Thursday, June 25, 2009

Unedited Life: Thursday

Sometimes I just wish, so much, that all ya'll could take a peek into my house when you read this. I know, when I read other people's blogs, I would expect to see a lovely, clutter-free home. There would be cookies cooling on the table, and children playing quietly and independently with very fine educational toys. The blog writer would be typing with one hand, working out on the elipse trainer, and painting a masterpiece with the other hand.

Somehow, I don't think you guys would expect that from me. But maybe I'm wrong.

If you could peek into my house now, you would see a kitchen floor absolutely plastered with googly eyes. I told my kids that they had the clean up their latest art project extravaganza, so now we're in a standoff. I know--they're going to win. Because they absolutely don't care if our kitchen floor is a mosaic of googly eyes, and I do. But my pride is holding out, for the time being.

Wee One is in her crib, wearing a boy outfit. It is green, with beavers. She looks really cute in it. I took her out, months ago, in a sleeper that was blue and green. It was sweet and cuddly looking, and warmer than any of the pink things we had on hand from her sister, who was a summer baby. A woman I hardly know peeked at her and started coo-ing, "Ah, tell my mama to put me in pink! Dress me in pink, mama!" I just shrugged. It probably wouldn't do any good to mention that my big, burly two year old boy wears pink footed pajamas to bed and that we call him Pinky when he does. I don't think that would've made her feel better. (Point: we put our kids in whatever happens to be convenient and doesn't cost us more money. So, yes, I let my son wear a pink raincoat sometimes, and my baby girl wears green beaver outfits.)

Thing 1 and Thing 2 are watching Curious George. They are in love with Curious George. They would marry him, if they could. I'm pretty sure. I love Curious George, too. It brings utter peace into my home. I know--I wrote about how we got rid of PBS. We did. Did you know that they have Curious George episodes on DVD??? And did I mention that ALL of my children are dressed? No one is in their pajamas. Everyone is wearing underpants. Mission accomplished.

And me? My hair most closely resembles a fragglerock character. I have my boot on my foot, which is throbbing. I am not taking more Lortab because then I would pass out and my kids would decide, at that exact moment, to go feed the ducks. This would have unpleasant consequences, and lots of guilt, I'm pretty sure, so no Lortab for me.

And I really need a shower.

See? Don't you feel better about your life, oh ellipse training, clutter-free house keeping, perfect children raising you????

Monday, June 22, 2009


Years ago, my brother said "Man, that hurts like a mother!"

He said that within earshot of my mother who raised one eyebrow and said "And what, exactly, does a 'mother' hurt like?"

Hey, Mom. I found out.

Yesterday, I tripped on my own feet and shoved my toes, in forceful fashion, into the edge of the closet door. Hobbling out to the couch to nurse my wounded foot, and pride, I was wimpering to myself when Thing 2 came over, in his two year old way, to see what the problem was. He was carrying, of all things, a tennis racquet. Which he, of course, swung right into the injured toes.

I yelped indignantly and yanked my foot away from him, swinging it off the couch and right into the path of Thing 1, who was walking by at that moment.

Howling with pain, I curled my foot towards myself and cast desperate glances at my children and around the room. Danger lurked in every corner--toys waiting to be stepped on. Sharp little shoes to do the stepping. By the end of the day, I would, of course, kick at least two toys, have at least two run-ins with small feet despite my best efforts, and have a thorough understanding of that phrase my brother used to employ.

I get it now. I'm a mother. And it does, indeed, hurt like one.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Google Image Search: Frazzled

You know you're at a certain point in your life. A very... certain point... when you google image search the following....

Yes. It says WITS END.

Wit's End is not a phrase I employed a whole lot, in a former life. It was only on my radar about as often as, oh, "plentitude" and "moisture." But it comes to mind more and more frequently these days. Like when the Spouse brought home a Bear in the Big Blue House potty DVD for Thing 2 to watch. You know, to encourage him. And Thing 2 is enthralled! captivated! enamored! peeing on the carpet! while the encouraging Bear sings about "It's time to get to know your potty ch-airrrrr...." !!!


Maybe there's a reason that Wits End intersects with Mexico Road....

Friday, June 19, 2009


I hope you will forgive me a personal entry.

