Wednesday, May 31

Denying Reality

I have to admit that life is pretty good when the biggest bummer of the night is that all the reality shows I watch are over. After Memorial Day weekend, and out-of-town company, I hadn't had a spare second to relfect on the fact that Survivor, American Idol, American Inventor, Amazing Race, etc...are all finished. Some finished the way I wanted and some didn't. Just to prove that I really need to get a hobby, I looked up in Wikipedia to identify a list of reality shows of which I have seen at least one episode. Mind you, there are only very few regulars, and I will star those that I intentionally watch so that you don't think I'm a complete moron with way too little to keep me busy. But here they are (drumroll....)


Airline
Amazing Race***
American Chopper
American Idol***
American Inventor***
America's Next Top Model
The Anna Nicole Show
The Apprentice***
Average Joe
The Bachelor (Used to be a ***, but they never stay together so I skipped the last series)
The Bachelorette
Big Brother
The Biggest Loser***
Blind Date
Boiling Points
Brat Camp
Candid Camera***
Celebrity Fit Club
Cheaters
Cops (Hero Guy still forces me to watch)***
Dog the Bounty Hunter***
Dog Eat Dog
Extreme Makeover
Extreme Makeover Home edition
Faking It
Family Plots
Fear Factor
For Love or Money
The Gastineau Girls
Girls Behaving Badly
Growing Up Gotti
Hogan Knows Best
How Clean is Your House*** (for strong stomachs only)
I Married a Princess
I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here
Intervention***
The Jamie Kennedy Experiement
Joe Millionaire
The Joe Schmo Show
Made
Making the Band
Meet the Barkers
Meet My Folks
Miami Ink
The Mole (MISS it)
Nanny 911
Nashville Star
Newlyweds
Laguna Beach
Punk'd
The Real World
Reno 911
Rescue 911
The Restaurant
Road Rules
The Salon
The Simple Life
Sorority Life
Spy TV
Star Search
Starting Over
Survivor***
The Swan
Supernanny
Temptation Island
Tommy Lee Goes to College
The Osbournes
Trading Spaces
Trading Spouses (a spouse-appreciation exercise)
True Life
What Not to Wear
Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire

There may be a few you've heard of that are not here. It is either because the list was so long that I missed one ( I only went down the list once) or that I've only seen part of an episode before I lost interest for some reason or another. Otherwise, I've heard of most of them, but haven't watched more than a channel-clicker's worth, so I won't count it.

One tidbit that I'm sure you'll want to know: Reality shows are classified as one of several categories - Documentary style (where it follows something happening to a group, like Airline on A&E), Hidden Camera (like Candid Camera), Reality Games/Talent Searches (like Survivor or American Idol), Spoofs (like the Joe Schmo show) or Parodies (like Reno 911).

After analyzing my results, I guess I'm more of a game show type girl. See what you're missing?!

Monday, May 29

Hansel and Gretal, the Olsen Way

Our house is inhabited by creatures of all sorts, but now we are two less in number. A year ago, Hero Guy and Brainy Boy adopted two silver-dollar-sized painted turtles and we've been caring for them ever since. But due to huge appetites they have doubled their size over the winter and I have decided that the care and keeping is no longer providing adequate anjoyment. I'm speaking both of the enjoyment of the turtles who are getting too big for their habitat and regularly attempt escape and the enjoyment of Sweet Ones on whose behalf the turtles were acquired in the first place. It's not that they aren't adorable, as Sheila and Flippers are quite cute. And it's not that it's so much work, because other than feeding and occasional suctioning goo out of the bottom of the tank, they really don't require a lot of effort, even though Sweet Ones don't do any of it. It's just that with summer pending, the weather getting warmer and the turtles getting ever larger in size, wicked stepom (me) convinced woodcutter dad (Hero Guy) that the children (said turtles) would be much better off in the wood (the local pond from which lots of painted turtles wander).

So on a particularly warm spring last evening, we decided to support freedom and celebrate Memorial Day in our own special way. We carefully loaded the little ones into a bucket (along with a very large stray turtle found wandering along the road) and took them to the beautiful pond overlooked by the building at Hero Guy's day job. It took all of about half a second for the turtles to realize that we were finally bringing them home, sample a bit of the natural vegetation and scoot below the surface. Sweet Ones were only a little disturbed that they might never see Sheila and Flippers again, but reassurance that we will be able to wave to them each time we pass with them returning a happy smile our direction, appeased any doubts. The only thing is, we forgot to leave breadcrumbs in case they change their minds.

Saturday, May 27

Bikes, 2 wheelers, gears and sore butts

You that Lil' Chic and Brainy Boy just learned to ride their bikes. Hero Guy and I decided that with camping trips coming up and summer quickly arriving, he and I also needed to grab us a couple so we could go riding as a family. In serious Hero Guy style, no sooner did I mention the idea than we were out of the house in a flash to scope out the selection, not at a proper bike shop, but the the old favorite 'have-anything-you-need from bread to socks' Walmart. The selection proved to be good, the price proved to be right, and the color proved to be suitable. We each found budget-variety, run-of-the-mill bikes for around $70.

No sooner had we gotten them loaded into the back of the monster truck than we were planning our first outing for as soon as the kiddos arrived home from school. A quick trek over to the local park with riding path proved that $70 gets you a bike frame, two wheels and not much more. We looked good, but the riding was a bit rough. First of all, the gear-shifting mechanism on a budget bike is not exactly what you would call smooth. All sorts of clicking racket lets you know that your chain is in danger of falling off. Second, the seat cushioning that comes standard does not give adequate protection against the friction that occurs. I will admit that we had a really fun time and we plan to go again tonight, but when you see us waddle into church on Sunday morning, you won't need to ask--you'll know we've been biking.

