Sunday, December 14, 2008

I'm going to wet my pants.

Like many of us, my favorite parts of the holidays are not necessarily related to the gifts. Or even the food. Yummy...

Like many mommies, I absolutely love the excitement on my children's faces - throughout the entire season. I love watching the surprise, joy, disbelief-yet-belief, and fascination in their eyes each time they see signs of Christmas Magic. I love their little voices singing Rudolph and Jingle Bells in the backseat. Hearing them squeal at holiday lights - even the weakest displays - as we drive through the neighborhood. I love how Big Girl and I fain surprise each year to find, once again, the same collection of toy soldiers, wreaths, bells, French horns and angels suspended from the street lamps on 3rd Street. These things, of course, are a few of my favorite Mommy Holiday Moments.

I have not, though, been a Mommy forever. Consequently, some of my holiday favorites are completely unrelated to my Darling Princesses.

For instance, I so look forward to the family tradition my brothers and I have developed. It seems that, even as an adult, my siblings have a unique effect on me. They bring me to tears with laughter. In fact, they nearly bring me to wetting myself...EVERY TIME. It is just as it has always been. I cannot put my finger on the mystery behind their power over my Giggle Box. Nonetheless, they are masters at overturning it.

Perhaps it is their abilities to impersonate and speak in accents. Very politically INcorrect accents.

Perhaps their mere presence summons my personal immaturities. It never fails that our conversations, at some point, turn to bodily functions.

Perhaps it is the Power of Three. Any Charmed fans out there??

Perhaps it is merely contagious, and they were looking forward to this fun as much as I was.

Perhaps it is the unique bond that only siblings can know. After all, we've been "playing together" all our lives.

Whatever the cause, I'm so glad it's there. I'm also thankful to see this bond - this love of laughter - emerging in my daughters' sistership. My husband and I love to hear their giggles escalate to side-splitting, pants-wetting decibels. We turn, smiling to each other, oblivious to whatever it is that is so funny. For a moment, we both giggle, too....

...until we have to yell at them....but that is another post.

Buried Treasure

I was "thumbing" through my posts and back-tagging posts tonight, when I stumbled upon this unpublished piece. I assumed it was incomplete and began rereading it. I decided it was a story worth sharing, so here it is. This post was originally titled "My Little Neurotic". Hope you enjoy!


I feel a little bit guilty for the title, but it's true.

My Big Girl appears to be following in Neurotic Mommy's footsteps. Tonight we had a mini-princess-meltdown about a costume parade that has yet to happen. Mind you, the Little Princess has NO exposure to this event in the past, but she seems to have sense of what is to come.

This story starts last year when she was in Pre-K. On the 100th day of school, they had an (I'm sure) adorable little, miniature parade that included only the 30 students in the four year-old program. Apparently, she had a not-so-mini-meltdown on this day. It was too loud (???) and there were too many people (???). She refused to walk and, thank God, one of her loving, wonderful teachers stayed with her and held her hand, lovingly reassuring her as they trailed behind her 29 peers and their teachers.

Now she has joined my school, which goes, admittedly, a bit over the top when it comes to celebrations and...well, just about everything. She has no idea what she's in for. Regardless, tonight, she hysterically sobbed, "They think I'm going to be in the parade, BUT I'M NOT!!!" With great contempt she declared her intentions -- she would just stand in the hallway. (The reality is, she probably won't even want to do that tomorrow.)

Not ten minutes after this episode, which came a mere 5 minutes after her daily after-school snack meltdown, Big Girl emphatically told her sister, Little Girl, "I just can't take it. I cannot take your crying. You cry about everything! You cry when you want something, you cry for food, you cry for your pacie, you cry for your drink. I cannot take this crying all the time!"

OK. Am I hearing things? Did she really just say that? Who does she think she is???

I tried. I tried really hard to be as sweet as I could be, but I just HAD to point out to her how much she sounded like she was talking about HERSELF.

"Baby, do you know anyone else who cries a lot? What you just said sounded a lot like you..." I began to explain. Of course, she denied any parallels.

I KID YOU NOT -- It was not 1 minute later when she decided she was thirsty. Yep. You guessed it! MELTDOWN, BABY!

Do you ever feel like you're the only sane one? For me, that's a little sad...

I need to teach this girl to vacuum.

Author's Note: Wondering how it all worked out with the parade? She made liars out of us -- completely. Fire Daddy, faculty friends, other parents and I were all braced for the worst...and Big Girl paraded proudly as Sleeping Beauty with the rest of the approximately 400 Kindergarteners and first graders -- sans tears. I thought I was going to faint out of shock! Who knew?

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Runaway Train

This year, my darling Big Brother and sister-in-law, have orchestrated a family reunion trip to Disney World for the holidays. By family reunion, I do not mean the "greats" and "seconds". I mean the grandparents (MJ and Pop), the siblings (Big Brother, Little Brother*term used loosely because they both tower over me, et moi), the spouses (Sister #1 - "Louanne", Sister #2 - "Tammy" , and Fire Daddy), and the little squirts (Big Girl, Little Girl and Curly Cuz -who belongs to Little Brother and Tammy, and is the same age as Big Girl, 5).


That's how I started this post yesterday morning. However, the inspiration has faded...I'll tell more about that little excursion later. Another time, another post. Instead, a tiny detail within that paragaph caught my eye......Anyone up for a ride on a runaway train? I'm rollin' with it!

Speaking of Louanne and Tammy...those are not their real names. As I was running to the restroom yesterday for the upteenth time (started the day with a Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte with an extra shot of espresso, quickly followed with a Large Sweet Tea from Mickey D's), the subject of nicknames entered my mind. My sister Tammy is desperately trying to dub me "Jens". I'm not sure why, apparently she thinks it fits. Do I mind? Not at all. In fact, I'm a big fan of nicknames.