Five years ago, I would become a mother in two days. I was big and round, and I waddled. We were living on the other side of the country, at the time, in a small 500 square foot apartment. I had graduated with my bachelor's degree six weeks before, which had culminated in a whirlwind of 18 credits--polishing my mind against the grindstone of academia, churning out essays and papers so fast that I began to lose count. I wrote 75 pages in my last week alone. Then, my university had handed me a paper, my parents had given me a pearl ring, and my husband had given me the two disk DVD of Pride and Prejudice and I found myself with completely empty time to wait in. I reveled in that time. I got up at 7:00 every morning. I ate a slow breakfast, and got dressed. My obstetrician's office was a mile away, and I would walk to my appointments at 9:00. It was June. I watched the cherries ripen into their distinctive, vivid red. I watched the roses open their faces to the sun. I walked slowly. It seemed, to me, to be magic. I was waiting.

My daughter was born. Motherhood was ice cold water over my head--I just had to stand in it and get used to it. It was a shock. I struggled. But I had this blue-eyed child that looked like an elf, and we were busy getting to know each other. I think, for a long time, I felt like Rip Van Winkle. I felt like I was doing this motherhood thing and that, when my child and future children left home, I would pick my life back up where I left it. Only slowly did it really sink in that there would be no picking up where I left off. That the girl I was who had walked into that hospital, never walked out.

Five years. That phrase keeps clattering about in my head this weekend. Five years. That bald, screaming, blue baby is now a curly haired girl who can skip and play hopscotch. She has memories of her own. She loves disco music and ham. She is so beautiful that it makes my breath catch sometimes.

She is misunderstood, a lot. She has struggles. Not every child is kind. Not every adult is patient. But to me, she is magic waiting to happen. On the occasion that I remember to slow down enough to hold her, I trace my fingers along her translucent skin and ache to keep the child that, for now, is still mine.

I miss her already, and I wonder--who will I be, when that day comes?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Oh What Do You Do in the Summertime?... Service

Every year, around this time, I start thinking about Christmas.

It isn't just because it's blazing hot and humid outside and I'm wishing for cuddly sweater days and hot chocolate.... mmmmm.... sweater days and hot chocolate.....

Oh, uh--no. That's not why I start thinking about Christmas at the beginning of summer. It's because, every year, my (incredible) in-laws ask for their children and grandchildren to do a service project as their Christmas gift to them. In an effort to make it something truly meaningful, both for them and for us, I need to get the wheels turning about 6 months beforehand.

I want it to be something worthwhile, but do-able. Do-able gets trickier when you want to involve your three tiny kids, which I do. I want them to remember the experience and how they felt. I want it to be a true service--something needful--that hopefully will bless people in our community.

I'm on the hunt for this year's project, but in the meantime, definitely finding lots of great ideas. Would you like to get into the spirit of Christmas, with us? Here are a few of my favorite volunteer websites: "Where volunteering begins..."
I love VolunteerMatch because you can put in your zip code, and search for opportunities close by. You can choose to see service opportunities for groups, teens, kids, families, or by type of opportunity--education, special needs, elderly, women and children, etc. This is where you can go to sign up to help with Special Olympics, volunteer for an Avon or Komen cancer walk, or even find volunteer opportunities that you can do from your home. "Our goal is to make people smile..."
I love this one, because it's PERFECT for kids. You have your kids color a drawing and write their name and age on the front, then send it in and they distribute these pictures to rest homes, shut-ins, and care facilities. They have coloring pages you can print out, or let your kids use their imaginations. Easy!! "Every Monday do at least one nice thing for someone..."
This is a brilliant idea. Every Monday, they post something for you to do that day, or just take on the challenge and do an extra service for someone that day. If everyone in the world were looking to serve someone on Monday instead of thinking about themselves, how different would this world be???

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Unedited Life: Pad Rash is not a Thai food.

I have a standing joke with a bunch of my good friends about a thing called "Pad Rash."

You don't want to know. You really don't. But let's just say that I discovered it after a rather embarrassing post-baby visit after I had my second baby. (Nothing like an OB/GYN saying "Oh wow, you've got some pad rash going on down here" to make you want to crawl under the nearest rock in your tissue-thin exam gown.) But you really should know that there IS a difference between synthetic absorbers found in Stayfree or Always and those super-expensive organic cotton "feminine protection" products at Earth Fare.

I'll give you a second so you can file that bit of information away for future reference in your Gee Whiz Fact File. You're welcome.

Chafing. One of the bains of a chubby girl's existence.

*It is at this point that I excuse all of my slender(skinny) friends and relatives from reading and invite you to go find something to eat in your fridge. Hopefully you have some chocolate or cheese handy. Please. Do it for me.