Friday, May 26

What the CAT Dragged In

I was minding my own business, cleaning (what I should have been doing) or blogging (what I probably was actually doing) when the action happened. I didn't hear anything, didn't notice anything, didn't have any reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary. I meandered downstairs to replenish my supply of paper towels when I noticed that Hyperdog had made a mess out of one of the cat toys. I didn't remember having a cat toy with so many feathers on it, and generally, when we buy feathered cat toys, the feathers are bright--like pink, or blue even green. These were brown, and there were just so many. All over the living room carpet. Generally when hyperdog destroys one of the cat toys, she looks very satisfied, like she has again doled out the proper punishment for leaving the toy around where it doesn't belong. For some reason, in this instance, both Hyperdog and Monsterpaw (THE paws) were looking pleased and self-satisfied.

Closer inspection revealed the awful, disgusting truth. Some how, some way, one of us (me, Little Chic or Brainy Boy) had let one of the pets into the house with a real live birdie in tow. It was still real, and still a birdie, but no longer LIVE. I inspected muzzles, ears and claws for evidence, but both animals were desperately trying to claim credit for the haul. Brainy Boy immediately began obsessing about ticks while Little Chic, always the avid nature girl, offered to discard the carcass. Good mom that I am, always encouraging new experiences, let her! I did insist that she use a plastic bag and I made sure she washed her own paws afterward, but I did let her select the final resting place because personally, I was getting a bit grossed out. Brainy Boy continued to fret about fleas and ticks and even felt a few itches and bug bites as I snapped some memories on my handy-dandy Fuji. He scratched furiously while we waited for Hero Guy to get home and witness the thrill firsthand.

It was a little anticlimatic to vacuum the remains and then peer around our living room and see much of the same type of scenery as I had just cleaned up, mounted artfully on the walls--dead deer, dead bear, dead coyote, dead turkey, dead pheasant...well, you get the picture. At least they're all in once peice and their feathers and fur are all intact.

Wednesday, May 24

"Huncle" Dave

This guy's my uncle. He's 8 years older than me. With my dad being the oldest of 10 kids, my grandma still had kids at home by the time my dad was getting started with life. This guy was my hero when I was growing up--sort of the big brother role, but with a little more novelty than a constant bully and boss hanging around. He certainly did his share of bossing and bullying, but I took it all in stride since I thought he was an incredibly big deal. Since he was the youngest of 10 kids, but older than all the grandkids, he took full advantage and made the best of his position in life.

One aspect of him being more 'mature and world-wise' was that he required treatment of proper respect and authority. Thus, I, and my cousins, were expected to boost his ego by calling him by his rightful name "Huncle". This classy moniker had the unique combination of the relationship (uncle) and his self-proclamation of him being a teenage 'hunk'.

Since growing up, he's been a career army guy, Army Ranger and orthopedic surgeon with the military. He's also a husband to one "Aunt Sue" and dad to 4. He's currently serving in Afghanistan (link to my own bro's post with details) and to me, he's still a big deal.

Waa, Waa Flat Feet, Have You Any Shoes?

Brainy boy has flat feet. Not just any flat feet, but flaaaaat feet. I became aware of this when he was about 4, and my sister snickered as he stepped out of the swimming pool. "What?" I asked realizing that something about my perfect little angel struck her funny. We both peered down at the water-print from his feet. Something about the fact that the print was more like a little triangle rather than a heel print with a skinny part leading to the front of the foot made us giggle. Looking back, I realized that his baby prints from the hospital were pretty much the same, so he apparently was born with this little anomoly. At the next scheduled physical I made a note to ask the pediatrician if this was a big deal, and she assured me that pes planus (the medical term) is actually quite common and generally not problematic.

The next couple of years showed no symptoms, until about two years ago. Suddenly, Brainy Boy, who doesn't carry much interest in organized sports anyway, began to complain even on our treks through the woods, shopping trips or other times we were on our feet for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Lectures on laziness ensued until a couple of game nights in our church gym produced excruciating pain by the time we were getting him ready for bed. I asked for a referral to a physical therapist for custom orthotics as well as some exercises to stretch his hamstrings which are tied about as tight as a violin string. I was a bit smug when I learned that getting the shoe inserts from the physical therapist would set me back a mere $125 rather than the $350 estimated by the local podiatrist.

Well, two more years later, and the pain is still present, persistent, annoying, aggravating even with religious use of the shoe inserts and not-so-religious use of the exercises which require my assistance. Now I will admit that Brainy Boy has an aversion to anything remotely bothersome and so has cajoled me into getting him velcro sneakers rather than big-boy tie shoes, and I'm sure this contributes to the problem of not enough foot support.

BUT, I took the next step and visited a shoe specialist today who did a computer analysis of Brainy Boy's feet, confirmed that he is indeed extremely flat-footed, puts all his weight on the area where his arch should be (thus the hurting ankles) and recommended a trip to the podiatrist. An analysis of the 'bargain' inserts confirmed that they are not adequate and we will soon be spending the $350 on a pair of substantial shoe supports that will last for the next two shoe sizes.

I have been bemoaning the fact that Brainy Boy has stayed exactly the same size for the last two grades (3rd & 4th). Now my luck has run out. I'm sure as soon as we get these feet casted, the orthotics made and put into a new pair of shoes, he will spring into action with a gargantuan growth spurt and soon need bigger pair of $350 foot supports, and then another, and then another. Maybe we should go for the little spring-loaded thingy that you can actually have surgically implanted to severely flat feet. Then not only would it be permanent, I would have the bonus of getting Tigger for a son....boing....boing.....boing.....boing.

