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Well, I haven’t been blogging as much as I have in the past.  If you want to know why…it’s because I joined my best friend from law school, Julie, and started blogging with her.  We’ve got this great blog/website:

mommyesquire.com

“We’re Moms.  We’re Lawyers.  We’re Your In-house Counsel.”

Check us out and see what the fuss is all about.  It’s fun and informative.  We’re taking your issues and offering free advice.  We’re reviewing everything from lip balm to overnight diapers.

Why?  Because we can.

What makes us think we are experts?  We don’t know.  Does having six kids between us count?  How about two undergraduate degrees, two law degrees, and one pageant title?

Who are we?

Julie - Creator of mommyesquire.com

Julie - Creator of mommyesquire.com

This is Julie:

Creator of mommyesquire.com
Working mom
Mother of three
Likes: reading, jogging, cooking, traveling, hiding from her children
Dislikes: cleaning, incorrect grammar, people who dress their little girls like skanks
Dreamed of being a Court TV anchor after law school
Voted “Most Likely to Achieve”…or should have been

Likes…no, loves…wine

Kim: Co-creator of mommyesquire.com

Kim: Co-creator of mommyesquire.com

This is Kim:

Co-creator of mommyesquire.com
Stay at home mom
Mother of three boys
Likes: reading, sewing, shopping, making her kids push her on the tire swing
Dislikes: people who don’t write thank you notes, sassy children, the smell of Polo cologne
Dreamed of being a non-profit lawyer and “helping people”….(yeah, now I’m in-house counsel to three very indigent clients).
Voted most likely to wear pink to court.
Has a raging case of ADHD…and a vegetarian.

So, come visit us at mommyesquire.com and have a laugh…all at our expense.  Enjoy!

Honey, I know youre busy giving the kids those nutritious sodas..but, have you seen my hat?

"Honey, I know you're busy giving the kids those nutritious sodas..but, have you seen my hat?"

I am not a morning person.   My husband knows this.  Yet, despite this well-known fact, I am often awaken by him asking me questions…lots of questions.  It’s usually a one-sided conversation:

“Honey, where is my brown braided belt?”

I mumble from under the covers, “in your closet.”

“Oh, yeah.  There it is.”

(a few seconds pass)

“Honey?  I hate to wake you up again, but have you seen my black socks?”

I now gingerly lift my head from the pillow and scowl at him as I reply, “Your socks are in your sock drawer.”

He opens his drawer…and….Voila!  The black socks are there.

This exchange goes on and on…until I am fully awake and must stumble down the stairs to make breakfast for our three children.  I could’ve slept another precious half hour because my children are still sleeping.  However, this is impossible because I’ve had to find things.

Things that are easily found…if only he would look.

I decided to take a different approach this morning.  I was comfortable in my bed.  I didn’t have to go anywhere this morning and my children were all still snoozing at 6:00 a.m…..when the onslaught of questions began.  Today, I waited a full minute to answer my husband when he asked where his brown loafer was.  Within seconds, he found the other shoe in his closet….right next to the shoe he was holding.

I then looked up from under the pillow that I had pressed against my head and exclaimed,

“You need to familiarize yourself with our home.”

I went on to say, “Your shoes are in your closet….your socks are in your sock drawer….your shirts are hanging in your closet….toothpaste is in the middle drawer…..shampoo is in the shower….and all of the cold perishables are in the fridge.  Don’t wake me up again.”

I’m not Sacagawea, for Pete’s sake.  Our home isn’t so large that you need a map with a little arrow that states, “You are here.”  Things are fairly organized and put in the most logical places.  I just don’t know what happened in a matter of ten years to make my husband believe that he can no longer find things without my assistance.  I’ve asked other women this question and they are as dumbfounded as I am.

I thought I would be sassy and give him a chart of locations and items like the kind you find at the grocery store….but, that would just end up being more work for me.  It’s not like I don’t have anything else to do with three little boys all under six years old and a mountain of dirty laundry that rivals the size of Mt. Everest.

I guess if that is the only thing that I fuss about, that’s not too bad.  I just hate giving up ten extra minutes of sleep to help him find a belt that is hanging right in front of him….in the closet…where he took it off the night before.

Maybe I should reconsider the chart…and a map?

This week has been particularly trying with my boys.  Summer is here.  School is out.  We have more time on our hands.  Which means….

I’m saying even more crazy stuff.

For example:

I like to listen to a radio station that plays “oldies.”  I really like their “Disco Lunch Hour.”  The other day, we listened to “You Dropped the Bomb On Me” and my boys loved the bomb sound effects, etc.  Later in the lunch hour, we  heard K.C. and the Sunshine Band sing, “Shake Your Booty.”  I thought it was fun to sing while I reminisced about weekends spent at the roller skating rink as a child.  What I didn’t think about was that my boys would latch on to the whole “Shake Your Booty” thing.  The boys loved the lyrics, mostly because K.C. said the word, “Booty.”  For the rest of the day, my boys ran around saying the word “Booty” and laughing like wild hyenas.

Ah, to have three little boys….

Herein starts a new list of crazy stuff I’ve said to my kids this past week.  Enjoy the insanity that is my life:

#1 – “Stop saying the word, “Booty”!  It isn’t funny.  And, No, you may not sing “Shake Your Booty” at church!  I mean it!”

#2 – “Do not try to go down the slip n’ slide naked…..especially before it gets wet.”  (He didn’t listen to me and had to “recover” inside for an hour after the incident)

#3 – “Just because Daddy lets you pee outside in the backyard does not mean that you can just pee outside at the park.”

#4 – “I don’t care that the Hulk runs around without shoes and no shirt.  You must be fully clothed when we go to the grocery store.”  (said to the child who went down the slip n’ slide naked)

#5 – “Farting in the bathtub does not make the tub into a bubble bath.”

#6 – “A rattlesnake would not make a good pet.  I don’t care if they have them at the zoo.  In fact, no snake would be a good pet for us.  Think of something else…please.”

#7 –  “Why do I make up the bed every morning when we just mess the bed up again at night? hmmmm.  Good question.”

#8 – “You may not have a popcicle for breakfast.  I don’t care if it is made with “real fruit juice” like it says on the box.”

#9 – “Please go to sleep.  One day when you are an adult, you will wish you had a nap time.  Seriously.”

#10 – “Why do Mommies wear makeup?  Well….your Mommy wears  it so I don’t scare anyone when I go out in public.”

Thanks, K.C. for the lyrics Shake Your Booty (not really)

Thanks, K.C. for the lyrics "Shake Your Booty" (not really)

Now, that's what I'm talking about...

Now, that's what I'm talking about...

Sometimes the best things in life are free.  I’m not sure who said that or if it is the lyric in some Beattles song…but, it’s true.  My husband asked me what I would like for Mother’s Day.  I could think of a few things that are totally unrealistic right now:

A cream colored Volvo C70, a diamond Tag Hauer watch with a platinum band, a trip to London,  decent looking shoes to fit my ginormous narrow feet,  world peace and an end to famine

….you get the drift.

However, these are all things that I won’t be given any time soon (at least not with private school tuition looming in the future for three kids)…and the shoes are a lost cause.

I honestly couldn’t think of anything that I couldn’t live without.  I could think of some really cheap (or totally free) gifts that I would adore:

1.  A nap:

Seriously.  I would love to take a nap…by myself….for any length of time that I should need to get recouperative sleep.  Of course, if I were to really get this much-needed REM sleep, I may not wake up for several days.

2.  The laundry done:

I would love to walk into my laundry room, for once, and not see piles of clothes on the floor.  With a husband and three small boys, I feel like I am constantly doing laundry.  In fact, my dryer has begun to squeak.  I think it’s probably time for a new dryer.  UGH.  The thought makes me shudder.

3.  The house cleaned:

So, I’ve gotten Maid Brigade from time to time…maybe twice a year.  It’s not often enough for me.  I’m the one who cleans our house.  I’d love it if I could just go take a nap and awaken to a house that is clean and smelling like lemon Lysol.  However, I think this a fairytale complete with little mice that sew ballgowns and a fairy Godmother that turns pumpkins into stagecoaches.

4.  An hour long uninterrupted phone conversation:

My best friend lives over 500 miles away.  We talk on the phone 3 or 4 times a week.  Unfortunately, our conversations are often interrupted by someone needing to go “potty,”  children fighting, or someone needing “Mommy” for some reason or another.  I’d really like to curl up on my sofa and just catch up with my best friend  for an hour.  This seems to be impossible.  My children aren’t even interested in talking to me…until I pick up that phone receiver, then I am the most popular person in the world.

5.  An afternoon with NOTHING to do:

Is this even possible?  I’m the kind of person that constantly keeps “to do” lists.  For one day, I’d like to take my list and throw it in the trash.  I’d like to spend an afternoon at an antique mall or at Sephora, trying some new lipsticks.  Maybe a pedicure would be nice?  This is definitely something that I could do for myself.   It’s all about scheduling, right?

See?  Somethings in life are free.  My son drew a picture for me for Mother’s Day.  He drew me with big round eyes and a brown nose.  My hair looks like two antennae on top of my head.  My son is 5 years old.  I think he did a fantastic job and I love my picture….even if I look like a big blonde bug.  I’m thinking about framing it.  He worked so hard on it.  I love it.

My husband is still wondering what to get me.  I think I’ll tell him about this list….and start with #1.   A nap would be nice….

Mary Cassatt is the best artist to capture motherhood.

Mary Cassatt is the best artist to capture motherhood.

The exchange went something like this:

“Come here, baby, and let me help you with your shoes.”

“I’m not a baby.  I’m Jack.”

I watch him struggle to put on his socks and shoes.  For the first time, Jack doesn’t need my help.  He succeeds in putting on his own clothes. This is a real milestone.

He knows it.  I know it.

A lump forms in my throat.

I say, “You’ll always be my baby.”

He says, “Mommy, don’t call me that.”

I say, “O.K.”

I take him to school.  I realize that next year I will be sending my third (and youngest) son off to a Mother’s Day Out program two days a week.  He turns two years old next month.  The “terrible two’s”  have arrived a bit early.  George is saying “MINE!”  George likes to say “No!”  He is no longer a baby.  He is a toddler.  He still likes to put both of his little chubby hands on each of my cheeks and say, “Mommy,”  then we rub noses.  I know all too well…this, too, will soon stop.

By the third child, you see all of the tell tell signs of diminishing babyhood.  The dwindling of baby fat…and the loss of that precious fatty crease between the wrist and hand are seen.  Their vocabulary expands by leaps and bounds.  They stop (or start, as in the case with my youngest) playing with Thomas the Train.  Their interests mature. They may not want to be affectionate in the same ways or need you to pick them up….or help to dress or do a litany of things.

My oldest son is already at that age, at five (soon to be six) where he doesn’t want me to kiss him in front of his friends.  I respect that and we now are “cool” and do our own secret handshake…which is really a fist bump followed by an “explosion sound” and open hand.  We then say to each other, “You’re the bomb.”  He likes it.  It is fun.  It belongs to us.  He also likes it when I recite this poem:

When I was one
I had just begun
When I was two
I was nearly new
When I was three
I was hardly me
When I was four
I was not much more
When I was five
I was just alive
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever;
so I think I’ll be six now
forever and ever.

– Now We are Six by A.A. Milne, creator of Winne the Pooh

Sometimes I wish he’d stay six forever and ever.

I am rather nostalgic as of late because I realize that my sons are growing up.  It’s just that I feel like time is speeding by.  Don’t they realize how much I treasure every single moment with them?  I don’t think they do and I think that is perfectly fine.  They are busy with “growing up.”  All three of them are involved in what it takes to develop and move on.  I never want to “clip their wings.”  Plus, I’m enjoying the whole ride through their childhood…each and every moment.

I love looking at the artwork of Mary Cassatt.  To me, Cassatt captures the essence of motherhood.  I like every piece of her work.  It conjures up all of these feelings.  I’ve been thinking about buying a print of hers because I reminds me of this time in my sons’ lives.   I truly thank God for allowing me to have them.

So, when my sons tell me, “I’m not a baby.”  I know that deep in my heart…they’ll always be my baby.

No matter how old they get.

My husband and I have had a very full social calendar lately.   Don’t immediately think that we are really into the “social scene.”  I mean that we’ve had soccer games, practices, church activities….and a few events that have NOT involved our children.

We’ve enjoyed our “adult outings” to various activities.  It requires me to get dressed in something other than gym shorts and yoga pants.  I have to wear makeup, etc.  We get a babysitter and generally have a good time.  However, I’ve noticed that the last three years as a stay-at-home mom have done a real number on my vocabulary and conversation skills.

For instance, this weekend I found myself involved in a conversation with another adult about art.  The artist was a very interesting person and great conversationalist.  I couldn’t believe it when asking him about his art, I actually asked him, “So where do you hang your… stuff?”  What I meant to ask was, “Where is your art on display?”  Definitely not… “Where do you hang your stuff?”

“Stuff?”  My goodness!  Could I not have said the word, “art”?  Or “paintings”?

Sunday evening at an Easter Egg Hunt, I found myself talking with a very interesting woman whose business is in finance and we were conversing about the state of Wall Street.  She said, “The state of our economy is really a concern for most people.  I think most people are really freaked out and don’t want to invest….blah, blah, blah.”  Suddenly, the woman’s voice sounded like the teacher in A Charlie Brown Christmas (you know…”mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah”).   Frankly, I was so busy watching my three boys out of the corner of my eye that I only heard the word, “freaked.”   I replied, “Yeah, I know what you mean about being freaked out.  The Yo Gabba Gabba guy really freaks me out.”

She walked away.

I couldn’t help it.  All I could concentrate on was the sight of  all three of my rowdy sons clinging to the  poor guy whose job it was to dress up like the Easter Bunny.  By the time I got Will and Jack off the Easter Bunny’s back and George off his leg, I realized that I had not responded very appropriately to the conversation that I was just “involved” in.  If that’s what you call it.

I certainly don’t have this “problem” with my friends.  Or maybe I’m not so self conscious while  in their company.  Actually, we talk about all kinds of interesting things.  I don’t censor myself when I’m with them or my family.  However, put me in a room with people who actually go to jobs every day and have a variety of hobbies and activities that don’t require schlepping kids in a minivan all day….and I’m utterly brain dead.

I think I’m suffering from “Mommy speak.”  Mommy speak is when you know all the words to “The Wheels on the Bus,”  but couldn’t carry on a conversation about the local music scene.  It is when you can tell someone about non-staining finger paints, but can’t remember who painted the The Last Supper (It’s Di Vinci, right?).   Mommy speak also enables you to translate on behalf of any toddler or baby.  I can tell you what my one year old is saying.  When he says, “Fyes!”  I know he is saying “Fries,”  as in french fries (this usually happens when we pass a McDonald’s).  I can tell you what any toddler is saying when they say “Poo,”  “Doo,” or “Wee Wee.” Because of this thing, Mommy speak, I am now in the habit of referring to the restroom as the “Potty.”  You know what I’m talking about….surely?  If you don’t have this problem….well, more power to you.

I mean it.

Really.

Mommy speak can sneak up on you.  It can impair your ability to carry on a full conversation.  It impairs your memory and comprehension skills.  I am definitely sure of this.  Some of this is due, in part, to “Momnesia”…or also known as “Mommy Brain.”  I do believe that when you have children, most of us lose precious brain cells…by the butt load.  Don’t even get me started on what happens to your attention span.  Since having children, I am convinced that my three year old has a longer attention span than I do.

I know this won’t last forever.  One day, I will be able to carry on a brilliant conversation.

I’m just scared it will only be after my children leave for college.

Yo gabba gabba

I said to her, "Yeah, the Yo Gabba Gabba guy really freaks me out."

I invited my mother to the zoo with me and my three boys this week.  We went to the zoo on Wednesday.

It’s almost Friday…and I still haven’t heard from her.

I think she is avoiding me.

It’s really understandable.  I totally get it.  My mother took a “walk on the wild side.”  She just needs time to “recover.”  I may hear from her next week.  Who knows?

If you’ve got three kids, taking a trip to the zoo ( or any “cultural” outing…oh, heck…any outing, for that matter) is truly an adventure.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  It’s like traveling to some far off locale…just not with the experience of getting your passport stamped.  At least that’s how it is for us.

Our zoo day went something like this:

6:45 a.m. – Mommy gets four bags packed before boys wake up.

Bag #1 Diaper Bag – Must have diapers, wipes, “baby snacks,”  3 juice sippy cups, change of clothes, extra shoes (trust me on this) and baby Tylenol (just in case)….PLUS must carry extra change of clothes for older two children (just in case…been there – done that – know it’s necessary), AND one gallon size ziplock bag (for soiled clothing…and/or vomit bag)

Bag #2  Mommy’s backpack “purse” –  Thank, goodness that Vera Bradley makes a half-way decent looking bag!  Contains: Wallet, lip balm, sanitizing hand stuff (that Mommy loses and would have come in handy after all three boys spend 45 minutes petting goats at the zoo’s farm), cell phone (that Mommy still doesn’t know how to work properly since Daddy gave her his old Blackjack), zoo map, and hand lotion.