In the past, I've been referred to as "Jen-nay" (the Forrest Gump years), "Honeydew" (or some other fruit...old boyfriend), "Jen Mama" (best friend), my middle name alone for some folks, my last name alone seems to stick for others, and "Princess" (a man at my school's current name for me). Then there's the parental nicknames of "Pumpkin" and "Lizardabeth" or just "Lizard". Not to mention the original nickname -- "Jenn". Funny, my parents did not start that. A friend did. Consequently, when my sister Louanne met me, I think she thought I didn't like "Jenny". She made visible efforts to always refer to me as "Jenn", apologizing if she slipped and called me by my first name.

In the end, I don't mind. I didn't even mind when folks stretched my name and spoke it like poor ol' Forrest. Nicknames don't bother me -- well, within reason. I can't say I loved it when my father-in-law called me "Hippo" for a short time. But, I also realize he was just pullin' my pigtails.

There is one name I do mind. Jennifer. Allow me to publicly proclaim this now.

My name is NOT Jennifer.

Just because MOST parents name their child Jennifer and call them Jenny, does NOT mean I am a Jennifer.

My Birth Certificate clearly states that my name is Jenny. J-E-N-N-Y. That's all.

Get over it folks.

Please do not call me Jennifer.

I must say, over the years, believe it or not, I have mellowed about this...a little. For instance, there is one teacher at my school that comes to mind. She is convinced, I know, that I am Jennifer. I know this, because she calls me Jennifer in the middle of sentences ALL THE TIME.

"I'm telling you, Jennifer, you should hear........"

I am not so rude, anymore, to correct her. I'm waiting, patiently and politely, for an appropriate moment to sweetly explain, "By the way. I don't mean to be rude, so please don't take this the wrong way, but..." and then apologize profusely.

I did this last year -- in an email -- with a different teacher at my school. I'm afraid she thought I was snapping at her, despite my prefacing the correction with disclaimers and following up with apologies.

What has the world come to? I recall a time in the 6th grade when I blatantly argued with a teacher -- with the whole class as my witness -- that my name WAS NOT Jennifer.

T: Jennifer.....blah blah blah....
Me: (silence)
T: Jennifer!
Me: Are you talking to me?
T: I said "Jennifer"...
Me: My name's not Jennifer. It's Jenny.
T: Yes. But, it's really Jennifer.
Me: No. It's really Jenny.
T: Yes, but your parents really named you Jennifer and you like to be called Jenny.
Me: No. My parents really named me Jenny and I go by Jenny. It's on my Birth Certificate. Would you like to see it?

What a smartie pants. I think back on that day and am embarrassed at how rude I was to that adult. However, I also think about some of the fifth graders I work with, and the sixth graders I worked with years ago, and realize I wasn't that far off the norm for my age. They're pretty bold, folks.

For all those Jennifers out there, I'm sorry. It's nothing personal, nothing against the name, but I have grown to hate that name. I promise - I don't mean it personally. I've had dozens of friends -- good friends, best friends, friends I've loved, friends I've wanted to be more like -- named Jennifer. Apparently, Jennys, Jennifers, and Jens gravitate toward each other. They also gravitate towards Kims and Kimberlys, but that's another post.

Just don't call ME Jennifer.

Whew. I feel better.

Thanks for listening.

As for Louanne and Tammy? Those are, yes my family's weird, their "Country Music Names". I wasn't present on the day they were dubbed, but as I understand it, Country Music Names are derived, somehow, from the second letter in your first name. ???

.....Ellie? Emmylou?

What would yours be?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Do You Like Roller Coasters?

It occurred to me today, as I realized I was walking around my school with a queasy stomach, waiting for the other ball to drop, that my life is like a roller coaster. I don't know how you feel about roller coasters, but they're not my favorite. I like a good wooden roller coaster, on occasion. (I've learned that wooden roller coasters are my style: they're fast and they go up and down WITHOUT going upside down.) However, I really could do without them, too. I can get my thrills on a jet ski or some other fast moving vehicle that feels "safe" to me. (Yes, I realize that my sense of safety is, at times, nothing more than a false sense of security.)

Ever had a REALLY GREAT week? One of those weeks when you feel like you're Queen of the World. One of those weeks when you feel like Sally Field in her 1985 acceptance speech ("...You like me. Right now, you like me!"). One of those weeks when you strut everywhere you go, confident that you're good enough, you're smart enough, and, doggone it, people like you!

In the midst of one of those weeks, you are on your game. You can handle life. In fact, you're a master. You've got your stuff together. Alright, world, bring it on!

On the other hand, there's those weeks when the phrases "spiraling out of control" and "it all went downhill" completely characterize your life. Visions of yourself in a Twilight-Zone swirl flood your mind. You see Almira Gulch (better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, pre-cyclonic-transformation) pedaling her little bicycle through swirling winds outside your window. Your home is a Money Pit and your family reminds you of the Bundy family. Ugh.

How did this happen? Just last week you rocked! What went wrong?

I start to wonder, what triggered it all to disintegrate? Was there a point when you could have turned it around? Or, at least, kept it from getting too bad? Is it a mind over matter thing? Would positive thinking help? Deep breathing? Feng shui? Incense? A voodoo doll???

Wouldn't you like to take some of those really great weeks and spread them around like icing on a cake? Back and forth with your spatula till the waves are Betty Crocker approved.

I don't know about you, but I need a cupcake.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pour Moi???

A gift for me???

