Christmas. To my kids, games are disposable. Take care of all the dice in Yahtzee? Why, we can buy another. Lose the hotels and cards for Monopoly? No problem, Target has more!

I don't have any answers. I just want you to think about this. How can you make a difference?

I'm only buying things we need. But that's hard because I'm not sure even I can tell the difference between need and want. We need food, shelter, and clothing. I want crab legs, new curtains, and cool clothes.

I'm trying to use the one in one out rule. When you buy something that you already have, throw out or recycle the existing one. I've been doing this for clothes. New t-shirt? Throw out a stained or torn one I'm keeping "just in case."

I tell my kids that God wants us to be good citizens of the Earth. He wants us to treat people well, and to take care of the Earth. I believe this wholeheartedly. It is our responsibility for our children, grandchildren, and beyond.

I just wish the advertising people weren't so good at their jobs. Or that Ipod would stop making cool devices.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions on minimizing waste and ending our mass consumerism?

Happy Purging!
susie

Friday, September 4, 2009

It lasted over 3 months...




...but I can't take anymore! I'm getting an emergency hair coloring tomorrow morning.

Oh, I tried to be strong. I tried to hold out. I told myself that when it all grew out it would be cool to know what color my hair really is. I told myself that the white--glaringly white!--patch right at my part was cool. I'm being natural! Surely I will have no more odd rashes since I am not adding random chemicals to my body! (Note: the rashes have continued even without hair dye!)

Then I caught sight of myself in the rearview mirror yesterday and went into a full blown, can't catch my breath, I think I'm gonna pass out panic attack. I look hideous!

It doesn't help that my bangs are an odd length. Since my hair is really curly (who knew this little fact?!) the bangs are curling up like Little Bo Peep hair. And my hair is dull. The golden brown of my youth (hey, I have clippings!) is gone. (It probably went with my youth. If anyone knows where they are, send them back!)

I decided to let Jim be the deciding factor. If he thought I was looking alright, I would leave it as is. Go au naturale...

Today at lunch I brought it up...

Me: What do you think of my hair? Should I go back to col...
Jim: Yes. Please. (He didn't even let me complete the question!)

I made the appointment immediately. Ha! You think I'm joking. He went to the restroom, I paid the check, and immediately called Carole my hair goddess. I've trusted her with my hair for years now. She's never steered me wrong. She just laughed and said she was waiting for me to change my mind. She has openings tomorrow.

Disaster soon to be averted.

I'm also thinking of changing hair styles--again. I never have the same one for very long. Let me know which one you like. I'll let you know which one I choose after tomorrow!

Run your fingers through your hair for me!
Susie

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Greatest Invention Ever

Some of you are expecting to name an electronic device. After all, I am a techno-whore. While I do admire the Apple people (the Ipod is genius!) and all the computer geeks that have allowed us all to get techno, I have a much older and simpler item to name as The Greatest Invention Ever...

Campbells's Cream Soups!

These soups have saved many a dinner time dilemma in my house. They are versatile. Flavorful. Quick. Convenient. I am not taking credit for any of these recipes. I'm sure I saw them somewhere and just did my best to replicate when I've read without actually following a recipe.

Tonight I am making
Taco Chicken Spaghetti
2 cans nacho cheese soup
2 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cans rotel tomatoes
1 cup of sour cream
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 lb. chicken tenders
2 lb. spaghetti or other pasta, cooked (I find it easier to break the spaghetti before I cook it)
Saute the chicken tenders in olive oil. Shred.
Combine all other ingredients (except pasta) until thoroughly mixed. Add chicken. Then add spaghetti in batches to make sure every thing gets mixed.
Toss into a casserole dish and cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
You can also add shredded cheese to the top before you bake it.

My family loves this! Of course, for smaller groups you can halve everything. Sometimes I even use the soup/tomato/taco mix for a nacho dip. Throw it all into a crock pot and it's great with chips for a party.

Another favorite here is the Quick Chicken Divan. I found it on the All-Recipes app on my ipod. I double it for my family, so here's my recipe.
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup mayo
2 packages of frozen broccoli
1 lb. chicken tenders
2 cups shredded cheddar
I saute the chicken tenders. Later the cooked chicken and broccoli in the bottom of a casserole dish. Mix all other ingredients together and pour over the top. Sprinkle on shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Serve over noodles or rice.
This gets broccoli eaten with no complaints.

Last week I even resorted to tuna casserole! Yes, that old stand-by I hated growing up! Do you need a recipe? Here's mine for my big eaters.
2 big cans tuna (I had to use one tuna and one chicken because some tuna disappeared)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 bags egg noodles, cooked
Mix everything together, toss with noodles and bake in 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. (Usually my time is determined by how quickly Jim gets home from work!) I think this would even be better with some peas added.
See, how can I survive without cream soups?! Seriously, you can keep some cans in the cupboard and throw anything together for a meal. Do you have any favorites? Send them in!

Bon Appetit!
Susie

Friday, August 28, 2009

Schizo Reading

Is it just me, or does reading a woman's magazine make your head spin? Does it make you feel confused? Do you find yourself questioning reality?

I love magazines. The articles are short. Magazines are portable. You can set one down and pick it up days later and start where you left off.

Lately, however, I have been questioning the content of so-called women's magazines. Family Circle. Woman's Day. To name a few.

Maybe it's after reading Men's Health that I have grown discontented with this particular genre of reading material.

You pick up a woman's magazine and start reading. You come across an article on how you can lose weight by not dieting. Just giving up and letting nature take its course. Following that is a special diet designed just for the readers of the magazine--the only way to lose weight and keep it off! Further on, there are recipes for nutritious meat-free meals. Then come the decadent dessert recipes--with the "you'll never be able to eat just one!" message across the top.