Bags #3 & #4  Camera bag and cooler containing more snacks/juice pouches

Bag #5 is later added to our haul at 8:45 a.m. after we have dressed and picked Grandma up in our minivan.  Bag #5 is Grandma’s purse (which could double as a lethal weapon from it’s mere size and weight)

9:45 a.m. – We arrive at the zoo.  Finally.  It takes us another half hour to start our walk around the zoo because we realize that we need to rent a double stroller to carry all of our crap. After loading it with all of our bags, we estimate that George must walk for most of the zoo outing…totally defeating the purpose of renting the stroller in the first place.

10:15 a.m. – We are looking at animals…giraffes, zebras, polar bears, black bears, panda bears, elephants…then on the the baboons and orangutans.  This is when we spot the herpetarium, or better known as the “Reptile center.”  My boys go nuts!  They begin to chant…”Snakes! Snakes! Snakes!”  So, here we go…inside the dark cave-like building with a huge stroller hauling our stuff…and all three boys running toward the snakes… behind one inch plate glass windows.  My boys have no fear.  They press their little hands up to the glass.  My youngest tries to lick the glass.   With my “quick Mommy reflexes,”  I grab him and manage to get the other two under control.  My mother can’t believe how much they love the reticulated python or the deadly black adder.  My oldest son, Will, wanted his picture taken beside the rattlesnake.  My mother looked like she could faint any minute.

12:00 (High Noon) – It’s lunchtime at the zoo.  We venture off to the main restaurant located in the center of the zoo.  It’s a burger/hot dog kind of eatery, but the line is a mile long.  One whole wall of the restaurant overlooks the monkey arena. Grandma stays with the boys at a table while I order and pick up our food.  She doesn’t realize that it is impossible to expect all three of them to sit quietly while there are monkeys doing a variety of funny things only three feet away.   I tell her to “just keep an eye on them.”  She mouths to me, “Are you crazy?”  I mouth back to her, “Yes, I am.  Just do it.”  By this time, my mother looks as frazzeled as I do at the end of a long day…and it’s only noon.  She’s fading fast.  Once I get our food and distribute it to all three boys and my mother, I noticed that I forgot to order anything for myself.  I’m left to share fries with my youngest child and I eat a bag of Teddy Grahams.  UGH.

12:45 p.m. – We take a train ride around the Zoo Farm.  This little lap around the zoo costs us a whopping $5.00.  At least the kids love it and the “conductor” blows the horn a couple of times.

1:00 p.m. –  We tour the farm.  Of all the boys, my youngest, George is getting really cranky.  Jack and Will don’t want to leave the billy goats.  We spend almost 45 minutes petting the goats (try getting that smell out of your kids clothes…whew!).

Jack suddenly spots a kid with a Snow Cone.   It’s all over.  All three boys want a Snow Cone.

2:15 p.m. – I motion to my mother not to say anything about a Snow Cone.  I motion for her to “zip it and throw away the key.”  She doesn’t get the hint.  Grandma promises to buy each boy a Snow Cone.  I tell her, amongst much objection and whining, that we have a 45 minute ride back home.  Green Snow Cones are not advisable.  Grandma does not understand and buys green Snow Cones.

3:45 p.m. – We have had green Snow Cones.  We are driving home.  Guess what happens next?

Someone gets car sick.

4:15 p.m. – Grandma is dropped off at her house.  She looks shell-shocked.

4:30 p.m. – We are back home.  Mommy runs each boy through the shower in “car wash mode.”  Can’t get green ring from around the mouths.  Kids look like they’ve been sucking lollipops made of antifreeze.  Alas, all three boys are showered and changed.  Fun has had by all. We have pictures to prove it.

I think we had a great time.  Seriously.  Despite the herpetarium, the long lines at the restaurant, and the Green Snow Cones.  It’s just every day stuff for me.  I’m used to it.  Grandma is not.  I do think she was a real trooper today.  She rolled with the punches.  She took a “walk on the wild side.”  I’ve got to give her props for that.  I mean…I was an only child..and a girl.  A girly girl.  I have three wild (and I mean that in the best way possible) boys.  Every day is an adventure for us.

I say let’s have more outings like this. They’re only children once.

Like my oldest says, “LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!!!!”

My boys

My boys

Grandma and grandsons get close to a black bear.

Grandma and grandsons get close to a black bear.

Some people say that when you die, Heaven is supposed to be better than anything you could have imagined on Earth.  It is supposed to be like being in your most favorite place.  If that is the case, then Heaven would look a whole lot like summer camp, to me.  I’m not kidding.  When spring arrives (It’s sunny today…thanks, God!), I can’t shake the feeling that summer camp is around the corner.  I’m almost forty years old and I still get that longing to pull down the trunk from the attic and begin planning for summer days ahead.  Where’s my canteen, my flip flops, my sleeping bag? Alas, there is no summer camp for adults.  I only wish there was.

In Sleepaway:  The Girls of Summer and the Camps They Love by Laurie Susan Kahn, the author chronicles the whole summer camp experience.  The book is pure nostalgia…in black and white photos.  Kahn’s book is chock full of memories of camp rituals, camp menus, dances and songs…all from the single-sex camp perspective.  It is one that I can totally identify with. I, too, am an alumna of a girls’ summer camp…only my camp was nestled in the woods of Fishville, Louisiana…not near the rocky shores of Maine.  Amongst my bookshelves filled with Jane Austin, Tom Wolfe and Margaret Mitchell, this “picture/coffee table” book has a special place.  It’s a book that I treasure, since I did not have the foresight to save so many of my camp photos and memorabilia.

However, I do have memories. From the age of seven to seventeen, I spent two to six weeks of every summer at camp.  The smells, sights, sounds, and tastes of camp never fade.  I remember the smell of camp so vividly.  The smell was a heavy perfume of Off insect spray, bubblegum, pine tree sap, Coppertone tan lotion, and Sea Breeze anteceptic. The communal shower always smelled of bleach and one doesn’t forget the stench of horse manure steaming in the Louisiana heat.  However horrible the smell of the barn, the mess hall always smelled fantastic…like hot yeast rolls or hamburgers grilling.

Summer camp sounded glorious, too.  It was the most beautiful sound to hear a mess hall full of girls sing the dinner prayer…right before getting totally rowdy and shouting a round of bawdy songs or pounding on the tables demanding M-A-I-L!  There was no better music to drift off to sleep than to hear crickets and the lapping of the lake water…or the rustling of the wind through the pines.  The camp at full tilt was just as harmonious…to hear constant laughter, the thud of arrows hitting a bullseye, cheering at a game of tug-of-war, or the clopping of a horse’s hooves in a riding ring.  My personal favorite was the sound of the campfire with a circle of girls around it, holding hands….singing “The Call of the Fire.”

Camp was always bustling.  There was never too much time to get “bored.”  If memory serves me correct…here was my schedule:

6:45 – Reveille (yes, someone played a bugle to wake the campers)

7:15 – Flag raising (imagine 50 to 75 sleepy girls saying the pledge of allegiance…sometimes this included the flag being raised …and someone’s underwear)

7:45 – Clean up bunk & cabin before breakfast (The floors of the rustic -and I use that term generously – were always covered with grit.  To this day, I can’t stand to walk barefoot on a wood floor)

8:00 – Breakfast (we sang before and after every meal…there were always “hand” movements or some sort of motion to most songs….”Do Your Ears Hang Low?”, “Father Abraham,”  “Lemonade,”  “Clementine,”  “A Cabin in the Woods,”  “Be Kind to Your Web Footed Friends,”  “Rise and Shine,”  the list goes on and on….)

8:45 – Cabin inspection

9:15 – Swimming

10:15 – Arts & Crafts (Tues/Thurs), Archery (M,W,F)

11:15 – Horseback riding

12:15 – Lunch, Mail Call

1:15 – Rest hour (Playing cards, writing letters, making lanyards)

2:15 – Canoeing

3:15 – Snack (popcicles or frozen snicker bars)

3:45 – Tennis & organized games

4:45 – General Swim

5:45 – Clean up before dinner

6:15 – Dinner (which tasted really great at camp….mostly tossed salads with Good Seasons Italian dressing, spaghetti with meat sauce, hot rolls, green beans, fried chicken, corn on the cob…sometimes hot dogs/hamburgers on the grill)

7:00 – Evening Activity (This could be anything.  Every night was something different.  Some of the activities included:  skit night, overnight camping trips, capture the flag played with the whole camp divided into two teams, talent night, movie night…..but the last campfire of the season was reserved for the last night.  More about this later…)

9:00 – Lights Out (more bugle playing)

The last campfire of the season was the most special.  The camp counselors would go out into a clearing in the woods, near the lake and chapel, to build a huge bonfire.  The girls would be led from the camp in single file to form a circle around the fire.  This was a night that the whole camp wore all-white…white camp shirt, white shorts, etc.  We took a minute to take a camp-wide picture out by the lake (one which I wish I still had in its black and white starkness of all of these precious girls) before heading to the fire.  Because many of the new campers would not be familiar with the songs, sheet music would be given out.  I remember being so proud of myself to pass on needing the sheet music after a couple of seasons.  We would all link arms and begin the songs.  After singing Kum By Ya and It Only Takes a Spark, we’d pass out candles and each girl would light the next girl’s candle from one lit candle.  We saved this song for last:

“The call of the fire comes to us through the shadows
That follow the close of the day.
It’s flames bring us peace and a calmness of spirit
That drives all our troubles away.
We are thankful for days and the joys that they give us,
For nights and the rest that they bring
May we go on believing in this life we’re receiving,
Just now round the fire as we sing.”

Then, the counselors would award girls with some outstanding achievement while at camp….”Most Improved Swimmer,”  “Best on Horseback,”  “Most Courageous,”  etc.  I don’t think I remember a girl leaving the campfire without some small ribbon that she had “won” at camp.  Everyone cried..but, only as girls do when faced with leaving a place you love…and people you cherish.  Everyone wanted to stay.

So, why do I love camp?  Easy.  It’s about tradition.  A sense of belonging.   Innocence.  Everyone fitted in.  Childhood was cherished and observed.   Kids were uninhibited.  You ran and played and got dirty and didn’t care.  Gosh, I miss it.

I get a glimpse of that feeling on days when I climb on my sons’ tire swing and let them push me.  I can see over the picket fence in my backyard to the pond down the street.  It reminds me of some camp scene in the back of my mind.  Sometimes I get a whiff of camp while taking my boys hiking down by the river.  Nostalgia boils up from the recesses of my mind.

So, what do I do with this longing?  Well, I plan to send my boys to camp.  Every now and then I look online at a myriad of camps and get excited for them.  However, they are two to three years away from actually going.  It will be a while before I order the big steamer trunk and saving hotel bottles of conditioner.   In the meantime, I revel in my memories … and look forward to giving my boys the same chance to experience it for themselves.

I hate change.  When Facebook changed the look of my “wall,”  I despised it.  When a well-meaning friend moved my sofa to the other side of my living room, I freaked.  Don’t even get me started on the whole controversy when they “changed” Coca Cola.  I am a creature of habit and I’m not afraid to admit it.  However, some change is good.

Very good, indeed.

I am referring to the weather.  I live in the south, where it is supposed to be balmy, even at Christmas.  This year is the exception.  It has been a very cold (and bleak) winter.  We’ve had a couple of good snows…which translates into some snow days for the kids (except mine who go to private school…I guess they want paying parents to know that they’ll make sure you get your money’s worth when it comes to education…keep ’em open…come hell or high water).  My kids have managed to use the plastic saucers and sleds to slide down our steep driveway through the snow.  We even made a snowman complete with carrot nose.  Our winter has been unseasonably cold and I say….

ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!!

Where’s this “global warming” everyone was talking about?  I’m tired of the cold…and wet…and overcast days.  It’s enough to make you think you’ve got seasonal affective disorder…even if you don’t.  I find myself watching infomercials and am overwhelmed with the idea of  buying things I’ve never bought before – like snuggies (those blankets you wear), ice scrapers, omelet makers, ShamWow towels and those lamps you plug in that mimic sunlight.  It seems like the colder it gets….t.v. gets even worse.

I miss the sunlight.  I actually miss spring!  I’m ready to shed these sweaters and enjoy sandals.  Frankly, I’m worried that it will be too cold to enjoy linen and seersucker at Easter.   I’ve never thought white shoes looked particularly good on anyone other than little girls at Easter, but I’d at least like the option of saying that white shoes were permissible.  (You know, you can’t wear white shoes after Labor Day…only on and after Easter?)  It’s just too cold to even consider the color white.  Goodness, gracious!!!!

I’m getting rather desperate over here.  I even feel the need to apologize to my mother-in-law, a woman who is chronically cold-natured.  Every time she visits, she complains that my house is too cold.  At seventy-two degrees in my living room, I’ll find her wrapped in a thick sweater, which she reserves for her visits to my house.  I jokingly tell her it’s because she lives in Florida, which is basically, like living in a third world country.

Up until now, I’ve always thought I’d love to live somewhere it’s cold and snowy with a long winter.  I imagined myself curled up on some sofa, feet tucked underneath me, sipping a big mug of hot cider while reading some thrilling novel while the falling snow softly blankets the ground outside my cabin…somewhere in the Adirondacks.  What a dream.  Yeah, it’s a dream…not reality.  It’s pretty difficult being cramped inside all day with three kids with a severe case of cabin fever…in southwest Tennessee.

I say bring on SPRING!!!!!!  I’m ready for a long, warm day…watching the kids swing on the tire swing.  My boys are ready to run through the freshly mowed grass in their bare feet.  Enough of hot apple cider.  It’s time for lemonade with big chunks of ice.  Ahhhhhh.   Change can be nice.

Change of seasons...and scenery would be nice.

Change of seasons...and scenery would be nice.

I only wish I could have more Beth Moore moments.

I only wish I could have more "Beth Moore" moments.

Within the last three days, I have been bombarded with bad news from friends and family.  I have listened to friends tell me that they’ve lost their jobs, been diagnosed with an illness, had to schedule surgeries, homes are being foreclosed and depression is setting in.  Believe me when I say that I am no bystander.  Within the last six months, I’ve had my fair share of worries….a major health scare, two surgeries, radiation ablation, the death of my stepfather, and financial woes which accompany the present state of our economy.  So, don’t feel alone in your time of trial…I’m right there with ya.

However, I’m tired of “it.” “It” being bad stuff.  Illnesses, death, despair.  I’m just sick and tired of it.  I’ve got some serious anxiety lately…wondering where it will hit next.   Sometimes, I have nightmares that God is like some big bad mobster.  I’ve imagined him a lot  like Tony Soprano.  This “Mobster God” of my nightmares just keeps “putting hits out” on people.  My nightmares all end with someone (or me) in the back of a big black limo, headed for the Jersey turnpike…in a pair of cement stilettos.

But this is all no joking matter.  I find myself totally pissed off.  I mean really mad.  I keep asking God, “Who and what could be next?”  I don’t mind asking Him, “Can’t you just give us a break already?”  It’s not like we need any more crap piled up on top of what we’re handling.

Let me just say that I am “saved.”  Yes, I believe in God…and specifically, His Son Jesus Christ.  I wish I never questioned His grand plans.  I really would like to be as sure as Beth Moore, Kay Graham Lotz, or Nancy Leigh DeMoss of the whole Heavenly roadmap.  All of these Christian women just seem so sure about everything.  I don’t always feel like this.  I’d like to be one of those women that I’ve seen at church who, in her time of trial, just serenely quotes some Bible verse with a smile plastered across her face.  (You know who they are….the “Stepford Christian woman”…always ready with muffins in hand).  Anyway,  I’d love to have one of these “Beth Moore” moments.  However, I don’t see it happening.  It’s not in my DNA.

In fact, out of all the people in the Bible…I feel a kinship with St. Peter.  This is who I feel like I am most like.   Peter was totally imperfect, but he loved Jesus.   One particular story resonates with me.  It takes place in the garden of Gethsemane right before Jesus was tried and crucified.  The soldiers had come to take Jesus away.   When one of the soldiers made a move to capture Jesus, Peter took out his sword and chopped off the ear of the soldier that manhandled his friend, Jesus.   Everyone else just stood there.  Not Peter.  Peter took action.  Yes, Jesus admonished Peter for fighting….but, Peter wasn’t about to just do nothing while they took Jesus away.  I’m with Peter.  I don’t believe in just standing there and watching.   I believe in doing something.  Anything.

Lately, this includes arguing with God.

Why am I telling you all of this?

I told a clergy person that I wanted to know why I had to have a health scare.  I was told that God chastises his own.  Hmmmmm.  So, does that mean that I did something that required chastisement?  I took this to God and I told God that I haven’t “done anything.”  Lately, I’ve been living a pretty boring life.  Chastisement?  You’ve got to give me another reason.

Then just the other day, I shared with a group of Christian women that I have been “wrestling with God” over all of the things going on recently. (I was just “sharing.”  I wasn’t looking for someone to give me advice.) When one of the women told me just to “pray more,”  I looked at her like she had three heads.  “You’ve got to be kidding me?” I sarcastically responded.  “Pray more?!  What in the heck do you think I’ve been doing?” I said.

