Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Show Off Moms

We've all had a conversation with THAT mom at one time or another.  The one who can't talk to you like a normal human being because she's so busy telling you how talented and smart and perfect her child is and "don't you think he's amazing?"

This is nothing new.  In every culture in the history of motherhood, there has been this problem.  If Eve had another woman to talk to she would have been over to her house for a visit so she could brag.  "Cain is the BEST farmer in the land.  Have you seen how large his tomatoes were this season? And Abel, well...his sheep are just the fattest and sure to be the most delicious because he is the most talented shepherd that's ever lived!"  

Look, I love the fact that you think your kid is awesome.  You're his mother. I fully expect that you think he's the cats meow. It's only natural and it's a beautiful thing.

But do you have to shove it down my throat so many times? Tell me he's doing great and I will say something like, "he is a wonderful young man.  His future is so bright it burns my eyes and he's lucky to have you because you're an amazing mother." Because chances are, you probably are an amazing mother! But lets leave it at that, shall we? You don't need to re-iterate because then you just start to sound desperate.  And sad.  The reason we moms do this is because we're proud of our children but also, lurking just beneath the surface, we do this because we have a desperate need to affirm ourselves and others, that we are doing a good job.

Lets move on and talk about other things.  Like how Daniel Radcliffe has morphed into a complete hottie.  You know...important stuff.

Don't worry if you've done this.  You're not the only one. We've all done it at one time or another because it's sometimes really hard to gauge how well we're doing and we need someone to be all: "Really? Wow, that is unbelievable, you must be a supermom."  I get it.  I need to hear this to sometimes too.   I think we should all cut to the chase and just start our conversations with a secret super mom handshake and hand each other a flair button that says: "you are the best mom I know."

 Unfortunately, there is a myth out there about how our success as mother's is a reflection of how well (or not so well) our children are doing.

The bad news is that your kid knowing all his letters at 7 months or being able to spell his name at 18 months or being the most talented at soccer or the best artist in school doesn't make you a good mother.  The good news is that your kid being the slowest or the one who's struggling or the clumsiest or least popular doesn't make you a bad mother either.

John Lennon said it best: "All you need is love."  If you want to impress me with your mothering  prowess, don't tell me how great your kid is doing.  Tell me how great you are doing at all those things that reflect your love for him and I will say to you what all of us should be saying to each other: "you are doing such a good job as a mom that you inspire me in my own motherhood and your kids are lucky to have you."

Then we can get to Daniel Radcliffe's rock hard abs.  I bet his mother's so proud!

Monday, January 30, 2012


I took on a volunteer position with one of my kids' schools this year and have been doing a pretty good job (if I say so myself).

Then I got sick.  That was three weeks ago and I'm just now working on getting rid of my second (or is this one my third?) sickness.  I hesitate to say "cold" too loudly because if it hears me, it might come running and lick me on the mouth. Again.

Needless to say, I sort of let my volunteer duties slip a bit.  And boy did I ever hear about it.


No matter.  The frustration of hearing what a crap ass job I'm doing is totally offset by the thousands of dollars that I pull in every year at this VOLUNTEER thing.  For real, instead of going in and doing my duties in a timely fashion, I propped my feet up and counted all of my money instead.

And next time, instead of staying home when I'm dripping, sneezing or vomiting, maybe I will come into the school.  And drip and sneeze and vomit all over the kids.  Because that bulletin board isn't going to decorate itself, people.

All kidding aside, I suppose these situations do give me the opportunity to reflect on how I'm not always patient with others.  And how we would all do well to give each other the benefit of the doubt and even extend some grace from time to time.  We all have bad days and during those times, we're all doing the best we can.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Commercial Cleaning

One of my most dreaded stay-at-home mom duties has to by far be the constant cleaning.  Not because I hate cleaning per se.  In fact, I'm kind of freakishly in love with it.

I get a rush from organizing and I get tingling in my pants through that entire week of the year where I do my spring cleaning and the house is spotless from top to bottom.

No, the problem that I have with cleaning is how nothing ever STAYS clean.  That everyday I have to start at the bottom of the hill and grunt and groan and place that enormously large and burdensome rock on my shoulders and spend hours slowly rolling it upward, spilling my blood, sweat and tears along the way, only to have it roll right back down the hill the very next day.

I'm a modern day (and dare I say, bustier) version of Sisyphus.

That is why some days I throw my hands in the air and say "WHO CARES!"  On days like these I employ two very lazy yet highly effective ways of tidying my house.  They require as little effort as possible while still getting a lot done so as to maintain the illusion that I've been working all day and not rouse suspicions that I spent the day watching the food network (which I did...but don't tell anyone).

#1.  The Commercial Cleaning Method: 
The title of this one is deceiving.  It implies that I hire a commercial cleaning company to come in and do the heavy lifting while I sit and watch TV all day and only slightly raise my legs as they vacuum the carpet between the couch and the ottoman.  But if you thought that you'd be wrong.

No, I don't have enough money to be hiring anyone to do the cleaning around here.  Trust me, if I did, I wouldn't be here blogging between laundry loads- I'd be getting my nails done so that I could get out of the house and let those cleaning people do their business.

My "commercial cleaning" method is where I only clean during television commercials.  That means that during those two or three minute breaks between "House Hunters", I scurry around my house in a frenzy; swiffering and wiping and moving wet clothes from one machine to the other.

DISCLAIMER: There is no way that any deep cleaning can get done with this method.  This is for surface cleaning only. Your house will only give the allusion of being clean and your floors will still be sticky!  You can wipe down counters and pick up toys and make a bed and make things look tidy and neat but this is only to give the appearance that you've been working all day when in reality, you've watched 2 full back-to-back seasons of "Grey's Anatomy."

#2.  The Ten Minute Mile Method:
I will often times walk into a room and see how much needs to be done only to turn right back out and walk away when I realize that I don't have near enough time to complete the work that the room requires.  Problem is, I rarely have so much time on my hands that I could actually finish a room to my complete satisfaction.  Enter the ten minute mile!

I take a timer with me into each room of the house and I set it for ten minutes.  I do as much as possible within that time and when it beeps, whether I'm done or not, I move on to another room.  This means that every room in the house gets some attention every single day.  You'd be surprised how much distance you can cover in the ten minute mile!  On days when I'm especially low on time I do a 5 minute mile, which as you can imagine is much more high paced and requires a maximum level of exertion.

I am always amazed at how much I can accomplish inside of five or ten minutes.  I can make my bed, put all of my clothes in the laundry pile, vacuum the room and sometimes even dust!  I can wipe down the counters in the bathroom and clean a toilet, I can put a load of dishes in the dishwasher and sweep and mop my whole kitchen!

The best part is that I don't feel overwhelmed.  There is no pressure to do everything perfectly which is what so often holds me back.  My house gets a thorough cleaning every day and it only takes me about an hour and a half.

When I combine this with a five minute clean-up done by the three kids and hubby at the end of the day, my house becomes downright nearly spotless! And sometimes it stays that way for up to half an hour...if I'm lucky!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Re-Defining Cool

It’s taken me many years but I’m finally maturing enough to where I'm starting to re-define the meaning of the word "cool."