In a short span of time you are told dieting doesn't work. Just in case they do work, try this ultimate diet. (But don't get to used to it, because the real diet that really works always comes in the next issue.) Here are some low-fat, low-cal recipes to get you started. When you get so freakin' frustrated that you can't take it any longer, they have recipes for the binge.

This seems to be the message of all women's magazines. Is their goal to confuse us? Because we never quiet get a straight answer, we have to buy the new magazine when it hits the stands because it might hold the answer?

I started reading Men's Health because Jim reads it. It has such great advice. I never feel like I don't know which was is up. They write about sex. Politics. There are great recipes. Need a workout routine, they have it.

I test-drove Women's Health and was sorely disappointed. Obviously the editors of Men's Health had nothing to do with their magazine. Because the schizo editors were there in full force.

Is the answer to stop reading magazines? I mean, they do have some great recipes.

What do you think?
Susie

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Suzy Homemaker Takes on Canning

I am in the midst of canning my own salsa. We have so many tomatoes (and they are so big, but I will save commenting on them in a later post where I voice my concerns that we are living on radioactive land, a la Gilligan's Island) so I am doing something fiscally responsible with them. I read somewhere that in this recession people are getting closer to their roots.

I took Aaron out to pick some of the tomatoes. I thought he would get a kick out of it because he's always been interested in growing things.

"C'mon," I say, pulling his eyes away from some stupid television show, "let's go pick some tomatoes from the garden!" This is, of course, spoken in my happy mother channeling the Romper Room Lady voice.

"Why?" he groans, "This is the worst day ever."

I resist smacking him. "I thought you would think this is cool! These are tomatoes we've grown ourselves!" Yes, still Romper Room Lady.

We walk the 15 feet to the garden (that's the back corner of the "back forty") and I point out the red tomatoes we need to pick.

"Are there thorns? I really hate thorns." He's sounding a little panicked as he catches site of the mutant rose bush that shares the tomato garden.

At this point you might think he's overreacting, but this rose bush is frightening! It has thorns on every single millimeter of stem from ground to tip of the branches. Some are huge and some are almost cactus-like. No matter what, it's scary!

I point out how he can go around the rose bush and the tomatoes and get into the corner and reach the ripe ones. He stops to feel every single branch he's going to pass by.

"Is this thorny? What about this one?"

"Those aren't thorns," Romper Room Lady (RRL) says, "the branches are a little furry on the tomato bushes!"

He picks the first one and heaves it into the bowl I'm holding. "Don't throw them!" RRL chirps, "we don't want them bruised!"

(At that point I am completely unaware that the tomatoes will soon be pulverized in the food processor. There's no chunky salsa in Klineville!)

He reaches for another tomato and yells out, "I hate webs as much as I hate thorns!"

"Isn't this fun!?" RRL chirps. "We're really getting close to nature! We're living on the land!"

Aaron rolls his eyes. I resist the urge to smack them back into place because RRL continues to channel through me.

We get done. Aaron has collected about 10 tomatoes. We walk the 15 feet back to the house and Aaron announces he's done and going out to play. Sure, ask for a little work to be done, and out the door they all head!

My idea was to have chunky salsa. But I forgot that the food processor doesn't do chunky very well. So it's liquid salsa. Tomatoes sure are squishy! I don't follow recipes, so I made up my own.

Tomatoes, approximately 15
Onion, 1
Jalapeno peppers (seeded), 7
Garlic, 2 heaping spoon fulls
Cilantro, 4 giant handfuls, washed
Salt
Pepper

The neighbor boy, who is Mexican, declared it good. His only suggestion was that it should be hotter. I'm thinking the longer the salsa sits in a jar, the spicier it will get.

Aaron came back in while I was cleaning up (he's been in and out about 4 times during the making of the salsa; he comes in to watch TV for a few minutes then goes back outside) and RRL asked him, "Isn't that cool that you picked the tomatoes that made this salsa?!"

Another eye roll, he takes a big drink of water, and asks, "Are there any more pop tarts."

Romper Room Lady is still here. I feel so proud of myself! I'm not sure we actually saved any money this way. Just running the dishwasher twice to clean all my dishes is probably the money cipher.

I can't wait to have some chips with my salsa. Jim ran to the store to get some. Oh yeah, that's the third trip to the store: one for our regular grocery shopping, one for the jalapenos and garlic we forget, and now the chips.

Too bad I don't drink or I'd have myself an ice-cold Corona with some lime or a margarita!

Happy Canning!
Susie

PS I have eight pints of salsa! It is incredibly good! Good thing I'm making tacos for dinner so we can eat the stuff that didn't get into the jars!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

21 Days of No Complaining

I've joined a Facebook group and have vowed not to complain for the next 21 days. Just to be clear about what this means, I looked up the definition of the word complain.
  • Main Entry: com·plain
  • Pronunciation: \kəm-ˈplān\
  • Function: intransitive verb
  • Etymology: Middle English compleynen, from Anglo-French compleindre, from Vulgar Latin *complangere, from Latin com- + plangere to lamen
  • Date: 14th century

1 : to express grief, pain, or discontent <complaining about the weather>
2 : to make a formal accusation or charge

com·plain·er noun

com·plain·ing·ly \-ˈplā-niŋ-lē\ adverb

I am interpreting this to mean that I cannot say anything negative. At all.

This is going to take some serious re-framing. Since re-framing is one of my favorite psychological techniques, I am looking forward to this. It's a good thing.