I meant it.  I have been praying.  Hard.  If arguing on behalf of myself and others isn’t praying…then I don’t know what I’ve been doing.  Someone very wise told me that the God of our universe can “handle it.”  God can handle my rage, my arguing, and my defiance over whatever reasons are given to me by well-meaning clergy and fellow Christians.  I don’t have to sing along to praise music and wave my hands in the air.  I don’t have to kneel on the edge of my bed with hands folded and speak sweetly to Him.  I think God is strong enough to handle what I’ve got to give Him.  I’ve got questions.  I’ve got some anger and I want Him to listen to me.  I’ve got a case to present on behalf of me and the people I love.  I can pace back and forth in my living room and shout out to God.  I can run on the treadmill and tell God what I really think.  Today I ran like someone was chasing me.  I had a lot to say…

He’s got to listen.  He’s got to give us a break.  At least, this is what I’ve been praying for.

By the way, it was nice to be reminded that my God isn’t walking around “zapping” us with bad crap.  He loves us.  I keep telling myself that.  Even Billy Graham said, “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.”

I keep telling myself:

Life is precious.

Life is a gift from God.

God is with me.

Secret..Agent Man...  Are you sure it isnt Secret A-S-I-A-N man?

"Secret..Agent Man...?" Are you sure it isn't "Secret A-S-I-A-N man?"

My best friend from childhood, Nancy, is planning a visit to see me this summer.  She lives more than 500 miles away from me.  That doesn’t stop us from talking on the phone every two or three days.  We call each other with serious needs and even call each other about things that are totally trivial…like if it’s O.K. to wear jeans to a parent-teacher conference.

It’s been several years since we’ve seen each other and have decided that this summer is THE summer.  We are going to plan time to see each other.  It’s been long overdue.  We are totally stoked to see each other and looking forward to just being in each other’s presence.  In high school, we were known as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.  We were quite the pair.  I’m not ashamed to say that in 30+ years later, we haven’t changed much.  When we are together, we slip into goofier versions of ourselves and we laugh hysterically at everything.  You know…all the things that you do with your oldest and dearest best friend.

One thing that I am sure that we will do is crank up the music and sing to every song…and screw up lyrics.  It’s what we do.  It’s what we’ve always done.  Ever since we were kids.

Back in the day, we’d sing as loud as we could:

“Medieval Woman…..Oh yeah…Medieval Woman!”   Later, we found out that Electric Light Orchestra was singing, “E-V-I-L Woman!,”  not singing about someone dressed up for a Renaissance Fair.

Or one of our other faves was:

“Secret Asian Man….Secret Asian Man…They’ve given you a number and taken away your name!”  Later, we discovered Johnny Rivers was singing about a “Secret A-G-E-N-T Man,” not someone immigrating from China.

To this day, I want to sing:

“Here’s a little bitty…about Jack and Diane…growin’ up in the Heartland.”  But, no.  John Cougar Mellancamp is telling us that “Here’s a little D-I-T-T-Y ’bout Jack and Diane.”  He isn’t telling us that Jack and Diane are short in stature. No, Jack and Diane are not “little people.”

There weren’t too many songs that Nancy and I couldn’t mess up.  Secretly, I think we liked singing the songs the way we “heard” them.  I still think that by stretching out “evil” in the song, Evil Woman, into three syllables, ELO is making it far too confusing.  It just sounds too much like “Medieval.”  But, I’m beating a dead horse.  Anyway, I’m looking forward to riding about town, with our kids in tow, singing along to whatever comes on the radio.  Lately, Nancy has been into Radiohead and Moby.  The words are muffled enough on both of their latest albums that I am most sure that if we can’t figure out what they’re singing…we’ll make something up.

I’m sure it’ll be quite entertaining….’till we find out what the real lyrics are.

Nap time is golden, kid!

Nap time is golden, kid!

I don’t get it.  I just don’t understand why my kids fight nap time.  Don’t they understand that by the time they are teenagers that they’ll be begging me NOT to wake them up?

The truth is that I love nap time as much or more than they do…when they stop fighting sleep and finally drift off to La La Land.  I cherish nap time because this is “Me Time.”

O.K., don’t think that I finally put my feet up and eat bon bons.  I actually get things done while they are asleep.  As soon as they are in their beds, I began my frantic attempt to get everything done as quickly as possible.  By everything, I mean all the things that are impossible to do with little ones underfoot.  You know…phone calls, emails, shopping lists, ironing, laundry, mopping, and general cleaning up.  When my kids are awake, I am spending most of my time breaking up fights over crayons, changing diapers, or finding something to entertain them so I CAN get something done.

Occasionally, (and I really mean once in a blue moon) I will nap when my kids nap.  This is usually when I am sick or have not slept due to one of my kids getting sick (see earlier post on Haz Mat suit and projectile vomit).

Anyway, I noticed today that my youngest, George, fell asleep in the van.  I had to run a few errands, which interfered with nap time.  When we arrived back at our house, I gingerly picked up a sleeping baby and placed him in his crib.

He slept.

For ten measly minutes.

Then he wailed like a banshee.

What’s up with that?  I know he’s tired.  I know that he needs his usual two hour nap.  For goodness sakes, Mommy needs his two hour nap.  What’s wrong with this kid?  Doesn’t he realize that nap time is golden?  In just five or six years, he’ll be begging me to let him sleep in on Saturday, take a nap on Sunday afternoons and unwilling to wake up before the crack of dawn.  Even my five year old is now a lump in the bed in the early morning hours….unlike last year, when he’d pop up at five o’clock each and every morning.  (No kidding, folks)

I even hear Kindergarten teachers complain about how hard it is to get their class to settle down at nap time.   One friend of mine says it’s the hardest part of her day to get all of her students resting or at least staying still for 30 or 45 minutes on a mat.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Wouldn’t you just love to return to Kindergarten?  I would.  If I could go back, I’d relish nap time.  I’d snuggle down on that mat and cover up with my best flannel blanket.  There’d be no begging me to take a nap.  I’d also gladly wake up to a snack of milk and cookies.  Are you kidding me?  Take me back to the good ol’ days where nap time was mandatory.  I know plenty of adults who’d welcome nap time at work.   I’m all for a little siesta.  Bring it on.

Anyway, I’m letting my youngest whimper a bit in his bed.  I think he needs a good nap.  Napping in the car seat is no nap at all, in my humble opinion.  He’ll thank me for it later.

The day started like any other.   We all went to church, came home, played, napped, etc.  At 2 a.m., Jack came into our bedroom to announce that he was sick.  The exchange went something like this:

Jack:  Mommy?

Mommy:  hmmm?

Jack:  I feel sick. (burping sound then wetness hits Mommy and Daddy…we turn on the light and discover to much horror that we are splattered with vomit.  Great.  Just great.)

Without much warning, Jack threw up.

All over our bed.

All over Mommy.

All over Daddy.

It was vomit of the projectile kind.  If you are a parent, you know what I’m talking about.  It was the kind of thing that rivaled Linda Blair in the Exorcist.

There we were at 2 a.m., cleaning our carpet, cleaning Jack, and cleaning our bed.  Jack later fell asleep.  Mommy and Daddy did not. I think we were too freaked out.

Later today, Jack took a nap and is now feeling better.  You’d think that was the end of that, right?  NOPE.

I picked Will up from school, made him a turkey sandwich, and unloaded the dishwasher while he ate.  Suddenly (without any warning) Will said, “Mommy, I feel sick!”  Of course, only two seconds elapsed before Will had vomited all over the kitchen table, the cabinets…and me.  That makes twice within 24 hours that I was covered in vomit.

It was official.  The stomach virus that I just knew my kids had escaped had made it’s way to my house.  Seven out of sixteen children had been absent from Will’s prekindergarten class on Friday.  I thought we had missed the bug.  Well, no such luck.  This is when I decided that I desparately need a HazMat suit.

I could not be any more serious.  I really, really, really need a government issued HazMat suit!

As a stay-at-home mom to three little boys, I am solely responsible for “sick days.”  As part of the “deal” that my husband and I worked out when I decided to leave the workplace, I was to take care of my children if they could not go to school.  This arrangement was to free up my husband to keep his career going.  Plus, I wanted to be with my children when they got sick.  I never liked the idea of leaving them with someone else when they needed me.  I actually want to care for them, rub their backs, make soup, etc.  I don’t like to be away from them when they look so puny.  Most Mamas feel like this way.  I’m sure of it.

However, wouldn’t it be nice to just put on one of those big, hulking, HazMat suits…pour bleach on the floor… and clean the illnesses away?  You may think I’m obsessive compulsive, but I’m not.  I just know that when you’ve got a virus running rampant, you’ve got to clean…and you’ve got to do it well.  If not, everyone suffers.

I also want one of those suits, because  I really can’t afford to get sick myself.  Who takes care of Mommy when she gets the stomach bug?  Well, there’s no such thing as doctors who make house calls around here, sister.  I’m on my own.  I’ve got to stay healthy.  Therefore, I’m in search of one of these suits, but where to find one?  What would the neighbors say?  Could I go to the grocery store in one of those things?  Could I wear cute shoes with it or would I need to wear matching HazMat boots?

…and I just wonder…would a HazMat suit make me look fat?  hmmmmm.

Mommy prepares to clean up projectile vomit...

Mommy prepares to clean up projectile vomit...

Did June ever say No?

Did June ever say "No"?

I just can’t say “NO.”  I guess I’m just easy.

Well, that sounds really bad.  What I mean is that I feel compelled to say “Yes” when someone asks me to do something. Whether it is volunteering for a silent auction  or making 32 sugar cookies shaped like hearts for my other son’s Valentines Day party at school…I can’t help myself.  I always say “Yes.”

Deep down I know I feel like I need to have my calendar as busy as possible so that no one can say that I am lazy.  With three little boys, all age five and under, who could possibly say that I am lazy, right?  Well, I was raised to believe that women who stayed at home instead of working forty hour work weeks were “ladies of leisure.”  My mother worked full time and was engaged in full combat battle of the “mommy wars.”  There was no word so dirty as “housewife” in my household.  June Cleaver, Donna Reed and Carol Brady were considered a bad influence on a generation of women.

And here I am…no longer a practicing attorney….now I am the dreaded…

h-o-u-s-e-w-i-f-e

Call me a stay-at-home mom, domestic engineer, housewife…whatever.  We can spruce up the title, but it is what it is.

So, to compensate for my new title since leaving the workplace, I try to stay as “involved” as possible.  This is what I had planned, right?  I wanted to be the mom who makes homemade cupcakes from scratch for school parties instead of store bought cupcakes.  I was determined to make my sons’ Halloween costumes, go to story time at the library, take trips to the children’s museum.  I wanted to be busy and involved.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the onslaught of requests…from everyone.  I didn’t know that when people got wind that I was a stay-at-home mom, they thought that I would have all this time on my hands.  I became a volunteer magnet.

Can you substitute for the preschool?  Are you available to teach choir?  Can you sew my child’s Halloween costume?  Will you make a paper mache volcano for the project?  Do you mind making 42 chocolate covered strawberries for the class party?  Do you mind babysitting my sick child?  Can you make our meeting?  Will you smock my daughter’s Easter dress?  Will you facilitate our group?  Can you fill in for me?  Will you chair this event? Can you do the Thursday morning group?  Will you return this to the store for me?  Blah, blah, blah!

The requests do not seem to end.

I am not a martyr.  I admit that I like to stay busy, so I usually don’t mind doing most of what I am asked.  However, I do think that most people assume way too much about stay-at-home moms.  It is assumed that because I am at home, that I couldn’t possibly be as busy as I would be if I worked outside the home.  Let me clarify:  Because I am not working outside the home does not mean that I am not working.  Period.   I work very hard, thank you.   Even if I didn’t volunteer my time for a variety of things, I would still be extremely busy.  Here are a few reasons why I am busy…at home:

I have a three year old that is struggling with potty training.  That alone takes most of my patience.  I hold my breath when we go out the door and into the van while he is in his “big boy underwear.”  Things were so much simpler when he wore a pull-up.  Now, we may have two pit stops from our door to his preschool….a mere five miles down the road. The ten minute car ride now takes thirty minutes.  Don’t get me started on how he feels the need to use the bathroom in the great outdoors.

I have a nineteen month old that is no longer content to be “strapped in”…to a stroller, a car seat, etc.  He wants to run free.  This isn’t happening while we are out and about.  At least not while I’ve got to keep an eye on my two oldest children.  Therefore, I (and everyone within a five mile radius) must endure screaming from a child secured to an umbrella stroller.  It’s the only way I get things done and I can’t bring myself to use a child harness.  Those things just look like leashes to me.  Plus, he is strong.  Very strong.  Walking an enormous English Mastiff down the sidewalk would be easier.

I have a five year old that has no fear.  Self confidence is one thing, but this child likes to run and jump and leap…you get the picture.  I must keep one hand on him at all times.  Otherwise, I’m back in the ER with blood and stitches.  For some reason, he thinks the big red cement balls outside of Target would be perfect to run and jump on top of.  For this reason, I try to avoid Target when my two oldest sons are in tow.  Not good.

Mental note to self:  Never, ever, ever let my sons watch Jackass.

What I am trying to get at is that I have my hands full.  I didn’t even mention housework, laundry, running errands, chauffering children, attending practices, church events, etc.  If someone thinks I’m lazy then so be it.  So, I’ve decided that I will not sign up for everything that is put in front of me without giving it some serious thought.  I’ve just been way too cavalier in filling up my calendar.   The main thing is that I’ve got to stop feeling like a sell-out for staying at home to raise my children.  I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Working at home is working.  Plain and simple.

I’m no lady of leisure.  I’m busy with or without all of my commitments.  I just wonder if June Cleaver ever felt frazzled?   Did she ever say “No” to the PTA when they asked her to chair the school benefit?  Did June ever buy Little Debbie snack cakes instead of making brownies from scratch?  Did June ever take off those pearls?  Who knows.  What I know is that I work…it’s just work within the four walls of my home.  There is no crime in thinning out my calendar and letting go of some of the madness….I think.


MoNique in Charm School

Mo'Nique in Charm School

I confess.  It’s terrible.  I’ll come clean….I’m addicted to trash t.v.

My husband and I ban certain shows from the general t.v. viewing area (so our kids will do other things in lieu of becoming couch potatoes and learning bad stuff).  Even my husband has pretty good taste in his television viewing habits (History Channel, Iron Chef America, This Old House).  Well, I should say that he doesn’t really spend much time watching t.v.  In fact, we both don’t sit down to really watch any television show from start to finish.  We’re always doing something.  However, I manage to find some show to watch while I fold the laundry, etc.   Trash t.v. can be excellent entertainment.  Seriously.

Charm School, Girls Next Door, Rock of Love…I wish I could say that I follow CSI, 24 or Lost. That sounds so much better than saying that I plan to watch Bret Michaels choose some skank to spend an hour with in a hottub on his show, Rock of Love.  Don’t even get me started on the reruns of Flavor Flav’s version of “The Bachelor”, entitled “Flavor of Love.”  It was just too hilarious to watch Flavor Flav rename all of his contestants with the most atrocious nicknames (Pumkin, Deelishis, Hoopz, Thing 1, Thing 2, Toasteee…you get the idea).   I guess the years Flavor spent touring has done a real number on his brain, so he needed nicknames to tell the women a part.  It was simply disgusting watching Flavor actually kiss these willing participants.  It was like a car accident that you don’t want to look at, but you find yourself craning your neck to get a look at the spectacle.  I especially couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen during one episode of Flavor of Love when Pumkin spit in the eye of one of the contestants, New York (Yes, that is a nickname).  My husband says that I have a very sick sense of humor.

I also think I have been morbidly curious about the Girls Next Door starring Hugh Hefner’s three platinum blonde (under 30) girlfriends.  I find myself watching that show in complete amazement that three women could bare to “share” a home, cars, and a “boyfriend” (although I use that term loosely).  It’s hideous…and yet, I’ve been known to watch it.

However, my all time favorite “trash t.v.” moment came a while back during an episode of Charm School with Mo’Nique.  Mo’Nique is the “headmistress” of a charm school of sorts.   This charm school attempts to make “proper ladies” out of the contestants from Flavor Flav’s show.   This is more difficult than you would imagine considering that some of these women are strippers…and well, you get the drift.  These women make Eliza Doolittle, in her pre makeover stage, look like Queen Elizabeth.  I digress…

In my favorite episode, Mo’Nique explains to the girls that they will abandon the nicknames given to them by Flavor Flav, in an attempt to “reclaim” themselves.  Each girl comes forward…takes off her name tag with her nickname (Pumkim, Toasteee, etc.) and tosses it in the fire before announcing, with much pomp and circumstance, her “real” name (Sarah, Jean, etc.).

This is the exchange that had me rolling on the floor, laughing:

Mo’Nique:  Come forward! What’s the name that Flavor Flav gave you, girlfriend?

Contestant:  Saaphyri.

Mo’Nique:  Tear off that name tag and throw it in the fire!