“Cool” used to be the most liked, the most popular, the most awesome.  It used to be the person with the most friends, the one who everyone wanted to be like.

Just saying the word "cool" conjures up images of someone in a leather jacket with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth that marches to the beat of his own drummer.

It also used to be the people with the great job or the nice house.  It was a superficial kind of cool because having those things brought popularity and with popularity came the perception that they were cool.

But somewhere between the small distance yet light years between age 25 and 35, my definition of cool has transformed.  Cool has become less about how someone looks or what they have and more about their ability to be in this world in an inspiring, amazing kind of way.  It has become less about someone being awesome and more about their being interesting.

And as I get older, I'm learning that the people who are the most interesting, whose company I enjoy the most, come in the most unexpected packages, mostly vintage packaging.  When I was younger, I would have rarely described an older person as "cool" but today, I think that older people are a treasure trove of cool.

If I were to imagine whose company and conversation I'd most enjoy over a lunch meal, it would not be the obvious choice of a woman my own age, whose life mirrors my own.   It would most likely be the 93 year old woman on my Meals On Wheels route named Charlotte.  Because she's freaking awesome. 

Not to say that a relate-able woman my age isn't awesome, it's just that we both bring pretty much the same thing to the table and it's kind of like going to a party where everyone shows up with the same hors d'oeuvres.  There's plenty to eat, it's just not as interesting.

I'm thinking I could learn a great deal from a 93 year old woman.  I want to pick through her brain like you would an old trunk that you had just discovered hidden in an old attic.  It's bound to contain a priceless treasure; something surprising, interesting, amazing and probably totally invaluable.

I want to know how Ms. Charlotte raised children who work hard and love their families and contribute to the world.  I want to know how she and her husband kept their love alive.  I want to know how she dealt with the crushing loneliness and helplessness she felt when her husband died.  I want to know the secret of being confident and calm and inwardly beautiful.  I want her to tell me the secret of living to age 93!

Maybe my fascination with her is because my own mom is gone and I miss having that touchstone that can keep me grounded in reality.  My grandma is gone too and I don't have any older women in my life who can give me advice about becoming a better woman, wife and mother.  I don't have anyone to pat me on the back and tell me I'm on the right track or offer any kind of wisdom if they see me spiraling out of control.  I have so many questions!

There's something cool about listening to people who have the benefit of hindsight.

  We went to dinner with our neighbors the other night, a nice couple in their late 50's, early 60's.  Their stories are fascinating.  Vacations they've taken, experiences they've had.  The husband told us of how he went to the first Beatles concert ever held in the U.S.  Any way you cut it, that's freaking cool!

Their lives are chock full of experiences, funny stories and lessons learned.  Right now, my husband and I are on this roller coaster called parenting in your 30's where we are trying to balance work and kids and marriage.

We're holding on for dear life and while we think that the ride will eventually slow down and that we will survive, it's hard to feel hopeful when you are clutching your seat and trying not to hurl.  Our friends are in the same boat and it's hard to feel comforted by people who look just as terrified as us.

These cool, older people, however;  have been on this ride much longer.  There is something about knowing they have lived to tell the tale.  That they have endured all we are going through and can look us right in the eye and with complete certainty, tell us that we can do it and that everything is going to be okay.  It gives me a great sense of relief!

They know what lies ahead, they've looped around all those scary and treacherous corners and are now confident enough to stop worrying, take in the view around them and enjoy the ride for what it is, a terrifying yet exciting, adrenaline-educing, joy ride that is over much too quickly.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Correction: Progressive Cannot Tell What Kind Of Underwear You're Wearing!

So, this morning I got an email from an editor from a local town who has been featuring my posts on Patch.com and he says he's sorry for not sending this to me sooner but that he received an email from a public relations manager for Progressive Insurance in New York City who had been trying to reach me but was unable to find my contact information.

She was emailing about a blog I had written about Progressive's new Snapshot device that was featured both here on ANTM and on Patch.  She wanted to pragmatically and intelligently point out some of the errors I made in my writing.  She wanted me to know the following:

"There is no way for Progressive to determine any of the following:' how many people are in the car, what kind of underwear (if any) they wear and if they ate too many beans at dinner last night'."

I'm so glad she cleared that up because I've been spending way to much time trying to impress Progressive with my fancy underwear and it will be a relief not to have to keep wearing all those uncomfortable thongs.  Whew!  "They" say that sarcasm doesn't translate well on the internet.  And I'm thinking that "they" are right.

She did note too that customers can start saving money within those first 30 days but that the device needs to be plugged in for 6 months before it's returned to the company.  She's got me there.  She also replied to my statement where I said:

They claim there is no GPS in the device and to this I say two letters: B and S.” 

She noted that the Snapshot device does not contain GPS and that there is no way for Progressive to track you.  I guess I'm going to have to take her word on that.  Along with her statement about customers saving an average of $150 per year.  I have no factual way to dispute that.  So maybe the device doesn't contain an actual GPS but doesn't it still have to be plugged into your car computer?  How else would they be able to monitor your driving?  If your car has an internal GPS system or low jack, could the device not access the information from that? I emailed her with the hopes that she could clarify.

Progressive is in the business of mitigating risk so it's just hard to believe that if they had access to all that data, they would not somehow find a loop hole in which to use it.  And I'm not sure that the possibility of $150 in annual savings is worth the risk.

That being said, I have to give props to Allison + Partners for their thorough work on behalf of Progressive.  After all, I'm just a lowly housewife with a few extra hours to kill and a blog that I thought nobody reads.  And if they can contact me in a polite and informative way and treat their clients' potential customers with respect (which they totally did), it makes me wonder whether Progressive isn't worth another look.

When Mom Isn't Perfect

"When I was little", has become such a great conversation opener for me and my 9 year old.  Most recently its been about her struggles in math class.  I was really bad at math as a kid.  Oh who am I kidding, I still really suck at math. And apparently the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

I told her stories of math tests I took that were so bad, the teacher sent them home to have them signed by my parents.  And since my mother was a grade Nazi, I was terrified to show them to her.  That's how my downward spiral into the seedy world of parent forgery began.

I started by collecting documents like cancelled checks and copies of old apartment leases.  Then I sat and practiced her handwriting. At first, I would put a sheet of white paper over a check and I would trace her signature.  In time, I got better at it and would practice freehand.  I spent hours doing this. Looking back I realize that I could have spent that time studying my math homework and eliminated my problem entirely but at the time, I was desperate.

So I'm telling my daughter all about this and how I conjured up this plan to forge my mom's signature and how the teacher took one look at the signed test, immediately recognized my forgery and called my mom.  Any kid will tell you, having your mom called to the school is the most terrifying experience in the world.  I was forced to admit what I had done.  It was horrible.  I had to re-take the test, I was in trouble with the teacher AND I was in trouble with my parents.  It was a tri-fecta of misery!

My daughter sat at the edge of the bed, riveted.  She couldn't believe what she was hearing and it made her laugh and cringe and ultimately, relate.  She could for a moment, see me not as her mother, telling her to brush her teeth and do her homework but as a person who shared many of her own experiences.