Tuesday, May 23

The Five of 5's

Five things in my purse:
1) Dental floss.
2) Cuticle oil for my fingernails (and I use it at least once a day).
3) Fisherman's Friend throat lozenges (left over from my laryngitis).
4) Pocket calendar. (I keep this one in addition to the one on my computer desk, the one on my fridge, and the one I tote around with me to meetings).
5) Last week's grocery list with accompanying receipt.


Five things in my closet:
1) At least 12 workout shirts with coordinating shorts.
2) The same number of pants that currently do not fit me, that hopefully will in the next six weeks.
3) An extra vacuum cleaner than has no proper foot (but it vacuums goofed-up haircut remains really well).
4) The Kitty Wiz (the failed attempt at toilet training my cat).
5) A step stool (to shove the ill-fitting shorts to the very back of the closet shelf and then reach them when I'm in the mood to try them on for size).

Five things in my fridge:
1) Slimfast Optima (which promises to make me 3 inches taller and 20 pounds slimmer just by putting in my shopping cart!)
2) A leftover prescription of anti-barf suppositories (up-the-butt-type of medicine) from somebody's unforunate bout of a stomach bug.
3) Cooling cucumber soothing eye pads (not opened yet).
4) A two-week old quart of half-n-half (it used to take me 3 days to go through one of these!)
5) Pepsi One grape-flavored soda (my old childhood favorite grape soda now comes in the no-cal variety!)

Five things in my van:
1) Dental floss.
2) Manicure kit.
3) 2 children's bikes with accompanying helmets (yeah, I had to fold the back seat down to fit them in and the handlebars stab my kids in the back of the head).
4) Workout bag with 2 pair boxing gloves, jump rope and 5-lb weights (and dental floss).
5) A Swiffer duster (to dust my dashboard while I go through the car wash).

Five things in my "junk drawer":
1) Dental floss (Yes, I do realize there is a pattern here).
2) A mini screwdriver set, not missing any pieces.
3) 8 packages of sugar-free gum (stash gets replenished every Friday).
4) Dog and cat vitamins (never used).
5) 3 solar-powered pocket-sized calculators.



Monday, May 22

Monday Madness

I found this cute site called "Monday Madness" where a question is posed every Monday and you can answer it in your blog. Today's question is:

How many simple things have you learned to appreciate more for one reason or another?

1) Warm Saturday mornings where the breeze is blowing, the sun is shining and I can sit on the porch drinking my coffee, reading book.
2) Watching the hummingbirds drink from the feeder attached to my sliding glass door.
3) Hearing my kids burst through the door after school in the afternoons, all excited to be home.
4) Having my husband IM me from work just to say 'hi'.
5) A new set of workout clothes.

Saturday, May 20

What Boys are Made Of....

Based on last night's birthday sleepover of three 10-year olds and an 11-year-old boy, in the last 24 hours, they are made of:

2 large cheese pizzas, two 2-liters of soda, an 8-pack of Sunny D, another 8-pack of chocolate milk, 1/2-gallon of white milk, 1/2 of a 1/4-sheet cake, 4 boxes of Cracker Jacks, 8 packages of assorted Grips snacks, 4 packages of cheese/peanut butter crackers, 20 chocolate chip pancakes, 8 waffles with syrup, 1 can of chicken noodle soup, four packages of Easy Mac and whatever else that got eaten too quickly for me to inventory. In addition, all these ingredients can survive on 2 hours of sleep, 10 hours of XBOX along with four rounds of 'army' and a game of 'touchdown' for fuel.

Lucky for me, one little sister begged to take Little Chic home for the night, so I didn't have a whiney-pot complaining about 'nobody to play with'. As they say, 'A good time was had by all'.

I'm a Blogging Chick

For my regular readers, you might find comments by some new names. I recently joined this group of awesome bloggers - Blogging Chicks...You'll find the blogroll (list of all the members) down on the right if you want to check out the blogs of some of these other girls.

Friday, May 19

Green Thumb, Hairy Tongue

As ill-equipped as I am to have plants flourish under my care, Little Chic has been blessed with an inbred green thumb. She loves plants, tends to them, remembers to water them, fusses over them every day and they just grow. She was thrilled when I bought her a couple of the little 'water-and-grow' kits where you soak a dried up dirt clod in water and it expands to 10 times its original size and fluffs up into potting soil. The seeds are included along with a miniature clay pot and if you are lucky and the seeds aren't too old, a few days of waiting will produce a flower, herb or whatever variety of plant you've selected.

Last Friday afternoon, Caroline followed her directions to the letter and planted her morning glories. After two days of waiting for Eric to plant his kit of forget-me-nots, she took over his flowers and claimed them as her own as well. She was so excited when a few days later, sprouts showed up, and by the end of the week, she had little stalks of plants that had reached about 3 inches in height. We decided the miniature pots weren't going to last another day longer, and we got out some soil and larger pots to replant the baby flowers into. Just as we were getting ready to transplant them, Caroline was horrified to realize that Bobcat had followed her lead and looked the plants over--nibbling the tops off the stalks of one of the varieties.

That's the closest I've ever seen Caroline to really getting after Bobcat for being naughty. She and I both usually ooh and aaah over all the antics our bad cat does, and we think she is so funny when she regularly gets into trouble. This time, Bobcat just about pushed the limits--luckily we were able to save most of the plants and I think we'll still have a good selection since many of the seeds seem to have taken. I guess that's why they say curiosity kills the cat--it's the revenge of the plant owner that will do her in.