(Contestant reluctantly tears off her name tag and throws it in the fire)

Mo’Nique:  O.K., now what’s your real name?

Contestant:  Saaphyri.

(Mo’Nique looks at the camera dumbfounded.)

Mo’Nique:  Say what?!

Contestant:  My real name is Saaphyri.

Mo’Nique:  (quiet for a long time)  Well…hmmmm….O.K……then let me get you a new name tag, Saaphyri.

Could mainstream t.v. be funnier than this?  I don’t think so.  The moment was priceless.  I laughed ’till I cried.

I know. I know.  This kind of stuff can kill your brain cells.  I just need a good laugh now and then.  It’s not like I watch it all of the time.

Oh, for goodness’ sake!  Don’t judge me.

I have a love-hate relationship with permanent markers.  I love those little sharpies and how great they are for labeling my boys’ jackets and coats.  I love the big ol’ honkin’ ones that I use to write Will’s name on the outside of his snack bag.  I love to doodle with them, too.  I really used to like those big markers that would smell like different kinds of fruit.  Even though our art teacher in school would tell us not to sniff them, the multi-colored rings around my nostrils would give me away as a “marker sniffer.”

However, I also hate permanent markers with a passion.  I didn’t have this much hatred toward an inanimate object as I do now….until I had children.  Permanent markers are not safe in the hands of a child.   This is pretty obvious, right?  Well, let’s just say that my boys can find a permanent marker that has been meticulously hidden better than a police dog can find contraband at the airport.  Let me explain…

Today I found my baby, George, squealing with delight as he was but inches from my white kitchen cabinet.

Holding a huge black permanent marker.

With the top off.

It was like I was running in slow motion toward my child…..Nooooooo!!!!!!!!  Stooooopppppp!!!!!!!!!!!  Drop the marker!

George dropped the marker.  As he turned to face me, I noticed a large black streak down one side of his face.  He had “painted” himself with the marker.  UGH.  This little incident brought me back to my first year with Will.  Will also enjoyed some time with a permanent marker…when he decided to paint his “private parts.”

I’ll never forget when Will was about George’s age and he found a black magic marker in my “stationery drawer.”  I thought my markers were safe in this little drawer along with my calligraphy pens, personalized stationery, and stamps.  I was sadly mistaken.

I don’t know when or how he found the marker.  I only know that my marker was missing.  I shrugged it off and thought I may have left it in a purse or a bookbag.  Later that afternoon….while changing Will’s diaper….I thought I was going to pass out.  I looked down into my son’s diaper to find that he was covered in black streaks from his lower belly to his….Well, let’s just say that his “private part” was completely black.  Will jumped up and begin to shout while pointing at his “privates” and laughing, “BWACK!!!!!!”

I thought I would faint.

I freaked out.   What would cause such streaking?  (the urine in his diaper caused the ink to fan out and look like raised veins)  Oh my Dear Lord!  Should I rush my baby to the doctor?  Was this some rare blood disease?  I immediately called the pediatrician’s office and waited for the nurse to begin her litany of questions.

Just then, Will walked into the kitchen holding …the black permanent marker…and began to demonstrate what he had done earlier….before sticking the thing in his mouth…and proceeded to giggle.

I grabbed that marker and threw it in the trash.  Will began to scream like a toddler who’s had his lollipop taken away.  I apologized to the nurse who endured my hysteria and told her about the marker.  She laughed.  I’m glad someone could laugh. Later, I hid all of my permanent markers.  Over time, I think I’ve become too lax.  I’ve stopped hiding stuff.  Today was a reminder that I’ve got to hide things again…things like markers.

Anyway, I’ve decided that along with my Ginsu knives, the permanent markers have their own “special place”….high up…away from little fingers.  So far, the “special place” is a cupboard above the refrigerator that holds all of the things that my boys find appealing…and that cause trouble…like  knives, rubber bands, twine, rope, sharp scissors, balloons, kitchen gloves (don’t ask) and now….permanent markers.

Body shapers are miracle workers!

Body shapers are miracle workers!

O.K., O.K., O.K….several of my friends have emailed me regarding my favorite things, numbers one through five.  I’m officially off “my high horse” for a little while on this blog and back on to the fun stuff.  Here’s the continuation of the list of my most favorite things.

#6  Body Shapers!!!!! – Spanx and Assets by Sara Blakeley.

I cannot say enough about these two “body shapers.”  Let’s just call them for what they are….”suck you in & smooth you out panties.”  Only, they are really a cross between panty hose (with the legs chopped off) and underwear.  I really like the high waisted ones that nearly reach up to under your bra.  I can wear a smaller sized mid-rise jean with these on and there is absolutely no “muffin top.”  Sara Blakeley is the genius who created Spanx, which is sold at department stores like Macy’s and Dillard’s.  I, however, can get her Target brand bodyshaper, Assets, when I’m running through Target picking up soap, Lysol, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure.  Now that’s convenient.  The Assets bodyshaper is just as great as Spanx!

iPod shuffle - cute little contraption

iPod shuffle - cute little contraption

# 7  Ipod Shuffle  – Oh, how I love my little shuffle.  No, I didn’t want the big honkin’ Nano or some big ol’ thing strapped to my arm while I worked out.  Yes, the shuffle was just right for me.  It’s great.  I can load something like 500 songs on this little contraption.  Initially, I wanted it for working out at the gym.  Now, I find myself using it when I have to take my bi-monthly mammoth grocery shopping trip to Walmart or to load up on vast amounts of toliet paper at Costco.  Listening to the Kings of Leon or Muse makes doing the mundane so much more pleasant.  Plus, I can stick the cords underneath my shirt or jacket and place the teensy little shuffle in my pocket.  No one is the wiser.  I love it!!!!!!!!

Find a farmers market!

Find a farmer's market!

# 8  The Farmers’ Market

I know it sounds hokey, but there is nothing better than getting up early on a Saturday morning and heading out to the Farmer’s Market.  I am very blessed to have an awesome Farmer’s Market in downtown Memphis.  You can find beautiful heirloom tomatoes and other seasonal vegetables, jams & jellies, fresh fruit, homemade soaps, and farm fresh cheeses.  I especially love the different varieties of cut flowers for sale for ten to twenty cents a stem.  Sunflowers, purple coneflower, black-eyed susans, Queen Anne’s lace and zinnias in every hue are available for the choosing.  While strolling down the open air aisles, you’ll always hear some kind of music, like bluegrass or celtic.  You can find local bistros showing off their newest vegan or vegetarian dishes or even taste some local organic wines.  Sometimes there are cooking classes or impromptu kid’s activities going on.  I remember that Will participated in a “watermelon roll” last year with a big group of preschoolers.  The prize was an enormous watermelon for the child that made it down the hill first with his or her watermelon intact.  Alas, Will didn’t win…he came in second, but fun was had by all.  I just don’t think there is anything more exciting than coming home from an early morning run down to the Farmer’s Market with a car full of flowers, fragrant lavender soaps, tomatoes, blueberries, green beans, lettuce, and fresh goat cheese.

#9  Vitamin E Oil

I think vitamin E oil is soooo much better than plain ol’ baby oil.  It sinks into your skin much quicker than baby oil and I use it to shave my legs.  My skin always feels so much softer.  I’ve even used it on my babies when they’ve been a little dry.  I’ve mixed it in with some baby lotion (California baby lotion – lavender) to soothe parched skin.  I have several minor scars that have responded quite nicely to vitamin E oil.  My dermatologist says it’s the bomb (not in so many words, but you get the gist).

A guilty pleasure

A guilty pleasure

It doesnt hurt to read for fun...and get a little knowledge, too

It doesn't hurt to read for fun...and get a little knowledge, too

#10  A good book you read for fun!

Whether your obsession is Stephen King, Tom Wolfe, Emily Giffin, Stephenie Meyer, Janet Evanovich, or Nora Roberts….read!  I think reading is a great thing to do.  I’ve spent much of my adult life in school…college, then graduate school, then law school.  For much of that time, I read for knowledge and definitely not for fun.  I am learning to fall in love with reading again.  There is nothing more enjoyable than getting into a good book and immersing myself in the story.  I’ve really enjoyed the Twilight series.  I’ve even read through the books twice!  Even my Guilty Pleasures Book Club has chosen Twilight by Stephenie Meyer as their pick for January.  So fun!!!!  I have taken one of the more voluminous books in the series to the gym and read while on the elliptical machine. One day I had read for an hour on that bad boy and got a major workout.

I also think if you can read for fun and get something educational out of it, that’s even better.  I just read Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.  The book is hilariously written, but very eye-opening regarding the meat industry and a vegan lifestyle.  I’m a vegetarian and have played with the idea of going all the way into being vegan…we’ll see.  I do have to say that I needed some of their “tough love” when it came to nutrition.  It all made sense…at least, for me. Anyway, I’m all for reading for educational & spiritual purposes, but I do think that sometimes a good book should just entertain.

Well, there it is…..my raves for my faves…numbers 6 through 10.  Enjoy!!!!!

If the word “Maw Maw” was in the dictionary, the definition would look something like this:

Maw Maw (pronounced maw maw), Origin:  Southern U.S.

1.  noun:  slang terminology for grandmother; from the slang term “Grandmaw”

2. adjective:  to describe a grandmotherly appearance – ex: short curly perm, wearing of polyester pants and floral blouse;  to describe “grandmotherly” ways or to describe someone who acts too old for their age – ex: driving a Cadillac,  Crown Victoria, Lincoln sedan (any land yacht) before the age of 40.

Being a “Maw Maw” in my home was always right up there with wearing white shoes after Labor Day.  It just wasn’t done.  My mother prided herself on being totally different from her mother.  My mother was a baby boomer and proud of it.  She was hip and cool and she drank wine…good wine…not like her Southern Baptist teetotalling Mama, who was content to watch Lawrence Welk on Saturday night while she crocheted afghans for the church craft fair.  No, my mother, a divorced professional woman, wouldn’t be caught dead doing anything so…well…”maw maw.”

Alas, I have to say that I miss the days of “maw maw.”  Maw Maw is what I called both of my grandmothers.  They were frugal, God-fearing, collard green stewing, crafty, tight curly perm wearin’ women.   Did I happen to mention that I spent most of my time with them?

If my mother had a date, business meeting, unexpected girls’ night out, vacation, etc….Maw Maw was there to keep me.  I can’t tell you how many days and nights that I spent over at Maw Maw’s house.   I helped Maw Maw plant tomatoes, snap beans, grocery shop, and she taught me to sew.  Maw Maw told me that cigarettes were “cancer sticks”  and that beer was “horse piss.”  (My mother smoked and yes, she drank)  Maw Maw made my Easter dress every year.  If I happened to spend the night on a Saturday, it was expected that I’d go to church on Sunday.  Everyone at both Maw Maws’ churches knew me.  It was commonplace at Redeemer Baptist Church for the organist to cue up “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” when I’d appear on a Sunday morning.  The organist knew it was my favorite hymn.  The only time Maw Maw freaked me out was when she told me about how Jesus would come back in the Rapture and take me alive…if I believed in him, got Saved, and made him my Lord and Savior.  I didn’t tell Maw Maw, but I would secretly pray that God would let me go to college first…then He could come get me in the Rapture.

Why this trip down memory lane?  Well, several of my girlfriends and I were lamenting about not having a sitter for one event after another.  Many of us just don’t do dates with our husbands or bookclub as much as we’d like because we can’t find a sitter.  Plus, with the economy in shambles, many of us have opted to forgo sitters all together.  While discussing this issue, one of my friends commented that her mother lived in town…as did mine.  Why had it not occurred to ask Grandma to babysit?  It seems as though it’s far too complicated to hash out.  When my friend and I looked at each other, I knew that we had the same problem.  We didn’t have a “Maw Maw.”

Many of us “X” generation moms just don’t have a “Maw Maw” kind of mom. They don’t want or desire to be anything like their mothers….and this includes babysitting.  Where the baby boomer mom could just drop off little Sally or Johnny for a day, the same baby boomer mom is just not interested in babysitting now that they are the grandparent.  At least, this is what I’m hearing out there.

(OK, if you are the babysitting kind of grandmother…don’t comment or feel compelled to email, etc.  I’ll cover you in a minute.  Bare with me. Thanks!)

I do know of several moms, who are my age, whose mothers are more than content to babysit their grandchildren.  I have one friend in particular, Patti, who does such a phenomenal job as a Grandma that I bet she’d be thrilled to call herself a “Maw Maw.”  I know Patti would wear this title as a badge of honor.

Sadly, I know too many older women who just never felt like they were “old enough” to be a grandmother…not at 55, not at 60, not at 65.  It’s almost like some women think that the moment they become a grandmother it will suck the lifeblood out of them.  Like grandchildren will become some drain on their fleeting youth.

Some grandparents require two weeks notice before babysitting or refuse to do it at all.  I even know someone who has had her mother cancel on so many occasions at the last minute, that it’s just not worth it to ask anymore.  Another friend of mine, almost lost her job because her mother backed out of their agreed paid childcare arrangement when she was a mere two weeks into a new job and no other childcare could be found.  She finally found an opening at a Mother’s Day Out program at the last minute.

I have one friend in particular who told me that her mother came to visit her and chose not to spend any time with her grandchildren.  Instead, she wanted to shop with her daughter and go out to dinner – all sans grandchildren.  My friend was upset because she felt like her children missed out on being with their grandmother.  I told her that it was the other way around.  Her mother was the one who missed out.

Am I saying that grandparents should babysit?  Absolutely not.  I’m just saying that there are benefits…on both ends…of having a relationship with extended family members.  It helps everyone out.  I know that plenty of us, “X gen’s” listened to our parents advice as they told us:

“Have fun in your 20’s, don’t get married ’till you’re 30, and you can take as long as you want to have kids!”

Not so great advice, Mom & Dad!  Thanks to all of your party lovin’ groovy advice, we’ll be spread thin by the time we’re 50!  We’ll have college to pay for when we should be worrying about retirement…and we’ll have to care for aging parents.  Sandwich generation?  No, call us the pressure cooker generation.  I’m just saying that it would be nice to feel more gracious about what we have to face down the road if the extended family was more deeply rooted.

I also believe that  “do overs” don’t come very often.  We can get the chance, as parents, to parent well with our own children.  If we are fortunate, we can learn from our mistakes and do things better (patience, love, understanding, fun) when we welcome grandchildren into our lives.

Ameriprise Financial Services has a t.v. ad spot featuring Dennis Hopper.  Mr. Hopper and all of the baby boomers are dressed in black leather jackets throwing pottery on a wheel and listening to acid rock.   The ad discusses the “alternative” retirement options for their intended audience.  It can’t be mistaken that the ad doesn’t picture any of the elderly audience surrounded by family and grandchildren.  Instead, the actors are portrayed as living out in Arizona…alone….being creative and hip.  Definitely not “maw maw.”  No, way, man!

Sophistication has its place, but you can seriously miss a lot in life when you are so “grown up” that you can’t relish children.  It’s not botox that keeps you young.  Wearing a Nicole Miller ensemble won’t do that for you, either.  Listening to the latest music doesn’t make you cool.   Throwing pottery on a wheel or listening to the Grateful Dead won’t do the trick.  Youth is fleeting.

I have three sons.  I love them.  I like them as people.  I love being a mother.  I definitely look forward to having grandchildren…but, hey, I really like kids.  Kids keep you young.  Kids know how to really have fun.  I think being a “Maw Maw” will be great.

So I have to ask:  When did becoming a “Maw Maw” become passe?  I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answer to that.

Simply hilarious

Simply hilarious

When I graduated from law school several years ago, I can honestly say that I never pictured myself driving a minivan.  I thought that after becoming a lawyer, I’d drive a Volvo or maybe an Audi.  Never a minivan.  Not ever.  However, when my husband and I started our family, I didn’t care much about style.  I needed room…and lots of it.  First, I had a station wagon.  That wasn’t so bad.  When the third baby came along, I knew that I needed the dreaded minivan.  It was a surprise that I, like so many people before me, came to love the van.  It was great.  I had enough seating for three car seats, two strollers and room for all of the other stuff that comes along with having three preschoolers.

My minivan is an American breed that gets me where I need to go.

However, I have a confession….

My van is a total pigsty.  I’m serious.  When I pick up my son from school after lunch, his teachers insist upon opening the van door for him and chatting with me until he is safely buckled in.  I’m usually embarrassed because during the course of my day, I have thrown the other two boys in the van with drinks, pretzels, animal crackers, etc.  The remnants of the snacks are scattered about the floorboard.

Well, today was the day I decided to clean out the van.  Here is a list of the things I found:

1.  An umbrella stroller:  located at the bottom of the back compartment, it would’ve been nice to know that was in there instead of hauling George on my hip and carrying three bags like a pack mule.

2.  Dried up french fries:  if anyone with kids says that they don’t have these in some crack in the seat of their car, they’re lying.

3.  Baby nail clippers

4.  Package of unopened wipes:  Woo Hoo!  That’s like finding gold.

5.   Burt’s Bees Lip Balm:  I knew it’d turn up…see recent post on my favorite things

6.  Power Ranger action figure:  I think it’s supposed to be the one that turns into a wolf or a tiger…I don’t know about Power Ranger Jungle Fury versus Power Ranger Ninja Storm…whatever.