She realized that I understood what it was like to be in her shoes.  I know what it's like to stare at a math problem and not be able to convince your brain to function in a way that will let you solve it and how you just want to shove it aside and not think about it because now you're starting to feel dizzy and overwhelmed.

You'd think that I would be giving her bad ideas, that she'd make a mental note of all of my sins and figure out a way to not only apply them to her own life but add to their treachery.  Instead, this really amazing and wonderful thing happened.  She learned from them.

She came home with a test last night that was so horrific, that when I opened it, I could hear the theme music from the movie "Psycho" playing in the background.  She got a 31...a THIRTY ONE!  And since I know that she's never had a grade that bad and she's been sick and missed two math lessons, I gave her the benefit of the doubt although I did have a few choice words for her!

The miraculous part was that she had been in the same situation  that I was all those years ago; a really bad math grade, a test that needed to go home to be signed by a parent and the terrifying notion of the implications of all of it, and she chose a different path.

She brought it home and presented it with a deep sigh and took a different course than I did, not because she knew she wouldn't get in trouble or that I wouldn't be upset.  She brought it home because she knew that despite my disappointment, she could count on me to understand.  I had been in that same situation and she was counting on my empathy.

The fact that she learned from my lesson and felt secure enough to trust me,  to still love and support her when she fails, is so rewarding.  It's easy for us moms to want to pretend that we are perfect and that we never made mistakes growing up, in the hopes that our daughters will try their best, but not acknowledging and embracing our flaws in front of our daughters can be one of the biggest parenting mistakes we'll ever make.

They must be able to see us for human beings, as girls, as women.  Our mistakes are a history, a legacy that we can pass down to them in the hopes that they will learn from it and do better for themselves.  It's good to let them watch us stumble and fall.  Because hopefully they will also watch us pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and laugh during the whole thing because we don't take ourselves that seriously.  It gives them the permission to be imperfect without feeling guilty for it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

As I was driving home today and crested the hill immediately before the turn to my street, it dawned on me how many times I have made this turn and how familiar it has become.

We've lived in our house for almost eight years now and my body has almost completely memorized the trip and the angle at which our minivan ascends the hill, so much so that it will instinctively brace itself in anticipation of the movement.

My stomach will also anticipate the slight lurch that happens when we pass the top of the hill and immediately go downhill, causing a slight sinking feeling similar to what you feel on a roller coaster.

The movement has become like a dance between me and my minivan.  We have been through these same maneuvers together so often that we cling to each other in anticipation of them to the point where I could probably do it with my eyes closed.

I suppose this serves to remind me how in sync I've become with the rhythm of my life and how comforting those rhythms can be, like a slowly rocking chair that lulls us to the feeling of absolute surrender and rest.

I can't help but think of these things while we consider the possibility of relocation.  Moving brings with it the promise of excitement and opportunity and adventure; of new beginnings and fresh starts.  But at the same time, it seems so terrifying to leave a place that I know so well, whose curves and turns and rises and falls I have become so accustomed.  

It's fun to experience new things and reach new horizons but it's also just as satisfying and wonderful to know what's around every corner.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Dreaded Man Cold

A nasty sickness has been worming it's way through our family, taking us out one by one like some kind of stealthy, paid-for-hire assassin.

I was first. Then my oldest daughter got and it and this weekend my husband got it.  It is a nasty cold but not just any cold, a MAN COLD!

A man cold is similar (on paper) to your run of the mill woman cold, except that in real life it's much more dramatic and whiny.  The urban dictionary says that it's a "debilitating" disease that can be "near fatal" and demands immediate attention.

It causes men to slouch their shoulders and wear a really pathetic looking face complete with a dragging lip that says, "don't you feel sorry for me? You should! I'm in more pain than anyone has ever had in the history of pain!  Remember that large-headed baby you pushed out of your vagina with no pain medicine? That was sunshine and rainbows compared to my runny nose!" *sniff. cough*

I'm trying not to roll my eyes at him.  I really am.  But he is so far off the charts over-dramatic that it's hard to take him seriously.

From what I hear, most men are exactly like this.  They can be the toughest, manliest, strongest men yet they crumble like a house of cards at the onset of a sneeze.

There is this man called Big Dave Gauder who is often called "the world's toughest man."  He can perform amazing feats of strength including the ability to  pull a concord airplane 40 yards down a runway...by himself!  He's tough and strong and practically made of steel yet I would be willing to bet that when he gets a cold, he probably cries like a baby.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We've Missed You At Church

I used to go to a church where every Sunday, an old man would corner me with his wheel chair, frown at me and say, “WHY DIDN’T YOU BRING YOUR HUSBAND?  WHERE IS HE?” 

It always made me feel like I was in trouble and pretty ashamed of myself for it, like I had just been pulled over for driving without my license.  How could I have left the house without him? I should have never taken him out of my wallet!  I’m totally going to get a ticket!

I laughed it off at first, chocking it up to it being an old man thing, like when my old uncle always pokes me in the stomach when he sees me.  I have no idea why he does it, it’s annoying and kind of hurts but I tolerate it because he’s old.  Plus, he always carries a cane and I don’t want to mess with him.

My tactic with this fellow parishioner was to smile and stare down at his orthopedic shoes, lest I make eye contact and be held hostage for the next few hours while he rambles on about a car he owned back in 1963. 

 I didn’t explain or go into detail.  I didn’t say to him that my husband loves God but isn’t quite committed to going to church every Sunday and that I don’t press the issue because I have prayed about it and know that while I can inspire my husband, I cannot DRAG him to church.  That forcing him would make things worse and would cause conflict in our marriage.  And I have faith, faith that God can do things that to me seem impossible, so I let it go.

It wasn’t just this man who would say things to me.  Others would say things like, “we haven’t seen you in so long”, even though I had been there every Sunday for months.  Perhaps I didn’t wear enough sequins?  Maybe I should have worn a meat suit or an outfit with twinkle lights that flashed to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me?”

Sure, there were times I didn’t go.  I do like to play the field a bit when it comes to churches.  If attending church were like dating I am what some might call “non-committal”. There are so many awesome churches out there and they each have some really fantastic things to offer! I love that.  

And while I do see the benefits of committing to one, I just haven’t found the right fit yet.  Perhaps this is totally wrong but aren’t all churches supposed to be one collective body?  Is it completely necessary that I commit to only one? 

“I missed seeing you today”, said another woman after I had attended church one week and missed the next.  I happen to know this woman and I know it came from a good place, a place of love but still, I couldn’t help feeling like I was under a microscope.

I understand that there needs to be accountability and Lord knows I need that accountability.  It’s a good thing but after a while it starts to feel mean spirited and even passive aggressive.  It’s like someone is taking attendance and when I don’t go (or bring my husband), the church truancy police start to get suspicious, grab their pitch forks and lanterns and come searching for me.  “We’ve missed you at church!  We were at church last week and YOU weren't. We are good and faithful and we noticed you weren't.”