It's also a way to put some Buddhist teachings into practice. My understanding from what I have read (please understand that everyone can interpret it differently!) is that things are things. Events are events. They do not have negative or positive connotations until we label them so. And by labeling things, we are tapping into our egos. Which is not a good thing.

We should be striving to be ego-free.

For example, right now it is raining outside. I would label this a good thing because I love rain and storms. Someone else is labeling it a bad thing because they maybe were looking forward to doing something outdoors. But it's just what it is...rain. An act of nature.

I think all of this is wonderful until I try applying it to parenting. Because I can't begin to imagine how you parent without involving your ego. Maybe that's what I will figure out over the next 21 days!

Are you doing the 21 days of no complaining? How's it working for you? Please share!

Spend some time just being.
Susie

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm Doing Something Wrong Here

Monday night I'm watching TV and see blurb for the upcoming news. There are such things as "mommy bloggers." Yes, moms who write about their families and other very important life-changing events.

Of course, I googled all about it the next day. I find that there is an entire network of these mommy bloggers. From all over. With all tones of blogs.

And they get free stuff to review and recommend to their readers.

No one has offered me anything to review or recommend. Seriously! I have 32 followers and not one of you wants to give me something?! Other than a hard time?

I guess mommy bloggers are the blogs to watch. We've begun reporting on the heartbeat of America.

Tomorrow I'll share my recipe for burrito casserole if it turns out good.

Happy reading!
Susie

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm Going to Do It...I am...Well, Maybe...I Think...

What has me so indecisive these days? To color or not to color. My hair.

I've been coloring it for so long that I've forgotten my real hair color. The only thing I am certain of is that I have a white streak in the front. Pretty much like my birth mother's identical twin sister.

For some reason, this makes me feel closer to the mother I never met. It's a link. Something that we have in common. I'd like to think that if she were alive, we could laugh about it. I could tease her about the legacy she passed to me. She'd laugh. I've heard she had a great sense of humor.

Beyond this connection, I am waffling. I am too young to be so white. Heck, I'm too young to be the mother of nearly-17 year old twins. Or to be married to a man who's turning 52 in October. I'm too young to have graduated from high school 25 years ago!

Jim looks pretty good for being nearly 52 years old. What if people think I am his mother or something equally as horrifying? It's been hard enough when he gets carded at the grocery store for wine samples and I don't.

If I could be guaranteed that I would have some really great white/gray hair I would have no problem with this. There's a lady at my library who is absolutely stunning with her grey hair. She doesn't look old at all. She looks elegant and classy.

I'm afraid I'll just look old and used up. Beaten down by life. Pale and lifeless. Dull. Bored.

Since there are no guarantees, I pretty much have to go with it. It will be an experiment.

It's been almost 12 weeks since I had my hair colored. I opted not to at my last hair appointment. I told myself it was to save money. But I think I was just daring myself to try it.

I did break down and used a rinse a few weeks ago. Within a week, my white hair in front was back to being white. I have no interest in dying my hair every week! I'm not that high maintenance!

I could even cut my hair a little shorter to hurry along this experiment.

I've never been afraid to try anything with my hair before. I mean, it grows back. I've grown out enough haircuts through the ages that I am not happy with.

I'd love to hear from those of you who color and those who don't. What do you think? Want to join me in the pact to let it go? To live free of the dye bottle? To try to be natural?

That's another thing. I've been on an environmental kick lately, and somehow covering my body with chemicals that then get washed into the sewer system just doesn't seem right. If I won't kill a bug, can I really poison one?!

Let me hear from you!
Susie

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fashion Chat

I want to talk about fashion. I can do this because a) I am an AVON beauty advisor!, b) I read magazines, c) I have eyes, and d) check out my picture...wouldn't you trust fashion advice from someone brave enough to wear a pink tiara?!

Ladies, if you have a belly, please don't wear your pants/jeans under said belly. Seriously, you are not a man, who for some reason is able to get away with this. Sure Joe put on fifty or sixty pounds, but he still wears the same size jeans he did in high school! Joe's not really fooling anyone. And neither are you. We can see the roll over the waistband. Especially because you're also wearing a short t-shirt with these ill-fitting jeans. Please, go buy pants that fit. No one will know what size you're wearing, but we will know the difference between fitting and...well, falling out of.

Mother's to be, please see above. If you think you can pull it off, at least do it without self-consciously pulling on your t-shirt waist every two seconds. That only lets us know you are uncomfortable!

Moms, you are not supposed to look like your teen-aged daughters. Sure, Moms today are hotter than ever. But you're not so hot that you can pull off 16...17...or 18. The jig is up when we see your face and see the wrinkles! I started noticing this phenomenon at the high school football games. I would see two women from the back with the same hair, dressed similarly, and when they turned around it was clear they were mother and daughter. Scary! Moms should look a little like moms! Plus, dressing like your teenage daughter is just creepy. Time to grow up!

Frosted hair...obviously lined lips...out of date! Don't do it. Highlights shouldn't take over your main hair color and they shouldn't be brittle beige. If you're looking in the mirror and are reminded of Carol Brady--time for a new hairdresser! Lip liner should match your lips.

Smokers, you look pretty silly driving around with the cigarette hanging out of the corner of your mouth. When you're smoking and using the cell phone while driving next to me on the road, I am scared. 'Nuff said.

Here's one for the young women. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Soon it will be your turn to begin noticing nice skin...on other, younger girls. So get ahead of the game now and moisturize everything. You'll thank me, really! Don't forget your neck and your hands!