Now that it's only us pudgy girls, we can be frank. I went to the beach a couple days ago and had a lovely time building sand castles and playing in the surf, but in that mere 1 block walk back to the beach house, I had to encounter that evil monster: chafing. Chafing is why fat girls shalt not venture to run. Or bare their thighs at all. Because, I think we can all agree, that it is NO FUN to go buy Gold Bond Medicated Powder or walk around like a Texan just off a cattle drive for several days.

Which brings me to my real point: why do women get all the trials in this life? Seriously?! Let us compare:

  • Middle School Girl's Bathrooms.
  • Periods.
  • Bosoms. (Or appropriate euphemism.)
  • Pregnancy. (The hurling! The crying! The exhaustion! The weight gain!)
  • Birth.
  • Postpartum. (Two words: stool. softener.)
  • Pap smears (What is a pap? Why do they smear it?)
  • Mammograms. (I'll take cancer for 100, Bob.)
  • Menopause. (Will the injustice never end???)
  • Female Fat Cells.
  • Placenta Brain.
  • Chafing.
  • Skirts.


  • Ummmm....
  • Seriously?
  • Can anyone think of anything??

Monday, June 15, 2009

Oh What Do You Do in the Summertime?... Catch Fireflies!

My kids are the luckiest kids in the world. And not just because of who their dad is.

I was 19 years old when I saw my first firefly. I was working as a youth camp counselor and we were doing an away session at Western Kentucky University. I was outside one evening and I saw a light flicker in the grass.

Honestly, you would think that I had found a diamond in the grass with my name on it.

I was so enchanted by these little bugs that carry their own light, and have never gotten over the new-ness of them when they return to my North Carolina home every June. Because fireflies share a very special category: Bugs that aren't Gross. Butterflies, ladybugs, and rolly-polly bugs share this category.

Tonight, my husband was outside mowing the lawn and my kids were on the swingset when the fireflies showed up with all their glowing wonderfulness. That was an hour ago. They are outside chasing them with a Mason jar still.

So, if you're a lucky soul who lives a state that is blessed with these pixie dust carrying creatures, have a mason jar handy and wait for evening to fall, and then capture some fireflies. Watch them. Be amazed. Then let them go.

Meanwhile, in case your kids are curious, here a few fun facts about fireflies:
  • They are called fireflies or lightning bugs. Their larvae babies are called gloworms.
  • The light they emit can either be yellow, green, or pale red. (I was in the woods here one time and saw fireflies of all different colors at the same time. Beautiful!)
  • Fireflies flash in complex patterns to help locate their mates. In some species, males fly, but females don't.
  • If you turn on your flashlight, fireflies turn off theirs. (And we've observed that they don't light up nearly as much once they're caught.)

I'd write more, but I need to go catch bugs with my kids...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Oh What Do You Do in the Summertime?... Experiment!

Today, my kids and I turned our kitchen into a lab.

We got out the air popcorn popper and poured in 1/2 c. of popcorn, as usual. Only--this time--I didn't put the top on. I asked my kids, as they watched the popcorn spinning in circles, what they thought would happen. We talked about what normally happens: the popcorn comes down the chute and into the bowl. But with the open top, which way would it go? How would we catch it in our bowl? When the popcorn started popping, my kids went wild as they watched it spilling over the sides, and, as it got emptier, flying up into the air. Then we talked about if our guesses were right. We scooped the popcorn off the clean cupboard and into a bowl, and just swept up and threw away any that got on the floor.

Next up? Vinegar and baking soda....

Monday, June 8, 2009

Oh What Do You Do in the Summertime?... Clean!

One of the things that I love to do on HOT summer days, when I don't feel like being outside, is to let my kids help me wash things. I put them in their swimsuits, give them spray bottles and rags, and let them help wash the dishes, the windows, the shower, the floor, the table--almost anything. Even my 6 month old gets in on the fun--I put her in her highchair in the middle of the kitchen and fill her tray with water. She splashes like crazy, gets the floor all wet, I mop it up and both she, the floor, and her highchair get clean!!

If you're like me and live in fear of your kids getting their paws on toxic cleaners (have you ever noticed how similar Pine Sol looks to apple juice in color? or a bottle of Thoro to Sprite?) then you'll want to have some completely kid friendly cleaning supplies for your kids to use. Below are some recipes for cleaners you can make at home that your kids could drink and there would be no harm done, plus--they work so well that you can toss the toxic stuff, and these cost a lot less:

General Spray Cleaner
1 c. vinegar
1 c. water
Put in a clean spray bottle, shake, and use. This is great for counter tops, stove tops, windows, mirrors, and for polishing metal surfaces like doorknobs and faucets.