7.  Slimy frog toy that is supposed to stick against the wall when thrown (now covered in lint):  Will “won” this at school for a week’s worth of  good behavior.  Why, oh, why must teachers send this crap home as a “prize”?  Like throwing a slimy frog against the walls at home won’t get Will in timeout?

8.  Individual Goldfish package wrappers:  if I had a dime for every empty wrapper found in the van…

9.  Empty Clinique lipstick tube:  Very strange that it’s empty…no lipstick to be found.  Where did it go?  Weird.

10.  Empty Diet Coke can

11.  Broken yellow umbrella

12.  One navy blue Sea Wees baby sandal:  thought we’d lost this on our last trip to the beach.  It makes me sad to look at it.  George’s foot was so tiny!

13.  Brown Bear, Brown Bear..What do you see? book

14.  Shinguard from soccer this past fall

15.  Map of South Carolina:  No, we don’t have GPS.

16.  Artwork from Vacation Bible Schol:  This explains why my sons all have glitter on their face from time to time

17.  Jack’s raincoat:  He never wears it…Jack would prefer to run out in the rain, face up, with his mouth open.

18.  Orange swim goggles

19.  $2.34 in loose change

20.  Small bottle of hand sanitizer:  I gave up using this stuff a long time ago.

21.  Extension cord:  Makes absolutely no sense why this is in the van.

22.  Batman mask

23.  Invitation to a “Benefit Gala” …black tie:  As if I can find a sitter in time to attend this.  In fact, I think that all of my sitters are not returning my calls.  Just a hunch.

24.  Lynyrd Skynrd CD:  Note to self – hide this from the boys unless I want to hear “Freebird” over and over and over and over…

25.  Box of old, hard raisins:  so much for eatin’ healthy while on the run

26.  Soccer ball

27.  Bike pump

28.  Pair of 2T khaki pants:  these were the “emergency pants” for the van.  I need a bigger size to replace them now…like a size 4T…how time flies.

29.  “Things to do list” from Christmas:  So, that’s where that went….

30.  Church bulletin

31.  Card for free chicken biscuit from Chick-fil-A

32.  Unopened bottle of orange Gatorade

That’s it, folks.  The van is clean.  By the time I load up the kids in the van next week, I am sure that it will need to be cleaned out again.  That’s just the way it is with three little ones.  We’re always bringing home artwork, crafts, food…you name it.  I’m not going to beat myself up about how clean my van is.  I’ll try to clean it out when I can.

As to the empty tube of lipstick….

I found it.  When I was cleaning out the van, I didn’t notice that the lipstick had hardened and slid out of the metal tube and onto the floorboard.  Well, when I sat on the edge of the van to vacuum underneath the driver’s seat…I sat smack on top of the gooey lipstick.  Great.  Just great.

Porn steals your mojo, baby!

Porn steals your mojo, baby!

It seems like this week I am having to write caveats before each blog entry.  I wonder if it’s because I’m feelin’ a little feisty.  Hmmmm.  Here’s today’s caveat:

I have a rated “G” blog.  It may be PG-13 sometimes, but it’s pretty innocent…more or less.  However, I’ve got to get this out there before I blow a fuse.

I HATE PORN!

The “adult film industry” (oh, just call it for what it is…p-o-r-n!  Gimme a break!) has just asked our government for a bailout.  I don’t know why they need money to bail themselves out.  They don’t deserve it.  The American people deserve a freakin’ bailout…not the porn industry.  I heard this today on the radio while taking my son to the pediatrician.  My nerves were already on edge because I couldn’t sleep hearing my baby cough all night.  Now, my blood was boiling listening to this crap.  It got me thinking about porn and the reasons that I hate it.

By the way, let me go ahead and do some “house cleaning” before I start my rant. Yes, I’m a Christian.  Yes, I live in a “red state.”   Yes, I consider myself a “feminist” of sorts and I don’t believe that the previous statements are necessarily mutually exclusive.  So, sue me.

Here are my top reasons for hating the porn industry:

1. Porn steals your mojo.

What is “mojo”?  Remember what happened to Austin Powers when Dr. Evil stole Austin’s “mojo”?  Austin Powers was no longer his hip self.   Austin just didn’t have the “drive.”  Poor Austin was no longer a “super spy” capable of gaining top secret information using his “sexual energy.”  Austin’s famous “mojo” was Britain’s answer to counterintelligence.

In other words, “mojo” is  your “want to”…your libido.  According to Steven Arterburn & Fred Stoeker, authors of Every Man’s Battle, watching porn can severely inhibit men from having sexual intimacy with their wives.   This is a fairly common problem…and it makes me blazin’ mad.

If you really think about it, it makes perfect sense that when someone’s sexual energy is being diverted away from their spouse, they just don’t need the other person.  Remember when you first fell in love?  Remember the chemistry?  Each touch sent your blood racing.  Yes, I think there are ebbs and flows in relationships, but the initial attraction doesn’t have to change.  The only difference is that attraction, in the beginnning, had a lot to do with your exclusivity.   What I mean is that in the beginning, you only had eyes for your mate.  Porn pries your eyes…and your desire away.

Plus, it infuriates me that society paints married women as creatures who don’t need or want sex as much as their husbands.  Men are always being portrayed as needing and wanting sex and their wives think it’s a chore.  This simply is not true.  I know plenty of married women who are absolutely hot for their husbands.  They love their husbands and love to spend time with them.  I’m one of them.  In a healthy marriage, husbands and wives desire each other…mutually and exclusively.  Porn is like an intrusive third party whose only wish is to divide the couple.  This is something that I truly believe.

#2  Who can live up to these images?

Look, I think I’m fairly attractive.  I still find time to look cute when my husband and I go out on a date.  My husband also makes every effort to look nice for me.  However, I don’t know any woman, whether you are in your 20’s or not, who can live up to these silicone-injected, airbrushed, enhanced, sprayed-on tanned women.  Even if I had thousands of dollars to spend on plastic surgery, I don’t know if I would do it.

There’s just more to me than my looks.  I hope that the men I have dated and the man I married cared more about what kind of person I am than my cup size.  I am smart.  I am goofy and I like to laugh…a lot.  I’m spontaneous.  I forgive easily.  I like all kinds of people.  I am a Christian and came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior several years ago…still, God and I wrestle over ideas about why bad things happen to good people.  I think I’m uncomplicated, but the truth is that I have my difficult moments.  I definitely have my fair share of problems. However, there is much more to me than my body.

What voyeurs of porn fail to realize is that these actresses (and actors) put their clothes on after each steamy scene…they go grocery shopping…get sick…pump gas…have a life outside of some sound stage.  I’ve even read where most of these actors and actresses suffer some sort of substance abuse or addiction.  It is common knowledge that many of these actresses were sexually abused as children and/or were runaways.

#3  What arrogant jerks to ask our government for a bailout.

The porn industry should not get a bailout.  I can think of 101 things to do with government money.  Here’s a sample:

Improve our school system by supplying free tutors to each child who needs after school help in any subject, give everyone a check for $2,500 to spend on clothes and food…tax free, fund college tuition programs, treat every child with cancer and their families to a free trip to Disney World, treat every American to $500 of free groceries, fund research for cancer, Alzeheimers, multiple sclerosis, ALS, AIDS/HIV, diabetes, fund HeadStart programs, fund programs to end our dependence on foreign oil…my list goes on and on. Believe me when I say that there are far more important things to fund than porn.

#4  The porn industry is sneaky

I don’t like sneaky people.  The porn industry has gotten deals with hotels to put their smut on televisions in hotel rooms.  The porn industry has also put their crap within inches from magazines that my sons will eventually want to read (like magazines about motorcycles, X-games, monster trucks).  I hate it that my husband is bombarded by these images when he travels.  I especially hate it that he has to guard his heart and his eyes by avoiding this crap everywhere he turns because he loves me and doesn’t want to think of anyone else but me.  I hate it that my sons could get pulled into this lurid world just by seeing some horrible image at someone else’s home or in a grocery store.

However, the porn industry knows that by teasing people who are lonely and vulnerable in some way…they can get them hooked.

Porn gives men a false promise of intimacy.  In reality, these women wouldn’t want them.  If some man could bring home a porn star, she’d demand all of the same stuff that every other woman demands…. a man that comes home every night from a full-time job, a stocked pantry, gas in the minivan, and the bills paid.  I can guarantee you that she wouldn’t be some nympho in the bed every night, either.  I’d be willing to bet that if most men brought home one of these women, they’d find her in bed by 10:00 p.m. in flannel pajamas watching David Letterman.  I think it’d be a disappointment to these guys…but, I’d love to see it.  Wouldn’t you?!

Porn, I’d like to say something to you as an industry.  I’m on to you.  I have a husband and three boys.  I love the men in my life and I want to help them have clean hearts.  I want my boys to find women that they can love, adore and cherish.  For the sake of my future daughters-in-law, I plan to keep an eye out for this insidious monster called porn.

For all of the aforementioned reasons, I hate you, porn.  You are disgusting and I wish you would go away forever.

Warning:  This is not a rant.  My blog is supposed to be fun, observational humor about life as an ex-professional turned stay-at-home mom.  This entry is not some serious commentary on gender relations or anything of the sort.  With this caveat, I will continue…

I don’t understand why most women feel the need to ask for permission instead of forging ahead and doing what they feel must be done.  I know that this is a generalization, but bare with me.  I have never really given this idea much thought until the other day when I advised a close friend.  I told her, “You know…it’s really easier to ask for forgiveness later than ask for permission first.”

This advice just came pouring out of my mouth like I had always known it to be true.  I think my husband told this to me one time and I filed it away, only to retrieve it when the occasion presented itself.

My friend, Martha,  told me that she did not like one of her colleagues.  Martha is a very bright, funny, beautiful woman who is extremely capable …and I think …is highly qualified for the job that she is currently in.   Everyone likes Martha and Martha likes everyone.  I knew there was a problem when she said this to me.  Martha and I have lunch and our kids play together.  While on a play date, she told me that she is in the unique position, as a business owner, that she really doesn’t have to report to anyone.  Martha is autonomous as a franchise owner of a small retail store.   I’ve been in Martha’s store and it is an extremely well-run business.  Martha is great doing what she does, even in this poor economy.

As a franchise owner, Martha could really do as she wishes, but she confessed the need to report to someone…anyone.   Unfortunately, Martha needlessly asked her franchise manager to look over some of her advertising expenditures.  Now, Martha has set an unnecessary precedent.  The franchise manager now wants to exert more control where none was needed…or wanted.  As we sat there watching our kids play, I could relate.

It wasn’t that long ago that I practiced law.  There were days that I had to “find work” to do.  It’s not that lawyering leaves you with leisure time on your hands.  It’s just that you are in a strange position that you must chart out what steps to take to achieve an end result.  Some days are busier than others.  For me, I was accustomed to having every minute of my day planned for me prior to law school.

I spent six years as a special education teacher before going to law school.  I was used to having every minute planned…including my bathroom breaks.  As a teacher, you don’t have lunch hours, at least you don’t count the time you are hunched over a lunch tray sitting at a table watching your students eat while you scarf down mystery meat and a roll. When I taught, I had to ask permission for each penny I spent on my class, if I could swap out bus duty, whether or not I could take a sick day, and if someone could watch my class for five minutes while I went to the bathroom.  Asking permission was mandatory, not a courtesy.  Teaching is still a female dominated profession.  I wonder if this makes a difference….

In the law and other male dominated professions, no one really thinks to ask permission.  Once I entered the field of law, I remember feeling like I needed to tell someone where I was going at lunch and the need to only be gone for exactly sixty minutes.  I let my secretary know if I would be gone for twenty minutes down to the courthouse or if I needed to spend ten dollars on a package of legal pads.  Finally, my secretary told me one day that it wasn’t really necessary to tell her every move that I was making.  She was appreciative that I was so diligent and that I had such a great work ethic, but she felt she needed to “let me off the hook.”  After that, I felt lost.  I called my husband (also a lawyer) at his office and whispered into the phone, “They don’t care where I am going or what I spend!  What’s with that?”  I remember him laughing and saying, “You’re a friggin’ lawyer, for Pete’s sake.”  Oh, yeah.

Why is it so hard for women to just act…instead of seeking permission first?  I don’t know the answer to that.  I’ve always thought of myself as someone who is slightly rebellious to start with.  I have ADHD (which was diagnosed in law school, although I always knew it deep down) and have the natural tendency to act first…then apologize later.  However, it appears that my hard wiring as a female keeps some of my ADHD symptoms in check.   I’m just not sure.

I think the permission thing, for me, goes back to experiences that I have had working for female bosses.  I have had one good experience and several “not so good” experiences.  The bosses that are the most difficult to work for are the ones who feel it is their job to micro-manage.  I call these people “hall monitors.”  Almost every female boss that I’ve had has been a “hall monitor.”  (again…excuse the generalization…in my case…this is totally true)  Rarely, have I known a male “hall monitor.”

“Hall monitors” were those people in school that loved to tattle and obey the rules at all costs.  “Hall monitors” are always chosen to “watch the class” while the teacher steps out.  I was never a “hall monitor.”  I despise “hall monitors.”  If your job is one that requires a certain level of autonomy, working with a “hall monitor” can severely inhibit your ability to do your job effectively.  Plus, you spend an inordinate amount of time wanting to punch them in the face…or that may just be me.

I remember one time that I worked for a “hall monitor.”  I was in a unique position that I didn’t need to report to anyone, but I made the fatal mistake of asking, needlessly, for permission from my “hall monitor” superior.  This set things in motion where from then on, I was expected to run every decision by the “hall monitor.”  My creativity and my autonomy was zapped.

I began to think about permission, accountability, and autonomy.  Would a man in my position so long ago have asked for permission where none was needed?  Probably not.  Would it have been expected for a male executive to even go to his superior and get advice or ask for some sort of accountability?  I really doubt it.

In the wake of these questions, I just don’t think we, as women, should always assume permission is needed…especially when no one has asked for it in the first place.   This is what men do.  Why should it be any different?

Like most women, I seek permission before I do certain things instead of just doing it….”it” being a number of things.  Well, I’m over “it.”  Yes, I’m not in the workplace right now, but eventually I will return.  I don’t think this is a phenomena exclusive to the workplace, either.

It’s just something I’ve been pondering.  It makes my blood boil and gets me fired up.  Like I’ve said…maybe it’s just my nature..my personality.

I’ve decided one thing:  I don’t need “no stinkin’ permission any more!”  Who’s with me?!

“Hey!  Don’t you know that juice boxes are for drinking…not for hurling at your brother?!”  This is what came flying out of my mouth as I treated Will’s black eye with an ice pack last Sunday.  Jack and Will were “play fighting” and things quickly got out of hand.  With boys, it’s like they start out playing nice, then the testosterone kicks in and suddenly they’re in a frenzy.   Anyway, I realized after the incident that I have said the most ridiculous things within the past week to my sons.  Here is a sample of some of the things that have flown out of my mouth:

1.  Juice boxes are for drinking..not for hurling at your brother.

2.  Yes, I did know that Jesus loves Spiderman.

3.  No, you cannot eat things that fall on the floor of Chick-fil-A…and no, I don’t care if it’s only been on the floor for five seconds.

4.  You may not stand in the window naked. (I pronounce this word “nekkid”)

5.  Maybe Daddy will take you on his next business trip. (This is said while child is having a temper tantrum)

6.  Yes, Daddy is a lawyer.  Mommy is a lawyer, too…I’m just at home with you guys right now.  (This is said to unbelieving children)

7.  Stop making farting noises in the van.

8.  Eating green beans will not turn you green.

9.  No, I will not drive “real fast” down this hill so that your stomach will do a “flip flop.”  Plus, there’s a policeman at the bottom of the hill…we’ll try it later.

10.  Your teachers do not live at school…they are people, too.  Yes, they live in houses just like we do.

11.  It won’t kill you to drink a glass of milk.

12.  Fruit roll-ups don’t count as a fruit serving.

13.  Big boys always brush their hair before going to school.

14.  Stop making faces at the people in the cars behind us.

15.  Yea!!!!!  Good job on wearing big boy underwear!

There’s more to come…..

Juice boxes are for drinking...not for hurling

"Juice boxes are for drinking...not for hurling"

Lipstick can convey many moods

Lipstick can convey many moods

“Go put on some lipstick…it’ll make you feel better.”  This little piece of sage advice is the one thing that my mother has offered me when I’ve called her sharing some great tragedy (fought with friend, break up with boyfriend, fiance calls off wedding, fired from job, get sick).  I know how it sounds when I’ve told people that this is what my mother has offered me to pull me through situations.  However, as I look back …it’s really not bad as far as advice goes.