I know...I know...I should practice what I preach! I'm just lucky that my pants fit (sweats are so forgiving!), if I do dress like my teenagers it's because we're sharing t-shirts, and I don't have obvious lip liner because I rarely wear makeup in the summer! I mean, it melts off!

Happy Fashion!
Susie

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bikini Bodies

I was in line (notice I said "in" and not "on"--there was no actual, physical line drawn on the floor!) at the grocery store, doing my weekly news catch up--aka, reading the National Enquirer. The cover was all about good and bad bikini bodies. They might actually have used the terms "fit" and "flab." Or maybe I am making that up.

I look at the good bodies. Yes, they are good. Fit, smooth, flat. Magazine worthy. I look at the bad bodies. I think they are OK. Sure, maybe some that should be avoiding bikinis, but nothing needing a burka to enter into public view.

It takes me a minute to realize that the good bodies are late teen and twenty-something women. I didn't know who half of them even are because I am now officially old and out of the entertainment loop.

The bad bodies were women in their forties and fifties who have had babies and actually lived life! They pictured Jerry Hall, who is 53! I just googled her. Lisa Rinna who is 46. Rosie O'Donnell who was wearing a tankini with shorts.

Who, in their right minds, would compare twenty-somethings and fifty-somethings? Talk about apples and oranges, to be cliche!

It's just nonsense. How many women will read the article and start beating themselves up for not looking like the young and nubile? How many will feel even worse about themselves, squelching any urge they had of going to the pool or beach this summer?

I hope women start to think, "yeah...you look good now, but come see me in 25 years!" Maybe I should clip the article (but that would mean actually buying the National Enquirer) and wait for ten or fifteen years and see if any of the good bodies show up as bad.

I think I'm going to the pool!

Happy swimming!
Susie

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Too Much Time on My Hands

Today I am thinking about the Busy People. You all know someone like this or you are this person.

This Busy Person is always telling you how busy they are. They don't have time to do anything because They Are So Busy. They get nothing done because They Are So Busy.

I'm not talking about people with jobs. Yes, these people are busy! Working, coming home and caring for family. That's busy.

But us moms who are at home with school age kids, seriously, we are not that busy. Not so busy that we have to be Busy People.

I used to wonder what I was missing in my life because I am not a Busy Person. I was feeling guilty. Maybe I need more things to do! Maybe I need bigger and better aspirations for myself. I stewed about this for quite awhile.

Then I came to my senses. I think the Busy People are so busy talking about being Busy People that they have no time for anything else. Seriously, when someone gives me an inventory of things they Have to do and then add that they don't have time to even take a shower, I have to wonder.

If you don't have time to take a shower, you've got bigger problems than being a Busy Person. (You are also a Smelly Person and that comes with a whole different set of problems!)

I think Busy People are trying to convince themselves and others that they are Very Important People. Because only the Very Important People could ever be so busy! If they stopped and really thought about it, they would realize that they aren't that important anymore.

Because we are moms and we've taken a backseat. We are the support behind the family unit, but we are no longer the centers of attention. We have husbands who work to support us. Sometimes these husbands are Very Important People at work or in the community. Our children are the ones others want to know about. We've been eclipsed.

And that's how it's supposed to be. This is the path we've chosen and once we make peace with it, we'll feel so much better.

I no longer feel lacking or guilty. I get done what I can and what I don't get done, can wait until tomorrow or even the next day. We have clean clothes and food. The kids get driven where they need to go. The house hasn't been condemned by the health department (yet!). And I manage to shower daily!

Maybe the day will come again when I will be a Very Important Person. I don't think I need to be one though. I'm comfortable in my own skin, doing my own thing. I've recognized my limitations and have embraced them: committee work, no way; reading to the class, you bet; shower every day, of course!; scrubbing the floor every day, no way in hell!

Today's assignment is to think of the things you're doing that you hate just because you need to be a Very Important Person. Then cross them off your list of To Dos. Stop being a Busy Person and enjoy life. Take a lunch. Read a book.

Be Happy in Your Own Skin!
susie

Monday, July 27, 2009

Runaway Mom

Janet picked me up last week for our bingo date and I was ready to go. I was relishing the thought of grown-up company, especially that of my bowling team. I've missed them during our summer hiatus! You spend a few hours with the ladies throughout the school year and it makes a difference without them!

Janet arrives exactly on time. She brought Phil, her 10 year old son, who was waiting here for his dad to pick him up. The dogs are barking, kids are bouncing. The house is in an uproar. You might think it was the unexpected company, but this is the state of my house about 80% of the day.

I ditched the grunge clothes and had on things that matched. And coordinated. I wasn't wearing my Crocs. (I don't care that fashion-istas think they are ugly...they are freakin' comfortable!) I had on (gasp!) makeup and jewelry. I was in full Beauty Advisor persona!

Jim's getting dinner ready. I'm trying to get out of the door. I'm dodging questions, trying to begin a meaningful dialogue with Janet. All while tripping over dogs and kids trying to get to the door.

I did make a stop so Phil could stand next to me and gloat over the fast that he's almost three inches taller than me! Seriously, a soon-to-be fifth grader towers over me. But it was Phil and he's a sweetie, so I didn't mind all that much. Janet's six feet tall, so he has a ways to go before towering over her!

Janet and I make it to the front door. We're out of the door. Her mini van is in sight...and she drops her keys, delaying us slightly.

The next thing I know, Aaron is approaching via the garage. I knew I should have strewn something across the path from the house to the drive way. Anything to delay him! Some broken glass shards? Pieces of glass rods?

Jim's in the garage looking for something. Aaron's on the driveway.

"O'Mom! Can I ask you something?" He never just asks. He always prefaces it with my newly appointed Irish name, O'Mom.