 I’m not perfect.  Sometimes I wake up and decide not to go to church at all.  Is it wrong? Sure! Do I feel rejected by God because of it? NO!  

 God doesn’t work that way.  He knows that if I didn’t get up and go on Sunday morning, there is a good chance that I’ll go to Mass on Monday afternoon with all the old people who smell like moth balls and Ben Gay.  He knows that I’ll sit and watch a sermon on TV.  He knows that my butt will be back in a pew next weekend and he knows that he'll be hearing from me during one of our afternoon skype sessions.

I should look forward to going to church but instead I get filled with anxiety and start to worry about having to explain myself which is completely UN-necessary because I’m not guilty of anything.  Me and God? We’re good!  But someone is going to ask me why I haven’t been coming or where is my husband or something that is entirely not their business and I’m going to be in this awkward position that I hate.

I’m going to be put on the spot and will have to account for all of my transgressions before I am allowed to pass through the vestibule. I'll have some explaining to do and it better be GOOD!. Like,  "Sorry I missed church.  I've been busy practicing witchcraft and becoming a lesbian."

Let’s see, this week I yelled at my kids and then I pretended I wasn’t home when the credit card company called.  I snickered when I saw my neighbor’s new haircut, I lied and told my husband I was on my period because I was exhausted and needed sleep instead of sex.  I also said a dirty word.  Okay, lots of dirty words.
Oh, and I didn’t come to church last week because I woke up late and my husband was sick and I didn’t want to yell at my kids in order to get them out the door on time. And yes I know, I'm setting a terrible example by not being consistent about church but I'm thinking that screaming at them and getting frustrated is setting a bad example too.  Some day soon I hope to be much more patient and consistent but for now,  I opted to instead give them all a kiss on the cheek and look up at the sky and thank God for all of this, my amazing life and for his grace and love and complete understanding.  Thank you very much.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Special Place In Heaven

In order to keep putting one foot in front of the other with any degree of sanity, I have to believe that there is a special place in heaven for mothers with children in the process of learning how to play the recorder.

The round-the-clock practice sessions (I heard her playing this morning in her room- AT FIVE IN THE MORNING!)

The monotonous song choices! If I have to listen to the first 5 bars of the Harry Potter Theme Song one more time, I might have to take a nice afternoon snooze in the garage.  With the car on.  And the garage doors closed!

The screeching.  Oh.....the screeching!

I'm pretty sure that in a few years,  when I have to go in for a head scan to check for the seizures I'm having every time a commercial comes on for the 10 year anniversary release of "Harry Potter", the technician will be horrified when he sees all of the scars on my brain tissue.

And when he shows me my scan and in a very concerned tone, suggests that further testing is needed, I'm gonna be all "oh THAT...no that's from back in 2011/2012 when my 9 year old was learning how to play the recorder and the screeching caused such intense brain damage that nerve centers began to shut down and die."

No, I have to believe that there is some kind of reward for this torture.  And that when I die, God is going to say, "Licha, you know...you've made a lot of mistakes and you are so lucky that you're covered by grace but let me think this over for a while before I let you in to heaven.  You are SO close, if only there were something to sway my decision."

That's when I'm going to say, " I did have to endure the pain and suffering of a child in the midst of learning to play the recorder!"

And that's when the pearly gates will open.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Damn You, Spell Check!

I just typed a word into my blog in the hopes that spell check would recognize it and correct if for me so I could slap my forehead and say, "OH, that's right.  THAT'S the way you spell it.  I can never remember.  Thank God for spell-check.  It's a life-saver and it saves me all the time and effort I would have to put into looking up the word online."  This was when I thought that spell check was my friend!

I typed in "h'ordeurv", and I right clicked on it in the hopes that  spell check would give me a drop down list of correct spellings for "hors d'oeuvres".

It came back with the word "horrendous".  That's not it. But in a way, it felt less like spell check was giving me suggestions and more like it was pointing and laughing at me,  saying: "horrendous spelling.  Try again."

So I tried again: "Hordurve".  It came back with "ordure".  I don't even know what "ordure" means. So I looked it up...which is stupid because if I'm going to go to THAT much trouble,  I may as well look up the correct spelling for "horseduver"  but oh well, now I'm invested.  The online dictionary says that ordure means "excrement. dung."

So now spell check is telling me that I'm a shitty speller? A HORRENDOUSLY, SHITTY speller?

I try again. "Hors'eduver".  Horseradish.  No!  "Hor deourve."  Devour. NO!  "Horsedouver".  No spelling suggestions. "We don't know what you're talking about", says spell check.  "Your spelling is so bad that we can't even come up with  an even slightly educated guess as to what you're trying to say!  Stop wasting our time! Buy a dictionary already!"

I gathered my shattered pieces of self esteem off of the floor and went to look it up.  It's spelled "hors d'oeuvres".  Except that spell check still underlines it in red to let me know that it thinks I spelled it wrong again.  Thing is,  I looked it up this time and that IS the correct spelling and I'm sure of it because I got it from a real dictionary that even told me the origin of the word!

So THERE, spell checker. I'm right.  You're wrong.  Who's the stupid, horrendously shitty speller now, huh?

HOR D'OEUVRES! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Polite, Intelligent Conversation

I got an email from my editor at Patch.com yesterday entitled "the blog that won't die."  She was letting me know that she was going to feature it front page because of both the massive amounts of hits it has received and the strange turn in conversation it had spurred.

You see, what started out as a thoughtful and reflective piece about family heritage, took a detour into a history lesson that spawned a conversation about our food industry which turned into a discussion about farm raised food and ended talking about a mass killing of lobsters. What?

It was essentially a great conversation, one in which a group of people start out talking about something over dinner and the conversation goes in so many interesting and intelligent directions that they find themselves still engaged in deep conversation, pounding coffee and Bailey's at 2am.  Them are some good conversations and I love it when a bunch of people can come to one place and talk about something without getting ugly or argumentative.  Polite, intelligent conversation is such a great thing!

During this, our polite, intelligent conversation about the cluster fuck that is our food industry, someone posted a link about chicken nuggets.  It was overwhelmingly disgusting yet so totally eye opening.

Then, last night  I was watching television, minding my own business when a commercial for McDonald's chicken nuggets came on. My body waged a full out mutiny. My mind immediately flashed on the image of that oozing, pink goo.

I said to my mind: "take a deep breath, mind...McDonald's says their nuggets are all real, white meat. I promise, it will all be okay." But my mind wasn't having it. It kept interjecting by screaming out words like: "AMMONIA", "EYEBALLS" and "CRUSHED BONES" and before I knew it my stomach was all, "did someone say crushed eyeballs?" and then did a somersault.

That's when the dry heaves started.  I sent the man who posted the link the following message :  "I don't know whether to throw my arms around you in gratitude for opening my eyes to such horror or whether to kick you in the shins for bursting my bubble."

His response: "Sorry.  And your welcome."  Then he told me something about how McDonald's dips their fries in some kind of blood juice that when fried, burns off and smells like steak, therefore making them smell irresistible and make us crave even more.  BARF!