Wednesday, May 17

Grand Theft Auto

Picture this....you dash into the grocery store to grab a few needed items, run out in a hurry, unlock the van door with your clicker-thingy, hop in as you toss the bag into the passenger seat next to you and attempt to insert the key into the ignition. The key doesn't fit. WEIRD. You take a quick glance around and realize your groceries are sitting on top of some papers that you don't remember leaving in the passenger seat. You glance behind you quickly, only to realize there is a car seat in the back, and your kids haven't sat in a car seat for several years. It suddenly dawns on you that you are in the twilight zone....No, you are in the wrong vehicle.

That actually happened to me today. The strange thing is, it is the second time it has happened to me in the last four years since I bought my van. When we originally shopped around for a van, my first one ever, I had only a couple of requirements. One was that we had to have a passenger door on each side of the van so each kid could get in their respective side. The second was that the passenger seats had to be bucket seats rather than a bench. The third, not a requirement until I saw it, but I wanted the beautiful 'Patriot Blue' one sitting in the lot. At the time the color seemed unique. Since I drove it out of the lot, I realized myself and every other person owning a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport had fallen in love with Patriot Blue.

I have often caught my children yanking on the door of somebody else's vehicle while they admonished me that I had forgotten to unlock the van. I have often walked up to the wrong vehicle only to realize that my remote entry gadget wouldn't work. But twice, both in grocery store parking lots, I have mistaken somebody else's identical vehicle for my own, opened the door, plopped my butt in the seat and tried to stuff my key into their ignition, only to find some little detail, like rubber floor mats or a car seat, that doesn't belong in my van. In both instances, I slinked out of the van, my eyes darting around to make sure nobody was observing me, and nonchalantly meandered to the correct wheels, entered like nothing out of the ordinary was going on, and drove away. In both instances, I had the fleeting thought that perhaps my remote entry clicker did in fact, unlock their car. But upon trying to relock it with my clicker, it didn't work either time.

I don't know why I'm the one whose embarrassed. What kind of moron leaves their car doors unlocked?! Next time I make this little blunder, if their car is cleaner than mine, I'm takin' it.

Tuesday, May 16

The ABCs of Me

Accent - A little bit northern with a few southern twangs thrown in for good measure.
Book of the Bible - I read the book of Psalms a lot, but I am starting to learn a lot about the book of John and I really like it.
Chore I don't like - Empyting the trash.
Dog or cat - CAT!!
Essential electronic - My microwave (otherwise my kids wouldn't eat)!
Favorite cologne - Rice flower and shea body spray from Bath & Body works.
Gold or silver - Silver (white gold, actually).
Handbag - A new & different one for each season and I get rid of them after the season. Current one looks like the top of a pair of jeans complete with real fly, belt, pockets and belt loops courtesy of my sister, Amy. (I'll be keeping that one, of course).
Insomnia - Only if I take an afternoon nap on Sunday or sleep in too late on Saturday.
Job title - SAHM, at-home transcriptionist, PTA president
Kids - 2 little people who were individually designed just for me. My brainy boy is 10 and is sweet, articulate and sensitive. My Little Chic is 8 and is creative, thoughtful and athletic. Oh, and my 42-year-old is funny, rambunctious and makes life interesting.
Living arrangements - I share my abode with one adult male who pretends he is a wild hunter, adrenaline junkie and saver of lives. In reality he's the dad of my kids and my one & only. I also make room for a boy & girl who like to call me 'mom' along with a dog who has a heart attack if you don't pay enough attention to her, a cat who chews all the drawstrings off my workout clothes and 2 baby turtles who will try to make food of my finger if I put it too close to their mouths.
Most admirable trait - I would have to say that I am extremely reliable. If I commit, you can consider it done.
Naughtiest childhood behavior - Manipulating my brother and sister to do what I wanted them to.
Overnight hospital stay - At 7 years old to have my tonsils out (I got to visit the other patients with the dashingly handsome orderly named 'Sonny') and twice to have my children.
Phobias - I am a fierce opposer of any type of phobia that controls my behavior. Therefore, although I have had a few from time to time, I always, without fail face them. Some I've forced myself to master are: the dark, elevators (or any tight space), public speaking, snakes, bugs or other creepy creatures, needles, flying, and probably others. I haven't quite gotten over my fear of heights.
Quote - "Impossible is nothing." -Adidas
Religion - Religion is rituals and stuff you can say you believe without changing the way you live. I have faith in and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Siblings - I have one unusually intelligent, kindhearted brother who is exactly, to the day, two years younger than me. I have a gifted, creative sister who is 10-days-less-than-exactly two years to the day younger than my brother (Mine & Bro's b-days are April 29, Lil' sis is April 19).
Time I wake up - 7am out of obligation, 12 noon if I could have what I wanted. I should have been born a racoon or some other nocturnal animal.
Unusual talent or skill - I have an uncontrollable urge to research. Everything. Until there is nothing else to find out. Tell me something, and if I think you might be wrong about it, or there might be more information about it....I'll find out every tidbit of discussion, research, information and data that exists on said topic.
Vegetable I refuse to eat - I try EVERYTHING once. As far as I know I have never refused to eat at least a bite of something presented to me...if only out of curiosity. I don't fix, order, serve myself or ask for brussel sprouts. But I have tried them and I think they are really cute when they are still on their stalk.
Worst habit - I have a hard time making myself get right to tasks that I dread or don't like. I seem compelled to procrastinate at least a bit, usually way too long. It seems that I'm just going to have to start liking to do that stuff, because the procrastination habit isn't getting any better.
X-rays - Dental ones, whenever they are due. Oh, and that first mammogram---surprising just how flat they can get a cone-shaped piece of body when they pancake it between metal slabs.
Yummy stuff I cook - I'm partial to my chocolate chip cheesecake, but others seem to really like my potato/cheese/bacon soup.
Zoo animal I like the most - Without a doubt, monkeys. Especially gorillas. I think it is absolutely hilarious to watch the gross stuff they do like eating bugs out of each others ears.