"There's your dad, ask him."

"But, Mom! I want..."

"Your dad is right there...ask him!" I hear the hysteria in my voice getting clearer.

I'm hissing to Janet to get the car open, stat. She's fumbling with the keys. Phil's the same age as Aaron so she knows the relentlessness of the 10-year old boy.

We get into the car and slam the doors. Aaron's at the door, knocking on the window. "O'Mom! Can I ask you something?!"

"There's your dad!" I screech, "Ask him!"

I'm hissing as Janet under my breath, "Drive! Drive away now!"

Now Jim's in the driveway, getting ready to ask me for something. I sing-song to Aaron through the closed window, "Mommy's leaving! I can't hear you! I can't see you! Go ask Daddy!"

Janet slams the van into reverse, we fly out of the driveway. Now I am no longer hissing under my breath, but out loud, "Let's get out of here."

Yes, I've had my get-away car experience. And it was to flee my child.

I didn't look in the rear view mirror. But I am imagining Aaron running after the van as it spun out down the street. When he finally stops, forlorn because he cannot catch the vehicle, his face is covered in soot from the exhaust and smoke from the tires spinning on the pavement.

I get home four hours later and barely walk through the door when Aaron appears. He's wrapped in his blankets. "O'Mom! Can I ask you something?!"

"You're supposed to be in bed! I'll talk to you in the morning!" I run up the stairs and bolt my door shut. "Good night! I love you!"

Twenty-three days until school starts...

Happy Mothering!
susie

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mini Vans, Bowling, Bingo...Oh My!

I swore I would never drive a mini van. I mean I'm way cooler than that! I even joked that I wanted it written into a prenuptial agreement that I would never drive a mini van.

I now drive a mini van. And quite proudly. With vanity plates. It's covered with pro-Obama stickers. I have the magnetic high school logo and a football on it, too.

Driving a mini van became the only logical solution to the ever-growing boys. First, we traded in the Neon when it was just Jeremy and Jermaine. We went everywhere looking for a car that was big enough for them.

Picture us at the car dealer, having the twins sit in the backseat of a car and deciding there and then whether it was the car for us. I finally went on line and found the car with the widest wheel base and largest interior. The Chevy Impala was it. So we got one.

Then we traded in Jim's truck (a Dakota two-door with a back seat). Jermaine joked that it looked like a clown car when the five of us piled out of it.

Final step, a mini van. Again, searched the Internet for large wheel bases and large interiors. I did everything I could to avoid the mini van. I wanted an SUV, any SUV. The mini van won.

Only a few of my friends still gloat.

Three years ago Janet finally wore me down and got me to join her bowling team. I had resisted. Not sure why. Bowling just seemed like the thing not to do...for a cool mom like me.

Although around this time it's becoming clearer...I am not a cool mom!

I am, simply, a mom.

Certainly my kids don't think I'm cool. Jim thinks I'm cool. My friends think I'm OK. I don't care what other moms think.

And so I bowl. And drive to the bowling alley every Tuesday morning in my mini van. With the vanity plates and the bumper stickers. Advertising my sons' high school.

(I've offered them money for the first one to come home with a my-kid-is-an-honor-roll-kid bumper sticker. They asked if one already attached to a bumper would count. I'm not holding my breath.)

Tonight I am going to play bingo. I've begged Jim to stop me if I start talking about square dancing. I'm afraid that's the next step. I'm one shuffle board tournament away from hell!

We're driving to bingo in Janet's mini van. I wonder if she needs some bumper stickers? Maybe we need some good luck trolls...

Wish me luck!
susie

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chubby Babies

I think one of the most beautiful things is an adorable baby, with the chubby cheeks and chubby legs. (And let's be honest, pretty much all babies are adorable!) The kinds of cheeks and legs that beg to be tickle. This chubbiness fades as they get older and leave the toddler stage. Suddenly they aren't babies any more and you know that because all the chubbiness has smoothed out into a more adult-like body.

Imagine my horror when I've heard mothers exalting their baby's thinness!

At the pool this morning I heard a mother proudly announce, "She only weighs 22 pounds and she's over three years old!"

I have been watching this skinny child running around the pool, wanting to feed her a cookie or some ice cream. I have been watching the mother, formulating my theory of parenting based on the mother's appearance. (That's another posting, though!)

I did double check to see if the mother was horrified that her child only weighed 22 pounds. But she looked proud and was pushing her chest out like mothers do when they announce something their children have done to make them proud.

This isn't the first time I've heard a similar conversation. Last spring, I was surrounded by mother-speak in the pediatric dentist's waiting room. The mother from Nashville, with the quite annoying drawl, was telling a soon-to-deliver mother that her youngest daughter was still wearing her clothes that were size 18 months.

"She's been wearing them for months and isn't gaining any weight at all." Again, she was thrusting her chest forward, waiting for the other mothers to tell her how wonderful she was.

Me? I wanted to start tossing Cheetos into the girl's mouth! I wanted to take her to Dairy Queen!

I'm finding this whole thing frightening. Why would you want skinny babies? Why would you be proud that your baby isn't growing?

Are these kids future bulimics and anorexics? Are they eating disorders in the making?

I do believe as parents it is our responsibility to feed our kids healthy foods. I don't let my kids have unlimited soda or snacks. Fruit, eat all you want. Oreos, there's one pack and when it's gone it's gone. (Since I have raised King and Kong, they don't last very long!) We do dessert on weekends, not every night. When I've been concerned about weight with the kids, I buy fewer snacks, more fruit and vegetables.

Maybe I would think of it differently if I was raising girls. I hope not. I'm pretty sure I would never be concerned that my infant or toddler child was thin enough.