I've offered him a job.  I want him to follow me around all day telling me stories like this.  I will be bikini-body ready by June!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Going To Bed Angry

The hubs and I have had a rough couple of days.  I will spare you the details but I'm sure you'll get the jist if I say that we sometimes struggle with balance.  Him time, me time, kid time, couple time, cleaning time, working time, down time.

When you become parents, it all becomes very complicated. And exhausting.  Anyway, tensions were high and I was frustrated; the kind of frustrated where you can't quite pinpoint what the other person did to ruffle your feathers and if they asked you to explain your fury,  there would be no good explanation but regardless,  you'd still want to punch them in the face.

The combination of exhaustion and lack of legitimate arguments made me decide to just sleep it off rather than start a fight.

Letting things go is not my strong suit and there were a couple of times (at 3 in the morning) when I almost woke him up just to pick a fight.

I've totally done this in the past.  He'd be passed out and I, having simmered for a few hours, would boil over onto the poor helpless man.  He's at a great disadvantage at this point because not only does he not know what I'm talking about, he barely knows where he is or who he is and still half dreaming, imagines he's woken up to find a growling bear in his bed.

But not last night.  Last night I waited until sleep finally knocked at my door.  The thing that stopped me was that I recently attended a funeral for a nice man and as I sat there mulling over my marital frustrations, I couldn't help my thoughts from drifting to his wife and how at that moment she was lying in a half-empty bed with a cold, vacant section that probably still smelled like his aftershave.  If I were in her shoes I would hardly remember times like this when my husband had frustrated me, only because I'm married to one of the good ones; a man who loves me even when I'm completely un-lovable and despite the small frustrations, has only brought happiness, love, comfort, stability and sanity into my life.

I had a much better perspective in the morning.  I guess sometimes it's okay to go to bed angry.  Especially when it keeps you from saying stupid hurtful things to the person you love most in the whole world.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stay At Home Mom Mistakes I’ve Made (Today)

   1.   I forgot to put the dryer sheets in with load #98765432 so Hal went to work wearing clothes that were smothering him like a hungry anaconda.

2.  I re-washed the clean dishes in the dishwasher. Again. 

3.  I left a blanket on the clothes line.  And since it rained (last week) it finally got so heavy that it ripped the clothes line out of the house. Winning. 

4.  I forgot that I let the dog out (an hour ago) and she’s now frozen solid.

5.  I used too much Murphy’s Soap on the hardwood floors and now they’re as slick as an outdoor ice rink in an Alaskan January.

6.  I forgot to de-frost the roast that takes 10 hours to thaw so we will be having cereal and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner instead.

7.  I didn’t water the plant.  Why should I start now, it’s nearly dead and it would be cruel to prolong it’s death. 

8.  I went to the supermarket but forget to get cat food. Cats can eat leftover pizza, right? 

9.  I got curious about a container in the back of the fridge and made the mistake of opening it only to find Thanksgiving leftovers.

10.  I sent my 9 year old to school wearing Capri pants and a tank top even though it’s 18 degrees outside because I was too foggy to have THAT argument at 8am.

Back In A Big Way...UNDERWEAR!

Recently, I've been using something called Google Analytics.   I'm determined to write more consistently here on ANTM and google analytics helps me keep track of things.

I know I've been really 'laxed over the last couple of years.  I didn't contribute nearly as much as the first three years.  We shall henceforth refer to these years as my "dry period."

It's not that I've been completely dry.  I've spent the last 9 months writing for Patch.com. It's: " a community-specific news and information platform dedicated to providing comprehensive and trusted local coverage for individual towns and communities."

It's been a good thing.  It's taught me a lot! It was the first time I had to submit to an editor or be very careful about what and how I write.  I'm still...me...just toned down a bit.  I had (okay, still have) a lot of bad writing habits and since I've been blogging for nearly 6 years, these old habits are dying hard.

But I'm starting to get my groove again, to find a flow in my writing and while I'm nowhere near perfect, I've found a way to be able to easily channel my thoughts into writing which has made me more prolific.  For real, I could write like ten blogs a day and while my editor likes this, at a certain point she's bound to be like, "STOP! I'm drowning in your submissions.  For the love of God, shut up already!"

So I'm back....channeling all of my mostly pointless thoughts here on familiar ground and subjecting all of you poor people to my ramblings.  Thanks for listening!

And since I'm here and I'm committed to helping this blog take off, I decided to check my stats with the help of google analytics.  It tells me how long people are on the site, how they find me and what keywords are searched.  Whichever one of you found me looking for "naked children", feel free to let yourself out.  Really.  That's just creepy! I'm still trying to figure out why in the world Google would send you to a mommy blog!  It's been quite interesting!  For example, I learned that the blog that has brought me the most traffic in six years was the one about my underwear!

People from Cambodia, Phillipines, Brazil, Pakistan, Netherlands, Australia...all reading about my struggles with squeaky bras and frayed panties.   People left me comments, thanking me for helping them not feel alone in their troubles with their drawers. Apparently, the word "underwear" is a huge keyword on Google and if you have a lot of that word in your blog, Google will direct them to you!  It brings lots of UNDERWEAR hits to your blog.  And once they click on you they hopefully UNDERWEAR stay for a bit and look around and maybe even come back...UNDERWEAR!

I wrote that blog back in 2008 and it still garners a shit load of hits.  I'm starting to wonder...perhaps an UNDERWEAR blog is where it's at.  Clearly it's a worldwide problem.  From Pakistan to Pennsylvania, people are in panty peril.  Perhaps it's time for another underwear blog.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sending Kids To School Sick

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I sent my oldest to school today without taking her temperature.  I should have checked because she's been sick lately but it didn't even occur to me.

They had a 2 hour delay this morning on account of the snow and seeing as how she got to sleep in and seemed to feel very well I sent her in only to have the school nurse call me an hour later.  She was in the office with a fever and most likely a raging ear infection.

I've so got mother of the year in the bag!

She seems fine now. I took her to the chiropractor because he has a long history of helping my kids with ear infections, colds, stomach ails and everything else in between.  I swear that he's the only reason that they are so healthy.  While Birdie was sick today, it's the first time since the beginning of school that she's come down with anything even though there has been everything from pink eye to typhoid fever going around her school and classroom.

The other two have managed to escape strep throat, colds, the flu and lord knows what other diseases are swirling around their classroom too!  *knocks on wood* 

She's home now, eating her way through my pantry and watching obscene amounts of television. I gave her some Mucinex and it seemed to help some of the congestion and ear pain.  There haven't been any complaints so far, so I guess she's good. Still, I made a doc's appointment for tomorrow AM just to cover my bases. She's probably got a raging ear infection and I missed it!

It's like that one time that I took all three kids in for a well visit and the doctor told me they were all riddled with infections.  They had been complaining a little bit, although nothing alarming.  I told them to suck it up, get over it and get back to work...re-paving the driveway and re-shingling the house. It was one of my most award winning parenting moments!

I know she wasn't feeling well but she seems to be able to turn her symptoms on and off, most of the time to suit her.  When we are all having popcorn her stomach gets better.  When it's time to take a shower, her stomach acts up.  When she wants to talk on the phone her ears are fine but when it's time to clean her room, suddenly her ear drums are about to burst!