Monday, May 15

Mom-hood, It's a Wonderful Thing.....and then

I've been the mom to a son for the past 10 Mother's Days. I've had a Mother's Day with a daughter for 8. In reflection on how life changes once you become the caretaker and provider of love and nourishment for another person, I've realized that some experiences happen only to those people who have taken on that role. In honor of my 2 kids, here are 10 things that are great, superb, jolly, good and positive about being a mom, and then 8 things that could be categorized as unfortunate, sad, negative, icky or such.

10a) It's great to have kids who burst through the door every afternoon after school and have their heart jump with joy when they see you.

10b) It's not so great when you're in a restaurant and you realize that you dripped yellow mustard all over the baby's legs, new outfit and it's soaked into your entire lap as well....even worse when the mustard is warm and doesn't smell like mustard should.

9a) It's great to have kids love to hear you to sing their favorite lullaby at night, even when everybody else would beg you not to sing.

9b) It's not so great when you have to sing that same song twice a night, (once for each kid) and you have been doing so for the last 10 years.

8a) It's great that you can get in the car and go to Chuck E Cheese, McDonald's Playland and the video arcade and make every passenger happy for the night.

8b) It's not so great when I go grocery shopping with kids in tow and they drive the cart into every shopper we pass in the aisle.

7a) It's great to get to 'hero' status just by buying chocolate-frosted sugar bomb cereal.

7b) It's not so great when the kids realize you're not perfect because you overreacted and yelled at them when they didn't deserve it.

6a) It's great to get in the car to run down to meet your kids for lunch at school, and know you'll be like a celebrity they introduce all their friends to.

6b) It's not so great to get in the car for the 7th time of the day to make an emergency run down to school for an important piece of forgotten homework.

5a) It's great to have somebody come up and tell you that your kid is unusually bright or kind or notice some equally outstanding trait about them.

5b) It's not so great when you have to referee the umpteenth bickering topic of the evening.

4a) It's great to have your kid emulate a positive character trait without you forcing them to.

4b) It's not so great to have that aching feeling you get when you have to correct your kid for lying, being disrespectful or unkind.

3a) It's great to have somebody willing to tell an unending string of jokes to you for the entire evening.

3b) It's not so great to coach your kid through their first experience of getting their feelings hurt. That's where my kickboxing experience comes in handy.

2) It's great to have somebody sit on your lap to cheer you up when you are blue.

1) It's great to know that when their all grown up, I'll get to always be the 'good guy' (grandma) and never have to be the 'bad guy'!

Saturday, May 13

SIGNS of the Times

Bet you've never seen this before:

"Feel free to relax. Your children are welcome to wait in our lobby unsupervized while you tan."

Well, I saw it. For real. Last night when I went to my local tanning salon. Now, I would actually take advantage of this offer being that my kids are almost 9 yrs and 10 yrs, and they would welcome a chance to sit and play their Gameboys uninterrupted while I soak a few rays. They know they'd have a mean mommy if they caused any trouble while I am fake-baking.

But I suppose I figured the receptionist would be hanging around, keeping the kids entertained if needed and out of mischief if required. Apparently cleaning the beds and setting the bed timers while chatting on the phone with your boyfriend requires too much concentration to keep a hairy eyeball on the clients' children while the parent is otherwise occupied. So they say 'We just want you to know, your kids will be 'on their own' but feel free to let them loose!'

As a post-script, I know all about the dangers of tanning, the skin cancer risk, the wrinkle-inducing factors and all that. So no need to lecture. I get regular skin checks by my doctor, nobody is going to be admiring me anyway when I'm 70 (except my honey, who likes my tan) and I have found that cellulite is so much easier to accept when it is tan than when it is white!~

Friday, May 12

My Husband, the OREH

That would be 'hero' spelled backward. Now normally, I am his biggest fan because of all the macho-bravery stuff he does every day. But today, I'm just a little irked! The story is this. A couple of weeks before Palm Sunday I got a wicked virus that kept me feeling yuck for almost 3 weeks. I went to the Dr. who insisted it was sinus, but it felt more like the flu to me with laryngitis, headache, coughing incessantly and the like. I finally kicked it, but not before missing the church cantata I had a solo in, and passing it on to my beloved. He too, suffered, moaning and groaning for about 3 weeks (much more loudly than I, of course) and went on a business trip before he was fully recovered. He 'forgot' to take with him the remainder of his medicine and came home just about as miserable as he had been at the start of his sickness. His diagnosis, from a different doctor, was Coxsackie Virus (hand, foot, mouth disease) so who knows if we each had the same thing--our symptoms were pretty much alike.

Soooo, as of yesterday morning, I am again waking up with a sore throat and stuffy nose. Now I generally am a healthy person, and I will take my once-a-year sinus infection or cold all in stride. That is especially true if it just happens upon me in the course of the wintertime. It's a little harder to take when the germ has been passed to me by somebody I know, but I can still be a good sport. But, when I've already passed it down the line, I do not expect to get it back. I am like this with everything I give away, not just germs. If I pass clothes on, I don't want them returned. If I have a yard sale, all the leftovers go to the Salvation Army--nothing comes back in the house.

So you can understand my crankiness that I have been 'tagged' back by Mr. Sicky who is an awesome nurse, but only when he's feeling good himself. I guess it's a lucky thing that my mom, who is a real-life nurse, will be arriving tonight. Frankly, the thing that gets me the most is not the annoying symptoms, but the fact that once again, I am supposed to sing in church on Sunday morning for Mother's Day and likely won't be able to. Bah Humbug!