After my good friend, Melanie, read my post detailing my recent brush with the ugly side of aging, she picked me up a little surprise. After informing me of her purchase via twitter, my mind raced to solve this riddle. Whatever could it be? How exciting!

In the hubbub of the first Monday back from a holiday weekend, I had forgotten all about my pending surprise. Until, she walked in the door.

My children were doing something profound, as always. I think they were cutting out spelling words. She crossed to me, grinning ear to ear, and presented me with a little, white box. Well, scratch that. I don't want to mislead you. It was a flat, white box...rather like a box of decongestant. In fact, upon closer inspection, it looked very pharmaceutical-ly.

After I recovered from my initial confusion...I couldn't have been happier!!!

Keep out of reach of chocoholics. Oops.

BOCHOX: For relief from the symptoms of wrinkles and crow's feet.

Warning -- May cause weight gain if used incorrectly. Tell me about it!


NOT TO BE TAKEN seriously.

I absolutely love it!!! Thanks, Melanie!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Merry Christmas to MEME

Confession: I'm a serial meme thief. Beware. If you post it, I may too.

That said, here we go. I stole this one from a OLD friend of mine. (Think: big bangs and stirrup pants, folks. I'm talking OLD.)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gimme bags anyday! Easy-peezy! I like to buy the solid colored bags at Target and decorate with scrapbooking stamps, multicolored tissue paper and a curly bow. However, at Christmas time, I do break out the rolls of Santa paper. Way cheaper when wrapping in bulk.

2. Real tree or artificial? Confession number 2: I'm a convert. I was raised going to the actual tree farm and watching Daddy Dearest CHOP DOWN A TREE. Now, we have a very tall, very full PRELIT (cue angels singing and spotlight -- this feature is sent from heaven) tree.

3. When do you put up the tree? Thanksgiving weekend or soon after (consistency is not our thing...)

4. When do you take the tree down? After Christmas, generally before New Year's (again, consistency is not our thing...)

5. Do you like eggnog? I have to say honestly, that I have not tried it yet. It doesn't sound too great, but I imagine, with the proper hootch, it could be good.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? This is next to impossible to answer. I never got a pony or anything outlandish like that...but loved my presents each year. I was very into Barbie (are you surprised?) and loved getting that. I guess one year that stands out is the year I got the Barbie Home-Office.

It was, coincidentally, the same year my brother got his Miami Vice suit and a Boombox! Oh, yeah, baby! We were jammin'! I believe my mother also clogged up the kitchen sink and/or smoked up the kitchen that year..........Good times.

*Thank you, ebay, for the photo. No, I do not still own this.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My brothers. One has everything he wants and expensive taste (not that that's bad), the other is just tough.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My daughters!!! This should have been a different question: Hardest person to not buy too much for?

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, it's a tradition.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? To be honest...most years, neither. Most years, I work hard on writing a letter, finding a picture, and/or writing personal notes and signing cards...and then never get them in the mail. I find them, still in a box, in late February and hate myself all over again. I cannot tell a lie.

11.Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A package of miniature cooking supplies themed around eggs. Literally. They had pictures of eggs on them. (These were given to my daughters for their play kitchen.)

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I love Christmas movies, old and new! I especially love Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, The Christmas Story, White Christmas, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and Polar Express. I also have a soft spot in my heart for all those old animated TV specials from my childhood: Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, etc.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? My formal shopping season begins Thanksgiving weekend, though I DO NOT shop at obscene hours. If I go out at all on Black Friday, it is usually toward the late afternoon/evening, when crowds have thinned. Informally, though, I try to stash a few odds and ends away beginning in October or so. Trouble is, I tend to forget about them...oops.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Lord, have mercy, YES! I've never recycled from family, though. Occasionally, students, neighbors, and Secret Santa gifts have been regifted, though. Usually, it is a lateral move. (i.e. not to family or close friends, but to other periferal folks)

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies, pies, my mom's jello salad, my mother-in-law's chocolate covered peanuts, raisins, pretzels, etc. SWEETS. Yummy, yummy SWEETS!

16. Lights on the tree? Lots and lots and lots of white -- prelit, dahling.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Don't know.....I love a lot of them.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Usually home. Daddy's schedule.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Of course! Who are you kidding? You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all.........

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? We have a star that is painted to look like a snowman. I love it! Our tree isn't fancy, so I just couldn't see going with a fancy angel or glittery star. Our topper is very childlike and fun.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Presents from Mommy and Daddy are reserved for the morning. Extended family can be opened on the Eve, if scheduling needs demand it.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The fact that the Christmas decorations and Christmas carols emerge in stores the day the Halloween stuff comes down. What the hee-haw happened to Thanksgiving, people? My five year-old is even annoyed!

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Our tree is very eclectic. It largely the result of my mother-in-law's compulsive buying of Hallmark ornaments, since my husband was BORN. Now, there are Hallmark ornaments for everyone!!! At least 5 or 6 new ones every year! I'm trying, desperately, to combat this by building a collection of picture ornaments and others that I love. This year, I just got some Florida themed ornaments -- a pretty fish, a frog in flippers, etc. I like whimsical!

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Turkey with dressing and all the rest. (Repeat of Thanksgiving.)

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? A massage, maid service, and lots of gift cards for pedis and manis. Bring it on!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Family Traditions

Traditions are funny. Have you ever noticed that some traditions are deliberately created and nurtured, while others are purely accidental? And then there's habitual traditions...which is pretty much a different beast entirely, if you ask me.

My little family has a handful of holiday traditions. Some are well-loved. Others...not so much.