It's so hard to tell when they are really sick! You'd think that when they get older it gets easier but when they get older they have this uncanny ability to manipulate themselves out of taking a math test!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Progressive: It's Where Your Privacy Goes To Die

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Have you guys seen these commercials for Progressive Snapshot? It's essentially a device that you plug into your car that monitors things like the time of day you're driving, how far you're driving and your VIN (vehicle identification number).

Progressive basically monitors your driving for 30 days and can offer you a discount of up to 30% based on your good driving.  Do you drive a lot? Do you drive during peak times of day?  How many sudden stops do you make? How often do you veer off the road and flip people the bird?

Okay, so maybe that last one wasn't true but is it just me or does this thing have a very Big Brother-ish vibe to it? Progressive says that they won't be monitoring things like how fast you drive or where you go. They claim there is no GPS in the device and to this I say two words: bull and shit.  How do you think they track all your data? By satellite! That's like the difference between tomato and tomaaato.  It might sound different but it's pretty much the same thing.

In my head I think they'll know where I am, where I'm going, how far I go, when I travel and with that kind of tracking power could probably even cross reference and tell if I'm talking or texting while driving too!  And with high powered satellites could probably tell you how many people are in the car, what kind of underwear (if any) they wear and if they ate too many beans at dinner last night. Alright, so maybe I'm slightly over-paranoid but still, it just seems to open up a Pandora's box.  Progressive: it's where your privacy goes to die.

The company says that you "can only save" with the plan.  In other words they can't be all, "no way, Licha has put her lipstick on while texting and eating an Egg Mcmuffin sandwich and driving,  nearly every day this month. NO DISCOUNT FOR HER.  In fact, lets hike up her rate like a painful wedgie!" For the record, I don't do any of those things.  Because I'm kind of attached to being alive.

And while I'm sure there are plenty of people who do all of those things, for the most part, most of us try to drive safely.  That being said, we're all human.  We pick up the phone once in a while. We take our eyes off the road for a second to change the cd to that hot, sexy man called Barry Manilow.  Or maybe that last one is just me.  *cough*  Anyway, the point is that we all make mistakes and I don't want anyone tracking that and basing my insurance rates on every single little thing I do.

Progressive says there is nothing to be worried about, that they value their customer's privacy and would never sell your information.  Unless..." it’s required to service your insurance policy, prevent fraud, perform research or comply with the law."  Yeah.  That makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over.  If by warm and fuzzy you mean suspicious and apprehensive.

Of course, this Progressive guarantee of privacy and savings only applies for most states. In Rhode Island for example, after monitoring your driving, they can opt to hike your rate by up to 9%!  That little tidbit is tucked away nicely in the fine print.

I also find it funny that Massachusetts is one of the states that opted out of this service.  Because for real...have you ever DRIVEN in Massachusetts? Those people are insane! I imagine the insurance people in Mass took one look at the proposition for Snapshot and were all: "Bwahahahahahaha."  They immediately realized the futility of instating something their customers could never benefit from while they're "bangin U-ie's without their "blinkah" on the Mass Pike.

Who knows.  Maybe it really is a great way to save money.  And maybe they really won't track your every move and raise your rates and sell all your personal date to make a profit.  It could happen. *rolls eyes*

I'm just sayin'...insurance companies don't have the most stellar reputations for being trustworthy.  It's all fun and snapshots until someone's rate goes up and they start having to sell their blood plasma to cover their bills.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Teaching Our Kids About Martin Luther King Jr.

We're taking the kids to New Haven today for a Martin Luther King Jr. festival.  They're reading kid's stories, will feature live music and also an African dance troop.

That will come on the heels of our making them watch a King documentary.  Giving that many facts to small children is mostly futile because while they act as little sponges and absorb everything, it's usually all jumbled up in a big mess so that when you ask them about segregation they tell you stories like: "so that's when black people were coming from Africa and had to ride different trains than white people when they went on the underground railroad."


I'm determined to whip out the video camera sometime today and record their historical interviews.  I'm thinking it will be strikingly similar to watching an episode of drunk history.

Still, it's important for them to know their heritage.  They are a mix of Spanish, French, Mexican, Native American, German and African American.  In other words, they're a Heinz 57 mixture of blood.  Most of my husband's family is African American and they have such a wonderful, rich history.

My kids know about their family but still when we pointed out to our little one that she was lucky not to have been born 60 years ago she was all, "you mean I'm not white!?!"

This reminded me of the time when I asked my mother-in-law if she faced discrimination in the 60's and 70's when she and my late father-in-law were in a scandalous (at the time) marriage.  She a fair skin, blond hair, blue-eyed German girl and he a mix of African and Native American.  Were they taunted? How did their families react?  Was it difficult?

My mother-in-law has been blind since she was 16 years old and my father-in-law was also blind.  In fact, they met at a school for the blind.  When I asked her the discrimination question her eyes got wide and a look of distress came over her face.

I immediately felt bad and said, "I'm sorry.  If that brings back memories of hard times, you don't have to tell me." Instead she said, "You mean he was BLACK?"

Damn that woman is a smart ass. Damn, I love her.  But she's right.  What does it matter?  And curiously, she did point out that because both of them were blind, nobody so much as looked twice at them.  Or maybe people did but they had the luxury of not seeing the judgment.

It speaks volumes about the power of discrimination.  It's a two way street that requires someone to put out the hatred and someone to receive it. And since my in-laws never received it, it was therefore non-existent. At least to them.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christmas STYLE

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Well, it's the the middle of January now and I still haven't taken the Christmas tree down.  The rest of the house was cleared of Christmas clutter by January 2nd but that tree? Man, I just can't find the energy to rip that shit down.

It's like the holidays sucked out every single ounce of energy I had in me.  The last two ounces of it were used to eat the last of the chocolate Santas and now I'm spent.

I wonder if it would be inappropriate to leave it there until next year? We'll just pretend we don't see it.  We'll work around it. It'll be the giant pink elephant Christmas tree in the room.

Hey, people leave their decorative lights stapled to their house year round and I can't leave up a stinking tree!? Get off my back!  According to HDTV, we're supposed to be "bringing nature into our spaces."  I'm thinking a Christmas tree would do that quite nicely.

It's not called laziness. It's called STYLE! Mkay?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Without Dignity

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Have you ever sneezed or coughed so hard that even though you had just peed and your bladder was completely empty, the force is so strong that you still pee yourself?

And you're completely embarrassed but scrounge up enough dignity to gracefully excuse yourself from the room only to find that you've peed through your pants!

Then you have to take a shower and change like a two year old...or a 92 year old, because you're bladder is completely useless and has a mind of it's own.

Has that ever happened to you? No? Oh.  Well, me neither!

On a different note, do you think that I should start out with a 3 or 5 lb dumbbell when I start toning my kegals? :/

Cat Behaviors Explained

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If you are the proud human of a cat then chances are you’ve experienced any one of the myriad of strange, sometimes downright bizarre behaviors that cats can exhibit.