Thursday, May 11

Waaaay Behind Schedule

Yeah, well, most of you know from previous posts that I am not a real strong candidate in the Home Ec department. I require cleanliness and attempt at tidiness, but the decorating situation at the Olsen's is nothing to make a special trip for. I love having a house that looks like it is from the pages of Home & Garden or even the Log Home catalog, but truly I hate nothing more than getting it that way. Once it's done, I'm all about it, enjoying every minute, but the process of decorating, arranging and fixing up just does not hold any creative appeal for me whatsoever.

It is with this preface that I admit that today, yes, May 11, I am just taking down the last of my winter decor. That would include 2 or 3 snowman knickknacks and a couple of garland sprays that have pinecones and other such 'cold weather' connotations. I tell myself and others that I take down my Christmas decorations halfway through January and I take down my snowman stuff before Easter. Then I put up my fall stuff the first week of school, Thanksgiving stuff right after Halloween and Christmas stuff right after Thanksgiving. BUT the truth is, I just love calendars, schedule books, dates and lists, so it simply gives me a chance to mentally jot myself a note. Quite frankly, I could really care less about when or if I ever get the stuff up OR down, and the only thing that springs me to action is embarrassment when I know in advance that someone will be stopping by and will take notice. That someone this weekend, is my mother, who is a decorating fiend. She, like her own mother, loves decorating, just for the sake of putting things up and taking things down. Now she isn't judgmental at all, and other than a silent chuckle, she wouldn't care if I just kept my snowmen up until it was winter again, but I do have some pride, people. So for that reason, I'll be gritting my teeth, digging out my box(es) of lovely spring/summer themed candles, pictures, berry garland, etc., and will sit with a self-satisfied smile as I watch Survivor tonight, surrounded by things that represent the season that is already fading into the next one. I just have to ignore that little voice that says "what's wrong with you?....This should have been done ages ago". I answer to myself that decorating doesn't get the laundry done and then I feel so much better.

Wednesday, May 10

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

With Mother's Day coming on the heels of my birthday, Eric's birthday and John's looming right after Mother's Day is over, I've reverted to an age-old, time-tested method of providing reminders and hints via my daughter. I used to have to go right to the source and say that although I was positive John had picked out just the right gift for me, I saw 'so-and-so' that I'd really like. I didn't do this because John slacks in the gift department. He is a fantastic gift selector. I just needed to make sure he actually remembered....for my own peace of mind. Sly boy that he is, he usually had already made some sort of plans, but invariably, he'd add my suggestion to whatever gift he'd already lined up and I wouldn't have to fret all week that he had forgotten.

BUT, this year, I found a gift that I'll be giving to my children. It is the "Understand Your Mother peppermint flavor breath spray". I don't need to give it to my own mom, because her mother is in Heaven, and I actually don't need it myself, since the process of becoming a mother has the same effect as the breath spray--Mom's language and reasonining becomes instantly more clear and sane.

But I'm thinking that my children will actually be able to take advantage of the newfound knowlege this product promises. The advertisement assures "you will now instantly understand your mother".

IMAGINE: I say, "Sweetie, put your toys away" when in reality I mean "If you don't pick up that mess on the floor, the garbage man is going to be in for a real shock when I load the bins with all your prized posessions and then to ease my guilt, I'll have to run over to the Dress Barn and buy myself that new outfit for Mother's Day that I passed up last time I was there".

How does it work? No one seems to know. They say that perhaps the peppermint flavor activates special receptors in your brain, or maybe it works because the user really, really wants it to. It doesn't matter, though. My kids will thank me. Now I've just gotta watch that thought process and start saying what I really mean, in the most nurturing way possible, of course.

Monday, May 8

Fridge on the Fritz

I came home in a rush today, all out of sync with my routine schedule. Because of a field trip with Brainy Boy on Friday, I missed my regular Friday grocery shopping. We were able to limp through the weekend with the groceries I had on hand, but by today we were 'food-poor'. So between kickboxing and an after-lunch PTA meeting, I jetted to Super Walmart to buy the staples to get us through until Friday rolls around again.

Not wanting to leave the groceries in the car through our summer-like afternoon, I zipped into the house to fling the cold stuff into the refrigerator. Being in such a hurry to get the kids from school in time for Brownie Scouts, I didn't give more than a cursory glance inside. Didn't notice anything. Nada. Nuttin'. Zip.

When we returned from our various afternoon stops, I proceeded to make dinner. I did notice that the chicken I took out of the refrigerator seemed curiously room-temp. And then I noticed that the cheese had that left-out-on-the-counter-on-a-warm-summer-afternoon stickiness even though it too had just come out of the refrigerator. A quick check into the abyss revealed the light on but that weird smell refrigerators have when they have been unplugged for, say, a day or two. A confirmation of the freezer indicated the same thing--everything totally and completely thawed, but cool. Lucky for me, being in the food-poor state we were, I didn't have an overabundance of food to toss.

My first remedy was to check the temperature adjusters for the freezer and refrigerator. I immediately slid them to the coolest setting for both. Miraculously the freezer began humming away, but a check about half an hour later revealed 'lights on, but nobody home'. I began wiggling the plug as well as sliding the dials back and forth a few times, and somehow the motor began humming again. At this point, I haven't decided if it was a fluke and somebody switched the temperature gauges or if our refrigerator is indeed cutting in and out.

By tomorrow morning, I'll know for sure what I'm getting for Mother's Day if this thing is still acting up. AND I'll be taking my kids out to eat tomorrow night while John is at fire training.