For instance, as a child, Christmas in my parents' home meant pulling out our entirely unique and handmade stockings (crewel, cross-stitch, beaded, sequined, you name it!) each year and cooing over how much you liked your own better than all the rest. As an adult, each year at Christmas I pull out the store-bought stockings that I FINALLY broke down and bought for my family once I gave up on the dream of living up to my mother's tradition and sewing everyone their own stocking. Then, my mother, husband, and in-laws crack jokes about my husband's and daughter's stockings which are STILL in different stages of INcompletion. In my defense, I DID finish one stocking for my neice. And it's lovely.

Here's another favorite of mine. Ha. Each year, as we decorate the house for Christmas, I carefully unpack the nativity set from my husband's childhood home, unwrapping the weathered newspaper from each figure, stuffing it back in the box for another year's use. I delicately and thoughtfully set up the scene, as logically and "correctly" as I can muster. Then, my loving husband rearranges them all, claiming I didn't do it "right". (Not sure where he found the blueprint from Bethlehem, but apparently, he did.)

Some traditions are gifted to your family. A few years back, my brother and sister-in-law sent us a lovely advent house, filled with little prizes for us to share with the Little Princess(es) each year. This tradition has continued, and evolved, throughout the years. The doors, you see, are quite small. It can be quite difficult to find goodies for the little compartments. Never fear! Santa is a wise man. He has been known to leave a message in the compartment, sending the children on a scavenger hunt for a mysterious package, wrapped and labeled, somewhere in the house!

Other traditions are copied. My mother always had a collection of Christmas books for us to read each year. Each year, after the holiday had passed, she'd box them up and put them away. As the decorations were pulled from their yearlong hiding place, we were thrilled to meet again our old favorites! I, too, have been working on a collection of Christmas books for my girls to know and love. (This -- children's books -- is already an obsession of mine. As a literacy teacher, I JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH BOOKS!!!) I coo at the books in the bookstores this time of year. Running my fingers over book covers and pages, I imagine myself reading to my babies year after year. Then, I imagine the years when they will quietly steal away to a corner of the house and read the books about Santa and his elves, despite the fact that they are long past the age of believing.

With a firefighter for a husband, our holidays look different year after year. Some years he works on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, so each year we vary our schedule. Gone are the days of my childhood where traditions allowed one present to be opened on the Eve, while the rest were reserved for after the Early Morning Stocking Jubilee. Some years we've woken up very early and shared Christmas morning before his departure for the station, while other years we've waited till later, so he could hurry home for the festivities. These are minor sacrifices we will gladly make so our Daddy is there.

One thing I love about traditions is that they are yours. Whether you love them, or hate them. They belong to you. You control these traditions, just as you control your parenting style, your home decor, and your travel plans. If you've grown up with traditions you never really cared for, ditch them! Always wanted to do something different? Try it! This is your ball game now!

I suppose, in theory, I could change our traditions of roasting Mommy about unfinished stockings, or rearranging the wise men and shepherd boy. I don't know...maybe next year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Botox or Notox?

Last week I noticed that my "smile lines" (If they're going to be there, why not give them a happier name?) seemed more pronounced than usual. In fact, they looked like the great divide! What a depressing feeling to notice you looked like a wrinkled pig as you cut in front of a third grader, making a mad dash to the potty, claiming "teacher's privilege". Talk about helpless! Not only are you miles away from any quick fix supplies, but you are T minus 10 seconds until the 20-some-odd 8 year olds explode into a state of pandemonium!

I quickly tried to "rub them out" (I have no idea what I was thinking. Somehow, it seemed like a good idea at the time.) and returned to the classroom, thankful that my students love me and don't seem to notice my aging epidermis. My thoughts of panic, though, were neatly tucked away as another item on my mental "Figure This Out and FIX IT" list.

This weekend, as I waited endlessly in the checkout at Walmart, my eyes wandered over the current People magazine cover.

OK. No, this is not the exact cover. But, HE'S SO CUTE! Wouldn't you rather roll your eyes over this cover than another picture of the Obamas? (No offense to Barack and co.)

Anyhow, as I thumbed through the pages, I stumbled onto an article about Botox. No, this never entered my mind as a possible option for my own personal smile lines. (Can't afford it and husband would never approve.) However, it got me wondering. Would I if I could? Hmmm....

Perhaps. Would you?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Love-Hate Relationships

I have learned that my life is filled with love-hate relationships. Dang it! There is nothing more frustrating!

For instance, I HATE to go to the gym. Yet, I love it. When I haven't been in a while, I dread it like a trip to the OB/GYN. However, when I'm in a groove, it can be invigorating and uplifting. WHY THE HEE-HAW CAN'T I GET THROUGH THESE SLUMPS, THEN??? Am I really that short-sighted? Do I have memory issues that prevent me from remembering the high of endorphins flooding my bloodstream?

Perhaps that memory condition is the same memory condition that makes me consider, one day, having a third child. As I watch friends and relatives blossom with child, planning for their own blessed events that will soon change their lives forever, I reflect on my own pregnancies and start to daydream about another baby. WHAT AM I THINKING??? I guess my memory must be failing me again. Don't I remember how my body felt as it buckled under the pressure of my little miracle? Have I forgotten my own post-partum insanity so quickly?

On that note, I recall my shopping trip to Target yesterday. OH. MY. GOD. Have you ever wanted to be Elizabeth Montgomery and wiggle your nose to make something, or someone (perhaps yourself) disappear? I love my children. They are, I promise, the light of my life...and all that stuff. Yesterday, though? I was ready to be rid of (at least) one of them!

I was in a completely LAZY mood. (I attribute this to my recent avoidance of exercise. Currently, I'm completely submerged in "fat and lazy" mode.) I didn't even want to get dressed. However, my darling Baby had run out of diapers. Poop! (Pun intended.)