I do believe as parents it is our responsibility to raise good citizens. Does it really matter what you look like on the outside if you're kind-hearted and generous? That's the message I want my kids to take away as adults. I think it would be a wonderful world if more mothers felt this way...

Happy Parenting!
susie

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Think My Kids Are Trying to Gaslight Me

Have you ever seen the movie Gaslight? It's old, black and white. A husband tries to drive his wife mad by saying things happen or don't happen. She finally starts questioning her sanity.

Here I am on Day 46 (for those of you who are new, that's the number of days of summer vacation...give or take a few because everything's getting blurry...) and I am convinced my teenagers are trying to drive me mad.

I have discussions with them--OK, I am bitching at them about something!--and they appear to be listening. But they aren't. If they do choose to reply, they do it under their breath. They whisper just loud enough so I can hear it. Then they deny ever saying it.

The other night Jim took Aaron out to play baseball because the twins said Aaron was too little to play hard ball with the big boys. Mere moments after Jim and Aaron walk to the nearby baseball field, they stumble back in the door. Jim's boasting a HUGE bruise on his chin. Aaron hit him with a hit ball. (Jim getting hurt by the big boys is a separate post altogether!)

When the twins come in, I tell them what happened. I point out that Aaron managed to hurt their dad. Jermaine mumbles under his breath, "Yeah, sure."

Jim's telling them he was throwing fast pitches and Aaron was nailing everything. Jermaine whispers once again, "Like you can throw as hard as we do."

Let me explain that the twins' baseball prowess has taken a downward turn since they became track stars. Every time I go to one of their games, I want to groan out loud and yell, "For this I paid $300?!" Instead, I smile and say things to the coaches (Jim's the assistant coach) and other parents, "Boy, they are sure here to have fun!" As there are errors after errors made by the entire team. I wonder if all the parents watching are thinking the same thing!

Seriously, they couldn't have had fun without me paying $300?! There's a ball field a block away. Some of their friends drive. They could be over there every single afternoon playing ball.

But I digress...

After the conversation about baseball and who throws harder, I had to keep questioning myself. Did I really hear Jermaine right? I didn't hear him right. He wouldn't say those things.

Of course he would...he's a teenager.

It hits me the next morning in the shower that I did hear him right. I am not deaf. I am in my 40s...not my 80s. I don't need a hearing aid! I need respect! I heard everything he said.

Unfortunately, I can't smack the crap out of him the next morning! (You don't have to point out that I can't smack him because I can't reach! I already know that!)

The twins do this a lot. In the middle of some conflict, they mutter things. Just low enough so I don't have to respond. Just low enough so I question what I heard. But not loud enough that I can react at that very moment because I am not sure I heard them right!

So my new resolution is to stop doubting myself. I am right. I am the mother! I will react to what I hear. Sure, I'll get it wrong a few times. But for those times I get it right...watch out, boys! There's no Gaslight-ing Mama!

Happy Monday!
susie

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Migraines: The Summer Connection

I'm beginning to notice a correlation between the increasing frequency of my migraines and summer vacation! Moms, start tracking yours so we can report on this in some obscure medical journal.

I was migraine-free for quite a long time. If I was a serious record-keeper I would probably find that I had none during the school year. Well, maybe one or two during Christmas break. Unfortunately, the migraines have made a recent reappearance.

Eye throbbing, skull wracking headaches. The kind that can only be cured with bed rest. Or a tropical vacation sans kids!

Yesterday Aaron asks, "what is autopilot?" I carefully explain it, going into some detail. A heart beat after I finish, he says, "what is autopilot?"

Except he never just asks a question. It's always, "Oh Mom, can I ask you something?" (Jim's quite amused that I am so obviously Irish!) I always reply, "You can ask me anything." I miss the days when he asked, "Can I talk to you something?"

Repeat the above scenario eight...ten...one hundred times per day. And the migraine begins...

Jeremy and Jermaine are having one heck of a summer. Jeremy is at least attending summer school from 7am till noon each day. I do have to get up to drive him and am not happy about it! Jermaine, however, is sleeping until it's time for track practice and then pretty much gone for the rest of the day. He comes home in time for dinner and then runs right back out. Jeremy follows along when he's done with school.

Yesterday I carefully explain that I had a doctor's appointment today and would need them to watch Aaron. I questioned Jeremy when I dropped him off at practice, making sure he had his phone and would answer it.

Because the Wonder Twins screen my calls! I, who pay the bill with the money that Jim makes! I am screened! They have been warned. They have been threatened. Continue to screen my calls and the phones of the bills that I pay with the money that Jim makes will disappear!

Time's ticking by this afternoon. I start calling the twins one half hour before I need to leave. No answer. I keep calling. I'm calling and calling. Alternating between their phones. Getting more and more angry.

I realize that Aaron has to come with me and the headache worsens slightly. We drive past the school to see if they can be spotted. I call Jim and bitch. Aaron keeps asking, "where are our brothers?" (Aaron is pronoun challenged.)

Headache worsening.

My cell phone goes dead because I keep forgetting to charge it. I get the car charger plugged in and there's a call from Jeremy's phone with an undecipherable voice mail! I call back, demanding to know where they are. Giggle. Giggle. "In front of school."

"Well, start walking because I am on the way to the doctor for the appointment you were to watch Aaron during." So the teenage athletes have to walk! Gasp! It's less that one and a half miles from the school to our house--I know this because buses won't pick up my kids because we fall within the magic one and a hlf mile margin!