Case in Point: This morning I woke up to a gutted mouse on my back deck.  And when I opened the back door my cat purred and copying the moves of one of the “Price Is Right” models, moved her paw around the dead mouse in order to point out its obvious awesomeness like it was the top prize in the showcase showdown.

It got me to thinking.  What the heck was that all about?  And as I dove headfirst into a rabbit hole of cat facts courtesy of Google, I realized that cats are very hard to read.  They’re not like dogs.  If a dog wags his tail, licks your face and offers you his hind quarters you can pretty much interpret that he’s saying, “I love you. I kiss you.  Now rub my butt.”  Not so with cats.  They are very mysterious creatures.

Just in case you’re wondering why your cat brings you dead animals or why they scratch your furniture or look at you with that creepy blank stare, you are in luck because below I have outlined and explained some of the most common (and puzzling) cat behaviors.  I got my information from the internet and I’ll quote the sources when I can.  I am assuming these people are experts. After all, if it’s in writing it’s probably true, right?  Yes.  And for the record, I am 29 years old.  And moonlight as a supermodel.

Brings You Dead Animals:
My cat has brought us snakes, mice, birds, chipmunks and once,  a half-dead squirrel who begged for us to put him out of his misery.   According to Cat-world.com, there are a couple of theories about why cats do this. They could be bringing us gifts and trying to contribute to the household by offering up last night’s kill.  It’s suggested that instead of reacting in horror when we find such presents, we should praise the cat, lest we offend him for such a thoughtful sentiment. I’ll take this into account and next time I find a dead corpse.  I’ll high five my kitty and graciously accept his offering.   I don’t want to take the risk that today it’s a dead mouse on the doormat and tomorrow it's a bloody horse head in my bed.  I’m not sure how gangster my cat is and I don’t really want to find out.

Another reason could be that our cats see us as unskilled hunters.  Often times the mama cats will bring half-dead animals to their babies in order to teach them the art of the final kill.  This could explain the nearly-dead squirrel on my welcome mat.  I can only imagine my cat’s disappointment and frustration when I scooped up said squirrel and took him to the vet!

What exactly is kneading?  Well this is when a cat will shift his/her weight from paw to paw.  This is usually accompanied with purring and it’s all cute and sweet except for the part where they jab their claws into your flesh.  According to cat-behavior-explained.com, they do this as a throwback to when they were little babies.  They used to knead on their mother's body in order to help express her milk.  It made them feel secure and loved and comfortable so they mimic this behavior as adults in an attempt to comfort themselves and show their happiness.

This is kind of like when I’m tired and I drink because it reminds me of how my mom used to spike my bottle with a little Captain Morgan to help encourage my drowsiness.  Ah, the memories!  Cats typically knead on their favorite blanket, pillow, toy or person.  So really, we shouldn’t take it personally when they climb in our laps and pierce us with their razor sharp talons.  It  means you are their favorite person and they really love you.  Those cats really know how to take “love hurts” to a whole new level!

Predator To The Invisible:
When our cat was a baby he used to stand on his hind legs and go all ninja on an invisible target.  He would paw at the air, at the light, at a speck of dust.  Not understanding this behavior, we resigned ourselves to accepting the fact that we had picked a defective pet, a schizophrenic cat with imaginary friends who convinced him that his tail was a mortal enemy.

Turns out this is perfectly normal cat behavior.  The Daily Cat explains that this behavior is a form of cat entertainment.  “Call it the “Project Runway” or “Top Chef” equivalent of relaxing amusement in the kitty’s world.”  Wow.  Now I’m really regretting that summer when we had him committed to the state mental hospital for observation!

This is one of the most universally common cat behaviors.  Cats love to rub their bodies and faces against your legs, face,  hands or pretty much any other place you'll let them.  I always assumed this was my cat’s way of getting my attention and encouraging me to rub him back.  Turns out that while this behavior has its roots in affection it’s mostly a territory thing.

Cats have scent glands along the tail, on each side of their head, on their lips, base of their tail, chin, near their sex organs, and between their front paws.  Basically the cat is a gaint walking, purring scent gland. They use these glands to scent mark their territory. When the cat rubs you, he is marking you with his scent, claiming you as "his."  He’s also picking up your scent. Cats rub up against furniture or doorways for the same reason - to mark the item as "his".

In other words, all those special moments you shared with your cat when he/she was rubbing against you were “ less like a furry hug and more like a prison yard tattoo.”

Solicitation Purring:
Weird as they are, cats are far from stupid. They know how to express themselves to their humans in order to get what they want or need.  According to this, they are experts at getting to know their humans and learning what prompts their humans to action.  Similarly, us humans become attuned to the different purrs and meows of our cats and learn to interpret their needs.  This is very similar to what happens when new mothers and fathers learn to decipher the hunger cries of their newborn babies from the sleepy cries.  Studies were done to see how our animals can “vocally manipulate” their owners and proved that humans can decipher subtle nuances in cat vocalizations.

That’s all very informative and intellectual.  That doesn’t mean much when it’s 2 in the morning and your cat is jumping on you in an attempt to persuade you to get up and give him a mid-night snack.  The way I interpret that study is: Your cat pays attention to you and knows what buttons to press in order to get you pissed off motivated enough to get up and move at 2am.

I don’t know about you but I feel like I’ve un-locked the little trap door of mystery that is my cat’s head.  I’ve got their number now.  I’m a’speakin’ their languash and I will no longer be manipulated.  Oh who am I kidding?  They’ve got me wrapped around their tiny little talon-capped pinkies.

I’d be remissed if I didn’t share the following with you.  It’s one of my all time favorite Youtube channels. It’s called “Simon’s Cat” and the artist so honestly and humorously portrays what it’s like to be owned by a furry friend.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kemper Pedic Bed

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I saw this SNL skit weeks ago and it made me pee myself a little bit.  I completely forgot except for now, every time I see a Tempurpedic Mattress commercial, which seems to be like very 5 minutes, I'm reminded of this skit and my mind  falls right into the gutter.

And I shouldn't be the only one with my mind in the gutter.  It's so much better to share the gutter with friends so I'm going to ruin tempurpedic commercials for you too.  I promise you'll never be able to watch one with a straight face again.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Very Quiet Evening

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I've got some kind of virus in my throat. Or so I've self-diagnosed based on the people around me who seem to have the same symptoms and were Nancy enough to go to the doctor over a little sore throat.

Not me.  I can tough it out *wince*. 

Nah,  from what I hear, our symptoms seem the same and their docs said that it's a virus that's just carousel-ing it's way around town.

But all is not lost because whilst in the midst of some seriously unbearable pain, I stumbled upon a parenting gem!  You see, last night I couldn't speak above a whisper and this really twilight zone kind of thing happened. 

I never noticed it before but did you know that our brains are hardwired to whisper in response of someone else's whisper? True story.  I went upstairs to tuck the kiddos into bed and what normally is a noisy, clunky, weepy process was turned upside down and there was nearly complete silence.  The kids were reciprocating my quietness with their own and all was peaceful and nice.  Even my husband did it.  He walked into the room and said "how was your day" and when he heard me talk he whispered back to me!