After approximately 30 minutes of necessary preparations required for any dash away from home on a cold day (sweaters, jackets, sippy cups, emergency snacks, blankies, pacie and books), we were finally off. We made it to Target and the trip went downhill from the moment we were in the door.

Any normal folk can just saunter into a store, grab a cart or basket and they're off. Not us. My girlies have to have a "train". (This is their pet name for the Big-Mama-Daddy-People-Pusher/shopping cart. You know, the one with the enormous red plastic two-seater platform attached behind the cart? The one that is next to impossible to push when its empty, much less loaded down with kids and goods?) Fine. We'll get a train, I reluctantly agreed, hoping this would buy me some peace and quiet.

Uh-oh. No trains on side number one. "No problem. Mommy has to return something, so we'll check at the other door." After making my returns, I was disappointed (yet, not surprised) to find that there were no "trains" at this entrance, either.

Fortunately, my eldest was perfectly content to ride in a regular cart. She's really getting too big for this, so she rides in the bottom of the basket. I am aware this is not the safest option, but, as the oldest, she is generally a very obedient child and not at risk of bailing out unexpectedly. My youngest, however, is a completely different story.

"No! I no want to ride! I want free ride!"

"Free ride" is an old family term for being carried by Mommy or Daddy. No slings or carriers will do, either. It is ONLY the real deal.

"Baby, you're too heavy! Mommy can't carry you! You can walk or ride." My attempts to persuade her to conform were in vain. She's freakin' stubborn. So, I tried to be sly. I carried her in front of me, resting her bottom on the top of the basket. This did not go unnoticed. She would scream, tightening her death grip around my neck and straightening her body so she slid off the cart.

I, calmly and lovingly, would explain to her (again) that this was not safe. She is too heavy to be carried throughout the store. I'd present the options over and over again, wasting my breath.

Now, fast forward to about...oh...6 minutes later. I'm breaking down and beginning to resort to threats. I've learned that time out may work at home, but in public it is nearly impossible to enforce. However, Daddy had some luck (relatively speaking) with spanking lately...dare I threaten this? What the heck! It can't get any worse, right?

So, I put it on the table and she -- why was I surprised? -- CHOSE THE SPANKING!!! She called my bluff!!! I quickly realize that there is NO WAY I am going to haul off and pop her a good one right in the middle of Target. Not wanting to back down (yet), I start to make my way to the family restroom. I could get her in there and issue the punishment.

I chickened out. I circled around and decided to go home. Through the checkout I would go and this nightmare would be over.

Enter Princess Number One. I had promised her a treat for being so good. (She really was being remarkably good. Not only was she minding me, but she was attempting to help persuade her sister to mind, too!) Crap. On to the cereal aisle for a little snack-sized bowl of Fruit Loops. On the way, I decided to crack open a can of teacher talk.

"Thank you SO MUCH for being such a good little girl today. Mommy is SO proud of you. I LOVE the way you're SITTING ON YOUR BOTTOM and riding so nicely! You deserve a special treat for your behavior!!! What would you like, honey? Some Fruit Loops?" Of course, IMMEDIATELY, Little Sister pipes up.

"Mommy? I want Fuit Woops. I want wide in de caht."

I felt low. I felt like a sucker and a doof...but I took what I could get. Into the cart she went and I zipped around the store, quickly gathering the items on my list.

Crisis averted, right? WRONG.

The tasty diversion worked for a while, until Baby decided she was finished. Fortunately, she remained content to ride...but she was now charged with sugar. Lord, have mercy. There were Fruit Loops flying all over that store! Squeals and screams, of joy, mind you, filled the store! I spent my shopping time scooping cereal from the floor each time she accidentally tipped the bowl. Sorry, Target, for the ones crushed under the wheels of the Cart O'Giggles. I left my broom and dustpan at home.

I love my daughters dearly, especially my Baby. But, I HATE shopping with them, especially my Baby.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Status Updates

I admit it. I've become addicted.

It all started when I made a new best friend. I call her, The Pink Lady. She's pretty. She's skinny. (I should be so lucky!) Her two favorite colors are my two favorite colors (pink and black). She LOVES to talk....and chat...and twitter...and Facebook. (Funny how it has become a verb, isn't it?) She and I go EVERYWHERE together. I feel naked without her.

My Blackberry an I have become inseparable. I have, as a friend put it, "pimped out" my phone to include Facebook, twitter, and Google apps. The world is at my fingertips!

Consequently, my fingertips are very busy lately. It is so easy to connect with the world in 140 characters or less, that I have, inadvertently, become unmotivated to blog. It seems like such a big commitment to sit down and write a whole post!!! (What??? I don't have that kind of time!!! I can't focus for that long!!! Give me the 30 seconds or less version, please.)

I've considered posting. Really, I have. But, I just can't seem to think of something worthy of a post! However, during the time since my last post, I am embarrassed to say, I have found the need to post nearly 100 "worthy" updates -- on twitter alone!

I never thought I'd see this day come. I have become noncommittal. Apparently, I am just looking for a one night stand. No relationships. Just tweet and run.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Horror Night

Last year, my family went to the zoo's Spooktacular celebration and absolutely loved it! They must recruit hundreds of volunteers to carve HUNDREDS of Jack-o-lanterns, dress up like characters (pumpkin people, mayor of "Pumpkinville", pirates, fairy nymphs, trolls, etc.), decorate the zoo with lights, costume the giant elephant statues, and much more. There are smoke machines, DJs, spider webs, animals, and more! Our Spooktacular experience last year was a lovely night in the cool Florida evening, filled with dancing, candy, costumes, and fun.