Being a southern girl, makeup is taken quite seriously.  I went to college and joined a sorority where it was practically a felony to leave your dorm room without a “painted face.”  In fact, it was commonplace to see girls power walking around campus, pony tails swinging, wearing greek letters…all with perfect makeup that would make Miss South Carolina jealous. As a natural blonde (complete with blonde eyelashes & eyebrows) with fair skin, makeup is not a luxury, but a necessity.  Without a little mascara and lipstick, I can easily look like the walking dead.  I’d love to be that girl who can throw on some jeans and brush her hair before walking out the door.  However, that is a dream that will never come true for me.  My mother is very aware of my shortcomings.

The first time my mother gave me her “lipstick lecture” I was in college and my boyfriend (I’ll call him Jake, but really his initials are WBB..that no-good #@$%er)  broke up with me to date some mousy brunette that wore Birkenstocks and tie dye…sans makeup.  I was so depressed that I spent several days locked in my room with five pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream watching Rob Lowe and Demi Moore in About Last Night (it was the early 90’s). When my mother called to see how I was doing, she decided to give me a big dose of tough love.  She told me to make the scoundrel regret his decision.  My mother further advised me to clean myself up, go for a brisk walk, put on something cute….and “wear some lipstick for Pete’s sake.”  I took my mother’s advice.  After several days, I got the courage to dress up and “run into” Jake at his place of employment – the Gap.  Before entering the Gap, I made sure I had on a lipstick that would show off my tan – a frosted pink called “Showgirl.”  I sauntered into the place and said “hello” with an aloofness that would make Angelina Jolie look like a cheerleader with ADHD.  I bought a t-shirt before leaving.  Later that evening, I got a very unexpected call.  Jake said that his co-workers couldn’t imagine why he dumped me to go out with someone else.  Jake then said, “You looked really hot!  Wanna go with me to see my roommate’s band on Saturday night?”

Hmmmm.  I looked at myself in the mirror with my pink frosted lips and savored the moment before I told him, “There’s no way in hell I’d go out with you ever again.”  I hung up the phone.  I placed the tube of  “Showgirl” in a special drawer.  Unfortunately, I had cause to retrieve the lipstick only two years later.   After Jake, I began dating my college sweetheart.  We were engaged during my senior year of college.  He broke up with me three months before we were to get married.  I cried and cried…then decided after taking a long hot shower and putting on some makeup that I didn’t want anyone who didn’t want me…so forget him.  I would survive and did.  I spent one memorable night with a group of my girlfriends at a karaoke bar.  I smeared on some “Showgirl” and got up on the stage.  I confessed to the packed audience (probably while slurring my words) that my fiance broke up with me before singing a truly awful rendition of “I will survive” that inspired every girl to get out on the dancefloor.  By the end of the evening, our group of six girls had turned into a group of thirty five women laughing, singing and dancing.  I think that every man in the place secretly blamed me for ruining their evening.  Oh, well…

Several years later when I was in my late twenties, my best friend from childhood, Nancy, flew from Manhattan to Atlanta to visit me as a last “hurrah” before I set off for law school.  Nancy and I had a blast one Saturday afternoon before going out on the town.  We decided to sit at the MAC counter at Saks and have a “lip makeover.”  Nancy was feeling a bit dangerous and decided to go with a deep burgundy shade called “Carnal.”  I liked something a bit lighter and bought a tube of lipstick in a pinkish-red color called “Bombshell.”  After buying our lipsticks, we headed out for a night in Buckhead.  We had a great time and joked that it was all due to our new lipstick.  I celebrated the beginning of my legal career with “Bombshell” and that night I felt like one.

It was in my last year of law school that my mother offered me the same advice that she offered me in college….”Put on some lipstick, it’ll make you feel better!”  I was very unsure of myself and my future.  I had an interview for a clerkship and I felt that I wasn’t the most qualified candidate.  I asked my mother, half-joking, what shade of lipstick I should wear to the interview.   My mother responded with utmost seriousness.  In a lowered hushed voice, my mother said that I needed , “Red.  Blood red.  Chanel Red…  It invokes confidence.”  With only forty-five minutes to spare before my interview, I ran into Dillard’s department store and threw thirty dollars across the counter and blurted out “Give me red!  Chanel Red!  STAT!”  I opened the box and dabbed it on my lips.  I inhaled deeply before going into my job interview and exuded the confidence of which my mother promised me would be found in that tube of lipstick.  I  got the job.

Now, I sit here as the mother of three small boys.  I am tired.  I don’t have alot of time to spend on looking my best…or so that’s what I’ve been thinking.  I go to the gym and eat healthy.  I’ve managed to lose some weight and have been wanting to feel and look better.  The other day, I took a long look in the mirror.  I decided that maybe looking good and feeling good are complementary feelings.  If I feel good on the inside, why not try to look my best?  So, I resolved this year to put my best “face” forward.

This is what I did just last week.  My husband had been out of town on business and was due to arrive back in town Friday night.  We had planned to take the kids and go out to dinner.  I decided that instead of meeting him in my trusty velour sweatsuit,  I’d put forth some effort.  I pulled out a great black turtleneck sweater, jeans, and some boots.  The shade of lipstick I wore was “Nutmeg”…good for winter.  I’ll just say that all of the effort was greatly appreciated.  ‘Nuff said.

My dilemma is that I’m not sure what shade I need right now at this time.  You see, “Nutmeg” can get a little boring if I wear it too much.   I think I need a trip to the MAC counter.  I’m feelin’ very “Girl About Town” these days.  However, who knows what circumstances will call for “Lady Danger” or “Frou Frou.”

What I do know is that a good lipstick can make you feel better.  It may be all in your head, but who cares.  It’s a cheap fix and one that’ll add a little color to your face.  So go put on some lipstick…it’ll make you feel better!

Kiss My Face Honey & Calendula lotion is the bomb

Kiss My Face Honey & Calendula lotion is the bomb

I live 20 to 30 minutes away from Whole Foods.  This is a tragedy for me because I love to find great products at natural food stores.   I was scheduled for a volunteer shift last Sunday afternoon and found myself minutes away from Whole Foods.  It was then that I realized that I have several products that I can’t live without and I better stock up.  Then it hit me…if Oprah can have a show dedicated to all of her favorite things/products…why can’t I blog about mine?  Blogs are pretty self-indulgent, anyway…so here  goes:

#1 – Honey & Calendula Lotion by Kiss My Face – This is the only lotion that hydrates my parched skin.  I’ve never found anything that works better.  I only wish that they sold this lotion by the gallon.

#2  – Burt’s Bees Lip Balm – I have at least five tubes floating around.  There’s one that I keep in my purse, one in my makeup drawer, one in a kitchen drawer, one in my van, and one that will reappear at a moment’s notice…eventually.  This stuff is awesome and can now be found at Walmart.

#3 – Frownies – These things are miracle workers.  Seriously.  Cheaper than botox and just as effective.  I have this stubborn deep wrinkle between my eyes caused by refusing to wear reading glasses and from being constantly confused.  They look like little stickers on brown paper that you wet and stick on the wrinkle.  After three hours, the wrinkle begins to disappear.  I love these things.  Finding them is the hard part.  I’ve only found them at Steinmart.  Good luck hunting them.

# 4 – Trapp Candles (especially No. 13 – Bob’s Flower Shoppe) – I love good candles.  I burn them every day.  I’m not joking.  I like for my house to smell wonderful.  I’m not a big fan of candles that smell like food (apple pie, pumpkin, coffee, peaches), but I’ll burn them when I have nothing else.  I do love lavender, sage, woodsy scents, etc.  I think Trapp has the best arrangements of scents when it comes to candles.  Bob’s Flower Shoppe reminds me of a flower shop that I used to frequent when I was in college.  I’d step in on a Friday afternoon and buy a little bouquet of fresia and stock flowers to arrange in vases throughout my little apartment.   It always smelled so good.  Trapp Candle No. 13 is perfect for spring time.  Lemongrass really smells great for summer and Water is wonderful for anytime.

#5 – Target – Surprise!  Yes, I know I started out this blog saying that Whole Foods was so wonderful, yada, yada, yada.  Well, I have to admit that Target is one of my most favorite things/places.  As a stay-at-home mother of three small children, I don’t even have to explain why I love this discount chain store.  The prices are great, but I never, ever, ever feel cheated when I buy something from here.  It isn’t like going to Walmart.  In fact, I hate going to Walmart so much that there are times when I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than go there.  Target is different in that I really don’t mind buying clothes, makeup, shoes, underwear, anything really…from there.  The quality isn’t bad and the stuff is just downright cute.   Target is a happy place.  Where else can I get a Starbuck’s coffee while I shop?  Not bad.

That’s it for now.  These are my top 5.  I do have more, but not enough time to write it tonight.  Maybe later.  Now go out and get some of that lotion and burn a candle…

Its a three ring circus over here

It's a three ring circus over here

It’s Sunday and we’ve survived the day.  It’s a miracle that we even get to church at all considering the craziness that ensues every Sunday morning.  My husband is back from his business trip and we are trying to get back to “normal.”  Normal means going to church on Sunday, including Sunday School.  When people see us unload our crew from our minivan on Sunday morning, we are a frazzeled bunch.   I half jokingly tell people that it’s a three ring circus at our home on Sunday.  Today went something like this:

Saturday @ midnight (officially Sunday) : Mommy lays out everyone’s clothes to make it easier for Sunday morning.  Mommy goes to bed.

6:00 a.m. – Daddy hits the snooze button

6:30 a.m. – Daddy hits the snooze button…again.

7:00 a.m. – Daddy turns the alarm off.   (We are now running late…let the craziness now begin….)

7:45 a.m.- Jack & Will run into Mommy & Daddy’s room & proceed to pounce on sleeping parents.

7:50 a.m. – Daddy gets up and realizes that he is to be at church early because he is helping with the offering and freaks out.  Family must be at church by 9:45 a.m.

8:00 a.m. – Daddy gets Will, Jack & George into the shower for a “quick soap up and rinse.”  Mommy makes up parent’s bed and places boys’ clothes on top of the comforter.

8:15 a.m. – Daddy hands boys off to Mommy.  Daddy gets into shower.  Mommy dries off each boy in assembly line fashion and gets them dressed accordingly.  Will whines that he wants to wear the blue sweater and not the yellow one.   Boys brush teeth.

8:30 a.m. – Will & Jack go downstairs to watch Max & Ruby on Noggin.  George stays in Mommy & Daddy’s room while Daddy gets dressed in bedroom and Mommy goes into shower.  Jack sneeks back upstairs to change from his church clothes into a Spiderman costume.

8:35 a.m. – George finds sippy cup full of juice in Will’s room and unscrews the top.  George pours juice down the front of his outfit before running into Daddy.  George clings to Daddy’s leg with wet clothes.  Daddy’s pants are now saturated with sticky apple juice.  Daddy & George must change clothes.

8: 40 a.m. – Mommy is putting on makeup, but must stop to help Daddy find another outfit for George.  Mommy finds Jack in closet dressed as Spiderman…with cowboy boots.  Jack doesn’t see what the fuss is all about and announces that “Jesus loves Spiderman.”

8:45 a.m. – While Daddy changes clothes, Mommy changes George.  Mommy convinces Jack that “Yes, Jesus loves Spiderman, but Spiderman’s mask is in the wash, so let’s wear something else.”  Jack agrees and changes back into his original outfit.  Mommy sends Jack back downstairs and resumes getting ready.

8:50 a.m. – Mommy and Daddy hear screaming coming from downstairs.  Will comes upstairs with a black eye.  Will and Jack were “play fighting” and things quickly got out of hand.  Jack has hit his big brother in the eye with a juice box.  Will’s eye has started to swell.   Mommy must abandon attempt to put on hose to get an ice pack for Will’s eye.  Daddy has put Jack in “time out.”

9:03 a.m. – Jack’s time is up in “time out.”  Jack tells Will he is “sorry.”  However, Will’s eye is swelling and it is official…he will go to church with a “shiner.”

9:07 a.m. – Mommy finally has clothes on, but realizes that there is no time to “do her hair.”  It looks like a ponytail day for Mommy.  Daddy is downstairs getting the diaper bag ready when he announces that this would be a great day to get doughnuts.  Boys all scream with delight.

9:10 a.m. – Mommy pokes herself in the eye while rushing to put on mascara.  Mommy’s eye will not stop watering.  Mommy throws on a pair of black sling back pumps.

9:11 a.m. – Because Mommy is blind from sticking the mascara wand in her eye, she can’t see and gets her heel gets caught at the top of the stairs.  Mommy falls as she is descending the stairs, ripping a huge hole in her hose.  Mommy must change her hose…and shoes because her heel broke.

9:12 a.m. – Mommy yells to Daddy to “Get the kids in the van!  Strap ’em in!  I’ll be there in a minute!”

9:13 a.m. – Mommy wonders why the kids couldn’t have just had a freakin’ cereal bar and juice this morning.

9:15 a.m. – Mommy has changed clothes and is running down the stairs…with different shoes in hand.

9:16 a.m. – Mommy is in the van and tells Daddy to “Haul it to the doughnut shop!”

9:20 a.m. – Mommy is ordering doughnuts and is obsessing about whether or not she unplugged the curling iron.

9:22 a.m. – Mommy asks Daddy whether they should swing back by the house to make sure that she unplugged the curling iron.  Daddy winces.

9:40 a.m. – Everyone has had a nutritious breakfast of milk and doughnuts – the breakfast of champions.  Mommy and Daddy load everyone back into the van.  Daddy has agreed to go back home, so Mommy can check to see if she unplugged the curling iron.

9:48 a.m. – Mommy feels like an idiot because she did unplug the curling iron.  Mommy wonders if she has obsessive-compulsive disorder.   Suddenly, Mommy smells poop wafting from the backseat.  Mommy looks behind her and notices that George has a hand full of brown “mud.”  (This is definitely not mud, folks)  Mommy tells Daddy to pull back into the driveway.  Mommy instructs Daddy to go on to church with Will and Jack, as she will meet him there in a second.

10:15 a.m. – Mommy is at church with a clean baby.  George had an “accident” and had to be bathed and changed (again).

10: 20 a.m. – Mommy must check George into the church nursery.  The church nursery rivals the Pentagon with its security clearance procedures.

10: 35 a.m. – Mommy plops down on a church pew.  (The service started at 10:15)  Mommy is very, very tired.  Mommy asks the Lord to forgive her for saying bad words before church and wanting to sleep during the soloists’ performance of “Amazing Grace.”  Mommy finds a half-wrapped mint in the bottom of her purse covered in lint and debates whether to eat it or not.  Someone interrupts her thoughts to comment on how nice the children look today.  Mommy laughs like a crazy lady…

10:45 a.m. – Mommy gives in and eats the lint-covered mint because she is hungry.  She didn’t eat at the doughnut shop due to worrying about the curling iron.

11:00 a.m. – Mommy is nudged by Daddy because she dozed off during the sermon.

11:15 a.m. – Mommy goes to nursery to pick up the boys.

11:30 a.m. – Off to eat lunch.  Woo Hoo!!!!!  We actually made it through another Sunday morning.

Santa gave me an Ipod for Christmas.  I was thrilled.  My husband got one, too.  We spent the better part of Christmas day loading them with songs off iTunes.  It was a blast.  What I wasn’t prepared for was how choosing songs for my playlist would make me feel.  I loved it!!!  I discovered some new bands that I would never have known about since I spend the better part of my day in a minivan with the same five CD’s on heavy rotation (Jimmy Buffett, Charlie Brown Christmas, Dan Zanes, Raffi, music from Curious George).

I discovered that I still love alternative rock, although I haven’t allowed myself to really listen to the genre in years.  The Kings of Leon are a new discovery.  They are incredible and I’ve loved listening to Use Somebody, Closer and Sex On Fire over and over.  Its explicit and I know it, but I adore Saving Abel’s “Addicted.”  I totally get into Linkin Park, Muse and Paramore.

Some music revives memories from high school and gets me dancing all over the house (much to the chagrin of my five year old).  As I go through my playlist, I  remember how much I used to love the Cure, Violent Femmes, Squeeze and the Police.  I remember a group of us at 17, dancing around and singing “Tempted by the fruit of another….tempted but the truth is discovered…what’s been going on since you’ve been gone.”  We sang the lyrics by Squeeze like we had some understanding of the song, even though we had no real idea of it’s meaning.  Our clique was just too cool to actually like Bon Jovi or Whitney Houston, so we embraced bands like Alphaville and the Dead Milkmen.  It makes me laugh and I adore remembering it all.

Because no one can hear what I am listening to, I can listen in privacy to certain “guilty pleasures.”  What are those “guilty pleasures” you may ask?  Try Amy Winehouse’s song “You know that I’m no good”, “Standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand” by the Primitive Radio Gods,  and “Miss You” by the Rolling Stones.   I’ll go ahead and admit it…I also loaded “Hot in Herre” by Nelly (it’s great for the gym….O.K., O.K…I actually happen to dance by myself to this one, if I am being totally honest…so, shoot me).

In retrospect, I think I love my Ipod and my playlist because it reminds me that I’m still a pretty cool girl.   I’ve always been a little bit of a rebel…it’s my nature.   Listening to my playlist reminds me that I need to bring out the red stilletos in the back of my closet and put those bad boys on from time to time.  In fact, I think I’ll abandon the usual red toe nail polish and dig out my Urban Decay…and I’ll do it all while I listen to Sting sing “Roxxxxannne…you don’t have to put on the red light….Roxanne!”