A NOTE ABOUT VINEGAR: I've heard people say that they don't want to clean with vinegar because they don't like the smell. But vinegar is one of your most powerful non-toxic, earth friendly cleaners. It is a natural disinfectant, as well as an odor neutralizer. The smell of the actual vinegar only lasts a couple minutes, and when it disappears--so do other odors. If you really can't stand the smell, feel free to add a few drops of essential oils to your cleaners. Try lemon, lavender, grapefruit, or peppermint.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
flush your toilet and then pour undiluted white vinegar around the rim and into the bowl. Let sit for a couple minutes, then clean with a brush and flush. You can use the general spray cleaner to clean the exterior surfaces.

Baking Soda Soft Scrub
Pour 1/4 to 1/2 c. baking soda into a small bowl, then add a little water at a time, mixing until you get a frosting-like consistency. Put a dob on a wet sponge and go to town on your sinks, tubs, and showers. If you rinse it down with hot water and leave for a couple hours, it will deodorize your drains, too.

Furniture Polish
1 c. olive oil
1/2 c. lemon juice

Shake well in a spray bottle and then apply a small amount to a flannel or cleaning rag. Spread over furniture and then wipe with a clean, dry rag. (I also use this to shine my stainless steel sink.)

So put your kids to work--they'll love being needed, your house will be a cleaner, greener place to be, and you can spend your evenings doing something besides cleaning up after them. (Like blogging. *grin*)

Monday: My Unedited Life

Truth. Absolute truth. There is such a thing, you know. And on this Monday morning, part of my absolute truth includes the following:

I gave my son cake for breakfast. Have you discovered Pioneer Woman and her food? She makes bazillions of dollars from her blog, and one of the things she does on said blog (there are several things) is share recipes. And these recipes... oh my. Let's just say that Lane Bryant is happy I discovered these recipes. They induce labor, increase libido, cure cancer, rid your face of fine lines and wrinkles, potty train your children, and pay for their college. I'm pretty sure. My favorite one, so far, is her Grandma Iny's Prune Cake. (Don't knock it til you've tried it.) I made it every weekend for awhile. And this morning, my son got a huge, carmelly slice on his plate. Happy kid, happy mama.

I rearranged our furniture on Friday and, as part of that, we disconnected the antenna. I decided not to reconnect it. No more PBS Kids. Auf wiedersehen, Curious George. Adieu, Sid the Science Kid. Ciao, Super Readers. How I will miss thee. I don't know how I'm going to survive the summer without you. But I always swore that I wouldn't be "that mom"... the one who had the TV on all day. Guess what? I am that mom.

I've decided to give up shampoo. As an experiment. Apparently, you can do a baking soda rinse followed by a honey rinse, and your hair turns into shimmery, shiny loveliness. In other words: not my hair. (Do you think it could make it curly? ) Anyway. It's supposed to take a couple weeks for the oil producers in your head to get the message that you've stopped pouring detergent on them and quit cranking out barrels of oil every day. I can tell I'm about to look like I haven't showered in weeks. Which brings me to my new best friend: hats. I'll let you know how it goes.

My scale doesn't lie. It isn't "off." The battery isn't running out. And my pants didn't shrink in the dryer. Darn the luck. And this despite my steady diet of aspartame.

Wish me luck! *grin*

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Oh What Do You Do in the Summertime?... Bubbles!

This is the first of my summer posts about creative, fun things to do with your kids during summer break! I'll share them as I find them, and let you know how they turn out.

Today? Bubbles!

One of our all-time favorite store bought toys has to be Bubble Oodles from Gymboree, we love these billions of tiny bubbles, and they don't pop right away so they're a lot of fun to play with. (Just make sure to wipe them off your furniture when they land there.)

But, in case you're like me and currently OUT of Bubble Oodles, and lacking the desire or money to drive to Gymboree to get some more, here are some "Make them yourself" bubble recipes:

*Basic Bubbles

1 cup water
2 Tablespoons dish soap

*Magic Bubbles
9 oz. water (just over a cup)
2 Tablespoons dish soap
1 Tablespoon glycerin

Please note that bubbles do best when made a day ahead of time.

Experiment with new kinds of bubble wands! Try cookie cutters, small colanders or sieves, cut holes in yogurt lids, etc.

Welcome to summer!