This year, we invited my parents to join us. We love to go on outings to the zoo with them, why not experience Halloween together, too? They loved the idea and made the drive for the weekend.

What a horror. I was on the edge of a panic attack more than half the night!

Have you ever been somewhere and felt more like a cow being herded into a pen than a person? My family was six of a mere TWELVE MILLION PEOPLE! who chose to cram themselves into the Jacksonville Zoo last night.

The traffic through the zoo is limited to a one-way path that loops throughout various areas and exhibits in the zoo. At times, the path is wider than others. At times, there was room to move more than 6 inches away from the people around you. At times, you could actually have a conversation of your own, rather than just hearing EVERY ANNOYING WORD of the two daddies in front of you. (I almost asked what time we were supposed to show up to his house for the homemade wings his wife was making while he and his buddy clogged up pedestrian traffic.)

We enjoyed a few beautiful moments at the giraffe exhibit, taking in the beauty of the graceful animals. I even marveled at their speed and size as they ran from the enormous crowd of people and paparazzi-like flashing lights. This rare siting occurred only moments after my shortness of breath and hot flashes that accompanied the funneling of people down the four foot wide winding path through the African grasses and up the only slightly wider boardwalk ramp that led you to the viewing perch.

Throughout the night, I battled the panic of being trapped. WHAT THE HECK WHERE THEY THINKING??? WHAT IDIOT PLANNED THIS THING??? They allow UNLIMITED visitors into the zoo. ALL TRAFFIC is routed through a ONE-WAY winding path that loops around and through two-thirds of the zoo! There isn't even room enough between the people to even go around the thousand people standing in line to get their package of Sweet-tarts at the treat station, much less bail out on a moment's notice should the kiddies take a turn for the worse -- or, God forbid, A REAL EMERGENCY!

At one point I turned to my husband, Fireman Daddy, expert on all things emergency, and asked if this would pass fire code. NO, OF COURSE NOT! But, it's open I guess that doesn't really apply. BUT SHOULDN'T IT??? My head was filled with visions of stampedes and tramplings! Haven't you seen the news the day after Thanksgiving each year??? I guess it's a good thing those treat stations were giving away raisins and band-aids. I shutter to think what could have happened had there been a "jackpot" station -- FREE Wiis, iPODS, cell phones -- JONAS BROTHERS POSTERS!

Fireman Daddy was not happy with me when I kind of, sort of, maybe laid into a volunteer who happened to have a walkie-talkie in his hand.

"Is someone going to open an alternate path for all of us who just want to GET OUT OF HERE!?! This is ridiculous! I DON'T CARE about the CANDY...WE JUST WANT TO GO HOME!!!" As he quickly claimed innocence and threw his hands up (that's what I want - a volunteer who doesn't THINK FOR THEMSELVES - YOU HAVE A WALKIE-TALKIE! RADIO TO SOMEONE WHO DOES CARE!), I listened to the dozens of conversations all around me.

"It's going to be dead next year. I'm not coming back for this."

"The zoo made a killing on us, son."

"Daddy, I can't see." "There's nothing to see except the people around you. I'm your eyes and your ears. Just do what I tell you to."


"We've been trying to get out of here for an hour..."

"They ran out of candy...that's the hold up."

There's something the matter with an entertainment option when you find yourself just wanting it to be over.

And, get this...the REAL clincher! As we entered the gate at the start of the evening, they handed my little Princesses glow necklaces. "I want one..." I told the lady.

"There just for the children."

Whatever. Nine dollars for each person and only the kids get a necklace. What about the adults who came without children. Would THEY get a $0.25 necklace???

What a horror.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Holly Golightly's take on laundry.

Happy Halloween from Me!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Snatch This!

Yes, traditionally a meme is PASSED around. Yes, I know, you really aren't supposed to steal it from people, but this looked like too much fun. And she did it first.

Here's a little hubbie fun for you to enjoy.

A Meme for My Bebe

1. He's sitting in front of the TV. What's he watching? Comedy Central (Daily Show and Colbert Report), military channel, history channel

2. You are out to eat, what kind of dressing does he get on his salad? Ranch, preferably Hidden Valley. He has renamed it "The White Ketchup".

3. What's one food he doesn't like? Mushrooms. (Wienie. I think it's where it grows...which is a rediculous reason not to eat something -- especially coming from an ADULT.)

4. You go out to a bar, what does he order? Beer -- Miller Lite is frequent, but he likes a wide variety, depending on his mood.

5. Where did he go to High School? Orange Park High School

6. What size shoe does he wear? 12?

7. If he were to collect anything, what would it be? OH. MY. GOSH. OK, he just THIS YEAR got rid of the 12 boxes of G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and Transformers toys that were in our garage! But, those were old collections. Currently, he would like to/sort of does collect pocket knives.

8. What is his favorite sandwich? The Jenny. Ham, turkey, two slices of cheese (usually meunster, but he likes American, too), ranch, mustard and mayo. It's named after me because I make it...I RARELY eat it.

9. What would he eat every day if he could? Steak, scrambled eggs, bacon, grits, and biscuits. His dad is from Kentucky, and Breakfast is his specialty.

10. What is his favorite cereal? He eats cereal, but doesn't really LOVE it. Honey Nut Cheerios?

11. What would he never wear? Short shorts. (I'm laughing just picturing it. -- He has bird legs.)

12. What is his favorite sports team? Football: Gators and Jaguars. Basketball: Kentucky Wildcats, though he isn't a huge basketball fan.

13. Who will he vote for? Obama. We're very pro-environment and education. He would like to see less government, but doesn't like the McCain's about-face on all his previous stands.