It stunned me so much that I shushed everyone, put out my hand and stood very still in order to figure out what noise was missing.  We had tuned our own noise out for so long that when it was gone it was like someone had misplaced one of our limbs!  It wasn't until we resumed that I realize that it was US that was missing; all of our crazy, loud, boisterous noise!

Are we seriously that loud? Do I yell so much that my kids feel the need to do the same?  That's some seriously messed up shit but now I know.  All those years of screaming was futile.  If I really want my kids to lean in and look me in the eye, all I have to do is whisper.  It's like magic.  And suddenly I feel really powerful!  It's like some freaky sort of subliminal mirroring that happens and we don't even know we're doing it! It's like someone handed me the remote control to my family's brains (and mouths)!  *insert evil laugh*

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sex Does Not A Snack Distraction Make

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While we didn't formally put in writing a list of New Year's resolutions, the hubby and I have been talking about making better choices.  Maybe we could eat less meat! Maybe we could encourage each other to go to the gym more often and maybe even go together sometimes! Maybe we could cut out some of our snacks?

That snacking part is a real tough one.  After we put the kids to bed, we like to plop down and watch a little boob tube.  We love "Two and a Half Men", "Two broke girls", "Whitney",  "The Big Bang Theory" and when we've had our fill of comedy,  "Modern Marvels."

"Modern Marvels" is the only reason our brains haven't turned to jelly and dripped out of our ears.  It keeps us filled with just enough interesting facts to make us dangerous...and slightly entertaining at dinner parties.

Thing is, we can't just sit there and watch these shows without a little something to munch on.  And we're not talking carrot sticks and celery here- no! I want chips or trail mix.  Howie has a soft spot for hot fries and milk and so it becomes nearly a nightly ritual that he drives to the nearest mini-mart and picks up a few munchies while I put the last of the kids to bed so that our spread is ready and waiting as soon as the last eyelid closes.

This is all kinds of bad for us.  First, we're eating after 7 pm.  And we're siting down and not moving whilst eating.  I think to myself that it would be a good idea to preoccupy our time with something that will take our mind off of food and keep us busy long enough for us to get tired and quickly fall into bed.  This would serve not only as a fun activity but also serve as a great snack distraction.  So I say to the hubs, "maybe we should do something in place of watching TV.  We could clean the basement or play a game or (gasp) talk to each other."

None of these things really appealed to him but he was on board with the idea of distraction therapy in order to avoid those night time cravings. "I know", I announce.  "How bout we have lots and lots of dirty SEX!"

This he liked.  "Sounds like a great plan to me!"

So the next night we traded fondling the remote in lieu of fondling each other.  And it was great.  Fireworks, choirs of angels, you get the point.  And so we're laying there in post-love bliss. We're relaxed and happy and disappointingly not so sleepy when we both realize that now we're even hungrier than when we started.  And and while we've burned off a few calories in the last few minutes, have come nowhere near burning off the amount necessary to burn off that peanut buster parfait we are now both craving.

Live and learn.

Putting On Kindness

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Little sister: Can I play with your Nintendo DS? And your guitar? And your crayons?
Big sister: Get out of my room. It’s off limits to you…forbidden. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Pretend I don’t exist. I’m just a figment of your imagination.
Little sister: But I want to play with you!
Big sister: Get OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOW!!!!!!!!!!
Little sister: *Hysterical wailing and gnashing of teeth, because this is clearly hell*

After this, the little one usually wades through her tears and tries not to trip over her bottom lip as she marches downstairs and files charges against her big sister for this heinous act that’s been committed against her. She most always exaggerates and accuses her sister of things like attempted murder and bodily harm and assault with a deadly weapon when really, her big sister is at worst guilty of being a real jerk.

It’s at times like these when I thank the Lord above that I do not have brothers and sisters. Siblings are clearly put on this early with the sole purpose of ruining each other’s lives. They boss each other around. They take each other’s toys. They tell on each other. At breakfast, they finish all of the good cereal with colored, puffed marshmallows in it so that all that’s left is the high-fiber cardboard stuff dad loves.
My kids are getting to an age where they generally annoy each other at every turn. There’s a lot of fighting and yelling and door slamming going on around here.

The main problem is that we are running low on kindness at our house. There is a shortage, not enough to go around, and this makes for some stressful situations. There seems to be a town-wide, state-wide, worldwide shortness of kindness these days. Forget the high cost of gas, there seems to be a high price on kindness, too, so high that we often think that we can’t afford it.

It does come at a high price sometimes. We have to set aside our egos and our immediate wants and desires. We have to put others first at our own expense and that can leave us feeling depleted.

Thing is, kindness is a worthwhile investment we can all afford. Sure, it requires sacrifice but just like any good investment, over time it accumulates great returns.  And it goes a long way! This is something our family really needs to focus on right now. We need to show each other more kindness, more compassion and more love.

By the way, love is not a mushy feeling that gives you goose bumps. It’s the conscious decision to be kind, forgiving, patient and not self-seeking. This means that love is a choice and we can make it every single day. We choose whether we love our spouses or children or families every day. And if you’re like me, you oftentimes fail at it.

In our attempt to spread the kindness (and love) in our family we started something called “Putting on our kindness boots.” I wish I could take credit for this but I can’t. I’ve heard this idea from many different places but it’s the first time that I’ve actually put it into practice.

The concept is easy. It’s the deliberate attempt to remember to be kind every day by doing the physical action of “putting on” pretend kindness boots every day.  These boots remind us to be patient and courteous and helpful. They remind us that even when someone is not kind to us, we have a choice to do the right thing and come back with kindness instead of anger.

So every morning I started reminding my kids to “put on their kindness boots” before they go to school. This is a reminder that today they are making the decision to be kind to me and to each other and their classmates and everyone else that they come into contact with that day.

And if they have an off moment when they start down that mean path and let’s face it, we all have those moments, they can easily be reminded that they are wearing those boots.

For goodness sake, just this morning I got frustrated with my son who just couldn’t seem to understand that “brush your teeth” actually meant “brush your teeth” and not “harass the dog by farting in her face.”  I lost it for a split second and yelled at him.  He of course reminded me that I was not wearing my kindness boots and the truth is he was right.  Even us moms need a reminder that kindness is king and that everything we do sets and example.

I’m not always the best example when I see who is calling and tell everyone in the house not to answer the phone because I don’t want to talk to that person right now. Or when I lose my patience with their father (for example, my husband that is sexy and sweet) who can remember every phone number he’s ever had his entire life but can’t seem to remember where we keep the ketchup.

We can all easily stray down the wrong path so it’s a good reminder to my kids when they start to beat each other silly. Somebody took off their kindness boots, they better put them back on. Someone didn’t put their kindness boots on today, better go find them. Someone is having a really hard time getting their kindness boots on today, we should all help put them on. This is when we tackle the grumpy culprit to the floor, hold him/her down while someone tickles them and someone else pretends to put those pesky boots on them. Works like a charm every time.

I sometimes fight harder than a normal person when they put them on me.  Because mine are high heeled boots and they are sometimes a real bitch to wear!  Especially when my feet swell!