Thanks, Santa!

Southern girls in smocked bishop dresses

Southern girls in smocked bishop dresses

Smocked john john

Smocked “john john”

It’s official….I’m giving up.  I’m throwing in the towel…at least where Will & Jack are concerned.  If the pictures on this post haven’t given me away, I’ll let you in on my distress.  I’m giving in and dressing my boys in conventional clothes.  They are getting too old to put them in “john johns.”  It’s just getting too hard to fight them.   On the other hand, I still have George to dress.  George who is 19 months isn’t that hard to wrestle into a “john john.”  Will and Jack are not so easily overpowered.   I’ll explain:

For the southern “Mama,”  it is an unwritten rule that children are to be dressed a certain way.   Little boys are to wear longalls or shortalls (a.k.a. “john john” in honor of J.F.K. Jr. who was photographed under the desk of his father in the Oval Office wearing such attire).  Little southern belles wear bishops, which are dresses with no waist and long with three inch hems.  No little girl is complete without a giant grosgrain bow pinned to her little head.  Southern Mamas favor smocking, appliques, and fanciful prints.  We love to dress our children in matching or theme clothes (Halloween, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, etc.).   In formal photographs, you will see children in smocked clothes and in bare feet.  I don’t know why….it’s just the way it is.  Maybe we just like for our children to look like children.  Children grow up too fast anyway.  We just like to prolong babyhood.  Who knows?  I do know that there will be a time when all three of my boys will beg me to take down the 16 X 20 formal photographs of them as three month old babies…all wearing the same antique baptism gown that I wore as a baby.

Yes, I said gown.  Southern Mamas dress their newborn boys in gowns…baptism gowns, christening gowns, day gowns.  Look, before long…Daddy’ll have ’em out there in a duck blind or on the golf course.  Let us have our moment, OK?

Why am I distressed?  Well, once Will became a “big boy” and started school, he starting wearing a uniform.  Will attends a private school and I am most grateful that he wears the standard khaki pants and polo shirt.  We don’t fight over clothes in the morning and it’s easy.  When I caught a glimpse of my firstborn for the first time in his uniform, a lump formed in my throat.  I shed a tear.  He looked so…. grown. He doesn’t look so little anymore.  For mothers, you know when your babies start looking more like children…they lose that precious baby fat around their wrists, the face thins out, etc.  (sigh) Anyway, don’t worry.  I would never even think to put him in a “john john” at this point.  I certainly don’t want him to be picked on at Sunday School.

Jack is 3 and hasn’t reached the magical “cut-off” for the “john john.”  However, Jack is tough looking….Bless his heart.  Jack never looked right in a longall.  Jack looks more natural in camouflage or cowboy gear.  He’s a little John Wayne.  So for Jack, he has escaped having to spend another year suffering through my attempts to make him look like Little Lord Fauntleroy.  It looks like Jack gets to jump right into khakis and polo shirts.  I think he is secretly relieved.

George is another story.  I took smocking classes right after George was born and learned to sew while I was pregnant with him.  I’ve made several outfits for him and need to start on his Easter outfit now.  However, I am tired….so very tired.  At the end of the day, after putting everyone to bed, I just don’t know if I have the gumption to sit up and whittle through a smocking project.  It’s just so easy to pick something up off the rack at one of those chain stores.  Herein lies the problem…

All of those chain stores cater to people who like for their children to look like little adults.  There are exceptions to the rule (Little Lambs & Ivy, Janie & Jack, Chocolate Soup, Strasburg).  However, I am always shocked when I go into one of these “adult-like” childrens’ stores and see leopard prints on little girls’ clothing or t-shirts that say “Hottie” or “I’m the one your mother warned you about.”  Who are they selling this crap to?  Pedophiles?

In the alternative, there are stores who sell clothes for little boys that appear as their aim to have boys look like 45 year old golfers, professional skate boarders, or pimps.  I’ll never forget a gift that I received when Will was a baby.  A very well-meaning relative sent us a suit for our three month old son.

A suit.

A three piece suit.

It was black pin stripes.

It came with shoes…and a tie.

Honestly, it looked like something you’d bury your child in.   I didn’t know whether to laugh or be terrified of the outfit.  I thought about dressing Will as one of the Blues Brothers for Halloween, but I couldn’t find a little black hat.  I tried to sell it on Ebay and no one wanted it.  I did get a question about the suit.  A woman in Oregon wanted to know if it would fit her ten pound Yorkie.  I told her that the tag said it is supposed to fit a three month old baby, but I didn’t know about a little dog.  I never heard back from her.  I even tried to put the suit in a garage sale, but it didn’t sell.  I finally gave it away to Goodwill.  Maybe someone thought it was “precious” and felt lucky to have the thing.

I realize that I’m tired from running after three little boys all day, but unless I want George to look like Tony Hawk at Easter, I better get busy on that “john john.”  Oh, the plight of the southern Mama….

Steel Magnolias...sistahs

Steel Magnolias...sistahs

“I have a strict policy that nobody cries alone in my presence.”  – Truvy

O.K….so, I’m a huge Steel Magnolias fan.  I also love Fried Green Tomatoes and the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood.  Yes, I’m a southerner.  Yes, I’m damn proud of it.  One of the underlying themes of these great movies is the importance of girlfriends.  Having a set of girlfriends seems to be very important to southern women.  I’m not really sure if it’s because we are bred to look forward to things like girl scouts, cotillion, sorority rush, etc.  Or if it’s because once we get older and married, we have to rely upon our girlfriends because our men seem to leave us on the weekends to play golf or hunt….a southern seasonal ritual.

Nevertheless, I’ve never doubted the importance of having friends nor in the absolute necessity of needing other people in my life.  My oldest friend from childhood, Nancy (we’ve been best friends for 35 years), tells me that it’s wonderful to have girlfriends…but even better to have “sister friends.”  In the south, we call them “sistahs.”  You know the difference when you’ve got ’em.  Let me illustrate what I’m talking about:

Girlfriends are friends that you go to lunch with, shop with and have fun, etc.  Sistah friends do all of the above, but will tell you if you have spinach in your teeth and won’t let you buy anything that makes you look fifteen pounds heavier.  Girlfriends will come by your house and drop off a casserole when you are sick.  If you are sick, sistah friends will drop off a casserole and pick your kids up from school so you don’t have to.  Girlfriends will make you feel better.  Sistah friends will sometimes tell you things you need to hear, even if it hurts…because they know you need to know or will know when to keep their mouth shut.  Girlfriends will listen to your problems over the phone.  If you have a problem, sistah friends will cry with you and share some deep secrets of their own.

When I was a child, I remember my mother and her “sistah friends.”  They would play cards, drink bloody marys garnished with long celery sticks and gossip.  I also remember that they looked out for each other.  I distinctly remember when one of my mother’s sistah friends had a cheating husband.  My mother’s friend, Margaret (not her real name…bless her heart), did not know that the scum bag was cheating on her.  Well, let’s just say that my mother’s friends did something about the situation.  (I can’t go into any details due to the statute of limitations on certain crimes in the great state of Louisiana…I’m just kidding…Well, maybe not.) They let Margaret’s no-good scoundrel of a husband know that they knew about his cheatin’ ways….AND let him know that if he didn’t straighten up…he’d be next on their “list.”  My mother and her crew could give Tony Soprano a run for his money.  All of this was done without an ounce of bloodshed or Margaret the wiser.  At the next card game, Margaret was happy as a clam and announced that she and her husband had planned a second honeymoon to the Bahamas.  The sistah friends had saved the day.  Pretty cool, huh?

Sistah friends are real.  Sistah friends let you in on their own crap.  Sistah friends are forevah friends.

I consider myself very lucky.    I have some great girlfriends, but I also count amongst my friends some serious sistah friends.

Over the last six months, I’ve had Cynthia and Sharby who’ve volunteered to pick  my kids up from school when I couldn’t.   I’ve had Nancy who calls me twice or three times a week from Greenwich, Connecticut and it seems like no time has ever passed since we last saw each other…which, sadly, was seven years ago.  I’ve had Julie, who has grown into the best sistah friend and confidant that a girl could ever have.  Julie and I were friends in law school, but who would’ve known that two people who live several states away could have lives that parallel in so many ways?  I also have Windy, who will share with me her love for trash t.v.  Seriously.  Who else can I sit with and honestly say that I watch “Charm School” or “Rock of Love”?  Hilarious.

Some sistahs come and go.  Some move away.  Some fall out of touch, unfortunately.  One sistah, Teresa, was my rock and my assistant when I taught a classroom of thirteen boys, all with severe behavior disorders.  Teresa and I laughed and cried through my early years of teaching special education.  We managed to have some fun outside of the classroom when we needed to unwind at the closest Mexican restaurant with a group of fellow teachers.  We still keep in touch, not as often as I’d like, but the effort is there.  Who would’ve known that my early years teaching those boys would’ve prepared me for life with three little boys of my own?  It’s nice to know I had a sistah friend who was there to help.

I’m fortunate.  So, here’s the thing….everyone needs some sistahs.  It’s like finding your soul mates among girlfriends.  It’s good stuff.  For now, I’ll leave you with some of my most favorite quotes from Steel Magnolias – the original movie about “sistah friends”….Enjoy!

That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. – Clairee


The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize – Clairee

Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion. – Truvy

Ouiser could never stay mad at me; she worships the quicksand I walk on. – Clairee

I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special – Shelby

I find it amusing. Men are supposed to be made out of steel or something. I just sat there. I just held Shelby’s hand. There was no noise, no tremble, just peace. Oh god. I realize as a woman how lucky I am. I was there when that wonderful creature drifted into my life and I was there when she drifted out. It was the most precious moment of my life – M’Lynn


Breaker, breaker 1-9....its Superman and Lil Bear comin at cha!

Breaker, breaker 1-9....it's Spiderman and Lil' Bear comin' at cha!

It’s my own fault that it happened.  I slept late (late would be approximately 8:00 a.m.).  Will and Jack don’t have school this week, so I’ve been staying up late (this would be approximately 11:30 p.m.) to read, fold laundry, etc.  I am usually awaken by George yelling for me from the crib in his room or by Will and/or Jack prying my eyelids open and demanding juice and cereal.  Today, it was quiet.  Too quiet.  I sat straight up.  This was not normal.  Suddenly, I heard “loud whispering” (my boys can’t whisper…neither can their father…it’s a voice immodulation problem) and Jack howl with laughter.   Whew!  I could breathe again.

I thought maybe the boys were having fun together and hoped to catch a glimpse of the boys reading, placing puzzles pieces together on the floor…sharing a brotherly moment.  I tiptoed down the hall and flattened my body against the wall to sneek a peek.  I was totally not prepared for what I was about to witness…and hear.

I heard static…and a man’s voice.  This is when I saw my sons, in their own twin bed, each holding a Diego walkie talkie.  The exchange went something like this:

Trucker:  Breaker, breaker 1-9…this here is Blue Jay…I’m havin’ trouble findin’ 385 from highway 72…where’s the turnoff?

Will:  Take a left!

Trucker:  Take a left?  Where?

Jack:  Go to McDonald’s!

Trucker:  Where?! Did you say McDonald’s?  I think there was one seven miles back.

Will:  Take a right!

Trucker:  What?! Are you tellin’ me now to take a right?

Jack:  I want french fries!  (giggles)

Will:  I want a Happy Meal! (snickers)

Trucker:  Who is this?! Are ya’ll a bunch of kids?

Will:  I’m Spiderman!

Jack:  I’m Lil’ Bear! Go to McDonald’s!

Trucker:  Hey! Get off!

This is when I bounded through the door like it was a police raid.  Will and Jack looked up at me and knew that they were cold busted.  I confiscated the Diego walkie talkies.  I don’t really know how many truckers that they have sent to McDonald’s from Highway 72.  I cringe to think that Will, a.k.a. Spiderman, and Jack, a.k.a. Lil’ Bear, have diverted whole convoys from their chosen destinations.  Who knows?

I should say that I am frightened at their ability to take a simple walkie talkie to intercept CB radio frequencies.  Or maybe I should be in awe.  They are 5 and 3.  They are preschoolers and very, very smart. Plus, I haven’t even thought about “CB’s”, “handles,” or “convoys” since I saw Smokey & the Bandit when I was in the first grade.

Obviously, I need to start getting up at 5:30 a.m.   Otherwise, who knows what can happen next.  I only hope I can channel this “creativity” into something worthwhile.  I hope so.  I really, really do.

Bout time SuperGirl gets some props!

'Bout time SuperGirl gets some props!

The boys think their Daddy is Superman.  I’m not joking.  They even talked me into getting him a Superman cake for his birthday.  Well..he does look a lot like Clark Kent, but that’s another story.   They want to be just like him.  On Sundays, Will insists that he wear a sports coat like his father to church and even asked for a necktie for Christmas.  Their father coaches their soccer team and spends a great deal of time with them.  I am very happy that my boys and their father have a good relationship.  However, my husband’s first business trip away from us gave me reason to ponder my role as mom.

A couple of weeks ago,  my husband had to go out of town on business.  In one of my “crazy moments,” I thought it might be fun if the boys and I took my husband to the airport to see him off.  This was a horrible error in judgment.  At first, Will, Jack and George took in the airport with total amazement.  They were so excited to see all of the planes as we approached the terminal.  We even ate dinner inside the airport before it was time for my husband to leave us and go through the security checkpoint.    After kissing all five of us, my husband said his goodbyes and told us all how he would return in four days..yada, yada, yada.  My husband waved to us and began his walk through security to check his bag, laptop, etc.  It was at this point my children “nutted up.”

Will began to cry and yell, “Daddy!  Daddy!!!  Take me with you!”  Then Jack began to wail,  “Daddddeeeeee!  Come back!  Don’t go, Daddddeeeee!”  George decided that he would not be left out of the ruckus and began to cry with his little arms outstretched toward his father.  I am not kidding you that every eye was on me and my hysterical crew.  It was a pitiful sight.  People looked at the children like they were homeless refugees.  I swear I thought I overheard one woman say to her husband, “Do you suppose that man is leaving his family…for good?!  Bless their little hearts!”  You would’ve thought that Daddy was headed off to Borneo.  The crying did not stop until bedtime…which was two hours later.

What is wrong with this picture?  Why all of the hysteria?!  Daddy would be home in time to eat dinner with us in four days.    What am I, chopped liver?

I do everything.  I’m not joking.  Since leaving the practice of law to be a stay at home mom, I can honestly say that I have done “my job” pretty well.  I cook, clean, sew, shlep the kids to and from school, grocery shop, volunteer at church and in the community, and manage to play several rounds of Candy Land all before my husband gets home from work.   My husband gets home at 6:00 p.m. and the children are in bed by 8:00 p.m.  You do the math.  He bathes them and reads them a story before bedtime, but I am the one who has to remind everyone to brush their teeth.  I am the Queen of Multitasking.  Daddy may be Superman, but I’m Super Girl for Pete’s sake.  Don’t I get any props?

I’ll never forget one trip we made to my mother-in-law’s house down in Florida.   Right after I discovered that I was pregnant with George, we flew down there with Will (then 3) and Jack (then 2).   The night before the trip, my husband had a business meeting, so I was left to handle everything by myself before our early morning flight.  I had to pack all of our bags and get the boys in bed…all with a horrible case of morning sickness, which sent waves of nausea through my body day and night.  Oh yeah…Jack was recovering from a stomach virus so I had been dealing with two solid days of disgusting diapers that smelled like rotting cabbage.

Once we arrived at my mother-in-law’s condo, I was exhausted.  Jack still had “bowel issues” and my morning sickness was on the upswing.  It was October and I was wearing corduroy maternity overalls in eighty degree heat.   Being hot, nauseated and pregnant…all at the same time…is not good for your psyche.  I could smell the stench of Jack’s diaper from across the room.  I sweetly asked my husband to change the runny diaper.  As my husband walked away with Jack, my mother-in-law said, “Isn’t that just wonderful that he helps you with diapers? He is such a “hands on” Daddy!”  This sent me over the edge.  I said, “Yeah, he should do those things…he’s their father.  No one thinks I’m great because I change diapers.  I change diapers all the freakin’ time!”  Let’s just say that I felt guilty for being so snappish.

I am glad that the boys love their father.  I’m glad that I am married to a Clark Kent…but Super Girl needs some props….

Who made 45 candy cane ornaments that looked like mice for Will and Jack’s classroom craft project? Who made George’s Christmas outfit and monogrammed the darn thing at 1:45 a.m.?  Who got Jack Batman pajamas and found a cape and mask to match?  Who makes Belgian waffles on Saturday?  Who books the birthday parties at gyms/inflatable centers/Build-a-Bear workshop?  Who hung the tire swing in the backyard? Who makes it all better with Bactine and a Superhero band aid?

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No, it’s …M-O-M-M-Y!!!!!!!