14. Who is his best friend? Me! And his brother. (He may say it in the reverse order...)

15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do? How much time do you have??? He'd like me to stop changing my clothes 50 times each morning, for one. Call me when you've got about an hour and I'll share more. :)

16. How many states has he lived in? Two. Tennessee (for about 18 months) and Florida ever since.

17. What is his heritage? Well, what would you accept as "heritage"? His "heritage" according to HIM is Tennessee and Kentucky. He really doesn't know much beyond his parents and grandparents. We've done a little research on his decent and are starting to think he is of British ancestry...but that's really only a hypothesis. (This picture is his Mamaw's old country store in Dawson Springs, Kentucky.)

18. You bake him a cake for his birthday, what kind of cake is it? Cheesecake. With EXTRA graham cracker crust.

19. Did he play sports in High School? Wrestling and Cross Country

20. What could he spend hours doing? Camping. Hiking. Reading about camping and hiking. Reading about Native American history, philosophy, culture, etc. Otherwise, sleeping and watching TV. (He "requires" a lot of sleep...)

Your turn! Steal this meme and be sure to leave me a link in a comment! It's fun! Try it!

P.S. If you don't have a blog, you can just leave a really long comment here!

Do you have time for THIS??

I came to my computer tonight to add some new photos to my Facebook albums. In my hand, I innocently carried a few tasty cookies...Mommy Munchies, if you will. However, with snacking as my greatest downfall, I could not just stop there. As I returned to the pantry for another handful, I started to think about all the yummy treats I buy for the little Princesses that I wind up eating myself! I wondered, what are your favorite stolen treats?

I know, I'll blog this. As I began my search for a photo image of my newest favorite treat, Keebler Frosted Animal Cookies (with sprinkles, might I add), I was shocked at the results!

See all Grocery reviews at Expotv

OH - MY - GOSH! PLEASE tell me this is their part-time, work-at-home-so-I-can-be-a-Stay-At-Home-Mommy job! If not, what the hee-haw are you doing all day??? How, in the name of Motherhood, do you have TIME to record and post reviews of GROCERIES!!!


The most frightening part...there were more reviews of this very same product!

OK. I make my grocery decisions in about 1 second flat. On the rare occasion, I might linger in front of an aisle for thirty seconds or so...but only in Grocery Emergencies. (You know what I'm talking about...when Target is sold out of the Market Fresh Strawberry Gummies, or when Publix quit carrying the Barbie the Island Princess Pop-Tarts, or when they've had a run on frozen green peas. Dire situations, such as these, merit a quick trip back to the drawing board before panic sets in!)

I'd like to meet the parent who actually takes the time research consumer reviews about children's snacks before they make a purchase.


(Child opens the door.)

Me: Is your mommy home?

Child: Yes.

Me: Can I speak to her?

Child: No.

Me: Why not?

Child: She's busy.

Me: That's OK...I promise not to stay long.

Child: Sorry, she'll be a while. She taking a bubble bath.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My New Friend, The Hornet

I'd like you to meet my new best friend, the Hornet.

She's a beauty.

She's bright. She's colorful. She's powerful. She knows how to get the job done. She's a leader. She's fast and smooth. People clear a path for her when they see her coming! I'm learning she can be a bit high maintenance, but, hey, she who lives in a glass house...right?

Ever have a friend who really can calm you when your stressed? The Hornet is that friend for me. When I'm with her, I can really tune out. I begin to feel as smooth as she is. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and track my progress. She's the kind of gal that helps you feel more satisfied with yourself and your surroundings. To me, she is Wonder Woman.

I love spending time with the Hornet. My life can be in shambles, but within a few minutes with her, I really feel like I've accomplished something. She's almost as good as prozac.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Prozac, Take Me Away!

Long ago and far away, women used to wash their worries away in a relaxing bubble bath. A leisurely soak in a hot, steamy bathroom, shut away from the world, screaming children and barking husbands. Aaaaah. A calm, thirty or so minutes to yourself and you come out with soft skin, a sweet aroma, and a new attitude.

That sounds nice, doesn't it? That would be nice if I HAD thirty minutes to spend DOING NOTHING! That would be nice if I could shut the bathroom door! That would be nice if my husband could put pajamas on the girls without an assistant!

Today, I needed a bubble bath. Wait...scratch that. Monday, I needed a bubble bath. By last night, I needed a forty-eight hour spa retreat! Today? I took a Prozac.

Aaaaaaah. I know they say it takes a few weeks to feel the effects, but they lie. I felt them, baby. You may say it was a placebo effect...who cares, is what I say! Amazingly, amidst the insanity of my afternoon, my blood pressure remained below 150 today! My blood remained below the boiling point. No steam whistled from my ears. My nostrils did not morph into the nostrils of a charging bull.

I love Prozac. I love Prozac so much, I think I'm going to take a hot bath.

Anybody care for some vino?

To Do Tomorrow:
1. Call for Rx renewal.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Big News Today

This evening, I called my mother-in-law for a quick, Sunday night chat. I had exciting news to share with her!

First of all, my sister-in-law (my brother's wife, not my mother-in-law's daughter) called me tonight and announced that she is expecting. That's always exciting! What good news! Secondly, I bought a personal thermal laminator today at Wal-Mart for $19.99. SCORE! That is, to me, as exciting as getting an MP3 player to many people. I was completely jazzed.

Anyhow, I was a veritable bubble of excitement as I dialed her number, anticipating her reaction to my news. My bubble momentarily burst as my father-in-law accidentally hung up on me immediately after picking up the phone. Then, we struggled through the usual awkward stage of simultaneously dialing each other, both of us reaching nothing but a busy signal. I finally gave up and waited for her to ring through.