Sunday, May 7

Lucky 'Twinkle Toes'

Little Chic has owned a cat for about two years. It was her dream from the time she was about two years old until she was six when 'Bobcat' arrived at our house. The thing is, John barely toelrates the kitty. He really hates cat fur. I, on the other hand, totally and absolutely uh-dore this animal and I keep trying to 'steal' her away from Little Chic. I think the cat acts hilarious, I think she is beautiful and I think she provides more entertainment than about any other living creature residing in our household. She's actually not really that affectionate, which for some reason, is part of her appeal to me. She is pleasant enough, but in typical cat-like fashion, she chooses if and when she allows you to dote on her. If you even pretend that you are going to get close enough to pet her, she scampers away until she is good and ready to be fondled. As a result, I am on a daily mission to chase her around the house trying to convince her to be my lap cat. It hasn't worked so far.

The odd thing about this cat turns out to be a pretty common anomaly...she has too many toes on her paws. Apparently when cats get inbred too much, they often come out with a few too many digits. However, the old wives tale version of this oddity is that extra toes mean the cat is lucky. Since I'm so enamored with this creature, her oversized paws just make her all the more adorable to me. I've even put up with her chewing all the drawstrings off every pair of workout shorts and pants that I own....I guess I figure the luck rubs off on my workout clothes and I'll get better results.

This extra-digit phenomenon can occur with humans as well. Before I had children, I just thought this was the wild imagination of some goofy teenager trying to poke fun at some unfortuate kid at school. However since having children of my own, I've actually known three different families to have children with an extra digit of one limb or another--one was an extra toe, one was an extra pinky and one was an extra thumb. I've only actually seen the child with the extra thumb, but in all three cases the extra part was removed in the first few months of life with no residual to show for it.

At this point, I am evaluating the part of the story that says it's lucky. I've been watching my own household as well as the houses of those that had the human children with the same condition. So far, the results are looking pretty good. But until I can say for sure about the luck thing, I'm just noticing the extra-loud tapping that occurs when those extra claws hit the floor, and so for now, I call her 'Twinkle Toes'.

Saturday, May 6

Magnet Ball

I just spent one of the most miserable hours watching a common children's game. Technically it was soccer, but routinely call it 'magnet ball'. I love this term, because it relates to pretty much every sport that the 10-and-under crowd plays. It can be used with basketball, T-ball, soccer, or any other game where the children should be playing as a team. It comes from the tendency for each player to completely forget any drill, practice or position they've learned and just spring into action, glue themselves shoulder-to-shoulder into a little clump and follow the ball around the field. Not much gets accomplished in a game like this, but all the players come off the field smiling because they got lots of glimpses of the ball in between everyone else's feet.

The misery wasn't because of the action on the field, but because of the weather. We've had a string of days from paradise, and this morning's blustery, rainy conditions made me slowly freeze to death as I huddled on the side yelling things like "pass" and "shoot". It's especially hard to take the dreary weather on the heels of sublime conditions, and it really makes me cross to hear comments like 'we really needed the rain' or 'it'll be good for the flowers'. I want the Garden of Eden, people- all sunshine, warm temperature, no rain, lush vegetation!

So, I'll be staying inside today, perhaps jetting out for a quick tanning session to pretend I'm at the beach and reveling in the fact that Caroline's team won the game 11-0 because the entire team played offense. Since they had longer legs and ran faster than the opposite team's players, defense wasn't really that critical this time around.

Seriously, Caroline has a dedicated, skilled coach who really would prefer to have the kids spend the the season in practice with no games at all. He has taught them solid basic skills and many of them play beyond the typical ability for this age. But since they are 9 and under, it takes them a game or two to remember how to put those drills into play during a game. The coach is so popular that he has had the same basic team for the last 4 years or so. Each season, his players request to be on his team so many of the same kids are playing together year after year. I'm hoping soccer ends up being Caroline's sport of choice, because a) I don't mind watching it b) she's played long enough already that by high school she might be really good c) a college scholarship would be very handy. No pressure here!

Thursday, May 4

Gotta Love those Gadgets

As mentioned in an earlier post this week, our weather has been exceedingly beautiful. In fact, every year I live in upstate NY, our weather seems to get milder. We have actually had a decent spring with summer-like temperatures occasionally. With this, brings about profuse complaining from Little Chic who is perpetually hot. Combine that with school buildings that still have their heat on full-blast as if we live at the Arctic Circle. Under normal winter conditions, Little Chic will fuss and whine about having to wear socks of all things with her shoes, protest loudly about having to wear long sleeves much less any sort of jacket and insists that her legs will NOT get cold while wading through snow on the way to church if she wears a dress without stockings.

Because of her propensity for imaginary hot flashes I thought it a bit odd that she has been dragging out summer shirts these last few weeks and pairing them with, of all things, pants! Today when I asked why she didn't wear the adorable new skort (which she usually loves) that went with the new top she had on (with long pants), she informed me that her legs are ......"hairy".

Well....that is all this Mom needed to hear. First of all, I remember being at that stage in about 3rd or 4th grade and since the predetermined age of shaving when I was growing up was 12, I was in a pickle. I hit adolescence/puberty at a way-too-early age, so by the time I was 9 or so, I had the same problem as Little Chic. I remember being absolutely mortified, but luckily, the powers that be had pity and bent the rules at bit to remedy my own fuzzy situation. Second, as anyone who knows me can attest, I can hardly refrain from the opportunity to legitimately have an excuse to try out some new gadget or product that I've seen on the market. And let me tell you, that VEET thingy has just been trying to jump in my basket every single time I'm in the hair-removal aisle. The problem is, I'm not into the whole bother of cream dipilatories, since the razor in the shower is just too convenient so I really didn't have a proper reason to buy it.