So, will we all survive while Daddy is away?  I think so.  I’m up for the challenge.  Yes, he will be missed.  Yes, I realize that boys probably miss their Daddy a little more because he is the one that they need to emulate..to learn how to be a man.

P.S.  My husband called me once he settled into his hotel room.  He thanked me profusely for packing his workout clothes and a sweatshirt.  It had finally turned cold out in the southwest.  I looked on the weather channel before his flight and slipped in an extra pair of sweats.  For this, he said, “I don’t know what we’d all do without you.”  Well….it’s about time! 🙂

Receiving His Grace

Receiving His Grace

Every year, our family leaves our warm and cozy nest on Christmas Eve to attend a church service.  It may not seem like an extraordinary feat to do so, but try getting yourself, two toddlers and a five year old ready for church and you may change your mind.  Sometimes I feel like Satan is on my shoulder whispering to me, “Hey! Wouldn’t you rather stay at home eating Cheese Doodles and watching Access Hollywood by a roaring fire rather than going to church and sitting on some hard pew for an hour?”  Let’s just say, that it can be rather tempting to stay home and do nothing.  However, I just couldn’t justify doing that…not this year.

We went to church and sang all of the old familiar Christmas hymns.  It is very comforting to sit and listen to the songs of old amidst beautiful candlelight.  However, something in the pastor’s short sermon caught me off guard.  He reminded us all that we should embrace and gladly receive His Grace and that Grace is a gift that is undeserved and unwarranted, yet it is something that He gives us gladly…no strings attached.”

I know that I have heard this a thousand times, but why did this tear at my soul?  Was it that I have never been good at receiving gifts?  Was it the mention of the word, receiving?  Probably.  I’m the type of person that is much better planning someone else’s birthday party or shopping for someone else than I am at doing anything for myself.   This couldn’t be the sole reason that I felt uncomfortable at the pastor’s words.

I pondered the word, gift.  My eyes filled with tears.  Christmas is the time for the giving and receiving of gifts.   In law school, I remember that my contracts professor spent a whole class period explaining the legal differences between a gift and a loan.  A gift is unconditional…it is gratuitous.  I’ll never forget how dumbfounded I was at hearing the definition.  How many times in my life did someone give me a “gift” with “strings attached.”  I cringe to think.  Plus, I’ve heard the story about Jesus’s birth in Luke’s Gospel a million times.  Why did I suddenly feel so unworthy to acknowledge God’s gift to me – His Son, Jesus Christ?

Suddenly, it hit me why I felt this way…this Christmas.  See, it wasn’t but four short months ago that I was diagnosed with cancer.  It was a low level cancer, but it was cancer nonetheless.  Tell a 38 year old woman with three small children and a husband that she has cancer and you’ll see a frightened and desparate individual.  However, I was fortunate.  My cancer was caught early and I had a surgery to remove the cancerous lesion.  Later, my oncologist told me to not look back…enjoy life.  I took his advice.

Throughout my ordeal I prayed.  The funny thing is…I never prayed for myself.  I prayed for my children.  I prayed for my husband.  I begged God to let me live for them.  I just wanted to take care of my family.  I had to.  Who would wipe my sons’ faces when they were dirty?  Who would know when to get those family photos taken?  Who would pack their lunches?  Who would know when to pick up the dry cleaning and when to sign kids up for soccer?  Who, God?!  Who?!

Well, God answered my prayers.  I was given His Grace.  It is totally undeserved.  I was given the ultimate gift.  I was given my life.

So, on Christmas Eve…this is why I was so uncomfortable.  I have been actively moving forward by putting the cancer behind me.  I have been scared to acknowledge that I even had the stupid illness.  I haven’t wanted to jinx myself.  I recognized that I needed to give thanks…this night…on Christmas Eve.  God gave us His Son as a perfect sacrifice to the world.  God gave me my health.  To not acknowledge this is like getting a wonderful gift and never writing someone a thank you note.  Tonight, I thanked God again.  Receiving is good.

I recently registered on Facebook after several of my girlfriends told me how fun it would be for me to reconnect with old law school chums and friends from college, blah, blah, blah.  After several months of being hassled, I registered and began to fill out my profile.  Facebook asks you for your “Activities.”  I listed chauffeuring my three boys as one of my “Activities.”  It’s the truth.  That’s what I do.  I am the family chauffeur…to school, to soccer, to church, to play dates.

Plus, the more I thought about it, the more I decided that chauffeuring my kids around is very similar to being the designated driver for a van full of inebriated adults.   Let me explain before you think I’m being awful….

If you’ve ever been the designated driver in college, you know what I mean when I say that driving your friends around at the end of an evening out can be like driving a van full of kids.  I’m really not complaining.  My kids are good kids.  They say “thank you” and “please” and I don’t really yell that much.  However, their behavior is totally appropriate for children ages five, three and one. This means they act like they are five, three, and one.  So, at times, I swear that three small children can be as obnoxious as three wasted adults.  No joke.  For instance…

Anytime we are driving somewhere and I hear an old disco tune on the radio, I’ll crank it up.  (I just love Donna Summer) Suddenly, I’ll hear “No Mommy!  That’s yucky music!  Turn on something else!”  Then my oldest and most precocious child, Will, usually screams out, “FREEBIRD!”  This goes on until I solve the problem and put something on that everyone loves – Jimmy Buffett.   Suddenly…nirvana… I hear my sons sing along to “Volcano” or  “Fins” in unison.

I had the same problem with music in the car when I’ve been the designated driver.  First, someone wants to hear Dave Matthews, then another one wants to hear something else.  No one is content until you find music that everyone can sing to…like “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf or if it’s a bunch of women, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.  Before you know it, you’ve got full-blown karaoke in the third row seats.

Sometimes when you are the designated driver, you’ve got to make a pit stop. This usually entails a stop to the Waffle House or Taco Bell at 2 a.m.  Sometimes your group may ask you to make a stop at an all night grocery store if everyone can’t decide on what they want for a late night snack.  This kind of late night stop is analogous to taking three preschoolers to the grocery store.  I don’t ever remember my mother having much of a problem with taking kids into the grocery store.   Back in the 1970’s, women like my mother just let children sit in the car with the engine running while they pumped gas or ran inside the thrifty mart for a gallon of milk.  You just don’t do that anymore.  Now, you’ve got to unload everyone when you pay for gas, pick up dry cleaning, and certainly to do shopping of any kind. It’s a miracle that no one ever snatched me out of the front seat of my mother’s car.  Why didn’t people ever think of carjacking back in 1978?  I digress…

Anyway, taking all three boys into the store for one gallon of milk is no different than taking three drunk sorority girls into the grocery store to buy snacks for the evening.  First, the boys want to ride in the buggy that has the attached little tykes truck and seats four children…then they don’t want to.  This takes about ten minutes to get George, the youngest child, strapped in and for me to repeat the instructions that all of them are to “Be good…or else!”  I’ve untangled the cart straps and successfully fastened them around George.  This is when Jack, the three year old, has hopped on one of those scooters meant for the handicapped or the elderly.  Jack starts up the scooter and is driving the contraption past me and into the produce section.  When I look up, I see that Jack is dangerously close to a pyramid of navel oranges.  I manage to make it to the scooter before Jack takes out the pyramid and a table of freshly baked pies.  I yank Jack off the scooter and take this opportunity to strap him in a seat and repeat the objective of our mission.  We are only here for milk.  That’s it.

It gets better.  This is when Will announces, “I’ve got to go potty!.”  Going to the potty takes a good fifteen minutes or even twenty minutes if Jack decides that he has to go, too.   Now, it’s been almost half an hour since we’ve driven onto the Kroger parking lot and I’ve not even laid eyes on the dairy section of the grocery store.

After everyone has emptied his bladder, we once again head to the dairy department…which is located in the far recesses of the store.  The boys beg for a cookie from the bakery.  I cave and grab them each a double chocolate cookie.  Chocolate is everywhere…on the floor, in the buggy, on faces and hands.  Where are my wet wipes?  I can’t find them.  I want to scream.  I just want milk for Pete’s sake.

I am not paying attention because I am digging through my purse for wipes to clean dirty faces when I stupidly push the buggy down the “seasonal aisle.” It is Christmas, so naturally, the seasonal aisle is laden with Christmas decor, candy, and toys.  All three boys are start yelling, “Hey!  Look at Rudolph!…No, there’s a GINORMOUS bag of M&M’s…how cool!…No, look at those Matchbox Cars…Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!…Can we get one….PUHLEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZEEEEE!!!!!!!!”   Just shoot me now.

This is when I have a flashback of my senior year of college when I was the designated driver for a group of my girlfriends after a Widespread Panic concert.  After the concert, we ventured into a Kroger at midnight to pick up a liter of Diet Coke, a Harper’s Bazaar, and a bag of Doritos.  I had to herd five drunk college girls through Kroger without incident.  It was a hot mess.

Mary Kate had to go to “the little girl’s room” and Lizzy opened a jar of olives and was eating them in the deli while talking to a cute stock boy.  Lucy and Beth were sitting on the floor near the pharmacy looking at pictures of Brad Pitt in GQ.  My roommate, Hope, was begging me to consider getting a blow-up Christmas decoration for our tiny dormroom.  “PUHLEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZEEEEE!!!  Let’s get that mammoth snowman for our room!,” shouted Hope.  Let’s just say that I didn’t volunteer to be the designated driver for many months after that.

I snapped out of my flashback as we rounded the corner into the dairy department.  We got the milk and bolted.

Yes, I am the family chauffer.  Yes, I feel like a designated driver.  In fact, I may change my facebook profile from “family chauffer” to “designated driver to three boys all capable of embarrassing their mother at a moment’s notice.”  I’m just kidding.  No, really…I am just kidding.  I think.

Every so often, I have to re-read “Bringing Up Boys” by Dr. James Dobson.   As I re-read the book, my hands are usually shaking and my nerves are shot because I have just returned from the emergency room or the pediatrician”s office.  If I am lucky, I will have only had to take out the first aid kit and administer some Bactine and unpeeled a Spiderman band-aid.  You see, my affliction is that I am the mother of three boys.

If you are still unsure as to what I am talking about…let me digress.   My boys are the rough, outdoorsy kinds of kids.  I have always prided myself on the fact that they are not content to sit and watch hours and hours of television.  My boys would rather go outside and sit atop their fort and pretend that they are pirates in a ship surrounded by a sea of alligators.  They are content to swing from their tire swing and yell out like Tarzan.  When it rains, Will (age 5)  and Jack (age 3) like to pitch a tent in their room and play “camp.”  I’ve even served them “camp food” inside their tent (even George – 18 mos. is allowed inside).  On occasion, they’ve taken naps inside the tent.  In other words, they are typical boys.

Let me say that this is not a rant….I just need the chance to voice my concern over Will & Jack’s latest Christmas request.  Will asked Santa for “Cowboy stuff.”  Will specifically asked for a cowboy belt, hat, chaps, rope…and cap gun.  Jack specifically asked Santa for a full Indian headdress, chaps…and cap gun (bow and arrow were optional).

At the mention of such items, I became nostalgic for the days of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, circa 1959?  I thought it was really cute that both boys wanted to dress up like John Wayne and Geronimo.  I couldn’t help but to think of the photo ops.  Even the cap guns didn’t sound so bad, since Santa would only give them a gun sans caps.  Harmless enough, right?

While getting the boys ready for church this morning, I asked Will about his Christmas list.   This is when said, “Oh, Mommy…I’m so excited about Christmas!  I can’t wait to get my cowboy stuff.  Jack can’t wait either.  As soon as we get it, we plan to have a “real war” in the backyard.  Won’t that be awesome?!”

My heart stopped.  This could mean scrapes, cuts, and the hurling of dogpoo (it’s happened before).  I’ve seen the boys reenact “war” before.  It was right after they saw Narnia and Peter Pan.  They were obsessed with swords for months.  I refused to buy play swords, so every tree branch and stick was brandished as a sword.  As soon as I heard the words, “On guard” or “Walk the plank!,” I was there in a heartbeat screaming, “Drop the sticks!”   See, I don’t want anyone to get hurt…at the same time, I don’t want them to lose their sense of adventure and what it means to be a boy.  It’s a dilemma.  Plus, I’m in constant fear that someone from the Department of Children Services will come knocking on my door any minute wanting to know why Will has a black eye or why Jack ‘s fingernail is peeling away from the cuticle (that happened as a result of climbing the neighbor’s fence and getting his finger caught between the slats).  Even the pediatrician’s office knows our insurance information by heart…now, we are just ushered into the same room – Examination Room #3, thank you.

I guess I’m just giving up.  This is life with boys.  Santa is bringing cowboys gear and such.  I think I better stock up on Super Hero bandaids.  It’s just a hard knock life with boys.  Life would be so boring without them.  I love ’em.  Thank God for little boys.  Thank God for my boys.

Cowboy gear

Whats in Santas bag?

What's in Santa's bag?

I was beginning to wonder if I was Scrooge reincarnated.  I just couldn’t quite get into the Christmas spirit.  Decorating the tree was a chore…definitely not a joy this year.  I dreaded putting out the Christmas snow village and I just couldn’t quite muster up enough energy to do all of the pre-Christmas things that I usually do (make candy, make crafts, sew, etc.).

You’d think I’d be excited about Christmas.  I do have plenty to be thankful for.  I survived a bout with thyroid cancer this past fall and my doctor says I should move on and enjoy life.  How do you do that exactly when you feel so nervous about your mortality?

Well, the Christmas spirit finally snuck up on me.  Praise God!

My children were involved in four Christmas programs this past week.  I was exhausted.  I haven’t gone to bed before midnight all week because I’ve had so much to do.   Did I happen to mention that my husband has been out of town all week?

Today was Jack’s Christmas program at his preschool.  I was never so happy to just sit down for thirty minutes without feeling like I was being pecked to death by ducks.  I sat my weary butt down in the church pew to watch Jack sing Jingle Bells…and BAM!…the Christmas spirit was upon me.  There were two year olds dressed as angels on the stage with the three year olds wearing Santa hats.  All of the children were singing their little hearts out.  When I heard their rendition of “Away In a Manger,”  I shed a tear.  (I’m a sucker for my kids)

Then I realized a couple of things.  I need to slow down.  I need to enjoy myself without feeling like a failure if I don’t get everything on my “to do list” done.  I need to sometimes sit and watch…observe.  It’s hard for someone like me.  I go at things fast and furious.  I pride myself on getting things d-o-n-e.

Today I sat and was still.  This was good.  Christmas is good.  Even God said, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Be still…

By the way, I found Baby Jesus.  Jack hid him in a basket with a Happy Meal Madagascar toy that sings, “I like to move it..move it.”  Poor Baby Jesus.

This has been a crazy week.  I’ve had four Christmas programs in a matter of seven days.  Tonight was our church’s preschool choir’s program.  I managed to get home and get the boys all in bed at a decent hour.   After bedtime, I spend ten minutes or so, cleaning up, etc.   While doing this, I happened to notice that the baby Jesus in our family’s nativity was replaced by a Spiderman action figure.

I went upstairs and asked the boys what happened to Jesus.  Will had no idea and my 18 month old can’t reach that far to snag him.  My middle child, Jack, was eerily quiet.

I asked Jack what happened to Baby Jesus.  He said that Spiderman had Jesus “somewhere.”  Hmmmmmm.

The conversation went as follows:

Jack: Mommy, I want juice.
Me: Where is Baby Jesus?
Jack: Not till I get juice.
Me: Give me Jesus and you get Spiderman.
Jack: No. I want juice.
Me: You just brushed your teeth. You get water.
Jack: I want juice.
Me: I don’t negotiate with terrorists.


Jack is now asleep…and Baby Jesus is still held in some undisclosed location.

However, I can rest knowing that his teeth will not rot out.

Here’s to Julie, one of my dearest friends…

She’s been bugging me to blog, so here goes my first attempt at something like this.  Let me preface this by saying that she’s had to drag me into the 21st century, kicking and screaming.  I don’t have an IPOD, blackberry, laptop, etc.  I prefer pencil and paper to this..but, we’ve got some pretty interesting things going on and no where to tell it.  So, we’ll just start here!

About me:  I’m a stay-at-home mom to three little boys.  My house is loud and wild.  For this, I won’t apologize.  I’ve grown to love the noise and chaos.  I actually have a law degree and a license to practice, but I’ve traded it all in to be a full-time mom.

About the blog’s name:  My sons have very interesting philosophical conversations.  One day I overheard a conversation between my five year old, Will, and his three year old brother, Jack.  Will & Jack were discussing what they would do if they were God.  The conversation went something like this:

Jack:  If I was God…I make it rain.

Will:  If I was God, it would snow.

Jack:  If I was God, I would eat lots of cookies.

Will:  If I was God, everyone would get doughnuts AND cookies…then everyone would be happy.

Jack:  Could we get juice?

Will:  Sure!  If I was God, I’d say apple juice for everyone!   Everyone would be happy drinkin’ juice.

Jack:  Yeah. (sigh)

There you go!  Not a bad idea, huh?  Leave it to two little boys to figure out the answer to life’s problems and the key to world peace.  It’s as simple as  apple juice for everyone!