When a connection was finally established, her reactions to my grand announcements fell short of my expectations. In fact, upon hearing that Stephanie is pregnant, her reaction was, "Stephanie........."


"OH! (ha ha) That's right..." (Yep. That bubble burst, babe.)

After dutiful pleasantries about someone else's exciting news, the conversation quickly returned to the laminator.

So...what's up with that? Isn't it amazing how something so important and life-altering can, at times, be dwarfed by something so trivial? Perhaps it is better than the alternative.

Those of you who have been pregnant before can relate, I'm sure, to the virtual broken record of conversations you have with everyone on the planet (even those who HAVEN'T had children -- including, sometimes, MEN) for the entire 40 weeks of gestation. Tales of births, conceptions, trips to the hospital, pregnancy related ailments and illnesses, blah blah blah. Why is that we all (even I) insist upon telling our war stories to every poor little preggo out there?

And babies...meeting the babies...I'll never forget, near the end of my first pregnancy, thinking to myself as someone brought me yet another baby to meet, "I don't care about your baby! I just want MY baby!" Surely that was the hormones talking...and the poor swollen feet...and varicose veins...(Oh, God, stop me!)

Rationally, I know we do it out of love, excitement, and good intent. I know we are, in our own twisted ways, trying to console or prepare or just connect with our friends and family as they experience this unique adventure.

So, am I just being insensitive? (I have to do a self-check sometimes...I scored low in "empathy" on the Caliper years ago.) Does anyone else see it this way? What did you think when you were expecting? Did you enjoy or despise the stories?

Leave a comment telling me what you think. Heck, tell me your story -- I'll tell you mine, too! :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mommy Guilt

You do your best everyday, but we're all human. You know the days. Your patience is unusually thin and you're determined that you will NOT deal with the same arguments, fights, struggles AGAIN today. TODAY, you will put your foot down, by gosh!

Today was one of those days for me and my older daughter.

She thinks she has a bladder of steel. However, she doesn't. Well, maybe she does...I'm not entirely decided. Anyhow, she waits...and waits...and waits...until she "feels the feeling" (which means she's been feeling it for about an hour, I think) and then she panics and has to go -- in tears and protests the whole time!

Today, after our usual teary-eyed after school battle over snacks (Her: Mommy I'm hungry. Me: I don't have any snacks, we'll get you something as soon as we get home. Her: But I can't wait that long!!! Cue hysterics.), I gave in and stopped at a gas station to pick up a quick snack for her and sis. We load up, momentarily happy and satisfied, and are on our way to Sissy's school.

You know how it is, not two seconds after you turn into traffic, you hear, "Mommy, I'm going to go potty as soon as we get home." (This means she's going to wet her pants like NOW.) I'll spare you the hysterical details of our very short ride to the next gas station restroom (filthy, by the way) AND the hysterics at the noisy and exceptionally forceful air hand dryer.

Skip to home...the girls have eaten and we're well into homework. She's busily working on her patterning homework, remarking about the diarrhea brown color she chose to include in her pattern (???), when little sis comes along and strikes up a game....a game that involves running and screaming all around the house.

This is another nightly struggle at our house. With one child that requires much more sleep than the other and one night owl, bedtime is a chore to say the least. Baby Girl gets all fired up come 8:00, while Big Girl needs to wind down before bed. Now, remember, I'm not having any of it tonight! I'm pullin' out the big guns, baby!!!

After a flashing of the iron fist and a brief
timeout one, I found my elder daughter writing me this note.

Can you say, I'm the meanest mother in the world???

Oh, by the way, enter neurotic teacher. She's reading her letter of apology to me and realizes she omitted the "ou" in "you". What do I do? I launch into a writer's conference. "I love how you wrote all the sounds you heard. I love your letter. You know what I do when I find a mistake? I circle it and write the correction right above it. Would you like to try that?"

She loved the new strategy. :) That's my girl!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fear No Onion

I thought it only fair to come out of the closet right away. Or, perhaps I should say...the pantry?

I cannot stand chopping onions. I cry like I've just seen Gone With the Wind (again) at the slightest hint of onion fumes. I, a grown woman, married and mother of two, still ask my mother to chop onions for me whenever possible.

Well, that is, I did until last Christmas. My older brother and sister-in-law are, quite possibly, two of the best gift-givers I've ever met. I imagine they have some sacred notebook where they record every minute hint or remark one makes throughout the year. I can see them perusing their notes before the launch of their holiday shopping season each year.

Or, perhaps they have a secret vault, tucked neatly behind a false wall in a linen closet, where they store their collection of gifts throughout the year. As soon as a friend of family member makes an innocent, off-hand remark that sparks a gift-inspiration, they purchase the gift, wrap it perfectly, and carefully preserve its trimmings in bubble wrap before stowing it neatly away for the remainder of the year. Perhaps they have super cool video watches (like Diego?) on which they can relay critical clues to one another as they play Sneaky Shopper.

Regardless, their stealth in gift giving far exceeds my own. How do I know this? As I quickly unwrapped my portion of our holiday package this past year, I never expected what appeared before my eyes...A lovely, pink pair of Onion Goggles.

I am not alone.

This plight of excessive sensitivity to onion vapors is not mine alone to shoulder.

How on Earth they knew this, I did not recall. (Super sneaky shopper skills, I presume.) What I did know, was that my plight was nearing an end.

From then on, I knew I would fear no onion. I could boldly dawn my pastel eye gear and prepare a meal without tears and pain. (Yes, it really does HURT me, OK?)

I love them. And I love my Onion Goggles.
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