I fume. I get through my doctor's appointment with normal blood pressure (I was more than a little concerned I'd be nearing stroke level). I have blood drawn. I buy Aaron a pop from the machine in the lobby because he's obsessed with vending machines. We go to Target to pick up a prescription (I got something to help me sleep; maybe I should have gotten some valium!).

Headache begins to recede.

Except I am with Aaron in a store! I get my prescription and, let me tell you, this little bottle with its magic pills is calling my name! I agree to buy a donut.

"Can I have three donuts? How about a bag of Starbursts instead? Or some skates? You said I could get some skates. Starbucks has donuts."

"Two donuts," I gasp as the headache begins again.

"I want this donut and this one and this one." He's beginning to spin in the Target food department.

"Two donuts."

"OK, I got my donuts! Can we go buy some skates?"

"No skates."

"Those Starbursts look good. I sure would like some candy."

"Donuts."

We make it up to the cash register and he tries one more time, "Are you sure I can't get skates today?"

"Donuts."

The drive home is made pleasant because Aaron's mouth is full of donuts. If it had been a longer trip I would have sprung for three or maybe even four!

Start dinner. Listen to bickering in the living room. No one offers to help. Create mouth watering dinner: breakfast at night.

We chat about headaches. Guess what, the twins rarely have a headache. Must be because they are too busy giving them to get them!

Now I am writing from bed, hiding from the kids, nursing my migraine.

Thank you, kids!

Summer will end soon!
susie

ps I've confiscated the cell phones. Now how the hell will I know when to pick them up?!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sarah Palin Resigns

I don't want to get into a political discussion about Sarah Palin and her political prowess. I'm sure some of my dear readers are fans. I do, however, want to address a possible reason why she has resigned as governor of Alaska effective at the end of this month.

Sarah's 45 years old. I'm surmising that she's perimenopausal. She is also involved in a position requiring many meetings. Combine these two things alone and she's a woman on the edge.

I'm imagining some conversations she's having with Todd (why do I always think of the Saturday Night Live skit with the Lubner's...poor Mr. Lubner, he was born without a spine!).

She comes home from a long evening meeting. And I know they're long because I was involved in local government (library board) for a short time. The meetings are endless. Often they are repetitive. Seriously, we had some conversations that were word-for-word the same one from the previous month! I'm guessing that serious politics is even more intense.

I like to think Sarah has to take to her bed on these nights like I do. She has a house full of kids, a grand baby, an infant son, a husband who's not around much. Taking to her bed is the obvious conclusion, unless she drinks. Maybe that's what makes your children more bearable at the end of the day!

She's laying in bed with a cool cloth on her forehead. "Todd," she says, "Mr. A. brought up Project A again tonight. It's the fourth fucking month in a row he's brought this up. No one can agree on what should be done. He just won't give up."

"Poor Sarah," says Todd. Maybe he's rubbing her back. But he knows not to say too much because he might get into trouble somehow.

"Ms. B. accused Ms. C. of not doing something right because it wasn't done the way she wanted. If she was so worried about how it got done, she should have chaired the fucking committee. Then she wouldn't have anything to complain about!"

"I know, Sarah," Todd soothes.

"I don't think I can fucking take this anymore, Todd. The kids. You're never here. Two babies in diapers, crying all night. I've been offered a book deal and my own talk show. I should take them. Then I wouldn't have to deal with these morons at these stupid ass meetings. Who invented the meeting? I think it was the devil himself, just to create a little hell on Earth. God knows, nothing productive comes from any board meeting!"

She sits up and starts waving her arms around wildly, "Todd, I was almost vice president of the entire freaking country! Why do I have to worry about Project A and committees? I am cut out for bigger and better things! That's it, I'm resigning. Shit, maybe I'll be president of Russia. Get the boat and take me over there! I'll finish my fucking college degree and show them all! I'll be an oil painter! I'll go on Project Runway or Dancing with the Stars! I'm a star! Dammit, I'm a star!"

I applaud this Sarah! Good for her! I just wish she could have done something to put an end to The Meeting. They should be outlawed. The Surgeon General should declare them a health hazard. The Attorney General should create very stringent rules for meetings: topics can not be repeated verbatim, people not involved in a committee cannot criticize said committee, something productive needs to occur during each meeting beyond discussing your dog's latest medical drama.

Go, Sarah, Go! Go forth and re-invent yourself! Women of a certain age are saluting you!

Happy Saturday!
susie

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Getting Your Kids to Do What You Want

Addendum: I just came across this article...

Yesterday, while watching a television show about notorious females on E!, I started thinking about mothers who can get their kids to do anything. It was the segment on Sante Kimes that got me thinking the most. She's a mother who got her twenty-something year old some to kill and rob for her. When they were finally arrested, the police found 14 notebooks filled with handwritten notes on how to kill one of their victims.

I'm not condoning what they did! But it did make me wonder how she could get her son to do criminal things for her when I can't even get the twins to clean their room! What does she have that I don't?

Seriously, my three boys, in nearly 30 combined years of school, have not filled 14 notebooks with anything. Much less notes on one single subject or plan. I'm not going to count to doodles of manga characters.

I'm reading a book about a mother-daughter bank robbing team (Knockout by Catherine Coulter, pretty good so far). Here's how bank robbing with my sons would go...

Setting: my kitchen table, during dinner...

Me: Tomorrow we're going to ride the bank...
Aaron: Which bank?
Me: The one down the street...
Aaron: Why that one? Why not the other one? What are we going to do after that? How long will it take? Can I get a sucker? Can I have two? Do Jeremy and Jermaine have to come? I don't want to miss Ben Ten...there's a new one coming on...can I tape it?
Me: I don't care.
Aaron: Can we stop at McDonald's on the way? Can I have a shake? Can I have a large shake? Can I have two? Can Jeremy and Jermaine have one?
Me: Shut up! We're going to rob this bank and that's that! (I leave the table, head upstairs, and take to my bed in early evening to recover from the conversation.)