BUT, Little Chic is just waaay too young to be trusted with a sharp, slicing device on her skin, so although I don't want to rush her into maturity, she came up with the problem on her own, and I had the perfect solution (hee-hee). So we made an emergency stop by CVS and found a thrilling discovery! Apparently Nair has jumped on the bandwagon and now has their own little fake shaver to use with their hair-removal cream and it was on sale (for half price!) So for $3.86, I got to bond with my daughter as we went over the finer points of female grooming, she'll be able to wear a skirt tomorrow and I got to satisfy the urge I've been resisting since the VEET razor came out last summer.

Oh, and I also got to explain the expression "soft as a baby's butt". She thought that was pretty funny.

I What?

I AM: A reality TV nut
I WANT: To be able to run 5 miles without stopping
I WISH: I weren't such a procrastinator of things I don't want to do
I HATE: Bread pudding
I LOVE: Gooey desserts
I MISS: My in-laws living in town
I FEAR: My kids getting seriously hurt or sick
I HEAR: The Xbox and TV running simultaneously
I WONDER: Why God has blessed me so much
I REGRET: Not having my sister as my maid of honor in my wedding
I AM NOT: Artistic
I DANCE: Like somebody who never dances
I SING: The exact same lullaby twice every single night (Hush Little Baby to each kid)
I CRY: When I'm frustrated
I AM NOT ALWAYS: Tidy
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: Lots of lists and calendars
I WRITE: With little tiny printing
I CONFUSE: My kids when I lecture them too much
I NEED: To connect with at least one friend every single day
I SHOULD: Do more transcription and less web surfing
I START: Lots of projects
I FINISH: Reading every magazine I can get my hands on (cover to cover)

Tuesday, May 2

Decades


It's hard to believe, but it's true. I'm the mom to a kid who has been alive a decade. My recent birthday didn't make me feel as old as his 10th does! This little guy was a life-changing blessing to me. I married thinking I didn't ever want kids. Luckily, God knew I did and gave them to me anyway once He knew I was ready. Being a mom to he and his sister revealed the authentic me. I'll never be the same.

Here are the top 10 things I love about my kid:

1) He plays army out in the front yard with no self-consciousness of the car passengers thinking he's a nut.
2) He loves to read even more than I do - anything from history books to comic books.
3) He is truly the most spiritually astute child I've ever met. His quirk is that he prays before he eats his bowl of cereal in the morning. Both of them. And then again for his milk.
4) Nothing makes him more upset than when somebody is mean to one of his friends. He's out for justice when that happens.
5) It makes him really happy when people laugh at one of his jokes. When they don't laugh, he asks me whether I think he's funny or not.
6) He hears a big word that he doesn't know, learns the meaning and then uses it the first chance he can fit it in to conversation.
7) He's still not embarrassed to hug and kiss me in front of his friends and he loves me to visit him for lunch at school.
8) He never lies. Ever. About anything.
9) I'm one of his 2 favorite people in the world. His dad is the other.
10) He's still the perfect mix between little boy and big kid.

Monday, May 1

Mission ACCOMPLISHED

I've had an embarrassing little secret for the last few years...my kid does not know how to ride his bike. Oh, okay, I'll be honest. Neither of my kids knows how to ride their bikes.

The 'situation' started out pretty normal-like when Eric was around 5. Both kids had small two-wheeler bikes with training wheels and although we have no place for them to ride at home, I would haul the bikes into the back of the van and trek us down to the nearest park to practice. After about 15-20 minutes of riding up and down the bike paths, the kids would get distracted by the playground and the biking would be finished. This continued for 2 summers or so and the training wheels never came off.

Then last summer, finally John and I got desperate and we bought the kids brand new 'big-kid' bikes without training wheels, new bike helmets and the whole she-bang in order to get the kids all excited. It actually worked for the first 15 minutes or so until they realized that the bikes were really too tall making it harder for them to balance, therefore not getting us any closer to our goal. John and I fretted all summer long about it, but every attempt to lure the kids back to the bike paths was met with fierce resistance. The addition of scooters to the family toy bin didn't help matters either.

Fast forward until this spring as John and I once again revisited our particular failure as parents to produce children with adequate balancing skills for this universal ability of bike riding. Our fondest dreams of packing the bikes for our family camping trips this summer seemed in jeopardy. But being the persistent mom that I am, I wrapped up a 'macho-looking' new helmet for Eric's upcoming birthday, told him how much he deserved an early birthday present and presented it to him with a lot of grandeur. Then I announced that since dad was going out of town on a business trip and the weather was too good to waste, we were going on a bike-riding lesson. Neither of the two were overly thrilled with the prospect, but the promise of visiting the playground if they humored mom for a few runs down the bike path changed their attitudes. Caroline even got into the spirit of things complaining that it wasn't fair that she didn't have a new helmet. I quickly agreed that we would run right out and get her one at the first chance.

I am so pleased to report that our little escapade had the desired effect. Without John even being present, I returned home with not one, but two children who can ride their bikes! Eric needed only a steadying hand as he pedaled off for the first time, and he was out of sight for practically the next two hours. Caroline needed a safety net for about 20 minutes until she got her confidence up, but that was okay since I don't have kickboxing on the weekends and needed a run anyway. I could barely get the two of them off the bikes for the rest of the evening. And just to cement their new skill in place, I kept the bikes in the back of the van so they could ride for another hour tonight.

Now that we have successfully gotten over this hurdle, I just need to find a remedy for the sore butts they both have. But nothing can wipe the grin off my face since I can say that my boy learned to ride his bike before his 10th birthday. I just won't add it was 2 days before...