Next day...
Me: Get your brothers up, it's time to go rob the bank...
Aaron: Wake up my brothers? Now?
Me: Yes...
Aaron: Wake up my brothers?
Me: Yes...
Aaron: Where are we going? Can I have a shake? Can I have a large shake? Can I have two? Can Jeremy and Jermaine have one? What are you going to get? You really like that yogurt thingy, you can get that.
Me: Get your brothers.
Finally Jeremy and Jermaine make it downstairs, sometime well after noon.
Me: Who's driving the getaway car?
Jeremy: (shrug)
Jermaine: (shrug)
Me: Fine, we'll work it out when we get there. (drive to the bank)
Me: Jeremy, you drive the getaway car...
Jeremy: I don't have my permit...I lost it...
Me: Damn it, Jeremy! That's the fourth one you've lost. You're paying for it! It's coming out of your allowance! You're going to order it yourself!
Jeremy: (shrug)
Me: Fine...Jermaine you drive...
Jermaine: I don't really want to...I want to go throw the shot and discus (spinning around the parking lot like a 6'5", 280# ballerina)
Aaron: If they don't have to go, I'm not going...can I change the channel? Can I tape this movie that's three-quarters of the way over?
Me: (drive home, go upstairs, take to my bed...)

In my house, it's not even worth planning a trip to the park, much less anything requiring tight planning and plotting! How did Sante Kimes do it? Was she armed and threatening? Was her son scared of her?

Because my kids are a) bigger than me and b) not scared of me in the least. Which would explain why I say, "take out all the trash," get a nod, and find out later nothing was touched. And repeat this same scenario for cleaning the room, vacuuming, dusting...you get the picture!

I really don't want to rob banks with my kids. But I would like to go to the store to buy clothes for them without the attitude, whining, questioning...

If you have secrets for getting your kids to do things, share them, please!

Happy Fourth,
susie


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Passion


Get your mind out of the gutter! (Not that it's an entirely bad place to be...)

Yesterday Kelly and Kelsey came over and we played with our watercolors. It was so energizing. I was buzzed all day and evening. When they left, I kept painting.

I had no goals. Just paint. Playing with the paints, trying to get them to do what I wanted. No intent to sell or gift. Playing for playing's sake.

I've been missing this passion. I used to have it for bead making. After my first bead class I would sit at the torch for hours every day. I couldn't wait to get the torch hooked up every day. I couldn't wait to wake up the next morning to see what was in the kiln.

Recently, that's all been gone. I haven't torched except to teach. I don't get the same energy from making beads. All I feel is disappointment. Disappointment that sales are miserable. That I'm accumulating beads that sit here. I've stopped playing and experimenting.

Aaron and I saw Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (a very fun movie, by the way!) and the message was to do something you love. I got the same message from an art newsletter I get.

And now I am really getting it. I need to stop making beads to sell and concentrate on the simple fun of torching. I need to be excited about my kiln contents. I need to play with my paints.

Just because we're grown ups doesn't mean we can't play. Playing is good. Plus, I'm guessing that passion for something leads to passion for something else, making life more enjoyable all around.

Happy Playing!
susie

Monday, June 29, 2009

Vegas Night...and Day

The neighborhood kids are in my kitchen again. They've been invading my home for days now. Why? Because they are playing poker at my kitchen table.

This winter, Jim, I and the twins played poker on Saturday nights after dinner. Just for an hour or so. It was fun. We laughed. And it was a nice way to spend the cold nights. Since I play once a month (September through May) with some good friends, it's also a way to share one of my favorite things while practicing.

Little did I know that my kids would be spreading the gambling bug throughout the Waterbury subdivision in little ole Roselle.

They're playing for chips. And I have to question their poker savvy when someone says they have "all clovers." Or when they were playing with 51 cards. Or when all blacks were wild.

But they're having fun. I know where they are. Plus, I get to watch the social interactions of the elementary and high school crowds.

There's been fighting. Storming out in anger. Apologies. Whining. Laughing. Teasing. It's fun to see!

Yesterday one little boy stormed out in anger only to return about twenty minutes full of apologies and tattling on the little boy who made him mad. I think he wanted me to do something about it. Maybe talk to the other boy. Maybe assure him that he was right to be mad.

Instead I stared at him in stunned silence. My usual, "stop your whining," "get over it" and "stop your tattling" didn't seem appropriate with a kid who's not mine. Asking if there was any blood involved or a bone sticking out seemed pretty harsh for this only child who must have more caring parents at home. I just smiled and murmured something that I hope came across as reassuring.

Later, I heard the same boy whining to another boy outside. "But you said we could play together! Just you and me! Not you and me and ten other people!" The second boy rides off on his bike, yelling, "I said maybe!"

I think Boy #1 needs to learn to relax. Go with the flow.

After all, that's what we moms have to do, right? Things change from second to second and if we were to remain rigid, we'd snap in two eventually. So we save our real anxiety and angst for the important things--blood and compound fractures. We don't have the fully loaded emotional debit card ready to be depleted over smacks and insults.

Boy kids don't seem to hold grudges. (I can't speak for girl kids.) Yesterday's smacker is now the smacked; the smacked is now the smacker. All they care about at the beginning of the new day is who wants to ride bikes, skateboard, or, in the case of my suburban sons, play poker.

I think I need to stock up some snacks...

Happy Mothering,
susie